Chapter 21: Putting Yourself Out There

The past two years have been bananas.

The first year I grew a person.

And the second year I grew as a person.

But not in the way you’d expect.

Becoming a parent is fairly synonymous with becoming immeasurably more selfless, patient and tired than you ever though possible.

That’s pretty much a given (unless you suck a little bit as a human).

For me, the unexpected growth came because I wanted needed something that was just for myself.

ENTER STAGE LEFT: Kate Takes Thirty

From watching Parks and Rec, to writing about it

When I was in my early 20s, binge watching seven seasons of Parks and Recreation over a Christmas holiday wasn’t indulgent, it was frankly impressive.

But when you become a parent, the game doth change, and time becomes the ultimate luxury – both for treasuring moments with your little people (“They grow up so fast!” – everyone, ever), and for treasuring moments with yourself.

What did this look like for me?

Starting a blog.

And one that by it’s very definition, enabled and encouraged me to try lots of different things – like starting improv classes, a public Instagram (@katetakesthirty, get about it) and a podcast – oh, and I ran a half-marathon.

Ridiculous!

And nerve-wracking!

Particularly the bit about putting my face, voice, and writing on the interwebs for people to see and hear and judge, and aggghhhhhhh

But then I remember, WWRHD?

What would Rachel Hollis Do?

She would say:

“YES, SISTER!”

“You dreams don’t work unless you do.”

“Are you humble enough to suck for as long as it takes to get better?”

“What other people think about you is none of your business.”

And other such inspiring, bad ass things.

So I sucked it up, and went for it.

I’ve even started approaching lifestyle news sites to see if they want a piece of this action to take me on as a contributing writer.

I’ve tried three so far, two have knocked me back, and one is still pending.

But again, WWRHD?

She would keep trying until someone says yes, and remind me of the classic J.K Rowling “never give up” anecdote for authors about how Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was turned down 12 times by publishers before Bloomsbury said yes to the dress.

Or she’d start her own news site, cause she’s a gangster like that.

And dang it, so am I.

Just cause you’re a gangster

It goes without saying – but Rachel Hollis, J.K Rowling and I don’t have the monopoly on bad assery.

You too can be a gangster and go after your dreams whole-heartedly.

It’s hard. Heck, every time I produce something there’s a gnawing thought at the back of my mind telling me it’s probably terrible and no one will want to read/listen to it.

But then I think: Nah, boo. You do you.

People will enjoy it or they won’t. The most important thing is that you enjoy making it.

A. Because life’s miserable if you spend it trying to be someone you’re not, to impress people you don’t even like or know.

And B. Because people are smart, and they can tell when you’re being disingenuous.

My advice?

Be a gangster.

Believe in yourself. Find what you want to do, and keep doing it.

Like our girl Rach says, you will probably suck at the start. Lord knows my first podcast episode is solidly “ok, and pretty averagely alright”.

But you keep going. You keep grinding. And you keep smiling.

Because sooner or later that commitment and enthusiasm is going to breed growth and opportunity.

Don’t give up now!

The best is yet to come.

If money was no object, what work would you do for free? If you’re not sure what your dream job is, that’s a good question to start with.

Or if you know what your dream is, tell meeee! Feel free to comment below or hit up my DMs on the gram. I love hearing from you guys.

Kate x

Chapter 18: Family Holiday

We went to Napier over the weekend.

It was a family vay-cay to celebrate my in-law’s 40th (!!) wedding anniversary.

There was me, my husband Taka and our one year old Zeke, my sister-in-law Ari and her fiancé Josh, and Taka’s commitment level 5000 parents, Pat and Maxene.

It was basically a Big Fat Greek Wedding Anniversary, minus the Greek part.

It was also the first family getaway we’ve been on since little man escaped the womb, and it was awesome.

Kate, the Travel Writer

Napier is a coastal city in the Hawke’s Bay of New Zealand that is famous for fruit, wine, and having an uncanny resemblance to a Universal Studios set street.

That’s because in 1931, Napier experienced the deadliest natural disaster in New Zealand history.

A Series of Unfortunate Events

On 3 February at 10.47am, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake violently shook the Hawke’s Bay for two and a half minutes, killing 256 people and injuring thousands.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the quake also ignited devastating fires that tragically finished off was left of Napier’s city centre.

At the time, The Dominion newspaper described Napier as a town “wiped off the map”.

If you’re interested in history, I recommend checking out the MTL (Museum Theatre Library) next time you’re in Napier.

And this is coming from an uncultured non-fan of museums, so believe me when I say this one really is worth the visit.

Silver Linings Playbook

The MTL also have an exhibition on the rebuild of Napier, because the silver lining to this (again, not Greek) tragedy is that the city was then redesigned amidst the Art Deco taste of the ’20s.

In an impressive display of Kiwi ingenuity and team work make the dream work, four Napier architectural firms banded together and worked around the clock to redesign their town.

Beauty for ashes – Isaiah 61

Amazingly, this meant Napier was nearly entirely rebuilt within two years of the disaster, and in an archetypally Art Deco style that has made it one of the New Zealand’s most popular tourist destinations.

Kate’s Top 5 Napier Faves

When your sister in law is as extra as you 💞

1. Te Mata Peak – it’s about a 30 minute drive from Napier, but it’ll make your trip approximately 30 million times better.

