Upcoming challenges

Two months ago I sustained a nasty knee injury while playing netball. I landed awkwardly and tore my anterior cruciate ligament (the ACL – the main stabilising ligament inside my knee), my meniscus, and also managed a couple of small fractures. The most problematic part of all that is the ACL as it doesn’t heal by itself and means my knee would be permanently unstable without surgery.

Next week I am booked in to have reconstruction surgery, which will replace this ligament with a graft of part of my hamstrings. I have almost finalised the logistics of life for during my immediate recovery – childcare and managing the house etc.

It feels a little like when a new baby is imminent: the freezer is stocked with meals, everyone’s sheets are on the line, the bathroom is due to be cleaned this weekend. Family and friends have been notified of possible incoming requests for transporting children and helping out.

I expect to have about six weeks off work, and hopefully will be able to ride an exercycle and do some exercises in the pool after 3-4 weeks. It will be about 9 months before I can do things like play netball or ‘proper’ mountain biking, but I should feel pretty comfortable with easy biking and kayaking over the summer.

The main silver lining is what great professional development this is – I have learnt a lot about recovering from a significant injury and how it fits into the bigger picture of somebody’s life.

Alyssa says to Antz: “after mummy’s surgery, you should make her a cup of tea and I will make my own breakfast”, and Toby says “mummy feel better soon”. Yep, that’s the plan.


Little People Update

Yesterday morning I was at the swimming pool and a little class of five year olds came in for lessons. I watched them and found it a little too easy to imagine Alyssa amongst them. She is very keen to be five.



Alyssa continues to be very caring and maternal. She and her close friend at daycare spend the bulk of their time looking after the toy babies. She adores her tiny cousin Ryder and is very gentle with him.





At home, she doesn’t have quite so much interest in helping me in the kitchen as she used to, but is usually busy immersed in complicated imaginary games. Today, she invited all of her imaginary daycare friends to visit her imaginary swimming pool in the living room, and they had imaginary swimming lessons together.





Recently she has been most interested in letters and reading and writing. She loves to play a modification of eye spy – “what is in the trees that starts with P” she asks, and eventually has to help me out with the answer being Possum. She likes to think of as many words starting with a particular letter as she can. However, although she can write most of the letters, and sound out all the consonants in words and usually get the vowels, she balks under any remote pressure of writing much apart from Alyssa, Ally, Toby, Mum, Dad, Angus and Nani. The more adult-goal oriented encouragement Alyssa receives, the less she engages. She is not a performer.



“Ally”, self portrait. Note the plaits and necklace, and you can just see an arm coming out at about ear level.



Toby celebrated his second birthday last Thursday, June 30th. His wee personality continues to develop along the same themes. In contrast to Alyssa, he is a bit of a performer and loves to make people laugh.



Last few moments of being a one year old


He is courageous and brave, and is eager to give anything a go. This is probably contributed by him adoring his big sister, and being keen to join in with whatever she is doing. Remember how Alyssa ignored the toilet until she was 2 3/4, and could use it entirely independently. Toby, in Toby fashion, is just keen to get involved and give it a go now. He likes to get on it between each nappy change and concentrates very hard until he does a little wee or fart. Then toilet paper, flush and hand washing.



He has a fairly extensive vocabulary but is really only just starting to construct sentences. At times he strings about four words together, other times it’s just a couple. Alyssa is very helpful at interpreting what he is saying, although often this is just an exact mimic of what he has said which isn’t as helpful as she thinks.

Toby continues to have a voracious appetite and often eats adult quantities of things. He also isn’t remotely fussy and tucks in to what ever he can get his hands on.



Overall, there is just something about him that is absolutely delicious. It might be the way he says ‘oh’ in a perfectly agreeable fashion, or the way he articulates things like ‘darling mummy’, ‘please mummy’, and ‘love you’; or maybe it’s the little patch of soft skin on the nape of his neck. Perhaps it’s that he is at this incredible age where any things that frustrate him only do so in an endearing fashion, and aren’t remotely tiresome. Or possibly, it’s just that he’s mine and thus I love him so.







GODZone 2016

It’s already mid June, so GODZone is now old news – but here is the write up of a very incredible experience.

As well as all the obvious reasons for it being quite tough, I had missing my babies to contend with. I’d been away from each of them for the occasional night previously, but never for 12 days, and never for a full week with no contact. To make it a little easier I wrote them a wee story as the team and I drove up to Nelson before the race started, illustrated it and posted it down so they received it mid week. At the time of writing the story I didn’t know the course but obviously managed a pretty good guess on what it was going to be like!

When our mummy goes adventuring – A special story for Alyssa and Toby Longman

In the Kahurangi Hills is an event called GODZone
Where teams of four are never alone
For around them are mountains, lakes and tuis in trees
Powelliphanta snails, whio and kiwis
Seventy teams racing in this adventure like no other
And in one team is Alyssa and Toby’s mother


Megan, Andie, Sophie and Sue
They can do anything that boys can do
Brave and fit, strong and fast
They race with strategy and watch the kilometres go past
They trained together back in Queenstown
For hours trekking uphill, and many kilometres biking down


The trek stage is hilly, hard and long
When spirits flags Andie leads us in a song
Darkness falls and it begins to rain
Sore feet and shoulders – everyone’s in pain
Sophie navigates and says “I know just where we are,
The transition and hot food aren’t very far”


The team keeps moving, steady and strong
With a transition to bikes not before long
At the TA they don their helmets and change their shoes
“Let’s go team, not a moment to lose”
Tired legs get the wheels going ’round
And the next checkpoint is quickly found


Megan loves her bike but is starting to miss
Her favourite little people, Toby and Lys
“It’s ok Megs, keep pushing through
You know they’ll be sending love to you
Everyone’s watching and tracking our dot
And we are in the most magical spot


Spirits are strong and the team moves forward
With the incredible scenery, no one can be bored
The team hit the river and pump the canoes
Then set off downriver for a bit of a cruise
Rapids and rocks on a cold blue river
Waves and holes, what and adventure!


Up next is a sea kayak stage
Sue’s got the course book, with details on each page
This stage is complex, with islands to find
Make sure no checkpoints are left behind!
The team is tired and want to sleep and eat
But continue on through the sunset and don’t miss a beat

sea kayak

Finally the girls see the finish is near
They share wide grins and begin to yell and cheer
“We have done it, we said we would
It was super tough but we knew that we could”
When things are hard, never stop trying
And through life’s challenges you’ll be flying.



PS: I am aware that my creativity is more aligned towards the written word rather than the accompanying visuals… But there was time pressure!


A Toby Mis-Adventure

Remember in my last Alyssa and Toby update I said “Toby leaps in and delightfully gives anything a go without much consideration for the consequences or whether he’s actually capable or not”?

A month ago he did exactly this climbing on a high curved ladder at the playground. Even though I was standing right beside him spotting he slipped and fell, resulting in a fractured fibula and tibia – leg bones at his ankle.

So then we had this:


Didn’t slow him down much, we had cherry picking assistance and plenty of climbing:

And when his cast came off his friends signed it with him at daycare:




New Blog – check it out!

I have been busy developing a new blog for our GODZone team, so that we can share our training trips and give our sponsors some promotion. Check it out, and follow our adventure by subscribing by email (link at the bottom of the pages). Over the next couple of months as Life is GODZone I’ll probably be mostly writing on that site.

Perhaps there will be a return to sewing, gardening and recipes after April! Actually, our vege garden is ticking along well and I’m pretty much only buying carrots and the occasional capsicum at the moment. Along with the abundance of local free-to-source stone fruit at the moment we are eating very sustainably. I peered at the label of pears in the supermarket today and decided conscientiously that we don’t need to eat fruit which has travelled from the states. (Still buying bananas though. Does anyone with children survive without them??!)



