Monday, March 31, 2014


I think there's truth to the theories about GMO's and preservatives in American foods. Our immune systems have been rock solid the past 9 months that we've been here, not even so much as a sniffle could be heard in our house. Yesterday our lucky streak came to an end when I was hit with the sinus pressure/aches/sore throat/congestion/I want to curl up in the fetal position and die. I decided it was the perfect time to put Kylie's bath bomb that she made in science class to good use and took a hot bath after picking the kids up from school. Which taking a hot bath while the kids are awake is a very vulnerable thing. Ryder came and just stared at my naked body before finally assessing the situation and decided I was too big for the bath tub and needed to get out and get him a cup of milk. Maddox came up and laughed at me before coming to his own conclusion that I was most definitely in need of soup. The last time one of the kids made me a special meal I ended up stomaching a concoction of milk, peanut butter and soy sauce. So quite naturally I scramble out of the tub, try to decide what is an appropriate amount of nakedness for running down the stairs, then try to convince him that I've had a miraculous recovery. I was too late, I came down to find a bowl of "soup" warming by the fire and a boy with a grin ear to ear. I didn't dare ask, but he rattled off his secret recipe with pride. Ketchup, water and yogurt. Then as an afterthought he decided it was missing something. So he added some cereal. I offered to microwave it for him, but he chooses the poetic route in life every single time. While I was waiting for the fire to warm it up I was racking my brain to think of a graceful way to bow out of this without hurting his feelings. But when I asked if it was warm enough yet his eyes got big, he got a huge grin on his face and said, "you're just so excited to try it you can't even wait any longer!" Why yes, yes I am. There was no way around it, I had to eat the soup. How could I not. I took a few bites as he eagerly looked on in anticipation, then insisted that it was just so good that I needed to share. Thankfully after he added some brown sugar and sprinkles Ryder inhaled the rest of it. And this coming from the kid that turns his nose up at my spaghetti. Jason brought me home an orange from work for a dose of vitamin C, then while I was laying down he snuck out to the store with the boys to buy me some real soup. Forget the romantic flowers and chocolates kind of love, I want this unconditional kind of love. I want a man who will look at me with half my hair matted to my head and only one eyebrow penciled in and love me regardless. A man who despite being a germaphobe will let me lay my sick head on his chest while we watch Tommy Boy. I'm so lucky I found that kind of man. And Maddox. My sweet, sweet Maddox who was so willing and excited to take care of me was just the kind of chicken noodle soup my soul needed. I'm a lucky girl.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Summer officially started in the Pak n Save parking lot. As I was pushing Ryder in the shopping cart a warm breeze came, I closed my eyes for a second and inhaled 33 years worth of summer memories. Barefeet wading in streams, fireflies in jars, diving boards, snow cones, camping, 'smores, fireworks, beach waves, otter pops, flip flops, lake days, sunburns, late nights, family reunions, watermelon...all those memories flashed before my eyes and I swear I could hear "Gettin' jiggy with it" playing faintly in the background. Fall started in pretty much the same way. We were driving home from dance, the sun was out but the air was crisp. Some kids were riding their scooters on the sidewalk as leaves fell down around them and in that moment I swear I could smell the cable knit sweaters and taste the BYU football. Fall is officially here. Soup with bread bowls is on the menu almost weekly. The nip in the early morning air makes me sink deeper under the covers. I feel a sudden urge to go buy a new Jansport backpack and school supplies. I am craving anything pumpkin and yearning for the holidays. Even though I'm much more in the mood to carve pumpkins than dye Easter eggs, I still love experiencing the change of seasons. Summer was less than cordial to us and I'm not quite ready to start hibernating, but I can't be too mad at fall because it's doing exactly what it's supposed to be doing. It's been 9 years since I've experienced a proper fall and I'm giddy to watch the city transform. I have a feeling it's about to get pretty amazing up in here.  

Little things

This post is a foster home of sorts for all those pictures on my phone and camera that just can't seem to find a home of their own. You know I like my posts to be all packaged up nicely, but I've grown to appreciate looking back at the small reminders that our daily lives do consist of more than just playing candy crush and counting down the minutes to bedtime. Letting Kylie skip school so we can bake pumpkin bread while singing along to Imagine Dragons. Walking home from school on warm days and listening as they rattle off the day's events. Little arms wrapped tightly around my neck when they climb into our bed after having a bad dream. Maddox telling me that he likes the dinner because I made it with love. Kitchen chairs that double as a choo choo train. Kylie painting my nails. Jayden building a block tower for Ryder. Digging in the garden for dinosaur bones and teeth. You know, life's a beach and all these little moments right here are the grains of sand.

