Taking care 
Rachael was off school on Friday because her throat hurt. Then late last night she had a fever, and ended up in hospital. She was only there for a couple of hours, but I had to drive out at midnight and pick up her and Bronwyn. She's been quiet today. Very quiet. And rather tired.

Meanwhile Bronwyn spotted a lamb on the paddock that hadn't moved all morning, born late yesterday. But after an afternoon under the heat lamp and a bottle of colostrum he's perked up quite a bit. So now we've got a new lamb in the outhouse. Sarah's named him Tom.

Still plenty more lambs yet to pop...

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Cold and damp 
Got the lawnmower started.

Tried it, battery flat. Tried jump starting it on the car, then borrowed a charger overnight. Next morning, still no good. Ah. Put petrol in. Started first time.

Had quite a bit of rain since then. But at least the grass is cut.

We've had a quiet week. Rachael went to the indoor ski slope with a friend, and Sarah went to the movies with Mum. Other than that, it's been pretty quiet. School tomorrow.

We invited the local Maori to a ceremony on the church land this morning. We have 11 acres, with nothing but a few cows on it. It was part of a big plan to move to a new building. It's been part of a big plan for a while now. So at 6am (traditional Maori time, apparently) we had a blessing ceremony, and at 11am (traditional Baptist time) another service followed by a barbecue. 6am was very dark, cold and damp, and the ground was sodden. But the rain held off, and it all went well...

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A bit windy 
We've had major storms this week. Probably the strongest north easter we've ever had. On Tuesday night I set off to go to a brass band committee meeting. As I left, there was a bright blue flash in the distance. I thought it might be lightening, but lightening isn't usually blue. But the traffic lights were out, and the band hall was in darkness. We signed a few cheques by torchlight, and then went home. On the way back, I narrowly missed a tree that had fallen across the road. I turned round and was going to try and shift it, but then I noticed it was lying across the power lines and there were glowing embers where it had touched the cable. So I went back and called the fire brigade.

Shortly after, Bronwyn's brother Allan turns up and asks if everything's alright. I mentioned about the tree. He said he'd already cleared it, plus another up on the back road! The police and fire brigade had turned up and found nothing to do. Ah well. I guess by then the whole district was out so he wouldn't have got a shock... We had a game of UNO by candle light, huddled round the fire place, and then went to bed, with buckets placed strategically so we could refill the toilet. We didn't get power back until the next afternoon. It was still quite wild yesterday, but no more power cuts!

I missed one item last week. After the initial welcome onto the lower Marae, we were supposed to have lunch there. But somehow they'd got the message that there were only 50 of us. So after waiting two and a half hours, we were treated to a dinner of noodles and sweet & sour pork from the local Chinese! Even that wasn't enough, so the last 30 got fish and chips. Nobody seemed to mind though, and we had a very interesting time sharing as we waited for the food.

Rachael's been off at a Forensics Camp at Kristin School this week. Kristin is expensive, so it's probably about the only time I can ever say that my daughter goes to Kristin! She's had a really interesting time solving clues and hunting for fingerprints. Today was the trial, and they divided the teams into two for defence and prosecution. Neither side won, but Rachael is keen to go back next year.

Sarah had a bit of a fever on Monday, and hardly did anything. Fortunately it's school holidays, so she didn't have to! Next week Bronwyn's planned a few activities...

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A visit from the mob 
Had a fantastic, but very tiring time up in Waitangi. Two maori welcomes, a boat trip across the bay, several seminars, a lot of history and a visit from the Mongrel Mob.

There are two maraes at Waitangi. One is where the Maori gathered to debate the treaty, and we were taken to the exact spot. The other is on the grounds where the treaty was signed, and again we were shown the exact spot where the tent was erected. I've already heard a lot of the history of Waitangi, but there was still plenty I've never heard before.

The boat trip went out to Marsden Cross, where Samuel Marsden preached the first sermon (Christmas Day, 200 years ago). This was shortly before he founded the first oil refinery further down the coast. We had hired a ferry and a smaller jetboat, and the jetboat was the only one able to land on the shore, so it took at least half an hour to get 230 people off the big boat a few at a time. Glorious sunshine, which turned to a heavy downpour as we gathered round the cross. Funny how disaster gives you a sense of togetherness. Fortunately someone had checked the forecast, and had hundreds of cheap plastic ponchos, so we huddled under our plastic bags together.

We had a number of Maori bigwigs including one who had enormous sideburns. In some cultures, you show your status by the size of your moustache. I decided he must be absolutely up there at the top.

One evening we had a visit from ten gang members. Mongrel Mob and Black power side by side. They were largely older men, who had been in the gangs since the beginning, but had decided they had had enough of the violence and wanted to change things. So they had raised money and run family days and children's camps, and used their influence to try to persuade others. What struck me was the historical parallel. We'd been hearing stories of how the warring tribes had made peace long ago after long and bloody conflicts. Now we had the beginnings of another reconciliation. Sure, they were rough and they swore and they still liked their marijuana. But it was a movement from within, and we had the sense of history in the making.

It's taken me a few days to get my energy back. Meanwhile, Bronwyn has been up early getting both girls ready, and also doing quite a few hours working. The manager absolutely loves her. One day, they had rice to eat, and of course it went everywhere. So Bronwyn picks it all up afterwards and mops the floor. The manager was so stunned she decided to pay her for the time even though she'd been voluntary that day.

It's been rather cold and wet. We're expecting a few lambs this week. They usually wait for the most miserable weather before giving birth. We're going to have to keep an eye on the sheep - we've just lost one this week, probably from the cold and damp. No frosts recently though.

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Edible mud 
Bronwyn's dad is turning 70, so we had everybody round for a birthday party. Claire made a cake. She's definitely getting better. This one had two round tiers decorated as paddocks, with the hay barn on the top. She'd made sheep, a cow, several birds, the dam with water lillies, fences, straw and even a smear of brown colouring for some mud. Only room for four candles though!

We still had a couple of tents with broken carbon fibre poles. Apparently you can get new poles to repair them with. So I finally went in and bought some, and then spent a couple of hours with a hacksaw cutting them to size. Not as hard as I'd thought. The hardest bit was threading the elastic string all the way through them again. So now we've got a couple of decent tents, and a few leftover poles. I think I'll bring a hacksaw on camp next year.

Sarah fell while doing cross country, and it looks like it triggered off the concussion from a previous couple of bumps. So now she's banned from sports at school for a few months, and has tablets to try and reduce the inflammation. But otherwise she's fine. Rachael's in fine shape. Plenty of homework though.

I've been busy this last couple of weeks. I've been working on three different projects, and managed to finish two last week. The third, which has been going on all year, is due to be demonstrated at a conference tomorrow, so our customer is busy checking it all out, and we're on call to fix anything he spots. He's currently in Mt Isa. This is a small mining town in the back of western Queensland. Internet is not good. So he's been working from a coffee shop. Except they don't provide mains power, so he's been going back home to keep the battery topped up! It's a website for home buyers, helping them to identify the services they're going to need, and linking them with providers. It's also got quite a sophisticated search facility. My favourite is the owner search. Type in someone's name and you can find out what properties they own. I wonder how long it will be before someone complains...

Bronwyn's been busy with work and various courses. Sounds like she's been popular at the childcare centre. She does her best to bring in lots of different activities. Especially ones that involve scaring the other staff! Meanwhile, I'm off to Waitangi in a week for the youth work conference. This will be my fourth conference, and the first one was at Waitangi too. It's the place where the treaty was signed between the British and the United Tribes. There are plenty of long stories about that, but it's really quite a special place. I'm looking forward to going back.

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