30 April 2008

Three Years Down, Eternity to Go...

Tuesday was our third wedding anniversary. We had a wonderful date and really enjoyed the time we could spend together. If we hadn't spent the week before gallavanting about the North Island, we probably would have gone away somewhere to go camping and hiking or something outdoorsy to celebrate another successful year. We stayed in town, and we still had a great time.

I picked Eric up when he got out of his class, and we headed over to the gardens (again, these gardens are free!) The gardens have quite a large series of aviaries with all sorts of birds, so we spent some time admiring them and trying to get them to engage with us in some sort of intelligent conversation. Unfortunately, the only talkers were not willing to converse, but we enjoyed watching them and reading about them. Then we meandered down to the herb garden and picked a couple of fresh herbs. (Don't worry! It's encouraged to pick the herbs.) Unfortunately, the gardens aren't at their peak now, but they were still pleasant enough for a lovely stroll.

Then we were off to a restaurant called High Tide. Eric had made us reservations, and it was quite a nice meal. The restaurant was really quiet and we had it all to ourselves for most of the meal.

After that we went for a walk on the beach! Because we live by a beach! It was our first time to be able to go walking on a beach for our anniversary, and I'm glad we went. We both love the beach. We love the sound of the waves and the squishiness of the sand and the chill of the air. Hooray for the beach!

I didn't know it, but Eric had gone by the city library that day and got three movies. He got a coupon for three free movies when he signed up for his library card, and he waited for the perfect occasion to use it. We watched Miss Potter, and we really enjoyed. I even enjoyed it despite my fierce, inexplicable loathing of Renee Zellweger. Such a great movie. I think Ewan McGregor was the deal-breaker for me. He is charming always. And he sings! Even better!

It was a wonderful anniversary, and we look forward to many more.

29 April 2008

Hamilton and the North Island

We got back from the North Island on Saturday night, but I've been lazy about posting. Here's the rundown of the trip:

We traveled with Matthew and Makereta and their baby, William. We drove to Queenstown (about 3 1/2 hours) on Monday. We had a bit of time when we got to Queenstown so we went for a short walk along the lakeside. Then we flew to Auckland. I finally finished Emma while we were on the plane, and I'm glad to be finished with it. I liked it, but it took me a long time to get into it, which is why I hardly read it at all in the last two months. And thus have neglected reading almost altogether.

William was really good for most of the flight. At one point I was holding him, and the passenger in front of me turned and told me how good my baby was. I told the kind, "Oh, he's not mine, but he is really good. That's why we're willing to hang out with his parents."

We arrived in Auckland at nighttime and were greeted by Makereta's family. Makereta's sister, Junelle, and Junelle's boyfriend, Moo, drove us to the temple accommodations in Hamilton.

We were eager to go to the temple the next day, and somewhere in the middle of the session I realized that it was the anniversary of my own endowment three years before. We attended a few more sessions during the week. I wish we had attended more, but I don't know if there would ever be a time when I didn't wish that we had gone more often.

During the week we hung out a lot with Makereta's large, Maori family. It was a lot of fun. They made us feel so welcome and were so generous!

On Thursday we went to Rotorua with Matthew, Makereta, Junelle, and Moo. We drove past a city with lots of buildings made out of tin! Including a sheep building right next to a dog building. Plus, there was a statue of a shepherd outside. Pretty random. And pretty awesome! We couldn't resist stopping and taking photos. Because hello! Buildings of tin! Shaped into things! Like sheep! There was also a car... and some other things. In case you were wondering, the sheep building sold various wool products, and the dog building had tourist information. And right next to the shepherd was a little box of pamphlets about the Good Shepherd.

The drive to Rotorua was really pleasant. Nobody got carsick (unlike the drive to Queenstown when Eric and I both wanted to die. We are big weenies). We really enjoyed driving and seeing more of the North Island. It is really green and hilly. In fact, it's exceptionally green! We were so impressed!

There were lots of expensive things to do in Rotorua, but we didn't do them. We wandered around some mud pots, ate fish and chips, then ate ice cream, then went to the Polynesian Spa to sit around in naturally heated pools. Then we drove home and saw a great sunset!

We went to a placed called the Kiwi Experience. It is a place that preserves the kiwi bird and charges an arm and a leg. We didn't go to through the "experience" but we did hang out in the gift shop! So, the picture is a little deceptive. You might think we caught baby kiwis and were holding them in their very natural habitat. But we were actually in the gift shop holding stuffed kiwis, that were probably made with possum fur. And it took us about 5 times to get a picture that didn't make it obvious we were in a gift shop. And then I went and blew it by telling you the whole real story. Well, there you have it.

