My first blogoversary.

A year ago, I started blogging. My theme was (sort of) “I moved to New Zealand, and it’s been a challenging journey.”

I chose to use my real name. And I told my parents and my friends about my blog.

I wrote about trying to fit in in New Zealand, parenting a child who is allergic to everything, and my marriage. And I spent a lot of time on my soapbox, pontificating about, you know, stuff.

In 2009, I was trying to find myself. Like, what does it mean to be an expat? If I have lived in New Zealand for eight years, am I still an American? Or am I a Kiwi now? What am I going to do next year, when the child starts school? What’s it like to be a wife, and do I even want to be a wife?

And I was trying figure out who I am on social media. What kind of blogger am I? Here are my favourite posts from 2009:

One of the best and most surprising parts of this blogging journey has been my readers.(Especially those of you who have been brave enough to come out and follow me publicly.) As always, I’d like to thank you for reading and for your comments. Wishing you all a happy and prosperous 2010.


Mosquitoes love me.

Mosquitoes have always loved me. Because I am sweet.

When I was five, my family moved to Southern California for the summer. There was a mosquito nest in my mattress. I think you can guess what happened.

When I was nine, my family went to Florida for spring break. Florida is a swamp, infested with mosquitoes. I was eaten alive.

Infested with mosquitoes
Do you know where else is a swamp? New Zealand. There are 16 species of mosquitoes in NZ. By this, I mean there are a lot of mosquitoes.

When I first got to NZ, Adam and I went camping. I got a couple of mosquito bites. No big deal, right?

I didn’t scratch those first mosquito bites at all. But they swelled up so much that I couldn’t walk. I had to go to bed for two days. For mosquito bites. That was before the child was born, when I could still get away with that sort of thing.

My life with mosquitoes
Apparently, the mosquitoes in NZ love my fine vintage of Northern Hemisphere blood. Or I don't have the right antibodies. I guess mosquitoes are my Kryptonite.

Now we have mosquito nets over our beds. They look beachy and romantic. And we usually keep the windows closed at night.

I bathe in insect repellent.

I have learned that it doesn't matter if I scratch the bites or not. They still get painfully swollen. As with so many other things in life, there is no need to be a martyr. I can scratch my bites until they bleed (sorry, that sounds a bit emo).

Anti-histamine is my friend. And winter. When all the mosquitoes die.

Photo credit: Te Ara

Edited to add. I'm getting invisible comment spam that I can't delete. Has this happened to anyone else?


Honest scrap.

Thanks, Jane, for the Honest Scrap award. (You are totally my new BF.)

Jane's blog Lights! Camera! Diapers! is like a bloggy version of Anne Lamott's Operating Instructions. It's that good. And I know it’s a bad financial year, but if you have $2, you can help Jane make a movie. How cool is that--helping make a movie? It's easy, and it's fun. Check it out here:

So, as always, I’ll be honest. I love Honest Scrap. Here are the rules:

1) Must thank the person who gave the award and list their blog and link it.
2) Share "10 Honest Things" about yourself.
3) Present this award to 7 (or so) other people whose blogs you find brilliant in content and/or design, or those who have encouraged you.
4) Tell those 7 (or so) other people they've been awarded HONEST SCRAP and inform them of these guidelines in receiving the award.

(Cue drum roll.) Honest Scrap, the Holiday Edition.
  1. I am bad at giving gifts. Birthdays, weddings, Christmas. If I am ever rich, I will hire a personal assistant to take care of my gift-giving.

  2. Every year, I say I’m going to get my Christmas shopping done in June or August. But it never happens. I’m always running around at the last minute.

  3. I have given up sending cards.

  4. At Wellington Road, we used to have an artificial tree. A few years ago, we donated that piece of crap to the school fair. We decided it’s greener (in NZ) to have a live tree. And it’s more fun.

  5. When I was five, I heard reindeer landing on the roof. (My parents didn’t believe me.)

  6. When I was seven, my mother baked the most delicious shortbread cookies, and we hung them on our Christmas tree. By Christmas, I had eaten all the cookies that were hanging on the back of the tree.

  7. When I was in high school, I still wanted to sit on Santa’s lap. I was either re-visiting childhood, or I thought it would be kooky.

  8. I wrap presents in brown parcel paper.

  9. I have always liked the Grinch and Scrooge. But the Ghost of Christmas Future can stay away. That shit is spooky.

  10. Even though it doesn’t get dark until after 9pm on Christmas Eve, I still light lots of candles. Christmas Eve is better than Christmas. Especially Christmas Eve night, when everything is finally done. It’s magical.
Okay, if you want to accept your award (no pressure), here are my nominees:

Aliceson from Feet Off the Table. She makes me laugh, she makes me cry, she makes me feel grateful for what I have. I love her.

Michelle from Harmzie’s Way tagged me last time. It's payback time.

Megan Rose from Frou Frou Frippery. She used to have a blog called Honest Lying, where she vowed to speak her mind. She is my inspiration. Except I don’t do crafty things like she does. Go look at her gorgeous holiday birds. Want.

My mother blogs at From AA to NZ. That’s right, my mother is a blogger. And she inspired me to start blogging. She’s funny, and she’s family.

Madame DeFarge from Bateau Banane. She is a successful blogger, and obviously a lovely person. Plus she seems to “get” my humour.

Jayne from InJaynesWorld. I just discovered Jayne. She is a celebrity writer, and one of my new favourite bloggers.

Chris from Daddy Needs Some Alone Time. I stumbled across Chris in the comments of another blog. He's a comic, and I love it when he stops by Wellington Road.

The End of Honest Scrap. (Cue curtain.)


New taglines.

I heart Ann's super funny blog, Ann’s Rants. Ann's post about new taglines had me spitting out my coffee.

Here is my riff on Ann’s tune. Without further ado, my new taglines for Wellington Road:

Wellington Road: Rants from a grumpy expat.

Wellington Road: Starring Pajama Girl as Herself.

Wellington Road: Where I write things that I really should keep to myself instead. Oo-oo-ah!

Wellington Road: Cheaper, more public therapy.

Wellington Road: I whinge so much you’d think I was a Pom.

Wellington Road: My glass is empty.

Wellington Road: Where sarcasm is the highest form of wit.

Wellington Road: I’m having an identity crisis. And so is my blog.

