29/52 {cousin love and cardboard creations}

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Mummalove_29-4nicholas: Oh how you love her, your other ‘blondie’. Of course, you love all your cousins in different ways, but you’ll excitedly pick her face out from a big family photo to show me and your face lights up whenever she walks in the door. The kids were so filthy after drawing with chalk on the trampoline, but you all had extra twinkles in your eyes after being together for the afternoon. We were so delighted she came to visit. 

Mummalove_29-3charlie: Our delivery of food from the co-op was gratefully received and items put away in the new pantry, and it didn’t take long for you to turn one of the boxes into a robot. Each part was carefully considered and drawn and cut out, with Daddy’s help. After talking about it at school, you informed me that your teacher said you “must” take it in to show everyone, so we lugged that box in to show all the kids. I love your creations.

Joining in the 52 Project at Practising Simplicity ~ a portrait of my youngest boys every week in 2015.

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28/52 {more than meets the eye}

As the primary carers, we see so many aspects of our children’s personalities – sometimes all in a matter of minutes. There are highs and lows, extroverted and introverted moments. We see them at their best and at their worst.

During the week, the song “Hold My Hand” came on over the speaker at home and I saw Charlie’s hips began to wiggle. Pretty soon there was a full dance routine being performed in the kitchen. This child, full of spark and imagination, is often rendered mute when we arrive in unfamiliar social settings and yet can talk under water when he’s at home. There is so much more to my middle child than meets the eye.

There is so much more to all of us than meets the eye.

But how often do we make a judgement call about someone – about the child you see having a tantrum in the shopping centre, or the parent raising her voice – without knowing the whole picture, the whole person?

As a parent of three very remarkable humans, I hope they are each given the chance to shine. I hope the people they encounter remember that everyone has good moments and bad moments, that there is more to them than just almond shaped eyes or an inability to speak in public or being loud in inappropriate moments.

I hope they see the beauty I see.

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nicholas: That golden glow on your glowing face, as you waved us goodbye and headed off to find some mischief. “Wait for mum,” I instructed, only to be told “No” (your favourite word at the moment, but said in such a ridiculously cute way that I can’t help but smile) as you gave your signature wave and started walking away. Later, you were mesmerised by the big boys lighting the campfire, resting your head on the chair as you watched them. And those little toes. Oh my.

Mummalove_28-3 Mummalove_29-1charlie: You have recently decided that buttered muffins or crumpets, accompanied by your daily vitamin,s are the only acceptable items on the breakfast menu. I wonder what the next breakfast phase will be. You love snuggling into your Daddy for stories, but I did giggle hearing Daddy reading a Minecraft instruction manual, your book of choice, in soothing tones. 

Joining in the 52 Project at Practising Simplicity ~ a portrait of my youngest boys every week in 2015.

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27/52 {winter holidays with Gram}

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Being at the beach in winter reminds me of my Grandma, who we affectionately called ‘Gram.’

My Dad’s mother came to stay with our family when her husband died and, at the time, my parents had four children under seven years old. It was a short term arrangement until Gram was ready to go back to her own home again. But she never did return to her own home. She lived with us and our big chaotic family until she died at home just before my 18th birthday, 26 years after she’d first moved in. Oh how we loved her.

Living with nine people under a relatively small roof must have been an exercise in patience for Gram some days. Around the middle of the year, Gram would go and have a holiday at her little beach house on Bribie Island. No doubt she deserved a couple of weeks of peace and serenity. Trouble is, I found it difficult to let her go, so I’d convince Mum and Gram to let me accompany her for a week.

I loved my holidays with Gram at Bribie. We would sit quietly and do crosswords, or go and visit Mrs Brown next door for a cup of tea. A trip to the local shops for supplies always meant stopping by the little island gift store to see what treasures I could purchase with my pocket money. (When my eldest sister and her fiancee became engaged, I bought Jen a pair of plastic ‘ruby’ earrings and Neil received a jumbo Bribie Island pencil. There were quality treasures in this store ;) 

Gram and I took long walks along the beach, breathing in the sea air and finding shells, soldier crabs and other gems on our journey. When our dog, Mindy, was allowed off the leash, she would race madly up and down the beach, and around in circles, relishing in the new found freedom. It was too cold for swimming, but a trip to the beach was never wasted.

Now, if I’m on the beach at winter time, breathing in that chilly sea breeze, I can’t help but think of my Gram and our cherished time alone together.

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nicholas: On this holiday, you have demonstrated a very particular love of tennis. When we arrived at our friends’ party and had to walk through the tennis court to access the gathering, you had no interest in going any further. You had found a racquet and a ball and you were happy. There were also daily trips to the tennis courts when we stayed at the farm. Do we have a tennis pro in our midst?

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charlie: You had such a great time at the party, rugged up in your flanno and beanie and indulging in the delicious lumberjack themed cupcakes. I laughed at how many times you and Nicholas dragged me into the photo booth, picking out the headdress we should wear in the photos. 

Joining in the 52 Project at Practising Simplicity ~ a portrait of my youngest boys every week in 2015.

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In our neck of the woods {our three favourite family-friendly things to do to wind down in South East Queensland}

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With our fast-paced lifestyle, trying to juggle the demands of a young family, a business and everything in between, it has become so important for us to regularly take time out and reconnect as a family. We’re happy to leave adventurous holidays to the adventurers and take our little family to spots where we can switch off, slow down, breathe and choose serenity, whether it be for a few hours or a few days.

As part of the Kidspot Voices of 2015, I’ve been invited to share three of our favourite family-friendly things to do in our neck of the woods. So, without further ado, we’ll share our little secrets with you ~ here is the Love-family-approved list of our favourite holiday escapes in South East Queensland.

1. Have a picnic beside a rocky creek bed at Cedar Creek

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After a busy working week, there’s nothing nicer than escaping along the road less travelled and enjoying some time out. Have a free day in the calendar? Leave the screens behind, pack up a picnic and your family and take a day trip to one of the remote rocky creek beds not far from Samford.

Point your car towards the beautiful Samford Village. Drop into Ironbark Superfoods for some deliciously healthy treats or maybe grab some parent-fuel in the form of takeaway coffees from The Flying Nun or the spunky Ya Ya Bar while the kids run off some energy at the playground, just off Main Street. If you have time, the Urban Dweller is a must-visit for beautiful gifts, homewares and inspiration, but Samford Village is a treasure trove of little shops to explore.

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When you’re ready for your next destination, drive along Mount Samson Road and turn left onto Cedar Creek Road. Approximately four kilometres along on the left, you will discover Andy Williams Park and a world of serenity. While it might be a little chilly for swimming during Winter, the creek bed is a picturesque spot for climbing and exploring in, or perhaps just sit back, relax and observe the wildlife. You never know what you might find out when you chat to a kookaburra. Bring a change of clothes, just in case the weather lures you to have dip in the rockpools. Perhaps your children will even let you be still, soak in some sunshine and read the paper for a minute or three while they play ;)

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2. Make sandcastles at Moffat Beach

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Packing up a young family for a holiday stay can be rather arduous (read: totally painful), but when you arrive at the coast and take in a deep breath of sea air and sink your feet into the sand? Oh, so totally worth it.

In Queensland, we are lucky enough to have a pretty balmy climate so, although it’s a little chillier than usual, we can still hit the beach in Winter. One of our favourite beach spots is Moffat Beach at Caloundra, on the Sunshine coast of Queensland, about an hour north of Brisbane. Moffat is one of Queensland’s many magnificent beaches, and perhaps one of Caloundra’s quieter spots, so perfect for this crowd-avoiding family.

Complete with rock pools to discover at lower tides, Moffat is a great spot for kid-explorations and, when the waves get a little too ferocious for the little ones, there is a creek area a short walk away where they can wade in the calm water. Our big boys love to do a spot of fishing in the creek (one day we even hooked a crab!) and, in summer, they can ride their boogie boards down the creek with the tide. Without the big crowds, it feels like our own little slice of paradise.

DSC_8134DSC_8201When everyone has had enough of the sand, there are two playgrounds, barbecues and a big grassy areas just beside the beach. A strip of delightful cafes and little shops nearby will help keep mum and dad sustained (we love our daily coffees from Pocket Espresso, and Blackwater Trading Co. does a fabulous breakfast). If you need any grocery supplies, a convenience store and bakery are only a ten minute walk away.

Moffat Beach would certainly be perfect for a daytrip to the beach, as it’s not very far from Brisbane, but we generally stay at The Norfolks at Moffat Beach. The accommodation is great for our family, with access to a heated pool, enough room for all of us to co-exist comfortably, living area away from the bedrooms, elevator access to higher levels (handy for prams), kitchen for self-catering, beautiful views and close to all the main things a family with young children needs on holiday (did we mention coffee?). In fact, we often don’t use our car during our stay – which is our definition of a true holiday! For those who feel like more activity, there’s a nice walk with glorious views along the coastline around to Kings Beach.

DSC_8080   DSC_8088While Ben and I aren’t convinced that holidaying with small children is ever very relaxing, our holidays at Moffat Beach do come close, which is why we keep going back year after year. It’s a great location for families with younger children, because the beach, playgrounds, big grassy patches and coffee for sleep-deprived parents are all available within walking distance, but there’s plenty to keep the older children busy too. And, if you’re looking for a few more activities, Caloundra has lots on offer within a short drive.

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3. Feed farm animals and toast marshmallows at Maleny

DSC_8310We do love being able to hang out at the beach during Winter, but there’s nothing quite like rugging up and toasting marshmallows by a campfire in the chilly months. For the past few years, we have been visiting Solothurn Rural Resort each winter for a farmstay weekend. It’s in Reesville, which is very close to the township of Maleny, and just over an hour north of Brisbane.

DSC_8374 DSC_8271A day on the farm officially begins at 7.30am with milking the cow and feeding animals on the farm with the farm’s delightful hosts Farmer Richard and Farmer Anna, often ably assisted by one of their children and accompanied by the farm dogs. All the visiting children are offered the opportunity to try milking the cow, then we walk around the farm to feed goats, pigs, chickens, sheep, ducks and even emus! Sometimes the chickens are kind enough to offer up eggs for the kids to take home to cook for breakfast (just don’t let your child carry it in their beanie like ours did, and end up with scrambled egg ala beanie!). At 10am, we all load onto the tractor for the daily 45-minute ride around the farm to feed the cows. On school holidays, they run an extra tractor ride so no one misses out.

For the remainder of the day, there is plenty to do to fill in time in the country air. For tennis fans (like Nicholas!), a tennis court, racquets and balls are available, or you can have a soccer match on a big grassy field. Charlie likes to hang out in the cubby house with million dollar views, but if that doesn’t tickle your fancy, there is a set of swings, a games room with billiards and table tennis, and even an indoor pool (but not in winter… brrrr). The children are welcome to run about and explore, and they can visit the animal enclosures at any time throughout the day, as long as they promise not to chase the chickens.

DSC_8325 DSC_8292There is an amazing golden light that glows over the property in the afternoon, so we like to soak in some rays while sipping on a glass of wine and enjoying some cheese and crackers. The boys love helping Ben setup the campfire outside the cabin, as well as the fireplace inside the loungeroom to keep us toasty overnight.

The accommodation at Solothurn is basic, but clean and comfortable, and there is a simple kitchen and necessary utensils available in the self-contained cabins. We tend to either bring along some pre-frozen dinners, such as bolognaise, or make simple meals while we’re here. There is a barbecue available, but it’s a fair distance from the cabins we tend to stay in, especially in winter.

DSC_8217If you need marshmallow supplies or just want a change of scenery, the township of Maleny is only a ten-minute drive away from the farm. There is a plethora of beautiful little shops to explore along the main street, and places to sit for coffee or a meal. Pick up groceries at the well-stocked and friendly IGA, stop by Colin James and try their amazing gelato, or soak in that bookstore atmosphere at Rosetta Books. There is even a playground for the kids to enjoy and run off some energy.

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We have loved watching Charlie and Sam, at 5 and 7 years old, be more independent during their stay at Solothurn this year, wandering off to explore and chat to the other kids staying at the farm. It has been slightly trickier with an ever-more-mobile, but fiercely independent Nicholas who needs significant supervision, but it’s always heart warming to see his leaps in development in new environments. This week has been a great opportunity to switch off the screens, reconnect as a family over board games and doing actual dishes together, and soak in some serenity. The views from the farm are simply breathtaking and there is a level of quiet (well, aside from the noisy kids) that just can’t be reached living in the city.

Going away with a young family always takes a mammoth effort. When considering the task of packing up a mountain of gear, preparing for every eventuality, managing kids and their different sleep patterns in a new location, and then tackling all the loads of washing on our return, we sometimes wonder whether it’s more effort than it’s worth. But the truth is that taking time away with our little family to breathe, reconnect and create childhood memories is so worth it. It’s worth it to watch the fun had between brothers, to see them face challenges and learn new things about themselves and each other. We don’t need to go far to achieve it, but it’s so important to schedule in those mini breaks, for the sake of our sanity and our family relationships.

What are your favourite spots to visit in your neck of the woods?

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Making the list: Kidspot Voices of 2015

Some days, the Universe knows just when to send a sign. While I have dreams and thoughts and inspirations about this little blog, between children and routines and a family business and sleep (and did I mention the children?), some days those dreams feel oh so far away.

So the Universe sent me a little sign to encourage me to keep sharing my voice with the world.

I made it to a list.

Hey! I made it to a list!

On 13 June, leading parenting website Kidspot announced the 100 finalists in the ‘Voices of 2015’ program for Australian online creatives and I am very honoured to share that my voice has been included in the top 100, within the Parenting & Style category. While I excitedly shared this announcement all over social media at the time, I thought it high time I shared it here on the blog.

What is Kidspot Voices of 2015? Well, this is how they sum it up on the Kidspot website:

“Voices of 2015 is Kidspot’s celebration of Australian online creativity. Sponsored by Ford, Voices highlights the best online talent, whether they’re publishing on a blog, YouTube, Pinterest, Facebook or Instagram. The program shares Australia’s best writers, photographers and video makers, publishing their work on site and giving them a chance to be in the running for fantastic awards and the usual amazing prizes at our Voices of 2015 Gala Event later in the year.”

Being part of this prestigious list feels pretty amazing in and of itself, but to discover that this humble little Mummalove blog has been chosen from over 3000 nominations, it feels nothing less than surreal. Honestly, I’m still pinching myself. But I am going to accept it graciously and just say a humungous thankyou to whoever nominated me. In response to a lovely friend saying that she hopes I win overall, I responded “Who needs to win? I made it to a list!”

So, you’ll notice that I am now proudly displaying a Kidspot ‘finalist’ badge over there on the right of this page. What else does being a Kidspot Voices of 2015 blog mean? As a Top 100 finalist, some exciting opportunities may present themselves to challenge me as a writer and a blogger over the next six months. If I accept any blogging assignments offered by Kidspot, it may mean that I cover some topics on here that I may not have touched on before (hey, it’s sponsored by Ford… if they’re handing out free cars, I won’t be objecting ;). Rest assured, though, I am also committed to remaining true to my own voice – I’m not going to be sharing things I don’t believe in just because I now appear on a list. I am definitely ready for this blog to step up, though – to rise to the challenge and share my voice more on this platform (and I’m hoping some changes on the homefront will make that happen a little more easily soon).

Thank YOU for being here and reading and sharing in this little heartspace of mine. Thank you for helping me make it to a list and being part of the next evolution of Mummalove.

26/52 {a little hi}

I’m just stopping by for a little hi. Turns out that sea breezes, boys who like to stay up late on holidays, and lack of internet access all make for tricky blogging ;) More in store for you this week, though, I promise x
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nicholas: So much joy, especially when being tickled and ‘raspberried’ by your big brother. You’re loving having ready access to all your cousins while we’re on holidays with everyone. You are loved and doted on by your posse of girl cousins, but you love hanging out with the boys too, especially Sawyer and Charlie. Just don’t expect Mum to get you to bed early on nights where she’s trying to get you all to sleep in the same room – if there’s a party going on, you’re amongst it.

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charlie: A rainy holiday day led to a much anticipated school-holiday-Mummy-and-Charlie-only outing where you were able to pick out a toy to play with. The ‘Transformers’ you chose have barely left your side since that moment, and you and your cousin spent many hours over the big family holiday playing together with them. Turns out you even do Transformer impressions. So many talents ;) 

Joining in the 52 Project at Practising Simplicity ~ a portrait of my youngest boys every week in 2015.

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25/52 {bittersweet}

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As a busy week approaches, it’s easy to focus on the hustle and chaos and feel overwhelmed before it even begins. But there is so much good ahead. And sometimes we need to experience the craziness to appreciate the serenity, we need to fumble around in the darkness to appreciate the light.

So we will endure a week of packing boxes and rearranging furniture before the next phase of our house renovations begin, knowing that (hopefully) soon we’ll be cooking in a new kitchen.

We will feel the sadness of saying farewell to Ben’s Grandma, but appreciate the opportunity to hear wonderful stories of her life and spend time with family and friends who we don’t regularly see.

We will keep busy washing clothes and filling suitcases, knowing that soon we’ll be sharing a holiday with my whole tribe at the beach.

We will try to be patient with crazy, overtired boys who are very ready for school holidays, knowing that soon they will be able to run wild with cousins, breathe in country air and enjoy lack of routines for a couple of weeks.

I will aim to breathe and make manageable lists knowing that, in the grand scheme of life, the kind of busy that involves planning for renovations and family holidays is probably the nicest kind of busy to be living through.

PS. Chocolate cupcakes were from a packet-mix, so no fabulous Thermomix recipes to share. Free from gluten and dairy but not even remotely sugar free.

Mummalove 52-25-1-3nicholas: You loved helping me bake some cupcakes for Sam’s birthday afternoon tea with Grandma and Grandad. It occurred to me that I normally cook while you’re having a nap, and I usually use the Thermomix, so it was a fun and messy session with a bowl, spoon and measuring cups. It was obviously so foreign to be baking something sweet with me that you weren’t even remotely interested in licking the bowl ;) 

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charlie: You were quite happy to taste test a cupcake for me and couldn’t quite wait for Grandma and Grandad to arrive for afternoon tea, you were so hungry (as usual). Only a week to go until you’re on holidays, my darling. I know you are very ready for a break. I’m so proud of how far you’ve come in your first semester of school.

Joining in the 52 Project at Practising Simplicity ~ a portrait of my youngest boys every week in 2015.

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