Category Archives: Friends and Family

She’s Here!

This is Rebekah Carolyn Sampson. She was born yesterday (6/6/16) at around 2 in the afternoon. Mum had an emergency caesarean section and is now recovering in hospital. These pictures are all I’ve seen of Rebekah so far, and I can’t wait until I can go to the hospital and hold her for the first time.

Proud big brother here. :D



Posted by on June 7, 2016 in Friends and Family


Hello I’m Olaf and I like warm hugs!

It snowed two days ago.

We were heading to my ballet lesson when the snow first began to swirl. (As you might expect, I didn’t do ballet yesterday.) We did get to the place, but the snow was settling and piling up, and in an hour the roads might have been impassable. Since we live at a lower elevation than where we first saw the snowstorm, I wasn’t very optimistic about getting snow, and I helped dissuade the little kids from getting their hopes up too high. After all, we hadn’t had a good snow for years.

Thankfully, I was wrong.

The snow was swirling hard when we got home. It snowed all the rest of the day and into the evening, past family church and bedtime for little kids. Then the power went out.

I was writing when darkness descended. (I save my files regularly, so I didn’t lose anything.) The power flickered a few times and died. Brothers dug out torches to restore the light, and we activated emergency mode—torches in the hallway, cases of water on the bench, and more logs in the fire to keep it going through the night. Before the power went off, Dad had driven to pick up more petrol for the generator, so that was covered.

Bedtime came more quickly than usual, seeing that as the lights were out there wasn’t much point in sitting around talking…or, ahem, writing. No electricity for the clock on the shelf in my room, so I couldn’t tell the time.

The power cut persisted all through the night. Early in the morning, Dad dragged out the generator from the garage and started channeling power to certain required locations—boiling water, an uncovered lamp on the bench to provide light in the dim morning hours, a washing machine, fridges and freezers, taps and showers. Although we usually eat homemade bread, there was none made because of the power cut—and as such, we dug out two loaves of shop bread from the freezers and toasted them. Once the sun came up, the power cut became somewhat invisible.

After breakfast, most of us exited the house to play in the snow. My youngest brother and I built a snowman outside the house. Coincidentally, my youngest brother loves Frozen. And his favourite character is Olaf.



The power returned while I was building Olaf. After completing the snowman, I went to the front field and worked till noon to build an igloo with my brothers. I don’t have a picture of it for this post, but it’s taller than me with a complete roof, and I could easily fit inside it, though not standing. It’s the biggest igloo we’ve ever made.

When I returned to the house, I discovered that the power had gone out again. Then it returned again just before lunch, allowing us to cook the things we usually have. Since then, it hasn’t gone out again.

Later that day, I had a physio appointment for my ankle, which I sprained several weeks ago. My mother drove me into the town fifteen minutes away. There, slush bordered the roads, and the car park outside the physio building was covered in melting snow and water. I also saw a snowman wearing a road cone for a hat in the middle of the road, but the picture I took of it barely got it in the frame.

Today, the snow has hardened. I doubt it’ll be as good for building, and I’m likely not going out again for the purposes of working in the snow. Once was sufficient for me. But I’ve definitely enjoyed having this snowfall, even with the loss of power, and the snow has made my winter.

What’s the weather at your place?



Posted by on June 20, 2015 in Friends and Family


Fire in the Grey Skies

Today's hot air balloon.

Today’s hot air balloon.

One of the events that always causes a stir in this family is the appearance of hot air balloons.

Imagine this scenario. Contented play defines the household. (I can’t say peace, because that’s not always accurate.) All the younger children are up, a few of the older teenagers too; several teenagers remain in bed, sneaking a few more moments of the typical teenager’s favourite activity.


—someone yells, “Hot air balloon!”

Cue a mad, excited rush to the windows, to the front door—kids piling over one another to see and exclaim over the hot air balloon.

That’s typical here. When there’s a hot air balloon, at least.

Early today, I opened the window next to my desk to allow the cool breezes entrance. My chair doesn’t face the window, so I saw nothing. Until I heard a very familiar roar…

Fire in the grey skies.

The hot air balloon was close. Very close. Apparently it had already drifted over the house without the little kids spotting it. (Maybe its vector hid it behind the house. I don’t know.) But yes, the above scenario occurred. This time, the younger children even went to the extreme of heading outside into the cold to talk to the balloonists, who were actually in speaking range. The predominant theme of their conversation can be summed up in two phrases: “Hello!” and “Can you please land in our section?”

No, the balloon did not land in our section. I think it would be the highlight of the year for those little kids if one did.

What sort of occurrence causes a stir among your family members?


(P.S. The roar, and the fire in the grey skies, is from the balloonists launching a spurt of flame into the balloon to give it more hot air and thereby more lift. Just if you’re not familiar with hot air balloons. :P )


Posted by on February 3, 2015 in Friends and Family, Randomness


I Present…The Fireplace


We only moved these into the fireplace today, on Christmas Eve, because otherwise the little kids might have opened them beforehand. If you’re wondering, that suitcase in the corner is meant to be there.

Where do you keep presents prior to Christmas?




Posted by on December 24, 2014 in Friends and Family


Bacon and Eggs

I woke up today at five something in the morning with my mind still on the book concept I’d been thinking through the previous evening—as if nothing had happened. Nothing, as in no pause in my mental circuitry. That’s normal for me. I don’t know why. But actually, something had happened—just not in the mental realms.

My nose had decided to upgrade to a greater level of production without my consent.

My throat had decided to start fires, again without my consent.

After a long period of mental rambling, nasal trumpeting, recitation, and meditation, I finally went back to sleep at six something.

We are currently having two weeks of school holidays. This next part wouldn’t work in the school term. (I love the holidays.) I woke up at an unrecorded time and stayed in bed until half past ten, attempting to continue thinking through the book concept I had been thinking through the night before. However, after a short period of thinking, my room was invaded by people of all flavours, one checking up on my condition, another packing for a camp in the second week of these holidays, others wandering in just to talk and inform me of everything I’ve missed, asking me when I was going to get up, serenading me with ukeleles, fiddling with my Lego pirate ship which my older brother had kindly rebuilt for me yesterday. And when they finally all left, I wasn’t in the thinking mood.

However, before I got up, my mother had suggested breakfast in bed, and one of my siblings jumped on the idea. He decided to make me bacon and eggs for breakfast. This is a one-of-a-kind thing in our family, occurring about once every one or two years.


No, I did not eat them in bed. I dragged myself out of bed before that and hovered over his shoulder at points until he finished cooking my breakfast. The bacon and eggs were great, despite being a little cold. But who cares. I’ve got a little cold as well. (Bad pun.)

And I guess that’s all I’ve got to say. (Except that we buy bacon in packs of six, and my brother ate one and a half pieces and shared out the rest.) Since it’s the holidays, I have more time on my hands, and I may possibly write a few more blog posts. I’ve got some ideas brewing, the preeminent one a hypothesis about writing. And on that, I’ll leave you in suspense.

Do you often have bacon and eggs for breakfast?



Posted by on October 1, 2014 in Food, Friends and Family, Randomness


The Weirdest Day in the World

Today is the weirdest day in the world.

Today, my parents celebrate their twentieth wedding anniversary. Today, they are going to Auckland, way up in the North Island, for a night. Without us. And our grandparents are staying to look after us.

This has never happened before, at least not in my life. Sure, there have been variants. Dad flies across the world quite often compared to the rest of us. Mum and Dad have vanished in the middle of the night before when a new baby is coming, and we’ve woken up to see Nan and Pa here. But this—flying to Auckland for their twentieth wedding anniversary…this has never happened before in my life.

Today is the weirdest day in the world. Or at least in my life.


(Oh, and I did find out what happened to those three missing muffins from my last post, Muffin Quest. Nan did take them home, and she made them into a dessert.)


Posted by on August 20, 2014 in Friends and Family



Today was my birthday.

Is, rather. Today is my birthday. June 24. I have completed seventeen rotations around the sun and am now undergoing my eighteenth. Welcome to this post. Your presents can be in the form of comments. ;)

The day began with a relatively toss-turn morning as I procrastinated in the delicious warmth of my bed and waited for seven-thirty. I got up at around seven-forty, had a shower, read my Bible, and then had breakfast.

Breakfast was a unique and delicious affair. My grandmother had stayed the night, since on the previous evening we had our fortnightly speaking club meeting, and she cooked breakfast—bagels, pancakes, egg, along with mangoes, cream cheese mixed with tuna, maple syrup, golden syrup…yeah, that’s not an ordinary breakfast for me. (My ordinary breakfast is a mere crust of bread with cheese on top, sometimes with beetroot chutney or honey and butter.) So my birthday breakfast was delicious.

During breakfast, my sister gave me a blue highlighter and a pen. Since I’m a writer, I guess any pen is a good present for me. After breakfast, my grandmother gave me a beautiful little chocolate bar.


And that’s mine, ye chocoholics, so fingers off.

After breakfast, my grandmother left. On any ordinary Sampson birthday, my other grandmother would come. However, she was sick. And that’s not an ordinary thing for this grandmother. So that was disappointing, but she did ring later on in the day.

Also after breakfast, I completed my entire schedule of twenty-three different items. Well. I completed twenty-one and skipped the other two. And I finished the thirtieth lesson of a (nominally) thirty-week course based on Henle Latin. Tomorrow I’ll do—or at least begin—the cumulative review. This took a while, and this was interspersed with family exercises, reading books to little kids, and preparing the curry for lunch. Lunch was an ordinary affair, by the way. After starting at nine in the morning, I finished my schoolwork at 6:27 in the evening, a minute before tea. I expect a lot of you call tea dinner. In this family, some call it tea, some call it dinner. We’re weird. And proud of it.

After tea/dinner, out came the two cakes, the ice cream, the potato chips, the jelly, the L&P. (For all you Americans and other people who don’t know what L&P is, it’s a fizzy drink that’s world famous in NZ. Stands for Lemon and Paeroa.) I had a piece of banana-cake-with-chocolate-icing and a piece of hurry-up-cake-with-blue-icing, some boysenberry and lemon jelly, some boysenberry ice cream, some The Works chips. Right now, I’m stuffed. But I wouldn’t mind another piece of cake. Yeah, it’s just because there’s cake left that I want it. Mea culpa.

Finally, I escaped to my refuge (my computer) and breathed a long sigh of relief as I checked my favourite forum, my email, and the blogs I generally read. Then I settled in to write a new post on my blog and make every chocoholic absolutely mad.

That’s been my birthday. As I told Mum—”Normal.” A normal day. As my older brother put it, exceptionally average. And it has been a relatively normal day for me, what with schoolwork. But, throughout that normal-ness, there’s been a new thought…I’m seventeen now. Sixteen automatically sounds young. And I’m looking forward to my eighteenth rotation around the sun.



Posted by on June 24, 2014 in Friends and Family



Hello, readers! Yes, I’ve been away for a long time…but now I’m back. At least, temporarily. I don’t know if this restart in blogging is going to go far, but I’ll have a go at it anyway.

Owliburd’s been locked away again in the deepest depths of my writerly mind. Yes, this is Matthew writing this, not the crazy old owl. I don’t know when I’m going to let him out again. By the look of his most recent posts, it won’t be for quite a while.

I did NaNoWriMo in November, going for 20,000 words, and finished a story known as A Tale of Taaree Younglings at 21,783 words. I haven’t looked at the manuscript since. I’m glad I wrote it, because it did help a lot with developing the culture of the Taaree people, but I doubt I’ll revise or publish it.

My current writing project is called The Authority Card, a science fiction (I think) novel. This is my first go at plotting out the events of each Act of the book—Beginning, Inciting Incident, Second Thoughts, Climax of Act One, and so on. This is going very well, and I’m currently at 18,602 words, have passed the first Obstacle of Act Two, and am gearing up for the second Obstacle. This book is in first person present, which allows me to go really deep into my main character’s thoughts and feelings. My main character is named Rike Steel, by the way. Again, this is going really well, and I’m pleased with it. I’ve also outlined the second novel in this series, the preliminary title of which is Hunting Shadows.

Screen Shot 2013-12-27 at 3.43.38 pmI also set a 50,000-word goal for between December 19 and January 31. I’m more than 4,000 words ahead of schedule. Above is an image of the spreadsheet I’m using. I learned how to format spreadsheets last year, so that’s very helpful. Notice that one day this week says 0 words. That’s Christmas. By my own choice, I decided not to go on the computer on Christmas, and Lee Sr. the Great Unknown and Lee Jr. the Worldbearer were left to sleep in.

Recently, I’ve given thought to studying how professional cover artists create the artwork for book covers. These thoughts were inspired by the new preliminary cover of Bryan Davis’s book Reapers, which I think is a masterfully done cover and one of the best covers I’ve ever seen. I don’t have a FaceBook account, but I would have asked him who made it if I did have one. I could, technically, email him.

Christmas Day, for me, was a day of love and laughter, of food and family, of play-fights and presents. We announced an Open Night and had most of our extended family over—grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins—aside from one family who had a vomiting bug. One of my grandmothers chaired an impromptu speaking event in which we retold the Christmas story from our perspective as one of the characters there. The lot of a camel fell to me, and everyone quaked in laughter at the antics of this mischievous camel who played tricks on his Magi rider, acted insanely, and in the epic climax fired a spit wad at the pompous King Herod. My mother thinks I should make it into a book for seven-year-olds.

I think that’s all I have to say.

Merry Christmas!

Matthew S


Posted by on December 27, 2013 in Friends and Family



…was the last time I posted.

I’m sorry, I can’t think of anything to post.

Except my current word count for Scars of Freedom: 42,774.

And maybe some pictures of my youngest brother.


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Posted by on February 4, 2013 in Friends and Family, My Books



The weekend before the one we’ve just had, I took 313 photos, not including deleted photos.

I have high hopes that the owner of Shining Arrows was able to shoot photos in hope of reaching the highest score for this weekend.


My score for yesterday and the day before was:


I shall wait for a score for my opponent’s photo count.

As I write this, my 275 photos are downloading (well, just finished downloading) and are now waiting for me to post a few here.

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A little brother during the morning.

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Same little brother…

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An impulse shot out the window.

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Another little brother on the way to church.

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After church; the littlest brother…

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Carol service in the evening; it was hot. That’s all I have to say.

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A tree.

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The night sky out my bedroom window.

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Yes, I was playing with the ‘Night Landscape’ function…

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…and I got these.



Posted by on December 17, 2012 in Friends and Family, Photography