Differentiation. 
The news has had little else apart from the Christchurch earthquake. It looks like it could end up worse than the Hastings-Napier quake where 256 people died. Bronwyn's brother might end up going down to help. We've had to get a Girl Guide uniform for Rachael second hand, since most of the new stock is buried in the headquarters. Just heard today that the family of the soldier recently killed in Afghanistan have cancelled the military funeral so that the regiment can return to New Zealand and help out.

Otherwise, it's been a quiet week. Sigrid has had plenty of homework, much of which involves endless equations and calculus. Bronwyn has finally sent off the forms to renew her teaching certificate. Rachael has been out at a Girl Guide camp for the weekend. Last night, one of the neighbours had a party, and we were all invited. Sigrid and her two friends were helping in the kitchen, and didn't get to bed until at least 2am. They're looking a little tired today.

I gave Sigrid a driving lesson. Her first. She's not allowed to drive on the road, so we went round the paddock. She got the hang of it quite quickly, and managed to avoid hitting the cows. She was really pleased afterwards! When they've mowed the big paddock, we might try second gear.

It was the 65th anniversary at the church today. We had several visiting speakers, and a big photo call out the front. We're still in the old building, although it's been some time since we bought a new plot of land. Trying to pay off the mortgage first...



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Action packed 
Sigrid is settling in really well. Sarah loves her, and falls asleep on her in the car. Rachael is really pleased to have a big sister with her on the school bus. She's getting on OK at school, and I've been teaching her music and (briefly) calculus. She's also been to the youth group, met lots of people she knew from school and won the limbo dancing. She's also joked about taking her swimming togs with her everywhere, because Aucklanders don't seem to be able to survive long out of water.

We took her to the Chinese Lantern festival, where there were a number of sculpted lanterns, various performances and martial arts, and thousands of people. It wasn't easy moving around. But it's all about cultural understanding. I hear China is pretty crowded too.

The brass band is nearing completion on the new hall, and we've had several weekends to clean and decorate it before we move in. We've been rehearsing in an old packing shed, which is also being used by the petanque club. We blast them out, and they entertain us with their drunken laughter at the after match drinks. It'll be great to have a hall to ourselves!

My boss wants me to pimp my table. The one I built from an old computer server. He wants blue strobe lights and compressors to bounce the legs. I might manage the strobe lights. We've taken on a couple of new people, and things have been gearing up over the last year, although still far too much work to do.

Haymaking is still underway. Sigrid wanted to learn to drive, but she's not allowed on the road. So once they've done the big paddock, I might take her for some lessons. Meanwhile, Bronwyn's brother got told that the baler was 3 centimetres too wide, and he'd have to buy flags to mark it. Then Bronwyn's dad managed to lose one. Bronwyn made a new one out of some bright yellow furry material. It's really bright, and somewhat frilly, but a little too small for the regulations, so we might have to extend the material.

Warm and dry. Haven't had much rain since Sigrid arrived, but it's all still quite green. Fortunately Sigrid hasn't got any more sunburn, and is showing a bit of a tan. She's also taken to running up the hill and right round the forest, which is more than I've ever done.



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A weekend parachuting 
My boss says I've gone down in his estimation. He thought I was some sort of dare devil, who climbed rocks and jumped out of aeroplanes for a hobby. When I told him that Parachute was a very much earth bound festival (apart from the vertical bungy) and I was only doing the coffee, he said he was really disappointed.

It rained so much on the first night that hardly anybody turned out, and I caught a frog hopping across the grass in front of the cafe. Fortunately they've made improvements to the drainage, so there wasn't any major flooding, although quite a few tents collapsed in the wind afterwards. The other two nights were better. On the Saturday night I came in a little early, and watched the last two acts on Main Stage. Now, I'm of the opinion that music has to stand up by its own merits, without all the special effects. However, with 100 times the volume, 6000 people, three huge screens, enough lights to give Auckland a very happy Christmas, fireworks and ten foot gas flames, I had to admit it was really impressive. Really enjoyed it. Glad nobody got their trousers singed.

Sigrid has been here just over a week. So far she's done two beaches, the Underwater World, haymaking, herding cows, tramping through the bush and several days at college. She's coping really well, and I think the girls will really miss their big sister when she leaves. I'm attempting to learn Norwegian, and she's attempting to learn to read music and play the piano. It's very warm and humid right now, so she's had to buy a whole new set of clothes. We've already fitted her with some gumboots. She'll be right.

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The carpet 
We had an old carpet in the spare room. Bronwyn hated it, so she put it underneath as an underlay. I got it out and gave it a good clean and shampoo. She's right. It's hideous. She put it up for auction, along with some old baby stuff.

The carpet is now at $85. I gather that 1970's hideousness must be back in fashion. We don't currently have it. A production company has hired it for $40 to do a film shoot. So our manky old carpet has already brought is $125. Not bad.

Done a lot of sorting out and clearing up for Sigrid when she arrives tomorrow night. Apparently she had to put her Harry Potter book back on the shelf; it was too heavy. So I gathered up our collection and left it on her bookshelf.

I'm off to Parachute tomorrow though. It's going to be wet - we've got another cyclone. Last week we had enough rain to fill up the tank. Don't need any more! Parachute (a music festival) is on an agricultural showgrounds which was designed for farming but not for tents. It's going to flood...

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Gone camping 
About 0.1 mm of rain all week. Apparently there's going to be a downpour next week. The camp site was not too full and not too empty. Plenty of new friends around, and we had about three different neighbours on one side. The first had been there for several weeks, and came back every year. They knew quite a few of the other regulars. Their favourite was to sit out after dark and spot satellites. The next lot were there for two nights because their daughter got given a tent, and wanted some real camping. Then the last lot were there for the nearby surf championships, and their girls spent hours playing in the water with ours. Around the field were the kite people, who had some incredible three dimensional kites. They also had Christmas lights flashing on the their tent every night. Then there was the family in the next field, who organised a little creche, complete with toasted marshmallows.

We spent quite a while exploring the shore, from the bouncy tree by the jetty (a great workout) round to the surf beach on the far side of the wildlife reserve. And down to the other end of the beach, about 5 miles away. We also went to the limestone caves, which had no map, no warnings, nothing. A rather interesting experience, and I have no idea if we actually made it to the end or not!

Now that we're back, both girls are at Bronwyn's parents', and Bronwyn's taking me out to dinner for my birthday. Meanwhile, I've been unpacking the car and doing an awful lot of washing...

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