Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sailing - Lake Wakatipu

I clicked on our blog link and was stunned. We haven't blogged since 16 December.

Well we're back - This post about spring sailing was written 17 December and I found it today sitting in my "List of posts." I guess I never posted it.


Colin and Liam are taking sailing lessons at the Wakatipu Yacht Club.



The pictures are from the first lesson. Liam seemed to catch on immediately zooming around the bay. Colin and his mate traveled with the water current more than they sailed with the wind. They were so far away with no signs of returning that the rescue boat went to retrieve them and towed them back to the dock. Luckily Colin found the wind in subsequent lessons. Both boys can capsize and right their boats. In fact, capsizing is the highlight at the end of each lesson. The water is freezing, almost literally. All the kids wear wetsuits!

Spring is here! Sunshine, long days and warmth - finally. My condolences to the northern hemisphere that is freezing right now. Not much you can do about it, except head south, way south!

(Reading the last couple of lines of this entry, I realize one reason the blog went on hiatus. Summer is fleeting. Our first Queenstown summer I didn't understand the frenetic panic to play in the summer's warmth and sunshine. When our second summer began, I understood the urgency. Summer here is short and elusive. Warm days are precious. I couldn't get myself to stay inside the house and sit at the computer. Every warm summer night I headed outside to walk, ride, weed the veggie garden or just sit and watch night arrive late. Now in May, frost already dusts the paddocks in the morning and the mountains have first coat of snow. It is dark early and getting colder outside.)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Koromakawa - Days 4 and 5

I can't believe a whole month has passed since my last post.

Since we are on the road for the holidays in four days, I don't have time to write a full description of the rest of our Koromakawa adventure right now. I thought I would at least get the rest of the pictures uploaded.

Day 4:



Day 5:



It was a blissful stay with the most generous, truly friendly people.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Koromakawa - Day 3



We were land bound on Day 3 with high winds on the sea. We had a relaxing day of reading and games - Yahtzee, Monopoly and horseshoes. Doug and I even had an afternoon nap. The boys, who have been resistant to napping since birth, quietly read while we dozed. Waking up from a lazy afternoon nap, listening to the wind and water was absolutely delicious.

After we returned home, we read a news story in The Southland Times that a New Zealand woman was shipwrecked during the storm, not far from where we we staying on Ono Island.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

We voted as Kiwis and Americans this week

Wow! I won't attempt to articulate the feelings of elation and hope we feel with Barack Obama's victory. I have spent lots of time reading to myself and to Colin and Liam much more eloquent accounts that express feelings being experienced by myself and by people all around the world.

Far away in NZ, the Kirkpatricks are feeling proud to be Americans. I read this article posted in the New Zealand Herald and it definitely resonated:

Suddenly, it may be cool to be American again - 06 Nov 2008 - NZ Herald: International and World News

The day after the U.S. election, Liam got off the bus beaming. He has felt, on some level, under a dark American cloud at school. The comments have been off-handed, but even Liam at 10 can understand that they are definitely not pro-American. He has sensed the frustration and anger that people here have felt towards many of the current US policies. We have explained to Liam that his friends and classmates mimic what they hear at home and that these comments are about U.S. politics and policies and are not directed at him or us personally. In class this week, he was called on to share his understanding of the significance of Obama as president-elect of the US. Liam told us during dinner that he explained to his class about the Civil War and slavery, then went on to describe the civil rights struggle. He also tried to explain the U.S. presidential election process. His class spent part of two consecutive days discussing the U.S. election. I would say they were the happiest two school days in the last year for Liam. He felt proud to be an American for the first time in his New Zealand classroom. I never expected this profound reaction from Liam at age 10.

I've been asked if New Zealanders are interested in the US election. Kiwis avidly followed the campaign and election day. People ALL over our world as well as New Zealand, celebrated Barack Obama's election as the 44th president of the United States. All of our local papers as well as the NZ Herald carried front page stories and pictures of President-elect Obama. As soon as the race was called Kiwi friends started to call and congratulate us. Here's another article in the NZ Herald:

Paul Holmes: Lincoln's legacy continues - 09 Nov 2008 - NZ Herald: International and World News

Crazily, we also just voted in our first NZ election. Yesterday NZ elected a new prime minister, Mr. John Key of the National Party. We just became eligible to vote on our one year anniversary in NZ at the end of October. We have been following election campaigns in two countries.

Our family toast at dinner on Wednesday, 5 November (NZ time), after watching Barack Obama's speech

- Here's to hope, change, and peace...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Day Two - Snorkeling with Manta Rays


On Day 2 we all had a first-in-a-lifetime experience - swimming with manta rays! It was absolutely amazing and overwhelming. They were huge with a wingspan of two meters. They looked almost prehistoric, but also graceful. They seemed to fly by us in the water with wings flapping in slow motion.

The mantas and coral reefs reawakened my awe of the natural world. Underwater, the creations and creatures are more fantastical and vibrant than my wildest imaginings. Unfortunately we didn't have an underwater camera and I am stuck sharing my limited verbal descriptions, instead. I had been disappointed with the reefs we visited on the Blue Lagoon Cruise, but the reef off Koromakawa was truly the best snorkeling I have ever experienced. We were just inside the Great Astrolabe Reef.

I saw a reef shark glide by and tried to follow it from above as it wound silently along the reef until it turned and disappeared into the deep blue depths beyond the reef. Glide, however, is not the correct word to describe its movement. The shark is powerful and purposeful, dark and streamlined. I want to say sinister because of its dark profile and scary movie personality. I wasn't scared though. I was captivated and awed.

The boys did great. Colin stayed in the water until his little body couldn't stop shaking with cold and his lips were blue. Liam followed everywhere. I had explained to them that reefs and coral are fragile, that we could watch and observe but that we couldn't touch. I also threw in that coral cuts are VERY painful and heal slowly. I told them the story of being dragged over the reef crest in rough conditions doing research years ago. I had hung onto a brain coral (Diploria sp.) waiting for the tidal surge to ease to escape without scraping across the fire coral (Millepora sp.). I had cuts from armpits to hands, which scabbed like a delicate, intricate tattoo. With my warnings in mind, the boys carefully paddled the reef without mishap.

We floated above witnessing the magical coral garden. We observed that the fish only venture a short distance from the safe hideout in the reef. The reef is a city with many small neighborhoods and most creatures stay in their own neighborhoods, like people.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Koromakawa - Should we share this paradise?


Doug and I have debated whether to share our find, or keep the Koromakawa Resort as our own secret paradise. Koromakawa was absolutely the perfect vacation spot. As soon as we arrived, I was scheming to extend our vacation. Before I could organize and prolong our stay, the newlyweds that stayed at the resort prior to our arrival booked a return for the day of our departure. We decided it was bad karma to try to compete against newlyweds who traveled 30 hours from Sweden to Fiji. In the end, we also decided Karin and Spence are the most gracious hosts and deserve all the praise and support we can offer.

If you're looking for bright lights, shopping, or a nightlife beyond stargazing, Koromakawa is not the spot for you. If you are looking for warm smiles, horseshoes on the beach, naps swaying in hammocks between palms, sandcastles and peace, Koromakawa is heaven on earth. Not only is the stay luxurious, it is also eco-friendly with wind and solar generated power. However, unless Spence gives you a tour of his system, you would never guess that you are living completely off the power grid.

We stepped off the plane in Kadavu, as Spence, our host, and Johnny grabbed our bags off the tarmac, and we walked out of the airport across the road, waded into the water and onto Spence's boat. As Johnny sped out of the bay towards Ono, Spence reached into his cooler and brought out a fresh fruit platter and cold drinks. Yum!

The boat ride to Ono was about an hour and a half. We didn't see any other boats, but caught glimpses of villages nestled in the dense tropical greenery along the coast. Our first glimpse of Koromakawa was just a thatched roof peeking through the trees, just feet from the waters edge. Karin and the entire resort crew were on the beach singing a welcome song for our arrival. The Fijians' singing and dancing were highlights of our stay.

The boys waded to shore, said their hellos and took a few quick sips from their coconuts then immediately started their first sandcastle, only stopping for an occasional swim until I made them rinse off for dinner.

Right before dinner, we joined Karin and Spence and their Fijian staff for a kava welcoming ceremony with more singing and dancing and then a delicious dinner of fish that we chose from the fisherman on the beach that afternoon. Kava tastes to me like muddy, earthy tea. We were warned that it was a strong, maybe bitter taste, but I actually liked it and Colin seemed to develop a taste for it! Right after drinking a bowl, my tongue tingled like when the dentist numbs your mouth and then the novocaine starts to wear off. We were taught the custom is to clap once, raise our bowl and say "bula" to the group before drinking, drain our bowl, and then clap three more times. The bowl is then refilled and passed to the next person. We laughed and clapped along with the Fijian's songs. Kava is a mild narcotic and Karin predicted we would all sleep well, which we did.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fiji!

Winter in Queenstown was long, much longer than a Denver winter, or at least it felt longer. The days were actually warmer than in the Rockies, with less days at freezing temperatures. People in Queenstown like to gloat that you can ski in the morning and golf in the afternoon. In fact, there were even days that it was warm enough to go horseback riding. Our house, however, was cold, not quite freezing but it felt like it. It is reminiscent of a barn with whitewashed mud brick walls, big wooden beams, a peaked roof and wind whistling through cracks and crevices. The breeze inside the house on windy nights is strong and consistent enough to blow out candles on the kitchen table.

Kiwis keep their homes, restaurants and shops much colder than Americans. So we tried to go local and bundle against the frost. In our house, we have underfloor heating in most rooms with an additional wood burner in the kitchen and fireplace in the family room. Doug's office, however, is far from the fire and doesn't have the underfloor heating. By June Doug could see his breath most mornings as he logged onto his computer. We went out to purchase a heater for his office. Doug was explaining to the salesperson that he had an office that was about 14 degrees in the morning (which would be about 57 degrees Fahrenheit). The saleswoman replied, "Oh, that's not too cold. You really don't need a heater." Doug and I burst out laughing. We were trying to purchase a heater and the saleswoman was trying to talk us out of it. She was making us feel like wimps and lost the sale. We walked out of the store and we went next door where we bought an electric heater.

Once we received the first electric bill, we decided to turn off the underfloor heating. Doug was shocked at the cost and I felt guilty about the power usage. Liam and Colin seemed unaffected by the temperature. I started a layering campaign and bought a wardrobe of silk and polypro long undies. Doug and I wore knit hats round the clock. I've come to the conclusion hats really do keep you warm! We decided to use this winter to study the heating and insulation shortcomings of our new home. We are currently in a winterizing the house campaign adding insulation, weather stripping, stuffing gaps and retrofitting doors and windows.

To adjust to the conditions, we also reorganized our house. I moved my office up to the toasty loft, next to the wood stove pipe. We used the loft as our hang out spot. If we had guests over, we circled the kitchen chairs around the wood stove in the evenings. It felt very pioneer chic. Doug gained lots of chopping experience and the boys hauled wood every day after school. First one up in the morning lit the wood stove.

When we arrived a year ago the whole town seemed giddy with their enthusiasm for spring, more enthusiastic than I remembered spring fever in Colorado. It reminded me of the ecstatic spring thaws in Maine, where it really freezes solid. Maine is colder than Queenstown, but Queenstown suffers dramatically from the lack of sun. The days are short. The sun was barely peaking over the mountains on the far side of the lake at 10 am. The town is in the shadow of the mountains except for midday. The playground in the primary school gets barely a couple hours of direct sun a day in the winter. Our house had direct sunlight from mid morning to mid afternoon. My new friend in Bob's Cove, the next bay over from our house, was explaining to me that each fall her husband gets depressed with the coming of winter because they almost completely lose the sun for the entire winter. Last fall I thought she was exaggerating. Now I get it. Luckily we were up on the sunny ski fields much of the winter.

When spring break arrived and Doug looked just about to start up work again, I suggested to Doug that a break to the warmth, ocean and water was just what we all needed. Amazingly Doug agreed. He even admitted for the first time winter was a little too long for him too! At the last minute we booked fights to Fiji, which is just three hours from NZ.

We barely had time to plan a trip and knew nothing about Fiji. Usually I like to plan (or not plan) my own adventures but this time we contacted Destination World listed in Conde Nast as Fiji/South Pacific specialists. I told them our dates and that we wanted quiet sandy beaches and snorkeling. We really didn't care about anything else. They planned a fabulous itinerary for us.

Because we took so many pictures on our ten day vacation, I have grouped them to limit the number of photos in each slideshow. This first slideshow includes pictures from our first night in Nadi and then a three night cruise with Blue Lagoon Cruises through the Yasawa Islands.

We had to spend our first night in Nadi because flights from NZ arrive too late to catch the cruise on the same day. Nadi is not somewhere I would choose for a vacation. We stayed at First Landing, which was quiet. They even put us in a villa with a private pool. Dinner at First Landing was served at tables on the beach and the boys started building sand castles in the dark waiting for their food.

While both Doug and I have always lifted our noses at the idea of a cruise, we actually really enjoyed this one. We spent the days swimming and playing on incredible beaches and the group was small, especially since the boat was only half full. The crew was great, especially with Colin and Liam, the only two kids on board. The cruise director said they had about 15 kids the week before our trip and another group of children the week following our trip but that our week was a quiet one except for my two boys. The cruise usually has more children during the Australian and New Zealand school holidays and is quieter at other times. We were the only Americans on the cruise. We cruised with Australians, French, Swiss, Brits, Canadians, Kiwis and Fijians. Our last night was the international competition. We were unsure whether we should compete with the Kiwis or as Americans. In the end we competed as Americans and sang "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." Doug introduced us explaining that October in the US is the season of presidential elections and, more importantly but much less entertaining, the Baseball World Series. We didn't bring down the house, but luckily we let Colin and Liam carry the show and we had the "cute" kid factor to get us through the performance. The Fijians put the rest of the nationalities to shame with their dances and songs under the stars on the beach. One Indo-Fijian woman performed a beautiful solo song and dance to end the evening.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Our One Year Anniversary



Today is the one year anniversary of our arrival in New Zealand. The task of describing all my thoughts after a year in our new home is too daunting to tackle in one blog entry.

Some quick thoughts we've shared at the dinner table the last few days:

1. All four of us have worked hard in different ways to root ourselves into our new community and to make new connections.
Doug - playing and coaching sports and his local investment group that he meets with monthly.
Carolyn - volunteering at school with sausage sizzles, Shelterbox, skiing, Tournament of the Minds and in the boys' classrooms, also with the NZ United World College Trust based in Queenstown.
Liam - sports, school extracurricular activities like Chess, Tournament of the Minds and the Family Arts and Variety Show.
Colin - school, Chess and joining the Queenstown Alpine Ski Team.

Being in school five days a week and in sports lots of afternoon, the boys are our cultural consultants/ambassadors. Liam helps with vocabulary and grammar. Learned is spelled learnt. Hair along your forehead is a fringe, not bangs. Colin is our pronunciation guru, especially with Maori words. In fact, he has discerned two acceptable pronunciations of Maori: Mar-ree or Mao-di. He was once again instructing Liam and me on the way home from school on Friday.

2. Sometimes this move feels like a reality show idea or social experiment - a family of four picks up and moves to a location where they don't have a single friend, acquaintance or connection...watch while they try to settle into a their new life.

3. Each of us decided that even if we were able to roll back the clock and decide whether to do this move, knowing what we know now, we would still choose to move to NZ, and particularly Queenstown.

