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

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I really shouldn't have.

No brand new purchases-this-year-n-all-that-jazz.

I needed a button for my Kaffe Fasset-inspired blue bag. It used to be an open bag,

but I'm using it all the time and it bugs me that things *could* fall out (never mind that the whole bag fell off my shoulder in the carpark ~ I would never have noticed except that a lovely big burly workman shouted out to bring the misadventure to my attention. Bless his woolly worksocks.)

Anyway, I had added a "top bit" in very funky wool....

....and just needed two buttons to make it a closed bag. One had to be not too big, because one of the buttonholes didn't really work (not sure what I did wrong), so it will remain The Permanently Closed Side. The other one needed to be enormous, coz the buttonhole was gigantic (not sure what went wrong there either). I'd raided my own stash and found a suitable Permanent Button and put on the biggest one I had as the other, but it was too small and the bag kept popping open.

So I checked the local op shop clothes for Big Buttons.
No joy.
In an effort to support local business rather than The Big Red Shed, I ventured to Knitworld and they had Just What I Needed.
What's more, it was only 70 cents.

But did I have even a dollar on me?
No, not me.
And I felt silly using my Eftpos card for 70c.
So I had a quick sneak around hoping to find a cheap ball of wool to use for my last Sock Knitalong pair (it would be a reward for finishing all the unfinished socks, y'know)

There was no cheap wool.
But there was this:

Real sock wool.
Not chunky.
Will require more than 36 stitches to make a sock;-)
And needles so tiny you could mistake them for toothpicks.
But at the end of it I will have a pair of REAL socks.
Actually I hope to have four pair, all different.
All the girls have some purple in their Trip Clothes so this wool will be perfect.

I'm keen to knit both socks at once to avoid Second Sock Syndrome and I was fortunate enough to realize that if I did that working from opposite ends of the one ball of wool, the pattern would turn out upside down on one sock. Hence the TWO balls.
And that should be enough for six small socks and hopefully the tops of the last two!

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Continuum Concept

I was going to write a review of Jean Liedloff''s book, but I think I'll just stick to the questions it raised for me and some Helpful Information.

1) Do people really *believe* that as babies we have expectations inside of us, which are dependent on what our ancestors experienced over millions of years????
2) How can someone who has visited a couple of remote tribes five times (totalling about two years with them) speak with such authority about how they never do this or always do that?
3) Closely linked to number 2, and assuming she's not a linguistic genius, wouldn't a huge amount of everyday interaction have gone over her head because she simply didn't understand? Perhaps the apparent total absence of arguing was merely due to the fact that they argue differently to us - just like they greet people differently and have different mealtime customs. Who knows?
4) Has she overlooked the problems that do exist in that society? (I'll be upfront with my underlying beliefs: I do not believe there is a perfect society anywhere around - of course, some may do better than others and we could all learn from each other....but none are perfect. So when someone writes a totally glowing report I am inclined to think they are romaticising it a bit. Call me cynical; I'm OK with that!)
5) How would she, as someone who obviously believes it is detrimental for a young baby to be "not carried" during the first six or so months, describe my children? With the exception of the one who cried from pain for hours a day (and he yelled whether he was held or not), they have all happily slept in an old cane pram.

We didn't experience the agonising screaming described in the book as children are separated from their mother and their world turns upside-down. When our little ones would wake we would attend to their needs and they seemed genuinely secure - certainly no signs of despair at all.

A few of them needed to be close to us for the first few days, especially at night. But this didn't last long - the worst was ER, the one who got the most holding out of all of them!!!!! She was only content if being held from 6 to 11 each evening...and this went on for about seven or eight weeks. There she is at *that* time of night:

However, this didn't last for anywhere near as long as Liedloff suggests, and she was more than happy to be separated from me during the day. How would Jean explain this?
6)At the risk of sounding like a defensive parent who didn't do what Liedloff said, I will ask my final question. Will parents be left feeling guilty if they don't follow her formula? It's not rhetorical.

I read this book having had a background of parenting reading that erred more on the side of "parents doing stuff to their kids".
So this book was VERY different, and in many ways, in spite of the fantastical (IMHO) assertions about humanity, it was a breath of fresh air.

I loved:
*the value placed on the *relationship* between parent and child
*the value placed on the children themselves
*the description of what a baby experiences upon entering the world - it explained in part for me, why our little ones really do *need* to be so close at the beginning. This was something I had *worked out* for myself (in spite of reading that books that were pretty strong on needing to teach bubbas to sleep right from the start and Plunket warning otherwise)......so I had spent nights sleeping with babes in my arms, mainly in that first week.
*the acknowledgement that babies are social
*the encouragement to allow your children to co-operate with you.
*not so much in the book, but certainly on her website, Liedloff talks very convincingly about children needing to be included in the adult world - not being the centre of the world, but just being an active participant. This is one of my soapboxes, and I'm more than happy to move over on it and share it with her!
*again, on the website, discussion about children needing to know parents are in control.
*the article about two women sharing their lives intimately - I have to admit I tire a little too easily of the pervasive view that if it's "tribal" it must be better than what we as modern white men are doing. So the terminology of this piece gets to me a little - but the sentiment of working together in community is definitely worth noting, and something we need to be intentional about these days if we live in suburbia.

Funny thing is, these ideas are not new. And I don't even think Liefloff can lay claim to them. They are Biblical ideas (OK, not the inbuilt-expectations-handed-down-from-ancestors-over-millions-of-years-bit....I mean the "good" bits!) And quite frankly, I find a Biblical worldview reflects the reality I see around me far more consistently than Liedloff's wild claims about *evolutionary expectations*.

But all in all, an interesting read.

how special is this?

Very. Very. Special.

It came with this explanation:
"I drawed this card for you, because I love you very very much."

Thanks M4. I love you too.
How much?
This much.

Well, *you*-who-happen-to-be-reading-this won't know what that means, it's a special M4-n-me thing.

I can't even remember how it started. Something at the back of my mind says it was something to do with one of the medical procedures he had done that he was a bit scared about and I did something to take his mind off it...or maybe it wasn't. Anyway, he now often comes up to me and grabs one finger and squeezes it as tightly as he can, whilst asking "Do you want to know how much I love you Mama? This much."
Then I show him just how much I love him.
This much.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

I like this kind of weekend

Yesterday I had my winter Out Day. Father Bear was unimpressed that I should wake about 6 and he informed me there was nowhere I could go in the rain before the sun was up! So I snuggled in bed for a bit longer. I even managed not to remind him of the time he told me it was half past six when it was only half past five. It was on the tip of my tongue. But then I remembered that a) *that* day turned out wonderfully b) it seemed to go on and on and on (that's what happens when you leave the house at 5.45am) c) it wasn't raining on that occasion and d) the sun was virtually up despite the early hour. It must have been summer. All in all I concluded I would not win if I were to pursue this unnecessary argument and decided to take some Biblical advice - "even a fool is thought wise if he keeps his mouth shut"
But in the end I just couldn't lie still any longer and I got up.
I scrambled around in the dark (not too difficult as I had laid everything out the night before - pays to be prepared for the big day out) and tiptoed out of the house, embracing the possibilities of the day. I had packed the car with a couple of knitting projects, an art book, some trip stuff, my current read and most of my scrapbooking paraphernalia, as well as my pile of scrapbooking magazines for inspiration. I wasn't sure what I'd end up doing, and I sure didn't want to limit myself!

I didn't have far to drive and then spent a couple of hours sitting in a carpark waiting for The Warehouse to open (as a matter of principle I am trying to avoid this place - I think this was the fourth or fifth visit for this year and I put aside all principles as I went in and purchased plastic scrapbooky stuff which came inside more plastic wrapping and had pieces of unnecessary cardboard aswell.......I encouraged myself to learn the art of calligraphy, but, knowing my previous attempts at this art, which clearly requires some discipline to acquire, I bought stickers for this particular project - and precoloured papers as well seeing as I am not yet an accomplished watercolour master either) Wow that was a long sidetrack, wasn't it? (Maybe I should have just left out this whole paragraph and you wouldn't need to know about my lack of resolve.....but this is meant to be REAL!) Back to the story.

That done, I was ready to Make The Scrapbook.
So I went home!
Well, not quite. I ended up spending the rest of the day Next Door To My House at Father-in-law's place. He kindly let me spread all over both his dining room tables (two tables, that is, one dining room).
Occasionally a child appeared at the door - I tried hard not to shoo them away too quickly.
Once or twice I needed to return to My House for the one or two scrapbooking bits-n-bobs I had thought I wouldn't need. The kids actually looked pleased to see me - that was nice!
I built up their excitement by leaving immediately.
And not coming home for dinner.

Best of all, I got finished. One complete album in one day. Well, let me qualify that. I got all the backgrounds done, all the page headings and even a few other extra bits. I just haven't done the photos. In fact, some of the photos haven't even been taken yet. But at least now I have a list of what I need to do.
So one more morning to *take* photos, another hour to send pics for developing, the rest of another afternoon to stick photos in and one evening to embellish and it'll be totally done. One album, two days.
"a Kiwi Life", a nice little record of our life in NZ to take with us wherever we end up going. We had been going to buy a book to take, but none of the many we flicked through in Borders reflected *our* life. So we've ended up making our own.

That was all done by the time the last kids headed off to bed.
I realised I was hungry and heard the local Turkish kebab man calling, so I left the guys watching rugby (yawn) and enjoyed the solitude of being the only person in Mr Turk's restaurant for half an hour. There happened to be a real estate paper sitting on one of the large slabs of treetrunk that double as tables and I happened to pick it up.

Armed with that piece of information you don't need to know about the knitting I completed Saturday night......fast forward to just before noon Sunday. There we were wandering around ten acres looking at a three bedroom house and a two beddy cottage. I told you it was a nice weekend!

We raced home to have lunch with friends. We just hung out together all afternoon, enjoying each other's company. The children played, the adults chatted.
We'd done similarly on Friday night - different food, different friends, same enjoyment. Plus we saw *Amazing Grace* together too. Not often you get a movie with good theology, great costumes and sets, accurate history and a jolly good yarn to boot.

It really was my kind of weekend.

Friday, July 27, 2007

he'll wish he didn't tell

Father Bear came home yesterday saying, "They need someone to deliver the programme in China in February"
My Excitement Metre raced off the scale!!!! It has a habit of doing that.
Within one second I had worked out that would mean two summers in a row - and right now, in the throes of week after week of drizzle and downpour, the concept was instantly appealing. The next second was devoted to wondering whether this summer's clothes would be suitable for China. Affirmative. Second three and I was on to organising passports, vaccinations and visas.
Then I remembered my
TO DO list. "The Trip Planning" hasn't even made it on there yet!!!! That's still at-the-back-of-my-mind. There's no way we could be ready for The Big Trip in six months' time.

I slept on it.

And woke to tell Father Bear there's Definitely No Way We Could Do It.
I think I heard an audible sigh of relief!


New day. New thought. New research.

What if we went up for the February - April stint and then returned for three months....and then continued with The Trip as per the original plan? My Live In Fear Of Global Warming Friends would certainly be scared by such a proposition.

But as I've said before, I am yet to be convinced that it is anything more than political hype.
So my conscience is clear.

We could do our planning while we're up there. No interruptions.

But if we went up there now, could we afford to do The Trip? Gut instinct (aka Father Bear) gloomily predicted it would cost (before you read how much he said, I need to insert a footnote and I'll do it right here to save you the trouble of scrolling to the bottom of the page: Father Bear has been known to err on the side of caution in the past, very much so, in fact. Which is why I have become an Expert in the Field of Creative Accounting. It's probably his caution that got the mortgage paid off - that, and his Amazing Miracle Number Crunching Computer Programme he wrote. Anyway, as I was saying, he thought that to go up to China now-ish would cost....) $50,000 - or did he say $60,000? I forget. Either way it was way higher than my guesstimate-based-on-careful-research - insert cheeky grin here -;-) Unless my figurings are wrong (and they might be, but check my track record, it's never happened before), I work it out at $3993. That seems pretty cheap for ten people for three months of *Cultural Exchange*. It would also give us the opportunity to "try before we buy" the Big Concept of traipsing right round the world potentially forever.

Can you feel my excitement?
I've even sent the kids to play outside so I can write because the rain has stopped and I'm feeling sorry for them all cooped up inside for days on end.

Isn't it funny how you can sit down at the keyboard with just a vague idea of saying "I got excited that Father Bear might take us to China sooner rather than later, but it's not going to happen after all".....but what comes out is a full story about global warming, our mortgage, How My Brain Works, what kind of people we are and justifications for today's parenting methodology. Intricate Simplicity!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Going Bush

"Look at all the school kids" came the cry from the back seat as we pulled into the Information Centre carpark. Our kids - a dozen of them - gathered picnic basket and jackets, big kids escorting little ones across to the picnic table, past The Other Group.

We eyed them up.
They eyed us up.

We decided they weren't school kids at all, but a Homeschool Group.
They probably decided the same about us.

There are some things that give it away.

Firstly, there's usually a Mama with a baby in a sling.
There will be toddlers as well as teens.
Lunches are carried in icecream containers and baskets instead of little individual lunchboxes.
There's often a mother off to one side "having a word" with one of the youngsters.
There's always someone called Zechariah or Ezekiel, and he's usually called a few times.
The baby in the sling will be lucky to have socks on - definitely won't be wearing shoes.

We exchanged friendly smiles.

They were there to be Bush Detectives.
We were there because we two families had got together for lunch and some board games, and decided at the last minute to pack sandwiches and make the most of the break in the weather with a walk through the bush.
We didn't have any worksheets, but L6 darted about reading the plant identification signs. M4 and T3 noticed lots and lots and lots of "fellen down trees". We all stopped to *listen*. Conversation raced from Maori myths to pirates to church growth to blogs.

The rain started to fall as we got back to the car!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

to do take two

aka Listmaking 200

Principle 1:
You gotta cross things off (would be great if someone could teach me how to do those little crossing-out-lines on your blog)
Principle 2:
You gotta revise what's already there in case you've changed your mind
Principle 3:
You gotta add some more

So here's the revised list a couple of weeks on:
Sub-heading 1: SEWING
*winter clothes All done except for three buttonholes, which J12 could do herself. So consider it done - it's no longer on my list!
*summer clothes definitely too cold to be thinking about summer clothes yet - put on hold
*The Trip clothes cannot be started before Summer Clothes are finished so Put On Hold.
*Christmas stuff I've been doing for three years *this is the year* but not till December, so I don't even need to think about this one yet either.
*pencil rolls soon....sooon.....these ones are making me feel guilty
*quilts (should be a subheading of its own given that there's Father Bear's to bind STILLaha, maybe it doesn't need binding - Sharon got to use it when she was here and it's been on our bed ever since....., J12's to finish before her birthdayI went so far as getting it off the shelf to show Sharon....oh there's still soooooo much to do on it...as soon as the Blue Quilt is bound I'll be working on this one....September will be here before I know it, a pink one cut out and half sewn, fabric for at least four more sitting thereno hurry on these - they are now officially packed away for A Rainy Day (of which we have been having plenty!))
*redwork embroidery wall hanging suffering similar fate to above quilts
*snowman wall-hangings...don't ask! December

Sub-heading 2: KNITTING
*vests (ER1, M4, L6, K8, K9, J11, J12) M4's is very nearly done!! wool is wound into balls for the girls' ones and L6's.
*hats (L6, K9, J11, J12, me, Father Bear) mine is done, but now I add another one for M4 coz I've imagined-up a funky pattern to match his vest and there's gonna be stacks of wool left over
*mittens for J12
*cardy for me (just a plain old sensible boring one....and if I ever get time, I've seen some really funky patterns for wild ones - it's no longer going to be totally boring - I'm going to do some Nicky Epstein fancy patterns on it somewhere)
*socks progress made - remember this?
*giant cooking bag that'll be the summer camping project
*needle holders (really not an essential item at this point in time, but I started on this project and would like to FINISH it) and I'll take them camping too!
*cotton dishcloths (some for us and some for Helen - as promised) eager to do some in the pattern I used for the collar - might just happen soon
*nativity collection (well, when I bought that booklet, I *knew* it was a put-away-until-much-later thing, but I just love it and so I can hardly wait to start) definitely not yet. Plus I can't decide whether I want to do it all in cream wool or in bright funky colours. Not to worry, I have a few years to make up my mind!

Sub-heading 3: READING (books on my shelf that I want to devote some serious time to)
*Don Quixote
*The War on the Poor
*American Adventure Series all 48 of them
*Mollison on Permaculture
*The Blessing
*Endangered Minds we've lent this to someone and I haven't written down WHO...if it's YOU, please drop me a line and let me know coz Father Bear is asking for it.
*The Hurried Child
*The Overload Syndrome
*Complete Charlotte Mason Series
*Houses That Change the World
*A Landscape with Dragons
*Is There Life After Housework?
*Pilgrim's Progress
*borrowed The Long Emergency from the library. RIVETTING. Nothing happening with any of the others! Expect a review.

Sub-heading 4: THINKING
*non-adversarial parenting now also called non-confrontational in my mind, but I'm looking for a positive term
*response to The Continuum Concept formulating - does talking about it this weekend count?
*my work

Sub-heading 5: OTHER
*Christmas scrapbook
*J12's childhood scrapbook
*have purchased materials to make an Our Life In New Zealand Scrapbook - add it to the list so I can cross it off! Then add "Our Life In New Zealand Scrapbook".
*Garage sale collecting items
*Book purchases all done - and then some! Got some real bargains on ebay. $85 book for $4.99 and the $30 accompanying workbooks for 99p. Latin here we come. Plus the textbook seller offered us any help we should ever want - she's a Latin teacher. YAY. I'll do a "books purchased this year" post when they all arrive.
*sort through photos DONE. totally completely finished
*the paper pile (sigh) stacked in a banana box!

something for *me*

I was meant to make *My* Travelling Things last, just in case I ran out of time - I don't mind freezing my own ears off, but it just wouldn't be fair for it to be one of the kids with no hat. However, I needed to start something easy-peasy and thoughtless while Sharon was here and I had just wound my wool, so that seemed a good place to begin. Besides, I had a pattern on hand and the right sized needles hadn't been put away from the last project. As it was, I had to start it twice because I cast on the wrong number of stitches. By the way, what is with The General Population? They all seem to think that women can multi-task. Either I have a few chromosomes mixed up, or I am a Different Kind of Woman (No rude comments thanks). I cannot multi-task.
End. Of. Story.
And the fact that I had to cast on my stitches twice just proves it. Actually, it's not QUITE that bad. I cast on the right number according to the pattern. But whenever have I been known to follow a pattern? They told me to change my needle size to get the right gauge (does that mean I did a tension square? You've got to be kidding! I just measured another item I'd already made out of the same type of wool). I liked *that* tension, so I just upsized the pattern a wee bit.
FYI, JUST was used rather ambiguously in the last sentence. It does not mean "only" or "that's all I did to the pattern". As well as upsizing, I knit "just a wee bit more" before decreasing (and I'm so glad I did) and then instead of casting off "in knit" at the end, I did a fancy little number - I do love picot points. They are not only for baby pants (I could've said JUST instead of "only", eh) ....they are for Big Grown Ups too!
But I haven't finished with it yet; it needs to be a bit longer at the back. If I don't run out of wool, I'll use more of the same, if I do run out before the cardy is finished I'll use a contrast - the same as I'll have to use on the cardy. And what will I do with it? I'm going to add another flappy-brim-type-thing to the back, gently easing round to the sides. Well, that's the plan!

PS Do you like the collar? It's not getting any rave reviews in my face-to-face encounters! As far as I can see, either it's too *different* or my temperate-townee friends just cannot imagine being really truly cold. Yes, that must be it. I'm sure if they knew the meaning of COLD, they'd think it was a Fantastic Creation.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

what a wonderful weekend

It started early on Friday morning with a trip to the airport to pick up Sharon. I had only met her face-to-face once before and on that night the time had flown by all too quickly. This time we would not be returning her to the airport until Monday evening - and the children would have a car-picnic on the way home.

She was the Most Wonderful House Guest Ever. She made her own bed and took the sheets off on the final day, she washed dishes and vacuumed floors and made her own coffee when I didn't think to, she engaged children and even offered to take one of them home, she didn't leave anything in the bathroom sink and she didn't snore.

Not that we slept much.

Friday night I had a group of friends over ~ Sharon went out to visit with her own sister, but left us Brand Spanking New Only Just Arrived From Amazon The Day Before craft books to pore over......and she still managed to spend a couple of hours with us all as the other friends* didn't leave until their customary 12:01am......*these ones: Jenna who doesn't blog, Jess and Karen.

Saturday night we had even more crafty-type friends over. Fifty of them if you count the kids and partners. For Dinner. But my Father Bear went out! Well, do you blame him? He marched back in the door along with Midnight before All The Guests* had taken their leave.....*I'm not listing the blogs of all that lot!
On Sunday we dropped some kids off at church, picked up Karen and headed out. Sharon and Karen disappeared for the morning to a slightly-disappointing eco-tour. I took J12, K8 and L6 to make felt in a friend's garage.

This was a Massive Hit and there are now Big Plans to make a fullsized blanket! Thankfully the expert-felt-making-tutor who had never done it before, but had googled a lot was happy for me to sneak inside to the house and play with yet another friend's swift and wool winder.

Was it the wildly spinning swift or the bright roaring fire or the two-late-nights-in-a-row to blame? I wondered if I looked as cross-eyed as I was feeling to the girls sitting round the table with me - girls whose blogs I would link to if they wrote them, but they don't.

Dropping off Karen after lunch was.........well, it should have been deeply-something. I mean, it was the last time it would happen for a Very Long Time. She would be leaving town the very next day. Maybe the momentousness of the occasion was softened by the fact that she'll be back for a midnight craft night in three weeks!

We returned home to Chocolate Cake in the Late Afternoon.

The problem with this is that it always means dinner is late and the smallest kiddlies who didn't get chocolate cake end up scratchy. But hey, as I said, Sharon was an impeccable guest and her only comment was that her own son squeals much louder and longer and at a higher pitch. How polite can you get?

Fortunately when you get to that time of night anything is bearable, because you know it's now a matter of minutes and not hours until the angels will be tucked up in their beds! And so it was not long until we were sitting in the lounge with yet another bowl of chocolate cake (*bowls* this time, to contain the overly generous dollops of whipped cream).

We sat. We knit. The tv was on. We browsed through the craft books again. We knit some more. We hardly even talked. I realised it was a moment of "companionable silence" I had first read about in Trixie Belden (at the time I thought I'd plagiarise that phrase one day! The Day Has Happened!)

Monday we sat, knit and talked lots. It was The Last Day. So we made the most of it.

Sharon finished a wonderful baby cape, I finished a project I had started the night before from one of her new books (using wool I had wound into balls that afternoon). It will always remind me of Sharon, of the weekend, of the new friends....even when I'm wearing it in deepest Mongolia!

You see it's a little collar to keep your neck warm - just like a scarf but without being as big as a scarf - we're trying to keep our packs Not Too Heavy remember! This will be just perfect.

But back to the present...yesterday's airport trip was just to the domestic terminal.

And Sharon flew home.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

a personal challenge

Look what I'm doing!

I've joined up for the Sock a Month Knitalong.
Actually that's two socks you're meant to knit every month!

And I'm on target. I joined two days ago and have already finished the first one. But I can't finish the second for a couple of weeks - because it has to come off the needles during the month of August. The problem with this is that I'm all keen to get my next one done and actually finish a PAIR....for once, I'm not suffering from Second Sock Syndrome.

Generally speaking, I tend to start things with a whizz and a bang and loads of enthusiasm.....and precious little thought about whether I actually have the time or resources - and I have proven time and again that I don't have the staying power to see most things through to completion.....(everything seems like such a good idea when I hear about it)....but at least on *this* occasion I know I have the resources, socks take so little time and I'm sure I can do a five-month-challenge...it's not like I have to keep going for my my whole life!
Maybe I'll start my September pair now as well while the interest factor is sitting on HIGH...and perhaps even the October and November and Christmas ones too; then I'll really be ahead of the game! In fact, in my possession are three or four carefully-knitted-but-still-waiting-for-partners-socks, so I am halfway there already. I'm going to use this challenge to finally finish the sock-mates.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

i can do that!

I just read Mr No Impact Man's blog post for today.
Ah I love it when I find someone more extreme than I am. Makes me feel slightly more...well, normal. It's not that I actually *want* to be mainstream-and-mediocre, but sometimes it's tiring to be a circus act when you go out for a walk with a baby on your front, one holding each hand and still there are five more milling around you....and really those bigger five *should* be at school (but they're not, coz we don't do school). And when you consider one of them has failed again to find matching shoes or is incredibly grubby, at least one of them is likely to be practising his cricket bowling technique with an imaginary cricket ball, another is probably climbing each tree we pass or at least jumping out from behind them to scare everyone and the baby is squealing in delight at being outside or squealing in disgust at being outside, you realise you stand out even more (as if you didn't anyway).
However, this post is not about our Going Out Antics.
It's about Not Making Trash (or Rubbish as we call is Down Under).

As I read Mr Extreme's list, I patted myself on the back that I do many of those things...and even felt somewhat smug that I have an answer to his not eating Chinese, Italian or Indian dilemna....experienced that "oh yeah someone is more extreme than me" feeling for twenty seconds......and then started thinking "I could do that......and that....and that too"

The Rubbish Revolution is on!


Our table didn't start its life with us.
A newfound soul-sister (who also had seven children in nine years) moved away to America. Her table with the accompanying benches she had had made to go with it came to live at our house and be a constant reminder of a Very Special Friend. The dents at one end where her littlest would bang his cup have worn away - or at least amalgamated with our own bangings to create quite a smooth surface! The varnish has peeled away and we have sat around with more than one set of dinner guests scraping the top so it is now almost entirely bare timber.
Father Bear has grand plans about cutting the sides square and fixing in extensions - we talk about these plans every few months;-) In the meantime, the table is collecting history, collecting memories.

The table is for working at....
chopping parsnips

making pizza lunches (with friends)
making plans

fulfilling dreams (aka excavating, albeit on a smaller scale than dreamed of)

creating musical instruments

building gingerbread houses

creating masterpieces (with friends)

conducting experiments

The table is there when you're playing the goat
The table is there when you meet friends you've been writing to for years - friends who live in Romania

The table is there when you're celebrating with family

(and sometimes we even put a tablecloth on it!)
celebrating with friends
celebrating birthdays

and doing real Su-do-kus too!

The table is for eating at

and eating under (when it's made into a hut)

The table can even be made beautiful....
this photo is one which prompted a friend to tell me I really should start a blog!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

dreams are free

While I'm going all foodie on ya, let me tell you about my dream kitchen.
I've always said I'd like a cellar and everyone thinks I'm joking.
But I'm not - I'm dead serious. A real cellar would be so useful.
It would give me somewhere to store all those preserves and chutneys that I do actually make.
It would provide space for a potato box and an onion box (instead of the basket I trip over every time I walk into the laundry).
It would give me somewhere to hang my strands of plaited garlic and dried mushrooms
It would hold my fresh milk and cream and homemade butter - can someone tell me, does the butter churn live in the cellar?
It would certainly have room for bags of wheat berries and oat groats and other whole grains.
Ah yes, I'd love a cellar.

I'd like a nice big table with a long bench too. I like to be able to sit down when I'm peeling potatoes for a dozen people. None of this standing up at the bench business. And my kids like to gather round and help aswell...again, much more *communal* around a table than standing in a line at a bench. Maybe my table romance is coloured by our dining room table. It's not the fanciest table around, but it's wooden and it has a history. I'd say we've done as much cooking at that table as we have at the bench, and as I turn into a more-n-more natural girl, the fact that it is made from a tree and not formica really appeals. It smells nicer, it feels nicer, it's warmer and when you drop a knife on it the dent adds to its magic instead of making it look tired and tatty.

Now because most of my stores would be in the cellar, I wouldn't need such a big pantry. Just enough room for the bread box and other *basics*. My ceramic mixing bowls, wooden spoons and cast iron cookware would probably fit in there. And I'd like a wooden sideboard for the crockery and cutlery. I don't just want to go into Early Settler and buy the oldest-looking piece I can find. I'd be really happy to wait and have it made by Dadda and the kids who want to help.

And something to cook on. Yes, we'll need to cook.
I used to think I'd like an outdoor oven, but then I thought "why waste all that good heat when it could be attached to the house and warm us all up? and why build a special shelter over it for when it rains when it could just be part of the kitchen itself which would already have a roof"
So I think a wood-burning oven INSIDE would be essential. I love the fact that you fire it up, cook a few pizzas (enough for our whole family and friends all at one time), throw in a leg of something to roast with veges and a pot of stew and then when all that's done it's the right temperature to bake a few loaves of bread and some bikkies or a cake. All that without using electricity all day long. When The Great Power Crisis happens, I'd be all set! Imagine that - cooking half a week's food from two hours of burning wood.

I might not need electricity in my kitchen, but I'm yet to be convinced that running water from a tap isn't a good idea! However, I would make sure the greywater was funnelled out to the garden when it was finished with.

And in a corner, on a rag rug made by J12, would be a rocking chair. Beside it would be my knitting bag and sewing basket. I've recently moved a comfy-to-work-in-chair to the place-where-the-kids-play-most and it's been great to sit and work while they mill around.

One day...some of this dream just might happen.
I'm filing it away for After The Trip.
But I won't forget.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sourdough Regurgitated

This blog of mine......some weeks craft-blog, some weeks trying-to-engage-brain-blog, some weeks green-thumb-blog.....but I would never have thought it would ever turn into a foodie-blog.
And I guess by the usually-understood definition of "foodie" (y'know, tiny bits of nice food served on a big plate, all fancy-looking, with swirls of something to cover up some of the Big White Space of plate, which frames the Exotic Ingredients), by *that definition* this will never be a foodie blog.
BUT this is the third kitchen post in not too many days.
So maybe I'm on the way to becoming a foodie.
Or just fat.

Ah well, I thought I'd tell you about a kitchen mishap. But I'll start with a success first. I've worked out why my sourdough starter is bubbling within minutes of joining the flour and water. It's those organisms in the air. We have lots of them round here - because (wait for it) I Don't Dust. I did enough dusting when I was growing up to last my whole lifetime, so now about the only times the duster comes out are before my mother visits (wink). The kids....now that's another story...THEY dust...gotta keep the tradition going! But I don't make them go back seventeen times to move those specks that settle when your back is turned. Maybe that's why *I* have to do the dusting before Visits From Mother - because, quite frankly, the kiddos do a pretty shonky job of it! Anyway, at least I now have a reason to not dust...it's to keep my sourdough bread alive!

And that's what the mishap was all about. The bread, not the dusting.
I completed steps one, two and whatever...and put the bread in the tin without leaving it to rise in a greased bowl under a damp cloth. I totally forgot about that step. I was too busy wondering if it really would work if you didn't put it in a bread tin (as I had suggested the other day you might do if you didn't have a tin). So there I was carefully arranging one blob of bread on a flat tray and putting the "control loaf" in a tin. After they had been rising for a couple of hours I realised my mistake. To my sheer delight, though, they had actually risen heaps, and I decided that not only would I try the bread-on-a-tray-trick, but I would try the bread-only-gets-one-rising-trick as well. Now I know you should never change two variables in a scientific experiment, but really, this is my *kitchen*, not a science lab (though the things that grow in the back of the fridge sometimes look pretty chemistry-lab-ish)
A mere two hours had passed since the kneading had been completed and my loaves were sitting there looking ready to go in the oven. The oven, which, of course, was not up to temperature - primarilly because I had not as yet turned it on.
I have been accused of being and all-or-nothing-chick at times...and this was going to be one of those times. If I had already changed two variables in my experiment, what would it matter if I changed three? So I slid the trays into the oven and turned it on. Didn't even wait for it to come up to temp.

And. It. Worked.

The bread turned out great. Unfortunately I can't remember if I had to let it cook longer or not, but even if I did, it certainly wasn't 20 minutes longer, which is how long the oven takes to warm up, so I discovered a way to use less electricity.
How ecologically-correct of me!

Now can I tell you a funny story to finish?
I know an elderly gentleman who makes The Most Amazing Sourdough Bread. He gave me some of his starter once. And An Explanation. You have NEVER heard such an intricate explanation of how to make sourdough bread - no, not even if you read mine the other day. Man, that was tame in comparison. Not only did I get the full lecture, but he gave me pages of his notes. You see, he takes notes of every loaf he makes; how much the bug weighs before he begins, how much flour he adds, how much of everything he adds for that matter, how long he cooks it for and at which temperature. And he doesn't only keep these screeds of information somewhere safe, he puts the Really Important Bits of Data on a sticker on top of his Starter Jar AND he refers to them.
Well......here's the funny bit......this gentleman had to go to Australia for a month and he asked me to babysit his Starter. I think he doesn't actually *know* me as well as he thinks he did. Just because I haven't killed the starter he gave me two Christmases ago does not mean I am capable of maintaining his pet! (goodness me, our birds flew away and our fish died so we don't exactly have a great track record). And he obviously had never read this post or he wouldn't have even contemplated entrusting his Precious to my care.
But there you have it, Mrs MuddleBrainWhoDoesn'tEvenLikeTheKitchen is looking after
Mr Particular Gentleman's Starter (couldn't call that one gloop!)

Look at them sitting in the fridge - can you guess whose is whose?
Hint: my one has an ill-fitting lid, OK, so it's not even a lid, its a round plate on a square container....his has the aforementioned stickers with each successive loaf''s details written in a contrasting colour.

And THAT, my dear friends, is why I'm not dusting at the moment.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Kitchen Makeover

We fell off the healthy eating wagon. It's not like we jumped....it wasn't intentional....as the truck slowed down we didn't notice the tailgate had dropped and we slowly slipped over the edge. We bounced along on the ground for a while, occasionally noticing the view was not quite the same, but I don't think we were really aware.

This morning I woke up to the fact that lots of little things have slipped, and lots of little things multiplied together become A Big Thing.

So I'm about to drag together all the little things from the dusty corners of the kitchen and the even dustier nooks and crannies in my head, and Make An Action Plan.

It all started over a year ago when the oat groats we got from our organic farm were full of husks. For a few weeks we tried all sorts of things - cooking with husks and trying to ignore them (impossible), cooking with husks and picking them out, picking out husks after flaking but before cooking, soaking and seeing if the husks would rise to the top of the water (they didn't), grinding the oats into flour (the grain mill got plugged....every time), dehusking the oats before flaking (now there's a job for monkeys).....and before we knew it, we started buying "shop oats"....just once or twice, to mix in with the husky oats.....then three or four times......then to eat just on their own...meaning we still have an almost-25-kg bag of oat groats sitting in its bin in the garage.
When you get out of the habit of flaking your oats, soaking them and cooking them up in the morning to make a nutritious porridge, you start thinking about other cereals (especially when you are actually stopping in the cereal aisle at the supermarket to buy oats!)...and so now we have a big batch of muesli sitting in the pantry. To be fair to ourselves, we did make it....but it doesn't change the fact that porridge is Better For You (and much easier on the wallet).
So I think if I sorted the Husky Oat problem, we would be well on the road to recovery.
That is, after we get rid of the white flour that somehow found its way into the cupboard. That came on the heels of wholemeal flour.....you see it's a slippery slope; you stop grinding your own flour (for a not entirely ignoble reason - the farm ran out of wheat) and resort to buying shop flour....when you pick up a bag of wholemeal, it doesn't seem quite so bad to then grab just one bag of white and before you know it the kids are saying "oh I like white bread"
So the shop flour needs to go - I've emailed the farm to see if they've got any more wheat in stock yet. And if not, I'll bite the bullet and buy it from our local organic shop who charges an arm and a leg (pity he won't take tummy rolls or fat from the hips instead!)
And with no white flour, the kids may lose their interest in making chocolate chip cookies and so the big bag of white sugar may last a bit longer...then it can be replaced by organic dehydrated cane juice instead and if said kids want to do any more baking they can choose something from Nourishing Traditions.
Perhaps I should remove the recipe books from the kitchen - except for my well-worn copy of NT, of course.

Now why is it that making lacto-fermented cabbage does not hold the same appeal as making chocolate brownie? If I could just work that one out, then I could convince the kids to take over making the pickles each week and we would be bouncing around with a renewed zing! In the meantime we can pile up our sourdough bread with the pickles in the fridge. In the recipe book it says they improve with age - I wonder if the author had twelve months in mind?

Thankfully, dinner hasn't been such a problem. We're very much in the habit of roasting a chook or a leg of lamb and then making soup from the bones the next night and stretching it with lots of garlic and chilli to do a third night...and it's been very soupy kind of weather recently. I'll go easy on myself and just continue the same ol same ol. One day I'll become an Interesting Chef (or not).

Taking the time to Stop and Think was all I needed to get back on track. No need for an action plan. I'll just go and tell the kids we're back to porridge with yoghurt or cream or butter-n-salt for breakfast, eggs and sourdough bread for lunch with as many lacto-fermented veges as they can eat, and if they want to bake, I choose the cookbook! I might even insist on the drop of cod-liver-oil and a half-cup of beet kvass before breakfast each morning. You're sure to hear their groans when I mention that one.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

simply stripes

Friends have just had a little boy.....but I didn't want to do a "little boy blue" present.

He's got a manly stripe blanket!

And it's got to be the ultimate in simple.


Fold a piece of polarfleece in half, wrong sides together.

Cut along the fold.

At one inch intervals around the edge snip the fabric two or three inches in towards the centre (3 inches on the not so stretchy sides and 2 inches at the stretchy ends)

Tie the two layers together. Don't tie too close to the end of the cut or it will pucker up and not lay flat.

I had visions of applique-ing a big r for Riley on it...or even a giraffe...but the cable pocket I'm knitting was calling!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

double trouble

Virtually once a week I get asked if these two are twins. For the record, they're not. They are, however, very often partners in crime;-)

But that's not the point of this post.

The point is:

I just made two sweatshirts in two hours. Go me!!!!
Special thanks to Sandi at Portabellopixie for giving me fantastic instructions on The Easy Way To Set A Sleeve In A Small Hole - it worked perfectly! I think I love sewing again!
OK so if you look very closely you'll see one of them isn't hemmed yet...but give me another five minutes....they were done *enough* to get the camera out....and once you've got the picture you might as well do the blog-thing. (Please to announce I finished the hem while the pictures were uploading...AND I put the camera away - wonders will never cease!)

I did a wee applique on the sleeve - just for fun.

And now a wee note to myself, something I don't ever want to forget.
M4 has been having "laughing parties".
He starts to laugh and he laughs and laughs and laughs.
It's actually infectious and others join in too!
Yesterday he laughed so hard he fell off his bike.

Friday, July 13, 2007

give us this day our daily bread

We have been through a many-week-stint of purchasing French sticks after church on Sundays.....so much so that it has reached Habit Status.
Why have we ended up doing this?
We started the year buying ABSOLUTELY NOTHING with hydrogenated oil (and if I wasn't sure, I just didn't buy it - I still don't know about French sticks, but my suspicions are......well, obviously they are merely suspicions, and certainly of less consequence than my principles!)
We make perfectly good bread ourselves. Much better even than store-bought-fluff-that-leaves-you-hungry-in-spite-of-eating-twice-as-much-as-usual.
And to top it all off, we end up coming home with a plastic bag which is really not good for anything other carrying French sticks in - and we all know what I think of that!
What is a girl to do about it?
a) stop buying French bread until all ingredients are identified
b) take plastic bag to church in anticipation of the spontaneous bakery-drive-by on the way home
c) buy two linen tea towels at an op shop while you're waiting for KnitWorld to open (I wouldn't have been early if the clock in the car hadn't been running six minutes fast, so you could say that it was the car's fault that I ended up in a situation that lent itself to making an unnecessary purchase - oh, where HAVE my principles gone?)....then you come home and turn them into French Stick Carrying Bags.

By the way, that's not French bread in the bag. That's perfectly good homemade sourdough bread. Do you want to know how to make it? It's easy-peasy. You just need flour, water, salt and a big dollop of patience. Good things take time.

Mix together two cups each of warm water and flour. Cover with a cloth and set aside somewhere warm until it's frothy (could take a few days or as little as a few hours, depending what organisms you've got floating round in the atmosphere....stirring it every day is a good idea if you can remember to)

Take out two cups of this gloop (which is also known as a starter by Expert Bread Makers...you'll see I call it gloop). Feed the rest of the gloop with a bit more water and flour and put it in the fridge if you're not going to want it for a few days (which you won't, because you've already taken some out to use now). When you're ready to make more bread you can omit this first step and just take your gloop container out of the fridge and join the recipe at this point. (But before I go on, let me tell you that from here on in it's really hard to go wrong. Your gloop will appreciate being fed a bit of flour and water every few days if you're not baking, but it's not absolutely essential. You might think it's getting temperamental if it develops a black layer on top - this is called hooch - really, truly, it is. But don't worry - there's nothing wrong with hooch - just stir it in to your gloop and away you go. In fact, you can stir your gloop whenever you think of it if you like.)

So you've got your two cups of gloop in a big bowl. Add two and a half cups of warm water and four cups of flour (I use organic ground-at-home whole wheat, but you can use what you've got) Leave it to go frothy (this is where the patience bit comes in). You can leave it anywhere from 8-24 hours without causing any damage; and you can stir it if you want to. When it's nice-n-bubbly, add a teaspoon of salt and another four cups (more or less, depending on the humidity and temperature and type of flour and which apron you're wearing) until the dough is not sticky. Knead for about ten minutes (or longer if you get distracted and realise you're pampering the dough rather than kneading it).
Put the dough in a greased bowl, cover with a damp cloth and let it rise in a warm place for a few hours - you'll have to be patient to wait for it to get at least fifty percent bigger than it was. Trust me, it will happen and it's nothing short of a miracle.
Split the dough into two loaves and pop them into greased bread tins (or I guess you could just plop them on an oven tray if you don't have tins).

But you're not ready to bake yet! I told you, you'd have to be patient! You need to wait for them to rise for another few hours (one would be a bare minimum......five would not be too long....I'm not sure about longer as I haven't waited any longer than that).

Preheat the oven to 200*C and bake for about 40 minutes (or a bit longer if it doesn't sound hollow when you tap the bottom of the loaf).

Once it's cooked, you still can't eat it though. You won't be able to cut it tidily for another hour.
But once you cut it and smother it with butter you'd better get that gloop container out of the fridge and start again, because these loaves are not going to last long!!!

I realise it sounds like a massive long drawn-out process, but really it's not. Yes, it takes a lot of time...but most of that time you can be weeding the garden, making preserves, darning your socks, cleaning the toilet, sleeping, reading War and Peace, visiting your friends, feeding the poor...oh yes, feeding....the bread.....it only takes about 15 minutes hands-on time, and that includes grinding the flour. Give it a go!

PS this is the point in my blog-life that I realise I am actually writing TO you...it has turned FROM me putting my ideas into a plastic box TO a conversation with you (well, with those of you who comment and talk to me in real life and email me). I guess you're the ones I feel I'm writing to - there are plenty of lurkers according to my Stat Counter, and I suppose I'm writing to you too, just I don't know who you are!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

List-Making 101

This is what Leigh commented the other day:

Well I read your *to do* list - and it has just reminded me why I NEVER do lists - unless I am getting incredibly stressed and can't sleep and then it's a 3am job. Because I am Leigh....my lists go like this; I am walking through the lounge and the sun is shinning through the doors, and I think I must wash those windows - so I put down the pile of whatever and go and clean the windows - unfortunately the pile of whatever was my previous job, which now that I have cleaned the windows doesn't look quite so exciting....somehow by the end of the day I get my house back into some form of tidy - but my surprise visitors throughout the week are often welcomed by an eyefull!! Oh but it is fun, and does make my day a bit more unexpected!
July 9, 2007 1:21 PM

LEIGH, my dear, you are Missing Out.
You don't get the *satisfaction* of CrossingOff the list "make winter clothes". I did it on Tuesday...and y'know what? The absolute best part was - not actually finishing something (though that does rate Very Highly round here, given how not good at it I am) - but it was being able to Cross It Off The List! (OK to be totally honest it was a metaphorical crossing off, seeing as the paper list has disappeared - in spite of my predictions to the contrary - and just this virtual one remains). But it's crossed off. And I'm satisfied.

Dearest Leigh, I think I worked out one of your issues.
Window washing.
That is simply not a task worthy of elevating to list-standard, no matter how humble the list.
This is how window washing happens round here.
Every so often, Father Bear gets out the squeegy-thingy and a bucket of water and disappears for an hour or so. Soon afterwards, I re-discover the scenic New Zealand bush just beyond my house without having to go outside to see it....and about this time I usually hear murmurings of "WOW, look out the window! Crikey, you can hardly see them, they're so clean!!" (that's Father Bear)
You see, I figure that if Father Bear likes washing windows (and it's never occurred to me that he doesn't - if he does it with such alarming regularity, that can only mean he actually enjoys it, right? I mean, he wouldn't do it if he didn't like it, aye. Surely he wouldn't take on this task just because I'm such a bad housekeeper and it wouldn't get done otherwise....surely?)...anyway, before I get sidetracked, as I say, if Father Bear loves window washing so much, why would I put it on my list? (like lawn-mowing....I've never mowed a lawn in my life.....you see, I'm not sure at which point it would be safe for me to do. All through my childhood when I wanted to mow the lawns I was told it was too dangerous....well I got to being twenty years old and getting married and I still hadn't been allowed to mow a lawn....and I don't consider myself to have matured an awful lot in the ensuing seventeen years, so that means it's still too dangerous for me to mow lawns....one day I will be eighty years old and will say "I never mowed a lawn in my whole life"....it's one of my life ambitions, you know.....why would I start now? I have a Father Bear and a handful of kids who are big enough to push a mower...if I start they just might think that mowing lawns should be one of *my* jobs.....and even though it does have some attractions (the main one being that you put on earmuffs and can't hear anyone for half an hour), they just don't outweigh the thought of having another job to do, a job that falls in the same category as window-washing, no less)

So, Leigh, find some things you love and pop them on a list!
Things like putting away folded washing, cleaning toilets and cooking dinner can be done in your sleep - the list has to be reserved for things you are looking forward to doing! That's the first principle.

Monday, July 9, 2007

wild wild west

Sunday afternoon:
one family ambling across the black sand of Piha
enjoying the fresh air and big open spaces
after a couple of weeks of rain
and too many hours indoors,
kicking balls around and
watching one race down the river to the sea,
watching a small sand cliff tumble down,
feeling invigorated.

"Thanks so mush for bringing us Dadda.
Could we come back again tomorrow?"


family battled across the Karekare sand dunes in the wild wind.
It swept up the sand and whirled it around in little "tornadoes" and
sent sheets of it blasting across the beach.
Often we had to turn our backs to the blast and
wait for the sand to settle before fighting back into the wind.

We found a sheltered spot for lunch.
It was just like a summer's day.
The children tumbled in the grasses,
explored, climbed, adventured, contemplated.

The day hadn't started too well.....
whining, complaining, arguing, pushing.
I almost suggested we all hop back in the car
when we arrived at the beach.

But three hours of walking did *something*

It turned into a wonderful day.

K8 summed it up as we waited for another sand flurry to pass
"This has been the funnest time we've ever had at the beach"
qualified only by
"when we couldn't go in the water"

Sunday, July 8, 2007

tada....to do

Here followeth an awfully mundane organisational post.
I certainly don't expect *anyone* to read it....but I want it here on my blog, because then I can be certain I will not lose the piece of paper it's written on if there is a backup copy elsewhere....and frankly, here seems as good a place as any!


Sub-heading 1: SEWING
*winter clothes (really must finish them before winter is over...on the other hand, I've learnt the boys can get by on two pairs of trousers each)
*summer clothes
*The Trip clothes
*Christmas stuff I've been doing for three years *this is the year*
*pencil rolls (started right back at the beginning of this blog....hmmm, the kids keep asking about them)
*quilts (should be a subheading of its own given that there's Father Bear's to bind STILL, J12's to finish before her birthday, a pink one cut out and half sewn, fabric for at least four more sitting there)
*redwork embroidery wall hanging (though I did tell Father Bear I wouldn't have time to do it and so he really shouldn't get it for me for Christmas last year and that was before we even decided to do The Trip and so any spare time I thought I might have had has gone into that...and rural-block hunting which we also were not going to be doing up until a month ago...so no wonder that one's not done...but I do feel a bit bad about it coz I haven't done ANY since Christmas Day and it was the most expensive present I've ever been given!!)
*snowman wall-hangings...don't ask!

Sub-heading 2: KNITTING
*vests (ER1, M4, L6, K8, K9, J11, J12)
*hats (L6, K9, J11, J12, me, Father Bear)
*mittens for J12
*cardy for me (just a plain old sensible boring one....and if I ever get time, I've seen some really funky patterns for wild ones)
*socks (I sooooo want to learn how to do two at once - I suffer badly from Second Sock Syndrome, a condition that disempowers you from making the matching sock once the first one has been completed)
*giant cooking bag
*needle holders (really not an essential item at this point in time, but I started on this project and would like to FINISH it)
*cotton dishcloths (some for us and some for Helen - as promised)
*nativity collection (well, when I bought that booklet, I *knew* it was a put-away-until-much-later thing, but I just love it and so I can hardly wait to start)

Sub-heading 3: READING (books on my shelf that I want to devote some seroius time to)
*Don Quixote (it's only been three years so far)
*The War on the Poor
*American Adventure Series (I need to know why my eldest two enjoyed every single one of the 42-or-so books so much! 42 is a number I plucked out of the air, but it really must be close to that...they take up almost a whole shelf)
*Mollison on Permaculture
*The Blessing (I borrowed this one from a friend adn then came home to discover I already owned a worn second-hand copy - now to read it!)
*Endangered Minds (funny thing about this is I think I've read it all, but I can't remember what it says!!!! oh the irony)
*The Hurried Child (haven't found the time to finish this one yet!)
*The Overload Syndrome (in light of the above two comments, this should probably be further up the list, but given that the list is in no particular order, I guess its placement doesn't matter, except in a metaphorical sense)
*Complete Charlotte Mason Series
*Houses That Change the World
*A Landscape with Dragons
*Is There Life After Housework?
*Pilgrim's Progress
*PET (well, it's not on my bookshelf, but I have asked to borrow it from a friend...I don't even know exactly what the letters stand for...something like Parent Effectiveness Training)

Sub-heading 4: THINKING
*non-adversarial parenting
*response to The Continuum Concept
*my work

Sub-heading 5: OTHER
*Christmas scrapbook (so very nearly up-to-date...quick finish it before another Christmas arrives)
*J12's childhood scrapbook (actually I've filled one album and hardly made a start on her photos...I'm wondering about getting all the photos we want printed out and then presenting them to her to do herself! Or maybe we'll work on her pages together or something)
*Garage sale (or do I just take everything to the Sallies and cross this off the list?!)
*Book purchases (Latin, Sonlight, watercolour text, ?polyface books?)
*sort through photos
*the paper pile (sigh)

Saturday, July 7, 2007

ratty relationships

I've borne witness to some yukky internet relationship stuff recently.
I'm sure part of the problem is the medium.....there are no facial expressions or tone of voice to aid understanding.
But it seems to me there's an awful lot of "think the worst" and "jump to the wrong conclusions" too......and throwing in a handful of smiley faces or winks doesn't make it OK.

Can anyone explain to me.....

Consumer Chick, who hasn't caught up with the fact that vintage is in and knitting-and-crocheting is today's hot, sees Not-Quite-A-Nana showing pictures of her knitted socks and macrame flower pot holders (OK poetic license in force - there was no macrame...but I'm sure it's coming...you just wait!).
What are Consumer Chick's options?
She could not look.
She could look and not comment.
She could look and say something polite, even if she doesn't mean it (OK, that's not an option, but my mother always taught me to say nothing if I had nothing nice to say).
But what does she say?
"Hasn't Not-Quite-A-Nana heard of shopping malls? Doesn't she know you can buy three pairs for, like, $10?"
Was that necessary? Wouldn't it have been more encouraging to congratulate Nearly-Nana on her newfound skill? That wouldn't mean that Consumer Chick has to stop shopping or that she is interested in learning to knit herself....for all I know, she doesn't even want to. And That's Fine.

But she could be kind.
Or quiet.

Here's another one:

Eco-Dude tells how much she's using her car...and how she's trying to limit its use.
How do Non-Eco-Dudes respond?
They could not read her post.
They could read and not comment.
They could wail about how impossible it would be for them to do that kind of thing, because their needs are so different (or whatever).
They could put forward a strong argument In Favour of Car Usage.

But what happens?
They attack Eco-Dude and condemn her for preaching.
That seems about as profitable as scenario number one.

Why can't we just take each other at face value? Maybe even have a good debate. Why do we have to turn our guilt into their fault? Why do we attack personally instead of encouraging others' successes? Why are we threatened when someone is different to us? Why do we get really defensive when someone is better than us? What is wrong?

Friday, July 6, 2007

I'm ready for a museum

OK so I'll admit it.

I'm no techno-geek.
When I was in hospital with L6 a month or so ago, Father Bear left us his phone....mobile phone, that is. Honestly, it was easier to walk up to the ward phone, put 20c in the slot and call home on that! There was a handpiece to hold, nice big buttons to push and no chance of taking anyone's photo!

One of our kind friends sent us a text message. It took me over half an hour to reply....and do you know what I managed to say?


Yep, that's all. (And just in case you North Americans don't use the term, it's Kiwi slang for *thank you*)
I could almost have run to the guy's place, told him in person and been back at L6's bedside, wiping his fevered brow in the time it took me to say TA!!!! Would've been a lot less stressful too.

But that's not the end of it!
Ah well.

At least they sent another text the next night.
That time I wrote a whole word. Three Whole Words, in fact.
But I sent them to the wrong person!

I haven't heard from the texting friends since.
And I still don't know who knows "we're still here"

Maybe that's why I like my friend who prefers a piece of paper and HB pencil to a Palm Pilot!
Could be why I liked what Mr No Impact Man had to say today too. Have a look here.

And on a related-but-totally-different note....when we were at the museum, the kids had A Great Deal of Fun learning how to use those *old-fashioned* (gasp) phones. Do you know the sort? The ones you put your finger in a little hole and twist the whole dial round and then release it and wait for it to return to Starting Position before you could put your finger in another hole and turn it all the way round...clockwise, dear, you have to turn it clockwise....take your finger out now and wait, no, hang on, it has to go all the way back to the beginning before you can do another one, yes that's right, now you can do the next number, yes it does take a long time doesn't it, clockwise remember, and wait...."
Using the Real Thing, which was set up to ring another phone, was so much more exciting than googling "ancient tele-communication", more exciting even than anything Wikipedia could tell us......and I bet Wiki fails to tell the kids you have to replace the headset on those little black buttons...you can't just lay it down on the table!

Thursday, July 5, 2007


T3's vest is DONE....all ends woven in and buttons attached. She loves the buttons....and I remember having some exactly the same when I was a little girl! Red, I think they were.

But she doesn't get to wear it.

For one, it's too big.

For two, it's a when-we-go-away-item.

All the when-we-go-away-items are residing on a shelf that is standing as a tantalising reminder of Things To Come, Adventures To Be Had and Places To Be Visited.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

fourth of july

I just noticed the date when I posted the lightning post (lightning in content and in the amount of time it took me to write!)

The Fourth of July always makes me think of.....well....America.
At least, it has for the last seventeen years.
You see Father Bear and I got married on the last Saturday in June and then on the Monday we left New Zealand, bound for the rest of our lives together.
We chose the Fourth of July to go to Disneyland. But we didn't realise it was The Fourth of July. At least, we didn't think about it being That Auspicious Day. Admittedly, we were a bit surprised at being handed little American-flags-to-wave before we even entered the hallowed gates, and then American-flag-pins-to-wear once we got through those gates....but we just thought, "Well, it IS America, they ARE patriotic and I guess this IS Disneyland"!!!!!!

It was midnight before we realised. We climbed off a rollercoaster, which had hurtled us through darkness and just about made me cry (I'd never been on anything like that EVER before that day...and I vowed never to do it again, a vow which has been broken on numerous occasions in a number of countries and one that I remake in the middle of every subsequent breaking)...anyway, we stumbled out of my source of despair and looked up.....I thought I was seeing stars exploding...and indeed I was. There was the Fourth of July fireworks display in all its grandeur...and we realised it wasn't just the fact that this was Disneyland....or even America....we were there on
The Fourth of July.

Funnily enough, I remember the fourth of july easier than I do the wedding anniversary!
It was one of the best days of our lives. I am so not into canned entertainment and America-mania and big-business-exploitation now....but oh our memories of Disneyland! We didn't leave until it closed in the wee small hours of the morning. It was a wonderful day.


"The light's on in the sky"
T3 on lightning

Tuesday, July 3, 2007


For those of you who have asked, and for anyone else who might want to take a nosey, the children's accounts of The Science Competition can be found here.

I must admit, what the older two were going to do was deemed unacceptable my their publisher!
Actually they only got as far as the first sentence
"These two photos show...."
and I said,
"Hey guys you can do *more interesting* than that".

I gave them a sentence starter:
After many years of weather watching......
and they were away.

When they were done we went back and I enquired,
"do you think there's a more interesting way to write "very good"?
how else could you describe those games?".....
and so "very good" became "most professional"............
and so on.

They really jumped on board with trying to write in an interesting style - this is a first, and so worthy of note! And it turned out a little differently to their usual scratchings!


another "what I just read" post

this time by Lisa

You'll notice in this month's news, when life is fullest isn't always when as much gets "accomplished". The "things" that get completed usually aren't the most important things in life. We've had some accomplishments, but we've also just lived life in the fullest, and don't have anything to check off a list for that. Time playing with children, talking with teens, in God's throne room for friends and family, isn't the stuff that makes it on our "works" list. And neither really is time hearing the Word, searching the Word, and living the Word. Life, abundant life, really has very little to do with our works. Abundant Life is about something Someone else hasalready done for us, that we could not do for ourselves, and our humbly stepping into that and reverently living it for His Glory.