Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Handmade Christmas Gifts

We have a $5 limit on gifts that the girls purchase or preferably make for us and each other for Christmas. There is so much pressure on people at Christmas to give these fantastic gifts that are often expensive (cause let's face it, what isn't expensive!) and we don't want them getting caught up in that. We are trying to instil in them that it is not about how much something costs but the thought and effort that goes into the gift.

Bearing that in mind, Agent Smelly made a cushion for her sister's bed in her favourite colours with the words DANCE across it ... I think she did a great job!  It also didn't cost her anything, except time and effort as she purloined everything from my craft cupboard ... haha

The Fashionista made Agent Smelly a wee purse which looks very funky.  Same amount spent by TF, i.e. Mama's craft cupboard! 

The girls needed some sunnies so at the last minute I grabbed a couple of cheap pairs ($4 from a local cheap store) and made little sunglass covers for them. They came out so well, even the Papa was impressed, and I have now made myself one for my sunnies. Also in true parenting style, I made them Christmas Eve ... nothing like leaving things to the last minute is there.

The girls both made me some pretty awesome decorations for my tree. Sadly in my haste to clean up post Christmas I packed them away without photographing them ... mummy fail!

Do you make gifts in your own home? My ambition in 2015 is to make more gifts for the people I care about.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Day 2014

The hubby is working today, so Christmas has been delayed in our house until the afternoon. The Papa is working until 1.30pm so no gifts will be exchanged until he gets home.

We girls stayed up late last night (Christmas Eve), deciding we'd have a nice sleep in ... sadly I forgot to let mad dog know who was on my bed at 7am shoving a wet slobbery ball into my neck. Which somehow ended up nestled between my boobs ... got to laugh, stupid playful mutt!

We had a late breakfast so that we could hold out for a late roast lunch with the Papa. We had roast ham (which I had cooked the day before) and roast vegies. We kept it fairly low key which ended up being just the perfect amount. Enough for some left overs, but not enough to have to keep eating it until we are sick of it.
Due to so much going on, me being pretty much out of action, and so much being packed away for the shift (whenever that may happen!) I decided to forgo the Santa sacks (that I made a long time ago) and individually wrap all the girls gifts. Usually they go unwrapped into their sacks. Well The Fashionista was quite upset at this thought so a couple of days before the big day, the Papa climbed into the roof of the garage and finally found the right Christmas box that has all the Christmas linen and their Christmas sacks. The things you do to make your kids happy!
The Fashionista received a mobile for Christmas. She will be travelling a fair way to and from high school and so we got her one for safety sake (and my peace of mind). She was pretty happy you could say. Unlimited texts ... what was I thinking!
Agent Smelly is completely Hunger Games obsessed. She has been making her own bows and arrows so the Papa went and got her a proper one from an archery shop for Christmas. To say she was delighted and surprised is an understatement! 
The ma-in-law and entourage (her sister and brother who is staying with her for a couple of weeks) came up late afternoon with afternoon tea in toe and we spent a lovely hour or two with them.
It was touch and go as to whether I would make it through the day without having to head into the hospital as the wound in my belly button split the night before. It was quite swollen and bleeding slightly and I had a bit of a fever, but I managed to get through the day which is what I was trying to do. I have every reason to be very thankful this Christmas.
Merry Christmas Everybody.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Agent Smelly's Black Eye

We had our Kiwi Family Christmas picnic yesterday. We have it near the beach at a wonderful national park. We all bring food and  take games along for the kids and adults to play. If the weather isn't too bad we even have a dip ... well usually just the kids do.

Whilst the girls were playing swing ball / totem tennis, The Fashionista accidently hit Agent Smelly with her plastic racket which we heard about on the way home, again and again and again. It was nearly a 2 hour trip so you can imagine! She was bucking for sympathy and for us to stop and get her some KFC (which she didn't get as Mama has gone vegetarian!) 

Apparently not enough sympathy was shown so she thought it necessary to get up early this morning, pop eye shadow around the side of her head and eye where the racket apparently connected and freak the shit out of her sister! Even Daddy fell for it too.

I was fortunate enough to have a lie in, so when I saw it later that morning, I just cracked up laughing ... much to daddy and The Fashionista's horror. Until I pointed out to them, that it was simply eye shadow!

Agent Smelly was quite proud of herself ... the evil, little monster! She had them going all morning, feeling worried, getting her breakfast and running around after her. Where does she come up with ideas like this ... am still laughing later in the day.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Post Traumatic Concerts Syndrome

Well as anyone with kids who have recitals, concerts etc. knows there are certain times of the years that are just cah-ray-zeeeee busy! 
Thankfully our manic period has just passed. Monday to Wednesday we had rehearsals every night and then concerts on Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday before lunch and Saturday night ... WOW!  Each time it was a 75km return trip ... 'noice' on the petrol costs too.
The Fashionista's dance school actually runs two separate types of concerts. Two of the concerts are for the ballet only and it is a 2 hour show based on an actual ballet.  In the 1960's Mr and Mrs Draper were RNZB ballerina's (Mr D also danced with international groups), so there is a special emphasis given to ballet. This years ballet was Peter Pan. The Performance group mainly stars in it, splattered with dances by the different ballet grades. TF's class did the twinkling stars when Peter takes the Darling children flying to Never, Never  land.
The other two concerts held are for all the other dance types not including ballet; contemporary, hip hop, jazz, tap and any other classes they run there. Even the adult classes participate in the concert.

As TF also learns contemporary we had to do the four concerts but for a change we had a stroke of luck. Grandma and Aunty H were going to the different concerts that we attended so took care of the transport for us on those couple of nights. Luckily TF is at the age where I can help her with her show make up and hair at home and she can do the touch ups herself.
We arranged to go to the grand finale which happened to be the ballet, and took the girls to a Thai Restaurant for dinner afterwards. 

They were vastly amused to see that the restaurant abbreviated the location of Pukekohe to Puke which they sadly added onto the menus after the name of the restaurant.  I am not sure they realised what "puke" can mean in English, really not the best name for a restaurant. 


Monday, December 8, 2014

Rory the Crazy Hound

Remember last year when we brought home our tiny little puppy.  Well our little cute puppy is now a giant, annoying, overly affectionate, licky (like constantly!), slobbery, hound who is really very sweet and loving! He even licked the vet whilst she gave him his shots ... much to her amusement and our embarrassment.

Taken in 2013 when he was still little and cute ...

Feb: Sitting with my little Mistress ...
he has lots of big fluffy bits which is the collie coming out in him.

March 2015 - Having a snooze on daddy's lap
Seriously Rory are you comfortable yet?
April; Oooh Grannies come to visit she'll give me love rubs.

May; Asleep with his little Mistress.
Am so glad animals aren't allowed on the furniture in our house ...
seriously does anyone listen to me!
June; Such a dopey looking thing at times!  Check out the grey whiskers from his Collie dad.

July; Yes I think I'll sleep right here, on top of poor suffering Scruffie!!!
August; He loves playing soccer, either with us or by himself.
October;  he often sleeps with his baby or even a ball in his mouth.
December; Aren't I so sweet and innocent?

So there you have it ... the crazy beast who is one of the family. On the down side he has issues with being left alone so we have to pop him in a big cage (trailer size) when we go out or we come home to this ...

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Mama Brag Moment

Forgive this mummy brag moment ... Last night was Miss 12's last class for contemporary for the year. The girls did some moves for the parents to watch and redid the dance that they performed on stage at their recital.

All the girls received their certificates at the end BUT THEN a Merit Award was awarded to a student who showed "outstanding effort and potential in 2014" and yup Miss 12's name was called out.

Am I proud ... you betcha I am but, not because she is a beautiful dancer but because more importantly every week this child turns up and works at dancing like she is auditioning for a stage role. She jumps, she turns and she spins and moves with 100% effort each and every time. If she isn't getting it to her satisfaction, she practices at home until she has it sussed. She gives it all her effort each and every class and so I am proud of her for working so hard.

I am also very thankful to the teachers she has had this year and in previous ones for inspiring her and building her confidence and love in dance.

The Fashionista with her lovely Contemporary teacher who she just adores!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Candle Design

Miss 12 and I designed and decorated these candles today as gifts for her ballet and contemporary dance teachers.

Her ballet teacher's candle reads, "Life without Ballet would be pointeless". We were going to make it in pink and black but as her teacher is an older lady we thought red more appropriate.

Her contemporary teacher is a lot younger, and so we made it a little more modern. It reads "A dance teacher helps their students find the song in their heart (pic) the beat in their feet and a passion for life".

On the back of the candles, in small writing towards the bottom, like on the back of greeting cards are the words, "Thank you, her name and 2014". She is really thrilled with the result and hopes her teachers like them.

Side note:  Teachers were thrilled with their gifts and even showed them to other teachers who were quite envious. We had to explain over and over again how we made them ... lol

Friday, November 21, 2014

Scared Witless

I often suffer with stomach "issues", but recently my menstrual cycle has been playing up; very heavy and going for weeks at a time. The Dr's standard reply has been "peri-menopause". This time he put me on the contraceptive pill for a few months to try and regulate it (4 weeks out of 5 is not pleasant and I have been so darn tired because of it!) but also referred me for an ultra sound along with a few blood tests.

Sadly the blood tests show that I have "diabetes" so I received a call from the nurse to say the Dr said to QUIT SUGAR NOW!  They will retest me again in a while, once they have given me a chance to get it under control as the Dr feels I should be able to return to an acceptable sugar level if I do what he suggested and stay off sugar. So I have done what I have been told. Surprisingly it hasn't been that hard, but the thought of never having a doughnut again is just plain sad people!

I also went off for my ultrasound and the radiologist there was just lovely. She did a really extensive check and for some reason towards the end I felt that she had picked something up as she was really persistent in wanting to get some shots of my ovaries and uterus but of course she didn't say much.

So today I went in to see the Dr to get the results as he wanted to see me.  It appears I have a 3cm gall stone and fatty liver disease (not the kind from alcohol!). So now I have to give up all fatty foods too ... goodbye bacon and roast pork and hot chips and burgers and OMG basically everything I quite enjoy! They will leave my gall bladder there unless it keeps giving me pain ... and oh boy, it has been. Hopefully a good diet will alleviate the pain.

Unfortunately, like all that hasn't been enough, they also detected a pile of fibroids, an enlarged and thickly lined uterus and a cyst on my ovary that is 7 x 8cm. Scarily the cyst has walls which is not a good thing but it doesn't have blood vessels which is a good thing. There is a concern that it could be cancer so they have referred me to a gynaecologist and surgeon. 

Anyway as soon as the Dr explained this to me, my heart just about sunk through to the floor. I don't think I have been so scared ... not for myself but for the Papa and the girls. I realise that it just as easily may not be C as it could be, but it has been hard to put it out of my mind. It is the last thing I think of before heading off to sleep and the first thing I think of when waking up. It has been hard making decision over things involving the future as we simply do not what may or may not be required next year.

Fortunately because we have private health insurance (OMG what a blessing!) I was able to get into see a gynaecologist within 2 days, it was a Wednesday, but I was in a little bit of shock when he told me that he would operate on me the following Monday!

Holy crap ... unexpected and unprepared ... wish me luck!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Family Fantasy Night

The local primary school PTA organised a FAMILY FANTASY NIGHT (pirates, mermaids, gypsies, etc.) as their yearly fundraiser last night.

The PTA had organised lots of games, demonstration, raffles, stalls and food stations set up but the big draw card was the FREE outdoor cinema set up for later in the evening.

As we have lived in this small town for so many years and we know so many people I was able to drop the girls there early to meet some friends, hand them my mobile and some cash and then head home (2 mins away) until it was nearly time for the movie to start.

Big blow Up Screen on the school field, taken before it got dark.

We grabbed some $2 burgers from the PTA's food stall and with the thermos of hot chocolate and snacks I had, we settled on our picnic rug with sleeping bags and pillows. I have got to say despite the rather cold weather (summer has been late arriving in NZ this year!) and the fact that the movie showing was The Princess Bride it was a fun evening.
Seriously The Princess Bride is supposed to be a bit of a cult movie but The Fashionista and I simply cannot understand the attraction to it.
Taken just before the movie started, as you can see excited much!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Coffee anyone?

We went to the Waikato Home Show recently especially to visit the home builders stands as we have been considering building rather than buying an already established home. It was exhausting day and the weather was appalling. Thankfully most of it was indoors.

We entered lots of competitions and today I received a call from Lockwood Homes telling me that I won an espresso machine!

Delonghi Dolce Gusto - Circolo

Yeah ... now if I only drank coffee.

Monday, November 3, 2014

High School or Not?

As mentioned in a previous posting, The Fashionista has asked if she can go to High School next year.

I had always said that the kids could attend school if they really wanted to but when it came to the crunch I confess I have found it really difficult to let go. But she really wants to give it a go, and to be totally honest her Papa thinks it would be a good idea as she gets older.  She is a very mature and responsible girl, so I think it might be nice for her to have a bit of fun with some crazy teens her age. It would be her first year along with everybody else's, so she would start off at the same time as everyone else. She also expressed a desire to attend an all girls school.

So the Papa and I (mostly I really) set about investigating lots of High Schools (girls and co-ed). They all suck; yup that's my findings. Actually some of the schools offer some great opportunities and unfortunately the ones we really liked were private, in the middle of Auckland and cost about $22,000 a year. We did contemplate it but sensibly settled on applying at a public girls high school in a town nearby which we had been considering moving to anyway.

What was funny is that every person I spoke to had good and bad storied about the schools. No people ever agreed on one school, so in the end it's a bit of a gamble I think.

We ended up on the ballot as we are out of the area and actually did not make it in on the first intake. We had already discussed that this might happen and would hold out for the following year but a week or two late we received a week later saying that she was accepted after all. I tell you, it was pretty nail biting stuff! She is over the moon; she has a good dancing friend who attends there which has made her excited about going also.

I still have my reservations about her attending school, part of me hopes it will fail and she comes back to home education but most of me wants really wants her to succeed and have a jolly good time. It is a very, very large school, with a school uniform that has a blazer, tie, etc ... which she is pretty excited about wearing.


We thought that Agent Smelly might want to go to school also (she would be in her last year of primary next year with two years of intermediate before High School) as she has asked before about going to school. After some to-ing and fro-ing she has since decided that she wishes to stay home and the Papa and I have agreed that a year just concentrating on her would be good for her. She also needs to build her confidence up as she is one of those kids that goes along with whatever the rest of the group wants to do just to keep the peace. She gets taken advantage of by her friends quite a bit, who just walk all over her, it's not necessarily their fault as she never complains except to us later! She may even wait until High School too, so we are going to play it by ear.

As long as they are happy where ever they are and both learning then we are happy.

(The photos were taken when the girls were playing with make up and clothes and having a fashion shoot in their bathroom; they don't actually wear make up out!)

Friday, October 31, 2014

On the Big Screen

Some homeschool friends from "up North" visited us recently and as they are younger and quite technically savvy they teach us something new about electronics each time they visit.
On this trip they explained to us about a cord that goes from your TV to your laptop, video camera, etc and you can watch the stuff that is being displayed on the small screen on your big screen TV.
We are just loving it. It means we can watch things off Youtube, etc on the big screen much more comfortably. We now have them on both TV's.
It also means that as soon as the kids video something it ends up being shown to us on the telly.
The pic above shows Agent Amelly showing a video of The Fashionista who had just finished taping a video of herself completing a science experiment.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Sound of Music

Living in NZ there are not a lot of live theatre productions on the same scale as overseas but every year there is at least one "big one". This year it was The Sound of Music.
Now because I am slightly crazy at times, I ended up organising an evening for homeschoolers. I needed a minimum of 30 and ended up with 65 people in total as we were able to get a really good ticket price. 
Part of the singing by the Nuns was in Latin and as The Fashionista has done a bit of Latin, so my and some other parents amusement, she was quite excited at interval to blurt that she could actually understand the words they were singing. A proud nerd moment!
It was a really awesome evening out and the show was delightful. The lass who played Maria was simply amazing and the Mother Superior blew us away with her singing.
The girls, before the show, with two of their dearest homeschool friends,
 who live a few hours away but were dropped off to watch the show with us.
Here they are again after the show
Nothing like late night Churros ... nom, nom, nom.
Hamming it up on the streets of Auckland in their op shop finery.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Bye Bye Mookies

First time in nearly 11 years we've had no stock on the land.

The last couple of steers when off to the sale yards today. I keep panicking when I can't see them in the paddocks and then I remember they are gone.

We are definitely getting ready to put the house on the market and sell peeps! Wooooohoooooo

I looked out the window and saw this at one stage ... haha

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Ch, Ch, Ch, Changes ...

As some of you may be aware The Fashionista is a "little bit" interested in dancing ... in fact even at 12, she can't stand still and can be found dancing around the house constantly. She always has and I thought maybe it was something she might grow out but of course it has only gotten stronger and faster and the leaps bigger.

At present she is dancing three times a week. Ballet 2 hours a week and contemporary on the third evening. It is a 95km round trip and we don't get home until 8pm one evening, 7pm the next and 6pm on another night. It is tiring and is costing us a fortune in petrol. With the Papa's shift work it means a lot of the time Agent Smelly has to come with us, which really is starting to get on her nerves as she is an early to bed girl and doesn't do well with the late nights.

TF has decided that she really wants to become a dancer (not necessarily a ballet dancer). She has even advised us that if she can't make it on the stage then she will be teach dance and either history or science in high school so she has really thought it through and is quite driven. At each class she always gives it her all. You would think she is trying out for a show at every class. She has her dad's competitiveness I think!  She has been online looking at dance academies in Australia as well as NZ  to attend when she is older. Of course she would like to take on extra classes now but obviously due to the distance that is not really an option at the moment.

Agent Smelly also wants to play basketball and would like to take some drama classes. She is quite the little actress I can tell you! So it will be better for both girls (and their taxi driving mama) for them to be closer to some other activities that they wish to do.

So what this boils down to, after much discussion, we decided that we are going to shift closer to a bigger city. The girls were not very happy at first but soon came around and are now quite excited at the impending move.  In the past two weeks we have been looking at homes and the area where we are interested in moving to.

But with the decision that we would move TF made a rather surprising request ... "would it be OK if I tried High School when we move?" ...

Monday, October 13, 2014

Angels Out and About

During the recent school holidays an awesome gift arrived from our friend (and one of my favourite bloggers), Sue Elvis in Australia. It was a personally signed copy of her newly released book, available from Amazon, The Angels of Abbey Creek. The girls were over the moon ... there were actual squeals of delight people! 
Sue who is a home educating Mama too, has been posting pictures on her blog with her own family out and about with her new book, so 'my angels' and I decided to take it along with us when we went rock climbing recently. You will have to forgive the photo's ... some plonker forgot the camera and had to use her phone, which frankly doesn't take great pics.
Hmm, what's that in The Fashionista's hands?
And again in Agent Smelly's hands, right before she dropped it on my head!
She's not the most co-ordinated of souls.
Coming down ... and having a read!
The Angels of Abbey Creek didn't make it out from under Agent Smelly's polo ... these climbing walls were a bit of a 'stretch' for my little short angel.

My big angel with "The Angels of Abbey Creek". She had no issues
climbing up quite a few of the advanced walls. She's like spiderman!
The workers in the rock climbing place, along with many of the kids there at the same time, were wondering what in heavens we were doing taking pictures with the book and were quite impressed when we explained that it was a published book from a friend. It was rather funny with them all keen to take a look at the book.

Hopefully soon we will have a review for you. We have read part of it and so far all are enjoying it very much. Thanks Sue, you are so talented.

You can purchase your own copy of The Angels of Abbey Creek from Amazon when you click on the link.  Sue also writes an unschooling blog called Stories of an Unschooling Family aswell as Sue Elvis Writes.
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