CJ Says #7


“No Dinosaurus in this hole…”

When he sees one of his idols (and the mispronunciation of captain never gets old):

  • CJ (sitting in Coffee Culture Christchurch Airport, when a pilot walks in): Oh my gosh, is a bacon!

When he’s starting to use his negotiation skills:

  • CJ: Sushi!
  • Me: Yes, that’s a sushi shop
  • CJ: I want sushi for dinner
  • Me: Not today, sweetheart. I left my money at home
  • CJ: I have a monies. I buy a sushi for you. Yes?

When you realise that your OCD-ish tendencies have rubbed off on your kid:

  • Me, after searching through his sock drawer, unable to find the matching bedsocks, throws it in and puts one white and one blue sock on CJ
  • CJ: One sock, two sock… Hey, not same!
  • Me: I know, sweetheart. But they’ll keep those tootsies warm
  • CJ, chuckling: That one b(l)ue! Two not-same socks!
  • Me (with pained smile😆): Yes, not the same.

When he shows his hangry side:

  • CJ: Mummy? I hungry
  • Me: OK sweetheart, I’m driving right now but I’ll get you something when we get home
  • CJ (very serious, quiet and low voice): Excuse me Mummy. I hungry. My wunchbox empty, I have no food. You make me dinner soo(n) we get home
  • Me: (dies from holding in the laughter, seriously, he sounded like the Godfather)

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Getting back on the (healthy) horse: Why the weight loss?

It’s just under a year since I started going to the gym. At the time, it was one of the ways I was trying to seize control of a life that felt like it was spiralling out of my grasp (I would be separated three months later) but there were also some solid reasons why I was choosing this particular method of putting myself first. I’m not sure I’ve ever really talked about that in great detail, so here we are 🙂

Okay, obviously aesthetics: I’m not built to be a slender person… I’m just not. Even at my lowest (and potentially my most unhealthy) weight as an adult, I always had a booty. Even in my ballet pictures as a scrawny kid I had a booty. I’m a generous hourglass and I can still look in the mirror and like myself, don’t get me wrong.  But I can’t deny that I prefer my own look with a little less sand in the hourglass. That’s personal preference, nothing else.

Knees: I have a family history of notoriously shonky knees and I’ve done myself no favours with falls in gymnastics and ballet and with a scooter accident when I was 19. While I may not be able to prevent future surgery, losing weight and reducing the load on my knees should hopefully mean that I can use the joints I have until I’m old and grey. Doing leg-based weights is also helping my ridiculously loose right knee ligament, which in the past has done a pretty cruddy job at keeping my kneecap in alignment.

Active Motherhood: I have a typical little kid – he has SO much energy! He’s on the go from the moment he gets up until he crashes out for afternoon nap. And then on the go again until dinner time. About the only time he stops is for meals. I love that energy in him and I don’t want it to change, so me getting fit enough to keep pace with him as he grows is important. I don’t want to be that unfit mum that watches from the sideline and I like that I have the energy to handle the wrestling on the floor with him that comes along with each little testosterone boost he gets.

And there’s been a couple of side benefits that have kept me on track too:

Endorphins: Since starting a regular exercise programme, I’ve definitely noticed the difference that exercise has on my mood. I can be having a foul day (or just be in a crappy mood) and taking it out on the treadmill or “blowing the cobwebs out” with a fresh air walk can be a huge mood improver. There’s no denying that while the last year has had some massive highlights, it’s had some pretty dark times too. Exercise and endorphins have definitely helped me through that.

Me Time: Gym time/ walks have definitely become my “me time”. Even when the timing works out (which, to be honest, it rarely does) for me to hit a group fitness class, I don’t. I used to love them, but not anymore. I’m so switched on for people so much of the time that I just want to lose myself in my music, my heartbeat and my thoughts for an hour or so.

It amazes me how much it has become a part of my life; that I’m the person who will actively seek to take the stairs (well, most of the time), that I feel bugged and unsettled if I’ve missed going to the gym for a week, that I enjoy the ache in my legs after a long day of walking (I’m looking at you, recent trip to Melbourne!). Good change though!

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Review: “On The Other Side” by Carrie Hope Fletcher

I had a conversation recently with some of my students about the nature of grief after death; the finality of relationships remaining exactly the way they were when one of you passed on because there is no way to change anything. It was one of those quirky coincidences, then, that I arrived home to a book with a character who manages to do just that. Evie Snow, mother and grandmother, dies and finds herself back at her old apartment building. To pass through to her idea of heaven, all she has to do is open the door of her former apartment – but her soul is too heavy to go through. She must pass through the flimsy film between her purgatory and the world she so recently departed and work out a way to communicate the secrets that she has held onto (so tight, for so many years) to those she left behind.

 The story bounces between flashbacks of Evie’s past and her movements to free herself to move on in the present. We see how she is torn between the love and joy of her life with the musician Vincent and the choice that her parents have made for her and their dynasty in the dutiful and lovely Jim Summers.  Fletcher writes Evie’s pain so realistically that you can feel how conflicted her heart is – can she make the choice to live without love? Is it the right choice?

This novel definitely has a fantastical bent and it did make me laugh at one point – I’m not going to spoil it for you – when I found it hard to suspend my disbelief. So I can believe in the moment of the ability to permeate the barrier between here and the afterlife, I can believe in the use of a bird to carry messages of love written on its wings, but that particular thing is a step too far?? I think that’s probably a fault of mine rather than one on the part of the author. Once I got over that little blip, though, the very notion that I’d struggled with became part of the beauty of the story.
I loved that Fletcher embraces that sometimes, no matter what choice you make, some things will be wrong and some will be very right. Being someone that hopes in a hereafter, even though I have no idea what it looks like, I liked her concept of heaven returning you to the place where you were the happiest that you have ever been. I think that’s beautiful. If you’re in the mood for a love story with a difference, this might just be the book for you.

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Things I learnt flying solo with a toddler for the first time

  1. That I’m glad our first trip was low stakes – domestic flight, staying with friends. It cut down on the pre-trip anxiety dramatically.
  2. Which was useful because we flew out the day after term ended, after what had been a rough two weeks of accidents, illnesses and workload – in hindsight I would have given myself a day in between
  3. That Trunkis are a godsend (see below) – CJ was more than happy to ride his through the airport which meant one less bag to carry and that we could keep a faster pace when needed with me towing him along.

    CJ has this one (trunki.com)

  4. That toddlers do NOT understand their mummies being pulled aside to be wanded after going through the metal detectors; we had to have a discussion about how you do not tell off airport men who are just doing their jobs
  5. That I have pretty strict standards of behaviour and CJ knows it. I had to stifle my laughter when he side-eyed the kid kicking the back of the chair through the crack in the seats and muttered “Naughty” under his breath.
  6. That $19 Kmart chunky-knit snoods make fantastic emergency blankets for tired toddlers.
  7. That said sleepy toddler will be just about asleep until they announce in-flight service and then he’ll pop up like a meerkat with “Water? Chippies?”
  8. That I need to work on my upper body weights – air bridge issues meant we had to disembark onto the tarmac at Auckland. Carrying a handbag, two cabin bags and a toddler down one flight of stairs and then up another (he’s well behaved, but I’m not taking that risk on an airport runway LOL) was probably at the limit of my strength and I had DOMS the day after
  9. Which is probably also related to wrangling all our bags, etc, to and from cars & taxis. I probably looked like a hobo with both handbag and cabin bag strapped across my back, two suitcases, a car seat, a stroller and the Trunki balanced on the trolley with CJ riding on the handlebars. It was actually the most stressful part of the whole business 😂
  10. That people are inherently awesome – from the guy who played with CJ on the scales while I had to get tags for carseat and strollers to the random man who held the bags open so I could get the oversized items in their bags at the counter; from the awesome barista at Christchurch airport to the cabin crew who gave the little dude high fives. The two awesome people we sat next to on both our flights and the mother and daughter at our gate lounge who CJ regaled with his story of how we were going on a plane… People were just so kind and friendly and it really gave me confidence in tackling longer haul flights with CJ in future.

I know that I’m pretty lucky to have a ridiculously chill kid (for the most part – apart from when he throws a fit at having to give another kid a go at “driving” the snowmobile at the museum LOL) who understands there’s a time and a place for rowdy and then there’s times you have to behave. I sometimes forget that and so it’s good to have things like this to remind me. I’m definitely excited for our next adventure!

