A trip to Calmsley Farm

Today we got to spend a family day on a farm. It was so lovely to be able to do something together as a family. Daddy Bear doesn’t get a lot of time off work, so when he does have a couple of days off together we try to make the most of it.

Calmsley Farm is a place where you can go to learn about farm life and enjoy a variety of exciting shows and exhibits. They have a variety of farm animals, as well as several different native Australian animals. Baby Bear was so excited! When we drove in the car park, there was a cow made out of bits of scrap metal, and he immediately started pointing and mooing at it. Once we were inside the farm, he just made a run for the first animals he saw – it was funny and quite cute.

The animals are mostly in their enclosures during the times that the farm is open to the public, and then they are allowed to freely rome the grounds once the public leaves. We got to see, pat and feed a variety of animals, including ducks, chickens, goats, sheep, horses, kangaroos, a camel and cows. Baby Bear’s favourite part was going into the enclosure with the goats and sheep. He was able to pat and feed them, and they played with him too. He also thought it was hilarious when they jumped on Daddy Bear’s chest to try to get the feed bag he was holding.

We also went on a tractor ride around the farm while we were there. It was Baby Bear’s first tractor ride, and he seemed to enjoy it. There was one part where we went downhill really fast, which he loved. He also enjoyed the bumpiness of the ride. It was a wonderful, relaxing way to spend some time together as a family.

20140307-213126.jpg

My triumphant return to blogging

Hello again faithful readers. I apologise for not returning from my Christmas hiatus until now. As much as I enjoy writing here, it was really freeing not having to worry about what to write about every night. I spent so much more time being present and involved with my little family, and spent much less time trying to get the perfect photo for my next blog post. I have had plenty of time to think about how I would like to proceed with this blog, or if I would like to continue it at all. I have decided I will keep it for now, but only blog on a roughly weekly basis. So I will still be writing and sharing both my life and views on things, but just on a more manageable basis. Now, here is a recap of the last two months of my life.

Christmas is my favourite holiday, and it has only gotten better since having Baby Bear. We woke up to a very excited little boy and a small sack of presents from Santa (along with a few presents from Daddy Bear and I too). Daddy Bear had to work Christmas Eve, which meant he slept most of Christmas Day, so Baby Bear and I spent the day playing with his new presents. We went to my parents house for Christmas dinner and more sharing of gifts in the afternoon once Daddy Bear woke up. It was so nice to be able to spend some quality time with my whole big family under one roof. I usually only get an hour or so with my brother and sister every 1-2 weeks now, so it was great to be able to catch up and spend time together without the time pressure.

We spent Boxing Day with Daddy Bear’s family. They came down to visit us for a special Christmas lunch, and were also great at helping us put together some of Baby Bear’s bigger Christmas presents. Baby Bear had a lot of fun helping Daddy Bear and Uncle P put together his sandpit and wooden picnic table, and then had the biggest laugh ever when he chased us all around the backyard with the hose! It was lovely to see him so carefree and happy with Daddy Bear’s family. We don’t see them as often as we would like, so it sometimes takes Baby Bear a while to warm to them. Boxing Day was the first time he has not freaked out at the sight of Uncle P, so it was a really good day!

20140219-225553.jpg
Between Christmas and New Years Eve we celebrated my Mum’s birthday. It was just a small family dinner by the poolside in my parents backyard, but it was still great fun. New Years Eve saw us at my besties house to party! Well, Daddy Bear stayed for an hour before he had to work, and thanks to a late nap Baby Bear survived until 9:30 before crashing, so it was still an early night for us, but we could at least celebrate for a bit with friends. It’s funny how much my New Year’s Eve celebrations have changed since Baby Bear was born.

20140219-231039.jpg
Skip forward a couple of weeks and we celebrated Baby Bear’s second birthday! It is hard to believe it has been two years already since we welcomed him into our lives. He has grown into such a wonderful little boy, and he continues to amaze and inspire me every single day. For his birthday we had a BBQ at my parents house by the pool. My Grandparents made the trip down from Newcastle to help us celebrate his special day too. Baby Bear had the best day. He ran, climbed and explored my parents backyard all day. He got to eat his favourite foods (as well as feed them to the dogs too), and was gifted so many wonderful birthday treasures. He is an exceptionally lucky boy.

