Friday, December 7, 2012

Oakura Happenings

As the the Indian summer gives way to longer nights and the brisk chill of winter beckons in the holiday season for all our Northern Hemisphere friends and family, we have no such reminders that Christmas is upon us.  While back in the States we would have begun decorating and shopping during Thanksgiving weekend.  Here it is almost the 10th of December and we don't even have a tree yet.  Instead of unpacking our winter gear and sleds we have been heading to the beach for boogie boarding or surfing (though not so much this past week due to Taranaki weather).

We wanted to use this blog entry to update everyone a little on what our lives have been like here this Spring (October / November).

One of the kids favorite holidays has always been Halloween which hasn't really caught on down here.  The Kiwis generally find it a little peculiar that children dress up and come knocking on their doors for treats.  While most everyone knows what Halloween is and how it is celebrated in the US, the vast majority of New Zealanders don't want anything to do with it.  
Enter my wife Jenny, the consumate planner.  Last year we had a small party at our house with 6 or 7 families attending and it was a lot of fun.  This year, not wanting to leave anyone out, she rented the Surf Lifesaving club and extended an invitation to all the kids at the school.  About 100 of them showed up all dressed for the occasion and we distributed candy around to several houses in the area so they could all go trick-or-treating.  A good time was had by all

The Organizing Committee representing The USA, The Netherlands, New Zealand and Ireland

Princess Popcorn


Lindsey, Izzy and Cream as a very convincing Zombie

Skyler, Melonie and Aoife at the Hangi

The Hangi or earth oven is the traditional way in which the Maori cook food underground using hot rocks and steam.  When the rocks are red hot from a fire they are placed in a pit, wire baskets of food are placed on top, and this is covered with wet sheets and finally covered in dirt.  The school was invited to the Oakura Pa which actually means fortified village or refuge in Maori lore.

Here they are uncovering the cooked meals.  

We had an amazing Thanksgiving dinner at our good friends Paul, Mary, Gavin and Melonie Bishop's house.  Mary, an Italian American introduced us to several additional antipasta courses to go with the traditional turkey, potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, etc.  Andy, an English mate of ours, incredibly made the most delicious homemade pumpkin pie, no canned pumpkin here.  Wendy, Andy's wife also made an incredible pecan pie. We were joined with friends from Germany and New Zealand. It was an excellent meal and a real opportunity to feel thankful for all that we are blessed with including great new friends in this "New World" of ours.  

Lindsey having a go with sailing with The New Plymouth Yacht Club in the Harbor

Oakura Take Out

Jenny ran legs 13 and 14, total of 15.5 km
Skyler ran legs 15 and 20, total of 8.7 km
Brad ran leg 17 total of 8.7 (barely made it)

Thanks to organizer Emma Wilson and the entire Wilson family for inviting us to run on their team

Owen has been playing Cricket this spring.  Rather than try to explain a game we really know little about, we thought we would give you a description of it rendered by one of our favorite authors.  
"It is not true that the English invented Cricket as a way of making all other human endeavors look more interesting and lively; that was merely an unintended side affect. I do not wish to denigrate a sport that is enjoyed by millions, some of them awake and facing the right way, but it is an odd game. It is the only sport that incorporates meal breaks. It is the only sport that shares it's name with an insect. It is the only sport in which spectators burn as many calories as the players, more if they are moderately restless. It is the only competitive activity of any type, other than perhaps baking,in which you can dress in white from head to toe and be as clean at the end of the day as you were at the beginning.

Imagine a form of baseball in which the pitcher after each delivery,collects the ball from the catcher, and walks slowly to center field, and that there, after a minute's pause he takes to collect himself, he runs full tilt towards the pitcher's mound before hurling the ball at the ankles of a man who stands before him wearing a riding hat, heavy gloves of the sort that are used to handle radio active-isotopes, and a mattress strapped to each leg. Imagine moreover that if this batsman fails to hit the ball in a way that heartens him sufficiently to try and waddle 40 ft with two mattresss strapped to his legs, he is under no formal compunction to run; he may stand there all day,and, as a rule,does. If by some miracle he is coaxed into making a misstroke that leads to his being put out, all the fielders throw up their arms in triumph and have a hug. Then tea is called and every one retires happily to a distant pavilion to fortify for the next siege. Now imagine all this going on for so long that by the time the match concludes autumn has crept in and all your library books are overdue. There you have cricket. "

Bill Bryson
In A Sunburned Country                                                                                            

Owen "bowling".  The ball has to be delivered with a straight arm and at this age it can really go anywhere.  

