Making Over My Life, by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Making Over My Life, by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Making Over My Life, by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

How timely.

Tomorrow will be two months since my last post on making over my life – you know, the one about how I was breaking up with Facebook and Instagram?

Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s close enough.

Today I thought I’d give you guys an update on how I’m going with being distracted versus being present, and friends, I’m pleased as punch to be able to tell you all that it is going well. Really well. (Cue my awkward-looking happy dance.)

Honestly, when I think about last year, it still kind of saddens me to think of how attached I was to my phone. I never let it out of my sight. I always knew exactly where it was. It was always buzzing. I was always checking it. I would only ever half-listen to my boys because I was too distracted with all the incoming notifications and messages from the online world. Even at dinnertime, I would often disappear from the room to check my phone. Quite frankly, I resented myself for being like that and yet I couldn’t seem to stop being like that.

That was until I made all the drastic changes and adopted all the steps that I outlined in my previous post. My, how they’ve made a difference! Such a difference.

This isn’t to say that I haven’t stumbled along the way, because there’s no doubt that I have. My ‘online cravings’ have been very real, and I’ve definitely given in to them from time to time.

But this side of two months – I’ve actually managed to rewire that bit of my brain. Which was my goal from the very start.

It was never about how often I checked Facebook or Instagram during the day – it was about rewiring my brain so that I would be better at being present with my family rather than checking in on the online world. It was about teaching myself that I didn’t need to be validated by incoming likes and comments.

Both of these things I think I have achieved – to my amazement and my delight.

I am much, much less connected to the online world and I care very little for my phone these days. Often I don’t even know where it is, and Rick has to actually ring it for me to track it down. As a result, I’ve been present with the boys. I’ve been present during dinnertimes. I’ve been present during reading times. I’ve been present during bathtimes. I’ve been present during bedtimes.

And it has been so, so good.

So good for my mental health, and so good for the family.

Plus, there’s been the added bonus of being able to focus better when I’m working. Honestly, without the constant desire to browse Facebook and without the constant need to check all incoming notifications, I have procrastinated less and focused more.

Talk about killing two (or three) birds with the one stone.

Obviously, the one big trade off has been that I’ve been much less connected with all of you here in the online world. I haven’t been visiting many of your blogs, and I haven’t been commenting much on your blog posts or your Instagram photos. I’m very conscious of this and I do feel sad about it, but I’m also confident that every single one of you understands why I’ve needed to makeover this area of my life.

In time, I hope to regain some sort of a ‘healthy’ balance.

For now, I am simply happy that I am a person who knows how to be present.

You can read about my entire makeover series here.

ps. For those of you who said you were going to give this a go, how are you finding it?

A moment with…

Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

…my soon-to-be three year old. The older two were still at school, and Bear hadn’t yet woken up from his nap. So the two of us, my Jamie and I, snuck into my studio and enjoyed a bit of one-on-one time. It was hot that afternoon, and the blinds were pulled almost close. When he saw that I was taking photos on my camera, he ran quietly back to his room and returned with his own camera – a red plastic block. “Say cheese!” he told me, as he hid his face behind the block and went “Click, click.” (Which is somewhat amusing, considering I never tell them to say “Cheese.”)

These portraits of our Jamie are particularly meaningful, as he is starting preschool next week. My darling baby, going out into the world. My heart aches at the thought, and yet, I am so proud of him – of the tremendous little boy that he’s become. He’s witty, he’s cheeky, he’s perceptive, he’s understanding, he’s affectionate, he is always telling us that he loves us, and he is wise beyond his years.

Just yesterday, I was telling him how much I would miss him when he’s at preschool.

His response?

“It’s okay mummy. I’ll come back. You don’t have to miss me.”

Twilight, lately

Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

The other evening after the boys were in bed, I snuck into our room, lay on our bed and watched the last light fade from our bedroom window. Rick joined me soon after, and together we lay there quietly till the dark completely enveloped us…

(And then we got up and worked.)

I hope you can all find a moment of stillness this coming weekend. Happy Friday!

p.s. Are you doing anything special?

(Linking up with Em.)

Project Life by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

Friends, what a difference two weeks make! When I wrote this post, I was well and truly despairing whether I would ever find my Project Life mojo again. I couldn’t envision what my spreads would look like, I kept questioning whether I should change over to monthly spreads instead of weekly spreads, and I felt completely overwhelmed at the thought of falling more than five weeks behind.

In the end, it came down to two things. First, I simply got over the fact that my photography style was changing and that my photos would no longer look the same as they did before. I stopped doubting and embraced my new visual voice. The ironic thing is that I’ve always known this to be true since it’s happened before, and I even wrote about it in this post. However, this latest shift has been the hardest for me to come to terms with because I had grown so very comfortable with what I was doing before. It worked extremely well for me, and it was hard to open up my mind to the possibility that something else might work just as well – or even better. I’ll touch on this more in another photography post, but at the end of the day, I just had to go with the flow.

My other ‘ah ha’ realisation was this: just because everyone else around me was seemingly shaking things up and changing the way they were approaching their Project Life album this year, it didn’t mean that I had to as well. I love my weekly spreads and all the templates I’ve set up work really well for me, so why change it just for the sake of changing? Given that my photography was already changing, it eventually dawned that it would actually be a good thing to maintain the same approach to my design and layouts.

And so, over the course of a few days, I finally broke down the wall and managed to create four weeks worth of spreads and inserts. I couldn’t be more stoked. Today, I’m sharing Week 6 with you all, and I hope to post more in the coming weeks and months.

Project Life by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

What happened in Week 6?
We saw my parents for the first time since they returned from their six-week trip to Hong Kong. They were pretty psyched to see the boys again, and vice versa. I made roast chicken for the first time, Edward started to grow hair in a big way, and I gave Jamie a haircut which Rick did not like. He thought it made Jamie look too much like a girl. Needless to say, I responded rather defensively until I realised it was exactly the same haircut that my own mum used to give me when I was little. (Woops.)

How were the photos taken and processed?
All photos were taken with my Fujifilm X100S and edited using VSCO Film in Aperture.

Favourite photos from Week 6?
All the photos of the children are lovely, but my favourite is actually the one of the cup of Milo on the windowsill. Milo is one of my ‘comfort drinks’ and I remember it was cold and rainy that day, so looking at the photo makes me feel all warm and cosy inside.

Number of pages and inserts?
I had three 8×10 inserts and one 8×8 insert.

Overall thoughts?
I love how all the colours and tones in the first page blend together so well. It’s one of my favourite pages in our 2014 album to date.

Supplies used?
Becky Higgins Design A page protector; Kodak 210gsm glossy premium photo paper. All photos printed on the Canon MG6360 Pixma using genuine Canon ink.

How is your Project Life coming along this year?

* * *

Other posts you might be interested in reading:
My weekly Project Life process from beginning to end
Tips on taking photos for Project Life
What you need to get started with Project Life

You can read all my Project Life posts here.

These days…

Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

…it has been warm and humid. Every night, I open all our bedroom windows in desperate hopes for a cool breeze to replace the mugginess. The boys have all been sleeping well, which has been an immense blessing and provision. They are all sporting short haircuts and getting taller every single day. As a family, we have more or less settled into a weekly rhythm of ‘the school days’ and by the weekends, everybody is exhausted. We have been cooking more at home and eating out less. During the daytime when I find myself craving a hot lunch, I have been eating organic soba with seaweed and a soft-boiled egg. It is delicious, satisfying, and oh-so-healthy. Bear is constantly amusing us with his mobile antics: he is always crawling, always standing, and always going somewhere. He may be a few years younger, but he is never far behind his brothers. Together, we are looking forward to the upcoming school holidays (only four more weeks now) when we can hopefully go on road trips once more and do some exploring together…

Happy weekend, my friends! Are you doing anything special?

(Linking up with Em.)

Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

At the beginning of each season, I develop a sudden, deep need to spring clean our home: to de-clutter, to purge, to refresh our systems, and to establish a new order with less things.

Every cupboard, every drawer, every nook, every cranny is overturned, and bags of stuff inevitably end up leaving our house. The process is overwhelming and intense, but once completed, I feel refreshed, relaxed and rejuvenated.

It’s like I can breathe again.

Last week, I worked through our living areas, our kitchen, the boys’ room, our bathrooms, and our bedroom. Today, I’ve been turning my studio inside out and I’m incredibly happy with what I’ve been able to achieve. My heart literally feels lighter, knowing that I am no longer surrounded by things that I don’t require.

With the clutter gone, there is once again space.

And with space, I can once again create.

Have you done any de-cluttering or spring cleaning recently?

(Thank you all for your lovely response to my last post. I’m going to have a think about how we can embark on this challenge together. Maybe I can post some ideas, and we can all link up at the beginning of the month – or something along those lines?)

Self portraiture by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Self portraiture by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Self portraiture by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Self portraiture by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

Inspired by my photos from this post, I have set myself a challenge of learning (and hopefully mastering) the art of self portraiture.

My goals for this personal challenge are four-fold:

  • I hope to become more comfortable in front of the camera. (This is because I am the most unnatural person in front of the camera whom you will ever encounter.)
  • I hope to have more photos of myself as a result of it, as this is one area that my memory keeping seriously lacks: photos of self.
  • I hope to become more proficient at using my Fujifilm X100S.
  • I hope to become a better overall photographer as a result.

I plan to share my thoughts as I go, but for now, all I have is this: Man, it’s hard!

How about you? Would you be up for this challenge?

Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

Tonight I cooked up a roast chicken, which is fast becoming a Friday ritual for our family. While I baste the chicken in its juices for the last time before popping it back into the oven, Rick takes all the boys upstairs for their bath. Listening to the shouts, giggles and laughter drifting down the stairs, I bustle about setting the table and getting everybody’s drinks ready. (Lately, we’ve been letting the boys drink a bit of ginger ale with our roast chicken dinners, much to their delight.) Once the chicken is done and the gravy is poured, we all sit down to the table in varying degrees of dress: the boys wear their pyjamas, Rick usually has his top off (he is always working up a sweat, it seems), and I like to keep my apron on just for the sake of it. Despite the constant chorus of “Can I have more crispy skin?” and “I didn’t want the sauce on my potato!”, it is a beautiful, fun way of spending our Friday evenings together, especially when it’s cold and wet outside. I’m excited about keeping up with this as the boys get older, though I suspect I may have to work out a way of roasting more than one chicken at a time – eek!

* * *

We went exploring yesterday and discovered a lovely park near the water where the ground was covered with a living vine. While Rick took the boys to the playground, I enjoyed about ten to fifteen minutes on my own with my Fujifilm X100S in hand, attempting to photograph the natural beauty before me. Usually, I shy away from taking photos in the bright afternoon sun but I was keen to try something outside of my comfort zone. The first photo is my favourite, as it looks like it was taken in some magical land, far, far away.

And yes, Autumn has definitely arrived…

How was your week been, my friends?

(Linking up with Em.)

Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

The last time I did one of these posts was when Bear was six months old. Now he’s ten and a half months. Which means he’s turning one in just over a month’s time… what?!

Somebody, please, hold me.

I honestly cannot grasp how my newborn is suddenly almost a toddler.

This little boy – I love him so much.

For sure, we have been pushed to the limit (and back again) these last ten and a half months, but I honestly cannot imagine life without this son of ours. Every day, my heart does countless happy dances (in between the tears and meltdowns – mine, not theirs) because of him.

These photos do him good justice: he is always laughing, always smiling, always hanging out with his brothers, always crawling, always trying to stand, always licking whatever is put before him (it matters not whether it is food, cardboard, or a table). And he finally has hair. (Woohoo!) It’s funny how each little guy is fairer than the brother before him – so much for the dominant Asian gene, right? Our long-standing family joke is that I’m running out of toner – and so far, this has definitely been the case. In fact, Bear has ginger tones in his hair. Who would’ve thought?

It’s been so funny and entertaining (and nerve-wracking) watching Bear crawl everywhere. All the other boys waited till they were close to one before they showed any signs of being mobile, but this Bear has been moving about since he was eight months. And gosh he’s speedy! We only have to turn around for two seconds and he’s already disappeared to the other side of the room where the pasture is definitely greener with power points, electrical cords, and Lego pieces. Like I said – funny and nerve-wracking all at once.

And just out of interest – does every other mum like to smell their baby as much as I do? I’m seriously obsessed. No matter how exhausted, frazzled and ‘over it’ I am, as soon as I smell my Bear (sans dirty nappy), something inside me starts to recharge itself. It’s like fuel for the burnt out mother.

To my “Bear Bear,” thank you for being a part of our lives.

You have no idea how happy you make me.

* * *

For the longest time, I have been thinking of writing a short series on my journey to motherhood: getting married, falling pregnant, carrying Cameron to full-term, losing him at the very end, grieving madly, starting over again (with immense trepidation), birthing Angus, bringing him home, becoming a first-time parent to our second child, trying to breastfeed, not breastfeeding, learning to express, coping with guilt, surviving the first year, and then going from one to two to three to four boys within five years – all the while knowing that one boy is always missing.

This will be my way of sharing my personal experience of motherhood and parenting in a ‘big picture’ sort of way, and hopefully it will answer certain questions that many people have asked me along the way. But most importantly, I hope to document this for myself and for our family, and I’m planning to start writing when Bear turns one.

Who knows? Maybe a grand-daughter will one day read it and think to herself, “Oh, so that’s the breast pump that Grandma Ronnie used back in those days…”

Twilight, lately

Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

I have always found the twilight hour to be rich with beauty, mystery and allure.

It is the hour the boys fall asleep. Calmness descends and the quiet I have been craving all day is finally granted.

The other evening, once all was quiet, I slipped out onto our patio, pulled on Rick’s gardening boots, and trudged up the driveway.

I smelt the fresh air. I surveyed the weeds, the bush, and the pebbles. I watched as cars drifted up and down the road, creating their own dancing pattern of bokeh and light.

Soon, the last light faded and the night grew dark. I pulled off the oversized boots and stepped back inside.

Turning around, I saw my husband emerge from the dark corridor, smiling and holding out his arms towards me…

* * *

Thank you, thank you, for all your gentle words of encouragement. You guys are all amazing. I am certainly aware that this wall I’ve hit is simply part of the ebb and flow of life. I am not too anxious about it – I’m simply hoping to fumble my way through it.

Eventually. When the time is right.

In the meantime, I am planning to keep it simple here on the blog, rest whenever I can, go for morning walks around the neighbourhood, and hopefully set up a system to help me keep on top of the influx of school paperwork…

(Linking up with Em)