Thursday, June 30, 2011

Happy homecoming!

Tuesday afternoon - Nick's return to Timaru after 14 nights in Fiji and one night in Christchurch. He caught a bus back from Christchurch so I didn't have to drive four hours in the dark, so called us when he was about 10 minutes away. I thought we'd beat him by far so stoked the fire, put on make-up, tidied my hair...and ended up getting to the bus-station several minutes after he'd arrived, leaving him standing out in the cold! We were all pleased to see him again, and presents were not long in coming out the bag - Chinese-style wooden puzzles for us, and a necklace and bracelet for me as well. It's taken me a few days to adjust to having Nick around again, as I've gotten used to my own company and being my own boss :) The rest of the week followed in its usual pattern - school, work, and lots of things needing doing. Nick tucked straight into his bible study prep, and then today started putting together a video presentation of pictures and clips about the ministry in Fiji.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Rounding off a very Kempf weekend

Had an interesting Sunday School lesson this morning as I didn't have access to my material in Luke (ahem Grant), but had a back-up plan of some activity sheets which I had been given a few weeks ago on the topic of alcohol and substance abuse. It led to a good discussion on the biblical view on drinking which I shall not elaborate on here. Grant was preaching in both services today and the messages were good, on discipleship: taking up one's cross, denying oneself and following Christ. For lunch we were invited to Shirley, along with Miriam and the boys so we were a good crowd around the table and tucked into the homegrown potatoes, kumaras, beans, tomatoes, pumpkin (I made the boys have a small piece...turns out they are not allergic like Nick is and there was no gagging and the teeth were not overly long) and pork. Pudding - homegrown raspberries in a hot sauce over ice-cream. Yum! Caleb and Aaron were happy to play with Peter and Harry, but things got even more exciting with the arrival of the Kempfs (that would be the Rene and Bron variety) with Sam and Hannah thrown into the mix. All in all a great afternoon, especially with sunshine streaming in through the windows from an almost cloudless sky. Home long enough for the boys to pick their clothes up off the floor and start writing lines (yes, on a Sunday) before heading back for the afternoon service.After church we came back home - I was knackered and the boys needed to finish their penalty lines. Got the fire going, had a variety tea, watched a few short episodes of the Penguins of Madagascar with the boys, then Nick skyped. He is doing well, has had his last meetings today and all went well. He leaves tomorrow morning for the airport and his flights home (let's hope Air New Zealand can still navigate through the ash cloud). He overnights in Christchurch tomorrow night and buses home on Tuesday. So we're nearly done!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The circus comes to town

I was up before sunrise today, which is not so impressive if you know that the sun currently rises at 8.12 am :) French toast for breakfast, mucked about, nearly ran late for Aaron's 10 am ukulele lesson - story of our Saturdays lately. Took Caleb to the optometrist to get his glasses straightened again (the frames are not very sturdy), then Rachel came at 11 and whisked both boys off to their place for the day, where they joined up with Caleb and Josh, and also Peter and Harry Lucas who were visiting. That left me home alone once more - I love it! I cleaned the house, organised Nick's drawers, did the church newsletter, had a music practice, and made another two batches of biscuits, so the little pile of vacuum-sealed 12-per-bag cookies is growing. Regarding the dough logs, a good idea is to freeze them - thanks to Kate and Genevieve who both offered the suggestion. At 5.30 I joined the boys and Miriam at the Cameron's for tea. Great to see Miriam again and catch up and have some girl talk. Rachel has healed up incredibly quickly after her riding accident last week - stitches out already, swelling down, and hardly a scab to speak of, but smiling is still tricky. After tea the four older boys wanted to do a circus show so found appropriate costumes and practiced their acts. It was really funny and Aaron, who is usually debilitatingly stage-shy, managed to get through his lines in character with some improv when he forgot the script. Well done boys! Rachel's comment was that it had been painful to watch...I thought that was a bit harsh because I thought the performance rather good, but what she actually meant was that the laughing had hurt her lip :) Matt had been practicing a piece on the piano and I had been instructed to bring my violin and mandolin. We had the Goodsirs pop in for a while too for their girls to play the piece on piano, flute and violin - quite a musical evening. We even found Rachel an instrument - iPad guitar :)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Baking 101 with Lynn

