Monday, April 27, 2009

Swimming, Snorkeling, Sailing

We have had a regular sort of busy week or so...

Bailey and I went to sailing for the first time in a month and Bailey did really well. Jim (the coach/rescue boat driver/gear rigger and repairer/general Jim Friday) didn't give him a chance to hesitate and they went out from the beach to the sand bar - futher than he had been before. Bailey left the beach at the same time as one of the larger cruise boats which didn't cause him concern but made his mother have kittens. He was then sailing to and from the sand bank a dozen times and doing quite well. Jim came back in to pick up a couple of parents in the rescue boat at which point Bailey forgot to tack away to return to the sand bank and kept on going. He then decided that he had better turn around now and jibed - with the result being that the boom donked him on the head and swept him overboard! Of course he had a life jacket on, and the boat didn't go far. We motored over and pulled him out - no damage done but he got a bit of a fright. We went back to the beach and that was that for the day.

Dinner at the resort with Stephen and Poppy and
agents out of the States. Enough said.
First day on the school 'bus'. The driver wanted to have them in the truck cab but the boys were quite determined to sit in the back. Hurray - one less trip to make with my dwindling fuel.

We received Bailey's correspondence school papers - all two cartons of it! WOW masses of resources for art and maths, two terms worth of booklets and CD's - about 4 hours of work per day! So we started Mummy school on Tuesday. Maths was great and a piece of cake. English was....complex - an activity booklet, spelling, handwriting, creative writing, independent reading, guided reading, shared reading........and I'm sure I have left something out. Technology - Bailey's first choice - very cool 'design your own paper bag'! PE - running and skipping (we haven't got to that yet)! Jamieson was UNIMPRESSED that his brother should get so much one-on-one attention and had the mother of all tantrums. I'm suprised he didn't put a hole in his bedroom door, where he endured a prolonged period of TIME OUT! I will need to find activities for them to do at Mummy School...
Bunked off school and went on the lagoon. We attached ourselves again to a Bishops Cruise and had a lovely time again. Bailey loves snorkeling. Lots of sun and snoozes on the way back to the island. I mean, it's not like the kids will be missing out on anything....
...except the notice that said the whole school was going snorkeling on Thursday! So typical - 2 days notice, 2 teachers in the (admittedly very shallow) water, 2 mums on their motor bikes coming to see the Papa'as wife to get togs for her 2 boys who are sitting on the beach while everyone else (50 kids) are in the water. So Sienna and I went along to the beach, 25m along from the resort, and stayed until 12 when we all went home.
Bliss - Pareau day and a full day (to 1pm) at school for Jamie.


Sailing again, and I took all 3 kids. There was a nice king tide and a
stiff breeze. Bailey, Jamie and Sienna helped the mums (no dads there) rig the boats and off they went. But Bailey did a leg off the beach and then back and was motoring along at a fair clip when he burst into tears and decided he wasn't having any of it. So he sailed back to mum on the beach and a cuddle. "It was going toooooooooooo faaaaaaaaaaaaaaassssstttt" That's ok, we'll try next week. Most of the older kids weren't there due to a series of vaka (waka/canoe) races. So it turned out that the senior crews were paddling from town to Ootu beach, where we were - some 18km. So we hung about for the crews to arrive which was very cool. There were lots of supporters there, lots of biscuits that Jamie could ask for. My island boy has NO shortage of confidence at all! So the kids swam all morning, a beach full of parents watched, and it was nice.

The rain is back for a few days. We were amazed that Sienna slept through the (more gentle) thunderstorm (although I confess to feeling quite nurvous myself and each flash). She is sleeping in the same bed and one or both of the boys and is actually sleeping through the night, which is very nice. Michael went to work of a while, preparing for our time off, and we looked in on the staff village where our house will be built. It is nice and close to the beach and there are two 2-year-olds there for Sienna to play with, so that will be nice, though the house will be much smaller. So it was an easy day - hot chips for lunch, a bit of mummy school (still a novelty) and an early night.
- today

Michael has flown to Raro, we are following this afternoon, and we will be there until Saturday on our first round of remote leave. It will be good to get off 'the rock' for a while. The kids are excited to be going on the plane, and have a 'family holiday with 5 of us'.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Easter school holidays have just finished and this week marks my 3 month anniversary on the island. Of course Sienna, Jamie and Bailey enjoyed their time off school. Jen, B, J & S had a day out on the lagoon on a Bishops Cruise with Poppy. Our good friends Annie and Teina Bishop are off the island but insisted we keep an eye on their pool and their boats. The kids had a great day snorkeling – they have become quit confident now – especially Bailey. The kids were well looked after by ‘Auntie’ Poppy who seems to be channeling Auntie Foofoo. Whenever the boys ask Mummy if they can do something – like jumping off the deck of the cruise boat, Mummy says no, so they sneak to Auntie Poppy who says yes, of course. Onboard the cruise Jen was proud to feel like a local – explaining island life including that the unique transfer option of the open sided truck was actually the school bus.

With an especially busy week at Pacific Resort holiday week wasn’t much different for me as I worked right through Easter weekend. We have been overwhelmed with families to the point where we have run out of rollaway beds!! But having 8 – 10 children and teenagers in the pool definitely it gives the resort a different feel. Remarkably we are the only one of what I consider the top properties on the island that actually welcomes families…come all our friends.

On Sunday Jen and I took the kids for a big walk along the beach around to the Marine Resource Centre. Somehow we ended up doing this in the heat of midday and it was a very slow walk home, that finished in us all walking fully clothed into the cool water of the lagoon outside our house. It was a lovely reminder of actually how beautiful the lagoon, the beach and the fish life are. Sunday night we had dinner with the editor of the Sunday Telegraph and the travel editor of Harpers Bazaar – so standby for some coverage soon.

The week before the school holidays Jenni made a short unplanned visit to Auckland for Bryce’s father’s funeral. A very sad event that gave her the chance to personally share our Shah love to Bryce, Nats and Thornton. The kids were especially excited to meet Mummy at the airport because of the promise of Easter eggs, little did we expect the excess luggage full of muesli bars, biscuits, herbs, spices and any number of missing ingredients.

Thanks to our lovely friends Stephen and Poppy, and nanny Tav we had managed to cope for the week without Jen, and me still working. The first day Jen was away had set my teeth on edge. After dropping Sienna with Poppy and the boys at school for sports day, with the agreement of their teacher to pick them up at 1.00pm I went to work. Only to receive a phone call at 11.00am from one of our other friends, Colette, who was at school with Bailey and Jamie – she was wondering if I knew sports day had just finished and school was done for the day!!! Thankfully Poppy came to the rescue.

Our eventful life on Aitutaki continues…the last few days have seen a slow moving low hang over the island creating fierce tropical downpours, which are hard to describe. Imagine the most intense rain you have ever seen then double it and imagine it for 20 minutes, followed by clear skies, every hour for 6 hours in a row. Last night was the pinnacle. We had some very intense rain, and then the lightning started. Not so bad in itself, but the gaps with the thunder got shorter and shorter. Sienna had of course already found refuge in our bed when there was THE LOUDEST BANG I have ever heard in my life in perfect unison with the brightest flash. I have no doubt that the lighting struck within metres of our house. I leapt out of bed grabbed Sienna and followed Jenni to the boys room, where they were quivering in their bed, just in time to hear/feel/see THE SECOND LOUDEST CRACK I HAVE EVER HEARD IN MY LIFE as the lighting struck again….The five of us spent the rest of the night all together in our bed, reading stories with a CD playing trying to ignore the thunder and lighting as it went passed.

Jens Bit...
I can't remember being so scared as I was last night - I'm still jumpy now. Having watched the pilot episodes of LOST! during the evening I had vague, half asleep, terrified thoughts of the 'smoke monster' trying to break in through the roof! Bailey had been talking about vandergraf machines that day and about the cracking noise the static electricity makes. So between the 2nd and 3rd assault on our ears (and nerves) he and I managed to have a semi-rational discussion about how close the lightening must be to be able to hear the crack!! I love my science boy. The lads seem quite fine and not too unnerved tonight (despite the continuing rain) but Sienna won't leave the room without one of us and I don't expect her to be in her own room for a while yet.

On the plus side, my new tomato plants like the extra water and are growing well!

The trip back to NZ was a whirl-wind. I was so glad to be there to support Bryce the rest of the Smart family. I also caught up with the Perry family (who welcomed me into their home at 6am!) and the Tuckers for dinner, plus grandparents and siblings too. It was nice to be back for Chloe's birthday as well. I have to admit that I felt a twinge as I departed the Island, watching the turquois lagoon disappear behind the plane. Flying into Auckland at 5am into the freezing cold (well it was for me) was a bit of a rude shock. I confess I had to borrow jumpers, singlets and socks from Fiona to keep me warm!

And predictably, when I got back the Island had run out of fuel. You just gotta laugh.