Friday, 20 January 2017

Mount Maunganui: December 2016

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I just love a local Summer holiday! There's always something so exciting about hooking up the jet ski and packing the car full of bicycles, beach gear, towels, flippers, goggles, snacks and Summer music playlists - and setting off for a week of sun, sea and adventure.

This holiday we spent some time in Mount Maunganui, just outside Tauranga, in the Bay of Plenty area. It's a popular beach holiday destination in New Zealand because the beaches are so gorgeous and the town boasts many cute stores and lovely restaurants. There's also a great walk to do around and up the Mount, down at the beach.

One evening after dinner out in Tauranga city, we were having a wander around and discovered a park with the characters from the Hairy Maclary stories. I was beyond excited! I loved reading those stories to my kids when they were growing up. Do you know these books? If you have young kids and you haven't heard of them, do go and have a look because they are seriously the cutest.

^ Hercules Morse. As big as a horse.

I mean, just look at the movement on Muffin McLay! So good.

As you can see, I couldn't get enough of that place! Grant and Luke eventually had to drag me out of there! ;)

On one of our days away, we rode our bikes from the Mount, along the beach road, to Papamoa - about 20-odd kms in total. And I mention (brag) about this here because it had been my first cycle in ages and boy was I proud of myself for my efforts that day! Hah! Okay, it was a pretty flat ride, but we had to cycle into the wind on our way back which wasn't what I'd call fun. ;) 

And after that solid effort, we rewarded ourselves by lounging on the beach for the rest of the day:

Did I mention that I love Summer holidays? And the beach? Because I really do.

This guy went off to buy himself an ice-cream and somehow managed to charm the ice-cream lady into giving him a couple of extra scoops for free! *quite the charmer, this one*

And besides enjoying a couple of meals with friends down there, doing some jet skiing and spending time on the beach soaking up the sun, we also went to the local hot springs and a movie on the one rainy day. 

And then it was time to head back home for New Year's Eve.

And that was our little getaway. Over and out.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

December 2016 Little Things

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December was a busy month for us - the end of the year always is, I guess. We had Jessica's Graduation Dinner right at the beginning of the month. You can read all about that here.

And on the 2nd I went along as a parent helper to Luke's school Community Service Day at Mahurangi Regional Park. We helped the rangers distribute mulch around all the trees and shrubs in the camping and beach front areas. It was strenuous work, but so rewarding. I did this with Jess and Sarah when they were in Year 7 too - it's a great feeling to be doing some community work, especially at this time of year.

Unfortunately I didn't get any photos of us lugging the bucketfuls of mulch (too busy working), but I took these next two photos during our lunch and down-time afterwards, when the kids got to swim and relax after all of their hard work.

Our Cape Town friends who now live in Nelson, came up to Auckland at the beginning of December to catch the Coldplay concert and they came to stay with us.

We started off our Coldplay evening out with dinner at an awesome restaurant in Ponsonby, called Azabu, which "combines Peruvian Japanese Nikkei flavours with more Tokyo-style dishes" (according to it's website). Wow, the food was delicious there! We tried a variety of meals - small plates, tostada, dumplings, tempura, main plates & sides - everything was mouth-watering. Seriously. I can't even separate out which was my favourite dish of the night - it was all so good.

I got this next photo from our friends (thanks Helena) after we'd all arrived at the Coldplay concert (they were not sitting with us):

It was so great to get to spend time with them again now that they're living in New Zealand. It would be even better if we lived in the same city, but I'm not complaining because Nelson is just a short flight from Auckland so I'm sure we'll get to see a lot of them. (We're even getting their daughter, Jessica's old school friend, coming to stay with us in a few days time.)

One of the highlights of a Coldplay concert is always these armband goodies which light up when the concert starts and flashes in time to the music, with certain colours flashing at certain times. Always a hit.

Poor quality night time shot (one day I'll take awesome night time photos):

And here's a little music snippet I put up on my Instagram: Coldplay.

That was such a fun night out! And also a fun weekend with our Cape Town mates.

Then we went to our good friends' son's 21st birthday party the next weekend:

Congratulations, Liam! 

Then it was Sarah's birthday - you can read my post about that here.

Luke and I visited Grant in the city one day and I took this cute picture of my boys when we stopped for a coffee break:

Luke also continued playing summer football during the holidays:

December was also filled with lots of water polo - Auckland hosted the World Junior Women's Water Polo Championships and Sarah and I went to watch quite a few of those awesome games. The level of water polo was phenomenal and we got to watch the USA, Russia, China, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and a few other awesome teams. It was a real treat to get to watch that calibre of play right here at our local pool. 

The Tri-Nations Water Polo Championships (NZ, Australia and South Africa) also took place in Auckland this December (the week after the World Champs) and we watched even more water polo then!

An old Cape Town bookclub friend and her family came over to watch their son play in the South African U18 team in the Tri-Nations tournament, and we got to see quite a bit of each other at the pool during their stay here. It was also wonderful to have them over for dinner one night. It's always so lovely to see old friends from SA here in Auckland.

Sarah also had a New Zealand Water Polo 5 day camp in December - so it was go, go, go with all the Water Polo because she was also doing table duty during the Tri-Nations tournament.

And later in the month, Grant and I celebrated our wedding anniversary! We went out for dinner at a restaurant called Tok Tok and enjoyed some very tasty food there while enjoying some quiet time before the Christmas rush began.

And then it was Christmas - more about that over here. And after Christmas we had a couple of days of relaxation and tidying up before we headed off to Mount Maunganui for a few days. I'll write a separate post about that little getaway soon.

December 2016, over and out. x

Monday, 9 January 2017

Sarah Turned 16!


It seems almost crazy that this baby of mine is now 16. 16?! I mean, how can this be? Geez!

I feel like I want to hold onto these precious years, tease them out and make them last longer, savouring each and every moment - the good and the not so good. My heart and the voice inside my head are silently shouting: SLOW DOWN ALL THIS GROWING UP ALREADY! I'm not ready to move on yet!

So I'm loving up on this girl because I know how quickly these next two years are going to go, and I just want to enjoy every moment of having her around the house, and all the excitement and fun that comes with having teenagers.

She's at the age now that her friends are all-important and spending time with them is everything. But luckily she's also a little homebody who loves to lie on the sofa catching up on Home and Away, dance with her dog, play her music and sing loudly along to some of those crazy songs and hang around the kitchen island telling us funny stories.

And 'Sweet 16' is so appropriate for this kid. She's definitely a real sweetie, with an enormous heart of gold. And I'm so very grateful that I get to spend this life with her.

My mom made this lovely cake for Sarah (thanks mom!) and it was DELICIOUS!

Having a December birthday is not the best, (only just better than having a birthday in the beginning of January, I reckon) but we had to have a small party to celebrate Sarah's big milestone, so she invited about twenty of her school friends over for burgers + fries, loud music and laughter. And that yummy birthday cake, of course.

And now it's time to get Sarah to do her learner's licence, (and boy does that little fact make me all kinds of nervous! guys, I was NOT cut out to teach kids to drive! haha!) but I'm not going to push her because while it would be great to have a break from driving her to water polo and swim training every day, I would miss our time together in the car: dancing and singing to (LOUD) music, and listening to her chat about her life. Those are some of the very special moments.

Happy Sweet 16, Sarah! I love you so much. Birthday post, over and out. x