Construction has started on Bronwyn's sister Claire's house. They've begun to put in the main studs (it's a wooden house, so there's not much of a foundation). Haven't been over there recently, but a frame is now visible from the road. It's Claire's birthday so we've got her some DIY vouchers!

Having succeeded to fix on the mailbox (the steel was only 1/2mm thick), I spent a lot of yesterday cutting up bits of panelling to finish off a bay window seat that's been in bits for about 3 years now. Did some painting and varnishing today, and once the second coat's on, I can tack on all the panelling. It's looking quite good already. Bronwyn's planning to make some cushions to fit on top.

Bronwyn's dad has been talking of replacing our front deck, which has a couple of nasty holes in it (currently covered up by assorted bits of plywood), so I think I've goaded him into action!

Meanwhile, one of the church youth home groups offered to come round last week, do jobs for us and look after the children, so we could have a night off. In the end, we both stayed at home, and had a great time tidying and cleaning, and finding out what colour Rachael's floor is. Bronwyn brought some pizza for everyone, and they were really pleased they could eat with the whole family. The youth group is trying to do more things for other people this year, instead of spending all the time in their own little private club.

Bronwyn's been busy too. She's nailed 256 nails into 4 squares of MDF board, to make an exercise for the childcare centre. The children have rubber bands to make shapes on the nails. I suggested doing one using a triangular layout, so they can make hexagons and so on, but she's going to try them on the basic square layout first!

And the cat got into a fight, and got a couple of deep cuts on one ear, so he's currently in stitches. It certainly hasn't been a dull couple of weeks...

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Falling to bits 
Our mailbox has finally fallen to bits. It has sat on top of a fencepost at the bottom of our drive for many years, and survived more than one assault from a teenager with a baseball bat. But it wasn't that which got it in the end. The door simply fell off - the hinges had rusted right through.

I managed to remove the top and sides, since it was only attached by a few small screws. But the base has been fixed on by four enormous coach bolts, which have rusted up and are impossible to undo. So I considered fixing the new one onto the base of the old one. This involves drilling holes through two layers of sheet steel. I don't have a 200m long mains cable, and I'm not sure if my battery operated drill will do it.

Meanwhile, I've sanded down an old bookshelf that got removed 5 years ago when we painted the hall. The landlord had meant to paint the bookshelf and put it back, but obviously hasn't remembered, so I decided to have a go. Unfortunately it's warped quite a bit so we might have some fun fitting it back in.

There's also the front steps which have big holes in them, the seat in the bay window which is still partly in bits, and the outside of the house hasn't been painted for years.

They're currently concentrating on building a house for Bronwyn's sister Claire and husband, which is currently progressing well. They've recently put in the water tanks, which are two big grey concrete structured half buried in the ground. Each has a serial number stencilled on the top. They look just like military bunkers.

Big jobs. Our landlord (Bronwyn's Dad) likes the big jobs with machinery and diggers. Same with Bronwyn's brothers. Not so hot on the fiddly bits to finish off!

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Happy Birthday Mum! 
Bronwyn survived three days in a row working at the leisure centre childcare centre. She also survived a day taking Sarah in for an operation on Monday. And she survived one of Rachael's friends coming round for a sleepover. She was tired, but seemed pleased with her achievement, and appears to have lost weight. She was out rounding up cows this afternoon, so I think she's recovered. I've been tired and achy today, and my nose hasn't stopped running, so I think it's me that hasn't coped this week!

Sent out 113 envelopes for the brass band Christmas mailout. Prepared an article for the brass band magazine with photos of all our bands. Sent out a flyer for the concert to half a dozen different newspapers and radio stations. They wanted evberyone to distribute at least two flyers. I think I've done my bit.

Sarah had an operation to unblock her tear duct. It never completely joined up at birth, so they joined it up with a metal probe. Her tears had blood in them for 24 hours afterwards, but now she can cry with both eyes, especially when we try to put the eye drops in. We have to do it three times a day for 30 days. She can tell it's about to happen now, and screws up her eyes and puts up her hands. Takes two of us to pin her down, poor thing.

She can talk quite well now, and makes herself clear with a combination of words and actions. Rachael still ignores the words she doesn't like to hear though!

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Wet wet wet 
Planted four more trees. Plus the other two. Eventually you won't see out of the house any more. Bronwyn's parents have a growing hedge around the house, and a veritable orchard round the back. Oranges, lemons, bananas, apples and pears, and ugli fruit, at least until a cow got in and knocked it over. Seems to be the family tradition to construct a rainforest around the garden.

We've survived another week of Rachael at home, and this week hasn't been so bad. But we've had a lot of rain. Plus thunderstorms and hail. We had a power cut at work on Monday, and it went off about 3 times, eventually crashing our email server. We had to pay Microsoft to restore our emails for us. Other than that. it's been a quiet week. I've been busy sorting out mailouts and press releases for the band however. It's quite amazing how many 113 envelopes, stamps, address labels and letters can be...

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Bronwyn bought a couple of camelias and a lemon tree, so I spent some time yesterday mowing part of the lawn and planting the trees. Was going to mow the rest today, but it's rained all day. Now we have two more trees after Bronwyn's sister gave them to her as a birthday present. They're currently sitting on their alloted spaces, but I won't plant them until it stops raining.

Another person left from work last week, and I understand someone else is going next week. We're certainly cutting down on expenses, but whether we can sustain this sort of dismantling is another matter. We desperately need a Linux person to get all the servers running properly, otherwise we can hardly position ourselves as a specialist web company! Someone has been found, who meets the approval of our previous Linux person. We just need to get the approval of The Board. Currently they are concentrating on reducing expenses, which might save money in the short term, but doesn't help us in the long term. I have plenty to do at the moment however with all the school websites, so I'm certainly not bored.

Rachael has been. She's on holiday this week, and swinging from frantic activity to listless boredom. She's been off with a friend of hers for a couple of days, and off to a holiday programme on other days. Plus a day on the beach and some time swimming. Then she's got the tree house, the trampoline, the new computer and dozens of toys and games. Plus the foundations for the new house. But she still gets bored! She doesn't yet realise what tiredness feels like, and actually she hasn't been all that well. But there's no telling Rachael. Sarah has also been a bit off colour. There's a chance she may have chicken pox, but no spots yet.

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