No Christmas decorations yet please!

Every year I’m amazed at how early the Christmas decorations are up and for sale in the local shops and I know many people absolutely love seeing them up, and I do too, but not in October.

not-christmas-yet

My personal rule is that although I can start thinking about and planning for Christmas, I don’t want to actually see it until at least the middle of November. Any decorations we decide to put up don’t go up until after 1 December at the earliest.

I was in the local shopping centre last week and was shocked that one of the fancy gift/life-style shops already has two Christmas trees on display. Granted, they were beautifully decorated and although the actual mall hadn’t yet begun to hang their decorations and to their credit, not a bar of Christmas music was playing, I still think it’s way too early. It wasn’t even half way through October! How can we wish a quarter of the year away?

Not to be a grinch, but the schools have just started Term 4, Spring is only now coming alive, we still have Halloween to get through (although admittedly I’m not the greatest of fans) and then we have November. My favourite month of the year. And that’s purely for selfish reasons because my birthday is at the end of this special month. And my Dad’s, and my two brothers, and a nephew, and a niece, and my husband’s cousin, and my sister-in-law, a couple of friends, my Granny…and I’m sure I can think of a few more people. I don’t want to discount any of their celebrations. Come on people! And not to mention the advent calendars in the supermarket.

So I’ll be boycotting any shops that display Christmas attractions in October – it’s just too early and they’re jumping the gun.

100 Days to Christmas!

Can you believe it? Sounds crazy! Where has the year gone? But then again, it is still only September with a lot to look forward to before the year is out, but while driving to work today I heard one of the Talk Show hosts say it is 100 days to Christmas! My heart nearly skipped a beat. Oh – my – goodness!!

100-days-to-christmas
So is it even a big deal? I don’t know…is it? How organised are you? Are you a planner or a last minute panicker? Have you even given Christmas arrangements a passing thought? And yes, I’m talking about Christmas arrangements as I celebrate Christmas, but you might refer to them as End of Year celebrations or Holiday/Festive Season arrangements, whatever. It’s all good. The point of this is to let you know that you only have 100 days.

Where to begin? You might go Pah! Heaps of time. Or you might want to take a few minutes to cast your mind over what exactly it is that you’d like to do this year.

Continue reading

How to safely remove a cake from it’s tin

Ever had one of those moments when the cake just won’t come out of the tin? Or you flip it over and it falls apart? Follow these easy tips and it’s sure to come out perfectly, provided you greased and lined the tin in the first place…

cake-tin-removal

Book Review: The Island of Beyond

The Island of Beyond - Elizabeth AtkinsonWe stumbled upon this book at our local library. From the look of it, it was a brand new addition to the library and although the title didn’t grab my son’s attention, the picture on the front of two boys standing staring into a fire certainly did.

We were captivated. Our shared reading sessions made us late for school on a few mornings and to sleep well after bed time. The story is about 11-year old Martin who is an only child. A little overprotected by his Mother, he’s become overly cautious about everything; an introvert who feels he doesn’t really fit in anywhere, least of all in his own family constantly feeling his Father’s disappointment. With no close “real” friends and a long Summer holiday stretching before him where he planned to stay at home, passing the time on his various devices, he finds himself surprised by his Father who feels Martin needs to harden up and become like regular male children his age. Martin is horrified as he finds himself being taken by his Dad to a strange island to stay with a Great Aunt he’s never met for an entire month. Without either of his parents coming along to look after him.

After a bumpy start, Martin begins to question his Father’s motives (sounds ominous but Parents – nothing sinister or illegal, I promise), his relationships (or lack thereof) with people his own age, his feelings of self worth and his abilities. Over the weeks that follow, he befriends a strange boy on the island, learns about entertaining himself in the absence of TV or wifi, and sometimes the land line doesn’t even work. Martin longs to find the strength and courage within himself to overcome his fears and inadequacies, whether perceived or real.

At times we laughed, at other times we were a bit sad. As a Mother there were times my heart broke for Martin. But the joy for me was watching my son discover the story as it unravelled and we discussed the various situations we’d read about. My son’s comments, thoughts and feelings about Martin, his relationship with his parents, Martin’s attitudes and behaviours were a wonderful eye opener for me about my son’s views and a very enjoyable bonding time.

After reading the final few paragraphs and closing the book, my son turned to me and expressed his wish that we buy a copy of the book for his collection as he’d like to read it again. Awesome!

Whether for a boy or girl, I’d highly recommend this story as it is a mini “coming of age”, but not in the birds and bees sense. More about discovering a part of yourself that is separate to your parents and then seeing them in a different light by understanding and loving them in a new way. If parents read with their children, then probably appropriate from about age 8 onwards as a great way to open lines of communication, otherwise I’d suggest from around age 10 if they’re reading to themselves.

Written by Elizabeth Atkinson, I can honestly say I’ll be on the look out for her next children’s novel.

