Christmas is here! We finally set up our Christmas tree last Thursday following much encouragement from our Angus. It brought back so many memories of last year, when we got our Christmas tree up on Christmas Eve, just five days after moving into our new home. It was beautiful to reflect on how much the boys had changed in just twelve months, especially Jamie who was still only sitting a year ago. This time round, he was fully into the entire process, which naturally involved emptying all the ornaments out onto the floor (you can see him doing exactly that if you look closely enough at that top photo) despite specific instructions to the contrary. And in true family tradition, it was only when Nan and Pa visited yesterday that the tree got fully decorated – complete with sparkly white fairy lights. The only thing that’s probably missing is a star or angel to go on the top – but I’ll just put that on the list for next year…

Thank you so much for visiting here, and being a part of the Pink Ronnie community. I’m so happy with how the blog has evolved this year and so very blessed to have met each and every one of you. Thank you for reading, and for leaving such kind words in return. Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas – may it be filled with much joy and laughter. Embrace the ones you love, and I shall be thinking of all of you who are missing loved ones.

(Linking up with Em.)

Maternity series, 23 weeks

It’s slightly bizarre that this tiny one’s due date is now only four months away. Four months. Wow. It is so incredibly exciting. Already this little guy is keeping me up at night with his frequent kicks and punches, and I’m rediscovering the joy of re-arranging pillows around me about a dozen times a night. I love that he’s such an active little boy – I feel like I’m already getting a taste of his personality. And there’s no doubt about it: he already knows his daddy’s voice, as well as his brothers’…

Yes, there is definitely a bump now. I know this because I’ve started asking people to move their chairs out of the way as I squeeze my way through cafes to order my coffee, and for the life of me, I can’t remember what my waist used to look like. I’m also quite certain I’ve begun waddling again, but I might just ask Rick to confirm that to be doubly sure. In all seriousness, it is the most amazing feeling in the world to look down, see a round tummy and know that there is life inside. Being able to bear a child is truly one of life’s miracles, and I am thankful for this miracle every day, especially when I reflect on the devastating tragedy that has taken place in our world recently. My prayers and thoughts continue to be with all those families.

And did I tell you? His name is Edward. Those who know us personally will have already worked this out, because each of our boys’ first names have been carried over from their older brother’s middle name: Cameron Angus, Angus Peter, Peter James, James Edward, and now Edward (his middle name is yet to be made public). Just for fun, we’ve been calling him ‘Bear’ for short. Edward Bear.

Hey there, little bear, we can’t wait to meet you…

(Cardigan by Sunny Girl; dress by Isabella Oliver; sandals by Tony Bianco; necklace belonged to Rick’s late Aunty Alison.)

More from the maternity series here.

Stamped and gifted

I discovered my new love last week, when I purchased this Christmas stamp from Kikki K. I was so impressed with the result that I ended up stamping more Christmas notes than I actually needed. My goodness, stamping is addictive. No wonder why seasoned crafters and scrapbookers keep drawers full of stamps! It’s going to be fun to try and build a small and select collection over the years…

Anyway, my minimalist approach to all things Christmassy has paid off this year. All Christmas cards are written. All our presents are wrapped. All of the preschool teachers’ gifts have been gifted (love those IKEA spice jars – perfect for holding drinking chocolate). Which means with five days to go, we’re pretty much set.

Tomorrow, Angus and I will finish decorating the tree (with ornaments which we already have) and then that will be it. Project Christmas – finito! Nothing left to do but to celebrate Christmas itself.

Can’t wait.

This little guy…

…melts my heart every day. At twenty months, he is cheeky, independent, feisty (so feisty), sweet, compassionate and ridiculously cute. He also has a sense of humour to boot. He’s been the fastest one out of the three boys to talk – phrases and short sentences seem to just roll off his tongue without a hitch. The other day, he even broke into some groovy dance moves while we were eating out – a sight that made me laugh so hard my pad see ew almost got stuck in my throat. I didn’t dare reach for my camera to photograph or video that moment; I didn’t want to risk missing a second of it.

To me, Jamie is still my littlest, my baby. But in reality, he has become a boy. “A little boy” as Angus and Pete like to point out (since they are “the big boys”), but a boy nonetheless. Part of me wishes he could remain my baby forever, but all I can truly do is stand back in awe as I watch him grow, learn and change every day.

I love you little guy, and I am so thankful that you came along when you did.

