What if we walked?

Photo 5-7-19, 1 53 39 pm.jpg

It is a ten kilometre walk to the children’s farm and back, and we don’t have a car today. Before France this would have been out of the question. But now, with the resilience they brought home in their suitcases alongside the medieval Papo figurines, sweet little jumpers from the Monoprix, and a collection of Barbapapa books, the children say, “What if we walked?” 

So I pack a lunch box of chopped apple and pear, crackers, and these banana muffins, and we set off. 

Follow the route towards school and then turn off at the park, sticking to the paths because the long grass is soaked with dew and the day is bright but only three degrees right now. Our breath forms clouds in the air to guide us, and nobody wants cold, wet shoes and socks at the start of a day (the end of the day is a different matter, apparently). 

At the railway crossing, we stop to let a train go by. The children put their hands through the railings and wave to the train. Before the train hurtles past, we can see the driver stand up in her cabin and wave back: a big, whole-of-body, over-the-head wave, and a beaming smile to go with it. 

Photo 5-7-19, 10 07 26 am.jpg
Photo 5-7-19, 1 27 14 pm.jpg

We see a beautiful but decrepit old house, one that once probably nurtured families and echoed to tiny, thumping feet and the laughter of children. A long time ago, a colour-loving person had planted a pink-flowering geranium beside the front gate. But now the windows are boarded over, the paint is peeling, some of the cladding has fallen away, and the posts that support the verandah are rotting. 

As we walk on, we make up a story about its haunting. I try for something chilling and deeply tragic, but the children are convinced the demise of the house had been hastened by hungry monsters, aliens and flying dogs. They build their outlandish story with relish, growing more ridiculous by the sentence, giggling and shouting over one another with excitement. I blame Captain Underpants

Under the overpass and onto the Main Yarra Trail, where water is tumbling over rocks in a happy gurgle and bellbirds are calling everywhere. I tell Ralph to move to the left if he hears the ding of a bicycle bell, but he says he can’t tell which ones are the bikes and which ones are the birds. He makes a good point. 

Photo 5-7-19, 10 18 05 am.jpg

We tell ourselves, this could be Dinan! Here we are, walking alongside a river again. We climb out onto a wooden lookout and say, “These are the ramparts at the ruins.” Further on, a wall stretches up, up, on the other side of the path, as tall as the Dinan chateau beside the wild apple orchard. This wall is covered in graffiti but we try to ignore that, and tell each other, “Those are the castle walls.” A road bridge up ahead plays the role of the viaduct that connects Dinan to Lanvallay. 

We are chevaliers again, and tired legs discover a last burst of energy before we reach the children’s farm. 

Photo 5-7-19, 1 50 38 pm.jpg
Photo 5-7-19, 1 32 39 pm.jpg

In fact we are so excited to reach the farm and find our friends that we don’t notice the oak tree but, on the way home, we stop at it in wonder. 

It is ancient, and most of its golden leaves have already dropped, set in a circle of stones and stretching its branches almost all the way to the river. The children climb over the stones and play in the fallen leaves but I am overcome with a powerful sense of stillness. 

Photo 5-7-19, 1 54 36 pm.jpg

The sun is turning golden as we make our way home along the river, the children collecting leaves and nuts, fanning them out in their hands like cards at a poker table, to inspect the intricacies of Nature’s design. Ralph finds a giant fern frond broken on the ground, and holds it aloft like a sword. 

Back on the back-streets, they discover a small pile of smooth, round pebbles, so we start a game of Hansel and Gretel, counting out steps between stones and taking turns. That game lasts a good kilometre or two, all the way back to the railway crossing. 

The day is warm now - 17 degrees! - so Ralph takes his shirt off and struts those streets as though he’s at the beach. (I am carrying jumpers, shirts, hats, gloves, picnic lunch, water bottle, and other various accoutrements in my back pack. Thankfully a friend has taken our coats in her car, and drops them home for us.)

