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At home with my folks, Hampshire, England

It’s been a fortnight since we returned from the UK to the US. We are heading back to New Zealand to live at the beginning of October, but for now we’re in limbo; between the two places we love.

I haven’t felt like writing anything much, but have tried to fit in a little reminiscing about our trip. It’s bittersweet to write about the times we shared with our wonderful family and friends whilst in the UK: On the one hand, the photos and memories make the trip linger on and make everyone we love there feel closer; On the other hand, I’m thrown against the wall of reality – that we shan’t see them for a year or so, at the least, and we are about to move even further away again – back to New Zealand.

On every trip back there are always so many people we don’t manage to meet up with; as well as all the wonderful reunions I write about. I haven’t seen many cousins, aunts and uncles in well over a decade. The UK is my home of birth, but not my children’s home. They were born in New Zealand and, as much as they’ve enjoyed this time living in the US, are looking forward to getting back there.

I am forever torn in two – trying to be positive for my children and their future (for sure they have an amazing life in New Zealand and a wonderful future with so much freedom of choice and opportunities), whilst feeling guilty at not being there for my folks. I feel driven to write down all the events, both big and small, that make up the passages of time; clinging on to them to protect them from fading. However faded those memories become they will live on in photographs and the love that we shall always feel in our hearts.

So, this is what it is; a place where I can write about the times we have shared and safeguard them in some small way.

Our last week in Europe was spent with my Mum and Dad in their Hampshire home.

My dear folks with their youngest granddaughter, Alice

It’s where they have lived for thirty-five years and where I grew up. My best-friend, from when I was 11, still lives a few houses away and many of my other school friends have stayed and are seeing their own children pass through the schools we went to. The week was one of spending time with people that have touched my life throughout the years and still mean so much to me. I caught up with friends over coffee, at local pubs, even at a new trampoline centre (anything to keep the children happy!).

Old University friends of both my husband and I (yes, we met way back then… at Southampton University) came together. We shared memories, talked of our different life journeys – the happy and sad parts that combine to make life’s rich tapestry – and looked forward through our children’s eyes at what is yet to be.

We took a day trip into London with my folks and our children, walking through the parks and admiring the sights steeped in history. Hubby took our older two children to the theatre to see ‘Phantom of the Opera’, whilst I spent a lovely afternoon boating along the river Thames with our youngest daughter and my folks.

The week came to a close on a Friday. Our flight scheduled to leave Saturday afternoon. The last day was spent sharing my best friend’s celebration of her youngest son turning ten. She kindly invited us to share the ‘football party’. It was lovely to see her sons and my daughters getting on so easily.

In the afternoon one of our nephew’s, Michael, came down from his University digs, along with his lovely girlfriend, to spend the evening with  hubby and I. One of the binding memories of our visit to the UK this time round was how our daughters enjoyed the company of their older cousins – they were reunited with all but one of their six cousins. All their cousins are boys, and most are a fair bit older, but the bond of family made their union easy.

Michael, Sophie & Alice

Likewise, the bond between Aunts and Uncles and the girls, their nieces, was lovely to see.

Seeing my sister and having the chance to head out for a run with her was a special highlight for me (yes, I’m still running – before wine… have to earn it now I’m forty!).

My sister and I

The memories will live on in our hearts forever xxx

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Linking up with ‘The Photo Gallery’ at Sticky Fingers

 

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

The beginning of a new chapter


Three sleeps to go! On Wednesday 7 August, my British husband and I, along with our three children, shall be boarding a plane to a new adventure, living in Santa Barbara, California, USA.

We’ll be leaving our home of some fifteen years, Wellington, New Zealand. The place where our adventure began, when we started out on a two year work visa from the UK. We were a couple not long out of University. Never could we have imagined, back then, that we would become permanent New Zealand residents and have three New Zealand born daughters (who for the purpose of this blog we shall call Little Miss Minecraft, 10, Little Miss Daredevil, 7, and Little Miss Chatterbox, 3).

This new chapter is temporary for us – but then we said that about New Zealand initially… so we have learned to expect the unexpected and be open to whatever direction the river takes us.

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Our home in New Zealand is being taken care of by a good friend. We are shipping the fun stuff, envisaging a year, or two – possibly three, of living and working in Santa Barbara. My husband’s job is based there. We’ll see how we travel, taking each day in our stride. We are leaving so much we love behind. A country that has captured our heart and friends that have been like family.

New Zealand, for me personally, has been a wonderful place to bring three children into the world. One day they will realise how blessed they are. I have been fortunate to have been a stay-at-home Mum over the past ten years and have delighted in living a wonderful, healthy, outdoor life with my daughters, particularly in their early years. Naturally life has its ups and downs. No matter how beautiful a place, filled with wonderful people, there can still be bumps in the road. When I first became a parent, ten years ago, I started blogging my journey to try and focus on ‘the magic’ and not get caught up in the overwhelming responsibility, sacrifice, dedication, commitment and, sometimes, frustration of motherhood. It was really helpful for me to have a creative outlet and to reflect on the highs of every day and week with my growing children – as well as being able to share their lives with family and friends living far away in the UK.

In this new chapter of our lives, we will be living closer to our much loved family in the UK. We hope living just one international flight away, will make it easier to see them all more often. As much as we love New Zealand it has been hard, at times, living so far away. There are so many family gatherings and celebrations we have missed over the years. There have been times when we wish we could have teleported ourselves there in an instant, to hold a loved ones hand – or say goodbye to a much loved grandparent, uncle and friend. This is the down-side of the life we lead. On the up-side we see our children thrive and have enjoyed the freedom to cherish the time we have with them, before they choose to set out on their own wings to soar the trade winds. And we teach our children that…

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We are growing right along side them, as do all parents, and are all the richer for what they teach us about ourselves. Children are sometimes like the most critical mirror, whilst other times they reflect incredible purity, happiness, hope, energy and inner beauty. They will learn, in this amazingly technologically connected world they have been born in, that the friends and family they have, scattered across the world, will always be there for them. Though there is no real comparison to spending time with a loved one, face to face, able to hold their hand, hug them, share a drink in the same time zone, there are some very wonderful alternatives that can go a long way to keeping friendship, love and family strong.

This is the start of a new blog for me. A place for me to share our onward journey, our travels and adventures. A place for me to express myself in poetry and photographs. My family will always be my number one, but after ten years of ‘breeding’ (of which I’ve been breastfeeding for nine years!), it is time for me to rev up for my forties… (erm, yes, 2014 I shall embrace that decade of my life!), and find a little of myself again (I feel a little hidden under domesticity, nursery rhymes, play dough, magic potions, trains, dolls, far too much glitter, fairy tales, cars and planes – my daughters are most definitely not stereotypical girls!).

So welcome to new followers and hello to dear family and friends who’ve known me for years. I’ve met so many wonderful people through being open and sharing my little slice of life’s journey (like the lovely Leonie of ‘Kiwi at Heart‘ who made the cushion cover in this post, as a parting gift, to ‘keep Wellington and New Zealand forever close in my heart’) that I know, without doubt, this new journey will bring me opportunities abound to meet more incredible people.

So, let’s get this show on the road!

Sarah x

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