“Snow Bears” – a quick iplayer recommendation for you- expires very soon!

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If you are looking for something cosy and wintry to watch with your children today, I recommend the BBC Documentary Snow Bears. It’s on iplayer until 3rd February. We watched it over the Christmas break and I planned to share it here, but totally forgot to because of going away. I assumed it had finished broadcasting, but we just had a look as my youngest is ill and she requested it and amazingly it’s still being broadcast! Hurrah!

The documentary follows the journey of a polar bear mother and her two cubs as they go on a long journey to find food. There are various hindrances, such as the attentions of a rather large male bear and an avalanche, but the bears manage to stay together throughout. It is lovely to see their close relationship and the mother’s deep love and protection of her young cubs and such a privilege to be able to follow their progress over the weeks/months this was filmed in. This film is beautifully filmed and edited with not too many gorey bits (my daughters were grateful for this!) It really is a visual treat and i highly recommend it if you have a spare hour to cosy up in today. 🙂

Short but sweet..

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We had a lovely cosy home day on Sunday, with our daughters playing happily and imaginatively for much of the day.

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On Sunday mornings, I traditionally enjoy a lie in – if I am lucky! 🙂 (my husband has his on Saturday mornings) and our daughters appreciate the opportunity to spend time with Daddy; colouring in his funny pictures and drawing their own.

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They decided on the theme of “Under the Sea” and drew mermaids (good and evil!), fish, sharks, treasure chests and an underwater castle with windows to open! 🙂

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By the time I had woken up, they were in the process of cutting out their characters, and sticking them onto short skewers with sticky tape, so they could be used for an impromptu “puppet” show! They haven’t staged a puppet show for us in a long time, so it was a nice surprise!

My eldest covered the playframe with blue/green coloured cloths and they each took it in turns to stage a little show for us.

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The storyteller 🙂

There were little mermaids peeking out of the windows in the castle below, but I wasn’t allowed to take photos at the time. So sweet!

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My eldest did sound effects for her sister, which brought the show to life. Here are a few of the instruments in question!

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Our Schleich animals were also recruited for a jungle themed show 🙂

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It was so lovely to see the girls enjoy their playspace and to experience them being imaginative and creative. They tend to play in private nowadays, so it was a real privilege to be party to their imaginative play on this occasion.

I do so appreciate these times; when things go smoothly and we spend warm and happy times together.

Our Schleich animals continued to have a great time for the rest of the day 🙂

 

 

 

Winter books for children

I thought I would share these again 🙂

amothershares

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I promised I would share our winter books with you, so here I am finally with a selection of our favourites. As I have mentioned before herehere and here, we love books and love to escape into a beautiful picture book. Our favourite picture books need to be beautifully illustrated, with a wholesome, heart warming story. My daughters particularly like stories about animal friendships and we seem to have a plentiful selection of these amongst our winter selection! The winter books are amongst my favourite of all the seasonal books we have. Perhaps because it is a time when we sit down to read more, or perhaps there is just more sparkle in these books?

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I will once again group the books a little as we have collected quite a few over the years.

Board books for young children:

Winter – Gerda Muller – a simple book…

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On Holiday in Tenerife

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First of all, I would like to wish my lovely visitors a very Happy New Year!

May your year be filled with abundance, adventure and great joy. 

We returned from our trip to Tenerife last Wednesday evening, unpacked and recovered from our travels on Thursday and started back at school on Friday. My daughters, especially the eldest, struggled with the transition back to school. The fact that we have to get up in the dark doesn’t help!

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I thought I would write a little about Tenerife and what we did whilst on holiday.

Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands. It is a popular destination with holidaymakers, who can rest assured that there is guaranteed warmth and sunshine all year round. The beaches are black sand due to previous volcanic activity on the island. In the centre is the Teide National Park, home to the towering Mount Teide and the volcano Pico Viejo. The centre of the island is arid and less hospitable compared to the fertile coastal regions. We have visited the island on four occasions in the past and have felt drawn back to explore more of it. There is a lot more to discover here than on some of the smaller islands, we have found. It is somewhere you can really imagine enjoying living.

