Handmade Home

May 29, 2013 § 1 Comment

I’ve been feeling so constricted and cluttered at home recently… but I have decided to focus on the positives. With my children attending a Steiner school and my own craft interests, we have lots of beautiful handmade items decorating our home.

Handmade is special because it brings a certain energy into the home; a softness that counter acts the hard edges and technology of today. In the case of many Steiner inspired crafts, a sense of beauty and purity of colour that reflects the truths of the universe and support the wholistic development of the child.

Here are a few scenes from my handmade home:

hand dyed spiral doona covers

hand dyed spiral doona covers

silk baby blanket dyed by Sara Shorter of willow & moo.

silk baby blanket dyed by Sara Shorter of willow & moo.

soft dolls, made by Carla de Jong (left) and myself.

soft dolls, made by Carla de Jong (left) and myself.

felt dragon. Made for my boys.. now played with by the girls.

felt dragon. Made for my boys.. now played with by the girls.

princess painting. By Lily Heartman (age 5).

princess painting. By Lily Heartman (age 5).

wood and felt gnome set. Truly all-purpose toys!

wood and felt gnome set. Truly all-purpose toys!

gnome fleece picture by Laura Steele.

gnome fleece picture by Laura Steele.

lantern collection  - one made each year at school by each child.

lantern collection – one made each year at school by each child.

'Tree of Life', felt. One of my bigger projects.

‘Tree of Life’, felt. One of my bigger projects.

hand dipped candles, made by the boys at school.

hand dipped candles, made by the boys at school.














May 24, 2013 § 3 Comments

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“I’ve come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the home. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a parent, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or dehumanized.” – Haim G. Ginott

Writing  ‘Chaos and Recovery‘ was my low point. In the days after that post, I cringed to think at how I had totally de-mystified myself. Ironically, that post has had the most views on this blog so far! Now I am glad I wrote it, as it nudged me into a period of self reflection, and then into action.

I came across the quote above on Facebook. Oh, how deeply (and a bit painfully) it resonated with me. Taking a step back, and thinking about life in general terms, I realised how everything at home begins and ends with me.

The biggest issue I faced was lack of energy and motivation. I’ve begun to think of myself as a high-performance athlete, what with five children including a baby, running a household of seven, co-ordinating a playgroup, editing a magazine, and my own on-the-side creative business.

I have made a few little changes in my life. Enough that now a few weeks later, I feel I am gathering the threads of life back into my hand.

First, I Quit Sugar.  I’ve been reading Sarah Wilson’s blog and cookbook of the same name for a while, and finally decided to try it. I feel better generally, and have more energy. I’m not militant about it (I have been that way in the past about food), but I am mostly there.

Second, I have made friends with routine. In the past, routines have been something to rebel against. I’ve never wanted to be predictable. But now, with a family and so much to do, routines provide a structure that actually gives me freedom. Now that I have better energy levels, I am able to do a tidying/cleaning/cooking routine each night that keeps the house running. Those jobs don’t bleed into the entire day.

Thirdly, and most importantly, ME. If I affect the mood of the family, the effectiveness of the household and the emotional health of the children, then it is my cup that needs to be filled first. This idea is not new to me. I think I have known it ever since I first became a mother. But a session of life coaching with one of my good friends brought it into the spotlight once again. I have to be thriving…. and for me that means lots of time alone.

The interesting thing is, that after a few weeks of this smoothly functioning, more organised and happier way, things are shifting in the bigger picture of life. After feeling we have been treading water for so long, both Sol and I are feeling ready to begin moving again, giving energy to our goals and dreams.

Mother’s Day #2

May 16, 2013 § Leave a comment




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I was so excited to get a Kobo for Mother’s Day from my own family! William, our resident technological genius, chose it. With my recent overwhelm regarding my physical surroundings, something that reduces clutter is a great idea for me. I find it hard to justify spending money on books, unless I know for sure they will be repeatedly read, so this little gadget is a win!

But it was the handmade gifts that touched my heart. The thought of my nine year old Samuel, sitting at school diligently sewing all those little crosses, makes me melt inside.  ‘To Mumzes’ – so unique, so Samuel.

Lily was so excited to present me with her handmade soaps and heart, and of course a gorgeous card that she drew. I keep all her drawing lately, with dreams of turning them into embroidered pictures.

Mother’s Day isn’t for me.

It is for the children.

For the older ones: teaching them to appreciating their mother, and women generally. It begins with this day; somehow I transform from just ‘Mum’ to a person whose turn it is to receive. And the younger ones love preparing gifts and cards to give. I love sharing in their excitement.

One of my motherhood goals this year is to really encourage independence. When I was growing up, we knew a family with six children. We spent many holidays with them, camping, bushwalking, canoeing… generally all the adventurous things that my single mother would/could not have attempted on her own. But as I grew up, what I admired most about this family was the kids: all self reliant, independent, motivated kids. They all had jobs as soon as they could, even unofficial ones before that. They pooled their money when some of them were still teenagers and bought a block of land. Now they are spread around the world, living their own lives.

