Brown Eyed Girl Celebrates its FIRST BDAY

IMG_9550Thank you Thank you THANK YOU to everyone who has taken time out of their life to read my blog! It means the world to me to feel all this love from everyone!

WOW this blog celebrated its first birthday! To me –what is even more amazing is that I have lived in beautiful New Zealand for almost a full year. In 3 days, I will have been a resident for one year! While the time HAS flown by, I have shared in many joyous memories with my Kiwi families and Canadian friends! AND Sumzie 2012-2013 was amazing!

I had always planned, hoped and dreamed of one day moving to THAILAND. I am so happy to share with all of you that MY DREAMS ARE COMING TRUE>>>> I have booked my flight and only have 2 more days left before I fly back to the homeland. Ecstatic doesn’t even begin to explain my emotional state. I am beyond H.A.P.P.Y. I am busily trying to update the blog so that all my NZ posts are online before I leave the country. I will admit to falling MONTHS BEHIND but I have always had the intention of posting as much (if not all) of my travels with you all.

Thank you for the continued support. I bask in the love and support from all those that care for me! Looking forward to celebrating the blog’s 2nd anniversary with everyone 🙂

Stay happy and never stop dreaming!
xoxo Love you all,
Amanda Sumalee

We Will Take Her…The End

A few weeks ago my 10 year old son (who I Au Pair for in New Zealand) presented me with this homemade story….I could not stop smiling! I hope it brightens your day too 🙂 I am mailing this to Canada so I can keep it forever!


[Amanda Once upon a time there was a orphanage and a orphan called Amanda. and no one wanted her until the Henshaws and they said we will take her the end.]

I wanted to share that picture for two reasons:
#1 To express how much the boys and I have bonded, and how great of an experience Au Pairing can be.
#2 Just to reiterate HOW MUCH I love children. I love love love how expressive they are; so able to tap into their emotions. How creative they are. How imaginative and curious they are!

Deciding to become an Au Pair has been one of the best decisions of my life. I wanted the opportunity to travel and work with children. Being able to live and experience a “Kiwi lifestyle” has been amazing. I have always loved children and I am so happy my passion for a career in this field continues to grow. I would recommend Au Pairing to anyone adventurous enough to leave the comforts of their home! I have always been fond of children and quickly form bonds with them. These boys have been no exception. They will forever be part of my life.

While I was babysitting the boys tonight, the 10 year old asked me a very important question, “Would you rather be in our family or yours?” I carefully explained that if I had always been in his family – I wouldn’t have the brothers I have now. I wouldn’t have the friends and parents I have now. My whole life would be completely different. I quickly followed that up with, we will always be a family NOW. I have a Canadian family and a Kiwi family. I knew he was pleased by my answer because he gave me the cutest hug and smile ever!!

Besides all the memories; I have adorable pictures and recorded quotes the boys have shared. I am so happy that the older I get, and the closer I become to becoming a mother, the easier it’s becoming to save and preserve children’s’ things. Digital pictures, scanners, scrapbooking, iphones, video cameras that aren’t MASSIVE… There are so many more ways to capture and share the memories. Yay! One of my favourite things to do is look at old photos and videos of myself as a child.

Originally I had planned to post the picture and nothing else. I am glad I decided on this little blurb to follow it up. I hope this post gave you a reason to smile.

Tomorrow is my day off and I am excited to spend the day sailing with my Kiwi-Mom! Aren’t Sundays (off) great?!
There is always a reason to smile,
xoxo Amanda Sumalee

All Blacks for the WIN!!!

I had mentioned to my Kiwi Momma that I really wanted to attend an All Blacks game and that  it was on my New Zealand bucket list.  For my “Going Away Celebration” my generous Kiwi family treated me to a family night out at Eden Park! The Rugby game was All Blacks vs France and the first game of the 2013 season. The family along with friends all donned All Blacks gear and happily ate dinner before departing for the evening’s event.

It was definitely an honour to be among the enthusiastic crowd cheering on their Kiwis. I am proud to say I saw the team dance The Haka! The fans cheered so loudly! Here is a really short (and shaky) video of the end of The Haka: I wish that it lasted a LOT longer. OR that they performed it twice!! I felt like it was over in seconds! At times the game was a nail biter. We weren’t able to secure an early lead so there was always a bit of fear….thankfully New Zealand claimed a 23-13 win. After the game we were able to successfully weave through the traffic to arrive safely home. The game was being broadcasted on cable and we watched it on TV. It was a great reminder of how much more exciting and atmospheric experiencing sporting events live really is!

I know that I am very fortunate that one of the only rugby games I have been to was an ALL BLACKS game in New Zealand. I am so appreciative for my Kiwi family and all the experiences we have shared together!

Thanks for reading!
xoxo Amanda Sumalee

Thanks for all the BIRTHDAY Wishes


I was going to go to bed but I thought I should blog quickly first. Thank you to everyone who shared their birthday wishes with me. As always, it was a pretty awkward day with the kids shrieking how OLD 27 was. I encouraged them to stop saying the number but they felt the need to keep reminding me of my age 🙂 The family bought me pink roses and made me vanilla and red velvet cupcakes. We unwrapped gifts after the fireworks…well actually the kids unwrapped the presents and then showed me what I got. (I am pretty excited to see them on Christmas morning. They are going to be HYPER when it’s time for them to open their own gifts!)


Emma and I spent the whole day together. She really wanted to make sure that I didn’t forget it was my special day. She prepared me days before that I would not be allowed to sleep the day away because it was MY BIRTHDAY and a day to be celebrated. MY pleas to just sleep the day away fell on closed ears.  It was a pretty great that my birthday landed on a gorgeous Saturday so I had the day off work. We went to a restaurant close to the beach to have breakfast then quickly headed off too the zoo. Burma (the Burmese elephant) was out walking around which was a huge treat. Quite often she is in her glass house chained up to a pole so it was nice that she was roaming around. She came quite close to the wall so we were able to get some great shots of her. She still looks like a baby elephant to me but I have been informed that she is fully grown.




Kiwi Tree

Kiwi Tree

After we walked around the whole zoo we went and grabbed some caffeinated drinks. We needed energy to continue the celebrations. We went to the Christmas Wonderland. It is New Zealand’s biggest indoor Christmas forest. over 150 trees are uniquely decorated by different themes. It would have been nicer if the building was a little bigger because there were so many trees and people, strollers and kids all in one square building. Some of the trees were so cute. All the money from tickets was donated to charity!What is a day without a little shopping? We were both on the hunt for presents for our kids. My kids keep changing their minds on what they want for Christmas so I have yet to buy them anything but I am hoping to complete my shopping pretty soon. My homemade Christmas cards are finally done and I am hoping to get them all mailed off tomorrow. After shopping we drove to Brown’s Bay and got pizza to eat at the beach. How nice is it that I got to eat Birthday dinner at the beach in December! I can’t even complain that it was windy because the air was still warm.


We went home for a bit to swap photos and relax before the fireworks. I was able to send off a few birthday thank you emails and enjoy my flowers. It was the first time I had ever received flowers and I GOT two bouquets in one day 🙂 Emma dropped me off when it started to get dark out. I met up with my family  on the grass and we (the parents) shared in some bubbly and strawberries. When we got home the kids were excited to eat my cupcakes and open the presents. It was a really late night for them but it was a great end to the day.


Sunday (my Canadian birthday) I got to celebrate in my own way! I slept in with NO ALARM CLOCK (even though I could hear the kids running around the house I could just smile and roll over)! I hung out in my room reading text messages and facebook posts and got to chat a little with some friends. I went upstairs and had lunch and shared cupcakes with the boys. Pretty much my whole day consisted of lounging, playing with the boys and finishing my Christmas cards. The 6 year old tried to help me with my cards at one point so there are a few that…aren’t up to my level of perfection. There wasn’t much he could do to assist me so I let him put some stickers on the cards. Unfortunately when they were going on crocked I patiently tried to explain I like them to be straight and not clustered together. Eventually I let him peel them and then give them to me…production slowed until he got bored and decided to make his own!

So that was my birthday weekend!

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xox Buddha Blessings,

New Zealand Observations

I meant to turn my “Observations” into a post over a month ago but never got around to it. I can and can’t believe I have been living here for 2 months. Time is going by fast now but when I first arrived the days would DRAG ON.

Going barefoot is a Kiwi thing and I LOVE IT. The children frequently go to school with no footwear. Adults are often seen wearing jandals (they are not called sandals here…jandals. I JUST started using the word, took me forever to remember and say the word correctly). I don’t go barefoot when I am out shopping but if I am with the kids, at the beach or site seeing with Emzie I have embraced the bare feet!

Pluralization of words: Emma and I keep noticing that construction signs and advertising often (unnecessarily) make words plural. Naturally Em and I used to yell out every time we saw a sign. It is just so grammatically incorrect.  They appear everywhere so we are pretty accustomed to them at this point.

Lifts – In Canada I grew up calling them elevators. Here they are called lifts and they go sooo slowly. It is usually faster to take the stairs!

Roundabouts – They appear everywhere. In Victoria they are pretty sparse but not here.

U-turns -They are not illegal and people LOVE to do them.

Shoulder checking – everyone uses their signals if they need to switch lanes but NOBODY shoulder checks. It is just not done here. Emma and I were horrified when we first made this discovery! They just rely on their mirrors.

Gas stations are known as petrol -If you need to fill up your tank you need petrol. Pharmacies are called chemists and small shops or convenient stores are called dairies. They have ON THE RUN here which makes me want to run in and get a slushie or Tim Ho steep tea double double…but sadly neither are an option. You have to go in and pay at the counter. You can pay before or after but there are no key-fob options or credit/debit slots.

Driving the speed limit/car conditions -You really don’t see a lot of people speeding. Even on the highways people usually go the speed limit or below. I think a huge factor for this is HOW MANY opportunities people have to park their car on the road. So many streets feel so narrow to drive because there are cars parked. You quite often see car mirrors cracked because someone has side swiped them. It is also not uncommon to see peoples bumpers all scratched up. There are LOTS of accidents here. Emma told me that you do NOT have to have car insurance here so people choose to drive without it. If they have an accident they don’t bother paying the expenses of fixing their cars. (Out of the 3 homes I have lived at in NZ, at least one of each of their vehicles has noticeable damages from previous car accidents). Also there are electronic road signs that show you your speed as well as signs that warn you to slow down. They have “hidden” permanent radar guns that photograph your license and send you a speeding ticket in the mail if you are going to fast. I think most people know where they are and Emma and I rely on our GPS’s to warn us. I am pretty sure you can receive a ticket if you are more than 5 clicks over the speed limit.

Ethnic restaurants – I was just shocked to see how many different restaurants there were to choose from! Walking down Queen Street day after day had me seeing so many different food choices. It was just so unexpected.

Company names – A lot of products are called by the company name. Instead of what the item actually is. Some examples: Handy Towels (instead of paper towel)..ok clearly I will need to think of more.

Lollies – candies in general are called lollies: mints, suckers, gummy candies they are all called lollies by children.

When people are inquiring as to where Em and I are from they ask, “Where is your accent from? Instead of where are you from?” For some reason I find it far less invasive than:WHERE are you from? I also have people ask me what is your ethnicity? It’s a tricky question for me because I know people WANT me to say Thailand but I always answer with CANADA. And then they say oh really? Prodding me to answer born in Thailand but lived in Canada majority of my life. I am more forgiving of people in NZ asking me instead of Canada because none of my friends or family EVER got asked in Canada. Here Em always gets asked so I am not being singled out…for being brown.

The Sun – As I had been warned, the sun is very strong. At the children’s schools they have a rule that no child is allowed to play outside unless they are wearing a hat. When my kids go swimming they were wearing a shirt or a wetsuit to protect their skin from the sun. My legs get so brown so fast from just sitting outside reading or laying at the beach. I haven’t worn sunscreen yet but I am constantly putting lotion on my legs, feet and arms because they get SO dried out from the sun. Crossing my fingers that I don’t get any bad sunburns this summer. I have to drink a ton of water daily or I suffer from headaches.

Christmas FEVER – They start preparing for Christmas before Halloween is even over! Christmas decorations and carols galore. The newspaper is thicker then ever with all the flyers. I LOVE ITTTT!!!!!

I have not decided if I will add on to this post or post an observation 2. I know there are way  more things I could write about but I  really want to get back to my book 🙂

Sending you all happy vibes,
xoxo Amanda Sumalee