Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Wet puddle!

The creek

There is a stream that runs along the side of upper Mangatawhiri campground in the Hunua Ranges, and this was our picnic spot on Sunday afternoon.

It’s been a while since we were here last, and that time was on a mountain bike. This time I was happy to explore our native forest via the Nikon and watch my two favourite guys throwing stones into the creek.

It is no wonder that my favourite colour is green because, quite frankly, it's the only one that can provide such imagery of vibrancy and life in amongst the stillness.

I would have jumped right into the creek and frolicked around in the water, but it is still way too cold for that (although there were kids there that were doing just that - goes to show how much of a pansy I've become!).

The dam

The Mangatangi Reservoir is New Zealand's largest water supply dam and second largest earth dam (I’ve just found out from reading the Super City website). Jef has loads of memories of this place from his childhood where he spent hours upon hours exploring and playing here.

Lush fields of grass lead up to the dam where sheep grazed.

We wandered along the path to the spillway, and Kien played merrily in the tall grass.

When Jef lived out here they used to put Foxglove flowers onto their fingers. He has passed the tradition on.

As we made our way back along the ridge Kien decided wanted to pee like the big boys. So we let him try.

Even though he looks the part he wasn't really too sure of what to do next.

It was perfect weather for a lovely afternoon at the dam.

The falls

We made a brief detour to the Hunua Falls before heading home.

Kien was in the mood to run around. This is what he looks like running away from us as fast as he can.

When Kien first understood the concept of "wet" one of his first 2 word sentence was "wet puddle" as he pointed at the ocean at Coxs Bay. It always makes me smile when I think about that.

Inspired by water for this post our trip to the Hunua Ranges was timely yet completely spontaneous.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The art of balance

We don't have it fully sussed out yet, but we are getting there - albeit baby steps (no pun intended). Trying to get some balance back into our lives has been trying for the last 23 months. It has felt like our lives have been put on hold, waiting for things with Kien to get easier.

Now that he has been consistently sleeping through maybe once every 3 or so nights at least we've been managing to get a little bit more solid stretches for our sleep cycles, making functioning the following day a lot more bearable. More sleep makes loving life a heck of a lot easier for sure!

We found a babysitter to let us out on week nights, hooray! Once upon a time when it was just Jef and I (a distant memory now) we used to go out 3-4 times a week, mostly because a) having someone else cook for us was awesome, and b) it's just a lot more fun to be out drinking in the atmosphere (no pun intended). Now perhaps we can have some semblance of our pre-Kien life - maybe not 3-4 times, but definitely at least once a week/fortnight.

We went out on Thursday night! That sentence deserves an exclamation mark, and what's more, we didn't turn into pumpkins until midnight. We went up to Ken Yakitori Bar on K'Rd (our old haunt way back when), and savoured every bite of every dish that we ordered one-at-a-time, 'cause, you know, we had all night to drink and enjoy (pun definitely intended).

We discovered this place not long after we came back from our first trip to Japan in 2006, and just love the authenticity of this establishment.

After finishing our pleasantly savoured meal accompanied by hot house sake and Santory Malts beer, we ambled down Queen St.

Care for the Chef's special of fried and spicy chicken beer, anyone?

We stopped by Starks for some Long Island Ice Tea. They were playing some groovy Latin American music - I got Jef to Shazam it for me, and I'll definitely be downloading some tracks.

Babysitter said that Kien was so easy to put to bed, and there were no problems whatsoever - exactly what I wanted to hear.

There is an art to balancing life with a child and "having a life" that doesn't just revolve around his existence. I think we are finally getting that blend right, and I am glad.

I'm linking this with other bloggers posting about the things they are loving too.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Volcanoes, helicopters and firemen

Auckland sports an array of volcanoes, and it seems anywhere we go we can spot at least one of them.

Our most prominent is the 5.5 km wide island that is Rangitoto; a widely visible landmark with its distinctive symmetrical cone - the formation from eruptions 600 years ago. The name is translated as "Bloody Sky", and I can imagine the ferociousness and burning hell with which this volcano earned that name. But now it is an iconic beauty; it is the backdrop of many of my photographs, and Sunday afternoon's pictures were no exception.

