Thursday, February 26, 2009

Koala Kingdom

Spot the koala

There he is!
When we first moved to our eight acres of eden over six years ago, we soon discovered that it was a haven for wildlife and a 'koala kingdom' with so many species of the gum tree favoured by these fabulous furry marsupials. However, my first wildlife encounter was with lizards, two rather large lizards or goannas - the lace monitors. On my first week day in my new home I was washing dishes at the sink, gazing out of the window thinking serene thoughts as I surveyed the bushland when I spotted them just outside the window, coming down the path to the kitchen door which was open. This was the first time I had ever seen lizards of such proportions , I'd seen them before of course, but only on wildlife documentaries. This was for real! I raced to close the door and I have to say it was several hours before I plucked up enough courage to venture outside. Perhaps they had come to check out the new neighbours but I wasn't ready for reptile visitors, I was thankful that it wasn't a snake but it was only a matter of time until my first meeting with a snake and it was memorable - inside the house! When we had viewed the house, I asked the owner if she ever had seen snakes close to the house. 'Oh no, they stay down in the bush, I haven't seen a snake for two years' She lied! On a warm summer day, about to enter the bedroom located off a breezeway, I glanced up and just inches above my head was the thickest tail of a snake I had ever seen. It belonged to a huge python or carpet snake as they are commonly called. The snake was disappearing into the wardrobe and most likely into the ceiling, it didn't take long to go but it seemed like an eternity to me, 'fight or flight' was obviously out of order, as I froze and called out 'snake, snake'! The children came running and were most disappointed to find that the python had gone. They christened him 'Arnie' and kept uttering 'I'll be back' to tease their poor, terrified mother! Since my first reptilian encounters, we have seen many more snakes and goannas, they have obliged and stayed away from the house. The only lizards that come inside are the leaf-tailed geckos and they are welcomed house guests. So, are the huntsman spiders but they are the reason my mother-in-law does not want to move to Australia! She lives in New Zealand which does not have snakes or poisonous spiders.

A welcome house guest

The wonderful thing about Australian wildlife is its sheer diversity. Birdlife abounds here and it is so colourful from rainbow lorikeets to king parrots and my personal favourite the regent bowerbird with its striking yellow markings on a black body. Native bees buzz, butterflies flutter on the breeze, frogs croak and in the summertime, the cicadas are so deafening, I'm going to have to hand out earmuffs to our visitors or learn sign language so we can communicate outside! This is a beautiful place to raise children, children who appreciate nature and love to observe God's creatures in their natural habitat, whether it is the honeyeaters hovering as they sip sweet nectar from flowers or a spider spinning a web, they are always enthralled. The novelty has never worn off.

The colours of Nature Rainbow lorikeets
Being the first to spot a mother koala with her baby on her back, was immensely satisfying for my eldest daughter. We soon realized that the loud grunting we heard at night was not a wild pig but a rather large male koala who has a particular fondness for the trees closest to our bedroom. It is peaceful here but not silent. Accompanying the koalas in the evening are the frog choirs competing in 'Amphibian Idol'! I do not know why we bother to set our alarm each morning as the chorus of laughing kookaburras rouses us from sleep, nice and early but we forgive them as we are early risers and like to be up and about by six. Giving our children the time and freedom to explore and discover nature and all its intricacies is so important. It creates in them a sense of wonder, provides sparks for their imagination and enrichment of their mind and spirit, as they become aware of Him who created it all - God the master designer, artist, creator.

A friendly frog - The green tree frog I encourage my children to record their special 'nature moments' in a family nature journal. I will share about our nature journals and other projects in a future post. Until then from eight acres of eden With love and joy, Ann

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Vision for Family

Our family June 2007 Visit from grandparents

On a wall in our family room I have an area for pinning up posters. You can tell a lot about people from what they choose to display on the walls of their home. We have a world map at 'small child height', so younger members of the family can locate countries and oceans. There is the 'Fossickers Guide to Australia which shows the different gemstones that can be found in this country and on prominent display is our family vision poster.
Most businesses in today's commercial environment have mission statements, they may be displayed in their head office or printed on business cards. The statement is there for one main purpose, to tell their customers why their business exists, it conveys what they stand for and what they are working towards.
For a long time, I held in my heart a vision for my family but I never wrote it down, then one day I put pen to paper and wrote it in my journal. It gave me personal clarification but why conceal it? Do businesses hide their mission statements? I pondered this for some time then decided I would start to share my vision with others by declaring it on a collage poster to display in my home.
I bought a sheet of card and began to search magazines for pictures which reflected what my heart delights in.

I found pictures of ......

homes - a country kitchen for home cooking and hospitality
gardens - brimming with organic produce
children - playing outside, exploring nature
food - health and happiness
books - the Bible, our handbook for life, children's classics to read aloud,
creativity - in learning, arts and crafts, sewing, gift giving
Christmas - my favourite time of the year.

After sorting through the pictures and choosing those I loved the most, I arranged them and rearranged them several times and then glued them into place.
In the centre of my poster is a picture of a table, beautifully set for an alfresco lunch. The meal is a plate piled with salad, luscious leaves and colourful, crisp vegetables. It looks so appetising, healthy, fresh from the garden - the type of food I want to feed my family. In the background is a garden full of produce, rows of vegetables companion planted with flowers. It speaks to me of abundance, health, fruitfulness and God's provision.
They say a picture can speak a thousand words, it can also spark vision and this is what I wrote

'Living off our land .... having an abundance of healthy, organic produce from beautiful gardens to nourish our family and share with our friends' and 'We will eat to live on wholefoods, fruits and vegetables, God's gifts to us. We want to be full of health, vitality and energy to be able to serve His purposes, today and in the future.'

