So for the sake of sounding like a broken down record, I'm embarrassed to say that despite having great expectations that I'd right back into regular blogging - it just hasn't panned out that way at all so far!
If you follow my photography on Instagram or Facebook you'll know I've been taking a lot more photos lately. I'm actually so thrilled to have found the passion for my landscape photography again, it had been so difficult to find the time or inclination to get out regularly over the time we moved and built our house. And then I also had to invest a lot of time in completing my cousin's wedding photography assignment. I'm finally through the other end of that job, so have freed up some time for the kind of photography I really love. And having also discovered a whole lot of new and fascinating spots in the local area for photos I feel like I've had a bit of a re-birth and there are now so many places on my list to visit that I'll have plenty of options for a variety of shots for some time to come.
One of the things I'm most excited about is that I FINALLY got to do some astrophotography - that is taking photos of the Milky Way. I had wanted to for ages but hadn't quite figured out the right time or even where to begin with it. Then I found a fantastic app that takes most of the guesswork out of the equation called Photo Pills. I had to pay for the privilege but it's well worth it. The morning I chose to go out it was super foggy and I had to drive for an hour heading halfway up the Kaimais just to get about the fog. But it was worth the drive to get my first every astro shoot under my belt. And for a first outing I was pretty pleased with the result.
The weekend I went there was a pretty big meteor shower on and I saw at least 6 shooting stars with the naked eye and a whole lot more were visible once I processed the shots too!
There's also a really cool app called Skyview Free which little people in your house would LOVE. Hold it up outside and line it up with the stars you see - you'll soon know exactly which star or planet you are looking at - such a great idea!
We've also been away SO many weekends already this year that we've hardly had time to sit and scratch our you know whats! Between 2 weekends away in Taranaki, a week in the Coromandel, a secret birthday weekend away in Taupo, and a long weekend away in Matarangi and that's just where we were at by the end of April.
My birthday this year (whilst not being a 'big' number - that's next year...eek!) was a big deal. Mark decided to surprise me with a mystery birthday weekend away starting with dinner in Gothenburg restaurant in Hamilton. The great thing about having the exact same birthday is that he got to enjoy the benefits of all he organised as part of his birthday too!!!! Win win!
The beautiful tapas selection we enjoyed at Gothenburg - I can't wait to go back here again!
There he revealed I had to choose between 3 sealed envelopes what we would be doing for the weekend.
What's a girl to do?!!!! How to choose?!
When I did finally choose I discovered we had an awesome weekend away in Taupo planned with as much photography as I could fit in..... what a babe my hubby is - most perfect present ever!!!!
In need of breakfast after our 4.44am start - we missed out on good sunrise shots due to the fog but got some funky fog shots at the Mangakino jetty so all was not lost!
Mark admiring the view from our Hilton Lake Taupo room - hanging out to try out the pool and spa at this point!
Selfie shot - I took him by surprise and nearly knocked him completely off balance!
After another early start for sunrise finding this amazing Paleo breakfast salad was a wicked pick-me-up!
So many cool spots to discover along the Old Taupo Road - including the awesome Arapuni suspension bridge - not for the faint of heart!
When we got home at 2pm, I walked into the last surprise of our shared birthday weekend - 3 of my best friends and families all at our house for a birthday BBQ - I got quite the shock to walk in and see everyone waiting for me..... in a nice way of course!!
The first time we had all been together since my wedding 12 years ago!!!
Two weeks later we headed back to Matarangi for the weekend with Tracey & Dayne and family. We'd loved our time there swimming so much in early March that we booked to go back again for the long Anzac weekend.
lush to be sitting out in summer temperatures in mid autumn - ah Matarangi you're the best!
what a dream of a beach Matarangi is - what is not to love!
Post-swim warm up in onesies!
A rather competitive game of Trivial Pursuit - family edition
hours of fun on the tennis court
despite feeling rather seasick Noah can now officially say he's a fisherman
We had a blast - the kids are all similar ages and get along well - between swimming in the sea (unheard of in late April), playing tennis, a fishing trip out into the firth of Thames with 15 fresh fish the bounty haul, an early morning sunrise at Cathedral Cove and a walk over to New Chums beach we sure made the most of our time there. And the accommodation was so ridiculously cheap - $100 a night for all 8 of us!
