Special Days

IMG_1421

Paint – Three Generations | A poem

When I read that ‘The Prompt‘ this week was the word ‘Paint’ I knew exactly what to write about.

This past month my dear parents have been staying with us in New Zealand, visiting from their home in England. My dearest Mum loves to paint with watercolours and has been taking classes for a couple of years. The time we have shared with her, and my dear Dad, has been all about enjoying every precious moment and most of those have been spent in nature, tossing a ball to our crazy dog, watching the rabbit, guinea pigs and birds in the garden, as well as playing games, painting, or listening to her play the piano.

This poem was inspired by a very special moment shared painting with my Mum and my youngest daughter…

Paint – Three Generations

Fluid, like her young mind, her hand glided –
across the paper, bringing it to life.
She sang, as the colours of the paint changed,
swirling on the end of her brush.

IMG_1423

Her mother sat near, focused on the paint,
willing the colours to light up a scene,
the way nature had lit up the forest –
where her daughter had left her fairy steps.

IMG_1422

Grandma painted a beautiful landscape,
from a brochure she’d found tucked in her bag.
Her practiced hand painted with passion,
a quiet mind, happy in the moment.

IMG_1421

Three generations, paintbrushes in hand,
leaving their mark, in a moment shared.

© Sarah Lee, 21 January 2016

IMG_1413

 ______________________________________

Linking up with these lovely two bloggers  -

mumturnedmom
Prose for Thought
Sunset over the vineyards, summer time in Martinborough, Wairarapa.

Happy New Year 2016!

It’s been well over a month since I last blogged, but Instagram has been a constant online ‘fix’ and brought back a few memories from the year with the ‘Best of nine’!

britmuminnz_full

The end of 2015 came around so quickly, with our three daughters finishing a great school year in early December (in a flurry of carols, athletics events, prize giving ceremonies, art exhibitions and so on). They came home with lovely art from the year and glowing school reports (phew!).

Alice's cloak

Alice’s cloak

Sophie's character portrait!

Sophie’s character portrait!

The school holidays kicked off with putting up the Christmas tree and enjoying the sunshine with lots of free play in the garden and local beaches and walkways.

Hanging around enjoying the summer school holidays in the garden.

Hanging around enjoying the summer school holidays in the garden.

My parents arrived from England a week later and though their arrival was met with a couple of cold days of weather, we made the most of the time to visit Te Papa and the Dreamworks Animation The Exhibition – Journey from sketch to screen.

Dreamwork's Exhibition at Te Papa

Dreamwork’s Exhibition at Te Papa

We also celebrated our second born daughter’s Birthday in the last few weeks of the school term (knowing that few of her friends would be available to celebrate on her actual ‘Boxing Day’ birthday!). We invited her whole class to a trampoline place for a session of bouncing, afternoon tea and celebration. It was a lovely event and great for her to enjoy a moment to celebrate her Birthday before the Christmas countdown began in earnest. It was a particularly special celebration for her, as 2015 marked her first full year in formal school, after four years of home education.

2015 was also our youngest daughters first year of school and a big change for me – going from having all three daughters being home educated whilst we lived in California, from mid 2013 to 2014, to all of them being in formal school.

Young Alice, with her second milk tooth to fall out - just before New Year's Eve!

Young Alice, with her second milk tooth to fall out – just before New Year’s Eve!

Thankfully I had our puppy, Cocoa the Cavoodle, to keep me company whilst the children were at school and I have loved having time to run, walk and keep the house in order (as I’d previously become accustomed to living in amongst a productive kind of chaos – with several ‘works in progress’ always on the go, as my three daughters filled every corner of the home with their creations, play and experiments!).

Cocoa the Cavoodle

Cocoa the Cavoodle

I was pleased to participate in three half marathons this year and, in the later half of the year, I started to focus on making daily yoga practice a part of my life.

Hubby has a new job with a company called ‘Powershop’ and his work is taking him on business trips to Melbourne and the UK.

The girls are all thriving in their own unique ways. I adore this photograph, from our visit to ‘Lake Ferry’ on the south coast of the Wairarapa, New Zealand, taken over our New Year holiday 2015/16, of my hubby and our three daughters on the beach exploring.

