Monday, September 21, 2015

Home front September Update!

Well It's been a while. I've been having problems with uploading photo's from a variety of sources onto my blog. Albert upgraded my laptop to Windows 10 and since then I've been unable to find my photos easily. It's a work in progress!

Well what have we been up to since I write my last update (which I know, I know I posted only a couple of days ago but I wrote it ages ago!)

This continues to go well for us. The junior school is putting on a production on the last week of term 3 called the Peace Child by Don Gilbertson. An excellent book if you haven't read it already! Kate and Zara are involved in this production. There have been lots and lots and lots of practices. Since the production is in its final stages, there are full dress rehearsals complete with make-up (which yours truly managed, can I have a big cheer!).

I also managed to find the girls the required clothing (all black for Zara and cargo pants for Kate) at a second hand shop, I felt very brave going into the Savemart warehouse. (I'm sure there is such a  'condition' as 'clothing buying phobia', the phobia especially gets worse when LARGE amounts of secondhand clothing is presented, I seriously struggle to see the 'tree' in that forest of clothing!) Note of course I'm not against buying second hand at all, in fact it was the only place where I could find a black skivy for Zara at a very cheap price!

Grace is also doing a production with the intermediate school about Gideon and the vanishing army! I'm looking forward to watching the full productions next week!

I'm so thrilled that the girls (ok, not Michaela) are able to be part of a production. There are such great life skills to be learned, from patience, to being kind, loving, accepting, respect, teamwork etc.

A couple of other things happened, I'll bullet point them for you:
  • Aaron and Audra and kids arrived safely in NZ! One VERY early Wednesday morning we packed the girls in the car and drove to Auckland Airport to finally meet our friends! It was so nice to finally see them. It has been amazing to follow their journey to be able to come to NZ, God opened many doors and baby # 4. How exciting! I admire their courage especially since they had never been over here! Aaron has started a blog where he is documenting some of their NZ adventures, here it is: thiskiwilifeblog
  • Anniversary - We celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary at the beginning of September and the lovely Hannah F offered to look after the girls for the day while we went and tramped on Rangitoto Island where we first 'met' about 19 years ago! Unbeknownst to us, Albert's sister Raewyn and family also were returning from their USA trip that day. On a whim we decided to surprise them at the Auckland Airport. Again a very early start to the day but oh so worth it, we hadn't seen each other in person for about 3+ years! We had a lovely day and the girls had a fantastic time with Hannah also! 
  • We booked our ferry trip to the South Island for the Couperus family gathering in January 2016. We are looking forward to catching with every one!
  • We have done some tramping in the Hakrimata's close to Hamilton with the girls. One of the uphill parts (which is very popular) has about 1300 steps going about 370 metres up. That's a lot of stairs, nevertherless  we (well the adults) were sore for quite a number of days afterwards!)
One more subject I would like to say a bit on is money. I've talked about money before and being a student family and being fully supported. The last three years have been so humbling to see God at work in all sorts of ways. He not only provided for ALL our needs but plenty of wants also. Now that Albert is working again it has been lovely to finally (in a positive way) to have some of our own 'earned' money. We are able to save (for Christian school fees, a big YAY!), able to buy some things we needed and have a little more wriggle room in our grocery budget! My love of bargains hasn't diminished however and I still look for all the 'reduced to clear' items at the local supermarket! I mean why pay full price when you don't have to! This means that we have been able to eat a variety of different meats and food yet still keeping to a budget! 

I'll share with you just a little example of us being able to be a little bit more flexible with our money. One of the stores in the local shopping center is closing down and so is having a huge clearance sale. I stumbled on this by accident as I was buying something for the production at school. One of the items I bought was some 'loom bands' for Zara's hair. (She needs to have it all plaited for the production). When I bought them home, the girls were asking whether they could have the leftovers for their loom. Of course I said. I hadn't realized that the girls were still very much into the loom bracelets etc. (We had actually never bought the looms for them when they were popular, they 'bought' some at Gems at one of their end of year functions) Since we haven't got a lot of craft out at all moment, I decided to buy the girls some bands and another loom as a surprise! I went back to the store and bought lots of bands in various colors and another loom. When the girls got home from school and saw what I had bought them 'just because' they were astonished. They could not believe that I would just buy something just for them without it being their birthday or Christmas! One of the girls asked "Are you sure that we can buy that with our money?". I had to reassure them that yes I paid cash and no I didn't spend lots of money and yes it is just because! It warmed my heart to be able to do something little for them. Since then they have been making loom creations all weekend! It really is the little/simple things in life!

PS Hopefully the container from the USA with our stuff arrives this week! We are excited to be reunited with so many of our USA/Canada memories!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Home Front Update August 2015

Settling in versus Routine
I've had a lot of questions lately about the fact how we are settling in. My answer to this question is that we are settling in very well. I have however been reflecting on this question with regard to our new life. We are settling in well BUT making new routines isn't quite as easy. Not in a bad way just different. Let me explain. For three years we have lived a very rigorous seminary bubble student life, where Albert would get up at 4.30am to study and come home at 5pm, have dinner and then go to bed around 8.30pm. Since Albert now has night meetings and the girls have a school routine, we have had to get used to a new routine. A change is not a bad thing, but it does take time. I think we now have the school routine down pat. Albert is getting into an excellent routine studying from home and attending various meetings. 

Some reflections on School
I have made no secret of the fact that self discipline with regard to a homeschooling routine wasn't one of my strong points. I almost feel like a burden has been taken of my shoulders because I'm no longer responsible for the day to day academics. Of course Albert and I take our biblical responsibility to parent and educate them very seriously. At this stage in life we have just chosen to outsource the schooling part! The parenting part continues to be hard work (so it should be!!) especially as we are entering into a new phase in our life, the teenage years! I actually look forward to the teenage years. I still have to pinch myself that I have a daughter who goes to high school, it's plain weird! Albert has been able to be home for dinner every day and so this gives an excellent opportunity to interact on a more adult level with the girls! The girls (all of them in fact) have some excellent questions about all sorts of topics which we enjoy discussing at the dinner table. Of course school brings some questions (no schooling option is a perfect solution) which have been great to discuss. 

A couple of weeks ago we had the privilege to be able to go to parent/teacher interviews. Although our girls didn't get reports we enjoyed meeting each girl's teacher (apart from some of Michaela's). It was my fear (and maybe other homeschoolers as well) whether or not we had done enough to enable the girls to slot back into the school system. I'm very pleased to report that our God is faithful in answering my prayer and that the girls, although they had some gaps, which was to be expected, all entered back into the school system with flying colors! No red flags!!! 

We are thrilled for the girls to be able to go to an excellent school. I'm enjoying getting to know some of the Mums and taking part in some of the school activities. Albert has been volunteering his time in some one-on-one tutoring. 

So what keeps me busy then in this new season of my life?
Well I know I tried to answer that last month but since now we are in a more regular routine, I'm able to give you an update. I try to attend the Junior school Assembly on Friday afternoons and attend the school's prayer meeting once a week. I also have joined a ladies bible study on Wednesday morning on Proverbs. It has been nice to get to know more ladies from both of the Reformed churches here in Hamilton. It feels such a privilege to be able to have free time to go. On my school taxi driving runs I've been trying to listen to a sermon or two. School is about a 20 min drive each direction so that's a fair amount of downtime. I haven't been able to do this for a long time as the girls were always home. I have joined the Masters Swimming club and I'm out two nights a week to swim with the club. The coach has been very helpful in refining my freestyle stroke! 

We've also been trying to show plenty of hospitality. I know it is part of the 'job' as such but we have received SO much hospitality over the three years we were in the USA and Canada which we were unable to repay that I'm trying to extend that same hospitality that we received to our dinner guests! Not to pay back but to pay forward, hopefully people will be as blessed as we have been by YOUR generosity and hospitality. In saying that USA and Canadian friends, there is ALWAYS a place at our table for you! (and a bed!!).