A Spring Wedding

At the end of October, Tall’s little sister married her lovely fiancé in a wonderful ceremony at The Farm. The day we arrived was wet and windy, and Tall’s mother was a little bit stressed…but the wedding day dawned sunny and bright, and the weather held out for a beautiful day. Our biggest was a very proud, and very handsome, page boy, and our littlest looked pretty suave in his shirt and tie.

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FIVE

Today is our fifth wedding anniversary.

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So much has happened in those five years. We’ve travelled to 15 different countries, moved back to New Zealand from England, bought two houses, and welcomed two awesome little boys into our family. We’ve eaten at a Michelin-Star restaurant, learned how to hang wallpaper, and spent the past 1826 days loving each other as best we can.

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And every one of those 1826 days, I’ve pinched myself because I still can’t quite believe how lucky I am xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

(Photos by Sinead Jenkins Photography)

A Love Story: today

(Start with A Love Story: in the beginning, A Love Story: the dating game and A Love Story: tomorrow)

As I slowly opened one eye and peered around me, my stomach started to tingle. I fumbled for my mobile phone. 6.23am. I sat up with a jolt, a grin spreading across my face. I’m getting married today!

I said a silent good morning to my husband-to-be, and briefly wondered how he’d slept, knowing that the answer was likely to be similar to my own: brokenly.

When I heard my niece and nephew in the kitchen above, I stretched langourously, rolled out of bed and tried to wipe the smile from my face as I went up the stairs.

In the kitchen I was greeted by a chorus of “Good mornings!” and as we all sat down for breakfast, those little butterflies started flexing and fluttering their wings in my stomach, energised by the sunny glow radiating from my heart.

Wedding1Two hours before the ceremony was to start, my mother, still in her dressing gown, was sitting at the sewing machine, finishing my dress. Armed with a needle and thread, my sister, my best friend and I took turns hand-sewing little tucks in the outer layer of the skirt. The photographer commented that she’d never seen a bride looking so calm and serene with an unfinished dress just two hours before getting married.

I laughed and said, with extreme confidence, “It’ll get finished. I’m getting married today.” I felt calm. I would have walked down that aisle in a paper bag if I’d had to; nothing was stopping me from getting married.

Finally in my dress, veil securely fastened, I grinned at my dad, and clambered into the waiting car. My stomach was in knots, but I chatted away with our driver about his car, about the weather, our travels, everything but the wedding.

Wedding2As I heard the opening bars of The Lark Ascending, I suddenly felt nervous for the first time. But I was impatient, too: impatient to walk across that grass to where he was waiting for me, impatient to say “I do”, impatient to be married.

I watched as my girls crossed the grass, and instead of waiting for my favourite part of the music to begin, I suddenly urged my dad on. “I want to go now!” I whispered to him urgently. He patted my hand and held me back a moment longer, and then we were walking past the trees, across the grass, past friends and family, to where Tall stood, smiling nervously as I approached.

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It drizzled at some point, but I didn’t really notice. My heels got stuck in the grass, but I knew my dress would hide it. I didn’t wait for Tall to repeat the vows before jumping in with my response.

There were probably a thousand other things that weren’t quite right, but I didn’t care. We were married.

And it was a perfect, perfect day.

Angela&Guy462~~~~~~~~~
Happy fourth anniversary to my wonderful husband.
Thank you for that perfect day, for all the days since, and all the days to come

xxxx

(Photos by Sinead Jenkins Photography, 2009)

A Love Story: tomorrow

(Read A Love Story: in the beginning and A Love Story: the dating game first!)

Tall’s mum came towards me holding a long velvet box. She asked if we could have little chat, and I nervously agreed, wondering if she was about to tell me that I couldn’t marry her son. Then she handed me the box, watched while I opened it, and told me the story behind the gold watch chain inside. Tall had been left a gold pocket watch by his great-great-grandfather, as they shared the same birth date, and the chain was to pass from his mum to his wife. I’d heard the story before, but to have my future mother-in-law passing the chain on to me that night was very special indeed. To know that Tall knew in those early days of us dating that I would be the recipient of that chain…well…that always gave me the chills.

When Tall and I said goodbye, I couldn’t hold back the tears any longer. I clung to him, wishing time would stop for just a moment, just for us, right here, right now.

He gently pulled himself away and stared down at me with a bemused look on his face. “Why are you crying?” He asked. “We’re getting married tomorrow!”

“I know!” I sobbed. “It’s just…I don’t want you to go…and I’m tired and I’m sure there’s something I’ve forgotten to do…”

Tall pulled me back towards him, smoothed my hair with his hand and firmly whispered, “Everything is done. I’ve got to go, but I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?”

I sniffed in response, and escaped down the stairs to dry my tears while my fiancé – nearly husband – left for dinner with his family.

In the spare room of my parents’ house, my brother’s old room, the room we’d been staying in since arriving back in Dunedin two weeks ago, I sat in silence, hiccuping away the tears and sniffing into a tissue. I thought of everything we’d managed to get done in the short time we’d been home, and the sudden realisation hit that it had all come down to this one day – no longer months or weeks away, but tomorrow.

I looked at the pile of socks, boxer shorts and tees strewn on the floor on his side of the bed. I smiled.

Tomorrow.

(Read part four here)

Tomorrow, that mess of laundry would be my future, my forever.

A Love Story: the dating game

(If you missed the first installment, here’s A Love Story: in the beginning)

He nonchalantly invited me to his work “art exhibition”. “As friends,” he insisted. “Because that’s what we are right now.” He was treading carefully, slowly; I’d been single only a matter of days.

He picked me up, ushered me into the exhibition, nervously introduced me to his flatmates and friends, some of whom I’d met before. His best mate grinned cheekily at me, and gave me a “I’ve heard all about you” kind of look.

Wandering around the art, I asked if he’d submitted anything. He pointed out a great photo of the sun setting on Stewart Island, and said there was another piece around somewhere, but I’d have to find it. When I did, I couldn’t stop laughing, and he was relieved.

“I was waiting to see if you’d find it funny or not before admitting it was mine,” he confessed. It seemed I’d passed the first test.

After the exhibition, we went for a coffee at a local cafe. We talked, almost non-stop, about ourselves, our families, our lives. When he told me that his parents were “pretty awesome” and that he was “lucky”, my heart danced just a little.

We ordered second coffees, at 10.30pm. We were both stalling, not wanting the evening to end. He protested when I paid for them but I insisted. “This is what friends do.” And when he dropped me home, we hugged, like friends do, but there was a pause, as though we were both wondering where we were headed next.

At 3am, I was lying in bed, wide awake, buzzing from too much caffeine, and thoughts of the night. My mobile phone beeped. “I had a really great time tonight,” he’d messaged. I grinned. “Me too!” I replied.

And so we were dating.

We went to movies and out for dinner. He paid for everything, insisted on it. Having spent the past three-and-a-half years with someone who refused to spend their own money but didn’t hesitate to spend mine, this was a refreshing change. We would talk for hours, about what we wanted our futures to hold. We promised to travel together, and we discussed children.

One night he suddenly told me that his mother wouldn’t like me. I was shocked. “Um…why?” I asked, not sure I wanted to hear the answer. “Because she’ll have to give you the watch chain,” he replied. “Huh?” I was confused. “Nevermind,” he said dismissively. “More wine?”

One night, as he dropped me home, he asked if something was wrong. I’d been quiet all evening. “I’m just sad about how angry and upset she is about us seeing each other,” I said sadly. “I never meant to hurt her, and now she won’t even speak to me.”

“Do you want us to stop seeing each other then?” he asked in an incredibly neutral voice. I couldn’t look at him while I tried to form my thoughts into words. “It isn’t fair that she’s not happy,” I began carefully. “But it wouldn’t be fair to me to stop doing something that makes me happy…so I’m going to be selfish for once, and maybe I’ll be sorry forever, but that’s okay, because right now, I’m choosing to be happy.”

He took my hand and smiled, relieved. “But promise me that if you’re ever not happy, you’ll tell me.”

I promised, even though I knew there was no need. I knew that a moment like that would never come.

(Read part three here)

Kindness Day

On Saturday, we joined loads of other Sisters in being intentionally kind in our community. If you haven’t already, read about The Sisterhood‘s National Kindness Day, and visit The Sisterhood’s Facebook page to be inspired by what others got up to.

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My grand plans for Kindness Day were halted somewhat by a sad little Pickle-shaped panda, who was struggling with a pesky tooth and a developing cold. I was hoping to bake for new mums, and join 13 other Dunedin mums in spreading some love in the local maternity unit, but my arms were full of baby, which made it a bit tough to bake. I was feeling a bit fretful, until the lovely woman coordinating the drop reminded me that I needed to be kind to myself, too.

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So I stopped worrying about what I couldn’t do, and turned my attention to what I could do.

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Before Tall headed off to play cricket, I whipped up a batch of chocolate fudge – a mighty good work out for the arms! – and nipped to the supermarket for wrapped chocolates. In little paper cups, wrapped in cellophane and tied with a bow, they became a sweet-looking little treat.

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Knowing that I’d need to do my drops while Pickle slept in the car, I packed a bag of kindness, hustled the boys into the car and set out. With no plan, just a desire to get Pickle sleeping. The plan would hopefully come later.

On Thursday, I sent a card to a friend, with a simple message, and also sent a little something to another friend to help fund her crafting habit. I suspect that I was a little late with my posting, and they might not have arrived in time, but the thought was still there!

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I was tempted to pull in for a fundraising car wash, but instead, stopped and gave two ladies and two girls promoting it a little cup of treats. My heart was pounding and I mumbled something incoherent, before escaping back to my car and speeding off. I was amazed at the sudden surge of adrenalin, the sensation of hot tears, and the feeling of having done something so nice. “Ooooh, that felt good!” I said out loud, to which Tiny replied, “It did, didn’t it mummy?”

We dropped some chocolate and a nice bar of baby soap in the letterbox of a young family up the road; I don’t know them, but know of them, and it felt nice to do something quite anonymous but knowingly useful.

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We left a book at a bus stop down near the university,

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and accosted a woman hard at work in her garden, handing over more chocolatey treats. She was so surprised, but really grateful, and it made me smile knowing she’d be enjoying a well-deserved Crunchie bar or two for afternoon tea.

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We dropped jars of homemade coriander spice rub in the letterboxes of friends, and left an hour’s parking in a few of the meters down by the hospital. I timed this drop to coincide with the maternity ward visiting hours, and we did a couple of sneaky laps of the car park to see people finding the coins.

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Lastly, we stopped at the local fire station and dropped chocolates off for the firemen. This was my favourite drop of the day, mostly because of the joy Tiny got from this experience. He gave the fireman the chocolates and they had a big chat. When he was asked if he’d like to sit in the fire engine, Tiny’s eyes widened. When he was asked if he’d like to “drive” the engine, his jaw dropped. And when the fireman gave him a cap, he just about burst with excitement. When I thanked the fireman, he said, “One good turn deserves another”, and I left with a huge smile on my face and in my heart.

That was what this was all about: kindness begetting kindness. Showing people that they are cared about, loved, appreciated. Little gestures with big outcomes.

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While I didn’t accomplish everything I set out to, it still felt amazing to be part of such a special event. Seeing what other people got up to throughout the day was wonderful, and I’m excited by the possibilities for future (personal or national) Kindness Days.

A huge, GINORMOUS THANK YOU to Sophie and LJ for all their hard work in making this day a possibility and a reality xxxx

~~~~~~~~~
Linking up with Meghan for

Loving

A Love Story: in the beginning

The night it all began, I was dressed as a wench and he wore a pirate hat fashioned from newspaper. When we arrived at the party, he was brandishing a plastic cricket wicket as a sword, lunging at us as we came down the front path.

Sitting around the brazier outside, I sipped punch and snuggled up to my best friend. Suddenly, he was beside me with a whole pineapple, daring me to take a bite. Not one to back down from a challenge – especially with the invincible cloak of too-much-alcohol surrounding me – I took the proffered fruit and took a bite, skin and all. He grabbed it back and, not to be out-done, took a bite himself. The next 15 minutes were a blur of hilarity as we giggled about how much it stung.

Then I had a fight with my boyfriend, and it was time to go home.

~~~~~~~~~
Weeks passed. Most Saturday nights, our friends converged at one of the pubs in town. I would spend my time flitting between the girls on the dance floor, and the boys at the bar; a friendship was developing that made me intensely happy. One night, I sent him a text as our taxi dropped us off outside a bar. His response that he was away made me suddenly sad; I shook the feeling off, but it stayed with me all night and I found myself heading home at an earlier-than-usual hour.

Two days later, as I was stretching at the halfway point of my daily 10km run, my best friend (returning from hers) stopped to stretch with me.

“He likes you, you know,” she said suddenly. “It’s pretty obvious.”

My heart leaped, but I laughed dismissively. “Well, he’d have to be an idiot if he thinks I’d go there,” I scoffed. “I’ve got a boyfriend, and besides, I know how she [a good friend of ours] feels about him.”

We ran on, but instead of thinking about nothing as I usually did when I ran, I couldn’t get her words out of my head.

~~~~~~~~~
A few weekends later, my boyfriend was away. I was relieved – I’d been miserable for months, going through the motions of being in a relationship, of living with someone I didn’t love. He was prone to bouts of angry depression and manipulation, and nothing I did seemed to make a difference. I felt smothered, trapped, controlled.

It was 5am, the end of a big night in town. “I like you,” he said. “I really like you. I don’t usually say things like this, but this time, I had to say something…”

“Thank you for telling me,” I replied slowly. “That’s a really brave thing to do. But it’s complicated…I have a boyfriend…” Then I found the words tumbling out of my mouth, and he was the first person I told how miserable I was.

“I’ll email you tomorrow,” I promised as we parted company.

~~~~~~~~~
I emailed my sister. I asked for her advice. Her words have stayed with me for the past almost-nine years: “Does he offer you more mentally? emotionally? physically? If the answer is yes, then I think you know what to do…”

I composed another long email and with a shaking hand, pressed send. My stomach lurched, and I tried to concentrate on my work, but I was anxiously waiting for that familiar ding of a new mail notification. I checked the volume on my computer. I reinstalled the notifier, just in case. When there’d been no reply by 5pm, I began to feel sick, and a thousand “what ifs” ran through my mind

~~~~~~~~~
I was reluctantly forcing myself to eat dinner when my mobile bleeped.

“Our stupid email was down all day, so if you sent me anything, I didn’t get it…”

I released a deep breath that I didn’t know I was holding. My face almost broke with the wide grin that spread across it.

“That’s a shame, because I did, and it was a long one!” I replied. “I had a big think about everything, and if you’re okay with it, then…I choose you.”

There was a long pause.

Then: “Seriously? That’s so cool! Are you sure? I was waiting all day for it to be fixed. This is the longest text I’ve ever sent!”

(Read part two here)

Stealth Mission: Ninja Cookie Drop

On Saturday and Sunday, unsuspecting women all over New Zealand would have wandered out onto their front doorsteps or out to their mailboxes, only to find a little package of love, stealthily left by an unknown ninja.


Inside these packages, they would find an array of delicious baked treats, along with a copy of this poem:


Hopefully they would have no idea of the ninja baker who’d been crafty in their mission, or how they came to be the recipient of such sweet, sweet (or savoury!) goodness.


On Friday, I spent the day baking for the three women I had the pleasure of ninja-baking for.

Let me drop a few stats for you…

Butter softened: 460g
Flour sifted: 2 1/4 cups
Sugars creamed: 6 1/4 cups
Chocolate melted: 100g
Oven on 180degC for: 44 minutes
Number of times beater washed: 3
Number of times Tiny asked “What’s that on you?”, meaning my apron: 12
Number of babies who slept through the entire process: 1
Emergency trips to the store: 1
Number of times forehead slapped for forgetting I have Ninjabread Men cookie cutters: 3

I lined trays and pans. I creamed butter and sugars. I sifted flours and cocoa powder. I folded and spooned and flattened. I cooled and iced and decorated.


I made a delicious, powdery mess all over the bench, the floor, and myself. For once, I didn’t burn myself on the oven or the trays.


I danced to terrible radio music and let Tiny lick the beater for the first time, and the smell of good things baking filled the air.


When everything had cooled and set, I packaged them up with love and care, attaching recipes and poems with brightly coloured ribbons.


And I gleefully planned my ninja attack. Should I wear black, and a ninja-style mask over my face, in case I was spotted? Should I go for the safe option of the letterbox, or be bold and try for the front porch or by the front door? Should I run like the wind if approached, or calmly try and fudge my way out of it?

When I received my email from HQ with the details of my ladies, I breathed a sigh of relief that I knew none of them, and that they wouldn’t know me. I had envisaged dropping baking off at a friend’s, and being seen, unable to think of a viable excuse as to what on earth I was doing.

On Saturday morning, I was in the car just after 9am, off on my first drop. I took Pickle as my look-out. He fell asleep on the job.

As I approached the first house, I felt nervous butterflies begin to flutter in my stomach. What if I’m seeeeeeeen??! I squealed silently. It was a house down a driveway, with the letterbox at the road-front. YUSS!

Second house – curtains closed. Sweeeeeeet. Still, I drove away as fast as I possibly could, just in case.

Third house….I drove up slowly but inconspicuously; seeing no lights on in the front rooms, and no one in the front yard, I leaped from the car, dashed madly across the road, slid the package carefully into the letterbox and raced back to the car.

And then, I drove all the way home with a big, goofy grin on my face, and a little dance in my heart.

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To see what other ninja sisters baked, and to read the reactions of our deserving nominees, visit The Sisterhood on Facebook: warm fuzzies guaranteed!!

A massive THANK YOU to Sophie for organising everything – from the idea to the logistics. Girl, you are AMAZING xoxo

A Little Introduction…

I was going to be posting a 38-week update as my Things I’m Loving post today, but circumstances have changed which rendered that idea a bit redundant.

My bump looks a bit different, don’t you think?

Our little Pickle – 1 week old

[insert massive smiley face bursty heart here]

This little man surprised us all by arriving three weeks early, at 5.23am on Friday 22 June.

I am completely besotted with him. Totally, completely, utterly lost in love with him.

I love his little fingers and his dark, denim blue eyes. I love the smell of his super-soft skin, and the feel of his black hair under my palm. I love the little mewling sounds he makes just before he wakes up, and that he is most happy when asleep in my arms.

Sigh.

This week, it’s as simple as can be.

Loving my boys.

~~~~~~~~~
Linking up with Meghan over at MNMs

and with Simone over at Greatfun4kids

Love Bomb

The generous and huge-hearted Sophie over at Sophie Slim is preparing to release a Love Bomb!

“What on earth is a Love Bomb??”, I hear you cry.

Don’t be alarmed – this is a very, very, VERY good thing!

A Love Bomb is a wicked-cool way to (in Sophie’s own words):

“thank [some specially nominated ladies] for the amazing work they do, whatever that may be. We want to send these ladies a gift in the mail. Big or little, to say “Thank you. You are doing so well.” in the hopes that it would cause them to stop for a moment while a smile appears on their face. That’s all we want to do really. Just bring about a few smiles.”

Sounds like a pretty awesome thing to be a part of, huh?

Want to get involved and share the love? Then email: sophieslim@moo2.co.nz, and she’ll give you all the deets on how you can make a difference to someone deserving of a little lovin’.

While you’re at it, why not join The Sisterhood too? You don’t need to be rolling in cash or an excess of “stuff”…you just need a positive attitude and a desire to make a difference (big or small) in someone’s life, when you feel inspired by their story.

Because that’s what humanity is about, right? 🙂