Wellington Road: My spell check is British.

Wellington Road: My husband used to call me Sweetness and Light.

Wellington Road: Everything is wonderful (when you’re on holiday).

Wellington Road: If I were taking Xanax, my blog would be very different.

Wellington Road: Witness the train wreck.

Wellington Road: If you think my blog is a mess, you should see my house.

Wellington Road: Bah, humbug.


Retraction. (Not really.)

Harriet the Spy
When I was growing up, Harriet the Spy was a book that I liked a lot. It’s about a girl who writes in her journal what she really thinks of people. One day, Harriet loses her journal, and her friends find it and read it. Harriet’s friends are hurt by what she has written, and Harriet must apologize (i.e., print a retraction) to save her friendships. Oh yeah, I identified with Harriet.

Well, Wellington Road is not a journal. Most of the time, Wellington Road is a humour blog. It's where the author rambles on about whatever is on her mind. Call it therapy, or call it procrastination. Especially when the author is supposed to be doing the dishes, hanging up the washing, or playing with Transformers.

If you have been offended by the content of this website (such that it is) because the author has:
  • flirted with satire;
  • wallowed in irony;
  • suggested you are neurotic;
  • complained and/or whinged;
  • made fun of a beloved national holiday, or
  • compared you to a sheep;
be advised that it really isn’t about you. If you believe that it is about you, let your voice be heard. Email your Letter of Complaint to the attention of the Standards Committee.

If your letter is funny enough, we may post it on the website. Or you can leave a comment on this blog. Don’t be shy. Anonymous comments are still allowed.

If your feelings have been hurt by a post on Wellington Road, most Kiwis would say you need to harden up.

But here at Wellington Road, we are warm and fuzzy. We care about your feelings, and we apologize for our mistakes (and, if necessary, we lie).

As such, from here on in at Wellington Road, self-deprecating humour is the order of the day. All mocking will be of Juli Ryan, the author of this blog, only. And perhaps some celebrities, politicians, and other random people and events.

But not you, dear reader. You are one of the reasons that we get up in the morning (other than coffee and the incessant demands of a child tyrant dictator). We will (probably) never mock you.


I’m a winner.

I did it. I finished my NaNoWriMo. I’m so excited to have written 50,000 words in a month. And in those 50,000 words, I almost completed the arc of my story.

Now I am gathering ideas for my next book . . .

Husband: Don’t you need to finish the book that you've been writing first?

Me: My NaNoWriMo was just practice.

Husband: But you spent so much time on it.

Me: Let's call it recreation. It was like watching TV.

Husband: (exasperated sigh)


A right turn in ghastly weather.

The weather was ghastly. I couldn’t see across the street. But I had an appointment with the hairdresser.

After the hairdresser's, I went to the supermarket (because people like to eat). Then I headed home.

To get back to the village from the supermarket, I needed to make a right turn* (from a give-way sign) onto State Highway 1 (a four-laned dual highway).

While I was waiting for a break in the traffic, the jerk behind me started honking his horn. HONK! HONK! HONK! HONK! Like I had fallen asleep, or like I was busy texting, and I had forgotten to turn. HONK! HONK! HONK! HONK!

I'm not going to put up with this, I said to myself.

I put my car in park, opened my door, and marched over to the jerk's car. He rolled down his window. He was a 20-something,.

"The weather is ghastly. I can’t see a thing,” I said. “You'll just have to wait."

"You've had three chances to turn," the jerk said. He was clearly not expecting to be confronted by a weird American lady.

It’s my call!" I said.

*Note: In NZ, we drive on the left side of the road.


I'm thankful I don't have to eat turkey.

This year I’m not celebrating Thanksgiving. It's practically summer in New Zealand, and I just don't feel like roasting a turkey.

But I might make a pumpkin pie. Kiwis are curious about pumpkin pie. Because in New Zealand, we don't eat pumpkin from a can.

I’m not sure why I celebrate Halloween, and I can’t be bothered with Thanksgiving. Maybe because at Thanksgiving, everyone in New Zealand is at work. Or because in New Zealand, Thanksgiving is a day early.

Am I supposed to celebrate Thanksgiving while my American family and friends are defrosting their turkeys? By the time New Zealand wakes up, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will be over. I'm not waking up early for a parade.

Plus, the American Thanksgiving is just too close to Christmas. At Thanksgiving, you have a preview of the same dinner you will eat again in a month.

We all know that celebrating the genocide of indigenous peoples is wrong. And at Thanksgiving you have to watch football (the boring game with the pointy ball).

On the up side, if you act thankful for just one day, you can make up for a year's worth of narcissism.


My NaNoWriMo.

I've been plugging away at my NaNoWriMo, writing my novel in just one month. By this, I mean I've written almost 50,000 words in November.

At first, writing was easy. With the help of my outline, I wrote, and I wrote some more. But last week, writing was more difficult. My outline didn’t make sense anymore.

I think I made a wrong turn. Then I lost the map. I might be in Nebraska.

Anyway, I'm almost finished with NaNoWriMo. 50,000 words isn't a novel (unless I just wrote The Great Gatsby). But it’s a start. For the truly interested, you can check my progress here.


DIY update.

Recently Last month, I mentioned some DIY projects that had not been completed at Wellington Road.

Well, I don’t want to brag, but my amazing husband Adam (who looks like Brad Pitt) wants me to give you an update. We now have:

a new bathtub and

a new washing machine.

But what will you nag me about? My amazing husband asked (sarcastically).

Don’t worry, pumpkin. I’m sure I’ll think of something.


Anarchy at the playcentre: another chronicle in mummy politics.

Our playcentre (the child's cooperative preschool) was unusual in the national organization. For a few years, we had no president. It was anarchy.

Having no president suited me well. I liked that nobody was in charge. The buck stopped with all of us.

During my three years at the centre, it grew from eight families to its current almost 30 families. We bucked the earlier trend of sending four-year-olds to kindy (Kiwi for traditional preschool).

Instead, we kept our four-year-olds at the playcentre, and we healed our centre from near death to a robust, healthy centre.

And Tuesday night, we "elected" our new officers. Thankfully, there was wine.

In a surprising coup, two of our members nominated themselves as co-presidents. Because last year, they didn't know what to do with the mail addressed to the president.

At the meeting, a couple of aristocratic members said that they wanted a president. The rest of the group blinked like a bunch of sheep, and said they didn’t know what they should do. I was the only dissenting voice.

According to our new co-presidents, the centre's "consensus" was in favour of their coup. My feathers are still ruffled. Why can't we all be presidents? A few people (who will be stuck at the centre longer than me) think they made a mistake. Um, yeah, ya think?

I feel like this:

Al Gore after losing the election to Dubya.
Photo credit:
Rolling Stone

Or possibly like this:

Helen Clark standing down as Labour leader.
Photo credit:
NZ Herald

Edited to add: Okay, so maybe this post was a bit whingy. If you are here for sunshine and light, you are in the wrong place.


High school memories.

Forgive me, I've got high school on my brain. This month, I am participating in NaNoWriMo. And my story has some scenes from high school.

Here are some of my favourite embarrassing memories from high school:
  1. There were over 800 students in my ninth grade class. We were all housed in one building. On Halloween, I didn't know we were now too cool to dress up. I was the ONLY student in my class to wear a costume. I went as a French maid, a hand-me-down costume from my mother, who was a French teacher (not at my school). I didn't understand the greater implications of being a French maid. I don’t think anyone else did either. The embarrassing part was just showing up in my costume.
  2. In ninth grade, I ran for President of the Student Council. The candidates got to make speeches to the student body. The class clown was also running. So I made my speech, and I said that (unlike the class clown) I wasn’t running as a joke. I was going to enact social change and make the world a better place for all of us. I made the class clown cry, and I lost the election (The class clown didn’t win either. But people felt sorry for him, and I was that mean girl. My speech teacher said he would have voted for me. That would have been two votes).
  3. Trying out for cheerleader. I went through this traumatizing experience twice. It almost deserves two spots on my list. I could not remember the cheers or the routines (done to Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”). I could not do the jumps, or the required back-handspring. And my cheering voice was so weak. But I was still crushed when I didn’t make it. I didn’t give a shit about football (American for gridiron), but I really wanted to wear that cute uniform.
  4. My audition for the musical. I sang U2’s “MLK”. My brother accompanied me on his electric keyboard. I made the chorus (so did everyone else who tried out).
  5. Writing a poem about my unrequited high school love, and publishing it in the high school literary magazine. There were only 100 students in my senior class. Almost everyone knew who the poem was about.

What is your most embarrassing memory from high school? And don’t tell me you don’t remember. These memories are burned into our brains.

Photo credit: asunners


Delusions of grandeur.

In my last post, I wasn't trying to sound popular. You know, with my mentions of readers, comments, and emails. Believe me, I am self-aware enough to know my place in the blogging pecking order. DON’T CHOP ME DOWN. I'm a delicate tulip.

I didn’t even like that last post. I didn’t intend to portray my husband in a bad light. Next time, I will ask Adam if I can write about him on my blog, because then I will write a much better post. It’s a win-win! And when I said Adam was shitty, I was talking about rainbows. And unicorns.

Sometimes, blogging (and all the other social media) feels like going back to high school. I still have a fantasy about being Homecoming Queen, finally making cheerleader, or getting a part (with lines) in the musical.

Just like in high school, sometimes I have hopes of getting into the “in” crowd. However, it is much more likely that I will be standing at the prom by myself in stilettos that hurt my feet.

(On my blog, I’m still that weird girl who writes bad poetry and wears funny clothes. Oh, wait. That’s who I am in real life, too.)

Next time: My top five most embarrassing high school memories.

P.S. I don’t have single photo of myself from high school. There aren’t photos of me on Facebook either. I’m just not popular on Facebook.

Can we pretend this is me then? Yeah, I’m Jeannie Bueller.

Photo credit: I'm sure it's subject to copyright. If you own the rights to it, and you don't want it posted on my website, just let me know and I'll take it down. Email me! Please?


I did not get permission to write this post.

After my recent post about Adam and his DIY projects, I received some interesting emails and comments.

Women said, Too funny, my husband is like that too.

Guys said, You’re not complaining, are you? I wouldn’t put up with that from my wife.

Adam was shitty that I wrote the post (which he hasn’t read, by the way).

Me: I thought you said I was allowed to write it? (I am supposed to get permission to write about him on my blog,)

Adam: You were supposed to write about the van. Not those other things.

Me: But those other things are funny. And I said you look like Brad Pitt.

Adam: (grunt of disgust)

It’s like he doesn’t even want to look like Brad Pitt.

Me: Do you want me to take it down?

Adam (sulking): No.

Okay, so maybe it’s in poor taste to mock your husband on your blog. It’s like cyber mocking, or cyber nagging. Yeah, it seems nagging is a bad thing. Nagging has a bad reputation. Wives are supposed to just suck it up, and maybe brainstorm with their husbands about how to get things done.

When did we go back to the 1950s? And if we have gone back to the 50s, why am I still expected to work outside the home and earn money? As a post-feminist, I’m raising my hand in protest. Then I’m going to go burn my bra, because I never really liked this one, but it’s the only one that fits.

Australian feminist pioneer, Germaine Greer.
Photo credit: Wikipedia.

Edited to add: Adam wants you to know that he WOULD read my blog, if he could get a turn on the computer. So, now I'm a nag who mocks her husband on her blog, AND I'm selfish. I rock.

Edited again to add: I am still wearing my bra that I don't like. Is that too much information?


Halloween is too American.

In previous years, when I have tried to get people interested in, say, a Halloween party with fancy dress (Kiwi for costumes), people have said, We don’t celebrate Halloween. It’s just too American.

Now their kids are older, and these very same people are like, We’re going to trick-or-treat. And did you know? Halloween is Irish, not American! Well, Halloween does have pagan roots. HELLO!

Halloween down under is just a bit silly, when the DAYS are getting longer, and all the flowers are blooming. It’s more like being in a fairy grotto than anything spooky. It would make so much more sense to have Halloween on 30 April.

For the last few years, I have played spooky music, dressed up as a witch, and jumped out and scared the 24 kids who stopped by to trick-or-treat. By the way, 24 is an epic number of beggars. So now I’ve got a reputation for celebrating Halloween. Hey, let’s go to that weird American lady’s house. I'm looking forward to a record turnout. I'd better go buy some lollies.

Spooky flowers. Boo!



Kiwis are so obsessed with DIY. Almost everything can be fixed with some No. 8 fencing wire. If you believe you are handy, you never hire a professional someone else. You want to Do It Yourself.

My husband Adam is very handy. And he looks just like Brad Pitt, except he is even more handsome.

(Sorry, I really don't want to brag. But Adam just told me to write all that. He is not going to earn all the money and mow the lawns and cook dinner and fix things any more unless I blog with integrity stop mocking him on my blog.)

I'm not allowed to hire a repair person. My hubby is the repair person. And like all repair persons, my husband does things “in his own time”. At least my husband slash repair person doesn’t bill by the hour.

Exhibit A. The bathtub.
Our house did not have a bathtub. A bathtub is a priority for the child (and me). So we bought a bathtub on TradeMe. And it has been languishing on the back deck all winter.

Evidently, the back deck is the new bathroom.

Exhibit B. The washing machine.
A couple months ago, my husband fixed the washing machine, which had stopped filling up with water.

The “fix” that I had imagined did not involve the garden hose.

Exhibit C. Remember the van?
The other day, I came home, and the van was no longer in the driveway. Hoping against hope that Adam had finally sold it to the wrecker, I glanced down the road.

The van needed a change of scenery, Adam said. And some No. 8 wire petrol.


Animal control.

The child and I are walking home from Playcentre. A nanny and her child are walking home with us. We pass the school, and all the school children are outside. It is noisy.

The child and his little friend are walking next to the school fence, about five metres from the footpath. A brown dog (maybe a Pinscher) comes bounding down the footpath. The dog runs down to the children by the school fence. A minute later, a woman appears on the footpath.

Me: Your dog is supposed to be on a lead.

Woman: He’s friendly.

Me: How am I supposed to know that? I don’t know you, or your dog. (In fact, I think I recognize her. It's a small village)

Woman: I called out to you.

Me: I’m sorry. I didn’t hear you. (angry at myself for apologizing)

Woman (calls her dog): See, he’s friendly. (The dog comes. She tries to get her dog to sit)

Me: It can be scary for small children, having a strange dog approach them.

The child: I wasn’t scared.



I am consistent, if not romantic.

Last year, I forgot our wedding anniversary. This year, I forgot it again.

I did know it was coming up. I just couldn’t remember the exact day. Is it the eighth? Or the tenth? I really need to start writing these things down.

Apparently, Adam had been waiting for me to mention it. And I never did. Our marriage, in a nutshell.

I never had dreams of a big wedding. We eloped. I wore jeans. Adam felt cheated out of a destination wedding, presents, and a big reception.

At first, we didn't tell people we were married. I think we intended to renew our vows and have a reception at some later date. It still hasn't happened.

Whatever. Five years of marriage. Go us.

The day after Adam and I first met (I forgot to develop our wedding photos).


Springtime can kill you.

Spring in NZ is like the second winter. Except I am trying to wear my spring clothes.

The fickle weather has turned rainy and cold, and I have cabin fever, and there are only a few sticks of firewood left.

Over the school holidays, I have been trapped. All the other mums seem to be full of energy. They are cleaning their houses from top to bottom, going on excursions every day, visiting extended family, and getting ready for Christmas. I feel so restless. I just want to fly away and be somewhere else.

Yesterday, I roused myself from my stupor, and a couple other mums and I took our kids to the museum in Wellington. There were a million people there. We looked at the exhibits inside for 30 minutes, and then we retreated to the cafe for lunch.

While we were in the cafe, we heard a rumour about another tsunami warning for Wellington. I was determined not to be neurotic. I’m not going to post any more silly status updates to Facebook, I said to myself. Because I have learned that people totally over-react.

So I texted Adam and asked him if he had heard about a tsunami warning. He hadn’t. He suggested that if we needed to, we could go to the top floor of the museum. Very funny, Adam.

One of the other mums was sort of freaking out too. She didn’t seem comforted at all when I said that a tsunami in Wellington would be like a snowstorm in Miami.

She said the wave could wrap around the North Island, and we agreed that it is the force of the wave, not the height. And we didn’t even have our civil defence supplies with us. And the museum is RIGHT ON THE HARBOUR.

The other mum called some of her geologist friends and asked them about the tsunami, but her friends didn’t reply.

Meanwhile, we were looking at the outdoor exhibits with the kids. I hesitated. I suppose I could ask Twitter, I said.

I tweeted:

And five lovely people on Twitter replied straight away, and they all said the warning had been cancelled. And I told the other mum that very reliable people on the Internet said the warning had been cancelled. And she was all, OK, but I think it’s time to go home now.

I tweeted:

Because Twitter is awesome.

And then I was left once again to ponder important things like, is cancelled spelled with one or two L’s, and why does it seem like Jay McInerney is writing everyone else’s blog. Story of my life.


Tsunami warning!

This morning, after the big quake in Samoa, NZ woke up to tsunami warnings.

On TVNZ’s Breakfast, the Civil Defence spokesperson was asked what we should do.

“Er, I guess you need to turn on your radios and be ready to evacuate," the poor guy stammered. If you are going to be a spokesperson, please have a way with words.

I live a block away from the beach. A tsunami is possible in my area. My phone book even has a helpful section about what to do if one lives “in a zone at risk":

Is that a tsunami? Quick, run for higher ground!

Some people in the village have told me they are worried about what to do in a tsunami. Ironically, these same people are not prepared for an earthquake.

An earthquake is extremely likely in the village. Since, you know, we live on a FAULT LINE. A tsunami is just a little more likely than, say, a snowstorm in Miami.

- -
I made the mistake of posting a status update about the tsunami on Facebook:

The tsunami is unlikely to affect my area. I'm still ready to evacuate. Because I'm neurotic.
Most of the comments that I received were variations of “Thinking of you” and “Keep safe”. I am concerned that my friends on Facebook don’t “get” my sense of humour.

- -
As usual, the tsunami in NZ turned out to be Much Ado About Nothing. The first wave to hit NZ was measured at about 40 cm (15 inches).

Bracing for the tsunami on the front deck at Wellington Road.

Edited to add: You can help the victims of the earthquake/tsunami in Samoa by making a donation to the NZ Red Cross.


The child refuses to nap. At least it means an early bed time.

I was born in the 70s. For those of you too young to remember, just imagine Women’s Lib and Dr. Spock.

When I was growing up, my mother often said I wasn't getting enough sleep:
  1. You're grumpy! You haven’t been getting enough sleep.

  2. You're sick! Not enough sleep.

  3. You and your friend painted my bedroom dresser? With nail polish? Definitely not enough sleep.

Not getting enough sleep caused all of my problems.

When my brother and I were little, naps were mandatory. I was never tired. I didn’t want to stop playing with my Barbies. But my mother forced us to go to our rooms and have a lie down. She was so mean!

If we didn’t lie down quietly in our own beds, my mother made us lie down WITH HER in her bed. If this happened, I absolutely refused to go to sleep. I was very STUBBORN (or so I have been told). I lay in my parents’ bed until my mother finally got up, and then I got up too.

My brother was not so lucky. He tried very hard not to fall asleep, but he always failed. And the poor kid didn’t wake up for HOURS.

Now I am a parent, and I am determined to Do Things Differently. I don’t force the child, age 4, to lie down for Quiet Time. He is allowed to play quietly in his room.

But sometimes I feel a nap would be beneficial. And if I lie down with the child, sometimes he will go to sleep.

Most of the time, however, the child refuses to go to sleep. He is so mean! He wiggles and fidgets and wanders off to go get something, or go for a poop, or get a drink of water, until I finally give up, and QUIET TIME IS OVER.

Then I am cross, and I feel out of sorts for the rest of the afternoon.

So I finally get it. When I was little, those naps were not (necessarily) for me. And now that I can't stay up past 9:30, I understand why my parents put me to bed so early.

Parenting is such karmic payback. It’s a beyotch.


I’m not getting any alone time.

At Playcentre, the child is all about playing with his friends. Playcentre is where play dates get arranged. And I can drop him off and get some alone time.

It is horrible when illness prevents us from going to Playcentre.

This week, due to a very minor illness, we stayed home alone for two days. I was going out of my mind.

Lately, when I am playing with the child (and his Transformers), I get bored distracted so easily.

I want to tidy up, or have a cup of coffee, or play on the computer work on my assessments.

If I try to do something else, the child orders me to PLAY!

I feel like a TV. The child wants me to entertain him. ALL DAY.

A friend said I just need to give the child five minutes. Then I will get an hour of alone time.

But if I give the child five minutes, he wants another hour.

I must be doing it wrong.


My husband hates eating out. At least he's a good cook.

We live in the boonies (American for rural area). There aren’t many options for eating out, or for takeaways (Kiwi for take-out).

Besides, making our own food (from scratch) is almost as easy as buying packaged, processed foods. Especially if my husband is doing the cooking. It is definitely cheaper.

And since I’m a control freak, I like to know what exactly is in my food. If I don’t know what an ingredient on the label is (more or less), then I probably won’t buy it. I like whole foods.

It helps to have a few time-saving kitchen appliances. Obviously, the microwave and the toaster. Here are my other must-haves:
  1. The jug (Kiwi for electric kettle)
    The electric kettle is CRITICAL to our daily operations at Wellington Road (eg, for the coffee plunger). I might have mentioned it before. Can't. Live. Without. It.

  2. The slow cooker
    And I love my slow cooker. You can throw dinner in it and forget about it. It's a good thing.

  3. The sandwich maker
    For toasties (Kiwi for grilled cheese sandwiches). A cast-iron skillet is nice, but the sandwich maker doesn’t require such close monitoring.

  4. The blender
    To puree soups. Or make hummus or pesto or smoothies. I really like the food processor too.

  5. The juicer
    I could probably live without the juicer. But with an organic fruit and veggie shop in the village, why would I want to?


Today is Father's Day in NZ.

Crap. I'm late for the international mail (again).

Hmmm, perhaps, finding cards in the shops isn't the problem.

Oh, well. Happy Father's Day.

Me: Isn't Opa a handsome bloke (Kiwi for guy)? Child: Opa looks kind of funny.


Suede loafers.

The child still didn't want these suede loafers from Pumpkin Patch. But I made him get them anyway.

Excuse me, do you have these in my size?


A very happy birthday to my dad, who likes trains just as much as I do.

Husband: I looked in here, and you were playing with the train set, ALL BY YOURSELF.

Me: Er, the engines really needed a Fat Controller.


Curtains flashback.

Rob brings up an interesting point in the comments of my last post:

What is it with Kiwis and neutral colours? Our house was all cream and beige when we bought it. Apart from the 1970s cream, yellow, green and brown curtains!

It's true. All over Wellington, there are these exact same curtains from the 70s. I know, because I have looked at A LOT of rentals. And a lot of homes up for sale. I am nosy picky.

At our last flat, I almost convinced myself these curtains said South Pacific. Behold.

Groovy! Cream, yellow, green, and brown. Can you dig it?

But I was distracted. With a baby this cute, I soon forgot all about the curtains.


I don't even like curtains.

It took twelve weeks for the new curtains to arrive. And then, another (gruelling) three hours for our landlords to hang them up.

I was away during our landlords' latest foray into DIY. Poor Adam was on landlord duty, and I am in his debt.

But I was with the child, at a children's birthday party. So I think we are even.

And magic, magic. Our new curtains are up. On three windows.

The curtains are from the very trendy (in NZ and Australia) Spotlight store. And just so you know, there really is no such thing as too neutral.

I love them. Believe me, it could be worse.


My computer was born again. Hurray!

After nearly killing my computer, I’m still feeling quite tender about it. I want to give it big cuddles and lots of kisses. I’m so glad you’re okay, baby! I love you!

I really don’t know what I did. It might have had something to do with the router. Which stopped seeing my IP address. When my ISP (hi TelstraClear) was having, um, some issues.

Side note, if you are on Twitter. You can get a quick response from a large company, if you just tweet a rant at them.

Oops. Sorry, Comms Chris (the guy behind @telstraclearnz). But you probably get this a lot. If only Twitter had never been invented.

Besides, the problem was probably a Microsoft update. I thought I had been shutting down my computer. With the (stupid) Vista Shutdown button. It looks like a shutdown button.

But it's not. Hopefully, if you use Vista, you are smarter than me, and you have changed the setting. Otherwise, if you click on this, you are just putting your computer to sleep.

