Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Breen Family -unplugged

I've been thinking about Christmas much over the last couple of days. I've been putting it off in my mind for a while you see. I've been out of sorts and my Seasonal mind has been put on some sort of jet lag/time delay. I know, you are all rolling your eyes while I tell tales of being out of sorts in sunny places and the wreath looking strange with the palm tree background but there I am at any rate, not feeling overly the usual anticipation of the holiday and all it holds. Here's the thing, Christmas is a time for reflection among other things for me. Go past the parties, cookies, and presents and there I am thinking of how far removed I am from the events that unfold back home right now. It's hard not to think of the people in your life that gave you this ornament or that. Looking at the tree as I decorate, I am reminded of Christmas's past and the history of each item I hang.

Life on the island has taught me much in the short time that we have been here. The Man and I agree that it seems so much longer that we have been transplanted. We concur that maybe it's because we have done so much with the time that we have had, our weeks seem to fly by. Trying to find our niche, work, school and the endless renovation projects at hand there is always things to busy our hands but what about our minds? Where are we at these days?

I know that without a doubt I miss my life back home. I know now how much family and your friendships mean to me. I miss you all, truly I do. But I think with the holiday and Christmas tradition of giving and receiving of presents, this is the one present that I have received that I treasure most. I feel that missing the people in your life is really a gift It has shown me now how much of my life has been connected to yours even in the smallest of ways, you all are there. Time apart and such has made me understand how important these relationships are and the history that we share.

The Breen's are down to the bare bones of what makes a house a home and the people in your life a family... it is a another gift I find under my tree this year. I guess you could look at it this way; People that are financially comfortable in their lives are the first to tell you that money isn't everything and that you can always make more when you spend it on the materialistic. This is true. There are others out there who are far less secure financially and will tell you otherwise. They are the ones that are looking for the material and some even looking to just pay the rent. They will tell you money does make a difference and again, for those trying to heat their houses this winter that is a very true statement. I think though, with all that we strive to attain in our lives of the material longings we sometimes miss the true, bigger picture of what we should be about. I have far less material things in my life and I can't say that I miss them. I treat all that I have now as a gift and I take far less for granted. My focus has changed too then you could say. We are a small family with tighter bonds than ever before. Our lives are being shaped and molded now by life experiences and not the next gadget or trip or shopping spree. It has been a bit of a revelation really. My life has always been blessed but now I know really how much that means to me.

I wish you all so much happiness in your lives. I wish you peace of mind and a full heart. I hope for you all to be able to spend time with your loved ones and hopefully make many wonderful memories this holiday season that you can look back on in the years to come and smile with fondness, love and laughter. These are the best gifts of all.
Know that you are all on my mind and in my heart and I treasure you all.
Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Chris "Light" only half the calories

Ok, it's somewhat of a daunting task to write about someone that is going to be reading your blog. Especially since the whole blog is about, well, himself. Like most CEO's of a cooperation i am really not anything more than a figurehead that gains funds from the hardworking efforts of the Management team. So most of the credit of our lifestyle and location are largely due to The Mister's efforts. Do i sound like i am sucking up enough? Very well, let's begin.

As you go with your life you discover that there are a few talents that you possess that maybe the masses do not. Some of us even end up on David Letterman for the Stupid Human Tricks portion of that show. Some others go and raise that bar a wee bit higher and turn into, say, Bill Gates and redefine a worlds technological revolution. By and large though the rest of us are left to figure out what we do best and go about happy in the knowledge that we can recite the alphabet backwards, run and chew gum, or beat the top score on a video game. WE know we're special in our own way. Chris too has many talents as well. At least he thought he had until he met his staff.

