Personal hygiene

I’ve noticed that Ethan has been retaining a LOT more information these days. He often comes home from school reeling off endless facts about pre-European Maori culture and plant sexual reproductive organs and how to compose songs and a million other things. He likes to quiz Rob & I on stuff that we learned 20 years ago, and can no longer remember. I guess it makes him look good when we get the answers wrong. And now, thanks to the “Health” classes they have been having at school, he has been lecturing instructing us all on personal hygiene.

Yesterday Ethan proceeded to tell me that I don’t change the bedsheets often enough. I had to admit that while I do change my sheets fairly regularly, I sometimes forget about his. Oops. I suggested that he could always take the sheets off his own bed, but considering he doesn’t even bother to MAKE his bed, I’m not holding my breath. As an aside, I try not to make his bed for him. I only do it if we have company, as his room is opposite the living room and everyone sees it as they walk past. I wish I cared more about the beds being made, but I simply don’t. I don’t even make mine in the morning — but I do make it every night before I hop in! Anyway, the sheet thing must have really freaked him out, because he told me this morning that he doesn’t even want to get into bed now because of “all the bacteria”. Another suggestion from me to “change the sheets yourself” wasn’t met with a great deal of enthusiasm. I say, if the bacteria are bugging you (get it? bugging you?!) then take some initiative!

Oh, and apparently Ethan’s pyjamas (boxer shorts) should also be washed more often than they are. I said it was his responsibility to put them in the wash, not mine!! SMH. My response was met with silence, so I think he knew I was right about that one. Ergo, I’m expecting to see more of his PJ shorts in the wash from now on.

He also said that we (we?? Who is this ‘we’?? More like I!) should be washing ALL of our clothes every day. Um, sorry. That’s simply not going to happen in this house. Socks and underwear, YES. They should be washed every day. Absolutely, NO exceptions. This has always been the rule in our house, and both my boys know it. Neither of them would ever think of wearing a pair of socks or undies for more than one day. What about dirty work clothes and smelly sports/running gear? YES. They should be (and most definitely are!) washed after being worn once. But jeans? Hoodies? A T-shirt worn by a child for precisely 4 hours after school when all they have been doing is watching TV and doing homework? NO. They don’t need to be washed that often. And how many kids have enough school uniform items to allow their shirts and shorts to be changed EVERY SINGLE DAY? Not mine, that’s for sure.

And then there’s showering. It is important to shower daily. I remember a time when it was a struggle to get Ethan to have a shower (it’s like that now with Tyler, UGH). But for the past couple of years, I haven’t had to remind Ethan about showering. He just does it. Sometimes he showers twice a day. I discourage this, as he doesn’t need to, and we are on tank water! But he most definitely takes the initiative in the shower department, and judging by the time he spends in there, he must do a very thorough job of cleaning himself! This morning I noticed that Ethan had written “Body wash – Ethan” on the shopping list. Rob had crossed it out and written “SOAP!” next to it. HAHA. Being the softie that I am, I added it to Ethan’s Birthday Wish List instead.

Perhaps all this renewed interest in being hygienic will encourage my boy to help out a bit more with some of the housework. WASHING CLOTHES and CHANGING SHEETS, perhaps? He is very helpful when I ask him, but he doesn’t notice anything that needs doing. Typical of many males, I suppose! I swore I would raise boys who would be innately and acutely aware of all impending housework needs, and would act swiftly and capably upon such keen intuition. {I was obviously living in a FAIRYTALE when I said this}. But it’s JUST SO HARD. I mean, I clearly suck at housework myself, so should probably focus on improving that before coming down too hard on my kids. Right? ;-)

In the meantime, I will just be grateful that my almost 12-year-old is so concerned about his personal hygiene. Even if said concern comes with extra instructions and expectations on me rather than extra initiative and effort on his part. Indeed, I have smelled far too many sweaty, BO-producing, pubescent boys on public buses in my time to know that I most definitely prefer this end of the spectrum than the other!

Feijoa & Coconut Cake

Yes, it’s ANOTHER feijoa recipe. Sorry to all you feijoa haters, and to those who love them but cannot get their hands on them. But for those of you with overflowing feijoa trees, I hope you enjoy this recipe! It is a winner with my 3 boys, and was a winner at my bible study last week (although Ken would disagree; he is a feijoa hater like me).

