Nana

I’ve been thinking about my Nana a lot lately. I think it’s because my grandkids are now getting to the age that I was when I spent more time with her, and I’ve been thinking about what kind of Nana she was compared to the Nana I am.

In honour of my Nana, I’ve been working on two projects – one I made for her birthday (26 October) and one that I am still working on.

With the help of a friend, I designed and made a “Nana” apron – a pinny that has big pockets on the front that I can wear when I’m baking. I love it. I called it my Dot apron. The thing I love most about it is that it has a crossover back that doesn’t have straps – it’s unfussy and easy to slip on and off. Now when I bake, I can think about Nana.

The second Nana-inspired project I’ve been working on its a crocheted Nana blanket. When each of her grandchildren were born, my Nana either knitted or crocheted them a blanket – knit for boys and crochet for girls. I still have my Nana blanket, and Antony’s was the last that she made. They are both so precious to me. So obviously I am well behind – Wyatt is about to turn 10 and he has no blanket yet!

Rather than starting with Wyatt and Arlia, I am making myself a blanket first as a tester. I am making the same style as my Nana blanket, made up of 100s of Peggy squares. I’m aiming to make a knee rug of a 100 squares, and trying to do one a day (sometimes I skip days and do multiples when I can). So far it’s taken me two months, and I’ve completed 65 squares. I’m well on track to be finished by winter!

I am inspired by my Nana everyday.

 

Blog, I missed you!

Poor old blog – I posted a great plan for the year and then just got on with it! Now it’s October and I realise I haven’t blogged all year.

So, what have I got to say for myself? It’s been a busy one!

In August last year I joined the Dallington Residents Association, as they were looking for new members and a new secretary. I put my hand up for the job. I blogged about that here.

Then in May this year, the Chair resigned and I found myself in the role of interim Chair (and voted in as the new Chair following the AGM in May). It’s been a big learning curve for me to be involved in local community politics, and hugely rewarding. Our committee is a group of very dedicated and long-serving members of our community – they’ve been very supportive and helpful as I learn the ropes. I couldn’t ask for a nicer bunch of people to work with.

It’s lucky that I really love doing this work, because it’s like a second part-time job! I probably work 10-15 hours a week on top of my ‘real’ job; attending meetings, keeping in touch with people, helping to plan activities, representing the committee in discussion of local issues.

It’s probably good that I’m a sticky-beak!

2018: The year ahead

I haven’t really bothered with goal-setting for the past few years. Stephen and I plotted out some substantial goals after we got married and purchased the house, and we’ve been slowly working our way through those. We have fixed up the kitchen and tidied up most of the rest of the house.

This year the big goal is to renovate the main bathroom, and convert the laundry into a butler’s pantry with a side of laundry. The bathroom planning is well underway and should begin in the next month or so.

In order to pay for this, we have opted for little NZ-based trips only this year. We’ve planned our usual Tekapo trip for August, and will go to Auckland for Armageddon. Other than that, we will stay close to home. We are going camping in Akaroa for a few days in February, and then nothing else is on the horizon for the time being.

Personally, my main goals are around fitness and health. I’ve been working on my abs with some pleasing results, so I will keep that going. I have signed up for the City 2 Surf again this year, so have started training for that. I would like to bike more this year. The roads are much better these days, with some good cycleways between home and work. The only issue I am having with that is how to manage the rest of my life around a bicycle. Typically I go either to the gym or out after work each night, and lugging all my gear around on a bike just makes the whole thing much harder! I have committed to regular biking to work in February and then I’ll see how it goes after that.

At the end of last year, I made the decision to cut down the amount of dairy and meat I was eating. I am almost entirely dairy-free now, and eating mostly fish and a little bit of chicken. I would like to keep that up for this year.

For work, my goal is to learn as much as I can, and be as awesome as possible. I really feel like I am still getting to grips with how it all works, so this year I will be concentrating on what I can do to work at my peak.

As with other years, my focus will be on achieving a good balance between family, work, fitness, and hobbies.

Year in review: 2017

It has been a year of changes for me this year. I’ve continued with the theme of doing less and saying no more, but also taken on some new challenges.

January: The Frompsons go camping for new year, followed by a few days in Kaikoura for Stephen and I. We take Wyatt and Arlia to Auckland for a holiday. We get Hue bulbs for our house … the beginning of home automation. My training for the 2017 City to Surf begins.

February: This month starts with another trip to Kaikoura for Stephen and I for Waiting weekend. I take Wyatt and Arlia to Flip Out, my first trampolining experience. Canterbury experiences one of the worst fires we’ve ever had – it burns for weeks. More training for the City to Surf, my running legs are coming along nicely. I travel a bit for work. We commemorate the earthquakes once again, six years on now. Stephen and I have a lovely mini-break in Hanmer. We prepare for the arrival of the Nintendo Switch with some epic MarioKart battles on the Wii.

March: We celebrate six years married with the traditional gifts of sugar and dinner out at Spice Paragon (same as last year, yum!). We stay up until midnight for the release of the Nintendo Switch – it’s as epic as I imagined it would be. Zelda Breath of the Wild is amazing. Christchurch Armageddon is on Mario Day (Mar10), so I make my own Mario costume. I run the City to Surf with a great time, super proud. We finish our Grade 4 hockey season in third place, just managing to avoid the wooden spoon.

April: I begin this month with a lovely retreat in Brunner (it rains). Stephen and I travel to Napier to check out the Art Deco and the Dixie Chicks. Megan and I make Anzac poppies for the family and we attend the commemoration at Prebbleton with the Mount Albert Thompsons. Antony buys a house!

May: Megan and I travel to Auckland for the Green Day concert – it’s a life milestone for me. I resign from Synapsys and get ready for a new role at Regenerate Christchurch. After nine years it’s time to move on. Bronwen gets her driver licence.

June: We have a lovely visit from the Sydney Thompsons. My work with Synapsys finishes with a lot of stress and travel, business as usual. I start my new job on the 19th, it makes my head spin. Stephen and I have a great little break in Hokitika.

July: Knitting Club turns one, we have a knitting party to celebrate. I spend time getting to know my new job. We publicly release our draft concept for Cathedral Square – our team’s first big milestone. I get an adorable new iPad Pro (and so does Antony).

August: We have an awesome Frompson hockey holiday in Tekapo. I join the Dallington Residents Association and become its secretary. There is lots of work, gym, kids, fun.

September: Arlia turns seven! Stephen and I take an awesome mini break in Hanmer, so relaxing. The sun comes out, the flowers bloom. It’s a quiet month.

October: I take a mini break on my own to Auckland, Bronwen turns 17, Stephen, Megan, Bronwen and I attend Auckland Armageddon – the best one yet! John Barrowman! We have an election and finally a Labour government. Prime Minister Ardern is amazing. The Dallington Residents Association holds a very successful public meeting to discuss the land use options for the red zone – big decisions ahead! Megan and I have a fun roadie to Timaru and watch some roller derby.

November: We have our annual epic birthday celebration, this year we are 9, 29, 45, 47, 65, 71. I get bitten by a spider on my toe and it just won’t go away. Megan and I attend outdoor Love Actually. I sign up for the 2018 City to Surf.

December: Megan announces her move back home – a year away was plenty. We move her out and temporarily into Squirrel and Herman’s. The East Frame walkways open, as does the New Brighton playground and new whale pool. I finish Breath of the Wild. The spider-bitten toe still won’t heal – I’m waiting to become Spiderwoman. Christmas is quiet, followed by a very low-key holiday break. We prep for family camping.

Looking back, it’s been one of the quietest years I’ve had in a long time. We had some good family and couple holidays, but not as many as usual. Changing my job has meant heaps less work travel, which feels luxurious. My focus for the year has been getting fit, learning new things and spending time at home. It’s been wonderful.

 

It’s been a wild ride

I’ll post up my review of the past year in the next few days, but I just wanted to take a moment to reflect on the last few months. It’s been amazing, but so busy. I’m amazed at how much mental bandwidth it takes to start a new job! After six months, I think I’m a just starting to get the hang of it. New people, new routines and new skills is a challenge, but I’ve also needed to learn a whole new language! My new job comes with its own database of information that I really don’t know much about at all. I’ve really loved getting a crash course in these, and I am lucky to have patient workmates who are happy to explain their areas of expertise to me.

Regeneration

I took an opportunity the other day to wander through the Otakaro Avon River Corridor (residential red zone). I wanted to get a sense of it – where it’s up to and how its looking. Before I note my impressions, here’s the back story.

Stephen and I recently joined the Dallington Residents Association. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for ages, but just haven’t had the time. With Stephen less involved in hockey, and me travelling and working less, now seemed a good time. So I answered a call for a new DRA secretary. It’s a great little group with some good ideas, but maybe lacking direction and a bit out of touch with the resident population. Dallington has changed massively since the earthquakes. We lost approximately half our residents, and I suspect that a lot of those were older people. Demographically, Dallington is now a young suburb, with almost half of the residents being under 30. That’s in stark contrast to the DRA, where the average age is probably around 60. While the DRA has some great ideas about community events and beautification, I think it has been slow to react to the changes that the earthquakes have caused.

This month Regenerate Christchurch released a discussion document for the various land use options its considering in the area. At our last DRA meeting, I suggested that we could hold a workshop for residents on the options, with the objective of producing a submission from the DRA on our view of the options. The committee agreed, and that workshop is scheduled for 31 October.

So this is why I found myself wandering along the new Otakaro bike trail thinking about regeneration.

And what was my sense? It’s a beautiful place. The river looks as though its well on the way to regeneration all on its own, taking parts of the neighbourhood with it. And that feels right. Maybe for this area, regeneration means letting the river find its place again. Maybe it’s about giving the land a chance to settle, and then we can figure out what bits to give over to the river, and what bits we can use again.

I stopped along my walk to look at the plants and trees that now delineate the house boundaries.

In my logical brain, I look at the land and understand that its an valuable asset. We can’t realise that asset unless we use it for something. But in my heart, I feel sad for the people who had to leave. I know some of them went willingly – they took their money and found more stable ground to rebuild on. But a lot of people left only because they had to. If that was my former home and I was faced with the prospect of it being sold on to new homesteaders, I’d be upset, and maybe angry. It seems too soon. Leave it alone for a while. Give people a decent chance to grieve.

How long does that take? It feels like seven years isn’t enough. It might take 20 years. Or fifty. Can we afford to wait that long? I think we can, out of respect for the people who were moved out.

Two months in…

I’ve been at my new job for two months now, and I’m loving it!

The first month was really just about getting my bearings – figuring out who everyone was, what they did, and what I did. The second month has been about getting into the flow of work and making sure my awesome team has everything they need to get on with business.

I don’t think I truely appreciated how stressful my previous job was until I left. With the benefit of two months of distance between me and Synapsys, I can see more clearly how difficult it had become to work there. My current job is busy, but nothing like the kind of craziness I dealt with every day at Synapsys. I would walk away from my desk each day feeling like I hadn’t even made a chink in the mountain ahead of me. And then there wild be a new, bigger mountain the next day!

It’s been challenging to get a crash course in a whole new subject matter, but also really interesting. What started out sounding like a different language is starting to make sense. And the staff at work  are genuinely committed to what they are trying to do.

I am so proud of what we’ve already achieved, and we have so many more adventures ahead. I can’t wait!

Out with the old…

I start my new job on Monday. No-one was more surprised than me when I handed in my notice at Synapsys. I loved my job and I loved (most of) my workmates. I wasn’t seriously looking for a new job, but when I saw a Programme Manager position, I applied without even thinking about it.

It’s frustrated me in the last couple of years that my job had become almost all-consuming – so intense that it didn’t leave much room for side projects. I’ve blogged lots of times about cutting back, doing less, keeping life simple. I’ve done it, but I haven’t liked it. I have seen all the amazing creative things going on around the city, but I haven’t been able to get involved. I’m hoping this new job will give me a chance to get my sticky beak into some of that stuff now. I’m super excited about that! And of course nervous too … it’s a hard transition to make going from being at the top of my game when I know what I’m doing, to knowing very little about the industry I’m moving into. But I am ready for the challenge.

I will really miss some parts of working at Synapsys – mucking in and getting things done together, knowing that when the shit hit the fan my workmates were there for me – professionally and personally. I must admit that I am surprised to find myself in the (rather large) Former Synapsys Employee Club. I thought I would be a lifer.

I’m not sorry to be leaving behind the timesheeting, the difficult clients, the travel, and most of all, trying to get things done on a shoe string with not enough time or staff. The past few years I’ve known I could do a better job every time if I had a bit more resource. That’s frustrating. I’ve had to learn to walk away from “just good enough” jobs. That’s okay sometimes, but I didn’t like that it had become the norm.

So onwards and upwards for me! Eek!

Good Riddance (time of my life!)

Man it's been a busy few months. I feel like I have barely had time to breathe, let alone write anything. So this blog post is rather overdue!

Megan and I went to see Green Day in May. It was amazing. It's hard to find the words to describe what it means to me to have been there together, singing at the top of our lungs. For me, there is music, and there is music. Most of it I don't care that much about, but some music really means something. It's not just because the band is cool and the lyrics are good, but because of what it connotes. 

I started listening to Green Day the year I started university – 1995. It was a watershed year for me. I separated from my husband and made a decision that I needed to get serious about this growing up business – I had a 3 and 6 year old after all. Every day I would drop the kids off to school and pre-school, and then my day would be my own. I'd catch the bus to uni, and on the way, I'd plug into my Discman and switch my brain from Mum to independent young woman / student. The bus was like my transition zone, and Green Day was my companion in that transition. Green Day was the soundtrack to my changing life. 

Later, Green Day accompanied me while I struggled to get fit and lose weight – at first treadmill running with my Discman and then with my cherished iPod brick. It was always my go-to music to lift me up when I needed a boost. 

And of course my kids grew up listening to Green Day. It's something Megan and I had in common when she was an emo teen. It must have been horrifying for her to share her (very uncool) mother's taste in music. 

Being at the Vector "Spark" Arena together, singing along to every word, was powerful. It moved me to tears. And it was a really great concert – so epic to hear them live … I'd say one of the best times of my life.

Next post … all about the good riddance part…

Visiting the Art Deco capital of New Zealand

I achieved two bucket list items this weekend – visiting Napier and seeing one of my favourite bands live. 

I've wanted to visit Napier for the longest time, but have just never managed to get there – so many places, so little time! Years ago, I read about Napier's distinctive Art Deco buildings and wanted to go see their magnificence in person. After the Canterbury earthquakes, my interest was renewed – how does a city that's been flattened by an earthquake look after it rebuilds? 

The majority of Napier city buildings were destroyed by an earthquake and subsequent fire in 1931. The rebuild started almost immediately, and took place at the height of the Art Deco period. And 85 years later, it still contains 140 of the original 165 buildings built during this period. That's a remarkable achievement in itself – the city has ensured that the buildings have been carefully preserved – they are so colourful and interesting! 

We took a great walking tour of the city – we purchased a pamphlet from the Art Deco centre and meandered our way around, reading about the buildings' history as we walked. It was a very well-done tour that would benefit from becoming more digital – an audio tour, or even QR codes on buildings would be fun. 

One aspect of the building decoration that I found really interesting is the prevalence of Egyptian motifs. In the pamphelt, this is explained by the fact that Tutankhamen's tomb had been discovered in 1922, and interest in ancient Egypt was high.  If you look at some of the patterns on buildings, you can certainly see the influence. 

I thoroughly enjoyed Napier – it absolutely lived up to my expectations.