Tuesday, June 30, 2009

a freaky kind of tired

In between the snuggles it’s been a rough few nights and last night was particularly hellish. This morning, after a rough night of not much sleep and much hurting of those last molars coming through, we had to cancel our big plans for the day. I was just too tired to drive safely over the hill to spend the day in town. Wise decision but much disappointment all round. Once we heard the sadness out, ‘oh mama, put cream on my sad bits’, we headed for the beach.

It was a freaky kind of tired until we got down there. You mama’s know the feeling –that soggy headed extremely sleep deprived brain and not being able to call in sick the next day.

Big sky. Healing sea. Lovely.Winter at its best. Tide was just coming in so we got to climb the rocks and splash in rockpools. We picked up some rubbish (i mean really people), made friends with our mama n jed shadow, found anenome’s that sucked on our fingertips, ,seaweed, YELLOW lichen, a horse to ride (large rock), sea snails, mussels, much wind and plenty of smiles. Feeling better. MUCH better!
yellow lichen on the horse

big sky and the SUN came out!

mama n jed

Sunday, June 28, 2009

not knitting

I am very fond of vests. For myself, and now, inflicting them on small people. I find they are especially good for small people. Vests keep the chest and back warm and cosy while leaving those active arms uninhibited and free. No risk of overheating.
Sad thing is, i am not a knitter. I love handknitted stuff, i craft and sew up a storm but alas, am not a knitter. I have tried, really i have, and each patient teacher has kindly dissuaded me of any yarnlike aspirations. So, no knitting of vests by these fair hands.
But! I have found a way.
I love how this one turned out.

here's what i started with

a vest in the making

the vest in action, it climbs rocks, plays in sand, bakes, gardens, explores slugs and snails, does craft projects, spills tea, runs alot and thinks hard. All this and it seems to repel water, block seawinds, be very warm and just wipes clean. Just what this mama ordered.

How to make a vest:
- Find an adult size secondhand wool jumper to recycle (i used a yummy blue angora)
- Felt it. Sounds fancy, but what i really mean is: put in washing machine on hot wash.
- You can use the existing seams or tweak it – i ended up using the shoulder seams and taking it in at the sides. I left enough room for growth and another warm shirt underneath.
- Step four: embellish. I got out my tin of old buttons and used a piece of the jumpers sleeve to fashion a big pocket. He loves the pocket. 'LOVE pockets mama, more!' I edged the pocket with a bright coloured cotton print to stop if from stretching out of shape.
Et voila!

I put it by the bed and was woken the next morning but Jed saying’ beautiful!’ and wanting to put it on immediately. Nice way to start the day.

Friday, June 26, 2009

the hard times

Ah, yes...what to do when your heart hurts fit to burst, your anger is unexpressed and oozing out in the wrong places or things are just darned HARD?

I heard from someone today that i just always seemed so ‘together’. I laughed.

Believe me, i have lived hard and fast and there's been many a hard time. I’ve just got my head out of a mire at the moment. Hard times will come again. This i know. I have had alot of practice at staying calm in the centre of a storm. I try to stay present to what is going on for me and if i have ‘stuff’ up, try and address it as it comes. I have chosen the kind of life where i took a bunch of time out to heal after extreme trauma so it didn’t haunt me in the years to come and have done work on well, my inner world...oooh, how to put this with-out sounding twee or have you run screaming from the computer? ...Since i was 12, i have taken time out to figure out who i am (my challenges and gifts) and have chosen to be around people who enrich my life rather than tax it. It’s like unravelling layers of myself as my understanding deepens with each person i connect with and rub up against the triggers to places i need to heal.

