English, as she is spoke. 
Erica's spending 50% of her time at the English School or doing essays. That leaves 30% for sleep, 12% on the bus, and the remaining 8% for eating, washing up, herding sheep and chatting to her long suffering parents and boyfriend back in China. But it's going to be Worth It. She's getting better marks for her essays, and she's been practising her speaking test on as many subjects as possible.

Meanwhile, Rachael spends much of her time playing Minecraft or complaining that Sarah's had the laptop for too long. But she has had good marks at school for most subjects. I remember what it was like. Some teachers marked me well for encouragement, and others marked me badly to make me work harder, and then protested that I was one of their star pupils when I decided to switch subjects!

I'm off to Christchurch for another youth work conference next week. I don't do any of the youth work, I just work on the committee. But it's always been great to get to know such a dedicated and welcoming bunch of people, and it's very useful to understand what the front line people are going through. I've been told to pack a sleeping bag, pillow and towel, plus walking shoes and a warm jacket as well as formal wear for an evening meal. Not sure how I'm going to stuff all that into the one regulation suitcase that I'm allowed!

It's actually going to be warmer down there than up in Auckland!

Bronwyn's made it to two visits to the dentists, plus the opticians for her and Sarah, and haircuts for the girls. A great achievement, but we're now on strict rations until the paycheck comes in on Monday. I'm hoping the Australians can work out how to use a New Zealand bank account, and that our first and only customer for the new business will remember to pay.

Apparently he's always been good in the past. And we're finally getting our heads round the system, and have been able to give him something worth looking at for his cash. I'm still juggling time, working half for the new and half for the old. The old contract expires at the end of July. So there's one month left to decide which master I serve!

Janet and Ross return soon. Meanwhile we've managed to hold the fort, apart from a few slipups with stray sheep and broken tractors. And Allan hit a cow last week. An Aberdeen Angus. The cow was limping but otherwise fine. Allan's ute is rather munted.

Well, better finish packing. By dawn tomorrow, I'll be in Christchurch! It's Jetstar again, so with any luck they'll get me home as well.

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Erica's been told she need to complete two essays every night. So she works hard at school all day, then does another hour or two back at home. She's started to take a pillow along with her for the bus journey.

Rachael's been out all day on a shopping trip organised by Auntie Claire. She's come back home with a couple of bags of clothes and shoes, and a rather sparkly watch. Sarah was a bit upset that she wasn't getting a special day out. We'll have to plan something when she turns thirteen...

Bronwyn's parents are still in England, and have done quite a tour of the country, plus all the usual stops for friends and relatives. We had a Skype chat last night round at Claire and Nigel's for Janet's birthday. I won't say which birthday, but it was A Significant One!

Meanwhile, we had some fun trying to move the sheep yesterday. I have theories about sheep. They seem to be completely stupid, yet have a collective intelligence that beats any human. Their telepathic powers are extraordinary, and they know exactly where you want them to go, in order to ensure they go in the opposite direction. Fortunately they have short memories, so after a couple of hours shut up in the wrong paddock they get the idea that they actually want to be in the right one!

Lots of rain today. Got a few jobs indoors instead. Sarah and Erica attacked the freezer with knives and hacked off the ice. I'm not sure which is worse... Erica with a knife or Sarah with a lump of ice!

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Fun on the farm 
This week was my first doing half time on the old job and half on the new. Made some good progress on the new job, thrashing out ideas and setting up a basic demo to keep the customer happy. Fixed a number of issues on the old job too, although with the reduced hours, it's getting harder to do everything. I turned up to the office a couple of times but nobody was there. It's a little tricky with the bosses in Australia, and the other two guys in Melbourne and Romania!

Rachael's friend Ashley came round for a sleepover. She wanted to go for a walk up in the bush, but stopped by the dam. The two girls then spotted the canoe and rowing boat that have been sitting there for years, and decided to try them out. We (I'm glad they didn't try it alone!) found one intact oar (plus some mush that might once have been the other oar and canoe paddle) and set off across the dam. It's not easy paddling a boat with one oar. Managed to get back with the oar plus a piece of rotten tree that Ashley was using on the other side of the boat. Then... Rachael went out in the canoe. On her own. I think she's used a kayak at camp, but this has to be the first time I've seen it. So Bronwyn's planning to buy a new canoe paddle...

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Not an easy day. 
We lost a lamb today. Bronwyn found it lying down in a swamp a week ago, and brought it in. It looked like it wouldn't make it, but after a couple of days under the heat lamp it was up and about. Yesterday it spent quite a long time eating out in the garden. But today it couldn't stand up, and spent all day lying on the grass, rasping and wheezing. It just didn't have the strength to fight off the infection, and Allan quietly put it down. Sometimes things just don't work out the way you want them to.

And I've just had news that my Grandad's died. At 107, he was the ninth oldest man in Britain. It's also the same day several years ago that my dad died. Bronwyn's sent some flowers to mum.

Erica's spent her first week in the language school, and everything's going well so far. She's applied for a student visa (she's still here on the Working Holiday visa from last year). And she's also helping her boyfriend get a visa for when he comes to visit in October. Maybe she should go into business as an immigration agent.

I've been getting up really early this week. I take Erica to her bus for 7:15am, then back to help sort out Sarah and get Rachael for 7:40, then back again to see Sarah down the drive to her bus at 7:50. On Friday, Bronwyn did a day at one of her old childcare centres, so she went off as well, leaving me all alone after a short burst of chaos. Next week, I'm down to half time at the old job, and starting up the new one in the afternoons. Should be interesting...

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OMG a teenager in the house... 
Rachael's party was last night. We had a UV bulb, about 150 glowsticks, fluorescent face paint and a variety of other decorations and streamers. I brought out some magic fairy dust from the laundry to sprinkle on the floor. It glows well in UV. And more fun than washing clothes with it. The girls were still up at midnight! Spent most of Saturday preparing the lounge, so we're tired today.

Sarah had a party (one of her friends) too. And she got to ride a pony. Very nervous at first, but she got used to it, and has been invited back to try again after school sometime.

I drove a tank!

OK, an armoured personnel carrier. But it came complete with catarpillar tracks and poison gas defences. Took a little time getting used to steering by applying one brake, and the gyroscopic clutch.

Erica has been sampling a few language schools, and has chosen one to start next week. I've been getting up really early to put her on the 7:15am bus. Then Rachael goes on the 7:40, and Sarah at 7:50. At least Sarah's bus goes past our house so we just have to send her down the drive in time!

It was quiet at work this week. Daniel's gone to Romania for several months, Kyle's in Melbourne and Ben's been busy back at the old office since he's still technically working for them. And the Australians are back at home. Think I'll work from home tomorrow.

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