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Feijoa & Coconut Cake

150g softened butter
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
4 size 6 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups desiccated coconut
2 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk
1 cup peeled and chopped feijoas

Cream the butter and sugar, then beat in the egg yolks. Fold in the coconut, sifted flour and baking powder, milk and feijoas.
In another bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff. Gently fold into the cake mixture.
Pour mixture into a greased and lined 25cm round cake tin.
Bake at 180C for 1 hour or until a cake skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the tin.
Dust with icing sugar before serving.

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Letting go …

I’m feeling a little confused and conflicted right now. My firstborn – my first baby – is almost 12. I mean, he’s practically a teenager. He’s in his last year of intermediate, and the time is going SO FAST. In some ways, I still see him as a child. Somebody who is dependent on me (and his Dad), someone who isn’t ready to face the big, bad world. But on the other hand, I’m acutely aware that he is growing up. He needs us to give him freedom and independence, to trust him out there in the big, bad world.

I am not ready for that.

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He had a half day of school this week, so the teachers could go to a union meeting. I needed to take him shopping at some point to get a birthday present for one of his friends (he is going to his party this weekend). So instead of him walking home, as he usually does, I picked him up from school and we had lunch at the mall before buying the present.

As I waited in the car for him at school, I was thinking about how this might be one of the last times I ever pick Ethan up from school (as I said, he usually walks, but I pick him up if it’s pouring with rain). I’ll be starting my new job in 6 weeks, and if he needs to be picked up from school, Rob will be the one doing it (he’s going to be working shorter days). I was amazed at the sheer number of cars driving in and out of the carpark, picking up their kids. Do ALL these mothers not work? Do they work night shifts? Do they work from home, like me? It seemed like so many kids were being picked up. I started feeling bad that I would no longer be able to do it.

But later on, as we sat in the foodcourt eating our sushi, a very different thought entered my mind. This time I was marvelling at the sheer number of college students wandering around the mall without parents. Kids on their own, or in pairs, or in big groups. So many of them. Do ALL these kids have two working parents? Are they ALL going home to empty houses? Some of them are only 11, 12, 13. They’re too young for that, surely? Or are they just going to hang out at the mall until their parents finish work?

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I started thinking. Would I let Ethan walk to the mall after school with his friends, instead of coming straight home? Would I allow him the freedom to go wherever he pleased, without informing me of his whereabouts? Would I trust him to be sensible? As we were leaving the shops, we came across a large group of boys from Ethan’s year. “Ethan! Ethan!” they shouted. “You missed out, we went to McDonalds and then we played Manhunt in the Warehouse”, said one. “Yeah, and we got kicked out!” replied another.

Ethan looked surprised, relieved and embarrassed, all at the same time. I asked him afterwards if it was embarrassing for him to be seen with me at the shops. He said no. I asked him if he thought it was funny that the boys got kicked out of the Warehouse. “Mum, I’m sure YOU did stuff like that when you were younger.” Yes, yes I did. But does that mean I want him to do it? No! And now that I’m all grown up and sensible, I know that kids can get in a lot of trouble if they are misbehaving in public while wearing a school uniform. I’m sure it was all innocent fun, and there are MUCH worse things they could have been doing. But really. I’m not okay with all this stuff.

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I asked Ethan on the drive home whether he was ‘invited’ to hang out at McDonalds with those boys after school. They had asked him, but he said no. I asked him if he had wanted to go. He said he didn’t know. Maybe he thought I wouldn’t have let him. Would I? I don’t know! I tried to explain how I feel conflicted about wanting him to have freedom and independence, but still wanting to keep him safe and know where he is and what he’s doing. I asked him if he understood. He said “sort of.” Hmmmm. You and me both, kid.

This stuff is really hard. I’m glad that right now he seems happy with the status quo. He comes straight home after school, and doesn’t ask to wander aimlessly around the neighbourhood with kids I don’t know very well. If he does want to go to a friend’s house, he’ll ask me first and arrange it with the friend’s parents. I still want that to continue. And part of me thinks he does, too. I’m not sure he WANTS a whole lot of freedom. One of his friends goes home to an empty house every day after school – and cooks himself pork dumplings! – but I think Ethan likes coming home and having a parent here. I’m pretty sure he still enjoys doing stuff as a family, and eating lunch with me at the foodcourt. I don’t think he’s embarrassed to be seen with me. Even when 3 (very pretty) girls from his class kept walking past our table and calling out “Ethan!” all the time, trying to get his attention. Apparently one of them has a crush on him. He took it all in his stride, and didn’t look like he wanted to crawl under the table or pretend I was a stranger. I’m taking that as a positive right now, as I’m sure it will change!

I’m just not ready for it to change … not yet. I’m so not ready to let go!

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Everyday

I recently bought myself an iPad mini. I don’t have a smartphone, so when I got my iPad I realised I could finally join many of my friends in the wonderful world of Instagram.

Using Instagram on my iPad is not quite as ‘instant’ as it would be if I were using it on my phone, because my iPad is Wifi only (no data). So I can’t post ‘instant’ pics while I’m out and about – only when I’m at home or somewhere else with free Wifi. But still, it’s fun.

The other day, I was tagged to play the “everyday photos” game that’s been doing the rounds. I was challenged to share my ‘everyday’ photos for 5 days (and I had to challenge another person each day to do the same). I’m not a Project Lifer, so I struggle a bit with taking photos of regular daily life. I tend to take lots of photos of particular events or milestones, and lots of photos of people/things/places, to practice my photography. But very rarely do I take photos of the normal stuff around me on a regular day. So it was a fun exercise for me!

Here are my 5 ‘everyday’ photos …

Day 1 – cooking spaghetti & meatballs for dinner

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Day 2 – dirty soccer socks and boots

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Day 3 – washing that needs folding

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Day 4 – my desk at work

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Day 5 – Ethan is delivering pamphlets this week

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These photos may be pretty dull, ordinary, ho-hum. They’re not technically good, that’s for sure! But they do show what everyday life has been like around here for the past 5 days.

Everyday of your life is a page of your history.” Yep, I like that.

Giving it a Try!

Tyler has just had a pretty busy weekend — his first soccer game of the season, a hip hop class and his first ever Weet-Bix Tryathlon. Tyler is really into his cycling these days, riding his bike to and from school every day, and going on extra bike rides at the weekend with Rob. He also enjoys swimming and running, and this year he was really keen to do his first triathlon.

For his age group, the Weet-Bix Tryathlon involves a 100m swim, 4km cycle and 1.5km run. It’s a non-competitive event, meaning that the focus is on “giving it a go”. Every child who completes the course receives a medal. It’s a great way for kids to become more confident in their abilities and see what it’s like to enter a sporting event like this.

Sunday was an absolutely gorgeous day. Really hot, and hardly a cloud in the sky. We were up before the sun, however, to get to Narrow Neck Beach in time for the big event. Our alarms went off at 5.30am! Narrow Neck is about 40 minutes drive from where we live, and is known for being a busy area. We had to drive down there, find a carpark, walk to the venue, and pick up Tyler’s event pack with his bib, stickers, T-shirt and free breakfast voucher. Then he had to put his bike and other gear in the transition area, and get ready for the race briefing at 8.30am. His age group was the second one, starting at 9.15am. That was great, as it meant there wasn’t too much waiting around at the start. There were stalls and activities for the kids to amuse themselves with during the downtime.

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He really wanted a zinc moustache! Haha.

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Rob, Ethan and I headed down to the beach to watch Tyler and all the other 9-year-old boys start the swim leg. Ethan climbed a tree and managed to get a really good view, while I relied on the zoom lens of my SLR to spot him in the water!

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That’s him at the front, leading his group in the swim leg.

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When he got close to the end of the swim, we raced down to see him run up the beach and into transition. But he was too fast, and Ethan was the only one who managed to get close enough quickly enough to spot him! We decided to walk along the road a bit so we could get in a good position to watch him finish the bike leg. We hadn’t been there all that long before he came whizzing past, and amazingly I managed to snap a few photos!