20140219-233835.jpg
Baby Bear’s birthday also marked our two year nursaversary. It is one of the most amazing things I have ever done. Our breastfeeding relationship has changed and developed so much over the last 2 years: from a newborn who fed almost constantly, to a distracted older baby, to a contented toddler who asks for ‘booboos deas!’ (Boobies please). Through the good times and the more difficult times, it is something I have always loved doing, and I will be sad when this time is over, but I know we will both have wonderful memories to share.

20140219-234538.jpg
The rest of January saw us celebrating many more 2nd birthdays with our Mothers Group friends. It is crazy how quickly these last two years have gone! I am so lucky to have found a bunch of women who are so lovely, funny and supportive – and their kids are really awesome too!

Recently we took our dinosaur obsessed Baby Bear to the Australian Museum to see the dinosaur exhibit they have there. If you have a kid who loves dinosaurs you definitely need to get out to see it before it closes! Baby Bear was crazy excited! He ran around chasing the virtual dinosaurs, wanted to pat every dinosaur skeleton he could reach, and enjoyed pretending to be a palaeontologist. It was such an awesome day!

20140219-235759.jpg
So that is our last two months in a nutshell. Lots of fun, family time and lots of celebrations. We are looking forward to a few quiet weeks now before we are hit with another party season (which begins with a Daddy Bear’s 30th birthday party!!). Thank you to any of my readers who have stuck around waiting for my return. I promise I won’t be so long between blog posts next time!

Giant cupcakes, Santa and Christmas lights

We have had another big weekend in the lead up to Christmas. On Saturday I spent most of the day stuck in the kitchen baking a cake for our Mothers Group Christmas party on Sunday. It was worth all the effort though because it looked and tasted amazing (even if I do say so myself). I made a chocolate cake in a giant cupcake mould and decorated it to look like a Christmas pudding. I got the idea from a website called Cupcake Addiction and followed this tutorial to make it. Everyone at the party loved it!

20131223-212627.jpg
We also had a visit from Santa on the back of a fire truck. Every year our local RFS visit every street in our little town with Santa, and hand out lollies and toys to the kiddies (and if you’re lucky they’ll pose for photos too). We weren’t too sure how Baby Bear would go, because this year he has freaked out every single time he has been close to Santa. Fortunately, he was happy to stand next to this Santa – he even gave him a high-five. I asked him if he would like a photo with Santa and he said yes. So Daddy Bear helped him climb up onto the fire truck, and he stood for a photo. He wouldn’t look at the camera or smile, but he did stay for the photo himself. I would never make him do it if he didn’t want to.

20131223-214542.jpg
Sunday saw Baby Bear and I head off to our Mothers Group Christmas party. It was lovely to catch up with everyone again and see how much the kiddies had grown. There are a core few who I see weekly or fortnightly, but most of the others I haven’t seen for several months (mainly due to them going back to work already). It’s amazing how much the kiddies have grown. It feels like only yesterday that they were all squishy newborns, and now they are all turning 2! I’m very lucky to have found such a wonderful group of women that I get on so well with, and that Baby Bear loves hanging out with their kids too.

Last night my sister and I took Baby Bear out to look at Christmas lights (Daddy Bear had to work). It was really fun, and we saw some amazing light displays. The first one we visited was by far the best though. Not only was the house and yard decorated in lights and inflatable Christmasy things, they also had a few special things for people who wanted to get out of their cars to see. They had a stable with plush reindeers that you could pat; some windows to peek through that had Mrs Clause baking cookies, a miniature train display, and Santa checking his list twice in it; some inflatable snow globes that had air blowing into them so they looked like they were snowing; a scented bubble machine; a wooden snowman to stick your head through and have a photo taken; and they were also doing face painting! They also had a bucket to accept donations for Bear Cottage, so not only was it an awesome display, but it was for a great cause too! Baby Bear had such a good time, but he fell asleep about halfway home. Daddy Bear is looking forward to doing it with us next year and is going to make sure he has the night off.

