How Elf on a Shelf almost ruined Christmas

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Elf on a Shelf
Last year our Elf on a Shelf, Tinsel arrived. There was much fun and excitement before Christmas and the children loved it. This year Pixie told me she was scared of Tinsel and didn’t want him to come visit us because she doesn’t like that he watches her and flies around the house when no one is looking.

It really freaked her out.

Papa and I then decided to tell her the truth and to show her that Tinsel was just a toy that I had hidden away in my closet. She was petrified when I took him out of the box and wouldn’t even touch him. It was heart breaking. We then had to break the news to Koko and Fifi, who weren’t impressed with me for lying to them about it. While Koko was fine, Fifi took it badly and wanted to know why we had lied to them. Explaining to them that it was just to make the countdown to Christmas a little more exciting, she seemed to settle down… eventually.

And then we got asked the questions, IS SANTA REAL? Is the Tooth Fairy real? What about the Easter Bunny?

I refused to lie to them, and told them that Santa, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny were just fun things adults did for children for these occasions. Daddy is Santa (that’s why he hands out gifts on Christmas morning, Momma and Daddy are the Tooth Fairy and Momma is the Easter Bunny. We had 3 very sad children in our home that day. They had to grow up very fast.

We have decided that since they know Tinsel isn’t real, that they got to choose what Tinsel did every night. Each child, including Noo, gpt a turn to have him do something special, naughty, etc. The kids had loads of fun leading up to Christmas getting Tinsel to do their bidding and it made Pixie so much happier knowing that he is just a toy and not some magical Peeping Tom that is stalking her.

We forget that our children are sensitive creatures and that, while some think its fun, others might be freaked out about it. While I think its great that we like to add a little magic to Christmas for our children, we need to be honest when they ask the questions, or it may come back to bite us. Parenting can be hard sometimes, but lying to our children when they ask pointed questions about things like this is something I learned a lot about on this particular day.

You can follow the adventures of Tinsel the Elf on my Instagram account.

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Letters to Santa are Old School

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Daisypath Christmas tickers

letters to santa
With Christmas fast approaching, Koko has asked when they are going to write their letters to Santa. Fifi said she would much rather send an email to him with her online wishlist. I was flabbergasted! I couldn’t believe that my little 7 year old daughter is tech savvy enough to know what an online wishlist is, for starters and that she’d rather write an email, than a letter via snail mail.
Letters to Santa
This little conversation between siblings got me thinking. Where would one send an email to Santa? Is that even a thing?
Letters to Santa
Well OF COURSE it is! Here are a few places I have found online:

1. Clause.com
Letters to Santa
This site has a form you can fill out to send an email to Santa. It is cute and simple to use.

2. EmailSanta.com
Letters to Santa
This site not only includes a form to email Santa, but also access to the Naughty or Nice list, Christmas Countdown, Joke of the Day, Toy bag of Fun, Present counter and you can view live streaming of emails received by Santa from all over the world!

3. SantaClaus.com
Letters to Santa
If your child is old enough to write their own email from scratch, this is the site for you. This site also has an option to receive a call from the Big Guy himself.

4. Elf HQ
Letters to Santa

Santa gets millions of letters, cards, texts, faxes and emails. Thank you for choosing to send him a message through ElfHQ.com — that gets your message straight through the North Pole Post Office immediately and right into Santa’s hands as soon as possible.

Please understand though that Santa does not have time to respond to all the mail he receives. But he does read it ALL.

5. Letters to Santa
Letters to Santa
Send letters to Santa and receive an instant reply. No email address or home address needed.

6. Portable North Pole
Letters to Santa
Santa’s free video is coming later in the season!

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Happy 13th Birthday Noo!

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We’ve lectured and talked
and given advice…
We’ve worried and watched
and tried to be nice.
We’ve listened and cared
and we’ve understood…
We gave you our love
the best that we could.
So what did we get
for all that we’ve done?
A truly remarkable,
wonderful son!
Happy 13th Birthday

Duncan 0-7
Duncan 8-13

Today we celebrate Noo’s 13th birthday! EEEEEK I’m a momma to a teen now.

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Updates, Summer Holidays and an Announcement

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school holidays 1

School is officially finished for the year and Summer Holidays have begun. We will be staying home for most of the summer holiday and will be visiting with family and friends starting new Christmas time traditions. We will be driving down for the day to spend time with my Gran and my maternal family for Christmas. The kids are super excited to get all the Christmas decorations up. I’ve been really sick with severe bronchitis so we still don’t have anything up.

Updates


Noo
Noo has accomplished so much this year and received his first academic award this morning. I’m so proud of him. He has grasped that hard work is rewarded and that it feels great to stand up in front of the school parent body to be acknowledged. He will be moving upward and onward to Grade 7 next year!

Koko
Koko has done exceptionally well this year. He continues to surpass my expectations. He joined the local Cub Scout Pack in the middle of this year and has really taken to it! He has set goals for himself on which badges he wants to work towards and has is meeting his goals. He finished his assessments yesterday and, having looked through them, he has done exceptionally well. We’ll be sending the assessments off to Clonard Distance Education (our curriculum providers) over the weekend once I have completed all the necessary documentation that needs to accompany them. He will be moving upward and onward to Grade 2 next year!

Fifi
Fifi is reading and will be starting Grade 1 in January! She just amazes every day. I decided to skip Grade R (South Africa’s version of Kindergarten) with her as she has been working on mostly Kindy work this year. I will continue working at her pace but will not put undue pressure on her. If it takes her longer than a year to complete Grade 1, then so be it. Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons (Available in South Africa here) has worked wonders with yet another child. Noo and Koko both used this program and I’ll be using it again when the time comes for Pixie to learn. Fifi is super excited to get started with Grade 1.

Pixie
Pixie is thriving with the way we school together. I continue to use the Montessori method with her as it works well and lets her be as independent as she wants (within reason, of course). Adding Pixie to the mix this year, has been the toughest adjustment for me since starting our homeschooling journey 6 years ago. I have learned a lot from her this year and I continue to discover new things, not only about her, but me too. I look forward to continuing Totschool with her next year.

The BIG Announcement


On a rather sad and difficult note, Noo has decided that he wants to live with his father on the other side of Johannesburg (about an hour and a half away, traffic dependent). He is of the age where he needs his dad as a constant figure in his life. Yes he has Steve, but it’s not the same. He is both excited and anxious to start Grade 7 in another primary school, but excited that he will get to take those same friends into high school with him the following year. This is a step that has been a long time in coming and, even though I have known for a few years that he wanted to live with his father when he reached high school age, its going to be tough to say good bye and only see him every other weekend and school holiday. He will be officially moving in with his father on 24 December and will become an only child once again. Boy, I’m going to miss him!

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Field Trip: Johannesburg Zoo – Animals of the Amazon

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I took the children on a little field trip, during Noo’s school holidays, to the Johannesburg Zoo on Tuesday.

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We usually walk the same path every time, but this time I decided that we were going to walk a completely different route to what we usually do and boy and I glad we did.

We started out at the owls, Pixie and my favourite bird.

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Laughing Kookaburra

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We spent the better part of the morning learning all bout Amazon creatures. They have a new, permanent, exhibit called “Animals of the Amazon“. Its a fairly new exhibit and the kids LOVED looking at the spiders, snakes, frogs (these can’t be my kids, I have Ophidiophobia – snake phobia and Batrachophobia – frog phobia), fish in the aquarium with a tunnel, bats, Tamarins, Puma, Armadillo and Ringtailed Coati…

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COLOURFUL and captivating animals from the Amazon Basin made their debut appearance at the Joburg Zoo in the brand-new Animals of the Amazon exhibit on Thursday, 24 April.

The animals include the gigantic yellow anaconda, Amazon tree boa constrictors, Honduran milk snakes, curly-hair tarantulas, Costa Rican tiger rump spiders, green iguana, Seba-short tailed bats, freshwater fish, and primates from central and South America.

The Amazon Basin, covering areas in Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador, is home to a number of these species.

The Animals of the Amazon Exhibit is housed in a two-storey building built to resemble an ancient Mayan temple; the enclosures include a dome-shaped freshwater aquarium with a walk-through tunnel.

The Mayans were keen scientists and their descendants still live in the Amazon Basin area today. To evoke the ethos of the Mayans’s art and architecture, the enclosures have been decorated with crafted rocks and trees indigenous to the Amazon Basin. Walking through the exhibit is sure to have visitors imagining they’re exploring the Basin itself.

Source

I have never seen my kids so taken by an exhibit at the zoo. They have very friendly guides that give you more information on the animals. I didn’t take any photos of the aquarium, I was to taken by the tunnel and the fish seemingly swimming around us.

Iguana

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Basilisk Lizard
Yup, a Basilisk is a large lizard, not a snake. Who knew?

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Spiders

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Snakes
Fake Water Cobra

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We saw a little anaconda and around the corner was a big anaconda which reared its head out of the water when Noo put his face to the glass. He got such a fright and had us all rolling with laughter.

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Frogs
We, unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on who you ask, LOL), only got to see 2 frogs as it was cold and frogs burrow undergrounds to keep warm.

Blue Dart Frog

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Cane Toad *shudder*

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Bats
They have both Fruit and Short Tailed Bats here. I’m not sure which is which. Pixie loved watching them fly around their little makeshift cave.

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Tamarins

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Ringtailed Coati
The armadillos were burrowed underground, so we didn’t get to see one. We’ll need to go back during summer to see them.

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Puma

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After finishing up at the Animals of the Amazon exhibit, we walked through the rest of the zoo to look at the animals.

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The children love wild animals and this was a real treat for them.

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We missed the Polar Bear feeding by all of 5 minutes. By the time we got there, they had eaten all their fish, bar one that was still in the water. This bear was basking in the warm sun, fast asleep.

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This enclosure is, by far, the smelliest at the zoo.

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Pixie’s favourite, the Zebra.

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African Lions.

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White African Lions.

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We learned about the animal food chain.

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Ground Squirrels.

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And of course a visit to the zoo wouldn’t be complete without seeing the Elephant.

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We found King Julian the Ring Tailed Lemur.

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Happy 12th Birthday Noo

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noo 12

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