06 August 2015
So, it has been almost 3 years since we moved to New Zealand. This week, Mike got a new job at Google, and we moved to Sunnyvale, California. 5. Sun The blinding, burning sun of NZ shines less brightly here in "sunny California". I still use sunscreen, but SPF 70 is no longer required for an hour long outing. No giant ozone hole to fry your skin. 4. Store hours Many stores are open until 9 or 10 pm. In NZ, most everything was closed by 5:30 or 6. Shop til you drop.... 3. Security Airport security and school security is intense here. No longer can you have water in your bag or let your kids play outside without supervision. Missing the relaxed nature of things in NZ. 2.Medical care is expensive No insurance means you are screwed in the USA. No socialised free care for kids to teens. A doctor visit will cost you way more if you are not covered. Obamacare is a good start, but things are still super pricey. Miss my cheaper Dr visits in NZ. 1. Paperwork and Bills Moving to the U.S. means filling out paperwork like crazy. Registering for school in California requires a giant pile of identification and forms. There are disclaimers everywhere that you must read and sign. Privacy laws and rules galore. Better bring more than 1 pen to sign all the documents. Take a seat, because you will write a mini novel of paperwork before doing anything. Being a grownup means filling out a lot of paperwork. Taxes and tips not included like in NZ, so things are trickier to sort out with bills.
09 April 2015
Family activities are a good way to get everyone together and bonding. Puzzling World in Wanaka is just one of those special places.
08 April 2015
If you live on the South Island and want to see blue penguins, then your best bet is to go south of Christchurch to Oamaru or beyond. If you really want to see native birds and other wildlife at their best, continue past Oamaru to Invercargill and take the ferry to Stewart Island. Stewart Island has many places that are pristine native bush and native birds flourish without any rats or cats or other predators. Ulva Island, a small island that is a Eco tourist destination, provided us with easy bird viewing of many native birds, including the weka, oystercatcher, bellbird, fantail, Stewart Island robin, kaka, yellow crowned parakeet, and red crowned parakeet.
06 April 2015
25 February 2015
Being Jewish is something you are born into, although there are a few converts, such as my brother's girlfriend Bernadette. This can be tricky if you are discriminated against by others. Sometimes, a person can be discriminated against in subtle ways. This may be done in passing comments or in running jokes amongst friends. In NZ as well as America, these are often directed at minorities. I have often felt the minority status of being Jewish whilst growing up in central Pennsylvania, a predominately Christian region. Holidays were always complicated because Hanukkah often fell a few weeks before Christmas, and Easter and Passover had one similarity- hard boiled eggs. In Pennsylvania, assimilation into the local culture meant having a Hannukkah bush instead of a Christmas tree. It meant enjoying Spring Plastic Egg Hunts for candy and prizes, and then also celebrating Passover with local Jews at the temple and having matzoh ball soup. Living in Christchurch, we are lucky to have a Canterbury Hebrew Congregation in the city. We can still go to family services on a Friday night and eat matzoh ball soup. Sometimes we even have a Hebrew School teacher to help the kids learn Hebrew and info on the Torah. I value having times where I can be comfortable in my local community as a Jewish person. The Jewish community in Christchurch is unique in that it is a blend of Israelis, Americans, and Kiwis, as well as a handful of Europeans. All come to celebrate holidays and pray for High Holy Days. Purim, a holiday with a carnival theme, is coming up in early March. The kids are having a carnival party at synagogue and the adults are having a drinks and dancing night at Cargo Bar. Most of the Isrealis insist that Purim is a huge holiday in Isreal and that drinking is essential. Mike and I have a friend watching the kids this Friday, so we can go out. A spring Egg hunt will soon be underway at the local park. Then on Sunday, we have the kids' carnival. We will see how that goes. Kids had a great time last year celebrating. I am glad that we have other friends in the minority to hang out with, and some friends in the majority Christian Kiwi society that accept us for who we are. Jews are all a bit different from each other in NZ, but we all have many commonalities that bind us as a community.