Taking the time

Today I went to Gusollios in Young and received a luxurious facial. I won’t say I entirely needed it, but it was great to just lie there for 45mins and not have to think about anything. I have had an absolutely full-on week and so it came at a good time (it was a Christmas present).

Last week I was home alone (in our new home) in a new town (seeing as the last 10months I’ve been living on the outskirts of Young and not really engaging with the community at all) in a house in the middle of a rough street with a questionable history (not for divulging here, sorry). Henry was away for a week.

At first I was a little hesitant (I won’t say scared), but I felt fairly at home and I was keen to clean the house up a bit and sort through some stuff so I pushed the solitude out of my mind and pressed into work.

I decided to simply embrace the week I had alone. I feel like a little sail boat pushed out to shore onto a big, lonely ocean. Friends and family far away, stuck at home without a car, walking to school each day but not talking to anyone really. I could have moped. I could have felt sorry for myself and I nearly did, but I stopped myself. ‘Everyone goes through lonely times’ I said to myself. ‘It’s a season.’ ‘When times are busy I’ll wish for time alone.’ And so I embraced it, I decided that I did not know whether I would get alone time for a while and so I just absorbed it, I absorbed my feelings of loneliness and turned it into solitude, not wanting to feel sorry for myself I chose to think about other people and made sure to smile and chat to Sophias friends at school and even a parent on the last day (actually the local Presbyterian pastor). I even got some real alone time as Gunther was sick and slept for a couple of hours and so, for the first time in forever it was just me! I vegged in bed (something I love to do!), dug in the garden, wrote some letters and caught up on things I’ve been wanting to for a while.

And I’m glad I did.

Since this time…

I’ve discovered some beautiful neighbours who need a lot of love.

I’ve been working on the bus every day until 5pm.

I’ve started up my Uni studies again and have picked up an extra subject.

I’ve got three photography shoots lined up.

I’ve connected with a local church group.

And so the disconnection does not last forever and it can be appreciated for valuable s p a c e in a crowded world. It’s good to be comfortable with oneself.

It seems I haven’t stopped for a week. The mornings are busy getting lunches packed for all of us and making sure Soph has what she needs for school. We build and eat and I squeeze in lectures and readings when I can. When we get back from building at about 6pm it’s a rush to get dinner going, on the table dishes washed, clothes washed (which I am currently doing by hand!! I know, old school!) and hung to dry, kids washed/read to (we do that every night)/dressed and in bed and then if I’m not too pooped more studies again or if I’m a virtuous wife then some time with Henry.

So the moral of this is for me: take what is in front of me and just enjoy it, whatever it may be. If it can not be changed then absorb its lessons even if it makes me uncomfortable. Because it’s all about growth.

New Place

I thought I’d share some pics of our new house, mostly for the convenience of our nearest and dearest who are not near enough to visit anytime soon.

We are going for the minimalist feel, trying to get away with the least amount of furniture that we can (that is because we are anticipating moving on within the next 6-12 months and loathe packing stuff. Who hates stuff? I do! – def. stuff: that which clutters our lives rather than enhances it.

It took me a little while to get used to, I have always lived in houses with small rooms and even when I moved into a fairly large room in a group house many years ago I felt so uncomfortable I moved into the smallest room in the house! When it comes to houses I prioritise privacy/quietness and cosiness above all. But preferences can change and it does us an unfairness to assume we can not change. It’s been a week and a half now of living here. The neighbours are close, on one side four neighbours literally overlook our bare backyard and on the other side all the fences for several neighbours down are simply wire so provide fairly good visuals all the way down.  From the hours of 5-9 the melting pot which is this particular street in Young simply bubbles away with all sorts of abuse hurled anywhere from next door to the next block over – I can hardly tell. Lots of fwords simply flying around rather lightly and casually.

And actually, I’m coming to like this neighbourhood. It’s raw. It’s real. It’s open. It’s honest. It’s emotional sure, but I feel quite at peace here. This is an astonishment to me. Henry and I have had a bit of a laugh over some of the conversations we hear going on around here. Some are surprising, others totally relatable. We know what it’s like to have relationship issues, we know what it’s like to be a frustrated parent, so I feel no judgement, I am not shocked. Perhaps our expression of these things was different or more private, but I know the feeling. I sure do.

So privacy and quietness has gone out the window. As to cosiness I am also getting used to the vastness of this (only) 2 bedroom house and as we are not filling this house up with too much stuff (some stuff is necessary to make things feel homely), neither willing to allocate the time or the money towards doing so, I will have to live with this too.

Here are a few photos of our move. First, I have to show you to my shame the (too) many clothes I had amassed.

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This here is the sum total of mine and Henrys clothes. All of them. Such a jumble of disorder. We sorted through them and got rid of yet another garbage bag full of stuff (so far we have purged 4 garbage bags full of things).

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This is the hallway leading from our bedroom mid clean, everything needed a vacuum, a mop, a scrub and the walls needed bleaching – I have finally rid the house of the stale cigarette smoke odour it carried.

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Here is our bedroom now, similar but slightly more orderly.

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Our clothes now stand pretty neatly. I am enjoying not having to rummage around in my suitcase to find something as I have been doing for the past 10 months. This cupboard and those two milkcrates are the sum total of Henry and my clothes now. I have emptied the red suitcase. Do you like our unique storage system!?

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Okay, kids bedroom. As you can see, no beds. I haven’t realised a need for them yet. Why do we have beds? Please tell. I would like to be comfortable with getting down to floor level, helps maintain flexibility.Young House005

And this, friends, is the sum total of my childrens toys. Can you believe it? I just hate most kids toys. In my experience a child just does not know what to do with too many toys and I just end up endlessly cleaning them up. If that happens too often with one toy it goes in the bin. I like useful, learning toys, not the plastic rubbish that mega department stores insist our children need. I wouldn’t mind a larger duplo collection, or when they are older, lego, but I also like them to cook and clean and garden with me and playing in a sandpit provides them with building opportunities. So, meh.Young House006

And here is our only living space, basically just one large room with a kitchen against two half walls.Young House007 Young House008

This is my one and only crockery cupboard and this is all we have by way of this. 4 glasses, 6 mugs, 6 plates, 6 bowls, 8 extra plastic cups.  We have more stashed away, but this was what we were planning to take on our bus so it’s interesting living with this little to see how it goes and so far it has been absolutely fine. In many ways I am treating this house like our bus, there is just more walking space between each living area. That’s all.

You can also see my numerous teas which I am planning to drink up and consolidate further – I have three types of cocoa for example.

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On the other side of that rug there will exist (I hope) two more armchairs, apart from that his house is furnished in my opinion. The only thing I would consider getting more of (both inside and out) are plants. You can never plant too many plants, and you don’t have to move them on, just leave them to spread the plant love around.Young House009

The view into our backyard:Young House011

The view to the front:Young House012

It’ll do! :)

Camping with the Ladies

I am part of a great group of buddies, the male half of which get an annual itching to go hiking for a few days.  The itch occurs around January of each year and all at once a hike is planned, Henry dehydrates his famous spaghetti bolognaise and the women and children are left to figure out what to do. Alas, hiking for a bunch of ladies with tiny tots does not really figure into any equation and while we talk about ‘one day’ doing our own little hike, that probably won’t happen for a few more years at least.  In the past the guys have hiked in and around the ACTs own Namadgi National Park and the Snowy Mountains, this time they decided to do a hike from the top of Clyde Mountain down to the Coast and so this was a perfect opening for mums and children to do their own little camping trip.


It was the Australia Day long weekend and I think it is perhaps the busiest day for camping on the South Coast for the whole year, so good luck booking a place. We had to take our chances with one of the ‘first in best served’ campsites.  I settled on one we have been to before. I arrived on Friday night in the middle of a steady drizzle, found a great secluded campsite (quite hidden, so it was one of the few remaining campsites left) and set up two tents on my own with wet kids to deal with.  It was a bit of a saga, but nothing you can’t laugh about, KerenM had her baby to feed, KerenN got lost (actually we all got lost) and went all the way to Ulladulla and Julie arrived at about 9pm but in the end we all were fed with kids in bed by 10pm. Fiona and Jen arrived the next day and with kids we made 13.  Girls, if you’ve never gone camping without the guys don’t let it phase you, it’s actually very easy, especially when you are all together helping eachother, which we were. Together we celebrated ‘Little Hannah’s’ birthday with a treasure hunt and cake before all the kids sort of caved to tiredness and had some meltdowns! We discovered ‘Mermaid Cove’ and even found an Octopus and a few fish together.  We went to the beach often, the mums taking turns to have a dip, and the kids hardly able to be torn from either the sand or the water.

I was very impressed that we managed to pull it together and have a relaxing camping holiday without any men to chop our firewood and pitch our tents, though of course we were all pretty happy when they dragged themselves out of the bush a few days later to the comfort of our very pretty campsite. It was a great last hurrah to the Summer holidays and I’m so glad we all made the effort to get down to the beach together.

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This is how dirty children can get when camping…not all of them do, I’m sure.Low Res Camping Hike029 Low Res Camping Hike030 Low Res Camping Hike032 Low Res Camping Hike033 Low Res Camping Hike034 Low Res Camping Hike035 Low Res Camping Hike036 Low Res Camping Hike037 Low Res Camping Hike038

Just for fun, here are the boys pre and post hike. It changed their lives.

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Post:Low Res Camping Hike031


Let me share and record here some words of Kevin McCloud which could easily apply to us:

“I did think that (So & So) wouldn’t get this far. I thought they were far too inexperienced and far too reckless with their money. But then inexperience and recklessness are the two main requirements for the classic, Eccentric Adventurer…and that’s who they are. They have that single-mindedness. They have the stamina to continually redefine what it is exactly that they want and they are always willing to have a go. Of course they’ll finish this place. Of course they’ll live here happily. It’s a beautiful house and it reflects the quirky, curvy people they are.”

I am finding new encouragement in Kevin McCloud’s Grand Designs. I see people there pursuing similar goals to ours. I see people undecided on the details because they respect their building enough to try to get those details absolutely right, there is a kind of love investment in their work. Sometimes the money and the time it takes to get those things right does not matter because the alternative is to either do it shoddily or give up and neither of those are options.

The ethos of these people inspires me. One guy: “It was never built as a money making scheme. It was built to be a sort of experiment in, you know, life.”

And that is one side of the coin. It is playing around with the options life offers us, it is also creating and investing something into this world that, hopefully, will prove worthwhile on some level. I like the fact that we are doing something different. I hate that it is taking so long, but all that disappears when we are on our bus, building it or discussing the details and redefining our objective.

Our living arrangements have recently changed, but our focus is still centered around our bus and getting it finished and finishing it well. Juggling parenting with this project is a major challenge, but we are hoping our new move into a rental in Young will enable more routine and some family time away from the bus. We are aiming for more structure in 2014 and embracing new beginnings.

I won’t pretend this last 10months hasn’t been difficult. It’s been bloody hard. I have felt (at varying times) trapped, frustrated, angry, irritated, controlled, disrespected and all sorts of things like that. At the same time Henry and I have drawn closer than we ever have before and even though I was often frustrated at him (and he at me) we have worked through every instance of that, communicated and moved on. We have held fast to each other as no one else was around to take our loads, so supporting each other through this tricky time has been incredibly good for our relationship.

I would not recommend living with other people (especially with young children) for such an extended period.  Kids can be confronting and tiring, particularly to older people. Most people do need space, I’ve learnt that, at least!

Odd Bod Phone Photos

I rescued some photos from my phone today. Here they are, all sorts of odd bods.

Phone Pics001

Walking near the oval in Curtin, it is good to see clouds, it’s been so dry here lately.Phone Pics002 Phone Pics003 Phone Pics004 Phone Pics005

Covered in Paint Flakes.Phone Pics006

Our messy room (crammed with all our living things and bus things).Phone Pics007

Soph up a tree. Nothing unusual there.

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At my mums. Enjoying a cuppa.Phone Pics010 Phone Pics011

My dads guitars. He makes them.Phone Pics012

Swimming lessons in October.Phone Pics013

The Floriade Ferris Wheel. With mum & Nonna & the kids.Phone Pics014 Phone Pics015

A Burley Griffin Gig at the Phoenix Bar. Apparently they rocked out the other night and I missed it.Phone Pics016 Phone Pics017

In mums garden.Phone Pics018

A terrarium.Phone Pics019

A date on my own.Phone Pics020

Our 6th Anniversary date at Ellacure. Amazing food.Phone Pics021A bathing Sophia.Phone Pics022

A sitting Gun.Phone Pics023

Fireworks at the Young Cherry Festival.Phone Pics024 Phone Pics025

Dodgem cars at the Young Cherry Festival.Phone Pics026

Henry on our car on the way to the Coast in December last year.Phone Pics027 Phone Pics028 Phone Pics029

Waiting, waiting for Henry to finish work. I do spend a good deal of time waiting for him.Phone Pics030 Phone Pics031

Mine and Sophs local skate joint – the PCYC courts.Phone Pics032

A sleeping Gun.

Last day of infancy

Sophia’s launch into school means we enjoyed her last day of infancy (for lack of a better term – though I guess this is as correct as any). I thought it was important to do something special to mark this day and so we went along to Weston Park in Canberra. I am so glad this park remains, thriving well into the 21st century. It is a very solid park and has remained uniquely popular over many decades. I remember there used to be an old ‘mouse house’, a large cubby house with tunnels and nooks and windows in all sorts of places. I remember crawling through these along with hoards of other children, I was very sad to learn it had been torn down, but the decision to keep this water park was welcomed. I have a photo of me at my first birthday sitting in the central ‘bird bath’ and I took a photo of Gunther on his first birthday also in the bird bath. On this visit I noticed half of the bird bath had fallen (or been torn) off, the only significant damage done in all these years.

The wading pool has also been rejuvenated with a new path and sculptures and a slight redesign. When we were there we were the only ones (as ACT schools had gone back that day, we had one more day to go in NSW) and so explored the new features happily.

I only had my phone on me at the time (as it’s often welcome to have a break from lugging my big camera around), so phone pics are all I have today.

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Keren & Child

Keren asked me to photograph her and her belly and I jumped at the chance. Keren is one of those utterly radiant pregnant women (unlike me!) who just looks absolutely fabulous and has a new level of femininity radiating from her.

With such a good-looking subject I could hardly go wrong and I took her to a patch of Canberra’s bushland which suited her perfectly, together we mosied around, picking Irish Strawberries and patting horses. It was very idyllic and is a lovely memory. I love these pictures now. I love the depiction of the pregnant woman as strong and dramatic, a part of nature, nurturing but powerful. Photos like these might suit you if you are bored of the traditional pregnancy photos going around, women in studios, draped in fabric, nude bellies…that’s just not me, I like to offer something a little bit different when it comes to pregnancy photography. Have a look!

Bus Ahead

Here are some promised photos of our progress on the bus. You would think that with our wildest child at school we would be charging ahead, but it doesn’t seem to be like that. I suppose it’s like when you’re a new mum and you finally get your kids off to sleep and you can finally sit down and do what you have been wanting to do for ages, but instead you take the chance to do the dishes, hang out the washing, clean the bathroom, sneak in a cup of tea and before you know it your darling baby is up and demanding your attention again.

It is sort of like that. I myself am adjusting to the routine, so I must just keep positive and not kick myself too hard and simply accept what I can and can’t do.

Still, here’s where we are up to with the bus so far.

Since these pictures were taken we have been running cables through the roof and attaching the roof panels to the front part of the bus. We’ve cut a new hole in the roof and covered over an old one (making room for solar panels) and we are almost up to putting the curtain pelmets on. Once these are all on and the roof is affixed and bogged smoothed it will be time to paint our bedroom walls and roof, the kitchen/dining/lounge walls and roof and the outside of the bus – we are hoping to do these all in one hit.

First, let me introduce you to our bunks. These are the star of the bus at the moment, one of our few completed pieces (almost – just a few more coats of Estapol and, voila!) Thanks so much to our friend Carl for helping us with this – I don’t think we’d have got so far without the boost he gave us!



In a clever moment of design inspiration we have extended the bottom of our cupboard into the hall cupboard to act as a useful shoe storing area. There are a lot of clever little storage solutions like this all over our little bus-home.




Here are the beds again in full profile, in front you can see one of the three Aluwell doors which we constructed ourselves (I have phone pics to prove it and might show you when I eventually get them off of my phone). More on this door in a minute.


Here is some of the bed detail. I like plywood cross section and so we have used that on our bunk beds. These plywood strips are cleverly concealing the aluminum frame which supports the bed.




So, back to the door/s. We needed some kind of catch to hold the door open (for when we are driving, and just because it’s handy). So Henry put to use a latch and a drawer catch on the door. It works a treat. Push to open.




And here’s the roof pre-cabling while I was involved in replacing the fairly useless pink batts with foam for insulation.





And the back half of the front of the bus which has been glued down:

You can also see the back of the shower wall and the long red strip on the RHS is the back of our pantry – yet to be installed. And that window into the shower will be covered up and become our shower shampoo holder.



Here is the inside floor of the shower. Shower receptacle/tiny bath on the LHS, small patch of floor in the middle and on the RHS will be our composting toilet.





Our bathroom windows – because I like natural light in the bathroom and windows yet to be silled up with ply. That’s a tricky job so we’re stalling on that one.






The inside of the red shower wall, still covered for protection.






Our bedroom, which has already undergone a few redos and still another to come. Henry was not happy with some of the use of ply and we have discovered a material V-Lite (by the Laminex company) for new drawers and are now using marine ply on the bed as the normal ply warped. The base has not yet been decided on.

Here you can see we have taken the back window out. We removed it to replace the seals and then once we experienced the effects of having a draught blow through the bus on some of the stinkiest hot days in the year we just had to make it openable and so Henry is working on that. It’s a good thing he is so handy and so clever.






The other side of our room (a wall is now covering that door on the RHS).





And a window frame we made ourselves, once bogged and painted you would not even know it’s a fake!



Here’s Henrys handy work on the window. Welding, welding, lots of welding to be done.




And much thanks to ‘Bobie’ for scratching his name on the window of his old school bus, it will now be appreciated on the windows of our little home.




First Day of School

It took me a while to make the decision to send Sophia to school. I mulled over maturity issues and listening and obedience issues, I thought about her learning ability, about how clever she is, I decided yes then no then finally and definitively, yes again.  When she spelt out my brother-in-laws name all by herself and wrote it down for him E-L-E-I-T (Elliot) I knew I had to send her. She was ready. That other stuff would have to work itself out.

Since that time at Christmas the enrollment process was a breeze, the teachers and admin staff all delightful and we found the right school for us.  Funnily enough she is in the same classroom that Henry was in as a Kindergartener.  Twenty-four years ago to the day Sophia walked up the same steps Henry walked up as a 5 year old, on his birthday.

We got her dressed and I packed as nutritious and exciting a lunchbox as I could think of. Gluten-free school lunches are a bit tricky. She had salmon, cucumber, carrot and mayonnaise rice paper rolls, seeds and dried fruit, a peach, cheese cubes and for recess natural yoghurt and berries.


Here she is, ready to take on the school.


And up those steps to her classroom. Good luck my big girl!

Lilygrace Flowers

I met Alicea at my brother and sister-in-law’s engagement party five years ago. At that time my big, fat, red-headed girl was only months old and her big, fat, red-headed baby girl was also just months old.  Of course, we talked about our children and their development as all new parents do. Back then this business was perhaps just a glimmer in her eye and my own foray into photography was just beginning. Now I find she has launched her own growing floristry business.  If her flowers are anything to go by then is a hot success! Her arrangements are absolutely exquisite! I was just bowled over when I entered Chris and Allan’s place for our shoot late last year.

Thank you to Alicea of Lilygrace flowers for this collaboration. Thank you to The Plant Web and Chris and Allan for allowing us to use their grounds and great thanks to both Ellie of Love Affair With Hair and Kristie of Australia Designer Bridal and Formal for their own artistry. And of course much appreciation goes to the beautiful models, Emma and Sybilla.


Lilygrace Flowers

I met Alicea at my brother and sister-in-law’s engagement party five years ago. At that time my big, fat, red-headed girl was only months old and her big, fat, red-headed baby girl was also just months old.  Of course, we talked about our children and their development as all new parents do. Back then this business was perhaps just a glimmer in her eye and my own foray into photography was just beginning. Now I find she has launched her own growing floristry business and if her flowers are anything to go by then she is a hot success! Her arrangements are absolutely exquisite! I was just bowled over when I entered Chris and Allan’s place for our shoot late last year.

Thank you to Alicea of Lilygrace flowers for this collaboration. Thank you to The Plant Web and Chris and Allan for allowing us to use their grounds and great thanks to both Ellie of Love Affair With Hair and Kristie of Australia Designer Bridal and Formal for their own artistry. And of course much appreciation goes to the beautiful models, Emma and Sybilla who just breezed sophistication.