The Best Bits

It is 3:38 am.

The baby woke me up and I can’t get back to sleep and I am just thinking about the bits that I like.

What do I mean?

Well, you know how there’s a bit in a bunch of songs that you like, and that’s your favourite bit? Or a bit in heaps of different movies that you like, or a bit about your kids, or a bit about food, or that bit about whatever activity that you can possibly think of that really makes you feel warm and happy and makes your brain think, ah, I really like that bit!

That is what I mean.

So, I am going to time myself and type freestyle till 4:00am about just some of the bits that I like:

  • That bit in Cat Stevens: “Can’t Keep It In” When he says: Now don’t you run don’t you hide… The whole song is one of my favourite bits from the very first note till the last one, I adore that song so much, but that particular bit is so great.
  • The smell of earl grey tea and the warmth of the cup in my hands as I sip it and feel relaxed and uplifted at the same time… I do like me some tea.  Yes sir-ee.
  • That bit in the Titanic movie when she realizes that wealth and “privilege” is kinda like its own prison, when she looks over and sees the young girl learning table etiquette. I’ve always liked that bit.
  • That bit when I walk in the door and my baby sees me, smiles and gives me massive cuddles.
  • That bit when I go away and someone watches the house for us while we are gone, and we get back, and it is pristinely clean and feels so good to be home.
  • That bit where we get to New York and head to the park to sit under our favourite willow tree by the turtle pond and give our baby their first ice block.
  • Any bit that involves newborn cuddles.
  • That bit when someone I thought didn’t like me says something absolutely complimentary. That’s a great feeling.
  • That bit when someone who I don’t have a great deal of faith in (so someone I don’t like very much) says or does something really awesome and cool and I can’t help but hold them in higher esteem for it. Pleasant surprises are so great when it comes to dealing with people.
  • That bit where I leave Steve in the hotel to watch the baby and I stand in line ALL NIGHT to hold his place in the line for the keynote at WWDC and meet at least five fabulous friends who are glorious geeks and we stay in touch FOREVER!
  • The key change in Woman in Chains, and watching how much all my children enjoy singing and dancing to Tears For Fears songs.
  • That bit where my eldest son delivers a wry/dry and hilariously insightful take on something that leaves me splitting my side laughing and beaming with pride at his comedic timing and ability to deliver some seriously excellent material as a total straight man. He’s been doing that as long as I can remember, basically since he could talk he has been a master of sardonic wit.
  • When my daughter snuggles in and hangs out with me and says “Guess what?… I Love you.” Heaps of times for no reason.
  • When she wins an award or certificate because, although she wins heaps of stuff like that, every single time she is SUPER excited and gracious and beaming with pride.
  • When my 4 year old just about loses his temper and brings it back and controls it and makes awesome decisions to be good and not lash out or lose it. And then he gets praised for displaying fabulous self control and he beams as bright as the sun about it and gives me huge four year old cuddles.
  • That bit when someone you respect says something nice about you behind your back and it gets back to you.
  • That bit when someone who was mean, or dishonest or bullied you turns their life around in some meaningful way and becomes a better human being, and maybe even contacts you to say: Hey, I know I was a jerk, and I am pretty sorry about that” and you can be super proud of how far they have come and you get to feel extra good about letting go of the pain they handed you, because in that moment you TRULY understand that hurt people hurt people, and it is always nice to see someone’s hurt healed up a bit or a bunch.
  • That bit where my husband pulls me into his arms and kisses me passionately in public and the kids are like: You guys are SO gross, everyone can see you!
  • That bit where I wake up in the middle of the night, and can’t get back to sleep, so I listen to my baby and my husband making sleeping sounds (tonight it was a symphony of snoring and James giggling in his sleep)
  • That bit where I look up at the clock and only have a few more seconds until I have to stop writing…

And those are just a small handful of some of the best bits… There are so many more best bits every single day.  And it was really nice to stop and just write some of them down.

Children, chores and failed chocolate chip banana cake.

Today is the birthday of one of my most FAVOURITE humans in the whole word. We’ve been friends for nearly two decades now. I am currently fighting with a banana cake attempting to make it look like a heart…

BananaCakeFail2 BananaCakeFail1

Not winning. We’ll be popping in to surprise her at her work later today.  We’ll deliver a cake (probably not this one though) and some cuddles. I am pretty confident writing about it, as she’s probably not going to read the blog during the day.

My beautiful friend delivering a speech as a bridesmaid at our Valentines day renewal.

My beautiful friend delivering a speech as a bridesmaid at our Valentines day renewal.


Steph LOVES her Auntie P.


Not a stitch of make-up and absolutely one of the most gorgeous creatures on earth. Here she’s helping get things organised. She’s good like that 🙂

My darling daughter absolutely adores her Auntie P (birthday girl) and insisted she help make the cakes. She helped, and she made a magnificent mess in the process.

The children are always keen to help cook and bake, and anything they see as fun. But when it comes time to clean up, they make themselves suspiciously scarce.

They have been asking me for a chores list so they know what to do and when for months and months. I wrote one for Stephanie that she referred to and observed her duties with impressive discipline.

Both the older kids are obsessed with the concept of pocket money. A couple of budding capitalists? I doubt it, but I have no problem with putting in place a reward system. Here’s what ours looks like, feel free to steal it and tweak it for your own purposes if you’re a parent.

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We also have a fines list, similar to the pocket money chores list only it is negative amounts. You get the idea. I won’t publish that as the things the kids get fined for at this point could be embarrassing to them one day, and I am mindful of the Internet making it tough for you to forget after you’ve put something in the public forum.

So I’ll edit and post this short little sneak peak into Hobbit life for the week, jump in the shower, and head into town to surprise our perfect princess P.

I think I am just going to buy a cake…

Have a great day wherever you are and whatever you are up to!


Births, Deaths, and Marriages

The Ministry of Internal Affairs (also known as Births, Deaths, and Marriages) sent us a letter last week, kindly (but firmly) reminding us that we had to register the birth of our new son and henceforth choose a name.

This hadn’t caused us any grief with the previous children, as we always pick the names months before the baby arrives. We’ve been tossing up between several combinations and second guessing ourselves this time though.

The letter is now sent, and our son is now saddled with the names we have chosen for him. Grumpy made the final decision and we’re sticking with the original choice: James David Leonard West.


So that’s done.

This evening I’ll be home on my own with all four kids. We’ll watch movies and eat popcorn together after I pick Daniel up from his drum lesson and ferry them to the mall so I don’t have to cook. Grumpy is out at a work party and then wants to get the 3D printer that’s been collecting dust for a long time now up and running.

Not ground-breaking stuff, I realise, but all this humdrum is mortar between the bricks that build my existence. I have mine, and you have yours, and that mortar is kind of what I want to talk to you about today.

Where was I?

Ah yes.

Mother in law was around a couple of days ago to hold James while I attempted to get a little bit of work done. While she was over, I mentioned that we’d all be coming to her house for dinner and to play cards with her and my father.

My mom and dad and mother in law all live together in a big beautiful house that we call the old folks home. It is only a few blocks from our house. For the most part, they cohabitate quite comfortably, and my mother in law and dad are both quiet and gentle types who like to watch sport and don’t make a lot of noise or fuss.

“News to me.” She said in her trademark soft but cranky tone.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about dad getting older and his mortality.” I said nonchalantly. “The way he talks, he expects he’ll be the first of all of you over there at the old folks home to go. He’s probably right too, as you’re too miserable to die and despite her food choices and hypochondria, my mother is as healthy as a horse. I adore my dad and want to play more cards and file more memories while I can.” I said.


My father is absolutely one of my heroes. Despite, or perhaps because, of the fact he had very little to do with me until we got here to New Zealand. He’s non-demonstrative, humble, patient, and works tirelessly helping others in countless capacities. He’s the closest thing to a living saint we have in our family, and he’s the last person to have any clue we all feel as much awe and respect as we do for him.

“He’s not well at the moment.” She shook her head gravely and filled me in on the terrible ongoing cold he’s had.

She then said something that I am still trying to process.

“And you know what really pisses me off.” She said. “Marie has gone and died.” She fumed.

Now, I need to take you back a few dozen steps and explain the relevance.

Mother in law has a group of women who she has known for decades. They’re a collective of artists and potters. They’ve seen each other through good times and bad. Mother in law is the eldest remaining member of the group by far, and recently the numbers have been dwindling.


She never tells us when one of them has passed and suffers through her grief quite on her own. I don’t understand it, however, she’s been a tough and independent woman her whole life, and I guess we all do what we know. She knows how to soldier on in silence. I don’t.

I adore this group of women on countless levels. I coined them “The Ya Ya Sisters” over a decade ago, as there was a movie about enduring friendship with that title.

Marie was an amazing woman and I was very fond of her indeed. I’d just seen her at our re-wedding, and news of her death was a shock. She’ll be missed.

It was strange that mother in law chose anger as the emotion of choice when she told me. Upon reflection, however, it seems very plausible that this was, and often is, the stage and emotion she cleaves to in times of grief and sorrow. She’s not one for pity parties or soft, squishy emotional stuff. She’s getting more comfortable with this stuff with me as a daughter in law though. I am all about the soft and squishy.

So this weekend we’ll be attending a funeral, a housewarming, and two young children’s birthday parties as the bricks and mortar of my life, and the lives of the people I love are built higher and stronger every day.

I don’t want to go into a big existential or philosophical rant or anything. I do, however want to take the time to say every moment, no matter how seemingly dull or insignificant, is fairly precious. I can’t say how far through the journey any of us are, and I don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow.

Sitting here listening to my husband snore and our son seemingly giggle in his sleep as I bounce his hammock and write this blog, I can’t help but smile and feel very much at peace indeed. They’ll both wake up soon and annoy me in their own expert ways though. Grumpy will likely say something that will hurt my feelings several times before he heads out the door and to work. James will do what all infants do and demand food and Love and completely obliterate any plans I have for being productive today. Then the children will walk in the door of our home and be noisy and messy. They will fight, and whine, and push my buttons and I will rant and rave and probably swear at them for it. And then they will settle down and snuggle with me in our big cozy bed and watch a movie. I’ll hear “I Love You” dozens of times and say it just as many today, just like every day.

All of this beautiful and complex chaos is life, which is punctuated by births, deaths and marriages and all of the moments in between.


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.

Why I’m Inspired by Introverts…

Why I Adore Introverts

There are so many misconceptions about introverts and extroverts.

There are thousands of articles and numerous definitions of introversion and extroversion.  I’ll sum up and Dee-ify it for you as best I can here:

Introversion and extroversion are at two opposite ends of a scale that Carl Jung used to help identify personality types in people.  Introvert’s thoughts, energies and activities tend to be focused inward.  Introverts “recharge” through quiet and introspection, and are generally drained or depleted by excessive external stimulation.  Extroverts view the world and themselves through external cues and stimuli.  Extroverts seek and process energy (and to a great extent understanding) from the world around them.  They tend to recharge and glean perspective through interaction with other people and interacting in social situations.  We all have bits of introvert and bits of extrovert in us that surface at different times and in different ways.  Most people have a tendency towards one end of the spectrum or the other, while some people have quite even proportions of introversion and extroversion.  Those people are referred to as ambiverts.


People think introverts are shy and extroverts are confident.  Neither of these things is strictly true.  I know introverts that are bursting with confidence, charisma, character, and credibility, and can (if they choose) have a crowd eating out of their hand.  These people are sometimes referred to as performing introverts.

Extroverts are also not always confident, and can often be terribly insecure indeed.  I am a quintessential extrovert; therefore, people assume whole-heartedly that I am confident.  The truth is, despite having extreme trouble using my “inside voice” in just about any situation, I suffer from crippling social anxiety issues.  Going to other people’s houses scares me and often ends really badly because I drink too much or talk too much (or both) because I am nervous and act like a total prat.  School pick-up is a nightmare and like running a gauntlet, even though I truly and deeply adore the friends I have made (particularly those at my daughter’s school Corelli, which is populated with amazingly diverse and talented kids who come from absolutely fantastic, supportive and engaged families) I still dread it.  But then, once I’m there and engaging with folks I know and have grown exceptionally fond of, it is generally a very pleasant experience indeed.

Over the years, I have engaged and nurtured relationships with many introverts and extroverts.  While both have their charms, advantages and pitfalls, I want to take a bit of time to share with you some observations, as well as my deep respect and gratitude for the introverts in my life and in the world.


Introverts are generally a lot more careful about who they consider friends.  Seeing as they only have a limited amount of precious energy that gets drained through interacting with other people, they tend to be picky about who they spend time and energy with and on.  This is opposed to extroverts, who my exceptionally introverted husband occasionally calls “energy vampires” and who make a lot of noise and take up a lot of “space” and suck that precious energy right out of people.  Sigh.  Yet we’re still happily married (most of the time) after a decade… go figure.

So I’ll break it down to five reasons I personally feel inspired and energized by the introverts in my life.  DISCLAIMER:  These are Dee’s personal insights gleaned from her own experiences, and probably have no scientific or empirical data to support them, but this is my blog. So Pfhfhfhfhfhfhfhfhfhlllllllttttt.

1)  Attention to Detail

The Introverts in my life seem to have a superhuman ability to identify and remember seemingly insignificant details that end up being spectacularly important in one way or another.


I’m thinking particularly of a few people as I write this.  I have a friend Ness, who is ALWAYS doing things for those around her.  She picks up on the tiniest cues that the people around her need something and is the first to rally around any of us.  Another fabulous introvert who I absolutely adore is Xanthe.  She’s beautiful beyond belief, and humble to a fault, and has the most unreal ability to make me feel special by paying close attention to detail and when we get a chance to talk, everything is so thoughtful and relevant!  Mind boggling to someone like me really.  Yet I am seriously thankful for them and others like them.

Introverts seem to listen to the things I say and remember them, and pull out gems of helpfully recounting things they have noticed at the most opportune times and make people feel very special indeed.

Extroverts are exceptionally helpful as well of course, but often take more of a bull in a china shop approach to tackling things, while introverts like the ones I have mentioned here tend to take a much softer and detailed approach.  Wish I could be a bit more like that.  But for now, I just really appreciate all you quintessential introverts who watch quietly and unerringly from the sidelines and pick up on important details that someone like me often misses.

2)  Humour

I don’t know if all introverts are freaking hilarious, but there are some that I know that quite literally bring me to tears of laughter.  I’m thinking in particular of Erin as I write this.  You don’t get much more introverted that this lady.  Not only is she a pathological over-achieving thrill-seeker (she like jumps out of planes and stuff) she is totally destined for a career in stand-up comedy.

I spent a weekend with her down in Christchurch not too long ago, and she kept me in stitches with stories of night-club shenanigans and being pushed down water-slides or out of airplanes.   Erin was born rather prematurely and she’s a twin.  Her and her brother (who I have yet to meet) are both very introverted souls.  Erin spends most of her time cruising around in a wheelchair as she’s got cerebral palsy.  If you try and lay a pity party on her because of this fact, her quick wit and significant intellect will quite frankly chew you up and spit you out and you may not even know it is happening.  Erin is nearly through a grueling law degree from Canterbury University.  She travels extensively and regularly jumps out of things like planes or buildings in her spare time.  And if you take the time to shut up and listen to her – she will tell you a story about any of these things that will make the muscles in your face hurt for days afterwards.


I once asked her if spending an entire weekend with an extrovert was kind of like going on a bender, as in, was it like having a bit of a hangover once I’d left.  Apparently – it is.  And I am unspeakably honored that she expends her precious introverted energies on me from time to time.  There aren’t many people who can make you laugh the way this girl does.

3)  Inside Voices

Even extroverts need some quiet time.

Another thing I adore about my introvert family and friends is the comfortable silence that can exist between us.  I can spend hours in the same house as a seriously introverted friend without having to say a word, and I don’t feel anxious about it.  The silence is comforting and just being in the same quiet calm as said introverts is rejuvenating.

4)  Different Perpective

Introverts have a very different take on life, Love and the universe.  While still waters can run very deep indeed, the introverts I know and Love don’t seem to have the same flair for dramatics and OTT actions and gestures as myself and the other extroverts we kick around with.

I quite liked this table I found on the Internet:


When I’m in need of advice, I find the introverted approach of “chill and think long and hard before you do anything rash or stupid” has saved my ass on many occasions.

Taking the time to talk about things with an introvert often means they’ll spend careful time considering a conundrum and generally offer a fabulously fresh perspective, and for that I am always thankful.

5)  Generally Lower Maintainance

This last point is a double-edged sword.

Introverts aren’t as quick as their extroverted counterparts to put their hands up and say “what about ME!”  Bearing this in mind, I’ve found that immense stretches of time can pass, years even, without any contact with my introverted kindred spirits (Russell, Tere, Sandra, Rachel to name a few).

Introverts tend to be more chill regarding spending time together, and accept online hang outs and the odd call or email as enough fuel to keep a perfectly meaningful relationship alive.  Considering how busy and self-absorbed I am, this is a blessing beyond measure.

Well… as usual, I could go on and on about this but will leave it there.  Trying to stick to a 1500 word maximum so I don’t bore anyone to tears and force them to stop tuning in for these meaningful meanderings of mine.

Hope everyone is well and the spirit of the holiday season is touching you in a good way and not contributing to too much stress or discontent.