Monday, December 31, 2012

A New Year, A New Motto

My motto for 2012 was to live in the ‘now’ and to take each day as it came... and I think I definitely did so, spending days and weeks enjoying simple pleasures with the girls once life slowly settled down and fell into a rhythm with Sophie.  I learnt to lower my expectations, to accept untidiness and incomplete to-do lists and to be content with all that surrounded me.  I practised mindfulness and gratitude as often as I could. 

However, looking back at photos from the start of this year, I feel as though I’m looking at shots from years ago.  Our girls look SO different and I find it unbelievable that they’ve both changed so much in what has only been a twelve month period of time.  Being aware of the simple delights the girls bring to our lives in these precious childhood years feels more important now than ever.  

This coming year, I’ve chosen a focus word for 2013, a word to guide my actions, my plans, my daily life and my attitude… NURTURE.  I want to continue to nurture my two girls – Sophie as she develops each and every day into more of a little girl and Grace as she begins her adventures at kindergarten.  I want to nurture my relationship with Paul as well as my relationships with friends and other family members.  However, most importantly, I want to nurture myself.  It’s time for me to eat healthier, to get stronger and fitter, to overhaul my wardrobe and to hopefully get my rheumatoid arthritis under control. I am hoping 2013 will be a year of positive changes, growth and above all, much happiness in our household. 

Wishing you all a joyous start to the New Year too…

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas 2012

When Grace crept down to our room on Christmas morning, I braced myself for an early start to our day.  Instead, she cuddled up beside me and drifted back to sleep, not waking until around seven thirty when her little sister thought it was time to get the fun started.  As she sat up, I asked, "Do you remember what day it is today?"

She looked at me quizzically before replying... "Wednesday?"

I started the morning with camera in hand.  A few shots later, and it remained untouched for the rest of the day as I instead enjoyed the company of my loved ones and delighted in their excited faces and all the fun as presents were opened and time was spent together.

We had a quiet few hours at home with a special breakfast of homemade waffles and fruit, enjoying our gifts and some down time before the big day ahead.  Lunch was at my Uncle's with extended family on my side and our night time celebration was with Paul's extended family at our house.  With an extremely over tired Sophie tucked up in her own cot and Grace running happily around on our lawn with her cousins, I looked around on Christmas night at all the smiling faces and thought about how lucky we are to have a yard large enough to comfortably host our ever growing family.

Christmas was fun filled and celebratory but quite tiring and today has thankfully been much slower paced, just as Boxing Day should be in my eyes.  We've gradually gone through and put away our gifts, stacked and un-stacked the dishwasher several times, had a swim in the neighbours' pool (they are away on holidays for several weeks and have encouraged us to use it... much welcomed with the heat wave ahead of us here in Perth), nibbled on left overs and caught up on some sleep with afternoon naps all round.  I'm hoping this pattern of days spent lazily at home relaxing and enjoying some quiet time together continues.

I hope your Christmas was a magical one too...

Friday, December 21, 2012

A Relaxing Lead-Up To Christmas

It seems a short break from blogging was just what I needed in order to get myself feeling more organised, balanced and in control at what can be a chaotic time of year.  The lead-up to Christmas in our household this week has been very chilled indeed.  With all my gift shopping out of the way earlier in December, I've really enjoyed the past few weeks of Christmas excitement with the girls.

Our Advent calendar activities have been a hit and are a tradition I plan on continuing in future years. Each morning when she wakes, Grace is eager to see what the day's activity will be and excitedly counts the remaining days left until the 25th.

We've been busy baking and decorating gingerbread men, cooking (and eating) chocolate fudge, doing LOTS of Christmas crafts, making cards for family members, wrapping gifts with handmade wrapping paper (you can see Grace's potato print tree-stamped brown paper in the top photo), been to visit Father Christmas, taken a drive to see the Christmas lights, sung Christmas carols and soaked up all the magic that is in the air at this time of year.  Knowing what a busy day next Tuesday will be, we've chosen to avoid the crazy crowds and stayed fairly close to home this week. In between our Advent fun, we've been tidying and pottering and getting our house all set to host Christmas night for 30 guests.  

