Month: June 2014

Parenting Moments to Love – whilst we lay low between travel adventures!

We’ve been very much home bodies after our exciting week away in San Francisco, with side trips to Santa Cruz and Monterey. It’s been nearly three weeks since we got back and we’ve been very self contained in the house we’re renting in Santa Barbara, till the end of August this year. The three girls are so content with their own projects that we rarely feel the need to get away from house and having a swimming pool in the backyard gives a wonderful release when indoors gets too much! I also think there’s an unconscious need to pace ourselves – as we tend to go ‘all out’ on exploring mode when we’re away; and we’ve recently had the news that we’ll be travelling to Europe in a week’s time!

Yes, we’re off to Copenhagen, in beautiful Denmark, for the first two weeks of July, followed by a week in North Wales, in the UK, visiting family and a week in Hampshire, south of London, in the UK, visiting more family. The first two weeks hubby will be working and I’ll be navigating the streets of Copenhagen with my three daughters (once we’ve got over the jet-lag!). Thankfully daylight hours extend to nearly midnight – so I’ll probably encourage the girls to lay low in the morning and party hard in the evening, once their Daddy has finished work!

All this travel is definitely exciting, but kind of exhausting with children too! So, when we’re not travelling, this is how we pass the time – and it’s pretty special too…

In between the crafting, imaginary play, rabbit chasing and Minecraft Skype sessions with friends, late into the night, there have been copious games in the swimming pool,  song writing, singing, reading and quieter moments to watch the birds nesting in the eaves of the house we’re staying. I’m going to miss this year of natural learning, without having to rush out the door to be somewhere at a particular time. It’s been wonderful to have all three girls at home, interacting, living, playing and being together.

I’ve enjoyed stretching out on the yoga mat, under the endless blue sky of southern California, and heading out the door for runs in the evening. The girls inspire me with their energy, often encouraging me to dive into the swimming pool with them, to try a new stretch or go for a run on the local running track. In the past few weeks they’ve been down the batting cage and to the climbing wall. There’s always something happening, but it’s all unscheduled, natural flowing action.

In preparation for our next trip away I have loaded up a Danish App on our gadgets, so we can use our manners in the native language whilst in Copenhagen! The girls are looking forward to the adventure and have been watching YouTube videos about Copenhagen and experimenting with the language. We’re staying in a lovely apartment, in central Copenhagen, near an area known as ‘Little Paris’ (good coffee and Danish pastries!).

Our travelling will soon take us back to New Zealand too, as after this trip we shall have a couple more months in California, USA, before heading back to our home in Wellington, New Zealand! It’s the birth place and home of our children. Our children, particularly our eldest daughter, very much miss their friends and their home. It will be good, in many ways, to get back to the community and good friends we know and love – but a part of me will miss the travelling! Thankfully, with my daughters getting older, I feel a few more independent trips of exploration on the horizon.

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Joining in with the lovely…

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Top Dad | Father’s Day 2014

He’s Dad to three daughters. He gives his all to connect with them individually. They each have very different personalities, that take a lot of skill and energy to work with! They demand his energy, time, humour and patience – and, most of the time (!), he wouldn’t have it any other way. He gets home from work and leaves his work-hat at the door. He’s so good at putting on his ‘Dad hat’ with a genuine heart and mind. If he does have to catch up on work he tries to wait till later at night… though his daughters can quite easily, between them, burn the candle at both ends! He needs his coffee and was very deserving of breakfast in bed on Father’s Day, 15 June, this year!

Happy Father's Day!

Miss 10 (nearly 11), his oldest daughter, is a fan of all things science-fiction and Minecraft. She’s not into sport much, but loves to dance and sing. She shares a love of music with her Daddy. She isn’t one for hugs and kisses. She’s hard to comfort when upset. The best tonic is laughter and a light-hearted distractive approach – which her Dad is the best at. She doesn’t seek out attention, but will withdraw to her room and independently entertain herself for hours and hours. Her two younger sisters are much more verbally and physically demanding of their Dad’s attention – so Dad has to make sure he schedules special one on one time with his oldest daughter. He’s so good at this. He’ll take her out to watch the latest movie or play a board game with her. Sometimes they fire up the Play Station and play ‘Sing Star’ together.

Happy Father's Day

Miss 8 and a half, the middle daughter, is very boisterous, doesn’t have a volume switch, is extremely physical and attention seeking. She has unstoppable energy that can be exhausting and draining at times – as well as uplifting and inspiring. She is constantly testing her body to see what she can physically achieve. She’ll be in the swimming pool, seeing how far she can swim underwater, doing headstands on her surf board, egging her Dad on for a game of tag or a session down the ‘batting cage’ or at the climbing wall. When she does sit down she’ll still fidget, or stand on her head whilst watching something on the TV. She likes history, reading and writing songs. She’s a deep thinker and often anxious about the world’s problems and how they affect us as a family, and her as an individual, this can cause some in-depth, impromptu, late night, conversations!

Miss 4 years and 4 months adores hugs and is very loveable. She is definitely a sensory seeker, like Miss 8. She will try all types of food, even spicy. She has a very easy going personality with an imaginative and creative mind. She loves to cuddle up with her Daddy and chitter, chatter away to him about what she’s been up to. She also loves to splash about with him in the swimming pool and be carried high on his shoulders. She’s still small enough for her Daddy to throw her in the air and give her ‘Daddy rides’. She giggles and laughs with a big heart and smile.

Miss 4

And then, there’s his wife! What a man to handle three unique daughters and still find some time to be attentive to his wife.

He’s a very caring, attentive and generous man and his daughters adore him (as do I) x

The Photo Gallery | The Longest Day

It’s normally at this time of year, in New Zealand, that I’m rugged up with a Pinot Noir, glaring at a flickering candle and wishing I was somewhere warmer. There’s a certain romanticism of tucking up and hunkering down for winter – but it wears off pretty quickly (unless of course there’s a ton of fresh powder snow on a mountain nearby!).

This year, I am in the northern hemisphere, seeing in the longest day, and feeling very appreciative of the sunshine, warmth and long daylight hours. I looked at my Facebook feed of updates from family and friends in the northern hemisphere with shared appreciation and not a shred of envy. Meanwhile, I looked at my southern hemisphere pals in New Zealand with admiration – as some were running marathons and half-marathons, others throwing themselves in the water at Lyall Bay for a mid-winter swim and some hitting the snowy slopes.

I suppose I could have thrown myself in the Pacific ocean for a swim, but went for a run instead. I finished up with a beautiful walk along the beach, at high-tide, getting splashed by the break waves hitting the rocks as I carefully made my way from Santa Barbara beach to Butterfly Beach.

Santa Barbara beach to Butterfly Beach at high tide

I wasn’t alone on my walk. This beautiful pair of white heron were never more than ten yards from me. They kept a wary eye on me, not entirely pleased to be sharing their spot with a bumbling, bare-footed, human. I did try to channel my inner mountain goat spirit whilst scrambling over the rocks, but really didn’t look very graceful – although I managed to complete my walk without a twisted ankle, so that’s a result.

White Heron

I feel very fortunate to be here at the moment, knowing that when the daylight hours start to decrease toward winter, I shall be back in Wellington, New Zealand, just as summer approaches. I shall take the memories of this year in southern California with me, where the sky has almost always been blue and outdoor celebrations have rarely needed a ‘Plan B’. There were two summer-solstice weddings set up on the beach, with typical Californian confidence of the weather being good.

I love the light. I can cope with cold, wind and rain, but natural light is like water to my body and soul. It’s been great to have such a good dose of it this year! Definitely good for my health. 

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Joining in with ‘The Photo Gallery’ at Sticky Fingers, with this week’s theme of ‘The Longest Day‘.

