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My Solo Mom Holiday: New York

My Solo Mom Holiday: New York

Back in May, when I started telling people that I was about to fly to New York, by myself, everyone looked at me like I was crazy. And fair enough. I'm a mostly-stay-at-home parent with 2 small children, 2 part-time jobs and a husband who works a lot. Oh, and we're not independently wealthy. Taking off on overseas holidays by myself isn't exactly an everyday occurrence.

The idea took hold when our friend mentioned that she was going to New York for her sister's wedding, and my husband said casually, "You should go with her." I'm pretty sure my response was something along the lines of: "Are you insane?" He started looking up flights and Airbnb's and he insisted, "I really think you should go. The kids will be fine."  

Once my initial shock wore off, I came around pretty quickly and spent the next day trying to find someone to go with me. My friend Sam was intrigued (cheap flights! Brooklyn in June! girls trip!), and by the next night we had booked our flights and accommodation.

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Sydney Blessingway Photographer

Sydney Blessingway Photographer

"A blessingway is a special ceremony designed to acknowledge, honour, and celebrate a woman's journey into motherhood. Different from a baby shower, a blessingway's main goal is to provide a loving place where an expectant mum can explore the challenges and joys that lie before her as she approaches childbirth and motherhood." - Mother Rising

This past weekend I had the honour of guiding my dear friend's blessingway. Min is expecting her third baby, and when she told me that she had always wanted a blessingway but never had anyone who could plan it for her, I knew that we had to make it happen! Back when I was expecting my first daughter, my friends threw me a beautiful blessingway and it was one of the highlights of my whole pregnancy. I was very hopeful that it would be the same for Min.

I really do believe that when women gather together, magic happens. Not one person present had ever attended a blessingway, and yet everyone was so open hearted and happy to be a part of it. At the end everyone was talking about how amazing it was to slow down, to focus, to make something with their hands, to celebrate their friend and her journey.

I used the book Mother Rising to plan the ceremony, as well as the Mama Blessing Pack from Sisters and the Sea. I would highly recommend both to anyone planning a blessingway! My favourite part of the day: the blush pink string we tied around our wrists in our closing ceremony string ritual, that each of us will leave on our wrist until we hear that Min's baby has arrived. 

As a photographer, of course I couldn't let the day go by without snapping some photos. Here are some of my faves...

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My 2018 Goals

My 2018 Goals

Well here's something I've never shared before on this blog or my old blog: my goals. I've never been much of a resolutions person or a goal setter but last year, after reading a lot on the topic, I decided to give it a try. At the end of 2016 I sat down on the kitchen floor with a giant piece of paper and a stack of pencil crayons, and I brainstormed all of the things I wanted to work on in 2017. I then mulled it over, went back and crossed out the things that didn't make sense for me in my current season of life, and combined the things that were repetitive. I ended up with a list of 15 work-related goals and 16 personal goals.

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Our Christmas

Our Christmas

One thing I'm really starting to appreciate about Christmas with children is that it is so much more about the journey than the destination. All month long we were preparing and celebrating in different ways. It started on December 1st when I hung our advent calendar and we pulled the first card which said, 'Decorate for Christmas!' Our advent calendar has pockets and I fill them with a mix of small gifts (hair clips, nail polish, chocolates etc) as well as activities (help someone, bake cookies, watch a Christmas movie etc). Just like last year, we got a real tree and this year the process was a lot smoother!

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Our Vancouver Trip + My Favourite Vancouver Spots

Our Vancouver Trip + My Favourite Vancouver Spots

After a glorious 6 weeks in Vancouver, it's time for us to head back to Sydney. This trip has been so full in the best of ways. We got to attend two incredibly fun weddings, including a Greek Orthodox wedding where I had the privilege of being the maid of honour. We also spent time on Gabriola Island, my favourite Gulf Island and a place I have been visiting my whole life. Because this was my first visit home in 5 years where I haven't been breastfeeding a baby, I had a lot more freedom to get out and explore. I decided before we left that I wanted to be super intentional in how I spent my time in Vancouver. I didn't want to get to the end of our visit and realise that I hadn't seen the people I wanted to see, or done the things I wanted to do. Before we left, I started a list in Wunderlist called 'Vancouver Bucket List'. I had another list simply called 'Vancouver things', where I documented all of our adventures, from the hikes we did to the cafes we visited. I'm so glad I did this! It kept me inspired and motivated to keep exploring and make the most of our time. And now it's fun to look back and see everything we were able to do. 

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Knitting for my girls

Knitting for my girls

Seeing as it's winter here in Sydney (and it's actually been cold lately!), I've got knitting on the brain. I mostly knit for my girls because crafting for kids is so very forgiving. They look cute in everything, and if something ends up too big, I figure, "great, they'll grow into it." And if something ends up too small, I figure "great, Hazel can wear it."

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My Girls Right Now

My Girls Right Now

I was just having a look through my blog and realised that the last time I wrote about my girls was this time last year, whoah! It's safe to say that they have changed a lot in this last year. Clementine turned 4 earlier this month and Hazel is now 19 months old. We are officially out of the baby bubble! Although we still call Hazel "the baby" and she's tiny, so I can get away with pretending she's still a baby for a while longer...

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Memory Keeping

Memory Keeping

As promised, today's post is a follow up to my post on how to organise your personal photos. Keeping my photos organised makes all of my memory keeping projects way easier, so it made sense to start there and now I'll explain how I use my photos.

To begin, I got the idea from Ronnie to decide on my personal memory keeping framework. Figuring out your priorities and then deciding on a framework is a helpful exercise before committing to a bunch of projects that you may or may not be able to keep up with.

After mulling it over, I decided to break down my projects into 3 categories: photos, words and videos. 

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On My Needles Right Now

On My Needles Right Now

If you used to read my old blog, you'll know that I'm an avid crafter. I love to make things, whether it's knitting, sewing, quilting, embroidering, crocheting or weaving. I go through phases with my crafting, spending months on one craft and then swapping to another. I have found  that since becoming a parent to two, knitting has been my go to craft. It's way more portable than sewing and easy to pick up and knit a row or 2 if I find myself with 5 free minutes. 

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HOW TO ORGANISE YOUR PERSONAL PHOTOS

HOW TO ORGANISE YOUR PERSONAL PHOTOS

I'm a big believer in family photos, for my clients and for myself. I take tons of photos and I also make it a priority to have family photos done once or twice a year.

I treasure these photos more than I can say, and because of that, I'm determined to fully enjoy them. This means figuring out a system for organising our photos and memory keeping projects, and actually sticking with it! I'll be publishing a separate post about memory keeping, and for now will stick with an explanation of how I deal with photos. I know that many of us are overwhelmed by our digital photos, and it might even be one of your New Year's resolutions to get on top of it. I hope that a peek into my process might help you find a system that works for you!

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Vancouver Family Photographer: the H twins

Vancouver Family Photographer: the H twins

Meet Vanessa: she's one of my oldest friends and the person I originally travelled to Australia with. When she told me that she was pregnant, I was so excited for her. And then when she had her first scan and found out she was expecting twins, I was shocked and even more excited for her! Having twins isn't easy, but Vanessa and her husband are doing so well dealing with the sleep deprivation and curveballs that are being thrown their way (says the girl who could barely cope with the sleep deprivation of having 1 baby at a time, ahem). I love you Nessa and I'm so proud of you!

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Feeling Festive

Feeling Festive

This is a story about a Christmas tree and a bathtub...

For the 8+ years that I've lived in Sydney, I have always struggled with Christmas. It's a sentiment that most Northern Hemisphere expats seem to share; celebrating Christmas in the middle of summer is just weird. So every year when December comes around, I'm a bit of a Scrooge. There's also the fact that Christmas Day happens to be my birthday, which adds to the pressure around the day. 

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Gabriola Island

Shortly after arriving in Vancouver, my whole family headed to spend five days in a tiny cabin on Gabriola Island. For as long as I can remember, Gabriola has been "our island." We spent time there almost every summer when my brother and I were kids, and my dad even lived there for five years. It really is a special place. 

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Vancouver Family Photographer

This time next week the four of us will be on a plane heading to Vancouver! And we are all very excited about it (not so excited about the 15 hour flight though)!

I haven't been home since Christmas 2014 so I cannot wait to indulge in all my Vancouver favourites like: seeing my friends and family not on a computer screen, going to Jericho to swim and play, getting pirate packs at White Spot, shopping at Anthropologie and I could go on and on...

While I'm there I would love to do family, maternity, newborn or yoga shoots. Vancouver is so beautiful at this time of year and I'm looking forward to planning some fun shoots that incorporate the amazing scenery. If you're interested, send me an email at gabrielafearn@gmail.com

See you soon Vancouver friends!

