Fush and Chups, Please

5 July, 2006.

Hi everyone,

We went to visit Kaipaki (pr. Kigh-pack-ee) School and the kids loved it. There are only 47 students this year, divided into 3 classes. At left you see all the school buildings bar the small office cottage. There are a statistically high number of 7 year old girls (6) for Merinda to play with (one of them has a horse and another has several), and quite a few 5 year olds for Edwin too. The senior class is quite small this year so it seems the majority of the students are in the younger age group. There is a school cat, Splot, and a school rooster, Wally, both of whom wandered in from the fields and stayed, knowing a bunch of soft touches when they saw one. For a small school they are well-equipped, with 4-6 two year old computers in each classroom, and a school library. School starts at 9am and finishes at 3pm, and the private school bus will pick them up at our gate at 8.40 and drop them off at 4.20. (Lovely long days for me in which to study or write, or both!) Seems they get brought home the long way, so in winter when the days are short I expect I may be picking them up so they can be home by 3.15, but it's nice to have the option there if I'm caught up in something else.

The children are doing OK. It's kind of boring for them here as there seemed to be no kids their age in this cul-de-sac, and of course most of their toys are on the ocean. We have joined the local library which has come in very handy, and the video store, which has a largish selection of Pokemon videos. Jonathan and I got so sick of the Pokemon song that we moved the TV and video up to the spare bedroom, so of course now they won't watch it at all and just bug me all day long. Fortunately they discovered some other kids playing in the gully which backs onto all the houses on our side of the street, and went out and ran around with them for a while. The weather has been lovely for playing outside this past week, windless sunny days although very cold and frosty on the mornings. This evening after dinner they were invited to 7 year old Phoebe's house across the road for a spot of hot-tubbing. I remember Jonathan saying when we moved to California that he expected many invitations to go hot-tubbing (naked I believe!). I think there were 2 in nearly 8 years, and swimsuits were not optional. It seems ironic that the kids are now joining the hot-tub set in New Zealand.

Edwin and Jonathan were in heaven this last weekend, with a model railway exhibition on the Saturday and the local miniature railway open on Sunday. Merinda has been quite testy though, I think I need to get her back on a horse real soon!

We are all so looking forward to moving in to the new house, although it will be fun trying to fit all our stuff into a 3br instead of a 5br! Good job we have that extra outbuilding, it will come in very handy for storage. One of the fun things for the kids which does not appear in the photos is a tree house, complete with doors, windows and a little balcony. It even has its entrance at ground level, because with the steep slope the rest of it ends up off the ground. There are also many liitle hidden paths and benches among the trees on the side of the gully, so it's a great place for kids to explore, with no poisonous snakes, spiders or plants!

Listening to the children chatter when Phoebe was visiting earlier today, it was interesting to hear what the New Zealand pronunciation of vowels does to their names. Several of our American friends had asked us to describe the accent; the best I could come up with was that the vowels are sort of transposed across one click; to an Australian's ear at least, 'hand' becomes 'hend', 'yes' becomes 'yiss' (has an extra sibilant too), 'fish' is 'fush'. Only 'o' and 'u' seem to have escaped unscathed, although like most other vowel sounds they come out sort of clipped or swallowed. 'Hit and run' sounds more like 'hut end rhun'. Scottish settlers influence I think. So our kids are 'Idwun end Mirunda'. I consciously resisted adopting the American accent (without complete success - I say 'pants' like a Yank; just as well they're called trousers here!) but it's easy to fall into Kiwi. I confidently predict I'll be saying 'yiss' with the best of them in about 12 months time!

Bye for now. Lotsa love,
Kay XXX

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