Saturday, July 25, 2009

can u tell it's winter here?

And we've been indoors too long. If we were plants we'd be wilting from lack of fresh air and sunshine. And he's been unwell again. And I've been so tied up in keeping him comfortable and myself sane. All I can say is thank God for my projects. An exhibition to plan for next year gives me loads of time to puddle along and yet keep my passion alive. 'Slow' food, clothing and indeed living seems to be not just a sentiment but it's quickly become my reality. The old adage that one is only as fast as the slowest member in the team is apt in my case.

I love textiles. Duh, that's a no brainer. I love texture. I love organic fibres. I love memory cloth. Quilts, peggy square blankets, handknits, doileys and embroidered cloths, barkcloth from the South Pacific, ('hiapo' Niue, 'siapo' Samoa, 'ngatu' in Tonga and mistakenly called 'tapa' in NZ). I love cloth that tells a story. Whether its been made for a purpose like a table cloth or burial cloth, or as a decorative piece. Cloth does it for me. Not the commercial ones. God no! But the one's that bear the hand of the maker.

I've been dyeing, stitching, making. I received a gift from my mum. She stitched vintage cloths and buttons and doodads onto a Trade Aid bag for me, her favourite girl in the whole world.

Cleo and I have been chugging along working out together like textiles girls do. No, not exercise. Just making, inspiring, cheering and imbibing on the great atmosphere that always results when we join forces. I have other women in my sphere now who also love making things. Some complex, some simple but it's all making and it's all valid. Art school tried to make me believe otherwise for a time and I thank them graciously for showing me how NOT to be encouraging and inspiring. That was a lesson well learned.

My making has been squeezed in the gaps between caring for a sick infant, miserable winter weather, school holidays, and life in general. But I need to do this.

There's a loveliness about working with my hands on cloth. I ponder that women once did it out of necessity whereas I do it because I want too.

Hand worked has always been women's currency. Often in societies where women had no currency (meaning assets and money), their cloth was their currency, their assets, something that they had personal power over.

Think glory boxes and how girls used to fill them with embroidered cloths for their lives as wives one day. Think native American women and other indigenous cultures and their elaborate clothing and homewares.

And as I sit amidst the chaos and thrum that is my family, home and life ... I am happiest when my handiwork is in my lap and my fingers are busy and my heart is being poured into my latest project.

There's no photos of my recent work because I'm having anxiety about using the new SLR camera I got, lol. And I don't want to use my old camera because it just doesn't measure up. So instead, I leave you with some amazing links to other textile sights and don't forget to check their blog link lists out as well. This is where I go when I can go nowhere else, Knuckles and I peruse blogland.

This vintage suitcase filled with organically dyed skeins of wool just sets me buzzing. The maker uses madder root, marigolds, red/yellow onion skins amongst other botanics to get her colours. Now if I could find a supplier that produced yarn that looked like that, our bank balance would be in serious trouble and I would have to look at learning to knit more than just hats and scarves. I just need a few more lifetimes so I can play more. Stuff it, I'll just dye my own! What am I talking about. Go see her etsy shop which is sold out but worthy of viewing. I love her recycled vintage bags with old lace, etc. And to her blog Forest Bound (click to follow link).

Without a doubt, one of my favourite all time blogs belongs to Amanda Soule (click to follow link to Soulemama). She has authored two books to date on homemaking. She unschools her children (nature walks, play, garden, art), makes so much cool stuff like homewares (quilts, knits, sews), lives with great conviction and just inspires me during my 'at home' time as a parent. The above photo sets my heart thumping and wanting to scramble about and set up yet another sewing station. She lives in a great house full of handmade stuff, is honest about her bad days, has zillions of giveaways that we can enter from her sponsors (so she's found a way to create an income from her blog, clever girl) and has so much eye candy just in the photos alone. She recently organised a huge craft appeal and thousands of hats have gone to a country in need. I have gone through her complete archives during some of my not-so-good days. It's a great read if you want to find a different way of getting through the day as an at-home mum and injecting some quality in there. ;)

The scarf I am (endlessly) knitting for Rich came from Brooklyn Tweed's blog. He's an amazing knitter, his blog is an interesting read and I love using this silk/merino/alpaca blend Noro yarn. What a luxury ... of course Rich will be an old man by the time I finish the single rib 6 foot plus long scarf. And now Marcus wants one too. ;) Go check him out yarnsters.

Make some nifty slippers from an old wool blanket. Tutorial at Sew Green. Check out this site, so many wonderful links to other crafty sites. I want to try my hand at spinning (with a drop spindle thingee) and there's a tutorial on how to make one from a CD.

The Worsted Witch is also worthy of a mention. She points the way to great green and crafty blogs. I tried to find a picture but couldn't really because she features other folks work including the slippers above, the case of natural dyed wool and the urban gardening one below plus a great photo and link to handspun newspaper yarn, gorgeous knits, etc. But her sideline bloglist roll is incredible. Definitely worth checking out all the 'green' home industry folk out on her blog that are making and SELLING. I know Rich would love me to make some money. I think I am hopeless at entrepreneurial stuff but reading about these different homebased businesses with the same ethos as me is inspiring. Who knows.

And finally a bit of an education for me. See I desire to grow my own food someday soon. I love the River Cottage series, love the Outdoor Gourmet series on the food channel, the Outback Cafe and Kai Ora, a New Zealand series with great cuisine. I just like the idea of growing things and eating them. I know where they came from. They are fresh fresh fresh. And its fun. I just want my own plot of land first. I've stumbled across this blog, having read a mention in one of the above blogs and can't wait for a spare hour and a hot drink to peruse on the next wet day.

She says "As for the urban farmer in me, I’ve been cultivating the city for over ten years now, and my neighbors still think I’m crazy. It all started with a few chickens, then some bees, until I had a full-blown farm near downtown Oakland. My memoir about this farm was publishing by the Penguin Press June 11, 2009, and is available at most bookstores." Click here: Urban Farmer to follow link through to The Ghost Town Farm blog.

