Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What I'm up to


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: