Kick that bug’s butt with zinc?

Random little fact for your day:

I have spent the last weekend with a head cold, my second in the space of a month. Whilst I’d rather have me sick than the little dude any day of the week, it’s a bit rough working though colds (contract work) or spending the weekends laid up when there’s dozens of things I could be doing rather than snorting my brains out into piles of tissues. When visiting the doctors for the last lingering cold, he mentioned that zinc deficiency was common in mothers with young children and gave me a supplement, warning that I might need more.

Now I knew that CJ was a little iron vampire while he was in the womb (my iron stores got down to 7 – I was tired ALL the time), so I was fully prepared to accept that he’d sucked the life out of me in other ways. My nails are absolutely fragile and my hair is STILL falling out, sixteen months postpartum, which can also be a sign of zinc deficiency. What I didn’t know is that zinc is part of your body’s natural healing process, helping heal wounds and fight viruses. Apparently postpartum zinc deficiency, heightened by breastfeeding) can also lead to postpartum depression, which makes me wonder whether that was part of the reason my mood improved once CJ weaned.

Last winter I didn’t really get colds, but to be perfectly honest we didn’t manage to get out of the house. This year we’re fully immersed in daycare and work germs and my body’s lack of ability to fight them is a big deal. I’m hoping that this Zinc Fix I’m taking does actually fix the issue and give me my awesome hard-earned immunity back. If you’re a new mum or just feeling constantly under the weather this winter, check with your doctor whether your zinc needs a little boost too!

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Getting Away: Christchurch – what we did

Not a heck of a lot, to be honest!

Haha, I won’t leave you hanging like that, don’t worry. Our family holiday paradigm is to plan for one thing to happen each day and then anything else is a bonus. Out of our four days away, two would have the “big thing” of flights, so we weren’t too concerned about getting anything else done on those days. That left us with two full days in Christchurch to DO THINGS.

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We knew as we were flying down that our key focus would be seeing family – that was the major purpose for our visit. Papa M really wanted to see the quake ruins and rebuild in the CBD and my major aim was to get a coffee at Coffee Culture (spoiler alert, I managed to do this twice). We also wanted to take CJ to visit at least one tourist sight. Christchurch has many and while we love both the Antarctic Centre and Canterbury Museum, we ultimately decided that the Christchurch Gondola would be the best choice this time round.

On Saturday morning we headed into the CBD bright and early, managing to find a carpark on the street. Like me two years ago, Papa M was completely disoriented by the lack of landmarks that we used to navigate by. We strolled all around the CBD, through the Re:Start shipping container mall (where the boys shared a delicious pastry) and over to where a former hotel favourite of ours no longer stands next to the Avon river.

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Our metered parking being up, we went for a little drive to locate the Christchurch office of Papa M’s work before heading to visit our family. CJ had mixed feelings about little C – I think he wondered why he wasn’t crawling round and getting into everything like he was! We stopped at the newish (well, post-quake) The Tannery shopping emporium for lunch. I’d love to head back there without CJ – it was a bit hard to find meals that catered to toddlers and the kids and child-friendly shops were few and far between. A bacon and egg brioche under his belt, it was back to the holiday park for nap time. A quick go on the playground to burn off some energy and it was out to dinner.

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We’d arranged the following day to meet up for lunch with the family we were visiting but CJ doesn’t do “hanging around the house” particularly well, so we headed off a little early. Heading from the North to the South East of Christchurch, we chose to swing out to the coast and visit New Brighton. New Brighton is renowned for its beautiful pier, but what many don’t know is the building attached to the pier houses the local library. CJ loved hanging out with the books and the toys and was a bit disgruntled when it was time to leave. Top travel tip? If kids like things in your own community (pools, libraries, playgrounds), don’t discount them as an extremely cheap outing while on holiday.

