By Tyler …

“Ouch!” I muttered, as I carefully put my feet on the sharp rocks.
It was a Sunday afternoon and the sun was lasering down on me and my family. We strolled towards the quiet lake; we went through the luscious, green grass fields, over gates, across bridges, under trees that skyed above us.
Finally we could hear the lake. We dashed towards the sound of the ripples rippling. The sight of the lake came closer but was hidden by a pile of rocks. Slowly, we climbed up the rocks, and when we got to the top, we all looked out at what could have come out of a holiday brochure.
The sight of glistening diamonds on the water’s edge, it was like a humungous spread of blue butter. I broke into a sprint towards the calm water. It looked like the sun had sprinkled the water with stars. The water beckoned me to splash in its warm embrace. One lonely dinghy floated on the sky blue water.
I dived in, it felt like an elephant spraying me as my body sunk into the water. The sea weed pulled me down to sway with his friends.
After a long day of swimming and laughing the sunset started to shimmer on the water and it was time to go. I sadly got out of the water; now it was just the big walk home. As I walked the trees sadly waved goodbye and the grass tickled my toes, but I knew that we would come back one day!

Musings

A fair bit on my mind today … sharing a few of those thoughts …

  • Tyler is off school because he is sick, so I stayed home with him. I wanted to work from home, because he has (as I suspected he would) been sleeping and watching TV all day. But my company has a policy that no longer allows anyone to work from home while they are looking after children. Hence, I had an enforced “day off” work today. While it is a bummer to have to use up a day of sick leave, I have enjoyed having a day to relax! I had planned to read my book, but I haven’t read a single page yet! Glad I got a blog post written.
  • I’ve been experiencing severe pain in my left shoulder for almost 4 months. Rotator cuff tendinitis. For the first 3 months, I tried to rest it and survived (just) on a cocktail of analgesics and anti-inflammatories. No improvement. Two weeks ago, I finally got a proper diagnosis: calcific supraspinatus tendinopathy, low grade partial tears of the suptraspinatus, subscapularis and infraspinatus tendons, and subacromial/subdeltoid bursitis with findings of impingement. Last week, I had ultrasound-guided barbotage and a cortisone injection. Today I hung out 3 loads of washing – the first washing I have hung out since February. I can lift my arm above my head. Showering and washing my hair and dressing are no longer painful. Yay! I love cortisone.
  • I read an article today about nomophobia. Apparently this is a real thing. Nomo stands for ‘no mobile’ and nomophobia is — you guessed it — a fear of not having a mobile at all times (i.e. fear of being out of contact). We live in a pretty sad society when nomophobia a) becomes an actual THING and b) gets given an actual name. Yikes. Put your phones away, people. I’ve never had a smartphone and I don’t want one.
  • Looking back over previous blog posts, I re-read the one about our busy weekly schedule. I was thinking about that this morning as I was tidying up the dining room table and shaking toast crumbs off the placemats into the kitchen sink. I realised that despite our busyness, we still manage to eat dinner together as a family every night. Even with soccer training and pamphlet runs and water polo games and me getting home at 6:30pm on T/W/T nights, we always eat at the table as a family. I reckon that’s pretty cool. Especially since the boys’ activities are now evening ones, starting anywhere from 5-8:30pm. Eating dinner as a family and talking about our days is one of my favourite things to do each evening.
  • I love having things to look forward to. Date nights, dinners with friends, movies, concerts, trips, etc. On Sunday I’m going to see Pitch Perfect 2 with my sister (a fundraiser for a friend’s barbershop quartet). Next Saturday we’re celebrating Ethan’s 13th birthday with a trip to JUMP! with his two best mates. Queen’s Birthday weekend we are heading up to Whangarei to stay with Rob’s family. On 20 June we’re going to the FIFA U-20 World Cup Final with my parents and sister to celebrate my Mum’s birthday (she is a huge football fan). Rob & I are thinking of taking a winter road trip/holiday with the kids, maybe in the July school holidays. My sister and I are planning a special 40th Wedding Anniversary party for our parents in August. In December, Rob and I are taking the boys to an Ed Sheeran concert. Lots of cool things to look forward to (and many more yet to be added to the calendar).
  • Last Sunday was Mother’s Day. I’ve been thinking a lot about being a mother. About how often I put the “Mum” hat on each day. I don’t think I ever take that hat off, really. I just put other ones on top of it. At home, there are physical reminders of motherhood all around me, even when the kids are not here. Soccer balls and dirty boots by the front door, homework books on the coffee table, lunch boxes on the kitchen bench, school notices on the hall table, the sound of laughter in the living room every evening during “The Crowd Goes Wild” (with plenty of ‘roughening up’ in the ad breaks). But there are the emotional reminders, too. I think about my boys so often during the day, when I’m not with them. I wonder what subject they are sitting in right now. Did they remember to take that permission form/money/book/note? Will they have time to get their homework done before sports practice? I wonder if they are feeling okay. I wonder if they are happy, or sad, or angry, or excited, or frustrated at this particular moment. Do they need anything? Will the traffic be extra heavy tonight, or will I get home a few minutes earlier than usual so I can spend more time with them? Always on my mind …
  • Autumn is well and truly here, and I must remember to take the family for a walk just around the block to a little park with the most gorgeous piles of red and orange leaves. It’s been ages since we took photos in the leaves! In fact, it was before we had kids! Definitely going to be on my ‘TO DO’ list. Playing in autumn leaves is ‘such fun’ (ala Miranda).
  • One can’t help but feel sad about things happening around the world. Devastating earthquakes in Nepal, volcano eruptions, other natural disasters, ongoing wars and sieges, homeless refugees, plane/train crashes, etc. Even in our own little country, we lost 10 people on the roads last weekend. So sad. Some days I can’t even read the paper. Hugging my own family a little tighter right now.

Sweet Sixteen

So, my lovely man and I have been married for 16 (SIXTEEN!) years.

IMG_0428 (1108x1600)

We celebrated our anniversary (on 1 May) by exchanging traditional gifts, as we always do. The traditional gift for 16 years is wax. I bought him hair wax, car wax and a funky candle. He bought me a scented candle, and he MADE ME THIS:

11174809_10153393396368319_5607829007127748817_n

How freakin’ awesome is that?! Straight off a Pinterest board, baby! I was floored, and so touched. I love it so so much. It has pride of place on my piano, next to my white ceramic owl, letter “B” and red vase. It made my little arrangement P E R F E C T.

We had a lovely dinner on the evening of our anniversary, at Plume Restaurant in Matakana. It’s a vineyard, but unfortunately it was too dark outside for us to walk around and enjoy the scenery. Next time. The food was amazing, and the service was outstanding. All the little ‘extras’ that only a fancy restaurant offers. Waiters who pull your chair out and place your cloth napkin in your lap. Free bread rolls before the entree. Complimentary amuse bouches.

He had:
CORN & CORRIANDER FRITTERS, chilli jam (spicy), lettuce cups, mint, coriander
CRISPY DUCK LEG, mandarin pancakes, spring onion and cucumber, hoisin plum sauce, Asian slaw

I had:
CHICKEN BREAST ROULADE, free range, ricotta and parmesan, wrapped in pancetta, caponata, red quinoa
STEAMED PUDDING, white chocolate, raspberry, salted caramel sauce, vanilla ice cream
and a few glasses of Runner Duck Chardonnay …

In some ways I can’t believe we’ve been married for 16 years. It seems like such a long time. But in other ways those years have gone by so quickly. Every single one of those years has been wonderful, and it’s only getting better. What will the next 16 years bring? I can’t wait to find out!

We will remember them

As a nation, NZ has just commemorated 100 years since the landing of the ANZACs at Gallipoli in 1915, during WWI. Because it was the centenary commemoration, this year was pretty special.

I blogged a few weeks ago about how much Tyler had been learning about ANZAC Day, and how passionate and enthusiastic he was about it. He is very proud to have had two great-grandfathers serve in WWI (my Grandpa and Grandad) and one great-grandfather serve in WWII (Rob’s Grandad). While most other kids are busy posting selfies and photos of their pets/food/favourite sports players on Instagram, here’s what Tyler posted the other day:

Anzac

He also wrote the following poem a couple of weeks ago. Not for a school assignment or anything, just ‘because':

Poppies, blood red;
As they marched to their death.
The first gun left the first soldier dying:
and so did the rest.
White crosses stand,
in a field of failing hands,
We leave them lying in poppies,
We leave them lying in lands,
Because poppies represent something:
The Sacrifice.

