Friday, 8 December 2017

Our Favourite Advent Books

Last week I shared that one of our Advent traditions is our advent book box... every year we add one to the collection, and any particularly Christmassy books we gather along the way get added to it too. A couple of people asked me to share some of our favourites... and so rather than share everything we've got in our basket, I thought I'd share the children's absolute favourites...

Dear Santa - Rod Campbell
This is such a cute little story, based on the classic "Dear Zoo" with a repeated refrain and lots of flaps to open! It's a fun read, and all our toddlers have loved it!

Song of the Stars - Sally Lloyd Jones
This is a beautiful story about the night Jesus was born... its poetic, and beautiful and breathtaking and the illustrations are stunning. I love the way Sally Lloyd Jones writes and its a real treasure to pass down the generations!

The Nativity Play - Nick Butterworth
If your children love Percy the Park Keeper, they'll love this take on the annual school nativity play. It's one of the children's absolute favourites, and our older kids still love it too. As an adult reading on, there are so many sweet, realistic, honest moments, and its a real heart-warmer. I highly recommend!

Annika's Secret Wish - Beverly Lewis
This is a new one to us this year, but it is stunning! A simple story of kindness and generosity, and set in Sweden, this story is full of the most beautiful illlustrations!

The Night Before Christmas - Clement C Moore
This age-old poem is a classic, and the rhyme and cute illustrations make it a firm favourite with even our smallest people.

The Christmas Promise - Alison Mitchell
This retelling of the Christmas story focusses on the promise of a Forever King. It's well written, illustrated in a vibrant and child-friendly way and has an accompanying advent calendar you can buy to go alongside it! It's a sweet read and the children enjoy all the books in this series!

Those are a few of our current favourites, but here are a few others that have been highly recommended to me and are currently sitting in my Amazon cart... just click on the images to get them from Amazon!

What are your favourite Christmas picture books???

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

The First Sunday // Candles and Cranberries

Advent is almost as anticipated an event in our home as Christmas is... the season of expectation, Ava has been slowly marking off the days, counting down to the countdown. On Sunday, the first Sunday of advent finally arrived!

A morning at church, followed by a quiet afternoon. Our Sunday afternoons are usually spent with family - literal, or church family - and so a quiet one is a rarity, but on this occasion it was perfect for finding our rhythm for Advent this year. We were trying something new...

There are still the four advent candles, one lit each Sunday throughout December, and the calendar hangs as ever on the wall, but we are trying out a new resource this year, "A Slow and Sacred Advent" by Jennifer Naraki, and I was excited to get going on it.

Week One: Jesus the Seed Brings Hope.

That little kernal, lying, apparently, dormant and silent in the ground, is slowly working a miracle! Advent - the time when all our dormant hopes and expectation gather momentum as we look forward to the coming of the Saviour!

And so, after some responsive readings which David and Ava led us through, and some interesting (and at points rather hilarious) discussion, we created our own "seed" garlands... using oranges, fresh cranberries and popcorn!

Only after we'd devoured our dinner of course!

It was a low-key, precious afternoon... the children pushing needles through fresh cranberries with the christmas music in the background and the completely random (so random!) chatter of small children.

Even Jonas got involved - though I think there was potentially more popcorn eating going on than garland creating!

At the end of the evening, the table was covered with the happy chaos of busy children... one of those messes that you can't be mad at, because you know that in the mess, your children are learning deep, rich truths and soaking up memories.

This beautiful season of expectation and hope

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Preparing for a Thoughtful Advent

Advent can all too often sneak up on me unawares, lost in a flurry of winter bugs, nativity plays and endless shopping lists. It's a season I often have wonderful intentions for... but the ideas and traditions are all too often pushed out of the way by events and activities on the calendar that seem more "pressing"...

Friday, 24 November 2017

Toy Ideas: Our Family Favourites

Writing a post like this feels a little ironic in the run up to Christmas... we are not huge money spenders when it comes to gifts... though we love the joy of watching our kids excitedly open their little parcels, we want them to be clear what Christmas is really all about... not about getting more stuff, but about receiving the gift of God's only Son.

As well as that, there is the fact that we don't want to be overrun by toys... I, and particularly David, are not fans of accumulating stuff, and so our Christmas Day is always preceded by what has come to be known as the "pre-Christmas purge" AKA - trip to the charity shop. Or rather, multiple trips to the charity shop...

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Homemade Linen Spray // Creating a Toxin Free Space

It was probably two years ago that I started label reading. Once you start, there's no going back. An article in the telegraph last week stated that "Our homes are reservoirs of a toxic 'chemical soup' that can cause asthma, eczema, allergies and other autoimmune disorders" - from our cleaning products, to our quick dry paint, we are filling our homes with chemicals that with new insulation advances, are now not being aired properly... its a well stated fact that inside our homes is up to 50% more toxic than the outside air. Its a chilling statistic.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Baby Tales // Seven Months

We are now officially in the second half of his first year of life... and it is mind-boggling to me. How did that teeny-tiny, fragile little thing turn into this chubby, roly poly little man?! Ever sturdier, ever bubblier, he is quickly becoming the little ray of sunshine in our home. He really is the jolliest little soul, and I'm so grateful that in the crazy day-to-day of life with four, this last baby of ours has just such an easy-going, sunny nature. He is a joy to have around, and views the world, with three older siblings, as a constant display of entertainment. There is always someone around to jabber away to, or be smothered in love by, or bundled by (name which sibling is responsible for which type of entertainment?!) and he takes it all in his stride.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Preparing our Hearts for Christmas // An Advent Devotional

Advent has become such a precious time for us as a family over the past few years... somehow savouring Advent has put the breaks on the Christmas rush and allowed us a slow descent into the festive season. Taking time to meditate on the arrival of Christ has helped us to refocus our priorities and remember what Christmas is really all about. It was a journey we began back when Ava was a baby - an attempt to teach our firstborn the true meaning of Christmas in an age-appropriate and tactile way, and they are traditions I have come to cherish.