Friday, December 30, 2011

The week between

Have been loving being a housewife again during the holidays - sorting cupboards, cleaning the fridge, baking, gardening - all good and in preparation for my parents' arrival next week.  Spent a couple of hours at the school this morning to keep things ticking over.  The boys have been reading, riding their bikes, playing with water guns and balloons, bickering, drawing, cleaning their room, washing the car...all sorts of things to keep busy.  The weather has been a bit up and down, but they take advantage of sunshine and clear skies when they can. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Romances

The boys wanted some company today, so organized for Caleb and Josh to come by after lunch.  Had the four boys here for the early afternoon, then we met up with Matt and Rachel and Carl and Miriam and their boys, here for a Christmas break, at the Bay where the annual Carnival is now in full swing.  The Camerons took the boys home with them late afternoon, and Nick and I headed over to their place a bit later for tea and a movie.  Had a super chilled time together - we should really do this again!  Internet Anagram Server provided some fun...Nicholas Clevely rearranged is 'Holy Cancels Evil'.  Less fortunate Miriam became Airmail Scum and Rachel is now Armhole Cancer :)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Home sweet home

Treated the boys to Tintin at a cinema yesterday - it's been years since they've watched a big screen movie, and if ever there was one that is fantastic on a BIG screen, it's Tintin!!  We thoroughly loved it; the animation is incredible and the action sequences pretty exciting.  Drove around looking for fish and chips for lunch but couldn't find a shop that was open (it was Boxing Day after all), so settled for KFC. 

Last day in Auckland today - I think we were all ready to be back in Timaru.  Auckland is an interesting city; being here was like being in another country to our quiet home town.  We're unused to crowds and bustle and traffic and too many choices and streets almost exclusively comprised of Asian shops with incomprehensible names.  A huge thanks again to Ken and Joy for the use of their gorgeous home while they were away!  Enjoyed the flight back to Christchurch - glad that everything was functional and intact after the latest earthquakes last week, a day after our being there.  Had a cup of tea with Peter and Michelle before the two hour drive back home. 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Just us for Christmas

Christmas Day - a day to reflect on Jesus' incarnation, ministry and mission, in becoming our Saviour through His death on the cross to atone for our sins.  Thank you wonderful Lord!  First thing (only thing actually) on the day's plan was to attend Shore Baptist Church, which is one of the churches in the Fellowship of Reformed Baptist Churches of New Zealand (FRBCNZ) of which MRBC is a member.  This entailed a 40 minute drive and a crossing of seas on the Auckland Harbour Bridge to get to the school hall which houses the congregation.  Great to meet some new brothers and sisters and have Nick sitting next to me during a service!  Back home for a barbeque complete with Coca Cola for our Christmas lunch, then just a very relaxed afternoon followed; the boys loved their new water slide! 
Took a drive early evening to the Eastern Beach, but realized (obviously) that the view would be better on the western side; drove 1 km across the 'finger' to Bucklands Beach and enjoyed a beautiful sunset.  There are some really swish houses around here with huge decks and levels built to take advantage of the view.  Nice.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Duck, duck, goose

Felt the urge to do something FREE today (Auckland seems designed to extract money from unwary tourists), so went for a wander around Western Springs Park which boasts a spring-fed lake and a huge quantity of ducks, geese, swans, pukekos (blue marsh bird things) and orea (eels).  The land walkers were wonderfully tame, and the orea are accustomed to taking bread from visitors.  It was another beautiful day for the outdoors (they say it rains a lot in Auckland; we have yet to experience that).  The Zoo borders directly on the park with the rear of the lion cage being in close proximity; we didn't know this until we heard an unbelievably loud roar which we thought might be a zoo prank of playing back a super-loud recording of a lion in the wild - but no, this was the real thing!  Wouldn't like to encounter that if I were a zebra.  Or as a Lynn if I were not in a zoo or driving through a game park in car!  The black swan in one of the pics below wasn't after our bread - he just wanted to be part of the action and see what we were doing. 
Joined the throngs doing their last-minute Christmas shopping at Sylvia Park but it was so crowded that it was hard to think let alone make informed shopping decisions.  Came home empty handed.  Ordered Dominoes for our Christmas Eve dinner which we enjoyed on the deck at 'home' overlooking Western Auckland.  Watched Star Wars after opening pressies.

Friday, December 23, 2011

High, soaring above

Day 2 of Auckland: Decided to visit Sky Tower and see what the fuss was all about - at 328m high it is New Zealand's highest man-made structure.  You can see quite a lot of Auckland from it - 80 kms in all directions!  First though we stopped in a the gift shop and museum-thingie which featured somewhat life-like characters from fantasy movies which the boys thought were pretty cool. 
Didn't dilly-dally too long around there though, wanting to get up high.  The elevator whooshes heavenward at 18 km/h.  I was clinging to the handrail which wasn't too helpful but neither were the bent knees and pigeon-toes - I'm not a huge fan of ridiculously high heights.  Nick and the boys were all over the place, not even mind the gaps in the floor where nothing but 38mm thick glass keeps one standing. 
Wow  Auckland is BIG - no doubt about it.
Saw these crazy people doing a Sky Walk; a full body harness and overhead lines kept them in place but still...
But worse was the Sky Jump - people actually launch themselves off the edge of the Sky Tower and get let down rapidly by rope to a platform just above ground level.  It's madness, I tell you.
Phew!  Glad to be at 0m again.  Wandered about down-town to the Viaduct area, found a spot for lunch.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Auckland via Ashburton and Christchurch

Left home around 11 am headed for Christchurch with a packed lunch; stopped in Ashburton for a picnic in the Botanical Gardens there.  This was a first for us although we've driven past it many times.  It was super!  A shallow pond attracts ducks and birds; the ancient trees were staggeringly tall.  The four of us together couldn't get our arms around its circumference.  Arrived Chch around 2 pm; Nick and the boys went off to the Airforce Museum leaving me at a mall (Timaru doesn't have shopping malls).  Met up again after an hour or so, found some rolls and things at a PaknSave and had an early tea seated on a bench in the middle of The Hub - feeling like total southerners amid the sea of faces and crowds of women dressed badly in too-short skirts and too-high heels.  Eventually got ourselves to Peter and Michelle who kindly babysat our car and lifted us to the airport; the flight was uneventful, we landed, were met by our booked shuttle driver and ferried to Bucklands Beach, where we finally got to bed around 10.30 somewhat tired!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Early Christmas!

Today was the day for retrieving the boys' Christmas presents from the church where we'd been secretly stowing them for the past week or two...they were too big to hide away here, and certainly too big to fit in a suitcase to take to Auckland where we'll be spending Christmas!  Caleb and Aaron never even came close to guessing what we'd be giving them - what a fun surprise!  Thanks to the boys' grandparents on both sides too, these bikes-in-a-box were a joint gift.  They will be very well used and are much appreciated!  Nick helped them with the basic assembly and in no time they were up and ready to ride. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Then there were two

The boys are enjoying the opportunity to sleep in during the holidays, only rolling out of their rooms after 8 am despite the 5.45 am sunrise (not that we could tell that the sun had risen this morning, with yet another cold, grey day at the start).  Nick left early to start on a day of chopping wood and was gone all day until about 5.30, leaving me and the boys to fill in the day.  The boys were on room-cleanup duty during the morning and really stretched it out, getting thoroughly distracted at every turn.  No matter, it kept them occupied.  I bustled around the house, tidying up, ironing, folding washing, washing dishes etc - great to get stuck into some housework.  Around lunch time one of Caleb's friends phoned to tell him to bring a change of clothing to his birthday party.  Yikes!  We had totally forgotten.  Had to phone to organize a lift for him but he got there no problem, leaving just me and Aaron for the afternoon.  Poor Aaron missed his brother terribly despite us playing a few rounds of Rummikub and me serenading his tender ears with La Cumparsita.  He was thrilled when Nick came home with a trailer load of bluegum and he could help offload, and a short while later when Caleb was dropped back off home with some loot and stories to tell.  The sun came out during the afternoon; let's hope it stays that way tomorrow!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The bait still not so tempting

Nick has come to the end of his Acts series now - he preached it on St Helena, and now, nearly two years since leaving the island, has finished it again.  I think the second time through was way better!  Today he preached from Psalm 29, a stirring sermon on God's glory and giving Him His due.  I'd never heard that Psalm preached in that way - painting a sermon with a lightning storm widely splashed on the canvas!  Our God is great and powerful and glorious.   Met up with Andreas and Danielle at Caroline Bay for a picnic lunch, after donning winter coats and beanies.  It was so cold outside, really not the day for outdoor activities but enjoyable nonetheless especially with cups of hot Chai and marshmallows provided by Danielle. 
The afternoon service was our traditional pre-Christmas carols service interspersed with readings, followed by Nick's message on 'an antidote to worldliness' - very apt for this time of year.  To round off the social weekend and to celebrate with Graham, we headed over to the Gregorys for fish and chips and a kiwi delicacy of whitebait patties.  Let me tell you about whitebait - they are little teeny tiny fishies (actually a collective term for immature fish fry) which are sold at a hideously high price to all who consider them a treat.  You don't fillet or dehead them, being far too small for such nonsense - they just get slooshed into a batter if you're making patties and stirred in so their slimy little bodies get a good coating.  Into the pan goes a spoonful and out comes a pancake with now-white fishes dotted about, their pale translucent bodies having been transformed, and their lifeless black eyes still very evident.  I've been offered such things at school before by at least two staff members (indeed, half a fritter appeared outside our door one evening - it got as far as the kitchen bench and stayed there an entire day and a half while I carefully avoided it).  Graham, Liz and Bronwyn all thought it a good gag to eat a raw one (and gag they nearly did); I succumbed to a nibble of a patty but a crunchy bit totally threw me.  Oooph!  Fish stories aside, it was another fun evening with much silly laughter and loud singing in the kitchen over dish towels and wet plates. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

40 x 2 =

Had two 40ths to attend this evening (our friends are getting old). The first was Matt's M party at their house, which meant we had to dress up as something beginning with M...Nick was a Musician (that was a no-brainer for someone who doesn't do fancy dress - he just had to take his harmonica-holder along); I was a Manga character (Japanese anime); Caleb was a Mugger (complete with balaclava, sunglasses and mini baseball bat) and Aaron was a Mad Scientist with an apron and fake nose and glasses. There was an interesting array of Ms in attendance, most notably by Bronwyn who was Miss Pippi-Longstockings! Matt and Rachel have a host of really great friends and family as evidenced in the houseful of happy, chatty people.
We left shortly before 8 to get to the next 40th, which was Graham's party held in Liz's shop in town - no time to get home in between for a change of outfit so looked somewhat out of place in a roomful of elegantly attired adults. Again, another gathering of really great people, several of whom were strangers to us. Liz had brainstormed a quiz as the post-meal fun; it was hilarious and extremely well thought-out. Happy birthday to our two mid-life buddies!