Relationships

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 | Sport

It’s a special week of celebration on Sticky Fingers blog’s ‘The Photo Gallery’ this week.  Parenting bloggers in the UK put their heads together to create an event for Sport Relief this year which had the whole of the community buzzing – the Team Honk Relay. Bloggers up and down the land joined together to travel the length of the UK to raise money and awareness.

180 bloggers all over the UK who took on the baton (along with their family and friends), from Land’s End to John O Groats, running, cycling, swimming, roller skating, scooting, pushing buggies. They raised more than £30,000 (donations to ‘Team Honk’ are still open here).

So, to mark this momentous achievement, this week the Photo Gallery theme is: Sport.

My photograph is of my three daughters riding their bikes together (our youngest has just learned to ride a bike with stabilisers). I had one of those ‘Mamma heart swell moments’, seeing them riding together, and was thankful for my camera phone in my pocket to capture the moment.

Sisters riding their bikes together

It hasn’t been easy for them to leave their home in Wellington, New Zealand, and move to California, USA, for a questionable length of time. Our eldest, in particular, left behind a school she loved. They all left behind friends they loved and the home they’ve known since they were babes. On the flip side, they’ve bonded like never before. After a tried, and failed, attempt at school in the USA we made the decision to try home schooling and are now on a path of natural living and learning, where every day is a new day. The biggest value of this experience has been putting family first. Their relationship, as sisters, is more united than it ever was. As a family we are stronger than ever.

The aren’t involved in any sport teams or clubs as such, but they run, play, swim, cycle, dance, sing, and breath the same air together! They are learning in ways that money can’t buy.

Sport is more than beating a personal best, or another team or player, it’s about being active and embracing life, with enthusiasm and fairness. Seeing the three of my daughters together, playing tag or encouraging one another to try a new dive in the pool or a stunt on the monkey bars, is thoroughly heart warming. Love, love, love!

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Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery

Away to the Peak District & pause for thought | Part 3

Every since I became a parent I felt grateful; grateful because as a couple we could afford for me to stay at home and be with our children in their early childhood. I have loved it, appreciated it, immersed myself in their world and learned so much from it. On the flip side – I’ve followed my husband’s career – wherever it’s taken us. From England, to New Zealand, from New Zealand to California, USA, and now – who knows? Giving up a paid career, meant saying ‘Yes’ to wherever my husband’s career took us. I lost the right to say, ‘I need to stay here, this is where my work is.’ I have, on the whole, been happy to go where the river has taken me, but this latest journey to live in California, and my recent visit to my birth country, of England, has given me time for reflection.

Peak District

A big part of me would love to return to my home of England. I would love to live in Hampshire, near my parents (and be there for them in their later years), or maybe the Peak District, near my sister. It was a highlight of my short, four-day visit, to travel up to see her. It had been two years since we were last together – when she visited my family and I in Wellington, New Zealand. I was so delighted to finally see her home in the Peak District and catch up with her fantastic partner – who I hadn’t seen in some six years!

My sister at home in the Peak District

We rendezvoused in Bakewell, meeting up for lunch, before driving on to her home in the Peak District. My dear Mum and Dad were with me. They’d stopped the previous night at ‘The Grove’ in Hertfordshire with me – where I’d attended the amazing wedding of an old friend from University days. I was very well looked after (and they kept me so busy that there was little time for me to be anxious about how my caring hubbie was faring back in California – looking after our three daughters). It felt amazing to be reunited with my sister, along with our parents. It was like the old days; just the four of us. I felt so light and energised to be there as a daughter and a sister, without the added responsibility of motherhood.

Wintery weather in Bakewell

We wondered the streets of Bakewell at leisure, without needing to meet the demands of three children in tow. We ate a relaxed lunch and took our time to choose a Bakewell Pie to take back to my sister’s house for pudding.

Bakewell

I have always loved England. I love the history, the landscapes, the people and above all my family. Just recently, with all the crazy floods and storms, they’ve unearthed footprints dating back over 800,000 years – the oldest evidence of humans, outside of Africa! I  love that the UK has the ‘right to roam’. The land, as far as the eye can see, is accessible to the body. Those ancient rights of way are still in place and beg to be explored, in all seasons, just like people have done for hundreds of thousands of years.

