Christmas Card Scenes, Oaty Cookies & New Playgrounds

I’ve been in a contemplative mood this week and needed a slow-paced weekend to match . I don’t know that that is achievable with my kids, but I tried 🙂 After school on Friday, I dug out their hot chocolate mugs with the little downstairs level for cookies. They chose a cookie each that they’d made and we sat together and they journalled in their gratitude diaries. My friend had reminded me about little craft packs you can get in the poundshop. They contain all the pieces needed for the craft, so they’re good if you need something to entertain your kids without pulling out everything you own 🙂 I got little sticker art packs and they had to layer foam stickers to make animals.

On Saturday, we went back to our (recent) usual weekend spot – Montalto. It was a crisp, christmassy kind of day and we were lucky to escape the rain. We started with takeaway hot chocolates/mocha for me. The girls looked like a couple of adults going for a walk and a coffee together when we were walking to the playground. They were deep in conversation about the faces they thought a bird would make if it tried hot chocolate and liked it 🙂 They have an obsession with stirrers and using them to “fish out” the marshmallows at the end, so don’t be fooled by their apparent refinement in the photos 🙂 After a long stint in the adventure playground, we went for a walk and played “spot the Christmas tree.” There were so many in all different sizes – it was like a Christmas tree farm 🙂 The girls played a leaf version of Pooh Sticks that they named “Pooh Leaf.” We had to stop at every bench along the way for them to have a drink 🙂 We did the history trail again, with the plaques and figures along the way to represent the Battle of Ballynahinch. My kids are probably the only people that would think to turn a gun into a game of limbo 🙂 We found a quiet spot for a picnic at the top of the hill. I love the view from there, but it’s impossible to do it justice in photos. The town looks quaint from a distance and the steeples stand out above everything else. Without being close enough to see the shop signs, it looks like how I imagine it could have looked hundreds of years ago. I love that trail because of the spindy trees all crowded together. I think it’s one of the most beautiful natural sights. On our descent, it became windy and there was what looked like a snow shower of leaves. My daughter yelled “it’s snowing” and tried to catch them all 🙂

Yesterday morning, we watched Home Alone in the dark with the Christmas tree lights twinkling and some snacks. I like taking our time getting ready on a Sunday, so we had crafts and baking in pyjamas 🙂 I had saved some cardboard inserts from something I’d bought as I thought they’d make good canvases 🙂 I like to try and reuse any items I can for junk art with the girls. The girls used white paint to make snow-covered hills and they painted the sky dark. I got out all the Christmas cards I had saved from last year and they cut out the pictures and motifs to create a Wintery/Christmas scene. I found it really therapeutic helping them to cut out images for their pictures 🙂 As always, they had their own ideas about how they wanted to arrange them, so I let them work away 🙂 It was really simple and kept them busy for ages 🙂

We tried a new cookie recipe for Christmas oaty cookies. They rose a lot more than anticipated, growing to three times their original size in the oven. I knew it was overkill, but I got the girls to ice and decorate them (it is 90% of the fun of baking for them.) We made some greenish icing to drizzle on top and I gave them some holly and snowflake sprinkles to finish them with.

After sampling the cookies, we went for a walk on the Greenway. I had decided to take the girls back to a playground we passed during a Halloween treasure hunt. There was something that they could sit on, a bit like a seesaw but that spun in a circle and it was the highlight of the day for them 🙂 I love how every playground looks the same to adults but to children they are all distinctive and special 🙂

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