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Monday, June 30, 2008

Net Ball



There are different sports in New Zealand and I play a sport called Netball!  Damon plays a normal old sport, soccer, but he also plays squash which is not a normal old sport!  And Maddie does not play a normal sport either - she does  rowing!!!  Netball is sort of like basketball but it's not basketball there are different rules!!!  When we play netball we wear skirts.  Even the professionals play in skirts.  In netball there are a lot of different positions like wing defense and goal keep.  They write the position on your shirt with WD or GK but trust me that's not all the positions - there are a lot more but I have no idea what they are!  The main idea is to get the ball and make a goal.  You can't run or move with the ball, you can't dribble the ball and you can only have the ball for three seconds.  You do not want the other team to get the ball but once you get the ball you want to throw it to another person on your team then get it closer and closer to your goal.  When you're in one position, like center, you can go everywhere except for in the goal ring, which is the place that has the hoop in it. Only four people can go in the goal ring.   If you're goal keeper you can go in - in fact you have to stay in there the whole time!  I am the position where you can't go in any of the goal rings and I can go any where else.  I am not center I don't know what I play!!!  And that's all I know about netball!!!!!
-Elena

Making The Rounds


My day starts at about 8:30 on the ward at the hospital with rounds on my patients. I share this duty with the other doc in my practice, Rafik. Rafik is Jerry Lewis meets Marcus Welby in Egypt. He is serious momentarily, but in the blink of an eye is sidling up to one of the nurses to make her laugh, or he’s welcoming one of the housekeeping staff back from a week off with a big hug. He can’t stand silence and next to that he hates a straight face.

We make our rounds, visiting any from our practice that may have been admitted overnight. We see all ages and a cornucopia of problems. Rounds usually take me a bit of extra time because I’m trying to translate NZ terminology. I’ve got the drug book out to find their name for the med I want or my Palm Pilot to calculate whether the patient’s iron is low. I never had to think about the units our lab at home uses, but where we in the US might use milimoles per deciliter they use micrograms per picoliter. “I don’t know if you’re anemic or not Mrs. LavuLavu, I’m still trying to figure out what the heck a picoliter is.”

There are no peds nurses, cardiac care nurses or general medical nurses—if she’s a nurse, she’s all of the above. You’ve gotta hand it to these ladies, they where all the hats. Right now I rely on them to keep me on the right track—I’ve got a lot of adjustments to make. There are a few other docs in town. Three of them are permanent, and a fourth is another locum from the States. I’ve already nominated the permanent docs for sainthood for their patience in answering all of my questions. I just don’t know stuff like how to administer chemotherapy or transfer a patient by helicopter (Ha, yeah, you think it sounds scary!)

I have to laugh at what a melting pot the place is. Of course there are Kiwis running around, but it’s all the other variations on the English accent that amaze me. The nurse in charge is Hilary. She’s a Brit and she don’t take no crap…or marmalade, or whatever they won’t take in England. Then there’s a really nice lady from Scotland. I haven’t the faintest idea what her name is, because it was Rafik who made the introductions and to him she’s “The Duchess” because her husband’s name is Duke. She’s 60-something and her brogue’s so thick you could slice it and put it on bread. Madonna is Philipino but has the nicest kiwi accent you ever heard. One of the nurses’ aids is from Samoa, and she sounds just like me. It all makes my head spin.

By 9:15 I’m down on the first floor where my clinic is, making instant coffee to start the day. (Dude, I told you--I’m suffering here. Doesn’t the Red Cross make air drops anymore?)

