We have learned a new game this year. It’s very fun, everyone can be involved, and it gets people outside and active. Win, win! This game is called Kubb, and apparently originated in Sweden—possibly as far back as Viking times. Basically, you throw batons to try to knock over pieces of 2x4s, while avoiding a larger piece of wood set up in the center. It’s very easy to make the game—just get yourself a length of 2×4, a length of 1-inch dowel, and a chunk of 4×4. Read the rules on the Wikipedia page here. We’ve learned that Mr. Inventor is the man to have on your team; he almost invariably wins. This game is addictive. I’ve found that you want to keep going, hoping against hope that eventually you’ll actually hit a target! Here are pictures of the game we played together last week.


The spectators. We had to keep moving them out of the playing field. Once, they were stretched out on their tummies, watching us throw!


Sometimes you get to stack up several Kubbs. That makes it easy to knock them down!


We were all amused when Princess chased one of the throwing sticks!


It can be very difficult to get the stack to balance sometimes!


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Walk Around the Kaikoura Peninsula

We had visitors from America last week, so on Sunday after church we took them to the Peninsula and walked around from the carpark at Point Kean (the north side) at sea level to South Bay. Before the earthquake, we had to time such a walk carefully to coincide with low tide—no more. The tide was at least halfway in, maybe more, when we finished our walk, and we were still high and dry.

Starting out from Point Kean—not too different from before. When you look closely, though, there is no life in the cracks, as there used to be, and the rocks are dry and dusty.


A seal, seagulls, and a shag.


Immature seagulls—we inadvertently walked through a nesting ground, although there were no eggs or tiny babies. The young are almost as big as their parents now.


Climbing this rock—irresistible!


Mr. Inventor with Little Miss on his shoulders, Mr. Imagination and Mr. Sweetie


There were a lot more rocks laying at the base of the cliffs than there were last time we did this walk. This one had split open with a very interesting pattern in it. Mr. Sweetie for scale!


This erect-crested penguin is visiting Kaikoura at the moment. Normally, only very small Little Blue Penguins live there. What a treat!


At the toilets at South Bay, the end of our walk. Mr. Inventor must have had sore feet! He walked all that way, over rocks of all shapes and sizes and sharpnesses, barefoot!


Mr. Diligence and Little Miss playing between the pillars.


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Giveaway—Ready or Not

One of my favorite books is Ready or Not, by Chautona Havig. In fact, I like it so well I’ve read it three times now—and enjoyed it as much the third time as the first! She had a giveaway on her blog this week, offering a copy of this book, and I won because I commented on her post. Well, I already own the book, both in Kindle format and a physical copy, so I certainly don’t need another. I would like to bless one of you, or a friend of your choice, with a Kindle copy. Please comment on this post to be entered in a drawing. I’m going to choose a winner in just 22 hours (that will be about 9:00 Friday night, the 17th, here in New Zealand—3:00 am on Friday the 17th EST). If you want to know more about the book, read my review here.


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Book Review—Baggage Claim

I was not going to help launch this book. I decided I was busy enough that Esther could help Cathe Swanson launch her books, and I’d stick to helping Chautona Havig with hers, and Esther was happy about that. Of course, since she got Baggage Claim to read in advance of publication, she sent it to my Kindle when she sent it to hers, and I started reading it a couple of weeks ago. Oops! I ended up wasting a lot of time reading it instead of getting right back to work when I should have. And now, Esther hasn’t even had time to finish the book, so guess who volunteered to write a review and help promote the book! It’s a good one—you won’t regret buying this book and reading it. It published today, so you should be able to get it immediately.


Here is my review, which will stay here until Esther publishes it on her website:

I don’t know when I’ve read a book I’ve enjoyed as much as I enjoyed Baggage Claim. I loved all of it. Cathe Swanson is one of my very favorite authors! I hope she keeps writing. This is only her second published book, but it’s a winner.

Ben Taylor is a young widower with four children, and he has a nanny who keeps his life in order. Teresa Cooper not only takes care of the children, she also keeps the house tidy and meals on the table. Ben has never had life so easy since he got married at 18 after Anneliese got pregnant. Now, though, he is searching for his birthparents. What a mess he finds!

One thing I love about this book is the many stories interwoven skillfully into one. Teresa has a fascinating story; Ben’s history is mysterious and I absolutely loved what he ended up finding; Ben’s life ends up full of intrigue and possible danger. I also love the setting. Ben lives in Chicago, but he ends up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan a few times. One thing I really liked was the mention of Bond Falls in the U. P. I had never heard of it until our family was traveling through that area a number of years ago and saw a sign pointing down a side road toward Bond Falls. It was the most spectacular waterfall I have seen in my life, and is a very special memory, so I was delighted to see it in a book. It was also fun to see the mention of Ontanagon, just because it’s an unusual name for a place, and it’s real. I think I would love this book just for the portrayal of my home state, even if the story wasn’t quite so good!

Besides simply enjoying the story, there were some very meaty parts to it, too. One scene that really stands out in my mind is when Teresa is telling the story to a friend of her experience in a women’s shelter. She describes another woman who was in there, and says that she was the reason that Teresa became a Christian. It wasn’t because she told Teresa about Jesus, but rather that she was a “living testimony” that other women could build on to explain salvation to Teresa. I shared that passage with my husband one afternoon when he was talking about his frustration with himself and not sharing Jesus with the world as much as he wants to. Teresa’s friend’s response was just what my husband needed that day, “Some plant the seed, some water and some harvest. God put it all in place for you. He’s just amazing that way.

I highly recommend Baggage Claim if you’re looking for a great story that’s perfectly clean and pulls you in. It is a long book, but keeps moving. I’m hoping for a sequel—Ben had some unfinished business at the end, although Teresa’s story had a satisfying conclusion! Oh, and my favorite quote from the book? “And Jonah couldn’t find the outhouse at all.” You’ll have to read the book to find out who Jonah is and how an outhouse comes into the story.

WARNING: When Ben is searching for his birth parents, he hears a fairly detailed story from his teenaged mother’s best friend. Later in the book, a girl who is babysitting Ben’s children hits a man over the head with a gun to knock him out so she can tie him up.

Note: The links in this post are Esther’s affiliate links, so if you purchase the book through them you’ll be helping to support her website.

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January 2017 Pictures

Soon after the young turkeys were released into the paddock, a bunch of them got out into the yard and congregated here.14-IMG_1708

Right after Christmas I started a bunch of cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli seeds, and New Year’s weekend got them into potting soil. Now, they are in the garden and growing fast. I’m hoping for a decent fall/winter harvest this year—still trying to work out when the best time is to start that crop.


A family came to visit us the second weekend in January, and that Saturday Gayle took them out to Gore Bay. The boys took their inflatable boat, and the children had fun boating in a lagoon.


The young turkeys often spend time perched on this gate. They sleep in the tree above it at night. One morning I was in the garden at 6:15 to start a sprinkler, and saw the turkeys get up for the day—or rather, down! They flew out of the tree one after another, or a bunch at a time. So funny!


Mr. Inventor’s poultry flock: geese, ducks and turkeys. He must have 70 or 80 birds, or even a hundred, in that flock.


A few days after the family I mentioned above came to visit, I took our children and a couple of theirs to Gore Bay. Since the last time we had been there, sand had come in and covered the rocks on the beach, making a wonderful place to play at low tide. The children had a lot of fun!


It was fun to investigate a starfish we found.


The family who came to visit asked if they can stay here a few weeks while they wait for their visas to be granted. They are living in our shipping container/sleepout, and Mr. Inventor and Mr. Diligence built this gate to go across the driveway that leads to it so they can drive right up to their room. We had just had a section of fencing across it before, to keep wandering sheep out. They built it out of pallets and a few boards given to them by a friend who moved to Australia a few months ago, and hung it on the gate posts put in by a former resident of this house, using the hinges from the original gate. 30-IMG_1812

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Children—January 2017

This is just a random collection of pictures I found on the camera of the children from the past month.

Mr. Sweetie picking cherries the second Sunday of the month.


Mr. Imagination’s reaction when I told him we were working on buying plane tickets to go to America in June. Think he likes the idea? We’re all excited!


To go to America, we have to get American passports for the two youngest. Mr. Imagination has one, but it will be expired before we go, and we haven’t done Little Miss’s American paperwork at all yet. So, one morning Esther and I worked on getting passport pictures taken. That’s a challenge!


We have a family staying with us for awhile. One day I was harvesting cabbage, with help from several children, and Mr. Sweetie found his head covered with cabbage leaves after I trimmed the head!26-IMG_1787

Mr. Inventor went to work again on his well. He got it dug down to about six meters below the surface, with about two meters of water in the bottom, but then the bottom caved in before we were able to try pumping out of it. I love his imagination and ability to make do.


Little Miss pretending to be asleep.


Mr. Sweetie wanted me to take a picture of him with this tower.


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Kaikoura Peninsula—High Tide After the Earthquake

On our second trip to Kaikoura after the earthquake, the second Sunday of January, we went to the Peninsula to see what it looked like at high tide.


Here is the same spot at high tide several years ago:1-IMG_0392

We saw this on the way to church. The earthquake caused the side of the road to slump down.


After leaving Kaikoura, as we started driving along the coast we saw this fresh slip, with the digger just starting to clean it up. We got through—but the road closed early that night. (Part of the highway to the south of Kaikoura, the part that was damaged the worst by the quake, is closed every night from 8pm till 6am the next morning.)


This spot looks like an entire section of a hill dropped down, creating a new gully.


The Oaro overbridge—the bridge with which the highway crosses over the railroad—suffered a lot of damage in the quake. We stopped to have a close look.


At both ends of the bridge, the road dropped about a meter. Apparently, the gravel used for fill under the ends jiggled away during the earthquake. Most of the bridges around dropped at both ends, but most only a few inches. This, of course, is unusable; you have to detour around this spot.


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Kittens and Children

We are really enjoying our kittens! They are so fun to watch, especially for about an hour first thing in the morning when they race all around the living room, over and around the furniture, and over my lap while I’m reading the Bible. Little Miss loves to carry them around. Princess, the black one, is very patient and gentle with her, although she’s the roughest when she’s playing with the rest of us. Bandit, the gray one, though he’s a cuddler with the rest of us, hates to be carried by Little Miss, and sometimes scratches her! She’s offended—but it doesn’t stop her from doing it again!

Mr. Sweetie with Bandit


Little Miss with Bandit


and with Princess


A fight happening on top of Daddy


and another fight on top of Mr. Intellectual


Bandit tried to ride bike! I didn’t quite manage to get a picture of him trying to figure out our mirror, but it was quite funny.


Little ones love kittens! Mr. Imagination and Little Miss


One afternoon, these two spent several hours asleep on a chair under the table. As they moved around in their sleep, they took turns falling off the chair and getting back up.


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New Look at the Kaikoura Peninsula—Low Tide

During the earthquake, the seafloor rose from one to two meters above the former level. This has dramatically changed some parts of the coastline; in Kaikoura, high tide now is approximately where low tide was before the quake! There are rocks visible now that no one knew about before. We went to the Peninsula last Sunday afternoon, around low tide, to see how different it was. This is how it looked just above low tide in 2010, and up until the earthquake:


This is taken from approximately the same place, now, at about the same stage of the tide:


We walked out to the distant rocks, which we were never able to reach before; there was a channel deep enough to snorkel through even at low tide before the quake. Out there, we discovered a colony of baby seals flopping around on the rocks, making a lot of noise. We saw a few of the mothers come in to feed their babies after several days fishing out at sea. It was just amazing to get to see all that—and then, when we returned to the van at the carpark, we got to see a pod of dolphins jumping offshore. I took several videos of what we were treated to, and Esther helped me put them together, so you can enjoy a tiny glimpse, too.

Here are several more pictures of the Peninsula at sea level:



Most of the family also climbed to the top of the Peninsula; I stayed in the van with the two littlest ones. Here are some pictures Esther took from up there; the first is from several years ago, and the second is the same place now.


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Videos of Mr. Imagination

I happened to notice some videos in a folder from October recently, and when I watched them to see what they were remembered that I had wanted to share them. So, here’s a little glimpse into the life and thoughts of Mr. Imagination! By the way, the background music is Gayle singing to Little Miss as he bathed her! He had no idea that he would end up being recorded, and said I’d have to put a disclaimer on. And, I do apologize for the way these fade out in places. Our living room isn’t very light at night, and the camera has a hard time with that.

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