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I am standing in the kitchen, where I suspect I spend eighty per cent of each day, you are in your highchair investigating various bits and pieces that have been placed there for your amusement, none of which are actual toys. The kitchen is a scene of chaos: food preparation spread across one bench and dishes waiting patiently to be washed across the other. Your brother races in holding a stapler he has pilfered from the office, bouncing from one foot to the other in that crazy excitable way he has. “Look Eloise” he says, opening the stapler wide like a beasts mouth ready to devour his pray. He slams it shut and you break out in hysterical laughter while I observe the scene wondering if it is wise parenting to let a three year old play with a stapler. Open. Shut. Giggles. Open. Shut. Giggles. And so it goes: the two of you playing your game where he acts the clown and you, the ever enthusiastic audience.

My dear sweet girl I must apologise for the lapse in letters. Something you will likely learn about me is that unfortunately on the scale of routine to erratic I lean much more toward the latter. My absence has not been from lack of things to write of. Not at all. In the last three months you have morphed surely and steadily from a stationary baby to a sitting, crawling, and now standing (god help me) infant. Nothing is safe anymore. The baby gate has been erected and I am in that constant state of alertness that comes with a crawling, standing baby: always at the ready to pull some tiny non-food object from your hand. I’m also coming to realise that if I want to keep dressing you in white Wondersuits, daily sweeping and mopping will be required.

This newfound mobility means play with your brother is getting easier. It tends to be a mix of happy giggles and hair pulling. He really actually adores you. And you, him. And I’m surprised that already the two of you seem to have this bond and certainly a strong affection for one another. On kindy days when we drop him off he always give you a kiss goodbye. Always. And in the mornings when you wake he asks me to lift him into the cot so he can play with you. There are also tears, of course. When you get your chubby hands on his lego creations, when he gets too rough with rolling you over, when you laugh at his tantrum-ing four year old ways. But the smiles and laughter far outweigh the tears. And seeing you two together is the most joyful sight to my tired, sleep-deprived eyes.

It has been a joy these last few months getting to know you. You remain a happy and easy-going baby: smiling for strangers with your big dark eyes and sweet dimpled grin. When you do cry you are easily placated by food, sleep or cuddles. Which is just as well because although you are not a noisy child, when you do scream it is at a volume that leaves ears ringing and ensures that your needs are seen to right away. Oh and I have to tell you about your Pterodactyl squawk. It is equal parts disturbing and hilarious. You squawk when you’re excited, when something is funny and probably most often when you are waiting impatiently for dinner. My girl, you love your food. Almost anything we put in front of you, you are happy to eat. Except banana and avocado which is surprising considering they are two of your brothers (and mine) favourite foods. It is certainly a relief having another child who is a happy and willing eater, which is just as well because you are still a pretty terrible sleeper. Good thing I’m experienced in this whole sleep-deprivation caper (your brother has given me good practice).

I just adore you Ellie, you bring so much joy to our family.

Love mummy. x

More letters to Eloise.
Letters to Lachlan.

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Happy Mothers Day

To you, the mothers in my life, thank you. Thank you for your words of wisdom and your practical suggestions, for sharing your hard learnt lessons and sometimes just making me feel like I’m not alone. Your words have buoyed me when I was sinking and inspired me to be the mother I want to be. Thank you for sharing this wonderful, crazy journey with me, Happy Mothers Day.

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My most treasured pieces of mothering wisdom

Use Your Knees
It’s easy to forget but even small children with big personalities and oodles of attitude can still find the world and all its rules a most daunting place. When I find myself at the beginning of an unwinnable power struggle with my son simply remembering to bend my knees, look him in the eye and talk to him is all I need to solve the issue. It stops the threats (mine) and the frustration (his) and nearly always leads to a happier home.

Do what works for you
There is no right way to mother. Only your way, that works for you and your family. Often parenting choices are presented to us in dichotomies: breast or bottle, cot or co-sleeping, pram or baby-wearing, cloth or disposable nappies, and so it goes on. But we are not rigid all or nothing beings. At times I’ve been a breastfeeding, co-sleeping, sling-wearing, disposable using mother. And at other times I’ve fed my baby a bottle and put her in a cot. Learning to do what works for me has saved my sanity and gifted me the joy of freedom to be the mother I want to be.

This too shall pass
A good friend first said this to me when I was in midst of a baby waking every hour sleep-deprived hell. It has become a mantra I repeat often, usually accompanied by closing my eyes and breathing deeply. When I open my eyes I am calmed and comforted and most importantly reminded that while the days may go slow the years go fast. These are days to not simply endure but to treasure.

What’s your most treasured mothering wisdom?

Running on empty

As I stepped from the shower this morning and considered what to wear for the day all I could think of was how much I just needed to put my tracksuit pants back on and stay at home for the day. How I needed to just be here with my babies. Mothering of two little people who collectively wake about a hundred times a night is, to be honest, leaving me running on empty. I have all these intentions to be productive, to exercise, to write. Yet I’m in survival mode which involves ensuring we are fed and clothed (even if they are fished, crumpled out of the washing basket) and loved and then falling in a heap by 8pm. And this feeling of being overwhelmed and underachieving is a sentiment I see echoed across the spectrum of motherhood.

Earlier in the year I made the intention to expect less, from myself, from my children, from each day. I didn’t mean it as a metaphorical waving of the white flag on life. In fact the opposite. For me, expecting less is about appreciating more. Instead of feeling disappointed in all I failed to achieve, I’m grateful for the meal I nourished my family with, for the soft arms of my son as they wrapped around me, for the baby giggles and squeals. Accepting that these will be the sole achievements for my day does not make me a failure. It makes me a mother, doing her best to live a happy life.

Do you think you expect too much from yourself?

Dear Eloise: Four Months

I sit in your room in the chair by the window, soft afternoon light speckling your perfect olive skin as you nurse contentedly, occasionally pulling back your head to look your big dark eyes up at mine. It’s a rare moment of quiet while your brother is occupied, my phone is out of reach and your dad is working. It’s just you and me and that spectacular afternoon light. As your little hand reaches across my face I take hold, wrapping your fingers around mine as I try in vain to imprint this fleeting moment in my eternal memory.

I find myself often racing through the day from one ‘to-do’ to another, the afternoon and bedtime wrangle arriving before I feel I’ve had a chance to have my fill of your loveliness. Because you are, so lovely. And regardless of whether you are our last baby, you will never again be this age, never again learn for the first time to grab your toes and pull them delightedly into your gummy mouth. So each day I try my best to take leave of the rush and just be with you, to observe you in this moment in time.

And my girl there are plenty of moments each day that I just feel my heart swell with joy. Perhaps none more so than seeing the love grow between you and your brother. You reserve your biggest smiles and your heartiest laughs just for him. Often you will be mid cry and he will work his silly-face magic and within seconds your red angry expression will have softened into smiling eyes and a toothless grin. This is not to say that things are always harmonious between you. I find myself constantly reminding your brother to be gentle with you, to watch out for you. Sometimes those requests for gentleness don’t always work and occasionally an overzealous arm will be flung your way. Mostly you take it in your stride, learning to be tough for the mere fact that you have a rough brother. A few weeks ago, an hour before your dad and I were due to leave for a rare date night, your brother, in his excitement, connected his elbow loudly with your head. And you screamed and screamed until I could calm you at the breast. Movie night was cancelled and I instead spent the night checking your head for swelling. Thankfully such incidents are few and far between.

We’ve reached the four-month sleep regression stage where the developments come thick and fast and you are trying your best to take it all in. So you are waking more, crying more and generally more unsettled. Yet your easy-going nature makes navigating these developmental leaps only mildly challenging. And it’s a wonder to watch those connections form in your brain while you learn to use your hands and coordinate your body to grab things and bring them to your mouth (which by the way makes me terrified for all the tiny paraphernalia scattered over the house courtesy of your brother). You roll with ease now and move in a worm-like wriggle from place to place. I fear crawling will not be too far away.

Beyond the physical milestones you are increasingly intrigued by the world around you. As you sit on my lap your still slightly wobbly head turns from side to side observing the sights: inquisitive mind ticking over behind those brown eyes. Sometimes you will let out a squeal of satisfaction or a babble of conversation and I wonder at what your voice will be like, at the actual conversations we will one-day have. For now though, I’m busy enjoying wrapping my arms around your squishy body, smothering your face in kisses and delighting in that utterly endearing incomprehensible babble.

I love you beyond measure baby girl.

Mumma. x

Letters to Lachlan
Eloise at three months.

Dear Eloise: Four Months

Dear Eloise: Four Months

Weekly Stills: Grass

Weekly Stills: Bulimba Sailing Squadron

Weekly Stills: Toddler threading beads

Weekly Stills: Marimekko cups

Weekly Stills: Toddler Swing

Weekly Stills: Toddler Easter

1| On an early morning walk to the park, this reed caught the soft light so perfectly.
2| Brisbane Sailing Squadron.
3| Working on those fine motor skills.
4| Some Marimekko loveliness, a belated birthday present from my sisters.
5| “Higher” he yells, always, higher.
6| Easter hat boy found an Easter egg!

Hope your week is going well and you’re recovering from the food coma that is Easter. I know these stills and 52 posts have been what’s kept this blog going. I hope to be back very soon with some posts that I can’t wait to share with you.

Linking up with the lovely Em at The Beetleshack.
More stills.

The Monster & Me: Letter to Lachlan

Dear Lachlan,

You are thirty one months old and if I ever worried you were late in talking, those fears have long since been put to rest. I remember the early days and weeks and months of your life and the strange loneliness I felt while I mothered you: the house quiet but for your cries and my own voice self-consciously narrating our daily routine. Actually having a conversation with you felt a lifetime away and yet, here we are, conversing every day, and despite occasionally longing for a moment of quiet, I just love this part of mothering.

You like to tell us what you are doing, what you are thinking, what you think we should be doing (have I mentioned how bossy you are?!). There is no internal censor when you are two. And as you narrate your life and your thoughts to us, I can see your mind expanding with connections: you look at an Australian flag toothpick staked in your toasted sandwich and remark “it’s a flag, like Ethan’s” (board shorts he wore on Australian day), you see a plane flying and you remark “Ma-ma’s plane, go to South America” (which she did a few months ago). You are fiercely observant and smart to boot. And you make us laugh at least once every day.

The Monster & Me: Letter to Lachlan

Always an active child, your latest physical endeavors involve jumping and rolling and hopping. But mostly jumping. And mostly off things that look far too high for a 95 centimeter tall toddler to be launching from. Launch you do though. Sometimes even at people, a fifteen kilo boy is leaping into their unready arms their only warning. Miraculously all your bones remain intact even if your legs are a constant polka dot pattern of bruises.

The Monster & Me: Fingal Lighthouse

Lachlan you continue to challenge all that I know of patience and understanding. And teach me everyday about kindness and love.

You light up my world and I love you.

Mummy x


More Letters to Lachlan
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The Monster & Me: Father & Son
The Monster & Me: Father & Son

“No mummy!” he says, palm outstretched to me in a sign of “do not interrupt”. He implores his dad “keep me safe”, from me that is. They laugh at their in-joke. A joke that doesn’t involve me. I watch from the sidelines, un-offended at my son’s rejection, my husband’s lack of inclusion. They continue with their games: pinching and play boxing, imaginary tigers and toddler acrobatics complete with “look no-hands” supermans and jumping off high things. Sometimes I try to join in. But I’m an obvious imposter into their little world of make-believe and tough guy antics: I squeal too loud when pinched, and don’t understand the rules of how to feed the hungry tiger.

Their relationship is a special one. It is full of fun and antics and teaching and respect. So when Lachlan’s palm goes up to me and I’m smilingly told to “go away”, I don’t mind. In fact it makes me immeasurable happy, this precious bond between my husband and our son.

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