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We barely made it over to the finish line before Tyler came running through. I felt like we could hardly keep up! But he didn’t even look tired, and asked if he could go and do the whole thing again right then. The part that took the longest was waiting for him to line up and get his official photo taken with his medal.

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He absolutely LOVED doing the Tryathlon, and cannot wait for the next series to start. He’s keen to do it “every single year” and would enter BOTH Auckland events if we could afford it! He had a constant smile on his face for the entire day, and was completely in his element. It was really neat for us to see him enjoying himself and having such a great time. I was really impressed with how well the whole event was run, and how smoothly everything went. Just looking at the transition area before it all started was overwhelming – all those bikes!

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It seemed like a recipe for chaos, but everything was set up and managed so well. And the kids actually thrive on doing it all by themselves. Tyler said he was surprised at how quickly he was able to put his shoes & socks on, and get himself sorted for the bike leg. We had told him not to panic or get upset if things were taking longer than normal, but he surprised himself and us by finding it all quite easy. I think he liked the feeling of independence as well.

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It was a really fantastic day, and it was so nice to spend the day together as a family. We’re trying to convince Ethan to give it a go next year, but he’s not sure. He said he would do it if he was able to race alongside his brother, because that would be “more fun”. Aww. I told him to get some friends to sign up, and do it with them. We’ll see. Tyler will definitely be back, anyway!

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A technicolour birthday

On Monday, I celebrated my 36th birthday. Actually, the celebrations started earlier than that, and they lasted for 3 days! And the celebrations are not over yet, because the family and I are going to a restaurant this coming Saturday for a birthday dinner. I love birthdays that last for ages!

Last year, I heard that The Color Run was coming to New Zealand. I was very excited and knew I definitely wanted to do it! But the Auckland event was a) on a long weekend when we were away camping) and b) being held in a kinda dull place (Pukekohe Raceway). I saw that the Wellington event was going to be a) the day before my birthday and b) in a really nice setting (Trentham Park in Upper Hutt). My friend Mandy wanted to do it, so a plan was hatched for me to fly down for the weekend and do the run with her. After booking my flights, it was a matter of waiting … and waiting … until last weekend.

I arrived on Friday evening, and Mandy picked me up from the airport. The next morning, we headed up to Trentham Park to collect our race packs.

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We also met up with Kelly, who was doing the run as well. Mandy had planned to take me on an old-fashioned picnic on Saturday, but sadly the weather wasn’t kind to us. It was cloudy, windy and COLD, with spits of rain every so often. The picnic was such a lovely idea, but we had to change our plans. We ate lunch at the mall and browsed around our favourite shops: Typo and Kikki K. That evening, we enjoyed a delicious meal at Ichiban Teppanyaki. I love teppanyaki. Japanese food is a favourite, and it’s always neat watching your meal being cooked right in front of you. Trying to catch raw eggs and bowls of rice (or in my case, NOT catching them) just adds to the fun.

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Sunday morning was race day, so we were up early! Another scrapbooking friend, Natalie, lives right next to Trentham Park so we were able to park in her driveway. She and her hubby and 3 kids were all doing the run too, so we walked over to the park with them. The atmosphere was awesome, with heaps of fun stalls and activities, and Zumba on the big stage before the race began. Everyone was decked out in their white Color Run T-shirts and white sweatbands. Lots of people had fun costume pieces like wigs, hats, fairy wings, tutus, crazy socks and headbands. I had a white tutu and Mandy had white butterfly wings, and we both had white flowers in our hair. :-)

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The race itself was a total blast! There were 4 different colour stations along the way … yellow, pink, green and blue. At each one, there were crazy/loud/energetic volunteers armed with bottles (and buckets!) of coloured paint powder. Sometimes they aimed low, and sometimes they didn’t! I got a big ball of blue powder right in the face! Was grateful for my sunglasses. Some overly eager and enthusiastic runners even stopped to roll around in the powder. People were scooping up powder from the ground to throw on themselves and other people. It was crazy! But so much fun.

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At the end of the race, we all received a sealed packet of paint powder, and headed over to the big stage for one of the colour tosses that were happening every 15 minutes. After a big hyped up countdown, everyone opened their packets and threw their powder into the air. It was a huge crazy mess of colour and powder and laughter and fun. The packets had different colours to the ones we had been through on the race: purple, orange, red, etc, so by the end of it all, we really were multicoloured!

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The Color Run was such a fun experience. I definitely want to do it again! It would be great to go back to Wellington for it, but finances will probably dictate that I do the Auckland one next year instead. I’m sure it will be just as good. Although I think it would be hard to beat the beautiful scenery we enjoyed during our race. The course ran alongside the river, around the park and through the bush, and it was just gorgeous (despite the lack of sunshine).

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By the time we got home and showered to get all the colour off us, it was nearly 2pm and we were STARVING. So we headed out to a lovely cafe called Thyme. I enjoyed my delicious late lunch of Eggs Benedict, and I bought Mandy & I a piece of chocolate cake to take home for afternoon tea. After all, it was (nearly) my birthday!

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My flight left at 6.30pm and arrived in Auckland at 7.30pm. Rob, Ethan & Tyler came to the airport to pick me up. They were excited to hear all about the Color Run, and to tell me about their weekend as well. Rob had been to an all-day Scripture Union Conference, Tyler had been to his hip hop class, and both boys had been to Nana & Grandad’s for a sleepover and to the Soap Box Derby with Grandad. They’d also been snorkelling and enjoyed lots of ‘treat’ food … pizza, hotdogs, chips, burgers, lollies, donuts, sherbet, etc! Definitely not our usual weekend fare but I guess when the cat’s away …

The next morning, Rob and the boys gave me my birthday presents. The boys got me a DVD (the Silver Linings Playbook) and a big block of Whittakers Strawberry Chocolate. Rob got me a recipe book, a new top and 2 new charms for my bracelet. I had to go into the office for work, which was actually quite nice because I got to commute to/from work with my sister, have a birthday lunch with Leah & Annelie, and enjoy iced chocolates and macaroons for afternoon tea with some of my work colleagues. That evening, we had a family dinner at my parents’ place. Mum cooked tea and made me a yummy chocolate marble cake. We all watched “The Middle” together and it was lovely. Just a really nice day.

So far I’m pretty happy with how 36 is treating me. I’m closer to 40 than 30, which feels a bit odd, but at least I’ll always be younger than Rob! ;-)

Feijoas!

It’s Autumn here in NZ, and that means a few things. Shorter days, cooler evenings, leaves changing colour, boots & jeans (although it’s FAR too warm for that here, we are all still (swimming at the beach, and) wearing jandals & shorts), apples, scented candles, bulb planting, slippers, hot chocolates … and feijoas! 

My 3 boys adore feijoas. I don’t like them myself; I find the flavour too sharp, for want of a better word. But I bake with them because we have a HUGE glut of them on our trees at the moment. The other morning, I picked up 5kg worth from the ground under the trees. Tyler has been selling them (on the roadside, and to friends) for $4 per 1kg bag, which is a bargain considering they are $10/kg in the shops! He is the only one patient enough to sit at the end of the driveway for hours, waiting for customers. He does the same with grapefruit during winter. So because he’s happy to put in the hard yards — and also collect the fruit, weigh it out, put it in bags, etc — we are happy for him to reap the (financial) benefits. :-)

Anyway, I know lots of other people have feijoa trees (or know somebody who does) and may like to try baking with them. After all, there are only so many feijoas that can be cut in half and eaten with a spoon. Or eaten like an apple, WITH THE SKIN ON, as Tyler is prone to do. I think the most he has eaten in one day is about 30, but he *may* have had to pay for that later on … ;-)

So here you are, try these feijoa recipes and don’t let any of that ($10/kg!) fruit go to waste!

Feijoa Muffins

I make these muffins every year, and they are the boys’ favourite thing I bake! I have made a few batches of these already, and I’m sure I will be making many more.

1 cup chopped feijoa flesh
75g butter, melted
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
milk to mix

Topping
2T sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

Mix together feijoas and butter. Add eggs and combine.
Fold in dry ingredients, then add milk to achieve a soft consistency.
Spoon into 12 muffin pans and sprinkle with topping.
Bake at ~210C for 15-20 minutes.
Makes 12

Feijoa, Date & Ginger Loaf

This loaf is really easy and, according to the feijoa lovers in our house, delicious! Enjoy!