 

New Section – Book Reviews

Book ReviewsI love reading. I always have. It is a wonderful gift that so many miss out on due to circumstances beyond their control, be they financial, physical or geographical. As a child it was my way of disappearing into adventures, friendships and experiences where my imagination could run wild. Have you ever had the feeling when putting down a really good book that you miss the characters? I have. You’re sad to no longer share in their lives? That’s when you know it’s been a really good story.

There is a gift to story telling. I marvel how, using words we all know, someone can capture one’s attention so vividly. Thankfully, either through genetics or by design (my son has grown up surrounded by books), he now loves to read. We often curl up on the couch or bed and snuggle together discovering new characters and adventures in amongst the pages.

We recently had a clear out of all his books that are no longer age appropriate and it was sad to see some of them go, but they had served their purpose and have moved on to entertain other young families. One thing I won’t tolerate, is disrespecting a book. Books are to be cherished and looked after. He’s been taught that from a young age. I love it when he quietly selects books out of the bookshelf and sits reading to himself too – we encourage this but are careful to not over-emphasise it.

Every birthday and Christmas he gets at least one book for his collection. We try to order books quarterly through the school’s Scholastic Books programme as it is a way of continuing his love of reading, but also supporting the school financially.

But my favourite place to order books is from http://www.bookdepository.co.uk. They have free worldwide shipping and books range from cheaper paper backs to the more expensive hard backs. They are cheaper than any I can find in New Zealand and are generally shipped within a couple of days if in stock and it’s always exciting when the new books arrive. Although sometimes it’s a little difficult to receive and hide them away if they are gifts.Bookshelf

Books make fantastic gifts too. Never throw out your old books, unless completely moth-eaten or destroyed. Schools, clubs, 2nd hand shops are often willing and grateful to accept donations.

Books can be expensive, especially when families are struggling to clothe and feed themselves, but a visit to the local library is free and there is always a wealth of knowledge and selection on offer. We often visit our local library and leave loaded up with armfuls of books. He even asks to go to the library if we haven’t been in a while and proudly checks the books out himself.

This new section of ChocolateGoose is simply to share books that I’ve enjoyed either on my own, or with him and hopefully might help others to foster a love of reading. I’d love to hear your suggestions too about books you’ve discovered and enjoyed.

Jacqueline Kennedy was once quoted as saying: There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world – Love of books is the best of all.

You can find this new section on the main Menu.

Life’s Pathway

This morning I woke up to a message from my parents halfway round the world, letting me know that someone I knew a long time ago and only a couple of years older than me, was tragically killed in a car accident along with her middle child and only son. We were never close, but at one time our families were. We grew up attending the same church and I used to travel to bible study classes with her and her Dad. There’s a shared history. I was sad.Life's PathwayBut I got up and got myself ready for the day and travelled to work. Once there I quickly googled details of the accident and there was a photo of the person I knew. Even though 20 odd years have passed since I saw her last, the same happy vibrant smiling person with the exciting eyes was looking back at me. Her son was only 17, probably a senior in High School, just about to start out on his own life’s path. My heart broke.

All of a sudden I felt like I couldn’t breathe. My chest tightened, my throat constricted and the tears came. At that moment my boss walked into the office – we agreed I would come home. The barrage of emotions and memories that flooded me on my drive home surprised me. The physical and searing pain of grief is something I’ve felt all too often in my own life and I cried for her surviving children. I cried for her husband. I cried for her parents and siblings. I completely and utterly understand the pain of the grief that her family is feeling. The raw gut-wrenching heart-breaking reality that someone you knew, held, loved, confided in, played with, laughed with, made memories with, sang with, or watched sleep, is no longer here. Continue reading

Teaching Children “The Right Thing To Do”

My son and I recently had cause to discuss this topic. Soccer training was cancelled as the teams were supposed to attend a sport psychology session. Heaven knows why kids as young as mine need to be doing this now, I mean they’re not seasoned Pro’s, but we had agreed to attend. I knew we’d be late due to a standing activity we have on the same day, and we’d also missed the first session a few months ago so I felt bad – you know how it goes…

Wrong-Right
But then it started raining, the weather was cold and miserable and I was sorely tempted to go straight home. It was like my son read my mind and said: Ah Mom, can’t we just go home? In that split second I glanced across at him and then back at the road and had a light bulb moment. He was waiting for me to make the right decision. What was the right decision? I knew this was a defining moment, however small.

I decided to do the right thing vs what I felt like doing so I could set an example for him. Now I don’t want to sound all too serious and precious, and there will be days when I’ll actually just go home, but it all depends on what it is that you’ll be skipping. Somehow over the last wee while, a person’s Word has lost it’s value. Nowadays we tend to be more fluid with our commitments, excuses seem to flow easier or simply not at all, and we generally have an attitude of doing what we want when we want. I find that pretty sad and the older I get, the more “old-fashioned” I become in terms of values I was taught as a child.
Continue reading