Tag Archives: family


Swingingly well again & we’ve been out enjoying countryside & beach.

Everyone is well in the family again and all the girls have been back at school for a good week and a half. It was brilliant to get some sunshine this weekend to really keep those feel good vibes swinging!


We headed out to Worser Bay to take our puppy for an off lead gallop on the beach (he’s like a miniature horse in full race mode!) and of course have a blast on the ‘big swing’!


It was the first time in ages we’d been out all together as a family on a Sunday morning. With winter weather and illnesses combined it’s been quite a rough few months (our holiday in Singapore over the winter school holidays, in early July, has felt like a distant memory).


I felt like I was beginning to lose the plot by the third week of having a poorly child – or three – home from school (mostly down to not getting out on my regular runs). When we finally saw the light returning at the end of the tunnel we headed away for a weekend in Martinborough to inhale the country air.


The girls enjoyed blasting around the quiet streets on scooters and bikes.

They also had fun identifying the flowers in our garden over there, using an app called, ‘Like That Garden‘.


And they decided to take our rabbit, Fudge, away for the weekend with us too! He appreciated the lush green grass to nibble on!


Whilst our animal friends enjoyed the outdoors we enjoyed some fine refreshments at the gorgeous Vineyard Cafe at Margrain Vineyard.


After returning from Martinborough the girls had a couple more days to full recuperate (with the Monday and Tuesday being teacher only day) before heading back on the Wednesday. We were so pleased to see three smiling faces on school pick up that we celebrated that very evening, with a family meal at Majestic Cuisine.


Hubby and I enjoyed our own private celebration the very next week – with a lunch date and walk on Wellington’s south coast, whilst all three girls were at school.


We lunched outside on the deck at ‘The Bach‘ overlooking the stunning south coast of Wellington, before taking our dog for a walk at the Red Rocks Nature Reserve.


It was a stunning day, with a northerly wind blowing the white caps of the waves back as they rode into the coast, and the white snow capped peaks of the seaward Kaikoura range, on the South Island, visible on the horizon.


It’s so great to have everyone well again and the lighter evenings are bringing a real life to our spirits after the dark, shorter days of winter. We feel really excited about daylight saving commencing in less than a fortnight and spring days rolling into long summer nights.


Plenty more hours in the day to enjoy gorgeous coastal and country walks, time out on the kayak and running by the bays, and evenings to sip at a chilled glass of wine, watching the colours of the sky slowing changing, with the warm glow of the setting sun.


Here’s to staying swingingly well and more sunshine spring days (without too much wind… pretty please Wellington!).


Linking up with….

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall


The Photo Gallery | Colour – on my Birthday

There has been colour from afar, by way of gifts and cards, and colour near to me, by way of nature, food and art. There has been colour in my children’s creations and in the candles, lit to warm the dark. I have been spoiled with loving gifts and thoughts this week, in celebrating my 41st Birthday.

This time last year I was in sunny California, celebrating my big ’40’ with dear friends in Santa Monica. This year I am ‘home’ – where my children were born and are at their happiest, in Wellington, New Zealand.

Wellington, New Zealand

The colours on my Birthday, that filled the sea, sky and flora all around me, where a gift of Mother Nature at her finest. I am so thankful for that gift and the sunshine that made me so happy.

So happy to be in Wellington on my 41st Birthday

My three daughters all returned to school, to begin their second term for the year, on my Birthday. It would have been a day tinged with sadness, at the quiet of the house after the fortnight’s holiday, but my dear hubby took the day off work and we spent it beautifully.

After dropping the girls off at school we headed to Mount Victoria’s town belt for a gorgeous walk, with our puppy Cocoa.

Colour on my Birthday

We then headed home to hang a gorgeous piece of artwork from the artist Fleur Wickes (whom Dan and I met in antenatal classes, prior to the birth of our first daughter, nearly twelve years ago!). I have long been an admirer of Fleur’s work and when she put this piece up for sale I dropped a few hints to Dan!

'It is beautiful here', artwork by Fleur Wickes

‘It is beautiful here’, artwork by Fleur Wickes

I absolutely adore the scale of this artwork and the bold red colour of the words, which call out to me every time I climb the stairs of our home. We have hung the artwork on a large wall on our upstairs landing. It is a beautiful space and somewhere I have often sat to read a book, gazing out the large windows to the garden. The light in this space is bright and welcoming, a perfect place to appreciate how beautiful it is, in our home, in our hearts and in the love we share with friends and family near and far.

The rest of the day was filled with lunch at the gorgeous Shed 5, on Wellington’s waterfront, a stroll through the city and then it was time to collect our girls from school.

I love this photo of them with their Daddy, which I took on the last weekend of the school holidays. It’s full of smiles, colour and happiness, a moment to cherish whenever the clouds cast a shadow on life.

My family, happily together, living back in their home in New Zealand, is the best Birthday gift I could wish for.

Weekend fun at Wellington Regional Aquatic Centre

Linking up this post with -

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery
There's another olive tree! I must climb it!

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’!


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

Sunset over Lyall Bay

Celebrating sisters, over coming anxiety & starting a new school year…

Our 11 year old daughter has been awesome in supporting her 9 year old sister settling into a new school this week. Friends, family and regular readers will know that our 9 year old daughter has been homeschooled these past three years, due to school anxiety; but having made a lot of progress in overcoming anxiety (such as now being able to participate in team sports) she expressed an interest in trying school again at the end of last year.

Her older sister goes to a wonderful girl’s school in Wellington – which she attended prior to our time living in California, and re-enrolled on our return to New Zealand in October last year. Our 9 year old joined her sister, at the same school, on Monday this week.

We were prepared for her start at school to be challenging, as was our daughter; in a two steps forward, one step backward, kind of way. We were also realistic in knowing that for her introduction to school to be a success it would take a huge team effort, with everyone on the same page (family and school united).

My dear hubby had deliberately delayed committing to a new job, knowing how much he would be needed (of course we feel incredibly blessed that he is in a position to be able to do this). We have a younger daughter, about to turn 5 in February, that we didn’t want to be negatively influenced by her sister’s anxiety – and so two parents would be needed to really make everything work. One parent (me) would focus on keeping our youngest child happy, whilst also acknowledging our oldest daughter’s wonderful support and maturity, and the other (hubby) would help our middle daughter settle into a new environment and overcome the physically debilitating symptoms of social anxiety.

So,hubby is taking care of the morning school drop off, liaison with school, as well as settling our middle daughter at night (he’s actually sharing a room with her to help her sleep). He is, in a word, ‘amazing’. The school are also amazing, with the most caring, solution orientated, pro-active, open-minded and attentive teaching staff. The head of the junior school is incredible (from past experience and currently). I really am in awe of her incredible skills.

Whilst hubby is doing all of the above, I am focusing on the simple tasks of keeping the washing up to date, the kitchen clean, the decks clear and the school notices actioned, as well as having the pleasure of  caring for our youngest daughter (who is at home full-time at this stage; since there’s no legal requirement for her to be at school till she’s 6 in New Zealand; and she gets ample socialisation from the local neighbourhood, community and her sisters).

To be completely honest; I am not the best person to support my middle daughter directly – as I too suffer from mild anxiety and depression. I work hard to keep this under control, with regular exercise and mild medication; but find it difficult to cope when there’s extra tension (when our daughter was crying with stomach pains of nerves the other morning, I then spent the morning, after she’d managed to successfully go to school, trying to hide my tears from my youngest daughter and weeping whilst putting the washing away). Later in the day, when the summer sun had cooled a little, I headed out for a mind calming run – returning with my senses alive to every beautiful scent in the garden.

Running and the senses

Thankfully my dearest husband, and friend of 22 years, is a tower of strength, wisdom and patience (he has definitely lived life a few time over!). He’s taking some time out on his paddle board to keep those calm words of wisdom flowing too.

Paddle boarding Lyall Bay

Meanwhile, our dear oldest daughter is settling into Year 8 at the school she loves, whilst being incredibly encouraging of her 9 year old sister, starting in Year 5.

She spent some time selecting positive quote of inspiration – and then printing them off and displaying them above her sister’s bed – as a surprise; so very thoughtful, kind and caring.

Inspiring quotes from one sister to another

Our youngest daughter is also being sweet, in her own little way, giving hugs and being a distraction after school (she’s also helping her Mummy set up a wonderful holiday home we’ve just bought in the wine country capital of the Wairarapa – Martinborough!).



So, big changes at the start of 2015 for this family – but all with a positive step forward too.

On a final note, I’d like to add that I’m opening up in a big way in this post; as from past experience I have learned that sharing helps other people to feel able to open up. I don’t share this for any other reason. Parenting is not easy and the more that people feel they can be open and honest, the better our community will be. It really does ‘take a village to raise a child’ – and as much as I struggle to reach out and be open to this in reality, I am learning, with every step on this journey, how very true that statement is.

Here’s to happy school days (and happy weekends in Martinborough too!) x

Dan kayaking Island Bay

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

Breaker Bay, Wellington

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