Loving It 05.10.15

After a week last week that (quite frankly) turned out nothing like I had expected or hoped, it seems like the perfect time to refocus on the things that are making me smile.


This book wall at a revamped local cafe. The same cafe also has a mini barnyard with rabbits, pigs and chickens outside and will be running a farmers’ market on Saturdays throughout summer. I can see that we’ll be back fairly frequently!

Seeing my son in a dressing gown for the first time. As a woman, wearing something that is not pants is second nature – I can’t remember the first time that I wore a dress, but I suspect it was before I could even sit upright. Putting CJ in a dressing gown, however, was hilarious. His entire life he’s worn pants or shorts (or nothing at all) and all of a sudden here is something that covers his bottom half but doesn’t join in the middle. Mind blown. He spent a good five minutes sitting on his mat just lifting up the hem of his gown, flashing his legs and giggling. Best $15 I’ve spent in a while.

This article on encouraging young readers – we do most of this too, there are always books that are available for CJ to read (although at this stage he’s not terribly gentle so they are mainly the hard, board book style ones)

Ordering my new computer – the MacBook Pro I have has served me well over the last six years but it’s time to upgrade. Also love friends who put up with all my tech questions – you know who you are and you’re amazing. Can’t wait till it arrives!

Pictures of my friends enjoying the NRL grand final – it was a crazy finish and how cool that they were there to experience it!

And in that vein – 10 Life Lessons I Learnt From Travelling, written by my good friend Lizzie. Love travel – I would choose experiences over objects absolutely any day of the week

Beautiful sunny days – spring is here and summer will come eventually. Looking forward to lazing on the beach, taking the little dude for a paddle.

Trying to take a leaf out of my girl Corrine’s book and view my problems in a new light – she amazes me with what she manages to achieve and I can only hope to be more like her!

And the quick fire round: peppermint chocolate ♥ fuzzy blankets ♥ long chats on the phone with close friends – you know we’re close if I will actually talk to you on the phone ♥ coconut milk ♥ friendly baristas ♥ being honest ♥ sockettes ♥ “Shut Up And Dance” by Walk the Moon ♥ pork chops

Until next time…


School Holiday Plans

Last holidays I had a big list of things to do, fun plans of how I was going to fill the day with CJ. This holiday break? Well…

I got nothing.

Haha that’s not entirely true. I’ve made some plans to catch up with some friends. I’ve booked CJ into the gym crèche for a couple of sessions (and learned that I need to get in early if I want to get the sessions I want) and organized someone to look after him for an entire day so that I can catch up with a lot of personal maintenance stuff. But in terms of bigger plans, epic day trips – I’ve got zip, zero, none.

I’ve been lucky to get an incredible amount of work in the last school term and that we’ve only had a minor blip with changing carers. I know I’m very lucky to have a kid that spent five days last week being looked after by three different friends while mummy worked and totally acted like it was no big deal. At the same time, it’s been a taster of what life will be like returning to full time employment next year and the reality is that regardless of how the job actually looks, it’s going to be a bit of a balancing act. One that will get easier as CJ gets older and more independent, but still a lot to keep across.

And one of the things that’s going to have to give? Always being the planner. I’d rather be a good mum in the moment than the Pinterest mum who has a jar full of fun holiday ideas. I know that some people can do both and work (maybe run a business on the side, always look stunningly put together) and I think that’s great. But I don’t see anything wrong with knowing your limitations and choosing what you value. Say no to mum guilt!


Where We Ate: Winter Hibernation Edition

We make no bones about it, we are definite foodies in this household. We love to dine out, both as a couple and as a family – for us life is more about experiences than stuff. So each month or two, we bring you “Where We Ate”, a post that outlines the new places we’ve tried and hopefully encouraging you to try a few new places too!

Does anyone else find that they hibernate a little bit in the winter? Compiling this list, I found that there were less new places that we’d tried, instead preferring to prepare meals at home or stick to some tried-and-true favourites. That being said, there were still some yummy places on our radar and one I needed to warn you about!


