Friday, April 29, 2011

A Royal Affair...

I don't care what anybody might say or feel, but I'm excited about the Royal wedding and tonight I will be watching the "magic" on TV.  Bianca is quite fascinated with the fact that this is a real live prince and that the girl he will be marrying will become a princess.  Having girls they love the concept of princesses and "happy ever after".  Bianca's even named her cat "Prince Charming" - so there you go...

As I am typing here they are showing some images on TV about Westminister Abbey and wow, it simply looks amazing.  Absolutely beautiful.  If I was able to visit the UK, I would love to visit this place.

Yesterday when I picked Caitlyn up from daycare her teacher was paging through a bridal magazine.  Turns out that the teachers have a bet going to see who might be able to guess what Kate's dress will look like.  There were some stunning dresses to see and it was quite fun trying to figure out what we thought would fit Kate the best.  We all agreed she would probably not have a sleeveless number, but we couldn't really "see" her in one of those puffed out dresses.  Definitely something a bit more fitting.  Oh well, we'll see soon enough.  :-).

Friday, April 22, 2011

A homemade Christmas this year?

Of course Christmas is still months away.  But this year I'm hoping to be able to make some special gifts for the girls, rather than just buying stuff.  I'm not quite sure what I'll try and make.  Yesterday when we went to the library to get Bianca some new books to read, I went through the craft section looking for ideas and inspiration.  Maybe I'll make them each their own scrapbook album with some special photos.  Or maybe I'll try and knit them some fun toys.  Or maybe I'll try and crochet them each a colourful blanket - hmmm, lots of ideas out there.

And as I was browsing I noticed some calligraphy books.  Years ago I did calligraphy - just a basic class which I really enjoyed.  I remember it was held in this really cool paper shop.  Le Papier du Nord or something like that.  And it was the kind of shop where you look around thinking "If I won the lotto today...".  And so I find myself thinking it might be cool to try my hand at calligraphy again.  Now if only I can find where I left my spare time...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Holidays, netball, reading...

At the moment Bianca is on school holiday.  It is hard to believe that term 1 is finished and that we are going into term 2 very soon.  Somehow this year feels like it is moving way too fast.  Of course Bianca will say that it is not moving quite fast enough and if she had her way, her birthday in June would be tomorrow :-).  Some days it is just Bianca and I as Caitlyn goes to daycare a few days a week.  Bianca chose to watch Harry Potter 1 yesterday and today (which is good because it will help with our birthday preparation) and in between Bianca is motoring through a bunch of fairy chapter books and is on her 3rd one in 2 days.  I expect we'll have to visit the library really soon again...

Bianca will be playing netball now in term 2 and we have been going to school every day to practice shooting goals.  It seems a lifetime ago since I played netball at school, but I used to enjoy it a lot and it seems Bianca will too.  They were not sure if they would have enough kids for a team, but Bianca was one of the kids putting up her hand and so they managed to put together a team.  I'm pleased because she first played some netball when she was in year 2 in Auckland and then unfortunately missed out on the end of the season when we moved here.  Typically they only seem to start from Year 4 here in Wellington, so it is good that they have managed to put together a team now in Year 3. 

So I think this coming term will be busy.  That means on Mondays she has gymnastics, Tuesdays during lunchtime at school she has her guitar lesson, Fridays during lunchtime she has her netball practice, Saturday mornings will be netball matches and Saturday afternoons cheerleading.  It feels as if Bianca has really discovered the activities she would like to focus on and I would imagine wanting to continue with.  Caitlyn doesn't seem keen to do ballet again next term, but I'm thinking of maybe letting her try out junior jiggles which is sort of a jazz kind of dancing for little kids.  She does like dancing at home and would often jump up if music starts playing and she seems to have her own way of dancing.  Actually not too bad. And then on Thursdays Caitlyn's daycare class goes to gymnastics so Caitlyn will continue with that.   

Somewhere in between we will have to try and fit in swimming because neither of my kids can swim.  When Bianca was diagnosed with cancer we had to stop her swimming lessons because of the health risk associated with heated indoor swimming pools and so it has been a really long time since she had swimming lessons and of course we didn't take Caitlyn because it didn't feel fair that one could and the other couldn't.  But it's time.  If only just to learn the basics to be able to help themselves if they should fall into the water.  Living in New Zealand you are surrounded by water and you are never more than 1.5 hours away from the nearest beach.  In fact we have a beach 5 minutes' drive away and several more a bit further.

So busy times it seems.  But manageable - even if it sounds really busy. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

A call out of the blue and feeling like an idiot

I got a phone call today.  Phone rings, I answer "Hello, this is Lea" and the person on the other side says: "hello, I'm so and so from this company and you applied for a job with us".  I thought for a moment and couldn't for the life of me think about any positions I recently applied for, so I said "Uhm, when did I apply for it?" and she says "about 2 or 3 weeks ago".  So by now I feel stumped and quite confused, trying to figure out how to get more information without sounding like a complete idiot because for the life of me I just could not remember.  "I might be interested, depending on the hours and so on".  "Well it's flexible, Monday to Friday, 20 hours".  "Okay, where is the position located?" "In the city".  "Ahhh, I'm sorry, but it won't be possible for me to consider this position..."

So then as she mentioned where they were located I suddenly remembered that I actually did apply for the position, but it felt longer than 2 or 3 weeks ago.  When the call ended I went to my job search folder on my laptop and... I applied for the position on the 19th of January - so not 2 or 3 weeks ago, more like almost 3 MONTHS ago.  Hmmm, somehow I wonder if it is a case of they hired somebody, the person started, hated it and left and they are now going through everybody else who applied...

This is on my mind...

I lost complete track of this fun challenge from Rhonda from Down to Earth.  And each time I finally realise the challenge is happening, the weekend is halfway over.  But not today... Today I have an entry :-)

This is vetkoek.  It is very much traditional South African.  We used to have this a lot when we still lived in South Africa.  It is yummy with mince or cheese or even sweet fillings.  I even once had one with caramel and banana and really really liked that :-).  We haven't made this in a very very long time.  I actually stopped cooking with oil a long time ago, but this past week I thought it would be nice to make this again.  Now I'm not very good at making my own bread dough, so I went to the local New World to ask if they wouldn't mind preparing some for me that I could then buy and so I ordered 2kg of fresh bread dough.  Of course I got some funny looks from the staff at the checkout - not quite sure what I was going to do with it.  And last night we made this.  It was very yummy indeed :-)

Basically you take the dough, roll balls, flatten them and put them into the oil.It should be deep enough to let your dough float to the top, it should be hot, but should not be so hot that it turns brown too quickly. It has to cook nice and slow so the insides can be well cooked.

Trial Cake

On Monday I wrote about starting some of the prep work for Bianca's birthday party.  I know it is still a little while, but from experience I've learned that if I leave things till the last minute, they have a habit of going all wrong.  And in fact I was reminded of this when I was doing Caitlyn's birthday cake in February.  Not a good feeling when you suddenly realise at 11pm the night before the party that things are not going as you hoped. 

Bianca is hoping to have a Harry Potter birthday party and we saw this really cool cake.  A big book with a wizard's hat on top and so I just knew I was going to have to make a trial cake.

Here it is:

The book isn't too bad.  Although I forgot to cut the bottom one completely flat so it doesn't sit as nice as a book could.  And I think the book cover really needs to be thicker.  The hat is supposed to be black, but I ran out of black colouring so this one is this dark grey colour.  And the actual one won't have stars but because of the dark grey, I painted this on just to make it look a bit nicer.  I will also have to remember to shape it a bit better to better represent a wizard hat and unfortunately I ran out of icing, but the rim definitely needs to be wider.  But for a first attempt I think it is good.  And as long as it tastes good then that's all that matters.

So there it is, my first attempt at Bianca's cake. 

Dinner with somebody famous

We were so excited to see this on the Stuff website today (click here).

One of Terence's friends has a son who is the lead actor in the six dollar fifty man.  This short film has won a lot of awards and recently they came to visit us and stayed the night, so we can quite proudly say we had dinner with a famous actor :-).

Well done Oscar, this short film is such a great achievement!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Starting early

I know Bianca's birthday is still a little while away - 2 months and 1 week, but from experience I've learned that that sounds much longer than it actually is.  Time goes by so fast and before I know it we'll be in that week right before her birthday. 

This year Bianca wants a Harry Potter birthday.  Because Bianca's birthday is in winter (and likely cold and rainy), we can't rely on an outside venue like at a park so need to have an indoor venue - just in case.  Bianca has so many friends and already has about 15 kids on the invite list, so we've decided we are going to see if we can perhaps get the school hall which so far looks like we'll be able to book it.  And if we use the hall, we may as well invite all the kids in her class as well as some kids from the other Year 3 class who are her friends.

So we've been thinking of ideas of things to do at the party and I think we can make a fairly nice party with this theme.  One of the things I am hoping to make are little cauldrons and I saw the coolest website showing how to go about making this using paper mache.  And then of course Bianca chose this fancy cake which I'm sure looks way easier than it really is. 

So I really have no choice but to start preparing early.  Yesterday I started making the first cauldron (and I'll have to come up with a way to have a bit of a production line going I think) and last night I baked a trial cake which I'm hoping to try and decorate today just to get my head around what is involved.  Fingers crossed it actually comes out the way the book shows. Otherwise it is back to square one...

Friday, April 8, 2011

Just a very quick update...

because I developed a cold and am not feeling great so will be heading off to bed soon.  Thankfully my kids are very considerate and earlier today I managed to have a bit of a nap while Caitlyn quietly amused herself during that time.  I was feeling quite horrible and I am just so glad that my kids are not the kind of kids who want their parents to entertain them 24/7 and they've learned to sometimes play by themselves.  I guess this cold is a sign that winter is right here on our door step.

On Wednesday Bianca had her 2-monthly checkup and doctor is very happy with her.  The blood test results were not ready in time, but there were no worrying signs so doctor wasn't really worried.  Bianca had slightly swollen lymph nodes which we assume is really just because of the mild cold symptoms she has at the moment.  When we got home I rang the clinic to find out if the blood test results were ready and unfortunately the sample clotted and they were unable to get a result.  Sigh!  So they asked if we could go to Kenepuru Hospital for another sample the following day.  Kenepuru is about halfway so more practical than going all the way to the city just for another blood test.

It was strange to be back at this hospital.  So many memories came flooding back.  We took Bianca there on the 2nd of June 2007.  We thought it was going to just be a quick visit and them telling us that the swollen lymph node at the back of her head was because of the tonsillitis infection she developed the beginning of May and that they would just give her a bit more antibiotics to clear it all up.  Of course it didn't quite go that way, it ended up with Bianca being referred to Wellington hospital, a blood test revealed low platelets, low haemoglobin, low neutrophils, high white cell count, a transfusion and a hospital admission.  The start of a journey that would change our lives forever.

Kenepuru Hospital was also the place we came to beginning of 2008 just when Bianca started maintenance.  Up to that point they used her port for blood tests, but when kids go onto maintenance they try and encourage them to get used to finger pricks because blood tests continue even when ports are removed.  We went there because we didn't need to go all the way to the city just for a blood test.  That first time was so traumatic for Bianca.  She screamed her little head off.  And now?  She happily sits there, chooses the finger and holds it out for the finger prick.

So after the test on Thursday, we went to the North City Shopping Centre to wait for the results.  I figured that if it was going to clot again, at least we would be close by and can quickly go and repeat it.  Got to the shopping centre and we walked past the hairdressers we went to in 2007 just when Bianca's hair started falling out.  First we cut it short, but then another time shaved it all off.  At that stage Bianca had hair going everywhere.  She would wake up with hair in her mouth, she had hair falling in her food and it just irritated her.  So on that day the three of us (Terence, Bianca and I got our hair shaved).  That must have been in July 2007. 

We also walked past the food court.  I remember the time Bianca was on steroids and she would crave chicken nuggets.  So by 10 am in the morning she'd insist we go to the mall (only when her counts were fine) and we'd go to this one fish and chip takeaways place at the food court.  They sold chicken nuggets and also slices of bread.  She would then ask for chicken nuggets and bread.  Then we would sit there and she would stuff it all into her mouth and beg me to get her more.  I often wondered what other people must have thought because this was before she lost her hair and didn't look ill, and instead just looked like a fat kid (the steroids made her go all swollen and puffy).  Must be honest, I so don't miss the steroid days.  We used to dread every moment of it.

And so on Thursday Bianca and I ended up having a Bianca and Mummy day.  The nurse said she would call as soon as she knew the results and in the meantime Bianca and I walked past a number of shops.  Looked at some cool toys and clothes and had a quick lunch at one of the coffee shops.  That was a lot of fun - just the two of us.  Went back to Kenepuru to get the results and all is well and in normal ranges. 

So that's that for another 2 months.  And soon Bianca will have another ultrasound which is a follow up from the one we did in Auckland to make sure her kidneys are still fine.

Monday, April 4, 2011

How do you know your 7 year old is growing up...

When she asks to cross the road to school by herself.  Well actually she's asking to walk to school by herself, so we've reached a compromise - I stop a little bit of a distance from school, let Bianca get out of the car, grab her bag and I watch her as she crosses the one road.  So far so good :-). 

When she mentions that she wants less presents for her birthday and instead wants some birthday money.

When she finally says: "I'm old enough now, I can go to sleep without sleepy time song".  This one is a tiny bit sad really - I made up this song way back when Bianca was just a few days old and she's liked it ever since.  Every night both girls would ask us to sing this to them and now it seems... Bianca is growing up. 

Eeny, meeny...

Caitlyn's version:

"Eeny, meeny, miny, mo
Catch a fish by his toe
If you like it, then you like it
Eeny, meeny, miny mo"

Cheeky little monkey :-)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The iPad generation...

Things here have suddenly become really busy with all the planning with regards to our new business.  And because of what we're hoping to achieve had to join the iPad generation.  We bought an iPad 1 (not 2 because that got sold out so fast I'm sure some people's heads are still spinning).  Some of what we will be doing will need to run on things like the iPad, iPhone and so on and it is therefore important that we test it out, get our heads around what is out there and so on and once our projects are ready for release be able to test our own applications.  So between Terence and Bianca - the iPad is getting a major test drive. 

Bianca's favourite application at the moment (well we've only downloaded 3 apps so far) is Plants vs Zombies.  It is a lot of fun and requiring a little bit of strategy, but certainly manageable for Bianca's age.  Another one that is quite addictive is Hop which is based on the very popular Doodle Jump.  This is a free application, but the original Doodle Jump goes for something like $1.99 and I believe that there have been around 10 million paid downloads of doodle jump.  Oh my!  That is a lot!  And then some hungry shark one (also free) - oh and Angry Birds, a 4th download (also free).

Right now we have about 3 projects we are working on with quite a few on our list of future projects.  Not sure when eventually we'll have a completed project because I'm finding that the process is actually quite involved.  And of course in between product design, I'm also spending my time sourcing quotes for graphic designers so we can get our logo done, working on our website, opening bank accounts and all sorts of admin tasks.  So definitely busy days for me.  But it is good.  It offers a whole new world ready to be explored.  :-)

In other news, tonight is the end of our daylight savings time and we will be turning the clocks back 1 hour.  Even though autumn (or fall) has only just begun, it is definitely at times feeling like winter is right here on our door steps.  Dark in the morning when we wake up, a definite chill in the morning air and some evenings we've even taken a hot water bottle to bed (no I'm not a fan of an electric blanket).  If this is the way it is going, I think we might be in for a long winter this year.

And that is pretty much what we are up to.  I can't believe that we are now in April.  This year is going way too fast...