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As Melbourne’s seemingly never-ending days of lockdown stretched on, one family decided to take a trip to the moon.

With their feet still firmly planted on planet earth, these parents transported their four-year-old daughter to a whole new world. And they lifted the spirits of a city in need of hope.

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Andrew and Mariya only wanted to make lockdown fun for their daughter Mia. Instead, they unintentionally spoke to the hearts of everyone they encountered. And in turn, they created a hauntingly beautiful photo series capturing the innocence of limitless possibilities, in a world that’s currently overwhelmingly limited.

“The photography part was never the intention, but somehow took on a life of its own when people came across those images,” Andrew explained to Mouths of Mums.

“All we tried to do was find a way to give our daughter back some excitement during the dull days of yet another prolonged lockdown, especially at the peak of the restrictions, when the natural ways of feeding child’s curiosity and learning by play with her peers became very scarce (and the novelty of our previous tricks have faded).”

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“So the whole astronaut thing was first a family craft project, with mum Mariya bringing back the skills from her theatre costume design days many years ago (you never can know when anything we’ve learned might become of use again). And then came the daily adventures and our imaginative stories weaved around otherwise mundane places, and this is something that seems to have outlasted everything else we tried previously.”

“The photographs were just to remember those outings and an opportunity for me to practice my hobby of shooting film (the sourdough was achieved in the first lockdown. After developing a few rolls of film I found the images eerily accurate in reflecting the mood of these days, and thought they’d make nice family mementos, so it was quite incredible and humbling when so many people found them relatable and inspiring after coming across them on social media.”

Thus, an accidental lockdown legend was created – Mia the Rocketgirl.

Mia the Rocketgirl and spacewalks

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Already completely enamoured with space, the lockdown spacewalks injected a whole new layer of learning for the eternally curious Mia.

“We can only appreciate living in the age of the internet, because I’m just constantly looking things up to be able to give her the answers she needs, otherwise I’d be screwed! And I’ve definitely learned more about space, planets, galaxies, satellites and nebulas more than I ever did at any time in my life, not mentioning her other random interests in molecules (because astronauts need oxygen) , viruses (thanks Covid) and oddly ‘timers’.

“Then she would go on and draw the most elaborate pictures of how she envisages things working, be it the solar system, satellites flying in space or a bunch of timers. And it was very eye opening to realise how much children are “pre-wired” to certain interests, as all the dolls or plush toys she always had never received any attention. So yes, you can see why the astronaut suit was the natural ‘go to’ in our case.”

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Rocketgirl Chronicles Melbourne

Melbourne Astronaut Girl 3

Melbourne Astronaut Girl

What started as a way to shake the shackles of another lockdown became daily life lessons, for both Mia and her parents.

“For one – every person, no matter how small, has the power to craft their own experiences around the circumstances that might be too big for them to otherwise change. There are endless discoveries to be made even in your own backyard just with a little bit of imagination, and we always knew it as kids, but sometimes forget when we grow up.”

And the beauty of Mia’s journey of self-discovery is the way it’s sent a sprinkling of space dust toward everyone she encounters. “Smiles all around, you can see it even from behind people’s masks! Children’s reactions vary quite a bit more – from unsure, to evaluating, to, ‘Mum look!’, to a polite, ‘I really like your costume’. And even though the world isn’t without grumpy people, we haven’t come across any of them in this outfit just yet.”

What has your family learnt during the past two years of lockdowns?

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  • I love these photos. What clever parents.

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  • The wonder and imagination of a child, given the time and space.

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  • I love that the family found a very creative way to entertain their daughter in these tough times. Great photos for her to keep and show to everyone. Brilliant thinking outside the box

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  • What a creative family! Love these photos!

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  • How creative!! I live the basketball court photo

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  • I love these unique photos.

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  • I saw this on the news and thought it was such a wonderful, positive and hopeful story.

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  • What a creative ide and something she will always remember.

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  • These are amazing photos. I’m sure she’ll treasure them when older.

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  • Amazing photos and idea! I can certainly see why people are so taken with them. I wouldn’t be surprised if a career came out of this

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  • Weirdly enough I just found these images on Bluethumb last week and have them on my favourites list….Very creative and cool, and fun.

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  • How inspiring and so cool!

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  • That’s a creative idea ! She looks gorgeous :)

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  • Wow, this is just amazing. The photos are so creative and what an amazing memory for this family to have of this otherwise difficult period in our lives.
    Over the last couple of years our family has learnt to appreciate what is in our neighbourhood, enjoying family walks and discovering new parks to play in.

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  • This is great! Lockdown has bought a lot of grief but things like this are cool.

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