The landscape was so sweeping and picturesque, I felt like I was in a board meeting for Lord of the Rings cinematography (an award category you will not be seeing aired at the Oscars this year, ohhh! #popculture).

2. Hapī – this allergen/vegan/Keto/Millennial-friendly eatery was seriously delicious considering it’s definitive lack of gluten and refined sugar.

I can’t remember exactly how many times we went there, but it was a lot …

My favourite nook in all of Napier.

3. MTL – as I said, I’m not a museum fan. I’m the heathen who thought the Lourve was only worth it for the fine art gallery and gift shop.

Ps. Taka spent a solid hour agog at old vases. I kid you not. I have never seen a brother so jazzed about pottery (he has a Classics degree, so let’s not judge … either of us).

That said, I loved the Māori exhibition at MTL, and the sea-life art installation made from recycled plastic was legitimately incredible.

(As was the gift shop.)

He’s not even posing. This is just how my husband the model sits.

4. Par2 Mini Golf next to the Sunken Gardens (um, bad ass name alert, way to sound like El Dorado or Atlantis, Napier foreshore).

I don’t know what it is about mini golf, but it’s just such good clean fun.

10/10 would recommend.

5. The Street Art – it might be my Wellingtonian showing, but I love a big ol’ graphic mural on a city wall.

So fun. So vibrant. So great for the gram.

Fun Historical Facts with Kate!

Did you know … neighbouring cities Napier and Hastings are both named after English dudes who helped run colonised India on behalf of the British Monarchy?

Charles Napier, was the Commander-in-Chief of India from 1848-1849, and Warren Hastings was the first Governor-General of India from 1773-1785.

I am Carmen Sandiago.

4 Things That Had Me Shooketh

1. Splash Planet is super loose, and super Kiwi! We went on an insane scorcher of a Saturday, and the water theme park was basically bursting at the seams. So much so that people had parked all over the grassy verges, and apparently that was totally cool and normal.

You were also encouraged to bring along your own picnics and BBQs.

The delicious smell of sausages was almost as strong as my regret for not bringing a full Christmas Day-worthy banquet to the pools like the people next door to us.

Although you know your girl stopped in at Hapī on the way back to the motel though …

2. You can’t swim in the sea! A beautiful beachside tourist town, and there wasn’t a single person to be seen ducking up and down in the waves.

Upon further investigation, I found out: “They have a poo problem.” 💩💩💩

I’m no Mayor. Obviously. But I would (bio) hazard a guess that fixing a sea sewerage problem should be the top of your town to do (do) list …?

Editor’s note: I have since found out that Napier beach has a fairly fierce undertow, so even without the water pollution, the pull of the beach would be a rip – not a fun family day in the waves.

3. We were hit by an ambulance on the way home. Technically it was a patient transfer van, but the irony remains.

Our little black Golf is looking like it’s going to be written off, but thankfully, the driver ploughed into the only door without someone next to it.

The locals of the small town we were passing through were also incredibly kind, and so was the extremely apologetic St John’s driver. No harm, small foul.

As a side note, If you have any recommendations for a reliable, chic, not too expensive, family-friendly car I’d be very interested.

4. Zeke slept through the night! 😱 My child is over a year old and has famously never slept through the night.

Except in Napier. When apparently he’s King if Sleep.

We might need to move.

3 Benefits of Having a Baby Wake You Up at 4am in Napier

On Saturday, our little man was ready to carpe diem and seize the day at 4am. Which actually had its benefits.

1. I tried out a Centr workout in the motel room, because I’m Chris Hemsworth, obvs.

2. We saw the sun rise at Bluff Hill Lookout

3. And had a glorious wander (my favourite way to see a city) down the Art Deco main streets, and along the waterfront.

And then it was 10am!

2 Go-To Coffee Spots

I’m an unbearable Wellington coffee snob from way back, and these two places served from seriously delicious brews.

1. Ajuna Eatery: it had a really nice vibe and a pop art picture of Queen Elizabeth that I wanted to smuggle home with me, and they did a solidly good Mojo flat white.

2. Six Sisters: the hipster bicycle on the roof of this place filled me with confidence that a quality flat white was coming my way, and it did not disappoint.

Alas these were the only cafes I tried over the visit, but the internet tells me Crazy Good is also crazy good, so give them a try too.

1 Door To Rule Them All

Napier is home to the most Instagrammable door in New Zealand (maybe a #fact).

Exhibit a:

Prom photo.

If you want to find it and get that gram, this is the address:

National Tobacco Company Building Ltd

1 Ossian St,

Ahuriri,

Napier

You’re welcome.

Have you been to Napier? What was your favourite part? Do you know a better New Zealand door?! But for real, what would be a good car for us? We need help.

Kate x

Chapter 16: Fashion in the Field

I strongly identified with Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality this weekend.

Not the being in the FBI part.

The being whipped into pageant shape part.

Not that I took part in a pageant.

But also.

Didn’t I …?

Fashion in the Field

On Saturday I walked the Fashion in the Field runway at Wellington Cup Day in Trentham, and tried really hard not to fall over.

And guys. I totally didn’t.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Let’s have a quick deep dive on …

What is Fashion in the Field?

Lord knows I’m no expert, but in my vast experience of competing twice, and the intense Google research I just did, this is what I know:

Fashion in the Field is the love child of Project Runway and Downton Abbey, and began in Victoria, Australia in 1962 as a way of encouraging more ladies to attend the races.

It’s a best dressed competition. But one that somehow manages to be both fashion-forward, and meticulously old world.

There are rules, my friend.

For instance, a head piece is a must, and cohesion is key.

Your hat, dress, shoes, bag and jewellery should all look like they belong together.

Or, if you’re really killing it, they should be the ensemble cast in a story your telling through your, er, ensemble.

As an example, this is quite possibly my most favourite Fashion in the Field outfit. Ever.

It’s worn by my friend Charlotte (we were Montessori School homies in Auckland) when she came down for Wellington Cup Day in 2014.

So elegant. So coordinated. So Audrey.

And actually, so fashion-forward.

Voluminous midi skirts are having a real fashion moment now, but lest we forget, this was back in 2014, when most of us were all about a peplum top over a pencil skirt.

A big chunk of the kudos for this outfit also goes to Ali, Charlotte’s mum and the design mastermind behind alotta winning Fashion in the Field lewks.

Between them, Charlie and her sister Olivia have a serious sash collection.

The lovely Livy and I.

You should definitely stalk @ali_moor_millinery on the gram, or better yet, order a piece from her for your next fashionable foray in the field.

Fun fact: it’s called Fashion on the Field in Australia, which does actually make more sense … but, #patriotism.

Wellington Cup Day

But back to Saturday.

This is me.

It was a bit of a last minute decision to go, so this bold situation was (elegantly) thrown together over Messenger convos with the Moor girls.

The dress is Asos, the bow headpiece Ali Moor Millinery, the bag was customised by Ali (I’ve got it around the wrong way … there are some sassy lavender details on the other side), the earring are big ol Karen Walker numbers, and the shoes are Forever New.

I was going for: Whimsey, French, and a little bit Madonna in the 80s.

Hilariously, I ended up twinning with the gorgeous Simone Anderson who MCed the event.

I entered the Maiden of the Carnival category, and didn’t win. But was really glad when the lovely chicky in the gorgeous red dress and sassy gold half-gloves that I’d been talking to backstage did.

Why do it?

It’s not often in life you get to play dress ups. And this is a spectacularly good excuse.

Plus, the prizes are baller.

But my favourite part is always just getting to spend time with my friends the Moors.

And this time I also got to meet their incredible friend Katie, who I Facebook friend-requested nearly immediately.

Support your local girl gang: Katie, Charlie, squinty Kate, and my mama Toni.

Also, how cute is my mum! Our photos together are forever a Frodo/Gandalf situation.

As with any competition where you’re literally being judged on what you look like, there is the temptation to get self-conscious, to compare yourself to others, or for things to just get all a bit Mean Girls.

But as Katie put it so well after our gang didn’t come away with any placings:

“That’s Fashion in the Field! We look amazing. But everyone looks amazing. You just never know what the judges will like.”

My advice: at Fashion in the Field, and life, always try to be Miss Congeniality instead of Regina George.

And then, win or lose, you’re happy.

Have you done Fashion in the Field before?! How was it? Man, I really wanna watch Miss Congeniality now …

Kate x

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 10: Reading

Until this week, I hadn’t read a book in a year.

Which, for someone with a degree in English Literature, is basically sacrilege.

(Ps. I also have a degree in Psychology and Management, but we didn’t come here to talk about how very smart I am. We came here for lols and encouragement, and some A-Grade ridiculous stories.)

It’s all coming back, to me

One of my Thirty Before Thirty goals was to rediscover the absolute bloody joy of reading.

I had a bit of hormonal anxiety (fun!) before little man was born, which combined with a fierce imagination, made for some dramatic times up in my head.

So to help, I steered clear of reading or watching anything that added to the drama above my ears.

But then after a while, the hormones chilled (Thank. God).

And Z was born.

And I didn’t sleep anymore.

And my mental capacity was #basic.

And Christmas Netflix movies became my jam (how good was The Christmas Prince, though).

And I just never really got back into books.

Until, now.

To Guernsey, with love

Last weekend, my mum gave me The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society to borrow.

She said: “It’s very you”.

So I started reading it on Sunday.

And then I finished it on Thursday.

It was amazing.

I was also bloody thrilled to discover that they made a movie of it in 2017, starring the divine Lily James. She’s one of my faves, but I hadn’t watched it yet because I thought the name was weird.

What a fool.

I’m going to have a couch date with myself on Saturday and watch it. Because I know how to party.

Book Club

For those of you who are interested, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is set at the end of WW2, and tells the story of the German occupation of Guernsey (an island in the English Channel) through an ensemble cast of gorgeous, witty, clever characters.

The book is written entirely in letters and notes (the format reminded me a bit of Love, Rosie), and the main character Juliet is to die for.

She’s the sort of character you wish was real just so you could be friends.

“You know how I love talking about books, and you know how I adore receiving compliments.” – Annie Barrows, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

I know those feels.

It has everything: Strong female protagonists (along with Juliet, Elizabeth is the second, silent central figure of the book). Realistic, quirky, loveable characters. A setting that teaches you something. A love story. And all of the lols.

I don’t know if you can tell, but I’m a pretty big fan.

It reminded me a bit of The Girl You Left Behind, the lesser-known novel by Jojo Moyes (of Me Before You fame) half-set in German occupied France – which I also really liked.

Kate’s Goodreads

In honour of rediscovering my love of literature, I thought I’d share my all time favourite books/series/authors, and why I luuurve them so damn much.

