Friday, December 30, 2011

A year in review

Because we will have people here tomorrow and I don't know what time I might be able to blog (and since many of you will probably be in party mode anyway and too busy to come and read), I'm going to do this entry today.

Wow, another year gone far too quickly.  I don't know if it is just that I'm getting older, or that our lives are busier or that time actually moves faster as the years go by, but I seem to remember that when I was a kid, it felt like forever before each year would end.  But here we are - about to say goodbye to 2011 and hello to 2012.

I thought I would do a "year in review" post - a reflection on what happened this past year.  Please click on the links of the blog entries I did before.  So here goes:

  • I found volunteering at the SPCA to be one of the most rewarding experiences ever.  Especially on this day (click here) with a follow up post (click here).

  • I learned that while I enjoyed planning both Caitlyn and Bianca's birthday parties (Bianca's especially because of the Harry Potter theme), 11pm is not a good time to find out your birthday cake creation has flopped (click here)

  • We had an amazing visit to the Wellington Children's hospital in October delivering craft kits and providing some entertainment (well Paul did the entertainment, I'm not so good with that...)(click here)

  • My mum received her residency!!!!  And the timing was just perfect.  In time for her birthday we received the letter saying she has been accepted.  In time for Christmas I received her passport back from Immigration with the residency sticker and I managed to take a photo and sent it to my mum and in time for New Years my mum has her passport back in her hand all ready to start her big adventure.  (click here).

  • It was a year of some friendships lost, but also some friendships gained. (click here).

  • Bianca did amazingly well in her cheerleading competition.  She definitely wants to continue this again.  (Click here).

  • Funrazor.  Definitely one of the biggest highlights of my year.  With emphasis on the word "biggest".  I have never done such a big thing.  And it wasn't meant to be this big thing, but it became this big thing the longer I thought about it and the more I planned.  I was very blessed because I had so many who helped make it a success. It was also the day Paul surprised me with an amazing song. When I wrote the words I never dreamt it could actually become a song.  Thank you again Paul. You are so talented! (Click here). (Go check out Paul's YouTube channel - he has some pretty cool songs on there). 

  • Bianca reached 2 years off treatment.  While she is still not officially considered cured, it is amazing that we have reached this milestone and every year off treatment that she reaches, the less likely a relapse will be.  Bianca is doing so well.  (Click here).

  • I started trying to write poems again.  I have actually created a space where I keep all of my attempts.  (Click here).

  • It's been a year of trying to get fit even though progress has been incredibly slow (click here) and I suffered a rather annoying injury (click here). 

  • Bianca's had an amazing year at school with an amazing teacher.  We could not have asked for better.  Sad that it's come to an end so very soon, but we feel confident we made some great decisions (with some guidance).  (Click here for my thank you post).  I would have shared the letter Bianca wrote to Paul, but she doesn't want me to put it on here.  Let me just say I thought it was an amazing letter, especially for an 8 year old!  Remember Paul, I have already booked you to be Caitlyn's teacher in 2014... ;-).
  • Caitlyn has had a great year at daycare too. She's learned to write her name and spell cat.  And this was the last year she was in daycare.  Now in 2012 she only has a few more weeks of daycare before she will start big school when she turns 5 on the 22nd of February.  She cannot wait.  My little girl is growing up way too fast :-(
    And that was pretty much our year in a nutshell I guess.

    What was your 2011 like?

    As a new year comes knocking on your door
    And your dreams excitedly soar
    Ready to take off, running ahead
    Looking for wishes that you said

    I wish for you a year of fun
    Dreams aglow just like the sun
    With love and hope around each bend
    No need a broken heart to mend

    I wish that you will dance and sing
    Fly like an eagle spreading his wing
    May good things happen every day
    May good friends join you on your way

    This year is waiting for you
    To make the best that you can do
    I pray that you will see
    How wonderful each day can be

    Wishing you all a wonderful 2012.  May the new year bring all that is good and beautiful on your way and may this year be your best ever!

    Thursday, December 29, 2011


    Argh.  I had this whole blog post done and pressed published and everything and... nothing. It's gone.  Okay fair enough it was not the most interesting sort of update (seems even Blogspot thought it was too boring to post). 

    Yesterday was a bad sort of day for me.  Not sure what was wrong except that "everything was wrong".  I should have just gone back to bed and got up later, but I had an early physio appointment and by the time I got back kids were up and I had to sort out their breakfast and start the day.  I feel rather sorry for Terence because I wasn't very good company.

    I managed to do my run / walk today and while going further than I did before, was slower than the physio would like.  And even though it started raining I still did it.  Can't say it is fun out in the rain, but at least it wasn't raining too bad.

    I can't believe that after all this time (we arrived in New Zealand in 2004) they are still showing Friends every single day on TV2.

