December has been consumed by shifting house, the Pacific Resort staff party, Onu & Menema's wedding, two new family members, a vaka blessing and of course Christmas.
Our New Abode: The first week of December was consumed by shifting house. Our new place (which has been pending for quite some time) is next to the resort with the other expat staff. It has been totally rebuilt and has such extreme luxuries as aircon, extractor fans, light and an ensuite! Really, it is heaven (if heaven comes surrounded by boxes). We are on a hillside, with views of the sea and sunset, and the kids are already spending much more time outside exploring (without mossies for company). Of course any new house requires a housewarming, and we were delighted to at last host a Shah Party and give the deck a good workout!
The Staff Party: Well... this one will be talked about for a while. The theme was a "T-Party" and Michael and I dressed as Tinkerbelles – the photo tells the tale. It was a big giggle with all the departments putting on dance items, some straight up, but with the grounds & maintenance boys in drag. Despite smashing my toe on the couch that morning (and turning it a rather lurid shade of crimson and purple) we danced and danced and danced. My island dancing has improved so much that the island mamas and aunties are giving out compliments! I have to say that I really enjoy it (and could easily be pressed to perform a dance item of our own next year!).
Miaow: I made the children Christmas stockings out of pareau fabrics this year and required Poppy's sewing machine to complete them. So we journeyed up Piraki to the house and returned with a sewing machine and two kittens!!! Fabulous Freddie and Gorgeous Georgie are about four weeks old and were abandoned in the bush (not uncommon here). They are lovely boys, eating everything they can get their hands on, fighting like brothers (which confuses the set of brothers in my house - I'm not sure why) and climbing the fly-screens. So along with Goatee I now have six children to feed and clean up after! The kids are quite delighted.
Merry Christmas: Well Ho Ho Ho. This was my first Christmas away from the family... ever, and with reports of my Grandma being admitted to hospital, quite an emotional one. Of course, with the International Date Line we ended up with two Christmas days - one in NZ to get emotional about, and one in Aitutaki to get hot, sweaty about. The kids were very spoilt with gifts and ran around like wild people all day!
We attended church at Margaret's family church, with her father the minister and only her family in attendance - it was a bit like a private chapel. Thankfully we sang Mary's Boy Child, in the Boney-M key and were away. Despite the heat, we enjoyed a roast lunch on the deck with Pork (best crackling ever!), chicken, potatoes (rare) and pumpkin from our old garden. We were joined by some of Michael's expat staff, Tony, Wendy & Chido. After that we seemed to accumulate people by the hour and everyone seemed to have a good time. Poppy & Stephen arrived with a special surprise of raw tuna as they had caught a 50kg Big Eye and a 40kg Yellow Fin that morning. Yummo!!
Oe Vaka: Michael has been paddling with the Happy Feet Masters rugby team for 5 months now, and while it was a useful training exercise, they are a fully fledged Vaka team now (waka/outrigger canoe). Some new vakas have been purchased and the masters team were offered the privilege of having the first paddle. So on boxing day the vakas were blessed by a minister, a nu ( drinking coconut) was cracked over the bow and the masters went for a paddle. I'm told it is a fast vaka!