Birthday

Our free wheeling 11 year old!

Our oldest daughter has just turned 11 and she celebrated in sunny California (her first ‘summer’ Birthday – as she was born in the middle of New Zealand’s winter – on a particularly wild day in Wellington!). She has grown tall enough to have her first proper bike, with gears and all that jazz, for cruising around. She very much wanted a retro style bike, with a large saddle, mud guards and room for a basket. She’s not keen on mountain biking, but definitely needed some gears for when we get back home to hilly Wellington, New Zealand.

On the morning of her Birthday she slept in – way past midday – finally waking at nearly 2pm in the afternoon (she’d spent the night before on Skype with her New Zealand pals), giving her Daddy plenty of time to go and pick up her new bike. She woke to her sisters greeting her in bed. They had been so excited to see her open her presents and waited very patiently all morning. The afternoon was a wonderfully relaxed one, with the girls all cruising on their bikes down the lane by the house. We ate a very late brunch and celebrated in the evening with a wee cake. Miss 11 was quite overwhelmed (in a good way) at her bike.

Birthday wheels for Miss 11

I was reminded of my own first ‘big bike’, a white racer that I rode throughout my teenage years all around the country lanes of north Hampshire, in England, where I grew up. I have so many fond memories of Sunday bike rides with my Dad and sister (usually with a pub stop for lunch, a coke-a-cola in a glass bottle with a straw and a packet of salt ‘n’ vinegar crisps!). It was wonderful to have those wheels and the freedom to visit friends. I kept my bike well into my University years and spent my first holiday with Dan, my now hubby, cruising around the Isle of Wight on my bike. We spent a week cycling up and down the hills of the beautiful island off the south coast of England, a short ferry ride from Southampton, and camping in a wee tent.

I could see in my daughter’s eyes the significance of this new set of wheels, how she envisioned herself biking around the bays of Wellington and along the waterfront (on those stunning sunshine days – probably not in a howling southerly!). It’s the perfect bike for her.

A few days after her Birthday she ventured out a little further on her bike, enjoying an evening ride with her Daddy around the streets of Montecito in Santa Barbara. The first of many rides!

She also celebrated her Birthday with a visit to a super duper cinema at ‘Muvico Thousand Oaks‘, where she watched Transformers 4 (she loves all things science fiction) in 3D and sat on a ‘D-BOX‘ seat! Her eight year old sister and Daddy joined her. They thought it was amazing and the ‘D-BOX’ seats were a huge hit! 

She’s done so well this past year, having to leave the school she loved in Wellington, New Zealand, to live in California, USA, for a while. She was so brave in making the move. She has missed her friends and school very much, but coped brilliantly. The ‘icing on the cake’ of her Birthday celebrations was the news that we will be flying back to her home in Wellington, New Zealand, in early October this year – just in time for ‘Term 4’ at the school she loves and to be a part of her dance school’s end of year show. She’ll then have the long summer break before starting Year 8 in 2015. She’s so thrilled and the sparkle in her eyes and smile has totally returned.

Loving turning Forty in Santa Monica!

My Facebook feed was flooded with lovely messages of ‘welcome to the club’ and ‘forties are the best’ this weekend. It’s been like reliving turning eighteen again, as I’ve watched friends slightly older than me party into their forties and then, last weekend, it was my turn.

It was a fabulous weekend away in Santa Monica, staying at a beautiful hotel overlooking the beach and pier. We shared the weekend with a really wonderful family, that we know from Wellington, who are also living here for a spell, but hold New Zealand in their hearts as their ‘forever’ home. Their gorgeous 4 year old son is a very close friend of our Miss 4 – and their relationship got a little closer at my 40th dinner celebrations… (he proposed!!!!!!)….

So, there’s me feeling like a really old lady, having a daughter get engaged (ha, ha! ‘Watch this space’!) on the same weekend I turned forty… and yet, I felt so ready for this ‘milestone’ Birthday. Of course, I decided to face it head on, battle style. There was no way I was going to head into my forties without a fight. I signed up for a half marathon several weeks before and am running it on 10 May, three weeks fresh from turning forty. After spending my thirties breeding, nappy changing and breastfeeding, it’s great to enter my forties at a new stage in my life. My children are no longer babes and it’s exciting to be ‘growing’ with them (though of course my growing taller days are way behind me – just have to keep on running to keep up with them and earn my chocolate, cake and bubbly!).

Anyway, a fabulous weekend and I don’t feel any need for deep reflection on this milestone Birthday, I’m just so grateful for my health, my family, my friends and living a peaceful life with freedom of choice, that’s full of possibilities.

Thanks dear friends for all your lovely messages. I really do feel fabulous at forty and am looking forward to the adventures this decade in my life will bring.

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Joining in with…

Writers Workshop | Easter

This Easter we are far away from our home (though home, for my husband and I, is forever split between the UK and New Zealand). By home, I mean our literal home, the property we own and have lived in for eight years. Our little patch of New Zealand, on Wellington’s south coast. The place our children call home. The place they were born. The place they love, talk about, and currently miss very much whilst we are living in the USA.

Whilst Wellington, New Zealand, is bathed in an autumnal glow, we are in California, where spring is moving toward summer. For the first time in a decade we are in the northern hemisphere for Easter. We are celebrating in the spring. The last Easter we celebrated in the northern hemisphere was in England, with my family, with our oldest daughter, who was then only nine months old. We enjoyed a wonderful holiday in beautiful Falmouth, Cornwall (blog post over on Catching the Magic) and then had a fabulous reunion of family and friends around the week of my 30th Birthday (photos here).

This year, Easter Sunday corresponds with my 40th Birthday; and I’m quite glad the focus will be placed more on the children’s collection of Easter eggs around the swimming pool, than my growing number of smile lines and grey hairs. But hey, I can still do a head stand, so my old noggin isn’t doing too bad 😉

Headstand on turning forty!

We are spending the weekend away in Santa Monica, hanging out with friends and their children. We anticipate lots of play in the swimming pool, fun at the fair-ground on the pier, and a few pleasurable glasses of wine (that’s after I’ve run my scheduled 12 miles on Friday evening … only 24 days to go till I run the Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon to raise funds for brave Elijah!). I can’t say I’m looking forward to running 12 miles on Friday, but I’m sure I’ll be on a high and very proud of myself afterwards. It will be the longest I’ve ran yet. Just 1.1 mile short of what I will have to run on 10 May. I’ll definitely feel proud to finish the half-marathon at the beginning of my forties (I know some friends have ran a full marathon, or more, on the cusp of their fortieth, or at a much earlier age – I really can’t imagine being capable of that – but who knows… maybe for my 50th!!!!).

Anyway, back to Easter and how we’ll be spending the weekend (the turning forty thing is obviously trying to overshadow the real importance of the weekend; which for my children will be chocolate, fair-ground rides and playing in the pool!). We shan’t be dipping and colouring our eggs on Easter Sunday, though we have been doing plenty of that this week (as well as baking some scrumptious cookies and adorning the windows with paper-towels, dipped in dye, to make the windows glow with colour), but will definitely be celebrating love and light on Sunday.

Scrumptious

I shall personally be grateful for my life thus far, blessed with mostly good health; a wonderful family; three happy, healthy, children; and a life richly filled with choices, opportunities and freedom. And, my wish this Easter, is that more people in the world could have this.

Happy Easter!

xx

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Joining in with….

Mama’s Losin’ It

Loved celebrating four years of our youngest daughter being in our lives!

We are so very blessed to have Alice in our family. She has spent her first four years sharing her happy zest for life with us and bringing us all so much joy. There’s been no need to rush her off to kindergarten when we were in New Zealand, or a preschool whilst here in California, as she’s always had plenty of activity in the home with her sisters, neighbourhood friends and family. She’s a chatty, friendly, sociable girl who has sooooo much love to share.

Alice the Princess!

We enjoyed a fabulous day of fourth Birthday celebrations with her over the weekend; from a morning of present opening and playing, to an afternoon of splashing in the swimming pool, running on the beach and finishing up with Birthday cake. Nothing was planned, everything just flowed.

She loved her special day and kept asking, again and again, ‘Am I really four now?’.

She kept checking to see if anything about herself had changed, along with her age. She thought that she’d be a different size or have to sleep in a different bed. I recall her older sisters asking similar questions around this age. She was almost a little worried about turning four, saying, ‘I’m happy being three, but I do like Birthdays!’.

It was hilarious when the man of the house got the kayak in the swimming pool and she togged up in a life-jacket for a ‘high sea adventure’! She loves the water and her biggest accomplishment this year has been learning to swim.

High sea adventure in the swimming pool with Daddy!

Her energy throughout the day was wonderful and she just about managed to stay awake for some Birthday cake, after meeting me on the beach, after my jog, for a little workout of her own! We drove back home, with the top open on the VW, to keep her awake. She crashed pretty soon after blowing out her candles and devouring the icing off her Birthday cake!

Her good friend here, Ollie, couldn’t make her actual Birthday – but we are looking forward to a bit of party fun, pirate style, this coming weekend with him!

Miss 4 lives in a world of imagination and creativity.

On any given day she could be a princess, a vet, a doctor, a zombie (older sister’s & Minecraft!)

Face paint is frequently requested and she asked me to turn her into a puppy dog the other day – to surprise her Daddy on his return from a three day business trip away (she wanted to ‘pretend’ she was a new pet in the house).

Alice puppy dog facepaint

She plays with her toys in such creative, imaginary ways, making up stories with her dolls, or dinosaurs, cars, trains… she’ll pick up sticks, leaves and acorns for various props, anything to hand makes a story really!

It’s such a joy to have her around. Formal schooling is not something in her mind or ours right now. To be honest, there’s little need, as she’s thriving with natural learning of numbers, letters, art and the beginning of writing. She joins in science experiments with her sisters, builds and creates with blocks, lego, magnets and connecting rods, she sings and dances every day and is always on the go physically. Everything she needs in life is here, at home, with family and friends. This time in her life is full of magic, limitless possibilities in her imaginary worlds and living in the moment. We love you Alice Rose xxxx

Happy Birthday Alice!

Birthday celebrations for the man of the house in Santa Barbara!

The first half of this week saw the girls and I home alone, with the man of the house away on business. We kept busy – as always – with a blend of rainbow looming, baking, roller blading, swimming and yoga. We treated ourselves to a meal out in Santa Barbara, prepared a few surprises for the man of the house on his return (he was away on his actual Birthday) and we were so happy to hear he’d got himself Thursday off work to spend with us! So, a belated day of Birthday celebrations we enjoyed! We kicked off with a Birthday breakfast at the Summerland Beach Cafe. Delicious!

Breakfast at the Summerland Cafe

After a cheery feast we headed over to ‘Lookout Park‘ in Summerland. It’s a lovely park, with a playground, volley ball pitch, BBQ areas and a stunning lookout over the coast, with easy access to the beach.

Lookout Park, Summerland

Our visit was a little short-lived, after an accidental collision of heads between two our of girls, but happiness was soon restored at home, with a rest for some, and some dive-bombing in the pool for others, before we headed out for an afternoon of activities at ‘Golf and Stuff‘ in Ventura.

Golf and Stuff, Ventura

Our man of the house enjoyed some game play, whist his daughters danced and played.

Golf n Stuff, Arcade, Ventura

We rounded up the day with cake, of course, and a few good beers (thanks Grandma & Grandad). A happy man of the house indeed and us girls were so delighted to have him home. We love you our dear ‘Man of the House’ xxxx

Birthday celebrations for the man of the house!

Can’t wait for the man of the house to be home!

He’s been away three days, but that feels like ages when we’re living overseas and all in the house together every day. The girls and I have kept ourselves busy and are thrilled that he’s coming home tonight (though we’ll be fast asleep when he creeps in around 1am!). It’s his Birthday today and the first one we’ve never celebrated together as a family, on his actual Birthday. The good news is he has all day tomorrow off to celebrate! So, until then, whilst you are driving home to us, here’s a little pre-Birthday greeting…