Lazuli Green Island Mama

Lazuli Green Island Mama

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Hari Om Tat Sat

Farewell to a tricky and stressful year.

The life lessons came thick and fast, and packed a punch. I'm asking nicely for the lessons to be delivered just a little more gently in 2012... that is, of course, if I had any right to ask.

May 2012 be a year of relative calm.
May I be stronger and wiser from our experiences this year.

Bruises heal.
Mamas stop crying to take a breath, eventually.
Nerves knit together again.
Zimbabwean's can find greater health without a gall bladder.
Phone numbers can be easily changed. Neighbours come and go.
Loved ones, friends, mentors pass away but are never forgotten.
Fresh little loved ones are born.
Chanting (especially in Sanskrit) can keep your feet on the ground and calm your heart.

This year I've been reminded, quite regularly, that terrible things may happen to good people. Perhaps the lesson there is that they are all just things, happening to people. It's just living. The most significant lessons are those which we haven't asked for.

We've still had many belly-laughs, and continue to grow, individually and together.

I've so enjoyed this little blog space. Through it, I've rediscovered a piece of myself that I had forgotten. Looking through the posts of this year, I find many lovely times to remember.

I'm very proud that we, my little family and I, have come out the other end of this year, with warmly beating hearts and eyes still on each other.

Go on 2011. Be gone with you.

Blessed be.

Hari Aum Tat Sat.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

An island Christmas

We have a little family tradition going on around here... one of those traditions that you begin for your own family, not one you've brought with you from your ancestors. It's a morning swim. It used to be an ocean morning swim. Now it's a National Park morning swim. It reinvigorates our souls (the Zimbo's and mine) and reminds us to see our surroundings with clarity. For our little ones, well - to them, it's just what they've always done on Christmas morning!

Soon after, our friends arrived, the Turducken (that's a chicken in a duck in a turkey) was cooked, we fitted in a bit of rope-jumping, and much merriment was had.
On Boxing Day, some held their gin better than others. And of course, one of us only drank tea. Let's just say, she was the last one standing. But we all laughed ourselves silly. Our bellies were grateful for the workout.
Noddy doubting Big Ears

That was one Happy Christmas!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Eve

Christmas eve + shining sun + snacks packed and a fully loaded boat = The Island Dog Race
(and bubble-O-bill day for the little boykies)

See last year for the wordy description. Here is the visual diary for this year. Of course, not being much of a photographer, I had failed to pack a camera with a charged battery so all of these were taken on my iphone, whilst trying not to fall in to the big drink myself, or drop phone in to said drink. You'll be pleased to know that the only thing I dropped were my reindeer antlers. My flashing Christmas necklace was safe. Ahhh, yes. What can I say? An Australian Christmas is rarely classy. It is tricky to capture an image of the dogs in the water so you'll have to trust me... there are about 60 dogs in there, amongst their paddling owners (ready to rescue any dog who may need it. No dog was harmed in the making of this blog post). Banjo the wonderstuffy, who is afraid of the water, was safely left at home, to chase the chooks and Ginger the cat.

And this is what I saw, very late that night, when saying good night to Ginger...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mama time of the highest degree

My houseguests left just in time for me to menstruate in peace (if our house can be called that with the kids at home). The Zimbo certainly doesn't want to hear about it. Let's see how the topic fairs for blogging...

The menstrual cycle is not always good to me. Some months I spend days in bed with thrang-bang-booming migraines, complete with diarrhea and vomiting. I've had migraines for as long as I can remember. They are not just hormonally-triggered, but often are. I will not, however, succumb to or tolerate their appearance at such a regular time. My current approach to keeping them at bay seems to be working.

Firstly, I schedule time for a 2 hour energetic healing massage with trusted friend and yoga-guru with a kick-ass haircut, Salliann. O man, she's good. Let me tell you, she is the business for energetic healing. In that two hours, all sorts of lessons are learned, thoughts discovered, muscles loosened, and reminders remembered. That's where I'll blissfully be at 10am tomorrow morning.

