Local Heart, Global Soul

October 21, 2018

Kiwi Daughter Starts Off In The Kitchen…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Whilst on the West Coast of New Zealand and staying in the “South of the Barber hostel”  in Greymouth we start cooking up an evening meal in the communal kitchen.

I was feeling tired so Himself told me to get in a nap because Kiwi Daughter really wanted to make a Caesar salad and wanted to help Himself cook.

We only have some very basic ingredients with us, pasta and a can of frankfurters and some cherry tomatoes that we would put separately on the side because Kiwi Daughter is allergic to raw tomatoes.

Cooked tomatoes are no problem, it’s apparently something to so with the tomato skins.

I get to do the dishes (I knew there had to be a catch somewhere!).

Kiwi Daughter remarked that she quite liked the cooking experience so Himself and I quickly responded with praise and told her she was most welcome to do it more often. Sadly that was met with “no thanks, this was enough“. Oh well, we tried. One day she will show a flicker of interest in learning to cook, probably when she leaves home and realizes that it’s something she wished she had taken an interest in at home! That said, her Caesar salad was excellent and she has to start somewhere so we encouraged her as much as possible. The meal filled a gap and after the dishes were done we could finally relax.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 19, 2018

Just The Clothes We Stood Up In…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We arrived at our accommodation in Greymouth and as you do when travelling, went to unpack our bags. The kids had their stuff but I didn’t see the bag I’d packed for Himself and I, so quipped to Himself, “Wow, that was fast, you got our bag upstairs already!”

This statement was met with a blank stare and a look of total confusion.  After a pause, he looked quizzically at me and said “er, nooo… you took that bag out didn’t you?” (as if in five minutes I’d lugged a suitcase upstairs on crutches).

I’d been talking to Victor and taking photographs. We retraced our steps and stood looking stupidly at the contents of the boot of the car: wheelchair, travel pillow, small travel blankets for if kids want to sleep, various small random discarded articles from the kids, first aid kit… that was it. No bag.

It took a moment for the penny to drop. Remembering the wood pile in front of the garage back in Hanmer Springs,  the people who needed to come and sort out the Wi-Fi so that it would be working when we got back, the decision to put the rest of our stuff under lock and key in the shed at the back of the property, it suddenly dawned on Himself that he’d gotten a little too enthusiastic when it came to putting bags away: our bag had been packed into the little shed instead of into the car for this trip.

“Heading North West Towards The Pass… ” https://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/2018/10/14/new-2858/

We had the clothes we stood up in and the contents of my backpack.

The first question was a serious one about medication. I was missing everything except a stash of my morphine based pain relief. Fortunately I’d grabbed quite a lot more than I thought I would need, habit, because I’m always worried I’ll get caught out if we had to stay away longer due to bad weather, earthquake, accident etc.  My travel nebulizer was however also in the missing bag.

We contemplated going back, but that was a day’s drive and not an appealing option. I made a decision: I had my most needed pain medication, so the trip could continue as planned, we would watch the asthma situation and could got to a Doctor any time things looked like they were not under control. I was prepared to be wheezy, tired and slow for a few days. (no change thus!).

The kids were rather surprised to be rounded up and asked to get into the car because Himself and I were going shopping for clothes and stuff. Kiwi Daughter smelled and opportunity and was on board immediately, Little Mr. less so until the hint of LEGO was dangled in front of him if he would help fetch and carry for us.

Kiwi Daughter gets a clothing allowance in full at the beginning of each year. I pay her underwear, and things like a winter jacket, she pays the rest. Suddenly she was super, ultra, uber, mega, enormously helpful in the changing rooms, “wrong size? no problem Mama, I’ll fetch it for you!”… zooming off before I could even say Thank You. “Don’t want this one?… I’ll put it back!”

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Friendly advice was given about what looked best, she was even suddenly seriously diplomatic about what didn’t. Suddenly the model kid… (Where was my teenage Daughter?)

Of course I wasn’t born yesterday: there was motive behind it all, and of course there was something completely not my style and size, but hers, “accidently” arrived in my changing room.

Needless to say she ended up in the cubical next to me trying things on and of course, and quite a few other pieces ended up in the shipping basket and not coming out of her budget.

To her complete credit she was the one who found a rack with summer clearance stuff, the shop was making way for their Autumn collections, but for us, we could get a New Zealand summer, and then a northern Hemisphere summer wear out of everything within in a few months. The “Sale” prices were also ridiculously low, and the clothes looked great so even Himself ended up with a few extra Polo’s and shorts.

We then bought socks and underwear, toothbrushes, paste, razors and shaving foam, the list grew. So did the bill. Oh well, we now have spares and have stocked up for the Dutch summer as well. Little Mr and Kiwi Daughter helped search out toiletries and of course a small box of LEGO joined the list on the bill.

Both kids were delighted to have “scored” at our expense and Himself admitted that he couldn’t even complain about having to go shopping since the blunder was his fault. I also have to say that I am also more than pleased with our purchases, several of the tops I bought are perfect work attire, have become favourites and I wear one or other every week. This of course also became one of “those” moments in family life, this will always be the New Zealand trip where Himself left a suitcase behind and where, Himself and I had to go shopping “for everything” because for a short time at least, we were left with only the clothes we stood up in.

October 13, 2018

Woodn’t You Know It, It’s THIS Challenge Again…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Family Kiwidutch had just settled into our accommodation in Hanmer Springs in January 2018, when we received notification that the winter firewood supply would be arriving.

We were asked could we keep the garage open so that it could all be stacked inside to dry out for winter please?

could we  also please arrange a time convenient to us for this stacking to take place too?

Kiwi Daughter suddenly jumped up with an emphatic exclamation: “Stacking wood? MY Job! I want to do it!”

Her request was relayed to a very surprised Hanmer Holiday Homes staff who manage the house and bookings and Kiwi Daughter got her wish.

Kiwi Daughter has happy memories of completing a firewood stacking challenge almost five years previously:  “Kiwi Daughter Wood Prove Me Wrong…”  (https://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/2017/01/05/new-2374/) and clearly is relishing the physical challenge once again.

They came with a trailer and dumped a very decent sized heap of wood in front of the garage door, closer at least to the stacking site than in the playhouse last time. She immediately grabbed the gardening gloves and set to work with gusto. In fact she worked so hard it was difficult to get her to some for dinner… a very familiar theme to that of the last time. She did however admit that it seemed to be harder work this time than last time, and that her hands were suffering a little in spite of the gloves.

Aches and pains aside Kiwi Daughter was proud of herself for persevering, and rightly so, we were proud of her too. She got through more than half of the pile the next day, but a sudden change in our holiday plans put the completion of her task on hold for several days. She did however get back to the task in hand as soon as we returned, and did an amazing job. Well Done sweetheart… this is a challenge you completed almost single handily this time and “Woodn’t” you know it, this city kid can get stuck into a heavy manual job and do herself proud!

June 23, 2018

What My Little Hobbits Required…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 

Just before the New Year of 2018, Family Kiwidutch were sitting in the car waiting to board the Interisland Ferry to travel back to the South Island.

It’s early evening, the kids have grown impatient and seized upon a bag of snacks in the back of the car.

There is the usual “pass it here, but I’ll give it back, ok?” type of conversation but time passes and we are still waiting so eventually I twist around and ask for a cracker too please.

There is a rumble of disapproval from the rear of the car, “but these were for us weren’t they?”

“No, they are for everyone”… silence for a moment, then grumbles,… “ooookaaay“. Then another pause, some rustling from plastic and a few giggles before I hear a tentative: “but Mama, they are almost op’.

This is a classic Dutchlish (Dutch /English) mixing of words in sentences that our family is completely used to. ‘Op” in this instance is the Dutch interloper into the English sentence and means “gone / finished”.

Wondering just how much of a dent they have managed to make into it, I demand that they pass the package over for inspection.

The inner tray slides out, two tiny fragments rest in one of the empty tray segments.

The rest if the packaging is completely and utterly empty. I’m amazed that they managed to eat all of these so quickly.

Little Mr starts to giggle: “These are good Mama, can we please buy some more?”

The response is that of course we can

By special “permission” from my children I get to “finish the rest of the packet” which of course sounded like they were being more generous than they in fact were.]

Once on board they tucked into fish and chips with gusto, and this is after having an “early dinner’ of sorts back with our hosts earlier in the afternoon!

Apparently it’s not just a second breakfast that my little hobbits require, it’s most out of character so I can only put it down to the sea air!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

April 21, 2018

Abandoning A Child Not Once But Twice!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Whilst taking photographs of the information board at the “Safe Stopping Spot” in my last post, I was joined by Kiwi Daughter asking of she could please get a photo of the board, with her egg.

Yes, you did read that correctly: “her egg”. A soft cuddly toy? Nope, a very real, hard boiled egg.

One that she had been looking after since the previous afternoon when we visited a friend and had to make an awkward request: “Could we please have an egg to take with us?”

You know you have real friends when they instantly say “of course!” and jump up to get it before even asking what on earth we need it for.

Naturally we explained. Kiwi Daughter is doing Psychology at school and they were covering a unit on children.

The class homework was to have each of the students look after a hard boiled egg for a week. (i.e. their “child”).

Our friend wouldn’t even let us boil it at the Meadowpark unit, she insisted on doing it then and there as we visited.

The students had to photograph their Eggs in various locations throughout the day, meaning that they needed to carry them with them at all times.

The exercise started a day before we left for New Zealand. We first boiled an egg in the Netherlands and it made the journey to Singapore before we thought it through and realised that New Zealand has a strict biological quarantine policy.

Kiwi Daughter’s egg was never going to make it though customs and being frequent travellers, we were not willing to face a strict fine for attempting to do so in any way illegally.

Egg got left in Singapore. Thus the request for a new Egg in New Zealand. Kiwi Daughter made numerous selfies and I was set a challenge: to get a photo of the Egg with it in focus but various beach locations in the back out of focus. I think that the general idea was to try and get the beach just enough in focus so that these shots could be jealously regarded by classmates still in school, in the wintery Netherlands. (We had permission to take the kids out of school early).

I attempted to complete the brief, but think that the background was a tad too fuzzy. Later on, whilst in Wellington, Egg accidently sustained some unfortunate “crush injuries” and after days in hot cars, lets say, hard boiled or not, I didn’t blame her when we found out that she had ditched it. We decided that with more long car journeys ahead, a third attempt was probably not going to be successful.

Kiwi Daughter submitted her sad failure to complete the challenge and apparently her Egg got written up as “Abandoned”, which even more sadly statistically fits the pattern for a percentage of children in the world in real life. Her part in the task was therefore successful as far as the over-all class effort was concerned. Let’s just say that I have full faith in my daughter to make a far better effort when her real children eventually arrive.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 8, 2018

An Easy Solution For An Irritating Problem…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

My New Zealand Grandmother always said that: “someone was either a Cook, or a Baker”.

She meant that when you turned your hand to creating wonderful food in your kitchen, you either excelled naturally at making things like great roast dinners and beautiful stir fries or you were a wonder at making huge, light, airy cakes that would be the envy of many.

I think she was right, she was 1000% a Baker, and living during a time when few women worked and a “bought” lunch was unheard of, she would pack my Grandad an amazing lunch every working day.

She baked three to four times a week, more if guests were expected or  there were family Birthdays, Easter, Christmas and any other special occasion. There were always a minimum of four or five different cakes, slices (bars) or biscuits (cookies) in her baking tins, more on the aforementioned special occasions.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Scones were not even counted as “baking” they were almost standard in the house, like bread. There were metal tins in her kitchen cupboards of various sizes.

Long before the days of plastic containers, these metal tins with their tight fitting lids kept everything fresh and crisp. Very large ones were for cake, the medium sized ones were for slices and the smaller ones were for biscuits. There were even large tins that had recessed lids, similar to the sort found on paint tins today and my sister and I would squabble about who got to open these with the end of a spoon and discover first what was inside.

None of the tins were see-through of course so every opening was a surprise but as kids we all had our favourite biscuits so it was extra special if we discovered that one of our favourites was on offer.

My favourite was Grans Shortbread, and since sadly her cookbook went “missing” after her funeral I never got her amazing recipe.

Choosing one thing from the tins was allowed, you only ever got two biscuits if you were especially good but I discovered that if you were alone with Grandma in the kitchen, helped getting out the cups and saucers for tea, and dried up and put away any dishes that she had washed, then she would take a quick look around to make sure my mother wasn’t close by and then slip me a third as a special treat.

Often she would pass me a piece of shortbread that had broken in half saying with a smile: “Oh dear, a broken bit, quick, finish it up”. Sometimes there were no broken pieces of shortbread so she would break one in half and then do the “broken bit” joke and it was a little secret that we kept to ourselves.

At least as a kid I always thought that, but looking back she may have done did that with all the grandchildren.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

If we were staying over and baking biscuits together then she would let me ice (glaze) them and I loved poking around making that I imagined to be intricate patterns in my decorations, but in reality they were probably a lot of messy squiggles.

Sometimes my own children have the “baking” urge but don’t really want to go to the effort of actually making something, they just want to decorate.

Actually the bit they really don’t want to do is the cleaning up afterwards, so I just take some plain shop bought biscuits and then mix up a small batch of icing so that they can decorate the tops.

The ingredients are: Icing (powder) sugar, melted butter if I’m feeling decedent, water if I’m not, and whatever colour food colouring the kids desire as their first choice.

Invariably they ask for five colours each, to these requests the answer is always “No”. Four or five colours for our Christmas Gingerbreads is the most I will ever do these days.

Life is too short to be giving in to the extraneous whims of children when I am the one doing all of the work making the icing and cleaning up. For biscuits they get one colour each with the advice that should they want more they are more than welcome, but they have to make it themselves.

To date they have never taken me up on this. I used to use plastic sandwich lunch bags as icing bags but they are too thin and the bags often split if squeezed too hard or if the icing mix is too warm. Cleaning up after split bags is way too much extra work (can you sense a theme of laziness here?) so I quickly found that commercial icing bags are worth the expense.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

One thing is difficult though, the icing cools quickly and gets more and more solid as it does, so if piping with a very small hole then the hole can get stopped up after a short time. Since opening the bag and messing with the contents is again more work I started to look for quick and easy ways to fix these annoying little clumps of hardened powdered sugar.

If you have a daughter who has long hair then you will always have hair-ties on hand somewhere. I keep a stash of unused ones at home for the inevitable “Mama, I’ve run out of hair bands and I’m going out / doing sport/ the bus is coming for school in two minutes !”.

These are always dramatic howls and I have to have the “right” ones on hand. Just the right circumference and thickness, not just any old hair band will do. Needless to say I also therefor have a stash of “ew no, not those!” hair ties and now I also have an excellent use for them: Tying up icing bags.

There are hair bands that a joined with a small metal connecter, I can’t use those, but if you hunt around then you will also find some without the metal piece.

These are perfect. When your icing is getting too clogged up, a simple remedy of ten seconds in the microwave usually does the trick. Ergo the need for ties that have no metal connectors.

Rubber bands would also work of course but we use these so rarely that they get brittle and break as soon as you try and stretch them. Hair ties don’t break like this and being smaller they are easier to tie around the bags. It’s an easy solution for an irritating problem.

Decorating biscuits with icing always brings back fond memories of my Grandma, and the conversations that are special between kids and their grandparents. I hope that the times spent decorating biscuits with me will also one day be special memories for my children too.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 27, 2017

Having The Patience To Decorate Cakes…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Winter is never my favourite season because I am somewhat allergic to short days, long dark nights and cold temperatures.

If Himself and I were to believe in incarnation then I’d hazard a guess that in a previous life I had been a tomato.

Himself was probably a chili pepper, and we are well suited to one another because we would both choose a tropical getaway over a skiing holiday in a nanosecond.

My current situation does not lend itself to getting out and about much, so to kick me out of the house and have some fun my best friend organised for us both to attend a cake decorating workshop in the Hague early in the year.

I have the patience to decorate cakes, providing there are no serious time constraints, and there are not kids underfoot, since I have “Been there, Done that” and can sincerely say that it was not in any way a success, at least on a practical level.

It’s beyond frustrating to see one of your offspring squeezing the last of the icing out of the bags into a puddle on your dining room table just to see how the colours mix.

Of course those exact bags were the ones you had set aside to finish the other half of the big cake you were working on, everything had started well but now you have run out steam,  exhausted, and to add insult to injury the kids have  disappeared leaving you with a kitchen and dining room table that look like a bomb went off in a food coloring factory.

The extension was in the table so that everyone had enough place to work in, now icing is solidifying in the crack between the table sections, the food colouring trail leads as far as the door handle and goodness knows how much further beyond, there are splatters of icing on the floor and you are so tired that you feel like sleeping face down in your incomplete cake.

In the kitchen looks like you used every dish you own (probably did) and the sink is filed to overflowing (my pet hate) so it feels like a day’s work to get it empty let alone start the washing up.

In contrast, in years gone by I could wait until the kids had surrendered to their early bedtime,  then start in peace, all the bits and pieces I needed set out neatly on the dining room table. Then the kids grew big enough to “Help” and chaos ensued. To make matters more complicated, if my offspring were not stuffing their mouths with cake or biscuits (cookies), they were singing the praises of the experience: “This has been great fun‘, “Can we do this again next weekend?”,Mama, I love you, You are the best!”, although to be fair, this bit generally takes place after the wreckage in my kitchen and the carnage on the dining room table has been eradicated by the parents. They know how to choose their moments, my kids. Of course you have to remember too the most frustrating thing of all: I said I had the patience to decorate cakes, .. I didn’t  say I was any good at it.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 27, 2017

When The Person Picking Out a Double Bed Is The One You’d Least Expect…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Our biggest household task this last summer school has been a long awaited and vastly overdue update of Little Mr’s bedroom. His room was last renovated some eleven years ago when it was still our bedroom since both kids were still sharing a room back then.

When we bought the apartment below us fourteen years ago it got priority as we had an older foster kid with us and his room was down there. Himself’s new office went down there too as he started his business from home, the smallest bedroom became a guest room and the tiny room by the front door (formerly a very cramped bedroom in the previous owners time) became a box room with eventually space for stuff like a freezer.

As the years progressed the foster kid left, friends came to stay temporarily whilst starting a new life in the Netherlands and after getting jobs and finding a house they left our place ten months later to live very locally, more today as family than as friends.

Always interested in meeting new people we have billeted various other people for short stays ranging from a few days to three months (I even drove to Schipol airport and rescued a few random people when the Icelandic volcano grounded all flights over a large part of Europe) and hosted visiting friends and family from around the world.

Our upstairs hall ways, stairs and living rooms got priority after that, and somehow Kiwi Daughters room managed to sneak in two makeover’s, mostly because she opened her mouth and complained more often.

This summer it has been the turn of Little Mr,  and it’s been a summer long project because Himself is doing 98% of the renovation work in between pauses in his normal work. My contribution has been sitting sorting out Lego, of which there has been an almost frightening amount.

I average anywhere between half and hour and an hour and a half  per day, and on quite a few days I sat and fixed all the sorting mistakes I made the day previously due to complete concentration malfunction.

I am still finding multiple piles of the same part because I would forget I’d already made a previous pile and Little Mr spent more than one day on the floor after I knocked over plastic containers of tiny bits and then could then not get onto the floor to retrieve them.

After not having a living room table since the end of July, I am now making ever increasingly loud noises towards Little Mr that he better help me clear the last of it, not an easy thing because as he discovered more and more sorted containers his “need” (his word not mine) to build outweighed his need to help finish sorting.  His building then in turn meant that I had more to sort and thus we are fast in danger of forming a never ending circle and me never seeing my dining room table ever again. I’ve told him that I want to build too so my sorting days (well, ok, hours) are severely numbered. New curtains have been ordered for his renovated room and the biggest change was a new bed,  a double no less!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Yes, it did seem strange having our twelve year old son pick out his own double bed but we didn’t want to repeat the mistake we made with Kiwi Daughter.

She was about eleven when she swapped her smaller light blue room with a pink stripe (her design) for plain white walls and we splashed out on a very fancy and (looking back at it) stupidly expensive raised single bed that had a massive desk underneath.

Eighteen months later our teenage daughter was torturing us with the refrain that bunk beds were for little kids, she hated her room, a cool room would have a bed she could lounge on with friends and so forth.

Worn down we relented and guess that, no one wants to pay even 10% what we paid for that fancy get-up as a second hand item, no matter how pristine or how good quality it was.

Determined not find ourselves having the same heated rows with Little Mr as the teenage years and probably another half meter of height is added to his frame, we headed straight for the big bed, much to the bemusement of the gent in the showroom. So, gone are the pale yellow painted walls, in is the new white, and slowly the bits and bobs are on order to make his room complete. Now all I have to do is one day summon up the courage to remind poor overworked Himself about the state of the paint work in our kitchen.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This is less than half of Little Mr’s Lego. His extended family nickname: “The Lego Master”… is well deserved.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 25, 2017

The Delight In Busting A Coke Habit…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I have always been partial to a drink of coke-cola. In an effort to cut down on sugar I switched from regular cola to the diet variety,  and managed with just a few drinks per week.

Then I had children and during pregnancy the smell of coffee had me turn a wonderful shade of green and since my coffee intake was already very high I took the decision to not return to coffee after my pregnancies.

I drank black tea before I discovered coffee as a teenager, the main reason that coffee took hold was that I didn’t actually love black tea very much. After my accident all alcohol consumption stopped, something I missed, and still do, even though the amount of bottles of wine I drank in a year could be counted on one hand.

It wasn’t even the amount, it was just that I could have a small Pineau des Charantes, port, sambuka, baileys or wine a few times every month or two whenever I fancied one. When that choice was taken away I started drinking more and more cola.

In an effort to be healthier I started to also drink rooibos (literally= red bush) tea, from a native tree of the same name in South Africa that contains no caffeine, no tannin and a large amount of vitamin C.  I drink this tea warm rather than hot and it’s a type of tea that doesn’t get bitter if it stews, a bonus because I love this tea strong.

If rooibos isn’t around then I might drink mint / peppermint tea or chamomile, but black tea and flavoured teas based on black tea are still not, well… my cup of tea. Long term pain brings many changes and moods so it was hardly surprising that my comfort drinking of cola steadily increased even though I was well aware that aspartame is not a healthy ingredient of sugar-free drinks.

Knowing about it and caring about it on many days are two different things.

Finally, last November I decided to kick my cola habit completely and thought that cold turkey would be the best way to do it. I won’t say it was the easiest way to do it but for me at least it was the best.

Headaches and mood swings ensued. Luckily these side effects were fairly short lived and I am pleased to say that except as a rare treat I have not had any coke-cola since then. In fact I am delighted that even “treats” have added up to a grand total of  some 5-6 glasses in the last ten months and I aim to keep it at this level, or less in the future. I have had a few drinks of  bitter lemon during this summer but have forced myself to drink water, not a drink I ever gravitated towards as a drink of choice in the past.

Little Mr was impressed with my decision and cold turkey efforts, but also took the opportunity to play a prank. About a week into my cola detox he came into my bedroom early one morning and announced that he was bringing me some cola. Surprised, I roused myself to find this decorated water bottle, and he disappeared with a fit of giggles. Then, about 30 seconds later he bounded back into the room with a concerned look on his face saying: “Mama, please don’t drink it, it’s not real cola and I used food colouring for the colour and dish detergent so that it would have bubbles“. Clearly he maybe thought that any dark liquid may severely tempt me so early into the cold turkey process even though the “bubbles” were rather different to the ones usually found in carbonated drinks and the label a fraction more generic than even supermarket cola home brands. I loved his genuine concern.

No one would have thought that I could have stuck this out, least of all me, but when you set your heart on making lifestyle changes, if you want it badly enough then anything is possible. Now I just have to watch out when, where and to whom my family boast that I have finally busted my coke habit.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 18, 2017

Our Little Marshmallow Went The Distance…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Earlier this summer (when the weather was half decent, before the August and September rain set in), Kiwi Daughter went on a hiking trip with a group of girl friends.

The area they were in was the Ardennes in Belgium, so it wasn’t the flat terrain that they are used to, and they carried their tents, sleeping bags, food and cooking equipment with them, so it was hardly like a day out with a rucksack either.

The distance covered was just over 50 kilometers and the girls worked as a team to help share the load and help one another up hills. There were blisters aplenty amongst them too, Kiwi Daughter getting blisters on her feet in places where we wondered how it was possible.

Only after the hike did we discover that her feet had grown since we bought the walking shoes last Christmas, so she should have been in shoes one size larger.

She was quick to point the finger in our direction for that one, and Yes, we did forget to check, but I did gently remind her that had she done the amount of training asked of her (and the group) before the trip, she would have figured this out in the months before so (a) Himself and I would have been able to buy her new shoes in time for her to break them in and (b) she probably would not have had any issues with blisters at all.

Hindsight is of course a wonderful thing, it seems that most of the girls in the group had been also less than prepared to one degree or another so they suffered and struggled together.

At the end of the first hike Kiwi Daughter phoned us, weary to the bone, sore everywhere, her feet erupting in pain, almost too tired to eat dinner and close to tears. She didn’t know if she could do this, it was too hard, her feet were a mess… the list went on. I am certain that if at that moment Himself had offered to jump in the car, drive to Belgium and pick her up, she would have said goodbye to the rest of her group almost without a backward glance.

No such luck, we listened on the phone as the tears of weariness overcame her and told her that this was as much a test of character as it was of enduring the course. Our words of course meant little that night, and also again when six kilometers into the following days 26 km hike when she sat down at the side of a small road and thought she could not carry on because her feet hurt so much. There was a competitive edge to this event, some dozen or so groups having been given different routes but with the same terminus each day, no one wanted to be the last team in.

Some teams were all boys, some all girls and a few were mixed. Apparently all of the all-girl teams struggled with carrying the equipment, it seemed that being able to pass the weight around to few boys with muscles than they was a half decent advantage. On the flip side I think that it was highly likely that the boys carried a lot more food than the girls, but then again that gets lighter as the day goes on and tents do not.

That day, himself and I listened out for the phone, half expecting a call to tell us that she had dropped out. The phone stayed silent until the evening, when she let us know that she had persevered with the other 20 kilometers after all. Her voice was like a shadow of her usual self, her tiredness could be felt though the phone, her voice trembled and faltered, more tears ensued, and once she had recovered she told us that she wasn’t the only one who had trouble.

The girls all helped one another, taking packs apart and redistributing items several times during the journey, supporting one another physically, emotionally and mentally. They arrived in the campsite in twilight, several hours after the other teams and hardly felt like cooking after getting their tents up.

They managed to finish that day, and the next, despite all of the hurdles that they faced. This is the kind of experience where maybe it’s not the most fun when you are having to do the hard graft, but upon reflection you can look back and realise that in pushing yourself to the limit and not giving in, that you do indeed grow as a person, you find you are stronger than you thought, you can take pride in that fact that you didn’t take the easy option of giving up.

Not only did the girls finish with their team, they lived through something together and came away stronger and better for it.

One ‘bonus” (if it could be called that), about walking in blistered and shredded feet was that when they got sunburnt on the second day Kiwi Daughter said she didn’t feel it. Once home she discovered that she had a set of red, pink and white stripes down her legs regardless of using sunscreen several times. She said her new nick-name of the moment should be “marshmallow” since her legs looked like one.

I didn’t take photographs of her blisters, they were gruesome, but she could laugh about her legs. Kiwi Daughter now looks back on this trip with pride, and quite rightly so because she earned her place at the finish line; literally with blood, sweat and tears. Our little marshmallow went the distance and Himself and I could not be more proud.

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