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After meeting with our family for lunch, it was off to the gondola. Strollers are very much allowed but in hindsight I would have just carried/wore CJ rather than lugging the stroller around. CJ was a little concerned when the gondola took off but soon enjoyed the ride. We had wondered whether he would be a bit grizzly at the top (just looking at the view) but he seemed to just take it all in. The top of the gondola also has a time tunnel amusement ride – motorised buggies drive around a track that takes you through Canterbury’s history. We thought that we might as well try and and see how CJ went – he LOVED it. We didn’t take advantage of any of the walking trails at the top because we knew we were running on borrowed (nap)time but they didn’t look overly strenuous for older kids. Back down the gondolas, we sped back towards the holiday park and got CJ down for a very late nap, deciding to do dinner in the cabin that night rather than push our luck any further.

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There are SO many fun things to do in Christchurch – if we had been down for longer, we definitely would have rode the tram and visited Willowbank Wildlife Reserve. We also came across Imagination Station which would be great with older kids on a wet day! It definitely has something to please the littles and the bigs and is a great year-round destination for families.

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Don’t be the frog

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Source

A bit of a different piece today… equally applicable to family life as it is to an abundance of other situations. Recently I’ve been in a bit of a unique position, back at my old place of employment but not in the same job. It’s been very interesting to look at the place with fresh eyes and a fresh mind.

So often we are like the frog (or the chef, in the case above) – so immersed in the situation that we can’t see that there might be a different way. We assume that all the negatives are just “the way things are” – and a lot of the positives too. We’re often blinder to the bigger picture or a different view… not deliberately but just because we forget to look. We’re so immersed in the now that we don’t think of the future. We chug along doing what we’ve always done because it’s always worked for us.

“Don’t fix what’s not broke”

“Is it really worth rocking the boat for?”

I’m really grateful for this time before I return to my job properly next year. It’s given me an abundance of clarity about what I actually want to do, what I value and how I see our future as a family progressing. It’s been easier for me to speak up, coming back, because my life has changed dramatically in the time that I’ve gone. If I’m going to be a working mother, I am going to make damn sure that the decision is the best thing for me and my family. Things may not be broken but if I can work out a better process that means I get to spend more time with my kid – heck, yeah, I’m going to fight for it. And CJ and Papa M will ALWAYS be worth rocking the boat for.

And even if there is only you that you’re responsible for, know that you are worth rocking the boat for too.

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If I was a Rich Girl…

Na-na na-na na-na na-na na-na na-na na-na naaaa! #flashbackfriday

Seriously though, we all have fantasies as to what it would be like to come into a lot of money. Our family is solidly middle class and I’m okay with that. We have all that we need, which is certainly more than many in our community can say. As I washed my extremely thick hair in the shower one night, I got to thinking what frivolous things I would spend on if money was no object.

First up, I’d definitely get weekly hair styling appointments. Too often my hair just gets bundled up in a bun due to lack of inclination (and personal space – OMG the fifteen month testosterone burst) to spend time straightening my hair. It would be so luxurious to just lie back and get a wash and blow dry once a week and step out feeling completely put together.

I’d start up again with my tri-weekly nail appointments. Before I was a parent, this used to be my little treat but now that CJ is around I just don’t feel like I can be so frivolous – there’s always something else to spend on! But the sad fact of life is that I am far too uncoordinated to paint the nails on my right hand so I either need to factor this into a budget or be resigned to naked hands.

I’d buy a holiday home near a beach. While we like to travel to all sorts of locations, there’s something so restful about living on the coast, seeing the water every day and breathing in the sea air. Living full time by the seaside is just not a practical move for us right now but having a place that we could weekend out? Dreamy.

I’d make sure we travelled! Internationally, one family trip and one couple trip per year. I’d plan that we visit all the places that we’ve not reached yet in our own country and start crossing off every single destination on our travel bucket list.

I’d work, but probably not as a teacher. I’d have the finances to send CJ to daycare three days a week without worrying about an income, so I’d finally have time to sit down and finish my novel. I definitely enjoy having a career outside of just being “CJ’s mum” and so I’d like that to continue.

I’d completely remodel our house. This surprises me a little – I would have thought that with money being no object, I would have just moved elsewhere. But I like our house, and I love the location. It’s all that we need – the bare bones anyway. It just needs one hell of a facelift.

Speaking of, post-second child I’d get a breast reduction/lift and a tummy tuck. That whole situation is just not what it used to be.

Thinking about this gives me a warm fuzzy feeling though – there’s nothing glaringly obvious that’s missing from my life. If anything it’s made me think about how content I actually am with my current situation and that’s something to feel truly blessed about.

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Getting Away – Christchurch: On the move and a place to stop

Previous trip to Christchurch have seen us do everything from hire a luxury sedan to rely on public transport; book a fancy hotel room with room service and crash for the evenings on someone’s couch. We once booked a car through Jucy and didn’t bother to look to see how far the rental place was from the airport. It didn’t look that far on the map… Busted suit-case roller wheels later, we’d learnt our lesson. It was obvious that with the little guy we’d have to be a little bit more prepared and so a lot of research went into both what we would drive and where we would stay.

We knew that we definitely wanted to hire a car for our stay. While Christchurch has a fantastic public transport system – and that says something about Auckland, whose public transport system is a catastrophic disaster without the catastrophic disaster that Christchurch experienced – we were trying to squeeze a lot into a long weekend and wanted greater flexibility to get around before and after nap time. We selected Hertz as they were one of the rental agencies operating directly on airport grounds and we knew we’d be running on borrowed (nap)time as soon as we landed. The process was quick and painless – in fact, so quick that Papa M was still in the parents’ room by the time that the paperwork was ready to sign – and then it was straight out the doors to the nearest car park to pick up our medium range sedan.

The car was a late-model Toyota Camry in fantastic condition and was spacious enough for the three of us. Both Papa M and I took turns driving over the course of the weekend and enjoyed the smooth ride, even on some of the bumpy earthquake-broken streets. The one negative for us was that the boot space wasn’t particularly large, an issue when you have a stroller and two large suitcases. Another kid and I think we’d have to upgrade to the next class up to maintain the same level of comfort. Drop off was even easier, simply returning the keys to the carpark office and heading on our merry way. That ease-of-use definitely has us keen to use Hertz again.

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When looking for a place to stay, we were initially stumped. The family we usually stay with have a full house with the arrival of their newborn and we didn’t want to impose. All the hotels we stayed in pre-earthquake no longer exist. I mulled over hotel options before thinking – wait… how do you keep an active toddler entertained in a hotel room? And does that mean that when he goes to sleep, we have to too? My mind jumped back to a childhood of holiday park and bach rental stays and I decided to point my search in that direction, eventually ending up choosing the Christchurch Top 10 Holiday Park. Their two bedroom cabins (Kozy Kiwis) were extremely affordable and they had an awesome playground – I was SOLD. Again, checking in was quick and painless and the cabin, while sparsely furnished, has everything you need. And the shower has amazing water pressure, total win.

Our go-to while away with a baby/toddler is breakfasts at “home” and then lunches/dinners out. While Papa M manned the fort during that first afternoon nap time, I took a 1km stroll through the park and down the road to the supermarket to get our breakfast supplies – very handy to have a supermarket so close! Even if your children are a little older, mums and dads might also be keen to know that the holiday park reception has a liquor licence so you can pick up wine or beer to have once the kids are in bed. I also noticed that there were heated pools and spas to take advantage of and wished I’d packed my togs!

With such an action-packed weekend, we only made it to the playground once but it was amazing. A whole variety of different playground equipment is available, CJ of course, spurning the smaller stuff in favour of clamboring up to the second story to go down the big kids’ slides.

Just an aside – we’re used to his adventurous behaviour, which is why we’ve taught him to go down slides backwards on his tummy so he can catch himself better at the end. The look on other parents’ faces though, as our crawling toddler climbs to the top of the playground is absolutely priceless.

One item, however, that was popular with both young and old, was the jumping pillow. With a surface like a bouncy castle, minus the loud noisy fan, it enticed everyone from CJ’s age to sixteen-year-old boys to have a go. Who am I kidding… if we’d had the playground to ourselves, I might have climbed up there too!

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As much as I LOVE my fancy hotel stays, they aren’t always the best move for us as a family with an active little bean. I’m definitely pleased to have this holiday park up my sleeve as a place for us to stay on future visits!

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*Disclaimer: We were offered a discounted rate by Hertz but as always, opinions are our own.

Currently – the June 2015 edition

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Big boy bed…say what?

Reading Resistance is Futile by Jenny T Colgan – sci-fi, romance; the Big Bang Theory on steroids? I’m really struggling to come up with the right description for this novel but it’s a delightful novel and I’ve never read anything quite like it – it gets the two thumbs up from me.

Surprising myself by standing up for myself rather than letting an ill feeling simmer. It might surprise people who know me in a social aspect but historically I’ve been very non-confrontational at work… I guess I’m feeling feisty in my old age. It didn’t get the result that I was hoping for, but I’m still glad that I did it.

Noticing a big difference in CJ’s attitude over the last week. Man, that fifteen month testosterone burst is a kicker, huh? He is crazy, hooning around like a maniac, yelling at the top of his voice… fun times! Luckily his daycare buddy has just come out the same side of the same testosterone burst so we know that there’s light at the end of the tunnel!

Wearing the soles out of my Skechers – as much as my work wardrobe is veering more than ever towards dresses and skirts, I’m still rocking the slip-on sneaks. Thirty’s not too old to be rocking the skater girl look right?

Smelling absolutely nothing, which is the weirdest feeling. Stupid head cold.

Feeling busy but in control. It’s interesting – there is so much on my plate at the moment but it all feels manageable. It’s really got me thinking about what is that thing that tips us over the edge… I’m sure I’ve had less on my plate and felt more stressed and so I’m really curious now about what creates that tipping point in me.

Hoping that I don’t hear of any more bad news this week. Pure coincidence but on Wednesday I heard of the deaths of two former colleagues, a teacher and a workmate from my marketing and PR days. Both older but both somewhat unexpected – incredibly sad.

Listening to older songs and being mind-boggled by the messages in the lyrics – see Surf City and Georgie Girl for songs that made me go o_0

Ready for CJ to start walking, so frustrating that he is showing no interest. Have to keep reminding ourselves that almost every kid walks eventually!

Buying linen for CJ’s big boy bed – we were completely unprepared for his decision to move to his big boy bed last week. I’ve got my eye on some cosy dinosaur flannelette sheets at Kmart and hoping to pick them up this weekend.

Loving little parcels in the mail – especially when they’re for me. I don’t often spoil myself and it’s so nice to receive little things that make me feel and look better – Instagrams to come

Getting into the working mum groove – my current experiences are making me feel more sure that my aim is to work 3/5 or 4/5 of a full teaching load upon my return next year and I’m hoping that my current workplace will work with me on this.

Watching Grey’s Anatomy – it’s my ONE show. With so much on at the moment, my chill-out time is so limited but this is the one show that I still make time to watch. I know it’s probably not a fashionable thing to admit to, but I’m really loving some of the storylines this season although I know there’s an absolute of a tearjerker of an episode coming up thanks to the fact that we are lagging so far behind the states.

My life is full – today is no exception as CJ and I are meeting up with friends both new and old before I head out to Papa M’s work dinner. The usual winter social hibernation doesn’t appear to be arriving and I think in time we are probably going to start saying no and creating a space for quiet. For now though, we’re going to enjoy the buzz and make hay (and try and wear out a testosterone – fuelled toddler) while the sun shines.

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Getting Away: Fifteen-Month Flyers

I have to admit that my biggest apprehension about our recent Christchurch getaway was how CJ would function on the plane. He is an active wee button and having to sit still for long periods of time is not one of his virtues. I figured my best would be to give him as much information as possible so as soon as I purchased tickets for him, I started talking about going on a plane and about friends of his that had going on planes. A couple of weeks before we flew, we went out to the airport to look at planes taking off and landing and talked about what would happen. We even snuck down a side road and managed to see a plane up close in a maintenance hanger – that, I think, was his favourite part.

We also watched the heck out of an episode of Bubble Guppies called Gup, Gup and Away:

CJ is very picky about his TV watching and is really only into watching four children’s shows – Bubble Guppies being the only one with a plane episode. We’d watch it at least a couple of times a week and talk a lot about how they had to sit in their seats with the seat belt on for the plane to take off – “wow, look at them all being patient and sitting in their seats!”.

