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…

Friday, November 30, 2012

Christmas Gifts For Females

So much for my goal to complete my Christmas present shopping before December.  To date, I have bought a grand total of six and a half presents which means I'm still not even half way there.  However, I’m hoping that with a bit of planning beforehand, I can knock everything off in one mammoth shopping trip next week.

Choosing presents for family and friends is actually one of the things I enjoy most about Christmas.  I love coming up with a great idea for a gift I’m confident its recipient will like and take great pleasure in seeing them open their carefully wrapped package. 

Since I’ve known him, Paul’s extended family have always done a Secret Santa for the adults.  For a few Christmases now, following a suggestion I made, we’ve carried things out slightly differently, in a way that involves buying for an unknown recipient and which incorporates a fun, game type twist.  Such a way sees the men buying a present suitable for any male family member and the women doing the same for the females. 

Last year I bought a scented candle.  The year before it was the latest Donna Hay cookbook.  This year, I’m turning to you all for some inspiration.  I need to think of a gift that will be suitable for a female, aged between say 25 and 65 to the value of approximately 50 dollars.  What would you buy? 

Any suggestions from your own wish lists?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

An Important Year Of 'School'

Grace’s kindergarten orientation session yesterday morning went brilliantly, something which surprised me following her behaviour the night before.  In hindsight, I had built things up too much for her before bed.  As I tucked her in, we chatted about her big day ahead and about getting to meet her new teacher before saying goodnight and turning out the light.  However, our conversation must have left Grace lying in bed feeling anxious as she made an appearance in our living room numerous times with excuses of needing to go to the toilet, wanting a sip of water or pleading with me to lie with her.  Sensing her nervousness, I initially responded with compassion and care.  By the third of fourth time, I mumbled something about Father Christmas watching her and she disappeared back to her room without a squeak. 

And so our session yesterday surprised me.  Grace greeted her teacher confidently and introduced herself as well as her little sister.  She skipped off to the drawing activity whilst I sat at another table filling in forms and she then proceeded to give her teacher a full description of what she’d drawn.  She was the only child in our session I heard talk.  When our half hour was over, Grace looked up sadly from her play dough creation and said, “But I don’t want to go home yet Mummy, I want to stay longer.”  I smiled at the teacher and told her I’d been anticipating the opposite reaction.  Of course yesterday, I was still within sight and the transition session in a fortnight’s time where Grace will spend an hour doing activities with her teacher in her new classroom without me will be the real test. 

I returned home yesterday though feeling at ease and with a real sense of peace about the whole kindy journey ahead of us.  Grace’s teacher was warm and sweet natured, greeting the children kindly and making the parents feel welcome and valued.  It left me thinking about what people perceive as the most important year of a child’s primary school education.  As a parent, I can definitely see the significance of that initial experience in a kindergarten or pre-primary learning environment as it sets the scene for the years ahead.  As for my own kindergarten experiences though, I don’t remember much besides the bridal veil in the dress-up corner and the mud pies I made in the sand pit.    

What has been the most important year of schooling from your own experiences?

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Good, The Bad And The Exciting

Today started off on such a good note.  Following my new rule of not venturing out of the house on a Monday (I’ve found following a busy weekend, my girls need to lay low), we’ve stayed home and simply pottered.  Several loads of washing have gone through the machine and been hung out, biscuits have been baked, floors vacuumed and tea is already half prepared.   The girls have spent time happily in the sand patch, made endless play dough creations and camped out in the play tent with their stuffed toys.

However, after a much needed snooze, Grace woke in an even crankier mood and her over the top crying awoke Sophie mid-nap.  I was not a happy mama and angrily sent her outdoors until she had settled herself down.  Sophie refused to go back to sleep though and has become increasingly over-tired as the day has progressed.  Not fun.  To add to the negatives at the moment, I have recently found out that the painful elbow I was putting up with was not a repetitive strain injury after all, but instead, together with a stiff and inflamed knee is part of a rheumatoid arthritis flare up, something I have not experienced in over twenty years.  I am now on anti-inflammatory medication and spend short bouts each day with my knee elevated.  Our heat pack has become my best friend. 

As for the exciting, tomorrow Grace has orientation day at her kindy.   Just a half an hour ‘meet the teacher and tour' of her new classroom, but after months of kindy talk, it is such an important event in this household. We're looking forward to seeing the environment she will be a part of next year and to getting a glimpse into this first big milestone of her schooling days.

How has your start to the week shaped up?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Our Living Room Needs

We’ve been thinking a lot about our home lately and how we can best make use of the floor plan to suit our needs.  On the weekend, Paul came up with a renovating idea, one that has left me mulling over the use of our formal dining room ever since.  His suggestion was to extend our open plan living area to create a slightly bigger space.  Such a project would create a spot where a larger table would be possible, which would take advantage of the small unused part of our patio and if done correctly, hopefully let in more light.

To be honest, I’m not a fan of our other formal dining space.  For one, it is barely used.  Also, I’d prefer such a room to have floorboards rather than be carpeted and if I had my choice now, I would have chosen a more casual, hard-wearing table as well as chairs that weren’t upholstered.  If we had space for a bigger table in our every day living area (possibly a table that could be extended), we wouldn’t even need a formal dining room and that area could be put to better use. 

I think it’s important to make a home work for your needs.  We love our house and look back over the changes we have made since we moved in here and the renovations we’ve carried out with a sense of pride.  However, there are certainly things we could still change to better suit our family. 

Of course, these ideas are all still in the ‘dreaming stage’ and the likelihood of any coming to fruition is a possibility that is still WAY off into the future.  We have a home office to re-jig first and shelving to decide on for either side of our (fake) fireplace before any more major renovations take place.  But Paul’s suggestion has given me a little boost of interior decorating enthusiasm over the past week and the freedom to look back at magazine pages I’d bookmarked and to wonder if spaces I thought were unachievable might be possible after all…

Both images courtesy of Homelife
Photography by Mark Roper / Styling by Indiana Foord

Friday, November 16, 2012

Our New Place Of Calm

In recent weeks, the girls and I have re-discovered a favourite spot, perfect for morning tea picnics, sandcastle building, shell collecting and paddling in the water.  It's a tranquil little part of the river with plenty of shade and plenty to see where we've been spending the odd morning here and there lately.

I know Paul thinks that I take the girls on simple little outings like these when I don’t have anything else to do, or when our friends are all busy and playdates can’t be organised.  On the contrary, I purposely set aside time for little outings like these BECAUSE I have too many ‘to-dos’ and too many people I feel I should be visiting.  Getting out of the house forces me to ignore the lists, the housework and the responsibilities and to simply ‘be’ and enjoy spending time with my girls.

I make time for such mornings just as much for Grace and Sophie as for myself.  Too often I find I'm doing something like sitting with the girls in the sand pit, building shell covered castles and digging moats, only to be distracted by a few weeds peering out from beneath the shrubs beside me.  And then before I know it, I’ve not only pulled those out, but I’ve then taken the washing off the line, tidied up some outdoor toys lying about and watered the vegetable patch instead of playing with the girls.  While I know multi-tasking is part of our lives as Mums, I’m trying to consciously ‘sit and be’ more often as I know these precious toddler and pre-schooler days will be over in the blink of an eye.  

Earlier in the week, Claire from Scissors Paper Rock made reference to a beautifully written post over at Enjoying The Small Things.  As I popped across myself for a read, I discovered some real words of wisdom...

"Nothing is more urgent than being kind to ourselves and present for our families" 

... I'm glad that this week, I've taken this outlook on board, spent quality time with my darlings and enjoyed some moments of calm and tranquility out in the fresh air myself, all of which makes me a better Mum and my girls happier little girls...    

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Snail Mail Fun

About a month back, when Sarah extended an invitation to fellow bloggers to join in her Good Mail Club, I emailed her excitedly, eager to participate.  Let's face it, with our mailboxes these days being filled more often than not with bills and advertising, the prospect of opening it to find something pretty and unexpected sounded wonderful.  However, as I sat down to actually create my own contributions, I must admit to feeling a tad stressed.

When would I find the time to write eight letters and create something to include in each envelope? What on earth would I make?  While I had a few trinkets from my own collections to add, I wanted to put together something I had made myself, something that was somewhat personalized and suited to its recipient.  