This time we stayed fifteen minutes drive from Puerto de la Cruz which is a popular tourist destination, especially for German holidaymakers (my German mother was in her element!). It is also a popular spot for surfing.

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There is a very pleasant tree lined avenue leading down to the seafront promenade.

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We were surprised to see several apparently wild chickens scratching around the place, including this rather handsome cockerel!

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The promenade is lined with shops and restaurants in front of the larger hotel and appartment blocks

There is also an outdoor pool complex along the promenade called Lago Martianez which my husband and daughters visited one morning. There are several salt water pools in the complex, including a large pool with a ‘volcano’ that erupts periodically. It is right next to the sea, but this area isn’t great for swimming due to the crashing waves, so the pool is a better option. There is plenty of space to lounge around and it must be a great spot in the summer. Unfortunately the water was too cold to really enjoy and we found the sea a lot warmer at this time of year!

Whilst away, I had to study two hours per day to keep on top of all the work I need to do for my course. I usually studied in the morning – when I was still fresh enough to take things in! –  and my husband, children and later my mother, rested, played or spent time reading or listening to books. It rained for a couple of days  which was a bit tricky as we were all confined to the house in the mornings and it wasn’t too big, but The Famous Five adventure stories came to the rescue! 🙂 The girls were totally engrossed in those stories, kindly read to them by their Daddy! It was a shame about the rain – we have never had any whilst on holiday in the Canary Islands before – but the locals were delighted as it hadn’t rained for some time. It was unfortunate that on the five days my mother was on the island, there were only a couple of sunny days 😦

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We still managed to get out and about in the afternoons and enjoyed some time at the beach. We were staying near El Sauzal on the North Coast, but never really explored this area much as the children were keen to go to the beach (in complete contrast to last year’s trip – the swimming lessons must be doing them good!) and the waves at El Sauzal were too much for them. We visited one of the main beaches near Puerto de la Cruz which was great fun; jumping and chasing the waves for hours.

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We also visited a beach on the South Coast on the day we were picking my mother up from the Southern airport (there are two airports). We particularly like this area: It is called El Medano and is a good base for families and younger folk visiting the island. There are quite a few self- catering appartments and lots of eateries and even a vegan restaurant and a health shop 🙂

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It is a popular spot with surfers and we saw a lot of kite surfers out on the ocean, which was a glorious sight. The girls stuck with their rubber rings (purchased at one of the many tourist shops in Puerto Cruz) 🙂

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The southern beaches are open all year round and the sea is very shallow for quite some distance, making them very safe. We were disappointed to find the Northern beaches closed for some periods. We managed to enjoy the beach there on two occasions before we found it closed on our third visit 😦 We even tried a more secluded beach nearby to see if the situation was different there, but Playa de el Socorro  was also taped off.

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Supposedly they frequently do this as the undercurrents are very strong. For us, the sea looked rather tranquil and the girls were disappointed not to be able to go in for a paddle after the rainy days.

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They tried out the exercise equipment on the promenade instead, which was some consolation 🙂 and we went for coffee and cake at our favourite Service Station Cafe  with an amazing  view.

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The cakes were delicious and the thick Spanish hot chocolates (the kind you can eat!) were a real treat and so reasonable too at 12 Euros for all five of us! We found eating out quite affordable, although we mainly cooked at home. My mother is German so “Kaffee und Kuchen” is the order of the day on holiday – we didn’t complain! 😉

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We visited the Botanic Gardens on one occasion, which was a lovely treat. The tropical plants are so at home in this climate. We recognised many of them from the house plants available here in the UK. Lots of the plants were in bloom and the whole place felt lush and vibrant.

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My mother really enjoyed it, until she stumbled on a big root and fell into a bush! but she quickly recovered herself and we all found it fascinating and relaxing to be surrounded by all these exotic plants.

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There are plenty of beautiful vibrant flowers around the coastal areas of the island too: it is a feast for the eyes.

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Poinsettias grow in the wild in Tenerife – I am always delighted to spot them. When I see them growing wild like this it reminds me of the book The Legend of Poinsettia,  which we love.

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We had hoped to see the Three Kings Procession on the 5th January as we did in Fuerteventura last year, but we didn’t manage to get there in time unfortunately.

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It is typical for the ‘Kings’ to process through the streets on the day before Epiphany, waving and throwing sweets to the children. The Kings are the bringers of “Christmas” presents to Spanish children on the 6th January, when they have their family Christmas celebrations. We did manage to watch some of the procession on a TV screen in our restaurant, which was of some consolation to the girls.

It rained all day on the 6th so we just celebrated with a trip out to a cafe for tea and cake 🙂 There is a traditional Three Kings Cake that can be bought at the supermarket (or made of course!) but noone fancied it.

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We also visited the Loro Parque Zoo after enjoying our trip to the Zoo in Fuerteventura . It was also rather expensive, but there were several shows included and it was an enjoyable afternoon out.

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We particularly enjoyed the sea lion show

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and the dolphin show

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They are such bright, friendly animals – we do love them so.  We also saw an Orca show later – once my camera had run out of battery 😦 -which was very impressive – what amazing powerful animals they are. All the animals really trusted their trainers and were very affectionate with them, which was a joy to behold.

As I mentioned, my camera ran out of battery not long into our visit there, which was a shame as our highlight was most definitely the lions. There are two females that are only a year and a half old and are still very playful and a two year old male who is so handsome. They were fascinating to watch and we could see them very close up, which was a treat. Their fenced off area had plenty of interest and enough space to roam around in, I thought.

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My eldest was particularly excited to see the white Bengal tigers. She loves all wild cats.

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They also have a new inside Penguin Grotto, where they even have snow falling from the ‘sky’ and nice cold conditions for the penguins. It looks really magical.
You can stand on a slowly moving conveyor belt and watch as you move along. Quite special. There were also puffins nearby, which are a favourite of mine.

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Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of photos to show all the sights we saw and the photos aren’t that great – I do need to fix my camera but there never seems to be a good time….

We loved the jellyfish acquarium area. The inside is dimly lit but the numerous tanks, containing a vast array of jelly fish, are lit up to show off their amazing features – it was fascinating to see how they breath and move. So graceful. I could have spent a long time there and wish I had some photos to show for it. I was transfixed. Unfortunately my mother struggles to see in the dark and I was  concerned that she might trip up again, so we had to move on.

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We had planned to visit Mount Teide, but due to the weather and my mother’s mobility issues, we decided to leave it.

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There was often a thick mist over the mountain and we heard there was snow up there. We have visited before and enjoyed many a walk around the rugged landscape.

Our holiday home was well situated in a quiet area. Unfortunately, the next door neighbour was having building work done, so it ended up being far from quiet most days  ☹️ which was a pity. Since then, we have had a percentage of the price refunded to us for the inconvenience, which was a kind gesture.

The house itself is situated right in the centre of the property, with a garden surrounding the house on all sides.

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There were plenty of plants and trees and even a lovely playhouse for the children to play in, which was a bonus!

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The girls had fun playing their fantasy games in the house and up in and amongst the two avocado trees!

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We picked a few avocadoes to ripen with some bananas, but only one actually did ripen by the end of our trip. One of my good friends lived in Spain for a couple of years and had an avocado tree. I was always in awe of it. The avocadoes took a while to ripen, but they were so creamy and delicious, I thought we should try it!

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The views of the sunrises and sunsets from our terrace were stunning. We never tired of the sunsets, especially coming closer to 6pm than the early nights here in the UK.

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We mainly spent our evenings playing cards before bedtime with Oma.

Tenerife is a wonderful island to explore. It is great for touring in the car and for a walking holiday – we did a lot more walking on our visits pre-children. The views are breathtaking and it is affordable and always warm. We did not get around as much as we usually do this visit due to rain and my mother’s mobility issues,  but we still really enjoyed our visit.

For those of you who wondered if we did any crafts on holiday, we didn’t do too much as I was either studying or we were out of the house. In the mornings, the girls made steady work on their reindeer. We didn’t manage to get going on them before our trip, but we are pleased with how they turned out. The instructions in the book said to sew them and turn them inside out. I didn’t read it properly so the girls did blanket stitch all round. As they are quite neat with their stitches, it worked out fine, except for the need to add a few extra stitches to the legs and neck once the body was stuffed. I helped them with this as I blamed myself for not reading the instructions properly and so that they weren’t discouraged. Here they are – one is Rudolph 🙂

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The girls did lots of drawing including these angel pictures.

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I always bring plenty of materials with us – paper, scissors, glue, sticky tape, yarn etc so the girls can make all the contraptions and maps that they desire!  Everything always gets lots of use by my ever creative children 😉

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Back at home the Kings are still on the Nature Table and Babuschka has finally reached Bethlehem – my girls insist she reaches baby Jesus on time – although the Legend has her searching forevermore.

I am planning to set the Nature Table up for winter very soon! It’s so mild and wet here – but we will be glad to see snowflakes and a wintry scene inside.

I have hung up the hearts, on which we wrote our favourite things in 2017, at the back door. It is so nice to have some colour at the window. 🙂

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I had better dig out those lovely window stars we made last year and perhaps make a few more since they bring us such joy.

Hope January is treating you well.

Happy New Year!

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We made it on holiday to Tenerife after all! There were a few obstacles as I mentioned last time, not least our eldest having a major panic attack in the car before taking our flight, poor dear love. It was so distressing for us all and with the pressure of getting to the airport on time and feeling exhausted, we didn’t handle it very well.  😦

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Once things had calmed down, we arrived at the airport with only 50 minutes to spare, but the Gods were with us as we moved easily through check in (we were brought to the front of the queue), breezed through security and amazingly didn’t have far to go to our gate  (it usually takes a good 15minutes walk).  The flight itself certainly wasn’t ideal. We had strong head winds so there was some mild turbulence on and off throughout, but our dear girl handled it admirably: she shut it out by closing her eyes during the stronger turbulence and otherwise distracted herself the rest of the time, by playing hangman, guess the animal and other games with us.

We also encountered several hours of turbulence on our return flight from the States which is why I imagine she went into meltdown, that being her last flying experience. I wish I had had the foresight to arrange a Fear of Flying for Children – will do so in 2018 for sure as my husband is fantasising about a journey to see the Northern Lights for his 50th…

We arrived at our villa by 8pm and were delighted to find that it has a lovely view to the sea and plenty of space around it to play and relax in.

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We are feeling very grateful. It was very bleak when we left the UK and the sunshine has cheered us up already.

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For our New Years celebration, we stopped off en route at a petrol station and bought some ‘junk foods’ like crisps and peanuts (special occasion foods for us) as the shops were all closed by the time we arrived. I tried to make the place look a little festive with bits and pieces I had on hand.

