Ten Years Down the Road – Part ONE – The Hobbits Meet and Marry

So I had a number of options for this.  A teeth-itching and overly sweet homage to the many things I Love about Grumpy.  Erm.  Nah.

Then I thought I could do a nice cheesy “Secrets to a successful marriage” thing for you all to read.  Upon reflection, I realized that our marriage is not always a raging success, and what works for us could very well be just the thing that ruins a different couple’s union.  So no, I won’t do that either.

What I will do is tell you how we met, what it is like being a part of team Happy Hobbit, tell you what works for us and why, and then share with you some pictures of our first wedding.  Like these ones!


This is going to take two, possibly three instalments to get through, but if nobody reads the first part (How the Hobbits Met) then perhaps I won’t bore you with further insight into the intimate workings of Hobbity Happily Every After…  We shall see.

On with the story of how we met.

Way back in what our children refer to as “the olden days” or, sometimes also known as “the time before time” I had an amazing job as the sales and marketing manager for a small but mighty ISP.

About this same time, Grumpy was enjoying the momentum of releasing his first successful commercial product, and working on making some new fangled DJ stuff that would revolutionize the music industry (or so I’ve heard it said).

He and I lived and worked in the magical city of Auckland New Zealand.  We shared many of the same interests, even a handful of mutual friends; yet, until one fateful phonecall in 2002, our paths had never crossed (that we know of).

Steve’s good friend and flatmate Blair was interested in starting a web hosting company.  So, being the renowned persnickety geek that he is, he offered to do some research to help Blair source the best possible co-location and hosting solution he could get for his money.

Little did our grumpy protagonist know that this search would lead him not only to a fast, friendly, fully redundant, and exceedingly well priced network; it would also lead him right into the waiting arms of fate and the rest of his life.

I answered the phone, in my usual enthusiastic manner.  After several dozen months of intense training (drinking Guinness with the system administrators and learning about how the Internets work) I had gleaned enough information on “getting the packets through” to hold my own when conversing with potential clients of various technical knowledge and ability.

Steve Hoek was my most formidable challenge to date.  He wanted to know everything from SLA (Service Level Agreements) to uptimes, to latency, to costing, to contracts… Whew.  What a royal pain in the ass he was.  But he was nice, and openly impressed with my knowledge and the non-salesperson approach I took to dealing with him.  I was not pushy and I didn’t make things up, and if he asked a question to which I had no answer, I’d go and call Sneep (the network administrator) and get the answer before responding.

Hmmmm. I wonder if I should mention I kinda had a boyfriend at this point.  Nah, that just makes me sound like a bit of a jerk, and probably make this story extra long and confusing.  (Besides, I always kinda had a boyfriend.)

On with the story.

So the day came for a network tour.

No big deal.  I did these all the time.

Off to the NOC (Network Operation Centre) I went to await the arrival of a potential new co-location customer.

Steve was accompanied by his business partner AJ, and his good friend Blair.

He drove up in an RX7.  I was duly unimpressed, and assumed that this (VERY attractive man) was a total douche.  He had a goatee (yuck, I hate facial hair) and drove a red rocket sports car.  Not at all the stock standard aloof-kindhearted-train-wreck- of-a-man I tended to go for.

I didn’t think much of our meeting.

Steve, on the other hand, was deep in the throws of lust at first sight.

So, he asked me out, I did not disclose the fact I had a boyfriend (in my defense, because I knew that relationship was doomed anyway). And to be fair, he didn’t ask me out, so much as ask me to his flatwarming. And I stood him up, dealing with soon-to-be-ex boyfriend dramas.

Around this time both Steve and I had independently reached the conclusion that relationships weren’t for us. Too much drama, too much stress.

There was much to-ing and fro-ing between us, but long story short, we couldn’t stay away from each other.  I tried to fight the urge to fall into a relationship with this tiny but terrifically toned man.  At this point, I had already laid down the law and told him that no matter where we were heading, there was no point pursuing a relationship with me unless he could accept the fact I DEMANDED children one day.  That chat occurred on our second “official” date.

We’d been dating for a few weeks at this point, but he hadn’t “put out” as it were by then.  A new and strange concept to me entirely.  We spent a great deal of time together, and slept in the same bed frequently either at his place or mine where we would watch movies and chat until the wee small hours of the morning.

His father died on Boxing day 2002, and we had already planned a road trip together for New Years Eve to the mountain as I was going to teach him how to ski.  I was invited to the funeral.  And that, was the day that I fell absolutely, undeniable, irrefutably, completely and eternally in Love with him.  It had been coming on for a while, but seeing how he was with his ex-girlfriends, and his mother that day.  Well, that sealed the deal and both of our fates for eternity.

He read “The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner” for his father who had so loved the sea.

We spent our first road trip away together at The Hobbit motel in Ohakune.  We ate a nice dinner, and the next day I abandoned him completely to figure out on his own how to ski (“make wide turns!”) and headed off on my own to carve up some runs.

A few weeks later in January, he had to go off with his silly little company Serato to a trade-show in Anaheim California to demonstrate a new DJ product he’d been working on for some time.

He came home, got dropped off on my doorstep, and just never left.  He proposed in March, and we were married on January 24th 2004.

And that… is the story of how we met.

Tonight I will type out some details about how I figure it is we’ve weathered our storms and still rather like each other (most of the time) and you may or may not find it helpful.

Thank you so much for tuning in.

Looking forward to sharing more of our story with you soon.

Off to the Science and Technology Museum with our eldest son now.


My Response to a Fantastic Article on Calling Women Crazy

I haven’t read an article quite so confronting since the article that prompted me to write a blog that included a picture of myself inebriated in Fiji wearing little more than a mini-skirt and leopard print bra.  That article was about the shocking self-hatred and body image issues that have perpetuated in women for generations.  This one was about calling women crazy.

What a can of worms has been opened.

I was so upset that I actually ventured out of the house to the regular Thursday night gathering at two of our best friends’ home and I sat in the living room, and I read the article aloud to a dear friend Polina who has just returned from Russia, and I cried.  I have gone there perhaps a dozen times in over four years.

My own unique brand of genuine mental illness involves a brilliant array of symptoms, including a strange, and difficult to explain social anxiety.  Despite being a loud, gregarious, and vivacious personality, I have a hard time leaving the safety of my home to engage in social activities.  I adore entertaining at our house, and I get out of my front door to do other things no problem.  I am certainly not agoraphobic.  I very much like attending business meetings and networking and schmoozing.  I have a travel addiction that would make your head spin. Every one of my children have been on an international flight within four weeks of their birth, and I could quite happily live out of a suitcase indefinitely and be in a new city or country every few days.  I miss the comfort and safety of home and friendships back in NZ when I travel, but this is eclipsed by the non-committal and brief relationships I get to engage in as I meet new people on buses, planes, in queues and elevators etc.  While I absolutely and genuinely adore and appreciate my (our) friends, the thin skin and extreme empathy that tortures this lady means any social interaction, while exhilarating, is also extremely depleting and draining as the thoughts and feelings of the people I spend time with actually “get in” and dwell in me and I am left with an overwhelming desire to help or comfort them because, well, I probably Love them more than I do myself I suppose.  So any social interaction involving someone I care about means I give not only a long warm hug, but I give a part of myself, and also feel compelled to fill up space with noise and laughter which is at times very draining as well.

Beating people to the punchline.  A gutsy defence mechanism or just self deprecating?  Probably both…

We’re all a bit nuts. Admitting it and dealing with it is okay.

That long-winded rant may not help the case I am attempting to make in this article.

I shall leave it in though.  As it’s important that this post be somewhat visceral and inarguably real, because if you’re taking the time to read this I want you to understand just how raw the nerve that was touched actually is.


Deep-breath Dee.  You can do this.  You are the absolute queen of the over-share.

Mismanaging my own and other people’s mental illness

A defence mechanism that I’ve evolved is to very openly and publicly admit and share my struggles with genuine mental illness, as well as my many quirks and eccentricities.  I do this in the hopes that it may take away the sting of people calling me crazy.  I beat them to the punch every time by peppering conversations with mean or invalidating personal comments like: “But that’s only because I am bat-shit cray cray.” Or “It’s okay, I’m not offended, everyone knows I am proper crazy.” Or “But then again, what do I know, I’m not exactly the poster girl for mental health.”  I am going to try and curb this, and I’ll tell you why later.

Beating people to the punch.  A gutsy defence mechanism or just self deprecation?  Perhaps it is both.

Beating people to the punch. A gutsy defence mechanism or just self deprecation? Perhaps it is both.

I have to admit, I am also as guilty as most at dismissing some situations and interactions I don’t like by chucking in the “yeah, but that’s fine, because they’re just next level crazy” stamp.  You know what, sometimes people are impossible, and their own worst enemy.  I could tell you stories about bullies at work, mean girls, sexual harassment, terrible clients, and a handful of ex-boyfriends that would make your hair curl (most of whom were lovely and are now happily married to gorgeous, kind women and raising equally gorgeous kind children – but wow, I tried to save a few total jerks as well, before I met Grumpy) Even when dealing with the biggest basket of irrational or deluded you can imagine, I try desperately to be kind and appreciate their struggle. I put forth a huge effort never to marginalize them or their feelings.  If they have recognized their issues and or are trying to be a better person, they deserve a fair shake and some extra understanding as far as I am concerned.  A recent run-in with a very difficult character indeed meant that the other people involved with this person were keen to knock them down or attack the struggles that they were going through with mental illness and addiction issues.  Although completely taken aback and fed up with this person, I did not attack them personally – even in retaliation, as boy oh boy did they attack me. Because they are in the process of trying to sort themselves out, I made a conscious decision to drop it.  (My husband just reminded me that at the time I actually very much wanted to retaliate.) I won’t be inviting this person to our re-wedding, but I also wish them no ill.

Saying that, I have very little tolerance for people who use mental illness or make excuses for seriously amoral or damaging behaviour.  We are all working through stuff, and we all have to coexist, so appreciate other people’s struggles and sensitivities as much as you can and show some respect.  Just because you have been diagnosed with a social, mental or physical disorder, or are depressed, or going through a particularly tough time, does not give you the right to be a creep or a jerk.  It may mean that you have to work considerably harder at certain things and put in more effort to be gentle with those around you, but it does not give you a get-out-of-jail-free card to do despicable things.

Trying not to be a jerk is something we all have to put more effort into sometimes...

Trying not to be a jerk is something we all have to put more effort into sometimes…

Lets look at this a little deeper at this “crazy” label shall we?

How “crazy” is someone who:

–      Laughs loud and often

–      Is raising happy and healthy children

–      Enjoys a diverse range of meaningful, stable and fulfilling relationships

–      Owns and operates an increasingly strong and successful business (even after a very rocky start indeed)

–      Is happily married to a kind and brilliant man

–      Can keep several dozen projects in motion at any given time

–      Almost always has a kind word for strangers and friends

–      Openly admits to having a vast array of flaws and foibles and chooses to learn from them rather than lament them and stagnate

–      Have absolutely extraordinary bursts of productivity and achievement

–      Frequently faces fears head on

–      Rarely shies away from adventure or misses opportunities

–      Doesn’t just like, but LOVES the absolute crap out of things



No apologies please :-)

No apologies please 🙂

Yes, there are times when I completely lose the plot.  This can be tied to hormones, events, or stress.  It is true that there have been times I need to be swept up off the floor and given some serious recovery time before being able to get “back in the ring” and fight the next round in life.

However, I genuinely believe that I get better, and stronger, and smarter every year.  I am becoming the kind of person I would be absolutely honored to know and spend time with.  I achieve this with the help of some seriously amazing, deliciously diverse, painstakingly patient, and brutally honest friends and family.

So here’s what I think we should all aim to do when dealing with our own or other’s genuine mental illness:

1) Admit and acknowledge that we’re all broken.

We’re all dealing with stuff.  We all lose our shit from time to time and we all hit walls that we can’t easily get around.  Admit it, and do not use it as a weapon or a tool to nominalize people or their emotions.

2) Use humor- but be kind

It is a fine line between accepting and making light of a serious issue like mental health, but I think it is important that we try and find that fine balance.


It is a fine line sometimes between making someone feel like you are laughing with them, or at them. With them GOOD. At them… not.

The one person who is both the most supportive and at times the biggest jerk is my beloved husband.  He can say and do some remarkably hurtful and unnecessary things – and is notoriously bad at not being able to pick up cues short of being screamed at to shut it when he has crossed a line.  He drops a great deal of “BBC – Bitches Be Crazy!” and “Whoa baby, you’ve had an extra steaming hot cup of crazy today haven’t you?” Sometimes, I can absolutely handle this and find it quite freeing to share a laugh with him about this stuff, other times it is just the trigger to send me into quite a tailspin.

So this suggestion is a difficult one, as it can backfire terribly.

I do feel, that discussing difficult things in a lighter manner and couched in humor can take a lot of the sting away and make it easier to deal with.

3) NEVER stoop to gaslighting or emotional manipulation

Movie poster that coined the term gas lighting

Movie poster that coined the term gas lighting

If, when dealing with a person or situation that makes you uncomfortable or the outcome looks as though it may not swing you your favour, you hear/catch yourself pointing out a person’s mental illness, or insinuating that they are somehow broken or crazy, you are probably gaslighting.

Work very hard not to.

Sometimes the mentally ill can be irrational, difficult, even delusional or hysterical.  Sometimes you are just being an asshole.  Work really hard to be honest with yourself and them about which one is happening when you’re dealing with people please.

4) Know the difference between enabling and supporting people with mental illness

Back to the honesty thing.  Sometimes you’ll have to have some hard talks with your mentally ill friends and loved ones.  About their behavior, about your concern for them.

The razor thin line my nearest and dearest tread with me when I am having an episode is the line between confronting an issue or incident of concern in a way that makes me prepared to face it and learn from it, or simply lose my shit completely.

A less than useful (although, inarguably sometimes VERY useful) coping mechanism I employ in life is abruptly and completely ending relationships.

I cut people off completely and indefinitely and never EVER look back.  This won’t happen with the inner-most sanctum (husband, nuclear family, oldest and dearest friends) but it is a thing that I do that weighs heavily on people who Love me or so I have been told.

However, this is not an excuse to pussy foot around issues, and allowing me to get my way for fear I may toss my toys out of the cot and cut you off is not a valid excuse to let me be an asshole.

I think the same logic can be employed with anyone you deal with, diagnosed mental illness or not.

Be frank but fair, and know who they are and act with respect, Love and concern, and if the relationship is strong enough to weather the storms it will be rich and rewarding indeed.

5) Try not to trivialise or play the victim when dealing with mental health issues

Underplaying serious concerns or ignoring things because they are tough or uncomfortable is not going to help you or your loved ones.

Know when you are out of your depth, and seek intervention and support when you are.  This is relevant for those personally dealing with concerns, as well as their support networks.

6) Be gentle, but honest

Use kind words. Avoid blame. Don’t generalize.  Know the difference between the illness and the person.  Don’t bring up the past as a weapon.

Hang on, but also know when to walk away.

It is a delicate and difficult dance indeed.  And I look forward to hearing more about other people’s journey’s dealing with this stuff personally or supporting loved ones through them.

7) Know when to ask for help or intervention 

When a problem is getting to the point it consumes you, and you no longer feel control of it.  Get. Some. Help.

8) Be calm

My husband insisted I put this in.  And he is absolutely calm – to the point it drives me around the bend.  Sometimes I crave a reaction from him, but he’s gotten so good at weathering my storms and riding my rollercoaster.  Literally anything I have thrown at him so far in our lives together has hardly ruffled a feather.

Don’t think for a moment I married a saint.  He has faults a plenty, but when it comes to dealing with his wife, and the many other diagnosed mentally ill humans in our life,  he is always a beacon of strength and calm.

9) Stick to the facts

Self explanatory.  Don’t make things up, don’t embellish, don’t gaslight, don’t be a jerk basically.

10) Avoid attack and defence

As in any human interaction or any communication punctuated sequence of events, there is a risk of a small thing escalating to a very big thing.  Defensiveness and offensiveness is a sure fire way to turn a potentially useful and valuable event or interaction into a total clusterfuck where nobody wins and nothing is achieved.

11) Don’t try to “fix” people

Know who you are dealing with, and know the difference between them and their disease.

You can’t change people.  They have to do that for themselves.

Know when to walk away, and know when to stick around, but don’t ever wait for someone to become something you want them to be.

You will only be empty and disappointed.

Celebrate the great things, acknowledge and face those things you do not like, but don’t every expect someone to become the kind of person you want them to be.  They are who they are, and if that isn’t enough for you to stick around, then walk away.

12) Know the difference between the disease and the person, and remind yourself of this when things get tough

Again, self explanatory.


What a marathon.


This is just my own personal observations and meanderings.  I am not a qualified mental health professional, or a relationship expert.  I am just someone who is fascinated by human relationships and communication, and these are just words on a screen that I am sharing with you based on my own extensive experiences with successful and unsuccessful relationships.

I am absolutely a self proclaimed feminist, and therefore, stooping to “bitches be crazy” or peppering your brain, your language or your behaviour with offensive and inaccurate shit or eluding to all women being crazy is so counter productive on so many levels and you (and I) need to try and sort that shit out.

Watch how you talk.  It affects how you think.  And that affects how you behave.  And that affects who you are.

Hope it was worth the read.

Please feel free to get in touch and comment.


Cold Feet, Cold Turkey and Cold-Cut Cravings

Here’s what’s going to be covered today:

1)  The inner workings of a rare but resolute Hobbit fight (not argument, we have those ALL THE TIME, this one is a proper fight)

2)  Cold feet leading up to an event that has been in planning for ten years and why

3)  Completely cutting out sugar and social media from my life until I am feeling human again (blogging does not count mmmkay)

4)  Cravings for things I can’t currently have – cold cuts

In the space of a little less than 72 hours – as a couple, Grumpy and I have gone from this:


To sleeping in separate houses.

No need to be alarmed (if you were which I doubt). This happens at least once a year.  While timing isn’t particularly ideal, it’s quite understandable considering the levels of stress currently parked on our doorstep.  I’m managing a nice menu of pregnancy complications.  Grumpy is dealing with plenty at work and preparing for the big annual tradeshow.  The list of crap we’re dealing with is long and extensive, but I’ll spare you further details.  Everyone everywhere has their row to hoe, and oh so many of the things on our plate can fall squarely into the “first world problems” basket.

There is less than a month until a large gathering that has been planned for about a decade.  Grumpy’s cavalier attitude to the entire thing has left me absolutely confounded, frustrated and fed up, so I’ve thrown my hands in the air and said a loud and heartfelt:  “Fuck this, I’m out” which has been heard by the small but mighty army who have taken time out of their busy lives to finish things up – or not, I actually have no idea. I just know that as a measure of self-preservation I’ve lost absolutely all interest.  If I have no idea and no expectations, I can’t possibly be frustrated or disappointed right?  Currently find the whole idea garish and feel like I am just making a spectacle of my life, which was not the original intent at all.

On our first wedding night, plans started to be hatched for a do-over in a decade because getting married part seemed considerably easier than staying married as going to be.  With each year that passed, and the storms that we weathered, the memories that we made, it seemed more and more natural to go ahead with these plans, perhaps even start a trend where celebrating staying together rather than just embarking on the journey became the goal.

We’ll see.  This could just be a Hobbity version of cold feet.  But right now, I just want to run away and forget about it all completely.  The only reason I’m not doing that at present is the fantastic amount of effort that has been put in by the bridesmaids and a few other dedicated friends and even a work colleague of Grumpy has gotten in on the act and rolled up his sleeves to help out.

I am very hopeful that in a few weeks I will be irrefutably reminded of the vast ocean of Love I feel for the man I married, and by the time the day rolls around everything will fall nicely into place and each of our beloved guests will be given some properly motivating fuel to Love and be Loved.  We kind of saw it as a celebration of the importance of human relationships.  Love is absolutely the strongest and most important force on this planet as far as I am concerned, and dedicating a day to the observation of this fact seemed like a great idea.

I’ll take you back a few steps and explain why we are fighting in enough detail to cover the basics, and enough vagueness that unless you are already intimately involved with us and our dealings you’ll have no idea what I am actually talking about.

Cue Wayne’s World flashback gif here:


We had a brilliant but busy Sunday.  It consisted of varied portions of stimulating, satisfying, upsetting, confounding and invigorating.  The day began early, as it involved a notable level of running around to gather supplies and get things done.  Then it wrapped up with a lovely last minute dinner gathering involving a handful of wonderful friends, hairspray, an acoustic guitar, some super sweet singing, excited chatter, baby cuddles, cake and to top it all off, a low grade but undeniably upsetting row with Grumpy which has since spiraled rather out of control.

While all the beautiful noise and chaos abounded and laughter bounced off the ceiling and walls of our home, an angry little beast inside me has been growling and being fed on frustration, stress, tension and an overwhelming feeling of futility.

Of the dozens of balls in the air, there is one particularly large and frustrating mess that I have now completely absolving myself of, and has lodged a fairly solid wedge between my husband and I.

Many of the things I Love, admire and respect about him can be a terrible double-edged sword.  Throughout our life together he’s had a habit of making very big decisions that affect me directly (and sometimes adversely) without consultation, or, in this case, in direct opposition to my wishes, concerns or advice.

