October 2012

It seems like a lifetime ago now, but Week 31 marked the beginning of our family holiday back in August. It was such a wonderful time. No commitments. No deadlines. Nowhere we had to be. Just the five of us, and fourteen fun-filled days of being together.

Unlike most of our family holidays, we opted to stay at home this time – partly to save money and partly because I couldn’t be bothered to pack for two adults and three small children, if you must know the truth. It worked out really well though: we had the beaches within five minutes drive; we treated the boys to a train trip; we had everything we needed around the house; I could do scrapbooking whenever I wanted; we made multiple road trips down to the Southern Highlands; and best of all, Rick had fun setting up tents and hoochies for the boys in our backyard.

For those two entire weeks (and the two weeks that followed), I didn’t work on our Project Life at all. Mainly because I hadn’t quite worked out how best to document our holiday. And so I procrastinated. And procrastinated some more. (I’m good at that.) In the end, after endless cups of coffee, I decided that I would use my normal weekly format, with additional inserts where appropriate and possibly even two spreads per week if I couldn’t fit it all onto one spread. I was really happy with this decision, and will probably stick to this for future holidays, at least for similar ‘staycations’ anyway.

[click to continue…]

Made me smile…

…flowers from the garden / the most delicious cupcake / pu li tea / the cheekiest little boy

What are some things that are making you smile?

Maternity series, 15 weeks

On Wednesday, I saw my obstetrician for my second antenatal check-up. I was nervous before the visit, but thankfully, we heard Newbie’s heartbeat and we even saw him/her moving on the ultrasound. It was such wonderful relief, and I left with amazing joy in my heart. Driving home, I couldn’t help but be filled with excitement at the thought of meeting Newbie. Another baby. Another child. What an incredible blessing.

These days, I am slowly regaining my energy, and my nausea is gradually improving, though it’s still hard to figure out what it is I actually want to eat. The boys have been so sweet, taking it in turns to say hello to the baby in mummy’s tummy, especially Angus who always has the same greeting: “Hi baby, it’s Angus, your older brother!” It is going to be fun watching them grow from a team of three to become a team of four. Just tonight, I was picturing our meals table being full at dinnertimes, with Angus and Pete on one side and Jamie and Newbie on the other. (Oh boy.)

We are also counting down the weeks till we get to find out whether we’re having a boy or girl. Seriously, we cannot wait. We’ve always found out with each of the four boys, and we’ve never regretted it for a moment. We’ve always had names picked up early in advance, and we’ve loved being able to call each child by their name throughout the latter half of the pregnancy. I secretly think it’s another little boy (and I’ve been right four times so far), but who knows! Either way, it will be amazing.

(Dress by Soon Maternity; cardigan by J Crew; necklace by Elk Accessories; and photos by my wonderful husband.)

* * * * *

I’ve recently set up a Facebook page where I’m hoping to share all the lovely things and lovely people that inspire me. I would love for you to connect with me there if you are a Facebook user yourself!

It was my friend Jane who first gave me the idea of making photo books about four years ago. She was showing me one that she’d made for her little boy, and I knew straight away that that’s what I wanted to do for Angus and all our other children. In fact, after going home and doing my research into printers and pricing, I decided that I would only make photo books from there on – they would simply replace the photo albums I had been doing prior to that point (more about them in another post).

To me, it made sense to change: photo books would allow me to better showcase the ‘hero shots’ (ie. the photos we loved the most); they took up less room on the bookshelf; it would force me to only print the best photos; each photo book could have as many or as few photos as I wanted; and when you compared the cost of printing a photo book to processing photos at a decent Kodak centre plus the cost of purchasing albums, the extra expense was not ridiculous, especially considering the benefits.

[click to continue…]

As I was putting Jamie to bed tonight, he started playing with my locket. We opened it together, and immediately he pointed to me and said, “Mummy!” I asked him who the baby was, and he pointed at himself and exclaimed, “Me!”

Looking at his gorgeous smiling face, I started tearing up.

It was true: he really did look a lot like Cameron when he was a baby himself. I could see him watching me curiously as I wept.

“Sad?” he asked in his cute little voice.

“Yes,” I replied softly. “Mummy sad…”

Together, we looked at the photo inside the locket again. This time, I pointed to Cameron, and said, “This is Cameron. Your other brother.”

“Bro…ther,” he repeated hesitantly.

“Yes, your brother. His name is Cameron. Can you say Cameron?”

“Cam…ron.”

Hearing Jamie repeat Cameron’s name so beautifully made me weep all the more. I hugged him closer to me, and covered his plump face with kisses. “I love you so much, little boy.”

These days, I’ve been listening to The Studio Gibili piano soundtrack and it keeps taking me four years back to the spring when I first started listening to the music.

It was the spring of Cameron’s first anniversary. It was the spring when we finally interred his ashes. It was the spring when we anxiously awaited Angus’ arrival. It was the spring when we finally welcomed a healthy baby into our arms. It was the spring when it came crashing down on us once more all that we had lost…

Truly, it is the most beautiful music.

It is music that fills me with love. Music that makes my heart ache. Music that causes me to weep.

It is music that slows me down. It causes me to be still, and actually feel the love that I carry for each of my four boys. It is music that makes me remember how blessed I am to be their mum.

It is music that makes me cry. And music that makes me feel alive.

It is music that reminds me of Cameron’s absence, and of the tragedy it was to lose him. It reminds me of all those dark days. All that grief. All that pain.

And at the same time, all that hope. And all that love.

But most of all, it is music that tells me to never stop mothering.

To never stop remembering.

To never stop crying.

To never stop feeling.

And to never stop loving.

It is morning. The boys have had breakfast and I’m hanging out with them in the playroom. Suddenly, I smell something suspicious coming from Pete’s direction.

Me: “Have you done a poo?”
Pete: “Yes!”
Me: “Do you want daddy to change it?”
Pete: “Mummy!”
Me: “Daddy?”
Pete: “Mummy!”

* * *

It is dinnertime, and the boys are eating dinner. (Kind of.)

Angus: “I will miss you guys when I’m thirty-two.”
Daddy: “Why?”
Angus: “Because I won’t live with you guys anymore.”
Daddy: “Well, I hope you’ll come to visit.”
Angus: “I will visit, daddy. I will visit you guys wherever you live.”

* * *

It is afternoon tea time, and Jamie is snacking on his favourite fruit.

Me: “Do you put your banana in your ears, Jamie?”
Jamie: “Nooooo!”
Me: “Do you put your banana in your hair?”
Jamie: “Nooooo!”
Me: “Do you put your banana in your mouth?”
Jamie: “Yes!”

* * *

It is Cameron’s anniversary. We are driving to the Memorial Gardens, and I can hear Angus explaining things to Pete in the back.

Angus: “Cameron is in heaven, Pete.”

Later, while we’re at the gardens…

Angus: “Lots of people are here. It’s really sad that they died.”

* * *

My belly is peeking out from under my top one day. Angus, of course, spots this.

Angus (pointing to my tummy): “There’s a bit of a gap there.”

* * *

It is evening, and again the topic of conversation is fruit:

Angus: “Why are oranges called oranges?”
Me: “Because they’re orange!”
Angus: “But apples are red, and they’re called apples!”
Me: “Good question. Ask daddy.”

* * *

It is bathtime for the boys. I walk into the bathroom to find water poured all over the floor. I know already that Jamie is the cheeky culprit, but I ask the question anyway.

Mummy: “Who poured water onto the floor!?”
Pete: “Pete!”
Angus: “Jamie!”
Jamie: “Gus!”

* * *

It is dinnertime and Angus has been firing questions at me non-stop. My head feels like it is going to explode.

Me: “Gus, don’t talk to me for ten seconds, please!”
Angus: “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten….”

* * *

It is morning, and Rick is away at a conference. I’m still lying in bed with my blindfolds on, but I can hear Angus and Pete sneaking in and pottering about.

Pete: “Daddy?”
Angus: “Daddy is at a conference, Pete.”
Pete: “Why?”
Pause.
Angus: “Maybe because daddy’s watching movies at the conference.”
Pete: “Oh….. okay!”

You can read more of our conversations here.

Week 29 was the dreaded week of the flu. I remember spending most of that week in bed, wondering whether I would ever walk, eat or blog again. Everybody else in the family seemed to recover more quickly than I did. The top right photo is actually a shot of bacon and eggs – one of the few dishes I managed to keep down that week. Next year, I really must consider getting the flu shot.

I think this is one of the prettiest layouts in my entire Project Life album so far, mainly because I was able to include the photos of the cabbage flowers that I took that week. I remember buying them to cheer myself up after more than a week in bed. They did the job beautifully, and even managed to spark my interest in photographing flowers.

Week 30, and as you can see, the cabbage flowers were still going strong (they seemed to last forever!). But even more special was the fact that Rick bought me native proteas for our eighth wedding anniversary. I also had a coffee date with Angus that week, which was just gorgeous, and Rick made his mum’s famous caramel sauce which we dribbled over vanilla ice cream. One word: Yum. Or maybe two words: So yum.

There are a few photos in this layout from our first golden hour story, as well as a couple of shots of the boys running around, chasing bubbles like their life depended on it. Seriously, they make me laugh so hard, those boys…

Even though Project Life can seem like a huge project, to me, it’s become a simple matter of choosing my favourite fifteen photos for the week, adding dates and minimal text, printing them out, slipping them into pockets and typing up a single journalling card that recaps the week’s events. Easy. I think I’ve got it down to just half an hour now, which adds up to just over a day’s work over the course of the year. A day’s work for just the most amazing record of our year as a family together. Totally worth it.

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.)

Two things

{ The green couch } This is fast becoming one of our favourite spots in the house. The boys love climbing up here and watching friends arrive and depart. I like to think that it helps visitors to feel instantly welcomed when they see the boys’ chubby little faces peering out and grinning widely through the window.

{ Beef pho } First trimester nausea has meant that I don’t really get to choose what I eat these days. Instead, food chooses me. And beef pho has been on my mind almost constantly in recent weeks. In fact, last Wednesday while Rick’s mum was here, I drove some fifteen minutes to the nearest Vietnamese restaurant just so the baby and I could consume this beef noodle soup goodness. My belly felt deliciously good afterwards…

Winter seems to have stolen back into our midst here in Sydney. I’m writing this right now wrapped in four layers of clothing (which is conservative by Asian standards). My lovely husband’s risotto is simmering on the stove, and outside I can hear Rick and the boys packing things away into the garage as they prepare to come indoors for dinner. We’re running a bit behind schedule this evening; daylight saving has proven rather hard to adjust to with three little boys under four. Still, I remain hopeful that Rick and I might be able to enjoy some quiet time together later tonight.

These days, I’ve found myself struggling to take photos; the inspiration to do so seems to have faded somewhat with the exhaustion and nausea that have currently taken over my life. I guess that’s to be expected, and I’m more than certain the fog will lift soon, but it’s just interesting how creativity ebbs and flows that way. No matter, as I still have a wealth of photos stored away which I have yet to share with you.

It’s embarrassing how little I know about flora. I have managed to find out, however, that these flowers come from the shrimp plant. They were part of the bunch of flowers that Angus picked from our friend’s garden, and I found them strangely attractive in an unkempt sort of way. I had them in our bedroom for more than a week before they showed any signs of withering. I have to say I really enjoy having flowers in the bedroom – it makes for a nice surprise in the evenings when we retire upstairs after a long day, to find colourful blooms waiting to greet us.

I do hope you all have a lovely Friday evening – if all goes to plan, I should be back here on Sunday to share my first photo book. (Yay!)

More flora here.

Finally, here is a look at Jamie’s first year journal (you might remember me giving you a quick glimpse of it here). I have to say from the outset that I really love this keepsake – it is so precious to me (and Rick), and I hope that when Jamie grows up, it will be precious to him too. We did something similar for Pete as well, and there is no doubt we will create a similar journal for our this little one in utero – affectionately dubbed Newbie by Rick for now. (I did something rather different for Angus’ first year, and though I now much prefer this journal, I’ll share it further down the track.)

I know I mentioned this in the other post, but the journal I used is a custom handmade one from Badger & Chirp. Their journals are beautiful and I love the quality of their products. For Jamie’s journal, I chose orange lambskin for the wraparound cover and plain white fabric for the cover lining. I also went with their tied binding option, which was less expensive but still allowed all the journal to open up flat. The journal size I requested was 6 x 8 inches, and I asked for 370 pages to be included in the journal, so that there would be one page for each day of the year, with a few extra ones for title pages and end pages.

For the title page, I simply chose one of my favourite photos from Jamie’s first year, and stuck it in, centred on the page. It’s a photo of him holding a Christmas ornament on Christmas eve, only a few days after we moved into our new home. I just love the way his chubby little fingers are holding the ornament so carefully, and how his face is actually reflected in the ornament itself.

[click to continue…]