More sunshine, less whine

Sunshine and the great outdoors are the allies of the exhausted parent.

Armed with a double shot almond milk latte, in a huge mug, the lads and I began carrying supplies out to the deck for a morning of mess and imagination. Because when you are outside, mess can wait, and it does not agitate.

 

Whilst my lads age range might mean that compatibility in play is sometimes elusive, there are some things that just win every time, like sensory play.  We have used rainbow rice, cloud dough,  play dough and water play again and again over many years (new batches of course!!).  These are simple, low or no cost activities that I enjoy as much as my kids do.  It is really important to know what you enjoy in terms of play as a parent. Yes, we play things that we don’t particularly enjoy, because the kids want us to join in. But when we find things we enjoy as much as they do, the play is different. And we can all feel the difference.

 

So this morning, we played with cloud dough, play dough and rice with plastic animals and duplo. And afterwards, those animals really needed a bath.

We brought the dolls house and peg dolls I made outside, and Asher showing Tobias how to create an avalanche of animals down the staircase.  

Then we made some necklaces with our animals. “More,  more, more” resulted in Tobias wearing a zoo.

 

 

Not one complaint. No bickering. No fussing. It really isn’t rocket science; kids (big and small) need to be outside.

 

And does the fact that there are things strewn across the deck concern me? Not one iota. But if this same mess was inside, I would be finding it very hard to leave the activities out for much longer.  The lads will go in and out all day, and these things will be utilised in endless ways, as their imagination leads.

Oh, and I got to have my coffee while it was hot.  And we filled the neighbourhood with bubbles. Everyone’s a winner.


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Creative space creates space

One of the most indulgent things for me is time with a new magazine and a pot of tea. A few moments to sit, peruse and be inspired. I discovered ‘Flow’ magazine this week, and what a find! This magazine oozes inspiration, motivation and creativity. The articles in this particular issue focused around happiness, mindfulness and the wealth of time.

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I am in a stage in my life where I feel there is simply not enough time in the day for me to express and engage in the hurricane of creative ideas whirling through my mind. I go to bed every night feeling as though I missed an opportunity to learn something or try something new. I never imagined that this freedom of creative space I enjoy would cause me angst. But it does.

After reading some of the articles in Flow, I have been inspired to ponder on why I feel this way.  Does my creativity needs to be harnessed in order for me to regain the sense of playfulness that began this journey of simplicity, sustainability and creativity for me a number of years ago? I believe it does. So what does one do to regroup, and restore some balance with creative passions and the ordinary-ness of  everyday life (which is totally able to be EXTRA-ordinary too, when we live creatively!) ? Here is what I plan to do:

1.  Slow the thinking down for a bit

So many of my creative endeavours – those that have begun and those still in concept stages – are a labour of love, an active process of trial and error, planning and lots of mess making (which then needs to be cleaned up – agh!).  I strongly believe passive creativity has its place, and I aim to indulge in more of this to regain a sense of calm and fun in my creative pursuits. Passive creativity is still inherently creative, and still engages those creative parts of our brains, but with zero stress! Colouring in is my passive creative outlet of choice, and Johanna Basford is my artist of choice. What exquisite colouring books she has created, so that you and I can enjoy creativity any time, anywhere. Narrowing the creative decision making to colours as opposed to broader ideas, is a simple, yet effective way, to come back to the pure enjoyment and simplicity of creative endeavours. Just watch a child when they colour, and the calm and focus they have as they create a masterpiece. Now, you have a turn!

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2. Celebrate creativity with others

I have started hosting Crafternoon Tea and colouring parties at my house as a way to get together with friends, and to inspire and enable them to pursue creative pleasures in a way that is manageable for the stage of life we are at (children, school, sports etc).  Through setting aside pockets of time, the creator within gets a chance to be at the forefront.  Other things are set aside, and creativity reigns for an hour or two!  Hosting these get togethers has made me realise how much others crave creative outlets, and are sometimes just waiting for an opportunity to allow themselves to set aside responsibility, and nurture themselves.

