Sylvia Park and Kiwiyo

It’s holiday time for Me AGAIN!!!! My original plan was to have 3 weeks off work while Ana and Kaik were in town. Later, my Kiwi-Mom and I decided to I would work Monday and Tues of this week and then still have Wed-Fri off. It worked well for all of us because the girls and boys were able to be entertained at the same time 🙂

When I was woken up (Ana let me have a decently nice sleep in) the weather wasn’t amazing so we decided it would be a good day for an indoor activity. The girls had never been to Sylvia Park Mall (the 2 floor mall that has some of its stores outside). Ana wanted me to be adventurous and drive without the gps. I had been before but Emzie drove so I wasn’t sure if I was up for the challenge. The drive was pretty straight forward once we knew what turnoff we needed to take. The girls and I had a pretty productive time at the mall. We tried not to stray from buying anything we didn’t need!

In the evening we picked Em up and headed towards Mission Bay. We were all missing Victoria’s Qoola (a frozen yogurt bar where you get to choose your own toppings and your payment is by weight) so we treated ourselves to New Zealand’s Kiwiyo. I wish you all could have been there. Ana always has a big smile on her face but while she was making her selections she was BEAMING from ear to ear. Our verdict being it wasn’t the equal or better to Qoola but it was yummy. We took our creations by the beach to eat.

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Emzie wasn’t too amused by all the birds that were closely watching us. We took advantage of the opportunity to practice our action shots and photo poses before calling it a night. We dropped Em off at home and promised we would pick her up again tomorrow. She gets Fridays off work so we ladies would all be bunking at my house for Friday – Sunday until we had to drive the girls to the airport Sunday morning.

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Thanks for reading and a special thank you to Ana for her active participation in the blog!
There will definitely be a blog for tomorrows sailing adventures!! 🙂
xox Amanda and Ana

Devonport

The boys are still on summer break so I had them from 7:30am – 4:30pm today.

3 adults to 2 children was a welcomed ratio for me! I let Ana and Kaik sleep in a little bit while I hung out with the boys in the morning. The weather wasn’t very sunny but we decided to still head towards the North Shore to Devonport. It took us just over 3o minutes to drive to the harbourside suburb of Auckland. We walked around to all the shops and located the one the boys were eager to revisit. There are lots of beautiful trees to look at. The boys had fun climbing in and out of them.  After our walk around we had a picnic lunch by the water. It was pretty cloudy after lunch but the boys begged us to let them go swimming. They were fairly convincing in sharing that their day would be ruined if they couldn’t go for a dip.

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This was beyond adorable xo

This was beyond adorable xo

 

Beach bottom cuteness xo

Beach bottom cuteness xo



After watching them swim for a short period we all hopped back into the car and headed to North Head. The boys got a kick out of sliding down the steep grassy hills on cardboard boxes. It was funny to see that there were other little kids doing it too! The boys bought their flashlights and we ventured through the old war bunkers.  The abandoned underground was pretty creepy. My six year old loved yelling and hearing his echo but the ten year old was getting uncomfortable with the dark hallways.

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The top had a nice view of the Auckland skyline where we stopped to take a few photos.

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After dinner, the girls and I took the girls to Countdown to check out the wine prices 🙂 After a quick grocery shop, we headed to Long Bay Beach to check out the parks and a wee beach walk.

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Today was such a GREAT WORK DAY. Fun with friends and the boys!
Tomorrow is another workday – Buddha Blessings to you all,
xox Amanda, Ana and Kaik

Beaching it inThe Bay of Islands (Day #3 of roadtrip)

Thursday January 10th (Day 3 of our Roadtrip)

We left Pukenui around 10am. We all had an earlier than usual morning as members of our hostel were super LOUD for a long time in the kitchen this morning. The large family did not realize it might be courteous of them to whisper if they were planning to cook and eat around 7 in the morning! Even though we started the morning off a little grumpy our moods all picked up when we realized it would be another gorgeously sunny day! We arrived in the Bay of Island after a fairly quick 2 hour drive. We drove straight here with no stops as we didn’t eye any Thrift Stores or souvenir type stores along the way. The Pickled Parrot Backpackers hostel is a very cute and quirky place that we are finding to be very cozy. We did find it very hard to spot from the roads as the signage was pretty small and minimal.  We are in a 3 bunk bed room and only 1 of the beds is vacant.

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We unpacked the car then went for a walk around the town lots of touristy stops. We saw the (noisy early birds) family that was at the hostel we were last at and had joked about running into. We all secretly hoped they weren’t perchin’ at the parrot like us! We dined on yummy fish and chips on an outdoor patio then walked back home. We were able to grab some cold drinks en-route to the hostel before jumping into our beach gear and heading straight to the beach. We had fun tossing a frisbee around and enjoying some drinks on the beach. It was pretty evident that we weren’t the only ones who had the idea to have a refreshing drink on the beach. The evening menu is any college students staple meal of: noodles, crackers, cheese and left over sandwich meat.

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We were easily entertained by Jenga and throwing in little rules and playing “never have I ever during rounds”. I have never played a more entertaining round of Jenga before playing with Kristy and Ana! Kristy was also christened with the new nickname of Kaik, which is pronounced cake. We went to 2 bars and really got to see there was not much of a nightlife on a Thursday night here. We played pool and tried to teach Emzie how to handle the cue. She wasn’t haven’ any of it and preferred to watch the 3 of us struggle through a game.

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During our first night on the town we can say we were fortunate enough to meet an Irish lad and unfortunate enough to meet 2 Aussie’s one of whom claims to have been a contemporary dancer…years ago. Without getting into too many details I can say we left the bar after receiving a “phone call” from another friend who wanted to meet up with us. After drinks, cowboy shots and 2 rounds of tequila shots we all got home safely. We were able to get into out beds and get somewhat of a good night’s sleep. The heat is so hot and is pretty harsh on the people who are stuck on the top bunks but we are managing. We DO keep the windows open at night but all the moths and flies love to LAND on our bodies. NOT fun.

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Complimentary breakfast is offered from 7-9 daily so we all plan on taking full of advantage of the free food. Tomorrow we have another beach day planned out. It’s a hard life sometimes 🙂 I forgot to mention that Ana did an excellent job of taking Myrtle for a quick spin yesterday. She did a wonderful job of staying left and working the indicator lights! Proud of her.

Thanks for reading – and I hope the snow isn’t too much of a nuisance for those who are getting lots of it right now.
Lots of warm thoughts to you all,
Amanda

Jungle by the Sea

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Today when we woke up it was cloudy so we were a little discouraged but decided we would head to the beach anyway. We chose to go to Piha instead of Muriwai because there was a nearby waterfall we were keen to see. We headed out through the windy road to Piha. It was a blue sky but definitely a very windy day. We spent our time walking along the beach (burning the bottoms of our feet because the sand was so hot), climbing Lions Rock to get a great view and many photo ops.

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Emzie and I are getting really good at perfecting the action shots…we make a great team she snapping and me jumping.  After our climb down we got to enjoy a scrumptious picnic followed by a quick lay down on the beach. I have burnt my shoulders and back pretty badly so I resorted to covering my body with a towel today. The girls commented that they don’t think I can get any darker…their comments pleased me. I lurve being dark!

Next we ventured off to find the Kitekite Falls. After finding the right road to park on, it was an enjoyable forty minute walk through jungle like greenery and a lot of uphill walking. The mini hike exhausted us all. In the end it was worth the walk because the three tier waterfall was gorgeous. The falls were pretty crowded with other swimmers and photographers so we didn’t quite get the secluded waterfall experience we were hoping for. There was a pool at the base of the falls it which we all decided to swim in regardless of the temperature (which was quite cold). EXTREMELY cold. I feared my legs were going numb but the girls encouraged me to breathe through the numbness!

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Tomorrow is our rest and organization day before our 5 day roadtrip to Cape Reinga, Bay of Islands and Goat Island. Not sure how much access I will have to free internet so it may be awhile until my next blog post. This everyday blogging can’t last forever J

Again, thanks to our beautiful Ana for pitching in and helping with the blog.

Buddha Blessings
xox Amanda + Ana

P.S. Kristy is going to share some cool stuff in the next blog. Can’t wait. Thanks for the great blog title too. The photos shared today were a combination of all four of our cameras. It’s great to have a variety of pictures to chose from!!!

Happy 2013 Everyone!

Monday December 31st, 2012
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The Whitley’s and I spent the last day of 2012 together at Takapuna beach. The weather was absolutely gorgeous. We packed the best lunch ever (cheese and crackers) and were able to fill the day with swimming and tanning. My allergies have really been acting up lately so I chose not to wear my contacts to the beach. Unfortunately I left my eye drops at home and my eyes started to dry up so much that they started closing up. Luckily the shops were nearby for Emma and I to buy another bottle of drops.  When we thought we couldn’t take the heat anymore we paid a visit to the Whippy van 🙂 The beach was FULL of other families but there was still plenty of room for us to spread out and enjoy the afternoon.

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After a quick stop at the liquor store we all went home to shower and get ready for our evening. Emzie was wonderful at helping all the ladies with their hair and makeup. We had to run for the bus at the top of our bus — running in heels made for an impromptu workout and big laughs. The bus ride was around 40 minutes downtown. It was bumpin’ downtown and were lucky to get into The VGrill (Viaduct Grill) without any wait. O’malley and I split the stuffed duck meal and slice of cheesecake. We made incredible choices that night!! After dinner we struggled to find a place to settle down and share drinks before the midnight fireworks. Finding space that fit 5 people on New Year’s Eve was not the easiest of tasks! We went to a few places before walking across the bridge around 11pm to find seats to enjoy the fireworks. The fireworks were shot off of the Skytower. Knowing how often New Zealand has fireworks, we were a little underwhelmed by the evening’s fireworks. Not saying they were good but I was expecting amazing for the number of people that came out to share in the countdown and display. The show only lasted a handful a minutes before we were hailing a van-cab. O’malley snagged one super fast and we were back home really quickly..considering all the traffic

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Tuesday January 1st, 2013

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My 2013 began impressively. I slept in and then headed off to the beach again. Takapuna is a close drive from the house so we headed back again. We settled down by some prime seating on a grassy area. We had planned on renting a couple of paddle boards but they were closed for the day. The waves weren’t impressive but we enjoyed our boogie board time together. Emzie treated us to some yummy Starb frapps…definitely a great way to start this year. We ended off the night by enjoying delicious cesar salads and prawns.  Of course we had to end the night with a family bowling match!

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Wednesday January 2nd, 2013

It was the Whitley’s 2nd last day in New Zealand so we spent a little time in the morning cleaning the house and packing their bags. Momma Whitley had made reservations for the five of us to dine at the Skytower ‘s restaurant at 2pm. We left the house early so we could do some last minute downtown shopping. The Skytower buffet is on the 3rd floor of the tower so we weren’t given much of a view.  I was pleasantly surprised at how much food there was. What shocked me the most was the dessert bar. There was a full cheese spread and CANDY table to create your own vanilla sundae. The only SHOCKING thing was the receptionist asking me if I was over  FOURTEEN YEARS OLD. She asked everyone if they were over FOURTEEN. And then singled me out and said, “Really? You definitely don’t look it” I was completely shocking as I was dressed in a dress and had a full face of makeup!! DO I actually look fourteen?! I guess maybe I do….?

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Thursday January 3nd, 2013
Ana and Kristy arrived today!!
Emzie and I were both up and awake around 4:15am so we could scoop the lovely ladies from the airport. Their plane was supposed to arrive around 5:30 but arrived a little bit earlier. It has only been a day since their arrival but we have already spent lots of time planning our upcoming day trips.

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Whitley’s leave today
Their flight was scheduled to take off at 8pm so Em and I drove them to the airport for around 5:30.

It rained on and off all day but the rain seemed to stop in the evening. We drove down to the viaducts downtown so the girls could get a feel for driving on “the wrong side of the road” and start warming up their cameras!

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Looking forward to continue this fabulous vacation!!! Lots of beach days in our future. I will post more facebook photos when I get around to it. Thanks for staying in touch.

Buddha Blessings to everyone. Trying to make the most of my time here. The time keeps FLYING by!!!
xox Amanda

–> Happy 1 year anniversary since our beautiful blonde – lush lashed Socks came to Victoria. CFCS would not have been the same without you. Thank you for rocking those socks  and being who you are. Gorgeous inside and out 🙂 Emzie, Ana and I promise to have an amazingly relaxing and fun filled beach day on your behalf today!!! Much love babe!

Endless thanks xox

Thanks to all those who have shared their kindness and motivational words. I love reading comments and receiving emails and texts. With a smile on my face I can happily announce my spirits are soaring high these days. My slump is over. It’s so comforting to realize that people are interested in my life. A dear friend of mine who I have known for years (who I think fondly of despite rarely keeping in touch) emailed me to tell me “I’m so very proud of you and the adventure you continue to be on”. I can’t express HOW heartwarming it is to receive such expressions of love from all of you!!!

Sorry for the lack of posts recently. Not a day goes by that I don’t feel guilty over my laziness. I would like to post smaller updates so I am updating more frequently– but it just hasn’t been happening lately. I THINK ABOUT my blog EVERYDAY…please note that I am always going back and editing my blogs. No matter how many times I read over my post before submission; I always find errors once it’s been posted to the site. So within a few days of the original post I  have edited at least a few times…I still comb over my early posts and correct errors!

A family member sent me this message: “I hope that you will keep up with your blog, as you have a real gift for writing”. It made me so proud of myself because I have always enjoyed writing. I try hard to keep my work  reasonably structured. I try to follow the basic rules of grammar. That said -I prefer my writing take the flow of sounding like the thoughts in my head more than literary works. I wish for my writing style to come across as natural, connecting and sharing my thoughts expressively through writing.  (I hope that made sense!!!)

Now to share my happy news with you! I am no longer residing in a hostel. My quest to find a friendly kiwi family to live with has PAID OFF! I was finally able to: take down my job postings, stop submitting electronic resumes and meeting up for interviews. What a relief. I moved to New Zealand to be an Au Pair and for a while I was wondering if I would ever find another family.  

I live in Torbay, New Zealand which is located near a handful of beaches. Less than 15 minute drives from my 3 floor house. My room is located in the basement which will stay the coolest come summer. I love the trampoline, basketball net, and PALM trees in my front yard! I feel so fortunate to have found the family I did. Such a vast difference from when I moved here almost 2 months ago. I am just so thankful I had the courage to recognize ENOUGH WAS ENOUGH and it was time to seek out a better opportunity for myself.  I have a lot of people to thank for their strength and endless support during those trying times. I’m so glad I listened to everyone and took your advice to heart. Thank you for believing in me! My homecoming started off so warmly with the Mom baking a cake for dinner the next evening.

I feel like my life is quieting down and I am settling into a comfortable routine. I mentioned in an older post that Emma and I were able to enjoy a lovely day at the beach a few weekends ago. It is exciting to know we have many more beach days ahead. I can’t wait for December and January to BE HOT AND SUNNY. Dream come true for this (not brown enough) body. The browner the better. I am seriously addicted to the sun.  

I promise you all—more blogs to come.
xox Still Smiling!
Amanda

–> Let me know if you ever have any blog suggestions or requests.
—>Feel free to send me any questions you may have 🙂

Summer is near…

The sun was OUT in full force today and summer is definitely just around the corner! I had an amazing day at the beach and can’t wait for another sunny day tomorrow.

I have a few posts in the works so updates should be coming soon…
I haven’t updated facebook photos but I have been updating the apad album lately.

Thanks for keeping in touch. My spirits have been high this last week 🙂
Keep yours UP too Bizz love you!

Keep Smiling,
Amanda Sumalee