Monday, March 30, 2009

Been missing bedtime reading...

I was determind tonight to get back to bedtime reading with my girls...

peaceful time, sharing time, cuddle time, dreaming time...I love it

tonight's tale opened with an injured Centaur seeking out the help of a 21st century 9 year old, mystery and intrigue...

my oldest has read it already and says "the best book I've read apart from Harry Potter", but wants to hear it read aloud now, and my youngest just wants me to read "anything" aloud as long as she gets to cuddle and dream...
What's your favourite bedtime story?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Behind the green door...

Remember that lovely green door a few posts ago? Well, this is what I see when I step through it each day with my eldest. Her class is studying the ancient people's this year, starting with India. Each morning we are greeted by the heady scent of incense and fresh flowers. Little bits of paper are also turning up all over the house - an experiment with Mandala's. AND in a couple of weeks we are having an Indian feast at the school - better dig my dahl recipe out. Anyone out there got a good curry recipe? Apparently we all have to wear Indian attire - so could mean a trip to Savers! The mandala maker, however, has been learning to wrap a sari from the most gorgeous material her Dad picked for her. Can't wait to see her wearing it.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sharing our wares

Brendan and Dan worked really hard sharing all our lovely treasures with other shop owners at the Australian toy fair. I love the golden glow of the stand...It's really hard work at a trade show - especially when you don't have a big team - the guys did a wonderful job. Hard work aside, it's a fun time of year for us as we get to find lots of lovely new toys for the stores, as well as catching up with friends from other stores and wholesalers. This time five years ago it felt as if we were "nearly" the only wooden toy stand at the fair - it's great to see that this is changing now.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Silvers Circus Big Top
Originally uploaded by vanessagx

Under the Big Top

Roll up, roll up...

There's a bit of a circus theme happening in our house at the moment. Firstly, my youngest started "circus" classes a few weeks ago and is absoloutely loving it! It is doing wonders for her confidence: learning to balance, juggle, hoola hoop, cart wheel; she returns home with big smiles every Monday.

Then today we visited Silver's for the first time in many years. It was a really pleasant surprise. I had vowed to never visit a circus because of the mistreatment of wild animals (I had a bad experience with Circus lions once - such a sad thing to watch a beautiful creature that should be free being made to perform). But today there was not an animal in sight, just a bunch of really entertaining folk bringing us a great afternoon of fun - the African gymnasists were amazing. My 84 year old father came with us today too - he told the girls stories of when he was a boy and used to slip under the sides of the tent for a free matinee - they loved that!

I am always interested in exploring archetypes and the spiritual truths behind them - why does the circus hold that special mystique for us as children, that seems to stay with us as adults (even if the reality doesn't meet the fantasy). The circus is a place where dreams and reality intersect, where the limits of human ability and perception are tested and surpassed. It is a place of escape from the everyday (to “run away and join the circus”), a place of spectacle & entertainment, and a proving ground for the human imagination.

The circus theme continues on at our shops too....somewhere on a ship between here and Germany (snuggled gently in a big wooden box) are the new release Circus figures from Ostheimer, which should arrive on Australian shores in the first week of April. I can't wait to build a whole range of circus related toys around them in the stores. Already I am thinking: hoola hoops, diablos, juggling balls.

The Ringmaster
"If the circus is the field of the senses at play, then the ringmaster would be that part of your mind which directs attention from one thing to the next. The ringmaster is the master of ceremonies, the stage play narrator, the television talk show host or tv news interviewer who acts as interpreter of events on behalf of the audience. In the Tao Te Ching, he stands at the center of the circle or wheel and all spokes radiate outward from him."

The Magician

"In the Tarot deck, the Magician card stands for consciousness, concentration and the action of the Will. The card stands, in some sense, for the self-mastery required of the practitioner of this or any circus art: a singular dedication to study, improvement and self-mastery."


"Clowns invert social rules and roles in overly dramatic and ridiculous ways, enabling audience members to “blow off steam” and temporarily upset the normal order. “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound those who are mighty.” — 1 Cor 1:27"

The acrobat
"The acrobat trains and trains, building muscle memory and pushing the body to feats of flexibility, balance and elegance which to the ordinary person may seem near miraculous. The Ancient Greeks believed in the principle of a “sound mind in a sound body” for which they built elaborate gymnasia, compounds where physical exercise and training took place."

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Green Week - Day 7 Sunday

Whew - I did it - I posted everyday for a whole week!!! This week I have really enjoyed starting to write again after a long absence. It has also been really, really lovely to read your comments. I am really starting to enjoy this blogging thing! That's enough "really's" I think. Time to put my feet up and enjoy a cuppa.

The end of Green Week - really.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Green Week - Day 6 Saturday

This gorgeous green Phlegmatic Puzzle is handcrafted by Grimm's Spiel and Holz and is coloured with natural non-toxic dyes. It is one of a set of four that is based on the four temperaments.

I discovered the four temperaments when I was studying the work of Rudolf Steiner (founder of Steiner/Waldor education), and I found it incredibly insightful. The four temperaments were first described by Hippocrates, the father of medicine. He described the basic personalities of all humans as being made up of four temperaments being: Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholic and Phlegmatic. While there are four temperaments, each of us may have a dominant one, but usually a combination of two.

As a parent I have found that by recognizing and working with your own and your child’s temperament you can turn a challenging situation into a much more positive experience. For instance, a child that is bossy and stubborn, may really respond to being given leadership situations.

