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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Dear Mum. AKA “Instructions for caring for my toddler”

Dear Mum,

I am grateful to you for your willingness to care for Tobias while I go to work on Friday’s. I know you raised three children of your own, but that was back in the days of 4 hour schedules and the era where the parents called the shots. So much has changed.  I mean, almost 4 decades have passed and things are different now, Mum. Kids are too, you know. So I can help you learn the ropes, by writing you some instructions.

So here is the drill. I will write you a list, and this list should be kept out of reach of said toddler, because he will either eat it, paint it or poo on it. Then you are going to be in a world of trouble, because how will you know how to look after my toddler without the list?  The list will specify times, and methods that you will find will help you operate Tobias. If you skip instructions, he is likely to malfunction. Which in turn, leads to you (or I) doing the same.

So follow the list.

I have yet to finalise the list, but here is a rough draft.

DRAFT ONLY

  1. Tobias needs to drink. He has a sippy cup which needs to be within his reach. It also needs to be placed in his face, on regular intervals as he does not yet know the importance of hydration. So as his carer, you must be one step ahead at all times.
  2. Tobias needs to eat. He usually eats in his high chair, but these have changed a lot since you were doing the parenting thing, so I would suggest that you sit him at his table. Because I don’t want phone calls at work saying he is stuck in the high chair.  Whilst Tobias might not want to eat, it is imperative that he does, because he might not sleep well on an empty stomach (and we all know that not enough sleep is pretty much the worst thing ever). Sing to him, play trains (place the food on the spoon) going into the tunnel ( move food into his mouth). This usually works. You can mix it up a bit too, and you can go all retro on him if you like and do the plane thing that your generation loved so much.
  3. Tobias likes books. I don’t think there are any regulations for this instruction. Feel free to improvise.
  4. Fresh air is important (but not as important as you lot used to think with leaving us outside between meals, only allowed to come in to use the facilities).
  5. Bedtime routine – ok, this is the MOST IMPORTANT BIT. Don’t skip anything, do JUST AS THE LIST SAYS, otherwise the unthinkable may happen – he may miss a nap!!!!!!!
    1. All of the above.
    2. Nappy change – I bought those nappy pants for Friday’s, so you don’t             have to work around tabs and stuff. You know, you might put it on back the front or sideways, so always look at the picture.  The picture is what he will pee on.
    3. Sleeping bag – this is what modern parents refer to as a ‘sleep cue’. Tobias by now should be starting to get the message that it is time for sleep.
    4. Story time – reading on the couch – another sleep cue.
    5. Walk to the bedroom.
    6. Turn on the heater – to setting 1.
    7. Turn on the white noise on my old school pink radio you bought me when I was 12. Put it on FM, volume dial about 1/3 way around and off channel.
    8. Walk to cot.
    9. Rock, pat, sshhhhh shhhhh shhhhh.
    10. Place toddler into bed, feet pointing north, on his tummy.
    11. CRAP!! I FORGOT THE DUMMY – GO BACK TO NUMBER 5 (c) and insert here – both instruction AND dummy. (that was close – you may have needed to start number 5 all over again if we didn’t catch that one).
    12. Creep out of room, avoiding creaky floor boards (IDEA – do you want me to put bright dot stickers there so you know where to tread?).
    13. If he doesn’t settle, blow all of that and pick the kid up and cuddle him. Works a treat, every time.

I hope this helps you Mum, and that you feel confident to care for a Tobias for 3 hours. If you have any questions, re-read the list. If you still have questions, then maybe I need to add more dot points to help you out. Again, THIS IS A DRAFT ONLY.

Regards,

Your Daughter (your third child).

Gift Giving Guidelines for 2015

Over the past few years, we have dramatically changed the way in which we consume in this family.  So much of what we own is second hand, and a lot of it has been spruced up to suit our style. I started a Facebook page last week to chronicle some of my projects – Flair Enough.  The name of the page implies a few things I am passionate about – fair trade, enoughism (we have enough, we don’t need to succumb to the pull of thinking we need more), supporting local, and working with one’s own hands to create something. I am saddened that we live in a society that, to a great extent, values the glitz of shiny packaging and plastic over the innovation of resourceful creativity.  I have enjoyed many projects where I reclaim something that was no longer wanted, and transformed it into something we use, enjoy and others always notice. The latter is never my motivation, but it always happens. Resourceful resonates with the people I know, because there is a fascination with many regarding the simple act of transforming someones trash into a delightfully practical addition to our home.

This year, I am going to try and focus on transforming our gift giving for birthdays,  births, weddings, Christmas, Mother’s and Father’s days… My aim is to do one of the following things when it comes to giving gifts:

1.  Shop at home first – Use what we already have in our present box.

2. Buy second hand – Often times you can find new things that have been thrown away, or at the very least, a great quality second-hand item that can be repurposed or given flair.

3. Support local – A beautiful gift of flowers or condiments from the farmers markets, or pieces from local designers are a much better choice than mass produced plastic.

4.  Experiences – Rather than the standard fare of plastic, an experience is a great gift alternative.

5.  Make it – Handmade is a winner with me, and I believe this to be true for many.  To be honest, I am not sure of how well I will go with this one, because I do have a boom or bust reputation with all things handmade, be it crafty or cooking. Sometimes I nail it, other times, it is catastrophic. Like the time I posted a photo to Facebook of a caramel slice I made. I asked people to guess what it was. Lasagne they said.

I guess at the end of the day, I think we have enough of the stuff that they keep trying to sell us more of. I like to put a lot of thought into gifts, but I find that it is hard when others do not share the values that I hold to, so I then crumble under the weight of invisible expectations and buy the sub-standard gift.

I will leave you with this print I found at the thrift store on the weekend, which serves as a wonderful reminder to us.  I wonder if you will consider joining me on this journey?

allyouneedisless

x

Graduated, expanding and utterly outnumbered!

I am a fair-weather blogger, and it has once again been months since sitting down to pen some thoughts. So much happened in 2013, so much great stuff, but the definitive aspect of the year was most definitely hard work. Lots of it. My uni degree is complete, and I graduated with distinction. Thrilled. My baby belly is getting big, and I am reminded, despite all my denial, that the time is drawing closer. I feel incredibly relaxed about the impending arrival of Minifig (that’s what this kid will be named if we don’t come up with something soon!!!). Relaxed, or maybe blase? I am utterly unprepared, but I figure I still have a few months to get clothes, a room, a car seat and all that jazz.

The baby is a BOY! My journey with lads has been beyond what I could have imagined, so I am stoked to have another boy on the way to delight in.

Here are a few pics of the past few months. More to come soon regarding our renewed resolve to live simply in 2014.

Xmas eve

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Time to spare

I’m almost two weeks into Uni break and am feeling a tad lost! I have a love-hate relationship with study. As much as I’m enjoying the time to be creative and indulgent, I’m also looking forward to hitting the books for one final semester so I can graduate!

With all the free time I now have, I have surprised myself by reading copious amounts of recipes, and finding great enjoyment in preparing food for my family that is extra special. Asher has decided poached pears are his favourite, but Isaac is stuck on sticky date pudding.

I found a cafe that oozes my style and taste in music this week, so now have a great study book to escape to in winter by the log fire. It is at this cafe I was able to teach my children about Encyclopaedias today! They were fascinated and enthralled by these big, old, alphabetical books.

I took the boys to our beach at sunset today and we had some great time together talking about what we see in nature and captured birds in flight in a special photo. Precious moments.

Here’s the photo frenzy…

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I am here, under this pile of books and papers…

I have been somewhat MIA. University studies are proving to be more consuming than I anticpated (!!). With family and work, I have felt that my creative side starving and losing energy. I am truly grieving this and know that I must continue to pursue the creative life, keep feeding it, so that it gains strength and momentum in my life once more, despite academia, work and the everyday things that simply must be done.

So today, even though I have papers that must be done and readings that are piling higher than the sky (well, almost) I decided to enjoy the creativity that was going on around me. Matt and the lads jumped onto www.allfortheboys.com and were captivated by the Spy Week activities. I, however, felt ripped off. Here they were, doing the fun things that I have always loved to set up for them, WITHOUT MY ASSISTANCE!

This is a good thing, right?

Hmmmm…

Anyway, I had a friend ask me what I was doing tonight. I said I couldn’t play because I had to study. Then I got the guilts. I felt like a bad friend. So I contacted her and made her banana bread. She is about to arrive any minute. You see, I get obsessed with things and I forget that life is made up of MANY wonderful things – I just lose sight of them sometimes. It is hard to see (and breathe) under a pile of books, papers and highlighter pens. I get fixated, I go over and over and over sentences trying to get them “just right”. But the words of my ever wise husband ring in my ears…”You do not have the luxury of perfectionism this time. Not with a family and a job and uni.” He is right. I can do my best, but I must remember that boundaries are a good thing, they actually help me to suceed in ALL areas, rather than sacrificing some to succeed in others. Like my creativity.

So, it is here that I am reminded again that getting top grades (which, by the way, I rather like!) is not the goal of my year. The goal is to be balanced, whilst finishing my degree. I can finish it, even without a long line of High Distinctions. Credits, or even a Pass (GASP!) will still get me to the goal.

And here I was thinking that my few years of slowing things down reprogrammed my driven nature. Let’s try this again, shall we?

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Miracle ladybug

This afternoon as I was hanging out the washing, Asher informed me that he had a new pet in his school pants pocket…the very ones that went through the washing machine!! We went to the clothesline and opened his wet pocket to remove the unfortunate creature, only to find the ladybug was still alive! A slightly damaged wing but alive! We found a nice leaf and hope he has a feast and feels much better after his thrill ride in a front loader. Lucky for the ladybug I only selected a 15 minute quick wash! I think it’s name is Lazarus the Ladybug.

Asher has learnt a lesson today about appropriate care of itty bitty’s.

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Raising Explorers

The lads were in their element with loads of exploration this week. We visited a local fort and our city museum finally reopened after a massive renovation. The kids were armed with explorers tool kits/backpacks for their journey around the museum. Complete with binoculars, magnifying glass, casts of Tassie Devil skulls, gems, fossils and a sketch pad to record their findings, they were quite the adventurers!

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Gentleman at the Library

I am sitting at the local library doing some readings for a uni assignment. But I keep thinking about the gentleman who waited for me to catch up at the doors of the library so he could open the door and usher me in this morning.

It made my heart smile, and got me thinking about how sad it is that such acts of kindness are perceived by many to be old school, unnecessary and anti-equality. Personally, I want my lads when they are elderly, to be the gentlemen waiting at the door of the library for the young woman behind him, holding the door and ushering her in. I want them to be the ones who offer the pregnant lady a seat on the bus. I want them to be the ones who use terms like, “After you” on a regular basis and help little old ladies with their groceries. Call me old fashioned, but such acts add something beautiful to our lives. If only the man who held the door open today knew what an impact his simple gesture has made on me today. Something makes me believe he’d do it regardless, because he is a gentleman.

Long live chivalry!

P.S.
To top it off, as I walked OUT of the library, and elderly lady stopped me and said, “Don’t you look nice with your top and handbag?” This got us talking about my handmade recycled bag made by my friend, and made my heart sing at the impact words and kind gestures with strangers can have. This reminded me again as to why I talk to people wherever I go. Yes, it feels strange at times, but it can really set the tone, or even better, change the tone of their day.

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Far away friend

This morning while the boys are having some quiet time before school, I have thought of a dear friend, who now lives far too far away from me. When I was impressionable, young and potentially foolish, she took me under her wing. She was older than I, wiser than I and busier than I. Yet she made time and she made me laugh. She took me out to cafes that were far too sophisticated for a rough around the edges teenager that I was. While we sat there for hours at a time, she talked to me about life, and she listened to me while I shared my tumultuous teen/young adult “woes” with her. She believed in me, she spoke truth with grace and she challenged me when I needed it. She was then my Youth Pastor, but she became one of the greatest friends I have ever known in a very short time. The age gap has now closed (she would slap me for referring to an age gap!), our life stages are the same – so now instead of talking for hours we TRY and talk for hours as we are constantly and beautifully interrupted by our gorgeous children. We still laugh together in our loud and quirky ways (which makes me wonder as I type if even my laughing style was influenced by her!) she still speaks life into my life and she still inspires me. When I stop and think about her I realise how blessed I am to have a friendship that withstands the passage of time and distance like this one has. I miss her and I wish she lived up the road. But when I see her, its like we marinate in the long talks and the silly laughs. We soak it up, and that time together adds something great that lasts us until the next time. Grateful, incredibly grateful.

Here’s a treasured, albeit blurry moment of our boys becoming friends on our last visit together.

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