Wednesday, December 11, 2013

2013 in 2013 Update

As I undertook this challenge six months ago I didn't realise the amount of stress all the clutter in my house caused me. Clearing out and getting rid of things has been liberating. I feel lighter and life seems easier. Having less stuff means I have less to keep tidy and an easier house to clean. It has also revolutionised the way I think about stuff. I feel as if I have been freed from my possessions. They no longer have such a hold over me. I want less around me which means I ultimately need less also. This way of thinking stops me from buying useless things that I think I need but really don't, and makes me more thoughtful about the things I do buy. 

Trying to live a more simple life is a positive step forward but this simplicity is difficult to put into practice during special times of the year like Christmas. I enjoy buying my family and others presents. I don't think I'm particularly great at it, but I do enjoy it. I love seeing the surprise and joy on their faces from opening gifts. 

So this year, to make it all a bit easier, I have followed the four presents rule. 

Something to read
Something to wear
Something they need
Something they want

I used these four rules but there are others that I noticed around the web during recent searches, such as 'Something to do', 'Something spiritual', 'Something to listen to', etc. I took a few liberties this year and changed 'need' to 'toy' for my little ones, and also combined the gift to make it easier still. I assume that as my kids get older and their needs change so will the list, but it is a good guiding principle I feel. 

Anyway, the point is, I just want to keep it simple. I don't want to be adding copious amounts of things back into the house after working so hard to get rid of things. Especially, as to date I have been able to get rid of over 2013 items. In fact, during the summer break when Daniel is at home I am going to go through everything again and get rid of items that have not been used in the last 4-6 months. By about June/July next year (this is when I started this year) I will total up the items and see how I have done. I'll let you know the outcome :).


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Spring!

Every year I seem to write about Spring finally arriving. I think it is because it definitely has to be my favourite time of the year. I love the promise of all the wonderful things to come - home grown raspberries, apricots and pears, and this year hopefully some cherries, days at beach, BBQs with family and friends, and the promise of late nights where the light still shines. Plus, this year I won't be heavily pregnant throughout the whole thing so it will be wonderful.

I know some people don't like day-light savings but I am a huge fun. I'm always disappointed when it ends and feel sentimental when we have picked the last pieces of fruit off the trees, as it's a reminder of the cold weather to come. So, for now, I am going to focus on the lovely weather we are getting at the moment.

Nicholas and I spent a day outside recently putting sheep manure and straw under all of the fruit trees. Only a few months and the fruit will be ready to eat :).

Here is Nicholas working hard :).
 
The apricot tree
I need to make sure we cover the cherry tree before the birds get to them like last year.
                         



Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Upcycling! My first attempt.

As I have been cleaning out my wardrobe and getting rid of clothes I no longer wear for the '2013 things in 2013' de-cluttering challenge, I thought I would take on my own challenge and do some up-cycling for the first time.

Using this easy online tutorial I turned this jumper into a nice warm winter skirt.

                                   

I then turned a top I made for myself a few years ago into a little hoodie for Beth using a wonderful Peek-a-boo pattern.
 
  

Lastly, I resized this jumper for Nicholas. Sadly he was unwilling to get a photo in it for me.



I must admit, cutting into that first jumper was a bit of a nerve-wracking experience. I thought I would definitely stuff it up. Thankfully, that wasn't the case, and I am actually a little bit excited to see what new creations I can make for Nicholas and Beth of my old clothes.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

It's cold outside...

I hate to admit it but I am a bit of a home body. I'm not very adventurous, nor am I very brave. When life is going smoothly, I love staying at home. I have a few friends whose houses I feel very much at home in and when there, feel no urgency to return to my own. Daniel is a bit of a home body also, so on weekends if we don't make a concerted effort we could very well end up spending the weekend inside.

Nicholas on the other hand is your typical adventurous toddler and loves to be outside exploring. He would very happily go outside on rainy days and doesn't seem to notice too much if it is freezing cold. He gets upset when we have to leave the park or the beach and I struggle to get him to come inside from the backyard most times. For Nicholas the outside world is full of exciting new things to see and experience. For me, its cold and I have to use energy I don't have walking around and being active (I'm also innately lazy). It's a real challenge for me, but I feel I have been kindly rebuked about my attitude towards being outside after reading this post: Outdoor Play in Australia: Why has it become such a challenge to early childhood educators?

As a kid, growing up in the Western Australia, my sisters and I spent most of  our time outside. We walked or rode our bikes everywhere we could. We spent hours in our backyard and in the bush. We were free. Free to roam around as we pleased. Free to explore without parents watching over our shoulders making sure we are ok.

I hate to put it out there but this century feels different. Everyone is hyper vigilant. There are predators at every corner, and we are expected to be with our children 24/7. You hear of children who are 9, 10 or 11 years old being allowed to walk to school by themselves, or playing at the park by themselves and people are outraged and shocked. I remember this news story from a few years ago about a mum in New York letting her 9-year-old son go on the subway by himself. There was a huge fuss about it. 'How could a parent be so irresponsible?' Are they irresponsible? When I was nine I rode my bike to school and home again without parental supervision on a daily basis. Was my mum being irresponsible or was she just showing her trust in me? 

We worry about the future effects of the Internet and technology on our children, and yet we limit their time and potential freedom spent in the outside world. We expect our children to develop responsibility for themselves, but we don't give them the freedom to do so. For myself, it is just easier to have Nicholas inside where everything is controlled and relatively safe. It is also warmer and flat (our yard has a bit of a slope, and I have to be out there as we don't have a fence yet). 

For Nicholas' sake (and in the future Beth's too) though, for his health and well-being, for his cognitive and creative development I am going to work on spending more time outside. It's really not that cold in winter compared to other parts of the world, so what am I complaining about. I have warm clothes, wet weather gear, gloves, socks and gumboots. I just need to suck it up and deal with it. For Nicholas' sake I am going to work hard at being an outdoors type person. We will go on walks in the bush, we will go park and get our feet wet on freezing cold days. We will stay up late and look at the stars. We will walk up steep mountains and sleep outdoors. 

We will explore the world around us, not just from the window in our lounge room or in front of the TV. And when he's ready, he will go off and explore it for himself. It is only through our experiences with the natural world around us that we can develop a real appreciation for it, and an environmental conscience that makes us want to take care of it for generations to come. 

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to from only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I can to die, discover that I had not lived." - Henry David Thoreau. 

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.” -Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl. 


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Feed me I'm growing!

Having a baby who sleeps well and is otherwise content makes weeks like the ones we've just experienced really difficult. These past few weeks have seen Beth developing enormously. She is attempting to roll over, grabbing at everything she can, really focusing on things and starting to interact more with us everyday. She has also been growing.

I honestly forgot how difficult it is, for parents and babies alike, to go through a growth spurt or developmental leap where they discover new things. Although this is a period of exploration for them, it is also a time of uncertainty as they begin to interact more with the environment around them. To feel secure they latch onto the parent (literally at times) and don't let go, and a clingy baby is never easy. The crying and lack of sleep wears you down and the whole period seems as if it will never end.

These last few weeks for me have been a time of humility and training. A time to ask others for help, or to just say 'yes' when it is offered. Too often I say no to offers of help because I don't want to look like I can't do it on my own. This is wrong. I shouldn't be putting so much pressure on myself, and I should be grateful for the kindness I am shown by others.

It is also a time for patience. A time to hold my baby and carry her around all day if necessary, because that is simply what she needs to get through this. I need to wade through the difficult waters so we can make it through the other side stronger and more tightly bonded together. Some days are harder than others, and it doesn't take long before that feeling of weakness starts to take over. Thankfully, God is my Rock and I can lean on him during these difficult times where I feel exceptionally lonely and overwhelmed.

Matthew 11:28-30
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is east and my burden is light."

This is such a great verse to remember during difficult times like these, especially when I struggle to make it through the first few hours in the morning, let alone the day. The only way I can make it through is by God's grace, strength, guidance and wisdom.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

20 years in music


There is a temptation in music polls to vote for songs you like which you know are likely to rate well, rather than honestly voting for your absolute favourites. Unfortunately, whatever you do, The Verve will still somehow make it into the top 10. I'm the sort of person who listens to a whole CD at a time, so picking out individual songs is frustrating. Anyway, all of this is to explain why nothing I voted for made it into the Hottest 100 of the last 20 years. The good news is that unlike democracy in the real world, nobody dies because of music polls.

Here's what I put down...

A Perfect Circle - The Hollow 
The genius of Billy Howerdel's composition is a kind of instrumental minimalism and carefully engineered texture.

Pearl Jam - Thin Air
I spent highschool listening to Ten, but this may be one of their best.

Powderfinger - D.A.F

Smashing Pumpkins - Cherub Rock
So many late nights working on uni projects, listening to Siamese Dream and Pisces Iscariot.

The Cinematic Orchestra - To Build a Home
Reprising the D A E motif again in 'That Home' brackets Ma Fleur into an album that wants to be played end-to-end. It's a beautifully understated record.

Modest Mouse - 3rd Planet
I'm trying to limit myself to one song per band, but choosing a favourite Modest Mouse song is like being asked to choose a favourite child.

