Friday, November 28, 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

New Zealand Birds

From Paintings

Something very unique to our adopted country is its fauna. Or lack thereof. There are no native land mammals in this green and soggy land, which made for some avian anomalies as other species rushed to fill the niches that little critters would normally occupy.

That gives you birds like the Kiwi or the (now extinct) Moa and a whole bunch of really interesting and unique (and quite common) birds like the Kereru, Tui, and Pukeko.

Our family periodically paints together on little 5 inch by 5 inch canvases by picking a theme and doing our own individual interpretations.  The first time we did this was back in the States when we did variations on a picture of a coffee mug that Joanne picked out.  Just yesterday we did a "birds of New Zealand" session and came up with the pictures you see above.

The artists are (from left to right) Joanne, Haley, Steve, Zoe.

The top row are (from left to right) Morepork, Kiwi, Pukeko, Tui.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Wellington Santa Parade

Today we took the train into town for the Wellington Santa Parade. Tranz Metro was offering free fares for children coming into town for the parade-a nice surprise. We walked from the station the few blocks to the start of the parade route and found our spots with a few moments to spare. Nothing like enjoying a beautiful train ride instead of driving around hunting for parking.

After the parade we had a coffee and a cookie and lazed around Midland Park on Lambton Quay where the City Council has their Christmas tree on display. The girls chased the pigeons and I snapped some pictures of the girls, in their new Christmas sun dresses, with the tree for a potential Christmas card photo. We walked over to the library to pick up some books, and then strolled down to Cuba Mall to eat "meal" at our favorite noodle house (we frequently have a late lunch/early dinner on Sundays and just call it "meal". Perhaps "linner" is preferable? How about "dunch"?)

We popped into a couple more shoe stores (third weekend in a row)hoping to find Merrell shoes or another dual purpose trainer/hiker for the kids. No luck still and we've tried pretty much every shoe/athletic/outdoor apparel store in the area. We're having really weird luck trying to find quality children's shoes here. On the couple of occasions that we have found a workable shoe, they are out of stock of the girls' sizes. I guess I'll have to order those from home. Grrr..

The sun was out, the breeze was enjoyable for a change, and we meandered back to the train station, looking in store windows and enjoying the empty streets that just hours before were packed with people. I love that feeling of walking in a deserted city late on a Sunday afternoon.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Saturday, November 8, 2008


Wellington had some crazy hail yesterday!  I was standing in the window in a spot of afternoon sunlight one moment, and scraping ice off the windshield so that I could go pick up the girls from school the next.  Crazy!  The DomPost wrote about it here

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes We Can! (and we did!)

Well??? Can you believe it? History just happened! Thoughts??

It's Finally Here!

Election Day! This is excruciating! How am I supposed to concentrate today? The anticipation is killing me! Let's hope this will all be over soon, and not a big dragged out mess.

How was your election day? Did you go to the polls or vote early? Was there tension in the air? Were people distracted and glued to CNN? I wanna know!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Birthday Party Sleepover

I've put captions on the pictures to explain what you're looking at. I chose to do that in lieu of a post, but I thought I should explain to folks who don't know that you can control the slideshow if you need more time to read the captions. Hover your mouse over the slideshow and a menu pops up so you can go back, forward, etc. I think if you click on it you may even have the option of enlarging it. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Yesterday was Halloween for us here in the Southern Hemisphere. It was the first year that Zoe made her costume 100% by herself. She went as Artemis, the Greek goddess of the Hunt. Haley, after many deliberations and changes of mind, finally decided on a classic black cat with face-paint whiskers, ears and a tail. We did our best to celebrate it, but in the end we couldn't help but feel a little let-down.

When talking to Kiwis about Halloween, I was surprised to hear them describe it as an American holiday. I'd always been taught of it's Irish and Scottish origins and there are many immigrants from both countries in NZ. (Although I'm sure it was the Americans who commercialized it to it's current level) Whatever, it is a very recent phenomenon and I can't help but feel that there is a question on how exactly to go about it. We felt this keenly as we attempted to take the girls out trick or treating. I'd asked around and been told of one particular street where the residents really get into it. But when we arrived, we saw a few small groups of kids, some in costume, some not, tentatively standing around in front of houses, wondering whether or not to knock, and goading eachother into being the one to do it. There was no way of knowing which houses would participate and which would not as there were no decorations, and certainly no jack-o-lanterns. It is not only the wrong season for them, but the pumpkins here are small, incredibly heavy, blue squashes that you either have to open with an axe, or cook for a bit first before you can slice them. You absolutely cannot carve a face into them if you tried! And as the sun doesn't go down until 8pm, the usual leaving the porch light on wasn't a possible clue either. Despite the challenges presented to us, we did manage to hit three houses, and the girls received some nice unwrapped caramels at one, and some nice unwrapped licorice at another. (Note to Kiwis: in the US, parents look through children's candy at the end of the evening and take out the suspicious looking bits including anything not in a wrapper as we fear people may be poisoning our children. Lovely holiday, isn't it?)

Though the trick or treating was a bit of a bust, we did enjoy the 'Twisted Circus'-themed carnival put on at Capital E! on the Civic Square. While it didn't really have that Halloween "flavor" for us, we did enjoy ourselves and appreciated the effort put out to entertain kids and families.

I will admit to getting teary and feeling profoundly homesick when I realized I was not going to get anywhere near my Halloween "fix" this year. In a last ditch effort to make up for it, we went home and gorged ourselves on Butterfingers, Reese's peanut butter cups and Almond Joys sent to us by Aunt Sharon (thanks, Aunt Sharon!) The best part of the night, for me, anyway, was snuggling up before bed and reading our favorite Halloween books-The Littlest Pumpkin, Rattlebone Rock, Grimericks, and Possum's Harvest Moon to name a few. More than anything, they gave me that Halloween-ness I'd been craving, and felt as much a part of our traditions as any of the rest.

So Happy Halloween to all those back home who are looking forward to a spooky evening of tricks and treats tonight! Be safe and have fun! Happy Haunting!