Saturday, June 29, 2013

Shocking frockster

Nick left with Andreas well before sunrise this morning for a day in Christchurch to attend the Roving Classroom where Rob Harrod delivered an excellent summary of John Calvin's work on the necessity of reforming the church.  Nick really enjoyed the fellowship and teaching.  I accidentally got up at nearly 8.30, not realizing how late it had gotten!  Kind of a waste of daylight hours (or minutes in this case as the sun rose at 8.12) when there is much to be done on a Saturday.  Not interesting stuff, mind you - blogging, housework, music practice, and a spot of shopping with the boys.  Caleb and Aaron are getting better and better at productivity in the house and their help is much appreciated.  Of course it is also expected as they need to earn their pocket money, but I never take the extra hands for granted. 
I am entering a sewing competition which Joan stumbled across and thought I might like - lately this sort of project is right up my alley.  Frock Stars offers frumpy vintage dresses a chance at a make-over - they can be remade into anything wearable or not, usable or otherwise.  I received my frock in the mail yesterday and it certainly is, er...quite old-fashioned.  I'm looking forward to resculpting it into something. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Mid-Winter Cheer

Two and a half months of weekly rehearsals and daily practice culminated in our "Youth Orchestra South Canterbury" concert tonight, combined with the Timaru District Choir. I had tried so hard not to be nervous but in the end I just couldn't help it. Fortunately the nerves didn't give me a quivery bowing arm, but a few tricky bits in a couple of pieces that I had only just managed to get to a barely-playable level were my stumbling blocks. Never mind though - one learns in an orchestral performance that if one keeps the bow arm moving and the fingers fingering, without making actual contact, then you can fake it quite adequately ;)  For the most part it was a really enjoyable experience and a huge learning curve.  I've enjoyed my time with the orchestra immensely.  Sadly that will likely be the end of it for me, at least for now, as Fridays need to revert back to family time and the next concert happens to coincide with my parents' arrival from SA - I think I would prefer to spend the evening with them at home!
There I am, hiding in the back row of the first violins section.  Great shot of Jemima, below.
The choir pieces made up the greater part of the evening, to the boys' horror - they did very well for sitting through a two-hour concert.
During our final section, orchestra members were encouraged to dress up in Christmas themed stuff to go with Sleigh Ride, Santa's Classical Christmas, and Silent Night. I preferred to say as inconspicuous as possible :)
I've uploaded a portion of our William Tell Overture to YouTube, which can be viewed by clicking here.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Finding fossils (I don't mean grandparents)

Timaru was blessed to have international speaker and creation scientist John Mackay visit for a few days. John led a group of school students and homeschoolers and other interested parties, including our Year 5-8s, on a fossil hunt about half an hour out of town. Nick went along as a parent helper so all these images are his...he could probably say more about what happened but mostly the pictures are self-evident. It was great for the kids to understand that fossils were not created over billions of years, but rather from a quick dumping of mud and debris over them - there is so much evidence that points to the historical truth of the Flood. He pointed out how some clams will open shortly after they die, but these clams have fossilized in a closed state, indicating a sudden death and burial.
Above: that's Aaron to the right, in the red jacket.
Above: John talks about the finding he is holding; below: Caleb found the day a little frustrating as his casted arm prevented him from doing much (he is very mobile with his arm, but the strip of plaster between his thumb and forefinger is very rough and makes holding stuff uncomfortable).  Added to that, he lost all the equipment he had taken - hammer, sieve, screwdriver, plus all the fossils he found.
Mrs Thompson and Mr Goulet (below) had a tough run-around at some points keeping kids from being enveloped in whirlpools and sinkholes :)
A beautiful setting and clear skies made a great day out!
Following the hunt, we attended John's evening talk held at Mountainview High School on Darwin and Dawkins and evidence that disputes their claims on 'non-intelligent design' or evolution. We found it to be a thoroughly well-presented and researched lecture and derived much benefit.  We were impressed with MRBC's turnout - we made up about 25 of the total number!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Oldies and newbies

Les and Marg...such a special couple in our congregation. We were pleased to have them back in our midst after their five weeks holidaying on the little island to the west of us.  They will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary next weekend!  We took a packet of bacon to the Bothas home for an informal Sunday lunch of soup and rolls with the Bothas and Niewoudts.  Great way to spend an afternoon :)
We had a few new faces join us on Sunday evening at church - a family of five and a young single fellow.  They have recently moved from the West Coast and have a very interesting history, although this is probably not going to be the forum to share it!  After church and some fellowshipping with various folk, we joined them for a finger supper/tea at the Kempfs where we could bombard them with many questions and get to know them a little.  Bron is always such a great hostess - if there is ever any fluster or panic at being landed with a spontaneous houseful, it's always well hidden from guests!

Friday, June 21, 2013

It's snowing somewhere in the world I'm sure

I think we are, as a nation, collectively glad that today is the shortest day of the year - given the weather!  It was good that the day ended sooner rather than later ;)  The forecasted snows didn't materialize for most of the south island, but it has been a hot topic of debate over the week (hmm, maybe all that heat melted the snow).  Anyhow, we got a fair sprinkling of sleet which I can now identity as miniature hail, and in fact we did have some snow - huge wet flakes hurtling down to land in a wet pile on the sodden ground.  It wasn't the right kind of snow to stick or settle though, so unless you had been looking out of the window you would never have known it had happened.  All in all, it's been miserable, cold, gloomy and wet.  We optimistically cling to the hope that Metservice has it right this time for a few sunny days next week.
Above: about the extent of any settled snow we could see, although the mountains in the distance are looking spectacular.  Meanwhile, my own lake reappeared within about an hour of the precipitation starting.  It's quite draining to keep wondering whether it's going to seep indoors ~~
Fonterra now supplies all our Year 1-6 students with a free box of milk each day.  We celebrated a week of 'milk in school' by dressing up in anything milk-themed - easiest to pull off was a farm-hand or truck driver, but we had a few cows, some white-clad milks, and even a bit of grass!  Good effort from the kids. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Clouds have golden linings

After 35.8 mm of rain yesterday and some flooding in outlying areas, we sure were happy to see the sun today!  Not only was it sunny, but it was warm too - no frost this morning, so the temperature rises quicker in the morning.  It was glorious!  We're in for some really nasty weather later this week with more rain tomorrow, then heavy snow forecast for Thursday and Friday, with highs of 5 degrees.  Timaru normally misses the really good stuff, but we might "lucky".  Apparently it's going to be the heaviest snow that NZ has had in 20 years!  A few years ago it snowed hard in Timaru and there were power people are starting to get a bit panicky.  I don't normally grocery shop on Tuesdays, what with my violin lesson and then an oboe lesson for Aaron, but I squashed in a quick half hour between events to stock up on necessities.  Who wants to run out of toilet paper when you're stuck at home in bad weather?!
Aaron did fabulously well at oboe today - possibly because he didn't have time to practice directly before his lesson his lips were fresh (the muscles get tired quickly), so Good King Wenceslas made an appearance in tune and on time. 
I had hoped to snap a few photos of today's blue skies, mostly as a reminder to myself in days to come that the sun will shine again, and indeed, is still shining above the clouds (I often use this to remind myself of God's presence - even when we don't feel it, we know that He never leaves us!), but got out shortly before sunset when the blue was already fading and the clouds were starting to come in.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

All indoors

Rainy, rainy weekend...Nick spent most of Saturday helping one of our church guys out with something; the boys and I cleaned the house fairly thoroughly before meeting up with Danielle in town for a quick spot of shopping and coffee.  It was all fairly torturous for (and with) the boys - quite honestly though, I can understand how pointless it is for them to be left in the toy section at Farmers with the promise of "you can't buy anything".  Yay Mom, let's look at all the stuff we can't have.  Thanks.  I bought them coffee which I thought would be a treat.  Caleb simply didn't drink his at all as it turns out he really doesn't like the stuff, and Aaron buzzed for all of two minutes before crashing.  In the end, they each got a pair of fluffy blue bedsocks :)

Saturday night was another musical movie evening at the Gregorys, but despite our best efforts and many texts, none of the other invitees came along.  No matter though, we find Graham and Liz to be excellent company on their own!  Next time I might bring along my dressing gown and join Liz in pink-clad coziness.

Sunday (Rainday): A fabulous and encouraging message from Romans on Law and Grace in the morning, and two of the five "Love Languages" in the evening, with plenty of personal illustrations to make things memorable :)  Between services we pulled in at Liz's shop for table tennis (good old Donkey with lots of running around to get warm), and then played another game of Bang, this time with perhaps 5% less questions but still a lot of confusion.  It's all becoming as clear as mud now.
Funny faced friends and family who braved the Tokina and got shot at point blank range...

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Dinner and dance

We've finished yet another set of swing classes, so it was time for a social. This was a biggie - we all arranged to have tea at the RSA (Returning Services Association) club before the dance itself, and the occasion was a dress-up event as we were anticipating a reporter from the Herald coming along to take photos, to raise awareness and promote the competition some of our groups are entering which will be held in Christchurch next month. The reporter didn't arrive!  Rene's band, MLC, was the live entertainment for the evening and they are really top quality - fabulous music for the swing-outs we've been polishing. 
The next set starts next week and Liz and I will be taking a solo charleston class, followed by another swing-out class which Graham and Nick will come along for.  We are proud of our husbands' commitment to the cause ;)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

I'll huff and I'll puff

With the winter solstice rapidly approaching, the days are nearly at their shortest. I actually look forward to June 21st, because even though we're not nearly mid-winter at that point, we just seem to turn a corner with the days lengthening which makes winter more tolerable. We can expect an 8.15 sunrise and a 5 pm sunset before we gradually head towards our 10 pm summer sunsets! 
With the long evenings indoors, the boys are finding creative ways to keep busy.  Card houses are the latest novelty, but their Kindles are probably the best used devices.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

The best kind of lunch

Have enjoyed a very people-fulled weekend; an awesome visit with the lovely and talented Viv Laursen yesterday with much occasion to gasp at her cleverness and creativity (and to be fair, Marc's DIY skills), and then a houseful this afternoon.  We had no particular lunch plans but I popped a chicken and potatoes in the oven before church, just in case.  Good thing - we had a gathering of nine around the table!  Ideal guests are the ones who offer to go home ahead of you when you have to stay at church for a quick members' meeting, so they can carry on preparing.  Really?  Really.  And they even have their own method for cooking rice which doesn't mess up your stove.  By the time we got home from the meeting and then giving a ride home to a first-time visitor, we had veggies steaming, another chicken bought and ready, rice cooked, rolls on the table, juice provided, airing washing relocated to less obvious places, and the table nearly set.  Thanks to Justus, Liz, Graham, Royce and Tom for an awesome afternoon and 'all hands in' preparation of a yummy Sunday roast!!  Most guests left soon after lunch with big plans for using the afternoon sunshine, but Justus stayed and so did his violin.  How convenient :)  Good opportunity to find out that this Bach concerto is not as complicated as it sounds - my next piece to work through with Rosemary in my weekly lesson!
Nick is doing a topical deviation from the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith with a mini-series on marriage.  It's been fantastic and very helpful.  Of course, being married to the person preaching about marriage can be tricky, but Nick is good at applying his own teaching and using the tools in his 'pastor's toolkit' (you can listen to the sermon on-line on Marchwiel's website (link to the right) for more.  After church (yeah I know, it was a full-on weekend) we had a few people gather for a practice of a song we'd like to record, and then, to finish off the weekend, we invited ourselves to the Frank home for Sunday-night-cake.  I admit that I had very little to add to the conversation and did wonder how everyone else found such clever things to say - I am not politically minded at all!

Friday, June 07, 2013

How's your hongi?

We had the Young Leaders from Hillview Christian College in Christchurch visiting with us today - this means that the teachers had a break from classes while the young leaders took over the day with games and activities. I was the official photographer for the of the perks of my job is that I get to see what the boys are up to :)
Mr Goulet was the official welcomer from our school, and had to stand up and give the opening address in Maori.  Caleb and Aaron are both on the student leadership council so got to sit up front and participate in the "Hongi" - the Maori greeting of touching noses.  Awfully embarrassing no matter what age you are, but both squads pulled it off without giggling (although Aaron confessed to accidentally head-butting someone).  
Then all students broke into year groups and went off to different places with the Young Leaders - here Aaron is in a basketball group...
...and Caleb sat idly by while the art group produced some interesting blow-paint and potato-stamp pieces.  Caleb had been strictly forbidden from playing with paint, apart from that his right hand is not much good for holding a brush as there is so much cast between his thumb and forefinger. 
He participated where he could though - 'everybody in' tag and touch rugby were great for him.
After pizza lunch for the leaders and staff, we had a closing assembly and wrap-up.  A great day and well-organized by Hillview. 

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Caleb loves Mummy

Caleb had another appointment with the orthopedic surgeon today - a follow-up from the procedure last week. When the school left to go for their weekly swimming lesson he came and sat in my office to wait until it was time to go. It's a bit of a distraction having another person sitting in your office, even if they're sitting quietly on the floor and not asking questions.  He's quite fun company.  We thought the plaster cast would come off today and be replaced by another lighter one like he had on last week, so I liberally decorated this one in the most ridiculous way - on the other side is a big heart with "Mum Rulz" boldly displayed.  Too bad that we found out when we met with the surgeon that although the procedure had been successful (x-rays today confirmed that the dislocated bone has remained in position), there was no way they would be touching this cast, in case anything moved.  Ha ha...Caleb's stuck with it this way.  I was glad that I hadn't been present in the theatre last Friday, or even anywhere near the glass doors, when the doc explained what they had needed to do - ten minutes of hard pulling just to get the muscles to loosen up sounded bad enough.  Very relieved that all seems well though, and now we just wait a few weeks for the bones to knit.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Bang? Bang!

It was my birthday yesterday; to celebrate I spent the morning in the school with Caleb for company while everyone went to cross country, and the afternoon at the hospital with Caleb.  Heh heh.  Well, that was the bulk of the day, but actually we had Chinese for tea and watched DVDs (no orchestra practice because of it being the Queen's Birthday weekend).  On Saturday night we had the real celebration at the Gregory's house by way of fish and chips and Les Miserables, along with the Bothas, Laursens and Justus.  It was a good birthday filled with laughter, music, presents, chocolate and fun :)

Sunday we had excellent services and fellowship lunch.  After the pm service we landed back at the Gregorys, since Monday was a holiday and we didn't want to have an early night!  Liz introduced us to egg-toasties - how very clever to crack a raw egg over the bread sprinkled with grated cheese; the top layer of bread is added and the egg cooks in the toasting device.  Not as effective on our George Foreman as the layers are squashed flat - you ideally want a jaffa-maker or shaped toaster.  Justus arrived a bit later with a few board games.  We settled on "Bang!" which the boys have tried to explain before; I can see why their explanations didn't endear us to the game.  It is so very complicated and one must think carefully about so many things in so many directions, but ultimately once Justus had explained all the myriad rules, we got the hang of it and finally understand what the boys were going on about!