Domesticity

Sitting here, Sunday morning. Coffee. Cereal. Sunlight pouring through window onto faces of children. Dirty dishes. Discarded pyjamas.

Domesticity.

School goes back tomorrow. Today we will move our way through all the jobs Sundays require. I went through the washing basket before making my coffee this morning and found that we hadn’t yet washed the school uniforms… the washing seems to pile up so fast that often the top layers get washed but the bottom of the basket is forgotten. This is probably so unhygienic I’m not sure if I should mention it publicly. Never fear, all the uniforms are in the machine now and I’ll hang them out in front of the heater later this morning.

The girls both have holes in their navy school leggings that I put off as a school holiday job. They haven’t been mended. In January this year I bought a few metres of navy bamboo jersey material to make them new leggings. They haven’t been made.

I always look ahead to a place where there will be more time, where life will move a little slower. It seems to be an unending lesson that this time never actually comes. These holidays I have to give myself a break though, as I have not simply been contending with time; I’ve spent the entire two weeks coughing and spluttering with a second bout of a wintery virus that has its tendrils tightly wrapped within my chest.

On the long list of holiday jobs we are slowly working our way through is sorting and clearing our home as we get ready to put it on the market. A few days ago I found an old journal I wrote when I lived in London in my early 20s. Despite being excruciatingly disturbing to read, it made me realise how domesticated my life (and I) have become. The majority of its pages had me galavanting around London at night, begrudging what he said and what she said and complaining that I can’t afford to top up my phone and there’s too much plastic on the broccoli at Tesco and maybe I’ll quit my job and move to Edinburgh among a variety of other things that I’ll never mention here, or anywhere, ever. I had nothing to worry about beyond the 18p on my phone and where I was going to buy my next can of corn.

In comparison, domestic life is… what is it? It is full and busy and intense. I like to tell myself it is rarely dull, though at times when wrapped up in the cycle it can be endlessly dull and repetitive. Sometimes it seems like a ridiculous game, a never-ending attempt to reach a certain point (that never eventuates) and I wonder if I’m trapped in some sort of experiment. Eg. Once I’ve washed the dishes I’ll… or If only I could get through this washing basket, then I’ll have time for… or Once I’ve written these emails and filled out those school notices I could… and somehow (I still haven’t quite figured out how) that moment never, ever comes. If you want it, you have to allow it to barge through the wall of domesticated life. If you want to write something, make something, listen to something, you have to grab the moment by the horns and if the proverbial hits the fan, ignore it. At least, that’s the basic theory. I can’t say I have mastered it, although, I am sitting here typing so I suppose in some ways I have. The girls are all at the table with me, colouring in. Between every third word I type there is a question usually beginning with a repeated Mummyyy Mummyyy Mummyyy Mummyy if I don’t answer within the required millisecond. It’s delivered in that kind of whiny, elongated pitch, that cuts straight through your motherly ears (I know you know the tone). That’s ok. I can truly say I love this life. I love the messiness of it, the chaos. I love being around these little, crazy people, despite it being the most exhausting, all-consuming, insane thing I have ever done. I love hearing their conversations, I love organising their things and planning out activities, birthdays, clothing, food. I love cuddling them and reading them books from my childhood, reliving them through their eyes and minds. I love the safety and cosiness of family, of a solid family unit. I love all the nerdy things associated with motherhood: meal planning, wardrobe organising, sewing lists. Sometimes I wonder if I am really an 80 year old trapped in this 36 year old body.

I know that by the time I have figured all this out, my girls will be grown and this brief window of my life will be over. Most days I don’t give it a second thought, I just move with the motions. But now and again I try to tune in, to pay attention. Because domestic life may be inane at times, but I don’t want to miss a second of it.

In an hour or so we will head off to the farmers market and stock up for the week. I don’t know what we’ll cook this week. I’ve been so unwell that we haven’t eaten very well or cooked much over the holidays. The day will flow on as all days do. We will try to make sense of the messiness, and then we will let it go.

#booksinourhands | a collaboration

I was recently invited to join a local book group consisting of some wonderful school mums. I eagerly awaited our first meeting… and every meeting since! I love talking about books, I love hearing what other people think about books, I love learning more about how people read; discovering the nuances they find in strings of words that I have glossed over, and vice versa. #nerdalert

Over the past few years I have occasionally shared what I am reading on instagram, and here on this blog too, and have always been surprised at the amount of conversation my piles of (usually randomly combined) books have generated.

Last week at book group (while discussing this book) a conversation was had over who could read e-books and who couldn’t. I’m firmly in the couldn’t (can’t/won’t?) camp and it intrigued me to hear that one woman was able to read whole books on the screen of her phone! I’m still thinking about that, in a gee-whiz, shake-of-the-head kind of way. While I can manage to read a lot of things on the phone or screen, a book on screen is simply a no-go-zone.

Holding a book in my hands, I feel the texture of the paper: the silk, the grit. Sitting up late underneath lamplight, the scrape of a turning page rings out in the silence of the night. The solidity, the essence of a real book is difficult to replace. You can lose yourself in a book in a way that you can’t within the confines of a screen, with all its flashy backlighting, unnatural curves and myriad distractions.

So.

After much deliberation (and typing of hashtags into instagram to find one that is completely fresh and available) I have decided to launch the #booksinourhands hashtag. A collaboration with you, friends, where we can share what we are reading. A place to share thoughts, contributions and ideas. I LOVE seeing what others are reading. I don’t care if you’re reading nothing but cookbooks or holiday fiction or podiatry handbooks. Political memoirs, short stories, self-help or travel. I might have to draw the line at sports biographies though. But I’ll try to be open minded.

Let’s see where it goes. Perhaps it will just be me, waving books around against my kitchen wall, nerding out all alone. So be it.

Tell me, what are book are you carrying around at the moment? Is it luring you onto the couch at any opportunity, or are you searching for something better? Use the hashtag #booksinourhands over on instagram to tell us all about it.

(squints eyes, grits teeth, presses publish)

Three… A Birthday

Baby P is turning THREE.

I can’t believe it. Some birthdays seem to fly by, unnoticed. For some reason this third birthday is playing on my mind. Age three seems to signify something… saying a final farewell to babyhood, looking ahead to the beginning of kinder, which inevitably leads to school, and on and on and on. Perhaps it is because P is my last baby, and we are now moving into a new phase of our lives as parents. Things do seem different without a baby for the first time in many, many years.

I want to say that time seems to fly by, but I don’t want to because it is so utterly cliche I can’t bring myself to. But it does, doesn’t it? I’m hearing everyone around me saying, “I can’t believe it’s already June!” and realise I am thinking it too. Where has the year gone?

For P’s birthday I’m keeping things ultra simple. When I’m thinking about presents I always try to stick to something I want, something I need, something to wear, something to read. So far I have the want which is a little collection of sea animals for a small world play scenario. I bought them from a local shop but they are the same as these ones which I was eyeing off online before I stumbled across them in person. The need gift will be a new bike helmet which is still on the to-do list. For wear I am in the process of making this popcorn kotori cardi, however I have just run out of wool! I have enough left to finish the edging – but not the sleeves… so she may have to be given it as a vest and when more wool arrives I will fix it up. Something to read is still up in the air, probably an Alison Lester book, I will never tire of them.

I want to enjoy our birthdays instead of being swept up in the frenzy of it; cleaning the house, making the cake, racing around buying gifts, deliberating over how and when to celebrate and if it involves other people – sweating over the details of the food and the state of the house and so on.

So here’s to not sweating the small stuff, and to my third baby turning three… how lucky am I.

That Elusive Thing Called Balance

Sitting Down, Stopping, Staying Still. These are all things I am trying to practice. It has been a long time since I’ve written here. I have drafted a few posts, but for the most part I have simply not been able to find the time. After finishing Yoga Teacher Training last year I promised myself that 2018 would be the year of routine, of slow. I wanted to have a breather and get into a run of the mill schedule that included a bit of work, school drop offs and pick ups, family time, time for cooking and the farmers market and of course craft and cups of coffee. Nothing big. Nothing busy. Plain old pure normal.

I have managed to incorporate most of these things into my life. All good things. I’ve somehow landed an incredible job at a not-for-profit that is truly family friendly. I’m job sharing with another mum of three, working the amount I want and I love it. I’m making and selling things. I’m teaching yoga. I went to the farmers market on the weekend. We spend lots of time in the country on weekends. We have chickens and a veggie patch. But after five months of trying to do it all I have realised that life can’t be contained. Things come up. Physical things. Scheduling issues. Emotions. Time or a perceived lack of it.

Truth is, I am exhausted.

And I’m still searching for that elusive thing called balance. It has to be out there, right? I feel as though I am in a constant battle with time. Each day I get up, fight with time, feel disgruntled at the lack of it, and go to bed. I stay up late to try to do things, to have time to myself. Each morning I wake tired and do it all again. That all sounds very bleak and of course I smile and do good things with my days and for the most part I am happy. But I can’t help but feel I spend more time chasing than being.

