The First Day of School

I feel like this day has been coming for such a long time and yet I can’t believe that it’s here already.  We are so ready for it and yet so completely unprepared.  I feel a little like we are standing on the edge, ready to tip into a new world. It’s exciting and exhilarating and terrifying.  We have no idea of the joys and the challenges that we are going to face over the next few years.  The only thing I’m sure of is that it won’t be the ones that we expect.

Looking at this little girl, looking so grown up and so proud in her school uniform I am filled with wonder.  Where did my baby girl go?  How is it possible that this lovely little lady is the same newborn that I cradled in my arms? Wasn’t that just yesterday?

I can hardly take it all in, there are too many emotions, pride, joy, excitement, anxiety, love, grief.  The grief might be overwhelming if it weren’t for the love.  Why does no-one tell you this about mothering?  That it is a series of tiny bereavements. At the same time as we are celebrating new milestones and achievements we are mourning the loss of a newborn / baby / toddler who was here the other day and never will be again.    

It is impossible to express what I feel for this sweet girl, this amazing little person who is so full of contradictions.  Sometimes fierce and sometimes fragile, often kind and often self centred, so brave and yet so shy.  This little girl who is at once so familiar and so unknown.  Sometimes, watching her, I am reminded so strongly of the little girl that I used to be, that I’m not sure where I end and she begins.  

I wish I could stay by her side, but I know she’s going to be just fine so I’ll kiss her on the cheek, tell her that I love her and leave her to find her own way. 

Our Favourite Playdough Recipe


Today was a playdough kind of day.  Everyone was a little bit grumpy, everything was turning into an argument and we were on a downwards spiral.  So we made playdough, and as is often the case, everything began to turn around.  The kids love measuring out the ingredients, choosing colours and scents and kneeding the warm dough.  The kneeding is like a kind of therapy, It slows your heart and deepens your breathing. And then of course there are the endless play possibilities.  

This is our favourite playdough recipe.  It's quick and easy and makes beautiful silky soft playdough which will keep for months in an airtight container.



2 cups plain flour

1 cup salt

1 tablespoon cream of tartar

1 tablespoon of oil

2 cups of water

Add all the dry ingredients to a saucepan.  Add the water and heat, stirring continuously until the mixture begins to thicken and pull away from the sides of the pan.  It can get to be a pretty good arm workout but continue to heat and stir for another minute or so.

Tip contents out onto the work surface, allow to cool a little and kneed until smooth.



Colour:  If you want to make only one colour, you can add a few drops of colouring to the water at the start.  If you want to make a couple of different colours then add the colouring to the dough once it has cooked and you have portioned it.

Scent:  I love adding essences to playdough to make it a truly sensory experience.  This time we added a teaspoon of coconut essence, but try adding lavender oil for a calming experience, or a tablespoon of coco powder (although that does increase the chance that the little ones are going to try to eat it!)

Sparkles:  Add a tablespoon of glitter to the dough.  Ella's favourite version of playdough is blue with silver sparkles - unsurprisingly she calls it 'Elsa playdough'.

Do you have a favourite playdough recipe?  Do you go for a cooked or no cook recipe?  Have any fun variations?

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Three Years Old

Octonauts Cake

My little boy is three.  Three! Growing up so fast - even though he still maintains that he is - in his own words - "tiny".

He had such a wonderful day.  His request for his birthday was to ‘go swimming and to go under the water and have an octonauts cake with blue on the bottom and orange on top.”  Which, of course, is exactly what he got.  (How could we say no to such a modest request!)

He had so much fun a the pool and did indeed go under the water.  It is so amazing to watch his confidence grow and see his joy as he discovers he can do new things.  He was also very pleased with his gifts (the mama-made elephant has been christened 'Ice Age' (I think after the wooly mammoth in Ice Age...) there were also lots of Octonauts, Dinosaurs, and Dragons.  Win.

For me though the best moment of the day was when he was sitting quietly at the table, after all of our guest had gone had gone, when he quietly observed to himself ‘That was a lovely birthday’.  (Heart melts)

Birthdays have taken on a whole new meaning for me since our children were born.  It is impossible to celebrate their birthdays with out remembering the day they were born and all the emotions that went along with that.  It is impossible not to remember the newborn baby they once were and the way our world changed in an instant when they arrived.  It is impossible to imagine our world without these amazing little people, without the happiness and the love and the laughter that they bring.

