Celebrations & Traditions

On My Birthday // 30 Things About Me

  1. I don’t have a middle name.
  2. I believe in past lives.
  3. I love to sleep. But I hate going to sleep.
  4. My current favourite colour is yellow.
  5. I never knew that I wanted to be a mother.
  6. Until one day I looked at Brian while we washed the dishes in our little cottage and then I knew.
  7. I dreamt about Hannah loooong before she was conceived. She looks exactly like she did in my dream. Exactly.
  8. I knew Blake was a boy and I was buying clothes for him at 8 weeks pregnant because I was that convinced. When we were told at our ultrasound that he was a girl I was surprised. I wasn’t surprised however, when I gave birth to him and found out that he is in fact a boy.
  9. Daisy called to me before we conceived her. Her name followed me around. When we saw that pregnancy test Brian said immediately, “Our little Daisy is on her way.”
  10. I loved giving birth. Every time. *
  11. I believe in numbers. 11 is a portal number. Google it.
  12. I’ve been the same size since I was 15. Even after 3 pregnancies. It actually gets a bit depressing, I would love to have curves.
  13. This is my favourite number.
  14. I lived through a war. I am still processing how that has effected the rest of my life. Actually, that’s not entirely true. I know it has contributed to my Anxiety. Anxiety sucks.
  15. I love black and white photographs. So much. Those family photographs are what made me want to learn photography  in the first place.
  16. I love eating out. I hate cooking. I’m starting to think these two facts correlate in some way.
  17. I didn’t get my licence until I was 20. I wanted to feel like I could safely drive on the road with thousands of other crazy people. On the day of my driving test, we’d been driving for 10 minutes, I had done one manoeuvre, and we were stopped at a light. As my light turned green a pedestrian 100m in front of us was hit by a car. My driving instructor and I just stayed at the light open-mouthed and missed the green (people went to the pedestrians aid, they were okay). He told me to drive back to the testing centre, and passed me straight away and told me to go home. Lucky for him I am actually a good driver!
  18. I have a really good memory.
  19. I’ve now known Brian for half my life. He’s my best friend, my teacher and the only person who truly knows me the way every person wants to be known. I’m infinitely grateful that my wish came true and that nice boy moved in across the road.
  20. I love music. I love anything with a guy and an acoustic guitar. I’m listening to James Bay as I write this. If I could bring Jeff Buckley back to Earth to play Hallelujah I would.
  21. I have a degree in Human Service majoring in Youth Work. I’ve never actually done any paid work in this field but I’ve done a ton of volunteering through my uni years. Most people in high school thought I would become a counsellor.
  22. I’m a creative person. I had no idea that I was until recently. School sucked the creative right out of me. I had to find that spark again.
  23. I have ALWAYS been different. I have ALWAYS made choices that seem to go against the tide. I haven’t done this to rebel – quite the opposite – they’re just choices that feel good to me.
  24. I can read tarot cards and interpret dreams for people. I have predicted future events accurately. I can channel spiritual guidance.  I actually have a lot of skills in this realm that I am still a bit scared to explore.
  25. I love reading. My dad influenced a lot of what I read, so I began reading autobiographies, self-help and inspirational books as a teenager. They’re still my favourite books to read and buy.
  26. My birthday gift to myself is a tattoo that I had done just a couple of weeks ago. I’m totally and completely in love with it, and can now understand why people cover their entire body with art.
  27. I’ve always felt an affinity to France and one day I would love to live there, learn French and soak up the sublime provincial lifestyle with weekend trips to Paris. Every time we’ve gone overseas I’ve made sure we’ve somehow managed to fit in a weekend in Paris.
  28. I don’t run. Not ever.
  29. I plan to live to 111.
  30. I believe in the power of choice. And of JOY.

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A Love Letter to a Home

Dearest Home,

It’s a new moon today. Do you know what that means? New beginnings.

