31 October 2012

WW: Words from a friend

What a beautiful, wonderful day it's been today! The sun chased those morning clouds away, Bible study this morning was lovely - as always, and the whole day has been filled with good friends - both the kids and mine!

While my dear friend Renee was here (actually still is here, as I type!), I asked her if she wouldn't mind taking my Wardrobe Wednesday pictures. Aside from feeling a tad silly posing for your friend, it's much easier than using the self-timer!

Renee is one of my oldest and dearest friends. We have been through a lot together, and certainly know enough about to each other to fill a few books! When I sat down to write my WW post today, my words wouldn't come. I need mental space to think what to write and there was just too much going on! Then Renee said, "Let me write it!"

So, without further ado, I present my wonderful friend, Renee:
(She wrote it all before I read it, so it was a surprise to me too!)

"Let me tell you about the most beautiful woman I know,
Meet my beautiful friend Jess.
Jess is classy, you know, someone who always looks good whatever she's wearing - (she might disagree - but I have see her in her Pjs and I can tell you she's gorgeous even when she's scruffy)

She rocked up this morning in her usual bustling style, 3 kiddies in tow and looking good, (how?! I just threw on yesterdays clothes, stuffed my feet into jandals and did my hair in the car)

I love love love this cardi, it gathers in just the right places to hang great - And Jess looks gorgeous in grey. And being the fabric that it is, it wears so easily too.

It's a little hard to spot but this cotton shirt is amazing, I love the little details, pin tucks and pleats and buttons, and that lovely crispness that cotton has that reminds me of childhood and my Oma starching my Sunday blouse. Starching? I'm sure Jess doesn't starch, but it still has the reminiscent crispness to make me go oooh!

I love Jess's hair. It always looks great, and I love that she can wear hair bands! Pink and grey is one of my favourite colour combinations and it's perfect for Jess' colouring, the polka dots are so sweet.
The shoes... Jess has a thing for shoes and these are no exception, cute and comfy flats. So sweet but great for chasing little ones. Jess makes practicality look this good!
Jealous? me?... yes... we'll no, but definitely admiration.
Yeah Jess wears great stuff - we wouldn't be here if she's didn't would we, but it's more than that, so much more.
Jess' beauty is more than skin deep, it's in the way she walks, the way she smiles, the way she talks to her kids, the way she encourages.
Jess always has a kind word to say, a way to look at the positive and lift your spirits.
Jess always has time for everyone, I'm surprised she has any left for herself!
Jess loves her kids deeply and seriously, I mean, she's a proper full-time professional Mum, a that's-my-job kind of Mum, I'll-be-there-no-matter-what kind of Mum, a give-till-it-hurts kind of Mum..
She loves her husband, she loves her family, she loves her friends... She's a people person, and she loves in practical ways, helping, caring, listening, always sensitive to others needs.
And she loves the Lord, Her God, devotedly, adoringly, humbly and passionately with a true desire to know Him more - I admire that so much!
She's smart and creative, enthusiastic and energetic.
And she's my friend, I'm so blessed to know her, She teaches me lot's and I've still got lot's to learn.

True beauty comes from within, its not a look or a style, or a number or an age, it's grace, and that's Jess, a gentle and quite spirit - and oh-so-deliciously wonderful!

I love you Jess! I'm so glad you're in my life!"

(It's Jess again.) Wow. How's that for an amazing friend? Renee, you are too much. My goodness, I am 1000 times blessed to have the most amazing friends!! Wow.

Outfit breakdown
Top: Farmers
Leggings: Postie
Shoes: Overland (many moons ago!)

While you're here, don't forget to enter my giveaway! UPDATE: Giveaway now closed.

30 October 2012

Happy Anniversary!

**It's a bit wordy at the start, but hang in there and the give-away's at the end!**

On Saturday it was two years since I wrote my first blog post. Two years since I started recording our lives and activities here. Two years that I've been carving out this little space in my wee corner of the inter-web.

It feels much longer, and much shorter at the same time. I've just been reading through some of my earliest posts... Please don't go there. I'm a little embarrassed. My writing sure has come a long way in two years. I had a wonderful long telephone chat with a very good friend of mine last night and her insightful comment was, "You seem to have found your voice." I think that's true, thanks Paula!

