These Small Hours – The Reason Behind The Blog Name Change

I started this blog three years ago, when two little pee lines changed my life.  I discovered I was carrying a very surprise pregnancy and I started the blog to share my experiences.  I called it “Life After Two Blue Lines” – because those two lines seemed a watershed moment to me, a defining point in my life of before and after.

pregnancy test

I wasn’t wrong.  For the next 9 months my life revolved around my pregnancy, and for the next year or two after that my life revolved around the challenge and adventure of reconciling myself to the realities of motherhood and embracing the journey it entails.  I haven’t used this blog nearly as much as I should have – as much as I wish I had – to record that journey, but it has been here nonetheless as my little place of self-expression and discovery.

becoming mum

Lately, however, as I grow into my role as mum, I have begun to feel confined by the name “Life After Two Blue Lines” as I feel it defines me and my life purely in terms of motherhood.  As I grow into this new life, I am able to slowly remember that I am a mum yes, first and always, but I am also more, I am also else, I am also other.  I am also still me – a new me, a growing me, a changed me… but still me.  Still me whole unto myself as well as being “Mum”.

At the end of the day I think my life story will always be defined around the incredible power of those two lines.  And me the mum and me the person will always be completely, utterly and inextricably intertwined.  And yet I feel it is important to maintain a sense of myself, of my own passions and interests, besides the wiping of bums and cuddling of a sweet and cheeky little body.

me and camera

The title “These Small Hours” comes from the lyrics of the Rob Thomas song “These Little Wonders, which has always spoken right into the core of me.  From the moment I hear the first bars, the first few words, I feel my shoulders relax and I start to remember what life is really about.

let it go,
let it roll right off your shoulder
don’t you know
the hardest part is over
let it in,
let your clarity define you
in the end
we will only just remember how it feels

our lives are made
in these small hours
these little wonders,
these twists & turns of fate
time falls away,
but these small hours,
these small hours still remain

let it slide,
let your troubles fall behind you
let it shine
until you feel it all around you
and i don’t mind
if it’s me you need to turn to
we’ll get by,
it’s the heart that really matters in the end

our lives are made
in these small hours
these little wonders,
these twists & turns of fate
time falls away,
but these small hours,
these small hours still remain

all of my regret
will wash away some how
but i can not forget
the way i feel right now

in these small hours
these little wonders
these twists & turns of fate
these twists & turns of fate
time falls away
but these small hours

these small hours
still remain

 To me this simple, beautiful song sums up so much that is important to me.

It sums up parenthood – how the beauty of it lies in the small hours – these little wonders – the simple magic of the day to day.

It sums up life – not the big excitements and achievements – but the small hours, the ordinary, the RIGHT NOW where all of life exists, where our lives are truly made.  It reminds you to cherish each day and see what is special in each moment and to remember what is really important –

– It’s the heart that really matters in the end.

And it sums up my approach to photography, my absolute passion for it, my desire to document all of those small hours, those tiny ordinary moments and little wonders that make life so special, so that one day, when
time falls away
these small hours
these small hours
still remain.

I’m afraid that in the end – I will only just remember how it feels.

I want to capture and celebrate the small hours.  I want to remember to dwell always in the small hours and see the little wonders that dwell there.

Scarlett laughing

I want to never forget
the way I feel right now.

Family Christmas Trip 2012 – The Highlights

Seeing as we spent Christmas over here in Australia last year, we decided to make the trip to New Zealand for Christmas and New Years this year, to see my family (Scarlett’s grandma and aunties).  They hadn’t seen her since our trip over there when she was 6 months old, so they loved spending some time with her, and she loved it as well!  She got very spoilt for Christmas!

Seeing as there is no direct flight from Perth to Wellington, we decided to break the trip up a little and had two nights in Sydney on the way and two nights in Melbourne on the way back.  I’m really glad we decided to break the flights up like that (flying with a 16 month old can be challenging at best!), and it was really nice to get a quick little glimpse of two Aussie cities that I’m rather fond of.

