27 December 2008

Gorgeous photos in the Gardens

Just to whet your whistle, here's a lovely family photo taken today in the Gardens. And for the rest of the day's excitement check out this link to the rest of the photos on my Facebook page:

26 December 2008

An epic tale of days gone by....

It has taken me a few days to feel up to sitting down to compose this update. I think this is partly because I have been feeling so truly relaxed for the first time in a long time, so much so that it has seemed almost a chore to sit myself in front of a computer screen and tap away at the keys. Being on holiday this time has felt like a true wind-down, and I must admit I haven't gone especially looking for photos that could be used in the blog in every little moment like I did last year, instead allowing both my body and soul the chance to just BE in the moments and memories we have created. And it feels good.

Nonetheless it is also cathartic to recount the past couple of weeks even if it is just so that they are recorded.

We had a very busy last week leading up to Christmas, starting with a visit from Mark's friends Sarah and James and baby Alice (10 months) on Tuesday night (the 16th). We realised we hadn't seen them for 2.5 years since a London pub catch up we had arranged with friends in our trip before last to the UK whilst I was still pregnant with Noah. So it was wonderful to see them and hear all their news and meet their gorgeous wee girl.

Thursday night, Mark and I took a very rare opportunity to go out for a meal together to belatedly celebrate the end of my CA exams as well as Mark's new role, and, of course, the end of another action-packed year. We went to a new restaurant called Osteria del Toro, located in Tory Street just under the Wildlife Backpackers. It is a somewhat odd location, but the experience more than made up for it. The decor inside is sumptuous and you can truly believe you have been transported to Morocco, Spain, Greece or Italy by the surroundings before you even sample the food. The bar is architecturally gorgeous with a lovely wavy ceiling, and the gold curtains and other accessories such as the in-built water fountain complete with foot pedal for the waiters to fill water jugs for the tables shows a lot of thought has gone into the overall atmosphere created. We shared a lovely Turkish Pizza Bread, Lamb Souvlaki, and a gorgeous Lamb Shank Tagine and another Chicken dish between us, as well as enjoying a carafe of Spanish Gewurztraminer (how very European to drink by the carafe!) to go with it. I came away very impressed with the overall experience.

The happy couple enjoying a rare opportunity to do 'dinner for two'
Osteria del Toro - well worth a visit

Friday was not only my last day of work for the year, but my big day as Chief Organiser of our staff Christmas lunch. It went very smoothly, and even the last-minute rush back to Pacific Catch to have them properly skin and fillet the two salmon we had ordered after they had misunderstood our instructions didn't cause us too much concern. My friend and colleague Jackie was an absolute legend during the day (definitely my right-hand girl!) and didn't stop for a second. We were both dead on our feet at the end of the day after doing innumerable piles of dishes, stacking and emptying the dishwasher and getting left overs into trays to hand out to staff.

Saturday was a quiet day at home cleaning and packing whilst Markie indulged in his annual tradition of a bike ride with the boys up in the Akatarawa's. Unfortunately the weather was not the best for the ride, and he was pretty tired, muddy and in need of some r&r when he got home! Later that night, we enjoyed an indoors BBQ catch up with Tracey & Dayne.

Sunday was a bit of a trying day all round. We woke up to Noah having thrown up in his bed and he was very much under the weather the whole day, not wanting to eat and not knowing what he wanted poor wee mite. We were due to go to Bronson's baby dedication in Plimmerton followed by a BBQ at Andrew & Nichola's in Paetahanui just around the inlet, but Noah was in no fit state to go anywhere. He even fell asleep on me at 10.30am and after we transferred him back to bed he slept for about 3.5 hours (which if you know Noah well is not at all like him!). Anyway, I managed to steal a couple of hours to go out in the afternoon to attend the dedication and catch up with Becky, Marissa, Sarah, Sally & Bex before heading back to town. It became apparent that Noah was having difficulty swallowing and his throat appeared to be very sore, so we raced him off to the after hour doctor at 6pm (thinking that the trip to Nana & Poppa's first thing Monday morning was looking pretty unlikely at this point). The doctor couldn't find anything that justified antibiotics and sent us on our way. We put a very upset and poorly boy to bed that night praying for some kind of miracle overnight.

Monday dawned bright and clear, with thankfully a much chirpier Noah (so thank you Lord). He still wasn't 100% but we made the call to try to head off to Hamilton since we were all packed and ready to go. The journey didn't get off to the best start when we got to the bottom of Aro Street and found the Terrace Tunnel entrance to the motorway blocked off due to a gas leak. The traffic build-up was unbelievable and it took us 45 minutes just to get to the motorway (usually a 5 minute journey). Once that frustration was past us though, the next couple of hours were reasonably uneventful, and Noah being able to watch Nemo on the new portable DVD player was the saviour of the day, helping us hold out to Waiouru for our first stop. We had decided to go into the army museum for a look around, but Noah wasn't overly interested in most of the displays (much to Daddy's disappointment) so we only shot around quickly before getting back on the road so he could have a much needed nap. Ever true to form, having to slow down for a tight 35 km/hr corner jolted Noah out of sleep after only half an hour and our hearts sank as we realised we still had 2.5 hours of driving to go. However, a stop in Taupo to look at the McDonalds aeroplane and eat an ice cream seemed to perk him up and the rest of trip passed by quite uneventfully. It was with much relief we drove up the drive to Nana & Poppa's after nearly 8 hours on the road with Noah shouting 'We're here! We're here!'.

Noah and Daddy play army men at the Waiouru Army Museum

Our first couple of days passed quietly, enjoying the peacefulness of being out in the country, visiting the local wildlife, as well as a brief jaunt to town to finally go for a ride in Poppa's milk truck (which Noah greatly enjoyed). We also spent a fun half hour jumping in puddles on the driveway on Christmas Eve whilst waiting for Uncle Nic to arrive from Australia. A huge amount of rain fell in the morning, enough to fill up the water tank again, and to provide a great source of amusement for Noah as he jumped in the puddles, enjoyed splashing Mummy and going so deep the water was right over the top of his gumboots (translation for the English folk: Wellies).

Fun riding in Poppa's milk truck
Noah the true fluffy connoisseur
Poppa does his best to impersonate Daisy the cow
Noah multitasks!

We spent a quiet Christmas Eve enjoying a BBQ together and watching Toy Story, Home Alone (one of Daddy's all-time favourites) and then Notting Hill on TV, and very nearly saw in Christmas, only heading off to bed at 11.30pm. Uncle Sam then joined on Christmas morning, only arriving from down the road in Hamilton but he has been kept pretty busy lately with the new bike store http://www.rocketbikes.co.nz/ he opened not long ago. so it was the first chance he had to come over then.

When Christmas morning finally arrived, Noah appeared to have as much fun handing out everyone's presents to them as he did opening his own which was very sweet and unselfish.

I wonder who this one is for? Hmmm, where to start?
You can't go wrong with Nemo....Noah enjoys reading about his favourite character
Whilst Noah is fascinated by his new toolset and workbench, Daddy tries to figure out the new Buckaroo game

Today (Boxing Day) we took a brief jaunt to The Warehouse to check out the fairly nondescript post-Christmas sales. Then the rest of the day was spent making our own fun, playing hide the soldier in the garden, kicking a football round, before embarking on a three-way water fight this afternoon - lots of fun and a good way to cool off in the heat of the afternoon! Noah rediscovered his love of Poppa's wheelbarrow late in the day, and it was amazing to see how big he looked in it this year compared to last - how time flies!

Noah and Nigs watching a DVD, Mummy & Noah searching for bugs
Our water fight fun, complete with spitting competition
Noah takes up a little more of the wheelbarrow this year!

Tomorrow we are hoping to head to the Hamilton Gardens which is always a favourite pastime when we're up here, and has also been the scene of some lovely shots we took of Noah this time last year which we later enlarged.

Well after a reasonably lengthy update, I'll sign off here, with another update in a few days time (energy and motivation permitting!). Until then, I hope that wherever you are, you have been able to enjoy this Christmas time, not forgetting that Jesus is the reason for this season. Each time we celebrate His day, rather than a short-sighted focus on the commercialisation and materialism that so often takes over at Christmas, His birth all those thousands of years ago should still cause us to be filled with wonder and amazement. No ordinary day, no ordinary man.

14 December 2008

More sunny days.....

We don't know what we have done to deserve all this glorious weather! We have lost count of the number of fine weekends we have had lately....and long may it last.

It has been an eventful week in more ways than one, starting with the rude awakening we received on Monday morning when a drunk guy tried to force his way into our house at 3am. In hindsight it appears he had got disorientated from the party next door and probably thought he was trying to get in there, but it didn't make it any less scary for us hearing loud banging on the door. Mark tried to reason with him for about 10 minutes through the glass window on the door 'Please go away, you don't live here, why do you want to come in?' and we did call the police as a precaution as the guy was none too keen to go away to start with. Anyway, all is well that ends well as eventually he stumbled off, and the police turned up about 10 minutes later. Needless to say though our hearts were pounding a bit after that episode and it wasn't very easy getting back to sleep with the party that had started at 10pm still going on next door till 5am. Luckily our gorgeus boy slept through it all, which we were thankful of, and even more thankful for God's divine protection over our family and our house through the experience.

Thankfully, Monday ended much better than it started with the great job offer Mark received from Hertz, a 20% increase in his base salary, a company car (brand new Ford Mondeo) with petrol and all car costs paid for, as well as a 5% bonus. It was an easy decision for Mark to make in the end as he has had a good, long innings with APX and there is little immediate chance of progression in his current role due to the current economic climate and recent restructuring that was undertaken. His new role will be similar to what he does now, with the potential for more business development, and starts on Jan 12th, so a good way to start the New Year!

Thursday night saw us entertained at the annual daycare BBQ. Noah point blank refused to go and perform with the other kiddies, prefering to stay sitting on my lap and watching from a safe distance. I think, once again, he was a little overwhelmed with the volume of parents and big people (about 100) in what he must see as 'his space'. He did, however, muster up enough courage to go up with Daddy to get his present from Santa. And nonetheless it was a nice opportunity to catch up with the other families (although we did end up seeing most of them 3 times this week - the BBQ last Sunday, the BBQ Thursday and then Aarnav's birthday yesterday...phew!)

This weekend started with a smart new haircut which was 'beautiful' according to Noah! And then it was onto Junglerama for Aarnav's 3rd birthday, and a good amount of energy was burnt off as all the kids (and some energetic parents) charged around for an hour or so.

We took a walk up to the wind turbine yesterday afteroon which we haven't done for a wee while. There was a bit of a chill in the air from the southerly that briefly blew through on Friday night, but it was a pleasant walk up there with the usual stunning views on offer.

Today, Mark went out for a bike ride, I went to church and on the way home purchased some more shade cloth...our poor lemon tree is being devoured by bugs, every few days it appears that more leaves have been chewed, and we are trying everything we can think of...strong insecticide etc, so we are at our wits end. Right behind the lemon tree is our raspberry bush, and we got our first raspberry of the summer yesterday. No two guess who munched that one! We also cracked open our first pea pod and enjoyed crunching on the tender and juicy young peas.

It was so warm today that we pulled out the paddling pool and by the time Noah woke up from his nap and wanted to get in, the water was quite tropical. Mark went off to play a game of netball at 3pm, so Noah and I enjoyed some fun in the sun outdoors, and treated Daddy to a waterfight when he got home to help him cool off after the game! Tonight we had BBQ homemade burgers ala Markie and sat outside together enjoying the end of yet another lovely weekend.


This week is bound to be full-on. It's our last week of work before 2 week's holiday, and we have 2 nights booked up (James & Sarah from the UK on Tuesday, Tracey & Dayne on Saturday) as well as the big feat of organising my staff Christmas lunch on Friday, Mark is out for a big ride Saturday, and then a baby dedication and a BBQ on Sunday afternoon at two separate places before we hit the road first thing on the Monday morning for our trek up to Nana & Poppa's for Christmas.

Noah's new Zoo animal play-doh set he got for his Secret Santa last week. And check out the big yellow moon spotted at about 10pm last night..very big and very yellow but photos never do it justice!

We splashed out a little bit this week and invested in a portable DVD player that was half price on http://www.1-day.co.nz/, it does 3 different deals every 24 hours. This was in anticipation of the long car journey ahead of us! We tried it out yesterday with his all-time favourite, Nemo and it seemed to be a success. We've put a few other DVDs together for him, so here's hoping it helps wile away a bit of time on the 500km journey ahead!

The next blog is likely to wing its way to you once we've made it to Nana & Poppa's as I imagine we'll be too busy racing around next weekend getting ready to hit the road bright and early.


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