Christmas 2013

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

None of these photos capture the spirit of the day - the wet weather, the cousins all playing inside, the cousins shivering after swimming in the pool despite the weather (because what is Christmas day without a swim?), the beautiful and abundant food, the singalong, the laughter and the happiness - but now that I have told you about those things perhaps you can overlay that onto the photos as you look at them. We're sitting back now, putting up our feet and feeling pretty damn good about life.
Breathe in.
Breathe out.
Heart full.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

The house smells amazing.
We took these to the Hawkesbury today. The weather was hot, humid and windy. Poppet struggled with the heat before falling asleep in her stroller with a hibiscus print muslin wrap draped over it to keep the sun and the flies off her sweet sweaty skin.
Sweetie was beet red and desperately unhappy until he found a spot in the cricket chair under the shade of a willow on the banks. Those willows may not be good for our rivers but they are languorously beautiful and lent a little shade to our unhappy picnickers today.
G, J and JW swam in the tea stained water along the banks of the river and took turns riding on the flat deck tube squealing with delight as they bounced along the wake and the hot wind tore through their hair. They sat on the edge of their seats with their hands gripping the boat rails and their eyes wide as their aunts and uncles (and dad) took turns water skiing. C watched from the banks, joining in the swimming but not joining in the tubing until she had watched everyone else take their turns and then she rallied herself and had a go. She has a deep and impressive strength that girl. It is not as easy for her to be brave as it is for some of the others but she breathes deeply into her belly, takes her time and then goes for it. Every time I see it it amazes me. I admire her.
They ate chicken and lettuce rolls for lunch, drank bottles of water warmed by the day to quench their thirst and proudly shared the gingerbread they had made and decorated.
I waded in 'til the water was over my knees and the hem of my dress was wet to be close enough in case my little ducklings wandered a little too far out or forgot about the current coaxing them downstream. My new brother-in-law came past on the ski kicking up a spray to impress the children and showered me with warm river water. My hat and dress were soaked but it was the kind of day where things like that are delightful and not annoying.
We listened to Haim, Flight of the Conchords and Passenger in the car on the way home with the a/c turned up high and everyone safely clipped in to their seats. We sang loudly, wondered aloud about how lucky we were to have had such a great day and then the little ones fell into that lovely sun-warrmed sleep. Mr Duyvken and I carried them into the house when we got home feeling their warm cheeks on our shoulders and laid them gently on their beds so they could sleep off some of the heat.
We hung out load after load of laundry and talked about our Christmas plans, and as we passed pegs to each other under the clothesline I felt the wet grass beneath my bare feet, the warm breeze on the damp hair at the nape of my neck, and a deep contentment settled within. I want to remember this, I said, I am truly happy.
Contentment and joy to you, dear reader, with lots of love from me.

From the Notes Bag

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I got this lovely note from one of C's classmates and of course, I said yes. Although, now that I am preparing for it I am not so sure. Luckily, I will have my favourite prop(py) (hahaha.... ahem) and am going to finish by reading them a story so hopefully that will keep everyone happy. 

It is tomorrow morning at 9am. I'll let you know how I get on.

6 weeks

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Wonderful? Why yes, she is.
Breathe in.
Breathe out.
Heart full.

Looking Down

Thursday, October 10, 2013

She is adored intensely this sweet girl of ours. It is a pity that we can't remember being cradled and sung to and gazed at with such love. I like to think that even though the memory centre of our brain is not developed enough yet in infancy to retain experiences like these, the visceral response stays with us and allows us to fully immerse ourselves in being the ones who cradle, gaze and sing when we are old enough. She is soaking up the love we are pouring over her at the moment. I don't know if we'll do it right but we promise to do our best.

