Sunday, 28 April 2013

17/52 - trains & tutus


There is a sweet fairy in our garden...

*details on the home-made fairy skirt below*


We spend last Sunday at a Marymead Fundraising Family Day at the Kingston Miniature Railway... 
a magical little place I didn't even know existed! 

There was face painting, balloons, sausage sizzle and unlimited rides on the adorably vintage little train. We took advantage of the unlimited rides and went 'round and 'round... when we weren't 'all aboard' my friendly little fellow eagerly hung on the rails and waved cheerily to each passing train. Love this boy.

It was a gorgeous day out and about with my little tribe!


Those beautiful eyes, drinking in the world around him... so much to learn, so much to see! He is such a curious little man. 

(And rockin' a baby mohawk these days too!)

Project 52: A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013.

More highlights from the week that was...

My wonderful husband celebrated his birthday and we all celebrated with him! I baked a cherry chocolate cheesecake
and we even got to go out on a dinner date together. A church BBQ and a family day out at the railway made a busy
weekend of celebrations and fun for my beloved best friend... happy birthday, darling! xx

Riding the rails...

Nosy Neighbours
Our lovely neighbours are getting their kitchen renovated by the same guy who did ours. The kids enjoyed peering
through the fence trying to see what was causing all the racket, and calling out his name to say hello!

Making sand pictures with coloured sand and glue.

Anzac Day was spent pottering around the house. We had a pre-winter tidy up of the front garden with the whole
family - E was well-equipped to transport some pebbles for me!

Efficient delivery of the children to their beds at sleep time. 
Can you hear the shrieks and giggles through the computer screen?!

Catching the morning rays...

E on the prowl...
Our latest favourite game is hiding plastic animals around the backyard and taking turns hunting for them...

Miles is happy to hang out in the shade and watch the game!

The kids helped Daddy clean the car interior (anyone with kids knows how squalid the car becomes!).
The kids loved cleaning the windows and decided to do the exterior of the windows too, taking
turns to wipe and spray. Too cute, this pair!

My mum off-loaded metres and metres of old tulle so we had the idea to make fairy skirts!
I bought some waistband elastic and we simply cut strips of tulle and tied them around the waistband. Lily and I had such a fun morning together! She also got to practise cutting lines and tying and I got to practise biting my tongue, controlling my hands and letting the process and quality time be more important than making the skirt efficiently or 'properly'!! The end result was a gorgeously simple skirt and a morning of sweet memories.

The finished product... a happy girl in a home-made fairy skirt! 

Ready to flitter-flutter-fly...

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

miles.tones - three months

My sweet son has hit Three Months and with that sails out of the newborn phase forever....

This little Bear is winning every award there is for 'Most Contented Baby'. He is just so happy, so chilled, so calm.... soothes this mama's soul, I tell you what! He is a source of joy and delight for our whole family.

Happy Three Months, Little Miles!


Miles is still on a three hour routine and doing well. He is still sleeping through the night almost always and napping in two hour blocks during the day. So he is pretty much up for an hour then down for two hours, though I am starting to stretch out his wake times a little to 60-75 minutes... or as much as he can handle cheerfully! Kid likes his sleep :)

Here is his current daily routine which I thought I would record before he extends it (now he is a grown up boy and no longer a newborn)! It is a guide, more or less, of course - he is not a robot!

7.30am - wake, feed, play
8.30am - nap
10.30am - wake, feed, play
11.30am - nap
1.30pm - wake, feed, play
2.30pm - nap
4.30pm - wake, feed, play
5.30pm - catnap
6pm - wake, feed, play
7/7.30pm - bedtime
9pm - dreamfeed
11pm - dreamfeed then sleeps till next morning... rinse and repeat!

Shortly, I am going to try to drop the 9pm dreamfeed and instead give him a top up feed about 7.30pm before he goes down to sleep, then just the 11pm dream feed and then letting him sleep overnight. Also, due to life with two older siblings, I often have to wake him by 10am to go out somewhere, so that brings the routine forward half an hour and we just adjust during the day, usually by lengthening the catnap.

Breastfeeding is going fine (except I got another mild dose of mastitis last week - ugh!). He is a fast feeder like his siblings, never more than 5-10 minutes!

Relaxing after working so hard to reach three months!

Miles.tones and More...

He is cooing, gurgling, smiling and really chuckling. I just adore hearing his gaspy little laugh, and when he catches my eye and bursts into a huge cheesy grin, it's simply magic. Every mother knows how charming it is to see your baby express such simple joy at this age! It is just gorgeous and the kids are loving being able to interact with him more and more. They take great pleasure and satisfaction in eliciting laughs and smiles, and Miles is a very long-suffering babe enduring their well-intentioned cuddles, tickles and so on.

He has started batting his little fists about over the last few weeks or so. Trying to touch things but not quite able to open his little fists and grasp them yet. (Well, actually he has just started doing that a bit just in the last couple days, but I will focus on the past month). A week or two ago, we had the cutest little time together. We were snuggling in my bed, lying down and looking at each other, and he was flailing his little fists about in my face for about 15 minutes! Getting pummeled in the face is not usually my idea of a good time, but coming from my sweet baby, it was pretty darn adorable! We were just staring at each other while his little fists bumped all over my face like fluttering butterflies - it felt like he was just wanted to explore and connect with me. Awww, bonding time. Love it.

He is such a contented little baby. He happily plays on his activity mat two or three times a day, just staring at the toys, batting his fists and laughing at himself in the mirror. He will merrily kick around there for 30-45 mins - such a blessing when I have the other two kiddos to chase after as well! I have also been reading a lot of Janet Lansbury's articles on the benefits of free play for babies (and children of course - I'm already a big fan of that!), and it has really encouraged me to see how babies enjoy learning about their world and exploring their growing skills independently (and in their own time - we don't need to push them!). I don't need to stimulate or get involved when he is happy playing independently. He is plenty capable of making his own fun - even at this age! With two doting older siblings and, of course, all my cuddles as well, there is plenty of snuggles and interaction, but I'm also happy to give him space too to just 'do his own thing' - I love observing him lost in his own world staring at a ceiling light or toy, laughing at himself in a mirror or just punching his little legs and arms around!

Yessssss, I'm three months old!

So those incredible first three months are now over. A little sad as it is admittedly one of my favourite phases, when they are so teeny and snuggly and new. No more newborns here... ever? It is a strange thing to recognise - the end of a precious era (she says as she eagerly gives away all the baby gear, haha).

It feels like he has always been here and yet it also seems to have flown by. Was it really only three months ago that we didn't even know this beautiful little person who is now so seamlessly a part of our family? Funny how that happens! Family life seems to have so easily adjusted around our newest member...  like it could never have been any other way.

Baby Miles, we love you so!

A little collage of three months with Miles...

Sunday, 21 April 2013

16/52 - swims, strengths + snuggles



My little fish just completed a full week of swim school, and even *insert proud mama moment* passed from her current level up to the next one. This is the girl who pretty much cried every lesson for a full term when she started classes. I can hardly believe the progress! She has been so determined to face her fears, and face them she has indeed. It's amazing to see her swimming independently in the 'big pool' she was once so terrified of. Now she is so strong, so confident, so excited to utilise her skills. 

You can do hard things. Well done, sweet girl xx


A blue-eyed boy in a moment of calm - rugged up in winter woolies for the first time this season. 

My wild-hearted son has been challenging me this week - challenging me to parent him better, to know him better and reach his heart more effectively. And because I love him truly, madly, deeply, I will press on in my endeavours to do so. I am grateful God has called me to this parenting task because by learning to love and teach him well, it pushes me to grow too. Sometimes, is is hard work for everyone involved. But it is worthwhile, for sure! 

I love you, my little Tiger xx


Three months old now and getting so big and strong. 

He is no longer a newborn (*sniff*) but watching his personality emerge and seeing him get more involved in our family dynamic is worth the passing of that delicious phase!


Project 52: A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013.

Other highlights from the week that was....

Two little brothers were just lying a blanket, laughing, giggling and hanging out. Eli was singing and Miles fervently cooed to join in. I snapped a few pics and ended up with a series that completely sums up their growing interaction and bond. It's just so them... I love it!

My contented little boy happily kicking around in the
late afternoon sunshine. 

A late evening 'dream feed' and cuddle with my chubby-cheeked little Bear. 

Her proudest smiles are saved for when she holds her baby brother!
(He is looking so much like her when she was a baby, it's amazing!)

He reads to his baby brother. It is so freakin' cute!

*Btw - there are so many varied sibling dynamics and combinations to capture now there are three kids!*

Reading bed time stories with Miles. She loves to hold him during this time.This night was so funny - Miles seemed intent on being part of the storytelling. Every time (and I mean *every*time) I started reading, he would start loudly cooing 'Ahhhhhhh'. I would stop and so would he. I would start again and so would he. It was almost impossible to read and Lily and I were totally cracking up! He just had so much to say :)

Happy Fish

An icecream to celebrate the end of an intensive week of swimming, and a little girl who worked so hard and learnt
so much! 

Checking out a reptile exhibition

Transfixed by a turtle!

Yup, it's already that time of year. Flannelette PJs, cosy fleece dressing gowns and constant
reminders to keep socks/slippers on their feet!

Monday, 15 April 2013

Musings on Family Identity

Nothing quite like a sausage sizzle in the fresh country air!

Last week we trekked out to a little country town called Burra for a Family Day run by Growing Families International. It was a day of fun and games for the kids, and seminars for the parents. This year's theme was Family Identity. It was such a rejuvenating day out in the fresh country air, meeting like-minded parents and having *time* to sit down and listen to some inspiring and encouraging speakers. A good opportunity for Mark and I to focus together as parents on our own family identity. We discussed and thought about topics like - What is our family identity, what do we want it to be, what do we want to be known for, how do we want our children to feel about their family, and of course - how do we work together to instill the values and characteristics we desire into our home? 

If you are wondering what Family Identity means, start off by imagining how the neighbours would describe your family to others (sporty? loves to road trip? lots of visitors? take family walks every night? always screaming?!). Then mix in things like your family history and heritage, your family traditions and activities, hobbies, priorities, the people in your life, the ways your family spends its time, money and energy, etc and you have a sense of your family identity. The core of your identity is of course your family values and beliefs.

One of the quotes of the day that really hit home was 'peer pressure is only as strong as family identity is weak'. Part of what girds children up to face the pressures of the teen years and beyond is a strong sense of belonging in their family, a deep understanding of their identity, and a safe and nurturing place to call home. That is what we want for our children! Well, doesn't every parent?!

Mark and I just loved being encouraged to think through all those questions, recognising the strengths and struggles in our family and also working out how we can introduce other important values. We are family, and we want our nest to be a place of love, support, nurturing and training up for the adventures of life to come. We were encouraged to come up with a family motto (good ol' cheesy fun!) and we chose the words that are currently stenciled across our entry way. It kind of lays out our priorities and declares the things that really matter to our little tribe, what we value...

Yup, for now we declare this our family motto!

Family identity is why we try to instill various rich (and/or quirky!) family traditions into our home. They are ties that bind us together, memories that layer together through the years to tell our children more about what matters in our home - and how much they matter to us. Our faith is core to our family and fundamentally informs the way we raise our children. Part of what also defines our family, we have come to see, is also opening up our home and lives to the people around us. We all learn and grow together.

Well, I am sick today so I am not sure if I have written this very clearly as my head is foggy (sorry!), but I just wanted to jot down some lingering thoughts and ideas about the day. I know our Family Identity is something that will evolve over the years as our family grows, as interests wane or rejuvenate, and as we change course at times due to circumstances or need. But I think most of all, when it comes to Family Identity, I want our family to know and be known for recognising how richly God has blessed us by putting our little Five together. How purposefully He has done so, for our utmost good.

And so we live, love, laugh (and even cry!) together... in thankfulness.

A few more shots from our day out...

'let's hold hands and run together' she said

Laughs with Daddy during break time

Spending the day snuggling my baby while listening to good talks!