And, while I am on the subject of stupid, um, Microsoft? Why does System Restore never work for me?

Maybe I should just tweet this. Never mind.

For the moment, I am tethered to my desk. I am weary after updates and installations. But I am grateful and relieved that my computer is up and running. And I still have my personal files. It’s even kind of nice my computer has been wiped clean.

I don’t feel brave enough to sort out the router just yet, but I do miss being wireless. I hope, in time, I will find the courage to try again. Fingers crossed.


Is it all right if I call you a Kiwi?

I used to think a kiwi was a fruit.

In NZ, it is called a kiwifruit (this is a golden kiwifruit).

I learnt that a kiwi is a . . . small, flightless bird.

It is usually nocturnal.


Enough of the soapbox already.

It’s time for another edition of Funny Things Kiwis Say.

Chur. I think this means cheers, as in thank you. It's grunted by men only. It’s a way of acknowledging that you heard what someone said and that you agree.

Bro. You might hear someone say Chur, bro or that was choice, eh, bro. Again, it’s a guy thing.

Youse. You plural, as in thank youse very much. If you get annoyed when you hear this, you are probably a tall poppy.

Sweet as. An iconic phrase. It’s sort of the Kiwi version of No worries. It means awesome.

Far out. Doesn’t mean hip or cool. You say this if someone is being an idiot.

Wicked. The East Coast slang from back in the 80s. It’s still around. Awesome.


On being (sort of) green.

The village is full of hardcore greens. I’m more of a moderate. Or lazy. I will do what is green if it is not too inconvenient.

At Wellington Road, we recycle. We compost. We use energy-saving light bulbs. I try to think about packaging before I buy. I use cloth bags. I almost always buy local and what is in season. When I can, I buy organic, free-range. We try to grow some of our own vegetables.

And for the last two school terms, we have scaled back to just one car. My husband drives the car to work, and the child and I walk or carpool or take the train.

At first, I missed doing errands whenever I felt like it. I balked at having to do three or more errands at once if I had the car. And it is a pain to ask for rides when the weather (or the child) craps out.

But I have started feeling like we could save the expense of having a second car, that we really don’t need it.

Then again, a 2km walk to the train, the dairy or the playcentre, and back again can seem like a long, long, long way. Even on a good day.

There are no major hills in the village. Hallelujah.


Dairy-free, egg-free pancakes.

These pancakes are often on the weekend menu at Wellington Road. Maple syrup is my favourite topping, but in NZ, it is incredibly expensive.

1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 ¼ cups rice milk
1 tsp salt
1-2 bananas, mashed
2 Tbsp dairy-free margarine, melted
½ cup frozen blueberries, optional

Mix all the ingredients together, except the margarine and the blueberries. Then add the margarine and then the blueberries. Grease your favourite skillet and cook a ladle of batter at a time over medium heat. Flip when cooked on one side. Makes four large pancakes, or lots of small pancakes for the child.

The child eats the blueberries first.


Guilty pleasures. Oh, Edward.

So, mentally I am a teenage girl. I have been reading the Twilight books. Go ahead and think less of me, but I really like them. I have read them each in a day or two, and I just can’t put them down.

My favourite is the third book, Eclipse. It is about a girl who has to choose between two guys in opposing worlds. My husband is totally like Jacob (the werewolf). But who can resist Edward--vampires are so very appealing.

The writing is terrible. It is full of clichés. Stephanie Meyer clearly has a way with words and a decent vocabulary and is a skilled storyteller, so it “breaks my heart” to read through so much cheese for every genuine moment.

You will see almost every twist of the plot coming. Meyer doesn’t make the most interesting choices, which is a let-down time and again. And she seriously needs to edit and polish and not make the first draft her final one.

Then again, she is a bestselling novelist. What do I know.

150 pages to go. Bracing myself for the disappointing finale.


Hiding behind the curtains.

When the sun goes down in NZ, nearly everyone closes the curtains. I think it's for privacy.

My husband says, no, it is for warmth, because almost no one has double-glazed windows.

But everyone who pops in at Wellington Road seems surprised by our neighbour’s house. Because we can look right into her open-plan lounge and kitchen.

My husband says people are shocked because they are not up with modern design. And it is nice that our neighbour can look out of her house, rather than being surrounded by four walls.

But he is very sure. She doesn’t have double-glazed windows.

So I think our neighbour is an exhibitionist. And I like it.

This house looks a million times better since she moved in.


What the child is saying.

Wipe my bottom. Obviously, this is something you only want to hear from someone you gave birth to. I warned the child that when he goes to school, he will need to wipe his own bottom. And he looked at me like, I will totally hold it until I get home.

Food! Food! Food! The child tweets like a little bird when he needs something to eat.

Have a nice day, Dad. The child says this as my husband heads out the door to work. It is just as sweet as I love you.

That’s not my name. My name is Jet. Um, okay. And let me guess, you’re a Transformer? I think my husband let the child watch the Transformers to get back at me. Because robots in disguise? I don’t get it.

Mum, it’s your favourite song. I love it. The child knows my favourite song. Even though it’s been overplayed, and I don’t like it any more. Boom boom pow.

Do you want some cuddles? You would have to have a heart of stone to say no to this. Although sometimes the child’s timing is a little off, like when I have my hands full of pizza dough, or I’m sitting on the toilet. Yeah, we’ll have to work on that.


Roasted pumpkin soup.

My first cup of pumpkin soup was made from a packet, in a household that had never seen a fresh vegetable.

Making pumpkin soup from fresh vegetables makes all the difference. My husband cuts up the pumpkin for me. However, I believe that my experience with carving jack-o-lanterns will probably come in handy, if it's ever put to the test.

Roasted pumpkin soup
1 small pumpkin, cut in chunks and peeled
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
½ tsp ground turmeric
3 cups chicken stock, heated
½ cup coconut cream
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
1 tsp grated lemon zest

Heat oven to 200 C. Place pumpkin in oven pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes until soft.

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over low heat and add onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric. Cook until soft (5-10 minutes). Add pumpkin and stock and bring to boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

Blend soup until smooth. Return to saucepan and reheat. Stir in coconut cream, sweet chilli sauce and lemon zest. Season to taste.

Not a complete failure. The child did eat the roasted pumpkin.


Burglary or scam?

Last week one of the local papers reported another burglary in the village. $1,000 in cash was allegedly stolen from someone’s house.

This sounds suspicious. Like maybe someone is making an insurance claim.

I mean, who keeps $1,000 in a handbag at their house? Someone who is paid in cash?

At Wellington Road, burglars would be lucky to find $20.


My glass is always half empty (but not on the inside).

In my last post I forgot to mention all the AMAZING things about living in New Zealand. I am truly the luckiest woman in the world to live in NZ, and to have had such an easy time gaining residency, and my husband is totally a saint for putting up with me. And I have the most angelic son.

I get to look at the sea from my bedroom window. The sea is maybe 100 metres away. And in the middle of winter, my son and I can play in the garden, and actually be too hot. Every day we have beautiful, healthy food to eat. And we have social welfare, such as healthcare for everyone. And only 4 million people to share it all with.

Yeah, it’s a good life. I just point out the negatives to keep it unspoilt. Do come and spend your tourist dollars. But don’t stay too long. Unless you are family, or you have skills and you are in great health and you are willing to work for less.



My country, ‘tis of thee.

As the war in Iraq began, I was not happy with the way things were going in the US. I was living in liberal San Francisco, but I still felt disenfranchised. I was even called un-American.

I had been to visit New Zealand, and I decided to return.

But when I did, I wasn’t sure that the remote, provincial paradise was the place for me. Our house was cold, I had to step back a few rungs in the workplace, and it was difficult to make friends with the insular Kiwis.

During those long Bush years, there was palpable anti-American sentiment in NZ. And a lot of it seemed to be directed at me. Kiwis mocked my accent, denounced my customs as too American, and made anti-American jokes.

But I didn’t reach out to other American expats. In my first five years in NZ, I didn’t meet any Yanks at work or over the Internet. And I certainly didn't want to meet them through the US Embassy.

Not only did I feel ashamed of my government’s policies, I was also embarrassed by the entitled brash arrogance of my people. The ugly Americans.

Things have changed. I have met some wonderful Americans living in the village. I'm enjoying some earnest American expat blogs. And I’m relieved to be so much happier about the direction my country seems to be headed.

Happy Fourth, y’all.


I'm hooked on Outrageous Fortune.

I don’t watch Shortland Street, but I am a fan of New Zealand’s Outrageous Fortune.

It’s a local drama about a family of criminals who start trying to live an honest life. Sometimes it’s cheesy, but it’s often quite funny. And I like how the soundtrack features New Zealand music.

Rumour has it that a US version is in the works. I can't wait to see what the Yanks come up with.

Here’s the trailer for the fifth series, which is now airing in NZ.

Edited to add. Sorry, probably NSFW.


A winter's afternoon.

In the last four days, we have wild, windy weather and three power cuts.

I don't mind, since our roof is firmly attached and we have a woodburner.

We get a break every now and then.


Christmas in June? Are you mad, woman?

While I’m on the subject of holidays, I know I’m not the only expat in New Zealand who thinks about Christmas at this time of year.

There are quite a few expats who are originally from the northern hemisphere living in NZ.

Hotels in town usually advertise Christmas dinners (not that I necessarily recommend that you go to any of these), and offices and other groups have Christmas in July parties.

At this time of year, it really does seem like a northern hemisphere Christmas.

It's mid winter. The days are short, and the nights are long. It’s cold. It’s a perfect time for roasts, yuletide puddings, a cozy fire, and maybe a mulled wine.


Today is Father’s Day--in America only.

In New Zealand (and Australia), Father’s Day is September 6. Or 6 Sept, as we say in N Zed.

Having Father’s Day fall on a different day in the US is really inconvenient. I get confused about which day Father’s Day actually is, because it’s not in June on NZ calendars. And in June it’s nearly impossible to find a Father’s Day card. So my poor dad in America usually misses out. Sorry, Dad!

The real issue is that my husband has been getting to celebrate two Father’s Days. An American Father’s Day and a Kiwi Father’s Day. Clearly, this is not what the universe intended.

As we live in NZ, we will be celebrating Father’s Day 6 Sept, and only 6 Sept. And in September I will be stocking up on Father's Day cards, so next year I will appear clever and organised. Oh, and I’m starting my Christmas shopping.



Where are you from?

Whenever I speak, people hear my accent, and of course they know right away that I'm not a native New Zealander.

Where are you from, they ask politely.

There are a few ways that I can answer this question. Sometimes I say, San Francisco, which is the last city that I lived in. But usually I just say, Ohio, which is where I grew up.

My accent is all over the place. Surprisingly, a few people have guessed that I'm English. But not because I have a posh accent.

At least I don't mumble.

A couple days ago, I wrote this post. And then, coincidentally, today in the Dom Post's Saturday magazine, there was a nice story on the New Zealand accent. I would link to it, but I can't seem to find it online.

Edited to add. The brilliant article in the Dominion Post was by David Killick.


I really like Norfolk pines.

dedicated to my parents who are celebrating their wedding anniversary

Norfolk pines are not native to New Zealand, but they are widely planted here.

I think they look like Christmas trees.


I want to opt out.

Lately, I have been refusing to participate in surveys. Here's an example of a recent call:

Survey: I’m from a market research group, and I need to know if there is anyone between the ages of 18 and 34 in your household to take a survey.

Me: No, there is no one here in that age group.

Survey: I’m happy to have a person in the household take the survey anyway. It will take five or ten minutes...

Me: There is no one who wants to take a survey here.

I don't want to be rude, but I practically have to hang up on her to get away.

I know these people are just doing their jobs. But there is something intrusive about being cold called at home.

I would be much more receptive to direct mailings.


Don't forget to lock the door.

New Zealand is the world’s most peaceful country. It’s been mentioned here and here and here, and now I suppose it’s my turn to rub it in blather on about just how peaceful life is in NZ.

It is peaceful. There are such low levels of violence. Maybe because of strict gun control. The police are not generally armed. Children can walk to school by themselves.

However, NZ has its problems. Last week there was a rash of burglaries in my village. The thieves entered back doors that had been left unlocked, and they also forced a window open. They took wallets and the keys to a car (the thieves even managed to steal that car). The deli and the hairdresser's were also broken into. Shame.

Edited to add. About the blathering. I was just talking about me. Those other bloggers (that I linked to) are very articulate. They don't blather. Really, I've got the blathering covered.


Some of the best caffeine in the world.

In the Dom Post’s Saturday magazine (sorry, I couldn’t find a link), London cafe owner and former Wellingtonian Matthew Clark was quoted as saying, “It’s universally acknowledged that New Zealand has some of the best caffeine in the world.”

Um, really?

Well, I suppose New Zealand’s coffee has improved. When I first arrived in New Zealand, the Kiwis that I met drank instant coffee at home. Once, as a special treat, my husband made coffee in a percolator.

Now that I have been living in New Zealand for a few years, I can see the appeal of instant coffee powder. Like if I was tramping (hiking) in a remote area. Although in that situation, I just might prefer tea.

In fact, I was expecting a nation of tea drinkers, and without a doubt, the tea drinkers are a very prevalent group. Coffee drinkers are simply a different breed.

Kiwis drink their tea and coffee white (with milk), at any time of the day or night. If you want to get strange looks at the cafe, order an espresso. Otherwise, the flat white is a nice concoction. It’s sort of like a latte, but with less milk and less froth.

The popularity of coffee in NZ has been a welcome surprise. And at home, I have grown to love my coffee plunger. I never thought I would admit this, but it is completely superior to my American drip coffee maker.


See, all the best and brightest do move overseas.

New Zealand is a great place to live, if you are not ambitious and you are not driven by a need for material things.

You probably never will get rich in New Zealand. Or even be able to pay off your student loans.

One in five Kiwis have left New Zealand for greener pastures overseas. And Australia is one place that Kiwis go, as NZ citizens have the right to live and work there.

Last week, my husband was offered a promotion in Brisbane. A big step up on his career path, and the salary would be like THREE TIMES what he makes now. In Australian dollars.

And I actually like Australians. Sometimes I wind my husband up by telling him how much I like the Aussie accent.

Anyway, then we saw that story on 60 Minutes about Paul de Gelder, the navy diver, who was attacked by a shark in Sydney Harbour (and lived).

All of a sudden, New Zealand seemed pretty darn good. We’re broke and we can't afford to buy a house, but we have better lamb and cheese. We can swim in the harbour and the sea. There are no snakes and no crocodiles. Just a few Australian spiders. The possum is not protected. And the child can wander into the bush with no worries.

Well, the child could get lost in the bush, and we never would be able to find him, but at least he would not get attacked by a croc.

Wellington Harbour, in March.


Sausages in beer.

It is comforting and enticing to smell my dinner cooking in the slow cooker. And it takes so much pressure off the dinner hour, when the child is just getting out of his bath.

Here is another recipe adapted from Joan Bishop’s New Zealand Crockpot and Slow Cooker Cookbook. I love you, Joan.

Lately, I’m having fun with recipes that call for wine or beer. I feel all chef-y and the sauces are great.

Sausages in Beer
6 sausages (I used venison sausages)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ cup tomato paste
1 can beer
1 cup green peas, thawed if frozen

Preheat the cooker for 20 minutes. Don't forget, like I did, or dinner will be a bit late.

Heat a frypan, add some oil and cook the sausages until brown. Remove from pan, let cool, and slice each sausage into four pieces on the diagonal. Put the sausage pieces in the cooker.

Turn down the heat and add the carrot, onion and garlic to the frypan, and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and beer, mix and bring to a simmer. Pour into the slow cooker, stir, and cover with the lid. Cook for 2 ½ hours.

Thirty minutes before serving, add the peas. Served over mashed potatoes.

And the child ate it. Well, some of it. Don't worry, the alcohol cooks off.


Mashed potato, mashed potato.

Mashed potatoes are cheap and easy to make. They are great with sausages or roast chicken.

Mashed potatoes
Peel four large floury potatoes (I like Agria) and cut into quarters. Half fill a medium pan with water and bring to a boil. Boil potatoes for approximately 15 minutes until tender. Drain cooked potatoes, then mash with a nob of butter. Add a little milk at a time and continue mashing potatoes until creamy.

Edited to add. At Wellington Road, we make a dairy-free version, with dairy-free margarine and rice milk. Still delicious!


Please don't pop in on a recluse.

When I first moved to New Zealand, my husband and I lived in a suburb of Wellington.

It was where my husband grew up, and at the time, a lot of my husband’s mates still lived there. They would stop in unexpectedly to visit us. All the time.

Can’t they ring us on the phone first, or at least send us a text? I would ask, exasperated to be found at noon or later in my pyjamas.

No. Kiwis value hospitality. You are supposed to hide any inconvenience to you and go out of your way to make visitors feel comfortable and welcome.

One of my husband's mates stopped by so often that I started calling him The Pop In.

My mother-in-law popped in, just as I was getting out of the shower. I was walking naked from the kitchen to the bedroom. And once my husband’s sister popped in, while we were Doing It.

So we started trying to remember to lock the door. But if we did remember to lock it, some persistent visitors would try the back door, or just continue knocking.

For a blissful short while, we didn't have as many visitors calling in as we used to. Of course, we moved up the coast, and most of my husband's mates moved away, to Auckland and Australia.

Now I think I might be on the brink of gaining real acceptance in the village. My acquaintances are starting to pop in more and more. Bugger.


NZ wine is world class.

New Zealanders have a grudge against the French. For nuclear testing in the Pacific and the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior. Don't even mention the rugby.

So for the Kiwis, beating the French, at anything at all, is very satisfying.

In the past few weeks, there have been a couple stories comparing French and New Zealand wines. That's right, French wine. The best of the best.

There was a story in the Dom Post about the $1800 French Bordeaux that LOST, in a blind test, to a $60 Hawke’s Bay red.

And there was a story on Campbell Live about a French winemaker who came to New Zealand to learn a little something about winemaking.

These stories are examples of the Kiwi insecurity complex. If you visit New Zealand, you will notice, from practically the moment that you deplane, that Kiwis are asking you what you think of New Zealand. And they want to hear that New Zealand is world-class.

This low self-esteem comes from being a little country with big aspirations. A little country in the middle of nowhere. A sure way to rile up a Kiwi is to suggest that there are no world-class cities in New Zealand.

Luckily, with NZ wine, the claims of being world class are holding up well. Especially, in my opinion, for riesling, pinot noir and syrah.

NZ wine. Too good to quaff.