Back in Sumner

Trip Start Dec 23, 2009
Trip End May 25, 2010

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our Sumner Bach

Flag of New Zealand  , Canterbury,
Monday, March 8, 2010

Kia ora!

We have settled into our little life at our beach apartment in Sumner.  The girls are both enjoying their school.  Savanna is in Grade 1 here (like our Kindergarten), and Maggie is in the local Kindy (preschool).  Savanna has to wear a cute uniform to school, though, of course, her hat has already been misplaced.  She had her first playover last week at her new friend Stella's house.  Maggie and I went too for afternoon tea.  Stella's family lives on the hills in Sumner (we live in the flats) on Ocean View Dr...and is it ever!  Stella's mom asked if we had a view of the ocean...I sort of thought we did until I saw their place.  But we love where we are and that we can walk to the beach in 2 minutes.  The girls like to play there each afternoon after school or after dinner...we feel lucky. 

After her first week at school, we noticed Savanna talking differently...she has developed a bit of an accent.  I wouldn't call it a kiwi accent, maybe a combination between Hoosier and Kiwi.  Maggie corrects us now if we say 'trash' instead of 'rubbish'...and if I ask her if she has her lunch box for school she says, "no my tea box!"  Savanna drew a picture yesterday of me and her holding hands, and above it she wrote "This is Mum and me."  I love drying my clothes outside, and I'm still drinking tea five times a day.  Peter finds everything that contains passionfruit...chocolate, yogurt, juice, ice cream, etc.  Our favorite Kiwi phrase is "Good on you!"...said to you when you have done something good or right (such as when you put your daughter's tea box in the right cubby at Kindy, or you bring your own bags to the grocery), it makes you feel surprising good...  So we are all enjoying picking up a few Kiwi habits. 

The students are still doing well.  They are now in their homestays, internships, and formal classes.  Actually, today marks the half way point for internships and classes.  I can't believe that.  This is how our week usually works:  on Monday, Peter goes into Christchurch to University of Canterbury to teach his course and participate in the other two courses that the students are taking; Tuesday, I visit an internship with Chris and Jess to see how the students are doing there and what projects they are involved in; Wednesday, Peter's back at classes; Thursday, I'm at another internship; and Friday is a field trip.  In between, it's a lot of organizing and planning and grading and playing at the beach.

This past Saturday we went to the Lyttleton Farmers Market (great farmers market that brings back a lot of memories of going to the Oconomowoc market with you, Mom) and then to Godley Head on the Port Hills.  We hiked down to Boulder Bay where we found lots of Paua shells and green-lipped mussels.  Chris and Peter collected enough for dinners for us.  It was a special day. 

The previous weekend we took a weekend field trip with the students to Kaikoura (2.5 hours north of Christchurch).  It is a Green Globe certified town, known for its ecotourism focused on whale watching and swimming with dolphins.  It is a very productive sea area due to the mixing of warm and cold currents.  We spent most of our time looking in tide pools...they were amazing.  We even saw an octopus, which took a strong liking to Peter's leg!  On Sunday morning, we were supposed to take a boat ride to view some sea life, but due to a Tsunami warning caused by the earthquake in Chili, our plans quickly changed.  The students packed up our gear at our seaside biological station with amazing speed, and we all headed for high ground.  We had a beautiful view of the coastline from on top of the ridge and waited for a few hours to see the big wave.  Luckily, it didn't come (though I think we all wanted to witness at least a medium wave).  The whole thing has been oddly exciting to Savanna (which worries me!).  They had a Tsunami drill at her school, and ever since she keeps saying, "I can't wait for the big wave to come!"

Peter's parents are coming this Thursday for a 2 week visit!  Luckily they will be here during our students spring break, so we are so excited to show them around and to take a bit of a break from talking program stuff all the time.  We are planning to take them to the West Coast for a few days and then around the Christchurch area.  Also, they get to come on our Friday excursion to Arthur's Pass to learn some alpine ecology.  So they will get a chance to mingle with our students for a day!  Peter and I are hoping to get to a movie while the are here, too.

Savanna got an amazing package of Valentines cards from her classmates back home.  She loved them and so did Maggie...Thank you, Marianne and your class!  (Savanna is working on something to send back.)

One of my favorite things to do is to walk the girls to and from school.  It is a lovely walk, and it has become a really fun time talking with the girls.  But I am always lonely once I get to the schools and drop off the girls and have no one to talk with...I miss you guys. 

The weather finally turned here, and we have had several weeks of sunny summer weather with cool has been nice. 

Here are some recent photos, and then some of our last excursions on the North Island.

Sending our love to you all....

PS If you want to read more details on some of our activities including student responses and other photos, see this Earlham college site:
Slideshow Report as Spam


Anneliese on

Thanks for the update, Nicole! Sounds so idyllic, tsunami warnings and all. The girls are just adorable.

LauraH on

Thanks for all the great details of your life!!! It sounds busy and fun and amazing. It sounds like the experience of a lifetime! I can't wait to hear more in person. You are probably bored of hearing it - but we still miss you terribly! Book group is Monday and it just won't be the same without you. So come home soon! I need my Nicole back!

Hallie Mitchell on

I LOVE the update and the photos! I'm with mom & dad and we can't get over how beautiful and mature your girls look in the photos (especially the first day of school shots!!). My personal favorites are the one of you on the bench and the girls dancing at the river. How spectacular! I love your update and feel as though I'm with you guys...I miss you so much! I can't wait to hear the Hoosier/kiwi accent real-time. I hope you continue to have a wonderful time. Please send my love to Peter and the girls! xo, Hallie

Marianne Cope on

So good to hear from you! I loved the pictures of the girls getting ready for school. They look so happy and content. It is so good to hear Savanna has a friend at school. We miss her a bunch and she comes up in our conversations frequently.

We heard about the tsunami excitement. Your pictures bring back such fond memories. It seems from a distance that your time in NZ is flying by. I can hardly believe you are half way through the Christchurch portion of your stay.

Hope you have a good spring break with Peter's folks. Bill is off with John, Wendy, and EC students in Florida for spring break.

Give a special hello and hug to Savanna for me.

Love to you all, Marianne

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