Too much cake... 
Car has a new shock absorber and brake hoses. Washing machine has a new drum brake solenoid (which the chinese manufacturers labelled as a drain pump motor, even though it's none of those three) and doesn't make a racket during the spin cycle. Had to drive to south Auckland to buy that thing.

Tomorrow is Rachael's book party. The books have arrived, and Rachael's really proud. She's also rather tired, having had a sleepover at the church, and a day at ActionWorld (involving lots of acrobatics and inflatables). She had her birthday last Thursday, and we're still working through the cake...

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Books, birthdays, work, mice... 
Rachael has had a book published! Well, professionally produced and bound, anyway. She wrote it at achool last year, and Bronwyn typed it all out. We've ordered thirty copies, and she's going to do a presentation to her old school. Might even sell a few copies too! We're going to have a book party next week where she'll be available to sign copies...

Sarah's party went smoothly; we had four extras plus Sarah and Rachael. On her birthday Bronwyn taped up her doorway and decorated it with balloons and flowers! Rachael's birthday is next week; and fortunately the church youth group happened to organise a couple of events just at the right time. All going smoothly so far...

Bronwyn had a four hour placement at one centre that looked badly in need of attention. She's also had three days at one of her old centers, and another one or two days next week. And she's just been clearing out the old kennels in the garden in order to put in a chicken run. Keeps her occupied.

Rather wet for the last week or two, and the cold wind has found all the gaps in the floorboards. All the local mice have decided to move in for the winter, so I've been busy climbing up into the roof and applying peanut butter to a number of traps. Got about 10 so far. Didn't think there were that many in here!

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Tired, but busy... 
Rachael and Esther have been communicating via letters and Facebook video. Meanwhile, Nick has been attempting to grow some manuka from seed, and so far failing. I've been collecting some seed to post over in case he fails.

Rachael's been down with tonsilitis, Bronwyn's had a nasty headache and more asthma, and I've ended up on antibiotics again. Sarah's fine, which is just as well!

The frost got to my bean crop, so we've rescued as much as we can, and Bronwyn's been taking a basketful around the neighbours. Always seems to be the way. You plant vegetables, but don't seem to eat many! At least we made the most of lettuces and potatoes. Meanwhile, the supposedly frost tender little mandarin tree is perfectly fine, and has produced a healthy crop for once.

Bronwyn suddenly decided to start applying for jobs, but we haven't been able to locate her certificates. However, she's managed to get a short term job with one of her old centers, and a couple of random days with another center. Meanwhile, I'm still doing a fair amount for a couple of other people, and there was supposed to be a one-day-a-week job coming up shortly. Of course, I'm now back at work full time, so it could be interesting...

We're entering the Birthday Zone. Sleepovers and parties all round...

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The aftermath 
Rachael and Esther are really missing each other. They've both written a letter. Just waiting for the long distance post to cross over.

Coralie left again yesterday (she's been back for a few days), early in the morning. She was really sad to go too. She's off in Australia, and then Thailand. Then back to France for her brother's wedding. All the best, Coralie. We'll miss you.

I've been tidying the house, putting the tent away, and dealing with a mound of washing. I've also been dealing with the washing machine. It needed a two foot screwdriver to tighten a certain bolt. I improvised with some fencing wire and a socket spanner I borrowed from work. There was also a loud rasping sound whenever it was in the rinse and spin cycles. I took the back off, and after some investigation decided that a little pull cable had got pulled too far, and was now too long. So I'm trying to shorten it somehow.

Meanwhile, Bronwyn's been buying shares in the garden center, and has been doing a lot of planting and weeding. Currently she's mowing the back lawn. The sweetcorn is just about ready, and I've thrown in a few more old potatoes. Marvellous things, potatoes. When they get old and soft, just dig a few holes and throw them in. Come back later, and there's more in the ground than you started with!

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Double trouble 
Nick and Esther went home today. It's been quite a packed couple of weeks. Nick's been updating Facebook every night, so I'll just share some of his postings! We've been to Rotorua, Taupo, Ngatea, Pahi, Whangarei, Waipu caves, Auckland (numerous times), Orewa and Muriwai. A fair chunk of New Zealand. Esther and Rachael got on really well, and have promised to write to each other. Nick brought his purple plastic trombone (with matching lime green mouthpiece) and we had the chance to play at church and in a band rehearsal.

Esther is mad about climbing trees. We took her through the bush on the farm several times, and to the huge fig tree in Pahi, and a big Rata in Whangarei, and numerous others. Didn't get to Tane Mahuta (the biggest Kauri in New Zealand) but then it's not really climbable. Rachael has been doing her best to follow her, but hasn't quite got the nerve. Meanwhile, I've been collecting leaves and identifying them all. Quite suprising how many species we've got in that bush on the hill!

The car has issues. Nick took over driving at Tirau, and tried to keep up with Bronwyn. The engine responded, but the wheels didn't. We had to swap back again after a slight puff of burning clutch. Had to drive slowly until it cooled down a bit. Seems fine for now, but I think it might be time to get a new car! Washing machine is falling apart as well...

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