Sunday, October 31, 2010

Safely returned and seranaded

Sunday dawned bright and clear - indeed, the boys and I were so thankful for beautiful weather for our 15-minute walk to church. John preached in Nick's absence, an excellent message on Heb 12:1-3 - what a wonderful reminder to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith. The Kempfs kindly and spontaneously took us in for lunch, but before going to their place we swung by the school...we had been alerted that there had been a break-in, but in fact it was more a case of straightforward vandalism - 28 windows were broken, apparently around 7 am that morning. What a tragedy, especially as the school doesn't have insurance for broken windows - it's way too expensive, and the excess would have been more than the breakages. It's a big blow to the school. Lunch was excellent, and Nick met us there around 2.30 - so great to have him back as always! He stayed for a quick cup of coffee and then we left so he could go over his sermon notes, and I needed to bake a cake for after church as we had invited people to stay for a cup of tea and piece of cake in honour of Nick's birthday. Had a good time of fellowship afterwards although Nick was fairly exhausted after his weekend, and still recovering from the recent bug, so glad to relax at home afterwards.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Nick up north

Nick's birthday today - and half a country apart! We had a very long, boring and cold day by ourselves, housebound. The boys are in a Lego phase again, building elaborate spacecraft and flying machines.Nick had a great day though - the FRBCNZ meeting was good, he said, with some positive reports to share. He phoned me when he had landed at Christchurch on Saturday night and I navigated him all the way to his hosts using Google was fun and certainly beat trying to text him directions and have him getting lost in Christchurch!Above: Mike Beck and Nick slept over at Steve and Cathy Turner's home in Auckland. Below: The FRBCNZ meeting was held in a hall - the church there does not have their own building and conduct their Sunday services in a school hall.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Start of lonely weekend :(

Nick came with me to drop the boys off at school, then after running a few errands around town we decided to go for coffee...a last get-together of sorts before he goes away for the weekend and before I start work on Monday. We shared a choc-chip Moro muffin although it was far too early in the morning for such decadence! The rest of the day was spent largely at home doing month-end stuff for church and personally. Nick packed and got his paperwork sorted out for the FRBCNZ meeting in Auckland and at 4.30 was off to Christchurch. He flies from there this evening to Auckland, then will spend the night tomorrow in Christchurch where he is preaching on Sunday morning.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Job offer - thanks but no thanks?

I taught about the Second Coming today in my Bible-in-Schools class...the basic, non-disputed facts that Jesus is coming again, no one knows when, but every eye will see Him. How glorious His appearance will be! And such a blessing for me to be reminded about these wonderful truths as I did the prep. Went from there to do the grocery shopping, then re-reorganized the pantry when I got home...some things are still not working for me and I do not like inefficiency.

Nick and I had our school clubs in the afternoon; I showed my group how to use PhotoFiltre, a freeware graphics package which is small and limited but easy and fun. After fiddling around with the essentials (cropping, colour adjustment, contrast, greyscale conversion etc), they discovered the clone tool - helpful in photo editing for spot removal and fixing, but also great for creating monsters with 10 eyes and hairy beards. They loved it!! (I did administer a word of caution regarding cloning - a journalist was fired from his Very Serious Job for cloning out a pair of inconsequential and distracting legs on one of his editorial photos).

I left them playing for a while to have a meeting with Mr Phillips, who very formally and officially approached me to offer me a temporary teaching aide position at the school. My first response was to turn it down as it's not the sort of job I've been looking for or am qualified to do, as well as it not seeming particularly viable financially - being very part-time it would prevent me from taking on any full-day temp assignments as I would need to commit to seeing the job through. I left him with the assurance that I would pray about it and discuss it with Nick, but that it didn't seem like a possibility. BUT...when Nick and I got home later and spoke about it and prayed about it, the answer was fairly obvious - we've been praying for a job, and God brought this one. How silly to turn it down on the gamble that I may or may not get something else. So come Monday I will be affixed at TCS for three hours each day to devote my attention to one special-needs boy, my trepidation hidden behind a smiling face!

