Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Month of Poetry

From a Yahoo group, shinewithunschooling, I learned of A Month of Poetry and decided to take up the challenge even though this month is set to be the busiest month of this year. I doubt if I will manage to actually write 29 poems in one month but I'll give it a shot! If you want to learn more about it, go to

Saturday, January 19, 2008

I never wanted to know, before they were born, what sex my babies were, and when my son told me he and his partner were having a baby girl, I felt a bit disappointed - I felt they had taken a little of the excitement out of the occasion. But as time has gone by, and with the naming of the yet to be born baby, Sam has already become a very real member of my family - all I have to do now is meet her! And the excitement is back.

With Sam due to arrive in the world in February, I have been making a photo album for her parents. Because it is a specific album for a specific person, it took me ages to decide what to do, but I am so happy with how it has turned out.

The covers are stamped with Trade Aid wooden animal stamps, and then overlaid with a bubble pattern made by laying paper over bubbles blown in a container of dye, water and dishwashing liquid.

The spine has small animal buttons sewn on it.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Caring for young children

I'm not an enthusiast of housekeeping: I have never had a House and Garden Cover Story home - not only have our houses and possessions never been of that standard, but nor has my house keeping. In addition, I have lived for 20 years in houses that have not actually finished being built! However, I have felt that it has been comfortable for me (if not my husband) most of the time the last couple of years. You know, messy but my mess!

Then this week, the grandchildren came to stay for three nights.

Suddenly there was all this unaccustomed mess, and even if I tidied it up, it was spread around again ten minutes later.......

And then there were the other things: I managed to keep up with the washing - just - but the kitchen..............

It's good to have this happen, to remind me that even if I am reaching the crone stage of my life, my supposed wisdom is nothing without true memories of what it is really like. It's also kinda nice to realise that once upon a time, when I was a mother of four small children, I was indeed Superwoman.

It has also reminded me that one thing that I didn't get when I was struggling with young children was acknowledgment of the truly hard job I was doing so I'd like to acknowledge three of the best mothers I have ever known: Shell, Debbie and Violet, you are the greatest - true superheros.

Friday, January 4, 2008

The Homeward Journey

As I mentioned, Marakopa is an old-fashioned kind of place, so there was no hassle about getting out of the camping ground by 10am. We had a leisurely breakfast then packed up, and headed for the Marakopa Falls, which are 35 m high, and quite wide.

The arthritis in my hip was bothering me quite a lot so I stayed at the look out point, Mac, H and C went down the muddy path a bit further, while Jeff (17) and L (12) clambered over the rocks, right out o the pool at the bottom of the falls, getting covered in mud in the process.

We then went on to the Piripiri Caves. Again, I didn't go past the entrance, worried about my hip. I'm not really all that keen on exploring underground, so didn't feel particularly deprived!

We had lunch there and a bit of a sleep / read, then on to Kawhia for an ice cream and a look around. Compared to Marakopa, Kawhia felt like a bustling metropolis! From Kawhia we went our separate ways, our friends heading back to Hamilton after a swim, while we came home to Kauroa via the direct route, albeit unsealed and somewhat corrugated in places, with several slips as well. It was still a lot shorter to come that way. It's great to go adventuring, but it's good to come home.

Sunset over Mt Karioi the night we returned home

Thursday, January 3, 2008


The inspiration for our trip to Marakopa was the memories of a trip there about 15 or more years ago. Seven km down the road is Kiritehere Beach, and at the southern end of the beach there are rocks. Ho hum - same as most beaches. Wrong!

In these rocks are masses of fossils - in fact some rocks are basically all fossil. To start with you see just an occasional fossil, and then as your attention focuses, you suddenly start seeing them everywhere.

It is mind-blowing somehow, seeing the fossils of creature that are 197 million years old - and made me very conscious of how incredibly insignificant I am!

In the late afternoon we went back to the beach for a swim and then spent the evening talking and playing pool and Cranium. It was so good to spend time getting to know our friends better, and to be with people with whom we all got along well.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


We've just had a couple of nights away camping. I remember how hard it was going camping with four young children, but now we are down to just Mac and I and our 'baby' who is, at 17, a young adult. It is so easy. so relaxed. We have all that extra room in the van, so we can just throw our stuff in and go. There's no special cuddly toy that has to be turned back for, no need to think of toys, nappies, special food. Jeff packs his own stuff, though the last couple of times we've gone somewhere I haven't thought to remind dh Mac to take his togs and towel, so I did do that this time!

When we were ready, I rang the friends we were going away with, and discovered they had had a late night Skyping relative overseas until 2am, so they weren't leaving until oneish. So rather than panicking as I would have done 10 years ago, we just went and had lunch with ds#1 and our grandchildren who live not far off our route to Marakopa. It is so great to holiday in such a non-urgent way!

Once our friends texted to say they were on the way, we too headed off, meeting up with them at the Waitomo Caves Museum, and we enjoyed a browse around the museum despite the film show having 1/3 of the screen showing upside down: I went and told the young woman at the counter, only to be told, "Yes, we KNOW!" in a very annoyed manner! Say what?

Our next stop was the Mangapohoe Natural Bridge, which is the remains of a cave, with a limestone arch with stalactites forming the 'bridge' which you walk under.

Then it was off to Marakopa Campground, which proved to be like stepping back into the 1950's. The camp was basic, but okay. People had modern tents, and top of the line fishing gear, trailers with freezers, four wheeler bikes, so it was modern in that sense, but the atmosphere was old-time: people were friendly, and the fun was fishing, playing tennis or cricket, rather than fun being tied up with electronic gadgets or expensive boats (and no cell phone coverage!) As in my childhood memories of Ruatoria, young Maori boys rode bareback through the streets on piebald horses, and the place was full of those other kiwi icons - pohutukawa, palms, and norfolk pines. Small children honed their bike riding skills around camp, while older kids (8 - 14 year olds) practiced riding the four wheeler motor bikes with old-fashioned disregard for things like registration or licenses.

In the evening we all went for a walk along the beach and met people carrying huge amounts of fish. Some were throwing their catches back because they had so many! The fisher folk were land based, unlike most Raglan fishermen who seem to spend most of their times playing with their expensive boats, some of which almost qualify as ships! The Marokopa fisher folk were surf casting and reeling in fish with almost every cast. A couple of people had new-fangled torpedoes to carry multiple hooks out into the sea, but they were actually catching fewer fish than the others.