Friday, May 27, 2016

scenes : in pink and red

And so the week ends, with streams of afternoon sun turning little cheeks all red and rosy. Poet returned to dance classes this week - jazz and ballet this year - and I'm amazed what a difference six months make. She remembered everything she learned in class on Wednesday afternoon and has been dancing since (much to the dismay of elderly folk at the shops today). Spritely is one way to describe her movements, hence she's not one to walk obediently beside the pram as we weave in and out of shoppers. It can get tense.

This weekend is a little weighed down with work but there's the possibility of an early Saturday night movie at home, plenty of time reading (this!) in a light-filled loungeroom and perhaps a bit of chicken soup (after tonight's roast) to keep the bugs at bay (because every second person is down with a cold, it seems). I'll also be preparing Che for his first overnight camp trip with school. He's never stayed with anyone but grandparents before and I'm quietly fretting. It feels like a parenthood milestone except its one I'm not too keen to tick off the list.

/ her favourite dress from @sweetjanepetite and they're currently giving away a gift voucher to spend on the autumn/winter collection

/ ballet outfit complete with a pink wrap cardigan that mama knitted and a pretty minouche tutu

/ it's been a while since we've had rain but on Thursday morning we played outside as it sprinkled. 

Have a lovely one, friends. 


Thursday, May 26, 2016

meet Sadie, she's our smart dog

This is a sponsored post.

My brother and I always yearned for a dog when we were growing up. But a suburban block, inadequate fences and a flock of chooks placed that dream in the too-hard basket. Now that I'm a parent, I understand where my mum and dad were coming from. A dog is a huge responsibility and their plates were already full. 

We may not have had a pup to call our own but we did have two adoptive dogs. That's what we called them, anyway. Not that they ever stayed long and we were in no way responsible for them but a few times each week Max and Sam, a black and gold labrador, would wander (or waddle, as old labradors do) up from their home two streets away and perch themselves on our front deck. Of course, the allure of sausages and chops was their greatest incentive, but I'm pretty sure they enjoyed the company, too. 

Regardless of their docile nature and begging-for-love eyes, Max and Sam were the only dogs that I've adored. It's safe to say that I'm not a dog person. In fact, it takes a pretty special dog to warrant my attention or my affection. In the same breath, I appreciate that a dog is an asset to family life. A fluffy companion is a sight to behold and yet beyond the cute-factor is work and responsibility - for everyone in the family, not just the parents. 

Daniel and I often talk about getting a dog but it's not a leap we'll make till we own our own home and have enough space. We talk about preferred breeds, training programs, making memories and, to be practical, the financial cost of a beloved hound. 


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

with three kids, life lessons abound

I have many conversation about what it's like to have three children. In fact, it's quite strange how often I've found myself chatting about family dynamics since Percy was born.

When you have one or two kids the conversation doesn't last for nearly as long. But throw in a third and you've got conversation fodder for a good few years. There's a sense of intrigue and mystery from those not yet ready to take the plunge and they lean in, furrow their brow, waiting for all the answers. "What's it really like?" they say, hanging off your every word. People looking on are desperate to know more and fellow mums-of-three want to talk to someone who understands...someone who really understands.

That may sound dramatic but I've had those conversations - many times. And I'm not afraid to admit that not that long ago, I was the one asking all the questions, seeking all the advice, wanting so badly for it to sound achievable. But until I fell pregnant it just seemed daunting.

When I wrote this post last year someone left a comment on facebook that basically dismissed my thoughts altogether. It was something along the lines of: "...her baby isn't moving yet, she knows nothing." I'm sure a little of the newborn haze was still hanging around because I laughed off her comment and got on with my day. But then Percy started moving and I thought about that woman and knew exactly what she was talking about.

The past few months have been an immense period of adjustment as I literally juggle (and I'm not that coordinated) life and work with three children in tow. Throw a house hunt and a house move in and it was, at times, a little messy. But amidst the chaos there have been life long lessons learned. And they haven't all been mine.

You see, when you have a third child your hands are literally full. And when your hands are full you have no choice but to surrender control and let others help you out. Older siblings must step up - there's no two ways about it. And so while you feed your third baby, change his nappy or spoon porridge into his mouth, your older children have to find their clothes from the washing basket, they must butter their toast and they learn to pack their school bag on their own. For every moment that I'm busy elsewhere and with every chore they undertake, they discover their abilities and come to know just how capable they are. 

And therein lies the unexpected lessons that come with the third child. I've had to let go of many of my ideals but in doing so, Che and Poet are gaining skills that they'll have for life. They know exactly what it means to wait, to share and to go without, they know how to wash the dishes, water the plants and get dressed for the day. They also know the goodness of sloppy baby kisses on the lips, the joy of first steps and the contentment that comes from guiding, nurturing and loving a younger sibling. 

Apparently three is the most stressful number of kids to have and in a way, I'd agree. My third pregnancy, birth and "first year with baby" required me to dig deep - physically, mentally, emotionally. Without reverting to cliches or gush, mothering three children has forced me to be more honest - there's no time or space for fanfare or facade. Somedays I can't quite fathom the madness or the mess. Sometimes I feel like a human teatowel. When Daniel remarked that someone at his work calls him Mr Smart/Casual, I told him that I'd probably be called Miss Avocado Smear. But then I marvel at how far we've come - all of us.

Last week Poet was sorting through a stack of affirmation cards at a friend's studio. She brought me one of them because the woman painted on the front bore a striking resemblance to me. On the back it said:

Embrace your confusion, let there be peace in not knowing all the answers.

And therein lies the perfect description of my day-to-day life with three children; peace is learning as we go, even if I can't answer all their questions. 


Monday, May 23, 2016

I'll do that later

So, it seems I've figured out the difference between people like myself and those sparkling Type-A personalities who seem to have everything done all of the time (regardless of whether or not it is an online fallacy created with filters).

They don't leave it till later.

Lightbulb moment. 

At my very core I'm a bit of a dreamer who easily gets overwhelmed when my to-do list grows quicker than I can read it. On a day when Percy is at my feet, the dishes need to be done, I've got a story due, lunch to make, a phone interview scheduled and washing that needs to be brought in, I can safely say that nothing gets done efficiently or effectively. And the general mess that occurs in the wake of a toddler or the school children that arrive home hungry and tired? Add it to the list.

But adding it to the list is just not practical because the list is only going to get bigger (I let go of the ideal of getting to the bottom of the list many years ago). 

The efficient among us don't walk over a toy and think: "I'll put that away later". They pick it up, put it in the basket, keep walking. 

This methodical approach to cleaning a house does not come naturally to me. Not at all, not in the slightest. Which means one thing: it must be a learned behaviour.

On Saturday morning (after I got home from yoga), we spent some time sorting, tidying and cleaning. It was a family affair complete with music, whinging, distraction and gentle reminders to stay on task. Regardless of the slow pace and the coffee breaks, we did get a lot done which left the rest of the weekend free.

But what was glaringly obvious was Daniel's efficiency and my tendency to wander off task. Or start a task and promptly move onto the next. Or clean a surface and rearrange the books and then light a candle.

Gah! I so easily find myself in a muddle.

So, I've been conscious of mentally repeating exactly what I'm doing to ensure I get it done before I move onto the next.

"I am clearing the table, I am washing the dishes, I am folding the clothes."

Gentle reminders, mindful work, karma yoga.

And perhaps it's karma yoga that is the very essence of keeping a house while mothering small children. Karma yoga is about setting aside time to do the work and walking away when the time is up, not necessarily when the task is done. It's realistic for my life right now which is, well, brimming.

Cleaning in the moment is one thing, setting aside time to clean (even if it doesn't get finished) is another. Writing about it is procrastination at its finest.


Sunday, May 22, 2016


"A portrait of my youngest children, once a week, every week, in 2016."