And when I had my first baby, those parents became my role models, and still are (since the kids grew up, the parents have literally built their own house (in their 60’s), done all the huge weeks-long bushwalks in Australia, and travelled the world by container ship).

So when I see how my children don’t need me, in big ways as well as small, I feel I am doing a good job.

Boys on the bus to school? All ok.

Lily going to ballet with someone else, sleeping over at her Nana’s for a few days alone (at age 6)? Easy.

Kids all ok with the Grandma’s for a month while I live in hospital with Robin? Check.

William off to NZ for three weeks with his class at age 13? Yep.

It is hard sometimes to let them fly. But as I have always thought: motherhood, for me, is mostly an endless line of promptings to let go.

Mother’s Day #1

May 11, 2013 § Leave a comment

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A few weeks ago I took my mum to see Thank God it’s on Stage – the stage version of TGIF from ABC radio’s Drive program with Richard Glover.

Mum and I have been long-time fans of this show and have talked about going for years. Last year I bought her tickets as a surprise, but a few days before the show Robin was admitted to hospital and we did not go. It was a great night and I took this photo of us on the way in to the theatre.

My mum and I have been spending lots of time together recently. Partly because we want Robin to get to know her better so she can babysit him! But also because we just like spending time together. Since Robing has been ill I sometimes go and spend the night at her house, baby in tow. We have a nice meal and watch a DVD together. I have a long shower in her amazing shower and she does all the cleaning up and makes a bed for me. Since I haven’t been able to have a long time away from Robin, it is the next best thing to a proper break from ‘mothering’.

When we were in hospital with Robin, my mum simply moved in to my house for a while and took over everything. Sol’s mum was an integral part of this support system too, helping out as much as she could. Between them the two grandma’s had it covered. Although I missed my other children (and a normal life) desperately, it was such a relief knowing that the other kids were with people they knew and loved, leaving Sol and I to support each other and Robin.

My mum has been there for two of my births now… supporting the kids and me. I’ve given birth on her lounge room floor. I’ve lived with her during the pregnancies/births of two of my children. When I have been lazing in bed with my newborns, she makes me get up and have a shower while she changes the sheets. She is a big believer in the comfort of clean bed sheets.

She is an amazing woman. Defying doctors to conceive me. Managing a family with a paraplegic husband and intellectually disabled son. Giving me a rich childhood despite the grief of a lost husband and three kids, all with various and challenging ways of coping with the loss of their Dad. One day I hope to write her story in more detail. But for now, I hope she enjoys this day with her children and grandchildren around her.

Two new felt pictures

May 7, 2013 § Leave a comment

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I get so many inspired ideas for crafty creations, but time allows for a very slow realisation of these ideas. Over the last four weeks I have managed to sew these two felt pictures that have been sitting in my mind for a while.

I used to do these bird pictures under a glass frame, but I am loving the 3D quality that the embroidery hoop brings. And I am interested to see if they appeal to the public when I debut them at the Lorien Novalis market this coming weekend.





The Importance of Vision

May 1, 2013 § Leave a comment

Recently, my hubby and I went for some marriage counselling. It was a one-off session, with a counsellor who had not met us before.

When hearing about our lives and challenges of the past 18 months; new baby, seriously ill baby, five children, the financial pressure all this entails, she kind of suggested that we are burnt out. Exhausted.

Which we probably are. Definitely exhausted, at least.

But when we discussed the activities that Sol or I do on top of all of this – me; editing the Sydney home birth magazine, trying to run a crafty business and working one day a week running a Playgroup – and Sol; a bit of massage or theta healing work on the side or music gigs and song development and practice…. well, she implied that we should suspend these activities to give ourselves a break.

On the surface this seems to be very sage advice. I totally agree that sometimes in life we just need to ‘tread water’ for a while. There are cycles and timing to everything.

However one thing Sol and I agree on is that to suspend these creative activities is not the right move for us, for a few reasons. Practically: we are pushing 40. We had kids before careers. If we don’t sow the seeds for our desired careers now, maybe they won’t happen. Five kids, including a baby. It’s not really going to get much easier for quite a while, is it? May as well go for it as much as we can now.

Financially: we need to evolve in this way as the family grows. The only way we know how to do this is to go after what we love to do, and develop that. We are both creative people. It was never going to be a mainstream career for Sol, that is part of what I love about him. It’s first things first: creating happiness (and wealth will follow).

On a deeper level, it is about vision. And purpose. Sol and I need the vision of the big picture. We need to be in touch with our individual, God-given purpose. Otherwise, what is the point? If we were to stop the activities we love, stop growing and challenging ourselves, we would lose hope. As stressful as all the time juggling, sleep deprivation, and chaos at home can be, it is worth it when Sol walks through the door on a high from his successful gig. Or when I hold the first magazine in my hands that I have brought together, finally thinking of myself as a ‘writer’.

The ‘vision’ gives us the framework for our lives. It is the way we strive to live now.

Where Am I?

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