One of my menstrual reminders, the very best thing about bleeding (in my humble opinion) is the real-time reminder that I AM Woman. O yes sirree. As Ani di Franco sings in Blood in the Boardroom ("the I'm so bored room"... bahahahaha!) "I can make life, I can make breath". So my current approach to painfree periods involves embracing the I AM Woman theme in all ways I can on the day.

Today has been a day of privilege. I haven't needed to leave the island. I enjoyed a long, slow walk around it, with boys on bikes and a wonderstuffy who was happy to be out. I had a good laugh with a loved friend on the phone. I let those little boys watch one episode each of Octonauts, Lazy Town, and Grandpa in my Pocket (!) while I potted around the house, fixing flyscreens, sorting through old cd's, and even having a snooze on the ladies' lounge.

The sun shone golden on tips of spotted gum leaves over in the national park while some groovy loose-knee dancing took place in the kitchen to 'Funk Classics with Sassy Soul Sisters'. On such days, I find the time to have a schlück of my favourite herbal iron tonic and chuck back some fish oil capsules before cooking my favourite dinner: sautéd spinach, garlic, zucchini and mushrooms, with grape tomatoes and a fried egg.

And now, for continued indulgence on this day of saying YES! to more, the boys and I are going to watch a Jamie Oliver episode, while eating lychees, before bath and little-boys-bed time. We all love him. Meanwhile, the Zimbo is out for a Dad's Dinner at a local tavern, with a bunch of good men. Dinner, really? Who care's whether it's dinner or liquid. All good men need good men to hang out with. You see, if the Mama has a migraine, the Dada does not get to have any precious self-time either. Another reason for self-love and days for Mama to look after herself well.... the whole family benefits!

May your menstrual days be self-loving in ways only you know how.

Monday, December 19, 2011

back soon

If you'd had this man, his wife, his two children, and his mother-in-law, staying in your house for a week, your blog would have been a tiny little bit neglected too.

I promise I'll be back soon with frolicking festive season fun. Just as soon as my voice returns, I've restocked the fridge, and have had a little lie-down.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Friendly observations

Today I'm using this space, my very own soapbox, to tell you about a friend of mine, and to celebrate the gift of Lenka (hope she doesn't mind). Go on, indulge me and let me describe her to you...
  • She's thoughtful and generous,
  • she's often not as serious as she looks and if you say the right thing she'll let out quite a raucous laugh,
  • she's smart, pragmatic and super efficient,
  • she's sophisticated but quite earthy, an excellent camping companion,
  • she can cook, sew, play the piano, speak French and Italian and has extensive general knowledge,
  • she's the rock of her family, and way too hard on herself.
  • (PS from the Zimbabwean: she can give a disprin a headache)
My boys would happily move in to her house in the blink of an eye. Once, when Choochie was mad with me, he announced that I couldn't come to his 4th birthday party. I retorted that his Mama had to come because who else would bake his birthday cake? He grumpily replied, "Lenka can make it!"

Today is my friend's last day of permanent employment. She's freeing herself to have more time at home and school for her children, to be the one accompanying them to their after-school activities and to simply bring more life into their family home. This is no small step for someone with a career, mind and ambition like Lenka's, and comes after possibly years of discussion (what are friends for?!).

Lenks, honour thyself! May this time bring you much joy and growth in ways that you've underestimated. May this time open doors for project work for your ongoing professional satisfaction, without inhibiting your desired family life. May you feel empowered, respected and privileged, and know that this is what you are doing now, in this snippet of your journey.

You are already, and always have been, a real mother.

