A few good things

It's so nice being home. Holidays are amazing but there's no place like home, is there? Feeling very fortunate these days to have lovely holidays and a lovely home I'm always happy to return to.

We spent the weekend up north, doing some work around the weekend home. It was such a nice weekend! The sun came out (in patches) and so did all the people. Walking around the market on Saturday, bumping into friend after friend, I realised how much I love that little community. Such great people up there. Such great times.

How was your weekend? Tell me a few of your good things!

This little girl is growing up so fast!

This little girl is growing up so fast!

When you see your name in a adorable bookshop in Brooklyn, you take a picture.

When you see your name in a adorable bookshop in Brooklyn, you take a picture.

This kid thinks I'm hilarious (I'll take it).

This kid thinks I'm hilarious (I'll take it).

New York style brunch with friends to celebrate our return.

New York style brunch with friends to celebrate our return.

Schippers beer at Mangawhai market. Tried the Scallywag over the weekend. Insanely good.

Schippers beer at Mangawhai market. Tried the Scallywag over the weekend. Insanely good.

A few days in LA

So my little family is just back from a few blissful weeks in the States. We spent most of our time in New York, but spent a couple of nights in LA on the way over, and another night on the way back, in a bid to ease the travel for all of us. And I cannot recommend highly enough doing this if you are travelling with little ones. I'm still delighted at how well it worked, and how much fun we had.

Relaxing on our deck in Marina del Rey on the last night of our holiday.

Relaxing on our deck in Marina del Rey on the last night of our holiday.

We stayed in Santa Monica on our way over, basing ourselves at the Shore Hotel. H1 and I have stayed there before and just love it – the hotel is beautiful, the staff are smiley and friendly, and it's right by the beach. Upon check-in, they gave us a stuffed starfish toy and a bucket and spade for Amelie, which is one of the cutest things I've ever experienced in a hotel. The bucket and spade is now one of her very favourite toys (she likes to turn it upside down and use it as a drum).

Swimming in Santa Monica. This kid is such a water baby!

Swimming in Santa Monica. This kid is such a water baby!

Santa Monica is a pretty great spot for kids and adults alike. I was really keen to see more of downtown and central LA this time, in particular Silver Lake, Griffith Park and LACMA, but with such a short time and Amelie along for the ride it just didn't make sense. What we did in our time in Santa Monica – swimming in the pool, exploring the beach, the pier, the farmer's market, and bussing down to Venice to spend some time around Abbot Kinney and explore the beautiful, faded old architecture and the sleek, contemporary new architecture that sits alongside it (and is no less beautiful, in my opinion) – kept all of us happy and entertained. It may change as she gets older, but for now we're finding that any compromise in our lifestyle is really minimal, and what compromise there is just doesn't matter all that much for us. We do things for the baby, then we do things for ourselves, and the balance just works. Taza has written about how in her family, each person chooses something they want to do when travelling, and when they're doing that thing there is no complaining, because another person's choice is coming up. I love this. Amelie is obviously too young to choose what she wants to do, but I see this working so well for us in our future, as it's already what we're doing now (we may choose for her, but we choose honestly!)

On our way back, we spent a night at the Marina del Rey hotel, in Marina del Rey (fancy that!). This is the perfect place to be if you need to be close to the airport, without actually staying in an airport hotel. We were feeling pretty jaded by the time we landed back in LA, and had that end-of-holiday feeling where you just can't wait to be home. The service cross-country had been typically terrible (I have never had good service on an American airline – how do they get away with it?!) and after getting stuck in a stuffy, hot lift for about 15 minutes, and our driver not turning up to collect us, we were all rather grumpy by the time we checked in. None of this was the hotel's fault, but they cheered us right up by upgrading our room, giving us room service credit, free breakfast, and a super-late checkout of 6pm the next day. Anyone who's tried to work travel around a baby's naptime can appreciate how amazing that last perk in particular was! 

Golden Road IPA. How beautiful is that design! It's really good beer, too.

Golden Road IPA. How beautiful is that design! It's really good beer, too.

