The Christmas Stick

I promise that after this I'll shut up about Christmas for a while, but I do want to show you my lovely Christmas stick!

There are no photos of the the annual stick hunt this year. It was raining and we forgot the camera and we ended up doing most of our stick-hunting from the car. It was lovely though - it was quiet and damp and we explained to Asher what we were doing. We had fortified ourselves beforehand at our favourite French Patisserie with lots of coffee and delicious food. I don't think Asher really 'got it' at the time but later he worked it out.

When Asher went for his sleep in the early afternoon I got Michael and his friend (who stayed with us the night before) to help with stick arrangement. It was so much easier than the last two years - I think we are getting better at choosing sticks! They pretty much fell into place this time, without the need for a pruning saw or secateurs.

When Asher woke up we decorated the tree - he wore his 'Christmas hat' and I wished quietly that we owned some Christmas music on to add to the atmosphere (ideally I would find some Christmas music that didn't make me gag!). I'm happy with how it looks, but this year I really am going to buy some Christmas baubles in the January sales. I can't for the life of me face purchasing full-price Christmas decorations and I'd rather have my 'tree' covered in an eclectic mix of home made decorations (see the letters!) and things we've picked up on our travels (you can't see the stars from India or the glass angels from Ireland and Venice in the photo). Anyhow here it is, without presents as yet, and without the sun shining in the window that I was hoping for this morning:


eat at dixiebelle's: Eco-friendly Christmas (Updated and Re-posted)

Eeat at dixiebelle's(Updated and Re-posted) does the 'Green Christmas' post that best fits in with my view of the world - love it! I'll post the story of the Christmas Stick tomorrow...


A Big Move

It appears that my little boy took another step on the road to being a big boy today. When it was time for his day sleep he told me he wanted to sleep in the spare room. As I acquiesced I thought to myself 'whatever, as soon as he gets outa that bed he's straight into the cot' but he surprised me. He did get out of bed once and came and came and told me he didn't want a sleep. I said to him that if he got out of bed again he'd have to go into his cot. A minute or two later there was a crashing noise and some crying. When I went in he was rubbing his head and the venetian blind was up. I put the blind back down lay down next to him for a minute or two then left, while he was still 'reading' his new* favourite book. Ten minutes later when I went in he was asleep cuddling the book, and he slept beautifully for over two hours (I took the photo later on when I didn't mind if the quiet click of the camera woke him).
Tonight when bedtime rolled around he told us again that he wanted to sleep in the spare room so I found a top sheet (a queen bed sheet folded in two) and tucked one of the larger cot blankets in and he went to sleep without a peep (which is in itself unusual these days). When we went in to check on him he freaked us out by being horizontal right up the top of the bed and thus invisible in the weak light of Sanjay's mobile phone. When we found him we moved him down and tucked him in tightly and I'll let you know tomorrow if he sleep all night without incident.
This all means it's definitely time to clean up the bed I got off eBay (I'm thinking of painting it but I don't know if I will get around to it quickly enough), buy a new mattress** and wash the cute monkey sheets we purchased with him a week or two ago.
* I got the Christmas decorations down from their storage spot on Sunday. The two Christmas kids books we own were there conveniently with the decorations - I felt SO super organised and I wish I remembered where I read the tip to 'store seasonal kids books with seasonal decorations' so I could credit it here.
** I'm all in a quandary about getting a mattress. I definitely don't want a second hand one (blergh!) but I don't want a new one (off gassing! environmental impact!). Does anyone have any advice on buying an environmentally responsible new mattress? What about mattress protectors with no PVC in them? Help!



I'm already sick of the Christmas trees, tinsel and decorations in the shops and it's not even December yet. Recently ‘the presents’ have become a topic of conversation amongst my friends and I’ve been thinking a lot about gifts and giving and how I can get away from the rampant consumerism and environmental vandalism and still celebrate what Christmas means to me (not being a scroogy-humbug-killjoy , but hanging out with my family, eating, drinking and having fun).

One approach is, of course, to ‘just say no’ to gift giving , or perhaps all of the traditional Christmas traditions. That's not going to work for us because there is so much I like about the festive season. Another alternative, and one I think I might suggest to my family for next year is much like a workplace 'Kris Kringle' where names go into a 'hat' and everyone buys a present for just one person. This would solve two of the big problems - present budgeting and too much 'stuff' but I can't see my mother (in particular) being able to only buy a gift for one person in our family. It would also suck to get one of the really hard-to-buy-for people (such as my wonderful brother-in-law).

So, what I'm going to trial this year is *not* buying gifts for my group of friends (I must inform them! I don't want to receive presents either!), and Sanj and I are going to think really hard about what we buy for my immediate family (I would post my excellent ideas here, except I know two of them read this blog occasionally).

So, when I do give gifts, these are the things I'm going to try to factor in. Gifts should:

NOT add stress (so I’m not going to be making everything I give),
NOT add to household clutter (mine or other peoples)
SHOULD be environmentally and socially responsible
SHOULD be within budget
SHOULD be appropriate to the giver, the receiver and their relationship to each other

So I guess we come to ideas for gifts . I personally think, in the first instance we should be going for:
  • Gifts of time/skills: babysitting (!), help with anything from cleaning to computer back-ups.
  • Made gifts: there are too many things to list here: art, wearables (clothing and jewellery), food and treats and, only cheating slightly things like Snapfish calendars
  • Second-hand things (ideally from charity shops): Tricky – although buying second-hand means your gifts haven’t been manufactured …..they still add to the problem of clutter. Gifts should be chosen wisely here – I would always suggest second hand books and, cleaned up, toys can be excellent.
  • Donations: it’s nice to personalize donations to reflect the favourite charities or personal crusades of the recipient.

So what happens when none of those things are going to work? M

  • Consumables: wine and food, either made or purchased, art materials, beauty products (although it’s nice to be sure they are things people will really use – there’s no point giving bath products to people who shower or who don’t have a tub).
  • 'Experience' gifts: anything from the amazing (a skydive!) to the mundane (and agreement to go out for dinner together). I also count vouchers for massages or pedicures and tickets for movies or shows here too – this type of gift can be expensive but they don’t add to household clutter
  • Really super-useful: There are often things that you know people need textbooks for the student in your life , socks and underwear for someone like Sanj who never thinks to buy those things for himself. This can remove the surprise factor of a gift but it's quite possible to fit my original gift-giving criteria.

What am I missing? What else should be on my list? I have to say that after writing this post I'm much less 'bah-humbug' about the whole thing than I expected. In fact I'm starting to get excited about going to find our Christmas stick and about finding useful, inexpensive 'green' gifts for the family. Perhaps I'll try to do a bit of a round-up of some of the blogs I'm going to use for inspiration for greener Christmases.... Please let me know your favourites!


Christmas - without the 'Christ'

I just want to warn you that in the next few days I am going to go Scroogy-grump with Christmas gift blog post! In preparation, so you don't think I'm the meanest mother in the world I want to post about Santa, and how the our family Christmas traditions are evolving. I am not Christian, or at all religious (in fact, I get more deeply athiest by the year), but I really love the sense of tradition that comes with doing the same things at the same times every year and the family rituals that develop around that. I also like being able to have my own personal thanksgiving (we don't have Thanksgiving in Australia!) and that means, for me, making time to celebrate the important people in my life.

Asher will be two-and-a-half this Christmas, which means, he was eighteen months last Christmas and six months the one before that. Which means, I think, that this will be the first Christmas he has any hope of remembering. That also means that we are still creating family traditions and rituals!

I have never had a Christmas tree in my own home. We always had them when I was a kid, but there's something hard-to-put-my-finger-on that I don't really like about them. I'd like to say it was purely environmental concern but I suspect there is something else to it as well. What I do like is the tradition of some seasonal decorations and so we have developed our own thing - we go for a walk and find ourselves some 'Christmas sticks' which we decorate, with varying degrees of aesthetic success. This year I'm looking for some spray glitter to jazz up the sticks we find. I wish I could find a picture of last year's stick for comparison purposes, rather than only this really blurry one!

So, all of our Christmases have involved the three of us heading up the coast to see my family at Crowdy Head. This means a four hour drive and staying in their big crazy house in a tiny town with a harbour, two beaches and a fish co-op. Crowdy Head seems to known only to yachties, keen surfers (the break isn't great but it's a stopping-point on the way north) and fishermen. We spend out time up there eating and drinking, walking around the headland or the rocks and going to the beach.

Christmas eve we put Asher's Santa sack out for Santa to fill, and then during the night Santa comes by and fills it up with goodies. So far the tradition seems to be that Santa brings

  • A new outfit

  • A book

  • Some toys (usually of the handmade variety - last year it was a bag of wooden vegetables as well as a bouncy ball and a few other bits and bobs)

  • Something good to eat (when Asher was 6 months old he brought organic rusks!)

...which I think is pretty restrained for an Australian Santa.

On Christmas morning, just like when I was a child, Santa presents are opened up, then comes breakfast, then comes family presents, followed by lunch and an afternoon of lolling around. Sanjay gets so frustrated during the opening of the family presents - they have to be opened one-by-one in turn, and everyone has to spend a bit of time ooh-ing and ah-ing over every gift, so the process takes a fair while.

So far, this is working out for our new little family. Sanjay's family don't complain to me about us not spending Christmas with them, because, to be fair, we do spend every single Hindu festival with them. I think my dad probably misses out a bit, but he will usually volunteer to work on Christmas day to allow other doctors to spend time with their families. I think he feels like he spent so much of my childhood caught up with work that he can't ask us to give up the other things that we want to do at Christmas for him - but perhaps that's just my hopeful interpretation?


Potty Time?

Warning: this post contains multiple references to various exretory bodily functions. Read at your own risk.

Over the last month Asher has been gradually using the potty more and more often. We are at a stage now where he wees in the potty once or twice most days but he had never used the potty for a poo, until today. Not only had he not done a poo in the potty but he had never given us any warning, either verbal or behavioural, that he was about to. Today that all changed.

We were in a shopping centre, near toilets that he has been to with his little toilet-trained friend and he asked to go to the toilet. I assumed it was just a delaying tactic he was using because he'd seen a familiar toilet stop, but we went in, removed the nappy and he sat there while my back got slowly more painful (I need to hold him a bit so he doesn't slip down into the bowl) and I got correspondingly more impatient. About two minutes elapsed (it felt like ten!) with him telling me it was 'coming' whenever I asked him if he just wanted to put his nappy back on and finally he said 'it's coming out my bottom!' and 30 seconds later he did his first ever poo in the toilet. I was so proud of him, and so happy there was going to be one less poopy nappy to deal with! I was more than usually patient with my tired kid as we walked home.

We got home and had a sandwich for lunch and I put him to bed. He didn't go to sleep immediately and when he called out to me urgently I would go in and give him a cuddle and tell him to go to sleep. Once he had got his foot stuck in the bars of the cot, and once he had ripped the spine-covering off a favourite board-book. This whole process went on for ages (ummm, over an hour, which is not that unusual), and whenever I was not rescuing feet etc I was searching the 'net for nice cotton training pants. The next time he called out I was ready to be a bit stern - it was pretty much my last chance for him to have a day sleep that wasn't too late to interfere with bed-time. I realised as soon as I opened the door that all was not well. He had his nappy on but there we smears of what seemed to be poo on his cot sheet, and a big wet patch that could only be wee. I changed the stinky nappy, changed the sheets washed hands all the while trying to work out how the nappy could be on but poo could be on the sheets. Every time I asked Asher he just said 'gotta change it' which was undeniable. I put him back in bed for a little while, but next time he called out he told me he needed to do a wee in the potty so I let him out and now he's running around in big-boy undies playing with his Duplo.

So, perhaps I'll order some training pants and browse for toilet training tips but I won't start anything just yet.

* * * * * * * * * * *
A moment or two after I published this post I heard Asher in the bathroom. He's been in there earlier and got water everywhere so I went in ready to be irritated only to find my darling child with his big-boy undies around his ankles having done a wee in his potty, after removing his undies (key point!). I got him to sit back down so I could take a photo!

...and then again, another hour later he took himself in and did yet another wee. I think I will put the order for training pants through today after all - I think this is one of those things that is going to happen now whether I'm ready or not.


Holy 22" Monitor Batman!

Sanjay just got home from work and walked in with a brand new 22" monitor. To replace the one he destroyed. I am SO looking forward to being able to look at things all big like, and y'know be able to post pictures here, and things like that. Happy me. Proper post to come some time soon - maybe even today!

In the meantime: Bye-bye broken monitor and your "arty" yet annoying depletion of screen real-estate: