Wednesday, July 27, 2016

how to ground yourself when it's windy

It's been windy for the past week; blustery, cold air whipping us all into a frenzy. Put simply, I'm a mess and completely out of sorts - irritable, frazzled, foggy headed and unbalanced. Windy weather has me cowering - all I want to do is huddle under a blanket till it eases.

It's a common event for this time of year. Just as we intuitively declutter in late winter / early spring, the earth does the same, the wind getting rid of the weight of winter to make space for new shoots and fresh leaves. Unfortunately I never manage to acclimatise, I'm just biding my time till the gusts subside (September if past years are anything to go by).

Considering the kids are reacting to the weather, too - ratty, argumentative and whiny - I thought it best to put a few grounding practises in place.

If you need a little grounding, you may want to consider the following:

  • lavender and frankincense essential oils : known for their calming, grounding properties, I recommend diffusing frankincense and adding a few drops of lavender oil to the bath in the evening. 
  • chamomile tea : I always reach for chamomile when I'm feeling anxious and irritable. My kids love it too (with a bit of honey) and I find that the act of stirring and sipping tea is relaxing in itself, regardless of the calming properties of chamomile. 
  • water : when it doubt, run a bath! It's the parenting mantra I always come back to when moods are foul and I'm at my wits end. Bubbles and lavender and ten minutes reprieve is absolutely necessary on windy days.
  • early dinner : because remember that an early dinner saves the witching hour. And delicious, nourishing foods are just the comfort that we crave when the weather has us all a fluster. Tonight's was lamb chops, mash and green beans but I'll often serve soup/broth and buttered bread when everyone needs to be settled. 
  • warmth : keeping everyone warm and protected from the wind is absolutely essential to protect sensitive ones. For me this means a thick, heavy jumper and a scarf and for the kids - warm feet, bonnets and a few cosy layers.
  • stillness : the best thing I can do is sit down and close my eyes and I'll always do this when Percy breastfeeds. Today I found it really hard to sit still - I felt jumpy, my nervous system in overdrive - so while Percy fed I closed my eyes and touched my thumb to my little finger (the earth element that promotes physical stability). And it works - it really does! I often do it before I fall asleep at night and if I'm in a yoga class and can't settle (my eyes twitch) I'll use it then, too. 
  • breath awareness : when home is getting loud and chaotic a few seemingly dramatic sighs to exhale and release is always worth a go. And then, stretch back into balasana - pose of a child, and literally fall into the earth; it's the best grounding practise of all. 


4 COMMENTS


Monday, July 25, 2016

three things that are making me happy


The smallest changes are the most profound, don't you think? I've been in a bit of a rut lately; a common mid-winter story in family households, most probably. But a few simple changes have had a big difference to my day-to-day and they're making me happy.

1. I've started taking my work to the library : I can easily work at home with a newborn and a crawling baby but as soon as Percy started walking and ferociously hitting the keyboard while I typed, it was time to explore other options. A few weeks ago, when the car was at the mechanic and Percy was with his grandma, I spent three incredibly productive hours at the local library. It wasn't particularly quiet, nor was I tucked into a booth surrounded by other studious folk...but somehow, being in the midst of book readers and fellow typers was continual motivation for me to write! A revelation! Working from home has its pluses (put on a load of washing when the words are stuck, make a cup of tea whenever you please, do a load of dishes between stories) but I find that being at home, surrounded by a relentless list of to-dos, is sometimes a really hard place to concentrate. I'm torn between getting chores done before the kids come home and getting the words on the page. The library offers me uninterrupted time to solely focus on my work - I'm there to write and do nothing else. I can't even make a cup of tea which, in hindsight, is often procrastination disguised as thirst. And you know what, I've rekindled my love of writing. Sometimes working from home with kids in tow is just plain, hard work. But there's a spark within me when I get to sit in the library and type because I'm there as a writer....and not a mother-running-a-house-who-is-also-trying-to-make-deadline. It's refreshing, to say the least.

2. I've started reading again : being surrounded by books does that to you. But also, I've found that while breastfeeding Percy I was spending far too much time scrolling on my phone which is often draining - on my eyes and my self-worth. But with a book in hand and pages to turn, I'm relaxed and delighted - it's twenty minutes, a few times a day, that I can spend indulging in a story and it's nourishing a part of me that's been very depleted. I used to be an avid reader - there was always a book on the go - on my bedside table, in my bag, next to me while I cooked. But motherhood leaves little space or time for novels and it's all too easy to loose your reading mojo. Thankfully it has returned, with a spirited vengeance! My recommendations? I adored The Rosie Project, Hope Farm was a gripping page-turner and I'm currently in the midst of the charming Bird by Bird. But if you're going to read one book this year, make sure it's When Breath Becomes Air. I read it in a day - couldn't put it down. It's one of the most eloquent books I've ever read. Written by a neurosurgeon as he faces a lung cancer diagnosis, it's heartbreaking, life-affirming and utterly unforgettable. 

3. I've replenished my house plants : what with a disruptive few months looking for a house, moving and then settling, the last thing on my mind was plants. But now that the sun is warming this north-facing home of ours and the furniture has found its place, I felt it was time for a nursery visit. Adding a little green really does lift the general mood and it's working wonders around here. 

What's making you happy today? Any book recommendations you would like to share?


14 COMMENTS


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

what's so bad about the colour pink?

Poet at her party | gorgeous floral dress by printebebe and face painting by the very talented party-hosting girls, Sahri and Emily

Somewhere along the way, the colour pink got a bad wrap. 

Perhaps we can blame Barbie who made pink so sickly sweet or the slew of toy manufacturers who opted to coat all manner of dolls and prams and tea sets in the candiest shade. 

When Poet was born I refused to fall into the girly trap of ghastly pink. Just because I had a daughter did not mean I had to conform to a certain colour palette! For her first year I dressed her in lots of neutrals with pops of red and blue and hints of pink here and there. But then she grew up and her independence shone through and all of a sudden she wanted to wear layers of pink - in all the shades, all of the time. 

I resisted, of course, and tempted her with blue florals and love hearts on her overalls, but she was adamant that pink was her favourite and therefore it should be a vital part of our everyday. Subsequently, pink is peppered throughout our home; she paints with it, draws with it and wears it in her hair.

But our experience with pink is so much more than just a girl wanting to wear her favourite colour. It's about the ideals I created for myself as a parent and the ones I've let go of because I realised how ridiculous they were. For some reason I thought there was something wrong with pink. If I dressed my daughter in pink was I falling into a pre-conceived gender trap? Was I adhering to stereotypes? 

Um, it's just a colour! And if she loves it, how dare I place all these rules and regulations on it. More often than not she chooses what she wears (although some days I need to add or subtract a layer to ensure it's seasonally appropriate) and sometimes she wears pink, sometimes she doesn't. Right now we're all about skirts and dresses and necklaces and hairbows but somedays she wants nothing more than a day in her PJs with mismatched socks to boot.

On Sunday just gone we hired the local hall for her birthday party and invited her friends along to celebrate. A few days earlier we went to the shops and bought pink streamers, pink bunting and pink balloons. I looked down at her in the supermarket aisle and soaked in her excitement; it was palpable, she was squealing with glee, her eyes were wide and bright and absolutely delighted. And all because she was choosing the party decorations that her heart desired. 

It was her 5th birthday and I let her paint the day pink. There were princess cups and pink cupcakes, face-painted flowers and glittery hair decorations, pink wrapping paper tied with pink ribbon. We danced to Taylor Swift and Frozen and when it was time to go we bellowed a passionate rendition of Annie's Tomorrow

I'm not sure what it is about (some) girls and the colour pink but if Poet loves it, I love it too.  

Tell me, is there a pink obsession in your household? Does it bother you or do you embrace it? 


22 COMMENTS


Sunday, July 17, 2016

29/52

"A portrait of my youngest children, once a week, every week, in 2016."

Poet: waiting for her friends to arrive at her party. 

Percy: safe in Popa's arms.





0 COMMENTS


Thursday, July 14, 2016

breastfeeding after the first year

There's so much talk about breastfeeding a newborn but not so much about feeding a one-year-old. It's presumed that it just gets easier and there's nothing much to discuss but considering I'm writing this after clearing a three-day-long blocked milk duct, I'd say it's a conversation worth having.

I'm heading into my fifth (not consecutive) year of breastfeeding. It doesn't deserve an award or recognition - it is what it is, it's just what I've done. I've been comforted by the connection of breastfeeding my babies and frustrated by the relentlessness of it. Indeed, it's often an all night affair and it takes its toll, especially when newborn hormones are long gone and nipples are tweaked and pulled and bitten. 

Percy is now 16months and while he doesn't feed as consistently as a newborn, he'll still feed at least eight times in a 24hour cycle - sometimes more, sometimes less. Lately I've noticed that the late night, long feeds are starting to irritate me; I often feel agitated when feeding him, especially if I'm tired. It's a potent reminder that breastfeeding really can drain you of your stores and leave you feeling depleted and exhausted. 

But still, I'm not ready to wean just yet. And if I'm honest, I'm feeling a lot stronger and healthier at this stage that I did when feeding Che and Poet (who didn't really gain an appetite for food until I weaned them). Percy is and always had been a food lover - he only really seeks breastmilk for comfort, even though I'm well aware of the fact that he's getting so much more than that every time he feeds. Studies show that breastfeeding toddlers provides them with 29% of daily energy requirements, 43% of protein requirements, 75% of Vitamin A requirements and 60% of Vitamin C requirements. 

Every time he feeds I think of it as a big immune boosting cuddle and I admit, it comforts me to know that it's the perfect remedy when he's unwell. Indeed, breastfeeding can heal sore hearts.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • wear supportive bras : I find that supportive maternity bras are just as important now as they were in the first few months of feeding. My essentials include this sleep bra (this is all I wear in the first few weeks after birth and continue to wear it at night now), this Esprit bra, this design from Hotmilk and this sports bra (because there's nothing wore than inadequate support when you're exercising). 
  • eat well : it's easy to forget just how important a good diet is when we're breastfeeding but we really do need to keep ourselves nourished so we don't end up completely depleted. For me that means lots of good fats and proteins as well as a top-up from Franjo's Kitchen cookies and a seasonal visit to my naturopath for some immune + energy boosting tonics. 
  • stay hydrated : breastfeeding = dehydration unless you drink lots of water and herbal teas. I drink a big glass of water before I go to bed at night and first thing in the morning and take my water bottle with me everywhere. But still, I find it hard to stay hydrated, especially at this time of year. 
  • release tension : movement is so important at every stage of breastfeeding to make sure there's no unnecessary tension in the upper back, shoulders and chest. When your prana (vital energy) is flowing freely, your milk will do the same! Movement, massage and non-restrictive clothing is also key to relieving blocked milk ducts. A simple technique that I always use to release tension and encourage energy to flow in and around the chest:  

Flowering Lotus

Stand upright and bring your fingertips to the centre of your chest. As you exhale, take your arms wide, bending your elbows and gently pushing your chest forward. On the inhalation bring your fingertips back to the centre of your chest. 

And when it is time for me to wean, Daniel will take over settling at night time, I'll cry because it's just another metaphorical cutting of the cord (bye bye babyhood) and I'll drink sage tea to dry up the milk. 

A few breastfeeding posts that may resonate:



8 COMMENTS


Monday, July 11, 2016

let's let go of simple living ideals

I recently answered some questions for a magazine article about simple living which left me feeling perplexed and in desperate need to clarify. The question that had me all a fluster went something along the lines of: How do you make simple living look so easy?

Oh goodness, please don't think for a second that I find it easy!

I may practise simplicity but in no way have I mastered it. I suppose it's a little bit like practising yoga; somedays it all just flows and at other times everything is clunky and disjointed. And when you're attempting to live simply and raise children and work freelance and keep a home ticking along, the clunk is far more pronounced than the flow.

If you came to my house you may frown upon the decidedly un-minimalist bookshelves or the laundry basket that is never not overflowing. You may wonder where the abundant vegie patch is (I've got grand plans for spring seedling but for now they're planted firmly in my head) or question the takeaway coffee cups that are most definitely not reusable. Sometimes the produce at the bottom of my fridge is beyond saving in any soup or broth so it goes in the bin because we don't have chooks or a compost. I'm proud to say that I use disposable nappies because the thought of more unnecessary washing is beyond ridiculous and scraping poo from cotton cloth may just send me batty. And the wardrobes that I decluttered in a moment of clarity have once again become higgledy-piggledy thanks to a house move and turning a blind eye.

That's the thing about simplifying; it's ongoing and always evolving and while it may serve you well for a while, your priorities can easily shift. But what is wonderful about living with such mindfulness is that one little change inevitably inspires the next. Sure, it's often a case of two steps forward, one step back and sometimes it all falls in a heap, but it's a productive heap all the same.

For me, the biggest leaps have been creating good intentions and subsequently changing habits. And knowing that when I lose a grip on a new-found habit, the world will keep on spinning regardless.

So many of my simple living goals are inspired by environmental awareness and adhering to a budget but they often require more time and effort than I have in the tank. And it's in those weary moments that I come to see simple living as letting go of ideals and being in the now, takeaway coffee cup in hand.

We're all doing our best.


14 COMMENTS


Sunday, July 10, 2016

28/52


"A portrait of my youngest children, once a week, every week, in 2016."

Or portraits, as the case may be. Sometimes culling is just too hard and I do love the story captured here. After days of dark skies and rain I took them to the beach while Daniel and Che went off to do their own thing. Happy as clams these two were. And Percy's little legs walked the entire length of the beach. They're growing up fast. Too fast.



11 COMMENTS

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