We find a park we’ve never seen before, rows of trees glowing in the late afternoon light, and promise one another we’ll return one day because there is a playground in the distance “that looks awesome!” We also pass a bakery that we hadn’t seen on the way out, so Scout suggests that next time, we should pick up a baguette. 

The children say, “We feel sorry for our friends who drove in the car, because they would have missed all of this.” 

Photo 5-7-19, 1 56 46 pm.jpg
Photo 5-7-19, 1 58 08 pm.jpg
Photo 5-7-19, 2 08 17 pm.jpg

Camping People

tent cropped.jpg
Photo 19-4-19, 2 20 21 pm.jpg
Photo 19-4-19, 3 28 04 pm.jpg
Photo 19-4-19, 3 55 55 pm.jpg
Photo 20-4-19, 4 09 04 pm.jpg

Do you ever go camping?

I need to preface this blog post with the confession that we are not Camping People.

This makes me a little bit sad, because I really want to think of myself as a Camping Person. In my head, Camping People are super-evolved. They know how to pare back their living requirements to the bare minimum, ridding themselves of the clutter that threatens to overwhelm the rest of us on any given day, and bringing only what they can carry, leaving behind only footprints in the sand.

Camping People cook delicious one-pot meals in cast iron… (pots? Dutch ovens? What are those things called?) over picturesque fires, with mushrooms and fennel they foraged in nearby pine forests, or mussels they pulled from rocks on pristine beaches. For breakfast they eat bircher muesli they had pre-made in individual mason jars, which they kept cool overnight by submerging them in an alpine-fed stream, Famous Five style. After dinner they uncork the wine, and tell hilarious stories to one another in the glow of the fire. They drape hand-woven rugs around their shoulders as the chill draws in, and they look good in beanies.

We are not those people.

We tried camping, one time. I won a beautiful, canvas tent in a competition, and off we raced to a campsite among the trees in the mountains. I remember it had been a lean week, so I only had $90 in the budget with which to purchase four inflatable beds, one pump, four sleeping bags, two lanterns and four little folding deck chairs, all from K-mart.

Let’s just say you get what you pay for. The pump didn’t work so we had to blow up the beds by mouth, and they deflated during the night to leave us sleeping on cold rocks. Only one of the two lanterns worked. The sleeping bags made up in bulk for what they lacked in actual warmth, and we froze, huddled together on the deflating beds in our winter coats, through the long, six-degree Celsius night.

I had forgotten to bring the instructions for pitching the tent, so we had attempted it earlier that day amid dust and wasps, tripping over pegs and ropes and arguing pointlessly, while a motorhome the size of our home in Melbourne rolled up and parked within touching distance of our tent (we couldn’t even stretch the ropes out fully or we’d have had to peg them into the side of the motorhome). A marathon runner pitched his one-person tent in front of our car, climbed inside at around seven at night, and commenced a rumbling, avalanche-causing snore that continued with impressive consistency until sunrise the next day.

I couldn’t get the kindling in the brazier we’d hired from the campsite ranger to catch alight, despite or perhaps because of the well-meaning aid of the children who plied it with green wood and leaves, but it didn’t really matter anyway because my K-mart budget hadn’t stretched to anything with which to actually cook a meal.

(On the other side of the camping ground, actual Camping People were stirring paella on a little gas cooker, while a teapot suspended over a neat little campfire and children roasted marshmallows on sticks. Later they pulled out camp-chairs that looked like armchairs, and drank wine out of enamel cups. I watched them from the shade of my lopsided tent, through narrowed eyes.)

Because it turns out that, at least for most of us, the amount of stuff needed to actually feed, clothe, shelter and maintain basic hygiene for a family of four is actually a LOT. I mean seriously, there’s so much stuff in camping! Definitely more than we could fit into our tiny Toyota Corolla, even if the budget had allowed me to fully prepare. (The tent alone weighed more than 44 kilograms and filled the entire boot of the car. What’s even up with that!?)

After that one night we hurried back home: filthy, freezing and forlorn. My husband called some friends that same afternoon and gave the tent away, and I donated the sleeping-bags to charity (with a note attached that said “for summer”). We swore we’d never go camping again.

Photo 19-4-19, 3 56 15 pm.jpg
Photo 21-4-19, 2 40 12 pm.jpg
Photo 19-4-19, 3 26 22 pm.jpg
Photo 21-4-19, 2 47 21 pm.jpg

And then we did.

One of the lessons we learned as a family, while we were in France last year, was the importance of taking time out, and switching off, together.

So we cleared the calendar for three nights over Easter. The budget didn’t stretch to much (thanks in part the the aforementioned stay in France) and so, with some trepidation, we decided to try camping again.

It was definitely easier. Not perfect, but easier.

We took the ‘glamping’ route, the best part of which involved someone else pitching the tent, and packing it up afterwards. Oh and floorboards, pre-made beds (with doonas and blankets), a little bar-fridge to keep the milk cool in the absence of any alpine-fed springs, and even a heater!

Of course, we were still covered in dirt most of the time, the campsite showers had scary creatures on the walls, and the campsite ‘kitchen’ was so rusted over I couldn’t even boil water, let alone cook paella. We ate a lot of dim sims from the local take away shop.

And fish ‘n chips on the beach, under a high, full moon.

Actually, it wasn’t that bad.

Photo 20-4-19, 4 52 21 pm.jpg
Photo 19-4-19, 2 38 27 pm.jpg
Photo 20-4-19, 5 07 14 pm.jpg
Photo 20-4-19, 12 24 42 pm.jpg
Photo 20-4-19, 12 22 04 pm.jpg
Photo 19-4-19, 3 27 07 pm.jpg
Photo 20-4-19, 12 27 45 pm.jpg

The children splashed in the icy sea-water, building sandcastles and a conical abbey of sand that they called le Mont Saint Michel. We explored seaside villages and manicured gardens. Old-fashioned hedge-mazes and sun drenched pathways to remote lighthouses.

In the evenings, we read our books and drank hot tea - and later red wine - wrapped in soft blankets. When it was time to turn off the lantern, the moon painted Chinese calligraphy in the leaves and branches of nearby trees on the canvas walls.

I could hear the soft breathing of my family, all asleep but me. Distant waves kissing sand. Night birds. And, on the final night, the winds of a gathering storm.

Maybe this is how Camping People feel.

Photo 19-4-19, 1 52 08 pm.jpg
Photo 19-4-19, 1 47 21 pm.jpg
Photo 21-4-19, 4 08 31 pm.jpg
Photo 21-4-19, 4 45 15 pm.jpg
Photo 20-4-19, 7 49 04 am.jpg
Photo 20-4-19, 8 32 15 pm.jpg

Holidays at home

Processed with VSCO with k3 presetProcessed with VSCO with 5 preset Processed with VSCO with a5 preset Processed with VSCO with a9 preset Processed with VSCO with a5 preset Processed with VSCO with a5 preset Processed with VSCO with a5 preset Processed with VSCO with a5 preset Processed with VSCO with a7 preset Processed with VSCO with a5 preset Processed with VSCO with a5 preset Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

Summer holidays at home are for bare feet and late nights. For dining on ice cream instead of vegetables, watching Netflix instead of deadlines, and reading trashy novels instead of weighty text-books.

They are for heatwaves and plummeting rain and, when the rain clears, for a million petals carpeting the footpath like confetti.  

Holidays are for languid afternoons and lazy nonchalance, for baking and making, for staying in pyjamas all day one day and swimming costumes all day the next. For games. New games, old games, games together and games alone, games of action and games of craft, games of imagination and games of giggles. And for at least three complaints of "I'm boooooored," issuing from among mountains of new Christmas toys.