Daddy and his daughters at Lake Ferry, Wairarapa, New Zealand

Our oldest daughter (who will become a teenager this year!) loves art, design, crafting and singing. She has a lovely group of friends and is so super organised (we live in hope that her younger sisters follow suit!). She has enjoyed participating in a Shakespeare production at school and can’t wait to start Year 9, with more opportunities for drama and singing. She’s also looking forward to learning Japanese! She’s great company and my hubby and I really enjoy opportunities to spend some one-on-one time with her.

Our second born daughter is as loud and active as ever! She spends as much time as possible hanging from a trapeze bar, bouncing on the trampoline and doing cartwheels and headstands. In 2015 she took up piano and represented her school in the choir, cross country running and touch rugby. She really had an exceptional year at school and we are so happy to see her feeling settled.

Just hanging around!

Just hanging around!

Our youngest daughter is an absolute delight and such a character. She adores nature and experimenting. She’s always creating, imagining and singing away. She has an imaginary friend called Rosetta and often skips around the garden looking for bugs, bees and butterflies, leaving a trail of happiness in her path.

Alice, river side, New Year's Day at the Waiohine Gorge.

Alice, river side, New Year’s Day at the Waiohine Gorge.

We are now well into the long summer holidays and have enjoyed mostly glorious weather (just a cold snap of a few days, when Mum and Dad landed from their week’s holiday stop-over in Singapore – poor folks were freezing!).  The sunshine soon returned and we enjoyed a good week of sunshine in the lead up to Christmas Day and over the New Year. On Christmas Eve we took Alice, our youngest, to talk to Santa in Kircaldie & Staines, visit the big tree at Midland Park in central Wellington and enjoy an ice-cream by the beach at Oriental Parade.

Christmas Day was perfect and we had a lovely morning of present opening, before strolling down the road for a buffet lunch at a local place overlooking the stunning south coast.

Christmas morning

Christmas morning

My dear Dad tried hard to get a photograph of us all together – but it was like herding cats – impossible… that is until he took a nap on the sofa after lunch – and then the opportunity presented itself!

Granddad caught taking an afternoon nap, captured by Charlotte 'selfie style'!

Granddad caught taking an afternoon nap, captured by Charlotte ‘selfie style’!

Christmas Day luncheon at The Pines, overlooking Princess & Houghton Bays.

Christmas Day luncheon at The Pines, overlooking Princess & Houghton Bays.

The sunshine continued over to Boxing Day, when our second born daughter turned 10! She had a fun morning playing in the garden, lunch of ‘Yum Cha’ at Majestic Cuisine, with her Daddy and younger sister, and then, later in the early evening, dinner at The Southern Cross, where she loves the ‘stone grill’. Meanwhile, I took my folks and oldest daughter around to ‘The Chocolate Fish Cafe’ for lunch, and we enjoyed a lovely little stroll with Cocoa the cavoodle puppy, and searching out a geocache, before catching up with the rest of the family in the afternoon.

After a sunshine blessed Christmas in Wellington, we headed over the hill to Martinborough on the 28th December, to see in the New Year in the countryside.

Rivendell - Kaitoke Regional Park

Rivendell – Kaitoke Regional Park

On the way over to the Wairarapa we made a stop at Rivendell – Kaitoke Regional Park – where the sunshine had brought every person and their dog out for a dip in the river! It was absolutely beautiful and a lovely start to our week long holiday.

Swimming in the river at 'Rivendell' - Kaitoke Regional Park, New Zealand

Swimming in the river at ‘Rivendell’ – Kaitoke Regional Park, New Zealand

New Year’s Eve saw the older two girls doing a ropes course at Patuna Farm Adventures, on the outskirts of Martinborough.

IMG_2226

Meanwhile, my folks and I took a relaxed walk around Greytown, stopping for lunch at the White Swan Hotel, with young Alice and our dog, Cocoa.

Grandma & Alice on New Year's Eve in Greytown, Wairarapa.

Grandma & Alice on New Year’s Eve in Greytown, Wairarapa.

In the afternoon I took a nap with Alice, whilst Mum and Dad did the Rapaki Walk.

Then it was to cool down in the paddling pool!

Daddy sorted for New Year's Eve!

Daddy sorted for New Year’s Eve (with the help of Sophie, a beer and a water pistol)!

We saw in the New Year in Martinborough, calling out to the cows and sheep ‘Happy New Year’ as the clock turned midnight.

Chinese Whispers around the dinner table over our New Year's Eve dinner.

Chinese Whispers around the dinner table over our New Year’s Eve dinner.

My dear Mum was most confused as to why there was no official countdown and ‘Big Ben’ on the television, so my hubby and Dad provided the entertainment – swinging on the yoga trapeze on the deck with a strange bubbly infused style!

New Year’s Day was spent enjoying the gorgeous scenery at Waiohine Gorge, (well my folks, my youngest daughter and I did – whilst hubby stayed at home with the older two, who weren’t feeling quite so energetic!).

Waiohine Gorge and swing bridge.

Waiohine Gorge and swing bridge.

We found a lovely spot at the river’s edge and set up a little ‘camp’ of shade from the sun. The ground underfoot was scorching and too hot for our bare feet on the sand.

Grandma, Alice and I by the river side.

Grandma, Alice and I by the river side.

Shade camp by the river.

Shade camp by the river.

Granddad and the dragon

Granddad and the dragon

Later in the afternoon, when everyone was feeling more awake, we visited the river for a paddle, swim and kayak.

Kayaking on the river by Martinborough.

Kayaking on the river by Martinborough.

It has been so wonderful to have hubby home from work to join in the fun and we shall miss him when he has to head back to work this week; though the long, light summer evenings and weekends still give us plenty of opportunity for playing out!

My folks are with us till the last week of January and our daughters don’t return to school, for the start of the new school year, until February! I am so loving having the house so full and treasuring this very special family time together; though getting out for runs and quiet yoga practice is a little harder to prioritise…

I’ll probably begin again in earnest come February – as I’ve signed up to run my very first marathon this year – The Rotorua Marathon, on 30 April! Before that, I have the Cigna Round the Bays Half Marathon in February to help get my training in gear.

My biggest hope for this year is that my daughters will continue to be happy in their school days and that there will be an opportunity to travel to the UK to celebrate my sister’s 40th Birthday and my Dad’s 70th Birthday – both in September.

Right now, I’m treasuring every moment of the summer holidays and having my family together. Here’s to a happy, healthy 2016! xx

Family. Together. Time, so precious. My heart singing with happiness.

Family. Together. Time, so precious. My heart singing with happiness.

IMG_6771

Celebrating Father’s Day in New Zealand

Father’s Day, celebrated on the first Sunday of September in New Zealand (and Australia), was this year spent with a mix of action and creativity. Two of our three daughters were keen to get their Daddy out for some action and took him to the local recreation centre for an hour or two of roller-blading!

IMG_6209

He did awesomely well and was, as always, a very good sport.

In the afternoon he had a quieter, more relaxing time, building a Star Wars Lego kit with his oldest daughter.

IMG_6303

So a pretty good day for an amazing Dad (only he didn’t get breakfast in bed – not that he minded – but he did get a set of hot chilli sauces, which he very much approved of and remarked as ‘One of the best Father’s Day gifts ever!’. He also got a pair of Star Wars boxer shorts, which he modestly abstained from modelling).

IMG_6223

The week before Father’s Day he’d enjoyed a fantastic morning at the junior school, having been invited to a ‘Father’s to School Morning’.

IMG_6058

He spent the morning playing football and making a car out of scrap materials, after which he enjoyed a lovely morning tea and listened to two of his daughters sing in their respective choirs.

He could have also attended a Father’s Day breakfast, with his oldest daughter – who is in the middle school, but she decided 7am was far too early to be at school for that (and he was quite happy about that!).

So a very happy day celebrating the amazing man of our family, who is the most awesome, entertaining, supportive, helpful, attentive and fun Dad to his three daughters (and a very wonderful hubby too!).

___________________________________________

Linking up with the wonderful ‘Magic Moments‘ at The Oliver’s Madhouse blog

IMG_0056

Magic Moments – spent celebrating our daughter turn 12!