Friday, and an extensive teux-deux list to tackle. I love the sense of achievement one has in crossing the little items off one by one! Some things are mundane and take ten seconds to accomplish, but they get forgotten about if not notated. Anyway, I crossed off a whole heap of things including baking and grocery shopping and a pot of pea and ham soup. I'm trying to stockpile a bit on the baking side of things - not because I love baking but because I love stockpiling! My blog readers have often commented that I'm industrious - I'm not, really, and it's taken me a long time to get into regular biscuit making. These are things that help me:
I like to have the kitchen clean before I start, and I've limited myself to this workspace...the more space one has, the more the mess tends to spread.
My two most favourite kitchen items: electronic scale and proper beater with a good engine. The scale has been unbelievably helpful - pop a bowl on, tare it, add an ingredient, reset to zero, add another ingredient, reset to zero...makes things so easy. I've even started converting fluid amounts to grams on each recipe as I go, eg I know that half a cup of packed brown sugar = 105g. It's easier by far to spoon sticky brown sugar into a mixing bowl than it is to pack it into a cup. And butter...who can ever get the right amount of butter into a tablespoon? As for the beater - oh the bliss after having used a stick-whisk!
Recipes: This is still a work in progress, but the idea is to have all my tried-and-true recipes (comfortable recipes, like comfy old shoes) in one place for easy access. I dislike having to page through several books to try find an old favourite, or to remember which book it was in the first place! This little compilation will keep growing.
I use two mixing bowls, large and medium. The medium bowl doesn't always get used but is handy when you need to premeasure and sieve dry ingredients, or separately melt butter etc. These bowls are so convenient and take the guesswork out of 'where to begin' when you're faced with a cupboard full of clumsy tupperwares. I also have an array of measuring cups and spoons, and other than those I use a knife and a spoon.
Ingredients at the ready - I assemble everything so I know I have what I need, and so it's there when I need it. I've organized most of my dry ingredients into tupperwares like the ones on the right, and they sit neatly in my pantry. As soon as I've used something, I close it and put it back on the shelf so I minimize clutter along the way. If I'm baking a variety of biscuits in one sitting, I keep out anything I'm reusing and do a small clean-up between each batch - rinse out bowls, wipe down counters, put away anything extra.
Logs! This technique revolutionized the time it took to roll things into balls. So much easier to roll the dough into a log form (sometimes the dough is very mushy and needs to be wrapped in clingfilm before even starting to form the log), chill it and then cut slices. Looks neat too. Not all dough is suited to this technique eg things with choc-chips or oats, but even then I start with a log and slice it (no chilling) before rolling into balls, which is easier than teaspooning out individual portions for each biscuit.
Ta-da! One last thing...instead of greasing cookie sheets, I line them with baking paper or silicone mats - it's clean and healthier. Anyone for a cuppa?

PS...the boys were dressed and ready for school again today and although I didn't do a room inspection, at a glance things looked pretty good. They are definitely getting it!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

What a Teux Deux

And now for the next episode of our daily drama, "The Boys' Room": 8.00 am and the boys are not dressed. The Mother enters and reminds The Boys that there will be Consequences. 8.15 am and there is giggling...The Mother re-enters and sternly reminds the boys that she does not want to sternly remind them to get things done. The Boys nod their heads. 8.30 am and time to leave for school...The Room is spotless with not a single Offensive Garment to be seen. The Boys triumphantly exit their room, happy in the anticipation of a punishment-free afternoon upon their return home. Stay tuned for tomorrow's exciting installment!

Isaac had Part III at Agri-Business today. We thought we were doing fencing but it turned out to be animal handling again. We had to traipse through poo-filled yards to the paddocks further out in the cold and drizzle to find the sheep first of all, then round them up and herd them back into the poo-and-mud yard, where the boys had to practice drafting, tipping and checking, and drenching again. It was all rather tedious and extremely cold at about 7 degrees (if that). Nearly got squashed by charging fat ewe and had to flick a mud-clod out my hair (hope it was mud, anyway). Altogether not my favourite part of the day. Endured about two hours of that, then we went back to the classroom for the checking of assessments and some general chatting. Had to go home to change my shoes before venturing into the studio...felt considerably more comfortable in that setting :)Had some major plans for baking prep this evening but I couldn't get the potbelly going - or rather, I got it going but left it too long and the fire burned out and I couldn't relight it (or wouldn't...only had one firelighter left in the box and was scared I might need it for the lounge if that fire died!) So instead, since the cold diningroom was utterly unappealing, I just prepared veggies and diced ham to go into the slow-cooker tomorrow morning for pea and ham soup. Am hoping to do a Bakeathon tomorrow, along with several other things on my TeuxDeux list. My what, you say? Well have a lookie at their website - have just been introduced to this marvellous free web-app which will find a permanent home in my browser!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

"I must xxx and xxx and xxx"

Had a shopping day without spending anything - Isaac's mom, Chrissy, and I took Isaac clothes shopping as part of his school day (we're doing a unit on money). There was much rolling of the eyes and complaining - what teenage boy ever wants to buy underwear with his mom and teacher's aide helping? Hee hee...well I had fun anyway. At the studio, Rachel and I were in a ho-hum mood so popped out to A@quisitions for lolly jars, tongs, cute coat hooks and a magazine rack - we've done a lot of reorganizing and the gallery especially is looking amazing. Go team!! The boys inadvertently reminded me in the car on the way home from school that they had lines to write - Caleb's were "I must make my bed neatly and brush my hair", and on the back he added, "Caleb is awesome". Aaron's lines were considerably longer as less chores had been done before school, but both boys did them without complaining (whining, crying and complaining earns them extra lines). At 5 we were at Caleb's violin lesson, then it was left-overs for tea; we had to excuse ourselves from bible study as Caleb has started a cold - I doubt the study would have been heard above all the nose-blowing/trumpeting.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Let the new work/school week begin! A whole week has gone by since Nick left, and only one week to go until his return. We're coping admirably but do miss him terribly...the house is too quiet and empty without him :(

Meanwhile, in Fiji...drum-roll..."Today I get a day off; the meeting that I was due to take this evening was cancelled - harvest season for sugar cane has just started so people only get home at 7-8. Last night was good, we had the pastor’s fraternal. I was all set to preach a direct message about monergistic regeneration, but God changed my plans. Two American Mormon girls pitched up with their Mormon pastor for the meeting, so I had a chance to speak to them before the meeting and preached the Gospel from Romans 3 instead. Vijay and I are chatting for hours at a time, about all sorts of things. I have been helping him with his books - he has hundreds and they need to be re-organized. The food is good, nice and spicy which is how I like it, but the best part is that I don’t have to use a knife and fork - you eat everything with your fingers! And my feet are swollen."

And while I've learned heaps about the art of fire-making, there is still much to be learned. You'd think it would be simple, hey...but experience teaches that non-dry wood is never going to catch when you're starting a fire. Three firelighters, several charred logs and another trip to the woodshed for pinecones later, my fire finally got going. Aaron had arranged for his friend Merric to come over after school, but my condition was that his room had to be underpants lying on the floor, no bits of Lego on the floor, and especially a made bed and stowed pyjamas. By the time we left for school it was spotless with almost zero intervention from me, and so Merric came. I was impressed!! I had my second violin lesson this evening with Jemima, and am happy to report that by all appearances I have improved exponentially since a fortnight ago ;) Like I said last time, the only way to go was up after that abysmal beginning. I will be learning Ashokan Farewell which gave me goosebumps when Jemima played it for me. Hope my attempts don't make my hair stand on end.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Endurance to the end!

