Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Twas the night before Christmas

A tribute poem to the Child Life Staff of Golisano Children's Hospital, written by Jennifer Schaefer-

‘Twas the night before Christmas
When all through Strong Memorial
Not a small child was crying
Not even Julio

The wagons were lined up
In the hallway with care
In hopes that the families
Wouldn’t steal them from there

The children were nestled
All snug in their beds
While visions of needles
Danced in their heads

And Jessie in her sweater
And Jen with her keys
Had just settled down
To cough and to sneeze

When out on the play deck
There arose such a clatter
Wendy burst through the door
To see what was the matter

Away to the window
She flew in a flash
Knocking the Christmas tree
Down in a crash

The moon shining down
Through the windows in the ceiling
Made the dirt left by housekeeping
Now quite revealing

When what to her wondering eyes
Looked so big
But a miniature sleigh
And eight tiny pigs

With a loud sloppy driver
Pushing his way through
Wendy knew in a moment
It must be Swine Flu

Faster than cheetahs
Onto the play deck they ran
Wendy clicked the web paging
For help from her clan

“Now Mary, now Eva
Now Rachel and Chris!
Come Patty, come Jessie
Colleen, Geri, Melissa!”

“Come up to the play deck!
Come up here right now!
We must get rid of
This sickening sow!”

From all over the hospital
The specialists they sprang
Armed with their bubbles
And the VCUG bag

And then in an instant
They heard on the roof
The stomping and clomping
Of each ugly hoof

Wendy lifted her head
And was turning around
When onto the hockey table
Swine Flu jumped with a bound

He was covered in germs
From his head to his toes
His sweaty hoof wiping
His runny nose

His eyes how they drooped
His cheeks how rose
The oxygen running
Through a tube to his nose

He was chubby and plump
A horrible pig
And we cringed when we saw him
And knew this was big

A bundle of piglets
He had flung on his back
All ready to run
And make the attack

One cough from his mouth
Would spread sickness with ease
Wendy said “My child lifers,
We must kill this disease!”

“You’ve stolen our siblings
And family visitation
The Tuesday picnic
And Halloween celebration.”

“But you won’t take our Christmas”
Wendy said to the flu
Then she turned to her staff saying
“You know what to do! “

With a nod of their heads
And a quick steady hand
They pulled all the Cavi wipes
Out of the can

They went straight to work
Wiping up that darn flu
They sent that pig packing
And his little pigs, too

Then they heard flu exclaim
As he left for vacation
“I’ll get you next year
Before your inoculation!”

Wendy turned to her team
As she waved to the swine,
“Merry Christmas to all,
Now, who’s got the wine?”

Merry Christmas my wonderful friends-

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Thomas is 27!!!

We just finished celebrating Thomas' 27th birthday this weekend...yay!  We started with Morgan and Hayley up for dinner- our fabulous friends who also fixed our fireplace (bonus).  Sunday morning was a french toast breakfast party filled with a day of more friends.

Highlights from Thomas-
Peanut buttter sent all the way from Chester Springs Pa.  Big kids love JIF
Peanut butter on french toast
Eating peanut butter- you get the idea...
Touching the world's fastest Indian (a motorbike).
Skyping with family
Prezzies from his wonderful wifey (me)
Going to a farm machinery museum owned by Ken's Auntie Joan.

We celebrated the big birthday weekend a bit early in Nelson with friends.  Such a beautiful area of the country, we were so lucky to have a whole weekend off to explore.  We love exploring!

Thomas' prize catch- the kahawai fish.  We saw a guy- Rob fishing on the beach.  He had already caught about 3 in the 10 min. we were watching him so Thomas went to say hi and see what he was catching and Rob told him to grab a pole and start fishing.  I think within about 5 minutes he got this!  He is quite a guy that Thomas.  They offered to let us bring it home, but we both agreed 4 hours in a hot hot car isn't the best situation with a dead fish, Thomas needed some convincing about that, but we managed in the end.  
Happy Birthday to a wonderful man!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree"

Merry Christmas time.  We have finally started our Christmas decorating.  We have been picking bits and pieces up along throughout the travels and have a little collection started. Our little silvery Christmas balls are my favorite, and they fit so daintily on the little lemon and mandarin trees Thomas picked to be our Christmas trees.
With a little Michael Buble playing in the background, the perfect start to a special season.

Monday, November 30, 2009

the thanksgiving marathon

SO being Americans here in a distant land we felt that it was only our obligation to share our favorite American holidays with our new New Zealand friends.  At first it started out as just having a few people over for Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday Nov. 28th, but as we began spreading the good news we found more and more of the people we wanted to be there were busy that night.  Thus began our venture of 2 Thanksgiving dinner with all of our friends here- I believe there was about 40 over Thursday and Saturday's feast!

Mashed potato central.

Yummy rolls!

Our livingroom soon turned into the kids playroom on Saturday afternoon.- Hayley and Faith were coloring,  Jules, Ava and Lucas were loving the little toy farm.

Our dear friends- 1st the Oamaru clan -Morgan not looking at the camera, Hayley Gareth and Lauren (the other American) all rounding off the corner of the table.  Morgan and Hayley are so awesome, Thomas knew morgan through Cornell, once we moved here Hayley (Morgan's finace) and I became fast friends.  They have been such a blessing to us.  Then there's Pam and Lucas, Dave, Ava and Jules and Rox and Charlie on the other end- Pam, Jules and Rox are all part of our Yummy mummy sports team- they let Thomas and I join even though we don't have toddlers.

Up the other side is- Fleur on the far end, Hannah and Ross, Ken and finally Craig (who goes with Pam and Lucas).  We met Ken and Fleur at church, Ken and Thomas have a common IPhone bond that is unbreakable- and Fleur and I just really enjoy spending time together, so it works out:)  Ross and Hannah also go to our church, they are an awesome couple and she recently opened a stunning clothing store in town.

Boys and their toys- we sent them off outside while we finished getting dinner ready.  The amount of treasures they returned with every 5 minutes were incredible.
It was truly a memorable thanksgiving, being surrounded by all the people that have befriended us and spending time together was a huge blessing.  We could not have asked for a more wonderful day, there is so much to be thankful for.

Our New Zealand home

I know you've been on pins and needles waiting for this day to arrive, finally pictures of our house!
Our dining room table ready for Thanksgiving dinner- looking into the kitchen.


The doorway straight ahead goes into our on suite bedroom (with walk in closet!). And the doorway on the right goes to the downstairs apt. and guest bedroom.

Skyping with the family while they were in Florida.

Our bed- the throw pillows are my favorite.

Looking into the kitchen, there will be more to come later!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Mt. Somers Hiking Track

Mt. Somers Hiking Pictures- featuring Sally, Jenna and Thomas

The appropriate hiking attire- Jenna and Sally

Half way down/up the trail

The valiant team- Fabulous Fit Sally, & Team Jomas :)

There were streams and waterfalls all along the path, it was beautiful.

At the top- Pinnacle Point.  I was so happy to sit down, well worth doing again I must say.  We had a blast!

The latest Kiwiisms

I figured it was just about time to share our newest "kiwiisms" with you all.  It's been about three months since we've moved all the way over here, and I think our American accents have softened a bit.  Our western NY "a" and "r's" aren't as spread out, in fact one of our friends' little boy said to me just the other day "hey you said that like a Kiwi."  Is that a good thing?

Thomas' favorite phrase would have to be "choc-a-block" and mine..."good on ya.'"  They just roll off the tongue it's great.  To be choc-a-block is to be is packed full, like really really full.  "Good on ya'" is like you go girl, or something like that.

Not only do they have entertaining phrases, but we were watching the Breakfast show, aka Kiwi Good Morning America and we were hosted by: Ingrid Hipkiss at the news desk, Rod Cheeseman (sporting a mustache) on sports, and the one and only Emma Brainman giving the weather wearing a 1920's bathing outfit.  Where do these people come from?

Tune in next time for more funphrases to use and spice up you everyday conversation!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The I heart revolution


WE think all people matter to God, so all people should matter to us too.

Thomas and I went to see "The I heart revolution" that was put out by Hillsong United this past thursday.  You may have seen it advertised, it was on for one night in the states then came here to NZ for one night and we were lucky enough to catch it.  For anyone interested is was quite a thought provoking production based on the Hillsong band's tour around the world and all the people they encountered.  They were challenged by all of the need in the world, and talked with people that were making a difference in the lives of their community.  It's hard to put into word, all I can say is it challenged the way we think about things and what we are doing to impact God's kingdom.
There are so many places around the world that have people with obvious needs- food, clothing, water.  Sometimes I feel like in more westernized cultures it can be more difficult to see those needs in people's lives, we try to cover up how we're really feeling and say that everything is fine.  How do we serve God and love people when we don't see the needs?  One quote in the movie showed a picture of a homeless man sitting on a stoop and the questions was asked- "Do you see yourself reaching down to pull this man up or sitting down beside him and loving him."  It struck me that my job is not to reach down and lift people up to where I am, but to come along side them, to sit and meet them where they are and show them God's love in a practical way.
I think we were called here to NZ to walk beside people, Christian and non-Christian to love them and live life with them, to be living examples of Christ's perfect love for us.  I am definitely not saying we are perfect, it's a constant surrendering of yourself to Christ.  An everyday choice to be used for the glory of God.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Happy Tuesday!

I woke up this morning to a beautiful sunshiny day, what a blessing!  Last night we had a lazy night after making a stellar dinner of lamb chops and macaroni and cheese pasta bake, yummo.  As we took a walk out in the back pasture looking out at the mountains I was reminded of just how blessed we are to be here.  It's been exciting, now we're trying to plan what our next trip will be:)  Any suggestions?

Monday, November 16, 2009

happy holiday

happiness = one wonderful weekend together and no robot calls:)

Life has been a bit hectic in the land down under for the past few weeks.  Thomas has been working so hard everyday, while I stand by his side cheering him on - go team go!  The newest news in the life of the Matthews family is...wait for it... we bought a CAR, yay, a little diesel Citroen. So as anyone would do with a new car, we took it for it's first road trip this weekend. One of the best things we have found about living in NZ is that they seem to have quite a few more days off than we did in the states.  Each region of NZ has a holiday throughout the year- (kind of like each county back home) and ours happened to be this past Friday so we took a drive down south- destination Waitaki Dam. 

The Waitaki River is one of the largest in NZ provides the opportunity for many power schemes. There are about six different dams, varying in size supplying power to southland. With so much power and so few people, one wonders why such a high cost of electricity--the answer is yet to be discovered, but the technology of the dams is amazing.

The views were incredible as we overlooked glacial water of the perfect blue color.  How we wish we could bring you all here and share this amazing experience with you all!  Hotel Matthews still has vacancies- Rob and Ter are coming in late January then Chris and Jen Noble come in mid February, so anyone else is welcome to work vacations in accordingly:)
<---- Thomas loved the huge floodgates, it would bring out the boyish wonder in all of us.

Summer is slowly making an appearance here, it has been on and off so far, still a bit like springtime.   We did manage to start our garden, Thomas has the green thumb while I just help with the weeding.
We will have to send pics of the house soon.

Love from New Zealand:)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Lazy crazy Saturday

I heart Saturdays.  It's the one day of the week you can sleep in, stay in bed all day if you really wanted, do just about anything... a day you have all to yourself.

Today was neither a sleeping in or staying in bed day, it was a beautiful day for a hike!  Thomas had the morning off, so we went with our fabulously fit friend Sally to hike the Mt. Somers alpine trek, a 3.5 hr. hike along the the base of the mountain.  We were all ready with PBJ sandwiches in hand, camel packs and hiking boots for our 7:30 am departure time.

When we set out, we were all stoked, ready to seize saturday and make it memorable.  My seizing attitude soon wore off as the hill started up and up and up... then continued up, and then some more.  One would think I would have been ready for this since we were hiking a mountain.  It had the feeling of the bad dream you get when your trying to climb uphill, but never get anywhere, that was me.  I was feeling neither fit nor fabulous.

The good news is that it wasn't all that way, it was a beautiful balance of up and down, walking in stream beds and discovering waterfalls along the way.  As we walked we'd get glimpses of the scenery peaking between the tree branches until we finally came out in a clearing looking right up at the mountains.  In the end it was all worth it, we had such a mixture of feelings between accomplishment and muscle pain, I'd happily do it again.

Thank you Lord for your beautiful creation---pics to come:)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Wanna be in wanaka?


Here are a few shots from our wonderful weekend away in Wanaka, NZ with our dear friends Morgan and Hayley.  This is the same place we came last February on our trip with Justin and Marla and climbed the Mighty Mt. Roy.  We spent the weekend relaxing, visiting and enjoying the scenery.   
We took a drive down to Queenstown though the Cardrona Pass, a very windy, narrow road that leads you through the Crown Range until you reach the other side and Queenstown awaits you.  I think we went through 6 good rounds of 20 questions on the way.
Hayley and I did some shopping while the boys had manly bonding time.  She introduced me to my new NZ stores, Witchery and Country Road.  It's the closest they have to J Crew here:)

For all of you that have yet to learn, a Kiwi is a fruit, a person and a bird.  Here is an example of the bird:)

Thomas and I took a walk along the Clutha river that runs from Lake Wanaka all the way out to the ocean.  The Easton's holiday house over looks the river and has a greenway path that runs right along the river just steps from their house.  We has 2 little dogs join us on our walk whom we named Ruby and Rosco.  Ruby was med. build and loved to play like Josie, and Rosco was a small white curly haired dog that followed Ruby.  We all walked along the river together for about an hour before they finally wandered home.  Ruby and Thomas played stick almost the whole walk.
  The mountain on the left is Mt Roy.  As you can see spring is in full bloom here and we are gearing up for warmer weather... anytime now.  We have been so blessed to have such wonderful friends here!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Life of the Party

Our friend's little girl turned 5 last week and they had a princess party on Sunday after church.  
It was a beautiful sunny day, clear blue sky, we were in the park strategically placed right next 
to the playground.  Thought I would share some of my fav pics:)

Muscles!  Thomas, Joel and Ken

sneaking lollies

We had a great time to say the least!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Where are you again?

Ashburton, NZ... for those of you who have been wondering, I am here to put your minds at ease.  This is where we now call "home."  I was getting picked on by a very good friend of mine that we don't post enough pics, so here are some of our new home base.  Above you'll see the town at night (amazing pic that I have to admit I did not take).  We were told that this town was formed as an oasis for travelers as the ventured from Christchurch to Dunedin, a 4 hour journey by car with at least 5 rivers to cross.  Ashburton offered a ferry across one of the mighty rivers to help travelers along the way.  My mom always says"can you imagine being a pioneer in a covered wagon traveling along with your family and all of the sudden you come upon.... (insert river/gorge/grand canyon).. what would you do!"  Don't worry mom, the covered wagon can go across now:)

This is a view looking down on the Canterbury plains, we are in a little town surrounded by fields and rivers at the base of the mighty southern alps.  Thomas and I have looked down on this view from the top of Mt. Hutt, it takes your breath away... you're humbled when you ponder that God created all of this.
Today starts week 8 of being here in Ashburton and life is starting to settle down.  We no longer are living out of suitcases, we have a home base, etc.  With slowing down comes the realization that we are here for the long haul, we're not just visiting anymore.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

I heart skyping!

I am coming up with a new verb/action word to use "skyping" it's the best!  I just hung up with one of my sisters Carolyn in NY, it's amazing that you can hold a free phone call across the world and see each other while you are talking.  We're were blessed enough yesterday to talk with my parents, Ali (my older sister in Indy) and Thomas' parents in Pa- all right from our little mac laptop.  It's been a skype skype weekend.

This week has been a busy one.  We moved from house sitting into another home where we hope to be living for longer than a few weeks.   It's just down from the Winslow office so we are close enough for me to walk to work if I need to while Thomas is out of town.  We are still in the midst of car searching for me, but we are being patient and it's worked our quite well so far.  This weekend we were able to spend some good quality time with friends- Sally (from work), Paul (from home), Ken & Fleur (from church) and made other new ones as well.  God has truly blessed us by surrounding us with wonderful, genuine people to get to know and love.

Missing everyone at home, we love you!!!  Send up special prayers for my aunt mary as well, she's still in the hospital recovering from some major surgeries.  The cool thing... one of many.... about God is that he transcends time, distance, space.  He's everywhere and with all of us at the some time, it's incredible.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Baking Adventure

So as you know by now thing are a bit different here in New Zealand.  My latest challenge has been mastering the art of metric... all that stuff they teach you in elementary school would come in pretty handy right about now.  For example gram/cup/teaspoon/pound conversions, they all seem so easy.
I was feeling a bit down so I decided to do the thing that makes me feel the most at home... baking my mom's famous chocolate chip cookies.  I went to the local "Countdown" to pick up all of my necessary ingredients: sugar, flour, eggs, vanilla, baking soda/powder, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and buttered flavored crisco.  New Zealand is seriously lacking in the cookie ingredient department.  No crisco, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and real vanilla so we had to improvise.

250 g. brown/white sugar
250 g. butter (no crisco option)
4 eggs- that's the easy part
----- cream by hand------
2 teaspoons salt, soda powder
I don't even know how much flour
dark chocolate buttons
180 deg. Celsius

Thomas says.... he's can't stop eating them:)

Tomorrow we're off to convince the office soft US "bickies" or cookies are the way to go.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

all in good time.

I'm sitting here on a fabulous lime green couch with a lovely purring kitty on my lap with a cup of tea... soak in the moment:)  It's been a while since our last posting, in the mean time we have moved twice and are now house sitting for some co-workers.  The house is simply brilliant, they have mixed the feel of rustic with a touch of modern design and color.  Using lime greens, plum, and charcoal accented with a cherry finished wood, it's perfection.   I wish you could see it, Lulu's head (that's the Kitty's name) is just resting on the edge of my laptop purring away swatting at the keys as I type (maybe she likes what I'm writing) .

Every day has been a new experience, Thomas is working hard as always not driving quite as much as he used to which is nice; I've been working hard at the office.  Everyone really loves to pick on our long hard western NY accents, our vowels are much more spread out...caaafee, caaaars... you get the idea.  It's like we're from Boston or something.  It's interesting though, people here wish they had an American accent, I can't imagine.  I guess it's like the ancient saying, you always want what you don't have.  I want..... hmmm...a car! :)  That's our next project.

This weekend was awesome- friday night drinks with friends; saturday shopping, rugby game, and wrapping up having wine and cheese with more new friends; finally, what's a better way to finish than sunday church.  Tune in for pics tomorrow.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Volleyball Victory

NZ didn't know what they were in for inviting two Yankees to be part of their "social" volleyball team.  It's been so much fun playing with the team that consists of our employer's wife and her baby mama group friends, they're a hoot.  The team name is the "dummies" and tonight after winning the semi-finals we get to play the "bonkers" next week.  The name creativity is astounding!
Today marks our the beginning of our fourth week here in kiwi land.  The Carr family has been extremely gracious in letting us stay with them for so long.  They opened up their home and welcomed us as part of the family and it's been truly awesome.  This is a picture of their 18 mo. old boy Lucas, he dressed up in my Uggs the other day and was having a great time trying to walk... trying being the key word.  He just kept falling on his face rolling over and laughing, it was classic.  Almost as good as his wake up call for toast and mom in the morning.  His little belly gets so full and hard after eating all day, tonight for tea he had more than all of us:)
Well, time to get ready for Tuesday... until next time.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Week 3 kiwi style

This weekend we were quite productive, we tried to achieve a lot however fell short.  No car, no apt., but Jenna did get a job!  That was means to celebrate, there's always this weekend.  We now both are working together for the first time in our lives, call it fun and challenging.  Throughout the day there are a series of multiple breaks called "smokos" we're thinking that means a smoke and coffee break, it even has a special room to be held in.  This afternoon's "smokos" was especially captivating- the staff took to enlightening us on NZ slang, the scandalous ones.
One guy said, "I'm going home for a spa and a "stubbie"= this translating to what I thought to be a bath with a nice small cigar... in actuality it means hanging out in a hot tub with a 12 oz. beer.  A beer we would call normal size they think is small, when asked what we call that size beer, I said... a beer.
Then we were asked if we knew what "snogging" was and if if we ever did that in public.  No idea, so probably not right?  It's a nice way of saying the american phrase making out, but for kiwis making out means doing the deed, going the whole way... not really something you do in public.  Snogging however, is a little more than a peck on a cheek.
All in all this is turning out to be quite the place:)  Good-day!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The art of relocation

Nothing can quite prepare you for what you will experience when you move to a totally new location. Where will you live, what will you do, who will you meet? All of these and more are questions that constantly run through your brain at all hours of the day and night...an as of yet no real answer.
I spent most of the day on the "Where will you live" part of the long list of things to do and with no avail I have no answer. We did find one place- brand new and beautiful, but it's hard to settle on something just 3 days after you having arrived here in NZ. Today the questions were just swirling around me and I was trying to pin them down one at a time. I took myself out for a flat white and surrounded myself in realty magazines most of which I had no idea where the towns listed with homes were located, let alone if it was even close to where I was.
I give so much credit to those people that move on a regular occasion, if there was one piece of advice that would help me what would it be??? Right now it is for me "Give it to God and let go." If anyone can handle this cloud of questions He can.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

We made it...hooray!

We finally made it here...Ashburton NZ! After a 30+ hour day of flying and waiting and flying some more we arrived. The best part is that we went to Venice beach, carryon luggage and all and caught some Cali rays. Thomas walked down the pier, suitcases trailing behind with all the other beach bums and fishermen there. It was classic!
Day 2: Its surreal to wake up and realize you really are living in another country. It's almost completed. Today we went out for a wee wander in the buggy then to grab a trolly for some groceries, then back for lunch. it's so fun the way everyone talks and how I have translate everything. Here is my list so far:)
buggy= stroller
wee wander= little walk
buggered= tired out
bloddy hell= OMG
tea= dinner
Tune in next time for more vocab lessons!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A new day...

The best advice I have heard today is, "take it one step at a time." Life come at us so quickly sometimes it's hard to just take it all in let alone succeed in it. We can cope if we take a moment to break things down into small tasks that add up to the larger ones before we get too overwhelmed. I haven't mastered that art yet, but we are all works in progress.