    You know when we moved here lots of people said "sure...go...the grass is not always greener on the other side" but I can honestly say that the grass really were greener on this side.  Considering it rains so often I don't think there is any other way for the grass to be green ;-). 

    So what's been happening in your day?  Hopefully it was a bit more interesting than our day was.

    Wednesday, December 28, 2011

    To say what you feel
    Or pretend a bit more?
    Put a happy smile on
    And walk through the door?

    Not quite sure they'll understand
    The way it is today
    What really is the point
    To share and to say?

    Take a deep breath
    Remain standing tall
    Even if it's hard
    And you'd rather just fall

    Because tomorrow comes quick
    And brings along
    The sun and the breeze
    And cheerful bird song

    Tuesday, December 27, 2011

    Time to stop being lazy...

    Earlier today I decided it was time to stop being lazy, take advantage of the nice weather and I went out for a bike ride.  
    Image seen on Facebook recently

    I have forgotten how very unfit I am and nearly died in the process with every part in my body complaining, but I did manage around 23km (even if it took me a very long time to do), so I'm pretty happy about that. Don't know how I will eventually manage to go faster, but for now I guess the only important thing is that I'm actually doing it.

    Must say that it feels rather weird that today is another public holiday.  It keeps feeling like a Sunday when in fact it is Tuesday already.  And this week and next week is going to be strange too with Terence working from home.  I'm not quite sure how much work he thinks he will be able to actually do with the kids home at the same time (and I can see that he will probably hide out in our room for most of the time).  Although in saying that next week Caitlyn will go back to daycare so then it will just be Bianca at home for most of the week. 

    For most of it so far we've had another rather quiet day today.  Terence has taken the girls to the skate park and we're just doing a few chores around the house.  I think it is best that we take advantage of the quieter days because once school starts again it will become rather busy again I think.  

    But I'm rambling (can't help it if we're boring people) and so I'll stop writing now.  What did you get up to today?

    Monday, December 26, 2011

    A day of nothingness

    After yesterday today was simply a day of nothingness.  A quiet day where we all slept in (even the kids).  Am not surprised about that because the night before certain little girls only fell asleep past midnight and was up relatively early Christmas morning and last night again they didn't fall asleep as early as they should have.  And so we all slept in, had a late breakfast and just sort of hung out until our friends left around 11am.

    The only remotely exciting thing we did today was when Caitlyn and I went to see the new Alvin and the Chipmunks movie this afternoon (and Terence took Bianca to the skate park to try out her new roller blades) and afterwards it was time for Bianca and Terence to go see the new Tintin movie. 

    Hope your day was good too!

    Sunday, December 25, 2011

    Christmas Celebration

    Firstly I would like to apologise to all the children in the rest of the world.  Santa had to wait for our girls to finally fall asleep last night and finally managed to do his thing only at around 1:30am (yawn!).

    We started off our day skyping with my mum and we took the opportunity to open the presents she sent us all the way from South Africa.  Paul, I think you'll like this present my mum sent me :-)  I guess I'll now find out if it is indeed as easy as you say it is...

    And later on we had a quick Skype chat with Terence's family.

    The girls absolutely loved opening all their presents and were thoroughly spoilt with the presents they received from family, friends, Santa and us.


    Bianca was extremely excited that Santa finally brought her the cell phone she's been begging for.  I guess Santa thought since she is starting to walk to and from school all by herself that a cell phone might not be such a bad idea.
    And Maa,  Bianca loved the Times Tables chart that Mrs Clause sent her :-).


    Today we had some friends sharing the day with us.  There was Peter and Klara.  They are both from Hungary and Peter works with Terence.

    Then there was also Wikus and Suret and their daughter Melissa.  Suret and I were together at high school and it was only through Facebook that we discovered a few years ago that we both lived in New Zealand.

    Today was a lovely and relaxing day.  The Kapiti Coast put on a beautiful summer day with blue skies and lots of sunshine.

    We played a few games of Dominion.

    And Wikus had lots of fun playing with his present.

    Wikus was highly impressed with Terence's Tropical Fruit cider.  Terence's new hobby is to do home brewing.

    We decided to do a Christmas dinner rather than a lunch and Suret and I prepared our Christmas feast.  Wikus really liked the pumpkin fritters I made (which is a recipe my mum used to make) and I managed to make my grandmother's fridge tart.


    Of course we ate way too much so I'm thinking I'll probably have to do quite a bit of work on the exercise front from this coming week again.

    We have some tired little girls in our house tonight :-)

    Tonight Wikus and Suret and their daughter Melissa will be staying the night and right now we are just quietly watching "Oh Shucks here comes Untag" an old South African movie.

    We had a lovely day today.  I hope your day was lovely too!

    Saturday, December 24, 2011

    'Twas the night before Christmas...

    'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
    Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse
    Except two little girls as excited as can be
    Hoping that soon Santa they'll see

    The stockings were ready, milk and cookies put out
    Two little girls up and about
    Can hardly wait, the night dragging slow
    "When will Santa make his big show?"

    "Go to sleep now" said mum, "it really is late"
    "It's bed time" said dad, "I know it's hard to wait"
    "We'll wait up for him" the little girls said
    "Quietly here lying in bed"

    At some point the little girls drifted to sleep
    No more giggles, or talking or waiting to see
    'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
    Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse

    In our house tonight we have two extremely excited little girls.  It is now 11:35pm and the girls are still wide awake and can hardly wait for tomorrow morning.  Somehow I think this is going to be a very long night...

    Thursday, December 22, 2011

    Just a little message...

    I'm finally starting to catch up a bit.  Slowly but surely.  I feel horribly disorganised and most definitely not ready for Sunday.  Not yet anyway.  I guess it is going to be one of those "if it wasn't for the last minute nothing will ever get done" kind of moments.

    Terence doesn't have leave at the moment, but he is very much looking forward to working from home the days between Christmas and New Years and the following week which will again be a short week.  During this time they are replacing all the trains with buses as far as I understand and he was most definitely not looking forward taking the bus all the way to the city.  I'm not really sure exactly how much work Terence will really get done because next week both kids will still be home and the following week while Caitlyn will be going to daycare Bianca will still be home.

    Can you believe that it is so close to January already?  For most of it it should be a fairly quiet time for us.  Caitlyn will go back to Daycare from the 4th again (only for a month and a half about before starting big school).  And Bianca is looking forward to Camp Quality from the 17th to 22nd of January.  It is going to be a Harry Potter theme and Bianca cannot wait!  On the 11th we have her next hospital visit.  But I'm not worried about anything so am expecting it to just be routine more than anything else.

    Am not sure if I'll have much to blog about the next few days, so want to wish you all a very happy Christmas.

    And to those of you spending Christmas without your loved ones, will be keeping you in our thoughts and prayers.  This Christmas is a mixture of happy and sad for me - happy that Bianca is doing so well, that she is simply a normal little girl right now, but feeling really sad for the parents we've met (either in real life or virtually) who lost their kids to this horrible disease or whose kids are currently living on borrowed time. To you all - I pray that you will have strength and comfort during this time.

    Monday, December 19, 2011

    Snippets of our Monday

    • Yesterday we had a lovely time at the Johnsonville Swimming pools.  Terence's company booked it out from 3pm - 6pm and the kids had the best time ever!  

    • This morning I had to sort out fights and arguments three times between the girls (and we're only on the first day of the holidays...).  They love each other to bits, but sometimes they get on each others nerves.  And it didn't help that I was feeling rather flat this morning (thankfully they are old enough to entertain each other).
    • 6 Days until Christmas and I don't feel 100% ready yet.  Getting there, but not quite.  I better not be this disorganised again next year!  Are you all ready?
    • Today I got the most amazing Christmas present ever!  My mum's passport arrived back from immigration with the residence visa sticker inside.  By next year December she'll be here!!!   
    • This afternoon my friend Rose and her daughter came for a visit.  And we had a lovely time just catching up.  
    And that was pretty much our Monday, hope yours is / was lovely too!

    Sunday, December 18, 2011

    Today 12 years ago...

    On the 18th of December 1999 Terence and I got married.  Of course Terence says that if he was in jail for some of the other criminal offence he would have been out by now :-)

    Here are some photos.

    We used the flowers above the door after our wedding ceremony and took it along to the reception hall where we put it on the bridal table.  My dress was made by my mum and her friend.  I saw a picture in a bridal magazine that I really liked and my mum replicated many of the aspects including sewing hundreds of tiny little beads all over the dress.  My poor mum and her friend spent hours and hours over many weeks making my dress.  They did an amazing job!

     We made all our own invitations.  I found some really nice handmade paper from one of the local craft stores and this worked perfectly.  It was a big job making about 120 - 150 invitations and thankfully some of our friends jumped in and helped.

    I most definitely did not want a traditional little man and woman on top of our cake.  The restaurant where we held our reception had mostly an African theme we sort of went along with this theme.  My mum even made wine bottle covers looking like giraffes.  My grandmother baked the cake and my aunt decorated it to go with our African theme.  And I managed to find a lion and lioness to go with our cake (instead of the little man and woman).  Was a mission and a half to try and find a lioness ornament that did not have lion cubs with her.

    This was the song that played when we walked into the reception venue:

    This was the song that played for our first dance.  Or rather same words, same melody, but our song was faster.  Unfortunately I cannot find the faster version on Youtube. 

    Before we got married Terence and I both did some ballroom and Latin American dancing lessons.  So we learned to do some basic steps in the cha-cha, western swing, eastern swing, tango, rumba, samba, foxtron, waltz, merengue, boogie and mambo.  And one of the dances we were okay with was the eastern swing which is a faster dance, but with only a few steps we looked half impressive and so this is what we did for our first dance.

    Friday, December 16, 2011

    Last school day of 2011

    And so we get to the very last day of the school year.  In one way I'm happy because I find this time of the year things just become so busy and with the last day of school it means things will start slowing down (I hope) and I can catch my breath and reflect a bit on what's happened this year. But wait, I am not ready to do a whole reflection post (come back another time for that one).

    But while I'm happy the last day of school arrived for the above reason, am also rather sad to be honest.  Bianca had a fantastic school year this year in Year 3.  And I know it is all thanks to the amazing teacher she had. I wasn't quite ready for her to be done with this school year!

    Bianca absolutely loved Paul Forster's teaching style.  He had a way to bring out the best in Bianca.  And to be honest, I've never seen a teacher showing as much passion as he did for his teaching and for the kids that he was responsible for.  One of Bianca's favourite things of all time was glossary.  Suddenly this year she started thinking of different words to use and she would even insist we use them too.  And she's especially proud that she's learned to spell words like "inexplicabilities" and "circumstantialities" (and yes, Bianca is 8!!!). 

    Something that I will never forget was when Paul told me at the start of the year he is committed to ensure each child will have fun in his class and be sufficiently challenged.  And I thought to myself that I've never actually met another teacher who said this.  I was really really impressed!  Here was a teacher who wanted to make sure every single child in his class had opportunities to grow and to learn.

    And every afternoon as I sat there waiting for Bianca I could just see how much the kids loved Paul.  How excited they would get when he would bring out his guitar and they would sing together.

    We were incredibly blessed that Bianca had a chance to be in Paul's class!  I have my fingers very tightly crossed that in 2014 Caitlyn too will have the chance to be in Paul's class!!!

    Paul, thank you so very much for everything you did for Bianca.  You were (and are) an amazing teacher!  Bianca always tells me that you are the very best.  She wanted to give you something really special.  Something well deserved!  I hope you liked it :-)

    And finally am able to share this poem from me to you:

    For a year you were the world
    To the children in your care
    With the excitement that you showed
    And the passion that you shared

    You taught them the wonders of glossary
    And showed them math was fun
    You encouraged them to sing and dance
    When the day was done

    You found a special way to teach
    You always did believe
    That each child had just what it takes
    That they all should achieve

    They might not be good at everything
    But all children deserved the chance
    To keep moving forward
    Without a single backward glance

    You gave the children your everything
    You should feel incredibly proud
    I often heard how much it meant
    As they shared it out aloud

    Never again will they have
    The year they had with you
    From the very bottom of my heart
    Thank you for everything you do!

    Thursday, December 15, 2011

    Failed attempts

    I recently saw this on Facebook:

    Jip, I can relate to this...

    And last night I was thinking of exactly this when I was trying to make a batch of fudge and it flopped.  Not once, but 3 times!  Yes, I tried 3 batches.  Well 2 batches yesterday and the first batch a few days ago.  I thought this would be cool for Caitlyn to take to her teachers today as a little thank you present seeing as she won't be going to daycare for the next 2 weeks.

    Now I know that this was not me.  This is a recipe that I have made probably a hundred times to date.  So I could probably make it with my eyes closes, except perhaps not the best idea to stand in front of a stove stirring a hot batch of fudge while your eyes are closed.  It was my grandmother's recipe.  Now my mum will remember when we both worked for the same company years ago, the owners asked us if we could make fudge, they'll supply the ingredients and then sell it (yes, we were suckers for punishment) and so we'd make a batch, bring it in in the morning and then by the end of the day would be completely sold out.  So night after night we made fudge. 

    Recently I emailed the landlord because I'm sure there is something not quite right with the thermostat or something in our stove.  2 of the plates seem to get hot pretty quickly.  But what do I know.  So she sent some guy to come and have a look and (typical Murphy's law) it did everything as it should and I felt a bit stupid by the end because maybe I was wrong...

    But then the other day I put on a batch of fudge and because it takes a bit of a long time to make I get Terence to come and help me stir it from time to time and then suddenly Terence said that it was busy burning.  Sigh!  You leave a man in charge of your fudge for a few minutes and he burns it!

    So yesterday morning I thought I'd try and make another batch.  You know, double check that the heat is really low and that I continuously stir it.  And all was going well.  That was until about 15 minutes into the process and it started burning.  And it was on the very lowest setting too.  Took it off the plate and it was so hot that when I held my hand about 20cm above the plate it felt like my hand was burning.  So definitely something up.  Which means I will now have to get hold of the landlord again.  Although maybe this time I might try and do a video clip just to prove I'm not completely nuts.

    Now I'm not one for giving up. Those who know me will know I'm pretty determined and persistent ;-).  So last night I decided I will try one more time.  I would use one of the back plates that doesn't seem to give the same problems.  And so that's what I did.  Except initially I had it on low heat and it would just not heat up fast enough to the point that the sugar never completely melted.  I did turn up the heat in the end, but it took significantly longer to finally have it all finished.  For most of it it came out fine.  It set perfectly, tastes okay, but there is a definite "crunch" because the sugar didn't melt properly.  Sigh!  It is not supposed to flop!  And so I didn't send any of it to Caitlyn's teachers and got something else instead.

    So yes, finally I had had enough of making fudge for now.  I'll have to make it again when finally the stove is properly fixed. 

    Wednesday, December 14, 2011

    Just a fancy term

    Last night's run / walk session was really good.  I found a pace that was comfortable, it wasn't raining, wasn't too hot and I thought I did well.  I am mindful of going slow and gradually building up.  And have to say that I was really impressed that my leg has been feeling fine.  It hasn't been sore at all, not during and not after.  And so I felt sure that that must mean my regular date with my physio will soon be coming to an end. 

    This morning was my physio session.  And I proudly shared with him that I have been out running and that my leg has been feeling fine. No sign of pain anywhere.  Ha!  That was until he started using this little hand massager thingy and almost instantly... blinding, burning pain.  And he was all like "so obviously there must still be some inflammation".  And so I spent the entire 20 minute session flinching, crying out in pain, letting him know when a spot was particularly painful.  And after a while of listening to me saying ouch (I lost count how many times), he looked up, smiled ever so sweetly and said "you will tell me if it hurts right?". 

    So now I've come to the conclusion that 'physio' is simply a fancy term for somebody torturing another / inflicting pain and charging people money:-)  Yurri is good though - even if today's session was particularly painful.

    Tuesday, December 13, 2011

    Things I know today

    • This post was written for me (well not really for me personally as such, but many lessons I can take from it).
    • I hate last minute Christmas shopping and crowded shops.  And yet, I never learn.  Each year is exactly the same (sigh!).
    • This coming Saturday Bianca has been invited to the Pride Awards (along with Terence and me) and I have no idea what I am supposed to be wearing then.  I have absolutely no fashion sense and I absolutely hate clothes shopping. 
    • When you swim, don't forget to put your goggles back on.  Especially if you are wearing contact lenses as I found out at my last swimming lesson on Friday.  Usually I have to remind myself to open my eyes so I can see where I go and of course at one point after the instructor explained something, I lifted up my goggles because they fogged up a bit and then she told us to do 2 lengths of free style I think it was.  And as usual, as soon as I started I automatically closed my eyes, reminded myself to open them and [panic] realised that I was not wearing my goggles.  
    • Running in the rain is absolutely no fun.  I know on Wednesday the physio will be asking me what I have done and he won't be impressed if I said I didn't do anything.  So last night I sucked it up and braved the rain.  Wasn't too bad at the start, but by the end can honestly say that it is absolutely no fun getting wet when you run.  And in hindsight should have put contact lenses in because with the rain I could hardly see out of my glasses...
    How is your week going?

    Monday, December 12, 2011

    How do you fit a lifetime into a few weeks?

    I read the most heartbreaking story recently on NZ Herald's website.  Click here to read.

    Effectively the article is about a mum who was diagnosed with breast cancer 5 months after the birth of her son.  Now 2 years later she was recently told that she only had a few more weeks to live.  And my heart simply broke for her.  She won't ever get to see her son grow up.  She won't share the excitement of his 3rd birthday or the day he starts big school when he turns 5.  So many milestones she won't get to enjoy.  And her little boy will grow up not really having any memories of his mum.

    How do you fit in a lifetime in just a few short weeks?  When all of us run around like crazy trying to do last minute Christmas shopping, possibly complaining how busy we are, this mum is desperately trying to create memories for her little boy.  She is trying to give him her lifetime he will miss out on. 

    How incredibly heartbreakingly sad :'-(.

    Sunday, December 11, 2011

    Now I just feel old...

    Recently my cousin Murray turned 21.  Happy birthday Murray!  And so his mum (my aunt Shelley) posted on Facebook a whole bunch of photos taken through the years.  It seems a lifetime ago that this particular photo (below) was taken.  Well, I guess it has been 21 years ago, so really it is a lifetime ago!  I must have been about 14 at that stage.

    This photo was taken in Amanzimtoti in the Durban area in South Africa.  Every year we'd go and visit my grandmother who lived just around the corner from Uncle Nico and Aunt Shelley.  And usually we'd go in the June / July school holidays because Durban gets incredibly hot and humid in the summer.  I know it doesn't make much sense to people here, but that was the only time we ever got to spend time at the beach because we lived about 600km away at the time.

    Oh the memories this photo brings! 
    Front: Amanda (my mum), Ouma Ella [RIP] (my granny, my mum's mother), Aunt Shelley with Murray on her lap
    Back:  Eric (my brother), Uncle Leon [RIP] (my mother's oldest brother), Me, my cousin Dionne (or Deenie as we called her), Aunt Janice (who was married to Uncle Leon at the time), Cousin Leigh-Anne (Dionne's younger sister), Uncle Nico (Murray's dad and my mum's youngest brother)

    Saturday, December 10, 2011

    A busy Saturday

    Today was a long and busy day!

    At 10am we had to be at the CCF offices as they had booked a family photo shoot (this meant we had to leave home by 9am).  I think it is the Wellington Photographic Society who volunteered their time and offered to take photos of families for free.  Then later on we'll get some prints as well as a disk with the photos they took today.  We did this last year as well and we were so pleased with the results. 

    Because we needed to be in the city for 5:30pm for Terence's one work Christmas party, we had to find some other things to do in the city as we live an hour away and so we couldn't just come back home and back to the city again.

    So after the photo shoot we took the girls for a movie and we saw Puss in Boots.  And then had a quick lunch.

    We browsed around the one toy store as Bianca had to find a birthday present for one of the boys in her class whose party she has been invited to and then took the kids to the park and then the one shopping mall afterwards where they got to meet Santa!

    And finally it was time for us to make our way to Wellington Zoo where Terence's work Christmas party was held.  Basically his company booked the zoo from 5:30pm to 8:30pm.  They had food stations set up in different areas and of course we were able to see the animals.  We only saw a few of the animals as the kids got distracted by the entertainment that was organised. 

    I'd have to say these little ones are by far my favourite at the moment.  They are Pigmy Marmoset monkeys.  And they are really small, but oh so cute!  You can read about them here and here.

    And the rest of our zoo visit in photos!  If you click on the photos you'll get to see them a bit bigger!

    Friday, December 9, 2011

    Nearly the end of the school year

    It is exactly a week until the end of the school year for Bianca.  And while I'm excited for what next year will bring, am also a bit sad that Year 3 went so fast for her.  She had a fantastic teacher this past year.  We could not have asked for better!

    Today they put out the class lists for next year and it is now official, Bianca will be going to Year 5 next year and effectively skipping Year 4.  She'll be in a Year 5 / 6 class (they combine certain classes here) and today Bianca got to spend a little bit of time with her new teacher.  She is very excited. 

    It was also really exciting to see Caitlyn's name on the Year 1 list for next year even though she'll only start on the 22nd of February when she turns 5.  Just the other day Caitlyn wanted to know when her school visits will start and she is pretty excited that one of the little boys with her at daycare will also be in her class next year.  I took Caitlyn to go and see her new class and she suddenly became all shy :-).  So hard to believe Caitlyn is actually starting big school next year!

    Thursday, December 8, 2011

    A recipe

    I don't have a specific blog entry in mind for today.  I suppose I could write about working on a specific project (but you'll have to wait for specifics).  Or that just last night I heard the most beautiful 2 songs that was sent to me.  Or that Bianca wrote the most amazing letter today (I'll share it next week some time).  Or that this really freaky stick insect sat right by the door as I was about to go out (and I don't do well with things naturally born with 6 feet or more).  So I suppose I could do a bullet point kind of entry.  But instead I thought maybe you'd like this recipe that a friend on Facebook shared.  Thanks for sharing Lauren :-)  So to quote her, here goes...
    Once again this year, I’ve had requests for my Tequila Christmas Cake recipe so here goes. Please keep in your files as I am beginning to get tired of typing this up every year! (Made mine this morning!!!!)

    1 cup sugar
    1 tsp. baking powder
    1 cup water
    1 tsp. salt
    1 cup brown sugar
    Lemon juice
    4 large eggs
    1 bottle tequila
    2 cups dried fruit

    Sample the tequila to check quality
    Take a large bowl; check the tequila again to be sure it is of the highest


    Turn on the electric mixer. Beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl.
    Add 1 teaspoon of sugar. Beat again.

    At this point, it is best to make sure the tequila is still OK. Try another cup
    just in case.
    Turn off the mixerer thingy.

    Break 2 eegs and add to the bowl and chuck iin the cup of dried fruit.
    Pick the fruit up off the floor.

    Mix on the turner.

    If the fried druit getas stuck in the beaterers, just pry it loose with a

    Sample the tequila to test for tonsisticity.

    Next, sift 2 cups of salt, or something.

    Check the tequila.Now shift the lemon juice and strain your nuts.

    Add one table. Add a spoon of sugar, or somefink. Whatever you can find.

    Greash the oven.

    Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fall over.

    Don't forget to beat off the turner

    Finally, throw the bowl through the window.
    Finish the tequila and wipe the counter with the cat.

    Wednesday, December 7, 2011

    It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

    Last night we finally got round to putting up the Christmas tree.  The girls were so excited and had great fun decorating the tree.  And this year it was Caitlyn's turn to add the star to the top of the tree.

    Tuesday, December 6, 2011


    Do you think I cannot see
    What is beneath your eyes?
    That what you say is not always true
    But sometimes only lies

    I think sometimes it's easier
    To pretend and hide behind
    The walls that are around your heart
    Not to share what's on your mind

    I think it's sometimes simpler
    To wear a happy mask
    Than face the fears and demons
    Answer the questions some might ask

    But when the day is over
    And there's no-one else to see
    Surrounded by the darkness
    That's when you'll simply be

    Monday, December 5, 2011

    A question

    I've been trying to come up with something interesting to blog about, but I've not managed.  It doesn't help that my head is feeling all blocked up thanks to the cold I have and that the day outside is rather grey and rainy, so instead I will share with you what I found.

    One of the blogs I like reading because it is so thought-provoking is this one (click here).  And in their latest blog entry they ask a whole range of questions to get you thinking.  To help you reflect and find more meaning.  I never realised it, but they seem to have a whole blog dedicated to these kind of questions (click here).  And because I don't feel all that inspired today, I'll share this one with you that I saw on this new blog I found:

    Photo taken by Kaptain Kobold.

    I think this particular question is rather relevant for this time of the year when we start slowing down (or will soon) and reflect upon a year that has simply flown by and a new year just around the corner.

    For me 3 positive things that happened this year:

    • While I had a few disappointing experiences on the friendship front, I have made a few really good friends.  And for me quality is far more important than quantity!
    • My mum's immigration process.  This has to be one of the highlights of my year!
    • Doing things like Funrazor, the hospital visit and volunteering at the SPCA and CCF.  Giving a little bit back and trying to make a difference was an extremely positive and rewarding experience for me.  With Funrazor it was amazing to see a community coming together and be part of it.
    I'm sure there's more, but these 3 stand out for me.

    So what are three positive things that happened to you this year?

    How about you go through the list, find a question that stands out for you and share your thoughts!

    Sunday, December 4, 2011

    What a day!

    At 9:30 Terence and Caitlyn left to catch their train - first to Coastlands Mall and then to Porirua and from there a bus to Adventure School in Whitby where they had the CCF Christmas party.  Bianca was hugely disappointed that she would be missing out. 

    Here is some of what Caitlyn got up to:

    At the same time Bianca and I went to the Kapiti Gymnastics hall where it was the gymnastics / cheerleading display and award ceremony. 

    I found the morning session particularly full on as I sat there with my stuffy / runny nose and my head feeling rather sensitive surrounded by a large group of noisy kids (including some pre-schoolers) and their parents.  Bianca's cheerleading group did their routine and then Bianca's gymnastics group also did a bit of a display of some of the things they've learned all year long.  And afterwards she was awarded a "badge" award with a score of 8.7 that she received when they did assessments during the year.

    The cheerleaders stayed on at the end of the morning session to prepare for their afternoon session and I quickly came home for a little bit.

    The afternoon session was mostly for the more competitive gymnasts as well as all the cheerleaders.  The 4 cheerleading teams each did another display and then it was their prize-giving.  And Bianca received a trophy and certificate for having the best attitude in the Kapiti Rays team.  

    Being called up to collect a cheerleading award

    Feeling really proud!
    By the end of the ceremony Bianca and one of her cheerleading friends decided they want to do a cheer / dance "duo" at the competition next year (so I guess we'll definitely be going to Auckland again next year).  Will have to speak to the coach and find out how that will work.

    One of the other mums decided yesterday it would be nice for the girls to give something to their coach and so last night I quickly helped make the certificate.

    The other mum organised a special trophy and some flowers.  And so today at the end of the awards ceremony the girls gave this to their coach who was very surprised :-). 
    Thank you, Coach!

    Looking at the schedule for Bianca for next year it would seem she's going to be fairly busy - Monday (5:30) gym, Tuesday (5:00) swimming, Wednesday (4:30) cheerleading and once the netball season starts then that will be on Saturday mornings.  In one way it is good that cheerleading is now going to move from a Saturday afternoon to a Wednesday because it does mean a less busy weekend, but I liked that my Wednesdays were not as rushed.  And who knows what activities Caitlyn will want to do once she starts school in February...

    Saturday, December 3, 2011

    Not feeling so great today

    Oh joy!  I have picked up a cold and have not felt the greatest today! 

    I'm surprised my arms are not killing me today - at yesterday's swim lesson the coach really worked us hard and she ended up making us swim around 50 lengths of the pool.  10 of those lengths she timed us, and while it was hard work, I felt pleased that I managed to maintain my time.  I had to laugh at one point when she told me that it looks like I'm pretty fit and I am most definitely not very fit at all.  I think the only thing that drives me is my fear of failure and that I don't want to be the slowest in the class. And of course the faster I try and swim, the quicker I get to the other side and the longer I can rest (or something like that...).  She did confuse me at one point when she wanted us to count all our strokes.  Now up to now I'm used to the whole 1, 2, 3, breath kind of routine and so when she made us count all our strokes I started off well, but then suddenly I would realise that I forget to move my arms, or to kick, or to breath and then forget to keep counting.  Sometimes I'm not very good at multi-tasking. 

    This morning Caitlyn and Terence went to Caitlyn's daycare Christmas party somewhere in Raumati and she had a great time playing at the park and going on the little train and playing with her friends.  Until the man in the red suit arrived.  And then she freaked out and cried and cried until Terence assured her it is fine and that he would get her present on her behalf and that she would not have to go to Santa.  She's never been terrified of Santa before...

    Then this afternoon Bianca had her second to last cheerleading practice for the year.  Can't believe it's been a whole year already!  And she's made such progress!  She definitely wants to continue with this again next year.  Tomorrow is their prize giving / end of year display and Bianca is very excited for this, but very disappointed she'll be missing out on the CCF Christmas party.  Caitlyn and Terence will go and Caitlyn is very excited as they'll be taking the train / bus to get there.  The way I'm feeling tonight am pleased it won't be me being stuck on a train / bus to be honest!

    And that is pretty much our Saturday in a nut shell.  What did you get up to today?

    Friday, December 2, 2011


    Isn't this just the cutest little person?

    So tiny and small and curious about the world around her.  She has the cutest little smile in the last photo.  And such big bright eyes in the middle picture.  Let me tell you a little bit about her...

    I don't personally know her.  Have never met her.  I stumbled upon a blog (which I will link to soon) where I got to "meet" her. 

    This little girl's name is Katie or Katerina.  She is 9-and-a-half.  That would be 9-and-a-half years, not months.  Yes, I know it seems unbelievable!

    Here is Bianca.  She is 8 years old.  Spot the difference?

    Katie weighs around 10 pounds, 9 ounces (4.7kg) and is 29 inches (73.66cm) long. Her foot is 4 inches (10.16cm) long, her upper thigh circumference is 5 inches (12.7cm), her upper arm circumference is about 3 inches (7.62cm).  She is tiny.  To give you an idea - Caitlyn was 10 pound 7 when she was born.  How did this little person become the tiny whisper, a tiny little bird that she's become? 

    From birth she was "dumped" into an orphanage somewhere in Europe - I don't actually know which country to be honest.  I imagine she was thrown away because she had Down Syndrome (as it often happens).  When she was "found" she was confined to her cot day in and day out, taken out for bottle feeding and nappy changes and that was pretty much it.  This child was never loved, she never received any stimulation, very little interaction and was severely malnourished.  Just recently this tiny little whisper of a child was rescued and adopted by a family in the US.  They have a long road ahead of them and I imagine the process will be incredibly slow.

    Just imagine what she could have been if she was loved from the start!  I hope this little girl will learn to trust, will learn to feel safe and loved and wanted and cared for.  She must have an amazing fighting spirit to have survived the conditions she did for so long.

    It breaks my heart to know that there are children living like this day in and day out.  I look at my kids and yes, sometimes we feel a bit frustrated when they keep arguing or fighting.  But I cannot ever imagine subjecting my kids to the conditions Katie had to live with for 9 and a half long years!  It absolutely breaks my heart!

    Today when you see your kids, give them an extra hug, tell them you love them and when they've gone to sleep, quietly tuck them in and whisper that you care for them.  Because when you look at the photos of Katie, it is heartbreaking to know the damage it can do when a child is neglected and not given any love!

    To follow Katie's journey click here.

    Tiny whisper of a child
    Alone for so long
    Never hearing a soft voice
    Or a sweet and gentle song

    Stuck alone there in a cot
    As each day changed into night
    Every day slowly passed
    To simply live, you had to fight

    Cannot imagine how anyone
    Could look into your eyes
    Throw you away
    Despite your tiny cries

    An angel softly came 
    She rescued you that day
    When she first saw you
    She was committed to find a way

    Tiny whisper of a child
    The road ahead is long
    But you are cared for and loved
    I pray that soon you'll sing a happy song!

    Thursday, December 1, 2011

    Our babies are doing well

    How was your day?  Did you do anything special?  I did.  I worked a bit on something that I think came out pretty good. Not 100% as perfect as I was hoping, but I'm pretty happy with how it came out.  Especially considering I've not done this before and relied on a YouTube tutorial.  I'll have to share pictures really soon!

    This morning Caitlyn wanted to know how many more weeks until her birthday.  She was horribly disappointed when I told her that there was still about 2 months to go.

    One thing I love about the Christmas season is Christmas songs!  It irritates Terence no end because he doesn't really like Christmas songs (actually I don't think he likes most of the music I like listening to), but they bring back such memories for me.  Do you like Christmas songs?

    This one in particular really brings back memories, I must have been about 10 when I heard it the first time