March 17, 2014

hitchhike-signs-smJames called from the deep south, confident he would find a ride with a borrowed a piece of cardboard and a marker from a farm he spotted off the highway. The generous farmer even offered him a spot of tea.

He reckoned he’d find a ride soon to the airport in Queenstown two hours away and catch his flight.  He’d be home within the day.

As the partner of a free spirit, these are the sort of scenarios I find myself in.  Long gone are the predictable paychecks, the 401k’s, and the tupperware parties.

I could have fallen in love with a CEO, but I didn’t.

I had yet to hit the jackpot with Arithmetic Village (although support growing and consistent). The time and energy that it consumed now seemed frivolous.

Something had to give. Read the rest of this entry »

Passing the pen….

March 4, 2013

princess elise

I started writing her life in my  own childhood… “My kids are going to… (insert anything amazing here)”.  After over a decade working with babies, my first child was born to my 29-year-old self . I was well ready for her, I wanted everything to be perfect, and she was.

Her entrance was joyful, even the young doctor cried happy tears. She was named after a song. Not the classic Fur Elise, but The Cure song “letters to elise”. A song which mirrored her parents relationship far greater than they would admit.

She was quickly known as the “Golden Child”, not  because of her golden curls but because of her sunny disposition and her adventurous spirit. Her youngest cousin renamed this child “Elise Victoria Sparkle Diamond”.

We carefully choose this child’s life, we ground her early organic food by hand, we practiced attachment parenting before we knew it had a name. The preschool teachers endured endless interviews, we considered everything from every angel when choosing anything for this child.

Despite this, she did not have a silver spoon.  She relied on her own creativity t early on to make her own pink Barbie CD player,which she made skillfully with a stapler and paper. The same for a game boy that changed with different games and was made of cardboard. Her first homemade outfit was a costume made entirely out of paper, including the shoes. Years later, she created her own prom dress and paid for her  school trip to Paris.

Every choice I have made the last 18 years has been with this child in mind. How will Elise react? What is best for Elise now? What does she need from me at this moment?

Our last decisions together were choosing a University and a dorm. And last month, I moved her there, to a city three hours away by ferry, bus and plane.

And today she turns 18.

And I can finally let go, knowing I did my best. i wrote the best story I could for the first chapters of this child’s life.

Now, I hand her the pen.

It’s an easy thing to do, I know she is an absolutely  fabulous writer.

Happy Birthday, Princess.

My blog is peacefully sleeping, I dare not wake it.

The stories I could wake it with, have already been told.

My child care perspective is summed up with Carrie and not just cute, my ideal life (and far from myself) is with Soule Mama, my previous life of sarcasm is with “because I said so“, they way I wish I could write is with Joe…. so many others do it so beautifully and honestly. I have no desire to be an expert, to limit my expression to one thought and focus. The stories that make up my life now are not ready for public consumption. Read the rest of this entry »

May 26, 2012

Zuva finally found a use for the helmet ornaments we got for Christmas. These little dolls perfectly represents the dichotomy in which I live.

I love both the Waldorf environment and philosophy. The the smell of wood, the pink translucent walls, the pastel muslins draping every harsh corner, and of course,  the handmade dolls and blocks. I also resonate with the philosophy of learning gently through role play and respect the seven-year cycles.

On the other hand, I live in the 21st century with teenagers, and internet and life..  and even though I live on a little island in a little country, it is still westernized, and access to a mall, or tv 24/7, it is at your fingertips.

 So, I shouldn’t have been surprised when my little one came home from her Steiner kindergarten with this beautiful sculpture of handcrafted art with its flower petals, shells and treasures. It is, of course,  a computer.

Storm.

May 9, 2012

I knew first time I saw the poster that I would make the event.

No plan, just a quiet knowing.

That morning my youngest asked to go on an adventure.

A big one.

We sat for a while contemplating a boat ride across to the big city we see from our windows. The clouds were dark. The deck chairs glided gracefully across the deck. The white water crashed below.
Hmmm..Maybe another day…
But then somehow the day turned and I found myself there. In the City, at 3 o’clock in the middle of the city street, a five year old on my shoulders. Her new boots kicking me softly, her lollipop narrowly avoiding my hair.
People around us were loud. Many of them were angry. Flags were waving, drums were beating. Read the rest of this entry »

Believe.

May 2, 2012

I am known for my irrational thoughts. The belief that anything is possible and there is always a way. My handsome partner is known for his practicality. His belief in reality. There here and now ..only the facts please.

There are lots of reasons why the new Arithmetic Village edition is taking a long time to finish. I believe that in the end, it will all be for a reason and everything will be fine. The illustrations were drawn quickly as I decided to shove my perfectionist self in a closet for a year or two, so the graphic designer received only first drafts. She has a very busy family life so, has worked just a little over 100 hours in the past nine months. If we were simply two women with nothing else on, we could have finished the project in a month or two, but we are not, and that is OK. Read the rest of this entry »

“You know what?” she asks casually from the passenger seat.

“What?”

“I don’t think I should have a baby now,” the pretty young teen answers.

“Is this a consideration?” I ask in my calmest mom voice.

” I thought about it, but now I’ve realized something” she says continues cheerily.

“What’s that?” (calm still).

“I only really want to buy lots of cute little  baby shoes.”

“Oh, that’s very different from having a real baby,” I add ever so gently.

“Yeah that’s what I think too.”

I still drive my teenagers obscenely short distances just in case we need to have these little impromptu chats….It’s worth every ounce of gas money.

little beach

April 14, 2012

“There is a surprise for you, but you have to come with me to see it!” the excited five-year old informs me.

I stopped doing dishes and follow her. I have no choice.

She leads me down the rickety path from our yard to the small beach.

And there it is: a teepee make of driftwood.

She’s been working on it all afternoon with her dad. We continue to add to it for a while longer, stringing fairies and feathers with flax..

Later, when friends visit, we cannot resist taking them down for another look.

I think this beach will be well visited..

Shifting

April 6, 2012

The one thing I knew for sure I wanted for this year was not to move. My children had finally adapted to a rhythm with our home. It was perfectly located for transport and beaches and even had a path one door down to our favorite pizza place. My daughters had heaps of room and were comfortable, especially after adjusting last year from having two homes on the island, to just one. We were settled. I finally had a deep gratitude to a home I never really liked, “Uninspiring” was the term I used to the real estate agent two years prior. But we were desperate, and this home was big enough for all of us, I would learn to live with the hospital white walls.

Like most grown ups, I prefer owning a home over renting and after my divorce, it was a big adjustment to live somewhere that I could not remodel. I’ve done well financially buying and doing up homes in the past and now found myself wishing I could knock out walls here and there….

James and I have jobs and skills versatile enough to live anywhere, so settling down and investing on this expensive island hasn’t been our priority, we are here for the teenagers. My eldest loves her school and my middle one thrives in this island community she has known since she was three, so we rent.

Of course, since all I really, really wanted this year, (my eldest daughter’s last year of hight school) was to stay put, in January we were told the house would be on the market. What ensued since then was a long series of conflicts and accusations that exhausted both mine and James patience. Why must all people who rent be treated like drug dealers? The experience was disruptive  to say the least. I’ll save you the details, but in the end, we did move this year, mid-week, in the middle of exams, in the middle of my kickstarter campaign. We ended the tenancy with our integrity intact.

Our reward?
We shifted to a beautiful warm home close to the schools, in a very quiet location, with insane views, and lovely landlords.

Sometimes I have to surrender and know that there is a better plan for me, one that is far better than I can imagine…

You’re about to begin a Kickstarter campaign. Well here’s a few tips, some things I’ve learnt, a few things to avoid, that could make the difference between success and failure.

1. Press “Go” without involving everyone

Do not press the “Go” button when your partner is doing dishes in the other room! No, that would be bad. May I even be so bold as to suggest pressing the button in style, maybe with a little champagne? Everyone involved in the project should be gathered around the computer, glasses in hand and some kind words said, maybe even directly to the person who created the project. Because maybe if she finds out her campaign was launched when she sits down at her desk and gets the congratulations email from Kickstarter, after she does the dishes, she might become what we call in our family “un-rope-able”. This early button pushing behaviour might also to lead to domestic disharmony that might last for days and a couch might be involved too, but I don’t know, this article is purely hypothetical… just remember rule number one… be inclusive. Please.

2. Start the campaign without a plan

Pressing the button is just the beginning, before you even press the “Go” button, you should have identified some evangelists to help spread the word. This saves you the embarrassment and humiliation of appearing like a non-stop billboard for a month and having people avoid you in the supermarket, from fear you might mention your project – yet another time. (Arithmetic VillageArithmetic VillageArithmetic Village…)

3. Assume a Kickstarter campaign will get you out of Jury duty

This one is important. The judicial system has not discovered Kickstarter or crowdfunding, they think it is something that involves jumper cables.  If you do, by some lucky chance, get chosen to serve on a jury, there is no internet in the courthouse, so you might have to sneak off to a cafe to squeeze in five or ten minutes on Facebook. The worst thing is this: You also might actually get so involved with the criminal case that may or may not involve robbers who accidentally stab themselves while climbing into the getaway car with all of their loot (no kidding), that you may even forget entirely about your project and decide to be a detective instead.

4. Move house in the middle of the campaign (this might be obvious)

Moving takes time and energy, and running a successful campaign usually involves actually knowing where your computer is and having consistent internet service.

5. Have children

They are cute and all, and when they grow up they might even make you a cup of tea, or  take you to a nice brunch. But when they are under the age of 18, they have teacher conferences, fundraisers, potlucks, plays, and like to eat three times a day, every day. They don’t drive until they are around 17 but have lots of places to go like school, ballet and gymnastics, swimming, etc. Definitely do not have three children in your home while running a kickstarter campaign, send them to their grandmothers for the month, that’s what grandparents are for.

If this free advice is helpful, please donate a dollar or two to my campaign – there’s still hope yet!

March 23rd – I’m halfway through the campaign and I can’t wait to get started, after I pack up a few more boxes…

BTW If you have some do’s and dont’s, things you learnt about how to run a great campaign, please leave a comment, as a gift to the next people looking for some wisdom.