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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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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