Raising Cross Cultural Kids

Our children are all exceptionally lucky.  They have been exposed in massive doses to their cultural heritages, here in New Zealand, in my native land Canada, and across the planet.


Daniel in the Rockies

They have trudged through the Grampians, visited the lochs, and picnicked along the river Dee in Scotland, all the while being told tales of their Lamb clan heritage.  They’ve visited their frail old aunt on the banks of the Nieuwe Maas in Rotterdam and been told stories of their grandfather’s childhood on a houseboat there.  Two of the three have been taken by train to Bavaria and Austria and served spaetzel by gorgeous women with high cheekbones, wearing lederhosen.  They’ve driven the Irish countryside and watched their mother kiss the blarney stone (not that I needed the gift of the gab, heaven knows I already had it).  They’ve seen native American Indian art and culture from the West Coast to the East of Canada and the USA, and told in vague terms that there are drops of that sacred indigenous blood in their veins, but the stories are not clear and we’re still trying to piece together which ancestral tribe(s) we may share DNA with.


Here’s our third child dressed as a bumble bee in a bar in Bavaria.

At times, this all falls on seemingly deaf ears and disinterested little eyes that hark back to their electronic devices and whine excessively about “not being like the other kids” and “having to travel all the time” and “spending so much time in airports and hotels.”


This is Steph when she was about three in Holland.


Daniel in Rotterdam… Thrilled as he frequently is. Such an emo sometimes. He’s been that way since birth. Love him just the way he is!


There are other times when they are genuinely interested in their heritage, stories of where they came from, and knowing about their family history.

Despite our best efforts to keep them connected with their vast and varied family roots, the two most recent pieces of their cultural substance stand out heads and shoulders above all their diverse ancestry.  Our children very much identify as Canadian and Kiwi.


Here are three little hobbit children playing in the snow in Gatineau (Quebec Canada)

Perhaps this is owing to the example we set, openly and frequently appreciating the fact we belong to this quiet, peaceful, and remote little nation nestled somewhere in the South Pacific.  They have been privy to an absolutely idyllic childhood here.  They ride their bikes in the lush green park across from their grandparents’ house.  They pick seasonal fruit from the trees in the yard.  They celebrate the seasons and snuggle in with blankets and hot porridge in the brief winter months of June, July and August, and climb trees and scrape knees throughout the rest of the year.


Here are the children eating an ice cream on our deck overlooking the harbour.

Pleasingly proud of being “half Canadian, and half Kiwi – but you can call me a Caniwi” they have spent at least some part of every season in Canada, while predominantly residing since their births in Auckland New Zealand.

What got me thinking about all of this was an off-hand comment by a good friend who piped up with: “Oh, NOW you are a Canadian” when I congratulated the hockey teams (men and women it turns out) for winning gold at the recent Olympics.  A light-hearts jab at the fact I will tell anyone who will listen just how amazing NZ is and how blessed we are to live there, yet when my native land does something noteworthy I am quick to proclaim my Canadianism.  Well, sure.  Why not right!  My home and Native Land of Canada punches well above its weight at the winter Olympics, while my home of choice does the same at the summer games.  Ironically though, I don’t actually watch any of it.  Sport is not something that interests my family, but a bit of national pride and celebrating internationally noteworthy achievements like these, well, I’ll happily join in on that.


The similarities between the two cultures that the children hail from are staggering.

Canada and New Zealand have larger, louder neighbours that they constantly get compared to and pitted against.  Not to state to obvious, but Canada shares the largest uncontrolled border on earth with the USA, while Australia is New Zealand’s largest and closest neighbour, with a mere 2153.61km separating the largest cities of Australia and New Zealand (Sydney and Auckland).

Canada has many of our talented sons and daughters swallowed up by our economically and politically larger neighbour to the South, and many, if not most of our talent in business, entertainment, R&D and beyond jump the ditch or end up further afield as well.  They often come back though.  There’s something about this country that grabs hold of most people who are exposed to it and never, ever lets go.  I am confident that our kids are going to have the option of chasing their dreams just about anywhere on earth those dreams may lead them.  At this point, at least one of them is just biding their time until they are old enough to settle in Canada for an extended period, and that’s just fine as far as we are concerned.


Adam with the sand of Black Bay between his toes

Our children have spent parts of their childhood, the same as I did, at my Grandfather’s cottage in Luskville Quebec.  They have felt the same sand between their toes in Black bay as I was when I was a child, and they sample the same vast array of summer fruits and vegetables from his extensive gardens as I did when I was a child.  And while they are there, they immerse themselves in their Canadian family and culture.  It is a part of them, and they are a part of it.

And then they return home to New Zealand.  To a culture of tall poppies, rugby fans, bare feet, great things to eat, and plenty of peace and quiet in which our family can retreat.

Our eldest son is fully intending on settling in Canada for an extended period when he is old enough to venture out on his own.  Our daughter currently has plans of buying a caravan and filling it with food, medical and school supplies and helping people who need these things anywhere and everywhere that need may be.  The third child just bides his time and adventures through life on his balance bike waiting for our next adventure, and the fourth and final son will slot into our story once he arrives.

Many of their friends have a similar story, and live with one foot in New Zealand and another in some distant land like the UK, South Africa, Holland, Italy, China etc.  Their families are cross cultural and even the ones who do not venture back overseas regularly observe customs and traditions from their non-kiwi heritage, all the while embracing the culture and lifestyle here as well.

The most important thing I hope the kids glean from our extensive investment and efforts lugging them across the planet as we do is that they are miracles.  Miracles of the fates of generations before them, and the Love between their parentage for the hundreds of years we have been able to trace back to.  And that they are citizens of the planet, and parts of them come from many corners of the world, and therefore, it is absolutely imperative that they show Love and respect to the all the other citizens of this planet as well.  Because every person they meet is also as miraculous as them.  When we spin it to them like this, I like to believe that they genuinely comprehend the importance of respect and tolerance.


I also truly believe that the two countries that they connect most readily with are places where diversity and tolerance feature heavily as a foundation in our political and social systems, as well as our communities for the most part.  And our family works hard, both within our own walls, and in the way in which we conduct ourselves in society and the community at large, to encourage this tolerance and diversity. New Zealand is a country where ANYONE can marry, where we have (or had at one time) some of the best personal privacy and protection legislation on earth.  Both Canada and New Zealand welcome many political and social refugees, and enjoy a diverse range of cultures and religions who I believe genuinely try to co-exist and learn from one another.  Two genuinely fantastic countries and cultures if I do say so myself.



Peaceful demonstrations for marriage equality bill (which is now law!) Makes me awfully proud!!!!


So that’s a little window into what we figure it is like trying to juggle a Caniwi family with a rich and varied mix of heritages.  And not a day goes by that I don’t feel grateful for the opportunity to share these two amazing countries and cultures with them as we carve out a future together.  I hope that the foundation of knowing where they came from, helps all of our children move confidently, filled with Love, tolerance and kindness to wherever their paths may take them.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Thanks for reading.


Trolls, Roles, Unattainable Pursuit of Perfection, and Dawson’s Death

All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players:

They have their exits and their entrances;

And one man in his time plays many parts,

                  As You Like ItWilliam Shakespeare

Charlotte Who?

Yesterday, a well-known New Zealand tabloid regular Charlotte Dawson was found dead in her lavish Sydney apartment in Woolloomooloo.


If I am not mistaken, this is an image captured from her taping a morning show at channel 9 in Sydney just hours before she died.  So. Yeah.  Don’t judge a book by its cover… 

Reports say she was confirmed dead at 11:18am Sydney time.  Facebook was awash with the news by 4:00pm in New Zealand.  That would have been about an hour after the news officially broke.

I am not going to pretend to have been a great fan as until researching her this morning, the only things I found endearing about her was her active anti-bullying campaigning, and, to a lesser degree, her public battle with depression.  Both of these things I could relate to, and felt a great deal of empathy for her plight where these things were concerned.

She was not, as far as I can piece together, a media darling.  I know very little about her catalogue of work, in fact, I am not sure I’d ever actually seen her on television.  So my only exposure to her has been tabloid snippets of her sticking her foot in her mouth, or the news that she was ditching twitter because of trolls and bullying.

It turns out, that she was more than the shallow, ditsy, aging blonde bombshell that most of us, if we are honest, just dismissed.

Most of what we saw drew a picture of a somewhat spoiled and shallow party girl.  If you saw Charlotte Dawson, it was on a soft news or travel program, or at a party or on a red carpet somewhere.  So the logical conclusion was that she was just going through life as a bit of a pampered and sheltered princess, which most of us could not relate to and many of us did not find very endearing.


Meanwhile, she fought very real battles, and by so many accounts was a sweet and sensitive soul with a beautiful laugh and a deep and unsated desire to be Loved and accepted… 

When I am interested in a media or public figure it is because of their humility, their social and political views and effect, their philanthropic work and my perception of their ability to stay grounded and prioritise effectively as a human being.  Charlotte Dawson, for all intents and purposes, appeared to me to be an insecure socialite and party girl.  She always seemed so desperate for the warm glow of the spotlight, and still seemed to tragically lack the strength and resilience to deal with the slings and arrows that came with choosing a life in the public eye.

I took an hour or two this morning to do a bit more research.

She did some really good charity work.  She chose a variety of causes and people to support, and seemed to have a soft spot for the misunderstood underdogs (no surprises there).  She was still in Love with her bad boy ex-husband.  Reading bits and bobs now, I am feeling more than a little bad for being so dismissive.

Previously, news on the former Kiwi fashion impresario and TV presenter was met with a sigh and a change of the radio station or a flick over to my iTunes.  I sort of lumped her into a category of shallow, plastic surgery donning, self-promoting anti-role models.  Other local and international celebs of note that made that list for me personally would include Sally Ridge or the Kardashian family.  These are people I simply do not understand, who seem to be famous for no better reason than their desire to elbow into the pages of tabloid magazines or ride the reality television wave.  I do not personally know any of them, so can’t pass any accurate opinion on them, however; if they choose to live their life in the spotlight, they will be judged and opinions will be formed.  It is what society does and the row that they’ve chosen to hoe.

So, until yesterday, I never really stopped to think that Charlotte Dawson might actually be a sweet person who tried in her own way to be kind and find happiness.  And, it appears, that this was essentially all she was trying to do.

