Grandbabies

“No pressure,” I said to all my daughters.

“Take as long as you want. Only have kids when you’re ready.”

Translation: THERE’S NO WAY I’M READY TO BE A GRANDMA!

Then along came Harvey.

The little miracle who undid all my fears and captured my heart from the moment I held his tiny, tiny body in my arms.

He was born 7 weeks early, and right from the start he proved he was a winner.

While other babies struggled along with oxygen and drip feeds, Harvey broke all the records for independence.  He lapped up his mother’s milk.  Tore out the drip feed line from his nose. Waved his arms and refused to be wrapped.  Slept, fed, grew and came home after only 3 weeks in hospital.

Now he’s 6 months old. His solemn gaze when I first appear, and the gradual smile that spreads over his little face when he realises it’s Nan – they just melt my heart every time.

What a lucky little boy – to have such wonderful parents, learning and growing with him; To be a fighter and a winner; To have so many people who adore him.

Today I’m grateful for Harvey.  Who said I’m not ready to be a grandma?

Down the Stairs

Every time I trot down the stairs at the Remarkables Mall I remember that once upon a time this was an impossible dream.

Once upon a time I would slowly dot-and-carry down the unending staircase, clinging to the rail for support.

And every step was pain-full. Each step brought the possibility of failure.  

My knees were so sore that ordinary, everyday activity was a trial, and actually getting fit a far off dream.

At least once a week I had nightmares about being caught in the middle of traffic (with no clothes on, lol) with my knees just refusing to move.  

I was 55 and, as my 79-year-old mum remarked, I was even more decrepit than her. (Thanks, mum.)

And I am thankful beyond words that those days are behind me.  It has been a long road to recovery, without medical intervention, I might add, because although it felt so bad and limiting to me, I was nowhere near bad enough to consider any sort of surgery.

So with a combination of supplements , shoes, exercise and most recently acupuncture, I can do the aforementioned stair trotting any old time I please. 

And that’s why I’m so grateful, today, to go up and down the stairs.

Putting on my wedding ring

Today I’m so pleased to be able to put my wedding ring on again.  

On Christmas Eve the muscles in my arm, wrist and hand cramped up. It was awful: my fingers curled and my whole hand seemed to spasm. Ouch.  We were out walking at the time, so all I could do was massage my hand and fingers, trying to loosen them up.  (I also spent time worrying that there were no doctors open, the hospital was 90 minutes away, if my fingers started turning blue I’d have to call an ambulance…)

That didn’t happen.

By the time I got home the cramp had eased but my fingers were swelling.  

With the help of soap and hand cream I managed to take off my wedding ring.  You know me, I’m so good at losing things – I was terrified that I’d forget where I put the ring, so I took special note that I was putting it in the pocket of my toilet bag. (Memory tip: Speak what you’ve done out loud. Create a picture in your mind and give that picture a “clue” so that when the clue comes to mind, the picture does too. Sounds crazy, but it really does work.)

Anyway, fast forward to today.  After four acupuncture sessions I suddenly thought about my ring.  Did I remember where it was?  You bet.

I felt so grateful when I slipped it back on my finger.

3 Lists to Sort Out Your Day

Lists on notice board

You absolutely need a list.

Do you find it difficult to get things done? Do you end each day wondering what you achieved? Frustrated by the never-ending chores still looming? If this is you, the solution is clear: you need to make a list.

Why make a list?

Lists are an invaluable tool for creating order in your day and in your life. Your list lets you see the tasks to be done and set priorities so you don’t get overwhelmed.

When you follow a list you can master your day. You won’t find yourself spending hours on social media or mind-numbing TV. Your tasks are done,  and believe me, there’s nothing like the satisfaction of a crossed out list. If you’re a champion procrastinator, an over-worked parent or simply overwhelmed by life, a list could be the tool that saves the day.

Here are my top three essential lists.

The Daily Task list

This list organises your day-to-day life. Simply write down the tasks that you want to achieve during your day. I include everything – work, study, food, leisure, gardening, housework, walking the dog, visiting a friend, reading a book, checking Facebook. That way I get a balance in my day and don’t feel overwhelmed with hated tasks (housework!).     

Cross off each task as it is completed: there’s nothing like the satisfaction of a crossed-out list. What a lot you accomplished today!

Break it down

Break large tasks into specific jobs. Take a moment to think about a good order to tackle them and which ones could be multi-tasked. Maybe laundry is on your list,? Just put the washing machine on and then move onto another task. You can cross them both off together – two for the price of one, hooray!

If something unexpected comes up don’t stress. If friends call in, or your husband suggests “let’s go out for the day” say “sure!” and add it to your list. It might bump the housework down the pecking order, but that’s okay. Your list is a tool to help your life, not to stop you from having fun.

Finally – don’t beat yourself up if a few tasks are still undone that night. Smile and reschedule them for another time.

Weekly menu plan

At the end of a busy day, the last thing I want to do is decide what to have for dinner.

What’s in the cupboard? What did we have yesterday? Can I be bothered? It’s much easier to reach for the phone and order take-out.

But take-out every night is bad for your wallet, and terrible for your waistline.

What’s the solution? Make another list.

It takes a bit of practice to decide on your meals for a whole week in advance, but the savings in time and money make this list a no-brainer.

Think about your needs first

Start by writing down any activities or commitments that will happen on a particular day for you and for your family. That will help you decide what sort of meal to cook.

Will you get home late on Wednesday? Plan on a slow-cooker meal: you can start it in the morning and come home to a delicious meal at night.

Rushing off to a class after tea, or taking the kids to sports practice?  Plan for cold meat and salad with a bread roll – easy to put out and even easier to pack away afterwards.

Maybe Thursdays are your quiet days: that’s the time to be adventurous and plan for a meal that will take more time to prepare and cook.

Decide on the menu

Once you’ve sorted your activities, choose your meals and write them next to each day.

Make it as simple or detailed as you want.

Doing a little thinking and planning once a week will save you the stress of having to make decisions when you’re tired and hungry. It will save you time and money when you shop because you’ll know exactly what you need to buy. And it allows you to eat healthy, budget-friendly meals every day of the week.

Once you’ve got a few menus prepared you can simply rotate them, with a few tweaks for changing activities. So three or four plans could last you an entire season before you feel the need to change. What a bonus!

The S.M.A.R.T.  List.

Most people have a dream they’d love to achieve. But often it’s so big and vague that it’s impossible to succeed. But your plans CAN be realised: with the help of a third list.

S.M.A.R.T stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-Orientation and  Time-bound, offering the perfect framework for reaching your goals.

To create a SMART list, think about steps you need to take to achieve your dream goal. You might need to break each step down into even smaller goals. For each goal, set a time limit by which you will get it done, and write down the results you want to see at the end.

You can do it!

You can use SMART lists for any goal, be it personal or professional. I was overweight and unfit after years of working too hard and neglecting my health. But when I finally decided to stop moaning and actually do something about it, I made my goal specific – to lose 10 kg in 3 months. This was specific, measurable results-oriented and achievable and making it time-bound helped me to focus on achieving milestones at regular intervals. It was amazing to see those pounds disappearing and my SMART list kept me motivated.

The Power of a List

Don’t underestimate the power of these lists. By using them you can free up your mind and your time. You can make room in your life for yourself, your family and your friends. Your goals can be achieved; Tasks will be done: Meals will be a breeze!

So my new year’s resolution (made at the end of  January) is simple:

Keep on making lists.

If I don’t have a list, it won’t get done.

So what am I  waiting for? What are you waiting for?

Start enjoying life again. Get things done. and feel that sense of accomplishment.

Make that list today.

Writing a list.

Travelling With Toddlers

Lizette O. has never been a boy scout, but when it comes to travelling with toddlers she swears by their motto: Be Prepared.

 

South African born Lizette and her Kiwi husband, James  were London-based globetrotters for 10 years before settling in New Zealand to raise their boys. But work and family commitments have meant that Owen (4) and baby James (18 months) have already flown to South Africa, Australia and around New Zealand many times in their short lives. Lizette says with careful planning and by putting their needs first, her children are generally happy and settled wherever they go in the world.

Lizette’s Top Tips for Travel:

  • Start preparing two weeks in advance ― pack away some favourite books and toys. That way when you bring them out on the trip they will be something familiar, but at the same time new and exciting.
  • Talk with your children about where you are going, who you will see, how you will travel and what it will be like there.
  • Pack a “24-hour kit”. Lizette’s travel bag includes nutritious snacks, 3 outfits of clothing per child, 10 nappies, milk powder for 6 bottles, baby wipes, plastic bags for rubbish and her trusty medicine bag (teething gel, nappy cream, Pamol and a syringe.)
  • Join Koru Club. The lounge away from the general bustle is a welcome stress-saver, but the real boon is in the food. “There is always food at Koru Club; even if you are in a hurry you can grab fresh food and feed the whole family without having to think. It’s a life saver!”
  • Time your flights with the children in mind. If possible, base your flights around the children’s routines, so you are not getting them up too early, nor disrupting sleep patterns with late-night arrivals.
  • Take something to suck when the plane is going down. Time the baby’s bottle so that he is hungry and wants to suck at that time.

Have a plan for when you arrive…

When travelling with small children, the journey is only half the picture. Lizette and James always have a plan for arrival at a new destination too. Experience has shown them that the children will settle quickly if they feel their new place is home. “When we get to the hotel, James will take the children and walk them around. [He says] This is our kitchen; this is your room – and our room – see how close we are? We will be here when you wake up…”

 

Another helpful strategy – ensure they have pyjamas or a cuddly washed in your usual washing powder. “That way it smells like home,” explains Lizette.

If you bottle feed, and will be travelling a lot, start your babies on S26 milk powder, available everywhere in the world. “Also our babies always drink it cold” says Lizette, “so we never have to worry about heating milk.”

Happy child – Happy travel

So there it is; a settled child is a happy child. Be prepared. Build your travel around routines wherever possible and try not to stress. That way you’ll all have a pleasant trip. Bon voyage!

Do you have travel tips to share?  I’d love you to leave a comment.

6 Queenstown Adventure Thrills

“Wiped out big time yesterday,” the boy next to me remarked, displaying an impressive graze. “Yeah – took a corner too fast.” he grinned. “Won’t happen today.”

I’m not into extreme bike trails so I left him and his mates hitching a gondola ride to the top of the Ben Lomond track and cycled off to tackle the lake path instead.

I’m lucky to live in Queenstown.

Nestled beside Lake Wakatipu in the heart of the southern mountains, Queenstown is aptly styled ‘Adventure Capital of New Zealand’. Whether you’re a first-time jelly-legs or serious adrenaline addict, there’s an adventure to challenge you here. And over the years, my family’s tackled quite a few.

Here are six of our favourites…

Skiing:  

NZSki.com gets you to the top of two of NZ’s premier downhill ski areas (Coronet Peak and The Remarkables) within half an hour, not to mention the slightly further away Nordic Skiing option of The Snow Park. Also within easy reach are two other premier ski fields at nearby Wanaka: Cardrona and Treble Cone. 

Skipper’s Canyon:

Just beyond the shopping, restaurants, bars and hotels of downtown Queenstown, the rugged outback awaits. This is four-wheel-drive country and if you don’t have your own there are plenty of companies to take you there in whatever degree of comfort (or not) you desire. We went in an SUV, but you can try motorbike and quad bike options, or there are plenty of tracks only accessible by foot.

Bungy Jump:

Jenny did the four-jump combo in ONE day. The historic Kawerau Bridge bungy: “Awesome!” The Nevis Bungy and Swing: “Lost my stomach!” The Ledge: “Did a somersault off that one. Wicked!”

Jet Boats:  

So many to choose from. The Shotover Jet is half an hour of thrills; spins and speed through the white-water canyons of the Shotover River. The Kawerau jet gives a longer journey over the lake first, but 45 minutes up the road in Glenorchy is my personal favourite – jet boating up the Dart.

Parasailing:

A 16th birthday present for Chris and Renato, flying high behind the roaring jet boat as it zoomed around the lake – lucky parents got to watch.

If you hanker for heights, Queenstown’s got plenty. Tandem paragliding and hang-gliding companies regularly leap off the mountain tops, or you can go all the way up and try ballooning or, skydiving. Or why not head out from the airport in an L29 fighter jet for a spot of aerobatics?

Zip Line:

Ziptrek Ecotours offers six zip-lines to whizz you through the forest canopy, giving spectacular views on an exhilarating ride. The eco-information offered at each stop is short and sweet – just right to take in while waiting for your turn to “fly”.

Wherever you go in New Zealand, you can find an adventure. The rugged mountains, myriad lakes and rivers and spectacular coastline offer endless possibilities for tramping, climbing, fishing, cycling and more. But if you want it all on your doorstep, then come to Queenstown. You won’t be disappointed.

(Visit http://www.queenstownnz.co.nz/information/ to discover more.)