Birthdays and expectations.

Yesterday my dear sweet little Angus turned 5!  Where did all those years go?!

You know when you make a decision that feels "right" with your soul?  Well Angus's birthday was one of those.

We have been talking ALOT about gratefulness in our house, about children being satisfied.  We have observed with William our eldest that he is eternally unsatisfied.  It doesn't mean he is ungrateful necessarily, because he is grateful.  He gives thanks daily, he enjoys the simple things.   In many ways he is very mature for his age.  He is a good kid really.  Its just he is ALWAYS looking for the next thing, for more of a good thing with all the little things, for the best deal.  Its really tiring.  And worrying really.  He understands our family choices in many ways bit if we give him one lolly, he will try to bargain for two.  No doubt this skill will serve him well in life, bargaining to get the best deal, for standing up for himself, for working within a workplace to get the best outcome.  It is not entirely a bad trait at all, in fact I would argue that it is both his strongest and weakest personality trait.

But it has the potential to turn him (like it does all of us)  into a selfish, self obsessed, greedy child if we don't direct it into a positive, mindful direction.  Our aim as parents is to steer it away from selfish desires to how he can use it to help others, as well as ensuring he looks after himself of course! Goodness it is tricky to steer, though he is equally blessed with a loving and generous soul which we encourage and nurture and I'm so proud of his kind heart.

For instance I will never forget one day before school (he must have been 6?) when he came up to me asking for MORE money, he had spent the ENTIRE morning obsessing about money, not getting ready and pretty well ignoring me.  He had even taken to flogging money from his little brothers piggy bank which scored him zero points.   (He would often collect money just so he could have lots of coins, he liked to count them like a miniature Ebeneezer Scrooge!) I started to lecture him, irritated as we were now late for school.  About the fact we need to earn money, that it does not just get it handed to us.  About what steeling is and why it was wrong and so forth.  Then finally I asked him exasperated what he needed all this money for anyway?

He responded very seriously and its something I  will never forget.... "For collection at school.  So the Aboriginal people can have bibles in their own languages."

This little man has a huge faith, he just wanted everyone to be able to read the bible easily if they wanted too.

I looked at him stunned, took a deep breath, stopped and breathed out my irritation.  Together we counted his money, he wanted to give $5.00 but he did not have quite enough so I found some silver coins made it up.  We walked into school that morning and talked to the teacher so he could hand his little donation over.  It was an important parenting lesson for me.  It brought me to my knees and I vowed always to ask the intention of a behavior or action in the future.  Mostly I have. 

As a parents it is this kind of determination, this kind of stubbornness and eternally looking for more we want to encourage.  The kind of looking for more to help others.

We believe living a simple life will encourage this kind of personality trait into a positive direction.

We lapsed over Christmas and gave gifts that didn't lie in with our values.  We just bought what they wanted as we were simply tired, and worn out after a tough period.  They were not the kind of thing we usually buy, make or give.  But it served as a reminder as to what we DO value, because it felt wrong to us in hindsight, unsatisfying.  Now I'm not against the kids having those kinds of toys, family and friends are welcome to buy what they please, but I want the things we give to reflect what we believe and the life we are trying to create.  I believe consistency is important.  There is no point saying one thing and doing another.

But none the less on Angus's birthday I was a little concerned.  What we had decided to give looked so small.  We had decided on a lovely long handled shovel, some home made clothes from fabric he choose for his much loved Waldorf doll "Jimmy", and William and I appliqued a tee-shirt for him.  Aside from that I bought online a little wooden ball and cup toy, a little rainbow making prism, and a cute mini Folkmans fox finger puppet to match "Jimmy" and the fox pattern on his new clothing.

Excuse his smile, he seems to suddenly have forgotten how to grin normally, which has me in hysterics!!


But I shouldn't have worried, he was happy.  We dressed Jimmy, we sang happy birthday, went to the beach with the dogs and ate fish and chips.  I made a simple chocolate cake, iced it and tipped some lollies into a bowl and said go decorate!  They had a blast, making sure they got every lolly on the cake.  they are such boys.  If that had of been me as a child I would have tried hard to decorate it so it looked pretty, in patterns.  But not my boys, they smashed them on, so they could eat it quicker!    hahaha!!






But it got me thinking, whose expectation are we trying to fulfill when we celebrate children's birthdays?  Are they our expectations that we then teach our children?  Are our children really so hard to please?  I keep hearing about entitled children everywhere.  But perhaps children are the same as they always have been.  I do not think the nature of man changes in as little as a couple of generations.  I think it is more likely we have a problem with entitled parents?  Or perhaps things as they always are, that the same amount of diversity exists withing our community and that people are so busy looking outside to lay blame on who is getting it "wrong" and who is getting it "right" that they are missing our on reflecting upon their own lives?

It remind me of this verse which I love.


Gussy was thrilled with the day.  On the weekend we have family coming down for a BBQ.  We will play pass the parcel, perhaps another game or two.  The kids will play, it will be fun.  There will be no bouncing castle or face paining.  instead they will do what we did when we were kids - they will run around and play with their cousins.    

Much love,
Emma
xx
  



9

Australia day...

Today is Australia day.  It has been nice to have an extra day off this week, but this day does not spark joy for me.  It reminds me of Australia's history.  The atrocities committed against this nations first people.  So today I choose to live my life like any other day.  I hold the first people of this nation in my heart and prayers.

A dear, strong, beautiful friend of mine wrote an honest post about Australia Day and the affect it has on her, and many other Aboriginal people.  Please take the time to read her words. a dingo named gerald

I love that we can celebrate this great nation, celebrate its diversity, be united togeather in joy.  But today of all days?  In today's world we should know better, and do better.

Much love,
Emma
xx    
2

Photos from the garden.

We have been busy in the garden at the cottage.  Laying irrigation, shifting in soil, manure and gypsum.  

Grant has un-conventially pruned a couple of trees up to provide shade for the kids.  There are a couple of oranges on the block and the one he drastically pruned we were told was not particularly nice.  But it provides a nice little bit of shade now for the kids to play under.  We are not huge orange eaters so the one big tree behind it will be more then enough! 


Playing in the cubby!

The mud patch hidden under fruit trees - though the boys in-inadvertently gave one of the peach trees too much water and the fruit is splitting.....oops!

All this gardening is thirsty work!

Muddy, dusty boys!

giving the sprinkler system a test run.
 




My herbs are looking happy, we are eating basil by the handful!  The Aloe is coming in handy for all the bumps and grazes these boys are getting among all the work in the garden.  

William has started to take cuttings, we have set him up with his own area to put them all and he is getting all the old pots from the shade house and re-potting everything.  Its awesome to see his passion for gardening coming along.  He watched this on gardening Australia where you put one pot inside the other as a method of helping water seep into the soil and has started setting up various pots himself.




Much love,
Emma
xx
12

self care

Self care.  Something we all too often neglect, but it is essential to a good life, to a simple life.

Self care in the season of young children can almost seam like an impossibility.  But it is in this period of life it is the MOST important.   Little children's tanks need constantly filling, which means parents need to constantly AND consciously fill theirs. 

Yesterday my three boys went to have a little stay and their grandparents for two nights.  I have never been away from my youngest and the other two only ever whilst I was in hospital having my next baby.   So this is a first and a big mile stone for us!

I feel strongly that our children are ours to raise, and we love to do it.  But we have not had a "normal' 6 months and the offer of a rest has been lovely, despite my initial hesitations!
(Gussy's birthday present.  Clothes for his beloved "Jimmy" Waldorf doll made from fabric he chose.  He loves yellow!  William  and I are going to appliqué a tee-shirt in matching fabric as a gift from him.)

I have realized all though I'm very conscious of self care I am weary to the bones, after the bushfires.  Moving, renovating and running a business on top has not helped.  But it took a couple of nights of the kids away for me to fully realize the extent.  I felt I was doing an ok job at topping up my tank, and in a way I guess I was.  I'm not rocking in the corner after all!

But it turns out I need a full service not a top up so this time alone is doing me a world of good.

