Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Boys will be Boys

The boy is really getting tall i noticed. The other day he strolled by me in his pants 2 inches too short for him. A full sleeved shirt that was creeping up his arms. Nice to know he doesn't feel the heat like the rest of us in t-shirts and shorts do. What IS it with him? The front of his hair is done in early Hitler, parted and plastered but he fails to attend to the back of the rats nest. THIS is how he would stroll to school if i didn't catch him on his way out the door. I worry for his future in dating frankly and have gently and not so gently urged him to find a more eye pleasing style to the ladies. We are now at an age where personal appearances and smells do come into play i say to him. I have even tried to make the whole process seem more appealing to him by purchasing a small can of AXE body spray (in Chocolate). Oh, roll your eyes at me- go on! I roll my eyes at the general Kiwi men pop who seem to think AXE is the way to go round here. You find it in all department stores and groceries flooding the shelves in its toxic array. I long for the days of BRUTE at any rate. The boy has really taken to the notion of body spray though and i smell him before i see him, wafting by me in a cloud still looking much like Pig Pen but smelling kinda Chocolatey now. I also know that this may have also increased his appeal to the girls in his class smelling pretty much like a large Easter Bunny.

The first whiff that i had of a girlfriend was actually on the last week of school. The Boy is not overly chatty about the opposite sex unlike the walking hormone i also house. In fact, i would be none the wiser except he told the Mister when being collected from the year end dance. I mean of course i wondered a wee bit about the need to wear a tie but I was overpowered by his scent and didn't think to ask when he flew by me out the door (and apparently met his "date" on the way back to the school and walked with her to the dance). The Man positively gloated that *I* mother, all knowing and all seeing, missed this. So, to say the least, i was a bit miffed. Over the next couple of days leading up to The Boy's pool party i gently tried to pry the information from him with limited results. I was afraid he had picked another hoochie -he does tend to be attracted to overbearing and aggressive types. I thought boys tended to look for girls that were somewhat like their mothers?? I was avidly curious though by the time the party rolled around and she appeared - looking actually very normal and subdued. In fact, while observing her out of the corner of my eyes most of the two hours she was here i honestly couldn't say that she or The Boy, had any special feeling between them other than friends. I shared this with the Mister while i pretended interest in his BBQing and it's then that i got the other memo from Himself that the girl in question prolly didn't know The Boys real feelings. Hmmm, again i feel left out of the loop.

But that's the boy for you. With him you are constantly on only a "need to know" basis. That hasn't worked so well for him. On the second LAST day of school 15 MINUTES before he leaves the house he says to me "can you tie my tie?" I look at the plaid shirt and the striped tie in his hands and say "Why on earth are you needing a tie on the last day of school?" I see the blank look and the wheels turning and then it happens, he says; " Oh! well i have my grad this afternoon we have to wear a tie, you need to be at the school at 2 and bring a white elephant gift of chocolate and can you make my teddy bear a pirate costume?" HUH?? So it is explained to me that this grad is a formal event requiring a tie, the chocolate is for his secret Santa gift, and the teddy is going to the Teddy Bear's picnic tomorrow. Then he quickly darts past me to school leaving me in a chocolate dust cloud. Ok so... i show up a few minutes early to the school with Chocolate and a nice dress on. The teddy is at home -almost finished the sewing up the coat and i ask to be directed to the place where they are holding the Grad. THIS is when i am told that the Grad is in fact at 6pm -2pm being the rehearsal... the Teddy Bear picnic was today already and hmmm (Where the hell is my son, i think i would like a word with him). So yes, there i sit in an almost empty auditorium while watching the year 6's practice on stage and the Boy spots me (not hard! Pretty much the only one there) and gives me a sheepish wave. It turns out, as i explain to the boy between clenched teeth, that i cannot attend his grad since i committed to a Guide event for Shay that night and she wasn't missing her event because he didn't think that i needed to know anything in advance. Sad truth was that i missed my son's graduation from primary school but at least the Mister was in the audience.

There is more on The Boy and his boy type ways but I feel it may turn into a bit of a rant and so i will save tell you the many ways my son is determined to be featured in the next Jackass Movie for another time.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Breen Acres Kiwi Style

oy... i know.

No excuses just straight to the goods and a wee apology for those that have been patient.

Let's start with some general topics today. As most of you know we have moved (yes again!) out to the country. It became apparent that our trailer/tin can was not the "Home Sweet Home" that we all longed for. It did have it's pluses - the liquor store a quick jog up the 90 degree half Km driveway and lovely view of the jungle and thru that the sea. But shivering our way thru another wet winter and finding space for all of us, especially Thabo, was frustrating. I gladly waved goodbye to the bugs and the camper kitchen grabbed all our gear and retired to our country home because really.. after all the painting and papering I never really wanted to do THAT all over again... and yet....

Funny story about the new house. While Chris was originally in NZ scouting out prospects of gainful employment i too spent evenings in front of the MAC looking at properties in vague locations. This particular house was on the market back then. I had no idea WHERE Titirangi was ( Titty-rang-ee, Say it twice because it makes me giggle) But the gardens and pool certainly caught my attention. I cannot recall one thing in the interior pictures that they took but the last one in their slide show showing the house done up in all things Christmas certainly made me laugh. Maybe it was the giant decorated palm tree, or Santa and his deer on the roof? I'm thinking it was the 8 inflatables artfully arranged as a Wal Mart yard sale that made me giggle and move along. It wasn't until Chris took us to our private viewing and cresting the gentle hill and seeing the house ablaze in the evening that my memory was jogged and i screamed at himself "I have SEEN this house!!! It's the CHRISTMAS house. Good LORD! it's still on the market, There is no WAY we are buying this place -something is wrong with it.

As it turns out nothing was actually wrong with it per se. The owners had taken it off the market for a year while he sorted out his business and was looking to retire to Australia... good news. Better news was the market was at the bottom so we kinda got the bargain basement price of an otherwise "executive type" house - complete with rental suite. Now i have to say, going into the circular drive was pretty stunning. The pool was all tricked out in party lights and such... i could actually hear the humming of the electrical meter I'm sure. We were greeted at the double doors by a rather modest English couple (at first i thought butler but shoved that aside.) Really, this place was unlike ANYTHING that i had seen in all of Auckland with all of our open house slogging. Much much too showy for the average Kiwi if you know what i mean. Well maybe you don't. Kiwi's are a modest breed of folk and their dwellings generally reflect this whether you are in the $500K or 1.5 Mil mark. The difference between the two is usually a forth bedroom and perhaps a full size fridge.

Anywho, I think the first obvious difference between this house and the usual ones was the lovely er, artwork about. The main entrance done in black marble and 5 inch baseboards -which is nice BUT the thing um, statues of a family in repose going up the main stair was a bit off putting truth be told. I counted 4 bodies going up the wall and peeked in the corners searching out cherubs and such. It was hard not to look Himself in the eye as we navigated past 3 dimensional breasts on the stairs. The entire second floor had a much more modest design with the exception of the crystal chandeliers. It was then reported by the owner that the original couple that built this house ran out of money and so they finished it. (I am ever so thankful of this). The bedrooms were all generous and we had the addition of a spare room. The main floor was obviously where all the money went into er, decorating. The formal living-room/ dinning and the family rooms all had the "wonderful" crown moulding and scroll work going across the ceilings as well as more crystal lighting and medallions. I am mentally taking a pick axe to this as we walk thru. Further to that the current owners were firmly entrenched in the 80's and so their taste in pastel watercolor drapes and fab mod furniture added to the house's exotic look. Interestingly enough, they had also recently decided to update the kitchen with granite tops and a built in bar (complete with kegger holder and taps) instead of the traditional table and chairs one *might* find in an eating area. Clearly these ppl had done some serious partying in their day. It was also mentioned about some sort of swim up bar in the pool... Ronin will love that i thought. So basically it looked like the house was done by many people with many different ideas of what a home should look like with importance played to a stainless bar fridge cabinet and bar but the half bath was left in the 50s -early jail cell complete with wire cage around the bulb in the ceiling. We left and had drinkies to discuss this new idea of moving out to the country. I tell you what sold me on this place and it wasn't the grand exterior or the mod fab kitchen... nor the boobies. Nope, it was a simple idea that Himself would have his own closet. I know that sounds trivial when making a big money decision but frankly sharing with him for the past 8 months in limited space was unadulterated pure hell. The idea that 60% of my wardrobe was left in a tin can garages in damp boxes at any given time was enough to spurn me into action.

Moving day was pretty normal, that being Himself was AWOL and left me to run the show with kids and movers scurrying about. It took on giant moving van and 3 trips with the smaller van to load and cart our stuff from place to place. I had to kennel the dogs and for two nights we put ourselves up in a hotel in order to begin the process of sorting ourselves out -again.

The house itself is a bit of a local celebrity. Didn't know this really until i went and registered the Boy at the local school. I gave them our address and the secretaries all looked up and one proclaimed "Oh! you bought THAT house". There was sizing of myself up after that wondering what bank i maybe robbed to be sure.... i was almost compelled to tell them that it was a smoking deal we got on it but i held my tongue. Apparently the house is also known as the CHRISTMAS house -which would delight me to no end would i have been back home where lights and such are so common and amazing. Here a string of lights will run you about $36 (plain Jane model) and inflatables are hundreds of dollars... so now i can see while the Kiwi's looked at awe at this place and it's "holiday wonder". Sadly these were all smartly packed up and shipped to Australia with the previous owners - 20 Ft metal palm tree included. Equally embarrassing is the number of drive bys we get at night right now from long time locals coming to enjoy the houses' splendor... perhaps i should move the Christmas tree closer to the window?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Aspects of My Social Life Uncovered

They say that everyone has their twin somewhere out in the world. I can almost say with some certainty that about half of the people I know in Canada have a twin and have found them here in New Zealand. Unfortunately it’s usually the back of someone’s head or their profile here that is the only resemblance. I stupidly get very excited at theses “sightings” as I go rush forward with the words almost tumbling out of my mouth, “What are you DOING here? Why didn’t you tell me!!” only to do the quick veer to the right as they turn fully around and I see nothing that resembles anyone that I ever knew. Oy! Don’t think that I am that lonely that I start to imagine friends, the Kiwi people are almost always friendly. Maybe it’s because like the bird, sighting a born and bred Kiwi in its natural habitat is kind of rare. Almost everyone that I meet has come from somewhere else. Everyone seems to be quite open to meeting new people and “sharing” the most interesting and intimate details on their lives upon introduction.

At first I thought that perhaps I should join an interest group or club to perhaps get a foothold in here. Although I didn’t actually pursue it very far I found out quite by accident myself in a membership of introductions via the way of Trade Me. Trade Me is the island wide response to EBay. As some of you know that obviously love me more than others shipping to NZ can be costly. So the Island wide auction site is designed to meet that and er, apparently also used as a local social sight. It took me a bit to catch on. I’m used to kind of going driving to a place to buy second hand goods with the item placed outside the door and the person standing there with their hand held out. So I was quite suspicious the first time I was invited in to a lady’s home (getting some lamps) and asked if I wanted some tea. My North American mind was on high alert. “Who else is lurking behind that door and does she have a chop shop of body parts hidden in this house? Will anyone know to look for me here if I don’t come home?” I honestly can’t even remember much of the conversation as she took me on a tour of her home and sat and had cookies. I was still in the Run Forest Run mode I believe. I just chalked it up to her perhaps being a bit lonely. But then when I bought the bedroom light fixtures I was getting into it a bit. Another tour of the home and this time it was wine so I defiantly would be coming back if she offered some other stuff.

In fact, I began to look at the whole shopping on Trade Me as a bit of an adventure and started bringing the kids along. Usually the places we were driving to where a new area to us and afforded us a big of touring fun and the locations were always exciting now to see what tidbit we were going to be offered. The girl came with me when I bought concert tickets to Green Day for the man and myself. Pick up was arranged around the lunch hour so I made sure we didn’t eat too much. The couple that greeted us at the door like long lost relatives quickly ushered us in for the tour and out to the back to show off the Alpaca farm they owned as well at miniature horses. Shay was in her glory. We left with hugs and warm wishes all around and a promise to buy an alpaca from them should we ever have the need. Of course I had to squash that dream of the girls half way out the driveway but no matter.

Yes, I have even taken the man on my buying adventures. We went to pick up a rather large wardrobe with too small a van as it turns out so we went back a couple of times. This couple would probably been a good fit for us but that they were selling off items with the intention of moving back to Australia. Anyways, the wife was ever so lovely and I have been in correspondence with her from Aussie with her best picks of local restaurants to try in Auckland. We also left that day not only with the wardrobe but some lovely free designer pots as well. At any rate once we make a trip over there we are sure to look them up.

They say that Ebay is addictive and yes, I do get that being one of the masses that shopped quite heavily online back home. I used to think that there was nothing more exciting in getting that brown package in the mail. This whole Trade Me thing though is well beyond that! Is it wrong for me to shop for an item and put priority to it’s location now as local pick up? It is an adventure with every auction.

Friday, July 2, 2010

She Was ALL Ears!

So the girl is indeed a mystic and fortuneteller of the future. There was a mass infection of the earring kind to be sure. What our little Psychic didn’t fully see (and lets face it they can be a bit spotty on looking into the future) was that it was Herself that landed the infection, not The Boy. To be sure, the Boy has had some issues with locating his earring from time to time he has be blissfully unaware of the pain of inflamed holes.

The whole business started out with a pair of 3lb dumbbells that Shay purchased at the local costume jewelry shop. She must have seen the bling half was across the mall and they called to her to buy them (with her own money of course – I have standards). Anywho, failing to sanitize them she popped them in and in a matter of an hour she started to complain of the pain. At first I thought perhaps it was the sheer weight of these things and after removal she did feel a bit better but then the next day….well she had these lovely red flaming balls hanging on each side of her face. Having run out of the usual antiseptic I suggested she use this all-purpose (what could only be described as a type of iodine) on her ears. The medicine kinda turned the area a brownish red and looked just awful but we thought we were heading in a good direction – not so much. Waking up the next morning, the girl heads into the bathroom and I hear a scream. The antiseptic has now started to eat away at the tender flesh and the infection has caused her ears to swell and bloat like vine ripened tomatoes. Oh boy. What to do now? Well ok, lets put on some white gobby ointment that we have here for cuts, maybe that will do the trick? Oh and lets send the girl to school like this with words of encouragement that “no one will notice- it’s not that bad”. (lie-lie-lie) She came home from classes that day with her ironic smirk and told me that “Sure, no one noticed my ears, mom. Do you know how many people asked me What the Hell is wrong with me today?” By now The Man is fully engaged with his St John’s Ambulance course tucked firmly under his belt and steps in to tell us that I put this on her by using the iodine and to continue with the white gobby cream and no, put down the phone the Doctor isn’t going to offer any better treatment then cleaning the infection and putting said cream on them.
So, it appeared that The Man was right. Unfortunately to heal, the ears needed to shed the dead skin so NOW we have the girl sporting red tomatoes, white cream and skin hanging off her ears. Frankly I am surprised that she wasn’t shunned as most lepers are. Everyone at school kinda backed off from asking but it was hard during the healing process to talk to her and keep your eyes firmly plastered to her face. I would find myself in conversation with my gaze drifting to the hot mess of her ears while she was talking to me and thinking “OMG! How is it that she can even go out in public without cringing? I would shut myself in the house being the Lame-o that I am. But there you go, the girl is a much better person than I and like the energizer bunny she appears to be unstoppable.
This is not the only example of Shay’s stick to it nature. She frankly amazes me with all the knocks that she gets and just keeps on trucking along. Intermediate School offers so much more opportunity to find your interests than Primary as you know. Sports, creative arts, and technology groups abound. It is a great time for a Tween to find their niche and do something of interest to them. The thing with Shay is that she’s not sure WHAT interests her and so she tries everything. Not a bad thing really but there has been some “speed humps”. It would take both hands to count on what the girl has tried out for at school and almost the same number of fingers can be held up to show what she didn’t make the cut for. School Council (which, IMO was totally rigged) Soccer, Cricket, Net Ball and Field Hockey were not her forte to put it bluntly. Honestly, she has no real natural talent, just like her mother for these sports group activities. Then the tryouts for Orienteering came along and Shay eagerly wrote her name on the sign up sheet without really knowing what the sport was about. Was it luck or a miracle that the girl FINALLY made a team? I didn’t even know she was aware of how to use a compass to find her way thru the running trails quite frankly. That alone impressed me. I was so eager to share her newfound passion that I signed up to help at the citywide tourney that the schools team was in and chauffeured a giggly group of girls to the event. The team had been practicing you see and so I thought The Girl knew what was to happen at the event. It was explained that they ran in heats of four with an initial start time and then off into the fields and bushes to follow a map with their compass and collect punches on their cards at the 12 stops along the route. The top four placers then had an opportunity to qualify for some other event much bigger than the one that we were at. Shay was all nerves at the start with her teammates and was in the sixth starting heat. Off she went down a hill and into the bush. All the team members had different courses to run so I just stood around with the other Mother’s chatting about how fast Shay has been in trials and how I hope she does well. A little behind me the finish of the course was laid out and we could see a couple of kids from the first heat coming in and made our way over. All of a sudden I see thru the trees a child that I have no doubt as my own, running pell mell for the finish line. OMG! She is AMAZING!! How could she have finished the course so fast? It was almost impossible to be THAT fast I thought but my chest puffed up with pride as the other mother’s jaws dropped in awe at her approach. She came to the finish line with her crumpled card to be validated by the officials and I see there is some sort of issue. Turns out that the girl failed to punch in at all 12 stations and thought that she only had to punch at one (In practice mom, we only go to one!) She was disqualified BUT she ended up restarting and doing the course again because she wanted to finish right. She was put into one of the last heats and by the time she took off most of the 20 kids from her school were sitting on the grass at the finish line eating their snacks and comparing times. I was left alone with other mothers patting me on the back and running to meet their own children. I was a jumble of emotions really by that point. Sad, angry a bit and most of all just worried about how Shay was feeling and what to say or do when she finally reached the finish. I glared at the other kids from her school thinking if they even so much as dare say anything negative I would be on them like a mother bear. I need not have worried so much I guess. Shay came in at the tail end and we could all see her approach. The red blotchiness and tearstains down her face told the tail. One by one all of her school got up and ran to the finish and clapped and cheered her on jumping up and down screaming at her that she could do it. All of them. All of them surrounded her at the finish as I held back as they crowed around her with hugs and smiles while she caught her breath still sobbing. She finally composed herself enough to walk to me and I held out my arms to her. She walked to me and I held her as I heard her muffled voice in my sweater, “I failed mom, I did it all wrong!” No Hun, you didn’t fail. I think that you do everything just right. You may not excel in most team sports but you have the best thing that a team can offer you. You have their admiration and respect as well as mine.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Few Words

Yes, I took a break. Or maybe it was one long mind fart.Did you miss me? I hope you noticed I was gone but no matter. Will go back to your regularly scheduled programming.
One of the considerations that the Mister and I made about relocating to another country was the need to be in a primarily English speaking country. Neither of us are well versed in Spanish or French. As much as I would love to live in France, me going around and asking for beer and where the toilets were (although handy to know in any language and thus I can party in Mexico, Germany and Japan) is somewhat limiting if you are to try and carve out a life in the real world, a natural fit would seem going to a place like New Zealand. Well, at least I thought it would be the same...not so much as it turns out. If you have ever had an ear infection or a particularly nasty cold that plugs up your ears you kind of have an idea of what I am talking about. You will catch the odd word and a bunch of garbled sounds linking them together when you go out and about in your daily tasks if you talk to the locals. Much as the Girl got caught in the land of confusion with the phrase "Sweet As" being "Sweet Ass" I have found myself pondering over some of the terms used around here.

Watching the local news is kinda funny with the weather reports given daily. A lively young thing gestures to the Island map behind her dancing around and proclaiming it to be a "Fine" day. There really is only two types of weather to report around here; Fine and Rain. So "Fine" is actually meaning sunny here. Very Fine is heaps of sun. Partly Fine is well... yes, you are getting the picture. The newspaper reports exactly the same.

Good, Better, and Best. These are the types of flour I stare at in the Grocery. Likewise, cheddar cheese labels of Mild Medium and Old are replaced by Tasty, Tastier and Tastiest. I have yet to figure out the Milk... Trim Milk? Is that like, Skim or do i pick the Trimmer Milk? I will let you figure out what it is I am buying when I head to the store to pick out some Capsicums and Courgettes and Lollies. I *could* do a whole blog about my trips to the grocery but will table that for another time.

Heaps of new words and lingo to process HEAPS i tell you! Heaps.......really? Yes, I have opened fliers from the mail box and read of stores offering HEAPS of items on Sale. It will be HEAPS of fun to go, True That! If I don't find coffee filters soon to go with my ever rare coffee maker I may become Angus... I will have jumped into my car, (not forgetting to take my mobile with me), filled up with petrol, checked the Tyres and probably gone thru at least 10 roundabouts getting to the shop only to be disappointed. I may have to go for Drinkies after that to medicate. If you think it's funny to read the word "Drinkies" try hearing it from a 50 year old man talking to his mates about what to do after work. For some reason I think adding "ies" is only acceptable when speaking to the dogs. Walkies, bickies and drinkies are soley reserved for them.

The Mister and I have had a giggle or two over the phrase Speed Hump. We have a different definition for *that* one after having kids. Nice to finally put a name to it though.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Just Motoring Along

NOTE TO HUSBAND: Dear Chris, I want you to know that I wrote this blog *days* before our trip to the airport and our "vigorous" conversation and me mimicking your driving style in front of the semi to prove my point thus earning me that charming name that you called me ....Sorry that you crapped your pants.

So I am thinking about taking my driver's test. You have a years grace period before you have to bite the bullet. I am closing in on the 8 month mark and feel relatively confident in my abilities to navigate the NZ roads. The Cinder Block or Sugar Cube that is my car is blessedly free from any more battle scars. I have one missing hub cap, one that is tied to the wheel and am hoping to lose a third on a curb so I can go out and buy a new set (with one to spare- just in case!) The side view drivers mirror was taken of by the Mister and repaired and replaced. It's kinda a wonder of sorts that I drove around for weeks without one really. It's almost like an added bonus/surprise now when I do a lane change and go to look over my shoulder and see it hanging outside the car. "Whoa! What's this thingy? Kewl! I can see cars behind me now!")

I am used to the honking way of communication now. For the most part I don't hunch over when I hear it because frankly it never applies to me and more often than not it's me that's leaning liberally on her horn. In other words, I am back in the Superior Drivers type seat that I was back home .Oh STOP rolling your eyes at me! I can drive!! And may I just say, that the Mister has read and told me that New Zealand Drivers are rated as some of the worst in the world. Gosh, what a surprise. I was also informed that the giant letter "L" on the back of every 4th car or so doesn't actually stand for "Loser" as I had first thought. No, it stands for "Learner". Well with that in mind here are a few "tips" from the Master to the masses about driving "Canadian Style'...

First of all lets talk about the speed limit signs. They are there as kind of a guide line (in my opinion). So, if on the motorway please boot your ass up to that pre determined speed. I will allow you a 10% overage even if you can get your hamsters to go that fast under the hood. I will probably in all likelihood *NEVER* be pulled over for speeding here. I am constantly trying to switching lanes on the motorways in an effort to leave the Sunday drivers behind. One day I had to look down at the speedometer in the car as I seemed to be whizzing by all my fellow travelers. I had started to ease up on the gas when I looked down only to discover that i was 10k (still!) under the limit. Grr....

Another tip is this merging onto the motorways and streets that seem to magically go from two lanes to one; Treat each car like a part of a zipper. In this way you can effectively become one and thus not have the cluster F*** that seems to happen far too often when people come to the end of their lane. This "merging" is achieved by either speeding up (usually) to enter the flow of traffic or knowing that I am going to be right on your tail and thus you should probably slow down and let me pass you. Don't make me use my Devil Horn sign on you and the kids bouncing around the back seat.

This leads me to another topic of safety. There are only a certain amount of seat-belts allocated to each vehicle. Please ensure you A.) Use them. B.) Don't pack all your visiting relatives from another country in the trunk of your tiny SUV. I have seen less clowns in a Beetle at the Circus than some of these rides that I pass on the roads.

The other thing about safety is the the old 10 o'clock 2 o'clock hand position that my driver instructor gave me back in the day of my grasshopper driver's Ed course. Ok, so maybe I don't *always* have my hands in that position on the maybe one hand is on the CD changer or reaching behind me to swat the kidletts (they are so quick and flexible though!) into submission BUT there is at least ONE HAND!!. Truly it is amazing to come barreling down the road only to be stopped short by some weaving car whose driver has one arm out the window doing the air surf with his hand and the other I can see quite clearly gesturing to his passenger. Who is driving the bus? I wonder...and there are the limits of my mind powers folks.... I mentally try and will them to move over/speed up etc but fail every time. Must apply the power of my Super Horn (again) which would sound oh so much more "super" if it any sort of power to it. Alas, it sounds more like an accordian or small bag pipe with a bit of wind.

The Kiwi driving mentality is more powerful than I first thought. It has a way of seeping into some weaker bodies it seems. The Mister is quite easy to hypnotize we found out one night years ago when attending one of those Bar type shows. We originally came as a bit of fun to watch the people on the stage act like giant washing machines only to find out that Chris, while watching them be put under, also fell to sleep and thus became a highly entertaining part of the show. Ever watch your husband try to give birth on a stage? No? Classic I can tell you! Anyways, it is much like this I find driving with him -painful labor as he gently slips into Kiwi driving mode. His accelerator foot slowly loses weight and a glaze comes over his eyes as he wanders from lane to lane. Yes, he does the hand surfing thing out the window, OY! I try to remind him of his driving roots, as we wander over to the tiny shoulder. Well... "remind" is maybe a kind word to describe my yelling, sighing, and general foot pumping into the floor of my passenger side of the car. The kids singing "Dad! Look out!" from the back seat. The "Force" is strong in young Skywalker unfortunately.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Who Let the Dogs Out??

Yet another question I have gotten (and please, feel free to ask me anything let's face it... I don't have much to hide since "our" excursion to the OBGYN a couple of blogs ago) is; how is life now that our Big Boy, Thabo has come to NZ. Thabo is very much our "family" dog but in my eyes he is the less troublesome son that I have. I have no worries about his dating life as we took care of that business long ago. For those of you who haven't had the pleasure, Tabby is a rather large, but oh so handsome Rhodesian Ridgeback. He tips the scales at 100lbs and comes up to the Boy's nose but really in the dog's mind he is much smaller and likens himself to a lap dog rather than the mighty hunter the breed is toted to be. I am often stopped when I am about with the Big Boy by people wanting to know what kind of dog he is. Usually they start with "He's lovely! He's part Great Dane and what else?" Tis strange to see him try and squeeze his fat ass onto The Mister's lap during TV time in the evening but he does try his best.

While sitting in Canada awaiting the free to fly from NZ for 5 months we also acquired another dog- Walnut or Wally for short. She is a feisty little 7lb short legged Jack Russell Terrier -or terror if you prefer. She is rather one of those small dogs that feels she should be a large dog and thus has a rather large ego to deal with. I tried, I honestly did, when picking out a puppy to select the most submissive of the lot of 3 girls. I knew they were large personality dogs so I did my best in that regard. Wally was meant for Shay who has been patiently waiting on a puppy for a year. Her last friend passed at that time, a lovely docile little bit of fluff of a Shih Tzu, whose only desire in life was to be held and cuddled. So, imagine The Girls horror at cuddling her 6 week old puppy and having it turn around and growl at her. It turns out that Wally *may* have two personalities and likes to switch from each of them at random. Don't get me wrong. Wally is actually a very lovable puppy and super affectionate.. when it suits her purposes. If she's on a roll though and has succumbed to the "Dark Side" keep your hands and feet to yourself is all I'm saying.

So Wally had been living with us a couple of months training us to pee at 5 am and when to play with her and when to walk with her completely unaware that she was about to not be THE ONLY DOG in the house. She may have had her suspicions when Thabo was held at the kennel for a month of quarantine here. I would come home smelling a little doggish perhaps and she was all over that with that look of "Whatcha been do'in, I mean Gramma (The Girl says that by proxy I am Gramma because she's the "mom" of Wally). I just try and downplay the event and hand her a bone and a pat but she's looking at me speculatively and I see the wheels turning. This is one beast that you don't underestimate or put anything past. Like Karma, there is always some sort of reaction to your actions with her.

So I have gone ahead of myself and told you about their first meeting and how she was all docile and meek around him. Peeing at the sight of him and prostrating herself in front of his feet.... that didn't last very long. She hasn't plotted his demise -yet, but let's just say that she has pushed his boundaries and found out what we all knew to begin with, my Big Boy is a pussy. This she has completely exploited to her advantage. He *could* in theory, snap her like a twig in his jaws -her whole head and half her body fit quite nicely in there I have seen this one day while handing out the meaty bone treat to each of them. Butcher bones! What a fun time in the Breen house. I have select two appropriate sizes for my pets and hand them out seeing them trotting down the hallway and out to the deck to enjoy. Then I hear the low thunderous growl and rush out to the deck to see what Wally is doing... it's always Wally you see. Yes, she had decided that her bone isn't good enough. She wants it ALL. So there she is like one of those little birds that pick the teeth of crocodiles, head so far down his mouth she could be checking his tonsils and Thabo trying to keep his paws on his prize. In hushed tones as not to incite a riot I say "Thabo, be nice..." Which turns out to be the worst thing I could do because now he has no choice but to let the little witch drag off his bone to hoard with her other one. So begins my song of Wally! Stop it! and Thabo lunging for her bone and running away to another part of the house. Like Pepe Le Pew she's bounding after him with that one goal of getting what's hers back. It continues like this for most of the day. This stealing of each others treasures and growls of distrust. Thabo's only reprieve from her madness is to walk onto the couch and watch her hop and down while he smirks at her with his bone... hers completely forgotten in some corner of the house. Likely I will find it sometime in the night with my foot on the way to the washroom. Feeding time has me at a loss as well. She will NOT eat her tiny little puppy kibble but rushes to the tub of rocks in his and proceeds to eat *everything* while he rushes off to her petite pink dish and inhales her tablespoon of nourishment. Now I have set up guard duty with the children so this is less likely to happen but really...

Aside from the dining drama they are pretty good friends. He will lay himself on the carpet full out and she pretty much treats him like a giant amusement park by jumping on his side and sliding down his chest till she reaches his head and chews on his ears for fun. She loves to sleep with him on my bed... a source of irritation for The Man. After a week of him being gone he doesn't quite fit into the domestic picture is the dog's thinking. Thabo has starred at The Man while we are sharing the couch with one eyebrow raised as to say "What is this?" and he pointedly looks at where Chris is sitting and back up at Chris until either Chris moves to another chair or I set the Big Boy up on his own Chair with a blankie... well two actually. One to sit upon and another to cover him. The Man is fairly disgusted with all the re-training he has to do with the both of them sleeping on the bed come the weekend. Eh? What can I say? They are fantastic heaters!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Birds of a Feather

Now, I've been getting a lot of questions from you folks back home as to how I am fairing with the aviary that lives outside my doors. As most of you know, Birds are not my friends and most seek me out to dive bomb me or chase me about at any given chance. This phenomenon is also reported by people who hate cats or dogs who find themselves regularly the recipient of unwanted attention by these critters while visiting their friends homes. I, being the animal lover that I am, cannot understand why people don't like the domestic but I have come to understand their fears/loathing is real and can actually empathize with their plight.

When did this bird aversion first come to pass you may ask? Well I can tell you as a wee lass around the age of 7 my Aunt thought it would be great fun to encourage me to "feed" the swans at Storyland Valley Zoo. Anyone knows that swans are Nazis at the best of times -pretty as they are... and so there I am being honked at and chased around the park sobbing while she laughed at the site of me tearing across the grass. Harmless enough I guess but it made me wary of birds...not yet afraid. Fast forward my life to my sojourn in Grande Pairie. What am I about 30? Ok, well the thing was we had a large Quonset on our property that we housed our vehicles in. Never bothered to close the giant garage type door because it was such a pain. I guess the swallows thought it would be fine to build their nests in the rafter and start up their little egg laying business. Wish that they had sent me notice as one day I went into the Quonset to get into the car and was chased out by a flock of them. This had me tearing into the house and phoning my "Knight" and him laughing at me and telling me that they are just protecting the nests and *"Really Jenn, they are just diving... they won't actually HIT you". Ok, fine. Go back out there and try to get into the Quonset only to be dived at again. The thing is I could *feel* the wind from their wings and THEN feel them brush my head. At one point I dropped to the ground sobbing while doing the Army crawl back to the house. The whole time, the WHOLE time they continued to bomb me and pick at my hair... it was a strong dose of "medicinal" therapy that I needed when the Mister got home.
So now you know. My fear is real and there is not much in the way of living on this island that has changed it. Let's see...hmmm... I was attacked by an albino peacock at the petting farm I took the kids to. He looked harmless enough but there I go viewing him from a safe distance and turn my back to take lovely pictures for you all only to have him come up behind me and start pecking at my calves and screaming at me (hard to tell who was screaming louder actually at that point.) The kids are agog at the site and the dozens of other people starred at me as I sobbed and ran away leaving my brood to fend for themselves. I'm not sure what kind of ESP these feathered demons have but I tell you, wherever I go, whatever I am doing one of them tries to take me out.
On a lovely day out to the beach we stop at a small town to fill up the car. The Girl and I decide to walk across the road and get some coffees and treats to take with us when I see that there is a lovely dress store beside the bakery with some of it's wears hanging outside. I am pawing thru the dresses when around the corner I hear a quack. Just one quack mind you and I am on alert. A female mallard type comes around the other side of the dress rack and stares up at me. I know this is not going to end well and if she wants the red dress she is going to be welcome to it as far as I'm concerned. I back away and slowly make my escape towards the bakery. Guess who follows me? It was probably the slowest chase in history but there we were, me and ducky heading down the sidewalk. I ducked (excuse the pun) into the bakery and bought some sandwiches for the masses, she patiently waited for me outside and THEN decided to "friend" me by taking a seat beside me at the outdoor table. What am I to do about this? The car is still across the street and i have no hope of making to safety. Best to "play statue" I thought and wait her out. Er, well it seems that wasn't working so I thought *maybe* if I toss some bread far away from me she will go for it and then I can run. What I didn't count on was the hundreds of tiny sparrow types in the trees watching this transaction and so with the toss of the bread came dozens of feather bombs landing around me. The Girl is trying soft tones with me telling me that it will be alright. Clearly the duck was getting agitated by her loss of food though and was edging closer to me while the sparrows are fluttering in my face. What to do? Ok, then I will *feed* the duck... will that make this stop? Nice feeding frenzy I've created with me sobbing and tossing out bread while I wait for the car to come.

It really doesn't matter if I have food or not though. I've sat in the middle of a cafe alone with my coffee while dozens of people at distant tables nosh on their baked goods and guess who has the sparrow land on her table? I starred at the bird and said out loud, "Seriously? No. Seriously? Are you kidding me? I don't have food why are you here on my table?" There was no reply only a couple of hops closer to my hands and a hasty retreat for me.

YES! I am still getting dive bombed by a pair of large fat colorful partridge type birds every morning on my way to the recycle. Why oh why they chose that particular tree to lay eggs in *I don't know* since I live in a jungle for God's sake but the routine is the same. The silent slide of the patio doors and me in my pj's peeking out. I stealthily make my way across the driveway to the bin. Some days i almost make it to the bin... it's a trick you see? Just as I lift the lid feeling a sense of relief a war cry is heard from the dense foliage and there they are making their decent upon me... I'm still here though and I have come to accept this is the way if only to keep the insect population from carting off one of my kids. Still it would be nice if one day I could not have to look over my shoulder and not walk hunched over down the street.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Day in the Life of...

I love reading the snappy little updates of everyone's status on Facebook. Whether it's a quest for a new job, where they have been or what they ate... the crappy game of our NHL team or the more positive updates of the kid's playoff games (The Oilers will be lucky to get some of these kids!) It all is small and (sometimes) trivial in the whole of one's day but insightful none the less. i like em! So, instead of trying to update my FB status hourly i thought i would give you a typical run down of a day. I picked today because it's fresh and random and a typical sampling of where my time is frittered about.

5:45 am - Blink! Awake again. Laying in the dark i have about 5 minutes of silence, then the puppy begins to whine. I am so glad i have a puppy now. It's housebroken me in a matter of weeks. I never knew that BOTH of us needed to pee at exactly 5:10... usually i would wait till the happy hour of 7 before Nature called - who knew she could be such a life saver.
6:00am -Turn on coffee maker with puppy pulling at my robe.... fire up Mini Mac and wait.
6:10am Drag puppy attached to my robe out to the deck with my Mac and coffee, read emails/facebook. I have to admit that i am a bit of a FB junkie with my little Sorority Life, Farmville, Mafia and Cafe game on there. It's retarded -yes... and a total waste of time but really how productive can one be at this hour of the morning.
7:00 am- wake up Shay buy disengaging puppy and throwing it onto her bed.
7:20 am- repeat process with Ronin.
7:25 am look in fridge for lunch/ dinner ideas for the masses. Commence cooking of the breakfast while listening to bickering kids in the bathroom. Look longing at coffee pot but refrain from refilling cup...too much to do to stop and drink it.
7:45 am- Serve round one of breakfast to Shay... Ronin is usually half dressed and wondering where he left his pants from the day before - much like Chris who is away in Singapore for the week.
7:46 am- Open pantry to stock lunches and find an army of ants crawling around the shelves. This ant business is nothing new. You have to be careful to throw out your garbage outside at night... they happen to be carnivores i think attracted to any meaty product. I left a chicken wishbone on the counter to dry out a few months ago and discovered this. I turned on the kitchen light on in the morning to see thousands of ants converging on this bone. It was defiantly a pee pee dance moment. It's almost magical the appearance/disappearance of them. Remove the carcass of cockroach/wishbone and they, poof! disappear into the cracks of the house. This time it was the dog food kibble left open in it's bag.
7:50-8:00am - Troops are assembled and while one is emptying out the pantry the other is vacuuming my ant farm while i finish out the lunches for them.
8:00am - Kiss Shay good bye
8:05 am- look longingly at coffee maker but bypass it to the laundry room. Laundry is a process around here. Yes, we have the standard mini front loader that most Kiwi homes have AND we have a dryer of sorts. Although truth be told, you stand a faster chance of drying a load of clothes by inserting a straw into your mouth and blowing on the clothes. Million dollar houses have clothes lines along with the garden variety houses here to dry your clothes. They tell us it's because we are "conserving" energy but really it's because the country won't import North American technology here and pay the money to import it. Ok, well I imagine no one *could* afford it actually and that's why we are stuck with the clothes lines. Ask me this winter how my laundry is coming in the 3 months of constant rain we are expecting.
8:10am - hang clothes and hope for sun.
8:15am - tell Ronin to get ready to go to school... repeat this process every 5 minutes until 8:30.
8:30am - kick Ronin out the door missing one of the following because it was left at school. A.) lunch box B.) jacket C.) Hat D.) permission slip for some activity.
8:31 am- Launch myself at the coffee maker
8:35 am drink coffee and make a list for the day.
Today's list is pretty much the same; Paint bedroom trim, vacuum/dust, more laundry, shopping, and a new item - pick up Thabo from the kennel.
It's been close to 7 months of us being without our dog. He enjoyed his fall and winter in Canada and for the last 30 days i have been visiting my big guy in the Klink. I am anxious to have him come home and meet the new puppy. I have no idea how this is going to go.
9:00am - Normally i would be out walking Wally the puppy in the jungle right now but have decided to table this until i get back from the kennel and walk both dogs. Jump into shower and push semi living giant flying bug down the drain with my toe.
9:30 am- On the road... now back home, i would be hard pressed to be out the door in half an hour and presentable but i have new KIWI standards and thus have no shame leaving my home with the barest of make-up and semblance of a hairdo. What hairdo? My Hairdresser is pushing 80 and she cuts my locks with a straight razor to keep the curls from going out of control. Honestly wet hair is better. Have you ever seen the episode of Friends where Monica goes to the tropics and her normally straight hair gets bigger in every scene? Yes, that's me!
11:15am -arrive home with Big Boy and introduce him to the 7lb bundle of fun. I have to say that it didn't go *that* badly all things considered. I knew that Thabo would be easy enough going what i didn't know was how freaked out Wally would be by his size. She ran over to him flopped on her back and pee'd herself into submission.
11:30 - 12:00 -Followed the trail of Wally dribble around the house with my carpet cleaner.
12:00-1:00 - maybe it's like shutting the gate after the horses have gotten out but have decided to take both dogs on a walk in the jungle. Thabo *may* be a wee out of shape for all the hill climbing we did. He started off strong enough but like a pack a day smoker i was hard pressed to get him to walk all the way home.
1:00-3:00pm - Paint trim in Master Bedroom. This is fun! Well i have a really really hard time painting nice stained wood over with a solid paint usually. It goes against everything in my mind much like laying carpet over hardwood -it just shouldn't be done! But the wood is tired looking and if we try and pry it from the walls it just breaks so what to do? I'm not *that* much of a Martha to hand sand and re-stain so white paint it is! Actually it looks a lot less dated now that i have added the 4th coat.
3:15 pm -Reward myself with food. A bad time of day to be sure... not one to eat breakfasts and skipping lunch, usually it's something fast and crappy that goes to fill the void. Hey! And a News Flash! New Zealand is now importing Doritos!!! I went out and bought all the flavours to stimulate sales. Like most foods here with familiar labels from home i buy it's never really tastes the same -almost but a little to the left if you know what i mean? They have started bringing in KRAFT products and i have been supporting the Philly cream cheese and slices but ya, I'm used to a certain texture with the cream cheese back home and this is more likened to sour cream consistency and the slices are white and not tasting a whole like KRAFT. Apparently there is some copy write laws here as well because brands like Kellogg's have to rename their Rice Krispies to Rice Bubbles and even though i recognise the McCain brand logo it's under the pseudonym "Keri"... the groceries are under some sort of witness protection program down here.
3:30pm -Kids arrive home and in tears after seeing Thabo at the door... what a reunion!
4:00pm- It's the worst part of the day... i am beat and have hours to go. Not motivated to cook dinner and unless it's Saturday (my day off from being the chef and pizza rules the roost i have to drag my ass back into the "Camper Kitchen" and sort it out. My kitchen *is* very similar to the 5th wheel we owned in our previous life... tiny stove... squat little fridge... lacking in cupboards. KIWI homes rarely have cabinets above the counters - i can't figure this out. I have issues with trying to fit in 1 cookie sheet into the oven. For roasting and such i have turned to my BBQ to fill the void. I am soo happy that i made Chris bring that monster with us. So yes, in most likelihood we are BBq-ing *something* tonight.
6:00pm dinner is served in the TV room. Used to have a dining room... before the Man decided to hang the much needed light above the table but that was a job in itself with rewiring to accommodate and the holes in the walls to be patched/sanded/ and filled. Now my china cabinet is in the middle of the room and it's contents fill the table pushed to the far wall waiting on Himself to finish what he started. The kids and I don't bitch because we like eating in front of the TV... it's a treat and it keeps them from stabbing each other over perceived hoarded condiments at the table.
6:30pm Clean up and walk the dogs. Neither seem to appeal to the kids so i spend a fair amount of my time yelling at this point and throwing the odd guilt dart hoping it hits one of them in the middle of their forehead.
8:00pm- Back on the couch... maybe pretending to either watch a program or read. I have my eyes closed and am begging for bed. There have been times when the kids just leave me in this position and wander off to their own rooms for the night....
8:30pm Start the 5 min cycle of reminding the masses to get ready for bed. Repeat until 9:oo
9:00pm - stumble into each child's room and kiss them goodnight warning them that i will be back if lights aren't off at 9:30. This is a complete crock of bull since they both know i will be drooling in my own bed by that time and likely could have a house party with me none the wiser.
9:05pm- ready for bed with my book and reading glasses on ready to read..
9:06pm- passed out with reading light on and in the semi upright position. At some point in the evening i wake up enough to take off my reading glasses and turn out the light or Ronin comes in and does it for me.
Yes, that's the cycle folks... the little party animal is tucked away for the night ready for yet another 5:45 am wake up call...I know i must be the envy of you all!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Blindside

With a title like it you can usually assume it's to do with one of the men in this house. Men. What is it about them that drives women nuts? "The problem with women... (men say) is you can't understand them and all those whatyoucallem? Emotions."Totally irrational and emotionally driven." Ehhh, well there's the flip side to that coin I might counter. Men are just problem solving machines looking at logic to rule. It's not to say that one is better than the other. Time and my relationship has taught me that I eventually work thru issues with a bit of added logic and generally emotions do follow the Man once the logical decision is made. How is it though that we are so different? Can you do anything to change what is inherently part of the genetic make up of another. Blah blah blah, too *emotional* I see, I should make my point.

Here's the deal; Ronin is having girl problems and while listening to him muddle thru the issue i have to laugh at his totally "logical" way of making a choice. It appears that the Boy is in high demand in school by the ladies. Why this makes me feel like a mother bear with a cub I'm not sure. For some reason I am able to relate and empathize with the Girl about her boyfriend dreams but it's quite another kettle of fish to find some Kiwi tarts trying to get their hooks into my little man.

Ro came home today in a pissy mood. I assumed that since I was going back with him for our first Meet the Teacher night that maybe he was upset by some of the comments his teacher was going to make. I too was getting prepared by drinking a glass of wine. Anyways, a bit of prodding and a few jellybeans later he gives off this big sigh and says, "Mom, it's a girl and I don't know what to do. I need your advice." OHMYGOD! The boy who tells us nothing of his personal life is FINALLY going to open a door. I sip my wine and nod encouragingly. "Ok, Ro what seems to be the problem." "Well, he says, Lilly asked me if I wanted to be her boyfriend and I wasn't sure about that so I told her that I had to go home and ask my Mom." (I am totally keeping a straight face at this point because to my knowledge Ronin's motto has always been to do something first then ask for forgiveness after). The Boy then got a bit emotional with me because then he blurted out that Lilly's retort was to call him a Pussy and walk away. He say, "She was so mad at me and ya, what is a Pussy anyways?" Oh sweet Jesus, hold on Ro. Mommy needs to refill her wine glass. So while I drain the dregs of the first glass he goes on to tell me that she is giving him till tomorrow for an answer but he has ANOTHER bit to add to this; Christie ALSO asked him out today and he told her as well that he had to ask me first before giving an answer. Ok seriously? Seriously, what is going on with these girls? My gut instinct is to tell Ronin to tell these hussies to back off but really, if I do that then maybe the next one he brings home to me is a heroine addict supporting herself by stripping. I feel that I am on a slippery slope here folks and so I just ask the question right back to the Boy; "What do you FEEL about this honey?"

The Logic button kicks in right about now and he starts to list the pros and cons of both Lilly and Christie. Lilly is better looking but Christie is the class President and has a lot of "power" and he's quite drawn to that I am hearing. Another point for Christie was that she didn't call him a Pussy and was willing to wait on my answer. BUT Lilly is still pretty.... The more he went on in his logical way the more aghast I was at no mention of any emotional ties he had to either so I asked him, "Which one makes you feel good when you are around them?" Well, they are both nice (I am assuming name calling aside here) but the thing that swayed it towards Christie was this Logical Tid Bit that the Boy came up with; "I think it's gonna be Christie because as a guy you maybe don't want to have someone as good looking as you or better looking than you. It will make her want to try harder to keep me as her boyfriend." ???? Forget the glass, I am now drinking straight from the bottle. Look, I *know* we are talking about 10 year olds here but the deal is this whole visual I am getting right now of the years to come and the differences between my two children. Clearly, ever so clearly, I can see my baby Girl one day floating down an aisle in some gossamery white gown on her Daddy's arm in a big beautiful church with my surgically enhanced self dabbing tears from my smooth, youthful, (but not overly done) dewy complexion. (I didn't know the Bride had an older sister? That can't be her Mother!) Yes, there will be a lovely reception and her dancing in Doctor So'n So's arms and everything will have such a magical quality about it.
Then I see the Boy.... leaving me a note telling me all about his impending nuptials at the Local Trailer Park (BYOB) with his stripper wife and 2 kids from the previous relationships she's had (But she's "pretty" Mom! And since she's stopped the Crystal Meth her skin has really cleared up!) I also see him asking for a cash "Donation" to put towards her new set of boobs as a wedding gift. Like *that* is going to happen! Anyone getting a new set of boobs around here should be your Mother.... trust me on this son, she will have earned them by the time we boot you out of the house and a hefty dose of Botox too to get rid of all the lines that you are beginning to put in my face! See? I told you I am able to reach the logic once I have gone through the emotions.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

More Vacation Memories

Ok, enough Mamma Drama and all that health care crap. Let's go back and revisit some of the fun we had while the Man's parents were here.

After a quick recovery of our nature walk the Cruise Director decided to take the family on a trip to Rotorua. What can i tell you about the town? Much like any of BC's little pit stops of touristy fun fun towns. Actually, if you really want to get a better feel of the place picture Kamloops. Well, strike that. SMELL Kamloops and it's pulp mills and you will get a better picture. Rotorua is built around the sulfur pits. The smell hits you like a brick wall upon your arrival (after endless butt clenching in the car around the windy 4 hour road). I thought to myself, "It's strong but you will get used to it in a few hours and you will hardly notice it!" Um, no. Every day was just as pungent as the next... the only reprieve is when a wind caught just so. But hey! it's gorgeous there.

The first order of business was to locate the rental the Man procured on the Internet. Sounded fantastic with it's 3 bedrooms/2 baths/ hot tub and kitchen! It was absolutely all that it claimed to be on the Internet (thank you God!) and we quickly unloaded the masses from the car with our little puppy, Wally, to meet the caretaker/owner who greeted us with a huge smile until her eyes drifted to the pup. Apparently the Man didn't enquire to the policy of pets and for sure there was a huge STOP sign on the proprietors face. As I have mentioned before; the Kiwi are *such* a polite folk. She stammered her policy of no dogs and lamented that it would be hard at this point to find another lodging... if only there was a way. She nervously got her husband who said that under no uncertain terms was the puppy allowed in our unit. We had brought Wally's crate with us and we all nodded to the beat while he read us the riot act. The dog should remain in it's crate outside on the deck unless we were about and then it was allowed to wander freely in our fenced yard. Ok, well... that would be almost do-able except for the four days we were there it rained on every one! Soooo, yes. We snuck the puppy into the house in the evening so she could lay on our bed and sleep. I was up at 5 am to dodge the owners and was taking her for long walks around the neighborhood. It was a good set up until the morning the owner came into our yard and peeked into the kennel. We thought we were being crafty by putting one of Shay's Stuffy's in there but he noticed the decoy and knocked on our door where my father in law answered that morning with the wriggling bundle of joy in his arms. With his eyes bulging the owner blustered and whined "It's not fair!" and stormed away. Not fair? Ok, I agree, it's not fair... but we were trying our best here and the dog was cleaner than clean with all 6 hands constantly taking her on walks. WE also know that the guy was lurking in his window to try and catch us in the act AND I have no doubt he was in our unit while we were all away on day trips looking for stray dog hairs on the carpet. No matter Ole Stink Eye was certainly most happy to see us go at the end.

Some of the day trips we took were quite fun. We went into the Redwood forests for a walk and Chris decided that we should go "off trail" for a wander. Does *everyone* have short term memory loss? Have we all forgotten getting lost in our own back yard for hours? Well, it turned out ok at any rate.

We also went to a Kiwi conservation zoo. As you may or may not know; the Kiwi bird is not only our national symbol but also an endangered species. For 10's of thousands of years these critters ran around the island with no natural enemy. Then the white man came and messed it up. They have no wings, no natural defenses and are easily killed. Shayla has come to love the Kiwi Bird (although in truth the label "bird" is miss leading) The Kiwi have more traits that liken it to a mammal than a bird if you sit in on the lecture. Anywho, the big thing here is that Shay got to actually touch one -or rather it ran up and touched her with it's beak while we were standing in a breeding room, in the dark. Very shy and nocturnal are the Kiwi and such a rare experience for anyone to have a close encounter. She was over the moon and tears welled up in her eyes after having the gentle creature come up to her. She left the pavilion and shelled out some of her meager savings to "adopt" a Kiwi which she goes online and see updates from time to time.

We didn't do any Zorbing -that being thrown into a huge inflatable ball and rolled down the hill? We did, however take in the luge. That was an interesting experience with us riding up the side of a small mountain in a gondola to don smelly helmets and stand in line for a luge to appear off of what would be really a chair lift type of thing. Three races and three levels of expertise to choose from. Of course we all opted for the beginner run for the first go round. Very much like a toboggan really with a steering wheel and some rudimentary way of slowing down. The sleds were all damp from another recent rainfall so it was a bit squishy sitting down in mine. No matter... 1.5 km ride should be nice and oh? is that rain I smell again? Yup, being the mother hen that i am i waited until everyone else went (didn't hear any screams so off Iboarded) and about 2 minutes into the ride a downpour of rain commenced. I was sooo prepared with my little shorts and sweater on! The rain made the track extra special in it's slipperiness and I was sailing down at break neck speed laughing like a loon. Of course, everyone *else* had gone first and was safely tucked under an overhang -nice and dry when I made my "big spash" at the finish. I was a sponge -a soaked rat if you will. Wow! look at that! I have 4 more rides that we have paid for and so off we go again up the chair lift and on to bigger and steeper runs. Some ppl had enough of the wetness and were flogging off their extra ride tickets on us....seriously?? The Boy was in his glory and outlasted us all by sailing down the expert runs while the rest of us waited at the top in semi protection from the elements.

Yes, we all went and looked at "where's that smell coming from." Or the Sulfur parks if you prefer. ANOTHER seemingly endless trek around bubbling craters emitting the foulest of foul smells. I would have vomited at the stench but hadn't eaten that morning so tried quietly to dry heave while other around me raved enthusiastically and snapped oodles of picture of goopy mud and day glow water pools. You know, if I could have just shoved an air freshener up my nose I would have enjoyed the whole thing and will tell you though that the formations were nothing like I have ever seen. It was like being on another planet with it's strange trees and rocks and the day glow waters. The heat emanating from all around was so intense and the lack of animals was even stranger.It was an eery kind of quiet. I kinda wondered if there were any animals that could thrive here. I wouldn't likely want to encounter them at any rate. Shades of Stephen King novels come back to haunt me.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Health Care? What's that?

Well, after some trepidation and requests for posting this I have decided to write about my (ever so personal) experiences with the NZ Health Care System.

Ah, Good old Canada. How I miss the days of running to the Medi Centers with sick kids and sitting in a petri dish of snotty nosed people and hacking children crying in the waiting room for hours on end trying not to breathe. While waiting for the Doctor to finally call our name I spend much of my time scrunching myself into the smallest space possible thus avoiding touching anyone or anything that is most certainly contaminated with this week's bug. But really, what is the sacrifice for "free" medical attention and a kick ass insurance plan to cover the meds? As a certain commercial would claim; "Priceless".

We have been most fortunate here so far as not coming down with anything. That said I did make it a priority to go and establish a relationship with a family Doctor down here. Things are a bit different Health Care wise with a pay to play idea of visiting your physician. I am almost sure that the waiting rooms back home would be cut to half if this were ever the policy back home. The cost to us is partially covered by the Government here but we do pay about $30 out of pocket each time we go. Of course the price skyrockets if you should ever need to seek the advice of a Specialist...if you choose not to be put on a 6 month waiting list. My thoughts are if you are in need of a Specialist? you are going to buck up the money if you are able. Good news on that is that you are almost certain to retain their services in a few days time.

Chris is going in for surgery on his knee. The Man has managed to rip something inside of his knee the week we moved into the house. Apparently he DID need help moving the Curio cabinet from the garage to the living room. He's lost so much muscle mass in his leg it's scary. Got him into the DR...which lead to an MRI which is leading to surgery with a scope to fix some bone chips in his knee and get him back to shape. Easy procedure i am told and the recovery is 4-6wks. Maybe we will get him a cane with flames on it like House? He's happy to finally have an answer and solution. We have had enough time to look into our health care policy and it *looks* like it will be covered for the most part. I am sooo leery of these policies after watching Micheal Moore's doc on the US health care system and ppl paying premiums and still getting screwed over for 10's of thousands of dollars.

So that kinda leads me to well, me; For the last 4 months i have been struggling with a growth in female plumbing department. At first i thought it was perhaps an ingrown hair.. I mean it started like that. A bump, tender and reddish. It would grow to about the size of marble and then shortly around the time of my period it kinda disappeared. There would be a week of fine-ness and then the cycle would start again. By month #3 I had an app't with my Dr. It was back again but now it's the size of an egg yolk. She put me on antibiotics and scheduled me with an OBGYN (private of course if i wanted to bee seen this year sometime). Went and paid my $200 about 10 days ago to see the Dr. Unfortunately there was nothing to really look/feel at as it was gone. She gave me a best couple of guesses and told me to make another app't if the growth came back. It did... about 3 days later (irony!) and WOW! it was fantastic! Of course at that point I was in full on period mode AND now we are talking the whole egg not just a yolk. It was all I could do to keep going thru my day with the pain. AND I caught a cold! YAY ME! Coughing was like almost tandem to passing out. So, here I am... trying to sit and drive to see Thabo every day... the in laws are still here ( a blessing really) and just trying... trying to make it till after dinner where i would finish cooking and creep quietly off to bed. So yesterday was my 2nd OBGYN app't. I went in, she confirmed what she thought it was.. my Bartholin's Gland was probably blocked... didn't unblock by itself and I have an abscess and cyst forming there. Maybe the cyst was on/in the gland... who knows until I go in for surgery. Well, this is where it kinda goes off the rails. So I am sitting on the bed with just my dress hiked up to my waist having this discussion on going in on Friday (booking the theater, getting the staff, anesthesiologist... and Ii interrupt her and say, "How much is this going to cost?" Well, you know Dr's... she gets kinda flustered and says she really is not sure and I would have to take it up with the staff behind the desk and I interrupt and say "This is in the thousands isn't it?" Looking quite uncomfortable she nods. I don't have that kind of money atm...( think of the shoes I could buy!) hell I am not even sure if we are covered. How many claims of surgery can you have in a given month before they yank you off the policy or jack up your already gag worthy premium? Ok, so I say to her, "Can we do this right now? Here in this room. Can you cut this out of me?" There is a beat and then a small "yes, I could do this but you understand that I could only put in a local." OK then. Tell me what you need to do in this procedure since I will be here with you and awake and i kinda like the details before they happen. So she tells me that she will cut an X and take out the cyst... drain the fluid and then stitch it open and the gland needs to heal from the root out. She says the local is only going to be good for (at most) an hour. She can give me pain scripts and details on how to clean the wound after and that's about that.

Yes, for a second I thought of just booking the surgery...but I also know that it couldn't come close to giving birth on a pain scale so hell... I just said "go grab your gear and let's do this!" I only hesitated for a second when my stupid vanity kicked in and I said something about how is this going to look after? LOL, I mean it's right beside my episiotomy scar... will it really matter? She assured me that it will look pretty much the same after it's healed. SOoooo ya. She made about three trips to the surgery to get her gear and I just laid there thinking my pretty thoughts and tried to remember the calming breathing techniques they teach you in childbirth. The needle was the worst. When a DOCTOR tells you "this is going to hurt" you KNOW; THIS IS GOING TO HURT!! Well the site was already under pressure with fluids and injecting even MORE into it... I tell you, it WAS like giving birth all over again. I was cursing like a sailor (oh those poor women in the waiting room!) and in the back of my mind I was saying "Do NOT grab the OBGYN and scratch her eyes out, DO NOT!" We kinda waiting a minute for everything to settle in and then we had some surgery to do. There were sample taken and are being shipped off to the lab to make sure the mass was ok. I think the funniest thing while I am there with her between my legs is her saying "Oops!" WTF?? I crane my head forward and I say "Look. Here's a tip; when the patient is AWAKE, they NEVER want to hear oops". What's going on down there? Well apparently she was having issues with the needle getting tangled in the thread. So there I sit about 20 min later with a big pad on me (wasn't I *just* in a pad a couple of days ago?) and she's writing scripts for pain and bots. She looks up at me and asks how far do I have to drive to get home? I am thinking (rush hour now) about 40 min...yes, we both know what that is going to mean. The local will be long gone before I can reach the safety of my house. Well, what to do? How bad can it be? Worse than the 10 scale that I walked in with? As it turned out about 2 minutes into my drive the local instantly disappeared and guess what? I was sitting on a 12 now! GO ME!

No one knew what I was up to that day. I mean everyone knew I was going in for a looksie but ya.... took me forever to get out of the car and to the front door where astonished looks greeted me as I handed over my scripts with a terse "fill. these. now." My father in law beat a hasty retreat to the Chemist with the girl and I was offered the only comfort my mother in law could think of at the time... a glass of wine. The pain killers are kick ass... I get one every 12 hours. I did take a mirror down there and peeked and it is just as the OB described to me, "It looks a bit like the dogs breakfast." Nice.

Now, no freaking out is required. Everything is "ok". I *promise* to pay my $30 to have the stitches removed even though I am thinking "How hard can it be?"..... God Bless the Alberta Health Care system!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Holidays with Chris's Parents.... or how i dropped 10lbs in 2 hours

We are well into the heat of the summer now. Sunrise is at 6:28 am and it is setting around 9:04pm. I know this without ever having to glance outside you know. And NO! I'm not reading from the weather channel either... what fun would that be? How I know this actually is when the clock hits 6:28 am we are hit by the ALL CONSUMING jungle song of the Cicada bug. They live in our trees you see? They start the day and continue on (without a break) until nightfall. I actually don't know how many there are out there, I am guessing hundreds because frankly if I stop and think in the thousands I get a little queasy. For the most part you can hear them but don't actually get many sightings. The biggest bit of excitement of an encounter so far is my Father in Laws. He decided to do a bit of reading in his bed with the lights on and the windows open. One friendly little fella was attracted to the light and landed in his bed playing his ever so loud wing song. Dad won't cop to doing the actual pee pee dance but he did manage to catch it and release it outside (um, well that probably was my Mother in Law that did that) and so the Cicada left only to return seconds later - repeat... repeat again... finally close window!

So YES! We have Chris's parents here for a three week visit! It's been lovely so far and we have managed to take them out and about to see a bit of the New Zealand sites. A scant two hours after their arrival Chris decided a "walk" around the neighbourhood and down to the beach would be nice for them. I was a bit iffy on the idea as they had been traveling for 14 hours to get here but everyone was game. So, out into the backyard we go and into the bush. Kinda had to make our own path thru the trees and cobwebs... sorta a half walk and sliding on your bum thing down the embankments but we ended up on an actual path a few minutes later. Everyone was chatty and in high spirits as we ended up at our rocky beach 15 minutes later... looked at the waves and started along the coastline.... over rocks, er... mud.... a wee bit of water... and on and on.... I finally caught up to our fearless leader after carrying Ronin thru the water at one point and asked Himself if he knew where we were actually going. There didn't seem to be any clear path that would lead us up back into the houses that were looming above us on cliffs. "Oh yes, just around the bend here" was the reply. Uh huh... ok maybe not that bend but the next one... or is it the one bend 1 km down the beach i see? Really kinda like one of those desert mirages everything seems closer than it really is. I have to say at this point the chit chat started to peter out and everyone was kinda doing the glance thing at the tide that was coming in and gaging the rocks for scaling. No matter, we found an entry back into the forest that would (hopefully) lead us back up to civilization. Another km or so and we were out of the forest and into a neighborhood that I have never seen. The sun was making it's presence known and the heat hit us like a wall as there was no wind to be had. This was becoming ridiculous! Where the hell are we Chris? Well, at the bottom of a very steep hill lined with houses and so began our climb up, up, up! At one point I just *had* to stop! We found a bit of shade and I assessed the troops. No sun hats, no water.... no idea where i was. I am thinking (as I try to work up enough spit to swallow) that this is a fine way to kill your parents. Finally I see the cemetery and I *know* we live on the other side of it. What i didn't know was how humungous the land was to house the dead... and wow, maybe we should just pick a plot in the sun here and all lay down and save someone the trouble of transporting us back there. So I point across the valley and say to my Mother in Law, "we live over there! On the other side of this!" The reply was, "You want me to walk ALL the way down there and ALL the way back up !" Um yes, and probably another couple of Km to the house... we have beer... Well, that was enough to keep them moving. So after our little jaunt and a beer the folks greatfully went to their room and passed out. I am giving Himself the ole Stink Eye and hissed at him, "So, trying to kill them are you? I hope that you, Mr. Cruise Director of this *holiday* they are supposed to be having has something a little less daunting on the agenda tomorrow!" "Of course! he replies stoutly. I have it all under control." God Save us.... I know there will be more to write.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

I find myself hoarding little tid bits of our life here. Not big enough to write about as a whole but they are almost always falling into the category of "Things that make you go hmmmm". So that's what you have today odd ramblings of the funny observations around Auckland.

- Walking to visit Ming the other day for milk and seeing a sign in the window of the Take Away Asian restaurant. Well two signs actually. The first reads the Daily Chicken Chow Mein Special Price and the other was an advert for a missing pet rabbit. Will order the fish from now on.

- Shay getting the handle on the local lingo. For some reason she thought that all her friends were saying "Sweet ASS" when commenting on something great so she eagerly tried it out only to have conversations stop and the crickets commence. Apparently the phrase is "Sweet AS."

- Apparently honking is a good form of communication between drivers and is well accepted. Flipping someone the bird will get you followed and possibly shot. It's that rude to the Kiwi's. (i use my hands only for good now and lay them firmly on the horn.) Some times I will give them the devil sign as I drive by though for fun.

- There is no such thing as family size or Jumbo anything in the grocery. You buy everything small. I am guessing this is because there are no regular size fridges here. Also, Kraft Dinner is not widely recognized and thus not carried. No cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie filling either. Ah, but you can buy pumpkins in June. Lots of help that does me over our North American holiday traditions of turkey and trimmings.

- Gravy is not a condiment for fries. You can ask for ketchup but prolly will get a tomato salsa/sauce unless you visit your Uncle Micky D's.

-Car insurance is suggested but not mandatory and your licence plate is registered to your car not you. It's really exciting to get behind the wheel now that i know this. Like the Vegas odds of how screwed are you going to be when someone hits you.

-Brewed coffee is considered yucky but instant coffee is the bomb!

- No more "client" / shop talk write off lunches. Chris packs his own like everyone else in the office. <> He's all the envy some days as he usually gets leftovers; pork roast, steak and potato, Chicken and stuffing.

- Wine, pedicures, manicures are cheap. Everything else is expensive. Easily a 30-45% markup from North American Prices. I am New Zealand's newest fan of Trade Me. A country wide version of Ebay. Have managed to become quite the bargain hunter and thus we are able to continue to update the look of our Bride.

- Birds are the only animals that are indigenous to the islands. All animals that are here in the wild were introduced at some point. Possums were originally introduced in NZ to start a fur trade but as they have no known enemy here they have become a very real problem to the natural forest areas. We average about 20 possums to 1 person. Personally I think it may be a hostile takeover from Australia where they are actually a protected species. Their trees have needles and barriers that keep the possums from eating them. Anyways, they are commonly referred to as New Zealand's Little Speed Bumps.

As a final note to this I should also say that the ozone layer over the island is almost none existent. A 30 block minimum is recommended and the kids have uniform hats and block is mandatory for them when outside. Chris has found out the hard way about the liberal use of sun screen and I have been playing nurse by layering thick gobs of cooling gel waiting for the new skin to crack the lobster from his shell.

I hope some of this will help you in future Trivial Pursuit games!