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.

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