The following weekend we spent a day over at Omokoroa visiting our dear friends Shannon and Guy in their new life there. They recently moved up from Wellington and it's so cool knowing they're just over the hill not a 7 hour drive away! It's a really beautiful spot and we can see the appeal - I know there will be more happy days spent over the hill hanging out with them now we know it's an easy day trip!
checking out the views from Shannon and Guy's new neighbourhood - the Mount visible in the far background
hanging with this chick is always so lovely - I had missed her so much since we left Welly so I'm pretty happy to have her just down the road again!
another autumn swim - last day of April!!!!
ahhhh - friends reunited
At the last minute we decided to put Mylo up a grade into 8th grade so he could get some better competition as he really was a bit bored in the 6th grade last year being one of the best in the grade and playing little mini games on small fields with some kids who'd never kicked a ball before. Also Mark is the coach of his 8th grade team and so far with two games under their belts they've had a 4-4 draw and a 7-3 win and Mylo has scored both weeks so it was definitely a good decision to push him that little bit harder this year.
We were all so thrilled for Noah that he made it into the top 10th grade team this year - he was equally excited that his best buddy (who moved schools this year so he they don't see each other as often) is also in the same team along with a few other kids he knows from his school. And his coach is a really awesome guy with lots of passion for the game so we are looking forward to seeing how his year pans out. In the first two games, they've had a close win and a close loss but it's grading games only so still early days of the season. In addition the boys are both doing the Star Soccer academy on a Tuesday to help their footy skills develop - it makes for a very busy week having soccer on Tuesdays and Thursdays as well as games on Saturday but we figure it's all positive for improving their overall performance and we decided to skip swimming lessons over the winter to free up the time to do extra football - they definitely don't mind!
Add to this there's two games of football every Saturday morning and with both boys playing in travelling leagues this inevitably means we are pulled in different directions across the Waikato - like last week when Mylo played in Te Aroha at 9.30am and Noah played in west Hamilton at 11.15am - it's a good thing we are two parents with two cars in this case!!
But back to our weekend with the girls - we showed them the sights and sounds of the local area - like the lovely views at Lake Karapiro and a walk between Arapuni and Jones Landing on Mothers Day morning.
We're looking forward to seeing these two lovely gals again when we stay with them in Wellington for the weekend in July!
My Mothers Day card from Mylo made me smile - apparently he came up with these ideas all by himself. Where he got the unicorn from I'll never know but I love it!
Then Mark and I headed far into hobbit country to find Waitanguru Falls on the way home. It was well worth the hour's extra drive on the journey - it really is the most stunning scenic and remote countryside through there. And with all the rain we'd had the falls were an impressive sight!
it was lovely to be able to spend a few hours with Gee Gee - still doing so well at 90
breakfast hangs after our 5.30am start for sunrise shots
adventures in the heart of hobbit country - at Waitanguru Falls
We've also had a total of 4 teeth lost in the past month (2 each) with 2 more not far away - Mylo's top teeth have been wiggly for ages. I can't say I'm looking forward to him losing them though - I love his little gappy smile and I know it will change when he gets big adult teeth filling up the gaps!
the tooth fairy had a busy night - 2 teeth fell out in one day at school for Mylo!
I won't even begin to promise I'll be more regular in my posting....we all know what happened last time I did that...ha ha!
I'll just say I'll see ya again soon (ish.....!) and leave you with some cute pictures of these two - in between the busyness of life there's still plenty of time to reflect and enjoy them and their achievements and to enjoy doing life with them - they are such awesome kids!
this is what I find when I ask them to help make their beds - curled up on the floor together under a duvet - how could I be mad looking at these faces though?!
I love that they were so utterly enthralled with the latest series of Britain's Got Talent they didn't even know I was taking this shot - to be fair we've all been glued to the screen all week waiting to see who is going to win!