Friday, December 19, 2014

holidays

I still have work to do before I'm officially on holidays but yesterday morning we woke and basked in the promise of six weeks without school. Come midday the word "bored" was being thrown about a bit and whilst there were a few squabbles that needed resolving, for the most part it was a good day. 

I enjoy the winding down that this time of year brings; the busyness that gives way to days without plans. Come Christmas Day I'm usually somewhat exhausted but it's a nice kind of sleepiness - a full bellied, mid-summer weariness that's cured by afternoon naps, long reading sessions and ocean swims. 

I have two weeks off work before I launch into a slightly mad eight weeks before baby arrives so I'm going to make the most of it. Our garden is thriving and although we only planted vegetable seedlings two weeks ago, it won't be long before I'm picking all that green for our summer plates. There's flowers too - so many bright, rambling blooms that require little work from me but provide such satisfaction. 

Yesterday, a package arrived from across the seas; the softest wrap for baby - a gift from me to him/her. I've been quite strict with buying for baby so when I saw this I knew it was the perfect blend of practicality and beauty; a heirloom piece that will be used every day. Four layers of unbleached cotton gauze finished with a crochet trim (found at one of my favourite boutiques, Willaby). I opened it after coming home from a midwife appointment where my intuition was confirmed; baby has turned and is now head down - I really can feel feet in my ribs! I know a few of you have asked for a post about baby essentials and yes, it is coming (although from a rather frugal perspective considering third-time around, I'm very well aware that you don't really need much at all).

Have a lovely day, friends. What are your plans? I'm writing (and making food for hungry children) but I think a bit of present wrapping may be in order (everything has been purchased but nothing has been wrapped).



3 COMMENTS


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

peace on earth

Since Monday I have been both transfixed and mortified by the events in Sydney. As much as I wanted to sit and watch it unfold I opted instead to switch off and tune out. To wake to the news of death and selfless sacrifice yesterday was devastating. And then to scroll through facebook and realise I know the mother and the sister of the man that was killed? The saddest of hearts. 

We don't have a tv in our home and whenever we were in the car I turned the radio down come news time. I didn't feel the need to inform the children of what was happening - they don't need to be privy to such terror and grief at this age. So I metaphorically wrapped them in cotton wool and took them to the beach and I sat and watched them play. And I thought about freedom and joy and innocence and I basked in the opportunity to observe it.

It's difficult to embrace festivity and frivolity at the moment; it's hard to comprehend the potent act of evil that has consumed our lives for the past few days. But on the flipside there is an enormous sense of perspective and, subsequently, gratitude. I'm stepping into this week before Christmas knowing that I couldn't ask for anything more. I've got it all: love, health, family - life. 

I've had the pleasure of discussing motherhood with Tori's mum many times so when I read her statement to the media yesterday I knew it came from a broken yet genuinely beautiful heart. She ended with a sentiment shared by so many of us at this time of year:

Let us all pray for peace on earth.


12 COMMENTS


Sunday, December 14, 2014

50/52

"A portrait of my daughter, once a week, every week, in 2014."

Poet: a rare moment of stillness between excitable splashes.

I can't believe we're at 50! 


7 COMMENTS


Thursday, December 11, 2014

thoughts on pregnancy at 28 weeks

I'm feeling a bit like a wilting flower this week; hot and weary I am most definitely on the cusp of the third trimester. My dates tell me that I'm 28 weeks but my body is doing a pretty good job of letting me know, too. The reflux has stepped up a notch, my legs are restless as soon as I lie down and the pressure in my pelvis has me waddling like a fat penguin*.

Yesterday was one of those days that reminded me, with such clarity, of the slow and heavy nature of late pregnancy. I hadn't slept well the night before so with sleep deprivation and a foggy head I went about my day. Holding a conversation was challenging and focussing was even harder; there was more than one time that I had to explain to the children that I couldn't do two things at once.

Pregnancy is such a humbling journey; regardless of your expectations it is the ultimate lesson in surrender and gratitude. You're thrown into this uncontrollable bodily experience that is both marvellous and sometimes, hard to comprehend. How amazing it is that my midwife can measure my belly at 26 weeks pregnant and see 26cm on the measuring tape.

I'm feeling grateful that I can know my body well enough, be so in tune with it's twinges and aches and realise that they are all begging me to slow down and succumb to this last 12 weeks. "Be present," they say. "Enjoy this". Indeed, this pregnancy journey has been so different to the ones that preceded it. And so it should be; I'm carrying a different baby who, at present, is lying breech and tickling/kicking my pelvis. It's not entirely comfortable but it is comforting. A kicking baby that responds to voices and touch is joy-inducing, for everyone who gets to witness it.

I feel like I've really connected with this baby over the past few weeks. I've made a conscious effort to sit and just be with him/her. Daniel and the children were swimming a few afternoons ago and as I sat on the beach watching them I closed my eyes, rubbed my belly and just like that...a name. Perhaps it is the right one, perhaps it was just an idea. Regardless, I felt like it came from a good place.

I'm being conscious of what I eat to ensure the reflux doesn't get worse, I've started taking magnesium to ease the restless legs and I'm wearing this incredible singlet or this belly band to support my pelvis - essential in this third pregnancy and third trimester. 


4 COMMENTS


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

how to manage your inbox

The distraction of an overflowing letterbox - of the real or virtual variety - can create all sorts of mental chaos. Over the past year I've managed to cull the amount of paper that lands in the bottle green box at the end of the driveway but as a result, my inbox has been at capacity for far too long.

Emails are a definite distraction and because of the sheer amount that I receive each day I need to be organised otherwise chaos ensues. My desire to start the New Year in a relatively organised manner has me looking at ways I can simplify everyday tasks. I like to think of organising the virtual as nesting for the modern day mother.

I've been quite strict with the way I've gone about emailing over the past few months, ensuring I spend as little time as possible sorting the mail and more time replying to emails and getting work done. Here's my tips for maintaining an inbox that welcomes you and never overwhelms:

- some people have two email addresses - one for important, work related matter and the other for subscriptions etc. Me? I prefer to keep things simple and have them all in one place. 

- read and file/delete as soon as you get the chance. Don't ever think that "I'll get back to it soon" is a good mindset because when you do find the time you can guarantee that you'll have 10, 15, 30 more emails to see to. This method ensures that there's only ever 10 or so emails in my inbox - pleasing.

- create designated folders so your inbox stays clear of clutter. As soon as I read an email I either delete it or file it in its appropriate folder. I have a folder for the magazine I'm currently working on, one for tax receipts, one for bills, one for blog and advertising enquiries and, at the very top of the list, a to-do folder - for emails that need my attention within the next week or so.

- every time an email/newsletter that you subscribe to arrives, consider whether you enjoy reading it. It's a little like the stuff in your home - if it doesn't "spark joy" as Marie Kondo affectionately says, then is it worth keeping?

- if your inbox is overflowing and there's several thousand emails that have been read but not deleted/filed my advice is to be ruthless. Do a google search and find out the quickest and easiest way to delete your emails in one go. And then do it - without procrastinating. It's incredibly rewarding.



4 COMMENTS


Monday, December 08, 2014

on taking less photos

For some reason I haven't been taking as many photos of late. I think pregnancy has a lot to do with it (I'm using pregnancy as an excuse for many things - foul moods, inability to form a coherent sentence, sudden and energetic cleaning outbursts) but mostly, I think I'm beginning to realise - really comprehend - how fast time is travelling. I'm almost in my third trimester, Christmas is a few weeks away, Che is about to finish Year 1 - where have all those days gone to?

I'm a big advocate for documenting moments and capturing memories. Like most people, my photos are among my most valuable possessions; I would be devastated if anything ever happened to my hard drives (Daniel has taken precautions and has copied our photos onto CDs that are kept at our parents' houses). Over the past few years I have taken hundreds of thousands of photos. It's how I developed my knowledge of manual photography, honed my skills and stepped into the world of professional photography. In fact, I highly recommend you take hundreds of thousands of photos if you want to become a better photographer; it's the best way to learn.

That said, lately I have been enjoying the opportunity to experience a moment instead of documenting it. Whilst I can look back at photos, remember the conversation and savour the memory, it's not the same as actually being there; completely, wholeheartedly present. Some say that taking photos helps you to be in the moment - the quiet observer - but there's still a camera between you and everyone else. Regardless of how compact that camera may be, there's no denying that it's in the way.

And then, if you're striving for artistic perfection, your desire to control the situation is a blockage, too. I'm speaking from experience - looking at the light, assessing my angle and composing the image and subsequently, adding a slew of unnecessary emotions to the situation. Taking photos takes energy and I'm starting to realise that that energy would be best spent on talking, drawing, splashing...just being.

I'll never stop taking photos of my days; it's something I enjoy doing and I always, without doubt, cherish the final result. But I'm consciously taking less because I don't want to look back at photo albums and wish I was the one painting with Poet instead of taking photos above her head. I don't want to be consumed by creative desire and subsequently regret missed opportunities. I want to be fully present with my young, beautiful, energetic children - here and now.

There's a fine line between engaging in life and documenting it. What do you choose?


17 COMMENTS


Sunday, December 07, 2014

the storytree company : a giveaway



this is a sponsored post

One of my fondest childhood memories involves audio books. I clearly remember borrowing a cassette tape of Milly Molly Mandy stories from my local library and curling up on my bed to listen. I'd while away winter afternoons; consumed by the voice and the mischievous Miss Molly. I was always an avid reader but audio stories added another element to the experience. 

As a parent I have turned to audio stories and meditations many times. I started using them when Che first dropped his day sleep. It's always such a murky transition and audio books filled that gap; they provided valuable quiet time come afternoon and kept the overwhelming emotions and tantrums at bay. Since then they have been a constant in our home and in the car.

Recently I discovered The Storytree Company, created by master storyteller and singer, Jenni Cargill-Strong. Her melodic and soothing voice intrigues and delights and it's all too easy to get carried along, engrossed in the tales she tells. Based in the Byron Bay Hinterland, Jenni regularly performs to live audiences and has won numerous awards for her CDs. She believes that stories are for humans, regardless of age, and that ultimately, the magic of the story is stronger than the storyteller. "A well-crafted story casts a spell over listeners of any age, invoking a deeply restful state," she says.

I asked Jenni a few questions about storytelling and the benefits of audio stories for this generation. Her words are both eloquent and educational:

Many people love having my story CDs as an alternative to TV or screen time, if they want to keep their child engaged and occupied but also have their imagination stimulated. Recorded stories are great before bed when you are too tired or busy to read to your child and can also be used if your child is having trouble falling to sleep. They are also a great way to shorten long car journeys.

Listening to stories helps children learn quite naturally and easily. They stimulate imagination enormously because so much of an oral story has to be imagined. With a picture book you see the story as the illustrator paints it but with a told story you imagine it all. 

Research has shown that people recall information given within a story at a dramatically higher rate than data given without a story context. Oral storytelling is also an elegant way to engage multiple intelligences. Quality stories, told sensitively, can nourish the soul while fostering imagination, emotional resilience, moral values and critical thinking.

While the level of concentration required to follow an oral story is very high, the magic of stories with a folktale structure is such, that modern children can still sink deeply and effortlessly into them. Even very exciting stories can generate a feeling of relaxation, because they create such an intensity of focus or ‘entrainment’.Well told oral stories have a distinctly different structure to written stories. They are all action. This is because the processes of listening as opposed to reading are significantly different. This means firstly that an oral storyteller must always keep the story moving or risk losing their audience. The action doesn’t have to be adrenaline pumping action, it just must keep steadily unfolding. Secondly, though a storyteller can use beautiful words, they need to use words relatively simply. However, a storyteller has something more than words to paint images in the imaginations of their listeners. Just some of the tools on the storyteller’s tool box are vocal tone, pitch, pace, pause, gesture, facial expression, emotional tone, mime, character voices, gaze, song, refrain and repetition.

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Jenni is kindly giving away a pack of her CDs, including Reaching for the Moon, The Story Tree, The Mermaid's Shoes, Molly Whuppie and The True Adventures of Salty Pete the Pirate - valued at $85. To enter, please leave a comment telling me about your very favourite story as a child. Comments close on Thursday December 11th at 5pm and the winner will be announced shortly afterward. This giveaway is open to international readers. I'll be at the post office first thing Friday morning to ensure the package gets to the winner in time for Christmas. 

You can listen to a preview of the stories at The StoryTree Company and purchase CDs and digital downloads there. CDs are also available from Dragonfly Toys

Comments closed. The winner is Georgia! Congratulations - loved reminiscing about Dot and the Kangaroo. Please email your address to: jodiclairewilson @ yahoo.com.au

If you didn't win and are interested in purchasing CDs for a discounted rate, please visit this page for discounts - valid till 2pm Wednesday 17th December. 




58 COMMENTS

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