Hello! How are you? Again, it’s been a long time, no speak blog. What’s been happening? And what’s up next? Let’s catch up.
The last time I blogged, we were 40 days into lockdown. It felt like a looong time. And I thought we were nearly through it when I wrote hopefully about impending freedom. Ha, the naivety! I cringe to think. Little did we know, right? 2020 ended up being a shitshow. There’s no other word for it. Then 2021 happened. In the grand scheme of things, we’ve been very lucky through the pandemic. We’re yet to have COVID ourselves, haven’t had any loved ones get seriously ill, nor have we been overly impacted in terms of work. My heart goes out to everyone who has suffered and, worst of all, lost loved ones.
Sadly, we did lose our pa during lockdown and then our nana seven months later. I still feel devastated that they were separated during pa’s final months. On his last visit to see nana through the nursing home fence, he asked if he could spend a little extra time with her. I wonder if he knew somehow those would be their final moments together.
I felt sad too when I revisited my last blog post and saw the photo. Elsie, sitting at the edge of our local pond in her little pink romper, was a mere 18 months old. Now she is nearly three and a half. It hurts to reflect on the past two years and all we’ve lost during that time. All our kids have lost. Memories we should have made that we can never get back. Being in lockdown, isolated with a toddler and a new baby, was a rollercoaster that pushed me to my limits. Some days, I delighted in all the time we had together. Many others, I crumbled. It’s been a lot, hasn’t it? We all have our stories and I think we’ll all be carrying lockdown trauma for a long time to come.
Now again, the world feels so heavy. Unfathomable floods. Climate crisis. War. How is it so? How can we fix our broken world? I don’t know. Sometimes it feels hopeless. And that is a hard pill to swallow.
Despite it all, life somehow trundles on. And, during a snap lockdown in February 2021, we welcomed new life with the arrival of our second precious daughter, Iris Evelyn. A beautiful chubby babe, she was born weighing 4.51kg (nearly 10 pounds). An even bigger whopper than her big sister! It was an incredible, empowering birth experience – despite being the antithesis of a dream birth. There was preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, an induction, an epidural when I failed to progress, a ventouse and then an almighty postpartum haemorrhage and trip to theatre to remove some stubborn placenta.
Most importantly though, our precious girl was born safely – and that was a miracle. As we discovered after she was born, she was 1 in 2000 babies with a true, tight knot in her cord. Impossible to detect, it’s tragically often fatal in utero and during birth. One of our midwives said there must have been somebody watching over us in those early hours of the morning and I think she was right. Iris was due on the 10th of February – pa’s birthday. He was so thrilled about that but sadly passed away before she was born. We had many signs throughout my pregnancy that our baby was going to be a little girl and was meant to be called Iris – one of which was the beautiful purple dutch irises that adorned pa’s coffin. Those vibrant blooms felt like a little whisper; a tangible link between him somewhere on the other side and our baby on the way, just beginning the journey of life. So, I suspect he was there somehow that morning, safely shepherding her into the world.
The sweetest, smiliest baby girl, she stole our hearts and was a light of joy during a very difficult year of lockdowns and uncertainty. After a long, hard journey, we have the two children we always dreamed of in our arms and a little angel looking over us too. Our family is complete and our hearts are full.
A tree change
There’s nothing like having kids to make you appreciate the passing of time. Blink and all of a sudden, Elsie is a little girl and Iris is a toddler. Our babies are growing up and they only get one childhood. The pandemic has made many of us stop, reflect and ask some big questions. What really matters? What kind of life do we want for our kids? On New Year’s Eve 2020, I wrote down a vision for the year to come. First and foremost, was safely welcoming our second baby. Second, was finally making the tree change we’d dreamt of for years a reality. Then, COVID 2.0 happened and real estate was again thrown into disarray. No in-person inspections and an almost non-existent supply of properties in beautiful Gembrook, in Victoria’s Dandenong Ranges, where we wanted to move.
Somehow, we still believed it was going to happen. I registered Elsie for kinder the following year, despite living 30 kilometres away. I felt a bit ridiculous doing so and didn’t really expect her to get a place, but – lo and behold – she did! We attended the orientation evening in November, still without a house to move to. In fact, we’d just missed out on what we thought was our dream home the previous month. At this point, it was starting to feel a bit hopeless. And yet, we still believed – some way, somehow – we were going to make it to Gembrook in time for Elsie to start kinder. In late November, one night as I was nursing Iris before bed, I did my daily flick over to the real estate app. And there it was. Our home.
