Tuesday, April 10, 2012



"Life should not be a 
journey into the Grace 
with the intention of 
arriving safely
in an attractive 
and well preserved body
but rather to
skid in sideways,
champagne in one hand-
strawberries in the other,
body thoroughly used up,
totally worn out
and screaming
What a ride"

   The schools here are divided into 4 terms, with a two week break in between each term. We just finished Term 1 on Thursday. The term was filled with lots and lots of activities and events to keep all of us active and very busy. Swimming is part of the curriculum here in NZ so  therefore the kids swam everyday at the school pool. Because Oakura is a Coastal town learning how to swim is just as important to the school and community as reading or writing. The school has a very small pool on the property where  the younger kids take their lessons, and the older kids head into town to swim at the Aquatic Center. The kids also have a beach education day, they spend the day at the beach learning about ocean currents, and rips and then head into the Ocean for a swim. This is taught by the Surf Lifesaving Cub. Environmental Education is valued highly in NZ, so the kids spent another day outside at the river picking up trash, and then they all got to have a swim at the end of the day. The school system really encourages the kids the be physically healthy and they are constantly providing opportunities to do so. Being healthy and fit is not only benefifical to one's health but it also gives a kid confidence. The school had a Junior School Triathlon which meant it was only for the 5 and 6 year olds. It was held back in Feb., which was great for Owen since Grandma and Grandpa were around to watch. It was a lot of work for the teachers to set up the mini course but it was well worth it as all the kids crossed the finish line with smiles on their little faces. It was one of the cutest things I have seen in a long time. They started with the run, then bike and finished with the swim.  The run was maybe 300 yards, and the bike ride was about 100 yards slightly uphill and in the grass. About half the 5 year old's still had training wheels on their bikes!! The swim was the entire length of the 20 meter pool, which is only 3 feet deep. Owen ran, biked and swam as fast as his little legs and arms would go, he had a blast and loved the cheering squad he had on the sideline!! The older kids got to participate in a triathlon later in the term. It was put on by Weet-bix, and done in a typical kiwi fashion. It was held on Wednesday so they got to miss school, and it was totally  non-competitive. It was all about competing, finishing and having fun. 1,500 kids took part in the race and it was held at the port. Both my girls had butterflies the morning of the race but they did excellent and had a sense of accomplishment after the race. The highlight of the tern was both girls got to go away to camp with their classmates. Skyler's class went to a camp called Vertical Horizon which was about 45 minutes away. They left on Monday morning and came home Wednesday night, which was the perfect length of time as this was the first sleep away camp for most of the kids. The camp reminded me of a upscale Girl Scout Camp, nothing flash but very clean and super cool activities for the kids. Then the year 7and 8 kids went to Wellington (capital of NZ) for 5 days. Brad took the time off and went as a parent helper, which I thought was super sweet that he wanted to go and spend the week with his daughter and 66 other 11-13 year olds.  They did everything from swimming at a water park, visiting Parliament and meeting John Key, had an amazing race around the central city, and a sleepover at the Zoo. Both Lindsey and Brad had an excellent trip, and some lasting friendships were made. 

The bike's ready for the junior  triathlon. 

Owen at the starting line. 

Going neck to neck in the swim!

Crossing the finish line with the senior kid's at the sideline cheering them on

Owen loves to Boogie Board

Love that smile!!

This is our friend's car, which makes me smile everytime I see it!

This was what they called a "storm bomb", which was huge south westerlie gale winds that pounded Taranaki  for a solid 24 hours. School was cancelled. I took this picture from our living room, the ocean looked soo eerie, it looked like some of the scenes from the movie The Perfect Storm. 

These 5 pictures were taken at WOMAD, which stands for World of Music, art and dance. It was started by Peter Gabriel and Thomas Brooman in 1982. It is a 3 day international festival that brings artists from all over the world. We were there for 10 hrs. on Saturday, and we all woke up Sunday morning wanting  to go back again. We learned how to belly dance, how to do the Bombay Royale (imagine Bollyworld), and watch a Japanese mime. We listened to bands from Australia, Cuba, and Africa.
WOMAD was amazing, one of the best music festivals I have ever been to.  All types of acts from every continent playing on seven different stages, great food and great people watching.  Certainly one of the major entertainment events annually in New Zealand and they have it here in Taranaki.  The kids had a blast as they ran all over with their friends and as a parent you actually felt quite safe in that.          

These two pictures are of Orca Whales that swam past our house last month. There were 5 of them, and it happened at 7:15 in the morning, which was cool because the kids were home to see them. We chased them down the coast until we couldn't see them anymore. It was a great way to start the day, but it did make going in the water later that day to Paddle Board a little nerve racking!!
The group of year 5 and 6 that went away to camp for 3 days and 2 nights. 

Lindsey and her buddies in the Amazing Race.
I just have to add my two cents and point out that our team, the only one with only an American chaperone,  actually won the amazing race through the Streets of Wellington.  I was pretty proud of myself but the truth is we would have gotten quite lost if the girl's had not made me ask for directions.  It was a pretty neat week.  We slept at the zoo and actually ran in to the Prime Minister of New Zealand, John Key, in the halls of Parliament.  He actually stopped, made time for the kids and asked them questions.  Imagine that happening in the states.   Despite the fact that I spent the week with 60 pre adolescent kids and slept dorm style with 3 other snoring fathers I really had a blast.

Daddy participating in the activities!

Hello Smeagol!!!
At the Weta cave, where they did all the special effects for Lord of The Rings

The year 7 and 8's in Wellington

Lindsey getting ready to start the triathlon.

The transition area from the swim to the bikes!!

Skyler getting ready to start. 

At the finish

Proud of my girls!!

Skyler and her buddies.

Owen and Jasper
Owen has decided with a little encouragement from Dad to play Rugby this Fall. He so far is enjoying the game, the younger kids play Ripper Rugby which is no tackling. It's kinda like flag football. I am not sure who was smiling more at his first game, Owen or Brad!

Owen making a break for it

Smiling is no way to intimidate you opponent
Owen catching a wave.

Skyler has totally embraced the opportunities presented to her while living near one of the best surfing area's in the world. She has participated in 3 surf competitions this last month and placed in each of them. For her birthday last week, she wanted  a new wetsuit and  surfboard. She has impressed us with her determination and gutsy attitude. Surfing has an element to it that she is not use to in playing other sports, it's called fear. Not only is she nervous about not doing well, she is also nervous about getting pumbled by a wave, or the board smacking her in the head, or a rip carrying her out to sea. That's a lot to overcome for 10 year girl who was born and raised in the middle of the US, 18 hours from the nearest ocean. So needless to say I am bursting with pride when I see her out there catching waves.

Her first competition she got a little help from Mom, and then she kicked me out of the water  and wanted to do it herself.  I hold my breath everytime she goes out, and breath again when she is safely on shore.  

 Every year the ASP Women's World Tour comes to Taranaki. It is one of 7 stops they do around the world. The top 17 women surfer's in the world come to our beaches and battle to be #1 in the world. It is a nine day surf festival that has activities on and off the beach. Yesterday we went to watch the aerial competition, and tomorrow we head out to watch the women surf. One of the top women surfer's in the world, Paige Hareb, lives down the street from us and Skyler is hoping to get her autograph. As part of the festival they put on a microgroms competition for kid's age 12 and under and Skyler insisted on entering.  We were at the beach from 8 am to 6 pm. It was a warm blue sky day so we did not mind spending all day in the sun.  She won both her heats and made it to the finals, and placed 3rd overall out of 8 other girls. 

Heading into the water.

We all came out to watch her in the finals. 

getting a little help from Dad after the heat

her competition in the final

Receiving her medal

Her new medal!!

The Easter Bunny found us in Oakura, They all were very excited when they saw the eggs were filled with American Candy. We went to a beautiful church service at out local church. The church can probably hold about 50 people and it was filled up with local families. After the service they served Tea and biscuits, and we then all walked home. It was a lovely morning. 
Oh how I wish I could say this was Brad or me catching some waves over the weekend!!! But it was NOT. Brad could of been out there with those guys, but not me. Our house is located on an area of the beach called the Gap, which is one of the 57 famous breaks on the Surf Highway. We enjoy watching the surfers catch the waves from our living room sofa. Who needs TV???

Some kite boarders out enjoying the high winds. 
We are off the Australia and The Great Barrier Reef for the next 3 weeks. The kids are on holiday, and there is much to be explored. We hope to blog from Oz. Cheerio and Happy Easter to our Family and Friends.