Slipping my hand into my

Slipping my hand into my pocket for comfort, I found the Kathmandu wine bottle opener. Damn. I thought I'd put that on the Kristy's bench on Saturday night. Nice Michelle, really nice, go to your cousin's 30th birthday party and steal her exceptionally nice opener. It ended up in the pocket of my jacket because I'd cleverly purchased non-screw-top beer at the supermarket on the way to the party, so needed the tool close-at-hand at all times rather than walking back into the house each time I needed to open a bottle.

I left for Rotorua later than I intended on Saturday. It has been really hot and muggy here in Auckland, and finding the energy to tear myself away from The Secret Life of Plants was just too much effort. I was making good time until I passed through Tirau, where, due to a car accident, the road through to Rotorua was closed, and I had to backtrack and drive through Putararu and Tokoroa to get to my destination.

It was really nice seeing Kristy and Mark as always, and their friends, and parents. I haven't seen Kristy's mum and dad [Pat and Chris - my godparents] since they moved to Australia 5 years ago. So it was hugs and catching-ups all the way around. Kristy's 30th was distinctly different from her 21st. Besides her friends had grown up by 9 years or so, now several of them had babies - including Kristy - and they all drank a *lot* less, and went to bed a *lot* earlier. That's family life for you. Whereas at the 21st we had an avocado dip fight at 4:30am, all the guests had gone and we'd cleaned up by 11pm at the 30th. Such lovely people though, they let me talk about me continuously with hardly any complaint.

megan and christopher - kristy's fridge photos

Kristy was born on December 17th, 1973. I was in Form One at McKillop College in Rotorua. It was a quietly industrious morning when I looked up to see my Grandfather peering through the window of my classroom, before stepping into the door and asking to see me. I was so excited when he told me, out in the corridor, that Aunty Pat had had her baby and it was a girl. It quickly turned to disappointment as I realised this great piece of news didn't mean I got to go home with him, and he deposited me back into my classroom.

I'd been going to Wellington for holidays with Pat and Chris since I was 9, but now I got to go stay with them in their new house and play with their new baby, and watch her grow into the cutest little extrovert of a child. And now she's 30 and has a beautiful daughter and a loving husband of her own.

I eased into Sunday with a lovely breakfast thanks to Aunty Pat. Pat and I sat around talking and listening with Emma and her baby daughter, Frances; and Kristy and her baby daughter, Ellen - before it was time for them to leave. I stayed most of the day with Kristy - going out to see Mark's new work mates and do a bit of shopping at the Craft Market before coming home to baby bathing and dinner.

ellen in her play-box

Leaving a little after 7:30pm, the drive home was hard work. The rain and poor visibility meant it got a bit hairy sometimes with oncoming traffic and streams of cars too-close behind. I was pretty glad to crest the Bombay Hills and have the long, well-lit motorway taking me all the way home.

Here I am at work, Monday morning, with my cousin's wine bottle opener in my pocket, on another muggy, wet, Auckland day. Christmas isn't far away now, and it feels like all I can do to hang on until I can finish the work year. It's been a long, hard year workwise, and I've learned a lot about people, processes and business - both in how *to* do things and now *not* to do things. I get so wound up in work, it's not until I sink into Kristy's couch in her lovely home and remember how much I love my family and how little time I give to them compared to work.

My New Year's Resolution is to put a stop to that - to get my priorities straight - to make *work* more flexible around my *family* not the other way around. I will put an infrastructure in place to achieve that goal over the Christmas break.