Monday, December 29, 2008

Matapouri - I mean, Goat Island

We've been dying to get out of Auckland into the wild, beautiful, back country of NZ - spend a couple nights in a cabin, explore the area on some hikeletts, enjoy a little roadtrip.  But, we never plan ahead for going out of town over Christmas holiday.  We just leave it to the last minute which usually means we don't go on a roadtrip over the Christmas holiday b/c, since it's high season here, everything is expensive and booked up (we may not attempt to plan over Christmas holiday subconsciously on purpose because of reason number 1).  But we're still going to get out of town - today we took a daytrip up to Goat Island (~2hrs), which is renown as a dive/snorkeling destination due to great visibility and lots of fish.  We originally planned for a further north destination, Matapouri, but the traffic was totally unbelievable!  We sat still on the highway at least 3 times until we modified our plans and did a U turn.  One of the problems w/ the highway system is that you go from 4 to 2 lanes (total) when you go through these little towns and there are stoplights.  On the highway.  This may have worked fine when the population of NZ was ~1mill, but, we're up to 4mill right now and this system is not so good.  There's lots of construction going on so I guess someone else is aware that this is a problem.   Here are the pics: Babies in the car (notice the lack of motion in these pics - that's because we're on the highway).
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At the beach:
In retrospect, I guess we could have taken some pictures of the beach or sea or Goat Island, but we were focused on the most beautiful things at the beach.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Things I like about New Zealand - #2

Being the holiday season, my mind is drawn to one of the very favorite things I love about NZ (ties-in to reason #1)- you're not expected to work 363 days a year.  You're not even a bad person if you don't work 363 days/year.  In fact, people here might think your priorities are somewhat ajumble if you worked that much.  A previous supervisor of mine opined that the US economy was so nice and strong because, unlike European countries (whose economies were implied to stink, and perhaps they do) we Americans worked hard/continuously (and therefore I should be ashamed to try and take a holiday - what kind of a communist would do such a thing?).  I think we all could have taken a couple more days off over the past few years and our economy would still be right where it is now.  What about NZ's holiday scheme?  The system here is the greatest!  Everyone here, regardless of your job, gets 4 weeks (20 days) personal leave on top of 2 weeks (10 days) of national holidays, e.g. Queen's, Waitangi day, Boxing day, etc.  That's just plain nice.  And, the idea that you wouldn't take all of that leave is quizzical here.  It's suggested here that American's get 14 days off/year on average.  In my opinion, that's not very much, and we don't even take all of it - which was always my experience (disclaimer: the 'study' on vacation days was done by Expedia).  Now, why wouldn't someone take all the vacation time they're entitled to as part of their employment contract?  The answer to that question is one of the reasons the Grammer family finds itself here in NZ.  What do we do with our days off?  We head down to the park and make sure the cows are well-nourished. 



Friday, December 12, 2008


So, I consider myself very un-craftsy, but have had a bit of inspiration from some other mothers lately who are just the opposite and when my own mother held one of these up on skype to entertain our daughters, a little, "Ooh, I could do that...." popped into my heart. So, Chloe and I sat down with a bag of marshmellow, some toffee pops, some gum drops and my personal favorite sour worms, and with the promise of, "tasting time" to come after "making time" had a great time putting these little guys together. Chloe and I have been taking little "fun surprises" to our neighbor's mailbox as a secret santa activity and we popped one into their box today. We took the others to our coffeegroup and handed them around. I think I may be hooked on the crafts thing. We'll see.
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Monday, December 08, 2008

Nan's Blog: Blogworthy

New Zealand from a friend's perspective....Hola to Kim and Mike's family/friends. I've asked the Grammer's if I can post a blog on their spot to ensure my trip to New Zealand becomes 'blog-worthy'. I had a chance to pass through New Zealand on my way back from Australia to the States and visit with my old friend from college, Kimberly. It was so wonderful visiting with her and her growing family and getting to experience this most beautiful country! Everyone should try their hardest to make a trip out here with such amazing things to see and do Here are some takeaways from my experience. 1) Kiwi's have supernatural skin. I was freezing even while wearing three layers of clothes and everyone else was running around in shorts. 2) Kiwi's LOVE all things involving water. Every place I went there was something with water. Hiking by the water...diving in the water (14C!)...glow worm the water...they even recommended zorbing in water (I decided to pass and stay dry). Prior to a trip over there I would recommend standing in a bathtub of ice water to prep your feet so your toes don't turn blue when you get there! 3) Sheep, rocks, just works. Each day I would drive 2-5 hrs and the time would just fly by taking in the sites. Sheep are cool. 4) Kiwi's are super friendly. Everywhere I went everyone offered suggestions and were so helpful wanting me to have the best time I could there. 5) Good friends are hard to come by and should be treasured. Kimberly is a great friend of mine and in retrospect I'm a bit shocked to realize just how easy it was to slip into our camaraderie even after not seeing each other for four years and then being met at the door by Kim's boob (she was nursing when I showed up). Thanks for the visit Grammers; we'll have to do it again sometime!!! --Nancy

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Things I love about New Zealand, #317 - awesome chickens

I thought I would chronicle some of the awesomeness of NZ (en zed) for those of you who are still living in sub-paradise, i.e. not NZ.  We've been living here for about 2.5 years now and the newness has worn off.  Our perspective has surely lost the hyperbolic, subjective taint that you experience when you've just arrived in a foreign land and every minor provincial flavor is exaggerated and extrapolated to the entire population enabling you to succinctly identify the motive of every man, woman and child.  In fact, I will try to avoid too much 'arm chair sociology' and stick to the things that make pretty pictures.  Such as chickens.
Throughout this series of posts (which will be interrupted by our regular posting) I will, when possible, make mention of our neighborly brethren, the Aussies, who are but a 3-hour flight from NZ.  Why?  Well, I think most people are much more familiar with Australia and Aussie culture, thanks to those Foster's Beer commercials and Crocodile Dundee movies, and there are some staggering contrasts between us and them which helps accentuate the uniqueness and maybe gives some insight into the identity of NZ.
Something that certainly deserves noting is the plethora of exotic (to me) chicken-type animals here.  These are all pictures of wild chickens, i.e. not chickens at the zoo or a farm or pet store. 
What kind of chicken  is this?  It's not a grouse, is it?  Do grouse hang out around park benches with pigeons?  
Ok, now these chickens look a bit more traditional, but much more beautiful than your typical chicken
This is a chicken, but with fur.  What a pretty chicken!  (disclaimer, some of these animals are definitely roosters, but is this one?)DSC_0129
And, for wild chickens they are so nicely groomed.  These chickens would be winning contests in other countries but here they just run wild.  I have yet to see a mangy chicken/rooster here in NZ.
NZ is not the only place I've been that has wild chickens. When I visited my mate, Steve, in Hawaii, there were some chickens in the airport at Honolulu. But they were not pretty. Look at the feathered foot accessories on this guy!
Are these not show chickens?  Most of these pictures were taken at parks but, you almost always see some nice chickens at the turnouts along the highway. 
I saved the best for last.  What is this?  It's really pretty, except for it's head-thing.  Is it a pea-hen?
So, what have we learned about NZ?  There are wild, well-kempt, beautiful chicken/roosters here.  They in no way diminish NZ, rather, these animals are a super-duper enhancement of a beautiful, mysterious country.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Nov. 20, 2008 - An Historic Day for the Grammer family!

I got a call at work at about 11:30.  My boss and I were comparing the stimulus artifact from our stimulator on some recently purchased amplifiers and our old workhorse amplifier.  It was Kim and she was excited.  She put Chloe on the phone and I heard her tell Chloe to 'tell daddy what you just did'.  I waited... then it came, 'TT on the potty'.  Chloe went tt on the potty! 
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Kim has been so awesome with this potty training stuff.  She reads heaps about baby stuff and, in regard to potty training, she agrees with the philosophy that babies need to reach a degree of readiness before potty training begins, then they become easily trainable.  I think you can mess a kid up if you freak them out on the potty training scene.  Kim is a wise momma. 
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And it's been like opening the floodgates.  Chloe is going tt on the potty all the time now (we expect poos on the potty soon) She went tt on the potty 3 times that first day.  In fact, there was so much 'tt' going around that we had another first on the same day!  Claire said her first word, 'TT'! 
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We have since captured Claire repeating her first word on video and will be releasing it later this year as part of a box set.  She is reaching developmental milestones almost daily now.  We are having such a great time!  These babies are awesome geniuses.  And FUN.
God's blessings are better than anything imaginable.  Thank you, God!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Los Dos Birthday Parties

Aka: Chloe turns 2! Oh, Chloe turns 2 again! I'm betting now that Chloe's actually had three 2nd birthdays that she will immediately move to the position of honor when she hears the birthday song sung! She may also think the words are incorrect if someone else's name is sung (smile)! I know Chloe had a great time at all of her birthday parties! I only have pics thus far from the two we had in the States. I think Chloe enjoyed playing ring around the rosie with her cousins at the bash Aunt Sue threw, complete with concert pianist, and I was happy to introduce her to my all time favorite Pizza Parlour game: ski ball (though as evidenced by the photos clearly the CAKE was her favorite part! And, considering it was a Maggie Moo's ice cream cake that her Granny L had done, it may have been my favorite part, too!). Chloe was a bit frightened by Chuck E Cheese himself, afterwards saying, "Mouse. Scary. Uncle Chris. High five." Uncle Chris came to her rescue and showed her Chuck E was an okay kind of mouse by reaching out to give him a high five.
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Lillian & Bec

Bec & I are always wishin' for more time, but we had a delightful
teaparty with the girls and it made me want Chloe to be around
Lillian all the time as she was SUCH a sweet little role model! Chloe
has since been doling out the hugs & is a big fan of the tea parties!

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Momma's Side of the Family

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Daddy's Side of the Family

We had such a fun time in Wichita Falls, TX with all the family. I can't even begin to talk about what a lovely stay it was and how generous they all were with us! Talk about filling our suitcases! And, I've heard there are three more packages on the way!
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Visit with Maw Maw

Probably the most special part about this visit was when Chloe caught glimpse of her Grandaddy Bill. Supernaturally, she seemed to really see him. Pretty cool moment. Maw Maw couldn't stop mentioning how pretty and smart she thought the girls were.

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Airplane. Ride him.

This was my dream moment on the overseas flight between LAX & Auckland. When Chloe saw the airplane, I believe she had been thinking of it like one of her PaPa's horses because she stated, "Airplane. Ride him. Airplane. Pet him." Of course if you could ride him like a horse, you should be able to pet him, too.

One man told me I should travel lighter. Perhaps he meant I should leave the kids at home.

When traveling by plane 16 hours with a toddler, if they want to tear up the Tahitian flower the attendants tucked behind your ear when you boarded, and she's doing so peacefully, you don't say a word.
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My BFF & Our Babies

There's so much to say about our trip to the US,
but just no time. So, here's a little collage of Melissa
& I and our girls. It meant so much to us the way
everyone traveled far & wide to be sure to see us
while we were in the US. Mel managed a big trip by
new mom standards, considering you pretty much
have to bring your entire baby room in order to be
away from home for a day. As they say in NZ, "Good
on ya, mate!" I was so glad to get to see her & introduce
our girls!
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