50 Dangerous Things: 34

Number 34: Deconstruct an Appliance

Our old printer was stuffed, and I was about to bin it when I remembered that taking apart an appliance was considered one of the 50 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Children Do. Perfect.

Then the printer sat on the floor under my desk for a few months until one snowy, freezy Sunday, when the boys were bored and belligerent – including the biggest of them all. While I set out to do the grocery shopping, they set out to discover what the inside of a printer looks like.

50 Dangerous Things: 34

Armed with screwdrivers and other assorted tools, they spent a good hour-and-a-half dismantling that printer, until every last screw and spring had been removed. They moved bits and prodded electronic things, and Tall was in his element, teaching his sons all sorts of interesting facts about mechanical engineering and product design.

50 Dangerous Things: 34

Tiny wanted to try and put the printer back together again, but we managed to dissuade him. Both he and Pickle had a great time hunting out the tiniest of screws and deciding which screwdriver they needed to use.

This was a great exercise for their inquiring minds; Tiny already exhibits similar engineering traits to his dad, so this was right up his alley.

50 Dangerous Things: 34 Deconstruct an Appliance – DONE

50 Dangerous Things: 01 Lick a 9-Volt Battery
50 Dangerous Things: 11 Throw Rocks
50 Dangerous Things: 15 Throw Things from a Moving Car
50 Dangerous Things: 28 Climb a Tree
50 Dangerous Things: 32 Change a Tyre
50 Dangerous Things: 21 Spend an Hour Blindfolded

50 Dangerous Things: 05 Stick Your Hand out the Window

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts One and Two

Harry Potter

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts One and Two – J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne
Published by Hachette New Zealand

The much-anticipated special rehearsal edition of the script book has finally arrived, with fans flocking to bookstores across the world to be among the first to read it. The eighth story in the Harry Potter series, set nineteen years after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage.

Having finished the book whilst lying in the sun one day last week, here are my thoughts:

  • this edition is the script used by cast and crew during rehearsals for the stage show. As such, it provides an entirely different reading experience to the previous seven Harry Potter books. It’s a decent-sized book, but the format means it takes no time to read. The style of writing is quite different, and plays are always difficult to read as books (remember all those years of trying to read the plays of Shakespeare in English classes??) BUT – if you imagine how it would look on the stage…it would be brilliant.
  • the play is written by Thorne, and is based on a story written by Rowling, Tiffany and Thorne; when you have the author of the original series combining with two newbies, you have to expect that it is going to be different in a lot of ways.
  • our favourite young heroes are now grown-ups with families of their own, thus they are less exciting, less excitable, less endearing and less out-of-the-ordinary. The two main youngsters, Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy, are much more adventurous and fearless that their parents, but they are certainly not in the same league as young Harry, Hermione, Ron, Ginny and Draco.
  • the wonderful magical aspects were still there, which was great, and I loved that Moaning Myrtle featured.
  • adult Harry is a bit of a knob. He reminds me of a petulant four-year-old; he’s lost that adorable spark and faithfulness that made young HP a crowd favourite. He says some mean things to his son, and my feelings towards him were lukewarm for the remainder of the book.
  • at the end of The Deathly Hallows, good triumphed over evil, Voldemort was vanquished and all was right with the world (apart from the obvious tragic losses)…the story had an ending; Harry had won. Fans were gutted, but everything finally came together and made sense. I’m not really sure what the publication of this new installment actually achieves in terms of those original books, because it doesn’t really add or change anything; it almost feels like a reality TV show, “Harry Potter: Where Are They Now?”
  • [SPOILER ALERT] the play introduces the child of Bellatrix Lestrange and Voldemort, supposedly born before the Battle of Hogwarts. I struggled with this concept, but I do remember how much love Bellatrix had for the Dark Lord…so I decided to do some investigating, and came across this interesting piece that made me more open to the idea. Still…I found it weird.

I enjoyed Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, but I didn’t love it the way I loved its seven predecessors. Read it, but be prepared for it to be very different to the HP books you know.

Thank you to Hachette New Zealand for this review copy.

On My Mind: What Next?

When my babiest bear turned four, my thoughts started to turn towards what I’m going to do when he starts school next year. I don’t want to sit around home watching bad telly, but I also don’t want to work full-time; the last time I worked in New Zealand was almost ten years ago, and I don’t have a job – or a career – to step back into.

I toy with the idea of going back to university, but I’m not sure what I want to study. For a long time I wanted to obtain a Master of Counselling, but I’m not as passionate about that as I once was. I think approaching 40 makes me question whether I’m past that stage in life, but then I think of the number of clever people I know who have gone back to study, and I know that age really isn’t a valid excuse. Maybe I’m scared of failing, of not being able to keep up…but that’s silly, because I’m a bit of a nerd, and an organised one at that!

I play with the idea of finding a 9am-2pm job so I can still take my boys to school and pick them up at the end of their day. A job where I don’t have to think too hard or work extra hours…but I know that I would go insane if I wasn’t challenged in some way.

Signal Hill Lookout, Dunedin NZ

Something I am seriously thinking about is starting my own business, but that’s going to take a lot more planning and thought. The appeal of that is being able to set my own hours and therefore still be available for my kids. I’m doing some investigating…but am I really the businesswoman type?

I’d love for this blog to be my “job”, but the reality is that I don’t have the audience numbers, I don’t have a “niche”, nothing makes me stand out from any of the other mummy bloggers around. I also think that in order to really make it as a blogger in New Zealand, being based in Auckland is three-quarters of the battle won?? I’m not being self-pitying or looking for plaudits, I’m simply being realistic. And to be honest, I’m not sure that I’d enjoy all the pressure that would come with being paid for something I genuinely love doing.

We’re incredibly fortunate to be in a position where I can stay at home with and for our children right now. I’m very lucky to have a husband who is not pressuring me think about this, but I know he realises that I won’t be content to be a lady of leisure, and will support me in whatever I decide to do – and whenever I decide to do it.

Book Review: End of Watch

End of Watch

End of Watch – Stephen King
Published by Hachette New Zealand

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a Stephen King novel that has consumed and terrified me as much as End of Watch did. This is the third and final installment in a trilogy that began with Mr Mercedes, but it isn’t just your run-of-the-mill tie-all-the-ends-together finale, oh no. I haven’t read the first two books in the trilogy (Mr Mercedes or Finders Keepers), but it doesn’t matter; End of Watch is a thrilling stand-alone novel, and the background the first two books will provide really isn’t missed. That in itself is a sign of a great book, in my opinion; it doesn’t rely on its predecessors to be a bloody good read. Plus the cover is lightly embossed with rain drops, which is just awesome.

End of Watch is clever and disturbing, and frightening in a very plausible, realistic way. Technology and medical trials are a fact of modern life, and this novel takes these ideas and transforms them into something sinister and terrifying.

I’ve already placed this book on my husband’s bedside table, and suggested he might like to read it. He’s not a big reader, but I think he will find the whole concept as intriguing as I did.

Stephen King isn’t just a master of horror, he’s also a great writer, and I think that’s why this novel works so well. The characters are believable and likeable (mostly!), and this makes the whole story seem possible. I did find the end of the bad guy a little bit of a let down (maybe I wanted greater punishment and suffering for him??!), but the way the novel itself ended was perfect. I like it when authors aren’t afraid to break the mold or kill off main characters.

At the end of the novel, in his Author’s Note, King touches briefly on the subject of suicide, one of the strongest threads in this story. He encourages readers to seek help when they are feeling low, and I have to say that my respect for the man skyrocketed at that point. To use his novel as a platform for talking about this is huge.

End of Watch is a book that you won’t want to put down; thank you to Hachette New Zealand for my review copy.

 

 

 

50 Dangerous Things: 05

(I just found this post lurking in my Drafts from early 2015. Slack!)

Number 05: Stick Your Hand out the Window

A few days after the aerodynamics lessons of Number 15, Tiny asked if he could stick his hand out the car window. We were driving through town, and the windows were down because it was hot.

We talked a lot about what it felt like, and he had some really interesting things to say about wind and air. He said he was drawing on the air, and found it funny that we couldn’t really do that even though the wind pressure made it feel like he was pushing his hand into something solid.

He moved his hand around, changing the position (vertical vs. horizontal, open vs. closed, fingers spread vs. fingers together) and his own movements (still vs. waving), and we talked briefly about resistance, pressure and lift (I tried to search far, far back to science lessons at school, but…yeah).

It was fun and it opened up a very rudimentary conversation about stuff, but I have no photos because I was driving.

50 Dangerous Things: 05 Stick Your Hand out the Window – DONE

50 Dangerous Things: 01 Lick a 9-Volt Battery
50 Dangerous Things: 11 Throw Rocks
50 Dangerous Things: 15 Throw Things from a Moving Car
50 Dangerous Things: 28 Climb a Tree
50 Dangerous Things: 32 Change a Tyre
50 Dangerous Things: 21 Spend an Hour Blindfolded

Book Review: The Revelations of Carey Ravine

The Revelations of Carey Ravine

The Revelations of Carey Ravine – Debra Daley
Published by Hachette New Zealand

I felt bereft when I realised I’d read the last page of The Revelations of Carey Ravine. For a few moments, I refused to believe that it was over; I flipped frantically through the remaining blank pages, desperate, desiring, wishing for more.

This is a novel that will pull you into the exciting and dangerously-heady world of 1770s London, and take you on a fascinating and opportunistic journey through the seedy opulence of new money, old money, and no money. Daley has a sumptuous talent for drawing you in to a time when money is the only language worth talking; entry into the social elite is solely dependent on wealth and connections, and it doesn’t matter whether that wealth is real or perceived.

Carey Ravine and her husband, Oliver Nash, are desperate to be a part of the highest echelons of London society, and will do nothing, it seems, to be left out. Nash believes that their participation in regular late, drunken and debauched nights are necessary for making their way in the city.

However, Carey begins to realise that their quest for “being someone” is taking its toll on her emotionally, morally and physically, and when confronted by some difficult but believable truths about her husband and his dealings, she begins to question the life they are living.

Daley has created an ebullient cast of characters, each vivid and enthralling in their own ways. Nash is a loveable and charming rogue (until he isn’t); his wife attractive and lively, yet more intelligent and perceptive than others believe. The characters that circle around them are cleverly written and easy to like or not; the villains are easy to spot, yet there are moments where you question the motives of each and every one.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Revelations of Carey Ravine, and while I was sad when I realise I’d finished, it ended beautifully, and that softened the blow.

Thank you to the team at Hachette New Zealand for my review copy; you can buy your own here!

Hi, July. Oh wait…bye, July.

I’m not convinced that this month will have featured the required 31 days.

I’ll wait while you work that out using your knuckles.

July has 31 days, right? Right. So now, sage reader, tell me where in the cheesecake have those almost-31 days disappeared to??!!

How can we be two months through winter (or summer, for those on the flip-side) and it be almost August and that the first half of the year has gone already?? I just….can’t. I can’t work out where July has disappeared to, I really can’t.

I know that two weeks of it were taken up by school holidays, and that Lego and a few fun outings took up those days, but that leaves approximately 13 days virtually unaccounted for.

I vaguely recollect that the start of the month – and therefore the end of term – passed with two very tired, grumpy boys living in this house. They were both exhausted after a term of extended kindy hours, and football practises and games. There was a visit from my sister and her lovely fam-bam in there too, which meant a few days of family fun and late nights. There were endless days of washing drying inside due to rain, and time spent trying to pin down a plumber and organise house stuff. There were coffee dates and play dates, and vacuuming rice bubbles off the floor every single day.

Hmmm, now that I think about it, I can see where the past 27 days have gone. We’ve been busy living and doing and being.

Huh. How novel.