Being newbies to flying with kids ourselves, we arrived at the airport early-ish. We checked in at the kiosk and then took our car-seat and stroller down to the oversized/fragile baggage area. Having one person in charge of CJ and one in charge of the admin was hugely helpful! It was then off to the food court for a quick fuel up before going through security. In the interests of efficiency I wore CJ through the metal detectors – as you can see he was not particularly rapt about that situation.

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Once through security we let CJ have a bit of a run around. I was a little disappointed that the gate lounges seemed to have very little in the way of keeping kids occupied – Auckland’s International Terminal has fun puzzles on the wall but there was no such luck at the domestic terminal. The JetStar gates weren’t in use so we let him run wild in that waiting area. Then it was plane time!

The Air New Zealand flight staff were super helpful at getting us sorted on the plane. CJ, once he’d decided to sit on daddy for the duration of the flight, was pretty awesome. He had a new Paw Patrol toy that he drove all over the tray tables and demolished his way through the in-flight snack of cassava crisps. The only tears we had was when we said we didn’t want any drinks and then the guy next to us got a water – someone was very upset that we hadn’t asked him if he wanted a water! He really did handle the whole situation like a pro and we even had some fellow passengers comment on how well he’d flown as we landed in Christchurch.

Flying back, CJ had the start of a cold and we were a little worried that things weren’t going to flow so smoothly. We stopped for Coffee Culture coffees (my can’t-miss in Christchurch) at the terminal and were delighted to find that they have a kids playroom attached complete with little peepholes through to the check in area – we’ll definitely be utilising that again in future. Through security, the waiting area was also very kid friendly with rocking horses and big cushy ottomans for kids to clamber all over. We got to walk out on the runway to board the plane which was so awesome that CJ’s eyes were practically bugging out of his head. And then completely worn out from all that fun, CJ slept all the way home.

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I know that we probably won’t always be this lucky but it’s awesome to have had this experience straight out of the gate. Papa M and I love to travel and it will be a big part of CJ’s life too – especially now that this has gone well. Next leap will be international flights and we can only hope that it goes as swimmingly as this did! Some may think that I excessively prepared CJ for this travel experience but I think it’s only fair to give him all the information so he can be prepared for new experiences – I know that I feel much more at ease if I do.

Do you have any tricks for flying with little people? I’d love to hear them.

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Where We Ate: May 2015

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 we’ll be bringing you “Where We Ate”, a post that outlines the new places we’ve tried over the month and hopefully encouraging you to try a few new places too!

Note: the last three days of this month were spent in Christchurch and will be included in a special “Where We Ate: Christchurch Edition”

Basalt

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I was invited to Basalt in Howick as part of the “Stonegrill: 20 Years In New Zealand” celebrations. I couldn’t actually believe it had been that long – I remember family dinners at a local restaurant that must have been not long after they first came out and surely I’m not that old. It was really cool to hear from people who are absolutely passionate about the product and learn the proper etiquette for how to cook big hunks of protein – I’ve always stuck to seafood or skewers as “easier” options.

We started things off on the roof top terrace, an absolutely ideal place to hold private functions in either summer or winter. I can also see it being an absolute mecca for those lazy summer afternoons, much like the way that the balcony at De Fontein in Mission Bay draws the crowds. We were cooked and served portions of beef, pork, lamb and possibly the best tasting chicken I had ever had. It was then downstairs to the main restaurant to enjoy stone grill the way that Basalt serves it.

After humming and hah-ing I went with the angus prime rump and it was AMAZING. It was also big enough to give me the meat sweats (charming I know) and make me extremely glad I was wearing ponte pants. Despite not being able to finish, I had room in my dessert tummy and the combination of chocolate marquise and blood orange sorbet was delightful. I’ll definitely be heading back with friends in future.

One Tree Grill

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Think five-star formal dining in what feels like an incredibly random area of Auckland, away from the hustle and bustle of the inner suburbs and CBD. The mains had surprisingly large portions for a restaurant of this calibre, and of special note has to be the quality of the sides. So many restaurants just throw stuff in a small bowl and call it good – it was clear that much more thought and effort had been put into both our beetroot and green bean side dishes. While we did see families with small children eating there, I’d definitely consider this more of a date-night restaurant.

Read my more in-depth review here.

LOOP

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Located in Kingsland, an area of Auckland I have to admit that I don’t often frequent, I headed along to LOOP as part of the Brunch Club, a blogger’s collective that meets over meals, and was excited about their “local first” philosophy. The food was presented beautifully and tasted amazing – I still have fond memories of the wee taste I had of the pumpkin and coconut soup – but service was slower than I had expected. This might not be an issue with smaller groups and I’d be keen to try again in a pair or a group of four.

Read my more in-depth review here.

Bien 

CJ and I met up with our friend Laura here after attending a kid’s show in town. Based near the Viaduct Basin, this place iso a firm favorite of corporate types and not designed for kids as such but the staff there were SO friendly to us. There was such a wide range of sushi, both traditional and contemporary flavors, but be aware that the plated dishes are massive – unless you are super hungry you will only need the smaller size.

Read my more in-depth review here.

Shaky Isles

I thought I’d be hard pushed to find a toddler-friendly cafe in the CBD, but got to the point I was so gaspingly desperate for caffeine that I dashed into Shaky Isles and was SO pleasantly surprised. The staff were immensely friendly, the chocolate filled mocha filled my veins and there was a box of cars for a very happy fourteen month old to drive around the floor. Just don’t do what I do and head in the first door (with stairs up to the counter) – head in the second door and park the stroller on the lower floor before quickly popping up to the counter to order.

Read my more in-depth review here.

OKO Dessert Kitchen

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We headed to OKO after finding Elliot Stables too noisy to converse over dinner (pro tip: they’re definitely better for lunch), looking for a leisurely catch-up over dessert. While the wait staff require a bit more education in the finer points of the menu, one can’t deny the skill of their specialist dessert chefs. A little way to go before they can take their place beside industry leaders Milse and Giapo – but hey, on the upside, you’re likely to get a table faster.

Read my more in-depth review here.

Favs returned to: Clevedon Farmers Market, Maraetai Wharf Store, Nick’s Cafe

Happy Eating!

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I Read A Lot: Girl At War by Sara Novic

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Perfect reading (and eating) on holiday

I am a huge fan of quality Young Adult fiction, both for work and for personal reading. I like to sink my teeth into a big meaty saga with the rest of them but sometimes (especially when I am absolutely knackered) I’m in the mood for a slightly easier read. Even more so, I’m excited to read Young Adult fiction that I can recommend to students that will broaden their world view and I think that Girl at War manages to do that. The Yugoslavian civil war is astonishingly over twenty years ago and many people of my age or younger probably fail to understand how the events back then have drastically shaped the present day reality of many Croats, Bosnians and Serbs.

The story follows the experience of Ana Juric, both in Croatia (1991) and the United States (2001) and shows how deeply history can shape an individual. Ana’s matter-of-fact recollections of terrible situations can be somewhat chilling and unsettling at times but provides a narrative voice that seems believable for both child-Ana and young-woman-Ana. While the story is fictional, Ana’s story was real for many Slavic youths and I think that Novic has been respectful to their experiences.

Novic’s debut novel opened my eyes to many things that I was too young to be aware of at the time and struck home given that Ana and I would have been similar ages at the times that the stories are set. The only thing I was mildy disgruntled about was that some of the plot ends were not tied off neatly – but then that neat closure doesn’t always happen in life either. I’d recommend this to anyone as a gateway into the topics of the Yugoslavian war or child soldiers, a great “taster” novel if you will. I know I’ll also be recommending this novel to my students who like a tale with a strong female protagonist – Ana’s will to survive really is an inspiration.

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*PR edition for review but all opinions are my own.

And we’re off!

  
After what has to be one of the most manic work weeks Papa M and I have ever had, late night packing jags and a little last minute stuffing into suitcases, (I think) we’re finally ready. It’s been hard for this rigid planner to fly by the seat of my pants, knowing especially that we can’t turn round if we forget anything!

One thing I’m ridiculously grateful for right now is having Dad to take care of the house and the cat while we’re gone – it’s definitely one less thing on the list before we go! Multi-generational living has its perks!

Christchurch here we come! I’m hoping we haven’t forgotten anything but if we have there’s always shopping! Right?