Above, a glimspe of our Family Vision Poster

I found a picture of children playing in a stream, in the background a white house in a forest - it spoke to me of raising beautiful children in a beautiful place and gave me the theme for this blog! I added one of my favourite Bible verses from Psalm 144 verse 12

'Then our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace'.

I copied out our vision statement for our children

'We will raise outstanding children who reflect the character of Christ, with a love of life, passion for people and wholehearted desire for learning.'

I then asked each child to write out or dictate their vision - what did they believe God wanted them to do with the life they had been given? What were their dreams, hopes, aspirations? This was an exercise in encouragement for the heart of a mother, each child had a different dream, one was an entrepreneur, another a skilled homemaker, gardener and baker, another wanted to travel to Asia, another wanted to be a famous tennis player which explains why there is a picture of Roger Federer on the family vision poster!

As well as outlining the vision for our family, I wanted to express our desire to serve others and share the dream we have to see the family restored, of Christian families living lives 'worthy of the calling', drawing others to Christ, strengthening churches and communities and building nations.
Those who visit our home (and now this blog!) can read our vision statement and people do! I know the girl who laminated the poster for me at the printing shop did! It tells others what we stand for, what drives us, what inspires us and what we believe God stands for, after all, family was His idea and it began in a garden home called Eden... a place of delight!

In future posts, I'll tell you more about our family, why we believe that Christians should be the healthiest people on the planet, why we are planting food gardens, reducing our dependency on the supermarket and simplifying our lives, oh and so much more! For now I will leave you with some questions to ponder.
1. Do you have a vision for your family? For yourself?
2. Have you ever written it down?
3. Have you shared your vision with others?
4. Have you ever considered publishing or displaying your family vision in a creative format for others to see/read - posters, prints, journals, web blogs?
I'd love to hear ideas of how other families are sharing their vision and inspiring others.

With love and joy,

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Finding Eden

'God gave men all earth to love
But since their hearts are small
Ordained for each, one spot should prove
Beloved over all'

- Rudyard Kipling

'Potential Paradise'
This was the 'real estate talk' that advertised our property for sale, with the emphasis on the potential rather than the paradise. I do believe it was meant for us and that God had kept it for us, knowing it would be a place He could entrust to us, it was simply a beautiful place where we could raise the beautiful children that He had given us.
The property had sat on the market for over a year. I suppose those who had viewed it before we did saw the work. The weeds were rampant, lantana covered every clearing, rubbish was piled around, rusty corrugated iron tanks, mountains of plastic and partially buried beer and whiskey bottles.
The house also needed work, lots of work but we saw the potential and we saw the paradise, the sheer beauty of the forest with its magnificent trees, the views through the trees to farmland on the other side of the valley.
And there were many other saving graces. Around the house, gardens planted with flowering native and exotic shrubs, camellias, citrus trees, palms, cycads and a splendid grass tree.
The exterior of the house was white and I just love white houses. I gasped when I saw the Himalayan cedar and the Kashmiri cypress, it's graceful green fronds cascading like a waterfall. The trees reminded me of my love of Christmas and I began to envision how I could use the abundant greenery in my home at Christmas time as I love to decorate with natural materials. In some way the house reminded me of a Swiss chalet without the snow.
Inside, the house had rustic exposed beams painted a sage green
which complemented the colours of the garden outside the window. The kitchen and dining area were filled with light, the floors were tiled and there was a new country-style timber kitchen. There were also bookshelves on one wall, ceiling to floor (we have lots of books!) and plenty of room for our large square dining table.
The other rooms were less appealing, the bathroom cramped and poorly located off the dining room. The bedrooms were dark and dreary. The window and door frames were mismatched, there was no laundry but this did not deter us, we could change that one day.
What mattered most was that we loved the place. My husband saw the forest and it reminded him of his childhood, my children saw the trees to climb, places to build forts and play. I saw a home to beautify and a garden to tend.
We knew the location was perfect, ten minutes drive from town (a simply gorgeous country town) ten minutes from the nearest beach, close to the river. There were no other houses overlooking the property, our closest neighbours were cows grazing in the field that adjoined our forest. It was peaceful, secluded and yet not isolated. Our neighbours on this, one of the most scenic roads in the district were the loveliest, most hospitable people (we were yet to meet them of course.)
We had found our sanctuary, our place of delight, our eight acres of eden.

With love and joy,

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Welcome to eightacresofeden

Welcome to Eight Acres of Eden.

I'm Ann, a stay at home wife and mother of six children. We are raising our beautiful children in a beautiful place. Our home is in a forest setting and we share our eight acres of eden with koalas, wallabies, echidnas, frogs, birds, lizards and snakes!
Eden means a place of 'delight' and I find much to delight in, here in the natural surroundings of my forest home. I also delight in my role as a wife and mother. I would love to share with you stories of this very special place, to tell you about the things that bring me so much joy. Loving my family, beautifying my home, tending my garden, teaching my children, expressing my creativity, looking after my neighbours, offering hospitality.
I pray that you will be blessed by your visits here, that this may be a place of refreshing, somewhere to be inspired, that indeed, your soul will find delight in eight acres of eden.
With love and joy,


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