How Steve Won at Parenting this Weekend

Darling Daughter is a Diva.  She is deep, emotional and prone to outbursts that frequently see her stomping up the stairs and slamming doors and sobbing.  Complete mystery where she got these traits (said nobody ever).

She is most certainly her mother’s child.

My husband is renowned for having zero tolerance for her dramatics, whining, baby talk, and many more of Stephanie-Jane’s less than winning ways.  He’s much better at managing, understanding and dealing with the boys antics, while generally, I have a much longer fuse when coping with our daughter.




So on Friday night, something set her off and the obligatory stomp up the stairs, followed by the slam, and then the scream occurred.  Normally, I give her ten or fifteen minutes and head up and we have a good talk and a cuddle.  She craves comfort when her emotions get away on her like this, and generally calms down and gets on with life pretty quickly after one of these little blow-ups.

But this time, it was Grumpy who went up.

Sometime later, he came back downstairs to tell me how it went.

“So our daughter has had her first existential crisis.” He reported to me plainly.

“Oh?” I said raising an eyebrow. “You mean the one where she raises her little hands to the sky, throws her head back, and between sobs exclaims ‘Who AM I!  I just don’t know who I am anymore!’ because that’s the crisis of existentialism she’s generally prone to after on of her stompy sessions.” I responded.

“Yeah, that one.”  He smiled.

“Pretty deep territory eh.  I just tell her that I have no idea who I am or what I’m doing most of the time and cuddle her till she calms down.  What did you say?” I asked.

“Well.  I explained that we are what we do.  So, if we do kind things, we are kind.  If we do mean and terrible things, we are probably quite mean and terrible.” He repeated to me in his very best soft and thoughtful dad tone;  “So, if you play a concert piano in front of a large crowd, then you are most likely a concert pianist because you practiced and promoted yourself as such.  If you do all the things that need to be done to become the Prime Minister, and then you become the Prime Minister, then you are probably the Prime Minister.  Or if you make lots of bad decisions and do lots of dumb things and end up being really unhappy most of the time, it is actually because we are what we do.  And I told her she does lots of great things and is a kind and wonderful girl that we are proud of.  So she’ll probably be alright.”

“Wow.”  I responded.  “You win parenting this weekend for that little gem baby.”  I said all moon eyed and swooning a bit after hearing this.  “Do you think she got it? Do you think it helped?”

“Yeah, I think it did.”

And that is how Grumpy won parenting this weekend.

Have a great week everyone.




Random Friday Insights on Friendship

I’d like to talk about friendship.

The best place to start, I think, would be to openly and publicly acknowledge how fortunate I feel daily, considering what a huge pain in the ass I can be, to have the friends I do.  We are surrounded by a multitude of absolutely amazing, supportive, honest, kind, interesting, entertaining, diverse, intelligent and loyal people.

It is a really big deal to be able to say that as an adult, because I was a desperately lonely and undeniably awkward child.  Outside of family, I have only one true friend I have known since childhood.  We were 5 years old when we met.  Neither of us has ever been accused of being normal or conventional.  We both march to the beat of our own drum, and neither of us would be considered mainstream or predictable.  It is an honour to know her.


I hit my first social stride of having more than just one or two good friends at any given time in University.  I managed to find some like-minded individuals who have popped on and off the radar for nearly two decades now.  Another wave of socially secure relationships blossomed as I entered the workforce and met a gaggle of geeks that I absolutely adore to this day.  Another wave when I started dating my husband and met some of his friends.

The most obvious and seemingly secure influx of social bonds has happened since becoming a parent.  You join a club when you become a breeder.  You have something in common with people whose paths you may never have crossed otherwise.  As your children grow, you come across other parents, and have an amazing icebreaker and common bond that plants a seed of friendship in a way that I never would have thought possible before having children.  Some of the people we’ve met through school and kids activities have become an absolutely integral part of our lives. I am of the opinion that many of these people would have had cause to run away screaming from my rather larger than life personality, were it not for the impetus to get to know me because our kids were friends.

The flip side of the formula that has lead me to the social comfort of the friendships I relish (as there is always a flip side) is that I’ve also earned a few fairly harsh critics and even some genuine haters.  You know you’re doing something right when you have actually earned some haters I think.  In most cases this is worn as a badge of honour, as in most cases, it says a lot more about them than it does me.  Douche-bag and Dee do not mix.  Never have.  Never will.  People who have a nice shiny veneer and very little depth or substance, or those who go through life deeply cognitively dissonant are allergic to me as I am to them.  And that’s perfectly cool.

There are other occasions, when I really like, admire, and/or respect somebody, but we’re simply not compatible for one reason or another.  And that’s okay too.  Frequently when this happens, a relationship at arms length of each other is a very acceptable compromise.  This is also okay.  Other times, there is no compromise and the only reasonable option is avoidance.  I’m really very good at that too.  Perhaps a little too good.  Walking away is something I have grown quite a reputation for.  I’ll unpack that one another day in another post.

I digress.

One of the wonderful things about having little to no filter as both myself and my husband do, is the early and ongoing separation of people who are compatible, and those who are not.  I jump in with both feet and my whole heart when I find someone new and fantastic.  Most people admit to being quite terrified of that level of enthusiasm at first.

One dear friend, who I have seen or spoken to nearly every day for the past few months openly admits to being more than a little stunned (but not put off) when first made aware of my existence.

“I thought you were an absolute lunatic.  Smart, but a lunatic.” She recounted to me one afternoon as we chatted about the old days.


Despite being a “complete lunatic” most of our friends openly and frequently convey a fondness for us.  Grumpy and I often get praised for our honesty, generosity, humour, acceptance and huge capacity to take people exactly as they are.  It seems strange being venerated for these qualities, as it is always by people who quite effectively mirror them back at us.

So what am I trying to say today?

I guess I can sum it up like this:

Life is short.  Time is precious.  We’re all very busy.  Healthy human relationships that last for moments or lifetimes are an absolute necessity for getting through this life.

Take the time to find people who fill you up and make you want to be a better, kinder, more effective person and openly appreciate them when you get the chance.  Opening yourself up makes you vulnerable of course, but the rewards are immeasurable.


You will sometimes be surprised where you find them.

Be generous and genuine with your appreciation of people.  We all feel under-appreciated at times, and saying thank you to someone can be the difference between a disastrous and delightful day.

A series of bombshells and bad news has culminated this week.  Some of it has to do with me directly, some of it is more peripheral.  But I received a message – both through Facebook DM and text that completely buoyed me.  The woman that sent it is a pathological over-achiever, a gorgeous human being, an amazing and dedicated mother, a huge influence in mine and many other people’s lives, and is working her way to being a national and international expert on a very real and controversial social issue.  The message read:

“Hi Dee, just want you to know that you are an angel to so many people.  You are one of life’s shining lights xxxxxxxxxx”

Yeah, I cried a little when I read it.  Especially because we’ve had to make some really hard decisions and face some really tough realities after getting kicked quite squarely in the guts after trying tirelessly to do the right thing.

Now, the truth is, I get persecuted for openly and frequently sharing gratitude and compliments on social media and in life.  Some people will accuse you, as they have me, of being disingenuous, gushy.  Be assured, every time I offer a kind word or compliment it is absolutely in earnest.


Opening yourself up to people is hard.  Trusting people totally leaves you vulnerable.  Knowing when to hang onto friendships and when to say enough is enough is a difficult an inexact art.  But the relationships we forge add substance to life, give us context, and, provided they are real and true friendships, help us to look at the bits of ourselves that are difficult to accept.  Healthy and supportive friendships make the good times better, and the dark times bearable.

So if you are reading this, and you are my friend IRL or more frequently online than in the real world, THANK YOU!


Have a great weekend.


Whirlwind West Wend Around the South Island

Despite being quite different in many ways, my husband (who I’ve affectionately nicknamed Grumpy) and I share a great many interests and passions.  An example of this is our Love of New Zealand.

After a magnificent tour around South America late 2012 – early 2013 we had a discussion and decided that we were going to try and stay put a bit more and explore our own back yard for a change.  And for the past year, we more or less have.

Our annual family Christmas vacation was spent cruising around New Zealand and then over to Australia with all three kiddies, one people parasite (I was in my second trimester with our fourth child) and mother-in-law in tow.  It was an excellent trip.

And after re-affirming our Happy Hobbit commitment to each other on Valentines day at a re-wedding party, we thought it would be fitting to take a quick honeymoon together (no children).

We chose to go to Christchurch, as Grumpy had not been there since he was twelve years old when he was flown down for winning a mathletics competition.  I’ve been down half a dozen times, for various reasons.  So we booked our seats, packed our bags and away we went.


Luckily, you can fly domestically pretty much up until your due date (if you are so inclined) so being 35 weeks pregnant was not going to impede our plans.  We would not have been able to go any further afield at this point anyway as you are not generally allowed to fly on any international route after between 28 and 32 weeks, depending on the carrier’s policy.

So here’s what we had planned:


Wait, that isn’t entirely true.  We had booked a rental car.

We’ve had terrific luck and numerous adventures just flying by the seat of our pants when we travel, and maybe, to a lesser degree, through life in general.  We don’t make a lot of plans, and when we do, they change frequently.  Not planning and letting things like; the weather, our budget at the time, our mood, and now our smart devices, help us to decide where and how we spend our vacations is pretty much how we roll.  Not for everyone, but it has served us well.

We’d made loose plans to visit some people in Christchurch.  However, when we landed, the weather was astoundingly clear and crisp and we decided then and there to head inland.  We popped in to Riccarton mall and picked up a grocery bag full of supplies (grain waves and water basically) and were on our way.

Once we were out of the Canterbury plains and into the foothills of the Southern Alps, we felt quite free and very pleased with ourselves for being so adventurous.  We arrived at Castle Point rocks, and I asked Grumpy if we ought to stop, by he opted to take a picture from out the window instead and said we’d stop on our way back through.  That proved to be a mistake, as we didn’t return to this iconic natural wonder on our return to Christchurch.  We’ll stop another time and clamber over the interesting formations with our children, one day in the not too distant future.


Whilst driving, we decided we’d aim to get to Greymouth that evening.


Greymouth is a lovely little West Coast town, where mining has historically been the major industry of note.  What we noticed, is that there was no shortage of interesting and eccentric characters, an abundance of local pride, and, it just so happens, really good food.


We let trip advisor suggest to us where to stay, a lovely farm/homestay called Oak Lodge Homestay and were pleasantly surprised with the results. The hosts were very friendly indeed, and we had a self contained cottage with lovely rural views.


Our hosts recommended we eat at a place called Ollys’ (yes, the name is grammatically accurate as it shows that more than one Olly owns the restaurant apparently).  The smoky stuffed mushrooms were delicious, the plating was impeccable and the dessert was divine.


And the whole experience cost us just over $50NZD after our tourist discount.

That night, Grumpy fell to sleep at a completely uncharacteristically early 10:00pm and we woke up at around 9:30 the next morning.

We had a delicious (and reasonably priced) breakfast at Maggie’s.  Again, we ate really good mushrooms (calling card of this quaint little town perhaps?) and perfectly acceptable coffee, even by our undeniably demanding standards.

We also got a call from our hosts to let us know that I had forgotten my spectacles.  They say spectacles.  Not sure why this is noteworthy, but I liked that they called them that.  So while Grumpy returned to the Oak Lodge Homestay to collect them, I went shopping on mainstreet.  I picked up a hand knit sweater for our current youngest son Adam (about to be dethroned of this title once his brother arrives) and a kiwiana charm for my Pandora bracelet.  Steve was given some fresh baked muffins for our trip, and then we were off again.


We were going to head up to Pancake rocks, but opted instead to drive South toward Glacier park, as we had been assured that the forecast was going to be clear and calm, assuring us glorious views of some of our natural wonders.

Low cloud rolled in about the time we had driven through Hokatika, and stayed with us for the rest of the trip through Glacier National park.




After a very brief stop we got back in the car with the intention of making it to Wanaka that evening.  We happened across a lone hitchhiker and picked him up.  He travelled with us until we got to Lake Hawea where we dropped him off at a very nice campground there.



After dropping off the German at the campground, we stopped to take this picture of the hills at dusk coming into Wanaka.


That night we stayed at the second most highly recommended accommodation on  The room was $260.00 per night with a King Sized bed, and no tea or coffee making facilities.  The hosts were very friendly, and the other guests provided excellent breakfast conversation the next day.

That morning we set off on the 5+ hour trek to get back to CHCH for our dinner reservation with our friend Erin.


We stopped at Lake Pukaki so Grumpy could have some Sashimi from the Salmon farm.  I of course could not partake as raw anything is a no-no whilst gestating.  Sigh.

It was a slightly hazy, but overall very clear and settled Autumn day and we got to take in gorgeous views across the lake and over to Aoraki/Mt. Cook.



Sometime later, I decided I was hungry, so we stopped in Fairlie in Mackenzie County for a cuppa and a bite.  We happened across some signs on the road as we arrived into the town and followed the short metal drive down to a gorgeous restaurant called The Red Stag.

The staff were friendly, the food was good, the decor was lovely, and I got to have cuddles with a 6 month old Jack Russell named Charlie.  Yet more fabulous to add to our already abundant supply.

We arrived back to Christchurch a little after 4:00pm on Sunday.  We’d decided not to book accommodation, but to stick with our winning strategy of arriving at the second most highly recommended establishment according to This happened to be a luxury self contained apartment called Sumner Re Treat for $195.00 per night.  Well, let me assure you, we will be returning to Christchurch in short order, and this is where we shall stay.

The landlady was out when we arrived, so the pub downstairs gave us a hot drink while we waited for her to return and let us into the apartment.  She ended up taking us upstair to a tastefully decorated second floor apartment that would not have been out of place on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

The linen was gorgeous, the kitchen was amazing, the lighting plan throughout was fantastic.  Being seasoned travellers as we now consider ourselves to be, we can honestly say this was one of the most luxurious and best valued nights we have spent anywhere. Ever. I’m not kidding.

That evening we ate at a restaurant in Riccarton called Dux Dine with a menu designed perfectly for Grumpy’s dietary requirements and peculiar tastes.  The establishment serves no meat, only vegetarian and seafood.  It also recently went through renovations to become more wheelchair accessible, which was great, as our dinner guest Erin is not only in a wheelchair, but an active accessibility campaigner (among other amazing achievements).

Dinner was divine, although dessert was more than a little disappointing.  Grumpy ate so much he suffered a food hangover that lasted two days.

The next morning we had excellent coffee and went for a drive to the top of a hill in Sumner.  Neither of us had been out to this coastal suburb since the earthquakes of September 4th, 2010 and then the big one on 2/22/11.  It was wrenching to say the least.  Three years on from the event, and houses still teeter on the edge of the cliffs.  Swaths of the neighbourhood sit dark alongside perfectly safe and populated houses as a reminder of mother nature’s immense power and indiscriminate destruction.


So, in a little more than 72 hours, we managed to get a small taste of what is referred to by the locals as “the mainland” of New Zealand.  We will absolutely be back for more, and intend to take all four Hobbit children on a 18 day road trip from the very tip of the North Island to the very bottom of the South in our long range Electric Vehicle, the Tesla Model S.  We’ve been waiting on delivery of this family friendly EV for nearly two years now, but that is a story for another day.

Thanks for tuning in.






Dee’s Vows – 14/02/2014 – Valentines Vow Renewal

Aside from myself (and our children), I know you better than any other soul on this planet.  I know your fears, your faults, all the wonderful things about you that keep me falling in Love with you over and over again – even after all these years.


Here we are listening to some speeches at the very relaxed ceremony

There is a great irony; that you, my “atheist” husband, give and restore my faith and hope in so many magical and inexplicable things.

I can honestly say, that you – despite all your failings, and all our fights and all the mistakes we’ve both made, rekindle my belief in God, Love, Immortality and maybe even in Superpowers.

Your kindness.

Your humility.

Your calm and logical approach to even the most complicated and terrifying situations.

Your intelligence.

Your ability to do maths!  To a brain like mine, that’s bordering on mysticism.


Steve was called in for some IT support at the Treehouse before the ceremony

These are your just some of your super-powers.

And when combined with my super-human capacity to be a bossy miss fix-it, and desire to save the world one person or cause at a time, we have made a fairly formidable team.

You give me the strength and resources to busily go about attempting to change the world in big ways and in small.  You support me in every single effort – even those that you know are destined to failure because I often lack your ability to think or plan things out or think logically and plainly about “details” or “consequences”.


Have been holding this hand for many years now…

Living our lives the way we do has, at times, made either one or both of us very vulnerable.  Trying to make a difference in this world and in the lives of others leaves us wide open to scrutiny, and at times, the alterior motives and agendas of some less than forthright or ethical people.  And sometimes I get tired.  Because I wonder if all of our trials and efforts are in vain.

But then, every night, I lay down next to you.

Sometimes we even talk (other times we just DM or facebook…) and when we talk, we talk about our friendships and our family, and we talk about so much that is wrong with the world and so much that is right… And how unbelievably lucky we are to have eachother, and what we can do next to make the world a little better.

Somehow, we have earned the Love and respect of good people who are fighting just as hard as we are to make a difference where and how they can.  And no matter what gets thrown at us, or who or what breaks our hearts – we keep on living this crazy, busy, geographically diverse, and amazing life together.  Striving for the same things and enjoying so many adventures as we do.


Short, sweet and often hilarious speeches


Gorgeous group of ladies who have been there for me for a very long time and through a great many ups and downs.

Today, as we stand here in front of so many of our friends and family to affirm the vows we made more than a decade ago – I want to thank you – openly and publicly and with all my heart for being the absolutely amazing force for good in mine, and so many others’ lives.

Believing, as we both do, in some sort of karmic balance that can positively affect the world around us the good in our hearts and actions, or teach us what we need to learn –  I wonder what on earth I could have ever done to deserve a Love like ours.

Despite all my faults, the emotional rollercoaster I seem to constantly be riding, all of my many mistakes, and my occasional but impressive proclivity to fly completely off the handle – you stand firmly by me.


You make me feel like the most beautiful woman in the world.  You patiently wait for my dark days and depressive episodes to pass.  You take my hand and share in the euphoric highs that I sometimes get to enjoy.

You are helping me every day to raise three (and soon four) of the most amazing little humans I have ever met.


With Daniel, our eldest


Stephanie-Jane – our only girl


Adam – our own little Batman and total firecracker. He did summersaults and busted out some rad dance moves throughout the ceremony and the day.

I know I nag you sometimes, but you are the most wonderful father and role model and we are all so blessed to have you.

I could go on for hours, or even days about just how much I Love and appreciate you and all the reasons why.

I’ll wrap this up with a couple of facts about our journey, because I think it is really important that people know that happily ever after takes a phenomenal amount of work.

Because we’re pretty much an open book and live our lives out loud (or I do and you kinda have to follow my lead) there’s no secret that we’ve both done some epically dumb stuff over the years.

We’ve had some fights that one or both of us thought might have been the end of our relationship – but somehow, we both choose to fight for our Love and keep standing together – till death do us part.

Being married and sharing this life means choosing each other, in the face of temptation, boredom, adversity, doubt, and even anger and regret.  Through the many changes we have gone through as individuals and as a couple – we have been strengthened by the trials that threatened to tear us apart.

The reward for these efforts cannot be reasonably elucidated, even with my extensive vocabulary and propensity for prose!

The reward is waking up nearly every single morning to a warm and familiar set of arms.  The reward is having someone to share every trial and triumph with.  The reward is a kind of immortality that comes from not just creating the lives of our children, but gently encouraging them to be the funny, moral, kind, caring and responsible people that we are both so proud to watch them become.

We are two halves of something whole.  I don’t make any sense without you and I think your light shines a bit brighter with me by your side.

Like you always say:

Neither of us is anywhere close to perfect, but we are absolutely perfect together.

Thank you for the last ten years. And I can’t wait to get on with the rest of our lives, and I’d hazard an unquantifiable guess, the rest of eternity with you.