Thursday, June 28, 2012

gumboot happy

Come this time of year, in our temperate rainforesty sort of a gets a tad soggy. My trips down to the garden and animals were ruining shoes.
My last two pairs of gumboots were secondhand, which is all great, but it was proving kinda tricky to find another pair. (And lets face it, nothing was going to measure up to the leopard print ones i found in France over ten years ago. Those boots travelled with me over many a mile, well worth the 2 Euro i paid.)
Enter brand new gumboots. Which shall now be the favoured footwear of the season. At least until it dries up around here, sheesh.
Those of you who frequent these pages know how i do not like buying new...i figure there is enough stuff in the world. But y'know, i do it sometimes. Here is proof.

And look at that size difference will you? Not much. I can actually fit my four year olds gumboots, not comfortably, but my foot goes in there. I am going to be one of those mama's whose kid towers above her.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

GrowMama gone viral

A post i wrote about a simple upcycling design idea two years ago has gone viral.
I sit here, all rugged up, drinking tea and fielding emails from folks new to GrowMama. If you are one of those new folks, a big heartfelt and hearty welcome to you.

How it happened, was like this...

Four years ago a feisty thirty something, sleep deprived, crafty, passionate eco minded mama and writer wanted to keep in touch with her international tribe and have a committment to write (i hadn't been and writing is like breathing to me...must. do. it). Words were mixed in with photos taken from the frontlines of a life lived fully out in our beautiful coastal forests. I threw in a few antics from a magical child, a few tutorials, some beach adventures, a few recipes...links to hopefully inspire, popped in a few thoughts to challenge...whatever felt real to me. This is GrowMama. I went in the direction  my heart tugged me in. It is a heartfelt endeavour this blogging thing.
Somewhere along the line, someone spotted a project (the upcycled shopping bag from a vintage pillowcase i came up with) ...they posted the image and description of it along with a link back to the original blog post on Pinterest. Others saw it and re-pinned, and re-pinned and so on and so on. The power of social media is truly mind blowing. Truly. Mind. Blowing.

This all began to unfold on my birthday. It’s been the best present! Exciting, somewhat baffling, but fun. Really fun to follow the GrowMama ether trails through the internet.

I am building something here, i want to keep working from home so i can keep being the mama i need to be. I want to keep inspiring folks, to keep sharing what works for us, share the experience my beautifully full life has gifted me, share leads i have to create a more juicy and sustainable world, a more connected one. So, this going viral thing is great, slightly scary (i have the ‘i am not good enough’ inner voice that pipes up from time to time like so many of us creatives) and i am left just ever so slightly breathless and wondering where to go next with this. Or, perhaps, where it is taking me.

Six days ago i had three thousand new visitors to my blog and i thought that was pretty wild. Then numbers got bigger and bigger and today, i say a big welcome to all 23,635 of you who have checked out that upcycling tutorial and quite some who have stayed and are pottering about in GrowMama world. Wow.

Yup. Wow! Someone pointed out that it is almost exactly four years of blogging here at GrowMama. I just had a little wander down memory lane through the archives. Good times! Thanks for coming along for the ride, i have learnt much, have many new friends and sheesh, my kid is soooo much bigger!
And thank you dear Emma, for the beautiful heart and card and words i found in my letterbox from you. Friends make the world go ‘round. It is a joy to share the ride with you all. x

Monday, June 25, 2012

The GrowMama Plant medicine handbook here. Or rather, available in my felt shop over HERE. There are a pile of them here waiting to be posted out. Exciting! I am truly passionate about learning to manage our own and our families common health complaints with the plants that grow around us. The handbook is super affordable to reflect that.
 The description in the listing for the Plant medicine handbook in the GrowMama felt store has a bunch more information about the handbook. If you need more, just email.
For those of you asking about the Plant Medicine Workshops, next ones are in the Spring...i like to work with fresh plants so we'll wait for the new growth.

If you are in mid winter, my fellow antipodean friends, i wish you warmth...if you are in the northern hemisphere, may summer be all you hoped for. x

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Going bush

We live on a wild coastline, famous for it's wild surf. Surrounding our wee sprawling 'village' is a National Park. From our deck or windows we see Kereru (wood pigeon), piwakawaka (fantails) and tui every day. The gecko i blogged about HERE, is still in residence on our deck. We are incredibly blessed to have all this wild space as a backdrop to our daily lives. I love it when friends and family visiting New Zealand, or living in the city come to stay. We get to see all this through their eyes. We get reminded just how blessed we are. And, it is always special to open your home and heart to ones you love.
Jed and i went for a special Winter Solstice wander the other day. We found puriri trees that are hundreds of years old, played pooh sticks, sat in the sun, saw fish in the stream, enjoyed some mud, picked some grassy treats for Chester the rabbit. Connected, to each other and the world around us. Good times.
The largest kauri snail shell i have seen. Kauri snails are a giant snail, native to NZ and are an endangered species. It always makes me feel hopeful when i see one.
 This is the hollow kauri tree trunk that Jed likes to set up a goblin market in.
 We spotted three pairs on kereru on our short bushwalk.
Watching for travelling pooh sticks.
Good good times.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Dress Up Box - making pixies

So, by popular demand, here is a wee blast from the past and a tutorial (of sorts)- a pixie costume made two years ago and still in brought out of our Dress Up Box and played with.
 This same pixie tunic can be used as Robin Hood...
 ...with a few more accessories.
It's super easy to make and gets years of dressing up's a favourite around here.