We also talked about why I blog. She asked me why I chose blogging over something like writing in a journal. For me, partly it's to record our lives - where we are, when we are, particularly in this fleeting pre-school period - in a visual way. Partly it's because I enjoy being part of a community; not blogging to receive comments (though they sure are nice!), but instead to support and encourage one another and have a dialogue.

The other thing that's really important to me is about portraying Motherhood in an honest way. It is the most important thing I will ever do with my life. It is the hardest thing I will ever do in my life. It's easy to see the second one, not always easy to remember the first. I found adjusting to being "Mummy" really difficult at first, and I think that if someone had said to me, "It's okay to feel the way you do. It takes time to settle to this. Nobody has it all together. You are normal.", then I think I would have found my journey to be different.

So it's important to me - not to share all the gory details of wiping bums and cleaning spew or intimate details of our children's psyches - but to share the ups and downs and NORMAL things of life with small children. I don't ever want to be one of those bloggers who has a perfect life because that's not real! Frankly, it's just depressing. Will you tell me if I start to sound like one? Thanks.

The other reason (and I'm sure it won't be my last, as I carry on my merry blogging way) I enjoy having my blog is because I've found a good outlet for myself in writing. In real life, I struggle to articulate myself and, in trying to explain either myself or a concept, end up sounding like a jibbering jabbering mess who has no idea what she's saying. But when I sit down to write, I can take my time, think about my words before I type them, delete and re-write if it doesn't sound right (that would be useful in a conversation, right?), consider my thoughts and take time to understand them so I can write them out. I like that. It's a side to blogging that has been like an added, unexpected bonus.

2 years isn't really a very long time, but when I look at my children and see how much they've grown I wonder where it's all gone! I've never understood the saying "Time flies," quite so much as I understand it now while watching my children grow before my very eyes. These were our kids when I started blogging: Elliot, nearly 2.5 years, and Rosie, 10 months.

And now look at them!

Elliot, 4.5

Rosie, almost 3

Tristan, 14 months

Aren't Hayden and I so blessed?!

(He he, look at this little model-in-the-making. All I said was, "Rosie, I want to take a picture of you because you look so cute." And this is what she did. Promise I didn't tell her how to stand or look or anything!!)

And now that I've just been looking at these photos of my beauties, the other things I wanted to say have just flown out the window! So apart from saying that, really, I'm immensely grateful for this blogging journey so far, the friends I've met, the way I've grown and the way my husband doesn't roll his eyes TOO much any more when I say that I'm blogging, let's get onto my GIVEAWAY!

As a little thank you for joining me on this journey and saying 'Yay! 2 years!', I would like to give away one of either two things; winner's choice. You can win either a personalised name canvas,

(Promise the 'O' wasn't wonky when I made it! I just noticed this quick repair job as I made the photo bigger.)

or a handmade doll.

The winner will get to make their choice between the canvas or the doll and I will fully consult with you to make it a completely customised piece with your choice of colours, accessories and embellishments. Or, I can make it a complete surprise! Up to you.

To enter:
1) Leave a comment below. (You can choose 'Anonymous' in the drop down menu so you don't have to sign up for a Google account. Just be sure to leave your name and/or email so I know who you are! Let me know via FB if you have trouble.
2) For extra entries, share this post on your choice of platform - FB, blog, Twitter etc (I don't know anything about Twitter actually, so whatever!) - and leave an extra comment here for each share.

Please make sure I can contact you either via your blog or through email. I'd hate for you to win and then me not to be able to tell you!

Winner will be drawn by random lot at 2pm on Tuesday, 13th November. Exciting!

***And the winner is... Catrien!

"Congratulations on 2 years! Your blog is an absolute highlight for me :) I love your 'honest mothering', such an encouragement! And naturally I adore anyone creative! Looking forward to many more posts!"

Congratulations Catrien! Catrien is a friend of mine from way back when, one of those friends you make through other friends, you know? She is the yummy Mummy of three little lovelies - a singleton and a set of twins - and taught herself how to knit and crochet. Amazing, right?

I'll get in touch with you Catrien and we'll suss out the details of your prize! Yay, I'm excited!

27 October 2012

Hold on...

Guys, it's two years today since I wrote my first blog post!