Mid Youth Crisis - Happiness and Authority
I guess it was either this or Between The Lies for the Network sample. My mum used to call MYC 'that shouty band'.

Audioslave - Cochise

Godspeed You Black Emperor - East Hasting
I know, this is more of a movement than a song. What a chilling build-up.

David McEldowney - Stupid People
I don't know how many times I heard this song before he recorded it. All that time, this song wanted to be slightly more reggae.

Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

A Silver Mount Zion - 13 Angels Standing Guard 'Round the Side of Your Bed

Neutral Milk Hotel - Oh Comely
When Fran├žois described music as 'really important', he didn't mean it in the hollow, critical post-modern sense, but the personally meaningful thing-that-describes-life sense. This song was important to him; I couldn't listen to it for about two years after he died.

Matthew Dewey - Orchestral Suite No. 1
This was a triumph. The English language is missing a word which means "the vicarious pride one feels when a friend achieves something great".

Ben Harper - Forgiven

Muse - Hysteria
Took me ages to transcribe this into my ancient Nokia brick as a monophonic ringtone.

Apocalyptica - Faraway
Not bad for a Metallica cover band.

Michael Franti and Spearhead - We Don't Stop
I didn't really know Michael Franti's work at all (well, other than Television the Drug of the Nation)  before seeing him with Spearhead at Falls Festival 2003. Clare and I listened to 'Everyone Deserves Music' a lot when we started going out.

Radiohead - Like Spinning Plates

The Beautiful Girls - Let's Take the Long Way Home

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Challenges!

I love setting myself a good challenge. However, seeing the challenge all the way through is another challenge in itself. I am eager at the beginning but start to crumble a few weeks in when I lose a bit of the enthusiasm.  For instance, I was super keen when I started my sewing 'to-do-list' challenge but now that I have made a few things, I have unconsciously decided to take a little rest for a while.   One reason for my sudden lack of enthusiasm is the fact that my sewing room is so messy at the moment I can barely walk to the sewing table, let alone move the chair to sit in front of it. Which is why this next challenge is so necessary.
 
The challenge I am going to set myself till December is to tidy-up and declutter my house. '2013 in 2013' is the challenge set and designed by Slow Your Home blogger, Brooke. So in 2013 I am going to simplify my life by getting rid of 2013 items in my house. These will be items that are unused, and that take up valuable space in my life and weigh me down. I am super excited that I found this website as I wouldn't have been able to do it myself. 

Recently, I have been finding our house difficult to live in. I am constantly tidying up but it is never clean. Our house is small, so it quickly becomes messy and cluttered. The clutter makes the house feel smaller, and the smaller it seems the more stress I feel. 

I have come to recognise in the last few weeks that the state of house is very often linked to my mood.  When it is messy the whole place feels chaotic and it feels like I am control of nothing. By removing 2013 items from the house in 2013 I am hoping that the house will easier to manage and maintain, and that it will begin feel lighter. By simplifying my house, I am hoping to feel less stressed. And the less stress I have, the better I am to be around.

As I am starting the challenge a bit late, I am not following the challenge solely month by month. Instead, I have printed off the check-lists for the last six months and will clean up areas and keep a tally for the items I get rid of as I feel inspired. For instance, these last few days have seen me cleaning up in the hallway, which include areas from both January (the entry way) and June (the linen closet). By breaking down the tasks like this and not seeing it as something I have to complete quickly (which I would find super stressful), I am hoping I won't lose my enthusiasm and my mind will stay focused on task. Hopefully, it will lead to good outcomes and by the end of 2013 I will have gotten rid of 2013 items that create stress in this house. 

Wish me luck. I will keep you updated :). 


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Hottest 20 of 2000!

Running every year since 1993, Triple J's Hottest 100 is Australia's biggest music popularity poll. I really enjoy spending my Australia Day listening to the countdown, but I only attended my first Hottest 100 party in 2003 after I had been in Tassie for a year. Before this I had not had much, if any, exposure to Triple J. The town I grew up in was so rural it didn't get reception. Instead, I grew up on a diet of radio-friendly pop and mainstream music. My taste in music has improved dramatically, although I'm not sure my Dad would agree.

Anyway, this year marks 20 years since Triple J started the annual Hottest 100, hence the out-of-season 20 year retrospective Hottest 100. Having to choose 20 songs from 2000 has been a hard task*. It has been also quite time consuming. I choose songs that 1.) left an impression, 2.) I had listened to over and over again, and can repeat all the lyrics, and 3). brought back some kind of memory, be it happy or sad.

Based around the above criteria, I ended up with 60 songs on my list. So came the difficult job of cutting the list down by 40 songs. With great thought and consideration, I am now going to share with you my top 20 songs of the last 20 years. I hope people don't judge me too harshly on my decisions. Daniel is+ also going to share with you his top 20 with you. I wonder if our lists will have any common songs?

*I know the rules said that you where able to vote for any song within the time frame of 1993 to 2013, but to make it simpler, I only choose songs from the Triple J's hottest 100 lists from the last 20 years. If I was to make a list with any song in this time frame I think the list would probably look quite different but that's a post for another day.

2010 Birds of Tokyo: Plans

2008 Children Collide: Farewell Rocketship



Regina Spektor: Real Love 2007
I found it really hard to choose just one Regina Spektor song as I am a fan of all her songs.



2007 Feist: 1234

2005 Xavier Rudd: Messages

2005 Clare Bowditch: Divorcee by 23

2005 The Beautiful Girls: Lets Take The Long Way Home

Daniel mixed this song and Pearl Jam's ... and proposed to me by getting down on one knee, playing his guitar and singing this to me...how can it not be a favourite :)

2005 Emiliana Torrini: Sunny Road

Such a beautiful song of longing.

2003 Hilltop Hoods: Nosebleed Section
This is an odd one for as I am not a massive fan of hip hop but I choose it because it brings back great memories from the many Falls Festivals I've attended where they have played, especially the first in 2006.

2004 Lior: This Old Love

2004 The Waifs: Bridal Train
I first heard this song while I was doing the washing up in 2006. I cried.


2004 The Polyphonic Spree: Hold Me Now


2002 The Waifs: London Still
Love the Waifs. This was the first song of their's that I ever heard, and it's still an old favourite of mine.

2001 Augie March: There Is No Such Place
Usually One Crowded Hour is the favourite Augie March song. This one is much more beautiful and whimsical.

2001 Muse: New Born
Saw these guys live in 2010. It was awesome!

1999 Powderfinger: These Days
You can't not have a Powderfinger song in your list. They are a truely great and talented Australian band.


1999 Red Hot Chilli Peppers: Around The World

1997 The Living End: Prisoner of Society
Great for all those angsty teenage years :).

1997 Radiohead: Karma Police

1996 Bush: Glycerine

Did you vote? If not, what are your favourite songs from the last 20 years.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

12 weeks already!

Well, the first 12 weeks are almost over. I can't believe how quickly it has just passed by. I know everyone makes this comment, but it's true. In some ways I can't believe it has only been 12 weeks because it feels as if Beth has always been here with us. I certainly can't imagine a life without her in it now.

People say the first 12 weeks/3 months are the most difficult. It's a time of transition in which you and your baby are getting to know each other, the sleep deprivation is extreme, trying to get into some sort of routine can be difficult, and getting your head around how much life has changed can take a while. This was certainly the case with Nicholas, and it took me a long time to adjust from having no children to having one, but surprisingly going from one child to two has been quite simple. This time round I didn't get to have the same amount of time to adjust. As soon as I got home from the hospital, life just continued on as previously, and Beth just had to fit in. This meant attending all our previous activities, such as Mainly Music, swimming, kindergym etc, but this time with a baby in tow. Thankfully, Beth is such a relaxed child that taking her out doesn't really present itself with any issues. As long as she has milk on hand, she is fine.

The most difficult thing I have found about this whole transition has been Nicholas. He has been super rough with Beth at times. The first eight weeks were the most difficult, with pinching and hitting being his main forms of expressing his anger at Beth being around. I didn't really expect this kind of behaviour. He has always been such a gentle boy, so I was unprepared for it. The most helpful parenting resource I have found throughout this time has been Janet Lansbury's blog Evaluating Child Care, especially this blog post: No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame, and there are many others that have been helpful too. This post in particular has provided me with insight and clarity in dealing with Nicholas' rough behaviour. Most of all, I appreciate how gentle and yet firm one can be while setting boundaries, and all without using spankings, manipulation, punishments and timeouts. This way of disciplining my toddler really resonates with me, as I know I could easily become angry instead. It challenges those first reactions, and requires me to have a calm and respectful attitude. Daniel and I have been consistent in applying these principles and I feel that in these last few weeks Nicholas has really developed an understanding of what we want from him. He is more gentle with Beth, and even interacting with her more (like placing little toys in her lap). I see their relationship developing and it is beautiful. I am very grateful for Janet Lansbury's posts and the way they are helping me become the parent I want to be.


I can't believe that next week I am going to have a two-year-old and a 12-week-old. I never imagined I would be in this position.