She left NZ at 16 on a modeling contract and later settled across the Tasman in Australia.  I can only imagine the things she had seen living that kind of a life with casting couch antics, feeling constantly judged and picked apart by critics and false friends.

It is all a stark reminder that we ought to be kind, for everyone is fighting battles we know nothing about.  Her ongoing struggles with trolls and bullies online was well publicised here in NZ.

Here’s the thing about that.

Many, if not most people do and say things that vary from mildly offensive or eye roll worthy, right the way through to absolutely appalling as far as I am concerned.

I have, however, very much taken the “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” approach to my public online activity.


Interpersonal communication is a minefield, online and IRL… Putting yourself out there leaves you open to perception and attack, but it also leaves the door open for mutual understanding and successfully establishing and nurturing relationships with other human beings.

I do this because I too am very proficient at cringe worthy or hypocritical postings from time to time, so cannot throw stones.  I do this because what goes around truly does come around online and IRL (In Real Life).  I do this because it feels right to be nice, and it makes me feel terrible when I lash out or say or do something cruel.  And I do this because I still have a naughty dark side that I reserve for my closest friends and loved ones where I let rip with my less-than-pleasant opinions on people or things in the safety of private messages, closed groups, or our personal conversations.

There have been a few exceptions.  I saw snippets of that Kanye West video and laughed and laughed and LAUGHED and engaged in a less than supportive thread on my wall about it all.  In my defense though, have you seen that thing.  Wow. Just. Wow.


People are criticizing Twitter for not being more pro-active with trolls.  Trolls are sick, sad, and terribly broken, and there is plenty of scientific evidence to back this assertion up.

We’re treading uncharted wildernesses with social media.  It is an opportunity for us to share and connect with strangers and friends like never before thought possible.  And, as is the case in real life, having an opinion or saying something out loud leaves us open to scrutiny or even attack.

Chasing the holy grail of a well-managed viral campaign is every social media and PR practitioner’s mecca.  Charlotte Dawson was just doing what most celebrity and public figures must do, and joining in the social media circus.  I am basing a career and investing heavily in attempts to help people and organisations I believe to be ethical to help navigate this minefield successfully and transparently.

We pump out relevant content, we roadmap our brand strategies, we collate and post relevant and original images and material so that people will click over and be exposed to the messages we are trying to share.  And if we are really successful, those messages will sink in enough to cause some sort of actual activity or even ultimately catalyze ongoing change and have a lasting effect!

The truth is though, the vast majority of anything that is posted online is ignored.

The only thing worse than being ignored, is being vilified or attacked.

Probably useful to take a few steps back and explain what cyber-bullying is and what defines a troll.

Here’s the definitions according to the Oxford Dictionary and Wikipedia:


the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature.

(Oxford Dictionary)

Trolls (Internet Trolls):

In Internet slang, a troll (/ˈtroʊl/, /ˈtrɒl/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people,[1] by posting inflammatory,[2] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a forum, chat room, or blog), either accidentally[3][4] or with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[5] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.[6]

This sense of the word troll and its associated verb trolling are associated with Internet discourse, but have been used more widely. Media attention in recent years has equated trolling with online harassment. For example, mass media has used troll to describe “a person who defaces Internet tribute sites with the aim of causing grief to families.”[7][8]


Cyber bullying is prolific among young people.  Kids are being attacked, ganged up on, ridiculed, and in some cases driven to self-harm and suicide by the cruelty of their peers.

It is not just a problem facing youth, however.

There is an army of nasty trolls who take it upon themselves to pick targets like Charlotte Dawson and viciously attack.

These people are sick.  Genuinely, seriously broken.  And the way they cope with their broken is to post cowardly attacks and go trolling to insight discord.

So many people have said things like:  “Oh I hope they all feel terrible!”  or “I hope those nasty trolls are happy now!”  But I suspect the vast majority of people who attacked her and attack others like her do not feel much remorse.  I suspect, after dating a narcissistic sociopath or two in my time, that these people are genuinely so detached from reality that they feel nothing at all about this, or any other world events and they will continue to go through life conning, manipulating and mistreating people online and IRL.  And THAT is a tragedy.

I’ve just watched my word count limit come and go, so I am going to leave this blog somewhat unfinished and without the denouement it so richly deserves.

Which is so very like the life of a beautiful, broken, sweet and talented woman who chose to stop fighting the battle with her demons, both internal and external, and took her own life after smiling warmly for the cameras only moments before doing so.

Thanks for reading.

I Feel Him Rolling – I Ain’t Hating!

Yesterday, I was not merely pleased; but ecstatic, surprised, delighted, comforted, jubilant and more than a little bit relieved to be feeling my first real, sustained and absolute peace and acceptance for the wee soul that I’ve been growing for the past few months.

I had a regular checkup conducted by a locum, as my lead midwife is shoveling her own personal piles of poo at the moment the poor lady.  The locum (who has been a practicing midwife since the 80’s) confirmed that the baby had rolled and is no longer breech, but facing the direction he ought to be.  He is not currently engaged, and I’m measuring and feeling on track, contrary to the scan results, which told us that I am growing a 95th percentile monster baby which will need to come out early.  A completely different take on things came from this appointment.  Clearly I need to take extra care and be extra vigilant counting movements and so forth, but if he is happy and wiggling, I am very hopeful he will stay put until his due date on my 36th birthday, and perhaps, I can even experience my first (and only) natural labour without being induced.  All very heartening news, particularly after a less-than-positive visit to the high-risk maternity clinic last week.


Here I am with our eldest son Daniel at 27 weeks. The kids are all quite excited to meet their new little brother.  It is nice to be joining in on their enthusiasm finally

If you haven’t already figured it out, this is going to be an unabashed pregnancy post.  So if you can’t handle the jandal, best to tune out now.

For those of you wishing to join me on the journey through this narrative, settle in, as there’s going to be some raw nerves exposed as we wend our way through today’s blog.

This pregnancy has been on the cards since our third child (who will be 4 in June) was born.  A much discussed and wanted addition to the family, it took us 18 months of TTC (Trying To Conceive) to get anything more than a chemical positive test.

So why wasn’t I over the moon when the bloods came back confirming we’d managed to plant one that stuck?  My reaction was sorrowful, and shameful and a far cry from the picture perfect joy I’d planned to be feeling.

We have three amazing, healthy, happy and very demanding children already.  We Love them with all and we are and like them very much as well.  They bring joy, laughter, chaos, and even sometimes a sleepy veil of calm into our world that you can only get from children.

I also have an absolutely solid support network, and we are blessed to be able to afford help around the house.  We have every intention of getting a full time nanny once the fourth baby arrives.

Happily ever after is my everyday existence, and I should feel blessed to the point of being genuinely giddy just to wake up in the morning surrounded by the safety and security of picket fence perfection.  The cherry on top ought to be the fact that we are lucky enough to have a fourth child brewing in my belly and know that we will be able to give them all the love and security they need to be happy and healthy in their journey through infancy, childhood and then life.


I hated, yes hated the idea of another mouth to feed and starting all over again.  I was sick, I was tired, I was so resentful it made my skin crawl and my teeth clench.  Cognitively, all of this pointed me in a dark direction indeed.

Here’s the thing.

Despite the fact it is still, for the most part, taboo to talk about these less than maternal feelings, it is estimated that one in eight women suffer from some level of pre-natal depression.  The symptoms can be mild to completely debilitating.  Some women scarcely get out of bed for the duration of their gestation, others have much more severe issues including psychotic episodes or engage in self-harm.   Relationships suffer, and there is evidence that there may be a correlation between Pre-natal depression and an increased chance of anxious or depressive tendencies or episodes in the child.  Tearfulness, paranoia, self-loathing, hopelessness, despair, even grave thoughts of self harm or, the most unspeakable thoughts about the innocent life you are carrying, and, maybe, just a little bit… wishing it away.

These feelings are real.  They are terrifying.  They made me hate myself and feel shame and anger because I had every intention of relishing this final experience.

And goodness gracious, what a prat I am to be complaining when I know dozens of couples who have had their hearts broken trying to conceive or losing a child.  What the hell is wrong with me?  The only reasonable explanation is that I am a terrible person.

Try as I might, I couldn’t feel anything but despair and resentment when cognitively I wanted to feel joy and appreciation.

With support and/or medication (I am not medicated and have never had success with synthetic anti-depressants, but they are a necessity to many people I know and Love) and coping strategy, there is absolutely light at the end of the very dark tunnel.

When the sixth month loomed on the horizon and I realized that the only moments of peace or happiness I felt were when I was too busy to remember that I was pregnant, I accepted that it was time to face the fact something was wrong and out of my control.

I did a bit of research, and after a total melt down at a midwife appointment I was referred to maternal mental health.  I did not follow up, however, as I am not keen to take resources away from women who need assistance through the public system.  We are covering the costs of our own therapy.  Also, quite frankly, I have heard horror stories about intervention backfiring and women being labeled as unfit mothers, or worse, having children taken off them as a result of this illness.  That’s a whole other massive kettle of fish I don’t have time to get into today though.  Suffice to say, nobody has accused me of being unfit.  It has been pointed out to me that I am currently quite a genuine pain in the ass and need a great deal of extra support (which I am absolutely getting) from family and friends to get by.  The mental illness is magnified by gestational diabetes (despite doing everything possible to control my sugars and not putting on virtually any weight this pregnancy) and severe anemia.  But such is the life of a thirty something year old woman creating a human.  Again.  Apparently.

I’m lucky enough to be going through this pregnancy at the same time as at least a couple of exceptional women who are struggling with their own mountains of stress.  These women are my family.  One of them is coping with a toddler, juggling work, and making it through a rough first trimester, exhaustion and stress, pretty much as a single mum as her husband is called away for work for months at a time, and is currently offshore.  The other is working 12+ hour days, planning her wedding, suffering with terrible morning sickness, and also just moved house into a more suitable location for welcoming a new baby.

They are coping.  I am not at liberty to say whether they are also battling with chemical depression, what I can say though, is that it is nothing short of a miracle that we’re all pregnant at the same time and our children will be given a chance to grow up together and so close in age!  The statistical probability of all of this falling into place is actually quite mind-boggling, especially when one takes into consideration the amount of time spent trying to conceive for all of us.

