Monday, February 28, 2011


Last week I had to go to the SPCA (a different day to the my volunteer day) because Looey had a knotted bit of fur underneath her one leg and it was knotted right against the skin.  We didn't want to cut it because we were worried we would hurt her, so I asked Tracey if she could help by shaving that little bit.  So off Caitlyn and I went with Looey.

When we got there I asked Tracey about the kitten I was helping a few days earlier.  And Tracey told me that they named her Hope.  And that Hope was doing really well.  She was getting antibiotics for the sniffles, she was alert and eating well (and gaining 20g of weight a day) and best of all she was well enough to go to a foster's house until she was ready to be desexed and put up for adoption.  And more good news - the person who found her (she was apparently dumped on the side of one road) wanted to adopt her once she was ready for adoption.  That really made me so incredibly happy that this kitten is doing so well.  She still has a bit of a way to go to get her body weight to where it should be, but she is just doing so incredibly well.   It was so good to see her while we were there.

Isn't she just the cutest little kitten?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Caitlyn's 4th Birthday celebration. Part 2...

One of the challenges here on the Kapiti Coast is finding a suitable party venue.  I suppose I could have it at home, but one of the times we did have one of Bianca's parties at home when she turned 3 one of the kids drew with a marker all over Bianca's toys and so I wasn't really in the mood for an invasion of 12 kids ranging in age from 3 to 5 (with 2 being 7).  The unfortunate thing is that there are not a lot of venues here on the Kapiti Coast and while technically this is summer and technically we could have it at one of the outdoor parks, I'm also aware that this is New Zealand and that there would be a chance of rain.

We ended up choosing the Kapiti Gymnastics.  Caitlyn did a fun gymnastics session last term and absolutely loved it, so this was the perfect venue.  And so today that's where we went.  For the first hour the kids went wild with bouncing on the trampoline, balancing on the beam, jumping, climbing, swinging on the big rope swing and jumping into the foam pit. 

Then when the hour was finished, the kids came into the party room that we set up 20 minutes before the start and it was time for lunch.  

And then it was time to light the candles.  To read my adventures in making this cake, click here.  This cake is a "goody bag" cake.  Basically it is cake squares wrapped in sugar paste icing and decorated with a sugar paste teddy bear and some lollies and instead of the typcial goody bags, kids get to take this one home :-) (thanks to Debbie Brown for her cool idea in her book 50 Easy Party Cakes).

Caitlyn opened all her presents at home because we simply ran out of time at the party.  What a lot of fun!

Not so dreamy after all...

11pm is not the best time to find out the cake you are busy making is... well... uhm... not going to make it.   But I'm rushing ahead of myself.  Taking a few steps back...

As some of you know Caitlyn chose a kitten on a big ball of wool cake.  So I set about making a test cake just to see what is involved.  And yes... I learned that just because the book says "easy cakes" didn't mean it was all that easy.  But okay, I figured out a few things I could do to make my cake as nice as possible for Caitlyn's birthday party.  Then, not so long ago, Caitlyn changed her mind.  She decided she would have a "Dream Castle" cake from the same book.  No amount of persuading could get her mind off that cake.  That would be the one.  I have to be honest that at this point I was secretly pleased it wasn't the kitten cake anymore because it just seemed so... well fiddly.  And last time my kitten didn't exactly look like a nice kitten, the size was all out, the eyes were not quite in line, maybe if it was an alley cat - all living it rough and out there protecting its territory, but then I would have a hard time explaining the big ball of wool.  Just can't picture this wild alley cat playfully sitting on top of a ball of wool.  But anyway.

The "Dream Castle" cake from the same "50 easy party cakes" book looked less fiddly and simple enough.  And I mean how hard can it be to cover 3 big swiss rolls in sugar paste icing and plonk some on top and on the sides and stack mini marshmallows on top with a few basic shapes for windows and door?  And it looks beautiful.  And so I made big mistake number one - actually believing it wouldn't be that hard :-).  And somewhere in all the rush to get things for her party, get kids to and from school, house work, and all the other things I had to do, I didn't have time to make a trial cake.  But then this one wasn't fiddly like the kitten cake.

And in the meantime I'm making little teddies out of sugar paste icing as I had another idea which I will talk about shortly.  And the teddies actually came out looking okay.  It certainly looked a bit like a teddy.  So all was on track :-). 

At 9pm on Saturday night (yesterday a.k.a. the night before the party) I was frantically busy trying to construct my "dream castle" cake.  By 11pm I knew my cake was just not going to make it.  You know when you ask your husband what he thinks of the cake so far and he looks at it, pauses (clearly trying to find the words and trying to work out if it is worth being honest and I guess figuring out what is nearby that I might fling at his head ;-) ) and then tactfully say "carry on then we'll see what it looks like then".  And I had to admit, it didn't look very "dreamy".  In fact it didn't look much like a castle, it just looked like swiss rolls, clumsily wrapped in light pink sugar paste icing and plonked on a board.  No amount of decorating was going to make it look like a "dream castle".  And then Terence asked THE question "why didn't you make a test cake of this one?"

And then the panic set in.  It was 11pm at night and my cake flopped and the party was the next morning.  Thankfully I actually had a plan B even though it wasn't really a plan B up until that point.

The very same "Easy party cakes" book also has some "Goody bags cake".  Basically this is a bunch of cake squares, wrapped in white sugar paste icing and you then put the teddy on top with a few lollies and this is the perfect thing to give away at the end of your party.  I thought this would be cool because this would replace the typical goody bag you would typically hand out at the end of your party.  Also because the party would be over lunch the kids would not need as many sweet things and they can just take a cake and lolly "goody bag".  So at 11pm last night this had to be it.  There simply was no more time to actually start a big fancy cake from scratch.  Luckily my teddies were all made so it was really just for the cake squares.  By 3:30am I felt happy with what I achieved.

The only thing that bothered me was where we would put the candles.  I didn't really want to stick candles into these cake "goody bags" and then Terence had a great idea.  He suggested I take one of the smaller covered swiss rolls and put that in the middle which would have space for the candles and then we could put all the teddy goody bags around it and that... turned out perfect!  I was certainly very pleased with the final result and best of all Caitlyn's guests thought it was pretty neat taking home one of these edible "goody bags" :-).

I think I'll make another post just about Caitlyn's party with all the photos :-).

Edited to add:  I learned that you hide any fancy cake books from your kids.  Off to go hide my book now ;-)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Feeling a bit flat and out of it...

To be honest I have been feeling rather flat and perhaps a bit out of it today. 

Seeing all the images from the Christchurch earthquake, seeing people in shock, seeing the damage that this earthquake caused, realising that tiny little babies died and indeed many more who were trapped inside the buildings and seeing the anxiousness on those who are waiting as the rescuers go in to try and rescue the living and retrieve those who passed. 

There are so many people entering a 4th night without water and power.  Some would have no food right now, they can't even flush their toilets and I can't help wondering how long before people will have a place again they can call home.  Right now hundreds are staying in welfare centres relying on the help of others.

It is so hard comprehending the devastation and it makes you realise how we really only have today that we can be sure of.  We can't get yesterday back and we really don't know if tomorrow will come.  We hope, but there are no guarantees.

To all those affected by this devastating earthquake, my heart bleeds for you tonight.  I am so incredibly sad that you all have to go through this.  I can't even begin to imagine what you must be feeling.  :'-(

Caitlyn's 4th birthday celebrations - Part 1

So here is part 1 of Caitlyn's birthday celebrations.  Caitlyn turned 4 on the 22nd of Feb, but will have her birthday party with her friends this coming Sunday 27 Feb, so we'll share photos after the event :-)

Caitlyn started her day opening presents :-)

 Both girls got new shirts from family in South Africa and decided to wear it.

Caitlyn took some cupcakes to daycare to share with her friends.

She chose to have pizza for her special birthday dinner.

Because she'll have a proper cake on Sunday, we just made a few cupcakes to have at home.

Showing 4 fingers = 4 years old :-)

Blowing out candles.

I've been playing around with sugar paste icing to try and make little teddy bears because I saw a pretty cool idea that I want to try out for Caitlyn's birthday.  

Part 2 to follow...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

This is what it is all about...

On a Tuesday I volunteer at our local SPCA.  I have been doing this for a while now and really enjoy it. 

Sure enough most of the time I end up helping with laundry or filling cat litter boxes with new cat litter, sometimes getting a cage ready, sometimes packing food bowls away and sometimes I even get to spend some time with some of the kittens or cats or rabbits or whatever other animals may have come in.  Not so long ago I got to help out when Tracey the receptionist / office lady had to feed these 2 or 3 week old kittens with tiny little bottles and another time I got to feed these teeny-weeny tiny little birds that didn't even have feathers yet and we had to feed them every 20 minutes (making me realise that I'm truly happy I'm not a mommy bird :-) ).

I don't get anything out of this other than the satisfaction that I'm helping a great charity and that whatever help I give makes a difference in their ability to run the shelter.

So this morning I got there as usual and as I got there Tracey passed me this bundled up blanket and asked that I hold it against my chest for a while.  Turned out inside was a small little black kitten.  This kitten must be just over 6 weeks old and came in yesterday.  It had the sniffles and was overrun by fleas.  They treated the fleas and because of the sniffles put the kitten in one of our isolation rooms so that it would not infect any of the other cats.  This morning when Tracey got there this kitten was completely unresponsive and very cold (no body heat).  It was still breathing and as I held it I could see it at times having laboured breathing, other times seemed almost no breathing.  Its gums were white (a sign that it was anaemic - probably because a huge flea infestation can kill a kitten, its pupils were not reacting to the light.  And she felt convinced that it was busy dying.  Tracey tried feeding it with a syringe at one point, but it didn't do anything, so I sat there watching it breath, softly talking to it and just making sure it would be as warm and comfortable as possible.

Probably an hour or hour and a half later it seemed more alert.  Tracey gave it some more food and it actually swallowed it and licked its lips.  It started feeling warmer (with its body heat).  It started purring when I stroked it.  It is still very sick with its sniffles, but for now, it pulled through. 

It was such a rewarding feeling to know that I was able to help this kitten today. And this is what helping the SPCA is all about!


You may have seen in the news that there was another big earthquake in Christchurch.  It was a magnitude of 6.3 or something.  The one in September was a bigger magnitude, but this one is far far more devastating. 

You just look at some of the video clips (here) and (here) and a number of photos just to realise the devastation and shock that these people must feel tonight.

And the sad bit is that this time round people are trapped and people have died.  It really makes you realise how quick things can happen.  How unexpected and how very unprepared most of us actually are. 

Please keep these people in your prayers and thoughts.

Happy Birthday Caitlyn

I can hardly believe Caitlyn is 4.  It feels unreal that in exactly 1 year she'll be going to "big school".  It feels unreal that she is no longer a baby, but has become this "big" girl who is quite independent, considerate, kind, likes to help, has a great sense of humour and loves to dance and run and play. 

I look at the below video clips and it is just amazing to see snippets of her "journey".

Caitlyn, Mummy and Daddy and your big sister Bianca (who used to be Bakey when you just started speaking) are so proud of you and love you very much.  We pray that today will be filled with lots of fun, surprises and blessings and that the year ahead will be wonderful for you!  You are an amazing kid and we are so blessed to have you as part of our family :-)  Happy birthday!

Friday, February 18, 2011

The issue of names

One of the things we decided when Bianca and Caitlyn were born, was that they should have names that are easy to spell and easy to pronounce.  Years ago I worked with a girl whose name was Joan and she would get so cross with everybody because it was pronounced Joanne and I didn't want that for my girls.  I wanted something simple.

I do notice though more and more that I'll write about Caitlyn in an email or reply to somebody's email and I might say something about Caitlyn and this person will then write "Caitlin" or "Katelyn".  Now I can understand if they wrote to me first and wrote "Caitlin" or "Katelyn", but they'll continue doing that even though I will write "Caitlyn".  Do they assume I'm getting it wrong?  Or do they simply not read?  Or do they not agree with the way we chose to spell Caitlyn and they are trying to prove a point by flat out refusing to spell it correctly?

I try not to let it bug me, but it is starting to get to me that people will flat out ignore the way we spell it and I do think that it is rather rude when somebody can't at least make an effort to get it correct.  If not the first time they write it, then at least when I reply with the correct spelling.

So for the record - it is C A I T L Y N - with a Y.  Not an I.  But a Y. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"Now that wasn't so hard, was it?"

I cannot believe that in exactly 1 week Caitlyn will turn 4.  Caitlyn is so excited she can hardly wait and keeps begging me to tell her what she'll be getting for her birthday :-).

Not so long ago Bianca decided that even though it is still months before her birthday, she wanted to start planning it - the invite list, the games they'll play and of course what cake she'll have.  And so she dug up a book that I've had for a while (so long I can't even remember where I got it from) - Debbie Brown's 50 Easy Party Cakes (yeah right!  Easy!!! [insert roll eyes here]) (Definitely not easy in my world...).  So anyway, Bianca was paging through it and at first was all determined she was going to make and decorate her cake, but I think since then she's decided it would be my job.  And of course then Caitlyn had to page through the book and immediately decided she wanted this cake:

And she's absolutely set on it.  Sigh!

So last night I finally set about making a practice cake.  You know just in case it turns out a huge flop and then I can't only start the night before her party.  So best to practice a bit before and know what is involved.  Oh my goodness!  This cake is fiddly.  I managed to bake 2 bowl shaped cakes that I managed to put together to resemble a round ball and then it was time to role the thin pink strands that go around the ball and that was pretty tough - thicker in some places and thinner in others.  And it felt like it took forever (not the best decision to start at 10pm).  And then the kitten.  Why do they always make it look so much easier than it really is?  By the time I was finished I had this tiny little thing on top of this big round ball - almost looks like a mouse a bit.  And the eyes are not quite symmetrical.  And so by 1am I finished and stumbled off to bed and this morning Caitlyn got up - all happy and well rested and said "now that wasn't so hard, was it?" (if only you knew my girl, if only you knew...)

Edited to add:

As requested - here is my first attempt.  Excuse the second photo it is very blurry (but then it was 1am in the morning...)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Two monthly hospital visit and school updates

Bianca had a hospital visit today.  She goes every 2nd month and we do bloods and the doctor gets to see her and make sure that we are still on track.  Bianca's counts were all good, Doctor is very happy with her and even her weight and height are on track.  She didn't get to go to school today because by the time we got back from the city, her school closed for the day.  They closed earlier than usual because of parent-teacher meetings.

I actually had an informal chat with Bianca's teacher about a week ago, but tonight was a "formal" opportunity.  Only 10 minutes to share our expectations because they have not yet had a chance to test the kids.  Both Terence and I are so impressed with this teacher and we feel absolutely confident that Bianca is in for a great year!  He feels confident she will be one of the high achievers in his class and has already told us that he is very committed to making sure 2011 will be a fun and challenging year for Bianca's class. 

Bianca also started with One Day School yesterday and she had a very exciting day!  They discussed famous people and challenges and Bianca "invented" a drink bottle that "holds" the straw for you.  She also drew a design for an automated plant feeder and the teacher was very impressed with her idea and demonstrating the process. 

I'm so very proud of Bianca!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Life truly sux sometimes!!!

I did not sleep well last night. 

First I went to bed pretty late (I never learn, do I?), then Caitlyn woke up twice last night with some or the other dream that made her feel scared, then I was so sure I heard one of the cats and it sounded like they caught some unknown (but I was sure some disgusting kind of bug with wings, and feelers and long legs, something that was sure to escape and jump on me), so I woke Terence up in a panic and he checked and... nothing.  Sigh!  And in the meantime I tossed and turned, my head filled with thoughts.

Yesterday was a BAD day.  Not for us, but for 2 people who we met before.  The one couple learned that their daughter relapsed.  She had neuroblastoma.  Unfortunately a relapse means it is not curable and there is nothing more they can do except to try and give some quality of life.  The little girl must be about 3. 

Then another friend learned that her son relapsed with his leukemia and now they are in the fight of his life.  He will start getting treatment straightaway to try and treat his relapse, but it will be hard.  Incredibly hard.  The chemo will be intense.  He is only 6 or 7.  He completed more than 3 years of treatment, and here they go again...

It sucks!  Big time!  My heart is absolutely breaking for these two families. 

Sometimes life is just so incredibly unfair. 

I cannot even begin to imagine what they must be feeling.  The sadness, the desperation, the frustration, the anger, the devastation. 

At the best of days nobody wants their child to become ill, but when they do, when the initial shock wears off, you live life as best as you can in this child cancer journey, trying your best to stay standing as your world around you comes tumbling down.  You manage, not always easy, but you do. 

You believe, you stay focused, you work hard at doing all you can for your child. To save them from this horrible, horrible disease.  And so it must be so incredibly devastating and heartbreaking when after all you have been through you have to hear the words "I'm sorry your child has relapsed..."

I'm not sharing specifics about these two families because right now they need some space, some time, some privacy.  But can I please ask that you keep these two families in your prayers and thoughts.  My heart absolutely breaks for them :'-(.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Happy Birthday Terence

Yesterday was Terence's birthday.  What a fun day it was!

Early in the morning the kids and I got ready.  The kids decorated cupcakes:


They helped make his breakfast:

And gave him some presents!!!

Terence is especially pleased that we gave him Puerto Rico - a game he's been looking for for a long time now...

We then got ready for the BBQ / Boardgaming evening we planned to have with friends.

We had a cool selection of games and ended up playing Bang! Trans America and Dominion.  Trans America and Dominion were both games that one of Terence's friends brought along and we enjoy Dominion so much that today we bought our own set.  We played it once with Bianca and she is hooked!

Terence enjoyed a V before the party to get ready for the action...

And then the fun began.  I think this was such a great birthday celebration!

New year

Wow, I can't believe it has been such a long time since I blogged.  Where did the time go?  Oh wait - that's right, things here have been busy, busy, busy - I'm busy planning Caitlyn's birthday party, I had to play Terence's birthday party, Bianca started school again for the year and I've been job hunting)... But anyway...

On Tuesday Bianca started again with school.  Our schools close late in December and only start again at the start of February.  This year Bianca is in Year 3.  She was so excited and could hardly wait to start.  She likes her new teacher and I think Mr Forster will be a great teacher for her.  Bianca being gifted in some areas needs some challenges and when I had an informal chat with him now in the week, I feel confident he is the perfect teacher for her.  He seems very committed to making sure that this year will be fun for the kids, but will also offer lots of challenges for them.  Bianca is also starting her One Day School again from this coming Wednesday where she'll attend this gifted class once a week at another school.

The last 2 and a half years the kids were placed in groups around a round table, but this year Bianca is excited that she will have her very own desk.  And what's more, that it has a lid she can lift up and put all her stationery and books inside her desk.  The kids are still sitting close to each other, but they will have their own space really.

So here is to another school year.  Bianca, we know you will do just great and will make us soooo proud!