The weather in Sydney and Melbourne was fantastic, and even Wellington turned on the sun and a bit of warmth for Christmas Day!  Daddy C and myself even got a couple of nights on the town in Wellington thanks to a grandma eager to babysit 🙂

Travelling with a toddler certainly isn’t the laidback beach-chillin that comes to mind when you think of the word “holiday”… but we had a really great two weeks together and it was a wonderful break away from everyday life to round off a really good year.

I decided to write this as a highlights post and pop up a photo from each day of our holiday… there will be individual posts for each day with many more photos to come 🙂

 

Saturday, 22 December – Flying to Sydney

dad and bubba at airport

 

Sunday, 23 December – Sunny Day In Sydney

babywearing at darling harbour

 

Monday, 24 December – Christmas Eve – Family Time in Wellington

bubba with aunties

 

Tuesday, 25 December – Christmas Day in Wellington

bubba at christmas table

 

Wednesday, 26 December – Boxing Day – Drawing

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Thursday, 27 December – Fun at Grandma’s

bubba riding big cat

Friday, 28 December – Grandma’s 52 Year Old Teddy Bear

bubba with grandma's teddy

Saturday, 29 December – “Cooking”

bubba pretending cooking

Sunday, 30 December – Hanging With Nana

bubba reading with nana

Monday, 31 December – New Year’s Eve – Family Day

family photo 16 months old

Tuesday, 1 January – New Year’s Day – Three Generations of Girls

three generations

Wednesday, 2 January – Flying to Melbourne

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Thursday, 3 January – Melbourne Hotel

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Can’t beat Melbourne on a good day!

melbourne street

Friday, 4 January – Flying Home!

bubba in airport seat

{357/366:2012} And We’re Off!

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Today is the first day of our holiday – the mission day… our first flight of the trip!  To be honest, it was a nightmare.  I used to LOVE travelling and flying.  But flying with a baby is NOT fun.  Especially not flying four hours with a very active toddler.

But we survived and FINALLY made it to our lovely serviced apartment in central downtown Sydney just in time to flop on the bed and order some DELICIOUS burgers from room service, while bubba enjoyed munching on the hot chips.

It’s a holiday… but not as I used to know it!

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2212web-2Hey cutie, whatchu doin’?

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We Finally Made It To The Beach!

When we first decided to build our house, one of the things that drew me to this location was the fact that there is a coastline and beach just 5 minutes drive from the house site.  And yet, we moved in and somehow just never made it to the beach!  At first we didn’t have a car, and it really is just that little bit too far to walk.  Then we got a car… but it was winter… and life settled into a routine… and we just never got around to it.

A few weeks ago I decided I really needed to check out this local beach!  So Scarlett and I popped down for a quick little visit.  It’s gorgeous!!  Fairly secluded and quiet but totally stunning, it felt like being on holiday and it was less than 5 minutes drive from our house!

As soon as we got over the sand dune, Scarlett started pointing at the ocean and emiting her little interested noises “ah!  ah!”  I put her on the sand and she started racing off towards the water!  I didn’t let her go in this time because I wanted to go to the shops afterwards, but we definitely have to head back there soon with togs and towel and let her go for it in the wet sand.

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Seagull!

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Scarlett’s First Birthday

It was almost a month ago now but I decided it was well past time I wrote a little post about Scarlett’s first birthday!

Her actual birthday is August 12.  But it all started on Friday, August 10 – baking day!!

I made two batches of cupcakes and one decadant chocolate cake, and somehow it managed to take me ALLLLL day!!  Bubba helped out by sleeping while I did most of the baking, and then licking the spoon when she woke up 🙂  By the end of the day I was exhausted and the kitchen was somewhat the worse for wear…

Chaos, anyone?

…but I had done it!!  It wasn’t the beautiful shiny cake I saw so many other friends making… but it was made with love and I was proud of my efforts.

The next day was Scarlett’s birthday BBQ (held the day before her actual birthday because Saturday is just more convenient for people when you live 40 minutes from the CBD).  We don’t really have close friends with children here in Perth yet, so it was more an adult celebration – but hey, Scarlett didn’t mind being the sole centre of attention!

We invited people over for midday in the hope Scarlett would have just woken up from a morning nap… of course she didn’t sleep all morning and was ready for a nap as people were arriving!  The joy of an adult party was that it didn’t matter – she napped and we watched the footy and caught up with everyone for a while.

Once she had woken up, she indulged in her favourite food – strawberries!! – and stunned everyone with her ability to eat a whole strawberry in one mouthful!

Then we headed to the park for cake and cupcakes.  Scarlett absolutely DEMOLISHED her piece of cake!!  She loved it!  She also enjoyed opening all her presents… although she seemed more fascinated by the cards!

After all that sugar, she wriggled off to use off some of that energy!

She had a great day and the adults enjoyed some chats and bevvies after she had konked out for the night, exhausted 🙂

The next day, Saturday 12 August, was her actual birthday.  We just had a quiet day at home, but we saved the pressies from Mum and Dad until her actual birthday to make it a bit special.  She wasn’t quite sure about the dolly, but she loved the name puzzle and especially loved the Bop N Pop lion!  Both the puzzle and the musical lion toy are still some of her favourite things to play with.

Sometimes I wish I was one of those mums that made perfect cakes and made lovely themed decorations and let millions of babies and children run rampant through my house… but I figure I just have to accept that’s not really my style and just make the best of the mum I am.  I think she enjoyed her days and I know she enjoyed her cake! haha!  I think she knows how special she is to us, and I guess that’s what counts, at the end of the day.

Happy birthday once again, my little monkey!  I can’t believe you’re turning into a real little girl now!

Scarlett Rose: The First Year

This is a little ode to Scarlett – a compilation of photos from the first year of her life that I have been working on.  I’ve watched it about a million times and it makes me teary every time!

This has been such a rollercoaster year.  It hasn’t always been easy.  I didn’t take to motherhood as instantly as I had always thought I would.  There have been hard times and dark days.  But she has always been amazing.  She is such a good, happy, funny little girl.  She has such a nutty personality and watching it unfold and grow is just amazing.

I would say that things have gotten steadily more enjoyable for me as a mum since about 7 months old, when she started being able to move around on her own.  Since then, I have found myself enjoying her more and more.  I genuinely love hanging out with her, she makes me laugh constantly, even when I’m grumpy.  I love the way she chats and babbles and giggles and dances and squeals.  I love that big cheeky grin.

Becoming a mum has been a challenge and a struggle and a massive learning curve for me.  But it has also opened me up to a level of love that I never knew was possible.  My heart bursts at the seams with how much I adore her.  Even when I’m struggling, I know that it’s me that’s the problem, me that has a lesson to learn – she is always perfect.  She is my teacher, not the other way around.

She has changed so much in just one year – I can’t imagine what life will be like in another year’s time, who she will become.  But I’m just so goddamn blessed that I get to go along for the ride 😀

Mum The Photographer

I’ve always loved photography.  Often the highlight of traveling for me was new things to take pictures of – I would just go for a big walk whenever I arrived somewhere new and take photographs.

But when bubba came along, suddenly I had the perfect photographic subject – she provided ample opportunity and inspiration, and she made any photo cute just by virtue of being cute – who doesn’t love a photo of a baby?!

Babies are cute!

In late December, I came across the wonderful Georgia from Gregarious Peach, who invited one and all via her blog to participate in a 366 project – a project she called Documenting Delight.  Basically, it involves taking a photograph every single day for a year (2012 being a leap year, that makes it a 366 project).  I decided to take the project on and have been documenting my photo a day since January 1st over at everylittlewonder.wordpress.com.

For the first half of the year, I was using my cruddy old camera.  I don’t even remember where or when I got it, and I was getting very frustrated with it.  It was terrible in anything but the brightest light, and incredibly slow and sluggish.  Daddy C saw how much I was enjoying the project and how much my camera was annoying me, so he promised to get me a good camera for my birthday in July.

My old camera. Aka: hunka junk.

Bless his heart, I don’t think he realised just what he was getting himself in for when he promised me “a good camera”! 😛  I did a lot of research and eventually decided to go with a DSLR – the latest release from Canon, the 650D.

