Merry Christmas!

I officially survived my first holiday season away from home. Dustin is a pro at being away from family at the holidays since he was either playing football or living in Africa most of his adult life. (who knew every holiday season I was tuning into my future husband’s football games?) I had a harder time at Thanksgiving than I did at Christmas. Of course Dustin missed his family, but he knows how to cope better than I do. I started talking about what my mom cooks on Christmas morning and I started crying. Monkey bread will do that to you! If you know what monkey bread is you would cry, too.

Despite being away from friends and family, we had an awesome holiday! Our flatmates family invited us over for a lovely “bar-b” out in the sun on their patio. We all drew a name and found an organization that the person was passionate about and donated a gift in their name. It was a really great idea! Another great idea that I have to give FULL 100% credit to Emma – it’s something we want to incorporate it into our yearly Christmas tradition. (It’s fun starting our own “family” traditions and we have learned a few things here that we plan on taking back with us.) The morning of Christmas, Dustin and I woke up to see the sunrise on the beach. The symbolism of anticipating the sun to rise is much like the anticipation of the arrival of Jesus entering the world. Jesus gives light to the world and what a great way to experience that in Nelson! We want to make that a tradition with our family – anticipating the arrival of our light into the world instead of the arrival of gifts from Santa. We will still celebrate traditional Christmas gifts but will emphasize the importance of Christmas as Jesus being born as our Savior! It was a really cool moment, listening to Christmas and worship music waiting for the light to take over the darkness. Thanks Emma for that awesome idea!

“…Long lay the world in sin and error pining

Til he appeared and the soul felt its worth.

A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices!

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!

Fall on your knees, oh hear the angel voices!

Oh night divine, oh night when Christ was born.”

“God sent a man, John the Baptist, to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.” John 1:6-9

“The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1

“For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.” Psalm 56:13

We hope your Christmas was filled with love, joy, peace, yummy food and LIGHT!

Standard

Awkward and Awesome (part deux)

Awkward:

-walking to the passenger’s side thinking I’m actually getting into the driver’s side and someone is just watching me dance around my car by myself. Every time!

-waking up to a neighbor’s domestic dispute at 5 am – lots of bashing, cursing and yelling

-our bed swaying…SWAYING because of an earth quake on the north island. not so much awkward but a little scary? =/

-tramping through the woods and seeing a guy in a port-a-potty with the door open (he wasn’t peeing if ya know what I mean)

-running into said port-a-potty man and he had sunscreen all over his face and he was sweating

-standing with our flatmates husband at church and this conversation happens when a man we have never met walks up:

man: hi, i’m Joe. what are your names?

Mike: Mike

Me: I’m Meagan.

man: Oh, Mike and Meagan….cool. Where are you from?

Me: Oh, Mike and I aren’t married – my husband is at work.

Mike: No, we aren’t married but we are actually flatmates.

man: ???

Meagan: Yes and Mike is my husband’s boss!

(What a tangled web we weave! But it creates fantastic, confusing moments!)

-a man ordered something called, “bubble and squeak” at breakfast. I literally had NO idea what he was saying (accents make these things even more confusing). He was frustrated, I was flustered so I finally asked my co-worker hoping he knew. It’s like a hash brown? So much embarrassment for one little side dish.

AWESOME:

-waiting on really cool American tourists that are easy to talk to and fun to get to know! It’s not that I don’t like talking to other nationalities but American customers want to discuss things like fantasy football and Austin City Limits so I dig that. (and they understand what I’m saying)

-people’s assumptions about Texans. The best reaction yet is, “Wow! You’re from Texas? But you sound so educated! Did you go to private school?”

-getting an invitation to 5 different Christmas celebrations with different friends and family – we feel so blessed!

-waking up to watch the sunrise at our local beach

-Christmas music…you either love it or hate it and I LOVE IT

-pretty flowers that Dustin brought home to me from work on his bike! Dedicated husband.