Enjoy friends. Lovely to be here again. If you know of other blogs and sites I might enjoy, leave me the links in the comments section below.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

totally going with it ...

I wrote this last Wednesday. I have been meaning to get acquainted with new camera (slightly more complicated than last point-n-click but have no new energy to go with that desire. I just can't get past feeling tired ALL THE TIME. The world refuses to slow down so I have slowed down out of necessity, for sanity's sake, am drawing breath and taking some well needed space. All my projects are on hold, just keeping up with the kids and getting sleep seem to be all I can manage. I am well, so no need to worry. Just learning my new rhythms. :)

I got up about ten am with the baby. The boys happily munching and watching morning cartoons. I dressed the baby adorably, moisturised his lovely skin and stood back adoring my clean beaming baby. We had a lovely day of outings and invitations ahead of us. I organised the house, sorted out the big boys and wham! suddenly I was was in my room, shutting curtains and lying very very still. Sleep was the only thing I suddenly wanted.

I tried to play cards with the kids. Tried to prop the baby alongside me. Tried to think about lovely new photos on my camera that are just waiting to be taken. Imagined taking tea with friends and talking about important things like homeschooling and making stuff for our kids and life. Imagined my friend Chris who I haven't seen for ages and is feeling very isolated. But in vain.

Dumb dumb migraine stole a day of my life. Stole my boys a day out with their friends. It's gutting as I had friends waiting to see us after our weeks of isolation with flu. Works waiting to be admired and perused and 'please Rachelle can you bring your camera to document our creations'. Argh! And my poor kids, they are all healthy. They are dying to get out and play and live again.

On the upside (read the title again), I am ensconced on my bed with laptop after a sleep and a cup of tea and ginger kisses, the blankets are warm and the boys are happily keeping their baby occupied in the next room. I get visits from my children who inquire if I need anything and asking what to do with Knuckles now. I get phone calls as people read my demise on Facebook. I get an offer of help to bring us dinner, or fresh baked bread. I get prayed for. I am reminded I am not alone, I am loved, I am cared for and about. People out there care about my kids and I.

I email a person I spotted on tv last week. A guy who helped me out when I was struggling with art school. Just to thank him for his awhi and tautoko. He has a full face moko (tattoo) now and I wonder how he is enjoying his transformation. I love that. I love the courage and the mana (strength). It's powerful. I want tattoos. I want to be marked. It's just something I am strongly drawn too. I am just waiting for the right timing. I've been prayerful about it. I have gotten my share of lectures from some Christians against it, that God is against me marking my body. (So what are pierced ears and surgery if we aren't supposed to pierce our skin?). I am visual and I love mark making. It was always just a matter of time.

And that's another thing I ponder as I lay here. All these critics in my head. I think about my boys having to care for their brother as their mother lies in the next room trying to be well again. I wonder about my old church friends and their staunch ideas about what a successful family entailed. Owning your own business (seriously we tried it and failed cause we are not motivated by money, we flopped and yet we are happy for all those who are successful), a constantly tidy show home (meaning no children can play freely or cook or make piles of blankets into huts), a positive attitude all the time (how draining), no junk food (how boring), having a home (aka giant debt), designer clothes (not my thing) and make up (where do I start?). I think I struck out on so many levels and it was part of the reason I left.

Church talk has changed in the last twenty years. Successful living is being promoted so much more than it used to be. I remember twenty years ago the focus was living in the spirit. Now it's materialistic. Almost as if we have to perform well in our homes, lives, careers to prove that God is with us. It makes me cringe and withdraw from all shows of ostentatiousness. I am a rebel. If the church was full of hippy's I'd probably be against that too. But it's just too much when lifestyle and church services and events are the central focus, rather than the simple fact that God loves us. And that His plan is FOR us and not against us. That we are to care about each other. Simple. I can be a complicated woman, but my faith is simple. It has to be.

I like my new pastor. He's pretty on-to-it! He's down to earth and kind and positive and not full of himself. Still his way of being with God and people makes me want to be a better person. And that's enough for me.

This Martha-Stewart approach of do-it-all-yourself to Christianity is manifest in women in the church being preoccupied with their weight, size, appearance, clothing, make up and the self-promotional talk that just makes me want to gag. Thank goodness it's not so evident in my new church. I was like that once too. I thought I could become this fantastic Rachelle, who could change the world by being the bestest me (read: copy others who are more on to it than I am and often be something I wasn't). I bought into a mentality that was promoted by people I admired at the time. I'm still not sure what that was all about. I don't think about it too hard cause it conjures up all sorts of complicated feelings. Very unhelpful ones.

And before I fall into the trap of "I was all good and they were all bad", it wasn't like that. I met some awesome people. People who loved their kids and partners, who loved life, who loved doing life together. I learned much from them too. I guess my arrow is aimed at the prevailing and underlying arrogant assumptions that underscored much of that church's dogmatic teachings. Stuff that was hard to pinpoint but left people feeling insecure, inadequate and compromising who they really were in order to come up to the mark. Becoming performers rather than just permission to be ourselves loving a fantastic God.

I think it is incredibly arrogant and disrespectful for leaders to believe they know everything and that people just have to follow them. It leaves no room for God to work. Why would He? He has such incredible leaders. Argh.

See I don't mind admitting I don't know everything. I don't have everything together. I don't want to be all things to all people. I can't get around some of my weaknesses. I fail some days. I don't always feel good about myself. I am slower at catching on to things than others at times and at screening what comes out of my mouth. I know that my 'say it as I see it' way of being is hard for some people to take. It's hard for me to live with sometimes. I fail to fit the 9-5 way of living and live most of my life at the edges of conservatism.

Some times the places where I expect to see more grace ended up being the most damning places. Still I love my friends in spite of our differences. That's the whole point isn't it.

And I do wonder as I walk into my funky smelling kitchen (Rich cooked a flippin curry again and the laundry flooded leaving piles of damp clothes and a mat to rot in this winter season) what all those houseproud women would think if they walked into my home. I pray they don't.

I love the happy sounds of my kids as they trundle past in their own idea of what dressed means. I love that lunch today was prepared by my 12 year old son - microwaved meat pies and a cup of tea and ginger kisses from a packet. It seriously warms my heart that I asked and he complied willingly, then changed his first awful baby nappy ever. And never complained. not once.
I love that I can relax and get well.

I know those voices in my head would like me to think that somehow I am failing. That somehow I am not doing my family like they would. I refuse to let them win. I am going with it. This is after all MY life. My own home. Run yours how you will. Raise your kids how you will. I will observe and catch anything from you that helps me be a better mum, a better woman. But I will raise mine how I am led to. I will not judge you. Do not judge me. Do not tell me that God says things that He doesn't. It's hard enough in this world without us all turning on each other that way.

Thanks especially to Laurene and Betty Ann for kind offers of help and love. Laurene, you and others like you continue to restore my hope that church does work. It does with people like you. Betty Ann is our special treasure sent from God. She is there to prod and poke and send me mother-like tones in emails, messages, phone calls and gifts. She just loves from where she is. She is waiting for heart surgery later this week. She extends a hand. (currently recovering from her operation).

So I am going with it - migraine, messy house (now after a day of the boys having free rein), scruffy kids, smelly kitchen, messy hair. It's ok because it's mine and I feel very right about all that is going on in my life right now.

mum, i want to knit ...

Marcus favourite knitting pozzie - our big warm bed.
You wouldn't believe the excitement those particular words produced a couple of nights ago. It was music to this creative mum's ears. Marcus picked up the whole idea after a few rows. And he's been bugging me ever since. He has plans to make some fingerless gloves (like Michael Jackson's) once his scarf is finished. Uh huh, we'll see.
So Rich and Maia sit on one couch and play guitar together whilst Marcus and I on the other, knitting. Yesterday morning I was woken up very early with a command "what do I do again Mum?" And so we spent the morning merrily knitting in bed with Knuckles our beautiful healthy baby (no more flu, yay!) chasing balls of yarn and sucking on wool between us.
And tonight he spotted his needles and yarn in my room, leapt across the bed (injuring and annoying his camera toting big bro) and exclaimed "I want to knit! Mum, can we knit?"
It's just too much for this mama who loves to knit and make and play and sit with industrious hands while creations form in my lap. Sigh. It's my form of heaven.
I have a new toy. A Canon SLR and I managed to prise it from my technically adept husband's hands tonight. I have been instructed to read the manual. Hahaha. That's funny. Without even trying, Rich captured these photos TONIGHT of my flowers he bought me last week. Holy Moly! It's amazing because my last camera would make mincemeat out of these. So my house will get messier, meals more random and children more scruffy because we have something else to play with.
But let me tell you, the buzz in the house these days is warm, fun and friendly, and everyone wants to hang out with everyone. Rich tells me it's hard when he's at work and rings home. He can hear all the fun and the baby and just wants the day to end so he can get back to us. It's just so darn cosy and there's much astir in our home. I don't want the holidays to end. That will mean boring bedtimes, school hours, routines and back to the blur of term life. I am not looking forward to losing my playmates. Neither is Knuckles, and I know cos he told me.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Rhythms ...

Big beautiful Poneke sky.I do wonder what my kids will say about their
mother and their childhood experiences one day
Archives - adventuring with Marcus

Knitting is handy. I can sit and knit while juggling my household of pent up boys who have finally recovered from a nasty bout of flu. No more runny noses. No more coughing til they vomit. No more high fevers. No more disturbed sleeps. Well for them anyway. It's 3am and I am writing this because this is the only time I get to myself and I have never been able to sleep well at night. Daytime yes, but come night time, all my senses come awake and alert.

Anyway, about knitting. I am doing a scarf which requires a single rib pattern, with a slipstitch at the beginning and end of every second row, and two balls of wool alternating to make a striped pattern. It's for my husband (I owe him so many presents). Its made using a rather costly yarn so I feel rather luxurious as I make it. Lovely lovely textures in my hands. Its called Noro Silk Garden and is 45% Silk, 45% Kid Mohair, and 10% Lambswool. I put the link in my post.

The thing about knitting is that it can be slow going at first. Anyone who knits knows this. It's awkward, the pattern gets messed up and has to be undone and reknitted otherwise those flaws will haunt you, even though no one else would notice or care. The pattern checked. The stitches recounted and the whole thing observed to ensure no stitches are dropped or out of sequence. But after awhile slowly but surely a steady rhythm will emerge. That's the part I like. When the pattern has become familiar, and a steadier and quicker pace starts to happen. Then it flows and happens all natural like. And whatever I'm working on starts growing in my hands.

Being a mum is like that. Having a family can be very disturbing. I see messes everywhere. I see a constant stream of work. Constant demands that have to be met because children do not disappear. Putting my own needs aside constantly to be available for the needs of others. I love my kids, there's no denying that. But it is disconcerting to always be about things for others. To go without. To change something that feels natural for something that doesn't feel natural.

For instance: I am not a sporty person. I look all uncouth when I run, I hate feeling all uncomfortable and I hate competitiveness because I am useless at sports. I have a son who loves rugby and is playing his first season. It is hard to get motivated to go stand in the cold and watch six year olds run up and down a field. I don't even know what they are doing. I don't think they do either sometimes.

But he loves it. And I love seeing his pride in his game and his team. He walks around in his rugby jersey and socks at home. He wore them out to dinner one night (grass stains and dirt marks intact) hoping someone would ask him about it. He scored his first try a couple of weeks ago and helped set up another one. He was stoked and so were we.

My husband is technical, musical and homely. He loves to be private. I am the complete opposite. I love to be around people too and although I like music, I cannot listen to the boys playing the same thing over and over. I feel cross when I see guitars lying around (I tripped over one tonight, ouch) and when they play their drums too loud. I am however enjoying seeing them learning chords and songs with their dad. I am enjoying seeing my son practicing when no one's looking. I get it, I do.