There’s nothing like a Birthday, particularly one of your child, to make you aware of how time flies (and seems to keep speeding up the older they get!).

Our oldest daughter turned 12 today and she’s had the most fun weekend celebrating.

IMG_0049_2

She spent the night before her Birthday celebrating with friends.

They played Laser Tag and arcade games.

IMG_0014_2

After working up an appetite, at Laser Tag, they headed to Fujiyama Teppanyaki Restaurant…

IMG_0025_2

Where they had an absolute blast!

IMG_0043_2

This video sums it up!

My dear hubby, Dan, chaperoned the girls and payed the bill, whilst I stayed home to look after our younger two daughters. He is a brave and amazing man!

The next morning the Birthday girl woke to presents in bed, before being cooked a special breakfast by her Dad (top chef!).

Lunch was enjoyed at The Chocolate Fish Cafe, in Shelly Bay, where we caught up with her dear friend from ‘babyhood’ (who moved to Byron Bay, Australia, at the age of 5). She happened to be flying in on our daughter’s Birthday (1 in 365 odds!) and, since she’d just turned 12 herself, we enjoyed a lovely celebration.

In the afternoon, our newly turned 12 year old (in true 12 year old, busy social diary, form!) headed off to another Birthday party – that of her twin friends from school, who were celebrating with fun at the trampoline park in Petone and dinner at the Flying Burrito Brothers Mexican restaurant in Wellington!

After a weekend of partying our daughter relaxed in a bath (complete with bath bomb – as is the done thing these days) and headed off to bed with a smile. Meanwhile, hubby and I reflected on the parenthood journey thus far, with a proud contentment and hope that there aren’t too many bumps along the path going forward!

Happy Birthday to our fabulous twelve year old! Lots of love from a very proud, and happy, Mum & Dad (and your two adoring sisters, of course!). xxxxx

___________________________________________

Linking up with…

IMG_2165

Celebrating 16 Years of Marriage | Magic Moments

On the 29th May this year, hubby and I celebrated 16 years of marriage, a good fourteen-plus years of which have been spent living as expats in New Zealand; on the opposite side of the world from our birth place of England and our dearly loved (missed and thought about often) families and friends.

It felt like a really special, milestone-celebration; particularly after the past couple years – which have been full of change. Last year we were celebrating in California, where we were resident at the time; the year before we were celebrating in Wellington, knowing our lives were about to change, with a move away from our home in New Zealand, to Santa Barbara, California.

Two years ago we didn’t know what the future really held for our family. Hubby had sold his business and was now working for a big international tech firm, that had bought a product off him and his colleagues. We had a three year work visa for the USA and were pulling our three daughters (then aged 3, 7 and 10) away from their birth place and a home they loved (of particular concern was taking our oldest daughter out of a school she adored).

We didn’t know how any of us would adapt to life in the USA. On the one hand, we envisioned our daughters and us settling into it and then we’d have to decide on the next 5-10 years; on the other hand, we saw it as a ‘working holiday’, of sorts, and returning to New Zealand thereafter – or maybe even journeying back to the UK to live, where my husband and I grew up.

It was a time of huge unknowns and indecision. It was a time of emotions riding high. It was a time when love between a couple was tested and strained. But, we pulled through it all and now, on reflection, it has definitely made us stronger.

In the end…

We made the right decision to treat our time in California as a temporary experience. The first months, where we tried to integrate our daughters into a USA school, were painful and hard. Once we stopped trying, made the choice to follow a path of unschooling / home-learning and make the most of the opportunity to travel and bond as a family in a new place, we were flying.

Our oldest daughter, in particular, still caused us some concern, as she was quite withdrawn in the first six months – but once she had a date set on her calendar, to return to New Zealand to live, she perked up and made the most of her time living overseas. We ended up spending fifteen months living in California and don’t regret any of it, but moved back to New Zealand knowing it was the right decision for our children.

So, after nearly eight months of living back in New Zealand, my husband and I celebrated our wedding anniversary with a delicious dinner at Tirohana Estate in Martinborough, knowing our three daughters were being brilliantly looked after by a couple of our friends and happy to be home. It was a dinner of flowing wine, sumptuous food and easy conversation.

Dinner at Tirohana Estate, Martinborough

I couldn’t stop smiling throughout the dinner and have felt a smile deep in my heart ever since.

Happy 16th Wedding Anniversary!

Marriage is a path of undulating years, of highs and lows, just like life, and right now we are on a high. Seeing our three daughters all finally settled in a school they adore, living in a home where we feel happy and safe, and finding more opportunities to enjoy moments together as a couple (without the pain of sleep deprivation from the early parenting years) we are in a good place.

Even in the middle of winter, I feel happier than ever (and that’s saying a lot for me – I am not usually ‘good’ in winter!).

My darling husband, that I first met when I was just 18, over twenty years ago, makes me smile now in a way I couldn’t imagine was possible. Love is an evolving feeling, changing and growing in its essence, becoming deeper and etched with the experiences of life, like the contours of the land are always changing with the elements. Sometimes, when life is pulling us in so many different directions, that love is tested and hard to connect to – but a true love is ever present, its embers forever burning, to be reignited into a heated flame of passion when life is less demanding.

I feel, right now, that the smile on my lips is thanks to a window in our lives opening wide to let in the passion. Whilst that window is open, I shall value every precious moment.

Happy Wedding Anniversary to my darling husband and friend xxx

Postcards of Love on 16th Wedding Anniversary

_____________________________________

 Linking up with…

Alice always catching sun beams

A letter to my five year old

Dear Alice,

Since turning five you’ve accomplished so much in your young life. Seeing you head off to school with such confidence and independence has filled me with many moments of deep pride (and a few Mummy tears!).

Alice busy at art in school

I wasn’t sure how you would adjust to school life, having never been to any type of pre-school education, playgroup or kindergarten, but obviously your years travelling and living overseas, as well as hours playing with your two older sisters and wonderful friends and neighbours, have been very well spent.

Alice alongside her older sisters (Alice in the middle)

I feel so fortunate to have spent so much time watching you grow into the amazing young school girl you are.

I also feel incredibly grateful to your older sisters, particularly Sophie – who is in junior school with you. They have been so supportive in helping you adjust to the routine of school life.

It’s a wonder to me where this time has gone and I still have to pinch myself that you are no longer ‘my baby’ (though, of course, in a way, you and your sisters will always and forever be ‘my babies’!). Your fifth Birthday, in February, just three, short months ago, was such a happy celebration. It was wonderful to be back in New Zealand, your birthplace, and celebrate with neighbours and family friends.

You are such a kind, caring and loving person, and so brave too. Whenever you feel disappointed, afraid, or hurt in some way, you are quick to take in deep breaths and work out how to calm yourself. You accept comfort and support, as much as you give it to all those that need it. Your personality is one of great warmth and character.

Alice on Mother's Day, 10th May 2015

Alice on Mothers Day, 10th May 2015

I love all your various expressions and the way you burst into song all the time. You have some serious power in that voice of yours! Growing up with two older sisters you’ve been introduced to modern bands and songs, not just the likes of ‘Hi-5′, ‘The Wiggles’ and ‘Play School‘ nursery rhymes. You sing along with your sisters to Maroon 5 (Sugar!), Katy Perry (Roar! and Dark Horse), Imagine Dragons, Wake Me Up (Avicii) and Sheppard’s ‘Geronimo’!

You have finally learned the meaning of what a ‘parody’ is – having listened to copious ‘Minecraft‘ parodies of popular songs for the past couple of years. You used to hear the original song on the radio and say, ‘It’s a Minecraft song, but oh, the words are wrong!’ – not understanding that the Minecraft song was a parody of the original song.

Your mind is a wonderfully creative one and your drawings are a wonderful insight into your world. Imaginary play has always been a love of yours – and still is. You have some wonderful friends in our neighbourhood and play with them for hours and hours, making up stories, dressing up and exploring the nature in the garden, at the beach and on the bush trails that weave through Wellington’s hilly terrain.

IMG_0970

It’s magic to be your Mummy and I know Daddy is filled with happiness at your every word, song, smile and movement too.

Alice always catching sun beams

Lots of love sweetheart, we will always be by your side and with you in your heart,

Keep being you! xxxx