Transition: Back To School

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This summer has felt never-ending in the best kind of way. Our days have been slow and close to home, we have spent most of our time in the garden, planting, weeding, raking; all meditative and focussed and dirty. I’m sure our vitamin d levels have been replenished and the amount of dirt ingested by the small ones has surely given immune systems a boost. I’ve visited the library – twice! – on my own and wandered the aisles without having to hush loud voices or balance a baby on my hip. We’ve been to the beach and read magazines and books in the middle of the day with our feet up (latest library haul pictured above). Six weeks of adult company every day has been glorious and indulgent.

The only problem now is that it is about to end.

School starts back next week. We’re loading up the washing machine looking for white socks and uniforms. We’re scratching our heads trying to remember the old routine, what time do we need to get up? Who needs lunches on what days? When does kinder go back? The thought of the morning rush makes me cringe, and annoying issues like how to fit a baby’s midday sleep in amongst inconveniently timed kinder and school pick ups are slowly twisting their way back into my brain.

I always struggle with transitions of this sort. I seem to ride along on such a high when things are easy and breezy, but the inevitable slump that follows change of any kind has become such a predictable pattern for me, noticed only with the passing of time. The challenge now is having a vague idea of what lies ahead and trying to figure out ways to combat it before it arrives, heavy and dull, in my lap. I can predict feelings of nostalgia and yearning when I think back even to this moment, sitting here with my feet up having a cup of peppermint tea, while the baby sleeps and the girls read on the couch, KB pottering away in the yard outside. The sun will still shine next week, but for the most part I’ll be alone again when demands of water or food or help tying a shoelace arise.

There are a few things I’m planning on doing this week to help us all get ready for the return to school and work. Firstly we are all making a concerted effort to get to bed earlier, and start to rise earlier once again. Over the last month it hasn’t been uncommon for KB and I to watch that illusive second episode in the evenings instead of getting some much needed sleep… many nights seeing us awake as the clock struck twelve. The girls have also been staying up late, playing musical beds, sleeping in their teepee or reading until all hours.

Secondly, meal prep! We’ve been lazily preparing whatever it is we feel like at each meal, having a bit too much take away and eating later than usual. That’s what summer is all about though right? Nevertheless it’s time to reign things in. I’ll be meal planning again as of this week and getting back into the routine of food prep on Sundays which is something I have actually missed doing over these warm summer weekends.

Our garden is looking pretty amazing (if I do say so) but the house has suffered from a bit of neglect while we’ve been out soaking up the sun (who am I kidding, there’s usually a fair amount of house-neglect going on summer or no). We’ll give her a once-over this week and try to start fresh next week. I’m always trying to get into the habit of doing a wash every day and folding washing as it comes off the racks, but I abhor washing so this is always a boring work in progress for me.

Aside from that I’m determined to cope with this transition with ease and grace, not like a moody teenager on house arrest.

A Morning Routine

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There’s a little obsession of mine that I may not have told you about. It’s reading about people’s morning routines. I love hearing how people start their day. I love the routine, the rhythm of it. The calmness, the self care. But there’s one thing I notice while I’m peering into someone’s life on YouTube, watching them pad around their white apartment barefoot, sipping on a hot cup of chai or staring wistfully out their window:

They don’t have children.

I still enjoy watching, and remembering a time when I had the freedom to do what I wanted to do in the mornings. But a lot of the talk about morning routines is unrealistic for a harried mother of three. There’s a rebellious part of me, though, that is determined to get my mornings back or, at the very least, figure out ways that I can incorporate something for me in the mornings, in amongst the ruckus. I know my day is better when I start the morning right.

It’s Saturday today, so things are naturally slower. Today, I think to myself, today is the day I will implement my new morning routine. I’m picturing lounging around on the couch, preparing an instagram worthy breakfast with at least five colours of the rainbow and the perfect combination of macro and micro nutrients, I’ll do some stretches and of course the girls will just be happy for me to do my own thing…

It begins: I have been trying really hard to drink a bottle of water with lemon or apple cider vinegar first thing, as I am not naturally hungry in the mornings and often don’t eat until after I have dropped the girls at school/kinder, at which point the baby is usually around my ankles needing some attention. So, I sat on the couch drinking my water. I got up three times to tend to the girls (get a drink, refill a porridge bowl, wipe up spilt milk). Then. I had a coffee (oh dear, that is meant to come later, not sneak in at number two on the routine list!). And then suddenly the day was moving on, the girls were ready to do something and there were blueberries squished into the cracks in the floorboards and the dog needed more water and… I forgot to eat breakfast. The morning was over.

Now it’s morning tea time and I’m tucking into the toast and smoothie pictured above, while the girls have their morning tea. Two out of three of them are dressed, and the telly is on… ahhh Saturday mornings!

I suppose my morning routine will start another day. I don’t think it will be like the ones I see on YouTube. But I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The Baby is 18 months old now, and she (mostly) sleeps through the night. I’m getting a bit more sleep and KB will be on school holidays as of next week. There’s a freshness to the air that only summer can bring, the cicadas are calling and the days are long.

I still have hope.

A Kind of Meditation

Moving slowly around the kitchen, buttering toast, filling cups of water. Flicking on the coffee machine. Quiet thoughts floating past my consciousness. Wiping faces, passing wooden spoons and saucepans to idle hands. Sweeping the floor, wiping the tiles on hands and knees because the mop broke. Feeding the dog, filling her bowl. Putting seeds out for the birds, pausing for a small moment in the sunshine. Taking off my shoes, walking barefoot on the boards. Picking flowers with the girls, placing jars with their arrangements around the house. Getting in the car, doing up the straps, pausing for a moment to breathe. Coming home again, unloading. Repeat, repeat, repeat throughout the day for various this and that; shops, school, kinder. Putting the kettle on, spooning tea into the pot. Standing for a moment to collect my thoughts. Moving again, pouring the tea, folding the clothes, reading a book to eager ears. Turning on the oven, chopping vegetables. Leaning over to pick things up off the floor, clearing space. Turning the oven off, serving up the food. Wiping faces, changing nappies, running a clear warm bath. Warming pyjamas by the heater, doing up buttons, encouraging little bodies into bed. Tucking in, giving kisses.

Re-boiling the kettle.

Sitting on the couch.

Barely moving.

Tired but content.

Turning Down the Volume

I heard excited squeals from the back yard this afternoon. I went outside to find Bird and the Pixie jumping up and down next to the four wattle trees we planted a couple of years ago along the fence, now in full flower. Last year they produced a few flowers here and there, but this has been their first proper show. I was taken aback by

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Over the Weekend

It’s Monday and we had the most glorious weekend. It started when I was presented with a hot coffee first thing and told to drink it in bed. I opened the curtain and let the light stream in and sat with Birdie curled up next to me and slowly sipped.

I spent five hours in the kitchen with my three little helpers yesterday afternoon, and I feel so organised for the week. I made tamari trail mix, raw trail mix, salted caramel bliss balls (with nuts for those eating at home), coconut cacao bliss balls (with seeds for those taking to work/school), sneaky veg muffins, sweet potato and lentil frittata, and a giant batch of kitchari (a traditional Ayurvedic recipe which is gentle on tummies and great to eat during the change of season into Autumn. I made enough for a family meal + five adult lunches). I was planning on making red kidney bean bolognese sauce as well for one of our dinners this week but we ran out of time, I will make that in the next few days. The girls donned their aprons (the baby joined us with a rusk and contributed with some squeals here and there) and helped to pour, mix, roll, chop and grate. Things are slower with them in the kitchen and I have to make a conscious effort to include them and allow things to go at a slower pace.

We went to a local native plant sale, met some friends and took turns minding children and wandering around. We bought some natives for our garden and even found time to plant a few.

On Saturday KB took all three girls out and I stayed at home for the whole morning cleaning the house, I think this was a major contributing factor to the calm flow that followed us throughout the remainder of our weekend. It took about four hours, but oh! What a difference it made to our attitudes and our time spent at home over the weekend, without falling over things and each other. Now we just have to try to maintain our sense of order, for a little while at least.

It’s weekends like these I like best, with time to think and potter and make. I hope you had a wonderful one too, wherever you may be.

Creating White Space In Life

2016-04-07 12.56.01It is so easy to get caught up in the daily grind. The washing, the meal prep, the entertainment, the shopping lists, the to-dos. Over the holidays I had a lot of time to consider my life and how each day is spent. When I had just one baby at home the days seemed long and sometimes, empty. I did whatever I wanted; the days were slow and fairly carefree, which has only been recognised in hindsight, of course.

Nowadays with school and kindergarten drop offs and pick ups, my days seem surprisingly chaotic and full, and not always in a good way. I’m finding it hard to adjust and I feel like a real wimp for saying so.