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16 Random Things, Part 6


    1. I’ve seen a few things about the place recently saying “stop taking photos, live in the moment” and while I get the sentiment, I think you can do both. On a recent walk, I arrived at the place above. After a week of rotten weather, the light and the beauty of the moment was just so serene. I took the photo, then I put my phone away and just sat there and soaked it in. Since then, if I’m feeling flustered, I can look at that picture and get that calm back. Similarly, I have a photo recently that I took of my son resting on me… that hardly ever happens any more and it struck me as it happened that it could very well be the last time. I took a photo and then put the phone down to enjoy the snuggles, but I’ll treasure that picture forever. I don’t think that the two ideas are mutually exclusive.
    2. If you need someone to listen, take a seat.
    3. I recently got a FitBit Charge HR and I am SOLD. There have been varying debates about the efficacy of the heart rate monitor on wearables and I know that it’s only going to give me a ballpark rather than exact science, but it’s nice to see the impact that all my incidental or non-gym exercise has on heart rate (cardiovascular health/weight loss) as well. The competitive side of things is exactly what I needed too!
    4. A few weekends ago, I gave in to my cravings and ordered a pizza. It’s a pretty rare thing for me to do seeing I’m lactose-intolerant and have to take tablets to manage it – I usually save those for Mexican food (queso!) or delicious desserts. With my weight loss goal still in my mind, I wavered, but I was craving the hell out of that pizza and so I ordered it. Best decision – it hit the spot perfectly. Sometimes you just gotta eat the damn pizza.
    5. I got to go to an Advance Screening of Me Before You and *deep breath*… wow. Even knowing how the story was going to end (having read the novel), that movie was a solid punch in the feels.
    6. This article by Sarah really spoke to me. My life isn’t totally balanced at the moment as I focus on some serious “making ish happen” but that’s okay. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and I know that the ‘travel’ will be worth it.
    7. I have no idea who taught my kid to say “Gee whizz!” but I love it! Between that and “Oh my gosh” he sounds like an Enid Blyton character 😆
    8. Probably something that’s hard to understand if you’ve never been plus-sized, but I had a total non-scale victory the other day. I won pyjamas as part of a spot prize… and they fit! I’m built like an Amazon (think big bust, big hips), so even at my slimmest sometimes fit can be a crapshoot. At my biggest, post-pregnancy, I could still shop some straight-sized stores but my options were quite limited. Being lean enough to fit something straight-sized, that wasn’t directly selected for me, that I haven’t spent hours searching for… felt really awesome! I’m still not where I want to ultimately be but it was so motivating!
    9. I swear that being a teacher is like being at a pub quiz every day – the amount of questions you get asked! “Miss, is Elvish an actual language you can learn?”, “Miss, what’s an afterbirth?”, “Miss, was the Holocaust kind of like The Purge?”, “Miss, is the ability to put ideas in someone’s mind telepathy or does it have another name?”… surprisingly all relevant questions for texts we’ve been looking at LOL.
    10. I’m a night owl and I generally try to get about seven hours sleep (although I’m functional on about four – learnt that with a newborn); it was interesting to see what this article had to say on that.
    11. On that note, naps as an adult are totally underrated. I am a huge fan of a lazy weekend nap if there’s nothing more exciting to do.
    12. When I was nine, a letter came home from school explaining that a boy in my class had been diagnosed with meningitis. I didn’t understand then why Mum freaked out when I said I sat at the desk next to him… these days I can totally see myself acting exactly the same way.
    13. I seem to have a penchant for listening to certain music in the car in particular seasons. I was blasting Six60 over summer but it seems almost bizarre to be listening to it in winter. Yet I can listen to Ed Sheeran’s X over and over, especially the slow-beat songs like Thinking Out Loud and Photograph.
    14. Game of Thrones is over for another season and it’s a long wait for the next, but how awesome was Lady Mormont in every scene she was in? I hope we get to see more of her next season.
    15. I have this weird little theory about little negative things diffusing big negative things. I seem to attract little injuries – bruises, scrapes, minor cuts, sprains – but I’ve never broken a major bone or had a severe injury. After recently being rear-ended, I’ve wondered whether it is the same with my car accidents. I’ve been in my fair share of what my Aussie friends endearingly call bingles and maybe that’s what’s helped me avoid a major crash… I know that scientifically doesn’t make any sense, but it does in my head LOL.
    16. Always awesome to see a former classmate creating magic, and I think this particular cover may be even better than the original:


Review: “The Revelations of Carey Ravine” by Debra Daley

It’s intriguing that two of the books I’ve reviewed recently feature both England and India so vividly, yet in such strikingly different ways. While Monsoon Summer shows everything in stark outline, part of what draws you into The Revelations of Carey Ravine is the way that everything is shrouded in mystery.  The story starts with the main character, Carey, longing for information about her father (Daniel Ravine) who went missing long ago on the Indian subcontinent. As the story unfolds, however, we find that this is by no means the only secret.