My parents have a lot of precious war memorabilia that belonged to their Dads, including prayer books, diaries, medals, photos, passports and discharge papers. It has been fascinating for Tyler to see all of these items, and to know they are 100 years old! My Dad is currently in the process of typing up all of my Grandad’s war diaries, so he can send them to the extended family. I’ve already read most of them, and have written several blog posts about them. Still, I am looking forward to having a copy of them all, and sharing all the entries with my boys.

War

IMG_4395 (1600x1067)

During the past week leading up to ANZAC Day, Tyler’s school has been remembering in a number of very unique ways. Like many other schools, they set up a “Lawn of Remembrance” on the field, with white crosses bearing the names of NZ soldiers who lost their lives in WWI. The children made poppies which were attached to the fence, and it looked beautiful:

11053047_1058364560847212_1203516224696336045_n

The school also had a special day with the theme of ‘100 Years Ago’, where all students and teachers dressed up in outfits from 100 years ago, and bought school lunches wrapped in cloth – no packaged foods! They played old-fashioned games at morning tea and lunchtime, like hopscotch, skipping, hoop bowls, marbles, knucklebones and elastics. The teachers were suitably strict, with long rulers that were rapped sharply on the desk of any child who wasn’t paying attention. The children had to chant times tables, copy the alphabet in cursive handwriting, march to/from class in formation, and even wear a ‘dunce cap’ if they did something wrong. They loved it!

11150452_10153368388883319_6924723029557902713_n

17127_10153385274318900_4662135752450352735_n

11174944_1059576760725992_461799573202894778_n

10919062_1059604454056556_4689346487884444179_n

11156368_1059604174056584_7674758767233000210_n

11156354_1059564144060587_5239046563632962525_n

11156164_1059604360723232_1827237784710050690_n

11114142_1059604337389901_3179302632515881443_o

11054440_1059604097389925_3466869311376069398_n

11053689_1059562534060748_6739171843686023229_n

On Friday, the whole school held a special ‘Celebration of Peace’ assembly on the school field. The teachers did a 21-gun salute using giant biodegradable party poppers, and the children released beautiful biodegradable helium doves into the sky. So lovely.

11159953_1060739130609755_3774896279326696878_n

On ANZAC Day, we went to the dawn parade at our local RSA with my parents and sister. It was a very moving service, with a capacity crowd. Tyler proudly wore my Grandad’s WWI medal, which was a huge honour for him.

Blair Family (2) (1600x1600)

We also had a very special ANZAC-themed service at church on Sunday, which was so meaningful and thought-provoking. Tyler was asked to recite “Flanders Fields”, the famous poem by Lt. John McCrae. He had learned it by heart for school, and did a wonderful job of reciting it in front of a big crowd of people! I was very proud of him.

I’m really proud of my family history and the legacy I and my children have because of it. My grandfathers were both brave men, who left behind their fiancées to go to war. One to fight, and the other to patch up the wounds. I’m eternally grateful to them and to all the other brave soldiers who left our peaceful land to fight a battle on the other side of the world, having no idea what they were getting themselves into. So many did not return, making the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom we enjoy today.

We will remember them. Lest we forget.

Crazy busy.

It’s the start of another school term, and this one is BUSY. Mostly as a result of all the sport my boys play. Term 1 was busy too, but with their summer sports (summer soccer, tag rugby and athletics) slowing winding down, there were a few weeks near the end where our schedules were pretty light. Now winter sports (soccer) are starting up, and year-round sports (water polo) are ramping up. With Ethan in Year 9 this year, the time required for his chosen sports has escalated. Water polo 5 times a week, baby! It’s getting to the point where he may not be able to do any summer sport because we will be DEAD by the time they kick off in Term 4.

Yep. This term is going to be a crazy ride, people. Just to give you a taste of what we’re in for, here’s a look at a typical week for our boys:

Monday
Ethan – swim fitness training from 7:30-8:30pm — this is optional, but he likes to go if he can

Tuesday
Ethan – water polo training in Albany (30 min drive) from 8:30-9:15pm — this means he gets home just before 10pm, which is pretty late for a school night!

