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Spring Fling at the Park

what a fabulous idea for building community in our area, not to mention that i LOVE the idea of laughing in the face of the british summer! you can bet the littles and i will be attending, complete with waterproof picnic blanket, wellies and a change of clothes just in case. if you live in the area you should totally come, and if you see us, please do come say hi! sarah

Park Life

Two great British traditions will come together on Saturday in Russell Park – the marvelous concept of the picnic, and also LAUGHING IN THE FACE OF THE BRITISH SUMMER.

We like both. Picnicking, for obvious reasons – delicious food, eating outdoors, on a nice rug, (or just one that has been rolling around in the back of the car for an unspecified number of years, it really doesn’t matter-)  perhaps a pork pie or two- a picnic is a really lovely, outdoorsy, social way to eat.

And, laughing in the face of the British so-called-Summer. Well, it is practically a national obsession, and you can usually turn it into a nice game to help pass the time as you shelter from the latest downpour.

“Who can remember a worse Spring?”

“Ah, the May of 1985 was terrible – definitely colder.”

“But do you remember the awful drought of May 1991? At least…

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dancing my way through the crazy

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remember all those posts in the first weeks of max’s life? yea… my mom AND richard were around then. one post a month since they both returned to America and work respectively… this, my friends, is my new reality.

strangers see me out with my three littles under five years and say things like, ‘wow, you’re brave,’ or ‘you’ve got your hands full,’ with either disapproving glances or eyes full of pity.

and they are right i do have my hands full. but i don’t feel brave, i feel in over my head. when friends ask how i am doing, half the time i have no idea what to answer, mostly because i haven’t thought about how i am doing. instead, i have been triaging. all day.

you know that film, ground hog day? my life feels a little like that. waking up each morning to the same day as before. except in my case, without the time, energy or brain power to improve it from day to day. it sounds depressing when i write it out like that, but in all honesty, hopelessness about ever feeling ‘on top of things’ has started to creep in and i wonder when i will have a day where i feel i can gain some ground, get some space and strategise about better ways to do my life. i feel like it is survival right now–and barely so.

however, last week, when a group of friends from church were hanging out at our house, on of the guys said something so encouraging that my perspective on my situation shifted almost immediately.

we were praying together as a group and one of the guys said this:

sarah, i know you have said that you feel like a hamster in a wheel, just doing the same mundane thing day in and day out. but in my head i see a ballerina pirouetting, moving constantly and so fast and doing the same turn over and over again, but so beautifully and with such grace. i know you feel like your life is crazy right now and that it never stops but i feel like god wants to remind you that what you are doing in loving these small ones is a beautiful thing and that you are doing it beautifully.

tear jerker! it was so what i needed to hear and also lead me into a real moment of understanding god’s grace for me in this season. things are crazy. mental in fact and at the end of most days i feel slightly disoriented, just from all the needs and tasks at hand. i don’t feel i have chunks of time to eat or go to the bathroom, much less to spend with god to get the energy or grace to love these little well.

yet, i think about those ballerinas who spin. most pirouettes involve an action known as “spotting”, where the dancer fixes her focus on some stationary point in front of her and brings her head round to see that spot at the end of each rotation. this constant focus on a focal point is how the dancer keeps turning without getting dizzy.

it is a short–often less than a second–but deliberate refocussing on the same unmoving spot. most of the time, i only have less than a second in my crazy days, but that is all i need! god is my rock, his love never fails and his goodness is unchanging. no matter my day, my success or failure at self-control, or my children’s behaviour, his goodness, faithfulness and love for me–and them–does not waver. the perfect father is my perfect focal point.

knowing that he sees my crazy spinning as beautiful and elegant and not at all hamster-like has changed my feelings about my days and my kids a ton. but knowing that his expectations of me in this time are only to keep fixing my eyes on him, the dad who has everything that i need for each day, even if only for a second, has changed my feelings towards myself entirely. that is something that i can do and he will give me what i need for everything else.

game. changer.

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today is {happy}

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today marks the end of my first week on my own with three kids. it wasn’t as overwhelming as I expected it to be… neither was it as easy as i was hoping. contrary to all the photos, max doesn’t actually sleep that amazingly but we are slowly working out a rhythm that suits us all and i think, all things considered, i could call it a good week!

