It’s been a fun but quiet week here, which is very much like normal life – I’ll take it! Here’s what’s been going on, in no particular order…
- Year 7 Social. Gracie’s school is having a Year 7 “Social” with St. Peter’s College (a local boys school) where they will dance. So basically she’s going to a dance. It’s her first one – and we were not expecting it to happen while we were in New Zealand! But it’s happening on Friday night, and a friend from school has invited her to get ready at her house. I guess there’s a group of them who will be getting ready together, and then they can walk into the Social with some solid girl-power fortification. We went shopping for something to wear on Saturday and originally she was looking for a dress, but then saw something which took it in a very different direction. I’ll post pictures next week afterwards, but let’s just say I feel like she’s kind of channeling Madonna circa 1985 in Desperately Seeking Susan… but she looks cute and loves what she got, so there you go.
- The Professor met a data god. As you may or may not know, The Professor is into data. He’s got a t-shirt that says “Serious Analytics. Serious Fun.” Dude’s a data nerd – he loves it. Turns out – and hold on to your pocket protectors for this juicy bit of news – one of the founding fathers of data analytics is right here at the University of Auckland. Seriously, y’all – HE’S RIGHT HERE! And The Professor got to have coffee with him! It’s been a long time since I’ve seen The Professor that excited about anything. And thank goodness he caught up with him – this icon, this man who is larger than life in the world of data analytics, is getting ready to retire from academia, move north and become a sheep farmer. Mmmhmm. You read that right. Leaving this life to become a sheep farmer. Every word in this paragraph is true. Makes me laugh.
- RUGBY. We got tickets to the New Zealand All Blacks rugby match against the South Africa Springboks, which is part of the Super Rugby Championship. I don’t fully understand all of the different rugby leagues, but I DO know that the All Blacks are the real deal and I cannot wait to see this match. We watched part of the match this past weekend against Australia (All Blacks won!) and even the girls seem a little excited about it. Tate’s learning Maori at school and knows part of a haka (the traditional war dance the All Blacks do before each match), so I think she’s probably more intrigued than Gracie. I guess if I can’t be home for college football, All Blacks rugby is the next best thing.
- New friends. At least I’m calling them friends – much like a six-year-old girl calls anyone she knows a friend… A colleague of The Professor’s at USC met a professor from here while they were cycling through the Alps. As you do. So she put Mark and Simon in touch, and Simon and his lovely wife Ngaire (pronounced Nye-ree, it’s a Maori name) invited us for dinner Saturday. It was epic! So much fun. Simon loves to cook, so his gorgeous meal of roasted lamb, Imam Bayildi (a roasted eggplant dish that was amazing), mashed potatoes, homemade bread (he spent a lot of time in France so *seriously* knows how to make bread), was unbelievable. They were very sweet to think of the girls as well, so had Hokey Pokey Ice Cream (like the brittle portion of peanut brittle mixed in with vanilla ice cream), Jaffas (a typical kiwi candy), and Ngaire made some sort of delicious cake. Also, there was champagne to start, then wine, then more wine, then port, and beer for The Professor. Capped off by watching the beginning of the rugby match! But then it was after 10, so we had to get the girls home. They are so funny and so warm and so interesting – it was just the best night. And I don’t even think I’m only saying that because I’m starved for company outside of the Fergutodds. It was really great.
- Kiwis – the birds. Sunday, we hopped over to the Auckland Zoo to check it out. We took the bus to MOTAT (the Museum of Transportation and Technology), then hopped an old-timey tram to get to the zoo. Pretty typical zoo – zebras, giraffes, elephants, emus. BUT – this zoo also has kiwis, the native, flightless bird that’s nearly impossible to find in the wild. They are nocturnal, so in typical human manipulative intervention, they turn the lights on during the night and off during the day. It’s nearly black in the house, and the kiwis are ACTIVE. One of them was running back and forth, across the whole of the enclosure. Because it’s so dark, it’s really hard to capture them on film. Or at least on my iPhone camera. Here’s the best I could do.
And also some more pictures from the zoo. Tate historically lurrrrrves the meerkats, and the exhibit here has tunnels under the enclosure with glass pop-up viewing stations, so you’re right in the middle of them. Girls spent a LOT of time in those.
And here’s a great shot of them – well, Gracie – annoyed at the bus stop, just because that’s always fun to see.
- Solar eclipse. Or as many people in Columbia referred to it, the apoceclipse. This morning, our sweet hometown was in The Path of Totality, so went completely dark during the eclipse. The Professor and I got up early to livestream it, and it was really cool – and totally crazy – to see. And also cool was that at the same time, the sun was rising here on Tuesday morning. I don’t know how it all happened (aside from Science!), but it did. Our sunrise this morning wasn’t the most spectacular we’ve seen, but knowing what was happening at home at the same time was a little trippy, I’m not gonna lie.
And that’s what’s been going on here. Big weekend ahead, so excited for that. Will keep you posted.