10 ideas for mindful, clutter-free gifts for tween/teen boys

Christmas is coming - I know, I know!  How can it be?!

But it is.  If we want to give mindful, clutter free gifts over Christmas now is the time to start preparing to avoid finding ourselves at the last minute, panicking about what to give who feeling forced to buy gifts that don't quite align with our values for the sake of giving SOMETHING.  (Sound familiar?)

I thought I would do a short series of "10 ideas for clutter-free gifts" suitable for various demographics as we edge closer to the Christmas season.  To have a slow and clutter free Christmas where we consume mindfully requires a little planning, and gentle conversations around values and goals to ensure everyone be on the same boat, or at least in the same ocean.

I thought I would starting with "10 ideas for mindful, clutter-free gifts for teen boys" as I feel this age group is often under represented.  tween/teen boys are going through an really important transition.  No longer are they little children, but yet they are not quite an adult either.  It is a really difficult time for them to navigate, as expectations upon them begin to shift.  In cultures of the past a young teenage boy would be beginning to go through various rites of passage as they started the transition to manhood.  Slowly they would be given more responsibility, and they would be taken off with male elders to be taught how to become a responsible adult male within their village.  Today we see a lot about toxic masculinity and I think that it starts predominantly within the early teenage bracket.  Therefor it is of upmost important we create opportunities, whilst being mindful of our own family values for our tweens/teens to explore who they are whilst feeling loved, safe and free from judgment.  To allow them to learn about the next stage of being a kind, honest, respectful young man.  The kind of man their partners will be proud to bring home to their family (if they so choose) and for who stands up for what is right and good in this world.

Teenage boys, particularity younger teens may be able to identify what they are interested in, but will often need a little support to problem solve and to pursue it.  They may need reassurance to follow what they love if their interests are a little different from their mates.  They may need unhelpful and toxic attitudes towards their interests to be broken down so that they can have the courage to press on with what they love.

So below I have complied a list of gift ideas which I think are respectful, flexible and embracing of this transitional age.

1. Books
I love giving books, interesting books.  Think a beautiful coffee table book with stunning pictures on a topic they love.  Cricket?  Football?  Art? Cooking?  Music?  Photography?  Wildlife? Surfing? Travel?  Literature? Lets inspire and challenge our boys to help them find role models within their field of interests and help them to follow their dreams and passions in a way that recognizes that they are growing up.

Will loves Ed Sheeran, and photography - this book is about both and he has read it several times.  It inspires him to peruse his guitar lessons again, and as a budding photographer.  

2. Money towards lessons/experience
This one always comes up in these kinds of lists, for a reason.  Its a great idea.  Take swimming for example, to put my three children through swimming lessons it cost me hundreds of dollars per term.  It is a privilege to be able to pursue sports and out of school activities and one I know puts strain on families purse strings all over the place.

Have a discussion with your teen in advance about what hobbies they would like to take part in that year, don't be afraid to discuss the financial cost of it.  Finances are a part of life and a healthy relationship with money starts young.  Then discuss in that some people this year would like to give money towards the special lessons, and what that is going to look like on Christmas morning.  Its about managing expectations.

3. Gear for the lessons.
Think bathers, goggles, cricket gear, footy boots, basketball shoes, dance equipment etc.  Most extra curricular activities require "stuff" of some form or another each season.  Children tend to grow like mushrooms, or they might like to explore an entirely new hobby.  This kind of gear is going to be required anyway, so we may as well kill two birds with one stone and make a present out of it.



4. Camping gear. 
Do you have a boy that loves to camp?  Camping is a great family holiday, and it doesn't have to be expensive if its kept simple.  Camping or even just day hikes are great for helping our kids develop a love for nature, so that as they grow into adults they will have a desire to protect and care for our planet embedded in them.  Some ideas that come to mind are:
*A swag
*good quality sleeping bag
*pocket knife/whittling set.
*torch/head lamp
*good quality hiking boots
*enamel cup/bowl/plate set in a cotton bag with cutlery
*day pack (comfortable backpack)
*Bear Grylls/David Attenborough/other famous scientist or adventurer depending on the childs interests.   There are some great stories out there.  Books to inspire adventure.
*Trangia metho stove (this will grow with them.)
*Compass
*Fishing gear


5. Good quality camera
Teens are growing up, they should be capable of caring for their belongings.  A good quality camera is a great gift, it teaches them to observe and to look for interesting shots.  It can be a great tool for getting them out in nature, asking questions about the things they discover.  It is a gift that can grow with them and it has the bonus of technology without the internet or computer games.  They can learn how to edit and crop photos which is a useful skill for teens and adults alike.  If your child would like to share their photography with friends and family, perhaps you could create an album specifically for this on your Facebook page you can use together.  This way you can monitor their online activity, but they get to share their hobby.

6. Writing gear/art supplies
We often think of this kind of thing for girls, but man it up.  Boys can enjoy writing and art too.  Typo sell some cool leather look journals and stationary that can appeal to boys.  Get a kit of quality water colour pencils, a small set of brushes and pair it with a cool graphic magazines/book and a "how to draw" book they can follow along with.  Create an experience for them, allow them to explore other facets of their personality in a way which is age appropriate and respects the stage they are in. 


7. Gardening gear
Got a kid that loves gardening?  Set them up with a seed starter kit.  Challenge them that if they can grow the seedlings that you will buy them off of them, decide on varieties together.  Something they love and that is useful for your garden.  Think herbs and veggies, the bonus here is that there is an opportunity for ongoing supply.  Encourage them to sell them to friends and family.  Challenge them to start their own little business.  In my experience boys usually like a decent reason for doing something.  They are often motivated by an outcome, so its about framing it in a way which resonates with them.

8. Supplies to build something/tools
Teen boys are actually pretty capable beings if given the responsibility.  Does your kid want to build something?  A fort? A go cart?  Do you need something simple built like a gumboot stand, or a few small boxes to make as cool shelves on the wall?  Is your kid interested in how stuff is made?  Encourage it.  Begin to set them up with decent tools and a tool box and buy the materials needed for a small project that interest them.  Pintrest is full of ideas.  You may just end up with a carpenter or architect on your hands later.

9. Clothes.  
Boys are often beginning to develop their own identity at this age.  Lets help them carve out their own style.  They may be pretty relaxed about most things they wear but you can guarantee they are noticing brands and who has them and who doesn't, and they are likely feeling the pressure.  Even if they don't really talk about it. I'm not a fan of brands for the sake of brands as a rule, but I also recognize that many of us lean towards our own favorite particular items.  I for example, love Birkenstock shoes.  I don't generally buy 'brand' name clothing for my kids.  Its expensive, and not necessarily produced in a more ethical or sustainable manner just because of the higher price tag.  The reality is that feeling accepted can be important as teens navigate growing up.  I manage this by buying mostly non-branded plain items, but I do splash out on a cap, ($20-$30) sneakers and a perhaps a hoodie or something similar.  Nike is a main stream sporting brand which has worked really hard to improve the ethics and their accountability along their supply chain in recent years and I'm sure there are other brands out there too.

10. Cash
I know there is a feeling among some people that they don't like to give cash.  But frankly I think it is an excellent option.  It allows kids to save towards one big item they will treasure, rather then mindless gift giving for the sake of gift giving.  My kids love getting money, they all have things they are saving for.  This teaches discipline, planning and patience.  As well as financial responsibility.  They are all winners in my book.  the bonus is that you know its a gift which is not going to be tossed aside.

Well, there you have it, my top 10 ideas for mindful, clutter-free gifts for teen boys.  I have tired to include smaller gifts, as well as some larger items which could be bought in collaboration with extended family members.  Of course there are a ton of other things out there, but for me these ideas tick the box for mindfulness, encouraging a healthy lifestyle and low clutter whilst embracing this tender period of self exploration.

Helpful links and online distributors:
Dragonfly Toys sell an excellent round nosed children's whittling knife which can be helpful for the younger tween, which my boys use and love.  Still super sharp, but less stabby.  Otherwise camping shops have a great range of pocket tools. 
Diggers  sell all kinds of fantastic gardening gear and are a well respected company.
Typo is a sub branch of cotton on, have a scroll through their stationary as they have a great range of gear aimed at boys.  I'm quite partial to items like this and this.
JB Hi-Fi We recently purchased Will's new camera from JB Hi-Fi after lots of online research.  Their pricing was the best we could find, and they price match.
Book Depository is a great online book shop, where I usually head too.

(I am not affiliated with these companies in anyway shape or form, these are just companies I have used and continue to use as I am pleased with their products and service.)

 If you have any other great ideas for mindful, clutter free gifts for teen boys, let us know in the comments!

