Space Cake and other adventures

Great, I had my first asthma attack of the winter this morning, and winter doesn’t even start until tomorrow. Ironically, the asthma was brought on by the antihistamine I took to try and prevent an asthma attack – allergies are one of my main asthma triggers, but usually if I take an antihistamine as soon as I feel the first signs of an allergic reaction then it doesn’t develop into asthma. The trouble is, the pill went down the wrong way this morning, and the choking-on-a-pill coughing set off a bout of asthma coughing. Luckily, my asthma attacks are always mild, so not at all life-threatening, but they’re still annoying, because they leave me feeling light-headed for the rest of the day.

I never did get to sit on a jury last week. However, I did get called in virtually every day, and had to go through the whole rigmarole of sitting around in the jury assembly room waiting to see if my name got drawn. Oh well, at least it meant I got a lot of reading done ā€“ unfortunately, most of it was background reading for my linguistics paper, which Iā€™d got way behind on, so lots of dry research papers rather than tackling Mount TBR.

Of course, not knowing from day to day whether I’d be at work or not (and spending most mornings sitting at the court waiting to find out) meant a very disrupted work week, so I’ve been flat out this week trying to catch up. And it’s just coming into one of our busy periods. Which, combined with the end of semester study panic (test on Monday, assignment due next Friday, exam in a couple of weeks), kind of explains why I’ve been a bit slack lately about updating my diary (or reading anyone else’s – at last count there were 75 notifications from friends’ diaries in my inbox that I haven’t had time to read).

I have had time for some fun stuff though. It was Nephew#1’s 6th birthday on Sunday, so to celebrate they all came down to Christchurch for an “adventures with Auntie” weekend. They arrived late Friday night, and after the obligatory game of Lego Star Wars on the playstation we managed to get the kids to bed, and then we adults had a very late night catching up on all our respective news (Brother and SIL have just bought a house in Alexandra in preparation for their move down there to take over Dad’s business at the end of the year, so it was exciting to hear all their plans).

The late night was a bad idea, because the kids were wide awake well before first light and raring to get started on their adventures. But MrPloppy and I had a bookcrossing meetup to go to first (breakfast at Trattorie, organised when we thought Brother & co. would be driving down on Saturday morning so wouldn’t arrive until lunchtime), so we organised breakfast for everyone, got the kids and Brother installed on the playstation again, and SIL went off to visit some friends while we were out at breakfast. (More on the meetup later)

We were home from the meetup by 10.30, so we still had most of the day left for adventures. Brother’s car can’t fit us all when the kids are in their car seats so we made a virtue out of a necessity and made the first adventure a ride in the bus šŸ™‚ The kids got to choose where we went first, and Nephew#1’s pick was the museum. He’s just started to get the hang of how maps work, so we picked up a floor plan from the information desk, and he chose our path through the museum, which took us through an interesting mix of galleries šŸ™‚ The highlight for the kids was definitely the geology hall, where we saw a dinosaur, a meteorite (“just like the asteroids they fly through in Star Wars, except those are bigger”), and fluorescing minerals.

After a totally uninspiring lunch in the museum cafe (we did discuss going over to the food stalls at the Arts Centre, but thought the cafe would be quicker), the next adventure was a ride on the tram (horribly expensive, but the kids thought it was fun). We got off the tram at the Square for our next adventure: the aquarium. The kids had been reading a book about fish, so we had lots of fun identifying as many as we could (and making up names for the ones we couldn’t :-)), playing with the anemones in the touch tank, and watching the antics of the octopus.

We spent a couple of hours at the aquarium, by which time the kids were getting tired (especially Nephew#2, who was almost asleep on his feet), so we caught the bus back home, and SIL and I went out to buy supplies for dinner while the kids… guess what? yep, playstation again! (sometimes I think that’s the only reason they get so excited about visiting us – I’ve told my brother he’s never allowed to buy them their own copy of Lego Star Wars, or we’d never see them :-))

Dinner was pizza, which Nephew#1 helped me make (he sprinkled on the toppings that I chopped up), and after dinner when it was dark outside we had our next adventure. While the kids had been occupied with the playstation earlier Brother had snuck outside and set up a treasure hunt in the back yard. It was a Star Wars themed hunt, and he’d set up little dioramas all over the place using our old Star Wars figures (toys from when Brother and I were kids, that I’ve hung on to), then made a video starring Admiral Ackbar (the plastic toy standing in front of a “star field” which was actually a picture in a book – it looked pretty convincing on the video, though), with my brother doing a creaky voiced voiceover. The video told the two “brave rebel pilots” that the imperials were planning an attack, so they had to seek out Luke Skywalker to ask for his help. They had a “star map” (a sketch map Brother had drawn of our back yard) marking his location and torches, and headed off to find Luke (his x-wing had crashed in our apple tree, apparently :-)). Once they found each character, there was another video message from Admiral Ackbar telling them where to find the next ally they needed – the droids being held captive by jawas in the “junk fields” (an old lawnmower rusting behind the garage), the ewoks in their “forest home” (a bush), the smugglers in their secret base in the “ancient ruins” (a pile of bricks), and so on. Once they’d gathered all their allies, they were given the location of the attacking imperial army, and a huge battle commenced. The rebels won (of course!), and we all went inside to celebrate our victory.

The celebrations consisted of the birthday cake I’d made – a Space Cake. It was chocolate cake iced with black icing, with little silver balls to represent stars, and planets and a comet made out of balls of marzipan painted with food colouring (I did take a photo, but it’s on my camera at home, so I’ll have to post it later). The kids were very impressed!

The rest of the evening was spent playing with all the old Star Wars figures, which are in suprisingly good condition, considering their age. They obviously used better quality plastic in those days.

The next morning we gave Nephew#1 his birthday presents, and then after one last game of Lego Star Wars it was time for them to hit the road back to Blenheim. A great weekend, and wonderful to spend a decent amount of time with them for a change, instead of just a quick visit as they pass through Christchurch on their way to somewhere else. I was SOOOO tired after they left though! I was intending to just sit down with a book for a few minutes then get on with all the things I should have been doing that weekend, and ended up falling asleep for most of the afternoon. Kids are exhausting!

The meetup was a great success. I’ve been making a point of PMing new members to welcome them to bookcrossing, and as a result we had three new people show up: Enchante, angela7715, and keenreda. Awhina and family also showed up, so it was quite a large meetup!
We discussed plans for 2009 (of course!), and I picked up Catching the Current by Jenny Patrick, and passed on Samurai Williams by Giles Milton and All the Nice Girls by Barbara Anderson (which may have ended up in the OBCZ, because it was still on the table when MrPloppy and I left).

Currently reading: One Hundred and One Ways by Mako Yoshikawa
Currently listening to: I, Robot by Isaac Asimov (which strangely enough, shows absolutely no resemblance to the film)

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  1. Wow, what a neat time you gave the kids! Your brother is especially awesome.

    I haven’t seen the movie "I, Robot", but I’ve read that all it has in common with the book is the name.

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