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Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

I haven’t written here because I needed a break; the last few months have taken a lot out of me. We moved house, with all those various stresses, I was working and studying during the same period, and fitting in endless medical appointments for this pregnancy. More recently, Alex has spent the last two months working insane graveyard hours that, while providing a bit more income, has generally just been bad for us.

Because he was sleeping all day and away all night, we were only just snatching conversations about household issues and holiday plans. He and Sebastian got to spend almost no time together, unless it was dealing with a tantrum or putting Sebastian down for a nap. I was trying to get Sebastian out of the house in the mornings so Alex could sleep, and organise Christmas plans and presents, and we were having no quality time together as a family. And that’s important.

We all suffered. Alex was constantly tired when he was awake and home, and I was handling all of the shopping, housework and parenting and reaching my last nerve. Sebastian became clingy and frantic and the tantrums were constant. And we just kind of plodded along like that for two months. Just surviving, not really living.

Christmas was another stress – we had some fantastic family time, but preparing for that and making sure everything was perfect took the last of my energy. The presents were beautifully wrapped and the tree trimmed and I made lovely food, but having a wonderful holiday season takes work.

I made sure I did something I’d like to make a tradition – on Christmas eve, Sebastian, Mum and I made gingerbread for Santa. It was an incredibly special thing, in its own way, just to stir and knead and roll the dough together, to cut the shapes and watch them bake in the oven. Sebastian was delighted because he adores gingerbread. And sure enough, Santa only left a few crumbs.

There is nothing in the world as wonderful as freshly baked gingerbread.

There is nothing in the world as wonderful as freshly baked gingerbread.

Christmas day for us was lovely – probably far too many presents for Sebastian, but he was delighted and watching him with family was a real pleasure. We ate far too much, I made Christmas pudding from scratch and made everybody admire it at length, and we had a peaceful evening, just the way I like it.

But what I really, really needed was the trip we took down to the Mornington Peninsula between Christmas and New Year’s. A gorgeous beach house to stay in, pleasantly warm and sunny days and nothing to do but rest.

I had gotten to the point where I desperately needed to recharge my batteries, and I got that chance. Alex, who’d missed Sebastian terribly while he’d been working crazy hours, spent lots of time with him and wow, I just slept so much. I had long, long naps and rests and afternoons in bed. I occasionally went to the beach or the park and did something fun, but mostly I just got rest. This pregnancy has been draining me so much.

The holiday period is special to me – a time to see family, to put effort into lovely food that everyone enjoys, finding perfect gifts for the people you care about and taking the time to unwind. Christmas has never had religious significance for me, but that doesn’t equate to a lack of meaning. Being a parent only intensifies that – being surrounded by family and spending quality, relaxed time together, Sebastian is the happiest I’ve seen him in months.

Life gets so busy, it’s easy to let priorities slide. For me, that’s time to relax and recharge with my family, so I feel grounded and close.

Sebastian with his train set on Christmas morning. He didn't move for two hours.

Sebastian with his train set on Christmas morning. He didn’t move for two hours.

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CHRISTMASCHRISTMASCHRISTMASCHRISTMAS.

I just had to get that out of the way. I’m excited for Christmas. On Sunday we finally, finally went and chose a Christmas tree, and decorated it with Sebastian, who calls the Christmas tree ‘delicious’. My mother gave us some lovely wooden Christmas decorations that light up too.

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We’re having Christmas with the Melbourne contingent of Alex’s family a couple of days before the 25th at our house, and spending Christmas day with my family on my parents’ farm. I’m making Christmas pudding and gingerbread men. Most of my shopping is done, and we’re slowly getting everything wrapped. No tree looks complete without presents underneath.

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For Sebastian we have one big present – an enormous Chuggington set that I actually bought secondhand, because that much track would cost a bazillion dollars new. He’s obsessed with trains so this is perfect. Otherwise, we have a few small presents – books, a tambourine, and a stocking.

The stocking is a big deal to me. I remember as a child, waking up when it was still dark and sneaking out to the lounge room to see what Santa had left, poking through the stocking while it was still dark. It was always filled with little [resents – a doll, lollies, plastic jewellery, toy cars.

I wanted to continue this tradition with Sebastian, so I’ve been collecting little toys for his stocking for the last couple of weeks. Here’s a glimpse at what I have:

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Asides from the Chuggington die-cast figures, which go with his big present, none of this cost over about $4. In the picture there are:

  • Stickers, both foam and plastic
  • Crayons (his crayons constantly break so more are always welcome)
  • Magnets – you can’t quite see in this picture but there’s a cool metal frog and a jointed lizard on a spring
  • Bubble wand
  • Bead bracelet and necklace in multicolour, and metallic bead necklaces
  • Tiny rubber duckies
  • A crocodile that goes with a zoo toy set he already has
  • Chuggington figures
  • Toy truck with a toy truck on the back
  • And an alphabet puzzle that will not actually fit in the stocking.