The first order of being the new kid in school is almost always to find out where you stand with your mates. You do this by asking questions and trying to find common ground to bond with. With men, in the big kid school of business, it's no different and so here goes our fearless leader to assess the troops. Meet Chris's counterpart. (Name withheld), like Himself, plays the horn. Imagine that, we haven't met too many people who do this. The conversation goes on and suddenly Chris finds that (name withheld) *may* be a bit more accomplished with this horn playing business. In fact,(name withheld) is in a band and He competes and He has won awards. In other words (name withheld) is accomplished at this horn playing business, perhaps Chris would like to duet sometime? Pass and Thank you.

The Mister also prides himself on being somewhat of computer whiz. From where i stand he is a God in the way he is able to connect the TV/Satellite/Mac and make them do all the things that i want. Please let me introduce (another name withheld) from the office. I admit, this guy is good... very good in fact. I have seen movies a week before they premiere in North American cinemas. Good friend to have when the latest to hit the screen here is "UP". I look forward to my next weekly bootleg of prime time American TV. HE could easily make David's list of performers as well as it has been told to me that he has no intestines having them removed some years back due to Cancer. To my knowledge Chris has retained his innards so far.

This brings me to (final name withheld). Superman is sharing office space at the moment with Himself. Clark Kent just happens to be a runner, like Himself. Wellll, ok, maybe not *just* like Himself as Clark appears to like to bike as well. He peddles 137km on a Saturday just for fun. As an effort to "bond" with Clark on a recent roadtrip, Chris joined him for his morning run. Down the beach they went, up a mountain, Clark looked at the view while Chris had his head between his legs trying not to faint. Back down the mountain they go and over the sandy beaches to the hotel. It was a terse email that i received later that morning claiming that this guy was a cyborg and Chris was having issues climbing a flight of stairs. Alex Trebek is also the worlds foremost authority on everything. I say this again with awe since He is not one of those who likes to "one up" you. No, he just retains every bit of information he has ever ingested right from emerging from his mother i believe. Whenever i have a question about local life here or my period i urge Chris to talk to Alex about these things to see if he has an answer. So far if there were a giant whiteboard posted the score would be 1 000 000 for Alex and 2 for Chris.

There is one thing that i know that Chris has managed to claim supremacy on. For some reason no one at the office knows how to play Poker. Himself is rooting thru boxes trying to find his chips and giggling with glee now. As for me i a bit more generous with what i see in Himself's accomplishments and maybe he just needs to be reminded of them. I see Chris as fearless and strong and his enthusiasm and vision has lead us all here quite willingly... a feat to be sure to convince the masses to pick up their pleasant little lives and challenge themselves by moving so far away from home. He dreams big and i have never doubted for a minute that he will do what he set out for himself here. He's never proven me wrong and in this case we can both agree that it's good that i am right.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Hormonal Struggles and Tween Angst

Shayla, our oldest spawn has turned into a walking talking hormone. Oh sure she still has her "Littlest Petshop" critters laying about her room but what has begone to take over is her Twilight posters, books, and other such memorabilia. She is on Team Jacob if you wanted to know. Also the Jonas Brothers are on most of the walls and i catch Ronin singing "Love Bug" under his breath as he passes by me. We are heading to the Twilight Premier tonight - the boys are being dragged along to drown out the wistful sighs from the girl by their gagging. I don't believe my rolling of the eyes makes any noise but trust me it's there. I probably look full on like i am in the throws of Mad Cow disease every time that girl starts to talk about her keen interest in boys. Oh! There is a boy to be sure.

Max. What kind of name is that i wonder? What kind of boy is my girl toting the virtues of that i swallow vomit in my mouth every time this name is mentioned in her breathy sighs. I have seen "Max" from a safe distance in my car at school one day. We drove ever so slooowly by so she could wave frantically at him at he loaded onto the bus after school. He totally didn't see her even though i was close to getting a black eye from all her waving efforts. Perhaps it's because she is such a tiny thing that he has not yet looked down to see her? It's strange because i failed to notice the halo/golden aura about him that he reported to have as well about his person. I know more about Max and the way he breathes/eats/stands than his own mother does i am sure.

I don't know though, as much as Shayla would die to defend him, that Max has had as much of an impact as the recent camping trip she went on with her class. It was with much trepidation that Shayla packed her bags and cookies and loaded herself onto a tour bus with 250 other year 7 students to a 3 hour drive away from home. Sure, she's been on sleepovers and with her Grands for a few days but never has she felt so scared as she was waving a tentative goodbye from the bus portal. We, as parents, did the best we could with keeping a cheerful air and tucking in the contraband stuffed animal into her pillow case but in the back of our minds we really did wonder if she was ready to be on her own away from us for 4 days/ 3 nights.

I came to pick her up after a blissful 4 day reprieve from Max stories and i have got to tell you that i did enjoy the quiet to a point. Strangely enough, the boy elected to keep quiet on not take up the empty space of his sisters constant stream of yammering. This is rather unusual for us as it seems that once she leaves he just takes up the quiet with his talk of the whatever. Anyways, it was a gong show of events with i am guessing close to 300 parents outside the school entrance and 4 tour buses of tweens making a mass exodus -2 1/2 hours late! I wore heels to the event... not to be stylish but to have the edge of spotting her. Er, well that was the plan but it didn't go as well as that. Chaos was the leader here and i began to panic making my way from bus to bus trying not to step on too many toddlers to find my girl. I finally gave up and ended up in the gym hoping to see her bags and confirmation that she made it back alive. The tension left me when from around a corner she appeared and i was *almost* a puddle of emotion seeing her in front of me. How could she have changed so much? Is it possible to grow 2" in that short of time? Her face? Why did it look so different? She was so composed and, well, sure of herself. It was spooky.

I was so anxious that she was going to be a hot mess when i saw her and well, the clothes probably needed to be burned but there she was, standing in front of me telling me tales of her many adventures with a big grin plastered from ear to ear. "Mom! I have changed! (no shit...oh God please tell me she didn't get her period!) "I have done sooo many things and challenged myself and surprised myself with all that i can do! It was AMAZING!" So, she told me tales of rafting and swimming out with the boats and facing her fears while crying through them. She talked about ropes and climbing and sleeping out under the stars. She ate bugs (and not by accident like i tend to do!) She trekked thru the mountains, peed in the woods and all sorts of nasty things that i can only see on Survivor, my daughter - the ultimate survivor! I stood, slack jawed as my girl, my wee, little baby all dirty faced and smelly proudly showed me her dozens of bug bites and scratches. What do i do now? Is my job done? Do i just hand her the car keys and fade quietly into the background as she goes and picks up Max and heads to the bar? Maybe they have planned a back pack trip to Europe by now? No. Max is still unaware of her existence - for now. She came out of the shower newly scrubbed faced and in her flannels holding onto her beloved Stuffie Spot and climbed into our laps for a cuddle and snuggle. She's still there, my little girl and as tightly as i wish to hold onto her i can only cherish the here and now.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Enough about Me (memememe!)

Ok. We've been here awhile and i guess that *maybe* others in this family have experiences to share. This is not ALL about me. That said, i still have the power to edit everyone's lives here .
Let's start with the youngest of our clan, Ronin. I say the name Ronin but i still think of him as Eraserhead in my mind, -going back to the weeks before our move and the removal of such an object from the young man's ear. "I don't know how it got in there!" Seriously Ronin? Seriously? Mom was up late at nights thinking it was a big, pink, tumor while we waited for the Specialist appointment. I could have happily choked him while he was sitting on the dental type chair waiting for the Specialist to come in and look at his ear after the interns parting words were, "I think it may be a foreign object." I stared at him with my mother antennae popping up out of me head and casually asked; "If *you* were a "foreign" object in your ear, Ronin, what would you be?" Without missing a beat he replied, "An ERASER!" BINGO and the Bonanza!

Anywho, Ronin is doing amazingly well here on the island. He's certainly come into his own as a socializer in school. I have had the pleasure many a day of having my ass sticking out of a cardboard box and hearing him say, "Hey mom! This is Vomsie/Chris/Maori child whose name i can't pronounce. All the boys are very polite and seem to stay here for extended periods of time. I am not actually sure that "Vomsie" has a proper home as he seems to find ours much more appealing. He has reported that he lives in the vague direction of the Cemetery -somewhat telling I'm sure.

Academically i am not so sure where he is. They seem to teach "coloring" a lot as in, "Ronin, what did you do today at school?" Colored, had tea time (recess) and played Rugby and colored some more. Tis true. I have many pictures of the landscape from him to prove this.

Eraser-er, Ro also just celebrated his 10th year out on the planet. We went to a Comicon Convention of sorts. Video games/ comics/ latest in gadgetry. All very mind numbing for the 5 hours we were there. I was in awe of ppl of a certain age that showed up dressed in their favorite character from video games and comics. Rather disturbing to see a 35 year old chubby woman in torn fish nets and satiny jumpsuit clinging on to the arm of a Zombie but it takes all kinds i guess. Ronin tried his hand at Zorbing. For you that are not in the know, Zorbing, like bungee jumping, originated here. Unlike Bungee jumping you may be able to convince me to get into a giant inflatable plastic ball and roll down a hill or in the water (as Ronin tried.)

Finally, we are back to Ronin's ear. Now instead of putting objects INTO his ears he has decided that he would like to adorn one of them with an earring. Shayla is torn. She's quite decided that this is a lesson for him to learn not an actual objective. In her mind he's gotten it all infected and has left an amazing scar on his lobe because he hasn't clean it properly. He is going to be miserable and regretted his choice all because he's so amazingly lazy in his personal upkeep. In other words the boy is doomed before he even sits in that chair. What to say? Kinda knows the boy... and yet off we go on a Saturday to look for a place to pierce his ear.

We ended up in a drugstore of all places and in the backroom. All 4 of us squished into a cubby with our backs pressed against the wall. Up to this point the boy has been super chatty and animated about getting this done even with Shay's dire warnings of tetanus and death. There was a certain mood shift as the tech came in with the gun. I swear we are a bunch of vultures you know, with our necks straining to see every emotion that fleets across his face as she loads up the gun. It's sick, i know. I snap out of it and become Mom once again and sit by my son and hold his hand and mark the spot for the stab. He was impaled on the count of three and a heavy silence followed as everyone held their breath and waited to see. Unfortunately, Ronin was also holding his breath and i had to remind him to breathe and gently forced his head between his knees when the color did not return to his face. (Let's face it folks, it's a lot easier to hide your shock and pain and fat tear rolling down your cheek too!) We have already had our first earring adventure when last night the back of it came off while him and Shay were cleaning it. Quick! Check inside his ear!! The whole mess came out while locating the back and Chris had to impale the boys new flesh wound *again*, OY! Beauty is pain and although I am reminded constantly why men are not ever going to be any good at giving birth, it's just an ear hole for gosh sake stop whimpering! I am happy to report that there was a certain bounce in his step as he made it way out the door for school this morning scheming of ways to get his class to notice his new adornment without actually having to say something. I give him 10 minutes.

Monday, November 16, 2009

An affair to Remember

I have something to admit to you. It's been eating me up since I moved into the neighborhood. I am having multiple affairs. I haven't told Chris yet as I am pretty sure he won't care. It started at the local grocery looking for a loaf of bread to tie us over when i met, the owner, Ming. She was so very happy to see me you see. She reeled me in with compliments of my dress and pretty hair. I had just showered you see. Her family appeared from behind a curtain and she introduced me to them all and told me she was from China. Her mother clucked around me and swept the floor around me lest i step on any imaginary debris on my exit. Certainly this was unusual for me having shopped at many a convenience store back home to be acknowledged with anything more than a grunt and my change dropped on the counter for me to chase while feeling like i had to apologize for buying gum and interrupting the teenagers social life on the phone. I have been most loyal to Ming for the first couple of weeks but then on my way home from Shayla's school i stopped into another "superette" for milk and there i met Pham and his family. Pham is from Asia as well and was quite chatty about Canada when he found out this is where my accent is from. His family came out from behind another curtain and once again the ritual of petting and cooing commenced about me. He even double bagged my milk to be sure it was safe! I left feeling like a queen with promises to return to Pham and his brood for any more of my grocery needs. What have i done? How can i go back and see Ming knowing that i have been to Pham's? Ahhh, and then i went to *another* superette just a week ago and met Hasim and his mother. From Hasim, who has moved from India 14 years ago, i get treats to tempt me. Ok, well it was a lighter to go with the eggs. I'm not sure what i was to do with the two being that i usually cook my eggs on the stove but no matter. All these mini marts are located within spitting distance from each other. Clearly here they are killing me with guilt and kindness. Each one i vow to return to but how many loaves of bread or milk must i buy to make each one happy? I see that they all know me by name and ask after my children now. I have 4 lighters as well. It's becoming an issue for me as i am pretty sure i am going to get caught one day. My car is pretty easy to spot. I was hoping to break free of this and just go to the local bakery but that has not turned out to be such a great idea. LuChen is a wonderful lady as well and i cannot pass by her shop onto Ming's superette without having to wave and explain that i don't need any baked goods and honestly i am going to Ming's to buy milk. It's a problem here, the extra friendly service wherever you go. Even the cashiers at all the big businesses seem to show some life and interest in you, the customer, when you go to pay as well. It seems that small talk is always expected of you or at least a good ear while they are bending yours. It's a lost art in our country, sadly enough. The friendly and attentive service around here reminds me of years past as a young child stealing quarters from my mothers purse to go and buy a chocolate bar. I wonder though where our good service went to? From a country that is smallish and remote maybe it's a good thing in some ways that they don't have so many outside influences from around the globe. That said i still do miss my cable shows, Timmy's and make-up.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Water Conservation and Save the Whales!

Moving into a new house is much like a marriage of the Mail Order Bride variety I find. I think you kinda pick your bride by the way she looks and you imagine the life you will have with her and you pay the “Bride Price” to the Matchmaker/realtor and off you go to the wedding ceremony/lawyers. She looked really lovely when you first laid eyes on her but at closer inspection you notice that she has this wart right in the middle of her forhead. How did you not see that before? Er, and how ‘bout that hair growing right out of the middle of that wart, ew! Really, how were you to know about the ingrown toenails? Did you even think to take off her shoes before you bought her? Then there is that strange smell coming off of her after you have said your “I do’s”/taking on the mortgage. Was she really doused in that much perfume/carpet freshener? But there you are standing with your bride, holding hands… oh wait! Her hand is not in yours it’s in your wallet and there it firmly remains.

The first concern for us was the carpet downstairs. We stood in the empty room and tried to envision our furniture there and where is would go. The place had been vacated a scant 24 hrs before our arrival when the smell of cat pee hit us. What’s this? I say wrinkling my nose. Perhaps it’s the smell of Jungle Rot, after all we are surrounded by it. Ah, no. Upon closer inspection we find the badly stained carpet has taken on life of it’s own and is shifting under our feet like a giant animal. Ok, that must go! Sure enough there were areas that were so badly marked by their pet that the subfloor was rotting. Actually there is no subfloor. Building codes (and I use that term very loosely) are different here. Just kinda picture a giant Mobile home with no insulation and wires and piples dangling under your “bride”. They are not too concerned with winter freeze apparently although it does get bloody chilly in here at night. Shayla asked me the first morning while wearing 3 layers of clothes and her toque if we really meant to buy a house with no heating or did we not know this like it was something else that the Matchmaker failed to mention to us about our betrothed. I explained that no house in NZ has central heating and that’s why we find those nifty little space heaters wherever we stay. In fact, we did buy one and Ronin had draped himself across it that morning trying to get warm. Clearly we will be needing more of these though. (kah-ching!)

So, ok. We need new flooring in the basement and some space heaters, not bad though, right? Er well the bride did not have a dowery that came with a washing machine AND the dishwasher cacked apparently days before we bought her . Ya, so everyone leaves me to go to school/work that morning and I am dying to have a shower. I have been soo envolved with the unpacking and organizing that personal hygene has taken a back slide for 2 days. So I am in that frame of mind of “If I don’t have a hot shower and clean myself up I may go mad and run thru the jungle scratching my itchy scalp to bloody shreads.” Really, I almost felt like I had spent a week in the bush in a tent camping.

I have my own bathroom here. Such a princess that I am and I head there with my retrieved toiletries from my suitcase and turn on the shower, load up my toothbrush, and wait for the water to turn warm.. and wait, and wait. Standing there naked and cold I start to fiddle with the one control knob. Cold water is streaming out. Turn it the opposite direction, colder water. Put it in the middle –hot water. Boiling hot water. Grrr! Inching throttle of water back and forth trying to find happy medium. Maybe, if I got in there I could read the tap and figure it out. Now searing hot water is pouring on me and I am shrunk to the side of the shower dancing to keep my feet from burning , trying to adjust the tempreture. The water is rising from the drain and forming a pool 3 inches high. I finally give up. Collect my belongings and drip over to the kid’s bathroom who have a tub and shower head. Ok, well I get the temp just right, organize my cleaning supplies and hop in. Try pulling the lever to activate the shower and Whoa! It pops off in my hands. I fiddle with this muttering “come on, come on… get back on there you bitch!” Throw knob on floor and get out (again) and Shiver my way downstairs to Chris’s place. Now I know this shower must work as he took one before he left this morning. Turn it on water comes out (check!) adjust temp to warm (check) throw all my toiletries in there on the floor, no shelves. Get in and have 3 streams of water drip on my head. Come ON!! Seriously? WTF did these ppl do for showering around here??! While waiting for the Chinese Torture device to soak my head I reach for my loaded toothbrush and find out that the paste is missing. Somewhere in my travels from room to room sits a gob of toothpaste on the cat pee carpet. I am pissed. What more can be wrong with this place?

Turns out that the toilets are not the best either. Everyone is so water conscious that these low water things are only good for swirling the TP around the bowl and creating paper patterns if they don’t have enough suction. Our thinking is that there may be a clog in one of the drains..er re-read about my shower. We have dumped a half a bottle of liquid plumber down there and now we wait and see.

It's been days and $$ since I last wrote about my water issues people. Things are really looking up! We now have running hot water in all the showers and have replaced the pull on the kid's shower with an attractive set of pliers *much* easier to work now. The toilets are on on going issue and we are spending some time looking into the mechanics of how these animals work. Like most house construction around here there seems to be little rhyme or reason for how things are put together. Our blushing bride is in much need of some plastic surgery to update her look and I am getting brochures of paint and paper to see her right.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Reconstruction of the Family Breen

Yes, it’s been a week of unpacking and trying to put the Breen smell into the new digs. Nothing smells (er says) home like your own furniture, disassembled in a thousand little pieces to be sure and scattered thru many mislabeled boxes. The casualty count was small and so I am thankful for that. We had a visitor the very first day of unloading! Bio Custom Controls was keen to send a Representative to “help” us unpack a certain quantity of boxes set aside from the dock. I am terrified that he may come across the half empty jar of Apple Jelly that was packed by my favorite packer back home –Peter. A word of caution for those who hire out the task; these are not Rocket Scientists who come and wrap your gear. Peter was um, an old stoner, smelling of stale beer who I got into a fight with because I came home one day to find my dishwasher cutlery caddy missing and presumably in one of 30 kitchen boxes. I asked him to unpack said boxes and look for the damn thing since I had no need of it here. Ah, the moaning and bitching that went along with it. He made it thru 6 boxes before he came back and stoutly refused to go on any further. Packing is an art and the “artist” was getting belligerent with me about me ruining his creative process. Fine, I rolled my eyes and said a few choice words about this and left again lest I start to choke him. Bad move as he then proceeded to pack *everything * on the “no go” list to NZ. Bastard! I didn’t find this out until I came home the final day to see the storage can sealed and did a walkthrough our house. This is the weird part as he decided that contraband spices should be in that container but not our Wii, PS2, rollerblades, bowls, Bed skirt and BBQ Rotisserie. We packed those things in our suitcases and wondered what the chances were for being searched after the discovery of a large metal spear hidden in the kids clothes. So to recap; an opened jar of Apple Jelly made it into the C-can and various spices, crackers and noodles but my bowls and bedding did not, huh.

Ok so back to the unpack and that. I was absolutely sure that we were going to get nailed with the food discovery from Bio Security. I was at the house first thing while the movers were unpacking the truck and just as swiftly I was pouring out contents of all boxes labeled “Kitchen”. About 10 minutes before our guest arrived I had bingo-ed the jelly (and lets just say Ew at the thought of this jar sitting in the heat for 8 weeks ok?) My anger with Peter the Packer actually turned into love as I have discovered here that many of my Spices are not available here in NZ. For a country that prides itself on the BBQ life I have not been able to procure any Steak Spice –Montreal or otherwise. I swear it was like a Martha Christmas for me to unwrap all matters of meat rubs and sprinkles to decorate the cookies I one day imagine I will have time to bake. Peter also threw in a half empty bag of Twizzlers (Yeah! Another missing link here) and a bottle of my “special” coffee cream of the Irish variety. Peter is now reaching god like status in my mind. So I was in a pretty happy frame of mind when I met the Bio Security guy in the garage and started opening selected boxes. I mean what could happen now? Um, well Jenn, they could make you take out every Christmas decoration that you own (and for those of you who have seen my collection and love of all things Xmas you will know I come to this country with at least a dozen large bins of Jolliness). Uhg! Why are you touching my stuff? What are you looking for, cocaine, pot, or maybe a meth lab? No. Pine cones, he is searching for pine cones. What North American Christmas wreath, garland, or topiary doesn’t come with pine cones? Alrightee then, there I am with wire cutters removing all my pine cones. There were too many for the bag he brought with him so I grudgingly gave him another one and filled that too with my pine cones and funny twiggy stuff that was on some of my decorations. My giant Father Christmas is now standing empty handed as we have ripped out the staff and wreath from his hands. Boo! Was at one point thinking of offering our “guest” a snack of English Muffin and Apple Jelly. What??? It was just a thought.

The house bits are slowly coming together. We have carved out a small area in the living room to relax in. The downstairs has not been unpack as Chris has taken out all the carpeting down there and is planning on putting in new flooring at some point. After he builds a new wall and entertainment unit down there. (of course!) Sure! It seems rather daunting to be taking on home reno projects in the midst of moving countries but hey, that’s how he rolls. I have my spices and Irish Cream and Timmy all is well.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Breen's Go on a Walkabout Canadain Style

Driving around any city only gives you so much perspective on what a country is about, do you agree? Chris had a week of work to do in New Plymouth so seeing as the brood was on Spring Break we packed up (again!!) and off in the car we drove ( Chris stoutly refused my offers to drive -strange one he is!) The countryside is truly what is New Zealand though. In a normal trip to N.P it would take a person about 4 1/2 hours to get thru the winding countryside..the Breens made it in 7. I guess the thing is we were stopping every half hour to look around us and like the tourists we are, we gamely pulled under recent rock slides to let loose the kids and myself. Chris shook his head at us as we barreled down single laned highway center lines and scrambled down steep embankments trying to get the allusive sheep to play with us. The closest we ever got to petting the local wild life was the dead opossums that littered the road.. they are lovingly called "NZ's little speed bumps". Very much a problem around here much like the ground squirrels of the prairies. They make a fantastic exit though, like some one had a furry pillow fight on the road!

Driving thru the countryside is very much like being shrunk and put into a model train set. You know the ones that i am talking about? I guess my reasoning on this is that everywhere you look it's perfect. I know people who construct these landscapes try to make it look random and thus natural but dispersing floral and fauna about the track and wee farm animals but to me, it almost always looks contrived in it's seeming randomness. The NZ country side is no different with perfect scenes of forest with a palm reaching above the conifers every couple of meters and rolling hills added along with the greenest of grasses. Vines hang along the narrow roads where you would maybe find exposed rock facing along the Rockies back home. Here the rock is covered with vines making exact patterns and tree routes throw in for extra interest. As a side note to all you gardeners out there all that wonderful "special" grasses and flowers we buy to showcase our backyards are abundant here. Wild Calla lilly patches and hydrengia plants are everywhere and God has added Miracle Grow to *everything*. Who needs to bring a book to read while on their travels out here? I have to add one more thing on this though - the roads. If anyone out here decided to build a road that was straight for more than half a kilometer i would kiss them. Day two at the motel found me with the sorest of asses. I could not, for the life of me, figure out *why* my hamstrings and glutes were so sore. Snicker away people... It was on my way back going into hairpin turn one after the other that i noticed that my body was keeping it's balance by tightening either my right butt cheek or left depending on the turn. Ahhh... it was quite the workout as unlike Chris i had no wheel to hold onto but apparently was doing my best to drive along with him. After 2 hours into our return drive i was moaning and giggling with muscle fatigue.

It is my theory now as to the other much wider popular theory of why women have what is called "Dairy Ass" here. There seems to be a trend amoungst the Kiwi women here to have a "slightly" larger bum than in other countries. A co worker of Chris's has mentioned the phenom. of Dairy Ass and the love of all things Dairy here that women tend to consume. Tis true enough as I have found that Cheese has become a new passion for me. I have even gone out to buy the Handy Dandy Cheese board and accompanying knife set. I have gorged on wheels of Brie, Camabert, smokey cheddars, and cream spreads. I tend to think though that really what makes ones boot the size of a boat out here is the endless hills that we seem to have to climb to walk around the city. It's a workout every day for me AND, no doubt, it's a lot of fun to watch me do this athletic feat in my 4 inch heels... I especially like the visual of me going downhill in my black thigh high boots.

New Plymouth is a small town but spread out quite a bit. It has that low building costal town feel with its endless boutiques and coffee shops. That's one thing here in NZ that you won't really find a lot of.. box stores. There are a few wider known Mega marts but mostly everything is independent. The one thing that remains constant in all our travels so far is McDonalds. You *think* you know what McDonalds is about until you visit here. They all are about the Mc Cafes. It's an added feature in every spot that has loads of different squares and muffins to go with your Flat Whites and Short Black coffee. It's like a Starbucks put into every Mc D's. I have to admit they are very competitive with the bakeries here and you won't be finding any of those disgusting Ronald animal cookies.

The kids are back at school this week and Ronin is starting his first day of his NZ education. The biggest bit of advice i could offer him is not to be sat on by some Maori child. The Maori are a rather large breed of Islanders. By large i don't really mean fat although they too have their share of fast foodies. No, they are just really big boned people who apparently were not surviving on just twigs and berries before the Europeans got here. Shay has a Maori girlfriend in her class and it's almost comical if not a bit scary to see Christian envelope Shay in one of her hugs. The girl is as tall as me and twice my weight. My girl literally disappears into her arms when Christian is in full hug mode. Ronin wants to take up Rugby and play with the Maori boys but i honestly fear for his life. I will have to grease him before a match to help ensure he has some help on the field when he catches the ball. Running like hell is another option i will be offering him too.

Next week is the BIG move and so i will post an update on that once we are in the new digs. Hope you all had a wonderful Thanks Giving.. it totally blew us by and the only reason i know it came about was via Face Book, LOL.