Friday, July 23, 2010

Jump Jam, Mass and The Lone Star Cafe

Although we have loved St. Pat's since first enrolling a year ago, Sam has had a couple of difficulties, namely with Mass and more recently, Jump Jam. He loves church but his problem with Mass was all the stand up, sit down, going forward for a blessing, and generally not being sure what to do. He also has this thing with people looking at him. Same issues with Jump Jam: he felt everyone would be watching him try to do the moves and ultimately mess up. He was desperately afraid of everyone laughing at him.

The teachers have been very patient with Sam but we all realised something needed to be done when he started to disrespect the Mass and try to get out of it. A lot of effort, both at school and at home went into getting him to participate and finally, at the end of last term, he went through Mass with the other children. We were so proud of him, but being parents with expectations, we said, "right Sam, now it's Jump Jam. If you can do Jump Jam as well as Mass, we'll take the whole family out for dinner." He didn't have an opportunity that week and then it was holidays. When school started back this week, naturally I had forgotten all about Jump Jam and Sam's challenge. But Sam didn't. I showed up on Wednesday to see the girls at Little Shamrocks and Sam's friend Zaydyn spotted me: "Guess what Sam's doing?!" he said with a big grin on his face. Uh oh. What is it this time? "He's doing Jump Jam!" Zaydyn and I conspired to make sure that Sam didn't see me as I was sure that would put him off. Opportunity presented itself however, to peak through the window once the music started playing. There was our Sam, jumping and moving and crossing his arms back and forth like the other children. Turns out, it wasn't even a big deal. "I'm going to do it next week too." We kept our promise though: The Lone Star Cafe for six tonight. Thanks Sam! It was awesome and a lot of fun.

Monday, July 19, 2010

From Mountain to Surf

Sam and Abby sledding down Mt. Taranaki

Madeline on the slopes

Violet and Abigail

Grandma helping out

Cheeky kids

Sam at the beach by the Links subdivision. He had a fantastic time throwing stones and exploring the dunes. Could have stayed there forever, our Sam.

The kids with Grandma and Grandad on the beach at high tide.

Violet, Abigail and Madeline, watching the powerful waves and listening to the rumble rumble of the water rolling over the stones. Magic.

Sam with Grandma and Grandad on the walkway with Te Maunga in the background.

Te Rewa Rewa bridge and Mt Taranaki. Either a whalebone or a breaking wave.

We've had the most fantastic weather in the second week of the school holidays. Monday started out with a visit to our friend's farm in Tariki. Unfortunately I lacked the foresight to grab the camera because the kids had a ball playing with a little tugboat down at her stream. Sam discovered that if he let it go at the bridge it would make it's way to the waterfall and then it was all excitement, trying to catch the boat at the bottom before it went down the next waterfall which was also the point of no return. Much excitement also when Madeline was nearly knocked into the water by Blaze, the Labrador!

Tuesday came with the arrival of Grandma and Grandad. Much enthusiasm in the van on the way home from the airport! Poor Grandma, sandwiched between the very very very hyper twins. Wednesday dawned lovely again and we had a fantastic walk on the foreshore walkway, heading north as far as we could go from Te Rewa Rewa bridge. We found a little beach by The Links and headed down for a picnic. The tide was right in with waves crashing on the stones but we were sheltered from the southerly. The children thoroughly enjoyed exploring and watching the waves. I could have stayed there forever listening to the sound of the waves rolling over the stones.

Thursday's pristine conditions called for a trip up the mountain. Unfortunately we didn't get further than the Mountain House due to the icy road--no chains and only 2-wheel drive, so not worth the risk. The children found a little walk and enjoyed sledding on the icy slopes so it was still worthwhile.
All in all, a most excellent winter holiday spent at home. Now we're just left asking ourselves, "why does it have to end?"

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Roots: Canadian ones that is.

Sam and Madeline got to stay up late last night after a big sleep in the afternoon so Paul got out a jigsaw for us to work on together. The kids did a fantastic job sorting through the colours and then putting together the provinces: it was a geography lesson as well as an activity of course. You can see them proudly pointing to Vancouver Island saying "this is where we're going at Christmas," although they are pointing to the top of the island, which is probably a distance much like Bluff to Nelson. "Wow, Canada is so big Mum!" Yes, it is.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Crafting and Constructing in the School Holidays

We have turned our house upside down for teeny tiny bits of Lego, in order to re-create the police station, the jail, the police transport truck, the service station and a number of other vehicles. And it's not Sam who's doing the re-creating. With no 5000 piece jigsaw puzzle to keep him happy, Paul has turned to Lego--and I suspect, discovering the boy within.

In the meantime, we've learned that Violet, Abigail and Madeline are all equally creative and capable with Lego. If you know our girls you will nod your head when I say that Madeline can follow instructions and diagrams almost perfectly, Violet will try to follow instructions with less success but still end up with an interesting result, and Abigail will do her own thing to come up with something wildly unpredictable. Very cool to have three girls so close in age to see how different they can be. Wait, did I just say that? The photo of Madeline was taken by Sam, so doesn't really show the extent of the castle she had built. The photo of Abigail is from last night, where she painstakingly (over an hour) set up the Risk board with all the tiny figures placed on continents according to colour. That's our girl.

And Sam has become the master of designing his own paper-craft creations. He'll draw, cut, glue and cello-tape bits of paper together and suddenly, he has a 3-dimensional object in front of him. The other day it was a fire bucket made out of cardboard around a wagon (even seam-sealed to hold the water) and today it was an ambulance. Not just an ambulance but a Life Line ambulance complete with little wheels. I was impressed.

Finally, I have had a blissfully relaxing day making more cards. I am working on my watercolouring technique as well as sponging and layering. I'm getting better but the main thing is, when I sit down at my desk to put my bits and pieces together into a little piece of art, the chaos and clutter in the house wonderfully disappears.