The Big Meeting 
A few weeks ago, Bronwyn had been at work, and was putting the children to bed. But another woman was off on a break, and so Bronwyn had to collect and prepare the children as well. It's a little difficult to get children to settle - if one starts playing, the others do too. Our daughter Sarah didn't want to go to sleep, and started screaming and scratching at Bronwyn. So Bronwyn tapped her on the hand.

The leader happened to be in the room at the time (and apparently chatting about something else and not helping). She saw the tap on the hand. So she charged Bronwyn with gross misconduct, and gave her a formal letter.

That weekend, several people looked through the letter, and the procedures, and agreed it was completely over the top. They had quoted the wrong procedures, and the statements conflicted. One friend phoned her son, who happened to be a lawyer. He wasn't able to take the case, so he phoned a friend of his who could.

At this point the company got really defensive, and threatened to contact the teacher's council, which could have ended Bronwyn's career. So it was well worth hiring the lawyer, even though it cost us quite a bit.

The meeting started with the company presenting case, in a manner which suggested they'd already made up their mind. But the lawyer stated the case quite plainly, and Bronwyn managed to stay calm as she described the incident. After a short break, the company people came back, and said that in the circumstances (i.e with the ambiguities in the statements) they were going to make it just a First Warning. So Bronwyn went back to work on Thursday.

It seems the leader of the centre wasn't too pleased, and hasn't said a lot to Bronwyn since! Bronwyn is planning her escape. I've told her to keep her head down...

Spent most of yesterday sanding and painting the bunk beds for Rachael. Got through four cans of purple paint. Will probably need two more. Decided not to do any painting today, so I've been over to Bronwyn's mum's to transplant some tree seedlings that have grown in her garden. I now have 38 trees growing on the windowsill, plus the seeds that I sowed a few weeks ago.

Bronwyn and the girls are currently off looking at some kittens. We've had a long saga with cats this year. Perhaps it might go more smoothly if they start young rather than rescued as strays!

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Down by the riverside 
Just came back from the regional brass band contest - as usual, I don't know the results yet, but it went down really well. We finished with the Radetsky march. The announcer described the piece, and then dramatically introduced us. The conductor started, but nothing happened. He tried again, but nothing happened. Then we burst in at double speed. It went on like that until one section where the band played in a swing tempo, and two of us jump up playing a solo, simultaneously. I played Down By The Riverside at full volume, which fits The Radetsky March remarkably well. The conductor pretended to get more and more annoyed. We then switched to kazoos for the next section, and finally finished the piece with the conductor still conducting. Went down really well.

It's warm and sunny here, although the weather won't settle into summer until mid December. But we might be going to the beach to have dinner shortly.

The Big Meeting has been postponed until tomorrow morning. I'm just hoping this will be the end of it, and that Bronwyn can get on with her job whether she stays there or not.

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A busy day 
The world's financial markets are in meltdown, Iceland has gone "down the googler" (as they say here), and the real estate market is looking, um, a little unreal. But life goes on in the farm.

I spent yesterday morning up in the bush working hard. Some signposts had been provided, and several of us had volunteered to carry the posts through the woods, drill holes in the earth, and put up the signposts. Took about three hours. Then in the afternoon I dismantled the trampoline. One of the joints has torn in the wind. It's fixable, but I had to take it all to pieces to get at the part. The net is still in perfect order, but the pads around the edge are in a sorry state. However, I have a plan involving the rain cover (which wasn't very useful because it was continually full of water) and a pair of scissors. Might keep it useable for another year or two.

After that, I sanded down part of a bunk bed that we had bought during the week. It was second hand, and I had to drive the ute into the city and back to pick it up. It's bright red, and has quite a bit of flaking paint and rust so we're going to sand it down and paint it purple, on Rachael's request.

In the evening, we went to see a concert by the Auckland Youth Orchestra. They were really good, and it was well worth it (Bronwyn's sister had bought us the tickets) but it was half past eleven by the time we got home to relieve the tired babysitters.

So I'm a bit tired today. Had to get up early too; I was running the computer at church, and doing a couple of items on trombone. It's also the regional contest for the brass band next week, so we've had extra rehearsals. Our finale is the Radetsky March. It's an entertainment contest, so we've altered things a bit. The band ignores the conductor for the first half and plays either too fast or too slow. Then suddenly we go into a swing beat, and I lurch in with a loud solo of "Down By The Riverside". We then switch to kazoos for the next section, before playing the ending perfectly after the conductor has stormed off stage. If we can pull that off, it should go down well.

On top of all that, Bronwyn's had some major issues at work, and there's a Big Meeting on Tuesday. I'll explain more after the event, but we'd appreciate your prayers this week!

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An eventful week 
I passed a policeman's hat. It was shortly after I passed a police car. I stopped. So did another car. We both walked towards it cautiously and stared at it. Then the other man announced himself as a retired police officer, so I let him pick it up. He was about to chase after the police car when it returned. I flagged it down, and the policeman set the lights flashing and pulled over. "Have you lost your hat?" I said. "Ah, thank you sir", he said, collected it and drove off.

Not sure how he managed to lose it. His driver's window was shut, and the hat had been on the far side of the road.

Managed to run into the clothes line this week. We have a length of fencing wire strung up on posts, and propped higher with some long sticks. Kiwi ingenuity; much better than the normal plastic variety. But I had taken down the props to let me mow underneath, and forgotten to put them back. Hence I ran into the wire. It hit the bridge of my nose, and I spun around and landed flat on my back. Pity nobody was there to watch; it must have looked quite spectacular. Now I have a slight red mark on my nose, but fortunately nothing else.

No planks or trees at all this weekend, although I did a bit more mowing and weeding. I'm trying to weed out the grass from the front steps, but it's too well rooted. So I've been pouring boiling water on it. Seems to work well - after a couple of days it shrivels up and comes out quite easily. Will take a few more kettle fulls to do it properly.

Bronwyn's birthday was this week, so I set up The Chocolate Fountain. You pour melted chocolate in the base, mixed with oil to thin it, and then turn it on so it gets pumped up the middle and runs down the outside. Very wasteful of chocolate, but a great hit with Rachael.

Bronwyn's also got her ears pierced, so she's recieved quite a few earrings. It's been a big step for her - for a very long time she was terrified (and that's not an excessive word) of needles and had to wear clip-on earrings at the wedding. But she went for it on her own accord, and now has some studs to wear until the holes settle down.

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The Salvation Army 
Spent about 7 hours at a joint concert in the central Salvation Army headquarters in Auckland. It was a joint concert between the brass band and the Salvation Army band. We had a rehearsal in the afternoon and a concert in the evening.

It was a really good concert. They had a very loud bass trombone, and I was directly in his line of fire. Quite impressive, but I think it took a while for my hearing to return afterwards. We played a few items each, and then three pieces to finish. And they were begging us for more afterwards!

One of the pieces was titled 'El Es El Senior'. I sat there trying to piece together my limited Spanish. They started playing a typical Spanish melody complete with castanets (well, woodblocks). Then they put the words up on the screen. I couldn't believe it. It was "He is the Lord (Send your power)". Really done well. I understand that band has been competing in the A grade, and they certainly deserved it.

Put more floorboards on the tree house this week. I think I've done enough for now - it's a lot more stable (and dry) in there now. Rachael and her friend have christened it the Cat Clubhouse, because her friend likes cats. Sarah isn't allowed.

Sarah got up really early, and I had to put her back in bed. Then the clocks went back an hour this weekend, so I'm rather tired at the moment!

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