Three daughters, all at school! A VERY new chapter!

After twelve years of being a very full-time stay at home Mummy (including three and a half years homeschooling my middle daughter, whilst caring for my third born from home all her first five years, and fifteen months living in the USA, where all three daughters were homeschooled) I am now the very proud (and extremely thankful) Mummy of three school girls!

Three daughters all at school!

They are all at an amazing private girls school in Wellington, all thanks to my wonderful hubby doing so well in his business (so we can afford the fees), and it’s the best feeling to see them all off to school knowing they are ‘in it together’ and happy. They are so fortunate to be able to go to the same school together and share so many wonderful experiences.

This Friday marks the end of the first week that they have all been at school every day, for full days (as we’ve been slowly introducing our youngest to school with half days; since her fifth Birthday in mid-February). Alice, as a new entrant to the junior school, was gifted a gorgeous beanie toy of the school mascot. She cherishes it greatly, taking it from home to school – and back again, with great care.

Alice and her school mascot puppy, along with one of her sisters!

Having all three of my daughters at school together is a hugely momentous time for our family. I am feeling quite stunned (whilst also elated) and am grateful for my lovely dog, Monsieur Cocoa, to keep me in good company (as the silence in the house will take some getting used to – though the Easter holidays, just around the corner, will soon have me wishing for quiet again!).

Monsieur Cocoa at Lyall Bay beach

Talking of Easter, I loved Alice exiting the school gates waving a palm frond in tribute to ‘Palm Sunday‘ this week. She’s also excited about singing in Wellington Cathedral, in a school Easter service next week.

Come term two I will be a very ‘new woman’ and I am looking forward to filling my free hours, whilst the girls are at school, with a hundred and one projects I’ve stored in the back of my mind over the past twelve years. But, right now, I am taking a moment to reflect and cherish the wonderful years I’ve been so fortunate to have shared at home with my daughters; whilst also starting on those 101 jobs!

This week I organised a handy man to move a fitted wardrobe from one of my daughter’s bedrooms into the laundry (aka ‘art room’). My daughter is having a room makeover at the moment, and the fitted wardrobe has been made redundant as a result. It looks AMAZING in the new space and I am so looking forward to seeing the creations that come out of this room over the Easter holidays!

My laundry room (aka art room!).

I’ve also spent this week doing a lot of dog walking – passing playgrounds and beaches that I have frequented with my daughters, in all seasons, through the years.

Dog walking in Welly on the town belt landThe memories have been running through my mind, in a kaleidoscope of images, bringing heart swelling feelings to my body. It is a new time in my own personal journey as a mother, and also as a wife to my wonderful husband.

Lunch at Elements

We met for a celebratory lunch this week, at the same cafe we’d visited when our first born was just a few weeks old, ‘Elements Cafe‘ in Lyall Bay.

Gorgeous lunch at Elements Cafe, Lyall Bay

At that time, over eleven year’s ago, we’d just visited a lactation consultant to help with the feeding problems I was experiencing, and had been told to take ourselves off for lunch, whilst our dear Charlotte was looked after for an hour in very caring hands.

I remember us sitting there, as ‘brand new’ parents, feeling extremely sleep deprived, physically in pain from my nipples down to my cesarean scar (after a hoped for home-birth went to the opposite extreme!) and very emotional. Fast forward, nearly twelve years, and we were sat there again, with so much to reflect upon and be thankful for.

Three beautiful, healthy daughters, growing up in a beautiful country, New Zealand, that we’d never imagined living in, when we met as students at Southampton University, in England, when we were in our late teens.

It’s been quite a journey and there’s so many more adventures ahead, on this next, very special chapter of our lives.

A new chapter

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Outdoor loves from Martinborough

Last weekend was spent with friends, in the beautiful countryside of the Wairarapa, at our Martinborough home.

In the backyard in Martinborough

The weekend was full of special moments in the sun, made all the better for having good friends to share it with. Our three daughters each had a friend, their age, to buddy up with – which made for incredibly easy parenting! Hubby had his friend to accompany him to the ‘BrewDay 2015′, whilst I had my dear friend, since 1997 and my early years in New Zealand, to hang out with.