It’s time for us to part ways, to say our goodbyes and move on to new adventures.

It’s sad. And I’m trying not to cry writing this to you. At the same time though, I am, and forever will be, grateful to you and everything that living inside your walls has meant to our family. It’s completely bittersweet.

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I remember when we first met, do you?

It was 1995 and my parents were looking for a new house – they were ready to buy their first home in Australia. You were just a shell of a home, your carpets weren’t laid and your potential was untapped. My parents chose the house across the road instead. I visited you a few times over the coming years, playing with the children who eventually moved in.

Then one day, the most amazing thing happened. I watched from my house as a new family arrived with their trailer full of boxes and carried them through your door and I knew intuitively something special was about to begin. We watched each other for weeks, and finally, Brian and I spoke to each other for the first time in the middle of this street that was at once not his, nor mine, but ours.

Our first trembling kiss occurred in your doorway, not knowing what the future and that doorway had in store. Time marched on and eventually Brian and I decided to marry at the same time as his parents decided to sell you and move closer to Brian’s aging grandparents.  We took the opportunity and grabbed you with both hands.

That was 2007. Since then we’ve stripped you bare, removed your carpet and painted your walls, we’ve reassembled your kitchen and bathroom and landscaped your gardens. It has been a labour of love. There is not one part of you – inside our outside – that we didn’t touch and re-invent. We’ve rented you out in order to move closer to work and the city and we’ve moved back in, over and again, many times. You were ours, and owning you gave us the freedom to enjoy you however we chose.

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You’ve seen us at our happiest – enjoying endless birthday celebrations, days of laughter in the pool, and the smallest moments of simple household delight. You’ve reveled in the Friday night pizza and movie nights, and entertaining friends and family for dinner. You’ve delighted in the pitter-patter of little feet on your floors and photos of smiling faces have graced your walls.

But you’ve also seen us at our most raw, most vulnerable and most hurt. You’ve listened to our cries of despair as we lost our first pregnancy and later the months of difficulty as we adjusted to having two small children under one roof. You’ve witnessed our most passionate arguments and our most passionate love. Moments that became memories all because you were here to hold the space for us, and our evolution.

In the time that we lived away from you, we decided on new dreams for our family and you gave us your final gift… in letting you go, we are able to grab hold of our new journey of adventure. And that’s where we are today, dear home. Your new owners will move in, in a few days and you will be ours no longer. The physical presence that has held us on this street for over 20 years will officially be over, but the memories will always remain.

I couldn’t stop the tears dear home, you’ve been so good to us. We are so grateful for the opportunity to grow within your walls and you have embraced us with an acceptance I know will be hard to replace.

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I hope your new beginning is wonderful. I hope you are looked after the way you deserve to be. I hope your new family enjoys long lunches on the patio watching the children splashing in the pool like we did on so many occasions. I hope your floors once again know the pitter-patter of little feet and that you witness great love and great moments. We wish you only the best.

Thank you.

Good bye.

Here’s to NEW adventures.

xx

Our Christmas Family Road Trip

The end of one year and the beginning of another are always busy for our family not only because of Christmas and New Years but because mine and Brian’s birthdays are so very close to those big days! My birthday is 28 December and Brian is 3 January so there were lots of celebrations, adventures and memories made in the last few weeks!

We started off December buy deciding to jump into our desires and we bought a Jacyo Swan campervan!! We had been talking about doing this all year in preparation for our trip around Australia in 2016 (more info to come in another post) and we decided to bite the bullet and just do it!

I’m not in the photo but believe me, I was just as happy as Brian!
Introducing… Joy!

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On the weekend before Christmas, we hitched our camper up and set off toward Brian’s parents house which is 8 hours north from ours. We planned to stay overnight at a free rest area halfway up to break the trip up and try Joy out for the first time.

Our overnight stop was simple and just off the highway at a popular traveller rest area but were there  in golden hour which made everything glow with light.