Each temperament has it’s own unique challenges and attributes. You might be surprised to know that A A Milne based his main characters on each of the four temperaments:

Cholerics- passionate; natural born leaders, temperamental, stubborn and prone to anger, get things done. Like Rabbit.

Sanguines - optimistic, fun, talkative, popular and sometimes over-bearing, a social butterfly skipping through life, enthusiastic, lacking focus, curious, difficulty finishing things. Tigger, Roo, Christopher Robin

Melancholics- gentle and kind, moody, can suffer from depression or negatitvity, sensitive, preoccupied with their inner world, cares for others. Eeyor, sometimes Piglet

Phlegmatics - easy going, steady going, likes to observe, reliable, willing to comple tasks, slow to action, calm, gets-along-with-all types. Winnie the Pooh

If you would like to learn more about the four temperaments, you can visit:

Green Week - Day 5 Friday

Was just wondering what to post today, when I came across this wonderful voice - I love discovering new music and this is beautiful...sublime vocals and a poet too. Jake's favourite book is The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein which is also one of my own personal favourites - it was given to my eldest for her 8th birthday a few years ago. This is the story of a relationship between a young boy and a tree who become best friends. The tree always provides the boy with what anything he asks for: apples, shade, wood, until in the end "tree" makes a final act of unconditional love. Simply written and illustrated, I enjoy the rhythm of this book, both in the lilting language, and the sense of time and growth. Although simply told, this is not a straightforward story, it raises many questions for the reader about the nature of life, love and the human condition.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Green Week - Day 4 Thursday

This is the door my eldest walked through for the first time two weeks ago - to be welcomed with real warmth, care and friendship into her new school. She's the happiest I've seen her for a long time and it is a joy to drop her off by this door each and every morning. More pictures and stories from beyond the door soon.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Green Week - Day 3 Wednesday

Look carefully, yes, it's true, there are raindrops in our pond!! We are having rain for the second time in a week. OK, it was only a little, but we are enjoying every single drop. The girls are very excited - 10 years of drought makes up their entire lifetime - so when we have rain they really do love it. Sometimes this means running around the backgarden in sheer delight - grabbing pots and pans from under the gutters and tipping them over all the ailing plants - all done with much laughter, squeels and dripping hair and clothing!

I'm loving this...

I think I would have liked to have been a beekeeper in a past life. This gorgeous postcard comes from Marie over at Vintage Postcards - she has collected some very yummy things over there.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Green week - Day 2 Tuesday

Day 2 - Tuesday 10th March

My favourite little green folk from Ostheimer - I can't resist them! Made it with a second to spare - too much twittering tonight!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Green week - Day 1 Monday

I've been inspired by Shelley at waldorf mama. To mark the beginning of Spring, in the Northern Hemisphere they are celebrating green week . I thought I would celebrate too (albeit a week later). Here in Melbourne in the Southern Hemipshere we are entering Autumn, but with a little rain after a long hot summer, drought and bushfires, instead of turning shades of gold and amber, we are experiencing joyous (!) splashes of GREEN. This is a celebration indeed!!!

DAY 1: Monday
Even after the drought Mother Nature has still provided some harvest in our garden.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Easter is coming...

We had so much fun in the shop over the last few days getting ready for Easter and redecorating our window. Lots of lovely treasures (that make a nice change from an overload of chocolate) - the painted wooden eggs look stunning hanging on a bare branch I think, and I do love the Ostheimer hen house - I've seen a few copies of these around lately, so do be careful and ask for the box or a label when purchasing. Walter and Adeline Ostheimer began the forerunner to today’s Ostheimer Wooden Toys company in 1939. Their toys are based on the theories of Waldorf (Steiner) Pedagogy. Each animal is handcarved and painted with tranparent non-toxic paints. The smaller fake animals I have seen are factory made in China - such a pity - and you can not be sure of their toxicity, timber and labour sources. Help support handmade goods and make sure you buy an original.

The little brown doll is by designer Evi - these are ethically made by women in Brazil using natural cotton and pure wool stuffing.

Can't wait to get started on some Easter craft now - I think the girls will be ready for some of the more complex egg decorating ideas from Easter Craft this year, and maybe we'll sew the little egg cosies too - this book has so many lovely ideas we find something new to do every year.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The waterfall place...

Sunday afternoon at "the waterfall place" (as the girls call it). We have been coming here since they were first walking. It doesn't seem like a waterfall to them anymore now their perspective has changed...but it is still our special, secret, relaxing place.

Autumn is here!!!! Everyone who knows me well, knows also that this is my favourite time of year - slowly (in Melbourne) the weather starts to cool, the leaves turn and the shadows grow longer. It is also the time of Lent leading up to Easter. For me, there is a golden thread of truth running through all spiritual traditions - it resides in the human heart - it is the mystery of being human.

It is a gentle time of year, and as I watch the garden's subtle changes, I am reminded of all that must die away in life in order for something new to emerge. It is a time of quietness. This year I am having to let go...the drought has really done it's many plants much barren ground where there was once green...

In our kitchen stands a simple empty bowl (a punch bowl given on our wedding day) on white cloth (a lovely piece of linen I bought in Eygpt 20 years ago) - each time I pass it I am reminded to make space in my life for all that is really important, and to empty out all the noise and clutter - all that stuff we hold on to - whether it be material, mental or emotional.

It is a time to be still...and be.