October 28, 2011


Ollie.  Three years old, today.

"It kills you to see them grow up. But I guess it would kill you quicker if they didn't."
(Barbara Kingsolver, my hero) 

October 27, 2011

damn you, amazon

I've never been 100% sure of what I want to do with my life but I've always harboured a desire to run my own little bookstore, selling the books I love, about cooking, art, design, and there'd be a special wing devoted to my hero Barbara Kingsolver.  I would sell great coffee, let people mooch about, flick through books, offer gift wrapping and hand made cards, home made cake and maybe even host the occasional cocktail evening when Barbara was in town on her regular sojourn.  It would be awesome.  Kind of like a Black Books with snacks.  And customer service.

But it's hard to see how that could ever be a reality.  Do people even buy books from shops any more?  I know I rarely do.  I am an Amazon junkie.  If often complain that there is no such thing as Australian Amazon; here, you order from the UK or the US and pay the postage and wait a couple of weeks before you get the stuff you had almost forgotten you'd ordered (when the poms and yanks get their stuff delivered Free!  Next Day Delivery!) and brush aside the cost to the environment of getting your $8 book.  But that doesn't stop me from ordering again, and again, spending more than I need to because $8 for another awesome book that I've always wanted seems too good to pass up and the dollar is so strong at the moment and who knows when I'll next place an order?

It's a love hate relationship.  I love it because you can buy anything, but more importantly, any book, and usually very cheaply.  I don't love it because even with the prices as they are, I spend a lot there, and it seems too good to be true, and it probably is when you think about the demise of places like Borders (if they couldn't make it, who can?).  It doesn't sit comfortably with my feelings on mass consumerism and the demise of the owner managed business, yet I can't stop myself.  I've ordered plenty from Amazon, and always been happy with my purchases, the customer service (because things don't always go right) and the price, no less now that the dollar is so strong and Amazon.co.uk has for the past year or so offered free delivery to Australia.  Online shopping, it's the future, you shop from your couch, you pay using credit, you can have anything you want and find anything you need.  When you are buying books at the rate we are, and they are so much more expensive in the shops here, what's not to like?

The idea of the losing our little bookstores, like this one, Folio Books, the one place in Brisbane CBD I can while away a whole afternoon, where every book seems to be the one I've always wanted, every book looks so readable, so inspiring, so necessary.  The little store is crammed full and is a haven in the city full of children's literature, design classics and staff that make you want to wave your hands around a bit and have a sit down.  The day that little store is no longer there, I will cry.  (I almost did yesterday when I couldn't for a moment see it amongst all the hustle and bustle and thought it had gone.)

I spent my lunch time there yesterday.  I wandered around, bumping into the other people that know it to be the gem that it is, looking at books, and then thinking, 'I must order that from Amazon one day' before realising what a hypocrite I am.  So I bought a book.  Not a cheap one either, but one that I knew I could get from Amazon for way cheaper but that's not really the point.  And in fact when I look back, I have never left that store without a book, and I've just made it my prerogative to never do so in the future.  I'm going to carry on ordering from Amazon, but I'm also going to support the shops and places I love, because unless I do, I may as well kiss goodbye to that dream of having my own little bookstore one day.

Damn you, Amazon.

October 26, 2011


Sometimes, things happen that force you into making change.  For someone that is so averse to change, someone that actually enjoys a routine, predictable life with well planned deviations, those events that force you out of what you know best can be difficult to deal with.  Then again, doing new things, especially unplanned new things has more often than not been nothing but positive.  Take Sunday for example.  A day as predictable as any other ended in the sweetest way when we dropped by our neighbours' place for the Backyard Sound Exchange, a gorgeous little afternoon of talented friends singing, playing instruments, chatting, drinking pear cider and sitting amongst the chickens and toddlers.  It was one of those evenings that made me realise you don't need much to be happy, to feel content, just seeing your children running around with other children, chasing chooks, hiding in the hen house, eating carrots and revelling in the party lights that lit up the garden moments before we left to come home to dinner and the grown ups were just getting started.

Then there are those events that might force you to make a change which could be for the best but feel so painful in the process.  Losing a job, dealing with illness, battling with the internal conflict that tears you between being what you want to be and what you have to be to keep your family afloat... they all bring out decisions that would otherwise stay away, decisions that are more often than not for the best, but ultimately, they are decisions that you don't want to make.

A couple of days ago, Sue, the lady that I have trusted with my sons for the last 2.5 years told me that she would be finishing up her childcare responsibilities by Christmas.  That's 8 weeks away.  To say that I am gutted is an understatement.  It's not just because we are going to have to give up personalised care for our little boys that's on our doorstep that they love, it's not just because it's so convenient for our daily commutes but it's that I feel so personally let down by someone I have considered to be part of our family since our boys started spending time with her over two years ago.   Everyone is entitled to make their own decisions in life, but that we only have a couple of months to work out what we are going to do...

Still.  Despite the lack of childcare spaces in Brisbane, and my fear of not getting into a centre that I'm 100% comfortable with, this is going to force us to make a change.  I wish we could afford for one of us to be at home with the boys, but being in the family day care environment has been good for Ollie.  More recently, we have recognised that Ollie will probably benefit from even more structure to his day, more friends to make, more variety.  He's never been a very adaptable child, so that's my main concern with making the change.  Unlike his brother who goes with the flow.  But Max is still just a little baby boy, only 18 months old, and it's been so nice for him to be at day care with his brother.  All that will now change, as we'll probably end up in a big childcare centre, one with different rooms for different ages and... it makes me sad that the little boys I love so much will be apart when they have spent every day together... every day since Max was one day old.

Change.  I guess we have to embrace it.  There's no other way.

October 18, 2011

white chocolate and raspberry cupcakes

What do you do on a Friday lunchtime when your kids are asleep?  Fold laundry?  Catch up on emails? Write another chapter of your novel?

Make raspberry and white chocolate cupcakes, of course.  Because you know everyone will thank you for it.

October 16, 2011

another invitation

Here it is, an invitation to Ollie's third birthday party.  (That's right, in less than two weeks he'll be three.)  Yet again, the invitation has been weeks in the making.  Weeks of procrastinating (not because we've been sitting around doing nothing, mind), then all the indecision over whether to do this or that, then finally deciding on a design and then agonising over colours, fonts, whether the trucks should be solid colour or whether we should use scans of fabric swatches.

In the end, I'm really happy with the simplicity of the final design:  Three (his age), trucks (his favourite thing) in red, yellow and green (he loves traffic lights too).  We also went for both solid colour and fabric swatches, and it will be pot luck as to who gets which one.  I'll email a .jpeg to a few people, but most will get a little card in the mail, because as much as I want to be green, I can't resist the sweetness of sending little invitations addressed to the little people in my son's life.  Little people that he's known since the day he was born.

I have been thinking for a while now that it might be nice to frame the little invitations that we've made for the boys' birthdays, maybe in a couple of years' time when they have a few behind them.  This lovely lady beat me to it, but her post reminded me that I want to do it, and it's the reason I've kept copies of the sweet little cards that both Will and I have laboured over.  The post also reminded me that I used the exact same design for Ollie's first birthday that she used for her daughter's first and it was her quilt that inspired me to make one just like it for Ollie and then another similar one for Max (finished, no less, a post on that soon).  Since then though, I've become less of an ideas thief and a bit more original with my creative efforts, although I still take inspiration from the many blogs I read and I still love Sharilyn's blog.

I don't know what my little boys will think of these invitations and their quilts and the parties and the other little things we make and do for them.  I wonder whether they will even notice that their mum and dad tried so hard to make their birthdays a little more special and personal, but I hope they will.  Not because I want thanks or recognition for any of it, but because I want them to know they are my everything, I would do anything for them, and by putting my all into their lives, it fulfils me.  Maybe they will be inspired to do the same for their kids because while it seems like hard work, there's nothing like feeling the way you do when you do your best.

October 14, 2011

a house in a box

Ever since I saw this post, I knew I wanted to do the same for Ollie and Max.  Ollie loves the idea of a cubby house and he loves to climb in and out of boxes, providing a little commentary as he goes.  So, when we ordered a new fridge a few months ago, we asked the delivery men to leave the box behind.  Unfortunately it meant leaving all the packaging and polystyrene behind too, and I've only just finished disposing of it... but last weekend, we managed to do what I had been looking forward to doing for ages... building a little house for the boys.

Will was the architect (of course), and I helped with the building and we even managed to fashion a little garage out of another box that came with the fridge box with proper garage doors (although that was after I took these photos).  The kids, they love it.  They chase each other around it, they sit and read in it, they open and close the door, run in and out of it, poke toys through the windows...  a hit.  I love that Ollie loves to sit in it with his beloved Tigger and Lambie, sun streaming in through the windows.  It's less nice but also very sweet that Max loves to run around it, squealing.  It's less than a week old but already looking worn, but I'm going to milk this one for all it's worth.  I'd love to make little curtains, window boxes and make a little doorbell, but it won't happen before it collapses.  In the mean time though, I'm going to let Ollie paint it this weekend if the weather's good.  Maybe even if the weather's not.

October 12, 2011


A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned to Will that I was keen to take the boys out to Seaworld.  Of course, Will has been wanting to do this for months.  He is the Number 1 Big Kid in my life so he needed no persuasion.  Then I discovered it was the last day of a sale on VIP Passes to the Gold Coast theme parks, giving us entry three different parks to June 2012 for not much more than the cost of entry to one park.  So we did it.

I'm not a huge fan of theme parks, but Seaworld is different.  It's a little dated, but it's full of awesome sea creatures that I knew my little Octonaut wannabes would love.  And they did.  The aquarium was an amazing, cool tunnel of sharks, little fishes (why don't the sharks eat them?), stingrays, coral... we spent a while in there, the kids were mesmerised.

The highlight for me, and possibly the children was the dolphins.  The dolphin show was awesome (Max squealed, actually squealed with delight at every twist and turn) and it was the perfect opportunity to get the kids to eat their packed lunches while they were distracted (not a fan of theme park food and prices).

And beyond that, it was all that you'd expect it to be.

October 7, 2011


Here, we have our new sand pit - now almost three weeks old.  Built by pa using a kit from Bunnings.  I fashioned a tarp cover for it (the one it came with wasn't so great) and it is very popular with our boys, who seem most comfortable when their socks are full of sand.  I bought a couple of cheap, plastic shovels, but really, all they really need (and want) is trucks, garden tools and cups.  And that's not just when they're in the sand pit.

Summer time is nearly here.
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