You are one of our family favourites.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The third light of advent

We've had the coldest start to Sydney summer in 50 years. This allows for unusually cosy nights snuggled under the doona, and our little ones are insisting on still wearing winter pyjamas! We have been madly preparing the house to receive some old friends... one of the Zimbabwean's African brothers-from-another-mother (!) is arriving tomorrow, with his wife and 2 children. They currently live in Dublin, Ireland, but seem to be quite home sick for South Africa, so it would be sooooo nice for them to enjoy SUMMER! Not winter, this Christmas. Fingers crossed that the rain dripping down our windows and filling our watertanks kindly holds off a bit over the next 10 days.

The second Advent has come and gone, and tonight we've lit the 3rd Advent candle. Our nativity scene is growing, slowly, slowly. There is a lovely space waiting for the appearance of Mary and Joseph next weekend, when they will commence their trek to our stable.

Our basket for decorations is slowly being filled as the Christmas angels bring us their gifts for our Advent's calendar. Occassionally, those party-girl angels stay out too late and forget to come until the following morning, but they never forget completely. Noah knows that they are invisible so of course they are able to deliver their magic unseen, while we're having breakfast. Ahhhh, years of mischief is paying off.

The second light of Advent is the light of the plants
that reach up to the sun
and in the breeze dance.

The third light of Advent is the light of the beasts
the light of hope that we see
in the greatest and least.

We've added some gumnuts and a tree to our scene for the light of the plants. Our tokens for "beasts" include a felt bird, a knitted chicken, and some yellow feathers. Mental note: must make felted sheep and donkey for next year. More appropriate than chooks, I think.

Tonight I made a rather large error. For the last few days, Noah and Chooch have been turning a very large, sturdy box into a laboratory cubby-house. I, not realising that they had taken such ownership of the box, ripped the box up this evening, to be put out for cardboard recycling. Three quarters of the way through my arduous task, I discovered the crayon lab drawings on the inner walls of their cubby-house. O dear. O big fat dear dear dear me.

There was so much cardboard (did I mention that it was a LARGE box) that I had to walk up our muddy (dirt) road, in light drizzle whilst wearing a head torch, to look for other household's recycling crates to take my excessive load. And now I prepare for the morning of disappointment when my loved ones discover what I've done.

The only thing for me to do is to tell them as soon as possible, apologise profusely and ask for appropriate ways in which I could redeem myself. This is what I (usually rather loudly) demand of them when they damage something of mine. And I really am (unfortunately) Volcano personified, if I find something damaged and they have neglected to tell me that the damage has happened. Have I already said O Big Fat Bum Bum Bum?

Suck it up, Girl. Take it like a good Mama should. Another lesson to be grateful for.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Banjo footwear

This is what having a puppy means to me:
one dirty, chewed, blue croc (I can't find the right foot)
one brown thong (yes Northerners, that's the word for it here. Not jandel, sandel or flip flop.) (I can't find the left foot).

Thank you Banjo, for leaving me one for each foot. You just relax on the day-bed and enjoy your sleep.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

musings on motherhood

The witching hour has just passed for another day. My boykaloiks are upstairs, supposedly in their beds. I can usually hear if they are not. Tonight, it's sounding hopeful.

Today is the second last day of our school year. At 3pm tomorrow afternoon, school will end, my Noah will finish his year of being in Class 2, and seven weeks of summer holiday will commence. Summer holidays bring mixed blessings. On the one hand, I love not having to get up at 6.15am each day. I love emerging from the haven of bed, thinking "look at that amazing sight" as I walk passed the view of water and national park, lazily meandering down the stairs in the morning and flicking on the kettle.

On the other hand, I go a bit crazy listening to the musings (whining/fighting/questioning/demands) of small children. O I know, I know. These years are great! Those little ones are growing so beautifully and it is an absolute privilege to be here. Yes! Yes it is. But it is not the most stimulating time for my mind, and that is what I am lamenting right now.

I'm pondering the mind-numbing role of Mother. I'm observing the brain-fog. This is the aspect of motherhood which I do not celebrate. I do try to spice it up a bit. I read books like "The Spiritual Tasks of the Homemaker" by Manfred Schmidt-Brabant, which I do find stimulating and inspiring. I try to listen to ABC radio whenever the children aren't near. I watch Foreign Correspondent on particularly intellectual evenings. Other times, I reflect on the meditative quality of motherhood, of being constantly jolted into the present. I try to read industry bulletins and articles on Naturopathy and Botanical Medicine. I often feel like crying as those "adult" thoughts are interrupted with another request, complaint, or another fabricated story of what happened in such and such a (usually non-existent) movie or to such and such a friend.

The witching hour is the most depressing. Actually it's more like 2 hours. By the time I'm preparing dinner, I've already spent most of the day in the kitchen or laundry, or at the clothes line or driving to or from school. By then, I'm desperate to have a meaningful thought, with a beginning, a process, closure.

I don't know another way of doing this. This is what feels right for me and my family.

I crave time for a career. I yearn for meaningful, paid employment. I envy women who grow their careers at the same time as their families. But not enough to stop doing this mind-numbing job. I'm grateful for the (often uncomfortable) lessons of now. My soul is indeed fed every day. My mind is not. My heart gets bigger and stronger and is warmed every day. My mind does not.

"For each child that's born
a morning star rises
and sings to the universe
who we are."
- Ysaye Barnwell

I haven't forgotten who I am. No, I'm getting to know myself more and more each day. I feel quite like I'm having a very long, exhausting, fitful sleep.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

St Francis and the Wolf

Noah has been nervously excited for weeks while his class has prepared for their annual class play with their passionate drama teacher, Anthony.

This year they performed St Francis and the Wolf, set in the Italian town of Assisi, near Gubbio, which is near place-of-my-heart "Pratale"! (that may be a story for another day)

In the eyes of the mother and of the father and of the inspired teaching team (and believe me, Noah's teachers are all inspired) the play was a huge success! The children (8 year olds) spoke boldly and clearly, working from a beautiful, meaningful script. In the words of Noah's class teacher:
"...they took full possession of the play and demonstrated that in huge improvements in the energy of their speech, characterisations and singing. The important point is that even if there wasn't the improvement we saw, the class had already learned many valuable lessons through the process of working together as a team and on an individual level, numerous personal breakthroughs were achieved."
The beating energetic drum of our Rudolf Steiner school never ceases to warm my heart. What a joy it is to see your sun, shining with all his might.

Monday, December 5, 2011

since the first kiss

Eighteen years of loving him.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

T'was the first of December

As the festive season commences in Australia, madness begins: dates and commitments blur together, the Sydney traffic steams on in the rising summer heat, the school year wraps up and frenzied Christmas shopping begins. This is how it has always been... a steaming frenzy.

The one Christmas that I spent in Germany wasn't like that. It felt much more quiet, gemütlich. This event occurs in opposite seasons, of course: here it is summer... expansive, open, loud and free; there it is winter... still, quiet, dark and cosy. Polar opposites.

As my family grows and our own traditions are built upon, I happily note that I am finding a place of calm. The challenge I have set for myself is to find calm sincerity amongst the thrum of summer song.

So, this is how it begins...

The first advent sunday, I clear a surface high enough to be safe from dog, cat and visiting toddlers. A blue silk is laid out, along with a felted night scene - blue mat with stars, made by Chooch last Christmas. Upon it, a candle with crystals, stones and shells scattered nearby. Above it hangs an Advents' wreath of felt leaves and gum nut elves. Some gently glowing lanterns are added, and that is that.

"The first light of advent is the light of the stones
that shines through the seashells, the crystals and bones.

Shine little light and show us the way
to the bright light of Christmas day."

A few days later, our Advent calendar - 24 hand-stitched stockings (inspired by Soule Mama a few years ago) - is hung across windows and, beginning on the 1st December, our Christmas angels bring one or two Christmas decorations each night, waiting for blue-eyed boys to find them each morning. These decorations are held safely in a basket while they wait patiently for the Tree.
And that is all.

Each week, a little bit more is added - slowly more decorations (as the angels bring them), a growing nativity scene, one or two pieces at a time, until finally, by Christmas Eve, almost all of the magic has arrived. This is the perfect pace for me. It is calm and methodical. Each piece arrives just when it is required, like breathing in and breathing out. These new traditions, ground me more and more each year that they are with us.

Peace and quiet blessings to each of us - whether drawing inward under a blanket of northern winter, or with arms outstretched in southern sunshine.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Spring randoms

Chooch: "I really want to marry Tess. If Tess marries someone else and I don't get to marry Tess somewhere really really really special I'm going to be so sad I'm not going to marry anybody."

Noah: "I'm just going to marry some random."

Other random moments this season...
meeting Banjo's family:

Spring days:
These boots are made for walkin':
City walk:
Jetty walk:

You better believe it (about Herbs, I mean).

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

to live slowly

God help us
to live slowly;
to move simply;
to look softly;
to allow emptiness;
to let the heart create for us.

Let us live in such a way that when we die
our love will survive and continue to grow.

(Michael Leunig)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

a brief interlude of quiet

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love a road trip.

I especially love a road trip alone, with no-one (little people) to interrupt my indulgent day dreaming.

The two road trips I most often find myself on are:
  1. down south, through the rolling dairy-farming hills of the NSW south coast; and
  2. through the lush sub-tropical climes of the NSW north coast, if I'm really lucky, up to the Northern Rivers.
These roads make me feel Australian. I don't just experience them, I feel at home on these roads. They remind me of my childhood but also give me such adult freedom, especially on clear sunny days with coastal waters sparkling in the east. I sing loudly and very well (! with no-one to hear me), and I'm also very skilled at drivers' seat dancing. Memories come and go, thoughts and tears flow.

My latest road trip was celebrated with a morning tea stop at the Berry Tea Shop, with a pot of masala chai and a slice of blueberry-four-nut tart served on a pink cake plate. I was surrounded by pretty cups and saucers and teapots.

On the next table sat 2 young men with 2 young ladies. All early-twenty somethings, eating flourless chocolate cake and drinking vanilla-bean tea. Really. Where on earth did they pop up from? I'm sure no young man I hung out with at their age (!) would have been found in here, on a Thursday morning, wearing closed shoes in November.

In other news, we recently experienced another island blackout. They happen every so often. I don't know why. This one lasted for 18 hours (and came while the Zimbabwean is still away on 10-day business trip) and I coped exceptionally well with it... resorting to cooking a large pot of bolognese sauce on the barbeque (God love the wok hot plate. I use it for boiling the kettle and cooking during blackouts), in the gorgeous summer sunshine, big hat and sunglasses to boot. Much nicer than being in the kitchen on a sunny day actually.

During the blackout, one of the kids turned on the hot tap in the upstairs bathroom. No power = no water pump = no water upstairs. Child left tap on (with no obvious reason to turn it off!). The power came back on around 1pm, just after we left home for the afternoon. We returned at 6 pm to discover the pump working overtime and a hot tap which had been running for 5 hours.

O the despair! (Just in case my despair requires an explanation: wasted water, wasted power, over-working an already pretty crappy water pump that just cost us $400) This tipped me over the edge. The kids know it's serious when Mama doesn't give a dramatic shouting performance, complete with arms flapping and objects flying through the air, but instead holds her head in her hands and cries.

O well. As my helpful neighbour pointed out: at least he didn't leave the plug in the sink. And it looks like it may rain this week.

The Self

"More radiant than the sun
purer than the snow
more subtle than the ethers
Is the self
The self that lives within the heart
I am the self
The self is who I am."
- Rudolf Steiner

Thursday, November 17, 2011

early Summer's eve

It's crazy to have posted about a day in snow just a few days ago (though it was not referring to this month in Sydney). There is only one word for tonight: HOT.