 

Standard

Party in the USA

We recently went out with our “flatmates” to Cable Bay which is about 20 minutes outside of Nelson. Little did we know, Dustin and I were going to be the life of the party. Here’s what happened…

I’m the sick kid who is allergic to everything these days so when I started feeling nauseous on Friday afternoon, I knew what might be coming next. But we already made plans, bought food and borrowed a kayak so I casually mentioned to Dustin that I wasn’t feeling great right before we left. About 30 minutes later when we arrived I was definitely SICK. While everyone else was eating dinner on the beach I stayed back and layed down for awhile hoping my stomach would settle down. Luckily, everything started to calm down and it was looking like I might be able to enjoy some of the evening with Emma while the boys when sea kayak fishing. We were chatting away when we saw the boys in the distance tip over in their kayak. We were cracking up (like sweet, concerned wives should) not thinking anything of it. When they pulled up,  Dustin was the one looking completely nauseous. It turns out Dustin got sea sick on the kayak, went to lose his dinner over the side not realizing the oomph that would send both of the guys over into the water.

Poor Mike and Emma….they invited us out for a fun evening and we were just one hot mess after another. Luckily they are our flatmates and they get to see us a lot so they understood why I was sick and were forgiving of why Dustin tipped over the kayak into the cold water. Basically, we are pretty fun to hang out with. Here are some pictures from the night – half of the pictures Dustin is still feeling really sick but you can’t even tell!

IMG_0155

DCIM100GOPROIMG_0162IMG_0174IMG_0156

The last picture is of our flatmate, Emma! haha

Standard

Nelson Lakes

IMG_0151

Dustin planned yet again another great trip on our days off! We headed to Nelson Lakes which was about an hour and a half away from Nelson. (It’s crazy that all of the places that we have been so far on our trip have been less than 2 hours away from our town.) We initially planned on doing a 5-7 hour hike the first day and then a 5 hour hike back down the next day after we camped out.

The first 2 hours of the hike were a pretty steep incline. I’m still waiting on those buns of steel! We got to the ridgeline (tip top of the mountain) and were anticipating another 4.5 hours of hiking before we arrived to our hut. When you’re at the top of a mountain with no trees it gets really windy (30 mph) and chilly. Not to mention, we were going to have to side step across rocks on the mountain to get to our hut.

So naturally, I start crying.

I was running on low fumes as the weekend was busy and we were staying up late/getting up really early due to funky work schedules. Poor Dustin. Luckily, I married a really patient and understanding man. I could tell he was disappointed we weren’t going to do the huge hike but I think he also was aware that I would’ve been struggling a lot to make it there! It’s funny now looking back on it but as I was telling Dustin I wanted to go back, an older couple passed us with lots of gear on them. Dustin was asking where they were headed and they were going on a 12 day hike.

Well that’s embarrassing.

Kiwi’s are tough and raised in these environments…me not so much. Needless to say, I felt like a total weenie but I’m really glad we stayed back because we played cards, took a nap, watched the sunset on the top of a mountain and took a lot of awesome pictures! We had the hut all to ourselves and we woke up the next morning in a cloud. It was awesome! The views were beautiful and we were all happy camper’s. We took a lot of pictures for your enjoyment. Oh yeah, and then when we got back to the car someone with blonde hair in the passenger seat forgot to fully shut their door. Doh! $100 later we had our car battery up and running. Luckily we were on a mountain with phone service? Crazy but convenient! And now for the best part…pictures!!

DCIM100GOPRO

DCIM100GOPRO

DCIM100GOPRO

DCIM100GOPRO

DCIM100GOPRO

IMG_1288

IMG_1292IMG_1294

 

Standard

Pelorus Bridge

Last week, Dustin and I headed out again on another 24 hour adventure. This one was a little different than most of our past trips. We camped like I thought all people in the world camped – right by your car. It’s just so easy and accommodating! No hiking up a mountain with a sleeping bag and food strapped to you. I will say that it makes a view or a night a lot more adventurous and rewarding when you have everything on your back but I will also say that camping by your car is pretty awesome, too. The campsite was quite fancy – there was a kitchen, bathroom and hot showers. Not to mention a little convenient store at the front of the park that offered our new favorite flavor of ice cream, “hokey pokey.”

And that’s what it’s all about.

Right before we got to this fancy campsite, we had to cross a one way bridge. Luckily, the path to this destination was paved, marked, wide! It was great and our last obstacle was to cross this bridge. As we approached, we saw a coach bus from far away but we were clearly way ahead of the bus. Typically, whoever is first to their side goes on the bridge and the other kind, patient, civil driver lets you pass on by. We proceed to drive on the bridge and the tour bus starts coming towards us. Uhhhh….what is he doing? The driver proceeds to “shoo” us like a fly off the bridge. There are lots of little touristy eyes on us as we put our car in reverse and dance with the tour bus off the bridge. It was quite humorous, really. Neither one of us knew what to say – but now I know what to say. That poor bus driver needs a hug!!

Once we arrived, we had a blast! We bought playing cards and kicked it old school with games like go fish, memory and speed. We cooked a yummy dinner and (kind of) had s’mores for dessert. They were out of the graham crackers on the international food aisle so we had to adjust our recipe slightly. It was still yummy, though! Dustin got to fish both days and it was a nice, relaxing trip. We were joking about how it felt like we were at church camp and who doesn’t love a good church camp??

IMG_0143IMG_0144

photo-15

Standard

There should be a law….

…against these pants. Every time I see them, I cringe. Usually, I’m not this opinionated about “fashion trends” because I myself am not that trendy BUT these pants…sigh. I literally googled ugly hippie aladdin pants to show you what I keep seeing around town. C’mon people…surely you can buy a different pair of pants!

Image

 

Image

Standard

Cobb Valley

Dustin and I are getting in the routine of having 2-3 days off together so we are trying to plan one overnight trip per week to somewhere in the area. Initially we planned on staying for 2 nights but due to a funny and memorable trip – mother nature decided otherwise! Our flat mates are literally certified in all things adventurous so they pointed us in the direction of the Kahurangi National Park, specifically Cobb Valley.

After about an hour of driving we were on a one way road winding through and around a mountain. One way as in – someone might come around the windy corner and we have to squeeze by hoping we don’t fall off the mountain. Ok, a little dramatic but pretty darn close. So to put it plainly, I’m a nervous wreck. Dustin is used to this crazy driving from Africa but I’m on the edge of my seat. Not only is it one way…it turns into a windy, one way dirt road. And there’s one  lane bridges! And there’s a sign that says, “proceed at your own risk!” Oh brother, I was just ready to get there!

Once we made it there (phew!) we headed to the top about 2 ish hours away. The path was really wide but a pretty steady incline the whole way. As Dustin would say, “we’re getting buns of steel!” Definitely some great motivation, if you ask me. When we arrived, this was peeking just around the corner.

DCIM100GOPRO

Crazy, huh? We were both in AWE. It’s hard to describe but we were so excited! Not only was this place beautiful, but we were the only ones on the mountain. We had an option to stay in a hut but we really wanted to camp right by this amazing scenery. (Can you see our tent in the picture above?) We picked a spot that appeared to be protected by the wind. We were in our tent ready to go to bed when all of a sudden we hear a whistling noise in the distance. It’s getting closer and closer and suddenly our tent starts shaking like a leaf! I felt like we were in a mountain tornado. Oh don’t worry….it starts rattling our tent so hard every 5-10 MINUTES. UNTIL 4 AM. We were tossing and turning in and out of sleep. Tired and exhausted but also laughing at the helpless situation we created. Instead of staying 2 nights we went home early because a) we were exhausted b) it was drizzling all day when we “woke up.”  Needless to say it was a long night but it didn’t put a damper on our time there. We had a blast taking pictures and soaking up the beautiful scenery. So far this has been the most Lord of the Rings-ish type place that we have seen. We took a lot of pictures so enjoy!

DCIM100GOPRODCIM100GOPROIMG_1499IMG_1513IMG_1504IMG_1508

Standard