September 2012

This morning, all five of us packed into the car to see our obstetrician.

Inside that familiar room, we saw what we had hoped to see on the ultrasound machine: our newest little family member, already with a perfectly formed body, wriggling around and waving to us.

In that instant, my heart expanded.

Afterwards in the car, I wept a little – tiny tears of joy and love trickled down my face as I thanked God for this new beginning. This new blessing.

We are all incredibly excited – Rick, myself, and the three boys. Even Jamie understands that there is a baby in “mummy’s tummy,” and all three of them have been taking it in turns to kiss said tummy. Meanwhile, Rick and I keep looking at each other with awe, with wonderment, with thankfulness, and with love. It is such a miracle to be able to create life together.

It is no secret that Rick and I want a big family. This wasn’t always the case. But after we lost Cameron, it struck us both how children are indeed a precious, precious gift from God. The night we came home from the hospital after Cam had died, God put it on both our hearts to have many more children. Five years on, we both still feel the same way.

Of course, none of this is in our control. Every pregnancy is a miracle, and every baby that safely arrives into this world is a miracle. This I know with every cell of my being. Whenever I look at Angus, Pete and Jamie walking, talking, playing, fighting, crying, yelling, eating, laughing, smiling, singing, etc., I can’t help but be reminded of what a gift they are. I can’t believe that they are here, that they came from inside me, that they are alive, healthy and growing. Sure, they drive us crazy every day (think car trips and meal times), but neither of us can imagine our lives without them.

As this new little baby continues to grow, it is my heartfelt prayer that God will sustain his/her life, and that s/he will be born safely. One thing is certain my friends: no matter what happens, we love this child from the bottom of our hearts.

I am only just coming to the end of my first trimester, hence my extreme exhaustion and my nausea. It is hard for me to sit still and take a step back from projects, but for now, resting is a top priority. It’s what I need, and what the baby needs.

I look forward to sharing the next seven months with you – thank you as always for reading along! It means the world to me.

(I write all this knowing that some of you reading this have also lost children, and that some of you bear the burden of infertility. My heart goes out to you, and I hope this post has not brought you too much additional pain. It truly breaks my heart that we live in such a broken world…)

It’s been almost ten months now since I last purchased a piece of clothing or a pair of shoes or a bag or a piece of jewellery, and the exciting part is that I still have no desire or inclination whatsoever to actually buy anything. This has been seriously liberating and it’s also helped our family finances immensely.

I have not always been like this. In fact, ever since I started earning money back in my late teens, I’ve been guilty of spending way too much money on clothes and accessories, often racking up unnecessary credit card debt and sometimes making plain bad purchasing choices.

The funny thing is that I didn’t start out by consciously imposing a year-long spending freeze on myself. Instead, I just decided that I didn’t need to buy anything new and that it would be nice to stop spending money on clothes and other stuff that I didn’t need. From there on, I simply found that the more I didn’t buy anything, the more I didn’t want to buy anything. Eventually I discovered that I automatically stopped looking at clothes at the shops, and I even stopped logging onto online stores as well.

Honestly, I can’t tell you how nice it is to not have to feel nervous about receiving packages at home and having to explain to Rick why I needed yet another different pair of shoes or pants. You ladies with husbands know what I mean, right?

But most of all, I’ve loved feeling content with what I have. I love not looking at my wardrobe and thinking to myself that I need this and this and that to make my wardrobe ‘complete’. I love just being happy with the clothes and the other things that I have now.

It’s hard, though, especially when we’re bombarded every day with all the new things that we can and “should” (supposedly) buy. Here are some things that I’ve worked out along the way that have helped me to be happy with what I already have:

It’s actually socially acceptable to wear the same outfit.
You don’t need a new dress for every single event that you attend. Sounds like a no-brainer but when I was younger, I seriously used to think that I needed something new to wear for every special occasion. Uh uh. Turns out this was a self-concocted myth and when you think about it, quite egotistic of me to think that anyone would care that I was wearing the same thing more than once! I am no celebrity, after all. These days, I just wear the same outfit for 1-2 weeks in a row (unless of course they get really dirty). Saves washing, saves having to come up with something new every day, and so far, no-one has complained… (Edit: Rick has since read this post and would like me to clarify that I do change my ‘under things’ and that because I sit at my desk for a lot of the day, I do not get sweaty. Oh, and that I will wash my clothes more frequently in summer. Thank you husband, for upholding my reputation.)

‘Classics’ and ‘essentials’ are actually not essentials.
You know all those pieces that fashion magazines tell you that you ‘have’ to have? The ones that supposedly never go out of style? The little black dress, the white shirt, the black blazer, the grey shift dress, the leather jacket, the trench coat, the skinny jeans, the leather boots, the red heels…. I could go on and on. Well, I used to be totally convinced that I ‘had’ to have all those ‘essentials.’ In fact, I had a list of them, and would check each item off as I finally made such a purchase. (Sad, right?) It meant that I was always aspiring to ‘complete’ my wardrobe in a sense, and I was never content with what I already had. But quite frankly, these so-called ‘essentials’ are not essential at all. Sure, they may be among the more versatile items of clothing out there, but that doesn’t mean that you have to own one. Nor does it mean that it’s something that might actually suit your style! I’ll be the first to admit that I have a plethora of black dresses as they’re one of my staples, but in the last year, I’ve purged black blazers, leather jackets, trench coats from my closet because I finally worked out that I don’t like wearing them. The key is to work out what you like and make them work for you. Don’t be deceived that you really ‘must have’ all those ‘essentials.’

Pinterest can offer too many temptations.
I think Pinterest is a great way for cataloguing and sharing things with other people, but if you spend too much time on there, you can end up wanting too many things. And more often then not, they’re things that you don’t actually need.

You don’t need to sport a hundred different looks.
Every season, retailers and magazines bombard us with ‘the new looks’ for the season. And every day, fashion and lifestyle bloggers tantalise us with all the different outfits that they so creatively manage to pull together. It can be easy to be sucked into all this, and feel like we need to get into the new season looks or that we need to copy what all our favourite bloggers are doing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of some life/style bloggers and like reading what they have to post every day. A few in particular have really helped me to work out my own personal style. But now that I know what I like, I’ve become quite immune to all the other different looks and styles that I encounter online every day. I can read a post and be able to enjoy/admire it and not feel like I need to go out and buy similar pieces to recreate the same look. Which leads to my next point…

You need to just be you.
Just because something looks good on someone else, it doesn’t mean it will look good on you. (Trust me, I know.) And even if it does, it doesn’t actually mean you need to have the same thing. Let them be them, and you be you.

* * *

Do you have any similar tips to share?

p.s. Because it’s now spring here in Sydney, I’m going to start purging my closet once more. Who’s interested in purging along?

You can read all of The Happy Closet posts here.

(Linking up with Grace.)

These days…

…I’ve been feeling extremely tired and needing to rest whenever the boys are down. I’ve had to focus on less rather than more. The days are rolling by slowly yet also blurring into each other. I’ve been watching Rick work long days and long nights, every day. He is one amazing man, my husband. The boys are growing up day by day, and constantly amusing me with their endless antics. I just love how they have each other.

Project Life, Weeks 25 and 26

It’s been so long since my last Project Life update, that it’s back to showcasing two weeks per post! I have to admit, I fell behind a bit during our family holiday which meant that last week I had five whole weeks to catch up on! That was no small feat. It’s definitely nice to feel that I’m back on track now. (Remember you can click on the photos for larger images.)

Week 25 seems so long ago now. Clearly, it was in the middle of winter given Jamie’s attire. It was also a week of comfort food, with homemade pizza by Rick and Chinese rice congee by me. I also love that photo of the three boys (top right) lined up against the windowsill in our dining room, cooking together. They can be pretty cute sometimes.

In case anybody is curious, the last photo in the second row is a red date drink that I like to make when I don’t feel like drinking tea or coffee. My mum got me onto it a few years ago and I’ve been addicted since. It’s easy to make and it’s good for your blood (supposedly). You just boil eight dried red dates with a couple of honey dates in a few inches of water in a small saucepan, leaving it to simmer for about ten minutes and voila! A healthy and delicious caffeine replacement.

Oh, and who doesn’t love seeing an overflowing fruit bowl?

Week 26 was when I started taking photos during the golden hour (top right). It’s one of my favourite photos because it takes the eye awhile to work out that there are actually four people in that shot, amidst all that beautiful golden haze. Jamie discovered he loved rolling around on my sheepskin that week, and I discovered the beautiful tiled floor at the nearby Pattison’s Pattiserie (their coffee is amazing too!). Rick managed a nap and the boys received some a new train set from Nan.

On the right hand page, I included a few photos from Rick’s sister’s birthday brunch, bordered by photos of the boys at home (and some Chinese BBQ pork buns). I love that last one in particular (bottom right) because they were pretending that a stripy sock of Jamie’s was a little kitty that they’d trapped inside the laundry basket. Seriously, for five minutes or more, they were all going “Here, kitty, kitty” to a baby sock. It’s moments like this that I want to remember in years to come.

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…

…flowers for Cameron / a jumping boy / a moment with Grandpa / comfort food

Yes, today is an incredibly sad day. It was exactly five years ago tonight that we found out that Cameron had died. In a dark hospital room, we were told he had no heartbeat. In that one moment, our lives were forever changed. Yet despite the painful memories of that day, and all the tears that have flowed this week, somehow by God’s grace, there were still things that made me smile today.

Thank you to everyone for your love and prayers.

It hurts.

It is that time of the year again.

This entire week, I have been re-living that last week of Cameron’s life. A memory here. A memory there. Enveloping me when I least expect it.

Tears. They have come. And they have gone. And they have come again.

I have stayed at home all week. Trying to take it easy. Looking after the boys. Resting whenever I can. Soaking in the boys at every opportunity.

It does not escape me how blessed I am. To have these three gorgeous boys in my life. They are such a blessing. Such a blessing.

They have seen their mummy cry this week, and they have all been so sweet. Even little Jamie who is only one and a half knows how to smile his precious smile to help ease mummy’s pain. Pete, in particular, has been so caring – putting his forehead on mine whenever he sees me in tears. “Mummy sad?” he would ask me. “Yes, mummy sad.”

This week I’ve realised that a mother’s guilt never goes away. Even five years on, I still fear that I caused Cameron’s death. That had I been less pre-occupied that week with the design job I had on, he would’ve arrived earlier. And lived.

Those last five days of Cameron’s life haunt me. Monday was his due date. Tuesday we went to see our doctor. Wednesday and Thursday I was still working on the client’s magazine. Friday night we went out to a friend’s farewell…

Saturday, he died.

It haunts me that no matter how many times that week replays itself in my head, I cannot change the outcome.

All I have are my ‘if onlys’.

If only we’d induced him that Tuesday.

If only I hadn’t been working up till that week.

If only I’d slowed down.

If only I’d paid more attention to his movements that Friday.

If only we hadn’t gone out that night.

If only we’d booked an earlier induction date than the following Monday.

If only.

If only.

I have been so short on words this week. Too tired to actually verbalise what I am feeling inside.

But it comes down to this: Cameron is gone. And it hurts.

I love him. I miss him. And it hurts.

I wish he hadn’t died. I wish he were alive.

It hurts.

Photo above: Rick and our other three boys at Akuna Bay.

The theme for The Creativity Project this month is ‘Life at my house’ – inspired by Susan Keller’s photography work, which focuses on home life documentary. Here is my small collection – carefully curated to give you a glimpse of the rhythm to our days…

From top to bottom: Early morning light filtering through the curtains; the boys looking through an old photo album during their play time; a bit of climbing fun on the green couch; midday nap; the view when I wake up from my nap; precious one-on-one time with daddy in the afternoon; the last rays of light for the day; nighttime bottle.

Make sure you follow the circle and visit Becky at Life with Kaishon.

One of our parishioners lives right next to church, and has a garden full of flowers. About a week or so ago, she asked Angus to go over to her place with Rick’s mum and together, they picked out a bunch of flowers to bring home. There’s something raw about fresh flowers from someone’s garden that is simply irresistible, don’t you think? Plus, the lavender smelt absolutely amazing, and the blue forget-me-nots seemed poetically appropriate seeing as this was Cameron’s month.

Anyway, I’ve been taking it easy these last few days as this week I finally completed a list of projects that has been on my radar since back in June. Two nights ago, I even worked through and lodged our tax returns in one sitting, and so as a reward, I’ve been allowing myself to actually relax (something I’m terrible at) and – the ultimate luxury in my opinion – to read a book (Amy Tan, in case you’re curious). Next week, however, I am eager to get back into writing and creating more content for the blog.

In the meantime, I just wanted to say thanks again for all your thoughts and prayers for us this month. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend filled with love and warmth.

More flora here.

The golden hour, chapter 4

I love it when we buy bags of sweet navel oranges for only a few dollars. One afternoon during the holidays, I decided to simply serve oranges and lemon cordial for afternoon tea and the boys just loved it. There’s something about getting your fingers all sticky and seeing juice squirting everywhere that makes eating oranges really fun for kids.

Can you spy a chubby little hand sneaking into the shot top right? That’s our Jamie. I just adore his chubby fingers. They are a bit of a recurring theme in our holiday photos. And of course, no family afternoon is complete without some chasing after the wind…

Thank you to everyone for your kind and heartfelt words in response to my last post. Spring is indeed a bittersweet season for me. There are tears, because there is love.

Never-ending love.

You can read more of our golden hour story here.

(Linking up with Grace.)

Tears in spring

Winter has indeed bade us farewell here in Sydney.

Sunshine and warmth are everywhere.

Even the air smells different.

Yes, spring is here.

Despite my love for this season, I know there will be tears this spring.

There will always be tears in spring, because Cameron died in spring.

Our firstborn. Our son.

His birthday is two weeks from today. The 16th of September. A date that makes my heart ache.

Had he lived, Cameron would be five this year.

But that shall never come to pass.

Because five years ago, he died.

Inside of me.

In spring.

Photo above: The last of the winter leaves…