20131223-222357.jpg

20131223-222410.jpg

20131223-222420.jpg
I am not sure if I will have time to write over the next few days, so I want to wish all my lovely readers a wonderful, happy and love filled Christmas!

Christmas tree shaped crayons

Baby Bear and I have been making some Christmas presents for his little friends. We are having our Mothers Group Christmas party on Sunday, so we had to get them finished and wrapped today. Thankfully the presents were actually really quick and easy to make – and they were also something that Baby Bear could help with a little.

Christmas Tree shaped crayons

Materials

4 x 10 packs of crayons (ours were $1 packs from our local cheap shop)
Silicon Christmas tree moulds (also bought from our local cheap shop for $2)

1. Peel off the labels on each crayon. This was the trickiest part. I ended up with little bits of crayon stuck under my thumb nails! Baby Bear just did some drawing while I did the peeling, because it was too difficult for him.
2. Break the crayons into small pieces and put them in a bowl. Baby Bear helped with this step. We managed to get 4 or 5 pieces out of each crayon without trying too hard.
3. Put crayon pieces into the moulds. Make sure you have a variety of the colours in each mould to create the best effect. Baby Bear helped at this stage too.
4. Place moulds on a tray and put into the oven at 160 degrees Celsius for about 15 mins (or until melted).
5. Remove from the oven and leave tray to cool. Here you can either leave the tray to cool completely until the crayons have set, or you can put it into the freezer to speed up the process. The first batch I just left to set on its own (took about 2 hours, but it was a hot day). The second batch I put in the freezer and it only took about 20 mins for them to set properly.
6. Once the crayons are set you can pop them out of the moulds and use them, or give them as gifts like we are doing.

20131220-223551.jpg
I hope Baby Bear’s little friends like them!

Friends, family and lots of driving

We have had a massive weekend full of too much travelling in the car. Saturday saw us heading down to Wollongong for my friends wedding. It was a beautiful Islamic ceremony, and she made an absolutely stunning bride! Baby Bear had a great time running around the dance floor with all the other kiddies and he made a lot of friends.

20131217-212847.jpg
Baby Bear and I all dressed for the wedding.

On Sunday we made the trek out to Bathurst to see Daddy Bear’s best mate and his family. It was great to get out to see them again (we only get to see them every few months). Baby Bear had a great time playing with their kiddies. They were really good with him, and even spent hours playing chasies with him (which is his favourite game at the moment). We gave them their Christmas presents – which they loved (yay for supporting local businesses) – and Baby Bear got one from them too. For their eldest daughters first birthday Daddy Bear and I bought her a push along lawn mower that’s sings and makes noises. Apparently she loved it so much that she played with it every day; as did her brother when he came along. Since the they have vowed to pay us back by giving Baby Bear noisy presents too, which is why he got a large car set that makes loud car noises. Baby Bear loves it. He spent most of today trying to ride around our living room on the back of the quad bike. He’s a funny kid.

20131217-220153.jpg
Yesterday we headed out to Blayney to see Daddy Bear’s family. We only got to see his Mum and his Nan as the rest of the family were at work, but it was still a good trip. While we were there we visited a nearby town where Daddy Bear’s Dad grew up as there was a new monument erected that had his Great Grandparents names on it. I think it was basically like a ‘founding fathers’ monument for that town, so it was pretty interesting. Baby Bear had a play at the park with his Nanny, and then we spent an hour or so visiting Daddy Bear’s Nan (and Baby Bear ransacked the toys she had there). It was a massive weekend, and we were all totally exhausted by the time we got home, but it was nice to be able to catch up with so many people.