St Margaret’s Cafe

Sometimes you just don’t want to tackle the crowds that come with larger garden cafes. We love the Auckland Botanic Gardens but the lunch crowd there can be mental so instead we drove out to St Margaret’s Cafe. With a divine pavilion setting and gorgeous gardens to roam in, it was a total hidden gem. I was astounded at the quality of the meals – I’m still having dreams about the spiced apple and pear chutney – and it allowed CJ and I to have the quiet meal and walk that I was looking for.

Check out my full review here

La Vista

When thinking of Tamaki Drive eateries, most people turn their minds to Mission Bay but we’ve always had good luck and less crowds trying out the St Heliers Bay area. For a rare date night out, we headed to La Vista. The restaurant was beautiful although slightly cramped and the meals were fairly good, especially for the price point that they were offered at. If you’re in the area and looking for an Italian meal, it’s definitely worth considering – although try and get one of the tables down the back rather than a banquette table up the front.

Check out my full review here

Food Truck Garage


I’ve been keen on trying this place ever since celeb chef Michael Van de Elzen popularised the brand back with the TV show “The Food Truck”, promoting healthier versions of take out food. Even though Van de Elzen has now moved on, the menus and pictures still looked amazing and I leapt at the chance to attend with several other blogger friends. The service was pretty good – a couple of minor blips, quickly rectified, which you expect when dining with large groups – and the food was to die for. I’m sitting here still trying to work out what my favourite dish was as I really loved them all! If I had to only recommend one thing I’d say try the Jelly Tip sundae. It’s a healthier spin on the quintessential Kiwi ice cream; the tartness of the raspberry chia jelly and the slight bitterness of the dark chocolate set off the probiotic vanilla yoghurt to perfection.

Check out my full review here

Blondies All Day

I don’t usually post about negative experiences but this has to be up there with the worst dining experience I’ve ever had. Unfortunately held as part of a captive audience, a group of friends and I visited this bar and restaurant as part of a fundraising quiz night. The food was average and overpriced, the service took the experience from terrible into the ridiculous – to the point where all you could do was laugh. And then head up the road to the next pub and spend your money there instead.

Read my full review here


Firm favourites revisited: Monarch Cafe, Nick’s Cafe, Moa’s Nest.

If you’ve got any favorites to share, from the wider Auckland area, I’d love to hear them!

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The State of the Uterus

It’s something that almost every woman of child-bearing age has experienced at least once in their lives: the awkward insistence that you must be pregnant/looking to be pregnant/clucky. Not a curious questioning about whether it is in your future plans but an insistence that it should be. A friend on Twitter recently even got this from the medical professional that was dealing with her contraceptive requirements… not okay.

With CJ passing the eighteen month mark, we’re getting the “So, when’s the next one?” comments all the time. Correction – I am. For some reason it isn’t a thing that guys tend to get harassed about. With friends dealing with both unexplained or secondary infertility, the assumption that “the next one” is something that you can predict with perfect timing is unfair. And the biggest assumption? That I actually want a next one.

For a whole bunch of reasons, I’m about 98% sure that we are one-and-done. I used to think that I HAD to have another kid to give CJ a sibling, someone to grow up with. What a horrible feeling… to feel like you have to do something, rather than actually want to do it. A completely different feeling than when I was trying to get pregnant the first time; when having a child was the biggest desire of my heart. I’m not so much of a fool to say that I will never have a change of heart but at this stage I think it’s unlikely.

I’ll admit to feeling the tiniest amount of guilt in not giving CJ a brother or sister but I also think about all the things we can give him – both tangible and intangible – as an only child. We’ll have the space to open our home to his friends in need, the finances to give him childhood experiences that were beyond my parents’ own reach… but most of all, a happy mother – one who has made the choices because they were right for her. The nuclear family was something I always thought I wanted… until I didn’t. And it’s totally okay to reassess.

Families come in all different shapes and sizes – that’s definitely something I’ve learned in my teaching career. I’m always careful to use the more inclusive Maori word whanau because not every kid lives with a biological parent. Whether you’re a solo parent, whether you have a whole tribe of kids or none at all, whether your dogs are your “kids” or whether you are raising other people’s children. A life without siblings doesn’t mean that CJ will grow up alone – I’ll be the mum that’s happy to host your kid for sleepovers, leaving you one less of yours to deal with.

So consider this a post on the state of my uterus… currently unoccupied and likely to remain that way for the forseeable future. I’m so lucky to have a son that fills my heart with so much joy that I don’t think it feels like I’m missing out on anything. I’m at peace with my decision, as is my husband. And in the end, that’s all that really matters.

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Getting back on the (healthy) horse: Joining a gym

If you have been reading for a while, you will know that this year I’m hoping to get my health and fitness back on track on year – it’s not been the easiest journey but I’m getting there!


I was really surprised by the response I got when I posted the above picture on social media. Flushed face, sweaty hair escaping a rough bun, no make up – not generally the way I style myself in photos but I was so proud in that moment. I’d just completed an hour-long BodyBalance class, the first group fitness class that I have done since CJ was born (and about seven months earlier than that), and I was knackered but really happy.

Over the last few months I’ve made a concerted effort to keep my fitness levels up by making sure I hit my step goals for the day. While this has been great, it’s really all I’ve managed to do. My husband works long hours and it’s been that consistent struggle to balance my work, my role as mother and getting back into the condition I was in back in 2011. A couple of weeks ago, I decided I’d had enough.

With work likely to be drying up next term as older students head into their final exams, I knew I’d have a lot more time on my hands to exercise. On the other hand, Spring in New Zealand is notoriously wet – counting out long distance walks with the stroller – and continuing with what I was doing was going to maintain my fitness but not really help me reach my goals of tightening, toning and losing this baby weight. It’s always so hard as a mum to justify spending money on yourself but in this case I felt I needed to be selfish. I was going to get a gym membership.

There were two key elements I was looking for in a gym – group classes and a creche. Group classes were important to me because I feel challenged to keep up with others. If I’m out for a walk and feel tired, I can cut it short and turn around and go home. If I’m in a class, I’m far too proud and stubborn to walk out! Persevere to the end! The creche was important to me as it means I can make use of the lull in work to hit the classes in the morning while CJ hangs out and has fun in their kid’s room. The one downer of this plan? The only gym that met this criteria is a 20-minute drive from our house. Still, it’s been worth it.

So far I’ve been for two classes and one general workout and I am loving it. I’m miles behind many of the people in the classes I’ve attended but no one has looked at me sideways if I’m forever stuck in the “low” options. I’ve incentivised myself, setting mini-rewards of fitness gear, to make sure that I get in the habit. Funnily enough I feel like it’s creating a healthier flow on effect in my life – on my rest day I decided to go for a 2km beach walk rather than curl up at the local cafe with a coffee and slice. Maybe those endorphins are addictive after all!

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Writing Inspiration – Karlo Mila

One of my personal goals for this year is to get this story I’ve had in my heart out onto paper, or at least onto the computer. Whether it’s ever anything bigger than that doesn’t really matter, but it’s a story that wants to be told. It’s a romance set largely in Samoa and as part of my inspiration I’ve been reading poetry by Pasifika authors. This beautiful poem below is by Karlo Mila, a New Zealand author of Tongan, Samoan and Palagi descent.

This is love (for David) 
– Karlo Mila

you’ve taken / the roots of / my thoughts on / what love is /
this understanding I’ve created over the years /
so ripe / so red / in your big hands / brown / custodial

you put them in a pot / large bucket / on your front
doorstep / a place in the Papatoetoe sun / this is love you
say / watering / tending / a careful eye at the end of the day

it is seeds sown in the hopeful spring / hiccups of hope /
scattered sheets / seed spread bed / it is shedding dead leaves
in autumn / and you prune / me / cutting fingertips
tenderly / bleeding softly into soil / blistering gently / the
test is you say / whether we will survive winter / there
will be many winters / soaked with rain / frost on car
window mornings

this is love you say / endurance through / every / every day /

this is what I have learned.

love is not a bunch of red roses / blossomed into the peak
of their beauty / cut at the height of their passion / long
stemmed /bikini lined / full lipped / red perfect

love is / the watering / the watching / the pruning / the
tending / the providing of new buckets / the finding of
new doorsteps /

love is not something one simply wears
behind their ears
in full bloom

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I Read A Lot – Username: Evie

I’ll openly admit it, I’m not a YouTuber by nature. I’ll go on to check out the latest Taylor Swift music video and that’s about it. I’d much rather be reading or listening to a podcast while out for a walk… in terms of today’s teens that practically makes me a dinosaur, I know. So reading Username: Evie was the first time that I had ever come across Joe Sugg, also known as the brother of the infamous vlogger, Zoella. Just quietly, Joe, from what I’ve received to read I find you far more interesting.


Never much of a comic book reader growing up, I’ve grown to appreciate graphic novels not only for their beautiful art but also for the way that they allow stories to come alive for those who perhaps find sitting down to read huge screeds of text a challenge. When teaching I’ve often used them as a “gateway drug” to get students interested in reading again. The premise of Sugg’s book is ideal for such a purpose. Infinitely relatable to anyone who has struggled to fit in as a teen, the story sees a female protagonist on the outskirts of high school society. Her mother has already passed, her dad is ill and in the inevitable aftermath of his death she discovers that he has left her a computer programme, created a place where she can be herself. She doesn’t expect to be drawn through into an alternate reality and what evolves after that will change her forever.

The artwork in this book is amazing – the choice of colours make the difference between worlds so much clearer and the fine detail in drawings is something to behold. While the comic style is conventional, there’s definitely a hint of manga style to it which lends itself well to the storyline. I was impressed at how Sugg manages to convey some quite complex ideas without making excessive use of text boxes, always a challenge when creating a graphic novel.

At a couple of points the plot verges into the cliche, but not so deeply to affect the enjoyment of the book – even from an adult perspective. The message is ultimately uplifting and rewarding. Teenagers will absolutely love it – if I had an fourteen-year-old niece/nephew/cousin this would definitely be on the Christmas present list – and it could even be a book that you read as a family. Check it out!

If you enjoy Username: Evie, you may also want to read:

  • Maus by Art Spiegelman – depicts Spiegelman interviewing his father about his experiences as a Holocaust survivor and the associated fallout that those experiences had on their lives. Striking in the lack of colour used and the depiction of different races as anthropomorphic animals (Jews=Mice, Nazi Germans=Cats, etc)
  • Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card et. al – my first experience of the story of Ender’s Game was not through the original novel or through the recent film but through excerpts of the graphic novel. It definitely lends something to the visual story that I feel was lost in the film.

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CJ @ 18 months

Despite the toddler tantrums, this is totally my favourite age – although I feel like I’ll probably end up saying it at every age from here on out! Getting to pick this guy up after a work day and go on fun adventures together is one of my life highlights, even when he falls into duckponds or refuses to get off the playground.


  • He is a total water-baby. I truly believe he’d stay in his baths until they were freezing cold. I’m so looking forward to summer and loads of beach days.
  • He walks like a total pro. I think that one of the benefits of being a late walker is that he was cognitively ready to understand concepts of climbing in and out of doors, up and down steps and catching himself as he stumbles. I really wish I hadn’t spent that time worrying that something was wrong but first-time-mamas can’t be told.
  • He is obsessed with Hairy McLary books to the point that he will actually read along with some of the words. My favourite is when we read Hairy McLary, Shoo and he blurts out “SHOOOOOO” every time.
  • Speaking of shoes, our formerly bare-footed boy is obsessed. He loves his shoes, his dad’s shoes, my shoes and your shoes if you visit our house. He’s deeply troubled if we take him in the car if he doesn’t have his shoes on and he’ll happily walk around our house with one of our shoes on each hand, dragging a massive shoe along with one foot. This does create some problems when I’m looking for the other one of my pair of shoes as I’m about to do the daycare drop offs.
  • He has the sass-face down! We’re at that delightful age where he knows what he’s doing is wrong and will do it anyway, with the cheekiest grin ever on his face. So hard to be angry, but mum-the-disciplinarian has to be.
  • He’s settling in to his new carer SO well. It’s just a temporary fix to cover me until the end of the academic year (I start back with full-time employment at the start of next year) but it’s nice to know that he’s settled so well and is SO happy. His new carer has a girl who is about 15 months older than him and a boy who is three months younger and he’s slotted nicely in the middle. The fact that they have a train table sure doesn’t hurt!
  • His vocabulary is expanding at a ridiculous rate, although for some reason some of his words sound very upper-crust British. Just think of the queen saying “hello”, “cat”, “hat” and you’ll get what I mean!

In some ways it surprises me how much this time of motherhood feels completely natural in a way that the first few months did not. There’s a flow to our days, whether I’m working that day or not, and a comfort in knowing that he really does love me not because I’m his source of food (he can already raid the pantry) but because I’m his mum.

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I jokingly hashtagged a social occasion a few weeks back as #mumsgonewild. It was a little bit tongue-in-cheek; we weren’t all mums, we were all in a 20 km radius of our homes and for various reasons we were all home by midnight. Certainly not the material of a reality TV episode or tabloid magazine cover but it was the first time in god knows how long that I’d actually found myself out at not just one, but two bars in a night. And I drank… not so much that I don’t remember the evening, but enough to know that I was definitely buzzed.

And I loved it.

The only other time I can remember being buzzed in the last couple of years was at a friends’ wedding in Perth earlier this year. The whole trip was so fleeting and surreally amazing (you mean, we’re at a brewery in the middle of the day, drinking beer like we have no responsibilities…oh, we don’t) that I couldn’t work out where the buzz of travel and adventure and weddings and love ended and the drinking buzz began. This recent night, short though it may have been, reminded me how much I loved it.

Apart from that holiday, I’d not had more than one or two drinks in what seemed like forever. Not while breastfeeding, not while pregnant, not while trying to conceive and even before that. I stopped drinking as part of my plan to lose weight for the wedding so I hadn’t had any sort of significant drinking session since 2011. It’s a long time. And while I’m definitely able to socialise sober and do so on a regular basis, there’s always my inner control freak who likes holding the reins.

I fully support people who choose not to drink. There are people in my own life for whom I think that it is an incredibly valid  personal decision. I’m not out at bars every weekend, I never drink so much that I black out and I’d certainly never put CJ at risk with any drinking behaviours. But out in that Irish pub, knocking back the Jameson & Lemonade (far too drinkable), I felt a part of me return, a fun part, that has been dormant for a while. There’s a joke amongst my friends that “everyone likes drunk M-daddy”… yet it gets to me that mums aren’t allowed that same release. That there’s something inherently irresponsible or unusual about a mum who wants to go out and get her drink on. That we should be solely defined by our relationship to our children, to the detriment of everything else we used to be. I love being a mum, but it’s not the only part of me, and having a few drinks does not make me “wild”, it makes me human.

Now who wants to raise a glass to that?

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Two little words…

I love writing and words and meaning. I blog as much as me as I do for anyone else who reads because above all, my heart needs to write. I love crafting things that mean exactly what I want to say and that make people feel exactly how I want them to feel. As a result, I probably put far too much meaning into the words that other people say – hello lying in bed at 2 a.m. – but it’s got me to thinking about what words mean the most to me right now.

And it’s not those three little words that everybody raves about. It’s only two.

Thank you.

Thank you means that my son is learning manners. It means that he’s beginning to understand to be grateful for the things he receives. It means he respects the help that he is getting. It means that I’m doing something right as a mum and that I’m hopefully raising a boy into a man that will be respectful, gracious and kind.

Thank you means that my husband sees what I am doing to create the best life I can for my family. It means that he can see that I am tired and weary and he appreciates the effort that I have put in before he even walks in through the door. Thank you means that I’m respected for the talents I bring that make up half of our marriage. And sometimes that thank you means even more than the “I love you” that is so easy to throw out there.

Thank you means that my colleagues value my input. It means that they see the time that I’ve spent with a student to help them grasp a concept. It means that they are grateful for me helping them out of a sticky spot. Thank you means that I’m appreciated for my merits and that I’m considered part of the team.

Feeling unappreciated is so incredibly disheartening and it takes so little to extend a thank you. Two seconds, two words. Why wouldn’t you?

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