Can't complain... 
Let's see... the car is still dying, I've had a stomach bug, Rachael's had a cold all week and Erica didn't make her grade in the exam. Oh, and it looks like we've lost another file store at work. Meanwhile, Bronwyn's on the hard stuff after the operation this week. She's had some teeth out, and it looks like one of the holes has got infected. It's really painful and swollen, but it's not quite as bad as it was. She's been on all sorts of medicines this week. Anti biotics, painkillers, anti-nausea and some stuff to increase her blood clotting factor. She's rattling.

Well, apparently the new car is still available, but it's not quite ready yet. It's owned by some guy who works at a car parts shop. This explains why it's taking so long. My mate Dave lives next door to a builder, and his house is never finished.

Erica's going to retake the exam, and hopefully in just a week's time. So it's back on the speaking practise. They gave her a rather tricky subject - School Rules. It's not easy pronouncing that, let alone describing it in a foreign language!

Plenty of fun at work. All the servers went down. It took us five hours to trace it to a rogue network cable. This was after some hasty phone calls to set up a support contract, because I don't actually work for them any more! Now it looks as if we've lost a backup file store too. It fell over on Friday, and I restarted it. Gone again. I think that means it's terminal...

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Prince George 
We've had some wild weather this week. And about ten new born lambs. Tell me, which other species chooses to bring its offspring into the world in these conditions? Plus one calf. He was born on the same day as a certain other baby, so we've named him Prince George.

Erica did her English exam. She won't know the results until next week, but it sounds like it went better than the ones she did in China. Apparently she didn't speak to her boyfriend for a week before the exam, in order to keep her brain in English mode! Poor guy. We'll see him next month when he comes to visit. Now Erica's a lot happier! She's still attending the language school, just in case she misses the grade and because of her visa conditions. But she's been given a voluntary place at a local kindy, which she'll need for when she starts her university course.

Bronwyn and Rachael were supposed to go south to the mountains for the weekend; it was a present for Rachael to see the snow. But the weather has been rather wet and mild, and windy this weekend, and neither of them were really feeling up to it. So they've managed to get that postponed until September. Instead, they've gone to Kelly Tarlton's instead. Sounds like it's had a face lift recently. It's got all sorts of aquariums from urchins to sharks and full sized stingrays. Plus the penguins (complete with snow) and the replica of Scott's Antarctic cabin.

Rach and Sarah started at school this week. It's gone smoothly so far, although Sarah's missed the bus quite a few times this week! Rach is now doing drama. I think she's had plenty of practise.

Celia came back for an afternoon, and she's currently on a rapid tour of Australia, or at least Melbourne and Sydney. She's spent almost a whole year in New Zealand, and is looking forward to getting back home. It's just taken two months extra to say goodbye to everybody!

As of last Thursday, I am officially self employed. I did my first GST return yesterday. It was rather easy - only one transaction. But it might get more complicated once I work out which expenses I can claim on. I'll still be doing work for the old company. There's basically only two people left in the country that know how the system works, and that's me and my old boss that I'll be working with. So we're sorting out a support contract for them.

My poor car is dying. The radiator fan went years ago, so it overheats in heavy traffic. One window doesn't wind up too well. The parcel shelf is slowly turning to compost. The engine is wearing out; if it wasn't for the short downhill run on our driveway, I'd never be able to start it. I have to park at the top of a hill, or carry jump leads everywhere. And the clutch slips when going up hill. Our mechanic says he's found a couple of suitable cars I can purchase, and another guy who does scrap. I must reimburse him for his brokership services...

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Holidays? 
We've had one week of the school holidays so far. Claire's five year old son Cooper (or is that Mini Cooper?) has been round for the day so Claire can go to work. He doesn't ever do things by halves. So far, he's broken the toilet seat and lost a few bits off one of my puzzles. We've got off reasonably lightly. So far.

Rachael somehow managed to finish all her homework for the end of term. Now she's had a whole week on Minecraft, and she's bored. Erica's been working Very Hard studying for her English exams. Haven't seen a lot of her, to be honest. So yesterday, we all went out to the hotpools. There's two pools, the warmish one for recreation and the hot one for recovering afterwards. And there's slides. The high slide was continually occupied by a large group of boys, so we went on the slightly lower slide. No queues on that one. All rather tired last night, and Rach wasn't feeling too good this morning. But at least she's not quite as bored.

We both forgot our anniversary, so we're going out for a dinner tonight, almost a month late. Then next week Bronwyn's planning movie trips, Sky Tower, and quite a few other things. Celia is planning to visit next weekend before she leaves the country, and Erica's got her exam. It's going to be a busy week!

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I'm not as young as I used to be 
I survived an action packed three days in Christchurch for the youth worker conference (I'm not a youth worker, but I've done a lot of work on the committee with fundraising). They had told me to bring walking shoes, formal suit for dinner and swimming togs. Plus a sleeping bag, towel and pillow. It's not easy squeezing that lot into a JetStar baggage allowance, so I was determined to make use of all of it if I could. I had to set off at 4am to get to the plane. Was rather tired by the end of day one. Apparently I snored all night.

On the second day I decided to try all the walking tracks in the nearby bush. The bush was a bit larger than I anticipated, and I was a bit late to the first meeting, but glad I did it. In the afternoon I set up the mountain to the top of the ridge. The site is on the slope of an old volcano crater, so it's a huge sweeping curve with the bottom flooded by the sea. It's about 430 metres high at the top according to Google. Not a huge climb, but I only had 90 minutes to get up and down again. Got back with about 10 minutes to change into the dinner jacket. Lovely dinner, then they started the dancing. Decided to give that a miss, but after a bit I joined in anyway. Kept going for a good hour. Came back, had a quick dip in the spa pool, and off to bed. Alone, this time. They'd rearranged the snorers into their own rooms!

Had an easier day on Wednesday, up until the point where I tried to start my car. Didn't work. Neither did pushing it round the car park, wiring it to a battery booster from the car park office, or even getting some people to push it while using the booster! Ultimately one of the bus drivers phoned her husband, who came round with a boot full of tools and eventually got me started by towing me. Tried to offer him some cash but he refused!

It'a taken another four or five days to recover, but I'm pretty much back to mormal now. I think I need to take it easy in future! But it was a great conference - lots of information to chew over and read up again when I get a chance, and managed to catch up with a number of people I'd met on previous conferences. Might not make it next year - we're hoping to take on another youth worker so I might not get a free ticket. Pity. It'll be at Waitangi and sounds like an even bigger even than ever. But I've done four already...

Bronwyn coped amazingly with getting everyone on the right buses. I'm really proud of her. Alas, we both forgot our wedding anniversary, so we're thinking of organising a meal out some time. But really proud of her for keeping everything in order. And shouting at my boss for not doing the wages. That's been paid now. I just need the payment for the other half of last month's work, which should be with us soon.

Currently, Rachael is finishing her homework on Aborigines. She's had two weeks to do it, but spent much of them playing Minecraft. After some serious hassling by Mum, she's now under way. Might just finish in time...

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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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