Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A conference with the kuds

Well kids actually. It's just with a New Zealand accent, kids comes out like "kuds"!
Anyway, their school held a student-led conference this week. The idea is that parents come in and the kids themselves take them around the classroom, showing off all the work they've been doing, what they're particularly good at, and what they need more help with at home.
The teachers are there, but it's the children themselves who do the talking.
It was really sweet, and must have taken a lot of time and effort for the teachers to organise.
Both H. and C. love school, and they were so proud showing off their portfolios!
It was great to see what they get up to each day, and to get an insight into how their little minds work too.
For example, both had chosen their Daddy when they were asked to write about their 'special person', which was really sweet. And H. had written a story about how Daddy loves donuts!
It was cold and dark by the time all that finished, so the kids and I picked up snapper and chips from our favourite outlet, Oceanz Seafood, at the Auckland Fish Market (
Home of Auckland's favourite chips, the seafood is so fresh it practically jumps onto your plate!
The kids were thrilled when, while we were waiting, a man came in and bought 8 live lobsters (at $85.95 a kilo mind you). They loved watching the lobsters being caught and dropped, wriggling with claws waving wildly, into a plastic bag.
You can imagine their excitement when, moments later, another man bought a dozen live crabs!
Again , they were caught, this time two or three at a time, and dropped into a bag.
I did feel a bit sorry for the ill-fated crustaceans, but it certainly made the kids' evening.

C. showing off his computer skills
H. making a finger puppet

Poor lobsters!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

House calls

I'm constantly amazed at the differences between the Kiwi health system and our own.
Having blogged before about the pros and cons of healthcare, there were more surprises this week, after I contracted that particularly nasty Swine-Flu-like virus.
Apart from the vigilant measures taken at the GP surgery, where masks and gloves were donned and handed out with abandon, I'm amazed at the follow-up I've had since my last visit. Yesterday, the nurse rang me to ask how I was feeling, and the GP himself phoned today to make sure I wasn't any worse, and to remind me to drink my fluids and take my tablets. Considering, we often have to wait days to even see our (admittedly wonderful) GPs back home, it's amazing service.
As the Kiwis would say, Sweet As.
As for that flu? Husband and I are still struggling on, and the kids, so far, have stayed healthy. If anyone has any cures they want to share, I'd love to hear them!
At this rate, I'll be fixing up a pot of Mum's Witches Brew For Flu before long - lemon, honey, paprika, garlic, ginger and hot water.
It may well work, but I don't think anyone will want to be near me anytime soon...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Viva Bris Vegas ...

Brandied strawberries with pumpkin and vanilla bean gelati, and basil. Sounds weird but it was delicious! This from Al Dente at Middle Park.

Spinach and ricotta ravioli with prawn and crab sauce. Just gorgeous. Again, Al Denta at Middle Park. We highly recommend it.

H. tucks into spaghetti bolognaise which is even better than Daddy's! Courtesy of Al Dente.

C. noshing on ham and pineapple pizza - nothing like Domino's and for that we were grateful!

Aussie afternoon tea - a meringue caterpillar for C, and a marshmallow for H. I know - how healthy are they?

Brisbane street art

C. enjoying duck soup and noodles

H. munching on a Peking Duck pancake

C. also loves his Peking Duck.

Mmm Peking Duck. My mother's day treat
Breakfast at Rocklea Market. C. plumped for a bacon and egg roll, and pineapple juice.

Missy wanted Dutch pancakes.

Hungry little boy tucks in.

Mmm, Yatala pie

Husband had his with all the trimmings - mushy peas, potato and gravy

C. plumped for an apple pie

Face-painting fashion parade on Pacific Blue. Pacific Blue are so great for kids (and parents)!

C. chose to be a demon

H. was a Princess. Apparently.

Daddy's little girl.

Biding time at Auckland airport

A healthy breakfast (not).

Sign at our Auckland GP's clinic

The dreaded face mask

Swine Flu and other stories

I haven’t blogged for a while, as the family and I had to take a flying trip back to Australia.
Ironically, most of the trip involved spending time with our favourite GPs, specialists and other health carers, in a bid to keep us, well, healthy.
So how crappy was it that both Kyle and I managed to pick up a nasty version of the Brisbane flu? Okay, at least it wasn’t Swine Flu, but that didn’t stop my NZ doctor whipping a facemask on me, lest I wipe out half his surgery waiting room!
Though we didn’t get to catch up with my family this time, we were able to stay with Nana, who ferried us wherever we needed to go and spoiled the kids rotten.
We also caught up with a few dear friends, and managed a visit to the Rocklea Markets, a regular haunt when we were living in Brisbane.
Our flights, with Pacific Blue, were a delight, because the staff are always so happy and clearly love their jobs. Yes, you don’t get all the added extras, like free food and drink, but you get flight attendants who clearly love what they are doing, and pilots who are happy to land on time (or ahead of time).
On the way to Brisbane, the flight attendants took all the kids down the back of the bus, and painted their faces. Then they held a fashion parade, up and down the aisle of the plane, as passengers clapped.
Later, another flight attendant (who we were told made it into the finals of NZ Idol), held an on-board seated aerobics session.
“Smoking is disgusting, and cannot be done until well inside the terminal building,” went another public service message.
Finally, we arrived in Auckland, where our local doctor took one look at me and slapped a Facemask on me. As you do.
Though Australia seems to have forgotten the Swine Flu epidemic, NZ authorities are still being cautious.
With my condition worsening, I had to return a few days later, only to be treated as even more of a leper.
This time, the doctor himself donned mask and gloves before examining me, and a nurse did the same before doing a swab to rule out Swine Flu and hopefully discover which flu virus I’ve bought into the country.
Apparently, since I’ve had a flu injection and been felled by flu anyway, I’m just what authorities need to decide what to put in next year’s flu vaccine.
Oh well, I’m glad that something good has come from all my misery!
When it was all over, I was told to put my mask back on, and leave the building as quickly as possible, not even to bother to pay. For a minute, I thought this Swine Flu-like virus wasn’t all bad, until the doctor helpfully added that I could fix them up next time. When I’m not so diseased.
Got to love the Kiwi Medic's bedside manner...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Beaches, burgers, and 'the Baconater'

Living in Auckland, has turned us into an impulsive family.
Once, we liked to plan weekends and free time – but now, we never know when one of us is going to be sick, or the weather is going to be bad, awful, or just plain scary.
Indeed, on the few occasions we’ve organised to do something, we often have to cancel at the last minute. It’s common in Auckland. In fact, school, sporting, and public events often advertise two dates when it comes to advertising events – the original ‘hoped-for’ day, and the ‘rain day’, in the likely event the skies will open.
So on Sunday, when the sun rose and bathed Auckland in its joyous presence, we were quick to take advantage.
We gathered cold drinks, rain coats, warm coats, and towels, and headed to the wild West Coast.
Highly recommended by my new Auckland friend Hsin-Yi (, the West Coast Beaches are where the film The Piano was made.
With rugrats in tow, we only had time to explore two of them (we’ll be back later for more).
First top was Muriwhai, where gannets breed and dolphins play.
Next up, was Bethells Beach, just in time for lunch at the popular beachside Burger Van.
The food, surroundings and ambiance was wonderful.
The beach itself is wild and wonderful. Shimmering, black and silver volcanic sand, sea spray, and caves, just waiting to be explored. And quicksand!

Bethells Beach - a black sand volcanic beach.

So vast, it feels deserted, even though there were loads of people, dogs and horses there! The kids burnt off some energy

C. loved the caves

And the Quicksand!
Enjoying lunch. Burgers, chips and aioli from the beachfront burger van

A West Coast burger - organic beef, salad, red onion, chutney and tomato sauce.

The burger van

Rockpools at Muriwai

A less healthy burger option! C. loves 'The Baconater' a mammoth meaty option from the Wendys takeaway chain. Two beef patties, cheese, bacon, mushroom sauce and minimal salad. It's advertised by a man doing a terrible Arnold Schwarzenneger impression.

Luckily, there's nothing to him, so he can afford to indulge in the occasional junk food binge!

Friday, May 1, 2009

For the mother who has everything

It seems I blogged too soon about the delights of Trademe. Just in time for Mother's Day, comes this item ...
It's a penis-and-testicle-shaped grapefruit!
(Yes, I never imagined typing that sentence).
Even funnier, is the fact that someone actually bought it for NZA$11.50.
And people say Aussies are weird ...

Fire and ice ...

You can take the Brissie girl out of New Zealand, but you can't take NZ out of the girl. Or something like that. What I mean is that al...