Weekend: Noosa, Belmondo’s Organic Market + Boreen Point

So, number 27 on my bucket list, if I would have a number twenty-seven, would be “Photo-journal my way through the Sunshine Coast.” There are several fantasy occupations that have always rotated through my dreams: midwifery, photojournalism, and attending culinary school. I’m crossing my fingers that all three of these will one day become reality, and as for this photo thing, while I’m not a photographer by any stretch of the imagination, I love recording those tiny moments that make my eyes sparkle and saving them to later re-live the memories already faded.

We’re living on the Sunshine Coast for at least a year, while David does his year of internship at the local hospitals. Before our move, this felt like a dream (so close to family! Ten minutes from the beach! Endless things and places to see and eat and hike!) But, as happens to all places that slowly become ones’ home, it became simply that: home, not a tourist destination.

Now, as the months wind down and I am able to move out of the obligatory housebound days of all things newborn, I can’t wait to explore, see this slice of our world, and then leave, feeling like we made the absolute most out of our time here. Yesterday my sister and I rolled out a big sheet of brown paper to hang on a spare wall: a to-tackle list full of lookouts to look at and mountains to climb and waterfalls to see and coffee to drink. We’ll be checking them off one at a time, and a few of the haunts might show up here.

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Last Saturday, Heidi took me out for the day to celebrate the next day’s birthday. It wasn’t a bright day with a blue sky as we had formerly hoped, but when all four of us were buckled into the car (this, as it happens, is a rather large feat) and rain pattered on the windshield while the wipers worked vigilantly to clear it away, we decided there could be nothing more perfect than clouds and rain showers. It lasted just long enough to make our road trip cosy, then the sky cleared and we were able to stroll around town with the sun in our faces.

First on the agenda: digging for treasures in a couple op shops and feeding a screaming baby in the car before breaking at Padre Coffee Roastery:

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Places that serve coffee, freshly-roasted and ground on the premises and presented in bowls instead of lousy small mugs, always get an automatic five stars.

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After coffee, we spent the rest of the morning just around the corner at Belmondo’s Organic Centre, a sweet little marketplace with a bulk food section, sourdough bakery, deli, fruit + veg shop, florist, roastery, and so many local products: gifts, pottery, cheeses, etc.

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Because of the afternoon’s choice of weather, we didn’t get to go on the walk through the National Park like we wanted to, so the photos below are from a few months ago when we went to the same place. Noosa is a favourite spot (extra special of course since it’s where we had our first date and where we spent the day of our engagement!) but it can be very crowded and touristy and a nightmare as far as parking is concerned. The Great Walk through Noosa’s National Park is only a short drive away from the main street, but so quiet, peaceful, and definitely worth checking out if you are in the area anyhow and tired of crowds!

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We went as far as Hell’s Gates: there are gorgeous views of the cliffs and spectacular ocean views on both sides. Note: only the first little bit of the track is paved/wheelchair-accessible/pram-friendly: the rest is sandy or brushy, so only suitable to do on foot. 

IMG_4823Did I say spectacular views? The ocean behind him was pretty nice too! Also, how was she so liitttle?

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The day had a spectacular finish. David met us in Noosa after work, armed with a quilted blanket and wicker picnic basket. Kezia went home with Heidi in his car, and the two of us + baby headed out for the evening to Boreen Point, a little section off of Lake Cootharaba.

photo5Boreen Point at sunset. The temptation to trespass onto this private jetty and have our picnic there was pretty strong. 

We arrived just as the sun was slipping behind the mountains. The air was still and fresh, hardly anybody was in sight, and the only sounds were tired birds and the mini waves licking the sand.

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After we finished our little picnic and watched the last of the day’s light die ahead us, David took me just around the corner to the Boreen Point Pub, an old building that once resided in Gympie, was cut in half, and transported south to be restored and put to use again. I loved it: the building sat on a hill, with gnarly trees to the side and a vast lawn sloping down the front. All the tables were scattered along the open verandas and under the trees, and it was so fun to sit there with the typical big plates of pub food, listening to the locals chatting around us with their broad accents and friendly demeanours. The whole area had such an old-town, Aussie-outback feel and we loved it. Apparently they have fantastic Sunday lunches there also, with pigs on the spit and up to 300 people spilling across the premises. Live music plays and the adults eat pork and chat at the tables outside while all the kids play in the yard. What fun!

There was one thing I loved most of all that day.  Intimate dates made of fancy restaurants, deep talks, and the stereotypical romance are rarely in the picture right now with a dependent three-month-old who does not care for noise, crowds, late evenings, or God forbid, going an hour without milk. But you know, this is a good kind of different. Out there in the country, after we ordered our food, Ela had a meltdown, induced by a busy day and no proper naps. David took her from me, put her in the baby carrier, and walked back and forth across the lawn and up and down the street to settle her to sleep while I sat there at the table, my heart at rest and basking in romances far greater than goblets or fancy menus and polished crowds. I stared out into the dark where I could just make out the silhouetted form of my husband, bouncing, patting, swaying, walking. The man I love caring for and singing to our child while my heart surged with gratitude for this stage of our lives and for the father of these children. That was what I loved most that day.

