My Little Sunset Post

My Little Sunshine House has been a bit vacant these last few months. I dropped in occasionally earlier in the year, to straighten things out and brush off the cobwebs. People around the world are still visiting, to learn how to knot a DIY macrame, or to read an interview with a children’s author, or something.

But lately, I’ve been spending my time over in the new, slightly more spangly house, which is a place I designed and made all by myself, and I guess more tidily reflects where I am at the moment, in a professional and personal space.

See, for years, I was waking up in the morning with posts for My Little Sunshine House, or one of its predecessors, fully formed. Blog ideas would rattle me for attention throughout the day. There seemed endless material to blog about. Until there wasn’t.

This has been the first year I can call myself a professional children’s author. The majority of my annual income has been derived from children’s book royalties, or related activities, like running workshops, mentoring and school visits. It’s supplemented by writing blog posts for other people, and writing copy for people’s websites.

So it makes sense that my unconscious and conscious mind is not tapping into My Little Sunshine House material. Truth is, 9 out of 10 times, if you were to scan my brain, you would find me obsessively turning over book ideas, or thinking about something story related. It’s a little hazardous at times, and I think other brain faculties are beginning to fail as a result. My memory, for instance, which has always been a bit on the basic side, is pretty decrepit these days. Maybe I should be spending at least 2 out of 10 times doing brain gymnastics, or something useful.

My Little Sunshine House has been a lovely meander for the last seven or so years. I was never one to sit down and strategically jot down a direction. So I never marched straight, but more wandered off the track. Once on a new and exciting path, I jogged it, and took everything in with passion. I am like that. Easily distracted yet passionate about new adventures. So My Little Sunshine House archives are an eclectic bunch of misfits, and you might wonder what some posts have in common, if anything.

Still, this blog has been instrumental for where I am now. It got me writing. It grew me a community. It allowed me to explore so many creative paths and channels, and meet so many other creative and inspiring individuals. It introduced me to a publisher. I am grateful for all of it. I still teach blogging occasionally, and write blogs for other people. And I still blog over at my author site. But the blog posts have more focus. They are for writers, and readers, and publishing news.

When I started blogging, I thought I was doing something original, writing about my experiences as a mum. Turned out, there were millions of others doing the same or similar things. And it was like a warm embrace, tapping into that community.

But now I can’t really write those personal stories in the same way, with the same candour. It doesn’t suit our family any more. I am sharing trade secrets, which aren’t mine to share. I am creating digital content about people, and maybe in ten years, those people will resent me for being an over-sharer. And if I can’t be candid and vulnerable, then what’s the point?

I can print off those beautiful travel photos, and keep them in a book. If I wanted to, I could journal those beautiful experiences. I have exported all the stories from this blog as a text document, which I emailed to myself, and I know there are such valuable moments in there. Re-reading old blog posts draws me back into that moment, which I wouldn’t have remembered on account of failing memory [see above].

Thank you for meandering with me on this journey. And please do come and visit me at my new abode, if you haven’t already. You can sign up for my newsletter for updates.

It’s not a good-bye, kind regards, or sayonara. It’s a sunset post. A sinking of the sun, and like The Little Prince, who gets to enjoy forty-three sunsets a day because his planet is so small, and he likes sunsets, I will keep writing, and we will stay friends regardless of where we find each other.

REVISION: I have just found out, since writing this post, that the reason the post kept disappearing is because my hosting expired! The serendipity. So this post and the rest of the website will probably be around for about a week, until disappearing altogether! I hadn’t intended that. Oh, now I am a bit sad.

Island home

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We nearly missed the boat.

We were having our last happy hour beer before the 4.30 ferry. The wharf was suspiciously quiet.

‘I am just going to check,’ I said to the others.

The receptionist looked surprised when I asked if the 4.30 was still happening.

‘Ummmm…. Let me check with the manager,’ she said.

The manager ummmed too. No. No 4.30 ferry on Mondays. Damn. It was spend another expensive night on the island, or think of some other cunning plan.

Thankfully, Queenslanders are lovely, helpful people {those who work at island resorts at least}, and the manager organised for the little sunshine family to travel back to mainland on the staff boat. He would give my husband a lift to our car, and lead him back to the wharf, where we would be waiting. What a kind man.

We spent the weekend on South Stradbroke Island. It was a surprise destination for Gregor, my husband for his 40th. I thought an island would be a pretty exciting and unlikely place to go for the little sunshine family.

Turned out, despite the rain all weekend, it was perfect.

We stayed in a little eco lodge for next to nothing, because it’s winter, and who needs all that beach, and all those water activities in winter? Winter didn’t matter to us – nor did the rain. The sunshine family doesn’t need much to have a good time.

Just each other. Stories. Wandering around in nature.

‘I didn’t wah once all weekend,’ pipped my self-observant five-year-old at the end of the weekend. She was right. No telly. No place to go, or have to be. Just time to meander and play. Endless attention from relaxed parents. What self-respecting person would wah under these conditions?

‘Are we going back to our real home now?’ asked my littlest, when we finally made it back to mainland. ‘Not our holiday home?’

‘Yes, my sweetie. Our real home.’

Even though the resort at Straddie is a bit shabby and falling down in places, the people are friendly and the nature is beautiful – you can’t fault an island that is still 70% in its original state.

Have you been to South Stradbroke? Ever called an island home? 

Linking with Essentially Jess

Sunshine dancers

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Here I am again. On the computer.

I love my work, and am lucky I get to work from home. I sit in my little office, while the world happens around me. I work hard, and fast, and am rewarded by a sense of achievement.

For me, it’s the perfect balance between motherhood and productivity. But…

The computer can be draining. It sucks my energy. Describing it to friends the other night over vino and wood-fired pizza – it bleeds my maternal energy. After a day tap-tapping and staring at a bright screen, I feel all brittle, like driftwood. I miss my sap.

Gregor worked most of the weekend, and as much as we like having him around, I have to confess I was liking the time I had to dwell with my girls and get re-sapped.

We lay on the grass in the late afternoon sun, while the sun did great things with the sprinkler.

Elfie and I sewed together.

We chatted. Made up stories. Did some cooking.

The next morning, we pottered some more. Danced. Ate together.

I liked the simplicity of our days, and the feeling of soaking it all up. It didn’t take much to feel all motherly, and earthy, loved-up and connected.

Do you know what I mean? Do you get this too?

For more tales from the sunshine house, visit me over at Facebook. You can also sign up for my monthly newsletter, where I occasionally run giveaways for subscribers, and update you with the latest sunshine news.

Linking with Essentially Jess for IBOT

Wishing you a joyous Christmas

I can’t help but get excited on Christmas Eve. Feelings from my childhood swamp me, and I get all giddy.

As a kid, we did Christmas the Australian way…woke up early on Christmas morning, jumped on Mum and Dad’s bed to wake the up, opened presents…

Now that I am married with children on our own, we are forging our own traditions. Gregor is Austrian/Dutch, so we now celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve. In the evening, we (the Christmas Fairy) set up the tree, decorate it and lay out presents while the children hide. My daughter is busting with excitement, so great is her desire to have a Christmas tree.

We drink champagne and listen to carols as we open presents.

Tomorrow morning, we go to my mum’s place for brunch, and in the evening to my uncle’s place in Evans Head for Christmas dinner. My extended family’s tradition is to eat pudding and sing “We Wish You A Merry Christmas”. My brother organises a Christmas concert, and last year, most of the adults performed.

Whatever you are doing today, or tomorrow…I wish you love, joy and magic, as you spend time with your family and loved ones.

Zanni xx

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The most useful item in my house is…

most useful household item - terry-towelling nappies

The terry-towelling nappy.

Oh yes. Purchasing two-dozen of them for about $6 before my first child was born was the single best investment I made.

They were fairly hopeless as a nappy – too bulky for little legs, too wet, too many sharp pins involved… But as a household item, they have many uses.

I use them to soak up “accidents”.

I use them to mop up spills.

I use them, with vinegar, to clean windows and mirrors.

I use them, with lavender oil and vinegar, to wipe down the bathroom sink.

I used them under both my babies when they were on the change table so they could have some nappy-free time.

And when I am done, I just chuck them in the wash, and line-dry them in the sun.

I have a stack of them – the original two-dozen – within handy reach in the linen cupboard. Seriously useful.

What’s the most useful item in your house?

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