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