Sunday, April 3, 2011

In Love With Old.

The buying ban is going well. It has been a lot of fun, actually. Apart from my regular hankering for a Thermomix, I haven't yet missed anything. All our needs have thus far been met, and we are enjoying being creative in sourcing things. If we can't find something, we don't buy it.

We have broken the buying ban once. We moved our chicken pen to the back of our block, and discovered that our backyard hose was not long enough to reach the new pen. We bought a hose connector to join our two hoses up so we could still replenish the duck pond and chicken drinking water. We bought a metal one, on the premise that it will last longer, and is less likely to break and become landfill.

I have developed a slight eBay addiction hobby. In fact, I have mastered the art of 'snipering' and have developed a failsafe strategy for keeping the bids low whilst still ensuring the kill win purchase.

So, here are some of my favourite purchases this year.... some of these have come from local Facebook secondhand selling sites, some from Gumtree and of course, some from eBay.

 I actually haven't decided whether this enamel milk jug and cream container will be purely decorative or not.... but I just love them!

 I gave my old plastic washing basket to my mum when I found this gorgeous sturdy wicker one. Wicker baskets make me feel like more of a wife and homemaker. I can't explain it, they are just magic like that.

 Nath cracked my old (cheap) mortar and pestle and for the first time during the buying ban I was worried as I wasn't sure I would find a decent one secondhand - its not the kind of thing people generally get rid of. However, I was lucky enough to find this beauty on gumtree for $40, and, even better, it had only ever been used for decorative purposes! These usually sell for $70 - $80 new.
The sifter was something I bought after cleaning out my overflowing Tupperware cupboard. Over the years, I have bought so much Tupperware that I literally had to open the door to the cupboard, throw things in and shut the door quickly so nothing fell out. I did a huge cleanout, partially to empty my cupboard and partially to rid our kitchen of unneccessary plastic. I grew up with a sifter like this (although my mum has since 'upgraded'!) and was thrilled to find this one cheap on eBay.

 I bought Nath this didgeridoo as a gift from someone locally who was selling things in preparation to move. Nath first started dreaming of owning a didgeridoo over five years ago when we were travelling. I remember him looking at some at the markets in Broome. At the time, all of our money was going towards caravan park fees, fuel to get to the next place and food. Finally, I am able to treat him to one. This one is made from Northern Territory Blackbutt wood.

I remember a set of these lined up on my grandmother's benchtop when I was a little girl. This was a purely nostalgic purchase, and well worth it for the looks on my own girls' faces when they saw them - they love the shiny, bright colours (and the sound the lids make when clanged together).

These purchases have weaved their way into the texture of our home and make our spaces feel like they have a bit of story to them. I am loving my home these days, it is so rewarding to create a beautiful, restoring place for our family, and for my children to be able to grow up with some of the memories of special things, similar to the ones that I have from my childhood in my mother's kitchen and laundry, as well as my grandmother's.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

It's The Small Things.

Right now, I am sitting in a friend's house, watching her two beautiful boys for her while she and her partner are out for the night. The boys are both sleeping, I'm curled up on the couch with an iced coffee, a block of chocolate and Season One of Gray's Anatomy. The Cats just won the football, and tomorrow is Sunday.

It's the small things that make me happy, and today has been full of small things....

Chatting to a friend I haven't spoken to in a while....

Taking the kids to watch some vintage racing cars race up Mt Ommaney...

Miya saying, as we watched the cars, "I LOVE this! This is my FAVOURITE day!"....

Nath and the girls going for a picnic in the park, giving me valuable time by myself.....

Having a wonderful four hour nap this afternoon while my girls first slept, then played happily....

Ordering our Autumn seed collection ready for planting next weekend....

Both Eden and Miya saying "I love you", unprompted, at different points of the day....

Looking at the housework and thinking, "It will wait."....

Counting four little green tomatoes growing on our tree....

Watching the girls pick herbs and salad greens from our garden to go in the scrambled eggs from our chickens....

What have your 'small things' been? I'd love to hear them, being the voyeur that I am....

Friday, April 1, 2011

It's Been Awhile.

I apologise for my absence of late. Amidst holidaying, returning to routine and other bits and pieces that have been going on, I have also been feeling like I have sitting in a creative hollow as far as blogging is concerned. There are a few reasons for this, not all of which I am willing to share, and some of which have taken some soul searching to get to the bottom of.

