Monday, 10 December 2018

Three Christian-themed Christmas Books ... With A Twist!

This year we are doing our Book Advent again, as you'll know if you follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. To mix things up I'm attempting separate books for my kids which is proving a challenge! But sorting through books to decide whose pile they should go in has reminded me of how lovely these books are.

As a Christian I like to share books with my children that highlight the religious meaning of Christmas, but there are only so many retellings of the Nativity I can read! However, the three books featured in this post bring something new to the Christmas story. Even if you're not a religious family I think these books are a good way of reminding children that Christmas is about more than presents.

Babushka by Sandra Ann Horn and Sophie Fatus

This is a telling of a Russian folk tale. Babushka is so busy keeping her little house tidy that she almost completely misses the wonders around her - a bright star travelling through the sky, kings arriving from afar and so on. But when she hears about the birth of a special baby, she sets out with gifts for him. On her way she encounters people who need those gifts, until she is left without anything to offer the baby - or is she? This is a lovely story about not being too busy focussing on the details to see the bigger picture, and about the importance of giving to others in need. The retelling is lively and fun for little ones, and Fatus's illustrations are so quirky and colourful, they really capture a festive feel.

The Fox's Tale by Nick Butterworth and Mick Inkpen

Last year I wrote about the gorgeous 'Refuge', which tells the Nativity story through the eyes of the donkey. This book, a collaboration between two giants from the world of picture books, takes the perspective of a fox. The fox has his eye on a lonely lamb in the fields outside Bethlehem when suddenly a bright light fills the sky. He sees the shepherds being told to go to Bethlehem to meet a baby king, and follows them to see what it's all about. And the lamb? Well, it turns out to have a special role in the situation. This is a really interesting retelling, especially good for animal-loving children, and encourages the reader to consider different perspectives.

The Miracle of The First Poinsettia by Joanne Oppenheim and Fabian Negrin

Departing from the Nativity, this book is based on a Mexican legend. Juanita's family have fallen on hard times meaning she has no money to buy gifts, either for her family or to place at the altar at Christmas Eve Mass as her friends and neighbours will. But her mother and an angelic encounter help her realise that the best gift to give is a kind, loving heart. This book never fails to get me choked up, the words are so beautiful and the stunning illustrations complement them perfectly. It's a really good way of learning about Christmas as celebrated by another culture, and includes Spanish words in the text, with a glossary at the end.

Do you read books about the religious meaning of Christmas with your children? Which ones do you enjoy?

Linking up with #ReadWithMe hosted by Mama Mummy Mum.

Read With Me

Monday, 3 December 2018

Things We've Done To Be Greener In ... November

Is it just me or did November disappear in a flash? I'm totally not ready for December, especially trying to find ways to be greener at Christmastime! If you have any tips let me know!

Last month passed in a blur for us which means I didn't really get to think hard about eco-friendly choices, but here's what we have done.

Become snack aware

I mentioned last month that I'd started making an Ecobrick. Well I'm still plodding along with that whenever I find time, but one thing it did was make me aware of just how many sugary snacks we get through as a family, and to be honest I account for about 75% of it! So this month I've worked hard to reduce my chocolate, cake and biscuit intake, not only for my health but to reduce the amount of packaging we generate. I've tried to opt for fruit or toast when feeling hungry, and not having a biscuit with every cuppa!! I've also started baking with Toddler once a week so some of our sweet treats can be packaging-free. It's something I used to do regularly with Girl Child but got out of the habit after Toddler came along, I really missed it so it would to get back into it again.

Switched to greener cleaning products

I'd already become a whizz with bicarb and white vinegar, but some cleaning products are too tricky to dispense with. But there are options on the market that avoid the nastier chemicals that are ending up in our water supply. Our trusty local zero waste shop has really helped with this, and we now use Ecoleaf laundry liquid and washing up liquid - and can reuse our old bottles and fill them up at the shop, thus reducing packaging again! The big sticking point we have at the moment is dishwasher tablets. Our options seem to be either tablets in individual disposable plastic packets, or coated with some kind of soluble plastic which obviously will end up as microplastics in our water supply. I know I could get the individual powders but with no instructions for our dishwasher I'm worried about doing the wrong thing. So if anyone can help me out here that would be great, just leave a comment below!

So, another month down. Next month you'll get to hear how we coped with the consumer-fest that is Christmas. Eek!