Family Photography Session with Samantha Heather

My mum and dad visited us from Singapore last month and we took the chance to organise a family photo session with the talented and very lovely Samantha Heather. (You may recall that she did a wonderful job 2 years ago when Alexander was only one).

It was a beautiful picture perfect Spring day when we met up with Samantha again at Fagan's Park at Galston where we simply hung out as a family, enjoyed the greenery and fed the ducks. Alexander has become quite resistant to photos lately but even he cooperated after some gentle coaxing (and maybe a lollipop bribe). Here are some shots from the day...

I love the candid shots, the naturalness of it all and in particular, how well Samantha had captured so many aspects of Alexander's personality in the photos. It brings a smile to my face everything I look at them and I know they will be treasured for many many years to come.

In this moment

reading... Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. I picked up this book based on a friend's recommendation and also because I really enjoyed reading her other book Gone Girl. But it really is pretty dark and gory and depressing so far and I'm not sure I want to keep reading it.

watching... The Bachelorette. There's some serious eye candy this season.

reminiscing... Alexander's newborn baby days. We just celebrated his 3rd birthday and it's hard to believe it was 3 years ago since he came into our lives and turned it upside down in most wonderful way.

feeling... a bit congested. A case of hay fever I think. The only downside to beautiful Springtime, in my opinion.

cuddling... a warm and slightly stinky Frankie sausage dog. She really is the perfect lap dog.

wearing... new Calvin Klein cotton bikini Undies. I've just discovered how comfy and perfectly fitting they are. I bought 10 pairs!

listening to... daily Alexander's million and one questions and the non-stop Why Why Why?

enjoying... Stu being at home everyday for the next few weeks. It's nice to spend time as a family, not to mention being able to take turns to sleep in every other day. Bliss.

daydreaming... about being free. Free from responsibilities, debts, obligations, work, duties. Basically daydreaming about what I'd give to be a carefree child again.

loving... the gorgeous photos that the Samantha Heather took of our family recently while my mother and father were visiting from Singapore. Will be sharing them shortly, so stay tuned!

What are you up to in this moment?

Fab five - baby massage oil

A wind down massage at the end of the day after a relaxing bath was an essential part of Alex's baby routine. It really seemed to soothe him, encouraging him to sleep more soundly and for longer. It was a wonderful bonding exercise too, I still remember how he would giggle when I got to his tiny little feet...

Alex's baby days may be over but he still enjoys a relaxing body massage just before bed. These are five of our favourite baby massage oils.
Mustela Massage Oil - I'm a huge fan of Mustela products and this is one of my favourite. It just glides on skin, so easy to spread on and doesn't leave that greasy slippery feel on skin that so many oils do and it has that signature Mustela scent that I find light and pleasant, making Alex smell absolutely delicious.

Green People Organic Babies Soothing Baby Oil - a fragrance free formula using a blend of organic sunflower seed oil, evening primrose oil and rose hip, it gently moisturizes baby's skin and scalp without irritation. I used this in Alex's early baby days when crazy hormones meant I couldn't tolerate fragrance of any kind.

The Jojoba Company 100% Natural Baby Oil - this oil is great for baby massage and amazing at moisturizing baby’s skin. It is made with pure and hypoallergenic jojoba oil, enriched with calming lavender and chamomile - Alexander seems visibly relaxed the first time I used this.

Little Innoscents Organic Massage Oil - a great product to use for baby’s skin that will absorb quickly and leave skin smooth and soft. This hydrating oil is made of sunflower and Jojoba carrier oils and therapeutic essential oils of Spearmint, Lavender, Lemongrass and Sweet Orange. It smells absolutely divine, I use it on myself!

Brauer Naturals Baby Massage Oil - this products contains natural Coconut Oil, Almond Oil, Mandarin Oil, Honey and Paw Paw to pamper and nourish bub’s precious skin and it works just as described! It goes on very smoothly and has a very pleasant aroma. Leaves skin very moisturized until the next bath.

How to make up after yelling at your kids

It can happen even to the calmest moms and dads out there. I mean, it happened to me recently. I was having a stressful day and Alexander did a number of really naughty things (smearing paint on our white walls, spilling water on the ground and "cleaning" it with his feet). Despite my best efforts at peaceful parenting, I just lost my cool. Words were said. Doors were slammed. Unfair treatments were given.
It happened before I could stop myself and of course, I felt an enormous amount of guilt for yelling at Alex and took steps towards making things up with him. If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, here are the things you can do to make up after yelling at your kids.

Step 1 – take a breath. Being angry puts our body and emotion in a high alert, meaning your breathing becomes shallower, muscles are tensed, heart rate is up, and thinking is not clear. Get your body and brain back on track with some deep breaths. Go out for a bit if you must. Just don’t do anything else until you feel at least a bit calmer.
Step 2 – take responsibility without BUTS. Adults do this too! The fact is, it doesn’t matter who started it. This is a good time to teach your children how to take responsibility without you switching the blame to someone else. Do this by saying, “hey, I’m sorry, I let my anger get out of control.” Put the focus on you, but never add “…but you should know better.” Or “…but next time.”
Step 3 – be wary of re-triggering anger. Your kid might not be ready to call it quits or give out the fight. Sometimes it’s easy to get worked up when the issue resurfaces. Just remind yourself that you’re the one in charge of your actions, and similarly, you can be the model of self-control regardless if you blew it a while back.
Step 4 – start a do-over. You can now begin to fix the real issue by offering a do-over. You can do this by saying “ok, I’ll do it again, but this time, without yelling” or “Wow, I got so angry I don’t think I heard what you were talking about.” Say, you begin to feel angry again, take a short break and try it again later.
Step 5 – make the proper amends. Your children may feel disconnected to you if harsh punishments were given or if hurtful words were said. Following the steps above, set the situation aside for a bit, then wait on giving consequences and concentrate instead on repairing the relationship with your kids.
·      Bring your kid somewhere special (I brought Alex to Luna Park for a ride on the Ferris wheel), or treat him or her to Hoyts Cinema in Erina Fair to watch a film he/she likes – this works wonders! It shows them that you’re sorry and you feel responsible for your actions. It can also provide a short break and allows you the bond and talk over things in a lighter note.
·       Talking with your kids after the worst of the issue has passed and everyone has calmed down is also beneficial. Try to find the trigger – what pushed your buttons, and talk it over with your kid. Try to find a pattern that makes you respond with anger. (In my case, Alex was acting out because i wasn't giving him enough attention, I was busying making work calls and sending emails).
If you find yourself getting angry often, or if you find yourself swinging between a calm parent to an angry parent, perhaps it’s time to get some outside help. You may seek out a parent friend, a therapist, or a parent coach to open up and ask assistance. Admitting your issues is a sign of a good parent. I wish you the best!

Mudgee weekender

Mudgee is a wine region approximately 3.5 hours to the North West of Sydney, which is generally speaking a relatively easy drive from home.

Reality: We had just driven about a few hundred metres from our driveway when Alexander started and persisted with the "Are we there yet?", "Holiday house?", "I can't see it?", "Nearly there yet?" questions, making it what must be the longest 3.5 hours of Stuart's and my life. Luckily Alex was able to amuse and distract himself for parts of the journey looking at the trucks and diggers along the way, singing along to the Wiggles, so we managed to arrive sane, albeit a lot weary. It helped that our accommodation or "holiday house" as Alex calls it, looked like this:
Trelawney Farm, Mudgee

We were joined by two of our closest friends for the weekend. We visited numerous vineyards where Stu and our friends partook in wine tasting and spent too much money, while Alexander and I went on little adventures, exploring each vineyard's property; for example, meeting a dog which was taking a dip in the dam that had somehow been trained to catch stones in its mouth, meeting farm animals, getting up close and personal to a grater digger truck with wheels as big as me, and exploring a very productive vegetable garden against an amazing backdrop where we found the most enormous cauliflower I've ever seen in my entire life.
We also attempted using the outdoor woodfire oven for the first time of our lives. Firing it up took 3 long hours, but it made some of the best pizzas Stu had ever made. One night Stu and I even managed to duck out or a special dinner date at the hatted The Zin House where we enjoyed an absolutely delightful degustation meal made with the whole garden and farm produce ethos. Highlight dish of the night was a vegetable tart tartin, a savoury twist on the French classic, made with the lightest of puff pastry. Mmm, my mouth's watering at the mere recollection of it.

How was your weekend?