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Tropical Storm Arthur and the New Brunswick lack of preparedness

New Zealand has a lot of natural events, and a lot of “promises” of natural events. New Zealand has the “promise” of volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, cyclones, tropical storms, and droughts.

And Kiwis are mostly ready for those things.  Citizens are told to have their civil defense kits ready. People know where their closest “emergency safe zone” is (usually schools). When something happens, people know what to do, generally speaking.

New Brunswick has a different sort of natural events. Here there is no direct volcano “promise”. No major earthquake faults nearby. They’ve never experienced a tsunami threat. Wind/rain/twister events are few and far between, and mostly benign. New Brunswick does get major winter storms.  New Brunswickers are people who would empty grocery stores, gas stations, and the local hardware store at the mere hint of a winter storm. They understand winter storms and the danger of no electricity/gas/food in winter, but summer weather is considered mild and not something to worry over.

So when the media started talking about Hurricane Arthur (later downgraded to Cyclone and then to Tropical Storm) everyone here in our town ignored it.  “When they talk about Maritime weather, they mean Halifax.  It doesn’t come here.”  That’s what we heard from many people.  “Don’t worry about the reported storm. It’s not coming here. We don’t have to prepare.”

Then Tropical Storm Arthur hit.  And it didn’t just hit Halifax, like the locals thought it would. It hit New Brunswick, and hard. The wind knocked over so many trees onto power lines that most of New Brunswick was without power in the middle of a heat wave.  NB Power had been slack and done no tree maintenance for over 5 years, we were told.  They were forced into doing the maintenance! For some people, that meant no power for over a week.

The grocery stores were closed.  They moved all their perishables to reefers (refrigerated trucks) and waited it out.  Gas stations can’t pump gas without electricity.  The one gas station with a generator had line ups for kms down the road.

Our family (used to civil defense warnings and summer weather storms) had two cars with full tanks of gas, and enough non-perishable food for 3 days.  The only thing we didn’t have (and should have had) was cash on hand.

We watched the storm from the safety of our house, and called the fire station when some wires came crashing down on the road in front of our house.  We played board games, read books, and even played some word games that the children enjoyed.  When all else failed, we did go onto our devices (that were fully charged up before the storm).

We also watched in confusion as all these people were driving up and down our street in the middle of the storm.  All the stores were closed (no power!).  There was no where to go.  It wasn’t really safe to drive – there were trees falling everywhere, wires down, and high rivers. And yet all of these people were driving.

The same people that would have stayed home if this were a winter snowstorm.

It was an interesting few days. We were lucky in that our power was back on within 48 hours. Others weren’t.  And I wonder if they will learn from this and plan for summer storms just as well as they do for winter storms from now on.



Keeping children’s schoolwork and art


boxes (Photo credit: ejhogbin)

Could you fit your life into 10 boxes or less?

I’m trying.

It’s interesting to recall what I thought were so important the last time I moved overseas, and notice that those things aren’t coming with me for the most part this time around.

The number of things I consider my extra special treasures are diminishing.

And it makes me question why we keep some things.

My mother recently sent me a parcel that contained a lot of my school work and report cards from elementary school.  I read them and was amused, but for the most part, I neither remembered much about them nor felt that the re-addition of them into my life added value.

So then why am I keeping my children’s art and schoolwork?  Is it because I will want to look at it years from now? Is it because I want to give them back to my children eventually?  Will the reintroduction of the work add value to our lives many years later?

Or will I feel better if they’re all gone and forgotten?  It will definitely be one less box to transport and pay for!

And as if moving wasn’t enough…

English: The flag of Fredericton, New Brunswic...

English: The flag of Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, flying in downtown St. John Français : Le drapeau du Fredericton, Nouveau-Brunswick, Canada, vol au centre-ville du Fredericton (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Moving overseas is a big deal.  Sure, I’ve already moved overseas once: from Vancouver (ish), BC, Canada to Tauranga (ish), New Zealand.  But now it’s an even longer move: from Tauranga(ish), New Zealand to Fredericton (ish), New Brunswick, Canada.

It’s stressful.  We have stuff to sell (we’re trying to go from a 3 bedroom house full of stuff to 10 boxes.  TEN!), utilities to cancel, stuff to ship, a house to sell, things to arrange.

My mother reminded me of the Holmes and Rahe stress scale. Currently I’m at about 202 on there.  We’re moving, we’re changing work, changing our family situation, etc etc etc AND … as if that wasn’t enough …  a change of eating habits rates on that scale too.

I got fed up with feeling sick all the time and took myself off to a registered dietician.  I told her that the healthier I eat, the sicker I get.  And she asked me which foods cause me trouble.

I was prepared for that, and told her everything.

And the lovely lady just said “Well, that all makes a lot of sense to me.  Have you heard of FODMAPs?”

Would you look at that.  Someone who didn’t just say “Don’t be silly, of course you should be eating healthy food!”

Next thing I’m on the low FODMAPs food elimination stage and within a few days I’m already feeling much better.  Six weeks on, I feel better, I look better, I’ve lost 6 kgs, and I feel vindicated.  I knew all those “healthy” vegetables and fruits were making me sick!

Unfortunately, that means I’m trying to maintain this elimination stage AND start up the challenge stage of this wellness diet while I’m also trying to find accommodation in our new city.

It’s no wonder I’m under a moderate amount of stress at the moment!

Haiku: reactions

New Brunswick

New Brunswick (Photo credit: Smulan77)

Blogs are great when you’re supposed to be doing something.

I’m supposed to be doing a lot of things.

Instead, I wrote some haiku:

Playcentre Journal
Who will edit it next year?
I don’t know at all.


Going to N B
Lacking in Playcentre Folks
What am I to do?

I wrote them for my Facebook friends and then realised I should post them here because over at Jenn’s You Know…that blog? it’s Haiku day. So here’s my contribution. Her theme was reaction – and well, both of these are related to that.

You see, we’re moving.  We’re leaving New Zealand and going to New Brunswick.  Nearly the complete opposite ends of the world.

Right now, I’m supposed to be packing, getting rid of stuff, calling people.

My reaction is to procrastinate and write haiku.

And here we are. 😉


Do you live in NZ and miss American food?

Do you wish you could buy those food products that you miss?

perhaps you should check out Uncle Sam’s – NZ’s online grocery specialist.

I did.  Now I’m happily chomping some strawberry twizzlers and looking forward to some sweet mixed pickles.

I have it on good authority that they have a limited supply of nutter butters.

Perhaps you should check it out!!


**Disclaimer: I know the people who run the store and I may have been bribed with food to make this post. I am unapologetic. 😉

Snow is teh evil.*

Ruapehu in January 2002

Ruapehu in January 2002 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m pretty sure snow has something against me.

Where I grew up, snow was a rare event, and I can count on one hand the number of white Christmases I’ve ever seen.  This shows that the snow doesn’t want to be anywhere near me.

The first time I went up a ski hill (with my grade 6 class) we tried cross country skiing and I fell over and sprained my wrist within the first few minutes. Had to run behind everybody else the rest of the way. It made me slip, in all it’s evilness, and then had the audacity to make my housekeys fall out of my jacket pocket, too. Somewhere on the mountain my keys are probably still hidden underneath a tree.

On days when it snowed, I had to walk 5 kilometres to my high school, mostly on the busy highway because the snow was mounted up on the sidewalk/footpath. Uphill both ways.  Yes, that’s possible. I’m not exaggerating. I’m sure it was a plot by teh evil* to get me run over by a car.

The second time I went up a ski hill (with my husband – then my fiancé) we tried snowshoeing. I twisted my knee. Not badly, but badly enough that it put an end to the day.

And (probably because it snowed so rarely) I am useless at driving in the snow. I’m sure the snow’s out to get me, and I drive accordingly.

So last Thursday, my most recent ski hill attempt, we went up Mount Ruapehu to show my children snow for the first time in their lives.  (How sad is that – Canadian children having to wait until they’re nearly NINE to see snow?) The snow didn’t disappoint. It only took two minutes for the snow to have its vengeance on me – I carefully negotiated down the first snow bank and slipped. WHAM! Majorly twisted knee.  Of the electric pain twinge OMG WTF that hurts kind.  I just got to sit and watch while my husband tobagganed with the kids.  And made a snow man. And I got left behind when they went higher and higher for better snow.

This just reinforces my belief.

And justifies our decision to move to a place where it does not snow. I will not go to a ski hill ever again. Ever.

* “teh” is not a typo.


It’s my SITS day!! Yay!!

Welcome to the blog that is lost in a sea of blogs!!  It’s my SITS day!! A SITS day is when I get to be the featured blogger on The Secret to Success is Support website.  We are a group of 10,000 women bloggers dedicated to supporting one another by leaving comments. Lots and lots of comments. We’d love to have you join us!

I’m Broot, and you’re right, that’s not my real name.  I try to keep some semblance of anonymity around here, to protect my children’s privacy. I have two children; The Boy (the elder) and The Girl (the younger).  Why Broot?  It’s a nickname I earned during the 20+ years I’ve been with Hubby. We’re all Canadian New Zealanders. Dual Citizenship, and all that.  We moved here from Vancouver, Canada, about 8 years ago, after The Boy was born.

This blog is about things I’ve learned and things that have given me a new or different perspective on things I see in my everyday life.  Sometimes I talk about Playcentre, where I help educate parents to be the best first educators of their children. Sometimes I talk about stuff that has happened in my neighbourhood or while I’ve been out and about.  And sometimes I just post what I’m thinking about.

Like what, you say?

Well, at one point I tried to answer some common questions I get about how I see colour when I read text. Another day I discussed why Common Knowledge sometimes Isn’t. I’m hoping I deftly sidestepped controversy in my post about pendulum swings. You could also check out my post that was mentioned on the BlogHer Facebook page – my discovery about Primary School Math.

But today isn’t just special because it’s my SITS day.  It’s also Hubby’s birthday, AND it’s my 200th post!!  Celebrations abound!

I hope you enjoy your visit! I’m happy to see you all today!

Me and the Children, hear my suggestion!!

NORAD Santa, (an explanation for my Kiwi friends), is an organisation that has spent the last 50 years tracking Santa’s flight from the North Pole.  They are volunteers. They answer emails and phone calls, and in the past they announced Santa’s position at regular intervals on radio and TV on Christmas Eve.

Since I’ve moved to New Zealand, I’ve noticed a grave omission and error on NORAD’s part.  And I’d really love it if they would hear my suggestion and take it to heart. I love what they do, and I think they can make it even better.

Here’s the thing: According to NORAD Santa, Santa’s flight does not start until Midnight, Christmas Eve, Eastern Standard Time.   But that is an error and misrepresentation. It starts at Midnight, Christmas Eve, New Zealand Daylight Time. You read that right.  Santa starts delivering presents in New Zealand first, a whole day ahead of the time stated at NORAD Santa.

Santa has been and gone in our part of the world before NORAD Santa starts tracking him.  They say he arrives in New Zealand a whole day later than he does!!

I think that our children would understand Santa’s ability to deliver presents in one night if this was better explained.  Santa does not have 4-5 hours to deliver presents. He has a whole day.

Think of the learning opportunities that could be provided by NORAD Santa… first, the existence and differences between the time zones. Track Santa through the whole night – increase the anticipation right through Christmas Eve in the US and Canada.

Second, the cultural differences.  Did you know that Santa comes to New Zealand in a red tractor pulled by romney sheep? In Australia he’s pulled by white kangaroos.  Not to mention that Santa doesn’t wear his full red suit when he comes to our tropical and summery countries (It’s only winter for half of the world, you know!!).

Here’s another reason why this is a good idea… ex-pat American and Canadian children living overseas.  Maybe they’re old enough to have tracked Santa on NORAD Santa the year before. Imagine their confusion when they check in on their Christmas Eve to find Santa’s not leaving for another day!  And then the further confusion when NORAD Santa says Santa’s still at the North Pole, packing, when the child can clearly see the gifts Santa has left them under the tree during the night.

NORAD Santa has the opportunity to show further differences as well.  There could be a section in there stating that per tradition,  he visits the following countries on 5th and 6th December, instead:  the Low Countries, including the Netherlands and Belgium, as well as French Flanders (Lille), Artois (Arras), parts of South Africa, Aruba, Suriname, Curaçao, Bonaire, and Indonesia.

What I’m trying to say is that NORAD Santa does great work.  I know they’re volunteers.  And I think they can improve their Santa Tracking multi-fold using the points I’ve covered above.

First, start tracking when Santa really leaves – New Zealand Daylight Time.

Second, Santa doesn’t wear the same outfit or have reindeer pulling his vehicle in all parts of the world.

Third, it’s winter for only half the world – for the rest of us, it’s summer!!

Fourth, acknowledge that Santa has already visited other places in the world as per their traditions.

I promise this will make sense to the children. As a matter of fact, it will answer a lot of their questions and make the whole thing much more realistic. And it will cut out a TON of confusion for ex-pat American and Canadian children.

I’m going to send this post in an email to NORAD Santa.  If you agree with me, please, email them too. Nicely.  Remember, Santa’s watching you!! 😉

Everything happens for a reason

Historic Kerikeri buildings -- Stone Store, St...

When I was thirteen, my parents decided to move from a fairly “wealthy” town to a smaller, less wealthy, farming community.  When Nan & I talked about it, she said “everything happens for a reason!”

And indeed, if we hadn’t moved there, I wouldn’t have met my husband.

When I was at university and couldn’t get accepted into the major I wanted, Nan said “everything happens for a reason!”

And indeed, if I had completed that major, I probably wouldn’t have applied to the writing diploma program later. And I know I learned more from the diploma than I would have from that major. (I got a BA anyways – just a different one.)

When my hubby (before he was my hubby) moved back to New Zealand without me, and both of us were extremely upset, and my life seemed upsidedown, scary, and unhappy, my Nan said “everything happens for a reason!”

And indeed, my hubby fought for what he wanted, worked his way back to Canada, and became independent for the first time.  Our relationship was stronger after that.

When my permanent residence application was passed without any hitch, and our house in Canada sold at the exact same time our mortgage came due for renewal (saving us thousands!!) and everything surrounding our move went so smoothly we were expecting (but not finding) Murphy around every corner, Nan said “Clearly you’re meant to go to New Zealand.  Everything happens for a reason!”

And indeed, Hubby’s career took off, I found Playcentre and improved my parenting skills, and discovered my love for adult education.

When Hubby was offered a job in Kerikeri, New Zealand, and aspects of the move and details weren’t going so smoothly, I said to Hubby, in my Nan’s voice, “Everything happens for a reason. Maybe we aren’t meant to make this move.”  So we didn’t.

And indeed, 3 months later, Kerikeri flooded, and the house we would have rented was severely damaged.

Clearly, my Nan was on to something.

10 things I learned from my Nan

Just this past weekend, my Nan passed away. As part of my tribute to her, here’s what she taught me:

A super-chocolate cake, both baked and photogr...

1. Distance is no barrier to love and laughter.

2. When you’re big boobed, it’s extremely important to be properly fitted for a bra.

3. If  your knees hurt on a daily basis, tell the silly doctor who keeps saying your knees and hips are fine to check your feet.

4. Laundry dried outside on the line smells nicer than dried in a dryer.

5. It’s important to have a calm and peaceful place to go to when your life is hectic.

6. Sometimes people don’t need advice, they just need you to listen.

7. Even when your brain knows that worrying won’t help, sometimes your heart will still worry.

8. (Shared with Grandma) If you want somebody specific to have something of yours, gift it to them early or mark it somehow to say it is theirs in case something happens.

9. You don’t have to love all of your relatives but you do have to find a way to get along with them.

10. Cake tastes better if you eat the cake and icing together.  If you lick all the icing off first, the cake just doesn’t taste as nice.

Love you and miss you, Nan.