Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A big life change

Change is imminent.

It's exciting. Slightly overwhelming too, but full of promise and potential.

My babies start school in six months. My chest constricts when I think about it. I know they're ready; they're such eager learners, inquisitive, clever, creative and capable. They're ready. But am I?

In many ways, yes, of course I am. It's not like it's come out of the blue. I've had 4.5 years to prepare for it.

But no, no! I'm not ready. They are so little. They're tiny little dots who still wear size 2 clothes.  Next year is the first of 13 years of full-time schooling, the start of the reality that they'll spend more awake hours with peers and educators than with me. I hope I've prepared them well, instilled values and morals, taught them right from wrong, and how to practise gratitude.

We've spent a long time contemplating schools, and we are utterly smitten with one in particular. It's just right; small but perfectly formed.

We're still waiting to hear if they'll be offered places there, and we have everything crossed.

And if they do, then our lives will be changing. We will need to move, which means selling our beautiful home. This will hurt our hearts, but it offers exciting opportunities. We'll be moving to an inner-city urban area. Dense, populated, full of energy and verve.  We are urban people, so the thought of living smack bang in the middle of it is intoxicating.

We'll be moving back to where we bought our first home together, where we lived when we were newly married, before we moved to London, and to where we returned; before we started our family. We've always missed it, but for some reason, or another, thought we needed to move to do just that.

Funny how life brings you back to where you started.

Here's hoping.

Monday, June 9, 2014

The day I took the toys away

Parenting is many things, and one of those is 'tough'. Tough choices, tough decisions, and even tough love, sometimes.

My boys, unsurprisingly, are everything to me. They are wonderful, and kind, and funny, and clever, and joyous. They are spirited, and rambunctious, and precocious. Lately, though, the spiritedness has given way to outbursts, tantrums, demands, a lack of gratitude, a sense of entitlement, an expectation of more, more and more, and a host of other challenging behaviours.

The Day I Took The Toys Away began much like most days lately. Too early, and with a wail. Tuesdays are particularly fraught. It's the first day of kindy for the week, it's the only day of the week I have to be at my desk by 9am, and the 45 minute commute between the two makes it practically impossible on even the very best of days.

The breakfast battle was lost (or won, depending on which side you play for), and tearing them away from the TV to get dressed was becoming impossible. (Wow, I am actually shaking my head at precisely how many bad parenting decisions are even in that sentence - clearly, we were in need of some help).

Eventually, after far too much shouting, two reluctant and recalcitrant four year olds finally returned to their bedroom, which is where all hell broke loose.

Not content with the first, second or even fifth outfit chosen, one twin did everything within his stubborn power to remain firmly UNdressed. The second was screaming blue murder and quickly descended into the mother of all tantrums because - get this - his blanket was not on his bed in his precisely required location.

Trying to calmly explain that I was "going to be late for work. Again!!" only seemed to fuel the fire.

Chaos ensued. Actually, it was worse. It felt like the apocalypse.

So I did what I'm sure all mothers do at some point somewhere along the journey. I lost it. I became as stubborn, angry and emotional as they were. I slammed doors, yelled, swore, and cried.

They fought everything as though their lives depended on it, and I fought back. In my head, I was trying to assert some control and authority. In reality, I was doing exactly the opposite. I finally wrestled them into the car only to have somehow misplaced the keys. I howled (just like a four year old, funnily enough).

I phoned my mum who could barely understand me through the tears. I yelled some more and then all went quiet. My boys were pale and exhausted. They were silent the rest of the way to kindy and I was crushed by guilt. Crushed. I've never felt anything like it. I couldn't stop crying, and wanted to just hold them tight and never let them go.

By the time I eventually arrived at work, more than an hour (and one missed meeting) late, I had resolved to make a positive change. For all of us. No more shitty mama.

I had to face some hard truths about myself, too. I'm not as patient as I should be. Calm isn't the first word that comes to mind when you meet me. I am quick to laugh, quick to chat, quick to hug, quick to shout (and shriek). I am NOT a morning person. There are practical things I should have been doing to make mornings more pleasant.

In some ways, children are like an ugly mirror, don't you think? Every less than ideal personality trait that you've learned to moderate is mirrored back at you - raw and uncensored - in their behaviour. There's no denying some of the fault lies right here.

T and I exchanged emails and both agreed that something radical had to happen. Something swift and short and sharp to rudely interrupt the tempo that had slowly crept up and completely sideswiped us. We had had enough. Enough tears, enough tantrums, enough torture. Desperate times called for desperate measures.

So that's how it began - the day I took the toys away.

I left work early, went home, and calmly packed away all of the toys, the ipads, and the remote controls.

I took away all their toys.

Yes, all of them.

They are packed away; out of sight and out of reach.

I sat them down and talked to them about acceptable behaviours in our family and in our house. What we expect from them, from each other, and for each other. I explained how their recent behaviour had not been kind, or respectful, or fair.

I told them we had decided to take their toys away for a while because we wanted to spend time with each other rather than with things.  To us, it was clear that too many toys, too much tv (and ipad time) were the catalyst for meltdowns and bad behaviour.

They took it surprisingly well.

Two days later Hamish said to me "Mama, except for my Bid Wed Car and my snug and my Thomathes, I can't eben wemember my udder toys." Roc said, "I know mama, we can give our toys to the chrildren that don't have any toys."

If that's not a warning sign that they had too much stuff, I don't know what is.

Four weeks later, they have some of their toys back. The ones they love and play with often. The ones they learn from, stretch their imaginations with, enjoy. Wooden trains and track. Dress up costumes. Steering wheels. Lego. A cuddly teddy. A globe. The rest, I can only presume, have been forgotten. They haven't been asked for once.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

18/52: Instagram killed the blog

Between a broken lens, a photo program slower than I have the patience for, and instagram, this poor space has been very neglected.

So, after a long hiatus, here is 18/52.

Roc: bracing against the breeze after an impromptu dip in the river

Hame: there's nothing better than a bubble bath
Joining in with Jodi

Monday, March 10, 2014


"A portrait of my boys, once a week, every week, in 2014"

Hame. Way too late at night for this shizz, buster.
Roc. Obsessed with a phonetics app.
Today was a tough one. We all needed a little break.

Joining in with Jodi at Practising Simplicity

Thursday, February 20, 2014


We've come a long way on this journey to creating a calm home. Where we value space and time over stuff and being busy.

But it's an ongoing job. It's become a daily habit, in fact. Every day, something leaves this house. Usually more than one thing finds a new home.

There's no finish line, no "aha! we're done" moment. It's addictive though. These days, I fantasise about clearer spaces and a clearer mind. About getting rid of as much as possible. About - finally - properly dealing with our storage cupboards and garage.

With children, especially, there is stuff. So much stuff. I have no idea where it comes from; I can only assume it tiptoes in - under a cloak of darkness, a veil of silence - because I know we didn't buy it!

Despite stripping the house of all the boys' toys (that's a post for another day!), today, I look around and can't help but feel there is still so far to go, so instead I'm going to celebrate our progress so far.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


A portrait of my boys once a week, every week, in 2014"

The past couple of weeks have been a bit confronting, and I haven't been as present as I'd like. Too much time worrying about unknowns, and not enough time paying attention to the solid, concrete beauty beneath my feet and in front of my eyes.

So, from a very small pool of photos, these prove there were some moments of sunshine and silliness.

Hame. The family comedian. Always.
Roc. His giggle is infectious.
Entertaining themselves quietly in the morning sunshine while I watch unseen, from my bed. They knew I was unwell and kept themselves busy.

Monday, February 10, 2014

In the kitchen: gluten-free sweet potato gnocchi

I have the smallest smidge of Italian blood running through my veins, which I like to credit for my adoration of Italian food. Going gluten-free has meant reducing (and cutting out!) some of my favourite things.

The other day I really wanted gnocchi. Proper home-made gnocchi that is soft and sweet and all kinds of delicious. This was amazing.

For the boys, I simply boiled it and covered it with a fine sprinkle of proper parmesan.

T and I had it boiled, then pan fried with butter, sage and some tiny little pieces of pancetta. So good.

Sweet potato and sage gnocchi (gluten free)

2 large sweet potatoes
1 egg
1.5 cups gluten free flour
pinch of salt
handful of fresh sage, chopped


Roast the sweet potatoes in a 200C oven for approximately an hour until they are soft and tender.
Scoop the sweet potato flesh from the skin, place into a large bowl and mash with a fork.

Add the egg, sage, salt and one cup of the flour.  Stir to combine (it will start to 'come together').
Add enough of the remaining flour so that when you mix it together the gnocchi mixture starts to 'clean the edges of the bowl'. (I used all of the remaining flour, but it will depend on the size of your sweet potatoes and egg).
Tip the mixture onto a floured bench, divide into four pieces and roll one section a time into long thin 'sausage' shaped rolls. 
Chop into pieces approx 1.5cm in length. 
At this point, you will have LOADS. Freeze some (covered, in a single layer, then pop into a container or ziplock bag once frozen) of those hectic nights.

To cook:

Bring a saucepan of salted water to the rapid boil.
Add the gnocchi into the water in batches.
Once the gnocchi has risen to the top and floats (approx 1-2 minutes) it can be removed with a slotted spoon and drained slightly and keep warm.
Repeat until all gnocchi is cooked.
To pan fry, heat a pan on medium heat. Add a large knob of butter and toss in some sage leaves when the butter is foaming. Add the cooked gnocchi and toss around until golden and crunchy.

Thursday, February 6, 2014


Hame. Such a boy. Diggers, trucks, cranes, and trains.

Roc. I told him I loved him to the moon and back. He told me in no uncertain terms that actually, the moon was VERY CLOSE to earth, and couldn't I at least love him to the edge of the solar system? I do, little man, I do.

Saturday, February 1, 2014


"A portrait of my boys, once a week, every week, in 2014"

Roc: "Mama! Watch meeeeeee!"

Hame: Windows to his soul.

My heart smiles.

Joining with Jodi from Practicing Simplicity

Friday, January 31, 2014

A simple long weekend

Last weekend was the Australia Day long weekend, and as we do each year, we had friends around.

 Tropical fruit, of course.

 An Australian bush inspired table setting - foraged natives, grevilleas and gum

A gum nut bursting into bloom. Fuchsia tendrils unfurling.

Pimms. British, but perfect for a garden party. 

And that's where it ends. I put my camera down and didn't pick it up again for the whole day. Instead, I just enjoyed it. 9 hours later, after a few more rounds of food, we were only just packing up for bed.

Monday, January 20, 2014


"A portrait of my boys once a week, every week, in 2014"

These two, despite spending their whole lives within a metre of each other, could not be more different.

This week's much needed quiet time - away from the heat (and away from each other). The humidity and relentless heat sees tempers frayed and tears spilling over. I've been sure to provide them the opportunity to do something alone, and of their own choosing.

Hame. Straight to the playroom to play with his "snugs" (and his trains).

Roc. Outside to "nature", magnifying glass and tweezers in hand, exploring.
And this happened this week, too.

Playing along with Jodi from Practicing Simplicity and her wonderful 52 project

Thursday, January 16, 2014


So it's 2014 and it's already half way through January.

Time flies.

I read something recently that kind of stopped me in my tracks. I can't remember the exact phrasing but it was along the lines of; "You can't stop time, you can't go back in time, and you never know when your time is up, but you CAN create more time by choosing how you spend it."

How about that. So true. Sometimes I feel so rushed, hurried, harassed, stressed and overwhelmed - all because I believe I have too much to do and not enough time to do it. This year, I am not going to do as much. All those extra things that are not essential or necessary or enjoyable. The things that don't add value to my days or to my family. That will create more time. And I will consciously choose how to spend it - take control of my happiness, if you like.

I'm going to keep taking photos and keep learning more about how to take great ones. I can see how far I've come in 6 short months, and it's exciting to think about how much more I have to learn.

I'm starting with a personal trainer tomorrow because that's the only way I know to force myself to move.

And I've signed up to A Simple Year - 12 months of guided simplicity. I changed last year. Something flicked in my brain and I don't think the same way anymore. It's not as simple as not wanting as much stuff around me. I genuinely want for less. It's a subtle, but seismic, shift that has infiltrated my life is so many ways.

In 2013 I decided I wanted to focus on four things: getting better at taking photos; choosing happiness; practicing simplicity; and prioritising my health and well-being. It appears I'm not done with those yet.

Happy New Year. I hope your 2014 is breathtaking.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


"A photo of my boys each week, every week, in 2014"


Their first fishing adventure.

Linking up with Jodi's 52 project.


"A portrait of my boys once a week, every week, in 2014"


Early summer evening's golden light. The beach to ourselves.

Linking up with Jodi's 52 project.