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today is also the beginning of the easter weekend and the day i was able to take a long walk in the sun with our sweet young family without feeling too desperately worn out at the end. glory!

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and, while we were out walking we popped into our favourite local charity shop and stumbled upon an amazing find.

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the entire 20 story book set of the wind in the willows! the illustrations are gorgeous and of course the story is charming as ever.

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they are the perfect length for reading to sam and rae whilst feeding the little guy and i couldn’t be more thrilled to have found such a classic for such a bargain.

as things continue to settle down around here and we get used to our new normal, i am very much looking forward to sharing more design and celebration posts (for some killer easter activities and celebration ideas check out my pinterest celebration board–we are definitely making the pirate egg people this afternoon)!

i also had a great idea, inspired by this gal, to share our story this year. how this british mister and i ended up together, our kids’ birth and name stories and any other fun, landmark events that have happened in between. i love it that someday our kids will have this blog as a journal of our young families adventures.

happy saturday and happy easter tomorrow. sarah

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you are my wild

i stumbled upon this sweet poem yesterday whilst reading one of my newest blog discoveries and i just have to share it. brought me to tears.

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you are my wild
by maryann cusimano

I am your parent you are my child
I am your quiet place, you are my wild
I am your calm face, you are my giggle
I am your wait, you are my wiggle
I am your audience, you are my clown
I am your London Bridge, you are my falling down
I am your Carrot Sticks, you are my licorice
I am your dandelion, you are my first wish
I am your water wings, you are my deep
I am your open arms, you are my running leap
I am your way home, you are my new path
I am your dry towel, you are my wet bath
I am your dinner you are my chocolate cake
I am your bedtime, you are my wide awake
I am your finish line, you are my race
I am your praying hands, you are my saving grace
I am your favourite book, you are my new lines
I am your nightlight, you are my sunshine
I am your lullaby, you are my peek-a-boo
I am your kiss goodnight, you are my I love you

xo sarah

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three blogs i’m currently obsessed with

in the past few months, while researching crafts and fun ideas for celebrating the small holidays throughout the year for my, year of {celebration} series, i have stumbled upon a few new blogs that i am absolutely in love with. these ladies are creative moms who have a super keen eye for good design and really enjoy creating and playing with their kids. i have found their craft/art ideas inspiring and their celebration of their children heartwarming.

introducing:

merandboysB750pxwidemer mag: her craft ideas and posts about everyday life are darling

whysmallfrysmall fry: this is where you can find other inspiring blogs, chic and practical kids clothing as well as more creative activitiesnewheader4

and che and fidel: i am obsessed with her 52: a portrait a week idea (basically she does a portrait of her children, once a week, every week–fab!) and am going to start it hopefully in april or may.

i hope you enjoy having a peruse of these sites! they have given me all new inspiration for my days with the littles. sarah xo

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a year of {celebration} st patricks day

my celebrating of st patrick’s day has unfortunately not taken off due to the littlest oliver coming along in such a dramatic fashion, but i did still want to share some of the things i would have done, had i been in a state to prepare and do.

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i absolutely loved this idea from these girls and will definitely be doing it next year and probably adapt it to fit other holidays as well!

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and, this idea seemed like a fun and easy first sewing project for rae and sam. maybe not to make barrettes but i was thinking a clover garland or possibly just a pin for their tops that day.

i am sure that i will actually get to do some of these fun ideas with the kiddos soon enough, but for now i am so enjoying collecting ideas (you can follow my ‘year of {celebration} board on pinterest to see them all!) and i love seeing how other moms are making these small holidays special for their littles.

i do hope you enjoy st patty’s day! i know i will. the nice thing about the low iron levels is that i ‘have’ to drink a pint of guinness each day as its stock full of the stuff. bummer huh?! sarah xo

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today is {new}

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this is my sweet view for several hours a day. a precious baby boy who, in his six days here, has already stolen our hearts and become quite the object of admiration!

