Saturday, 12 July 2014

these are the days

The laughter, the chaos, the trails of toys. The crumbs, grubby faces and sticky, jam coated fingers. The endless laundry and the tiny baby clothes hanging out on the line.

The great days and the darker days with tear stained cheeks. The mistakes and the promise of a fresh start with every new morning.

The midnight feeds, the whispers and warm embraces soothing bad dreams away. The dimpled elbows and unruly ringlets. The blanket forts where dreams are shared and mighty adventures planned. Puddle jumping, rock pool hunting, well-worn books and fairy tales.

And the love, mostly the love. The fierce, unending, gut-wrenching love at the heart of it all. These are the days I will remember at eighty two. And smile at life so vivid and tumbling, joyous and whole.

Monday, 7 July 2014

the happy mundane #5

I briefly considered naming this gratitude list 'The Birthday Edition' or 'The Flu edition' or 'The School Holidays Edition'. All of which are relevant seeing as in the past week I've celebrated my 31st birthday which coincided with the first day of the two week winter school holidays and then got sick a couple of days afterwards with a nasty cold/flu which I still can't shake off. I decided against each of these as the one thing that actually stands out amidst all of it is friendship.
Friends that are more like family, since (with the exception of my sister) my actual family is many oceans away. Friends that hand over their no-longer needed baby items and clothes without a second thought. Friends that invite us all to their home to share their food and conversation. Friends that send parcels from the other side of the world containing the most thoughtful gifts. Friends that let me bring loads of laundry over and put it in their drier for me whilst ours is broken. Friends that hold my baby so I can eat a meal. Friends that come to visit and bring a freshly baked cake to share with us. And this is only the tip of the iceberg. You all know who you are if you are reading and I don't know where I would be without you.
Here are a few other things that have kept me smiling from underneath my mountain of tissues and helped distract from the most hideous of hacking coughs (sorry to everyone who has been subject to how annoying this cough is. But believe me, it's annoying me more).
1 // Slow mornings and a generally more relaxed pace of life now we are not chained to the ring of the school bell twice a day for two glorious weeks.
2 // Having my big girl around all day. She's become such a help to me these past few months and  has stepped up to her role as big sister to two with such grace and acceptance it has really taken me aback. She is what makes it possible for me to take a shower of a morning and feed and tend to the chickens at dusk.
3 // Hitting the jewellery jackpot with a beautiful bracelet bearing a tag inscribed with each of my girls names, sent to me by one of my oldest and dearest friends from home and a dainty gold bar necklace hand stamped with the letters L & R & P on a fine chain from Curt.
4 // A birthday high tea celebration with (most of) my main ladies. What a treat to be able to have a conversation blissfully uninterrupted by our offspring whilst indulging in a full spread of sweet and savoury treats.
5 // My one birthday request for the day itself (not having to cook dinner or do any washing up) was fulfilled thanks to Curt picking up pizza for us all then rounded off nicely by a delicious chocolate cheesecake and then cosying up for the evening to finally watch The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
5 // A garden bench and two huge pots offered up to us for free by our neighbours, which serendipitously completed our new outdoor deck area like it was meant to be.
6 // Hearing Lila reading stories to Rose. She can read now, actually read, and I am so proud of her. It all seemed to fall into place for her during the past month or so and she now picks up and fluently reads any of the books from their shelf or the library box. She is unstoppable.

7 // Taking care of our friends sweet bunnies whilst they were out of town for a couple of days. These gorgeous little creatures stole our hearts completely and I now have two children hell bent on us acquiring our own fluffy friends to add to the family. 
Photos....Warm toes and cups of tea...a thank you in the form of a cinnamon teacake which we devoured in minutes...the very cute Jonathan and Rosie...birthday bracelet...our newly completed deck area.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

the happy mundane #4

This was one of those weeks where the living room carpet had a few crumbs on it on Monday which I kept meaning to vacuum but then never had enough minutes in the day. Then by Friday the carpet was nowhere to be seen and it was just a vast sea of crumbs, flakes of Weetbix (always baffling as the children are banned from eating it anywhere except the table) and small sequins in the shape of leaves- part of the aftermath of Rose dumping the contents of the craft box all over the floor. At least when I finally got it done late on Friday afternoon the sense of relief was palpable. A clean area underfoot could be enjoyed by everyone for all of the ten minutes it took for the crumbs to start building up again. Such is life with children. You have to laugh about it or you'd go completely batty.

