Monday, December 16, 2013

Bits and Bobbles and Santa Clause

Brad and I were sitting at the Hasting Top ten Holiday Park this past weekend with some of the other parents from Skyler's soccer team. We were in shorts and t-shirts, as the weather was 75 degrees. The kids were busy doing their best belly flops in the pool. We were enjoying our ice cold beers, and I faintly heard some catchy music in the background. So I listened harder and heard this " I wish you a Merry Christmas..I wish you a Merry Christmas...". Brad and I turned to each other with eyes wide open and smiles on our faces. It is still a surreal feeling for us Midwest and East coast Americans to associate Christmas with warm weather. I have to constantly remind myself that it is Christmas time, and that I need to be getting ready for the Holidays. We do not have the daily reminders that the states has. There are no slavation army bell ringers at every store, homes are not decorated with red and green lights, the radio stations do not play Christmas songs, and no holiday parties at the schools. To some this may sound Bah humbug, but to others the Christmas season here is just perfect. There is nothing draining here about the Holidays. Warm weather, sunshine, the beach, and extraordinary scenery take the place of shopping and spending.  However, we do miss the exciting anticipation, and Christmas buzz that hangs in the air back home. We will be getting our fill of Christmas craziness that the states is so known for in a few days as we head back home to be with family, that we so dearly miss.

So you might be wondering what Christmas in NZ looks like. Well here is an example......

This was a trip we took last holiday break with some good friends. Kuratau, a quaint little community on the SW corner of Lake Taupo. We rented a house together and biked, hiked, ran, swam and kayaked all week long. It is a rough life we live here in NZ.

The road heading into Kuratau.

Owen and good buddy Chester  

Mt Ngauruhoe 


This was a storm we watched from the beach rolling in from the east. 

Owen riding a wave

Walking home from the beach.

Trying to get Sky back on her surf board, she has been so busy with her running and soccer that her surfboard has been collecting dust in the garage. 

Sky had her best season with cross country this year, a few first place finishes and placed in the top ten in the overall Taranaki championship

My view from one of my runs near Mt. Maunganui. 

Our annual Halloween Party was great fun. We managed to get close to 20 houses this year for the kids to trick or treat. 

Our Thanksgiving Dinner with 100 of our closest friends!! Hosted by The Viners, friends of ours that moved here from KY. 

Their new minature pony. 

Dessert table

Skylers not so normal Thanksgiving meal. Fresh strawberries, sushi, and potato casserole. 


The grommets from Boardriders. 

Lindsey and her horse Buddy.

Owen is learning how to play the electric guitar. He goes to The School of Rock. His teacher is Johnny, and the owner of the school is Rimu. If you were to look up cool in the dictionary there would be a picture of these guys. They are so positive with the kids, and encourage the kids in whatever activity they are pursuing. Owen was taking hip hop dance class last term and when these guys found out they made Owen feel so good about himself, and really encouraged him to continue. They would of said the same of any class Owen was taking, they are just that cool. The volume levels on Owen's amplifier are rock, heavy metal and insane. I kid you not. I have added ear plugs to my Christmas list. 

Sky was the MVP of the U11 Taranaki Girls Represenative Team

A view of Oakura from up above.

 These next few pictures are taken in the town of Napier, which is located on the east coast of the North Island, in the region called Hawks Bay. We went for a soccer tournament and ended up eating our way around the region. It is considered the bread basket of NZ, as well as some of the country's best wines come from here. We passed fruit/vegetable stands on many corners and the Farmer's Market was outstanding. Lot of fresh produce and gourmet foods.

Cape Kidnappers in the background. 

The town is known for its art deco buildings. There was a earthquake that leveled the town in 1933, and the town was rebuilt using art deco architecture. 

Farmers Market

The New Zealand Christmas Tree.  The Pohutakawa.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Taylor Swift

We had a quick weekend away last week in Auckland. Taylor Swift's Red tour had a stop in Auckland and it was something that we did not want to miss. My husband, the closet Taylor Swift fan was the one to let us all know a few months back that Taylor was heading our way. He knew this because he is on her fan club and gets e-mails from her weekly, don't tell anyone but he might be one of her biggest fans!
  One of my favorite things about living somewhere new is all of the "firsts" that we get to have. So going to a live concert of a big pop artist in the Southern Hempisphere was something we wanted to do as a family. It was a rockin "first", and it also brought back some great memories of our Taylor Swift concert we went to in Kansas City in 2010. I think Owen even enjoyed himself, how could he not? He was surrounded by 12,000 young beautiful girls. He did however, ask the next morning if he and Dad could could just have some "guy" time, because he was getting tired of screaming girls.
Vector Arena 

My handsome date.

 We had been to Auckland 3 times these past few years, but only to catch international flights. We were looking forward to spending a few days in the city and getting to act like tourists and enjoy the attractions and not be in a rush to catch a flight.  Auckland is a great city, it offers everything from Island hopping, and volcano hiking, to trendy neighborhoods with high end shopping. There is something for every interest in this city.
The girls and some of their friends before the concert.

We came across this Superyacht in the harbor Sunday morning. It is owned by some Russian billionaire, and cost US $350 million. The bath knobs alone cost $40,000 each! $$$$$$$$$$$

The biggest Christmas decorations we saw in Auckland. 

Who needs playgrounds, when there are trees like this to climb??

The War Memorial Museum

Taking the ferry over to the volcanic Rangitoto Island. It was only a 20 minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland. It was about a 2 hour hike to the top of the volcano, and it was an amazing 360 degree view! We then hiked down through the middle of the island to get to the volcano caves. Some were pitch black, which the kids loved until we all started hitting our heads on  overhanging rocks. Next time we will read the information pamphlet on our hike and bring a torch, like they suggested.

Energy for their hike up. These lollipops could of been in the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. They would not shrink. They lasted for over 3 hours. Owen felt he was ripped off with his candy bar, which lasted only 4 minutes.  

It is times like this, I LOVE the fact there are NO snakes in NZ. They are not even allowed in zoos. Another bonus of living here.....snake free....sweet as.

Never too old to hold hands.

This island was formed by a series of eruptions that happened 500-600 years ago. Some of the hike was on these black lava stones.