School Bag Storage and Organisation

Last night on Facebook I pleaded with the flock for HELP! I have had many plans for School Bag Storage but none of them have “felt” right. Problem is DONE is better than PERFECT! I need something, before I trip over another school bag!

So here is where we were in JANUARY! Yep and that is still where we are AT!!!!

 

I must admit this is not my first “School Station”. Master O is about to start his third year at school! Please don’t ask how that makes me feel!

Our first station looked like this.

This area was set up especially for Prep – Grade 1.

Here is how the room looked as a whole.

and in that space that was supposed to be a clipboard station is now a giant pile of school/library/sheet/sport/swimming bags.

The drawers worked brilliantly, although his bag was a bit squashed in that bottom drawer I absolutely loved having those two top drawers for homework folders, library bags and everything that came along with going to school!

I also loved the Basket on top for our School File It Folder and storing notes.

THOSE TWO THINGS ARE A MUST.

But then…..once he got to Grade 1, the homework increased, and once he changed schools, it increased again. This area was simply too distracting for homework. It also meant I had three sets of stationery areas. One in the playroom, one in this area and one in the study for myself. So we moved Master O into my study. We set up his desk and noticeboard and stationery across from me in the study. In general though come homeowrk time we all sit at my desk together! I have a huge L shaped desk and three chairs. Little Miss A sits across from me and does some phonics practice, drawing, cutting or experimental writing. Master O sits next to me so I can talk him through what he is doing. He is a very self sufficient and independent learner but I love to know what he is learning at school and the best way to do this and to be involved in homework. The big desk is also great for doing projects (which seem to take up so much room and get bigger each fortnight!)

I digress! So those handy drawers moved into the study and I took them over as my own as my desk has no drawers in it. So we went through the last part of last year with a great space for homework but no specific place for storing school stuff.

and that my friend is where we are at!

What do I need this space to do?

Contain School Items
Be easily accessible and at a childs height but alos be neat and tidy
Be flexible in its arrangement for different children’s needs
1. So what do I need our School Station to contain;

  • School Bags x 2
  • School Hats x 2
  • Homework/message Folders and Planners
  • Library Bags x 2
  • School File It Folder x 2
  • Artwork Folder (Miss A)
  • Sheet Bag (Miss A)
  • Sports Bag (Master O)
  • Individual timetables/schedule

After careful thought I don’t want it to contain school shoes. School shoes and especially Kindy shoes have a habit of coming home full of sand. So they can stay in the garage!

How do I want to contain it so its neat and tidy, flexible and easily accessible?

I think I need a combination of baskets, shelves, drawers and hooks.
I dont want to hang the school bags. We have had bad luck with hooks in this house and I dont want any more damage to my walls.
I also want the end solution to be flexible. I am still thinking about moving this station to the study so whatever I use I want to be able to relocate it easily. As they get older they can also then move it to their own bedroom.
It has to be able to be configured in different ways for different children. Because my children are quite spaced apart in age (3+years and 4+Years) they are always going to have very different school needs. By the time Baby #3 starts school Master O will be starting High School!

So I think each child needs their own station. Master O’s will need to be able to hold sports equipment and Little Miss A’s, a sheet bag for Kindy.
It can’t be too tall. Little Miss A needs to be able to open and close everything herself.
After writing all this I am automatically thinking of my old friends IKEA Expedit and Trofast. The fact that the Trofast has both drawers and shelves and comes in a variety of heights has me thinking it may be the answer! Although the frames are both a similar price, it is much cheaper to buy the Trofast drawers and shelves (around $5) than buying baskets or drawers for an Expedit (between $10-20).

What will work in the space?

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So this is where I am thinking. It is where everything else organisational is located and would make the space feel complete. I do worry as this space is at the opposite end of the house to the garage (where we enter the house) and the study (where we do homework). But for now I think its worth a try! It is a tall and skinny place so those STUVA Drawers won’t work.

So let’s get planning!!!!

I am such a visual person that I had to literally piece it all together in pictures.

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I am off to IKEA today to check out a few different ideas including this one!!!

What Do You Think???

 

 

 

Busy Bags

School is back and that means “Tot School” is in session.  This year our “Tot School” is going to look VERY different as Little Miss A now attends Kindergarden 2-3 days a week!

We are also gradually progressing away from “Tot” activities and transitiong into preschool activities like reading and writing! 

One of the most important parts of our Tot school are “Busy Bags”

Busy Bags are;

  • A 5-10 minute activity, contained in a bag.
  • Designed to be independent and self directed. (Once introduced, the child should be able to do the activity with minimal parental assistance)
  • Contain a variety of skills including fine motor,  numeracy concepts, letters, colours, anything! 
  • Inexpensive – Using every day home items or cheap craft items.
  • Hands On – Hands must be kept busy! 
  • Rotated after a week-forntnight.

Each week we put out 5 Busy Bags.  Now that Little Miss A is only home 5 days a fortnight I am planning on keeping them out for a fortnight.  

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#1 – “Cupcake Counting”

  • - Write numbers on the end of oversized paddle pop sticks
  • - child places the right number of cupcake pegs on the stick! 

I love using pegs because they are great for fine motor!  They help to develop grip and control strengthening little finger muscles. 

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#2 “Love Maths” -

  • Place the love hearts in size order! Biggest to smallest, smallest to biggest
  • The random hearts are for matching, patterning, sequencing, sorting! Possibilities are endless! Can they sort them by colour/pattern? Sort by size?
  • Make a size pattern (big, small, small) Make a colour pattern? (Pink, purple) 

This one is especially for Valentines Day coming up! I often like to theme the activities depending on special days, seasons, holidays.

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#3 “Peg My Name”

  • Make a laminated card with your child’s name on it.
  • We “beautified” it by adding her name onto a pony picture
  • Write the letters of their name onto some pegs. One letter on each peg! Don’t forget to use a capital letter for the first letter and lowercase for the rest! -
  • Now they select the right letter peg and add it to the corresponding letter on the card!

Screen Shot 2014-02-04 at 7.50.23 AM#4 “Learning Letters” – I bought this great little book from Kmart for $2!

  • I tore out the pages and laminated them, making them reusable!
  • I only place 3-5 cards in the bag with a whiteboard marker.
  • I only put the cards in, once we have gone over the letter one on one*
  • Once she has written in the card she wipes it off with a baby wipe!

*As part of our tot school we are focusing on 3 letters a week.  Once we have completed a few introductory activities on this letter, I put the corresponding card into the busy bag.

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  • I have had these laminated colour cards from my classroom for years!
  • Little Miss A lives to line them up, match them and add the same colour button! Easy!

I create the bags each Sunday and place them on top of our toy rotation trolley in a little basket.  

 

I collected the little clear pencil cases from various cheap shops! Once the activity is finished for the fortnight I place it into a clear snap lock bag and into a large storage container ready for in a few months to place out again!

Little Miss A (and sometimes even Master O) are free to grab a bag and complete an activity ANYTIME they want to.  There are also times I “madate” they play with a busy bag.  During Master O’s homework time or when they need a little quiet and calm time or in a month or two when Mummy is feeding the baby! I don’t “prescribe” an amount of time they play with the activity as generally it is just until they finish the activity which is usually 5-10 minutes.  Somedays like Monday’s she wants to do all the bags at once and by the end of fortnight she is showing little interest in ANY of them.

We love busy bags, as they give us a quick, educational, answer to “What can I play Mum?” as well as ensuring that some of the time during the week is devoted to play based  activities that cover a variety of educational concepts. 

As we change our activities around I will be sure to share them with you! 

Creating a Morning Routine

Our mornings are BUSY!  Thank goodness we are early risers as we have so much to get done before we leave for school in the morning!  Add to that, the fact that we will have two children, at two different locations in opposite directions!  Thankfully we are easing into the routine with Little Miss A only attending Kindy on a 5 day fortnight roster. 

WE have always had a before school routine, but whilst Master O was little, I still had to assist him with each task so i didnt think there was a need for any charts or printed reminders.  Last year however, his uniform became simpler for him to do and he became more independent so i found myself sending him upstairs to get ready by himself. 

Let me tell you, distraction is the art of 6 year old boys.  I found myself constantly reminding him of what he had to next, what had he done already, and generally being a yelling, nagging mother.  Not pretty.  So this year I am determined to change things.  Little Miss A is less distracted and a real busy bee who loves to be in the midst of everything.   She is extremely independent, determined and self sufficient and always has been!  She even toilet trained herself!  This also means she knows what she likes and what she doesn’t which will be very interesting when this year, with a uniform, there will be less flexibility in what she wears or how she does her hair.  Tantrums they are a coming.  Be afraid, be very afraid.

This year, I don’t have time for chaos!  With a new baby arriving there will be many morning when I am stuck feeding, changing, dressing, settling a baby and My Pigeon Pair will need to get themselves organised the best they can!  We need a routine and a CHART!!!! 

We need an illustrated, MORNING ROUTINE CHART and it needs to be;

  • Visual (especially for little Miss A as she is a pre-reader)
  • Timed (for Master O as he needs very specific timeframes)
  • Can track progress (what have you done already?)
  • Easy to reach and read.
  • Simple

I have made a MILLION routine charts in time but always for Preppies in a classroom!  Visual routines are of particular benefit to any child that likes routine and structure (which quite frankly is all children) but particularly children with ASD. 

How to create your own routine chart.

  1. MAKE A LIST. Firstly I wrote out what order I needed each thing done in the morning.  This may be different for each family depending on circumstances.  We have a two story house, with living areas downstairs and bedrooms upstairs. So we tend to group activities together depending on wether they are performed upstairs or downstairs.
  2. HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?  I then gave each activity a time reference (how long it should take to complete) 
  3. DON’T BE LATE. Then I worked backwards from the time we need to leave the house.  This varies each day as it depends on whether we need to do two drop offs or if their are before school activities.  The earliest we need to leave is 7.30 so I worked from their.  If on other mornings we have extra time, BONUS! 

I then made a simple 3 column table in Word.  One column for Master O (with clock faces) a middle column for the activity in written form and the last column for visual reminders for Little Miss A.

Add your routine and print!

SIMPLE!!!!!

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I then printed out the routine and attached it to a clipboard. 

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Whats a hook without a little washi!

Using a 3M hook (that of course I had to washi tape) I attached it to the wall just inside their bedroom.

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Easily accessible right inside their bedroom door.

 I used a coloured peg for each child attached to the outside of the clipboard.  As they complete each activity, they move the peg to the next one, to help remind them of what they have already done and what they need to do next!

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A closer look at our routine!  The arrows are to symbolise, go upstairs or go downstairs.

This is a very simple routine and we only just started using it yesterday, as we wean ourselves out of holiday mode and into back to school mode! 

Would this routine work for you?  Would you like me to make it available to you?

DUE TO POPULAR DEMAND! It’s yours to print for free!

[download id=”13″]

This a free printable and I am more than happy for you to share the love with a friend!

This printable is not to be sold in any way. 

100 Kids Healthy Lunch Ideas

Ever feel like after a few weeks into the school year, suddenly your enthusiasm for making lunches wanes?  I start off, full of good intentions and enthusiasm and after a week or two I am back to vegemite sandwiches and a yoghurt.  With two lunches to make this year, and a picky eater, I decided to make a list of ideas for their bento style lunch boxes, to offer variety, inspire me and to hopefully introduce some new items into their food repotoire!

I have written before about how I plan the kids lunches.  Using our lunchbox planner, I I make sure they have a variety of Protein, Calcium, Grains and Fruit and Veg.  I have used this same format to record my ideas in a table.  

Every school has it’s own food requirements and restrictions especially when it comes to nuts, eggs and dairy so check your schools handbook before packing lunch. 

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 I am printing this out, laminating it and attaching it to the inside of my pantry.

You could even use a whiteboard marker to cross of foods they have had that week or to highlight some form each list that you know will be a winner! 

Simply Download and Print [download id=”12″]

Feel free to share the lunchbox love with your friends! 

I got married before Pinterest

Once upon a time, a long time ago, in a land before wifi and iphones, there was no Pinterest.  In fact in this primitive time there was also no Facebook or Instagram or even sending pictures via mobile phones.  It was in this time that we planned a wedding the old fashioned way.  Using bridal magazines, glue and a big old scrapbook divided into categories. Well if you are OCD like me you did.

At the time, I was living in Ingham, North Queensland.  Without so much as a Target or Big W, let alone a bridal store, my nights were spent pouring through the pages of Bridal magazines.  Page by page I added a post it here, a snip of the scissors there and with each little piece of magazine created an image of how I wanted our wedding to be.  In all honesty, it worked out quite well.  With limited options, comes limited decision making.  I made a lot of things myself, like place cards (individual candles in glass jars with the guests name on them) and hade a lot of other things made for us, my wedding dress included.  But boy did that scrapbook come in handy.

This year we celebrate our 10th Wedding Anniversary and although I wouldn’t change a thing about that marvellous night and the ten years that have followed, I do often wonder if my tastes have now changed and would I choose a different dress or theme? 

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Our Wedding Cake

 

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My Wedding Dress and Bouquet

We were married in a very old church, with an ivory and pink colour palette and roses for the bouquets and centrepieces.  I loved my dress at the time.  Strapless with a tight beaded bodice and a huge box pleated skirt.  But would I still choose it today?

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Would I have chosen something a little fancier, lacier?

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A dress with darling little beaded cap sleeves?

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I can assure you my colour tastes have changed!  Anyone for Mint or tiffany blue?

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 Oh and some more personal touches of course with a little DIY throw in.

That day, ten years ago, seems like yesterday and yet it flew by like no other.  Thank goodness we have the photos to capture the memories.  They are like little snapshots of  time.  It may have been a time before Pinterest, but it was a time we will never forget. 

So would you change anything about your wedding?

This is a sponsored post thanks to bride.com.au All images (except of our own wedding) are taken form there website and there amazing Pinterest albums.

We are back!

What A Christmas!

On the 21st of December my little sister welcomed her first child into the world, baby Charlotte.  Thankfully we were already on the long 2 day drive up north and I got to meet and hold Charlotte when she was only one day old.  She is such a cute little bundle of pink perfection and I made sure to get my cuddles in!

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The obligatory in front of the tree photo.

 

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Not so scared now!

 

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Ready for Christmas day!

 

Christmas was how it always is in North Queensland!  Full of family, copious amount of food, traditions and SWIMMING!   The kids lived in the pool and it was simply amazing to see Little Miss A who has a fear of water on her face JUMPING into the pool!

I survived the week without being sick and more importantly survived a total of four days in the car without losing my sanity or the contents of my stomach (there were a few close calls)

So here we are.  27+ Weeks pregnant, 2 very sun kissed and tired kids and a whole lot of Christmas mess to clean up, oh the toys!!!!

But I am already thinking ahead and heres what’s on the agenda for

The Organised Nest;

  • How we created a Family Launch Pad
  • How we use a family Calendar and Planner to stay organised
  • Plans for our School Storage Station
  • Teaching your child to recognise and write their name
  • Organising and Buying School Name Labels
  • What to look for in School Shoes
  • Creating Organised Routines and Systems for the School Morning Routine
  • Creating Organised Routines and Systems for the School Evening Routine
  • Back To School Teacher Gifts
  • Beginners Guide to Bento Lunch Boxes
  • Beginners Guide to Bento Lunch Box Accessories
  • Storing Hair Brushes/Sprays/Accessories

and so much more!!!!

Which topic are you most interested in??

Decorating for Christmas

Each year I take decorating for Christmas a little further.  Another little niche in the house gets a little Christmas flair.  This year as I unloaded the decorations from their storage boxes I couldn’t help but wish I had of taken more photos of our decorating from last year!  

Although I started with full force, and even attempted to make my own Christmas bunting this year, it took a delivery of fresh flowers from fresh flowers.com.au to really get me motivated to make a start!

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 Aren’t they divine.  As much as I love fresh flowers they are a rarity in this house.  Take one unromantic husband add the inability for us to grow our own and having no florist within 30kms and you get a flower less home.  This coming year I am going to unashamedly buy flowers for MYSELF!!!!

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The first area I started with was our buffet unit.  This is the one piece of furniture I am still undecided about so I thought by decorating it I might just learn to love it.

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  • A simple red table runner (Kmart $8)
  • A gorgeous potted Poinsettia wrapped in hessian and a green satin ribbon (freshflowers.com.au)
  • A white ceramic reindeer (Reject Shop $2)
  • A printed plate repurposed for display in a recipe book stand! (Kmart)
  • and the Noel sign, which was given to me by a student a few christmases ago! 

Above the buffet unit, hangs or advent calendar.  It’s a series of miniature numbered stockings in red, white and green fabric that I bought from Lime Tree Kids a few years ago.  Our picture shelf remains the same all year with the addition of a few lonely Christmas cards and tree decorations that have somehow made their way up there!

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The dining table was the next area to get Christmafied! Ok so this area is a little OVERWHELMING.  I searched every where for a simple white linen table runner.  The search continues.  White would be able to used all year round, but if you going to go overboard with the red and green why not do it for Christmas! This years Christmas Table centrepiece is a box of blooms for Freshflowers.com.au  

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They are just gorgeous and when this picture was taken they were already a week old!  I can’t believe how well they have lasted! I only wish Christmas was at our place this year so I could share them with our family.

Screen Shot 2013-12-19 at 6.22.03 AMOver the years we have sourced and collected these “Royal Doulton” Christmas Plates.  It all started in an antique store in Boonah where my husband discovered a Christmas Plate with his year of birth on it!  Knowing I love things like that he bought it.  What I didn’t realise is that this would turn into an endless quest for the rest of the set.

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 Finally just before last Christmas we had managed to accumulate a set of six!  They are actually quite high once they are on their stands and I have struggled to find the right place for them, when this year it dawned on me, on top of the piano!

Of course we have also decorated the tree, our wall unit and entry table!  Can anyone say OVERBOARD!  Well actually I don’t care what anyone say’s I hope one day my kids will remember me as the mother who went crazy at Christmas filling the house with festive cheer. 

 

Thank you to freshflowers.com.au for the beautiful box of flowers and inspiring me to get started on my decorating! You can order online and have fresh flowers delivered the same day!  Perfect! 

Best Books for 7 – 12 Year Olds

By now you will know that I am passionate about the joys and benefits of children reading.  Every Day, Every Where, Every Thing.  

Christmas is the perfect opportunity to stock up on books for the year ahead.  For me growing up Christmas holiday’s meant uninterrupted reading time!  EVERY Christmas I asked for books and then later on Magazines.  The Baby Sitters Club (or anything by Ann M Martin) Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton and then later the Bronte Sisters.  Oh how I hope my children love books as much as I do!!!

I must admit, in this technological age, finding books that children love, and getting them to read them is getting harder.  I strongly believe it doesn’t matter what they are reading as long as they are reading!!!!  Especially for boys, find a topic that interests them and find any book you can on the topic and suddenly you will find them immersed in books! 

So here are some of my favourite for that tricky 7 – 12 Year old group we suddenly find ourselves entering!

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1.  Dork Diaries.  This is currently an International Bestseller.  A series of chapter books that is so relatable it’s got that tween market captured.  They are a classic coming of age series dealing with not fitting in, feeling like a dork, heartbreak and embarrassing moments.  This is like a “girlier” version of Diary of A Wimpy Kid.  These are flying off the shelves and I would personally invest in a book set.  I would have loved this series as a child! 

2. Hey Jack.  This is where Master O is at.  Perfect for early readers the contexts are age appropriate and appealing to 6-9 year olds and the large print and simple vocabulary make them a great series of first chapter books.  Jack is a character from the hugely popular Billie B Brown series. He has made the transition over to a more boyish series and the stories are full of grossness, pranks and friendship dilemmas   We went with the box set as part of our “Something to read” Christmas gift giving.

3. Skylanders.  Remember what I said about finding an interest?  Master O Loves Skylanders as do most children in the 7-12 age bracket.  There are numerous books that give great insight into the lands, characters and strategies of Skylanders.  These books contain great facts about each character and my two love to look at the pictures and have Master O read out all the information.

4. Boy Vs Beast.  These are a step up in difficulty and context from Hey Jack.  The monster/alien/robot/beast theme is extremely appealing to the 7-9 year olds.  These books are a hit in the Grade 1/2/3 classroom and have a line up at the library.  The story lines are surreal and supernatural but have kids, especially boys hooked on this popular series.

5.  The Magic Faraway Tree or anything by Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl. These are the children’s classics. The characters and story lines are as appealing now as they were 30 years ago.  These make for great bedtime read aloud stories or perfect to set the imagination running wild of more independent readers.  Do not rely on the movies to tell these stories.  They really are at their best when read!

6. The Baby Sitters Club.  Well just BECAUSE!!!  Oh how I loved this series!  I was slightly obsessed and even had a small collection of related paraphernalia   Not sure that many 11 year olds actually baby sit in this age but the friendships and new story lines in each book have you dying for the next one! I still have a few oldies in my collection but will definitely be buying THE WHOLE SERIES for Little Miss A.

So they are my hot book tips for this Christmas.

 Books immerse your child in  another world, introduce new vocabulary and concept, strengthen reading skills and strategies and give them some valuable SCREEN FREE TIME!!!  

A perfect gift for your child at any time of year. 

 

This post was sponsored by Dymocks.  I was paid to give my opinion as a Mum and Teacher on some of the best book buys this Christmas!  All books mentioned above are currently available at Dymocks. 

2013 – My Christmas Elf – Day 13 – Carols and Candles

I must admit we have never gone to a community carols night before!   Between the school carols night and Christmas parties we always have something on.  But this year with a little help form our elves we were all ready to go! 

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A Carols Goodie Box with a blanket, chips, pretzels, lollies and of course glow sticks! 

The glow sticks were the hit of the night!  They each had a glow necklace (which came in handy trying to identify your child in the dark!) and either a Glow Tree stick or a glow Stick santa!

To be honest, the carols night wasn’t our thing.  Be warned slight rant ahead.  We came a little late so all the spots at the front were full so we couldn’t see a thing.  WE only had a blanket and everyone else had chairs! The music was all very slow and religious.  We had expected a fun, family night of singing and entertainment with a great mix of music so we could all join in.  There was no dancing, or bands or choirs or school groups just soloists, singing religious/slow music.  Besides the 15 minutes that Santa was on stage, the kids were not interested in what was happening and didn’t know any of the songs.  It was a community carols night, but run by a local church.  Don’t get me wrong….We are religious.  We believe that Christmas is about CHRIST, but it is a time for families and friends to enjoy time together.  A time to sing loudly and badly, to do the actions to songs with your children, to dance and be joyous.  It felt more like we were watching a Religious version of Australian Idol where each soloist was trying to out do each other with there operatic technique.  

BUT…..the upside, the kids played with glowsticks……outside…….. at night.

Seriously they could have been anywhere.  Those three simple things provided all the entertainment they needed!

 

Lesson learnt and next year we might try and find one of the council run carols nights or even just stick to the school ones.  

But we went, we ate together, spent time talking as family and we watched two excitable children run, jump, dance and play whilst glowing like Christmas Trees.   

THE JOY IN A GLOW STICK!

10 Elf On The Shelf Antics From Real Homes

Right about now is when you start to run out of Elf On The Shelf Antic ideas.  Wither that or you are just so worn out by all these Elf Antic shenanigans every night, you now lack motivation!  Our elves were hanging out on that Chandelier for more than two nights!  I just couldn’t have been bothered to get them down!

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So what better way to get re motivated then to check out some great ideas from REAL Homes! 

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Kirsten – Wally The Elf “Undecorated” the Tree!


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Kate – Our Elf The Artist!


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Susan – The Gift of Giving – A Great message from this elf!


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Elissa – A Toy Convoy with the Elf at the lead!


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Emma – Another “Elfy” Breakfast!


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Emma – All Wrapped Up! The Elf is reading on his wrapped toilet!


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Melissa – Elfred the Elf has had some fun making snowflakes!


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Tara – Bon Bon Tug Of War with the Elf and his friends!


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Rachael – A very thoughtful Elf with a gorgeous Angel.


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Melissa – A Sticky Situation! This Elf has missed his friend so much he has used his name stickers to decorate himself!

There are just so many wonderful Elf ideas out there that I could not include them all (although I may just have to do another post!)

 

ok so one more……

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Elvis The Elf, belongs to Luca and Evie! He needs a passport to get home but looks like a ship and stamps will have to do for now!

Check out The Organised Nest Facebook page for the most amazing photos from our readers! It is so inspiring to see how many mums and dads are going to great lengths to introduce the magic of the Elf into their homes this festive season!

So have you got some inspiration, a second wind, re-motivated? I certainly am and can’t wait to put these antics into practice! 

Thank you to all of our fabulous readers for sending us these great pics!