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On The Third Day Of Recycling

RECYCLED CHRISTMAS CARD BAUBLES

Recycle Your Christmas Cards

RECYCLED CHRISTMAS CARD GIFT TAGS

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RECYCLED WRAPPING PAPER THANK YOU CARDS

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What Is Santa Bringing You This Year?

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I don’t want to come over all saintly but I do get a little annoyed that all people seem to ask my little girl about Christmas is ‘What Is Santa Going To Bring You’

I’m really pleased that her first Christmas at big school is quite traditional and I’m really conscious about giving her the same experiences I had when I was growing up. When she’s older she can make her own decisions about how she wants to spend Christmas.

We went to the Christingle Ceremony last week- a Church of Wales service organised with the Reverend and her school. To me it encompassed everything I think Christmas is all about-family, celebrating our children and the wonderful qualities and talents they have, joining with your community and thinking of others-after all in essence that’s what the story of the bible is about. Believer or non believer.

I wouldn’t say I was particularly religious but I do think the values of Christianity are crucial to a happy life. You don’t have to believe in God to want to live an honest and kind life. That’s what I want my little girl to grow up understanding.

So I’m struggling to find ways of ensuring she knows that Christmas isn’t about the presents you get.

After the Christingle service she was given the symbol of Christmas-an orange with a red ribbon, a candle and sweets on cocktail sticks. The sweets represent temptation. As I was driving home I thought ‘Those sweets will not last two minutes in our house’. But I thought I’d give my little girl the responsibility of looking after the orange until Christmas. One sweet went immediately but I’m really proud to say that five days later the rest are all still there and she checks it every day. For a three year old this shows amazing restraint-I’m really proud of her. I hope it teaches a little about being patient and not being greedy.

Being three she has just started ‘I want, I want’ and tonight she asked for a certain book for Christmas to which I replied ‘We don’t ask for what we want-Santa brings us what he thinks you’ll like’

And I know Santa has bought her way too much. and I’m sure that Santa must be relatively poor after all that shopping.

So what is Christmas if not all about the gifts- here are some of my ideas:

  • Spending time together-go to church, go for a walk in a forest collecting holly or fir cones to spray gold, go to a pantomime or just play games together
  • Christmas is about magical stories-read A Night Before Christmas together, read the story of the nativity, read Peppa Pig Christmas stories-whatever takes your fancy.
  • Make your own decorations-baked sliced oranges in the oven, make a fairy from a doily, make felt decorations to hang. There’s loads of ideas on the internet for all ages.
  • Do something kind-donate to charity, visit the animal centre with gifts, visit someone who’s not very well or make someone a handmade present
  • Do all the fun things that make Christmas magical-talc footprints on the carpets, porridge oats left outside for Santa, carrot-milk and cookie left out the night before, the sound of jingle bells outside as the sleigh comes
  • Go for a walk and enjoy the changing seasons. Christmas is a good time to get wrapped up warm and go outside.
  • Get your little ones to help decorate cards and wrap presents.
  • Give unwanted toys to charity shops

Don’t get me wrong-my little girl is totally spoilt-my house isn’t bare of decorations and I’m no bah humbug. I just don’t want to lose some of the more important parts of Christmas.

Do you?

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TOP SANTA STUFF FOR KIDS

There’s a huge amount of fun stuff online to entertain your children -here are a few fab ideas for you to try this Christmas:

  • Get a personalised video message from Santa where he speaks their name, shows a photograph of them and says whether they’ve been a good boy/ girl this year. It’s free if you do it online but the app is £2.49. At the same time you can get a birthday message for Santa too where Mrs Clause kindly bakes your child a virtual birthday cake.
  • Add a free app called Fake Call To Santa– I love this one. On screen it looks like Santa is calling-there is a jingle bells theme tune and you press connect to take the call from Santa. My little girl loved this-we were having a ‘I’m tired and I’m going to rebel against life’ moment so I said “Santa won’t call if you are being a bit naughty”. With that I left the phone outside of the baby gate. Next thing she asked to go and clean her teeth before bed-snatched the mobile phone, ran in the corner of her bedroom and tried dialling Santa. Love it!
  • Don’t pay for a letter from Santa-there are tons of websites out there that give you access to letters you can amend and download to print. Add some porridge oats in a clear bag as reindeer food and you have a lovely little surprise.
  • Go on You Tube and type in Santa songs and get in the Christmas mood-warning! I did this for my little girl tonight and turned up the volume for a Christmas song-out blasted ‘There’s no presents for Christmas because you’ve all been little sh*ts! Ooooops that volume went down quickly

  • Use Pinterest for cool ideas of Christmas goodies to bake and make. You can never run out of inspiration

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  • Track Santa to find out how many days, hours and minutes are left until Santa arrives, check out the North Pole , play games and listen to music on one of the best Santa websites NORAD. Add to your favourites so you can visit this site easily as many times a day as you want.
  • Christmas colouring- keep them entertained on a cold or rainy day with printable activity sheets. I love these join the dot sheets-free and good fun
  • I found a great talking book too online about ‘How The Elves Save The Day’ -great for learning

I’ve loved writing this blog-I hope you’ve loved reading it.

Merry Christmas

Thank you to my work colleague for passing on some top tips

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Too Busy For Christmas?

 My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others.

Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?

Bob Hope

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My little girl started ‘big school’ a month ago and a little list of 30 children’s names appeared in her folder which she brings home every Friday. ‘Not sure why I’d need this’ I said as I stuffed it in the school stuff drawer. A few days later it dawned on me-it was so we could send Christmas cards to the entire class.

I went white and considered:

  • Not sending any
  • Buying pre printed stickers with a message on
  • Only sending to the names my girl mentioned
  • Losing the list

So I asked some other mums and found a mixed bag response-most of which made me laugh- one mum said she was sending cards to the class, one mum couldn’t be bothered to send any and one mum said she’d send to the whole school! Ok I draw the line at that one!

I’m a little bit embarrassed to admit Googling these sorts of questions but it’s been a long time since I went to school. So I googled about card sending etiquette.

I got a whole new set of responses to a question I am obviously not the only one to ask (Now feel better)- these made me feel so different.

  • One mum said that imagine if my little girl didn’t get any cards at all and everyone else did-how would she feel?
  • One mum pointed out that making the little ones choose who they send cards to is starting to segregate other children straight away
  • Another said that the children’s enjoyment of getting cards was well worth the effort.

So with all this advice what did I do?

Coming home from school on Friday my daughters bag had four Christmas cards inside-her little face lit up as I told them that they were for her and my little face (!) lit up too as I saw them. As I read out who had sent them to her she told me a little story about each of the children who sent it.

So after this heart warming experience I decided not to send any cards this year-I’m sorry but I am too busy.

I’m joking!!! I went out and bought a box of cards and wrote them all without a moan-my daughter added her own squiggles to some of the cards too.

I was reminded that life can be so busy that you forget what’s important-and that’s people. (Or animals)

I will try not to sacrifice people over time.

Today we popped down to see a friend who’s little boy has been very poorly-we took him some early Christmas presents and some chocolate and helped cheer him and his mum up.

We wrapped our Mr X present for a little 9 year old boy in a local orphanage and I explained to my daughter that some children aren’t lucky enough to have lots of presents so we bought them one.

I paid for three dogs in the dogs home to have a Christmas lunch too.

There’s so much more I want to do- I discovered a little boy called Josh on Twitter- a 13 year old boy who has been left severely disabled by a reoccurring brain tumour. I found him because we share a love of Zumba. This courageous little boy raises money for other children and his Twitter account is an inspirational account of a young boy who offers sincere gratitude to the people who help him or even just those who Tweet him.

His latest tweet shows how selfless he is:

My sats have dropped, had to have a trip to the hospital in an ambulance with blue lights flashing. Thank you @NWAmbulance for taking me

I will be giving a small donation to his charity to wish him a Merry Christmas.

So I hope I’ve inspired you a little bit to make sure you take time out to make someone’s Christmas but more importantly ensure that our children know that the real meaning of Christmas is not in the presents we get but in the love we give.

You can follow Josh on Twitter @JourneyJoshuas or donate via his website http://www.joshwilson.org.uk/2013-christmas-cards-now-on-sale/

Thanks so much for reading my blog today

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Will There One Day Be No Santa?

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You might think I caught Santa off guard with this photograph but no- it marked a moment for me where I felt actual sadness at the way our society has evolved to be one that is scared to trust people.

As I got my camera ready to take a photo-Santa spread his arms wide to show he wasn’t in contact with my little girl. I could cry now- my husband and I were there with two little elves. How awful that this man had to do this. It really did upset me. I know evil things happen but so do accidents and sickness- you can’t live life being untrusting of everyone.

Maybe one day there will be no Santa?

It got me thinking this afternoon-actually it got me thinking a lot about how parents can ensure their little ones are safe. And I’m afraid ignorance is not one of the options I came up with.

So what can a parent do?

The NSPCC launched a campaign called The Underwear Rule

Learn the Underwear Rule and you’ve got it covered

PANTS is an easy way for you to explain to your child the key elements of the Underwear Rule:

Privates are private

Be clear with your child that parts of their body covered by underwear are private. No one should ask your child to touch or look at parts of their body covered by underwear.

If anyone tries to touch their private parts, tell your child to say “no” and to tell an adult they trust about what has happened.

In some situations, people – family members at bathtime, or doctors and nurses – may need to touch your child’s private parts.

Explain that this is OK, but that those people should always explain why, and ask your child if it’s OK first.

Always remember your body belongs to you

Let your child know their body belongs to them, and no one else.

It can be helpful to talk about the difference between good touch and bad touch:

Good touch is helpful or comforting like a hug from someone you love.

Bad touch is being touched in a way that that makes you feel uncomfortable.

No one has the right to make them do anything with their body that makes them feel uncomfortable. And if anyone tries, tell your child they have the right to say no.

This can be a good time to remind your child that they can always talk to you about anything which worries or upsets them.

No means no

Make sure your child understands that they have the right to say “no” to unwanted touch – even to a family member or someone they know or love.

This shows that they’re in control of their body and their feelings should be respected.

If a child feels confident to say no to their own family, they are more likely to say no to others.

Talk about secrets that upset you

Your child needs to feel able to speak up about a secret that’s worrying them and confident that saying something won’t get them into trouble.

To help them feel clear and comfortable about what to share and when, explain the difference between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ secrets.

Bad secrets:

•make you feel worried, uneasy, sad or frightened
•may be asked to be kept in exchange for something
•bad secrets often have no end time.

Good secrets:

•can be nice things like surprise parties or presents for someone else
•will usually be shared in the end

It’s important that your child knows the difference because ‘secrets’ are often an abusers greatest weapon in stopping a child from telling anybody about abuse.

Phrases like “it’s our little secret” are their way of making a child feel worried, or scared to tell someone what is happening to them.

Speak up, someone can help

Tell your child that if they ever feel sad, anxious or frightened they should talk to an adult they trust.

A trusted adult doesn’t have to be a family member. It can also be:

•a teacher
•a grandparent, uncle or aunty
•a friend’s parent, or
•ChildLine

Whoever they feel most comfortable talking to, reassure your child this adult will listen, and can help stop whatever is making them upset.

The more your child is aware of all the people they can turn to, the more likely they are to tell someone as soon as they have a worry.

Remind your child that whatever the problem, it’s not their fault and they will never get into trouble for speaking up.

Many people tend to shy away from this subject and while I think you can’t protect your children against everything I do strongly believe that it is your job to teach them the ways of the world and how to deal with them.

Ignorance is not bliss- ignorance is danger.

Thank you to the NSPCC for helping parents to be powerfully knowledgable