Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Let's go fly a kite.

This past weekend was the Labour Day long weekend here in NZ. Not that it made much of a difference to me as every weekend is a long weekend for me (not to rub it in). BUT, it meant that Lance & Natalie also had Monday off!

Lance & Nat picked us up bright and early for what was supposed to be our surfing debut here in NZ. However, by the time we reached Omaha Beach, the tide was low and the waves were NON-EXISTENT. Well, barely existent anyway. Good thing Lance & Nat brought kites for back-up.

The frustrating thing about taking pictures of kite flying is that the person flying the kite and the kite itself end up looking like tiny dots on opposite corners of the picture. Oh well, the scenery was pretty too...

Nat and I tried really hard to put together a 'stunt tent' (which basically means it has 2 handles) meant for age 8 plus (ya right). The instructions were ridiculous. There were TWO pictures, and they were complicated images that meant nothing to us. The only written instructions said "Fly this kite in an open area with no buildings or trees or powerlines bla bla bla..." in like EIGHTY-SIX DIFFERENT LANGUAGES.

After mulling over the instructions for a while, we decided to do it our own way. Strings were cut where strings were not supposed to be cut, and tied in random knots where random knots were not supposed to be tied. Lance was in control of this operation- he's really quite the kite engineer. (Lowell was busy bouncing around the beach acting like a 6-year old who was just given the key to a local candy shop).

Finally. The kite was ready to take flight. And Lance was the stunt master.

Well, actually, no he wasn't. The kite spent most of the time on the ground like that with the strings twisted and tangled.

However, when Lance and Lowell each took one handle, they stunted it up like pros- over the ocean to boot.

Then Natalie took Lowell's place, and Lance & Nat had a little bonding romantic moment...

Oh yes, and I was there my PJs (I thought we'd be changing into wet suits right away, but when the surfing plan went down the pooper, my PJs became the ensemle for the day).

One last glimpse of Hottie McHot.

I haven't flown a kite in YEARS, and I don't think I've ever flown one on a beach. I highly recommend it- but watch out for those intense stunt kites meant for genius 8-year olds.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

We pulled a Mary-Kate and Ashley

While my twin remains a beautiful bodacious BLONDE…

I made the bold switcheroo to BRUNETTE…

It turned out a WEE BIT (read: a lot) darker than I intended… but it will fade soon no doubt.

I endured quite the process to become a brunette. Lowell endured it too… how many guys do you know that would contentedly sit on their butts at a buzzing beauty salon waiting for their wife to get her hair done. Not a one? Thought so. Lowell’s unique that way. And because of his uniqueness, he was able to document the process!

First they stripped the blonde, then dried it. Yes... THEY. I had 2 women working on me at once!

Then, after they put the dark colour in and I SAT, it was cut, dried and styled...

The whole brunette plan was a little secret between Carlynne, Lowell and I. Oh, and I’m sure Dan knew. We drummed up the idea several years ago, but the timing was always awkward… until now. Absolutely everything else in my life is changing, why not change the hair too? Perhaps I’ll also get coloured contacts and breast augmentation (kidding kidding… I would never switch the colour of my eyes).

So, I expect my inbox will shortly be flooded with commentary-filled emails from our shocked family members. I have already pinned down who will approve and who will most definitely NOT.

But maybe…just MAYBE my clients won’t think I’m 12 anymore.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Coromandel Peninsula

Lowell and I took full advantage of our super long weekend by visiting Coromandel Peninsula. We stayed at a hostel on the beach which was pretty posh—really more of a 2-bedroom apartment. We had the whole place to ourselves the first night, but were joined by 2 Germans on night #2, and 1 Austrian and a billion ants on night #3. We’ll get back to the ant thing later.

On Saturday we hiked to Cathedral Cove. The terrain was fairly random, and we even shared part of the path with COWS.

(Those greens really do NOT complement each other...)

The cove was pretty darn cool… but the water was FREEZING! I was trying to gracefully perch myself on the protruding rock to create an ideal photo opportunity, but the giant waves had other plans for me.


There was a rather pathetic little drizzly waterfall near the cove which Lowell thought would make a nice picture… turns out he was right.

For lunch, we booked it to Cook’s Beach (named after Captain James Cook himself!) where we joined the birds and the HOWLING WIND for lunch.

This particular bird stood there looking at us like this throughout the ENTIRE meal. It was pretty cute. Desperate, pitiful, and a little annoying… but cute.

Next- after transporting and feeding a German hitchhiker- was the most anticipated location: Hot Water Beach! It’s basically a ‘dig-your-own-hot-spring’ beach, and there’s only a 3ish hour window each day that the tide is low enough to dig. We were under the impression that hot water was concealed under every square inch of the beach, but we realized we had been deceived after starting 6 holes and only getting freezing cold water. We thought that perhaps if we KEPT DIGGING, we would eventually hit hot water- after all, EVERYONE around us was soaking in a nice hot bath. We dug and dug…. And got no hot water. ZILCH. In fact, the water got COLDER. Eventually we noticed that one of the neighbouring pools had been vacated- so we jumped at the opportunity and sunk our little tooshes in the steaming hot water.

Here’s Lowell breaking ground (the first time)….

Digging digging…

Still digging...

Here’s pool #6- COLD water pool (We have SOME pride. We at least wanted the satisfaction of showing you that we DID put forth the effort to dig our own pool before stealing someone else's).

It was a very popular beach- with interesting people. One man stood in the midst of all the baths, and so OBVIOUSLY began changing. He had his towel to “cover up” below his waist, but it really wasn’t concealing things as one might’ve hoped. He took off his speedo (first mistake), then began liberally rubbing his butt with the towel. THEN he puts his saggy underwear on, lets the towel slide off, and continues to wedge his fingers AND his undies up his crack. Trying to get rid of all the sand, no doubt. So, as if this wasn’t inappropriate enough, he starts playing on the beach IN HIS SAGGY BROWN BRIEFS with his 2 naked kids. It was just weird.

Anyhoo, despite Inappropriate Underwear (or lack thereof) Man, we had a FABULOUS time at the beach and can’t wait to take our families there. With more than just the 2 of us, we can play in the ocean in shifts. We wanted to go in the ocean together (to cool off), but we weren’t about to risk someone snatching our coveted pool.

On Sunday, we had a mission, and that mission was to stand on the edge of Shakespeare’s Cliff. We took the ferry (all alone) to the starting point of the hike.

Again, the terrain was RANDOM. We started on the road with sporadic paths thrown in now and again, then began the steep incline.

Shortly before the top, there was a PASTURE. It was a very "The Sound of Music" moment for me. I HAD to complete the moment with song and dance.

After that little interlude, we finally made our way to the TOP. I was busy snapping pictures of the surrounding beaches, when I noticed that Lowell had gone to the OTHER SIDE of the fence on the edge of the cliff.

Me: “Uh, Lowell- I think they have a fence there for a reason!”

Lowell: “Ya, to keep the kids out.”

Well, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em right? I figured that it’s not every day that we get to KISS on the edge of a CLIFF, so we should get a picture kissing on the cliff! We were alone when we began the timer-setting-picture-taking process, but as we were standing there, lips sealed for 10 SECONDS while we were waiting for the camera to click, an entire group of tourists appeared. I think they found it really awkward- but SERIOUSLY. It was all staged. We’re not in the habit of randomly making out on cliffs.

Here are some other shots from the cliff...
(Lonely Beach is the one in front, and Cook's Beach is behind it)

After we arrived back at the hostel, we made ourselves lunch. Apparently they encourage you to wash and dry your dishes right away for a reason because we discovered ANT INVASION 2008! I swear, the peanut butter/jam knife was only on the counter for like 30 minutes as we skyped with Shareen. After saying our good-byes to Shareen, we turned to discover THIS:


I went on a murderous rampage, and all was good.

We had hoped to dine at Captain Cook’s restaurant to complete the whole 'Captain Cook' experience, but it was closed. (We got the picture anyway).

We also planned on breaking in the wet suits and doing some kayaking, but the weather turned crappy. Ah well, we have several months ahead of us to take up this kayaking business!

Friday, October 17, 2008

It's Thanksgiving... Bring on the Pounds!

It feels like ages ago already, but our Canadian Thanksgiving in NZ was a blast! The surprise birthday party and fun run were only PART of the fun.

We had some serious family skype time. We spoke with members of my family separately, but we chatted with Lowell’s entire family at once- except for Marti & Lando:( . They just plopped us on the table as they went about their business, and after 2 lovely renditions of ‘Happy Birthday’ (one for me and one for Dad T), they entertained us in shifts.

Carmen (our eldest little niece) was completely enthralled with the process and sat her cute little rear in front of the computer virtually the entire time. I bragged about watching ‘Enchanted’ while putting around the kitchen fixing Thanksgiving dinner, and Carmen insisted on seeing a sample of the princess movie. She’s just so cute, we couldn’t deny her, so I held my laptop up to Lowell’s laptop and observed Carmen watching the song and dance in utter captivation. When the song was over, she wanted more, but Uncle Lowell and Auntie Julie Renee mustered up the courage to deny her this request (plus my arm was getting really sore).

On the weekend, Lowell and I also spent like 3 hours at the grocery store, and another few hours pureeing pumpkin to make our very first pumpkin pie FROM SCRATCH. I have never in my life made a Thanksgiving dinner before- at least not by myself. I’ve helped Mom with the low profile stuff like the dinner rolls and salad, but I’ve never taken charge of the full deal… UNTIL THIS YEAR! Lowell did some manual labour (rolling out pastry dough, shoveling the pumpkin out of the shell to puree it, and lugging the giant table over from the lodge), but otherwise I did the entire thing BY MYSELF.

The presentation was pathetic, but at least it tasted good. We are kind of lacking in the ‘classy china dish’ department, but inappropriately giant pots, tacky plastic bowls, wrinkled tin pans, and mismatched plates and cutlery seemed to do the trick.

I’m not concerned. I have YEARS ahead of me to polish the presentation.

Our adopted NZ family- the Pounds- joined us for dinner. It was their first real Thanksgiving dinner as ‘Thanksgiving’ doesn't exist in NZ. Andrew & Kay dined with us right away, but the kids couldn't join us 'till a little later. The Pounds are such an animated and delightful family, and so easy to get along with. All in all the entire experience was a SMASHING SUCCESS and I soaked up every second of it.

L to R: Johnny, Joanna, Josh, Kay, Andrew

And now, as Thanksgiving is obviously a time to be thankful, I’m going to start pouring on the cheese.

Lowell and I are so thankful for this time in our lives. We have real actual LIVES here in NZ. We have real FRIENDS, an adopted FAMILY, a church, a house, a car, and a JOB…we’re productive members of NZ society. WE EVEN PAY TAXES FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! It’s very surreal and doesn’t come without its challenges, but we are so thankful for this opportunity and will try our darndest not to take it for granted!