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Thursday, December 25, 2008


WOW! Thanks heaps for sharing those photos Tim. They were absolutely stunning. Made K and I positively 'homesick'....not that we ever saw Vancouver with that much snow, and never from that angle either, but the Great White North is a beautiful place. Simply gorgeous!
(Feel free to post more photos like those !!!)

And now, as we near day's end Down Under, it is our turn to wish all of you in the Great White North, a VERY HAPPY and BLESSED CHRISTMAS! And to those who have celebrated Down Under today, we hope you will have had a truly happy and meaningful Christmas with your loved ones.

Blessings and lotsa love!

Happy Christmas Eve! I know that Down Under, it's Christmas Day, but I just finished my Christmas shopping today, thanks to my very capable and cooperative driver who doesn't let messy streets keep him home!
I can't believe the snow! It just keeps on falling, and I don't remember having had so much! It's in danger of becoming rain, which I don't relish, as the streets will be even messier...
Anyway, I promised a special guest blogger today - my brother, Tim!
I think I deserve another blog entry. It has been almost a year since the last one (see Snowmobiling Tragedy).
I am a police officer in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. I have had some very exciting postings in my career, but lately I am no longer driving a police car, but a desk. Sadly, I feel that the days of policing action and excitement are over. Except for two days ago, when I asked for the chance to fly in a police helicopter to take photos of the city for a project I am leading at work. Since we'd just had about a foot of snow (there's more now), I was looking for the perfect photography opportunity where there is fresh snow on the ground and in the trees, while at the same time the sun is shining through a blue sky. On that day, everything came into alignment and I got my sunny day over a perfectly white landscape. What a beautiful city we live in!

Thanks, Tim! Those are some amazing shots! I particularly like this one of the Lions, the two bumps in the mountain photo on our blog header. I wish you joy as you prepare for/celebrate Christmas today. May true peace reign in your heart, and may you know the Joy of Man's Desiring.
xox Ange of the North

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Still Christmas Eve...

It is still Christmas eve here....for the next 15 mins anyway. After which, the stockings will be filled and Mrs Santa will have snuck away to her warm bed!

I thought I would share a few Christmas Eve photos with you, whilst I still legitimately can!

Tonight, we went to a wonderful Christmas Eve service. I think I can honestly say, that Christmas Eve is my most favourite day/night in the year. However, we didn't have snow and we do have to create our own!!! We were most surprised to turn up this evening to discover snow in the making.....Seasonal solidarity with the North!

And now I must away...before the Pumpkin Hour!

More Snow Photos and a Little Bear Update

We had a lovely time at Paul and Sarah's last night, and woke up this morning to a marvelous breakfast together. We finished our time on the west side with a trip to the snowy beach - gorgeous! Although, really, a beach SHOULD be warm and comfortable!

Little Bear and I spent over 3 hours in Emergency this afternoon, on the advice of the dentist, checking to see if his jaw is fractured. It's not. Awesome way to spend extra time, when there is still Christmas shopping to be done!

The boy is still in a bit of pain; his chinny chin chin is throbbing and he is taking T3s. The difficult thing is laughter - I mean, he can't laugh. Probably because of the swollen, bashed up lips. Unfortunately, he likes to pretend he's a troll or an ,and puts on a funny accent ("Mutton yesterday, mutton today, and blimey if it won't be mutton tomorrow..."). I'm sure you can imagine the conflict that puts him through - trying to be funny, but not to laugh!

There's a smile - looks more like a grimace! The dentist had to take out the broken front tooth, but the base/root is still in the gums. He'll have to have all that taken out when the swelling has subsided, and then we'll have to think about a tooth to put back in his mouth. I had a hard time sleeping last night, with pictures of breaking teeth cavorting through my mind. Ugh.

On to happier topics...

Tomorrow, our Christmas Eve, I will feature a guest blogger/photog. Stay tuned for some great photos from the mysterious visitor! And to all you Down Underites, I wish you a very merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

More Seasonal Contrasts!

Warning: Slightly gory photo of unfortunate boy. Scroll down at your own risk!
For once in history, Canadians from east to west are united!

We can ALL look out our windows and see varying amounts of snow, after amazing dumps all over the country.
Yesterday was... amazing. It snowed and snowed, and it was the day of the Big Bear family gathering. We had to drive an hour on the freeway to Barb and Larry's house, which for BB, was simple. While other, more timid motorists cancelled everything and stayed home, there we were braving the elements in the truck. I must say, he is a great snow driver, and 4x4 is helpful, too.
It was a lovely time together. After appies, we all went to a local Greek restaurant for dinner and then came back for gifts and dessert. It sure made things easier than cooking for 18 people!

Today is beautiful. We went out shopping this morning, marvelling at the white wonderland all around us. The main streets are all fine to drive on, but many side streets haven't been plowed and the foot of snow is enough to keep many vehicles in their driveways.

Just before we got home, and an hour before our scheduled departure for Paul and Sarah's house for our annual get together, we had a phone call. Little Bear went out tobogganing with his friends and slammed into a tree. Aaaaggghhh!
Apart from a bloody face, which I can handle, his front tooth is hanging. Ugh - one of my worst nightmares! He is now at the dentist for emergency treatment. Poor boy. Too bad Dr. K isn't here to patch up his face.

I guess we won't be leaving at 3:00...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Seasonal contrasts

Those snow photos look absolutely gorgeous!
All my life, Christmas songs and cards and wrapping paper and stories have always been about that 'white Christmas'....It was SO cool to see your photos of the snow happening. It felt almost surreal to be looking at those tonight. I thought I should post these pics just to demonstrate the contrast between hemispheres.

Tonight, a bunch of us got together for what is quickly becoming an annual event. The Christmas Drive Through. There are a few such Drive Throughs happening throughout the Christmas season, but this is the one we frequent. People can choose to ride in their own cars, or travel in a more social fashion atop haybales on trucks. We chose the latter. The kids prefer it, and so do we!
A significant benefit of the Drive Through, is the opportunity for actors to be interactive with the audience. Each scene only takes about 5 minutes. The vehicles are directed into separated scene areas, and a part of the Christmas story is enacted. It was very well done. It is really nice to be outside in the fresh air of a warm evening. Another benefit of being on a truck, is that if there is funky music, you can boogie to your heart's delight! I have the feeling we quickly gained the notoriety of being the noisiest, most rambunctious truckload...especially since our party filled up the entire truck!

It was a lovely evening. What a great story, the Christmas story is.
I wonder what things would've looked like with snow though...

It's the Great White North!

Wow, you guys have been busy, Southern Ange! It looks like there's been a lot of fun times down there.
This past week was hectic here, too. On Wednesday, we had our first big snowfall. It started just as I arrived at school and continued for most of the day; the children were ecstatic!
The next day was our big Christmas musical. This was the best we've ever done, and I confess that I was quite emotional the first time I watched it. The songs were meaningful and the children did a fabulous job!
Today, Saturday, was my first day off. Yay! Now I can do my Christmas shopping! Big Bear and I went to a cozy party this evening at a cottage by the river. As we left, the next big snowfall, promised all week, began. By the time we arrived home it was thick and sticking to the roads. It looks like we'll be having a white Christmas, especially if the temperatures continue to stay below zero.

Tomorrow we have Big Bear's family party and his mum will be coming home with us to stay for two weeks. I hope she's ready for Christmas chaos!

Friday, December 19, 2008

From the mouth of babes...

OK. So I'm about to scream....what is up with Blogger?? I've tried to upload these photos 5-6 times, and tried to move them around, and lost the lot about 3 times. But I'm not stressed. Really. Forget about the screaming. That's just in my mind. My kids are in bed. It would wake them. Oh look....and now all my ranting has been highlighted and I don't know how to change it! And I'm writing in two tone. Just delightful.

I shall persist. It is called determination (or stupidity, you choose).
Hmm. Font has changed, colour has changed. Stay with me now.

Anyway, I was about to share some deep pearls with you....now what were they?! Never mind.
Today, the boys and I were having a quiet moment with the sandwiches and that sort of thing, when L piped up :
"Mum....you hardly ever take photos any more!"
There was a moment of incredulous silence.... L realised at that moment, that he would never be allowed to live down this statement, and was gracious enough to turn a beautiful shade of pink in acknowledgement of his heinous mistake. I was thereafter spurred on to post this blog to dispel any such wild rumours that may be circulating around.

Here are just a few random snapshots from recent days. Just to prove that I have had my camera around me on some occasions. And to prove that my trigger finger still works.

So this is L the Warrior with his cloak which he made in Art. Don't you love it when your kids come home in the last week of school, loaded with stuff that has previously adorned the hallways and byways of their classroom and school? L was SO proud of his cloak, and he'd done such a wonderful job of it. Now I'm wondering just where I am going to display it in our house, which is somewhat smaller than the school hall....

I love this photo. It was taken of E at his final violin concert last night. The concert was held at a gorgeous home. The audience sat outside on the patio in the beautiful evening, whilst the waterfall played into the pool behind us, and the green native bush surrounded us on the other side. Beyond the established forest, one could glimpse the sea. Inside, all the string students of E's violin teacher performed for us, accompanied by 2 cellists, one a well known NZ musician. This photo is of E at rest, waiting for his turn to perform.

Outside on the patio.

Inside the 'performance area'....aka the Family Room. All night, I wanted to run my bare feet through this soft, luscious-looking rug. At night's end, I did! It was sumptuous!!! Now if only people had the foresight to line concert halls with these sorts of rugs instead of cold, hard, wooden floors....imagine what warm, snuggly music would be produced....

E's turn. He was the final soloist for the evening. After that, all the violinists and the 2 cellists performed a Corelli arrangement for us en masse with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd violin parts, and cello parts. Very nice indeed. Hope the neighbours enjoyed it as much as we did.

The Pampering.... Nice leggies, girls!
It was my first ever time having one of these. I spent a lot of the time feeling very sorry for the lass who had to deal with my feet. I think she finally accepted my apologies.
I had too good a time though. Coffee, massage, friends who specially gave up their work that day just to come and sit with me,
or have their nails done with me so I didn't feel like the only overdressed turkey; help me choose my nail colour, hold my hand (almost!), keep me entertained, and generally add to the overall fun and sense of social solidarity. Oh, and even take my photos for me. True friendship!
I think I could get used to being pampered!

I always feel like the end of the year / the last day of school is such a sad time. So it was really nice that one of the school families opened up their lovely home for us all to zip around after school ended, to eat, chat, and dunk our kids in the spa / pool. Most of the kids in this spa pic are from L's class. Rm 18 Chowder.

I love hearing carols at this time of the year, I love belting out carols (NEVER sit next to me if you know what's good for you!), and I love 'Carols by Candlelight' events. I especially love going with friends. I love the beautiful evenings, the lights, the reminders of Christmas, the festive atmosphere......oh, and did I mention the food?!

Ahhhh. The food!

Letter to a Friend

Dear Southern Ange,
It is so sad to read about your end-of-year-itis. What a terrible affliction to have! I feel so sorry that your wicked friends inflicted a surprise party on you - and it looks like they even dressed you up! (cute boa...) The thing that breaks my heart the MOST is when you had to go out looking at the Christmas lights. I think the word you used was "balmy". Imagine that: walking up and down a street full of happy people, musicians, and WARM TEMPERATURES! Woe is you...
I have wanted to post some photos of our dump of snow the other day, but haven't been home long enough to do it. (My school computer won't let me. And I'm sure it's wrong to be blogging at work, anyway. Oh, well.) Many schools in the area are closed today because of icy conditions and treacherous roads, but as our big Chrismas musical happens today, we are bravely open. Big Bear drove me to school in his 4x4 - yay!
I hope you have a lovely day today; I think this is the boys' first day of vacation. Make the best of the sunshine (I know you prefer cold and gloom, but push through it, my friend - winter will be there before you know it!).
Wish you were here!
xox Ange of the North

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


What a whirlwind week it has been. The candle has been well and truly burnt at both ends. Rehearsals for end of year concerts & prizegiving (and the ‘real’ things), Farewell get-togethers, End of year outings and functions galore, plenty of driving, plenty of eating, plenty of socialising, and not much sleep. There was even a surprise birthday party! More on that later. Like most of the Southern hemisphere who are coming to the end of our year, we are exhausted. Simply pooped. And not surprisingly, we have all been sick. I think we will all come to a complete halt very soon. Probably after Christmas….

K did the manly thing and went with the boys to the end of year Middle School outing to Waiwera Hot Pools (complete with lots of thematic pools and wild slides). Apparently the pools looked like fish chowder with 1000+ kids, all celebrating summer and the end of school. Utter chaos. I braved the shops in search of essential Christmas items….chaos of a similar nature!

And even I have had a birthday party! Of a completely surprised and random nature – ‘Surprised’, cos I was. ‘Random’, because I am of the age where I no longer require birthdays….and besides which, even if I did, my birthday is not in December! I had thought, that I was due out to a Farewell party. I thought wrong. I did have quite a nasty suspicion that things were not as they should have been. But being the kind and gracious friend that I am (!), I gave my friends the benefit of the doubt and took them at their word. At this point, I should confess, that I did throw the spanner in the works just a few times to keep them guessing! It would’ve been too easy otherwise. Anyway, it was like a replay of K’s surprise party, except in a slightly more ‘genteel’ fashion. I was ‘chauffeured’ rather than walked up the road, and my driver asked me where “Megazone” was for a friend of hers who wanted to host a birthday party soon. I fell into the trap and suggested that we drove past the Laser Strike Game place since it was only a slight detour to the restaurant…..only to discover as we turned into the driveway, that The Girls were waiting for me! The moral of the story is, CHOOSE YOUR FRIENDS WISELY!

To cut a very long story short, my white negligee and feather boa only lasted a short while before I was able to stash them away unnoticed by the excited female commandos. We thoroughly enjoyed a great game in our three teams. Moral Number 2 is, BEWARE the quietest, sweetest, gentlest women! They turn into the feistiest, most competitive, bloodthirsty warriors when they are let loose into a game such as this!!! After blowing out the candles on my “non-birthday” cake, and having some refreshments, we were let loose into the arena for another bout of Laser Strike. The funny thing, is that some Korean friends of ours were present at both surprise birthday parties – HE attended K’s party, and SHE attended mine. Afterwards, HE asked his wife if HE could have a ‘surprise party’ when they returned to Korea! And after my surprise party, SHE asked me if this was the way Kiwis traditionally celebrated their birthdays (by being set up by their friends and dressed in all manner of unusual costumes just so they could shoot each other with lasers in the dark!)….I can assure you, ‘tis enjoyable, but not traditional!

I felt so special. Dinner at a Turkish CafĂ© afterwards was delicious…..unfortunately, my stomach cramps returned, but I was able to enjoy my meal again later on at midnight! Yum. It was lovely also to drive down at the end of the evening, along a road in the city which traditionally lights up over December. All the houses in that street are decorated with lights and displays for Christmas, and thousands of people walk down its length each night before Christmas. There is a real party atmosphere with carollers and buskers and coffee merchants, and lots of Christmas music and hum. Wonderful to stroll along on a balmy evening with friends and family.

And one of my birthday gifts, was a treat to a pedicure and manicure tomorrow morning……booked in with several others! I’m interested in how the staff at the establishment will handle a bunch of rowdy women, all booked in to get their nails done at the same time!!! Should be fun! I’m so glad that my friends didn’t just book me in for a nail job by myself, but decided to book themselves in at the same time too! What a buzz!

After that, it will be time for school to finish (only a half day), time for the end of year party (all kids in the pool!), and then dinner with some good friends who are visiting from Brisbane.

I did feel quite sad this evening though. Tomorrow is the last day of school. With it, comes the inevitable farewells and end of year sadness. This year, we will be losing some sterling people. Friends and acquaintances who are moving on, change (which I loathe), and all the associated goodbyes. Ohhh the sadness. Huge sighs.


Baby, it's cold outside!
The arctic air arrived on Saturday, bringing below zero temperatures and clear skies. Brrrrr! Somehow, the area around the school received a small snowfall the other night, and the children were thrilled to find just enough snow on the ground to slide down the hill. At recess, a bunch of them formed two orderly lines to share the sleds thoughtfully brought by a couple of generous students, and everyone had fun together. Others joyfully "skated" on a long patch of ice. Back and forth, back and forth they all went, with lots of happy tumbles on the ground.
Despite the cold, it was fun to do playground duty today with all the squeals and smiles, and especially with such beautiful weather. The blue sky and sunshine provided a gorgeous backdrop for the newly snowed-on mountains. How many schools have such a view?
On all those grey, rainy days, it's easy to forget what lies behind the clouds. Days like today make living on the coast worthwhile!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Full House

Once again, I have two children at home.
Little Bear is back from school for a whole month! He arrived last night, and I remembered how he fills the house with his voice, his large body, his music, his self. It was nice to sit with him at church this morning as we watched Big Bear play piano for the Christmas choir (at last I was able to hear the entire songs he had practiced over and over at home!). It was nice to be out for breakfast all together. It's nice for Little Joe to have his brother around again. And it was nice to have him go to bed in his own room a few minutes ago.
It's nice to be a family. Now, just watch my grocery budget go up again!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Throwing down the gauntlet!

Some photos from Miami.
This was K's first view of the Atlantic Ocean (and our first virtual view from Down Under too)!

These beaches are quite different from what we have here in NZ. We generally don’t tend to have large, multi-storeyed complexes lining the beach….and definitely no helpful attendants to put out deckchairs each morning, ready for the day’s customers!

K described the beach as ‘bland’ in Miami, the landscape being probably more shaped by who happens to be on the beach than the beach itself! I think NZ beaches tend to be a more an unspoilt, natural, and ‘ungroomed’ affair. I like the colourful jellyfish in Miami though!

Beautiful sunrises and sunsets too...

PS. A retort to the comments posted on yesterday's blogpost!
I feel a conspiracy!…..I HAVE slowed down….
so much so, that I have become positively mellow in my old age.
Any slower and I’ll be heading backwards.
[Now how do I confess in the same breath, that I have been asked all day today if I’m OK because people thought I looked ‘exhausted’…..hmmm.
I think that last admission (NOT that you should take it as an admission, mind you!) can be attributed to ‘end-of-year-itis’ and hence
the essential difference!]
Anyway Ange of the North and Dee, my two wonderful friends, here’re my 2 pennies worth - I reckon you guys wouldn’t actually know how to start to take it easy (unlike myself, since I am now an expert in these matters!)…..now there’s a challenge for ya!!! I'm throwing down the gauntlet! :-)

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