In the Backyard

We are so grateful for this little secluded corner of the world that we now call home. After years and years of living in apartments high above ground, we finally have our own patch of green grass, our own little garden to tend. There are bees, and birds, and the neighbours’ cat who visits occasionally. There are pots with fragrant herbs, and a dwarf lemon tree that we have just planted, hoping to have sweet lemons next winter. A gorgeous frangipani will be in bloom very soon. I am slowly finding out that I do not actually suffer from a complete absence of the green thumb, and that almost all of my plants are actually thriving.

But the best part of having the backyard is that the little one can roam free and be outside whenever he wants. He loves watching the ants crawl along the pavement, loves chasing the birds, trying to offer them berries to eat, loves watering the plants. He looks for ladybugs, butterflies, lizards and “paaaaidi” (spiders).  He runs away from anything that buzzes, screaming. Whatever we are doing out there, he is right in the middle of it, offering a “helping” hand. And to see him play in our backyard, grow and learn new things about this world every single day is such joy.

Here are a few of those precious moments, captured.

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Stop and Blow the Bubbles

The last couple of months have been busy – we are preparing to move into our first home. As the big day is getting closer, and the trips to Bunnings become more and more frequent; and my head and my phone are full of endless to-do lists, I notice how much less present I am. For my boy and for myself too.

On one such day that was filled to the brim with organizing the renovations and the move, trying to keep the current place in order, and scrambling to get dinner ready before its set time, Daniel, who is perfectly aware of  what is happening, requested to blow bubbles together. Right in the middle of said dinner preparations. At first I got annoyed a bit – too much to do, so little time. But I gave in, sat on the couch, and started blowing bubbles for my baby. And then I saw it – the light. The bubbles, backlit by the rays of the setting sun, were floating gently, and then suddenly bursting into a million tiny water particles, creating the most magical sight. The glowing rim of light around Daniel’s tiny hands as he reached high to make the bubbles burst. The halo of his blond hair lit up by the sun. That pure joy on his face. So I just sat there and blew bubbles. Daniel lost interest and moved on to some other exciting toddler activity, but I went on and on. Just watching the bubbles float and then disappear with a little sparkly bang.

For the next few days, just before five in the afternoon, Daniel and I would pick up the little yellow bottle and blow bubbles together. And on one of those afternoons Daddy was home, and I was able to photograph those precious moments while he was blowing bubbles for our boy. And these photos (and the lesson in mindfulness from my 20-month-old) will be treasured forever.

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In Queenstown

Sometimes life gets a little bit too busy, and it takes me forever to post photos from our holidays. I try to find more time to spend at my computer but instead I collapse in a heap whenever I have a free moment (that is when Daniel is having his naps and he is having less and less of them). So, here we are, exactly two months after we came back from our favourite place on Earth, but somehow it feels like yesterday. These pictures take me back to those priceless moments when rainbows were welcoming us back to Queenstown, when trees were losing the last of those beautiful yellow leaves, when the air was crisp, when we were standing aboard T.S.S. Earnslaw, surrounded by the turquoise waters of Lake Wakatipu.

Oh how grateful I am for the camera in my hands.

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Lake Tekapo

We spent a few quiet days in Lake Tekapo, doing nothing really, just wandering along the lake shore, watching the rabbits hop, throwing stones into the cold waters, discovering quaint little streets lined with cozy cabins, where mushrooms were growing just on the side of the road and the air smelled of autumn leaves, cold wet earth, and smoke. We took a few drives to the top of Mount John and to Lake Alexandrina, and also to Lake Pukaki again, because Daniel fell asleep in the car and you don’t wake the sleeping baby – you just drive wherever the road takes you and enjoy the views and the adult conversation. The weather was wild and windy quite often during our three day stay, but we were blessed to witness the fresh snow covering the tops of the mountains on our first morning there.

Oh Lake Tekapo, what a special place you are to us. I remember the first moment we saw your shores many years ago – as we were nearing our destination after the three hour drive from Christchurch, and the sun was already behind the low clouds, and everything was pretty dark and gloomy around, but suddenly, as we took another turn, we saw your turquoise waters in front of us, so very blue even in that low light, and we just gasped. There is something magical in that place. It’s no wonder we keep returning there.

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Our Mountain

Mount Cook is “my mountain”. It took my breath away the first moment I saw it many years ago, and it never fails to make my heart beat fast every time I am blessed to have another chance to stand in front of it. We have my paintings and photos of it hanging on the walls at home, and Daniel waves good bye to Mount Cook every night he goes to bed. Mount Cook witnessed some of the happiest moments of our lives, so naturally I had been dreaming of taking Daniel to see it from even before he was born. So our first family holiday had to be in New Zealand, naturally.

We saw Mount Cook from the plane as we were flying towards Queenstown. It was such a sweet surprise to be flying so close to it, but I couldn’t show it to Daniel as he was peacefully asleep in my arms after long hours of travel.

As we were leaving Queenstown three days later to start our drive to Mount Cook and Lake Tekapo, I kept checking the weather forecast which was, unfortunately, not very promising. It was supposed to rain, rain, rain for the next three or four days. Which meant heavy clouds hanging low on the mountain, hiding it from our view, with no chances to see it. And rain it did. We spent two days inside our motel room or inside the car, taking shelter from the rain and the wind, but still venturing out for the drives around Lake Pukaki as the mountains are stunningly beautiful in any weather.

But on the morning of our last day in Mount Cook Village we woke up to starry, clear skies, despite the forecast. We quickly dressed our little one in layers and layers of warm clothing, and rushed to the lookout in front of The Hermitage. And my mountain was there, in all its glory. I lifted Daniel up, and pointed towards Mount Cook. “There.” I said. “This is our mountain, my little darling”.

We were lucky to have that clear morning, so lucky. We even managed a trek along Hooker Valley, to walk closer to Mount Cook, to be surrounded by one of the most stunning landscapes we ever witnessed. The clouds came back in the afternoon when we were already in Lake Tekapo, and it rained in Mount Cook village for days, so we never got the chance to see our mountain again during our holiday.

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