The Face We’re Enjoying Seeing Every Day

We are really enjoying this little girl! It’s hard to believe she’s already three and a half weeks old. She’s growing fast; as of a week ago, she was over 9 pounds already. She spends her time either eating or sleeping, with a short period of time occasionally of being awake and looking around or playing. Her favorite place to sleep, of course, is on someone; right now, she’s sleeping on me. I’m thankful that usually someone is happy to hold her when I need to do something! We are teaching her to sleep by herself, and she usually sleeps in her own bed for 2-4 hours at night.

One day old, with the two-year-old:


One week old:


Ten days old:



Eleven days; we had church here at our house because our van was broken down and everyone came here for a change. She wore a dress my sister made Esther, and the same sister gave me the fabric for my dress (Mom made it while she was here in November). The blanket came from an anonymous person who just left it inside the door one evening!



Two weeks old; this gown was made for me by my grandmother (my dad’s mother), 40 years ago!


Almost three weeks (yes, she’s listening to all sorts of stories already):


Three weeks, with big sister:


Three weeks:


And, tonight:


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The First Time I Ever Called Emergency Services

We had an exciting night this week. Esther wrote a detailed account of it on her blog, so with her permission I’ll share that.

8:22 am


The sound ricocheted through my consciousness, jolting me awake. My sleep-numbed brain tried to register what was going on as I fumbled for my glasses and grabbed my headlamp. Switching the light on, I looked briefly at my watch—12:17 am—and slid out of bed. As I moved, I floundered for an explanation of the noise. I could hear a crackling, snapping, popping sound coming from somewhere.

Could it be an earthquake? No, earthquakes both shake and are noisy. This was just a bang…unless something else happened before I woke up. Did someone have an accident? Possibly.

Soon I reached the door, and after opening it a crack to make sure everything was okay in our front yard, I looked beyond the tree-line around our property. An orange glow lit up the tree down across the road beyond where our street “T’s” onto the road that leads to the village center. I could see a huge column of smoke rising above the deep orange center of the fire, as big around as the trunk one of those enormous old Macrocarpa trees.

What’s going on? Did someone crash into the car sitting at the end of our road that was waiting to be towed away? Are there people hurt?

Then I remembered the conditions outside.

The fire ban is on, and that’s a huge fire. With all the dry weather we’ve had, the grass and hedge will be a tinder box…if that catches fire, it could easily spread over here, and we’d have to evacuate. Continue reading….

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5-year-old Photographer

My five-year-old begs for my camera every so often. Sometimes I let him have it, and it’s interesting to see what he comes up with. (Good reason to buy a cheap camera?) Here are the most interesting/best of the pictures I found on the memory card last time I looked at them after he had it.


His little brother wearing the crowns some of the boys made for the Christmas Eve service.


Little brother “sweeping” the front porch.


All the boys spent hours for a few weeks, building this town out of mud in the dry creek bed (they hauled water from the tap).


Little brother rolling in the grass.


The boys have spent many hours building different things out by one of the sleepouts (the one close to the kitchen). They often have the CD player playing a recorded story. The boys who aren’t actively involved in building lounge around, listening, till Mom comes up with a job! I frequently hear requests to turn the CD player off for a minute while someone runs a noisy tool. Can’t miss a word of the story, you know!

This young photographer took my camera outside again the other evening, but I haven’t looked at the pictures yet. I suspect they won’t turn out very well, since the flash doesn’t work. He likes to take videos, but they are the type to make you seasick!

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She’s Here!

Yes, we have a girl! After six boys in a row, it’s pretty special to have another girl. She arrived last Wednesday evening after a long hard labor. We’ve been thoroughly enjoying having another baby in the house. Everyone wants to hold her as much as possible; she’s hardly been laid down by herself yet for more than a few minutes at a time. I have to make the decision, multiple times a day, as to who gets to hold her. We’re also enjoying having pink clothes in the house; Gayle commented the other day, after hanging out the laundry, how fun it is to hang little girl things! So far, she hasn’t worn very many pink things, because we didn’t have them, but yesterday and today we were given quite a few so she’ll be looking even more girly now.

We don’t have very many pictures yet; we’re enjoying her too much, I guess, to take them. Here are the best of what we do have, though, and I suspect there will be many more coming later!


She’s spending a lot of time sleeping still, although it seems like in the morning she’ll spend a few hours awake and happy. She’s sleeping well at night; last night she slept five hours straight! What a blessing she is.

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December Pictures

Yes, I’m a bit late, but here are some more pictures from December. And, by the way, we are still waiting for baby to arrive. It’s due in a couple more days, but I won’t be surprised if it’s late—we’ll see! We’re pretty anxious to meet this little one and see who he/she is!

The day after Grandma left, the two littlest boys decided to lay in her bed and study a leaflet we got at Willowbank.


We cleaned the garage out one day. I finally gave the permission the boys had been waiting for since we moved: I let them haul out and burn a lot of boxes! First they loaded ALL of them onto the wheelbarrow boy #2 got free at the dump (he just had to buy a new tube for the tire and had a good tool!).


Our first boy’s birthday landed on Sunday this year, and he wanted to walk over the Kaikoura Peninsula. Gayle took all the children across, while I drove around to the other side. Two of the boys ran the whole way, and one of them was so bored that I handed him my camera and told him to take some pictures.


We had three little turkeys in the house for a few weeks. They were rather fun to watch! Some nights, their owner, boy #2, would go around catching moths for them to eat. That was pretty hilarious to watch, as at the time, the moths were bigger than the turkey’s heads! After awhile, it was time to put them outside. They are thriving in a small pen now. We let them free-range until they ate all the leaves off my pepper plants one day.


One sunny warm day I got all the newborn clothes washed and hung out. So fun!


Just for fun, a couple of random shots of some of our critters—the steers and the ducks.


On Christmas Eve, the local Anglican church always has a special service for the children. They are supposed to dress in Nativity-scene costumes and sort of act out the story as it is read. Our boys were asked to be Joseph and the wise men, and one ended up being Herod when the boy who had that role backed out. We still had enough wise men, as the two littlest boys decided at the last minute they wanted to be kings, too! Esther created the costumes, and each boy designed and made his own crown, except the two littlest.


This has been a common scene this summer. I have had the boys spend half an hour a day in the garden pulling weeds, and they are doing well at keeping the weeds under control. One of the days Gayle had off work over Christmas he joined them; they were doing the job before breakfast, before the day got hot. I’ll do another post soon to show the garden. It is gorgeous this year!


One afternoon, the second-youngest wanted to take a picture of a spider in his room. He couldn’t quite get a picture of it, but played with the camera for awhile anyway!


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New Year’s Day Harvest

First, I want to wish all of you a wonderful 2015! We’ve had a lovely New Year’s Day today. It’s a lot cooler than yesterday, which I appreciate, but sunny and beautiful. I went out to the garden this morning and found a lot of things ready to pick. We are eating well these days!IMG_0076

This afternoon, I went to the garage to get something, and made a side trip to check on the barrel of apple cider vinegar I’ve been brewing since last March. One of the boys had gotten a small cup of it this morning, and it tasted just slightly weaker than the double-strength vinegar we usually buy from a stockfeeds store. He thought there was a scoby in it (like kombucha). I looked, and sure enough there was a huge “mother” floating  on top!


That was exciting. There were also a lot of fruit flies in it, so I decided it was time to strain and bottle all of it. We ended up with 21 liters, just over 5 gallons, for the price of a rubbish bin (maybe $15). The apples were free from the roadside, and the only other ingredient was water. To buy that much vinegar at the stockfeeds shop costs about $80. I’m pleased with this experiment!


I put the “mother” in a jar to save till I start the next batch, so hopefully it will work even faster than this batch. Sure looks ugly! It’s kind of rubbery, a lot like a kombucha scoby.IMG_0083

Esther wanted to see what the cows would do with the vinegary apples, so she dumped them out in the paddock. They wanted to eat them, but the acid was apparently kind of hard for them to handle. They keep coming back for more, though!


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Motel Etiquette

Our daughter works at a motel around the corner from us, cleaning for a few hours a day, two to four days a week. One evening this week, she commented that one room, occupied by one man, was a lot messier than another room, which had been occupied by a couple and their 10-month-old baby. That prompted a question from me as to how you should leave a motel room in order to make it easiest for the cleaners. I’ve stayed so few times in a motel in my life that I really have no clue! She had several tips, and I found the conversation so interesting I decided to write them down.

One pretty obvious thing you should do is to strip the beds of all bedding you’ve used. If you make the bed, it is hard for them to know what has been used and what hasn’t; if you take off the sheets and pillowcases you used, they know exactly what needs to be washed and it saves a lot of time.

If you stay in a room with a kitchen, which all motel rooms in New Zealand seem to have, wash the dishes you used—but leave them on the counter. Otherwise, the cleaner has to sort through the cupboard and determine what needs washed and what is all right. If you leave them on the counter, it’s obvious.

Of course, put your trash in the trash can—and it helps the cleaner if you knot the bag so all they have to do is pull it out. Check through the room for any personal belongings you might be missing, and don’t forget the fridge! One day recently, they found a refrigerator full of food that someone forgot to take along.

And one final tip—make a pile of all the towels and washcloths you used. If there are some you didn’t use, put them in a neat pile on the bed you didn’t use, or somewhere else clean—not on the floor! I don’t know about other motels, but of the three in Cheviot, the other two allow only 30 minutes to completely clean a room. Anything that you can do to help the cleaners is good! I guess this would fall under the category of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

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