So at 4:30am I sit here with a million other things to do.  Attempting to get this blog out and move on with the mountain of things that ought to be done before my husband and I welcome around 200 guests to celebrate Love, laughter, friendship and sustainability (social, marital, environmental, and general) at a big Valentines day vow renewal party to mark more than ten years together.

Which is happening tomorrow.  Bugger.

I just wanted to share with you the turning point (ha!  It happened when he turned… funny) in how I am viewing the undeniable blessing of welcoming another life into our family.

Yesterday, I found meaning in a bunch of stuff and I found comfort in that meaning.  Unlike my husband, I am a fairly spiritual person.  I believe that the cycle of life and Love is infinite.  I believe the echoes of people we have loved and lost come through genetically, in personality and in spirit in the new lives we welcome.  I also believe in astrology (temper your judgments, I think it is cool and that’s my prerogative) This child is due on my birthday, in the year of my Chinese astrological year (year of the horse in case you were wondering).  Not sure what the likelihood of that is, but I wouldn’t think it is huge.

This baby has been accommodating beyond imagination since the get go.  We had booked a Christmas cruise as a family vacation several months before conceiving this child, and you are not permitted to cruise past 24 weeks gestation.  The ship docked at 23 weeks and 4 days gestation, leaving us a whopping three-day window, so we didn’t have to cancel the family vacation.


Here is Grumpy with the children at Luna Park in Sydney Australia

A few days before returning from California where Grumpy was attending a trade-show and Daniel (our oldest son) and I were sightseeing, I called back to Auckland and booked a 4D scan to see his face in the hopes I’d bond with him (didn’t work) and because of the way he was sitting and where all the stuff like the placenta is placed, the stenographer was quite certain we wouldn’t be able to get a clear image.  So I rolled onto my side, and viola, he turned around and smiled a peaceful little smile for us that I was able to share with friends and family on social media.

He was still breech the next day at the growth scan at the high risk maternity unit, so I’ve been asking him gently to roll over and face the right direction, and as is customary for this accommodating little man, he turned the night before my fortnightly appointment.

All of this got me to thinking:

He chose us.  He chose me.  And he’s coming to join us whether it is convenient or not.

And despite cognitively knowing this stuff before, I just couldn’t feel anything positive at the prospect of this until yesterday.

So I will go now and try and get my head around everything and prepare for tomorrow’s party where there will be much belly rubs and pictures with family and friends.

Thanks for tuning in.  And if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, reach out.  It is more common than you think, and opening up a dialogue with someone who understands will help you both.  Not everyone will understand and some will make you feel like a royal asshole, but you aren’t.  And with help, you are going to be okay.  Even the big bag of crazy sharing this with you managed to pull through.

Much Love to everyone out there today.



Fish and Chips, Funny Quips, Memory Lane Trips, and… What Kind of Pics?

One of the coolest things to come of our impending celebration renewal of vows (currently a week away) is the reminiscing.

My flatmate from a semester I studied at the University of Calgary has taken a very rare break from her work to come down and join us for the party.  After being stopped by the drug dog, interrogated for two hours, searched, and then finding out that it was actually the dude next to her that was carrying and she just kinda got caught in the crossfire, she arrived safe but shaken through our threshold a couple of days ago.  She’ll be adventuring around the Auckland region with one of the many new friends she’s already made, and then heading out to the Eminem concert on Saturday night, before catching a plane to embark on a two day journey to get to Orlando Florida for a work gig.

THAT is friendship.  Also, probably more than just a little bit of foolishness.  But then, if, I recall, as a team, we always did have a bit of a penchant for foolishness, so why would it wane after 15 years?

Here is a picture of our good friend Coen and Alie… and our fridge at University.


NOTE:  IF ANYONE ANYWHERE HAS SEEN THIS MAN, PLEASE LET US KNOW!  We have scoured the Internet for our long lost Flying Dutchman friend, and it has turned up nothing so far.  If you know him, tell him to get in touch with either Alie or myself!  We’d LOVE to see him.

Back to the story.

For the past two days, the house has been full of friends, kids, and various visitors.  We’re putting the finishing touches on the run sheets for the day, finalising menus, all that type of stuff.

While I was off gallivanting in California last week, the bridesmaids and another friend (who is a stellar event manager) have spent hours on the phone and Internet organising EVERYTHING for the day.


I’ve got no idea what I did to deserve friends and sisters like these, and even with my generally extensive verbosity, I just don’t have the words to tell them how much I Love and appreciate them, not just for what they’ve done for us recently, but for the years and years of support and ups and downs and all that they have been through and we have weathered together.


So, part of the preparation seems to be a lot of trips down memory lane.  Friends of mine are meeting for the first time, and sharing eerily similar stories about the things we got up to in days gone by.

Oh my word, I have crammed a lot of adventures in over the past 35 years.

The thing that has struck me though, is that I look back on the many foolish things I’ve done, and the time I spent in my youth, and it generally makes me sad.  Talking to my friends about it over the past few days though, oh my… did we have some fun.

So last night, we drove out to get some Kiwi fish and chips.  My two friends shared stories about the fun we had and the mischief we got up to.

I’ll spare you the gory details.  We did have an amazing laugh about a Halloween party in Calgary where we hosted people from various nations and continents in our small res apartment.  One of the Germans very loudly proclaiming “I have a bratwurst in my pants!” while our Newfie friend (dressed in completely politically incorrect garb) was yelling “Coen, COEN!” (pronounced K-oo-n) across the room to our flying Dutchman friend who was standing with the gorgeous social butterfly lad from Ghana.  The hilarity of that night is easily fodder for one of the best comedy sketches that could ever be written, and we weren’t even trying to be funny or ironic.  Just being young, foolish, insecure and enjoying our time together as we all knew that it was fleeting.

More than a decade on, I’m languishing in the rather sheltered existence of wedded bliss. I have a suitcase full of memories of the time before time when I was footloose and fancy-free.  And the many varied paths my friends have taken, both getting and staying married, or single, breeding, or not breeding, traveling or building careers.

I am enjoying learning vicariously about life as a single person from the friends who are out there in the dating trenches.  It is quite mind-boggling how things are done in the digital age.  It turns out a lot has changed since I was single, and there’s way more happening on dating scene in 2014.


So being happily spoken for for more than a decade now means I have not been privy to the wonders of technology that are bringing people together in this digital age.  When I was a young lass, I’d date people I ran into at work, school, or out socializing and courting and chaos would commence from there.

It is no longer so simple.

There are dozens of sites and apps for people to go to in order to find Love, or a romp, or anything at either extreme or in between.

You can hook up with someone at a moment’s notice anywhere in the world, by swiping left or right on your smart phone.

It just happens that my friends are not only quite attractive women, they are also charming and funny and therefore the object of more than a little bit of attention out there in the singles scene.

And you know what happens to them with alarming frequency?

How can I put this gently…

Well.  They get sent pictures of the male anatomy, that really ought to remain unseen in polite society, with no solicitation.

I found this little sketch on YouTube, and I think it is important for those single people out there to take the time to have a listen as it offers some fairly sound advice:


Why I found this so fascinating I don’t know.   It was also quite a shock to be faced with the fact I am so utterly out of the loop and, I guess, a bit of a prude.  “What do you mean it happens ALL THE TIME?”  I gasped upon hearing literally dozens of stories from my girlfriends.

As a result of seeing these girls, we have been engaging in a lot of conversations about dating etiquette, then and now.

I’m not sure if it is a testament to our age and the increased confidence that comes with being over 30, or if things are really genuinely changing, but as far as I can tell many women are gaining the upper hand in this dating dance.

Dating today means there is no waiting for the man to make the first move.  It is okay to say no, and it is absolutely okay to say yes as well.  Being single is not a sin, and being separated and sowing wild oats does not make you a harlot or a social pariah.  Strangely, my gorgeous guy friends who are recently back in the game are finding it much harder than the women, and in my small study sample, that seems to consistently be the case.

All this talk of dating exposed my beloved Grumpy’s strangely chivalrous side.  Despite being quite a cad in a lot of ways, the man I married is a gentleman and, quite genuinely, a fabulous feminist.

“I just don’t think you should ever be in a position where you feel like you owe any of these guys anything.”  He said to our friend. “There are some real jerks out there, and just because they buy you things or shout you plane rides, you shouldn’t feel obliged to them for anything.”

Well.  Colour me gushy, my gorgeous Grumpy feels genuine concern and protectiveness for the women we know, and also thinks it is about high time they had the option of being out there chasing a bit of tail of that’s all they want to do.  Double standards be damned, but a lady should still be treated with dignity and respect, and she should certainly be showing the same level of regard for the hearts and minds of the men she dates.

So.  In conclusion.

I am enormously and immeasurably thankful to NOT be out there in the trenches of the dating game.  Regardless of the improved ease the online environment has given to participants wishing to engage in, well, anything you can imagine from what I gather.

I’ve met my match.  And as our friends have oft pointed out  (rather coarsely at times) perhaps the only man on the planet who has what it takes to handle the fantastic tapestry of chaos, kindness, Love and confusion that is Dee.  And vice versa.


So all the best to those of you out there on the dating scene, and also to couples old and new that are toughing it out together in good times and bad.

Thanks for tuning in.

What Seems to be Working (So Far Anyway)

This is the first time I’ve had a moment to sit down and blog, so I’m a week late getting the second installment of the “Happy Hobbit Tenth Anniversary Special Edition” online.  I’ve also missed sharing a Birthday Blog for Daniel with you all on his actual birthday, however, I’ll get that out soon as well.

I need to take a few paragraphs to share with you how I see Grumpy, and to take liberties to describe how I believe he sees me, and then I’ll scratch the surface of some of the things that seem to keep us together after all these years.

Everyone who knows us likens Grumpy to this fictional character:


(Note that he’s wearing a green t-shirt with the iconic “reduce-reuse-recycle” emblem?  Yeah, that’s kinda a big thing with us too…)

In my eyes, Steve is absolutely, astoundingly, and breathtakingly gorgeous.  After well over a decade together, he still makes me swoon, gives me beautiful stomach butterflies and weakens my hobbity knees with just a single word or gesture and I can end up a very happy puddle of wife wrapped safely in his waiting arms.  He is funny, handsome, sexy, cute, smart (oh my giddy AUNT is he smart!), vulnerable, complicated, kind, endlessly interesting, moral, good, genuine, tenacious, loyal, patient, a wonderful father, an amazing friend and an incurable romantic.

On the other hand, however… He can be teeth-itchingly lazy, thoughtless, cruel, callous, tactless, selfish, self absorbed, gross and utterly infuriating and impossible to deal with or get through to.

Here’s a collection of characters and people that remind me of Grumpy (you may or may not agree):

Mr. Darcy – Because everyone thinks he’s dark and grumpy and gruff, when in reality he is just the kindest, most forthright, upstanding, romantic dark eyed bucket of delicious EVER!


Dr. House – We really enjoyed watching this together, and the brutal honesty and atheist sentiment demonstrated by House (who, lets face it, was messed up but a fairly phenomenally smart and decent guy) always reminded me of my Grumpy.  I’m religious, he finds that quite hilarious.


There’s quite a few more, but I’ve already run out of time as I need to pack and we’re flying home today, and on top of that trying to get to Universal Studios first.

On the surface, we seem to be very different indeed.  I am loud, he is not.  I am rash, he is pedantic.  I am fickle, he is tenacious.  I am incessantly cheerful, he is notoriously grumpy.  I believe in just about anything, he is is systematically skeptical and requires evidence and sound logical reasoning.

To get REALLY cheesy – cause, in for a penny in for a pound – he is my sun and I am his moon.  He is constant and bright and sustaining, and I am changeable and mysterious responsible for wreaking havoc and creating calm in varying degrees and cycles.

So here is a brief list of the things that Grumpy and I have discussed over the past few days that we feel keep us together, and generally, pretty happy (most of the time).


1)  Laughter

2)  Honesty and trust

3)  A sizeable dose of insecurity

4)  Affection

5)  Tolerance and forgiveness

PART TWO (I’ll get this up after I land back home in NZ)

1) Generosity & being remarkably cheap

2) Core values

3) Kids

4) Adventures

5) Kindess

So let’s jump right in shall we.


It was fairly apparent very early on that Grumpy and I shared a somewhat strange and perhaps slightly dark sense of humour.  We are both foul-mouthed and notably lacking in our ability to filter or exercise decorum or restraint in many situations.


In our home and our marriage, very little is sacred, and we use humour to soften the blows of some fairly heavy issues, both personally and in a wider more universal sense.

The things that we find funny would probably offend the sensibilities of many.  We are not dainty, or prim, or delicate.  Bodily functions are oft hilarious, swearing is standard, laughing at ourselves as well as each-other is compulsory, and “inside jokes” are rife within our family and inner sanctum of close friends.

Ours is a house where we laugh loud and often.  Our children learn the subtleties of sarcasm at a staggeringly young age.  Tantrums and bratty behavior (from grown ups as well as the children) are received with glib humour or met with merciless mocking.  The phrase “well, that’s just not FAIR!” is almost always responded to with such affirmative responses as: “You’re right, it isn’t fair, welcome to life kiddo, you’ve got a long way and a whole lot more injustice to shovel through yet.”

Not everyone understands or appreciates Hobbity humour, but the ones who do “get” us seem to appreciate our openness and appreciation of joy and use of laughter to defuse situations and make the journey through life a bit more bearable.

I will, however, say that we do not find cruelty or meanness funny.  While there is an element of finding schadenfreude a bit amusing (we laugh while crying after hitting a funny bone, or if there’s been a tumble and we’ve assessed that nothing is broken or maimed) we do not tolerate openly mean or subjugating humour or smugness.  Because, well, it just isn’t funny.  Mean sucks.  There is no place for callousness or cruelty in our home or hearts, and people who have a propensity towards it don’t last long in our world.

Honesty and Trust:

We do not mince words, we do not keep secrets, and neither of us is the jealous or insecure type.

Both of us are insatiable flirts.  We enjoy affection and attention, and seem to do better as a couple knowing that we are still able to turn the odd head.

Not sure how normal it is, but both of us find it quite a compliment to see other people appreciate our partner, and still be absolutely sure, that we’re going home together as we always do.

We have both thought or felt things that weren’t ideal from time to time.  Talking about these things and working through them together, either with or without a third person to counsel us when things are particularly dire, has kept us together after some events that would quite reasonably be expected to end most unions.

The most important aspect of trust between us seems to be the absolute and tacit truth that each of us holds the others heart, happiness and well-being as paramount.  I am genuinely happier to witness joy in my husband than I am to experience it first hand.  Steve puts my safety, comfort and happiness above his own without even realizing he does it.  Loving and trusting another human being with all of who you are, and potentially for eternity, means you are constantly vulnerable, so it is going to be a much more successful union when it is maintained by two people who are similarly matched in their Love and appreciation for the other.  Does that make sense?  I guess all I am attempting to say here, is that we are both “givers” not so much “takers” and we implicitly trust the other to respect and protect the other’s needs, desires and emotions.  I trust that his happiness is tied to mine, and he trusts that mine is to his, and it is all achieved and demonstrated on an almost subliminal level.  Too deep?  I’ll move on.

And it really ought to be said that there are times when one or both of us just acts like a total selfish jerk too… So it isn’t all smooth sailing I assure you.


Neither of us had an idyllic past.  Perhaps nobody on earth really does, (unless they are imagining it as some sort of defence mechanism).  The result of both of us having our hearts ripped out or trod on, suffering blistering rejection, or surviving a number of failed relationships prior to finding each other, has left a lasting, but undeniably useful scars on both of us.

Neither of us think that we are the object of bona fide sexual desire of objectification from others.  Neither of us has a propensity toward narcissism or egocentric activity.  Both of us feel unspeakably blessed to have found another human being who accepts them completely, with all our flaws and all our foibles.

Being undeniably insecure, and more than a little bit needy, also means that we both crave attention and affection, from each other as well as other people.  Positive affirmation from strangers and friends alike is kind of like crack to us, which, fits in well with the honesty and trust part of the recipe that keeps us going after all these years.   We flirt.  A lot.  But both choose to remain monogamous and faithful because it is what works for us.  We have friends with open relationships, we have friends who are vehemently protective of their partners and get quite jealous over very little indeed.  Neither of these extremes suits us, and there’s a constant and evolving dialogue between us about what is acceptable and what is not.  Lines occasionally get crossed, but we always find our way back to each other and the safe place that we’ve built together over the years.  I am thankful every day to be adored and desired by Grumpy, and he, apparently, feels the same way about me.  I am not sure that we would feel that way about each other and our relationship after all this time if we hadn’t suffered a lot of heart break, sowed a lot of wild oats, had our hearts broken, or if we had actually found social and romantic relationships terribly easy in our past.

Quite apart from wanting to be seen in a positive light by others, we both seem to find a solace and perfection in each other, and ourselves, that I can’t imagine ever being matched.  After more than a decade of sleeping next to this man, and seeing him virtually every single day, I still stop in mid-sentence sometimes just to admire how absolutely gorgeous I truly think he is.   He still kisses me passionately and wraps his rather lovely strong arms around me several times a day…

Which brings us neatly to the next point:


Seems to us, that the thing about affection, is comparable requirements and thresholds.

We are exceptionally affectionate physically and emotionally.  I am a hugger, and Grumpy is… well… he’s a bit “handsy” sometimes, and he has trouble not vocally appreciating a beautiful woman or a bountiful bosom.

Hundreds of hugs and kisses are exchanged in our household every week, and we are very cuddly with our friends and family as well.

In our marriage, we hold hands and are off the charts with PDA (Public Displays of Affection).  We fit in so well in South America, where kissing and touching each other is quite common and acceptable.  Neither of us enjoyed Dubai, as it was imperative that we not even hold hands in public there.  Than kind of restraint is simply not Hobbit compatible.

In a more conventional sense, over the years, we seem to have either developed, or become accustomed to, similar… um… appetites I suppose?  If more than a few days pass without some conjugal visiting, it is rare.  And if one of us is tired, there’s a pretty good chance that they’ll “take one for the team” and be glad of it.  But every couple is different.  Again, it seems ideal to just find a balance that works and try and stick to that.  Again, it probably has more than a little bit to do with the fact that we both feel quite lucky to have someone to be absolutely attracted to that feels the same way back.  Well, most of the time.

Tolerance and forgiveness:

The thing about being completely and inextricably intertwined with another human being, is that sometimes, that person is absolutely your LEAST favourite thing in the whole wide world.

Every relationship has bugbears.  Every relationship has the list of things that are a constant source or conflict or frustration.

When we met, we had both been through the proverbial ringer and were more than a little averse to the prospect of any relationship, let alone the forever that ours would evolve into.

The upshot of that, was that there was no “putting our best face forward” during the early days of courting.  Steve got to see my crazy very early on in the piece, as I did his, and the fact neither of us were intimidated or too concerned with the particular brand of broken demonstrated by the other set the foundation for our own strange brand of happily ever after.

We are both still quite capable of doing terrible, thoughtless, stupid or destructive things (to ourselves and each other).  The ability to work through them, communicate, and keep moving forward after a particularly impressive blow to our heart or our relationship is imperative to our union.

I have an uncanny ability to hold a grudge, be very mean, stubborn and argumentative.  Steve has almost no desire (or maybe even ability) to be a rescuer or act as my knight in shining armour.  He loathes conflict, so he generally makes me fight my own battles, sometimes to the peril of our relationship. I need a good blow out from time to time, and he waits calmly for the storm to pass.  There’s an extensive list of his faults and mine, and they come to the forefront from time to time and we fight.  Oh my word, can we fight.  So far, when we do, the result tends to be a greater understanding and closeness. Even when one or both of us is absolutely fed up and over the other, it is quite clear that we are both better off together than apart.  So together we remain.

Neither of us is perfect, we are both capable of being terrible, thoughtless or even quite cruel from time to time.  We always find each other again after a particularly big shake up in our relationship.  It is never too difficult to dig a little and be reminded of what keeps us together, and how lucky we both feel to have someone who is genuinely on our side.  But it is a work in progress, and it requires a great deal of tolerance and forgiveness, of ourselves as well as each other.

Tune in at some later date – which could be days or weeks away when I manage to finish off this amazingly lengthy blog.

Thank you for taking the time to read this stuff.  I hope you find some value in doing so 🙂