02.08.2010 - 08.08.2010 13 °C
There goes another week wooshing by us like a blokart under full sail. It was a rather mellow week by current standards, but we still generated some great memories, though not a lot of photos! Until Thursday it was really just a lot of Tim booking flights, ferry passage, and baches. Thursday was a day of celebration though, including a birthday, cultural performances, and a lot of speeches that were difficult to understand.
The normal Thursday non-routine was broken when Tim met Bronte in front of the library at Tauranga Intermediate School. From there, he expertly guided the Capella to Rotorua whilst hauling the precious cargo of Bronte, two schoolmates, and their Mandarin teacher. The final destination was Rotorua Boys High School where Bronte and seven other students from her school were participating in a Mandarin speech competition. The students in Bronte's house (Totara) take Mandarin lessons, and they had the opportunity to participate in this competition. Although the speeches were short, the diction was melodic and by the end Tim and the other non-speakers could piece together some idea of the various topics. In the end, Bronte's school mates took first and second place in the Junior category. Bronte spoke to the crowd about her brother and it was fantastic! Here's an inexpertly-shot video of the speech, as well as a photo taken moments before the big show:
The next item on the Thursday agenda was phase one of the celebration of the birth of Jenn some decades previous. We had a hurried dinner at home and then got right to the gift-giving. Jack sketched two very attractive pieces (his style is becoming more in the spirit of Degas - an evolution of sorts from his earlier Jackson Pollock phase) depicting Jenn and the family engaged in visiting exotic destinations. From Bronte Jenn received a gorge plaque with a poem Bronte had written (in perfect iambic pentameter). Here goes the poem:
Peace child, peace child
The house is safe
The danger gone.
Sleep child, sleep child
Dream happy dreams.
For tomorrow the world
Is your playground.
Remember to stay in the present
What's done is done.
Remember I love you
I love you forever more.
Not bad eh? eecummings eaTyour Hear tout
As the tradition to sing that ageless tune could not be overlooked, our niece and nephew (Laura and Blake), sent the attached gift as demonstration of their angelic origins:
We then rushed out of the house and over to Tauranga Intermediate to take in the cultural performance being staged at the school. The school hall was adorned with displays each of the classes had created as part of a country study they had been undertaking. Bronte's class was in charge of educating about Japan, and as part of the display they folded 1000 paper cranes! When the show got underway we were greeted by displays of musical prowess from several of the school rock bands, followed by a Korean Fan dance, Bollywood dances, and a fashion show featuring design creations by the school's group of young designers. It was a really great show and we left impressed!
We couldn't fit anything else into Thursday, so we moved on to Friday. It had been "Reading Week" at Jack's school all week, and on Friday the kids got a chance to dress up as a character from a story. As is our tradition, we didn't think of this until the very last minute, but pulled off a rather nice Indiana Jones. Here's Jack:
After reenacting the perils of Indiana on the way to school, Tim returned to the house and crafted a chocolate turtle cheesecake in honour of phase two of Jenn's birthday celebration. No photos of that one because we ate it too quickly. It was delish. After the school day finished, Tim Bronte and Jack set off to collect Jenn from work. As it turned out, Jenn had a pretty exciting day too. Here's a clip from the newspaper interview:
It started as a fine Friday ... At Principal's Assembly this week, we acknowledged the student who recently became the National Judo Champion in his age group. Last week it was recognizing our student who recently won the World Sailing Championships (Under 19) over in Turkey. Every week I'm amazed by the number of students who are competing at the National and International Level and placing at or near the top. And their success does transfer into the classroom - often the athletes are the stronger students since they have learned that it takes hard work and determination to succeed. They are used to practice and are driven - they like the sense of achievement and are competitive with themselves and others.
Back to Friday's historic event ... My third period class, Gr. 9, came rolling in, almost all 33 of them. The room was hot and stuffy, having had the blinds down for the 2 previous classes - no air movement - which contributes to the problem! We are working on speeches and today I was covering how to use hand gestures effectively and not to stand in the same spot. So, I used every teacher's best tool - YouTube. Had searched for motivational speakers the night before and found Aron Rolston talking about his rock climbing accident 6 years ago, during which he had to cut off his own arm. Really, he's a good speaker. However, the first clip stops at the point where he runs out of ideas, and I knew the boys would all want to hear the gory details. Apparently not all the boys. I forewarned them, really I did. Stopped it a couple of times to be sure they really wanted to hear the end. There are no images, so it's not what they see (really they see far worse on CSI!!!!), but he describes it all in a very calm detailed manner (you can view the Learning Channel clip here if you are brave enough to look). With about 3 minutes until the end of class, one student falls to the floor out of his chair as he faints. I go running, try to get the class to leave as I tend to him, and send a student to get help from the English Office, not even 5 metres away. I wonder where the help is and why the students are paused at the door. What I eventually find out is that another student fainted just outside the doorway, and the teachers thought that was who they were to be tending to. So, yes, I managed to fell two students - first time I've ever had a student faint around me in all of my teaching career, let alone two at once. Of course, I feel horrible, though my department colleagues think it's priceless and I'm sure I won't hear the end of it until I leave New Zealand. Parents have been understanding thankfully.
What a legacy!
After that episode, we whisked Jenn off to Mt. Maunganui to Dui's Restaurant of Fine Thai Cuisine, which you can see overhead here, for a proper birthday dinner. It was a truly fantastic meal. We wound up the day by returning home for cheesecake and a viewing of the show "Ninja Warrior".
Saturday brought the third and final phase of the birthday celebrations. After a couple of great Skype sessions and a phone call all from Canada, in the afternoon we piled into the Capella and manouvered our way between the raindrops to deposit Jenn and Bronte at Bay Cinema so that they could take in the movie "Boy". You likely will not have heard of this movie, but it's a huge hit here in New Zealand (you can watch the trailer here). Tim and Jack then picked up Jack's friend Ryan, and went to Baywave (this is the wave pool waterslide facility where Jack's birthday was held some months ago). After a suitable splash around, we collected Jenn and Bronte from the cinema, picked up the pizza, and returned home where The Lightning Thief was screened for Ryan, Jack, and Bronte.
Finally Sunday. We all slept in. After rising, Tim and Jenn contemplated what hike we would challenge the kids with when the phone rang with an invitation from the Dixons to hike to Waiere Falls. You might remember this hike from a couple of earlier posts. Since it's one of our favourites, we agreed and set to work packing a lunch. We struck rain as we headed over the Kaimais, and as we rounded the bend in the road at the summit, we entered a really low-lying cloud. It would have been cooler if someone else was driving and we didn't need to worry about negotiating the many curves in the road while descending down the other side of the range. After a few long minutes, we emerged into sunshine. The road down the other side and along to the trail head commands great scenery at the best of times, but particularly on this day. The clouds were raking across the top of the hills, leaving tendrils of mist that were truly breathtaking to behold. It wasn't long before we rounded a bend and the falls came into view in the distance. With the heavy rains that we've experienced over the past week the falls were in their full glory! We had a nice chat on our way up to the viewing platform where the following photo was captured:
After returning to the house in Tauranga, we all dove into school work (except Tim who sat around looking at maps of the South Island). We ended the day happy that Wipeout! has returned to TV3. So there you have another week in the life. Things are good!