 

In the spirit of gratitude for 2017, I had cut some heart shapes out of card and we wrote down at least five things for which we were grateful in 2017. We all wrote on both sides, realising there was so much to be grateful for in the past year. We are all quite practised now at looking for things to be grateful for, I am pleased to say 🙂

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I have hung them from the ceiling using little pegs on a length of red yarn – there is literally nowhere else to hang them from, as everything is rather sleek and new here. They bring a lovely touch of colour to house 🙂

 

We also looked forward to 2018 by sending little walnut boats into a “lake” I set up. A birthday candle is placed in a walnut shell, by melting the wax into the bottom and the boat is placed in the centre of the “lake” with the candle lit. There are four corners, representing Abundance, Adventure, Healing and Love/Romance. and wherever the boat lands, is the area that will see or needs the most development in the coming year. I wrote how we did this in more detail here

Both of my daughters and I landed in the Healing Corner, where we picked up an angel card. Both my eldest and I picked up the Meditation card and my youngest picked up Spiritual Growth. This was very interesting as since Christmas Day, we have been sitting down for 10 minutes each evening together, looking at a picture of the Madonna for a short time and discussing what they would like to happen in the months ahead (each one of the twelve days of Christmas corresponds with one of the twelve months of the next year, so for example we started speaking about May on Christmas Day). We discuss what comes up for them when we think of that particular month and what their wishes are for that month in 2018.

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They come up with lots of interesting ideas. The girls then pick one of these angel cards (the messages are very suited to children) and I read what it says in the little book that accompanies them. Following this, they either draw pictures or write about what the cards ask them to do. For example my eldest daughter has drawn the “You are Special” card twice so far and we have been discussing what her strengths are. My youngest has drawn “Let go of Your Fears” and “Angel Lights” twice each and we have been looking at what she would like to let go of and she has been talking of the purple angel lights she sees, particularly at school, which I didn’t know of!

They were only asking me a couple of days ago if we could continue these meditations after the twelve nights are over, so when the “boats” landed in the area of Healing and we all picked the Meditation/Spiritual Healing cards, it felt like a sign to continue what we are doing as it is doing us good. Regular meditation and quiet contemplation are undoubtedly great healers. I have also been meditating on my own with the healing Madonna sequence each evening and am so relishing in the peaceful time spent in contemplation before bed. I have the lovely Stacey to thank for this suggestion which I found in her very informative Christmas Eve post (I love all her posts!) I am only now really discovering how special the Holy Nights are spiritually. I had some inkling of it before, but I plan to look into it further and look forward to working with them more deeply in the years to come.

My husband landed on  Adventure, with the Angel Card of “Children”, which was also interesting as he was just saying the other day that he feels he wants to work a bit less and make more time for fun, especially now he is reaching his 50’s this year.

We also wrote our wishes for 2018 on pieces of paper and wrapped them in burlap and string and piece of greenery from the garden. We set fire to them on the bbq outside, sending our wishes out to the universe. Besides this, we drew a simple ‘Wishing Circle’ and wrote these wishes down again, as we often forget what we have wished for. We all put down a dog as our wish! Let’s see…. My eldest decorated it so it looked prettier. We have taped it to the only chest of drawers in the house, next to our line of felt booties, which we peg up daily to mark the passing of the twelve days of Christmas.

One more thing we do at some point over the Christmas period, is draw around our daughters’ hands onto card/felt or whatever inspires us that year, to record how they are growing from year to year. This time they drew henna style patterns on their hands (my eldest was studying ancient India this year at school and is fascinated by everything Indian – except the food!). My youngest daughter doesn’t tolerate henna on her skin, so it was her chance to enjoy the experience 🙂

I find New Year’s Eve a very powerful time spiritually to set intentions and feel deeply into what it is I want to achieve in the coming year. I so appreciate the time and opportunity to do this together with my family.

Apart from this meaningful work, my daughters decided to make party streamers and cut up several paper napkins and used lots of cellotape and paper to create this ‘contraption’ (taped to a bucket!)  🙂 At midnight we waved them around like crazy cheerleaders and did a happy dance 🙂 followed by some time out on the terrace viewing the fireworks. We collapsed into bed at 1am exhausted, but happy!

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I shall leave you now until we return from our holiday. My mother is feeling better now and will join us on Thursday and my husband seems to be fine now too – hurrah!

Wishing you all every good wish for a joyful, peaceful and abundant 2018.