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.

the CD and the atlas: lessons learned in the lead up to Christmas

My Grandpa lives by the sea. We went to visit yesterday and spent a few hours with him, eating sandwiches and drinking coffee brewed on his camp stove in the afternoon sun.

He’s in the process of moving house and let me choose some of his books to take home. One is an old atlas with the inscription: “To Mary with love from Graeme Xmas 1960.” A message from my Grandpa to my Grandmother.

We have been looking through its softly worn pages today. In the lead up to Christmas while my heart is  beating faster and faster with increasing overwhelm, I can’t help but reflect on this little gift with wonderment. Imagine, opening up a present from your partner on Christmas morning to find a lovely book with a short message in the front. I like to think it was wrapped brown paper, and perhaps tied with white string. It is this kind of simplicity and thoughtfulness that I yearn for in my every day life. We are overcome with monstrous loud flashy messages and it is easy forget that we don’t need to buy each other and our children bigger and better things in order for them to be happy and healthy and cherished and loved.

At birthdays and Christmas I stick to this motto from Jodi Wilson:

something I want, something I need

something to wear, something to read

Even still it is easy to get distracted and carried away and panicky and compare-y. We have to stop doing this.

Gramps also offered me some CDs of classical music. “Ok,” I said, “but can I have one that isn’t frantic. One that I could listen to on a Sunday afternoon. Something calming. No violins?”

“Hmm. Well that isn’t how I approach music at all.” he replied.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, I walk over to my CDs. I think of one I’d like to listen to. I put it on, then I sit down on the couch and I listen to it. That is how to engage with a piece of music. If it’s on in the background it might as well be anything.”

“Ok. But what if you’re me and you’ve got three screaming children and you have to cook dinner and fold the washing and feed the dog and it’s 1pm and you want to put your pyjamas on and you’re not really thinking about developing a relationship with a piece of music but you would like something to listen to… in the background?”

He stared at me for a moment, laughed, then a few minutes later handed me this, and we listened to it in the car on the way home.

The CD and the atlas. I’ve been thinking about them both since yesterday. The purity and the restraint and the slow and the time. I am so rushed. Even when I try to slow down, there are so many external things wanting my attention. Children, animals, schedules imposed on me and so many rules. Rules! So many!

It’s been a timely and gentle reminder. Now when I look at my Christmas list, I am not looking at things to add, but places I can pare down, things that I can make, things that I can replicate to create a bit of flow, areas that I was perhaps getting a little carried away (do the girls really need another story CD? What will really make them happy on Christmas morning?) I think it’s important to remember that the presents we buy and/or make for our kids are just the beginning for most families on Christmas Day. For many, including us, there will be a number of shared meals that day, and many thoughtful gifts and presents to open. To keep it simple and quiet in the morning at home, we are actually doing our children a favour and allowing them to enjoy the excitement ahead.

Will you be keeping things slow and quiet this Christmas morning?

buy nothing new christmas // the first of a new series

A few years ago, in the spirit that I like to do most things in – completely last minute – I decided I was going to have a Buy Nothing New Christmas. There seemed to be a lot of chit chat going on in the blogosphere about having periods of buying nothing new, and nothing motivates me more than a challenge! So I dove in head first and have to say it was such a satisfying experience that I have *almost* done it every Christmas since. In fact, I was so motivated, my Buy Nothing New challenge continued for the first six months of 2011!

It made me realise not only how much we consume needlessly in our daily lives, but how much we can do without, and more to the point, how much great stuff is circulating the planet as rubbish, because we are constantly, obsessively, compulsively replacing things that are still in perfect condition. It truly is a sad state of affairs.

I thought it might be fun to share some of my bookmarked (now who’s old fashioned?!) ideas with you over the coming weeks, so if you are thinking of having your own Buy Nothing New Christmas, there will be plenty of creative ideas here. Of course the other option is to buy presents at an op shop or an online vintage marketplace like etsy so that you are giving unwanted items a new life, rather than supporting the business of waste.

If you think this is all a load of hoo-ha, check out this video and it might give you a new perspective. On a larger scale, and if you have a bit more time, I love, love, love this movie. Maybe you could chow down with a bowl of homemade popcorn and watch it tonight? Yes, do it! Watch it!

Now to get us going, here are some wrapping and gift presentation ideas:

// Gift bag tutorial: Petite Purls

// Cute placard idea: Flax and Twine

// Paper globes to decorate presents: Tiny Happy

// Simple gift tags: A Little Hut

// Make your pressies extra cute with these free printable moustaches! : Marie Claire

I have loads more in my bookmarks and also on my christmas pinterest board, but I think five is a respectable number. Over the coming posts I will share gift ideas for babies, kids, girls, boys, ladies, gents and so on.

What do you think? Are you feeling motivated? Do you think you can do your bit to slow down our crazy consumption obsession this year?