I found inspiration for this project one afternoon as Sophie's scalloped pattern birthday invitation jumped out at me from the fridge.  And so, as Grace worked away beside me on a collage picture, I ignored the ever growing washing pile and unswept floors and sat with her and crafted.  Using the same design that I came up with for Sophie's party, I chose 'words of wisdom' to suit each of my fellow bloggers, altered the colours to suit their tastes and came up with the simple quote cards above.  I was really happy with how they turned out and am even thinking of making up some of these to add to a few Christmas presents this year.

As for the envelopes that made their way into my letter box, I received some lovely notecards and ephemera which you can see a glimpse of above.  As chief 'mail box inspector', Grace was thrilled to find the colourful, postage stamp covered packages that were delivered to us.

After the initial stress subsided, in the end, the lesson I gained most out of this fun project was the importance of taking time out of the hectic pace of daily life more often to enjoy simple pleasures like crafting, a hobby which I can not only share with Grace, but one which encourages me to take time to 'be' and to relax... something I am going to try hard to take on board in these coming months... 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Sad 'Lasts'

While this past year with Sophie has been filled with exciting 'firsts', it has seen us do lots of things for the last time too.  There was the last time I let her fall asleep on me on the couch at night.  The last time I put her to bed in the bassinet before her move to the cot.  The last time I dragged myself down to the nursery to feed her in the wee hours of the morning.  This time last week, it was the last time I gave her a breast feed.  After 12 and a half months of doing so, this one was a sad milestone for me, especially seeing as our family is now complete and no more babies are on the cards.

Breastfeeding definitely hasn't always been smooth sailing for the two of us though.  I had issues in the early days due to my oversupply of milk and feeding created a bit of a vicious cycle.  When Sophie was unsettled, a breastfeed was the only thing that seemed to settle her and yet unknowingly, this ‘over feeding’ was contributing to her pain with her little belly unable to cope with the huge amounts of milk. After our hospital visit at around seven weeks, we began shorter five or ten minute feeds, offering only one side at a time and things drastically improved.  Feeding was once again a peaceful experience that I cherished and while I did get the odd blocked duct here and there, I loved our little ‘milk bar sessions’ throughout the day.  However, as much as I loved feeding my girls and as much as I know I will miss it with Sophie, I know in my heart the time is right for us to stop.  

Now, Sophie’s feeds are carried out in a slightly different manner, but I still get my quota of snuggles nonetheless.  I’m trying her out on a2 milk and she drinks it from a small sippy cup by herself, usually on the go whilst playing.  However, our night time cup is enjoyed cuddled up on the couch together and is one of the few times our little wriggly worm will actually sit still. And just like in the picture above displayed in Sophie's room (an adored gift given to me by lovely Jane), after her milk, before I put her into the cot for the night, I pop her into her sleeping bag, turn out the lamp and she nestles her little head into my shoulder, wraps her arms around me and tugs affectionately on my hair. I'm happy that we can still enjoy our precious cuddles with one another just as we did throughout all those months of breastfeeding.

For those interested, the illustration above is a photo of a framed greeting card in Sophie's nursery by Anita Jeram (illustrator of the popular children's book 'Guess How Much I Love You')  This print is called 'Hold Me Tight' and is available at Two Bad Mice.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Creating Christmas Traditions

One of the best things about being a Mum at this time of year is being able to create special Christmas traditions for my girls.  This year, I'm keen to try and make my own Advent Calendar. As well as having a visual countdown, I want to include a whole bunch of fun activities for us to do together, as well as a few treats for the girls to open.

I've been thinking back to my own childhood and bugging Paul for memories of his own so that I can include some of these onto the calendar I make.  I love that we're able to come up with a unique own set of Christmas traditions now that we have a little family of our own.  Christmas Eve will definitely be 'open one small present', just as both of us were allowed to do on the night before Christmas and the first day of December will be 'put up the Christmas tree'.

As for the calendar itself, I haven't decided yet which style I'll go with.  I love the look of the tree one above, made from paint sample cards but the ready made one below from Create Lovely on Etsy is enticing too.  With only 23 days left of this month though, I'd better hurry up and decide...

Which Christmas traditions did your family have when you were growing up and which ones have you continued with your own family today?

Image #1 from A Simple Nest
Image #2 from Create Lovely

Friday, November 2, 2012

Embracing November

November last year was a definite 'blink and miss it' month for me.  I hadn't long been home with newborn Sophie and with her suffering from terrible colic and in extreme discomfort after every breastfeed, combined with my surge of new Mama hormones making me emotional and teary, I was feeling overwhelmed trying to divide my attention between my two little ones. I simply focused on getting through each sleep deprived day as best I could, waiting for the time when things would finally settle down. Up until Christmas really, I was feeling rather frazzled and after the situation with Sophie reached a peak and we ended up in the children's ward in Fremantle Hospital (which thankfully led to us discovering her discomfort was due to lactose overload), Christmas appeared out of nowhere and it was soon the new year.

Fast forward to the same month in 2012 and Sophie's milestone first birthday is now out of the way and I have made the decision to be kind to myself and not host my usual Pink Ribbon Day Fundraiser as I have done for the past three years.  With various functions already being penned in on our calendar for the coming months, I want our days ahead to be kept slow paced and filled with things like time spent pottering around the home, catch ups with friends and their little ones and lots of fun together as a family.

And so, this November, I'm going to take in all the things that I missed last year. I want to appreciate the beauty of our star jasmine bush outside our back door, currently exploding in an abundance of blooms and smelling unbelievable.  I want to spend time in the backyard with the girls, having picnics and tea parties beneath the shade of our bottlebrush.  I want to continue with my spring cleaning projects and hopefully finish before spring is over and summer is upon us. I'm hoping to get all of my Christmas gift shopping out of the way and to do it as stress-free as possible (unlike last year when I was madly running around the shops in the final days of December).  I want to enjoy the warmer weather and the treat of being able to eat outdoors in the evening.  I want to finally join in with the Photo A Day challenge and hopefully capture some great memories along the way... 

How about you?  How is your November shaping up?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Point And Shoot: Our Sunday

A perfect Sunday was had in our little household yesterday and fortunately, I had my camera with me to take some shots throughout the day...

We started off with an early breakfast at one of our regular haunts.  We were actually able to relax and enjoy our meals for once, with Sophie happy to sit in the high chair 'people watching' and sharing bites from our plates.


With a bit of bribery, Grace obliged as my model while I played around with our camera in manual mode, trying to practise using different settings.  I was happy to snap this sweet photo of her among the many shots I took.


We dragged out the slip and slide for the girls early in the morning, before it became too hot, so that they could have some fun and cool down a bit (it got to 35 degrees here in Perth yesterday). Sophie loved it almost as much as Grace and was fearless as the two of them scooted down the plastic together.

It became rather overcast and started to drizzle a bit in the afternoon so while Sophie (exhausted from the mornings antics) napped and Grace played quietly in her room for a bit, Paul and I managed to get stuck into some tidying - him in the shed, me in the study.  Huge progress was made on my part I'm happy to say.

Since it was still balmy as evening approached, we put the picnic rug out on the back lawn and had fish and chips together as a bit of a treat.  And then, as the sun went down, we let Grace have her first experience with a few sparklers.  I loved seeing the look of amazement on her face as they began fizzing.

What did the weekend look like at your place?

Linking up with Lou's Point And Shoot

Friday, October 26, 2012

Sophie's 1st Birthday Party

Sophie's first birthday party last weekend was by far my favourite party I've put together.  I'm not sure if it's because blue and white is my favourite colour combination or if because by now, after hosting several children's birthday parties I know what works for me and how I best organize things with as little stress as possible.  Either way, it was a wonderful morning celebrating the first birthday of our little girl with close family and friends.

Decorations consisted of a simple photo board, fabric bunting which I had sewn, jars of daisies wrapped in gingham ribbon, washi tape cupcake flags and checked tablecloths.  I also designed some bag toppers for the party favours which coordinated with the invites I had made.

We had some smaller tables set up under our patio but with the morning becoming quite hot, most guests congregated under the shady corner of our backyard where we had picnic blankets spread out, a picnic basket filled with baby toys and our sand pit close by for the little ones to play in.  The good old slippery dip was brought out at the end of the party too.

As for the cake and all of those fondant daisies I made, I'm not sure my photos do it justice.  I really wish I had a better shot that showed more detail as it looks smaller here than in real life and the icing was a pale lemon and not so yellow. I baked two simple butter cakes (I wasn't sure if one would be enough for all our guests) and smothered them in frosting before adding the daisies on at the last minute.


