Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Happy New Year and all best wishes for a wonderful 2014!

2014 is a massive year for us, which I'm looking forward to with a mix of trepidation, terror ('school run' - do just the words make anyone else shiver in dread?) excitement and joy.
This year my first born, my baby-boy, my darling, ever-active Sprocket starts primary school.
In roughly four months we welcome our third (and last) baby into the word, a little girl we've already nicknamed Littlest.
This year we're deciding where in Australia to apply for my Beloved to do his medical internship. While our first preference is for the Sunshine Coast near my Beloved's kin, we're also going to be putting down places like Townsville, Rockhampton, Cairns, Mackay, Geelong, Gold Coast, Melbourne. We probably won't know for sure whereabouts we've been matched until… December, a few weeks before my Beloved starts work.
Which leads me to… in ten shorts months, all going well, my Beloved will be a Doctor! The medical sort my dad calls 'quacks'.  These long (and somewhat challenging, if amazing) four years will draw to a close and we'll move on to the next step in our lives. Goodbye Student-hood! (Although My Beloved is already lining up the Masters he wants to start and depending on what specialty he decides on he'll have a further four to nine years of study while working, raking out thousands to sit exams, some of which have a fail rate of up to thirty percent.)
To celebrate my Beloved becoming a Doctor we're travelling to the UK for Christmas and New Year 2014 with my Beloved's folk. Come November next year we'll be packing up our house to sell, packing to hopefully move two states away to the tropics, and also packing for a white Christmas. With three kids.
Deep breath. Very deep breath.
It is going to be fantastic. And amazing and we are all kinds of blessed and grateful. But… deep breath.

Over at Maxabella Loves the wonderful Bron is asking what 'word' people are focusing on for 2014.
And I didn't have to think hard to realise what word I'll be focusing on.
I want to savour every moment of 2014. Appreciate it. Revel in it. Drink it in.
Because time is racing by so quickly and these precious days of my kids childhoods are just disappearing.
This is the last time I'll feel a growing baby kick-boxing within me. That I'll put my hands to my tummy and feel new life within, with all it's wonder and promise. This is the last year that I'll exult in my own newborn, spend hours admiring the ever changing expressions, the tiny curling toes and little grasping fingers as they slowly reveal who they are.
I suspect this year is one of the last that my Sprocket will reach for my hand while we're walking, will climb into my lap when he's nervous, will come to me to kiss it better and for a cuddle for no reason at all.
This year I intend to stop and let my heart sing as my kids run and play together on the shore, carefree and light as birds.
This year I'll savour their amazing, emphatic stories, wallow in the giggles as they tell me of tiny, invisible flying sharks that have hidden their toys and the ubiquitous Super-Villain who moves the bricks, spills the milk and generally wreaks havoc and mayhem.
My kids will be small for such few short years and these years will never come back. I want to savour every moment. Even the ones that have me pulling my hair out and asking the sky various aggrieved, rhetorical questions.

Sunday, December 29, 2013


The sky is unclouded, the sun burns bright. We slather on sunscreen, slap on hats, shirts, sunglasses, and make our way down to the shore.
The water is all the most perfect shades of blue and green, and with kids attached we wade into sun-gleaming water, avoiding the games of cricket on the beach, the boogie boarders in the water.
The Sprocket stays with his daddy and learns the finer art of body-surfing, the Poppet stays clamped to me, resting on 'the bump', her arms tight around my neck as we jump and float over the waves, the sea around us clear and run through with shifting slabs of light.
This is content. This is joy. I think this is what I've been looking forward to for all of my life - lolling in the ocean with my water-babies.
When the kids' lips turn blue we return to the sand and build a sandcastle, tunnelling beneath so our fingers meet. My Beloved runs back into the surf for a kid-free body-surf and my little ones and I chatter and build in the sun, the noise of the crowded beach surrounding us, sand quickly coating us.
My Beloved returns - it is my turn for the Ocean. I wade in with unalloyed happiness, diving under the first wave, swimming open eyed through clear green, watching the sun as its rays fall golden through the water, seaweed on the sand, the delicate changing colours. Rising to the surface I glide over a cresting wave, looking shoreward to see my wee ones playing in the sand with their daddy.
I float, held between sea and sky. Surf and laughter and children calling. Blue sky above and green water below.
"Hello my darling, hello Littlest. This is the ocean. As you float in me, I float in sea." I address the babe growing within, wondering if she can see glimmers of the brilliant Australian light, sense the fluid motion.
Another wave rolls in - I shoot up its face, twist in its arc and then flip down the back, float until the next set comes in. Dive under, float, glide.
This is happiness.
This is Ocean. 


-Bubbles and Christmas lights on Christmas morning. And oops. Those 'jammies are on inside out…
-Christmas Lilies. I'm addicted to the heady smell of them. We had some on the table for Christmas eve dinner, and then arrived at the beach to find the last friends down had left a big bouquet. 
-My stoic shepherd and my ecstatic angel. 
-Down the orange clay road to the beach in the evening light. 
-The long suffering hound. Doctor Poppet is in the house (or on the verandah) and Issy is getting her nose bandaged. 
-Sandy feet.
-The swell on the back beach. I could watch for hours but the wind had the kids huddling and protecting their eyes. Earlier that day we'd seen a baby seal sunning itself on the rocks, with no sign of it's mother, so when the wind increased tenfold I was worried about the little one in the rough surf… 
-My Sprocket, wet from running in the waves, caught in evening light. 
-My Poppet. Dancing on the back beach. I think the sea calls out the dancer in all of us. The unalloyed joy, the complete living in the present is so precious. 

Joining with the lovely Em over at The Beetle Shack, and all the other lovely bloggers who took part for weekly stills, moments from our week. The very last one for 2013.

Our skin is tight with salt and sun and the sound of the waves is a constant. The perfect way to unwind for a big (and very exciting, if slightly overwhelming) year ahead.

To everyone who took part in weekly stills - thank you for sharing your lives and the biggest thank you for Em for organising the linky.

It's been wonderful feeling part of a worldwide community and seeing moments of captured time from so many families. It's so special being able to look through our year in photos, remembering so many things, small and big.

Saturday, December 28, 2013


- My Poppet, looking deceptively angelic. This year she has become assertive, commanding and very take-charge. All very good things, but a bit disconcerting when she's telling the sea "Stop! Don't hurt my family!" and holding out a hand in a 'stop' gesture to order the waves to cease rolling. 

-My Sprocket, so joyous playing in the ocean. It's almost impossible for me to believe that he starts school in a few short weeks. Surely my little water-baby can't be that old? 

It's also difficult to believe this is the last of this years 52 photos. I look through the weeks from the beginning of the year and blink. How much my wee ones have grown, how much they've stayed the same. While many weeks I've been delayed or, in the worst of the morning sickness, skipped, to see the gradual change over the year has been a delight.

It's been an honour and a joy to join with Jodi of Che and Fidel and all the other wonderful bloggers who have taken part in the 52 project to take a photo of our kids each week, every week, in 2013.

Here's looking forward to 2014!

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Ocean

The sound of the sea eases through the open windows as darkness slowly falls. The relentless roll of the surf, a few stray shouts of beach-goers enjoying the very last of the light.
The scent of the sea and Christmas lilies fills the house and the children lie sleeping in the other room as  I write in the half-light. The beds are full of sand, as is the bath and the floors crunch slightly underfoot. Tomorrow I'll do a proper clean, but for now it's enough just to listen, to smell, to breath deeply.
The kids have been over-tired after too many nights staying up for carols, Christmas lights, first evening by the sea, and too many early wakings to check presents, run down to the sea, but in between melt downs today has been a perfect day, with the little ones squealing with delight as they boogie board, experiencing their first dumpers, run along the shore, follow the twisty-turny paths through the ti-trees, and meet all the second cousins and first cousins once removed that converge over summer.
Shoes are forgotten as we feel sand and sun warmed earth beneath our feet and worries and cares disappear. All the stresses of the past year are fading, excitement about the promise of the new year grows almost hourly.
By the sea - always restoring, renewing.
We are so very, very grateful for this magical time of peace.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas every one! Wishing you and all your family a joyous (and relatively stress free!) Christmas. xxxooo

