Monday, April 30, 2007

21st of April - our wedding!!!

Here is the definitive wedding post of Brendan and Tina's wedding, as written by Tina. This is a very detail-oriented and sentimental post, so if you don't really care about weddings, or know roughly what happened on the day, skip this post.

At 6.42 am, I was woken with a persistent knocking on the door. I'd only had 4 hours of sleep the night before, so I dragged myself out of bed. It was Julie, and I was supposed to be awake at 6.30 am. So I got up and got dressed, in time for the other bridesmaids to arrive. Mealz and I had some yummy fruit for breakfast, and then Tara drove me to my hairdressing appointment in Kilbirnie. Luckily it only took half an hour for her to backcomb my hair and do it into a french roll, and then it was back to the apartment, where the bridesmaids were having their makeup done.

I'd brought fake nails from America, but they proved to be a real pain as they wouldn't look right - the glue went white and clumpy. However, we were running out of time, so I just decided to go with them and hope they looked OK. Tara and I also had to make a run to Farmers to buy a very expensive strapless bra. I got into my dress - I'd tried it on the night before again and discovered that I'd actually lost too much weight in the time leading up to the wedding, with our strict cardio workouts. Whereas before it had been a perfect fit, now it didn't fit properly at all!

After some minor panic about the flowers, since I'd forgotten to organise someone to pick them up, the two wedding cars arrived. People ran to the windows and there were many "ooohs!" At this point, I was trying not to get too excited and emotional, because I knew that once I did, it would be hard to calm down enough to get through the day!

The weather was supposed to be partly sunny, but by the time we left, it had cleared to become a beautiful, calm, sunny day. Fantastic!

Brendan stayed the night at a different hotel room on the same level, so I was allowed out of the room under almost no circumstances, and neither was he! Brendan's family occupied a room on the same level about half-way between the both of us. Ida, Blaise and Jonny ran back and forth between all the different rooms, and many texts and phone calls were sent.

Blaise apparently had trouble tying his tie, resorting after a while to the internet. Brendan tried to demonstrate with his red one.

So at 10.50 am, we climbed into the white-gold Mustang and set off for the church. I remembered I still hadn't written my speech - so I decided to put all our Toastmasters experience into action. The Mustangs were convertible, so when we got to the church, we put the top down.

We all climbed out and adjusted dresses. Cameras were flashing the whole time, and then my Mum came out, and we hugged. It was a reunion, as we hadn't seen each other for seven years! The flowers were also quickly distributed to the right people.

I wasn't sure when to move inside, because people were still taking pictures, and I could hear Paschebel's Canon in D being played inside. Paschebel's Canon in D was the song we picked for me to walk down the aisle to, and I was still outside!

Dad and Fr. David, the priest, greeted me inside the church. Fr. David mentioned that Brendan was waiting at the front for me. I was so excited! I couldn't wait to see Brendan (and impress him with a pretty dress - isn't that what you're supposed to do?). I could see everyone in the church smiling at me waiting in the narthex - I felt so special and not nervous at all!

So I told the bridesmaids when the right time in the music roughly was, and they left: Tara, Mealz, Ida. Then I took Dad's arm and we walked down the aisle. Dad walked nice and slowly and the timing was perfect. I mostly didn't notice though because I was too busy smiling at everyone on both sides of the church, and looking at Brendan. He looked so good. :)

The ceremony went really well, perfectly in fact. I cried all through the rehearsal the night before, and I was so scared I was going to cry all through the ceremony! Brendan says he would have been disappointed if I wasn't even a tiny bit emotional, but I think its embarrassing. I was trying not to cry at one point in the vows... :(

When the choir sang the first time, I was feeling a bit excited, so I ended up singing the alto bit from the song - John Rutter's A Gaelic Blessing. All the excitedness melted away and I was normal again.

For some reason, when Fr. David asked us to raise our right hands, Brendan thought my right hand was my left and said, "No, your right hand!"! It was quite funny. Ida and Tara also started laughing when Ida tripped on her dress, and then Mealz started laughing too. (I tripped a lot on mine too, especially as we were leaving the church.) It was so lovely to look at everyone there, all our family and friends, and know that some of them had come pretty far just to see us!

Another funny thing that happened: my sister Sarah was wearing a low-cut black dress. When my grandmother saw her, she marched over to Sarah and yanked Sarah's top up!

When we came out of the church, suddenly there was a huge, "BOOM!" followed by another, then another. I hadn't realised that the 21st of April was the Queen's actual birthday (and my great-grandmother's birthday, incidentally), and hence there was a 21-gun salute just on the Point below us. Smoke drifted across the harbour. It was perfect timing.

Brendan and I had a few photos down at the Point, as the soldiers kindly offered to let us use the guns in our wedding photos. The sea was so calm and flat, and blue. We left for the Botanics in the red Mustang, which had black and white balloons, and cans tied to it to make noise. We drove down Wakefield Street and along the Quays - everyone waved and tooted at us! It was great fun.

Eventually everyone arrived at the Botanics, and we took photos. We were running a bit later than schedule, so we had to keep ringing the Skyline and putting the lunch times back! Luckily they were very nice about it though. At this point co-ordinating shoes plus dress plus veil became a bit unmanageable, and so the bridesmaids had to help me with my dress a lot, to get up the hill to where the reception was! I needed three people to help me hold the front and back and not trip over - there was a lot of dress at the front!

The reception went very fast - there was lots of yummy food but I was too excited to really eat it! I ate a bit because I knew I would need it, but I didn't really feel like eating. I'm told that everyone else made up for it though, since they were all very hungry after waiting so long! (Sorry!)

In between lunch and dessert, and after the speeches and toasts, we slipped out for a few more photos, and again near the end, about 5.30 as the sun was going down. (We didn't want everyone else to have to wait for us, even though we hadn't got all of the photos we wanted in the first round.)

The speeches were lovely, and funny. So many people said so many lovely things. We were also very pleased when Ida, Geoff and Mealz got up to speak, since we hadn't anticipated that!

The cake was amazing - made by Julie's friend Bridget, from a photo we'd sent her. It was an exact replica, and a yummy chocolate mud cake. Bridget told me that the flowers that the florist had made for the cake weren't right, so she'd borrowed the orchid that Myrla had put there in the church specifically, and added some extra greenery! She's very talented!

I never managed to get around seeing all the people I wanted to at the reception, unfortunately, so if I missed you, I'm very sorry. I also never managed to actually eat any of the dessert! I did manage to save one piece of our cake, and ate it four days later.It was so yummy and rich I didn't eat the rest of the night! I wish we could have brought it back with us, but US customs might not have liked that.

We had black, white and silver lollies / chocolate favours for people to put into their little Chinese takeaway favour boxes. Each had the person's name and was stamped with a stamp we got in Chinatown, San Francisco, which meant "love" in old Mandarin. Apparently they were practically inhaled! Luckily I had some pastel M'n'M's I'd brought over from America as well, when we got back from photos, and some people who'd previously missed out got those instead.

So, overall, apart from a few very minor mishaps, things were absolutely perfect. I doubt it could have been any better!

Jonny, Ellie, Ryan and Raydon won the game we'd devised for the Botanics... I think they were collaborating!

Afterwards, we went back to the apartments and got changed. We also organised all of our stuff to take with us, since we were taking Julie's car for a few days, and she would take the rest of it. I'd left a bag with my glasses in it at church, so Brendan drove up to Roseneath and I grabbed it. Luckily I had a key etc from when I was an organ scholar there, since the church had already been locked and alarmed.

Then we went to Geoff's 21st birthday party at the Big Kumara, his favourite club / pub. That was quite fun, since he'd funded the bar tab in true Geoff style: using his course-related costs loan, and by selling one of his many cars. Unfortunately we got there just as the bar tab ran out , so we just had red bulls since we were tired, and were driving. :(

That night, we dropped Mealz off at her gorgeous old Victorian flat, before driving up to Waikanae where we were staying at my aunty's amazing Bed and Breakfast in Waikanae Beach. We couldn't leave Mealz's house for a while though, since a tiny baby hedgehog came out and started running around in front of the car! I tried to shoo it away, and it only made it run under the car! Finally it moved enough that we wouldn't run over it.

Around 12.15, we arrived, and crashed into bed.

Here are the photos from that day from our camera. (Or you can just click on one of the photos above.) More to come! (Thanks to everyone who took the photos from that - there are some great ones.)

Also, a reminder that here are the professional photos - we love them, we think Tim did a great job!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Home sweet home...

Our flight home felt relatively short; probably due in part to getting better at sleeping. Brendan watched far less movies and we unfortunately missed the sunrise. But it was good: the air hostesses gave us each a spare Kapiti icecream! And we watched the proof DVD of our photos and looked at the wedding photos from family and friends. Stacey drove us to the airport, which was lovely. It was great to catch up.

So here we are, sitting in our slightly musty house with all the windows open, still very tired after a few hours sleeping and trying to think about dinner.

And after all the effort I put in with documents for the work permit, first I was told i didn't need them. Then I brought them all with me to the Easter Saturday appointment, and didn't use them. And now I have a letter demanding them all. I just want my work permit!!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Wedding photos!

Last night we drove back to Wellington, from Waikanae, and popped into the photographer's in Johnsonville to see our photos. We loves.

One in particular Tim classes as one of the best wedding pictures he's ever taken, and plans to enter it into photo competitions.

So: for your enjoyment: official wedding pics. The best ones are on the "blog" page, and all of the proofs are on the "proofs" page. You can also buy them from the proofs page, just follow the instructions on the page. But, ask us first and we may just send you some for free!

Thanks once again to everyone that made it happen, especially Ida and Blaise (the head bridesmaid and best man) - we had a fantastic day.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Family reunions

Yesterday I drove from Waikanae to Feilding to see my Mum. (Brendan drove back. Yay - road trip!) It was a reasonably momentous occasion since we haven't seen each other (apart from at our wedding) since I was about 16. And I hadn't seen Mum's children since Gordon was 9 months old, and (as Gordie was fond of pointing out) changed lots of his nappies!

So. We looked through all the albums of me as a baby. I once fitted into the large steel bowl Mum had sitting on the bench! Mum also gave me an old tin with a brooch inside: the brooch and tin were given to Mum for me by my Dad's mum, mygrandmother, when I was two, with instructions to give it to me after my wedding day. She died when I was ten. So Mum had kept it for 20 years. That was really special.

The kids are very cute, and we had lots of fun. Gordon's almost eight, Barry's almost seven and Sharna turns five next month. So it was good to see them and Mum. They also had a very cute pet - the equivalent of a squirrel in NZ - a baby possum!

The past few days have been lovely and relaxing. We've been staying at my aunty's lovely house in Waikanae Beach, and enjoying doing nothing, or visiting our relatives.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

NZ dollar hits highest amount in 25 years!

This is a small problem for us if it stays up - our wedding will cost a lot more! Here is the article in Stuff. Hurry up and go down, dollar.

Fun and busy-ness in NZ

In light of the rather nice posts of Jono and Inti from their NZ trip (finally!), I think I should let readers know what we've been up to.

We've spent quite a lot of time this week catching up with lovely Mealys and Evelz' and other friends for lunches, and little sisters Ellie / Steph / Mekie as well. Even if we dragged aforementioned little sisters through every mens shop on Lambton and Willis looking for the perfect Brendan summer jacket (no easy task since all the shops are preparing for winter).

The rest of the time has been spent doing wedding-related stuff, with lots of Julie's (Brendan's mum's) help (and how could we forget Ellie and Jonny!). Suffice to say we're pretty busy, and Wellington has been traversed in search of various items, and hair and makeup trials. I even went to Wainuiomata!

I am also doing lots of sewing of table runners, meeting various Brendan relatives and trying to work out a ceremony compromise between Brendans and priests. Ouch.

So. Yes, to everyone, we would totally love to have lunch with you. I'm just a bit more busy for Thurs and Fri. Try after Wed of next week.

The apartment is full of little chinese boxes which need labels and have been stanped. They look very pretty. And I am trying not to open all the packets of American lollies we bought. Some have already been sacrificed to the brave cause of the Ida and Tina and Brendan hunger for peanut butter cups and chocolate.

We also had to buy shoes today since Brendan left his formal ones in America. Yay for Shoe Warehouse! My shoes are hurting already - wish I'd brought them to America to practice wearing them. I wore them to the Subway at the bottom of the building and that was sore. Amazingly, we have only been to Subway once. I am not joking. Unless Brendan's hiding the evidence...

I miss our warm Californian weather as it's a freezing southerly right now. I do NOT miss the Wellington wind by any stretch of the imagination. Brrr. All my "warm weather" stuff only just makes the cut. It's supposed to be fine on Friday, Saturday and Sunday - here's hoping the weather report is right!!

It's also starting to feel more normal being back, and I don't notice accents anymore.

I've spent vast amounts of time sewing these black table runners, and I've only done 4 out of 11. Hope to do some more tomorrow. It's depressing. I managed to score some amazing jet beads for Julie to borrow - 100 years old, they belonged to her great-great or something aunt Ellie. And they look just like my black ones that Julie likes.

Last night I drove Julie's car down this tiny, steep, windy one-way street from Northland to Glenmore - it was a shortcut. I've only ever walked down it before. The cars are the other way around from America inside as well.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Wedding dramas....

The amazing present we bought for someone has been recovered from the airport. Thanks, Air NZ. No, seriously. It was one cool present.

Apologies for the lack of posts recently - I've been busy with wedding stuff. (And Brendan has also been helping. :) ) After all the family dramas, the person has decided not to come! Oh well. More room for other people then.

We do have one small wedding problem however - we have over-invited and there are not enough seats in our venue. So last night we had to do the rather sad task of calling people who brought extra guests and ask them not to. :( It was very hard.

I've been overwhelmed by the level of support from various people here though, both for wedding stuff and just being pleased to see us generally. We feel very loved. :)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

We are back in NZ!

Hi everyone, we are back in NZ now. :)

The flight went relatively well; I drove up to San Francisco airport on the very crowded 101 freeway, and Alex drove our car back for us and put it back into the garage, which was very kind. (His car was a bit smaller and might not have fitted our suitcases.)

I managed to get 3+ hours sleep, which was a minor miracle - no kids kicking my seat this time! I know it was around 3 hours since I apparently slept right through Brendan watching the entire James Bond movie, and I vaguely remember him watching other things. (He stayed up all night - I don't know how he did it!)

Unfortunately a very nice present for someone was lost on the journey - we spent an hour at Auckland asking various airport staff to find it. (They were very nice about it, but it's gone.) It was a very small and light package, and probably blew off the cart or something. We're pretty disappointed since we went to a great deal of trouble to find it and create it - we looked in THREE malls all over San Jose!

The landing into Auckland was very smooth, but as we were turning past the Marlborough Sounds to come into Wellington, it was very bumpy and I suddenly felt very sick. I started wishing ferverantly we were on the ground! I spent a lot of the next part of the day feeling slightly ill.

Geoff picked us up at 8am in his little dark blue hatchback and we went to his house for a few hours. It was very funny since we used to live there before we went to America - it was very different (and much more clean)! TheSam seems to have permanently moved in since he was asleep on the couch there. Apparently he contributes towards power and Sky (cable) TV - and has his own "den" in the downstairs room to play Playstation in! Soccer posters line the stairwell walls...

Brendan opened his bag at Geoff's house to give Geoff his laptop, and discovered a note explaining San Francisco customs had searched his bag. Fine, but we couldn't find the bottle of alcohol we'd put in the bag. Where was it? We were disappointed: "Those theiving customs people!" It was only 750ml as well, so not above any sort of customs limit.

Last night, Brendan found it - magically hiding inside his other bag, which we KNOW we didn't put it in! Hmmm...

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Surprising Happiness at Immigration Services...

For now, at least. Today I had to get my biometrics done for my work permit. Yes, on Easter Saturday. America doesn't seem to regard Easter as a statutory holiday, much to my dismay, so Good Friday was a normal work-day.

All the websites I had consulted when preparing for my work permit emphasized that a trip to Immigration Services would be long and stressful. Go and line up at 5am, advised the Stanford University website. Make sure you get an appointment if you wait in line all day but still don't get seen, advised another. Make sure you take more documents than are officially required, suggested another.

So, I was dutifully up this morning around 11 making copies of things like certificates and passports and writing letters about how I wanted to use the money that I would get from working to go skiing or sight-seeing most weekends, which is true mostly, cos that's what we've been doing.

I also badgered Brendan into leaving an entire hour and a half early to get to my 2pm appointment, just in case the line was long.

When we got there (and worked out where it was - next to Ebay. The hint is, look for the little Mexican kids running around an industrial area - kidding!), I was surprised. It was almost empty.

A man in uniform at the door took my passport and notice of appointment, told me to fill out a form, and to take it to someone else.

The room was painted a stark, hospital white, with fluorescent lighting. The walls were slightly scuffed in places. Signs printed onto A4 paper sternly warned, "NO Cellphones! NO cameras! NO recording devices!" People sat glumly in rows facing a wall at the end of the long room, towards a TV. Brendan told me the TV was broken, and showed mostly static. A huge sign warned, "Do NOT touch the TV!"

There was a small issue with the first two people, who wanted to examine my hands to make sure they were OK for fingerprints. Unfortunately I sliced the top of my finger with a knife the other day, so it was slightly cut on the side still. So they weren't sure if they could do the fingerprints or not.

The second person looked at my form, gave me a number, and I went around the corner to another, smaller waiting room. This one had small signs on the wall with rows of seats, so you sat in your column depending on why you were there. My little blue plastic card said EAD 34. I plopped myself down on a chair, and waited.

The smaller waiting room was a bit nicer - people felt less glum. A small girl, about 2 years old, with a head of dark curls, ran around and everyone watched her and smiled. I wondered if I should go back for my ipod.

In the end, after only about 15 minutes, my number was called. I walked into the open-plan area and had my photo, signature and right fingerprint taken only. And then I left. All done in 25 minutes. I was most impressed. Maybe they do the 10-fingerprint for immigrants only.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

One of the perks of having a car....

.. is trying to find it in the carpark when you come back. Maybe we should have left the stripes on.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Canterbury wants Easter Kiwi, not Easter Bunny

Apparently, people in Canterbury want to see an Easter Kiwi, not an Easter Bunny since they're a bit overrun with bunnies.

And wow, it made it to the front page of CNN.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

San Francisco Zoo...

We drove to San Francisco Zoo and back last weekend, and went to inspect a restored Mustang a few miles down the road, that Brendan's Dad is thinking of buying. (see next post for this one.)

I currently have a yucky cold, and am partially losing my voice. But we'd planned the San Francisco Zoo trip for a few weekends so we were determined to go this time. We were hoping to take Onita but she didn't answer her phone, maybe she was asleep.

I drove the 75 miles there, and Brendan drove on the way back. We took the freeways the whole way, which meant it only took us over an hour, rather than closer to an hour and a half. And traffic wasn't too bad. It's always best when navigating freeways if one person drives and the other(s) direct and look at maps, since time between seeing the sign for the exit and time given to get across several lanes and to the exit (even if you're in the far right lane) are often really short, or the exit is really well-hidden. Not to mention knowing whether to go north or south is often extremely vital. It's written in tiny signs just before you enter or leave the road.

The Zoo was really crowded, even at 3.30 on a Sunday. We paid $11 for our tickets each, and were surprised that no-one collected them. Parking was $5 but worth it to avoid horrible San Francisco parking woes. It was actually quite cold and foggy, situated on the edge of the city by the ocean.

Little kids ran about everywhere, screaming. Harried parents tried to quiet their children around the animals, and still take hordes of pictures every time one of the usually sleeping animals scratched itself or yawned. (Yes, I'm guilty.) And there were peacocks everywhere - people were more impressed when one of the male peacocks displayed his tail, and sparked a rush of cameras to the head, than for many of the surrounding exhibits. When did peacocks become the main event at a zoo?


One of the funniest things at the zoo was one of the rhinos. He had a new toy: a tyre on a short chain. He spent a long time banging the tyre around and picking it up with his nose. He kept trying to put it on a special rounded spike on top of one of the fences.


We also spent a lot of time wishing humans were as agile with climbing, as monkeys. The really cute little monkeys looked like Dr. Seuss characters - they had tiny brown faces with bright black eyes, and wide, white handlebar moustaches.


The polar bear was obviously very hot - he was stretched out by his pool, panting slightly. We were a bit cold.

We were also treated to the rather strange sight of bears "kissing" with tongue - everyone thought it was sweet and ooh-ed and ahh-ed. Disturbingly, the sign on the enclosure said the bears were sisters.

Brendan and Alex were disappointed. They didn't get to see the snakes.