Wednesday
Ethan – drum lessons from 4-4:30pm
Ethan – soccer training from 6-7pm
Ethan – water polo training from 8-9pm — this is also optional, and considering how busy his Wednesdays are, it doesn’t happen that often!

Thursday
Tyler – soccer training from 4:30-6:30pm
Ethan – water polo games in Albany (30 min drive), anytime between 6:15pm to 8:45pm

Friday
NOTHING! Well, Ethan has youth group every fortnight, which Rob runs.

Saturday
Tyler & Ethan – soccer games, usually at home one week and away (30-60 min drive) the next — their games are often at the same time, so Rob and I take one each week to different fields

Sunday
Ethan – water polo games at the local pool, anytime between 4:30 to 8:30pm

On top of all that, the boys have homework and Ethan also has a part-time job delivering pamphlets twice a week. They need to be collated and folded (usually one whole evening) and then delivered the following day (usually 1-2 hours).

On top of all THAT, Rob and I actually have lives, and stuff. Haha. We both have full-time jobs and I don’t get home from work until 6:15pm on Tue/Wed/Thu nights, which makes some of the juggling pretty hard. We seem to manage, somehow. Each of us have evening meetings every so often, which have to be slotted in. Thank goodness we don’t have as many meetings/rehearsals as we used to a couple of years ago, as there’s no way we could do it! One thing is for sure: when kids get older, their after school activities become evening activities, and it would be impossible for us to make it work.

I know some people probably think my kids are doing too much, but they WANT to do it. They love it! They both eat, sleep and breathe sport. If they weren’t doing it, they would be grumpy, listless, annoying, unhealthy and unhappy. I don’t want that. I want them to be enthusiastic, motivated, committed, healthy and happy. And they are. Ethan, having a much heavier schedule than Tyler, plus more homework, sometimes feels a bit stressed or overwhelmed about how much he has to do. Usually when a particular teacher gives him a ton of homework due the next day. But it wouldn’t be the sport that would get the flick, as that’s enjoyable/therapeutic for him.

Sure, it takes a lot of effort on their part and a bit of sacrifice on ours, but it’s absolutely worth it. Bring it on, I say! (whilst rocking backwards and forwards in the corner (just kidding)).

Lately …

Lots has been happening lately, so here’s a bit of an update!

Tyler competed in the Weet-Bix Kids Tryathlon again (see my previous post). It was a scorching hot day with sunshine and blue skies. Rob, Ethan and I all enjoyed watching him (and running to keep up with him around the course!) … a fabulous way to spend a Sunday.

Tryathlon13

I turned 37 at the end of March. Although I had to work on my birthday, I was able to work from home which meant I could spend lots of time with my boys. I was also able to go out for lunch with my lovely Mum. That evening, Rob cooked a birthday dinner and my parents and sister joined us. I had a really awesome day! :-)

The boys finished school for the term a couple of days after my birthday, and are still on holiday now. We had a lovely Easter break, spending plenty of time together as a family (including some of our extended family) and of course celebrating the real meaning of Easter with our church family. On Easter Saturday we decided to explore an area our boys had never been to, South Head. I hadn’t been out that way since I was a kid. We went to Shelly Beach, where we walked, took photos, watched the birds and had hot chocolates overlooking the waterfront.

IMG_4302 (1600x1067)

IMG_4303 (1600x1067)

IMG_4304 (1600x1067)

IMG_4306 (1600x1067)

IMG_4309 (1600x1067)

IMG_4311 (1600x1067)

IMG_4314 (1600x1067)

IMG_4316 (1600x1067)

IMG_4318 (1600x1067)

IMG_4320 (1600x1067)

IMG_4326 (1600x1067)

IMG_4332 (1600x1067)

IMG_4333 (1600x1067)

IMG_4337 (1600x1067)

IMG_4342 (1600x1067)

IMG_4345 (1600x1067)

After that, we headed further up the heads to Lake Otoroa. Neither Rob nor I had been out there before, but we had studied a map and thought it would be worth checking out one of several freshwater dune lakes in the area. It was well worth it! Beautiful scenery, and the water was lovely. We all enjoyed a swim, and there were hardly any other people around. We’ll definitely be going back there next summer! A little secret spot that not many people know about!

