Saturday, July 25, 2015

Snow Mobile

In Albert's March break we visited Wellandport, ON, Canada one last time before we left for NZ. What an unexpected blessing to visit friends again (most of these friends visited us over the Christmas holidays!). We had an absolute blast catching up and having a break from our busy last semester of seminary. Unbeknownst to us, it was also the last week or so of collecting sap from the maple trees. While we didn't go to Canada to watch Maple syrup being made it was an unexpected bonus! So the next couple of blog posts following are from our time in Ontario, Canada! 

We left after Albert's last class on Friday in order for me to attend a ladies fellowship day in Hamilton Ontario. For some reason the journey took a lot longer than expected, we did hit some snow on the way, and arrived at our friends place very close to midnight. Thanks for staying up, Shar and Jeremy! The next day while Shar and I were at the ladies retreat, Jeremy took the girls and Albert on snowmobile rides! What fun! Albert and the girls took all of the photo's below :). (I made them promise to take photos :)!

Grace again



Friday, July 24, 2015

Trampoline Fun!!

As you may recall the girls got a trampoline (It was Michaela's brilliant idea) with gift cards the girls received for Christmas from an anonymous donor at Seminary. The boxes arrived by courier in January of this year. Albert had promised the girls that as soon as the snow melted the trampoline could be set up. So one week in March the snow finally disappeared after being on the ground for almost the entire month of February. The girls were excited! Albert is a read-the-manual kind of guy, so with the help of Len our neighbor the trampoline was put up! It sounds like a happily ever after story until it decided to snow again! I mean dump at least 30cm of snow! Oops! So the girls and I spend the morning taking all the snow of the trampoline as we didn't want it to stretch the springs, that snow was heavy! Removing snow through a small opening in the net proved a bit tricky. I did allow snowboots on the trampoline as an exception that day. :).

All of a sudden we now had 'friends' who wanted to come and play at our house! Just kidding of course, we invited our friends to share our trampoline with us, such a great gift deserves to be shared! I do have to mention that until the trampoline went down to be packed again, the novelty had not worn off yet. The girls played on there most days. Some days it was too hot to play on the tramp but most days especially since it was spring, the trampoline got a good workout! What a blessing the tramp was in those couple of months it was up. Unfortunately our place here in Hamilton doesn't have a appropriate place to put the tramp up and so it will have to wait until we are settled permanently to put it up again. Also the thought of un-packing and re-packing doesn't sound that exciting.

I should also mention that Albert took very detailed photos of how the trampoline went into the box as he was planning to put it back the same way as it came out! His friends that helped us put it back in after graduation, doubted him BUT they did come armed with an electric screw driver which made me laugh! So grateful that we all have different talents and even more grateful that we have friends with a bit more practical knowledge! Thanks Roger and Jeremy for taking on the challenge to fit the trampoline back into the box! I am pleased to report that the trampoline did in fact fit back into the box! Quite a feat considering the amount of parts required to build a trampoline! 

(Roger and Jeremy also helped to take apart our bed and bookcases, all of which fitted back into the flat pack Ikea boxes, very impressive boys!)

This is how it came out

Spot the manual :)
Len, supervising the putting up of the tramp.
I'm not sure who was more excited to have it put up, Len or the girls.

Our friends :)
( I think the girls made the kids pose for photos
as I found them on my camera! It cracks me up!)

l to r Cademon, Marijke, Josiah, Natalia
Oh and the snow fell VERY quickly

Yay all clear!
Our team effort in taking the tramp down

Boys LOVE a challenge!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Random March 2015

For our last senior class get together I made this peanut butter
cookie layered dessert! YUM!
One the first times they have gone outside in shorts and T-shirts this year!
The water temperate was 37F (2.7C). 
It's a tropical 51F (10.5C).
Well compared to the average temperate of 14.6F (-9.6C) for February
Running outside! YES!
Auckland here we come!
'cause a girl needs some flowers sometime!

Home Front Update July 2015

Official Graduation Family Photo
Phew, house is finally in order, unpacked all the essential things, sorted out stacks of paperwork, filed tax returns, got vaccinations up to date, went to 'put off' doctor visits, restocked the pantry, bought some essential electrical items, got cellphones switched, visited family. I'm sure that there is much more that we have done since we landed in New Zealand! What a whirlwind couple of months it has been. I won't bore you with all the nitty gritty details, will show you lovely photo's instead :) in future posts. 

Ok, so now for the questions that everybody is asking, here are the answers!

How are you setting in?
Well in fact we are doing very well, Albert has settled into work, I'm busy looking after the girls and the house and the girls well they LOVE school!

Ok, so now how are you REALLY doing?
Oh, so sweet that you ask. I am doing REALLY well. It is like coming home, to familiar things, shops are the same, roads are even prettier then I remembered and I'm thrilled that the girls are LOVING school! On a more serious note. I am doing well and have settled in. I mean what is the point in throwing a pity party? NONE of us should really be complaining. Complaining is really a pet hate of mine. Are you not then questioning God's plan for your life? I'm VERY grateful to be here and we have been/are being looked after. From the financial provisions, car, house, excellent school to even a dishwasher in my house, what more does a girl need? 

While I believe that New Zealand is the right place for us at this stage in life for various reason, mainly the need for pastors in our denomination, I did love living in the USA. I in particular miss being part of our friends day to day life both from seminary, our USA and Canadian friends. That makes me sad just thinking about it. I'm thankful for Facebook in that respect, while I can't be part of everyday life I am able to catch a glimpse now and then! So friends keep up those FB posts! 

How do you like Hamilton and the church?
I've been surprised how pretty NZ really is. I suppose living among lots of concrete makes you appreciate the beauty of NZ. The drive to school for example is so pretty with the roundabouts, roads etc planted with flaxes, grasses and some even have art. Hamilton compared to Chicago is very small and so driving distances for me are no problem at all. It's all relative of course! I enjoy being close to the shops, church, school (about a 20 min drive) and relatively close to family compared to the USA!

The church, especially the Pastor and the Deacons, are looking after us very well which is a huge blessing. We feel so privileged in being looked after and having a Vicariate (internship) knowing that some of Albert's class mates do not know what the future holds yet. 

So how is Albert finding the transition etc?
He strongly feels the call to the ministry so working is a pleasure. He is preaching Catechism sermons at the moment which are a bit more of a challenge but a good challenge. He loves visiting the elderly and the babies (he got to hold one the other day!)

What about the girls? How are they settling into school?
They have fitted right in! Zara has never been to school and so I was slightly worried how she would go academically. The teacher tested her on reading and she is reading at a 9-10 year old level! Both Kate and Grace have settled in well also and some of the tests that they have done came in at their level! It's been funny having a girl in High School. Michaela has done extremely well in fitting in into this very new experience! She even acted in a 'Romeo and Juliet' play for which she learned quite a few lines flawlessly! (you can't make up Shakespeare on the spot!). Maths however has not been that great but it was a weak area we were aware off. The Maths teacher has given her some additional work to catch up over the school holidays! 

The girls are currently on school holidays which lasts two weeks. The girls asked me at breakfast the other day whether they could go back to school, they had enough of the holidays! Of course they have had about 6 weeks off already!

So what's it like being in NZ after being in the USA for three years?
Well, NZ is home and familiar which means we have slotted right back in. It has been very nice to know the 'systems' with regard to banking, health, government benefits etc. Unlike the USA we tried to avoid 'the system' as much as possible. Driving has not been a problem, however a new GPS has been purchased (yes complete with squirrel voice Roger and Jodi!). I do miss the very cheap groceries but again what's the point in complaining? I can't believe how good some of the food tastes here, even supermarket buns taste delicious (which I thought were pretty average before we left!), carrots, kiwi fruit, rice crackers, coconut Tim tams, and cheese (grass fed of course!).

One thing I should mention is the cold. I know, I know it's nothing compared to the USA BUT in the USA everything is heated. Here it is not! Going to the bathroom/restroom etc is cold. We might spot heat the lounge but the bathroom well no. One of the girls asked, can we please put the heater on in the bathroom. It made me laugh! Thankfully our house is well situated for the sun and so while we heat our living areas in the morning and maybe at night once the sun comes out it is toasty warm! No complaints, just stating facts for those of you outside NZ :). 

What are some of the highlights of your time in the USA? Apart from seminary life etc
I had to think on this one. The big highlight would have been our summer assignments, what an experience. I'm not talking about all the fun things we did like seeing NY, Niagara Falls etc. No I'm talking about seeing God work in his church in different cultures, difficult circumstances and rejoicing with people when miracles happened! WOW what a privilege. (nobody is paying me to say this, just my honest opinion!)

So what are you doing with your 'free' time since the girls are at school?
HA HA, you are funny! Seriously since we want to be involved with the school, there isn't much spare time between driving, cleaning, groceries, church events and cooking. :) (and looking after Albert of course)

What about swimming?
Well I've discovered that there is a pool very close to us which offers Masters swimming! Elaine, I'm proudly wearing my USA Masters cap! Upon hearing how close it was Albert strongly suggested that I should bike to the pool, I would have done my warm up already he reasoned! Well that was until he rode the same route to visit someone on his own bike! Ha he changed his opinion after that! Hamilton is quite hilly :). I have already attended some sessions which I survived. After not swimming for about 2 months, I have lost some of the edge that I had built up. Hopefully with some practice it shouldn't be too long before I'm back on top. (I'm a slow swimmer compared to other Masters Swimmers, but I enjoy it!) As far as running, well, those hills are a reason for my procrastination. I'm afraid that I might not make it up some of the hills. Oh and it's been cold (about 0C (32F)) which is so cold :). 

A couple of questions I'm not prepared to answer for obvious reasons: 
What about other seminaries? It wouldn't be wise or helpful to compare. I can only talk about our experience at MARS. 
What about homeschooling versus christian schooling? I've answered that here. Christian schooling is the option for us at this time. 

I think I answered most of the popular questions. I'm planning to post photos of where I left off in March. Mainly for the girls sake, i.e. a memory for them but also for those interested in our adventures. Bear with me, there is lots to share, tell and plenty of photos! 

Albert photobombed the girl's photo without their knowledge!