1 cup feijoas, chopped
150g dates, chopped
100g crystallised ginger, chopped
250mL boiling water
150g brown sugar
50g butter
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
275g flour
1T ground ginger
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda

Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease a loaf tin.
Place the feijoas, dates, ginger, water, butter and sugar into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool.
Sift together the flour, ginger, baking powder and soda and add to the fruit mixture once cooled along with the egg and vanilla. Do not over mix (this mixture is quite thick).
Spoon the mixture into the greased tin and bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Feijoa Shortcake Crumble

This is like a cross between a slice and a dessert. I served it warm as a dessert, with ice cream and whipped cream (and chocolate sauce for the boys … weird).

125g butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
600-800g feijoas, chopped
1/2 cup sugar
2T custard powder

Cream together butter and sugar. Sift together flour and baking powder and combine with creamed mixture.
Divide mixture and press a little more than 1/2 in bottom of greased baking tin.
Scatter over feijoas and sprinkle with sugar and custard powder. Sprinkle the rest of the dough over the top.
Bake at 190C for 35-40 minutes or until nicely golden on top. Sprinkle with icing sugar to serve.

I’ve already posted a few other feijoa recipes on my blog, so check them out if you’re interested!

Feijoa Butterscotch Puddings
Feijoa Ice Cream
Upside Down Feijoa Gingerbread

Next, I am going to try making Feijoa Jam using this recipe, recommended by a friend. The only catch is I need most of my empty jars for an Easter project, so I may not be able to make it until after that! Hopefully there will still be some fruit left on the tree. Perhaps I will freeze some feijoa pulp now (I actually did that last year too so there is already some in the freezer).

Right here, right now

Watching :: There are only a few TV shows I watch religiously. As in, I cannot miss an episode. Right now, those ones are Masterchef NZ, Survivor and The Blacklist. If I have time or feel like it, I’ll also watch stuff like The Middle, The Big Bang Theory, The Graham Norton Show, Jono and Ben at Ten.
Eating :: Nothing right now. I had toast for breakfast about 3 hours ago.
Listening :: to the sound of birds singing in the olive tree outside. They better not be eating them!
Waiting :: for the weekend! I’m flying to Wellington to stay with Mandy for the weekend. We’re doing The Color Run and I can’t wait! I’m also waiting for my birthday, which is next Monday. :-)
Loving :: Milka chocolate, Chicks at the Flicks, Rekorderlig cider, Buddy the miniature schnauzer, my iPad mini. I’m also loving the fact that I won a prize in the raffle at the school Gala on Saturday! I won a voucher for Masala, a local Indian restaurant.
Planning :: for an awesome Easter Art Exhibition at our church. My sister and I are in charge of one of the ‘stations’ and we’re having heaps of fun planning our area.
Buying :: This morning I paid Tyler’s registration fee for the Weetbix Tryathlon coming up in just under 2 weeks. It will be his first triathlon – he is very excited!
Wearing :: jeans, red & white striped T-shirt, bare feet.
Reading :: I have just finished reading “Never Go Back” by Lee Child. Not my favourite of his novels, and it took me ages to read. But now I can start reading “The Hit” by David Baldacci. I’m also reading “Journey To God’s Word” by J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays, which is the textbook for the bible study I’m doing, and “Home Court Advantage” by Dr. Kevin Leman. Oh, and I’ve started reading “Pride & Prejudice” (again) on my iPad.

I’m loving it

These guys are my whole world.

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I LOVE spending time with them. At almost 12 and 9 1/2, they are a lot of fun to hang out with. Last week, just a day or two before Cyclone Lusi was due to hit, we decided to have an impromptu picnic dinner at the beach. The weather was gorgeous — you couldn’t tell that a massive storm was on the way!

