Monday, June 29, 2009

Family fun and facepainting

It was a wet and foggy weekend recently, and the kids woke to find the Skytower had disappeared!
“Mumma, where did the Skytower go?” Harmonie said in despair. “Maybe someone chopped it down!”
Luckily, we scored invitations to a family fun day at Auckland’s Ed Hardy store.
Ed Hardy is an incredibly trendy global brand of clothing, bags, sunglasses, hats, shoes and more, often spotted on celebrities.
The Newmarket store was decked out with x-boxes and playstations, and there was Sushi, and bacon and egg sangers to munch on. C. had two!
The kids were lucky enough to have their faces painted by Carmel McCormick, New Zealand’s fabulously talented face painter and body artist. She’s the woman responsible for the hugely successful Air New Zealand ad ‘Nothing To Hide’, which features AirNZ staff in the nicky nude. (Their rude bits are never seen, and their uniforms are painted on).
She was lovely, and just amazing to watch, because she was so talented and so fast.
The kids scored goodie bags filled with chocolate, drinks, and Ed Hardy goodies like mouse pads and stickers.
Even better, they were thrilled to meet two Kiwi celebrities, Lee Donaghue and Bonnie Soper (Hunter and Morgan from Shortland Street). The actors were gorgeous and very sweet with the kids.

Our usual kitchen window view

Not this weekend though

Startstruck! H. with Lee and Bonnie from Shortland Street.

And again with the gorgeous Bonnie















C's face - thankfully not as risque as the AirNZ ad


















And Miss H's - she loved the attention!









Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Look out Auckland...more Aussies are coming!

The number of Aussies in Auckland is set to rise next month, when some very dear friends come to stay.
They’re our first visitors so far this year. (Let’s face it: We’re obviously not very popular).
Anyway, I am sure they can’t wait to push a few trundlers, eat their own weight in in Pinkys and Perky Nanas, and help us sample a few more wines and beers.
In other news, my hand is mending very nicely, according to the specialist, but it’s still in a clunky cast. I’ve become very adept at one-handed typing, even managing to meet my work deadlines and (occasionally) update the blog.
Housework has been a challenge though (okay, it’s always a challenge), so I was thrilled to get a call from the ACC to say I qualified for some home help.
The ACC is New Zealand’s injury cover, and basically covers most of the costs of any injury which occurs here – medical costs, transport, even childcare if required. The trade-off is that you’re not allowed to sue, hence ruling out the ridiculous litigation cases we see in other countries.
Anyway, this means I’m getting 1 ½ hours help a week while my hand heals because I’m not able to do some basic household tasks.
My helper arrived on Monday and was wonderful, cleaning the kitchen and bathroom and changing a couple of beds.
Granted, it would have been nice to have the help a few weeks ago, when I was home alone, less mobile, and in considerable pain. (It can take up to a month for them to decide what you can claim).
But I’m certainly not complaining.
How wonderful it must be for the elderly to know they will get the care they need in the event of a fall or accident.
Sadly, the cover only applies for injury, not illness. So if, for example, I was incapacitated from pneumonia, as I was late last year, I’d be on my own. But since I’m incapacitated because of my own clumsiness, it's okay.
Maybe that’s why Aucklanders have that disconcerting habit of walking onto the street without looking for oncoming cars! They must be after a bit of physio or perhaps some home help. Either that, or they are barking mad!
Speaking of barking, I wish the budget ran to a long weekend in Queenstown, as they’re enjoying a winter festival down there.
Highlights include a mardi-gras, concerts, ski-ing, and of course, the Speight’s Dog Derby, which involves farmers sliding down an icy mountain on their bums, with their faithful dogs at their heel. Or bum. As you do.
(I'd be watching out for the yellow snow though!)
Afterwards, the shepherds and their hounds move to the Village Green for a barking contest. Apparently, if the dogs won’t oblige, the owners are allowed to get down on all fours and bark for them.
Barking I tell you!



H. and C. are enjoying their new responsibilities in the kitchen. Here they are making Shepherd's Pie







C. cooks, while H. - erm, actually I have no idea what she is doing!



The kids and Husband discovered a Mexican place while I was away recently, and have been dying to show me. So we went.
C. digging into nachos.
Eating out is thirsty work!
The offending hand
No wedding rings. (Sob). And I can't even do: Two for the Gabba!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

He's back...

The Aussies in Auckland were reunited on the weekend, when Husband arrived home after a couple of weeks back in Australia for work.
We always miss him like crazy when he’s away, but this time was even worse, because I managed to mangle my hand when falling up our infamous stairs.
Luckily, I was clever enough to break my left hand instead of the right, so I’m still able to type one-handed (and of course, I had a story deadline to meet that week too!)
The worst thing was that the doctor had to cut off my wedding and engagement rings, because my fingers were so swollen they were cutting off the circulation.
I don’t know what was more traumatic, the brutal treatment of my rings, or my damaged hand!
I didn’t tell Husband, because things always sound worse over the phone, and I didn’t want to worry him.
The kids were fab: Fetching things for me, tying plastic bags over my hands for the shower, opening jars and bottles, and generally being very sweet. C. was thrilled to discover he can now open cans and child-proof lids! (Maybe not a good thing...)
But I think they were relieved when Daddy came home, and took over.
My accident highlighted one of the negatives of living in another country. We have no family here in New Zealand, and though we've made friends, there was no one I felt close enough to, to be able to call on their help for basic things like getting the kids to school, cooking, or even tying my hair back (the kids couldn't quite manage it!)
On Monday, K. went into the office as usual, only to be told, in no uncertain terms, to go home! Apparently, the company’s Swine Flu management plan requires employees to have three days at home if they’ve travelled overseas. (Of course, no one actually thought to tell him that…)
It was great though, as it meant I had two more days to enjoy his company, while he took care of the school run, shopping, and cooking.
I know Swine Flu sucks, but this time it was a blessing!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Our night at the museum


Why go to a movie when you can experience the real thing? That’s our verdict, after spending a Night At Auckland Museum recently.
Billed as a chance to see the museum come alive after dark – just as the Smithsonian does in the movies of the same name - our Night At Auckland Museum did not disappoint.
Eagerly clutching their torches, Mr 8 and Miss 6 almost wet themselves with excitement as we charged through the doors at 5.30 pm. Literally. Thank goodness there was a handy restroom on the way in …

I looked longingly at the coffee-cart, but the queue was already lengthy and the kids were on a mission to explore as much of the dimly-lit museum as possible.
The museum certainly felt different after dark. Some areas were in total darkness, and it felt totally creepy – but in a delicious way. Cautiously exploring one darkened display, our torches suddenly lit up the face of a soldier mannequin, prompting squeals all round!
And there was a real carnival atmosphere as kids and adults alike charged around, trading hints on where to find the characters that had come to life. The characters included a soldier, a scientist, a wahine toa, a war-time nurse, an Egyptian princess, a Rarotongan musician, three lively dinosaurs, and the museum’s founder John Alexander Smith, as a portrait that wouldn’t shut up.
The kids loved them all, especially Nurse Nancy, who inquired solicitously about their health while brandishing a scary-looking vintage syringe.
The budding volcanologist voted Jonny Hair’s talk about volcanos and associated mini-eruption demonstration his favourite part of the evening. The reminder that Auckland is home to 49 volcanoes, and that earthquakes and/or eruptions could occur at any time, was music to his 8-year-old ears. Mine? Not so much.
For Miss 6 it was the museum’s resident dinosaur family which delighted, even though we almost needed the little girls’ room again when the largest herbivore, Basil, tried to snap her nose!
“It’s a herbivore Harmonie,” Mr 8 said witheringly. “He won’t eat you!”
The Knowledgeable One was thrilled to be chosen to tame the feisty dinosaur by hypnotising it, and even more excited when Basil chased him under a table for cheekily announcing: “There’s a man in there!”
Part-way through, there was an intermission which gave me time to get a coffee while the kids revived with a couple of hot chocolates and made some dinosaur masks. It was welcome chill-out time for a teary Miss 6, who had been overwhelmed by the crowds and excitement during Dinosaurs Alive.
The only real disappointment of the night was that we ran out of time to see all the displays, and get all of the stamps, before being summoned to the foyer for the Farewell.
Luckily, the staff assured kids they could still hand in their passports at the end of the night, even without all the stamps, to go into the draw for free stuff. Otherwise, we would have had a mutiny on our hands and I really would have been in line for an all-nighter at the Auckland Museum!
The characters gathered again to do a kitsch goodbye song to the tune of So Long! Farewell from the Sound of Music.
Our favourite verse went: So long, farewell, it was so nice to meet you, And we are glad, our dinos did not eat you!
Me too!