Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thoughts from the kitchen

Usually while I am preparing dinner the kids wander in and out, chat a little, play a little, etc.

This is tonight's happenings..........

Noah is shooting his hockey puck around the floor and I ask, "Are you practicing your stick handling?" Noah's reply, "No, I am playing hockey cause that is like......normal".

Noah shoots the puck and says "Yes!  A goal!  I win!" Caleb then chimes in, "Yes!  A goal!  I lose!"

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Case of The Catch-ups Part Deux

Back to where we left off.........

Saturday was here, the day of the Whenupai Air Show, on none other than March 21 (March 20 in the US), my birthday.  It was an early morning, and because NZ is so laid back there is NO WHERE open to get coffee at 5am.  Well, except one place.  The place I loathe, yet had no choice if I really wanted coffee, we stopped at McDonald's.  We purchase the cappuccino's and latte's at the McCafe and were on our way.  Oh, corner cafe how I wanted YOUR awesome cappuccino.  A little tip, if you are in NZ beware of the Long Black coffee.  This is what you get if you just order coffee, black.  I normally drink black coffee, and I don't mind it strong.  I like European's in the fact they like coffee, strong, and thick.  Well, this Long Black knocked my socks OFF!  WHEW!  I had to break down and add a little water to this stuff.  So, Auckland holds the "strongest coffee I have ever tasted" title.  The air base is VERY small, but we were in wide-eye shock when we drive up at 530am and there is a line to get on base.  This surprised us so because the gates did not open to the general public until 9am!  These were all military personnel trying to get on base.  It was gonna be a busy day. After watching some of the pilots (Meghan, Todd, and Brett) play teeter totter on the plane's tow bar, I assigned myself a job.  See, the squadron sent along t-shirts, glasses, pins, coins, etc for us to sell at the airshow.  So, I volunteered to man the table.  It gave me something to do while everyone else was busy working the crowd and minding the jet.  One pilot, Meghan, became our "super-stahhhh" (Molly Shannon style!).  It was Women's History Month in NZ and so she was interviewed by the local news and given mad props for being a female pilot.  The entire day of the airshow, folks would ask, "Could you tell me where the female pilot is?"  She was signing autographs, posing for pics, and was looked upon all day with eyes of wonder!  So, of course much heckling ensued.  Thanks for enduring!!  The plane was PACKED - all day long!  Everyone wanted a turn in the cockpit. So much so, they were waiting 2+ hours in line just to sneek a peek.  This only got worse after Kevin flew the demo of the C-17.  He totally rocked it in the air and everyone was totally amazed.  The entire crowd kept their eyes pegged on the plane even after it had landed and other planes and helicopters were doing their demo's.  The crowd was like, "WHO CARES, LETS GET ON THAT C17!"  As soon as the barricades were removed the crowd literally RAN onto the plane.  It was crazy, people were packing in so tight we could not move.  One kid seriously passed out in front of me and Kevin!!  So, me not liking being trapped in a mob like, crazed crowd put her pipes God blessed her with to work.  Oh yes, controlling crowd control Mary came out in a BIG BOOMING voice!  hee hee!   "Move to the right side of the plane!  Form a queue (what NZ'ers call a line)!  Make way for an exit!"  Then security got involved and my moment of control was over, MAN!  Anyway, 5pm could not get there fast enough.  We were all tired and relieved (well that was KJ, he was glad that demo was OVER!).  The squadron there prepared a little BBQ for us for afterwards.  Let me interject here and just pour out the compliments to the folks that hosted us.  Not once did we every want or need anything.  Their hospitality was amazing and they knew and had available every resource we needed, from water to food to an awesome party afterwards to hooking us up with local connections, etc, etc.  We were even given offers of "If you are ever back in New Zealand for pleasure and need a place to stay, my home is yours".  WOWSA!  Very cool folks they are.  So, we hung out at the base there enjoying the late afternoon BBQ.  

One very important bit of info needs to be put in here.  This day was my birthday.  The entire day long everyone I came in contact with wished me Happy Birthday.  I was given hugs and well wishes the ENTIRE day.  To end this day, as we enter into the 40 squadron - the sq. hosting us - a cake was brought out (chocolate, I might add) and then everyone in that bldg began singing "Happy Birthday".  On the day where my husband had to fly his butt off, he took the time to think of me and arrange this little candle on the cake of the day.  How blessed I am to have HIM as my husband.  A man who had a million things on his plate the previous couple of days, took time to make my day special and fancy his wife with her favorite birthday delight, chocolate cake.  I love you KJ.  Now, he has set the standard HIGH since birthday number 3-0 was in Paris, France and now birthday 3-1 was in New Zealand!  Just say it, I am SPOILED by my hubby!

This same night we also met the owner of the StonyRidge vineyard we had visited the day before.  We completely oozed our love of this place and he then proceeded to offer the ultimate hook-up.  He told us, come out on Sunday and I will give you the VIP treatment.  WOO HOO!  So, our last day in New Zealand was PERFECT!  I don't think we could have ended this trip any better.  We got up Sunday morning (my birthday in the US, oh yes I milked it for all it was worth!) and got back on the ferry headed to Waiheke Island.  This time we splurged a little and got a little convertible jeep cause the sun was shining and heck, it was our last day.  Some of our friends rented scooters, which gave us plenty of laughter the entire day!  We drive out to the vineyard where we have a table already prepared for us, overlooking the olive orchards, grave vines, and just gorgeous steep hillsides.  It was so sweet seeing these little girls in fairy dresses running through the olive trees.  TOO CUTE!  We ate and relaxed in the sun listening to live music that was primo.  The owner then spoils us all on awesome food and a huge discount. None of us wanted to leave, but we forced ourselves.  We then headed to the beach.  We then lounged some more in the sun and took dips in the water and thought the day had passed way too quickly.  We climb back into the car and head back to the harbor to catch the ferry back to Auckland.  Kevin and I then met up with some friends who had took Space-A from Hawaii and had dinner at the Sky Tower Restaurant.  The Sky Tower is much like the Space Needle in Seattle.  The Restaurant rotates to give you the entire view of the city while you dine.  It was a nice way to end our time there in NZ.  Oh yes, I will go back to NZ one day.  

We left very early the next morning.  We took the same route back.  We landed in Pago Pago for fuel and then landed in Honolulu about 10pm for a night in HI before we made the trek to Alaska.  20 minutes after we landed I am waiting on a taxi to take me downtown when I get a call from KJ, "Mt Redoubt just erupted to 65k feet."  My babies are at home without their momma, and MY momma is going to have to do the volcano prep at our home.  I call mom, it is midnight in AK.  "Mom the volcano erupted, here is what you have to do"...........

The flight home cancelled and we got an extra day in Hawaii.  Although, this was very cool, a day in Honolulu to hang out, no kids, me and the hubby and he doesn't have to mind kept wondering about the kids.  I kept telling myself that ash wasn't going to Anchorage, but that didn't help.  Finally, I found a remedy.....mai tai's!  We also found ourselves in the midst of some pick-up beach volleyball games and that helped to take my mind off things.  The wind was in our favor the next day and as the volcano erupted we boarded the C17, hopefully to make it home.  We now had to go to Seattle and pick up some C17 crews that were leaving their jets in WA to keep them safe from volcano ash.  We landed safely at 1am in Anchorage.  I didn't want it to end, but it was good to be home.  

Now, we are dealing with this bleeping volcano that decides to erupt every other day or every other 2 days.  We have been hit with some ash.  When this happened the outside smelled like sulphur with a touch of burnt.  On top of that the snow then came down on top of the ash.  This is good for breathing quality, but bad for getting to play in the snow.  Others are letting their kids play, but I just can't let mine.  Noah likes to eat the snow WAY too much.  

My mom flew back home, THANKS mom for watching the boys!  Hope you birthday (Apr 3) was AWESOME!  

Now, I have officially signed up for the Gold Nugget Triathlon.  I am submerging myself in training despite the fact I possibly have bronchitis.  We have bought Noah a new pair of shoes.  he got a pair of New Balance cause he thought the "N" on the side was there for his name!  :)  Caleb has begun to talk like an adult.  His pronunciation is out of this WORLD!  I don't' have "babies" anymore!  sniff sniff!  Kevin is busy with a base wide exercise, that is where he is now.  

The kids have been interested in seeing the lava from the volcano - which takes a lot of explaining why we are not driving to the volcano to watch it blow.  So, last night for family fun night Kevin and I went old school and pulled out the vinegar and baking soda.  Of course, doing this in a bottle is not visual enough, so I get the paper mache and VOILA the we and the kids construct our version of Mt Redoubt.  We did not have red food coloring so we used blue and green instead.  When we went to make the "eruption", Caleb kept his ears covered!  He thought there was going to be a BANG!  It was too funny to see their excitement over the bubbling!  Next time we will have to use diet coke and mentos for a bigger bang! Alright........
I think that catches you all up.  

The end. 

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Case of the Catch-ups

Since my last post, Feb 17 to present

Kevin was gone much of Feb because he was flying in an airshow in India.  During this time Caleb was sick with croup which he passed on to his brother.  Noah is a really tough kid but this croup took him over like no other and Noah made his first visit to the emergency room.  He was terrified since his last visit to the hospital he had surgery on his leg.  He remembers this vividly so the panic in his eyes could not be relieved until he was back in his car seat on our way home.  The kids then passed on their croup to their mother (big surprise) and I battled a cold for 2 weeks.  :)  During that time we prepared for our trip to Kona Hawaii and prayed the volcano, Mt Redoubt, would not blow until we had left Alaksa!

We were able to get off to Kona safely at the beginning of March.  We saw Mt Kilauea but didn't attempt to see an active lava flow.  The smells were strong and potentially toxic - enough said.  We enjoyed the steam vents that were quite pleasing since it was FRIGID!  I thought we were back in Alaska while visiting this volcano.  When I pack for Hawaii, I pack shorts and tank tops.  Well, that was not good enough.  It was in the 50's (gasp!!) at the volcano park, and windy!  The kids and I froze our bums off.  The steam vents were great.  The vents are the huge cracks in the earth where the geothermal heats rises up and a very constant spray of warm steam comes out.  It took a lot to pull me away from those vents.  The sun also took a vacation while on the big island.  It finally returned on our last day.  So we made the most of it.  We found a great beach, Hapuna Beach, with great boogie boarding waves and great sand.  The kids took turns burying Kevin and destroying the sand castles we made together.  We also went on this very cool snorkeling trip.  They had these boogie boards with a hole cut out of the top.  In the cut out circle they inserted a piece of glass and a hood around the glass.  So it was like a boogie board with a round face mask.  The kids could lay on the boogie boards, put their faces up next to the glass and see all the things that Kevin and I saw, all without having to put their faces underwater.  It was so great, Caleb fell asleep on his board!  Kevin and I got to see an octopus which was really cool watching it change color to match the bottom of the ocean.  We then left Kona to start another adventure.  

We arrived home from Kona on the 11th and my mom flew in the night of the 12th.  We gave her a crash course in how to drove on icy Alaska roads, directions to all the places she would need to drive to in the city, etc.  She flew up to watch our boys so Kevin and I could go to New Zealand!  We left for New Zealand on the 16th of March.  We spent one night in Honolulu HI, and then flew onto Whenupai (pronounced Fe-nu-pie) Air Base in Auckland New Zealand.  Kevin was flying in an air show there so I was able to Space-A along.  One the way we stopped for fuel in a little Pacific Island called Pago Pago.  It was gorgeous and HOT!  It was very remote, but I bet could reveal a lot of adventure if given the chance.  So, after a grand total of 10.5 hours in the back of a C-17 we stepped of the plane in NZ.  
NZ is a really cool place.  The general attitude is laid back and it helps that the language is English mixed with a little "kiwi".  The exchange rate was definitely in our favor so shopping was really fun and ordering pricey things on restaurant menu's was FUN!  Our first day was spent with Kevin at work (after all he was flying in an airshow) and me pounding the pavement to see the sites.  Auckland is set upon a nice harbor so I checked out the harbor side.  I also found one of the oldest churches in the world and it was very pretty.  One of my favorite things is that NZ had a lot of "take away" places for food.  So, I could indulge in a lot of local fare at many different places without using of my limited tourist time or being tied to a table and server.  I wish America had more places like this.  Well, we do but they are called drive thru's and well, no that doesn't cut it.  I frequented the pita pit, pandoro (the mediterranean lamb was great!), and of course we had to find a donner for KJ.  One thing I have to avoid in these overseas places is the gassy water.  I can not tune my palette to fizzy bubbles in my water!  Anyway, after beating the streets all day I met up with KJ that afternoon where we ate dinner at Mosoon Poon.  At joint that anything from Thai to Vietnamese.  It was really really good.  Despite the overly large paintings of a baby picking up a watermelon and another of a baby straddling a large coy.  Day 2, KJ managed to wrangle a day free so we walked around a bit, ended up at the harbor, jumped on a ferry and ended at Waiheke (pronounced Wa-hee-key) Island.  Ok, by far my favorite place in the world.  This island has its own micro climate.  So, while it has the gorgeous coastal views it also has these awesome steep mountains which is the perfect place to grow wine grapes.  Just about every inch of this island was olive orchard, grape orchard, or has sheep running on it.  It was GORGEOUS!  We visited a local vineyard, StonyRidge, and then ended up later meeting the owner.  Oh, I forgot.  Upon arriving on the island, we rented a car.  Folks in NZ drive on the left, opposite the US.  This was going to be an adventure just being on the left.  Well upon driving these rolling hills and sharp curves, the BRAKES, a very necessary part of a car, decide to stop functioning.  Yes, we are going down a hill and around a sharp curve with cars on the wrong side of the road, WITHOUT A WAY TO STOP!  AHHH!  Those 17km were very exciting and my blurry pictures show it!  HEE HEE!  We take the rental car back and get another, crossing our fingers that this one had brakes.  We did manage to maneuver the island successfully.  Half of the island has unpaved roads but those are the roads that had the BEST views and we are glad we navigated those roads.  Breathtaking.  After a long day of island discovery we jump on the ferry back to Auckland and get ready for the airshow the next day.    

I will have to pause here.  Caleb needs a diaper change and the boys need attention.  I'll try to finish this later tonight after the kids are in bed.  Wish me luck too, I have another photo shoot today!  Yaaaa-Hoooo!