Had one of my famous meltdowns with the boys this morning (aka a sinful and inexcusable fit of shouting and anger)...have to formulate a plan to help them (a) have breakfast (b) brush their teeth (c) get dressed (d) make their beds (e) put their pyjamas under their pillows (f) sort out any clothing left lying on the floor without me having to daily (a) tell them the necessary steps (b) remind them five minutes later (c) remind them again and urge them to get busy (d) walk in to their room to sternly rebuke them for getting silly and still being in their pyjamas (e) start waving my arms in the air and shouting. I have to wonder if my expectations are just too high; ultimately the concern is that they simply have no focus to the task at hand and this will become a life-long trait unless addressed in the early years!! So, with pounding heart and hoarse voice I told the boys I felt like a hypocrite, put on my best Sunday face, and descended to the bowels of the church building for Sunday School. Not my favourite way to start a day. Thankfully after the service Andreas and Danielle rescued us all from each other by inviting us to lunch - one of those delightful 'bring what's in your fridge' arrangements. Danielle cooked up an amazing pasta and I had marinated chicken wings to contribute. Andreas put on his barista apron and served up his swirly pattern coffee...koeksusters, jelly and ice-cream followed, and then Andre Rieu entertained us for a while. A great afternoon, thanks Bothas! Afternoon church at 4.30, and John was filling the pulpit today with encouragement to count the cost and endure.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Visiting the Beak Lady

You never really know what's going to happen next - one wouldn't think to oneself, "today I'm going to fall off my horse"...these sorts of things tend to be more accidental. I am referring not to myself, but to Rachel - panic and prayer stations were all alerted with "Rachel's had an accident" yesterday morning. The story as Josh tells it is that Moose stumbled, Rachel was thrown off and landed face first on the ground. Rachel doesn't remember any of it so the only account is from our trusty eyewitness! She was rushed off to hospital for a full cat scan but seems to be fine after some major reconstruction with four stitches inside the lip and four stitches on the outside to piece it all together. Praise the Lord that it wasn't more serious - it could have been really REALLY bad!! This morning after Aaron's ukulele lesson (which has been shifted to Saturdays) we popped on to see how Rachy was doing - the boys were unsure about the extent of the amnesia and worried that she wouldn't remember them, so we were all relieved to see her looking bright and intact. We were under strict instructions not to make her laugh, for obvious reasons! Stayed for a cuppa and chatted - Matt and the boys were out, so Caleb and Aaron had to just listen to our yackety-yak. Back home for lunch of leftover pizza and paninis, then spent the afternoon in the waaaaarm lounge with a DVD. The sun broke through a little during the afternoon and the boys grabbed the opportunity to be outdoors, taking turns in the go-kart. Had a music practice with Bron at 5 in the really cold church, and then were back at the Camerons for tea. We've been well looked after by so many people during Nick's absence! The boys watched their own DVD after tea of sausages, wedges, crudites and dip and salad, and Rachel and I had a chick-flick. That left Matt to wander about and entertain himself and bring us popcorn and fresh fruit in bite-size pieces and take photographs. We have decided that Rachel is distinctly parrot-looking - hope you don't find the new nickname offensive buddy :)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Fiji - Day 4

Nick is doing well in Fiji - on Tuesday morning he took a 'cottage meeting', and two more on Wednesday and Thursday evening. He has needed to make use of an interpreter for some of the meetings as the older generation Indians only speak and understand Hindi. Please keep praying for him, and especially for his health as food and water is not always prepared in accordance with our westernized stomachs' tolerance levels! This is his report from today:

Well, what a day.

It started with us going to the town of Ba, to have a look around. We had tea at a local tea house, and went to the food market. I have a few photos. During that time we were asked to conduct a wedding tomorrow for a Hindu girl and a NZer. He wanted a ‘Christian’ wedding, because he had seen on a dvd how long and arduous a Hindu one is. So we went there around 3:30 to discuss the ceremony and to give some premarital counseling. The wedding is tomorrow.

So after that we went to the house of a young couple who had a baby on the day I arrived and I led a short devotion and prayer time for the baby.

Then after that we picked up some people and headed out to a young man’s house where he had invited us for a meal and to share a short devotion with the family. There were some non Christians there. We had a very good feed there, I am getting lots of curry. I couldn’t drink the pea soup it was too rich, Narsarma tells me that they use a lot of butter in it, that is probably why.

Vintage Jesus (good through the ages)

My day off today, yippee! I pottered about and got all sorts of things done, including a long time practicing violin. Fetched the boys from school, and we spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out in the diningroom together where I'd had the potbelly going all day. I started a sewing project but didn't get finished by the time we went out to collect our pizza (oh the things we get up to when Nick is away), and then we had youth group. I was nervous about doing youth on my own but it all turned out fine - Mark Driscoll (Vintage Jesus DVD series) taught us an excellent lesson on Jesus as Prophet, Priest and King, showing what happens if one fails to acknowledge Him in any of these areas like such:
Prophet + King - Priest = Fundamentalism
Prophet + Priest - King = Evangelicalism
Priest + King - Prophet = Liberalism
The last category is where 'emergent' or postmodern churches find themselves, where Jesus is perceived and preached as a big sweetheart who winks at sin and is never unpopular. Nice, but wholly incorrect. After the teaching we had popcorn and juice and several rounds of Taboo - these kids are fiercely competitive!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Beanbag and tummies filled

Briscoes Sale Day again - I've discovered that these roll around every three weeks or so, and always on a Thursday. This is when they have at least 30% discounts store-wide, with up to 60% off several items. Good time to buy more beanbag fillers! Nick and I filled the last beanbag together; this time I had to make do on my own. Oh dear though, look at the result. Managed to get 300 litres of polystyrene balls into the inner reasonably okay but really missed Nick today!! Cynthia had invited us to tea this evening, and when we arrived she had all the pudding ingredients measured out and ready for the boys to mix. They did a good job and enjoyed sneaking extra licks when I wasn't watching! Cynthia had cooked a feast of veggies, potatoes and chicken casserole which was wonderfully delicious; Aaron ate his roast pumpkin under threat of no pudding. After tea we adjourned to the lounge and the boys introduced Cynthia to Rush Hour; we also raced through the Code Cracker and proudly phoned Olive, C's sister, to announce that we had beaten her :) Very enjoyable evening all round.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Surprised to see that the temperature was up to 19 degrees today - gorgeous winter's day!! Unseasonably warm though and it changed in the afternoon to windy and overcast. Every time the house creaks and crackles with wind blasts I think it's another aftershock - I can't imagine how awful it must be for Christchurch dwellers who have had about 8,000 quakes and shocks since September. One man said 'you just get used to it'. Had bible study at the Bothas home and Danielle had made a roaring fire which warmed their living areas deliciously. John's soothing voice as he taught and the cosy fire was all too much for Aaron :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Second day of being a grass-widow (why is it called that?). Enjoyed work, both jobs...Rachel and I commended ourselves on our awesomeness at getting the gallery more organized - we rummaged around the building rubble in the partly-renovated offices next door and found some junk which we recycled into genuine vintage treasures :) Picked up the boys, got home and Nick skyped as soon as we came on-line. Great to chat with him and see how he's faring - he had had his first meeting this morning already and didn't need to make use of an interpreter. He spoke slowly and the three families present listened carefully. I think it was well received. Didn't chat too long, and then I had to get the fire going and wanted to bake something before getting started with tea. A batch of biscotti later and with a pot of tomato soup simmering on the stove, the boys and I got things ready for Liz and Graham to join us for tea: Aaron diligently wafted bacon bits around the pan and Caleb serenaded us on the organ. Great to have the Gregory's company to break an otherwise long evening - the boys really enjoy them too so they're a success all round!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Fiji...someone's got to do it!

Another chilled weekend...Friday off and Nick home doing last minute Fiji stuff; pancakes with Andreas and Danielle on Friday night (Nick had helped me peel a huge batch of apples which we stewed in a pot on the potbelly - they were ready just in time to take a dishful for pancake fillers). Bacon and egg rolls for breakfast on Saturday and more final errands, and a family movie-afternoon; cold weather on Sunday and Graham and Liz to lunch again (last to leave the church again...and they insist it's not planned). Lots of family time and lots of relaxing (and just a little bit of housework too).

Today, Monday, Nick left for Fiji. Seems that it's becoming a regular thing to leave us in winter for some mission or ministry event somewhere! Two years ago (to the day, I believe) it was Ascension for a month, last year he was in Palmerston North for a School of Theology for a week. All good though - this time he's away for two weeks to minister in the only reformed evangelical church in all the islands. He will preach several times at church and bible studies, conduct a pastor's fraternal, and generally encourage the pastor of the church. I will give feedback where possible when I have communication with him. Andreas also happened to be going to Christchurch for a flight to Auckland, and was able to give Nick a lift to the airport for which we are very grateful! Nick was due to be boarding at 12.35; at 1 pm there was a 5.5 magnitude earthquake, followed by two smaller ones before another whopping 6 at 2.20 pm. Rachel and I were in the studio which rocked severely and we were both in doorways feeling pretty terrified. Nick felt the first one strongly but thankfully his plane had taken off before the bigger one, and the airport was closed. His plane was the last to leave Christchurch today. I spoke to him when he'd landed in Auckland again; he was to be leaving NZ around 5 pm and arriving in Fiji three hours later. And thus I am now in charge of keeping the home fires burning again...this time Nick has given me better instruction so today I used one match, one firelighter, one pinecone, one piece of paper, and a few small dry logs to get my fire going. The boys were suitably impressed - last year they called me Fireman Mom because I was so good at putting it out :) Winter evenings are now very much spent together in the lounge...we've moved the Mac into the lounge for the winter as well so we can all be comfy cosy. Music practice, reading, Lego, mask-making, blogging, e-mailing, Skyping, crafting all happen in here. In summer the boys would still have been outside playing on the tramp at this time of day! The sun is rising just after 8 am these days and setting at 5 pm. Only a few more weeks before the winter solstice though and the days lengthen rapidly. Wooohooo!

Thursday, June 09, 2011


And the rest of the week continued in its usual fashion: school, work, and all the other stuff. The boys continue with their weekly violin and ukulele lessons and progress is variable - some days we see improvement and others they just plod along. I guess it depends on how much practice they put in, which also depends on how much encouragement and reminding they get to practice! Caleb is helped when I play along with him, which helps me too; Aaron also is helped when he has someone to strum along with. Nick has been preparing for his upcoming ministry trip to Fiji - he leaves on Monday and returns two weeks later. He will be visiting the only reformed Baptist church in the whole of Fiji to encourage the pastor, preach, conduct a fraternal and so on, and really just to see what the situation is with the church there so we can come alongside them as a church.

Monday, June 06, 2011

We like the Queen's Birthday

There don't seem to be many public holidays (bank holidays as they're known here) in kiwiland, so the ones that we have are much appreciated, as today's was! Nick was business as usual, preparing hard for a Wednesday night bible study that we're not having (doh). No matter, his prep will pay off later unless he forgets what he's read! The boys and I were home most of the day; they had Jayden run over (literally - it's good cross-country training) to play for a while, and then spent the rest of the day playing imagination games using bits of dismantled transformers and bionicles as new characters. I pottered, read, cleaned and otherwise occupied myself very happily. Had my first official violin lesson this evening in which I played dismally; I can only get better from here!