Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Disclaimer: so sorry, I was in a big rush but things weren't going well, so sorry about the funny spacing, etc, it looks very different on the posting page...
Rotorua: (wrote-oh-rue-uhhh) n. pretty New Zealand town that smells oddly similar to rotten eggs due to the sulfur in the air from the abounding local geysers. (bahhhh why is that underlined and colored?)I was a little nervous about the trip beforehand becauseanytime we told people where we were going they scrunched up their noses and said, “Rotten-rua, eh?” Yes, it did smell, but now, it wasn’t nearly as bad as we had anticipated!

Our first stop was at the temple in Hamilton. It was our first time doing baptism in 3 months! Loved the sweet old temple workers as always, loved the strong islander accents that made the words of the ordinances undecipherable, and loved our first temple cafeteria experience! Afterwards we watched a movie at the visitor’s center about Matthew Cowley who was a missionary, then mission president, then GA in New Zealand.

We started our morning right on Saturday with a trip to the Sheep show where we got to see and pet tons of sheep, see a sheep sheered, and some lucky volunteers even got to milk a cow or bottle-feed a baby lamb! I bought some wool yarn so I’d have something wool to take home, so start thinking of what we can make with it mama!

That afternoon we went Zorbing. What’s Zorbing, you ask? Well, Zorbing is when you get a running start to dive headfirst into a human-sized hamster ball of colored water only to start rolling down a hill. At this point you just giggle and scream as you slowly become more and more disoriented and tangled up with the other two people in your ball. We plan on bringing it to Provo and making bank in the near future.

We had to wait in line for showers when we got back, but we were freezing so we waited in the natural hot spring pool in the backyard of the home we stayed at (just with some members, friends of James), and it was soooo hot, like that steam is from the water, not our bodies.

On Sunday we went to church (again couldn’t understand a word of the islander accents) then drove to Taupo (like the beginning of towel, tow-poe) to walk around a pretty lake.

Monday started with lots of Maori culture at Te Puia (tay poy-uhhhh) where we had our second Powheri (everything is starting to click now that I’ve seen it a couple of times), got a tour of the geysers, wood carvings, and flax weaving, and learned all about Ta Moko, or the Maori tattoos which are actually so much more legit now that I know what they mean.

We spent a good amount of time imitating the tiki man faces and taking pictures; here is one of my best J We learned they are usually sticking their bellies out because its supposed to look like the haka stance, so its supposed to look ferocious.

That afternoon we walked around the town and rode paddle boats around a lake! We ate dinner at a dinner theater run by our hosts and it was just very funny (they took the story of a nearby town that was buried under lava when the volcanoe exploded in the 1800s and turned it into a comedy)!

Ready to hear about the coolest thing I’ve done so far in New Zealand? Ok: Glowworm caves. We went black water rafting down in these caves that have glowworms covering their ceilings like stars. We were dressed in wetsuits, boots, and helmets complete with head lamps (first wetsuit experience, successfully completed the journey without peeing in it as we had had to promise our guides)!

It was so cool as we jumped down waterfalls (butt sticking through inner tube, then jump backwards), hiked around the rocks, and even held onto each others feet in the dark while being pulled around by our guides. At that point they said the acoustics were fantastic, so we sang a Maori song for them that we learned for our first Powheri a couple weeks ago. That minute ranks in the top 5 best minutes of my life!

We got home last night from that trip, and we leave tomorrow morning for the next trip, so today we went hiking in the Waitakere Ranges with Angela (the mom of the family that has us over for FHE), which is one of the last things we had wanted to do in Auckland! It was so pretty with the tropical foliage, Heidi even spotted a real live koru, aka the symbol of NZ that we have never actually seen before!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Teach Children: Check.

On Tuesday, I officially finished all of my assignments for the semester, and today was the last day of my practicum (being in the schools) so my semester is completely finished! I still won't be home for just under 4 weeks though, cause I have a lot of the world to see before I'm done over here. Starting tomorrow morning we will leave for Hamilton and Rotarua, then I will be home for a day, gone for another week, home for two days, then off to Australia, then off to Samoa, so don't be offended if I don't respond for a couple of days because I don't know where I'll have internet and where I won't! At the very least, I'll be home in 4 weeks and we can chat then :)First of all, can't ever get enough of these sunsets. That's basically all. Except the sky looked SO much cooler apprx 3 minutes before this- it goes too fast!

