52/52 – A portrait a week / Christmas 2014

We made it!  52 weeks of portraits of my kids (and I didn’t miss one!).  I started out this year’s project with portraits of just Moose (and on another blog too!), with Little R yet to be born!  A lot can change over the course of a year.

To finish off the project for 2014, and seeing as we’ve just come back from a beautiful Christmas week in our favourite holiday spot – Nelson Bay in the Port Stephens area of NSW – I’m going to super-size this entry with some additional photos from our week just past.


 watermarked - moose 52 of 52 2014 1So happy to finally be at the beach

watermarked - moose 52 of 52 2014 2That smile is pure joy

watermarked - moose 52 of 52 2014 3Posing in front of our festive cabin

watermarked - moose 52 of 52 2014 4My breath – taken away

Little R:

watermarked - little r 52 of 52 2014 1 First time with feet in the water – a special moment

watermarked - little r 52 of 52 2014 2Hard to tell whether he liked or disliked the beach, I think overall he was just curious

watermarked - little r 52 of 52 2014 3 Opening presents on his first Christmas Day

watermarked - little r 52 of 52 2014 4Surveying his winnings


When we arrived at Nelson Bay, we learnt that the weather forecast for the week ahead was storms, rain and more storms.  We woke up on our first morning to grey skies and scattered showers, and I was devastated.  This was the first proper family holiday we’d had in a couple of years, and the first with Little R, the thought of our week at the beach being marred by bad weather was almost unbearable.  But then miraculously, the clouds drifted away to reveal a bright, beaming sky and we were treated to sunny, warm days for the rest of the week.  Cue lots of swimming and splashing about in the ocean!


watermarked - 52 of 52 2014 2Little Beach – Nelson Bay.  Our special place.

  watermarked - 52 of 52 2014 4The view from the Nelson Bay lighthouse, looking out over Shoal Beach and the islands in the distance


Christmas Day was wonderful, we opened presents together before cooking up a big barbeque breakfast – bacon, eggs, sausages, tomatoes, hash browns and toast.  Then it was time to hit the beach as the cars just kept rolling up, I’ve never seen our little beach so busy before!  Families were arriving in groups with their gazebos and tents, their picnic chairs, their eskies and barbeques, their blow-up rings and jetskis.  Spending Christmas Day at the beach was such a treat, so much fun and so great to be with not only our own family but so many other families, enjoying a wonderful day out by the water.  After a light lunch and nibbling on cheese for afternoon tea (accompanied by Shandies! You can’t go wrong with a Shandy on Christmas Day in Australia), we cooked up a delicious Christmas dinner – barbeque chicken, garlic prawns, salad and rolls, and then as we lazed about contentedly in our food daze we watched a big angry storm engulf the skies and the sea.  It was heaven.


watermarked - 52 of 52 2014 3The secret pathway to Shoal Beach

watermarked - 52 of 52 2014 1

Some frequent visitors


I hope your Christmas Day was just as magical and happy as you could have wished for!  Will  you be joining in with The 52 Project in 2015?  I definitely will, it’s been such a great tool for remembering to take more photos of the kids, for finding the beauty in our everyday moments, and for creating a lovely keepsake over the year.


52 projectAnd that completes one year of The 52 Project at Practising Simplicity, but I’ll be back to do it all again in 2015!


Christmas at our place

watermarked - christmas tree

Every year at Christmas time, now that I’m a parent, I find my focus naturally turns to spending as much quality time with Moose, and now Little R, as possible and making this time of year as meaningful and magical for our family as we can.

We aren’t religious, so that side of Christmas is irrelevant for us.  But the meaning of Christmas for me is that focus on family, setting all other priorities and obligations aside and instead turning inwards to our own circle, immersing ourselves in all the magic that the season brings, celebrating by embracing the activities and the food and the music and the decorations and the get-togethers, and being thankful for all we have while also remembering others who aren’t so fortunate and how we might help them.

We already have a few Christmas traditions in our little family.  My rule is that when the Christmas tree is going up, Christmas music MUST be played while we decorate!  We have also placed a present under the Kmart Wishing Tree, and spoken about what it means to do this, each year since Moose was born, and have now started leaving a second gift from Little R too.  We leave biscuits and milk out for Santa to snack on when he comes by on Christmas Eve.  We post Christmas cards to our friends and family, even if they live close by (because mail = fun!). And we always try to get out on at least one night to find the houses with the best light displays (although it seems like each year it gets dark later and later – it’s still not quite dark enough even at 8.30!).

This year we’ve tried some new activities too, which I think will become extra Christmas traditions at our house from now on.  We wrote and posted a letter to Santa (still waiting for the reply though), and we also created our own homemade advent calendar.

A friend told me about this advent calendar idea and I was so excited I could hardly wait to get started!  Instead of a boring, plastic-y chocolate on each of the 24 days before the big one, you are given a Christmas-related task or activity to complete instead.  So much more interesting and worthwhile, and a great tool for connecting with the kids too!  To make my calendar, I found a free advent calendar printable on Pinterest (mine came from Dotty Wren Studio), printed it in A3 (so that each square was big enough to comfortably write on the back of), and pasted it on to some lightweight card to make it more durable (not an essential part of the process).  Then I cut out each of the squares, and on the back of each one, wrote my Christmas task for that day.  Hint: plan this ahead by looking through your calendar/diary for the month of December, to make sure you don’t allocate tasks that will be unachievable on a particular day if you have other plans.  For example, we are holidaying for Christmas this year and will be driving interstate a few days before Christmas Day, so I needed tasks that we could easily do while travelling, eg. listen to Christmas music, watch the Christmas Carols on TV, etc.  Some of the other tasks I included are:

  • do some Christmas colouring-in together (find a free printable online, Kidspot has some good ones)
  • watch a Christmas movie
  • find out how Christmas is celebrated in other countries around the world
  • paint your nails Christmas colours
  • make some Christmas food

I got another piece of A3 card and covered it in festive wrapping paper as a background.  Then I arranged the squares on to the background in the shape of a Christmas tree, and simply stuck them on with Blu-Tack.


watermarked - advent calendar 1

This advent calendar has been such a winner, ours is stuck on the wall in our kitchen at child-height and each morning the first thing Moose says is “Can we do the calendar?!”.  We’ll definitely be carrying this tradition on for years to come.


watermarked - advent calendar 2

An excited (and messy-haired!) Moose with her calendar.

Here’s a tradition we may not carry on for years to come – our awesome attempt at Strawberry Santas.  Lol – NAILED IT!


watermarked - strawberry santas

I don’t know what possessed me to use whipped cream in a can, it melted the moment it came out so we had to scoff them as soon as we were making them!  Better luck next time, Mrs W.

We’re going on holiday for Christmas this year, something we’ve never done before, and we’ve all been looking forward to it so much.  It’s been a while, and a lot of change and stress and obligations, in between family holidays for us, and will probably be a while before we can have another one after this.  So we’ll be spending Christmas Day sunning it up at the beach at our favourite holiday spot – Nelson Bay in the gorgeous Port Stephens area of the NSW mid-north coast.

Whatever you’re up to, I wish you and your family a happy and beautiful Christmas!