Sophie asked "Why does it rain all the days!?" It's torture that we just bought a new trampoline and the girls have only been able to jump on it a handful of times. Instead they sit and look at it through the window, cursing the rain. Today we exited the post office and Sophie exclaimed as loud as she could "Mom! The sun is out AND it's not raining!!!" I laughed along with the other people coming out of the post office. It really is something to be excited about! We rejoiced for sure!
The housing conditions in New Zealand have been making headlines here due to the passing of a new grant trying to improve the standard of health in homes across the country. Things like oh, insulation, sub-flooring, double glazed windows and central heating are VERY uncommon here and as a result, during our very damp winters, many people suffer from health problems.
While we are lucky enough to live in a house with insulation, double glazing and central heat, it's still not sealed like one would expect. Our front door always has a breeze blowing through it as does our sliding door. So even though we keep our house much cooler than we would in the states (15º C or 59º F) we received our first heating bill with much shock. It didn't help that it was for almost two months on one bill. Let's just say there was a comma in the amount. Not something I wanted to save up for.
Kiwis take it in stride though. Someone was telling me their indoor winter wardrobe standard. Two singlets, a t shirt, a long sleeve and a sweater with sheepskin boots. Something is wrong here! Another friend said she got home to find her husband and son in jackets with hats on. She asked "Where are you going?". They weren't going anywhere, just dressed to stay warm inside.
The ads on the radio poke fun at it as well. One company's ad stated that buying a sweatshirt is much cheaper than insulating your house. "It's the kiwi way!". I mentioned to another fellow American how I felt like a wuss for being cold. She said "Nah, you bought into that harden up crap. I make no apologies for wanting to be warm." It clicked for me that I shouldn't either. I am still wearing my sheepskin boots but am bumping the heat up one degree as well. I guess we'll meet in the middle.
It snowed and hailed at our new house today. Sophie instantly wanted to be outside in the weather while Josie placed one foot on the deck and exclaimed "My feet awe too cowd!". Sophie and I put a big mixing bowl outside to collect the hail which she brought in and ate with Jake.
Jake was trying to sleep in this morning and Josie sat in the living room, bellowing periodically at Sophie. I came in to remind her (yet again) that her daddy was sleeping. I took one step out of view and she picked up the mallet for her xylophone and proceeded to beat on it. I stepped back in and she looked up at me and asked "Too loud?" with a huge grin on her face. She knows. Oh she knows.
We had oatmeal and toast for breakfast this morning. Sophie is in charge of making the toast lately. She gets her chair up, puts the bread in, we retrieve it once it's done and then she gets to butter it. Lots of crumbs fly but she is proud as a peacock. I made the mistake of licking the butter knife in front of her the other day. She literally gasped and said "Oh Mom! No! No! No! You'll cut your tongue!".
At bedtime, Sophie likes to have her head rubbed from the base of her neck up to the top of her head. "From my neck to my hair" she instructs every night and she is is usually out like a light within 5 minutes of me leaving the room. Grandpa's Revenge, on the other hand, likes to call "Mommmaaayye" over and over. Tonight I decided to tough it out and just let her shout to her hearts content. She's not upset, just bored I think. She decided to add "Can you hear me??" to her calls of my name. Then when that wasn't working she pulled out her Ace in the Hole and said "I need to go poopoos." I was 90% sure she was just trying to get out of bed but what are you going to do if she really has to go. She was pleased with herself when I got her out to head to the toilet.
We've been thinking of you lots and hope this window into our day brings a smile to your face.
A few weekends ago we attended our first Kiwi (ok, they're Australian) birthday party. It was lots of fun for the girls and a learning experience for us all.
The party was for my friend's daughter who was turning 5. I asked if I could bring anything and she said fairy bread. "Sure!" I replied, having no idea what she was talking about. I googled it while we were still on the phone and found out that it is white bread with the crusts removed, spread with margerine (pronounced margereene) and topped with 100's and 1000's (multi-colored sprinkles). I can totally manage that. I didn't have margerine but butter worked. The major problem was when I ran out of 100's and 1000's and turned to colored sugar sprinkles instead. I showed up and people seemed confused. "Is this jam?" When I informed them that it was colored sugar, a couple of people seemed put off by it. I was thinking "WTF? Colored sugar is less refined than sprinkles!" Oh well. The kids ate it and we got to learn that fairy bread is a staple at every kids party here.
Next for some party games. The first game was simple. The trampoline was covered in balloons which apparently had lollies (pieces of candy, not necessarily lollipops) inside. All the kids had to do was pop the balloon by any means they choose to get the candy out. Most kids just sat on them but I saw several laying down on them and biting them. Whatever it takes right?
Pass the parcel was up next. This is a cute idea and also a staple at parties here. You buy a small gift (or two in this case), wrap it in wrapping paper, then start wrapping it with newspaper placing a lollie or other small prize in between each layer of newspaper. Repeat this so there are many layers, hopefully enough that everyone will get a small prize. Have all the kids sit in a circle and start the parcels on either end of the circle. Play some music and have the kids pass the parcel until the music stops. Whomever is holding the parcel gets to unwrap a layer and collect a treat. Like musical chairs but everyone wins! Also the last kid to get the package keeps the little gift inside. It's a very cute game but was hard for my girls to grasp that they didn't get to keep the present once it was passed to them. Or in Sophie's case, that it's not hot potato and you don't have to move it so quickly that you never get a turn opening it. It all worked out and she got a special treat from the mum after the game was over but man, it's hard watching your child's disappointed face during those games.
I've been feeling like we are acclimated but each time we do regular, everyday things, I learn something new.
Every year, someone invariably makes the comment "I can't believe it's almost Labor Day already!" and I go into a mild panic thinking of the dark winter days ahead, then try to pack in as much outdoor time and sun as I can before autumn hits. Fall usually carries a certain amount of bittersweet melancholy, a counter-balance to the feverish joy that late spring and summer bring to upstate New York. Late winter and early spring are what inspire the panic, the hardest part for me.
Living south of the equator for the first time in my life, I'm a little lost without my usual seasonal bearings. We're in the equivalent of late August here, with only a few weeks of summer left. I can tell the days are getting shorter, and last week ended with a real doozy of a rainstorm that reminded me what winter in Wellington is all about. I know I should feel that Labor-Day-is-coming anxiety, but at the same time I know Easter is coming soon with all its rebirth and spring-related renewal. It's just as hard to think about making stews in May as it was having to barbeque in December.
The reality is my heart is in two places, or maybe three or more now - wherever I've made a home for myself and my family, and wherever my family and friends are. Thank goodness for the internet, as it makes it easier for me to check the weather where you are and imagine what it would be like to drop in unannounced for a cup of coffee and whatever it is you might be baking. Happy weekend everyone, we miss you!
Before I get to the complaining, I just want to everyone to know, I am grateful, I am grateful, I am grateful.
Now that we have that out of the way, I really, really miss US customer service and specifically the people who work in medical offices in the US. Here's a conversation I had recently when trying to reschedule an appointment for Josie to another time in the day.
The hospital receptionist answered and I asked to speak to the children's ward. The children's ward person answered. I let her know my daughter had an appointment at the end of March which was scheduled right at her nap time and could I change the appointment. She replied "I just shut my system down. Do you want me to look it up?" I mentally answered, "Um, that's why I am effing calling!". Out loud I said "Yes please. I'd like to see if there are any alternate appointments." She informed me while her system was booting, that these appointments fill up quickly. What? Am I not calling two and a half months in advance?? Anyhow, she confirmed that the clinic was full that day. Oh but she did have another appointment. In MAY. And at the same effing time. "Um, do you have any appointments that aren't at that time of day? Also, we can't wait two more months to have this check up." She was seriously no help. Any maybe it's not her fault. I mean, I have no idea how often this ONE pediatrician at the hospital has a clinic but it can't be that often. I can't even ask to see another doctor.
The biggest complaint I have about this is that the staff seem to do the minimal effort. I mean, asking me if I want her to go through all the effort of starting up her scheduling computer (who knows, it might have just been a desktop paper calendar!) when that is her JOB!