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.