And as exhausted as we all were that afternoon (and the following day) we had a wonderful time celebrating.  Our mix of guests really made for a fantastic party, we had blue sunny skies (lucky considering it rained on Monday) and there was enough delicious food to go around... a perfect party combination in my books...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Our Wednesday

After all the party preparations of last week, this one has been nice and calm and slow-paced so far, free of deadlines and 'to-dos' and full of play, pottering and left over birthday cake.

One nice surprise this morning was a package that arrived on our doorstep.  Wanting to add a bit of a vintage vibe to Sophie's nursery among all the newer items, I'd been searching on Etsy for a cute ornament of some sort.  After spotting the trio of white swans above at The Vagrant Duck, I ordered them as part of her birthday present.  I chose well as Sophie kicked her chubby little legs in excitement and made her own version of a quacking noise when she saw them sitting on our kitchen bench.  I can't wait to get her shelves up now so I can display them.

The rest of our day has been spent catching up on washing while it's been good drying weather, spring-cleaning Sophie's wardrobe and tending to our vegetable patch.  I've also been sorting through the photos I took on Sunday so I can share some of them with you soon.  Be sure to pop back at the end of the week for a post about Sophie's first birthday party...

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sophie Is One!

About a month ago, we finally got around to selling Sophie's bassinet.  As I watched it being carried away, a pang of sadness hit me then and there... I suddenly realised my baby was growing up, much quicker than it felt like she should be.  Over the past few weeks since then, she's changed more and more every day as she's reached new milestones and stages.  Just like that, she's gone from a baby to a little girl.  And as excited as I am about all the wonderful times ahead of us, I can't help but feel sad and wish that it were possible to slow down the months a teeny bit.

The past year has been such a special one.  Watching Sophie develop her own personality with her unique little quirks and mannerisms has been so precious.  She is happy, smiley, cheeky, strong-willed, adventurous and oh so lovable and she lights up our world with her presence.

On this very day twelve months ago, we were waiting with excitement to meet our baby.  One year on, our family life is all the more richer having our little girl a part of it.

Monday, October 15, 2012

One Weekend Wonder: 197 Daisies

Over the weekend, I have been slowly making fondant daisies for Sophie's birthday cake  (the photo above shows only a quarter of those I have created).  Back when I first posted about my vision for her party and the picnic theme I was picturing , I was still unsure on the cake, until Catherine left a comment suggesting tying in the flowers on my inspiration board in some way.  A bit of Googling had me deciding on a simple round cake with buttercream frosting, covered in a sprinkling of edible daisies.  However, with pre-made sugar decorations costing around fifty cents each, I instead bought myself two cutters and a pack of fondant icing and added the task of making a whole bunch of these to my party preparations.

I must admit, this activity lost its novelty factor about halfway through and became a tad tiring (although making these flowers is actually very easy).  I now understand why prettily decorated wedding cakes are so expensive.  However, one positive that came from this repetitive task was that it gave me time to sit and think and reminisce...

As I worked away, I thought back to where I was at this time last year... three days away from my due date.. Sophie was head down after having been 'turned' a few weeks earlier when we discovered she was breech.  My labour bag had been packed, complete with presents for my big girl for each day she would visit me in hospital.  Grace's patchwork quilt had been finally sewn (my one 'must-do' on my list of 'nesting tasks'.)  My round belly (whilst small and compact) was becoming increasingly uncomfortable.  I was feeling a mixture of emotions... excitement at being able to finally meet our precious bub and also apprehension about how I would adjust to being a Mama to two little ones.

And yesterday, as I continued on with my mundane task and made daisy after daisy and became lost in my thoughts, I looked over to Grace and Sophie playing in the living room beside me and realised  how lucky I am to be at this point, one year on, with my precious little family and this life I am so blessed to have...

Pop over to Claire's One Weekend Wonder Link-Up to see what others have been up to this weekend...

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Pile Of Postage Stamps

As a little girl, I went through a phase where I loved collecting stamps.  I can still picture that first stamp album of mine, a bright purple covered book, inside which I allocated several pages to Australian stamps as well as different pages for international ones.  I used to love cutting stamps off old envelopes, waiting patiently as they soaked before taking great care to arrange them neatly.

For as long as I remember, my Nanna always collected stamps.  She would buy a set of each new Australian design that came out and a stamp bulletin would arrive in her letterbox every month.  I used to love when she let me carefully browse through her collection. 

Over the years, my passion for this hobby disappeared and so too did that old purple stamp album of mine.  My Mum did however keep most of my old Australia stamps, and so recently, when I asked if she still had them for me to give Grace, she was able to pass on a nice little bundle to her.  Grace has been using them for some craft activities.  Some she glues into a little notebook I’ve given her, sorting and categorising them into pages of ‘bird stamps’ and ‘flower stamps’ and ‘Queen stamps’.  Others have become part of her play at letter writing and playing 'postie'.  

I’ve even kept a little bundle of these stamps aside myself, with the possibility of using some on a little craft project of my own.  I’m keen to try and cover a box with them decoupage-style or to even attempt something like the postage stamp artworks I've seen on Etsy by Butterfly Mind Vintage and Stamposaurus.

As for those albums of my Nanna’s, several years ago, they made their way to our home and into my possession.  I dragged them out again the other day for the first time since I’d been given them and let Grace sit with me as I looked over each page.  We picked out our favourite stamps and talked about all the designs and pictures.  This is one of the things I love about being a Mum – being able to share in past hobbies and passions with my girls and reliving those special moments from my own childhood.

Who knew something as simple as an old pile of postage stamps could bring so much joy to a three year old?

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Tiny Bit Of Nursery Progress

Last Friday, whilst visiting a friend who had recently given birth to her third baby, she shared her disappointment with me that she had yet to finish decorating her baby girl’s nursery. The walls still had to be repainted, piles of baby clothes and gifts needed to be sorted through and a bookshelf was waiting to be styled. However, when I told her that poor Sophie (whose first birthday is approaching in less than two weeks) was still sleeping in her incomplete room, she said she felt much better.

I on the other hand did not. Despite being up to my armpits in party preparations at the moment, on Saturday, I decided enough was enough and promised myself to cross at least one thing off my ‘nursery decorating list’.

So, while Paul took the girls and Asha to the river for a splash, out came my sewing machine. Using a great tutorial I found online, I managed to whip up the bobble trim cushion cover I’ve been meaning to make for some time now.

Progress is finally happening (albeit slowly as with most things in my household) and I’m more eager than ever now to finish decorating this room. I’m ordering a mobile from Etsy seller The Butter Flying, have some prints to frame and just need to put the final coat on the floating shelves I’m making (with Mum’s partner’s help) before I can put them up and arrange some bits and bobs to display. I also sewed a basket liner on Saturday, but after finishing it, decided it was too dark a shade of aqua (I’m going for a more mint green) and so I now need to take a trip to Spotlight for some new fabric before I can attempt ‘take two’.

As for this week, among a few play-dates and catch-ups with friends, I’m dedicating it to making party decorations. I have bunting to finish sewing, goodie bags to put together, first year photos to print, tablecloths to wash and fondant flowers to finish creating. I’m aiming to make something each day and am hoping come the weekend, I’ll be done. That will leave me next week to focus solely on preparing all the food.

Wish me luck!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Bits And Pieces From Our Week

Sometimes I go through lulls where I wonder if anyone is interested in the simple little daily tidbits I post about.  Today, I'm putting those fears aside and sharing some snippets of what we've been up to this week...

... Grace spent Sunday afternoon with her Daddy, uncle and cousin on the family boat enjoying a cruise up the river...

... we spent the morning of the Monday public holiday at the Royal Show... Grace was excited to ride on a carousel 'like Mary Poppins'...

... we've spent some warm sunny days in the garden, finally finishing off the mulching we started the weekend before (would you believe there are already onion weeds appearing!) and the girls had lots of fun on their bikes...

... I designed Sophie's first birthday party invites, printed them on textured card and they have been posted...

... we've picked rose after rose from the flourish of blooms on our Double Delight bushes - their scent is truly breathtaking...

As for the weekend ahead, I'm hoping to finish making decorations and goodie bags for Sophie's party but other than that, I'm hoping for a few days of slow-paced, simple pottering around our home.