A nice cup of tea

If there is anything that makes my British-ness stand out, it is my love of a nice, hot, strong cup of tea. When we have visitors from the UK I usually request they bring some Yorkshire Tea, some Tetley and some Irish Breakfast tea. There is nothing quite like a tea bag from my homeland. But being at home most days I found that my love of tea was becoming a bit OTT. Most days at least five cups, followed by restless sleep. No need to wonder why.

Tea drinking had become a bit of a bad habit. Get up, have tea. Get back from school run, have tea. Morning tea time, cup of tea. Lunchtime, why not have a brew? Pick kids up from school, another cup? Why not? Sometimes you don’t realise you have a problem until you look at it like that. At least it’s tea and not vodka, I guess!

Anyway, not one for New Year resolutions I decided in the first week of January after returning from our summer holiday to cut out caffeine. So this meant the tea needed to go, along with my love for the occasional ice cold, full sugar, full caffeine can of Coca-Cola.

The first five days were hell. The headaches were unbelievable. I wanted to sit in a darkened room while my head pounded and fought my addiction to caffeine. It was those headaches in fact, that made me realise that I was indeed addicted to caffeine. It was a weird feeling. I pushed through though and swapped my extra stong super Ceylone, for water and a loose herbal tea. Mornings were the worst, but my sleep was already better so I wasn’t so tired in the morning and didn’t necessarily need that kick start.

So for six whole weeks I managed NO caffeine whatsoever. Not a drop. It was weird going to the cinema and not drinking coke. Friends thought it odd when they popped the kettle on at their houses and I told them no.

But then my youngest started having sleepless nights again. Nightmares would wake her, she would wake me, I would get her back to sleep, and then I would lie awake for an hour or so. I’m sure I’m not the only one this has happened to. The morning cuppa returned out of necessity, although I’m sure that if I had tried harder I could have resisted. I’m glad to say though that it has stayed at that one cup a day, and not even every day.

Tea doesn’t even as taste as good as it once did to me which is strange. Maybe less tea has meant better taste buds. Who knows? I’m a little bit proud of myself, but it’s only tea.


“Life slow down, you’ve gone too fast…” where I ponder where the last few months have gone and how I’ve neglected the blog.

Time appears to be going so fast. I really don’t know where the past few months have gone, but here we are in February. I was busy for a few months with a work contract, working from home and it involved lots of typing. After a day or evening doing that, I didn’t feel like blogging. Then there was my youngest’s birthday, Christmas, a summer holiday to Napier, school holidays, getting the eldest ready to go back to school, and now overseas visitors. When you write it all down like that, it’s easy to see how time has flown.

But I’ve missed blogging and on many a day I have had great ideas about what to write but not the time or energy. Some of these needed to be written there and then to be relevant but I still have a few tricks up my sleeves.

So, as always, I’m committing this to the blog to encourage myself to actually follow through. I want to blog once a week at least. It’s doable, I just need to focus.

Until next time, J xx

“The charisma’s non-negotiable…” From H.E.S to Heavy Entertainment Show, how Robbie has done it again.

I’ll start by saying, I know nothing about music other than I know what I like and what I don’t like. What I most definitely like, nay love, is Robbie Williams. Say what you will, but that man is one hell of an entertainer.

It is no secret to those of you who know me as a fan that H.E.S is one of my favourite Robbie songs. It’s up there with Come Undone and Sexed Up as far as songs that I will listen to on repeat daily. So when Guy Chambers let slip on his blog on Sunday that the new album was going to be called Heavy Entertainment Show I was beyond excited at the prospect that we would eventually hear H.E.S live (properly) and that it would have the opportunity to enter the cultural zeitgeist. It’s such a perfectly formed song that to take it from Under The Radar and put it on the new album would not have been a bad idea at all.

Like most of Robbie’s songs I find his lyrics give us the biggest insight into his world. He really is a master of words in his solo work, and it is most definitely evident in his contribution to the Take That album ‘Progress’. He understands the business and views it with cynicism and scorn, often for comedic effect, often very dark. “We are living in the wildest times, lost my mind a while ago,” he sings. He knows this better than most of us and that’s what makes him so good. The slow rhythm of H.E.S, the powerful lyrics, the deepness of his voice resonating from the song make this one of my favourites. I didn’t think it could be matched.

So along comes Sunday, the Apple Music Festival gig, the promo teaser for the new album (finally confirmed as being titled Heavy Entertainment Show) is posted online and boom, the fandom goes wild. Well played to his management and media team by the way, excellent promotion, long may it continue. The song of the new album? Not H.E.S but the newly formed Heavy Entertainment Show, and man, is it heavy. I LOVE IT.

I’ll admit at first there was a little disappointment but we are talking momentarily. As soon as I heard Heavy Entertainment Show I was hooked. I am a “volcano that’s about to blow.” I want the album now, I want my next hit of the new Robbie Williams, who is strikingly like the old Robbie Williams with even more charisma that is non-negotiable and even more magnificent (have you seen him lately? He’s getting even more handsome with age – I think the love of a good woman may be helping there. Family life certainly suits him).

The song is fresh and new but has that friendly familiarity that makes you think you have always known it. The lyrics are catchy and are already sticking in my mind (tends to happen when you listen to something on repeat, I know, but still). It is the antithesis to H.E.S which has a steady cadence, Heavy Entertainment Show is big and bold and makes no secret of that. Just hearing it  you can imagine the glitz and glitter of a live performance of the song. It will be perfect to open a gig, as perfect as it is to open an album. So what are you waiting for Robbie? Announce those tour dates and “shake your ass, come over here”, back to New Zealand for, at least one more date.

And which do I prefer? You can’t compare them. I love them equally but there is clearly a deep connection between the two songs, that’s not brain science. We will “see the world through it’s ancient eyes” and he will “give it all then a little bit more.”

Robbie, I am a child of cultural abandon and you are my saviour. Thank you.

“One day maybe it will hurt no more…” problems of an overseas fangirl.

I am by nature a problem solver. If there is a problem, I look for solutions and if it is possible I will make changes to make things better. I’m that kind of person. I’m not one to moan and complain, honestly. I’m saying that at the onset of this blog post because if it comes across like that I really don’t intend it that way. I’m about to talk about a problem there isn’t an answer to.

I decided to write this little blog post because I know I’m not the only one feeling this way.

I have written before about being a fangirl, and my drug of choice is Take That, but I hope that whatever your poison is, fangirl wise, you may be able to relate to this.

My fangirling is made possible by the internet, social media and predominately Twitter. I love the interaction between fans, reading news, seeing photos and even interaction with my idols. The joy of getting a retweet, reply or even a direct message is wonderful, indescribable and some may think this sad but boo sucks to them!

But it is a double edged sword; as much as I love to login and see everyone meeting the band, it is bittersweet. Knowing that you are on the other side of the world and not able to do that truly sucks. I once read on a FB page (which will remain nameless) that maybe fans overseas should follow bands closer to home. I couldn’t believe it. And there is always the constant discussion of what a “true fan” is. Who cares? If you are a fan, you are a fan, regardless of where in the world you are.

So with numerous projects in the pipeline and new music on the horizon I am excited to see my Twitter feed full of photos and news. It is going to be pretty nonstop for the next six months at least, but sometimes it just stops you in your tracks and you feel overcome with envy and jealousy, yep, there I’ve said it. I am so happy people I would consider to be good friends are fulfilling their dreams, but damn, I wish it was me!

See? There is no solution to my “problem”. I live on the other side of the world and I wouldn’t change that but just once I would like it to be me having the chat, taking the selfie and getting a hug. So if you are one of the lucky ones just bear with us overseas fans who are full of mixed emotions. We WANT to see your pics and hear how amazing it was, but we also want to bury our heads in the sand and wish it wasn’t happening! It’s our problem, not yours.

At the weekend I cut down the list of people I follow on Twitter to the people in the fandom I actually converse with, turned off retweets on a few, muted a couple and I have to be honest, it has helped. There is such a thing as too much when it makes you sad.

As for the fandom sadness, the fandom happiness truly outweighs it…I just wish they wouldn’t bicker so much and appreciate how lucky they are. Seriously.

And as for meeting my idols? I will never give up hope because as a certain person once said “what’s the point in giving up?”

“As I got lost along the way…” The art of distraction.

On Sunday I made the decision to delete the Twitter and Snapchat apps off of my phone in order to get some work done. I’m currently working on a boring admin task that pays well and can be done at home when it suits me. Sounds perfect if you are not easily distracted. I manage to distract myself.

It was never a permanent move, just until I got a fair amount done and got ahead of the game. I love both of those social media platforms so there was no way I was saying ‘bye bye’ forever.

So with them gone, Monday was a very productive day, but the problem with working at home is that can be a little lonely. You can’t work solidly for six hours while the children are at school and kindy. I would “reward” myself with a break and put away the washing, or prepare the dinner. Some break! How people work from home long term I do not know. I think I would go crazy.

By Wednesday lunchtime (probably earlier) Twitter had been replaced by text and whatsapp messages to friends. Overuse of Instagram was creeping in. That’s when it occurred to me that I need that connection to the outside world but I just need to limit it and have some willpower about it all.

I miss my group DMs with my “sisters” all around the world. I miss the inane fangirling. I miss snaps from the two Saras (snapchat queens in their own right). I missed discussing a tv programme online as I watched it the other night (live tweeting is fun). It’s not about me broadcasting my every movement and thought online, it’s about engaging and conversing with everyone else’s. There is definitely merit in that.

So where to from here…I’m going to reinstall the Twitter app on my phone and see how it goes. If I get too distracted by it I can always delete it again. It’s not Twitter that’s the distraction, it’s me!

“She’ll let you fall asleep then eat you whole…” The truth about parenting.

I was going to write a warning here to stop reading if you don’t have children yet, or if your kids are babies, or if they are already grown into big strapping teenagers, or even adults, but what would the point of that be? I guess I’d get this thought off my chest but more importantly it would defeat my purpose today. Yes, I have a purpose in this post and that is to discuss the phrase “it’s only a phase.”

‘Refute’ is too strong a word but what I am trying to say is it IS just a phase but it will be followed by another phase, and another and another…it’s all just one BIG phase.

I remember when my babies wouldn’t settle themselves. Just a phase.

I remember the biting. Just a phase.

I remember when getting the youngest into a car seat was like wrestling a drunken octopus every time. Just a phase.

I remember when they would be picky eaters. Just a phase (that continually returns every few days or so depending on mood, phase of the moon, direction of the wind or colour of their socks).

They grow up a little and the phases change, but they are still there.

Currently there is the phase of stamping of feet, doors or anything with a hinge.

There is the pouting and shouting and telling your parents that you “hate them” (I’m expecting a resurgence of this phase in ten years or so).

There are lies creeping in…quickly followed by the admittance of them. Hopefully just a phase. Who am I kidding? Just a phase. It will pass…at least I hope so.

And so it all shall pass, but it is hard especially when you have two or more children going through their various stages at the same time. It is exhausting but all I can try to be is consistent and as understanding as I can be, which, believe me is not as easy as it may sound. It is frustrating and upsetting, and I know these current phases will pass only to be replaced by some other ‘phase’ or challenge.

Is it helpful to hear that “it’s just a phase”, a sentence that is bandied around in coffee groups, playgroups, playgrounds, family dinners? My gut reaction is no but with a little more thought I think maybe yes. If it is said kindly with a cup of tea being poured without asking, it is helpful. If it is said while someone puts an arm around your shoulder then yes, helpful again. Most helpful is when it is the last words you hear as they wander off to the playground with the child going through “the phase” to allow you to sit for five or ten minutes in relative peace and quiet. It is helpful when the person saying it is just reminding you on those difficult days that it shall pass and they are helping you.

Now, I’ve only mentioned a few difficult phases. Let’s remember those more positive times.

When your baby would only fall asleep on your shoulder in the middle of the day, all warm and snug and breathing like a little hedgehog. Just a phase.

When they would try to suck any nose that came near them when they were hungry in case it was a nipple. Just a phase (a very funny one).

When they would learn a new word and say it over and over again. Just a phase (borderline annoying but mainly cute).

There are many more. So what’s to come in this parenting journey is many more phases; some challenging, most fun. Each phase means your little people are developing, changing and dealing with those changes the best they can. 

I could end this with a flourish of clichés; these things are sent to try us, what won’t kill us will make us stronger etc etc…but I won’t. I’ll end by saying the truth about parenting:

It doesn’t get easier. Don’t believe them. The challenges just change. 

The joy of siblings

And if you need four words to simply live by:

I hope this helps. It helped me to write it. 

J xx

“Haven’t we heard enough?”…questions, questions and more questions. 

Instead of a blog post of prose today I am going to write you a list of questions I have been asked today by my three year old. You will either have empathy or sympathy for me, or laugh. This isn’t a comprehensive list, just a snapshot…and may I remind you this is just one day, twelve hours of her awake time. Here goes nothing:

  1. How do you build houses?
  2. How do you get the roof to stay on?
  3. Can I have a Weetbix on top of my porridge?
  4. Do I have to wear clothes?
  5. Can I change my clothes?
  6. Can I take my clothes off?
  7. Why is Auroa called Auroa?
  8. But why did her mum and dad call her that?
  9. Do mermaids get water in their eyes?
  10. Why does no one tell Ariel that she’s a good swimmer?
  11. Can I have morning tea for lunch?
  12. Is this a late morning tea or an early lunch?
  13. Can I have honey and ham on my sandwich?
  14. Can I take my clothes off?
  15. How do volcanoes work?
  16. Why are they so hot?
  17. Where do taniwhas live?
  18. Why don’t they burn themselves?
  19. Do lions, tigers and bears live in the woods?
  20. Why is it dark at night?
  21. Is the earth moving?
  22. Why do we have to brush our teeth?
  23. Why doesn’t my sister want to play with me?
  24. Why does the cat not wear shoes?
  25. Is it a kindy day tomorrow?

And in answer to that last question I say “Yes! Yes it is indeed a Kindy day tomorrow. Phew.”