I still stumble. I still flounder and feel stuck sometimes.
Ironically, i forget the things i most need to do when i am stuck. It’s harder as a mama. I can’t just walk away to get perspective and there is the scarcity of time issue. I find my way. Gracefully or with the knowledge every moment is a new beginning. The worst is the rare times i find myself being out of balance in relationship to my son. That really sucks. When i catch myself doing it, i explain to Jed what i have going on (in terms he gets, not going into any ridiculous adult stuff) and apologise if i was putting it on him. (You know the scenario...you are tired and stressed and an exploratory project/mess turns into an irritation rather than seeing it as the play it is...) Kids learn from what we model, not from how we say they should act. I think he needs to know that my feelings are my responsibility and witness healthy ways of working through anger, sadness, fear etc so he knows:
a) i’m human,
b)it’s okay to feel whatever it is he feels,
and c)so he can develop tools he can use instead of hitting out with whatever big feelings he’s got going on.
On a more practical note: if you are hands on parenting (and especially if you don’t have much support), when else do you get time to work through stuff? The small ones among us are so in tune with what goes on around them (and especially in their mama's) i reckon it must be relief to have it acknowledged and know it's not their fault.

What ARE my tools to cope in the hard times?
They change as i do. At the moment:

-I go for walks, a change of scenery (and sea air in my case) works wonders.
-I write a letter to my MP or current political or environmental ‘bad guy’, channel the strength of feeling in their direction.
-I write. Computer, paper or in the sand and let the sea wash it all away.
-Sometimes if it feels TOO much, i’ll want to take a nap, curl up somewhere warm and safe awhile and then get back to business.
-I turn the music up loud and dance hard.
-Light an oil burner with appropriate essential oils.
-I do tarot. Great for cutting through circling thoughts in the head.
-I weed the garden. As i weed, i imagine the no longer needed defense mechanism’s i am weeding out of myself.
-I play. I get down to my sons level and put my own stuff to the side and let him remind me of what is important in life.
-I do something nurturing – let myself know that if i slipped up, it’s okay. Bath, handpicked herbal tea in nana’s special tea cup and saucer, pick wildflowers for my room, something, anything.
-Do something caring or thoughtful for someone else. This gets me out of my own head and gives me pleasure. It is amazing how a kind act can transform the giver.
-I practice tonglen.
-Find a place deep in the bush or tucked away in the roaring of the surf and let rip a primal scream. Or if you are close to ‘civilisation’ big sighs work and so does using the breath to release. Oh so therapeutic and kids love it. Many of these things kids love to do.
-I craft something. Or ask for a cuddle. Or reach out to a friend.

These are just a few. Many of them are child-friendly.
Ahh, expressing the feelings. Identifying what is actually going on for me and whether it hooks back into some painful part of my childhood and then having some space to question where my big emotional reactions come from is priceless. Then i have compassion for myself if i know where it comes from. I'm more likely to choose a healthier way of communicating or coping next time round. Kind of like re-wiring. I figure if i’m not learning, i’m not very alive. Consciously choosing to grow in this way has gotten easier over the years. I was recently re-united with some very old journals and was heartened to see how thought patterns and behaviours i had become aware and was trying very hard to shift have become unconscious and easy.

Let go of the hard stuff and the fun flows easier. Phew.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

rainy day thrifting and crafting

a much needed pincushion... ignore that errant blue button, it was waiting to go onto another project.
I can’t see the horizon or the waves for the rain today. We’ve had a run of beautiful sunny winter days so no complaining from me. And anyway, its perfect weather for a swimming lesson, a good shuffle through the thrift shop, a lunch of avocado sushi with papa and a little crafting while Jed has a nap. SO grateful for those middle of the day naps!

With all the sewing going on around here deep into the night (project to be unveiled soon), one vital piece of sewing system was missing. A pincushion. Nana was right. They are indispensable. I did a search on sewmamasew and came up with this tutorial. It saved me from having to think too hard at 11pm when i’d been up since 5.30am. Thank goodness for that. Now, i am limited in my abilities to follow instructions precisely but i am happy with the result. I was thrilled it involved using a button. Another opportunity to use some of the old buttons in my collection! I used fabric scraps cut up small to stuff the cushion rather than buying synthetic stuffing. I was amazed at how many scraps it took to fill it. It was lumpier and a slightly different shape to what i'd imagined but I’d do it again for the satisfaction of recycling something that would otherwise be thrown away.

