Sunday, November 30, 2008

The spirit of Christmas

As an Atheist, I have been thinking what Christmas is all about for me and my family, and I think it's really all about getting together with your family, spending time with the children and giving people really ace presents.

I love giving presents, and I pride myself in knowing exactly what people will like - I still worry that I didn't, but the look on people's faces when they open my gift is worth the stress if they do.

This year, there are a few children to get gifts for, including my own.  Now I usually give the Aunties and Uncles a jar of homemade jam or chutney with a nice lable featuring the children, but I am always at a loss for what to get for the littlies.  I hesitate to just buy generic plastic toys as they really show no thought, but I don't know the children well enough to get a good shop gift.  Also, what with moving house and everything we are pretty strapped for cash, so I decided to make gifts this year.  Finger puppets for the oldest and youngest, a sock Santa for the middle girl and a toy duck for the middle boy.  They are pretty cool, even if I do say so myself!  I've made similar for my own children over the year, so I reckon they are tried and tested designs.

I was a little worried that homemade gifts might seem a little cheap to some people, but then I read this article: Walmart worked trampled by shoppers and I realised that maybe it was the best idea afterall.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

No time for me

It seems that I do a lot of stuff online. I seem to join everything people send me, so I am trying to limit the places I have to update by pointing all those other ones at Facebook (which this blog automatically copies too - yay!).
I was playing a lot of games on Facebook and doing all sort of poking, jumping, zombie fighting, playing word games and growing trees, but I have ruthlessly deleted and blocked all applications and now only look at photos and walls.

The reason for refusing to play Scrabble/give you a fish/find out which garden ornament I am? Time. Simply, I do not have the time.

After doing my accounts; updating my website and this blog; updating and checking on mates on Facebook and Twitter; writing the Secular Marriage Course (which is behind schedule again!); working on the Ruapeka website and updating various groups on Facebook and Bebo; checking emails on gmail, xtra, hotmail and yahoo (mine, home, Tareka and Ruapeka) I tend to find it's getting a bit late! I can only really sit down at the PC after 8pm which is when the kids are usually asleep, and that's only on the days Tareka is working. Once I've done all the above, it's usually close to 10pm and if I want to ever read another novel again I either log off then and read, or (more likely than not), spend some time on message boards talking to mates in the UK and around the world, then read by torchlight (so I don't disturb Tareka). I seem to be getting to sleep after midnight most nights.

Now, if I was even more ruthless, I could probably get to bed by 10pm, but then I miss out on that vital "me time" which keeps me from completely losing my sense of identity. I know couple of decent night's sleep will sort me out, so they tend to happen when Tareka is off-shift, but if we're away at the Marae (as we were this last off-shift) that doesn't happen at all!

So. If I ignore your virtual poke, or virtual pet rock, please don't be offended. , I am just trying to prioritise!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

All at once!

Why is it that just when I feel like I am getting on top of things, I get swamped again? I think I have a pathological need to do stuff constantly.

The house is all decorated, and now we're moving onto cleaning up the outside. It's really just weeding and edging to do now, so not too much to do. We have listed it privately on TradeMe and also with a Real Estate agent well known for selling houses in our area. We're listing at a pretty low price, which we were recommended to do seeing as how the market is so bad, so we have a good chance of selling within our timeframe (by the end of March 2009). We've also had an offer verbally accepted on a place in Waitakaruru - 5 acres, 4 bedrooms etc etc! We have to do a bit of to-ing and fro-ing with the paperwork, and then we have 15 days to get building and land inspections done. After that, once our place is sold we go unconditional! We could still lose it with all the conditions, but I'm not worried. There are loads more coming on the market that would suit us!

So, we listed our property today with the Real Estate agent, and she brought someone round this afternoon to look at it!! Talk about keen!

On top of that, I have been talking to our local Toy Library, and they are struggling for funding. Everything they applied for this year has been refused and they need at least $7200 per year to pay wages for the Library Co-ordinator, and rent. I wrote to our local paper asking if they would help me to launch an appeal to save them, thinking I wouldn't hear back very quickly, and they came back to me within the hour saying OK! So now I have to create an appeal to launch!! Bother!

Anyway, Tareka has just come back from his fishing trip and we have paperwork to sort before heading down to the Marae for the weekend!

I need a 48 hour day to get things done...

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Nearly Christmas? You're kidding me...

Blimey. It's almost halfway through November already, and I haven't posted.

Where to start...?

The attempt to toilet-train Mapera overnight was a bad idea, so we are back in the pull-ups. Instead, she has a sticker chart for going to the toilet as soon as she wakes up in the morning, as she tends to need the toilet first thing. It's going OK in that she is going, but she is needing to be reminded quite often. She's about halfway through her chart, so I am hoping the 21 days to learn a new habit will work on my busy little girl.
Daytimes are sorted now, she's taking herself off to the loo quite happily and rarely has an accident.

Daycare is proving fantastic for her social development, she has 2 close friends and comes home full of stories and songs and games, which is delightful.

Also, I recall reading something where an atheist family were looking to start the secular equivalent of grace before meals, and it seems I've hit on a good one from Mapera's cross-religious daycare:

"for family, whanau, friends and food, we say ka pai and thank you"

Mapera has taken to saying this before meals, and I try and follow with a round of thank yous - each person has to say thank you to someone else for something. It's a nice way of reminding each other that we are appreciated too.

Life continues apace, and I am actually on track with most of my projects for the first time! I've finished knitting Mapera's toy duck which she loves. I am now making Kaitereo one to prevent arguments!
We're well on track with the decorating of the house, and we're in the process of looking for somewhere bigger and with more land, so watch this space!
I've also decided to send proper Christmas cards this year, as I had a stock of homemade cards in the cupboard.

Finally, I am attempting to write a secular version of the Marriage Course manual. I attended the course and felt that it's religious base was not very relevant to me, although the actual practical exercises and advice were extremely useful. I've emailed the course providers to ask their permission to do this, and if I get the OK, I'll be making it freely available online to anyone who wants it! It's a mammoth project though, with using quotes and poetry, I'll need to get copy write permission for a lot of it. I'm going to use my own experiences where I can too.

So, busy as usual!