Thanks for the good luck wishes, Patty--it has obviously worked because here I am five days later and the nephews are still alive. :) It's actually been quite fun, amazing to say. They have a pool at their house, which has been a complete blessing as some of the days have been stinking hot (although my hair is all gross and chlorine-y now). I've even enjoyed cooking the meals; though nerve-racking, it's been a completely new experience to just see what's in the fridge and make something with it. My mother was always super-organised (and I mean SUPER) and if I was cooking one night I'd always have to tell her what my plans with her at least a day in advance so we'd have all the right ingredients. So it's very novel to just hash something together out of odds-and-ends, especially if the boys actually like it!
I've also got to do a lot of fun things with them. The other day we went to see Nanny McPhee, with Emma Thompson and Colin Firth and the cool little boy from Love Actually, and it was FANTASTIC. A kids movie, obviously, but it was just so cool and clever and well done that I loved it. I would even go so far as to say it's one of the best roles I've seen Colin Firth in since Mr Darcy. I actually didn't really enjoy his portrayal of Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones' Diary that much, and although I liked other roles like Jamie in Love Actually, this one was just a really good one for him. I might even buy the DVD when it comes out (a big deal for me).
Then today, we went to Quail Island for the day. Just over the hill from Christchurch is Lyttleton Harbour, which is actually the crater of an ancient and extinct volcano, and in the middle is this island which takes about three hours or so to walk around. We took the ferry from Lyttleton to the island and did a walk around about half of it, past the old leper colony buildings and graveyard (of about 100 years ago), and round to a ship's graveyard, where there are about eight skeletons of ships that have been abandoned near the beach--really quite cool. It was a lovely, sunny day and it was really fun, although the kids did fight a bit when they got tired. But I was wise, and brought marshmallows, and whenever they were being particularly painful I would pipe up with "When you get to the top of this hill you can both have two marshmallows each!" Then I sat on the beach reading Jane Austen literary criticism while the boys collected shells and found crabs, until the ferry came back to pick us up. We went back through the tunnel under the hill to Christchurch (always a bonus) and went for a long swim in their pool! Came home feeling ravenous. [The photos above are of Quail Island today.]