Saturday, January 12, 2013

Sun, Surf and Santa

Christmas certainly has a different flavor in New Zealand. But it is still Christmas, there are friends/family gatherings, exchanges of gifts, Christmas shopping and holiday baking. And Santa will definitely be out and about in his singlet, stubbies and gumboots. We were most fortunate to have one of the hottest Christmas's on record this year. It was 30 degrees C on Christmas Eve and the same on Christmas Day. My splurge for the week was buying ice. It was so hot outside all we could think about was a tall glass of water with ice. It is rare to have a refrigerator that makes ice, and ice is usually not served in cafe's, and our freezer is so small, a bag of ice takes up half the space. So we cleared out the freezer, bought a bag of ice and felt so flash drinking our lemonade with ice cubes. Most kiwi homes do not have AC, nor heat as we all know from my previous posts, so the only way too cool off is to head to the beach for a swim in the the Tasman Sea. We found ourselves down there twice on Christmas Day just to cool off, and instead of cooking in the oven that day as it would of heated up the house,  we ended up grilling out some salmon and steaks for our Christmas dinner. It was a lovely way to spend the holidays and once again we feel very blessed and lucky to have another kiwi Christmas. However our heart does lie back in the states where we usually had a white Christmas, some skiing or sledding, warm fires in the fireplace and plenty of hot chocolate. We missed not having family around to help share in the holiday cheer. 
Cutting down our Christmas tree on a hot day, which was a new experience for us. 
Decorating our Christmas tree with the help of some friends.
Christmas breakfast on our deck.

Christmas Day
Having fun with our water proof camera.

The popular kiwi dessert- Pavlova
Making our Gingerbread house and planting flowers on the same day just did not feel right.

These are just a few pictures from Lindsey's Oakura School Graduation. The kids sitting down are the graduates. There were 18 year 8 students that graduated and will be heading on to High School this year. We are proud of Lindsey, she received her excellence awards in sports and citizenship, and was voted best athlete by her peers. This small community and small school are a perfect fit for Lindsey. Kids are more widely accepted here to be "who they want to be", not "who they feel pressure to be". The schools  in NZ with their broad range of programs really develop the students to be socially, emotionally, and academically well rounded kids. The learning environment is such that the students feel valued, confident and emotionally safe. The kids here have more time to just be kids, for example the older students still went outside 2x a day for free time. And I would watch the kids play 4 square, jump rope and different ball games. Finding a middle school back in the states where the kids still go outside for recess and the girls played jump rope would be rare.

Well our favorite time of the year has arrived, Summer, and we are down at the beach every chance we get. The kids got out of school Dec.14 and have a 7 week break. Skyler has a new found passion in surfing and asks us everyday to take her out. She is on the Oakura Microgroms Surf team. Her coach says she is one of the keenest students he has ever had. She got a new surfboard last week, and one of her goals this summer is to learn how to "duck dive".

Skyler and one of her best friends, Arianna. These two would surf morning, noon, and night  if they could.  I love it that they have each other to surf with and most of all have fun together. 
Owen decided to enter the surf competition last week and have a go. He had fun, rode his surfboard like a boogie board but managed to catch a few waves and ended up placing 3rd. Owen is full of self confidence and as a result will try anything new and have fun while doing it. 

The weather has been so fantastic that we have headed to the beach for bonfires with good friends. We found some American marshmallows in a local store, they are huge marshmallows, bigger than any I have ever seen in the states. They are perfect for roasting. Since NZ does not sell graham crackers we are not able to make smores. But we have told all our international friends about the delicious American pastime and hope to make some next month after our family brings some out to us.

This is the Kiwi ice cream truck, Mr. Kool. They sell soft serve ice cream, not Popsicles. The ice cream can be dipped into what they call sherbet, which is flavored sugar. 

We discovered a local berry farm, which is only a 20 minute drive from our house. The kids picked strawberries, raspberries and boysenberries. They were delicious, the strawberries were so sweet and juicy.  

Homemade ice cream with fresh fruit added!!

The Surf lifesaving New Year's Day Carnival. It was the perfect way to bring in the new year. 

The Miss. Taranaki Beauty Pageant

Lindsey and her buddies enjoying the carnival. 

The kids would strap on these "hamster balls" and run full steam ahead and knock each other over. It was hysterical to watch the kids clobber each other and try and get back up. 
Skyler stuck upside down after her brother knocked her over.  She was like a turtle stuck on her back, she couldnt' do anything until someone came and knocked her upright. 

This is the National IRB competition that took place at our beach this weekend. They had 3m swells to deal with so it made for some good entertainment. 
Stay warm to all our friends in the Northern Hemisphere, enjoy the football playoffs, and ski a few turns for us. Brad still follows the Broncos and tries to watch them whenever he can. It looks like the Kansas Jayhawks are prime for another amazing basketball season, and the Chiefs stink like usual. We are off to go for a surf, but first I think I'll have another cup of water with ice. Cheerio Jenny