9 April 2013

An instrument of change

Again, thank you for all the love and warmth being sent to lift my spirits. I'm still feeling weak but I was up all day yesterday and it was such a relief to not have to stay in bed all day. Hanno made us a delicious leek and potato soup for dinner, it was my first real food in five days and it went down well. BTW, for those of you who commented that my list should have included "looking after myself", that didn't have to be listed. It was happening anyway, and will continue.

- - - ♥ - - -

My family is moving into a more stable phase with both Alex and Jamie starting day care and their parents lives setting down a bit after the tumultuous changes brought about by being first-time parents. No one ever knows what to expect with their first baby, it's all happiness and joy mixed with a bit of pain and confusion in those first months before baby starts settling and parents realise what a profound change they've just gone through. There is no going back. Then there are the physical changes and extra work to deal with, and all the way through those first two years there is a lot of learning, not only with the baby learning new things but the parents learning about love and the future and how to work towards both. It takes a while to take on all these changes and work out a style of parenting that suits both personality and family. It's not easy but if this basic ground work is done, it builds a very firm foundation on which a child builds a life.

Jamie with the little wheelbarrow, just like Opa's, we gave him for his birthday.

My role through this time has been to support my sons and daughters-in-law as well as the babies, by helping to maintain a stable family, by showing unconditional love and by providing help whenever I could.

Jamie and Alex are both starting to talk, and now that we see Jamie much more frequently it's a joy to be with him, watching, as he goes through this wonderful life change. We know how difficult it is when you're working and trying to raise children to be self-confident, contribute to the country and build a life for themselves. We did it ourselves and we see our own children doing it now. We're lucky that we have been able to step back and create an unusual life here where we can support ourselves by growing food and raising chickens in the backyard, and where life has taken on its own enriching, gentler pace.

I see our life now as continuing along this simple path and being a stable support for our family, a helping hand outstretched every time it's needed. It is still our responsibility to provide leadership and care, but without interference. We expect Alex and Jamie's parents to provide most of what the boys need but one of the things we can provide is to show, by example, how to live simply, to appreciate what we have and to demonstrate, without doubt, that while the commercial world will throw all the gadgetry, gimmicks and glitter at them, this way of living provides clarity, enrichment and happiness. I have no doubt Alex and Jamie will benefit from all the new discoveries made during their lifetime, just as I have benefited from those in mine, but I hope they remember all through their lives that sustainability is equally important and that a wheelbarrow can also an instrument of change.


  1. What wonderful grandparents your grandkids have and what a wonderful support you and Hanno both are to your sons and daughters-in-law. I can only dream of having similar support but with a mother playing favourites with my brother and a mother-in-law in the UK we do it alone and I can tell you that having familial support is worth its weight in gold.
    I am glad you are looking after yourself too. We are no good to anyone if we don't put that first and hopefully you're continuing to improve and feel better every day.

  2. Hi Rhonda

    A lovely, thoughtful post as usual and one that resonated with me.

    Our granddaughters (3 & 5) will be staying with us on the weekend and already I am planning what we can do together. As well as weeding the vegetable garden we will be making pasta (using our own eggs) and bolognaise sauce. I think that learning where you food comes from is one of the most important things I can teach them.

    I am glad to hear you are on the mend but of course it will take some time to get your strength back.

    Best wishes.

  3. Glad to hear you are on the mend.

    Your post was lovely and very inspiring.

    Continue to heal and have a nice week.


  4. A lovely post Rhonda. we have similar thoughts here on our little farm. Lovely to hear that you are on the way back to health.

  5. I love this post and the way it speaks to how to be an excellent grandparent in this day and age. Both of my grandchildren live near by, and I see my role as what you describe. I feel so fortunate to be in their lives in this way. Thank you, Rhonda.

  6. You and Hanno are wonderful parents and grandparents. The examples you are setting for everyone in your family will serve them well for their entire lives.

  7. Hi Rhonda
    Nice to here your better nice post

    Linda Ann

  8. What a BEAUTIFUL sentiment, Rhonda :) I am also in a similar position with our oldest son, his wife and their baby daughter. They are looking for their first home to purchase and as they will be buying one that needs some TLC, they have asked if we could give them a hand with painting and cleaning it as well as showing them how to get a garden started. They are on a tight budget and are eager to save every penny possible by doing the work themselves (which is what we have done with our home for the 3 years that we have been renovating and updating our home). It will be an honour to help them as they work hard toward building their dreams together :)

    We also model simplicity by living the home and family focussed life that we lead. We aren't perfect, but we do try our level best and that's what's most important. I can hardly wait to take our Granddaughter out to the garden to see the hens this summer. She will grow up to know that veggies and fruit come from bushes, plants and trees in the garden and that eggs come from chickens who roam our yard and eat our scraps returning fertility to the soil. She will know that we catch the rain to water the garden and that the sun heats the greenhouse and dries our clothes. She will know that we make what we can and we fix what we are able to. She will know how to work and how to rest in the hammock for a snuggle and story. She will know the good life :)

    Those are lessons NO child should miss!

  9. What a lovely post Rhonda. My Grandparents always lived very simple lives, they had a huge vegetable garden, kept chickens, cut all their own wood for their heating/hot water requirements and took one holiday a year with theirs tent and all their grandchildren in tow. My grandmother was still knitting hats out of plastic bags well into her eighties. Not a day goes by when I am in my vegie garden that I don't think of my Grandad. He was always in his garden in shorts and thongs - no matter what the weather - with his pipe firmly clenched in his mouth, digging up some wonder or another. Being in my garden makes me feel very connected with him still. Not only are you and Hanno setting a great example for your Grandkids, you are creating marvelous memories for them too. They are very lucky.

  10. So glad you are on the mend Rhonda <3 I have wonderful memories of my grandparents simple lives. The things I enjoy doing are the same things I spent time doing with them. I am hoping to see if that plays out with each of my own three grandchildren. Thanks for a wonderful post.

    Central Illinois

  11. Your grandchildren are very blessed to have such lovely grandparents! I so enjoy being mama to our family.... and look forward to the day that our family grows to include grands.

    Glad you are feeling better, Rhonda. Potato and leek soup sounds yummy. Tonight, we are having a roast from our farm raised beef - a special accomplishment, for us.

    Wishing you well. :)

  12. Oh my Jamie is growing up....so very cute. Day care.......they both seem far too young for such a separation but I am probably being old fashioned. I still believe in children being raised at home and not fostered out into are centres. It worries me but I accept that it is acceptable. It just seems so far off from the simple of life. Those years are so very precious and informative....I wanted to see their first of everything. Something despite finances we have never regretted.

  13. A wonderful example indeed to your family and Jamie's curls are delightful!
    We had afternoon tea with 4 generations of our family here recently and what joy to see my almost 80yr old Dad teaching 3-legged race and sack race etc to his great-grandchildren!
    Your blog and books will also be a priceless gift to your family.
    Hope you're continuing to improve health-wise, I miss you!
    Much love

  14. So glad that you are getting better and that Hanno is so good to care for you just as you cared for him during his time after his accident and illness. That is the kind of marriage that lasts a lifetime. I loved the post about grandparenting and the red wheelbarrow! Blessings, Carolyn in Florida

  15. Above all else, I am so relieved you are feeling better. Hearing about your beautiful family is icing on the cake! What a blessing and joy for your family to have you in their lives. They have a very loving, caring, and understanding mom, wife, mother in law and grandmother! Hugs Amy :)

  16. "A wheelbarrow can also be an instrument of change"...I love that!

  17. Glad you are feeling better and better! Your blog is a little breath of fresh air for me - to remember to be a helper, that there's a role in people's lives for that, and to let others live the life they are choosing - that one is VERY hard for me! You continue to be an inspiration! Have a great day!! :)

  18. So happy to hear that you are on the mend! Gorgeous photo of Jamie, and how lovely that you and Hanno are able to spend more time with him
    Judy xx

  19. Oh Rhonda I do hope you are feeling better today. You are so blessed to have your children and especially your grandchildren near. There is nothing like growing up with Grandparents I know this to be true. Get Well. B

  20. Rhonda,
    Love this post. It speaks volumes to me.
    It is this very image of my grandparents living such a life that keeps me plodding on and gives me strength when so much stacks up against me. I was lucky in my childhood to experience their wisdom, even if I didn't know it at the time =)
    I was kneading flour on Sunday and an image of my grandfather's hands doing the same replayed itself for me. It occurred to me that all four of my grandparents had amazing hands. Working hands. Hands of character and strength. Funny how hands always cemented how I felt about someone. If the eyes are the window of the soul, then surely the hands are a reflection of our life.

    Trinidad & Tobago

  21. Glad to hear you're getting better. We've just had the same virus go through the whole family including the baby - very messy and not fun at all. As soon as my son got sick I put on a pot of chicken soup, and I've been so glad, in subsequent days, that I did!
    I can't believe how quickly your grandsons are growing up! It doesn't seem that long since they were just born! The more I think about simple living and the lessons I would like to pass on to my children, the more I realise that living by example is the number one most important thing to do. Your grandsons are very lucky, you have so many skills and a mindset that is not all that common anymore, even amongst grandparents.

  22. Happy to hear you are feeling a bit better, awful being so unwell.
    I read in a magazine at the doctors office recently about grandchildren. One grandmother writing said: lucky we have a good pension, because grandkids are expensive! Another grandmother wrote she was upset because they had a small pension and couldn't afford to buy as posh presents as the other grandparents! Saddening in my opinion. Your grandkids are lucky to have you and your husband and get to see another more sustainable life. I'm sure it will make a deep impression. Pam x

  23. I hope this finds you back at good health. I loved the photo of Jamie with his wheelbarrow. For Easter this year Easter bunny delivered only a few chocolate eggs but they were delivered inside a lovely little wheelbarrow with some garden tools. I really dreaded the thought of my children going wild on chocolate overdose so I thought Easter bunny would be better to bring something my four children could use and enjoy for longer than one day. When my four year old asked 'why would Easter bunny bring a wheelbarrow and gardening tools?' I suggested that perhaps he was disappointed he didn't have any carrots waiting for him and that he wanted them to grow some. This made sense to her luckily and they were so excited about getting outside and using them. They also made me proud because they didn't say 'is that ALL the eggs we got' like I later heard some child had commented to their parents.
    I can remember gardening with my Mum, and I love getting my children involved in growing the vegies and flowers, watching them grow, nurturing them and reaping the rewards of our labours when we enjoy the tastes, smells and sights the things we have grown ourselves. And it makes me proud to know that my children know where their food comes from not just from a supermarket. I hope that the things they learn about gardening and growing their own food will carry through their lives and they continue to use this very important and rewarding skill. I am so glad you are able to enjoy spending time with your grandchildren too, my children's grandparents all live away from us but the times they get to spend with them are very special and they are so lucky to have them.
    Take care and enjoy your weekend. Julie-Anne xx

  24. I love this post, especially the last line. SO true. I'm glad you are feeling on the mend, and hope you're fully well soon.


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