Well hello again little blog

Well hello little blog. I have missed you.

Here I am sitting on a train from York to Edinburgh watching the beautiful late autumn colors roll by.

This time just over a month ago I would be nearly at the end of my work week, juggling too many balls. Instead I am on a three-week adventure to connect with my British heritage of early dark and late sun-rise, dazzling Christmas lights and the promise of snow.

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Those of you that have followed this blog will know that I made the decision to go back to work full-time about 9 months ago. Best work place, amazing vision, the genuinely nicest people. Yet circumstances have led me to reluctantly put that aside (at least for now) and go back to a slightly altered version of my life for the last couple of years.

Turns out just when you think you might be able to commit yourself fully to work, things don’t always go according to plan – now there’s a surprise.

The catalyst was one of our dogs developing diabetes. Diabetes for a dog is the same as Type One diabetes for a human. there is no managing it with diet, it’s straight onto twice daily insulin injections and a pretty intense schedule of working with your vet in the initial period to get the dose right.

It is not an exaggeration to say this changed our lives over night. The injections have to be given as close as possible to 12 hours apart, food must be measured, walks must be strict and the possibility of a diabetic crash lingers closely in those first few weeks.

My wonderful workplace said I could bring him into work with me as he couldn’t be left alone. He was a very popular visitor to the office as he is very cute and loves people. Deep down though I knew this wasn’t a long term plan as he was slightly stressed by the process and it was hard to juggle taking him to various meetings.

So with heavy heart I resigned my position but we developed a two day a week position that meant I could look after Bosco, and still contribute in the form of important but not so urgent projects that needed to be bought on line.

However this catalyst became a domino on the move and I found myself weighing up work with all the other things going on in our lives – a house renovation, travel, my husband’s very full-on job, the birth of yet another precious grandchild and the announcement that there was another due early year. All good things but all that meant that something had to give.

Unlike many  people I am in the weird position of not having to work unless I want to,  so for me the question is nuanced and in some ways more difficult. I have had  several other grandmothers say that if they didn’t have to work, they wouldn’t. Yet we work for other reasons than just the financial ones and that made my decision hard. I like working, making a difference, being part of something bigger than myself, workplace banter, even wearing ‘work’ clothes. But I kind of knew as I went through the praying and thinking process, that for this season it made sense to step down for a time –  maybe permanently – I don’t know.

That was just over four weeks ago and my life has been full of  getting used to having a pet with diabetes, hanging out with our children, their little ones, my friends,  and appreciating all this  in a way I didn’t before I worked full-time for the last eight months. Also time spent catching up on all those things that don’t get done when you are both working full-time!

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Which brings me up to now. The amazing  trip  I am currently on was planned while I was working but I have been able to extend it for another week now I don’t have to fit it into annual leave.

And it is ‘I’ and not ‘we’ as it is a trip to the cold dark  Northern hemisphere winter (spurred by the  promise of a visit to a friend and the desire to see what Christmas is like over this side of the world) that did not appeal to Wayne so he graciously suggested I do it by myself – but more of that in my next entry.

It is a very big solo adventure for me!

 

Life Got in the Way

Despite every good intention to get into a blogging rhythm, life has got in the way in a BIG way, in a good way. This week has been one of those momentous ones and I am only now stopping to catch my breath.

A week ago we welcomed our youngest back to NZ for an Easter break. It was so hard to

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Enjoying the beach after a UK winter!

wait out that final week. And then imagining his plane winging all the way around the world – although thanks to Flightradar I could pretend the little plane on the map actually had him and his girlfriend in it). Wondering if they  would successfully navigate the perils of LA transit (always a stressful exercise), and then finally get to see them emerge through the arrivals gate. Coming from the English winter they are very pale skinned beings at the moment! They have started to remedy that pretty quickly by an emergency trip to their favourite beach.

If that wasn’t enough to make it a very good week (especially as we kept it a surprise that Sophie was coming as well) all this on the same day our new grandchild was booked to start making his or her way into the world.

Only a week after posting about the fun of choosing a mountain buggy with our daughter  here she was diagnosed with a complication that didn’t affect her but could potentially affect her baby very seriously. This put her on a countdown to being induced early. What a scary week  as she and her husband walked the line between keeping the baby in as long as possible and keeping it safe.

This is when you realise your children(these people that you still worry about whether they can remember to mow their lawns, eat properly or put the rubbish out) have become adults and that they are calmly and capably running their own lives – when they deal with the hard stuff, when things don’t go as they planned, but they stop and take a breath and then go with the new reality.

After a week of blood tests and monitoring, the decision to induce was made and our first grandson was born safely just over two weeks early, on the evening of our son’s arrival home.  I was very privileged to meet him when he was seconds old. And  all of the siblings and their partners were able to meet their new nephew only hours after he was born. (Don’t think delivery suites are set up for large family visits!) What a lot of joy and excitement – a seriously momentous day!

And now there is a new member of our loud and chaotic family. So tiny and perfect, unaware at this stage of how many people love him (he is very blessed to have a big family on both sides), unaware of  besotted grandmothers and grandfathers, unaware of how long he he has been hoped for, unaware that he has already been pronounced “cousin” and gently held by our  three year old grand-daughter.  I am however profoundly aware that he has turned our daughter into a mother, her husband into a father and changed their lives forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buying a mountain buggy

On the countdown now for the arrival of our third grandchild, and our daughter’s first baby. As a girl with  four brothers this makes her journey a bit special (but don’t tell the boys that). Just a few weeks to go so lots of final planning and organising underway. She and her husband have continued what is looking like becoming a family tradition of not finding out the gender of the baby, so there is lots of anticipation and theorising about what the outcome will be.

With all this in mind, this weekend I finally got round to putting a  carseat in my car that will work for our two current grandchildren (who are getting to the stage where nanna can take them out for a hour or two),and the nearly here one.

Well, spending an hour in our sweltering garage trying to decipher instructions worthy of installing a NASA escape pod was interesting. And who would have thought a car seat needed a cup holder?  Or that they now come with expiry dates? However it’s now securely ISOFIXed (thanks Volvo for burying those vital bars so deep in the  bowels of the seat). Driving to worship practice on Sunday morning it felt very strange glimpsing a carseat in the rear vision mirror again after so many years without one.

Carseat checked off, later on Sunday Nicole and I  had fun choosing the all important mountain buggy. As a super fit person she wanted one that was suitable for serious running miles ( she has only just stopped running at 35 weeks pregnant so I suspect she will be back into it pretty quickly).

Have to say I’m a bit envious of all the improvements in  baby transportation from the last time we bought one 19 years ago, and they look like veritable contraptions from another planet compared with the one we bought over thirty years ago (could be 200 years ago they are so different).

Not so envious of the prices. This is a big business once you add on all the ‘essential’ accessories – somewhat of an oxymoron. We had the choice of different types of wheels for different terrains, carrycots, attachable carseats, water bottle holders, food trays, travel bags – these are seriously cool  and very pricey ways to wheel a baby around!  We ended up deciding to buy the mountain buggy second hand and purchased the rather useful carseat capsule that attached to it new.

As we browsed TradeMe at lunch, and then stood in the shop comparing reviews of the buggy cornucopia, Nicole filled me in on all the things she had researched. I realised how wide the gulf between then and now, and yet again marvelled at the wonder and power of the internet. Every model can be compared, both price and specifications, hundreds of reviews to choose from. Even buying second hand is easy through on-line auction sites as opposed to the now forgotten and thankfully defunct classified ad pages. When we had our first baby, we only had the knowledge we could glean from our parents and friends’ recommendations. My mum was great, both in helping choose the right one and financially. There was an awful lot of walking round shops to see  different models, a distinct dearth of choice, and some seriously ugly options in the 80s and 90s!

And  despite all the changes and innovations, on Sunday it still eventually came down to a question from a daughter to her mum – “what do you think?” and we chose together; just like her grandmother and I did all those years ago. The technology may change, baby transport options have definitely changed, but the rituals surrounding your daughter having her first baby thankfully have not.

 

Empty nest?

At the interesting  and definitely enjoyable stage of life we find ourselves, we often get asked about what it’s like having an empty nest, especially as our nest was such a big one!  ‘Empty nest’ to me is quite a negative phrase and always seems to be accompanied by images of forlorn nests slowly falling apart, tufts of baby feathers the only reminder that this nest once was full of bustling life and energy. We even describe it as  Empty Nest Syndrome  and there is a lot written about it, much of it dire.  I’m certainly not saying that this isn’t a difficult and challenging time as we learn to let our children go – but the connotations of an abandoned nest don’t help.

The analogy breaks down pretty quickly too – don’t most birds build a new nest every year? Do the newly flighted fledglings come back for dinner/budgeting advice/free laundry/more dinner? Do the adult birds visit the nests of their children to check out their eggs and chicks?

Our adult children and our one remaining teenager are definitely carving out their own paths – spouses, houses, babies, overseas study –  but our home is still full of people coming and going. Lots of celebrations and family dinners with those living in the same town as us; endless FB messenger conversations, photos,snapchats  and videos with the teenager and his girlfriend so many miles away in the UK.

This weekend we hosted 40 people for a baby shower for our daughter  and son-in-law  (It was more of a full-on party as the guys were all invited too. As our son-in-law said – it’s his baby too!) We  got to talk to  some of their friends we had not seen before, or had only said a quick hello to at church. It was a wonderful occasion, helped by a beautiful Auckland afternoon – community being extended and strengthened, lots of laughing and connecting, toddlers staggering around, new babies being admired.

The last thing our home felt like yesterday was an empty nest. Yes today the house is very quiet (just me and the animals) but I know that this nest isn’t empty, isn’t forlorn, and hasn’t lost its purpose as a hub for our family. While part of me misses when they were young and I was essential to their lives; another bigger part of me loves being the parent of adults. I don’t want to spend the next few years mourning the loss of one facet of parenting, huge though it was, and risk missing out on the richness of the next phase.

So I’m looking for a new analogy to describe a family where the children  have left home – something more positive than the dreaded empty nest. Anyone got any ideas?

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