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Quiet Morning Scenes

January 20, 2016

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I now wake up slowly and gently in the morning, without an alarm clock. Being spared the need for numerous trips to the loo through the night I head to the bathroom, I come back to bed and lie on my side with a pillow between my legs and wait. Wait for it to begin. When it does, I’ll reach over for Patrick’s hand. Half asleep he’ll reposition himself against me, his hand resting on my belly. I wait again, but never for too long because the antics commence as if on cue. We feel nudges and kicks and elbows and feet. In a few seconds I’ll hear Patrick smile. Does that sound odd, that I hear him smile? I say that because I usually have my back to him but I feel like I can hear his facial muscles move into a smile. We spend a good portion of this quiet time talking to and playing with our baby and most of all trying to tickle that little foot!

A Book A Week in 2016: Lessons From 2015

January 6, 2016

 

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In 2015 I managed to get through 52 books, which I guess you could say amounts to a book a week but there were a few weeks where I didn’t finish anything and then weeks like this week where in the first six days of the year I’ve got through three books. Last year I made it a point to try not to buy too many new books, instead I borrowed from the library or browsed through op-shops. I did cave and buy a few new books – usually while I was travelling or if there was a book I felt I just needed to read right away! 

This year I want to be a little more intentional and organised when it comes to reading. With a baby due to make an appearance in a few months I’m not entirely sure what life will look like but nonetheless I’m remaining optimistic that there will be time to read.

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Here are a few lessons I learnt in 2015 and strategies I’m putting in place for 2016:

Read everyday.  I was able to do this for the most part. I found reading everyday, regardless of how tired I was, made a real difference.

Family reading time. It was one of the most enjoyable parts of the day – Miss 11, Patrick and I all curled up in the lounge with our books. I’m hoping Patrick and I can continue to manage to set time aside in the evenings to sit, engrossed in our books.

Have a list of books I want to read. I’ve got a list going on dropbox, which I can access on my phone, with a bunch of titles I really want to read. Many of them are newer books so it’ll probably be a while until they get to the second hand book stores, but it’s a handy list to have at the library. Or if I’m in a real pickle and end up at a book store I can at least ‘impulse’ buy a book that’s on my list.

Have books handy. While I may have the above list, one of my biggest problems is that I run out of books to read way too quickly. I’d have a tonne on my bedside table, get through them, and then not be able to replenish my stock with titles I actually want to read quick enough. Yesterday Patrick and I headed out to one of our favourite second hand book stores and bought a bunch of books (for $12 – that wouldn’t even have got us one book at a new books store!). I’m going to try to make trips like this a weekly ritual, perhaps a new take on Patrick and my book store dates!

Have a variety of books. Another hurdle I ran into last year was not having a mixture of books on hand. Sometimes I’d finish a non-fiction book and just want something light to read and not have anything on the shelf. The books I picked up yesterday were a great mix of fiction and non-fiction and covered a variety of topics. A book for every mood I suppose.

With these strategies in place, and in mind, I’m excited to get through even more books this year!

Year in Pictures: 2015

December 31, 2015

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This year I’ve taken a bit of a different approach to my traditional year in pictures post. With family coming and going and the general excitement of being an expectant mum I’ve let a few things slide this last month of the year. And for once, I don’t feel guilty about it. Our year started out really productively, Patrick and I were focused on our work and spent long leisurely days writing articles. Miss 10 turned 11 in Fiji, again. It seems to be a ‘thing’ with us, celebrating her birthday by escaping the New Zealand winter. Patrick and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary and shortly afterwards found out I was pregnant! My doctor put me on a travel ban from twenty weeks. This is the longest I’ve gone without being on a plane – it hasn’t been as tough as I thought it would be. I’ve packed away the Christmas tree and am looking forward to starting 2016 with intentionality and joy. Our last guests leave in the first week of January and then Patrick and I are looking forward to setting some intentions, making some travel plans, putting together lists (baby names, things to buy before baby arrives and things to go in my hospital bag…) Oh the excitement of what 2016 will bring has me antsy to get on with it! But for now, I’m going to enjoy the last rays of sunshine for the day and the love of family and friends that surround us at this very moment.

Thank you for all the love and support in 2015, I hope we can do it all again, bigger and better in 2016!

Much love,

Vanisha x

Other years in pictures2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011

First: The First True Conversation

October 6, 2015

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photo by kama catch me photography

“While people talk so much about the glow, the joy, the privilege of parenting (and all that’s true and beautiful), the first piece of truly useful information I received was that those little angels can really bring out the worst in you.”

A glimpse of my contribution to Volume 2 of The Kindred Collective on “Firsts”. You may recall that I contributed a story to the first issue of the magazine. It’s such a mindfully produced e-magazine with a strong community, I knew I wanted to be part of it again. Both volumes are on sale now, and still $10 each, with part of the proceeds from each sale going to Dr Catherine Hamlin’s Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia. If you have $10 to spare and you’re interested, you can head over and buy yourself a copy of The Kindred Collective here. I’d love to hear what you think of the magazine, and my heartfelt thanks to those of you who have already purchased a copy.

The Kindred Collective Volume I: Birth $10

The Kindred Collective Volume II: First $10

The Kindred Collective Bundle: Volume I & 2 $17 

How We Found Out

September 28, 2015

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It’s been a week since we shared our news on Instagram and we couldn’t be more humbled or appreciative of all the love and support. Many friends and family members expressed surprise – of course they would – we were surprised. After being told three years ago that I wouldn’t be able to conceive naturally and that if I did it would be risky for both myself and the baby Patrick and I made peace with life and moved on. It was devastating but we’ve always been aware of how lucky we are. In our personal lives, our relationship and our career. It hasn’t always been easy and we’ve had our challenges but we’ve come out of them so much stronger and happier – even if they made us sad or angry at the time.

Friends have asked if we were ‘trying’. I find this hard to answer. I mean we’ve always had an incredibly intimate relationship but we weren’t like okay the time’s right let’s go. I’ve never been able to figure out the right time because my cycles have always been all over the place. We really had moved on and made plans that didn’t involve a child – with the exception of Miss 11.

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We had returned from a lovely holiday in Fiji in June where our friends the Kama’s from Kama Catch Me Photography took these incredible family photos for us. It was the weekend we were back that things happened. Four weeks later I would say to anyone who would listen “I have all the symptoms of being pregnant but I know I’m not pregnant”. My periods had always been irregular so it was pointless looking at that as a marker, besides I had no idea when I had my last one. I’ve never kept tabs on these things. I had started a rigorous abs and squat exercise routine with the goals of being the fittest I’ve ever been by my 30th birthday (next July). My appetite was insatiable. And my breasts looked the best they’d ever looked.

Coincidentally around this time we had met some parents who have children who suffer from Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). Another evening we were at a public lecture where a paediatrician was talking about FASD. He mentioned how a mother’s body is able to get rid of the alcohol but that the fetus/baby cannot. Patrick and I talked about it most of the evening in relation to young girls who have no idea they’re pregnant and continue binge drinking (part of what the lecture covered). I don’t binge drink and looking back I think since returning from Fiji until the point we found out  I might have had 3 glasses of alcohol over a month and a bit.

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Patrick and I had picked up a couple of bottles of cider and he was getting dinner ready. I remember I was in our bedroom thinking about how hungry I was and all these changes and how I  really couldn’t wait to get into that cider. Then I started remembering all the FASD discussions we’d been part of. I started to worry. I knew I had a pregnancy test left from the beginning of the year when my period was soooo late I was terrified. Funny enough at that point I was scared. I didn’t want to be pregnant. I’m not sure why, perhaps we had come so far and our lives were pretty perfect as it was. I wasn’t pregnant then.

I pulled out the test and headed to the bathroom. Patrick had no idea what I was doing or thinking. I had told my sister that weekend that I’d do a test after Patrick’s birthday in August if I didn’t get my period. So I did the test and waited and then I walked briskly out to Patrick and said can you come with me. He looked worried. He came into the bathroom and I asked, how many lines do you see? “Two” and looks at me like can’t you count? Before he realised what he was looking at. The way I felt earlier in the year vanished. I was happy. I was scared about what the doctors told me but I was excited. I messaged my sister straight away and then we sat down to dinner. There was a bottle of cider in front of me. I couldn’t stop smiling and pushed it over to Patrick.

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Miss 11 looked at me puzzled. “What’s going on?”, “What you do mean?” (still smiling so much it hurt), “You look so happy!” We asked her if she could keep a secret and that it would be family talk (our family, as in the three of us) and that she wouldn’t be able to say anything to her parents for a while. She promised. So we told her, I said we had a long way to go to confirm the test. She beamed and in a single breath said “Congratulations! I’m so happy. But I’m not going anywhere!” It was the cutest thing ever.

The next morning Patrick and Miss 11 went to the supermarket to get me another test – you know, just to make sure! This one too came out positive. I went to the doctors and got my bloods taken. The next day the results came in confirming that I was indeed pregnant, with the HCG levels putting me at about 6 weeks. It was time to book the ultrasound. Miss 11 left school early that day and we all went to the appointment together. As soon as the image came up on the screen I noticed the heartbeat straight away! There it was. It took Patrick and Miss 11 a couple of moments to figure out what was what. We were told before the ultrasound not to be too surprised if we couldn’t see a heartbeat but there it was and so the journey began…

In Conversation

August 5, 2015

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photo by kama catch me

“I had people tell me I didn’t look Indian, or ‘act’ Indian but no one taught me how an Indian girl should act. I was taught how a human being should act. Ethnicity wasn’t the first explanation we reached for to explain differences”

“I’m in constant competition. With myself. I don’t really compare myself to other people – not because I’m arrogant but because I don’t know their stories, their standards, and their challenges. It just seems unreasonable. Instead I compete with myself every single day”

Last week I sat down to a rather candid interview with fellow creative Arieta from Talanoa (the word talanoa is the Fijian, Samoan and Tongan word meaning to talk or discuss). What started out as just another interview gained so much positive response that Arieta and I have been left wondering what we could possibly do next to build on this. Before I get too carried away on the next steps I wanted to share this interview with my readers and my community. I talk about ethnicity and race issues, career and business as well as my journey. I think in part the response has been what it is because this is an aspect of my story that I hadn’t really shared. I hope you enjoy it and as always, I love your feedback (positive and constructive).

You can find the full interview here.

Kindred Spirits

July 8, 2015

Becoming a parent (how ever you become one) grants you access to an informal, there but not there collective. As soon as I started taking care of Miss 11 a whole other world opened to me. I was connecting with women – mothers – with who at first glance I had nothing in common with. But in a deeper more meaningful way, we were actually kindred spirits. Women just doing the best they could for their children, families and themselves. Women who regardless of who birthed their children, or how their children were birthed shared the title of mum.

When Caitlin and Bettina reached out to ask me to contribute a story to The Kindred Collective, an e-magazine they were developing I said yes. The first volume was going to be on the theme of Birth. I was stumped. Birth? I didn’t birth Miss 11. It took me many weeks of putting pen to paper to finally realise that I was thinking of birth too literally. Instead I decided to write about the birth of my family, or more honestly, my birth as a mother. There are so many wonderful stories of birth in this first edition of The Kindred Collective.

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I think you’ll enjoy it. The magazine has almost 100 pages of beautifully strung words and images, interwoven with the most honest human emotions. Birth Volume I of The Kindred Collective is on sale now for $10. Part of the proceeds from the sale of each magazine goes to the Dr Catherine Hamlin Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia. If you have $10 to spare and you’re interested, you can head over and buy yourself a copy of The Kindred Collective here. I’d love to hear what you think of the magazine, and my heartfelt thanks to those of you who have already purchased a copy.

The Kindred Collective Volume I

 

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