I simply want everything I do to be an act of worship to God. ********************EVERYTHING******************** like a spider's web, intricately woven, the threads of our lives are entwined, making us who we are, where we are, at this time in history.... here's a small record of one family's journey to love God

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Whip Up Competition

There's a little story behind this little piece.
I cut out hundreds and hundreds of two-inch squares to go around my first big real quilt.......it was only AFTER I had sewed them together that I realized I had multiplied the length by two instead of dividing it by two!!!! If I recall, it was late at night!
Anyway, that left me with HEAPS of little squares to use up!
I had always wanted to make prairie points, so figured this would be a good time to learn! So. I. Did.


doctor! doctor!

Yesterday L6 was racing a car around the dining room table when he put his hand down on a wasp. Said wasp expressed its disapproval by stinging that left hand of our left-handed boy!
Medical assisstance was rendered and L6 returned happily to play.
A new day dawned this morning and with it came a red and swollen hand. Attached to the end of the hand was a sad boy with puffy eyes swelling out of a pale face. Breakfast was served with a good dose of antihistamine. But a couple of hours later the redness was spreading, the fingers had swollen so much he could hardly bend them, he was sporting a fever and was now even sadder, not to mention paler. So we toddled off to the doctor.
Add to the antihistamine some antibiotics and pamol. And sleeping beauty took himself off to bed before noon!

That, however, is not the full story.
While waiting at the doctors, K9 looked miserable. It turned out he had tripped over my shoes last night on his way to bed and hit his head on the corner of the wall. He went to sleep with a mild headache and woke with a really good one this morning. By the time we left the doctor's surgery, he was apparently feeling pretty grotty, but didn't say alot about it until he howled half a minute up the road. I really could not decipher what it was all about and he went silent, so I figured it couldn't have been too important. Only a matter of seconds later, he howled again and over the din came the other yells "He's throwing up everywhere" And. He. Was.


we now have one very clean car sitting on the driveway with all doors open to air it out!
we have over half the family in bed and it's not even half past twelve!
i'm being an out-of-character-slightly-paranoid-mother looking for symptoms of memory-loss from one of the boys and wheeziness from the other!

Postscript......there were at least three other Trippings Over Mother's Shoes in the night and NO-ONE thought to move them!!!!!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

role reversal

Usually it's Mama Bear who comes up with wild ideas in this household. But last night it was Father Bear's turn. A colleague at work had just told him about a 2 acre farmlet with old villa for sale right next to his 10 acres. And that reminded us of some more sections on the market at the end of that road (we have a feeling that villa just might be out of our price bracket!). We ended up talking about selling this place, buying a section and building a garage (with composting toilet) on it to live in until we go away, and then coming back to build ourselves a nice small house and have the chooks and milk goat and big vege plot etc etc.

He hadn't even seen my blog yesterday!!!!! Funny really.

Monday, May 28, 2007

a teeny tiny house

Last week I got a pile of books out of the library....mostly New Zealand architecture and a couple of small house books. One really caught my imagination and I leafed through it a number of times, even pausing to actually read it!
Incidentally, I have enjoyed looking at Tumbleweed Houses occasionally in recent weeks. Less recently, I had pored through The Not so Big House and its companion Creating The Not So Big House at Borders one Day Out On My Own.
It's an idea I've been fascinated with and certainly feel drawn to.

We're not about to sell up and start building again (well we might if we weren't about to head overseas, but building and travelling don't go well together...although I did suggest to Father Bear that we renovate a castle in Poland - scroll down and look at those photos!!!!!! Grandpa pointed out the "own water supply" is through the roof!).....as I say, we're not about to build, but all the same, I did something crazy (something else, that is).

On Sundays I try to do something different to the rest of the week to be rejuvenated. So yesterday I sat down with a piece of paper and pencil and tried to design a small house for the ten of us. To cut a two hour story short....I came up with a design that would house 14 people (no, we're not having triplets!!!!) in less than 140 square metres with a 12.5m x 6.5m footprint. There was even a laundry chute, a 3.5 metre long table and an office for Father Bear to work from home. The only problem was that half of our books would not fit....but it would be easy-peasy to add a *library* in the attic.

