Tuesday, June 28, 2011

dragonfly toys + giveaway

When I started blogging, back when Che was a little bubba, I loved visiting The Story Hour - the blog of a Newcastle mum with three boys. It was one of those blogs that was beautiful for its simplicity and honesty - a peek into the world of gumboots, bugs and school paintings. A few recipes here and there and glimpses of a much-loved family home. I was a little sad when its creator, Tracie, decided to stop blogging. The Story Hour may have been small but it was definitely memorable.

Tracie emailed me last week with news that she has recently, with her friend Linda, become the proud owner of online store Dragonfly Toys. Dragonfly offers a plethora of magical children's and baby products - sourced from ethical companies across Australia and over the oceans. Inspired by a handmade, mama-made, Steiner philosophy, it offers parents a beautiful alternative to the plastic mayhem so readily available in department stores.

Tracie and Linda were keen to promote Dragonfly Toys here, in this space, and as thanks are offering one of my readers a Baby Patchwork Quilt and a pair of the cutest little Tibetan koko booties, both from Kokonor, a brand the women created. All the products in the range are handmade by Tibetan refugees living in the Indian Himalaya.

For your chance to win simple leave a comment on this post. For two entries, you can become a new follower or blog about the giveaway in your blog space. Plus, if you 'like' Dragonfly Toys on facebook and mention you came from Che & Fidel, you will also go in the running to win a Story CD.

I'll close the comments next Wednesday the 6th July.

Tracie and Linda kindly agreed to be interviewed for this post, a glimpse into the lives of two inspiring creatives. Read on to learn a little more about their families and Dragonfly Toys.

Jodi: You are both mothers. How many children do you have?

L: I have 3 children - Nyima and Yeshi (11 and 7) are my gorgeous big boys, and then we have Pema, our lovely little girl who will soon be 3.

T: I also have three children- all boys, Arki (8), Jude (6) and the youngest is Ezra (3). It’s nice that we have children of similar ages; we understand each other’s commitments and our need to have balance between work and home life.

Jodi: Your children are educated at Steiner schools. What do you love about the Steiner way of life?

L: I love so many aspects of my children's school it is hard to list them all.... you really have to spend time there to understand it - but some of the standouts for me are - the incredible passion that every teacher has for their role as teacher and the genuine love they have for their students.... I love that my children get to be with their primary teacher for a full seven years.... I love the strong community there - that every year the entire school from Kindergarten to year 10 all go on one huge big winter camp together for one night and the big year ten children are there alongside the tiny kindy's helping carry bags, set up tents etc...

T: I love it all..I’m so happy dropping them off there in the morning. The school is aesthetically beautiful but it’s not just that...there is a spirit about the place. The school is a beautiful community and I am so confident that their days will be filled with joy. I teach at the school casually and seeing how the days flow and watching the children be completely engaged in whatever activity they are doing makes me completely confident in our decision to send them there. I love how innocent the children are; how full of song. I love that I often have to tell my 8 year old at bedtime “Ok Arki...you can finish knitting that row then lights out”.

Jodi: What inspired you to purchase Dragonfly Toys?

L: Dragonfly Toys began for me around 4 years ago when I purchased a tiny little business from a friend... Caitlin was selling a small selection of Steiner art and craft materials through an organic shop in our local area. I had been collecting ideas for a business like this for years - so when Caitlin said she was planning on closing down and having another baby, I offered to buy Dragonfly from her.

My original inspiration came from finding that there were so few places in Australia that you could find all these beautiful toys - so starting something online seemed an obvious solution.

T: I have only recently joined Linda with Dragonfly. I have been friend with Linda for a few years, having met her at the school’s market. It was an important meeting for me..it was Linda who inspired me to look into Steiner education, she was so confident and down to earth about it all. I was thrilled when she asked me to join her as a partner as I have always loved what she did and enjoyed working for her. It seemed like a great way for Dragonfly to build...having the energy and enthusiasm of the two of us. After teaching in public high schools for the past ten years going to our office for the day is such a blessing.

Jodi: What is your criteria when selecting products for the website?

L: They need to be unique - I never want to sell anything that you can find in your average local chain of toy shops.

They must be made under fair work conditions - this certainly stops us from stocking a lot of things that we know people would like to buy, but we want our customers to know that they can trust our choices and that we are always putting ethics above sales.

