Sunday, March 25, 2012

Not much new, but yummy ice cream

The Britomart or downtown bus/train station
  After only goodness knows how long, Andrea and Andrew went on a date Friday night. For me this meant my first babysitting gig. Although, Mia's usual witching hours are from 630-8pm I was still excited and happy to offer my services. Mackay went to bed with no protest at his normal time (7pm) and then they were off to dinner and drinks down on Ponsonby Road. I made a lovely steak, tomato and spinach pasta, sat down with a glass of wine and enjoyed watching the Auckland Blues rugby team almost win a game. Shockingly for all of us, Mia didn't make a noise until it was time to feed and just as her bottle was finishing sterilization, Mummy and Daddy walked in the front door. We are scheduled for another round this weekend, though I can't possible expect another easy and quite night, I can hope, can't I?

Auckland Art Gallery
Saturday I was feeling a bit lazy, or maybe that was just a little exhaustion from the week previous. In any case, headed to the St. Lukes mall to see the Hunger Games. I was thrilled to learn that most of the movies aren't released until months after they have been showing in the States, but not all. I think the theatres, and the TV stations, wait for the movie/TV series' ratings and profits to prove their worth before they buy them here in NZ. What this means is that some movies and TV series never make it over and most take 6 month or a season or two. Thankfully, the Hunger Games was a sure bet and it was here on time for me to see it with the rest of the world. This may seem like a small thing, but I really love my movies.
The Sky Tower and other buildings in the CBD
CBD on my walk home
Sunday, with no plans made and some really marvelous weather, I headed back to the Art Gallery. Going back to the idea of art/museums/libraries ect feeling like long lost friends or even really like sanctuaries to me, it was peaceful and rejuvenating to met up again. It was interesting how much more I was able to take in the second time around. I got to thinking about how many millions of people have been able to view these masterpieces and how incredible it is to think that so many other people from all over the world and throughout the last century have had some special connection with them too. Since I have the season pass,and children are free, I am planning on taking Mackay to join us in that connection sometime soon.

The afternoon was so beautiful I walked down to the docks for some sushi and ice cream before walking home.  
Movenpick vanilla brownie ice cream
The Ferry Building
 Mia is doing really well, but Mackay is feeling a bit under the weather with some sniffles and a cough so we will probably have a pretty mellow (except for the high emotions that go with being sick) next couple of days. 
Our daylight savings doesn't end until Easter weekend and already it is dark when I wake up in the morning. The sun is back out, but just to visit, and the high humidity with the chilly wind are not letting me forget that winter is coming. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Round the Bays

Mackay and I went to the Zoo Friday morning. He walked almost the whole morning and on the drive home he didn't even make it out of the parking lot before he fell asleep! Although he didn't notice most of the animals he loved the monkeys - I have great reason to suspect it is because he is part monkey himself or at least his noises and crazy running/climbing around would indict so. We have an annual pass to the zoo and it is only a ten minute drive away. If nothing else, it gets us out of the house and playing on new stairs and rocks (his favorite zoo activity).

The rest of the week was uneventful. Andrea and I have been taking a more strict, one warning system approach to Mackay's attitude/tantrum/acting and general grievances that have been disrupting this once lovely and peaceful child. Some of the days this no-nonsense attack has worked wonders, other days it just barely gets us by. It does seem like the cards are stacked differently everyday and really even his demeanor can be drastically different from my morning shift to the afternoon shift. I am sure with perseverance, patience and time that lovely boy will return to us.

Saturday, I went to the CBD to have some breakfast, do some shopping (I purchased an awesome mircofiber towel and radically reduced priced rain/wind jacket!) and then went back to the Auckland Art Gallery for the Degas to Dali exhibit. I have always been enthralled with Impressionist art, so much so that I remember making my mom take me to the Denver Art Museum multiple times when they had an exhibition when I was about ten years old. Seeing Van Goghs, Monets, and Courbets are like meeting up with long lost friends. The exhibit followed art (paintings mostly) from 1860's impressionism through expressionism, post- impressionism, cubism and surrealism and into modern and pop art of the 1950's. It was completely overwhelming in an enlightening and inspiring way. After two hours, I hadn't seen it all and was about to explode with visual input. Luckily, there is an option to by a season pass for the exhibit for less than the price of three admissions, so now I can go back as much and when ever I want until it ends in June!!

I also walked to the Auckland Central Library to check out their NZ travel guides as I am planning a little trip for Easter weekend. NZ celebrates Easter by giving its people a four day weekend so hopefully I will come up with an exciting, but relaxing trip. I have booked a stay and bus ticket up to the Bay of Islands and am detailing what I will do with my time right now. I must say I feel great jubilation to have a library card back in my wallet. 

I participated in the "Round the Bays" run/walk charity event on Sunday. I walked the 8.4 km with a small group of other au pairs. Technically you can run it; however, there are about 70,000 other participants trying to make the same trek on a four lane road so it becomes more or less a massive surge of bodies. The event changes their financial recipients every year and this years included Make a Wish, Child Cancer Foundation, Garden to Table Trust (an organization giving NZ children a better, healthy future through food and nutritional education), and Fairfax First Books (promoting the improvement of reading skills for young NZ children). Though they didn't post notices to which regularly stops would be disrupted, I found out afterward that event used some of the city's buses to get people to and from the event. Long and slightly exhausting story short, I ended up running to and from the the run/walk so my distance traveled by foot was closer to 20km (a dozen or so miles, but don't worry I was home to watch the 2pm Warrior game). I guess it is all part of the experience and knowledge gained of the random and fun things I get to do - sometimes they don't go to plan, sometimes I run a lot.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Seriously this is my life

Another great week. Before I get into my weekend I have to but a disclaimer or it will just sound like bragging. Mackay was pretty tantrum prone this week. Monday was easily the best day of the week and maybe of the time I have been here. We went to playgroup in the morning and took the bus to and from the library. I must say I feel that the fact that I am capable/ have a child well mannered enough to be able to take the city bus on a hot afternoon downtown to the library and back and call it fun seems like I should have some sort of badge of honor (strange, I know, but true). Tuesday we went to the Doman and War Museum. The Domain is this massive park in the middle of Auckland and the War Museum is really more the nature and science museum - both are beautiful. After Tuesday it seemed like we pretty much were in periods of tantrums and fights and short periods of blissful peace and fun. The Friday afternoon zoo trip went well but we were both completely nickered by the time bedtime hit. 