I think I'd like to build it...and get Ross Chapin Architects to design a character-filled exterior like this one.


Sunday, May 27, 2007


As well as weeding the front and side gardens yesterday, we moved the main vege patch.
If you're really interested you can see pictures and read the story here. It took All Day, so there's really nothing else to write about!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Friday Favourites #6

piles of stuff *to go*

empty spaces where stuff *was*

lack of clutter

I am freeing us from the grips of STUFF

another hour and the room will be minimalist again



Thursday, May 24, 2007

really round the world

I haven't had a moment today to do a blog entry.....and this evening I'm beavering away making our website....I'm getting the hang of it almost enough to enjoy the process......so for now I'll leave you with an interview I have just done for Rolf Pott's travel website, Vagabonding. While I'm at it, I could recommend his book by the same name - I read it a couple of weeks ago committed the almost-unforgiveable sin ~ underlining lots of it! You can purchase it from GoodBooks for only two thirds of the cost that it is at other stores....and their profits go to Oxfam. WIN-WIN-WIN

Now before you go and read the interivew (if you want to!), I can update the plans...we have a more definite time frame than when I did the interview....we won't be leaving here till August. January will see us no further away than camping at the beach up north. And, SADLY, it looks like Africa is off the itinerary for the moment too. We have done some pricing and it's looking too much.
That's all part of the process.....dream some dreams and see what you can do!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

knitting round the world

the needles are continuing to click.......hats hats and more hats.....

these are a bit on the big side....because....it really doesn't get cold enough here for hats so these are for when we see winter in China and hopefully Mongolia and Europe...and that's 18 months away.....they should fit perfectly then!

Monday, May 21, 2007

simply windswept

there's nothing like a morning on a windblown beach

* rest * exercise * family * creation *
* lions hiding in the bush * worship *

what's with that guy popping over the hill just as the camera on remote timer clicks??? sigh

Saturday, May 19, 2007

they grew with you

In the "olden days" when everyone sewed their own clothes and darned holes in socks because it was a lot less work than knitting new ones.....mothers made clothes that would fit their babies for longer than 0-3 months, 3-6 months, 6-9 months....you get the idea.
And I did it for ER(1).
Not because I tried to, but because I was a novice knitter and wasn't the best guestimator when it came to newborn sizes! Although, she had a few woollies that were true newborn size and only fit a short while (like this licorice allsort soaker)

these three pieces were worn from her very first week....right through to now:

OK, so they're rolled up twice and keep her ribs warm - but that's not a bad thing!

...and they're a perfect fit now!

baggy then...

and baggy now!

from longies...

to shorties!

from little feet.....

....to toddler feet.

And just for the record, she has NEVER worn a disposable nappy. NOT EVEN ONE.

We've been camping and tramping and travelling and visiting friends and shopping and to parks and playgrounds and museums and all sorts of places.....we just take our cloth.

It's one of those issues that seems INTRICATE to my generation, but is really quite SIMPLE.

Our grandmothers didn't have the choice to use throw-away nappies, so they just held their babes out over pots and washed their cloth squares. It needn't be any different today - except that we have become accustomed to the convenience of throwing things away. While it may be convenient in the short term, it's not a simple solution in the longterm. We clog up landfill and leave chemicals to leach out into the surrounding soils.......but you've all heard me say it before!!!

with mittens to match

the mittens were so much fun to make in the end (even though I had to redo the second one completely because I picked up the wrong size needles!)

two down.....eighteen to go!!!!!!!!!!

it was a happy birthday

the cake:

every single one of the children has used that candle for their first birthday...only now there's no wick - so ER blew out the match;-)

the totally homemade present:

OK so the hair is really wild....but it's beautifully soft....merino wool, each piece individually attached....and Karen, thanks for the wool for the bodies - it's extra-special making something with wool a friend has lovingly dyed

some of the cards:

you really have to click on that photo to see the cute little button standing with her head between her knees!

and there's always a birthday balloon:

what do dictators do?

What a week in NZ politics.

As parents, we lost the right to correct our children with force. Oh, we can stop them from harming another individual or themselves, but we're not allowed to *correct* them any more - unless we want a criminal record. Of course if we can prove our actions to be "inconseqential", then we'll be acquitted. But where's the sense in that? I am only going to force my children to do things that ARE of some consequence. I believe strongly in training children out of times of conflict. For us, that means being proactive about what we do with our kids....we want to encourage our kids to do what is right - not just to "stop doing what's wrong". We can no longer lawfully train our children to do anything they don't want to.
On more than one occasion I have got hot under the collar about the media portraying this as a "smacking debate".......there was always far more than smacking at stake. It was about who makes the decisions in families, who is in control of the children, who sets the parameters. It is now clear; the government has wrenched that control from us - against the wishes of 83% of the nation. Is this anything less than tyrannical? How long will it be before we are forbidden to homeschool our kids? How long will it be before "the state education programme" is compulsory from birth? Let's face it - they want testing at birth, 5 years, preteen, and school-leaving age....and they're not talking just academic testing - they have been clear about the fact that it includes social testing. It is not inconceivable to think that my kids would be taken from me when they say that they have been taught there is one God, you should work if you want to eat, cows are not sacred and it is immodest to wear midriff-baring-low-cut slinky tops.
How many child murders will this new piece of legislation prevent? Please don't expect me to believe the government is actually trying to stop abuse with this law. We all know that those who beat their children do not care about any law. They were already criminals....now we join them too.

And it doesn't stop there. We had the Finance Minister telling us how to spend our money too. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against saving for retirement, I'm certainly not against people taking responsibility for themselves....but I get antsy when the government wants to go into partnership with me and my money. They take enough as it is! I feel for people who want to pay off their mortgages before starting a separate retirement fund - let's face it, you pay more interest on a mortgage than you get interest off money in the bank so it makes fiscal sense to get rid of your debt ASAP. Yet Dr Cullen calls this "short-sightedness". What am I missing?

Then to add insult to injury, I came across this. http://www.christiannation.org.nz/
Never mind what you think about Brian Tamaki......

A friend who has left these shores summed it up sadly, but truly:
I have to say that I am currently so disgusted with the state of NZ that I am without hesitation prepared to become an Australian Citizen. In many ways it isn't better here, perhaps even worse. Nominalism, hedonism and humanism are the norm, however the place does not seem to be ruled by the lunatic fringe and they still call stupid "stupid". My first instincts are to be romantic about my NZ identity, the land, the sea, and being part of the pacific region. However the truth is that holidays at Tawharanui do not make up for spiritual imprisonment.

It's Saturday

We were supposed to be at a church family camp this weekend. But unfortunately Father Bear realised the conference he was helping to run fell on the same weekend, so we are home......and he's at work.

The children are doing chores....with the promise that when they've finished, they're free for the day to do *A*N*Y*T*H*I*N*G*

And I'm going to have a post-a-rama!!!!

No need to cook today because Father Bear said he'd take the rest of us Bears to a restaurant for dinner to make up for missing out on camp. YAY. So I've got time up my sleeve. It feels like a holiday!

Friday, May 18, 2007

one year

there's something about a baby turning ONE....you are our eighth bubba to make that transition...and it's no less special, just because it's been done before.

how can you not marvel at the change from this:

to this:

ER - you are such a joy to us. We all love you. Your sparkly eyes, your cheeky grin, your serious contemplations, your contentedness, your slobbery kisses.

Your older brothers and sisters like to snuggle with you, play peek-a-boo, read stories, take you for rides in the trolley, encourage you to *talk* and teach you new tricks.
I like to watch you learn.....I'm keeping a record of your language development (something that I haven't done for any of the others, but I'm doing it specially for you). At the moment you can sign "more" when you think you're starving and you say eye-eye (goodbye) and ah-yo (hello). Mostly you're quiet, but when you pick up a book you chatter at it. You've just learnt to climb the stairs and to stand up by yourself. You love to go to bed at night (and during the day, for that matter!). You drink raw goat's milk and eat whatever we're eating (though no lollies till you're two - dem's da rules round here!). You clap when you hear fast music and sometimes when we're revising memory verses. You watch and engage.

You love to be held.

Darling, this is one of my favourite photos. My hand will be there for you to hold as long as you need to. Even when you are big enough to let go, our hearts will be connected.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

a *H*A*T*

it looks so simple....but don't be fooled.
I called this blog intricate simplicity for a reason;-)

It was meant to be a simple K1P1 rib hat. And it was simple....until I came to do the decreases at the top.
I didn't have a pattern, but didn't think it could be that hard.

The kids groaned as they saw me undo round after round after round.....nice to feel their empathy!

But triumph came on the second try. I wanted a nice round top....and a nice round top is what I got.

Now I just need to finish the mittens. They'll be my first ever and I'm looking forward to doing them. I have my usual *what if it doesn't work* angst....but by now I know you can just undo it and start again!
(and if you're wondering why I started the mittens and didn't finish them.....I only had a little of that variegated wool left and I knew I wanted the mitten cuffs and part of the hat made out of it....so I did the cuffs and then just used up the rest on the hat....why didn't I finish the mittens before starting the hat? Coz I knew I could make a hat, but the mittens were scaring me! I need to work on the little hand-warmers when the little hands that will wear them are in bed....may 7pm come quickly!)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

a personal question

Someone asked me last week which eco-friendly product I use for washing my hair.

And the answer is........

baking soda.

Yep, plain ol' BS. I keep a container of it in the shower. Useful, coz we clean the shower with it too. For cleaning surfaces, we dab a little on a damp cloth and scrub away - shower, bath, handbasin, toilet, laundry tub, kitchen bench. (Really stubborn curry stains on the bench might need a little white vinegar, but other than that, BS does the trick).
For hair washing, I wet my hair and then pour over a spoonful of BS dissolved in some warm shower water. Scrub, rinse and I'm done! Some people like to add a wash of apple cider vinegar - I experimented with this for a while (no, it doesn't smell!!!), but it left my hair really fly-away, so now I just stick to the BS. Works a treat. In fact, a month or so ago Father Bear ran his hand through my hair and said "Your hair's so smooth" - it had been a long time since he'd said that! I'd been baking-soda-ing for about three months at that point - and he didn't know;-)

But that's not all.....
when we (with alarming regularity) leave our dinner in a blackened glob on the bottom of our pots, we pour in some water, a teaspoon of BS and boil for five minutes. The black-whatever-it-is just peels off. It's true!

We tried it in the dishwasher. But the results couldn't be raved over. Within a few washes the glasses were cloudy-looking and stuff stuck to the plates. We are currently using a mixture of half BS and half *real* dishwasher powder. That seems to be working OK.

The washing machine was more successful. Clothes got clean. And didn't end up with that perfumey-stink that is left behind after using washing powder. I realise some people LIKE that smell - I don't, it makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end - and my son's too. We don't even like approaching THAT aisle in the supermarket - and now we don't have to!!! Not even to buy a nice bright-coloured plastic container of super-cleaner-with-added-baking-soda! We just use the real thing!

Just in case you have an ant problem, baking soda makes a pretty good deterrent. We had armies of ants at our house, until I sprinkled BS ALL around the outside of the house. They haven't been back in four years....which actually makes me think they just moved on elsewhere....but BS can take the credit all the same!

That's still not all though. Baking soda can be used in the kitchen! My favourite would be watching it raise my sourdough bread.

Monday, May 14, 2007

still wild.....

that paper pile....hmmm I spent Monday evening on it.....now it's in four piles! I really must get on to it. There were just far more interesting things to do last week!


READING....I read some fascinating travel books and kept up with reading my friends' blogs (but refrained from writing anything) and read answers to my questions on one of the two forums I frequent. Picked through a parenting book for the first time in a long time!

GARDENING....we did a complete vege garden overhaul - pulled out everything that was spent, turned the soil, dug in some compost and planted out the seedlings that we'd grown. The children then asked to make dinner with some of the bounty - only the sausage wasn't from the garden! There were capsicums stuffed with sweetcorn and carrot, boiled potatoes smothered in butter, cabbage-carrot-n-corn-stirfry. Mmmmmm.

Now we're down to a couple of cabbages and pumpkins, a pile of enormous swedes and a washing basket full of chillies!

KNITTING....two little vests and a hat and the beginnings of a hat and mittens to match the second vest. We had to go and get some contrasting wool today so I can finish them.

TALKING....I was interviewed about being a mum at Carey College - who knows what future pastors thought of that!.....I spent two evenings home with Father Bear dreaming and leafing through books and putting ideas down on paper and talking.....JUST. THE. BEST......We spent Tuesday and Friday evenings with good friends....Saturday had friends over for lunch and Saturday night went to another family for dinner, where we ate the hugest pizzas we've ever seen!Sunday visited more friends.

DESIGNING.....a website...you see, we are almost definitely leaving these shores and heading into the big wide world and we decided a website was a twenty-first-century traveller's necessity....I played mostly unsuccessfully with dreamweaver, but managed to use plain-ol-boring-but did-the-basics-OK-Home Publisher

ENJOYING....for Mothers Day I had bacon and eggs in bed with seven chapters of a book about a Kiwi family living in France - shared snuggles in bed with T3 while the food was being cooked.....I received two very special picture frames, one complete and one needing some pictures to be inserted.

Monday, May 7, 2007

taming a monster

I'm not going to blog this week. In fact I'm not even going to turn the computer on!
Why? I'm going to attack THE PAPER PILE.
I manage to keep our place mostly tidy. Of course there are always weeds that *could* come out of the garden and a layer of dust *shouldn't* be left to settle....but all in all, given that there are so many bods around here, we don't do too badly.
Except for the paper pile. I've never been good at throwing away pieces of paper with important little snippets of anything on them. I have collected. They have accumulated. And it's time for me to GET RUTHLESS. I can't quite bring myself to just dump the whole lot at the curbside for our recycled-paper-man to take away....but I will start sorting.....

See you next week....but only if I've become master....

Saturday, May 5, 2007

of clothes and comfort

I've been enjoying reading Kelsey's blog * Where Am I Wearing? * over the past couple of weeks. He's an American travelling the globe in a quest to find out about the places where his clothes are made. This post in particular was a goodie. What you buy and who you buy it from and how much you pay is certainly not simple.
But the more I find out about fair trade, the more I realise it can make a difference.
That's one of the reasons I have started making our clothes. Especially if I can refashion something found at a thrift store or use second-hand material. Sometimes things are perfect just the way they are in the store - like T3's gorgeous little crocheted-with-lots-of-love-I'm-sure vest.
When I am making things myself, I am much more aware of the amount of effort that goes into them and I am more likely to choose fewer items that work well together than fall into the trap of buying lots of things because they are cheap.
Then.....because I am buying less, and if possible getting it second-hand, I have more money to be able to go to Trade Aid and other such stores and make purchases based on justice rather than the dollar - the K-Mart equivalent may be cheaper, but it is less likely to be ethical.
And doesn't she look just as happy as if she was wearing a brand new exclusive designer piece?

And it's not just me on this soapbox! Father Bear brought home some Oxfam and Trade Aid Literature yesterday. Here are some quotes:

* Half the world's population (2.8 billion) live on less than US$2 a day. 1.1 billion live on less than US$1 a day.

* Poor countries account for 0.4% of global trade. Their share has halved since 1980.

* If Africa, East Asia, South Asia and Latin America each increased their share of world exports by just 1%, the gains could lift 128 million people out of poverty.

* If these regions increased their share of world exports by 5%, they would generate US$350 billion - seven times as much as they receive in aid.

Something's not quite right. Are we in the developed world willing to forgo some comforts to see justice come to the rest of the world?

Friday, May 4, 2007

Friday Favourites #5

I love fresh veges.

