Saturday, December 31, 2011

Simple ones are the best

With our time in Sydney drawing to a close My Muddy Tribe are all very tired and
getting crankier by the second. We have had a busy week and when we're at Nana and
Grandpa's house they go a bit stir crazy inside, so we've cracked open a few
presents to keep them occupied outside.

A Mum from home once said to me the best presents are the ones they open and can use
straight away, because they're not waiting for batteries or help from Mum and Dad,
they're just into them and occupied!

These are the presents that have entertained My Muddy Girls the most this week in
their down time. Bubbles, Bubbles and More Bubbles. Of Course the Water Play, while
needs some help to plug in the hose, has kept them plenty entertained.

Thank You Aunty Laura

Thank You Chrissy

Thank You Annie and Maggie

Challenging hopping in water!
What are your hit presents?
How do you keep the kids entertained when they're over tired and not ready for bed?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Home Away From Home

Being a born and bred Sydney-Sider who now lives in the country (and still on occasion pines for my pre-country life) I am always harping on to my poor Muddy Hubby 'I want my girls to go to Sydney', 'I want them to have some of the experiences I had growing up', 'I don't want them to end up in town for the rest of their lives, having never experienced anything different'. It's not that I wouldn't be happy for them to live in our town the rest of their lives, but I want to ensure they have the OPPORTUNITY for other experiences and adventures and other lifestyles, before they settle down.

I am very blessed to still have my parents living in Sydney, as well as a wonderful circle of friends and extended family in Sydney and Newcastle, so we are able to visit and explore the City and the Coast a couple of times a year. My most favourite time is this time of the year, as many friends are not working and are free for a wonderful catch up. We can generally get from A to B without too many traffic hassles or public transport hassles and the weather is generally pretty good, warm, but not Hot like home!

For me this week in particular has felt like coming Home (but now with a Muddy Hubby and 4 Muddy Kids), slipping back in to a comfy place, finding it hard to believe that I haven't lived here for 10 years! We have taken the Muddy Tribe to the parks I played in when I was growing up (with much newer and updated equipment), travelled up the coast and been to the beach, we've been to the fish markets and the local shops, had some delectable morning tea and GOOD QUALITY coffee. Most importantly though we've had some precious and memorable time with family and friends, providing our Muddy Kids with the opportunity to form 'City' friendships with the children of my friends. Something very special, which I hope will continue to grow over the years ahead.

Tomorrow we're off for some more exploring of the City, to show our Muddy Tribe just what Sydney and life outside our farm has to offer.
Bargaining for a good price!

A newly rebuilt park!

Certainly more exciting than the old swings when I was a kid.

Muddy Pixie taking it all in at the beach.

Showing the Twins how to play in their new Kitchen.

Group Hug!

On the Beach

Muddy Bubby's First trip to the beach.

Fun on the swing with Muddy Hubby

What's your favourite piece of Sydney?
Do you have a place that feels like a home away from home?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Drinking Fountain

OK, so living on a farm we have LOTS of ways to entertain ourselves, plus living 30k's out of town we don't really get in to go to the park so much, so when we come to Sydney My Muddy Tribe LOVE to visit the local parks, as well as our friend's local parks.

On Monday we visited Aunty Laura and the wonderful park across the road from her new house. My Muddy Puzzler had her first experience with a Drinking Fountain. I never realised how hard they were to master, until she tried to give it a go! We really should get out more to get some practice in. Not sure how Muddy Preschooler will go with the Drinking Fountains at school next year?

What's your favourite activity at the park?
Any tips for teaching kids to drink from fountains?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Passing on the Tradition

For as long as I can remember boats have been a part of my life. There are photos of me strapped into a seat that is strapped onto the deck of Dad's old yacht when I was only a month or so old. There are countless stories and photos about sailing and the harbour in my parents household. The one thing that has remained the strongest though, even since I've long left home and had a family of my own, is that on Boxing Day everything for my Dad stops so he can watch the start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. Boxing Day Lunch would never start until the boats had cleared the heads and were heading south.

Yesterday was no different, Dad turned to watch the start while the rest of us tucked into our lunch. The one thing I noticed though was that my Muddy girls were fixated by the yachts, asking countless questions about when the race was going to start and where they were going, what happens on the boats, 'do they sleep?', 'how can they see at night?' and most importantly 'Where is Tasmania?'

For the remainder of the day my Muddy Preschooler kept asking where the boats were up to, how long would they race for, will they keep racing through the night. We patiently answered her questions, but she wanted to see the boats and could not understand why they weren't on TV until the end of the race. Grandpa patiently sat them down at the computer and pulled up the official website showed the Muddy Girls where all the boats were up to, what the wind was doing, what speed they were travelling and what he thought was happening in race tactics. It warmed my heart to see my Dad passing on his love of sailing to my Muddy Girls, and I hope that they remember even a little of the knowledge he's imparting, and continue the love of the Sydney to Hobart once a year.

Do you watch the Sydney to Hobart in your house?
What are your family traditions being passed down?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Done and Dusted

Well today is Boxing Day and that means Christmas is pretty much over for another year! It was a big couple of days with the long drive to Sydney, the kids making sure Santa had something to eat and drink and that Muddy Preschooler put out the Reindeer Food she made at Day Care.

Then there was the great unwrap! Santa was very generous to all of us this year and we are very grateful we are so lucky. The Muddy Tribe have all been enjoying their presents and today is, as always, a day for leftovers and watching the start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

Also a day for really getting into all the presents! So far today we've made cards with Muddy Preschoolers Card Kit, taken a million photos on the cameras they got from Santa, followed the Zhu Zhu Guinea Pig around (he's currently missing in action somewhere) and we are about to put together the train set and the jewellery kits! New toys are always good for distraction!

We took lots of photos in the morning, but not so much in the afternoon, as everyone was a bit weary. Below are some snapshots of the great unwrap for Muddy Bubby's first Christmas.

Happy Christmas and our Muddy Family hope you had a Lovely Christmas Day and are enjoying time with family and friends.

How do you spend your Christmas? Is it Traditional or more Modern?

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Gingerbread House

So the other thing I'm a scaredy cat about is building a Gingerbread House. I would LOVE to make one that's super fabulous and even one tenth as brilliant as Zumbo's but it's not going to happen. I have only just mastered making Gingerbread biscuits so there's no way I'm ready for the house. Despite this my Muddy Sister-in-law always strongly encourages me to make one. Having made several herself including ones from scratch she is quite confident in her Gingerbread abilities.

This year my Nephew's Preschool had a fundraiser and they were selling Gingerbread kits. So My Muddy Sister-in-law kindly bought one for my Muddy Tribe! She posted it in the mail and surprisingly it arrived intact. You just needed to buy the lollies to decorate it.

I started to get a little apprehensive, but lo and behold a change in plans meant that I was in Sydney and My Muddy Mother-in-law made it with my Muddy Girls. I am forever Thankful for this! I know it's probably a bit over the top, but I know that with my shaky hands I'd crack the roof or my walls wouldn't meet up, then I'd get all cranky that it wasn't working and the whole thing would go in the chook bucket. So really it's been a good thing that I couldn't do it with the kids.

Last night Muddy Hubby Cracked it open for the Tribe and the Muddy Kids (and Muddy Hubby too I think) have been on a sugar high ever since! We took some photos to send to My Muddy Sister-in-law, they were a one handed effort as Muddy Bubby wanted in on the action too!

Maybe a Gingerbread House needs to go on my to do list for 2012 Christmas, as I slowly overcome my anxiety over making one. Or maybe I just need to learn how to pipe icing properly first, small steps.

Have you ever made a Gingerbread House?
Do you have any hints and tips?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mint Slice Balls

Tomorrow is the last day of Day Care for the year, and the last day for my Muddy Preschooler for good. How do you say Thank You to people who have cared for your child for the last 3 years on a weekly basis, they've helped shape her from a VERY shy and anxious little girl into a more confident little girl who is now able to make friends and have a lovely time. They fought the day time sleep battle so she wasn't a total ratbag when I picked her up late after work. They have helped with the toilet training and all the little preschooler dramas. When I put it this way, baking for them probably isn't a big enough Thank You, but for now that's all I have to offer.

Today my 3 Muddy Girls and I did the final bit of cooking in our second round of Christmas baking for Thank You and Christmas presents. Our final is 'Our Favourite' which is what my Muddy Preschooler says every time we cook something. Muddy Pixie calls them Mince Balls and rolls them into Snakes, Muddy Puzzler is so focused on smashing the biscuits that she forgets that she has to share. They are Mint Slice Balls, and I tend to only make them at Christmas because they are so very delectable that Muddy Hubby and I would be the size of a house if I made them more regularly, as we'd sit and eat them all.

You need:
1 Twin Pack Mint Slice Biscuits
1/2 Tin Condensed Milk
1/2 Pack of Dessicated Coconut

- Put all the Biscuits in a bag and smash them up as finely as you can. The chocolate and mint filling will stick to the bag.
- Put the biscuits in a bowl and mix in the Condensed Milk and Coconut. You may need to add more coconut if the mixture is a bit runny.
- Once you have a fairly firm mixture take a teaspoon size amount and roll into balls
- Place in the fridge or freezer to set
- Enjoy!

These can also be frozen and pulled out for a later time.
Muddy Puzzler helps to smash up the Mint Slice Balls

Muddy Pixie has a different smashing technique

Muddy Preschooler just wants her photo taken

Throw it all in a bowl and mix

The finished product

How do you say Thank You to the carers of your children?
Do you have a 'only for special occassions' recipe?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Santa Photo

OK so I'm going to come right out and say it, when it comes to Santa Photos I'm a bit of a scaredy cat. I can't stand the thought of getting my kids all prettied up, taking them the 100km to our nearest Santa Photo opportunity at Myer and have them freak out or not smile or the worst for me (because I don't like having my photo taken when I'm stressed out because my children won't behave) I actually have to get into the photo myself. So because I'm a scaredy cat I've never taken my kids the 100km to even attempt a Santa Photo.

To make up for it though each year we go to the local village Christmas party where the same Santa has been handing out presents for about 15 years! He's a skinny Santa with a bit of padding and a very daggy Santa suit. He arrives each year on the local Fire Truck with lights and sirens going. He rings his bell, sits down next to the tree and begins to hand out presents (parent provided of course). The first year we went with Muddy Preschooler we didn't even do the present thing, let alone a photo.

The next year we did a present but she refused to even sit next to Santa to get it, clinging desperately to Muddy Hubby.

Our Muddy Pixie on the other hand didn't care whose knee she was sitting on, she just had eyes for the present.

Then in 2009 Muddy Preschooler and Muddy Pixie were brave enough to walk up to Santa and get their present but wouldn't sit on his lap. While Muddy Puzzler was the one who only had eyes for the present.

2010 was a better year for us, EXCEPT for the fact that Muddy Hubby and I had to sit in the actual photo, which wouldn't have been so bad except that Santa I discovered likes to snuggle up to the Mums more than the kids. I'm thinking Santa may not be our Village Santa for too much longer.

 This year we had another party to go to, so we didn't make it to the Village Christmas Party to see Santa, so we didn't have to sit encourage and cajole the kids to go up to Santa, let alone sit in the photo. The way I figure it, when they're ready to go and talk to Santa when we walk past him at the shops or not hide behind my legs when he's around they'll be ready to go and have the Santa Photo experience!

What do you do about Santa photos?
Do you have to get in them too?
Are they a tradition in your house?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Jumping Castle

When I was growing up, Jumping Castles looked like this - made out to be a castle! I can remember having hours of fun jumping on them at school fetes, shows having a ball until a bigger kid jumped on you and it all ended in tears.

At our recent Preschool Christmas Concert and Fete we had hired a jumping Castle and Inflatable Slide (Bubbles they call them in the business!) and man were they cool. The Jumping castle was like a whole world of it's own with slides and animals to wrestle and stairs to climb, It was massive. None of this old fashioned jumping around a flat rectangle and running from one side to the other. On these ones you could go up, down, under, over, through, so much fun! My Muddy Preschooler and Muddy Pixie could have stayed on their for hours, except their session ended and they had to get off! I'm guessing they call them Bubbles now because they definitely don't look like a 'castle' anymore.

What I've been really surprised about though is the growing amount of small backyard jumping castles. They appear in Toy Catalogues all the time and I know several families that have one they will pull out for parties, or if the kids are bored, if it's wet they'll move the car out of the garage and set it up in there. I was a bit of a cynic about these backyard castles, I thought they were a bit over the top, then we had a huge amount of kids coming for a birthday party/Christening and we borrowed our neighbours backyard one, and it was the BEST thing we did. It kept our kids entertained for hours! Obviously it's not for the 'big' kids, but for kids the age of My Muddy Tribe they were perfect.

Yesterday we went to a big Christmas Party and we again borrowed the Jumping Castle, I think I saw My Muddy Tribe for all of about 5 min intervals once the Jumping Castle was set up! So I've had to pack my cynicism away and admit that for some occasions the backyard Jumping Castle is not over the top, it's an ingenious way to entertain the kids! They may not be as I remember them, but they still provide hours of entertainment and it still all ends in tears when the big kid lands on you.

Muddy Preschooler on the Jumping Castle (note the animals and slide in the background!)

Muddy Pixie and Muddy Preschooler at the Fete

The Backyard Jumping Castle, too much?

What do you remember about Jumping Castles? Are they Over the Top with Backyard ones?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Advent Calendar

When I was growing up we didn't do the Advent Calendar thing. I think one year I got one of those Chocolate Advent Calendar things, but other than that nothing. I knew no different so it didn't really matter. Now that I have my own kids it's a whole different story. I didn't want to do the Chocolate/lolly advent calendar things. I thought about the little gifts you open, the ones with drawers and the ones with little pockets. I ruled them out as I figured I needed to put things in; that either I'd made (not really my cup of tea) or that they could eat (see avoiding chocolate/lollies above). So when I came across a lovely little Advent Calendar at my Card Party I decided that this was the way to go for us.

They had several little Advent Calendars, one modern day one with a town house, a festive foods one which had a festive food for each day and an explanation behind why that food is associated with Christmas time. I thought I'd start with the traditional though for my Muddy Girls (Muddy Bubby is a bit little yet, but seems to sit and listen each night!).

The one I picked was the stable scene and each day you count down you add another piece to the picture, so for the last couple of nights we've added each of the 3 wise men. It has the Shepherds, the Archangel Gabriel, some animals that live in the stable and the last three pieces to go in are Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus. The Muddy Girls absolutely LOVE it, they take turns each night getting it off the hall table where it lives and they each take a turn to put a piece in, as we tell the story of The Nativity. They ask questions and remember who each piece is and why they are all at the stable and how they got there (following the star). It's pretty solid cardboard and I'm hoping it lasts a few years, as it's been really nice to sit as a family and talk about the real Christmas story, and not focus on the whole Santa and Presents thing, as I think we're going to get lots of that in years to come as they get older. I'm hoping they'll retain some of this information for future reference too!

It sits on the Hall Table and during the day the Muddy Girls check it out and ask questions.

Do you do Advent Calendars in your house?
What's yours like?