Prose for Thought | Salty sea kisses

Summer, I love you, as does my bare skin…

and here follows a poem on the simplicity of summer and how it makes me feel so good, with its long daylight hours and salty sea kisses…

Salty Sea Kisses - a poem

Linking up with…

Prose for Thought
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Summer holiday loves, at home in Wellington

This is such a magic summer we’re having back in Wellington, New Zealand. Having hubby not working has made the school holidays all the more special (and less stressful!) too.

Dan taking the children and their friends out on the kayak in Island Bay

Dan kayaking with Sophie & a friend in Island Bay

We have just over a week left before our two older girls start the school year (our now 9 year old homeschooler is giving school a go – again… we’ll wait and see how that goes! Fingers crossed!!).

Hubby is due to start on a work contract in February and I’m looking forward to having some one on one time with our four year old (though I think she’ll miss her friends, when they are all back at school! It won’t be long before she turns five and maybe asks to join her friends at school too – it’s not compulsory till she’s six, so no rush.).

Despite the school term commencing soon, the summer holiday feeling will linger on a little longer, as we take ownership of a lovely home in Martinborough at the end of January (which we are looking forward to enjoying as a weekender and holiday home). The climate in Martinborough is generally warmer than Wellington, and the bountiful fruit and flowers in the gardens there are definitely evident of that!

Martinborough vineyard

Hubby and I got out together, sans children, last night. It’s rare we get time together, without our little darlings around, and, from the photograph below, you can see how happy we were to enjoy each other’s company one-on-one! We took a walk to the lovely Brew’d in Island Bay and are very grateful to our lovely neighbour for watching over our children, as well as her two.

Rare time together without our dear children

Most of our evenings have been spent in the garden, playing out with the children till the sunsets. We are living with the daylight and loving time with our friends and neighbours. Seeing our daughters hanging out with their friends and building on friendships is magic. There’s been so much impromptu creativity, like this fairy petal shop that one of our daughter’s set up with a friend.

Fairy petal shop

In between garden games and play, we’ve been taking it in turns to escape out for a quick bit of exercise (running for me and kayaking or paddle boarding for the man of the house).

The surf was so beautiful at Lyall Bay this week. Whilst hubby caught some waves on his paddle board, I watched over the children and their friends, paddling in the surf and playing with puppy (also paddling in the surf!).

Enjoying the surf

One evening I walked the puppy to the next bay, with my two youngest children and two of their friends, whilst hubby kayaked between the bays. We met up at the playground and then I headed for a run, whilst he took the children and puppy home.

Walking in the sun

It’s so lovely to be living back in Wellington, with the beautiful bays and rugged hills descending into the sea. The sky is an ever changing canvas. I always think of my dear Mum when I see a beautiful landscape, as she loves to paint with water colours and show me her latest work on our Skype chats. Nature has such a wonderful way of helping to connect hearts across the miles.

Island Bay

I love this sunset over Island Bay and the reflections in the water.

Sunset over Island Bay

Yes, it’s been a good summer. A summer of play and time to be together as a family, without distractions. After all of the travelling we did in 2014 it’s been lovely to start 2015 by enjoying the simple, and yet delightful, pleasures of living in such a peaceful, stunningly beautiful and happy little corner of the world.

I’ve loved waking up to the creative thought of my children (though often their impulse to start creating and experimenting, before I’ve even had a coffee or splashed cold water on my face to wake me up, is hard to be 100% enthusiastic about). Our youngest daughter, like her older sisters – when they were of a similar age – wakes with her mind switched on full power, ‘green’ to ‘go’!

Just a few of her pre-breakfast activities this week…

Meanwhile, our oldest daughter, who isn’t so keen on the outdoor pursuits of summer (that exacerbates her hay-fever), has been busying herself with a ‘Forensics Science Badge’ that she keenly brought home with her from school at the end of term. She’s had me analysing finger prints with her and examining fibres under a microscope – all of which I’ve gladly been party to, so long as I can fuel myself on coffee and ‘run’ time!