The Photo Gallery | Breathe

Saving a little lady bird

1.

She stops her splashing,
to stare at the life she’s saved from the water.
There on her fingers, the lady bird clings,
resting for a while, before taking flight.
Then she exhales, aware of her breathing,
and the miracle of life.

Silent breathe

2.

‘Look! There’s a rabbit!’ she wants to shout,
but muffles her voice with her hand –
so as not to scare the rabbit.

She turns to her parents, backlit by the sun,
to make sure they are watching.

They walk slower,
aware of the noise each step makes,
conscious of their breath,
every inhale and exhale.

In that moment they feel connected –
to all of life itself.

Sleep

3.

Thankful, for
the gentle rise and fall of her chest,
the sound of her breath,
the life force that flows through her,
that was once shared within me.

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Three children I’ve been blessed with,
carried into this world,
watched over whilst they slept through illness –
and rejoiced in the sound of their breath.

running on the beach

4.

Most of the day I just breathe,
without awareness, or appreciation.
Then I have a moment to myself, a gift,
to run on the beach,
or stretch out with a few sun salutations,
and am flooded with awareness –
and it’s an all encompassing,
mind, body and soul feeling,
of being truly alive.

© Sarah Lee, June 2014

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Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery

A beautiful weekend in Monterey

We drove into Monterey on Friday evening, after a stunning drive along the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco.

Beautiful Bay on the Pacific Coast Highway enroute to Monterey from San Francisco

If time had permitted we would have stopped a while to enjoy the many picturesque, sandy bays. Some of the bays were carved deeply into high cliffs, with difficult access making them even more appealing to explore. The quiet, remoteness of some of the bays reminded us very much of New Zealand.

We stopped at one bay, which curved along the edge of the highway, to watch some incredible kite surfers catching the prevailing wind.

Kite surfer catching some air!

I often carry a small kite or two in my holiday suitcase (along with a ball, pens, paper and a couple of electronic gadgets!) and this was a perfect place for a quick fly.

Miss 4 didn’t need to run with her kite to catch the wind at this spot; on the contrary she had to cling on tight or lose her kite! I’m just glad the kite wasn’t any larger – as I’m sure she would have flown with it!

Miss 4 holding on tight to her kite

After a quick breather (literally!) we climbed back in the car, along with a burned log that Miss 4 insisted on carting along with us. She was hoping to make a driftwood house, like some we’d spotted earlier on our drive, but nature hadn’t delivered any to this particular beach.

When we arrived at Monterey we were all pretty tired and ready to relax. The beautiful Intercontinental Hotel, which hubbie had booked us into for two nights, was a perfect place to chill – and we had a room with a view.

We didn’t have much on our agenda for our brief visit to Monterey. We had all day Saturday, before driving back to Santa Barbara on the Sunday; though there was one place which was an absolute ‘must do’ and that was the incredible Monterey Aquarium.

It’s not like any other aquarium we’ve visited. The sheer magnitude of the tanks has to be seen to believed. There is a whole kelp forest, which can be viewed on a number of levels, along with an ‘Open Sea’ tank, where you feel like you’re right there, in the midst of all the action.

It’s really like having a glimpse into another world.

As well as these spectacular large scale exhibits there’s also plenty of hands on activities for younger children to learn about the ocean environment, alongside touch pools and smaller viewing windows on particular species and different environments.

And there’s the most incredible and fun jellyfish exhibit.

A very incredible place indeed!

What’s more, the waters surrounding the aquarium are absolutely teeming with life. Hubbie went to find a bottle store, to pick up a celebratory bottle of bubbles for our 15th Wedding Anniversary, and came across a beach of seals!

He did eventually return with a bottle of bubbly (after a slight Forrest Gump style detour!), along with some food from Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. opposite the hotel.

A wonderful weekend with great memories.

Now, go visit the wonderful Coombe Mill in Cornwall, England, for some beautiful outdoor fun… 🙂

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall