Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Planes, Storms and Automobiles

I've been back from the USA for 2 weeks now and the scale of my trip has only just settled in. Okay, so it wasn't an around the world adventure, nor was it 2 months in a car, but it was definitely epic. Here are some photos in chronological order to help you go through this journey with me:

This is Times Square in NYC. I spent a week there with my awesome Mr E.P.

Mr E.P. and I made this rather awesome snow dinosaur during the first snow storm of this trip. Everyone, please say hello to Tiny the Dinosaur. 

Next I flew to Los Angeles. We were super busy there and it wasn't until the 5th day I was there that I realised I hadn't taken many photos. Here is a walk on the Venice beach before the Campference.

Here is the Playwork Campference on the first day. It was awesome - you can read more my thoughts here.

Here is the Campference on the second day - a rainstorm! There was so much water the streets turned into rivers and all the children could do was dance in it. I could have cried that day, but didn't - it all turned out okay!

Here is the Campference on the third day and this is one of my favourite photos of this trip. So much awesome: so much play.

Here is a walk on the beach after the Campference. Not so warm here - but we are happy! So pleased to spend time with Morgan and Andy!

After LA, we drove to San Francisco for a workshop and Pop-Up.

We were only there for a short time but we managed to sneak in a little bit of tourism.

I had a break from work after that and hung out with Mr E.P. We didn't do much and this is probably my most interesting photo - an old bit of hive!

Refreshed, I flew to Chicago to meet Morgan where we looked out onto Lake Michagan and found out that we won an award! It was a very surreal moment which we will never forget.

We ran a workshop in Evanston, IL where the adults really got into their play.

We hung out with some lovely people and this young man and I did a lot of adventuring by the lake.

Morgan and I then drove to Springfield, IL where we did a keynote to 300 librarians, and then borrowed a lot of their spoons to play with. It was amazing.

And of course, I had to finish off the trip with one more snow storm. Two feet of snow happened overnight and I think that by the time I had gotten to this feat of weather, I had just stopped worrying and just started enjoying it. Here's me - happy! :)

During this trip I have been on 8 flights, driven 6 different cars, completed 4 presentations, experienced 2 snow storms and survived 1 epic rain storm. At one point, I looked around and started laughing at the sheer madness of it all. We did so much as Pop-Up Adventure Play, and I feel like I overcame a lot as Zan. And it was so great to be able to share the adventure with some awesome people too. It was an incredible journey, and I am excited for the next one: Canada! More soon!

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Mother's Weekend

I am back from my travels (which I will talk more about later) and right in time to celebrate Mother's Day. My mum's been through a lot recently - and there's more to come too - so we decided to make a whole weekend of my mum.

On Saturday, we went for a walk around a local reservoir. It was a beautiful day and when we got there, we found ourselves transported to somewhere that didn't look anything like Manchester - it was a little breathtaking:

Here's mum and dad, delighted with the location for our wanderings.

And look at this! The stillness of the reservoir and the reflection of the blue sky. It's so beautiful, my heart could burst.

And here we all our. I'm clearly super happy! :)

Later in the evening we went to see Beauty and the Beast as well! A great film and an awesome end to a fun day!

On Sunday, we decided to make our evening meal interactive, so we did an electric barbecue outside! We have a little electric raclette (like a grill thingy) which we plugged in and enjoyed the first beautiful evening of Spring.

Here's mum, looking mightily pleased.

Dad was feeling a little silly - this was an awesome idea!

Isn't this a hilarious two-person meal photo? Haha. I was there too, I promise!

It was a beautiful evening and we had simple food, simply. With bellies full and moods happy, we finished off the weekend - happy mother's day mum! You are awesome - may there be many happy mother's days to come!  

Monday, 23 January 2017

Taking Time to Breathe

Things have been quiet on the blog front because of all the busyness I have been involved in. Top of the list of things to do is the Playwork Campference, the first ever conference I've helped to organise. It's happening in February and is based in California and you might think "Wow, such a beautiful location" but actually it's been oddly stressful to be so far away from the project you're working on. I literally have no control over what happens! But everything will be fine - I have a great team around me.

Weirdly enough, the busier I am, the more I seek out ways to not work, to get outside, or to unwind my brain. I have noticed that I watch TV less, but go for walks more. I have less fast food, and spend more time making stuff from scratch. It seems counter-intuitive that with an ever increasing list of things to do that I might be playing more, but I am. I can more effectively tackle the list when my play needs are met first. It doesn't make any sense, but it really works.

I've been walking everywhere. To the shops, to the park, to the post office, to the post box. I've also been wandering in the woods, through all the puddles, in the river and across vast fields. It's been lovely just to walk. One foot in front of another in a predictable, methodical way, discovering unknown views, never-seen-before mushrooms or previously unnoticed architectural features. I've walked for hours and hours since Christmas. It's been awesome.

What I haven't done much is bake, but that hiatus was halted with these scones! I did 4 plain, 4 raisin and 4 cheesey ones, all be request of various members of the family :) They were wonderful.

And here is a sample of the biscuits I made the day after the scones. They are lovely vanilla biscuits and there ended up being 50 of them! So many yummy business :) Yay! :)

I'll be off to the USA very soon and will be hitting the ground running. Having these moments to myself - to breathe - really makes a difference! It makes me more efficient, less scatterbrained and far more focused on what needs to be done. To me, this makes perfect sense. Just as a runner's arms needs to pump the legs along, our work is pushed along because of our play. 

Without play, my work gets really difficult. I find it hard to sit still, to stay focused and to come up with new ideas when I haven't first had some time to play. If this is the case for me, an adult who's supposed to be responsible and mature, a person who's supposed to be above the childishness of frivolous activity, then what of the children? I feel sad that children who are programmed to play are being asked, almost forced, to sit down and focus on things they're not interested in. I have enough trouble doing that as an adult. 

Another ironic twist in this busyness is that when I spend too long typing too fast, my wrists begin to hurt. I reckon it's mild repetitive strain injury - nothing serious - but a massive part of me is attributing pain to my hands doing the wrong types of activities. Sure, my fingers have always been pressing keys - I grew up playing a piano for hours at a time - but I guess nowadays I spend days at a time typing, and humans hands just weren't designed for that. Time for them to do a little kneading, mixing, doodling, chopping, photographing and making.

So I'm going to go off and do a little doodling before bed. Hope you find a little time to play today too. More soon!

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Hello 2017 :)

Seven days of 2017 has almost passed and it has gone past quickly! I have busy working on Pop-Up Adventure Play projects, and getting some much needed Zan time in. I've started up doing year 3 of daily postcards - and am extremely excited for some reason. I'm not sure how to document them yet - should I add it to the existing map?

Anyway, maybe people are catching on to my postal enthusiasm, or maybe people just like me enough to send me post, but I have received a bumper crop of postal surprises this week!

Four pieces of post! Hoorah! :)

From left to right clockwise:
1) My nephew sent me some of his artwork that he made with the stuff I bought him for Christmas. My sister also sent me a video of him enthusiastically prodding paint onto paper. She tells me that the paint has been sampled and that despite it not tasting very nice, he still keeps eating it.
2) My lovely friend Ric sent me an encouraging card with some much needed stamps - so very thoughtful - I hadn't realised how expensive these postcards would get.
3) My cousin Karen sent me a little surprise - a personalised notebook with accompanying note. The words "Zan is happy happy" has made Zan very happy happy.
4) My lovely friend Lee sent a lovely postcard from his travels.

These pieces of post have already made my year. It's so lovely that people have taken a few moments out of their day to write to me - thank you so much! :) I feel very much loved and completely blessed. Yaaay! :) More post for everyone this year!

Saturday, 31 December 2016

My 2016 :)

This year's review will be different from the ones I have written in the last few years. In case you're interested, here are the reviews from 20112012, 20132014 and 2015. (Hadn't quite realised that I have been blogging for so long!) It has been a difficult year and as a result, I haven't blogged nearly as much as I would like so that I wouldn't fill my blog with negativity and sadness - there's enough of that in the world without me adding to it. I am determined that my blog is skewed in favour of positive blessings and so here are three things I feel a thankful for as I come to the end of 2016...

My Mum
I didn't make a public announcement that my mum had cancer: it seemed both inappropriate and completely insensitive. So it may come as a little surprise to some of you that for the last 7 months that my family and I have been working around the clock to ensure that my mum has been well looked after because of a cancer that decided to invade one of her lungs. To cut a horrible story short, my mum is now recovering slowly from chemotherapy with part of her left lung gone. She is a fighter, and even though there have been moments of pure sadness in our house, I can happily report that we are all doing well, and that she is expected to make a full recovery.

So this year I must be thankful for my mum, admire her willingness to survive, and applaud the strength that she and the family have had during most of the year. I'm pleased to say that I will be seeing in the new year with her and Dad and hope that all the sadness and pain will be left behind in 2016.

Here she is, staring at her favourite baked good ever - the home made Jammie Dodger! :)

My Play
I'm not sure if I would have survived the year if it wasn't for my constant desire to play. Even when times get rough, I would make time to do what I wanted, in the way that I wanted for my my reasons only. A lot of you have been following my postcard adventures - that's one of the things I do for play. It serves no real purpose but it makes me feel so happy! Hanging out with friends, baking stuff and just wandering around outside for a few moments every day makes a huge difference to me - it resets my mind and gives me the all important balance I need in a world that isn't always an even keel. Here are some of my favourite playful moments of the year:

I met this goat and it is still the most handsome goat I have ever seen.

I dyed some eggs, and I am still so very happy from the process of making that happen!

I went to Guernsey - such a beautiful place that seems to have captured my heart.

I baked some amazing biscuits, and decorated them with my very own doodles!

I took this photo - my best of 2016, I think!

I made a snow dinosaur - the best one so far!

And I went to Singapore and Hong Kong, all on my own and it was awesome.

My Peeps
Being able to hang out with my peeps this year has been super important to me. My peeps are the people who I consider to be my nearest and dearest - both friends and family. I feel so blessed with their presence in my life, and thankful that they are able to surround me with love whenever I need it. Here are some photos that tries to encapsulate all of them, but I haven't photos of them all - Angel, Fiona and Nadia, as well as all of my photo shy friends - you're all awesome! :)

Here is my immediate family and yes it includes my lovely friends Andy and Lisa who became immediate family when they were chosen to the Godparents to my nephew :)

Here is my extended family in Hong Kong who I got to visit this year - very thankful for that!

Here is my friendship family - my lovely PMs :)

This photo represents my work family - Morgan and Andy whom I have no photos of from this year but this will change next year! 

And for good measure, another photo of my adorable niece - a bubbly lifeline in my life...

....and also a photo of my nephew who reminds me every day that it's okay to be happy.

Eventhough 2016 has been hard for me, I know there's a lot to be thankful for. I will learn the lessons I need to but focus more on the joys that I have been blessed with instead of the sadnesses that can be so overwhelming. I know that 2016 will stay in people's memories and go down as one of the most... crazy of all time, but there are always good stuff in the bad and it is my plan to remember 2016 as the year we all survived. I think that's a good way of looking at it, right? :)

Anyway, I'd like to wish everyone a happy new year. I hope that your 2017 is filled with happy and that you too can find some good things to remember 2016 by. May your 2017 be adventurous, exciting and joyful! See you next year! :)

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Our PM Office Christmas Party

I met with my college friends, the wonderful PMs for another awesome Christmas. This will make it officially 16 years of Christmasses that we have celebrated together which makes it half of my lifetime's worth of Decembers. And that's quite a lot.

This year we gathered at Shazia's place and we themed the food as the PM Office Christmas party. As it turns out, a lot of us have never been to an office Christmas party before: I've never worked in an office and everyone else just managed to avoid them. So here's what we got up to:

Clockwise from the top right - Pass the Parcel (Sprout edition); all our clues for Shazia's treasure hunt; delicious party snacks made by Shazia; me wearing 4 hats; and more delicious PM Office Christmas party snacks.

This is my team during the treasure hunt. We had an amazing time having no clue what was happening.

Here's the other treasure hunt team. They didn't find as many as us, eventhough we were mostly very confused.

Here is the host herself - hoorah for Shazia!

We played Pointless, and despite not knowing any answers, we still won the coveted Pointless Trophy! Hoorah!

And here we all are - PM Christmas 2016 photo. Aww. I look so pleased.

It's always so lovely to see my lovely PMs. Only three of the 6 of us still live in Manchester, but we still meet here every year and usually spend at least 50% of it laughing with or at eachother. As always, I feel blessed to have this group of friends and hope that we will continue to meet every Christmas for many years to come. I'm not sure that other office Christmas parties are like this but I definitely enjoyed my very first one - hoorah! Thank you for an amazing evening, peeps! :) Let's do this again next year! :D

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Christmas 2016

This year was the year we realised that none of our houses could possibly accommodate the entire family for Christmas. As the family grows, I guess this problem was bound to happen - it's a happy problem, but a problem nonetheless. True to form, the Law Family dealt with it in style so we rented a big house - actually three houses which were stuck together - to fit 9 adults and 2 busy toddlers for one festive long weekend. Here are some photos:

Here's the group Christmas photo! My sister, dad, brother-in-law, mum, sister's mother-in-law, sister's father-in-law, me, my brother and my sister-in-law

We had a sweet set up there - with a mezzanine floor which overlooked the biggest common area.

Here are the little people, my niece and nephew. They are both super busy little walkers now.
Here's my little nephew. We were enjoying some outside time, running around in the field outside. Lots of laughing and squealing - so much joy in this little person! :)

Here he is, the little sweetie.

Here is my little niece. She really likes her hat. This was 7am and she wanted to wear her hat and take a photo with bunny.

Here she is a little later on for some outside time with Auntie Zan. There's the hat again! :)

One more photo of the two of them. They are such funny little people :)

I had an amazing getaway with the family. Relaxing and spacious, with no real responsibilities apart from to eachother and no real internet connection either! With two little people in our lives, there's so much more joy and laughter too. There's nothing quite like hearing their little voices, and getting a tiny hug filled with happy. I'm really grateful for this chance to gather and feel incredibly blessed. I hope to hang out with everyone again soon!