Saturday, June 22, 2013

links that make me go 'mmmm'

7 Cheap and Awesome Items to Add to Your Toddlers Toy Shelf: Becoming Peculiar
  I've tried a few of these and they are a hit in our house!  My 17 month old loves shoving the pom poms in the glass jar.  Also, she loves throwing the glass jar, but we are working on that.

Mislabeling the Word of God: Yaholo Hoyt for Red Letter Christians
  Do we idolize  the Bible over 'the WORD' himself? (Jesus)

from the heart: how letting go allows me to truly live: Michaela Evanow
  My dear friend keeps blowing me away and breaking my heart with her honesty about the path she is on with her baby girl.  

deeper dignified dialogue: kathy escobar
  How can we engage more deeply with people with whom we have big differences?  Kathy has a few posts on this topic.

Exodus International to Shut Down:
  This is big news any way you slice it.

picture blurry because: madly rocking out

If your son asks you to buy a $1 electric guitar pillow at a thrift store, BUY IT FOR HIM!!  Even if you think there are better toys, like a cool train engine or something wooden.  Because he will play it endlessly, with a real pick.

In the southern hemisphere we survived the longest night of the year last night, so now our sun will stay with us a bit longer each day and nothing can stop it.  That makes me happy just thinking about it.  Hope you have a great weekend, wherever you are.

What have you been writing about or reading these days?  I would love to hear!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

when we buy art, we know we are home

It's been a full week here, in the best sense, drinking deeply from our community and being refreshed as our roots sink down a little further.  Sharing meals with friends who could be family, my dad's famous pizza dough recipe making bellies full while children wrestle and run wild.  (Our downstairs neighbour asked if we are training for the Olympics, a twinkle in his eye.  Gracious, he is, knowing our son since he was just learning to belly crawl.)

We also experimented with a Thai style curry with eggplant and brussel sprouts - I suspected I shouldn't have tried a new recipe (because: brussel sprouts) with dinner guests but they gobbled it up grateful, maybe to humour me but I'll never know.

There were friends stopping in on rainy days and long walks in our neighbourhood, sun warming winter skin.  We knock on neighbour doors with strawberries in hand, talk of Ramadan preparation and sadly they are moving home soon, we share zataar on Lebanese bread, always a favorite.

Another friend stopped by with her kids, the older is almost four and still nurses and in her home culture that's pretty common.  We commiserated together because they seem to need more than we want to give, but isn't that often the way of parenting?  It's good to have a space to complain about your choices, because even when you feel they are the best choices for your family, it can still be hard, isn't that true?  We watched our nurslings take turns rocking out on a little guitar.

And last Saturday morning was the monthly artists gathering on our street, so we walked up there, the four of us.  A young man in too small over-alls sang with his guitar case open and baristas brought coffees to people I've never seen before sitting in the grass.  It's nice to see people coming to our street for hot drinks and art rather than sex and alcohol.  I saw a large painting and liked it, calling my husband over and he did as well.  It was about 60% off the original price, by a local artist who pays cheap rent for a small studio two blocks up from us and we said we'll take it, we didn't even think about it.

When we moved into our very first place, after about six months of newlywed house-sitting I cried when we needed to buy things, because I'm like that.  I don't like spending money frivolously and when my husband mentioned that we would need to look for a refrigerator I was on edge:  "I'm pretty sure we can get by without a 'frigerator!"  But of course we bought one, second-hand and a washing machine as well and we were given beds and dressers and we made other purchases to complete our tiny apartment, a baby already hanging curtains in my growing belly.  It was hard for me, not even sure how long we would stay there and can't we just keep a few boxes packed up for a quick escape?

Three and a half years later, over two years into our second apartment together and we finally bought some art for our gray, windowless walls.  Maybe they're trees whose roots go deep into fertile soil, faces turned to the bluest Australian sky.  Or maybe, as a friend imagined, it's our local smokestacks reborn, turning into the green-brown strong of life, a prophetic piece reminding us that even massive towers of poisoned metal will one day be made new.  Either way we are happy to have some art on our wall and in our family, a frivolous purchase maybe, but more important than I know.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

links that make me go 'mmmmmm'.

 Here's a few posts that I read this week and probably forwarded along to my husband or a friend.  I'm going to try to get in the habit of doing this more regularly.  It's Saturday morning here, the sun is shining on our new winter. We're in the middle of turning our second bedroom into a bit of a playroom and packing away summer clothes for long pants, hoodies and scarves.  Hope you have a great weekend wherever you are!

10 Decisions You Can Make to Change the World - Jim Wallis @ Sojourners (Be encouraged and inspiried!!)

The Peril of Complacent Ambiguity - Jess in Process  (This is a brave, grieving mama's understanding of why terrible things happen in the world.)

Tougher Than Lion Taming: When Your Child Hits Your Other Child - Aha! Parenting (A great gentle parenting resource ... not that my children would ever hit each other ... *cough*)

Kids on the Block - Craig Greenfield writing @ DL Mayfield's blog (For when you worry that your neighbourhood will negatively affect your kids ...)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

a small life update, just in case you were wondering.

We are back home now after spending two months in SE Asia, entering Australia as residents for the first time.  I have things to write about our time away which I'll  do soon.  We didn't have much internet acess in the last few weeks we were gone, hence the lack of posts and if you are a FB friend you'll notice we were pretty quiet there too.  I can't lie, it was surprisingly nice not to have eternal access to the world-wide web.  I only missed it a little bit.

It's quiet in our neighbourhood, with winter setting her sights on us and the sun clocking out early.  It's a funny thing to go from so many people all around, because of house-sharing with four kids under 3 and the crowded spaces of an Asian city, to a neighbourhood that's virtually deserted by 5pm, unless you are in a bar or looking for a sexually exploited woman.  We miss having a bustling night market  a street over, where many evenings afforded us a one dollar smoothie or bubble tea.  It's good to have my kids back in car seats when we are driving but I miss the togetherness of crazy traffic, with all the people going somewhere in a culture where relationship matters more than anything else.  It feels a bit lonely, a whole apartment to ourselves and dark, empty streets.

my boys, no seatbelts.

Our first night home, when we realized we suddenly had to start cooking food again (after eating most meals in very, very cheap restaurants for two months) I took Saf up the street to the little Macedonian grocery store, where the owner and her husband have kept watch for 40 years.  I always wonder if people will remember us when we've been gone a couple of months.  They do.  They asked about our trip, remarked on my son's growth and showed me pictures of their first grandchild, seven months old now.  I picked up the milk and veggies we needed, also a can of beans and said we would see them again soon.  Our next door neighbours were very excited to see us and to hear we didn't have plans to leave again anytime soon.  "You're true, blue Aussies now!  We just have to work on yer accents!"  It's a good thing to be known.

Every time I've arrived home, wherever that place is, it's much relief with a touch of sadness, always, every time. 

My kids will turn 17 and 34 months soon.  Jubee will be half of Saf's age, for the only time in their life.  Is that interesting?  She'll also be the age that Saf was when she was born and that is crazy to me as she seems like such a bay-bay and he already was a big brother, learning to be independent from me while still needing me so much.

I've really enjoyed thrift store shopping since being back.  I've scored some pretty cool stuff, including "Winnie The Pooh:  The Complete Collection of Stories and Poems" for $6.  Also red boots and red shoes for Jubee that are beyond adorable.  My kids live in generous, high quality hand-me downs and gifts from people so I very rarely buy them anything, not even second hand.  I was happy to find that my daughter actually needed shoes for this winter and that I got to treasure hunt in four second-hand shops for them.

I've been reading a couple of books lately, "Daring Greatly" by Brene Brown, on vulnerability and shame.  Also "An Altar in the World" by Barbara Brown Taylor which is wandering and beautifully written, on the practices of life that make up our daily grind but are an invitation into the holy.  I'm not quite finished with both but highly recommend them.  My husband also read a book, his first in a good long while, "Naked Spirituality" by Brian Mclaren.  I think it took him about a year to finish, but he loves it and would read me large chunks of it, so I almost feel like I read it to.  Chris wants it to be the next on my list.

Chris got us a vegetarian cookbook app - Green Kitchen - because we ate way, way too much meat while we were traveling and my husband likes to swing to opposing extremes.  We are no longer buying meat, apparently.  Tonight we had a vegetarian chili with dark chocolate.  That sounds yummy and strange, because it is.  Both kids gobbled it up and there wasn't even MSG in it.

I'm hoping to put my roots down in this writing space a bit deeper, I want to be more willing to hit "publish" and less obsessed with feeling extremely proud of everything I write.  I just want to write more.  I'm also trying to get Chris to guest post on here sometime.  That boy won my heart with his writing but he acts like two crazy toddlers and a demanding wife doesn't leave him with much time to create.  Hmph.  He says he doesn't want to share the blog with me but I'm hoping he will at least become a regular contributor.  We'll see.

Here's to getting the grease flowing on the old blog again.  Cheers.