BUT don't congratulate me just yet! I want to celebrate this cool occasion, but I'm having a stink day today and don't want my stink-ness (note: different to stinkYness!) to come out here.

So if you don't mind waiting until tomorrow, we can celebrate together then! I've got a cool give-away planned that I'm looking forward to sharing with you.

Also, in a moment of doofus-brained miscalculation, my 100th post was... yesterday. Oops. I meant to make it my blog-iversary and 100th post together, but counted wrong. My bad. Not to worry, we can still celebrate the fact of it tomorrow too!

In the meantime, I'll leave you with some cute photos of Tristan playing with my Mum and one of Rosie from our trip to the Auckland Zoo during the recent school holidays.

26 October 2012

Home Birth Awareness Week

I found out yesterday - by accident - that this week is Home Birth Awareness Week.

You may or may not know that I have had three wonderful home births. (Read about them here.)

You know what?
I'm really proud of that.

Not in an I-had-a-natural-birth-and-you-didn't-na-na-na-na-na-na kind of way, but in a wow-my-body-was-designed-to-do-just-this-and-it-did-it! kind of way.

Because of my own wonderful experiences, and the research I have done, I am an advocate for home birth. I will clarify that by saying I am an advocate for home birth for healthy, well women, carrying healthy, well babies, who can be born at home. I would never condone staying at home just for the heck of it. I would never condone refusing a hospital transfer if my trusted midwife suggested it, or staying at home when it becomes clear that more help is needed, regardless of if the midwife has recommended it or not.

I do believe that a healthy, well-educated, well-supported woman and her baby are in the safest place if they are at home. I don't believe in judging anyone for their birth choices - be it home, birth centre or hospital. (And I'd appreciate it if you kept your comments below kind and supportive of everyone who may want to share in this space. Thank you.) We each need to choose the place where we feel the most safe.

Glamorous home birth: middle of the night bed head, no bra, hole in my pyjama top, stretch marks, pile of washing on the couch, assorted paraphernalia scattered around the lounge, but quick, take a photo of my 7-day-overdue belly before it's gone!

My words are often inadequate to describe the way I feel about home birth, and even childbirth in general. I'd like to share a few links with you where you can read a little about the real side of home birth in New Zealand.

My friend Dee from dee*construction. is an amazing wife and mother of 5 who, when she was pregnant with #5 (a gorgeous squishy little fellow named Sawyer), wrote a short series on her blog called The Birth Notes. Dee explains exactly how we approach home birth in a logical way. Please do click over and read a few of her posts, particularly:

{The Birth Notes} Stage 1
{The Birth Notes} Stages 2 & 3.
Also, a great practical post on preparing for the post-birth period: {The Birth Notes} The Babymoon.

From {The Birth Notes} Stage 1:
"It was a few days after Monte's birth and JR had just made a coffee for two visiting female family members when one made the comment, You're lucky to birth the way you do. third day blues or not, i wanted to hurl my freshly made flat white at the said family member! luck? luck!! 'luck' is the very last thing that has to do with childbirth. i could (would) never risk so much on luck! instead, this is a little more accurate : (Click the link above to read the rest.)

Also, there is a pretty good article on scoop.co.nz written about this years Home Birth Awareness Week: A Defining Moment for Home Birth. Read it here.

That's better. Baby Rosie, just born. In the lounge - see the bookshelf?

Ultimately, home birth for me has been so special because, after making an educated decision, I had a great supportive midwife who is very dear to me, a wonderful and totally amazing sister-in-law - my doula, of sorts - and an amazing husband (who was supportive from the very first mention of birthing at home) who all encouraged and - here's that word again - supported me and helped achieve what I believe to be some of my greatest accomplishments: the births at home of Elliot, Rosie and Tristan.

25 October 2012

You beauty, Singer 201

Guys, I didn't realise what a gem I had sitting in my spare room for a couple of years! Don't get me wrong, I knew it was special. I just didn't know quite HOW special...

After my trusty Elna 7000 caught on fire this week, I dragged THIS little beauty out of it's resting place.

And when I say dragged, I almost literally mean dragged: it weighs a ton! That would be because it's made of CAST IRON. Oh yes.

This gorgeous girl is my Singer 201P. She's a reclusive thing, not revealing her beauty to me until I gave her a good wiping down and performed a quick Google search as a background check. Guys, she's vintage! Actually, genuinely vintage!

