Running the Xmas Gauntlet

Processed with VSCO with a7 presetIt’s the 11th of December and, up until Friday night, I had done absolutely nothing (zip, zilch) to prepare for Christmas. Friday night I went to bed at 7.30pm with a cup of herbal tea, a piece of dark chocolate and my laptop, and finally ordered some Christmas presents. For children, my first stop for gifts is always here. For the girls I like to stick to the little poem: something I want, something I need, something to wear, something to read. It helps to keep things simple and, for me, takes away some of the overwhelm and decision making.

I like to make most of our gifts for extended family and my niece (and this year, my new nephew!) and (if you’re family, stop reading here!) this year I’m trying my hand at these for adults and my usual combo of these and these and perhaps these for kids. Our family have really downsized our present regime over the past few years and now just give small token gifts to show our love and appreciation. My only issue with the adult pressie that I want to make is that I can’t find pine resin here in Australia, and I also don’t know if it is sustainable even if I were to find it… if anyone knows what I’m talking about and has any tips, please email me or comment below! I’m planning on making a little gift set of perhaps two or three for each couple/adult in the fam, just as a token, and because I’m sick of my usual gift of granola!

Yesterday we finally got a tree so I’m feeling like we are back on track. I also sewed a pair of shorts, finished a geranium dress for a friend and tidied my sewing stuff. I just have a few more birdie said orders to get through before I can close up shop for Christmas.

Christmas can be such an overwhelming time. I have friends who feel so much pressure to make things and be all homemade and festive, but they work outside the home and have children and the juggle is stressful. I have friends who spend a lot of money on gifts and give to a lot of people. We all have our own challenges and stressors this time of year. For me, it has been a slowly evolving thing: building traditions within my own family unit, figuring out what works best for us, what we can afford, what we enjoy, what we are and aren’t prepared to do. Figuring out what Christmas means to us, as a non-religious, anti-consumerist family. What is left for us here if we don’t believe in God (in the Christian sense) and we are worried by consumerism!?

For us, it’s simple: family. Time to share and enjoy each other. Time to celebrate giving small and meaningful gifts, and teaching our children about people who are less fortunate than us. A girlfriend of mine has been such a role model for me in this area. Every year she gets her children to choose and wrap and deliver a present to someone in need (whether it is for a shopping centre Christmas tree or other charity). She’s done it with her children well before they would have understood what they were doing, and now it’s so ingrained in them it is something they naturally think about and have empathy for.

I’m not always good at keeping things simple, or sticking to what (I think) we believe in at this time of year. I get stressed and run from here to there. I get caught up with the Jones’s. I do! But I try to patiently bring myself back to my own values and ideals. I guess this happens a lot in life generally, not just at Christmas.

I have more to say on this topic but this will do for today. I’m sitting in our front yard in the shade of the trees while the girls play with dirt and cockatoo feathers. I’m needed to assist with a cup of gum leaf tea so I had better get back to it. I hope all your Christmas plans are going well, if you choose to celebrate it!

de ja vu

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This afternoon we arrived home from the beach, once again, for the final time this month. We’ve spent the last four days back on the coast, pretending that holidays last for ever and ever and that we don’t have any responsibilities or plans or commitments or anything else to do other than wander to the beach each morning via our favourite little coastal coffee van and play with the girls on their scooters and eat sandwiches and grapefruits and in the evenings: icecream.

But as we all know well enough, holidays come to an end. And here we are. At home. Again. Feeling the quiet rumble of anxiety in the pit of my stomach, all those icky things-coming-to-an-end type feels. KB is working the next couple of days, doing some training before the school term begins again; we will tag team this week so that I can get some work done too.

Since arriving home late this afternoon we’ve checked on our plants (yet another fern has come to a dismal end under my amateur care), picked some snowpeas, cooked some beetroot, roasted all our remaining veg from the week (pumpkin, capsicum – red and yellow, carrots, and garlic) jumbled together with cheese, leftover rice and sun dried tomatoes for an easy summer dinner, made bliss balls for snacks tomorrow, mixed some oats and chia seeds together with almond milk for breakky, milled some brown rice and put it aside to soak overnight for baby, done our veg box order for this week, paid a bill and hung out the washing. After dinner we played on the back deck as the sun went down.

Tomorrow the new week will begin, and I’m determined to stay cool and not get frazzled with the daily grind of washing, mess, toys, meals, nappies. I’m going to keep reminding myself of my goals this year. (One of which I have already knocked off yesterday by doing an 8km hike with Peachy babe on my back and KB by my side – first long walk since she was born. Yes, yeah, hooray, fist pump! Officially addicted to kicking goals! Yippee! Etc.)

It’s going to be a hot one here. Stay cool (physically, metaphorically, emotionally), wherever you are.

P.S. Have you read this blog? It’s just the sort of fun reading I like to do when I’m getting all motivated and outdoorsy and loving summer. You might like it too.

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.

homecoming

2015-12-27 15.35.18It’s always a strange thing, walking into your house after you’ve been away. Everything is still. When we arrived home from the beach a few days ago there was some folded washing on the table and a discarded toy near a doorway; quiet remnants of us. It’s especially strange coming home after Christmas when there are new things in the house. These days it is mainly new toys that greet us; Bird spent a good 45 minutes on her top bunk absorbed with new books and little knick knacks while I made an attempt at pulling dinner together out of the things we brought home (sweet potato chips, almonds, avocado, sliced cucumbers, a bowl each of rice with butter and garlic, and some fruit: slightly strange mix but surprisingly satisfying).

