31 March 2011

The City I Love

When I open my curtains to the sight of heaven

And we can be frolicking in the sea in ten minutes

When I am surrounded by the most uniquely NZ bush just a stone's throw from my home

And I can climb to great heights and admire her from on high

When great coffee flows through this city like blood through my veins

And fantastic food is our most basic expectation

When culture is available from the very young to the old, and your inner pirate can easily be found and explored if that's your thing

How could you not be wooed? And won over by this place.

Sure there's the odd lover's tiff - in the form of a nasty southerly storm that rages and attacks the city with its biting words wind for days before eventually losing its power and blowing itself out.

And all is forgiven again when the sun begins to shine again, as it always does.

This is not my original home town. I'm a wandering spirit who has called 'home' many places, some as far from here as a place could be.

And yet...

It is home.

Home is where the heart is. And as long as my family choose to live and love in this place, so will I.

I ♥ you Wellington

Linking up with Sarah's Lyrical Sunday over at Catching the Magic entitled My Home Town

30 March 2011

Wordless Wednesday

In case there was any way I could forget, I am reminded in ways (big and small) that I am totally outnumbered in this household!

p.s. And I love it.

28 March 2011

Afternoon Delight

One weekend. Two playdates. One football match. Three goals. One overtired boy. Decidedly peaky when we picked him up from his playdate. Threw up late Sunday afternoon. Early to bed.

One tired mumma coming down off the high of the Welly Walk. Fighting off a nasty cold all week. Managed to keep it together on Walk Day. But collapsed in a heap on the couch afterwards. Barely moved for the rest of the weekend. Decidedly lethargic and completely spent.

I've never been a sleep in the day kinda girl. Not even with new babies could I really lay my head to rest. Not really. And the little guy hasn't slept in the day for the better part a year. But still a mid-afternoon nap on a warm afternoon beckoned us both today.

The stars weren't really aligned. I felt as if (for once) I could have dozed into oblivion as soon as my head hit the pillow. He, on the other hand, wriggled and giggled and squirmed and sighed for at least half an hour. And then when I had very nearly given up all hope, George monkey was re-located (he'd earlier been thrown out of the bed), the breathing deepened, and suddenly all was still. In fact, the galaxy itself went quiet.

There were three in the bed. Me, him and the cat.

Except, of course, I was now wide awake. But still in love and awe of this rare opportunity to watch this delightful creature who once was but a twinkle in my eye sleeping so peacefully.

I couldn't help a few sneaky shots.

Half an hour later, I felt a little pair of eyes staring dreamily at me. 'Why hi', says I. 'Wasn't that delicious?' To which he agreed. And we both agreed to do it again sometime.

And good to see the (as yet unpainted) rocking horse getting a wee workout this afternoon too.

26 March 2011

Walking the Walk

We came.

We walked.

And walked. About 10.67km in the end. Some of us keen beans even ran, aye Sarah Lee...good on ya girl! You can check out more great photos and Sarah's story of the day over at Catching the Magic.

Pics Sarah text me as she fairly flew around the walk!

We made some new friends. And put our feet and money where our mouths were.

And you see this number? 0.0000001

That's the percentage of money we've raised towards the total cost of rebuilding Christchurch. That's $2,000 towards a cost of about $20bn.

It doesn't seem like much when you see all those zeros does it? But what makes that number super duper cool, is that 1 at the very end. You know why? Because it's more than zero. It means we DID something. That's the number to focus on. It means we've helped. Our little contribution will be part of the sum that will help get Christchurch back on its feet. We did our bit. Our little HAS helped.

I now can't wait to see how our sister walk in Auckland goes next weekend. They're already at $2,400 with a week to go. Go Gail and team!

Thank you so much to all our Welly walkers:

Me, Jackie Field, Heidi Inkster, Helen Cordalis, Naomi Shephard, Phil Cody, Sarah Lee, Katey Salmond, Grace Wang, Marama Ellis, Bex and Nate Clement, Sophie Dunn, Bronwyn Hume, Roxanne Roxburgh, Jess Caldwell, Julia Barnett plus 5 friends, Alison Bowie, Tracy Dyson, Greg & Paula Pollock, Ben Stasiewicz, Nicola Wright, Steve & Kieran Gregan, Peggy Economou, Nectaria Tsourounakis, Melissa & Eddie Smart.

And thank you to all the very generous sponsors who have opened up their hearts and wallets for Christchurch too.

And if you'll excuse me I think I might go soak my feet in a tub of hot water and eat some chocolate ;-)

25 March 2011

Things I'm Loving 25.3.11

This week I'm dedicating my 'loving' post to our firstborn:

♥ Parent/teacher interview 
Went to our first parent teacher interview with daycare yesterday. And came away smiling from ear to ear.

You know in your heart that you love your child regardless. Whether he's tall or short, thick or thin, co-ordinated or not, academic or not, sporty or not, social or not. In spite of......and despite..... you love him.  It's called unconditional, baby.  

So to hear the teachers say such wonderful things about our boy was just the happy tonic I needed this week. Here's a snippet of the little report we took away:

What are Noah's strong qualities?
Friendship, Communication, Confidence, Perseverance

What learning and interests is Noah engaged in at daycare?
Writing his full name, gaining physical confidence on the monkey bars, doing cartwheels.  Construction - building rocketships. Building and strengthening his friendships.

What are 'where to next' opportunities and possibilities for Noah?
Developing Noah's leadership skills by giving him more responsibilities. Getting him to assist with transition of the new children. Developing his interest in writing his name, and support him in writing simple words.

How well does Noah participate in focus time/letter of the week/readers?
Noah is highly engaged in focus time, in any area from arts and crafts to writing and games. He always  participates in letter of the week (we always make an effort to help Noah take something for show and tell each Friday that starts with the letter of the week). He loves the opportunity to suggest which letter the week should be. He enjoys reading his reader and listening to stories.

Are there any concerns you have?
No concerns as he is a wonderful child.


♥ Confidence and Leadership 
We talked some more to the teachers about how Noah was coping with the loss of his main group of friends who have all moved onto school recently. As any caring parent would be, I was really worried about how he would cope with the change. But both we and the teachers have noticed that, if anything, his confidence has grown in leaps and bounds over the past few weeks. Being the 'big boy' at daycare has been a great opportunity to start to develop his leadership skills instead of always being able to cruise along being a follower.

 Day out to Petone on the train with Grandma & Grandad

♥ Resilience 
I look back now and realise how little credit I gave Noah when I was worried about how he'd cope with all this change. I was especially worried how he would cope this week with the loss of Grandma & Grandad going to back to England the same week that his best buddy B headed off to school. But we've heard not a murmur. He understood that Grandma & Grandad had to go back to their home. He got it that B's time had come to go to school. And has just accepted it as life and has moved on. But he's still looking forward to two playdates, one with B on Saturday and another with another old daycare buddy A on Sunday.

♥ Friendship 
It has been so heartening to see Noah building new friendships now that all his older friends have moved on. This week I was so moved to see him interacting with another boy at daycare. We'd left daycare and he was yelling 'Bye C.....' as C walked off down the street. Suddenly C ran back down the street and gave Noah a giant bear hug and I heard Noah say 'let's have a playdate and a sleepover'. My heart melted.

Friendships on the football field

♥ Patience and perseverance 
I think we could all learn a thing or two from Noah. He is ever so patient. He will often ask for us to do something with him when it's not quite the right time. When we explain that he will need to wait for a few minutes or wait until later, he is so good at waiting or understanding that it's not the right time right then. But he's also very persistent. If you ask him to wait, don't worry he won't forget. Memory like an elephant that one!

We're off to meet the principal of his school on Monday. He doesn't start till the beginning of August but it'll be a nice early introduction to the school, and we'll have the opportunity for three school visits in Term 2 as well.

Oh my boy, you are growing so fast. I can still remember the day you were born. The day you crawled, walked, and talked. The day you started daycare. The day I had to hold you while you went under general anaesthetic. The day you flew halfway around the world with us. The day you became a big brother. And the day you said 'I love you'.

Love ya, gorgeous. So, so much.

Linking up with Paisley Jade's weekly Things I'm loving linky:

24 March 2011

Stream of consciousness

It's a warm afternoon. I've just woken up from my midday nap and I've got energy to burn!

Think I'll ask Mum to take the lid off the sandpit and fill up the paddling pool.

Then I'll find as many balls as I can to throw in. Again. And again.

Hmm....I know there's more balls hiding in the house. I'll go take a look.

What's that strange noise I can hear....a motorbike starting up? Better stop and have a listen.

I wonder if balloons can float too?

What's in here? Water? Oh goody. Pretty please (I sign 'please' and say 'peez' at this point just to make sure Mum gets it) can I have some in a can just the right size for me?

I wonder what happens when you mix sand and water? Oh I see, a nice muddy puddle.

I think this is where these are supposed to go? If I try hard enough, I might just be able to figure it out

Oooh, this is nice for me teeth. It makes a rather fun, rude squeaking noise at the same time too that seems to be giving Mum the giggles...what's with that?!

I wonder if I'll win any brownie points if I make it look like I'm helping clear up some of the mess I've made.

If I recall rightly,  there's some dice in here somewhere.

Wow, this shaker makes a cool noise. Forget the game, it's totally fun just shaking these around a bit, tipping them out and putting them back in again.

Oh look, Mummy's lined up all the pigs for me. Better show off my pig noises then. Oink oink.

Man I get a lot done in an hour. I'm a machine.

As observed and interpreted by Mummy over a lovely one-on-one hour last Sunday afternoon.

23 March 2011

Mini Makeover

What's a girl to do when you are totally lacking in inspiration and can't be bothered writing a post?
Answer: Tu-tu with fonts, pages, buttons and the like.

Hopefully, you might actually be able notice a few small changes around the place
  • A stylish new font
  • Some new family photos and updates on The Whanau page
  • A collection of my favourite posts of the past year on the Blogging page
  • Some new links to our recent Christmas and Beach holidays on the Adventuring page
  • More links to recent yummy recipes on the Cooking page
  • Updated links to photobooks, word art photos and photo boards on the Creating page
  • There's even an MNM's button on the sidebar to grab for your own page

Take a look around and see if you likey.

A little bit of change now and then is good, right?!

21 March 2011

Recipe: Maureen's Bran Muffins

My first taste of these little beauties was when we were travelling around the Kruger Safari park in South Africa in 2002. Mark's aunty Marigold who we'd been staying with in Johannesburg packed us off on our travels with a few days' worth of muffins (her friend Maureen's recipe) to eat for our breakfast. They have since become somewhat legendary in our extended family.

I have memories of eating these while driving through the park very early one morning and seeing a mummy and baby elephant walk out onto the road right in front of us...wow. When Mark first tried them, he was awfully suspicious that the sunflower seeds were mouldy...not aware that's just the green colour they turn when cooked in this recipe....ha ha!

As we left after our South African adventure, Marigold kindly gave us her own copy of the recipe to take on to the new life we were embarking on together in NZ. You can tell a sure-fire winner in our house by how well worn and covered in food the recipe page is. Judging by this page, it's a firm favourite wouldn't you say!

These muffins are super quick to make a big batch (about 22), use oil instead of butter and are full of sultanas, bran, sunflower seeds and coconut, so not only tasty but half healthy too!

So without further ado...

Maureen's Bran Muffins 
makes approx 22-24

1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 cups bran
2 1/2 cups wholemeal flour
2 cups milk
2 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup raisins or sultanas
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 heaped cup coconut

Mix oil, eggs and brown sugar together until sugar dissolves. Add bran, flour, milk, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla and mix until all mixed in. Add sultanas, sunflower seeds and coconut - stir in.

Bake at 180 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

In memory of Mark's aunty Marigold who passed away in June 2009.

20 March 2011

Things I'm Loving 20.3.11

Blessed to be a blessing

You know...I'm beginning to realise more and more that it doesn't take much to be a blessing.

This week it was a box of surplus toys our boys won't miss, which instead can be a blessing for the children at Heathcote Playcentre in Christchurch who are having to start all over again. I had really wanted to donate some toys but didn't have enough time to get these organised for the initial round of goods donations that went down south straight after the quake. But after searching on the special Trade Me Earthquake Help site, I came across a listing asking for toys. An email or two back and forwards to the lovely girl organising from her end to see what toys they might like, and this box is now safely at her mum's place in Christchurch.

And on Friday, I also attended our work volunteer day called MAD (Make A Difference). Last year it was clearing bush tracks at Zealandia (which was pretty hard physical work in the middle of winter in the rain). This time round I opted for a day whitewashing walls at the Wellington City Mission for Youth Education Centre.

They cater for up to a dozen 14-16 year olds who have been kicked out of the mainstream education system. The centre is, for most of them, their last hope of getting an education and, hopefully for some, reintegrating back into the main school system. After hearing some of the stories of the teenagers backgrounds, I came away so incredibly thankful both for the family I was born in and the one I have since married into. I hugged my boys just a little bit harder and longer than normal when I got home on Friday night.

Last Hurrahs

We so enjoyed our meal at St Johns Bar all those weeks ago when Grandma & Grandad first arrived that we couldn't help but return to the scene of the crime for our last hurrah. And it didn't disappointment this time round either!

Bargain Hunters

Trotted off to the annual Kelburn fair Saturday morning. We go along every year, most of the time coming away either empty handed or with a sausage in bread if we're lucky. I particularly hate the bun fight inside the church hall where you can't move for people and you either get stepped on, someone grabs the very thing you've got your eye on, or you get up close and personal with someone else's B.O. Not my idea of fun.

But it turns out this year was our year. Within two minutes, Mark had picked up two Scalextric slot car sets for $10.  He's been talking about wanting one for ages "for the boys" - yeah right. They need a bit of a clean up, at the moment the tracks are a little rusty in places and the cars don't go quite as well as they should, but we'll make the best of putting the two sets together and have some great old fun zooming the cars round the electric tracks.

He had to promptly carry the sets home as we'd walked to the fair which was nearly the undoing of him so I'm just glad they work! Thankfully, he then thought better of it and returned with the car...just as well after I then found a wooden rocking horse for $5. Yep, you heard right. Five dollars! A little lick of my favourite Coffee Bean brown Resene paint and he'll be all gallant again (instead of a bit girly like he is now!).

There's not so much I can do to de-girlify the plastic pink moonhopper I also bought for $1, but Noah was happily bouncing around the lounge on it all weekend so I don't think he minds that it is bright pink. Mylo clearly wasn't bothered either?

And yes I did consider how much like a cows udder the moon hopper looked like when in said child's mouth before I posted these pictures! He being completely oblivious, just loved the sensation of having some teething relief for those eye teeth still coming through. 

My little Troll Doll

Spot the difference?!

Zoo crew

As ever, an hour at the best 'little zoo' in the world was enjoyed by all last weekend, especially Grandma who hadn't been for a year, and Grandad for two. It was really noticeable to them all the fantastic new development that has happened in that time. That's what I love about it. Always improving the experience both for us and, more importantly, for the animals too.

And absolutely no zooming needed on that giraffe shot, I actually could have kissed him, his mouth was that close!

Sharp Sharp Sharp

My husband that is. Y'all know he's a bit of a wheeler dealer when it comes to buying and selling on Trade Me and Ebay. Him and his dad (who he gets the k..nack from) have had all manner of fun this holiday on the look out for something to wheel and deal on.

Enter this small old-school pocket computer they found in a Salvation Army shop in Wellington last weekend. Purchased for $10.

And a week later sold on eBay for $160. He's got the eye that boy. Pretty sharp.

You know what...I think I'll keep him round for a bit longer ;-)

Joining up (somewhat belatedly!) to the Things I'm loving linky over at Paisley Jade's place.


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