I feel like I should apologize if these posts are boring or too frequent. I’m looking at this blog as a way to memorialize and document our adventure, but I realize it may be more detail and minutiae than you’re looking for… just want you to know that I’m aware it may be too much. Anyways –
The most exciting to happen to us recently is that Hannah arrived! Hannah’s our babysitter from Columbia, who graduated USC in December and was looking for an adventure before her ‘real’ life – with all of its responsibilities – began in earnest. She was, I think, considering Thailand, but then I told her Mark’s sabbatical was approved and we were heading this way. And she decided to come back to NZ, too! She’d done an internship here two years ago, loved the country, and thankfully decided this would be adventure enough. So she arrived on Thursday and it’s FUN having her here. Though sometimes she and I look at each other and find it all kinds of trippy that we’re all in Auckland. She’s staying with us until the weekend when she can move into her flat. Mark and I are really happy there’s someone we love and trust nearby so we can still do some stuff just the two of us. And the girls are THRILLED their beloved Hannah is here with them. Last night while I was making dinner, she was reviewing the finer points of Poker with them. I think the most important thing the girls took away from the lesson was, “If you ain’t cheatin, you ain’t tryin!” So thanks for that, Hannah.
She arrived Thursday evening and on Saturday, we met up with her and a new friend at the Wynyard Quarter’s 6th birthday party. The Wynyard Quarter is a fun part of town down by the Harbour with a lot of cool restaurants and bars. It was basically a festival with a food truck rodeo, things for the kids, and a free showing of Moana in the afternoon. The girls opted out of the movie, so we all went to what used to be Mark’s favorite bar in town. They don’t have a great selection of his wheat beers, so it lost its ranking, but it’s got a cool vibe and was a fun way to pass some time. Here’s a view from our walk to and from the Harbour.
Hannah and Ryan had dinner with us Saturday night and after dinner, we sat around and played cards for hours. Hannah’s used to us and considers us family, but poor Ryan – his first Saturday night in Auckland and he got stuck playing cards with a family. He was a great sport about it, though, and is our newest ‘adopted’ kid.
Sunday morning, Tate’s school celebrated their quarterly Mass at a local church. It was our first time to Mass since we’ve been here and it was a really sweet experience. Churches are different here – for example, many don’t have musicians, so there’s a soundtrack or recording of the songs. And they put the words to both songs and prayers in PowerPoint projected on the wall. We spoke with the man in charge of Altar Servers afterwards and that is also really different. Our church at home has a VERY formalized program and there are probably a minimum of 10 servers at each Mass. This church had two. The man we talked to basically just told Gracie to show up a couple minutes early, let him know she’s there and she can serve. Seemed a little too disorganized to me, so I asked if she should observe for a Mass or two and he was like, “Eh, no. She’ll catch on.” So. We’ll see how that goes.
Later that day, we went to The. Best. Park. EVER. I don’t know if you can really tell from these pictures, but it’s pretty amazing. The picture on the left is Tate flying through the air on the Flying Fox. It’s like a zip line, except with no harness. So that’s a great idea for kids, right?! You can either sit or stand on this little, teeny tiny platform and then you go flying down this line. You hit a stopper and the platform swings waaaaaaay out, so you better be holding on tight. I tried to upload a video of it, but apparently my blog package doesn’t support video, so I’ll post it on Facebook. It was crazy. And thankfully nobody fell off. The girls must have ridden this thing 30+ times. Once you’re done, you’ve got to run it back up the hill – Mark and I were both wishing they had FitBits or a pedometer on them, because they got a LOT of steps that day running that thing back up the hill – plus the mile walk to and from the park. And the slides! The long red one all the way to the right was crazy high. Reminded me of ‘parking’ at Candler Park and Lake Claire Park with the playgroup when the girls were little and we had to watch them every minute. Times have sure changed.
Stopped by a very cool gastropub called The Cav on the way home and the whole family shared a platter of sliders (love that the girls are OK at real restaurants now so Mark and I can actually enjoy ourselves, too). We sat there, warmed up, watched the rugby, and Mark and I talked about how last year, we passed this very pub while we were walking up to the neighborhood we now live in and really didn’t know if we’d ever get to make it a reality.
But here we are, so that’s pretty cool.