The Singer 201 series of full size sewing machines were produced mainly in the USA and the UK. They were first introduced in 1935 and continued in production up until 1961. It was the Singer Manufacturing Company’s finest domestic sewing machine. Hundreds of thousands of them were produced and most of them are still sewing as finely and as strongly today as when they were first produced over 70 years ago. (www.singersewinginfo.co.uk)

My little beauty, the 201P, was assembled in Penrith, Australia, with parts from the UK factory.

Excuse the dust...

These Singers are widely regarded as still one of the best stitchers of the lot! Sure, it can only do a straight stitch, but I still think that's pretty impressive. The old saying, "They don't make 'em like they used to," certainly seems to ring true here.

I love that it's two-tone brown. I love it's wee light at the back. I love it's cool Singer Manufacturing Co badge on the front. Jeepers, it really is pretty cool!

Now, to see if I can figure out how to make it work... I think I'll go ask Mr Google.
Do any of you have an old Singer sewing machine? Any tips?

**Don't forget to check back in a few days for my Blog-iversary and 100th post giveaway!**

24 October 2012

WW: Tribal

One of my favourite things to wear at the moment* are leggings and tunics. I find them very comfortable (and forgiving), without being a pair of daggy track pants and an old t-shirt.
*'The moment' being somewhat chubby around the middle. Well, around the general everywhere actually!

I found I had a fair few black or dark tunics/long tops (aren't all our wardrobes filled with black?!) and two pairs of black leggings. But I don't like wearing entirely black, so I ventured out and picked myself up a pair of these 'tribal' leggings.

I especially like these ones as they are cut well - you can easily wear them with boots, but they flare just a little at the bottom to be flattering enough to wear them with shoes too. Versatility, my favourite!

I like the uneven hemlines of my outfit today. Just long enough to swish when I walk. In fact, as I walked down the hallway this morning to get a pair of shorts for Elliot, I walked the catwalk walk. Just because I could. And it made my tunic swing.

Outfit breakdown
Tunic: Warehouse
Leggings: Postie
Swing Cardigan: Millers
Boots: Farmers
Earrings: a gift (made from Mother-of-Pearl)
My high class wardrobe strikes again!

PS: Sorry for the terrible, full sunlight, shadowed, crooked photos today!

23 October 2012

[Gift] Farewell, Katrina!

Tomorrow, a very sweet girl will be boarding a plane and flying a very long way home to her Mama and Papa.

Katrina is the youngest sister of one of my very good friends, Eden. She worked hard over two summers to save up enough money to come and visit her sister, brother-in-law, nephew and (at the time) niece-or-nephew-to-be in New Zealand from all the way over on the east coast of the United States.

It is so special to me to meet Eden's USA family. Katrina is the third one that I'm lucky enough to have been able to get to know. Eden is very dear to me and so to be able to experience the joy of seeing her with some of her close, close family-by-birth is something that I treasure. It's kind of hard to explain! It's like how when you love someone (and now this is going to sound cheesy...), what makes them happy makes you happy and some of their intense joy spreads to you. It's a little like that. Plus, Eden's family are just plain wonderful! And I've only met three of them! (Four, if you include Eden herself...)

Anyway, we've been able to get to know Katrina a fair bit during her 11 week stay here. Our kids have enjoyed playing with her, and I know our Tristan's ever smiling face lights up a little brighter when he sees that sparkling Katrina smile.

So I wanted to make something a little special for her to take home. A little piece of the New Zealand that now lives in her heart. Thus, Kiwi Katrina the Dolly was born.

If you can get past the fact that her eyes are plastic and her lips look like they've been drawn on by a three year old, you'll notice her cute puff sleeves, polka-dot apron and ribboned shoes.

Her dress isn't particularly NZ-ish (I couldn't think what to do that was?!), so I hand stitched a wee kiwi onto Dolly's apron.

Every self-respecting girl must have a pair of shoes with ribbons on them, yes?

* * *

As I was stitching the sleeves on late last night, and thankfully after I had sewn everything but the apron, my sewing machine had a little tantrum. Well, it was quite a big tantrum actually: it caught fire. First I heard a crackling sound and wondered if there was an animal in our fire box or something, then I see and smell smoke coming from my poor machine! Hence the crooked hand-stitching you see at the top of the apron. I've dropped me old Elna 7000 at the shop today so we'll see if it can be salvaged.

* * *

Katrina, precious girl, I hope you enjoy your last day in our beautiful land tomorrow, with your beautiful sister and nephew and niece. (And brother-in-law too, but he's not beautiful. Sorry Andrew! :) I hope you find nice, helpful people at the airport and have a wonderfully uneventful (but not boring) flight home. We will pray for a special time of goodbyes in NZ and a wonderful time of welcomes back in the States. I look forward to staying in touch with you and already can't wait until we see you again! Love you.

Eden, know that we will uphold you in prayer as you settle back into your new version of home after tomorrow, precious friend.

18 October 2012

[Coming Up] Blog-iversary + 100th post!

That's right, next weekend is my 2 year blog-iversary! And, if I time it right, my 100th post.

I think that calls for a wee celebration, don't you?

Keep your eyes peeled for a special post - including a give-away!

The kids (minus Tristan) with my Mum at the Auckland Zoo during the school holidays.

17 October 2012

WW: Orange Dress

This here dress be one of my favourite things to wear at the moment. It's easy, comfy and (I think) stylish, and yet it looks like I've made an effort!

If you've read a few more of my Wardrobe Wednesday posts, or indeed my comments on some of your own outfits (or if you actually know me in real life!), you may know that red just happens to be my very favourite colour. I saw this dress in the shop and decided to branch out into a red/orange mix. Very daring, I thought. I love the way it has a big gather of material on one side of the front - it swings when I walk! Fabulous.

My favourite way to wear this dress is with leggings and a cardigan, but it's versatile enough that when the weather really heats up I can ditch them too. What would you think of belting the dress, underneath the cardigan? It only just occurred to me as I looked at the photos...

I'm also wearing my favourite shoes. I just love the shape and style. Though, being brown, they are much harder to pair with my clothes as I mostly have black accents.

I got my hair cut yesterday and I'm not sure if I like it yet... Everybody assured me this morning that they liked it, but I think I need some more time to decide. She cut it like one of those trendy bobs - short at the back, long in the front. I absolutely love that look, but I just don't think it works with my hair? Anyway, I'll figure it out!

Outfit breakdown
Dress + leggings: Postie
Cardigan: Millers
Shoes: thrifted ($7)
Earrings: from Talia via Silverlight jewellery
Necklace: gift from my sister from Greece

Also, after taking photos with the red flats I was wearing this morning, I've decided that I should only wear heels. They make my legs and indeed whole self look so much better! Don't know if I'll actually do it, but I should...

Joining in with my crew at

15 October 2012

SMH: Photo wall

Another Styling My House project brought to you by...

Yes, no fancy sponsors, just me and my desire for a house that reflects my family and my sense of personal style. Whatever that is.

For the last couple of months I've been gathering together photo frames and bits and pieces for my take on a wee 'collage wall.' The space I had in mind was one wall in our lounge. It already contains an uplight (we have no ceiling lights in our lounge - I like that!), a light switch and a clock/thermometer.

I wanted to collate my bits and pieces in a random way to make a bit of a feature of an otherwise blank, boring wall. I used a little birthday money here, visited a new market that started a few months ago there, and gathered things I already had everywhere else. Bring on the kid's nap time...

And voilĂ ! A wee collage wall!

(Looking at the photos, it looks a bit sparse. But I assure you in real life it fills the wall well!

I think my favourite piece - though it's hard to choose! - is the red heart. I chose it from Trade Aid with Rosie on my birthday in July. It's been wrapped in tissue paper in my bedroom since then so it was exciting to get it out! My wee owl is the close second. It's so sweet! Small enough so that the kids don't knock it over, cute enough to make me smile when I look at it. The dove with roses is from the new Gordonton Country Market. I saw it at the start and just had to go back for it before we went home! The 'B' (for our surname) is just from Spotlight. I think it would look better painted, but I'm not sure what colour. What do you think? The little doll is a gift from my sister when she was travelling in Turkey.

It's so nice being able to glance up and see my new collage wall. I love the photos, and love that it will be easy to update them as the kids grow. All in all, a successful way to spend and afternoon nap time, me thinks!