Outside the Kiwi Experience gift shop was a giant statue of a kiwi bird. Of course, Matthew had to climb it. Then Eric. Then me.

After the Kiwi Experience that we did not experience at all, we just drove around until we found a free park. Then we checked out some boiling mud and steam coming from the ground. It was pretty cool. It reminded us quite a bit of Yellowstone, only without the geysers. I think it wasn't quite as smelly, too.

Eventually we all settled on going to the spas for a few hours. It took us a while to decide what we were going to do because none of us wanted to spend an arm and a leg doing something that would only last a couple of minutes. The spas only cost $20, and we could spend all afternoon there. Unfortunately, since Makereta is pregnant, she could not join us in the spas. Hanging out at the spas was pretty much like hanging out in any hot tub, but it smelled like sulfur, what with the natural heating and all.

On Friday we went swimming at the indoor pools in Hamilton. We took turns running on "The Rocket" which was an inflated cylinder floating on the water. The goal was to run to the end without falling off. I only ever made it a little more than half-way across. But, everyone said I had the most entertaining falls. Which explains why I was so sore the next day, I guess.

After the pools we went to the gardens in Hamilton. I have to say one of my favorite English traditions is free public gardens! The gardens were awesome. And FREE! Way better than Thanksgiving Point, and infinitely free-er!

Our camera broke the day of the pools and gardens. We are really upset about that since we bought that camera to replace the one that quit working the day we arrived in Dunedin! Fortunately, the store where we bought it is working with us to get it replaced. Unfortunately, we have no pictures of the gardens.

20 April 2008

So Long!

Today we head out for the temple trip. (Don't even bother trying to rob the house. We're taking the two things of value with us, and no, I'm not telling you what they are. But really, not that valuable anyway. Plus, neighbors. Just don't bother.) I'm so excited! I'm ready to be in the warmth of the North Island after this weekend where Eric and I were able to see our breath IN OUR APARTMENT! I'm thinking the warm North air will cure my cough. We'll also be celebrating our third wedding anniversary just a few days after we return home, so we'll have to do something nice to celebrate while we are up there. We'll see. And we're going with our friends, Makereta and Matthew. We are going to have lots of fun!

Most importantly, we get to go to the temple all week!

Then when I get home, I will have a gazillion emails to check. And a gazillion blog posts that will have piled up in my reader. But you know what? I'll probably click "mark as read" without reading at least half of them. Sorry. It's a fact.

18 April 2008

What blogging means to me

Happy birthday to my blog! I have been blogging at this domain for a whole year today! I've been thinking a lot lately about why I blog now verses why I started blogging during the summer of 2004, how my blogging has evolved, how blogging has gained a lot of traction in the last year, and what my particular blog is all about.

I started blogging over at another blogging site the summer after my freshman year at BYU because all my friends were doing it. Really. It was a way to keep up with them and write funny things about each other and our lives. I kept it up into the school year. I liked blogging with that particular domain because it included a "friends page" which posted any new entries that my friends had made with that particular blogging site. That is, I told the site who my friends were, and it pulled their blogs into one convenient page for me. But then, with time, many of my friends pretty much just stopped blogging altogether.

Around that time, Janssen started blogging here on blogspot, and I followed her shortly thereafter. For me, it was really not about keeping up with people. It wasn't about telling everyone about me. It was all about writing. An outlet for me to write about the things that amused me and occasionally the things that frustrated me.

Somewhere in the last year my blog became pretty generally known to my family- both my side and Eric's. Actually, to be clear, it happened on Eric's side when Brianne started blogging and I commented on some of her posts. For my side, I think it happened when I sent an email telling everyone to check out my new teeth because I had posted photos to my blog of the transition from crooked to beautiful.

Around the time that I started blogging on here, I also started using Google Reader. It is WONDERFUL! It compiles all the blogs that I read into one place. It is easy to use! It prevents me from checking blogs a gazillion times a day one at a time just to see if the blogger has posted. Not only is that more convenient for me, but it also doesn't screw up the statistics on the blog, if the blogger has a site meter or uses Google Analytics, like I do.

Google Reader also suggests to me other blogs I might like. It is great! Because, you see, reading blogs is not just about keeping up with people I know. It is also about reading things posted by strangers. I know. It's a little odd. Why do I care at all what strangers have to say? What they do all day? How cute their kids are? Frankly, I don't know! But it's not just about their lives, it's mostly about how they write. There are some really great writers out there, and I love getting a feel for different writing styles and different ways to tell stories. It has helped my writing quite a bit.

Plus, some people are just downright hilarious.

So, to summarize:
  • I have about 50 blogs in my Reader. Yes. 50. And I add about 2-3 each week. I'm constantly looking for more. Mind you, many of these haven't been updated in more than a week. I only get about 15 posts a day, and half of those I barely skim because I get a lot of genealgy blogs, and that news can often be repetitive.
  • Hate to break it to you, but blogging is not for you to keep tabs on me. It is for me. To write. Maybe one day I'll stop writing about my day-to-day life altogether. Probably not. But maybe.
  • I was on the blogging bandwagon long before it was merely a way to share pictures with family members and friends. And I'm a little too proud of that fact. But I do love the sharing aspect of it!
  • Never, ever, ever has Eric posted on this blog. Nor will he. It's not his. It's mine. He mostly shuns blogs, and he thinks my whole blogging obsession is a little silly. He doesn't read your blogs unless I tell him to do so. Sorry. Usually I just tell him what is going on with his friends and family. I am the information gatekeeper in this household. But really, it's not his blog, so if you wouldn't mind not calling it his, that would be great.
  • I like to keep track of how many visitors I get. That means I like it when you link to me. I generally assume that other people like to be linked to as well, so if you don't want strangers visiting your blog, please let me know and I won't include hyperlinks when I refer to you. But, I ask that if you refer to me, you do link to me. Because I care. Too. Much.

15 April 2008

Freshman Year Discovery

I loved my freshman year at BYU. I have great memories of the fun times with my roommate, Priscilla, and our neighbors, Heather and Janssen. I miss those girls a ton, and it is often sad to me that we don't live together any more. I mean, I love living with Eric, but I also loved living with those girls.

Every Monday night Heather would come into our room to watch the new Strong Bad email on Homestarrunner.com. (To summarize, homestarrunner.com is a website of a cartoon of sorts. The characters don't make a lot of sense, but they are funny.) Each week I dreaded this nonsense because I just didn't find Strong Bad funny. Or any of the characters. Or anything about the website. I thought it was rubbish. Unfunny rubbish.

That is, until Lures & Jigs. Hilarious.

Since moving down here, Eric and I have rediscovered Homestarrunner.com, specifically the Strong Bad emails. We have even introduced it to a few friends. We like to show them our favorites including Dragon, Japanese Cartoon, English Paper, Diorama, CGNU, and of course, the site's introduction. Usually if none of these get our friends to realize how funny the site is, we show them Lures & Jigs, and it does the trick!

Today Eric went fishing (he's not home yet), and all I could think of was him doing a little dance to attract the fish, while saying, "Hey fish! I'm gonna suggest you get up in here! We've got a keg... of worms... and phytoplancton!" Hilarious, I tell you. Just go watch Lures & Jigs, okay?

11 April 2008

General Conference

I'm happy because today is General Conference Saturday for us. We opted to watch it online for the Saturday sessions for a couple of reasons:
  • Non-Sunday clothes.
  • Not a chapel full of screaming kids.
  • Couch.
  • Sickness.
Yep, I'm sick. Pretty lame because I have no idea how I got sick. The people who we hang out with? Not sick.

This has given Eric another chance to shine, though. Right now he is going to the store to buy me some much-needed cough syrup so that I can actually sleep tonight. (Actually, he just came home with said cough syrup plus throat lozenges! Way to go!) Each morning he has made me a cup of raspberry-peach herbal tea complete with added honey and sugar. Always makes me feel better! What's this you say? I turn my tea into hot Kool-aid?

Yes, that is correct. And it is best that way to drink that often intolerable stuff.

08 April 2008

Calling all Travelers

Did you know that so far one person is definitely coming to visit me in New Zealand? Yep. ONE. Of all the people I know.

She bought her plane tickets yesterday. I am so excited for her to come at the end of November.

I spent some time looking online for plane tickets yesterday, just to see, and do you know what? I found roundtrip tickets from Salt Lake City to Christchurch for only $1000! That is a steal! So, get on the ball, folks! Come over here and visit us while you have the chance to have free lodging and food!


I'm going to Australia again at the beginning of May. I just sent off my passport info to the person who buys plane tickets for our company, and it was so exciting looking through my passport at my one visa and two stamps! I know, it's only two. But eventually there will be lots more than two! And I just get so happy thinking about it!


And here's a little meme I felt like doing. No need to also do it. I won't judge you if you don't:

Four jobs I have had in my life:

Cashier at a grocery store, Stir-fry cook, Peer Mentor, Linking Team Lead on an extraction project

Four movies I've watched more than once:

Beauty and the Beast, Little Women, Dr. Strangelove, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Askaban

Four Places I have lived:

Texas, Utah, New Zealand. Really, I've only ever lived in three places. I guess you could say I lived in Provo and Orem, but they are practically the same place.

Four T.V. Shows that I watch:

None right now. Really. NONE. I do watch the highlights of American Idol each week. And if I lived in the states I would watch The Office. But that's all.

Four places I have been:

New York City, Seattle, San Diego, New Zealand

Four Favourite Foods: (You'll have to excuse the ridiculous spelling, this was sent to me by a Kiwi, and I felt I should keep it in its original form.)

Salad, Ice Cream, Lamb, Bread

Four Places I would like to visit:

Jerusalem, Washington D.C., Florence, Prague

Four things I am looking forward to this year:

Going to the Barrier Reef, temple week in Hamilton, trip to Milford Sound, eating lots of lamb

07 April 2008


On Saturday night Eric and I went over to Phil and Annemarie's house for dinner and games. Phil happens to be the branch president. He is crazy about games, and he's a big-time trash-talker. He kind of reminds me of Andrew. Because here he is rubbing it in that you lost a die, yet he only has one left. I guess if you take it seriously it could be really annoying. But we were warned, so we felt justified and just dishing it right back. It was a fun time!

Phil and Annemarie have three really cute kids. One of them is four, and his name is Jared. Yes, stories are coming.

This is paua (pronounced pow-uh). It grows in the ocean. (In America it's called abalone.) You can go diving for it. Just pick it up, and if you are fast enough, the little muscle-like creatures won't attach themselves to the nearest rock. Paua are useful for two things: one, the meat is very tasty (or so I'm told) and two, their shells are really beautiful. Somebody in the household had gone out and caught a couple of paua and placed them in a bowl for later consumption. These paua were still alive, and of course this was very fascinating to the little boys, especially Jared. Phil brought the bowl of paua over to me so that I could see them, and they happened to be very active at the time, moving around quite a bit. It's rather difficult to explain how they move since they live in shells and are invertebrates but the best description is that they were flexing.

Anyway, cute little Jared was touching the paua and encouraging me to do the same. As you might expect, I was not keen to touch the black, gooey thing. So, I told Jared that I really didn't want to, and he told me, "But he likes it." Jared continued to enumerate to me all the wonders of paua, how yummy they are and such. This was funny because when he first showed them to me, I asked him if he had ever had it, but he said that he hadn't. As the conversation continued, Jared told me how to prepare paua. "Scoop it out of the shell. Put it in a pan. Turn on the stove so it gets hot. Let the paua get hot in the pan until it is cooked, " and so on. The funny thing was, when I asked how to cook it, my question was directed to a grown-up and I pretty much missed the answer, except I think it can involve coconut milk.

And, the best of all. When I asked Jared what his favorite food was, he assured me, of course, that it was paua.

I don't think that story translate very well written down, but this kid was darn funny! And cute. And, his mom told me that he has had paua, and she's pretty sure it wasn't his favorite food.

03 April 2008

Be Our Guest

On Tuesday night our friends, Angela and Haki, came over. We fed them dinner, and it was only mediocre dinner. Too bad they didn't come over on Monday when it was really yummy dinner. Alas. While we were getting the food on the table, I mentioned our lack of a cheese grater and how we totally meant to buy one at The Warehouse! Lame! And do you know what? Ange brought us one on Wednesday. She is a nice person.

Also, she brought Tim Tams. Tim Tams are cookies. And with Tim Tams, you make Tim Tam Slams! I had heard from somebody that they were overrated. Whoever that was is wrong. Dead wrong. Tim Tam Slams are the best Kiwi dessert ever.

Here's the gyst:

A Tim Tam is a cookie that is shaped like a bar and covered in chocolate. To turn the Tim Tam into a Tim Tam Slam, you bite off both ends of the cookie and use it ever so briefly as a straw to slurp some hot chocolate. You have to act fast though, because once you slurp, the cookie starts to turn to mush and the chocolate starts to melt.

Unbelievably tasty. So chocolatey, goodnessy, wonderful.

Of all the things to take back to the states. This is it. I'm planning on importing several packages of Tim Tams so we can show all the folks back home how wonderful Tim Tam Slams are.

In fact, I liked them so much, here is chat I had with Eric:
me: can we eat tim tam slams for dinner
Eric: no
me: you are mean
Eric: yes, lets eat chocolate and sugar for dinner
3:50 PM me: exactly!!!!!!
3:53 PM tim tam slams it is then.

Unfortunately, Eric was being sarcastic when he said, "Yes, let's eat chocolate and sugar for dinner." We had leftovers instead.