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Monday, October 26, 2009

The Kickbiking Diet

Today, a good friend took me ‘kickbiking’.


My lungs almost burst and I nearly expired but it was a lot of fun! Well, the downhills were great fun. But the uphills nearly killed me. Not that I’m a masochist or anything, but I could see the benefits of doing this sort of exercise several times a week…..or even once a week!


It brought back memories of a trip through the central North Island of NZ. We were in our car, traversing up the side of a very steep mountain near the ski fields. Imagine our amazement when we spotted a ‘slightly older’ woman (possibly in her 60’s) pumping up the steep mountain on one of these contraptions. She made it look SO easy! AND she was wearing a knapsack too (maybe with a heart-lung machine in it?!!). And she was fair zooming along… One could’ve been forgiven for thinking she was on the flat and not hoofing up a steep mountain range!


She would do 2 kicks with her left leg, and then seamlessly transfer her weight so that without missing a beat, she would then do the next 2 kicks with her right. I tried that today. I’m glad M was riding ahead of me. It was NOT a pretty sight!


And it was DEFINITELY not a pretty sight at the end of the ride. M was fine. However, I resembled a boiled kumara. My complexion did return to its normal colouring, and my lungs did shrink back into their normal inactive state……several hours later.


But BOY! Was I HUNGRY !!! And now I have THAT much more weight to push uphill the next time I go kickbiking….

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Dreaming of serenity


The other morning

I had to wake early


As I passed by the window, this beautiful mixture of water, sunlight, and movement caught my eye. The sun was just beginning to sprinkle its golden sparkles over the land….heralding the promise of another sunny, hot day.


I couldn’t help but head outside into the freshness of a new morning. I lingered at the edge of our pool, clad only in my night attire and bare feet.


I was very glad for the little bit of privacy afforded by our backyard… and for the moment.


I love this picture.


There is a patch of tranquil water, allowing clear reflections of the palm trees and the rising sun. Radiating outwards from this patch of calm, are the cheery ripples dancing in the sunlight. And I love the mottled patches of light and dark as the shadows give way to day.


It made me think about my week, my day ahead. As life gets busy with all sorts of things (routines, involvements, obligations etc) rippling out and around our family, I want to make sure that I prioritise some unruffled patches into my day. I want to have serenity despite life’s clamouring moments. I want to be a calm, composed mom in the midst of the swirl and eddy of a busy family.


Idealism is a great way to start the day!


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Delirious Springtime Ramblings

There is something priceless about being able to spend quality time with people. When one lives on a tourist route as we do, we have the privilege of becoming a bit of a stopover destination. Over the past few weeks, we have had the sheer joy of catching up with many friends from days gone by. Perhaps it is a tribute to the amazing friends we have, that when we meet (some after many, many years apart), that we can carry on where we left off! And I sometimes muse whether we would get to spend such quality time together if we lived closer….life gets so busy – it’s nice to catch people in a period of ‘space’ - on holiday or en route to conferences etc. There are definitely pros and cons to every situation!


As is becoming the norm, the past few weeks have a blurry feel to them. I think my memory has hit an all time low. Some random recollections which I can share are:

· It fascinates me that the protected animal life of one country is often the bane of another country! In this instance, I am thinking particularly about Possums – considered a pest in NZ, but wholly protected with dedicated societies set up for the protection of possums, in Oz! And neither country can believe the dedicated fervour of the opposing country’s stance! I had to admit that the one we happened upon in a park over here was very cute. It was broad daylight (possums are nocturnal) and there was a steady stream of kids who would climb the tree to oooh and aaah over the poor baby possum trying to get some sleep in a hole in the trunk. Naturally, mothers were summonsed over to take photos (with the flash on!) and to reassure the kids that the wee possum wasn’t really ‘stuck’. My considerate elder son refused to put the flash on my camera, in deference to the poor possum. Sigh. Sacrificing art for animal compassion. And there were far too many kids up the tree for me to clamber up to take my own photos of the traumatised possum (who I’m sure, probably thought he was having a particularly bad nightmare!). Bet he changed accommodation that night!


· Being awestruck by the magnificent $50million concert auditorium at a Christian school where E’s violin teacher works. He invited E to stand on centre stage in pitch blackness, and then he turned all the lights on. It was pretty impressive. I’d already read about the world class sound system they had installed there, but to see it first hand was awesome! I was itching to play the beautiful grand piano and the very swish looking drum kit there…


· On a similar note (scuse the pun), being totally absorbed and amazed by the talented kids in some of the various statewide orchestras E has had the honour of performing alongside, over the last few weeks. Am I the only strange one, or does good music tug at your heartstrings and bring a tear to your eyes too??!


· I am tired of these dust storms we are having. I spend far too much time trying to get rid of the dust everywhere, and I don’t recall having these dusty moments when we lived here years ago. BUT it does make us appreciative of other things! We had 20 mins of a wonderful, refreshing tropical downpour the other evening. It was truly beautiful. The boys and I stopped what we were doing just to watch and enjoy the cool, lovely rain. It filled our pool and our gutters sounded very happy! The garden certainly soaked up every last drop of moisture. I could almost imagine our parched earth giving a satisfied sigh akin to those uttered by my boys and I….


· I love the innocence of youth. Why do our kids have to grow up??? For that matter, why do I have to grow up???!


· Wanna know how I know Spring is here? The 34degC temps we had yesterday are a giveaway. And so were the huge black crows (a momma and a dada) who spent the day defending their territory and young ‘uns, by trying to scare away their own reflections in our windows! The crows here are huge things with vicious looking beaks and claws. And noisy to boot. P1140255 This particular set of crows kept pecking at our glass windows, scratching the glass with their claws, and swooping. I was quite worried that they were going to break the windows with all their carry on. So Wilfred the Teddybear was delegated to be the resident scarecrow.P1140224

As you can see, the crows were as scared of him as I am of chocolate cake! Even with a missing nose and those huge furry ears. Good help is hard to find these days.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hero(ine) Worship

I'm not one to get caught up in the celebrity scene. But bloggers are a bit different. Following a blog is sort of like peeking into someone's window and getting to know this person from a distance. It's like making a new friend. Except that the friend doesn't know you're there.
After reading The Nienie Dialogues for a looong time and having followed the harrowing story of her small plane crash in August, 2008, I finally got to see the famous blogger, Stephanie Nielson, in the flesh! Sort of...
Today, she and her husband, Christian, were on Oprah; I'm sure that thousands of loyal readers were glued to the tv! Stephanie's whole family - all seven siblings and her parents - were also on the show, via Skype, and talked about how it was for them to see her in a coma for three months, wrapped up like a mummy. After all that, and over a year later, she is a beautiful woman, despite the scarring. She consciously chose to fight for life and now lives with constant pain because of the love she has for her husband and four children. And she finds beauty in her new life, instead of focusing on what she has lost.
I love to read Stephanie's blog; she is always inspiring and amazing. And courageous, positive, optimistic, full of faith, loving, creative, etc. etc....
Is this woman real??
You can read the Nienie Dialogues and Stephanie's sister's blog, CJane, by clicking either of their buttons on the right side of the screen.
By the way, Southern Ange, Lea says that if I don't go see you in Australia, she will! Just in case she shows up unexpectedly on your doorstep...

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Downhill Run

P1130734 Today, we’re back to school for the last 8 weeks of the school year! It’s a quick, downhill run from hereon in. I’m not ready. I was just getting used to 2009!


The holidays were fast. As expected. So much to fit into just 2 weeks!

There are many things I like about this land. I know I’ve mentioned it many times before, but the constantly perfect weather remains a favourite reason. Winter/Autumn/Spring in this state is one perfect, blue, sunny day after another…..bar the odd dust storm every few years, and a few hours of drizzle every few months! And balmy temperatures. My boys have spent so much time in the water these holidays, they have turned into brown bunnies. Summer does have us worried though….the mercury is already high and it’s only the start of Spring! This weekend saw us in temperatures of 32degsC! We succumbed and gave our airconditioners their first airing of the year. But the best thing about the weather here is that it does mean that our overseas guests are almost guaranteed great weather every day…


Another plus, is the abundance of delicious tropical fruit. Mmmmmm.


We discovered “Chocolate Fruit” (best eaten with ice cream…and yes, it does taste like a mild chocolate!),


Pitayas (very refreshing passionfruit sorbet type flavour), Canistel (described as similar to eating “Playdough” !), Custard Apples (very sweet, soft flesh with inedible pips which contrain trace elements of arsenic), Jackfruit (refreshing!) etc. However, the Mango is always unbeatable and remains a firm favourite in our household. Mango season has begun and we are enjoying being able to share this tangy, smooth fruit with anyone who will eat it with us!


One of the definite highlights from these holidays, has been time spent with friends and various groups of overseas visitors. Though there is always the sad reminder that we cannot spend time with our (overseas) friends on a day-to-day basis, there is the invaluable opportunity to spend good quality time together when friends come to visit. It is a wonderful thing!


Time to raid the fridge for some melon….


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