38/52 {spring has sprung}

DSC_0803When 1 September rolled around, a warm day marked the change of seasons and the beginning of Spring. And then it went back to being chilly. Now that we’re half way through September, it appears that Spring has now well and truly sprung and we are enjoying the warm sunshine, cool breezes, grass under our toes and longer days where we can enjoy the outdoors into the early evening. Whether it be jumping on the trampoline, digging in the sandpit, a picnic afternoon tea, or craft under the tree, our backyard is our happy place.

This weekend marks the beginning of school holidays for us, which we need to savour as I know the last term is going to go by in a flash. Sam’s class is already starting to transition to new morning routines in preparation for going into Grade One next year. I’m trying to be slightly less gung-ho these holidays and not overplan, given I burnt myself out last break ;)

October is only about a week away and, as it’s Down syndrome Awareness Month, I have committed to blogging for 31 days (in the 31 for 21 blogging challenge). Eeek. However, in an effort to still have a husband by the end of it, I have enlisted the help of lovely friends who will be sharing their voices and stories and images along with me in this space. I’m really excited about sharing the love with you all in the month ahead so {stay tuned}.

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52-38-5sam: My biggest Love, we had a tough start to the week with those nasty steroids wreaking havoc with you. Thankfully, you were pretty excited about participating in your sports carnival mid-week and it was lovely to see your spark return on Wednesday morning as you got to don your yellow shirt, ready for races, ball games and other activities. Daddy and I were so proud of watching you put so much effort in at the carnival. You were also very excited about your ‘hobby day’ at school on Friday, which was a fun way to end the term and start the holidays.

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charlie: The arrival of some surprise presents from overseas mid-week led to hours of entertainment as you played with your new Transformers (thank you family!). You love playing outdoors in the afternoons and often it’s dark before you even think about coming inside. You weren’t very interested in going to bed that night, instead preferring to play with the beloved new Transformers, and later I found you sound asleep with one of the toys still firmly grasped in your hand. 

52-38-3nicholas: The trampoline is always the first place you want to visit when you get into the backyard. You frantically signing ‘jump’ and stand at the ladder until we lift you on, and then you very clearly communicate that you want us to come on and jump with you. I’m sure you would stay on there for hours on end if you could, loving to stand up and fall over, sit on us, “roll, roll, roll” and play with the ball. You very cleverly worked out the zips on the net pretty quickly, so you also love to let people on and off or just poke your head out and wave to everyone on occasion. I love your crazy trampoline hair.  

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

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37/52

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charlie: My cheeky Charlie chops, this cheesy photo makes me smile. In the process of taking photos, you also showed me your zombie face, and the face of “mens who have lots of keyrings” (I’m still wondering what you meant by that – one of life’s mysteries). You make me giggle often with the things you say, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to miss you a lot when you’re at school next year. 

52-37-4nicholas: We had such a lovely picnic afternoon tea outside, and this box has provided you and Charlie with hours of entertainment this week. The moving box that Grandma gave us has since transitioned from a cubby to a robot costume – so many uses for one cardboard box. So many cute moments with you this week, especially when you fell asleep on your lunch box while I was having an Osteo appointment. 

52-37-7sam: This week has marked a year since you were first diagnosed with Leukaemia. You still manage to endure treatment with a smiley face (helped, in this instance, by the Clown Doctors being silly behind you). One year down, two to go. We are so thankful you are looking so happy and healthy, despite our rollercoaster of a year.

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

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36/52 {happy father’s day}

0094-2When I think of my Dad, the first words that come to mind are steadfast, genuine, solid.

Growing up, I don’t remember my Dad being particularly playful. He was more inclined to teach me important things about the world, like how to calculate how soon we’d arrive in the next town based on speed and distance, or how to ride a bike. While we may not always have appreciated each lesson at the time, he was always there when we needed him.

Dad is always up for a chat, but he’s a quiet achiever, an introvert. He loves to learn, and has ingrained a love of learning in his children. Long ago, he taught himself how to play the clarinet and, at nearly 80, has recently taken up guitar lessons and spends a significant amount of time at the Genius Bar learning new tricks on his various Apple devices. He retired years ago, but never rests on his laurels.

My Dad is not one to worry too much about reading an instruction manual, but everything he builds is steadfast and solid too. I barely need to ask before he’s on the doorstep, ready to construct a set of bunk beds for the boys or install a new sink in the kitchen. Being a builder by trade, his children often benefit from his craftsmanship.

He’s not one for fanfare, but I have always felt the love and strength of my Dad, standing behind me in my finest hours and my darkest days.

Love you, Dad. Thank you for loving your tribe and sharing your infinite wisdom. Happy Father’s Day x

52-36-5sam: I love this photo of you and your beloved Daddy. My, how you showered him with gifts this Father’s Day. Aside from the school craft and Fathers Day Stall gifts, you spent hours working on a special book for Daddy to tell him all the things you love doing with him. 

52-36-4nicholas: Daddy and I love snuggles with our boys in the mornings, and you love being on our bed, even if you’d rather play than cuddle. You think it’s hilarious when you’re lying between us and we’re both looking at you. You give us a few cuddles, then spend the rest of the time giggling and rolling and climbing over the top of us. 

52-36-1charlie: Some days I look at you and think I’m definitely going to need a shotgun to keep the girls away in future ;) You have been asking so many insightful questions lately, reminding me how quickly you are growing up. You came into our bed early one morning this week, snuggled in to me and went back to sleep. I am treasuring each and every morning cuddle while they last.

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

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35/52 {grateful}

Grateful for tough conversations that break you open and make you better and stronger and more free.

Grateful for being able to celebrate a baby sister on the precipice of 30 and motherhood, and all that she brings to my life.

Grateful for some rare space with my husband.

Grateful for the power of music to transport me back in time.

Grateful for incredible women in my life and the gift of sharing stories.

Grateful for perspective.

Grateful for three noisy, chaotic, beautiful boys.

So grateful.

52-35-2nicholas: After a grey weekend, it was lovely to see the sunshine return and have more park plays this week. Just like your brothers, you generally like to start a visit to the park by eating. Your blue Tupperware lunchbox is your prized possession and God help anyone if they try to take it off you before every item has been consumed ;) After all the eating is finished, your favourite parts of playing at the park are filling your hat with bark and going down slippery slides.

52-35-4bwsam: I’m pretty sure my favourite bit of motherhood is watching the relationships develop between you and your two brothers. The bond between each of the boys is unique and has both strengths and weaknesses, but all in all, there’s a lot of love around here. You wanted me to capture a quick shot of you and Nicholas together before you went off to school and, judging by that face, I’m pretty sure your baby brother loves you to the moon and back.

52-35-7charlie: You have been a prolific writer and illustrator of books this week.- I think I lost count after about the ninth one. Most days begin and end with wanting me or Daddy to sit with you and write the words while you dictate the story, and then you finish each page with pictures, and at bedtime each night we read the books together. Being an author has taken priority over pretty much anything this week, even eating and sleeping. I love your stories, your imagination, your creativity, your passion.

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

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34/52

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nicholas: Your just-woke-up face is one of my favourites, and the bed hair from a lunchtime bath made it even more special. You are quite happy to zone out with the boys on the couch while you wake up properly, then it’s time to play and explore and eat and chat and yell and sing and crawl and bike ride and read some more. I love watching you play – listening to your imaginary phone calls to daddy, the way you build lego and fly it around, how you hide Froggie in a bucket and make him reappear. I love watching your imagination in action.

52-34-3sam: We were glad to see you much healthier and back at school this week, even though you had to have one day off for scheduled treatment. Between the steroids and the rainy weather, this weekend hasn’t been our finest and I’m sure we’ve each had a turn at melting down at some stage. I guess this is just what happens when we love each other and we’re affected by each other’s moods. Lucky we know that ‘this too shall pass’ and the sunshine will soon return.

52-34-2charlie: While you don’t dress up quite as much as you used to, a quiet morning at home this week was spent pulling every article of dress-ups out of our two boxes and spreading them all over the lounge room floor so we could pick out our outfits. Our usually very healthy boy took his turn at the man flu mid-week, and you made me giggle when you told me one morning that “the crouper still hadn’t gone”. Thankfully you seemed to bounce back very quickly and were all set to celebrate pyjama day (to raise money for Daffodil Day) at kindy on Friday. As if you need an excuse not to get out of your pyjamas for a whole day ;)

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

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Returning to our Sanctuary

DSC_0456There’s something lovely about returning to a holiday destination. Feeling the anticipation rise as the weekend at ‘the farm’ approaches, hearing us exhale as we descend the driveway towards our cabin, knowing how quickly we’ll start thinking we never want to leave. Being able to reminisce about previous visits while creating new memories.

DSC_0326Remembering that we first visited many moons ago for the wedding of dear friends, not knowing that we’d one day return for holidays with our own brood.

Recalling the dark and cosy bedroom where I fed baby Nicholas and we both had a rare nap for three hours in the middle of the day, when he was five months old and I was still adjusting to having three children under five.

DSC_0429Observing that Charlie has absolutely no interest in feeding the farm animals, so nothing much has changed from previous visits in that respect. Noting that Nicholas has developed his eldest brother’s affinity with animals, completely comfortable in their presence.

DSC_0495 DSC_0490Remembering crazy early morning, sleepy feeds on the couch with baby Nicholas, and then watching the sun rise over the dewy grass with Sam, my other early riser. Thankful that everyone tends to sleep until after the sun comes up these days.

DSC_0469DSC_0458Enjoying my baby boy snuggling up to me on the tractor ride, being lulled to sleep by the end of the journey. And remembering that he did that last year too.

Thinking about the sausages we cooked over the open fire last year, and how we turned off all the lights to watch the stars, just the five of us away from the real world. Delighting in the chaos and fun of shared meals with friends this year, watching my beloved in his element as he prepared delicious dinners.

DSC_0404Noting that Sam’s desire to start the campfire each afternoon has not waned since last year, and thankful that the chilly weather meant we could sit by the fire outside and have a fireplace to keep us toasty indoors too. Glad we remembered the marshmallows to toast this year.

DSC_0365Observing how much drawing and writing played a part in this year’s escape, how much Sam has honed these skills over the past year, and loving the notes he wrote for the ‘farm people’ and his friends. Wondering if next year he’ll be curled up in a corner reading a novel, as I hope to be.

DSC_0507 DSC_0510Loving the competitive spirit shown in the daddies and sons soccer match, giggling at Sam’s determination to have a swim and never making it in the freezing water past his big toe, and recalling that this time last year, there was little physical activity on our escape as we were still undergoing investigations over his mysterious sore knee.

DSC_0463 Again, feeling blessed for having a few sacred days away from the world with my loves. Knowing how much has changed in a year and how much stays the same. Being able to stop, breathe, observe and remember.

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33/52 {finding my happy place}

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Sam had a short hospital stint this week. After experiencing fevers of over 38.5 on Monday morning, it’s protocol for us to take him straight up to Emergency in case there’s a nasty infection lurking. He was admitted later that day and stayed in for two nights, but thankfully he didn’t seem particularly sick. Once doctors had located the source of the fevers (he tested positive for Influenza B on the final morning) and the fevers dissipated, we were sent home.

It’s often in these ‘hospital weeks’ where I more regularly hear comments like “I’m not sure how you do it”. While the logistics of managing three children across two locations can be tricky, the truth is that hospital weeks, for us, don’t feel that much more difficult than normal busy life with three young children. I go into action mode and organisational overdrive, Ben has a fabulous team who manage the business very well without him onsite, and we’re very grateful for the friends and family nearby who are able to help out when required.

But comments like those do get me thinking about what helps me feel happiest and most in control of my life, especially in weeks where things don’t go according to plan. So, without overthinking it, here’s my list:

Eating well, and going to bed early.

Having a weekly plan of what I’m going to have for dinner (or at least having knowing what I’m going to have for dinner and having ingredients on hand before 5.30pm each night!)

Making school/kindy lunches the night before, so that each morning runs more smoothly.

Getting up a little earlier on school mornings, so there’s more breathing space and less craziness (somehow this never translates to being early for school though!).

Outsourcing where required. Whether this be something that we pay for (like a cleaner), or just asking Ben to do something I’d love to do, but never feel like I have enough time to (like making chicken stock), it definitely helps me feel more balanced.

Asking for help. My husband probably doesn’t agree, but I am getting better at this.

Not overcommitting. Saying no to things that aren’t imperative or that aren’t going to add value to our lives.

Having a tidy house (rare occurrence, but a clearer living space does give me more headspace).

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But, sometimes, when life does feel a bit overwhelming and I need to find my happy place, these are the things I try in the hope of restoring some balance:

Dance party in the kitchen with my little Loves and our favourite tunes.

Being grateful for the little things, like Sam putting lavender from our garden in a little glass of water on a shelf, or the way the light shines through our bedroom window in the mornings.

Sneaking out to the bench seat in our backyard, with leafy trees and colourful lanterns overhead, for five minutes alone with a cup of tea.

Getting some fresh air and physical exercise. Given I am rarely alone, this usually involves going for a spontaneous walk or scooter ride to the park with the boys.

Switching off the screens and social media and engaging fully with my children.

Writing a random note to a friend and putting it in the post (I love these little notebooks from Kikki K).

If I can swing it, escaping by myself for a few hours to indulge in a magazine and coffee at a café.

A glass of wine and conversation with my husband at the end of the day, preferably with children all tucked up in bed, sleeping peacefully.

How do you find your happy place?

(I think I’m pretty lucky that I tend to have an inbuilt positive outlook and was brought up with Pollyanna as a mother who always encouraged me to look on the bright side of things. I’m thankful that I’m not prone to depression and its debilitating ways, and in no way want to make light of those who truly suffer from ‘rough days’. If you think you might be struggling with depression, please reach out to someone you know or call Lifeline on 13 11 14.)

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sam: Your front teeth were a little wobbly, but a week ago you were playing on the trampoline with a friend and somehow both teeth came out in one fell swoop (followed by blood and a fair bit of screaming), but thankfully you calmed quickly and realised that the Tooth Fairy would be visiting (not that night, though – she had obviously had a very busy week and had an early night). I’m quite fond of your gappy smile. 

52-33-3nicholas: Spending time at our newly renovated local library was a perfect way to spend a few hours on a rainy Friday (good suggestion by Sam). You love the new kids area, complete with cosy couches and nooks and crannies to explore, but you much prefer adult novels to picture books at the moment. It was pretty fascinating when animated bugs started crawling all over the mat and butterflies shone on your face – those lights coming from above were quite mesmerising.

52-33-6charlie: Is there any place better than within Daddy’s strong arms? With Daddy suffering from the flu this week, he’s been at home and therefore been on hand for extra cuddles, and probably needed more than usual too. Luckily, you’re a very cuddly kid and are happiest when you’re snuggled up to someone. You looked very fetching in my slippers too, by the way. 

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

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