Then, the new year. 

Holidays turn to tidying bedrooms, cleaning out cupboards, making plans, and writing lists. So many lists! To-do lists, shopping lists, lists of recipes to try, lists of creative projects, gratitude lists, mailing lists. And new calendars and fresh new planners, lined notebooks full of promise, and bright new collections of art-paper, ready for rainbows. 

What have you been doing lately? 


party-3 party-1



When you are nearly four, anticipation is palpable. Tangible.

It dominates your mealtimes. What will my cake look like? Will all my friends sing Happy Birthday? Can we have hot chocolate?

And your friendships. I am nearly four. Am I older than my other friends? Will my hair be longer than all my friends' hair now? Will my feet be bigger than all my friends'?

Cleaning the house before your party, you don't even mind hiding your toys to make room for the party games. You can put them away now, Mummy, I don't mind. You help your mother decorate the house with the posters and banners and streamers and balloons you chose from Big W; mix up polymer snow-powder; smooth out tiny, handmade, paper snowflakes in your little almost-four hands.

Anticipation permeates your dreams. Quick! I have to get ready for my party! you yell, still fathoms-deep in sleep. (I will come to your party, your brother drowsily replies, before sinking back into his own dreams.)


I didn't want to host yet another party in my house, but Scout begged me to do it. She didn't want to celebrate her birthday anywhere else. It was a lot of work, as parties always are. But in the weeks and days beforehand, as the day grew near and nearer still, I came to understand the joy of anticipation through her eyes. Even the most mundane of tasks: tidying, vacuuming, grocery shopping; became acts of thrilling expectation, and gave her joy before the real joy of the party.

I guess we never stop learning from our children.

Scout says, Ralph says

love-3 love-2



"'If you knew how great is a mother's love,' Wendy told them triumphantly, 'you would have no fear.'" JM Barrie, Peter Pan


Ralph has taken to calling me "Big Mamma," which is not particularly flattering, but relates adorably to "Little Mamma," his sister.

During an argument... Ralph: I put you in the bin, Scout! Scout: Well, you're not my best friend. Ralph: I DO want to be your best friend! Scout: Then say I am not in the bin. Ralph: I put you OUT of the bin! Scout: Alright, what balloon would you like?

And more about misbehaviour... Me, to Ralph: Can you please be a good boy today? Ralph: No! I will be A. Naughty. Boy! Me: Please? Ralph: NOOOOOOO! Me: Oh dear. I feel sad when you are naughty. Ralph (cuddles me around the neck): Alright, I will be a good boy. Scout: I will be naughty!

Ralph: Mummy? Me: Yes? Ralph: I'm lovely to see you, Mummy.

Scout: Mummy, you are a queen and you will look the same when you are a little old lady.

Me: Scout, thank you for doing such a great job tidying up the play-dough. Scout: You might want to give me something for that.

Lunch time. Sandwiches apparently give the children magic powers, and Ralph is determined to do what he calls "naughty magic"... Me: Quick Scout! Eat some magic sandwiches so you can counter Ralph's magic spells! Scout (takes a big bite of her sandwich): One, two, three... (get it? COUNTer?)

Ralph: This is a lovely autumn day for a chocolate milkshake.

Music teacher is handing out maracas to all the children... Me: What do you say, Ralph? Ralph (brandishing maracas): Let's rock!

Scout hands me a fist full of coins... "This is for you because you never have any money. Now put it in your purse so you don't lose it."

Ralph: Do aeroplanes have bladders for their wee?

Kids have been arguing and yelling at each other all morning... Me: Hey guys, can anyone remember that I told you this was a No Fight Day? (long pause) Ralph: No, it IS a fight day! Scout: Yeah it IS a fight day! Both kids: Fight day! Fight day! Fight day! (united at last)

Scout: Mummy, I want to keep you.

On self doubt

Grandad & the Baby Dolphin.indd Grandad & the Baby Dolphin.indd

Grandad & the Baby Dolphin.indd

Oh hey. I have illustrated a children's book! It's called Grandad and the Baby Dolphin, and was written by the very talented Wendy Milner. The book will come out in November this year, and you can find out more (or pre-order a copy) here.

I am simultaneously proud and embarrassed to share these pictures with you.

Self doubt is a funny thing, isn't it. You do your very best and at some level (an important level!) you are proud of what you have done. And then on the other hand you look at your own work and then you look at what everyone else is doing and suddenly you feel like a complete fraud. Not to mention a failure.

Sound familiar? I feel like maybe crippling self-doubt is the default position of creatives. And by "creatives" I mean anyone who steps out into the public with something they have made: writers, artists, entrepreneurs, researchers... you name it. We all question ourselves, our abilities, our capacity, all the time but especially at the eleventh hour.

I have to fight my self-deprecating instincts as I share these illustrations with you. I hold myself up against the pantheon of talented, experienced illustrators in the children's book-publishing world and frankly I feel absurd.

Last week when Wendy said "We are finished!" and sent me a digital proof of the book, I vibrated with pride all evening. I kept looking through the images and reading them alongside her wonderful story and I felt as though together, we had created something really special.

That lasted for several hours, until I went to bed.

Then I closed my eyes and, immediately in my imagination, the whole world sat in a stadium, me alone and spotlit on a field way below, and everybody bellowed "WHO ARE YOU to think you could illustrate ANYTHING?" I am a writer, not an artist, and my sleepy self knew it. So did everybody else. "DERIVATIVE," the World shouted from the stands, "NAIVE." And "BORING" and "UNIMAGINATIVE" and "AMATEUR."

But do you know what? Get thee behind me, Naomi's Imagination World. I, like so many creative people before me and so many more to come, am going to own what I have made, and own it with pride. Wendy's prose is flawless. Her story is beautiful, and engaging, and entertaining, in all the right parts. I told it to my children for the first time a little while ago, holding up my paintings as I went along, and their simple response at the end was, "Again?"

And I am an illustrator. There, I will say it. I am a children's book illustrator, and I am lucky enough that my first book illustration project was for something as special as this beautifully-written tale of love and family and caring and joy.

I bet you are creative, too. Do you struggle to own it, trust it, believe in it? What should you be proud of today?

Scout says Ralph says

thumb_P3259581_1024 thumb_P3259683_1024






Scout (rubbing her belly): These pancakes are delicious. My tummy says yum-my.

Ralph (rubbing his belly): My yellow t-shirt says YUMMY too.


At bed time...

Scout: I love you to the aliens' planet, and a million.

Ralph: I love you to my rocket ship and I also love the aliens' planet.


At another bedtime, when their father was overseas...

"I love you past the aliens' planet and all the way to Daddy!"


During a book photoshoot...

Me: This photo is supposed to tell a story. It is cold and rainy outside. But inside, the person is all cosy and warm, snuggled into blankets on the couch, drinking tea and reading a letter from a friend. Maybe they have just gotten up to make some toast...

Scout: Can I be that person? (pause) And can you make me some toast?


Scout (cuddling her dolly): Do you wish you were as good at Mummying as me?

Me: Yes!

Scout: It's ok, don't cry. You did TEACH me how to do it.


Scout: Ring ring! Hello moon? Moon? Can you come down please?


At bed time...

Me: Thank you for a really good day.

Scout: Thank you for being a really good Mummy.

Ralph: Can I bounce a ball on your head?

Gifts for a first birthday

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Our friend's daughter is turning one next week, and it has got me thinking about the sorts of gifts to buy for this birthday. It's always a tricky one. The parents are SO PROUD, and rightly so. They have made it through a whole year with their new baby and managed to keep them alive. One year is a massive turning-point in all the good things and exhausting things about being a parent.

Plenty of derogatory words have been said about first birthdays being more for the parents than the child, to which I say DUH. Of course they are! And rightly so because frankly, the parents have done the lion's share of the work to get to this point! (Don't get me wrong, babies are awesome. I wish I had started having them earlier because I seriously would have like about eight. And I get that they are adjusting to, you know, Earth, for the first time, and that's not something to be sniffed at. But let's be honest: there's not a whole of exhaustion to be found in the sleep-feed-cry-cuddle-poo-play cycle, when played on repeat for 12 months).

Anyway, back to the point of this post(!)

So you have been invited to a first birthday party. What present do you buy? They're too little for you to have any helpful idea about their likes and dislikes. You don't want to get anything too young, because they'll grow out of them so quickly. But you don't want to give them something totally inappropriate.

What you see here is a short list of gifts that our children were given when they turned one, that have stood the test of time in terms of popularity and durability. My children are now aged two and three-and-a-half, and both of them still play with all of these. When I think about it, most of these toys are the types that can grow with the child, so that they play with them very differently now to the way they played with them when they were little... but they DO still play with them!

Onward to the list.

Stacking building blocks


These typically come in sets of ten, and are made out of sturdy cardboard. They are five-sided cubes that stack away neatly inside each other. When Ralph was one, his favourite game was for one of us to build a "tower" and then he would knock it down. Now he is two and I watch him building his own towers, carefully figuring out which sized 'block' is big enough to support the next. (And yes, he and his sister still like to knock those towers down).

Doctor's kit


We bought this kit (why yes it IS Peppa Pig themed. Don't judge!) when Scout was about one. Thanks to a stable but regularly-checked heart condition she has had from birth, plus a nasty bout of septicaemia when she was 11 months old, Scout developed a devout fear of doctors, and all kinds of medical intervention (even bandaids!). She loves role-play, so we thought a doctor's kit might help to remove some of the stigma. It maybe helped that situation a quarter of a fraction so in that sense it was a fail, but in every other sense, it has been a fantastic toy. The children both still play with it regularly. The other day I saw Ralph performing a "check-up" on Scout, using all the different instruments appropriately. Except that he listened to her heart through her leg.

Things on wheels


Scout has a green car she was given on her first birthday and she and Ralph still love to play with it. Anything (safe) on wheels is a long-term winner. I've pictured the bus here because it is extra popular, for a number of reasons. I bought this for Ralph when he was one. He loved "brooming" it around the room, but also loved that the roof opened up (there are little wooden people in there - I just kept those confiscated until he became big enough for them not to be a choking hazard). One of his favourite games (other than brooming) is to put little things into big things, so he uses this bus to hold all his matchbox cars. Also, he and Scout two days ago spent almost an hour with this bus and another big truck, racing them at top speed up and down the length of the house. I don't know. They both just love things on wheels.

Ride-on things on wheels


Here is another great toy. This bumble-bee, a gift for Scout I think when she was about one, is a perennial favourite, not only with my kids but also with visitors. Before Ralph could walk, he would hold onto the bee's antlers and move around on his knees (the wheels went too fast for it to double as a 'walker'). He used it to transport things on its back and, as he grew older, started to ride on it. This one is still so popular that they fight over having turns.

A stroller


When Scout turned one, a friend of ours gave her this stroller*, to cart around the dolly she had also been given from another friend (we were deep into "second baby on the way" mode and coming up with all kinds of schemes to help her adjust to life with a baby). Once Scout learned to walk, she would push that stroller all the way up to the post office or shops, it helped her balance and focus in those early walking days. We had no idea it would be as perennially popular as it has been, but both children still really love to play with it. Ralph likes to stack his cars inside the stroller and call them "my babies." Both children take turns - one with the stroller and one with the bus from above - to put their favourite toys inside and race up and down the house and into the garden.

* About a week ago after MUCH use, this stroller finally bit the dust, so I've had to dig out an old photo to use instead. This is Scout at about 16 months, pushing her stroller to the post office. Aagh too much cute!

A doll's house


I use this term loosely. What you see here is Ralph's rocket ship, complete with stairs and a ramp and a lift, and it is very popular around here. It was given to him recently, when he turned two. But I've included it because we also have a similar structure that is more of a traditional "doll house" (Peppa Pig themed - I'm serious don't judge!) which was given to Scout when she turned one, so I know this kind of play is also popular with one-year-olds. House or rocket ship, it doesn't really make a difference: this is all about accessible play-spaces to encourage imagination. My children play with both "doll structures" frequently and in the same way. I rotate the two structures, and the rocket ship happens to be out now. The kids role-play like champions with this thing and, now that they can talk, they even do voices! The other day I overheard Ralph narrating this conversation to himself, complete with voices, between astronauts and some anthropomorphised (by Ralph) cars:

"It isn't a problem" says the astronaut "It IS a problem" says the car, "I can't get up high!" "I will help you" says the astronaut, "It is magic" UP UP UP (and Ralph sent the car up the lift)

Also... we first came across the Peppa Pig house at the office of my obstetrician when I fell pregnant with Ralph (Scout was nine months old). She instantly took to it, and the obstetrician noted that it was universally popular with every child who came into her office. "Even six-year-olds," she said. Point being, kids love to role-play, and it is SO good for them!

Musical instruments


Full disclosure, these instruments come and go in popularity. They are not as consistently used as some of the others included here, but they have definitely survived the age test. This wooden set was a present for Ralph when he turned one: he loved banging things and making noise, so, hey! He played with it pretty consistently for about six months, and still returns to it semi-regularly. Add in a tambourine, and one of the children's favourite games these days is to grab an instrument and march around the house singing "We're in a marching band, we're in a marching band," one following the other. It's pretty cute!



You know what? Books are always great. I'll do a proper post on some good books for one-year-olds (that seem to stay popular for longer) shortly. In the meantime, we bought the book above for the family friend I told you about at the start of this post, who is turning one. It is a little bit old for her, but she will quickly grow into it. It's a book with no words, so you can make up a story to go with the pictures. These books are great for growing with children, and fostering imagination. When they are little like this one, the reader can make up a story for them, according to their interests. As they get older, they can make up their own stories... and the stories will change as the child grows.

Two final tips:

1. If you're buying a present for a child and this is a new activity for you, treat those "age recommendations" with a fair bit of flexibility. If a toy says "suitable 2-4 years" that's most likely a safety recommendation in terms of choking hazards and the size of the equipment etc, it's not necessarily a sign that a four-year-old will enjoy the toy. Get it for the two-year old. My rule of thumb is to "buy up" when it comes to age, unless it's a safety issue. Assume the kids you're buying for are a lot brighter than the box would have you believe. They almost always are.

2. One-year-old is a funny time in a child's development to be buying most toys. In my experience, they REALLY start to get into serious, imaginative play at around the 18 month mark... but of course that's not a birthday so they don't have lots of people buying them toys. Most of the toys I've recommended here will be kind of liked at one, but will probably (hopefully!) become really popular at around 18 months.

How about you? What are/were some of the most popular toys for the one-year-olds in your life?

ps. I just discovered this mess-free finger-painting activity last week. The kids had fun even now but, seriously, this would have been a LIFE CHANGER if I'd known about it when my guys were one!

And so this was Christmas

















So this was our Christmas. I hope yours was beautiful. And now it's time to say, see you next year! Can you even believe that?

Love, Naomi xo

ps. I've been on an unexpected blog-and-Internet break due to the sad demise of my modem (which I didn't discover for two days until I was suddenly out of data on my phone - grr!). All things considered, it was the perfect time of year to take time off. I'll be back in the New Year feeling refreshed, and very much looking forward to all the year will bring for us.