Here’s some of the highlights –

  • Seeing the joy on my husband’s face, after an afternoon at ‘Brewday Martinborough 2015‘. Also delighted that my oldest daughter, and her friend, cycled along to meet up with my hubby – so they could enjoy the music and fine food at the Brewday!

Happy hubby after Brew Day 2015 in Martinborough

Te Kairanga

My personal highlight was watching my youngest daughter and her friend tuck into an old fashioned ‘toffee apple’ (took me back to my youth!)… I ended up eating most of it though!

Toffee apples!

Alice, age 5, and her friend tuck into a toffee apple each at the Te Kairanga Farmers Market.

Also adored the cheese, the olives, the fruit… yum, yum, yum! I was especially impressed with this steam engine ‘cooker’!

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Whilst at the market we were joined by my eldest daughter and her friend (again!). They both had bicycles for the weekend and absolutely loved the freedom of exploring Martinborough independently.

Charlotte & her friend sampling the food delights at BrewDay!

Charlotte & her friend sampling the food delights at BrewDay!

They also spent a lot of time discovering a few geocache locations, as well as inspiring my middle daughter (and her friend) to do the same!

  • Sharing an evening of tears, laughter and reflection, whilst watching ‘The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel‘ with a wonderful friend, of many years, accompanied by my oldest daughter and her friend. The ‘Circus’ cinema and restaurant in Martinborough is an absolute gem. The older girls delighted in having the most divine desserts served to them on a proper plate, (with a metal fork, no less!), in the cinema theatre itself (whilst my friend and I enjoyed a lovely glass of wine each!).
  • Taking our dog for a walk with my youngest daughter and laughing at the inevitable slowness of it – as she stopped to climb every single olive tree along the path (and there were a number of them!).

There's another olive tree! I must climb it!

  • Watching the children play in the hammock and the paddling pool (as well as Monsieur Cocoa, our dog!).
Sisters hanging out in a hammock in the Martinborough sun.

Sisters hanging out in a hammock in the Martinborough sun.

Sunset over Houghton Bay, Wellington

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Poignant moments from my week in Black and White: The Photo Gallery

Black and white is the theme this week on ‘The Photo Gallery’ and it is especially poignant as I struggle to let my youngest child ‘go’, and settle her into school.

I feel like my wild butterfly is being closed up in a box, of sorts, and having her wings clipped. The vibrant colours of her rich and beautiful character are being tested.

Butterfly

I find the time after school (she’s only doing mornings this term), and weekends, so incredibly precious. I took the photograph below today, after school, at the local beach; a mere ten minutes walk from our home. The sun had lost its burn, as it was around 5pm, but the heat of a wonderful New Zealand summer was still in the air, and her innocent nature drove her to take off her clothes and splash in the waves.

playing in the waves

Whilst I witness her assimilation into school, I am nurturing her colourful personality outside of school and fighting to retain her uniqueness and natural vest for life. I have great faith in the school she is attending. I see the older students there retain so much of their unique personalities and spirit, whilst also gaining a top class education. I remind myself of this every day, when doubts creep up on me.

Settling her into school is going pretty well on the whole, but it is of course an emotional time – especially as I haven’t spent more than a few hours away from her at a time (apart from that one weekend, when she was four, that I travelled to a Uni friend’s wedding in England for a long weekend – I was living in the USA at the time, making the logistics easier than travelling from New Zealand!).

It’s especially hard as she has no prior experience of being in an educational setting. She’s having to learn, very quickly, how to ‘fit in’ within the setting of formal school – where a tie is a mandatory part of the uniform (even when the summer temperatures sizzle on), sitting with crossed legs and arms, not asking endless questions – but to hold her hand up in the hope she’ll be picked (thankfully class numbers are small, so the chance is more so), not singing when the whim takes her – but waiting till morning tea and lunch to let her lungs burst forth with song, or at formal ‘singing’ practice, keeping her shoes and socks on, even when her natural inclination is to run barefoot, not dance and move with physical freedom, but be constantly mindful of her body in respect to others in the classroom.

This is all in very stark contrast to the life she has led thus far. Less than six months ago she was living in Santa Barbara, California, in a beautiful home with a pool in the back garden. She spent most of the day without a strip of clothing and dived in and out of the swimming pool as the fancy took her. She sang her own parody to the Phantom of the Opera song ‘Sing to Me’ – singing ‘Swim to Me’ at the top of lungs in the pool, she baked alongside me, played with her older sisters (who were also home educated during the fifteen months that we lived in California), spent mornings drawing in the garden and evenings playing with her Daddy. We sat over morning tea and observed the different birds that frequented the garden, identifying them alongside a bird-chart, we marvelled at the speed of the humming bird, as it hovered to gather nectar. Our lives were without time constraints and deadlines. Our lives were blissful and in the moment.

Now, we are in a different chapter of our lives. We are learning to live with alarm clocks, deadlines and systems. We are reintegrating, whilst still trying to hold on to everything we learned throughout our time travelling and living, very much, in the moment.

Thankfully we have a special buddy to help us with this… Monsieur Cocoa, our seven month old puppy.

Monsieur Cocoa at the playground playing peek a boo

Joining in with ‘The Photo Gallery’ at Sticky Fingers on the theme, ‘Black and White’

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Life is a changing!

There have been so many momentous changes in our family life this year so far. This week, by far, has been the biggest. I have experienced, for the first time in nearly twelve years, having all three of my daughters AT SCHOOL! I have soooo many feelings about this. My emotions are on a non-stop roller-coaster ride at the moment and getting out for a run is the one thing keeping me sane (and wine, of course!). So it’s just as well I got a long run in on Sunday – my second half marathon since turning forty!

#CignaRTB #raceday !! #halfmarathon #Wellington

A photo posted by Sarah (@britmuminnz) on

I was so chuffed to beat my personal best and ran the 13.1 miles in 1.48.53!

I’ve also seen my previous homeschooler (till she was 9 year’s old – with the exception of a year in ‘Kindi’ at the age of 4, and two terms in school at age 5), settle into school. Not only is she settling well, and overcoming the anxiety that has held her back in earlier years, but has also put herself out there and volunteered to make up the numbers for her school ‘Touch Rugby’ team. She played her first game this week and proudly represented her school with amazing confidence.

Our eldest daughter is straight back into her fitness love – dancing – this year. She’s now doing contemporary, jazz and tap. She has also taken on a new sport this year – golf (which delights her Dad)! She gets a shuttle bus with her fellow students after school, straight to the golf course, and we pick her up afterwards.

Our youngest is meanwhile adjusting to school life slowly, by just doing mornings for this term (which is exhausting for her!). She has unfortunately come down with a cold at the end of this week, so we will have to start next week afresh. I am absolutely savouring every moment I have with her after school.

She is such a nature lover and is often to be found in the garden with our dog and rabbit, or chasing butterflies.

After school, half day for our new entrant, spending precious time together at Shelly Bay.

A photo posted by Sarah (@britmuminnz) on

I’m just so grateful that our dear fur baby is able to help distract me from a nervous breakdown with my dear babies all now at school! I enjoyed a beautiful run/walk with him on my youngest daughters first official morning at school.

I also paused for thought on all the amazing times I have enjoyed with my dear babes in arms, whilst acknowledging the exciting, yet challenging times, ahead! So, I shall keep running, and try to keep smiling (though I admit to a few tears this week; the new entrant teacher had to ask one of her students to pass me the ‘magic fairy wand’ to help quell the tears rolling down my face! I was trying so hard to hide them too… quietly at the back of the class. With that wand in hand I gave the young students in the class a thumbs up and an Oscar winning smile of ‘I’m all good now!’).

I paused for a moment, on this hill, with my dog, & acknowledged the passing of my time with my babies. They are, as of today, all three at school, and my time at the playground, with babes in arms, is over, for now… Till I'm a *hopefully*, one day, a Grandma that is (after my daughters have lived and adventured well!!). For now, the hills are mine to roam again – with my four legged friend for company – at a pace of our choosing. We have after school and weekends to still linger at details with the youngest of our 'pack' – she who makes us stop, notice, and live in the moment. I do hope, now she's started school, she manages to hang on to that magic – & not let the awareness of time, and keeping to the clock, diminish her awareness of the present. It took me a long time to regain that which I once knew, instinctively as a child, & lost growing up. It was #motherhood that brought me back & that is one of the greatest gifts my children have bestowed upon me x

A photo posted by Sarah (@britmuminnz) on

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This blog post was inspired by Tara at ‘Sticky Fingers blog’ who set a theme of ‘Health and Fitness’ on her weekly linky, ‘The Photo Gallery’.

Health and fitness, for me, is all about balance. I was a young child that was forever active; dancing, running, cycling and climbing, a teenager that started to become less so and a young lady in her late teens and twenties who lost her way on the path of balance. Those party years, of my twenties, were passed over by my ‘breeding’ years of my thirties and now, in my forties, I feel like I am finally getting the balance. Sleep deprivation is less of a problem, now my children are all past their preschool years, I have more windows of time to get a moment of exercise in and keep my mental health on balance, and my nutrition is inspired by wanting to set a good example to my children (consequently we eat our fruit and veggies, but indulge in treats too!!).

My next running event to look forward to is the Martinborough ‘Round the Vines’ in the Wairarapa of New Zealand. I’m only doing a 10k (as the 21K is a repeat of the 10k – and I couldn’t face running past all those vineyards TWICE without stopping for a wine!). I look forward to getting out there, running that course and having a wee tipple with a friend afterwards! What’s more, the proceeds of the event go towards the Martinborough School – what’s better than running for a good cause?! xx

Posted in Alice, Learning & growing, New beginnings, Our pets, Photo Gallery, Running | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Rock scrambling in Wellington with Monsieur Cocoa

Wellington’s coastline is a rugged one, with a mix terrain of beaches, from sandy to pebbled and everything in between. There are well known bays and others so small they have no mapped name, but are undoubtedly given names with affection by locals.

Lyall Bay

This past week we’ve taken a few strolls from our home to some of the local spots on the south coast. It’s been fun to scramble on the rocks, with our dog ‘Monsieur Cocoa’, and explore the sea treasures washed up with the tide.

Rock scrambling with CocoaOur oldest daughter has recently become interested in geocaching, which gives her a fun incentive to get out for a walk with a friend and find treasures of a varied kind! She’s so enthusiastic about her new found hobby that she’s planning a trip to our holiday pad in Martinborough to spend a weekend doing it!

She’s discovered a few geocaches around our Wellington home already – and had fun taking her youngest sister to find one.

Exploring Welly's southcoast & geocaching

It was quite a windy day, so Monsieur Cocoa was staying close to our youngest; making sure she wasn’t whipped off a rock into the sea!

Cocoa and Alice

I love the way he circles around her and stays protectively close as she scrambles across the rocks, from one rock pool to the next.

Alice and Cocoa

Adorable!

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Linking up with….

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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Mini Creations

So many changes this year for our family of five.

We have gone from having three children ‘unschooling’ whilst living in the USA for fifteen months, to having two children at school and one about to make her first school visit!

Meanwhile, the amazing man of the house has returned to work (but not too onerous hours – so still plenty of time to wear his wonderful ‘Dad’ hat!).

Mummy is feeling quite giddy with all the changes, but anticipates feeling like a ‘new woman’ by the end of 2015! The thought of having child free lunch dates with hubby, after nearly twelve years of being a stay at home Mumma (homeschooling for nearly 9 of those years), is delicious indeed! Ahem… anyway, moving on to the point of this blog post – and that is to proudly show-case the creations of the three amazing children those occasional adult only moments created…!!!

Our youngest (who has turned 5 this last week) was inspired to create jellyfish out of clay…

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Our oldest daughter (coming up 12 in June!), put together and decorated this ginger-bread house as past of a fun ‘new school year’ activity. The ginger-bread was pre-made by a cafe (and tasted absolutely delicious!), so she can’t take the glory for that – but the decorating and building skills were top notch. She brought the finished work home from school on her Daddy’s Birthday – wonderful timing!

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Whilst our middle daughter, age 9, has been doing so exceptionally well in adjusting to formal schooling, after being home-schooled most of her young life. She gave a wonderful speech in class about ‘Needs, Wants & Responsibilities’ and is currently away for two nights on her first ever school camp! She was very nervous about going, but her wonderful Daddy has gone along as parent help. He sent me this photo of her whizzing down a water slide today (and though it’s not a ‘mini-creation’, I reckon she deserves a huge ‘shout out’ for being so brave!!).

Water slide whizzing!

 

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Joining in with ‘Mini-Creations

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