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Stills from our (very Christmas-y) Week

 - The advent calendar. Once we've lit the Advent lights and read the Christmas stories the kids get their advent  chocolate. Highlight of their days.
-Nativity. I went a little mad on the gold paint this year. It's a little addictive. Grasses, twigs, gum nuts. Everything we found out walking got sprayed… and then the can ran out…
-Our rather lopsided Christmas Tree. Sign me up for Christmas-Tree-Decorating 101. With mostly thrifted and handmade decorations… I seem to have lost the ones from past years and the kids have claimed many as toys…
-Our beach Christmas tree. Now at home on the mantlepiece.
-Our beach Christmas tree amidst the excess of 'stuffs' I threw at the mantlepiece.
-Sprocket, admiring the Christmas candles and eating his Advent chocolate.
-Poppet and Sprocket at the beach.
-Poppet & Sprocket running down to the sea. The day we got the good news my Beloved passed third year med-exams. One more year to go! O the relief!
-Tinsel forgotten on the water.
-My Beloved with 'the limpets'. True joy is floating in the sea with little ones attached!
-My Poppet. She's a klutz like me. She'd just been warned to be careful with the Big M and hold it in both hands. "It was the Super-Villain who did it!"

Joining with the wonderful Em of The Beetle Shack for a very Christmas-y Weekly Stills. Only two more sleeps! (And… being all nostalgic… this time last year.)

Saturday, December 21, 2013


- Poppet, my beach angel. On the hottest day this week I took some tinsel down to the beach to take some photos for a family Christmas card. The kids were not fans. They wanted to be in the water now
-Sprocket. Blowing out one of the advent candles - this candle is from last year and smells of frankincense and myrrh. It was so hard to chose photos this week but I couldn't resist the gold tinsel of the first photo combined with the frankincense and myrrh of the second.

Joining with the lovely Jodi of Che and Fidel and all the other wonderful bloggers taking part - a photo of my kids once a week, every week in 2013.
Only one more week to go and I'm sighing gustily as I look back on the year. Looking at the photos from the beginning of the year the kids have grown so much!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Did Mary Get Morning Sickness?

Being with child in the lead up to Christmas, I find myself repeatedly wondering things about Mary that never come up in the Gospels. Or even any Christmas sermons I've listened to.
Did Mary get morning sickness? Heartburn? Constipation? Leg cramps? Cankles? Insomnia? Bloody gums? Nose bleeds? Haemmorhoids? Fainting? Breathlessness? Carpal tunnel? Pelvic instability? Varicose veins?
You know, all the millions of things listed in the pregnancy books and websites that tell you each week what you can look forward to, so you can go down and tick them off. Yep. Yep. That one. Oh, and that one. Aha. That was last week. That one must be saving itself for next week.
I tend to assume Mary probably escaped most of the indignities, on the grounds that she was young, presumably active, with a healthy diet of loaves and fish and olives. Being not so young and not so active, with not such a healthy diet, I seem to have got all of them. None of the serious ones. Just the little niggles. (And let's be clear, while few of the niggles are things I want to talk about in company, now the morning sickness has gone I just want to dance with relief I can actually eat again. And you know, put together a semi-coherent sentence.)
Oddly, I find myself wondering about Mary's pregnancy complains more at say, 3.59 in the morning when I'm reaching for the quickeeze and counting donkeys.
At halfway through my pregnancy I am already large enough that I spend car journeys shifting around trying to make my belly more comfortable, especially as it goes into tight Braxton Hicks. Our last journey to the beach house had me considering Mary's donkey ride from Nazareth to Bethlehem with great sympathy.
I don't think I've ever ridden on a donkey, but every time I've ridden on a horse I've walked stiffly and uncomfortably for the following days. Not pleasant at the best of times, but nine months pregnant? Ouch.
Come Christmas day we have a four hour round trip to my Grandmother's house for Christmas lunch. Come Boxing day we've another four hour drive to our beach house. I look forward to lots of shifting around while my hyped-up, over-sugared kids squabble and wail in the back. But poor Mary went miles and miles and miles. Listen to all the songs about it!
This morning, instead of lying in the dark counting donkeys, like I should be doing, I decided to google map the distance between Nazareth and Bethlehem.
I blinked, and then blinked again.
According to google, it's only a three hour walk. Fourteen kilometres.
I'd always assumed it took weeks, if not days.
I would have sworn that little donkey was plodding onward for months! Obviously, if I'd bothered to look at a map I would have realised it was silly to think the journey was quite so long. And maybe there are hills or mountains in the way? One day I'll go and find out for myself.
Of course, with everyone rushing around for the census there could have been donkey jams to draw it out awhile, and we'll throw in an hour for toilet stops, but still.
On reflection, I have decided that the fact so much fuss has been made, that those three hours (and two minutes, according to google, although that's walking. Oddly, they don't have a donkey icon) have been talked, sung, preached, danced about for over two thousand years, is oddly comforting.
For two thousand years people have realised that traveling during late pregnancy (especially on a donkey) is A Big Deal.
I hereby expect those twenty four hours I spent flying to the UK (and back) while pregnant with Poppet, with morning sickness, and chasing a one year old up and down the aisles, to be sung about for at least a few months. Of course Poppet, while in my eyes completely miraculous and amazing, has no claims to the divine.
A quick check of the temperature during what is thought to be Jesus' actual birth month of September (at least according to calculations that seem vaguely reasonable to me) shows me the reason why Mary and Joseph arrived so late at night - average temperatures around Nazareth and Bethlehem in September are about 31 degrees celsius, with a dry heat. I wouldn't want to travel (especially while nine months pregnant) until the heat of the day was well gone.
Now, I'm still not entirely sure why Joseph didn't go the day before to book a room, if it was only a six hour round trip. You know, wife about to give birth and all. To the Son of God. It just doesn't look good. I'd assumed the journey took weeks, so he had an excuse. But hey, Guys.
Of course, it seems highly possible that the donkey ride precipitated the birth, and Jesus was actually due a month later, so they didn't know Mary was about to give birth. Although of course, they didn't have dating scans back then, so the due-date would have been even more of a guesstimation. More of 'the baby should arrive... well, sometime in these two months.' Although even now we go a lot on Time of Last Menstrual Cycle… so depending on how knowledgeable they were, they might have had a fair idea. Give or take two weeks.
Maybe I should go back to counting donkeys now. It appears that in addition to all the other pregnancy symptoms baby-brain has arrived. (Baby-brain: Coherent thought, coherent thought… aw… my baby kicked! who's a clever darling. What was that again?)
O yes, so, still pondering.
Donkeys. And did Mary get heartburn?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

We Passed!

We passed.
Third year medicine is finito.
 One more year to go and my beloved will be Dr Beloved and I will be Mrs Dr Dear, just like Anne of Green Gables, but without the red hair.
The biggest exams of the course are over and next year my beloved just has to turn up at all his rotations, look reasonably neat and not offend or kill anyone. (Those of you who know him, don't laugh. He can look neatish when he really tries, and I don't let him go to the hospital in his ugg boots. At least, not during term time.)
Picture me spinning giddily, with joy, relief and pride. (Not literally. When my Beloved called me through to tell me my hands were all over applesauce and cinnamon as I was in the midst of making very sticky Christmas decorations. The first batch is in the oven now and the house smells divine.)
This year was hard. Really hard. And there was a good ten weeks there when I was non-functioning and my Beloved was a. working 10-14 hour days on the paeds wards, b. studying for the major exams and c. doing the vast majority of the kid-stuff as I was busy throwing up, sleeping and wandering around in a sick, starving haze.
Champagne isn't on the agenda (at least for me - the whole pregnant thing precludes it) but fish and chips on the beach sounds like a pretty good way to celebrate! I better go start packing bathers!
(Can I just say it again, we passed. We did it. I am sooo proud!) 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Hand-y Christmas Wreath

