Best of February

February in Gizzy was pretty awesome. Here are the highlights from what we thought at the time would be the last days of summer. (Little did we know that we were in the midst of the longest summer EVER! Today, in mid-May [the North American equivalent to November], we had blue skies and temperatures in the high 70’s.)

February saw some good surfing for us. The water was warm and the waves were good. Here’s a sunset shot from the top of Kaiti Hill on our way back from our favorite surfing spot at North Makorori beach.


I caught this short video of Sean surfing. We’re still working on surfing sideways, with the wave, rather than straight into shore. However, as newbies, we’re still working at steering our longboards. But here’s a good wave for Sean on a beautiful day at North Makorori beach. The backstory to this video: there was some good-natured ribbing between Sean and his brother about the photos I’d been sharing of Sean surfing. “You mean that black dot out there is supposed to be Sean? Sure…” That kind of thing. So I was compelled to capture Sean surfing all the way in and identifying himself. Enjoy!

And Gizzy racked up a bunch of trophies for surfing competitions. This was the back page of our paper in February.


When we weren’t beating the heat at the beach or in our backyard pool, we enjoyed the scene at the Olympic Pool. In early February, we celebrated the kids’ friend’s birthday there. This is what an average summer day at the Olympic Pool is like.

After a meal one night at the fishing club, we had a wander around the marina and watched some of the fishing boats come in. Here I couldn’t resist capturing their silhouettes against the setting sun.



04February saw the realization of Sean’s custom surf board, one that is long enough for his tall frame, but that adds some density and width, to give him a bit more stability. Here we are at The Boardroom, the Wainui Beach surfboard shop, getting a first-time wax tutorial by Tommy.

05Sean and his new board. It’s a 10’1″ longboard, in case you’re curious.


The kids are on the quarter academic schedule and so they get 7 1/2 weeks off for summer. But February saw the kids headed back to school. One excitement from the early part of Term 1 was the swimming races. Kiwis respect water safety and swimming confidence and so a lot of schools have on-site pools even at the primary level. Everyday that the weather is “fine” (as they say), the kids swim. Mostly it’s free play in the water. But about a week before the races, the teachers have them swim the various events (freestyle the width of the pool, freestyle the length of the pool, backfloat kick with flutterboard, etc.)  and then the teachers place them in heats based on their ability. The races are held during the last hour of school one day. Thora raced in 3 events: kicking on back with flutterboard, sculling on back, and freestyle width. Watch the video to see what happened.

February saw some awesome output from the garden. It encouraged me to make some of my own salsa. Those are my tomatoes.

07I made a version with raw ingredients, and another with roasted ingredients.


09Here’s the not-very-well-known superhero, Sous Chef Boy! (In case you can’t tell, that’s a tea towel cape. Auric wears one most days.)



More from the garden:





Way back in December, we bought tickets for a concert at a winery, The Classic Hits Winery Tour. The weather was dreadful: dreary, rainy and cold. But we made the best of it. A perk to the night, the concession stands sold wine by the bottle! So imagine the sight, revelers wandering around, bobbing to the beat, an umbrella in one and a bottle of wine in the other. These kiwis know how to do it!

01It was mid-February when I had the epiphany that I could surf midweek in lieu of my usual, ho-hum exercise. So on a random Thursday morning, the surf was “pumping” and I caught some waves out at North Makorori. Here was the view as I crested the hill. (Don’t worry; I pulled over before taking the photos.)


Then, the following Thursday, I decided to keep with my new tradition. The waves were perhaps pumping a bit too hard for my liking. So on this particular day, in addition to catching a wave or two, I also caught my board on my forehead in a wipeout and got my first surf-related injury. It started as a nice big lump (think “horn”) on my forehead; however, the blood drained out of that pretty quickly and had to go somewhere. My luck, it settled in around both eyes. So I had double-black eyes for 2 weeks. Fun!

Here I am, posing with my black eyes and my new tattoo! 6 months after completing the 3/4 tattoo sleeve on my left arm, I was surprised to find myself ready for another one, this time a replica of the big brass key to our front door. Yep, that’s the key going down the middle of my back. Nope, I didn’t have it enlarged. In fact, we have to carry around a 6″-long solid brass key as our regular, ol’ front door key. I thought that was just too amazing, such an auspicious token, heavy with symbolism (key to happiness, the key to a good life) which just also happens to be the literal key to our front door. So I did what anyone would do: I had it tattooed on my back.


In February, our littlest Big Kid, our 3 1/2 year old boy, rode a peddle bike for the first time. I highly recommend starting a kid with a balance bike; it has two wheels and no peddles and the kids propel themselves like running while on the seat of a bike. We are so lucky to have a toy library in town and so for a few bucks every two weeks, we borrowed a balance bike for Auric. He rode that for a month or so and got to the point where he could propel himself and coast, feet up, seemingly indefinitely. It was at this point that I searched out a second-hand bike. After a tune-up, we thought we’d give it a try.


This happened.

He got pretty good almost immediately. I added some footage to my earlier video of Thora riding her bike so that it became “BOTH Kids Ride Bikes Without Training Wheels.” This is also the video wherein I discovered the sound effects tab in iMovie. You’re Welcome.

After the summer hiatus, the Gisborne Bridge Club re-opened and on our first night back, we learned that we’d won a 3-game tournament in December! We each won $10! I guess we’re technically professional bridge players now.


The kids continue to find friends and strengthen those friendships. Here is Auric and Archer sharing their shared love of trains after preschool one day.

09Thora and I participated in our first ever, mother-daughter running race. Thora’s school hosted a 2K/5K fundraiser. Thora and I ran the 2K and she definitely caught the race bug.


What’s become clear is that Thora, much like her mom, takes to paper to express herself. For example, upon learning that we were going to the raceway one night, she immediately grabbed a clean piece of paper and a few markers, and set out drawing a list (illustrated and written, with squares for checking off) of the junk food that might be available at the concession stands and which of those (checking the box) the kids might and might not be allowed to have (yes – popcorn, ice cream; no – soda, candy floss, fries, lollies).

Before our babysitter went off to college in mid-February, she made mini-cupcakes with the kids. There were about 8 or 10 left over. These had sat for several days, with us doling out one a day to the kids if they’d earned a special treat. Then, the day came when Sean and I, or just Sean (I can’t remember) decided enough was enough, that the cupcakes were getting stale and that the kids had had a cupcake a day for the past few days, and because he was the grown-up, decided this would end and to eat the last remaining two cupcakes. Well… when Thora learned of the fate of the last two cupcakes, she was so angry, so betrayed, so saddened by the harsh realities of the life, that she could only express herself accurately through art. (Surprisingly, the tantrum didn’t really work on us.) She illustrated her pain, milking tears out of her eyes the whole time. I mean, this was such a fake drama people. Believe me. But there she sat at her desk, drawing and whimpering until she showed me this, her eyes red, her cheeks tear-stained. I’m not saying childhood is easy. I know that it’s not. But oh, to be a kid, and have the big betrayal of your life be when your dad eats two stale mini-cupcakes.

07But angst-fuled illustrations aside, February saw a lot of this:



And dining al fresco, on this occasion at the beloved cafe/restaurant a few blocks away from our place. Villaggio, set in a historic art-deco house, bordering between the commercial area of Ballance Street Village and the homes of Ballance Street, has lovely food and a nice outdoor space for kids to run and play while the grown-ups relax and enjoy. And they have the MOST INSANELY GOOD bbq ribs! Seriously, if you’re a rib eater, and you come visit us in Gizzy, you will eat at least one meal of ribs here with me.


One summer Friday night, not wanting to cook, we made our way to our favorite local spot for a yummy dinner, the pastel sky darkening against the backdrop of Kaiti Hill (you can make it out between a break between some houses), and basked in the good life that is February in Gizzy.


And finally, my last February highlight. In preparation (hopefully) for Thora and I seeing Wicked, the musical on Broadway this (American) summer in NYC, I was reading Wicked, the novel. Each day, after Thora and I dropped Auric off at school, she would ask me to tell her what I’d read the night before. The Wizard of Oz, and particularly the character of Elphaba, was very much on her mind. She admired my impression of the witch’s cackling voice. (It’s pretty good.) So she started working on her own impression. Here is where she is now with it. There’s room for improvement. I’ll keep you updated on this. And this is where I’ll leave you:

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One Response to Best of February

  1. Julie P says:

    It looks like so much fun. I must say I am seriously envious of your weather. Sunny and 70s for so long – not too hot, not too cold. And you skipped running in favor of surfing? I am so thrilled that you are all loving life in New Zealand so much. We miss you here in Cport, but so happy for all of you.

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