They need to be beautiful or wonderful in some way... things that we truly love ourselves.

Jodi: What do you love about owning an online store?

L: The fact that it fits in with family life.... I have never had to miss a single school picnic or performance.. things take care of themselves even when you are off hanging washing on the line, cooking dinner or reading a bedtime story. When Pema was a baby I used to love that even though it was 10am and I was lying in the bath with her for half an hour, the shop was open and customers were still shopping..

T: I love the flexibility of it all as well...I’m still home most of the week with Ezra and if I get called into work at the school I can go. Linda and I can swap days when we need to, leave early, do work from home at night; it’s perfect.

Jodi: What are your dreams for Dragonfly Toys?

At the moment we are planning to put a lot of energy into Kokonor, our little tailoring workshop in India. We employ 7 women there full-time, all of whom are Tibetan refugees living in exile in the northern mountains of India. We would love create the majority of what we sell ourselves, and the idea of being able to bring all of our ideas to life, while providing ethical jobs for women is such perfect combination. So I would love to see that part of Dragonfly continue to grow - eventually allowing us to travel to India with our families each year and creating employment for more women in India and eventually in Tibet...

Comments now closed. Random Number Generator picked #17 - Madeline. Congratulations! xxx

Monday, June 27, 2011


Apparently the excitement of an imminent birth is tiring for little people. Especially the soon-to-be big brother who is being oh so kind, caring and cuddly with his muma. Last night in the soft glow of his bedside lamp he fell asleep under the pages of his book while waiting for me to snuggle with him. Precious.

His Montessori mind is well and truly challenging my intellect at the moment - not hard for my brain is literally deep in hormonal, hazy, baby land. When I'm driving in the car or when we're in bed together he'll say things like:

"Mum, let's talk about pipes."
"Mum, let's talk about planets."
"Mum, let's talk about bones."

And always, without doubt, the question arises:

"Is baby coming soon?"

To which I reply:

"Yes Che Che, baby will be here very soon."

Friday, June 24, 2011

bump: time flies

Last week I noticed that my cheekbones have disappeared beneath the softness of late pregnancy. I'm welcoming the desire to stay close to home, avoid crowds, steer clear of questions from strangers. I think every woman craves anonymity at the end of pregnancy - it's tiring to discuss, over and over and over again, how many weeks to go, the possible sex of the baby, the 'due' date. "I don't do dates," I say. And then I turn and leave.

I have most definitely reached that stage where I'm starting to internalise; cutting off the outside world in preparation for the transition of birth. Going about daily tasks with the slowness of a woman who can feel, day by day, a head nudging down into her pelvis.

Incredibly low iron levels have encouraged me to take it easy, spend a little more time preparing iron-rich foods and upping my herbal tonics. If my iron levels don't increase I may not be able to birth at the low-risk birthing centre I had intended to. Which is ok. I'm not attached to a certain place or time or date. My baby will be born when it wants to - wherever I am. I'm just ready to surrender to the journey, wherever it takes me. Trusting in the knowledge that all will be well in the end.

37 weeks. Not counting.

Monday, June 20, 2011

baobag + a giveaway

"As you journey to take your place among the lineage of women as mother, we encourage you to 'mother' yourself.
As you do so we join with you in celebration of the healing power of nature both within and all around you."

I've discussed here so many times before my desire to use natural and organic products in my home and for my family. When Sonia Walker, co-founder of Baobag contacted me about her business, I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to share it with you.

In Australia, when a woman births in a hospital or birth centre, she is usually given a 'bounty bag' - a collection of pamphlets and samples of products to take home. I received one with Che and can't recall using any of the products supplied - they all contained far too may chemicals for my liking.

But the Baobag is different. A beautifully designed calico bag that can be used to carry nappies, a change of clothes, toiletries etc, it is brimming with products from some of Australia's leading natural and organic companies including Jurlique, WotNot, Blackmores, Eco Store, Madame Flavour and Cushie Tushies. Over 70,000 new mums in Australia will be given a Baobag by their obstetrician, birth centre or yoga studio each year; an introduction to the world of organic and natural products for baby and the home.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Sonia, a passionate and considerate woman (and mother) about the Baobag and her desire to see Australian families embrace a more natural way of living. She has also given me a Baobag to give away to one of you. Simply leave a comment on this post and I will draw a winner on Friday afternoon. Read on for an inspiring look into the life of Sonia Walker and Baobag.

Jodi: What inspired you to create the Baobag?
Sonia: I grew up in outback Australia, and although I ended up in the corporate world and living in the big smoke, I have always been inspired by and drawn energy from nature.

After the birth of my kids in my early 30s, I started a bit of a personal investigation into ways for us to live a more natural and less toxic life. I was shocked when I discovered that the average woman applies 126 different chemicals to her face, body and hair via 12 different products before leaving the house each morning!

The more I learned, the more I decided to start going through our home to see how we could make changes to minimise our exposure to these potentially harmful chemicals. When chatting to my girlfriends, I realised I wasn’t alone in my concerns and started thinking about ways to help women make the shift to a more natural way of being and living, while still enjoying the things they love in everyday life. I know that during pregnancy, so many women start giving some serious thought to what they’re putting onto and into their bodies – so I wanted to find a way to help them through this process.

A glass of wine and a brainstorming session with a girlfriend lead to the idea of the BaoBag – and 18 months later, we now reach over 70,000 new Mums per annum nationwide!

Jodi: Where does the name come from?
Sonia: It's inspired by the mighty baobab trees that are indigenous to northern Australia and Africa (also known as the 'Boab' in Australia). They are renowned for their generous, abundant, and healing properties, providing life-giving shelter, water, food and medicine in the harshest of environments. Traditional Aboriginal women also bury their newborn child's placenta in the bowels of the tree to symbolise the child growing mighty and strong. They're the most amazing trees!

Jodi: How does your lifestyle and your ideals affect the way you run your company?
Sonia: They are one and the same. The company was inspired by the lifestyle and ideals we were pursuing in our own lives. Obviously I am no Robinson Crusoe in wanting to provide a healthy lifestyle for my family that minimises exposure to potentially harmful chemicals, and as I researched the options for us to adopt in our own lives I realised that there was a real gap here.

There are plenty of beautiful natural and organic products and services out there, but it can be hard to identify them amongst all the other products on the shelf. A new Mum is particularly receptive to reassessing her choice of product, but she is also particularly time poor and simply doesn't have time to go to 3 different shops and try out 3 different brands! There needed to be a vehicle that made it easy for busy Mums to find these alternatives, and research and try them out for themselves in the comfort of their own home.

Jodi: How important are organic skin products for mum & bub?
Sonia: There are two really good reasons to go organic.

The first is the imperative to minimise exposure to potentially harmful chemicals. There is enough evidence out there now to be really concerned about the prolonged use of many commonly used synthetic chemicals and ingredients, with consequences ranging from skin irritations, to respiratory ailments, to disrupted hormonal development and even to cancer. Why risk it when there are wonderful natural alternatives available, based on ingredients used throughout the history of mankind, and that are proven to be effective and safe?

The second reason is less scary and far more enjoyable. It is simply that organic = best quality ingredients. If you've ever slept on organic cotton sheets followed by non-organic you'll understand the difference. The same with taking a bite out of an organic apple versus non organic. The quality of the product is so superior. It is exactly the same with skincare ingredients - you're getting the highest quality ingredients at their freshest and most powerful. Once you've converted you don't go back.

Jodi: What's in the bag?
Sonia: The BaoBag is designed to be presented as a gift for Mum’s enjoyment, with useful items contained within, (as opposed to just another bag full of advertising and reading material).
The products represented are usually within the following categories:

Natural & organic skincare and consumable items for Mums and Bubs. In this category the aim is to avoid known or contentious ‘nasties’ such as Sulfates, PEGs, Parabens and Mineral Oils, where there are safer alternatives available. We use Bill Statham’s “The Chemical Maze” as a reference point to identify these ingredients. We hope to eventually include products for Dad in this category as well; it is just a matter of finding some good products that are effective and a provider who is willing to invest in this category.

This is very much a category of pampering and may also include items such as a tea or chocolate that is sourced ethically and contains no artificial ingredients.

  • Health Foods / Supplements - This category would include pregnancy specific supplements from a respected provider. From time to time we would also include an organic baby food range so that Mums can be aware that there are some wonderful alternatives to commercial baby food available for when their little one is ready to go on to solids.
  • Non toxic products & services for the home - This area is of particular concern considering the many harmful chemicals in most household cleaning products and the fact that babies spend so much time on the floor and putting things in their mouths. There are many plant based alternatives out there that are effective, much less irritating on sensitive skin, and far less toxic.
  • Nursery items - In this category we promote items such as ethically produced designer modern cloth nappies which offer a far more environmentally sound alternative to the disposables that are piling up in landfills across the planet. We also include eco friendly disposable nappies and all natural wipes. Other great items include sleeping bags and clothing items made out of natural fibres such as bamboo and merino wool. These fibres are known for their superior breathe-ability properties (in comparison to their synthetic counterparts), and as such for their effectiveness in helping to regulate body temperature.
Jodi: What is your criteria when selecting brands for the Baobag?
Sonia: Everything in the bag has to be something of value. They are not always pregnancy related - we remember Mum is still her own person and requires nourishment of her own body and spirits as well. The manufacturers and service providers we partner with all share a commitment towards using as natural and organic ingredients as possible and utilising sustainable and eco-friendly manufacturing processes. In addition they earn their place in the BaoBag because they are relevant, beautiful and useful.

Jodi: How does it make you feel, knowing that you are giving a new mum, one that you have never met, such a beautiful and nourishing product?
Sonia: Becoming a new Mum is such a life-changing stage, and I feel humbled and privileged to be able to contribute in some small way to such a powerful time of life for so many Mums around Australia. I remember my own journey of trying to find the best natural products for myself and my family and it was very time consuming! I’m thrilled to be able to make this process a bit easier for Mums-to-Be through the BaoBag.

At the end of the day though, it's really not about me. It's the wonderful product partners we work with who have generously provided quality samples at their own expense, so that we are able to provide a true free gift with no strings attached. BaoBag acts as a connection between these fantastic natural products and Aussie Mums looking to make a positive impact on the health of themselves, their baby and the planet. Everybody wins!

Jodi: No doubt Baobag will grow...but what are your greatest dreams for it?
Sonia: My dream is to inspire households around the whole of Australia to detoxify their lives one step at a time. I believe this is entirely achievable if we make it easy and enjoyable for them to do so. If we can pull that off, then we could collectively raise a whole generation of toxic free kids and leave them with a healthier planet while we're at it. Now we're talking about making a real difference!

UPDATE: Comments now closed. Winner of the baobag is cityhippyfarmgirl.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

remember this photo...

"Next to letterbox number 33 on my wet wintry street. The branches of the cherry blossom are growing moss like bundles."

Daniel has entered it in the Air New Zealand Winter Pix for Tix competition. Basically, if we get enough votes, we'll be flying to snow-laden New Zealand for a winter holiday. Daniel will be up and down the mountain, I'll be sipping hot chocolate from the warm lodge - because on skis I do a pretty good interpretation of Bambi on ice.

Please don't feel obliged but if you are on facebook, you can visit here and click the "Vote For It" button. Thank You!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

bump: blue

So the sun came out for about two minutes today. As soon as we saw a patch of blue sky we grabbed jackets and cameras and headed to the shore where the blue wall made for perfect bump shots. Whoa this bump and this baby - heavy, big and oh so round. 36 weeks. I'm guessing I've got about four weeks to go but I know all too well that babies come when they're ready. I could birth in two weeks. Or six. I'm not too attached to a date or a week and I'll try my hardest to stay that way.

It was so nice to bask in the sunshine this afternoon, to feel rays on my face and my belly. Che, like every child around these parts, is suffering from extreme cabin fever, so he was grateful for digging, collecting and splashing.

Before long the clouds crept in and hung low and we came home. Right now there's chicken noodle soup simmering away. We're all a bit sleepy - salt air sleepy. The good kind.

Thanks so much to Katja from Eco Bohemia who sent me my gorgeous raw silk scarf, seen in these pics.

Monday, June 13, 2011

film: a few moments

Daniel has discovered his passion and his art. Twenty minutes of filming, a couple of hours editing and here we have a beautiful peek into the lives of friends...a memento, a keepsake, a reminder of a normal day when their son was small and cheeky.

A glimpse into daily life is so wonderfully intriguing. And really, it's what you want to remember as a parent, don't you think? While birthdays are special and holidays are memory making, it's the days spent at home, in the space where we live, eat, grow and learn that make us who we are. That fuse us as family.

Once again it is the simplicity of normal life that is true beauty. It's that normality that we want to remember. And express gratitude for.

I'm so proud of my filmmaker man...for pursuing his dream. For creating such beauty.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Four years ago on the Queen's birthday long weekend our seaside suburb was lashed by torrential rain and the wildest of winds. Daniel and I had just moved into this house, I was six months pregnant with Che and we didn't own a heater. Not that the heater would have made much difference because we were without power for three days. I remember sitting on the couch, watching the fifty-year-old gums sway and bend, wishing I could make myself a big bowl of pasta.

This weekend hasn't been quite so bad. We still have power, we have the warmth of a heater and a well-stocked fridge and pantry. But the rain has been persistent, keeping us indoors and rugged up. Our street is the perfect representation of our winter; wet, mossy, gradually becoming more bare. And I wish I could venture out into it, but the thought of getting soaked and coming home with muddy shoes (if I owned a pair of Hunters it would be a different story) isn't so appealing.

So while the wind howls and the clouds loom I'll watch from the window and hope that soon the sun will return.

Ps. Hello to new readers who have ventured here from far and wide...it's lovely to meet you.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


The last few days have been icy and our abode is just a little bit cold. Our big king size bed is warm though and so utterly tempting on wildly windy days. Che always seems to end up in there, a pile of books by his side, the perfect excuse for its unkempt state.

It's almost the weekend and I'm planning on making soup, baking quiche, drinking tea (and hot chocolate) and wandering aimlessly from one project to another. I do like an aimless wander every now and then. I hope, wherever you are, that you stay cosy and warm.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

bump: sweet in the morning

Five weeks to go and I'm noticing little rituals forming in my day - a cup of tea in the morning sun just one of them. The ledge for the tea cup is handy too. Baby is still dancing in my belly, stretching it's legs and arching its back - the sure sign of a yogi or, perhaps, a ballerina. Braxton hicks have stepped up a notch this week, encouraging me to be in the moment and reminding me to breathe deep. I'm still teaching classes, still writing articles. But soon, work will slow down and I'll just 'be' for those last few weeks. Slowly yet purposefully preparing, feathering and waiting for baby's arrival. On the full moon, perhaps.

if you're a winner...

You can do a little dance. The nine winners of the eco nino giveaway are:

Rachel from Tea with Lucy
Leanne from Homemade Rainbows
Joanne from Three and a View
Sarah from Ramblings
Emily from The Beetle Shack
Jessica from Poppy and Ted
Sarah from Simple Sunshine
Matt & Ella from Live, Love, Leach
Claire from One Claire Day

Congratulations lovely ones. Please email your details to jodiclairewilson @ yahoo (dot) com (dot) au

And special thanks once again to Kylie, clever creator of eco nino change mat covers x

Sunday, June 5, 2011


  • a new dress that fits now and will be perfect for breastfeeding (always a fashion dilemma). On sale too.
  • morning sun, bed hair, weetbix with warm milk
  • windowsill installation
  • fragrant, delicate, pretty bunch
  • vintage jewellery and natural moisturiser.
the snippets that i noticed on a busy, busy weekend.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I have twenty teeth

I'll admit that I was suffering from motherguilt because I had never taken Che to the dentist. Motherguilt has incredible power; it makes me ponder my choices, it keeps me on my toes. Sometimes it makes me really organised, organised enough to make an appointment with the dentist and keep it. Daniel and I had been talking about the dentist with Che quite regularly - how important it is to get check-ups to ensure your teeth stay strong and healthy. His one question was: "After we go to the dentist, can we get ice-cream?" Our response: "Ice-cream goes against everything the dentist stands for."

I was a little apprehensive and envisioned a writhing, unhappy three-year-old clenching his teeth together. The book in the reception area helped - the story of a young boy who opens his mouth wide so the dentist can count all his teeth! As soon as Che hopped on that mechanical chair his mouth was open - he was eager and waiting. I was pleasantly in awe. He has twenty teeth, thinks the cleaning paste is 'yucky' and only had trouble keeping his mouth open when he was giggling so hard the dentist has to take the utensils out of his mouth.

I squeezed a check-up in straight after - still no fillings! But...I was asked, politely, if I tend to clench my teeth sometimes. "It's just that there's a bit of wear on the front teeth," she explained to me. I was lying there, thinking about all those times where as a mum I get so frustrated that I clench - and hard. "Yes," I admitted. "I do...and how bad is that - for my teeth and my parenting." Oh motherguilt, you're still there, even after the dentist.