Tinkles the elf admires my babies…

Well I think my babies were very cute so I can see why Tinkles would sit and stare at their photos this morning!

Tinkles the elf sitting on framed baby photos

Christmas treasure hunt – Christmas book review

Christmas treasure hunt Christmas treasure hunt book review

by Sarah Powell
designed by Emma Jennings
St Martin’s Press, London, 2014

Age group: preschoolers

Size/format: board book

A cheerful looking baby book full of Christmas images that we gave to a young friend last Christmas.

The story

A search and find book for babies and toddlers. There’s no story as such!

My review

This is a very cute book, enjoyed by adults and loved by the one year old we gave it to. Not surprisingly, it is very simple given the age group.

Santa page within the Christmas Treasure Hunt

There are seven sets of images (such as Santa and some Christmas stockings) where one image is a little different to the others. There is also a teddy bear ‘hidden’ on each page.

It is a lovely first book, and could be read throughout the year, not just at Christmas time.

Would I recommend it? Absolutely – it is lovely and develops observation skills as well.


That’s not my elf – Christmas book review

That’s not my elf…

by Fiona WattCover image of 'That's not my elf'
Illustrated by Rachel Wells
published by Usborne Publishing, London, 2016

Age group: baby to toddler

It was my eight year old son who grabbed this book off the shelf last night and begged me to read it. And then demanded to touch the textured part of each page.

So while these may be designed for the youngest of children, it has appeal to many age groups!

The story

A series of Santa’s elves are shown, each with an explanation of how it is different to ‘my’ elf. Each page has a different texture included for little fingers to explore.

My review

In line with “That’s not my reindeer“, this is another Christmas addition to the “That’s not my…” series of books, my children and I enjoyed reading this together.

Sample page from 'That's not my elf'

The pictures are cute and brightly coloured which makes the book appealing to all. I like that these books are interactive and teach young children various adjectives, and think that this should be on every baby/toddler Christmas bookshelf!

That’s not my reindeer – Christmas book review

That’s not my reindeer!

by Fiona Wattcover image of "That's not my reindeer" board book
Illustrated by Rachel Wells
published by Usborne Publishing, London, 2007

Age group: baby to toddler

A Christmas addition to the “That’s not my…” series of books, my children and I enjoyed reading this together. My family has long loved this series of books, starting with the ‘that’s not my monster’ given to my son as a baby. We’ve even played ‘that’s my …’ as a game on long drives! So I could not resist That’s not my reindeer when I saw it in a shop 🙂

The story

A series of reindeer are shown, each with an explanation of how it is different to ‘my’ reindeer. Each page has a different texture included for little fingers to explore.

My review

picture of a reindeer with sparkly bells on his reindsIt is a board book, with large, colourful images and a short, repetitive sentence on each double page spread. To make it even more appealing to young children, each reindeer has a touchy-feely component such as the soft fur on the front cover and some sparkly bells. This is a great way to teach some vocabulary as they see and touch something while hearing the word.

There were no surprises in the book for us, and it obviously doesn’t have a complex plot to comment on, but we all enjoyed it anyway – and my six year old liked being able to read it herself. It is not overtly a Christmas book, although there are some fir trees in the background, so it can be enjoyed all year round. At 6 and 7, they questioned how bells can be too sparkly and instantly took the red nosed reindeer to be Rudolph – and their favourite!

Definitely a nice book for a baby or toddler, and likely to be enjoyed long past two or three years of age. I’m glad I grabbed it! I thoroughly recommend it for anyone after a baby/toddler Christmas book.

Aussie kids can get inclusive Lego now!

Back in April, I shared the news that Lego was bringing out some inclusive Lego – and hoped that it would soon be available in Australia, or at least here in time for Christmas. I think showing our kids how diverse human life can be is a great start for making our society more tolerate and happy.

Well, yesterday, I was in our local shops with my kids so we had to visit the Lego aisle. And to my delight, I spotted a Lego playing in the park set*.

the box of a new Lego set which has a wheelchair and a baby.

Inclusive Lego is now available in Australia!

As you can see from the box, this set includes:

  1. a child in a wheelchair
  2. a man pushing a baby in a pram
  3. a man playing in the park with kids
  4. a woman mowing lawns
  5. a woman painting

And it wasn’t just me who liked this set.

My eight year old son was happy about the wheelchair and bike, and said he wants this set.

My fifteen year old daughter loved it – her own words were that it is great to see inclusive Lego and it was her who noticed the women working and a man caring for children. She nearly bought it for herself and left thinking about getting it next time…

My six year old was over the moon about there being a baby and a pram (she is obsessed with babies, as noted in her preference for a baby Lego advent calendar!)

I am proud my kids appreciated the value of this set – I might just have to give it as a combined Christmas present this year!

Would you look for this set to give any Lego fans in your life?

* I still can’t find this set online in Australia, but hopefully it will come to Aussie online toy stores soon, too.o

Gifts for new parents

Having 5 kids, I know about babies and how to care for them 🙂 I also know how tiring a new baby can be – especially for people who are learning who to do the practical things as well as coping with the physical and emotional aspects of new parenthood.

baby in santa suit and hat holding a gift under a Christmas tree

As cute as babies are, remember their parents at Christmas time, too!

So after reading Marissa’s story of loving the babysitting voucher, I thought I would share some gift ideas for new parents as family and friends often want to help but have no idea how…

There are 2 concepts – one is to give them some pampering to refresh them and remind them they are people beyond parents – but I’m just going to give ideas for helping them as parents.

    • a bag of nappies – most cloth using parents will still use disposables for holidays or big outings
    • a subscription to a nappy wash service
    • a basket of items such as baby wipes, baby shampoo, laundry detergent, clothes pegs, baby socks/tights and cleaning cloths
    • vouchers – think of babysitting, cooking a meal, cleaning the house, doing some clothes washing, buying groceries, mowing the lawn and weeding. For an even bigger gift, give them a collection of vouchers…
    • photo frames and albums are always good – but modern alternatives may be gift vouchers from a printing service or spending some time putting their photos into folders (on their computer or an online service)
    • look ahead and give the baby gifts for winter  – not only does it save them going out in the cold, I always found that I got so many summer clothes many weren’t used much and winter was expensive

computer, tablet, mobile phone beside a row of Christmas gift boxes

  • find a way to help them communicate with the outside world – top up their prepaid phone credit, pay for membership at an online parenting site or a play group, teach them how to use Facebook, advice on a good phone plan, etc li>
  • for very new parents, maybe get with some others and buy a high chair or booster seat (like a high chair for when they’re out) – or give them money/voucher towards it
  • ask what they need! Radical idea really to ask but it’s better to ask before giving more singlets (despite what many say, you can have too many singlets!), grosuits and bottles. If they have everything practical they want, look to the child’s next stage and maybe give some infant/child cutlery and crockery, car organisers or training pants
  • money or store vouchers may not seem an exciting gift but it is a practical way to help new parents who may be struggling with the extra expenses and less income
  • give some music – it can make life easier (such as music that calms a baby), provide enjoyment for parents and child (and music is good for baby’s development), and it’s something that is often left off new parents’ shopping list musical notes beside a Christmas tree and Christmas gift

Remembering baby’s first Christmas

As parents and families, we often get excited by a baby’s first experience of things – and Christmas is no exception to this.Baby in a first Christmas bib

Of course, what happens for the baby on Christmas can be very different as it could be one day or 364 days since their birthday. A newborn will have no idea Christmas Day is special but an older baby will notice things are happening.

Many of the things done to show it is a special day for the new family form mementos (keepsakes) that can be saved or even reused, such as:

  • a Love Santa letter that is added to a scrapbooking album or frame after Christmas
  • a toy Santa or reindeer labelled for the baby or ‘first Christmas’ can be used as an annual decoration or plaything for a limited time each year
  • giving a (full size) Christmas stocking with the child’s name and year on it – this can be used at subsequent Christmases
  • Christmas tree decorations with the name and year or ‘first Christmas’ on the decoration – again, this can be used each  year as a reminder and given to the child for their own home when they are an adult
  • mini Christmas stocking with ‘baby’s first Christmas’ printed on it
  • a top or suit with ‘baby’s first Christmas’ printed on it – if given early enough, this can be worn at various December events, too!
  • a special photo (such as a photo with Santa) can be framed or highlighted in an album
  • a personally written letter, poem or story can be displayed that Christmas then stored in a scrapbooking album or treasures box
What special items has your family got stored away from a baby’s first Christmas? Do they ever get looked at or reused?

3 wise women

How different things could have been…

Do you know what would have happened if it had been Three Wise
Women instead of Three Wise Men?

They would have asked directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stable, made a casserole and brought practical gifts!

Share your Christmas story