Chapter 20: Half-Marathon

I ran a half-marathon.

Which basically means I can do anything, because ARE YOU FRIGGIN KIDDING ME, I RAN A HALF-MARATHON?!

I’m the chubby kid who hated cross-country Wednesday almost as much as I hated math (i.e. A LOT) – and six months ago, I couldn’t have run two kilometres, let alone 21.

And yet here we are.

I, Kate the Non-Runner, have a medal for the Wellington Round the Bays Half-Marathon, and I didn’t even buy it off TradeMe.

shook
Both how shook I was to have finished, and an accurate description of my legs post race.

Started from the bottom, now we here

I am deadly serious when I say I couldn’t run 2km in a row six months ago.

I had a baby in November 2017, so my cardiovascular fitness (and pelvic floor) were missing in action for the first half of last year.

As I started to emerge from the new parent fog some time in July, I must of been feeling a bit of get up and go, because I decided to start this blog and to take up running.

I’d always wanted to do a half-marathon, so making it a Thirty Before Thirty goal put just the right amount of internet accountability on myself to actually commit to running 21km in a row.

Lamp post to lamp post

My first couple of jogs were a true family affair.

My husband Taka was recovering from a knee injury (which he actually ended up needing to have surgery for – but more on that later), so the two of us strapped on our sneakers, put the baby in the buggy and the dog on the lead, and we took to the streets … taking on one lamp post at a time.

We were super slow. Bucky the Westie was the worst. I think I was basically dragging him by the home-stretch.

But little by little we were able to run further, and faster. And eventually I ditched the boys altogether (mainly for the sake of Bucky, and to snaffle up some “me time”).

I still remember the total euphoria at running our 4km neighbourhood block without stopping.

If I could give you one tip for starting running, it would be: let yourself suck. Running ALWAYS sucks at the start. Don’t beat yourself up because you “should” be able to do more, or it “shouldn’t” be this hard. Because running IS hard. At the start especially. But … the more you do it, the better you get, and the more fun it gets. Stick with it, and give yourself permission to suck.

I kept doing the neighbourhood block run for a while to really get my feet back in the game, and then I started doing destination runs.

By which I mean, I drove somewhere to run.

Running river

It was around this time that I started this six-week training plan to give myself some structure, and to make sure I was getting enough kilometres in.

(If I’m honest, I didn’t do the speed work, and I only averaged about three runs a week. One lunchtime jog, one during the week, and one on the weekend. All of which were captured on Strava, cause if it’s not on Strava, did it even happen?)

My favourite place to run was the Hutt Valley River Trail.

The map has clear markings so I could see how long my loops were (for someone who hates math, I bloody love running stats), it’s mostly flat, and the river and bush are super pretty.

It was there that I ran my first 10km, 12km, and 16km; practiced with gels (these are my faves); did my first Park Runs; ran through detailed scenarios in my head about how I would fend off an attacker; and listened to countless episodes of Sports? with Katie Nolan and the RISE Podcast.

They were really nice times. Especially as the bulk of my training was done was during our surprisingly tropical summer.

They were also made possible because my husband Taka had knee surgery in early January, so I was able to do some sizable mid-week (as well as weekend) training runs while he looked after our little man at home.

I have nothing but fond memories of that summer along the river.

Running tips with Kate: Not sure you can run long distance? Go really, really slow. Learn how to pace yourself. You might not be as fit and fast as you’d like to be, but if you’ve got a reasonable base level of fitness, you should be able to finish if you hit it “tortoise” (not hare) style and go slow and steady.

Round the Bays – In Theory

The course for Wellington Round the Bays is beautiful.

It starts at Frank Kitts Park, and then follows the Wellington waterfront along past Oriental Bay, Evans Bay (literally all of the bays), past the Miramar turnoff, and winds around the water until you’re nearly at Scorching Bay, and then you double-back to Kilbirnie Park.

Or, see: course map.

Full-Course-Map-2019-LRes
I also recommend doing a drive of the course, it helped me visualise where I was up to on the day. 

Round the Bays – In practice

In practice, it was a little bit different.

Race day

Miraculously, my son slept through the night, and I didn’t wake up until my alarm went off at 5pm.

I turned it off, snuck out of bed, and slunk into the bathroom to get changed into my bike shorts, singlet, shoes, and chic as hell fanny pack (it nipped me in at the waist so well I’m deliberating wearing one on the regular).