As a blogger, I enjoy not only writing my own thoughts and experiences but reading the things that other people write, too. I subscribe to over fifty blogs and I read the feeds from these daily. I am terrible at sharing the comments love on other people's blogs, but I love to read them. It feels like a looking glass into people's lives, and I am voyeuristic like that!

However, I was finding that the more I delved into the blogging world, the more disheartened I was becoming. I went through a bit of a blogging existential crisis. I would read about people who received thousands of visits every week, and my humble little blog was plodding towards 4000 visits for the entire few months of its existence. I would see bloggers cross referencing each other, engaging in banter within their posts, be nominated for awards, attract sponsors. I would be very happy for them, these favourite bloggers of mine, but my own exciting blogging moments were limited to seeing another visitor pop up on my page. I'm not sure why all of this bothered me, but it did.

I also found that I was reading blogs written by people with very similar values to me, walking very similar paths, except they seemed to do it so much better than me. Their days seem filled with effortless transitions from one peaceful, meaningful activity to the next, constantly taking advantage of endless learning opportunities that magically arose in their day, peppered with wholesome, homemade, organic snacks and meals for their incredibly well-behaved, calm and tranquil families.

Now, I know it is harder than that. But I also know that blogging becomes our calm place, our place to celebrate the positive things from the day. In our family, those beautiful, educational, wholesome moments happen in between tantrums, headaches, dirty floors, sneaky I-Can't-Be-Bothered-Tonight pizza nights (and not always the healthy homemade ones!), sibling arguments, sulks and a few frequent maternal losses of temper. We are not perfect. We are far from it. I am sorry if my blog thus far has led you to believe otherwise. It's just that, after a day of wading through the shitty moments looking for the good ones, I really don't want to have to relive it by writing about them. Those moments are put to bed when the kids are, and washed down with a glass of wine.

My blog may never win awards. It may not be read by thousands of people. But this little blog will continue to be the place I come to when I reflect on my day, the medium by which I realise "Hey, I'm not doing a bad job here. I'm doing ok."

This blog will continue to be a record of the road I am walking. It will continue to be the space in which I write about my fumbling attempts to live a simpler, greener, calmer life. I have never claimed to be perfect. I have never claimed to be an expert. I don't expect anyone to change the way they live, I am not in the business of judging others for their lifestyle decisions. This blog is my selfish place. This blog is about me. You are welcome along for the ride, but please remember, this is my ride. I will keep blogging, readers or no readers, in order to be true to myself.

So, I'm back.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Wise Man Once Said....

Yesterday was International Women's Day. As usual, I was late to the party (today, I rang my dad to ask him a banking question..... then rang him five minutes later and very ashamedly wished him a happy birthday.)

There have been some beautiful posts by different very talented bloggers on the subject of International Women's Day. You can check a couple of them out here, here and here.

I thought I mark the occasion with a little tribute to the role of a woman, which I have paraphrased from the writings of a very wise man. In doing this, I in no way mean to dismiss or trivialise the suffering and inequality that many, many women across the globe experience. I simply aim to celebrate the strength, diversity and value of womanhood.

An honourable woman is a find and a half, better for you fellas than all the money in the world, if you know what's good for you.
Her hubby is grateful that she's got it covered, he's ok, everything is alright.
She is the good in his life and doesn't get him down.
She knows how to shop... only the best! She goes all over town looking for bargains.
She's first up in the morning, making breaky and lunches for the kids.
She buys the things the family needs, saving money here and there to make ends meet.
She works out... sometimes by lifting the washing basket or hoisting a baby around as she does all the housework.She sits on Ebay and Freecycle, trying to make sure that what money goes out, comes back in (or at least, close enough). This may mean she doesn't get to bed before midnight.
She learns how to sew, so she can do the mending... or at least, knows someone who can.
She donates to charity and volunteers around the place.
When its cold, she dresses the kids in red.... its supposed to cheer them up, even if they are still freezing.
She pulls the doonas up when the kids have gone to school and sometimes even makes it out of her pyjamas.
Her husband is pretty well known down the pub, and has to sit through a few 'shouts' before he can come home. (She feeds, washes and puts the kids to bed)
She figures out how to sew, then flogs her products down at the markets.
She often looks more glamorous than she feels (she removes her uggboots before she goes out) and knows that, geez, if you don't laugh, you'll cry, and what's the point in that?
She talks as though she knows what she's going on about, and likes to tell people what to do (the kids, most of all.)
She keeps a close eye on everyone in the fam (and reminds them to take their library bags to school) and keeps the carbs to a minimum. And doesn't believe that an hour of Dr Phil is in any way lazy.
Her kids, if they thought about it, would reckon she was alright, and her hubby says "Good onya, Darl, you're the pick of the bunch" every now and then, too.
Actions speak louder than words, and beauty is only skin deep (thank god) but the spirit and heart of a good woman deserves a good reputation around town.
Give her what's owing her and don't forget to tell her she's beaut when you see her down the shops.

Now that was one wise fella.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Soul-Feeding Play

In one of our many discussions about parenting this week, I said to Nath that parenting is much like trying to shape running water with your hands. No matter how much you try to make it hold its position, it will slip through your fingers and refuse to be contained. We have had 'one of those weeks' in the life of a parent. Just when we thought we were making headway with one particular behaviour, another one springs up and leaves us floundering.

We stayed with some friends over the weekend, on their property in the Toodyay hills. These are good people, and their love of cooking and eating wonderful food I naturally appreciate! They have created an amazing haven there on their little patch of earth, and it leaves you feeling relaxed, calm and contemplative.

My children, especially, loved their time there. They were so calm and engaged, and inquisitive and exploratory. I love it when they are like that. They become little adventurers, discoverers, wonderers.

I sat back in that space to watch them, and it occurred to me... this place has a soul. It is filled with beauty, but, more than that, everything surrounding me was made with natural materials. I tested my theory, gazing around the room. No plastic. Just a vast array of handpicked items made from wood, silk, pottery, felt, stone and glass. I talked to our host about this and she said yes, it had been intentional, as things of plastic have no life force, no connection.

I have been reading quite a bit about the Steiner approach to child development, learning and play. The idea of simplifying your child's play space is something I have come across a bit in my reading... not just simplifying the kinds of playthings your child has access to, but also simplifying the amount. I have been reflecting on the fact that whenever my children are presented with fewer play options, their play is far more focused, far more creative and far more engaging.

I came away from our friends' house inspired and determined to get back into our girls' playroom and transform it from an overly 'plasticised' toy storage zone into a meaningful space that will allow them to play creatively and provide them with some areas to retreat to when things become overwhelming.

Here are the results.

The girls' home corner, complete with a lovely tin tea set.
Quiet space for reading, and toys in baskets.
Miya often needs a space to retreat to - this is perfect.
The drawing/sorting/crafting table.
Small selections of toys - not too overwhelming.
Finger puppets, great for oral storytelling.
Scarves, mostly used for dancing with.
Music toys.
The girls love their 'new playspace' and it has such a positive impact on their behaviour. Their play is contented, calm and creative and they are no longer overwhelmed by the sheer volume of 'stuff' in their playroom (and the mess that needs cleaning at the end of each day!)

And better still, by selling some of their old toys, I have made enough money to buy some gorgeous, WA handmade Waldorf dolls from here!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

May You Keep Your Feet On The Ground And Your Head In The Clouds

May You Keep Your Feet On The Ground And Your Head In The Clouds
It may seem strange to begin my post with a benediction, but this is where I have arrived after a week of pondering direction, choices and our wishes for the future. For the last few months (the entire life of this blog, in fact) I have felt weightless in life. 

Unsure of the next step, waiting, wondering where the wind will next blow.

Like Mrs Robinson hiding her secrets in the pantry, I have worked hard to seem 'settled'. You know the old saying 'fake it 'til you make it'? We have tried to buy a house here... Miya is enrolled in school... I am in committees, friendship groups, involved in weekly activities... we made plans for the future. After years of moving around, shifting house, town, even state every couple of years, I felt I was ready to give being settled a go. It is, after all, what married people who have children do.

Then we missed out on the house. And I quit my job. And we decided to move to Broome.

And the old anxieties started to whisper in my ear... are you sure this is the responsible thing? People will think you are unreliable. Shouldn't you be providing a settled childhood for your children?
I quietened them with a dose of common sense, and by remaining focused solely on the needs of our family. I anchored myself to this plan, this direction, and felt buffered from the winds.

Until this week.

This week, we got options. That may seem like a great thing (how many people in how many countries would not even dream of the options we are blessed with?) but really, all it served to do is re-energise those little whispers in my head.... see? You don't have to do this.... you could forget the whole thing.....the kids are happy here..... and left me reeling. Confused. Unsure, again.

The worse thing is, not even our options are set in stone. Things are open, nothing is certain... there is so much waiting to be done... continuing on with life, knowing things are about to change, but not knowing how, or when.

Many hours have been spent reflecting, discussing, considering the options. I have realised, through all of this, that in the same way many people are terrified of becoming married, I am scared of settling down. I am scared of committing to one place. There are so many wonderful places on this Earth, even just in this great state... and right now, I am torn between just two of them.

It leaves me questioning the premise of home. Our eldest daughter was named Miya, because that word means 'Home' in the Indigenous language of the Yindjibarndi people of the Pilbara area of Western Australia, where we lived when we decided to try for a baby. By the time we welcomed her into our lives, we had been travelling, and were now in the process of 'putting down roots' and setting up home in the hustle and bustle of Melbourne.

It was a hard process. We were broke. We had large gaps in our resumes from the time we had spent on the road. Just feeding ourselves was damn hard work. We felt countryless - like strangers in a land we didn't understand.

The along came our baby.

We understood 'home' for the first time. Home was what we were making for her. Home was us, the three (and later, four) of us, wherever we were. Home was fiercely protecting the sanctity of our family... against work commitments, against the breakdown in communication that often sneaks in without warning... against things that vy for our time and attention and keep us turning away from our most loved ones.

We are relearning this now. We relearn this everyday.. and will continue to do so, I suspect, until our days run out.

I am drawn to the analogy of a tree. The idea of being grounded, yet reaching skyward to our dreams and hopes. Knowing what is good, and right, and healthy... meeting the needs of our family, but not being afraid to think big, to look at the impossible, and wonder.

A tree. A symbol of strength, of tranquility. I picture this, and I know that I can make home. I know that I can be grounded, provide, enjoy my family, wherever we are. I know that, ultimately, it doesn't matter which path we take - what matters is that we continually turn inwards, into our souls, into each other. That we place the needs of our family above all other considerations.
We can do that anywhere. We know this, because it is what we have done in the past.

It's nice, sitting in the shade of our family.

Monday, February 28, 2011

10 Things I Love About Broome

Nath has been shortlisted for a job in Broome he applied for. His interview is tomorrow, and it is very difficult for me to NOT jump the gun and start packing my bags (although I must admit to having done an inventory of every room, preparing for a big pre-moving clean out!)

The next best thing for me, then, is to spend large amounts of my day dreaming about the next chapter of our life (fingers crossed!) and remembering all the things I loved about Broome when we were there a few years ago, and missed when we left.

1) Obviously, the beaches. Cable Beach is truly one of God's greatest triumphs and every bit as good as the glossy pictures you see in travel magazines.

2) Broome Courthouse Markets: an explosion of colour, smell, sounds.... everything the soul needs! A mecca for a hippy like me.

3) The Kimberley Bookshop: one of the best bookshops I have ever been to. Obviously this will be out of bounds this year whilst I am still on my buying ban, but I am sure it will be visited in the future!

4) The cocktails: especially the mango ones. I dare not try a mango cocktail anywhere else! These ones came from the Sand Bar and Grill (as it was) right on the beachfront on Cable Beach.

5) The Sun Outdoor Pictures: established in 1916, this is a still-operating relic of old pearling times in the region. I love sitting on the old sling-back deck chairs, as uncomfortable as they are, and soaking up the balmy Broome atmosphere.

6) Divers Tavern: not the flashest bar in town but it brings back memories of wilder, younger days and girlie trips with my teaching friends.

7) Fishing at Town Beach: when we were broke and travelling, this beach was a regular spot for us, trying to catch ourselves a free feed.

8) The Waifs 'Take It In' - my all time favourite song from my all time favourite band, about my all time favourite part of the world.

9) The food - of course! Whilst in Broome I ate crocodile and goanna for the first time... and one of my favourite little Italian places - Cafe Carlotta is tucked away in a quiet corner of Broome, waiting for my return!

10) Our best mate Luke who moved to Broome recently - we can't wait to see you and are looking forward to more adventures with you.
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