We spent hours creating a chalk city that covered the entire drive. Beaches, football stadiums, fire stations, farms and mansions for everyone. Then they spent days driving little cars all around the roads. Just wondering why we've never done this before.

At any given time you will find Ryder with his blanket in one hand and a car in the other. And if we're outside he'll most definitely be wearing his yellow boots as well. Boys are kind of fun that way.

Kylie went to her first school dance. The boys stayed on one side of the gym and the girls stayed on the other. The music was too loud. She bought a soda and lollies. They danced to Justin Bieber. And that's all the details I got out of her. She is loving school, her teacher is awesome and hilarious and they have weekly yoga classes and friday karaoke, so pretty much I wish I was still in school too. She has become quite the expert at back massages lately. She gave us a business proposition where she gives Jason and I each a 5 minute back rub every night in exchange for $2 a week to spend at the school canteen. It's the best $2 we've ever spent.

Jayden just got back from school camp today. I missed him and worried about him, but he had a great time and I'm glad he got to experience a little independence. They played spotlight, cooked tinfoil potatoes on the beach, built a huge bonfire, learned all about the Maori culture and the boy he slept next to snored all night. It's good to have him home, I don't like having an empty seat at the dinner table and I missed him walking around all day singing Magic's "Rude", and I missed him asking me every morning if his voice is deeper or if I can see any facial hair. They had the growth and development talk at school and it was waaaay more in depth than I think was appropriate for 9 year olds, some of the questions he asks makes Kylie cover her ears and run out of the room screaming. But at least he's asking questions. And he's convinced he's going to be some child phenom and become the youngest boy to ever go through puberty. Always a competition with this one. His current goal in life is to get a six pack.

Every once in a while I get a hankering for rootbeer floats and it's an itch I just can't scratch. Until now. Jason and Kylie stumbled across some A&W at a Chinese store, of all places. I was so excited and it didn't matter that all we had was mint chocolate chip ice cream, it still hit the spot.

Kylie was so excited to finally start up dancing again. I keep meaning to do a photo shoot and a proper post about it, but I keep forgetting. We signed her up for a ballet class and after a few weeks her teacher told her that she needed to talk to me. She was convinced that she was going to have her move down a class since she's never focused exclusively on ballet and she felt like she was struggling. Instead she had seen so much potential in Kylie and wanted to offer her a scholarship to take 3 additional classes at no cost. What an incredible opportunity. The teacher is fabulous, she knows what she's doing and is quite strict about the girls doing each exercise properly. It has been a really good learning opportunity for Kylie. Ballet is a very disciplined art form, it's not as fun as choreographing dances to Katy Perry like before. Many times she has come home in tears and sworn off ballet for the rest of her life. On more than one occasion I've threatened to drag her in her pajama's to her 2 1/2 hr saturday morning class, but she is really starting to improve and is actually enjoying it. Instead of taking the critiquing so personally she is realizing that her teacher is only trying to help her to reach her full potential. It's hard to see her struggle, but I love when they face hard things and come out a little stronger on the other side.

I love having a little shadow. He has become super attached lately, like I can't leave the house even if Jason is home, and nursery is so far out of the question it's not even on the drawing board. But it feels good to be needed and loved and it doesn't hurt when I comment on a tree being pretty and he says "pretty like you mom!" I don't know if either one of us will be ready for him to start kindy in a couple of months, but until then we're enjoying our little one on one time together. We both still love his weekly play group, I mean when you get to use real power tools what's not to love?

This was from the Bansky exhibit at the Canterbury museum.

He loves playing kick ball (hands down, best $6 investment), and thinks it's a riot when he sits on the ball and I kick it out from under him. And he still picks his clothes every morning. Always shorts, no matter the weather. And he makes me cut the tags off every single shirt. And he wants to put his pajamas on every day after lunch.

He has a few little friends and I love seeing him start to navigate the social world. When he was leaving church one day he patted a little boy on his head and said, "good bye sweetheart!". He has a friend, Christian, that he lovingly refers to as "my Christian". We love getting together at the park with them and I wish I would have snapped a picture of them together today, but instead all I captured was the love child of Satan and Donald Duck. I still have nightmares of this duck chasing us with his evil hiss.

The last few Saturdays we've gone to a different park and I've played with the little guys while Jason plays football and kick ball with the older ones. I don't know, it's just been something I wanted to remember.

Maddox's class had a teddy bear picnic. Maddox was thrilled to bring his beloved teddy to school and even more thrilled that we could join them. Isn't this age just the best? I mean, he shows up for family movie night wearing a pair of sunglasses he found at the beach with one lens popped out, his king crown and super NaNa cape, then insists on making a bed next to him for all of his stuffed animals. These years are just golden. Oh, and a girl kissed him at school.

I took Kylie running with me one morning and we stopped at a cafe for smoothies. Not only can she hold her own at running, but she makes me laugh by using the number placard to dry out her sweaty armpits. She's a good egg, that one.

Ryder still has a love affair with swings. If he's not demanding underdogs then he's flying like super RyRy.

And lastly, this is one of my favorite streets. It's on one of my running routes. It's just so dreamy. And that's a good note to end on.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Seeing green

If we're being honest, St Patrick's day is just an excuse to eat green pancakes and pinch cute little bums that haven't conformed to the green dress code. But this time we added to the St Patty's day festivities with a spontaneous little green photo scavenger hunt on our walk to the dairy to get lollies while waiting for Kylie to finish dance. I loved seeing the world through their eyes and the reminder that it's the simple things.  It's always the simple things.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


I remember going to the movie store on a Friday night about six months ago and small talking with the clerk, because that's what you do when he hooks you up with coupons every time you come in. Don't bite the hand that feeds you. We asked him his plans for the weekend and he said he was just going to hang out at home. I distinctly remember it struck me as odd, like the thought had never really occurred to me that people would do anything other than explore paradise on the weekends. Since then our weekends of exploring have slowly been replaced with weeding the garden, dance classes, grocery shopping, chores, church activities, errands, and just life in general. In a way it feels good settling into life, but I've really missed waking up every Saturday with a picnic basket to pack and an adventure to begin. After we were headed down the Noah fast track with three days and three nights of non stop rain and wind, the skies cleared up and made for the most beautiful Saturday. The thing I need to remember about New Zealand is that if you can just hold on through the eye of the storm there will be sunshine waiting on the other side. It may take me a week to find it, but it will be there waiting for me with its white fluffy clouds and long grass swaying in the breeze. We started the day with a hike to a cave. I expected the kids to complain, only because they complain on almost every hike we go on, but I think the long break we've had from hiking has rejuvenated their spirits.  It didn't even dampen their mood too much when halfway up we discovered that the cave had been closed due to earthquake damage. Instead we hunted for the frogs that were taunting us with their croaks from the stream below while Jason and Jayden continued exploring.

(Jayden had already started hiking down and missed the photo shoot. Ryder was clearly excited that he didn't miss out too.)

No, we didn't plan to match, and no those aren't MC Hammer slash Justin Bieber pants that I'm rocking. Just a jacket tied around my waist. Just felt the need to clarify.

Afterwards we explored a new beach. Didn't I tell you that all roads lead to the beach.

Happiness is getting rewarded with ice cream for peeing your pants while everyone else watches in envy wishing that they had peed their pants too. I know, sometimes I question our parenting techniques too. Maddox had a little accident while gleefully running through the grasslands as I snapped pictures and yelled orders to channel his inner Lion King.  He wouldn't stop crying, even after I let him go commando and tried convincing him it was fine if his shorts were a little wet. Just pretend like you're wearing a swimsuit. We're going to the beach anyways. He was so embarrassed and felt so bad that only an ice cream cone, and stories of us peeing (and maybe even pooping) our pants at school, would put a smile back on his face. Since we're too cheap to buy everyone $4 cones we bought a box of popsicles to share as a consolation prize. If someone pees their pants and expects to be rewarded with ice cream we'll know why. I mean, that strawberry Tip Top is pretty tempting.

There are all these cool caves and tunnels that go through that mountain in the background, it's a shame you can't explore in there because of the earthquake damage. After three years I'm wondering if they'll ever reopen some of these sites. But these boys didn't seem to mind, they were too busy building the Alamo.

Ryder has a pocketful of ninja poses that he pulls out whenever the camera is aimed in his direction. These are a few of my favorites. When I look back at this age, I hope this is what I remember.

We flew kites, Maddox and Jayden dug trenches, Kylie and Jason played with the frisbee (thank you to the Herrera's for sponsoring today's beach activities), we explored tide pools, watched as sea gulls dove for mussels then dropped them from the air in an attempt to crack them open (pretty fascinating), then packed up and ended the day at a birthday party for a friend. If that's not a perfect day, I don't know what is.