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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Going camping 
I've hardly stopped today. Took down most of the Christmas decorations, did three loads of washing, shifted all the plants round the back to stop them drying out and sorted out stuff for camping. It's mostly done. Just need to pack the chilly bin tomorrow.

It's going to be warm and sunny all week, allegedly. Hopefully Rachael will remember to put on sunblock this time. It's going to be a lot cheaper than last year. The cat (at the Meow-Meow Motel) is costing us more than both children. At least the dog is going to be free, round at Bronwyn's Mum and Dad's.

I've been teaching Sarah to read. She's getting quite good at it. It's a laborious process, but I want her to actually look at the letters, convert them to sounds and put them together. Works well until you get to words like do and go, for example, which have quite different sounds. But she seems to cope with that.

Rachael had her friend Lissa to stay on Thursday night. I spotted them both high up a tree. Rachael doesn't normally climb trees. It's nice to get her out for a change - we're surrounded by 100 acres, and Rachael spends most of her time indoors!

I've got masses done this Christmas, and the house is almost in order. Well, partially. I don't think it's ever been under control since we moved in!

A week camping, then two more weeks, and then Sigrid arrives...

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Sunny days 
Rachael is recovering from a nasty sunburn from before Christmas. She's stopped peeling now, and is currently out in the pool again. I made sure she had some sun block on!

Finally took the tent down. I'm amazed there's still some green grass underneath. We're going camping next weekend, so we needed it packed away.

And I finished Sigrid's room. It now has two light switches (depending on which way you want the door to open) and a variety of pictures and a mirror. Rachael is jealous. She wants to sleep in it. I said she could, when she tidies her own room. Now that the mattress on Rachael's bottom bunk is back in Sigrid's room, you can see all the rubbish underneath!

It's warm and sunny. Half of Bronwyn's family is out hay making, and the other half is fielding phone calls and supplying cold drinks. Apparently it used to be easy, because all the clients were farmers. Now that they're all 'life-stylers' from the city and expect hay making to operate the same as for example, carpet cleaning, it's a lot harder telling them to wait for the sun to come out.

Made a snowman again. I found the original chicken wire and sticks from the last one eight years ago. Bronwyn's mum provided an old duvet which I cut up and wrapped around with some baling twine, and a bit of paint for the face. And a bright orange bicycle helmet. So far the wind has blown it over twice, but it's certainly visible from the road!

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