Our neighbourhood

One of the things I love about Sydney is how villagey it is (and yes, I know that's not a real world). The city is big and sprawling, and while I found that overwhelming at first, I quickly learned that it's divided into areas (for example, the northern beaches, the inner west, the eastern suburbs) and each of these is made up of different suburbs. In my experience, people tend to mostly stick to their areas. I sometimes joke that I treat my suburb like an island I can't leave, which has become especially true after having babies.

We've lived in our current neighbourhood for 6 years now, long enough to really put down roots. We know many of our neighbours and have lots of friends close by. If I need a cup of flour, I know who to ask. If I need an emergency babysitter, I have friends nearby who can help. We know many of the local shopkeepers/people who work in the local stores and they always chat to the girls and sometimes give them little treats. 

I've always loved and appreciated our suburb (it really is beautiful) but having kids here has made me appreciate it even more. You'll often hear people say that early motherhood can be isolating, but I haven't found that to be true in my experience. If anything, I've made way more friends since becoming a stay at home parent. I think it's because our neighbourhood is like its own little village where you see the same people over and over again. You bump into each other at the park, the cafe, the local playgroups. And over time, you become friends and your kids do too. It's awesome.

Walkability has a lot to do with this, and I'm grateful that where we live is so easy to get around without a car. On the days where I don't need to drive, I don't. Now that Clementine is a bit older, she walks with me and Hazel goes in the pram or a carrier. We stay close to home, visiting the local parks, going for babycinos, and having playdates with our friends. 

* p.s. Australians don't really use the word neighbourhood

* p.p.s. If you live in Sydney, this map will make you laugh

My Girls

As some of you may know, I used to have a personal blog called This Little Port. I stopped writing there at the end of 2014 for several reasons, but ever since then there has been a part of me that really misses blogging. So after much thought, I've decided to incorporate the odd personal post into this here blog. I'm not quite sure how often these kinds of posts will pop up, maybe once a fortnight or so? We'll see...

Today I thought I'd write a bit about my girls, who have changed so much since I stopped blogging (well Hazel wasn't even born so there's that...). Clementine turned 3 last month and Hazel is 7 months old. Back when I was pregnant, I was worried that Clementine wouldn't like the baby, that she would be jealous and uninterested in having a sibling. Boy was I ever wrong! From the moment she came to the hospital to meet her not-yet-named little sister, she was in love. She held the baby and cooed, "Look a baby, a baby! She's laughing at me!" Today she says, "I love you Hazel, you're the best sister in the... in the Ever!" 

I'm sure things will get trickier as Hazel gets older and big enough to actually annoy her sister and steal her toys etc. But for now, they adore each other, entertain each other and are just the cutest pair. 

Individually, each of them is adorable and charming and hilarious and frustrating and all of those other parenting clichés! Now that she's 3, Clementine attends a sweet Steiner preschool 2 days a week. She's a super social kid and absolutely loves her days there. She's still incredibly active and agile, needing so much outdoor time to run around and burn energy. My husband has just started to take her rock climbing, and she loves it. 

As for Hazel, she is the sweetest, happiest little baby. She's not a sleeper but she's so damn cute that come morning (sometime between 5 and 6 am) when I hear her laughing at me, I forgive her for all the night wakings. People are constantly telling us that she's the smiliest baby ever, and it's true. She loves to engage with people, flash them her big, gummy grin and kick her legs in excitement. She's also agile and active, just like her big sister. She started sitting and crawling just before 6 months and she is fast. I have to watch her like a hawk. She's pulling up to stand and ignoring my protests to please just slow. Down. Already. 

I could say that about both girls really. They're growing and changing daily, and while it's awesome to witness there's also that feeling of wanting to press pause. I'm sure all you other parents can relate. So that's where we're at these days. I post regularly over on Instagram, so feel free to follow me there for more updates. 

Sydney Mother Daughter Photographer: Neesha + Oribi

Remember my friend Neesha? Well she and I had our baby girls 2 weeks apart. Neesha knew that she was having a girl, but my pregnancy was a gender surprise, so we were pretty excited when I had a baby girl as well! I think we're going to force Oribi and Hazel to be besties, ha. 

So anyway, we've been wanting to go back to the location of Neesha's maternity shoot to take mother daughter photos, and last month, it finally happened. I'm so pleased with how these photos turned out. From Neesha's gorgeous styling, to Oribi's adorable pout to the look of love between the two of them... Just so precious.