Saturday, September 29, 2012

Tea Time

We went last week to a Cafe in town for High Tea, and this is what we were served. Tea time can refer to actually sitting down and having a cup of tea with friends, and or anything that involves eating. It is a catch phrase that has many meanings. In America we say "dinner", and the English say "tea". The kids have "tea time" at school everyday, break rooms at offices are called "tea rooms", and being invited over for a "cuppa" is a remedy for all.  We have grown quite fond of the custom and find ourselves having many cups of tea throughout the day. Owen even looks forward to a cup of Old English Breakfast Tea after school, with plenty of sugar......of course. 
One of the best parts of visiting or living in a foreign country is visiting the local grocery store. Even though grocery shopping is pretty much the same everywhere in the world, there are always cultural differences that remind you you're not at home anymore. Brands and trends can be just different enough to give you a feeling of living in a small remote island in the south pacific. Some of the differences are 
Capsicum -  bell pepper

Courgette - zucchini

Kumara - sweet potato

Pie - a meat pie

Lemonade - sprite

Dairy - a convenience store

Mince - hamburger meat

Pudding - a term used for  any dessert

                                              Jelly - Jello  (So imagine how people would look at Owen when he would go over to their house and ask for a Peanut Butter and Jelly or the excitement on Owen's face when a friend ask him if he wanted some Jelly for dessert)

Lollies - candy

Biscuit - cookie

Scone - biscuit

Chips- french Fries

Crisps- potato Chips

Tomato sauce- ketchup

Candy floss - cotton candy

Grocery carts - Trundlers

The hardest difference by far has been using the metric system. When I first arrived I would ask for a "handful" of lunch meat at the deli counter, because I had no ides how many kilograms of lunch meat to order and did not want to end up with a month supply of ham.  Baking took some quick googling to find out how many grams were in a half cup of butter, or 1 cup of milk.  I understand the distances only because I run but I still have to think about it every time. I had to relearn how tall my kids are and how much they weigh.

Brad was in Christchurch on the South Island for a short spell for a meeting. These pictures are from a short road trip to Mt Hutt where he was planning on having a day of skiing.  Alas it was too windy for the lifts to run but it was a beautiful drive none the less.  
A closed Mt. Hutt
Our Neighbors pet lamb or our neighbor's entree for Christmas dinner, however you want to look at it.  It's hard to imagine eating these little guys for Christmas dinner, but that is Kiwi way of life. The McDonald's here just introduced the Lamb Burger. And their advertisement said "Mary had a little lamb, and a coke and a fries too". We laughed out loud, and thought only in NZ. They also have lamb flavored potato chips, we have yet to try them.

Uh Oh!!  0.5 seconds prior to Brad being separated from his board and being stuck on the outside trying to swim to shore with a paddle, and no board. 
Brad getting swallowed by a large wave.

The girls finished their cross country races this week. Skyler came in 26th out of 150 girls in the Taranaki cross country. She did awesome, felt good about herself. and laid it all on the line. I think she now realizes that if she wants to be a serious competitor, she has to do some more training to be able to make it to the North Island championship. Lindsey fell out of a tree last week, and cut open her arm all the way down to the muscle. Luckily we known a good American ED doc that was able to take care of her.  She was on oral antibiotics, but she still contracted cellulitis. So we ended up spending the weekend in the hospital. So Lindsey was not able to run her race. Her arm in now fine, she just gained another battle wound.  

This is my focused, and serious daughter running through the river. 

Hanging out with friends.

Skyler going over the first of two hurdles. 
We just had our first real taste of summer today. It was in the low 70's, blue sky and no wind. All of us spent the afternoon at the beach with friends surfing and catching waves. We even jumped in on a cricket game, and managed to learn a few of the rules along the way. The guy that throws the ball is called the bowler, and the guys that is hitting the ball is called the batsman. Luckily the family that we were playing with had plenty of patience with us, as I yelled out "strike" (no such thing in cricket), and Owen kept asking if he could "pitch", and one of us hollered "home run" (no such thing in cricket) after  a long hit. We signed Owen up to play cricket next term, which we are  looking forward to learning the game and using the correct lingo. The kids 3rd term just ended so they are on a two week break. And we plan on taking advantage of this time to go and explore some more of this beautiful,  and adventurous playground we get to live in. We keep hearing about a place called "Hot Water Beach", on the east coast of the north island so we are off to go play in the sand and soak up some more NZ culture. We we return they will start their 4th and final term of the year which ends the middle of December. Cheerio Jenny

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Lambing and Skiing Season

August and September mark the start of spring in NZ. But not only do we get the usual spring treats like asparagus, daffodils, and warmer winds we also get lambs. Lots of them. Cute, cuddly and very playful ones.  They are of course every where, remember there are 10 lambs to every person here. And that ratio jumps up to 35:1 during spring. A female lamb is called a ewe. And they are very protective of their young. If, for example an American with a camera jumps out of a car to take a close up photo of the babies, the mommas take off with the youngin's in tow and the photographer is left with lots of pictures of sheep's behinds. 

This is a big blue chicken looking bird that runs all over New Zealand. They are called Pekekos . They are  cool looking birds who frequently run around public parks snatching kid's lollies.  

We headed to the center of the North Island to ski on Mt.Ruapehu, which is one of 3 active volcano's. Last year we skied on the east side of the mtn. on Whakapapa (the Maori pronunciation is fakapapa) , and this time we headed to the other side to ski Turoa.  The first half of the 16km drive up to the ski area was lined with lush rain forest and Kiwi crossing signs. Then we went above the tree line and were surrounded by lava rocks and lots of snow. We were lucky and had beautiful warm weather. I noticed the signs in the bathroom that warned of the danger of volcanic eruptions and advised skiers to stay out of the valleys and head to higher ground in case of lava flow. Not a warning sign we are use to seeing, skiing in North America. I normally would not of thought much of the warning but considering that Mt. Tongariro, which is next to Mt. Ruapehu erupted on August 6, I did wonder when Turoa was going roar back to life. I knew living abroad would include some risk and challenges, but I never thought hot molten lava would be one of them. 

Mt. Ruapehu

This was the Bach we stayed in for the weekend. It is a 4 bdrm house with 1 bathroom.  After arriving we realized that there were also 18 other people ( and 3 dogs) staying at the Bach in addition to us.  My girlfriend's brother-in-law owns the Bach, and insisted we stay with them. She told us it was "cheap as chips", and there was plenty of room. The whole house was up @ 6:45 am for a warm bowl of oatmeal, and then out the door by 7:30 to catch the first chair lift up the hill. It was all about the skiing, no frills, no fluff, just ski. It was a great weekend, the other house guests were kind, and the skiing was decent. It reminds us of east coast skiing. Plenty of ice and skiing above tree line. There were quite a few other Oakura families skiing as well, which was a novelty for my kids to get to ski with their friends. Lindsey spent most of Saturday cruising the mountain with two buddies, she was thrilled. 
This is the Opunake Carrot. It is on the New Zealand Monopoly game (Baltic Place), so we HAD to have a picture of this prime real estate!

This is Mt.Taranaki seen from the distance.

The kids had their
 school cross country race a few weeks ago. Last year we giggled at all the kids who did not wear shoes, and as you can see my kids are barefoot as well. They insist they run faster, an it just saves me from hanging up 3 more pairs of socks to dry. The kids have fully embraced this easy, laid back lifestyle and are quite enjoying it. Both girls came in first so we are off to regionals next Tuesday.

A proud Mom and Dad

This was a Police challenge Course. Each school picked a few teams and competed against each other at the YMCA. It was an obstacle course that teams of 4 raced through, hoping to get the best time. Oakura school did well but did not make it into the final round. It was a bit of a quirky event, but the kids had fun especially when some parents volunteered to do the course. 

Brad looking for some waves.

Happy Birthday Big O! I Love you to the moon and back!!