There's nothing to do in Marina del Rey, but for such a short amount of time that really doesn't matter. We swam in the hotel pool, went for a walk around the marina, and relaxed outside while Amelie crawled around. It was wonderfully relaxing and such a perfect way to break up the flights home. The hotel itself is beautiful, and having a suite with a deck overlooking the water meant we were totally content to stay put and just relax. Having a stopover on the way back also helped reduce our jet lag down to almost nothing. It was brilliant, and I'm definitely planning on having stopovers both outbound and inbound next time we travel any great distance. It may be my number one travel tip, actually, especially when travelling with children.

Sunset over the marina.

Sunset over the marina.

Thanks LA – you're pretty great. Can't wait until next time. x

 

 

Midwinter update

As much as I'd like it to be, I have to admit we haven't had midwinter yet – in fact, it's really only just started. We have, however, had the shortest day of the year, so things are on the up again.

Midwinter Cox's Bay, in between small storms of rain.

Midwinter Cox's Bay, in between small storms of rain.

The seasons are shifting so much in New Zealand that the shortest day of the year now arrives well before winter sets in properly. I've struggled with this in the past; to me, once that day has been and gone we should steadily see an improvement in the weather. We don't, of course, and this year I'm trying really hard to accept that. One of the ways I'm doing this is by shifting my capsules by a month each – so while the calendar says June, July and August constitute winter in New Zealand, my winter capsule will encompass July, August, and September. I won't move into a spring capsule until the beginning of October. I'm hoping this will help keep me warm in September (a month traditionally marked by high levels of optimism and goosebumps to go with it, for me).

I also can't complain too much as I've just spent most of June in the States, soaking up their early summer vibes. Glorious, glorious times. Expect more posts on that wonderful holiday soon, including an overview of what I bought and how mindful I managed to keep it, even after ending my self-imposed shopping break; what it's like travelling with a baby; and how I'm trying to keep that holiday vibe alive – after all, I'm now trying to make it last for the next three months of wintry weather.

For now, I am happy to report that I've come back feeling so refreshed and excited to move into the next phase of the year. H1 and I have made some changes and have some more in the planning, and I'm so looking forward to all the good things we think are going to come out of them. The most immediate one is pretty big, in my world at least – I'm returning to work, a few months earlier than I intended to. I don't enjoy being at home, and this step is going to be so energising for all of us (especially Amelie, who is the most ridiculously social baby – takes after her parents, it seems!)

More on all of that soon. Hope you're enjoying your winter too – and if it's summer where you are, know how much I envy you and make the most of it!

Long weekend in Hawkes Bay

This autumn we got away for a few days to beautiful Hawkes Bay – the first time we've done that drive with Amelie! I was nervous but it was totally fine. Two stops on the way down and two on the way back, one planned and one unplanned each way. Oh and one somersault into the back seat by me while we were stopped in traffic! Amelie does not like being caught in traffic, but as I keep saying to her, she lives in Auckland and she's just going to have to get used to it. 

Cycling the Hawkes Bay trails.

Cycling the Hawkes Bay trails.

Hawkes Bay was absolutely lovely. The weather was perfect, and we got some decent friend time in. The whole reason we were there, actually, was because some of our friends who live in Australia, and have their own little bébé two months younger than Amelie, were over for a holiday and asked if we could make it down – so happy we did! Another of our friends came up from Wellington, and we all caught up over wine and platters at Elephant Hill – fitting, as we worked out it was the first time we had all been together since our wedding, over six years ago. Obviously I'm a bit biased, it being our wedding venue and all, but Elephant Hill is just so amazing. Such fantastic views, food, and wine. 

The elephant at Elephant Hill!

The elephant at Elephant Hill!

Amelie enjoying cuddles with everyone at Elephant Hill.

Amelie enjoying cuddles with everyone at Elephant Hill.

H1 and I also got out for not one, but two little adventures on our own – cycling some of Hawkes Bay's trails and dinner at Bistronomy. Amelie's aunt and grandma looked after her while she napped one day, leaving H1 and I free to cycle out to Puketapu Pub for a late lunch. It felt so great to be back on the bike, especially as I got to ride my gorgeous yellow behemoth (the Hawkes Bay bike, as it currently is known – it lives with the in-laws as it just makes no sense in Auckland, but it's such a beautiful bike and I do miss it.)

Amelie testing my bike before we headed out.

Amelie testing my bike before we headed out.

