Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Traffic Department.

A few months ago I discovered that my drivers license card had expired. Not only had it expired, it had expired in June 2008!! Oops!
I have, for the past few months, had every good intention of visiting the traffic department to renew it but the thought of visiting the traffic department does not hold pleasant memories for me. It never ceases to frustrate me with it's antiquated and inefficient ways. The thought of going there is enough to make me want to cry and the thought of going there with even 1 child leaves me pale and so it was that about 6 months went by and I still hadn't been which meant that I was knowingly driving without a license and therefore illegally (well it was illegal even when I didn't know but you know what I mean).

Monday morning - the first day of the holidays, was going to be the day but Monday came and went and the traffic department didn't feature on the invisible list of things to do. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday also came and went and finally on Friday I decided it HAD to be done. So I set off with 2 children to the pharmacy down the road to have photo's taken. While there my dad offered to look after Abigail which meant I could go with just 1 child which was MUCH better so I jumped at the offer!!
At about 10 a.m. we arrived at the traffic department, waited in a line to get the relevant forms only to be told that they do not accept debit cards. So with the forms in my hand I got back in the car and drove (illegally) to the petrol station round the corner to draw the money.
Finally, with everything I needed (as well as 2 stuffed toys, 1 blue blanket, 2 bottles of juice, 1 packet of Niknaks and about 8 books) I joined the back of the line for the next part of the procedure - the eye test. It's never a good sign when the 36 seat chair-queue is FULL!
It took about 50 minutes to get to the front of that queue for a 50 second eye test. After being fingerprinted I had to join another queue - this one probably had about 20 people in front of me! All in all it took about 2 hours - which as traffic departments go is not bad, but I just have to ask this question: has that floor EVER seen a mop and a bucket of water?! Niave spent quite a lot of time on that floor, despite my constant pleas for her to get off it - there really is nowhere else to go if you are 3 and have been queuing for 2 hours. She actually did really well, she didn't get lost and she didn't have a tantrum - which is what I felt like having and she sat on my lap and listened to stories for a large portion of the time. But she was filthy by the time we left. I was very glad to have just bought 2 packs of wet wipes - I gave her a bath in the car!! I felt so grimy when I left - if they let a bunch of pathologists loose in there they'd probably discover 11 new diseases. Yuck, it is a gross place. But, I have a temporary license in my possession and after my card arrives I only have to go back there in 5 years time (in my case 6 and a half!!) and by then Niave will be old enough to keep herself off the floor.
Oh boy, just had a thought - in 10 years time we'll be taking Abigail there for her drivers license! Hang on, in 10 years time I will need to be doing another renewal - we can kill 2 birds with one stone!!!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas is coming...

It's mid December and we're well on our way to Christmas!!

We've done advent calendars, sung carols, had nativity plays, been to Uncle Willy's, decorated the Christmas tree, hung our stockings over the fireplace(and placed the "knitivity" in their positions!) and we've been to see the lights around the neighbourhood.

Soon we'll be eating roast lamb and trifle (not together of course!!).

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Uncle Willy's Christmas Party

Last night we went to Uncle Willy's Christmas party. We used to go as children and I took Abigail and Niave for the first time last year. This year Willow, Chiara and Marley came along for the first time and my parents joined us as well. The party is pretty much exactly the same as it was 30 years ago!!
When you arrive you are taken to the "castle" by tractor. Marley was super - excited!!

Then, as you disembark you are quite literally ambushed by handfuls of hay! The hay fights begin!The common goal seemed to be to "get Oupa"!!But, run for your life because he will get you back!! This guy must be going through a fair amount of antihistamine!!When everyone has arrived Uncle Willy and his helpers call all the kids together, run through some "rules" followed by a magic show.Almost as soon as the magician has left, the marching band arrives. The children (and adults) clap along to various tunes after which they children (and adults!) are given a turn to play an instrument. Niave tried the drums and the trumpet/bugle. My dad asked Abigail if she had blown something to which she replied "yes, the cymbals"!!

When everyone has had a turn we get to march behind the band. After the band have left Noddy arrives in his car with Tessie Bear and Big Ears (Mr. Plod is there from the start). Noddy brings ice creams - before supper!! At supper time, the children are all given a cool drink. A huge 500ml Fanta, Coke or Sprite!! I knew without a doubt that Abigail would choose: The forbidden fruit!!
After supper they wheel in a piano and do carol singing. Niave sat by herself (i.e. without any of us) in the middle and sang every word of her favourite song - Away in a Manger!Then it's time for the magic to begin. We "blow out " the lights and Father Christmas arrives followed by the fairy. Then the thing that they've all been waiting for - handing out the presents.

Abigail received a Build-a-bear rucksack and socks - she is very into her Build-a-bear lately.Niave received a pair of fairy wings and a pair of "clippy clop" shoes! What more could a girl want?!

It's always a late night - we got home at 11pm!

End of an "era".

On the left is a picture of Niave on her first day of school at almost 2! On the right is a picture of the last day at almost 4!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Follow that star!

Friday was the last day of school. Traditionally on that day we have our end-of-year concert.
It usually consists of the children singing a couple of songs and off they go - I usually call it "Not a concert"!! But this year I decided to do things differently. Most of the group that I had this year have been with me for 2 years and are mostly 4 or thereabout so I felt that they were ready for something more. And so the first Little Plum Tree Nativity concert was hatched!!

It was a very simple concert with 5 or 6 songs and a little poem that they said in between which told the story. I tried to find simple songs with words they could actually pronounce and understand. One song went something like this: "The cow looked at the baby and said moo, moo, moo"! you can basically use any animal and fill in the gaps with the appropriate sound!! They were very sweet, and they looked so cute in their costumes. Niave was the star for the shepherds and kings to follow in a song called "Follow that star". She hasn't been well this week so was a little subdued but she did her bit and stayed in her spot when she needed to - well most of the time anyway! Here are some pictures:

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Marley turns 2.

Today Marley turns 2! He is our only boy cousin, nephew, and grandson!

He has the bluest eyes you've ever seen and would be the happiest little guy in the world if he received a vacuum cleaner and extension lead for his birthday!!! Oh and a lawn mower too!!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Postcards from Bethlehem.

Last night our church held a mini carol service for under 5's called "Postcards from Bethlehem"!
The children went dressed as a character out of the nativity and as the story was told the various characters went up onto the stage which was made to look like a stable. In between we sang carols and songs.

It was very sweet. Niave was so excited, she wanted to be Mary from the first time she heard about the event! Fortunately we have a very nice Mary costume which my mom made for Abigail for a similar event when she was about 4, so that was all sorted! Abigail wasn't going to dress up but when she heard that Willow and Marley were also coming and that Willow would be dressed up she decided to be an angel (actually, that was all that fitted - most of the dress-ups are sized for up to 6). And so it was that we set off with a Mary, an angel, a shepherd and a goat!

(The shepherd was crookless for fear that it would become a lethal weapon!!)

(the sweet wise man is Mitchell!)

After last night I have renewed hope that Niave may after all be able to sit still when required at school next year. Maybe it was the Mary outfit, but she sat so nicely for the entire time! She went up when it was her turn - I think she tried to put her baby in the manger but there was already one there!She hardly uttered a word and sang her favourite song Away in a Manger beautifully. So maybe she is growing out of her wild ways!!

Tomorrow night we have the "main" carol service in which Abigail is taking part, all in all a very busy weekend!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Advent calendars.

Every year the advent calendars appear at the tills at the beginning of November. Clever marketing because by the time you get to that point of your shopping trip and your child yells "pleeeeease can I have one of those?" you are most likely to say "yes, dear, of course you can!".

But this year I decided to do things differently. I wanted to make my own advent calendars. So, at about 22h45 last night I realized - "it's the last day of November!!" So there I was at midnight putting together 2 very basic advent calendars! I had to work with what I had which ended up being some coloured pieces of card cut into squares,and 2 brown paper bags which I bought for something specific (can't remember what) but have been very useful to have around.

I stuck the squares on like little pockets and wrote a number from 1 to 24 on each pocket. I had to use both sides of the bag!

The idea is to pop some kind of treat into each pocket on the corresponding day accompanied by a piece of the Christmas story which will be stuck up next to the calendar so that by the 24th the whole story is there. This is a small attempt to move away from the whole "Father Christmas" focus of Christmas and more onto the real reason for Christmas which is the birth of Jesus.

Last night, or rather early hours of this morning, I didn't have any treats in the house and all I could find was a bag of balloons!! So this morning they found a balloon in the pocket with a 1 on the front as well as the first piece of the story.
They seem to very excited, more so than with the store-bought variety. My goal is to make a much more creative and aesthetically pleasing calendar next year! Hopefully one that can be re-used every year. ( Better start making it in January - it might be done by December 2010!!)