Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Out of the Archives: Wide Load

Originally posted May 2011

If we don't want to take the car, this is how we travel, me and my three. Our Mountain Buggy Duo is a tough machine. Fully laden, there's 10 kilos of baby in each seat, plus another 18 on the footrest when the Showgirl tires of scootering, which is often. Not to mention the shopping, the scooter, the travelling snacks...

We get some funny looks. Bumpy roads are tricky, as are local footpaths on garbage bin day.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Out of the Archives: NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!

Originally posted September 2011

Many days - most days, in truth - it feels like a battle of wills. She who is four versus she who is 30...something, clashing all the day long. Please eat your breakfast. Please use your spoon. Please come and get dressed. Please help pack away your pencils. It occurred to me, sometime around two (years old) that one of the things I struggle with most is hearing 'no' all the time. Having endless requests turned down politely, refused defiantly, ignored totally. No, no, no, no, no. And though we have happy days where it feels like our goals align, there are so many stretches of day after day where her ears seem to stop working and I'm on the hamster wheel of shouting, then feeling bad for shouting, then shouting again, then feeling bad again...

She is so spirited, a little fire burning in her. And on the days when she behaves beautifully, trying so eagerly to please me, that spark is somehow diminished. Because her natural inclination is to do as she wants, follow her imagination, meander about in conversation and in thought. And that means, when you're four, that boring requests like "pick up your fork and eat your dinner" or "say goodbye to the little dog and come home now" have to be ignored. And a mummy who has asked for the same thing a dozen times and been ignored or refused several dozen more can sometimes lose her cool.

Yet, here's the clincher - everything's easier when I bend and flow with her rhythm rather than trying to force her to fall into step with mine. She is so alive, so sociable, so curious, I fear that 'fixing' the part of her that is defiant, disobedient, sometimes downright naughty, will damage those other qualities. Do I want the perfectly well-behaved, compliant child who's too afraid to speak lest she say the wrong thing, or do I want my kid, she who is four, who'll stop and chat to anyone, and whose enthusiasm for life can't help but bubble over, even when the more socially correct thing to do is to sit quietly? Obviously that question's a rhetorical one.

Today I listened to this podcast that has been waiting on my iPhone for months, and it was exactly what I needed to hear. Psychologist Hara Estroff Marano talks about the over-supervision of children and how little time and space we give them to play, make their own mistakes and solve their own problems. And she hit a chord with me when she talked about wanting her children to have a backbone - as in, she didn't mind if they answered back, if they were outspoken, if they expressed strong opinions. She said compliance wasn't high up on her list of values.

And I think, until listening to this, compliance has been up there for me. Who is this four-year-old who lives under my roof and still thinks she can defy me? Fall into line, kid! Perhaps it's because I always fell into line. I was so polite. I didn't want to do the wrong thing. I didn't want to step on any toes.

Well, I'm removing 'compliance' from my list. At least, I'm going to start trying. I still want her to understand respect and good manners and courtesy. I want her to be kind and compassionate and to have empathy. But I'm going to stop demanding obedience all the time.

 I want her to be strong and gutsy and funny and vulnerable, and to learn and appreciate my and her dad's values. I want her life to be a series of great bursts of happy, and for her to have resilience against any sad, angry, hurt, disappointed or scared that falls in between. But ultimately, I want to give her the resources to make her own decisions, recover from setbacks and follow her own path.

So when she tells me, as she did recently, that she wants to be three things when she grows up - a princess, a "doctor-nurse who drives an ambulance" and a farmer's wife - I'll say, "Go get 'em, sunshine."

:: I'm hoping lots of people listen to the podcast and take on the ideas, because if I ever work up the courage to open the door and send my girls out into the street for a morning of unsupervised play (like in the good old days when we were young), it'd be nice to think there'll be some other kids out there to play with...

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Out of the Archives: Vintage Handcrafts

Originally posted August 2011

Having recently discovered the fun that can be had op-shopping, I've started to amass a small but charming collection of vintage craft books. This recent find from 1972 is a true delight, with a variety of "novelty articles to sew", some smocking and crochet, as well as an assortment of "decorative articles from tulle". I was drawn in by the author's rather  lofty claims in the introduction - "How many times have you bought a handcraft book and have only used one article from it? In this book there is a use for every article." Every article? Really?

At first I wasn't sure if I'd have much use for this tulle swan, but the author Mrs Harris suggests it would be lovely for a wedding, especially if made in a colour to match the bridesmaids' dresses. I'll keep it in mind for my friend's wedding in December. I'm thinking peach tulle, Amanda.

I don't own a great many pairs of stockings, but the few I have would fit beautifully into this useful stocking bag. Mrs Harris suggests hanging it on a hook in an inconspicuous part of the bedroom, but I say something as classy as this should be out on display, perhaps somewhere near the front door.

Who wants their Mixmaster uglying up the kitchen bench? Better to cover it in something that is far more aesthetically pleasing and not cluttering in the slightest. I wonder if it works for KitchenAids too...

And this one's pure genius! My kitchen string is always a shambles, getting knotted up and twisted around the clingwrap and alfoil in the drawer. Wouldn't this not-even-slightly-freaky-looking monkey string holder solve all that? There's a doll face version too, but I reckon the monkey wins hands down. Now if only I can find 1 plastic monkey face...

Dispatch From the Tropics: Singapore

Temperature: High 30s.
Humidity: About 700%.
Dumplings consumed: 64.
Times changed in and out of swimming cossies: 217.

Clearly too busy lying by/in pool to blog. Have scheduled some 'out of the archives' posts while we struggle our way through five days in Thailand. 

Our little village in the highlands feels a million miles away.

Monday, October 22, 2012

It Came True!

A bit over a year ago I wrote this post, back when we lived in Sydney. Quick, go and have a look and come back. I have something to show you.

My sprawling country garden has a grand magnolia as its centrepiece...

..some lovely fruit trees that did indeed burst into flower as soon as winter let her guard down...

..and great swathes of unruly jasmine that, although they have flowered much later than in Sydney, are currently filling the air with the scent of my childhood.

And, yes, another magnolia for good measure.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sunday Lovelies

Some lovelies before the holiday begins:
1) The jasmine is finally in bloom. Its scent transports me instantly to my childhood.
2) Potted chives going crazy.
3) Some final pieces falling into place before the big shop launch.
4) Retro mama-made shorts. Makes her go faster.
5) A sneaky last-minute addition to the suitcase.
6) A carpet of tiny flowers after a windy day.

Wishing you all a lovely week ahead x

And before I forget, I've signed on for Christina's wonderful ornament swap. Tonight's the last night to throw your hat in, so head on over and read all about it.

Friday, October 19, 2012

this moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.

Via Soulemama.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Yarn Along: The Holiday Edition (and a winner)

I'm between books and between knitting projects, and something tells me things will stay that way till I'm on the plane. Please, don't ruin the elaborate fantasy I've woven in which I knit and read all the way to Singapore while three small children sleep the trip away, behaving immaculately in the 27 minutes they're awake. 

The two books in the photo above represent my holiday reading. They've been waiting patiently for their time. The two handknit hats are winging their way to a little girl in Queensland, who's about to embark on a very exciting adventure to New York. 

Stella and Pearl did a little modelling before I packaged them up. They know woollen bonnets won't be required where we're going.

My holiday knitting plans are a bit fluid at the moment. Initially I thought I'd just keep working on the hats, but I've decided to leave them at home and indulge in something fresh and different (for me). On the radar is this lovely shawl which would be the perfect gift for a dear friend whose birthday is fast approaching. I may have even gone so far as to order some beautiful squishy organic yarn today, because, of course, there was nothing appropriate in the stash. 

And the lucky winner of last week's giveaway, 'How Tea Cosies Changed the World', is Kylie from Canada. Congratulations, Kylie. Email me your address and I'll ship it off to you. I look forward to seeing an elaborately adorned teapot on your blog sometime soon! 

Joining in with the Yarn Along because it's Wednesday and that's just the way it goes.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Summery Skirts

This time next week we will be in the air en route to Singapore for two weeks holiday, with a trip to Thailand in the middle. It feels like we've only just stopped wearing stockings and boots and jumpers and coats and handknit bonnets every day of the week. Now we have to turn around and prepare for heat and humidity, and our wardrobes are somewhat inadequate

First on the list - skirts, times three.

For the little ones, I loosely followed the Lazy Days Skirt pattern, but used a fabric strip in lieu of ribbon around the bottom. All of the fabrics were remnants found at the oppy. And for Lola's, I copied a tiered skirt she likes to wear, and used a pretty floral sheet from the stash.

(I've been enjoying all of the KCWC - Kids Clothing Week Challenge - posts around the place this past week. I'm officially calling this the KGTARHPCC - Kids Go To A Really Hot Place Clothing Challenge. Next up, shorts...)

Monday, October 15, 2012

"Life Goes On In This Condition"

I spent much of today wondering what I might write here tonight. So much to tell, and yet nothing new. Days long and full falling one into the next. 

Spring vanished without trace last week (a snow fall!), and now it's back with a vengeance, looking an awful lot like summer might. 

I deny how much older my two-year-olds suddenly seem as they play together, chatting like big kids, coming to me with questions on behalf of the other, talking about the things they'll be able to do "when I'm older."

And the resident philosopher, aged five, sees me inhale deeply at some usual dinnertime shenanigans, sighs and says, "Life goes on in this condition."


Friday, October 12, 2012

this moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.

Via Soulemama.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Our Spring Garden

It's our first spring here in this house, in this village in the country. From the blossoming fruit trees right down to the weeds, she's putting on a mighty fine show.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Yarn Along and a Giveaway!!!

One tiny summer baby knit complete! It's in lovely, soft, drapey organic cotton, and I took a gamble and made it in the 6 month size, based on prior knowledge of the above-average height of both parents and rather hefty birth weights of his older siblings. He's only a couple of weeks old, this boy, but I reckon he'll be able to wear his new vest all summer long, even if it does reach all the way down to his skinny little knees.

Almost as exciting as a new baby in a handknit is a giveaway! I was lucky enough to be given a second copy of this gorgeous book after buying my own copy at the launch back in May. If you haven't heard of Loani Prior, she wrote 'Wild Tea Cosies' and 'Really Wild Tea Cosies', and this book, 'How Tea Cosies Changed the World', is the third in the series. It's not just a book of knitting patterns but a hilarious and wonderful read as well. I chuckled my way through it, I admit. I've heard of knitting patterns that make you cry, but how often does one make you laugh? There are 18 spectacular tea cosy patterns as well as a scarf, a beret, a bag and more. Just in time for Christmas, these would make wonderful gifts for tea-loving friends.
So I've got one copy to give away, and I hope all of you knitters, and even you mysterious and strange non-knitters, will love it. All you need to do is be a follower of Typically Red (click over there on the right) and leave me a comment here before next Wednesday. I'll happily post worldwide. Good luck!

Ravelry notes for the tiny vest here.
Yarn Along here.
My dear friend Briony, mother of Max, if you have read this far, surprise! The vest is on its way x


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