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52-29-5What I have learned this week…

Leg hugs are the best.

Next school holidays, I should pace myself. I may have thought I was keeping us all busy for the sake of my sanity, because apparently it would be easier to be out and about, with everyone occupied, than it would be at home. But I think I just burnt myself out in the process. Lesson learned.

When tragedies happen in the world, it makes travelling family members feel so much further away. Thankfully, it’s been confirmed that mine are safe, but I know hundreds of families have not been so lucky. My thoughts are with all who are grieving over yet another airline disaster right now.

“Life will get less busy when Event X is over” appears to be a futile statement. Another Event X will inevitably appear on the horizon before long. Life is just busy. I may as well work out how to create a calmer existence in general, so that we’re better prepared in those extra busy times.

And probably a million other things. The internal dialogue is rarely quiet.

What did you learn this week?

52-29-4nicholas: The boys were back at school and kindy this week, so we finally had a chance to hang out together by ourselves. You love being outside on the trampoline, so that’s usually first on your agenda. You have made me giggle so many times this week. My favourite was you telling the big kids to “stop!” (repeatedly, complete with hand gestures and loud ranting in between) as they ran down the road ahead of us. Lucky we have you to keep those ragamuffins under control ;)

52-29-1charlie: Newly shorn and looking contemplative as you play with your friend in the cubby and explain the ways of the world to her. Oh, I love listening to four year old conversations. You fluctuate between quiet and shy, and chatty and theatrical, depending on the mood and audience.

52-29-6sam: “Mum, can you make a mohawk in my hair?” On investigation, it appears the reasoning behind it was just because your hair is long enough to make into a mohawk these days. And, sometimes buddy, ‘just because you can’ is a good enough reason – especially when it comes to those locks growing back.

Joining in the 52 Project at Practising Simplicity ~ a portrait of each of my boys every week in 2014.

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SuperSam turns Six

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I have had a blog post about Sam’s coming of age sitting in draft since Sam turned four. And five came and went, amidst the busy-ness of life and me going away to a conference days after his birthday. So, with no further ado, I will aim to publish something before he turns seven…

As of 14 June, our firstborn is officially a big six year old. Six years since this gorgeous boy came into the world, offering himself up as a guinea pig to his first-timer parents. Six years since I went four days overdue and wondered whether this baby would ever arrive. Six years since he turned our world upside down in the best possible way and made us a Mum and Dad.

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Love birthdays are generally pretty low key. It’s how we roll. But, after the year this kid has had, turning six seemed like a good enough reason to celebrate on a slightly larger scale.

On the Friday afternoon before his birthday, we invited Sam’s whole Prep class and their siblings for a play and afternoon tea at a local park. Always slightly stress-inducing to invite 40 children and their parents anywhere, but it was a lovely, relaxed afternoon. As ‘SuperSam is turning Six’, we decided on an S theme and many of the kids came dressed in an outfit starting with S. And what did Sam, decked out in a Superman outfit, want for his cake? A boomerang, of course ;) So I did my usual trick of making a cake with love and not talent and whipped up a boomerang. There are only a few blurry iPhone pictures of the very-non-Pinterest-worthy party, but rest assured the birthday boy had a blast.

Waking up on the real birthday morning, Sam was very excited to open his much-campaigned-for gift of a Skylander Swapforce game and then go with Dad to pick up a pre-loved Wii console donated by a lovely friend. It was a beautiful rainy Saturday, perfect weather for two brothers to work out how to play a new computer game.

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Later that afternoon, the Festival of Sam continued and our extended family came over for cake on our verandah. With our boys having sixteen cousins, family affairs are never particularly small, but we love celebrating with our big, noisy family – and it’s especially fitting for our very-social Sam.

It’s difficult to sum up our eldest son in a paragraph, or even a whole blog post. How do I put into words someone who takes up so much of my heart, how do my words do justice to this incredible gift we have been given.52-24-5

As a snapshot of Sam at six years old, he is the king of collecting random, small items, and would buy new toys every day of the week if he could. He’s currently not at all concerned about the environmental impact of plastic. He is a social butterfly and starts most days asking who we’re seeing and where we’re going (and, if no plans, can we make them?). While he can be the most divine big brother to Nicholas, he relentlessly pursues the title of Master Antagoniser to Charlie (and, yet, they have beautiful moments together too). He loves to craft, has a soft spot for glitter and neon coloured nailpolish, and embraces new fads with wild abandon. Upon hearing a song somewhere, he will ask for the track to be downloaded on my iPhone and play it regularly, often on repeat. He is equally happy running around madly and playing soccer with the boys, or hanging out with the girls, writing and drawing. He loves soft cheeses and will independently prepare platters of nibbles for our afternoon family sessions in the backyard. He is the first to notice when I’ve had a haircut, the first to tell me I look nice when I appear in a new dress. He’ll make someone a good husband one day.