I have been bit, pooped on, water has been viciously splashed on me like only the fury of a two- year who doesn't want to wash his face can do, I've been peed on, hit, kicked, and generally abused, but such is the life of a nanny.

That being said....... I went snorkeling at the Goat Island Marine Reserve on Saturday. This is a pristine peace of the world about an hour and half north of Auckland. It was a bit overcast, but with the wetsuit  the water was fine and the fish a plenty. Snorkeling on its own is very peaceful and a great way to feel both at one with the ocean while being reminded of how particularly small and insignificant one person in the ocean really is. Snorkeling in a marine reserve is just that much better. I am looking into a few options for scuba diving soon as that sounds like even more fun! Au pair Link was put the group together so I didn't have to drive and they had me home in time to see Mackay and Mia before bed and have some tasty thai food with Andrea and Andrew. 

Today, I went do to the viaduct/wharf to watch some of the Volvo Ocean Race. I didn't know that was what I was going to see when I boarded the bus, but that is where my little feet took me. I actually had to google what I saw when I got home because I wasn't sure what all the people (thousands) were gathering and cheering for. The Race is a sailing competition that is considered the 'Everest of Sailing.' Eleven maned boats are sailed 39,000 nautical miles from Alicante, Spain to Galway, Ireland via Cape Town, Abu Dhabi, Sanya, Auckland, around Cape Horn to ItajaĆ­, Miami, Lisbon, and Lorient.. They started last October and end in July.  Pretty incredible! Anyway I stumbled upon watching "team Puma" ( I don't know who they really are) come in second to Auckland. 

Next, I went to Euro Bar and Cafe for bluff oysters. I had seen an add in the paper for a lunch special they were running by reservation only and thought "well I don't really know what that is but sounds interesting." Turns out Euro is rated one the top 50 restaurants in the world by some posh food magazine and bluff oysters are considered the best oysters. They are grown in the cold, fresh sand of the South Island instead of farmed on ropes. I added a basket of ciabatta and pukeko kumara bread that had NZ virgin olive oil (I could have just drank it straight), smoked pork paprika cream, and mushroom truffle cheese as spreads. Seriously, read that last sentence again. AND bluff oysters. AND two glasses of a New Zealand Marlborough country sauvignon blanc. I can not, can not possibly explain what an incredible meal I had. Easily the best lunch I have had in recent memory and I have been eating really ridiculously well. After I explained that this was me treating myself to a wonderful meal after a long week of nannying, the cute waiter took my picture and rubbed my shoulders for a minute - seriously!   To top it off, the bottom of the check said "Be Good. Take care and be kind to your mother. See you again soon." How can you not love that!?!

Then to complete the afternoon, I joined one of my au pair mates for a cappuccino with a slice of chocolate cake and matinee at the Skycity Event Centre. 

Seriously this is my life. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Wickets and League

  I am slowly and hesitantly learning (how to watch) cricket and rugby league. Having played and watched rugby union for so long I hadn't realized that it had a cousin. It is kind of hard to explain the differences other than it is faster and position is changed every six tackles. It is really a different animal.
  Cricket... is seriously weird when you have never had any contact with it. There are three different lengths of games: 20/20, ODI (One Day International), and traditional Test matches. 20/20 means there are 20 overs per team so basically it shortens the game to a couple hours instead of days, like in test. I have managed to learn enough of the game to watch it but not to appropriately explain it so I won't try. Anyway I am loving embracing New Zealand culture so cricket and league it is.

   I am starting to become very comfortable here and for the first time I actually wanted to listen to my ipod while walking to breakfast this morning. When I first started walking everywhere I felt so out of place I didn't want headphones on - which I normally love when I walk around; its live having a soundtrack to walk. I am feeling comfortable enough that I went out to breakfast by myself today. The joy and importance of eating great food can not be over stated. For instance, eggs benedict should always be served with fresh salmon. It is a pleasure I have never had to always have access to fresh sea food and I am already morning for my future self when I have to eat frozen sea food again. After breakfast I walked back home via the beautiful park that is basically my back yard. It huge and green and always full of activity. A lovely place to sit and read my kindle.

 I keep feeling like I am not doing enough, like I am not getting enough off my imaginary (and blank) checklist of life so I am practicing slowing down, doing whatever I feel like at the time, and realizing that is enough!
   The weather is so temperate and bugs few, as long as it isn't raining we are able to keep our doors open almost all day, everyday. This temperate weather is also conducive to fresh lined laundry which is a luxury I didn't even know I was missing.
 This week it seems like Mackay and I have really hit the next level of our relationship. He now gets so excited when I enter the room in the morning or on the weekends and asks for me when he's upset. He is also listen to me more. I am definitely feeling like I am really becoming a significant and beneficial part of his life and he recognizes it! It is very rewarding and emotional to have those feelings reciprocated.