A couple of days later some of the washing has been done, some of the clothes unpacked and a small sense of rhythm has returned to our days. We plan to get some things done around the house this week and head back to the coast next week to make the most of the warmer weather.

This morning I stayed home while the others went to the park, and did some writing and other admin for a new project I have been lucky enough to be hired for. It’s a short term community consultation project for a not-for-profit which I can do from home and on weekends – I can’t actually believe my luck!

Other than that we spent a good couple of hours soaking up some sunshine and drinking coffee with our notebooks, dreaming up some goals and plans for 2016. I feel like we’ve turned to a new page, we’ve been down in the lovely, intense and deep trenches of pregnancy, birth and babies for over six years, and now we are slowly emerging, all five of us, new and evolved and ready for the next phase of our lives. I can feel it in my bones, in the way I lift my face towards the light and see the possibilities ahead.

Tomorrow, on the new moon, I’m going to share some of my goals for this year. What about you, do you have any ideas for this new and fresh year? What inspirations are you chasing?

summer’s day

It’s 42ºC outside.

And raining.

The energy here is heightened.

After a day of swimming lessons and errands and sewing and haircuts and cold drip coffee.

We are slowly winding into the night.

Hoping for a breath of cool air.

But not expecting.

Little teeth are being washed.

Smooth bodies off to bed.

With damp face washers to rub on hot tummies.

Beads of sweat form on a baby’s brow.

As she drinks and drinks and drifts towards sleep.

Tomorrow the sun will continue to beat.

Down as we hide and shelter and wade through the thickness in the air.

Attempting to grab on, to harness its energy.

To carry us through another Summer’s day.

in the thick of it

We are in the midst of a heat wave here, apparently the hottest temperatures ever for us in March, since temperatures began being recorded in the 1800s. I used to enjoy the heat, and look forward to summer, but since having babies, I’m not so much of a fan. Gone are the days that we could chuck a towel on the backseat and a dog in the boot and head down to the beach to soak up what the ocean, sun and earth had to offer. Well, we can, but only at sun-safe times of day and with a hell of a lot more preparation. And more towels. And beach paraphernalia.

On the radio this morning the presenter said to the weatherman: “There are a lot of sleep deprived, hot and grumpy people out there this morning.” The weatherman’s response was “Yes, but it’s probably those people who will be the first to complain as soon as the cold weather hits.” Hmmm. He probably has a point. I for one though, cannot wait for the cold weather. My autumnal post a few weeks ago, written in the few cool morning hours before the heat hit again seems like a cruel joke in the face of this weather. 

So here we are, in the thick of it, drinking black coffee to see if it’s soy that the pixie has an aversion to in my breastmilk, trying to think of things to eat for meals that do not require us to turn on the oven or the stove, taking cool baths and dipping our feet in the paddling pool. Pushing Pixie’s bassinet around to different corners of the house trying to find a cooler spot in the hope she might sleep a wink so that I can sleep a wink. Drinking a bit more coffee. Explaining to Birdie why we can’t go to the park. Having nightmares about our electricity bill. I don’t think we have ever used our air conditioner as much as we have the last month and I dread to think how much each cool minute is costing us.

Trying to ride out the hot, hot, hot weather in any way we can.

So. Is this insanely hot summer weather in autumn going to be a thing of our future? Or is this just a fluke slash joke?

floating

Shedding my city layers.
Feeling them peel off and wash away.
The fast walking, fast thinking, fast moving.20130106-200411.jpgWalking slowly, eating slowly.
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Contemplating things.
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Enjoying the sun and the wind and good company.
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on the first of the first

There was a couple walking along with a little girl and a loaf of bread. The man was earthy looking. Long shorts, brown toes, an easy walk. The woman was beautifully rounded and classic. Soft dark hair slung back. Skipping twice to their every step was a little brown button of a girl, her clear skin tinged by the golden summer sun. The couple walked slowly, their loaf of bread swinging in the soft weathered hands of the man. They stopped along the path, next to my car where I was breastfeeding. The woman smelled a flower and motioned to the girl who, standing tiptoed, grasped the flower with both hands and breathed it in before skipping away. The three walked hand in hand.

This was amidst a busy beach town street, bustling with city folk sporting pink blistered skin, more accustomed to skinny white tubes of fluorescent light than the warm rays of the sun. I watched them walk by, embodying everything I hope for and think about when I imagine a summer holiday. They looked truly happy and well rested. Content in each other’s company and the blue sky and their loaf of bread. While other people were wandering around, slower than normal but still with a big city edge to their gait, they smiled and strolled on, seemingly oblivious to anything but each other and the sun shining on their backs.

They reminded me how lucky we are to be on summer holidays. To have a place to stay away from our busy lives and the big smoke. To be together with extended family. To hold my children in my arms and enjoy their smiles and laughter and chubby legs. Not to worry about anything much.

How lovely to be in such a state of summery bliss. Even though I have to remind myself to check in and appreciate it every now and then.

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mid week

:: the sun has been shining

:: we got a new-old pram that you need a licence to steer

:: my feet have red stains on them from my summer sandals

:: my little chick likes to sleep with her left arm out of her swaddle

:: my big chick has a runny nose

:: I’m very tired, but very excellent

:: I ate the remainder of the liquorice allsorts overnight

:: I didn’t get up to clean my teeth

:: I got a present in the mail today (thank you so much Meg xo)

:: Everyone in the house is asleep but me