Welcome to my little slice of life, where I enjoy blogging about our family adventures, holidays and experiences at home and abroad. Often the best fun of all is that which can be experienced in one’s own back yard, and we are very fortunate to call Wellington, New Zealand our home.
I started writing this blog when my first child was born in 2003 (before Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), wishing to keep a record of our lives and keep an online diary – of sorts – that family in the UK could easily check in on. Over the years it’s become a wonderful treasure chest to look back on and a way of keeping our adventures ‘alive’. Everyone has a story to tell and as a child I loved listening to older family members telling me stories from their youth. I write this blog for my children, my family and for me – to keep the memories alive.
This blog also became really important to my mental health when my children were younger. I found that focusing on the positives at the end of each weekend helped me adjust to parenthood in a HUGE way. None of my three children were ‘sleepers’. I was sleep deprived for much of my thirties. I was constantly struggling to keep myself upbeat (when a cloud of depression kept hounding me). I survived on coffee, sunshine days, fresh air, naps and some medication prescribed from the doctor. I worked hard to not focus on the mess and chaos, but on all the magic moments of my children’s younger years (hence the name of this blog – ‘Catching the Magic’).
A little history…
My husband and I met way back in our University days, in 1992, in Southampton, UK.
A work opportunity gave us the chance to travel to New Zealand in 1996 and so began our love affair with the land of the long white cloud – ‘Aotearoa’. We kayaked the Abel Tasman, hiked the Milford Track, white water rafted, learned to ski and so much more.
After an amazing experience we headed back to the UK, in 1998, enjoying a month travelling up the East coast of Australia. We had taken our relationship to another level in February of that year – when Dan asked me to marry him at the Marlborough Food and Wine Festival, on Valentine’s Day.
We were married on 29 May, 1999 and three months later… (no I wasn’t pregnant) Dan was asked to return to New Zealand and take up the position of CIO for an electricity market company. It was really hard for me to leave my family after just a year living back in the UK, but this was an amazing opportunity for Dan and we still wanted to explore more of the southern hemisphere, so – with the blessing of our families – we headed off.
This time we became New Zealand residents and in the year 2000 we bought our first home, in Brooklyn, Wellington, New Zealand.
I found a job with a much loved organisation – the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-NZ), based in the beautiful Botanical Garden of Wellington.
In 2001 I became quite ill, with glandular fever, and then, in early 2002, I was diagnosed with depression. I left my job and worked on getting myself back to good health… which then led to my first pregnancy!
Our first daughter was born in the winter of 2003, with snow on the distant hills surrounding Wellington.
Two and a half years later our second daughter was born, just after Christmas, in 2005.
Our town house in Brooklyn started to feel small and impractical (with 20 steps to the front door and then another 10 or so to the living area) and so we began looking for a home on a flatter section (not easy in Wellington). In early spring, 2006, we moved into our second home, on the south coast of Wellington. We no longer had a view, but we had a flat section, a lovely home and garden, sheltered from the wind and a short walk to the beach. Perfect.
A year later Dan set up his own service management company, along with two friends, ‘You Do’. A spin off of that was ‘Beetil’ which came to the attention of US firm ‘Citrix’, who ended up buying Beetil in 2012.
In the midst of this our third daughter was born in February 2010 and completed our family.
Over the years life has thrown us some unexpected surprises (as it does). Our second born daughter didn’t settle into school well at all (at the age of 5, as is the norm in NZ – though legally children do not need to be enrolled in school until the age of 6).
We made the decision, at the end of 2011, to home educate her, and then continued to do so when we learned about us potentially moving to the USA as part of the sale of Beetil to Citrix.
In August 2013 we left our home in Wellington and flew to Santa Barbara, California, USA to live (check out the blog posts of our time there). Our children were aged 10, 7 and 3 at the time. We didn’t know how long we’d be there for. My husband had a 3 year work permit with Citrix. In the end, we stayed there for just over a year, returning to live back in our home, in Wellington, New Zealand, in October 2014. I home educated all three of my daughters during that time, as our attempt at school in the USA just didn’t work for us. It was whilst living there that I started running regularly – and ran my first every half marathon (I’ve since ran a full marathon – in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand – and find running so important for my mental health more than anything else!).
Anyway, our daughters were happy to be home in NZ. They loved their experience in the USA, but New Zealand really is their home and the reason we felt such a big pull to return. We feel very grateful for the opportunities that have arisen in our lives and it has been worth all the hard work and the logistics of moving.
Our daughters are growing up in a beautiful country with lovely friends. At the current time we have our oldest daughter in school (she’s very fortunate to have the opportunity to go to an amazing private girl’s school in Wellington and she loves it with a passion) and our two younger daughters are home educated, within a wonderfully supportive community (As the saying goes, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ – and I’m very grateful for my ‘village’!). I should add that our children have chosen their educational path (with our support) and each year we review this. As parents we are very aware how fortunate we are to be able to afford the luxury of being able to support them in their individual pathways to adulthood.
Our nearly twelve year old daughter, Sophie, has experienced a total of one and half years in formal education, our youngest daughter, Alice, (seven) one year (on our return from the USA and because she wanted to try and do what her oldest sister was doing). Our oldest daughter (fourteen) has been in formal education most of her life (apart from when we went to California – where she was home educated). It was because of her that I first started to look into home education, as her first year or two of school weren’t her happiest (as I wrote about in my poem, ‘A Mother Knows‘) – but things got heaps better from there (especially when she moved to the school she’s currently at).
That’s our story, in a nutshell, so far!
Over the years I’ve met some wonderful people through this blog – even a few that have visited New Zealand, from the UK, and ended up emigrating!
If ever you are visiting Wellington then do say ‘Hello’. I love a good Latte, a good wine and a good run (not in any particular order!). I don’t write as much as the early years (Facebook, Instagram and my children growing up and becoming good company – most of the time – to hang out with – mean I have less time – also they stay up way too late – I’m normally ready for bed before them!).
Thanks for stopping by,