Much love,
Emma
xx

here and now

As the last official day of our school holidays on Friday, we decided a trip into the city was in order.  First to the Adelaide Botanic Gardens and then to China Town for a quick and tasty dinner.  The gardens are stunning at this time of year, truly breathtaking.  There is a rare corpse flower that is due to bloom any day now but sadly, were were a few days early.  Its spike is huge, and they can grow up to 3m tall.  Apparently when they flower they stink like rotting meat, to attract flies as pollinators.  They only last a day or two and it takes 10 years to bloom, as the flower is so huge it takes that long for the plant to store enough energy to put out a single spike.  Fascinating, cool and gross all at once!



The corpse flower - shes close to opening!  


Say Little Hen is doing a link up of “here and now” and I decided to join in, Its always lovely to find and link up with other blogs!  Pop on over and check out who else is sharing what they are up too.

Loving // Sunny spring days.  Though I'm less of a fan of the spring time winds, I do love the sunshine and the longer days.  inspiring us to get out and about - beach season is nearly here! 

Eating // Homegrown eggs.  So many eggs!  With the longer days our girls are laying beautifully.  We have almost come to the end of our orange season, a few remain on the tree.    

Drinking // Kombucha.  So refreshing and so easy to brew.  And red wine and coffee...because, well when you live down the road from the Barossa Valley its kind of a given.  

Feeling // Eager and happy.  After feeling a bit wobbly and anxious a few weeks ago about our upcoming move to the farm in NSW, I have pin pointed the triggers and now I know how to deal with them if they come up again.  Now we have problem solved a few things, made a plan to move forward and both of us are happy and excited to get up there ASAP. 

Making // I have just finished the Waldorf doll I have been making, and am about to start a tunic style dress - with pockets!  Which is by far my favorite kind of dress to make.  

Thinking // About the farm, dreaming about the lush green landscape, and the rain which we will get up there.  I'm SO excited to finally put down roots.  We have moved continuously the last 11 years of our marriage and I'm oh so tired tired of it, grateful for what it has allowed us to achieve but tired, none the less.  I'm excited to build a beautiful big veggie patch and plant an extensive orchid.  To put up the yurt, and sit out on its big deck and watch the creek dance and bubble over the rocks.  

Dreaming // Of the farm, and finally being home.










Much love,
Emma
xx

Weekend reads

Alas school holidays are winding up in SA.  Just as we were really getting into the swing of it!  I feel like when the boys are on school holidays I spend so much of my days cooking, making nourishing lunches and big fruit platters to share.  Not that I mind.  I feel more motivated to cook during school holidays.  I think its the lovely, long, lazy days and no rush to be anywhere.  I swear they have all grown an inch the last two weeks!  

But all good things must come to an end as it is time to prepare and get organised for a brand new school term.  I hope this weekends reads finds you well and that if you have school aged children that the transition from school holidays to school term is a smooth one for you.    

It doesn't matter how often we cook popcorn these guys love to watch it.   

The popcorn dance....doesn't everyone do it? 

Popcorn, cheap, quick and delicious.  A great healthy substitute for crisps.   

Fresh hard boiled eggs for a quick and nourishing snack on the go.  I usually have a bowl in my fridge.  

Making the dough, I find bread baking a soothing task.   


Pizza scrolls, also a great lunchbox filler.  

 Beef curry simmering away for dinner.  



How to craft a life you don't need to escape from
Joshua Becker usually writes posts that resonate with me, and so many others.  This one is no exception.

Meg from A Hopeful Nature shared this great little tutorial, coming into spring in Australia this is a perfect little handy craft idea to brighten up a blouse or a dress. 

10 clutter free gift ideas for kids
Christmas is coming - I know...How is this so?!  Most of us have gifts that will be purchased, here is a list of clutter free gift ideas.  By shopping in advance we can be prepared and buy more mindful presents for the children in our lives.

A week in Moarg's garden
Moarag is a wealth of permaculture information, which she shares so generously.  This is a great 20 minute YouTube clip of the projects she and a work experience student have worked together doing.  What a lucky student, and doesn't he just so a great job of presenting?  I would SO love to do her permaculture design course when we move to our farm.

Australian season fruit and vegetable guide
Eating seasonally is an important practice, and one we so often loose with the year round supply of fruit and vegetables that we have available at the big supermarkets.  Farmers markets are a great way to shop seasonally, but if you can't guides like this are helpful in working out what is in season at what time. 

