Saturday, September 26, 2009

Life takes over.

I have decided that one of the signs that you have truly begun to settle in somewhere is when you are rushed off your feet and have no time for things like blogging. The last few weeks have gone by in a blur of school drop offs, coffee mornings, application forms and late nights.

J has really settled in well at school. Her new teacher is very nice and she is beginning to make good friends amongst her new class mates. I think the transition from Kindergarten to School has been harder on me than it has on J. I have transformed into one of those very pushy Mums who wants to be involved in the school so they can keep an eye on their precious first borns. I have now volunteered to help out in the classroom and come in to do reading with some of the children. I really need to get back to work!

I think, from what I can tell so far, that school in NZ is not all that much different from the UK apart from the fact that they are far more relaxed about access to school grounds and the classroom environment is slightly less formal. I can just wander into the school at any time to help out in the classroom and no one stops me. There is no intercom or high fences as you see in many inner city UK schools. J has been told just to stay behind the red line in the playground, that is all that stands between her and freedom!

It is however a bit disconcerting when you come to pick up time. They are all just released from the classrooms and no one checks whether parents are there or not to collect the little ones. J has been instructed by her teacher to return to the classroom if no one is there at pick up time. At this stage however I am making damn sure I am there on time as I am not sure I trust her entirely to return to the classroom and not panic. I am probably worrying unnecessarily. The fact is that everyone outside the school knows each other. Its such as small place that in two weeks I recognise everyone waiting at the school already, so hopefully if J ever wandered off there are plenty of people who would look after her. The trust, freedom and responsibility that is placed on these children at such a young age can be a bit difficult for someone coming from the UK to get used too.

Spring is apparently here but its not coming soon enough as far as I am concerned. We have had two winters consecutively and now we are desperate for some proper sunshine. We have seen fleeting glimpses of summer but not enough yet for us to try out our new tent. So the last couple of weeks we have made do with some good local walks.

Pauatahanui wildlife reserve is on our doorstep and is a great place to see wading birds and other wildlife. I didn't manage to get any decent pictures of birds this time so here is a picture of A with some sheep we met on the walk.

There are hides dotted all around the reserve which are ideal places to spot birds from - providing you don't shout out every time you see a duck.

Pondering the complexities of life.

Looking towards Whitby.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Endings, Celebrations and New Beginnings.

It has been a momentous week in the Brunt household. Our eldest daughter has had her fifth birthday, her last day of Kindergarten and her first day of school. She is thoroughly exhausted and so are we. It was all far too emotional and her birthday party which was great fun, was also very hard work and mentally and physically very trying!

Thursday was Js last day at Kindergarten and they have a "Celebration" ceremony which involves making a special crown, being in charge of ringing the bell and stamping everyones hand as they leave. This is clearly a very big responsibility and J took it very seriously! It was actually a really nice way to say goodbye to her friends at Kindy and we were given a fantastic record book of her time there. It was filled with photos of J taken since she had started at Kindy and showed her playing with all her friends and all the different activities she had taken part in. She loved her time there and is really going to miss it.

Friday was then her first day at school. This was a very big deal, especially for me! I still think she is far too short to be starting full time education. But J was very enthusiastic about the whole thing and couldn't wait to go in the morning. She has to take a packed lunch as the school doesn't have a Kitchen and she had a new bag and (thanks to her Great Grandparents) a new outfit.

When I picked her up she was limping and looking a bit sorry for herself. She had apparently fallen over at lunch time and she very proudly told me that she had needed "two whole plasters" to make it better. Her teacher came out and told me that she had been very happy all day apart from the falling over incident and seemed to be settling in well.
The school is not a very big one and all the staff are very approachable and friendly. It is much more open than most UK schools as you can wander into the school without having to go through reception and you are welcomed into the classroom at the start of the day. I really like the fact that the start of the school is made such a special event and all the children I have met are really looking forward to starting. J was welcomed by her teacher, her head of department and the Head Teacher himself. All individually came and welcomed her. It was a really good start to her school life.

It was Js party on Saturday from 2-4pm, and that was definitely long enough! We had jointly decided on a Dinosaur theme. So we had spent all week cutting out numerous dinosaurs and footprints to decorate the house. Everyone we had invited turned up so we had 8 very excited little girls and one brave little boy running around the house at high speed. We are now experts in party games and can recommend the bursting dinosaur egg game (balloons with tiny dinosaur babies inside), hunt the cake (T-Rex stolen the cake which they have to find using photo clues) and the dinosaur egg and spoon race (decorated hard boiled eggs). One very important tip is to not scare them too much. We made a dinosaur cave out of a large cardboard box which I introduced by saying that they had to crawl through the box in turn and if they were in there whilst the music was on they would be eaten by the T-Rex. This, I now know, is rather scary for 4 and 5 year old girls and so they all refused to crawl through!

The party in the end was really good fun and as you can see from the photos, I think everyone enjoyed themselves!

We created a "jurassic atmosphere" with cartoon dinos and lots of footprints.

The birthday girl.
The amazing cake!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A view of NZ from 3 and a half feet.

This weekend we were lucky enough to borrow a kiddies digital camera from our local Toy Library. So my two girls have been busily recording our Sunday using the camera. The photos below are just a few of the hundreds of photos they took between them. I think it gives an interesting look into their world view!

It took me ages to figure out what this is a picture of. See if you can guess.

Yes my daughters are gorgeous.

Gosh that's a nice pink dressing gown.

Some feet and the dishwasher!

Rather a good portrait taken by the younger artist.

The younger "artist".

Some feet!

A self portrait.

A back seat view.

A child's view out of the car.

Yes, we are determined to use the barbecue as much as possible.

Interesting garden views.

They managed to take a lot of pictures of their tongues!