In the last couple of years I've figured out how I can handle almost any change. I realised at some point recently that its all about flow. Things change with the end of a career or a new baby or new job or whatever. And then it becomes a matter of finding my rhythm again. Of fitting things to me in a way I can handle, work with, live with and make sense of. Of getting in my flow, my slip stream. And one thing I have a bit of is time. Time to make adjustments and allow things to settle around me. Time to respond rather than react. Time to sit with things for awhile and see how it all fits together. Time to sift through and discover new treasures and delete excesses.

I like to make things. I have a few friends who do too. So we formed a group and opened it up to the community I live in. We meet once a month and last week had 15 turn up which isn't a bad turnout for flu-season and in the middle of winter. That's helped me immensely because I now have a crafting forum that I belong to with other like-minded folk who also love to create.

I love people. Having a blog and Facebook and email has allowed me steady daily contact with lots of people amidst the business of running a family. I can talk with others without tidying my house, getting dressed or even getting out of bed. It's awesome and so family friendly.

Knitting. I miss immersing myself into bigger artful projects so knitting is a perfect medium for now. I get to click away on my needles while the baby sucks on the ball of wool and the kids ricochet off the couches around me. I've rediscovered radio and talkbacks because I cannot watch tv and knit at the same time. I grew up with my mama listening to a steady stream of talkback radio. I loved talkback when I was a bachelorette. I loved listening to people from all different walks of life sharing their opinions, stories and feedback. Mind you, it was rather negative today. I wish I could find a good channel because I want to introduce my kids to it too. It's a great way to find out that there are lots of ways to look at the world.

Adventures are really important to me. I always dreamed of travelling one day when I was in my twenties. I wanted to be a missionary and work in far off places. Instead I met my gorgeous husband and now have three kids on my mission field here at home. So every now and then I take my camera and my kids and we head off into our local environment with my 'other' eyes on, taking photos and exploring. Having a blog means my friends overseas get to see where we live. and the specialness of our place. I think I live in a wonderful place, made more wonderful to me due to this recording and journalling experience.

Home. I have resigned myself to a certain amount of disorder around me. I have to breathe deeply when others come. Our home is um, well lived in. It smells like little boys, it looks like there's a meal been prepared and consumed on every surface, the washing is never completed, the floors always need doing. My crafting projects spread out. There are baby toys and equipment everywhere. And I don't look under furniture. It's too damn scary and I don't need to know anyway. Its a neverending cycle and I am most aware of this when I am around women who do their homes everyday and have routines and things. See my way of deciding what is happening each day is to see how I feel when I wake up. Some days I decide I am tired so I go back to sleep (when Knuckles does). Others I have lots of energy and we are up and off. Or I may feel like people so we try and find another family to play with. If its cold and miserable, I try and figure out the best way to spend a day at home which can mean food, movies, blankets, heaters, card games, reading, music, tv. Mostly I base it on the best possible experience we can have on that day.

These are my rhythms. The ways that I make sense of my world and make it fit me. I like its unpredictableness and lack of strict structures. It means I can go with the flow. Nothing impeding us from having the best possible times.

Just like knitting. One just has to find her rhythm.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

scenes of domesticity ...

A beach button installation

I have been angsting about my blog. Worrying that it isn't arty enough for my visitors. Worrying that its too domestic. But guess what. Who flippin' cares. It's my life, my real life, not an edited version (well, kinda) and I figure that if it makes it to these pages, then its because it's important to ME.

You'll know if you visit often enough that I ramble on about art, life, kids, faith, my city and country, my favourite people, the beach and lately homeschooling. Other things like buttons on the beach keep reoccurring because I like to look for buttons on my beach (and because I just can, which is heaven for a girl who loves textiles and the beach). My travels, my observations of my environment and at times the mad heady rush of finally being able to sink myself into the wonderful world of making.

Some things have really turned around for me. I gave up art school last year after a year and a half of struggling to fit in and trying to figure out how to make it fit me. It just didn't and I am finally ok about that. But I felt like I was giving up on yet another opportunity to better myself. I have my counselling papers and that lets me know that I am capable of study. To find myself unexpectedly pregnant at 38 was a shock. Actually every pregnancy has started out as a shock because I am complicated. I am so thankful I didn't give the baby away (or scare my husband too much), I left my old self behind and am embracing my new life as wholeheartedly as I can.
Thats me. Trying to live life to the fullest. Whenever I get dealt lemons, I try and make lemonade. Not that Knuckles is a lemon or anything. He's amazing and he's turned all our lives around. Hearts are fuller and he is constantly surrounded by kisses, laughs, giggles, boys, arms, blankets, woolly's and toys. I miss him when he's asleep. The boys have been threatened not to wake him up or they will change the next poo nappy. It's the only way I can stop them from 'accidentally' waking him. Mostly it's Marcus (6) who constantly feels ripped off and will take the baby straight out of my arms if I am momentarily distracted. He's so in love with his baby. We all are.

So there I am the other day trying to count my latest button finds, and get a decent photo to show you (sand and all) what I find on the beach. All of a sudden the boys spy Knuckles quietly playing on the bed. Marcus gives Knuckles his specialist newest toy, a gun he has wanted for ages. (And before anyone starts getting pissy about guns, my boy has worked hard for this and promised me this is for playing secret agents with his brother, which I guess is like girls playing shops). But first a game of wrestling.
A new trick this morning had me running for the camera. I just love stripes on kids and woollens. Oh boy.
Rich got home from church to find us all huddled in the warm rooms of the house, namely our bedroom and the lounge. Who can resist a big stack of fluffy pillows and a smiling baby? Not us.
And then I had to go, because I was interrupting.
Lots of laughing, discussions and arguments erupt due to cheating (Mum is the worse culprit). I love playing cards with the boys and have had so much fun teaching them all the games we used to play when we were kids. The Mormon missionaries introduced us to Uno when we were kids. It's a staple around here now. And Maia loves playing the guitar. He's never far from one. He's almost nailed "More than words" by Extreme. He was surprised that I know it. It's about then that I feel my age.
And because I can't resist, I try and sneak one more shot, but someone is onto me.
And then it's my turn. I need a cuddle. I need to smell his warm baby body and hug his wriggling self. He's just lovely. I'm squirrelling him away for me and going to hide because no doubt someone will come and beg a turn, and I'm not ready to give him up just yet.
And my final scene of bliss: another cup of tea gone cold, tissues, abandoned jewellery and my favourite pink tea cups which have now been repurposed into baby food receptacles by the men in my family. :) This is my life today. It's wonderfully uncomplicated.
And that sense of 'losing myself' from last year is definitely evaporating as I embrace this new life. My children. My sense of play and fun. Relax. Breathe. Create. Write. Knit. Bake. Walk the beach. Stay warm.

PS. I have also become an expert on Facebook (I refuse to say addict because I am there by choice) and love talking to all my 'friends'. What a crack up. When my husband got home from church, he said "Kylie reckons she's worse then you (on Facebook)". My reply, "I'm not 'worse', I am awesome. I am gifted. It's my calling don't chya know." lol. And I am because it takes lots of skills to be able to talk to people all over the world, run a house, make a dress, organise meals, tidy, play Uno, hug a baby, umpire an argument between the big boys and talk on the phone, all at the same time. :) It's all ministry baby! lol

I love Amanda Blake Soule (click on blue words to go to their page) from Soulemama's blog site which is filled with goodness about being a home mama, a making mama, a homeschooling mama and so much more. She's inspired me in lots of wonderful ways.

I have discovered Ravelry and am making the following scarf for my honey with my four balls of Noro Silk Garden (silk/mohair/wool blend) yarn. I have knit this yarn three times and not felt satisfied with my results. Now I have a better pattern (I usually make it all up in my head as I go). God, Ravelry. For a woman who loves to make things, gathers things and nests, knitting is the perfect take-anywhere craft project. So portable. I can do a few rows while waiting for the kids to finish school, or anywhere. And living in a cold climate begs woollens. Well, that's my justification.

I remember 12 years ago as a first time mum feeling so isolated and lost. It's different these days. I talk to my friends from all over the world and don't even have to clean up my house, or get dressed or even get outta bed if I don't want to.

And I am contemplating entering a writing competition. God, I can talk and write about anything. But put a deadline in front of me and a panel, and I freeze. We'll see. Will my fear or love win out? Right now fear is winning. Haha, I am such a wuss.

O, and I had a good talk with my own mama last night. She's well but upset by thoughts of losing her own mother (my other mama who is 80). I hope talking with me helped. I think I am turning into my grandmother, the one I lived with when I was a small child. I love making, I want a country home, I want chickens and a vegie garden, I wanna homeschool, I want to walk the beaches with my kids, to go fishing and camping together. Yes, my grandmother is an important woman. She was instrumental in shaping me in so many ways. She grew us all up. She planted a seed of faith in me. She has lived a full life. I am so glad that God has big hands to catch her one day, and hold her, and show her movies of all her successes. The bits that make Him smile. I am grateful she will be waiting for me too one day. She is gold to us. Another hero in my life.

I am blessed.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Real heroes ...

It's quiet here. I am having one of those spells. Where my creative self has to take a back seat to life. Hugging my baby to me as he struggles to breathe, making sure my children are warm and comfortable as they recover from a nasty bout of flu, keeping my home orderly and germ free, and trying to stay calm and friendly as my husband enters the door after a long day at work is about as much as I can handle right now.

We have been baking up a storm in our housebound state. Anzac biscuits, muesli cookies, breakfast muffins, blueberry ones too, and yummy meals as I entice children who need nourishment back to life again. The kids like all the mixing and making and licking the bowl at the end. Somehow when there is baking in the cupboards, something feels very right in my home. I'm certain its my maternal instinct to nurture and provide going into overdrive.

And kick in it needed to. My little six month old Knuckles had a steady 39-40 degree temp for eight days straight. Listless. Glazed eyes. Just miserable and desparately unwell. Visits to the doctor and then the hospital in the middle of the night. Coupled with my ill six year old who lay on the couch for seven days and needed carrying to the toilet, he was so weak with flu. I am sure we were just running on pure adrenalin.

I am so grateful to have a husband who is very loving and kind. Who cares about my well-being. Who falls back and sacrifices himself for his wife and children. I hear of other men who don't support their wives and it just boggles my brain. Richard is very selfless when it comes to our family. In fact he has at times been accused of being too soft and spineless. Funny, that if a man should care for his family and enjoy being at home with them, then there is something wrong with him. But if he plays rugby and swills beers back by the dozen and goes pig hunting or works 60 hour weeks then that's all good.

I don't think beer and rugby make a man, that's for sure. I prefer one that gives a damn about his kids and his partner. One that can clean a house, cook a kai, change nappies, do laundry and sing as he goes about it. Then goes out to work and returns home with a good spirit. One who checks my face as he walks in the door to ascertain how our day went. One who lets me sleep when I am tired. Who pushes me out the door to go and have fun. One who wouldn't blink if I needed to go away for a while. He is quite happy at home with his boys.

He lets me bleat on and listens when I'm having a moan, then just encourages me to do what is best for me and the boys. He does our budget and trusts me with money and never questions me about what I buy. He'll just caution me when funds are low to be careful. He's never complained about what I buy even when it's been ridiculous and I deserved a growl.

He doesn't moan, he never complains, like NEVER EVER. He doesn't whinge. Nor backstab or criticise others. He's a worshipful man who loves God and is so respectful to others.

He ain't perfect. He forgets so many things it drives me nuts. He's too quiet sometimes and I just about have to shake him to get a noise out. He's private and sometimes deals with things all by himself instead of sharing. He'll avoid conflict rather than battle about something. Still, I'm also certain I am no easy walk in the park type of wife either. I have my own share of complicatedness for him to navigate.

But in all of this there is something so inherently good about my husband. I like the security my marriage brings. The fact that we share everything, the raising of the boys and running our home especially. We work hard to stay connected. I think relationships are more women's area of expertise. Men need them, but I think we just understand nurturing and growing people a little more, and the value in it all.

And he's done all the midnight shifts with our babies. He's gold alright. I am so thankful he is in my life. He's our very own real life hero me thinks!
And a bit of real life romance, my friend Nina over at Ornamental has a new 'friend'. I am so happy for her I could burst. She's one of my favourite all time artists and I am glad she has found love again.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut.
Doesn't have a swelled head.
Doesn't force itself on others.
Isn't always 'me first'.
Doesn't fly off the handle.
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others.
Doesnt revel when others grovel.
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth.
Puts up with anything.
Trusts God always.
Always looks for the best.
Never looks back.
But keeps going to the end.

1 Corinthians 13
"The Way of Love"
The Message

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

56 buttons today ... have the best funnies.

Well I have been housebound with my flu-ridden small children which hasn't been much fun for any of us. Husband had to pull back to help out (and he does so willingly) but we've had no leave left for a while so we will be way down in our finances this month. He's stressed, I'm praying and we will just have to live even more simpler. That usually means we bake more, stay home more, don't drive our car, and have nothing for the shops. Which I don't really miss. The only hard part is the unexpected expenses. Like stupid car repairs.

It's just as well I like being home making things. That I have created a community of makers around me. That we all fizz about the same things. That I have great friends which isn't the same as family but as near as one can get when we have no one. Not living near our extended whanau gets a bit hard when we could use some extra support. Even harder when mine have opted to live overseas. I am such a home girl. I don't want to be a foreigner. I am happy to travel, but I love my roots.

I found 56 buttons today at the beach. I bought the kids an ice cream and we drove onto the beach and sat there eating ice creams. Then they stayed in the warm car playing with all the switches (I am amazed they have not driven into the sea yet) while I took twenty minutes to walk and puddle around. I also found a false tooth worn down by the sea still attached to some of the pink gum bit, lol. Its my second piece I've found. My mum stuck the other one in one of her artworks. lol. You either get it or you don't. I also found about a dozen of those curtain hooks and eyelets. I have a whole stack of them too. Don't know what I'll do with those. I was so excited by my find of a really large worn white button. I really really really needed one of those. hahaha.
I also found my sanity. It's amazing what a little 'button therapy' will do.

I have to admit though that we are now through the boring phase of being together (its been nearly three weeks of being constantly together) and now we are finding each other entertaining and discovering new things about each other. I've had fun teaching the kids card games while trying to fill the bedroom with steam to help them breathe. We are having fun speculating what homeschool will feel like. What we will do. We are enjoying each other. Today I turned off the tv and we had a blast. Lots of laughs, the guitars were constantly picked up, we played cards (and cheated blatantly), and cuddled our baby, and dreamed up yummy food, and googled recipes for muffins and cakes.

I am scared too. Scared that my kids might miss out on some big amazing thing that school offers. Yet I am already scared at how little they learn and how little they retain given that they spend six hours a day, five days a week there. And how unimpressed they are with school in general. I am afraid that I will get lazy, that I will get lost, that I will go down a road that is completely irrelevant. Afraid that they will be somehow lacking for a choice I make.

I can't wait to talk with other homeschoolers and unschoolers. I've heard lots and lots of good things. I definitely want a more involved role in their learning. School is so dry. I want them to enjoy their childhood. I trust them and myself to build character which I believe is invaluable. Intelligence is already there. It just needs feeding. I've heard of homeschool kids who are doing university papers when their schooling peers are struggling with high school exams.

Rich is keen as. He's cool like that. He trusts me. We both were smart kids when we were young, but a lack of personal attention at school meant we were underdeveloped. Mentoring is definitely more attractive. Learning to learn, self-motivated learning, strength-based learning, life-based learning. Even the kids are interested. The fact that they only spend a couple of hours a day doing lessons (if we go down that path) and then the rest of the day playing and chilling and skating and swimming or whatever. Plus they will have their usual chores and have to prepare dinner every night with me. And they get to cuddle their baby whenever they want.

So many pluses. A few doubts. I know we will find the right answer. I am praying about this one and the boys and I are researching. How fun, we are doing so much more together now. Before that would've scared me but now I feel like we are a team. It certainly will break up the monotony of my day, take me off the stupid 9-3 regime. We can have structured days or not, we can sleep until we aren't tired. We can go camping. We can jump on a plane and go visit their nan. They can wear their own clothes. they can make their own clothes. Well I might be pushing it their, but they can certainly have an allowance and budget and purchase their own clothes. They might develop a love for op shops too. Or not.

I must find us a community. It's driving me nuts having no one to talk to about this except my boys. O, I do have one friend. She has and is raising all four of her boys via homeschool. One has just completed his aircraft engineer apprenticeship thing. And they are all really cool kids. My kids always envy them. They only work for a bit in the morning on their lessons. In the afternoon they go possum hunting, ride their trail bikes and go bush with their dog. And that was when they were younger (like 8 and 9). Fun, fun.

I am just grateful we are over the flu. That was scary. Very scary when our Knuckles got very sick. Our hospital system is so overstrained here, I waited for nearly six hours to be seen. There were so many children sick with the flu. This is a terrible strain of flu, we are seeing an epidemic of it here in Porirua. Thank God for my faith and my husband and my resilient little kids. They really are troopers.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Unschooling ...

Adventuring with their mama.

Recently, I've been thinking about my kids and the whole schooling system thing. We've been blessed to get a pretty good bunch of teachers in primary school and Intermediate, with a few average ones chucked in for good measure. Overall though, I am left feeling dissatissfied with my sons' educations, and wondering what can I do about it anyway.

Rich and I aren't the most organised kind of people. We aren't high earners, high achievers nor are we highly educated despite our attempts to try and gain higher education in our thirties. We have both managed to gain diploma's and I have two unfinished degrees that are just looking so ridiculously unattainable now that I have a new son to play with. We get by on a modest income supplemented by all sorts of goodness and miracles. We don't own our own home but live in a wonderful little house minutes from the sea. We live adequately and our vacations are mostly spent at home or visiting relatives. A good night out might mean a meal at the foodcourt or a movie with the kids at home and goodies to munch on. A day out is usually the beach or park or hanging out with friends. We live a simple life. I am grateful.

When the boys were little, I loved being involved in their lives. I loved the way I knew them so well, that if something was up, it flicked across the 'mama-scan' long before it actually eventuated. You know, things like illness, an 'off' day at school, fear, etc. I knew they were thirsty before they did! I knew what they liked, what interested them, what put them off, what they ate, what they needed. It was good being that intimate with my kids.

Then they went to school. And suddenly six hours a day, five days a week, I had no idea what was going on. Who they were with. Who was influencing them. And what they were learning. I could hardly support it because I wasn't there and able to help them along in their context. I became busy with other things and suddenly was fitting my kids in around my life. It was detached and I felt very uncomfortable about it.

I remember justifying it by thinking that they needed to individuate, to cut the strings from my supposed apron and become their own people. Now I find it difficult to reach them sometimes. They don't communicate as much as they used to. They seem kinda switched off actually.

I have good kids. People tell me they are good kids. My big boy has a heart of gold. He is like a big uncle to his little brothers. The baby is always in his arms or on his hip. He is logical, calm and likes to think things through. He can also be a couch potato. My second youngest is full of life, exuberant and chatters non-stop. He loves to talk about anything, has an opinion about everything and barely pauses to let you answer before he's off again. The couches are his launch and landing pads. My third is just a babe, a big beautiful still innocent baby.

We are thinking seriously about homeschooling our boys. It's a new idea to us. I used to think I had to be a some other kind of teacher, but now my thoughts are different, they're changing. I think my heart is so inclined towards my sons, and my passion for living so strong that I am well equipped to prepare my boys for adulthood. Couple that with their intelligent tech-head musically talented father and they couldn't have better mentors I am thinking.. I am so idealistic and I have a few (not many) doubts but mostly I want something else.

I have some major peeve's regarding the school system:
* it revolves around passing 5th and 6th form exams rather than sets you up to live life;

* out of that six hour period of time my son's are at school, the individual time and attention they probably get would be mere minutes;

* the system flatlines everyone by age with no extra attention going to a students abilities and strengths. So if you have a kid who loves to perform but their peers don't then that is likely to be squashed. Likewise if your kids loves maths and has a great aptitude for it, then he will still only get 30 mins teaching even though it would be to their advantage to specialise and spend hours doing what they love.

I am biaised I know because I had a love/hate relationship with school. I was a deep thinker, loved anything that involved people, and had an aptitude for words. On the other hand I was terrible at maths and anything that involved equation-like thinking. Science was like that too. But for years, I had to do maths one hour a day and science too, even though I have never done anything with those subjects. Even now, I reach for a calculator.

I would've been better off, if they'd stuck me in the library to work with books, cataloguing them, handling them, writing reports on books. I loved spending hours in the library as my punishment for not bringing my sports kit for PE. I hated sports. Being asthmatic and not very sporty, I sucked at all those things. If it hadn't been so competitive, I might've enjoyed it. But no, the fastest bestest kids got the credits while I labored at the back wheezing and looking for a way to escape and have a smoke with my mates.

More importantly, in recent years I have learned about the various learning styles that we all have. I am all three. I need to see it, hear it and experience it. Then I am good to go. I also have to be interested in what I am doing, otherwise it's a big fat waste of time.

I loved drama at school but my caregiving family at the time prevented me from doing it because it wasn't practical and they were very controlling. They forced me to do boring homework at nights when I could have been doing art and creative stuff. I was invited to perform in the school play. Not allowed. I was invited out with my peers. Not allowed. I had to study. I could've been involved in the school magazine a year earlier. Not allowed. My caregivers at the time were old school. One went to school to do school work. No extra curricular activities for me. I couldn't be trusted. So what could've been fun, social and interesting turned in to laborious work with no let up and no sense of personal satisfaction.

I developed survival skills for the amount of study I was required to perform. I got fancy stationery and I drew all over my assignments making them look pretty. lol. It set me up in good stead for tertiary study. The upside was that my marks meant I gained entry into the top journalism course at the time in the country. Out of 500 plus applicants, they took 30. I was one of them. However, I wish I had been allowed more time to 1) Grow up while in the safety of my home (I had to leave home as soon as I was able to work due to a strained relationship with one of my caregivers at the time, so at 17 with barely any life skills, I left); and 2) I'd had more one-on-one time to develop my writing.

I wish someone had inspired me and mentored me. See, that is how I learned best. I had a couple of English teachers that gave a damn about me, and it really paid off. I love the creative writing I did at high school. I wish I'd been able to pursue that. I also wanted to help people. I wish I could've pursued that. I loved making things. Again, if only things had been different.

In my thirties I started to pursue these things that actually interested me. I am grateful that I can renarrate my life. I want different for my boys. I figure no one will care about them like I do. No one will ever want to invest as much as I do. Others may know more than I know about some things but I do know my boys.

I want to teach them about life. How to do a budget (and maybe I'll learn in the process as well). How to keep a house. How to cook. How to buy a house. How to look after other people. How to be part of a community. How to motivate themselves. How to find out something. Learning how to learn so that they can access whatever they need in the future. To discover their learning styles. To pursue their strengths and interests. To play for fun and with intention. To look at the world with enquiring minds and different eyes.

I am starting to research all the alternatives to school but would love to know if you have tried this, or whatever. Let us know. We love our boys. We want to set them up for life with skills that will actually help them. Not just tick the curriculum boxes.
The world - our classroom.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

One shot ...

I get one shot at this life of mine.

Am I here merely to fill a space, fill my days, buy a house, go to work, clean the house, please others, please myself, 'do' coffee?

Do I spend my life-time shaping my mind, body and soul only to find out later on that most of it doesn't count for much anyway?

Do I want to be invisible and forgotten when I am gone or do I want to leave a legacy for any followers I may have?

Do I want to make a difference in the world or leave well alone, living a life that counts for something or nothing at all?

What is important for one is insignificant to another - so how do I decide what to pursue and what to ignore? Will any of it really matter anyway?

Is truth relative, subjective, finite or infinite?

Can I trust what I see, know, experience and learn, and am I also blinded and deceived by the very same things?

I can trust God or not, I can trust people or not, and can I trust myself?

If I were to document my daily life, how much would be trivial and how much would matter?
And on what basis would I make my judgements about what matters and what doesn't?

Look at all the masters and the great theories of life - all are sound and all are faulty.

We all look at the world through our own rose-tinted lenses, our experiences and knowledge, our history and perceptions - all these things shape our worldviews. Putting myself in a learning seat is my favourite thing. I love looking at the world from others perspectives and trying to see things differently. I am inspired by peoples resilience to hardships, their inspiration sources, their drive, their failures and mistakes, their sicknesses and their cures. Humanity is ripe for observation.

Making one's mark in the world isn't a new ambition. I've heard it told that everybody wants to be remembered, to make 'their mark'. Yet the other night Rich asked me where my great great grandparents are buried, and honestly, I couldn't recall. I know so little of them. In just two generations they are forgotten. By the next generation it is possible that they won't even have existed.

We were talking about what to do if one of us died. I wish it was possible to just wrap me in a bunch of my cloths (no ugly expensive coffin, just my nice cloth that will rot away) and bury me in a big deep hole somewhere nice, put some of my stones and finds on top as a marker of sorts (which will disappear eventually of course), have a few words on the rocks where I go, and maybe a glass or two afterwards with some shared laughs over the hardcase idiot things I've said and done.

I am a funny old bird. I want to have my best friend with me always. Ideally I would carry him around with me wherever I went in life. Like ashes in an urn or something that I've crafted. (So if I happen to be carrying a cool looking container one day and stroking it, hug me gently and let me be). And then when I am an old lady I will throw his ashes in the sea, or not. Probably just put him in the same hole that I am buried in.

Atop the old bird's mountain in Wellington

I once said, "I don't want you to die."
He said, "That's ok, you can go first."
He's like that. Not prone to speaking much but when he does its succinct and to the point. Ha-bloody ha! :)

I don't ponder death often. I am so on fire about living my life. Even the lazy bits have me thinking. I know folks who go on about growing old, as if that is the worse thing in the world.
I know my assumptions will be seen as arrogant by others but I am looking forward to being a blessing tomorrow and God-willing in all the years I have left.

I can see that making stuff will always be a part of me, it gathers others around me, leaves me feeling clever and I get deep satisfaction when I show someone how to do something and they come back with the same idea multiplied and transformed into a creation.

I love adventures. My pockets aren't deep so my foraging is only along our local coastline. Trips away usually mean people. But the more I walk along these shores, the more I see. I walk slowly and pick up bits of flotsam and sea-leavings. I look up and the sky is everychanging. The shoreline changes. The climate warms and cools. The plants get bigger. The rocks are the same but are always different. The people frolic in summer and in winter scurry past with hunched shoulders urging their dogs home.

March 2008
My kids. They are both chore and pleasure. The thankless chore of always being responsible. Giving all and then consumed with guilt still that I haven't done enough or may have missed something vital. Pleasure, the unconditional love, the mystic attraction of their smallness and vulnerability. Witnessing them care for others with their own heart motivation. Doing right of their own volition.
My three noble reasons for not being a jerk.

God. A faith based on something bigger and definitely better than I. Gratitude that in submission is freedom that surpasses logic, circumstances, ability and aptitude. Being part of something truly good. Belonging to and being loved by Him, the ultimate Creator, one who's voice has been my constant since childhood. The Rock that is higher than I.

I have a friend who even in illness stopped by last night to share a kind word and usually anything else that might relieve me of some burden in my life. I received a lovely croceted hat in all my earthy colours which I suspect was made with me in mind, although it was carelessly tossed at me and told "if it fits you, it's yours." It's wonderful to have people like that in my life. And my aim is simple to be one of those people, who live to bless others and toss out things nonchalantly (yet with much thought) in the hope that I too can be a bringer of goodness, of love, of friendship and warmth.

Things I have lived for:

A father
A home
My brothers
My grandmother
The beach
My writing
Others welfare and well being
My kids
My husband

Rightly or wrongly, I don't apologise, not yet anyway. It's a pretty good ride. Nothing more nothing less.

Aroha mai.
R x
ps. Recycled photos because my kids have the flu and I ain't going nowhere soon.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

My dream is ...

Buttons O Buttons, where art thou my beauties?

To influence the world to be a better place one little corner at a time.
To draw inspiration from around me and to be an inspiration to others too.
To serve my Creator with diligence and heart.
To be a person who communicates love, fun and enthusiasm for life.
To enjoy the quiet bits too.
To recognise the value in others and reflect it right back at them.
Let kindness, generosity and warmth be my clothing.
To enjoy my children as a fellow traveller, speaking always 'person to person' with them.
To be an adventurer.
To write book.
To be a speaker, with a platform.
To be a Christian, with heart.
To use my words wisely.
To bridge difference with love and authenticity.
To laugh lots.
To create a beautiful haven.
To be part of something wonderful and life-changing.
To have like-minded companions.
To make beautiful things.
To capture the beauty in the mundane.
To contribute to my community.
Two of my three treasures. :)

Does anyone have a job that fits this description? :)
I pray you too will live your dream. Bless. x