And so for now, I'll sign off for the Christmas break.  Thank you all for stopping by this space of mine throughout the year, for leaving much appreciated comments and for making my blogging experience all the more richer. I wish each and every one of you a safe and happy Christmas with your loved ones...

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Busy Week Ahead...

Just letting you know I'm taking a break from this little space of mine for a week or so to focus on some other areas of my life demanding my attention at the moment... doing Advent activities with my girls (I will be sure to post about these soon), organising myself for Christmas (I only have one present left to buy but twenty six I still need to wrap, gift tags to craft and goodies to bake), getting on top of things housework-wise (my study is still calling me, my 'clutter basket' is overflowing and I have just received a late notice for yet another overdue bill) and needing to attend several appointments.

I'll be back with some post-worthy content to share with you all soon once I feel my little world is more balanced...

Photography by Spike Powell for housetohome

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Our ‘Unglamorous’ Christmas Tree

As a little girl, decorating our Christmas tree was SUCH an exciting event.  Our tree was very basic, a simple sparkly-branched type no more than three or four feet high.  However, I can still remember most of the contents of our decoration box fondly… the multi-coloured lights that would blink on and off, the pretty little angel with her wispy white-blonde hair and rosy cheeks, the fat jolly kitsch-looking Santas and the tiny colourful presents of which the purple and gold were always my favourites. 

When I moved into my own home, I had visions of a stylishly decorated tree, one that stuck to a simple colour scheme and had ornaments neatly balanced amongst the branches.  Baubles were evenly placed, large ornaments kept towards the bottom of the tree and tinsel was not favoured. 

Now that I have children, my idea of what makes a Christmas tree special has changed somewhat.  The importance of our tree is no longer placed on how it looks, but on the tradition of decorating it together as a family and the sentimental value behind each ornament.  There is tinsel (which Grace thinks is the bees knees in all its shimmering glory), baubles are squashed together in some parts, homemade creations adorn several branches and the colour scheme we’ve gone with is definitely best described as ‘eclectic’.  But the look of joy and wonder on Grace and Sophie’s faces as they helped decorate our tree last weekend confirmed that it was perfect.

As many others do, each year I buy the girls an ornament, with the intention that they will both have a boxful to take with them when they one day leave home…a collection of decorations that they will hopefully drag out with fondness and use to decorate their own trees.  I’m hoping that as they do so, memories of the tree from their childhood will come flooding back and they will recall all the fun we had decorating ours together as a family…
The top handmade ceramic snowflake ornament was crafted by Paul's cousin's wife Sarah.
The Willow Tree ornament was a gift from one of my past dear students.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Our 'Chipped Tooth' Toddler

I was slightly devastated last night.  Earlier in the day, in an attempt to get her little sister into the swing, Grace pushed the seat into Sophie and knocked her flat on her face.  It wasn’t until bedtime however as I was tucking her into her sleep suit, that I noticed a tiny corner of one of her front teeth had been chipped.  Yes I know it was a minor incident, that she could have sustained a far more serious injury, that it’s only her baby tooth and that the same thing could have happened anyway as she toddled around on the patio.  It’s just that she had such a perfect little set of front teeth.  Sure, she had a small gap between those two toothy pegs, but they lined up beautifully.  The chip is barely noticeable to anyone else, it's just I can’t help but feel a bit of mama guilt that I should have been more vigilant, checking to see if Grace had closed the back door after she’d gone out to play… hindsight can be cruel.

In happier events, after weeks of teasing us with steps and standing, Sophie is now officially walking - on her own terms when it suits her, but a definite milestone to write down in her baby book under 13 months, the same age Grace was when she took her first steps…yet another sign that our baby has blossomed into a little girl.

Have a lovely start to the week everyone…