Thursday, 18 September 2014

37/52 - long and lazy beach days


'Lily is Speshl'

Yes, you are, baby girl, yes, you are. 

I love discovering these remnants of play, from our wonderful family-filled week on the beach. This girl had the time of her life, running wild and free on the beach all week, with cousins galore to accompany her. She takes her role of oldest cousin so seriously, watching out for all the many babies and toddlers!


My little 'old man' partaking in his morning ritual of surveying the ocean for whales or dolphins with his 'binocleyers'.

(On the last morning we spotted some dolphins, and must shrieking and squealing followed - mostly from me!)


Hard at work, digging in the sand. 

He turned into such a big boy during these holidays, but those squishy little cheeks betrays his status as my forever baby. FOREVER, I SAY!! ;)


We celebrated Father's Day by the beach. 

And what better way to celebrate than being woken early by your horde of children, a delicious breakfast in bed and then a looooong morning sleep in? 

This was topped off with a day chilling out on the beach and yummy Indian take away for dinner. A good day for Dads and for the whole clan. It was awesome to celebrate the many wonderful Dads in our family on this day too :)

As always, I am ridiculously thankful for this fella. The father he is to our Trio just takes my breath away. A loving, fun, wise, engaged, gentle, hard working father, who is truly present for his family and involved in every aspect of family life. Some say you don't know what you've got till it's gone (well, the Counting Crows say that, anyway!), but we know now. We really do. We got a good one :)

Project 52: A portrait of my family, once a week, every week.

More highlights from the week that was...

(Before the trip)
Little scenes that make my heart smile.... like noticing three little toothbrushes clustered in the bathroom.
Thankful for three cheery little grins in our home!

Just days before we went to the coast, a big milestone occured in our family. Mark's lovely parents moved to Canberra,
all the way from Perth, after many years of planning. It is the dawn of a new era for our family - how happy and blessed we are to have them here with us!! The kids, needless to say, are crazy-excited :) They are living with us while house hunting and it's so nice to have have an abundance of time instead of fleeting visits. Grandparents are the best, I tell ya!

Off to Kiama. It was a little rainy on the afternoon we arrived, but thankfully not for the rest of the week! The kids were
happy to take the opportunity for a little puddle splashing :)

Waking Dad up for cuddles on Father's Day - surprise, Daddy!! ;) 
A little Father's Day gift. The kids had so much fun painting the cardboard letters and the frames. Perfect for Dad's desk
at work! Note that I didn't even attempt to get a shot of all three of them holding their letter together - I knew that was
never going to happen!!!! :)

Sprung - sand flinging!! Thankfully this was a very rare occurance :)

It was amazing to have seven days with the beach literally on our door step. So easy to stroll down for a sand session then back to the cabin whenever we pleased. Luxury, I tell ya! Felt so relaxed and the kids just played endlessly in nature's sandbox.

I wanted to capture the smattering of sand on his cheek, and he gives me his best Blue Steel.
This is the holidays of childhood: A sand and chocolate covered happy face.
The big project for the week: the kids took it upon themselves to dig this huge hole - then attempted to build a bridge
over the hole!

Auntie Alex organised a fun treasure hunt for the kids one afternoon. Picture seven little kids who rarely get sugar gleefully tearing around the grass hunting down lollies!!! It was adorable. This is one of the triplets digging into his bounty :)

Surveying 'bridge' progress.

They assured me it was a bridge but it sure was starting to look like a camoflauged booby trap to me!! ;) Thankfully no one was lured in!
The more I learn to trust my kid's risk-taking judgement, the more fascinating it is to watch them assess situations on their own. I sat quietly while Lily announced she was going to test the bridge for walking on. She gingerly put out a foot, felt the bridge start to bow, and decided for herself that it wasn't strong enough. 

Our little row of cabins. It was so perfect to be right on the beach for the kids to run and play, to be right next to each other
so we could easily visit and hang out but still have our own space. We couldn't get the two-story place as it was already booked, but we had the other five cabins here and it was just wonderful!

Speaking of risk taking!! This little monkey clambered up this rock face, with me
making my way behind her. I loved watching her confidence as she carefully assessed
and made her way to the top without fear. It's so easy to hold our kids back by
undermining or 'be careful'-ing them back from their desire to explore. The more
I stand back, the more I realise how capable they are of making really 
good choices about what they can safely do. 
The best spot on the beach was this little sandbank. The kids looooved rolling, sliding, jumping and leaping down it, with
such a soft landing. They must have gone up and down it hundreds of times!

Having the time of his life, throwing himself down the sandbank!

Happiest when he is flying free!! 

The boys - getting some air!

Mark was laughing at my little sis and I, dressed almost identically in our uggs, cardigans and big scarves. What can I say,
it's our standard beach attire ;) He insisted on getting a couple shots and I'm glad he did, I love these!
PS How cute is my new little niece Frankie?! 

Locking eyes with cutie pie Alaia.

Sigh. Such a happy, beautiful place. Already can't wait to get back there!!!

Well, that is probably enough beach shots for one post!! Will wrap up the rest in another post shortly, I think. I thought I didn't take many photos, but guess I did ;)

Sunday, 14 September 2014

36/52 - a beach week

Each year for the past six, my family has taken a week to gather together from our various spots all over the country. This year all twenty of us gathered in a little row of beach front cabins in beautiful Kiama. A whole glorious week of slow and easy days, with the beach literally on our doorstep, a playground within view and more cousins, aunties, uncles and grandparents than you could poke a stick at!! (Eleven adults, nine grandkids and counting!). 

It was an amazing week. I felt ridiculously spoilt to have such a long stretch in such a stunning location, surrounded by the wonderfully crazy clan that comprises my family :) The days were cruisey, just roaming the beach, splashing along the shore, going for coastal walks. Every evening, each family took turns to make dinner and we all piled into their cabin to eat amidst the gloriously messy din. After putting the happy, exhausted kids to bed, we all collapsed stayed up late chatting and screaming with laughter (no idea how the kids slept through!), and playing games. Fun, precious memories with my family. There was a combo of time just for our little tribe of five, and adventures with the rest of the extended family in various make ups. Everyone doing a bit of their own thing and a bit together... it was just sooooooooooo refreshing. The kids were in heaven, needless to say, playing endlessly on the beach and only breaking to run off to Nana's cabin to beg for another home made ice block. 

 I was so much in holiday chill-out mode, I hardly pulled out my DSLR at all (shock horror, I know!!!), so here for this week's portraits are a bunch of blurry happy snaps from my phone. Next week I will post the pics from the 'big camera' which I made myself drag out on the last couple days! Sorry these photos are all low-res and crazy sizes!! I am still on holiday mode so can't quite be bothered to fix them all up - please forgive me my sheer laziness ;)


Took this little lady for a 'girls adventure' to the Farmer's Market one afternoon.
It was so precious to stroll alongside this chatty young woman. She is such good company!
She was also very pleased to spend some of her 'holiday money' on a tasty scoop of gelato!


The kids dug a whole lot of tunnels to China this week. I love seeing them so free to play and explore amidst the natural wonders of the beach! 

This tunnel got me a little concerned however... they assured me it was a bridge forming over the top but sure looked like some kind of trap to me?!!? Thankfully no one was lured in, haha ;) 

Sweet Eli took his digging very seriously. He had such a grand holiday and I loved sharing so many wonderful moments with him. Lately his sweet heart has just been killing me with its guileless adorableness. Seriously, this boy is so precious!!! :)

One small example, at a meal one day, I was sitting on one side of him and Lily on the other. He looks at us both and takes our arms with a happy smile and says 'You love me and I love Lily and we all love each other and are sitting together as a family!!'. Like, he just says this stuff all the time, straight from the heart, precious as anything.  He was just so happy to be together. I mean, really??! What a darling :)


Just charmed by the view of him toddling around!

My little man. He had a ball on holidays, with wide open spaces to roam. I am still getting used to this boy being vertical - it's pretty awesome :)

'Ball! Ball! Ball!'


Out together on one of many little family jaunts.

We climbed the rocks by the beach with the kiddos, searching for crabs (we found two!), peering in rock pools and just generally being awed by this seaside Creation.

Love family adventures with this fella, love how much he loves to be with us too. He makes everything more fun! :)

Super Dad in every sense! Carrying both his boys home over the rocks.

Project 52: A portrait of my family, once a week, every week, in 2014.

More highlights from the week that was...

How good it was to be together all week as our tribe of five, relishing family life and the blessings of this current stage. I feel like we are kinda past the shock of the first few years of parenting when you are still a little in denial - 'What?? But I am on holidays!! Doesn't that mean just lying around, sleeping in, laconically nibbling on antipasto and sipping a glass of red as the sun sets, doing whatever I want when I want?!' Ummmm, no. We are parents now and kids still need to be parented, regardless of holidays, it turns out!!! ;) So we don't expect anything different or resent the lack of 'me time' so much. Yes, we tag each other out for the occasional sleep in or break (bliss!) but they are a bonus rather than the expected norm, and guess what, that's ok. By now (a mere six years in! slow learners!) we are kinda in the swing of this parenting gig and ready to be engaged in the reality, busy-ness and loveliness of holidaying with young kids. It's still all hands on deck, but it is the blessing of family life and you know what? I wouldn't want it any other way. 

I was thinking how grateful we should be to have kids who still want to hang out with us all the time :) These years are fleeting and although it's been tempting in the past to wish away the intensity and long for those indulgent 'me time' holidays of the past (and future?), the reality is we are right here, right now and thus, I am grateful. These days are less about me and more about the kids - and both Mark and I get to grow as we love and serve our kids and each others. Lazy holidays will have their turn again in retirement, right?!? :) I was also thinking about the concept in the Bible of 'dying to self' and how parenting suuuure encourages that. And we can choose to do it resentfully or intentionally. We are slowly growing too, throughout this parenting journey, as we put the needs of the kids before our own. This is a good thing, though I am slow to grow and thankful for God's grace! So. Right now, adventuring with our young kids is our reality, our joy and our privilege.

Now that's an awesome breakfast scene to enjoy each morning!
This cheeky little Bear. Ready for bed but obsessed with Daddy's cap,
whenever he could he would grab it, put it on and saunter around like so ;) Cool dude!


I bought them awesome 'rock/water shoes' but within minutes they were
discarded. Barefoot monkeys with tough little feet I guess!


All twenty of us taking off for a 5km coastal stroll! It was quite the convoy ;)

Sitting quietly under the tree, searching for his favourite photo on Lily's camera :)

Sweet little Alaia was so keen to hang with her older cousins. She insisted that they all hold hands together while they walked and so cutely scampered along :)

Found this cute little face beaming out of the sand!?

Papa teaching Miles to scoot 

Loving being a beach baby
The Triplets scooting, looking like quite the gang!! Too cool (and too cute!!) for school, huh? 
It was so good to hang out w these sweet boys, their little voices are so ridiculously adorable,
I miss hearing them already!!! :)

Family games nights.... getting intense ;)

Super Nana watching the triplets scooting down the little hill. No fear, these boys!

Nana's home made smoothie iceblocks were a big hit with the junior crowd

My little monkey clambering up this rock face. I bit my lip to stop myself from shouting 'Be
careful!' and instead quietly marvelled at her confidence in tacking such a challenge!

Darling sandy-bottomed boy. So desperate to be part of the action,
he eagerly started climbing the rocks too.

'Well, maybe I will just take a breather...'

Swings with a view. And Mama racing back and forth pushing each swing ;)

Reading mags in the sunshine during family 'rest time'. Ahhhh! The serenity :)