Serendipitously* Naming Babies

Friday, October 04, 2013

Astute readers will have noted that the name Poppy only appeared in the list of potential baby names as a nickname for Calliope. We were fairly certain that we would name our little girl Thea Emily but when I was in labour we were still chatting names and Mr Duyvken was browsing name lists online throwing out suggestions that all sounded pretty good. By the time those 4 hours had passed and I was holding our beautiful girl we were feeling less certain about Thea and were tossing around Thea, Poppy and Evangeline. I still love the name Thea but there was something about this little one when she was born that made me feel that the name didn't suit her. She looked too much like her big brother, Sweetie, and not enough like her big sister, JW. Does that make any sense? Of course not, but please remember that my veins were coursing with post-birth endorphins and other hormones that make it almost impossible to make sensible decisions.
For the following 24hrs I called her Poppy, Hattie, Evangeline, sometimes Calliope and even sometimes Thea. Trying names on her as if they were hats. Some were too big and cumbersome for her delicate little face, some were like a cloche hiding her entirely and a couple felt just right. Even after we settled on Poppy we had to decide if it would be short for Calliope or not. We still haven't filled in the registration of birth form so I may change my mind but, at this stage, she is just Poppy and it seems just right for her.
And then something quite wonderful happened. A few years ago we gave my mum a Meanings of Flowers book for her birthday and when she popped in yesterday to have a few snuggles with her newest granddaughter she mentioned that she had looked up Poppy and it means 'fantastic extravagance'. And that does seem like the perfect name for our 6th child. Our 'just one more'. Our fantastic extravagance.
Breathe in.
Breathe out.
Heart full.

* With thanks to Horace Walpole for this wonderful word.
seren·dipi·tous·ly adv.
Word History: We are indebted to the English author Horace Walpole for the word serendipity, which he coined in one of the 3,000 or more letters on which his literary reputation primarily rests. In a letter of January 28, 1754, Walpole says that "this discovery, indeed, is almost of that kind which I call Serendipity, a very expressive word."Walpole formed the word on an old name for Sri Lanka, Serendip. He explained that this name was part of the title of "a silly fairy tale, called The Three Princes of Serendip: as their highnesses traveled, they were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of...."

Back to Ploughing

Monday, September 30, 2013


She's here! She's here! Our wonderful daughter born on September 23rd just a little after 10pm after a fantastic labour (if such a thing can be said of labour). We cocooned ourselves together, her and I, in the hospital for 4 nights before coming home to the welcoming arms of all the duyvkens.
She weighed 3.16kgs at birth and was lovely and squooshy with wrinkly hands. She's still lovely, of course, but even after just one week she has lost some of that newborn wrinkliness.
Breathe in.
Breathe out.
Heart (very) full.
Why 'Back to Ploughing'? In Pearl S. Buck's The Good Earth the main character's wife, Olan, delivers all her children on her own in their little house and then gets straight back to the fields.I figured that if Olan could do that then I (despite feeling a little nervous in the early stages of labour) would be fine delivering my baby with the support of Mr Duyvken, lovely midwives, the ob who has delivered all the duyvkens and great medical facilities right there just in case anything went awry. And, even though I didn't get right back to ploughing I kind of felt like I could. Our bodies are amazing.


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Our freshly painted bedroom walls make a pretty good photo backdrop for blue-eyed boys.

Counting Down

Thursday, September 19, 2013

I think I just filled the car for the last time before Little One arrives.

A Final Flourish

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

I started this little stroller quilt a long time ago when little Hugo first made his appearance but, as usual, it has taken ages to get it completed. I sewed the final stitches into the binding today and will pop it in the post to him tomorrow. I hope his big sister and two mums like it. It's like my own little 'screw you' to Russia.
No doubt Putin is shaking in his boots.
Welcome to the world Hugo Knox, may it grow in tolerance and acceptance as you grow in height and shoe size. With lots of love from me.

39 Weeks Pregnant

Monday, September 16, 2013

...and so ready to go. Please excuse the stain on my portable shelf and my pointy old lady elbows.

We did the big bedroom shuffle over the weekend so now everyone is where they need to be. I breathed a huge sigh of relief once we'd done that. It took all weekend to get the clothes/shoes/etc sorted and there is still a lot of stuff lying around that needs to find a home. I am hoping that doing a couple of hours each day will see things in much better shape by the time next weekend rolls around.

We also celebrated C's birthday (a few weeks ahead of schedule) over the weekend with some school friends and wonderful cousins. She had a ball. I had my traditional struggles with icing subsidence but I used a new recipe for the butter cake and it was delicious. I'm posting it here so I don't lose it.

Butter Cake Recipe from Sarah Hobbs, Food Editor, Taste.

  • 250g butter, softened1 cup caster sugar1 tsp vanilla extract3 eggs2 cups (300g) self-raising flour1/2 cup milk
Before starting, make sure all ingredients – eggs, milk and butter – are at room temperature. Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line the base of two 20cm round cake pans.
Use an electric mixer to beat the butter, sugar and vanilla in a bowl until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add the flour and milk, alternating, in batches, until just combined. Divide mixture evenly among the prepared pans and use the back of a spoon or small palate knife to smooth the surface. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centres comes out clean.
Remove from oven and cool in pan for about five minutes before turning on to a wire rack to cool completely. Place one cake on a serving platter. Spread with icing and jam, if desired. Top with remaining cake and decorate with more icing and icing flowers.

There is not long now until this little one arrives, I get my body back and our family transforms once again. I welcome it with open arms!
      Breathe in.
        Breathe out.
          Heart full.


            Tuesday, September 03, 2013

            Happy Father's Day

            Monday, September 02, 2013

            Can you believe it?

            Friday, August 30, 2013

            Nope, me neither.


            Thursday, August 29, 2013

            One of the benefits of living in a construction zone is that there are always materials available when you need a bit of this and a bit of that to get something done. Like this morning when I was able to fashion a footstool out of a breeze block that was lying around. It's amazing what you can do with some laminated fabric, some batting and a hot glue gun. 

            Hopefully, this will help JW sit still in class. She's very wriggly and isn't getting her work finished so the teachers have been a little worried about it. We've had a reward chart going this term but those gold stars just aren't enough motivation so she's booked in for an evaluation with a children's occupational therapist. That's going to cost $385 plus $95 for a written report which makes me think that I took the wrong course of study at university. She's perfectly capable of sitting still at home so I suspect that the things her teachers are concerned about (I blame Google) aren't an issue and that it is just indicative of JW's self-assuredness. She rarely seeks out affirmation (which is a good thing) so finding ways to encourage her can be more difficult than with some of the other little duyvkens (e.g. J will do anything for a pat on the back) but when she makes up her mind about something she is very determined. Hopefully, seeing mum and dad called in for a meeting with her teachers will make her realise that now would be a good time to start sitting still :-) Thankfully, she is a bright little thing so she hasn't fallen behind in class.
            There are lots of physio aids out there for wriggly kids but they all seem to cost a small fortune and until we've had the OT evaluation we won't really know what she needs. Making this little footstool as an interim measure seemed more sensible than spending $90 on one that she may not end up needing. I've got my fingers crossed that this helps her get into a more comfortable position on her chair and that her teachers see some improvement.

            C's Scooter Quilt

            Friday, August 23, 2013

            She has been sleeping soundly underneath this quilt for a while now but I hadn't given it a blog post all of it's own so here are some photos to bring the quilting record up to date.
            Made with lovely organic fabrics from monaluna and linen, backed with pale pink minkee and bound in my favourite stripes.
            Fais de beaux reves ma belle.

            On G's Desk

            Thursday, August 22, 2013

            Ingenious. I can't quite believe that she's nearly 13. Her birthday party is this Sunday afternoon and her official birthday is next week. Perhaps not surprising after seeing creations like this, she has asked for art supplies as her gift.

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