Owen as a "batsman".  After hitting the ball you run back and forth to the wickets to score.  You keep batting until either an opponent catches one of your hits, the bowl (pitch) hits the wickets or you get caught running between wickets when the fielders get the ball back in and hit the wickets with it.  

We are very proud of Owen.  He doesn't really like Cricket, and who can blame him as even at this level the games go on for over 2 hours, but he has stuck with it and has greatly improved.  Rugby is more his sport.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


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A. Waya Island,  Yasawas

We are going to tell this story with pictures and quotes from the kids journals. - Vinaka Jenny and Brad

"When I first stepped off the Polly G (boat), I was in complete awe. I mean the view from farther out was amazing. The ocean was a very beautiful deep aqua and it was seriously like glass. You could see right to the very bottom. Being here on this Island in the middle of nowhere, is out of this world, like literally I have never seen anything like it."- Lindsey 

"Finally we arrived at Octopus Resort! First the native Fijians welcomed us to the resort with singing and dancing. Then someone took us up to the little bar for an amazing drink with a slice of orange on  the rim of the glass, and a beautiful flower in the drink. For the restaurant floor instead of carpet there was sand!"- Skyler

" I got off the boat to go to Waya Island, they wecomed us. We went to the bar, it was weird insted of wood ther was sand. There was a butiful drink wating for us at the tabl, it had a flowin in it. Our rooms had no kichen."- Owen 

"After a delicious breakfast of fresh fruit and crepes  we had to get on a boat to visit the Boarding School on the Island. The boat ride was fun because the waves made it bumpy. We were going up and down, up and down. When we got to the school our guide showed us around the classes and rooms. We got to go to a class and the students danced and sang. I loved it, so cute. The All Blacks do a Haka dance and the students did their own warrior dance too. The school had a nice rugby field. Before we got back on the boat, we went to look at some crafts the local ladies had made and were selling. My sister got a necklace, and braclet, my brother got a necklace that looks like a tooth, and I got a beautiful shell that was polished."- Skyler

"We went to a Fiji scool on a boat. They sang. They said "Bula" and we said "Bula" back."- Owen

"I watched the locals catch sardines."- Skyler

"You could see the fish socializing and looking for crabs in their little or not so little school of fish."- Lindsey

"I went to go for a srncl and saw butiful fish and coral.  I saw the reef and the pald bord was ther too. "- Owen

"After that we decided to go snorkeling on the beautiful reef right off the beach. It was just amazing all the colors of the coral and fish. I would reccommend this reef as one of the top 30 reefs in the whole wide world. I just didn't want to leave the water, so many things to look at." -Skyler

"The out of this world snorkeling was just surreal. The crystal clear  turquoise water, the schools of fish and the neon colored coral was like a fairytale."- Lindsey

"Today we went to a little place that captured my heart, the Kindergarden. When I saw the brightly painted red fence, and the simple little building (which by the way was pretty modern looking), I knew the place was something special before I even walked through the door. Just the big smiles that these little 3-5 year olds was enough to melt your heart. It was pretty clear that this school has had lots of donations. They sang with sweet voices a bunch of American songs, like Bah Bah Black Sheep, and Head Shoulders Knees and Toes. It was adorable. Several of them would come up to us and give us handshakes, or high fives."- Lindsey

"My number one reason I liked Fiji was the kind and caring Fijians. They were so incrediably nice. They come and give their time to braid our hair and teach us how to weave baskets. They also had such wonderful personalities. They were always smiling, or sharing their amazing culture with us. They would come up to us and just say "Bula" (hello)". - Lindsey

I went for a swim and plyed volybal with my new frind Ethan. He is from Snidn (Syndey). We fond lizrds and hrmit crabs."- Owen

"We got served Indian sweets for dessert. The end was my favorite because of the Fireworks! It was just awesome, I couldn't ask for anything better. We were celebrating Dawali, an Indian Holiday. We sat and ate with two people from Poland. My Dad liked to talk to them about a lot of boring stuff. Then I had to go to bed for the night. "- Skyler

"When it got dark, me and Ally stayed up for the disco. It was so much fun, we were singing and dancing all night long! They played a lot of good songs that I know. Ally and I stayed up till 10:30!"- Skyler

"Mum and Dad went on a hike to the top of the Mountain, it took 4 hours. A nice fijian lady looked after us."- Skyler