There's something about Christmas that inspires me to make things. While the rest of the year I might be a bit slack with the glue stick, come Advent and out comes all the craft materials. 
Last week we all sat down and made a Christmas wreath for the front door down at the beach house. My parent's neighbours have one which I've greatly admired, so this year I set down to do a (rough) replica. 
As with all my favourite craft activities, this one is very easy. All you need is coloured paper (we used some wrapping paper from Oxfam), cardboard, glue, and a pencil. 

Step One. Cut a rough wreath shape out of cardboard. (Any old box will do) 
Step Two. Help your kids trace their hands on the paper you've chosen. You can either trace multiple times, or trace once or twice and then use the original as a template. 
Step Three. Cut out the hands, or help your kids to cut out the hands. 
Step Four. Paste the hands on the cardboard, layering as you go. A very kid friendly step! 

Voila! One wreath! 

Poppet, gluing hands.

 Sprocket. Using left over hands and scraps to make his own 3d collage.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Seashore Stories

Sand and tide and the lull of the surf. Seaweed swaying and creatures of the deep. 

Perhaps because I was a children's librarian for so many years, I always like a theme, whether singing water-y songs when the kids are in the bath, travel songs when we're in the car, or picking books around different themes. When we went down to the beach last week I packed light (for me) and only tucked ten books in the bags. Of course, I picked up a further three at the op-shop, but I started out with ten. Five Christmas themed books and five beach themed books.

Trying to keep my seashore stories down to five was hard, but the ones I ended up with were well loved favourites.

Magic Beach - by Alison Lester. Alison Lester is one of my favourite Australian Authors and we read and re-read many of her books. There's always so much to look at in the illustrations and the text never jars and always flows. I love how she shows children's imagination and the colour and whimsy of her works. Magic Beach is one of my very favourites, with the rhythm of the text reminiscent of the sound of the sea. Everything in her story is so very familiar, and it's such a lovely book to read in a bed full of sand, when you can hear the sea, with a little one tucked on either side.

The Hidden Forest - by Jeannie Baker. Another amazing Australian author/illustrator. Jeannie Baker's illustrations never fail to blow me away. The detail of her collages is just stunning. As a child I remember listening to her talk about how she makes the collages and looking at some of the collages in the flesh. I was (and still am) completely entranced by the little world she creates so laboriously and with such love. This story, that touches on themes of conservation and wonder, is one I never tire of reading. Each page is a true work of art and almost heart stopping in its beauty.

Marina - by Jan Harper, ill Judith Crabtree. I had this as a little girl and it's about a mermaid who comes to land looking for a kiss from a true friend which will give her land-people legs. (I read it before The Little Mermaid came out.) She meets false friends who want to trap her, but finally meets a true friend. I was perhaps overly influenced by this as there's a novel sitting on my hard-drive I wrote as a teenager with a mermaid protagonist with a very similar name.

Stella, Star of the Sea - by Marie Louise Gay. Bright and sparkling and cheerful this is such a happy book it can't help but make you smile.

Big Blue Whale - by Nicola Davies, ill. Nick Maland. I've always thought it important to make sure boys in particular get  to read lots of non-fiction. My Sprocket isn't as interested in fiction but he'll read non-fiction again and again and I'm constantly reminding myself to read more of it. Space, spiders, snakes, the weather. You name it, he's fascinated. Fiction? Not nearly as much. This non-fiction picture book is lovely, with charming illustrations and straightforward text as it details the life of a Big Blue.

(please excuse dodgy, blurred photos and lack of links!)