 Carey is relatively happily married to her husband Nash and living a life of apparent wealth in London. They’re a little down on their luck, struggling financially and Nash makes some questionable decisions in order for them to get ahead in the dog-eat-dog world that they live in. The arrival of two different men on the scene – Nash’s former colonial army friend Spencer and the mysterious Dr. Adam Martenson – rapidly unravels their seemingly perfect life. Carey finds that in addition to her own shadowed past, there are many more shady characters in her present. Who can she trust?

I love the way that the author grows Carey as a character. As the novel progresses we get to know more about her past, and it makes some of her decisions in the present more understandable. As a woman of her era, she suppresses some of her natural personality in her marriage to Nash and Daley unfurls the story of both the present and the past in such a way that Carey’s actions may at first appear surprising, but on closer inspection appear to be most fitting to the woman that she is becoming… or in fact, returning to.

Confused yet? Good. The Revelations of Carey Ravine is a classic thriller and one that is likely to keep you on your toes.  The eerie conversations, vivid descriptions and unexpected plot twists are bound to keep you on your toes. Set aside a weekend afternoon to read this book because you are not going to want to put it down.

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Confessions #6

In the interests of keeping things real, I like to publish a semi-regular series on the blog of confessions. They’re a bit of a light-hearted lot this time round, so I hope some of these make you laugh!

  • I probably look like a total airhead lip-syncing along to my music in the gym and I really don’t care. My favourite treadmill (three different types at our gym) is in the corner so no one sees, but I still do it if I’m on the bike right next to the bag rack. I’m a former theatre kid, I can’t help but sing and dance along (although I do try and hold in the dance moves on the treadmill or else I’d probably end up flat on my my ass) and hey, whatever motivates me to push through the steeper inclines, right?
  • I had totally forgotten (after six years) the most annoying part about being single – all the nosiness about your love life! A wee while back I was wrapping up a meeting with my boss saying that I had to shoot off because I had tickets to an Advance Screening. “Date?” No… although not quite as awkward as it sounds seeing I’ve known her for years. The one that made me laugh hardest was when I Snapped a picture of what was literally the biggest popcorn container I’ve seen in my life. I’m not a popcorn eater so I was astounded when my friend Cullen got a jumbo popcorn and I felt the urge to document the moment. But instead of comments about the size of the popcorn, I got no less than five different messages about the manliness of the arm holding the popcorn and asking whether I was out on a date. No, goddamn it. I just wanted to see X-Men Apocalypse and didn’t feel like going by myself LOL. Does it freak people out that I’m single and not dating? I don’t get it.
  • I can’t reverse vehicles to save myself… it was what I failed my Restricted license on when I sat the test the first time. The only reason I’m even vaguely good at it in my current car is because I have a reversing camera. My brain just doesn’t work that way. I’ll never be able to reverse a trailer and I’m okay with that.
  • I’ve definitely mellowed in my point of view about additional children since this post. I posted a picture of baby CJ earlier this week and a friend asked if I was clucky – I’m definitely not. And I’m still absolutely okay if CJ is my only child, I know how lucky I am to have him. But I think a lot of that post stemmed from not having any desire to have any more children in the relationship I was in. In a future relationship, it’s a discussion that can be on the table.
  • Some days I wish there was a concierge “hire-a-wife” service, like the “hire-a-hubby” handyman service. I’m not so behind on life that I need a maid or anything, but sometimes it would just be nice to pass the buck and be like “It’s a busy week, I’m tired as hell; can you chuck through a load of laundry, put out the rubbish and make tomorrow’s lunches so I can just go to bed?”
  • I was absolutely starving one day heading from the gym to daycare – in hindsight I’d only had something small at morning tea and nothing since which was stupid. I pulled in at the fast food restaurant on my way, which happened to be KFC, and got a popcorn chicken snack box thinking that could be the first half of my dinner and then I’d chuck together some veges once CJ was in bed. My plan was to eat it all in the car on the way home, banking on CJ not seeing it as he still rear-faces. Literally the moment I put him in the car: “I WANT K-EP-C! I WANT K-EP-C! I  staaaarrr-bing”. He knew by the damn smell in the car, which makes it sound like we go there all the time – I swear we don’t hahahaha. Needless to say I ended up having to go halfsies on my popcorn chicken but at least we weren’t both “starbing” on the way home.

