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A cracking read...

A cracking read…

I just finished reading The Martian, in record time! It is a cracker of a read, and though heavy on the science and engineering (which I loved!), also tells a tale of resilience. Filled to the brim with humour and adversity, it made me think a lot about how reliant we can become on others.

For our happiness, for comfort, for love, for inspiration.

We are truly sociable creatures at times aren’t we?

In parallel, I think that it can sometimes be a bit of a trap to always be surrounded by others.

Ask a busy professional, mother, volunteer, school teacher or friend, what is it that you crave?

Alone time. Space. Quiet.

Time to think, ponder, muse and let your mind wander.

Some of my best ideas come to me when I am alone.  Whether it’s walking, listening to music, lying in bed at night reading, alone time can give you the space you need to think.

When was the last time you carved out a bit of the day to be alone?

Enjoy xx

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My little tribe taking time out to think...

My little tribe taking time out to think…

As we grow older, it can get harder and harder to carve out time in the day to think.

Reflect on life, how things are going, what went well, what went pear-shaped.  All the healthy reflective thinking we are meant to do in order to grow as individuals, as humans.

Sometimes, life can get in the way.  Life can be complex, boring, monotonous, crazy and altogether unpredictable.

None of which is conducive to thinking.

One of my favourite ways to think and reflect is to ask myself a series of questions.  The lovely talented Pip Lincolne does this by way of ‘Taking Stock’.

This month I am breaking the mould and taking stock at the beginning of the month…

Making : cushions and gorgeous sundresses ready for This Grand Life
Cooking : veges, new types of the kids to try (current faves are asparagus and corn)
Drinking : loads of cold water (it’s sunny Brisbane folks!!)
Reading: Country Style, How to Decorate, Lonely Planet’s Guide to Australia
Wanting: annuals for the garden
Looking: at beachy holiday destinations
Playing: Scrabble, family is becoming addicted!  Bunch of nerds that we are…
Deciding: What role I would like to tackle back in my science/ corporate career
Wishing: my gorgeous puppies would stop chewing…everything!
Enjoying: my garden, the hard work is paying off!
Waiting: for the right house to come along
Liking: the jacaranda blooms in the backyard, a carpet of purple!
Wondering: if I should paint a watercolour series inspired by our family farm
Loving: the warm weather…most of the time!
Pondering: career moves, there are some interesting roles around!
Considering: buying a house…again…yikes!
Buying: house plants, succulents, ferns, it’s a jungle in here!
Watching: Restoration Australia…oh my goodness, it’s brilliant!  Fab show hosted by Sibella Court
Hoping: the school year comes to a quiet uneventful end for the tribe
Marvelling: at how tall my little tribe are getting…I am fast becoming the shortest in the family!
Cringing: at the hating on social media.  What on earth are people thinking posting nastiness?
Needing: to keep going to the gym, am getting to love it again!
Questioning: old house, new house, renovated or not?
Smelling: the garden, loving the change in scent as all of the flowers bloom
Wearing: white shorts and Birkenstocks, a lot!
Following:
Noticing: the kids taking an interest in big issues, refugees, world conflicts, some hefty issues to think about for young minds.
Knowing: I need to stop procrastinating and decide on that beachy holiday…stat!
Thinking: about how to best balance work, my gorgeous family, and my creative pursuits
Admiring: positive creative types (Clare Bowditch, Pip Lincolne, Dawn French) and ambitious corporate types in my life (will keep those names to myself)
Sorting: through toys, it appears they have bred and now we have a bucket-load which are making their way to new homes before Christmas
Getting: ready for another creative market…soon!
Bookmarking: the Halcyon House website, seriously cool folks
Coveting: vintage finds, I need to find a spare weekend to do some quality rummaging
Disliking: negativity, I seriously do not understand why people feel the need to write bad/nasty/awful comments!
Opening: a new section on my Etsy shop…watercolours and prints!  Yay!
Giggling: at the awesome pearls of wisdom which come from my gorgeous six year old. ‘Mum, you look the same as when you were young, except for your crinkly eyes, they look more smiley now!’  I will take that as a compliment and move on.
Feeling: excited about the end of the year, and a wee bit nervous about heading back to work
Snacking: carrots and hummus, blueberries and cashews, on high rotation.
Helping: out at school whenever I can.  It’s a busy time of the year!
Hearing: Mark Ronson, kids fave CD on the way to school

 

Here’s a list via the talented Pip Lincolne (Meet me at Mikes) for you…  Takes some time out to think, and if you are feeling like sharing post a comment with your answers, or a link to your blog post…

Making :
Cooking :
Drinking :
Reading:
Wanting:
Looking:
Playing:
Deciding:
Wishing:
Enjoying:
Waiting:
Liking:
Wondering:
Loving:
Pondering:
Considering:
Buying:
Watching:
Hoping:
Marvelling:
Cringing:
Needing:
Questioning:
Smelling:
Wearing:
Following:
Noticing:
Knowing:
Thinking:
Admiring:
Sorting:
Getting:
Bookmarking:
Coveting:
Disliking:
Opening:
Giggling:
Feeling:
Snacking:
Helping:
Hearing:

 

Enjoy xx

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One of our fave charts...stuck on the fridge!

One of our fave charts…stuck on the fridge!

Over a coffee with a lovely girlfriend this week, I started to think about the fab tips I have collected over 11 years of parenting.

Each time I heard/saw/read a good tip over the years, I have trialled it and if it’s a winner I have added it to our morning routine.  With four kids and two adults to get ready each day these save us all a lot of time and stress.

So because I think you guys are my friends too, here are a few of my faves:

  • Bag drop stop – create a bag drop spot. Maybe it’s near the front door, maybe it’s a hat-rack, maybe it’s a combo!  Whatever you decide, make it the kids job to drop their bag off/pick it up from there.  You can even add a lap-top charge station if you need to.  Add a spot for hats and shoes and you are ready to roll.  Here’s some pics for ideas…
  • Uniform shop – put all of the school uniforms in one spot.  I wash then hang uniforms straight up on a coat hanger and onto a small cloths rack. We have a basket nearby for school socks.  We also keep sports/dance/swim bags here too – packed and ready to go.
  • Lunchbox production line – get the kids involved! Make it the kids job to place lunch boxes on the bench when they arrive home.  In the morning, have snacks in one container, fruit in a bowl,  and let the kids assemble their own lunch.  This helps each child to take responsibility for what in their lunchbox and you can chat about healthy choices at the same time…winning!  Here’s some lunch-box inspiration.
  • Ban technology/ TV – no tv/iPad/phone/internet/devices until everyone is dressed and ready to go.  Stay firm on this one, let the kids know that technology is a no-go until there are dressed and ready.  Lead by example – no Facebook/ phones for adults either until you are ready too!
  • Breakfast all round. Make breakfast part of the morning routine, smoothies, toast, boiled eggs, cereal…whatever works with your crew!  Just make it simple, quick and as healthy as you can.  No breakfast equals grumpy kids (and grown-ups!).

I am sure you could add to the list!  What are your fave tips to get moving in the morning?

Enjoy xx

 

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taking stock on life

taking stock on life

I’ve carved out some time this week to sit and reflect on life.

Taking the time to think about how everything is going using a fab list from the lovely Pip Lincolne at Meet Me at Mikes, here’s my list…

Making : a super cool hoodie vest for my littlest poppet (because of her broken wing)
Cooking : zucchini slice and delish roast lamb
Drinking : Tea because I have given up coffee
Reading: Craft for the soul, New Scientist, Wendy (the stunt chicken)
Wanting: To spend more time with my gorgeous kids
Looking: at where I can spend some time at the beach for holidays
Playing: nicely with others…life is too short for nastiness!
Deciding: what the end of the year will bring (big questions here folks!)
Wishing: I could see my sisters more often!
Enjoying: catching up with old friends, good for the soul
Waiting: for some new books I ordered to arrive!
Liking: my new winter boots, make that loving!
Wondering: if I should have a big party for my 40th?
Loving: bearing able to wear a jackets/scarves again…thanks freezing weather!
Pondering: what to do over the Christmas holidays
Considering: subscribing to Frankie?  I love it, and it’s sometimes hard to find.
Buying: books!  Australian Geographic – fab pictures, interesting stories
Watching: Interstellar with my littlest bloke, it’s our new all-time fave.
Hoping: that my littlest poppet’s arm heals quickly!
Marvelling: at how quickly my kidlets are growing
Cringing: at some of the nastiness I see online, be nice folks!
Needing: time with family.  There is never enough is there?
Questioning: everything!  Now I see where the kids get it from!
Smelling: the gorgeous vanilla candle in the study whenever I am writing
Wearing: opaque tights a lot.  Makes me wish I lived in a cold climate.
Following: Pip Lincolne (a ray of sunshine!), Mrs Woog and Emma Watson
Noticing: I have more energy since giving up coffee.  What??
Knowing: more about evolution (current topic I am teaching), go Darwin!
Thinking: about fixed vs growth mindsets
Admiring: gorgeous Australian wool! Scarves, jumpers with elbow patches…sigh!
Sorting: kids clothes (this is never-ending with our largish family)
Getting: ready to quit sugar
Bookmarking: new patterns to try
Coveting: an old table (all that history!) and church pews for the dining room.
Disliking: the cold – except for the opaque tights bit
Opening: messages from old mates, and laughing at the memories
Giggling: a lot at my littlest poppet stretching her vocabulary and sometimes ‘muffing words
Feeling: happier now, thanks to old friends and the rugrats
Snacking: on carrots and hommus and cup-a-soups
Helping: Little L practice reading, I love picture books (Wendy, Meg & Mog, Goodnight Moon)
Hearing: fab tracks from the Offspring, Green Day…good times!

 

Here’s a list for you!

Making :
Cooking :
Drinking :
Reading:
Wanting:
Looking:
Playing:
Deciding:
Wishing:
Enjoying:
Waiting:
Liking:
Wondering:
Loving:
Pondering:
Considering:
Buying:
Watching:
Hoping:
Marvelling:
Cringing:
Needing:
Questioning:
Smelling:
Wearing:
Following:
Noticing:
Knowing:
Thinking:
Admiring:
Sorting:
Getting:
Bookmarking:
Coveting:
Disliking:
Opening:
Giggling:
Feeling:
Snacking:
Helping:
Hearing:

 

Enjoy xx

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Fab print (available here https://www.etsy.com/au/listing/63242982/feels-good-to-get-some-stuff-done-11-x)

Fab print (available here https://www.etsy.com/au/listing/63242982/feels-good-to-get-some-stuff-done-11-x)

Last week I got a fantastic piece of advice from a lecturer.

It went like this…

Most people, tend to put things off because they don’t think they can get the job done, or are worried that when they are done, what they have created will be poorly made/ crafted/ be a little bit rubbish.

His advice, just get into it. Prepare well for what you are about to do.

Then role up your sleeves and get stuck in.

Simple as that!

Chances are that what you make, create, write or do will be just fine.  It may even be brilliant! You won’t know though if you never get started.

Though it doesn’t feel that way does it.

Sometimes, we put things off for a whole bunch of reasons, kids, illness, life getting in the way.

Sometimes though, we just need to roll up our sleeves and get stuck in.

What are you putting off?

Enjoy xx

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The view from my lovely cousins wedding last weekend!

The view from my lovely cousins wedding last weekend!

Wowsers!  All of a sudden, it is April!

Between moving house, finishing up at my day job, sewing + creating for my Etsy store, studying and the kids school/sport/swimming/stuff the year has flown by!

So I thought it was a good time to follow the lead of the ever lovely and caressive Pip Lincolne and take stock…

*****************************

Making : some new cushion covers (can’t find any that I like!)

Cooking : Taco Tuesday! One of our fave family dinner nights

Drinking : a giant takeaway coffee (with a freckle on top)

Reading: Educational Psychology and Country Style

Wanting: to get the markets…soon!

Looking: for a new novel to read…suggestions?

Playing: Monopoly…today with my 5 year old

Deciding: whether to sew or study today…decisions, decisions!

Wishing: Mum and Dad’s farm was closer – weekends visits!

Enjoying: settling into our new house

Waiting: for Uni results…

Liking: the kids discovering the books I loved as a kid

Wondering: how to create some capes (a la Little Red Riding Hood for winter)

Loving: Corduroy + seeing my gorgeous cousin tie the knot!  Congrats lovely!

Pondering: whether to cut my hair…again

Considering: Buying new winter boots…or not!

Buying: Office-type stuff, new whizz bang, printer/copier/fax?

Watching: Not a lot! Too much studying/sewing!

Hoping: to sleep in this weekend

Marveling: at my 8 year olds ability to dance anywhere

Cringing: at the criticism leveled at normal women’s bodies

Needing: another giant coffee or tea!

Questioning: my decision to give my littlest one a year off from ballet, she is itching to go back!

Smelling: the delicious Glasshouse Montego Bay fragrance in our house

Wearing: super comfy jeans, red H&M jumper and RM boots

Following: the media targeting teachers…again.

Noticing: how tall the kids are getting! Or am I shrinking?

Knowing: I will get through this giant study load.

Thinking: about a road trip in October

Admiring: my husbands ability to relax

Sorting: the house (the move was crazy/ hectic)

Getting: back on top of sewing super cut dresses

Bookmarking: blogs – a lot! Ready for mid-year break

Coveting: Bohemian Traders anything

Disliking: Grumpiness (mainly from me!)

Opening: another textbook (and secretly loving it!!)

Giggling: at Jon Snow’s awkward dinner party

Feeling: determined to get through Uni and find time with family

Snacking: wholemeal toast + crunchy peanut butter

Wishing: My sisters were closer too!

Helping: my kids organise holiday playdates

Hearing: the sounds of Adventure Time from the loungeroom

It’s such a fab thing to do to think about how your world if going…why don’t you take some time and take stock too!

Enjoy xx

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Been successful lately?

Been successful lately?

Motivation is a tricky thing to nail down. 

How do you get yourself motivated to get up, get moving, make a change, get started, and well, get on with things?

Some of the challenges we try to tackle seem insurmountable at first.

Giant mountains of stuff to tackle,  decisions to make, which options to choose, where to start…

I thought I would share a trick I’ve been using for a few years now to get your motivational mojo flowing.

This trick has helped me successfully complete my studies (with kids in tow),  design and create super cute items for my Etsy store whilst also juggling a full-time career, tackle giant mounds of folding/washing/mess that four kids generate.

I call it the 20 minute rule.

Pick the job you have been putting off.

Let’s take folding the washing – which tops my list as the worst household chore ever!  Get the basket/s out, pick a flat surface (dining table or folding trestle table works well), then set a timer. As soon as the timer goes off, get cracking. Only do that task, sort/fold/put away for 20 minutes. Don’t try to do something else at the same time.  Just sort/fold/put away.  When the timer goes off, stop and check your progress.  Now you’ve made headway!  Do you want to do another 20 minutes? Or do something different?

For me, nine times out of ten I am happy to keep going until it’s done.

I have tried this trick on studying, and it works just as well. Set up, ready, set a timer and go!  Read, highlight, take notes, start that assignment.  After 20 minutes I am usually in the zone so will keep going.  If I am not, then I have at least started and it’s a lot easier next time to sit down and get into it.

Ok, now, what is the job you are putting off?  Can you spare 20 minutes? Go!

Enjoy xx  

 

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My first week back at work with my eldest kidlet...her expression says it all!

My first week back at work with my eldest kidlet…her expression says it all!

It’s half-way through the week, and I am in midst of my weekly routine.  Along with my writing here and creating hand-made pieces for my Etsy store I have a science career that I am just as passionate about.

It’s now been 10 years since I had to learn the fine art of balancing being a Mum with having a career.  The time has flown by and along the way I  have picked up some tricks and tools to help make it an enjoyable ride for everyone.

So with that in mind, I thought I’d share a my top five tips for returning to work and finding balance between home and work (WARNING – some of these are a little harsh, I was tempted to change/modify/water down what I was trying to say, but decided I may dilute the message):

  1. Remember…nobody is as interested in your kids as you are.  You are the Mum (or Dad) so it’s your role to believe that your kids are the coolest/funniest/most special people in the world. Put yourself in your co-workers shoes…  Replace ‘baby’ with ‘cycling’, then imagine if you would regale a non-cycling enthusiast with all the details about your bike, the rides you’ve done, how the Tour is going. Falling asleep yet?  Same applies to kids and babies. I know it’s sounds a bit harsh, but it’s true.
  2. Treat each role with respect. When you are at work, work.  When you are at home or spending time with your kids, then be present.  Simple right? Try and keep a clear line between the two.  There will always be times when your worlds collide, however day-to-day show respect for both sides by focussing on where you are.
  3. Take the time when you are on maternity leave, no matter what the duration, to think about what you want when you return. Do you want to keep your skills current? Progress your career?  Interact and socialise with adults? Earn money for your family/lifestyle/future?  Whatever it is, own it.  Being a little fuzzy about why you are back at work can make the whole situation a lot tougher.  Be honest with yourself.
  4. Don’t apologise for returning to work, or staying at home.  Be proud of your decision either way.  Women, men, society in general can be tough on women and men and the choices they make in having kids and raising them.  There will be enough critical analysis of your actions without adding to it yourself.
  5. Find a way to carve out time to be you.  Whether it’s exercise, reading, getting creative, meditation, whatever takes your fancy! Find a way to be kind to yourself and do it daily. Don’t feel guilty, know that it’s critical to take the time to make sure you have the energy to put your heart into all parts of your life.

I hope there is a little chestnut in here to inspire you to be proud and own your choices and also appreciate and respect your friends choices.

Enjoy xx

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22092014Kidsgrowingup

Moving quickly into the grown up world…

It’s interesting how life can move along so quickly sometimes that we feel like everything is rushing by.

You can find yourself wondering…when did that happen?

I feel like this sense of life rushing by is magnified since I became a parent over a decade ago. Even writing the word ‘decade’ makes me wonder, where did the time go?

The logical part of my brain knows that it’s been 10 years, and that there has been a whole lot of living crammed into those years.

Yet still I wonder where did the years go?

This morning I watched my eldest daughter getting ready, with minimal help, keen for a chat with me about all the ‘stuff’ she has going on.  Her little sister on the other hand demanded help with her shoes, clothes and then forgot her school bag because she was too focussed on remembering her show and tell. Without me asking, my eldest poppet calmly helped her little sister, chatting to her as she helped her with her shoes, reminded her to pack her lunch and asked if she was excited about Kindy. I was admiring how my little baby was fast becoming a young woman, one with compassion and the empathy and desire to help others. She seemed to sense that I could use some help this morning, and helped me out in such a thoughtful well, I couldn’t help but admire her.

On a recent road trip with the kids, it dawned on me that they are no longer babies. All four have moved on from Babyville, entering the unknown land of young adulthood.

I am always a little slow to accept these shifts or changes in my life when it comes to the kids. I tend to focus on where we are right now, and I truly loved having a houseful of tiny people raging around playing, laughing and generally having a blast. Then, in a blur we gave away our last high chair, said farewell our cots said hello to big school and learning to read and write.

Over the years, whenever I watched the kids I would  notice they have a lot in common with me and with my lovely husband.  When they were little I would recognise a physical trait or expression (how cute, the little poppet has the toes as her Dad).

Now I recognise emotions, reactions and personality traits. How the kids deal with stress, the unknown and change.  The good and the not so good.

I am proud to see that my sons have inherited their fathers love of animals and kindness towards others, not so proud that they also seem to have inherited a love of computer games.  All of my kids are avid readers (super proud of passing that one on), they are also crazy-energetic bordering on hyperactive and prone to starting giant projects and leaving the mess everywhere (not so proud moment).

For me, one upside of seeing yourself reflected in your kids is an opportunity to make some changes in how you respond to things. For me, I am trying to learn how to slow down, relax and do one project at a time.

How about you?  Do you recognise yourself or your partner in your kids?

Enjoy xx

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The finished product!  All set up yesterday at the Mummy Tree Markets...

The finished product! All set up yesterday at the Mummy Tree Markets…

Yesterday I was part of the lovely Mummy Tree Markets at Everton Park. I had a lovely morning, my gorgeous sister helped me with my little tribe (super huge thank you!!), lots of lovely customers to chat too and friendly stall holders to gossip with between customers.

One of the questions I got asked quite a few times was ‘How do you find time to sew with kids?’

Which is a good question!

So I thought I’d give you the honest, no holds barred answer.

There is no magic silver solution where I can make more hours in the day.

The simple  truth is I schedule in time for me.

Just like you would book in a playdate for the kids, a doctor’s appointment or a class at the gym. I carve out time in my day to be creative.

Sometimes it’s half an hour, sometimes it’s a block of a couple of hours.  Then there are days where it’s a few 10 minutes blocks scattered throughout the day. The point is that I  make time to do something creative every day.  My creative loves include sewing, drawing, designing and writing.

Being creative makes me feel energised, happy and accomplished when I finish a project.

Just like exercising releases endorphins and makes you feel good, being creative gives me a sense of achievement and fuels my imagination and energy reserves.

Which makes me a more content person all round, not to mention a whole lot more productive in all of the other parts of my life.

So it is absolutely worth the effort to carve out time. Why not try it tomorrow?

Start with 10 minutes. If sewing or writing aren’t your cup of tea, how about baking? Or gardening?

Here are  a couple of my favourite places to visit and some creative folk to inspire you…

  • The lovely, clever and very creative soul Pip Lincolne from Meet Me at Mikes. Plus she’s funny to boot!
  • For the literary buffs and writers out there – have you visited Allison Tait’s website? A fab writer, generous giver of advice for writers who are just starting out, plus she’ll even give you a friendly nudge to just get on with it…
  • Cinta from My Poppet – subscribe, visit regular or buy one of her digital creations. Take your pick! This clever lady provides the perfect inspiration for crafty folk.

I’d love to hear what inspires you to get creative!

Enjoy xx

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