Poet: she's a giggler and a nose scruncher. Here she is laughing at Percy who was looking out from the loungeroom window (ISO250, f1.6, 1/500)

Percy: little darling. I could (and do) kiss his little cheeks at every opportunity (ISO500, f1.8, 1/500)


Friday, May 20, 2016

photography : in light and shadow

Our last house was all light and very little shadow. The front room was originally a sunroom so sash windows made their way across the entire frontage and halfway down both sides. No matter how grey the day was, it was always bright and white and, thanks to the fine linen curtains, easy to control.

Our new house has glorious big windows but they definitely don't stretch as far and wide as our previous abode. I never thought I'd say this but getting to know a new home is, for me, very much about getting to know the light. On the first morning that we woke up here I was boiling the kettle only to look outside and see the sun streaming through the fence and the plants; all dappled and bright - beautiful bokeh. It made my day! Over the past few weeks I've noticed how the clear autumn light makes its way from the side to the front of the house thanks to a desirable north-facing aspect, bright and vivid and, at times, creating bold shadows.

Habit can hinder your creativity and it definitely did mine since we moved. I was struggling to capture the same airy and light mood in my photos - impossible because the light is so very different. Once I let go of those expectations I rekindled my love of moody shadow, apt considering the season, too.

My photos are always reflective of my home; it's here that I spend most of my days - mothering, homemaking, working. Creative lessons have been profound these past few weeks and I've learned that regardless of where I live or where I travel to, it's best to capture the light as it is and not how I want it to be.


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

quilted love

I have fond memories of my childhood bed; the cocoon of flannelette sheets and the weighty warmth of hospital-style waffle blankets. My mum would religiously make me a hot water bottle in the winter and I'd wrap my sock-clad feet around it, wishing its warmth to return come the early hours.

I want to create the same cosiness and warmth for my own children so when Poet was born I decided that I'd buy her a custom-made quilt for her first Christmas. I wanted to mark the occasion with a bespoke gift made with love; something she would find comfort in from babyhood to her teenage years. That's a lot of expectation for a collage of fabric scraps, isn't it?

Four years on I can confidently say that it was one of the best gifts I have ever bought her. We have spent many hours looking at all the pictures on the fabric and tracing our fingers over the stitching, it's provided that much-needed extra layer on cold nights and perhaps, most importantly, it has been the ultimate comfort blanket when sniffles and fevers have taken hold.

I knew before Percy was born that a quilt would be the perfect first birthday gift so late last year I contacted Kathryn from Maggie & Sparrow and sent her my preferred colour palette which, if I'm honest, was a little up in the air. I'm terrible at making decisions when it comes to big projects (I'd be hopeless if we were ever to design and build our own house) so I mentioned something about sea-inspired colours - sage, blue, navy, teal, sand - and I also asked for some earthy tones - mustard, rust, ochre. The result is everything I didn't know I wanted which proves that Kathryn is both a mind reader and an expert quilter.

And then I realised that Che didn't have a quilt and he was well past his first birthday. And so we made it a special "just because" gift and he and I talked about colours and patterns and pictures. He asked for navy and yellow, some stars and stripes. I sent Kathryn an off-cut from a teepee fabric I bough years ago from Melissa Wastney as well as the fabric envelopes from a recent Fictional Objects sheet purchase. The quilt arrived last week, wrapped in brown paper and aptly tied with string. It is bold and grand, perfect for my avid reader who likes to cuddle up with a novel on a daily basis. And so right for this time in his life as he ventures from childhood into the tween years. 

It may be far-fetched but if ever there was a fire, I'd grab these quilts if I had the chance. There is a part of me that envisions them on teenage beds and perhaps on the armchair when the kids have left the nest. And perhaps, just perhaps, they'll be treasured long enough so that they can be wrapped across newborns of the next generation. My hopes may be high but they're valid, I think.

You can see some of Kathryn's most recent quilts on instagram


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