March 31, 2014

week five

Perspective is everything.
Rainy night, smokey bbq, a side-of-the-road guitar and a popa willing to sing "twinkle, twinkle"
... to the beat of her own drum.
Sibling love bomb = mama heart explosions. Best equation ever.
"Come inside my house, mama!" - imagination at its finest.
His favourite song at the moment is Riptide by Vance Joy. I downloaded the lyrics so he could sing along... Sometimes at night we recite them together in the dark before he closes his eyes. I get a lump in my throat cause I know he's gonna get the words right.
Little grubby face - the sign of a good day.

March 28, 2014

heart to heart with: luisa brimble

Every week we'll bring you a conversation with a Mum; a conversation that took place in real time via Facebook messenger. We haven't edited it or made it pretty. It's just what it is - a heart to heart conversation between mothers. This week, I had the opportunity to talk with the ridiculously talented Luisa Brimble; mother of two girls, food and lifestyle photographer, and the founder of the much anticipated Alphabet Family Journal. The excitement surrounding her latest project is unreal - did you know they blew their Kickstarter goal completely out of the water? We couldn't be more proud (or excited for that first issue!) Today our conversation covers everything from being awkward, having a good support system, the "terrible twos", and balancing life as an artist and mother. Luisa's attitude toward life is refreshing, inspiring and real. You'll leave this one with a permanent grin - promise.  -- Kate

Luisa Brimble
mother, photographer, editor-in-chief  |  |


Kate: Hello, sweet Luisa! Just popping in to let you know I'm available to start our 'chat' here whenever you get situated. I won't hold you up for long ;)

Luisa: hello kate how are you? all good ready when you are

K: Wonderful. I'm great! Let’s start with all the basics… a general introduction, perhaps? Your name, how many children? Your occupation and anything else that interests you outside of being a mother?

L: hah! ok here we go. My name is Luisa Brimble and I have 2 girls - Beth who's 8 years old and Poppy who's 3 years old. I'm a food & lifestyle photographer and also the founder of Alphabet Family Journal. Ohhhhh what interests me outside of being a mother???
ok still thinking of that last question ha ha ha…

ok usually though my outside of being a mother my life evolves in reaching out to other creatives mainly someone who I recently met and organising some kind of collab shoot

K: I have to tell you... I have been nervous about this interview since the moment I found out. Ha! I am quite excited to have the opportunity to chat with you today. I've admired your photography work for years now. You are such a tremendous inspiration to me!

L: Oh you're funny! Why are you nervous????

K: If you and I were talking in person right now, you would understand just how awkward I am when I first get the chance to meet someone I've admired. No lie, you are one of the "superstars" of photography for me, so this was a big deal!

L: ohhhhh you're way too kind so funny because i was feeling exactly the same thing when I was on a skype chat with Parker Fitzgerald last night. insanely nervous but at the end of the day we're all just normal peeps right? bahahahhahahahahahahhahahaa oh totally would be the same if i am in the same situation. but it's only for few moments then you relax and it's just like chatting with friends really.

K: Haha : ) Absolutely. So, what does a typical day look like for you?

L: Typical day would be and this is would mean that I went to bed at say 2am previous night… it will be that my priority will be to sleep until i really need to get up which will be at 8am then start getting Beth ready for school, I prepare her lunch, give Poppy breakfast and all in the space of 45 minutes. I make sure that I finish shooting by 1.30pm at the latest enough time to pick up Beth at school by 3pm.

Then afternoon activities start, prepare dinner and Chris (my husband) comes home and plays with the girls. I will then start work around 6pm - i.e. editing, research, emailing, follow up etc etc… phew geez writing all that makes me all tired ha ha ha the late nights though catches up on me sometimes. so i will end up having a week of late nights and a week of sleeping early say around 11pm

K: That is an absolutely jam packed schedule. It seems that you've got a good rhythm going, though. Do you find that it helps to have a general flow to the day?

L: Yes definitely helps to know what's going on. I do plan the day depending on whether there's photoshoot. I prefer to do all the shoots though during the weekend rather than weekday. Because on weekdays I take Poppy with me and I'm just very lucky that she's happy to sit or watch me work. On weekends Chris looks after the girls.

K: That’s wonderful that you have his help! I remember that photo you took of Poppy with a floral crown - was that on set for one of your shoots?

L: Ohhhhh which one is that one of Poppy? ha ha ha possibly or if not maybe just playing around during photoshoot ha ha ha.

K: Do you travel a lot for your photography?

L: Travel as in Internationally?

K: Travel as in anywhere, really... but where have you been outside of the country lately? I ask because I have only left the United States once and am itching to explore!

L: I travelled on a couple of times domestically and to Paris & Barcelona last year but that's about it. As glamorous as it sounds travelling takes a lot out of me. I miss being with my family and when I come home it takes about a month or so to get back into the rhythm of things.

K: Of course! That's so wonderful that she loves to come with you, though (and that you bring her along!) She must think you're the coolest mum ever!

L: Bahahahahahahhaahahah I love to know what she's thinking. Possibly something like 'Oh mum I don't want to go to a photoshoot I want to stay home and play' :)))) But I think coming with me on photoshoots she's a lot better when you ask her to pose for you. It was hard with Beth - to convince her to stay still for photos ha ha ha

K: If only we could get into the minds of our children... wait... I take that back. I'm dreading what my two year old thinks of me sometimes. Did you ever go through the "terrible twos" or "terrible threes?" We are in the midst of all that craziness right now and it is... tough.

L: Bahahahahahahahahaha oh I'd love to be able to know what they're thinking so funny what they say sometimes. Ohhhhhh yes we do have incidences of terrible twos or threes but we always think of it as a stage in their lives that will pass.

K: I know! I was telling Sofia (my oldest) that she was hilarious and that she cracked me up, and she looked at me quite puzzled and asked, "like an egg?!” Haha.

L: bahahahahahahhahahahahahahahaha oh imagine having the power of switching from an adult thinking to a kid thinking?

K: Now that would be something, wouldn't it?!

L: I was wondering that wouldn't it be awesome to be able to do that so that we understand our children when they're feeling frustrated.

K: That is such a good point, Luisa. I love that! Can you tell me about your favorite moment as a mother? Something you’re really proud of.

L: Favourite moment would always be when both our girls say 'I love you' to either myself or Chris without being prompted to say so. Followed by a cuddle. For me that will be the ultimate. There’s loads of those.

K: Oh... that first unprompted 'I love you’ It makes your heart swell, doesn't it?

L: Yup exactly that! right there.

K: Is parenting anything like you had expected?

L: Well it's hard for starters, the hardest job ever. It's definitely not for the faint hearted. To be honest seeing Beth & Poppy grow up and all the joys that comes with it I'm seriously thinking we can so totally do it again for the 3rd time ha ha ha.

K: It can be so challenging... but the tough moments often lead to miraculous learning experiences and our capacity for love just continues to grow - hence, more babies hahaha

L: Well said! Boom! Can I steal that answer? ha ha ha

K: Of course! All yours!

L: bahahahahahahahahahahahahha. As you can see I laugh a lot

K: You're a very funny lady! I wish I wasn't halfway across the globe!

L: I love a good sense of humour not taking life to seriously. Always moving on.

K: That's a good philosophy to have. I think it lends itself well to motherhood, too!

L: Imagine that???? Do you live in Chicago?

Whereabouts in Chicago?

K: I do. We are just south of downtown, by the Midway airport.

L: How far are you from Amanda Jane Jones?

K: Oh, I would say maybe 15-20 minutes. Just a quick drive up the lake!

L: Have you guys met in person yet?

She's the one I want to meet one day too

K: You know, I went to one of the Kinfolk events last year, but it was before she moved to the city. And I haven't gotten in touch with her yet...  but I have no excuse not to!

L: I would if I were you!

I’m jealous :)))

K: Haha!! All of these wonderful creative mothers out there. I was talking to a friend of mine recently about being a mother and and artist... it's a challenging combination! To have the time to devote to your craft, yet still devote one-on-one time with your children and truly get involved in their lives... how do you handle that juggle?

L: People ask me that all the time? How do you do it???

Geez looking at my day to day schedule I already find it hard. But I think with Poppy as she's with me the whole day she seems to just follow where ever I go. We play for small bursts or take her to a playground, come home and sometimes she will be happy to play on her own

But my work really starts when girls are in bed from 7.30pm onwards.

So I just work straight from then until 2am :))))

At the end of the day we just make it work for us.

K: Ah, burning the old midnight oil! Well it's clear you are just doing a wonderful job :)) I'm so thankful we got the chance to chat!  If I can, I'd like to ask you one last question: is there any piece of wisdom you'd like to share? Maybe advice you wished someone had told you?

L: Oohhhhh wisdom... let me think… Still thinking

K: Take your time.

L: I guess living life not being dictated by too many rules, whatever life has given you then you make the most of it through kindness, love and generosity, same thing we teach our girls. I believe that in this life you get given the life you can handle both the joy and pain.

... still thinking more…

Like now I overthink the answer to this question. Well it's best not to overthink things right :)))) Best moments happen when it's unscripted. even in photoshoots. Best shots of the days are the one you least expect

K: Those in-between moments... the ones that sometimes would go unnoticed if you weren't looking. Beautiful.

L: Exactly those!

K: I like your take on life, Luisa. I really do!

L: bahahahahahahahha you're making me cry Kate!

K: Oh my goodness, no no please don't cry!

L: ha ha ha nah just a lump in my throat

K: I think sometimes we forget the good work we do every day, even if it's just doing the daily drop off in our PJ's our a quick trip to the park.

L: It's nice to be reminded every now and then

Hence it's great to have a good network of friends and families who supports you

K: That community of supportive friends and family is so vital, isn't it? Bonding together without the fear of judgement... it's a tough job, motherhood. Having support is so crucial!

L: So very true. Hence I really love what you guys are doing at Wholehearted bringing community of mothers which in effect inspires others to reach out.

K: I am happy I got to snag an hour of your time! Thank you so much, beautiful. It was a pleasure getting to know you better!

L: Thank you Kate so very much for the opportunity to chat with you. Really truly honoured and privileged to be part of this

K: We are so thrilled to have had you!

Photos of Luisa and family courtesy of:  Annette Wilson

March 26, 2014

#wholehearted collective | 04

If you haven't checked in lately, the #wholehearted hashtag on Instagram has grown immensely since we first launched just four short weeks ago (over 1500+ moments and counting!) We feel such gratitude as we scroll through each week, seeing images that make our hearts happy. It's a magical feeling!

This week's selections were curated by Lou - we hope you enjoy each of these photos as much as we did.

Keep on tagging your images with #wholeheartedjournal for your chance to be featured next week.
image by @lifeoftoi
image by @lemonrhodes
image by @snippetsandsunshine
image by @pitterpatterclunk
image by @oneclaireday
image by @nicole_humphrey
image by @danceypantsdisco
image by @gizandchip
image by @hippieindisguise

March 24, 2014

week four

"The greatest secrets are always found in the most unlikely places." -- Roald Dahl  [Charlie and the Chocolate Factory]
Stirring from sleep - beautiful, innocent (yet resisting on school mornings)
I have learnt to let her hand go. Let her explore on her own. She will come back.
A typical day for me - marker scribbles, an under-dressed insistent toddler, and her forgiving sidekick.

And just like that, she is five. 

The 7 & 8 year olds in the house have more of a social life than the adults.

March 21, 2014

heart to heart with sam duke | world down syndrome day

Today we recognise  World Down Syndrome Day and invite you to join along - Jodi had the pleasure of chatting to the beautiful Sam Duke for this weeks 'heart to heart' about the joys and challenges of mothering Stevie. Be warned - tissues may be necessary to watch this video (shared with permission):

mother  |   Instagram @dukedukedukeduke

- - -

Jodi: Hello

Sam: Hello! I made it on time. Can't remember the last time I was on time to something...

J: haha, I was always on time until I became a mum. Now I always run a good 15 minutes late - to everything

S: Me too. Hence why we are here while our little ones are sound asleep..

J: yes. How are the girls?
and how are YOU?

S: They are good! I'm wondering where the past near 2 years has gone! Katie is 2 next month and Stevie is 18 months...time to go again..? Haha

J: You're considering it?

S: Some days, yes! But then other days I'm glad our wedding is in October this year so it keeps me waiting a while longer. Think it's only fair to our girls that we concentrate on these years with the 2 of them before our attention is thrown elsewhere...

J: How many months pregnant were you when you welcomed Katie into your family?

S: So I would have been 4 months pregnant. 
It's no wonder that I fell madly in love with her when I set eyes on her (considering I was in maternal overdrive eager to meet my "first child")

J: How old was she at the time?

S: This was when she was first born..

J: I'm still in awe of you. Did it take a lot of consideration or did you just know, in your heart, that it was right?

S: My partner was great. Katie is his immediate niece (biologically) and he can now admit that he didn't want her to go into foster care, but at the time didn't want to put any pressure on me, given we were expecting our first. 
But in our heart we both felt she was our little girl.

And little did we know what an important role she would play 5 months later..

J: Yes, so five months later you had Stevie and...

S: I just took a big deep breath...

When Stevie was born we learnt that she has Down Syndrome.

J: Did you learn that moments after her birth?

S: Yeah. My partner and I learnt it as soon as we lay eyes on her. As did the team of pediatricians that were suddenly all around us...

J: How did it feel?

S: Like my world had been torn in 2.

J: Were you holding Stevie or did the doctors take over?

S: I didn't get to see her till I visited the special care nursery. She was pretty much bounced from my chest to the doctors within seconds of her being born. She had breathing problems. So it wasn't until I went down to special care that I knew.  I remember not knowing how to ask.. I said something like "have all the tests that need to be done at birth been completed..? And my partner then said 'does she have Down syndrome?" This was all without us having had private thoughts to each other. We both just knew.

J: How did you react? - physically and emotionally.

S: It was by far the hardest moment I've ever experienced. I had 9 months where I built up expectations of my birth, breastfeeding, my baby and our future. And in a matter of seconds all those expectations were shattered.

J: How did you get on with it? Because you had to, didn't you...

S: I would say it took a couple of months before we came to terms with it all enough to start enjoying her. And yes, to begin with we got on with it because we had to.. But it was hard to deal with a situation so unexpected, in an unexpected environment. Stevie was in Westmead Hospital for the first 3 weeks so I was being a mother on the nurses terms and it was hard to feel like a mother until we got to bring her home! That was when reality set it, and I had to be a mother.

J: What was it like, when you brought her home and you began to accept?

S: Amazing! It was all the things I had read when receiving a crash course on Down Syndrome from Google in those first few weeks. 
"The shock will go away" 
"She will be the best thing to have happened to you"
I remember reading these words and thinking I’d never get there. And now although I can recall those early days, I can't imagine feeling any other way about her. The love she gives is a love that is indescribable.

J: I think all pregnant women think they'll fall in love with their baby at birth. That's not always the case...sometimes it takes days or weeks or months, but when we fall we fall deep and hard.

What health concerns did she have in those first few months?

S: It's so true. I remember having such guilt over the different emotions I felt from when Katie was born to that of Stevie. But it was just fear of the unknown.

J: And shock. As for guilt - oh mother guilt, so powerful

S: She "only" had gut issues. She had this repaired when she was 4 days old which allowed her to start feeding a week later.. When I say "only" - she has been very lucky with her health.. It's very common for babies with DS to have heart defects.

J: How important was family support in those first few months? I suppose you relied on your tight-knit family more than ever then...

S: There's a mountain of health issues they're more prone too. But some good luck, a gluten and dairy free diet along with supplementing has kept her out of hospital.

It was so vital. I've always had strong family relationships, but they reached a new level through this time.

J: When did you start connecting with the local down syndrome community? Was it confronting for you?

S: Everybody just wanted to make it better.

It took me a while to seek out all the available resources, groups, intervention that is out there. 
Everything I read was U.S. based and when I finally found a Facebook group, I found a mum Robyn who opened up a world of resources through other parents, play groups and therapists..

This was how I met other young babies and children with Down Syndrome and it helped me so much because I was seeing my future. And my future looked brighter, immediately.

J: That must have been quite a momentous time for you, as a mother

It was massive. It helped me see Stevie for who she was. Yes she has Down Syndrome like these other toddlers, but each of them SO different. It's something that I'd love to see society change. And it all comes down to awareness. The more awareness, the more you see a person, not a disability..

J: ...and I presume that most people, strangers, see the disability first...

S: Some do, yes.. But I've never heard a comment that I've taken offense to. All have come from a good place.

People will often say 'she looks pretty mild, you can barely tell she has it' as though it's a nice thing to say.

Stevie has Down Syndrome: she has the beautiful almond eyes, the low set ears, the flat bridged nose - but it's these common features along with lots of her parents features that makes her who she is.

J: She is gorgeous!

S: I know I'm biased, but she really is so beautiful.

J: So what has it been like, to have daughters five months apart?

S: Full on!

J: I bet.

S: They are complete opposites. Stevie the rough, stubborn, determined, feisty child. And Katie, so eager to please, needy, sensitive, uncertain..

But the best big sister. Already they are learning so much from each other.

And me, from them!

J: What have you learnt about yourself?

I've learnt that I am stronger than I gave myself credit for.

I've learnt how important it is to look after yourself because as a mother, for your children, you have to!

I've just started a 21 day meditation wellness project to 'recharge' - but even then I find myself doing at night so I'm not interrupted by the sound of my two gorgeous alarms in the morning

J: you really mothers, we keep everything going. But we have to be kind to ourselves, too.

S: Easier said then done sometimes. I have my partner constantly reminding me to have 'me' time..

J: good on him!

S: And the girls don't mind it either. Daddy's girls. Particularly Stevie. She's got him wrapped round her finger..

J: haha, you can see the cheekiness in her eyes! I think it's time I let you get some rest but I just wanted to ask you....what would you say to a mother who has just discovered her baby has down syndrome?

S: That with every challenge, you will be rewarded twice as much. 
That hospital visits and therapy sessions come and go, but the love your child will give is forever.

J: Thanks, Sam, for your honesty. Much love to you and the girls x

March 19, 2014

#wholeheartedjournal collective | 03

The enthusiasm of our Wholehearted community continues to delight and comfort us… and is reflected in the number of #wholeheartedjournal hashtags on Instagram… a big THANK-YOU from all of us here.  It does, however make our selection process for the collective a little tougher… in a way that we are truly grateful for!

This weeks selections were curated by Ali, and to make the process little easier she decided to base her choices around the theme of 'hands'.

Joining the chosen images you will find a beautiful poem that resonates deeply with her.

image by @fieldsofsage

image by @tamararamberg

image by @littlebuckles

 image by @emmacameronsummer


Her Hands

by Maggie Pittman

Her hands held me gently from the day I took my first breath.
Her hands helped to guide me as I took my first step.
Her hands held me close when the tears would start to fall.
Her hands were quick to show me that she would take care of it all.

Her hands were there to brush my hair, or straighten a wayward bow.
Her hands were often there to comfort the hurts that didn't always show.
Her hands helped hold the stars in place, and encouraged me to reach.
Her hands would clap and cheer and praise when I captured them at length.

Her hands would also push me, though not down or in harms way.
Her hands would punctuate the words, just do what I say.
Her hands sometimes had to discipline, to help bend this young tree.
Her hands would shape and mold me into all she knew I could be.

Her hands are now twisting with age and years of work,
Her hand now needs my gentle touch to rub away the hurt.
Her hands are more beautiful than anything can be.

Her hands are the reason I am me.


image by @ladyroxtar

image by @minmohd

All photos were selected via the #wholeheartedjournal tag on Instagram.

March 17, 2014

week three

Do you ever feel like you click kids in and out of the car 50,000 times a day?
Beside my bed there is a peek of inside me. Books & Music - Soul Food.

It is both wonderful and somber to see her displaying such fierce moments of independence. Space to breathe.

When they're not fighting they are overwhelmingly affectionate. Heartwarming.

One on one time is super important. Tom is so different when Grace isn't around, and she is the same. He shouted me an ice-cream with his savings which he keeps in a shoebox under his bed. He said to me 'I've got this Mum'. I gripped is hand even tighter.