08 February 2016

2016...what the heck?!

So.... I'd just like to know who went and turned up the time dial to crazy speed?! The last weeks of 2015 and the first six weeks of 2016 have been and gone leaving what feels like a trail of destruction in their wake. Here we are in the second week of February and it honestly feels like the first time I've been able to pause to catch a breath and take stock.

This pausing has been somewhat forced on me as I've come down with a nasty head cold and can barely think straight through a foggy brain. I know it's as a result of being 'go go go' for so many weeks straight without stopping, and as usual when I push too hard, my body gets to a point when it says 'enough already missus if you're not going to slow down I'll just make ya slow down!'

So much time has passed it's getting hard to recall everything that's gone on in the past few weeks but I'll just have to see how I go and hopefully I can fill in most of the blanks:

Christmas and New Years
It feels a bit ridiculous posting about this in February but if not now then when?! Christmas Day was spent at mum and dads relaxing - we definitely needed it after the big house move three days before.

Cuzzies staying up way too late on Christmas Eve

The big reveal on Christmas morning......a pool!

Waiting patiently for prezzies

No Christmas Day is complete without a walk to see the local wildlife

Noah's hand was very popular!

Mylo and the mo....

On Boxing Day we took a trip to Hamilton Zoo - it was very cool seeing our little niece Maia's excitement at all the animals - you forget how enchanted little kids are with seeing animals - so it was cool experiencing the zoo through her eyes. Not that our boys didn't enjoy it but there's something very sweet about a littlie's amazed reactions! In the free flight aviary we even had a friendly kaka come and land on some of our shoulders - Kim and Maia were a bit freaked out at the thought and kept their distance!

We all thought this looked like Rio .... from the movie of course!

 Mylo happy to see his favourite animals.... the meerkats! 
If Mylo was an animal, he'd definitely be a meerkat!

And there's always one on guard!

Little monkey Maia watching the monkeys

Um.... Poppa I think someone's dropped in for a visit?!

How do I get into this bag?!

Despite being ultra patient and still, Noah lucked out with a kaka-shoulder experience!

Our big Christmas present to the boys this year was a 12 foot swimming pool - it was one of the things we'd promised we would eventually get after moving up here in the Waikato where the climate justifies it and we would actually have the space for it - so Mark spent a good day and a bit putting it up and filling it up while I was working from home on the 27th. Being a 1.2 metre tall pool with a removable ladder we also didn't have to worry about pool fencing rules unlike our disastrous foray into pool ownership for 1 day last summer in Wellington - ha ha!

We had our lovely Wellington friends Kam and Marie to stay on the 27th - it was so good to catch up with them after six months and hear all their news including a little brother on the way for Lucas this year and all their house renovation plans. They also helped us christen the pool - it was still a bit chilly at that point for me to want to get in (only 21 degrees) but all the boys gave it a crack - beers and all!

On New Years Eve we checked out the cafe at Monavale Blueberries (curly fries and all) before heading over to Nana and Poppa's where the boys all slept out in tents for a bit of fun - Maia even slept with daddy Nic in the tent while us 3 older gals (me, Kim and Nana) enjoyed the peace and quiet and comfy beds in the house!

The last day the cuzzies all spent together before Maia flew home to Oz - some vigorous rocking by Maia gave Noah a few hairy moments!

Tents are a-go!

Wise gals sleeping indoors and not in tents!

Ready for their tenting adventure

Farewelling 2015.... with an incredible last sunset of the year!

After sadly farewelling Nic and Kim and Maia who went home to Oz late on New Years Day, Mark and I sat down that evening for the FIRST time just the two of us in our new house (of course the kids were there too but in bed!) toasting the start of a new chapter in our lives. It had been a whirlwind 10 days since the move and it was honestly the first time we'd stopped to celebrate what we'd achieved with the house build in the past six months.

Our long-time Welly friends Shannon and Guy came to visit for the day on a very wet January 2nd - which meant we spent most of the day indoors - and no photos were taken! Again it was awesome to hear all their news and see how much their kids had grown - the biggest excitement for us was hearing they might be relocating up our way to Tauranga and potentially building a new home there - you can imagine how much encouragement we gave them in that direction after our recent experience. So we have our fingers crossed they could be just an hour down the road very soon!

We headed to the new Star Wars movie on January 3rd - in 3D as a must according to Mark. We loved it and even Mylo (who we thought might find it a little scary) was completely rapt the whole way through.

January 5th - 16th
Sadly the Christmas break ended before it even really felt like it started and we were back to work on Tuesday 5th. I'd decided to work longer days Mon-Thu so I could take Fridays off in the holidays which proved a wise move as it enabled me to have some days to unpack the remaining boxes in the garage so they could come and take them away. The boys spent a day out at a friend's house one Friday and then we returned the favour the following week so it was nice to have Fridays free even for that reason.

Tunnelling fun in the school sandpit with other holiday programme buddies

The following weekend we did what we do best and overbooked ourselves with lots of catch ups - with 2 nights hosting different friends for BBQ's in a row and then having our dear friends Andrea and Andrew and family to stay for the weekend. Andrea and I are friends from intermediate so we calculated that meant 27 years of friendship - which makes me feel old on one hand but super warm and fuzzy inside that we've held onto our friendship that long! They've recently also moved to Tauranga - and now that they're just an hour down the road we foresee many more catch ups in the future! They'd also recently bought new bikes from Evo Cycles (where else!) so we all had fun up at the Velodrome taking turns to bike the cycleway and the BMX skills park before retreating home for a swim in the now much warmer (up to 27 degrees) pool. Even I got in this time!

On January 16th a little bundle of joy was added into the Fletcher family! My younger brother Sam and wife Alesha welcomed a little baby boy Michael Iain Fletcher into the world. We drove over to the birthing centre in Hamilton to meet him after Andrea and Andrew left for home on the Sunday afternoon and I got to hold him - a little wide-eyed bundle of joy who seemed to stared up at me so knowingly at just one day old.

January 17th - 30th
Apart from our trip to Rarotonga for Sam and Alesha's wedding last year, we hadn't been to a wedding for AGES. So it was crazy that we the ended up with two weddings two weekends in a row both in Taranaki (a 3 hour drive away!). The first was for friends that Mark used to work with back at APX - he was there when they found true love and it was lovely seeing them tie the knot in front of all their family and friends at her parent's house - a rather stunning home and gardens in Hawera with views towards my favourite mountain!

We'd left the boys with Nana and Poppa for the weekend, by all accounts they had a fabulous time - sleeping out in a tent with Poppa one night and playing in the water activities at Hamilton Lake as well as a trip to the movies to watch Oddball and petanque outside in the garden.

We also took the opportunity to stay with my cousins Gwyl and Charlie who are now renting Gee Gee's house. Amidst all the joy of wonderful family times round Christmas, Gee Gee had a bad fall and ended up in hospital and as a result the family decided that at the ripe old age of 90 it was finally time for her to move into a rest home. Whilst we know it's for the best, it's sad to think that our days of going to stay with her for weekends in the Naki have come to an end. It was a very regular pilgrimage for us to make the trip from Wellington to New Plymouth for the weekend (often 4-5 times a year) and we feel very extremely blessed to have had so many years where she could stay with her and she could watch her (at that time) only great-grandchildren grow into the boys they are today.

While we were there we went to visit Gee Gee in her (temporary) rest home and took her out for brunch at Monica's Eatery in the centre of town. We noticed how much she'd aged - a lot just in the two months since we'd last seen her especially her short-term memory which is getting particularly bad now - sometimes we can have the same conversation several times in the space of a couple of hours.

After a lovely coffee and smoothie at Fairfields Shed Cafe (located at Fairfields Garden Centre my aunty and uncle's new business venture in New Plymouth where Gwyl and Charlie also work) we had to get on the road early on Sunday morning as we had some very special people to collect from Auckland Airport at lunchtime - UK Grandma and Grandad arrived for a six week visit. It's been 3 years since they were last here in NZ and despite regular Skype chats it's not the same as being together in person - so we were very excited to show them our new home and lives here in Cambridge.

The weekend rolled around quickly and so did the 2nd wedding weekend. This wedding was much more involved as it was my cousin Bryn's wedding and I was their official wedding photographer. Bryn and Nicole were married in my aunty and uncle's amazing garden which proved to have all sorts of cool nooks and crannies for the bridal party shots. And with all the agapanthus in bloom, they fitted right into the purple and cream wedding theme.

We also took some shots at the 4 Square where Bryn and Nicole met while working together - it was a very hot afternoon so the bridal party enjoyed a little sit down with an ice cream outside before heading to the evening reception. I'd been pretty nervous about the responsibility and how it would all turn out - but found I actually enjoyed myself on the day. Although it was a massive day - I took over 1400 shots over 12 hours so was dead on my feet by 10pm.

Ping pong at 7am - the boys loved having some fierce matches at our accommodation in Oakura

The weary photographer - having just finished photos on the beach with the bridal couple 
before heading back to the reception for more photography

It's never too early to boogy board - even at 7am?!

The next morning the boys were desperate for me to see them on their body boards - they'd been down to the beach twice during the weekend but I had been otherwise occupied. We only had a short window of time before we had to leave though so it meant dragging my weary body out of bed at 7am - I felt like I could have slept for hours. I was so glad I went though - it was an amazingly clear and warm morning and the water was so warm even at that early hour - I ended up getting in up to my undies and really wished I'd brought my togs.

After a lovely brunch at Fairfields Shed Cafe we headed home to Cambridge in convoy. I was so glad it was the first of two long weekends as we all needed a quiet day the next day to recover from the full on week! And then it was straight back to school for the boys - Year 5 for Noah this year and Year 2 for Mylo - we couldn't quite believe the holidays had gone so fast - well actually we can now looking back on everything that went on!

And now we're back up to date.  As I lie here in my sick bed full of heavy head and green gunk whilst taking the opportunity to write this very overdue catch-up, I have some awesome creators for company alongside me so I'm having to stop and guess in between paragraphs which is rather fun.

We do have a couple of quieter weeks ahead (aside from the Weetbix Tryathlon next weekend and our 12th wedding anniversary the following one) before we head away to the Coromandel at the end of February for a week's holiday with Grandma and Granddad. It's a break that we are all very much in need of - and it can't come soon enough!

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