Today I would like to kick off a new, monthly series here at Childhood 101 by introducing a photographer, blogger and mama I admire greatly, Rachel Devine. On her blog, Sesame Ellis, Rachel captures moments of family life in such a special way that you can’t help but notice that even the everyday and routine are made uniquely beautiful.
Thank you for sharing, Rachel.
Could you please introduce us to your family and tell us a little about your home?
Alec and I have been married for 9 and a bit years. We have Gemma (8 & 1/2) and the twins, Clover and Kieran, who are nearly 5. Our family also includes one gorgeous, but indifferent cat, Kiki, and an absolutely adorable rescue chihuahua mixed mutt called Chilli. We moved to Melbourne from Los Angeles in 2008. We bought our house after falling in love with photos of it on the internet and sending Alec’s parents to bid on it for us at the auction. Luckily when we saw it in real life for the first time, it was what we had hoped. The family area includes the kitchen, dining and lounge in an open plan with huge windows that look out into the backyard. My office is at the front of the house and all the bedrooms and playroom are upstairs. The best part of our home is the neighborhood. It is just what we dreamed of raising our kids in and the reason we relocated from California.
Tell us about a typical day in the life of your family.
The days tend to start the same whether it is a school morning or not. At their young age, the twins have yet to learn the joys of sleeping in! Since I on the other hand love to get up anytime after 6AM, we let the twins have their cartoon time in the morning. They can turn the TV on in the playroom and grab a banana on their own and we keep that TV set to their channel. I am out of bed around 7AM and making breakfast. Gemma is in Grade three and the twins are in kinder, so 3 days a week, I work.
Wednesday and Thursdays are my time with the twins. Every Thursday this year, we try to learn about/play/go somewhere new. It is Our Year of Thursdays and I will be blogging most of them.
Now that we have a dog, we get to take a walk every evening before dinner. We did not make the effort before having a dog!
Which five words would you use to describe your home?
Light. Open. Full. Loud. Welcoming.
Where do your children play?
We have a dedicated playroom that is a large open space upstairs. The room gets great light and has huge floor space so that they can really spread out. They have their TV, DVD player and a Kinect game system so that when the weather isn’t nice out, they can still move around. The room opens up onto a big balcony where we have a little table. They are safe up there and can eat or do messy play in the fresh air.
If we are doing a craft project, we will use the work area in my office. That is where I have set up a table and white board for homework time. The twins also do preschool workbook pages there when I have to work during one of the days they are not in school. Gemma loves to “teach” in that space as well.
The bath…my kids love to play in the bathtub.
We have a huge back yard that does not get nearly enough use. Since the first four years we lived here, there was a beekeeper next door and our yard was always full of bees. Now that the beekeeper has moved, we all need to re-learn to use that space. We have a number of great parks within walking distance (plus the beach!) and that is usually where we head when we go outdoors.
How would you describe your parenting style? How does your home reflect this?
I am not sure I have a parenting style. I find that I am winging it as we go along. Something new is always coming up and I have to adapt. We are always sort of running around just ahead of things but we make it work. I would say that our house does reflect that. There are often piles of half done efforts like folded, clean laundry that is not yet put away or framed photos not hung up. It is a bit of a tidy mess of great intentions.
How do you ensure that everyone has the space they need?
The twins request to sleep together, so currently they share a room. This year they graduated to bunk beds and it works perfectly to keep them in the same space. Gemma has her own room and since she always has, instead of making the girls share a room when Kieran needs privacy, we will give up the guest room. I really think it is important for my kids to have somewhere they can go and be alone with their thoughts or even just play quietly without having to share. That is the amnesty they get in their own bedrooms.
How and where do you find space for yourself?
When I run, I am having time for me. I am not sure what I did before I started running 8 months ago!
My home office has a reading nook that is somewhere I can escape to. Also, my master bedroom is a no toy zone so that Alec and I can keep it just for us. The kids come in and get cuddles in the morning but they have learned to take out what they drag in. Mostly, my private time comes when the kids are at school. That is just something I accept as a mom! The one thing I did not count on is the cat taking over the laundry room. Now I have to go to the guestroom to find enough space to sort and fold all the clothes this family keeps me washing.
What is your favourite way to spend family time?
We love to travel. The ‘getting there’ is not always so much fun but we have a great time as a whole family when we are out of our element. From little weekend road trips to far flung fly-to-it destinations, we enjoy being a worldly family. That is probably not a surprise seeing that Alec is Russian born/Australia raised and I am a native Virginian who spent most of her adult life in Los Angeles. Gemma was born in LA and the twins were made there. 😉
What do you hope your children will most remember about their home and family when they reflect back on growing up?
Two words, comfort and love. I just want them to be comfortable. I don’t want them to live in a show home where they can’t breathe without immediately cleaning up. Then again, I don’t want to raise three slobs. That sums up my parenting style as well. I want my kids to know that they can try different things and explore the world and most of all, if they make a mistake or a mess and need help cleaning it up, they can always come to me.
“It is a bit of a tidy mess of great intentions.” I had to smile when I read this line as I can relate 110% to that sentiment! Can you?
Be sure to check out Rachel’s blog, Sesame Ellis.