Thursday, December 21, 2017

A Tumultuous Ride

We could have lived an easier life. But instead we chose to move so far away and start a family on the other side of the world.  We became accustomed to a life lived abroad.  Our move to Omaha gave us relief from the unknown, as we started to plan for a possible future there.

Then life got flipped.  Our trajectory couldn't seem to find any strength until finally we were on our way home.  Although it was a long-expected outcome, it took me by surprise and has been a difficult journey. 

I took comfort in some words from a friend today as she described my life as throwing me around recently.  Except that we chose this year.  We told life we'd stay put, we'd wait and see.  We could have come home sooner.  So I can't agree with her.  I willingly jumped on that ride and had to allow it to run its course.

I often wonder about these decisions, heading towards feelings of regret.   Why did we stay so long, why did we move to Omaha, should I be working and not at home with the kids?  These are a few of the questions that sometimes tumble through my mind.  But there is joy in there too.  I love my job.  I love the scenic views.  I love living opposite the Manukau Harbour.  I love having my mother right here, and JBird's mother just over the bridge(s).  I love the new car we bought.  I love teaching my children Maori in a land where it makes sense.  I love the food! Running is so much more enjoyable here than anywhere else I've run.  It's as though someone finally showed me how to work my 3D glasses.

I look forward to caring about Christmas more next year.  I will be better prepared for it, I will enjoy teaching my children silly and not so silly traditions.  But this year I'm letting other people take charge.  Instead, I'll teach my children how wonderful life can be when you're with the people who love you and the people you love.  I'll delight at their ability to grow and learn when life is sane and makes sense to them.  When I'm there for them.  I'll enjoy cultural observations which answer some questions about the way I acted away from home. Ah, home.  Here we are.

Monday, December 18, 2017

We're Home

...and I'm not sure how it happened.  January 2017 took us from Indiana to Omaha, Nebraska.  While there the two options for our next visa fell through, one of which would have taken us to the Gulf Coast, Mississippi.  Mississippi?  I often wonder what life would have been like had we lived there.  The is always followed by a sense of relief.

Omaha treated us well.  Life was quiet yet very happy.  We lived in a cute little blue house with a huge yard.  There was snow in the winter, wild violets in the spring, and fireflies in the summer.  I couldn't tell you about fall as we left before it came.  We had a snake in the basement, black chipmunks in the yard, baby eagles drinking from our paddling pool.  Jackson turned 2 and Rori 4.  We had new friends, some we may keep forever.  I went to the gym often and started teaching the children to swim.  Rori had a sweet violin teacher but she didn't go to preschool.   Justin and I joined a community orchestra for the first time in the States.  Our family bonded as we spent all day every day together.  

While visiting Misssissippi to buy a house, we received the news that that door was closed and we would be moving back to New Zealand.  It was a great shock but we sold and gave away most of our things, put our piano on a ship, and drove back through old haunts to visit friends on a Grand Farewell Tour.  

Back in Auckland, we are living in my mother's basement apartment.  The ocean (Manukau Harbour) is across the road, Mangere Mountain right behind us.  This is an idyllic place to live while we find our feet.  

It hasn't been easy.  The children have shouted a lot and so have we.  I spent term 4 teaching New Entrants at a school just a ten minute commute away, and Justin is at a Music academy teaching in a similar position to the one he had in Omaha.  Our hours don't coincide but our children have their parents. Finding myself back in familiar territory was at first terrifying.  One day at a time I found my feet, remembered where I had been.  I am now looking forward to teaching Year 3 at the same school.  I am so grateful to be teaching again.  Ultimately, I am grateful to be home.  
Do you not know how it is with love?  First comes delight: then pain: then fruit.  And then there is joy of the fruit, but that is different again, from the first delight.  And mortal lovers must not try to remain at the first step.

    C.S. Lewis: The Pilgram's Progress

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A Strange Land

“It’s so hot, I’m covered in sweat!” Sara said to her mother.  They had just landed in Bangladesh and were waiting in the customs line at the airport. Sara felt tired after their long flight.  She couldn’t wait to unpack some thinner clothes when they got to their new apartment.  

"Who es your husband?"  The customs officer asked her mother in a strange, lilting accent.

"I am unmarried."  Her mother said.

"I will need to know the name of your father."  He replied.

Sara’s eyes pricked with tears at the original question as her father had passed away after a brief and painful battle with cancer just over two years ago.  She had come to Bangladesh with her mother to help them take their minds off the gaping hole his death had caused in their lives.  But now she wasn’t so sure they had made the right decision.

“I want to go home.” she said to her mother as they walked away from him.

“We only just arrived, Sara, give it a chance.” said her mother.

As they collected their luggage, Sara noticed hundreds of male faces outside the glass walls of the large airport.  They were very tidily dressed, small in stature, and wide eyed.  Some of them were holding hands and leaning on each other.  Some talking animatedly, but many were just staring.  

“Why are they all here?” Sara asked their driver but his English was so heavily accented that she couldn’t understand his response.  

They were driving on the road now and the noises and colours were intense.  Brightly painted trucks and rickshaws, overly-dented cars.  People everywhere.  Bells and horns.  In her over-tired state, Sara felt faint and ill.  

Their new apartment provided some peace from the crazy outside but it felt sterile.  It was furnished with wicker furniture, blank walls, and tiled, empty floors.  

Sara’s sleep was broken by the strangeness of everything that night.  The smells were almost a taste in the air that she couldn’t recognise.  There were so many unusual noises: hundreds of rickshaw bells, the call to prayer, hoiking on the streets, loud yet unaggressive shouts.  And the heat, it was as though she could never drink enough water to cool herself.  She wondered if this new life would ever feel ordinary.

“It’s time to go.” Called her mother.  

Sara grabbed her water bottle as they left the apartment.  A teacher from the school had offered to show them ‘Old Dhaka’ – the bustling ancient part of the city.  Stepping outside, Sara felt alive and excited.  She had been promised they would spend most of the day on various local transport – rickshaws, boats, van gari; shopping for a saweer kameez – the commonly worn clothing for women; and eating local food.  

As they stepped up onto the rickshaw – a colourfully decorated chariot pulled by a bicycle – she felt a smile stretching across her face.  They had just sat down and the driver took off twinkling his bell.  As he wove through traffic and took corners at break-neck speed, Sara was exhilarated.  She could barely believe this was her new home.

Friday, March 4, 2016

A moment in someone's life

“NO! Them’s mine! Them’s mine! Jax!” I feel mad.  Jack is stealing all my blocks from my bootiful castle. 

“Them’s mine! Get off, get off!”  Mummy’s not paying me any ‘tention so I make sure she can hear me this time. These blocks are dumb.  I push them off the table and go get Ellie and Blankie.  

“Come on, Ellie, you need go to bed.”  Blankie fits comfy around Ellie and I think it will be a good idea to put them in my hut.


“Oh, I had to do that, Aria, I needed the chair for lunch.”

“But it’s all messed up and I need to put Ellie to bed.”

“Okay okay, let me put it together for you again.”

“And I need some nice music to play so I can be a fairy and dance while Ellie goes to bed.”

“Yes, yes.”

“My nice music I want to dance and be a fairy.”

“Muuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuum! Jack’s got my dress he’s got my dress he’s got my dress.” Ouch, why did I fall over? “I falled over!”

“Okay, everyone pack up.  Let’s go upstairs to bed.”

But I’m not tired! “I’m not tired! I’m not tired. I’M NOT TIRED.”

“Okay.  But it’s bed time so come on, we’re not going to have time for stories.”
No stories? “No stories?” I run to the stairs. “But Jax won’t come! Jax isn’t coming.”

“He’s coming, hurry up, get on the potty.”

“I’m not tired!”


My name is Aria Grace. I have bootiful curly hair.  My mummy tells me Ari. Sometimes she tells me monkey.  I’m two and a half and next I’ll be five.    Before I’m five I’ll be three.  I’ve got May.  Daddy’s got Sep’ber.  Mummy and Jax have Jan’ry.  It’s my birthday soon.  I want a purple hoola hoop at Dollar Tree like I show mummy.  Mummy told me bed time but I’m not tired so I’m playing.  I’m reading. And sewing. I’m really good at sewing. And one day I can read but not yet. I don’t always know what da pikchas saying. Ellie needs another song. Maybe he’d like Row row row boat. Or Twinkle lil’ star.  No Row.  I sing Row.

“Ari. Aaaaaari. It’s time to wake up.  We’re going to see the big boys now.”

I open one eye and close it again. I’m sleeping now, mummy. But she’s patting my back. I’m sleep, I’m sleep.  

“Let’s go potty and I have a snack for you, Ari. Goldfish and raisins.”

“And I want some cheese.” I told her.

“Yes, cheese too.  Let’s go, Ari.”

I crawl into her lap for a cuddle. I want her stop talking but she doesn’t.

“Maybe we should take your bike.  Would that be a good idea, Ari? Should we take your bike?”

Thursday, September 3, 2015

A camping we shall go

I see I mentioned last year's holiday (see blueberry post) but failed to post about the awesome road trip we took around Lake Ontario.  We have this photo on our fridge from that lovely holiday.  We stayed with many close friends and it really was a special trip.  BabyBird traveled extremely well for her age.

This year we found a relatively cheap, decent family tent, so I really wanted to go camping.  Let's face it, every summer I want to go camping.  It took me all summer to get around to it because I felt as though Jbaby was too little and it would be unmanageable.  Finally we decided to coincide our trip with the birth of my niece in Michigan.  We would visit her on the way there and on the way back, only going for five days and four nights.  Hopefully a shorter trip would make it more manageable with our own little one.  

Introducing BabySiggy.

We headed all the way to the far north of the lower peninsula of MI to visit Mackinac Island and some surrounding beaches, and stopping at Traverse City on the way home.

The camp ground in Mackinaw City where we stayed was lovely.  It was situated on Lake Huron (neighbours Lake Michigan where we normally go) in some woods.  Each campsite offers a picnic table and a fire pit.  Here is our situation and a sneaky peak of some yummy camp-time french toast.

Mackinac Island was an interesting day trip.  It's famous for its lack of motor vehicles with people getting around by foot, bike, and horse drawn buggy.  We took our new bike buggy for the babies and hired some bikes.  Jbaby wasn't too keen on that one...

I was glad to have some obligatory beach time, and even gladder that Jbaby found his sleep while on the beach.  Just a glad mummy all around.

They both traveled really well but I was left feeling pretty tired afterwards.  I'm glad we went, was glad to get home, and look forward to many more family holidays with slightly older children.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Fresher cut herbs

Check it out! I have discovered a really great way to keep herbs bought at the supermarket fresher, longer. I think the key is washing, discarding damaged/old looking leaves, and carefully drying them with a paper towel before putting them in your jar.  At first I thought it was a bit ridiculous to have such a large jar but it fits on my bottom shelf pretty nicely, even with all the excess food that having my mother stay calls for (we are foodies together).  Here's the article I read which suggested this in the first place, with further suggestions for other fresh cut herbs.

Here's the cilantro we bought for some Asian flavoured salads I have been making.  Yum.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

And then he was seven months

Trying to crawl, enjoying sitting, munching on food.  All those lovely things that herald in the second half of a baby's first year of life are upon us.  

With Mum here, we thought it would be nice to have his dedication.  Of course we forgot to get the obligatory family pic after church but here is one from the ceremony.  

This dedication was a timely reminder for me that Jbaby and Babybird are not me, they are themselves.  Seriously, I have discovered an element of control that I want to gain and just can't.  Like Jbaby drinking more milk (or simply gaining more weight), or Babybird sharing and playing with other children nicely.  As such, they will need to make lots of decisions for themselves even if I am making a lot of them for them right now.  However, they need to be taught a lot and the church can help Jbird and I as we raise them.  Even with the church's help, things may not go to plan.  It's only God that can offer the grace they (and we all) need to live in this world. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

A new gadget

Look what mum bought JBird for his birthday this year...
 ...and I love it!  The different buttons allow for different temperatures for various teas and even plunger coffee.  We are prolific hot drink drinkers, even throughout the summer.  Do you see the "keep warm" button?  It will keep the water at whichever temperature you want it for half an hour.  Perfect for when we have guests.  Thanks mum.  

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A few lentils in my diet

I used to make a vegetable soup with brown lentils but to be honest, the colour started putting me off it.  That and I ate it made it too often.  There's nothing like eating something too much to inspire boredom.  I've had a good break and I decided it was time to start eating them again.  I found this yummy red lentil curry.  It's fairly similar to the old soup but it provides a lovely change in both colour and flavours.  I add some chicken stock (and less tomato paste), yogurt to aid its creaminess, and a little lemon juice as any good Indian chef would.  

Any other lentil suggestions would be heartily welcomed.