Sunday, December 15, 2013


"A portrait of my boys, once a week, every week, in 2013"


And utter devastation when there's none left.
As ever, joining with Jodi

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Giving up gluten

We have been gluten-free for two months. It's been a long time coming, for me personally. But it was some reading I stumbled across that linked a gluten-free diet with improvements in childhood hypotonia that made me sit up and listen once and for all.

It's well known that for some people, gluten inflames their digestive system. There's now a school of thought that believes gluten may inflame more than just the gut, affecting muscles, joints, and the brain. Hamish's hypotonia affects his muscles and is neurological in origin (we believe). Avoiding inflammation of his muscles, joints and neural pathways can only be a good thing, so, we decided to cut gluten out and see if it makes any difference.

And there is most definitely a difference.

Of course, it's impossible to attribute it solely to a gluten-free diet, because he may very well be going through a developmental growth spurt too, but both T and I have seen a discernible change in him.

He seems to have more energy. He is talking a lot more confidently. He is moving with better balance and riding his balance bike with gusto. He has started working out how to take his own t-shirts on and off. And he is climbing more and with less fear.

His kindy teachers have noticed an increased attention span, and an ability to stay upright and maintain posture for longer.

A coincidence? Possibly. But I too have noticed a dramatic change in my body. 

Abdominal bloating has almost disappeared along with headaches.My sinuses are clear. I'm sleeping better, and I feel more energised during the day. Before, I was lethargic in the mornings and exhausted by evening (although admittedly that could be parenting!) but, excruciatingly, unable to sleep enough to recover. The dermatitis I have had on my hands my whole life has disappeared and my fingers have stopped swelling, which means I can sleep with my wedding rings on. A little re-introduction test saw me swell like a balloon within minutes after a gluten-free fortnight.

It was a light-bulb moment for me, as someone who, on occasion, felt the need to undo a button after eating just to feel like I could breathe. Mostly, I feel simply lighter - like I don't have a brick sitting in my stomach.

The transition hasn't been as difficult as I thought it might be. This year, we have consciously shifted our diet to include more whole ingredients and exclude preservatives, colours and flavours. Gluten-free recipes are all over the internet and I was already milling grains, lentils and pulses into flour at home. I am still baking, just using a combination of brown rice flour and corn flour instead. 

Kindy lunches have probably been the biggest change, but I've been making batches of gluten-free zucchini slice and savoury muffins, which have gone down a treat. I'll need to come up with a few more options though, or I'll put them off those foods for life.

Weekend eating is a little more challenging, but we're getting there.

And for now, we'll keep it up. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


"A portrait of my boys once a week, every week, in 2013"
Roc. Eyeballing the kindy concert stage. Or yawning. Could be either.
Hame. He likes to make 'nests' and then plonk down in the middle. "Take a photo of me sleeping in my nest, mama!"

Two little blonde heads. Always touching. Always together. A bit lost without each other, really.
Playing along with Jodi

Friday, November 29, 2013

Can Christmas be simple?

I hauled the tree out today, dusted off the decorations - and BAM, just like that, my clear, clean, serene home suddenly felt out.of.control.

I've always been quite restrained when it comes to Christmas decorating. I don't have loads of knick-knacks that are brought out just for the month of December. I don't change tea-towels or dinner services. I have only one tree, and I stick to a simple colour palette.

This year though, I'm challenging myself to pare it back even more: a simply decorated tree, a single dining table vignette, and twinkly lights (of course). That's all. It's enough.

I love this time of year, I do. I love the carols, the twinkling lights, the festive cheer. So that's what I'm focusing on. Gifts this year will be simple, home-made where possible (and practical), and I will do my best to choose quality over quantity, needs over wants, and experiences over things.

I want my boys to learn that the real magic of Christmas is in its spirit: the way people slow down, smile more, are more aware, practice charity, find joy in giving, and appreciate one another.

I think last year I started getting it right. I loved this simple table I set for our traditional Christmas Eve family get-together.

And I can't wait for tonight.  Decorating the tree is always so special for me. I put on some carols, pour a glass of champagne and adore every minute of it.

(I'm going early [we are a 1st of  December family usually], but if I don't do it tonight, it won't get done until the end of next week, and that would be a travesty.)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


"A portrait of my boys, once a week, every week, in 2013"

We went on an afternoon trip to the Science Centre. It was great fun, but I think the journey there was the highlight for them. They had a certain swagger. I think they felt very grown up walking down to the arts precinct. And they look it too. My babies are real little boys now.

Hame. Balancing on a retaining wall. My heart was in my mouth.

Roc. It looks like a quiet moment of contemplation, but actually, it was just a lucky shot. This kid never stops. Every photo I have of him lately is a blur.

I've missed a couple of weeks. The photos are there, but I've been having trouble downloading them. I'll catch up soon.

Friday, November 8, 2013

How to make a hat

Time. You need time. Carve it out from wherever you can.

A bucket. Scalding hot water. Old gloves, a parasisal hood, some sinnamay and a packet of dye. Silk taffeta. Antique brass French flower making tools. Some yarn. A needle. An iron. A hat block. Elbow grease.

And yet more time.

Add champagne.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Less. And more.

It's over a month since the Great Declutter of 2013 and I'm very happy to report that I can't for the life of me remember what I sent packing.

The house is vastly easier to keep tidy. Vastly. I can't even describe how much easier it is. At the very worst, there are dishes to wash and put away, some random sofa cushions to replace, and on a very bad day, puzzles pieces and doonas to be put right.

I feel like I have more time. I don't know if I truly have more available minutes or hours now, or whether I feel less burdened by thingsthatneedtobedonerightnow, but either way, I'm not complaining. The laundry is even up-to-date... regularly.

Things have a home, and that's where they can be found. Without fail. I haven't had to buy yet-another-measuring-tape yet. Miraculously, most things can be found first time. "Where's the bloodymeasuringtape?" "Why, hanging on the hook whose sole purpose is to hang the measuring tape, of course!"

The benefits are undeniable, and, even better, they're contagious.

Last week (and again last night) I discovered Rocky in the playroom cleaning it to within an inch of its life. Toys - actually put away. He was so happy and so proud of himself (he'd also worked up such a sweat that he'd stripped off, such was his effort).

Even T is in on the act. We went to Sydney last weekend for a beautiful wedding, and when we arrived home on Sunday night we unpacked, took clothes to the laundry, hung things up, and put bags away. For us, that is HUGE. We have, in the past, been guilty of leaving bags semi-unpacked for weeks. Weeks!

Every day, I am still ridding our lives of things that are neither needed, cherished, or beautiful. It's an ongoing process, and I'm fine with that.

This knowledge that simpler is better has spread into other areas of my life as well, almost without me even realising it. A heightened level of consciousness, I suppose.

I haven't forgotten to use my reusable grocery bags in a month. I've started using re-useable produce bags. I'm in the process of farewelling plastic in favour of glass, and the boys are sipping from stainless steel water bottles. I'm refusing bags and packaging where possible, and I'm enjoying the challenge. Why, oh why, must a single cucumber be shrink-wrapped?

I don't even feel like shopping. Seriously. I've never been a big shopper, to be completely honest, but I have NO DESIRE to bring yet more unnecessary stuff into our house without full and complete contemplation and conscious decision making.

Does this mean I'm finally a grown-up?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


WEEK 42?? Really? I have adored this project, despite a week missed here and there.

Love them.

Joining with Jodi.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


"A portrait of my boys once a week, every week, in 2013"

Nothing beats a bit of old fashioned slip n slide fun.

Joining with Jodi.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


"A portrait of my boys, once a week, every week, in 2013"

Hame. His trains come everywhere with him. This week, they joined us for breakfast.

Roc. Jumping to reach the top of the wall. This kid never sits still.
Joining with Jodi.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

A bench, some wallpaper and a space to create

Now that my house is almost free from visual clutter, creating a space for the boys to draw, craft, create, read, sit, play and enjoy - something that's been on my 'to do' list for a while - is at the top of the agenda.

Don't get me wrong; they're hardly hard done by - the whole house feels given over to them at times. But, as they get older, more able to self-direct activities and eventually have homework, I want them to have a space that's theirs. Where they can be responsible for its contents, where their creations can be displayed, and where we can cohabit that same space, while doing our own things.

We live in an old Queenslander with a modern downstairs extension, as so many have. It has two extra bedrooms, a study nook, a laundry, a bathroom, a double lock-up garage and the quintessential 'rumpus room'.

It's here that I want to create their space.

This is my inspiration:

I love the timber. I love the salute to old-school school via the chairs. I love the use of wallpaper. I love that it's compact. I love that the wall can become a gallery space for Hame and Roc's creations, for special photos, for memories.

Most of all, I love that when you break it down, it's actually a very simple space. A wall. A bench. A couple of chairs. Some memories. That's it. Fullness in simplicity. It's one of those images I can't stop looking at. I have had it pinned for ages, and I look at it every day. Recently, many times a day.

So, we're doing it (or, rather, I am. T probably doesn't mind one way or the other). I'm going to buy timber for the desk and stain it walnut. That bit is easy. The wallpaper decision, on the other hand, has been a bit, well, sticky. Fraught, even. I've found one that I love - adore - but the price is makes me wince. The wall is large, and the rolls are on the pricey side. The problem is that I just can't find anything else I like better for a better price.

This is it: Anna Spiro for Porter's Paints Rosey Posey Trellis in Ginger Jar Blue:

I just can't go past that blue. Part Delft, part ginger jar, all gorgeous.

Ah, decisions.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The road to less - part 4: the Great Declutter of 2013

Last week I took four days 'off' to purge this house. It was intense, exhausting, exhilarating, liberating, addictive, and confronting.

When I first wrote this list, I wasn't sure I'd get through it all in four days. But I did. And I feel satisfied.

Before last week, there wasn't a single square metre in the house that was calm, free from visual 'noise' and where I felt relaxed.

I was driven to create a more peaceful home. Somewhere clear and calm. Somewhere that didn't make me feel as though I couldn't possibly stop for a second, because there was just so much to do. I knew achieving this would fill me with satisfaction and pride and motivation to continue the journey. But in the spirit of keeping it real, what I didn't  expect to feel was ashamed and self-indulgent.

Ashamed because I can't actually understand how I ever fathomed it was ok to buy so many things that weren't needed for practicality or beauty (I will always desire to have things that make me happy just by looking at them). I just genuinely have no idea how so much unnecessary stuff accumulated. I felt appalled by the sheer volume of stuff I had to take to the dump (although I think they're called Refuse and Recycling Centres these days). Room after room, box after box, bag after bag of stuff that was neither useful, or beautiful, or meaningful.

The self-indulgence is simple. The fact that I am even talking about 'decluttering', 'simplifying', and 'living with less' is crazy. Millions of people have nowhere near enough, and I'm writing about how getting rid of stupid amounts of possessions is cleansing and calming. What a first world problem to have, huh. Sobering, really.

Regardless, there is still too much. But I am happy with progress to date. There are a few areas I haven't tackled yet, primarily because they're not mine. What should go and what should stay isn't my call to make.

A week on, the house is still clean. Surfaces are still clear. Things have homes. New habits are forming. I feel like I have space to breathe.

It's good.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


"A portrait of my boys, once a week, every week, in 2013"

Roc. See? Capable. Has to do everything himself. This home-made raw strawberry jam recipe that has been doing the rounds recently is delicious, I'm happy to confirm. 

Hame. A family portrait. I'm on the left with the 'top knot' and the big eyes. Daddy is next with big ears because he has to listen very hard at work. Hame is next, arms wrapped around himself giving himself a squishy cuddle. And Roc is on the right, being noisy, apparently.

Joining in with Jodi.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Lines in our story

I read something recently that made my breath catch in my throat.

"Every place we've lived has carved its impression on us. 
And nearly everything we have writes a line of our story."

This whole decluttering / simplifying / slowing down experiment has had a profound impact on me.

I sometimes - morbidly - think about what is going to happen when we're not here anymore. Who is going to have the awful task of going through our stuff and deciding what has meaning and value, what to keep, what to send away? A horrible horrible task for anyone, that can only be made worse by having to sort through a lifetime of possessions that should never have been there in the first place.

But morbidity aside, I'm still on track with paring back. I think the most important thing is that mentally I'm on track. I don't want all this stuff around me. I am  happy to own less. It seems an enormous task, to approach a lifetime of stuf, and it is, but every day I'm removing things that are not needed, wanted, or loved.

The most profound part of this journey for me has been what is going on in my head. I'm owning less. But more importantly, I want less. This quiet whisper is stronger than my frenzied culling. By wanting less, the inflow of stuff has slowed down. Things still come in - I will never be a radical minimalist, nor do I want to be - but only with thought and conscious decision.

The boys turned four recently, and with that, of course, came queries from beloved family about what to buy them as gifts. I was nervous to admit out loud that they didn't need anything new, that we were trying to reduce our stuff, and that we wanted our kids to learn that more presents do not mean more love, that their happiness does absolutely not depend upon a mountain of accumulated stuff.

But you know what? Everyone got it.

The boys received truly thoughtful gifts. Things we'd happily have given them ourselves amidst this journey. An annual pass to the Science Centre, tickets to Underwater World, an amazing world globe, some dress up costumes, and a cubby house perfect for adventures and imagination, built by hand with love by daddy and Grandpa.

This week is an important one for me. I have taken a week of holiday with the sole purpose of decluttering and spring cleaning. It's the first time in my life I have ever done something like this. Taking holidays to clean? Am I mad? Probably.

Collecting memories. Curating possessions. Cherishing only that which has value. I will probably be repeating this  like a crazed woman by Friday.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A post about a party

Someone found the only lollies on the table!
We got them a cubby-house.
And filled it with balloons.
The window ledge makes a perfect puppet theatre.
S U G A R and silliness.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A letter to my boys: Four

Darling boys, you are four years old. Four. FOUR. In some ways, it feels like the blink of an eye. In others, motherhood feels like all I've ever known.

You have grown - of course you have. It's inevitable. In many ways you have changed so much. But, yet, you remain the same. Your essence, your you-ness, is resolute and unwavering. You are as you always have been - since the moment of your birth - and as you always will be, too, I suspect.

Since having you two, there is no doubt in my mind that we are all born with our personalities imprinted firmly, deeply in our souls. Our job as your parents is to shape your values, your beliefs, and to teach you how to respond, react and moderate. But we have realised there is no shaping of your personalities in our job description. They are far stronger and deeper than our influence.

Roc, you have started to show some remarkable self-control. Of course, you're still a four-year-old, who freaks out at random stuff like dropping your water bottle in the car, but in other ways, you are mature beyond your years. You take deep breaths to calm down. You can snap yourself out of moods. You make decisions about how you will react to a situation. You sing gentle songs to calm Hamish down if he needs it (and me, too, if truth be told!).

You love your family deeply and intensely. You aren't afraid to tell us how much you love us, and you are an incredibly affectionate little boy. You need kisses and cuddles - they right your world. 

You're a bit of a kooky little thing. Things have to be 'just so'. Everything has to be buttoned all the way up, socks perfectly straight, trousers pulled up, laces evenly laced. You have uniforms, or 'outfits' as you call them, for everything, and your clothes have rules. Your blue waffle long sleeve shirt is only worn with your red vest. Your green stripy shirt with the red elbow patches is only for parties. Your skinny jeans are for 'good', and your 'work' shirts are for weekend breakfasts. Underpants and socks must match. Precision in all things. Even your dancing.

You are razor sharp, and super smart. Which isn't surprising; your daddy is the smartest person I have ever met. You do everything yourself, and I'm guilty of treating you as a child much older than four. You are just so independent. I can't remember the last time I had to help you get dressed, or put the toothpaste on your brush, or wash you in the bath. You set the table. Pack the dishwasher. Make your bed, even. You've even started doing up your own carseat seatbelt (which of course I check once you've had your go). 

I sometimes wonder how on earth I'm going to keep up with you, and I certainly wonder how we're going to keep you entertained and stimulated for another 18 months before you start Prep. 

You are capable beyond your years, and I think I forget that actually, you're still a toddler. Still a baby, really. My baby.

