Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Marine life, marine vehicles, no fouling

Hello, hello! Just a handful of photos today from a morning back in January when we walked around downtown Auckland a bit. Started with lunch at the Auckland Fish Market and then walked over by all the marinas that line the harbor out toward the bridge. Boat lover Trey was in sheer heaven with all of the boats, boat stores, boat storage facilities, and then more boats.

Does anyone know -- do we store them like this in the States? I've not seen anything like this before. But then I live in the middle of the country, far from the coasts where all the boat action would be.

By the way, no fouling!!! This means you!

Do you really think this eel is alive, because it does not look like it to me.

The famous New Zealand green-lipped mussels. A prize to the first person to guess why they are so named.

More soon, friends. The NZ blog is nearly finished, I'm sad to say.

xo, K.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Jellicoe Street

Just a little preview of tomorrow's post which includes some wandering around downtown Auckland and more dead fish.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


Happy Easter to those of you to whom it applies! xo, K.

The busker

I wonder how many of you know what busking is? Has anyone else heard this term? I read it a few times before I figured out that it meant street performers -- musicians, dancers, acrobats, magicians -- on a street corner or in a park with an open case or a hat in front of them, hoping for a bit of change. I saw a whole festival advertised in Christchurch and at some point heard that Keith Urban was going to be busking on a street corner in Sydney and then it became more clear.

Laurel began playing the French Horn in Auckland and that has already been the subject of a few posts. You wouldn't think it would be all that interesting, would you? A little girl starting a new musical instrument. But I guess because her teacher, Jill, thought of so many ways to keep things very fun, I just keep finding reasons to talk about it!

Just before Christmas, Jill told Laurel that if she could master a few holiday songs by the following week, they would do a bit of busking at a nearby shopping plaza. Laurel blinged up her horn with tinsel and learned the songs and the two of them got reluctant permission from the Chinese owner of the $2 store ($1.40US w/ the exchange rate) and off they went, jingling all the way. 

For a short while they also played here in front of the A&E (Accident & Emergency, same as our urgent care centers) and the Countdown. In all, they made $23!! Well, Laurel did. Jillian was very sweet to let her keep it all. 

Most of all though, what a unique (slightly weird!) memory for Laurel! She had such a blast! I kept looking at them in front of the Asian supermarket there and thinking, really? How did we end up here? However it happened, it was such a good thing!

Merry Christmas, Happy Easter, whatever! K.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Last day of school (or the day of the shirt)

On the kids' last day of school in Auckland, all of their friends and classmates gathered round and signed their uniform shirts. Not sure what we'll do with those now, but it was fun for them to be the center of attention for a few minutes just before they left forever.

Laurel's was already done by the time I got there, but Trey went off of school grounds to have his signed, so I did get to see that.

They both made so many nice friends. It's such a shame that we're so far from them now and that they really won't stay in touch with most of them over time. It's just the way things go. I hope they'll keep talking to at least one or two of them.

Trey's friend Nick was leaving this group of friends, too, to attend a private school, so he got his shirt signed too.

This is the Year 8 graduation ceremony. I'm sure Trey did not earn any awards in just two terms, unless he got a master scone maker trophy, so he must've been up there to receive his diploma. That's his friend, Cam, next to him.

Goodbye lovely little Churchill Park School!! We miss you!!

xo, K.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Good God, who put all these boxes in my living room??

Hey y'all. So I'm having a super crappy couple of days here, for no particular reason other than the non-stop torrential rains, cold, muddy dogs, and my nasty stinging dripping allergies. Nothing to get too bent out of shape about, just enough to turn me into a real crab. I decided this morning that I've barely been shooting anything at all for the past couple of weeks and that this must be part of my problem. Shooting always make me happy. Editing the photos makes me happy and then doing a little bit of post production on them makes me even happier.

I didn't even know where the danged camera was, which tells you how bad things are! Thought I'd show you all some of the wreckage that I'm sorting through in the living room. Way back in January, we packed up all those boxes. I think I even posted some photos of that -- hold on, yes here. There were at least a dozen of them and they took their good old time going through customs, rode on a container ship across the Pacific Ocean, then somehow made their way across the US to Ohio. It took a while, and I really had no idea how long it would be or I wouldn't have packed my kids' winter coats and some other essentials that I was very happy to see.

No, I'm not even kidding about being so happy to see these lids. I need them all the time and they were on that ship! The orange one has been with us since before I was even part of us. It's the last remaining piece of an orange enamel cookware set (I believe from Sears) that Dennis's mom gave him when he moved into his first apartment in college. That lid just seems to fit everything and so I've held on to it all these years. I wonder where the rest of that set got to.

Amongst the necessary items were tucked some strange little keepsakes, such as a few New Zealand beer bottle caps to stick in the drawer where I keep the cooking utensils and into which my husband likes to flip his bottle caps when he opens a beer. I don't know why he does this, but I figured that as long as that drawer has a bunch of bottle caps, it should have some from Monteith's, McKenna Whiskey & Cola, and Steinlager to liven things up a bit. (A small aside here: for a few months back in 2002 our awesome friends from England, the Carleys, stayed in our house and Pat was so bored without her usual work and gardening, etc. that she cleaned out my kitchen drawers and put all the bottle caps in a Ziplock bag, as if to say, "I'm not sure what this is all about, but if they were in the drawer, I'm afraid to throw them out, so here you go.")

At this point, I have most everything sorted and put away, but what remained was the six months worth of paperwork that needed to be filed or shredded or recycled. Shoot me now!!!! The kids' school stuff and farewell cards were fun to see again.

And I was especially happy to see this bottle from my birthday dinner at Dine in downtown Auckland our very last week there. I didn't know what an antipode was until we moved to New Zealand and Dennis brought it up one night. Then we continued to hear this term while we were there, so I have some meaningful associations with the word. I asked our server if I could keep the bottle and of course he couldn't have cared less. Makes me smile to see it here again, unbroken.

Well...there, there. I guess my little exercise is working. I do feel better. Yay me.

Hope you all are feeling considerably less cranky than I have been. Somebody send me some sunshine!

xoxo, K.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

CPS Year 8 graduation dinner, and an exciting summary of NZ secondary schooling

The school grade levels are a little bit different in New Zealand than what we deal with here in the States. Where Trey would have been starting 7th grade in August in Ohio, he instead found himself in the middle of Year 8 in July in Auckland. There, the school years start at the very beginning of February and go until the middle of December with two-week breaks in between terms (four terms/year) and about a six-week break after the year ends, which happens in the midst of the southern hemisphere's summer.

I liked their schedule very much actually. Made a lot of sense. Kids there start school when they turn five, by the way. As in -- the day they turn five they can begin. That would be Year 0 if I understood correctly.

Churchill Park School, where both of the kids attended class, is a primary school that goes up though Year 8. Most of the kids had been there since the day they turned five and so at the end of their time there, there's a big ceremony and a fun dinner and dance with funny awards given out by the teachers.

It's a big deal to the kids and the teachers and parents because from that point, a lot of them go their separate ways -- possibly to a school in a different zone or to a private school. Year 9 starts what they call college and the last three years of college are Years 11, 12, and 13, after which they go to university if they so choose.

OK not sure if any of you wanted to know all of that, but I have had a lot of Qs about these things, so hopefully you skimmed through or ignored if you don't care.

My main point here is the very fun graduation dinner that Trey got to take part in even though he'd missed the first 7.5 years of what they were celebrating!! :-) This wonderful group of moms and the Year 8 teachers put together such a cool night for the kids (between 30-40 total). It was so memorable for Trey as his last time with all of his Kiwi friends.

The dinner was held about a mile down the street from us at the Glendowie Tennis Club, where the kids and I actually took tennis classes and learned a bit while we were there. We all loved it! And it was a good place for a party.

Since they wear uniforms to school, it was weird to see them in regular clothes and they had a good time checking out each other's ties and shoes, etc.

That would be Alex on the far right. Funny kid. Here's Trey and a good friend, Matty C., and the fabled Miss Collins, a wise, wonderful woman and a teacher to the very bottom of her heart! Trey was so lucky to have been in her class.

While they had their fun, I joined the rest of my family and our fabulous friends, the Watsons again!, for some dinner down in St Heliers. Laurel had hair in her pasta. Not angel hair either. And I learned to say, "Is that grass??" from Finlay in a Kiwi accent. I'm very proud!

Not sure if I've mentioned the little gnome given to me by lovely Ohio friend, Samantha, just before we left. He went EVERYwhere with us and I sent Sam heaps of photos of him as he made his way through the beauty and restaurants of New Zealand.

I got a nice bottle of wine for my efforts in photography, which was lovely!! Fun memories...

xoxo to you all, K.