The morning's thrifting:
Jed explored and then played with his finds at my feet, following me around while i fossicked.
One hand made feather cushion with cool floral cover(mama’s ‘treat’), one teeny metal whisk (jed’s ‘treat’), one metal spatula with wooden handle, three books with beautiful drawings, and one hairy mc clary puzzle (with all its pieces, we counted!) all for 6 dollars and 10 cents. Fabulous.

Thanks for the enthusiasm about Flashback Fridays - it's, er, still on hold while i sort out this pesky scanner. Not for lack of material. Oh no... it's been a full life so far.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Holi Mama’s are stirring

I don’t know if i can say that i ‘belong’ to a group so informal as the West Auckland Holistic Mama’s.

Pregnant, moving out west from town and having co-parented before in intentional community (Twin Oaks Community), i knew i needed to meet likeminded mama’s nearby.
I went mama hunting. Yep. I shamelessly approached mama’s i felt attracted to (in that mama to mama sense you understand) in cafe’s, on the street and asked people if they knew anyone out west mothering ways i resonated with. I guess attachment parenting is the term being bandied about at the moment. I didn’t hear of it until well into Jedland but that comes close.

It was my sister who gave me Angel’s number. I jumped on the email list and went along to a Thursday morning hang. The only one with babe still brewing, i watched this magical lot of kids with sparkling eyes relate to their mamas in a beautifully respectful and fun way and i knew i’d come to the right place. I felt an affinity with the group as a whole and individual relationships have grown from there. It wasn’t just about the babies either. I liked that – there was room for the political me, the crafting me, the writer in me and plenty of good stories from the frontlines of mamahood and juicy LIFE in general. Whether you needed info on sleep stuff, the best organic veg box or seedlings, cloth nappy propaganda or groovy days out or just a ear...the mama’s were there. Wildflowers and cake arrived at my door one birthday when i was so exhausted from lack of sleep and tending a sick bubba i could hardly string together a sentence.

M's gorgeous solstice birth day cake

Diverse and each committed to living their own truths and parenting in unique ways i am still grateful to them (and you know who you are) for opening their worlds to us. There is nothing like the feeling of solidarity. Especially when living oceans and seas away from my mama-tribes. Especially at 3am at the third breastfeed of the night and knowing other mama’s likely to be up too. These yummy mamas have known Jed pretty much all his life.

I love the tumble of bright colours, handknitted deliciousness, and good oldfashioned organic mess of fun and discovery that unfurls when we get together. Granted, sometimes it is hard to string together a full conversation as we manage the aforementioned organic mess of fun, but those wee snippets of conversation and connection feed me deeply.

And, shucks, hearing about mama’s long full days (some juggling longterm debilitating sickness with mindful mothering), I am just amazed, all over again, at how incredible mothers are. How blessed these children are. How they shine.

Headed out the door the other morning, my partner asked me what we were doing that day. I smiled and said ‘ the Holi Mama’s are stirring!’. We’ve been quiet and deep in our own lives awhile. Many a Thursday has passed without our circle adorning it’s morning. Brought back together this past week for the baby blessing and gorgeous one’s 2nd solstice birthday, i want more.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

a simple plan

Love those colours

It was a simple plan. Reclaim some neglected garden from groundcover. Plant parsley and kale plants. Empty compost bucket.
Throw a fun biased mama and an almost 2 year old into the mix and well, we got kind of distracted.
We got hijacked by worms again.

Starting to clear some weeds i dug up one. Then another. Jed started harvesting the very last green peppers and chilli peppers and i heaved out a mighty celeriac plant. Worm central! We lost count at 26 (actually Jed lost count at 8 and i kept going) all clustered in around the rhizome. It’s the weirdest feeling having them all start to move around on your hand and try to squeeze through your fingers.
Hey, i hear a rumour that if you put teeny tiny holes in something covering a jar and a bunch of worms in, they can make themselves teeny tiny thin to be able to escape. Gotta try that one.
Clearing ground for planting
We did get down to business eventually. The compost bucket was emptied. No rat in sight today. Can’t say that the plants are actually in the ground yet, but they’re a darn sight closer than they were. Earth caked hands, sun flushed faces, achey tummies from laughing so hard and fresh picked lemons, red chilli peppers, spring onions, celeriac and green peppers to show for our efforts.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Matariki weekend

Baked a mean chocolate and berry Solstice/birthday cake. It's a wonder any cake actually made it into the oven.

I made a hat from recycled fabric and scraps (recognise those spots?). Unfortunately it didn’t fit Jed quite as well as i’d like, but that hasn’t stopped him (or i) from wearing it.

Same hat! Reversible. 'Tricky' said Jed. I tried out a new pattern from Mamu Design in Germany and was a bit disappointed. I don't think the hat is deep enough. I'd alter the pattern if i used it again. Kinda bummed cause i have three more of her patterns but we'll see how i go with them.

Also in me-time, i went over the hill to the madness of town to dig up fabrics for a large project i have embarked on. Enjoyed the conversations had with old biddies while facedown in the bargain bins. (More about the project later)

Thought long and sketched ideas for new project. I love that pre-production dreaming it all up phase!

Met up with some yummy West Auckland Holistic Mama friends (otherwise known as the Holi Mama's) and kids. I love Manawa’s bat cape and barefeet ensemble and the conversation it stirred in Jed. ‘ Mama, what super hero do?’

Found diggers! And then more diggers. Who knew there were so many diggers in the world?

Picnic morning teas hiding from the wind. Got out in the glorious sun as much as possible.

Climbed the perfect tree and watched the world wander past. Pretended to be a tui.

Played pooh sticks on the eel bridge.

Thought about cracking open our last homegrown pumpkin but couldn’t quite do it.

Our community had a Matariki celebration and hangi today – i love the array of people out here.

Marvelled at Jed. When all three of us were together, he’d jump in the middle, wriggle and say ‘family.... family’. It’s been hard work, but yes, we are family. It’s a good feeling.

LOVING that the nights are at their longest.

Reflecting on the weekend, feeling the glow the winter sun has left behind and ears echoeing with the weekends conversations, what stands out for me is the feedback i got about the peaceful parenting workshops. So many stories of increased connection and fun with their children and insights into their own stuck places, i am reminded all over again how important this work of mindful parenting is. Somebody very close to me, who shall remain nameless, had an 'aha!' moment and said 'that's how wars start'. Uh huh.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Flashback Fridays

Awaiting the Beltane ritual at Twin Oaks Community - i was the element air in case you were wondering and thats my friend Dream. Yes, really!

On Fridays, when the spirit moves me, i plan to wander down memory lane...a chance to remember people and places, a chance for me to keep alive wonderful pieces of me and my dances with others through the years. An attempt to reconcile this new growing into mama-me with the wild haired free-spirited drifter woman who lived and worked in over twenty countries, up mountains, on the street, in tipi’s, benders, vans, squats, tents, on communes, the occasional house and organic farms.

For today, a taster. Snapshots from my illustrious past. A brainstorm of post titles to come. (This’ll buy me a week to get my scanner operational – i hope.)

- Getting sawn out of a Kryptonite bicycle lock attached to the 1995 UN Climate Change Summit delegates bus. (Part one)
- Thoughts from a jail cell. (Part two)
- Co-parenting willow and the Star Family. Four adults all in open relationship, parenting together.
- Organising a major eco-peace event on a beautiful island in the war zone that was the Balkans in the early 90’s.
- Rituals: landmarks of the year turning and a chance to reflect on life. 100 people dancing around huge fire singing at the tops of their lungs – it’s an incredible thing.

- Stories it amazes me i survived from my wild teenage years. (Otherwise titled ‘ things i hope Jed has the wisdom NOT to do when he’s a teenager’ ...but secretly kinda hope he will.)
- Living on the land in the French Pyrenees – cutting wood by handsaw, harvesting wildfoods, no electricity, learning plant lore and coming to terms with my bathroom being a freezing river.
- My crafting through the ages: most notably the handsewn dress that began life as a tablecloth in a rubbish bin.
- Musings from the gutter – living on Europe’s streets. Homeless, but by choice.
- Double agent in London. Nanny by day and radical activist by night.
- Stories from the herbal frontlines. And i mean strictly medicinal in the purist sense or culinary.
- Living on a commune. Life, loves, laughter as well as: frustrations, freedom and a few expletives.

A craft from the past. I made this wallet/purse creation by hand, with recycled denim. Ten (okay, maybe seventeen) years ago, when not on a soap box or street performing, or trying to learn new tricks, i’d sit and create these and sell them from the side of the road. Very labour intensive but it fed me. This one has seen hard wear for all that time and is still going strong.

It’s been a full life, taken by the horns and shaken for all its worth. No regrets, even with the stumbles and falls. ‘Cause that’s where i learnt the most. (Not always gracefully, nope). And for the record, i am happy to be in one place for awhile. I am only sad i live so far from many of my tribe: the kaleidoscope of incredible people i have crossed paths with over the years.

And yes, i do realise it’s Saturday. I had intended to post this yesterday, but it was my birthday and i got well, kind of distracted. A very pleasant evening it was too.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

how lucky we are

jed wanted to know if the cat would play with it...
checking the waves he says - small today
How lucky we are to chase the sun down the hill and be minutes away from such gloriousness. It was a challenging morning. A big sleep later we threw ourselves into adventure. Looked for crabs (yes, even though it was high tide it is imperative we look for crabs, starfish and jellyfish) and found harakeke stalks for walking sticks. We drew in the sand, picked up rubbish, chased and laughed, laughed and chased, fossicked (there’s that word again) at the waters edge, imagined being ‘seaweed’, watched a few surfers brave the cold to paddle out and Jed went running to meet up with baby Lola. She got SO many sweet kisses and touches. I wrote my stresses into the sand with our sticks and watched the sea wash it all away.
The challenges of the morning faded with the little boy loving and as the sunset flared wild over the sea. Phew.

adventure guy

We climbed up the lookout path, crazy steep and many stepped, to look out over the night creeping in over the hills. It feeds me this place. I love it here. Jed and i know it intimately and yet the faces of the land change daily, hourly and there is always something new. Am i totally crazy to be thinking about moving on from this magical place? Am i?!
I remember when i was leaving the French Pyrenees for pastures unknown. A friend said 'You're crazy. How can you leave such a beautiful place?' I replied, 'Finding beauty has not been a problem in my life so far'. It's true, i have experienced truly breathtaking beauty...in places, people, projects and often in the most unexpected moments. I hope i can stay open to that continuing.

Monday, June 15, 2009

fossicking and finds

i spotted these gumboots in an Emmaus in France - 2 francs and still going strong.
i found this hat under a chicken in an abandoned barn in Central Virginia - i traded my hat for hers. Chicken was happy, i was happy.

Some of Jed's treasures, a cool handwoven hat and his current favourite chair. (Upon seeing it, he marched up to the counter all excited and said 'want buy chair')

My stool. I have been looking for this for years. Yep, chipped rustic paintjob and all, it's perfect. (and it was $3)

Humpty. Babies make a beeline for him.

This is our floor play quilt. $10 for someone's love and devotion gone into making it. Love those crazy colours.

And, and and, it gets better. It has soft yummy paisley for its backing. Sigh!

You know, all this is my taste (however addled you may find it)...there are finds of every flavour out there waiting for YOU.

It all started when i was a young girl. We didn’t have much money and I realised that if i wanted to have control over what i wore (and i was a quietly feisty independent sort) i needed to buy my own clothes. A chance visit to a church opportunity shop bore the fruit of a yummy shirt and some fabric to make a skirt, all for 60 cents. Total! Oh happiness was mine. And i still feel that buzz when i schlep home the spoils of a good fossick through the joys of charity shop heaven.

There are so many reasons to buy secondhand:
+Environmental – sheesh, there is waaay too much STUFF (see the story of stuff) in the world already without me contributing more. I wont even start to go into the politics of excessive and unecessary packaging.
+There may be an element of guilt-free shopping therapy going on here (i’ll get back to you on that one). At the risk of sounding shallow, i am of the opinion that it’s good for the soul. Ahem, mine anyway.
+Financial – i just refuse to pay several hundred dollars for almost anything. Even if i had that kinda money –really! It would cost a small fortune to buy Jed’s clothes new, he grows so fast.
+I can’t think of anywhere else to shop with a toddler anyway. You don’t have to worry about exorbitant charges if they (or you!) break anything, they often have a box of kids stuff for them to explore and the best wooden and hand-made kids stuff i have found came through exploring with jed.
+You support good projects by your purchases (while saving money yourself, gotta love that)
+Unique and unusual finds to adorn your house, yourself and your kids
+And finally, it’s just so satisfying. Good for the soul and the earth. Really!

Some tips:
-Get some trawl tips from a friend who knows the best places to secondhand shop in your area. It’ll save you time working it out.
-Don’t bargain, these charity shops need the money and they don’t ask for much.
-Set aside some good leisurely fossicking time – that’s half the fun.
-If your child’s frustration levels overflow and you’re in a charity shop and give them a cuddle and allow them to express whats going on for them, i reckon it’s much more supportive atmosphere than in any mall. You may even get the back room and a cup of tea afterwards!
-Try not to look for anything too specific, i find that shuts down my abilities to be open to the other wondrous finds.
-If you ARE looking for something specific, don’t be afraid to ask if they’ve got it, these places often have many treasures lurking out the back or behind the counter.
-What i find secondhand shops especially good for: kids handknit jumpers and vests (gorgeous and mostly brand new like some nana has been slaving away only for them to go to the charity shop), tins for those biscuits and cakes, fabrics and craft stuff, babywear by the bucketful, quilts, childrens toys (wooden and handmade especially), clothing and shoes. Retro or rustic housewares. Almost anything really.
-Apart from charity shops, in NZ there’s local retro or recycle clothing stores. Pricier but still cheaper and fun. There’s carboot sales and church and garage sales, dumpsters, ebay and trademe online, markets and Savemart, although a chain, are still pretty cool places to rummage.

Jed has the eye i am proud to say. I mean, modesty aside, with all my years of practice, i am pretty darn good. But Jed can cover ground i have already cast my eye across and pick out a real beauty of a treasure that i had totally missed. Last week while i was up to my eyeballs in the fabric bin he dragged across a shirt saying, ‘mama, found sump for mama wear’ . Lo and behold, i love it.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

peaceful parenting workshop

I am fresh from a parenting workshop. Not just any parenting workshop, oh no. Passionate about questioning our own childhood patterning and living mindfully, I organised Genevieve Simperingham to come down to West Auckland to give a talk in our wee west coast beach township and a full day workshop at Titirangi Beach. Check out her website peaceful-parent.com, she’s got some excellent articles.

Parents are the most amazing of creatures aren’t they? As various women spoke during the day i was just gobsmacked all over again by the love and sheer frigging devotion of mama’s. What a treat to share workshop space with a diverse group brought together by their desire to learn and grow through parenting. Most important job in the world. (The oldest profession and terribly paid compared to the other oldest profession.)

A therapist and healer for years, Genevieve does great work, often co-facilitating workshops, with her partner Dan – building on attachment parenting she addresses what could be called democratic parenting or intuitive parenting. It’s simple, deep stuff. That babies and children have emotions and need their needs met. That children act out when they are out of balance and it’s our job to guide and support their emotional release so they can get back into balance. She calls us to become aware of what healing of old childhood wounds we parents need to do. Or put simply, 'how not to squish your kid'. Oh, it’s good stuff, check it out!

Oh yup, the mamadom is certainly my spiritual path these days. I used to be terrified of the Buddhist precept ‘no escape’ and these days i live it daily. I have a great teacher.

I loved that gorgeous love rush of boy that hurled himself at me when i got home.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

a favourite kind of fun

Look what happens when you put the s on the front of prayer, instead of at the end...you get sprayer! It’s one of Jed’s favourite kinds of fun at the moment. Has been off and on for months. Hours of fun. It all started with my small helper almost squirting himself in the eye with mama’s sprayer while we were cleaning the bathroom together. It had natural cleaning stuff in it, but still, you don’t want it in your eye. Gone were the days when i could duct tape the sprayer up and Jed would pretend. Just in passing i said ‘you need your own sprayer’. Next time we were in town, Jed marched into every shop, cornered someone and said ‘where sprayer?’ Memory like an elephant i tell you. We found one, attached it to a recycled green tea bottle and wow. Happiness. Hint to mama’s of small people: get a sprayer. Hours and fun to be had. Add their own cleaning cloth to the mix and they’re off.
spraying very close to mama taking a picture....


...now where's Slinky the cat?

Taking showers with small one around has been challenging at times but Jed has come across a nifty and fun solution to this conundrum. Spray mama while she has a shower. Hilarious! Hint to mama’s: make sure it has warm water in it or it seriously compromises enjoyment of aforesaid shower.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

last night and this morning

Winter sun, garden fun. Muddy puddles and jed cuddles. Yes, it is quite possible i have been reading too many children’s books lately. Although that little ditty does sum up the morning nicely.
There was an accident on the road last night. This, sadly, is not unusual. But it was a big one. The road was shut for hours. People were texting to check that we weren’t caught up in it. Half of our wee coastal ‘town’ was unable to get home and ended up camped at the cafe at the top of the Waitakere Ranges. A nice wee community moment was had with the random collection of people who found themselves stranded amid sober thoughts of what was going on up the road. Someone died. Jed overheard me say there’d been an accident between a car and a scooter last night, talking on the phone. He went off to get his boots and was headed for the door. I asked him where he was going and he said ‘Accident, mama. Big doof. Them need cuddle'.

He’s not 2 yet, his grasp of some contexts, his emotional intelligence (see Dan Goleman’s book of that title) and the language to express them astounds me sometimes.

My other thoughts ran to wondering about the world he dwells in. What a magical place we roam in. Where doof’s can be helped with cuddles and my mamaheart hurts a bit to think of the embracing of all the world ahead, in all it’s beauty and pain, joys and struggles ahead. I try not to label stuff as good or bad but hey, no mama likes to see their baby in pain. I wonder if that ever gets easier.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

the last feijoa harvest cake

for those who have yet to discover the joys of feijoa's - they are the green oval fruits next to the other green oval fruits (grapes) and our organic ricebubble-honey-dried fruit thingies.
feijoa cake in the making
i'd post a picture of the finished product but the small one among us deleted it

I can be in denial about winter no longer. The basil plants are shadows of their former might and we’ve grovelled around the base of our feijoa trees for that last time this season. The wax-eyes and piwakawaka’s are having a blast flittering around harvesting the flying insects that have come to speed the composting of the fallen feijoas and the last feijoa cake is in the oven. My trusty assistant was at my elbow for the making of this cake. He added the magic ingredient while i wasn’t paying attention, his peppermint tea. Despite my comments at the time, it really worked!
I was away from NZ for about 16 years and one thing i missed was feijoa’s. I must’ve waxed lyrical about missing them as a friend carried two, carefully nestled into her backpack, from a trip to florida to me in Central Virginia. What a gift! The smell of them brought with it so many memories of childhood. I kept the empty skins on my altar, for oooh, probably a bit longer than i should have.
I found the recipe in the Sunday paper. I seem to be incapable of following one precisely (adjustments according to what ingredients i have/don’t have, last minute inspirational additions...) so here is the one i actually used. Give or take a magic ingredient.

Easy and most delicious feijoa cake:
125g butter, ¾ cup sugar (i used less), 2 eggs, 1 1/3 cups flour (i used a mix of white and wholemeal), 2 teaspoons baking powder, teeny pinch of salt, ½ cup coconut, a splash of vanilla essence, 1 grated apple, about 500g ripe feijoa’s skinned and chopped, 200g natural yoghurt.
You know the deal...mix ‘em.
Mixture should be quite thick and you can sprinkle Demerara sugar and ginger mix over the top before baking. Use a 22cm cake tin. It needs lining with baking paper (I didn’t and wished i did).
Bake 50 minutes then turn oven off and leave to sit in there for another hour – or overnight.

Delish! I do love cooking with fruits and veg from our very own garden.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Tractor happy

We’re back from a visit to his nana’s. We were awake at five am every morning with Jed wanting to nuzzle and cuddle his baby cousin. Sigh. It was a huge weekend for him. He was in a state of sensory overload most of the time. The TV was on alot. Something he has hardly seen. I can see the temptation parents talk about now, he just zoned in and was gone. Scary.
Fun WAS had. It was darn cold but we bundled up and went out in search of adventures as much as we could. Looking for fish in the pond, bears in the trees by the boundary fence, saying good morning to the cows, playing diggers. We found a rusty old tractor in their paddock. AND, it worked. Most exciting. Yup, we saw alot of that tractor. Play involved alot of brmm’ing noises and fixing, climbing onto the steering wheel to turn the noisy wipers on, sitting back down and yelling DIG DIG before asking mama to turn it off before it all got too much. Wonderful hours.
My thing is to follow Jed's lead in what he's interested in but i still ask myself if we'd be playing on tractors if he was a girl. I like to think so. The image of him running around barebutt in his tulle fairy skirt with feather boa, boots, beads and builders helmet springs to mind.

Jed got to pull a carrot out, wash it and eat it. He’s still talking about that. Nothing like it. That boy has quite the discerning palate. We tried to serve him up soup out of a package (um, natural, from what i could tell) one night and he took a taste and said, ‘hmm, not real mama’, then, ‘want some food’.

First night back home and he slept until ten past 6. He woke me up by whispering in my ear,
‘mama, want more adventures’. That’s my boy.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Sitting still

I just sat still. Yep, pulled my rickety ole rocking chair over to the patch of winter sun flooding in the window of my room and sat. Sat with a book, then my gaze was pulled out to look up at the limitless blue of sky and the book got put aside.
I could hear the surf crashing, the tui’s mad-dash flights as they tussled mid-air, and a hum of some bee wings. I couldn’t remember the last time I just sat. Still. Just me. Felt like such a luxury. I’ve been busy with what I termed a beautifully crowded life but seems since Jed was born I’ve been doing, doing, doing. Or in desperate need of sleep, or sharing my still moments with him. Which is so special but different somehow. Right now, riding this wave of serenity, I realise just how important rediscovering my own rhythm is.

New pants. Mama-made.

It has been years since i had a sewing machine. I had let myself be convinced that our house was too small. I craved to make everything gorgeous under the sun for my boy when he was born and finally, finally, two months shy of him turning two....i have one! Well, it’s not mine, but it’s still darn exciting. I suspect only crafty mama’s understand the cartwheels and whoops of joy that it caused. You shoulda seen his eyes widen and mouth drop open...’mama has MACHINE’. Indeed!

In precious hours ‘off’ in the weekend i trawled secondhand shops and bargain bins for fabric (when did it get so expensive?) and while Jed was having a nap yesterday i made him some pants. Not just any pants, mama-made pants. Comfy, hardwearing, groovy pants that fit the chunky tall guy better than i could have hoped. The pattern i cobbled together using an old Kwik Sew pattern and adjusted by looking at pants i knew fitted him. This kid is usually clothed in op shop finds pretty much. ( I do love a good trawl.)

So satisfying to see him cavort in them today, their maiden day of puddlejumping, library visiting, running through fields, hand wiping and tumbling. Sigh.