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.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Finally have a bed to sleep on . . .

We landed in Christchurch 3 days before the largest earthquake in the last 80 years--7.1 on the richter scale to be exact.  It happened at 4:30 in the morning. We jolted out of bed to grab the kids while the earth beneath our feet (the walls, floor, and ceiling to be exact) rippled tossing us into walls while throwing plates and dishes and picture frames to the floor.  The house and the family all came through unscathed, but there is quite a bit of damage to buildings and homes around town.

There have been over 800 aftershocks since-
We have suffered a little bit of blame since we left CA and arrived 3 days prior.  Some people have said we may have brought it with us.

At the time, we were staying at the home of some very wonderful people, Rick and Lynn Vandertie, and Katie Hess, friends of friends who graciously opened their home to us having never met us before.  Many thanks Rick and Lynn and Katie for their generosity.   You saved us from our 1 room sleeping quarters at the NOLS branch.

Fast forward two and a half weeks-
We've rented a home in the coastal town of Sumner--just 2 km from the beach.  We can hear sheep bleeting from our backyard (apparently not too uncommon in New Zealand).    Ella  has graduated to a big girl bed,  and to this point has only fallen out once!   We slept on the floor for the first four days but finally scored a mattress off of trademe (New Zealands version of ebay and craigslist rolled into one) yesterday.

We went for a nice tramp (NZ for hike) on a track (NZ for trail)- this is a 5 minute drive from our place, reminiscent of the Marin Headlands:

We leave for an overnight in Kaikoura tomorrow morning with some NOLS students.  We will be visiting a working Marae and staying in a sacred Maori temple.  Kaikoura means crayfish and the seafood is supposed to be great.  Time to go to bed.