I love my kids!

on November 25, 2010

Pia and Philip are in Auckland tonight for the U2 concert so for the first time I'm all alone with Lukas and Eliza over night. I wasn't afraid of it but I surely didn't expect it to got that smooth =D I had a soccer game in the afternoon so Louise took the kids along with a kilo of chicken nuggets, a pot of pasta and some cinnamon cookies I had made earlier.

2.5 hours later I picked them up (we've won the soccer game 9:3 - we absolutely trashed them *heehee*). They were just finishing Toy Story 3 and were already in their pyjamas. Took them home, they brushed their teeth and hopped into bed. We read one chapter of their current bedtime story and got some reading time on their own afterwards.

I was going to check on Tipi and her puppies in the meantime, feed her and let her out for a little walk.

Ten minutes later I come back inside to turn off the light and send the kids to bed. And what do I find? The light is turned off and both kids are fast asleep. It was not even 8.30pm.

Lukas and Eliza, you are absolutely adorable *kiss*

I'm planning my future

on November 23, 2010

It's been a little quiet around here lately. That is not because nothing has happened. On the contrary. Life has been full of events, everyday adventures and problems. But I didn't consider most of the things extraordinary enough to be mentioned. Who cares whether we've lost at soccer or won a pub quiz, whether I've been drunk and sick as at a friend's place or am going for a swim in the Pacific almost every weekend.

My mind has been preoccupied these last few days and weeks. If you're reading my blog regularly you already know I have fallen in love head over heels with this country. Sometimes when I'm at the beach or even just driving around I could not only jump for joy but almost cry or scream out loud because it so feels like coming home, having arrived. It's hard to explain this feeling inside.

The longer I am here the more I come to understand - as I have already done in the past - that Germany is not a happy place for me. I don't fit, I feel out of place there. I've always longed for something else, like my most favorite quote explains perfectly:

Every dreamer knows it is entirely possible to be homesick for a place you've never been to. Perhaps even more homesick than for familiar ground.

Now that I'm in New Zealand I don't feel "homesick" anymore. I feel like I have finally come home. Sounds weird, doesn't it? Thinking that I've only been here for 4.5 months. Yet that is exactly the way I feel.

A friend of mine is just trying to extend her stay here and has applied for a work permit. But the conditions are very tough and I'm not sure whether she'll make it. I've put a lot of thought into that lately wondering if I can stay here, under what circumstances and what kind of life I'd want to live. And I've come to some interesting conclusions that might suprise, maybe even shock some of you.

Ever since I was ten years old I wanted to be a journalist. I've done heaps of internships, freelance work, got my university degree and worked a few years in what I always thought was not only my favorite profession, but a passion. Realizing - and accepting - that this might no longer be the case was tough.

Being an Au Pair and working with kids almost full-time has changed a lot of my perspectives. I am seriously considering a career change - and to become an Early Childhood Teacher here in New Zealand. The last few days and weeks I have spent researching online, talking to people, weighing my options, calculating, making phone calls... and I'm slowly seeing light at the end of the tunnel. Meaning there really might be a way to make this work.

Studying over here is very expensive - especially for foreigners who sometimes pay more than three times as much on fees as kiwis would. Getting permits - to study and/or work - is just as tough and requires lots of paperwork. I downloaded probably 40 pages of information brochures, application forms and whatever else today and am still fighting my way through it.

Luckily I have eight more months to work things out. But my decision is made. Let's see if I am meant to walk this path...

Kua whānau mai tōku kuri i ngā kuri pēpi i tēnei rā

on November 22, 2010

For all of you who are not familiar with the Māori language - that means: "My dog just had some puppies today". I know, Tipi isn't my dog - but we haven't learnt the word for "our" yet so this will have to do.

Anyway... YAY WE HAVE PUPPIES =D I think it's only a week ago that Lukas said Tipi is probably having babies soon. And that clever little boy was right. Yesterday just after noon Pia and Louise found our two year-old bordercollie with nine little baby doggies in the shed. Six girls and two boys. Can't wait to see them grow up. Their eyes are still closed and it will take up to two weeks for them to open them up and start crawling around. But they are already the cutest things ever!!!

It's like Old McDonald's right now with all the baby animals around...

You'll find more pictures on Facebook.

Why housework should be banned!

on November 09, 2010

Originally today's (second) post was supposed to be about baby animals. Because of those I had seen a lot today. First of all Louise (my host mom's sister in law) has bought a kitten on the weekend and Ozo is such a cute little thing =D I want a kitten, too *lol*

Today Noel (Louise's husband and my host dad's brother) has also brought home a little baby rabbit that almost got run over with the motorbike on the paddock. They'll try to keep it and hopefully it will survive...

Another baby animal that still isn't safe is Piepsi, a little chick that was found at a friend's place this morning. It's born too late, way after its siblings, and therefore probably too weak to survive among the other chicken. So now it's found a new home with Katrin and she'll try to coddle it up.

But anyway... the post was only MEANT to be written about baby animals. Instead I'd like to write about Guardian Angels today and why housework should be banned... I've always been a bit clumsy but lately there have been too many incidents that make me wonder whether my Guardian Angel is taking a vacation right now.

Just last week I bumped my head (and my butt) real hard while playing soccer. Could barely move my neck for a few days so stiff were the muscles from absorbing the fall.

And then today...? I was vacuuming the house and was almost finished when somehow I managed to drop one of our heaters right onto my foot. Oh I don't know if I have ever felt such pain... It was so bad I got all queasy and thought I had to throw up. Luckily Pia was already home. Don't know what I would have done with just the kids around. Though Lukas and Eliza were really sweet - fighting over who can bring me a glass of water, some pain relief... Lukas brought me a stuffed animal to squeeze and Eliza took my hand. They are soooo adorable!!!

Pia took me to the doctor so I could get an X-ray, see if it's broken. Lucky me it isn't =D It'll just be sore for a few days until the swelling goes away. So now I wonder whether my Guardian Angel is actually a really good one because I'm just too clumsy in general and he prevents me from getting seriuously hurt. Or whether he is taking a short vacation right now because all these things happen in the first place...

You've got mail!

Today one of Pia's friends came over for lunch and guess what she held in her hands... MY MOM'S PARCEL!!! The one I have been waiting for for almost a month now! I didn't think it would appear anymore and now it's here =D

Anne said she had it delivered to her mailbox yesterday. Now the funny thing is - Anne lives about half an hour away from here on a farm just as remote as ours. Her last name doesn't match Pia's, the roads don't sound similar... what on earth was that mailman or maillady thinking?!?!?

Anyway, it't here now - and I can finally have my yummy Uelzena cappuccino again =D

It's time to...

on November 08, 2010

YEAH!!!! I made it... Sometime last night (New Zealand Standard Time) my blog welcomed its 5000th visitor!!! Therefore I would like to thank all of you for following me, reading my posts and every once in a while even recommending it to others. That's the pure joy of writing a blog like this - to know that it's being read and appreciated =D

That is me sausage!!!

on November 07, 2010

Just got back from another great weekend exploring beautiful New Zealand. This time we (Gritje, Sophie and I) went to Kerikeri where Gritje's host mom's brother David lives who had "invited" us to a BBQ and let us stay at his place for the weekend.

Unfortunately I missed Sunday dinner with my host family because it had been rescheduled to Friday this time due to Guy Fawkes Day. Back in 1605 a group of "terrorists" tried to kill the British King with a bunch of gunpowder barrels. The plot failed and Guw Fawkes who was supposed to be its leader was executed. Since then every year on November 5th there are huge bonfires all over Britain (and obviously New Zealand as well) remembering that day when the King was saved.

I missed the fireworks with my host family because we were leaving for Kerikeri Friday Night. But we had our own bonfire (mostly lit with the help of diesel, diesel and more diesel) and David had supplied some fireworks which to German standards are rather weak I have to admit. But we had heaps of fun anyway roasting marshmellows over the diesel fire =D

We spent Saturday in Paihia, called "The Jewel of the Bay of Islands". There's heaps of stuff to do: kayaking, horse-riding, skydiving, walks, helicopter rides, ... Paihia is one of the first settlements in New Zealands and nearby you find historic Russell and Waitangi where the treaty was signed that led to the country's "birth".

We spent all day long at the beach looking for beautiful shells, going for a swim and doing some shopping. Life can be so wonderful down here. Makes you wonder how anyone would ever want to leave again! The same thought occured to me again today when David took us on a boat trip to Cape Brett and the "Hole in the Rocks".

The night before I had asked David how the chances to see some dolphins are in the area. His answer wasn't very satisfying: "They swim around, sometimes they are here, sometimes they are not." The happier I was when Gritje actually did spot some dolphins while we were cruising around! THEY WERE SO BEAUTIFUL! Quite huge, too. It was an unforgettable sight seeing those graceful animals floating through the water, playing with the waves. At times they were as close to the boat as maybe five meters!!! What a joy =D

Once they were gone we went to Urupukapuka Beach for a swim and do some kayaking. The water at first seemed quite cold but after a while it was actually a lot more comfortable being in the water than out with the wind blowing stronger and stronger.

The water was getting a bit rough, too, when we made our way back to the coast. David was enjoying himself on the wheel going quite fast so our bodys were shaking around with each wave. I wish I had a boat - I'd be out on the water every free minute! I so enjoy it and lucky me I was allowed to drive for a bit. Of course David turned the speed down before he handed over the wheel. Too bad ;-/

We also did some fishing today - or at least Sophie and I tried to. Unfortunately the only thing we caught were two unhappy seagulls that somehow managed to get tangled up with the hook ;-/ David and Gritje were trying to help them which wasn't easy because those poor fellows were fighting for their lives hacking and biting anything that came close. But in the end both were freed and I hope are by now happily munching on fish again...

By the way for all of you who understand a bit of German... We were thinking about a few German idioms this weekend and translated them into English word by word. I put my second favorite down as the headline for this post. Can't tell you my favorite as it's a bit naughty *heehee* FYK would be the abbreviation for those who want to know send me a message :-)

P.S.: I didn't take any pictures this weekend but Sophie did. You'll find them - as always - on Facebook by clicking here...

Back on the field

on November 04, 2010

Back in Germany I had promised my soccer coach I would try to find a team down here to keep in shape and don't forget how to play. Well - unfortunately soccer season in New Zealand only lasts during the winter months. There is, however, a less serious league where anyone can play during the summer months. And I have found myself a team *yeah*

A few weeks ago when I went to the prize-giving of Tikipunga Soccer Club - where I played the last two games of the season - I met one of the guys who plays for Tiki and he let me join his team "The Llamas". They lost the first game last week 3:4 - I wasn't there because I had been in Auckland *lol* This week I finally made it and was looking forward to kicking the ball again =D

The field we play on for this league is quite small and each half is only 20mins. Each team needs to have at least one woman on the field (or two?), there's five players each on the field all together. We didn't start too good and were soon one goal behind. BUT we were getting better and better. In the end the score was 7:3!!!!!!! We kicked ass =D

Even I could have scored - but I was too busy tripping over the ball when trying to shoot from what seemed to me a perfect position ;-/ Landed very hard on my butt and then on my head. Didn't know what hurt more... Still feeling a little dizzy.

And as if that isn't enough humiliation I ended up in a typical "stupid female"-situation after the game. I was sitting in the car wanting to go home - and that stupid key wouldn't turn to start the engine. I tried for about 10mins... nothing worked. Unfortunately my host family was about half an hour away - so what was I supposed to do? Of course - call a guy for help... One of the players came to my rescue - it turned out the wheel was locked, that's why the key wouldn't turn.

I feld SOOOOOOOOOOO stupid ;-/ Couldn't believe it - like in a really bad movie. What a day...

Getting to know your animals

on November 01, 2010

School in New Zealand is quite different from Germany. Not only do you start school the day you turn 5 years old - no matter if your birthday is in January, August or November... learning (from what I understand so far) also is a lot more individual.

When I started school in East Germany many many years ago (I was one of the few ones who started school at 6 rather than 7) we had our "Fibel" - the book that contained your letters and taught you how to read - we did our maths and biology, ... everybody learnt the same stuff at the same time. If you weren't fast enough you were just out of luck.

It's amazing to see Eliza who just turned 7 read book that have 20 pages or more, containing words like "gradually" or "hippopotamus". Lukas who will turn 5 in February knows how to write his name, can count at least to 20, often higher than that, and does easy maths (like 1 plus 1). Even Rachel who is only 2.5 can count. Was it like that when I was young? Can't remember...

Anyway... last weekend I experienced something else I've never come across at any school in Germany. Ag(ricultural) Day - or Calf Club Day. For weeks and weeks all the kids had to practice with a pet animal at home - either a calf, a lamb or a little goat. Learn about it - what it eats, how to feed it, how to clean it, when it was born, ... Lukas and Eliza spent a few afternoons leading their calves around, making the animals get used to them, brushing them, feeding them.

On Ag Day the whole school gets together. My family including Philip's brother Noel, his wife Louise and their kids Matthew, Ryan and Rachel plus two calves for neighbors' kids went here with seven calves!!! The kids all got a number to identify them for the jury and then everyone started preparing the animals.

Eventually all the kids gathered in groups to start the competition. They each had to lead their animal around a show course making circles, turns and stops to show they could handle their calf. A jury judged the performance and also tried to find out how well the children knew their "pet". Prizes were also given for good breeding.

Our kids did really well =D Matthew got third for Rearing and Eliza third for Leading. Even Ryan who attented Ag Day for the first time did a very good job. Here are the proud calf owners:

Matthew (7) and Sarah

Ryan (5) and Canada

Eliza (7) trying to convince Crystal to accept her ribbon :-)

The cutest thing, however, was to watch our little ones Lukas and Rachel handle their animals. Pre-schoolers are usually not allowed on the show course but Lukas wanted to have a go anyway. So he took Mustikka (Finnish for Blueberry) for a walk in front of everybody. Unfortunately Mustikka is more than stubborn and was dragging Lukas along the course rather than being led. But Lukas was very brave - he didn't let go of the leash until the calf had dragged im around a corner and ran off ;-/ Still he - and all of us!!! - was very proud when in the end he got a special rosetta for giving it a try.

Lukas (4) and Mustikka

And how about little Rachel? She dragged chockie (? - short for chocolate) around the course being determined to be the boss. What a little rascal =D