Do you have a favourite beach book? One you read again and again? Any recommendations?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Great Reveal - boy, girl or monkey?

We had our twenty week ultrasound today.
I've been counting down for days. I woke up and turned to my Beloved this morning and beamed 'we're going to see our baby today!'
Poppet came along with us to the hospital and was very good. I managed to spill my water three times, but Poppet was very good. While my Sprocket would be quite happy to swap the baby for a spider, or a kitten, or even a chicken, my Poppet is quite keen on the idea of a baby and wouldn't even swap one for a puppy.
I hopped on the bed, the jelly went on (Poppet looked very interested at the mention of jelly) and we saw our littlest one. There was a lot of looking at blobs and going 'hmm, yes. That could be… something.' But there was also a lot of oohing and ahing over tiny toes and fingers, leg bones, delicate spines and heart-mushing profiles. The steady little heart beating was amazing.
Yes, it's the third time I've seen it - but each time it blows me away. There's a little person in there, listening, kicking, punching, peeing (surely not every twenty minutes - ugh!) growing.
The sonographer was great. He used lots of words like 'wonderful' and 'very healthy' and 'I'd be happy if my brain looked like that'. I suppose he must be used to dealing with nervy parents. I wasn't as nervous with Sprocket and Poppet. I suppose I know more now about all the things that can go wrong.
Our dates changed once again - but I tend to look at the dates as a leetle bit of a guesstimate.
And… boy, girl or monkey?
We've had a lot of people ask it we were going to find out. My Beloved and I have never been in any doubt about it. I read the ends of books if I'm unsure of the ending. I google the plots of movies to make sure I want to see them. I'm not a surprise kind of girl.
And we're going to need every day of the next twenty weeks to argue over discuss the name. So...
Well, the sonographer wouldn't bet his house on it, but he would go so far as to say he's ninety to ninety-five percent sure… we're having a little girl!


- Our Christmas Dog. We didn't bring many toys down to the beach, but went to the op-shops in the first day and picked up some Christmas stuff. Hours of entertainment in a few Christmas hats! 
- Our Gluten free Christmas pudding. Made for my father-in-law (my Beloved was up till one as it took sooo long to steam). Unfortunately, he had to leave early to pick up some medicine… so it turned into my breakfast for the week! 
- Wet foliage at Point Addis. All week rain and shine seemed to swap every hour or so. Our Point Addis trip to see the caves was one of the wettest time! 
-Our makeshift Christmas tree. A branch and a can of paint and voila! 
-Poppet walking the back-beach. A new-old op-shop dress. I wasn't sure of it as it seemed very frilly, but I thought in the end it looked gorgeous. 
-Twenty-weeks. I can't believe we're half-way through. We have the ultrasound this week and are so excited. I also can't believe my bump is probably under half the size it will grow to… 
-Sprocket and Poppet going over the path to the back beach. 
-The kids in their PJ's playing with Sprockets new tool bench their Nana Sheba brought down from Queensland. Shortly after this Poppet decided all the screw fastenings were rings and began putting them on my fingers. 
-Sprocket eating his porridge. He may be appalling at eating veggies but at least he eats his porridge. He'd be quite happy to have it for lunch and dinner as well. (Okay, he often does.)
-The kids being swung in the hammock. (Or the space ship/rocket/sea ship, depending on their mood) 
-The kids in the sea. My Sprocket is an ocean boy and loves the waves. We don't want him to swim for awhile yet because of his grommets, but he's so desperate to get in and eager to go under. My Poppet is still very suspicious of waves. 
-Poppet on the way home. She reached the top of the dune steps and flung herself down on the path. 'I'm tired.'

This past week has been a beautiful, lazy beach week with nowhere in particular to go and nothing in particular to do, just listen to the sea, walk along the shore… bliss. This week is a lot more busy, doctors, dentists, end of year break ups, results, last minute Christmas shopping, Christmas card and present making… but I'm hoping we can hold on to some of last weeks calm!

Joining with the lovely Em of The Beetle Shack with moments from our week.