Much love,
Emma
xx

This moment

A moment or a day so special it will be forever etched in my heart and soul.  A day to remember and hold dear.  A day so beautiful for which there are no words.  









Much love,
Emma
xx

weekend reads

Welcome to the weekend dear readers!  May you all spend some time doing something you love.  Our weekend will be spent mostly at home, renovating and what not.  We have friends for lunch today and the old oven is pre-heating to bake a fresh loaf of sourdough to have with pumpkin soup for lunch.  I may just whip up a batch of chocolate brownies for dessert as they are the one thing I can bake which is no fail in my old 1930's oven without her trying to sabotage me.  Which she does on a regular basis.  Any time I try to rush her, or don't pay her enough attention, she's a fickle old lady!

Fickle but oh so beautiful- her saving grace really!  Pre-heating to put bake sourdough in about 10 mins.  

A fun little time lapse.  Let me know if it works for you.  Bare feet in the kitchen, home made pizza, red wine, John Butler Trio on a Friday night at home with my family - BLISS! 



Foxs lane
A blog I have just stumbled from and her photography is just lovely.  She has inspired me to pull out my big camera and have a play again.  She also has a beautiful Instagram feed if that's your thing.

What can you learn from a 17th century town.
YouTube link on a little historical town, building methos and what not.  Really interesting stuff.

Making mindfulness simple again
Slow home Podcast.  This was an oldie as the Slow home poggie has just been doing a giant book tour but its a goodie.

Frugal instant meals when you dont want to cook.
Because real life.  Sometimes the aim is simply to feed the little monsters and put them to bed ASAP, hoping they will wake up as the children we know and love so dearly.  Not to say we don't love our children when they are tantruming and over tired and grumpy.  But sometimes we just want to end the day as quickly and smoothly as possible.

Gully Grove
I was cheering when I read Chris from Gully Grove finally got some rain!  She has been documenting the drought well, which must be a difficult thing to do.  I love her gentle philosophy of living along side the wildlife, and that her home is theirs too.  Even when the kangaroos eat her garden.

I hope you all have a great weekend.
Much love,
Emma
xx
As we begin to prepare to put this house on the market, I find myself walking past my crafting projects looking at them longingly.  My time is currently taken up with de-cluttering and simplifying rooms ready to pack with the least amount of belongings for the 18hr move.  We are only keeping what we truly love and use.  Whilst the job is kinda enjoyable, (I'm strange like that.) it is also time consuming.  By doing this well it means when it comes to listing, photographing and house inspections the house it will be bright, clear and clean and hopefully appealing to the potential buyer. 
I'm however hoping to find an hour or two this afternoon to finish off this little fellows clothing, he has PJ's now so at least he is warm!



I did make him a little pet rabbit....but I blanket stitched him on the outside by hand, thinking he would look sweet and rustic, only realizing half way through the pattern was clearly not designed for it.  Once finished the boys found him completely hilarious and have nicknamed him Bil-abbit.  But even though he is not quite a bilby and not quite a rabbit he is much loved by Henry.


I love this age, it is maybe my very favorite.  So full of magic, and sweetness.  Henry is so easily delighted he doesn't even see flaws, so full of laughter and affection.  The big boys though....hmmph!  After all those years I spent admiring their indistinguishable artworks you would think they would have picked up a trick or two - HA!

I have a simple tunic to make WITH POCKETS, using up fabric from my stash, which I'm looking forward to starting too.  I think I should make it before we move, as you know, that's a better use of fabric rather then having it stored away....yes?


But, this morning I am off to catch up with a wonderful group of women in the Barossa Valley.  A place to connect with other makers/creators/small business in the area and share ideas, and excess garden goodness.  So I had best be on my way.

A little produce to share from the garden.  The oranges are small but super sweet, and grapefruit?  Well I cannot find the love for them.  Hopefully someone else will!   

A double batch of brownies, one to share and one for the boys.  

Just a brief catch up this morning and I hope this finds you well, with a moment or two to do something you love today!

Much love,
Emma
xx















when life feels uncertain

I'm going to be honest, life feels a little messy and uncertain at the moment.

The cottage is coming along really well and we hope to begin to start the process of putting it on the market in a couple of weeks.  It has been a while since I have shared photos so I will do a big catch up post on all of that shortly with stacks of before and after photos, because that is always fun!

The cottage is such a comfortable place to live now, I even have an indoor laundry!  It has the perfect amount of space for our family.  I'm not going to lie, I'm more then a little apprehensive about our big move to the farm.  I know once we have the yurts built and well set up things will be just fine, but its the period of getting to that point that I find keeps playing on my mind.  The move, the prolonged period of camping in our little van in the sub-tropics while we wait for the yurt to arrive and then the actual process of setting it up.  I worry about the financial cost of the entire process....and last but not least - how am I going to do our washing?!

Our local river.  A nice place to stop off at on a walk.  

As these thoughts churn in my mind they have the power to tip me to a pint of anxiety about the entire process.  People on the whole are not good at change because change = risk.  From an evolutionary point of view risk can be a bad thing.

This move is risky for our family, will we be happy?  Will we be able to make a go of farming.  Will the yurts make a comfortable home?  Will we be able to find the necessary finances to set it all up?  Will the children be happy?  Will we be welcomed into our new community?  Will we be able to find work?  Will our children be happy in their new school?  Will they even get a place in the school we want?

I don't know the answers to any of these questions.

But I do know this, most problems we face in life have a solution, even if its not one we particularly like.

Ronnie, our beautiful boarder collie

So for now, I'm embracing a 15 minute daily morning walk, just me and the dog while listening to music, or podcasts.  It's well documented that mild-moderate exercise can, in some people offer a similar benefit as antidepressants.  It releases all kinds of helpful endorphins and gives me a positive start to the day.  I'm journaling away my anxieties about what the next few months holds and taking a moment to look for beauty in each day and I'm setting small and achievable goals which provide me a framework to move forward despite my anxiety.  I'm also reminding myself daily that we don't need to carry the mountain, we only need to climb it.

What do you do in times of stress or anxiety?

Much love,
Emma




 




Weekend reads

Finally school holidays are here!  I know not every parent exclaims this with such delight when the school holidays come, but this week has been full of colds, asthma and grumpy attitudes.  We are all well overdue for a change in routine.  I'm looking forward to the slower days of holidays with time for trips to the beach, and bush-walks.  This weekend we will be spending time with family, I hope you manage to take some time to look after yourself and fill your tank this weekend.

Here are some links that caught my eye this week or that are old favorites.  I hope you enjoy them.

Oh and blogger has gremlins in it for me today, so the links are high lighted in pale green.

(I love this photo Will captured of Aggie, her brindle is really showing up in it!)

Zen Habits
When fear is stopping you from perusing meaningful work.


 Jembella Farm
Sally is a dear friend I met through the blogging world and I just love her blog.  Its so packed full of wonderful, practical information written with a deep sense of kindness and warmth.  I can attest that sitting in her beautiful farm kitchen, surrounded by the heat of the wood oven, with a hot cuppa, with fresh milk from Lavender, eating toasted sourdough is really as marvelous as it looks in her photos.

She has a ripper two series post on how she perfected her sourdough loaf.  Her tips have greatly improved my loaf.
Part one
Part two


Mr Homemaker
I really enjoyed this trip down memory lane by Mr Homemakers, as he shared memories from his grandmothers era.


No Spend Year

This is a really interesting Ted talk by Michelle McGagh is the author of the No Spend Year - How to spend less and live more.  Though most of us will never go to the extremes of not spending for a year, she shares some interesting and valuable insights about what she learned, and many lessons we can adapt to apply in a way that can suit our own lives.


Pacific Yurts
Another interesting You Tube link about Yurts.  I am not affiliated with this company in any way, but they are the company we have chosen to go with for our yurts on the farm.  They have an excellent reputation, they are highly competitive on their pricing and their communication has been second to none and extremely thorough throughout the entire process to ensure the product we have ordered is suited to our needs.  



The realization

Recently I blogged about the the power of egg custard, and how by making it from scratch triggered me to question what we were eating and how I could make other simple changes to our lives.

But whilst that was the first real "step" if you will into living a simpler, slower and greener life, I was already onto the path of questioning.

You see, in December 2011, a serious flood came through our home which deemed our house inhabitable and where we lost nearly all our possessions.  At the lowest point of our home the muddy, septic filled water was 1.5m high.  William was 3 at the time and I was 34 weeks pregnant with our second child.

We were left displaced, with only a few boxes of our most precious belongings and a couple of suitcases of clothes.

By the grace of God our friends and families rallied around us to pick us up and dust us off, we found a nice rental home to move into whilst we sorted out our lives and welcomed our second son, Angus into the world.

(photo credits this post go to Will.)

I worked like a mad woman to create a "home" for our family.  I was like a pregnant, nesting woman on steroids.  I re-bought all the things we had lost, and upgraded things into better quality where I could.  I thought once I had made our home lovely, and got the nice bedroom suite that eventually a sense of "enough" would settle upon me, contentment.  Something.  I thought that when everything looked "normal" the experience of the flood would be behind us.  That the gaping hole I was trying to fill would eventually become full.  I bought more, new clothes for us all, new toys.  But still the empty feeling in my chest remained.  I knew we were lucky, we had a beautiful family, we had a warm, safe and comfortable home to live in, we had almost adequate insurance.  I can't tell you how many people said they wanted to be in our situation because they would love to buy all new stuff.  (just a hint, don't say that to someone who has lost everything.  It's not at all helpful.)

Until one day it dawned on me....If I couldn't be happy without these things, I would never be happy with them.  Because things can never bring us the kind of happiness that lasts.

I realized I wasn't going to fill the hole I felt by creating a beautiful home out of the lovely things I was buying.  That stuff wasn't going to give me the deep comforting feeling of "home" I was so desperately looking for.  It wasn't going to erase the unsettling realization I had little control over the big things in life.  Mother nature would do what mother nature does, storms will happen.  Both metaphorically and in real life.  I had no control over the flood just as I had no control over the virus that attacked my heart late last year.  When it comes to what truly matters, control is an illusion.   


Once I realized this....I was left looking, searching for more.  I stumbled across a blog about living simply, and through it I discovered other blogs and books.  Through them all I learnt about slow living, mindfulness, minimalism, sewing, gardening.  I discovered beauty in the things I had right in front of me.  I took the bits and pieces that resonated with me and slowly weaved them together to forged my own path.  A path that continues to grow, change and evolve today.  I re-discovered a faith I had put to the side many years ago as I wasn't given the theological foundations for it to grow with me and I nurtured it.  I loved being at home with my children and realized when I challenged myself to continue to grow that being at home was not at all dull, nor boring.  Shopping was boring, consuming mindlessly was boring.  But being at home could be challenging, interesting and deeply fulfilling, and after much consideration I made the leap to do it full time.  Something that I do not always feel the outside world sees as a valuable choice when a person leaves their career to stay at home.  (I also recognize that being able to stay at home is a privilege, and not a choice that is an option for everyone, nor a choice everyone wishes to make.)

In staying at home I learned to improve my cooking skills, I learned to make soaps, I became better with our finances, I learned to garden and grow food, I learned to sew, I became more aware about environmental issues and the things I could do in my own life to live greener.  I re-discovered a love of writing which I have channeled into this blog.  I started my BA Theology, and who knows where that will take me.

But most importantly, through living more simply, slowly and mindfully I learned to take notice of the beauty that was in front of me.  To truly see it.  I realized the power of thankfulness, of gratefulness and of contentment.  I saw the importance of being fully present.  Slowly the empty, hollow feeling in my chest began to fill up.


I have been blessed to find deep and authentic friendships, both old and new.  I love that I have the time to open up my home, and have people come for a cuppa or gather around the table for pizza, it is such a beautiful thing.  People are meant to be in relationships with each other, we are not meant to do this things called life alone.  Yet when we are too busy, when life is constantly rushed and frantic we simply can't.  We find all our time is spent paddling madly to just stay afloat.   

When we are living at a frantic pace we often consume more.  We don't realize that when we are shopping we are not just buying an item, but we are instead trying to buy the life we want to be living.  Weather it be shiny and expensive, or that we want to be sitting around a table with our friends in a warm and inviting home.  The meaning is not in the items, it never has been.  The meaning in the living.

At some point we need to stop buying the recipe books, and the dinnerware for the lovely dinner parties we are going to have "one day" and actually open our doors and invite the people in.  Until then the stuff we so lovingly collect is meaningless, and the hollow feeling will remain.  Once we start to actually do the things we say we value, that is when the gap between the lives we are living and the lives we want to be living will begin to narrow.

The power is in the doing.  My encouragement today is to look at something you want to be doing, even if it is small, consciously carve out a space to nurture it and to take a step towards it, even just a little shuffle.  Just one step, and tomorrow?  Take another.

Much love,
Emma
xx




And then he was 11.

11.  How did that happen and where did the time go?

For 11 years I have been blessed to call this young man my son.



His kindness and empathy for others astounds me.  He has a wisdom often far beyond his years.  He has patiently stood by me as I fumble and bumble my way through this motherhood gig.  Always forgiving me quickly when I bugger it up, always a companion by my side when we are knocking about the place.  He is a lover of all animals, a warrior for justice and deeply generous.  A kind and loving big brother who is everybody and any bodies friend.  And if it involves being someones friend in the middle of a lesson he should be concentrating on?.....Well, he is up for that too. 

Its can be difficult to try to parent slowly and mindfully in today's modern world.  We live in a time where children are constantly bombarded with all the latest "must haves".  Branded clothing, ipads, gaming consoles....the list is extensive and endless.  Advertising specifically geared towards children is everywhere.  Whats more, branding and gaming companies use various psychology tactics in their advertising strategies to manipulate our kids so we as adults will cave in and purchase their goods.

But as much as modern media and the consumerist industry would like us to believe, we don't actually have to step into giving our children everything.  They don't "need" it at all.  It is so important for all of us to learn to be content and enjoy what we have, to learn to value the important things in life and this is a lesson that starts with childhood.  It's our job as parents to do our best teach our children this, as we our selves navigate our way through life.  It's OK if there are bumps in the road, consistency and continuing to put what we value in the center of our lives is key, even when we wander off our path and find ourselves walking to the beat of someone elses drum. 

The reality is that most of our life is made up of completely ordinary, everyday moments, with a few spectacular ones scattered throughout.  It's when we learn to appreciate and find deep contentment, even enjoyment in the ordinary that we can live a beautifully meaningful and fulfilling life.  From this point the extraordinary moments like celebrations, a new job, reaching a goal or what ever else it may be, are simply the cherry on top of a life that is already happy and well lived. 


Home made pizzas with friends and birthday cake.  

This year we wanted to acknowledge Will is in fact growing up, his tastes are changing we do parent a little differently.  This doesn't mean we do it better.  But each family has its own values, and goals its working towards which is what makes this world such an interesting place.

We simply walk to the beat of our own drum which means ipad time is heavily limited, as is what the boys are allowed to do on it.  Instead we favor things like bush walks, trips to the beach and camping.  I'm not remotely interested in motorbikes (I worked in ED.  Enough said.) I don't mind the kids having a few brand name clothes in the form of a cool cap and sneakers but our budget simply doesn't stretch that far, nor does my interest in spending mountains on children's clothing.  The boys do play Grant's old Atari occasionally (old school Mario Brothers all the way!) but we don't actually want them in front of screens any more then they are.  I don't see the benefit and instead see the fighting, the tears and the anxiety it causes as well as a general decline in attitude, which is backed up by extensive research. 

But I also recognize Will is in a bit of an awkward transition.  We wanted to give him something really special, that would allow him to tread his own path, acknowledged his maturity and which had the ability to grow with him.  The solution?  A beautiful entry point DSLR camera.  We hesitated on the price, I'm going to be honest.  But the camera is both his Christmas and birthday pressie from us and a joint gift from all the rellies who put money towards it.  After much discussion, this is what he decided he wanted and it was something Grant and I knew he could enjoy for years to come that tied into our values.  Nature?  Tick.  It will take him outside into nature and out exploring this amazing world we live in, challenging him to really "see" it.  Technology?  Tick.  Not only with the camera but when it comes to editing photos later.  Cool factor? Well, obviously.

One of our birthday traditions is going to the zoo, a perfect place for Will to use his camera.  

Photography is something he has always loved and he has well out grown the simple cameras he had handed down to him.  I love its a hobby that can grow and change with him.  Its one present, which means it wont add clutter and its a good quality item meaning it will last until he wants to upgrade.  (If that time comes.)


And it has been a total hit!  He is SO proud of his new camera and it is constantly in his hands.  In fact most of the photos in this post are ones he has taken, the exception being the three he is actually in.  I think I have found a new photographer for my blog!  I'm looking forward to learning about how to use it with him, and to the places we will go while he develops this hobby of his.





It is so important to stop and acknowledge these milestones.  Even if they do fall in amidst end of term-itis, sniffles and school concerts!  

Much love, 
Emma
xx
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