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like a true oliver, he came into the world with a bit of drama. my planned water birth turned into an emergency caesarean. he is totally fine and doing great but this momma lost a lot of blood in the process. i am ok and home now but the pain post surgery and low iron levels are proving challenging.

it always seems terribly unfair for them to give you a newborn after major surgery (wink!).

but, today is new. my heavenly dad has new mercies every morning (lamentations 3:23). every one. he gently guides those with young (isaiah 40:11) and even with sorrowful nights, he promises joy afresh each morning (psalm 30:5).

my hope in this beautifully challenging time is that i will remember to take in each wonderful moment, love on my babies, wonder at this new life and trust that with each passing day i will gain more strength–all whilst resting in the fact that i have a father who loves me and gives me a fresh start each morning.

aaaaaand breathe…

sarah

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reflections on 18 months of real food

UW Real Food Challenge

UW Real Food Challenge

it has been about 18 months since we started making the switch to real food. and i say ‘started making the switch’, because this has been, and is still, a process. and i firmly believe in baby steps when it comes to huge cultural changes for the family. there is no need to put pressure on myself or our family to make a drastic change very quickly. it isn’t much fun for anyone involved, as there is usually stress and frustrations that limit love. this is a lesson learned from experience, and honestly, as long as we have turned around and started walking in the right direction, i know we will ‘get there’ sooner or later and for sure be better off than we were a month or two–or 12 ago.

plus, by taking it slow, i have worked out what kind of real food eater i am and been able to cater that to our lifestyle in a way that works for us but still nourishes our bodies and local community. for example, i started out making my own sourdough bread… with 2 toddlers, while i was starting a business. yea. it was mental. some women may have coped, but i did not! i hated it. resented my starter and felt trapped by a cycle of kneading, fermenting and baking. enter traditional, long-fermented sourdough bread, sliced and in a bag at our local market (and now also at a major, yet health and community conscious supermarket). yes it is nearly 2 bucks a loaf but i was paying that much for a bag of spelt flour that was only getting me one loaf of bread with massive effort and stress on my part. no. brainer. i now buy this bread and we just eat less of it to make up for the cost.

so here is where we are at now.

  • we eat real food on a pretty tight budget
  • we have swapped to good fats (olive oil, coconut oil, butter, cream/creme fraiche)
  • we eat organic and/or pastured/grass-fed meat, eggs and dairy
  • we just recently switched to organic, seasonal fruit and vegetables–not because we came into more money but because we chose to have meat less often in the week to compensate financially
  • we eat fermented and/or soaked grains
  • we have swapped from refined sugar to honey or maple syrup with the odd, occasional Tbsp of rapadura
  • we rarely eat any processed or packaged foods
  • we have a milk kefir smoothie most days (we did do water kefir for a while but again, it was too much effort. milk kefir is so much easier to do at home. i strain it straight into our blender and it creates a fabulous pro-biotic base for our daily afternoon smoothie snack)
  • i make a bone broth once a week and use it for soups, sauces and cooking rice

we also operate on the 80/20 system. we go out for coffees and we totally buy processed treats while we are there. we never say no to food offered to us from friends. when i am having a bad day, rather than yell at the kids in stress that i have to cook up a meal from scratch again, we go grab a frozen pizza. and we absolutely have cake at parties and chocolate at valentines and christmas. i want us to be normal, to be gracious with ourselves and to be able to socialise with our friends and appreciate and accept the generosity of others without being awkward.

but at the same time, to my delight, i am finding that, increasingly, myself, richard and the kids are wanting less and less process treats or we want them, get them and then have way less or stop before we are done because they just don’t taste as great as we remember. when i do have a manic day and we get a frozen pizza for dinner, we do not eat as much of it and all complain of tummy aches the next day. and by far the most exciting development is that, although we all caught a cold and tummy bug this winter (did anyone escape i wonder?!) none of us ended up needing anti-biotics to kick it. none of us. seriously. this is the first time this has happened to me in my life and i could not be more thrilled.

there are things i want to try over the next year, like making my own condiments, switching to raw dairy and experimenting with more grain-free recipes, but for now i feel like we are in a groove that i am happy with–and has finally become easy.

have you been thinking about switching to real food? have you already made the switch? i would love to hear your experiences, thoughts, tips and stories! love, sarah