Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Wishes,The Hobbit & A New Earthquake

Unless you live under a stone somewhere, you will be well aware that The Hobbit movie has been filmed in New Zealand by director, Peter Jackson. The issue date is still a year away, but we have been given a little spoiler to keep us going on.  The was big excitement in this house the other night as we watched this trailer.

There is a bit of a riot happening at the moment in our home and dissension among the ranks. What could be causing such a fuss? why toilet paper of course. There has been a vocal movement to change the brand that is currently being used in the house.  See, I shop each week and try to keep the grocery bill down.  Some weeks this means the cheaper paper gets bought, like this for instance.

So in this last week, 2 people in our house (who shall remain nameless) have announced that the old toot paper is faaaaar toooooo harsh for them.  Fair enough.  I don't need to be told twice about these sensitive subjects and will be off to buy something soft for bottoms that's not "cotton soft" hehe. This, by the way, would be the biggest pack of toilet paper I have ever seen at the supermarket.  Would you like to super size that Mam?

And lastly, I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas. I may not get a chance before Sunday to do so as things are starting to get busy in the home here with preparations and last minute errands. Tomorrow we are at a horse show of all things, all day.  I will squeeze some more preparation in on Saturday night that can't be done today.  We also want to get to church on Saturday night too, so that might be at one of the sessions being held at 7pm, 9pm or 11pm.  So hectic.  I have made some lovely new freindships both in New Zealand and America which mean alot to me.  Your support and concern during the months following the earthquakes was very dear to me.  I can't wait to carry on being in touch with you all through the next year.

The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.
Proverbs 27:9 

Ironically as I write this it's 2:14pm and we have just had a 5.9 earthquake! followed by 3 smaller aftershocks.
Will get going and it could be a busy afternoon. Love to you all.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Moose The Puppy

Little Moose, our Shih Tzu puppy,  is almost fully grown now.  If you remember back in May, Georgia was asked to help with the birth and immediate care of a litter of puppies that lived next door to our house.
Since then Moose has become a firm favourite in the house.  Learning all the important rules, which he has been nicely learning off Isaac.  Isaac is a bit of a policeman when it comes to keeping everyone in line.  This not only includes Moose, but also the cats as well.  Look out if they aren't where they should be.  On the breakfast bar or coffee table for instance.

Moose loves his soft toys.  He carries them around with him all day.  Bringing all his favourites along where ever we are in the house.  The squeaky ones are the best.  He has perfected the squeak on most of them, self squeaking against everthing, including our legs.

Just been born in May

Eyes are finally open

A cute bundle of fluff, Georgia is teaching the dogs to jump obstacles.  Moose is really tiny here, look at him compared to the leaf rake.

Such a clever puppy, already doing jumps

Oh, can't forget Isaac the accomplished jumper

We couldn't keep him inside and off the snow

Oh dear, balls of frozen snow have formed on Moose's tummy.  We wet a towel with warm water and pressed it against him to slowly melt the snow

Happiness is sleeping with you best friends, even if some of them are slippers


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mission Impossible?

Around here at the moment it's like we are living in a war zone.  There are large military operations happening everyone one looks.  Yes, this is the reality of suddenly deciding to sell your much loved house and property.  Said property has been converted into a small fenced in semi-rural-like garden and yard. My spare time in the past weeks has been spent finishing our school year off and landscaping in a major way.

There is a lot of garden around here (which we love), however, it all needs to be removed.  Let me highlight just what we are doing at the moment.  There has been much discussion on our next project, let me explain.

1.   The decision has been made to sell our house and move to the country. Simple Plan.
2.   Start looking at small holdings in country of approximately 10 to 20 acres.  Nice and simple.
3.   Organize potential Real Estate Agent to visit home, give some pointers and arrange next meeting. Nice.
4.   Completely changed surrounding gardens and lawn for a more aesthetic appeal. Much watering needed.
      Slight problem because earthquake has caused lack of city water.  Can only water 3 times a week with
      hand held hose.
5.   Gifted some ready-lawn by fellow church friends to tidy up front of house.  The area had always been a garden full of overgrown shrubs, which we recently removed. I have water blasted the fences ready for painting. Have since planted along the fence and put stones in the garden next to the house.  Will put some "after" photos on here to show you the difference a few plants and stones can make. Thank you Lord.

6.   Secretly using sprinkler on said front lawn at 11pm at night under cover of darkness as lawn needs
      watering intensively for 2 weeks. Shhhhhh.
7.   Leased lockup garage close by to remove excess objects and clutter from around home and yard. Done.
8.   Sadly, realise we are dreaming about buying an affordable property in our price range. Sob.
9.   Decide to look for bare land and build.  Therefore moving aside financially but not into huge debt. Dream.
10. Re-assess planned move, now may include selling, then renting, buying with cash, building farmhouse while living on
      site. Tricky.
11. Need all the money from house sale so decide to sell house ourselves. Easy.
12. Start designing ideal house for family of 4. FUN & TIME CONSUMING.

So that about brings us to where we are now.  Flat out tidying up and planning for Christmas.  My spare time has been spent pouring over floor plan designs, thanks to google images. Just imagine you had the opportunity to completely design your home from scratch to include all those features you admire in other homes.  It's a daunting task as we want some specific features and layout to suit our hobbies, family time & homeschooling space, office, large laundry combined with  wet and drying rooms, verandas, open plan, large fire, kitchen with large storage areas and larder.  As you can see, we are trying to think of everything and still stick to a strict budget.  A rectangular box of 10 by 20 metres or 200 square metres.  Not an easy task, but one in which we are both combining together our own ideas.

On that note, it's goodbye for now and time to start in the yard with my two teenage helpers.  We do however, always have 2 four-legged helpers willing to poke about with what we are working on or shifting.  Can get nasty around the spades and shovels though.  The children are very keen on anything that gets them closer to the country.  Have not struck any problems with them working with us on this move.  Kinda nice that we are all motivated on this one, would be awkward if somebody didn't want to shift.  Great thing with homeschooling and no high school to worry about.  No crying over missing malls, friends and the area we live in.  Most of our close friends live in the area we are shifting to, so we are all excited over that.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

John Marsden And Some Snow

While still on the subject of catching up, I thought I'd share with you some favourite photos from the last six months.

I especially love this photo of Georgia with Australian author of "The Tomorrow series", John Marsden. What a wonderful, approachable, down to earth man he was (dressed in a lovely hand knitted jersey).  Georgia has read all his books and he is a particular favourite of hers, even before the movie came out and his name was bandied around more.  So imagine our good luck when John came to New Zealand especially to host some writing camps to support Christchurch high school students after the February earthquake. Luckily for us he held a public talk one evening in a still standing central city church, so Georgia and I were able to go listen to him. He talked about how he builds stories up from a basic few sentences, then adds in all the descriptive stuff.  I really enjoyed hearing him.  It definitely helped me understand more about creative writing and the things I needed to look out for when teaching writing to make it more interesting (especially not to over-describe and get carried away). Although he still writes, he is principal at a special character school.
"In 2006, he started an alternative school, Candlebark School in the Macedon Ranges, in which he is the school principal. Marsden has since reduced his writing to focus on teaching and running the school." WIKI
He signed one of Georgia's books with "Take care, take risks" which is his school motto.

During the winter months we skied with our homeschool group.  This year was our 1st time doing this.  Alex has skied in the past few years with Autism New Zealand during the July holidays, however Georgia was a first time skier.  I had last skied 20 years ago (blush).  Canterbury boasts quite a few ski fields within 1 or 2 hours drive from Christchurch.  Mt Hutt, near Methven, is only about an hours drive to the car park at the bottom of the mountain.  Then it's a slow crawl up an awful access road (and I mean awful, one of the worst roads in New Zealand), really slippery, really really icy with (in parts) shear walls down each side of the road. Even 4WD vehicles slide all over the place.  I can tell you, I was praying the whole way up that we would arrive in the car park safely, it was that bad.  One of the Dads was our van driver, who drove very very carefully up that road, and he was visibly relieved once at the car park.  It's just as scary going back down at the end of the day when the ice starts forming again. 

But apart from that, we had just 2 days skiing over the whole of winter.  Mainly due to no snow.  Hard to believe there was hardly any snow.  The winter had very few storms, just 2 main ones.  We skied after each snow dump because for the rest of the time there was very little base to ski on.  I was base camp mother for the 1st trip and was set up in the cafeteria (very nice) where I looked after bags and helped out anyone needing assistance.  I was able to watch Georgia learning to ski on the learners slope.  Alex was happily away and up the mountain where he took some photos for me.  I skied on the second trip.  This meant I could spend the whole day hanging out with Georgia on the learner's slope, and later in the day venturing up the next run.  Sadly the day was a whiteout from the word go, no sun, no photos and iced up goggles and little visibility.  But a great 2 days PE for school and wonderful memories.

Homeschooling allows us these wonderful opportunities, to be able to have may days like this, and base schoolwork around them.  We were able to pick and chose our days based on the weather conditions, whereas most public schools have just the one day and that's it.  Next year we hope to stay in an alpine village for several days and ski. 

   Traveling up the access road, doesn't look too bad in this photo

View from the top of the learners slope

Halfway up the mountain, a wonderful view of the Canterbury Plains below

The ski field relies heavily on the snow makers due to lack of real snow

View of Mt Hutt complex, normally that hillside is completely covered in snow

I had hopes of blogging some more storm photos, but have run out of room and time.  Must away to do chores, school and errands. As Scarlett O'Hara says "After all.....tomorrow is another day".

Quotable Quote
"What," said the young man, "Is the difference between wisdom and knowledge?"
"Well," came the reply from his elder.
"Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.  Wisdom, on the other hand, is knowing that you do not put it in a fruit salad!"

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Life Part 1

So glad you stopped by, there has been much happening around our place since I last blogged. 

Well, we have decided to move to the country next year.  We like the area north of Christchurch in and around north Canterbury and the Waimak. River.  With this decided, we now face the task of tidying up our section and last minute painting jobs inside.  We imagine putting the house on the market end of January/ beginning of February.  So do stop by and read how we undertake this move.  We are all very excited about the chance to move to the country.  I think the day I got chickens was the moment when I really wanted to live on a small farm.  Georgia is very very excited because she will finally get her own horse and be able to ride and look after it in a safe environment, on our property.  We are not in favour of Georgia having grazing in a paddock out of the city, where she would be on her own all day and with no adults around should anything happen.  We worry about stranger danger and her being vunerable on her own.  She said all she wants to do is be able to wake up, look out the window and see her horse.

Winter has well and truly disappeared along with spring.  Our weather has warmed up and we are enjoying lovely warm weather everyday now.  Very hot days are also with us.  In the last week we had a 28.5 degree day and a 28.2 yesterday.  Hot going when you are trying to landscape your grounds in preparation for selling.  Speaking of selling, I thought I would touch on the selling with you, and also bring you up to speed on what we have been doing since June. The preparations involved in making your house presentable for selling are quite time consuming.  And as you can imagine we have a big job ahead with making our yard look "urbanised" and beautifilly landscaped.  But we think it's worth every ounce of effort to get the best price we can, that money will allow us to spend more at the other end where it matters.

The last of the rhodos in bloom

So, what have we been doing lately?  Well in general, parts of Christchurch are very slowly returning to normal.  A new normal though, 9 months after 22 February and 14 months after the initial big quake.  The aftershocks  have disapeared almost completely, and we are just getting the odd one every now and then.  People are now being forced to move out of their homes due to whole suburbs being unrepairable meaning a massive scale of home/land buy up by the government , 6000 homes so far.  Deconstruction work is still going on in the city where still more buildings are coming down.  There are lots of spaces where there once stood buildings.  Small businesses are popping up in these spots, mainly vendors selling coffee and hot food.

Well, the gardens are planted out with less vegetables this season.  Infact the gardens are being removed in a big way to make way for lawn and that landscaped look.  Once the garlic and potatoes are done that garden will go as well.  That will leave the main garden behind the picket fence.  We were just going to leave everything pretty much like it is.  But I read a really good article in Saturday's Press about not underestimating the value of a landscaped section when selling.  People want to see that that all the hard work is done so that they can just move in and enjoy what's there.  People will be unlikely to buy homes with gardens and lawns that need lots of work doing to them.

The garden beds being returned to grass & the new grass we have to grow under the clothes line where the tent sat for 6 weeks.

In September, EQC began repair work on our home.  We were given the option of moving to a motel for the duration of the work, however, with all our pets this made it difficult to do.  We compremised and moved into our tent on the lawn.  For about 6 long weeks we lived in that tent.  Our garden shed became a makeshift kitchen complete with fridge and microwave.  We had the use of our 2nd toilet in the laundry, but no showering/bathroom facilities. MMMmmm, this was hard let me tell you. Our family, neighbours and friends kindly let us use their showers for that time.  But we were all pleased when we got our bathroom back.

 The extra room on the end has been taken down, so the tent originally had 3 rooms

Life in a large tent with 2 teenagers and 2 dogs certainly made life interesting to say the least.  We had to evacuate on 2 occasions due to major storms flooding the ground.  There were times when the tent was lashed all night with gale force winds as well.  But I look back now that we have moved back into our newly decorated home and think how thankful we are that we only had small cracks that needed some plaster and paint.

Thanks for stopping by,

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

It's Good To Be Back

A big BIG hello to you all.  I'm feeling inspired these days and naturally want to share with you all just what we have been up to while I have had a break from blogging.  Wow, where did that almost 6 months go!!  Plenty of news coming up (just quietly involving a shift to the country).

I have a new blog name to celebrate this occasion.  I have just spent the morning trying to sus out  how to go about changing my blog title and URL name.  So this blog may or may not be my last at this address.

Please look out for my new blog or it'll still be here, which means I haven't worked it out right. Either way I'll definitely be somewhere!


Thursday, June 30, 2011

Just A Little Note To You All

Just a quick little note to you all.

As you can see I am having a quiet time on my blog at the moment.  Constant stress and earthquakes do have a habit of catching up with you after a while, so I am concentrating on looking after my closest loved ones who are dear to my heart.  I still, however, enjoy reading all your blogs and finding out what other people are doing with their lives!

Talk to you all soon
Blessings,  Lee-Anne


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