I love you darling one. Adore you, in fact. I'm so intensely proud of you. And I am in awe of you, too. I'm so lucky to be your mama. Thank you for making me a mum. It's the biggest privilege of my life.

And my darling Hamey-bear. I am SO proud of you. You have taken this year in your stride. You've been dragged from physio, to paediatrician, to neurologist, to speech pathologist. You charm all of them the second you meet them. I was reading the letter from your neurologist just tonight, and in it he said "Hamish is a delightful 3.5 year old boy". And you are. You are so delightful. And delighted. And enamoured of life.

But aside from all the hypotonia stuff (which, thankfully, will be just a minor consideration in your daily life), you are hilarious. And beautiful. You see the world for its beauty.

We sometimes play 'doctors'. Whenever you stick the pretend thermometer in my ear, you withdraw it, shake it, have a look and announce cheerfully, "You're healthy mama!" You're an optimist. You're not melodramatic. I love that about you.

You're our funny one. The joker. Our little comedian. You're always pulling crazy faces, hiding, pretend-falling, making up silly words to songs, making up crazy dances, putting things in odd places to await our reaction, and generally making us burst into laughter. 

You are so gentle, too, and full of love. You kiss me constantly and call me "pwetty mama, breutiful mama." Sometimes, you are just so overwhelmed with love and happiness that you squeak! We call them your love squeaks, and they are the cutest things in the world.

Despite being the less-talkative twin (make no mistake, you still talk a LOT, but Roc is a force to be reckoned with), you are quietly confident. You aren't shy in front of strangers, and you thrust your arm out to 'shake hands' when you meet new people. I love that you seem to take each new interaction as an opportunity to make a new friend. 

Everyone who meets you loves you. You are the sweetest little boy, with the softest little cheeks. Your eyes are gentle, kind and deep. They reflect love. And people are drawn to you. They always have been. You are one of this world's treasures.

I love you, darling boy. So so much my heart swells up and my chest gets tight, and my throat starts to hurt and my eyes well. It's physical, this parenting thing. I didn't know it would be this beautiful.

As always, my darling ones, all the love in the universe,
Your mama

Thursday, September 5, 2013

This guy

T is one amazing man. Adored by me and the twinadoes. Works himself to the bone, but always has enough left for one last game of tackle, and one last random musing about life.

They can't get enough of each other, these three men of my heart.

Happy Father's Day T.

We are blessed.
Cutie pies can write their own names in HUGE loping letters. They scripted the card. One Billion is the biggest number they can fathom.

Stacks on. A familiar weekend sight. 


We have had weeks of birthdays and Father's Day celebrations, sickness and fevers.

Despite all the festivities, and all the photos taken, there are so few of the boys on their own. When families come together to celebrate, everyone jumps right in. As it should be.

Hame. Gently waving goodbye to Daddy as he leaves for work in the early morning light. A daily ritual I hope he will always remember.

Roc. Give him a bubbler, and this kid is as happy as can be. He's fascinated by them.
Joining Jodi's 52 project. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013


"A portrait of my boys once a week, every week, in 2013"

Roc. Those lips!
H. Those eyelashes!
I practiced close-ups this week. I still haven't switched my camera back to automatic or semi-manual, and I think I'm slowly getting there.

Joining Jodi, as usual.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Out of the mouths of babes

May you NEVER stop exploring, wondering, questioning, learning. May you always look forward. 

Darling boys,

You are HILARIOUS. Hilarious in the most wonderful of ways. A few days ago, on the drive to kindy, I was privileged to overhear this conversation between the two of you. 

I had to concentrate so intensely on not laughing out loud because I didn't want you to stop talking. 

You clever, beautiful, insightful darlings. I am so proud of you.

[You have to imagine this complete with lisps, 'w's instead of 'r's, and mispronunciations]

H, gasping in shock: "I just saw a picture of the new Pwime Mininster Kevin Rwudd"
R: " Oh. [pause] What happened to Julia Gizzard?"
H: "She gotted out. They did not want to play with her anymore so she was out." 
R: "Oh, that's not nice."
H: "No, and Kevin Rwudd is a meanie. He doesn't let the mummies and daddies and chrildren come here when they are not safe."
R, gasping: "That's NOT nice!"
H: "No. That's not nice at all."
R: "What about ummm, Mama what's the other one's name? Tony Rabbit? Does he let the chrildren in?"
H: "I don't know. Probably not. Maybe when I grow up I will be the Pwime Mininster."
R: "Gweat idea Hamey!"
H: "Hmmmm.... atchally no. I sink I will be SuperMan."

Huh. How about that? Out of the mouths of babes.

You both then launched into a very colourful conversation about superheroes, superhero suits, super powers, and other important topics of the day.

You make my heart sing. 

And for the record, I'd totally vote for SuperMan.

All the love in the universe,

Your  mama 

Monday, August 19, 2013


"A portrait of my boys once a week, every week, in 2013"

These last weeks of winter are remarkable. Glorious and sun-drenched. The beach beckons.

Roc. He loves the water.

Hame found me a heart-shaped rock. This boy has a divine soul.
Playing along with Jodi.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


"A portrait of my boys, once a week, every week, in 2013"

The weather has turned and the scent of spring is in the air. You can see it in trees that have blossomed, premature with enthusiasm. Our neighbourhood is humming to the sound of lawn mowers, and the squeals of children have started to be heard from their gardens. The parks are filling up, and picnics are back on the agenda.

Roc. He was soaked through after this.

Hame. Giggling with delight as he splashed about.
Playing along with Jodi

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Laundry love

Like most mums, I suspect, I spend a decent amount of time in the laundry. I do at least a couple of loads per day, and quite enjoy hanging it out. I love seeing a full line of washing flapping in the breeze. I adore the smell of sunshine dried clothes.

Bringing it in, folding it up, and putting it away - well, that's another matter entirely.

Our laundry is downstairs, inside, next to the bathroom. It's more of a laundry nook, I suppose. It doesn't have its own room, a door, or anything to hide its utilitarianism from view. It's also pretty messy, most of the time. It has one shelf, that's too high for me to reach, so stuff doesn't get stored there. Instead it just sits on top of the front-loader, where lots of other miscellaneous household items end up. This morning there was a box of screwdrivers, a torch (that doesn't work), an empty washing powder box, and a drinking glass... Safety first in this house!

In the first few years that we lived here, before the boys were born, it wasn't so bad. We kind of rattled around in this big space, and between the two of us, didn't generate too much laundry. It was easy to keep tidy and organised.

Fast forward four years and it's a completely different story.

It drives me mad. It really does. I'm a visual person. But more than that, I am a person who needs a soothing visual palette for my mental health to remain intact. I can't handle looking at mess. If my surroundings are messy, I get agitated, cranky, short-tempered and anxious. I am well aware of how ridiculous that sounds, but it's true nonetheless. Besides, I know I'm in good company.

So, I have a plan. Adjacent to our laundry space is our linen cupboard. I want to build a frame and walls around the existing laundry space and put doors on the front so that it looks the same as the linen cupboard. Well, not me, personally, of course. Although it would be handy to know how to build stuff. I quite like the idea of wielding a nail gun and a saw.

Inside, I'm thinking I (again, not me, per se) might configure it a bit like this to give everything a rightful place, and create a bit of extra storage:

or this (how gorgeous is that timber):

Or even this (but with shorter cupboards because I know having them that low hanging would drive me mad), if I decide a folding surface is more important than a sink. Is it? Hmm. I don't know. Is a laundry sink a must-have?

On another tangent entirely, when I was looking for laundry design online I lost count of the number I saw styled with cotton tips and cotton balls. In the laundry. Why??? 

I've been thinking about making my own laundry powder too, although every recipe I see calls for Borax. I'm not sure I'm down with that. I'll keep searching.
When I grow up, and build a house, I'm having a whole laundry room. With a door. 

Monday, August 5, 2013


Black and white this week.

Roc. Sometimes he is ageless. He could be three or 23 here I think. Every now and then I catch a glimpse of what he's going to look like when he's older. 

Hame. Always happy. Even when he's sleeping.

Playing along with Jodi