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Sam has embraced his pioneering role as first child from an early age, always pushing things to the next level when he was ready for a new challenge. Whether it was time to stop wearing nappies, upgrade from a three-wheel to two-wheel scooter, or ditch the training wheels on his bike, rest assured Sam was usually ready for the new phase before his Mum and Dad, and we’ve no doubt this trend will continue as he grows.

In some ways, Sam is incredibly independent and capable. He can get himself dressed and make breakfast without being asked, follows directions well and consistently proves himself to be trustworthy. In other ways, he’s still our baby and, as he has always been since he was tiny, is happiest when he’s busy and engaged in projects directly with Ben and I. “Mum, what can you and I do?” is one of his most favourite phrases. He drives us nuts – oh yes, regularly – but we wouldn’t change him.52-24-8

In a post-event wrap-up after the party with his Prep friends, I asked Sam what he liked best about the afternoon – to which he replied, “giving presents to the kids”. Champagne Sam. Instead of lolly bags, the Prep kids were asked to choose a gift from a lucky dip basket of things Sam had selected for them. He is a true giver of gifts. Whether it be writing a note for Ben and I, delivering chocolates and pumpkin soup to our sick neighbours, or making a Rainbow Loom band for someone he meets at the hospital, Sam is kind and generous. His blue eyes twinkle at the thought of helping someone.

I could talk about how amazingly resilient he’s been over the past ten months since the Leukaemia diagnosis, how he charms the doctors and how the nurses fight over being his ‘girlfriend’, how he gracefully puts up with numerous tests and procedures that no child should have to endure. But, the truth is, I thought he was a pretty awesome kid before all that happened.

Sam Love, you are a beautiful soul and I am so so proud to be your mum. Not sure how I got so lucky, but I’m so glad you chose me. Happy birthday, darling heart.

If you know Sam, I’d love if you could leave a comment below and share a Sam story or memory of him at any age. If you don’t know him, feel free to leave a birthday message for me to pass on to our big six year old! x

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28/52

School holidays come to a close today. We have squeezed every bit of life out of the past two weeks – we’ve been to a concert and a movie, explored GOMA and been ten pin bowling, we’ve stayed at the beach, attended a craft workshop and had playdates, we’ve ridden scooters and bikes at the park, we’ve drawn and written, we’ve made hideouts for Ninja turtles and goo pits for Trashies, we’ve had adventures with grandparents and played Skylanders, we’ve made up imaginary stories and dressed up as pirates. We’ve been busy.

So much of my role is made up of balancing needs and sharing out attention, and this is never more noticeable than when I have three boys at home all at once for extended periods. I have one boy who loves to be wherever he is, I have one boy who always wants to be somewhere else and with someone else, and one boy who is happy to go with the flow. Somehow we make it work. But it usually involves a wine by the end of the day ;)

52-28-5nicholas: Inspired by Aunty Penny, we made the spontaneous decision to sneak away to Fingal for a couple of nights at the beach, and when I smelt that sea air and saw the excited faces of three boys, I knew it’d been worth the effort. You are our little social butterfly, and you loved spending time with your cousins and friends, and saying hello as you met campers along the way. You had a great time at the beach and didn’t let a little cool weather stop you crawling into the waves for a swim.

52-28-6sam: Our resident DJ, you love music and often ask me to download new songs onto my phone (which is hard to see in the photo) so you can listen to them and play them for all of us. This week, you worked out that you could ask Siri play tracks without even having to press a button ;) You have loved every minute of the school holidays – the world has been your oyster.

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charlie: Charlie Bear, I love that joyful face. You can find delight anywhere. You loved staying at Fingal, playing with all the kids, making up games and swinging in the playground, running in circles and swimming at the beach. Your crazy hair made me laugh a lot this week. Might be time to attempt a haircut again.

Joining in the 52 Project at Practising Simplicity ~ a portrait of each of my boys every week in 2014.

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27/52

52-27-1charlie: Your vivid imagination can find a game in any circumstances. You requested our garage door be opened so you could work on your ‘junk shop’ (an apt description of the state of our garage), then saddled up your rake as a horse and rode off into the sunset. Your favourite phrase this week has been “I have no idea” and you manage to use it in a multitude of situations. We had lots of fun on school holidays this week, but spending time in the Pattern exhibition at GOMA was a definite highlight for you.

52-27-2nicholas: You are such a good kid when it comes to going to bed. With your green ‘froggie’ snuggled into one cheek and Charlie’s old blue ‘puppy’ on the other, and covered with your fluffy green blanket, you blow me a kiss as I shut the door and settle in. Given your big brothers gave up their daytime naps around two years old, I am enjoying this quiet time for as long as it lasts.

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sam: You are loving any opportunity to ride your new Powering scooter (lovingly given to you by all your Prep friends), and I made the most of it to try panning in photography (this week’s husband challenge ;) ) This week, we’ve kept busy with school holiday activities and made the most of the magnificent weather. Apparently your highlight was going Ten-Pin Bowling for the first time with your cousins, but I think you are hard pressed to find a favourite, it’s been such a fun week.

Joining in the 52 Project at Practising Simplicity ~ a portrait of each of my boys every week in 2014.

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26/52 {happy half-way mark}

Here we are, at Week 26 and half way into the 52 Project.

This week marks the end of the second school term. It has been a busy week and I know two boys who are ready for a break, ready for some lazy starts to the day. The winter weather is so beautiful around here – chilly mornings with magnificent blue skies and warm winter sunshine spreading out across the day. It will be lovely to make the most of it as we enjoy some winter holiday activities. We have plenty of ideas to keep us busy.

This mumma is ready for a break too. Ready to worry less about routines, uniforms and making lunches, and more about staying in pyjamas a bit longer, making cubbies and playing games. Ready to worry less about what I’m not achieving and more about living in the moment, soaking in every bit of these three ragamuffins.

52-26-4nicholas: After we’ve dropped the boys to school and kindy, we like to come home and hang out together in the sunshine. There’s so much climbing and crawling and exploring to be done. You love to tip your bottles and cups upside down to make all the water drip out and giggle if I catch you being cheeky. I’ve loved hearing a few new words this week, like ‘stop’ and ‘go’, and you are trying lots of new signs too. 

52-26-1charlie: It was a fun last week of kindy, complete with Under-8s week celebrations at a local primary school. You weren’t so keen on going inside the Fire Engine, Police car or Ambulance, but you did love watching the ‘volcano’ science experiment, and you and Nicholas delighted in discovering all the coloured pillows in the reading tent. You two have a very similar imaginative style of play and it’s so lovely to hear all the giggles as you share a game. 52-26-6

sam: One of the medications you’re on mean that our usually happy, resilient, independent boy is a bit out of sorts at the moment. Sometimes it feels as though we have a stranger amongst us, but we know it’s only a few days until you’ll be back. You were pretty happy to find these cosy Super Mario Brothers pyjamas in the hand-me-downs from your cousins, so it seemed fitting to wear them to Grandma’s for dinner. We’re sure she didn’t mind pyjamas being the dress code.

Joining in the 52 Project at Practising Simplicity ~ a portrait of each of my boys every week in 2014.

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25/52

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With a few winter sniffles this week, we have laid low, stayed warm and enjoyed some quiet days at home, rediscovering forgotten toys. Watching Nicholas play alongside his brother and delight in the assembled train set, just like any two year old boy might, made my heart sing. ‘Normal’ moments like these, that we wondered if we would ever enjoy when we first received the Down syndrome diagnosis, seem to take on new meaning. If going through that dark time means that we can truly enjoy the beauty of these simple joys, like sunlight streaming through the window on a winter’s day and two boys playing together around a train set, then it was totally worth it.

Our love and prayers go out to three particular families in the international Trisomy 21 community this week who are grieving the loss of their little ones. After coming to terms with a Down syndrome diagnosis and realising that we have been given an incredible yet unexpected gift, only to have that gift taken away, is beyond devastating. I can only imagine the heartbreak these families are going through. For these three families, and for all parents who have had to bear the unfathomable loss of a child, you are in our hearts x

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sam: My biggest boy, you seem so much more grown up this week with your newly acquired age of six. Today we decided to make a restaurant, so you wrote out the menu and took orders and even made and served the lunches to the boys (thankfully, it was a short-order kitchen – just like Mum provides on a daily basis). While you still get tired and emotional, like the best of us, you so often display maturity and nurturing beyond your years and I often wonder how I got so lucky being chosen to be your mother. 

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charlie: Oh, I just couldn’t decide between these two shots. I love your beautiful lashes, but you did make me laugh when you got down on the floor and said, “Mum, take a photo of me like this so it looks like I’m flying!” You were overjoyed to have a turn of Sam’s new Superman outfit while he was at school. I am observing you carefully and learning new things about you each day.

52-25-5nicholas: As the weather cools down, I am enjoying fishing out the winter clothes and seeing what my big two year old boy fits into this season. While perhaps not doing everything that two year olds might be, you are definitely moving into new territory and developing into a (little) ‘big boy’, and that line between you and your big brothers is starting to blur. You are so cheeky, twisting and turning on the change table to avoid a nappy change and crawling away at lightening speed when you need to get dressed. The toddler tantrum makes an occasional appearance too, but thankfully they are brief… and you’re still cute enough to get away with it ;)

Joining in the 52 Project at Practising Simplicity ~ a portrait of each of my boys every week in 2014.

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