Friday, 31 July 2009

Life is becoming more and more enjoyable

The following referendum has been a long time coming and I will be interested to find out what happens. As much as public opinion warrants being counted, I'm quite sure there will be many in our population who will either flag participating (even though you don't need to queue at voting polls!!! you simply tick, fold up and return in prepaid envelope ... all from the comfort of your own home!!! ... how much simpler do people need things to be?!); or they may even be afraid to show their opinion for fear of being counted one way or t'other! As for me, I have already ticked my chosen box and have popped it in the mail box ready to have it counted.
Should it be a criminal offence to smack a child?
You decide, New Zealand!

Okay, the following photo will seem dull to many, but for me, it marks a turning point in our lives. I'm not aiming for an artistic shot; I'm simply excited to share we have fruit on our table. After a week's grocery shop, I still have fruit on our table. Not only that but our fridge is still amply suffice and my cupboards are actually ... well .... stocked!?!

As a family, we have had to sacrifice a lot more than most. I do not say that with spite or as a need to justify our humble methods of living for the past number of years. Those who know me, know that I have taken the knocks on the chin and lived by my motto: "just get on with things", but one area I have looked forward to rectifying is our food stock - or lack thereof to be specific.

Now, funnily enough, reality would tell you that we're actually not all that further ahead financially. However, sticking to a budget and managing all of our needs -v- our wants, has finally made a difference. For the past three weeks I have been able to (a) drive to the supermarket without relying on whaiāipo stopping on the way home on a daily basis ... because I have a warranted and registered vehicle!!!; (b) I have been able to extend the amount to spend by at least $50 per week .... which is huge!!!!!; and (c) I can re-introduce the children to foods and flavours they have forgotten.

To have reached this point in our lives, I am eternally grateful to whaiāipo. He has not only put in hideous hours working day-in and day-out providing for his family, but he would always ring on his way home (whether it be 6, 7 or 8 pm) to ask what we needed. So yes, our meals were held at flexible hours and over the course of time, (due to monetary constraints) our meals became more and more dull (to me at least). So much so, that I am saddened to think the older children do not remember many of the meals we used to enjoy. However, it simply provides a challenge to rekindle their tastebuds, nē rā?

My eldest brother has been back in New Zealand for the past three weeks and I have caught up with him and his family at least once a week during that time. Yvonne's family reside in Auckland, so it's always tricky for them to get around everybody as well as fit in some of the things they want to do while they're home. So although I only manage to see them for a matter of hours all-up, I am always delighted to see them.

Actually, although I haven't physically seen my brother for two and a half years, when we get together it's like he's still living in Auckland. And that's the beauty of Skype. We stay in contact so much and when I'm online talking with all my brothers at once, it's like they're all home and we laugh and carry on for hours on end ... for nowt!!!! Isn't that just the most wickedest thing?! Blimey, I can remember living in a period when we would watch for the cheapest deals to ring nationally and overseas ... and even then, of course, you could only speak one person at a time because the likes of a speaker phone didn't exist. Yowza! You'd be lucky if you got a good line half the time and of course, you had to be sure they'd be home at the other end eh?! Wow, it just goes to show how things change quickly in anyone's lifetime.

So like I say, I've enjoyed catching up with my big brother. I miss him immensely and envy his life. I've always been proud of him and always look to him for advice. He has a pragmatic way of looking at things. Clear cut, logical, precise. I never doubt what he says ... ever! That's one of the great things I love about him. You can rely on him being right. As frustrating as that can be, it's also a blessing for me. I wish we could live closer than we do, but with Skype, the distance is made just that little bit less eh?!

I think I'll leave this post at this point and try to compose an update about school shortly.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Can't wait for e-day

I have been waiting for this year's e-day for what feels like forever. Our computers, printers, laptops, screens etc have been building up gathering dust and simply taking up room.

These photos show the tip of the ice-berg. I have yet to pull the laptop and a few old printers out of cupboards, but figure they can wait till closer to the date.

Here's a quick outline of where and when to drop off in Rotorua:

eDay drop-off:

The former Challenge Petrol Station
Te Ngae Road

Date and Time:

Saturday 12 September 2009, 9am-3pm
For your area's drop-off point, simply follow this link.
Or, if you want a list of what you can and cannot drop off then follow this link.

I am so glad e-day exists. I can remember (not so many) years ago, phoning different companies to ask where I could dispose of my computer. Nobody could tell me of anything other than the landfill. I was absolutely disgusted at the thought of disposing of it in this way. After browsing the e-day website, I find it encouraging to learn:

"How much will be diverted from landfill?

On average, over 95% of the materials collected on eDay will be diverted from landfills. Your old equipment will no longer be sitting around your house gathering dust, nor will it be lying in a landfill posing a threat to the environment. Instead it will be turned into other products that can be used before being recycled again. And so the cycle continues..."
So, if you have any old computers, laptops etc OR you know of someone who does, then please find out where and when it is happening in your area and make use of e-day.

Be a tidy Kiwi

Thanks for day
ka kite ano

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Things that have made my days a little easier recently

I couldn't help but be excited to share the following 'luxury' item. Please excuse the crumbs as I had literally just taken the toast out of the toaster(s) when I couldn't resist taking a photograph to acknowledge our latest appliance purchase ... the four-slice toaster!
It may seem odd to admit that I love a toaster!!! but it's absolutely true. I am now able to have six slices of toast ready to spread with the children's choices within minutes. Tamāhine 2 has been the main reason I purchased the four-slice toaster. For some weeks now she has sat at the breakfast bench wanting more and more toast. Although the bigger kids will have cereal, they also like a couple of slices of toast. It became very monotonous and slow-going to walk back and forth making two slices at a time, so I decided it was time our growing family had an appliance to help make life just that little bit easier.

I also decided to utilise my crock-pot recently. I tend to only use it for soups but having Auriel tell me she prepares the majority of her meals in her crock-pot/slow-cooker (what's the difference?!), I figured maybe I'd give it a shot. So, I attempted devilled sausages. You may notice I've placed peaches in there. I decided to use them instead of apples. I used a 410g can with its juice. I threw in whatever vegies I had on tap, plus I made sure I fried the sausages then the onions which I'm glad I did because I was so jolly late to get the meal organised I had it cooking on high for less than four years ... instead of the intended eight hours.
I have a pumpkin soup in the crock-pot at the moment. I had every intention of trying my corned beef in there but with the gas hobs, I find it really easy to simply have it simmering away over the gas - but I'd like to try it in the crock-pot all the same.

If you have any favourite recipes you would like to share, then please do. Although I'm not the greatest cook, I do like attempting different things and the crock-pot has been a wonderful kitchen tool that I haven't utilised nearly enough.

Now that we have returned to school there has been a certain tool I have wanted for a very long time and at last I bit the bullet and purchased this great little pencil sharpener by Faber-Castell. I purchased this one from our local Warehouse Stationery store. Not the cheapest stationery item by any stretch of the imagination, but I have grown increasingly fed up with using cheap pencil sharpeners which keep snapping the ends off each time I'm trying to sharpen.

You might well ask: is it because we have used cheap sharpeners? Or is it because we have used cheap pencils? Well, it's not because of cheap pencils ... I learned a valuable lesson some years ago that cheap pencils are not a good investment!!! They ended up as kindling in the fire, hee hee. So it must be the cheap pencil sharpeners we've had. I'll keep them as spares, but I can testify that since using my new rastafarian-coloured Faber-Castell pencil sharpener, I'm a very happy homeschooling mum. I'm not continually sharpening nor complaining about the 'piece of junk'. Okay, so the colours aren't specifically rasta colours, but they remind me of them nonetheless. Considering this was the only brand and colour available at the time I went looking, I can't be fussy. At least being colourful it stands out wherever it may be.
Yes, they do come with a vice to clamp onto desks etc, but I'm not able to use it because little hands keep making a bee-line for it and are cunning enough to pull it off.

Another appliance for the kitchen which I agree with Auriel about is the rice cooker. Another wonderful time-saving, easy-to-set-and-forget type of appliance.

One appliance I haven't used in a long time ( simply because buying loaves of bread is cheaper to buy than making it nowadays) and that's my breadmaker. I really ought to brush off the dust and use it again...

So, these are just a few items in our home that I am enjoying of late.

What makes life easier for you?

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Monday, 27 July 2009

It's back!

Monday 27 July 2009

Dear Parent and Eggsplorers
If you are enjoying ABC Reading Eggs we would love it if you told your friends, with kids in the 3-8 age groups, about the program and the second annual ABC Reading Eggs Great Literacy Challenge. The challenge commences on 27 July 2009 and provides your friends and family free access to the ABC Reading Eggs website for up to 5 weeks!
As our valued members we would like your help in meeting our goal of getting at least 20,000 Australian children started on their journey to becoming great readers. For each new unique user who registers on the site by the 24th of August, using the code below, Pascal Press will donate $1 to the Children's Cancer Institute Australia.

The Institute has a fantastic record in doing research that has led to a lot more children surviving their fight with cancer. So not only will your friends and family thank you for helping their kids improve their reading, at no cost until August 31, but you will also be helping a great cause.
Just forward this email on to your friends or tell them to go to and use the code DON58ATE to get their free access and we will make the $1 donation.

Let's see if we can get the total donation up to $20,000 by 24 August 2009!
Happy Eggsploring!

Yours sincerely

Matthew Sandblom
Chief Executive Officer

Monday, 20 July 2009

Term Three Commencement Date Delayed

School was meant to get underway properly today, but I made it a "Teacher's Day" instead. I'm trying to tidy up a little more from our weekend of carpet-laying upstairs you see, and if there's one thing that you can always count on, it's having a pile of laundry to play catch-up with because you decided to start an all-weekend task. I have such a mountain of laundry to get through it's hardly funny.

Because whaiāipo had a totally free weekend to spend with us, I asked if we could finally tackle the upstairs carpet. We've managed to complete over 75%, no make that 85% of the floor, with just our master bedroom left for this weekend.

[Okay, so we haven't finished gibbing, let alone painted or wallpapered or a few other things on a rather extensive list, but look, we've had the carpet for a few months now and it was driving me slightly nuts that it was there but not being used. With the sheer weight involved with some of the carpet, I couldn't move it on my own and having had a couple of frights with the pregnancy already, I have had to leave the carpet until whaiāipo was available.]

So, yay! We have achieved the bulk of the goal and it's like a totally different upstairs. If the carpet can transform it this much, I can hardly wait till the end of 2010 when we can afford to paint etc etc. In the meantime, I am grateful for the carpet whaiāipo found for his family. Walking on carpet instead of chip-floorboards is simply delicious!

The boys are now in a room of their own and the girls are now in a room of their own. Tama 1 misses tamāhine 1 and vice-versa, but by the same token tamāhine 1 enjoys having a room to make as girly as she can (within extremely limited means I hasten to add). I would desperately love to paint the children's rooms to help them feel ownership of their areas, but in the meantime they will do what they can to put their own signature to their rooms. Although we still get tamāhine 2 asleep in our room, she transfers quite easily to her new environs and thankfully sleeps through the night giving us peace of mind. Tama 3 is still in our room sleeping in the cot. I could probably move him to the boys room also, but I haven't quite braved that idea. Maybe by the weekend? I mean, considering they all sleep through the night, I should really be thinking of enjoying an adults room for a few months. After more than seven years of having a baby/toddler in our room, it's simply become the norm hasn't it? It's funny what you become accustomed to. Hmm, well, it's food for thought and I'll certainly do just that over the next few days.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Saturday, 11 July 2009

With a warm fire, all seems well in the world

This is the first winter since having a fireplace in our home that we have been without the beautiful glow of a warm, snuggly fire. Winter arrived and we had no wood other than the generous bag-fulls kindly brought down to us by my dear friend, Auriel. (The above photo is wood scored by whaiāipo from a job yesterday... yippee for free wood eh!!??) Anything we've had we've tried to leave until the end of the day to keep that chill at bay while we ate dinner, but we still end up heading to bed many hours earlier than normal.

I'm pretty sure that had this been back in the days when whaiāipo had the business, I'd be feeling quite miserable and full of self-pity. However, I've simply layered on the piles of clothes and dealt with it.

Last night was the first time in a few weeks that I've been downstairs after 7 o'clock (yes, P.M.). I've made a conscious effort to have kai on the table by the time whaiāipo returned home from mahi each night and then scuttle the children upstairs while I got the dishes done and happily climb into bed myself. I chose to take the easy way out with dinner last night by accepting whaiāipo's offer to buy kai on the way home. Being the thoughtful fellow that he is, whaiāipo wanted me to rest for the baby's sake. Only trouble was, he had to work late which meant late home, late dinner, late to bed. Hei aha, I no complain! I appreciated the lovely gesture.

Well, today whaiāipo buys a chainsaw. He's been clocking up the overtime for weeks now and finally he has enough to purchase one. If there's one thing whaiāipo can't handle, it's paying for firewood!!!! In order to heat our home we go through lots of wood and basically I wouldn't be exaggerating if I said we'd go through $300 worth of wood in three to four weeks. So basically, at $80-$100 per week, that's a lot of good money going up in smoke.

If I had to continue surviving winter without firewood, I know I could. Other than my little scares with the pregnancy, I'm feeling very content indeed. The children are healthy and touch wood we get through the remaining winter period without flus or colds.

But I'm looking forward to a fire!!! Yummos!!!

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Friday, 10 July 2009

If I used Twitter I would probably tell you ...

I had a sleepless night last night because I started bleeding.

Around 10 or 11 I went to the bathroom and just about collapsed with despair.

Just spotting? Nope, bleeding.

I'm not sure how long it continued for, and I was worried I'd be awake all night. Luckily I must've become too exhausted and had some sort of sleep. I didn't twist and turn in bed, for fear it would start it off. My mind was racing all night (well, it still is if I'm honest)... "what did I do to start this?", "not another miscarriage!", "I shouldn't have added it to my blog!", "this isn't fair," etc.

It's now heading towards midday and touch wood, I haven't bled this morning. I've been really lazy and have sat down all morning. I've sat on the internet googling to find answers to why I'm bleeding. I'm trying to convince myself that some of the reasons I've read are applicable to me ... but that's what you do isn't it? Play mind games in the hopes of making things feel better.

So there, that would be my twitter entry if I used it.

It's no fun and I'm far from out of the woods.

Considering I planned to blog this morning about good things like having a new computer; mentioning we participated in the bird count survey with Landcare Research; my attempt to keep up with reading the Bible; receiving Gamma and my big brother being back in New Zealand for a month to name but a few, that post has now gone out the window. My mind is only focused on one thing. A tad selfish, I know, but y'know, sometimes one has to wollow in self-pity. No doubt I'll snap out of it this afternoon and decide everything's back on track, but right this second, this is where I'm at.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Incredible Science '09 Trip

The night before Incredible Science we did a wee bit of a drive-by to show the kids where we'd be heading Monday morning. My brother Craig pointed out each of the buildings, including where he works at the Uni. The kids were very excited - tama 1, especially. He has had very little sleep leading up to our adventure. Monday morning the children were all on the tramp at 5.30am!!!! Coaxing them to eat breakfast was very different for a change!!! However, we were in the van by 8 o'clock. We picked up Craig and as we neared Auckland University, we could see the crowds heading from the carpark following the signs to Incredible Science.

Firstly, let me just say how glad I am that we didn't show the kids the programme, or discuss what we might see. The reason being, I just knew we wouldn't get to everything and I would've been so upset if the children were disappointed to miss out on anything. The first of such disappointments was as soon as we tried getting tickets for the magic show. The queue was so looooooooooooooooonnnnnnnnnnnnggggggggggggg that I had to make the decision to flag the idea. Whaiāipo and I had already discussed this prior so in actual fact, I was not surprised, but still, it was jolly disappointing.

: Arrive even EARLIER to stand in the queue for the ticket! The tickets were free, but because there are two shows which are extremely popular, they've had to assign (free) tickets. However, I have little ones who simply would not enjoy waiting around for over an hour in the hopes of getting tickets! Besides, the weather in Auckland can be very fickle and if it started raining I wouldn't be prepared to stand in the rain!

Now, let me quickly point out here that just because the queue was horrendous and I was disappointed to miss out on tickets, this DOESN'T mean I was in a mood for the rest of the day. I had already expected getting tickets would be risky, and as I pointed out above, I didn't let the kids know what the programme was because it meant I didn't have to listen to whining or grizzling or crying, like some other parents had to from their kids! I already knew there were STACKS of things to see and missing one or two shows certainly wasn't going to dampen my spirits about the day!

We headed over to the Engineering Building where the children's cousin spends the bulk of her learning day. She's a third year engineering student so it's pretty cool to be standing in the building where she's a student.

From the moment we arrived we were very busy which means I actually didn't take as many photographs as perhaps I may have liked. However, here are but a few from our wonderful day:

At the CSI area the children did their fingerprints and watched how blood is taken from an item of clothing for DNA purposes
For some reason I forgot to take a photo of the (bone) skeleton, but I did get this muscle-man, minus his brain and heart because students had them out from class!!!
At the engineering area we had to guess which was heavier: concrete -v- aluminium.
We learned how aluminium is used to keep chippies fresh.

Glassblowing was really fun. Mike and Alistair presented an entertaining session. It was obviously popular because many of us were in there practically an hour ahead of schedule. Mike had to throw on a video to help kill time. He also explained they couldn't start earlier because they were expecting a television crew who were to film the session.
One day our kids will be sitting in a similar lecture theatre as university students ... before I know it the day will be here
The following photo shows the television presenter Mike Gibb, from Studio 2 - a children's afterschool television show. Our children were completely oblivious (or should I say ignorant) of who Mike Gibb is. Other children in the audience were pointing and saying, "look, there's the guy from Studio 2 ..." but our kids simply looked on blankly ... nothing like spot the homeschooler, huh?!
Mike made a bird which you can see in the photo below ...
You may notice that both Mike and Alistair put on glasses to protect their eyes They also explained they sometimes use a hose to aid their glassblowing method

Here are some of the creations they made on the day, as well as other examples of their work

Not the best photo but this apple was made by Alistair. We tried to capture the worm up close, but with the bright lights we kinda over-shot the idea
Would you believe they make many of the beakers for the science labs?!
The all important Periodic Table!
Mike kindly had a photo taken with our up-and-coming scientists
The kids enjoyed using the elevator. This would be the second time they've ever been inside one.
It was a great day all round
We will definitely return in 2010!!

It really was a worthwhile day. The University truly put on a great event filled with so many activities, it would be impossible (I think) to get around in one day. We had our plan of attack and for the main part we stuck to it as best as we could. There were many things we missed out on, but catering for the needs and wants of all the kids means compromises had to be made. We didn't stay to the bitter end, but it didn't matter in the slightest. We had a full-on day and would you believe even the simplest thing of driving up each level of the carpark was excitement in itself ... especially for tamāhine 2 !!! She squealed with delight which had the rest of us giggling along with her.

I've probably missed countless important points - such as the excellent cafeteria kai and mochachino. Neat little give-away bags; our family gets so excited getting pens and notepads!!!!! Plenty of clean toilets, accessibility with ramps (bar only a few spots) and lots of identifiable staff to help if and when called upon. Carparking was free. You simply needed to swap your parking ticket for a special coded ticket at designated points. So you see, plenty of free things over the course of a busy day filled with science! The only major point to remember for next year: get there VERY early to be at the front of the queue for those tickets to the popular shows!!! Other than that, go prepared for an exciting day.

By rights I would hazard a guess that next year will be even more popular. There were thousands of kids en masse, as groups, families or friends going with each other. Some of the activities were such a squeeze to reach that I think a change of venue for certain things will be in order ... or perhaps not so many activities within close proximity to each other. Then it will have the making of a truly annual event.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Baby news

Baby #6

I have hummed and haaed whether to share this news now or later - especially having had the miscarriage in December '08. And to be honest, I kind of put the news on here last week, but I had a 'fright' the very same day and thought I was about to have another miscarriage so quickly deleted the post!

However, it appears everything is still okay, so I decided to go ahead and share the news. This is probably only week 10 at best and I would normally get to the 12 week point before announcing it to many people. As yet we don't know if it's a boy or a girl, but it will be fun finding out come January 2010!!!

I thought I would write a post to announce the baby, just on the off-chance anyone noticed the little ticker I've placed over on the right-hand column?!

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano