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Can’t wait to see you over there!


Annie x

31/52 {noticing differences}


“Mum,” Charlie started, “when Nicholas has his next birthday and turns four, he’ll be talking like me.”

Statements like these always catch me a little off guard. Because it means that they’ve noticed differences between themselves and the little brother they adore. Because one day we won’t be in our safe little Love cocoon and other kids will notice differences too.

“Well,” I responded, “he might be. But you know how Nicholas has Down syndrome? Sometimes kids with Down syndrome take a little longer to talk.”

“Oh, okay,” he said, and in the next instant he was chatting about something else.

Days later, I heard Charlie in Nicholas’ room early in the morning, giving his own version of speech therapy and asking Nicholas to repeat various words. After Nicholas attempting quite a number of words successfully, Charlie ran into my room and announced excitedly, “Mum! He does know lots of words!”

After babbling from very early on and saying “hello” quite clearly at 12 months, I had optimistic visions of Nicholas’ language progressing similarly to his typical peers. Like his other milestones, I expected it may be a little slower than typical children, but would increase incrementally in a similar fashion to his older brothers. That certainly hasn’t been the case. At three, I can’t imagine many people other than his immediate family could interpret his words and he is far from speaking in sentences. He does do key word sign (actually, he even makes them up occasionally ;) but he prefers verbal communication.

However, ever the optimist, I am still encouraged by his progress, even if his timeline is a different to what I anticipated. His receptive language (his understanding) has been very good from quite a young age, and he is definitely attempting more new words and sounds lately. I always leave our speech therapy appointments feeling uplifted, as our ST points out various things that Nicholas is doing that are apparently great signs for speech development (like doing pretend play, saying new words that show improved tone in his facial muscles, etc). Our littlest Love may not be conversing like your average three year old, but he sure is good at getting his point across. And, just quietly, the other two can talk under water so there are some benefits to the third not being quite so verbose just yet ;)

Charlie was our photographer for some of the shots this week, capturing Mummalove on the other side of the camera for a change. We love the way Nicholas looks at the camera when Charlie’s behind it – a look reserved only for adored older brothers.

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nicholas: Charlie took your photo this week. Daddy loves it, because you aren’t giving the big cheesy smile like you often give Daddy or I when we’re taking the photos. You are looking at the camera the way you look at your beloved Charlie, soul to soul. Have I mentioned lately how much we love hanging out with you? You really do rock, and you impress us every day.


charlie: You love the feel of my soft scarf, holding it against your face or wrapping it around your neck. “It’s so cosy,” you told me. I think it looks quite glamorous on you, especially with your ruby lips from the winter wind. I cherished spending a morning in your classroom this week, doing group work rotations and sharing in your class liturgy. Being a bit sniffly, you appreciated the extra snuggles during your school day too, I think.

Joining in the 52 Project at Practising Simplicity ~ a portrait of my youngest boys every week in 2015.


30/52 {the house of chaos}


Our ‘renovators delight’ Queenslander home has been the recipient of some love lately. After being in our house for six years and doing a few minor improvements here and there, we recently underwent some more significant renovations, in what we’re calling ‘phase one’ – knocking down a wall between the lounge and dining room, moving internal stairs and installing a new kitchen.

It’s been a great learning curve for us. With the guidance of my brother David’s wonderful building team at Jackbuilt*, we have undergone the process of choosing taps and appliances, deciding where powerpoints will go and what type of bench tops we’ll have. And there have been plenty of times we have let the builders make decisions on our behalf, in situations where we weren’t particularly passionate about the outcome and knowing that they are great at making calls in our best interests. Along with his polite and friendly team, and a web-based program/app we could use to communicate with the tradies and keep track of the project, David made the whole process pretty easy and low-stress for us.

We spent the first two weeks of the building project away from the house on holidays, but the remaining two weeks the house was safe to return to, even if the project wasn’t complete. But even with great builders, living with the noise and dust and chaos of a building site isn’t ideal. Nicholas would leap into my arms at the sound of any particularly loud noise, and he certainly wasn’t napping on the days builders were present. We have piles and piles of displaced items still needing to be cleaned, sorted and re-homed, but without the project being completely finished and a layer of dust on everything downstairs, it’s been hard to find the time or motivation to clear the chaos. And with a level of household chaos, everyone in our house is a little extra crazy.

But I know things will settle down, the chaos will be cleared and we’ll be less crazy before long. Already, the more open-plan living area has made a massive difference to how we live at home, and I’m loving being able to do things such as watch the boys do a project at our dining table while I’m cooking dinner. The walk-in pantry and updated appliances in a much more functional kitchen are already making life easier. I know that the short term pain of living through a renovation will mean significant lifestyle benefits, and we’re looking forward to finishing off phase one with internal painting and polishing floorboards over the next school holidays.