My goal this term is to try to create more down time, more white space. I have a tendency to book up every moment, to say yes to everything, to schedule things in. I’ve started writing “home” on some days on our calendar, to remind myself that in between the necessary driving and delivering of children, I (we) need time to breathe. It’s not just to make sure that dinner is on the table (my goal is to have it ready by 5pm in order to get baths and bedtimes happening at a reasonable hour for my Bird, who finds it very difficult to wind down in the evenings… some would say she’s a lot like her mama). It’s also because the poor baby isn’t in any sort of daily rhythm and she is now ten months old (today!). She has most of her sleeps in the car or the ergo or the pram and they are usually short lived, either due to necessity or just because she barely sleeps a wink (like her sister). Overnight she wakes three times at minimum and has done since she was born. It’s fair to say I’m tired, and I’m guessing she is too! Yes, there is yet another reason for us to take things down a notch.

The other day, with reckless abandon, we packed a picnic lunch, got in the car and went for a bushwalk (see picture). I am always shocked to get out there and realise this is where we live. The time spent in nature worked wonders for all of us and when we got back to the car I really felt regenerated. It was then that my decision was made to make a conscious effort to create more space simply to breathe.

Today after school drop off we came straight home. Baby P is having a sleep and miraculously it’s been 35 minutes so far (totally jinxed myself then and she literally started crying as I pressed full stop). The Pixie is home from kinder with a cough and is watching Octonauts. The breakfast dishes have been washed (thanks to a simple but super tip from my mum – to fill up the sink with hot soapy water first thing and dump all the dishes in there as you go) and today my one goal is to do a few loads of washing and hopefully write a few incredibly late thank you cards for gifts we received when Baby was born (OOPS!).

What are you all up to today? I hope you find some time for yourself, wherever you are.

Heading Into The Weekend

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I didn’t do any meal planning this week, I haven’t done a single load of washing, I haven’t folded any clothes or done anything particularly domestic (actually I did vacuum last night, only because I smashed a mug in the kitchen)… so you can imagine our state of affairs heading into the weekend! I thought better of coming home after school pick up today and instead went directly to my Aunty’s for cups of tea and chats about chooks and snakes (one spotted in her yard yesterday :/) and my other Aunty’s fabulous wedding last weekend (at THE PROM!) and sewing and foxes stealing birkenstocks from my sister’s back doorstep and other miscellany. My sister dropped past too and after I heard everyone’s delicious plans for dinner (while I had none) I came home and threw together a sweet potato frittata which is currently in the oven.

Each weekend seems to pass us by; we are determined this weekend to have a little plan in place so that we get a couple of things done around the house, but also have some time as a family, just enjoying each other.

What are you up to this weekend?

In The Mornings

Pixie looks me in the eyes and tells me that she is not going to cry when I leave her at kindergarten. I nod solemnly and agree, she’s a big girl now. She sits at the play dough table wielding a pair of scissors, showing me proudly how she can cut the dough. I’m going to go now, I say. Just one more minute, she asks. I nod, ok, another minute. I crouch beside her, marvelling at the dough and her cutting abilities. I squeeze some in between my fingers, it’s creamy coloured, warm and soft. Give me a kiss, I ask. And another one please. She turns her face towards me and kisses me each time I ask. I remind her I’ll be back after snack time and then, I walk away.

I put my hand across Bird’s narrow back and gently guide her towards the school gate. I carry her school bag across my shoulder, the baby perched on my left hip. She tells me she doesn’t want to go to school today, the day is too long, it’s too much time to be away from me. I guide her along the narrow path, chatting cheerfully about all the fun she will have. We place her school bag in her box, her reader in the tub, we get out her drink bottle.

I lean down to kiss her goodbye and her face crumples, she clings to me, her arms latched tightly around my neck. I place the baby on the floor, kneel down and wrap my arms around her. She feels fragile, small. My hands wrap around her bones and I pull her towards me. I whisper in her ear: Shhh, it’s ok, it’s going to be ok. She sobs and my cheek is wet with her tears.

The teacher coaxes her into sitting on the mat. I promise to wait at the door for a few minutes. I do. She looks up at me every once in a while, her face distorted, anguished. She is reluctant, she searches my face for something, some way out of this.

The teacher speaks and the children put up their hands, mine included. Her eyes are red and she is hunched over, the occasional post-cry sniff and shudder. She looks at me. I’m going to go now, I mouth to her. Her faces scrunches up, a sob spurts out of her small mouth. I blow her a kiss. I walk away.

I get home and take the baby out onto the back deck. I stand holding her at the edge, looking for birds, making twittering sounds. She responds with coos and ahhs as she peers out into the distance, everything new, everything wondrous. I take her to the bedroom and slowly peel off her knitted cardigan and replace it with her sleeping bag. I hold her and her soft bunny close and sing Here Is The Sea.

Here is the sea,

The wavy sea,

Here,

Is a boat,

And here,

Is,

Me.

And,

Little fish,

Way,

Down below,

Wiggle their tails,

And away,

They,

Go.

Her eyes close gently as I sway back and forth. One of the floorboards creaks beneath my feet as my weight shifts. I slowly lower her into the cot and she cries. I pat her chest and continue to sing. I walk away and stand in the kitchen listening to her cries. She’s calling for me. I go back into the bedroom and pick her up, holding her close, my cheek against hers and I sing and I sway. This time, once her eyes close I continue to sing for a few minutes, swaying gently to the rhythms of my soft melody, looking at her eyes rolling beneath her eyelids, breathing her in, rubbing my lips against the downy softness of her hair.

I lower her into the cot and place a blanket over her. I walk away.

In the kitchen I touch my palm to the red kettle on our stovetop. It’s warm. There is ground coffee scattered on the bench, bowls of half eaten porridge, school notices, milk, vitamin c. Memories of the morning rush.

I reboil the kettle and move slowly through the ritual of making a pot of tea. Spooning tea leaves into my silver pot. Waiting for the whistle of the kettle. Pouring steaming water and watching the leaves swirl through the rush of water. Placing the lid on the teapot. Pouring milk into a small jug. Gathering a teacup, a strainer, a board to place it all on.

I carry the tea over to a small teak coffee table and place the board down first. The little table belonged to my Nana, I try to take good care of it.

I sit down in an armchair made by my Poppa to pour myself a cup. The song mills around in my head, my three daughters the little fish, me in the boat watching as they wiggle their tails and swim away.

Only some days it feels as though we aren’t quite ready to be apart.

comings and goings

Processed with VSCO with t1 presetAs we have travelled back and forth between the city and the beach there has been a lot of time for pondering and dreaming: the very best part about January, don’t you think? Our plans for 2016 are now down in black and white and now we simply have to put them to action to make them real.

This year we bought ourselves a big yearly calendar for our wall so we can plot out our ideas and activities.

It’s a big year for all of us, with my little Bird starting school and the Pixie beginning her kindergarten years. I imagine there will be tears and nostalgia as we immerse ourselves in our new rhythm come February, but hopefully good things are coming too. It’s important for us to maintain a sense of calm and purpose when starting new things, I think.

During our comings and goings we’ve been…

// listening to Open Season by the High Highs

// reading My Darling Lemon Thyme

// watching The True Cost… again…

// eating brown rice bowls, roast veggies, salads, kim chi, hommus and nuts… basically anything tasty and real that can easily be thrown together come 5pm

Looking forward I am slightly nervous about KB heading back to work in a couple of weeks but the good news is Term 1 is only eight weeks long, I’m sure I can survive that…!? I’m trying not to think about it too much, for now, and just hanging happily onto these long summer days with my family.

new moon dreaming

DSC02664It’s a new year, new time, new day, new you.

Today is also a new moon so it seems like the perfect time to talk about goals and aspirations and visions for this year that is 2016.

I got all inspired in December after stumbling across Sophie’s Thirty Goals and got out a pen and my notebook to write my own. I wouldn’t usually write goals at the beginning of the year, I tend to write resolutions, but I liked the way Sophie’s list included goals that were more a way of life than a ‘to do’. So here are my thirty things. I don’t expect to achieve them all but they will serve as a little reminder of my direction, ideals, and priorities for 2016…

+ Play more

+ Make handmade gifts

+ Simplify wardobe

+ Write more

+ Read more

+ Bring yoga/meditation back into my routine

+ Go on a hike

+ Eat more veg

+ Grow more veg

+ Plan a family holiday

+ Get our home ready to sell

+ Exercise minimum twice a week

+ Make ethical purchases

+ Finish crochet blanket

+ Spend more time outdoors

+ Use car less

+ Simplify my email inbox

+ Do more good

+ Think before speaking (!)

+ Bake bread

+ Get creative with breakfasts

+ Learn something new

+ Sew clothing for myself and girls

+ Drink less coffee (really?)

+ Spend less time on my phone

+ Don’t be scared to say no… or yes

+ Continue to live seasonally

+ Work on our garden

+ Write letters

+ Save some money

What do you want to achieve this year?

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