This evening's sunset was just beautiful... streaks of pink glowing behind our neighbours' jacaranda tree. As I enjoyed a 10 minute evening swing in my stripey hammock (a gift for my 37th birthday), my bare arms and legs were warm, warm, warm. Thousands of flying ants zig-zagged up, up, up in the warm night air, mozzies bit my arms, crows crowed and cockatoos sqwauked. What is is with cockatoos? My goodness they SCREEEECH across the sky.

The water shimmers peacefully in the twilight and I can hear boats arriving home at the jetty, voices carrying up to me on my deck amongst the trees. My boys are in their bedroom behind me, ceiling fan on, door open. We sleep with open doors at our house, though it's going to be difficult to sleep tonight.

I wonder how our Zimbabwean is sleeping. He's in the US of A for the first time, discovering southern fried chicken and Santa Monica boulevard. I bet his eyes are wide open and his soul is soaring. It should be. He works hard and deserves a little adventure, even when it will be mostly work. We like traveling to new places, that Zimbo and I. I can't be sure what he likes about it, but I love seeing how people live in different places, how they talk amongst their friends and families, what's important to them, how they build their homes and spend their days.

A girl in Stellenbosch, South Africa, asked me once, what had all this traveling taught me? I can't remember her name but I remember the kitchen we were in, and I still ponder her question, 13 years later. I guess it's taught me about freedom, choices, that the world really isn't very big and we are all connected through human spirit.

"It has rightly often been said that the independence of an individual is only as strong as his ability to at least feel that he is not identical with his body - and thus not with his gender, sex, race nor folk either."
- Manfred Schmidt-Brabant, The Spiritual Tasks of the Homemaker

PS. for those of you who enjoy a bit of vicarious travel, you might like this blog about five lucky ducks.

Monday, November 14, 2011

a day in snow

It's not often that this family is in snow. In fact, it's only ever happened once, just a few weeks ago. It's much more common for us to be someplace warm - at home on our island, fishing, swimming, camping, on roadtrips to northern NSW, or - when we are really lucky - in southern Africa, learning the sounds of the hippo and the gentle ways of the giraffe. I spend entire winters listening to the Zimbabwean complaining about how cold it is in Sydney and how he needs to live somewhere HOT. I should have been prepared for this, considering I met him in winter in Germany, with an inadequate jacket and too-thin socks. But still, he has now fallen in love with New Zealand's south island, with chilly climes and snow-capped mountains! I have a feeling this won't be our (first and) last day in snow.

Friday, November 11, 2011

a few more holiday snaps

with Shell
"Pat 'im my hworthie?" "Pat 'im my haworth!" (the delicious insistence of a toddler, each day about the hworthies, pussy, rabbits... he is soooo delicious)
a time for tea (always time for tea for me)
Arrowtown, South Island NZ
Time for a few more holiday piccies.

On our recent family trip to NZ, there was quite a bit of lounging around, eating and drinking going on. In fact, that was the daily list of activities. On the day pictured, the skies were clear and blue so we really were reveling in the gorgeous scenery around Wanaka, on the South Island. The kids were all happy, the adults were all loved-up and relaxed. The wine tasting at Amisfield vineyard, long lunch that followed and subsequent 3 dozen bottles of wine that were ordered, may have had something to do with the good cheer.

The vineyard was in a gorgeous setting, complete with games area for boules and a grassy field with old tractor to sit on. Noah, Chooch and Toby occupied themselves as ball-boys for a large group of English rugby fans, on a boys' trip to the World Cup. Who knows what propaganda they were being fed about the NZ and Springbok rugby teams but it allowed us to have a very luxurious afternoon.

I do wish I had a photo from 1993 as a comparison to the first one, of Shell (aka Sunshine) and me, together. Such rolley-polley fat things in 1993, laughing and eating our way to happiness in northern Germany, to classy, happy, high-calibre chicks in 2011, holidaying with our families in her home. And who would have thought that that spunky 18 year old Zimbabwean with the rugby thighs would be along for the ride?!