IMG_4346 (1600x1067)

IMG_4347 (1600x1067)

IMG_4349 (1600x1067)

IMG_4351 (1600x1067)

IMG_4352 (1600x1067)

IMG_4353 (1600x1067)

IMG_4354 (1600x1067)

IMG_4355 (1600x1067)

IMG_4357 (1600x1067)

We decided to spend the rest of the day at one of our favourite spots, Parakai Hot Pools. It was a lovely warm day, and the boys had heaps of fun on the slides. It was busy, as we expected it would be, but a great way to spend the afternoon.

Both Rob & I have been able to take some time off over these school holidays, which has been really nice. The boys have been enjoying a mixture of time with us, time with their mates, time with Nana & Grandad, and a holiday programme with their friends (brothers) who live a few doors down from us. It’s been working really well. I feel like I have had a *bit* of a holiday and the boys have enjoyed the variety and the quality time with each of us. Rob has Friday off to spend with they and they are planning an overnighter and canyoning out at Piha. The kind of outdoor/adventure stuff those 3 love doing together!

Until the next update … ;-)

Beachin’ it

I live on the Hibiscus Coast, a stretch of the Hauraki Gulf coast located 35km north of Auckland, NZ’s largest city. The Hibiscus Coast runs north from the Whangaparaoa Peninsula through Orewa to Waiwera. The area is home to many beaches, and is known to be a number of degrees warmer than the city because of the narrow land mass surrounded by plenty of water.

WGP

HBC

This summer, my sister Leah and I decided that we would swim at every beach on the Hibiscus Coast (there are 15 in total). Although we have both lived here all our lives, we found that we usually stuck with our local/favourite beaches. There were some beaches we hadn’t swum at for years … or ever! So in an attempt to fully enjoy and capture the beauty of where we live, we set ourselves this challenge. It was heaps of fun, and we both discovered new favourites. I think we both have a renewed appreciation for the amazing place we live. We are so, so lucky that this is our playground!

Here are some photo collages I made of our adventures … enjoy! :-)

Starting in the north:

Wenderholm

Wenderholm is one of the most beautiful regional parks in the area. Located between Puhoi and Waiwera Rivers, the park’s headland enjoys picturesque views at every turn. A quiet sandy beach has commanding views of the Hauraki Gulf while the Pohutukawa trees overlooking the beach provide welcome shade during the hotter months.

Wenderholm 18 Jan (1600x1200)

Waiwera

The name Waiwera is of Māori origin and means “Hot Water”. Its main claim to fame is the hot water springs. Waiwera is a sandy beach located at the mouth of the Waiwera River.

Waiwera 22 Mar (1600x1200)

Hatfields Beach

Hatfields Beach is a small beach north of Orewa. It offers a short stretch of soft white sand and safe swimming for the kids. Take a stroll around the cliffs at low tide. The beach is great for water sports. The boat ramp can be used to launch the boat in any tide, and kayakers will enjoy exploring the coastline.

Hatfields 22 Mar (1600x1600)

Orewa

Orewa is famous for its beautiful beach – three kilometres of golden sand for all to enjoy. Orewa Beach is the gateway to the Hibiscus Coast and one of north Auckland’s most popular beaches.

Orewa 22 Mar (1600x1131)

Heading out along the Peninsula, down the northern side …

Red Beach

Red Beach features smooth, fine sand and some great views, making it a nice beach for a walk alongside the amazing naturally-formed rock steps and huge gnarled trees.

Red Beach 7 Jan (1600x1131)

Stanmore Bay

Stanmore Bay (Leah’s local and the beach we grew up at as kids) is a very safe two kilometre long swimming beach with a ski lane, boat ramps, a large playground, soccer fields and picnic areas, with plenty of shade.

Stanmore Bay 4 Jan (1600x1000)

Swann Beach

Swann Beach is a small cove situated between Stanmore Bay and Big Manly. It is less well known than the other beaches, and is frequented mostly by locals.

Swan Beach 3 Apr (1600x1131)

Big Manly

Big Manly beach (my local) is approximately one kilometre from end to end and is very sheltered from all winds except for strong north easterlies. No matter what the tide the beach is sandy all the to the water’s edge with very few rocks or obstacles. The beach has great facilities including a large car park area, children’s playground, changing & toilet facilities and more. There’s also a sailing school directly opposite the main boat ramp.

Big Manly 6 Jan (1600x1600)

Tindalls

Tindalls Bay is one of the lesser known beaches on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula. A beautiful sandy beach with very sheltered calm waters in most conditions this is another family favourite for locals and people in the know.

Tindalls 8 Feb (1600x1131)

Army Bay

Army Bay has a beautiful sandy beach that gives some amazing views over the Hauraki Gulf. The beach area is very sheltered from any southerly winds, and the large step retaining wall that separates the car park and changing room areas from the beach gives great protection against the wind.

Army Bay 11 Jan (1600x1600)

This is the end of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula (there are other beaches on private defence force land), so we head back along the Peninsula, down the south side:

Te Haruhi Bay

Te Haruhi Bay is one of the larger beaches on the Peninsula and has stunning views from both the water’s edge and all of the many walking tracks within easy reach. The bay is located in one of Auckland’s leading wildlife sanctuaries, Shakespear Regional Park. The park has facilities that allow people to hire large entertaining areas with BBQs and sun shade.

Te Haruhi 11 Jan (1600x1131)

Okoromai Bay

Part of Shakespear Regional Park, at high tide Okoromai Bay is a safe paddling beach for young children as the water never gets that deep. The bay is a favourite for cocklers as the shallow sand beds can reveal hundreds if not thousands of these little delicacies at low tide.

Okoromai 11 Jan (1600x1131)

Matakatia

Matakatia Bay is one of the quieter beaches on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, set back from the main road. The water here is very shallow and at low tide you can walk a significant way out before even getting in to waist high water. This shallow water makes it a safe paddling beach for young children.

Matakatia 6 Apr (1600x1131)

Little Manly

Little Manly beach is the smallest beach on the Peninsula and just past the halfway point on Whangaparaoa Road. The beach is approximately 100 metres from end to end and sheltered from northerly winds by a large step retaining wall. The waters here are very sheltered from any northerly winds and direct easterly and westerly wind. This makes for calm waters that are ideal for swimming and kayaking.

Little Manly 17 Jan (1600x1200)

Arkles Bay

Arkles Bay is a south west facing bay on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula. This quiet bay faces Rangitoto in the southeast, and Long Bay (Marine Reserve) directly south. Arkles Bay is popular for watersports enthusiasts of all types, from yachties and kayakers to swimmers.

Arkles Bay 6 Apr (1600x1131)

Kiwi Kids Try!

Yesterday Tyler participated in the Weet-Bix Kids Tryathlon for the second year. He LOVED it last year, so there was no question that he would do it again this year (and every year to come). It’s an amazing event, so well organised and brilliantly run. The venue (Narrow Neck) is spectacular, and the weather yesterday was just perfect! The event was sold out, with 2300 kids taking part. It’s just a really fun, happy event with lots of smiling kids and excited parents.

Tyler had a fantastic time, and so did his supporters (Rob, myself and Ethan). Great way to spend a Sunday! He did so well and was really chuffed with his time (just under 20 minutes I think). Here are a few photos from the day:

Waiting patiently in the pre-swim tent with all the other 10-year-old boys (first age group to race):

IMG_4242 (1600x1067)

They release the kids in groups of 10 or so, to avoid congestion. Here’s Tyler’s group waiting on the beach to start their race!

IMG_4245 (1600x1067)

And they’re off!

IMG_4247 (1600x1067)

IMG_4248 (1600x1067)

IMG_4250 (1600x1067)

Tyler was in 2nd place around the first buoy:

IMG_4251 (1600x1067)

After finishing 2nd/3rd in his group for the 100m swim, Tyler heads up the ‘blue carpet’ to the transition area, to get on his bike:

IMG_4259 (1600x1067)

IMG_4260 (1600x1067)

Almost finished the 4km bike leg (his favourite leg). Tyler is to the right of the closest marshall:

IMG_4261 (1600x1067)

IMG_4263 (1600x1067)

IMG_4264 (1600x1067)

He completed the 1.5km run so fast that we didn’t get from the bike viewing area to the finishing arch in time to see him come through. When we got there, he had already been given his medal and was having a well-earned drink of water.

IMG_4265 (1600x1067)

IMG_4267 (1600x1067)

Getting his official photo taken!

IMG_4268 (1600x1067)

Official photos will come soon. Judging by the quality of last year’s pics, they should be awesome!

Lest we forget …

Tyler’s class is doing quite a lot of work on WWI and WWII, in the lead up to the Anzac Day Centennary next month. Over the weekend, Tyler had to learn the poem “Flanders Fields” by heart. He was the only one in his class who was able to recite it without any help from the teacher (and only 3 others had bothered to learn any of it). I thought it was really important for him to do it, even though we were away at our church camp for the weekend. He just took a copy in his pillowcase and practised it over and over in the car on the way there and back!

Tyler’s teacher asked everyone in the class to collect photos and information of family members or family friends who have taken part in any war, in any capacity. They are for a remembrance project at school (they will only be using photocopies, not original photos). Tyler had the choice of 3 great grandfathers who each served NZ in WWI (my Grandad and Grandpa) and WWII (Rob’s Grandad). He chose my Grandpa (my Mum’s Dad) as we had a few photos of him in his army uniform.

My Grandpa, Arthur Arnold Best, was a Corporal in the 13th Reinforcements. He fought in WWI and even sustained a war wound (a bullet in his leg). My Mum still has his prayer book that he used on the troopship “Willochra” between 31st May and 26th July 1916. There are photos of his battalion on Anzac Day 1919, at a reunion in Dannevirke. At least two of the men sitting in the front row had lost their legs in the war.

My Grandad, Alfred Stanley Jacobsen, had his name drawn by ballot in July 1917. He had joined the army but refused to take the oath to bear arms. He worked as a Medical Officer instead. I have excerpts from his diaries that he wrote in 1918. There are entries while he was on the ship to Great Britain, a 2-month journey, and after he arrived and worked in the hospital looking after injured soldiers.

I’m feeling very grateful for the legacy left by my grandfathers. They both served their country in different ways, and I feel very proud of them. They are true heroes.

Anzac Day this year will be very special, as it is the Centennary celebration. As a family, we will definitely be attending a parade or dawn service. I know Tyler wants to, and he will have very different thoughts after learning so much more about how his great grandfathers served their country. One of Tyler’s great great uncles died in the war, and he knows how much of a sacrifice some families had to make when their loved ones never returned home. We were the lucky ones; ours did come home.

Swim Star!

I know, it has been a MONTH since my last post. But does anybody read blogs these days? I can honestly say I read very few of them now :-( So I don’t expect many people are reading this one! Perhaps the end is nigh …

ANYWAY. I have to brag about my boy because he is AWESOME. Tyler had swimming sports this week, and he totally smashed it!

11011878_10153246472648319_1981639907030237414_n

He did pretty well in swimming sports last year, coming 1st, 2nd or 3rd in all his races. He went to interschools for backstroke, where he came 4th in his final. This year, I was expecting similar results. There is one boy in particular who always seems to beat Tyler when it comes to swimming, athletics, etc. He’s always just that bit faster/better than him, so Tyler and I (and everyone else, to be honest!) were expecting this guy to edge Tyler out. Tyler just wanted to do his best and if he placed or got through to interschools, it would be a bonus.

Well. He won his freestyle and backstroke heats, and came 3rd in breaststroke (not his strongest event).

AND THEN.

He won his freestyle and backstroke finals!! He looked so shocked when he was given the first place rod for freestyle, as he was so sure this other boy was going to beat him. Tyler’s teacher, friends and classmates went crazy with their yelling and cheering! I wasn’t quite as surprised about him winning backstroke, as it is his best event. But to win both was just so cool. He was so surprised, happy and humble about it.

He’ll be off to interschools again in a couple of weeks’ time. Not bad for a kid who doesn’t swim in a squad or do ANY proper swim training! I keep saying (to both my boys, actually) that they could probably do very well in swimming if they decided to join a swim squad and train regularly. The kids they are beating are ones who get up early in the morning to train, and do lots of competitions. I guess you have to really love it, and really want it. My boys are too obsessed with soccer I think to have time for swimming practice! That’s all good, I just want them to be happy. :-)

Proud mama, signing off.