In a bid to encourage myself to slow down, to do one task at a time instead of racing time every day, I was standing with P by the school gate this morning after drop off, watching a digger move dirt. A Mum I am getting to know tapped me on the shoulder looking rushed and tired. We had been passing each other in the playground and managing nothing more than a quick “hi!” for weeks. She has been working four days a week during school hours since the start of the year, thinking it would be a good balance being there for the kids in the morning and afternoon. She’s exhausted. She can’t get everything done around the house on her one day off and she feels as though everything outside of work is just falling to pieces.

Another friend of mine has been struggling with a sick husband and sick kids during the seasonal shift, while trying to balance studying full time. She told me she woke up at 2am the other night and got out of bed to wash the lunch boxes and do the kids’ school lunches for the next day to save her time in the morning.

I can relate to all this so well. I don’t know many parents who feel as though they have struck the perfect balance between work, parenting and life. Who are able to pay the bills with ease and just sail on through. I’m sure these people are out there. But from my observation the majority of us are struggling to do everything.

I’ve complained about this before, no doubt. And I am a believer in not thinking we have to do everything. I’m realising though there’s a gap between believing in something and actually playing it out each day in your own life. This transition can require a cultural shift within the family, it means pulling away from things, getting rid of the “shoulds”. We are figuring this out in our family, slowly, slowly.

Balance… where are you, really?

Chopping Vegetables

We got home from the beach this afternoon. It was all action stations, unpacking, tidying, dinner preparation. I managed to find half an hour where I was inside, alone, chopping vegetables for dinner (with an empty fridge an a kitchen full of bags, tonight it was roast veggies and tuna for the kids and tofu red curry for the grownups). The kids were playing happily in the backyard and there was a brief moment of blissful quiet.

I poured a glass of wine and, out of habit, I set my laptop up and went to youtube, to check the channels I like to watch and see which had updated while we were away. This habit of watching a screen while I’m cooking, using it as a reward, has become such a compulsion I whipped my laptop out before the third child had closed the back door on their way out. I realised how slow it had made me at dinner time, forever stopping to search for the next clip to watch, pausing to listen to whatever was being shown or said, forgetting where I was up to with my cooking.

Clogging my mind with more: more junk, more thoughts, more noise.

I thought of my 2018 intentions and I closed the laptop. I put on some classical music, this, and was amazed by the beauty of it, by the way my thoughts – actual real-time thoughts – flowed, by the way my thumb whipped and curled around the curves of the potatoes as I peeled and chopped, grit collecting underneath my nails and noise releasing from my head, dissolving into the air around me.

Over the years I have slowly but incessantly become reliant on screens to entertain me, to fill me up, to add bulk to moments of natural quiet throughout my day. Sometimes I enjoy it, but I am increasingly feeling frustrated at losing my train of thought, at turning on a screen before I even realise what I am doing, at feeling foggy-headed and full, just so full of other people’s thoughts and lives and details. Sometimes by the end of the day I feel so overstimulated I can barely think. It’s something I’m trying to be mindful of, to be aware of what is happening for me when I’m reaching for my phone, for entertainment, for external stimuli. It’s time I thought about my own screen time, not just that of the girls.

Dinner was served at 6pm. The hoards came inside. The next wave of the day began.

green rolling hills + wild seas

Sitting here on the back deck of my in-law’s beach house, watching the girls playing happily in the blow up paddle pool. A cicada chorus hangs in the air, along with thoughts of summer days, new plans unfolding and the promise of a fresh year beginning.

I had so much hinging on Christmas and this holiday. During all my hard work studying and immersing myself in Yoga philosophy and practice in 2017 I was looking ahead, to the reward, imagining all the making and flourish associated with Christmas, followed by these blissful weeks spent amongst the trees and by the ocean. A moment to pause.

And yet tomorrow, we head home. I start my new job on Monday, two days a week at a not-for-profit I’m incredibly passionate and excited about, and I begin teaching yoga in a few weeks. A new chapter is gently yet persistently unfolding and with that there are new rhythms to establish. Time rolls on, reminding us we are alive, reminding us there is no time like the present.

Aside from work and yoga, my mind has been ticking away (as usual), running through all the things I want to make under my little #birdiesaid banner on @suburban_dreaming this year. I’m thinking more hats for big and small and smaller people clothing, of course, but also some larger human attire too. My dreams are filled with vintage blush and rust coloured linen, delicate florals and, naturally, wool.

The Pixie is starting school this year, and with two children at school and just one little one left at home, life will look very different for twelve months. Without having to rush off to kinder, I’m planning on more days spent walking to school, quality time with my little number three and I will be making a real effort to relish this quiet year. The following we will be back to the kinder and school combo meaning multiple drop offs and pick ups, and less time with my growing clan.

So I open this new year with sunshine in my head and a smile on my face, but also with the trepidation that comes with change. I know myself well enough now, though, to know that everything passes, nothing is unchangeable, and for me, there is always an element of discomfort even with change of the best kind.

And for now, just for now, I’ll say goodbye to the dusty blues of the ocean, to the salty scent on my children’s skin, to slow and aimless days, to sheltering from the sun at midday, to early dinners and late bedtimes… and hello home, hello new rhythms, hello to the remainder of the school holidays, to a few more slow days, to new beginnings, to fresh projects, dreams and plans.

But, oh, will those green rolling hills, dark and wild seas, and pale blue skies tug at my heart, at the very essence of me, until we meet again…

Living Small, Dreaming Big

It’s 2018. 2018! I remember in meetings at work years ago discussing goals that would be achieved by “2020”. It seemed so far away, so futuristic, so unreal. And now, it’s almost here.

I know some people say resolutions are a waste of time, but personally I love the ritual of sitting down on summer nights towards the end of December and early January, reflecting on the year that was, re-grouping, and conjuring up plans, ideas and visions for the year ahead. It’s cathartic and positive and motivating. I think, anyway.

Last year I wanted to find more clarity in my day-to-day life, and I wanted to follow an authentic path – whatever authentic for me (and us) is. I think I have managed to find that in 2017. Or, at the very least, begun to understand what that means.

This year, I want to find more discipline in my life. I don’t want this to be misunderstood for something harsh and rigid. A lot of my inner frustration is born from not following through on things or yearning to do something to the point that I’m complaining about not doing or being that thing… when in reality, I am the only thing standing in my way. For me, it’s more around putting effort into myself and having the structure, groundedness, application and routine, the discipline, to infuse my life with the things that sing. Think yoga and meditation, eating fresh and abundant plant-based foods and taking the time to prepare them, cooking and walking. Think less screens, more fresh air. All those good things that sometimes need to be built into a routine, lest forgotten. In addition, this year once again brings changes to our life as a family unit; I’m starting a new (permanent, finally!) part time job at a not-for-profit in a fortnight, and I’ll also be teaching slow flow and prenatal yoga (if you’re local and keen, send me an email for details). In order to keep things calm and level-headed, there will need to be a strong sense of routine, predictability and… discipline to get everything done and keep everyone happy.

Another thing I’m passionate about is working on my handmade wardrobe. Last year I made this, this and the jumpsuit from this collection among some other things I worked on and drafted up myself with my partner in crime, my Gran. I get such a thrill out of putting something on in the morning and realising that I made it myself. So I’ll be doing more of that this year too.

Aside from that, we have some camping trips planned, some walks, some mini-adventures and a whole lot of slow, calm, home-y type things.

What about you, what’s on the horizon?

I Forgot

 

It’s December 1st and the year is coming to a swift close. I’ve almost finished Yoga Teacher Training with just a few more assignments to go. The practical assessments and exam are all done – phew. I’ve been trying to write lists to keep a track of all the things I have to do – I had written quite the list of things to do once my assessments were over. I’m a week into that list and have crossed off a lot, although they are quickly replaced by other tasks almost immediately.

Today I realised that I forgot to hand in certain school forms that were due this morning, I forgot to sign my name on the kinder christmas cleaning roster for next week, I forgot to take the Pixie to school transition today, and I forgot to submit the girls’ school uniform order… my mind is officially in overflow mode! I had a moment of pure internal frenzy when I realised all these things at once about an hour ago.

Pausing. Recalibrating. Beginning again.

Now we have an accidental afternoon at home, and the smallest is asleep, I’m going to race around the house to tidy and put things away. I’ll tackle the breakfast dishes, the dirty sheets. I’m carrying my notebook around permanently adding and subtracting from my list as I go.

We all have so much going on at this time of year, but there is also that element of excitement, the hint of a summery breeze, the knowledge that school holidays, sun, sand and a moment of rest are all just around the corner.

Travel light through this season, friends.

A Natural Skincare Routine

If you’re anything like me, you get to the bathroom to clean your teeth at the later end of the evening, stare at yourself and your bedraggled hair in the mirror and think, I should wash my face and do all those things that other people do to look after the face that is going to be on the front of my head for my entire life. Then you spit your toothpaste out and go to bed. I don’t wear makeup often which helps to encourage this c’est la vie, shrug-of-the-shoulders kind of attitude.