I have a whole post or two rattling around my head on this, I went to the most fascinating talk with a dear Reverend friend and mentor of mine by a renowned psychologist and expert in post catastrophe mental health.  I will write a blog about it later, mental health is an issue very close to my heart.

But for now I am off.  Grant and I are going to the city.  Alone.  We are staying in a nice hotel we booked late afternoon on lastminute.com.au and will be meandering through a couple of shops, (Rundle Mall has had not one but TWO facelifts since I last went there.)  Check out the hustle and bustle of China town and visit my most favorite restaurant Ying Chow.  It is not a fancy place but the food is amazing!  We used to go there often when we first started dating after I finished a late at the RAH at 11:00pm.  I have always been a night owl.  The city at night is always something I have loved.  Not one I crave often but the contrast will be lovely, such a treat!

Today I have been dozing, sewing and pottering about.  To spend more then a few hours home alone has been lovely, and strange and something I needed so much.
(Hand sewing a doll for my little nephews birthday in March.) 

This last few months has been such a process of stripping back, refining, challenging and peeling back the layers of who our family is.  The bushfire, as the flood did 5 years ago, once again stripped us bare.  It especially showed me my weaknesses as well as my strengths.  Now it is time for resting, for re-charging, for un-apologetically following my heart of hearts.  

Sometimes when I look at these few events it all seams kinda crazy and mind blowing.  Like its someone else's life.  Floods? Babies? PND? Bushfires? Owning a business? Crazy renovations?  Not all of these things are ever things I envisioned in my life! (The baby part I did!)  But I have great faith that God will use them, in only a way God can.  The things that make no sense to me now will become clear one day I believe.  These lessons now will hold me in good stead.  I believe I (we) are being shaped for something.  I do look forward to seeing what it is.  For now it's complex, heart breaking, awe inspiring, humbling and beautiful all mixed in togeather.....and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Much love,
Emma
xx




12

Giving thanks...


One of the biggest things I have found since working to simplify my life is all that I have to give thanks for, right under my nose.  It's nothing new, they were always there but now I have the wisdom to see the gift that the simple things are.  Once upon a time I was so occupied with all the hustle and bustle of shopping too much, always searching to "have fun" out of the home, avoiding cooking and  cleaning that these simple pleasures passed me by.

Ironically these things I was avoiding are now the are now the things that bring me comfort.  The stability and comfort of a lovely home.  I came to realize I was missing the little things in life, by only looking for the what I saw to be the more "fun" options.  Interestingly the more "fun" option didn't bring me what I hoped.  It was hollow.  I came to understand it is the little moments in life that are important.  Life is made up of lots of little moments crammed together, in a giant tangled web.  When we see the beauty in all the little moments, life suddenly looks a whole lot more beautiful, rather then just waiting for the occasional "perfect" moment that comes along and investing everything into that.  These big moments do come, and they ARE amazing.  But recognizing the beauty in the space between them?  That's a real blessing.  Giving thanks is one of the main ingredients to a good life I reckon.

Goodness there is a lot to give thanks for.  Which of course I always knew, but when we are rushing, when be are focused on buying the things we think we "need" which really more often then not, are really "wants" we just don't give thanks as much.  It's just not possible if our energy is focused outwards always looking for more.   The media and advertising today is pushing us to look outwards....but I believe they are wrong.  As do you I suspect if you are reading this!

We can have the most amazing life in the world, but if we don't stop and give thanks it will simply pass us by, and what a tragedy that would be! 

There are of course the times when life is not so amazing, sometimes life is just plain crap.  Bad things happen to good people, bad things even happen to us.  It is these times I have learned it is MOST important to give thanks.

We have had a couple of near misses in our lives, though nothing compared to many around us.  First with the flood, (here)which was more of a direct hit rather then a near miss, suffering post natal depression, (here)which frankly truly sucked but taught me a lot, and the strength of my husband and our family is greater because of it.  Most recently was with the Pinery bush fires.(here)  Ever notice how you learn the most out of the suckiest experiences in life?  Knowing this weird phenomenon I always welcome the lessons when we hit a disaster zone.  Not the disaster itself, but the lessons which come that are part of the by product.  They are the sometimes bitter sweet silver lining when things go pear shaped.

And I was thinking this weekend about giving thanks as we hung out.  We have been doing some gardening, went to the beach and ate fish and chips, picked up some second hand gates we scored for $160 and a cubby some beautiful friends handed down to us.  It was a truly lovely weekend.  Though it was not easy.  There were fights in the car, in the house, in the garden......The two youngest can fight over then air, I'm pretty sure at one stage they were fighting about fighting!  There was the standard time outs, tantrums, bumps and grazes that comes with an energetic bundle of little boys.

But goodness we fit in a whole lot to be thankful for.  Swimming in the beautiful warm, clear ocean together, building sand castles.  (then having to protect the sand creation Angus built as the other boys wanted to smash it and that just too much for Gussy's OCD to cope with....WHY would you SMASH something you JUST built?!?!) There was the awesome park with water play spaces, visiting friends, building the cubby, naps and quiet time.  There were sweet kisses, cuddles and fits of laughter.

It would be easy to look at all the things that went wrong, there were plenty!  Like the container of sugar that ended up on the floor, the endless dirt, the mud, the fights.  But when giving thanks you don't pretend these things don't happen, they do.  That's the messy reality of family life!  Instead we choose to look at the things that went "pretty good" and let the rest just melt away.  And there is always a lot of "pretty goods" in life if we look for them I reckon.


Friends who pick us up, laugh, listen and cry with us, Drs who listen to our concerns, the right medication, a house to clean (even if it is not the house of our dreams!), a comfy bed (gosh I love my bed, even if I never seem to wake up next to my husband anymore, most nights he migrates to the couch as various small people creep in....ha!)

This year I aim to be conscious to give thanks in all circumstances.  Because it is these things, I believe which will give us the contentment and satisfaction in life we crave.

This morning I am giving thanks for this cool change.  The house is open, the fresh breeze drifting through, a hot cuppa in hand.  They boys are playing with their newly unpacked lego.  Life is good, yes?

Much love,
Emma
xx

Edit: excuse my rambling thoughts, I have tried to edit this and must have re-read it 30 times, with at least twice as many interruptions from little people!  So I have given up and have posted it as is, errors and all.  Just keeping it real folks!  ;) xx
14

Some rough garden plans...

So we have spent the last couple of months talking about what we want to do here, looking at the land in the most brutal time of the year, looking at what structures we have, what we can salvage and repair and what has to go.

There is a couple of sheds that will need to go, but about half can be repaired, re-using the old materials we have here.  The easy thing to do would be to rip it all out and start fresh, but that's not our way.

This old block doesn't make a lot of sense really, its quite higgeldy piggeldy.  So the challenge is to make it make sense to us in a way that provides us lots of produce, provides a safe and interesting play space for the boys, a place for our family to spend time together and a place for our dogs to be dogs and a space for our chooks to roam free, separate from the dogs.

With the dogs we need to keep the veggie patch fenced off.  So it will stretch the entire way down one side of the block.  There is a variety of growing conditions in that space.  Ranging from full shade, protected, medium shade, well protected to full sun.  We wont be using beds as such, but improving the soil the whole way along that stretch and co-planting things that work together.  there will be a section for composting hidden right down the back and also there is pre-existing green house which we will convert to a glass house at a later stage.  It already has water, it is close to the house for easy view and maintenance and I will pass it all the time which is important.  Our sitting area will look over it which is essential to keep it well maintained.

Most of the edging around beds and the various zones will be old recycled red bricks.  There are piles of them on the property.  For now we are just beginning to put them in place and get a feel.  When we are sure we will cement them in so they don't shift about.

We have huge pepper trees along the back fence which provide a wind break.  This area is impossible to grow anything under and we will simply bring in bark chips, and make it a natural play space for the boys.  There is a big tree to climb and we have allowed space the whole way along the back fence for the dogs to pace and patrol the boarder.  Its their natural behavior and including space for a dog track around the exterior of the yard will help us all live peacefully together and save my garden.  1m will be plenty of wide enough for them to run and do their thing, and from experience they will then mostly leave my garden beds alone.

In the rear right corner of the block there will be a native garden.  It will be planted out with Grevillias and native plants to bring in bees, birds, insects and so forth.  It will also have logs in it and be designed as a natural play space for the boys.  A bit of a "Bush Garden" if you will.  Coming off of that area will be a fire pit and a timber framed pergola which we will grow a vine over.  Currently there is an small asbestos roof shed which will need to be professionally removed.

There will be at least one patch of lawn which you can see colored green.  A place to run, to picnic, kick a footy and so forth.  Close to the front of the house will be a couple of small 1/4round beds for just a few of my favorite flowers, also the bird bath and Grants hilariously kitsch fountain will go there, in pride of place. 


The big patch to the left will be the chook run and orchid.  I would like to plant an avocado, perhaps a mulberry still or a couple of apple trees, at least one of the almonds will need to go.  We will need to be able to pull a trailer in there and park the van.  The chooks will have a huge space to scratch, explore, eat any dropped fruit and it will work well for us I think.  They are also safe from the dogs there and we will be able to lock them in their shed at night to keep them safe from foxes.  

In front of that area there is another shed and there will be more bark and so forth there to provide Grant a little work shop in the old shed.  He will keep his wood roach set up in the two sheds along the side.  It will work well being near the chooks as they scratch through the waste and pick out any worms that co-habit with them, and also the shade of the pepper tree will provide relief from extreme heat.  They are sensitive things.  As we are digging up squares of cement Grant is saving them to lay on the little sheds floors.  I may well put a second compost area in the orchid area to work on composting the chook and bug manure.  It is strong stuff.

Good friends of our gave us their old cubby, its in great condition and just needs a coat of paint!  We were thrilled and so very grateful for their generosity!  We have hidden it between some trees to try and create a "secret" feeling shady space for them.  We will grab some big gum-tree rounds and make steppers and jumping logs around the area, great for balancing.   

So this is our plans so far.  I'm not sure if that will be enough productive growing space for us.  There is a large un-coloured area on this design you can see, which is where the clothes line will go.  An easy walk from the laundry and full sun.  I'm hesitant to put lawn there, but also unsure if we will be able to viably manage any more productive growing area then what we already have.

What are your thoughts?

Much love,
Emma
xx    



 
18

Meandering holidays.

I'm not sure where time is going but with another week closing to an end I'm looking forward to the weekend and all being together to work in the garden.  Though I think Sunday is predicted to hit 40 so I'm unsure how much work we will get done then!  I have been busy contacting some local people who are happy to share some of their immense permaculture/farming knowledge with us.  One of the most exciting is the lovely Sally at Jembella Farm which we are lucky enough to be able to go and visit, I know the boys will all love it and we cannot wait!  We are also looking forward to the The Food Forest opening day in April and they have a permaculture talk on which will be very interesting, and no doubt we will learn a lot.  Being local examples we can visit will be invaluable to us and the plans we have for our place.  Our plans for this place are beginning to take shape, I will pin Grant down so we can draw them out for you soon I promise!  

I don't really know what we have done these holidays,  there was surgery of course at the beginning and the recovery from that which took us to Christmas, then there was travel, family, friends and so forth during the Christmas/New Year period.  Our good friends wedding, time seems to have slipped away.  But in a nice way, the enjoyable kind of way that time slips away when there is no schedule, no time table, and no need to keep to the outside worlds pace.       

We have been encouraging William to undertake a little more responsibility around the house, he is doing really well, with only the occasional light grumble.  He is finding the joy in chores and working out how to have a little fun whilst doing them, like swirling the water around when he does the dishes.  He is enjoying cooking with my thermomix, following the instructions, using the scales, getting the ingredients out and most importantly packing up the kitchen at the end with me.  There are many lessons that we talk about during this time.  About kitchen hygiene and safe food handling, the importance of leaving the sink and benches clean and dry, why we might use salt or vinegar in a sauce or item to preserve it, why we might use plain flour or self raising flour.  Standard little kitchen lessons that just kind of evolve while we chat and work away side by side.         