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All in the Day of a Toddler: Jesus Talk

It started last week, when she found the hardcover edition of The Passion of the Christ, settled onto the couch and paged through it slowly, pure face etched with concern as she ran fingers down the images of wounds and blood. I noticed what she was looking at and contemplated the fact, usually reluctant for such graphic images to be in the hands of my not-yet-two-year-old. Then, she patted the pictured face gently and said quietly,

“There Jesus. It’s okay Jesus. I’ll kiss it better now.”

Since then, she’s been mesmerised by His death and what it means. We’ve gone through our stack of Bible storybooks time and time again, paging through them slowly. She listens with wide eyes as I simplify the words for her and paraphrase the passages for her understanding.

Yesterday morning, she awoke after several fitful, restless cries, and I went in to hug the bundle of fuzzy pajamas and tempestuous bed hair to myself.

“Mama, I’m scawed!”
“What are you scared about sweetie?”
“Jesus! He’s a bit sad! Does He feel betta now?”
“Did you have a dream about Jesus?”
“Yeah! Jesus cry a bit! But He’s betta now.”

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All throughout the day, she kept her favourite book tucked under her arm and followed me around, asking to talk some more about Jesus and inserting applicable comments about Him into every snack and toy and colouring page. We sat often, her begging for more details, and me, searching my mind and vocabulary for details she could understand: the nails, the cross, the grave, the three days, the stone that rolled away, the facts of living again and going to heaven.

“Jesus in heaven now! Isn’t that cute mama?” And then I faced an unexpected paradox when she cried and crumpled onto the floor because she couldn’t go to heaven as well right there and then.

I am overwhelmed often. Not so much by the normal messes or new attitudes or pre-nap grumpiness, but by the fact that I am responsible for not just a child, but her eternal soul. She stares at me, brown eyes wide with interest and wonder, mouth slightly ajar as her little mind absorbs like a sponge the words I speak to her. She makes innocent statements that deserve acknowledgement and asks questions that make me bite the inside of my cheek till an answer is rapidly secured. Yesterday, I didn’t always have an answer, just a feeling of love so fierce that it physically hurt as it welled up inside, and a sense of urgent care for this tender little heart I’m supposed to shepherd. Yesterday, I didn’t always have an answer, but could only bury my face in those downy curls and whisper desperately to Jesus that I didn’t know how to tell her about Him, but could He please let her love and know Him in wilder, deeper ways than I ever knew?

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Birthday Bucket List: Twenty-Six Things

There’s something about milestones and significant events, be it the start of a new year, a death that crowds the mind with new resolutions and perspectives, the change of a season, or in my case this year, the turning of a year older, this slow inching towards 30.

I’ve never been much of a goal-setter. But this year, I feel a pull in two directions. As mothers, we give. All day, every day. I do not fool myself into saying that we do so willingly or lovingly or cheerfully every single minute, but we don’t have a choice in the matter, and so most times, we love embracing what we’re supposed to do. Yet I, for one, know how easy it is to settle in predictable routines, to wallow in the mundane of Henry’s Bed the eleventh time, the rhythm of morning semolina and bottles, the cycle of doing so many little things yet hardly anything at all. That scrambling for security and identity, the reassurance that I am still my own person under these roles and duties.  My purpose this year is to stop believing the lie that forgoing and forgetting about self is somehow more holy, the epitome of selflessness, or the ultimate purpose of motherhood, but to realise that I was first created an individual, with dreams, passions, goals and hobbies woven into my makeup. Unless those very things are nurtured, catered to, and remembered fondly, my personhood dies slow, unnecessary deaths.

This to say, I can feel that I need to remember to do what I love doing; pursuing the creative things that make me blossom as an individual. 

At the same time, I feel like the same thing of being caught up in our routine as mothers has just as much potential to breed selfishness as selflessness. Though I easily forget to shift inwards, to tend to myself and what makes me who I am, I just as easily forget to keep an outward focus, to make my world bigger than my family.

Without further ado, Twenty-Six Before Twenty-Seven: 

  1. Blog again: Writing is my main creative outlet and I can scarcely even make plans for the day without making a list or jotting down ideas. When I don’t utilise the pen (er, keyboard) I can feel my soul shrivelling up, and I need this discipline in my life again. 
  2. Invite our neighbours down for a home-cooked meal. This sort of thing feels so daunting to me, so it’s something I want to take on just for the personal challenge. I have no idea how many times I’ve whispered Thank You to God for giving me a talkative husband, capable of sailing through the awkwardest of awkward times and making people feel welcome and loved. I try to not to hide behind him or make excuses for myself, but I love that he’s a safe, comfortable person to partner with in hospitality.
  3. Potty-train Kezia. I gave this a shot a while before baby number two was born, but I couldn’t get her excited about it and I refused to push her. In other news, a stomach bug also hit around that time, and let’s just say that I wasn’t brave enough to clean up any accidents besides pee. 
  4. Learn to make croissants. Almond ones in particular. My husband grew up on them, and he went weak in the knees over the ones I brought home from Van Wegen’s the other week. Now that I have a borrowed pastry cookbook in my possession, I’m itching to see if I can get the same response out of him when he bites into a warm, flaky, homemade croissant.
  5. Make Sunday a complete day of rest with no online access. I have no problem with the internet or social media in moderation, but also know how easy it is to tune out to my real world and those around me when I use it. Besides a day of worship, Sunday is also our primary family day and the time when we see other relatives and friends that are dear to us. Those interactions and friendships are far more important than cyber ones. 
  6. Attend a flower-arranging workshop. Floristry’s always intrigued me, but I’ve never gone beyond the tinkering about with greens and blooms at home. 
  7. Attend the local college to begin the preparation course for midwifery. I’ve loved babies all my life and have dreamed for years of both having my own and becoming a midwife besides. I’ve got a husband who cares and cheers, and is pushing me to study a little every month and work my way towards that goal as I can. (There is a huge amount of flexibility in the university, and I would be able to stretch schooling out over ten years if I’d want to…)
  8. Read a Dickens Classic
  9. Run 5 Ks. I can walk and climb hills like a maniac at nine months pregnant, but running? Ha! I currently pat myself on the back if I can make it through two minutes without feeling like a heaving, gulping, dizzy mess. C25K , I’m coming atcha!
  10. Learn French. ‘Cause David promised me a trip to New Caledonia if I let him teach me! 
  11. Make something out of wood. Baby play gym for starters?
  12. Start a new tradition. I love the predictable things that were part of my own childhood (popcorn and grape juice Sunday nights or homemade pizza on Saturdays…) and I would love to do something now to give my own girls those same memories.
  13. Make macarons.
  14. Practice the discipline of purposeful prayer. I talk to God often throughout the day: on the toilet, while washing dishes, and when putting my baby to sleep at night. However, to move past the sort of conversational level where I squeeze my eyes shut, take a deep breath and ask for some special grace, and into that intentional space of interceding and searching and worshipping is something that takes so much effort for me.
  15. Give something homemade to each of my lady/girl friends from church. 
  16. Go to Fraser Island. When I first met David, he was astonished to find out that my family had lived only a couple hours away from Fraser for over ten years and we had yet to visit. A lot of his favourite childhood memories were formed in this gorgeous place of turquoise lakes, white sands and wild dingos, and as soon as we can find a trustworthy 4-wheel-drive to borrow (no roads there, only sand!) and a spare weekend, we’re off!
  17. Cook a cuisine I’ve never heard of.
  18. Go 3 months without scales. This is a long thought-process that deserves its own post eventually, but years of weight + body image struggles have made me realise that I put way too much time in agonising over numbers, and that this would be a valuable step to take. Random fact: I was that miserable teenager who used to weigh 100 kilos . Yeah, for real.
  19. Do something out-of-the-ordinary once a week for David. ‘Cause dating shouldn’t stop after marriage, and a good relationship takes intention and creativity.  
  20. Send a handwritten card to someone once a fortnight. There is hardly anything that gives me the fuzzies more than receiving mail: knowing that someone didn’t just peck on a keyboard, but actually went to the effort of sitting down with pen and paper and driving to a post box to spread some love. It’s an old-fashioned art that I don’t want to lose. 
  21. Take a personal retreat when both girls are toddlers.  Rejuvenate, rest, refocus. 
  22. Host and organise a ladies’ tea. Shortbreads, floral teacups, and pinkies in the air. We all know we love our inner princess. 
  23. Memorise two passages with Kezia. This little girl astonishes me with the songs she already sings from memory, the exclamations she repeats, the questions she asks. It’s made me become so intentional about the things I say, listen to, and pass on to her, because she absorbs everything like a sponge, and I desperately want to channel Scripture and the beautiful things of Christ into her. 
  24. Try a new pattern. I love sewing, but get stuck in what’s comfortable for me or what I’ve always done, and I’d love to try something new and exquisite. 
  25. Attend an Apologetics conference. Ever feel at a stalemate in your faith, longing for a renewed passion and a clear answer for all the whys about Christianity? Yeah, me too. 
  26. Go camping as a family.

Twenty-six, I’m ready for you!

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