The kicker is; he was trying to do the right thing.  He’s always trying to do the right thing.  We both are.  It is a big part of the reason why it appears we make such a good team. He is not rash or stupid.  And I have no doubt that there’s logic to the life altering decisions he makes.

This particular bump in the road would absolutely be enough to end a weaker marriage.  It pours more filth and debris onto wounds that have been open and festering for years.

Every marriage has this stuff to deal with though.  And I am pretty sure if ours hasn’t snapped yet, after being pushed to the absolute brink several years ago, we should be fine.  But nobody knows what tomorrow will bring right.  This, and the several other omnipresent issues that come and go from the foreground, probably won’t end our union.

Once I’ve stopped mourning the loss of the time, resources and energy all of this (and the many other failed noble efforts) has cost, perspective will return and things will be okay again.  Maybe better than okay because wading through the muck of life and relationships to get to dry ground actually seems to be how you not only survive but thrive as an individual and as a couple.  Only problem of course, is that there will always be more muck on the road to conquer if you keep putting one proverbial foot in front of the other.


And there is a lesson in absolutely everything.  We do seem to continually be handed the lesson that people can’t often be trusted, and responding to requests for help leaves you quite vulnerable. It can all be exceedingly jarring.  This also serves as a reminder that when we give, it ought to be with both hands, and never to extend more than you have.  Sigh.  It’s all relative I suppose.  I am, however, more than relatively tired of being shit on.


So that brings me to the next bit on today’s agenda:


I’ve gone cold turkey on sugar and social media.  The sugar is pretty cut and dry, as I am waiting on the results to confirm the suspicion that I have contracted Gestational Diabetes.  The social media is a bit more complex.

I made the mistake of freezing my FB account because that’s the most time consuming, but then I found it is just as effective to use:

http://www.getcoldturkey.com for PC


http://www.selfcontrolapp.com for Mac

I’m documenting my experience and will report back on the business Blog later.

I want/need to take some time off because:

1)  I’ve got a mountain of tasks and require as little distraction as possible to get stuck in and through them

2)  I’m documenting the sabbatical to report back on my hypothesis that the world does indeed keep turning even if I don’t check in on social media to see if it is.  Sadly, have already had my first major bump in the road here, as I had to switch FB back on because of the groups I administrate requiring action… darn it!

3)  Wanted some downtime

4)  Just need to see if I can.

So here I am.  Day three.  I had a small chocolate bar from the kids candy stash last night and had a sneaky peak into what’s being posted on Instagram, but other than that, things are going swimmingly!

Just about to post this puppy and then get stuck into some strategy and template action for the 2014 business plan.

I am left with one little conundrum/concern however.

How on earth am I going to share this blog without tweeting or sharing it on FB?  I guess that’ll fall down to the fates and hopefully my stunningly ambitious business partner.  She’s been hitting the pavement hard for the past three days and holding down the social media fort beautifully while I run this rather indulgent social experiment of mine.  I’m blessed to have her.

So today I am going to leave you with the last thing on my list of topics.  The slightly cryptic, yet undeniably profound analogy of cold-cuts.  I have been desperate for cold cuts for months now.  I nearly wept watching the children devour some delicious looking pistachio mortadella on our annual cruise a couple of weeks ago.  Part of it is physiological, as in my current state I need protein, as does the person I am growing.  The other part of it is that I cannot have them, so I obsess.

The beauty of this is, when I am able to again enjoy cold-cuts at my whim, the reality of salty, fatty, unhealthy, jellied meat and meat bi-product will not hold even the slightest candle to the idea of how awesome they were when I was denied them.

Sashimi on the other hand, that is some AMAZING stuff right there.  It is low in fat, high in wonderful magical food oils that make you smart and strong, I can share a plate of sashimi with my husband (he doesn’t eat cold-cuts as he’s a lacto-ovo-pescatarian) and the kids like it too.  I am going on a proper rampage of raw and undercooked meats, poultry and seafood as soon as James arrives.


I guess a part of life is being able to decipher what cravings we have are cold-cuts, and what are sashimi.

Did that make sense?

It does to me.

Over and out.

Thanks for reading!


Some More Insight into Hobbit Existence: Snogging, Sandwiches, Songs, Snuggles, and Sincerity

After nearly ten years of marriage, Grumpy and I still snog passionately several times a day.  This only occurs under “normal” circumstances, like so long as we’re not fighting or I’m not going through some sort of deep dark Dee-pressive episode, you understand.

Our shadows at sunset in Black Bay near my grandfather's house in Quebec

Our shadows at sunset in Black Bay near my grandfather’s house in Quebec

Last night after being released from a particularly passionate embrace, our daughter looked up at us and said:  “You guys sure do kiss an awful lot.”  It was an observation, not a complaint.

“Do you think we kiss and cuddle more than normal mummies and daddies?” I asked our only daughter.

“Well DUH!” She responded rolling her big green eyes.

“Does it bother you?” I asked.

“Nope.” Was the welcome response.

“So why do you think it is that we are such exceptionally affectionate Hobbits after all this time Steph?” I inquired.

“Well.” She said, with a nonchalant and thoughtful sigh. “I am pretty sure it has a lot to do with the fact you have the biggest boobs, and daddy is DEFINITELY a boob man.”  She responded in an exceptionally deadpan and matter-of fact tone.


Grumpy and I at the fountain outside the Kennedy Centre in Manhattan

Okay then.  Grumpy is a boob man and the children have cottoned on to this.  Duly noted.

We are generally a very affectionate bunch.  Our children get a Jack of kisses on the head (that’s five kisses, one for each year of their cousin Jack’s life) every single day, several times a day and are quick to remind us in the morning if we’ve forgotten.

We also have a hugging ritual called a sandwich – where one member of the family is squeezed between at least two of the others.  Sandwiches occur most frequently when we’re waiting in queues, someone has had a bad day, or rather aptly – in the kitchen.  Kitchens are a place for sandwiches it seems.


Morning snuggles and an Adam and Stephanie sandwich on Father’s Day morning

Something else that is undeniably important in our household and family dynamic is music.  Music is directly responsible for the life that we enjoy. A little over 15 years ago, Grumpy created an algorithm and then invented some software that helps people around the world to engineer music for their own and others enjoyment.  That first invention gave way to the resources needed for more inventions, and there is now a team of amazing geniuses making features and inventing gadgets that are used the world over by DJs and post production studio engineers.  So we owe a lot to music.  And it is not just respect and gratitude, we Love music as it is a universal language, a window to so much feeling and emotion and it fills our home and our hearts.

Steve meeting one of the control vinyl collectors group - We adore these guys.

Steve meeting one of the control vinyl collectors group – We adore these guys.

So our children make music.  Oh my WORD do these children make some noise.  They dance, they shout, they sing and they let it all out.  Daniel plays the drums, Steph is frighteningly proficient in piano, and our youngest little firecracker Adam knows the lyrics to dozens – if not hundreds of songs and busts them out regularly while shaking his unreasonably adorable three-year-old rump.  We also have a story and a song most nights, and have read and sung together as a family at bedtime since only a few days after our first son was born.  It’s nice.

We’re also a family of snugglers.  The children crash down the stairs from their rooms every morning for a ritual of warm mum and dad snuggles.  Not sure if any of the other parents out there have noticed this, but in our family, the boys are by far the more snuggly of the children.  Steph adores her hugs of course, but the boys, they crave the safety and warmth of snuggles (particularly their mother’s) when they are feeling anxious or low, and are quite happy to wrap themselves in my arms for ages.  Sometimes they even stay wrapped up in my arms till they fall asleep if they’ve had a particularly bad day or are feeling particularly anxious or out of sorts.  I dread the day that this ends, as I think it makes me feel even safer than it does them.

Cuddly Kids

Cuddly Kids

And the last thing I am going to touch on is undeniably the most important.  Ours is a family where sincerity is paramount in all that we do and are.  In our home, you will always get in less trouble for telling the truth, even if the truth is not particularly pleasant.

We do not sugar coat, we do not use lofty euphemisms to soften blows or obscure things that make us uncomfortable.  We try not to be too obtuse or callous when talking about difficult matters either.  But sincerity in word and deed is something that we try and instill in our children daily.

The children have, and will continue, to run into the same problems as us because of this vast respect for honesty, integrity and sincerity.  They tend to believe that other people mean what they say.  We encourage them to give people the benefit of the doubt, and they always do.  Because of this, our children will fall prey to the bollocks of bullshit artists, just as their parents so frequently do.  On balance, I think it works out in the end. The force our family refers to as Karma seems to take care of the fallout for the most part.



I’m not saying they are perfect or above reproach, and all of them lie or act immorally or just badly from time to time.  On balance though, they seem to have an inner voice and moral compass that I can’t take too much credit for.  They prefer to be honest and sincere and question things and seek truth and explanation every moment of their lives.  They crave knowledge and take responsibility for mistakes and apologise and learn with earnest when they mess up.

We like them.  We Love them.  We feel amazingly blessed to be joining them on their journey through childhood and beyond.


Dee’s Hobbits


Touring Tasmania – Part Two PORT ARTHUR

I have a collection of lists of things I either want to do, or feel unimaginably compelled to do with the time and resources I have available (not literally, you understand, I am NOT the kind of person who actually writes lists).  This does not include the social causes and environmental initiatives we are passionate about, just collection of places and things I want to go and do for a whole bunch of different reasons.

There’s the bucket list of course.  These are things I’d like to see or experience before I shed the mortal coil.  There’s a long list of movies I’d like to watch, and books I’d like to read.  There’s a list of concerts and events I’d like to attend, foods I’d like to try – you know, the usual stuff.

One of the more important lists is aligned with my insatiable fascination with the human condition.  There is a long and ever growing list of the sites of human atrocities I feel overwhelmingly compelled to see.

When I go to these places I feel something that I can’t accurately describe.  Grief, anger, confusion, nausea, urgency, and some strange quantum bend where, when I close my eyes and am very still, I can sort of taste the fear, urgency, and confusion that lingers in these places.  It is almost like some palpable force I can only describe as evil attaches itself to these places.  But this feeling is always, I mean ALWAYS overshadowed by something else quite liberating and powerful indeed.


These places also seem to carry an echo of hope, courage, expectation, self-sacrifice, human-kindness, and an indescribably intense peace.  The stories come out of strangers risking their lives for other human beings, parents saving the lives of their children, Lovers clinging to each other in a final embrace.  There are stories of heroic first response teams saving lives without a great concern for their own safety, brave and effective interventions or emancipations, and selfless and heroic acts by entirely average people thrust into these extraordinary events. Believing, as I do in an afterlife and a never-ending cycle of infiniteness and energy that we have our part to fulfill, I genuinely believe that the victims at places like these are freed to soar and find eternal peace and comfort that surpasses all human understanding.

The original cross containing the names of the 35 victims of the Port Arthur Massacre - April 28th 1996

The original cross containing the names of the 35 victims of the Port Arthur Massacre – April 28th 1996

So this is what brought me to Tasmania, nearly 18 years after the largest mass murder carried out by a single individual in Australian history.

The first time I saw the news report for the day remain a flashbulb memory.  Same as I will always remember where I was and what I was doing when I saw the plane crash into the Twin Towers or a handful of other incidents.

A massacre was unfolding in a picturesque historic site on the southern-most tip of Tasmania that I had never heard of called Port Arthur.

According to an extensive report released on November 19th 1996, the 28-year-old unemployed malevolent sub-human containment unit of evil set his alarm for 6:00am.  He said goodbye to his girlfriend, and left the house that was left to him by some rich benefactor, whose generous gift also allowed him to buy an extensive cash of high-powered weapons.

At some point he began systematically mowing down people who he’d actually engaged in broken and sporadic conversations at picnic tables that same day.

The location of the highest number of fatalities was the Broad Arrow Café.  In 15 seconds there were 12 people killed and 10 seriously wounded.dfsaq

The siege in the café began when the monster “…finished his meal, walked into the cafe and returned his tray, assisted by some people who opened the door for him. He put down his bag on a table and pulled out a Colt AR-15 SP1 Carbine with a Colt scope and one 30-round magazine attached.”

He carried on throughout the historic complex.  Back toward the entrance, right next to a ticket booth, a mother, who was around my age; Nanette Mikac, was running away from the scene of the chaos as fast as she could with her two little girls.  A car slowed down, she assumed, to help her.  That car did not contain help, but the evil executioner.  He walked toward her, had her kneel and she begged for mercy for her 3 and 6 year old daughters Alannah and Madeline.  He shot her point blank and then killed her babies while other people looked on in absolute horror.

On the original cross there is a bronze plaque containing the names of all the victims.  I ran my fingers across the three names which were warn shiny from countless others doing the same thing.  I thought about my own children, and all that lay ahead of them – and how all that hope and promise was taken away in a senseless violent act.

The siege went on for two days and ended when he came out of a house in the tiny beachside settlement of Seaspray, just up the road from Port Arthur.  He had just murdered the two elderly residents and set the house on fire.  He was himself on fire when he emerged from the home and was then taken into custody.

Since that day in 1996 – sweeping reforms have been made to Australian gun control legislation.  There has not been a single mass murder in this nation since.

Australians remain huge gun enthusiasts.  In 2007 more than 5% of the population had registered LEGAL firearms.  That is three quarters of a million people.

I don’t need to go into any sort of detail about the situation in the USA.  It is appalling.  It has gotten to the point that even I, as a paper thin-skinned social activist and aspiring humanitarian hardly blink when I see the news reports regarding another shooting in America. I wince and shut my eyes as a wave of nausea comes over me when I hear of another (usually Black of Hispanic) young person has been shot by some emotionally unstable cowboy wielding a high powered weapon.  I shake my head and say a silent prayer when I hear about the most recent mass shooting.  These events frequently occur at schools and community colleges.

Here’s the thing.

If you like guns, and want to use them for whatever reason and can be reasonably be trusted not to go on a senseless shooting spree, I think you should totally be able to engage whole heartedly in your passion for firearms.

The entire world simply needs legislation that will mean that simple and effective measures and procedures are in place so that these weapons do not land in the hands of evil crazy people.  Don’t sell guns to people who have a serious propensity to violence or severe mental illness that may very well go on a killing spree.

The evidence is there that well managed gun control works, and enthusiasts in places with these controls don’t often begrudge this.  Canada and Australia have miniscule gun violence statistics compared to say, the USA or the Philippines, who have similar constitutional legislation on gun ownership and little to no control on the sale and distribution of weapons.

We cannot forget the atrocities of mass shootings the world over.  And the truth is we hardly hear about most of them as they are only interesting to us if the news values of the incidents are high in proximity, significance, and relatibility.  When a village full of people in the Middle East, South East Asia, or Africa gets wiped out of existence by guerilla forces, evil and corrupt dictatorships, or even “friendly fire” we rarely hear about it.  That’s all a much bigger conversation for another day though.

We’re doing a great job as a planet at fighting extreme poverty.  We’ve all but wiped out the incidence of mortality due to preventable diseases.  Can’t we do something about people killing each other?  There seems to be a fairly clear and effective strategy in effecting positive change in this area.

In conclusion, you may or may not have noticed I did not use the name of the perpetrator once in this piece.  It is my firm personal belief that these people deserve no notoriety.  I have gone to great lengths NOT to write his name.  Judgment will come to them.  In the meantime, they do not deserve a name that takes up any space in my, or anyone else’s brain.

Touring Tasmania – Part One

Clocks had gone back two consecutive nights now, so in a round-about way we’ve had two consecutive sleep ins.  It doesn’t feel that way though.  Captain Batboy (our 3 ½ year old) wakes up full of vim and vigour at too early o’clock regardless of what the clocks say.  Meanwhile, Grumpy fancies himself quite the gambler and is out until two or three in the morning playing poker if the table is open.

So on the morning of New Years Eve 2013, we rolled out of bed and rushed to breakfast, as usual, just before it shut at 9:30.

The children were in a particularly talkative mood this morning, and solicited eye rolls, loud tongue clicks, and then a round of “Thank GOD they are leaving!” from a table of particularly prickly old battle axes that were perched next to us that morning.  Is it wrong that I find miserable people like this particularly amusing?  Hate it up ladies – these three noisemakers bring us laughter and joy till our sides hurt and our cheeks ache.  They have more Love, grace, generosity, and hope, in the tiniest corner of their Hobbit hearts than you appear have in all of your shriveled and twisted beings.  The life we lead and the adventures we go on together mean I have peace like a river in my soul as I go through life, and you’re just a shriveled up nasty old prune.  The vast majority of people have been absolutely amazing and friendly and complimentary of course, but you are always going to come into contact with jerks.  It is just a statistical inevitability.  As long as they exist, and so do you, chances are you’ll run into them at some point.

Where was I?

Oh yes.

Heading out exploring in Tasmania.

I had fully expected to be on my own traveling to the farthest Southern Tip of Tasmania this day.  Yet, my undeniable mini-me Stephanie-Jane insisted on spending the day with me, even though the chances were the boys were going to be having a much better time at a zoo or something.

So off we rushed to pack a bag and grab a credit card.  Steph “helped” me with my make-up as she always does by blowing away the extra sparkles from my eyelids and choosing the very brightest red lipstick I had “because it makes you look like my older sister or auntie or something mummy”.  And within 15 minutes we were headed down to the gangway to disembark on our day.

Here’s a quick series of pics from that day to illustrate my daughter’s cosmetics skills and our staggering similarities, for those of you not already familiar with one or both of these things:





We wandered up to the taxi rank, populated by only two or three mid-size sedan taxis with blue writing.  I put on my biggest bright red smile and extended a hobbit hand for shaking to the grey haired bloke that made his way from the drivers seat to greet me as we walked up.

“How much to get to Port Arthur?”  I asked.

“Strewth.” Exclaimed the man.  I am not embellishing, they actually, fair dinkum say that here in OZ. “That’ll be a fair whack – like about $360.00 or so.”

“Okey Dokey.” I chirped.  “Jump in baby Jane.” And then I opened the door for my bubbly blonde clone and turned back to the cabbie. “You’ll have to bring me to an ATM if you’d prefer cash, as I don’t have any Ozzie dollars at the moment.”

“No worries Love, cash or card are just fine.”  Said the somewhat surprised but seemingly buoyed spirited fellow.

I was happy with the price, as it saved me the nightmare of being on a crowded bus tour.  With the two of us, it was also cheaper than taking the ship’s tour would have been.  Win-win.  I like it when that happens.

We made our way out of Hobart and Steph and I were our usual chatty selves, telling the man about who we are, our many travels, the baby in my tummy, her two brothers, her wonderful daddy and my wonderful husband and his amazing inventions that make our travel and adventures possible.  The man, who’s name was Viv, was far less chatty than us of course.  He had lived in Tasmania his whole life though, so was a font of knowledge and an amazing tour guide.

We found out fairly early on in the adventure that Viv had three grand-daughters and two more grandchildren on the way at the end of January.  We also found out that he had lost one of his three son’s to Cystic Fibrosis in 1994.  One of the brothers had never been to the grave-site and chose to remember his beloved younger sibling the way he was, while the other brother joined his mother and father in visiting the site at the crematorium every birthday and Christmas.  After 20 years he misses his son terribly, but feels blessed to have had 12 wonderful years with him when the doctors had told them when he was diagnosed at 6 months old that the prognosis was he’d be lucky to see his 6th birthday.

One of the strongest, coolest and kindest women I know is the president of the CF foundation in NZ and hearing this story reminding me of how very much I respect and admire her and her beautiful, tough, and consistently over-achieving eldest daughter who lives with CF.

Viv became a cab driver in his mid 60’s after leaving a long career as a fire door engineer.  He likes the hours, the flexibility, the freedom and the fact as soon as he turns the key and walks through his door, he has left his day behind and can focus completely on his life.

As we drove, he pointed out the vast charred areas that had been swallowed up by the infamous Tasmanian bushfires 11 months earlier.  Started by a smouldering stump a farmer lady had tried to burn out, which caught the wind and started one of the most destructive fires in Tasmania’s history.  This bushfire destroyed over 130 properties and claimed the life of one firefighter (who had a heart attack while fighting the blazes).

“I am not sure a person’s mind would ever recover from something like that… the poor woman.” I said to Viv.

“No, I don’t suppose it ever would.  Terrible really.” Agreed our gentle Tasmanian tour guide.

He asked if we liked berries – and my daughter’s eyes got as wide as saucers.  So Viv stopped at a local stall and bought us fresh raspberries and cherries that were consumed with great satisfaction.


Our first stop was a lookout called Pirates Bay.


We then wended our way down the hill and stopped to see the Bronze Dog.  There were angry dogs placed at regular intervals along the road to discourage convicts from escaping or something like that.  Didn’t seem like a very nice existence for a dog.  Nor a convict – but that part of the story comes later.


I’ll leave it there for now as I am erring dangerously close to the 1200 word limit I have set myself to hopefully avoid boring my beloved readers to tears.

I’m nearly through editing the second installment as I publish this one, so I’d be honored if you’d tune back in soon.

Thank you again for sharing some snippets of our Hobbity lives, and I wish you well wherever you are and whatever you are doing.