I was browsing through some photos this morning and I realized I have not done any sewing in weeks!  No wonder I feel like I'm missing something.  Today I will find the time I'm sure.  Just after we hold the budgies.

I'm not sure if I showed you my last doll I completed.  I think I got caught up in the flurry of Christmas and renos.  

Here she is, I left their naming to their new little owners.  She is a little older so I thought she might have something special in mind for them.  

As usual they are made using traditional Waldorf methods.  With hand formed heads, firmly stuffed with pure wool, wool hair and simple hand embroidered faces.  The clothing is hand woven fabric from a good friend who makes beautiful baby wraps and cotton/wool felt for the rest.  




When I went home over Christmas I was given a bunch of lovely embroidered and crocheted linens that used to belong to my Grandmother.  I found this little one which I totally loved and popped it in a little frame so it's on display.  It seems such a pity to keep such beautiful items in a draw, Simple creativity, my favorite kind! 

Anyway lunch is cooked and time to get going.

Much love,
Emma
xx



12

Newest family members.

Bit by bit the routines and activities that make a house a home are beginning to emerge.  As they do my contentment here grows.

We killed our first rooster yesterday and he has been put in the slow cooker with herbs from the garden, carrot, celery, onion and garlic to simmer away to make broth.  Grant is run down at the moment so chicken soup is on the menu for dinner tonight.  Grant is very experienced at dispatching animals given his farming and agricultural background but not so good at butchering it so it looks pretty.  We need to invest in some good knives for him.  But no doubt with practice he will get better.


I would like to say I'm tough and am totally fine with eating and butchering our own meat, but I'm going to be real, it kinda grosses me out.  I mean ethically I completely understand it is ideal, the animals are grown, and butchered in their own environment, their lives are of a high quality with lots of room to roam, good food and a nice natural environment to scratch and carry out chook behaviors....intellectually I completely agree with it, but none the less it makes a little bit inside of me squirm.  Its going to take a little getting used too.     

We are getting some new chooks today from friends who are moving interstate.  (these ones wont be butchered.)  We are going to need to increase our egg intake!  I wish the boys liked hard boiled eggs, such a great, easy lunch time snack.  I wonder if I bombard them with them if they will change their mind?  We will be getting a friendly rooster which is great.  I look forward to being able to go in the chook yard again, as do the boys. 

The little cottage is going to be full of new little family members soon.  We went to buy mite treatment for the new chooks.  The owners treated them organically but they think they may still have some so we will treat them medically just to make sure.  And as well as the treatment we walked out with these guys.....sooo sweet!  A great holiday job of feeding, taming and looking after them, they are very young and just getting their tail feathers.  We will search for a large cage on gumtree in a few weeks.  While we work on taming them we will leave them in a small cage and they can stretch their wings when they are out with us, which will be several times a day.  

Gelati was also on the menu today as I was given a bunch of fruit from the a wedding I was in on the weekend which I cut up and froze to make fresh, cold gelato in the thermie.  It was a delicious treat!  A good way to jam fruit into everyone also.  I was also prepping some ham for a quick and easy pasta.

The boys enjoying the gelato.  Icecream headaches all round!!

The wedding was a beautiful, but huge day.  Im still feeling tired from the last few days of events!  hospitals, weddings, family stuff.  But it was just lovely and great fun to catch up with so many friends and celebrate the beautiful couple.  I think it is the last "big event" on our calendar for a little while.

If your wondering why Angus has a bandage on his head in the photo of the boys eating gelato it's because he had an accident in the backyard.  He split his head open on a star dropper on the fence we are about to rip up and replace for that exact reason.  It required a trip to hospital and a few stitches.  He doesn't need the bandage now, but he feels secure with it on, so it stays.  Though today I need to wash it and replace it.


Anyway the washing machine is beeping at me and I have a mountain of washing to get through after the last few days of busyness!   I think tomorrow afternoon when Grant knocks off work a trip to the beach might be in order.  So getting the jobs done today, between naps, bird cuddling, puzzles, books and cuppas is on the cards.

Much love,
Emma
xx

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