To make the pixie tunic you need:
A metre and a half of stretch cotton jersey in green, scissors and matching thread.
If you don't have a sewing machine, you can sew it by hand.
1) Fold your cotton jersey right sides facing in, so the stretch goes across the body. Cut out the shape above through the two layers.
2) You can use one of your childs shirt's as a guide. Make sure you cut it roomy enough. You want it to come just above the knees.
3) Use your child's shirt as a guide of how wide to cut the neckline. You can tweak that later.
4) Using a zig zag stitch, sew each side of the tunic from sleeve to hem. It's kind of a batwing design.
5) Don't forget to reverse when you start/stop to anchor the seam.
6) Turn right side out. Almost done!
7) Cut zig zags or triangles into the hem and sleeve ends...leaving the seams intact. See the pics above.
8) Try the tunic on and tweak the neckline, trim it to look good. i did mine in a light 'V' neck. Pin those hem scrap triangles around the neckline.
9) Cut a long 'belt' or sash from the remaining jersey fabric.
And there you have it...a pixie tunic. I told you it was easy! Cotton jersey does not fray so there are no seams to finish. Gotta love that. I do! (And the kids certainly don't complain.)
Email me or leave comments if you have any questions - always happy to help.

For the pixie hat...cut out four of the above pixie hat shape...measure your wee person's head circumference to make sure it will fit. Remember that jersey has alot of stretch to it. You want four pieces...two for the outside of the hat, two for the lining. It will be reversible. I have two shades of green in the pieces in the photo. Green and red is fun at Christmastime/winter solsticetime.
With the fabric's right sides together, use your zig zag stitch to sew the pieces together. Turn the outer hat piece right side out and fit the hat inner inside it. Use a knitting needle or similar to tuck the pixis hat tops into each other. Fold over the outer and inner pieces, pin securely and sew to form the hem. 
Bells can be sewn on. Or tassles inserted as you sew.
If you use a green polar fleece you can get away with only one layer and the fleece makes the pixie hat stand up beautifully. 

Jo and Kelly...good luck making to see pictures when you do!
Happy making, everyone. x

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Small Poppies and us.

I wish state school were like Small Poppies. I confess that I would not have sought it out, but it found us. My son had a long conversation with a Plunket nurse at our playgroup, who came to seek me out and suggest i look into Small Poppies sessions for him. That same day a close friend suggested the same. I had never heard of Small Poppies or the Gifted Education Centre before. I was leery of labels and was reticent to find out more to begin with or to talk about the session until now. Because i believe all children deserve to be seen and valued for all of who they are and their gifts, whatever they may be. But labels can be useful, and here i am, the mama with the Steiner leanings, coming out of the closet.

What do i do with the sensitive child that struggles in classes larger than 10 children? Who needs a more diverse learning class based experience? Who is not ready to be on his own (without mama) at age four? What do i do with the child who wakes at 5am asking questions like ‘mama, what does ignominiously mean?’ To date, none of the words my son asks the meaning of are in his children’s dictionary. We do alot of fun learning stuff and ‘sessions’ of our own at home and for the last year we can be found once a week at Small Poppies, a session run for children up until the age of 6 years by the Gifted Education Centre in Auckland. We also drive an hour and a half in rush hour traffic to get there. Yup, we like it that much. (Those of you who know how i feel about cars will really get the impact of that statement!)

Each session has a theme. We walk in and the classroom is transformed into that theme...puzzles, equipment, toys and books all on that theme on tables and on the floor. I love how Small Poppies sessions are structured in a way the children can best learn...alternating free play with structured group time and hands on experiments and activities and work on individual projects assisted where necessary by parents. Each child feels heard in the classroom, each child gives what he or she can, with no pressure and no judgement on whatever quirks they may bring. Some of the themes in our year of attending: Logic games, building (bridges, large structures), the solar system, gravity, shopping (money, role playing shop keepers), spiders, dinosaurs, earthquakes/volcanoes/tsunamis, chemistry, time, unusual animals. It is always, always, a mighty fine time.

Yes, we pay for the privilege of being there. And, yes that is a challenge for us. We sacrifice other things because Jed and I get so much from our Small Poppies sessions and the people that work hard to run it. I almost didn’t enrol Jed, even though it was the first thing he was keen on going to and quite frankly, the only place we’ fitted’. Before the first assessment session was finished, my three year old was asking repeatedly if he could come back. I couldn’t believe it.

The clincher for me, was seeing my son’s response to Sue, the teacher who runs his sessions, and his enthusiasm. That, and Sue said, ‘look, if your child was struggling, you’d seek help right? This is at the other end of the spectrum.’ She was so right. I have always looked to my son to lead his learning journey...he has this beautiful thirst to learn, to explore, and know and through Small Poppies i find support on our journey, new tools and ideas, our horizons being opened and a community of like-minds.

For me, there is the solidarity of meeting other sleep challenged parents. So many of these kids are no friends of sleep. And of being kept on our toes fielding questions about how the world works. There are some funny stories out there. The kid who refuses to write or read, but can tell you all about our solar system. Down to the smallest details. It’s his thing. Or the children that teach themselves to read at tender ages. Or the sadder stories of children not fitting into state schools...of getting bored and causing trouble or their teachers just not knowing what to do with them.

If someone told me three years ago that my child would be involved with the Gifted Education Centre, i would have laughed them out of the room. Those were my misconceptions and rigidity speaking. Today i am not so quick to judge parenting choices. We each know our child best. To be honest i am not sure what all else is out there under the GEC's umbrella, or where my son's learning journey will take us next but i do know that stumbling into Small Poppies was exactly what we needed. Attending those sessions has been one of those defining, enriching stumbles that has changed our lives. So very much for the better.
An especial thanks to Sue Breen, for being the very special person she is, and the rest of the GEC crew, for doing what you do.

If you are visiting from the GEC Awareness week’s blog tour, be welcome,wander awhile. And be sure to check out the other posts on the GEC Blog tour in honour of Gifted Awareness Week.
What struck me first about Small Poppies is that the kids are treated like people, with respect. My son commented on this too. At the beginning of each term the teacher, Sue, will email and ask the children what they’d like to learn about in their sessions in the coming term.
I have a child who was born smiling and holding his head up, who looked three months old at birth. He was crawling by by 6 mo, walking by 9, talking in sentences not long after that. He has always seemed wise. I spent the first two years trying to catch up with him. He blew every expectation of parenting i had out the window. He may decide to play with lego for the next five years and leave off with the philosophy and science questions , and that is fine but until then...

Monday, June 18, 2012

three potentially life changing things

ONE. This is the newest member of the family. What can i say? 1) Jed is very happy and, 2) hormonally crashing mama's probably shouldn't make large decisions like adopting baby rabbits. You'll be hearing more about this little dude i am sure. We are all smitten.

TWO. I have images from James Mollison's project and book, Where Children Sleep, rocketing around my head. Can't shake 'em. What a crazy interesting world we live in. Riveting stuff. Great to stimulate kids thinking about culture. Go see. James' website is HERE with a larger series of photos from the book, but NPR have a nifty article on him HERE, with some text to the pics which i found interesting.
Thanks to Amy from Angry Chicken for the heads up on this one.

THREE. Have you met the Muffin Man? I have a few friends who moved to Madison, has a reputation for being progressive, a cool place to live. If the muffin man lives there, i can well believe it.
If you need a little lift to your day, a wee bit of inspiration on how to make the world a better place to be...head on over and check out the muffin man's muffin exchange HERE.  Just the kind of hi-jinks i used to get up to.

As always, i love to know what you are thinking about all away, or leave a comment.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

shirt rescue

 In dire need of long sleeved shirts now that winter is upon us, i picked this one out of the $1 bin at a secondhand bin. I like the cut and the fabric, but it had graphics on it I didn't like.
Part of the original shirt already had an applique'd red heart on it so i went with that theme and busted out some vintage tartan and floral fabrics from the stash. I cut out big enough hearts to cover the graphics.
The result is this...
An instantly wearable, if a tad tacky, long sleeve shirt. I wear alot of vests in the winter so you'll hardly get a glimpse of the hearts until things warm up around here.
So satisfying, those 5 minute clothing transformation projects.

Appreciating what Pip Lincolne from Meet me at Mikes wrote about the trend to transparency she is noticing these days...check out her piece HERE.

Appreciating too, Ian Lawton's post on the power of words HERE.

And, Ina May Gaskin in Birth Story, a documentary about her revolutionary midwifery work - the trailer can be seen HERE. I feel so lucky to have spent time at The Farm in Tennessee and have met Ina and her husband Steven and many wonderful folk in their community. She is a great example of how following your heart can give great things to the world. I love that story of how they all got started looking for a community in their buses back in the day...and those babies started coming!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

through the eyes of Jed

I found these on my phone camera. I didn't know he knew how to use it. I guess there are many things i don't know he can do these days. The boy is a blur of knowingness and action.
So, here you have it. A wee exhibition of Jed's photos.
I think it should be entitled 'Road trip through the eyes of a four year old'.
It is likely he would think otherwise.
 Mama. Essential on any road trip longer than half an hour. 
Opinel penknife. In secret compartment.
Another secret compartment.
'Interesting levers and buttons.'

The artist. Self portrait.

Friday, June 8, 2012

road trip and return

I so very almost pulled the plug on this trip away. I really didnt feel the energy to go, do, be with people.
But i did it. I am the mistress of all packing, i have done it so many times in my that part was easy.
And you know, once we got going, it was good. Really good.
A change of scene was just what was needed.
I have returned laughing again. Got that certain sparkle back to my eye.
Yay, huh?!
I forgot my camera, but my trusty phone was at the ready...