I’ve never been a begrudging British expat, wishing away my life in England. I’ve always been partly homesick for it and nostalgic. I never cared a damn about the weather when I was there (apart from January and February – the dark months – I definitely need light – not warmth – but light!). I was brought up to wrap up warm and embrace the elements. To make the most of a sunny day. I fondly remember the feeling of a walk in the cold and returning to my home, or the pub, with cold, pink cheeks, feeling tingling and alive. There is nothing like ‘real weather’ to make a person feel alive! In fact, after six months of living in Southern California – with mostly blue sky and sunshine every day – I was absolutely ecstatic to see clouds, rain, even a flurry of snow on the drive from Bakewell to my sister’s house. I hung out the window of my sister’s car with my camera, trying to capture an approaching snow cloud, loving the feel of my face being chilled by the cold air whizzing past!

Driving through real weather in the Peak District

When we arrived at my sister’s house we snuggled in for a lovely catch up, dinner and a slide show; of my sister’s recent trip to Colorado with her partner, Mike Hutton (who is an incredible outdoor photographer and it was such a delight to see his incredible photographs of Utah, USA). After hearing about their trip we plugged in my Dad’s camera and shared their recent trip to see us and their granddaughters in California. So great to catch up, properly, in person.

My sister, her beloved, and my parents, in her home, in the Peak District

It was such a fantastic evening that I couldn’t sleep that night for thinking. Thinking about how different my life would be if I hadn’t ended up living so far away from my dearest sister, Mum and Dad. I followed the man I’d met at University. I followed his career. I followed him to a beautiful country, New Zealand, that seriously captured my heart.

Looking back, now, it was the classic want of ‘youth’ – for something ‘else’.

So, I married the man I knew, followed his career path, had his children and have, seriously, loved it all. But, I have wondered, over the years,  in those moments of the overwhelming responsibility of parenting, whether it was the right choice: Especially seeing my dear sister, for the first time in two years, with the love of her life, in the home they share, in the Peak District, England.

Peak District

Isn’t this normal? Surely there’s plenty of forty year olds (or nearly forty year olds – yes, it’s THAT year for me) that ask this? I am probably just having one of those ‘mid-life’ moments. There’s too much questioning, analysis and pondering. It’s not at all healthy and, if I’m honest, everything right now in my immediate focus is just fine.

I am lucky to have a husband that’s used to my questioning, analytical nature. I have always been open and honest with him. I do believe that an open relationship, where both partners feel confident to voice everything they think and feel, makes for a lasting relationship. My husband is loving, attentive, caring and wonderful. He is an amazing husband, father and friend. We live life well and do, seriously, have much affection and love for one another. He has walked back and forth, past me, whilst I write this post, and I haven’t felt the need to close the lid on my lap-top. He knows, and trusts, that my ramblings are part of my nature. He lets me be. He loves me, all the same. God, I am a lucky woman! He lets me head out for a run when he knows I need it most. He picks up the phone when I call him. He answers. He’s there. He meets me on the beach, with our youngest. He is always there, whenever he can be, whilst supporting his family in a successful career. He is always there. Writing this post makes me see this all so clearly… and that’s why he lets me write, lets me question, lets me be – open, honest, real.

My husband. My Miss 3. My love.

On that note I shall finish up this questioning post of my own future. I share this, because I can. I have a husband I do deeply love. I am so, so fortunate that he married me knowing I was a looney! He knew I was crazy when we met. He lives with my craziness. We are, together, a unit, and have three crazy, yet wonderful, lively, energetic, inspiring children.

It’s normal to question. It’s normal to wonder, ‘What might have been’. It’s normal to want to stay in touch with people that have touched our lives in the past. We are all living this live, in some kind of ‘oneness’. Let’s be kind to one another. We are never really, ever, ‘grown-up’. We are all just trying to figure out life, the best we can, and let’s be kind to one another and spread the love the best our hearts see fit!

I have a husband who listens, who tries, with all his genuine heart and soul to understand. In the words of the trolls from the latest Disney movie ‘Frozen’, he truly is, ‘a fixer upper’ when it comes to life.

I started writing this post after too many wines, and have since edited it – but the words I’ve left out felt good to write at the time. After those wines I had a good cry and my dear husband hugged me, listened to me, answered my questions, made suggestions that sound right, and understood me. I am so grateful for him. Yes, I have followed him for eleven years. I have given up a career of my own. I have been, above all else, a mother. I have given my heart and soul to my children. I have tried, in all those years, to be supportive, caring, attentive and ‘sexy’ to my husband. I have worked to keep our love and relationship alive. I have had moments of self-doubt and wondered, ‘What if…’, but I am in the right place, at the right time, with the right man.

I love that he ‘let me go’ on a solo trip to the UK. He was amazing, as I knew in my heart he would be, with our three daughters, for the six days and four night’s I was away. It was the first time, in over ten years, I’d been away on my own.

He knew there would be a need for me to process the trip away in my own time, to decompress and put it all in perspective. I love him for his understanding.

Lots of love, Sarah xx (with special thanks to my husband for understanding me and standing by me in all my ramblings!) x

The final part of my trip I’ll write about in due course. The last day we travelled back from the Peak District to Hampshire, enjoying the scenery and finished up with a delightful evening watching ‘Giselle’, the ballet, at a cinema theatre in Camberley, screened live from the Royal Opera House in London.

Read ‘Part 1′ of my trip here: ‘LA to UK for 4 days, sans children. A once in a decade trip!

Read ‘Part 2’ here: An English wedding and a reunion of old friends

An English Wedding & a reunion of old friends (Part 2 of my trip to the UK)

I have missed so many weddings in England over the past fifteen years living in New Zealand. My dearest friends from school, college and University days have met their sweethearts, walked down the aisle, partied like there’s no tomorrow, all whilst I’ve been wishing for someone to invent instant travel through time. Unfortunately, often laden with a child, and the cost of travelling some 36 hours across the world, the feasibility of me managing to materialise for those weddings has been zero to impossible. But, in this one instance, placed a little closer around the globe to England (on the Californian Coast of the USA, as opposed to Wellington, New Zealand) I felt better placed (and granted more well financed, with children not in babyhood) to make the journey.

This was to be the wedding of the century to date (bearing in mind that I was married last century, ha, ha, and I have three daughters that may, or may not, get married one day… but I am SO not ready to think about the latter just yet!).

It was the wedding of one of my dearest University pals to her long time sweetheart.

Wedding of Alice and Mike

At the wedding were several University pals – making it quite the reunion, some twenty years since we graduated – or there about. It was an opportunity to finally meet the respective other halves that I’d heard my Uni pals dream about in drunken stupor at the University of Southampton, to hear about their off spring, to discuss life on the cusp – or having just turned – forty… and to compare smile lines. It was one of the last friends, of my close buddies from Uni days, to walk down the aisle and the timing was perfect. I wasn’t going to miss this wedding for all the tea in China (or, more apt to my personal circumstances, all the potential wedding YouTube video takes of the wedding). I had to be there.

Surprisingly, my usual instinct to capture every moment on camera totally evaded me at the wedding (and the photographs I did take, later in the evening when the dancing got going… are probably best not shared here – lest I risk ending those very long, special friendships!). I was so caught up in the moment, and literally shaking with excitement at being there, that it felt totally inane to get out my camera. I wanted to embrace the moment heart and soul and, during the service especially, didn’t feel right intervening on the magic of the moment (besides, there were professionals employed to do that already!).

And magical moments there were indeed… The dear youngest son of the bride and groom walked down the aisle, at the tender age of four, holding a sign reading, ‘Daddy, here comes your Bride’! He walked with  a strong step, but bashfully hid behind the sign; the perfect blend of confidence and innocent shyness. He continued, throughout the wedding, past the dinner, speeches and first dance, with equal perfection of character, finishing up with a party building dance of ‘Gangman Style’ on the dance floor!

After the service, at the historic house of ‘The Grove‘, in Hertfordshire, England (where the presence of early man on the land dates back to 7,000 BC!) we were treated to champagne and canapes (which I can never manage to eat without making a mess and general fool of myself – so passed on several times, whilst trying to sip s.l.o.w.l.y. on the champagne!). Whilst we caught up with one another and marvelled at the gorgeous Mr & Mrs in their finery (and pondered on sharing the same space that, once upon a time, Queen Victoria, King Edward, Tiger Woods and many more illustrious guests have stayed, played and partied) roving entertainers kept us all amused (not that we really needed anything extra, but they certainly left an impression… a magician, a pick-pocket and caricature artists!).

Feeling pleasantly relaxed the bell was rung for dinner and we all made our way to our tables for the dinner and speeches  (little did we all know, there were some ‘singing waiters’ to keep us all in high spirits, no chance of a post dinner snooze! By the time the singing waiters had finished with us, we were all ears for the speeches and feeling pumped up for an evening’s dancing.).

I have to mention here how particularly special this dear friend of mine is. I’ve only ever known her to be smiling, positive, caring and thinking of others. Life has dealt her a tough hand; with the unexpected and sudden death of her father to a brain tumour and, a few year’s later, her dear sister, Lauren, also passed away due to brain cancer.  Both her and dear Mum have been absolute troupers. My friend, Alice, raised nearly £40,000 for Cancer Research UK and carried the Olympic Torch through Hatfield, UK, on Sunday July 8 2012;

“Thanks to support of Lauren’s friends and family and the very generous donations, inspired by Lauren’s story. A big honour for me, and a huge source of amusement for Lauren, I’m sure!” (Alice Breheny)

And so, as anyone reading this will imagine, this wedding was extremely touching in so many ways, not just on the happy union of two incredible people, but in memory of two very special people, taken too soon. It was a wedding filled with happiness, tears, laughter, memories and positive thoughts to the future – the full roller coaster of emotions!

As the official photographer rightly puts it (and you simply MUST check out the incredible photographs!);

“Anyone who was bored at Alice and Mike’s wedding at the Grove last weekend deserved to be thrown out.  They were determined to give their guests a great time and every minute of the day was filled.  In no particular order they had … the beautiful setting of The Grove, candy floss, a photobooth, a caricaturist, Keith the Thief (a pickpocket), a magician (amazing), hilarious and very talented singing waiters, a spectacular evening disco, a dancing competition and air guitars.  And best of all a great crowd of friends and family who lapped it up and rocked the night away.  Add to that a fantastic couple and their four much loved children to welcome everyone and it all adds up to quite some wedding.”

It really was one of the best weddings I have ever attended. There was such a positive vibe amongst everyone and it was definitely worth the flight to be there! Alice, ever thoughtful and caring, left a surprise waiting for me on the dinner table at the wedding, which brought a tear to my eye…

A beautiful gift from my friend

I danced the night away with my Uni friends and finally got to sleep about 2am ish… only to be woken around 8.30 am isn for a drive up to the Peak District to see my dear sister and her man! Thankfully I wasn’t driving – my dear folks had stayed the night at The Grove too, and joined in the dancing (but turned in at a more sensible hour!).

What a wedding! I wish Mike and Alice very many happy, wonderful years together and Mike, you are indeed ‘A very lucky man!’…

A very lucky man!

 

Read ‘Part 1’ of my trip here: ‘LA to UK for 4 days, sans children. A once in a decade trip!

Prose for Thought | The anxiety of separation

Her face was just like all the rest,
on pick up time at three.
The adrenaline that had twisted thick,
buried for a spell.

The anguish of the morning,
the torment of the night.
The constant torture of anxiety,
that steals family time.

It even creeps upon us at weekends,
when we’re trying to forget.
She tosses and turns every bedtime,
needing a parent’s close presence.

Her body sending messages,
of chemical potency.
Turning her stomach into iron knots,
her mind into a throbbing ball of pain.

There is no magic book of answers,
even the professionals are surprised.
The magnitude of her anguish,
the irrationality of her mind.

Her body in full fight or flight,
yet the predator is not what it seems.
There is no need to do either,
but her mind is plagued with doubt.

© Sarah Lee, 8 September, 2013

Goleta coast, Santa Barbara

Anxiety BC | Separation Anxiety Disorder

Prose for Thought

The Photo Gallery | World Photography Day

IMG_7051
To my dear husband,
A special photo I took today. A moment in time. The marking of a new chapter in our lives. We are going to have an amazing time here, I am sure of it, especially once we are properly settled. We are so fortunate to have been blessed with wonderful childhoods in England, an amazing married life in New Zealand – bringing our three New Zealand born daughters into the world, and now this new opportunity for adventure and discovery in California.
I love you. We are both strong. We work so hard to give our daughters our devoted time and attention.
We will be fine in this new place we have called ‘home’ – for however long – and we WILL find and make MORE time for you and I too 😉  xx
Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery