Monday, December 26, 2011

Thankful Christmas!

Merry Christmas Everyone. I hope you had an awesome day yesterday.

I am thankful that the ground was able to keep reasonably quiet yesterday. To have more significant earthquakes on Friday 23rd was unexpected. It was a setback that Christchurch didn't need so close to Christmas. Briana spent the entire afternoon under the table and almost screaming with each subsequent shock. During the 6.0 at 3.19pm I could hear glass smashing. Matt was in the shower - I had told him to be quick but he had only been in the shower two minutes and it ended up being a shaky one!

I am thankful that we didn't lose power or water and I decided to cook dinner and the Christmas Lamb early "just in case".

My heart went out to those in the Eastern Suburbs who had lost power and were yet again facing cleaning up the sand and water in their streets due to liquefaction. Again the resilient residents of Christchurch went out with their shovels and started the clean up. I think we are all wondering if this is ever going to end.

I am thankful that no-one died in this latest round of seismic activity. I hope any injuries are healing quickly. Even as I write this on Boxing Day I am interrupted by the ground moving. We had disruption last year on Boxing Day that changed a relaxing "chill out day" into one of anxiety. I hope that Christchurch people were able to enjoy Christmas regardless of what was going on around them.

I am thankful that we were able to enjoy Christmas Day in our own home this year with our family around us. The children had a wonderful day. Father Christmas answered specific requests and Josh seemed happy with the kitten toy and not disappointed that it wasn't a real one (phew). Briana was able to relax and seemed to not notice the small ripples moving through the house throughout the day. The older Children appeared to be really content with their gifts and the feeling of the contentment in the house was obvious.

I am thankful that Glenn and I both have employment and that Christmas wasn't a financial burden. I was privileged to be involved this last week with Rebuild Christchurch Foundation's Project Christmas. During the week we shopped, packed and delivered Christmas Boxes full of food and presents to people facing financial hardship due to the quakes. I met some amazing people for whom the earthquakes have had significant impact. People who have lost jobs, their homes, one person who lost a limb in the February quake and one amazing family who lost a family member on February 22nd.

This family had a significant impact on me. I thought when I delivered their gift that there might be tears but I didn't realise that they would be my own. You can see on their faces that life has been especially hard. As well as losing their loved family member, there have also been huge health issues to overcome the last 15 months -as well as dealing with the continuing earthquakes and repairing damage to their home. I had to pull over out on the street afterwards to have a big cry. It brought home to me how it could have been our family facing our first Christmas without a member of our own.

I am thankful that my niece Holly was able to fly down to Christchurch to be with us all for Christmas. This is what happened to the building she was in when the 6.3 earthquake struck on February 22nd.

How did she survive? A miracle perhaps? Two heroes rushed over to pull her out of the basement, that somehow opened up to give her a small amount of room to fall into, with the rubble from above. Holly rang her Father, my brother Simon, after being pulled out to say she was okay and could he come and pick her up. Not realising the damage in town, Simon told her to secure the building and he was on his way. Holly turned to look at the pile of rubble above and said to Simon that she couldn't secure it any more than it already was! Our own little miracle! And I am thankful everyday! My thoughts and prayers have been with the families of 181 who died and those who were injured on that day over this Christmas time.

I am thankful that I have the chance to be able to give something back to our city through Affordable Sections and Rebuild Christchurch. I have much to be thankful for and I'm looking forward to spending Boxing Day relaxing with my family.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Happy Birthday Tom - Halfway to Fifty!

Just as an aside my "little" nephew Tom is 25 today. Born just after I turned 20. Such an adorable baby!
Hope you've had an awesome day Tom and enjoy being Halfway to Fifty :)

Giving Back and Rebuilding our City :)

Boy it is hard to find the time to blog. It's all up here in my head but it's been so busy the last couple of weeks that I haven't had time to sit down and write. But here I am and here are the words :)
I talked in an earlier blog about being involved in a couple of really exciting projects. One I have been able to be there at the launch and see it take wings and with the other I've come on board part way through but still very exciting!

It's been a year of change! The face of our city has changed and many of us have had to change jobs. I'm underway in a Postgraduate Diploma in Education. I've got my awesome job one day a week at Livingstone Business Consultants and I've been working part-time in a school with a beautiful young girl called Maia. She is 6 years old and has Cerebral Palsy. Maia has taught me so much about non-verbal communication and about not giving up when you think it's all getting a bit tough. It takes Maia 10 times as long to do the simplest task and if she really wants something she perseveres until she gets there. You're amazing Maia and I'm looking forward to seeing you next year.

In my spare time though I have the privilege of volunteering with two organisations committed to making a difference in the Rebuild of Christchurch. The first is simply that "Rebuild Christchurch Foundation". An amazing young man called Deon Swiggs launched this website a few days after the September 4, 2010 Earthquake, as a central place to be able to get all the information you needed to cope and move ahead after the event. It has continued to grow providing an incredible service after the February 22nd earthquake and all the after shocks. Out of the company, the Charitable arm of the organisation has emerged and I have been lucky to be included as a part of the Rebuild Christchurch Foundation. Last week we launched "Project Christmas" to provide those who are struggling financially because of the Earthquakes, with a bit of Christmas Joy. Check us out at and if you know a family who is facing a bleak Christmas then nominate them here or you can make a donation. This week we get to go shopping and buy heaps of toys and Christmas goodies and deliver them to people who otherwise will not be able to afford to celebrate Christmas this year. How lucky am I??

The other organisation I have been volunteering for is Canterbury Affordable Sections. This is the brainchild of my brother Simon who has been working with Glenn to be able to provide sections for those in the Red Zone of Christchurch who do not have enough value in their existing property to be able to buy a new section to rebuild their houses. More Rebuilding of Christchurch! There's a common theme here :)
You can check out our website I came on board as the Trust was about to be launched and I got to set up the website. We're sticking with the affordable theme and haven't spent a lot on the website. Like Rebuild Christchurch, everyone who is associated with this initiative is a volunteer. Good people donating their time to be able to help those to whom nature has dealt a cruel blow.

I've loved some of the jobs I've had in the past but I don't think I have ever been as fulfilled in my work as I feel right now. I love this city that I grew up in and it's feels good to be able to give a little back as Christchurch takes small steps towards recovery.

I've seen comments coming in to both organisations of how grateful people are that someone is looking out for them. That someone is trying to make their lives a little easier and providing solutions to tremendous problems.

I am loving working alongside these inspirational people who have tremendous vision. I am loving being halfway to ninety and being in the right place to see all the opportunities that have come my way recently. Because of the changes this year, I've been able to grab these opportunities with both hands and hit the ground running. It's going to be exciting to see how these two organisations grow and continue to help this amazing city get back on it's feet. I wonder what 2012 is going to bring?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

An Apple a Day!

Wow - It's been quite a week of bring me up to speed in a technological way. I've resisted getting a smart phone. I kept telling myself, and the world, that I didn't really need one. And then finally we decided to get me a smart phone for my birthday and I spent a month trying to decide which one. You can't rush these things!

So two weeks ago I decided to buy an iPhone and ordered it to arrive in time for my birthday. How exciting! At last I was going be up with the times. And the very next day I received an email to say I had won a competition and they were going to be sending me an iPad2! Wow and Double Wow! Entering competitions has long been a hobby of mine. I won a bathroom once!!

Not only was I catching up with technology but technology was catching up with me. So in the last week I have been learning how to use my new phone - although had used Glenn's many times - and now I'm wondering how I lived without it??? Why did I wait so long? The iPad2 arrived on Wednesday so I left it charging while I went to work and later on Wednesday I started to play around it with too. Added some fun apps that the kids like to play and put some of my favourite music on it.

So in one week I have gone from a novice to an expert in smart technology (well on the way anyway!).

It certainly has been an Apple theme in the last week - including The Beatles on Abbey Road (Apple Label).
Think I might go and make some Apple Muffins :)

And the most fun thing this week has been playing with the Photo Booth App on the iPad2. You can take a photo of yourself with various wacky effects. We took pictures of each other trying out the eight different effects with hilarious results. Some of the photos are truly out there! I've had to delete them in case they end up somewhere like Facebook!

I ended up laughing so hard that I cried. Tears of pure joy! And that hasn't happened much this year. Lots of tears this year - most not happy ones. So it felt SO good to laugh. Must do that more often!

If you need to laugh - come around and I'll take your photo in Photo Booth! Laughter is the best medicine - you know what they say about an Apple a day :)