Always remember the mayonnaise jar and 2 cups of coffee

A professor stood before his philosophy class with an empty mayonnaise jar sitting amid other items on his desk.

When the class began, he wordlessly proceeded to fill the mayonnaise jar with golf balls. He then asked the students if they thought the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

He then poured a bag of pebbles into the jar. As he gently shook it, the pebbles rolled into areas the golf balls couldn't fill. He asked the students, again, if they thought the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

Next, he poured in the bag of sand which settled into even more spaces.
Once again, he queried the students and they agreed the jar was full.

Silently, he poured two cups of coffee into the jar. The students laughed.

'Now I will explain this experiment,' the professor said.

The jar is your life.
The golf balls are important things like family, children, health, friends, passions. If you lost everything but these things, your life would still be full.
The pebbles are other things that matter like your job, the car or your house. If you lost these things, you could still go on.
The sand is everything else--the small stuff.

Now, if you put the sand in first, there is no room for anything else. As in life, if you spend all your time on the 'small stuff' there is no room for the really important things.

So, take care of the golf balls first. Set your priorities.

Play with your children.
Get medical checkups. 
Enjoy the garden.
Have a quiet dinner with your partner.
Nap on the couch with your kids in your arms.

The rest is just sand. There will always be time to clean the house or talk to online friends later.'

After a few moments of thoughtful silence, one of the students raised her hand and asked what the coffee represented.

The professor smiled and answered simply, 'It just goes to show that, no matter how full your life may seem, there is always time for a cup or two of coffee with a friend.'


Christmas at our house

We had the kids a few days before Christmas, so we surprised them with our gift-hunt in the yard garden on Christmas Eve morning. [I don't know how they did it, but both managed to miss one present that I found later!]

We had pizza on the beach in New Plymouth on Christmas Eve, where we saw some kite-surfers and kayakers having fun on the water. We then went to Pukekura Park to see the lights that are really fun every year. (See Hubby's The Reluctant Photographer's photos for pictures.)

I thought this sleigh in the Begonia House was adorable, even if Santa looks a bit frightened.

We opened our other gifts on Christmas morning and I made omelets for brunch. Afterwards, we went to Opunake so the kids could swim. There were lots of people having cook-outs and just chilling.

Here's my favorite view of Opunake Beach.

When we got back to the house, Hubby cooked Christmas dinner for us. [What a prince of a guy!] We had turkey, veggies and Connie's Sweet Potato Decadence (which is SOOO aptly named) Thanks, Connie!

All in all, a great time for all of us. And still weird without snow.


Merry Christmas!

May you enjoy love and peace with family and dear friends at these Christmas holidays!


being older than dirt and other stuff

It's very  seldom that I tell anybody my actual age because it's just a number and I really don't want to be judged by it. I have always told the children that I am 'older than dirt'--which makes them titter and satisfied with my answer. Well, before we moved, we took some flowers to our neighbor. On the way back, Otterboy and I were walking down the drive and he looks at his dirty hands. Then he smiles and holds them up for me to see the dirt and says, "Here ya go, Peachy (that's what they call me). I have some of your first friends."

I'm not sure why I never bought brown eggs in the US. I saw them in stores, but never bought them. There is no choice here. All the eggs in the store are brown. I guess they have different colored chickens here.

When I say the number '2500' aloud, I say 'twenty five hundred'. Here it is 'two and a half thousand'.

I still think it's weird that, in the words 'fillet' and 'debris', all the letters are pronounced. And 'cafe' is pronounced 'calf'.

I ordered some earrings from LuShae Jewelry. I can't say which ones because they are for a birthday present but was very pleased when I got them. The quality is something that impressed me (and that's not an easy thing to do!). Everything about them sparkled! The order didn't take long at all, even for being shipped to New Zealand.  Head on over there and check them out! Just click here.

So far,in our town, the water is paid for yearly by the home owner. They are slowly but surely putting in individual meters, but looks like it will be a while before that system is complete.

Funny how brand names are used on the same items. In America, a permanent marker is a 'magic marker'. Here it is a 'vivid'.

Any drink with lemon in it is referred to as 'lemonade' here, whether it's Sprite or the kids' drink Raro (Kool-aid).

I find it confusing when US and BBC programs use both metric and imperial measures. Mostly, it's metric here, but why don't they sell eggs by 10's instead of dozens? And photos are printed in 6X4 or 5X8 or 8X10.

I'm still willing to sacrifice something huge for Italian sausage for a pizza.

Have you ever heard of a 'green prescription'? Well, it's a weird (voluntary) thing set in motion from the nurse in the clinic. On a regular prescription pad, they 'prescribe' that you should exercise for health and weigh loss [this paper you should keep on the fridge]. Then, they turn your name in to a local group who calls to give info on all the activities you should be interested in (but you're not, really) and discuss your limitations and suggest things you can do (but probably won't). Maybe I'll get motivated after everything is put away.


hawera push bike pub crawl 09

I had never heard of a pub crawl before I got here--the things I learn! The Hawera pub crawl has been in the newspaper for a couple of weeks now and I find it quite fascinating.

The Hawera push bike pub crawl is an annual even that started 32 years ago with a few friends and has exploded to nearly 2000 participants this year.  It's so big that the powers that be want to shut it down as a traffic hazard, but it has a life of its own. Nobody legally takes responsibility for it any more, so the Police don't have much recourse. There were 4 South Taranaki police cars and one paddy wagon in Normanby along with lots and lots of official people stationed along the route.

I stood by the road for about an hour and took photos as the crawlers pedal powered between Hawera and Normanby.  I saw Snow White, escaped prisoners, Ghostbusters, fairies and bees. I even saw Santa and ET!

Yes, this is pedal powered!


Easy, peasy Christmas traditions

In case you missed some of my very first posts (I'm sure that includes everyone but one friend in the US!), we started some great Christmas traditions here.

First of all, we do not give clothes or other necessities as Christmas gifts (unless it's something super-special). I recall too many Christmases when there was nothing fun, only clothes. I know my folks didn't intend to warp me with their 'Christmas', but I have no intentions of passing those feelings on.

Hubby and I now decide during the year what our Christmas gift is (when we buy it) and I just wrap up some candy or something small to unwrap with the kids on Christmas Day. 

Missy thoroughly enjoys getting a 'certificate' to go shopping with me at some point after Christmas to buy some special clothes or CD's or whatever she really wants and have a 'just us girls' lunch out. I'm glad she's so easy about this since we all know teenagers are so hard to buy for. 

Otterboy does enjoy his trains that Hubby built for him, and our newest model we are building is N scale. So, we buy cars and accessories for the layout during the year. 

I don't remember how it got started, but, since it's summertime here in the southern hemisphere, we now have the tradition of having an outside 'gift hunt' instead of putting gifts under the tree. They are just silly things like bath soaps and pencil sets along with drawing paper and silly string and other things from the $2 shop or the Warehouse (NZ's answer to Wally World). They find all the hidden gifts then bring them inside to unwrap. And, gladly, these are also things that can be collected throughout the year.

After the gifts, we go to the beach and usually stop for ice cream.There are definite advantages to having a sunny, hot Christmas! 

But, it's still a bit weird.


Everything's moved

Now, I just have to figure out where it all goes!

And, as anyone who has ever moved in their life has said, I didn't know we had so much stuff!

Our first move was just after I got here when I only had three suitcases of stuff and Hubby just had 3 tiny rooms of bachelor stuff. I must say that three years changes all that!

Patheticat, AKA Bubba, did not like the move at all. We got him to the new place and he promptly spent 24 hours under our bed. Then when he did--neurotically--venture out, he spent another 24 hours gone. I don't know if he was punishing us for changing things or was just too afraid of the neighbor's chihuahua to get back home. The good news is, he is pretty much accustomed to the new surroundings and I am thrilled with everything in the house.

The keys in the picture below are from our old house and our new house [before we asked to have the locks upgraded]. Now, I can't remember the last time I saw any keys like these in use in the States. If you have used a 'skeleton key' lately, I'd be pleased to hear from you in a comment.

In discussing this with Hubby, who knows a LOT of stuff about NZ, I found that the districts were allotted 12 different keys for houses way back when. It seems that if you knew what you were doing, you could make a master key by filing one just right. Now, if that doesn't make you feel a bit insecure, I don't know what does!


more of NZ trivia

  • Rumor has it that the first European to see the country was Dutch navigator Abel Tasman in 1642.
  • There are more golf courses per capita than any other place in the world.
  • Less than 5% of NZ population is human.
  • Australia has Vegemite; New Zealand has Marmite.
  • Almost 1/3 of the country is national parks.
  • Little Blue Penguins visit NZ from other Oceania waters. They come ashore at night.
  • The Tohunga Suppression Act of 1907 made it a crime to mislead Maori by professing to possess supernatural powers.
  • Tourism accounts for 10% of Wellington's annual income.
  • John Butler was the first ordained clergyman to settle in NZ as a missionary. In 1820, he supervised the first plowing of NZ soil.
  • There is a city called National Parks.
  • People have been admiring the glow-worms of Waitomo Caves for over 100 years.
  • Although an area of the country, a pass and a river are named after him  (although spelled differently), James McKenzie's date and place of birth are unknown, as is his ultimate fate. It seems he served time for sheep rustling in 1855 and served time, but escaped twice. After being recaptured and serving 9 months of his 5-year sentence, he was pardoned and never heard from again. It is believed he went to Australia.
  • NZ has more bagpipe bands, per capita, than Scotland.
  • Frying Pan Lake, in the north island, is the world's largest hot water spring.
  • Election day is not a set date. The PM decides the day for each election.
  • Legend has it that the Beehive, the legislative building in the capital city, was actually designed on the back of a cigarette pack as a joke and was never intended to be built.
  • The only place in the world where two different sea levels can be seen at the same time is at French Pass, on the northern side of the south island.
  • Hokey Pokey ice cream is a national favorite.
  • In 1868, the Battle of Addisons Flat never happened.
  • Initially, NZ was a dependency of New South Wales. When Australia formed the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901, NZ declined to join and became independent.
  • The Buzzy Bee was originally made in NZ.
  • 'Dancing sand' can be seen, only by permission to dive, at Waikoropupu Springs, the world's largest freshwater springs by volume.
  • In 1969, the voting age was lowered from 21 to 20. In 1974, it was changed to 18.
  • The city of Auckland has the world's most privately owned boats of any city in the world.
  • William Pickering was born in Wellington. He became director of the Jet Propulsion Lab in California, which produced the first successful US earth satellite.
  • Baldwin Street in Dunedin has the steepest grade of any street anywhere.
  • The last time a prisoner was put in irons in NZ was in 1897.
  • John Pawelka was a very elusive prisoner, having escaped from custody on several occasions. His last escape was from Wellington's Terrace jail in 1911 and he was never seen or heard from again.


Not something you see every day

In fact, it only happens once a year. It's the annual collect for the Salvation Army!

Volunteer firemen drive the trucks around town with the sirens blaring as people walk along and pick up the parcels that have been left by the mailboxes letterboxes. As we watched this truck go by, we actually saw cars slow down and hand bags of goods out their car window to the runners.

It kinda brings a little tear to your eye to see the smiles on the runners faces as they jog by.



Blazing glory

The kids and hubby decided I needed to watch out for Blaze, since they wanted to see what it's like to have a dog. Of course, they didn't think past any of them not being here, so guess who got stuck for a week?

She's not bad, if you like needy, pathetic dogs. Of course, her neurosis has it's uses, since I know she won't run away--she can't do that and be touching me at the same time.

Having her for a week while I am trying to pack up so we can move next week, attending end-of-year school functions, ATC mess dinner, awards prize-givings, bake cakes for the Scouts fundraiser (which I will NOT be involved more than that) and do all the daily stuff that needs doing--laundry, dishes, cooking...and, I was just reminded that Hubby and I both forgot our anniversary in all that was going on!

...yeah, it's a breeze. [Where is that sarcasm font when you need it?]


hairy hot dogs!

Hubby found this recipe on the internet somewhere and the kids loved making their own!

You just stick uncooked spaghetti through hot dogs (they are 'frankfurters' here) and boil them until the spaghetti is cooked. This is what the process looks like:

Here is one of Otterboy's 'mohawk' hairy hot dogs!

Here is one of Missy's hairy hot dog masterpieces!

They were fun to eat!