Saturday, 10 December 2011

Trains, planes and Christmas Activity...

Last week I decided to end school for the year. The kids were coming to the end of their settled behaviour and becoming excited about the upcoming Christmas celebrations. So we stopped and instead have been focusing on just that....Christmas!!

We started the week off by creating homemade cards for their close friends. Adele, Avril and Josef enjoyed this activity, pulling out everything from the craft box. This week my house has looked like a decorated christmas card too! LOL.

We also began to make some raffia pom-poms to string up as decorations, unfortunately we have not completed this project yet.

A very exciting event this week was the delivery of our tree from Christmas Trees Direct

The kids and I had great fun turning up the carols....and KID decorate the tree!!! The best way I believe :) lol. It was Damon's turn this year to put up the star, much to his delight. And it was great this year as Josef was big enough to join in. He soon learned how to attach the tree ornaments.

Josef is delighted at the moment with our Christmas train ornament. He continually runs to me saying 'mum, train...train!!!' I have put the train Christmas tree up high!! So I lift him up, he pushes the red button and off takes the train, up and down, the track, to varying Christmas carols. He thinks this is the best decoration in our home.

Damon has spent the week researching and designing jumbo jets. He is very keen on learning about the world, it's cultures, animals, foods and he dreams one day to have a world adventure. So now he is in the business of creating the aircraft that will carry him on these adventures :)

Josef has spent the week playing Thomas the Tank Engine. He loves trains, any trains. And each morning after breakfast he tries to round us all up for a game of trains.

Both the girls have spent this week creating paper doll families. It is so great that they are content making their own toys out of paper for their own games. I am very impressed and delighted. Adele went a step further and created a story board for her dolls. So she has also created a lovely story of their adventures.

This week I have been experimenting with some new breakfast ideas that I found on line (somewhere!!). I was convinced that there was no way the kids would eat my first dish of scrambled eggs mixed with mushrooms, garlic, spring onions and ham. But they loved it, much to my shock and delight.

My second dish was met with much comment and discussion before they were mixed and cooked. But once sampled, they were all gone in a flash!! Wholewheat banana and strawberry muffins...they were great!

Here is the recipe if you want to trial it too ($5 dinners):

Whole Wheat Banana Strawberry Crumb Muffins

• 3 ripe bananas, mashed
• 3/4 cup sucanat (I used organic rapadura sugar)
• 1 egg
• 2 Tbsp oil
• 1/4 cup applesauce
• 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
• 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp baking soda
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 1 cup mashed strawberries
• 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
• 1/2 tsp cinnamon
• 1/4 cup sucanat
• 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp butter or margarine
• Preheat oven to 350. Grease 12 muffin tins or line with paper cups.
• In a large stand mixer or mixing bowl, beat together the bananas, sucanat, egg, oil and applesauce. Beat in the whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Gently fold in 1 cup of mashed strawberries.
• In a small mixing bowl, add the whole wheat flour, cinnamon and sucanat. Cut in the butter with fork or pastry blender.
• Pour the batter into the greased muffin tin and then divide the topping evenly.
• Bake in the preheated oven for 18 to 22 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
• Let cool slightly before serving.
• Serve warm with butter.
• Makes 12 muffins.

Adele and Damon attended a Church of Christ hosted Christmas Kids night in. The theme was Christmas and Adele chose to dress as a Christmas tree. She put on a green leotard that nanny had given her with green tights. The leotard had red and green crepe paper stapled to it. She attached a thin red tinsel, with baubles attached. She tied gold tinsel in her hair, with a red bow and bells, lastly attaching a paper star. She looked great and won a $20 voucher for the most creative!! Well done Adele!! Damon was a bit more shy and was happy just to wear a christmas hat :)

We have been trying to follow to do a Christmas devotional as a family each day. We are not always successful at maintaining this but most of the time we have. And this is what we have been doing. I combine the activities from two devotionals - Family Nights for Advent and Christmas by Terry and Mimi Reilly, as well as Looking Forward to the Nativity: A family Christmas Devotional by Jon Farrar.

Our first activity was to set up an advent wreath. I chose the easy way with this. We used an advent wreath and bought five white candles to light over advent. The kids enjoy having them lit during dinner.

One thing I particularly like about Farrar's devotional is that he starts the readings off in Genesis with Adam and Eve, moving to Abraham, Jacob, Isrealites in the desert and so on. And each step points staight to Jesus, as he illustrates a Bible promise from each section of scripture related to the reading. He gives the big picture of the Bible, in short and very relevant, family friendly way. It is great to hear God's promises and to see that they are fulfilled. Each night there is a suggested prayer and then a family activity. We have talked about missionaries in far away lands, we have thought about giving up our most prized possessions, we have talked about Jesus being our passover lamb, we have created thankyou stars for our Christmas tree (to remind us to be thankful and grateful), we have looked at a dirty piece of paper and a clean one, thinking about our sin and how Jesus has washed away all our dirty sin. We have strung up a some bird seed whilst reflecting on what God has given us. There has been so many lessons for us to learn and time to reflect.

The other devotional by Terry and Mimi Reilly is a different kind of devotional from our other one. This one works by the week. It includes an opening prayer, activity time, snack, entertainment, reflection time and a closing prayer. I like this devotional because these activities can be spread out over the week and it really gets the family spending quality time together. So during our first week we set up our advent wreath, we read 1 Thessolonians 5:19 - 24:

New International Version (NIV)
19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil.

23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.

We also ate hot cinnamon donuts and drank flavoured milk, we played a family game of charades and we reflected on Joy, love and closeness to God.

This week I have agonised on how to show appreciation to those who have given their time and expertise to teach our family some new skills in 2011. I thought about buying something but decided that something made at home could be made with love and therefore more thought for that person. So we embarked on our first Gingerbread adventure. Thanks to $5 dinners who redirected me to, where there was a lovely Gingerbread nativity, with the characters made out of lollies!!! I was excited! So I informed the kids that we would spend the rest of the day making these presents. They were delighted! So off we went shopping.

We decided to make chocolate gingerbread, which I found at Making the gingerbread was easy, thankfully :). Before I started cooking, I created some paper templates for my nativity, stuck them together with sticky tape, to check. I used these templates to guide me when cutting the nativity shapes. They all baked up successfully.

It was the icing I had a problem with. I decided, against my better judgement, to make chocolate buttercream! instead of royal icing! But soon worked out my error and remade some new icing - royal icing. The kids enjoyed creating characters for the nativity scene. Standing them up was a little tricky, but we got there. The stables came together well, once I had the icing right.

It was a great activity. We ended up with three nativities of varying styles and conditions!! Unfortunately we didn't get to the fourth and will have to find something to make our fourth generous person this year!


  1. looks like so much fun :)

  2. Wow! You have been busy! It looks like you are all having a wonderful time. I love love love the kid-decorated tree, the paper dolls, and the gingerbread nativity. :)

  3. Thanks for stopping by...we have had a great week, and until I looked at the photos, I hadn't realised how much we had done :) We just love this time of year.