Part of my skincare dilemma is finding products that fit with my ethos. I don’t use any products tested on animals, I like to avoid palm oil and I don’t like using products with nasty things in them. Sometimes I have bought things from local markets and so on, only to find that stall is not there the next time I need the product. So more often than not I’ve thrown up my hands and put skincare in the too-hard basket. And gone to bed.

When I was offered some products from biome* recently, and knew it was my chance. I have been an affiliate for biome for a number of years, and continue to be impressed. They have recently declared themselves to be palm oil free and have written a post* explaining the truths behind the use of palm oil (and its so-called ‘sustainable’ derivatives). Initially, I thought about choosing cleaning products (as you do) but then, after careful consideration I decided, to hell with it, I’m going all out for me and my face.

I chose*:

// cedar + stone hemp and rose foaming cleanser

// clay face block

// vegan skin food moisturiser

// tinderbox orange flower toner

I’ve spent the last couple of months using these products and getting a feel for them, and I am genuinely happy with all of them. I absolutely love the vegan skin food in particular, but it is quite heavy, which I like as I feel as though it is really nourishing my skin, however if a thick moisturiser isn’t for you, you could try another from their moisturiser range*. The foaming cleanser is beautiful and fresh feeling, and the clay face block (of which I wasn’t sure what to except) is surprisingly easy on the skin, leaving my face feeling revitalised. I often grab the orange flower toner throughout the day, when I need a bit of a pep up. It’s safe to say I’m now someone who has a solid morning and evening skin care routine! It has only taken me 35 years…

I want to mention that I am regularly offered products for trial, from linen to books to gift vouchers and so on. I think in all the years I have been blogging I have said yes to three things, these products from biome* being one. I strongly believe in biome products and this is the only reason I accepted their offer. I am not interested in spending time blogging about products I don’t personally find value in, and which don’t fit with my ethical beliefs.I will  absolutely be purchasing all of the items I trialled once mine have run out. Phew, political statement over!

If you’re looking for a new skin care range for yourself, or a little eco-friendly something for Christmas gifts (books, lunch boxes, drink bottles, the list goes on), I would highly recommend you have a look at biome* and see what you think.

*If you purchase something using my affiliate links I will earn a small commission. I will only ever use affiliate links for things I use and enjoy myself in my own home, for my own family. Thank you so much for your support. 

Weekend Bounty

Today was a hard slog, after spending the weekend in beautiful South Gippy. I ran a squillion errands, did the food shop, bought vata-reducing tea (!), dropped kids here there and everywhere, drove around so the baby could have a sleep (seeing as she refuses to sleep anywhere else in the day time anymore), went to Spotlight (that is a story in itself), washed dishes, put a load of clothes in the wash, put my pyjamas on at 3.45pm and closed all the curtains in case someone walked past, then got dressed again at 4pm because I felt slovenly. Then I started on dinner (think I’ve finally nailed a veggie bolognese sauce with sweet potato and lentils).

We brought back mountains of homegrown food: broadbeans, lemons (lots), broccoli, cabbage and various herbs. This week I have to decide what to do with it all. We ate all the broadbeans and broccoli last night, lightly blanched with roasted sweet potato, hommus, avocado and a jasmine rice/quinoa blend. The perfect throw together meal. The cabbage and herbs will get thrown in amongst other veg and eaten over the next couple of days.

My main challenge now is the lemons. I’ll make lemon bliss balls (always with oats instead of cashews due to no nut policies at school), lemon cake (maybe this one). I’ll have lemons every day in hot water, lemon juice on untraditional dahl, lemon in our hommus, and I’ll still have so many left over – if you know me and want some, please let me know! One of the things I love most about eating seasonally is discovering new recipes and planning out what to do with a glut of various things. Yesterday before we came home Mum cooked up a huge bowlful of artichokes, freshly picked from the garden an hour prior. They. Were. Delicious. We had to google how to prepare them, and now I know for next time!

Today I was feeling good while I moved through the morning tasks, but this afternoon my mood dipped a bit. I already miss the hills from the weekend. The quiet, the space. The familiar holiday come down, even though we were only gone five days. I opened our backdoor and tried to emulate the feeling, the flowing movement from in to out and out to in as the girls donned their gumboots and traipsed around the garden and came and went as they pleased. I know people say you can live a life connected to nature in the suburbs, and I believe to an extent this is absolutely true, but it is definitely not the same as life outside the city where you have to work with nature in order to survive. Here, if we ignore nature, nothing really happens that is drastic enough to impact our day to day life. There, the garden would swallow you in an instant if left untended.

Do you know what I mean?

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