Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Rhythm Of Our Days: Freo Fridays

For as long as I can remember, I have always loved Fridays - the closing of a week, a simple low key dinner, the anticipation of everyone in our household being home together for a few days and the promise of the weekend ahead and its break from routine. And while I still love Fridays for all of these reasons, there is a new part of this day of the week that brings me much joy...

Our Saturday morning market run has been a thing of the past for some time now.  When Grace began full time school and was visibly tired at the end of her fifth day, heading out the door early on the first day of the weekend was not good for anyone. Instead, Sophie and I began collecting our fruit and vegetables on a Friday morning and so began a new end of the week tradition.

Over the past year, these end of the week visits to Fremantle have become so much more.  They are our 'treat', our 'Sophie and Mummy morning' after a full week dictated largely by the school bell and endless 'to dos'. They are our chance to explore and browse in little shops and stores together because we want to, not because we have to.  Most importantly, they are our special one on one time and something I look forward to tremendously.

After dropping Grace off at school on a Friday, we often make our way to Fremantle. We run errands on the way, stopping here and there and then begin our favourite part of the week.  Purposely parking on the outskirts of South Fremantle, we begin a long slow wander down to South Terrace, Sophie's chubby hand clutching mine tightly, her endless chatter breaking the quietness of the streets as we walk. We stop to admire sweet features on quaint cottages - white picket fences, ivy trailing along limestone walls, trickling garden fountains, prayer flags strung across verandahs and mosaic lined driveways and paths. There are our 'must-sees' like the teacup path, goldfish pond and friendly backyard chickens and new discoveries are made on every stroll.  Taking time to slow down and notice the small details we pass has become a highlight for us both and seeing the enjoyment on my little one's face as we point out these interesting finds is priceless.

At South Terrace, we make our way to what has become affectionately referred to by Sophie as 'The Zebra Cafe', a quirky but trendy spot where we religiously order our three C's - a chai, 'cino and choc chip cookie. I have become somewhat of a chai snob and after one too many sickly syrupy versions, a skinny chai latte from this cafe is the only one I will now drink (other than home brewed chai).  My Friday pot of deliciousness is the perfect blend of spices and I always enjoy several cups. Sophie and I sit at one of the tables outside or in cooler months, try and score window seats where we can watch the traffic and passers-by.  We play 'I Spy' or draw together without interruption and free from distraction and after morning tea, sneak in a fossick in the Op Shop several doors down or Manna Wholefoods before heading home for lunch and a slow relaxing afternoon. This unhurried, free from time restraints part of our Friday has become such a precious way to end our week and definitely sets the tone for the weekend ahead.

I am so thankful that Sophie's kindy days this year are Monday and Tuesday and that this tradition of ours can be savoured for another year. I hope that one day in the future, she will look back on these 'Freo Fridays' we currently share with the same affection and appreciation as I have for them...

Friday, February 12, 2016

2016 Portraits: January

"Monthly portraits of my girls in 2015"

Sophie: The thought of my baby girl starting kindergarten brought a roller-coaster of emotions for me in January. In readiness for her first day, I'd been taping a five minute show each morning at the end of the holidays about a little bear preparing for his first time at school, hoping it would help Sophie... I ended up in tears myself after hearing the song in the first episode... "All you have to do is be brave little bear. It's all so new.  Just one little step, for me and you... All your friends are ready to explore with you, just turn and save a wave for me. There's things you have to figure out on your own. But you're never alone, we're always there. Little things can seem so big... take lots of little steps and suddenly you're there. Such a big adventure little bear."

Grace: She would spend hours pottering about on the shoreline if we let her... always content to use her imagination and invent her own games. It makes me so happy to see her enjoy nature and being outdoors.

Joining in with Jodi

Saturday, January 16, 2016

A Snapshot Of Our 2015

With so many highlights of the past year yet to be documented here on my blog and with a fresh new one having already begun, I figured the best way to get back into writing was with a re-cap of our family's past twelve months...

For us, 2015 began with a summer that was all about water.  Days were punctuated with endless trips to the river, swims at the beach and dips in our neighbours' pool. A final trip to the family holiday house south of Perth over the Australia Day long weekend was the perfect end to our relaxed holiday break. When school returned for Grace, she settled in well and without the anxiety of years gone by. There were no tears and fewer worries and soon home readers, spelling lists and times tables made their way into our afternoon routine.

In April, the four of us had our first ever interstate holiday to northern New South Wales. It was the perfect balance of sightseeing, family time and relaxation.  We based ourselves in Kingscliff, a quiet little town with a laid back holiday vibe and lots to explore within close driving distance. Our accommodation was perfect for our needs and the ability to hop in the car and be in Byron Bay in only thirty minutes suited us really well.

Days were spent out and about exploring, taking in new sights and then come the afternoon, we would head back to our accommodation for a swim in the pool followed by a warm bath and some quiet time. At night, it was just a short walk across to one of the restaurants in the Salt Village for tea (such a convenience for us with the girls) and the novelty of room service was also a treat on a few occasions (especially the delicious chocolate fondant dessert!)

Our girls loved the whole hotel experience with the novelty of sharing a room together where they would watch in-house movies and chat and giggle way past their usual bedtime.  I too loved the luxury of staying in a resort... no beds to make, rooms to tidy, washing to do or meals to prepare!

Autumn brought with it a birthday each for Paul and I, as well as our tenth wedding anniversary. With much excitement, Grace lost her first tooth just before her sixth birthday. Her ice cream themed party with five friends and three cousins was lots of fun, despite us having to scrap our plans of an outdoor celebration in the backyard when heavy rain arrived.  Instead, little ones were entertained with indoor games like 'pin the cherry on the ice cream', musical bobs and ice cream bingo.

As the temperatures dropped and the cooler weather set in with the onset of winter, gum boots were donned for outdoor adventures between the showers. Visits to the river and play-dates on the shoreline were replaced with catch-ups with cousins at the Fremantle Arts Centre.  Sophie and I also began regular trips to Fremantle where after dodging puddles and running along footpaths under umbrellas, we would seek refugee from the stormy weather and sit at one of the window seats with our chai and babycino at Ootong and Lincoln.

In Spring, we escaped to Denmark for our annual getaway.  Days were spent exploring in the crisp country air - highlights being the natural playground, our long river-side walk down a peaceful track through the bush (where a snake slithered across our path), Elephant Rocks and the ever-popular animal farm. Afternoons were spent enjoying the gorgeous gardens next to our chalet while Paul mountain biked.  The girls pottered about in the fairy garden (complete with a real life 'Faraway Tree') and played hide and seek in the beautiful surroundings.

October arrived and with it came Sophie's 4th birthday and a simple gathering with just three of her cousins, perfect for a little one often overwhelmed by crowds.  It was a 'girls only event' (as back when we were planning her party Sophie had declared, "I don't want any boys because I don't want any silly!')

The wind-down to the year and lead-up to Christmas meant a busy calendar and lots of social events. Shopping for presents became a priority (often meaning housework was ignored whilst doing so). With the onset of warmer weather, we regularly found ourselves back at our riverside spot for morning tea picnics and sandcastle building. I also had a fantastic evening in Perth one Saturday with my sister and cousin attending the Florence and the Machine concert... such a mesmerizing performance and such a magical voice.

Class parties, kindy orientation, a school concert, extended family Christmas parties and the usual Advent activities like visits to Santa and drives to see Christmas lights all saw the year end on a fun note... and after a wonderful year, brought with them a readiness for the slow-paced, unplanned days of the new year and summer holidays ahead...

Monday, October 12, 2015

2015 Portraits: September

"Monthly portraits of my girls in 2015"

Sophie: Only four months until this little one begins kindergarten... I am holding onto every little part of this 'home-full-time' phase...

Grace: Finding myself catching more and more glimpses lately of  'young lady' as opposed to 'little girl'...

Joining in with Jodi

Monday, August 31, 2015

Snippets Of Our Week

1. A bunch of daffodils made their way into our trolley earlier in the week as a 'must buy' for Daffodil Day. Our entryway was much cheerier with their presence.

2.  The annual school Book Week dress-up day provided lots of excitement as Grace made accessories for her Ruby Red Shoes costume (the obligatory red shoes she wore are unfortunately out of shot in this photo!)

3. In between the rain, we had a plenty of winter sunshine and spent a lot of time pottering about in the garden, tending to our new seedlings and setting up beer traps for the snails.

4. With several birthday gifts to buy, we stopped at the Fremantle Arts Centre gift shop for some lovely locally handcrafted pieces. This building is one of my favourites in all of Fremantle and gloomy, overcast days only add to its beauty.

5. The girls' gumboots have been a wardrobe staple over the past few months. It won't be long before the weather warms up and they're replaced with sandals...