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06 May 2012

Family togetherness

I haven't had time to write in awhile.  Kate and Laura have finally arrived, and by now they've been here for 10 days so writing has taken a back seat.  The days just prior to their leaving and the days they spent in transit were quite nerve-wracking for me.  It's hard for me to not be "in control" and sometimes things like this make me realise just HOW not in control I am.  I spent a lot of time with the the Serenity Prayer and praying for the grace to let go and leave them in God's more than capable hands.

And so, they made it, tired but happy.  And Geyser made it, too, to Christchurch, where he will be in quarantine until tomorrow.  He will be flown down to Dunedin and we'll pick him up there tomorrow evening.

The plane arriving in Dunedin
Tired girls getting off the plane in Dunedin
It was a happy reunion, especially for Kate.  She was SO excited after not seeing me for 2 months (and feeling a bit neglected because of all the time Laura had to spend getting the shop situated for her absence) that she couldn't stop talking.  She'd lost 2 more teeth, she'd gotten a new dress and some new stuffed animals, she'd learned more reading and maths skills, she'd grown and outgrown shoes and clothes.  You miss a lot in a kid's life at this age and I tried to just take it all in, rather than dwell on how sad it was to have missed it.  Laura, on the other hand, was a bit sick with a bad cold, and utterly exhausted.  So I put her to bed and took Kate to see her new school, where she was suddenly shy and didn't want to talk to anyone!

They arrived on a Thursday morning and we'd planned for Kate to start school on Monday.  However, Kate, despite her shyness, was SO excited about starting school that she insisted upon starting on Friday. She was up and dressed in her new uniform by 7 am so we decided, hey, why not?  It would give Laura some extra rest and maybe get Kate into the swing of things quicker.

Kate ready to go for her first day
It was interesting to see how the jet lag affected Kate.  Basically, her body clock was about 6 hours ahead, so at 2 PM here her body was getting ready to sleep.  For the first couple of nights we let her go to sleep around dinner ("tea") time but she kept waking up at 3 or 4 in the morning and not going back to sleep.  On Saturday, we went on an outing to the Catlins and she had a wee nap in the car on the way back.  So we snatched the opportunity to wake her up for dinner and prod her awake until about 10 PM.  She slept through till about 7am the next morning.  Mission accomplished!  She's actually been sleeping much better here, going to sleep more easily and waking up on time to get to school.  It helps that school starts a bit later and that she doesn't have to spend any time picking out clothes or fussing about not having the right ones.  I LOVE uniforms!

All during this week, we've basically been trying to get back into the swing of things as a family.  It's the first time probably ever that I've had to worry about getting Kate up and dressed and fed AND getting myself ready for work.  It's a challenge but it's going well.  In addition to the things I just mentioned (later school time, uniforms), it's also a big help that I typically don't have to be at work until 9 am (except for the weekly doctors' meeting at 8:30).  I don't have hospital rounds to do and I've usually completed all my tasks from the day before prior to going home for the evening.  It's quite a luxury having nights and weekends off!

The first weekend after Laura and Kate arrived, we had our first visitor, our friend Bill from north of Seattle.  He was in Auckland on business and decided to fly down and see us (it was cheaper than two nights in the hotel up there).  So, in addition to Laura and Kate getting used to things, we had a house guest who was keen to see the area as well.  We decided that since he would be here for, basically, one full day, that we should do a bit of the Catlins tour that I did a few months ago.  It was a lovely day, although a bit chillier and, occasionally, rainier than the previous trip.  Of course, we are late into autumn and heading toward winter, here and, given that, the weather has been quite amazing!

It was really fun to watch Kate as she saw the ocean for the first time.  Like me, Kate seems to have the ocean in her blood.  In spite of the coldish weather, she insisted on throwing off her shoes and wading in the surf, collecting shells and digging in the sand with her hands.  To top it all off, we went to the beach with the penguin hide and managed to see 5 yellow-eyed penguins.  We caught a couple of them as they were waddling up out of the water.  Laura had her excellent camera and so she got a few pictures that were way better than the ones I tried to take with my Android.
Yellow-eyed penguin walking out of the water

Capital of Country Music 
The big trout in Gore
Yesterday, for our second weekend together, we decided to drive down to Bluff, stopping at Gore on the way.  Gore is "New Zealand's Capital of Country Music".  There is also a fabulous little art gallery and a few museums, including a "Moonshine" museum (which we skipped because of the admission charge).  While we were there, eating in a cafe, we suddenly heard a high-pitched voice behind us yelling, "Kate!"  It was a little girl from Kate's school, whom we had met earlier in the week.  This little girl is in the class younger than Kate's but I suspect she's on the older end of that class, while Kate is on the younger end of hers.  She seems to be quite a social butterfly and apparently, according to her mother, she was chatting about Kate all the way from Balclutha (about an hour's drive).  We laughed because, back in Livingston, Kate had gotten quite famous.  We'd meet people everywhere who knew Kate and we'd have no idea who they were.  It was funny that, after less than 10 days in the country, we'd drive an hour from home and run into someone who knew Kate!  She makes an impression, for sure.

The best part of the day was playing on the rocky beach at Bluff.  Unfortunately, Laura's camera battery died before we got there and I left my Android in the car so we didn't get pictures of what would have been just a classic Kate image.  Kate was dressed in a very fancy pink dress, one of her favourites.  I don't bother trying to get her to NOT wear such things when we go to play on the beach, because it's not worth the fight and it makes her happy.  She, of course, shed her shoes the minute we reached the beach and started frolicking in her fancy pink dress.  She climbed around on the rocks, picked up shells, and examined the very interesting sea life.  We even found 2 tiny hermit crabs.  Laura had picked up a couple of shells, thinking they were devoid of life, and suddenly saw tiny claws extending from them.  We put them back in the sand and watched them very slowly make their way back to the water and safe hiding places under rocks and seaweed.

Laura and I at the beach at Paptowai
We ended the day with some battered oysters and chips and a lovely drive home with a big almost-full moon periodically enshrouded in mist.  Tomorrow, Geyser will be joining us.  Another exciting reunion!   And then it's down to the business of seeing as much of New Zealand as we can, in case this adventure really only lasts a year because, believe me, a year is not nearly enough to see all of the amazing sites we've read and heard about!

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