Monday, December 13, 2010

Jesse Palmer in the house!

Jesse is a dear friend from way back- since kindergarten...he stopped here for a few days before going to work in the South Pole- he "volunteered"to help me put a window in....
Jess and I were marveling at the places we have crossed paths on the globe- NZ is definitely the farthest from West Chesterfield! Upon his return from the Pole we hope to do some kayaking somewhere in NZ ( although we are trying to convince him to be our "Manny" for a little while)....
"I have a knife in my right hand."

Kayaking and Gondolas

So, we are novice bloggers- as in, we don't post very often- working on that.
I had the chance to join a NOLS group in the Marlborough Sounds for 5 days- weather was beautiful for the most part.  Here are some photos
kayaking in the marlborough sounds 

paddling back by myself after leaving the NOLS group
finally teaching in the field...

nice classroom

purge your inappropriate thoughts- this is a legitimate re-entry: the cowboy crawl

leaving the group to go home.

 We have been busy getting ready for our first Southern Hemisphere Christmas- weird.  It is full on summer.We took a gondola ride and then hiked down to the town of Lytelleton to the farmers market and then took the bus back.  Was a fun little adventure.
Ella showing her index finger off.

2 teeth!
We had a great trip to Mt Cook last weekend (I broke the camera, so we don't have photos yet).  We also bought a car!  For under $2k USD- it is seemingly in a good shape for a 2000 subaru.

That's all for now-

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Foreign Invaders, Transalpine and warm weather : )

Over the last week our home has been infiltrated by both a duck and a bird.  The ducks have been visiting our sliding glass door each morning waiting for ella to feed them--tortillas seem to be their preferred meal.  One bold duck made its way into our house under ella's watch while I was catching up on email. I decided I should peer around the corner to see what was going on when ella repeatedly said, "ducky get out of my house."  I was quite surprised to see it rummaging for scraps under the dining room table--yikes!  Moral of the story--don't feed the ducks.

ella loves this rooster!
Ella, Gillian and I had a blast at the Canterbury A&P Show which is basically a giant County Fair.  It was more than complete with a livestock show and duck herding, horse jumping, log climbing and chainsawing competitions.  Ella was not a fan of the chainsaws but did, however, love the roosters and baby cows.

a judge taking a closer look

ella and baby cows

Dave took his first kayak trip on the east coast.  He put in at Sumner Beach just a few minutes from our house and landed at Taylor's Mistake Beach just a few miled north.  It was a beautiful day.  Ella, Gillian and I met him for lunch at Taylor's.

Dave's kayaking self portrait

ella testing out Dave's kayak 

Some random pictures from the last few weeks:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Helicopter rides, Free Concerts, Gillian, and Flat Stanley

This entry is a mess because I cannot figure out how to put pictures where I want them to go, but I am posting it anyway because it is late and I am giving in to the tech gods....basically- we are enjoying NZ, I went for a heli flight for work, the girls are adorable, and we don't get much sleep. Here are a bunch of photos and a little commentary...miss everyone!I finally learned how to upload videos: click on these links:Ella talking to dolphins video...
Gillian talking/laughing....

Ella, Dave, and Gillian at low tide.

Gil-Gil, so cute- snoozing....

I only have two teeth, but I can eat metal

Erin and Ella running down the beach

Ella- sharing the water with herself

heading into the arrowsmith range via heli

keep your hands off the controls, Yankee....

Cameron River valley in the heli

dropping lots of food and fuel to some hungry NOLS students

My ride for the morning
 Today I had the opportunity to re-supply one of our NOLS mountaineering groups in the southern Alps of New Zealand. Here is a video.  The lowlight of this was getting out of bed at 4 AM, the highlight was taking an amazing helicopter ride into a beautiful cirque  and dropping off food and fuel for some very hungry (and somewhat sick) mountaineers. Another highlight was informing one of our instructors,  who is a rabid Philadelphia Phillies fan, that the Giants were victorious in their series last week.   The helicopter was  more like an amusement park ride-   after my hot-air balloon ride this summer with my Mom for her 70th birthday (which ended in a minor crash with both of us getting thrown but ultimately being fine) I was mildly trepidatious about getting in another small flying object,  but my fear was eased as soon as we left the ground. Ironically, there was a hot air balloon taking off about a mile away from where we were landing on the return.  I thought about spitting in that direction, but the window was closed.

 I also briefly thought of the remote control helicopter I got for Christmas which I proceeded to crash in the neighbor's yard  and render  useless within minutes.   I was glad that the pilot only gave me a headset.

  I asked him how young you had to be to go in his helicopter and he said 2 to 3 months old, so we might go back and bring Ella as she was quite annoyed that she didn't get to go this time.

 Band Together!
Ella and Dave and the other 27 people at the concert at 11 am 
"Mommy, don't kiss me in public!"
Band Together  was a free concert to celebrate the resilience of Canterbury/Christchurch in the aftermath of the earthquake-I was told that the closing act was the Springsteen of New Zealand. Unfortunately, we went for the first hour and a half and saw the Vanilla Ice of New Zealand-  it was actually quite fun, and Ella really enjoyed all of the free balloons and the ice cream cone that she got to rub all over her face on the way home.

Summer is coming...
 Sunday was an amazing day which had temperatures in the low 70s,  or 23°C.   We went to the beach and had fun walking along and playing in the sand (although Ella did not want to share any of the sand with anyone else on the beach).   I managed to fit in another  amazing mountain bike ride without killing myself, a surf session, and Erin took  a beautiful jog along a secluded coastline and sent pictures over her phone while I was stuck inside with the kids who were napping.

Ella's feet have grown very fast.

Flat Stanley
 Flat Stanley is a 14 mm laminated person that was sent to me from my niece. Supposedly you are supposed to take pictures of Flat Stanley and send them back to their elementary school, and then send  a postcard to the elementary school address to said Stanley-  we then have to mail him back to the US.    We plan to bring Stanley to see the donkeys, go surfing, to Ella's preschool,  visit some earthquake rubble, etc.   It will be very difficult/impossible not to pose Stanley in some inappropriate and off-color photos.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mountain Biking NE1?

So some new friends asked us to go mountain biking in the beautiful port hills behind our house.  The plan was, girls go first while the guys watch the kids (4 of them).  Girls return and boys head off.  We said yes because why not but then I started to wonder if I was crazy because:

1) the last time I sat on a mountain bike was 15 years ago and I wasn't very good then
2) the mountain bike I had to ride was circa 1995 (to it's credit, it had an old front shock that flexed slightly).  Who needs dual suspension?
3) the trail was rated expert single track and ran along a terrace above a valley with significant double digit drop-offs on one side

The start of the ride was a little rough.  After scaling 100 feet of stairs with my bike and clumsily navigating through a gnarly rutted out single track section with what I deemed to be significant boulders, I thought I was in for it.  I think Emily was trying to be encouraging when she said, "The rest of the trail is no more difficult than this." Gulp!  Well, I'm happy to report we survived, and it was more fun and exhilarating than scary.  The views were amazing and the company supportive and fun--thanks Emily, Chris and Hillary.  What more can you ask for?  I think I might even go again.
Dave on the 2nd ride- 

Scrum on the pitch
Our friends, Rick and Lynn Vandertie, invited us to our first Rugby Match--Canterbury vs Counties Manakau.  Lynn was kind enough to volunteer to watch Ella and Gillian, so we enjoyed a rare evening out together at ami stadium.  The game was lots of fun.  We learned about scrums, tris, crisp passes, and penalties and how to open ketchup containers without splattering our neighbors (oops--a little late on that one).

Ella and Dave feeding the neighborhood donkey, Daniel 
Ella started music class at a church down the road from our house.  Frances the "doorkeeper" greeted us warmly and then informed me there was a waiting list, said they would call me when a spot opened up, and then welcomed us to join class whenever we liked.  New Zealand waiting lists rock--wish preschool admission in SF worked the same way.

Gillian has started to sit up on her own a little bit. She's still smiling like there is no tomorrow and loves to swing with her sister at the playground.

hiking with Gillian : )
Our town of Sumner is in the valley below

Dave and Ella

Monday, October 11, 2010

Akaroa, Dolphins, Black Eyes and More...

Well, we had a day off during the week, so we went to a wonderful town, Akaroa, which is about an hour or so away.  It was amazing- we had stunning weather, so we took a boat ride to see if we could find the small dolphins that live off the coast of NZ: Hector's Dolphin.
We found some!  Ella loved them...we have an hilarious video of her asking the dolphins " what are you doing?" over and over, but we are too tech unsavvy to figure out how to load.  We will post more later.   Things are good- was a cold cold day today, but the weather seems to be improving.  We went for a few hikes this weekend; more on that later.
hector's dolphins- only found in nz!

banks peninsula from the boat.

ella after spilling water in her carseat...she seemed not to care that her butt was soaked!

the ladies in akaroa- notice ella, sans pants 

surboard 1- left eye 0

capt ella and her crew

lovely ladies

akaroa from a distance

Hector's Dolphin

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Preschool and Kaikoura

Ella had her first morning at Peebles preschool yesterday.  The school is in a sweet victorian style heritage home just around the corner from our house.  The women who work there are very sweet and hopefully Ella will love it just as much next week when Gillian and I aren't there.  Highlights included morning tea at 10 AM (snack time!!), making play dough with sparkles, and getting really wet in the water play area out back.

first day of preschool!!
Clean hands- I swear!

Ella with the mother lode
We finally made our first road trip (yeah!!!) and spent the weekend a few hours north of Christchurch in Kaikoura.  Dave was leading a group of NOLS students on a cultural component of their semester course so we joined in on the experience.  Hmm, does that mean that Gillian is the youngest NOLS student in the branches' history? : )  We were hosted by members of a Maori tribe in Kaikoura and spent the weekend visiting sites of signficance to the tribe and gaining a better understanding of their spiritual and life practices.   

The archway into the Maori Marae
We stayed on their Marae (compound) and were formally welcomed into their wharenui (meetinghouse/spiritual home) in a lovely ceremony that included exchanging song offerings between our group and theirs---the NOLS students sang 'Ring of Fire' and 'Three Little Birds' : ).  Among other things, we spent the first morning collecting cockels (clams) on the beach while divers collected pawa (abalone) and prepared a traditional seafood meal on the beach.  
Dave digging up cockels

3 lovely ladies....
Then we left the NOLS students as they went into the field for 3 months and we hung in Kairkoura for the day.  We went for a walk at a seal reserve- beautiful weather in the town where the mtns meet the sea.

I am adorable...and yes, I am a bad ass.