Friday, September 26, 2008

P caught doing meths at school!!!

Today is the last day of term three for P, so we are off to the beach to eat fish and chips (pronounced: fush and chups) and celebrate! She gets 2 weeks off for school holidays (as vacation is known here), then heads back for the final term of year 6.

Whew! Every kid feels like summer will never come and school will never end but for P this year it really is true! She hasn't noticed yet that this has been the longest school year ever, and that by the end she will have spent sixteen straight months in school!

The grand finale for term 3 was a musical production by the year 6,7,& 8 students called A Knight's Tale. I saw it twice, and I must say: I laughed, I cried, and it was better than Cats. Actually, it was better than most of musicals I have seen (though I really did like South Pacific).

The Production, as it was called during production, was set in medieval times at her school, and was a fun mix of Monty Python's Holy Grail and any number of Disney princess movies (witches, curses, weddings, ladies in waiting, knights, wizards, trolls, happy endings...) with a soundtrack by Elvis, Madonna, Abba, and whoever sings that I Will Survive song. Try-outs for the lead roles happened before P started at this school so she got to be in the singing and dancing chorus. She did a great job!

I remember being in the school play when I was P's age. I was a pilgrim. It was not a very high quality production and was only entertaining to the people who loved us. P's school production was fantastic, lasted 2 hours, charged for admission ($5 for adults, $3 kids), and drew quite large crowds!

This was no watered-down, just-for-kids musical, and is not something I would expect to see back home. One song was set in a tavern while drinking beer, another song made a reference to having a sex change operation, and two of the knights did a striptease in the forest (they only removed their socks, all in all a very tasteful striptease). This was a fine example of what it is like to live outside of the Zion curtain! (Another example: the University of Auckland's student newspaper just released its annual pornography issue. You can read it while sipping a beer at the bar on campus.)

On a somber note, P was caught doing meths at school. Turns out all the kids do meths here. I kept incorrectly calling it math, which I thought was merely spelled maths here and pronounced math, just like it ought to be, but no, it is correctly pronounced meths as P points out every time I mispronounce it as if I were still living in the old country. And in a funny twist, methamphetamine is called P here. I don't know why. So I won't worry about P doing meths so long as she isn't doing P.

We're off to read books, play outside, sleep in, and goof off on our holidays!

Sailing with ex-pats

B's boss has been out of town for the last month and, not wanting Hot Prospect to get fat and lazy, he let us take her out sailing while he's away. We've been sharing the love with some American ex-pat friends:

Meet Chuck. Nice guy from the Middle of the US, works with B. We have a special bond with Chuck as he is here alone, waiting for his Amy to arrive (also because the city looks so nice when filtered through his hair). Sailing is a nice pastime while awaiting your Amy.

Meet Tishka. Her family left Florida for NZ and arrived in Auckland just after A&P did. P was thrilled to find such a great friend waiting for her at her new school! Tishka really took to sailing so we invited the rest of her family to join us on a full-day sail around the harbor. Turns out they are a family of adventurers, so I predict we will have fun exploring Auckland/Surrounding with them this summer (while talking about how much we miss fresh mexican food, how much we don't miss The Election, and all the peculiarities of life overseas.)

Meet A&B, Happy Sailors, from the Western US. Happy ex-pats. Happy because B has such a great boss who owns such a great boat, and doesn't mind sharing (even with Americans!)!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Learning the Lingo

I think the Kiwi accent is darling. It is also very hard to mimic. In addition to a cute accent, the Kiwis have some interesting phrases that have taken some getting used to.

Yissss and Nawoough.
Yes and no are spelled and used the same way here, but they are said very differently. Yes is yis, just like the onomatopoeia yip, but with an s on the end that is lisped out for a good long ways. Yissss. At least four S's worth.
No is also a long drawn out affair with many hidden vowels. In the US when No is drawn out it generally keeps it's No sound, but here it gets all the vowels. Nawoough. This is the hardest one for me to mimic.

When talking on the phone here in NZ, it is common for the closing statement to be said loudly, and at least one octave higher than the rest of the conversation. The word bye is also drawn out a few seconds longer than what I am used to. It ends up sounding as if the person saying bye cannot wait to get you off the phone. This may be the case as cell phone calls are very expensive here, but as it is used on landlines as well, I think it is just the normal way of signing off. I try not to take it personally.

Sweet as...
This is perplexing phrase. When pronounced with a Kiwi accent it sounds like "Sweet ass," and it reminds me of something my Brother-in-law, JW, would say, but is used as "awesome!" or "cool." I find this phrase perplexing as it is an incomplete simile. Whatever it is that is cool or awesome is as cool or awesome AS... we don't know what. This is one of those phrases that makes me feel old.

This is my most favorite Kiwi expression. Heaps means a lot or very. What I love about heaps is that it is frequently applied to liquids. You can have heaps of rain and eat heaps of soup. When your water breaks you can have heaps of that too. If you are this whale, you can be heaps beached. Heaps is sweet as...

Meet the Varmints

We have been missing our Lola, and pet ownership in general. P especially so. Our lease says no dogs or cats, so we were going to get a fish. P wanted a Siamese fighting fish (for the flashy fins) until she made friends with an ex-pat from Florida. This family also had to give up a dog to move here, and now they are happy guinea pig owners. This opened up a whole new area of pet investigation. Guinea pigs are the one rodent I never had as a kid. They seem so squirmy and wiggly. And what about all those funny noises they make? Will I like those noises? I like the noises the creatures make in The Dark Crystal. Will it be like that?

We'll find out.

Here are the newest members of the family. Meet Daisy and Snippet:

I kinda wanted one with funny rocker hair (Abyssinian), but P saw these baby sisters and that was that. Daisy is the one with some brown. My favorite thing about her is that her ear is multicolored. Snippet has a snippet of brown but is mostly black with a white racing stripe and white feet.

They are still little, about 2 months old. Here they are in their exercise ball.

I was hoping they would run around in their exercise ball, but they pretty much sit like this for hours without moving. Not very exercise-y.
As for the noises - they are cute but hard to interpret. Is that a happy chirrup or an scared one? They seem to like it here with us, and they are fun to watch run around and gibber-gabber to each other. We'll keep them in the guest room when you come visit so you can enjoy all of their rumpussing and squeaking in the night!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Here are some photos of us sea kayaking last weekend around Mission Beach (for those of you who claim you never get to see US in our posts).

Straight ahead is Mission Bay. We live just up the road.

Orakei wharf and Auckland:

Looking from Mission Beach across the harbor to Rangitoto, NZ's newest volcanic island, and now a bush reserve (the kayak rental place offers tours to Rangitoto. That is our goal for next time, but I'm a little nervous about crossing the main shipping channel! Those cargo ships are HUGE!):

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Ode to L&D Nurses

I've been asked by friends and family alike if babies come out the same way in the antipodes as they do back home in the states. The answer: they do indeed. And while the healthcare system is wildly different here, midwifery is midwifery, and I'm happy to be catching babies again.

I miss my sister-midwives (I'm from Utah, after all), and I love hearing their stories as we move away from Utah and on with our lives catching babies and working with women all over the planet. I also miss my sister L&D nurses. I miss you personally (nights at work aren't as fun here without you!) but I'm also missing you professionally, because you see there are no L&B (labour and birthing) nurses here. This has been, far and away, the hardest transition for me to make.

Midwives here perform the role of nurses in the US in addition to being the midwife. (We're also the MAs, and sometimes the cleaners, but we never have to be the ward clerk.) They do not teach OB in nursing school here, so all antepartum and postpartum patients are cared for by midwives. So, nurses, you can just consider yourself midwives because you are!

At a typical birth in the states there would be a woman and her baby, a nurse, and a midwife (or MD). Usually there is a support person. Rarely, a pediatrician. Each person plays a part but the woman does most of the really important stuff, and the rest of us are just there to support her. Usually the midwife (or MD) catches the baby, but sometimes the woman reaches down and catches her own baby, and that is one of my most favorite things in the whole world! And sometimes the nurse catches it because the midwife (or MD) is in the loo or whatever. Once the baby is out the nurse has a million things to do, and has to do them quickly, but the most important job is watching over the baby and making sure it breathes for the first time just like it should, and if the baby seems a bit stunned the nurse starts resuscitation (CPR for babies). So nurses are invaluable. I should state that the role of nurse is sometimes filled by a second midwife at birth centers, so you don't technically have to have a nurse. The point is there are at two people at the birth - one focusing on the woman, one for the baby.

OK. So here, like I said, we don't have nurses. And, like the States, we have a staff shortage, so finding a free midwife to assist you as second midwife at a birth is difficult. I have yet to find one when I want one (but they do respond to the emergency light, and unlike the States only one or two people enter the room instead of 57, and the rest wait in the hall to act as runners if needed - I LOVE this). I haven't had enough births here to experience a typical one yet, but it generally goes like this: woman, baby, midwife. Maybe support person. Woman pushes baby out, I catch, and then I have a million things to do, including all baby care! The trickiest part is maintaining sterility, and I have yet to use less than 8 pairs of sterile gloves at a birth.

So far it is all working out and each birth seems a little less chaotic, but going it alone as a new midwife within a foreign health system in a foreign country, is certainly challenging and out of my comfort zone. I miss having nurses to formulate a plan with and get feedback from. I miss having another pair of eyes and a different perspective. So, L&D nurses, when you visit me in NZ plan to spend a day at my hospital so I can enjoy your company again (and so I can catch up on all the gossip!) because I miss you like crazy!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Finally: A Biking Post!

WARNING: Racy Content!
This post is dedicated to all you Lit riders back home.

Many of you have been waiting a long, long time for a BRAMPA biking post and I'm am pleased to finally supply one! And what this post lacks in actual biking, it makes up with provocative themes!

Last week I found myself downtown trying to buy a phone for our new house in Mission Bay. The main drag downtown is Queen Street, and while it is always a busy street I felt it was busier than usual.

Or perhaps this is just the usual lunch time rush?

But wait - people are lining up. clearly anticipating something.

And now the police are here! And more and more people keep coming! It's a parade, no doubt! What fun!

I ask the happy fellow next to me about what is happening, and find out that today is "Boobs on Bikes!" (Read more about this strange phenomenon and its controversy here, here and here.) As a feminist, midwife, women's health advocate and woman I am amazed at my luck! I call B to taunt him for missing it.

The crowd is getting very excited now. At 100,000 strong, my fellow Aucklanders and I have taken over the whole street. Will it become a Boob riot? I'm a little surprised at how involved I am in this adventure as I, 1- have my own breasts and 2- am exposed to breasts daily at work. Then it becomes clear that something is happening just ahead:

Oh, just the protesters! Nary a breast in sight! Disappointed (no Boobs, no Bikes. Boohoo!), and a little shamed, I continue on my phone quest. After all, if I had to choose I would be behind the banner and not on the back of a bike with boobs bared. Still, there is something about a parade... (or maybe it is just all the pheromones in the air?)

I'm ten blocks away when B calls me from the top of Queen street where he and his colleagues have come to see the spectacle. There are Boobs after all! Hooray! He taunts me for missing it.

I ran 10 blocks uphill (me!) elbowing my way through the crowds to get you the following breathtaking photos of 2008's Boobs on Bikes, Auckland edition (Personal Aside for la Hamburglar: I hear rumors of a Wellington edition...):

But first let's talk for a moment about the weather in Auckland in Winter, and what constitutes appropriate apparel. Average daily highs are in the low 50's. It is frequently windy and rainy (both separately and together). While some of the bystanders, below, are baring a limb or two, most are sensibly dressed in pants and jackets as it is COLD today.

Just look at all those men with cameras! Clearly something exciting is happening to Camera Left! Let the Boobs begin:

I'm not sure why they are riding on a tank, actually.

These hot babes were my favorite! and they have such nice breasts! But where are the Bikes?

There they are! Granted, these are not the "right" kind of bikes, but surely it will inspire some back home to make the necessary corrections for the SLC edition of Boobs on Bikes.

I am always baffled by the common combination of older, heavier, hairier, over-dressed biker man with younger, lighter, under-dressed woman on the back. Clearly he is unnecessary to this parade and is even impeding visualization of the Boobs. Perhaps riding a motorbike while showing your breasts to one hundred thousand people is asking too much though. Maybe these women could face backwards?

I see it is also possible to have older, heavier, over-dressed biker man with a younger, lighter, under-dressed man on the back, though I think this is a less popular combination. The crowd doesn't seem too interested, but I got several pleasing shots of these boobs.

Let me just reiterate: it is cold here. This woman was covered in goosebumps. Her mate was covered in oil. I know this because I was Front Row. Sometimes it pays to be a tall, pushy, American broad. I admire the dedication of these women in showing it all (and shaking it too!) on a cold winter day in Auckland. Can't wait to see what the summer parades are like!

And the finale! How fitting! I'm proud to see the American spirit so eloquently represented!

Stay tuned for Life of a Midwife, NZ Style (not just another boob story)!