Next stop was the kitchen, where I made myself two pieces of Vogel’s toast with peanut butter and banana, and a black coffee.

Then it was game face time. Back to the bathroom, and on with: Goodness Every Morning Moisturiser (gotta get that SPF), Rimmel Lasting Finish Foundation and Stay Matte Pressed Powder, Benefit Brow Contour Pro, and Benefit Roller Lash.

Which some of you may not think of as essential race-day prep, to which I say to you:

Race photos.

I’m going to be looking dreadful – because running 21kms – so I’m going to at least give my face a fighting chance at looking Instagrammable.

Then there was a knock, knock, knock on the door.

My hype squad had arrived.

Here’s my mum, with the most wonderfully non-sensical sign I’ve ever seen. I loved it.
My gorgeous mum and her famously non-sensical but wildly encouraging sign.

She bundled me into her (Taylor) Swift at 6.45am, and we talked excitedly all the way into Wellington about the training I’d done and how I hoped I wouldn’t end up in an ambulance.

She had that proud mum energy that us attention-seeking first-borns are forever thirsty for.

Then we were there, and it was time for a nervous wee in a portaloo, before assembling at the starting line.

The first 5km

Sports? with Katie Nolan – Now that we found love

Were super easy. I was determined to pace myself well, so stuck to my guns and plodded along slowly, unperturbed by the hundreds of fit people passing me.

I had to stop for another nervous wee at the first portaloo.

From 5km to 10km

The RISE Podcast with Rachel Hollis – 80: The Hard Things That Will Throw You Off-Course (And How To Fight Them)

Still not too bad. I’d seen mum and her hilarious sign twice, I’d had a gel, and I was just entering the shade of the final knob of the race course.

From 10km-15km

Jules and Sarah with the Rapids

This last section is much longer than I remember.

Have another gel.

I’m also seeing a very disconcertingly large number of people coming back past me towards the finish line, but the turnaround point is nowhere to be seen.

At 14km I finally get to turn around.

Gosh, it’s a long way back.

From 15km-21km

ZM’s Fletch, Vaughan & Megan Podcast – February 15 2019

Pass the 16km marker. This is officially the longest I’ve ever run in my life.

Remember how when I did my 16km training run my calves had started cramping as soon as I stopped.

The calves are twitching, threatening to cramp.

I have to get going.

Contemplate getting a tattoo of XXI in honour of completing the race, which I tell myself I will, to remind myself that I can do bloody anything.

The last 1km is so hard. I want to stop. But I don’t want to stop, because my calves are going to absolutely murder me.

And then I can see the finish line – through approximately 5 million buggys – and I slowly attempt to weave my way towards it.

I’ve done it! I have an enormous medal! MUM! Good Lord, I can’t walk. Oh no, we have to walk to the car, 500 miles away. But I DID IT! I ACTUALLY DID IT!

Proceeds to eat a double-pack One Square Meal Bar, and demolish a blue Powerade like Steven Adams, as we go the long way home through Island Bay.

I am amazing.

Fancy a run?

Honestly, if I can do it, you can do it.

Seize the day. Get some sneakers. And let your body amaze you with what it’s capable of.

Just run, Forrest.

Kate x

Chapter 17: I Wrote a Book

My mum had cancer last year.

And I’m so insanely glad to be able to say had, because I know so many people aren’t so lucky.

Cancer is an asshole.

Thankfully, my mum had very early stage breast cancer that was picked up as part of regular screening.

(Speculums up your fachina, pancaked boobs, fingers up bums … regular cancer checks aren’t exactly a good time, but they could literally save your life, so get it done, son!)

But back to my dazzlingly intriguing headline.

I wrote a book.

Actually, I wrote three. And to be fair, calling them books is a bit of a stretch.

They’re short kids’ stories.

And I wrote them for my mum.

The Pirate Queen

My mum’s birthday is coming up on 7 February, and this time last year, when she was feeling weak and nauseous and generally terrible, I wanted to do something to help.

I have pretty limited skills, and none of them include oncology, so I used what I had, and I wrote her a story where she was the hero.

Specially, a golden armour-wearing, flying pirate ship captaining, queen who’s greatest weapon is her powerful butt trumpet (farts guys, we’re talking about farts).

It was full of in-jokes and people from her life (including her partner Ian, who is a literal Silver Fox in the book, and my son Ezekiel, who’s the other protagonist), and is all about her defeating the Can-Can Dancing Crabs that have taken her prisoner.

Super subtle allegory.

I wrote her another one for Mother’s Day called The White Dog, which was an origin story about Bucky (my real life West Highland White terrier), who’s a enormous flying dog from the City in the Sky (the high-lands, get it, get it) in the book.

And then this week, I wrote the third installment (which I’ve included at the end of this post) in time for her birthday celebrations at the Botanic Gardens on Saturday.

Sick loved one?

It’s easy to feel a bit useless when you have a loved one who’s ill, because you want to be able to do something to help fix it. But often, there really is nothing you can do … which is a difficult place to find yourself.

Obviously, I am by no means an expert, but here are some things that helped me last year when my mum was sick:

  1. Know that you can’t actually make them feel better. It was literally impossible for me to make my mum feel like she hadn’t just been hit by the chemo-truck. But, I could make her feel loved, and noticed, and appreciated, and special.
  2. I’m pretty good at writing. So I wrote a book. What are you good at? Gardening? Cooking? Photography? Tax …? Do something thoughtful using the talents you have. Sometimes it can be hard for people to verbally express how they’re feeling – but actions carry love well. Doing your sick mum’s taxes will be one less thing she has to worry about!
  3. Just be there. You don’t need to feel like you have to say the perfect thing that will somehow magically make them feel better (see: #1), because most people in pain don’t actually want advice. They just want to be heard, and not to be alone.

Also, I want to give you a big hug through this screen if you are going through something like this at the moment. It’s so hard and crap.

But you are stronger than you think, and you’re loved more than you know, and you will get through this.

Lots of love,

Kate x

(Love you extra much, Mum)

Important background info:

  • Mum and Ian recently got a shiny new fridge, which unfortunately (but funnily) fell on Ian. He’s fine.
  • Mum is obsessed with sparkling water. I am obsessed with carrot cake.
  • My son’s nickname is Zeke.
  • Mum’s grandma name is Nona.
  • Like kids on Fortnite, Mum and Ian play Settlers of Catan nearly every night. Addicts.

The Robber

For Mum

WHOOOOOHH! Zeke blew out the big gold candle. It was a huge, waxy number 1.

Bucky’s big black eyes appeared on the other side of the cake. And then all 42 of his big white teeth.

“NOO! Back off Bucky! This is the human cake. You have your special doggo cake over there. Nona even used your favourite stinky fish,” Zeke said pointing to the other table.

Bucky’s tail dropped and his eyebrows drooped down sadly. “Bu’ I love all cake.”

Nona that Pirate Queen stepped in, a vision in glinting gold armour. She scratched Bucky behind his floppy white ears. “I know Buck. But, I made that Red Herring Velvet Cake just for you, and you’re allowed to eat the WHOLE thing!”

Bucky stood still.

Weighing his options.

Then, smiling like a sly dog, he bounded over to the other table and wolfed the whole thing down in three bites. Table legs, included.

It had been exactly one year since Zeke and Bucky stumbled across Nona’s golden breastplate in the rock pools of Lighthouse Island, a chance encounter that had catapulted them into a life of adventure and skulduggery aboard The Flying Italian, Nona’s airborne pirate ship.

To celebrate, Nona had baked the most spectacular carrot cake Zeke had ever seen. It was four layers high, dripping in cream-cheese icing, and covered with the same golden swallows that adorned her magical head scarf.

Except the cake birds were made of Caramilk, not silk and magic.

Zeke was doing some mental math on who he had to share his cake with. There was Nona, her crew of Golden Girls, and Chief Advisor Ian, the silver fox … he was going to have to get in there fast.

Nona suddenly interrupted his food battle plans.

“Zeke, we need sparkling water! We can’t have carrot cake without sparkling water. We’re not savages. Would you mind grabbing a bottle from the fridge please?” asked/instructed Nona.

His face fell.

“But the cake …” Zeke whispered.

“Well, the quicker you go, the quicker you’ll be able to have some. Off you pop.”

Shuffling his feet like a moody teen, Zeke made his way into Nona’s expansive scullery and headed towards the big silver fridge.

Wrapping his hand around the thick cool handle, Zeke open the door.


Bucky was so close to the enormous carrot cake he was basically slow-dancing with it.

The horse-sized terrier wondered what was taking his friend so long. Not because he was thirsty. Heck no. That weird water gave him the burps.

He just rrreeeeaaallly wanted to try the carrot cake.

A few more minutes ticked by.

Bucky saw Nona looking nervous. He frowned. Nona never looked nervous.

“Where’s Zeke …? Something isn’t right …” she said, mostly to herself.

Setting off at a jog towards the scullery, Nona’s arm hairs started standing on end.

It was cold.

Bursting through the doors, her youngest crew member was nowhere to be seen. But an icy crust covered all the contents of the room.

Ian was next inside the door, and let out a small gasp as he saw the icy scullery.

“It can’t be,” he breathed. “Can it?”

“What is it? Do you know what happened to him?” asked Nona.

“The ice,” he said gesturing to the frostbitten room. “There’s only one kingdom I know of that has ice like this, and I haven’t been there for a very long time.”

“Not the White Wilderness?” she said, eyes wide.

Ian silver fur bristled. He didn’t like to think about his snowy homeland. The White Wilderness was a dangerous place to be a fox.

“There. The fridge,” he said pointing. “That must be the portal. I’d heard rumours that the workshop elves hid portals in whiteware so they could escape into the free kingdoms.”

Nona put a hand on her sword. “Well, then. I hope everyone’s got their thermal underwear on, because we’re about to get very cold.”

She turned to face her Golden Girls. “Dorothy and Rose, you two stay on as skeleton crew and look after the ship. The rest of you – Bucky, you too – are coming through the fridge with me and Ian. We’re going to need all the help we can get in the Wilderness.”

Ian stood next to Nona, facing the room of fierce golden women and a stinky white monster of a dog.

“Has anyone been to the White Wilderness before?” he asked.

No-one’s hand went up. Not even Nona’s.

“Has anyone heard scary stories about the Wilderness?”

Everyone’s hand went up. Including Nona’s.

“Thought so. Well, at least you’re informed. They’re all true. It’s a nasty, desolate place where mostly everything is trying to kill you. It’s kind of like the cold version of Australia. There’s the sabre tooth tigers in the East, and the frozen waste lands in the West – that’s where we snow foxes hide out. The South is mainly glaciers and abominable snowmen, and then the North Pole is the dominion of Santa the Dictator. It’s all factories full of slave labour elves making everything from sneakers to fridges. He’s a real asshole.”

The Golden Girls gulped audibly, and one at the front asked: “So where do you think this fridge will take us …? North, South, East or West?”

“Not sure, I’m afraid. It’s a bit of a lucky dip. But to be honest, none of the options are good options, so we can’t really lose. Or maybe we can’t really win. Either way, we’re going in, I guess.”

Ian opened the door, his eyes on Nona. “After you, Captain.”


Zeke was covered in goosebumps. Even his goosebumps had goosebumps.

The last thing he remembered was a fridge falling on him.

And then nothing, except white.

“HELLO!” he yelled. “Is anyone out there? Can anyone hear me?”

Wrapping his arms around his chest, he started walking, looking for shelter.

Or someone.

Or anything.


­­­­­

Snow crunched beneath Nona’s golden buckled boots.

She felt like she’d been hit by a fridge.

Ian appeared next to her, his silver fur and armour perfectly camouflaging against the snowy scene.

“Welcome to the White Wilderness.” He sniffed the air, and then frowned.

“What is it?” asked Nona. “Where on the map are we?”

“Smells like burnt plastic and oppression. I’m sorry Nona, we’re in the North Pole.”


­­­­

Zeke’s feet were numb. Head down, he marched on stoically through the snow.

He couldn’t help but think that in this weather, if he didn’t keep moving, he might never move again.

BOOOF! Zeke fell down onto the white ground. What had he hit?

Looking up, he found his answer. A huge concrete wall loomed over him. It looked like a prison. Or maybe a factory?

“Sir, sir you can’t be here!” said a squeaky voice.

Zeke looked around, trying to find the owner of that strangely high-pitched voice.

“Hello? Who’s there? Where are you …”

Suddenly two round, tennis ball eyes appeared in front of his face.

“Sir, I am Maxwell the elf, and you are in much danger.”


­­­

Nona’s golden gang was making good progress through the Wilderness.

Ian had been able to find Zeke’s scent and was tracking him through the abyss of white, and Bucky had offered Nona a ride on his furry back. For once she didn’t mind the doggy smell, and nuzzled in close to keep warm.

Ever the professionals, the Golden Girls had fallen into a V-formation behind Ian, Nona and Bucky.

Ian grumbled. “He’s headed towards Santa.”

“Surely we can take him. I am Nona the bloody Pirate Queen, after all. What are you so worried about?”

“Santa’s a terrible man, Nona. He’s big, mean, and worst of all, he’s the keeper of Catan.”

Nona’s jaw clenched. “I thought that was as myth. A magic boardgame that allows its owner to control the very land they stand on? Sounds like fairy tale nonsense.”

“I wish it was. But he has the boardgame, and he has the Robber. He’s the reason the Wilderness is White. He placed the Robber on his own doorstep, and has stopped any natural resource from being able to grow – or any kind of flower to flourish. He’s cursed us all, and he doesn’t care. He just wants to be in control, and to make cheap shoes in his nasty factories.”

Nona sat up straight. “Stop!”

Bucky, Ian and the Girls halted. Their eyes squinting against the icy breeze.

“I’ve never met this Santa character, but I’ve had enough of him already. This is a rescue mission, and well, we’re going to be rescuing more than Zeke. We’re going to rescue the whole of the White Wilderness as well. Ian, I want you to lock onto Santa’s scent. We have a new target.”

“Bu’ what abou’, Zeke?” ruffed Bucky, in his thick Highland accent.

“Zeke is a tough kid. I think he can probably get by on his own until we take down Santa. But-” she said, noting Bucky’s bristling fur. “If you want, I’m happy for you to carry on searching for him while Ian, myself and the Golden Girls take down Santa. What do you say?”

“I say, aye, Captain.”


­­­­

Zeke followed Maxwell the elf through a side-door into the factory. It was smoky and grey inside, and it took a second for his eyes to adjust.

“Sir, we must hide you. Master Santa does not like uninvited guests. Master gets very cross, and makes us work overtime. And we are not even allowed our evening gruel. It is most upsetting.”

Zeke could only half make out the small figure in front of him through the factory haze. Maxwell was small, but had quite impressively strong arms – but tiny legs. He looked a little like some of the protein shake guzzling gym-goers back on Lighthouse Island …

“Here. You hide in here.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” said Zeke.


­­­­

“So let me get this straight, your plan is to sneak into Santa’s Lair. Find the boardgame. Steal the boardgame. Move the Robber to an uninhabited island in the south. Set the White Wilderness free from the never-ending winter. And banish Santa to said uninhabited, and now snowed under, island. Is that about right?”

“Yes,” answered Nona. “Nailed it.”

Ian rolled his eyes. “Well, if anyone can pull it off, it’s you.”

He pointed. “There it is. That’s Santa’s Lair. You ready?”

Nona winked. “Nearly.” She reached under her coat and brought out a bottle of sparkling water, and downed the whole thing. “Gives me terrible gas …”


Nona and her crew were crouched on the roof of Santa’s Lair, ducked down next to the chimney.

“Alright girls – and foxy man – we’re going in. Keep close.”

She put two hands on the edge of the brick chimney, leapt up, and disappeared in a puff of smoke.


Bucky could see a building. It was large and grey and a bit grim looking.

Buck’s black nose twitched as he sniffed around the snow.

“Zeke!”

Catching his friend’s scent (and another smell that reminded him of porridge and socks), Bucky started walking, nose to the ground, towards the imposing concrete fortress.


Nona was surrounded by Santas. They were jolly looking, bearded, and suited and red – and they were everywhere.

Huge ceiling to floor tapestries, figures the size of suits of armours … every spare bit of space was taken up with toys and cards with that friendly, old face.

“Quite a humble guy, that Santa?” muttered Nona to Ian.

“Oh, I’m not so bad,” boomed a voice out of nowhere.

Nona did her best not to jump out of her skin.

She whipped her head around, trying to spot Santa among the Santas. It was like a Where’s Wally.

“Show yourself. Coward!”

(Nona wasn’t known for her subtlety.)

Then she saw him. A tiny Danny DeVito figure of a man holding a giant megaphone.

He was balding, with a small scrappy beard, and was wearing a shiny red silk dressing gown and bright white Nike Air Force 1 shoes.

He looked ridiculous.

“YOU’RE Santa?! How absurd. You look absurd,” laughed Nona.

Santa’s eyes darkened.

“I am an icon. YOU are the absurd one, with your gaudy gold get-up.” He snapped his fingers, and three sabre tooth tigers emerged from the doors behind them. “Now, what the hell are you doing in my house?”

Nona smiled. “I’ve come to challenge you to a game of Catan. Winner takes all.”

HA HA HA HA HA HAAA! Santa laughed into his microphone.

“You’ve got to be kidding me. Why would I ever do that?! I’m just going to feed you to my tigers.”

As he turned to leave the room, Nona called out: “Chicken!”

“How dare you! I’m not a chicken,” said Santa, storming towards her.

“Yes you are. It’s just a game. You too scared to play a game? You scared, little man?”


Ian was worried. Nona and Santa had been playing Catan for THREE HOURS, and it wasn’t looking good for the Pirate Queen.

Santa was just one point away from winning, and it was his turn next.

Although she hated to admit it, Nona was sensing she was about to lose too.

‘Well, nothing else for it,’ she thought to herself. She suddenly jumped to her feet, bottom to Santa’s face, and released the most earth shattering fart her butt trumpet had ever blown off.

Santa was knocked clean off his chair and smashed into a shrine of dancing Christmas dolls.

Nona grabbed the Robber from the board, and moved it on the magic map to an island far, far away from anyone and anything. Then she picked up Santa’s red playing piece and put it on the island with the Robber.

“What have you doooooonneeee?!” he cried, before vanishing before their eyes.

And he wasn’t the only thing that was vanishing. The crew, blinded by sunlight, looked out the window to see the dead white landscape had been replaced by a beautiful green wilderness.

The Golden Girls clapped and cheered! Nona had saved the day again

“Surely dear, you could have done that three hours ago?” Ian said quietly, smiling at Nona.

“Yes, but then I wouldn’t have gotten to play,” she laughed. “I really am a terrible loser though. I must work on that. But for now – let’s find Zeke and Bucky!”


­­­­

The crew of The Flying Italian opened the big grey door of the big grey factory.

And that’s when they saw them. Terribly hidden in a large scale nativity scene – Zeke in the manger as Baby Jesus, and Bucky as an on-looking sheep.

“NONA!” he cried. Jumping out of the manger he ran over to the shiny pirate and gave her his biggest, best hug.

“Can we please go home and have cake now?”

Chapter 15: Ginger Spice

Like most girls in the 90s, I grew up obsessed with butterfly clips and the Spice Girls.

And I mean crazy town OBSESSED.

When (Her Maj) Adele posted this to Instagram earlier in the year, I identified so strongly with her it was almost a spiritual experience.

Basically me.

And again, when Blake Lively said:

When I was a child I probably should have been medicated about my obsession with the Spice Girls. I had the Buffalo shoes, a Baby Spice necklace – when I say custom-made, it was made out of plastic from the local mall – and a Union Jack dress.

Preteen fangirl is a special breed of crazy.

Just ask Justin Bieber.

And to be honest, at 29, I probably still know every word to Wannabe, every dance move to Stop Right Now, and Geri Halliwell is still my spirit animal.

Girl Power

Like Adele (did we just become best friends?), my favourite Spice Girl was is Ginger Spice.

She was loud. Fun. Empowering. And I was all about that hair.

So much so, that I still vividly remember going to the hairdressers with a hand-drawn picture (it was a different time) of the shoulder-length Geri haircut I wanted.

Nevermind that I have naturally wavy hair, and it was the 90s, and I was seven, and the most sophisticated hairstyling tool at my disposal was a brush.

It wasn’t this bad. But it was this bad in my heart.

Poor tiny Kate and her poofy halo of brushed out curls, bouncing up around her ears.

I’m nearly 100% sure I cried in the hairdresser’s chair.

Fast-forward 22 years, and I’m basically still trying to look like Geri Halliwell in the 90s.

Cause this week I dyed my hair red – again.

Red hair, don’t care

Pre-baby, I dyed my hair more than that chick in the Bourne Identity.

I was brunette, then I was ginger, then I was really ginger, and then I was strawberry blonde, then I was a copper to blonde ombré … Then there was a lob. Then a blunt bob. Then a fringe.

Honestly, I changed my appearance so regularly you’d have thought I was in witness protection.

Montage, montage, montage!

“Just a trim and my roots” are six words my long suffering hairdresser has never heard come out of my mouth.

But with the (boring) budget cuts that inevitably come with becoming a parent, I decided to rock my brunette roots for the better part of a year and a half.

But then I was in the supermarket.

And I know home hair dye is cheap, and bad, and basically the devil.

But then I was like …

Montage, montage, montage!

So hopefully my locks don’t explode, or turn into straw, or whatever it is that’s so much worse than salon dye.

(Footnote: I just did some low-level Google research on why, and this is a handy article on it. Making major changes that need some chemistry know-how is the key perpetrator of a botched box dye.)

At home with Kate

The Dye:

I used Firey Topaz by Schwarzkopf (twice).

I wasn’t a hundred percent on the first go of it. It seemed a little lighter at my roots, and a bit more brunette than entirely necessary.

So I did what any woman who’s just watched Aquaman and liked Mira’s hair would do, and I went and bought another box. And I dyed it again.

And this it what we ended up with …

The Result:

Just after doing the second box (it’s lightened since then – yass!).

It’s definitely not as good as when I go to the salon. But it was $20, so like …

And it’s made me feel a bit more like myself.

The Motherhood Sisterhood

It’s easy to find yourself consumed with motherhood – and that’s not entirely a bad thing. That kiddo really needs you.

But you’re important too. Your interests and priorities matter.

You matter.

So to all my mums out there: make sure you’re regularly doing things that give you some energy, and fun.

Things that make you feel good about yourself.

Your tired, compassionate, loving, stretched self more than deserves it.

Kate x

Chapter 1: Fortnite

I did not have a misspent youth.

I had an extremely nerdy youth. Complete with braces, over-plucked brows, and a hell of a lot of NCEA Excellences, thanks very much *flips hair*

It was like, super crazy.

When I was about 12, I entered the Pokémon Card Tournament at Armageddon (the less-cool New Zealand version of Comic-Con) – and you better believe your girl came second *flips hair again*

Now I don’t admit say this to intimidate you with how much of a cool jock I was as a kid, but to say: I love geeky stuff*. I just do.

When my husband and I were in the UK in 2014, we made sure we went to Cardiff Bay in Wales just to go to the Dr Who Experience interactive museum. And. It. Was. Awesome.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

But somewhere in between watching Dragonball Z on the regular and learning how to fill in my brows, I just stopped doing as much Geeky Kate stuff.

Well. Until now.

Enter: Fortnite

You may of heard of it.

This free-to-play game has 125 million players worldwide, and its revenue just topped $1billion in May.

But you may know it more fondly as the game that periodically kidnaps your child/boyf/husband/girlfriend(#heforshe)/nan.

Or perhaps it’s the game you Taken yourself with and play. And if it is, can I just say … please don’t dance on me. For real. It’s super demoralising.

Noob life

Until this weekend I had never played Fortnite.

Which I realise is hardly trekking the Inca Trail in terms of a bucket list item, but if that’s what you were expecting friend, you’re on the wrong blog.

It seems to me that Fortnite is a mashup of The Hunger Games and Halo. And the basic aim is not dying. Which I was terrible at (RIP ME).

By some miracle I was top 20 for my first game, but I think that’s just because I was hiding in the woods panicking for most of it. Coincidentally, the same tactic I use in paintball, but that’s a story for another day.

Some 20 games later and I’m still not that great – but I did manage to take out one other person worse than me (I was going to say “my first kill”, but it sounded way too dark a developmental milestone).

And they were literally just standing alone in a field.

Just.

Standing.

There.

Even I couldn’t miss. Or more likely, push B and start building, then try and switch back to my gun by pushing Y and end up with a knife (axe) at a gun fight. While crouching. Because I can’t stop crouching.

Just as a hypothetical scenario that definitely didn’t happen to me multiple times.

Kate Rates – Fortnite:

Fortnite is hard. Much harder than that dude Ninja and your 11 year old cousin makes it out to be …

But I loved going full gamer geek.

For me, geeking out about stuff is just embracing what you’re passionate about. Not worrying if it’s “cool”, or what other people will think. It’s just you doing you, and unashamedly loving it.

So for that reason, I’m giving Fortnite a 7/10.

It was also a really nice thing to do with Taka, who Luke Skywalkered me on how to play, and for some reason wasn’t at all upset that I wanted to stay in and play XBox instead of going fruit and vege shopping at the market … which is weird.

What are you a secret geek over? Share the love.

Kate x

*SOME geeky stuff. If you’re smart cookie with some tech crunch, you will know by glancing at this site – which took me a million years to try and work out – that it is B A S I C as hell. If you try and talk coding to me I may cry. But we can for sure chat about how Firefly needed a second season.

**Also, I mean geeky 100% as a term of an endearment. Geeks are my people. LEEEROY JENKINS!! (YouTube it)