Tuesday, February 21, 2012


I have worked out how to be friends on Freerice!!!

Simply follow the instructions under the FAQ page.  Duh.  All that time I spent fishing around trying to work it out for myself.

Here tis:
Easiest route if you are already part of our group, is to click on the name of each person in the group.  Then when their profile page comes up, click the little green button that says "follow".

How easy is that?!

If you want to find someone else, then

To add friends, go to your profile (http://freerice.com/user), click on the option to "Edit your profile".
Scroll down, above your Friends list you will see two options:
- A search box to search for friends already members on Freerice. Start typing their names, you can click on their name and choose to follow their activities on Freerice.
- A link to invite your friends on Facebook to join. You will still need to follow them on Freerice once they join using the search box.
You can also click on other Freerice player usernames and choose the option “Follow User”. This means that you will see updates in your Friends Activity list and see their ranking in your friends' ranking list.
Players are not notified when you follow them.

Now that we are friends (you did decide to follow me, didn't you?!), whenever you go onto Freerice you can click on the Friends Activity (beside Groups on the pale green toolbar) to see what I've been up to.
Have fun!  I wonder what cool things you'll learn this week.  I'm trying to get the countries of southern Africa sorted in my head.  And central America.  And Europe! Grin.

Monday, February 20, 2012


Kids.  You gotta love 'em.

They sure do take a lot of work, so it's a good thing they come cute.

My baby is currently asleep.  Which is where I want to be too.  Where I plan on being shortly.  Afternoon nap time.  Bring it on!  Yay!
But I've been writing letters to our sponsored kids today.  And was horrified to realise that the last time I wrote was in OCTOBER.  Ugh.  So not cool.  These kids really don't take much of my time (unlike my own small fry who seems to be a time sponge!).

The thing is, these kids live and breathe for our letters.  Sure, it is great to give them money, help them get to school and have clean water and all that sort of stuff.  But you know what they need even more?  Hope.  Knowing someone believes in them.  Knowing someone out there thinks the world of them, prays for them, cares enough to remember their birthday and send them a letter from time to time.  Can't say I've been particularly good in that area.  I have it written in my to-do list every few months, but it is all too easy to put off, thinking it's too hard.  Thinking that it won't matter if they don't hear from me just yet.

But if you think about it, their families are usually on the brink of survival.  And that is not just Amy exagerating to make it more impacting.  They are.  They are just getting by, day by day.  If they can manage to pack their kid off to school today, they are doing well.  If they all got to eat today, they are doing well.  If there was ANY money leftover for tomorrow, that's a bonus.  So I don't imagine that people living in these circumstances manage much in the way of "You can do it.  You are amazing.  Follow your dreams." for their children.  They are probably too tired.  And too worried.

So that's where we come in.  We do have time.  We do have energy.  I know you think you don't, but believe me, you do. 

It takes me about 1hour to write to three sponsored kids.  One hour.  Every four months (when I remember to do it regularly enough).  Now, I know we are all busy and we are all stressed.  We do live in the modern world.  But seriously, we have half an hour every few months to sow into the life of another person.  You may be the only encouragement this child EVER receives.  You may be the difference between them finishing school or giving up, between believing they are valuable or worthless.

We can't change the world.  I wish we could.  I so want to!  But we can change one child's life.  The power of our words can change their life. 

So, I encourage you, write to your sponsored child today.  Don't have one or can't afford one right now?  You can still write to one.  Tear Fund is crying out for writers, for all those people who sponsor but don't communicate with their kids.  You could be a penpal.  Half an hour, every four months.  Change someone's life.  Isn't that amazing?  Such a simple, easy task can literally change someone's life.  And through them, their family, their community, their world.  And let me tell you, it is so nice getting a letter back, buzzing with excitement!


ps - Are you (like most of the people I talk to, myself included!) not sure what to write about?
How about some posts on ideas...things to write, easy things to do for your sponsored child, templates, etc?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Drumroll Please!

Are you drumming?

It is with great pleasure that I announce the Supreme Chocolate Fish Award for Freerice Week 2012!

The winner is................


With over 55,000 grains of rice donated in the week, he left us all in his dust.  He was also the only one that referred a friend, and to top it all off, got over 20,000 grains in just one day!!!

Consolation prizes are also hereby awarded to Maxine (3,000 grains over the week although only 1,000 show in our group - congratulations!), Aynsley (5,280 grains - stirling effort!), and Grads (160 grains, signed-up-during-the-week award!).

Boyo's official total shows at 52,150, but he also had some technical glitches getting into our group, so his first 3,000 aren't listed.

He has already scooped up his prize, proudly displayed beside his armchair in the lounge.

Three chocolate fish (bigger than the little minnow in the photo, just in case you are wondering!  That was all I had available to photograph earlier in the week!).

Maxine and Aynsley can look out for your prizes in the post soon.  Yum, yum, yummy!

Thanks so much for participating, everyone.  I hope you enjoyed it, learnt some new things, and felt the thrill of helping someone in incredible need.  But don't stop now.  Keep at it, our few grains of rice each day or week really do make a huge difference to someone facing hunger.  And if you didn't sign up during Freerice week, you still can!  Get on Freerice, and make a difference!  You only need a minute, seriously.  Now who doesn't have a minute spare from time to time?!?

Amy (off to do 500 grains now, seeing as it has been a few days!  Then I think I will go to bed - Munchkin has a cold, and while he is a happy sicky during the day for the most part, he is NOT at night!!!  I can hardly keep my eyes open after two nights up with him and two days at work!).

My inspiration for chocolate fish comes, as always from Mrs Thomas in Mog and the Baby (by Judith Kerr): "You are a baby saving cat, and you deserve a reward." 

Monday, February 13, 2012


Munchkin and I made some more playdough last week.

Mummy's playdough (in the making):

Munchy's playdough (flour creation):

Loads of fun.  Munchkin loves playdough so much, he runs to the fridge as soon as I say the word!  The only downside?  Trying to prevent an under two year old from scoffing while playing.  All that salt is not so great for the littlies.  We made this batch a nice bright green and added a drop of peppermint oil.  Yummy.  Our favourite things to do with it (other than eat it!) are putting round balls into containers, and cutting out little shapes.  We have a dog, a cat, a heart, and a star.  Munchkin likes them all.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sleeping the Night Away

Life has been somewhat crazy round here lately.  Not that it has been peaceful, serene, or boring for quite some time!  But recently, it has been busier than even our usual busy.

Sleep has been a problem.

Sleep is still a problem.  Well, not so much sleep, but a lack of it.

With starting work so early, I am up at 5:15am four mornings a week.  Boyo was coming to bed around 1-2am.  Munchkin has been waking one or two times most nights.  On Friday night, it was FIVE times.  I broke out the pamol to add to the teething arsenal (he has a teething and a sleep remedy which usually work quite well).  Today I bought more bonjella.  The bottom two molars are definitely feeling more pointy than a few months back.  I hate teething.  I really, really hate teething.

Of course, I've been adding to my lack-of-sleep problem too.  Movies.  Why is it that most movies seem to finish after 10:30pm these days?!?  Yet there I was, watching them.  You see, I'd spend so long tidying up, doing washing, putting food in the fridge, and so on after getting Munchkin into bed, that I'd then feel like I needed to vegetate infront of the tube for at least an hour before I could possibly go to sleep.  My mind gets too wound up.  Yes, even by doing the washing.  Annoying.  But then of course, I'd lose an hour or two of sleep.  Now, an hour or two doesn't sound like much.  But when you compound that by two or three or even four nights a week, it all adds up way too much.  And when you aren't actually getting enough sleep to start with, before any late-night movie watching.  Well.  Silly me.

So here is my resolution.  I have taken drastic measures.  Firstly, I am telling all of you.  So that I will feel like a total hypocrite and really bummed if I don't follow through.  Grin.  I am hoping you will hold me accountable.  Ask me in a few weeks if I did what I said I was going to do on that blog post.

Secondly, I have set a recurring alarm.  New mobile phone, which means I can actually do that (my previous one only let you set one alarm at a time, this one I can do up to 6, and choose which days of the week they are for, amazing!)!  My alarm is now set for 9pm.  That is my reminder that whatever I am doing, it is not as important as sleep.  Very difficult to remember when faced with a huge pile of washing, or the deep and burning desire to read one last blog post or sort one last batch of photos before heading off to bed.  So my alarm will hopefully help me remember that there should be no work after 9pm.  Movies are out.  They go too late.  I must be in bed, with the light out, by 10pm.  That's a whole hour to get ready.  Surely, even for my waffly bed-time routines that should be enough (I drive Boyo nuts with how long I take getting ready for bed - he takes about 5minutes).  I figure that if I get to 9pm and feel like I haven't wound down enough to go to sleep, then I can do something for half an hour that is relaxing, with the deliberate intent of calming down.  Do some wordfinds, sit in bed and knit, that sort of thing.  But I still need to be in bed by 10. 

I am also hoping to have some shorter lie downs during the day when Boyo is at Polytech (starts next week, yikes!).  Just half an hour, maybe 45minutes.  Enough time for me to rest, but without taking too long out of my afternoon. 

So there you go.  That's the plan.  Whatcha think?

Crafar Farms

I’ve been thinking about the sale of Crafar Farms a lot recently. I don’t normally watch much news. In case you are like me, the brief is that Crafar Farms is being sold to a Chinese company. This is creating some ah, controversy and angst across New Zealand.
What bothers me about the sale is not that it is going to foreign ownership. Don’t get me wrong, I do not want foreign ownership of NZ farms. I’d much rather have NZ farmers own our own farms.

What really worries me is how ignorant we seem to be (myself included) about this issue. And how unsupportive, even downright nasty some of us can be towards the government that we as a nation have elected. A government that may or may not be making great decisions, but who is trying. I just feel that whether we like a politician and agree with their motives or methods or not, they do at least deserve our respect. They have taken on an incredibly hard task, and one in which they are never going to please everyone (and are pretty much guaranteed to only hear from those who are disgruntled!). They have opened their private lives to public scrutiny and media frenzy. That takes guts. It deserves at least our grudging respect, if nothing else. And our prayers.
So, the ignorance.
Anyone would think, listening to some folks, that the sale of Crafar Farms is all the government’s fault. But they seem to forget a few things. Here’s the gist of it (thanks to Boyo for some of the research!):

Crafar Farms is privately owned.

It has been in receivership since 2009. That means it owes a lot of money (specifically, it owed $200mil to two banks and a rural finance firm – plus interest during the three years it has been in receivership).

It has been poorly performing. Which might account for why it is in receivership! Apparently the Chinese company looking to buy it (Shanghai Pengxin) are going to put in XXX$mil in the first xxx years alone in needed upgrades to get the farms producing profitably. While it is looking like it will have to be sold to this company, they sound like they plan on having NZ Landcorp management, use Fontera infrastructure, and help promote NZ dairy products more in China. So while things may change later, it does at least look like they are trying to be friendly in their take-over bid!
I feel that while the NZ government has had to approve the sale of these farms due to the rather large price tag, they are not the creators of the problem. Therefore they cannot be the solution either, despite our deep desires for them to ride in on white horses and save the day. The receivers turned down an offer of $170mil from NZ business man Michael Fay to take the $210mil offer from the Chinese firm (which is quite possibly still not going to cover the debt, depending on how well these farms have performed the past three years). If you were going to be out of pocket by $40mil would you worry too much about who was going to own the farms? Probably not. And lets just be realistic, we are dealing with banks and finance companies. Money is their business. And they are probably not NZ owned anyway (do we have any NZ owned banks left???).
What really bothers me, concerns me in all this? That we are so quick to blame our government for allowing overseas buyers to take over farms that we as a nation do not seem to have the capital to run, while we will sell our own homes to foreigners any day of the week. Yup. Ever thought to check when you sell your house whether it was bought by a hardworking Kiwi couple, or an Australian investor? Probably not. See, it really doesn’t enter into our heads most of the time. Then there are all the other times we sell our country cheap. Bought any appliances lately? Made in….wait for it…CHINA! Hmm. There seems to be a bit of an anomaly here. All up in arms about sale of land to China, yet here we are running off to the store every week and buying Chinese cars, Chinese tvs, and even Chinese food.
Have you read a few food labels lately? You’d be surprised just how many of them state “Made from local and imported ingredients.” And the scary thing? By law, they don’t have to state what or how much was local and how much was imported. They don’t have to say the country of origin. Which means that we are blithely eating food produced in conditions that are less than healthy (not wanting to make this entire post about China, but I do have to say that I’ve read disturbing reports about pesticides/etc used in Chinese food – exploding melons, heavy metals, etc – low industry regulation, low voice by those who grow the food, and high need for income results in poor standards).

Rice bran oil, doesn't say where it is made!

Crayola felt pens, made in USA, assembled in Australia!

Pams jam, one of those "local and imported" cocktails!
We just don’t seem to realise how big an impact all these small purchasing decisions have. We are worried about a large scale farm sale, which we probably should be. But we are not concerned at all about how often we are buying NZ made (or rather, not buying NZ made) at the shops. If we want to ‘go off’ at our government, then we should first look at our own lives. Stop buying anything that is not produced in NZ. Then you have the right to tell off the government for allowing the sale of our land. Seem a bit extreme? Maybe. But I am really serious here. Governments made decisions. Some helpful, some not. We can’t really control how they go about making those decisions. Despite democracy, they sometimes decide to do things that most of us disagree with. But what we can control, is what we do with our own money. And if every Kiwi household started really supporting our local growers, local artists, local businesses, and local industries, they would flourish. Our nation would grow more wealthy, and then maybe we wouldn’t have to worry about whether there was an NZ owned business wealthy enough to purchase a large group of farms in receivership!
The question is, are we prepared to pay more? Or is it all about the bottom line, and the perpetual what’s-in-it-for-me? I bought NZ raised bacon this month. Have to admit, I nearly didn’t. There was other stuff on sale, but it didn’t say it was fully NZ produced. I so wanted to buy that cheaper bacon. I could have saved several dollars. Several dollars that I could have spent on more food. But I chose to buy the NZ made instead. But if it was a bigger purchase, could I still have done it? Would I choose something at $200 if it was made in NZ, over something half that price that was made in Indonesia, China, Thailand or somewhere else with cheap labour? Why do you think so many of our NZ industries have either curled up and died a slow death, or moved production offshore? They don’t get enough support in order to remain a New Zealand made product. We bought a stroller this month too. Made in China. Now Chinese workers need wages too, I seriously am not trying to point the finger at China here! But it scares me that I didn’t even stop to consider where that stroller was made. I only know where it comes from because of the shiny bright sticker on the brake bar! We bought it because it was a good stroller. But mostly we bought it because it was a really, really good price. I feel just a little bit materialistic, money focused, and not very pro-NZ. The sad thing is that if I’d not been reading about Crafar Farms during the same time frame, I’d probably never have even thought about where our stroller comes from.

The truth about our fabulous new stroller, a well-loved US brand, but made in China.
So that’s what has been going through my head in recent weeks. Wondering just how many of our smaller decisions reflect the bigger things we as a nation tend to get riled up about. Wondering how much of a difference my small purchasing decisions make. I think they must make a difference, all add up somehow. After all, there’s a whole lot more ‘clean and green’ products on the market now than there were seven years ago when I first started buying plant-based cleaners and personal care products. Most of that is probably due to rising consumer demand, as they’d not be able to create these products if enough people weren’t buying them to make them financially viable.

Anyway, just some food for thought. How patriotic are we, really? How much do we take our beautiful country for granted?  How often do our actions provide jobs and a future for New Zealanders, and how often do they undermine that?

Ps – some of the info about Crafar Farms if you want it here and here.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Our Continuing Soap Opera

If you have read my blog lately, you will know what the Soap Opera is referring to.  In case you have forgotten though, I am referring to the ongoing chook sagas.  Never a dull moment in Amy's life when she owns chookies!

First there were the cage-making episodes.  Including the one in which our heroine drills a nice round hole in the top of the washing machine.  And the one where she tries to drill a hole in her leg.  Ouch.

Then the go-and-get-the-chicks episode.  And the everybody getting settled in one, which included my parents going out there each night to put their birds to bed...rather than leaving them in the dirt at the far end of the cage which is where they seemed to think was their bed for a week or so!

Then there was Fred II.  Lovely little Barnevelder.  Just a slight problem with the noise levels and lack of egg laying.  Took him back and got our little sweeties - two Sussex Bantams.  Who I realised today are still nameless.  Opps.  Better work on that soonish.  So then they had to settle in.

Then there was the second crower.  Red Fred (aka Fred the III, previously known as Autumn, which name never did stick).  Only crowed once.  But once was enough to seal that boy's fate. 

So today was another episode in the chook-keeping saga.  We took Red Fred back.  Oh, the fuss as I tried to catch him.  After a bit of a chase around the cage, he then did the "ouch, ooowww, you're hurting me!" or at least I'm sure that's what it is in chook-ish!  I knew it was a good idea to make a cage door I could crawl through if absolutely needed.  Today was one of those days.   The only hitch was that I seem to have bumped the door in the process of catching the rooster, which resulted in Tui having a short, but brief-lived dash for freedom!  Thankfully Boyo was close by to detain her!

Bye-bye Red Fred.  We won't really miss you as you were never a really people-loving bird, but we wish you a pot-free life!
We have now returned with this little lady.  She's a grey Australorp.  I'm pretty sure there's a special name for that grey colouring, but I can't remember.  Munchkin wanted to stay and watch all the chooks, and say 'cockadoo' some more, but we had friends to visit before heading home to settle in our new girl.  She's now safely in the cage with the other three, in her own little isolation corner, just like the Banties were a few weeks back.  Didn't take long to set it all up again, thankfully.  We will leave them like this for a few days to get to know each other then let her in.

Hello, little lady.

Hopefully we will get some eggs soon and start on our extended season of back-to-back egg-laying episodes.  Grin.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Chocolate Fish...

We have our first official Chocolate Fish award for Freerice Week!!!!!!!!!

"Grads" you have won a Chocolate Fish for joining up and playing Freerice!  Congratulations!

Here are my recent additions/stipulations regarding the winning of chocolate fish:
Chocolate fish to the highest score at midnight Sunday, 12th February, 2012 (NZ time).

Chocolate fish to the person who can get the most rice in 5minutes (set your timer and let us know!).

Chocolate fish for whoever gets the highest level in vocabulary this week.

Chocolate fish to the person who gets the most correct answers in a row (no changing the levels once you start!).

Chocolate fish for anyone who joins up this week and answers at least 10 questions correctly.

Chocolate fish if you sign up two friends this week and they answer at least 10 questions correctly.
Lots of chances for chocolate fish.  Grin.  Boyo is still looking highly likely to take out the 'most rice in the week' fish - sitting at over 30,000 grains now (he is a machine people, a mathematical machine!!!).
But the rest are all wide open!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Competitive Streak

Well, I always knew my husband was a bit competitive.  Okay, so he's quite competitive.  But this really shows it.

He has done over 20,000 grains of rice so far this week!

He is now brazenly declaring himself beyond reach, and I suspect that he might be right.  Ugh.  I mean, it's not that I don't think we can all get to 20,000.  It's that he will be so annoyed if we do, that he'll do another 20,000, and 20,000, and 20,000.  Competitive, remember?!  Not that it is a bad thing at all to be competitive just now.  The more questions we answer, the more rice is donated to people who really need it.  So from my point of view, if Boyo wants to answer question after question on Free Rice when he's winding down after work, well that's a much better use of his time than just bumming round surfing the internet.  Better for his brain, keeping it actively occupied, and better for our world as something constructive comes out of his game.

I am thinking we will have some spot prizes (little chocolate fish). 

How many questions can you answer in five minutes?  Set a timer, and get to it!  Post a comment on this blog entry to let me know how you did.

We could do 'most rice in a day' but Boyo will probably take that out too.  Grin.  And besides, I've noticed that Free Rice is set up on Northern Hemisphere times, so our rice gets accumulated on odd times and days compared to when we actually do it.  Normally I wouldn't mind.  Just as long as it gets counted, doesn't matter which day it says it is on.  But that means it is hard to tell who did what on what day.

Highest number of correct questions in a row on vocabulary (because it is easier to get them right on the basic maths so we will stick with vocab for this one).  Start at level one, and see how high you get.

And a chocolate fish for anyone who joins today and answers at least 10 questions (how easy is that!? - Eliz, Claire...???).

Well, I'd better head off and clean.  Hopefully I'll have another five minutes spare when I get home to do some more Free Rice before Munchy baby wakes up!


Monday, February 6, 2012

How to Join my Free Rice Group!

Hey folks,
Well, the race is on!  Anysley has 1370 grains, I have 1300, Maxine has done 1000, and Boyo 3000.  Although Maxine and Boyo don't appear to have been registered to the group.  Boyo was most annoyed when I pointed out that the group record is not showing his stirling efforts.  He is adamant he signed in.  Ah, the issue appears to be that you have to choose the group too, for it to show under our group.

Like this.

You go to Free Rice.

You log in.

Then you click the little arrow to the right of the "Choose a Group" title on the pale green toolbar (above where you play the game, but below the Free Rice "for each answer you get right..." in dark green!).
You can then choose the group you want.  Our's is Soonarmy Freerice6.

Now, the trick that Boyo and I have discovered is that you actually have to choose that group each time you login, in order for it to record your grains under the group name.  Your grains will be recorded under your own name when you login regardless, but to be ticking over in the group, you need to "Choose Group" and physically click on "Soonarmy Freerice6" each time you play (the first time you will type it in, after that it will come up for you, but you still need to click on it or click the "Play" button beside it on the right). 

THEN when you are in the Soonarmy Freerice6 group page, you have to click on a little green thing that says "PLAY."

See here (the three green tabs on the right - the top one says "Play")?

This is what your screen should look like when you are all signed into our group:

See that pale green strip?  How on the left it shows me signed in as Soonarmy?  And on the right it shows Soonarmy Freerice 6 as my group (if I wanted to change my group, I'd click the little dark green arrow to the right of that)?  Try clicking on the picture to get a larger image.

Does that make sense?
I sure hope so!

Thank you all for your amazing Free Rice efforts!  Happy word hunting!  I hope you have fun!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Counting Down!

Only one more sleep before Free Rice Week starts!
Currently, it looks like Aynsley will be taking home the chocolate fish, no worries because she's the only person who has joined my group so far (thanks so much, Aynsley!).  But beware.  Boyo says he is in.  He's not signed up yet, but apparently the thrill of competition is calling.  He will likely try to win.  He likes to win.  Anyone else going to take him and Aynsley on?  After all, it wouldn't really be right to give the chocolate fish to myself.  I've written "Free Rice" across the top of my diary each day this week, and got reminders to flash up in my email system.  Hopefully that's enough to remind me to get online and learn some more country locations, or word uses!  We are blueberry picking on Monday morning.  By we, I mean Munchkin and Mummy.  Daddy will be sleeping.  Then we have at least three social outings planned, plus the usual work.  So I might be doing Free Rice for five minutes before and after work each morning, and before bed!  But it all helps feed hungry people, even if just a few minutes at a time.  And I suppose I could forego a movie this week, and do Free Rice instead.  It is a somewhat more valuable use of my brain and my time.  Grin.
Right, time we were off to get some groceries. I'll see you in the trenches.  Ah, the Free Rice competition!


Friday, February 3, 2012

I Love Home

I love living in New Zealand. I love being a Kiwi.
As we approach Waitangi Day and remember some of our history, I am reminded again of just how much I love this place. So many reasons, so many.

I love that I live in a country that allows me as a woman to work and study. Even in our grandparent’s generation women were frequently not permitted to do either once they were married. I am so grateful to be allowed the freedom to choose for myself, to have a family, but without having to sacrifice the other dreams God has placed in my heart. I love that I can earn.

I am grateful that I can vote. Many women fought long and hard for this right. And I’m so proud to be in the first nation to allow women’s suffrage.

Kate Sheppard on our $10 note for her work in women's suffrage.  Image from Google Images.
I love living somewhere that feels safe. Such low gun-related violence. The ability to get on with one’s neighbours.

I love that we are all so different, yet all choose to call this land home.

I love our Maori heritage. I’m not Maori, not even a teeny tiny bit. But I’m still proud to speak a smidgeon of te reo Maori and be teaching it to my son. New Zealand is the only nation on earth in which Maori is spoken. I think that’s pretty special. I’m proud of the progress we’ve made to becoming a more bi-cultural nation, to addressing some of the past wrongs, and moving forward together. We have such a long way to go, but I’m proud of the start.

I just love our national anthem. I was singing it over and over at work today, like a prayer asking for God’s favour on our land and our people. Beautiful. The words and the melody are both amazing. I think we should sing it more often. I wish we would. In Australia, they sing their national anthem before every sports event…even small regional ones. Felt a bit silly to start with, but then I really started liking how patriotic it is. This small reminder of who you are and where you are from. I love our national anthem.
NZ official flag and Maori flag on left, unofficial ones on right - from Google Images
I love our beaches. Clean, windswept, hardly ever warm! And empty. Oh, so empty. None of these wall-to-wall bodies for us Kiwis. Nope, we feel crowded if there’s someone within ten metres of our beach towel.

I love our plants. Understated. Yet sophisticated. Amazing details when you look closely. I love our birds. There’s a morepork somewhere in our neighbourhood. Every so often you hear it in the evening, with its haunting call. Then there are the tui who visit with the seasons, coming for the flax nectar down on the boardwalk.

I love the smell of the bush. And I so love that I can walk here without fear of snakes, spiders, or other nasties. Yup, New Zealand really is an amazing place to call home.

I love our culture. That we honestly think we can fix anything with a bit of number eight wire. That we do barbeques really well, and say “heaps” and “sweet as, bro.” I love calling our food “kai” and telling my baby he has a “puku nui” (big tummy!). I love that we have this amazing reputation around the world (hmm, what does our national anthem say again? “make her praises heard afar”). People love having Kiwis work for them. Our Peace Keepers are the best in the world. We excel in sporting events (especially when you consider just how small a population we have). We are generally known to be hard working, modest, friendly souls. We are also known for our generosity. I think New Zealand has held the highest personal giving per capita in the world for quite some time now.

NZ Passport - from Google Images

What more can I say? I love being a Kiwi. I love New Zealand. This is home. I’ve tried living elsewhere, but I will always love New Zealand. And I will always, always be a Kiwi.

Happy Waitangi Day, New Zealand.

God of Nations at Thy feet, In the bonds of love we meet, Hear our voices, we entreat,
God defend our free land.
Guard Pacific's triple star From the shafts of strife and war, Make her praises heard afar,
God defend New Zealand.
Men of every creed and race, Gather here before Thy face, Asking Thee to bless this place,
God defend our free land.
From dissension, envy, hate, And corruption guard our state, Make our country good and great,
God defend New Zealand.
Peace, not war, shall be our boast, But, should foes assail our coast, Make us then a mighty host,
God defend our free land.
Lord of battles in Thy might, Put our enemies to flight, Let our cause be just and right,
God defend New Zealand.
Let our love for Thee increase, May Thy blessings never cease, Give us plenty, give us peace,
God defend our free land.
From dishonour and from shame, Guard our country's spotless name, Crown her with immortal fame,
God defend New Zealand.
May our mountains ever be Freedom's ramparts on the sea, Make us faithful unto Thee,
God defend our free land.
Guide her in the nations' van, Preaching love and truth to man, Working out Thy glorious plan,
God defend New Zealand.
E Ihowā Atua, O ngā iwi mātou rā Āta whakarangona; Me aroha noa
Kia hua ko te pai; Kia tau tō atawhai; Manaakitia mai Aotearoa
Ōna mano tāngata Kiri whero, kiri mā, Iwi Māori, Pākehā, Rūpeke katoa,
Nei ka tono ko ngā hē Māu e whakaahu kē, Kia ora mārire Aotearoa
Tōna mana kia tū! Tōna kaha kia ū; Tōna rongo hei pakū Ki te ao katoa
Aua rawa ngā whawhai Ngā tutū e tata mai; Kia tupu nui ai Aotearoa
Waiho tona takiwā Ko te ao mārama; Kia whiti tōna rā Taiāwhio noa.
Ko te hae me te ngangau Meinga kia kore kau; Waiho i te rongo mau Aotearoa
Tōna pai me toitū Tika rawa, pono pū; Tōna noho, tāna tū; Iwi nō Ihowā.
Kaua mōna whakamā; Kia hau te ingoa; Kia tū hei tauira; Aotearoa
 Lyrics found here.
Image from Google Images

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Who's In?

Freerice is having a big Freerice Week!

Next week, 6-11Feb.

The challenge?

Answer as many questions as you can.
Get as many of your friends to do Freerice as possible.
Spread the word, and learn some new words. 
And in the process, provide a meal to the world's hungriest.

I am contemplating a competition.  Winner gets...ah, um...I have no idea!  Can you tell that I only thought of it tonight?!?  How about a chocolate fish?

Okay, winner gets a chocolate fish.
Play Freerice, and comment on my blog to tell us how many grains of rice you did (you can keep track yourself - be honest! - or sign into Freerice and it does it for you).  The person with the most grains at the end of the week, wins a chocolate fish.  A real one.  I will post it out to you, I promise.  Provided I have your email address of course.  Chocolate....Chocolate...Chocolate.  Are you ready to WIN?!
Visit 6 Degrees of Freerice to find out more!

I've just signed up...that means I've committed to getting at least six of you involved in Freerice week!  So who's in?

Please join my Freerice page here!


It Crowed

It crowed!

That was the text I received yesterday from my father.  I replied, "Oh."  I did not repeat the extra words that may have been going through my mind.  I have always thought this big, red bird might be a boy.  But because it seemed more feathered/older than the other New Hampshire Reds when we got it, we thought that maybe it was just a few weeks older.  Nope.  Well, it might be.  But that doesn't make any difference to the fact that we are not going to be eating any delicious, golden eggs from this chooky.

Autumn, aka Big Red, aka Fred III is a BOY!

Not a good success rate.  Enough to put people off getting chooks.  The thing is, the breeder we got them from really does know his stuff.  I think the issue was that the chookies were too young.  Would've been good to wait a few more weeks, but he didn't suggest it and I didn't know any different.  So, we are now faced with yet another trip to Ngatea to return a chicken.  We are seeing if there are friends home to visit en route.

On a more positive note, my chooks are gradually getting more tame and coming up to the door as we go to feed them.  My dad made these really cool automatic feeders using some downpiping.  Munchkin and I have been doing our duty and getting up there to feed them several times each week.  And the chooks are now down to once-a-day feeding (was twice a day when they were little - another reason to buy chicks over 12weeks old as they don't need food constantly in front of them by that age).  The garden soil where the two cages have been is looking quite impressive.  And the girls love eating any of our summer fruit that goes a bit ripe or mouldy (which we never seem to completely avoid).

I am just hanging out for eggs!


Our Crazy Busy Lives

Things have been more than a little quiet here in the SoonArmy blog lately, a sign of how busy we've been in 'real true life.'  Boyo has been working six nights a week.  Which is both a blessing and a trial.  Ever noticed that quite often answers to prayer can be their own trials?  Seems to happen fairly often.  You ask for something.  God gives it to you.  Then you wonder what on earth you were thinking!  Grin.  We asked for extra income, and here it is.  Now, I think we all secretly hope when we ask for more money that it will just magically appear in our letterbox or bank account.  But most of the time, it comes in the form of an opportunity.  One which we have to take if we want the income.  In this case, we did not find money in our letterbox.  Maybe another time.  This summer, we have to get off our couch and go to work and earn it. 
But it is a huge blessing, being able to earn it.  I think this nearly every day I work.  I remind myself to be grateful I live in a time and country where women can work (they often haven't been able to, you know) and where I am treated with such dignity and respect as a housekeeper.  So I am now reminding myself that it is a HUGE blessing that Boyo has work.  We've gone from incredible worry over our summer finances (think, thousands of dollars short of basic necessities!) to having enough to cover the basics, buy/replace some extras and give to help others.  Amazing!  Incredible! 
But also exhausting.  Let me explain:  Boyo gets home just after midnight.  He then comes to bed between 1-2am.  I have woken almost every night.  I am now getting up at 5:15am to do my early morning cleaning job (believe me, if I could do it another time, I would).  Boyo pulls his earplugs out as I leave for work, and hopes that he can just go back to sleep...if Munchkin doesn't wake up while I'm still out.  Once I get home, Munchy and I do errands and bits while we have the car.  We were at the beach at 8:20am this week.  It was beautiful.  Still and warm (unlike the last time I did that spontaneously!).  The other reason to be out and about is so Boyo can sleep in some sort of peace and quiet.  We then come home so Munchkin can spend an hour or so with his daddy before going to bed.  Boyo then heads off to work around 2pm.  I seem to be spending my time running from one thing to another, to another.  Errands.  Chooks.  Baby.  A few minutes conversation with my husband.  Washing.  Meals.  Boyo usually does the dishes, but is really not home (and awake!) enough to do much more.  So I've been making dinner in the afternoons.  Bought a crock pot.  Loving it.  Also bought a rice cooker.  Not so keen.  It seems to be crispy-frying the rice on the bottom.  Hmm.  I did set it up with our timer today so it was all ready when I got home...I can't tell you how nice it was to walk in the door from feeing the chooks and know that dinner was ready to serve.
So that's us.  One more week of madness, then Boyo has a week off.  Then he starts Polytech again.  Not that things will quieten down all that much.  But we will at least hopefully be getting better quality sleep!  You should see the list of things he is hoping to do during his 'time off.'  Dentist...Doctors...Haircut...to name just a few!