Friday, December 29, 2006

Our third upside-down Christmas Day was a very relaxed affair; the first half spent at home and the second half at Emma & Dan's, along with some of Emma's family over from the UK and Helen and Paul (Emma met them when she worked in the physio dept but, in the small world we live in, Helen also lived with my sister, Katy, when they were at uni in Cardiff!).
Matthew did seem to enjoy opening his presents and was more intrigued with his new toys than I expected (lots of people told me he'd only be interested in the wrapping paper). It took us a while to open them all because so much of a day is eating and sleeping! And there are more presents to come because we are still waiting for parcels from the UK (I feel very sorry for Elisabeth who, having posted a parcel surface mail last year which didn't arrive 'til mid-January, decided this year to post it air mail and it still didn't arrive on time) - so Christmas will be an extended affair this year.
Christmas food was very different with a whole salmon (expertly barbecued by Dan), cold ham (which honestly could have fed an army) and lovely salads and bread. We also had a chocolate truffle cake for Christmas cake which was amazing! We ate outside, though in typical English style; actually it was quite chilly but we had to eat out because we could and it should have been warm!

The one frustration of the day (which continued into Boxing Day) was difficulty with technology in trying to make contact with family at home. When we could get through on the phone, after several attempts, the connection only lasted a few seconds. The internet was not much better and when we tried to use the webcam it crashed.

The rest of the week has been very quiet and relaxing. The weather has been much warmer so we've been for a picnic and walks and generally enjoyed time to read and play with our new toys (and that's not just Matthew!).

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas!

It's 1am and I've just got back from Midnight Mass and as we've just entered Christmas Day (and we're some of the first around the world!) I thought I'd send greetings! And also a couple of photos - our family Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve (because we're being Kiwis tomorrow with bbq etc) and Matthew with his stocking! Anyway, have a good one and lots and lots of love xxx. Off to play Father Christmas now...

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Christmas Proper

Yesterday it was 30 degrees here and Matthew couldn't sleep because he was too hot. Today the wind has shifted from the north west to the south west; it's blowing a gale and absolutely pouring with rain! Neil has lit a fire and is out for the evening so the only thing for it is for me to put on my cheesy Christmas music and wrap presents. Everybody else is probably very ticked off with the weather but I love it! It makes me feel much less homesick and it's just the kind of weather there ought to be at Christmas!
Matthew is also getting into the spirit of Christmas and is obsessed with our tree. He's a little like the squirrel in Ice Age who is in pursuit of the acorn; he looks at where the tree is, appears to think out his route and then rolls - back to front, front to back, left to right, right to left (a skill perfected over the weekend) - and pushes himself however he needs to in order to reach those very pretty beads that hang nicely from the lower branches! Then, very cruelly, Mummy or Daddy swoop down and scoop him up - denied! I have a great little movie of it and if I ever figure out how to post it you can have a look but, for now, here are a couple of photos of his brief moments of triumph!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Youth Weekend Away

Just back from taking some of our youth on a weekend away to Hanmer Springs, a thermal resort about 90 mins away and we had such a fantastic time that I had to blog about it immediately (otherwise Christmas will be upon me and I'll be consumed by presents and food!).

So Sam (just finishing his breakfast in the photo!), Tim, Dan, Monique, Kirsten, Mel and Jaimee joined us in the rather large bach that we stayed in with Alastair and Helen and co when they were here in October.

The lads slept downstairs, the Shepherds on the middle floor and the girls had the top floor - though not sure the girls got a huge amount of sleep!
Our aim for the weekend was to hang out and deepen friendships by hearing one another's stories and by listening to what God had to say to each of us. This was all linked wonderfully together by food, silly songs, Cranium, street cricket, bedtime stories and the hot pools (which I appreciated far more today because the weather was dreadful). Matthew had lots of fun with different faces to entertain him and lots of cuddles! He also loved the pools - just a big bath really!

Anyway, our aim for the weekend was achieved and it wasn't for me but I feel totally blessed and encouraged by them all. They are fab!

Thursday, December 14, 2006


Plunkett is the association responsible for looking after children under 5 years old and their families. When your baby is about 3 months old they get the mums together and have structured sessions on things like CPR, active movement, first foods. Then they encourage you to continue to meet together for mutual support. Some groups gel and work out (Carolyn's group are still friends and meeting up and her daughter is now 5 years old), some don't. Anyway, ours has been together for 2 whole months! We've been meeting fortnightly but still at the stage where we just talk about what our babies are doing - really gripping stuff, though it's amazing how much we can talk about teeth and sleep and poo! A couple of us suggested that we'd porbably get to know each other better if we met up every week so yesterday we went to the Blue Rooster (my favourite cafe, though they've changed the loyalty card so you have to buy 10 coffees/hot chocoltaes to get one free whereas it used to be only 5!). We totally took over the bar area and decided the huge leather sofas were just a good size to line our babies up and take a photo.

So here's our Plunkett group: from left to right - Tessa, Finlay, Braedan, Emma, Matthew, Ruby, Bradley and Evie!

Ah - how cute! What you can't see is that we had to give Matthew a toy because he kept hitting out at Ruby and you may spot Bradley pulling on Ruby's neckerchief - he wanted to suck on it and go to sleep! Poor little girl - she got the worst spot to sit! Finlay was very tired and about to lose teh plot and Emma nearly slipped and lay down chewing on her feet! Can you imagine the carnage when they're all moving?!