Right now my garden is at that in between stage - we still have a few cabbages and carrots and the chillies have not turned red but are nose-running-hot all the same and the rhubarb is due for a serious chopping.....but there's not the variety of a month ago.

But even a little bit of green is good for the soul and these herb pots on the deck made me smile today.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Is Reuters Right?

Thursday May 3, 06:50 AM
Stay-at-home mother's work valued

NEW YORK (Reuters) -

If the typical stay-at-home mother in the United States were paid for her work as housekeeper, cook and psychologist among other roles, she would would earn $138,095 (69,000 pounds) a year, according to research released on Wednesday.

The 10 jobs listed as comprising a mother's work were housekeeper, cook, day care centre teacher, laundry machine operator, van driver, facilities manager, janitor, computer operator, chief executive officer and psychologist, it said.

The typical mother puts in a 92-hour work week, it said, working 40 hours at base pay and 52 hours overtime.

Yep - I think I do all that! And I knit too!!!!
What would I get for that?
(and they forgot to mention judge and diplomat with special responsibilty for peace talks)

But it's not all about the money is it? I guess it's just that money is the currency that drives our culture. Wouldn't it be interesting to *value* people's lives according to a different set of criteria - perhaps creativity or learning or satisfaction or service??

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

surfie chick

surfie chick....that's so not me.

Beaches would be good if it weren't for the sand and the salt!

surfie chick....that's beach babe Kate

And now that the SUNNY BAY where she lives is more windy than sunny, she needs a new beach fashion accessory (as if her GORGEOUS hair isn't enough )...a chunky hat.

It might be more chunky that she expected, but if you want chocolate and pink, you gotta take what the shop has! Hope you don't mind the pink on top Katie - I ran out of brown and don't have the car to go buy you another brown ball! However, if you really don't like it, I'm happy to redo that little bit - wouldn't take long. In fact the whole hat didn't take long. YAY for chunky wool!

You know what I like about this hat?
It represents friendship and fair trade!
You see, Kate is making me a necklace.
There'll be no conflict diamonds in it (there'll be no diamonds at all - heehee).
There'll be no unjustly-mined-gold (in fact, no gold at all either).

I will have a special piece
made with love
by a dear friend,
who sparkles in my life.

Thanks Kate - it was a great idea!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

so let's just call this a craft blog

never mind provocative statements or musings about life or records of adventures....this blog is turning into a *what's-on-my-needles* piece!!

so here we go again......

hat for K9 to put away in her backpack for when we go travelling....maybe I'll blog about that later.....

...or how about now?

it's hardly a secret any more......Leighton Smith read out my email on NewstalkZB this morning......hey I could post it here...then you'd know I do things other than knit;-)

This was prompted by a series of sob stories in the media at large about how noone can afford houses today...Leighton happened to be discussing it so I had my say:

Dear Leighton,

Do NOT let anyone tell you it is impossible to buy a first home.
My husband and I returned from 2 1/2 years in Eastern Europe 14 years ago and had $30 to our name. We worked our butts off, lived in a tiny flat, ate simply, saved every penny and managed to finish our degrees and get postgrad diplomas within two years with NO debt. We continued saving and when we had a deposit, worked out we could afford a $100,000 house so we went to the real estate agent and asked what they had. They just laughed at us! So we bought a section and built a house. Cost us $96,000.
We sold that house and built another, swapped that one and then built one more. In less than a decade we were mortgage-free in a house worth at least three times as much as our first one is *now*. And don't think it's because we were double-income-no-kids. My husband is in education (ie hardly high paying) and I have been home with the children - over the past twelve years we have had eight of them. Yes that's right. Eight kids, single income, no mortgage.
And my hubby got his masters while working aswell - you do what is important to you.

What are we up to now? Looking at taking the kids to see the *real* needs in the world - China, Mongolia, Tanzania, Great Britian (OK that bit's a holiday!) and then settling to work again in Poland or volunteer at an orphanage in Romania - these are our current dreams we are working towards.

And *that* is why we need woolly hats!!