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It started with Rob casually suggesting a swim before dinner, which is not unusual at our house. After all, we live just a few hundred metres from a beautiful swimming beach. I had just finished my day’s work, but hadn’t made a start on preparing dinner. I really felt like a swim too. Normally we would have just had a late dinner, but I knew that wouldn’t work on Thursday because I had to go out at 7pm. So we decided to get fish & chips. I suggested getting them before dinner and heading to a beach we don’t usually go to. Only about 5-10 minutes’ drive from our place, but not our ‘local’. So we packed up the dog, towels, picnic blanket and camera, stopped to get takeaways, and went for a little drive.

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I love impromptu moments like these, spent together as a family. Away from the hum-drum of everyday life and its predictability. It’s much harder to be spontaneous with little kids who need routine and structure and have strict mealtimes and bedtimes. But at this stage in our lives, it’s so easy!

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I’ve written before about how much I am enjoying this ‘age and stage’, and it’s true. It’s just getting better all the time. It’s not always EASY, but the hard work is worth it. I know we haven’t yet hit the teenage years, but I’m no longer terrified of them. There will be ups & downs along the way, but I’m actually looking forward to the ride because I know the good will outweigh the bad. Maybe I’m a little naive, but if you know that to be true, please don’t pop my bubble!

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We have some really awesome conversations as a family these days. The boys are both quite deep thinkers, and some of the stuff they come up with is pretty incredible. Of course, there are still lots of questions. Sometimes we can’t answer them, and sometimes WE are the ones asking!! They do seem to know a lot more about some things than their old parents do. First time we’ve hit that stage, and it’s kinda cool. They’re also at the age where we can watch movies and TV shows as a family that we ALL enjoy (The Middle!) and yet as parents, we know the content is suitable. No more suffering through movies and shows that we can’t stand, just because the kids like them.

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On Saturday, while the storm raged outside, we spent lots of time together inside. We played Singstar, something we ALL love. I baked feijoa muffins, the boys’ FAVOURITE. We spent almost 3 hours playing Monopoly as a family. Not the way we would usually spend an entire Saturday, but it was fun. All 3 of my boys had a touch of cabin fever, as they are usually outside and/or being active a fair amount of the time. But we made it into a fun family day (ignoring many chores and other jobs that needed to be done).

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As I think about how quickly my boys are growing up, it’s really bittersweet. I do miss some stuff from the baby/toddler/preschool years. And I miss the primary school years with Ethan. But I’m loving the right here, right now. I learned never to wish away any age or stage, regardless of how tough it might be at times. Because they’re over so quickly, and you can’t get them back again. So I make a real conscious effort to enjoy each leg of the journey with my kids. Watching them grow and learn and mature. Watching them discover who they are, and helping them along the way. I know that as a mother, I have much more to learn. But I feel like we’re learning together, and they know/understand that. Which is pretty special.

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And of course, doing all this with Rob by my side makes it easier. He’s the opposite of me, in a lot of ways, so the things I struggle with come easily to him. We can rely on each other when it comes to parenting and dealing with the issues that come up. I know he’s the best role model they could have, and I’m so grateful that they have such an awesome, fun loving, adventurous, caring, generous and hands-on Dad! We’re all so blessed to have him.

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Happy*

“Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do …”

Yep, I’m happy! I finally have a start date for my new job. I’ve still got 11 more weeks in my current job but at least I can start making some definite plans.

I (applied for, and) got the job back in December. But because of the whole restructuring (AKA giving our jobs to people in India), my official start date has been up in the air. Basically my current team needs me and my skills until the end of May, which is when the “changeover” happens (AKA the people in India take over our jobs). My new team wanted me to start earlier than that, so negotiating has been happening behind the scenes.

Looks like my current team won, as I’m staying on in my present role until the end of May. My new job starts on 3 June. Coincidentally, that’s also the day we move to our new building. So it really will be a fresh start!

There are quite a few things that we now need to sort out. Mainly the logistics of me commuting into the office each day, instead of working from home. My kids have always had me here after school, so it will be a lot of getting used to. We’re hoping Rob will be able to be here after school instead, but that hasn’t been organised yet.

I’m excited about the changes, but also a wee bit anxious. But I’m happy. And I’m putting on my big girl pants and being grown up about it all. Embracing change, and all that …

* Pharrell Williams. Of course.