You are

I can't believe there was once a time when I would sit here and write where you didn't yet exist in our world!
You are all things good my girl.
I love the way you violently kiss me. I love the way you check people out. The way your legs hang out the side of the pram and you lean back and assess the world. The most common thing people say to you (whilst doing previously mentioned pram hang) "well aren't you just looking relaxed there". I love your strength - your literal muscular strength! You're the best climber I've ever seen for 8 months old. Your curiosity. The way you look under every dining chair, looking for the tiny stickers to peel off. The way you pop your lip when you're making a decision. The very loud noises you make. The giggle you get when Dad tries to eat you, tickle you or chases you, it comes from deep in your belly and I don't think I am ever so aware of what happiness feels like than when I hear you two laughing together. The way you play with your fingers, flicking every one against your thumb making shapes and signs whilst you feed or think or concentrate. I love that people love you. I can't tell you how many times I've heard people say they're not usually a 'baby person' but you, you're different. I don't feel like you're a baby, you never have been. You're my best friend. And we can't even converse in sentences yet! I love when you smile so hard you show all your gums and breathe in backwards to make a big happy gasp.  I love loving you. With every challenging hour or day or week we go through, the reward of having you, more you, a more developed aware, bigger, expressive you at the other end wipes the slate clean. I love giving you everything I've got. I empty myself into you most days and it comes back to me 10 fold.
I love that we got through 6 months of not much sleep together. I love your soft skin. The curls in your hair when you're sweaty or just come out of the ocean or bath. You love the ocean! It makes me proud. I strip you off and let you crawl nudie rudie on the sand until Dad or I pick you up and make our way through the waves with you in our arms. I love how you have no fear. You dive head first off the bed, or lounge or any raised surface with no awareness or care of consequence, because we're always right there watching...making sure all ends well. You bump your head and knock yourself all the time in your climbing missions - but all it takes is a reassuring "you're ok" and you are ok and get on with it. You're not a whinger. You're such a happy girl. You have an amazing sense of humour. I love watching you play. You really love the guitar. And music. We think you might be musical one day. You love being on my hip as I hold your arm out and dance and I sing "daa da da di da", it makes you very happy. You love spinning around with me and making us both dizzy. The laughing squeal this brings on is the best. I love how you're so active yet so content. I love your independence yet your warmth and affection.
I could go on for days about all the things you are - but you're currently taking a nap and I think I need one myself.
I love all of you my darling. You are my good thing.

A letter

To my baby,
I want to tell you a little about out about life before we have seen each other face to face, even though I know you have been with my with for the last 9 months.
Carrying you has been a joy. A treat, a delight. The things I do in the everyday feel that extra bit special whilst you are with me. When I walk down to the ocean and sit and stare I feel like I'm doing it for not just me but for us. When we sit alone at the cafe and take too long to drink a pot of tea and read a few pages of the paper and have avo toast. These quiet moments make me feel deeply content in the simplest way. When I swim slowly through the ocean I always think of you and wonder whether you can tell I'm swimming...whether you can detect my heart slowing as I take deep breaths and move calmly through the water - how much I love it and am trying to soak in and remember the feelings, the time, the place we are in.
There was one particular afternoon at Oak I remember. Despite having an ocean pool literally on our doorstep I knew I wanted to drive around to get to this spot. I'm so glad I did. I can still clearly see the last rays of sun sparkle through as I looked up and out from under the water. It was magical glitteryness and I was thinking of you, drinking it in barely comprehending how good life is! Then the other day at South - I was hesitant to get in as there was the slightest Autumn chill, but once I did I couldn't stop dipping under ..."one last time" I kept thinking. I kind of hate thinking of the last of things with you so close to me! For a second it feels almost tinged with sadness. But that's too nostalgic, we have a lifetime to swim together baby girl!
Then there's your Dad. He is my favourite thing on this earth, I adore him. We tell each other these things every day. I trust him and love him with everything I have within me and am so excited for us to grow together - you and the brothers and sisters we will hopefully give you. I often rest my tummy on him as we fall asleep together and he can feel you moving around. He thinks of you, prays for you and has cried with joy. He dreamt of you vividly the other night and when he woke up from the dream he was in a happy sleepy daze and so content he told me 5 times over how beautiful your smile was, he said it was just like mine.
I sense you having a strong spirit, a girl who deeply understands who she is...who isn't afraid to stand alone and be herself. I see you as a girl, then a woman, who lives out of freedom. Someone had a vision of you with flowers in your hair, I saw this in a field. You were alone but never lonely. You will always have people wanting to follow your path and you are so sure of your direction that it is no problem to have them follow. In fact it is a blessing as you are heading the right way, leading the others. You know your creator deeply and easily and you follow him with absolute freedom.
Back to you as my baby.
I have loved feeling your pointy little elbows and feet in my tummy. You roll and kick a lot but you have never once hurt me! My body has embraced you, I haven't been sick or uncomfortable - but I did take a lot of naps in the first months. It was amazing how work slowed down and allowed this to happen without a stress. I'd get on that couch right under the window that got the afternoon sun and sleep for as long as I felt like. What a luxury.
Gods blessing is ripe and rich in your life already.
You have been fiercely protected. We had a car accident in America on our way to the lake and it does sometimes make my heart race a little when I think of it. I can see how much God desires you on this earth. "From my mothers womb, you have chosen me...". Nothing but angels and His mighty hand held back that windscreen from touching us in that crash. The space that was protected was shaped perfectly for a mother holding a child! I didn't even have a single scratch below my chest. We went to the hospital to get checked but being in a small town meant that we couldn't get an ultrasound to check on you until the following day. There was a deep peace though that you were ok, and that night as we laid down to go to sleep I felt you move and we cried and cried. "No trauma for our girl" we prayed. We held each other and really got a sense of what was most important in life.
You've come on lots of jobs with me. Lately I've been working on some travel guides making trails all over Sydney. We've eaten some of the most amazing food (and wine...and maybe a spritz or two) this city has to offer. You never made it hard for me. I was proud how easily it was to continue to work in this job that I love right up until last week. Dad helped out at the end here. We could have managed on our own I guess - but when I love his company more than anything it is the perfect excuse to see and try new things together.
I had the feeling you'd come early, but today is your 'due date' and you're still feeling pretty comfy in there so my feelings were off!! I am happy to keep pottering around with you until you're ready girly girl but wow we are so excited to hold you. There is already so much love for you. I have people checking in most hours of the day, the anticipation of your arrival is pretty amazing.
You have a beautiful home to start life in. It's right by the ocean and we have been preparing it slowly but surely to see that it runs as smoothly as possible. You're gonna love it here.
Peace and glory are all over you my girl, I am so grateful.
Please come soon. Like today. or tomorrow. or the next.
I know I'll love you forever no matter what

Photos: Trish Chong of Tealily Photography at 36 weeks @ home in Cronulla. 
Thank you beautiful lady, I truly couldn't have planned or imagined a better, easier time hanging out at home with someone having photos my undies at sunrise no less. You are so mightily talented with the camera in your hands and have a true gift that goes far beyond the photos you take...I'll treasure these.

Back down the mountain

To be in a place where there is a fireplace and a bath and Aesop toileteries to soak in, a well equipped kitchen with a gas stove and Pana chocolate in the fridge, cosy robes in the wardrobe and a real heavy (IN BED linen) doona to sleep under. At first I wasn't sure what to do with it all. Do I sit, lay down, go for a walk, cook, listen to music, wander aimlessly around the cottage exploring all the treasures, take another bath, stand in front of the fire staring at Tim whilst he also tries to find his way of slowing down? I finally settled for a healthy combination of all of the above, felt my body start to unwind and then before I knew it was sadly pulling the door shut behind me as we set out for that familiar drive home through Berry mountain and back up the highway.

Thank you dear Lisa. I don't know how you do it but The Cottage is everything you ever dreamed it to be...and more. A place of rest and a treat for all the senses. xxx

I highly recommend booking a couple of nights here to see what you find for yourself!

Photos: Rachel Kara at The Cottage Kangaroo Valley Canon EOS 1V with Kodak Porta developed and scanned at Vision Image Lab

PS. This has accidently turned to a blog dedicated to South Coast NSW holidays. Sorry about that. I'll change the pace next post.

The Valley

To have friends to sit in a squished up car with, who make the detour for better coffee, who's group texts come through by the dozen and make me snortlaugh, who will meet to plan menus for a 48 hour getaway with the understanding that every meal will be an event in and of itself, who go out and dive for fresh lobster whilst the ocean is still close, who will get muddy riding BMX's, climb trees, pick fruit, go canoeing, swim in our underwear, skip stones and look for fish. These are the kind of friends I have! Who understand that cameras are part of the fun, who know when to look into the light or ignore me completely, who dance on the table, up the wall and on the floor. Who don't think it's funny to bring your own kettle, grinder and beans or butter & salt. The kind of friends you can go away with on a Wednesday night. Who notice the way the sun moves and are happy to take solo expeditions and return full of stories and energy to give & share. What a magical time we had.

Photos: Rachel Kara in Kangaroo Valley with a Canon 1V, processed and scanned at Richard Photo Lab