I always wanted to put a food treat in the stocking, and have been scratching my head as to what I could put in that isn’t pure sugar, and it finally occurred to me this afternoon – a small package of unflavoured popcorn. That will be a treat because we never have it, but won’t fill him up with sugar or salt, plus I can make it myself and put it in a cute paper package.

I’ve seen other lists for toddler stocking stuffers put on Pinterest, but I didn’t like them because they were gender segregated. I mean, Sebastian LOVES necklaces, but that’s something that would normally only end up on a girl’s list. So here are some more ideas for non-gender specific stocking stuffers for toddlers:

  • Sunglasses or novelty glasses
  • Bug chalk for outside or pavement drawing
  • Finger paint
  • Bouncy balls, not too small
  • Sports whistle (this was last year’s favourite from the stocking)
  • A set of keys
  • One of those small weird soft cat/dog toys that moves when you pat its back
  • Tiny board books
  • Bath stickers
  • Bath toys of any type, or even a novelty shaped bottle of bubble bath
  • New colourful toothbrush
  • A funny hat
  • A simple doll/figurine with no small parts
  • Toy cars
  • A special Christmas teddy
  • A pack of cards with interesting pictures – toddlers can’t play, but they love to look!
  • Alphabet fridge magnets
  • A torch with an easy button
  • Special tree ornament
  • Kaleidoscope
  • Stamps and ink (for supervised use only)
  • Drawing pad with a nice cover
  • Family photo in a frame (with no glass)
  • Cool drink bottle
  • A wallet or purse, just like grown ups!
  • Tubs of Playdoh
  • Home made biscuits

What else would you add to your toddler’s stocking? If I had more time I think I could make a list a mile long, but only so much will fit in the actual stocking!

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It’s almost Christmas and I’m fighting the urge to yell with excitement in people’s faces about baking and decorating. I am one of THOSE people at Christmas. I have only resisted the urge to deck my house in tinsel and glitter this long because all our decorations are in storage at my parents’ farm and we haven’t actually bought a tree yet.

Christmas is a problem for me because I want to do Projects. I want to bake all the things, craft ridiculous Marth Stewart-esque decorations and produce elegant and unique handmade presents for family and friends with kitsch wrapping paper I upcycled from butcher’s paper and ribbon or something. The reality is that no matter how much time I seem to have on my hands, there is never enough time for this kind of crap. Plus I have other non-Christmas Projects on the go that I should probably not drop over the holiday season in case they never get picked up again.

Christmas is different now that I have a child – it’s exciting again, full of magic and hiding presents and hanging strings of gold beads on my defenseless son the tree. My first Christmas with Sebastian was one of the best of my life – Alex and I went to my parents’ farm on Christmas eve, and after 5-month-old Sebastian went to sleep we built a terrible gingerbread house, and Alex and I slow-danced to the soundtrack to The Singing Detective – Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters singing ‘Accentuate the Positive’ and ‘Don’t Fence Me In’.

Sebastian was too small to understand Christmas or Santa or presents that year, but we dressed him up in a silly Santa’s Helper outfit and took him for pictures with Santa. On Christmas day he just wanted to eat the wrapping paper. Ultimately it didn’t matter that he didn’t understand Christmas because we did, and it was special for us just because of all the Christmas’s to come.

Christmas 2010Sebastian 2010, ready for photos with Santa

Now Sebastian is starting to get to the age where he understands Christmas, he understands decorating the tree and presents and yummy food, and I want to make it SO. DAMN. SPECIAL. Thus, the Projects. I’m really having to limit myself to ideas I think can be done quickly and are feasible.

I would like to make gingerbread people with him, because gingerbread is like crack to him. I would like to bake reindeer cookies with him, the recipe for which I found in a Christmas baking magazine. I would like to make a felt Christmas tree that he can play at decorating:

Felt Christmas Tree for toddlers to decorate, click the pic to get to the original blog entry!

Felt Christmas Tree for toddlers to decorate, click the pic to get to the original blog entry!

And of course I would like to decorate a tree, and hang a wreath on the door, and cook a pudding for Christmas day, and possibly a thousand other things that are not terribly realistic. Not when I have other Projects on the go currently – curtains for the whole damn house, sewing maternity tops for myself and toys for the new baby, completing the decorations for Sebastian’s room (including folding 100 paper cranes). Not to mention there are presents to buy and wrap, cards to write, parties to go to and all the other things you commit to at this time of year that aren’t actually Projects but still take up huge chunks of time.

This year is about prioritizing – lovely, small Projects that I can complete in a day, take happy snaps of Sebastian with, and not leave lying around the house half-finished until next Christmas. I’ll keep you updated on how I actually go with this, keeping in mind how much time I can waste on Pinterest finding adorable crafty stuff I vow I’ll do.

What are your Christmas Projects and how do you keep from getting distracted? What gets priority?

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