Saturday, February 19, 2011

Our Beginnings at Colwill

We're back in primary school! The beginning of the year is always so exciting, and a little chaotic, so we're loving it!

But before we started school and after our trip...

Kerry took us fishing! Alexis and I often sat at the end of the boat to fish which was probably not my best idea and here's why: Within 5 minutes of getting situated up there, I broke the boat! Kerry told me to scoot back, so I did, but I scooted onto the window of the hatch which is apparently plastic and I BROKE IT. How awkward... "Did I do that?" Erkel style. Kerry was cool with it (don't worry mom, told him I'd pay for it...still waiting for my total to come in though) and we continued to fish. Then Alexis and I were having a little competition that involved dangling our feet in the water, but when I went to stand up, my slippery, wet foot slipped and I rammed my shin into the safety bar and I could have sworn I broke my leg. Fo rills. (I didn't cry though, cause I know you were thinking that.) When the throbbing stopped approximately 3 minutes later and discovered I could walk (it's a miracle!) I felt a little stupid for assuming the worst (although I told no one I got hurt) and figured I'd at least have a sweet bruise to show for it. That night I told Sheryl about my misfortune and she gave me Arnica cream (that might be way off) that was supposed to reduce the bruising (I wasn't buying into it) but I put it on cause she was standing there watching me and I couldn't just say "No thanks, that's balogna" and guess what: NO BRUISE. I was disappointed, not gonna lie.

We caught a total of 13 snapper that day, this being the one HUGE one Jessica caught (the rest were all the size of the pictured above) so we brought him home after Kerry so gruesomly destroyed his brain while on the boat so cook him up. I was scared but he was delicious! (Alexis named him Chompers which made the execution and cooking/eating that much harder for us all) When we were taking these pictures Kerry gave us a tip to hold it as far away from you as possible to make it look huge, but he really was this big, I promise! While we were fishing Kerry kept saying there was no use for fish finders that day because the other boats could just listen for all the squealing we made each time someone caught a fish... it's probably true, we were pathetic, very obviously newbs.

I started my practicum on the following Monday in Ms. Khan/ Ms. Whitehouse's Year 1 and 2 class. Year 1 is like our kindergarten and 2 like first grade, so 5 and 6 year olds! The past two weeks have been good, but a little bit of an adjustment from American schools. We came here to learn about their teaching methods and were told to not take anything away from their discipline and it has been surprising to see why. Their system is basically yell until you've scared them. I simply can't do that, and my teachers have said things like "Your voice doesn't really carry" or "You have to have different tones: one for when you are nice and one so they know when they have crossed the line" or "Did they meet your expectation? No? Now blast at them" but from my experience in the American schools, a teacher can be even more effective when they use a soft, quiet voice, and it is possible to have a quiet, peaceful classroom. I'm still figuring out what to do, but I figure if I can keep them quiet enough to teach them something while keeping their dignity in tack, then I can do my own thing with discipline once I'm back home.

I was excited to get the youngest because the younger they are usually means the funnier they are. I've been writing down the funny things I hear, and realize that most of them are from the same couple people. I guess the others just need to share their insight with me more (maybe the others just aren't quite as creative with their thinking yet...) Here are some of my favorite things:

Sam starts playing with my arm hair and says: You don't have black feathers! (Unfortunately he was disrupting so I had to cut him off and didn't get to hear him elaborate)

Ms. W got something wrong when she was teaching and says: Well teachers don't know everything, ya know?
Selwyn: YES THE DO! (very emotionally)
Ms. W: No, they really don't.
Selwyn: YES. THEY. DO!

Levi: I had electric shock one day. On my foot.
Benjamin: Did you die?
Levi: No, it just hurt.

Levi: Did you know there are real baby dragonflies? There are. They breathe just a little bit of fire. I saw a real dragonfly that breathed heaps of fire at my friend's house. That's why I came to New Zealand. My friend's was in Australia.

Ms. W: Why is spider scared of bird?
Levi: Because he might eat his brains up!
moments later... Levi: Birds eat cats. (Very matter-of-fact-ly and kind of to himself.)

I read a book called When Henry had Imaginitis and I asked if anyone knew what "imagination" meant, Levi raised his hand, took a deep breath and said: Katie Perry once said, "If you live within your imagination, you will get everything you want."

Ms. W: So tonight when you're having a shower, think about if you gave this notice to mum and dad.
Selwyn: So do we have to have a shower?

We were discussing the Christchurch earthquake and Levi brought up the Australia floods: My cousin Jessie was on a plan to Australia when it was flooding.
Ms. K: Is she alright?
Levi: Yes, she's still on the plane.

Today I overheard a conversation between Levi, Kyara, and Ana at lunch about the Easter Bunny and God, but I could mostly just hear Levi's side of it...
Ana: You can't ever see the Easter Bunny, eh?
Levi: No, you can't. You have to stay asleep or God will come down and growl at you. You can't see God cause he's in the sky...(they must have carried on about God)... I saw a picture of God once, so that means he's real.

Imagine all of those in a New Zealand accent, with many more "eh?" added in. So great. Pictures of cute children to come soon.

I like this whole teacher thing, kids hand you stuff all day (and you take away distractions) and its sometimes fun to look down into your hands and realize what you've been holding for the past hour. At one point today it was a price tag, a huge pencil case covered in blue dragons, two broken pencils, a stack of papers, and a Barbie microphone.

Something I learned this week: kids will do ANYTHING for stickers. The shinier the better.

This age is also entertaining because they are so often in their own world, and hear what they want to hear. For example, we played heads down thumbs up yesterday and only two people had their thumbs squeezed each round, but without fail we had at least 5-7 kids stand up each round when we asked who's thumbs were squeezed.

I haven't stopped singing this song since I first heard it 11 days ago.

Last weekend we went to Point Chev beach on Friday (we get Fridays off, excellent set up) and just bummed on the beach literally all day. No pictures, so sorry.

On Saturday we spent the morning at Kodie's 2nd birthday party at a huge play place. That night we went into Auckland and went around the Chinese Lantern Festival (they've been celebrating the Chinese new year for like a month, it's not exactly NEW anymore, is it people?) There were lanterns galore (would have been cooler at night) and a whole street lined with food vendors. This was one of the best moments of my weekend:

Me: Are those oysters?
Heidi: No, I think muscles.
Together: So many muscles!

We thought it was funny :)

That night we went to our first rugby game. It was so much more exciting than anticipated! I expected it to be a lot like football, but it was so much more entertaining to watch because it's fast-paced, plays are much longer/ the clock doesn't stop, they have big fire shooters for when the home team scores, everyone is super into it, rugby players are FINE (dibs on the blues' kicker #10)
(or the entire cantebury crusaiders team), plus we were watching guys that play for the All Blacks! I decided that its a perfect mix of wrestling, soccer, and cheerleading because they do essentially wrestle, the movement around the field is more like a soccer-type of sport, and they throw one guy up in the air like a cheerleading stunt everytime a ball is thrown in bounds. I'd like to apologize for those sitting close to us for the group of loud and stupid American girls sitting by them who asked a question every time someone else touched the ball, or didn't touch the ball.

This is the first (and quite possibly only) time in my life that I would have a summer birthday! So my day started out great when I got to school and both my teacher and my teacher aid had brought me chocolate cakes, as well as a boquet of flowers! They are too sweet. I let the whole staff have at one of the cakes in the staff room during morning tea, so the entire thing was gone by the end which was good news for my hips. That night I went to dinner in another part of the city to an Indian resturant (I have had SO much Indian food since being here, it is fantastic!) and it was, of course, so good. At the end of the dinner they brought out a cake that Sheryl had made at her favorite little cake joint and they decorated it like a Reese's heart! So funny because Sheryl always makes it sound like I rave on and on about Reese's, so she stole one of mine and the guy did a SOLID job making it look exactly the same. She makes so much fun of us "American girls and their peanut butter" because I have gotten Reese's holiday shapes (one of the best candies known to man, duh. Second only to Reese's crispy crunchy bar.) in 3 out of 4 packages I have recieved here. Plus peanut butter m&m's. They don't have any Reese's here so I am so grateful to the love I have been shown through these packages.

Afterwards, Kerry took the kids home to bed and Sheryl and Raewyn (Sheryl's mom who lives here too) took Heidi and I to Mt. Eden which is the highest point in the city and you can see the whole city in every direction. It's best to go at night so you can see the lights. It is actually a volcano and it has a huge crater at the top, looks like an excellent sledding hill. The best part of this experience was listening to Sheryl and Raewyn carry on. They tease each other so much and they make each other laugh SO HARD that they're both crying and we can no longer understand a word they are saying. Sheryl (who I'd say is in her late 30's) even started driving away from the gas station as Raewyn came out from paying and was beside herself when we heard Raewyn yelling from outside. This picture is funky, but you get the idea :)

My birthday was made complete with a phone call to my mom and a surprise boquet of my favorite- sunflowers! From a secret admirer? Thanks to you, mystery man!

South Island Adventures!

I have been back for a week and a half and can finally update you on my life! So sorry these are long overdue! Let's just start from the beginning, shall we?

We left at 5:35 for our flight down to Queenstown and felt so famous as we exited the airplane (aeroplane here, what??) via stairs as we put on our shades and waved to everyone (who were all facing the terminal on their way off the plane... I still felt important). Even the land around the airport was beautiful with huge green mountains. This is where we met our buses that we would be spending so much of the next week in, and we just went into Queenstown to drop our stuff at the hostile before exploring. THE LAKE IS REAL. I can't emphasize that enough, cause I know that teal doesn't look like a color found in nature, but its real and just the most beautiful thing out there.
That afternoon Dr. Jacobs took us to the Shotover Jet which is a boat that can drive in super shallow water. The guys train for 8 hours a day for 3 months before taking passengers because they drive so fast and so close to the rocks. It was so fun, Janet and I couldn't stop laughing the whole time because we kept getting so scared! It was one of those times you are exhausted after a 20 minute ride because of smiling and laughing and screaming so much! I especially appreciated the Asian guy in front of us that was praising the Lord (with his hands and all) after every corner in very broken English :)
Then we drove on to Arrowtown which is just a cute little town with like two streets of shops, resturants, old-fashioned candy stores, etc. I bought some Jade there that I plan on setting into a ring someday (jade is all the rage here. Every shop specializes in jade, paua shells, and bone carving stuff and thats what they have tons of at all these markets we've been to).
Monday night we took a long drive through Glenorchy which is one of the places where Lord of the Rings was filmed, aka cool overgrown/ mossy forests and then beautiful mountain scenes. This was our first exposure to New Zealand's abundance of sheep! Jessica even got out and chased one down just to be able to touch it, very exciting. This picture was taken at our turn around point which was so pretty with the sun starting to set. It was a super bumpy ride along dirt roads for 2-3 hours but that made it just that much more fun!

In the morning we decided to discover more of Queenstown and went for a walk through the park/gardens (to be refered to from now on as "the gardens" if I ever refer to it again) where there is a decorative river (bigger than a stream, but not a full on river...) with fountains, cool trees, cool flower, and lots of walking paths. Then we took a little hike to Sunshine Bay through the woods (pictured here) (which is also where I did a headstand on a tree stump for those up to date on my facebook albums). One of my first hikes in my vans (Dr. J scared us into thinking he'd be strict about us packing lightly...which is why I repeated so many outfits, so sorry), but I felt just fine, they never let me down!
That afternoon we went to The Puzzling World which we were worried would be totally lame (why would you go to a museum when you are in the most beautiful place for outdoorsie stuff??) but it was much cooler than expected. Huge human maze which we never figured out after 50 minutes...I know I'm smart though, ok? On the way there we stopped at a huge fruit stand that was such a wonderful sight, so much fruit everywhere as well as real fruit ice cream, so we all loaded up on fruit for the week and we got to sample stuff like green plums! Odd how that was one of the more exciting parts of my day... don't make fun.

Basically every night we spent sitting along the wharf watching the sunset, sometimes eating gelato with street performers in the background and little jewlery vendors (got sweet bracelets) which was another one of my favorite things.

Big. Day.
On Monday we paid for all of our activities for the week, which is just about the only reason I went through with my bungy jump, cause I totally think I would have backed out if I had to decide that morning! I went with a girl from my group named Nicole, and I'm also glad I did that because after we get all harnessed and tied up around the angles, we penguin walk to the edge and the nice old man counts down from 5 and I knew we would be much more likely to get hurt if we didn't jump in sync (n*sync?) cause they told us you have to jump head first to keep your neck safe when you hit the bottom of the rope. I was oddly calm as they were tying us up, and I just really don't know what came over me cause it was surprisingly easy to jump! Maybe its because I had seen a couple girls go before me (someone did a spectacular pocahontas dive, very inspirational for future bungy jumpers) but we just went for it! It was crazy, and it was kinda nice knowing we weren't going to get dunked (a popular option) at the bottom cause otherwise I think I would have been focusing on closing my eyes and stuff, but this way I would just enjoy the view. Oh yeah, right before we went, a rainbow appeard directly in front of us and for some reason that made me feel so calm about it, plus the guys just told us to aim for the rainbow which was a fun thought. Anywho, I did it, check out my fb for more pictures. One I am keeping private (the postcard I sent you, Mom and Dad) shows the pure terror on my face mid-jump, I just think it looks goofy to be honest. It's probably the most accurate of my true feelings at the time though...

After that greatest feat of my life (really was a big feat. I had thought about putting it on my bucket list but decided against it because I thought I would never do it in a million years, so might as well not put something on that I won't be able to check off. I have since put it back on with a large check next to it.) we thought we were the coolest/bravest/most dare-devilish people on the planet, so we thought the world's largest swing would be a piece of cake. But then we got to the bridge you walk to get out to the launching was super long, narrow, 140m high, and swayed in the wind so much that we had to hold on for dear life every step of the way! The platform is also just suspended on cables between two mountains anyway so it swayed the whole time. We saw this other guy go first and then got even more scared because we hadn't realized you have a huge freefall before the cord is pulled taught! Luckily on this one the machine lets you go so you don't have to take the initiative to jump. The lady hooking us up was taunting us the entire time being like "wow, we're super high, huh?" and stupid stuff, but that made it even more fun as we got even more scared! It was so fun though, even longer free fall than our bungy, but then you are just swinging so high, and I rode with Whitney so it was fun to just scream our lungs out. A great bonus? 3 words: Free. Trucker. Hats. It was legit. Also the van ride up there was crazy cause the driver even told us to all move to one side of the van at one point going around a curve on the edge of a cliff.
Needless to say we had to go home and take a nap cause our heads were hurting from so much adrenaline in one day. Such a great day though!

That afternoon we went up the mountain in a Gondola to ride the luge (little carts on these big tracks going down the mountain, then you ride up a ski lift and go again) and this picture is from up there by the tracks. These were some of our prettiest views of Queenstown itself and the lake.

We took a boat ride around Milford Sound which is a huge fjord. This is where Avatar was filmed and it was amazing! Tons of waterfalls (especially the day we went cause it rained. Rain is good for some things, see? Plus, rain meant we had to buy PONCHOS which is another thing that makes things more exciting) and spooky clouds that make it look mysterious. There were dolphins and seals, and none of those flying things from Avatar as far as I could see. While there we went out to this underwater observatory thing that was just built in the water in the Sound, so you see fish swim by and stuff. I loved the sound!

Lord of the Rings horseback riding! It was so fun! We were out in similar scenes to Glenorchy from the first day, but you could picture it in the movie more. We rode through the woods and in the valley as a lady spit out fun facts about the filming of the movies and stuff. She told us whose horses had been in which movies, my Joey was in Narnia Prince Caspian! He was an old grump, but I was proud of him none the less. He tried to eat my friend's horse one time, so we were sent to the back of the line (classic discipline tactic for elementary students btw) and then I was kinda nervous he'd freak out again, but he was good, and he was a great listener, cause I did most of the talking ;) That afternoon we "went for a pleasant walk" and ended up hiking straight up this mountain which was really fun. It was a good chance for me to get to know some of the other girls who I hadn't spent a ton of time with yet, so I really enjoyed it. That night we celebrated Nicole's birthday eating at the most popular place in town, Ferburger and just sucking the last bit we could out of Queenstown before we left in the morning.

We drove 7 hours from Queenstown to Christchurch, went to a couple big markets, ate kebabs for the first time, and went to a Waitangi Day celebration. Waitangi Day is the day the British and the Maori's signed a treaty, so the celebration was very 4th of July-esque. Super random stuff happening with different performers, but very entertaining to say the least. Plus fireworks at the end, so it just really felt like summer!

Church. VERY interesting Relief Society discussion that had us all very uncomfortable cause the teacher (aka president I think) said she disagreed with one of our girls' comments that we had been so thankful she brought up. Long story short it was about questioning the preisthood, and these ladies seem to have been trained to not trust a thing the priesthood says. We could see what they were saying, but they were just acting very extreme about things. We're over it though :)
We spent the afternoon driving around the mountains and beaches, not much to say that hasn't already been said, beautiful. (I need a synonym for beautiful...)We went to another museum that afternoon (I'm officially museumed out for at least 6 months).

We drove to the beach but it rained all day, so we spent time in shops and such. Wanted to buy everything. Bought some postcards. So proud.

Beach: take two. We spent the entire day at this beach! I finished the Giver (again... love it), make this sand fortress with our BARE HANDS, walked along the pier, ran around in the freezing/ low tide water with Janet for a little work out (they said the water was polluted, so let me know if you notice any extra arms growing...), watched a sand artist do crazy stuff, held a crab, and played games with James (our driver) like crazy bones and battle of the sexes (there were two old men and 16 byu girls, great game). In the evenings in Christchurch we made dinner in our hotel cause we had little kitchens, and then rented movies from the hotel and had big movie nights. Great fun :)

Exploring Christchurch. Cathedral, the square, little fudge shops and stuff in an oxford-looking town, and the botanical gardens! Loved it! You could spend literally an entire day there, we didn't cover nearly all of it before we had to leave for the airport. Here I am with Begonias in the Begonia house! We had a photography contest (with Whitney and Janet), a picnic, and just tooks a million pictures.
On our way to the airport we ate at Dennys (classy. better than in the states though) and everyone was so excited to eat KETCHUP haha everyone was getting excited to write in their journals about it.
Then we flew home! (we decided home refers to Auckland, home home is Provo, and home home home is our hometowns).

Now get up to take a lap and stretch, you'll need it after reading this entire blog entry! It was such a great trip! Keeping 16 girls together for 10 days straight got a little intense at times, but it was worth it and we bonded. Soon I'll update you on what has happened since our trip cause we started school this week!!