It’s that ComicCon Time of Year

I haven’t shared in some time, because there really hasn’t been too much in the creative realm, around here, to share. However this week, I shook the cobwebs off my creativity so that I can once again, prepare for ComicCon (See past years here and here)!

Cosplay Backpack

I started with making a bag for my Falafel so she can carry all that she carries when we go out for the day. Can you guess what her costume will be?

Cosplay Backpack

Keep in mind that the character typically does not carry a backpack. i just made one for her in the style of who she is cosplaying as.

Cosplay Backpack

I drafted my own pattern based on this tutorial (with a few major changes). For us, water bottle pockets are a must.

Cosplay Backpack

I am still decided whether or not to add an emblem or patch on the front.

Need a hint? You do not want to look this person in the eye.

New Zealand Part Christmas

The title more accurately should read “Non-Christmas“, because that is what we did this year. No tree or presents. No sending out cards.

Curio Bay

It was FANTASTIC.

Before we left, I started to think about gifts and how much our country alone spends at this time of year, and for what? Do we truly need anything or do we do it out of obligation? Jim and I talked about it, and decided this huge trip would be present enough for us all. I was a little apprehensive about how this would be recieved by our kids, though.They each seem to be quite attached to our traditions, and what kid doesn’t like gifts? However, I was more than pleasantly surprised. We wiped the holiday slate clean, so to speak, and instead had a meal together and a conversation about what we should consciously add back next year, if anything.

Curio Bay

Both girls said they like being with friends and family, and miss the decorations. Jim and the Bee both think special food is a priority (shocking). I would like to add a component of charity. How can we spend so much on ourselves, frivolously, when there are so many in need?

Curio Bay

We did end up attending an incredibly fun party, this Christmas. I made a wreath to give, using materials I found on the many hikes we went on this past month, and bound them together with strips of plastics bags we had from grocery shopping. We all left the party with full hearts, and generous gifts from our hosts, which was plenty.

Curio Bay

Christmas Eve was spent at this beach called Curio Bay. It was a 4 hour drive from where we are staying, but SO worth the trip.

One side was flat sandy beach with teal blue surf. The water was frigid as most water here in the South is. That didn’t deter our girls from jumping in and swimming in it. The Bee was further out, splashing around, and when she came up, she noticed us on the beach (along with some other folk) waving wildly at her and pointing. About an arms length away were two porpoises swimming next to her.

Curio Bay

Curio Bay

Curio Bay

Curio Bay

Curio Bay

Curio Bay

Curio Bay

Curio Bay

Curio Bay

Curio Bay

The beach was divided by a wall of rocks. To get to the other side, we went up a grassy hill/cliff.

Curio Bay

Curio Bay

Jim and I sat up there, while our adventurous children climbed like mountain goats down the boulders to get a closer look at the wild water on this side.

Curio Bay

Curio Bay

Curio Bay

Curio Bay

Curio Bay

Curio Bay

Curio Bay

Curio Bay

Curio Bay

I think overall what I am hoping we all take away from this experience is to not blindly accept things just because we have always done them that way. It is good to shake things up every once in a while.

I hope YOUR holiday was spent exactly how you wanted to.

New Zealand Part 11

Our gymnast had an opportunity to practice at the gym in Wanaka (ryhmes with Hanukkah) twice this last week. We drove 2 hours one way to get there. Afterward, we went to town and enjoyed the sights and sounds and tastes (there was a fantastic Celiac accredited GF Fish and Chips food truck!) of the Holiday Market.

Wanaka

Christmas is definietly downplayed here, and I must say I find the lack of consumerism refreshing! This was the most “Christmas-sey” thing we have seen so far.

Wanaka

Wanaka

Wanaka

Wanaka

On the way home, we pulled over at a lookout, and the views were breathtaking.

Pisa Conservation

Pisa Conservation

Pisa Conservation

Setting the camera on the hood of our rental car, this is my first attempt at a Holiday photo this year.

Pisa Conservation

Continuing on the winding road through the mountain, there are farmlands and beautiful views, and then we came to Bradrona (located in Cardrona) which is a long fence covered in bras in support of the Breast Cancer Foundation, and It. Was. Fabulous.

Bradrona

Bradrona

It was amazing how many women it attracted. We even witnessed one donating her own bra. On the spot. Shirtless.

Bradrona

Bradrona

This did inspire some pretty terrible improv jokes on the way home. What did the surfer boobie say?

“Hang two brah!”

On that note, I will end this post.

New Zealand Part 9

Today we went looking for Paradise.

Paradise

We found the sign.

The directions we had were, uh, vague. “The second turn after the first house” really didn’t help. But I suppose Paradise is something you really need to work for if you want to get there.

Oddly, there are no bathrooms in Paradise. Or the surrounding area, for that matter.

We had to settle for the beautiful expanse of Diamond Lake, instead.

Diamond Lake

Diamond Lake

You can see Falafel in the distance.

Diamond Lake

Jim is in this one (above)

Diamond Lake

Diamond Lake

Diamond Lake

We may not have found Paradise, but we did come close.

New Zealand Part 8

We hopped into the car and drove 4 hours one way to the Otago Peninsula. I think it was a bit much on everyone (still remembering the epic trip to Alaska). Although, we did get to explore the Otago Heritage Museum for a few hours, which was amazingly well put together (AND FREE), as well as St. Kilda Beach. It was a little dark inside the museum for me to take any quality photos, but there was so much to see. Multiple rooms filled with pieces of the area’s history kept us engaged for a long time.

Otago Museum

Otago Museum

Otago Museum

Otago Museum

Otago Museum

Otago Museum

St. Kilda

St. Kilda

St. Kilda

St. Kilda

St. Kilda

St. Kilda

St. Kilda

St. Kilda

St. Kilda

*Rare photo of me, alone, without camera in hand, courtesy of my husband

The girls thought the beach was one of the most beautiful places ever. Even though it was crowded (by our spoiled WA state standards), it was lovely. The 5 hour trip back (we took another route) was enough driving for everyone for a while.

 

New Zealand Part 7

Both of our girls celebrated their birthdays in New Zealand in very different ways.

For her 12th birthday, all our Falafel wanted to do was to take a walk down the road to where the Black Swans live, eat a picnic lunch, then splash in the lake. Sadly, it downpoured for most of the day.

When it did stop for a moment, we hurried down with our lunches, and ate by the water. She had her birthday crown on over her hat, which made me giggle. She didn’t get to splash that day because it started to rain and thunder, again. We did, however , make sure she got to go the next day. 2 days of celebrating? YES.

Our Bee turned 18 this year! The only thing she wanted was to go to the Stargazing Tour which is back on top of that dang mountain which required another gondola ride. *sigh*

Our Falafel has been practicing with Queenstown Gymnastics for the past couple of weeks, so we went there first. Her practice ended at 7:30 pm and the Stargazing didn’t begin until 10:45 pm. in the same town (the sun sets here promptly at 10 pm every night). So we went to a few grocery stores. We have gotten quite knowledgeable about which stores carry which items. When you have as many food restrictions as we do, food becomes top priority.

At 10 pm we decided to head on up on that scary cable car (once again). Our guide took us to the top of the mountain where there were two very powerful telescopes set up. It was super cold(about 40 degrees (F) or lower) so they handed out Canadian goose down jackets and I was glad I took one, even though I had my own down jacket on, as well as a fleece sweatshirt.

The night sky was filled with stars, and it was incredible to see and hear about the different constellations that are visible on this side of the world. Orion and his belt along with his trusty dog were all visible, but they were upside down. It was enough to make my head spin (in the best possible way). What’s even better, the girls were super excited to learn. We all were riveted. At the end of the hour tour, The Bee declared it was the best birthday she had ever had. Even though we had an hour to drive to get back (in the dark on an extremely winding road), and didn’t actually get in until 1 am, not to mention Falafel was beside herself with exhaustion… I’d say it was completely and totally worth it.

 

New Zealand Part 6

Kiwi Bird Park

Today we went to the Kiwi Bird Park. It was small but informative, and the girls enjoyed it. We sat in the Kiwi house, (and since they are nocturnal it was dark) and heard a talk about them and the efforts New Zealand is making to preserve the native/ indigenous species. The mammals brought in are eating the native bird population. Since Kiwis originally lived without land predators, they are flightless. In fact, they don’t have wings or arms. The look like fuzzy bottle gourds with long pointed orange beaks and two legs (No photos allowed in their house).

Kiwi Bird Park

Kiwi Bird Park

Kiwi Bird Park

Kiwi Bird Park

Kiwi Bird Park

Kiwi Bird Park

Kiwi Bird Park

Kiwi Bird Park

Kiwi Bird Park

Kiwi Bird Park

Kiwi Bird Park

After that, we went up the side of the mountain in a  gondola (cable car) which was absolutely terrifying. I may or may not have had a mild panic attack. Both girls were thrilled to be up there though. When at the top, we saw the Maori Haka show full of music and stories (and the Haka, or course).

Haka Show

The girls were chosen to go up on the stage and learn the Poi, and Jim was chosen to go and perform the Haka (there will be no video posted:). It was so much fun. As always, I was completely content to take photos and watch my family.

Haka Show

I am taking this opportunity to immerse our homeschooled Falafel in the Maori culture. We are learning tons! I think that may be my favorite part of this trip, so far.

New Zealand Part 5

 

Sunday, December 3, we went for a drive to walk on the Sylvan Lake Trail. It was a flat pleasant trail that ultimately led to a view of the lake. On the way, we heard beautiful bird song. Jim even recorded a bit so we can take it with us.

Sylvan Lake

The girls hiked ahead of us, so they left us their own version of trail markers to guide us. This one below is my favorite.

After we were done walking (tramping) on the trail (track), we drove further down the road to Kinloch where there was an amazingly beautiful beach. Teal freezing water as far as the eye could see. Even though every place seems to be full of magic and beauty, this one took my breath away.

Kinloch

Kinloch

Kinloch

Kinloch

Falafel (J) has gotten quite good at skipping rocks, which she will happily do for an hour straight. There was only one other family on the beach. It was heartwarming to see our daughter try to make friends with their Muslim daughter. Although they didn’t share a common language, they spoke to eachother through skipping rocks. Her Dad even found one for our girl to skip, and showed his delight when it bounced lightly 11 times across.

It is filling my soul to connect with nature, as well as with other people. The more we are here, the more commonality I find. The uncanny similarities in our terrain, the similar names of places, and the identifiable objects that make up the different cultures, firm my belief that we are all part of the same family. On this trip, I have often thought of what it was like on Pangaea, when the man-made divisions were non-existent (of course so was man, but that is beside the point). In New Zealand we are so very far from all we know, and at the same time, not far at all.