Anything you’d like to confess?

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Getting back on the (healthy) horse: Music gets the best of me

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!

The most important item in my gym bag? My headphones! It is not a good workout for me if there is no music involved and the piped-in music at the gym is usually pretty average. Give me my headphones, my phone and Apple Music (unashamedly an Apple groupie here) and I am a happy girl. The downside of my current gym is that there is no wi-fi connection – at my previous gym, I didn’t have to plan. I’d just jump on the treadmill and stream the Pop Workout or Charting Now radio channels. With that option no longer available, I’ve been perfecting the art of the playlist. While my music tastes range from country to gangsta rap, my workout music choices are unashamedly pop-py (pop-ish?). My main criteria is that it has to have a kick ass beat that keeps me moving; the dancer in me cares a little bit more about structure and crescendos. So without further ado, here is my current cardio playlist:

I hope you found a new workout track for yourself in this mix!

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Review: “Monsoon Summer” by Julia Gregson

A story that starts with an exhausted protagonist isn’t your typical opening, but the beginning of Monsoon Summer sees Kit taking time out from her midwifery training, ostensibly worn out from nursing through WWII. Wickham Hall provides the safe haven that she craves; she and her mother soon find their place amongst a diverse host of housemates. It is while helping the mistress of the house, Daisy, with her Indian-focused midwifery charity that she meets Anto, a trainee doctor getting ready to return home to a newly independent India.  He is handsome, charming and Kit is soon smitten. They marry at the registry office and literally sail off to start a new adventure back in India.


I have to admit that I didn’t really know much about post-Independence India and I loved how the anti-colonial spirit of the Indian people is woven through the events of the novel. Kit is a very naive protagonist, unprepared for the public opinion that she receives upon her arrival in the country. Her reputation as a medical professional, wife and even woman are all questioned in the light of serious anti-British sentiment.

While the love story between Kit and Anto is important, the mothers (both his and hers) really do steal the show. While both our main characters develop and change over the course of the text, it is the mothers that reveal a multitude of layers -some that are very unexpected. The way that Gregson slowly reveals attitudes built over decades of misfortune and experience is something quite special and propels the action forward, more so than the romance of the story.

Monsoon Summer,  I think, is aptly named. The story combines the heat of romance with the turmoil of an budding independent nation, bringing with it threads of both terror and beauty. I recommend this book for the reader that doesn’t want to be treated gently; one who is open to the beauty and grit that comes with weathering the storm.

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Random things I’m grateful for, Winter Edition

This is my shout out to the little things – it’s easy to be grateful for the big, obvious things but it’s nice to appreciate the random things too, those small things that make your life just a little bit better.

I’m grateful for… Vitamin D3 tablets. I think it may have been my cousin (a nurse) that told me years ago that Vitamin D3 was best absorbed and most useful for body function. Poor “closet ginger” me (very fair skin, auburn hair) gets low on Vitamin D every winter, and while doctor-prescribed cholcalciferol is cheap, this does the trick so much better. Now if only I could remember to start taking it before I start feeling run down. I need a yearly reminder at the start of May or something.

I’m grateful for… my Me Before You bookmark. It’s just a piece of cardboard that I got in the goodie bag at the screening. But it warms my heart every time I pick up the book I’m reading and see this quote:

I can’t quite define why I love it so much. Maybe it’s the acceptance of beauty in the moment, regardless of the outcome. Maybe it’s about living in and accepting the perfection of a moment while you’re there, rather than only appreciating it in hindsight. All I know is that it’s the best piece of cardboard I currently own.

I’m grateful for… cheap picture frames. I recently spent $12 on picture frames at The Warehouse. CJ had done two pieces of art at daycare that actually worked in really well with his room decor and so I decided to frame them and add them to the art already on his walls. I loved the way they looked but what I was unprepared for was the sheer joy and pride on his face every morning when he sees his picture frames on the top of his dresser. I won’t keep every piece of work that he does, but I’m glad I kept those.

Any random things that you are grateful for?

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