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Monday, June 30, 2008

Great Intentions

Despite what this photo might suggest,
I would like to dispel the misconception that being free from study means that there is more free time.
‘Tis just NOT so!
The freedom from study means in fact, that there is more time to be filled by all the other things that you’ve left by the wayside, and which you now need to catch up on…
I’m not complaining, mind you….I don’t miss the stress of studying or meeting deadlines at all!
But my days don’t seem to have 24 hours in them.
I know they will have, but where do all these hours go?!
And in case you think I’m whingeing…I’m not.
I’m just musing about time passing.
My week is rather full…but enjoyably so.
The boys still have one week left of school, but as with the end of any term, the week is a whirlwind of social and other activity.
Oddly enough, I toyed with thoughts of doing some study ahead of the semester beginning again…
Sometimes, I wonder just where I get these unrealistic ideas from?!
Today's photo shows my beanbag, my cuppa tea, my pile of good books, and my chocolates, in my patch of sunshine.
I ate my chocolates (on the run), I drank my cuppa tea (cold, and between jobs), but I never got to my beanbag or my books.
I did however, enjoy the sunshine and the glorious day....all day long! Aaaaaahhhhh....Life's good!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Five on Friday

I know, it's not Friday - again. But this time, it really was a busy week. In fact, that's what this week's Five on Friday is all about. Sorry it's so long... kind of like my week!

Five Very Intense Days

1. Monday - At school, we found out that a little 3 year old boy in our school community had been one of two toddlers found in a swimming pool on Sunday evening at a large family gathering. Little Andrew was in the ICU at Children's Hospital in very serious condition. It was really hard to focus on finishing up and editing report cards that day. In the evening, a few teachers went to the hospital just in time for the announcement that he had no brain activity and that he would likely be taken off life support within the next 24 hours. In the midst of all this, a there was a big dinner at the school, organized by a number of grade seven parents, to say farewell to those students who were leaving to go to public high schools. There was tons of food, speeches, unique gifts for the middle school teachers, and interesting grade seven microphone moments. It was a very taxing day.
The only photo that I took on Monday was of the cool drums that have come to live at our house, part of Little Joe's exciting new purchase of Wii Rock band.
2. Tuesday - I don't remember much of the day at school, except that it was very intense, getting all the report cards edited and we had a really good primary department meeting. After school, I had to spend a very long time in the car driving to meet Big Bear and his mum, Monika, who is now staying with us for the summer. After a trip to the pharmacy and an hour's wait, and a visit to pick up stuff from her house, I got home with 15 minutes to spare, made dinner, and rushed out to take photos at a baby shower for a mum in recovery. I loved the sweet little shoes she got!

3. Wednesday - We heard that little Andrew had surgery to remove organs destined for five people; this was his official passing. I am intrigued by the thought of his heart sustaining someone's life and other families being overjoyed at the sudden news of transplant surgery. I hope that they are all successful. The saddest thing was that Andrew's family would go home for the first time since Sunday and return to a house full of his life. The second little boy from the pool is still hanging on; please pray for both families.

After school, I rushed home to prepare the house for a staff party. It was really fun! Our colleague, Ed, brought his XBox and a whole load of karaoke discs. Bonnie sang "Fame", and stole the show!
4. Thursday - The big day! After a full day of meetings, I rushed home (yet again) to prepare myself for the grad ceremony. Little Bear walked across the stage in cap and gown, and received his certificate. He's finished! I love this photo of him with the three school principals he has had since Kindergarten.

5. Friday - I had to drag myself out for a 9am breakfast meeting - so tired. This was the last day at school, and it was mostly spent making plans for our return in August and finishing up my classroom for the summer cleaning. And then, yes, I rushed home to prepare for the grad party we hosted! It was so much fun to have the kids over; they are really great (in case I've never said that before!!). In addition to the grade twelves, we had a few of their parents, and therefore, younger siblings. I don't imagine that many groups of graduates would be overjoyed at having a party with parents and little kids present, but these ones were perfectly happy. We had lots of food, for those boys who can't get enough of it, the pool, computer games, and Rock Band. They had a ball! And at the end, almost every single one of them came and thanked me for having them. I'm so grateful for the awesome class Little Bear has been a part of, and it was such a pleasure to have them over.

Today, it is Saturday. The first day of my summer break, and the weather is perfect. However (dun dun dun), I start my summer course next week and have a ton of reading to do before it starts. And hopefully, I'll be able to do at least part of a book review, too.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Oooooh Baby....it's done!

(at this point in time)
is being able to enjoy your evening hot chocolate,
with your husband,
whilst watching a movie,
guilt free; ……
assured of sweet dreams which are
unpunctuated by weird nightmares about
being suffocated by reams of intellectual articles;……
and knowing
that when you awake at some unearthly hour of the morning,
you can shut your eyes and go back to sleep…….

The last journal is in…..
and 3 weeks of holidays stretch out in front of me…..
not limitless,
but I’ll take what I can get!!!

Bring it on!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Study Fuel

...cheaper than petrol...but only just !

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Big Smokey

This has been my view for the last wee while.
I'm happy to say, that I've learnt lots, met lots of very nice people, and can cross another hurdle off my list. Only 3 days left of term, 1 assignment and 2 journals left to deal with.
Special thanks for the incredible support and encouragement over the last few days. I've needed it! THANKS!
Will I miss the 3-4 km walks each way?
Your guess is as good as mine!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Last Day of School!

Wow. What a way to go out.
We had our traditional assembly, complete with the "Summertime" song, everyone belting it out and swaying back and forth, arm in arm. We made it back to the classroom, parents everywhere, goodbyes, hugs, and even tears from some children.
And then it happened.
In the middle of the farewell chaos, the fire alarm went off. Unexpectedly.
What excitement! We'll never forget this last day of school!!
(In case you're wondering, it was a faulty smoke detector.)
Tonight we have the Middle School "graduation" and closing ceremonies, and then it's all about report cards. There's a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Eye of the Storm

What a wonderful day it was.
I went to the beach with my class today; the school year finishes up (for the children, not for us) on Friday.
I think that all children should spend lots of time at the ocean. Playing, discovering, breathing in the sea air, cutting their feet on barnacles, and picking up new and interesting creatures. I don't think that we have the dangerous ones that live in Oz!
That's what they did today. Although it wasn't a particularly beautiful day weather-wise, the children had the best time. They loved looking for crabs and starfish, and filled up their buckets with poor little captured creatures (Everybody was released in the afternoon, probably traumatized for life...).
I was constantly being asked to "Come see what we found!" and, "Take a picture of this!" Even the most jaded of students were gripped with beach fever and needed to be called multiple times when it was time to leave.
After lunch, we went on a walk on the wooded trail, where my teaching partner and I had hidden small toys and candies in five different areas. What fun it was to send them all searching!
And now, after a day of beauty and tranquility, smelling salty and wonderful, it is time to get back into the year-end frenzy of marking, photo mementoes for students, and report cards. You probably won't be hearing much from me. Aaaaaaggggghhhhh!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The best made plans

Today, L's Spanish guitar teacher was a guest performer at his school. We found out quite suddenly on our arrival at school this morning, and without any warning, L and his friend J, were plonked onto the stage and had their very first ever, Classical guitar concert (with their teacher F accompanying them). They did very well, considering they have only been learning for just over 2 months, and for having been given next to no warning about the impromptu concert at the school assembly.

After they played, F moved to centre stage and the two boys sat down on the stage to the right. Everyone was enjoying the sounds of Spanish classical guitar played by F, when 'something' got into L.....he suddenly got it into his head to shuffle along on his bottom, right across centre stage, IN FRONT of F who was performing beautifully, right across to the other side! By this time, he had successfully usurped the guest performer and the kids' attentions (as well as the Principal and other teachers' attentions!)! L stood up, almost in front of the guest performer (who was doing his level best to regain his composure) and retrieved his music folder which he had left on the music stand beside the guest guitarist! He then bottom shuffled his way all the way back across centre stage to where his gobsmacked friend was watching! I was totally mortified!!!!!! Who brought THAT kid up???!! And what was he thinking...that nobody could see him despite being on centre stage???!

But wait. There's more! F finished his amazing performance, but must've been so traumatised by the bottom shuffler, that he very quickly bowed his way out into a room that was by the stage. I had just been in that room moments earlier, and I thought it was just a storeroom It was dark and crammed with musical instruments etc. Anyway, F retreated into this room, and the Principal shut the door!!! My friend and I had huge conniptions about the fact that this guest was now stuck in a dark storeroom, with no way of getting out until after assembly was over! That was no way to treat a guest! We could just imagine the torture of sitting in a dark closet having to listen to a school assembly in its entirety! Anyway, I had to clench my cheek muscles incessantly, to stop my giggles from escaping. It was a tough job.

Just as well I had something to do though, because the next guest got up to speak, and he was distinctly sonorific. I realised after 15 mins, that my 4am start this morning had begun to impact me. I was directly facing the guest speaker, who was looking somewhat perturbed at my inexcusably glazed eyes, before I realised. Ahem.

Anyway, we lasted the length of school assembly, anxious to release F from his cupboard! What would we find there?! A pile of bones? A distraught mess? Was that any way to treat a guest?! We were somewhat nervous when we checked the room after assembly had finished.....but immensely relieved when we discovered that F had found an escape route between the shelves and had somehow managed to unlock a hidden door to the outside. WHEW!

And now, I must head for bed lest tomorrow is as exciting!

Monday, June 16, 2008

A cultural taste sensation!

So how do you start your day?

I suspect many North Americans would be horrified to know that some of us Southerners start our day with toast spread with a delicious, savoury substance called “Marmite” ! It has the consistency and colouring of tar, but it tastes a lot better, I can assure you! For those who aren’t in the know, Marmite is a yeast extract, and is a little salty in flavour. For the discerning however, Marmite is a little sweeter than its Australian counterpart, Vegemite (and no, they are both yeast extracts – one is not a vegetable / meat extract!). The English use Promite, which is slightly different in taste yet again. And the South Africans have their Mighty Mite / Our Mate, which is a little closer to Promite than Marmite or Vegemite. Confused?!

In our home, we usually have Marmite (for the patriotic amongst us) and Our Mate (for the more discerning palate)….and sometimes Vegemite (when we can’t get Our Mate/Mighty Mite). The trick is to only spread a teeny weeny little squidgey bit on your piece of hot buttered toast. It is not like Nutella (where more is better!). So if you like lavish lathering of your piece of toast, or if you like to start your day off with something sweet, then Marmite (and its derivatives) will not be the thing for you!

What’s more, most Kiwi kids grow up with having it on their sandwiches for school lunches! So if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere and you happen to be visiting a “Cobs” bakery (exactly the same as a “Bakers Delight” Down Under), go check out their “Cheesymite Scrolls” for a taste sensation! I gather the Cobs owners in the North can’t figure out why Northern Hemisphere sales of these delicacies aren’t exactly matching sales of the said product Down Under…

A Beautiful Wedding

We spent a lovely afternoon and evening yesterday at Sam and Vicci's wedding. It was held in her sister, Barbera's backyard in a suburb outside the city. After several weeks of gloomy, cold weather, we finally had a beautiful day just in time for the wedding!
Big Bear was asked to give a toast to the bride and groom, which he did so well.

It was wonderful to see Sam and Vicci married; they are such a great couple! And what a marvelous day it was! Barbera and her husband Andrew were gracious hosts and we enjoyed their beautiful home and property. When everything was cleaned up (rented dishes are the best!) and people had gone home, we all got changed and our two families spent the evening together. They have daughters the same age as the boys, as well as two younger sons, and it was so fun to catch up. We all loved seeing the kids having fun together, as we have numerous photos of them together as babies and young children. There's nothing like being with old friends; it's like putting on a comfortable pair of jeans!

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Grandparents are just awesome people!
I am so thrilled that my kids still have both sets of grandparents and they love them very much. The feeling is mutual. When it's a good relationship, it must be one of the most satisfying and wonderful of human relationships , I reckon. Grandies are just The Most Special People!
I'll let you in on a secret....I've always thought that it would be very cool to be a grandie (in good time of course!) but there was that essential 'first step' that I had to undertake first...
Grandies are allowed to spoil you...they can love you to bits and then love you some more...they allow you eat all sorts of yummy food like ice cream and chocolate and chips and they are forever giving you treats...like Grandpa's famous curry! WOW! My dad is just THE BEST curry maker I know. Today, we could smell Grandpa cooking his curry as we drove towards their home...the fragrance wafted all around the neighbourhood...EVERYONE knows when Grandpa cooks his curry! And whenever there is a potluck dinner, without fail, that is the dish that people will ask Grandpa to cook. We felt so special to be going for dinner, and our tummies growled in anticipation as we savoured the delicious aromas...I wish I could attach an "olfactory clip" - kinda like a video clip I guess. But for now, you'll just have to imagine. And Grandpa even cooked extra so we could bring some home for lunch tomorrow!
Grandparents are WONDERFUL!

Five on Friday

It's stil Friday - yay!
Today I have decided to write about:

Five Good Reads

1. My friend, Colleen, lent me Ysabel, a fabulous fantasy novel set in the south of France - my favorite place! I'm normally NOT a fantasy reader, but I loved this book and its past/present setting! It's definitely one that I was sad to finish.
2. I've always enjoyed Ken Follett's crime novels, but Pillars of the Earth is totally different. Set in the Middle Ages, it follows the story of a poor builder whose passion is to build a cathedral. Excellent book!
3. Do you recognize this one, Southern Ange? India fascinates me. Can You Hear the Nightbird Call? is set both in India and in Canada, and tells the sad stories of three Indian women. It highlights the volatility and mystery of the culture.
4. Before I Wake is another Canadian book. I had two friends recommend it, then my book club read it. This is one that I ouldn't put down! It was riveting, disturbing, fascinating, and I don't know what else.
5. My friend, Karen, started raving about The Shack, so I got a copy. It's a modern allegory where a man in deep personal pain spends the weekend with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in human form. What would God make for dinner? What would you talk about with Jesus? What would the Holy Spirit look like? This is fiction, but it's quite amazing to read about the journey of healing the main character takes.
There you go. I'm looking forward to the summer (when my course is over) so I can discover more wonderful books. And float in the pool all afternoon , reading! When it's warm again.

Friday, June 13, 2008


Here are two small boy moments from today:

At recess, Anton showed me the caterpillars he found on a tree. They're all over him! He took this responsibility very seriously.

This afternoon, Owen slipped a plastic lid with a hole onto his finger. After working on it for a while, I began to think he'd have to spend his entire life with a round piece of plastic stuck on his finger. Fortunately, with ice and soap, I managed to free him from its evil grip! I didn't really envision this kind of thing when I began my teacher's training.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Homeward bound

Today I saw you walking home.

Head bowed, shoulders hunched, sadness about your being.
Was it an unkind word ?....a scathing look?... a thoughtless deed?...a hurtful exclusion ?

Or was it the absence
of a warm embrace, a considerate deed, a friendly smile, a timely word,
or caring companionship?

I hope home was welcoming,
a haven.
For life can be cruel, blunt, presumptuous, unforgiving, consuming, cold, and uncaring
And for all I know, home may be no better for you.

But I wish you otherwise
Because everyone needs a solace, a refuge, a place to be...
where love and soul meet
In truth.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

This is the house that Jack built

This is the Bridge that K now crosses to get to work each day

This is the view that K sees as he drives past

And this is the place K would rather be, as he sits in traffic...

Today on the Playground

I am always thankful for sunshine when I'm on supervision duty at school. Alas, the sun was nowhere to be found today, but at least it wasn't raining like yesterday!
Here are some moments observed during my lunch duty today:Ben finally broke free from the skipping rope that bound him to the post!

The cool grade 5 girls played a ball game.

Meghan studied French in preparation for her next class.

Grade 2 boys created waterways in the long jump pit.

Sophia searched for bugs in a log.

It's always fun to watch kids play!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Stepping out to new worlds

Though the South Islanders had their first dump of snow over the weekend, the North Island remained sunny, crisp, and autumnal. We are so glad that our boys are now of the age where we can go exploring on foot for miles and they don't seem to mind too much...especially with interest factors along the way (like swans, large fat geese, pukekos, cockerels, carp, eels, and various varieties of ducks and other birds). I've always been fascinated by the large signs at this park - "No Fishing/Hunting" accompanied by pictures of fish, ducks, and eels! Judging by the VERY HEALTHY size of the geese, ducks, eels and fish at this park, one supposes they could be rather tasty temptations for some!

Our walk took us exploring native bush, open fields and paddocks, along boardwalks and grassy paths, and along stream edges until we got to the sea. I am grateful for living in a country where one can safely explore to one's heart's content, and where the air is clean, nature is still natural, and beauty is free!


today is the last day of K's stint down South, and the FIRST DAY that he no longer has any training time to do! Stepping out...


Five on Friday

Here is this week's Five on Friday - nope, Saturday - oops, Sunday....

Five Reasons Why Five on Friday was Done on Sunday Instead of Friday

1. Little Bear's Graduation Banquet - on Friday after school, we got all dolled up in our best clothes and went off to the Hilton hotel for a wonderful evening with the grads. I even danced with my son (so fun!). The parents, of course, went home at a more reasonable time (1am) while the kids had another party. Little Bear rolled in just after 3am, and of course, I didn't sleep properly until he was safely ensconced in his little bed. The graduation ceremony will take place on June 26, so until then, he hasn't graduated. In fact, he has a big literature test at school tomorrow!

2. A chiropractor's appointment unwisely scheduled at 8:30 am the next day... My neck is doing so much better now, so I don't need to go again for a month!

3. Bottling two new batches of wine at 10am - we did a cabernet sauvignon merlot, and a "Pacific Quartet"(white) - can't remember the four grapes in it, but I'm so excited to open it up in a month's time!

4. An epic journey - After lunch, I helped drive some of the grad class to a cabin on a lake an hour and a half out of town. The guys were all going to spend the night there, and some of the girls came along for the day. This is the class I was in Costa Rica with last year, and I love these kids dearly. It was lots of fun to hang out with them for a while. But I had a hard time staying alert on the long drive back by myself!

5. A wedding shower for my friend, Vicci, in the evening. I'll be going to her wedding next Saturday. This 24 hour period was much too busy for my liking. I sat in church this morning and couldn't concentrate on anything! Let's hope that next weekend is a little bit calmer!

Friday, June 6, 2008


I am officially devoid of anything intelligent to say....having just sent off close to 12,000 words into cyberspace. Hence, today's blogpost. Be warned!
I like this picture because it reminds me of a number of things. Not least of which, is the piggy itself. It's a very cool gadget. An expandable piggy bank which makes a good selection of gut wrenching OINKS when you feed coins into it. I like the expandable bit. There is some lure to watching a piggybank grow. I'm looking forward to seeing it reach a size where each coin added will look like chocolate on the hips!
And I like the curvaceous look of it. It reminds me a lot of what some parts of me might look like if I was brave enough to glance in the mirror. After 2 weeks of sitting at a desk, churning out words, and doing not much more exercise than nibbling at the contents of my pantry, I'm sure that there is more to me than meets the eye!
I think I've run out of less-than-intelligent things to say. This is as they say, the end of the tail.

Device to Root Out Evil

Workers from Pro-Tech Industrial Movers taking apart the churc

You may remember my post about the upside down church ("Device to Root Out Evil"), a sculpture that has been in my city for some time. I asked readers to comment on the message it sends, and it was most interesting to read people's thoughts.
Today, the "church" was removed from its home and shipped to Calgary, where residents are obviously more sophisticated and open, according to some of our locals. The comments regarding the sculpture are most interesting, and all over the map. Check out the article with assorted comments below, and the photo gallery listed on the right hand side, if you're interested.
Lots of people around the city interpreted it as a slam on the church and religion, while others saw it as a call to be more than just a building or an institution. Any new thoughts from you?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Butchering on

Ange of the North, this was an amazing delicatessen that made me think of you and other foodie friends, when we saw it.
The pictures only show a portion of the shop (since I felt a bit like I shouldn't be waving my camera around in full view of everybody!).
It is actually billed as the Village butcher's.
However, it is the most wonderful butchers shop I have ever seen.
It doesn't have a strong meaty smell like all the other butchers shops I've ever been in. In fact, if anything, there are delicious aromas emanating from the other cooked foods one can purchase there. There is a huge and varied selection of beautifully presented cuts of meat, and all sorts of delicious fine goodies like olives and sundried tomatoes and vine leaves and roasted garlic etc, all laid out in clean, bright display cabinets that run down one length of the shop. Some of the cuts of meat, I'd never seen before! Everything was so well displayed! There were chandeliers in the ceiling, shelves and cold chests stuffed full of the most delectable and exotic foodstuffs, and a "Display Kitchen" area with chairs around it for cooking and sampling sessions!
The Display Kitchen area has sinks and cooktop, oven, spice racks, cookware, and bookshelves with cookbooks from some of the top international culinary names.
We spent a lot of time just looking and salivating (and wrinkling up our eyebrows at other stuff)!
Wild rice from Burma, duck fat (!), hundreds of spice mix variations, organic preserves, local pestos, exotic vegetables and fruit etc etc.
The perfect shop for "This goes with That, and That goes with This"!!!
E took this photo. That's an "Academic in the midst of assignments", clinging on for dear life to the lifegiving properties of The Endless Cup of tea!

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