Lately …

Lots has been happening lately, so here’s a bit of an update!

Tyler competed in the Weet-Bix Kids Tryathlon again, which he absolutely loves. He had such a great time and was really happy with his race. It was a scorching hot day with sunshine and blue skies. Rob, Ethan and I all enjoyed watching him (and running to keep up with him around the course!) … a fabulous way to spend a Sunday.

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I turned 37 at the end of March. Although I had to work on my birthday, I was able to work from home which meant I could spend lots of time with my boys. I was also able to go out for lunch with my lovely Mum. That evening, Rob cooked a birthday dinner and my parents and sister joined us. I had a really awesome day! :-)

The boys finished school for the term a couple of days after my birthday, and are still on holiday now. We had a lovely Easter break, spending plenty of time together as a family (including some of our extended family) and of course celebrating the real meaning of Easter with our church family. On Easter Saturday we decided to explore an area our boys had never been to, South Head. I hadn’t been out that way since I was a kid. We went to Shelly Beach, where we walked, took photos, watched the birds and had hot chocolates overlooking the waterfront.

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After that, we headed further up the heads to Lake Otoroa. Neither Rob nor I had been out there before, but we had studied a map and thought it would be worth checking out one of several freshwater dune lakes in the area. It was well worth it! Beautiful scenery, and the water was lovely. We all enjoyed a swim, and there were hardly any other people around. We’ll definitely be going back there next summer! A little secret spot that not many people know about!

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We decided to spend the rest of the day at one of our favourite spots, Parakai Hot Pools. It was a lovely warm day, and the boys had heaps of fun on the slides. It was busy, as we expected it would be, but a great way to spend the afternoon.

Both Rob & I have been able to take some time off over these school holidays, which has been really nice. The boys have been enjoying a mixture of time with us, time with their mates, time with Nana & Grandad, and a holiday programme with their friends (brothers) who live a few doors down from us. It’s been working really well. I feel like I have had a *bit* of a holiday and the boys have enjoyed the variety and the quality time with each of us. Rob has Friday off to spend with they and they are planning an overnighter and canyoning out at Piha. The kind of outdoor/adventure stuff those 3 love doing together!

Until the next update … ;-)

Beachin’ it

I live on the Hibiscus Coast, a stretch of the Hauraki Gulf coast located 35km north of Auckland, NZ’s largest city. The Hibiscus Coast runs north from the Whangaparaoa Peninsula through Orewa to Waiwera. The area is home to many beaches, and is known to be a number of degrees warmer than the city because of the narrow land mass surrounded by plenty of water.

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This summer, my sister Leah and I decided that we would swim at every beach on the Hibiscus Coast (there are 15 in total). Although we have both lived here all our lives, we found that we usually stuck with our local/favourite beaches. There were some beaches we hadn’t swum at for years … or ever! So in an attempt to fully enjoy and capture the beauty of where we live, we set ourselves this challenge. It was heaps of fun, and we both discovered new favourites. I think we both have a renewed appreciation for the amazing place we live. We are so, so lucky that this is our playground!

Here are some photo collages I made of our adventures … enjoy! :-)

Starting in the north:

Wenderholm

Wenderholm is one of the most beautiful regional parks in the area. Located between Puhoi and Waiwera Rivers, the park’s headland enjoys picturesque views at every turn. A quiet sandy beach has commanding views of the Hauraki Gulf while the Pohutukawa trees overlooking the beach provide welcome shade during the hotter months.

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Waiwera

The name Waiwera is of Māori origin and means “Hot Water”. Its main claim to fame is the hot water springs. Waiwera is a sandy beach located at the mouth of the Waiwera River.

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Hatfields Beach

Hatfields Beach is a small beach north of Orewa. It offers a short stretch of soft white sand and safe swimming for the kids. Take a stroll around the cliffs at low tide. The beach is great for water sports. The boat ramp can be used to launch the boat in any tide, and kayakers will enjoy exploring the coastline.

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Orewa

Orewa is famous for its beautiful beach – three kilometres of golden sand for all to enjoy. Orewa Beach is the gateway to the Hibiscus Coast and one of north Auckland’s most popular beaches.

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Heading out along the Peninsula, down the northern side …

Red Beach

Red Beach features smooth, fine sand and some great views, making it a nice beach for a walk alongside the amazing naturally-formed rock steps and huge gnarled trees.

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Stanmore Bay

Stanmore Bay (Leah’s local and the beach we grew up at as kids) is a very safe two kilometre long swimming beach with a ski lane, boat ramps, a large playground, soccer fields and picnic areas, with plenty of shade.

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Swann Beach

Swann Beach is a small cove situated between Stanmore Bay and Big Manly. It is less well known than the other beaches, and is frequented mostly by locals.

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Big Manly

Big Manly beach (my local) is approximately one kilometre from end to end and is very sheltered from all winds except for strong north easterlies. No matter what the tide the beach is sandy all the to the water’s edge with very few rocks or obstacles. The beach has great facilities including a large car park area, children’s playground, changing & toilet facilities and more. There’s also a sailing school directly opposite the main boat ramp.

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Tindalls

Tindalls Bay is one of the lesser known beaches on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula. A beautiful sandy beach with very sheltered calm waters in most conditions this is another family favourite for locals and people in the know.

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Army Bay

Army Bay has a beautiful sandy beach that gives some amazing views over the Hauraki Gulf. The beach area is very sheltered from any southerly winds, and the large step retaining wall that separates the car park and changing room areas from the beach gives great protection against the wind.

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This is the end of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula (there are other beaches on private defence force land), so we head back along the Peninsula, down the south side:

Te Haruhi Bay

Te Haruhi Bay is one of the larger beaches on the Peninsula and has stunning views from both the water’s edge and all of the many walking tracks within easy reach. The bay is located in one of Auckland’s leading wildlife sanctuaries, Shakespear Regional Park. The park has facilities that allow people to hire large entertaining areas with BBQs and sun shade.

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Okoromai Bay

Part of Shakespear Regional Park, at high tide Okoromai Bay is a safe paddling beach for young children as the water never gets that deep. The bay is a favourite for cocklers as the shallow sand beds can reveal hundreds if not thousands of these little delicacies at low tide.

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Matakatia

Matakatia Bay is one of the quieter beaches on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, set back from the main road. The water here is very shallow and at low tide you can walk a significant way out before even getting in to waist high water. This shallow water makes it a safe paddling beach for young children.

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Little Manly

Little Manly beach is the smallest beach on the Peninsula and just past the halfway point on Whangaparaoa Road. The beach is approximately 100 metres from end to end and sheltered from northerly winds by a large step retaining wall. The waters here are very sheltered from any northerly winds and direct easterly and westerly wind. This makes for calm waters that are ideal for swimming and kayaking.

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Arkles Bay

Arkles Bay is a south west facing bay on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula. This quiet bay faces Rangitoto in the southeast, and Long Bay (Marine Reserve) directly south. Arkles Bay is popular for watersports enthusiasts of all types, from yachties and kayakers to swimmers.

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Kiwi Kids Try!

Yesterday Tyler participated in the Weet-Bix Kids Tryathlon for the second year. He LOVED it last year, so there was no question that he would do it again this year (and every year to come). It’s an amazing event, so well organised and brilliantly run. The venue (Narrow Neck) is spectacular, and the weather yesterday was just perfect! The event was sold out, with 2300 kids taking part. It’s just a really fun, happy event with lots of smiling kids and excited parents.

Tyler had a fantastic time, and so did his supporters (Rob, myself and Ethan). Great way to spend a Sunday! He did so well and was really chuffed with his time (just under 20 minutes I think). Here are a few photos from the day:

Waiting patiently in the pre-swim tent with all the other 10-year-old boys (first age group to race):

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They release the kids in groups of 10 or so, to avoid congestion. Here’s Tyler’s group waiting on the beach to start their race!

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And they’re off!

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Tyler was in 2nd place around the first buoy:

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After finishing 2nd/3rd in his group for the 100m swim, Tyler heads up the ‘blue carpet’ to the transition area, to get on his bike:

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Almost finished the 4km bike leg (his favourite leg). Tyler is to the right of the closest marshall:

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He completed the 1.5km run so fast that we didn’t get from the bike viewing area to the finishing arch in time to see him come through. When we got there, he had already been given his medal and was having a well-earned drink of water.

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Getting his official photo taken!

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Official photos will come soon. Judging by the quality of last year’s pics, they should be awesome!

Lest we forget …

Tyler’s class is doing quite a lot of work on WWI and WWII, in the lead up to the Anzac Day Centennary next month. Over the weekend, Tyler had to learn the poem “Flanders Fields” by heart. He was the only one in his class who was able to recite it without any help from the teacher (and only 3 others had bothered to learn any of it). I thought it was really important for him to do it, even though we were away at our church camp for the weekend. He just took a copy in his pillowcase and practised it over and over in the car on the way there and back!

Tyler’s teacher asked everyone in the class to collect photos and information of family members or family friends who have taken part in any war, in any capacity. They are for a remembrance project at school (they will only be using photocopies, not original photos). Tyler had the choice of 3 great grandfathers who each served NZ in WWI (my Grandad and Grandpa) and WWII (Rob’s Grandad). He chose my Grandpa (my Mum’s Dad) as we had a few photos of him in his army uniform.

My Grandpa, Arthur Arnold Best, was a Corporal in the 13th Reinforcements. He fought in WWI and even sustained a war wound (a bullet in his leg). My Mum still has his prayer book that he used on the troopship “Willochra” between 31st May and 26th July 1916. There are photos of his battalion on Anzac Day 1919, at a reunion in Dannevirke. At least two of the men sitting in the front row had lost their legs in the war.

My Grandad, Alfred Stanley Jacobsen, had his name drawn by ballot in July 1917. He had joined the army but refused to take the oath to bear arms. He worked as a Medical Officer instead. I have excerpts from his diaries that he wrote in 1918. There are entries while he was on the ship to Great Britain, a 2-month journey, and after he arrived and worked in the hospital looking after injured soldiers.

I’m feeling very grateful for the legacy left by my grandfathers. They both served their country in different ways, and I feel very proud of them. They are true heroes.

Anzac Day this year will be very special, as it is the Centennary celebration. As a family, we will definitely be attending a parade or dawn service. I know Tyler wants to, and he will have very different thoughts after learning so much more about how his great grandfathers served their country. One of Tyler’s great great uncles died in the war, and he knows how much of a sacrifice some families had to make when their loved ones never returned home. We were the lucky ones; ours did come home.

Swim Star!

I know, it has been a MONTH since my last post. But does anybody read blogs these days? I can honestly say I read very few of them now :-( So I don’t expect many people are reading this one! Perhaps the end is nigh …

ANYWAY. I have to brag about my boy because he is AWESOME. Tyler had swimming sports this week, and he totally smashed it!

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He did pretty well in swimming sports last year, coming 1st, 2nd or 3rd in all his races. He went to interschools for backstroke, where he came 4th in his final. This year, I was expecting similar results. There is one boy in particular who always seems to beat Tyler when it comes to swimming, athletics, etc. He’s always just that bit faster/better than him, so Tyler and I (and everyone else, to be honest!) were expecting this guy to edge Tyler out. Tyler just wanted to do his best and if he placed or got through to interschools, it would be a bonus.

Well. He won his freestyle and backstroke heats, and came 3rd in breaststroke (not his strongest event).

AND THEN.

He won his freestyle and backstroke finals!! He looked so shocked when he was given the first place rod for freestyle, as he was so sure this other boy was going to beat him. Tyler’s teacher, friends and classmates went crazy with their yelling and cheering! I wasn’t quite as surprised about him winning backstroke, as it is his best event. But to win both was just so cool. He was so surprised, happy and humble about it.

He’ll be off to interschools again in a couple of weeks’ time. Not bad for a kid who doesn’t swim in a squad or do ANY proper swim training! I keep saying (to both my boys, actually) that they could probably do very well in swimming if they decided to join a swim squad and train regularly. The kids they are beating are ones who get up early in the morning to train, and do lots of competitions. I guess you have to really love it, and really want it. My boys are too obsessed with soccer I think to have time for swimming practice! That’s all good, I just want them to be happy. :-)

Proud mama, signing off.

Crunchy Noodle Salad

You guys. I didn’t know that in some places (America, and probably others) people made salads and other stuff with instant (2-minute)(Ramen) noodles. As in, they can be used in other ways besides the packet instructions. WHO KNEW? I thought they were just for poor Uni students, hungry teenagers, young guys who have gone flatting and don’t know how to cook, and for taking camping. Having said that, Rob and Tyler do like eating 2-minute noodles for lunch on the weekends. I don’t really eat them now, but I ate my fair share of them as a teenager.

Anyway. It turns out they can be used in salads, so I made up my own version using several different recipes I found on the web. Served it up for dinner the other night and got rave reviews from everyone. This is really, really yummy! Try it; I know you’ll all agree.

Crunchy Asian Noodle Salad

2 packets instant (Ramen) noodles, crushed
1/2 cup slivered almonds
2T sesame seeds
1T chopped peanuts
4-6 cups finely sliced vegetables (I used green and red cabbage, celery, red onion, capsicum and carrot)

Dressing
1 flavour sachet from the noodles (I used chicken)
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 tsp sesame or peanut oil
2 tsp soy sauce
2T sugar
2T apple cider vinegar
pinch salt
cracked black pepper

Spread noodles, almonds, sesame seeds and nuts on an oven tray. Bake at 220C for 8 minutes, then cool.
Place vegetables and noodle mixture in a large bowl. Mix dressing ingredients together, then pour over the top and toss to combine.
Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

First and last

Is it just me, or did the summer school holidays in NZ go really, really quickly?! It feels like those 6+ weeks really flew by (and my boys agree).

This coming school year can be described as a “first” (for Ethan) and a “last” (for Tyler). Ethan’s first year of high school (Year 9) and Tyler’s last year of primary school (Year 6).

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For Ethan, going into Year 9 is not as much of a huge step as it is for some kids, as he didn’t have to change schools. His school starts at Year 7, so he has done his intermediate schooling at the same place as he will complete his high school education. But Year 9 is pretty different from intermediate, so it’s still a big change for him. He started back last Wednesday. I was allowed to take a photo that morning, but I wasn’t allowed to post it on Facebook or Instagram. I’m sure he will be okay with me posting it on my blog though. :-)

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So far he seems pretty happy about how the new year is going. He didn’t have any of his good friends from the last 2 years in his form (home) class, but there are some boys who he knows and I think he’ll become closer friends with them over the year. He has a nice group of friends that he will be able to hang out with before school, morning tea and lunch (as well as weekends and holidays, of course). They are a pretty close bunch and I don’t think being in different classes will have any impact on their friendship.

He has chosen Music, French, Sports Institute and Visual Design & Communication for his options this year. No doubt he’ll play water polo for the school again, and I am hoping he might join one of the bands. I really hope he will have a great year and enjoy his learning!

LAST

Tyler is in his last year of primary school (I know, I can’t believe it myself). He was pretty excited about going back yesterday. It was the first year I had not been there in the morning for the ‘first day of school’ photos, but I texted Rob and asked him to take some. He did a great job!

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Tyler likes his new teacher, who is into sport/PE (always a bonus for my boys!), and he has several good friends in his class. It will take a few days to settle into a routine, but he loves school and I know he will really enjoy this year. He’s already been chosen to be the PE monitor, and was one of the first to receive a reward (lolly) from the teacher. I think she’s already seen his leadership capabilities … she sat down quietly next to him yesterday to get his opinion on who the troublemakers might be in the class, and who shouldn’t sit next to who! He said he was a bit surprised (but I think secretly quite chuffed) that she asked him those questions. He’s a good person to ask!

He will no doubt participate fully in every ‘extra’ sport he can this year, from zone days to swimming to athletics … I am sure he will give 100% to all of it and have a successful year. He is a bit worried that Year 6 will be ‘hard’ academically, but I know he’ll be fine.

I’m looking forward to seeing what the year holds for both my boys. It will be challenging for each of them, in different ways. But I’m sure it will also be rewarding and enjoyable!

A new year

Welcome to Twenty Fifteen (19 days ago, I know, but better late than never). 2015. That’s a bit freaky. This year – FINALLY! – is the “Back to the Future” year, where we will have hoverboards and flying cars and clothes that automatically adjust to fit. Can’t wait. Haha! :-P

I’m excited about the start of a new year. I don’t really make resolutions anymore – been there, done that – but I do like to see it as a chance to start afresh. Just FYI, the last big (belated) resolution I made was in 2012. It was about washing the dishes immediately after dinner each night. I wrote about it here. You’ll be pleased to know that I have pretty much kept that up for the past 3 years. There have probably only been 2 or 3 occasions where the dishes haven’t been done straight after dinner. I’m confident that it’s now a firm habit that won’t be broken … and I can also say that I don’t even mind doing the dishes! Our dishwasher broke about a year after I made that resolution and we took it one step further by deciding not to fix or replace it. So there are more dishes to wash than before, but they still get done each night without fail. :-)

Last year was a bit up and down for me personally and for others close to me, but one of the things I enjoyed doing throughout the year was putting notes in our blessings jar (I posted about that here). During the year – not every day, just whenever – we wrote down little (or big) things that we were thankful for.

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On New Year’s Eve, we opened the jar and read through all the blessings inside. There were a LOT! Mum & Dad also had a jar, and my sister had one too (Mum made them for all of us). So we got together at my parents’ place on NYE for a BBQ and then we opened our jars and had turns reading the blessings out loud. It was so nice!

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Some of the things we had forgotten about, so it was really good to be reminded of them again. The exercise brought back lots of great memories, and some funny stories were told. There were lots of laughs, and a few tears. Dad only wrote ONE blessing for the whole year! We gave him a hard time about that, but saved his one until the end. It was a really long (typed!) one and boy was it a tear-jerker. It totally made up for not putting any others in! The boys wrote heaps of blessings, and they were very special to read. I was very touched by some of the things they wrote about. They said they were thankful for their family, friends, holidays, being able to play sports, animals, beaches, having everything they need, living in a beautiful place, etc.

We’re carrying on with the blessings jar again this year, because why wouldn’t we? It was a completely positive experience and one that helped us to a) be more consciously thankful every day and b) spend time looking back and appreciating all the good things. Despite the hard/sad/bad stuff that happened during the year, we ended the year focusing only on the good stuff. Some of which came out of the hard/sad/bad stuff … there are always lessons we can learn, there’s always a silver lining.

I’ve kept all the notes from our 2014 blessings jar and I intend to keep them every year. One day, when Rob & I are old and wrinkly and grey, we’ll be able to sit down and re-read them … what an awesome experience that will be!

So bring it on, 2015. I’m ready to appreciate and be thankful for all you have to offer!

Christmas 2014

Oh dear, I can’t believe it’s January 5th and I’m only just writing a Christmas post! This little blog of mine isn’t getting much love of late, and I’m afraid it will be a case of “more of the same” this year. I just don’t seem to have a) time b) motivation or c) reason to blog these days. I do most of my ‘documenting’ on FB/Instagram. My boys are at ages where they don’t really want me to write about every little thing they do/say … so I think it’s going to be a slow year for blairsboys.wordpress.com. I hope you’ll still stick around though, as I *will* write from time to time. I promise!

We had a wonderful Christmas, spent celebrating Jesus’ birthday and spending time with our awesome families. I finished work on December 19th and thoroughly enjoyed having 5 days before Christmas to potter around home, bake, prepare, cook, shop, wrap, DIY, sort, read, relax, swim, and just hang out with my boys (and their friends, most of the time!) … it was just lovely.

Christmas Eve was a beautiful day so we were able to continue our long-standing Blair family tradition of having fish & chips for dinner at the beach. I took the opportunity to take some photos while we were there, before we headed to the Christmas Eve service at our church. After that, my sister and I watched “Home Alone” as we do every year. This year, Ethan was allowed to stay up and watch it with us.

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Christmas Day itself was at our place, with my parents and sister. It was so nice and relaxing. Every year, the first thing we do is read the Christmas story from the bible. Tyler woke us at 7am and his first words were, “shall we read the Christmas story from Matthew or Luke?” Love that kid! I made French Toast for breakfast and then we opened presents. We ate our Christmas lunch around 1pm, went for a walk through the park in the afternoon and then came back home to watch a movie and eat ham sammies!

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A couple of days later, we had another big Christmas with Rob’s family in Whangarei. There’s a big crowd of us now, over 20 in total. Our get-togethers are always fun, and loud! I was able to get a few shots of all the cousins … there are 11, plus a step-cousin visiting from Australia. Here’s the best one!

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We stayed a few days up north at Rob’s younger brother’s place (plus his wife and 3 kids). They live on an avocado orchard and have lots of bush on their property, so Tyler and his cousin Brock (nearly 9) were off in the ‘forest’ most of the time, adventuring and making huts and shooting stuff with their slingshots and having an absolute ball!

To all my readers — from my family to yours — I hope you all had a great Christmas too. I hope you enjoyed celebrating and spending time with family and friends. For my Northern Hemisphere friends, I hope you’re keeping warm! And for my “Down Under” friends, I hope you have been enjoying our glorious summer!

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Reporting back

Well, it’s time for the annual blog post where I gush about how proud I am of my boys, what they have achieved during the year and their awesome end of year reports. Sorry(notsorry) if you’re uninterested, but this is where I document that stuff in case our house burns down and I lose the photos, certificates and school reports!

ETHAN … 12 1/2 years old

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Ethan has had a great year in Year 8, his last year of intermediate. The school he goes to is a combined intermediate/college which goes from Year 7 to Year 13, so he won’t have to start a new school next year. However, things will definitely be different for him. He has chosen his options (Music, French, Sports Institute and Visual Design & Communication, oh my!) and he will have different teachers for all his subjects. I think he’s looking forward to it. I’m hoping he’ll enjoy the variety and be able to cope with the increased demands. Only 3 more years until NCEA, wow!

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One of the highlights of Ethan’s year was competing at the AIMS Games in Tauranga. He was away for a whole week with his water polo team, along with the top Year 7/8 netball and rugby league teams. The kids had an awesome time and it was a really incredible experience for them.

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In addition to water polo, throughout the year Ethan has also played soccer (both winter and summer), volleyball, badminton, tag rugby and athletics. He continues to have fortnightly drum lessons (I can’t believe he’s now in his 6th year of lessons). He doesn’t do enough practice, but he enjoys drumming and he gets the opportunity to play regularly in our church band.

He ended the year on a really high note, receiving the Most Valuable Player award for his water polo team. I wasn’t expecting him to get this award, so it was a really nice surprise to hear his name called out at the prizegiving (which was, fittingly, at the beach). He’s done a great job as team captain this year, which has required him to step up and have more responsibility, but he has done it with integrity and commitment. It’s great to see that acknowledged and rewarded, as so often the MVP award just goes to the ‘star player’ who doesn’t necessarily have that team spirit, commitment, respect, etc. I’m really proud of Ethan and his attitude towards ALL his sports. He works hard but doesn’t hog the limelight, and encourages everyone in the team. Being chosen as captain this year has helped him to grow in confidence and to work on his leadership skills, which will help him in the future I’m sure!

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Ethan came home with a fantastic school report, as per usual. He is ‘above’ or ‘at’ National Standards for everything, and achieved all his assessments, most of them with Merit or Excellence. The comments from his teacher were also really pleasing:

Ethan has consistently made good choices for his learning his year. He has shown remarkable progress in mathematics by moving up 4 sub-levels. Ethan is a conscientious and able learner who has applied himself fully in all curriculum areas.”

TYLER … 10 years old

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Tyler has just finished Year 5, so next year will be his final year at Primary school. He’s had a fantastic year. This year he had Ethan’s all-time favourite teacher, Mrs O’Brien. Tyler can now also attest to how great she is! He has worked really hard all year, putting 100% into his school work, extra-curricular activities, sports, etc.

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He won the T-shirt design competition for the Year 5 production “What a Knight”, and his design was printed onto T-shirts for the entire syndicate. A very cool achievement to have his design chosen out of 120+ designs, and the T-shirt is an awesome memento for him to keep! Tyler also loved performing in the production itself, scoring one of the secondary speaking roles and relishing the whole experience. He learned his lines (and everyone else’s!) within a few days, and really got into the acting, singing and performing. The show was very entertaining; the kids (and teachers) did an impressive job.

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Tyler played several sports this year, including soccer (summer and winter), tag rugby, rippa rugby, athletics and triathlon. He did very well at his school swimming sports, and competed at the Interschools, coming 4th in his final for backstroke. He also did really well in cross-country this year, placing 6th which is the best result he has ever had (much better than last year where he had been sick for 3 days and didn’t finish the race because he couldn’t breathe, let alone run). The little 5-a-side summer soccer team he was in, The Flame, had a great season and we enjoyed watching them play every Monday.

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Tyler competed in the inaugural Whangaparaoa Triathlon in November, and although he didn’t get a placing due to crashing off his bike (he got back up and completed the race, coming 8th in his age group) he had a great time and won a double pass to Rainbows End! He’ll be doing the Weetbix Tryathlon again over summer which he really enjoyed last year.

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We were very proud when Tyler received the “Citizenship” award for his class at the Senior Prizegiving. A very special award that really does sum up the effort and hard work he has put into this year. I’ve always been quite amazed to hear, every year, how focused and disciplined he is at school … because let’s face it, he’s not always like that at home!! But he did deserve the award, and I know it will be an incentive for him to continue trying really hard next year. He really wants to get one of the Year 6 cups!

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Like Ethan, Tyler came home with yet another excellent school report. He is ‘at’ or ‘above’ National Standards in everything, received straight A’s for effort and a bunch of fantastic comments about his work. The lovely general comment from his teacher really made me tear up!

Tyler has made steady progress in all areas of the curriculum and has maintained a high level of commitment to all his work this year. He displays a positive attitude towards his learning and is always wanting to achieve his best. Tyler is a diligent, motivated student who consistently strives to produce work to a high standard. He enjoys new challenges and is able to take the leadership role in class activities. Tyler is a cheerful, friendly student who has a good sense of humour and makes and maintains friends easily. He has been a pleasure to teach and I wish him all the best for next year.”

Proud mama! Rob and I took them out for dinner on Tuesday night to celebrate their great reports and achievements throughout the year. They have both worked hard and we thought they deserved a reward! My friend commented on the “halo” above Tyler’s head. My response? “Very ironic”. Haha!

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The end of last year was difficult for our family, with me being made redundant and all the uncertainty that followed until I got my new job (which I then had to wait 6 months to start). The changes that came along with that job were challenging at first, but the boys have coped brilliantly with it all … it’s been me who has struggled the most! They enjoy having more time with Rob, who finishes by 3pm three days a week, and I’ve been impressed at how they have supported and encouraged me. I miss working from home and not being with them as much as I used to be. But the time we do have together is really special. I think we’ve actually benefited from the adjustments as we make more of a conscious effort to spend quality time together. In spite of the upheaval and the new routines, both boys continued to be focused on their school work, sport and other activities … and have thrived!

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I’m excited about what 2015 will bring for each of them. New challenges and opportunities, and lots of growing and learning. I’m sure it will be a fantastic year, and it will fly by as quickly as ever. I’ll be writing another one of these posts before I know it!