It had everything we wanted. The space we desperately needed after being squished into our 3-bedroom home that was just fine when we were three, but too tight once Iris arrived and my husband started working from home. Finally, Iris has her own room with her own things, the girls have a dedicated playroom and Steve and I both have room to work from home. The huge butler’s pantry and laundry are icing on the cake – my little, organisational-loving heart is in heaven here with more storage than I know what to do with! There’s a veggie patch, a shed, a big deck the girls can play on whatever the weather and a lovely established garden. I can’t wait for spring to discover what colour blooms emerge on our big rhododendron.
For the three years we house hunted, we went back and forth trying to decide if we wanted to be out of town on a bit of land or in town within walking distance to shops and cafes, kinder and school, playgrounds and public transport. Back in the burbs, I walked to everything – so eventually we decided on the latter. I knew I’d loathe having to the load the girls into the car whenever we wanted to go somewhere. Secondly, with a very social little girl on our hands, we realised we wanted neighbours and community within close reach. Our new home is at the end of a court, full of kids. Many afternoons they end up in the street playing together: riding bikes, building obstacle courses and running wild. My heart is so happy to watch Elsie having the time of her life with all these newfound friends.
We thought the compromise of living in town would be less of a rural feel, but here we have the best of both worlds. Perched up on a hill, our home has a beautiful vista of Gembrook Park with its array of magnificent mountain grey gums, mountain ashes, messmate stringybarks and tree ferns. All day long, we live our lives to a chorus of kookaburras, cockatoos and king parrots. There’s also a resident wombat, Wilbur, who sometimes sidles up our street! I still can’t get over how quiet and dark it is at night. All those years of dreaming and it’s better than we imagined. Did we manifest it? Or was it meant to be? I’m not sure. But when it seemed impossible, we kept believing. I guess we all just want a wonderful life for our kids, don’t we? And with that in our minds and hearts, we can bring amazing things into being.
A return to work
Now, a new chapter is beginning. This year, Elsie has started kinder and I’m back to work. I can’t wait. The last three years of being a full-time mum (minus a bit of work in 2020) have been intense. Intensely joyous and intensely consuming. I will always be grateful for the privilege of spending this time with our girls while they were little. I wouldn’t change it for anything. But I’m ready to rediscover a part of myself. The part that needs some time away to think, learn and create. Even writing this blog has felt like coming home. Putting words on the page, editing, tweaking, chasing after the truth and pinning it down to share and connect. To say, ‘This is me. How about you?’ It feels great.
To mark this new beginning, it’s also time for a refresh of my biz. My first brand and website have served me well since 2015, but I’m ready for a new expression of myself and what I’m about. I’m thinking something organic and simple; something that draws inspiration from the beautiful natural environment that now surrounds me. It’s also time for new photos. Let’s be honest, I’m not looking quite so fresh and perky these days! Two kids in just over two years will do that! But seriously, the grey hair, the wrinkles, the post-kids perspective – it’s all part of the journey I’m so grateful to be on and I want to capture it authentically.
Marketing wise, I’m toying with the idea of an Instagram account. I used to have one, but then it became my place to post baby spam and I had to put it on private. So, do I want one? Need one? Do I have the time? Probably not! Maybe a semi-regular newsletter is a better way to go? Natalie Zee has recently started one which I am loving. If you’re into food (particularly healthy, not hard recipes), check it out.
Work wise, I’m available and booking projects. If we’ve worked together in the past and there’s something nagging at you that needs to be written, please get in touch! Or if you’re new here and wondering if I could help you, I’d love to connect.
After being immersed in the world of real estate for the last three years while we house hunted and loving the thrill of the chase, I’m also toying with the idea of real estate copywriting. More often than not, the copy leaves a lot to be desired! Clearly, many agents just rely on good photos. And while yes, pictures paint a thousand words, words can tell a story and make an emotional connection beyond what we can see. I think I have something to offer in this space I’m excited to explore.
So, that’s where I’m at. Life is full in the best possible way. Now that we’re through the chaos of moving and unpacking, I’m making time to stop and soak it all in. Last week, I was sitting on our deck, a cool breeze blowing up from the bush, and it hit me. I have everything I ever dreamed of. A wonderful husband. Two precious girls. Our forever home in the hills. Work I love. Wonderful family and friends. Good health and happiness. Literally everything. It feels big and vulnerable to acknowledge that, let alone write it down. Because of course, when we have so much, there is so much to lose. But, as one of my main life mantras goes, ‘I live my life in love and joy, not fear.’ And so it is. Love and joy. I am very lucky. And very grateful. For us right now, life in our little part of this wild world is good. I hope you and yours are well too. And I hold you in tenderness and comfort if you are struggling. My inbox is always open.
Take care, friends.