4. Though there are few new lessons/challenges:
Doug - Working from home - setting up a space/time that is quiet and uninterrupted by the rest of the household. Missing the interaction/stimulus of his colleagues.
Carolyn- Having Doug home ALL day ;-) Building a new social network. Discovering that I am no longer a teenager, unafraid to jump on any horse.
Colin - Colin has learnt (several times) that in a less supervised world, kids tend to work things out their own way. For example, if you throw a snowball into a bigger kid's face, he will pound you into the snow with more force than you threw your snow ball. Experiential learning/natural consequences in their most basic form.
Liam-Being a minority/outsider for the first time and feeling different and singled out from the others. Liam has learnt that people from other places sometimes base first impressions on stereotypes. Liam has experienced that Kiwi classmates think Americans eat tomato sauce (ketchup) on everything, talk with squeaky American voices, and all love George Bush.

5. What Colin, Doug, Liam and I miss most are our family and friends.

Colin and Liam also miss the Logan School. Liam says he would never complain about anything at Logan if he was there again. He would keep small challenges in perspective when he compares them with some of the bigger challenges he's experienced in his new school. Both boys know Logan is a remarkable place and draw on their Logan foundation every single day. I too miss Logan - my colleagues and students and the most remarkable learning environment I have ever encountered.

Doug missed work (crazy, huh?). I am not sure how or why in these tumultuous economic times. (He just started back doing what he did in Denver but doing it from here and happy to be involved again).

8. We have been welcomed and included by so many new friends - dinner parties, road trips, ski trips, bonfires on the beach, hikes, walks, movie nights, birthday parties, book clubs, investment clubs, sports teams.

9. Sometimes all the new experiences, connections and friends is a little overwhelming. Even just remembering where and when we've met everyone is a challenge, as everyone is a new acquaintance.

10. All of us have more new projects going than we can manage.
Doug - figuring out NZ/US tax laws, life on a sheep station
Carolyn - horses again, gardening, NZ UWC, school volunteering, raising chickens with boys, composting/worms, helping out on the station (like halter training Alpaca), studying Pilates again
Colin & Liam - Happy Hens business and newsletter, raising a little lamb (which means more afterschool chores)

That is why blogging has fallen off for me. I have had trouble focusing as I have so many new things going that I can't seem to fit it all in day. I have decided that maybe I don't have to do everything all at once and in the first year, which is probably a reasonable idea considering the first year ended yesterday.

11. Despite Doug's raised eyebrows, we've added more than one animal a month:

-already had one dog that immigrated from U.S.
-Santa brought a kitten
-Carolyn got a horse
-Colin and Liam adopted 12 hens and a rooster
-yesterday the farm manager delivered an orphaned lamb born early in the day (more details coming from Liam with pictures). The lamb spent last night in the kitchen in a dog crate with the cat looking in from the top and the dog looking in the side.

12. This year plus period (13 plus months) is the longest stretch of time all of us have been out of the US. (Doug may have been out for this long as a child in Iran but he can't remember. Grams, do you remember?)

13. Until we went to Fiji this month, none of us had been on an airplane since arrival in NZ (11+ months). We've seen a regular stoplights twice, in Christchurch in February and in Auckland (on the way home from Fiji) this month. There has been so much to explore at home and locally that we haven't even felt the urge to leave the Wakatipu Basin.

Tonight we head out to the Queenstown Jazz Festival with new friends, Cath and John, to celebrate John's birthday and our anniversary. Their daughter Hebe is Liam's classmate and friend. Hebe's going to spend the night at our house and help take care of the lamb.

Happy First Anniversary Eleanor and Brett


Several nights ago Doug and I were just drifting off to sleep when Doug quietly mentioned that it was Eleanor and Brett's wedding anniversary. Long time readers may remember our unplanned participation in Eleanor's wedding on the Greek isle of Lindos. Their actual anniversary date was October 12, I believe. Amazing to think that a whole year has whirled passed since their wedding and our travels through Europe.

A year later, snuggling under our down comforter on a chilly, early spring night here in New Zealand, we could clearly conjure up the feeling of that magical, late fall wedding night, where we sat in our courtyard, with its pebble floor still warm from the sun-baked day, overlooking the bay twinkling with sailboat lights, sipping wine and listening to a string of wedding toasts to Eleanor. We also toasted Eleanor and her groom and then we danced to their music that spilled over our villa wall. In fact as we climbed down the stairs to our outside bathroom, we could peek over the wall onto the bar's veranda and see their guests partying away. The music and celebration continued all night as we tried to sleep. We even had the opportunity to meet some of the wedding revelers just before sunrise as we stumbled along the cobbled lanes to the main square to catch our taxi to the airport.

We feel Eleanor and Brett are kindred spirits because we know last October was the beginning of an adventure full of new experiences and challenges for them as it was for our family. We hope that Eleanor and Brett had a year of laughter and wonder. In honor of our unusual connection, we invite Eleanor and Brett to spend their fifth anniversary here in New Zealand. We offer our guest house to our favorite bride and groom. Of course, you're welcome before your fifth too!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

We said good-bye USA one year ago today


This has been the most whirlwind year. It feels both longer and shorter than a regular, 365-day year. An old friend chatting with Doug on the phone last weekend asked if he could roll back the clock to one year ago, would he do it again, would he still quit work and move across the world to New Zealand?

This evening at dinner all four of us pondered this question. We agreed that there are things, especially our family and friends, that we miss. There are also some things each of us would have done differently. However, given the choice, we all agreed we would still choose to move.

In case you're wondering, we're as settled as we're ever going to be and are ready for visitors. Hint, hint... Each season has been amazing. The time to visit just depends on what you want to do and see.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Aros' Visit - Day 5

By Liam



All of us got ready fast that morning because we were not driving to the mountain to go Heli Skiing but the Heli Ski Company was driving us. We all had just finished getting ready when the van pulled up in front of our door.

The whole drive was spent gazing up at the mountains we would be skiing on. We headed out to Glenorky, a town at the end of the lake surrounded by towering mountains. We stopped at the Glenorky airport, a field and a small Ski Dive shack.

Before the helicopter arrived we had a quick safety briefing and put on our little things so if we got in the avalanche we could be found.

Soon the small speck of a helicopter appeared on the horizon getting closer by the second. We split into two groups, the Aro family and the Kirkpatrick family, each with a guide, and decided the Aros would be first to go up the mountain. We all huddled around our group’s backpack as the helicopter roared in. The wind whipped around our faces and into every open space (including your mouth if you opened it).

The operation of boarding the helicopter went fast because all the Aros had to do was get on while the guide loaded the skis.

After dropping off the Aros, the helicopter came back to pick us up and blades whirling, landed right in front of us. We loaded just as fast as the Aros and soon we were off. Mom, the driver and I were in the front with Pop, Colin and the guide in the back.

Getting off was easy. All we had to do was crawl out of the helicopter while the guide got our skis. We all crouched in the snow until the helicopter left. I would like to note the pilot did not stop the blades for take off or landing, we just got in and out with them spinning.

I was expecting deep powder but I did not expect it as deep as it was. It was like 2-3 feet deep. The hardest part was not letting your ski tips get stuck under the powder. If you did (which I did many times) you would flip over in the snow.

The runs where long and we got to do four of them, which I thought was pretty cool. The first run seemed to take the longest because I was still getting used to it.

As we pulled up at the bottom the helicopter emerged into sight, whirling up clouds of snow. Since it was our second time boarding it was easier than the last. This time, Colin and Pop rode in the front with the driver.

Once again we landed on a ridge, but on a different run as to get fresher snow. At the end of this run we went down a ridge about 15 feet wide. If you were to go off the ridge you would fall off a cliff. Yikes!

The third run got quite icy at the end, which I did not expect at all. On this run we went down as far as we could, to where the grass started.

Going up to do our fourth and last run I realized how hungry I was, though I was able to comfort myself with the fact we would be eating lunch at the end of the run.

On the run I took a pretty bad fall. My ski got caught under the snow and I pulled a summersault. It would have not been so bad but when my ski went under it got caught and the summersault made my ankle go into a painful position.

The lunch was good. We got to have soup, sandwiches, tiny-pies and dessert! Mind you, this is on a mountain in the middle of nowhere.

The Aros did two more runs while we (the Kirkpatricks) went down to the van.

After the Aros had finished their two runs and we were halfway home, Mom told us when we got home we would have to hurry and get ready to go out to dinner. And then to Colin and JP she added no monopoly.

That night I was so tired at dinner I can hardly remember it.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Aro Family’s Visit in Queenstown with us, continued again and again

By Liam

Day 4



The next day Colin and JP woke up early, as always but this time before long Gracie and I joined them.

Colin was obnoxiously eager to get on with the day because we had waited for JP’s visit to do his special birthday activity. We were going jetboating and Colin knew it, which explained why he was excited.

After a quick breakfast we started of to Glenorky, where the jetboat was to depart from.

We lucked out and were able to get one whole jetboat to ourselves, though we had to wait while a Japanese tour-group left!

Before I knew what was happening we had boarded the jetboat and were slowly chugging out into the lake. After some crazy spins our jetboat diver turned around and sped off towards the Dart River.

We zoomed up narrow passages, around tight corners and under low-hanging trees, all the while the driver talking about the jetboat that had run aground the other day or something in the same idea.

The drive was a scenic three hours (which I knew) and when the driver stopped and said we could go no further I said “It can’t have been one and a half hours already!” His reply was “it has”. Colin, Gracie, JP and I all let out disappointed moans. Nooooooooooooo!

On the drive back we stopped for a quick walk up the river. Going up the river we saw a couple trout, and big one’s too!

As we spun around a large bend after boarding the jetboat again and I realized we were back on the lake with the dock getting closer by the second. As we approached the driver pulled a last couple spins and then pulled up at the dock.

We said, "Thank You" to the driver and then made our way through the tiny town to our car. We had decided to eat dinner at “The Cow” in Queenstown, which meant a 40-minute drive.

All of us ordered pizza and soon we where all falling off to sleep at the table in the restaurant. As soon as we got home we went to bed all with one thought on our mind, the next day we were going Heli Skiing!!!

A Kiwi Father’s Day


Did you know that it is father’s day here in N.Z.?
Well it is, so I am writing this Blog for Pop.

I learnt this vital information just yesterday.

Right now He is up on the Ski field, taking Colin to Q.A.S.T. I don’t think he knows it is his special day so I want him too.

I just wanted to let him know how much I love him and that I think of him when he is not with me.

So anyway, Happy Father’s Day Pop!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Aros Visit continued again

by Liam

Day 3

I woke up that morning in a silent house, but just to make sure I no one was awake I crept into the playroom and sure enough Colin and JP were half way through a monopoly game, which meant they had been up a while. Colin has amazing luck in Monopoly and had to play easy on JP in their game because he was winning by so much.

They were so into their game they did not hear me so I said “Good Morning.” Both of them jumped up and ran off to Gracie’s quarters screeching, “Now we can wake her up!” Poor Gracie!

A couple of seconds later a happy JP And Colin marched out of Gracie’s room, followed by a tired looking Gracie. I could tell I had a crazy week ahead of me, a really crazy week.

Suddenly the loud thump of someone coming down the stairs disturbed my thoughts. The person coming down the stairs turned out to be Mom coming to wake us up.

“Coronet Peak today,” She reminded us. Coronet Peak is the main ski mountain for Queenstown and it is the one that Q.A.S.T. operates on. It was Monday so we were missing school but then again, school skiing is on Monday so all I missed was a 2-hour ski lesson and Colin missed a day with Q.A.S.T. which he gets millions of so it wasn’t that bad.

I was amazed at how long it took to get ready for the day and in the car. One thing was for sure; it was faster than the previous day.

The drive to Coronet was much faster than going to Treble Cone. In less than and hour Mom, Gracie and I were (the rest of the crowd was at home and Mom had to help with the school skiing which meant getting up early) on the mountain, skis on.

Gracie and I followed Mom and her little group of school skiing kids around a while before going off on own. It was fun getting to show someone around instead of getting shown around by my friends. Coronet Peak is a small mountain and it is safe to ski there without an adult.

Before long the other car reached the mountain and we got a ring on the walky-talky.

Since the Aros (minus Gracie plus Colin) had not skied yet we started with a warm-up run.

On the chair I asked Colin what he did with JP. As I was guessing his replied was “Monopoly.”

Straight afterwards we took a run down Back-Bowls; the hardest run on the mountain that is not that hard. Coronet is easy compared to the ski fields in Colorado.

Mom and Wendy left early while the boys, plus Gracie sped around catching a last couple runs. Before long we too decided to leave.

That night 0% of the kids wanted to go to bed but when we finally did, we fell asleep in seconds.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Aros Visit continued

by Liam

Day 2



The creaking of my door awakened me that morning. It was Mom, waking me up. I asked her what time it was. Her reply was 5:30 AM! Then I remembered that we were going to Treble Cone (a ski mountain in Wanaka). The drive was about two hours and we had to be there at nine so that was why we were up so early.

We all were rushing around like madmen that morning, trying to be ready in time, which we did, but just barely. I went in the boys’ car with Ed, Pop, Colin, JP and myself. In the girls’ car there was Mom, Wendy and Gracie.

To get to Treble Cone we had to go on extremely curvy roads (most roads in N.Z. are curvy) so by the end of the drive both Gracie and I where rather green.

Colin’s Q.A.S.T. group had only 2 people that day including Colin and we are good friends with Colin’s instructor, Natalie, so JP, Gracie and I got to take free lessons with her for the day.

We did a couple of warm-up runs before inspection time. Inspection is where you get to go over the course slowly, to see hard turns, icy bits, fast corners, etc.

After inspection we got one more run in. We pretended we were going through the gates, red gate, blue gate, red gate, blue gate, red gate, blue gate.

Going up the chair I realized it was finally time to race! We would get two goes, and the time from both goes would be added together to make our final time. I would guess there were about 40 racers, 5 in each category.

As we pulled up to the racecourse a voice yelled “Colin Kirkpatrick you are next up. Colin?”

Soon Colin was swishing down the course, going between the gates, tucking when he could.

JP’s turn was not long after Colin’s. I thought my turn would be close to his but it wasn’t. After waiting a couple of years it was my turn.

Standing in the starting gate is a tense thing. I learnt in all the many races that it is important to go fast when going through the gate. On this certain course I leant that you shouldn’t go to fast out of the gate because I slid off the course and had to lose a lot of speed to get back on. There was a really fast turn in the course so I could gain a lot of speed back on it. The end of the course was flat and straight so it was necessary and possible to tuck on it.

I finished my first run with 39 seconds. By the time I reached the bottom of the course, Colin, JP and I where all starving but we still had to wait for Gracie to do her run. After a decade or what seemed like one, Gracie reached the bottom. Between Gracie and I there must have been 11 racers.

Before you could say “abracadabra,” all four of us where sitting at a table with energy bars in our mouths. We each managed to have a cup of water and an energy bar before we had to go to the racecourse for our second run.

I forgot to say, from the beginning of the race onwards we all had our jackets off to go faster when racing and the jerseys were too tight over our jackets so we were cold.

Within a couple of minutes I was in the starting gate again. This time I knew about the hard first turn so I was able to go faster on that and I knew that the course would be icier. Also I was able to get into a better tuck at the end. With all the things that were easier I was able to cut I second off my score and complete the course in 38 seconds!

Our results for the race where all not that good, Colin did the best of us for his age group.

The drive home and dinner that night was fairly uneventful except for the fact we went out to dinner.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Aro Family’s Visit In Queenstown With Us

by Liam

Day 1

My eyes cracked open to see sunlight streaming in from my window. I have to go to school today I thought, my mind only half awake. Then suddenly I remembered, it was Saturday and the Aro Family was arriving in Queenstown to spend a week with us.

The Aro family was on our list of our close friends in the states. We became friends when Colin met JP, the youngest Aro, in their first year of preschool. Then Ed, JP’s dad started a soccer team with Pop (my Dad). We all went to the same school, The Logan School, and my last year there I was in the same class as JP. Also Mom taught Gracie at Logan one year.

The morning passed slowly, partly because I could not wait to see JP and partly because Colin was at Q.A.S.T. (Queenstown Alpine Ski Team). I spent the day helping Mom get ready for their arrival and playing in our basement.

Finally the time came for us to leave. Yippy! The fifteen-minute drive into Queenstown seemed to take fifteen hours. When we pulled up at the school, our meeting place, Mom announced that we were 3 minutes late, pretty good for us.

We knew their car had a ski-rack on top, so with a quick glance around we could tell they weren’t there. Seconds later I spotted a car with ski-racks driving toward the school. Yesss, I thought, it’s them! But then the most disappointing thing happened; the car drove past the school. As it drove past us, I looked in and I could tell, for sure, that it was not them.

After waiting what seemed like a decade, a car with ski-racks pulled up. Wendy, JP’s and Gracie’s Mom, waved at me from the front seat of the car. At last they were here!

As soon as the car pulled to a stop JP jumped out, and ran over to me, all happy and excited. After JP and I said hi, JP’s first question was, “Where’s Colin?” I told him Colin was skiing and pointed out the mountain he was on.

The first thing we did was walk up to Café 111 and ordered lunch. 111 here is the equivalent to 911 in the U.S. Since they had all day breakfast almost every one had a second breakfast.

After a brief lunch we went to rent skis for the Aro family. That went fast too and before I knew it we were driving home.

When we arrived home we took all of JP’s and Gracie’s stuff downstairs. Gracie would sleep in my room, Colin and JP would share Colin’s room and I would take Mom’s meditation room. Soon Colin got home and joined us downstairs.

Dinnertime came before long and soon all eight of us were huddled around the dinner table eating soup.

It was sad when dinner ended and we had to go to bed. We tried to get in another 15 minutes playing but all efforts failed. As I lay in my bed drifting of to sleep, I could hear JP and Colin saying last good nights to each other and I could hear the cat, Ollie, enjoying the mess in the playroom. He can be so loud, but I was so tired I fell asleep anyway.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What I'm up to

By
Liam

I am home sick today like I for the last 3 days. I have a very high fever so I have been hanging low. Finally now I am on the mend and am getting better

Not much is going on here right now for me. It is the second week in school since the holidays over which I did Q.A.S.T. (Queenstown alpine ski team).

I loved it but still I was really tired by the end of each day so I did not do the Q.A.S.T. program for the rest of the year. My teacher, Michey Greg was awesome (but a little crazy). Basically every jump we saw we went over. I caught good air multiple times.

Also recently I have been making boats out of cardboard and coated them with saran wrap to make them water proof. My first boat was made around last December. Since then I have made four or five models, each one different than the last. My first couple capsized and sank so I had to fish them out, but my last few have floated. My last one was the only one to come out of the water unharmed. As a safety precaution I always attach a string to the boat so they can’t float away or if they sink the string could also be used to get them out.

This is a slide show of the launching of my most recent boat.




The chicken business is doing well. We are getting 2~4 eggs a day now. I can’t wait until summer when we will get the amazing 5~6 eggs a day. Some days we let them out for a run around. I wondered what they did until today as Mom and I where leaving the chicken coop after letting them out to have a little run, we spotted them in a group sitting in the dirt. A few members of the party where digging. Mom and I think they where having a dirt bath which it say they do in one of our chicken care booklets.

I can’t wait to visit the states because I miss every one so much. It is hard living without family and close friends although I am making friends here.

I am getting used to life here in N.Z. The long and tiring bus ride to and from school is finally become part of my agenda. Also I am getting used to taking care of the chickens and helping Mom feed the ever-hungry horses.

Right now for sports I am doing indoor soccer and skiing. Even though I am not doing Q.A.S.T. I am sure I will get lots of skiing in with school skiing. For school skiing we take 6 Mondays in this term and spend them skiing at one of the two mountains in the aria. Also for skiing I will get to ski a lot with Colin doing Q.A.S.T. because we will go up the mountain a lot.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Ski time in Queenstown

Colin and Liam did the Introductory Programme of the Queenstown Alpine Ski Team (QAST) over the Term 2 break. Break was a full on ski adventure as the they skied twelve of the sixteen vacation days. Liam's coach was Mitchey Greg. Mitchey is a long time member of QAST and a member of the Freestyle National Team. Liam says "Mitchey likes to jump and go fast!" Liam also says she's an Olympic hopeful and the 18th best skicross female in the world. Colin's coach was Antoine Galland, a ski racer from France. Antoine and Colin seemed a perfect fit. I could always find Colin's group on the mountain because Colin has perfected a loud chirping sound that carries across the snow field. Antoine seemed unfazed by the shrill sound. Colin came home each night describing his ski day with a heavy french accent. Colin started in Anne-Flore Aufrere's group and then moved up to Antoine's group. Before he left Anne-Flore's group, he made sure they too could do the lizardy-cricket chirp. There were two loud groups chirping away at Coronet all break.

The last day of the Introductory Programme was the Coronet Interfield Race for junior skiers (ages 5-13 years) in the southern districts. Both Colin and Liam raced. It was an icy, steep course from my perspective. One mom crashed on the course coming down to the base between the races and was taken down the mountain on a stretcher. My heart went out to her. It could have easily been me!

Liam did a spectacular wipe out losing a ski on his first run. He was proud that he raced right to his edge and didn't hold back. When he reached the bottom, we went into the Heidi's Hut for a protein bar and hot chocolate. I looked across the table at Liam once he removed his goggles and helmet and he was a pale shade of greenish-grey. He was not looking good. He whispered, "I'm feeling sick, like I could throw up." We rushed out of the hut and onto the snow just in time. After loosing his hot chocolate and bar, Liam decided to call it a day and we headed down the mountain.

Colin had two great runs down the course. He placed sixth out of 22 boys in his age group. Two teammates and three boys from Cardrona skied the course faster. There are some fast seven and eight-year-olds in New Zealand!

Luckily, Doug videotaped the races, so I could see Colin's runs and Liam's wipe out. Now I am sharing them with you:



Colin has joined the full season QAST Junior Programme and for the next six weeks will ski Saturday, Sunday and Monday with the team. Then he will continue skiing with them every weekend until October.

Liam decided that QAST was too much of a time commitment for him. He's going to do the School Ski Programme the next six Mondays and ski with his friends on the weekends or pursue other activities.

I will be a parent volunteer with the School Ski Programme. All students (Years 4-6) head up the hill to the ski field for Monday skiing for the next six weeks. The students will be split in groups by ability and will take a lessons and have some free ski time with their parent volunteer. I am hoping I can keep up with my group on tomorrow!

This week in New Zealand

There have been a couple of news reports that have amused us this week.

First, there was a story about the nine-year-girl named "Talula Does The Hula from Hawaii, " who was placed under court guardianship so her name could be changed. Some other names of New Zealand children mentioned in the article included Number 16 Bus Shelter, Violence and twins named Benson and Hedges. Interestingly, Liam even has a classmate named Tinkerbell.

The second story was about a $5,000 reward being offered by the Auckland University Students' Association to any Auckland University student who makes a successful arrest of Condoleezza Rice during her visit to New Zealand this weekend. The New Zealand Herald reported that the students' association said the arrest would be for Rice's role in "overseeing the illegal invasion and continued occupation" of Iraq under the Geneva Conventions Act and Crimes of Torture Act. While the reward has been withdrawn, the students' association says it still supports a citizen's arrest.

p.s. I am sorry if Liam's radio broadcast starts whenever you log onto our blog. It doesn't play on my computer but seems to launch for everyone else. If you have any ideas on how to disable the autoplay, please let me know. I am clueless. I am a dangerous user in that I have successfully placed the audio file on the blog by copying instructions from a website but I have no idea how to adjust the settings...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Giraffes can't dance

Liam and a group of students from Queenstown Primary School performed a skit at the Family Arts and Variety Show during Winter Festival in Queenstown. They created a skit called "Giraffes Can't Dance," based on the children's book by the same name written by Giles Andreae. It was one of my favorite books to read to Colin and Liam when they were young.

Liam was one of the giraffes and did the final voice over in the skit. At the beginning of the skit, there were some technical difficulties with the soundtrack, but the kids remained composed and calm. It was a big night because the show was in the Memorial Hall with a full house.

Bedouin Colin


Recently Colin has taken to wearing he pajama bottoms on his head. We now call him Bedouin Colin.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Big Snow - First Day of Winter Break


We had our first big dump on 5 July. I went out for a drive to take some photos. The return drive was a bit of a slip and slide experience so I left the car and hiked home for the chains, which I should have had in the first place. Doug hiked back to the car with me. Along the way, we passed Ben, who was bringing his sons to our house to play in the snow with Colin and Liam. Ben's car was perpendicular to the road in a ditch. We practiced with the chains by helping Ben puts chains on his car then he drove us up the hill to our car.

In the evening, I had to take Liam and Colin to a ski camp meeting which meant riding down to the main road with chains, taking the chains off, driving to town and back and then putting the chains on again in the dark to get from the main road back up to our house. I was missing the city life of Denver as I lay on the frozen muddy ground feeling the ice melting into my pants as I tried to clasp the chains behind the tire. The next day was the same procedure to go skiing: chains off at main road, chains on to get from main road to ski field, chains off on the way home to drive through town and then chains on to get up to house. We are getting speedy with chains but are considering snow tires like we had in Colorado. I think, because big snows are infrequent and the snow season is shorter, few people have snow tires here. We will give the chains a try, but I am checking out the snow tire options!

Even with all the chain drama, I was thrilled. The vegetation seemed completely at odds with the winter wonderland. Big palmed, tropical-looking plants blanketed in snow. Little green birds (finches?) flitting from one icicled stalk to another.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

In the Middle of the Flock

The Kiwis are flying in the middle of the Peck em Owls Fantasy Baseball League flock going into the All-Star Break. We're #6 in the field of 10 teams, with 53 points.

I'm definitely not happy with the 1st half performance of my team but I'm cautiously optimistic going into the 2nd half. The main source of disappointment to date has been injury, particularly among my top draft picks. Six of my first eight draft picks have spent time on the DL (injury list) this season. All of the my top three picks, Jimmy Rollins, Alfonso Soriano & Carlos Pena have spent substantial time on the DL and they've all put up weak numbers when they have been playing. I've had to be pretty scrappy with my lineup which resulted in a league-leading 56 player changes (mainly picking up players from the free agency list), well above the 2nd most active team which had 19 player changes.

Right now I'm shooting for a 3rd place finish which I figure will require me to pick up 15-20 points. If my top three draft picks can stay healthy (Soriano is still on the DL but should be back in the lineup in a week; Rollins & Pena both currently healthy and were playing well going into the break) and can just get their production back up to their historical averages, then I think I can close much of the gap with the head of the flock. My pitching numbers will also have to improve a lot but right now I have quite a bit more remaining starts from my starters than all of the competitors above me, allowing me to close the gap in strikeouts & wins and improve my ERA & WHIP.

Go Kiwis!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Taking Orders for Happy Hens

Below is a scanned copy of the first Happy Hens Newsletter since the recent change in ownership:







Liam and Doug did a cost analysis last night and determined that the chicken feed cost per dozen eggs is NZ$8.64. Ouch. Given these costs and the current average egg production of two eggs per day, Liam and Colin can expect to make NZ$0.23 per day if they sell each dozen for NZ$10.00. As Liam noted, "That's 11.5 cents for each of them a day and less than a dollar profit a week." Liam was stunned by the numbers. While Liam is a bit nervous that customers will balk at this high price for eggs, he remains optimistic that egg production will increase in the warmer weather. He spent the evening on the phone with the our neighbor, who is also a poultry farmer, seeking advice on cheaper sources of chicken feed than the local pet store. This afternoon Colin and Liam investigated egg prices at the grocery store. Prices ranged from NZ$5-11, depending on the size and farming methods (free-range, organic, conventional). Happy Hen's has a threefold strategy at the moment: to hope for an increase in egg production as the days lengthen, to try to reduce feed costs, and to market their superior product and service using their newsletter.

Friday, July 4, 2008

First day of skiing at Coronet Peak

Thursday night we were all sad and just wanted to be together, so we declared Friday a "Family Day." When we are looking for a some relaxing time, full of laughs, we ski together. We wanted our day to be about celebrating our family, in honor of Quent.

We did laugh and celebrate. Doug told many stories about his cousin Quent. Many were classics that the boys and I already knew by heart, but still love to hear over and over. Quent once lit his parent's room on fire, then carefully shut the door and went to sit quietly next to his mom. Aunt Cheryl immediately knew something was suspicious even before she smelled smoke, because Quent never sat quietly beside her. Another time, Quent, who at the time couldn't see over the dashboard, drove the car out onto the frozen lake behind the house. Aunt Cheryl had just dashed in the house to grab something. She returned outside and the car and Quent were gone. Then she was chasing Quent and the car across the lake, praying the lake was frozen solid. My favorite story is about a young Quentin racing towards Grandma Brown with two identical ice cream cones, one in each fist. Just as he reaches Grandma one ice cream topples out of the cone and onto the ground. Quent looks at his Grandma with pity and says, "Oh no Grandma, I dropped your ice cream!" Quent was a legend in his own time in the Brown and Johnson families.

We continued to laugh when Colin fell off the ski lift. I was trying to lift him onto a particularly high chair and he are slipped from my mittened grasp and landed face down as the chair mowed over him. Luckily he was flat on the ground and not hurt. The liftee plopped Colin back up on the chair and reattached his skis while we all sat in humiliation. I wanted to shout, "We are not complete amateurs. Colin's been skiing since he was two and I've never dropped him off the chair." But, I knew the lift line had already formed their opinion and my American accent would just confirm we were tourists.

Our third run of the day, we were so excited to be on the snow, we had the exceptionally stupid idea to have a family race to the base of the lift on a mountain we barely knew. Doug and Colin were out of sight before I finished my first turn. Liam, ever the gentleman, waited for me. We didn't even know which run Colin and Doug took. And, there was no sign of either Colin or Doug once we reached the lift at the bottom. We decided they were either trying to make another run before I reached the lift or they had ended up at a different lift. We waited and waited. Finally, after our toes were frozen, we saw two dazed Kirkpatricks both holding their right shoulders slowly skiing down the hill towards us. We couldn't even gloat and rub in our victory. Colin says he caught air twice, but the second time he just flew threw the air with his arms out front until one caught the snow. He lost his skis and his goggles were around his neck by the time he came to a stop. Doug too tried to fly like Superman but with the same success as Colin. We made a group decision to take the rest of the day a wee bit slower as none of us have actually skied in 13 months. We agreed maybe a few more exploratory, warm-up style runs would help us get our ski legs back.

When we got home, showered and warmed, Doug was checking out the Coronet website and the "Shot of the Day" included Doug, Liam and Colin. The caption was "Little ski bunnies enjoying another fine day up at Coronet Peak." The photographer was trying to capture three adorable little girls dressed in matching pink snow suits making perfect turns behind their mother. The Kirkpatrick boys just got caught up in the scene and it's fun to have a record of our first day on the mountain.

Quentin was in our hearts and thoughts all day.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Colin's been busy too!

Check out his Room 23 Blog to see what he's been up to at school the last few weeks. Colin talks about the invention he researched in the Friday, 6 June entry. The following Friday, 20 June, Colin and a group of his classmates did an entry on the ShelterBox Fundraiser. Room 23 wants to be the classroom that raises the most money!

Oh, Doug is mentioned in the 2 July entry. During Book Week, Doug read the first chapter of "The Day My Bum Went Psycho" to Colin's class. As the name might suggest, it is a book on a subject that seems to particularly amuse and interest young boys. It's full of bum humor! Colin has also read the second book of the Bum trilogy, "Zombie Bums from Uranus." The names and topic seem awful to me, but Colin laughed out loud through both books.

The big event in the Middle School was the Middle School Performance. Colin's class performed their version of STOMP.

Colin is one of the myriad of lights in the dark for the opening performed by the entire Middle School:




Watch the drummers to find Colin in STOMP. Also, Colin is the little body that races across the back of the stage at the end of the performance:




Okay, at the production I did find Colin, but I can't find him in this clip of the closing performance. Let me know if you find him. It's like looking for Waldo, except Colin's wearing a nondescript, all black outfit. I think he's somewhere in the middle of the crowd:

Sunday, June 29, 2008

ShelterBox Fundraiser at Queenstown Primary

Liam and I (Carolyn) have been busy the last couple of weeks. We are working on a fundraiser at his school, Queenstown Primary.

Over several weeks of soccer games, an idea developed as I chatted with another soccer mom, Rosie Thompson. Rosie was definitely the instigator, and the creative force. We were talking about the devastating disasters that have recently occurred in China and Myanmar. She said that she wished that she could help, but with young children jumping a plane for a far away land was not a possibility right now. I agreed. Then Rosie told me about a charity that provides emergency aid called ShelterBox.

ShelterBox assembles large plastic boxes that hold a 10-person tent, sleeping bags, a stove which runs on anything combustible, cooking equipment, water containers and tools. Each box is designed to provide basic shelter and supplies for a family of up to ten people for at least six months. The boxes are shipped anywhere, anytime as needed.

As we talked, I started to think about successful fundraisers at our previous school in Denver. I had a feeling that this ShelterBox program would capture the imagination of our Queenstown students. Rosie and I presented the fundraiser idea to the principal. He chatted with the faculty to ensure their support. Then, Rosie and I met with the senior students to share what we had learned about ShelterBox and to see if the senior students would be interested in organizing a fundraiser to raise money for a box. The students also expressed their worry for people struggling in the aftermath of recent disasters. Immediately and enthusiastically, they wanted to help. Two volunteers from each classroom were selected to assemble the organizational team.

From that moment, the students took over the project. First they named themselves The ShelterBox Kids. They worked most lunch times for several weeks. They made posters and donation boxes for all the classrooms. They broke into two groups. The first group contacted local media, including radio and newspapers, to describe their fundraiser and to ask for coverage of the event. The second group created an informational presentation that they shared with the entire school and many parents at a Friday Assembly. Doug videotaped the presentation. Now all Queenstown Primary students are asking family members, friends and neighbors if they can do a few chores to earn gold (i.e. $! & $2) coins for ShelterBox.



The community support in Queenstown is incredible. Ferg from Classic Hits 90.4 FM had the kids on the radio the morning after they contacted him. The newspapers visited campus several times to meet with the students. Parents continue to offer help. I have realized in a smaller town, the entire community works to support the kids. Everyone seems to be a parent, grandparent, aunt or neighbor of at least one student.

Liam and fellow students, Isabella and Merida, made an early morning visit to the radio station.














Click the triangle to hear the broadcast:

Below is a copy of the article in the Otago Daily Times and a photo of the ShelterBox Kids.














p.s. The blog entry is several weeks overdue because it required technical know-how beyond my capabilities. I have finally figured out how to upload audio and video, even if the presentation is less than elegant!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

In loving memory of Quentin



Quentin, you were one of those rare people who didn't have a mean bone in your whole body.

We love you and miss you.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Carolyn and Doug have new sport for their 40s - The Luge

Photo: Carolyn chasing Doug down the luge in Queenstown. Doug's exhibiting mature behavior appropriate for his age. He nearly ran me off the track and into the grass to pass me on the corner. Doug may be getting older, but he still loves speed!

Doug joins me on the other side of 40 today. Yeah! I think I am more excited than he is to have his company in the 40 and over club!

Luckily the snow arrived yesterday just in time for Doug's 40th. There's not much else I could give Doug for his birthday that he'd enjoy more than his first ski day of the year. Well, at least, nothing I'll mention on this blog...

p.s. I think Doug was happy to be able to walk when he woke today. He's recently joined an indoor soccer league after not playing on a team since college days at Rice. He and the other senior guy on the team both "offered" to play goalie as their lungs started to burn chasing the teenagers up and down the field. The other guy pulled his hamstring which secured the goalie position. Doug stayed on the field and scored a hat trick!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Doug almost gets dipped

Doug and I took some time out the other morning to help with sheep dipping. It was a messy job. Within a few minutes we were covered in organophosphate spray as the sheep leaped or stumbled off the ramp, splashed through the dipping trough and shook themselves dry in the every-ewe-for-herself mayhem. The first sheep sank to the bottom only to surface when the crowd thinned. The top sheep tried to run for safety across the heads of her comrades.

Doug and I alternated between two jobs. The first job was dunking each panicked sheep paddling through the trough. We had to make sure each sheep was completely submerged. No dry heads allowed. The other job was working the gates between the draining pens and then shooing the sheep out to the paddock.

At one point I heard a yelp in the midst of the baaing and turned to catch Doug sprawled over the dipping trough, his feet on the near side and his hands on the far side. He'd slip and almost dipped himself. The rest of the "professional" ranchers seemed to enjoy the spectacle as much as I did.

A little later we had a frantic moment as one ewe thrashed madly trying to unleash herself. Somehow she had gotten the rope on the plug in the bottom of the trough wrapped around her leg. By the time we freed her, she had literally pulled the plug on the dipping trough. All of us stood and watched the valuable chemicals draining away. There in the bottom of the trough was a little pesticide-logged trout. Doug ran and found a bucket in the shearing shed. As we refilled the trough with fresh stream water Doug caught one more trout. We were thrilled. We had wanted trout for our pond.

By lunchtime, Doug and I both remembered some pressing work that we needed to get done at home and said good-bye to the dipping crew. We headed home with our two trout sloshing in a bucket between my legs, thankful to only be occasional, part-time farm hands.

Early Exit

It was looking good for a Rice Owl victory over the LSU Tigers, with a 5-0 lead going into the bottom of 7th. Then LSU chipped away with single runs in the both the 7th and 8th. In the disastrous 9th, LSU put up four runs to secure the victory. There will be lots of inward reflection on this one as several of the LSU runs came on Rice's three committed errors. Also, Rice's esteemed coach, Wayne Graham, appeared to have made a bad decision starting the 9th with Cole St. Clair who had entered the game way back in the 7th, and then compounded it by leaving him in when he got into trouble. Well, there's always next year...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

In a Hole

The Rice Owls baseball team has really dug itself into a deep hole. Yesterday that got their heads handed to them, 17-5, by the Fresno State Bulldogs, my cousins Curt & Quent's alma mater. Now in order to make it into the finals, Rice will have to win its next four games. Tomorrow the Owls start their climb out of the hole by playing Louisiana State University.

Go Owls!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Full Circle

It's been a year since we started this big adventure. Doug & the boys started things off with a road trip to Omaha to see the Rice Owls baseball team play in the College World Series. After an eight hour drive through cornfields, they stopped by the Omaha airport to pick up Doug's father, Don, and then immediately headed to the stadium to catch Rice's win over Louisville. To kill time before Rice's next game two days later, they hit the surprisingly excellent Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and the Strategic Air and Space Command Museum. The next game was against University of North Carolina, and resulted in another Owl victory. With Doug needing to get back to work, they all returned home with the hope of returning the next weekend to see the Owls play in the finals. Unfortunately, North Carolina beat them in the next two games and the repeat trip was never made.

Well, it's College World Series time again and the Owls are back. This is the Owl's third year in a row and it's fifth in seven years to make it to Owlmaha. We won't be making the long road trip this year but we will be following the Owls on Rice Radio.

Go Owls!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Alpine Aqualand

Finally the bell rang for our early, before swim lunch. I was one of the first people out of the cloak bay. I raced down to where the rest of the seniors (5~6 graders) were eating lunch. Everyone was talking about going to the new swimming pool 15 minutes from Queenstown, in Frankton.

By the time lunch was over I was bursting to go. Room 19 (my class) lined up to get on the bus. The drive seemed to take days, but we got there. The first thing we had to do before going in the pool was listen to the lifeguards talk about safety. Boring! Room 19 was the last class to be let in the pool too!

The pool consisted of 2 water slides, 1 fast and 1 slow, a fast flowing lazy river, 2 mounted water guns and in the adult pool a 20-foot, blow up, white sausage thingy-mabob. As there were 125-175 kids there in 7 classes, rooms 10 and 11 went on the slide for 30 minutes then rooms 18 and 19 (my class) went on the slide 30 minutes and, last but not least rooms, 20, 21 and 22 went on the slide for 30 minutes.

While rooms 10-11 went on the slide I raced my friends Sam and Mathew around the lazy river again and again. I found the way to go the fastest was to run with your legs on the bottom and paddle in the water with your arms. It was the most fun lazy river I have ever been on.

Time went so fast I could hardly believe it when the teachers said it was our turn on the slide. When I got to the top of the slide I hopped in the fast line. The line was so long I could not see the slide. Finally it was my turn to go! I held the bar and waited for the Go light to turn green. Suddenly it did! Whoosh, I flung myself into the cool water of the slide and zoomed down it. It was really fun. The beginning was light but it got fairly dark at the end. Before I knew it I was in the splash down pool at the end. I could hear someone screaming like mad behind me so I got of the way quite fast.

It was really hard not to run going up for my second slide. I decided to try the slow one, so I hopped in the slow line. It was slower but 3X as long. I managed to get 3 or 4 slides on each one before our time was up. Each time the slides seemed to get better.

After our turn was up I played with my friends Mitchell, Matthew, Sam and Yasin. We played around the gun. It was great fun diving down to come up and get shot with the icy, cold water of the gun.

I hadn’t tried the sausage thingy so I tried it. You had to get on it, which was hard because tons of people were trying to do it and it would spin. Once I almost made it but I splashed back into the icy water again.

Next thing I knew the teachers where saying “time to get out.” Nooooooooo. I reluctantly walked back to the lockers and changed. Soon we all piled on the bus and sped back to school.

I ran to my classroom, grabbed my bag and sprinted down to the parking lot were Pop was waiting to take me to soccer, but that is not what this story is about.

Typed and written on paper by Liam

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Exploring Wanaka, Tourist-Style


One of the great bonuses of having guests is that we get out and do touristy things. We spent a cool, blue-sky day traveling over the Crown Range and exploring Wanaka with Grams and Grandpop. The grandparents’ visit hit the peak of fall color.

We stopped for some pictures along Lake Hayes, drove over the Crown Range and then had a lunch at the Cheeky Monkey Café in Wanaka. After lunch we parted ways. Doug and Don went to the New Zealand Fighter Pilots Museum. Marcia, Colin, Liam and I headed to Puzzling World. We decided to pit age against youth. Liam and Colin were one team and Marcia and I were the other team. We raced each other through the maze. It took us most of an hour. Youth dominated age. Liam and Colin won by about 5 minutes. Then we explored the crazy exhibits, like the tilted room.

Doug and Don picked us up from Puzzling World and we head out for late afternoon wine tasting at Rippon Vineyards. As the grown-ups sipped wine, Liam and Colin played hide and seek. While we were sitting outside the tasting room, enjoying our wine and gazing over the vineyards in the late afternoon sunshine, a harrier swooped down and got entangled in the netting draped over the vines. Only one young woman was working in the wine tasting room. She and I put on some big leather gloves and she grabbed some clippers. We walked down towards the flaying harrier. Luckily, at the last moment, the harrier shook itself free and flew away. Phew! I had no idea exactly how we were going to free it without getting scratched and clawed. It looked big and fierce.

p.s. If any of our friends in the United States want to enjoy some Rippon Vineyard wines or other Otago wines, our new neighbors own Station Imports, a wine importing company that brings wines from the boutique vineyards of Central Otago into the United States. When Andy and Penny aren’t here in New Zealand, they are in Colorado Springs just down the road from Denver, our old home. Strangely, their daughter is attending Colby College in Maine and majoring in Biology/Environmental Science as I did. We discovered this connection at a Christmas party and even found we had some of the same professors (who were much younger in my day).

Friday, May 30, 2008

Happy Trails



While the Grandparents were visiting, we spent lots of time hanging out with the horses.

Liam and Colin wanted to show off their cowboy skills to their grandparents. Both boys have gained lots of confidence. Now all they want to do is charge around at top speed. Ruby, the Clydesdale cross, is huge, but good-natured. Out on the trails she generally heads where they boys want to go, unless she sees something good to eat. When she reaches down for a bite of grass Colin holds on to the reins, pinwheels forward with his legs pointing straight up in the air. Once Ruby finishes her nibble, she raises her head and Colin rights himself in the saddle. He’s laughing the whole time.

Grandpop (aka Don) was especially taken with the horses. Don didn’t mention to me that he hadn’t actually ever really ridden a horse before until he was in the saddle. (Note to self: Always ask about experience level first.) Don grew up on a farm in the country so I just assumed he was an old pro. Even after all these years, I learning about my father-in-law. He and Ruby headed out on the trail and became fast friends immediately.

Don and I rode out towards Moke Lake and stopped at an old hut. Marcia, Doug, Colin and Liam came out to join us for a mid-afternoon cup of tea. We took the saddles off the horses and turned them out in a small paddock next to the hut. We were lounging in the sun when Doug leaped up and yelled, “Watch out!” A mountain biker had come along the track behind the paddock and startled Ruby. From a standstill, Ruby leaped right out of the paddock almost into Doug’s lap. Almost every outing with the horses seems to reaffirm Doug’s opinion that my equine friends are big, crazy, and unpredictable and maybe out to get him. Ruby swerved around Doug and charged out into the field beyond the hut. I assumed she would high tail it for home jumping all the gates along the way. Colin and Liam had already left to run home. I was envisioning Ruby barreling down the track right over them. I just hoped they had the sense to dive in the bushes. As I went to find her bridle wondering how I would catch her, Ruby came trotting back to me. I opened the paddock gate and she ambled back inside the paddock. I had heard rumors that Ruby could jump over anything, but I thought I was hearing exaggerated horse stories. Now I know, Ruby girl can jump!

I am riding Poppy now. I have kept quiet about my new horse until I was fairly certain this relationship was going to work. I am leasing Poppy for the winter. She is a beautiful 15.1 h, dark bay Thoroughbred mare. She is silly and full of energy, but (so far) has no buck or nastiness. She and I are having lots of fun. I decided leasing for a season is the perfect option. There is the option to buy Poppy next spring, but no commitment if this relationship doesn’t work out for the two of us. So we’re in a committed relationship for a season and then we’ll see how we’re doing together.