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Apart from a hungry and frustrated toddler at dinner time we all had a great sleep for our first night and it felt like pure luxury after camping in a tent all these years!

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The next day we drove to 1770, a tiny town in Queensland close to Agnes Waters on the coast. Brian had been camping there with his parents as a child and had many great memories so we were excited to check it out. We tried to find a space at a free camp but it was full so we moved to a local caravan park for 2 nights.  The afternoon was spent enjoying the calm inlet at 1770.

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Watching the little crabs all over the beach.

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We discovered some beautiful surprises on our walk along the beach – mangroves shining in the sun and an abandoned (or was it left there on purpose?!) hammock with a stunning view.

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It was so relaxing to look at the boats on the water while the children splashed, and this local and his dog seemed to be thoroughly enjoying the slow pace of life here.

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We spent a lot of time studying the patterns the crabs left in the sand and then it was time to gather our towels and head back to our camper. The sky gave us a lovely cloud formation as we said goodnight.

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The next day we decided to be explorers looking for adventures as we drove through the small towns. We followed a sandy track that we noticed and we wondered what we would find at the end. We hoped for a beach and when we stepped out of the car we were excited to see this sign. Immediately we set off down the many stairs in search of the sea.

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Although it was quite a trek down, our explorer hearts were truly excited when our feet finally landed on the sand and we noticed that we had the whole beautiful beach to ourselves.

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We even discovered a few turtle nests!

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We desperately wanted to stay longer and enjoy the natural beauty and peace that we found at this special, hidden beach but more adventures were waiting… on the LARC!

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The LARC Tours at 1770 are one of only a few tourist activities you can book in the area and we decided it would be fun to experience it as a family. As the vehicle made it’s way through the shallow waters of the inlet and over the ridge to the sand flats created by the low tide, we were able to see what the ocean floor looks like and it was mighty bumpy! Daisy didn’t mind though, she fell asleep immediately!

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The tour guide was fantastic and asked us some quiz questions about some of the wildlife we were able to see from the LARC. We learned that crabs ‘scuttle’ and create those little balls of sand through their mouth as they eat the micro-nutrients found in the sand.

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We also spotted some Pied Oystercatchers which were fascinating birds to learn about, and we especially liked that they mate for life (so that is a male and female pair in the photo) and are territorial, ‘owning’ their own section of beach. The guide mentioned there were two other pairs on the same beach but they all kept to their own areas.

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As we turned around the tour guide asked if any children would like to drive the LARC! We were on  board with only one other family who had a teenager and a younger son so he was first to drive. Hannah and Blake both had a go too and it was so fun seeing them steer the vehicle and try to follow the lines the guide had created on the way up the beach. Hannah was basically a pro and looked very comfortable with that big steering wheel (the guide controlled the brake/accelerator).

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It was such a fun experience to do with the kids and very family friendly. Daisy slept through almost all of it and was so relaxed at the end, she didn’t even want to get off! We would definitely recommend a LARC tour if you’re ever in the area 🙂

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But our adventures didn’t stop there! We drove to the point (about 2 minutes drive!) and discovered something very special. Brian vaguely remembered an anchor during his camping trip here with his parents and suddenly we had found one! Brian wasn’t sure if this was it but we decided to take a photo anyway and ask Brian’s mum once we arrived at their place for Christmas (it turns out this was definitely it! And Brian had been here as a 4 year old boy – the same age Blake is!!!)

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We could see the sea and walked past the anchor to gaze at the view. I even managed to set up the self-timer so we could capture a family snap of what was a magical family day full of fun and adventure!

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The next day we arrived at Brian’s familys house and the kids quickly discovered a few water guns and the wading pool. Queensland summers are hot, hot, hot so there is always some sort of water play for the kids every Christmas.

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On Christmas Eve we spend the day preparing for the annual party Brian’s mum and step-dad always host. We baked some cupcakes together and Hannah kindly insisted on washing up almost every pile of dishes over the 4 days that we stayed!

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Christmas Eve was lovely, full of good food and fun games.

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And finally it was Christmas!!! (I took a lot of video with my camera of the present opening and the rest of the morning so there is no other photos. )We tried to capture a nice family photo but this was the best we could get!

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Lunch was at Brian’s Nanna’s house. She is now 94 and still lives in the house she has lived in all her married life (Brian’s grandad passed away a few years ago aged 91). Most of Brian’s childhood memories were made here, especially Christmas ones, and he remembers often playing on the slip and slide after Christmas lunch. So we made sure it happened and it was special to see how much happiness it gave Brian and his Nanna 🙂

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And just like that it was time to head home. I didn’t really document the trip home even though we free-camped again over night, it just felt like it dragged and we had a lot of rain too. But we made it home safely and spent the next day celebrating Christmas with my family and going out to lunch for my birthday.

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My parents had a party for New Years Eve so we decided to stay over and help out and the sky even gave us some love for the last day of 2014…

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Brian then went away for work for a few days and when he came home we celebrated his 30th birthday! Since it’s summer and we have a pool we went with a Hawaiian themed party and it was so much fun! My dad used his special traditional Croatian BBQ to cook the meat and that added a really unique touch! Everyone dressed up and we gave away a prize for best-dressed and then we did a ’30 questions about Brian’ quiz which was so funny! I would love to go to more themed parties they really feel like a celebration!

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And that’s it! We’re taking a break from celebrating now! But we’re not taking a break from travelling… there will be more family adventures in February so we are very much looking forward to that!!

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Family Camping with our Tribe

During my pregnancy with Blake I became increasingly desperate for a community of like-minded families to surround ours in support and friendship. I tried a few different groups and then finally struck gold when Blake was a few months old. These mamas were exactly what I was looking for and our connections have meant so much to me and my family over the last 4 years.

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Something we began doing as a group a couple of years ago was camping! Brian and I had already been camping with the kids a few times before and this was exactly how we enjoyed our holidays, so to do it with our friends was a bonus.

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We began camping two to three times a year and increasingly our locations turned bush, which lead to Brian and I really falling in love with basic, bush camping. This time we went to a farm-stay which has more amenities than we normally have, but with three small kids, it’s always welcomed!

We had such a great time. We drove down interstate to the camping location the day before everyone else did, and the kids lit a small campfire and toasted a few marshmallows to celebrate.

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The site we had booked as a group was quite sunny, so the children were able to witness a lot of discussion and negotiation as we all worked out how to set up our ‘living areas’ (lots of gazebos pushed together to create our kitchen, eating and lounging zones).

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The kids were always around, helping in their own little ways 😉

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The dam was incredible and we spent quite a bit of time there. Hannah loved the kayaks and enjoyed paddling them with or without me or Brian joining her.  Blake was slightly more hesitant, but with the dam water being so murky I couldn’t really blame him. It was so calming just being there among the water-lillies and the dragonflies. I love being in new environments, and for the children it always sparks their creativity and imaginations.

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One of the plans us mamas had while camping as a group, was to indulge in some yoga, chanting and meditation together. Many of us have been on a journey of self-discovery and self-love this year, and yoga and meditation were some activities that quite a few of us had enjoyed before, so we wanted to share that as a group.  It was beautiful to connect in this way, whilst also nourishing ourselves as people first.

The children were free to join in as they pleased and most of the older kids got right into it, especially with some of the more up-beat chanting music that we had available. A friend and I had been to a Kundalini yoga retreat a month prior and most of that music is very uplifting and positive.  Even Daisy tried out a few yoga poses! On the last day, all our partners sat and supported us by watching us and the kids, and it was lovely to have their encouraging presence around us while we took time to care for ourselves. So beautifully nourishing and revitalising.

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Of-course being a farmstay, there were quite a few animals to feed and pat and cuddle so the kids spent many hours enjoying those experiences. Hannah and Blake predictably adored the bunnies and were devastated that we couldn’t take a couple home (they’re considered a pest in our state).

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We even discovered a Mulberry tree on the property and the kids were excited to climb the trees and taste as many Mulberry’s as they liked.

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Apart from the animals, the campfire every night was a sacred, much-anticipated event for the kids and the adults alike. The first camping trip we went on where we were able to light a big campfire, we set up a rope around the perimeter and explained to the children to stay on the outside of it. So many people had expressed their surprise at doing a big fire with small children around, but like with everything a lot of trust and a little adult supervision means the children have always been free to enjoy it as the amazing experience that it is.

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Five days, eleven families, and over twenty children under the age of 6 enjoying nature, time together, exploring and learning… well, I call that a successful holiday!!!

Dearest Blake – Happy 4th Birthday!

To my dearest Blake,

Oh Darling boy! You’re four!!!

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You’re so excited to be another year older, bigger and stronger and able to do more things. You kept telling us of the things you will do once you turn 4 – like click in your own seat-belt which you’ve refused to do because you were “only 3” 😉 – so I’m sure this birthday is an incredibly important milestone in your life. We’re so happy to share it with you Blake. You’re such a special child and you truly add to our family in the most amazing way.

You’re still our most affectionate child. You often murmur, “Babies are so lovely.” as you stroke Daisy’s little cheeks. It’s been the most adorable relationship to watch grow. As a parent the best thing is when your children really, really love each other, so watching you love your sisters is so beautiful for me to see. I hope you always keep that bond strong. They’ll both be there for you through anything and everything.

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Your physicality hit a new high since you turned three. You began using pencils as shotguns (the most pointy thing we have in our home!) just out of the blue! Hannah found it quite disconcerting so I had a flashbulb of an idea for you to aim your fierceness at the tree downstairs and you loved it. The tree and you connected in a way that only a boy and a tree can ;).

There have been some extremely challenging moments as well. Many, many boundaries were pushed and tested and still are. And because of your physicality when upset, my patience and limits were often pushed too far. It’s something we’re working on together and I know this stage has it’s process and we just need to go through it.

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You also rarely stop moving. One of our favourite things to do lately is tell each other stories and your whole body moves when it’s your turn! Your gestures, your dramatic jumps in the air and your crouching down and whispering during the suspenseful moments almost send me into hysterics. It’s never dull with you around Blake!

This year, we had a party planned for you, but we noticed during Hannah and Daisy’s parties that you became quite withdrawn and clingy and then fell asleep half-way through. We were concerned that your party would have the same effect so we had a chat with you and offered you the options – to have a party with family and friends as planned or to just have immediate family over and a cake and without hesitation you chose the latter. So with only weeks to go we canceled your party and just had family over to celebrate you turning 4!

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Your favourite things at the moment are playing with your cars, watching 4×4 videos on YouTube, playing imaginative games with your friends, asking me what all the words on all the signage we see says, being a knight, and going on adventures.

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We love you Blake, you’re an amazing little boy and we know you have so much to share with us. I can’t wait to get to know you even better in this 4th year of yours. I hope it’s your best one yet!!!

Love, Mama xx

Hannah’s 6th Birthday Party!

Hannah began planning her 6th birthday party soon after her 5th had finished. She decided she wanted a unicorn/mermaid/fairy/castle themed party and that she wanted to colour her hair pink and purple. So began my year long search to make her wishes a reality!

We discovered ‘hair chalk’ which didn’t end up being as bright as she had imagined, but she was impressed with it. It ended up washing out after a fun swim in the pool soon after the party started anyway!

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And then I had to figure out how to incorporate her chosen theme into one birthday cake!
It all came together in the end and it was a lovely simple party. All her favourite things with all her favourite people means Hannah was a very happy girl. She’s such a gracious child and I always love seeing how much she enjoys the planning and celebrating of parties.

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Daisy’s 1st Birthday Yellow Polka-Dot Party!

Yes, it’s a touch cliche but I just HAD to theme Daisy’s party around her name! With sunshine yellow decorations, polka-dots everywhere and daisies in vases, our home was set to celebrate our little blossom’s 1st birthday. It was a lovely party and while Daisy seemed a bit overwhelmed to start with, she loved when everyone was singing her Happy Birthday and began clapping 🙂 She sneaked a piece of cake and we ended up doing an impromptu cake-smash as she was so excited to eat it!All Rights Reserved All Rights Reserved All Rights Reserved All Rights Reserved All Rights Reserved All Rights Reserved All Rights Reserved All Rights Reserved All Rights Reserved All Rights Reserved All Rights Reserved All Rights Reserved All Rights Reserved All Rights Reserved All Rights Reserved All Rights Reserved All Rights Reserved All Rights Reserved

The next day was Daisy’s actual birthday and as it was coincidentally a public holiday in our area, Brian had the day off. We started the day with a little photo-shoot, went out for a yummy lunch and then for a play at the park at our favourite place. Daisy enjoyed her first time on the slide and Hannah took a few lovely photos of Brian, Daisy and I. We reminisced about her birth day last year and talked about future plans with our family of five. So many blessings. So very grateful.

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At One
– Daisy has 8 teeth –
– She is crawling and pulling up but she doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to learn to walk –
– She loves food and eats anything and everything –
– She is clapping, waving, high-fiving, pointing and blowing kisses –
– Her favourite things to do are find pieces of paper or tissue on the floor and scrunch them into her mouth before anyone catches her and playing peek-a-boo with Hannah and Blake –
– She is happily a breastfeeding, co-sleeping, ergo-snuggling, stick-munching, beach-exploring, car-tripping, sibling-loving, cheeky-giggling little baby –
– and we love her to pieces! –

Happy 1st Birthday Daisy Emmeline!

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Daisy’s Herbal Bath, Family Photos + Birth Video

 

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Daisy was 5 days old when these photos were taken. It was my first time having a herbal bath and it was such a lovely experience. Daisy loved it so much she literally fell asleep. Hannah and Blake joined in and loved playing with the flower petals, it was a really calming and sweet bonding activity with their new sibling. Now that Daisy is 6 months old, it seems time has been on fast forward ever since that day.

I am also very happy to be able to share the birth video created by Georgia from Documenting Delight (who also took these wonderful photos) it is such a treasure for our family to have – The Birth Video of Daisy Emmeline

January Photo A Day Grateful Project – Day 3

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These are my husbands hands and I am infinitely gratful for them. They have held my hand since the first days of our relationship, they have cuddled each of our children and they have worked hard even on days like today. Brian was generous enough to help my Dad fix his broken car in time for them to leave for their weekend away this afternoon. We abandoned our plans to celebrate his birthday in order for these hands to work their magic, to impart their skill and knowledge and be used for what they were made to do. For 29 years these hands have been working and holding and they need to be celebrated and appreciated.

Brian, I hope you know how proud we are of you. Happy Birthday my love xx

January Photo A Day Grateful Project – Day 1

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I am grateful for the way Hannah and Blake hold hands so lovingly and willingly. This is the third time today that I have witnessed them holding hands and although it is not an unusual sight it still makes my heart beat faster with love every time I see it. We have worked hard over the last three years with these two siblings in an attempt to guide their love to flow towards each other with mutual respect and thoughtfulness leading the way. Over the last few months I have been seeing more and more evidence of their love in action and more than ever I am honoured to be the mother of these gorgeous children.

Hannah and Blake are in the pool surrounded by children of our dear friends who so generously surround our family with care and support and are part of our little village. We are so grateful to have them in our lives today as we welcomed in the new year with perfect weather and perfect company.