It really is the little things that make a happy life. I take so much pleasure from gathering fresh herbs and fruit from the garden (not that we have a large amount growing, but enough to put a smile on my face). I love collecting sweet pea flowers each day, to refresh a small vase on the kitchen windowsill, and enjoying their beautiful scent. I find the power of scent from a flower, the warmth of light from a candle, the soothing feel of an aromatic tea or cup of coffee in my mouth, so incredibly uplifting and calming – and just the balance I need when my children are testing my patience (wine helps too!).

So, here’s to the last week of the summer school holidays, but not the end of summer. Here’s to busy family life and the good times that aren’t always savoured until time allows for reflection. Finally, here’s to our puppy, Cocoa, and bunny, Fudge, that give us such amazing love and opportunities to while away time, just ‘being’ happy at home and in the garden.

Cocoa & Fudge, with Alice

Posted in Lifestyle, School hols, Things I'm Loving | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

The Photo Gallery | Me

The ‘Me’ I am today, in 2015, as a forty year old parent to three daughters, is a very different ‘Me’ to who I was eleven year’s ago, before I became a parent. I wouldn’t have hesitated to head out the door then – for a run, a kayak, a night out, a weekend away – but children change everything; they fill my heart, my mind and my time in ways I never could have imagined.

I love being a mother and am so grateful to have been able to spend so much time with my children in their early years – but I’m also hugely thankful to my hubby for being so supportive and encouraging me to carve out a little time for me (and for us, as a couple). As a parent, I haven’t always been the best at putting myself first and it’s only now, as my children are older and becoming increasingly independent, that I feel more encouraged to take time out for me (and for hubby and I!). I’m learning that by taking a little more time for ‘me’ I can then be more present in the time I do have with my children.

Me and running

The theme for the first ‘Photo Gallery’ of 2015 is ‘Me’ and thanks to hubby being around this summer hols, I am getting out for some decent runs. I’m lucky to have some stunning scenery on my doorstep, which makes running more appealing – but it can also be windy on Wellington’s south coast (with takes me a certain amount of dogged determination to run in!).

With three children and a gorgeous puppy to also keep me busy it’s not always easy to put myself first and head out for a run; but I feel so much more clear-headed, happier and healthier for doing it (plus I feel less guilty about having a little tipple in the evening!).

Without my supportive and caring hubby I wouldn’t get out at all – he often has to push me out the door with multiple reassurances that ‘all will be fine’ (and he also makes me amazing Lattes to fuel my every step!). In turn, he gets out for some exercise on the kayak or stand up paddle board (quite often with a child or two in tow!).

Hubby, kayaking and coffee

So, here’s to a 2015 of trying to balance out meeting the needs of everyone in the family (with a little time for ‘me’, as well as hubby and I having some ‘us’ time!).

[I’m bottom left of the pyramid in the photograph below – along with my three daughters on the top, and two of their friends next to me on the bottom!]

'Me' bottom of pyramid, with daughters & their friends

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Running, bubbles & gin

I can’t say I run because I love it, but I run because I need it. I need how it makes me feel. I love the calm and mental clarity I feel after a run. I love the feeling of elation and satisfaction that I get from setting myself a goal and accomplishing it. I love the flood of endorphins post run and the feeling that ‘I’ve earned my wine / cake / gin tonight…’! [Talking of gin… I have to share this gem: ‘5 reasons why gin is perfect for New Year’s detox‘ … ahem, back to the ‘fitness blog post’!] Most importantly, I love being able to keep up with my three daughters (and puppy, Cocoa!).

I am counting down the weeks (six) till I run my second half marathon. The first (blog post link here) was in the Santa Ynez Valley of California – Santa Barbara’s wine region – May, 2014. I did pretty well for my first half marathon (after following a 12 week training program with the Nike + running App), coming in at the 13.1 mile mark in 1 hour 56 minutes.

It was such an amazing feeling to accomplish something I’d never done before and a great way to kick start the first year of my forties. When I started the training I was feeling pretty beat after 3 or 4 miles (around 5km) and didn’t know how I’d possibly manage the full distance (20.1km). I was amazed at how with diligent training, gradually increasing the distance and pace over the 12 weeks, my body adapted and accomplished more than I thought was possible.

I also learned a few lessons about listening better to my body and stopping at the first sign of injury. The last two weeks of training were pretty much canned due to my stubborn perseverance on a sore ankle (caused by running with tight calf muscles). Still, I taped up my ankle and squeezed into a pair of compression socks, and did that half marathon – I had the extra motivation of running for a good cause (a friend’s son – Elijah – has a rare disease called ‘Prune Belly Syndrome’ and needs ongoing care and treatment).

Anyway, back to the now, and the training. I’ve reached the six week mark, where training steps up a notch. I’m running five day’s a week (so my App instructs me). Tomorrow my ‘coach’ has scheduled 14km for me and I’ll get out there and do it – even though it’ll take a little mental self-talk (to say the least!). The furthest I’ve ran in a long time was 11kms (7 miles) – just this week – and that took a lot of mind over body work!

Easter Island Statue, Lyall Bay, Wellington

If I wasn’t training I’d probably choose to run three times a week, and for about half an hour to an hour (max), and on ‘fair weather days’ (I know, I really need to toughen up!). I’ve found it quite a challenge adjusting to running in the wind of Welly, after running in pretty much the same conditions every time I left the door in Southern California. I really have to grit my teeth and battle on into that wind at times!

I wouldn’t have the motivation to run that distance if it wasn’t for the end goal and knowing that if I put in the distance and the work now, I’ll do myself proud on the day of the half marathon (no matter what the wind Gods of Wellington choose to throw at runners on Sunday 22 February in the Cigna Wellington Round the Bays).

map-21k-1024x723

I also wouldn’t be able to run if it wasn’t for my hubby’s encouragement. We have three daughters that we love to hang out with and it’s seriously hard for me to tear myself away from family, home and responsibilities that come with that.

I remind myself, on every run, that taking the time out to exercise makes me a better parent in so many ways – mentally, physically and leading through example (ahem, apart from the wine and gin consumption… everything in moderation though, hey?!).

So, this Friday evening, the sun is out, the birds are singing their summer melodies (along with the music blaring out from our outdoor speakers – apologies neighbours), whilst I sip a cool G&T, watch over my youngest daughter making amazing bubbles and reflect on the reasons why I run (and give myself a positive self-talk that I WILL smash that 14km tomorrow!).

Bubbles in the garden

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New Year’s Day | Blessed with sunshine, sea & friends

As the sun set on 2014, after an inclement day of weather in Wellington, New Zealand, we gathered at one of our neighbour’s homes, along with other lovely folk in the community that we are blessed to have in our lives, sharing this parenting journey.

Sunset on New Year's Eve 2014

Pizza and puddings was the perfect combination, with fireworks at midnight (for those with stamina – and children able to last the distance!). Hubby and our live-wire 9 year old lasted to see in the New Year; whilst the remainder of us in the family turned comfortably in our beds, listening to the sound of people counting down to midnight and fireworks echoing off the hills.

New Year’s Day we woke to sunshine (and the usually frequent Wellington wind). I was determined to get out for a run and shake off the champagne haze in my head. Hubby fixed me a double shot Latte and not long after I was out the door for a run. Everyone I passed was smiling that satisfied ‘New Year’s Day grin’ – that I interpreted as, ‘Yes! I’m out before midday on New Year’s Day – this is the way to start the year!’ and ‘It’s sunny! It’s sunny! The sun is out, so I must be out too!’ and ‘Hangover? What hangover? This smile can mask the worst of them!’.

New Year's Day run

I definitely felt that New Year’s Day determination of ‘making this a cracking first page of the next 365′ (helps that I have signed myself up for a half marathon in February to keep me motivated!).

My post run grin, whilst being swept by the strong on shore wind and watching the kite-surfers, definitely shows a hint of crazy!

It didn’t take me long, post run, to return to my senses though. A message from a friend, suggesting a rendezvous at the ‘Chocolate Fish Cafe’ in Shelly Bay, was just the inspiration I needed. The family picked me up from the beach (with a change of clothes – thank goodness!) and we headed off for lunch (and more coffee…).

After  lunch and a relaxed afternoon at home, flitting between the spa, the hammock, a good book and a little glass of bubbly (had to raise a glass to my dear folks in the UK!), we fitted in a quick visit to the local boat ramp at Dorrie Leslie Park for a quick kayak. It was incredibly calm, beautiful evening.

Alice & Dan, Kayaking Lyall Bay New Year's Day

All that was left, before the sun set on the first day of the New Year, was to celebrate the calm, beautiful day that had been and hope for many more of the same. Our neighbour and her dear parents popped round for a couple of fine beverages (her Dad was very ‘game on’ in letting our youngest daughter give him a Christmas tattoo on his head!).

And, so it was, with the crazy Englishman and his family, that we finished up a marvellous first day of 2015.

Michael, the 'crazy Englishman'!

Looking forward to many more and hope to see our family in the UK at some stage too. We adored this photo of my sister coming out of the clouds at the Lake District in the UK, taken by her talented other half – photographer Mike Hutton, of Mike Hutton Photography.

Emerging from the mist on the approach to High Street, Lake District,UK. Taken Sunday 28 December 2014.  By Mike Hutton of Mike Hutton Photography

Emerging from the mist on the approach to High Street, Lake District,UK. Taken Sunday 28 December 2014. By Mike Hutton of Mike Hutton Photography

Wishing family and friends in the UK a jolly good start to 2015 and dear friends here in New Zealand a wonderful rest of the summer holidays too. Long may the summer last!
xxx

Alice and I saying goodnight to 2014 in the sun flare of sunset!

Alice and I saying goodnight to 2014 in the sun flare of sunset!

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Posted in Playgrounds & Parks, Running, School hols, Seasons, Special Days | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Beach days, dog days & sunshine paced living

Between Christmas and New Year we’ve had some perfect days; the kind that leave a person feeling completely content at day’s end and very grateful to have a loving, healthy family, living in a peaceful pocket of the world.

Breaker Bay

As I write, on New Year’s Eve in New Zealand, on the last day of 2014, the day itself is not as picturesque as those in the photographs on this post. It’s windy and cool, with the forecast unlikely to make us stroll to the beach to watch the last sunset of the year – but somehow, the inclement weather feels appropriate. This year, for so many thousands of people the world over, has been a heartbreakingly difficult one. The news of ISIS, Ebola, air disasters and other tragedies has been ever present in 2014. As the new year approaches, we can only pray and hope for peace.

In our own little family we are thinking of our family overseas in the UK and have enjoyed a few Skype calls over the festive season. As our daughters have been swimming in the sea, basking in the summer sun, our family in the UK have been wrapping up and bracing the elements.

Swimming at Breaker Bay

The water at Breaker Bay the other day was so crystal clear and calm. We’d gone to the beach spontaneously, having left the northerly beating down on a playground on the other side of the hill. With no swimming togs the two younger girls left their clothes on the beach and took off for a skinny dip!

Our puppy, Cocoa, had a dip too. It was a beautiful place to be and would have been amazing to explore more, with a snorkel and mask.

Breaker Bay

Another evening we enjoyed running on the beach at Island Bay with our dog. It’s a marine reserve area, and dogs are only permitted on part of the beach at certain hours in the summer, but the evening is always one of our favourite times to visit.

Running on the beach at Island Bay with CocoaI love the light as the sun dips down in the sky. The water was so calm and tranquil. Hubby had been out on the paddle board a few hours earlier and returned beaming.

Island Bay

The beach always offers so many impromptu opportunities to run, play and imagine.  Our youngest daughter found a circle of pebbles in the sand and decided to ‘howl’ to the sky! She loves to find sticks too – not just for dog – but often for herself (to make wands or swords).

Island Bay playing

It’s wonderful to know we have a few good months of more days like this, before autumn.

My favourite flower of the season is making me smile at every turn too. I can’t get enough of the red, happy bloom of the Pohutukawa tree – and my youngest daughter is equally transfixed and in absolute adoration!

Pohutukawa trees lining Lyall Bay

I’m carrying this happy glow through into the New Year and so grateful to be living in beautiful New Zealand with my gorgeous family.

Here’s a final smile for the year from our youngest daughter, Alice (turning 5 in February!).

Alice

And a smile from me and our dog Cocoa – who has definitely been the best ‘home coming’ present to our return to New Zealand. It’s great to have a new ‘baby’ in the house.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year! Hope 2015 is a really wonderful one for you, your friends and family xx

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Linking up with -

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Posted in Seasons, Special Days | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments