Wednesday, December 31, 2014

31:12:14 365/365 Complete!

And so we say goodbye to 2014.

It has been a rollercoaster year. A year where we have watched our children grow and spread their wings, face challenges and celebrate achievements. A year where we have stood side by side with our friends as they celebrated birth and mourned death. A year filled with laughter and tears. We have spent time with friends old and new and have retraced our youth by visiting our home towns with our kids in tow, filling every second of our trip with stories of people and places that were a part of our becoming who we are today. 

We have taken a photo to mark each and every one of the days of 2014 and put them here on our blog. The special and the ordinary rolled together in a mix of what this year threw at us. Because that is life. Not always the edited version. But all gloriously colourful and real and true. 

I will end this 365 days of 2014 with a photo I couldn't have predicted on New Years day. A new family member that I was not ready for and took a while to get used to. Because we never really know what the next year will bring, do we? 

Thank you for sharing this year with us. We wish you all the love and health and happiness that you deserve. Thank you for being our friends. 

Here's to 2015!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

30:12:14 Mad Auntie Gina

​Because every family has the crazy Aunt who tries to get into the otherwise lovely family portrait!

Monday, December 29, 2014

29:12:14 Afternoon Walks

A new routine for us this year. Walks with Murphy! The day started hot but an afternoon of walking beside the lake we get to enjoy the shelter of the palm trees and the cool breeze on our skin.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

28:12:14 Crystals

I love how this collection of crystals on Rhiannon's windowsill catches the light. I was only supposed to be ducking in and out of her room to drop off some clean laundry but found myself mesmerized by the colours and textures. Walk away from the shiny things Gina, the housework won't do itself....!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

27:12:14 Books

I sort of forgot I had promised my sister to give her Christmas gift ideas for Byron and myself. There was a last minute solution of  "How about I buy us something in the post Christmas sales?" 

I thought I probably wouldn't go shopping for ages but a misbehaving christmas phone gave us no choice but to head into the shopping centre today. As we handed the phone over the counter it flickered into life. Problem solved in less than a nano-second. We looked at each other and the same word left each of our mouths simultaneously "coffee?" 

Just next to the coffee shop was a book shop. 5 minutes of browsing, 2 minutes of queuing and we found ourselves sitting side by side in blissful silence with a coffee in one hand and a book in the other. 

Carrie, there are some gifts you can't put a price on!

Friday, December 26, 2014

26:12:14 Beetroot dip

Yesterdays beetroot salad blitzed in the food processor to make a yummy dip.
I love left-overs!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

25:12:14 Christmas day

A day of family.
A day of celebration for all we have.
A day of excitement for all we have received.
A day of gratitude for all we are surrounded by.
A day of hope for the coming year.
Knowing what we want cannot be bought.
And knowing how lucky we are to have each other.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

24:12:14 A taste of home...

For many Irish people living away from the Emerald Isle Barry's tea is on the list of food products they miss most. My mum sent over a tiny wrapped gift in the Christmas parcel this year and she told me I could open it anytime over the Christmas holidays that I needed some time-out. I put on the kettle tonight and was getting ready to make a cuppa with my normal Aussie tea-bag when I decided to open it up and inside was one Barry's tea-bag! Perfect timing, I topped up my cup with water 3 times to make the most of this nostalgic cuppa!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

23:12:14 Christmas food shop

Each year we do a Christmas food shop at a local international food warehouse. It has basic shelves stacked high with otherwise hard to find items. Many European food products catch our eye and some are in larger sized containers than normal. Byron goes through a few bottles of tabasco sauce each year but I was not going to give in and let him buy this crazy big one!

Monday, December 22, 2014

22:12:14 Snowflake

When I saw images on Pinterest of beautifully iced snowflake biscuits I wanted one of the cookie cutters ASAP. They are available very cheap on-line but you have to wait 4-6 weeks for economy delivery. I was impatient and willing to pay more to get it quickly so I could use it this year. I ordered one on my phone from an Australian seller on Ebay on my work lunch break and it was in my letter box the following morning. I certainly got my $9 value from it and used the cookies as teacher gifts at the end of term. 

Then this weekend I was in my local Woolies and I saw an offer. If you bought a recipe magazine you got a free baking tray and three cutters, an angel, a star and.... a snowflake! 