Had tea with the Camerons - it's been ages since we've hung out. We were blessed with a small wahoo (snoek) fresh from the docks earlier in the day by one of our church folk, so took that around with us to add to the meal. The fish was delicious - we miss St Helena's tuna and wahoo availability and price, and this was a real treat. Along with the sausages, potato wedges and salad, we ate more than we've eaten in several days - appetites have finally returned!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Only temporary

Yesterday morning I was phoned by one of the agencies I'm registered with to ask if I could take on an afternoon temping assignment. I was free so agreed, but it meant the rest of the day's activities had to squish in before and after! I had a 10 am meeting with a client to discuss digital wedding invitations which needed to be done quite speedily as the wedding is coming up quite soon. Got busy with the design as soon as she had left (it sounds like I'm a professional graphics person, At 12.15 Nick dropped me off at Presbyterian Support for my very first NZ temp assignment. They run three rest homes, one of them being on the grounds that the admin office where I was to work is also housed. VERY flash offices and beautiful grounds - what a lovely working environment! I spent the afternoon processing eftpos and cash payments for frozen meals, answering the telephone, franking and filling envelopes and trying to answer any other queries and things. The staff were absolutely lovely, making my re-entrance to the workforce a pleasure. Sadly a short-lived experience as it was only a once-off fill-in deal, but it was fun and good experience (and exhausting on top of it). Nick and the boys collected me at 5 pm. None of us really wanted anything for tea; our appetites have not returned yet after our recent run-in with The Bug so I was free to get straight back to the Mac. We had toasties in the end and I finished the invites shortly after 8 pm. All in a day's work!Today I was happy just to be at home, catching up on things - finished another layout on the wedding album and did a few other bits and pieces. Nick was working from home today as he's still not up to full steam and it was good to have him around.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Family camp

We had been looking forward to our church camp for a long time, and finally this weekend it happened - a long weekend, so camp ran from Friday evening to Monday lunch time. It's a combined camp with Grace, our nearest Reformed fellowship in Christchurch, and the venue is about halfway between Christchurch and Timaru. I would have liked to write a glowing report on the wonderful fellowship and spiritual food we experienced and I'm sure we would have, had not Caleb started vomiting at 7.30 on Friday night. We thought he might just have been car sick but the vomiting continued until late on Friday night, then started up again Saturday morning. Poor Caleb was pale and miserable. He started feeling better on Saturday afternoon though so could join in with some of the games and activities planned for the free hours of the afternoon. We missed the first two sessions though because of his sickness, having to sit in the diningroom and listen on speakers - not quite the same though. In the early hours of Sunday morning Aaron and I both were sick; Aaron was in the boys' dorm and so we were not on hand to help him or prevent him vomiting all over the inside of his sleeping bag and on someone else's sleeping bag. Gross. I was in no condition to help with the clean-up so Nick got stuck with it. It wasn't difficult to make the decision to leave camp early, so as soon as we could pack up on Sunday morning we left, getting home around 11 am - both for our sakes and so we would not infect more people. As it was there were at least two other people down with the bug that we know of. Aaron and I spent the rest of the day in bed. Caleb was completely recovered by that point, and Nick was super with stepping in as The Mom - unpacking, loading the dishwasher, reading to the boys, seeing to lunch and tea for himself and Caleb. Aaron and I ate nothing all day. Today, Monday, Nick caught the bug, and has been in bed exhausted. And such was our first experience of Marchwiel's annual family camp!Above: the camp speaker, Craig Lloyd (centre), enjoying a game of Boggle with Bronwyn, Grant and me. Below: Rene did himself a calf injury and could only hobble around after that.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

TCS our second home?

Take a deep breath before launching into a busy Thursday with me: Dropped the boys off at school, headed back to Waimataitai School for my bible class, in which I taught the Christmas story and left a carrot cake with them after singing "Happy birthday dear Jesus". Fiddled on a invitation on Gimp, then started prepping for my photography club, which took longer than anticipated as I started editing photos as well. Nick, meanwhile, was out getting the car WOF' a roadworthy certificate which gets done biannually. The car failed on two counts, so we need new tires and brake pads. Nick and I left home together at 2 pm to run a few errands in town before going to TCS for our clubs. Our topic today was black and white although most of my group struggled to take photos with uncharged batteries in their cameras! No one pitched for Nick's guitar lesson so he and Aaron went to practice badminton before their second club at 4.30 - badminton in the school hall with Matt. Nick and I played a bit as well and by the end of an hour or so we could maintain a decent rally - I was never very good in school and have gotten worse since. That ended at 5.30 but we had another meeting at the school at 6.30; instead of coming home we took our tea there and hung around. The 6.30 meeting was a planning one for a South African Fair coming up in November; Nick and I were conscripted into helping. Possibly I was already in a silly mood but when the Afrikaans (oph-ree-cahns) version of "teat bottles" (baby bottles) kept being bandied about I couldn't hold back my guffaws and tears. The meeting was conducted almost entirely in Afrikaans, with Grant occasionally translating for Nick's benefit...I found it amusingly ironic that this was the most Afrikaansish meeting I've ever attended, despite having grown up in SA! Home at 8 - the boys had been at the school nearly 12 hours - and then Nick left immediately for the bakery for his late-night voluntary shift.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Homemade lollies

Today I became better acquainted with my kitchen with a few sets of baking...and washing dishes...and baking...and washing dishes. I made peanut butter biscuits (an easy favourite, but they took way longer without Aaron to roll the dough into balls for me), carrot cake (took longer without Caleb's help who almost makes the whole cake, just with a little supervision), and then when the boys came home from school Caleb told me about a science experiment they did with sugar, syrup and baking soda...yip, good old honeycomb, aka cinder, aka hokey pokey. I wrongly assumed he wanted to try it at home, so after googling a proper recipe (Caleb kept changing the quantities of ingredients each time he retold it), we set to. Turns out Caleb wasn't really keen on a remake and doesn't like the stuff at all, so there was a bit of coercion on my part to get him to stick around and stir the pot. It has a strong aftertaste from the soda, but the sweet melt-awayness during eating makes it worthwhile! The recipe is as follows, from here:

4 tablespoons golden syrup
1 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon bicarbonate of soda

- Line a baking tray with baking paper.
- In a large saucepan, heat the golden syrup and sugar together, bring to a boil then simmer on low heat for 5-10 minutes. Cooking time will vary but test it by dropping a little syrup into water - it should become brittle when ready. Watch it doesn't burn.
- Remove pot from heat and add the bicarb soda. Quickly mix it in because the mixture will foam up instantly.
- Pour immediately into the cake tin.
- Leave to set then break into bite size chunks.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Something about gardens, weeds, grass, flowers?

(Thanks Nick for helping me with that smashing title). Yesterday I was under the weather so after dropping the boys at school (they were not excited about school, as Caleb expressed it - it's just normal now) and doing a quick house-clean including most of the ironing, I had a very quiet day at home, by myself. It was lovely though not to be needed anywhere for anything!
Rachel and Josh called in this morning for a cuppa and catch-up - good to be reminded what they look like :) - and on her way out Rachel pulled up a few weeds in a very (land)lady-like manner. I took the hint and got stuck in, enjoying the sunny, still morning in the garden and watching as huge pieces of earth appeared in the absence of weeds and grass. Long-dormant bulbs have come up and are producing such a variety of beautiful flowers. There is also a wisteria plant climbing over some bushes and drooping its purple blossoms from on high - the non-maintained garden is looking great! I was glad to have been outside in the morning as once again there was a sudden change in the weather in the early afternoon. Caleb went on a field trip to the Scenic Reserve with his class today but reported that they were just finishing off when the wind started blowing.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A tale of two winds

Nick preached an excellent message on baptism to a church full of very attentive listeners...there are varying views on baptism in our church, but Nick presented what we understand and believe to be the biblical teaching on full immersion of believers. The day was so beautiful that we opted for some outdoor time by way of a walk/ride to Caroline Bay. Turns out it's quite an easy walk from our place! Along the way we met an older couple out walking and struck up a conversation, and in so doing met a brother and sister in the Lord. Jan and Brent Soper attend Wilson Street Baptist, and with an instant connection we chatted quite a lot of the way down to the bay itself. It was blowing gales most of the way...I was annoyed with the wind which keep blowing my hat off and whipping hair into my eyes - Nick's photo captures it superbly. On the way home the wind suddenly stopped; we rejoiced in the respite but not for long as a cold southerly started up within a minute - the drop in air temperature was sudden and noticeable. So this is what Caroline Bay looks like - it's Timaru's main swimming beach.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Chill(y)/ed Saturday

Nick made omelettes for breakfast this morning - yummy as!! He's pretty good in the kitchen if I can just keep him away from the it was he forgot to use salt but the fillings made up for it. Spent ages turning the boys' room upside down looking for Aaron's missing school socks, to no avail. In the first week he managed to lose and find his jersey and lose a pair of socks, not found (yet). The skies cleared slightly after lunch so Nick took the boys to the park and I stayed home to scrap, finishing another page in the commissioned wedding album. Joined the masses for Saturday Afternoon Shopping at the Warehouse - I'm sure some people make it a regular weekly event! Have taken absolutely no photos in the last two days - what's happening to me?!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Two teas, two clean-ups and five seconds

Friday: the last day of the first week of school, and I can report that I have two happy boys. Both are convinced that they have the best teacher, and both have worked hard and seem to be taking the whole school thing quite seriously. Let's hope it continues in this way! It was a busy day for time for this 'lady of leisure' stuff. I started tea preparations early, doing a pudding and lasagne mince, then washed the kitchen floor (I had started sticking to it and the 5-second rule had been reduced to a millisecond rule). At 12.30 I met up with some South African ladies for an afternoon tea arranged by Kristi, one of our church ladies. It was great to meet a few of the TCS moms as well - some of their children I knew by name from the boys mentioning them. Had to leave before the others to get to a music practice at the church with Nick and Bronwyn, and then Nick left me at the church for my rostered cleaning while he collected the boys. Back home a bit later to finish preparations for tea, and then had a super evening with the Mouton family - Jacques and Ina, their children Jacques and Inge, and Ina's mom Gerda, the matriarch of the family. They are Afrikaans SAcans and Jacques Snr had some very interesting and funny stories to share of life on a farm in a small 'dorp', growing up without electricity and mod-cons!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Organized food and stocking-footed students

Bible-in-Schools resumed for our Waimataitai group this morning. It was so good to be back with the kids and see their eager bright faces. I didn't do a lesson with them as such as we had a few pages to complete in their workbooks, so it was more of a recap. Was rewarded with several hugs again when I left; I sure will miss them if/when I get a job. It was great not to have to rush home after the class to the Clevely Academy - I did the grocery shopping instead. When I reorganized the pantry in the afternoon I discovered just how disorganized it had become - I now have 11 boxes of muesli stockpiled! I tend to buy things when they're on special, particularly breakfast cereals...these ones expire mid 2011, so I don't mind the large collection :) Camera club also resumed this afternoon (along with Nick's guitar lessons). We focused on "capturing details" with the intent of seeing the bigger picture with a fresh eye and closer inspection. Got some really great pics from my students.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Get lost

Day 3 of the boys at school...Nick and I got to have lunch together today by way of Chinese takeaways (a spring roll and chips - semi-oriental!) which we took to Caroline Bay. I wanted to drop off my CV in town so the trip was multipurpose, and we also had a quick look around the public library for the first time. It's impressively large. Nick went back to work and I wanted to explore some outlying areas with my camera as the clouds were splendid, but with not wanting to drive too far for fear of wasting petrol I didn't find what I was hoping for. Took the pic below on Cartwrights Road, north of Timaru. I went straight from there to fetch the boys but would have arrived way too early, so headed back to Centennial Park where we had been yesterday for a short stroll. Took a few pics (unspectacular) then decided to try a different route back to the car. Bad idea; I could see the car across a gully but simply could not get to it. There were no bridges to be had but I kept convincing myself that it would be quicker to press on instead of turning back. It wasn't. At several points I could have turned back and been at the car way sooner than my run/walk around half of Centennial Park ended up being. I reached the school late - the shame of it, on only the third day!! Caleb's highlight today was that he got to sit in Miss Carter's chair and tell the class about St Helena. His second highlight, he admitted sheepishly, was to emit a colonic calliope in class (not his choice of words but I had to neaten it up for the blog). He said no one knew it was him and everyone laughed. Aaron's highlight was his lunch box.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Boatman, Frogman

This morning's school drop-off was heaps better than yesterday's...a quick kiss for Aaron and knuckle-bump for Caleb and I was off, happy to leave them in the good hands of their teachers. Back home I did the mom thing and got a few rounds of baking done - coconut ice, chocolate oats cookies, and choc-chip peanut-butter biscuits later in the day. No time to even think about being bored as I had to be back at the school after lunch in the capacity of Extra Adult Presence (EAP) for Aaron's first field trip. His class and the one below his took a walk to the scenic reserve, aka Centennial Park. I teamed up with three girls and we hunted for bugs using nets and plastic jars. Aaron's group caught a Water Boatman insect - pretty amazing! By 2.30 we were back at the school and the kids had another class before the 3 pm bell, so I had half an hour to kill which didn't make going home particularly worthwhile - it's about a 9-minute drive one way. Two other EAPs were hanging around, so we decided to go out for a quick cup of coffee. Yeah, I'm hanging with the school moms! Both boys now tell me that theirs is the best teacher. Caleb I can believe...but goodness, look at Aaron's teacher:

Monday, October 11, 2010

HBC: The End and School: The Beginning

Our holiday bible club came to its closure in yesterday's afternoon service, to which we had especially invited all the children to bring their parents. We had exactly one parent attend apart from the regulars, but we praise God for that one parent who heard the gospel! She was duly descended upon after the service by a flock of eager welcomers, and if we didn't scare her off we may well see her again - or possibly her daughter and niece at the Sunday School.
Today was the big First Day of School event. Aaron was nervous, I was emotional, and Caleb was Caleb. Nick prayed for the boys before I left home with them - it made the whole school-starting thing seem so solemn and serious! We found the right classrooms and got their bags hung upon the right hooks; I said goodbye to Caleb first and he just stood there watching while Aaron and I walked away, almost as though he felt the separation as keenly as I did (though in retrospect he may have just been watching to see if I was okay!). At Aaron's classroom there was a desk waiting for him with his name on it, and then he was whisked away by a fellow pupil to be shown his shoe resting space and other such important things. I greeted his teacher and then left in a hurry...I knew both boys would be absolutely fine and probably love school, but I now finally understand how all moms feel when delivering their precious offspring over to the schooling system for the first time. Up until now I've always envied their freedom and wondered how they could mourn such an event. But I get it. There's a lot of letting go involved - a loosening of the apron strings; space given for the child to be taught by someone other than the parent and shaped by people around them rather than the parent alone. Now we pray even harder that what we have taught them thus far will stick, and that they will be the influences amongst their peers rather than the influenced. So what did I do on my first day of this long-awaited 'freedom'? After crying myself all the way to the shops and doing a spot of exchanging of goods, I had coffee with Nick at the church, then came home to clean the house. Exciting stuff for sure. Nick was home for lunch, then I scrapped in the afternoon. It wasn't long at all until the time rolled around for me to collect the boys - my beaming, bouncy, well-adjusted boys. They both had a great time and Caleb was already full of interesting information about Maoris and bumble bees. Aaron's first question was "what's for tea?"Had a phonecall during the day with feedback from Friday's interview - apparently it went well but I was again unsuccessful...on the grounds of being too expensive!! So we're back at the beginning with no prospects, but great hope that the Lord has a good plan.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Ooooh, stationery!!

I was just about to start moping that the day was feeling somewhat boring when I spotted something in the mailbox. I like to keep an eye on the post just in case something wonderful arrives in the mail...well, you never know. And there was something wonderful! Turns out I was one of 5 winners in the Warehouse scrapbook competition I entered a few months ago - I had no idea, and so the gift vouchers were a complete surprise. Went out straight away to stock up on more scrapping goodies, a corkboard, pendrive, and other needed stationery items. Since this was a lucky draw competition and I don't believe in luck, I am thankful to God for His draw!It had been a grey afternoon weather-wise, so when the skies started clearing and it looked like we might have a good sunset, we packed our camera gear and the boys into the car and drove to Centennial Park. Not a great sunset location though as it ends up being in shadow, but it still was a lovely evening. The boys thought they still had hours left in the day to play and were surprised to learn that they would be going to bed as soon as we got home - it was 8 pm after all!