More photos to come when I’ve cleared a little more of the chaos ;)

*I know that I’m probably biased because he’s my brother and I really like him, but even so, they really were great.


The ‘before’ shot of our kitchen, prior to the renovation. I wonder if we’ll miss our retro vinyl floors.


Ta-da! Quick shot of the new kitchen while it’s momentarily clean.


nicholas: When a new friend in the Down syndrome community visited Brisbane, it was a good excuse for us to wander in to South Brisbane and visit GOMA and the State Library for a Saturday morning catchup. You loved pushing pushing the rods into the holes to create your very own constellation of stars at the Swags and Swamp Rats exhibition in the kids area of GOMA. 
Mummalove-52-30-6Mummalove-52-30-4charlie: Since receiving your last Transformer toy, you have been carrying around and sleeping with the Transformer catalogue until the pages have fallen out, worn and tattered. You had your heart set on ‘Strafe’ becoming your very own and counted down the days until you could go out on your special ‘Charlie day’ with Grandma and Grandpa, when you would be able to buy this creature. And now, here he is. You are so lucky.

Joining in the 52 Project at Practising Simplicity ~ a portrait of my youngest boys every week in 2015.


29/52 {cousin love and cardboard creations}

Mummalove_29-4nicholas: Oh how you love her, your other ‘blondie’. Of course, you love all your cousins in different ways, but you’ll excitedly pick her face out from a big family photo to show me and your face lights up whenever she walks in the door. The kids were so filthy after drawing with chalk on the trampoline, but you all had extra twinkles in your eyes after being together for the afternoon. We were so delighted she came to visit. 

Mummalove_29-3charlie: Our delivery of food from the co-op was gratefully received and items put away in the new pantry, and it didn’t take long for you to turn one of the boxes into a robot. Each part was carefully considered and drawn and cut out, with Daddy’s help. After talking about it at school, you informed me that your teacher said you “must” take it in to show everyone, so we lugged that box in to show all the kids. I love your creations.

Joining in the 52 Project at Practising Simplicity ~ a portrait of my youngest boys every week in 2015.


28/52 {more than meets the eye}

As the primary carers, we see so many aspects of our children’s personalities – sometimes all in a matter of minutes. There are highs and lows, extroverted and introverted moments. We see them at their best and at their worst.

During the week, the song “Hold My Hand” came on over the speaker at home and I saw Charlie’s hips began to wiggle. Pretty soon there was a full dance routine being performed in the kitchen. This child, full of spark and imagination, is often rendered mute when we arrive in unfamiliar social settings and yet can talk under water when he’s at home. There is so much more to my middle child than meets the eye.

There is so much more to all of us than meets the eye.

But how often do we make a judgement call about someone – about the child you see having a tantrum in the shopping centre, or the parent raising her voice – without knowing the whole picture, the whole person?

As a parent of three very remarkable humans, I hope they are each given the chance to shine. I hope the people they encounter remember that everyone has good moments and bad moments, that there is more to them than just almond shaped eyes or an inability to speak in public or being loud in inappropriate moments.

I hope they see the beauty I see.


nicholas: That golden glow on your glowing face, as you waved us goodbye and headed off to find some mischief. “Wait for mum,” I instructed, only to be told “No” (your favourite word at the moment, but said in such a ridiculously cute way that I can’t help but smile) as you gave your signature wave and started walking away. Later, you were mesmerised by the big boys lighting the campfire, resting your head on the chair as you watched them. And those little toes. Oh my.

Mummalove_28-3 Mummalove_29-1charlie: You have recently decided that buttered muffins or crumpets, accompanied by your daily vitamin,s are the only acceptable items on the breakfast menu. I wonder what the next breakfast phase will be. You love snuggling into your Daddy for stories, but I did giggle hearing Daddy reading a Minecraft instruction manual, your book of choice, in soothing tones. 

Joining in the 52 Project at Practising Simplicity ~ a portrait of my youngest boys every week in 2015.


27/52 {winter holidays with Gram}


Being at the beach in winter reminds me of my Grandma, who we affectionately called ‘Gram.’

My Dad’s mother came to stay with our family when her husband died and, at the time, my parents had four children under seven years old. It was a short term arrangement until Gram was ready to go back to her own home again. But she never did return to her own home. She lived with us and our big chaotic family until she died at home just before my 18th birthday, 26 years after she’d first moved in. Oh how we loved her.

Living with nine people under a relatively small roof must have been an exercise in patience for Gram some days. Around the middle of the year, Gram would go and have a holiday at her little beach house on Bribie Island. No doubt she deserved a couple of weeks of peace and serenity. Trouble is, I found it difficult to let her go, so I’d convince Mum and Gram to let me accompany her for a week.

I loved my holidays with Gram at Bribie. We would sit quietly and do crosswords, or go and visit Mrs Brown next door for a cup of tea. A trip to the local shops for supplies always meant stopping by the little island gift store to see what treasures I could purchase with my pocket money. (When my eldest sister and her fiancee became engaged, I bought Jen a pair of plastic ‘ruby’ earrings and Neil received a jumbo Bribie Island pencil. There were quality treasures in this store ;) 

Gram and I took long walks along the beach, breathing in the sea air and finding shells, soldier crabs and other gems on our journey. When our dog, Mindy, was allowed off the leash, she would race madly up and down the beach, and around in circles, relishing in the new found freedom. It was too cold for swimming, but a trip to the beach was never wasted.

Now, if I’m on the beach at winter time, breathing in that chilly sea breeze, I can’t help but think of my Gram and our cherished time alone together.



nicholas: On this holiday, you have demonstrated a very particular love of tennis. When we arrived at our friends’ party and had to walk through the tennis court to access the gathering, you had no interest in going any further. You had found a racquet and a ball and you were happy. There were also daily trips to the tennis courts when we stayed at the farm. Do we have a tennis pro in our midst?


charlie: You had such a great time at the party, rugged up in your flanno and beanie and indulging in the delicious lumberjack themed cupcakes. I laughed at how many times you and Nicholas dragged me into the photo booth, picking out the headdress we should wear in the photos. 

Joining in the 52 Project at Practising Simplicity ~ a portrait of my youngest boys every week in 2015.


In our neck of the woods {our three favourite family-friendly things to do to wind down in South East Queensland}


With our fast-paced lifestyle, trying to juggle the demands of a young family, a business and everything in between, it has become so important for us to regularly take time out and reconnect as a family. We’re happy to leave adventurous holidays to the adventurers and take our little family to spots where we can switch off, slow down, breathe and choose serenity, whether it be for a few hours or a few days.

As part of the Kidspot Voices of 2015, I’ve been invited to share three of our favourite family-friendly things to do in our neck of the woods. So, without further ado, we’ll share our little secrets with you ~ here is the Love-family-approved list of our favourite holiday escapes in South East Queensland.

1. Have a picnic beside a rocky creek bed at Cedar Creek

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After a busy working week, there’s nothing nicer than escaping along the road less travelled and enjoying some time out. Have a free day in the calendar? Leave the screens behind, pack up a picnic and your family and take a day trip to one of the remote rocky creek beds not far from Samford.

Point your car towards the beautiful Samford Village. Drop into Ironbark Superfoods for some deliciously healthy treats or maybe grab some parent-fuel in the form of takeaway coffees from The Flying Nun or the spunky Ya Ya Bar while the kids run off some energy at the playground, just off Main Street. If you have time, the Urban Dweller is a must-visit for beautiful gifts, homewares and inspiration, but Samford Village is a treasure trove of little shops to explore.

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When you’re ready for your next destination, drive along Mount Samson Road and turn left onto Cedar Creek Road. Approximately four kilometres along on the left, you will discover Andy Williams Park and a world of serenity. While it might be a little chilly for swimming during Winter, the creek bed is a picturesque spot for climbing and exploring in, or perhaps just sit back, relax and observe the wildlife. You never know what you might find out when you chat to a kookaburra. Bring a change of clothes, just in case the weather lures you to have dip in the rockpools. Perhaps your children will even let you be still, soak in some sunshine and read the paper for a minute or three while they play ;)


2. Make sandcastles at Moffat Beach


Packing up a young family for a holiday stay can be rather arduous (read: totally painful), but when you arrive at the coast and take in a deep breath of sea air and sink your feet into the sand? Oh, so totally worth it.

In Queensland, we are lucky enough to have a pretty balmy climate so, although it’s a little chillier than usual, we can still hit the beach in Winter. One of our favourite beach spots is Moffat Beach at Caloundra, on the Sunshine coast of Queensland, about an hour north of Brisbane. Moffat is one of Queensland’s many magnificent beaches, and perhaps one of Caloundra’s quieter spots, so perfect for this crowd-avoiding family.

Complete with rock pools to discover at lower tides, Moffat is a great spot for kid-explorations and, when the waves get a little too ferocious for the little ones, there is a creek area a short walk away where they can wade in the calm water. Our big boys love to do a spot of fishing in the creek (one day we even hooked a crab!) and, in summer, they can ride their boogie boards down the creek with the tide. Without the big crowds, it feels like our own little slice of paradise.

DSC_8134DSC_8201When everyone has had enough of the sand, there are two playgrounds, barbecues and a big grassy areas just beside the beach. A strip of delightful cafes and little shops nearby will help keep mum and dad sustained (we love our daily coffees from Pocket Espresso, and Blackwater Trading Co. does a fabulous breakfast). If you need any grocery supplies, a convenience store and bakery are only a ten minute walk away.