I couldn't resist as the snowflake was slightly different in shape to mine. The magazine only cost $3.50 so I indulged. The $9 cutter is on the left and the free one is on the right. It's a subtle difference alright and I'm sure if I had seen the magazine offer I wouldn't have ordered my ebay one! 

Never mind, I have had fun with mine and have had my monies worth with the cookies it has helped me to make!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

21:12:14 An early Christmas

We had a brilliant day today. Christmas lunch get-together at my brothers house. It was so good to see the kids all mixing together and realise that it is getting so much more relaxing as they are growing older. We are able to let them wander off and play together without wondering if someone is up to mischief or trying to escape out a window! 

In fact the only drama today was one of the big kids. My cousin Gareth caught his foot on the corner of a sofa and ended up dislocating his little toe. While the men saw the funny side of it the women were in full on fix it mode. Gareth made it clear he didn't want to call an ambulance so with cheers of encouragement from the men (and offers to find YouTube videos to help guide me) after four failed attempts the toe finally popped back into correct alignment. We have added the story to the volume of tales that will be forever repeated at every family gathering in the future! Each telling and re-telling becoming more exciting and exaggerated! 

Dislocations aside it was a very relaxing day. The food was amazing. So many yummy things to eat, ham on the bone, a Finnish beetroot salad, huge prawns, fresh cut bread. Followed by present giving and then Christmas pudding and custard. Maybe it is living so far from home that makes time with relatives so special. As with all family get-togethers we missed those family members that weren't there to share the fun but we raised a toast to them all, near and far. 

We are a very lucky family to have so many good people in our lives. People we can laugh with and hug, raise toasts to and depend on (even if that means being ridiculed as you holler in pain while someone pulls on your foot like a crazy tug-of-war!) 

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.”– Oscar Wilde

Saturday, December 20, 2014

20:12:14 Family Photo Christmas 2014

Oh the fun we had with the self timer on the camera once it was balanced on the tripod. There were so many out-takes that will forever stay within the privacy of our pc! This was the one that showed everyone off to their best. 

What don't we see? We don't see the messy bathroom and the piles of things on the stairs waiting to be brought up. We don't see the challenges of parenting three kids with boundaries that have to change and flex to suit the personalities that are within them. We don't see the things that have tested us over the previous 12 months. The changes in employment, the preparing for exams, the ferrying kids to and from school, part-time jobs and sports. The teaching a teenager to drive, to reverse park up a steep driveway, the burnt toast or the how-many-times-do-I-have-to-ask-you-to-pick-your-dirty-clothes-off-the-floor... 

Oh what a photo it would be if it told the full story of our family! Luckily this photo has caught us on a good day. A day where we spent time together putting up the tree, singing out of tune carols and laughing and being silly in the safety of our own company. 

We are very blessed to belong to each other. We are far from perfect and like every family we have our joys and our challenges. This last year has brought change and I'm sure 2015 has a few surprises in store too but together we will do our best to support each other and to capture the best days on camera. 

As my Dad says when we raise a glass in celebration...

"Go mbeirimid beo ar an am seo arĂ­s"
"May we all still be alive this time next year"

Friday, December 19, 2014

19:12:14 Happy Birthday Myles

I am lucky enough to be God-mother to two wonderful children. A little girl around the corner and a fantastic teenage boy in the UK. They are both very different and both very dear to me. Today I am celebrating the birthday of my God-son Myles. This year he becomes a teenager. I really enjoyed seeing him when we stayed with his family in the UK in January. He has grown and changed since I last saw him but he is still essentially the same, funny person that I remember.

Happy Birthday Myles,
You are growing into an amazing young man. 
I'd love to take some of the credit for it but I think you owe it all to your wonderful Mum and Dad!
I know we live on opposite sides of the world but if there is ever anything I can do for you I'm only a text message away.
Love you,
G xoxo

Thursday, December 18, 2014

18:12:14 Chores

How many baby bibs have I hung on my washing line over the years? How many tiny socks, vests, babygro's? How many photos did I stop to take as I went about my repetitive housework? None!

So when I spent a morning with a friend this week and offered to help her with her chores why did it get me excited? Possibly because with her 6 week old twins her laundry is way more fun than my own. Tiny socks that were smaller than the pegs I used to hang them. I couldn't help but snap a pic of the washing line blowing with tiny clothes.

I'm sure my friend will think I am mad when she sees that her repetitive chore has become my photo of the day!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

17:12:14 The end of an era...

Today was a day of celebration. A day of goodbyes. A day of hugs and thank-yous. Today my baby finished Primary school. The big fish in the small pond are preparing to become the small fish in the big ocean! 

I wandered around the school smiling and waving at kids I know and teachers that have been a part of our lives since we arrived in Australia. Almost every week for nine years I have come in to do reading with my friends. We have seen hesitant kids transform with time and patience into confident expressive readers. After our weekly reading we have gone to a local cafe and had an hour of chatting and putting the world to rights. I feel like it's not just Gareth and his friends moving on but us mums too. 

Just as my heart was feeling heavy I remembered the words of my friend. I'm Godmother to her daughter who is not even due to start at the school for another couple of years. We did the maths together counting the years on our fingers until my Goddaughter will leave year six. 2023! 

And so I enjoyed the day and with a lighter heart watched Gareth enjoying the well wishes of the younger students. I was so happy to see him smile and enjoy this last special day. 

A new era is about to begin in the Baynham household. Bring it on!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

16:12:14 The Gatherer

Today was a sad day. Is there ever a good time for a funeral? Not for a 30 year old. Not for his wife and kids left behind. Not for someone who only stood in our house last month looking healthy and happy. Cancer sucks. Would he have wanted to know that he had only eight precious days from going to his GP to his final breath? Would he have done anything differently?

In the words that were spoken about him there was description after description about what a "gatherer" he was. He was the one that would ring around and arrange bbq's, camping trips, get togethers. His ability to gather friends together was going to be missed. At the end of the service was a challenge. To think of life as a relay race. To see Mitch as having run his segment and holding out the baton to the next person. We were asked to go away determined to spend our time well. Spend it in the presence of family and friends. To be gatherers. To live the rest of our lives with as much passion and enthusiasm as Mitch had lived his.

This Christmas-time is the perfect time to live this message. To reach out to friends and family that we have not spoken to in a while. Ring your aging relative. Accept that offer to get together with friends. Invite some kids around to make a mess in the kitchen.

Have fun and live every day well. Because none of us knows how many precious days we have left to live.

Monday, December 15, 2014

15:12:14 Snowflake Cookies

A big part of this weekend was spent making and eating! Hundreds of cookies were baked and then iced, ready to give away as gifts. I have my Christmas Girls Night Out tonight and everyone brings a $10 wrapped gift to do "Secret Santa"  The best part is the swapping and stealing that goes on as we unwrap a gift according to the numbers we have pulled out of the hat! This year I found a lovely white china serving plate half price in a sale. It brought a previous budget breaker into the perfect price range. I've put some of this weekends cookies onto it, added some edible glitter and wrapped it in cellophane. Another layer of Christmas paper to hide the contents and I am ready to put it in the boot of the car. I can't wait to see who gets it. I will show you what I bring home tomorrow!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

14:12:14 Christmas card

Christmas cards seem to be a dying art. I've noticed a drop in the number of cards we receive each year. Maybe people are more environmentally aware, maybe the cost of the postage is getting too much, maybe we all have less time to sit and write.

I like a physical card. Especially from my overseas friends. Many of our friends put a photo of their kids inside and it is exciting to see how much they have changed from the previous year. I know many friends are on Facebook now and maybe the idea of the annual keep-in-touch is less needed.

Our postage here in Australia has gone up significantly in the last two or three years. If I go into the Post Office with four cards I can no longer hand over a $10 note and get some change back, I'm left scrabbling for some extra coins to hand over. Even though we have started to be sensible and reduced the number of cards we post I still handed over $100 to our local Post Office last week to post this years overseas cards.

Every year I question "Is it worth it?"  I hope so. I know I love the feeling of opening a card from a friend, seeing an envelope covered in little stickers from our Japanese students, or the shaky handwriting of an aging relative.

I 'm not ready to let this art die out just yet.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

13:12:14 Dog Beach

It was an overcast day, warm but not hot. We needed some fresh air and decided to bring Murphy to a local dog beach. It was so much fun to watch him run around without a lead, interacting with other dogs and bounding back to Rhiannon for reassurance every now and then. I swear he has a smile on his face in this photo!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

11:12:14 Avoca

In Ireland there is a beautiful shop called Avoca. When I was home last December my sister bought me some Avoca baubles to hang on my tree. They are rustic and simple. Twine and wool baubles.

I don't want to pull the labels off just yet! They remind me of the evening we bought them. If I close my eyes I can go back in time, hear the Irish accents around me and feel the crisp cold air on my cheeks.

For me Christmas is a time for nostalgia where every decoration has a story and the simplest of things can bring a lump to my throat.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

10:12:14 Band Farewell

Today is an emotional day for us as Gareth has the first of his "lasts" 

Today he has his last band lesson in St Josephs. He first started playing the trumpet under the guidance of Howard Ward in 2011. He has progressed from enthusiastic to tuneful over the last three years. Today is the last time I will line his trumpet case, music stand and bag by the front door, the last day he will carry them into school. 

I think the next week is going to tough as each day brings yet another "last"

“Where words fail, music speaks.”

Hans Christian Andersen

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

09:12:14 Bah Humbug!

Murphy looks like he is feeling a little worn out by the Christmas season! He is fed up being chased around the house with Christmas props because "He looks soooooo cute!"

Monday, December 08, 2014

08:12:14 Candles in jam-jars

My sister pinned this idea on Pinterest and then told me to go look at it. 

Such a simple idea. Get an empty jam-jar and paint it with PVA glue and then wrap it in old lace. Sounds easy? 

I wish you could have been a fly on the wall in my kitchen as I tried to make these! The glue was everywhere, my hands were sticking to everything except the lace! It probably didn't help that I was using the dreg ends of a glue bottle that was lumpy and thick and that I had poured boiling water in to try to thin it out. Imagine me shaking the bottle only to realise that spatters of glue were going everywhere in my kitchen! 

The end result looks peaceful. A bit like me when I had walked away from the kitchen and helped myself to a large glass of port!

Sunday, December 07, 2014

07:12:14 Christmas cookies

I love making Christmas cookies. I have my favorite cookie cutters that come out each year to be used over and over. Now that the kids are older they don't get quite so excited about using them but I am like a child! Bring it on!

Saturday, December 06, 2014

06:12:14 Gum tree sunshine

Summer in Australia can be glorious. Most days are hot but occasionally you will get a day where the sky shimmers deep blue and the gum tree bark glows orange. A day you can walk without being fried up by the suns rays. Todays picture was taken on a walk just before tea when the harshest of the suns rays were dipping low in the sky. I could lie under a tree like this for hours and feel the shadows of the gum leaves dapple over me. I could but I won't as it is next to a road and they'd be calling the men in white coats for me!

Friday, December 05, 2014

05:12:14 Vintage Gift Ideas

I love this time of year, pottering around shops looking for inspiration and ideas. We have a beautiful local shop that sells all things posh and vintage. It is combined with a cafe so you can have a coffee and drink up the surroundings with your eyes. The price-tag normally eludes us but it's fun to browse and imagine yourself back in another time!

Thursday, December 04, 2014

04:12:14 Christmas Traditions

I love when we get the Christmas tree set up. Lights twinkling, Christmas carols playing and Advent calendars opened. Magic no matter what age!

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

03:02:14 Can I open it....?!

Lots of excitement in our house as every day brings a card or parcel from friends near and far. This parcel arrived from Byron's parents. I was bursting to open it but held back until Byron came home from work. Murphy was egging me on but I held strong! Christmas brings out the child in me!

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

02:12:14 Crazy storms

These last few days there have been some huge storms battering New South Wales. We've had blue skies changing in a matter of minutes to black. Lightning followed by rolls of thunder. Exciting to watch from the safety of the house but a bit more nerve wracking if we are still in the car. Heres a picture I snapped from the passenger window as Byron focused on getting us home in one piece!

Monday, December 01, 2014

01:12:14 A Baltic Christmas.

I love that blogging has introduced me to a whole range of friends from around the world. It is fascinating to read stories of hurricanes in Okinawa, Cultural do's and don'ts when living as an expat in Qatar, or just what another mum is up to with her kids over the school holidays. 

One of the readers of this blog, Liene, was born in America but has American-Latvian heritage. On her blog she is hosting a holiday series called "24 Days of a Baltic Christmas." It will be a countdown to Christmas showcasing Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian holiday food, crafts and traditions. If you are interested in experiencing Christmas from another culture you might enjoy a visit to her blog. I am looking forward to reading her posts over the coming weeks. 

You can find her by clicking on her logo below...

Sunday, November 30, 2014

30:11:14 Cicada

It's the last day of November. You know summer is coming in Australia when you hear the deafening sounds of the cicadas in the evening. I haven't often seen them in the daytime but saw this little one on a lunchtime walk.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

29:11:14 That time of year...

Can you believe December is almost upon us. Last week I start writing some cards. Overseas friends, yours went in the post first so watch out for the postman!

Friday, November 28, 2014

28:11:14 Ah, go on, go on, go on, go on....

Do you know Mrs Doyle from Father Ted? As irreverent a show as it is it makes me laugh. Every Irish Mammy has a little bit of Mrs Doyle in her. Pushing tea and sandwiches on any visitor and taking offence if it is politely declined! Recently I had a houseful of friends and young kids while the dads went to a boutique beer festival. We were a mixture of nationalities and the subject of Mrs Doyle came up. One of our friends is from Malta and had no idea what we were talking about. Me jumping around offering pretend cups of tea and saying "Go on, go on, go on, go on..." only added to the confusion on her face! We googled clips and watched them with tears in our eyes from laughing. 

Fast forward to today and one of those friends pulled up outside the house with a beautifully wrapped gift. I unwrapped it and found this inside.
My very own Mrs Doyle platter! Do you think it's a compliment...? I'm not sure? Time to go put the kettle on and have a nice cup of tea while I think about it. 

Do ya want a cup?

Ah, go on!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

27:11:24 Ginger

With recent exams and preparing for transition to High School and HSC coursework its no wonder butterflies have been aplenty in this house recently. Natural remedies have been googled and ginger comes up over and over again. I bought some ginger tea and ginger cookies and we have been trying them out to see if they help soothe. Have you any other alternative ideas to try?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

26:11:14 Poppyseed heart

My boy has returned!
My heart is happy again!
Expressing it in the best way I know how...

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

25:11:14 Our Favourite Son!

Happy Birthday to our wonderful 12 year old. Here are 12 things we love about you...

1: Your face. You have your Dad's face and it melts my heart to see you grow more and more like him every year

2: Your smile. Just like your Dad you are almost always smiling. How can I be mad at you with a cheeky grin like yours?!

3: Your honesty. You cannot lie. It shows on your face like writing on a page. It is a good trait. Don't lose it.

4: Your appetite. You love every single meal I place before you. You give your dinners 11 and 12 out of 10 even if it is beans on toast! When the rest of the family push their food around the plate you critique it like a Masterchef finale! Sometimes number 3 (honesty) lets me see through the words but you always try to show gratitude!!!

5: Your whizz bang brain: You didn't get your brain cells from me, I'm grateful for that! If I could count the number of times you start a sentence with "Did you know...."

6: Your ability to share. If you ever have a bag of sweets or a bar of chocolate you are the first to offer to share it out in the family. Maybe you are hoping we will share back our treats with you but you never hesitate to offer even if you only have a small amount to share.

7: You are quick to apologise. Too quick sometimes. I remember one of your sisters being mean to you when you were smaller. Your face crumpled and I snapped "Say sorry" to her at which you immediately apologised to her instead. "Not you Gareth!" I was talking to your sister. We all burst out laughing. The tension diffused because of your willingness to be kind.

8: Your affection. You were always a very cuddly child. As you get older the public hugs and hand holding are getting much less frequent. That's ok. It's how it should be. But in the comfort of our home you still give great hugs and I cherish them!

9: Your wit. Oh boy do you have some quick smart answers for me! If there is a funny answer to a question I've asked it comes out of your mouth quicker than my brain can register! How many times have I stood there with mouth open lost for words? Don't lose it!

10: Your laughter. As I stand there, mouth open trying to think of a witty response and failing miserably you break into the most amazing laughter. It starts deep in your belly and explodes out of you. You have distracted me out of many a lecture because your laughter is so infectious I lose my train of thought.

11: Your memory. You have the memory of an elephant. The small details you can recall from events ridiculously far away astounds me. Again the brain of your father. Be grateful you got his. Be very grateful!

12: You. Plain and simple. You! For the love you bring to our family. You are the third child I wanted so badly. You make our family complete.

Happy Birthday to our favourite son!

(ok, you're our only son but who's counting?!)

Monday, November 24, 2014

24:11:14 Canberra here he comes.

An early start, a 6am selfie before he got on the coach to Canberra. 

My stomach is doing knots and loops as I count away the hours till he returns. This is surely one of the hardest parts of parenting. The letting go and allowing your child to experience adventures without you. To trust other adults with your irreplaceably gorgeous child and to pray that they will stay safe and happy until they are returned to you. 

It's going to be a long three days....

Sunday, November 23, 2014

23:11:14 Early birthday celebrations.

Gareth will be away from home on his 12th Birthday. He will be in Canberra with his classmates and teachers on their Year 6 excursion. We decided to make tonight his "official" early birthday and had a cake before he went to bed. It was a crazy day with packing suitcases and getting everything ready by the door for a 5.30am start in the morning. I'm still trying to come to terms with my baby growing into such a strong independant boy. Pass the tissues someone...

Saturday, November 22, 2014

22:11:14 NinjaBread men

I love the tradition in Gareths primary school of sending in some kind of cupcakes to school so that your child's class can celebrate their birthday with them. Most classes have about 30 kids and the teacher too. This is Gareth's last year in primary school and so it is the last time I will get to do this. 

This year however there is a small problem. He will be on his school excursion in Canberra. He leaves the day before his birthday and I wasn't sure whether I would still be able to send anything with him. Gareths teacher assured me that if I could parcel something up she could bring it on the coach and distribute it on the birthday. 

I told Gareth cookies would transport better than cakes as they didn't need to stay cold. He reminded me of the set of Ninja Bread men cutters that we have. The prospect of making and icing cookies for the whole year group broke me out in a cold sweat. 60 kids and 4 teachers. It was a mammoth cooking session that took up most of the day. The kitchen floor was drizzled in coloured sugar icing and Murphy had a ball licking around my feet. 

In the end it was worth it. 6 dozen cookies were baked, although not all survived with legs and arms intact! The best 65 Ninja Bread men were chosen to ice. They covered my benchtops waiting to dry so I could stack and box them up. There was one last minute casualty as one brave Ninja slid off the edge of the kitchen bench and shattered on the floor below. Murphy the dog raced over for clean up duties while the 64 remaining Ninja's were securely wrapped and boxed ready to deliver into the hands of Gareth's teacher on Monday. 

Another "last" to cross off the list as my kids grow up faster than seems possible. 

Safe Journey brave Ninja's. May you arrive in Canberra intact and ready to be enjoyed by Gareth and his friends!

Friday, November 21, 2014

21:11:14 Worry

I have always been a worrier. When I was younger I worried so much about school. I worried before exams, I worried during exams and I worried waiting for the results to come out.

My Dad used to tell me not to worry so much. I remember once as I stressed waiting for results of a maths exam he asked whether the worry I was feeling at that very moment could in any way change my result in that exam?

No. The answers were written and handed in. The teacher who marked it would simply go through my answers and add them up to give me my result. That result was now fixed and nothing I felt or did would have any impact on it at all.

It was a lightbulb moment. It never occurred to me how futile my worry was.

As I have grown into adulthood I still worry. When the anxieties build and grow and make my stomach sick and my head ache I try to stop and remember that conversation with Dad. I try to let the worry go. Much easier said than done, isn't it?

And now I have teenagers of my own. I see them worry and I know it wont help change their outcomes either. I am trying to pass on my Dad's advice. Recently someone posted a quote on-line from the Dalai Lama. It has stayed in my head, a variation on my Dad's words. I've needed those words a lot recently.

And so this morning I lay down on the grass in my garden and took a photo of the beautiful sky above me. I decided to put those wise words on it so I can print it and keep it where I will see it often. A reminder to take deep breaths and let the worry go.

Life is changing. Situations are unfolding. Some will bring tears, some will bring happiness. My worry is not going to change the outcome of  any of them. I have to breath deep and live each day at a time and focus on the good that it holds. Today it is blue skies and unfurling Agapanthus flowers.

One day at a time...

Thursday, November 20, 2014

20:11:14 Keep calm and glow

Gareth will be going on a school excursion to Canberra next week. He chose a new pair of pyjamas which had a message in glow-in-the-dark print on the front. Of course he had to check them out to see if they really glowed. 

A torch, a dark room and lots of laughter followed. I had to try hard not to get a reasonable photo because he was laughing so much!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

19:11:14 Sweet kisses

Nothing better than a freshly washed and brushed dog.

Except maybe sweet smelling kisses before he runs outside to roll in the garden!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

18:11:14 Something's missing...

Byron is away on business this week. 
It's strange seeing his red chair empty in the mornings. 
Do you think Murphy has noticed? 

Monday, November 17, 2014

17:11:14 Happy Days

Here is a fun card that I made recently. It involved flicking paint off a paintbrush, lots of which got on me and the kitchen bench but I think it was worth it. It was certainly worth making a few in one go as it is a flexible design and one that can be used for different occasions. 

So far one has gone in the post to a family member as a "Thinking of you" card. One has been delivered with a hot meal to friends who welcomed twin baby girls to their family. One was used as a birthday card for one of my daughters teenage friends.

Back to Pinterest to get more inspiration for the next batch of cards...!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

16:11:14 Creative zone

Rhiannon's room has had a makeover. The colourful walls made the room cozy but also a little closed in. Her ever increasing love of drawing was taking over all flat surfaces and there was a clash of wills between whether her desk should be kept neat and ready to study at or covered in sketches at varying states of completion. 

I have finally conceded that what I think is the best is not always right and so three years after buying the desk we have joyfully decided it is a creative zone and I will no longer try to police it into staying neat and tidy. Studying will continue to be done on the floor/spare room/ downstairs with the in-tray being returned to the study organiser unit at the end of each day. 

This parenting journey is one of constant learning and flexibility and boy do I feel bent at times! Taking deep breaths and counting to ten as we continue walking forward in this teenage terrain...

Saturday, November 15, 2014

15:11:14 Murph time.

As we reach the end of exam week we breathe a sigh of relief. The cramming is over. The exams have been sat. The study notes are filed away. All over for another year. Results will trickle in over the new couple of weeks but we know the best effort was made and that's what counts. 

Time to sit back and let the stress go...

Friday, November 14, 2014

14:11:14 Encore!

Sian got her Piano exam results back and was delighted to have passed. She has really enjoyed learning to play the piano and finds it relaxing but she has chosen to stop her lessons now as she has begun her final High School year and will need to focus on studying for her HSC exams in 2015. 

We celebrated her amazing results with cards and roses for Sian and her teacher. I think she will always love Piano and even though she won't be actively having lessons she will still enjoy spending time playing the pieces she has learnt over the last few years. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

13:11:14 Study organiser

We are in the middle of end of year exams in our house. Every night sees piles of notes scattered over the floor in different rooms of the house. Recently I went to a very interesting evening teaching effective study skills to students and their parents. I learned a lot as my three kids are so very different and study in vastly different ways. I was absorbing ideas on how to apply the advice to each of my kids in different ways. 

One of the suggestions for kids who don't file notes in folders on a regular basis was the alternative idea of in-trays. All the student needs to do is throw the weeks notes into the relevant in-tray and then as exams approach they can remove the in-tray to wherever they study and know that they have all that subject information in one place. Subjects can be colour coded and the colour can be used on name tags on the spiral bound books to make it easier to group and locate everything relating to that subject. 

After that info night I decided to buy an eight cube shelving unit, 8 white in-trays and a packet of 8 fluoro high-lighters. We have set it up in Rhiannon's bedroom as it seems to match her study needs. We are nearing the end of this academic year and we hope that getting organised now will help us start the next school year running.

Fingers crossed this will be a system that helps to keep the stress of mountains of study notes under control.

Watch this space...!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

12:11:14 Airplants

Looking on Pinterest for ideas to  create a calm space in her bedroom Rhiannon came upon images of Airplants. These plants absorb water through their leaves from the moisture in the air. Even though it is recommended to mist them weekly they sound pretty resilient and an easy bedroom plant. 

We bought two varieties. The one in the lowest jam jar will keep growing as a single plant but the two jars above it have a clump of tiny individual plants that like to live as a mass of tangles. We used jars that were waiting to be filled with chutney at Christmas and some simple cotton twine and hung them from the inside of the windowbox. 

They drift slightly in the breeze coming through the window and give a lovely calm focus for Rhiannon as she lays on her bed. A very simple and cheap addition to her room but worth every penny. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

11:11:14 Mandala

Rhiannon has a real talent and passion for art. She is so lucky to be given opportunities in school to learn about so many diverse forms of artistic expression.

This is a Mandala that she designed herself and painted. It is a quarter image that is turned and redrawn, turned and redrawn until a full circle is achieved. She got 100% in this project and was so glad to get to bring it home where she plans on hanging it in her room.