I love that birthdays give us the opportunity and perhaps a reminder to stop and appreciate the people we love for who they are.  A whole day in which we focus on all the amazing things that make them who they are.  

Happy Birthday Jacob.  You are the dearest little boy.  I love your cuddles and your smile.  I love your enthusiasm, I love the way you talk and the way you gesture with your arms when you do.  I love watching you grow and learn but I wish could bottle you, just as you are, so that I might always be able to hold onto the gorgeous little boy that you are in this instant.

Happy Birthday Sweetheart.


The Best (And Easiest!) Burp Cloth Tutorial.

Burp Cloth Tutorial

There’s nothing that says ‘new mum chic’ like milky stains on your shoulder, and while we wear them like a badge of honour, it’s sometimes nice to have your clothes stay clean for more than 5 minutes; and it’s always nice to cut down on the laundry a little.  Protect your clothes and add a touch of beauty to your day at the same time with these lovely (and very functional) burp cloths.

This project is so, so easy. In fact, given that they are made from old-fashioned cloth nappies I’m not even sure it really counts as sewing, but I’ve spent a lot of time trying out different designs and I’m convinced that these are the best. They’re big enough to protect from largish pukes, super absorbent and soft for wiping little chins. The fact that they’re so easy is just an added bonus.


You will need:

1 packet of cloth towelling nappies (you can buy these online or from most baby supplies stores)

1 62cm x 20cm piece of printed cotton fabric per towel

Note: These measurements work for standard sized cloth nappies: 60x60cm. If your nappies are a different size then calculate the size of fabric needed as follows:

The length is the length of your nappy plus 2cm.

The width is the width of your nappy divided by 3.

Cutting mat, rotary cutter and ruler (optional)


Before you start:

Use a 1cm seam allowance unless otherwise stated.

Remember to wash, dry and press all fabrics (and the cloth nappies) before cutting.



1. Cut your decorative cotton rectangle(s). It is easiest to do this using a rotary cutter and cutting mat as you can ensure that your edges are straight and your corners are right angles.

2. Using an iron, press 1 cm to the wrong side along each edge of your fabric. Measure and mark the midpoint of each short end with a pin. Fig 1.

Burp Cloth fig 1

3. Find and mark the midpoint of 2 opposite sides of your cloth nappy.  With both pieces right side up, centre the fabric rectangle on one of the cloth nappies, aligning the middle of the fabric with the mid point of each edge of the cloth nappy. Pin in place right around the fabric.

4. Using a complementary coloured thread on top and a white thread underneath, topstitch a few millimetres from the edge right around your decorative fabric to secure it to the nappy.

When your day is not quite as perfect as it looks on Instagram

This was our day today, exactly as it appeared on Instagram.  Or rather, exactly as it would have appeared on Instagram, IF I could have been bothered to post all of it.

We had such a great day! We played with stamps and ink, we painted, we got a wonderful harvest of delicious 'lemon raindrop tomatoes' as Jacob calls them, from the garden.  We planted out the peas, sweet peas and the spaghetti squash.  We got to taste the very first raspberries from the canes that we planted in spring.  We went to the park and climbed and swung and laughed with friends.  We built train tracks and marble runs.  We baked a delicious pumpkin bread and indulged in a bit of art and crafts with a cup of tea.

We had a great old time today. Today was FANTASTIC!  Wasn't it? Well, yes and no.  There really were some lovely moments, but the Instagram photos don't really tell the whole picture. They don't show you the moment where Jacob wet himself for the second time because he didn't want to stop playing and go to the toilet and I got cross because our washing machine is broken and the laundry pile has reached a ridiculous height.  They don't show you the kids melting down in tears when it was time to leave the park.  They don't show you the 15 minutes that I spent trying to comb the knots out of Ella's wild hair.  They don't show you the 100th time that I had to tell them to "STOP SWINGING THOSE STICKS AROUND - YOU ARE GOING TO TAKE SOMEBODY'S EYE OUT".  They don't really give you much insight into what our day was actually like.  Sometimes I think that this is a problem.  I am being fraudulent.  I am deceiving you.  I am editing my life.  Removing the ugly bits and painting a false picture. 

That's one way to look at it anyway.  Do you want to see the tantrums? The wet undies? The mess? I'm not sure you do; not all of it anyway.  You're smart enough to know that this Instagram feed is not the whole story.  That of course there are times when we are all grumpy, times when the kids cry and whine and drive me crazy, times when I loose my cool, when I yell and whole weeks where the house looks like it has been hit by a particularly violent tornado.  

The photos that I put on Instagram aren't an attempt to con you into thinking that my life and my children are perfect.  They are my attempt to find and recognise the beautiful moments in the most ordinary of days.  A way of focusing on the positive and taking pleasure in the smallest things. Of practicing mindfulness and noticing all the tiny things.

At the end of the day, my Instagram photos make me forget all the crap.  They are a reflections of the things that I choose to remember.  They make me smile at the world and I hope they make you smile too.

Rockpools and Childhood Memories

We just got back from a lovely weekend away at Blanket Bay in the Otways. It was the first time we've camped with the kids and it was really great to get away for a few days.  Yesterday morning my friend and I went for our usual Sunday morning run and on the way back I got a little lost.  Not literally lost, just lost in my own head.  I've had this while running before, and I know that many people say how they get into 'the zone' and stop noticing that they're even running. Well this morning I got so completely lost (metaphorically speaking) that I think I could have kept running for days, Forrest Gump style.

It was rather like being in a meditative state - or at least I imagine it was, I'm hopeless at meditating usually - but for some reason I went back to the house I grew up in.  It was a huge house (or at least it seemed that way to me at the time) and while I was running I took a little walk through it, remembering the rooms and the furniture, the memories I have of each little space.  The bay window in the dining room where Mum would do her sewing and fix my favourite toy (Mouse), the breakfast bar in the kitchen where my sister and I would sit eating our cornflakes and watching 'Barry the lodger' eating his bacon and eggs.  The cellar, dark and damp with the secret door into it from the drive way, which used to be for delivering the coal but which was now hidden under a honeysuckle bush and which we could climb in and out of if we ever found ourselves locked out. There were so many things which came back to me on this mental tour of my childhood home, things I hadn't thought about for such a long time. 'Seeing' the wardrobe in the spare room took me back to a birthday party where we played Sardines, 'walking' around the garden reminded me of early morning Easter egg hunts in our nighties, wellies and hand knitted jumpers. The air was so fresh, there was dew on the lawn and the wood pigeons' soft calls carried through the still air - it felt so real that I could have been back there.

I was bombarded with an avalanche of memories; eating tiny wild strawberries from the rock garden at the front of the house, pouring salt on slugs (forgive me- it was at my mum's encouragement), crushing tin cans for recycling with my dad, building castles of stones in the puddles that formed in our back yard, watching my mum digging the veggie garden from my swing, the 'Dolly Tree' in the middle of the lawn where my sister would perch all of her soft toys, writing letters to the Queen, to Santa, to Blue Peter and posting them in the letter box in the wall of our garden. I remembered making rose perfume from petals and water, and pots from dried mud that we tried to sell to the unsuspecting ramblers who walked past the end of our drive.

So many memories, of so many seemingly inconsequential things. Such unimportant things that turned out to form a huge part of who I am. Things that have almost accidentally shaped me into the person I have become.  My parents could never have imagined how important to me they would turn out to be, they were just ordinary, everyday things. There are probably a hundred other things like that from my childhood that we used to do which I have forgotten. I have no idea why these are the ones that come back to me so strongly.

Once this flood of memories had subsided I naturally moved to wondering what the things that my own children remember will be?  I imagine that even if I tried to guess I could probably never even come close.  In a way it's a frightening thought, it's certainly an overwhelming one, to know that every moment, good or bad, may turn out to be one of those key things that your child remembers, a moment that shapes them in one way or another.  It doesn't do to think too much about it, you could drive yourself crazy that way, but the occasional reminder of just how much influence we have over them with the things we say, and, probably more importantly, DO, can only be a good thing. Particularly if it causes us to be a little more considered in our actions.

It's a strange thing how your children have the ability to bring out both the best and the worst in you.  I hope that it will be the best that shines through when they look back, I hope they won't remember the times I was grumpy, the times I yelled, but I'm going to try to be less like that, just to make sure.  I'm sure I won't succeed, not completely anyway, but even if I manage to be just slightly better I think it'll make a difference.

I have no idea what the most significant memories for my own children will be but I hope very much that weekends like this will be among them. I hope they will remember exploring rock pools, collecting shells and noticing all the tiny things; that they will remember cooking dinner on the fire and toasting marshmallows, remember the sensations of the warm sun on their backs, the coolness of the waves lapping around their feet, the salt on their skin, I hope they will remember the perfect quiet of the morning before everyone is awake, the awe-inspiring wonder of a sky full of stars, and the joy of being lulled to sleep by the sounds of the ocean.  Sorry if I've gone way too poetic for you, the great out doors does that to me - I don't get to experience it nearly enough these days, and that's something that we're going to try to improve on now that the children are old enough to enjoy weekends away camping!

What are your favourite childhood memories? What memories do you hope your children will treasure when they are older?

Growing Up!


I discovered today that the children’s playschool teachers are going to move Jacob up to the kinder room in a couple of weeks – I’m a little emotional about this news. On the one hand, I’m really happy for him – it’ll be an adventure and he’ll get to be with the big kids and in the same class as Ella for the year, and I’ve no doubt that he’ll learn heaps and absolutely love it, but there’s a little part of me that is crying ‘but he’s my baby! He’s still 2! He can’t be in Kindergarten!’ 

It seems to me that one of the most unexpected things about mothering is the way in which watching your children grow is like a series of tiny bereavements.  While we delight in their achievements, in their growth and development, there is always a part of us that aches for the baby, the toddler, the small child they once were; the tiny person who is lost forever, who we will always miss enormously while we sit here loving and marveling at the amazing new child who has emerged.  I suppose it’s just another reminder of how we need to treasure every moment, how we ought to aim to let all the frustrations just wash over us and cling tight to these wonderful moments which will one day be just memories.

I’m feeling rather tearful writing this and am suddenly consumed with an ache for my little ones.  I’m going to go and pick them up from playschool now  - don’t worry, I’m pretty sure that this sadness will have passed within about 10 minutes of our arriving home, when I will be yelling, tearing my hair out and wondering exactly how many more years of this I’ll have to endure before they can leave home!

For my little sister as she prepares to meet her baby...

Dearest Ruthie,

As I write this, I know that you are at the hospital working very hard to bring your little baby into the world.  I'm writing because I am finding it very difficult to be so far away and so unable to do anything to help you. (Although I have to admit that even if I was right by your side there would be very little I could do to help you right now!)  Still, I wish so much that I could be there over the next few weeks to help you with the mountains of laundry that you're about to experience and to cook you nourishing dinners and delicious cakes to sustain you while you nurse your new baby.  

But I can't be there right now so I will have to offer what help I can in the form of advice and support.  I have been thinking a lot about how I felt after Ella and Jacob were born, trying to remember what I struggled with, what helped me most, but to be honest much of it is a blur of emotions.  Here's what I can tell you:

There will be times when you will look at your baby and feel like you will burst with love.

There will be times when you will want to put your baby out of the window.

You will feel elation and despair and everything in between, possibly all in the space of 10 minutes. 

You will cry for no reason.

Parenting can be difficult and stressful but also beautiful and amazing, often all at the same time.

You will be a wonderful mother.

I will always be there for you, to listen to your worries. I will be awake when everyone else around you is asleep. I am only a phone call away.

I am so unbelievably excited about your new arrival! Partly for you, because I know what an amazing roller coaster ride you're in for and partly for myself because I can't wait to have motherhood in common with you. I feel like it will be such a wonderful bond and I know that seeing our children playing together is going to be so special.  

I love you enormously and have complete faith in you. You will do a fantastic job of raising this brand new person and you will help them to be the very best version of themselves possible. 

You can do it!