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Mum Adine Wilson's model mission

One of New Zealand's best-loved netball stars is ready for a new challenge

Adine Wilson, silver fern

It's lunchtime in the boisterous, bustling Wilson household, and former Silver Ferns captain Adine Wilson is spooning strawberry yogurt into the mouth of her youngest son, while her eldest quietly feeds his banana to the dog.

"Harper, are you taking advantage of oummy not looking?" asks Adine (31), failing to suppress a smile as she wrestles the squished fruit out of her two-year-old's hands. Lincoln (10 months), meanwhile, begins squealing with excitement, banging the table of his high chair.

It's bedlam at the family home on Auckland's North Shore - but Adine, so used to remaining calm under pressure in her former role as one of New Zealand's best-loved netball stars, clearly loves the chaos. So much so, in fact, that she and her husband Jeff (37) are considering adding a third baby to their brood.

"We're quite happy with two," Adine begins, "but I'm open to another. I really enjoyed being pregnant and was so lucky with how well I felt in both my pregnancies. And I haven't given away all of Lincoln's baby clothes just yet. I can't quite bring myself to!

"So we're thinking about it... although we don't want to think too hard. Both these two were conceived during the 'we're only thinking about it' stage!"

And, adds Adine, she's in no rush. The full-time mum says as much as she adores her kids and appreciates being able to stay at home with them during these important early years, she's ready for a new challenge.

"I've started thinking about doing something just for me - something to kick my brain back into action," she says.

"But it's hard as a mum - you think about possible careers and wonder, 'Well, what sort of job do I want? Do I still want the ability to be at home with the kids part-time?' And I definitely do want that."

Adine, a trained lawyer, says while she still harbours dreams of working as a litigator, she's couldn't commit to the lifestyle. "It wouldn't be feasible as a part-time job," she explains. "Imagine your client needing your attention and your office having to say, 'Sorry, but she only works Mondays and Fridays.'"

So, for something with a degree of flexibility, Adine is seriously considering a future as a massage therapist. Her face lights up as she recalls her years spent as an elite athlete and discovering the benefits of massage.

"I did a Physical Education degree at university, along with Law, and I always loved anatomy and physiology. And when I played netball, I used to find massage so great for recovery.

"So, I'm researching the diploma courses available, and hopefully something will fit into my life!"

Adine's recently had the tiniest taste of what life as a working mum could be like. Signed up as the new face of Olay's Total Effects SPF15 Moisturiser, she flew to Australia mid-year to take part in a commercial photo shoot, alongside three leading Australian netballers.

She says it was an amazing opportunity, not only to work on a campaign that appealed to her sun-smart sensibilities, but to catch up with old foes like Aussie shooter Catherine Cox, who endorses Olay's Regenerist range.

"The Australian girls are all so lovely," she says. "But I did feel a bit outnumbered! With such intense rivalry on the court, you were never really able to enjoy a close relationship with the Aussie girls, so seeing them off the court was really nice."

Adine laughs. "Having said that, Catherine and I were having a giggle - we realised that she and I had got the wrinkle and age-defying products and the other two got the younger skin creams. We're the oldies now! But, hey, that's probably fair!"

Confessing she'd never been an Olay user before, but is now "a convert", Adine - who has had two brushes with melanoma in recent years - says it was the sun- protection focus that appealed to her most about the role.
"I've been banging on about the sun-safe cause for years - I've always been passionate about it," she says.

"I mean, look at my children, look at me. We're super pale and we live in a harsh environment for sun. It's so important to be careful."

It does mean altering a widely held view of what beauty means, says Adine, but she believes being "pale and interesting" is preferable to being tanned but terrified of what the long-term effects of a so-called "healthy glow" might be.

"We just came back from a holiday in Fiji and I'm sure our friends were expecting to see us tanned and sunkissed but we were just as white as ever!" laughs Adine, who had her first melanoma removed in 2004.

"The good thing is that the kids don't know any different - they're both used to being slathered in sunscreen, and they know if they're going outside they have to wear a hat. It's non-negotiable. Harper even helps put sunscreen on me, which is really cool."

Adine says although neither of the boys has ever been burned, she's a realist.

"At some stage, it will happen. And it's not going to be the end of the world, I suppose, but at least I can feel confident knowing that I've done everything I can to avoid it."

This is a family that spends a lot of time outdoors and on the go. In the same breath as confessing she's the least fit she's ever been in her life, Adine begins to run through her weekly activity schedule.

"We walk our dog, Stella, a lot, I try and go for a jog when I can, and I've started Zumba! It's so hilarious! I'm sure I'm really uncoordinated, but there's a real range of ages at the sessions a friend and I go to, and it's not as intimidating as going to a gym. We all look uncoordinated together!

"What I really love now about exercise is that I can do it simply because I feel like it," she continues. "I used to train until I was just about falling over. Now, when I go for a run, I can just run. Zumba is something that gets me out of the house and I don't have to push any limits - I can do it because I want to!"

And, adds Adine, it's a chance for Jeff to be in charge of the children. "The nights I have Zumba, he's on dinner, bath and bed. He's such a fantastic dad and so involved with the kids."

However, it's been a rollercoaster year for her husband. Jeff was let go as assistant coach of the North Harbour rugby team in early November.

"our phone didn't stop ringing," recalls Adine. "We had so many friends thinking that because of the situation, we would be leaving Auckland. The bonus of Jeff being a former All Black is that lots of other opportunities popped up straightaway."

In a happy twist, Jeff was thrilled to be offered his old job back at North Harbour four weeks later.

"He really enjoys coaching and he's learned some valuable lessons. Auckland hasn't got rid of us yet!"

Adine says although her hubby loves mentoring others, she'll never tread that path. "oh, good grief, no, I'm not a coach!" she hoots.

And she says that despite leading the Silver Ferns to winning the gold medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, she doesn't miss the life of an athlete. In fact, she confesses, "It's really embarrassing, but when the Ferns played Australia in this year's Commonwealth Games final, I was really tired, so I went to bed and asked Jeff to wake me for the last quarter!"

During the nailbiter, which went into extra time before Maria Tutaia clinched a win for New Zealand, she says she was "screaming at the TV - I was so nervous my teeth were chattering! And I was very emotional at the end. It brought back a lot of memories. Having been there, you know exactly what an amazing feeling it is."

Lunchtime nearly over, Adine picks up a cloth and begins wiping down her kitchen bench before carrying a sleepy Harper upstairs for his nap. Motherhood is, she says, her most demanding role yet, and she knows that whatever career move she makes in the near future, her little ones will always be her top priority.

"At the moment, my favourite part of the day is when Jeff walks in the door and those two gorgeous little faces light up. It melts my heart," she smiles.

"Maybe one day, if I start working again, I'll get that face. I'll be able to do that lovely thing when you go out, take your motherhood hat off for a while and put another hat on for a few hours. That will be really nice - we'll just have to see."

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