Handsome husband outside the Puketapu. Cycling with this guy is the best.

Handsome husband outside the Puketapu. Cycling with this guy is the best.

The following evening, H1 and I put Amelie to bed as normal and then left her under the watchful eye of her grandparents while we went out for dinner at Bistronomy. Another strong recommendation – next time you're in Hawkes Bay, do try to squeeze dinner in here. We shared plates (of course – is there any other way to eat now?), starting with chicken wings with Sriracha mayo and pork skin with mushrooms and mushroom mousse. The chicken was the winner here – super full of flavour and not heavy, even though it was deep-fried. The mushrooms were amazing, so I was very happy to see them pop up again in a side dish with butternut squash and feta. We also had snapper – light, fresh, delicious – and a beef short rib that had so much going on it tasted almost dirty. In a good way...but there was no way I could have had a whole plate of it. Sharing was wise.

Then dessert...even though I have a sweet tooth, dessert is rarely my favourite part of a meal, but this came close. We ordered the simplest thing on the menu (chocolate ganache) which came out as five perfectly round little balls. On the outside, they had extremely light pastry dusted in sugar – almost like an incredibly narrow surrounding of doughnut. On the inside was the promised ganache, which was dark and sweet and slightly spicy. So, SO good. 

So yes, in short, go to Bistronomy.

We also took Amelie swimming with her cousins – so much fun for everyone! – and H1 got in some proper cycling, while Amelie and I went for a walk in the sun to pick up coffee from Bay Espresso (best coffee in Napier, and it's always nice drinking local coffee when away on holiday). On that walk I even got a fleeting feeling that I could live in Hawkes Bay. I actually couldn't of course – I need the city! – but I'm very glad I'm lucky enough to have family there so I can visit regularly.

Some stories about mothers after Mother's Day

Yesterday was Mother's Day – my first as a mother. Some people say you become a mother when you become pregnant, but that wasn't the case for me. I loved Amelie when I was pregnant with her, but she was an abstract, a concept that I hadn't fully developed. I had no idea what was to come, and how much she would change me. I had no idea how much love I could feel for someone whom I'd only just met.

Amelie helping me open my present on Mother's Day.

Amelie helping me open my present on Mother's Day.

That said, I was scared of losing her from the word go. I've talked before about how long H1 and I had to wait for her, and I couldn't – still can't – believe my luck. Mine was a high-risk pregnancy, but thankfully, overall it was pretty easy and both Amelie and I got through fine. I had amazing medical care, and I used to joke with my care team that I was the lowest-risk high-risk pregnancy there was. I felt cared for at every stage, and I knew that if anything turned out to be wrong with either of us, we would be well looked after.

It seems that's not the case everywhere. This story from ProPublica, about a mother who died after her child's birth, made me cry and is well worth a read (just don't venture into the comment section – people are the worst sometimes). To me, the behaviours exhibited in the story are the same ones that lead to abortion being illegal, because in lawmakers' eyes, an unborn baby is worth more than a woman. They're the same ones that literally blame mothers for climate change if they use formula (I have so many feelings on this, mostly based in rage, but for now, I think it's enough to say that if you're a man who wants to talk about breastfeeding, you need to sit down, shut up and listen to the ones who find it harder to have their say, because they're sitting on the sofa, trapped under a baby who is feeding).

They're the same ones that lead to stupid names for mothers doing things that men do, because – well, I'm not quite sure actually. Is an entrepreneur who also happens to be a mother too threatening? Do we really need to make it less scary by saying mumpreneur? 

They're the same ones that lead to mothers' opinions, feelings, concerns being automatically dismissed, because they're just mothers.

That last one happened to me recently, from a nanny agency no less – a business you'd think would be used to dealing with mothers, and would take their responsibilities seriously. The shock I felt as I listened to a woman on the phone insinuate I was an overwrought mother, and that was where the problem lay, made me feel ill. I don't think I need to tell you that was not where the problem lay – it lay firmly in the lap of a negligent nanny and this woman who rudely told me she didn't believe me, despite the evidence I had. And this happens all the time, to many women the world over, with consequences much more severe than those I've experienced. 

Come on. We need to listen to mothers. 

Some more good thoughts about mothers: