Bye for a couple of days…

I was roused from my sleep at some stage in the night by a text arriving on my phone.
I registered that it was there but couldn’t quite wake to it.
Then a bit later – can’t tell you how much later now as I have deleted them! – another one arrived.
I woke to that one and it was my darling friend Cassidy, in America wanting to talk to me.
It was 4am!!

Anyway, I was awake then so I got up and called her.
She was getting totally confused with the time zones as she had recently gone from Texas to Florida, her Mum is in Hawaii on holiday and I am in New Zealand.
So I forgave her

We chatted for an hour and then she had to go feed her children lunch.
I was going to have a spa but Tim was snoring soundly so I decided to do some sewing.
I finished Mahalia’s pj’s except for the buttons which I will get in town.
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They are pink with white horses and hearts all over them. She is delighted with them.
And I got a heap of pants ready to patch.

By then Tim was up and motoring and was too busy for a spa so I eventually went out with my book and had one by my lone. The only problem with reading in the spa is that it fogs up my glasses so I have to keep clearing them.
Then I heard the wwoofers begin to arrive for breakfast so I high tailed it out of there to my bedroom and found some clothes and started to sort out what I am taking to town.

Tim and the 2 guys headed off in the boat to do mussel work for the morning.
Bernadette helped get Hali & Azzan’s clothes packed for town and Shanni pretty much did her own.
I did have to check through and send her back several times for vital things like pj’s and jackets.
Chi and Winnie made peanut butter biscuits – they turned out well. Bernie made a Mega Mud Puddle cake to send up to Waterfall with the troops tonight.

The guys got back just after midday so Tim and Nathan grabbed some food, loaded the ute & trailer and took off to Blenheim. They had a load of wool to deliver and then were heading over to Nelson for the night.

Graham has fixed the log splitter so he spent the afternoon supervising the guys chopping up more wood.
Winnie carried on with weeding the paths and Chi packed her bags and then raked the lawns for Cat.
Bernadette sussed out what she had to do with the birds, chickens, dogs etc while we are gone and she cleaned up the back paths.

Cat arrived back from work early afternoon and proceeded to make 2 delicious pumpkin pies for dessert.
I have finished my cleanse today and am gently approaching food again.
But I had to sample the pie – it was delicious.

The children are all sleeping soundly, I am about to go pack my bags and load them into the Safari.
We are leaving her no later than 5:30am so I don’t want to be late to bed.

We have a very busy day in town and then the wedding on Saturday.
I will come home Sunday with the 2 little people but Tim and the older ones are returning Saturday night.

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Wednesday – all day!

Today we were a hive of activity.

The girls spent a busy morning with me. Chi cleaned out a cupboard and then vacuumed right though the house while Winnie cleaned all the windows. It is so lovely to have sparkly windows again. Bernadette hung washing and then helped me with food prep. There was a little school work done at the kitchen table while I cooked. Nathan wrote a real good story – there was no stopping him He has never done that before so I was thrilled – so was he actually Shanni was doing maths – we will say no more!

Tim got the guys busy on the log splitter and then he headed over to Waterfall to do a delivery.
Unfortunately due to ignorance and not paying attention to instruction they stuffed up the log splitter good and proper. So Graham has had to spend all afternoon trying to fix it

Mahalia and Eden spent most of the day playing with the old baby’s buggy. They went round and round the house and section having a ball.
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Azzan joined in for some of the fun but would gravitate in for food quite frequently. Shanni has been busy outdoors doing whatever Shanni’s do outdoors – usually anything that revolves around chickens and pigeons.

This afternoon the girls all worked outside in the garden. Bernie was assassinating a rampant vine which smothers my kowhai tree every year and tries valiantly to get inside the house through any cracks it may find in the walls. The other two were weeding the paths. The worked until quite late. I had to send someone out to tell them it was nearly dinner time.

Azzan (5) has been posing some thoughtful questions lately.
“How do you know who is the right person for you to marry?”
and
“How come God doesn’t talk to us anymore like He did in the Bible?”

I managed to get the children in much earlier tonight so they had a spa before dinner and even had time to have some stories. Chi read to them tonight, but Azzan was not coping too well with her no knowing how to pronounce some of the words so Bernie sat in to help – quite a cosy cuddle it was for a while
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I had dinner more organised tonight – it was ready just as Tim walked in the door. How good was that-!!
I made a really yummy rice pudding from my Moosewood Cookbook. Man! I love that book. I was so thrilled to get an updated copy for my 50th birthday. My old copy is now 30 years old.

Cat thought she would be home early today but ended up not getting back till 5pm. She and Shanni went down to the shed and did some more work on the dinghy. Shanni is very excited as it will be ready for her to use tomorrow. She so wants to go fishing all the time but she is not allowed to use Nathan’s dinghy and got in for trouble using Cat’s one and not cleaning it properly. So hopefully this should solve her problems.

We are trying to get the trip to town streamlined. So I have spent today making lists and appointments. Now I have to leave home at 5:30am on Friday to get Cat to an appointment. She has to have her finger ultra sounded as there is a possiblitly that a kina spike is imbedded in there. It is very sore and kina are not the best things to leave inside your skin at the best of times but in a joint – well, let’s hope they can find it and deal with it for her.

Mondays gone but Tuesday is still here – just!

Monday the girls helped me with vege prep and then Nathan took Bernadette & Winnie up to Waterfall Bay to help Richard.
Chi helped me. She put clean sheets on beds at the Croft & Cottage and then cleaned the bathrooms.
The men spent all day chopping and transporting firewood. I think the two guys felt some muscles that night!

The children and I got back into the school room.
Azzan & Eden played, but Eden got a bit sad and wanted her Mummy. But it didn’t take much to side track her.
I took her over to sit with Azzan while he played Teddy Bears on the computer – she was soon giggling

Cat left for work at 3:30am and didn’t get home till 9:30pm. A long day for her.
Seb also started at 5am and finished around 10pm.
He had a good first day on the boat.

The children have been having a spa at night – it makes an easy bath at the moment while our plumbing is not working so well. And they love it.
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After the spa Bernadette was surrounded by children during story time.
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Today Cat had the day off so as soon as the girls had finished the general after breakfast clean up and vege prep they went off with her to work in the boat shed.
Bernadette loves our pumpkin – she had never had it roasted before. So I gave her the job of cutting the one for dinner.
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There is a bit of a knack to getting that knife in let alone get it out again-!!

They were painting so their hands and hair etc is all shades of blue and white now!
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I think they enjoyed the change from housework though.

Tim took the two guys over the back of the farm to begin building a pig trap. He is sick of wild pigs coming through the bush and plowing up our paddocks and killing young lambs.

The children and I did a couple of pages about NZ architecture – it was most interesting.
As I thought our architecture is very eclectic but is based on the European & Polynesian immigrants using their previous skills with new materials. For example Old Saint Paul’s is a Gothic design using timber. Also the Maori had evolved a particular building type, themeeting house, which is the only building unique to New Zealand.

The children and the girls all had lunch and then the guys returned later they had session 2 lunch.
I decided to make Tim some wheat free bread as he had just mentioned he had none left. So I mixed up 4 loaves. Then while they were rising Azzan came in and helped me make 2 batches of Sydney Slice. It was such hit the other day I thought I may as well make some more. Azzan was great with his measuring but I had to clean up a bit of a mess afterwards.

We cooked to the accompaniment of The Carpenters. Azzan really enjoys music and he is just beginning to get the lyrics sussed. He likes to know what they lyrics are and what they mean. He is fascinated by the words to Jambalaya (On the Bayou) – he loves the melody so I had to explain what all the funny words meant. Then I was singing along very intently to Close to Youand he wanted to know if it was true
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On the day that you were born
The angels got together
And decided to create a dream come true
So they sprinkled moon dust in your hair of gold
And starlight in your eyes of blue.

Well I was singing this to my special blue eyed boy so of course it was true wasn’t it?

When Rainy Days and Mondays started playing he wanted to know what it meant. So I said that some people didn’t like Mondays and rainy days for various reasons, to which he said disbelievingly – “But rainy days are fun”!

It certainly made for entertaining baking and scintillating and thoughtful conversations
I have hardly seen Eden and the girls this afternoon. They have been playing hard out in the tree house, only coming in briefly for food. In fact Eden never even came in much Hali got her food for her!

Azzan wanted to make one more thing from the Best of Kids Cooking book. He said I could make whatever I wanted as long as he liked it. So we agreed on a Lemon Slice. I made that and then spent the rest of the afternoon cooking all the baking and bread. I also stuffed a very large moki for dinner. It was one Cat had speared last time they were out fishing. I had to cut quite a big tail chunk off to fit it into the roasting dish.
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I finally sat down to have my bowl of soup at 4pm.
It was so good to put my feet up and read my book.
But as per normal when I have been working my butt off and have only just sat down – that is when people start coming in the doors wanting me to do things
I finally finished my book. It had gotten to the high tension part at the very end and I was getting rather annoyed at being disturbed
Deborah Challinor is a Kiwi author I have just recently discovered and I am really enjoying her books. This one was called ‘Fire‘ – she was inspired by one of New Zealand’s never horrendous tragedies, the Ballantynes Department store fire in 1947 which caused the loss of 47 lives.

I had everything done for dinner but the baking took longer than I thought so things weren’t cooked all together at the right time.
Cat & I also got wrapped up chatting in the study so I left dinner to Bernadette to get organised.
It happened – eventually! The pumpkin sort of came out as a late main course dish.
Dinner was busy and noisy as usual but everyone got fed and they were blessed also with dessert for the second night in a row. Pretty spoilt bunch I think

Anson called twice today – he is looking at extending his trip a few days so he can go sightseeing with one of the girls he is working with. She wants to go to Rome so as he said, they may as well get lost together-!! So I hope it works out for him to see a bit more of the country side before he gets home.

Seb text too. He is loving his new job. The guys he is working with are great and all sounds good. So we are very pleased for him.

Bri is back in NZ again but we won’t get to see her until Saturday. It will be great to have her home again for a while.

Tonight Alvaro was giving Chi guitar lessons…
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Chi is happy cuz I have found her a wwoofing placement with some friends of ours.

I am off to bed now – it is late and I am the only one still up – what’s new!!

“Sunday is the golden clasp that binds together the volume of the week”

I stayed cuddled up in my cosy bed for a while longer than usual this morning to finish my book and also to give the water time to heat up for my shower.
There are a lot of people using the hot water here at the moment and when the fire is allowed to die down after dinner and then the dinner dishes are washed and then several showers as well, by morning the water ain’t too warm

I was delighted this morning as I am now down to 71.4kg – yippee! Am feeling like I am actually making progress and getting near to where I want to be. My pre wedding weight 30 years ago was 66kg. I know that is too light for me now but I want to get a bit closer so I will plateau under 70kg.

Everyone was up and breakfasted by the time I was showered and dressed.
We cleaned up and then Bernadette, Chi & Nicholas decided to go for a walk to Waterfall Bay.

The rest of us enjoyed Sunday Fellowship with Graham. For once we actually got started on time at 10:30am.
It was really good. Alvaro & Winnie joined us too and Alvaro had some very interesting questions that made us all think.

We ended up having lunch in 3 sittings as the walkers returned as we were all finishing and then just as they had cleared up Ell & Grant arrived so they had soup too.

After lunch things got rather hectic.
Seb was packing up to head to work.
I was helping him gather enough food to see him through the week.
His idea of what he needed and mine were somewhat different – in quantities I mean!
He is such a gannet.
Mind you he does have a large frame to fill and when he is working he works hard.
Maybe next week when he actually has to buy all his food at the supermarket and he sees what it costs he might be a bit more restrained – I can see this could be a great learning curve!

At the same time Ella and Grant were trying to gather up their crew and pack up the van to head back home.
The children were just having too good a time though.
They loaded up and drove around to the top of the dog kennels and met up with Mahalia, Azzan & Eden.
The children had dragged branches and rubbish across the road to make a barrier to stop them from leaving.
Eden (4) did not want to go.
So after a little consideration Ella & I agreed she could stay till I go to town on Friday.
That made them all happy and after some quick good-bye hugs & kisses Grant – the ever patient dh and daddy was allowed to leave.

The wwoofers spent all afternoon out in the kayaks
It was a gloriously calm and clear day.
They had a great time and even caught some fish.

I spent the remainder of the afternoon in the study and also tonight, working on the gst.
I have got it practically finished – just have to email it to the accountant now to get it checked before finally filing with the IRD.

The children were so busy outside I never saw them at all.
They seem totally oblivious to the cold air.
Had to send someone out after dark to drag them in for dinner.
They should all sleep well tonight.

Well, Tim’s gone off to bed so I might just have to follow suit. It is getting jolly cold sitting here.
Another busy day looming tomorrow.

“You owe it to everyone you love to find pockets of tranquility in your busy world.”

I am feeling rather weary tonight.
It has been a busy day.

It was a bit chaotic getting the wwoofers organised this morning.
Tim had to be in 6 places at once.
He was finding meat for dinner, juggling vehicles, getting buckets and spades and trying to head out on the hills to muster sheep.
While we waited for him they helped get all the veges cut up for the stew for dinner.
But finally they were all delegated their jobs.
Bernadette gravelled the Cottage path and finished the gardening down there.
Chi spent all day cleaning the Terrano – man these vehicles aren’t going to know themselves – they are sooooo clean!
Nicholas helped Tim with sheep work.

The guys in the Cottage waited for their family to arrive in another boat to tow them home.
Tim got the sheep down and during the afternoon shore some of them – of course the three wwoofers all had to have a go
Ella & Grant came around before lunch.
It was rather a busy lunch table with 17 of us squeezing around it. We did send some of the children out onto the deck to eat in the sunshine.
All the soup got eaten so Ella spent the rest of the afternoon making another huge pot of pumpkin soup for me which was a real blessing.
She was reminiscing the whole time she was working in the kitchen – it didn’t feel that many years ago that she was living here as a young single girl working for me when I had little three girls underfoot – now she has 3 little girls underfoot (plus the 2 older boys of course).
Actually it must be around 24 years ago she came to live with us – doesn’t time fly!

Grant took Eli and and his wee friend Jayden fishing off the wharf – Eli was so proud of his fish, a large leather jacket.
He took it home to fry up for his dinner.
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Seb got some school work done – not quite enough for his mother’s liking but at least it is a start.
He has been offered a full time job with another mussel company – it is a trial week first beginning in Havelock at 5am. So he is going to go out Sunday and sleep overnight on the boat – at least that way he won’t be late for work!
It is a much bigger boat and way better organised and he works regular hours – 4 days on 3 off.
If he passes muster than he will be offered a 3 month contract so that would be great.
NZ Greenshell mussels are a huge industry here so there is any amount of work out there if you are prepared to get out there and do it. Cat is the only female employed that we know of working on mussel company boats.

Shanni & Hali spent most of the afternoon entertaining Eden and the twins.
First they played schools, but Azzan wanted to do it for real and got upset cuz Eden was taking his books.
Then the girls found a great way to occupy the two busy wee ladies.
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My old washing basket and a banana box proved to be great sleds as the towed Brianna & Ava round and round the living room.

Hali commented that – ‘it is really easy to make babies happy – you just smile at them and they smile back.’
To which Shanni very knowingly replied ‘I don’t know about that Hali, haven’t you ever seen a grumpy baby?’!!

I think I am getting out of the way of little people and messes. I coped alright for a while but once the two 6 year old boys arrived and the whole noise and boisterous levels increased ten fold I turned into a Boadicea and ordered all of them to clean up and then get outside to wear off their energy in the wide open spaces – they hurridly disappeared

I have spent most of the day in and out of the study.
I was getting paper work sorted and desperately trying to find some important papers that have gone missing.
I still have not found them but at least my office is much cleaner and tidier.

Alvaro from Chile and Winnie from Taiwan arrived around 4pm – they had gotten side tracked along the way so were much later arriving than they had planned. So they spent the rest of the afternoon exploring.

After dinner tonight Azzan asked Bernadette to read to him so she read umpteen stories to him and Mahalia.
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Of course there was more Amelia Bedelia

Tim was engrossed for quite a while with Alvaro and Nicholas talking over the atlas.
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And Chi and Winnie happily chatted their way through the enormous pile of dinner dishes.
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It is fun having a united nations team here – and none of them are from the same country for a change!

PS – my reference to Boadicea comes from our history lesson from Nathan tonight – she was the Queen of the Iceni who fought the Romans in Britain. A woman to be proud of!!

I am going to love and leave you all with a real good Kiwi joke that a friend just sent to me tonight – you may have to be a Kiwi though to get it

Communications:

“After having dug to a depth of 10 meters last year, British scientists found traces of copper wire dating back 100 years and came to the conclusion that their ancestors already had a telephone network more than 100 years ago.

Not to be outdone by the POMS, in the weeks that followed, Australian scientists dug to a depth of 20 meters, and shortly after, headlines in the Aussie newspapers read: “Australian archaeologists have found traces of 150 year old copper wire and have concluded that their ancestors already had an advanced high-tech communications network 50 years earlier than the Brits.”

One week later, Maori TV reported the following: “After digging as deep as 30 meters in his backyard in Te Kuiti, Hone Waiata, a King Country Kaumatua, reported that he found absolutely nothing. Hone has therefore concluded that 300 years ago Maori had already gone wireless.”

Okay! It is Saturday but I am talking about Friday.

We are having some lovely calm weather at the moment – only trouble is when it is calm it is usually cold – no wind to blow away the still damp cool air from the bush and it all comes and sits on the house – brrrrr.

Tim spent most of the day working on his boat trailer.
It was with the intent on getting our guest’s boat up so he could suss out the problem with the motor.
But in the end the guy is going to get his s-i-l to come down and tow him home today instead.
His s-i-l is holidaying not too far away from here and has his own boat so is more practical than getting the commercial guys to come all the way out here to take a look.
BUT – it does mean the boat trailer jigsaw is now completed – yaaaahooooo!

Bernadette and Chi spent most of the day cleaning the interiors of my Safari and Anson’s ute. They were both in a right state – they are probably so clean now they will die from shock! Didn’t get them to clean the outsides as by the time they have been driven up the drive on the next trips to town no-one would know they had been cleaned, so a waste of time.

The children and I motored through another morning of school work – all went well. Shanni wrote a really long story – she LOVES writing stories way more than doing maths. Not too sure if I will get the required stories from Hali & Nathan though – they have the ideas but not the proficiencies to get them down on paper so easily.

I allowed Seb to sleep in till close on midday as he had not arrived home till midnight. But then I dragged him out of bed and suggested he get himself sorted out. It took a while for him to come too and be part of the world but once he did he was fine. He actually got stuck in and gave the living area a big clean up for me which was lovely.

Ella & Grant came around to visit with the children after lunch.
The children had slept most of the way down so when they arrived around 11ish they woke and were all bouncing off the walls till around 3am!
Nicholas from Germany arrived on the mailboat. He had met Sarah in Havelock so of course she told him he had to come here.

Only thing was, he arrived into the midst of total chaos.
We were cleaning up lunch so I gave him food while the dishes were being done.
Tim still hadn’t come home from the trailer.
The girls went back cleaning the vehicles.
Ella, Grant and kids were here.
Then Cat text me about a TradeMe bid I was sposed to be putting in for her that I had forgot about and it was closing in 15 minutes – so I tore off to the study like a mad woman to try and load the site and find the item (not quick on dial up and even slower when you are in a hurry) – then the bidding went too high for her so that was a wasted exercise.
Then our wharf building fella arrived by boat and I had to spend the next few jours down at the wharf with him while we discussed what needed to be done there.
All the time wondering why Tim hadn’t come home to talk to him.
Then found out later that the message I had given Nathan to give to Tim several hours previously had not been delivered

Tim did eventually turn up so I left them to it and came back to the house in a state resembling an iceberg.
Ella & Grant had taken the twins back to The Croft and left the other 3 here with my children.
Shanni was kept busy keeping the two boys out of mischief – she’s pretty good at that

Bernadette is pretty keen on learning new recipes so I got her to make Mega Mud Puddle Cake with the little folk.
It is a brilliant recipe – makes heaps and is fun to do with the kids.
It is also dairy and egg free and can be used as a hot dessert and then cake the next day/s.

Azzan & Eden were helping with great gusto
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Eden really got into it big time so a wash up was required before she was taken back home.

Here’s the recipe for any of you who may be interested – it is one of our favourites – Cat always loves to take it to work in her lunch box
Look at the photos to see the size of pan it makes.

Mega Mud Puddle Cake

Into a large roasting pan tip –
6 cups flour
4 cups sugar
1 cup cocoa
4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Stir with lots of spoons held by lots of little hands until all mixed and no lumps.

Pour in with wild abandon –
4 cups water
1 1/3 cups oil
100 mls vinegar
2 tsp vanilla

More stirring, lots of sticky fingers.
Stir till resembles a big mud puddle.
Lick spoons and fingers.

Bake 180’C till cooked in the middle.

Can add raisins, choc chips, fruit, spices
Or replace cocoa with packet of instant pudding – butterscotch is great.
We often add a can of drained fruit – peaches, cut up – makes a nice pudding, then left overs great cold.
Eat hot straight from oven with milk, cream, ice cream, custard, etc.

Chi and our children walked Eden back home and then got back in time for dinner.
It was Day 5 of my cleanse and I must admit sitting down to watch the others tucking into a delicious meal of corned beef and veges was a bit much really. I LOVE corned beef
Tim did assure me that we have heaps more in the freezer so guess what I will be having next week??
I had a plate of tomato and capsicum soup so I was fine.
Shanni asked me if having soup all the time didn’t get a bit boring – but as it is only for 10 days I can cope.

I was cold and tired so when the guys put on a movie that didn’t interest me ‘Shooter’ I think it was called, I decided to hop into my bed with the electric blanket on and read my book.

This must be Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays.

It was a lovely mirror calm morning so Tim took Bernadette & Chi out to do some mussel work.
I had to crack the whip to get some certain wee people moving.
It is so much easier to play than to do their chores in the mornings
Eventually got them all into the school room around 10am.

Azzan did well today – was much more settled so he got some maths and other stuff done before being allowed to play a computer game – all our games are educational so no matter what he does it is ok .
Shanni did her maths but openly admits she is not a maths person.
She would much rather write stories.
She also had a lot of fun making her cover page for her unit study – she is definitely an arty girl.

Mahalia plodded away at her writing and is now finally caught up with the others.
She also did some maths but we flagged reading today.
Nathan is really enjoying his history – he is quite a history buff and has been educating Bernadette in Austrian and European history today!

After lunch Chi & Bernadette helped with preparing veges for dinner and then they walked around to The Croft to get it ready for Ella, Grant & family. They are arriving very late tonight and bringing Seb home with them.

The children spent most of the afternoon creating farms etc with Hali’s Belville Lego horses and Cuisenaire rods – they make great fences. I was about to get a photo of it all as it was covering half of the living room but they tidied up before I got my camera out.

I made myself a new batch of tomato soup. The pumpkin soup I made for me yesterday had too much cayenne in it so I added it to the other batch and then froze half of it.
I am managing to keep going on my cleanse. Lots of soup and fresh fruit smoothies. Very yummy and I really don’t get hungry.
I have to be all or nothing when it comes to having snacks.
Once I start snacking there is not a lot of stopping
I was going to do some gst but got side tracked finding pictures for the children’s school work tomorrow.

I spent a bit of time on the phone and internet trying to suss out what to do about Shanni’s eye problem.
Have now finally gotten her an appointment before we go to Wellington.
She gets really sore gritty hot eyes and can barely see sometimes. Only cold compresses help them.
It was suggested today that maybe she has Pterygium.
I did a bit of research about and the symptoms are definitely the same but it is apparently rare in children.
Anyway, we will see what the optomotrist says at the end of the month.

Shanni did some baking. She made Afghans and a ginger cake which she cooked in a loaf tin so it took longer to cook in the middle so is rather a darkish colour on the outside.
I am sure it will get eaten though – not a lot gets wasted around here with a house full of gannets!!

Then after 5pm when it was getting quite cool and dusk-like she decided they would all go for a walk. Bernadette went with them.
They really are a crazy bunch!
Inside when it is warm and sunny and out when it is cold and damp
Then on returning the children all hopped into the spa.

Azzan got out and into his pj’s and snuggled up on Bernadette’s knee for a story.
His choice was Amelia Bedelia – Bernadette had never read it before and was in stitches right the way through it.
Amelia’s literal way of translating instructions really appeals to the children’s bizarre sense of humour.
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I decided to do some baking too – got a few mouths to feed and more coming this weekend.
So I made several batches of flapjack and one of Sydney slice before dinner.

After dinner Tim popped the children to bed and then zipped around to the The Croft to make sure the fire was still going and the place was warm. I had a fun evening icing the baking and talking with the two girls
Seb should be home soon but I think I might just go hop into bed with a book – it is getting a bit cold sitting here and I am feeling somewhat weary.