Birthdays and such

Stephen, Bronwen and I went to Auckland over Queen’s birthday weekend to help my niece Esther celebrate her first birthday. Esther and her older sister Iris (who is just about to turn 3) are lovely girls and I am really enjoying watching them grow up, albeit mostly from a distance.

Iris is a feisty wee thing and likes to try her parents’ patience. Favourite activities include squealing at the top of her lungs, fully undressing as often as possible, stealing food (poor Bronwen coped this one) and the odd bit of biting. But beyond the less desirable personality characteristics, Iris is a charming and engaging little girl. She talks heaps and knows a lot about the world around her. She is confident and cheerful and happy to go with the flow. Esther is very different from Iris. She is a very placid kid. While we were there, she seemed content to putter around the house behind the Iris-Bronwen-Tornado, happily playing. She’s very cute and cuddly – I was reminded how nice it is to have a small child crawl into your lap, and hold on for a snuggle.

The Frompson-Thompsons: Fleur, Esther, Gerard, Iris, Bella the Dalmatian, Bebe, Bronwen, Stephen

The other fun and interesting aspect of this visit is that I was able to meet up with my sister Gillian, whom I have not seen since my own children were babies. Gillian has been in Japan for most of the 15-odd years since I last saw her. That, plus the fact that she’s always been a bit reclusive and not well-inclined towards me has meant that even when we have been in the same city and country, we haven’t caught up. It was nice to chat. Gillian and Iris have a special bond that only they understand (my sister never expressed any interest in children in any way). It is very endearing.

I find that the older I get, the more I appreciate that my family is an important part of my life. When I left home at the tender age of 16, babe under my arm, I decided that I would make a family of my own – I felt disillusioned by my family of origin. I stayed that way all through my twenties and thirties. And now, almost in my forties, I am gaining a new appreciation of that strange assorted bunch of people I call my kin. I might even call it fondness, but let’s not go crazy.

Esther and Bebe and Gillian

I’ve been thinking

Well I’m back, blogosphere! I took a couple of weeks off blogging after the 30-day challenge. This was partly because I needed to wait until I had something to say, and partly because I’ve been so damn busy. What have I been up to, I hear you ask.

My weeks are full: Mondays is my ice hockey game, Tuesday is ballroom dancing class, Wednesday is futsal, Thursday is my regular meeting, Friday is a rest day (wahoo!), Saturday is skate school, and Sunday is ice hockey practice.

Phew, I’m exhausted just looking at the list. Add to this work, running, gym, spending time with Stephen, Bronwen, Wyatt, Megan, trying to catch up with other family and friends, running a household and you can see that I have a very full life! Sometimes I just can’t do all these things and have to have a day off here and there, but in general I love my life. I love the busy-ness of it all.

On another note, my father’s wife Lorraine died on Thursday night. She had a massive heart attack and dropped dead on the bathroom floor. My father found her two hours later, and spent half an hour doing CPR waiting for the ambulance to arrive. It breaks my heart to think of how he must have felt in that 30 minutes.

My father and I are not super close, but I feel so sad for him. They were together for 10 years, and in that time he has been the happiest I’ve ever seen him. In their mid-60s, they had both just started winding down their working lives, and had big plans for traveling around in a van my father had fitted out for this purpose. I worry what will happen next.

This is going to sounds hugely cliched, but it reminds me once again to live life to the full. I don’t ever want to put my dreams on hold, thinking I have plenty of time.

That thing you’ve been thinking about getting on to that thing that will make you feel good, or make someone else smile, go and do it now!

Saturday

I barely know where to start…

I spent a wonderful Saturday doing the usual Saturday-ish things: skate lesson, breakfast with my Frayles, more skating, and then home for lunch. This weekend we had a full contingent of add-ons for lunch. Antony, Grace, Wyatt, and Megan and her new man James were there, and me, Stephen and Bronwen as usual. It’s lovely to spend time all together and realise that once all the marriages shake down, I will have two new daughters and Stephen will gain a son, two daughters and a couple of grandkids to boot.

On Saturday night, Stephen had arranged a lovely picnic tea for us watching the sunset at my favourite place in the world – Halswell Quarry Reserve. It’s a place of peace and serenity for me. We almost didn’t make it in time to watch the setting sun. It’s a bit of a climb up to our favourite perch, and we scampered up there just as the hues were starting to shift.

We sat on ‘our’ bench seat and munched our sandwiches and watched the beauty before us. Feeling happy and grateful, I turned to Stephen and said “I’m so lucky to have you”. In response, he pulled a box out of the picnic bag, knelt in front of me (with the beautiful sunset behind him remember) and formally asked me to marry him. I said yes in amongst the kisses and tears.

And as the light turned and it got dark, we wandered back down and off to find a comfy beanbag to curl up into together to watch Top Chef.

Saturday was about as perfect as a day can be.

This and that

It amazes me how much life can change in such a short space of time. A year and a half ago, I was living alone in an apartment in the city, I had just started a new job after just having returned from an extended jaunt abroad. I was happy-ish, but a bit lost, wondering what the heck I was going to do with my life. I had a feeling of being surplus – what was my mission, my goal?

Then blamo! Everything changed. First, I became a Nana. It didn’t materially change my life much at all, but it made me feel differently about thinking-forward. I had another whole generation of people that I could have an influence on. I started to reshape myself around the idea of being Nana to baby Wyatt. What kind of Nana was I going to be? Cool, of course. Involved. Caring, present, but not ‘in-your-face’, playful, but still strict-ish. So now I was Brigid-Bebe-Mum-Nana.

And then in February 2009 (on Valentine’s Day, in fact), after seeing the movie “He’s Just Not That Into You” I decided I needed to shake things up some more. I wanted to meet someone to share my time with…

I made a list. Someone had once told me that if I wanted something, I should think about what form I wanted it to come to me in, write down what I desired, and then put this out to the universe and wait. I had just read a book about a women who describes doing this: The Wishing Year, so I was feeling inspired. I made a list of all the characteristics I wanted in a potential mate. All the really big important things (intelligence, humour, looks, secure, doesn’t want more kids…) and all the little incidental things that seem like just a bonus, but help to sustain a relationship over time (wants to travel, likes nerdy things…). Some of the things on the list seemed silly to put there, but hey, it was a wish-list so I figured I might as well go all-out.

I met Stephen online a few days later, and we started dating in March. Without an exception, he ticks every item on my list.

An ode to love

Antony, Wyatt, Bebe, Meagle

When my children were babies, I looked into their eyes and wondered who they would become. They had an unfolding future that was unimaginable to me. I worried for the world they were growing up in and for the people they might become. I didn’t know how I would get through the terrible-twos and the even-more-terrible-teens. But gazing into their little faces, full of possibilities and potentials, I fell in love with each them. And now my children are 18 and 21 years old, all the imagined futures are past, and they are adults; fine people. I am so proud.