Santa Parade

Every year there is a Santa Parade along the main Rangiora High Street. Some of the floats are more festive than others (if you're interested see our friend Charlotte's blog and this year our church entered as a walking group 'telling' the nativity story. Neil was an innkeeper, I a shepherd and Matthew a sheep! Matthew didn't seem too impressed and slept all the way so won't be scarred from wearing the little ears and outfit! Here he is with two gorgeous girls from church, Hannah and Grace.

He kept himslef amused by shaking the sleigh bells - maybe he thought it may drown out the bagpipes band marching just ahead of us!

The 'float' looked great with rickshaws decked out as camels and a stable and a host of angels, wise men and a star - such a success we won first prize!

The Christmas season is in full swing and we had the youth Christmas party on Sunday night. It was an 'S' party (because it's the youth gathering has been Sunday @ Six) so we had Star Wars characters, a stocking, Santa, soccer player, special agent, something and something else! We also had a sausage sizzle and played Singstar (Neil and I sang Dexy's Midnight Runners - Come on Eileen; we had no idea the words were quite as dodgy as they are!). Lots of fun was had and it was a great way to end the year.

Fresh Air

On the last couple of Fridays we have been out walking with Matthew in the back pack. He absolutely loves being carried up high - he's the king of the castle - and he chats and giggles constantly (until he falls asleep!). In this part of the country you can either go for a stroll around the town or local park or go on a mammoth 3-6 hour tramp. There aren't gentle ambles between villages (and their local pubs) and along footpaths through farmer's fields. But we have found a few hour long walks in the local mountain forests which are really lovely, though can still be hazardous (Neil prefers 'adventurous') when trees have fallen and blocked the paths and we're trying to duck or climb over with a baby on our back - good job Matthew had a hat on is all I can say!

The beach is another favourite place to visit. Last week it was quite windy but the recent mixed weather (mixed putting it politely - it is so still spring here and not summer) had resulted in the tide bringing in an abundance of fantastic driftwood and somebody must have had fun building a tee-pee.

(PS: If anybody can instruct me on how to post two photos side by side without them touching I'd really like to know!)

Sunday, December 03, 2006


Scott is one of our fantastic youth who Neil regularly spends time with - usually having milkshakes with him after school. Neil also gives him a lift home after Sunday @ 6 and tonight Scott called in to wait for Neil whilst I was updating the blog. He insisted that I mention him and so we decided the best way for me to do that was to post his picture. He wants me to say that he's very good looking and he was very pleased with the photo as it shows his best side!

Step into Christmas

I'm not usually somebody who puts the Christmas tree up as early as is reasonable (when I say reasonable I mean the beginning of December NOT the beginning of November like one house in our town) but this year December 1st it was. There were a number of reasons for this; the first is that it was very cold and miserable and we had to light the fire (in spite of the fact it's the first day of summer!). It still does not seem right to me to have Christmassy things happen in warm weather and on light evenings so the opportunity to decorate the house in 'traditional' Christmas weather could not be missed. The second factor was that my sister, Sally, had sent us two parcels full of Christmas presents which really needed somewhere to live for the next three weeks and where better than under the tree? The third factor was that I have recently accquired a cheesy Christmas album (from the church garage sale so didn't spend lots of pennies - well cents - on trash) so that was in place to add to the atmosphere. Neil was not impressed with the latter at all but Matthew seemed to giggle while I danced round the room with him - he was probably thinking his mother is barking mad.
Anyway, I have included a picture but it's not very clear because by the time the tree was decorated we were all roasting as the sun had come out and was streaming through the window - you couldn't even tell there were any lights on the tree!


A YWAM (Youth With a Mission) team have ben serving at our church over the last week and two of the team members, Hannah and Sarah, stayed with us during that time. It was lovely to have them around; they introduced us to falafels and baby sat for us so we could go to the cinema - the first time since Matthew was born! Matthew thought it was wonderful to have more people around to smile at but it also meant that the last three nights he's ended up in our bed because we didn't want him to disturb them. I do hope he's not got too used to it...

Friday, December 01, 2006

Birthday 'Treats'

Last week we went out to celebrate Carolyn's birthday. Carolyn is a great friend who has been especially helpful concerning all things 'mum'; she bequeathed to us many essential items including cloth nappies and a sheepskin rug (for chilly NZ floors), she was a source of tremendous encouragement when breastfeeding was a nightmare, she was the first one to get pillows and cushions behind Matthew to encourage him to sit up (Neil and I had been saying to each other "How do you think he learns to do it - does it just happen?!") and Matthew always has a big grin for her. Eighteen months ago Carolyn was diagnosed with cancer; she continues to fight bravely and we continue to pray for her healing so it was really good we could join her on her special day and eat cake!
While we had our cake and ate it, Matthew was trying a different delicacy. Another gorgeous friend, Lisa, had spotted the sand pit and thought Matthew needed initiating into this new world - her theory is if boys (and probably girls too for that matter) come in grubby and caked in mud and sand they've obviously had a really good day! Well, he was certainly intrigued, enough for it to take a good few minutes before he decided to take the taste test.