No, I’m not having twins (thought that would’ve been awesome too). Instead, I’m stoked to finally be able to share the news that I’m part of Becky Higgins’s 2013 Creative Team for Project Life! I can still hardly believe it myself…

This all began about a month and a half ago on a Friday morning when I staggered downstairs in my semi sleep-deprived state to turn on Play School for the boys. Naturally, I decided to flick on my emails as well, and oh my goodness, there was an email from Becky Higgins. Becky Higgins!? I was almost certain I was dreaming at this point. In her lovely email, Becky explained that she’d noticed my Project Life layouts on Instagram and wanted to invite me to submit for the 2013 Creative Team. I’m quite sure I was squealing at some high-pitched frequency at this point, and no doubt the boys thought their mummy was being “a bit funny.” The amazing thing is that I did not wake up Rick straight away to share my over-the-top excitement (since my dear husband only ever gets to sleep in once in a blue moon), but later, I did make a point of comparing it to him receiving an email from the mastermind behind Land Rover (whoever that may be), inviting him to apply to join their design team – or something like that. He got the idea.

Two weeks later, I sent in my sample layouts and another two weeks later (with many sleepless nights in between, I must admit), Becky emailed me again (I don’t think I will ever tire of seeing Becky’s name in my inbox) to let me know that I was successful in becoming part of the new Creative Team! Wow. Wow!!! (Thankfully, Rick by this point had gotten used to my squeals.) The new team would be made of twenty-four women, Becky said, because they’d received so many awesome applications that they couldn’t narrow it down any further. I spent the next week writing up my profile and my lovely friend Alana from Little Rock Photography took some head shots for me. She wanted teeth – so she got teeth. (I am not such a fan myself, but apparently I look more natural when I show my teeth, so there you go.)

None of us knew who the other team members were, as we were going to find out along with the rest of the world in the big reveal that happened this morning. I would not be lying if I told you that Becky made several appearances in my dreams last night. Then this morning, as soon as I woke up, I grabbed my phone (while Rick went off to settle Jamie, bless my dear husband) and logged in to see all the wonderful emails from Becky, Kari (Becky’s amazing marketing director) and all the other women on the team. Finally, the secret was out and we knew who each other were! Needless to say, I feel extremely honoured to be part of this talented group of ladies. I’m a big fan of some of their work, and it was Elise herself who inspired me to jump into Project Life this year!

For those of you Project Lifers here for the first time, welcome! It is truly lovely to have you here. I only began Project Life myself in May this year, but I love it and am totally convinced it’s the best method of memory-keeping out there.

My style is very simplistic and minimalist. I like to let my photos do the story-telling, and I only add words when I think it is necessary. Never under-estimate the power of the photos that you take. I add text and simple graphic embellishments using Adobe InDesign, and I take almost all my Project Life photos on my iPhone. I print my photos at home using a Canon Pixma MP630, which I can highly recommend. I primarily use the Design A pocket pages, but sometimes I’ll add a 6×12 insert or an 8×8 insert – I tend to use the former when I want to include a blog post that I’ve written and the latter for birthday parties.

In terms of the Project Life albums that I keep, I document our family life on a weekly basis in the ‘main album,’ and I also keep a separate Project Life album for each of our boys, which are updated once a month. I have yet to show any of the boys’ albums on the blog, but I plan to start doing this in the new year. It is just such a wonderful way of keeping a record of their young lives. So far, I have not really used any core kit elements in my albums, but next year, I plan on trying to incorporate some of the cards from the Seafoam kit into the children’s albums.

I can honestly say that I love looking through our 2012 Project Life album, and I can’t wait to start building a new one in 2013. This year has been a wonderful one for us in so many ways, and I’m so thankful to have been able to document it using Becky’s amazing scrapbooking system. What a genius she is. Thank you again to her and Kari for including me as part of the Creative Team for 2013, and I look forward to sharing this next part of my Project Life journey with all of you.

You can read my other Project Life posts here.

Materials used: Becky Higgins Design A page protector; Kodak 170gsm glossy photo paper. All photos printed on the Canon MP630 Pixma.

(Linking up with The Mom Creative.)

Made me smile…

…our little drummer / a place for napping / boys running to daddy / rock star hair

The tragic story from Connecticut has been on my mind this entire weekend. I am so grieved for all those families. I can’t look at the photos of those little children who had their lives taken from them without weeping. Before Rick took Angus to preschool this morning, I rushed downstairs in time to give him the biggest embrace and to tell him over and over again how much I loved him. (He, on the other hand, was more concerned with showing me how he could fly like an aeroplane on the couch.). My thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been so harshly thrown into the most terrible grief.

This post is to remind me of all the little things I cherish and am thankful for in my life, even in the midst of such dark times.

What are some things that are making you smile?

(Linking up with Em.)

Gardenia magnifica

I woke up this morning to the heart wrenching news that my friend’s father had passed away. It was like a kick to the stomach, and even though I was on the other side of the world, my heart ached deeply for my friend who must now face a lifetime without his dad.

None of us can escape grief. We are all destined to lose a loved one at some point in our lives. Some of us encounter grief when we are young. Others experience it when they are older. But none of us can escape it.

Everybody’s journey of grief is unique, that much is true. Yet I believe there is a universal truth that binds all grieving together: grief will inevitably outlast sympathy. While flowers and cards may stop arriving on the doorstep, there is no expiry date on grief. It may lessen over time. The pain may dull and ease. But grief never truly goes away.