Dinosaur excavation

It was really hot today, so Baby Bear and I did some icy dinosaur excavation to keep cool. Last night I froze 10 plastic dinosaurs in a large container of water, in preparation for this activity. I set it up in the bath for Baby Bear, so that there wasn’t too much mess. He had a little plastic hammer, and set about chipping away at the ice to free the dinosaurs. It was a massive hit! So much so, that he spent over an hour playing with the ice and dinosaurs! The only downside was that having the massive ice brick in our tiny freezer caused half of the things in it to start to defrost! Next time I do it I’ll be smarter and put it in our bigger garage freezer instead. What activities do you do with your kids to keep cool in the heat?

20131211-220606.jpg

Special surprise gifts

We have had a busy few days. On Sunday we went down to Wollongong for my friends Bridal Shower. Baby Bear and Daddy Bear went and had lunch and played at a park while I went to the Bridal Shower. My friend is marrying a Muslim man (and has recently converted to Islam herself), so it was a henna Bridal Shower. It was really fun and very interesting to see how people of a different religion celebrate pre-wedding parties. The family my friend is marrying into seems really lovely, and I am really looking forward to the wedding this weekend. I am especially excited to see what kind of wedding dress my friend is wearing!

20131210-222906.jpg
On Monday we all made the trek down to our local Westfield for new outfits for my friends wedding this weekend. I needed to find a dress that had easy boob access in case Baby Bear decides he wants to breastfeed while we are at the wedding, and Baby Bear needed a whole new outfit because he has grown out of the outfit he wore to the last wedding we went to. I managed to find a really awesome 50s style dress for myself and a cute outfit for Baby Bear, but I still need to get matching shoes and cardigan.

Today we were inundated with gifts! I got my secret Santa gift – a really cute Santa shaped tea light candle holder. It is extra special because this secret Santa was from an online parenting group I’m a part of. None of us have ever met in real life (the group is Australia wide), but we share so much in our group that we feel like we are all really close friends anyway. We decided to do a secret Santa this year so that every Mummy would have a special surprise gift to open for Christmas. We all opened our presents at the same time today, and it was really cool to see everyone posting photos of what they received and how much they loved it! It was just really special to be a part of it!

20131210-225530.jpg
Baby a Bear was also the receiver of special surprise gifts today. We got a package in the mail from my Grandparents – Baby Bear’s Great-Grandparents. It was full of beautiful clothes and a colouring set for Baby Bear. He loved the colouring set, and I loved the clothes. He is such a blessed little boy to have such wonderful, thoughtful Great-Grandparents. It was pretty funny timing that their gift for Baby Bear arrived this afternoon, because we mailed off their present this morning! Great minds think alike! I hope they like it!

20131210-230001.jpg

Christmas baking

Today was filled with lots of Christmas baking. I made Christmas cookies and chocolate brownies for us to take to our local hospital. I know Baby Bear is only young, but I’ve been trying to show him the importance of giving, especially around Christmas time. I decided we would take the baked goodies to the hospital partially because they were so good to Baby Bear and I when we were in hospital for 10 days last year, and partially because my Mum works there and it was an easy introduction to giving for Baby Bear. We also gave some to my Dad and my sister to both share with their work colleagues on Monday.

20131207-222651.jpg
This is the cookie recipe I used. It is from a Coles magazine from a few years ago. The only difference is that I make a whole bunch of different Christmas shapes instead of just doing Christmas wreaths. Baby Bear had a lot of fun helping me decorate them – and he ate a few in the process too.

20131207-223159.jpg

20131207-223611.jpg
This is the brownie recipe I used. I have a silicone Christmas tree mould tray that I used, instead of a big pan. I was a little worried if it was actually going to work or not, because the moulds are really small, but it turned out really well! I did change the cooking time on the recipe to 10-15 minutes instead.

20131207-223924.jpg

20131207-223936.jpg
I can’t wait until Baby Bear is old enough to fully participate in baking with me. It will be so much fun! He does like to help now, but is more a hindrance than a help at the moment. It is still nice to have a little (sort of) helper in the kitchen with me. What Christmas goodies are you baking with your kids?