Best Nonfiction Comedy

Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns)

This 👏🏼 Book 👏🏼 Is 👏🏼 Everything

I had a real “Books By Female Comedians” stage (Miranda Hart’s Love Peggy gets an honourable mention in this category), but this book is the best of the bunch BY FAR.

I think I’ve re-read it twice … maybe three times …

So funny. So inspiring. So great.

Best Series for Tweens That I Read as a Grown Ass Woman

The Georgia Nicolson series. With such titles as Startled by His Furry Shorts and It’s ok, I’m Wearing Really Big Knickers, you know you’re in for a good time.

Pure, ridiculous, teen hilarity.

I was genuinely heartbroken when their author Louise Rennison passed away in 2016. But she gave the world the Disco Inferno Dance and Dave the Laugh, and for that I will always be grateful.

I could have literally snogged until the cows came home. And when they came home I would have shouted, “WHAT HAVE TOU COWS COME HOME FOR?! CAN’T YOU SEE I’M SNOGGING, YOU STUPID HERBIVORES???” – Georgia Nicolson

Favourite Writer

I love Zoë Foster-Blake.

I just feel like we’d be friends. And I love her novels, Air Kisses and Playing the Field.

Her blog is also bomb. Get amongst it.

Best Sob-Inducer

Me Before You is gorgeous. And harrowing. And hilarious. And everything.

I also really loved Emilia Clarke’s (my all time girl crush) portrayal of Lou in the film.

Who, now I think about it, actually has some similar traits to Juliet in Guernsey

Quickest Read

I read Divergent in a day.

O b s e s s e d.

Although I felt the series got a serious case of the “er … where are we going with this plot …?!”, Divergent was sublime.

Book three (Allegiant) was ridiculous.

Best Christian Book*

I really enjoyed Jesus is ___ by Judah Smith.

He managed to be funny and inspiring and informative all at the same time, and I loved it.

Also, anything by Joyce Meyer, the First Lady of Female Preachers.

Bow down.

*Other than the Bible, which is a pretty good book …

Best Inspo

Girl, Wash Your Face is amazing. I’ve only just started it, so I’m well and truly jumping the gun by putting it on this list, but I don’t care. It’s amazing.

The author, Rachel Hollis, also has an amazing podcast called Rise which I thoroughly recommend.

Best Classic Prose

I will tell you a secret … I only ever finished one book during my English degree.

I know.

And that one book was Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.

I am only now realising how sexist I am … All my fave books have female leads.

Literally. All. Of. Them.

I guess …

What’s you’re all time favourite book? Do you have any recommendations for me? I feel like you all solidly know “My Type” now.

Kate x

Chapter 8: Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation is the greatest television show of all time.

Fact.

My main man Taka and I first watched Parks and Rec in the Summer of 2014.

Also know as ‘the best Christmas in living memory’.

You’d think this would be last year, the first Christmas with my son.

But you would be wrong.

That day included tears, my oven blowing up, and a power cut while we were meant to be cooking lunch.

It was a real chill, super fun time.

nope
It’s a Knope from me.

The Summer of Sixty-Nine Seasons of Parks and Rec

But back to our summer of loving Andy Dwyer.

We essential did three activities over those Christmas holidays:

  1. “Home improvements” (note quotation marks. We no good at them. We try)
  2. Eating Cadbury Favourites (that, I am actually very good at)
  3. Watching Parks and Rec.

Because, ladies and gentlemen. We know how to par-tay.

dancing.gif
Please brace yourself for a truly exorbitant number of Parks and Rec GIFs. They are incoming. I repeat. They are incoming.

As I’ve said before, Taka is an information gathering machine.

He loves Twitter, YouTube, The Ringer, and all manner of podcasts …

Frankly, if his finger was any more on the pulse, he’d be presenting the 6 o’clock news.

On his online travels, Taka noticed a lot of people talking e m o t i o n a l l y about the seventh – and final – season of Parks and Recreation that was due to come out that January.

We were intrigued.

We had also just seen Guardians of the Galaxy and both of us were pretty much in love with Chris Pratt.

hearts.gif

There was nothing else for it.

It was TV series binging time.

We are the champions, my friends

I’m ashamed proud to say we got through all six seasons (God love a back catalogue) of Parks and Rec while the seventh was still airing.

It is perhaps our greatest accomplishment as a couple.

But. Can I just say. The Post-Binge Blues were real.

Seven seasons of joyous, Emmy Award-Winning TV gluttony, and then … nothing … 1/10, would not recommend.

We tried replacement therapy by watching a couple seasons of Community. Happy Endings. Selfie (this was actually really good. It’s on Neon, and I feel robbed it never got a second season. Karen Gillan and Harold from Harold and Kumar were damn majestic together)

In the end, New Girl and Brooklyn Nine-Nine became the new go-tos. Gucci.

As a real side note, here are …

Kate’s favourite 10 TV shows of all time

For the laughs

  1. Parks and Recreation (as discussed. At length)
  2. New Girl (Schmidt is just. Everything)
  3. The Mindy Project
  4. Miranda
  5. Brooklyn Nine-Nine

For the dramas

I’m ride or die BBC.

  1. The Crown (Bloody sen-sational. Give them all the Emmys! All. Of. Them!)
  2. Sherlock
  3. Dr Who (Yass, Jodie Whittaker. If anyone wants to discuss the Rosa Parks episode with me in the comments below I would be hella down for that. AhMay-Sing)
  4. This is Us (riiiight!?)
  5. Suits

Honorable mentions

  • The first season (it’s all I’ve watched so far) of Jane the Virgin. Rogelio is my spirit animal
  • Gilmore Girls (B.C-Rory going to college)
  • The Graham Norton Show (a Kiwi in the Big Red Chair makes me feel more patriotic than any All Blacks game)
  • Netflix Christmas specials. I. Am. Ready.

C l e a r l y I am not a Black Mirror or, what’s it called, the dystopian show where ladies have a crap time … The Handmaid’s Tale!

Google gets me.

I’m not about that poignant, sad time life. If I wanted that from my leisure time, I’d watch the news.

Give me the lols instead.

Give me all the lols you have.

So, what exactly is #8 of 30, Kate …?

It’s been four years. My Pawnee memory is hazy.

I can finally rewatch Parks and Rec!

Which, as I say it out loud, seems a bit sad. But rewatching and rereading my favourites genuinely makes me so happy.

And as a wise Pinterest post once told me:

  1. Write down a list of things that make you happy
  2. Write down a list of things you do each day
  3. Compare the lists
  4. Adjust accordingly.

So simple. So deceptively life changing.

Speaking of life changing. Here are …

Three life lessons from Parks and Rec

1. Things will get better

I love you, Ron Swanson.

If I’m honest, I didn’t really like Season 1 of Parks. Or the first half of Season 2.

Leslie’s was so awkward it made me squirmy. Pratt was a drop kick. And Mark Brendanawicz was just dumb.

But.

Then Leslie softens.

And Pratt gets super sweet.

And Tom isn’t so creepy. Kinda.

And Brendanawicz leaves.

And literally the best duo in Chris and Ben turn up.

And Ron continues to hold it down as the best character on TV.

Point is. Everyone has patches in life that are a bit crap (although hopefully not as crap as the women in The Handmaid’s Tale. That crap is D A R K).

Keep your head up and your feet walking, and you’ll get through it.

The night only lasts so long.

2. It’s cool to try hard

Leslie Knope has got to be the most determined go-getter that ever got up and got going.

She really thinks if she works hard enough she’ll make a difference.

And you know what. She does.

May this be a lesson for all of us.

3. There’s someone out there for everyone

Andy and April. Leslie and Ben. Chris and Ann. Ron and Xena Warrior Princess.

They’re all a bunch of weirdos who found each other.

Don’t give up on love.

Your weirdo is out there.

I know I said three, but I’ve just thought of another one …

4. Breakfast food is the best food

It just is.

Bacon. Eggs. Coffee. Pancakes. Waffles. Smoothies. Coffee. Toast. Cereal. Yoghurt. Fruit. Coffee.

Brunch makes me happy to be alive.

What’s your favourite TV show? Or breakfast food? And OH MY GOSH DID YOU SEE THE ROSA PARKS EPISODE OF DR WHO!? Discuss!!

Kate xx

Chapter 7: Postpartum Body

I put on 30kgs when I was pregnant.

Half was literally a little person. And the other half was Bacon and Egg McMuffins.

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Side note: I’m pretty sure McDonald’s breakfasts are like crack for pregnant women. The McMuffin, hashbrown and orange juice combo was my holy trinity of cravings. I can’t even tell you how good it tasted, guys.

I.

Can’t.

E V E N.

But now, ten months on, I’ve decided to be more intentional with getting back to my regular Kate shape.

Disclaimer: I’ve been listening to a lotta Jameela Jamil (warning – her language is as colourful as her pantsuits) and Wobble (a podcast about happiness and body confidence), so am currently woke as hell to @i_weigh and body positivity, and thus need to say right off the bat …

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Jameela Jamil: actress, activist, queen.

To all the mums out there

  • Your body literally made a human. Then you birthed that human (which, SHEESH, any which way you do it is a beautiful, miraculous, horror show). And now you’re raising that human – the toughest, best, worst paid job there is. Wonder Woman ain’t got nothing on you.
  • You DO NOT need to “bounce back”. If all you do in a day is keep that child alive and loved, and yourself sane – then you have done plenty!
  • You offer the world so much more than your waist line. Whether you shrink a lot or a little after you give birth, it doesn’t change who you are. You’re still smart, creative, brave, kind, funny, talented, bold, lovely … all of the things that make you, you.

This is just my story. It’s not intended to be some sort of sage guide, or God forbid, something that makes you feel like you need to lose weight. Screw that.

You do you, boo.

Let’s start at very beginning, a very good place to start

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Back when I did boot camp with Change Fitness (ft. my sister-in-law Ari, who will really love that I’ve included this photo), and could bounce on a trampoline without wetting my pants. Heady days.

I tried a lot of diets in my 20s.

Whole 30, low carb, no sugar, MyFitnessPal calorie-tracking, Paleo, Weight Watchers …

I even tried Veganism for a hot second. (Not for admirable reasons, I might add … but because I read a book called Skinny Bitch. I think the premise was that you were meant to eat mainly plant-based … but I just ate a lot of toast.)

I’m not sure why (airbrushing, the mid-drift baring 90s, or that I was a little barrel-bellied as a tween…?), but I always felt like there was a cheeky 5kgs I could do without.

And the silly thing is, when I look back at photos of myself now – I was tiny!

All I see is a skinny little fool who thought she was chubs, and I want to give her a hug and a piece of cake.

Nothing like gaining nearly half my weight, and a whole lot of perspective!

Self-love is my home girl

This reality check was a real proverbial slap to the face, and because of it I became determined to take a slower, kinder approach to getting back to my usual size.

I was also very conscious that diets made me sad and weird, so I did this instead:

Post-birth

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I gave zero craps.

I ate proper meals to set me up to survive the no-sleep nights and milkshake production line that was my chest – but also drank all the coffee and ate all the baked goods (because, “no-sleep nights”).

I had also just

Given.

Birth

A few months later

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✌🏼✌🏼

When I was physically able to, I started doing Saturday boot camp with my friend group and it. Was. LIT.

I had really sore hips in my last trimester of pregnancy (cue: all the hobbling), and then an episiotomy (don’t Google it), and was even more hobbly post-birth.

So being able to move again made me ridiculously happy.

I was off my face on endorphins by the end of each workout.

I also started doing my own weights and HIIT circuits at home (I love Blogilates on YouTube, and had a good 12 week stint with the Sweat with Kayla app), and went on lots of evening walks for self-preservation (they were to make sure little man had at least one nap in the “witching hour”).

To fuel these workouts I started making sure I was eating lots of veges and protein, and less takeaways and processed stuff.

I remember being into Pita Pit’s Chick’n’Fala Salad in a VERY big way.

All this, combined with the fact that I was minus a baby and a significant amount of water weight (my hands and feet had finally deflated), meant I was down a solid 20kgs by about 6 months postpartum.

And then winter happened

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And the weather kaiboshed boot camp.

And I got sick. And my husband got sick. And little man got sick.

And I didn’t exercise.

And I ate all the Gingernuts.

And I plateaued.

Until

Now.

Two weeks ago, I started eating differently.

I thought about how I didn’t want to go on a diet.

I thought about everything I knew about healthy eating.

And I picked up my copy of Nadia Lim’s Fresh Start Cookbook.

The literature.

The “Say goodbye to fad diets” tagline spoke to my damn soul.

Her advice is sensible, kind, and actually relatively easy to follow.

It’s about eating a range of food groups each day, keeping your portion sizes in check, having whole foods (she calls it “nude” food 🍒🍑), and eating to add nutrition to your body – not eating to minus food groups, or calories.

Which I respect.

I also found it a more helpful mindset than the diet headspace of deprivation and being “good” (at least in my experience).

Yesterday, for instance, I knew we were having a family birthday dinner and I had a double-layer carrot cake with cream cheese icing (I dieeee) in my fridge – so at lunch I chose to go to The Lab (genuinely the most Millennial eatery you’ve ever seen) for pea and broadbean smashed toast with poached egg, halloumi (food of the heavens) and a beetroot saucy bit, and (the nicest) green smoothie (I have ever had).

And it was delicious. And colourful. And full of happy-body stuff.

And then later that night, I throughly enjoyed dinner and (a slice and a half of) cake.

Because, #balance.

You should go and love yourself

One of the hallmarks of body positivity is to let each person decide for themselves what is good and healthy for them – and not to judge them for it.

People are all different shapes and sizes, and that’s how it should be.

As for me – I’d been the same relative size for about 10 years, so that’s what I’m aiming to return to. It’s my comfy Kate size.

I also have some fly ass clothes that I’m looking forward to shimming back into …

But that doesn’t mean I don’t love my body right now, just the way it is. Because I really, truly do.

And I hope you do too.

Your body that it is.

Not mine.

That would be weird.

“You should go and love yourself.” – Justin Beiber

I_Weigh

To finish this odyssey of a post, I wanted to do my own @i_weigh.

It’s Jameela Jamil’s campaign for ‘life positivity’, and how we are the beautiful sum of our parts – not a number on a scale.

I recommend it. Not even to post, if you don’t want to.

Just to think about and acknowledge all the awesomeness that is you.

Because:

Possibly the smartest thing John Meyer has ever said.

Have a lovely weekend.

Kate x

Chapter 6: Fantasy Football

I have recently entered a very strange world.

It’s called Fantasy Football, and it’s not as risqué or Micky-Mouse-in-a-wizard’s-hat as it sounds.

The “fantasy” part is just a reference to the fact that people create teams that aren’t real.

They’re a fantasy.

And it’s about football.

It’s Fantasy Football.

And I’m actually kinda into it.

Sports?

You’d be right in thinking that I’m not your typical demographic for a Fantasy Football fan.

  1. I live in New Zealand where our ‘people running at each other’ sport of choice is rugby
  2. When it comes to the Super Bowl, I’m really only here for the halftime show and the snacks
  3. I also don’t actually understand the rules of football per se … except that if you score in the 98th percentile for ‘protective instincts’ you should guard The Blind Side.

Some people would say that makes me a bad fit for a Fantasy Team, and to that I say:

I managed to wrangle the top two draft picks (Gurley and Bell), loved watching Hard Knocks (“It’s contagious brah”), and my team is currently 3-0.

*Flips hair*

I’m also a big Katie Nolan fan. She’s teaching me Sports?

But my secret weapon, and the real reason I’m playing Fantasy Football, is because of my husband, Taka.

Marital bliss?

Taka is what I would describe as a “Jock Nerd”.

He’s naturally athletic (what’s that like?), loves the NBA and NFL, and follows sports news like he’s the CIA (the man’s Twitter feed is insane).

We said “I do” on 14 January 2012 in Wellington’s Old St Paul’s Cathedral, and it was awesome.

Instagram
vs. Reality

My most memorably wedding day moments:

  1. Three of my most talented friends wrote and performed an amazing mash-up song featuring the musical stylings of Disney and Usher while we signed the registry
  2. The. Cake. There was enough of it to feed an army (or like, me), and it was RIDICULOUS
  3. That wind though. My veil literally flew off my head at one point
  4. Doing the ultimate pinky ring-finger swear to stick with my best bud and sexy man friend forever.

But you know as well as I do that a marriage isn’t about the wedding.

That’s just one dope day.

Marriage is your every day after that.

And as someone who’s been married for six and a half years, I feel (very un)qualified to give some advice on marital bliss.

‘Cause, everyone loves unsolicited relationship advice, right …?

  1. Talk about stuff. Stuff you’re happy about, stuff you’re worried about, stuff you’re annoyed about – talk about all the stuff. Disagreements and grievances (over serious, or kinda dumb but important things, like who’s doing most of the housework) are very rarely as bad out in the open as they are in your head. Just talk about stuff.
  2. Do fun things together. It’s really good and healthy to have your own hobbies and ‘you do you boo’ time, but it’s also pretty special when some of your best memories in life are with your spouse.
  3. And own the role. As a spouse you are your partner’s most trusted confidant, biggest supporter, lover, and best mate. You laugh with them, protect them, encourage them, and stand by them. And when that’s happening on both sides, marriage is boss.

No one gets it right all the time (because none of us are perfect). But if you do mess up – just say you’re sorry, try and make it right, and don’t be a dick.

I’m in my Fantasy Football League (we’re called The Twelve #christianlols) because of #2. Doing fun things together.

Showing a genuine interest in what your spouse is passionate about is always a solid move. Hence, I now not only know who Mike Evans is, but I’m genuinely thrilled he’s kicking ass this season. Shot, Mike.

Back to football

For those of you who came to read about make-believe sports team makeups, this section is for you …

My Team

kate fantasy team

I don’t know much, but I do know this …

  1. Team names should equate to PUNS, which is why I’m Mrs Tucker (a. Because cute, and b. Because Queen B/Mrs Carter)
  2. Bell is coming back, yo. I can feel it
  3. Don’t pick teams based on hotties. I chose Eric Decker based on his face, and a week after our draft he was dropped from his team. Eric is currently pursuing a career in reality tv, which coincidentally, he does have a face for.
  4. I went RB, WR, WR in my draft picks. I hear that’s a thing?
  5. OBJ, is so cool it hurts.

That is all. Fin.

What hobbies have you had a go at in support of your main squeeze?

Also – I’m pretty new to this blogging game, so if you did want to share your favourite post with your pals on the social medias that would kinda be the coolest thing ever. You can at me on Instagram @beforekateturns30. I’d really appreciate your help in spreading the lols.

Have an epic week.

Kate x

Chapter 5: Running

Running has always been the worst.

I remember at Intermediate there was a month in the school calendar where we would do cross-country every Wednesday. And it was. Horrific.

Mainly because I was a little bit of a chubster. And I had braces, which didn’t impede my running, but certainly made sure I developed a personality.

I wasn’t a natural athlete. I liked Harry Potter and carbs. And my hobbies most definitely did not include struggling around (what must have only been a 2km) block in my Slazenger sneakers, while turning a violent shade of plum in front of cute* boys.

They were character developing years.

“The Treadmill”

According to TedTalk metaphors, getting “on the treadmill” of life isn’t something to be recommended.

But for a Kate scarred by running in public, a gym treadmill offered the perfect cardio oasis.

Air-conditioned, mood lit, and pumping MTV … it was my version of Batman’s ab-enhancing jumpsuit:

It was beautiful, flattering anonymity.

The cardio cinema became my Bruce Wayne training ground, and Les Mills my Ra’s a Ghol.

Treadmill training prepped me for my first Wellington Round the Bays 10km race, and much to my surprise, it really was a “fun” run.

Evidence: 

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Obligatory before and after shots from my 2014 race

F•R•I•E•N•D•S with running

After my initial runner’s high Round the Bays, I did another couple of races, but always seemed to find myself in the same pattern:

  1. Wants to become “a runner”
  2. Trains on treadmill
  3. Does race
  4. Dies
  5. Never wants to run again

  1. Decides wants to be “a runner” again …

I’m more will-they-won’t-they than Ross and Rachel.

More evidence

So this time, I’m doing something different.

I’m learning to run.

Outside.

The Postpartum Loop-Hole

As I discovered in every race ever, running outside is harder than being on the treadmill.

It’s like trying to drive a manual when you’re used to an auto. It all seems the same, but then there’s that third pedal, and you’re just like, w h a t.

I also used to be quite mean to myself about my running fitness. Because I could do 8km on the regular on a treadmill, I would beat myself up about struggling to do that outside.

Which is so dumb on so many levels. (Life’s much more fun if you treat yourself like you’re your own bestie).

Enter: the postpartum loop-hole.

I had a baby 10 months ago, and during that process, any running fitness I had went bye-bye along with my ability not to cry while watching This Is Us.

But I also learnt something else. Something, if we’re honest, I kinda already knew:

It was like all of a sudden I didn’t mind if I had to do walk/jog/walk between lampposts.

I didn’t feel like I “should” (the dirtiest, guiltiest of words) be able to do this already. The postpartum loop-hole gave me permission to be a beginner, and to be ok with starting at the bottom (now we here).

“The Secret”

I had to have a baby to learn “the secret” (and get some bad ass lightening tattoos, which some people call stretch marks, but that’s cause they basic).

But all you’ve had to do is read this blog (… lazy?)

The secret is: Just go for it.

Don’t worry about the “what ifs” of “I shoulds”. If you want to try something.

Just go for it.

Start the blog (!). Book the tickets. Ask the question. Do the thing.

What’s the worst that could happen? You fail. Oh well. Everyone does that. Just learn from it, have a laugh, and move on.

Like me with running: I don’t really care if my face looks like a plum pudding when I run.

Because. I. Love. Running.

Well – I love the feeling directly after I finish running.

Endorphins, yeah, that’s what I love. Endorphins.

That and the amazing sense of pride I get after doing something stupid hard.

And that’s exactly what I felt when I took the photo at the top of this post. It’s me after doing my first outside run without stopping around my new regular neighbourhood route (which Strava tells me is a tidy little 4.3km.)

I’m feelin’ 22 21.0975

Now I can’t very well tell you to just go for it, and not get on board myself.

So, I’m going to try something too.

I’m going to do the Wellington Round the Bays this February. Except this time – I’m going to do the half-marathon.

Which you better believe I instantly regret putting onto the internet and making myself accountable to. But stuff it.

I’m going for it.

Kate Rates: Running

It’s ridiculous and hard, and it makes you feel like death and victory all at once.

Running is the best.

10/10, would recommend.

Have you ever done a half-marathon before? For the love of all that is holy, please. Help. Me. Any tips would be very much appreciated.

Kate x

*On reflection, my taste was super questionable.

Chapter 4: Paintball

My brother is in the army. Which I tell you for two reasons:

The first being. Don’t mess with me. Unless of course you want a Liam Neeson situation on your hands. Jk. He doesn’t even read this blog (savage).

My brother that is, not Liam Neeson. Mr The Grey is a huge fan of my work.

The second reason, and the one more pertinent to this post, is that my Bro Town Jack liked paintball as a kid.

Rambo No. 5

There were a run of years in the early Noughties where it felt like every September (the month of Jack’s birth, in the year of our Lord, 1992) I was having my ass handed to me in paintball.

I remember when I was about 13 we went full Rambo in a jungle (read: there were a couple trees), and it was a blood bath. Well, in that I got hit in the knuckle and it bled blood.

That was also that year I yelled at Jack for hitting me twice in the leg, because semi-automatic. But Luck is a Lady, and she knows the ovaries before brovaries code, and late in the game Jack was hit by friendly-fire.

It was the only time he was shot all game, and it was by his own team.

I was over-joyed.

We also tried some indoor arenas/old factory situations with inflatable obstacles. But the result was always the same: a surly Kate covered in welts.

So as you can imagine, I was pretty much the ideal birthday guest. Super positive, super good energy.

Do you remember, September

It seems entirely fitting then that just days after Jack’s birthday this month, I hit up paintball with a bunch of our Youth from church.

I was not going to go gentle into this good night.

I was going to take back paintball.

I was going to be brave.

And maybe blue.

And basically Mel Gibson William Wallace.

More importantly. I was going to not suck!

The Comeback Kid

As prep, I did what anyone would do.

I watched Olan Rodger’s video, The Comeback Kid.

Which, side-bar, is honestly so funny.

Olan is a storytelling genius with a name that has my autocorrect F-R-E-A-K-I-N-G out. His animated series Final Space on Netflix is LEGIT, and Ghost in the Stalls is still one of my favourite things to ever grace YouTube.

Second side-bar: I just rewatched Ghost in the Stalls for … research, and then remembered how much I love Echoes Through the Wall. So funny. So great. So off topic.

Side-bar: Back to Paintball

I watched The Comeback Kid, because:

A. Paintball references.

And B. Comeback references.

It had everything.

So off I went – with my Katniss Everdeen French braids, because that will help – to take back paintball, and to have a good time. Instead of a bad time. Like every other time.

Kate Rates: Paintball

We went to a fitted out old warehouse to play, which was a little bit murdery, but mainly awesome and full of go-karts.

It was helmets only, not the traditional overalls ensemble, which I felt was maximum bad ass.

And it was so fun.

I took the offensive approach (as in, not hiding, I didn’t shout racist stuff), shot vaguely in the direction of people, actually hit someone (which surprised even me), and when I did get shot I took it like a champ. Because child birth.

I ended up with a sizey welt on my leg, a red mark on my arm, a bit of a bruised hand, and a paintball shaped circle on my forehead where a punk kid got me with a headshot.

Through my helmet.

Which is frankly impressive.

It was awesome.

My only regret was not having more bullets. 100 paintballs in 20 minutes goes a lot faster than you’d think.

9/10, would recommend.

Have we got any other Olan (just autocorrected to Zola – how is that more plausible?!) fans in the house?

What brother birthday parties have you endured?

See you next week!

Kate x

Ps. I start Improv classes on Tuesday. Dies.