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3.  Create for fun

When I have a period of time when I am not under the pump with orders for my Flair Enough business, I love to create things that are just for fun. Stationery is often my creation of choice when I get the urge to make.  I have been posting snail mail using my handmade stationery, as a therapeutic way for me to engage with people in a  simple and whimsical way. There is something magical about a handmade note in the letterbox, written for no particular reason other than to say “hi”. Snail mail is a lost art in many ways, and I want my children to see the value of handwriting, expressing oneself through the written word, and the joy of posting and receiving mail. What is your creative outlet of choice, just for fun?

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4.  Pots of tea

Tea is known to have relaxing properties, but a tea bag just doesn’t cut it, in my opinion. The ritual of pouring a pot of tea, drinking from a tea cup and saucer is good for the soul. When we drink a teabag infused cup of tea, there is often a sense of rush from the outset. But a teapot needs time – time to infuse, time to rest.  We need to do the same every now and then, so brewing a pot of tea serves as a reminder and a prompting to take some time to just BE.

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5.  Kids are creative beings – take a leaf out of their book

My children are incredibly creative, and sometimes their idea of fun is not mine. But usually, when I go along with their ideas, I get caught up in the flow and have a blast! Floor time with children is a wonderful way to foster theirs and our creativity.

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Making room for creativity, creates space in our minds. When we nurture creative thinking, we find our creative problem solving capabilities increase, we think outside of the box. Creative space creates space. But we need to create space for creative space to enjoy the benefits – and we also need to ensure that our creativity is harnessed well, rather than utterly chaotic to maximise the benefits of our creative pursuits.

Sprucing up: Bathroom Edition

I love sprucing things up. I get a real kick out of reclaiming discarded furniture and revamping it so it can be enjoyed once again. There is something deeply satisfying to me about painting over an offensive wall colour with a shade that changes the mood of a room. Finding ways to recreate a space on a minimal budget is something I have done for many years, and now we are doing it on a larger scale in our ‘new’ 1974 home.  We have been here for 9 months now, and despite being utterly sleep deprived juggling three busy lads, we have managed to make a number of changes which make this 1974 beast feel like a home that fits who we are. I will be sharing the revamping journey of our home over the coming months as we, bit by bit, wall by wall, room by room, begin to transform our home, the frugal way!

To give you an idea of what we are working with, here are a few ‘before’ photos:

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Can you guess why all of the brown was starting to do my head in? I felt like I was living on the set of a bad 1970s Australian sitcom.

But the reasons we purchased this home trump the brown-ness of it. The view, location, space and configuration were the selling points for us.

195 Carella Street, Howrah, Tas 7018

Taking a long shower is supposed to be relaxing. Do you think you could relax in that bathroom? Our original, 1974 bathroom has been quite the talking point for our friends, and incredibly, a number of them were disappointed when we painted over the tiles!

After ripping up the floor tiles, replacing some rotting boards, painting them with paint suitable for wet areas, we started to see that this budget update might really work.

The tiles were primed and painted over using White Knight tile paint, in Stone Jug and Pebble Grey.  The shower base was primed and painted with a laminate paint, and it feels relaxing, clean and fresh.

Matt installed the new vanity which he found on sale at Bunnings, and I picked up the blind from Freedom reduced from $220 to $50.  The grand total for the bathroom revamp was $700.

The List: School holiday edition

School holidays when I was a child consisted of a whole lot of reading and playing with the neighbourhood kids.  Life is so different now.  Firstly, most of our immediate neighbours were children 200 years ago, so they aren’t exactly suitable playmates for my children.  Secondly, electronic devices when I was a child consisted of vacuum cleaners and toasters, so they weren’t exactly appealing as objects of amusement.

Juggling the use of devices is an ongoing issue, and we are currently trialing a screen time token system.  Our lads don’t have their own personal device, but we do have a Wii and an iPad as well as 2 laptops which we allow them to access with our permission.  The tokens are working really well so far, as the lads are highly motivated to accumulate screen time minutes; therefore chores are done more willingly, and bedtime is no longer such a drawn out process for Middle Son.

 

However, screen time is only a minimal part of the lads day, so there is a need for other activities to fill our days.  Now with a 14 week old baby in our family (a belated post coming up about this big news!), occupying the bigger boys is a much more pressing issue!  So what does one do when they have a 7 and 8 year old who need to be entertained, but one does not have the same amount of time as in previous school holidays?  Why, you construct a list, of course! I do love lists, and grab any opportunity to pen one. So the arrival of school holidays was a fitting occasion to create a list of potential activities for the lads, so that they had a resource to go back to when the childhood profanity is spoken – “BORED!!!”

After I presented them the list, I requested that they initial any activities that sparked their interest. Here’s what happened…

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The list has since mutated, with the addition of science experiments involving water pistols, cloud dough and aluminium foil art.  I will post updates as these are ticked off the list.

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Quick & Thrifty redos

Uni starts again next week, so I am cramming in a few quick projects before I have my head stuck in books for a few months.

I paid $1 for a few off cuts of fabric from the op shop yesterday, and recovered a boring lamp and a few canvases I had around home. I still have more than half of it left. On a roll, I remembered I had a $1 doily and stitched it onto a footstool I purchased for $5 from the tip shop a few months ago. I had recovered it with black fabric given to me already, but the doily made it complete, and made me smile. The lads aren’t so sure about doilies…it is an ongoing discussion around here – The Great Doily Debate. I think you can see who is winning. Three v One, yet I still manage to have doily dominion.

These few makeovers cost next to nothing, and we have a few new splashes of colour and another seat (or footstool!) in our living space.

What do you have around the house that you could tweak so you love it and use it once again?

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Feeling cushy

Tonight it felt good to start and finish a project in an hour. I whipped up a few cushion covers using thrift shop items: a pillow case, off-cut fabric and zips. I paid around $1 for the supplies I used.

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I am thinking some napkins might be next on the list of straight line sewing projects for me.

Loveliness

It’s a week of loveliness. I’ve decided. It’s a very busy week, but it’s lovely.

Aren’t clean windows lovely? I washed our windows this afternoon. When you appreciate the lovely things in your life, even the tedious things are acts of loveliness. To enjoy our stunning view through clean (well, a few smudges here and there) windows is thoroughly gratifying.

Isn’t biscotti lovely? To bake something extra special to share with my family is lovely. Messy, but deliciously lovely. (Experimental success: gluten free, pistachio and chocolate biscotti, mmmm.)

Sunsets; they happen every single day, but never cease to be lovely.To walk along our beach at sunset… You guessed it- lovely.

To find my post-exam creative project – a vintage telephone table that I can add some colour to – that’s luxuriously lovely!!

So there you have it, I’ve decided. Despite being the big study week, this week is going up be a lovely week, full of lovely things, lovely moments and lovely thoughts. Ah, lovely.

I hope you find and create the loveliness in your week.

xx

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Treehouse Bandits

The lads enjoyed some treehouse trickery today, setting up secret traps and learning the art of Sharpie graffiti. They were having so much fun I climbed up to join them with my study. I enjoyed their company far too much to have a productive study session, mind you.
I think I will sneak some time in there next week whilst the lads are at school and set a few “traps” (aka surprises!) up of my own.

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Creative urge splurge…soon

I want to plan our 2014 holiday (because we are taking the lads overseas).

I want to redecorate our bedroom (thanks to Kirstie’s Vintage Home).

I want to recover a chair (because I have cute boys with messy hands).

I want to paint my office chair (because white is nice, but green might be fun).

I want to dust my camera off and take some photographs (because it makes my heart happy).

 

But I must study (because I have a Child and Adolescent Development exam in 10 days and I have a LOT of content to cover).

 

Multi-tasking has always been my way, yet I have managed to get things done in life despite my tendency to become easily distracted. But the past four months have shown me things about myself that I am quietly pleased to recongnise.  I have been more focused than I have ever been in my life. I have prioritised more efficiently, and I have delayed gratification like I never have before.

My creative urges are screaming out for attention, but they are being told to wait. Not to go away, but to take a seat and wait for me to finish what needs to be done.  At 11.10am on the 12th June, I will leave the exam room and these urges can have my full attention for five whole weeks.  Delaying gratification makes the gratification so much more…gratifying!!! Creative urge splurge coming up! (Be still my beating heart, get back to the books).

On that note, I best get back to what needs to be done 🙂