Monday started out fun a super chill day at school, then we had FHE plans that night! We went to the Olsen's house for dinner and FHE as we did a couple of weeks ago, and we just love it there! They have six kids ages 3-15 and the parents are the sweetest and most welcoming people. We have been so lucky to have them in our ward here. This is the five year old, Vanz who is clearly a ladies' man.

On Tuesday I spent lunch learning how to haka with some of the boys in my class. I had asked them a while ago if they know how to do it and all assured me they were pros, but I may or may not have forgotten that at age 6, kids still think they are really good at everything even when they could use a little more practice. Needless to say Kapa (far right) went home that night and learned it for real so he could re-teach me before I left :)

Today was a GREAT last day! We had a little field trip to a nearby park for a rubbish clean-up which we walked to, cleaned up, played on the playground, and walked back from. The rest of the day was just playing and swimming, but with so much lovin in between! The staff had a surprise lunch planned for us of tasty finger foods, my kids made me a HUGE card (which they all signed but all within the same 3" square, most were spelled right so that's a plus), I got lots of hugs (which I later found out is not really supposed to happen as a teacher, my bad), lots of "I'll miss you miss..." with all variations of Goode at the end (such as Cood, Google, Goose, Coo), but the best were the "I love you"'s from the little terrors in my class that I send to "the blue desk" several times a day! Seriously, little Chance who used to be so bad, and still is for most except for me, made it all worth it when he sheepishly came to play with me and just kept saying "I'm gonna miss you, misses" under his breath. I love this job.

We had lots of time this afternoon to just play and have fun, and of course refine our haka. Farewell Room 21!

Some highlights from the past couple weeks:

Deb: Rrrrr, what letter says rrrr?
Selwyn: Tiger!

Levi was telling me to say hi to his dad when I go to Samoa: Go to the bank, cause he's stuck in a cage at the bank because he stole a bunch of money. His name is Rio....(some super long name) (sad, but just funny how he said it)

Ms. W: What does fantastic mean?
Levi: Good-As?
The next 3 answers were -as answers.

Mrs. Hobson: Why doesn't he want Monkey to steal his shoes?
Bailey: Cause he doesn't want monkey toe jams in it!

Some of my students asked Jessica (Miss Bringhurst) what her name was, but they couldn't say it, so they asked: Can we just call you Miss Goode?

Norhan: Sometimes you can't even walk because there is so much poop everywhere.
Me: Where? (She had told me yesterday that Ana had pooped in the bathroom so I thought she was referring to that or something)
Norhan: In Thailand. (She has told me everyday for the past 6 weeks about her trip to Thailand that has been in 14 or 17 days every day since I arrived. Usually its about the high-heels for kids or the beautiful dresses or the swimming pool from which you can see all of Thailand, so this was a first)

Levi came rushing out of the changing room, shirtless as usual, and told Jess and me that Paerata had thrown someone's underwear over the wall into the girls changing room, so we told him we'd go get it and he said: It's black, and really dirty!
(Sick, you go get it then!)

I have never been asked so many times in one week (let alone one day) when I'm going home to Australia. I think it's cause Levi likes to ask me how things are back in Australia and it has kind of gotten stuck in everyone's head. Finally yesterday I stopped the class and reminded them I'm from America, not Australia so today when Levi said something about me and Australia, I said, "Where am I from again?" and he immediately said somewhere he's not making the connection.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

They Call It Work?

School was great this week! I had some major break-throughs with my kids discipline-wise cause I’ve refused to yell at them and in my 5th week I finally started seeing positive results! Here is most of our wonderful Room 21, aren’t they a handsome bunch? FYI I was crouching down, I am in actuality significantly taller than 5 and 6 year olds, I just wanted to fit in, ok?

It was a particularly fun week because we had some fun with the kids outside of the classroom. On Tuesday we had a teacher vs students (seniors only) softball game during morning tea, which was legit! It was so fun with all of the younger kids watching and cheering us on, and my cool level sky-rocketed with the boys in my class once they saw me with a big hit (even though it was caught so I got out). Plus, who doesn’t love a reason for a casual Tuesday.

On Wednesday we got to go with the swim team (11 kids yrs 6-8) to an away meet to be timers, and that’s basically what we did all day was time but it was a lot of fun getting to hang out with the older kids cause they think we’re the coolest (don’t tell them our secret about how we’re actually not). It was also nice to have a whole day off but still get to spend it with kiddies.

Friday was a cruzy day of swimming, walks, homework, grape vine trimming, Christchurch earthquake memorial service on TV, and a sleepover with all the girls that night. These grapes are SO good, despite the seeds.

We went to the skytower for lunch on Saturday! It was so much more exciting than I had expected- first of all the view is, naturally, amazing, but then we had lunch in a revolving resturant with 4 courses at $55 a person and we were all dressed up so we felt quite fancy! We loved the revolving feature: there was a little ledge on the outside of the ring that stayed still so we would put notes or different things on it (or just stand) and wait for it to reach the table behind us, so it was an eventful 3 hour meal. Here I am with Diana, Katie, and Rebecca J After all that food we went and took a nap on a beach in town.

We went to a rugby game and guess who was there! Alyssa Isidoridy! Alyssa lived directly across the street from me all through elementary and middle school, and I hadn’t seen her since high school, but she is here on a study abroad too! We noticed each other’s New Zealand pictures on facebook so we switched numbers and decided to meet up at the game. It was so fun catching up and talking about making grilled cheese on snow days!

The Lord’s took us to Yum Cha (pronounced Yum Chow, oddly enough, which is coincidentally a very appropriate name for it as well) which is a type of Chinese restaurant where they bring the food around on trolleys and you say “yes please” and they mark it on your ticket and everyone just dives in and is eating so fast (except for me, those darn chop sticks got so sticky cause I kept having to compensate with my hands, but then grab my chop sticks again, snowball effect). What’s that you ask? Are you eating French fries? Why no, that’s actually a chicken foot. What’s that? Was it tasty? Why no, it reminded me too much of a cold, clammy, bony, wrinkly finger marinated in one of the Asian sauces that I dislike. But how exotic am I? Check a chicken’s foot off of my list of foods to try- done and done.

Here we are after eating with the whole family! From left to right: Raewyn (Sheryl’s mom who lives in an attached house, she watches the kids all day), Heidi, me, Sheryl, Alexis, Kodie, and Kerry. Love them!

Friday, March 11, 2011

On an Island in the Sun...

This week was the Pasifika festival in Auckland where there were lots of shows, food, souvenirs, etc, so Thursday night we went to the festival opener which had just one stage open that showcased one dance/song from each of the islands represented at the festival.

Because we are at the mercy of the bus schedule for our arrivals, we got there an hour early but found it very easy to kill time in the beautiful Western Springs park. There were REAL LIVE PUKEKOS which I was holding at about a unicorn level up to this point because we hadn't seen any, but at this park the pukekos were just out amongst the ducks, geese, black swan things (freaky red eyes, I feel like they were an omen, waiting for something bad to happen now), and pigeons. Let me just tell you, they are so funny because they have such long skinny legs that remind me of an awkward teenager. The Pukeko in a Ponga tree is real, my friends.

That mountain that is right behind my head (excellent placement) is the volcanoon Rangitoto Island that Heidi and I hiked on Friday. Before going Raewyn told me it was a "new" volcanoe, "it just erupted 900 years ago" so I was a little bummed we weren't going to see any bubbling lava, but maybe a little more relaxed knowing I was going to make it home that night. We took a ferry from the city to get there and we realized that we had officially taken every mode of transportation we could so far on this trip: airplanes, cars, buses, feet, a train, and now a boat. Did I miss any? We thought that wasexciting.

Here we are at the top, overlooking Auckland! It's kind of hard to see, cause the skytower is directly behind my head (again, grateful to those who took our picture for us, but we kinda missed the point here) and cause its a very flat and sprawling city, but there she is!

Today we went to see more of the Pasifika festival. They had all of the different islands set up a stage and lots of tents with vendors for food and cool things to buy in different parts of the park. Here I am watching the Kiribati dancers, whom I had never even heard of before. Along with Kiribati the islands represented were Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Tuvalu, Tahiti, Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau, and Tangata (Maori/Aotearoa fits in there somewhere too). Very cool to see the little differences in each culture. We are now working on our hula-ish/ grass skirt dancing in front of our mirror so we're pros by the time we go home:)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Vacation From My Vacation

I was talking to my friend, Nancy, the other day and she pointed out that all of our little trips we take are basically vacations from our vacation. That's when I decided that I love my life :)

Here are some of my cute kids!

Selwyn and Benjamin: Selwyn is not the best behaved but I have the hardest time saying no to those dimples. You can hardly understand a word he says because of some sort of speech impediment or something (it's almost like he mumbles to an extreme) so he does plenty of talking with his eyebrows! Benjamin had head trauma (that's what they refer to it as) when he was younger so he is in our class but there is a teacher aid glued to his side all day, even while playing outside. I wish he was showing his teeth because he is so cute without his two front teeth!

Our school has Swimming Sports this week, aka a school wide swim meet which was so exciting! The kids have swimming 3 times a week (I get in with them, so fun!) and we work on things like blowing bubbles and using kick boards, so they just did short races against kids their age such as "running" in the water for a short distance. So fun! From front to back of the line: Sam, Selwyn, someone not in my class, and Chance (Chance is the one white boy in my class whose entire name I can say). The girl with the long braid on the side is Alexis who I live with- check out that hair!

Some of the Room 21 girls before their big race! From front to back of the line again: Faith (as opposed to another girl who used to be in our class Phayth, pronounced the same), Alondra, Italy ("like the country"), Mariayah, Ana, and Kyara.

This is the most quoted LEVI that I have blogged so much about. He is the youngest in my class (started school last October, everyone starts on their 5th birthday) and he is just so funny. Here he wouldn't smile because he was distraught over his lost shirt after swimming sports. We never did find it, eh.

Some more "Why I Teach..." moments (I realize they're probably more entertaining to me cause you may have needed to be there/ hear their accent/ know them so feel free to skip over this part):

Ana brings in a pterodactyl for show and tell and talks all about it with some impressive facts, and said they lived "ages and ages ago, like real old" then Levi chimed in: Ummmm they were actually around in the 80's, not the 50's. (Mind you she hadn't mentioned anything about the 50's but I'm glad to see you've got your thinking cap on, Levi)

We were talking about what we wanted to be when we grew up and last time we talked about it Ana told me she was going to be an "acrobatic" (not acrobat, they corrected me) but this time: I'm going to be a really famous artist when I'm a grown up. I'm already kind of a famous artist because I have drawn heaps of beautiful pictures. I'm also a famous dancer right now.

Alondra showed the class a picture from when she was little and Mariayah asked: when were you little?
Hey, at least it was a question instead of a statement this time, right Mariayah? (they are learning the difference between questions and statements at the moment)

Me: We're going to sing now. You're a pretty good singer, right? (He had explained before how good he was and that he would be famous one day)
Levi: Yeah, I'm a GOOD-AS singer! I'll sing anything you want right now. What should I sing? (in a very bring-it type of tone) (they add AS to everything, not the a-word as I thought when I first got here, sweet-as, good-as, cool-as, big-as...)

Benjamin: Good morning Room 21.
Class: Good morning Benjamin (standard procedure for oral language practice/ show and tell)
Benjamin: This is my hankie. You go like this **blows his nose**
I thought it was very informative.

This weekend we went away to Hot Water Beach on the Coromandel Penninsula. We rented some beach houses and stayed Thursday and Friday night. We sat on the deck watching the waves, star gazed, watched the sunrise, and played on the beach!

So this place is bizarre. On this one spot on the beach, you wait for the tide to go out and dig holes to make little hot tubs! The water that comes up is super hot, we even had to bring in buckets from the ocean at some spots cause it was too hot. It has something to do with volcanoes and carbon dioxide or something, but it is the strangest/ coolest thing! Nancy and I were holding down our spot while we waiting for the tide to go out- this spot was so hot that we were basically dancing the whole time so as not to burn our feet!

We were the only people on the beach all morning, but it looked like this for a good 4 hours, then every desserted once the tide came back in. The advice we were given before finding a spot to dig was "Be aggressive!" because the people are so crazy :)

On Saturday we went by Cathedral Cove on the way home which is another Narnia filming spot that is beautiful. Unfortunately we couldn't actually go down to the cove because of the rainy season, but we went down some crazy muddy paths (slid down is probably more accurate) and climb around rocks to get a good view from outside of the cove. The pictures are on another camera so stayed tuned for those on facebook later or something. Here I am with Neeley and Whitney heading down to the cove!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Everybody's Working for the Weekend

Although school is fun (what's not to love about 1st grade??) the weekends are where we really get to explore and experience New Zealand! This past weekend was particularly packed with fun stuff and minimal lesson planning.

On Friday, Heidi and I went on a Coast-to-Coast city walk where we basically followed a map that took us walking all over Auckland to hit a lot of the big sites and see many hidden treasures along the way. We started on the northern coast and walked down to the southern coast as we walked around the University of Auckland (found mini- Brigham Square, felt so at home), through the "Auckland Domain" aka huge park in Auckland that hosts many a cricket game and romantic picnic, up Mt. Eden so we got to see it in daylight (also where we met a fellow traveler, Leon from London who disagreed with us many times about which way would get us to the top and later to the bottom of the hill, fun to talk to though), through many city streets which we took note of for a future evening out on the town, around and up One Tree Hill (which is currently No Tree Hill, cause they can't agree on what kind of tree to you go with a monument instead? Ok, do it your way), and finally to the other coast (although you never quite make it to the coast coast, cause there is a motorway in the way)! We walked 16 km (give or take, may or may not have needed help with the map TWICE) in 5 hours.

Here I am with the monument on One Tree Hill. Look familiar? I sure hope you got permission from Washington for this one. I thought it was appropriate that I was wearing my VA shirt and visiting the mini Washington Monument :) (yes, I do know the monument is in DC, don't worry, I got it).

We went to Piha beach with the entire group on Saturday. It is one of the more popular beaches around Auckland. James showed us around, taking us climbing around the rocks to get to this HUGE cove, called Honeymoon Cove that was absolutely beautiful and like nothing I've seen before. I don't really know how to describe it other than big sandy area with cliffs on 3 sides and big rocks on the 4th side that water crashes against for a very theatrical feel. This is Rebecca and me on the rocks right at the mouth of the cove (not getting too close to the edge, duh).

As we were leaving the cove, going back to the main part of the beach, we walked up along a mountain/cliff this where there were good views of Piha. That big rock is called Lion rock and it is just right in the middle of the beach area. Here I am with Hannah, Janet, and Whitney!

Next, James took us to another beach down the road at Karekare where we had to walk along a river (or wade, but that was risky business with cameras in tow) to get to the beach. I should tell you that at both of these beaches are west coast beaches which means they have black sand (don't forget your jandals aka flip flops) and they have really rough waves. There are huge rescue crews on watch at all times with a huge canopy set up on the beach and they set up flags everyday marking where it is safe to swim. The rescue at Piha even has a show on TV on Monday nights called Piha Rescue, and people die there all the time. Needless to say, we didn't exactly swim all that much during our visit.

From the beach at Karekare we took a ten minute walk and arrived at these waterfalls! How cool? Beach one minute, and the next you're "tramping" (nothing to do with trampolines or promiscuous women, it means hiking) or "bush walking" through a tropical forest! I hadn't gotten in the water all day up to this point, but I just couldn't resist.

That night we had a little combined birthday party for the three of us who turned 21 this month because 21 is traditionally a big deal in New Zealand (fading fast, apparently). On this birthday, people are given a key to the house, showing they are finally old/ responsible enough to come and go as they please, so we got big paper keys that everyone signed. This was our cake-- almost as wide as the three of us combined! Here, the birthday-er makes their wish as they make the first cut into the cake, not when they blow out the candles. Also, at this party (but not at the one's we've had with our family) we blew out the candles before everyone sang. Everyone does a little Hip Hip Hooray after they sing too.