22 August, 2013

Bits and pieces of the rough end of summer

We're at the rough end of 11 weeks of summer holidays. The first half of our holidays were fun, this second half has become tedious. But here are a few of the more interesting things we've been doing in the last week.

Bus licence
David's been working towards his medium sized bus/truck licence. Primarily because the school is buying a larger bus and needed staff to volunteer to learn to drive it. Secondarily, it is a dream he's had for a long time: to drive a large vehicle!

So, since we've been back from Hokkaido he's done a paper test (which was more like a visual perceptual test), several driving lessons, and a driving test. Last Tuesday he passed the final hurdle and this Tuesday we drove down with him to the licensing centre (yes, they do this, like many things, in large centres) to get his current Japanese licence stamped with an extra permission to drive medium sized trucks and buses.

The reason we drove down with him is that there are a couple of largish parks near the centre, and we needed to get the boys out of the house for at least one morning. A park seemed a good option (as did the car's air con for the one hour drive each way). It was a pretty low key outing (and humidly hot), but did serve to get us out.

Heat, humidity, and headaches
Late in the afternoon and the sun was still blazing.
The masses of concrete and bitumen retain the heat,
meaning that nights are almost as hot as the days.
Unfortunately it did give me a headache, earlier in the day than I've recently been getting them. It seems that I can't make it through one of these 33℃+ 70% humidity+ days without a headache.

Yes, it's been very hot over the last two weeks, humid heat that saps the energy out of you. To beat the heat without spending a fortune on air con, we:
  • use fans
  • eat ice in various forms: shaved ice with cordial on it, frozen soft drink, plain ice cubes, etc.
  • sleep on ice pillows or with ice packs
  • use air con when it gets too hard to bear. Nights aren't really making it below 30℃ in our house, (maybe 29, or 28.5 at 4am), so it can be difficult to sleep. I was managing it, but getting very tired. So the last couple of nights David and I have camped on our super duper air bed in the lounge room, which has air con.

Ice pillow, stays cold a long time.

David back at work
The urgency for getting David's licence stamped was that he started work full-time yesterday. That is 8-5. There's always lots to do and a certain feeling of pressure to do it all before school starts (next Tuesday). That, of course, means that I'm home alone with the boys again at the end of a very long holiday. At the same time the boys all have things that have to be done, either before school starts, or just need to be done.

So on Monday I wrote up a list:

It's a bit messy and confusing, but we understand. It produced interesting reactions. My orderly, strong-willed introvert thought it was a great idea, but has had trouble following through. My random, theatrical, extrovert rejected the idea of a list, but yesterday admitted happily that it was "giving him things to do so that I aren't bored".

Monday-Wednesday's big carrot was that when they'd all completed the compulsory parts of the list, they could have some screen time or TV time. Today and tomorrow, no screen time, but the younger two are booked into afternoons at the free childcare that the school provides for teacher's kids on these teacher work days. They're very happy about that, but . . . they have to get the list completed before they can go.

So the boys' exercise is taken care of now (childcare happens at the gym where they do a lot of running around). Our soon-to-be high schooler is doing some preseason cross country training with the coaches and a few other local team mates: at 6am! Best time for running, but he's feeling tired. He's still working out at the wrestling club twice a week, but that will probably drop down to once a week once school and five times a week after school cross country training begins. He's eligible to work out at the school gym, now that he'll be a high schooler, so I'm hoping he'll make time for that too in preparation for the wrestling season later in the year. High school wrestling is a whole level up from middle school. He'll need the conditioning.

And on that same front, he and I spent time in the doctor's surgery sorting out his entering-high-school medical.

I've also done some food creating. I've tried to stay away from baking in this heat, my ovens heat up the house too much. However I did make some yummy tomato chutney (like pickles) to have on our sandwiches. You can't buy chutney here and tomatoes are plentiful and cheap at the moment.

The other day I stumbled upon my Lemon Meringue Pie recipe and it tickled my fancy as a great summer dessert. So my 8 y.o. and I made that yesterday morning too. It only took 10 minutes in the oven, so it wasn't a big problem. And, oh my, it is delicious.

Someone wanted the recipe, so here it is:

Lemon Meringue Pie
150g plain biscuits
90-130g butter (I started with the lower amount, but it wasn't enough)
400g tin condensed milk
125ml lemon juice
3 eggs, separated
110g sugar

Crumb biscuits and mix with melted butter. Press into greased 23cm pie plate. Chill while making filling.

Combine condensed milk with lemon juice and lightly beaten egg yolks. Spoon mixture into pie crust.

Beat egg whites until soft peaks form and then gradually add sugar. Beat until stiff. Put over filling and bake in 180℃ oven until golden on the peaks. Approximately 10 minutes.

My editing/email/publishing projects/writing work
This is also supposed to be happening. I'm not managing a lot at this point due to all of the above! Email isn't too hard, but the rest is in slow-mo

I did manage to rewrite a post from here and submitted it to our home church denomination for their magazine (this post about non-language stressors that missionaries face). And of course I've been blogging here, which has taken quite some time. All those camping posts are great, but the photos take a while to organise. Still, I'm here because I enjoy it!

I've got a pile of articles on my desk to edit, but usually the time I'm more energetic and ready to work is the same time that someone desperately needs me to "find their Bible memory sheet", or "get him out of my room", or answer questions like "what do I have to do for my book report again?" or boot someone into action "hang the washing out" or "get the washing up done before lunch". By the time I've sorted all that out, I'm pretty flat exhausted. So, sorry any authors who have submitted articles, I'm not getting to your work as fast as I wanted to!

Ah, next Tuesday I won't know what to do with myself, the house will be quiet and I'll have all that time to myself. A little bit of me will miss them, but then I'll think back over these last few weeks and sit back and enjoy the space and freedom.

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