Hey folks,

This blog entry is about 90 days belated, but I spoke with the folks at home and got the message loud and clear that we’re not doing a good enough job at keeping up with the documentation of major events while we’re over here.

The ring

So, for the sake of all reminiscences future, here it is: WE’RE ENGAGED! Jason proposed on Osprey Reef in the Coral Sea, aboard a boat called Spoilsport, where we spent a week on a dive trip to celebrate my 30th birthday. It was sunset, there was a guitar playing Summertime by Billie Holiday (Jason swears it was not intentional), and yes, he did get down on one knee. His heart was beating so fast, he was stumbling over his words and not being his usual smooth self, and I called him out and gave him a bit of a hard time, having figured out what was coming, but he powered through and succeeded in making it a storybook proposal, complete with Veuve Cliquot and one-of-a-kind ring.

Everyone keeps asking when the wedding will be, and we’re not 100% sure, but one thing we do know is that it won’t be here, so if you’re reading this from the States, don’t worry, if there are invites and we do the big party wedding thing, you won’t be required to fly halfway around the world to celebrate with us. We’ll do it near home, preferably by the water, and with bluegrass (but don’t tell Jason about the bluegrass; he’ll put the kibosh on it before I get to meet my first band).

Apart from that, life’s pretty normal most days, not much different from the States apart from the working culture, but when we escape from the norm of everyday life, I agree with the ‘rents — it’s worth posting for posterity. Jason’s run through his first contract (at SkyCity) and has moved on to a permanent position at a professional IT services company called Lexel. I’m still at my job at Jasons, the travel publisher,  having moved into the position of Marketing Manager about a month and a half after starting, though it’s been a year of constant flux and firefighting, and it looks like I’ll be moving on in the near future. I’m giving it another month or so, so we’ll see how it all shakes out.

At Turoa, Uros, Jason, Veronica and Lara

We spent the winter driving to the snow on Mt. Ruapehu, aka Mordor, most weekends. I strapped on my first snowboard and went from novice to rockette in a matter of months, a journey that was punctuated with some pretty spectacular spills and thrills along the way. There was the day I caught an edge while out of control on a cat track and landed on my head at about 20mph, the day I slammed face first into a wall of ice in a whiteout, and the day I went off a cliff on my butt after ending up off-piste in a place I certainly did not belong, but I made it, and now I’m keeping up with the best of ’em.

I’ve never been known as much of an athlete, and it was encouraging to find out in my adult life that, if I go after something with no fear and unflappable determination, I can actually master it in a matter of a few months. I can’t wait ’til next season. We’ve already bought our tickets.

Lara & Lyssa

My feet are all crazy and wrong, but you get the idea…

For the summer Jason and I have parted ways on the pastime front — he’s learning to kiteboard and I’m riding my horse-for-now, Lyssa. She was a birthday present from Jason, a 6-month lease to coordinate with the snowboarding off season. I’m teaching myself to jump, and after a photo session last Saturday, I realize my form is going to need a whole lot more work! I’m getting over, but my feet are all wonky looking, so here’s to another season of “try, try again,” “practice makes perfect” for me. Jason’s very much on the same wavelength with his kiteboarding. He took two lessons about  month ago, and now he’s off to the races. I’m writing this entry from our Christmas roadtrip to Northland, and it’s all he can do in the rain-soaked weather we’ve been having to resist driving down the coast in search of breeze and leaving me in the dust in the tent (or hostel, now that the tent’s been thoroughly waterlogged). I’m ok with it though…he’s always had a need for speed. We’re both hoping it clears up so we can have to time to chase our hobbies over the next couple of days. In the meantime it’s” hunker down in the hostel” for us.

I guess the last bits I haven’t covered are living situation and visa status. Our residency permits came through in May of 2011, with 2 years of travel restrictions on them, meaning we need to be in NZ for at least 6 months of each year through May 2013 before we are official permanent residents without travel restrictions. We didn’t expect to be gone this long, but with the political and economic situations the way they are in the States, it makes sense for us right now. We miss home like crazy, but we’re embracing this experience and open to NZ being home for awhile. Who knows what the future will bring?

The “Glass House”

We’re living in an area called Herne Bay, just west of the Auckland Harbour Bridge. It’s considered one of the best neighborhoods in Auckland, and we think we just may have struck gold on our housing situation. We call our place the “Glass House,” and we’re flatting with a 21-year old named Akira, whose family owns the house. There’s also a 19-year-old named Joseph. It’s an interesting mix, having a 19, 21, 30 and 40-year-old in the house (yes, Jason turned 40 3 days ago, can you believe it?!?), but the house is unbelievable, and we all manage pretty well together. It’s 3 stories, the bottom being the 2-car garage, the middle the living spaces, and the top the bedrooms and the office. It’s a 3br/3.5ba and looks like something out of Architectural Digest. It’s floor to ceiling glass, with concrete floors and walls, all white, grey or black, with splashes of color by us. We have a pool, underfloor heating, INSULATION!! (NZ doesn’t do insulation…crazy, right?), surround sound, and American-size fridge with icemaker and water, dish drawers, projector TV and a great view from the balconies on either side of the house. The Sky Tower from the front, and Cox’s Bay from the back. Despite the horror stories we’d heard from others, winter wasn’t bad at all for us in the Glass House. The place is great. And at $450/week, it’s a steal in Auckland City. At that price it’d be a steal even for a kinda crappy place.

So we’re happy. Things are good. Life is moving forward, and we’ll try to post again while we travel over the 2-week Christmas break. In the meantime, check out the Australia album in our photos.