Our team website: https://visitqueenstownadventureracing.wordpress.com

thomsons 1

Training Trip Report: Thomson’s Gorge

GODZone is going to involve long kilometers, many meters of elevation, unfamiliar environments and missions through the night.

Thomson’s Gorge last week had all of this – in fact on this trip we managed a 5th of GODZone’s probable distance and elevation, which is some comfort!

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 9.31.26 PM

Discipline: Bike
Distance: 100km
Elevation: 2200m
Pace: 11.5km/hour

Claire and I got dropped just out of Omakau at 6.45pm last Friday, after a full day at work for Claire and a morning of hill walking then childcare for me. Her Dad who drove us was wondering what possessed us to do this trip, and whether we actually expected to enjoy it.

I explained that for some people, the “not-enjoying-it” becomes the reason why it’s enjoyable. The more painful, tough and challenging an activity, the more delicious is the achievement of completion. (Remind me of that in the first week of April, please). Claire fortunately is this type of person, so she is great fun to mission with – we share some joy in suffering together.

thomsons 2

The first few hours had plenty of suffering as we combined the most horrendous head wind with the hilly Thomson’s Gorge. Thomson’s Gorge carves through the Dunstan Range in a Nor west direction, so is perfectly placed to optimise a howling nor’wester.

However, we were rewarded by the most incredible light at the saddle – a dark and stormy sky with a vividly golden sunset touching the hills.

thomsons 1

Darkness descended and it started to rain as we dropped down into Bendigo. Navigation looked straightforward on our map as it only showed a couple of roads. In fact there were dozens and there were a number of occasions where we peered out into the darkness trying to figure out which contour line we sat on. Had it been light I’m sure it would have been a piece of cake.

We did some interesting learning on how challenging it can be to keep moving – over perhaps a half hour period we stopped for food, for lights, for jackets, and then for a navigation check. Room for improvement with that sort of inefficiency.

The road ride to Bannockburn was fast and flat and Claire drafted me in our top gears the whole way. We had a brief re-fueling stop at her house in Bannockburn then got back in the saddle to ride the Pylon/Hawksburn track home to Alexandra. A police car cruised alongside us, curious as to what two girls were doing on the back roads of Bannockburn at midnight.

I pulled into our garage at 3.30 am (saddle sore and desperate for bed) and checked my strava to find I’d ridden 99.2km. So back on the bike and around the block to clock 100…

thomsons 3


GODZone 2016

I’m always one for challenges, and as they go GODZone Chapter 5 is going to be epic.

For the past year or so I’ve thought, in a semi theoretical sense, that competing in GODZone is something I’d like to achieve in my 30’s. You know, because I sorted the degree, marriage, house, children combination in my 20’s, I need something pretty neat for the next decade.

Just over a month ago a colleague mentioned that her GODZone team had lost a member due to training/time commitments. She knew I was (theoretically) keen. My immediate response was the sensible one – too much money ($2k entry each!) and not enough time to train with a young family – I’ll do it in a few years instead.

However, the concept ticked away in my periphery and temptation steadily gnawed away at that sensible response. It wasn’t long before Opportunity and Epic Challenge won over, and after an honest discussion with my more-supportive-than-he-should-be husband: I committed to the team.

So there we have it – just under than four months filled to the brim with the most challenging biking, trekking and kayaking missions we can think of, to prepare us for an Adventure Like No Other – up to seven days continuous exploration of the Tasman region.

So far…

Family Walks on the farm




Moke Lake to Queenstown via Ben Lomond



Quality Time with hubby bagging summits



Children Assisted Training – bike trailer and pram walking, up to 5 hours is their limit…

alex clyde loop


Skippers Saddle to Moke Lake via Stony Creek

stony creek ride

Poolburn réservoir to Alexandra via the Serpentine Church, Lake Onslow and the Knobbies

onslow trip 1




onslow trip

South and North Branch Wye Creek

wye creek


And many more little trips too!