Despite the less than ideal house cleanliness situation, I did manage to get a good home cooked meal on the table every night and vaguely keep on top of the laundry so I'm calling that a win. I soon realised when we went from a family of four to five that if laundry doesn't get done every day then things get out of hand very fast. Drowning in it probably sums it up best. So, after that vastly uninspiring introduction to my weekly gratitude list, here are some hopefully slightly more interesting moments and little goings on that serve to give me a kick up the rear end and make me realise that all things considered, it's pretty darn great to be alive and breathing and living this messy, imperfect but pretty awesome life.

Here goes...

1 // The early evening Winter ritual of making the house cosy and getting ready to hunker down for the night as the sun goes down by closing all the blinds and curtains, lighting a candle, and turning on the heating if it's a cold one.

2 // Our glorious freshly painted newly white walls. Happily they turned out just as wonderful as I has been picturing them since the day we first viewed the house. So fresh, so clean, so light. So much better than magnolia. Now just the bedrooms, bathroom and laundry room to go, though it may take another year to get around to that. We shall see.

3 // A lovely two days spent with my sister and her little clan at their gorgeous home. Time with my family makes my soul sing like nothing else. Also, the fact that all of my little ones slept for the entire two hour evening drive both ways, whilst I got to have a chill and listen to some tunes. Practically a holiday in itself really.

4 // My Mason Pearson hairbrush. An early birthday present from my sister, who knew this had been on my fantasy purchase wish-list for a very long time. Nothing like a good old fashioned, quality hairbrush to make you feel like a real grown-up. I've been spending a happy five minutes every night before bed brushing out my hair, during which I think it would be rude not to imagine oneself as a grand lady in her manor house sitting at her dressing table in an elegant nightgown, patiently counting out her requisite one hundred nightly brushstrokes. Or maybe that's just me and my continued love affair with Downton Abbey.

5 // A few hours in the evenings to hang out with the husband and take some time for myself (and ignore the crumb ridden carpet) now we seem to have got Pearl in a nightly routine of going to bed at the same time as her big sisters.

6 // The bath I managed to have this week (thanks to the above), with a hefty dose of epsom salts and a few drops of lavender oil. This has been long and eagerly awaited, as has the glass of red wine I enjoyed in it now I know I have a few hours grace before Pearl wakes in the early hours for her next feed.

7 // The paved path in our garden that now leads to the shed (and the person that created it). Thank goodness I married a man who knows his way around a tool box and doesn't mind getting his hands dirty. Whilst I am great at having the grand visions and coming up with crazy schemes, he is the one that makes them happen and for this I am eternally grateful.

Photos.... hello new path... this weeks colourful and abundant veggie box delivery... white walls and kitchen shelves... my king of hairbrushes... happy tiny girl at seven weeks old.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

the happy mundane #3

I couldn't decide if this gratitude list should be last weeks (very late to air) or this weeks (slightly ahead of schedule) so it is by default, both. Some weeks just get so hectic that finding a moment to sit down uninterrupted at the computer or pick up the camera and document life with a few shots is just not on the agenda. It doesn't of course mean that there has been nothing to be thankful for. Rather the opposite, as after getting my head around the big disappointment mentioned in the last list and returning to my full-time, now-mother-of-three duties, life has been full and rolling along relatively smoothly. With the odd speed bump of course; like the few days that the baby has declined to have anything more than twenty minute cat naps during the day. Those are then balanced by the times she has a three hour afternoon sleep (in her Moses basket no less!), allowing me to operate with two free hands and bask in a feeling of great achievement after managing to cram as many tasks as humanely possible into this window of time.

Without further ado, here's some more of the little things I've been grateful for this past couple of weeks...

1 // A still-warm-from-the-oven chocolate cake delivered to us by our incredibly generous neighbours at the weekend.

2 // Expanding on the above (because it really deserves it's own number), living on such a great street with such kind and caring neighbours. Some of the sweet things they have done for us lately include delivering unexpected new baby and birthday gifts for our girls, sharing produce from their gardens and giving us clippings from their plants, entertaining Lila and Rose for a few hours while we get things done...and the list goes on.

3 // A trip to Aldi, where I happily discovered it was 'British Week'. Hello packet of chocolate Hob Nobs and HP sauce.

4 // Catch ups and cups of tea with a best friend (also mama to a new babe), with good advice and words of wisdom. Even though it's the third time I've done this baby thing I still feel like I'm winging it half the time.

5 // Planning to take the children for a weekend away visit to my sisters place tomorrow for some cousin time and to grab the chance to see her before she leaves on her month long visit back to the UK.

6 // Curt agreeing to make a start on painting the interior walls of our house white whilst we are away. Finally! No more disgusting magnolia. I am so incredibly happy about this.

7 // Daily lunches of avo and spinach on toast with seeds and crumbled feta sprinkled on top, finished with a squeeze of lime juice. Courtesy of a big, $5 dollar bag of avocados.

8 // Freshly laid eggs every day, gathered by my little helper Rose. She is exceedingly proud of being entrusted with her own two special daily tasks of this and collecting the post from our mail box.

9 // A husband who has been making a big effort to be home at 6pm every night instead of 7pm so he can help me out with the crazy hour of baths and bedtimes and the baby juggle.

10 // First smiles by Pearl. Nothing beats the magic of those first few big beaming grins. I'm trying not to take it too much to heart that last night she didn't want to share them with me during her bath and chose only to bestow them on the taps and flannel hanging off them.

11 // My biggest girls reading progress. Curt has taken over her nightly reading practice since our new arrival so when I got the chance to read with her the other night I was literally speechless when she picked up a fairly wordy library book she hadn't seen before, with a good few sentences on every page and read it to me with minimal hesitation and errors. I'm so proud of her.

12 // Tackling some pantry organisation. The top shelf is now looking very aesthetically pleasing with its rows of little glass jars that I've been collecting forever for this purpose. The rest of it however is an absolute shambles but I'm working on it.

Photos...Eggs from our feathered friends Daisy and Evelyn...favourite lunch...pretty pantry shelf.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

the happy mundane #2


This week hasn't been without its (rather large) disappointments. Although this is intended to be a list of small day-to-day happy things, it would be a glaring omission not to mention that the trip I had booked to take our girls visit my family in England is sadly not going to happen at the end of June as planned. This is due to an unfortunate situation with the British Passport Office experiencing a huge backlog in processing passport applications from overseas since they decided to shut down all of their offices abroad at the start of the year, meaning that Pearl's passport will not be with us now for a minimum of eight weeks, possibly a lot longer. My sister and niece will thankfully still go at this time, so at least my parents will get to see one of their beloved grandchildren.

We've been weighing up our options and have decided to push back the flight dates several months to be sure the passport will arrive in time. So all being well we hope to be flying back to the UK as a family at the start of December, to stay for one month. I'm so happy that Curt will be able to join us now and we can spend Christmas with my family. I've been dreaming of taking our children home for a big family winter Christmas ever since we left in 2010. Christmas in Summer just never feels right to me and I can't wait. Every cloud as they say...

So during this rather intense week full of ups and downs, here are some things that have kept me smiling:

1 // A green and lush garden due to the mild weather and showers of this season, bringing life to the dry and brown earth scorched by the summer sun. My Valentines gift from Curt, a fuchsia tree, is thriving and it lifts my spirits just looking through the windows and seeing its beautiful pink and white flowers dancing in the breeze.

2 // A new addition to my collection of hanging planters adorning the back porch. Reduced to $10 at the garden centre, it is actually supposed to be a birdhouse but nothing beats a bit of repurposing.

3 // Tiny toes and baby thighs that are showing signs of starting to get irresistibly chubby.

4 // Afternoon energy boosts in the form of slices of apple smeared with peanut butter and green smoothies and juices.

5 // A beautiful package that arrived from my Auntie, a talented artist in the UK, with a sketch of Pearl drawn from a photograph taken when she was a few days old and little cloth bags each for Lila and Rose which she had sewn from vintage Rupert Bear fabric. Handmade gifts are so precious.

6 //  Family board game nights are in our future now that my sister gifted Lila Junior Monopoly for her birthday. This has appealed to her fiercely competitive nature like nothing else and she begs Curt and I to play every time we stand still for more than two minutes. I forgot how much fun a good game of Monopoly can be.

7 // Managing to use up the odd bits of produce from our weekly vegetable box delivery that usually languish at the bottom of the fridge whilst I ponder what to do with them, then eventually give up and feed them to the chickens. This weeks success story was red cabbage braised with grated apple and balsamic vinegar.

After four weeks of working from home to help me out with the school run and settling into life as a family of five, Curt is heading back into work tomorrow to resume business as usual. I've been so thankful for my month of leisurely morning starts and staying in bed with Pearl until 8am but now it's time to take a full step back into the real world. Wish me luck.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

the happy mundane #1

For some time now I've had all the best intentions of starting a gratitude journal and jotting down a few things to be thankful for on a regular basis. Aside from being a boost to overall wellbeing, I figure that embracing this mentality can only help keep my spirits high on those odd crappy days that inevitably roll around every now and then when domestic matters and child rearing get a whole lot more of a chore than a pleasure and that little feeling of discontent threatens to creep in, followed hot on the heels by the niggling question of " this it?'

A pen and a notebook with its pristine pages still untouched have sat waiting patiently on my bedside table to be used for this very purpose for about a year now. It's probably safe to say at this point that approach is clearly not going to work for me so instead I thought I'd try making a little happy list here at the end of every week (or as often as I can manage!) For the past several months this has been a place I've come to write when I've felt inspired and particularly strongly about a topic or wanted to share something poignant but I like the idea of also recording the small pleasures and moments in our everyday routines that often go unnoticed. After all, it's the little moments of joy- and the ability to stop and recognise them, just as much as the big celebratory events and milestones which cumulatively make a life a happy one. So in the name of gratitude and thankfulness, here are some things that have put a smile on my face this week

1 // Sharing a mid-afternoon treat with Rose when she wakes up from her nap- a mug of hot cocoa with added vanilla and cinnamon and a pinch of brown sugar, with a biscuit or two for dunking and some stories.

2 // My new English Garden candle filling the house with the scent of lavender and cedarwood is getting me excited about our upcoming trip to the UK and afternoons spent in my parents beautiful garden.

3 // Re-reading some of my old, eternally favourite novels during quiet hours spent on the sofa feeding Pearl, including Little Women and its sequel Good Wives by Louisa May Alcott. I've been lured back to them by a slightly lazy desire for familiar, reliable pleasures. Plus I've yet to find any literary family as comic as the eccentric Radletts and the force of nature that is Uncle Matthew in Nancy Mitford's The Pursuit of Love.

4 // Making batches of homemade granola with oats, almonds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds and coconut flakes mixed with olive oil and maple syrup before baking. So good with a bowl of natural yoghurt, chopped fresh fruit and honey. I like it for breakfast, or lunch or a snack (or all of the above), this would explain why it doesn't hang around for long before it's gone.

5 // Managing to pull off throwing two birthday parties in two weekends for my two biggest girls, both held at home and at insanely short notice. It was worth the effort to see how happy it made them, and a good reminder that kids don't need a lot have a great time. If there is a game of pass the parcel, the chance to run around outside and play with bubbles and a cake involved then it's hard to go wrong.

6 // Beautiful mild Autumn days that beg for brisk walks and are chilly enough for a scarf but bright enough to need sunglasses. Being able to still hang the laundry outside is a bonus as I always seem to shrink the childrens clothes when I have to use the drier.

7 // Having the mother of one of Lila's school friends comment that our house was 'homely and cosy' as soon as she walked in for the first time. This is the best home related compliment she could ever have given me and made me more happy than is probably normal. Hopefully she didn't actually glance too closely at any of the surfaces to see the layer of dust settling there.

8 // Seeing how much love Lila and Rose have for their baby sister already and they way their eyes light up when I carry her through into the kitchen every morning (they then proceed to smother her with kisses, strokes and demands to hold her). This little girl is going to be so well cared for.

Photos...Hot cocoa and stories with Rose...Homemade granola in the making...Pearl enjoying a sunny spot...Still small enough to sleep in Daddy's hand...The party table before the carnage...Front porch hang outs...Birthday cake excitement...Enjoying her party morning tea...Our homely home :)

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

dear pearl

My Pearl Clementine. Just when I thought my heart was already full to the brim, I am blown away once more by the fierceness with which I fall head over heels all over again. Twelve days after you arrived in the world, and I can't imagine our lives without you here. Though my attention will always be divided three ways now, I am more aware than ever just how precious every second of your fleeting newborn days is.

I never want to forget the warmth of your tiny body curled up on my chest, secure and content as you feel my heart beating against yours. Sitting on the cosy spot at the end of the sofa watching the sun go down through the big windows and the dusk turn to twilight while you feed nonstop during the early evening hours. The way that you are so small that for the moment you will only sleep at night lying beside me nestled safely in the crook of my arm. Your soft perfectly shaped head with your miniature ears and thoughtful eyes. The firm grip of your fingers holding onto my own so tightly. Washing the bed linen can wait. I have a whole lifetime ahead of me to do laundry but tomorrow you grow bigger before my eyes and when autumn turns to winter again you will be running around with your sisters. Leaving me watching in awe, proud and slightly in shock that your babyhood days have ended so soon. A bittersweet feeling of excitement for your future and all that is yet to come tinged with sorrow that I will likely not cradle another baby of my own in my arms.

So we take the days slowly for now, doing as little as we can whilst still keeping the household just about functioning. This is exactly where I want to be, watching, holding and getting to know you and enjoying being together. Venturing out here and there to fill our lungs with fresh air and show you glimpses of the world. Your big sisters cannot be kept from your side and every chance they get you are passed between their eager sets of arms, being sung to or rocked enthusiastically if not always gently in your swinging chair. Know that you are so loved by all of us. I still can't believe you're actually here, but every day the sun shines that little bit brighter now you are with us.

Love always, your Mama xxx

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