A new season awaits!

I can’t say I fully managed to find the deep Christmas joy this year after searching for it HERE.  But I did have genuine snippets of joy, periods of contentment and laughter.  Sometimes that's the best we can manage. 

Gingerbread house making - a family tradition.

We had a wonderful time at a couple of carols with dear friends, made our gingerbread house, did the present thing.  The kids had a special Christmas day with extended family kayaking on the lake.  It was beautiful to watch and have a paddle about with them.  We played new board games, drank cold refreshing drinks and listened to the wind and the rain on the little old caravan roof. 

I was surprised at how wonderfully Angus picked up kayaking!

The old van on christmas night....All is quiet, everyone sleeping, no one stirs not even a mouse! 

a boxing day midday nap!

But I am glad to be home.  The boys are playing with new games, Lego, books and toys.  There are tea parties, puppets, and building being done.  This afternoon the tree will be neatly packed away, freeing up much needed space in the little old cottage.  I am glad to be facing a new season.  One filled with hope, rest, contentment and hopefully a slower pace. 

Now that Christmas has been and gone I find myself pondering next year.  What goals to set?  What can we work on?  What have we done this year to survive that doesn't fit in with our "why"?  what can we alter next year to bring in a deeper sense of contentment and free up tension and time?

As I was wrapping our Christmas presents I discovered amongst the bundle of books I had ordered from the book depository/fishpond a book I had bought myself and completely forgotten about.  What a timly find!

The month by month layout of this book is just perfect.  So this book will be my "guide" if you will, to help me stay on track as we take stage two of renovations at the little old cottage and try and bring our life back to a slower simpler pace then we were able to manage over the past year. 

I have been pondering a great deal about our "why". 
What does the life we want to live look like?
Why are these things important to us?
Why are we making the choices we are? 
Why are we not doing some of the things we want too? 

My why statement is simple enough. 

I want our lives to reflect the love and grace we have been given through Christ.  I want to care about others like He cares for us, to live our lives being fully present, generous, kind.  I want to live gently on this earth we have been given the opportunity to be caretakers off.  I want to teach our children how to be strong, and fierce about what they believe in and who they are, to be warriors for the poor, the lost and the vulnerable.  To be kind, gentle and practical.  To be good stewards of the many blessings we have in this world.  To continue to learn how to build our lives so they are gentle on the environment, to learn how to be more sustainable.  I want to live slowly and sit in the moments that make up our lives, to be deeply satisfied with life.  The happy, the challenging, the sad.  I want to do meaningful work.  Work that resonates with my why.  To do my hearts work. 

So now as we make the decisions about the next 12 months - this is what we line them up with.

Decluttering is something we are going to continue with, to simplify further.  I have decided to sell some furniture that is simply too big for our little old cottage and scrounge and buy a couple of smaller pieces.  My beautiful kitchen dresser is too big for our kitchen wall.  So It will be sold, the items inside and on it will be halved and only the most precious kept and a smaller simple dresser bought for a fraction of the price.  Our TV unit which ties in with the dresser will also be sold and I will source one second hand which half the size and re-arrange the lounge so the TV is tucked in the corner.  Our coffee table will also be sold to open up the room.  I just want less stuff and more space to actually live in.  In a small house, space is at a premium. 

Grant and I have tried various forms of shopping this year now we live 30 mins from the big centre.  Some stuff I can get through our shop, but not everything.  After much discussion, I am re-taking the reins for the food budgeting/menu planning.  We have tried him shopping - he forgets stuff, it drives me seriously mental.  I'm the main cook, it makes sense I do it.  But I don't have the time to commute, study, work and do it all.  So, I have been trialling click and collect.  It's a massive compromise.  They use way too many plastic bags, but it is their system.  It can only be done though Coles when I much prefer to shop at Foodland....BUT it is a massive time saver during the day in a season I need to pick sanity and simplifying procedures so I can spend time being present with my boys.  This is not my ideal option.  I would love to shop at markets, but in the aim of always keeping it real and honest on this big wide often superficial internet world, its where we are at in this very point of time. Its ok to make do, to keep the bigger goals of your "why" in the picture. 

So, to try and make up for the less than ideal shopping, I hope to continue reducing our waste in other ways around the house.  I have been greatly inspired by Zero waste living and have in mind the next few changes we can easily make.  Like getting beeswax food covers for the things that don’t fit in my glass containers.  Purchasing better quality stainless steel lunch boxes and picnic containers.  Getting a little more organized and always bringing picnics with us, ensuring there are always homemade snacks in the house, and more than just a couple of spare meals in the freezer.

This year with so many things going on with work, the business, renovating and studying we have not eaten as well as usual.  There has been too many last minute take away meals, not enough bone broth, not as much organization in the kitchen.  There are many contributing factors including being kitchen-less for a couple of months, but the main thing is we have plans and systems in place to help us overcome this "flying by the seat of our pants".  We know we have done a much better job of this in the past and are more than capable of doing it.  We have just struggled to find a system that works.  But we have now.  I'm really looking forward to being more organized.  In both the slowness it provides, the nourishment and the health benefits - I'm getting far too chubby - gah!  Why is it always easier and more fun to get fatter rather then skinnier?!  Haha!

We have some interesting projects in the pipe line this year.  Re-building and fixing the back half of the little old cottage and opening it all up to the gardens, new garden beds, plans for our business to streamline and improve procedures.  Grant has been slowly building up his wood roaches ready to expand his little side business, and we have some interesting little family plans.  The first little one will hopefully be revealed in a few weeks!  Another we have a lot of prayer and conversations to have before we share, but I am deeply hopeful.  ;)

Well board games are summoning so I best get going. 
Much love,

De-cluttering, toys, christmas and simplicity.

Kids toys...I am not entirely sure how they seem to expand and multiply when we are sleeping but they do!

A few "hand-me downs" are kindly gifted, a birthday passes, a grandparent sees something they think a child might like and before you know it the toys are falling off the shelves...again!

Over the years, I have developed a system that works really well for us.  Eventually Grant got on board too.  He has Bower bird tendancies.  ;)

I'm a big believer in including kids where possible, though there are times I de-clutter a little as I’m tiding, but only things I know are broken or rubbish.  I strongly believe this is their home, they are their toys and belongings and they need to have autonomy over their own things I believe if they are going to grow into adults who respect and care for their possessions. 

This is Will's own little succulant patch.  He loves them.  I take cuttings for him when I see new ones out and about, and he does too.  He then plants them up and sells them to us and visitors, budding businessman!

Firstly, we are very matter of fact about life in this house.  We have explained their privilege to them, and continue to teach them about this.  We educate them about other countries, about our own country.  We have shown them pictures of how other families live and we try and help them develop the natural empathy, kindness and love for others that children innately poses.  Not in a way that guilt's them, but instead we use it as a tool to empower them to see how they can help children like them, who are not as lucky as we are.  To show them they can make a difference, even though they are small.  We make it a celebratory time.  I talk about how happy another child will be to receive such a special toy, how happy a parent will be to be able to find good toys for their children and how the money that is raised will go to buying Christmas hampers and so forth. 

The tree is up - but alas its not "real" due to a house full of people terribly allergic to pine trees!

We talk about keeping only what we use and really love.  That way it makes cleaning up faster, and we are happier as we get to do more fun things together.  I re-assure them that I will never throw out or donate something they love of they say "no".  I respect that this is their home. 

 And you know what?  They truly get it.  We go through everything and pick it up and ask if we can donate it.  We chat about if they want to pick it up, if they want it taking up the limited space on the shelves, if they still actually play with it or if they have out-grown it and what it might look like. 

 This is not a conversation we have twice a year, its simply how our family approaches "stuff" in an everyday and ordinary manner.  We focus on what we have, what we love and what we truly want in our house.  After that, the rest is generally easy to let go.

I think if we want to grow mindful adults, we need to challenge and grow mindful children.  In a time where child hood and parenting is made into such a complex situation, I find it helpful to simply step out of all the hype, the "must haves" the parenting experts and just chill.  These days when everything is measured and critiqued, "educational" and getting ahead is pushed and shoved down our throats.   

When we focus on the benefits of donating and how great the kids are doing - it makes the entire process pretty easy.  I have a folder for paintings and special things.  But fortunately the boys are pretty good at letting stuff go.  I don’t think it is an accident they are.  We have worked hard to build consistent and persistent attitudes around this subject. 

That’s the key to most parenting problems with very young children isn’t it?  Consistency and persistency.  In whatever form it takes that aligns with your parenting style. 

The toy situation in the western world is not now nor has it ever actually been about the development of the child, its generally about a company’s bottom line.  Toy companies work hard to get us to depend on their "knowledge" and products.

Here is a little story for you - I’m on a tangent but bare with me. 

I was walking in Big W the other day to buy a new washing basket.  I generally avoid the shops at all costs.  But mine was well and truly broken and ran a risk of snagging my clothes.  So off I toddled, annoyed that "nothing lasts these days".   I was walking to the isle and I heard a group of three middle aged adults taking about the "washing machine specialist" who had advised them that the "ONLY" good washing powder to use was a particular expensive brand.  I was highly amused and saddened at the same time. 

This "specialist" is not a true specialist.  He was not someone who built and repaired washing machines, who cared about maintaining a good working machine.  It was a salesman, who sold new washing machines who most likely worked in affiliation with said expensive brand washing powder.

Companies name these people "specialists" as if to raise them up above us.  To make us believe that they must know better then we do, and when did the turn of phrase "specialist" begin getting applied to salesmen?  I always thought a specialist was someone highly trained, highly experienced in a field.  You know, like a brain surgeon or something like that.     

And another thing, when did the simple task of washing clothes become so "complex" and expensive that we need a "specialist" to teach us how to do it "right'?!  Pfffft.....What a load of absolute rubbish.

But that is the power of marketing and consumerism.  These three smart people had been brain washed by the system.  Then I got sad.  Sad that this kind of information is rife today.  Sad that parents get told similar lies about products they "need" for their children, sad that so many people buy into it unknowingly and it brings them nothing but financial strain, anxiety, stress and a feeling of in-adequacy. 

So, as we approach this season of excess.  Let’s look around, lets donate good quality children’s toys in time for Christmas for those that have less.  Let’s be mindful about the items we bring into our lives, into our homes and the message they send our children.  Lets give less"stuff" and give more of ourselves.  Let’s be confident in our skills and that our children more than likely have "enough" just as it is.  They are always watching and learning from our behaviour. 

Hanging out at the beach.  We hope to be present during the Chistmas holidays, that these will be the memories that shape our children when they remember Christmas. 

Grant and I have decided not to give each other Christmas presents, and that has been the case for most of the year.  There is truly nothing we want, what a blessed life we have.  In our run down little old ramshackle cottage.  Our gift in this season is love, presence and mindfulness.  That to me is the true spirit of Christmas. 

Much Love,

A natter from the porch...

I'm not quite sure what the trigger is, but I feel as if the pressure that built over the course of this year has finally slowly been hissing a slow and steady release.  Over the last couple of days it feels like it has suddenly gone "whooosh!"

And I find myself feeling a familiar kind of old "normal".  Like my skin has finally stretched enough to fit all that has been going on in our lives in.  The last 12 months have been a rollercoaster for sure.  Did you know we have been in the little old cottage a whole 12 months now?  Crazy isn't it?  So much has changed.  So much has happened this year.  The devastating Pinery Bushfires occurred just two weeks after we moved to our new-to-us old cottage, helping to renew our local church and starting a family’s ministry HERE, renovations upon renovations.  Remember what the cottage used to look like?  If you are a new reader here are some before pictures HERE, William had his adenoids and tonsils removed, I started Uni, and also started a new part time job as a Chaplain working with women and children after the fires.

It has been a year of heartache, challenges, growth, laughter and new beginnings.  Throughout it all I have had many times of feeling so blessed.  We have been welcomed into the community, mind you having owned the general store and post office for many years helps that.  But finally I feel I am beginning to put down my roots here, the cottage always felt like home, but now the town is beginning too as well.  How long we will stay I have no idea, but it is nice for now, and “now” is all we have isn't it?

So here are some ordinary photos taken this week.  Happy moments.  Moments when I felt rich and deeply connected to our little home here. 

We got a couple of new chooks to add to our flock and they are laying well!  Though I think we could do with a couple more.   

A little while ago a dear friend gifted me her grandmothers collection of sewing bits and bobs - what a treasure chest it is!  It had everything I needed for a little project I undertook!  So handy considering the sewing shop is 30 mins away. 

"Jimmy" needed a "ninja" outfit apparently for christmas so I whipped this up for a gift for Angus.  William will het a library bag out of the Marvel fabric.  Henry might get a similar outfit for his Waldorf doll.

Licking the bowl!  Always fun.

Homemade snacks ready for the weekend. 

Anyway we are off to a christmas pagent tonight so I best get everyone ready!  Grant will be home in about 3 mins and Henry just hopped out of his bath and is currently running around in the nuddy!

Much love,

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