Me and my new camera. I luffs it. LUFFS IT!!!

Well, the camera arrived three days ago and I am in absolute heaven!  I can’t believe the difference it makes – even just the clarity of the photos is amazing.  Not to mention the increased creative possibilities.  I am slowly learning about apeture,  depth of field, the exposure triangle and the rest… with a little bit of photoshop thrown in there for finishing touches.  It’s a big learning curve but I feel like I am slowly grasping it and learning to put it into practice and it’s so exciting!  It’s so exciting to see the potential for a photo and actually be able to produce something close to what your minds eye envisaged, rather than being continually frustrated.

This is a picture taken in the evening with my old camera, straight from the camera. Crap.

 

Photo taken with my new camera, at the same time of day with similar lighting conditions to the one directly above (photo straight from camera). The clarity!  The sharpness!

And yes, I know – I know it’s the biggest cliche ever – the new mum who suddenly discovers a passion for photography.  For me it has always been a latent dream, I swear.  In fact, just before I moved to the UK (where I met Daddy C), I had enrolled in a full time photography course in Wellington – but, being a little lost in life, decided to travel instead.  And besides that – babies are inspiring and there’s nothing wrong with that.  They inspire you to want to capture the precious moments you have with them, to keep forever – cos babies are babies for such a short time.  They inspire you to want to capture everything about them that you love so much.

As I explained to Daddy C – to me, photography is art for people who can’t draw (I suck at drawing!).  It’s a form of self-expression – it’s not just about capturing what IS… it’s about capturing what YOU SEE – your perspective, your vision.  Being a mumtographer to me isn’t just about taking snapshots of your kids – it’s taking the kind of photo where the viewer feels how much you love them just by looking at your photograph.

My gorgeous little monkey

Photography to me is a collaboration with light, with the camera as a tool.  I’m so lucky to have such a generous man who indulges my little passion.  Not to mention such a gorgeous wee subject.  And gosh damn, it’s just so much fun!

11 Months: Chatting

In the past couple of months, I feel bubba’s main development has been in her language.  She’s more confident in pulling herself to standing and scooting along the edge of the couch, and then crouching back down to the ground again.  But her strongest steps forward have been in her talking.

Bubba has a chat with Dad

Not that she’s “talking” in the sense of using words with meaning yet.  A silly little pet peeve of mine is when people claim their child’s “first word” when actually they are still babbling.  Sounds like “dadadad” and “mummmmm” are just babies playing with their mouths and voices for a long time.  I personally consider a “first word” to be the first word a child uses with intent – consciously knowing that making this mixture of sounds is semantically linked with a specific object, person or meaning.

So I guess, in a way, Scarlett has kind of said her first word – “ta” (for readers in the northern hemisphere, we use “ta” to mean thank you, or in the sense of “ta to Dad”, meaning “give it to Dad please”).  She now says “ta” whenever she wants something, and that something is usually food!  Whenever she sees the punnet of strawberries (or as I like to call them, Scarlett-crack), she cracks a huge smile and starts expectantly chanting “ta! ta! ta! ta!”  The other day I was cooking her some fritters and I gave her a bit to taste.  As soon as she finished it, she looked up at me and started going “ta! ta!”  So while “ta” may not be a complicated word, and she may not be strictly using it in the sense of “thank you”, she has still figured out that a certain combination of sounds has a meaning that can be used to communicate her desires… so I guess her first word is “ta!”

Strawberry!!! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta!

She also likes to babble away in her own Scarlett language.  I love to hear her chatting!  She makes sounds I’ve never heard a baby make before – she really likes to explore all the noises her mouth can make.  One of her favourites is “gud” (which sounds disconcertingly like “good”).   “Gud gud gud gud gud” never fails to make me laugh.

I like it when she sits with her books, telling her own little stories.  She is growing to really love her books.  I am a bookworm to the core and I have always derived a great deal of enjoyment from books, so I would love to be able to share that with her.  Her favourite book so far is Hairy Maclairy, a children’s book by a New Zealand author that reminds me of my own childhood.  I love it how she sits there listening, turning the pages and pointing to the pictures.

Reading a story with Dad

She has her moments, but she really is, for the most part, a happy chatty little girl.  I am incredibly blessed that most nights (touch wood!) she sleeps straight from about 8 pm to 7 am (sometime with the odd grizzle for the dummy back in, but resettling only takes a few minutes these days).  She loves daycare – hanging out with the other kiddies, getting dirty in the sandpit and eating lots of yum food.  She’s learning to give dad kisses on the cheek – well, they’re more like open mouthed slobbers, but still!

In two weeks it will be her birthday and I can’t believe it!  Life has changed so much and yet in some ways the time has flown.  I am so blessed to be mum to such a beautiful little girl.

Love my baby girl!

Cluck Cluck Cluck

I am clucky as a barnyard full of chickens at the moment.

It’s crazy, isn’t it?!  After my painful, drawn out birth experience… after how incredibly hard I found the first few months… even with how I still struggle to learn patience and to give up my alone time… even though my brain is in full knowledge of all of that….

I want another one.

Two!  Can you imagine me with two?!  My brain says it’s a ridiculous idea.  My brain says to wait at least one or two more years.  But everything else – whether it’s hormones or maternal instinct or I don’t know what the hell it is – just wants to make another baby.

I think part of the reason I had such a tough time in the beginning with Scarlett is because I was mourning the life I lost.  I was mourning sleep ins, quiet hours reading my book, uninterrupted cups of tea, nights out on the town without a second thought, doing what I want, when I want…. I was mourning a life which revolved around ME.

It was a hard transition for me to make.  I really struggled in those first few months.  If you had asked me then, I would have said Scarlett was going to be an only child and I was NEVER doing this again.  Ah female hormones are wonders for handing out rose-coloured glasses 😛

And yet, I think one of the things that made it so hard for me was the fact that I didn’t realise how rewarding it would get.  I had no idea how much I would really come to enjoy it.  From about six months onwards, I have found bubba so much more fun.  She moves around, she initiates laughter, her personality slowly becomes revealed, she smiles when she’s having fun, she chats.  She’s fun to be around.  She make me laugh all the time, even when I’m grumpy.

Seeing her amazing little personality begin to shine more and more each day, it just makes me think – we made a person!  And… we could make another one!  What would our next little person be like?  What would his/her personality be like, what would make them laugh, what would they find fun?

I’m never going to be childless again, and I feel like I’ve already mourned for that and come to terms with it.  In some ways, maybe that is the hardest part over for me.  For the first few months, the words “mum” and “daughter” didn’t feel right in my mouth.  I still didn’t identify with it – it sounded like someone else.  Now I hear a baby cry and instantly move as if to react – even if Scarlett is not around.  Now telling people I have a daughter is the most natural thing in the world.  I have accepted my new role, my new identity – Mum.

Which is not to say I have lost who I was – rather that who I was has been expanded upon, added to… made better.  Being a mum makes me a better person every day.

Life doesn’t revolve around me anymore – it revolves around her every second… and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  She adds the dimension to my life that I had been missing all those years of lostness and searching.  Even when it’s hard, I know my life is better for having her in it.

I would love to go through the whole thing again with the knowledge I have now – with less of the unknown, being able to enjoy each step a little more for knowing what comes after it.  Savouring each bit a little more.  Savouring that initial excitement of being pregnant.  Savouring the big fat waddling stage.  Savouring the birth – yes, even that.  Savouring that newborn time when they are needy and teensy and just eat and drink and sleep.  Savouring every bit in that bittersweet knowledge that it lasts just such a very short time in the scheme of things.

I would hope that I would cope better this time around, with the newborn stage, with all of it.  But adding a toddler into the mix… well, that’s just a whole new ballgame isn’t it?!  Who knows… but I really would like to find out.

But don’t go getting too excited, we’re certainly not trying yet, the timing isn’t quite right for us yet, and my IUD isn’t going to be letting in any “accidents”.  So I will just sit and cluck a little longer and enjoy my mini munchkin as she grows.

Cluck.