These were scenes from Castor Bay on the North Shore. It was a windy day, but the sun was shining and the sea was calling.

Before I had a child I never took notice of places with playgrounds. Now I can't help but make a mental note of anywhere with good playgrounds.

Ports of Auckland

We had not previously noticed the path on the other side of the heliport. Yay for pathways that take you almost the entire distance of the shipping container port. There were lovely views over to North Head and Mt Victoria, the highest volcano on Auckland's North Shore.

I could not stop Kien throwing the limestones over the edge - it's just one of those things he does.

Helicopter spotting - take three

Three weekends in a row now, waiting patiently for helicopters.

We just knew one was bound to land that afternoon because the heliport was empty. Our patience paid off.

The chopper dropped off a few firemen kitted out in their gear. As we watched them disembark I wondered what job they had just been picked up from, where they had been, what they had done.

After watching the helicopter take off again we drove away at the same time as the firemen in their bright red fire-engine.

Fire is the inspired theme for this week, and in the wake of Sydney's rest-home tragedy it is clear that yin and yang are juxtaposed where this element is concerned. Seeing the Westpac helicopter AND the firemen made me feel grateful for the services they provide.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

What made me smile last week?

Red sky at night

It signals a beautiful day to follow.

Jef took this shot last Thursday evening before he set up the spotting scope. When the sky was finally dark and the timing was just right we gazed through the scope and saw Jupiter and the 4 Galilean moons.

AirPlay mirroring

Also just straight up AirPlay. Our TV is my iPad's giant monitor.

I know it's geeky, but man it's so cool. Kien definitely appreciates this feature, as he has an insatiable appetite for watching helicopters.

The summer sun streaming through our ranch-slider

It gets warm and extremely bright in our lounge in the afternoons.

Better that than gray, I say, even if it does make us all squint!

Giant strawberries!

Summer is here, and we have strawberries.

Big, bright, beautiful, juicy ones.

My son

Even if I did have to take Friday off work to look after him due to a tummy bug (meaning lots of liquid coming out from either end - meaning lots of washing) this little dude still made me smile.

Don't get me wrong, he can cling and whine and carry on and on like a broken record, but then he switches to being the cheeky, adorable, fun, energetic, playful creature that melts my heart and compels me kiss him 75647394 times a day.


I'm linking this post with other parents who are blogging about the things we are loving right now.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Making mummy friends

Back in September 2010 when Kien was 9 months old I decided it was time to meet other mums in my neighborhood. I had been cooped up inside feeling alone in my strange new world of eat-activity-sleep routine dramas, and I just needed some interaction with other mothers in a similar situation, having similar experiences, speaking similar sleep-depraved sentence structures. It just happened that the Plunket newsletter arrived in my letterbox on a day when I was feeling particularly lonely, so I called the person who organises coffee group placements for mothers, and she gave me an email address. So during Kien's afternoon catnap I wrote this gastly email that sounded like a business proposal.

From: lien
Date: 13 September 2010 4:10:23 PM
To: danielle
Subject: coffee group

Hi there,

I was given your details by Eva after contacting her regarding coffee groups in my area.  My child is a late Dec 2009 baby and Eva informed me the Dec group no longer meets. Is your group still meeting? If so I would love to join. 

I look forward to hearing from you.



Not long afterwards I received these friendly replies.

On Mon, Sep 13, 2010 at 4:21 PM, Danielle wrote:
Hi girls,

Lien has just made contact with me (see below).  Could you please include her on email re next coffee group as I will be overseas still.

Hi Lien,

You're most welcome to join us.  We usually meet fortnightly on Tues morning.  This one is being postponed, so think the next is tomorrow fortnight.  I will be away but will look forward to meeting you the following one.


On 15/09/2010, at 13:43, Denise wrote:

Hi there,
I have added a friend of mine Frana to the list as well for coffee group.  Frana has a 10 month old so not too much older!
See you in a couple of weeks.


So then it occurred to me that I had no idea what the protocols were or how it all works, this "coffee group" thing.

On Thu, Sep 23, 2010 at 5:11 PM, Lien wrote:

Hi, I forgot to ask, do I need to bring a plate? 

On 23/09/2010, at 22:15, Denise wrote:

no just turn up!
see you then


So I trotted along to my first coffee group ever on a beautiful sunny Spring morning.

The children back then were merely crawling, or pulling themselves up and cruising around furniture slowly. Now, fourteen months later, they are running and jumping all over the place.

We still meet up, not as regularly since we are all back to our regular lives (as opposed to maternity leave lives). We still do meet up in parks over swings and slides, occassional kids dinners like this and this, birthday celebrations, and more recently we've done drinks at local restaurant/bars when the children are in bed and our men are on watch.

Our last excursion was Wednesday night. Not everyone was able to make it - 5 of the 8 of us were at Andiamo.

(Right to left) Denise, Frana, Nic, Nicola, Me.

Over antipasto assortments and Pinot Gris (and some variety of red I don't remember) we conversed beyond dirty nappies and kiddie meal topics.

We are multi faceted, but quite often when we are busy juggling babies with work/study/siblings/family life/oligations/committments etc etc it is difficult to have deep, thought provoking conversations lasting longer than a couple of minutes before a child has to be chased/pushed on a swing/provided with snacks/mediated/picked up from a fall/cleaned/answered etc etc.

How nice it is then to be un-rushed; sitting outside under an early evening sky with the sun sinking slowly into the horizon. There was laughter and fun stories, philosophical musings, and lots of wine.

We talked about work, and about life beyond work - our lives, our reality.

Frana is heading off to Singapore in a couple of weeks, and she will call that her home for a while. We will try to meet up once again before she leaves.

Summer is here, and that means kids dinners are a lot easier to manage. Hopefully we will squeeze one in before the silly season.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wide open spaces

Another eventful weekend and week passes by where a lot of our time has been spent outside, in the fresh air - just the way I like it! Summer is all about being in wide open spaces, and for me, having the sea breeze glide over and tousle my son's hair as he runs after his kite, or sand oozing though the gaps in his toes as he plays gleefully with his bucket and spade - yeah, it makes me fell good about my life right now; good to be here, un-rushed.

Helicopter spotting – take two

So it was that on Sunday afternoon we found ourselves once again on the rocky path looking over the water separating us from the launchpad - helicopter spotting. Once again we waited patiently for a take off and/or landing, and once again there wasn't any.

That's okay, we got to see one being re-fueled, getting put on a trolly and being pushed to another part of the heliport. That was the closest we got to a launch on Sunday. Kien was happy, he got to point and yell "hey tee ta" lots!

The guys decided to check out the water, and brought back a nice sheet of seaweed. Jef took a bite out of it, but I didn’t fancy doing the same – not before thoroughly washing it at the very least.

Kite flying – take two

Our second attempt at kite flying for the weekend on Bastion point was a success. There was wind, lots and lots of wind.

It is not only me that loves wide open spaces – this little guy cannot sit still.

He did however have a lie down for 10 seconds…

…before he started taking his hat off and running away from me, knowing full well that I’d be chasing him to put that hat back on.

I love it up here on Bastion Point. The views are simply spectacular!

Beach gathering Tuesday afternoon

It was a family affair at Hamilton Rd Beach Reserve on Tuesday. The sun filtered through the gaps in the tree canopy creating discs of dancing light on our blankets. Kien did his usual and ran around making friends with strangers - that's when he's not just running around or climbing the stairs.

Kien's cousin Thomas had a good time crawling around in the muddy sand.

Then he was stripped and cleaned.

Little Thomas will be turning one at the beginning of next month. It seems like time has gone by so quickly.

What a lucky boy to have a Great Grandma.

It was fun playing with Great Grandma's hat, which I am now the proud owner of. Thanks, Mum!


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