Antz and I are seeing each other for a coffee before work and the occasional lunch break, and otherwise we are tag-teaming the children as we both fit in the training we need to be doing (he is doing the Shotover Moonlight Mountain Marathon in a month).

So, I shall endeavour to keep the blog a little more updated with loads of interesting adventures.


Toby and Alyssa Update

I’m pretty sure Alyssa has had more of a documented life than Toby, so I shall endeavour to catch up a little!

Toby’s current focus is learning to talk. As of the last one or two weeks he has embarked on his language explosion phase. Until recently he really just had ‘Mummy, Daddy’ and then a couple of days of a word here and there such as ‘peanut butter’ and ‘bisgabadi’ (spaghetti – an Alyssa-ism which we wholeheartedly encourage).


He’s now coming up with a new word most days and his vocab includes ‘bike, bath, bye, Nani, Poppa, bubble, bumblebee, car, present, yeah, and no’. Unlike Alyssa, who started with clearly articulated words from the start, a lot of Toby’s are just the first half of the word. This difference is constantly apparent in their personalities – Alyssa observes, analyses then will participate when she knows she’s got it sorted. Toby leaps in and delightfully gives anything a go without much consideration for the consequences or whether he’s actually capable or not. Boy versus girl, or just Antz versus Megan influence – who knows?



On this theme, Alyssa seems to particularly dislike being wrong or doing the wrong thing. She’ll happily ‘pretend’ to be mischievous and wait for someone to affirm her boundaries, but if she thinks she thinks she’s doing the right thing and gets told off her face slowly crumples and she becomes terribly upset. She sees right through someone who’s making fun of her – even in a kind, adult-condesending kind of way, and rewards the people who truly respect her. You know, people are constantly belittling and underestimating children – with the tone of their voice, the words they use, the side comments to other adults, and with their body language. Children are smart, people! (especially mine, obviously).

alyssa 1

lyssa exploring

uncle ian

Toby has also just transitioned to being all about his Daddy. He is absolutely delighted when Antz gets home from work, and would much prefer a Daddy cuddle if he’s hurt. This has probably coincided with him deciding to finish breastfeeding – his last feed was on his 17 month birthday and although he’d been down to just one morning feed a day for a while, I had hoped to keep going for quite some months yet. Perhaps due to the WHO recommendations to feed up to the age of 2 and beyond, or the stats that show the much reduced risk of breast cancer when feeding that long – but it’s a mutually agreeable relationship and Toby was done. Given that he was never that into it from the start it’s probably a good thing he stuck with it for that long anyway!

boys on the bbq

toby sleeping

Alyssa has really left toddler-hood behind. She loves imaginary games and directing Toby with what is role is. She is much cuddlier than she used to be and will snuggle endlessly listening to stories, and is riveted by any imaginary stories I make up with a character with her name – whatever it may be. Most of the time she is lovely with Toby – looking out for him, telling me if he’s hurt himself and including him in her games. Occasionally she gets in a pushing-kicking-you can’t play with me mood, but fortunately this isn’t the norm at the moment.

alyssa writing

alyssa drawing

alyssa and georgie

And Toby, fortunately for him, is a total cruiser. He’s clingy at times wanting to be picked up, but generally all he’s asking for is for us to be present – to sit on the floor and be there with him. He still loves going up in the wrap (thank goodness, I’d struggle if I’d lost breastfeeding and wrapping) and we still use this as our main form of transport – Toby up on my back and Alyssa riding her bike. He loves to be free to explore and climb, and is a bold adventurer. We walked up a steep hill for a picnic dinner the other week, and Toby insisted on walking down himself – despite repeatedly stumbling and tumbling and somersaulting – he just dusted himself off and kept on going.

toby missions

playing together

In the daily care side of things, Toby is an eater of everything and Alyssa is not. Although, usually at dinner time now she will eat something – it’s not that often that she doesn’t even eat a mouthful. She doesn’t eat many intact vegetables and meat unless it’s processed and salty, however tucks into things that I make from scratch such as vege filled pasta sauce, gnocchi, vege nachos or pasta sauce infused scones. Alyssa and Toby share a room and sleep from around 7pm to 6.30am, each having the occasional wake up for water (Toby) or the toilet (Alyssa). I’ve blogged about Alyssa coming out of day nappies, and a month or so ago she was dry one night so she was out of her night nappy the next, and she’s only wet the bed once on waking at 6am.

toby eating


toby alyssa granny

alyssa maia matt

cousin story

Versatile Vege Mix – A recipe for vegetarian lasagna, nachos or wraps

It can be great to have this meal base in the freezer – pull it out and add the appropriate flavouring, and that’s most of the meal done. A clever way to eat frugally and get vegetables into small children!

Versatile Veges – For vegetarian lasagna or vege nachoes/wraps

Fry onion and garlic, then add lots of chopped veg – whatever you like, but lots of portobello mushrooms are great for flavour and to make the finished product look like mince.

Add orange lentils and vegetable stock (you can work out the proportions, I just wing it).

Simmer until everything is cooked and the water absorbed.

Blitz it in the food processor and once again, freeze in meal sized portions.

If you know what you plan to do with it you can add flavours early on. I use this mix for either a vegetarian lasagna, or for vege nachos or wraps and so the flavours differ.

For nachos – make a watery paste with cornflour, water and lots of cumin, paprika and a little coriander, cayenne pepper and salt. Stir this through the veges and cook for a bit.

For lasagna – flavour with oregano and bay leaves and salt/pepper.

My vege lasagna works well layering fresh pasta with this vege mix and a cottage cheese/egg mix, then topping with my home made pasta sauce. A cheese sauce over the top is nice if you can be bothered, otherwise just a little grated cheese.


Vege mix layered on pasta


Alyssa helping to make the pasta

Cheese layer - cottage cheese and eggs

Cheese layer – cottage cheese and eggs



Ready to bake

Ready to bake

Smashing your food bill – Curry Sauce and Pasta Sauce

I always have a supply of home made curry sauce and pasta sauce in the freezer – it’s a great way to use up any languishing vegetables, is cheap and healthy, and a quick work day meal. The pasta sauce is a particular winner, because Alyssa loves pasta (and not much else for dinner – so we try to have it once a week for her weekly vege intake).

Curry Sauce:

Fry a generous amount of spices in oil – I like to use garam masala, loads of cumin, coriander and a little chilli.

Add onion, garlic and fresh ginger (anti food waste tip – freeze your ginger and just grate off how much you need, no need to peel first).

Add any veg you’d like to be included, but loads of spinach is a must.

Add canned tomatoes and tomato paste.

Simmer for a while, then blitz in the food processor, divide into meal sized portions and freeze.

This curry sauce is fantastic with leftover roast lamb, chickpeas and peas – but great for any meat you have.

Pasta Sauce – a similar process to above

Gently fry onion and garlic in a very generous amount of olive oil. Add lots of roughly chopped veges – carrots and celery are great, but anything really. Fry gently until the onion is very clear.

Add canned tomatoes and tomato paste and some herbs (bay leaves and oregano are good), and softly simmer for ages until it’s starting to look a little ‘jam’ like.


This will be pasta sauce on the left, and Versatile Vege Mix on the right

Blitz in the food processor then freeze in meal sized portions.

The best free food processor - love our wee community!

The best free food processor – love our wee community!

Ready to eat, or freeze

Ready to eat, or freeze

A favourite meal for the children is this pasta sauce with chopped sausages and peas, stirred through spiral pasta with grated cheese.