Moffat Beach would certainly be perfect for a daytrip to the beach, as it’s not very far from Brisbane, but we generally stay at The Norfolks at Moffat Beach. The accommodation is great for our family, with access to a heated pool, enough room for all of us to co-exist comfortably, living area away from the bedrooms, elevator access to higher levels (handy for prams), kitchen for self-catering, beautiful views and close to all the main things a family with young children needs on holiday (did we mention coffee?). In fact, we often don’t use our car during our stay – which is our definition of a true holiday! For those who feel like more activity, there’s a nice walk with glorious views along the coastline around to Kings Beach.

DSC_8080   DSC_8088While Ben and I aren’t convinced that holidaying with small children is ever very relaxing, our holidays at Moffat Beach do come close, which is why we keep going back year after year. It’s a great location for families with younger children, because the beach, playgrounds, big grassy patches and coffee for sleep-deprived parents are all available within walking distance, but there’s plenty to keep the older children busy too. And, if you’re looking for a few more activities, Caloundra has lots on offer within a short drive.

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3. Feed farm animals and toast marshmallows at Maleny

DSC_8310We do love being able to hang out at the beach during Winter, but there’s nothing quite like rugging up and toasting marshmallows by a campfire in the chilly months. For the past few years, we have been visiting Solothurn Rural Resort each winter for a farmstay weekend. It’s in Reesville, which is very close to the township of Maleny, and just over an hour north of Brisbane.

DSC_8374 DSC_8271A day on the farm officially begins at 7.30am with milking the cow and feeding animals on the farm with the farm’s delightful hosts Farmer Richard and Farmer Anna, often ably assisted by one of their children and accompanied by the farm dogs. All the visiting children are offered the opportunity to try milking the cow, then we walk around the farm to feed goats, pigs, chickens, sheep, ducks and even emus! Sometimes the chickens are kind enough to offer up eggs for the kids to take home to cook for breakfast (just don’t let your child carry it in their beanie like ours did, and end up with scrambled egg ala beanie!). At 10am, we all load onto the tractor for the daily 45-minute ride around the farm to feed the cows. On school holidays, they run an extra tractor ride so no one misses out.

For the remainder of the day, there is plenty to do to fill in time in the country air. For tennis fans (like Nicholas!), a tennis court, racquets and balls are available, or you can have a soccer match on a big grassy field. Charlie likes to hang out in the cubby house with million dollar views, but if that doesn’t tickle your fancy, there is a set of swings, a games room with billiards and table tennis, and even an indoor pool (but not in winter… brrrr). The children are welcome to run about and explore, and they can visit the animal enclosures at any time throughout the day, as long as they promise not to chase the chickens.

DSC_8325 DSC_8292There is an amazing golden light that glows over the property in the afternoon, so we like to soak in some rays while sipping on a glass of wine and enjoying some cheese and crackers. The boys love helping Ben setup the campfire outside the cabin, as well as the fireplace inside the loungeroom to keep us toasty overnight.

The accommodation at Solothurn is basic, but clean and comfortable, and there is a simple kitchen and necessary utensils available in the self-contained cabins. We tend to either bring along some pre-frozen dinners, such as bolognaise, or make simple meals while we’re here. There is a barbecue available, but it’s a fair distance from the cabins we tend to stay in, especially in winter.

DSC_8217If you need marshmallow supplies or just want a change of scenery, the township of Maleny is only a ten-minute drive away from the farm. There is a plethora of beautiful little shops to explore along the main street, and places to sit for coffee or a meal. Pick up groceries at the well-stocked and friendly IGA, stop by Colin James and try their amazing gelato, or soak in that bookstore atmosphere at Rosetta Books. There is even a playground for the kids to enjoy and run off some energy.


We have loved watching Charlie and Sam, at 5 and 7 years old, be more independent during their stay at Solothurn this year, wandering off to explore and chat to the other kids staying at the farm. It has been slightly trickier with an ever-more-mobile, but fiercely independent Nicholas who needs significant supervision, but it’s always heart warming to see his leaps in development in new environments. This week has been a great opportunity to switch off the screens, reconnect as a family over board games and doing actual dishes together, and soak in some serenity. The views from the farm are simply breathtaking and there is a level of quiet (well, aside from the noisy kids) that just can’t be reached living in the city.

Going away with a young family always takes a mammoth effort. When considering the task of packing up a mountain of gear, preparing for every eventuality, managing kids and their different sleep patterns in a new location, and then tackling all the loads of washing on our return, we sometimes wonder whether it’s more effort than it’s worth. But the truth is that taking time away with our little family to breathe, reconnect and create childhood memories is so worth it. It’s worth it to watch the fun had between brothers, to see them face challenges and learn new things about themselves and each other. We don’t need to go far to achieve it, but it’s so important to schedule in those mini breaks, for the sake of our sanity and our family relationships.

What are your favourite spots to visit in your neck of the woods?