Friday, June 27, 2008

the Marae



Today I had the privilege of being invite to a morning at the marae.  The marae is a Maori meeting house.  It is a place where the Maori culture can be celebrated, the language spoken, inter tribal obligations met and family occasions such as weddings and funerals can be held.  You can not enter the marae without an invitation.  There are 33 marae in the Wairoa area.  The Maori attend a marae based on family history rather than geography.  A nurse from Chad's office invited me to attend a Sr. citizens meeting with her.  We drove a little out of town and arrived at the marae.  People were arriving and greeting one another with a hongi.  The hongi is the traditional Maori greeting.  Men touch foreheads and noses while women touch cheeks and kiss.  This is only done on one side unlike the french kiss on each cheek.  As we were milling around kissing one another a man called out in Maori  song from inside the fence.  He was answered by a woman outside the gate with another song.  A short time back and forth in song and we were invited into the marae.  We entered under a carved arch.  The center of the carving was a mask representing the original chief of the marae.  The carvings on each side represent different families of importance.  It was painted red and white.  We went in and sat on benches along the outside fence.  The men sat on the front bench with the women seated behind.  The formal part began with a welcome and a song.  Then the Catholic priest from Wairoa spoke.  Another song and then a man got up and spoke.  This man gave the recent birth, death and wedding announcements as well as other happenings going on in the area.  All of this was done in Maori so later the women explained what had been said to me.  This all took about 45 min.  My favorite part was the singing.  Some songs were just sung by the 5 men and women in front and some were joined by everyone else.  The singing was accapella and the blending of voices was beautiful.  There was a festivity to their singing.  The songs were folk songs telling of the history of the Maori people.  So after the welcome, announcements, message and singing we were now allowed to go into the meeting hall.  On the way in we went through a reception line of the leaders and had to do hongi with them.  The meeting hall had another more elaborately carved entrance.  The marae we were at was very unique because of the fact that it was a Christian marae.   The Catholic church started and runs this marae.  The carvings to the hall then told the story of the beginning of this marae.  The eagle at the top is the New Zealand eagle (now extinct)  with its wings spread over the entrance representing God.  The gold paint throughout also is a reference to God.  On the right are a Catholic Priest and Nun who came to evangelize New Zealand.  On the left are traditional Maori carvings with references to Christianity in them.  The rib carvings on the ceiling are representative of the ribs of a whale.  The hall was set up with tables to eat at.  The food was rather continuous throughout the morning.  There were scones with lots of butter on them, grilled cheese and onion sandwiches, more sandwiches, split pea soup and pumpkin soup, cookies and tea to drink.  Being a Sr. citizens meeting, blood pressure was taken, a health talk given and we had a  session of stretching.  Conversation was lively wandering to different topics including health ailments and the electric scooter several women were  considering buying to help with getting around!  We did an interesting small group exercise brainstorming on how to save energy and save on groceries due to the rising cost in each.  As women were saying things like "cook a meal on the wood burning stove"  or "use a hot water bottle in bed instead of using the electric blanket" or "grow, shoot and home make" your food, I was thinking "All I want to do is keep the fire going for one whole day without it going out so I can stay warm!"  I really enjoyed my time with these women as they shared their cultural heritage with me.  They have invited me to come again next month, so I am looking forward to getting to know them better.
No worries - Kris

$$$$$


An interesting thing when you go to any new county is its money.   The money here is no exception.  The smallest coin here is not 1 cent, but 10 cents.  Going up from 10 cents it goes 20 cents then 50 cents.  Another interesting thing is that their lowest bill is the 5 dollar bill.  Because they do not have a 1 dollar bill they have a 1 dollar coin, and a 2 dollar coin (which I like better than the bill).  But the real thing to get used to here with money would be Swedish rounding.  Swedish rounding is a system they use under which items at the store are still marked 93 cents or 57 cents even when they don't have a coin to use to pay the extra cents.  Since they don't have any 1 cent coins to pay it off with they round up or down depending on the cost of the item.
- Damon

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wood for the Fire


When we first got to New Zealand there wasn't very much wood in the garage.  There were about three long, tall stacks.  We used those up quickly!  A few days ago, we just got like, five more stacks about the same size.  Damon, Elena and I did a lot of unloading and stacking it.  Mom came and helped after finishing the laundry.  Elena, Mom and I carried wood to Damon so that he could stack it.  Without thinking we put those logs in front of the few older logs we had left.  When we put a few of the new logs in the fire, the logs didn't start very well!  The wood turned out to be a little wet.  We were cold in our house while we tried the new wood out.  So finally Damon and I had to make a small opening in the wood pile to get to the dry wood.  
-Maddie

Monday, June 23, 2008

New Zealand words


New Zealand is a different place than America and it has different words too.  When people are talking it is hard to understand not just because of their accent but also because of the different words too!  For an example when I was talking to my friend I asked her if she would hold the string for me so that I could braid the string together she said that they called it a plat, but she still held the string for me nicely while I braided it!!!  In school I was helping my friend with a project and I asked her if she would like to have some bangs and she did not know what I was talking about so I showed her what I meant and she said we call it fringe! On the first weekend I was not in school I had my friend and her sister over.  We were playing kings and queens.  Finally I asked them if they wanted to jump rope but they did not call it jumping rope they called it skipping so we went and skipped!!!  When I was in school one day the teacher was at the front of the classroom.  I was writing in my book and I made a mistake.  I asked my friend for an eraser she gave me a normal eraser but she said it was called a rubber.  I took the rubber from her and used it to erase my mistake!  I was in my school and my friend and I were outside making sure that no one did anything to my paper-mache.  A lot of people came up to us and asked us what was inside of it.  I said candy and my friend said "yes it's lollies inside" (that's when I found out that candy were lollies).  I knew it was not true - we were just making it up!  But I soon got sick of it and we finally we wanted them to go away (well at least I did) so I said that there was just paper inside of it!  My dad got invited to a rugby game and the lady that invited him said that Damon could go too.  When they got there they soon found out that the games were not called a game it was called a test!  Before we got to New Zealand we already knew a couple of words that would be different here and the words were:  
biscuits=cookies 
chips=fries
scone=biscuits.
Our family started telling each other what words we found out that were different than our own words so my mom got the idea to start a list of words that were different.  These are some that came from other people in the family:
ice blocks=popsicle
jersey=wool sweater
togs=swimsuit
chile bin=X box
jandels=flip fops
meanest=cool
ring=call
lollie pop=sucker
rubbish bin=trash bin (you would find out right away)
growl=scolding!
Those are all the ones we know right now.
-Elena

Friday, June 20, 2008

Tea


I am learning that there are many meanings to the word "tea" here in New Zealand.  Damon went to squash practice the other afternoon with a friend from school.  The mother rang me and asked if I would mind if she picked up some fish and chips for Damon's tea.  In a bit of confusion I said this would be fine.  Listening closer as people are talking I have found that "supper" is referred to as "tea".  
Another reference to tea would be "morning tea".  I have had several invitations to morning tea and this is a somewhat formal affair.  I have been assured that Kiwis are very informal and relaxed with their tea, yet each time it has been a treat for me. Cups and saucers are matched with place mats and napkins.  Sugar and cream are set out with the tea.  Then the food is brought in.  Little sandwiches, sweet breads, crackers with hot sauce and cheese, and biscuits (cookies).  A little sweet and a little salt.   Conversation during tea is polite and cheerful.  One must be a master at small talk. 
Another form of tea is when one just pops over to a friend's or neighbor's house during the day or evening and you are offered a cup of tea.  This is a very relaxed time. Put as much sugar in your tea as you like and conversation gets to the heart of the matter, no pretenses here.   I decided to give this a try one day when a neighbor stopped in.  I offered her a cup of tea and some cookies I had made.  "God you're domestic" was her comment.  I found her to be a rather colorful woman as we continued in conversation.  No pretenses here.
I am enjoying my tea with lots of sugar as I learn that different types of people need different formats of finding common ground.  Some people are just built with a formality and others have no pretense.  
Tea for all.
No worries - Kris

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Snow days?


As you all know we don't have snow here so we can't have a snow day.  It's winter here but when I heard at we would never get a snow day and I was not to happy about that!  So we're in school most of the time, but that's not true today.   We have broken chimney days!!!  I go to Tiaho primary, Maddie and Damon go to the Wiroa collage.  Yesterday the chimney broke so I can't go to school today while they are fixing the chimney because all the classrooms would be freezing.
-Elena


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Macadamia Nuts


The macadamia nuts are originally from Australia.  We have a macadamia tree in our back yard. We had to pick up all the fallen nuts off the ground and take off the green husk then put them in a warm, dry, place (our kitchen) to dry the nut and make it shrink away from the shell a little so we could crack open the shell and hopefully get a whole nut.  The shells are very hard.  After the nuts hung for a couple of days, we took them down and started cracking them open.  Damon, Dad, Elena, and I  took half a log, put the nut on it, took a smaller log and hit the nut until it cracked open.  We tried to get whole round meat out.  We didn't get a lot of whole ones.  I tried the meat not roasted, but it wasn't that good.  My dad roasted the meat in oil in the oven.  I tried them after that and they were better.
-Maddie

Monday, June 16, 2008

Wairoa




Wairoa is the town that we live in and there are a lot of very, very different things than in the U.S.A!   Wairoa is a very small town it only has 5,000 people.  50% of the people here are Maori.  A river is running right through the middle  of the town.   The river leads right to the ocean and on the other sides there are mountains! By the river there is a lighthouse but it's quite small!!  Downtown runs right along the river.  There is everything you need down there and it's within walking distance of our house.  Some of my favorite shops downtown are of course the ice cream shop and the bakery!!!  The bakery "Oslers" has won lots of awards.  I like living here and I really enjoy it!!!!
-Elena

Sunday, June 15, 2008

watching rugby on a Saturday night




My dad got invited come watch rugby at someone's house on Saturday.  When Saturday came I went to watch my first real rugby test (they call a game a test).  The lady whose house we went to was wearing an All Blacks jersey.  It was England against the All Blacks (New Zealand's team).  During the game I asked a lot of questions to get a better idea of how to play rugby.  In New Zealand there is no point in asking who will win the test if the All Blacks are playing.  The answer will always be the All Blacks no matter what!  Before the test started England had people dressed up as knights and pretending to fight,  what the All Blacks did is called the Haka.  The Haka is a Maori war dance.  I am not sure if they really the dance for culture or if they just do it freak the other team out.  If you ever see your opposing team do this dance run!  Over all, the game was good the All Blacks won by about 10-20 points.

-Damon

To check out the Haka that they did during the test I watched- click on the ? box at the top.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Dump



This may seem like an odd thing to talk about but it is actually going to be a small part of my life here.  Garbage removal, or rather rubbish removal comes one time a week.  You purchase small garbage bags, put your garbage in them and put them on your curb for removal - the same as in the states.  This is a very costly way to take care of your rubbish, so many people, myself included, take their rubbish to the dump.  The dump is a very interesting place.  It is very orderly.  As I drove in on the right there was a large pile of scrap metal things like old gutted cars and appliances.  It appears they recycle the metal.  Next I came to the recycle center where you could get out of your car with your recycling and throw each item into the appropriate bin:  Brown & green glass, clear glass, milk jugs, clear food plastic, cleaning containers, paper, cardboard.  They take only 1 & 2 plastics.  From there I continued down the road until I got to a hut with a large scale next to it.  I drove onto the scale and they weighed my car.  Then they waved me on to  another guy walking around who pointed to a wall and said "You may throw your rubbish over the wall."  So I drove up to the wall, got out of my car and looked over the edge.  Sure enough about 6' down was a freshly plowed area to throw my rubbish.   I looked to my left and saw a field of everyone else's rubbish.  I went to the trunk popped it open and threw my rubbish over the wall.  As I was throwing I noticed a large flock of seagulls fly up off the rubbish field.  Some things are the same any place you go!  I was very aware of the smell while I was doing this.  I was actually surprised because I did not get a Coopersville dump smell, rather I could smell the fresh earth mixed with a light garbage smell.  I got in my car and drove back to the hut and drove my car back onto the scale. The man said "$1.30 today for your load of rubbish."  As I drove away I pondered how efficient and inexpensive this system is.  In striking contrast to the large bin overflowing each week system, it encourages people to recycle because there is no cost for recycling whereas you are very aware of how much you are putting into the environment.  It does help to have to look at your rubbish every few weeks! 
No worries - Kris

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Weather


We live in the southern hemisphere so it's winter and you are all wondering what the weather is like here so I have the right answers for you!!! The weather here is pretty cold for winter but not quite like the winter in MI.  In the morning there could be ice on the car window.  I wear my sweatshirt to school and I'm still cold.  By morning tea I'm normally ready to take my sweatshirt off.  Around 4:00 it begins to cool down again.  When I read at home sometimes I do it in my bedroom.  I get in my bed and I always get under my covers to read, so it is at least cold enough for me to wear my covers.  The family room and the kitchen are the warmest rooms because those are the two rooms that have fireplaces in them!  The hall, the bathroom, and the showering room plus all of are bedrooms are the coldest rooms in the house!  We haven't had summer here yet so I don't know what the weather will be like - at least warm enough to be swimming in a in an outdoor swimming pool at school!
-Elena

This Explains Iowa




My initial impression of this place is that it's ridiculously beautiful. Once you get a look at it the subject is barely even debatable—not really, unless you're just a grinch opposed to the idea that anyone should ever be happy and that puppies are soft and cuddly. I find it hard to put into words. It borders on the ridiculous. You almost getting tired of hearing yourself say “Holy cow, that’s gorgeous!” Surely there must be somewhere in the world that is scenic-ly challenged because New Zealand got more than its share.

Hills are the major topographical feature; there is little flat to the land at all. Much of it is used for farming and the hills are not spared from grazing. This leads to an interesting impression that isn't immediately on one's conscious upon taking in the beauty (indeed, it's a major factor in the beauty): every thing, even in the most remote mountains and steepest hills (sparing only sheer cliffs) has the appearance of newly manicured lawns. And it is fairly literally that. Cows get what little level ground there is, sheep help with that and chew the hillsides, while goats are seen picking their way along steep, craggy and scree-strewn mountainsides. Driving through the roughest terrain the view is rolling hills with mown grass and no weeds. Rocky outcroppings and tall ornamental plants growing wild add to the natural beauty while small meandering streams are absolutely everywhere. Just when you think you can’t see a prettier scene, you round a bend and between two of these mind-bogglingly beautiful hills is a view of the sea. I think this must be the birthplace of the postcard.

And some mundane reaction like “Holy cow that’s gorgeous!” just doesn’t cut it. Not in New Zealand. This calls for more than your run-of-the-mill compliment. I seem to recall David out of the Bible gyrating half-naked in the streets to celebrate one particularly momentous event. Now that’s more like it! His wife thought his reaction was ridiculous, but how does one underline something really, really awesome? How about singing at the top of your lungs or dancing naked... All of which explains why I think that Damon’s first reaction was really a pretty good one. After a couple hours of taking in your fill of beauty, beauty and then another heaping helping of more gorgeous beauty, you’ve got to let it out somehow.
- Chad

Sunday, June 8, 2008

My New School


Every one knows that changing schools can be hard, now imagine changing schools internationally.  The knew school that I am now going to is different from my old school in so many different ways.  At Baldwin Street Middle School (my old school) you would change classes for every subject, here at Wiaroa College for some subjects you change classes and some subjects you don't.  The people here think differently than we do, one girl at school did not even bring any shoes or socks to school, even though she got in trouble. That's the way people do things around here.  On the first day of school I think I did pretty well, I made a friend (I think?!?), and I got all the work done that I was supposed to.  A couple hours into the day we went out side for tea break, the thing is no one had tea.  It was like recess for only a half an hour and people ate food during it.  Then a couple hours after that we had lunch, which is outside and lasts about an hour.   During the lunch period I played a game with some kids and a soccer ball.
-Damon

The Tiaho primary school


The Tiaho primary school is the school that I go to.  I like the school and I made new friends very quickly.  My friend's name is Isabella and her sister - which I don't really remember her name.  Maddie does not go to my school which I'm really not use to!  In school we do spelling, assemblies, Phys-Ed and more, so there are not many different things!!!  At the end of the day we played something kind of like hangman and a memory game! For spelling we got homework already but it wasn't exactly for only spelling it was more like a mix with spelling, math, riddles, a word search and a thing where you try to figure out who had what car!!  In my class room we have to take our shoes off and we don't have assigned desks. Some people sit on the floor and some people sit in desks but you can switch everyday.  Today I sat on the floor.  And because we don't have our own desks we each have a little box for all our stuff!  In the morning we have morning tea but it's not what you think we don't have tea in the morning we have a snack it's kind of like a morning snack except the whole school and at the same time!  When we get something like homework or any papers you go right to your back pack and put it in because we don't have mail boxes to put everything in!!!  Everyone noticed my accent and tried to copy it!  When we talk to our teacher we never called her by her last name like you normally would, we called her Miss!!!   When it was lunch time we went to get our lunches and then we went outside to eat our lunch.  We had no reading time in school but the day flew by today because I love my new school!!!!
-Elena

Wairoa college


  Elementary School=Primary School,  College=University,  Middle School=College, isn't that weird?
  When I got to Wairoa college my teacher showed me a group of girls.  She told me their names, but I don't remember.  We went in the class room and I found a seat and a place to put my backpack.  I sat down and put my stuff in a bin with my name on it.  The first subject we did was Maths.  First she held cards up with addition problems like, 99+99 or 14+14.  We wrote down the answers on a sheet of paper.  We also did a work sheet with drawing 3D shapes, then naming the shapes (they did something else, she had to see where I was).  Then we went to computers and wrote a story.  We went back and ate a snack. (they actually call snack morning tea.)  The girls bombarded me with questions.  Then I went to sewing. I sewed dots on a paper without the thread to see the patterns.  I made curvy lines and straight lines.  We got back and read a story about something and we had to do a paper on it.  Finally, we went to lunch!  Most people just had an apple or crackers, but I had a sandwich and a carrot.  We went back in and went to art.  Damon came out of the classroom we were going to go in.  I waved.  Immediately the girls asked who he was.  We drew suns with lots of designs and kept being warned to be quiet.  At the end of art we had to be quiet for four minutes.  I was one of the first to get dismissed.  I got outside and my mom took pictures.  Damon, my mom and I went home.

-Maddie

Saturday, June 7, 2008

What our house is like



Many of you have asked what our house is like so I thought I would give you a rather generic view of our house to fill in any gaps that the kids may have left out.
Our house is located at the end of a cul-de-sac.  It is a white painted -  wood sided house.  You pull into a 2 car garage (which we don't actually park the car in, rather the wood is stacked there and Chad will be adding some exercise stuff), walk under a nice car port (which also has a long clothes line in it) to the door.  If you go to the left before entering into the house, there is a locked room which is our laundry room.  The washing machine is in there (no dryer) and it smells clean like laundry soap.  If you go to the right you come into the house via the kitchen.  The kitchen has cork floors (this reminds us of our bedroom in Redford).  The sink has a fabulous bay type window, the refrigerator beeps if you leave it cracked open and there is a dishwasher (which is apparently a rarity around here).  The wood burning stove also heats the water for the house.  The dining room is attached, and to the right is a large sliding door which goes into the family room.  This is a nice spacious room with another wood burning stove.  The t.v. is in here as well as the computer and wii!    There is a large glass door wall leading to the front yard area.  Our family is spending all of our time in these two rooms.  Off the dining area is another sliding door (which we keep closed to save the heat) which leads to the hall.  All of the rooms are on the left of the hall, and the right wall has large windows and sliding doors to the front yard area.  The first room  you come to is the bathroom which has a shower, bathtub (where we keep all our dirty clothes) and the sink.  In the next room you will find the toilet.  Continuing down the hall you have the girls' room (which is smaller than their room in Hudsonville), Damon's room (same size as the girls') and then our bedroom is at the end of the hall.  Because the house is an "L" shape, the front yard has this cozy bricked area with an arbour overhead and a flowering tree.  This is the area the sliding doors all lead to and I can just imagine some nice summer evenings hanging out with friends in this space!  The backyard isn't huge but we have a lemon tree, 2 mandarin tree, an orange tree, a grapefruit tree, a fig tree and a macadamia nut tree.  There is also a nice vegetable garden spot.  There are geranium plants and rose bushes everywhere.  It is very beautiful.
I hope this walk through gave you a good idea of what our house is like!
No worries - Kris

American Pop Culture


I'm standing the in gas station waiting for the kids to finish using the restroom.  Evanescence is playing overhead as I begin glancing at the magazine rack.  The New Zealand tabloids pop out at me.  I guess I won't be loosing touch with how Brad & Angie's marriage is doing, Brittany's parenting skills or Lindsey's drug rehab.  We walk across the street to an appliance store.  Twenty t.v.'s in front of me have George Clooney doing something or another.  Leaving America  I was hoping I would be leaving behind many influences of American pop culture but rather I find that American pop culture is shaping the world. Think about the shows you watch on t.v., the movies you go to and the songs you listen to then translate that into what the world views as every American's way of life.  It's too bad Hollywood is the most accessible part of America.  Gladly my life in America was not like that of t.v.
No worries - Kris

Thursday, June 5, 2008

What We Do During The Day


  During the day, I read a lot.  Damon and Elena usually ask can you play Simon Says with us?  Or Can you play the blindfold game?  But my answer is usually no.  Sometimes we watch a movie or play a game.  We also go to the ice cream store and there is a museum we are going to visit sometimes I help set the table or stir something for my mom.  Sometimes I go on the the computer and check my email.  In the mornings Damon, Elena, and I bring in wood from the garage for the fire.  Damon always puts logs in the fires.

-Maddie

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Beach


We live in a town that is right by the mouth of a river that empties into the ocean. So obviously we are really close to the ocean and can go to the ocean almost when ever we want to. So recently we have gone to the ocean a number of times. The real reason we go so many times is because my sisters have their own dreams of finding gigantic sea shells. But any way the beaches here are pretty cool. At one beach the sand grains were 3 times the size of normal ones and were black which looked pretty cool, and felt totally different when you walked on them. At another beach The waves were at least 6-8ft tall and there were surfers riding in side them. Then at the beach were we got mom's "lollie cake" we went out on the rocks in the water trying to stay on top of them (because we were not wearing swim suits). When we got on some of the rocks that were farther out on in the ocean the big waves started to come and we had to quickly hop from rock to rock trying not to get wet, but the waves were to high and we got our shoes wet. When we were getting in the car to go back home my sister let out a quick scream we looked and in the handle on the inside of the car door was a crab about the size of a quarter maybe a little bit bigger. We will probably have many more of these mini adventures at the beach and I will try to right about them right after it happens.
- Damon

Uniforms

At my new school we have uniforms, on Wed. we went and got our uniforms! First we went to the college for Maddie and Damon. Damon went first to try on his uniform! So he tried on the shorts "mmm...I don't know." So he went back in the dressing room and tried on the pants "hmm they're better than the shorts". But I could tell by the sounds he was making he still didn't like it but he got them anyway!
Next Maddie went she obviously wanted the skirt, so she went into the dressing room to try it on. She liked it so she got the skirt. You can tell it's easy for girls to make up their minds!!!
After we finished with them we went to Tiaho, my school, to get my uniform. It was really easy for me because I had no choice of what to get. I got nothing like their uniforms just a shirt a sweatshirt and sweatpants!! My brother was not happy with his uniform he liked my uniform much more but he still has to wear his uniform to school everyday!!!!!
-Elena

Driving

Driving on the wrong, I mean left side of the road has been a bit interesting. Chad had to throw himself right into it picking up the rental car in downtown Aukland. As the passenger there were times during the drive here that I felt as though I was going to fall off the road and would need to remind him to get a little more towards the center. I started out driving right here in Wairoa. A nice little town to practice in. Not only are the cars on the opposite side of the road, the steering wheel is on the opposite side as well as the turn signal control. In the effort to concentrate on the side of the road we are driving on we don't think about the turn signals, so inevitably when we stop to turn we put the windshield wipers on instead of the turn signal! Chad makes a little "Urgh" sound. One time I was doing some errands. I went back out to the car and got in. I sat there a moment before realizing that I was sitting in the passengers seat and was obviously not going to get anywhere! I felt like a fool getting out of the car and going around to the driver's side. The first few days when I was driving I would repeat to myself "stay on the left, stay on the left". Then it petered down to just when I was turning " get in the left lane, get in the left lane." Yesterday I had a lot on my mind with registering the kids for school and getting uniforms and school supplies so my mind wasn't really on the left lane thing. Next thing you know I was driving in the right lane. About scared the kids to death! I still need to repeat "stay in the left lane"! We are starting to make fewer mistakes and begining to look like locals, but for today I think the kids and I will walk to the library!
No Worries - Kris

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Lollie Cake


One of the things about traveling is the new food one will encounter. I take a risk each time you eat outside my own home. The fear of "Will I like this or will they cook with mayonnaise?" runs through my mind. There are always the good surprises of finding new things I like - such as a fish boil! Part of the adventure is the food. Each coffee drink that I have ordered has put Starbucks to shame. A mocha here is a work of art. Layers of coffee, chocolate and cream, foam on the top and a perfect swirl are a work of art. One does not gulp down this type of drink so I sit and enjoy it. This is a good lesson for me to learn. There have been things that I have not liked so well such as the sandwich with "salad" on it. When I asked what "salad" was they said "lettuce, tomato and carrot". OK, I can handle that - they forgot to mention the beets. Then there was the sandwich where I explained that I wanted it plain, no sauces or spreads. They put butter on it. These aren't big deal things, I just like to enjoy my food. On the Queen's birthday we took a drive to the town with the beach. There is only one restaurant there. The fish and chips were fabulous! On the counter was a glass case with some interesting looking cake in it. When I asked what it was the waitress said "Lollie Cake". We ordered a piece and tried it out. It is a very sweet, heavy cake with pastel colored circus peanuts in it. I am not kidding - circus peanuts! The name just fits the happiness of this desert to a tee. I can't believe I didn't think of this fabulous concoction first!
- Kris

Monday, June 2, 2008

Sports in NZ

New Zealand is very much like Great Britain in a way. They have an accent much like there's, they drive on the wrong side of the road, but they also play some of the same sports.  Soccer we all know about, but rugby and cricket a lot of people don't know anything about them. I will start with cricket because that is the one I know most about. Cricket is kind of like baseball, someone throws a ball you try to hit it away and then run. Cricket also has its differences though, you use a flat bat and the person who throws the ball is called the bowler, when the bowler bowls the ball he has to keep his arm strait when he throws it. The bowler tries to knock over the three of the pegs that are standing there behind the person with the bat. In order to switch the bowlers team to batter he has to hit over all three pegs. Rugby as far as I know is a very complicated sport(which I don't know much about), it's like foot ball with no pads and they almost never stop play. If you want to see one of these sports in action go to www.youtube.com and search one of these sports.

- Damon

Letter 2

Dear Friends,
The first letter sent was written in an internet cafe (my first experience). This second is from my own kitchen, although not on my own computer. My new next door neighbor has been kind enough to let us borrow her laptop for a few days until we can figure out internet on our own. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
The drive from Aukland to Wairoa took 8 hrs. Chad said the last 3 hrs. were some of the most intense driving he had ever done. Add to this the whole left side of the road thing and we were all exhausted when we arrived. Damon and Elena did not do so well with the ride. Seven hrs. into it Damon rolled down his window and puked. On one side of the road was a rock wall and the other side a cliff so there was no place to pull over. I believe an angel was with us along the way. I have never known a mini van to make it 8 hrs. with 750# of luggage, 5 people and 2 bike boxes strapped to the roof on one tank of gas. During the first 4 hrs of the trip there were towns all over the place although none of them were on the map. The second 4 hrs. did not have one town or gas station. The last 30 min. of the trip I was in constant prayer that we would make it as the fuel light had already been on for 30 min. We arrived exhausted and hungry. We stopped at the hospital but they couldn't get a hold of anyone to tell us where the house was or let us in. They sent us to "Funky Food" (I'm serious - that's really the name!) the only place in town still open (it was only 6:30 pm) to get a bite to eat. Someone from the hospital found us there and took us to our new home. Looking at the house by the headlights as we pulled in I said to Chad "We're going to live in a single wide mobile home". Jim showed us in, handed us the keys and left. I looked around and wanted to sit down and cry. The wall paper is from the 60's, the carpet is worn and from the 70's, and the curtains don't match and are from the 80's. The cold water in the bathroom doesn't work, the toilet paper holder is 1/2 falling off the wall and the fridge and drawers are filled with 75% consumed food. I pulled myself together - more for the kids than for myself - brought in the luggage and got everyone into bed. Oh, did I mention that it's winter here and the houses don't have central heat? We started the wood burning stoves but it has taken 2 days to not see our breath in the house.
The next morning we got up and had a good look around. The outside is quite charming. It is a wood sided house painted white. There is a pretty arbor in the front yard with a flowering tree in the middle of it making a nice canopy of shade (Holly - I will try to send you a picture of it, you'll love it!) In the back yard there is a place for a garden, 1 orange tree, 2 mandarin trees, 1 lemon tree & a grapefruit tree. There is also a grape vine. We are mostly unpacked and I have cleaned out most of the kitchen. Chad says he doesn't see the ugly wallpaper anymore and that it now feels like home. I still do. I haven't allowed myself to think of all I have left to do this.
We have gotten to know our next door neighbor, Jackie, a bit. She took me to the grocery store yesterday and has answered lots of questions. I look forward to getting to know her better.
We are doing well and adjusting. God is helping me to see this house as a home. I will write more of our experiences in a few days. Oh, for those of you who were at the airport, could you send me some pictures as my camera card is somehow not working?
No Worries,
Kris & family

The House That We Live In


When we first came to the house that we live in, it was so cold we could see our breath! We quickly made a fire in the fire place, which warmed up the house. We explored and these are the rooms we found. A room for my mom and dad, a room for my Damon, and a room with a small bed for Elena and I. There is also a kitchen, a living room a bathroom and a laundry room. We have an orange tree, a lemon tree, a grapefruit tree and two mandarin trees. Elena and I sleep in the warm living room, we thought our room was too cold (it also had a few spiders in it). The living room has two big, comfy chairs and a couch. We also have a TV. The chairs in the dining room are very comfy chairs, they are bouncy. Eventually the house warmed up. We spend a lot of time in the kitchen and living room, because those rooms are actually warm. The cold water doesn't work on the bathroom sink. We make a lot of lemonade. Yum!
- Maddie

Our new house

I like our new house because we have two fires one in the kitchen and one in the living room plus it keeps the house nice and cosy. When we first got to the house we could see our breath because the fire wasn't going good enough to warm the house. Having two fires in the house is nice but it's also a lot of work, you have bring in wood everyday from the garage-brrrr!! My mom and dad share a room, my brother gets his own room and my sister and me share a room but we sleep in the living room until we get another bed or a bigger bed for our room. The backyard is my favorite part because we have a grapefruit tree, a orange tree, a lemon tree, two mandarin trees and grape vines so we can make lemonade, orange juice, grape juice and in the house there were Popsicle makers so we can use those! The house is old, the carpet doesn't match with the wallpaper or the curtains because nothing matches!
- Elena

Fire sale; hit by a bus; vomit on the mountain

I heard somewhere that the best place to begin is at the beginning. This story would be much more boring if we did that, so we'll begin somewhere about May, 2008. We'd already made most of our friends and family think we're crazy by announcing we were moving to New Zealand. Packing two bags apiece was not easy, but it was teaching that less is more (still not sure I understand the concept, but hey--who said you have to understand your credo?)

Anyway, we unofficially put everything we owned into one of three categories: pack, store or fire sale! Some of our friends and family were even more sure we'd lost it but didn't care when they started benefiting from our mania. We had garage sales, gave away perfectly good goods (some of which I miss at this very moment), and piled our storage unit to the brim with stuff. All in the name of getting everything into one of those three categories (is there anything more satisfying than putting everything into categories?)

At the last moment it wasn't all done, so we just left and a couple of guys emailed us later saying they "took care of it". There was a goodbye fest at the airport where some of those gathered looked sad to see us go! We were sad, but remarked later how amazed we were that we had spent our emotional allowance and had the ironic urge to get on a plane and run rather than embrace and cry with those we felt we missed already.

The plane eventually left (we made a fake to the wrong terminal, but the friendly airport staff noticed and redirected us from the "Bahamas" terminal to the "other end of the earth" terminal) with us on it. In Denver we planed, then were told to deplane because someone had driven a baggage bus into the plane. Yes, I know it sounds funny to you. But that was the beginning of a very long night for us. We laid on the floor in Denver for a couple of hours, then planed again, then arrived at LAX about 2:45 late. That led to a dash across the airport, dragging kids and carry-ons, outside dodging airport shuttles (which I'm told are slower than just running across the airport from terminal to terminal), only to go through security at the international terminal and finally miss our plane by ten minutes. But we were glad because we were sweating so much--holy cow we would have been self-conscious on that 12.5 hr flight across the Pacific. Phew! Thank goodness for small favors.

So we tramped back across the airport, got free room and board from United (they spent a lot of money on us--Damon asked whether the guy who hit our plane got fired). And got on the very next flight 24 hours later.

We landed in Auckland at about 5:30 am local time, and went to our hotel. The taxi van didn't think he could carry 12 bags, a big pile of carry-ons and two bike boxes, but I asked him to try and he surprised himself. I had a meeting later that day and the rest of the time was spent wandering the streets pretty bleary-eyed. the next day we picked up our rental, a minivan. I thought I'd finally driven my last when I came up with the plan to get rid of everything we owned and move to NZ, but I was wrong. And someone thought it would be funny to make the next minivan I was to drive have a right-sided steering wheel. I thought it was funny until I tried to drive it. Not as easy as you'd think.

OK, to get move this story to a merciful end I'll say the drive was beautiful. 8 hrs of winding pavement through country that just doesn't do well with a simple list of adjectives. Expletives might actually be better, but then what would you all think of me?

The highlight of the drive was the final 3 hrs, which got increasingly twisted, with very exposed cliff-side turns up and down steep (but remember beautiful) hillsides (or they might be mountains, I'm not sure). All this while driving on the left side of the road! Ta-da! I'd like to say I did it with one hand tied behind my back, but that hand was actually quite occupied white-knuckling the steering wheel. the last hr and a half was in the dark, a couple kids got queasy and right after a hurried shout to roll down the window (it's a rental) Damon coughed up his dinner in spectacular style at 50 miles per hour around a steep mountain road. We pulled off and all got out to catch our breath and bust a gut laughing at the side of the car, which looked like a bird (with airplane food in its belly) had hit our car at terminal velocity. I'd post a pic (yup, we took a really good one), but all of the pics we took in the two weeks leading up to and during our journey were tragically lost. But that's another story.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Letter 1

Dear Family & Friends,
I first want to thank the many of you who have helped, encouraged & prayed for us in the past few months. We could not have made it here without the help of so many of you. It really meant a lot to me to have you pitching in to help with packing, cleaning, moving and all the extra messy details. Thanks!!
It was a hard goodbye at the airport. Thank you to the friends that came to see us off. In the emotion we went down the wrong gate and had to embarrassingly come back through the airport to the other gate. (How could we mess it up in such a small airport as Grand Rapids?) It was good to leave a bit more light hearted at our silliness!
After a very long trip we have made it here to Aukland. Our plane in Denver was hit by the luggage loading vehicle rendering it inoperable. This delayed us by 3 hrs. thus missing the last flight of the day out of LA to NZ. United took care of us by providing us with 2 hotel rooms and meals until the next flight out on Tue. evening. We did enjoy the extra night of rest and a quick jaunt down to the beach.
We arrived in Auckland yesterday morning. I love it here! This city is a bit Chicago like - only better. Fabulous shopping, safe, clean and very friendly. We spent lots of time yesterday chatting with people and getting an idea of some of the new customs and ways. Chad is currently picking up the rental van and we will load all 14 of our suitcases, 5 carry-on's and miscellaneous other things (yes, we are the Beverly Hill Billies) and head off to Wairoa. This should be interesting in a large city and driving on the wrong side of the road!
The kids have done great and are great adventures trying new foods and sights.
Looking forward to keeping in touch.
No Worries,
Kris & family