It hides away inside of us, and emerges when we least expect it. A photo, a ray of light, a string of words, a smell, a musical note – all of these (and more) can trigger the grief, the tears and the heartache that come from losing someone we love.

Amidst the festive carols, the holiday lights and the shiny decorations, let us not forget those amongst us who will be grieving this Christmas. It doesn’t take much to show we care – a note, a letter, a hug and five simple words – “I am thinking of you” – are often more than enough.

* * *

These flowers are gardenia magnifica and they are as fragrant as they are beautiful. They were left over from a wedding service held at our church last Sunday – our first this year. Tomorrow, sadly, there will be a funeral service instead – our fourth this year.

The magnifica was creamy white when we brought it home; eventually it turned yellow before the petals began to wither and crumple.

Such is the ebb and flow of life: transient yet rich with beauty. But though it is transient, we can nonetheless cherish it – every moment of every day.

More flora here.

Project Life, Weeks 37 to 39

I honestly love working every week on our Project Life family album. It’s so nice to see the week in review, and to be able to jot things down while they’re still fresh in my memory. Also, I know it’s cliche to say this, but how quickly has this year flown by? I feel like it was only yesterday that I decided to take the plunge into Project Life. I still remember the satisfaction and excitement that came with completing my very first weekly layout for Week 14. And now, suddenly, there are only three more weeks to go before I start a new album for 2013! Meanwhile, I still have a rather large back log of layouts to post here on the blog before the new year so don’t be surprised if I start lumping four to five weeks in the one post. (Remember you can click on each image for a larger version.)

Week 37 was the week of Cameron’s fifth anniversary. I filled most of this left hand page with photos that I snapped at the Memorial Gardens. The head shot of Rick and myself is particularly special to me, as we always take one together when we go to the Gardens. This year, we included Jamie in the photo which was very lovely (I like that he’s not looking at the camera). There is also a photo of the lovely package that we received from my beautiful friend Jane who never fails to remember Cameron with us every year. Also, some beautiful stationery arrived from Wit & Whistle that week, I decided to include that in the layout to add an extra ‘pretty’ element to the page.

The right hand page continues the theme of remembering Cameron: there were the flowers I bought in his memory; the clothes I wore the day of his actual anniversary; the breakfast we had at our favourite cafe that morning; some comfort food that I indulged in; a ‘Pa and Jamie’ moment when we went to visit Pa and Nan that afternoon; and of course the birthday cake we ate to celebrate Cameron’s fifth birthday. Just looking at these pages now fills me with such bittersweet emotions. I also included an 8×12 insert in which I pasted the words that I wrote in this post.

Week 38 was smack bang in the middle of my first trimester nausea. In an attempt to entice myself to eat, I went back and forth between whipping up my favourite Chinese dishes and buying meat pies at my local cafe. Soup from my mum’s kitchen was also most welcome. And those shots of Jamie and Pete in the laundry baskets just make me smile big time! I will surely miss having both of them at home with me five days a week next year when Pete goes off to preschool…

[click to continue…]

Project Christmas, Part 2

Tonight I’m embarking on Stage 2 of Project Christmas: the writing of Christmas cards. I have my list all finalised and, as you can see, my materials ready to go. I’m extra pleased that I had all this stationery already in my collection. There was a time when I used to write what seemed like hundreds of Christmas cards to extended family and friends from all our different circles. These days, I’ve accepted that this is neither feasible nor sensible. So this year, in an attempt to minimise the stress of this festive season, I’ve tried to keep the list as succinct as possible: immediate family, the boys, Angus’ preschool teachers, Sunday School helpers and people from our church who’ve lost loved ones this year. Now if only the three little boys upstairs will actually go to sleep, I might be able to make a start.

(Stationery featured above by Kikki K and Wit & Whistle).

Big bag of gifts

I am doing well this year. With 17 days to go, I have completed all our Christmas shopping: vouchers, books, toys, jars, drinking chocolate, rolls of wrapping paper and one giant IKEA gift bag. And all done in the space of two days.

Last Christmas, I chose the boys’ presents all by myself but this year, Rick and I did it together and it was so much fun! The boys were with us as well, so I’m kind of hoping they might conveniently forget what they saw us buy in order to be surprised on Christmas day. (Who am I kidding – there is no way that Angus will forget, but I remain hopeful the younger two might.) It’s funny how Rick and I have never been big on buying Christmas gifts for each other, but both of us were quite excited about finding ‘the perfect present’ for each of the boys. Actually, part of me suspects that Rick was picturing playing with the toys himself, but I guess that’s just one of the fringe benefits of being a dad to so many boys!

Next up: writing the Christmas cards, putting together the gifts for Angus’ preschool teachers and wrapping all the presents up. Oh, and the tree. We mustn’t forget the tree.

How are your Christmas preparations going?