29 April 2015

A million and one decisions.....

A wise friend (that's you Angela-Noelle in case you were wondering!) said to me recently not to take for granted the million and one extra decisions that need to be made on a daily basis when you're in the middle of packing up your life to move. And I'm fully starting to appreciate just what she meant by that!

Having not moved cities for thirteen years (or even just down the road for the past eight years), we have accumulated a lot more in that time to have to make decisions over. It seems crazy to think that thirteen years ago we arrived from the UK with 3 tea chests full of stuff and now we have 4 bedrooms and a garage full of 'stuff' to think about - not to mention two extra little people and a cat! And that's after a couple of rounds of fairly vigorous decluttering too I might add!

These are the kinds of things that are consuming our every day right now:

On the cat:
- How do we get Murphy to Cambridge? Fly or drive
- Should he fly or drive - what will be less stress for him? We don't know so decide to ask the vet
- How much does it cost to fly him up? $125
- Will we have to buy a new cat cage if we fly him up? Yes - his one won't be accepted by the airline
- What does the vet recommend? He recommends driving and giving Murphy some anti-anxiety pills to keep him calm on the long 7-hour journey
- Should we get him microchipped before we move and how much does it cost? Yes it's a good idea - $65
- Where will Murphy go if we can't find a rental that will take a cat - he'll have to live at Nana's for a few months which is not ideal (Noah will be a bit heartbroken)

On the kids:
- What school will they go to? We are hoping to have that sorted pretty soon - we think we know which one, just waiting for enrolment forms to be sent. Even though we don't have a rental lined up yet, we have made the exciting decision to build a new house - but that's a story for a whole other post!
- Will they have to wear a uniform? Yes - which will be a completely new experience for them
- When will their last day of school be? Does it make any sense to go back to school for a day or two after our Rarotonga trip? Yes - they want the chance to say goodbye to their friends
- How can we give them a proper farewell with their friends - we have arranged a farewell (in-lieu-of-a-big-birthday party this year) for them and a few friends each at Mission Inflatable
- Does it make sense for them to drive up with us and do we have the space for them with everything else we need to take up in the car? No - so we have booked them as unaccompanied minors (first time for them!) to fly up the afternoon before we leave to stay the night with Nana and Poppa

On the stuff:
- How do we get our stuff to Cambridge? Hire a removal company - that much was obvious!
- Should we pack our stuff up ourselves and save some money? Realistically for both sanity's sake and the fact we will have limited time what with working full-time and a week's holiday in Rarotonga right before we actually leave - ummmmmmm I guess the answer to that would be no!
- Should we pay for the extortionate transit cover insurance available through the removal company or hope that our contents insurance will cover us to the level of risk we are happy to take? We are still exploring this one.
- Will we be able to move our stuff straight in to a house at the other end or will we need to pay for storage and stay with Nana and Poppa for a while? We still don't know!
- What can we get rid of before we go? This is a work in progress - even though much decluttering went on before the house went on the market - this is now round 2 and we are being even more ruthless - it feels good! Many trips to the Sallies, the rubbish skip and a few more things on Trade Me.
- Shall we offer our dining table and chairs (which aren't likely to fit in a new house) and outdoor pots to the new people coming into the house? Yes and they have accepted - so that's a couple less things to take!

On us:
- When should we finish up work? Before or after Rarotonga? After - so we can have a final tidy-up day when we get back and also ensure a decent length handover takes place
- Who will replace us in our role and how will that handover work? I've been busy recruiting for my Accountant role replacement and hopefully have a new person starting in two weeks so I can train her up for a couple of weeks - fingers crossed!
- When will we start work at Evo Cycles? Realistically not till 15 June as Sam and Alesha aren't back from Rarotonga till we are and then Sam will be busy with Fielddays the next week. This gives us a week to get ourselves organised when we get up there which will actually be quite nice!
- Should we invite the new buyers to a neighbourhood drinks meet and greet before we go? Yes and these are being arranged by our neighbours 
- What can we do for a proper farewell to our time here in Welly? An open invite for all our friends to say goodbye at the Southern Cross Bar on Sunday 24 May is the plan just before we shoot off to Raro for the week for Sam's wedding!

So just a few of the million and one thoughts running around in our heads right now!

37 days and counting.......!

27 April 2015

You don't know what you've got till it's gone......{what I'll miss about Welly}

In the midst of project managing the logistical exercise of moving a family of four and cat 550km north (which we're finding out is no mean feat in itself), I'm also finding that as the days begin to count down till we leave that I'm growing extremely nostalgic.

Without a doubt there are many people we will miss - that goes without saying. But with the joys of social media I hope that some of the pain of parting will be diminished knowing there will still be opportunities to keep in touch with those that we really want to.

My wistfulness is of the vast opportunities that Wellington has given us over the years. Favourite places we will no longer have the opportunity to visit. Photo opportunities and glorious scenic locations we will have to leave behind. Gosh I already feel like I'm missing them and we haven't even left yet!

How on earth can I say goodbye to....

Metlink City Safari

The other day I got an email reminding me to register for this awesome family orienteering race we did in May last year. Gosh darn it I'd love to do it again but it's just not going to be logistically possible - it's our second to last weekend in Welly and we've already planned to host a farewell party for the boys at Mission Inflatable. I do hope we can find something as cool as this to do as a family together in the Waikato.

Wellington on a cracking good day 

When we get one of those 'can't beat Wellington on a good day' days it's hard to ignore the pull of the waterfront.  Sure these days can be few and far between, but I have such lovely memories of taking the boys down to the waterfront for bike and scooter rides and a Kaffee Eis gelato when the moment took us. Sitting in the sand - enjoying delicious gelato - playing with driftwood - throwing stones in the sea - zooming down the slide at the park on the waterfront - oh I will miss this being just on my doorstep, knowing that the nearest beach will be an hour's drive in either direction in our new home.


And who could forget the fun we've had taking the croc bikes for a whirl on the waterfront on different occasions?

Our Place - Te Papa

The opening of Te Papa back in 1998 coincided with the first time I ever met Mark. Working at the Museum Hotel was my first job out of university and I just happened to start work the week Te Papa opened amidst much pomp and ceremony. Mark had already been working there for a couple of months (he on his year out from university) and it was over the course of five months working together that we fell in love and entered our happily ever after. Te Papa is a much loved place of ours to visit - especially when we've had lovely family to stay from the other side of the world.

Over the years we've enjoyed many a visit to the discovery centres and various exhibitions that have come and gone - the most recent ones we enjoyed being the Dinosaurs and the Air NZ 75th anniversary.

We plan to make one LAST hurrah to Te Papa in the next couple of weeks to see the Gallipoli exhibition. It has been truly wonderful having such a great national treasure just a ten minute drive down the road!

Our very own enchanted wood (Otari-Wilton Bush) 

Tucked away in a steep valley, just a five minute drive away from home is a place full of the deepest magic. Where the woods are enchanted and light dances through trees as if it were alive. We have enjoyed many a weekend afternoon walk in this beautiful spot - including a wonderful Mothers Day walk two years ago with my lovely boys.

Where the birds sing

We've lived within a stone's throw of Zealandia the whole thirteen years we've been in Wellington. And over that time we have noticed a massive increase in the native birdlife as the predator-proof fence that was built back in 1999 has allowed the rejuvenation of an incredible number of animal species - tui, kaka, kakariki, saddleback, stitchbird, morepork, takahe and shags as well as the opportunity to see a number of reptile species such as tuatara.

For at least two years we enjoyed having an annual membership of Zealandia - popping in whenever the mood took us to walk in the valley that is like stepping back in time 1,000 years.

And then there was the time 14 kaka just flew into our garden one Saturday afternoon - I will never forget that sight.

In the early morning and evening the sound of the kaka call is unmistakeable as they call to each other - a high pitched caw that reverberates around the valley.  What an incredible privilege to have lived in this very spot and experienced NZ's own incredible natural wonders on our very doorstep daily.

Oh but there is still much, much more I could tell you about the amazing city that welcomed us with open arms all those years ago and has truly been the making of our little family, so perhaps next week? See you here.....same time, same place?

24 April 2015

I get knocked down...but I get up again....

The past month has been a very interesting one.

The little thorn in my side (Crohn's) that I guess I'm now resigned to live with for the rest of my life (short of God choosing to heal me of it which of course I know and believe can happen!) has sorely tested me and given my body a darn good kicking which has served to remind me that I really do have limits and I'm not bulletproof like I sometimes believe I am.

When I'm well I can pretty much forget I even have an autoimmune disease, which I know is darn lucky since so many people who have auto immune diseases battle with it on a daily basis. Other than remembering to take my 4 Pentasa tablets a day (antiflammatory for bowel disease) and eating a low gluten diet which seems to help my body more easily process what it eats, I could be any other Joe walking down the street - you would never know the difference.

Often times when it comes up in conversation, I've been almost apologetic and dismissive saying I have Crohn's - prior to this flare up I'd only ever had two real episodes to speak of (one just before I was diagnosed, and one this time last year) and I felt a bit of a fraud to be honest - knowing just how sick some people who have the disease can be.

When this flare up hit, I was quite possibly the fittest I'd been since before having kids - running longer, harder and faster than ever before - even a 10km on one occasion, and a 7km bush run literally 3 days before I got completely wiped out. And it was feeling so good to be that strong! We'd also been eating much more healthily too - I won't deny it it was somewhat motivated by the thought of our Rarotongan beach holiday on the horizon.  The combination of the extra exercise and good eating had seen me shed nearly 4 kgs without even trying and I was feeling pretty darn good about myself.

But pride cometh before a fall! When the Crohn's hit I went from this energiser exercise bunny to being literally incapable of walking much further than slowly around the house with debilitating tummy cramps, and then when the associated fever, body aches, leg cramps and headache hit on top, well it's probably no surprise I ended up in bed off/on for a few days.

I'd really hoped that increasing the Pentasa medication back to full strength would be enough this time - as it had been on other occasions but after ten days of increased medication and feeling no better I then passed what seemed like a huge amount of blood in the toilet with no 2's and I knew that sh*t had just gotten real - literally. So after a lengthy conversation with the specialist, we made the call to go on a course of steroids for 11 weeks to try and get this thing back under control with a view to reviewing my longer term medication once this time has passed.

I wasn't thrilled about this as I know steroids come with their own issues but the fact that I started feeling better after literally one dose made it totally worth it. Do I love the fact that I'm waking up at between 4-5am every morning and then I just.can't.get.back.to.sleep? Not so much. Do I also love the super dry cotton mouth I wake up with? No, but it's a pretty small price to pay in the scheme of things I guess, to now have the ability to function near normally especially with all we still have ahead of us in these next 2-3 months. So far I haven't had to worry about the increased appetite and weight gain side effects you can also possibly expect on steroids - but let's face it after losing nearly 6kg now in 2 months (I lost another 2kg accidentally from not being able to eat properly and feeling so rotten) which is more than 10% of my body weight I think I can probably live with that as an outcome!

By far, the biggest thing that has crushed me is how much it feels like starting from square one all over again with the exercise - this week all I did was a 5km walk one morning, and a 4km walk the next - not even attempting any running and still my glutes, knees, hamstrings and hips were NOT impressed with this afterwards and I even got blisters (what the!) from my trusty trainers just from the walking - which just goes to show that the underlying impact on your physical body when something like this hits and you have to take enforced time off can't be underestimated. It's not just like 'having a break because I feel like it' - it really is completely back to basics. A good dose of patience (not something I'm good at especially with myself!) is clearly required together with a very slow recovery regime where I don't get ahead of myself.

I am still very grateful that I even have the option to choose to take a drug (steroids) that has so greatly improved my symptoms this time round. I'm also choosing not to worry about the long term - I know that Crohn's is a chronic condition and the chances are I will have more flare ups which could get progressively worse over time. I also know the statistics - that 40% of people with the disease end up having surgery at some point to fix sections of the bowel that are irreparably damaged. But who wants to live life worrying about that? Not me. Instead I will choose to be thankful for every day of feeling 'normal' that I have. Every day I can get out of bed 5.30 am and go for a walk (even if it's not a run) is still a good day. Every day that I can be with my children and watch them growing into beautiful boys without the distraction of chronic pain is a good day. Every day that I draw breath and am aware of the unmistakable glory of God in the beauty of the world around me is a day to be celebrated.

22 April 2015

Autumn awesomeness at the Arboretum

The weather was a little grey and dull on Easter Sunday and once again it took us a fair while to get out of the house with the distraction of another game of Phase 10, coffee and hot cross buns to wile away the morning. And who could forget the easter egg hunt - the Easter bunny decided it needed to be an indoor one at this holiday house as the weather was threatening rain, but the boys didn’t seem to mind. What we did mind was the early start - blimin clocks going back always mess things up for a few days, most mornings on the holiday this meant the boys were up before 5am, usually Mylo first, and once one is awake when sharing a room they both are!

On this day we headed inland about 50 minutes into the hills of Gisborne to Rere Falls and Rere Rockslides. I was a little disappointed that the flow over the falls was so minimal, but shouldn’t really have been that surprised given the hot and dry summer we’ve had. After taking a few shots, the drizzle started and we headed up the road to see if any brave souls were taking on the Rere Rockslide - which they were. We’d half contemplated that Mark and Noah might give it a go but after watching a few others do it, we decided that a wetsuit should be a minimum requirement - maybe another time! It was still fun watching a few fearless folk flying down the slide at a rate of knots though.

Next stop was the Eastwood Hill Arboretum - although the drizzle looked to have set in and we weren’t sure how much fun we’d have walking around in the wet for a couple of hours. Luckily we managed to nab a brolly at the visitor centre and just as we started walking the rain stopped! The arboretum is a really impressive place and has been cultivated over decades and decades - there are a huge number of trails and extended walks you can do within its boundaries and you could easily lose yourself there for a whole day. One thing that amazed me in general about the whole Gisborne area was how far advanced the autumn colours already were here - given how warm and dry the region is known to be, but perhaps that's actually the reason why?!

Fairly early into our walk, a friendly little fantail befriended us, flitting from one tree to the next and following us for quite some time. He was a little tricky to get a picture of though, as he never stayed in one place very long!

The boys were so intrigued by the fantail, calling to it and encouraging it to keep coming after us!

After a few minutes, he must have decided he was getting out of his natural territory as we walked further into the depths of the forest and as quickly as he'd appeared, suddenly he was gone again.

I loved this clearing we came upon - the algae (or something like that) made for a glorious green glowing reflection of the light above.

High on the hill we found a conker tree, and the boys enjoyed weighing their pockets down completely with as many as they could fit in.

The views from our vantage point showed the lovely autumn colours turning to their best.

Home made tommy knocker anyone?!

This one speaks for itself really?! Boys just being boys. I must admit I am a little envious of their ability to just go when the moment takes them - especially from one who has such an active bladder and is always never too far away from needing the loo - being able to just 'go on demand' would be kinda handy. That's not to say I haven't done my fair share of 'bush wees' either mind you!

The Eastwood Hill Arboretum is well worth the visit - it wasn't a cheap day out at $36 for the family when really all you're doing is going for a little jolly jaunt in the bush but it is a very, very beautiful spot especially at this time of year with all the colours so well on the turn.

It's a place I can imagine some of our nearest and dearest family and friends who are nature lovers would also be in raptures over!


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