Tuesday, June 25, 2002

Well, it has been a while since I had the time or access to sit down and type. Let’s see, last Thursday Aidan had swim lesson #2. Unfortunately his confidence was quite a bit down after his weekend dunkings. Hopefully Sue built it back up. She did a fair bit with them on their backs – his least favorite thing. Pete took him last night after dinner – they were gone from here at least an hour and half so they must have been in the water a long time. They weren’t home until probably close to 9.30 – they must have been helping to shut down the Y! Pete mentioned that Aidan had a audience but I didn’t get many details. Aidan did launch into an enthusiastic telling of his swim time with Daddy so he obviously enjoyed it. He was mainly interested in showing me how he was hopping on one foot with the other foot on top of the first to impress some girls. Hmm.

Friday Pete left the house at some absurd time to meet Phyllis at the airport. I think she got in at 6 or 6.30 a.m. Aidan and Quincy decided to get up really early too unfortunately – I was looking forward to having Phyllis and Pete here to surprise them when we woke. Phyllis was amazingly perky after a 5/6 hour flight to LA, long layover and then 14+ hrs to here and we all went through the day without a nap. Pete put in a longish day at the office and had to catch the bus home so we didn’t see him until 9.30 or so that night. Aidan was quite happy to have another person to play with and soon treated Nanma to a game of Dinosaur Dominoes and I think Go Fish. I think he found her a bit lacking (compared to Daddy) in playing Frog (frog puppet pretends to eat a lot of things especially Aidan – involves a lot of squealing). Ditto for playing beach ball – she wasn’t violent enough. But Nanma is great for reading stories! Aidan kept bring more “you haven’t read this one in a while” he would say. Quincy was a bit unsure of who this new face was (clearly he didn’t remember back to April!). A couple of times he decided that if she was going to look at him then he was going to let his little lower lip quiver. Fortunately by now (Tuesday) they are fast friends. He was just giving her huge smiles and some laughs just before naptime – not usually a smiley time of day.

Quincy decided on both Saturday and Sunday that he was up for the day at 6 a.m. Pete and I weren’t nearly so thrilled about being awake as he was. Aidan has woken up probably every single night we have been here needing some comfort (or to go pee). Quincy is back to some nights of 2 hours between waking. So then on the off hour Aidan wakes… I am very very tired. Of course Aidan wants mommy… Aidan must be having some scary dreams or something – he tells us he is but he is also smart enough to know that that is a good excuse. He told me he was afraid of a wolf one night (I later asked if the wolf looked like one of several ones we knew – it was from a Sesame St Video Peter & the Wolf) and another that he thought something was coming in his door. Pretty reasonable things to be afraid of. One night he was just dozing off when he rousted screaming. When I went in it was because he could see his shadow – I now normally put his lamp on the floor so it doesn’t cast any shadows on him as his shadow at night is filled with terrors. Anyway, Sunday Aidan was allowed to stay in our room – provided he sleep on the floor. He slept really well and didn’t wake to Quincy’s happy (but piercing) morning sounds.

Right now Aidan and Pete are doing bedtime. Reading the 2 stories. Today it is Dr Seuss’ Wacky Wednesday. I am impressed at how well Aidan can identify the things that are wrong in the picture. Have to say that I was missing things the first couple of times through!

Sunday evening Aidan was finally able to realize his longstanding desire to eat at “the Tall Tower” (Sky City). He would hang out sometimes plastered against the sloping out glass window up however many hundred feet (tower is tallest in southern hemisphere at 1000’) and the ground we were on would keep rotating along… He didn’t usually get more than 3 or 4 feet away from us. Unfortunately it was his 3rd day without a nap and he was showing it a bit. Quincy wasn’t particularly well behaved either. Aidan did have to go poop – and funny enough we had rotated so we were just next to the restrooms. He usually goes with his little seat on top of the normal potty seat but he did just fine without it. Bravo. He is pretty much accident free these days although occasionally he will leak a little a night especially if he has a waking that isn’t tended to promptly. (He is in pull-ups at night just in case). The tower did have a great view. Food was fairly reasonably priced and reasonably good (not outstanding). The deck rotates once an hour I believe. They were unbelievably slow in the beginning although our desert arrived pronto and we ended up being there close to 2 hours. It was also too bad that we were there just a day or 2 after the shortest day of the year. We arrived for 5.30 sunset. It is still a nice view but some of the city is definitely more interesting when you can see the volcanic hills in daylight. The other excitement was that shortly after we arrived we got to see one of the “jumpers”. People pay good money to be suited up and jump off a platform just above the restaurant. He was braced between 2 fixed wires and it seemed like he was definitely going slower than freefall, but he seemed to be having a pretty thrilling ride none the less. And again our table was just going by so we had a good view.

We have had Phyllis down to the village of St Heliers several times now both by car and foot. I have to believe that she could easily find her way there or back. Today while Aidan and I went to Plunket for playgroup she visited a travel agent with Quincy in tow, made appointment for her allergy shot, bought some lamb for dinner at the butcher, and toured through the library – then made her own way home. We have had pretty decent weather for her so far. There was by far our worst storm on Thursday – lasting until shortly before she arrived. We had leaking under the front door – no problem, and a lot on the dining room table (explaining the water damage there), a shingle (cement) blew off the peak of the roof and the cover to the meter box was down the driveway a bit (a neighbor brought the last 2 to my attention). A plumber will apparently make the roofing repairs! I have been informed that plumbers were roofers before roofer specialists showed up. We had a bit of sun for Phyllis to appreciate our view before we headed off to Devonport for a playdate on Friday. The rain recommenced but didn’t impact us too much as we were headed to library for storytime (followed by puzzle time) and then a café. Since then the weather has been accommodating enough to rain at night and be sunny at least in good part during the day. Some wind of course when the dark clouds roll through. Funny enough, Pete came home saying what a beautiful day it was at lunch time – and here that was by far our worst time today. It was mostly warm and sunny – but right around lunch time a dark cloud was blowing through and it was chilly (especially as we were dressed for the warmth when we set out). Of course that was when Aidan and I were mucking around on the beach… Since it is full moon we have been seeing the lowest tides since we have been here. There are various markers out in the bay – the last couple of days it has been apparent why they are there – sandbars have been popping up. A heck of a lot of beach appears at these low tides!

Yesterday we dragged Phyllis along to Mission Bay where we had a brief beach stint (Aidan would have liked it to be much longer) followed by lunch at adjacent Mecca. How civilized. I have to thank Pete for making it possible for me to sit by the waterfront sipping mocha lattes, eating lamb harissa wraps with a coconut sauce dip, roasted tomatoes and salad in New Zealand instead of slogging away in some architects office back home. And Aidan is pretty good company. It will be interesting to see if I can maintain lunches out when Quincy is a bit older. He was obliging enough to sleep through Mecca – but that is extremely rare these days.

Well, I am rambling a bit as I am tired, and I have left out a lot I am sure (like Saturday). So I will head off to bed – or at least other less taxing tasks like watching Sex in the City.

Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Today was another very wet day. We started off with the arrival of the cleaning ladies. Ahhh. Then headed to Plunket for the baby playgroup (or Mom’s coffee group I think they may call it here!). Unfortunately Quincy seems to quite dislike hanging with the other kids his age! Aidan played fairly contentedly at a table by himself – only upset when the other kid his age got too close. We left a bit early as Q needed a nap (which I aimed to give him in the car) and headed off to Jumping Beans. Aidan had a great time again and seemed to do everything he did last week only with more verve and confidence. He even was actually hitting the tennis ball with the ping pong racket this time! He will miss going – next week is the start of Term Break (for 4 weeks!). Tomorrow we head to 2nd swim class. If all goes well I might enroll him for the every day for a week or 2 weeks during break at the Y. We’ll see.

Quincy is trying SOOO hard to crawl. Today he repeatedly pulled (jumped really) his legs underneath him and had his chest and stomach completely off the floor. He can’t hold it long and just rocks back and forth. Unfortunately he ends up losing ground and going backwards a bit when he collapses out of it – hope he doesn’t give up trying! I remember hearing that kids went backwards. Aidan crawled at around 9 months if I remember correctly and pretty much just got up and then started forward. He didn’t do any rocking and didn’t really practice the position until he was ready to go. I don’t think Quincy has the strength (or coordination) yet to succeed but I think he will be much earlier than Aidan.

Aidan is going through a real physical spurt. In addition to the playground confidence since we’ve been abroad he is also doing all sorts of funny things at home. He still hops around quite a bit. He now likes to go bump bump bump down the stairs on his bum. He also likes to hop around on all fours like a frog – using knees to jump (wonder if it has given Q ideas?!). He likes to “be a bridge” from sofa to coffee table (thankfully very sturdy table) either forwards or backwards. He is also doing a lot of hanging off things. Today it was the shopping cart.

Speaking of shopping carts – I tend to shop at New World. I noticed that the local one and another I have frequented has employees dressed such that they always remind me of some 3rd world military dress uniform complete with funny little hats. I was wondering how I had possibly missed this at the one downtown we used to frequent. Well, I was there today and they dress in a much more casual uniform with a somewhat sloppy green sweater. Too weird. You would never get me in one of those uniforms!

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Thursday Aidan had his first swim lesson at the YMCA. Cost about $5 for 20 minutes with an instructor and one other child. He was a bit timid and the other little 3 year old boy very confident. The instructor was excellent. A couple times Aidan indicated that he wanted to get out but she deftly drew him back into their activities. He ended up looking forward to going back next week for another lesson and also to showing Daddy what he learned on the weekend. They have a toddler pool – probably 30” deep across so Aidan can stand with head above water (just). They have lined it with bars on the sides and ends so that the kids can hang on – in Aidan’s class they pretended to be monkeys and scooted along it. She finally got Aidan to put his mouth underwater and blow bubbles too. We returned this weekend. There were a couple of other families in the water. Aidan’s confidence had clearly increased and he was quite willing to blow bubbles and attempt his “starfish” float position. He slipped underwater a few times when rough housing with Daddy. Upset him but didn’t stop him. Quincy was a little boy possessed. Pete is thinking natural born swimmer. Little arms and legs just a churning and splashing up all sorts of water on his and our faces with no concern. I just need to stay with it with him. Aidan used to be very happy too in the water until I took almost a year off.

We hurried back after swim class to the Puzzle/Video Library for this week’s picks. I really appreciate having it available. Aidan is also into playing games since we arrived (and I purchased some). I believe I mentioned our One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Go Fish. I also picked up some rhyming cards (A Fish – On a Dish, a Duck – in a Truck) which he likes although I am a bit disappointed in – he insisted that the Ox is a Cow which rather ruins the rhyme (with a Fox which he also likes to think is a Wolf). Today I picked up some Dinosaur Dominoes. We played Insect Dominoes at a Visitor Centre this weekend and he really got it so I thought it would be fun to add to our repertoire. I think it taps into some of the same skills as puzzling (looking for pieces etc) but is a nice change of pace. I am always amazed when I realize that I have nice lunches out with a 2 ½ year old and now am playing games with him. Of course at times he is clearly only 2 ½ - and the insta-tears come quickly when something isn’t going his way or he wants my attention.

Friday was a very rainy day. I asked Aidan what he wanted to do. “Go to Jordan’s house” (not an option). “Go to Connor’s house” (also not an option). We took the American Yvette who lives nearby up on her offer to drop in anytime. We did! Aidan played with her 8 yr old and 10 month old’s toys for several hours. She fed us burritos for lunch and sent us home with an exersaucer for and doorway hanging jumper thing for Quincy. (Turns out we have almost no door jambs so haven’t tried it out yet). He likes being vertical in the saucer especially after I put a pillow under him so that his feet were able to easily reach the ground. We were happy to have Pete home again – he got home around dinner time. Actually we met his shuttle at the bottom of our driveway as we were heading out to return videos. I was running late as Aidan had hid the videos on me and had no idea of where they were. I was NOT amused. I think I was on the computer uploading to ofoto and Quincy woke up. Aidan kept him busy for ½ hour by bringing him various offerings and I guess the videos fell in that category. I found them in the side pouch of Quincy’s crib after a least 15 minutes of searching. It is amazing how poor Aidan’s recollection is of where he puts things. He can even be almost looking at them and not see things. He has a good memory for events. He is still referencing our trip to Lake Tahoe and some events that happened before we left home. He even mentioned that he isn’t a Lucky Ducky – something his Nanma said on her last visit!

Saturday we puttered around. Brunch again at Havre overlooking the beach. We headed to sit inside – it was quite crowded. He was quite upset and said we needed to sit on the patio. We told him if he could find a table we would. He did! So we got to sit on the patio and watch the world go by – or at least our little neighborhood. Late afternoon we headed to the YMCA to play in the water for quite a long time.

Sunday we didn’t get off to an early start as proposed (we almost never do). We headed west to the Waiter… (can’t remember how to spell) Ranges starting off at the Arakati (sp?) Visitor Center. It is up on a ridge with nice views back to city and water and surrounded by forests – subtropical rainforest I believe. It was interesting to see all the plants piled on top of one another in places (dead trees esp). We found our second Picture Frame. I really like them – very well done with native plants and animals carved into it. So of course we took a lot of pictures. We did the Nature Trail across the street. Aidan wanted every word on the tree identification signs read. Sometimes a couple of times. I just started making words up instead of trying to figure out how to say the Latin. Also quite a few had Maori names – and who knows how to say those words! Apparently it has plenty of difficulties in it like English – “wh” can be pronounced “f” for instance. But not always. Place names around here are either Maori or English which end up sounding very familiar. Shakespeare Park, Ascot, Epsom, Nelson, Wellsley etc.

We had lunch at a nice look out spot at a cottage (closed) and searched out an easily missed path off the road to a large Kauri Tree (very famous kind of tree here and almost all chopped down of course – huge trees that once could make a canoe for 100 from one log). We thought to take a path to Fairy Falls – but seeing several people coming off the path with mud up to their knees discouraged us. I have been advised to try it another day. We stopped off at a winery (well the retail place anyway) on the way back – they are very close to town as it turns out – almost all the vines have been paved over however – progress. I went in and had a nice time chatting wine with the tasting guy while the guys all napped in the car. I have really been enjoying the New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs. I was the only client late on a Sunday afternoon. We then headed back to town and met Pete’s co-worker Dzung for dinner at Seamart. He had bought the kids a couple of books and also some snack foods for Aidan. Quite unnecessary but nice. His family arrives in a couple of weeks. He has a boy and girl – 5 and 8 perhaps. He rented the identical car as us and has been letting Pete drive it to and fro during the week and then he keeps it on the weekend. Pete got the car and came home. Dzung reported that he had had some problems with it. Unfortunately Monday morning it stopped working altogether on Pete and he had a long wait for the AA (like AAA) and then at the rental shop. He ended up with a different car at the end of it.

We went back to Mission Bay playground Monday morning and then Aidan insisted on lunch at the stone café Mecca (“where we ate Yesterday” – everything in the past is Yesterday). Then home for naptime for the boys. They are both running some sleep deprivations. Last night they were appalling. One would start crying then the other would join in. Aidan ended up in our bed and I left for his. Quincy is not sleeping through the night by any stretch of the imagination. He can be very contented in his crib – I love listening to his coos sometimes when he is hanging out and happy. Aidan used to start screaming the minute he woke and found himself in a crib. Quincy can also put himself to sleep after crying a bit. He is waking after only going down for an hour though! He will give us a 5 or 6 hour stretch most nights. Oh well. I really hoped to get this licked while we have a multi-room house and before Nanma and Pop arrived. Not going to happen. Quincy especially won’t stop crying if he sees me – it is so sad to see his little head popped up staring in my direction as he heartbreakingly cries. He also can shuffle around in a real hurry when he wants to follow my progress across the room. Pete was most amazed at his physical prowess when he returned from his trip. At this age they advance so quickly. Today Quincy was trying to jump his knees under him into a crawl ready position. He isn’t there yet but he so wants to be! Aidan is waking usually toward morning and comes up the stairs if I don’t get to him quickly enough. Usually carrying his two puppets who have been sleeping with him. And our stairs don’t have rails for him to hold onto so I try to hurry down. I then have to stay with him til he is back out. Usually quickly but was 2 hours one night this weekend. Speaking of bed, I’m off!

Wednesday, June 12, 2002

Tuesday I stopped off at the car rental place. The left indicator light was falling out of the car periodically and only hanging on by its wires. They have 4 mechanics on staff (goes to show quality of cars!). While there I also had him take a look at the door (lots of wind whistle and occasional dripping). He mucked around a while and tried to straighten it up although there wasn’t much if any improvement in noise after I left. I also had them look at the front left tire – and got a new one and new hub cap to boot. Not bad. Aidan was very interested in the cars up on the lifts. We proceeded onto some new friends house for a playdate. I saw little of Aidan while we were there – he spent almost the entire time playing trains in another room. Hopefully it was with the other little boy Connor but I think it was more parallel play. Fiona (the mom) lived in Bay area for 3 years. She also had over 2 other American moms and their daughters aged 19 mo and 10 mo. One mom Evette is larger than life (born and bred southern California girl) and lives here in St Heliers. Very friendly and going to lend us her exersaucer. Kind of funny to come all this way and meet the Americans!

Aidan declined to nap – and unfortunately Quincy is falling asleep on our drives home and getting enough nap that he won’t nap again until late afternoon. If we were at home he would take a long nap at around 2 – coinciding with Aidan’s nap. We went to the village and did some errands. I treated whiny boy to a fluffy at a café. He then asked if we were going to the OTHER café next. Which café? The ones with the chicken rolls. Hmm. Not today. It is interesting these days how he makes associations now – I’ll tell him we are going to friends house and he will tell me the toys he thinks they should have and what we should do there. For a while after we arrived several kid’s meals came with ice cream afterwards – so soon Aidan would predict “and then there will be the ICE CREAM!” when we sat down to a meal. After we came home Aidan played by himself for quiet time while I made dinner. Quincy woke as I served it up – he is masterful at that. And so I have him on my lap chomping on a breadstick or spooning in the babyfood (and getting ick all over me) and meanwhile have to help fork some food in Aidan’s mouth periodically as well so we can keep meals down to only an hour long. I fork a few bites in my mouth as well. I will enjoy having another adult around to help when Phyllis arrives J

Today we went to Plunket and joined in the baby session. Seemed to be about 6 month up to 10 or so months of age. One 7 month old was crawling and standing – quite impressive. Other babies lay there. Quincy was rather interesting and was pretty happily quiet. Aidan had another boy of similar age – he wanted nothing to do with. The boy was interested in Aidan though. Aidan was very whiny – too many days without a nap I think and perhaps hungry. I stuffed him full of food as we headed across town to our Jumping Beans class. It is toddler/preschool gym (?) class. Kind of like Acrosports but they do it out of a van in various community halls around town. Aidan really liked it. They set up different stuff I think each week for the kids to try out and they manipulate them between classes too to make them age appropriate. We are in the 2 ½ to 5 year class. Aidan fit right in and did great. Too bad next week is last class before a 4 week break! There is another similar program I just learned of today I might also check out.

We stopped in for lunch at a hole in the wall place that said Take-a-way Organic on it outside – called the Musical Knives. It is actually a cooking class place run by chef who used to be Madonna’s personal chef and has been written up in Vogue. Very limited menu but excellent. I had a beet (beetroot as they say here) salad and got Aidan the corn cakes. I will return. Did I mention I spent Monday night on the internet shopping for Organic Food – home delivered 3 boxes full on Tuesday. So far I am very happy. Even found a peanut butter cereal Panda Puffs similar to Captain Crunch that A & P have at home. We get the Gorilla Munch at home but I have never seen this one by same company.

At home I got Aidan to nap although Quincy decided to stay up after his nap in the car. He rolled around in his crib pretty happily for the 20 min or so I was with Aidan. He then entertained himself fairly well while I read emails. Nice boy! He was very interested in his moving shadow on the wall – he was in a new part of the house (the Hello Room). Aidan slept 2 ½ hours so got up around 5. I asked if he wanted dinner at home or at a restaurant. At a restaurant. That’s my boy! We walked down to the chicken roll café (Kahve). Aidan told me as we walked “we are talking just like you and Daddy do!” He was so thrilled to be having a conversation with me. (Altho we do all the time so I am not sure why it made him so happy). He doesn’t like when Pete and I discuss things that don’t include him in the conversation. He was very good company. On the way home he told me that he thought we would go home and read books then go to bed. Gotta like that. He is also very interested in his shadow (and reflection) and we were entertained by seeing how our shadow changed as we walked along. He also pointed out that we couldn’t hear the crickets after we left behind the hedge around the tennis club. He makes some interesting observations in general. Kids pay attention to different things than we do.

Quincy fell asleep on the walk there as I hoped. Unfortunately he woke just as food arrived!! We had a bit of a wait for the food as they hadn’t started dinner when we arrived and then she seemed to hold off getting our order. And of course once the food arrives Aidan needs plenty of time to eat it! Quincy gnawed on 2 bread sticks. I then pulled out a jar of pumpkin/carrot babyfood. He made a face at first bite but ended up fairly well inhaling ½ the jar. I was impressed. He lets you know when you aren’t going fast enough! I then let him do his snake draining impression on the water glass (and let him have some sips which he loves). He made it almost as long as Aidan needed. Fortunately at the end we were the only people left on the deck (gas heaters) so Q’s squawking only bothered me. Aidan was very cute when he awoke and gave him the toy that he insisted we bring for him. It is interesting to me that all the literature including handouts from Plunket recommend introducing new foods to babies one every 3 or 4 days – and yet in the jars you can buy in the stores they are all combination foods. I think apple is the only single food I have seen. I don’t have any kitchen equipment (nor desire really) to do my own. He doesn’t seem to get the red spot on his cheek like Aidan did (and still does) and I just am not super concerned about allergies for some reason.

So we got home around 7.30 and did indeed read a number of books. Quincy participated for a while – he gets very excited and likes to pound on the books/pages which Aidan doesn’t like. (Or on Aidan if he gets in the way). He rotated and entertained himself with other toys after 3 books I think. He can rotate using his arms and lifting up his upper torso while on his belly quite well to get to what he wants. So unlike Aidan at this age! Aidan said he wanted me to put him to bed 1st so I did. We all 3 read more books in Aidan’s bed. Then Quincy. Quincy is doing pretty well on the putting himself to sleep routine now. I am feeding him only once at night and he wasn’t waking Pete up much more than that. I am a lighter sleeper than Pete so we’ll see how it goes tonite! And with that, I have to head to bed.

beetroot = beets, silverbeet = chard, kumara = sweet potato, pumpkin has green exterior here and is extensively used in menus, courgettes = zuccini

Monday, June 10, 2002

A very wet day. After dropping Pete off we continued on for our morning Cafe run followed by at trip to MOTAT (Museum of Transportation and ??). It consisted of a bunch of buildings and some things like trains outside - would have been better on a nicer day but we still had fun. Also no parking lot - we should have parked at the zoo and taken the trolley for fun. Had sort of typical hands on science museum (exploratorium) type stuff. And the requisite school kids running amuck. Also a Lego exhibit. I was quite good with the air gun! Aidan especially liked a thing that you stood on and moved by moving your legs sort of like being on a stairmaster only it was on a track and you went forward or backward. Poor description I'm afraid. You were supposed to race a person next to you. Aidan liked the stationary little kids train in the yard. He stood on it in the pouring rain as I huddled under an awning waiting for him to be willing to leave.

We dried out at home and rolled on the floor while watching our Sesame Street Peter and the Wolf with Boston Symphany video. Quincy managed to treck quite a long way. He is getting good at going after what he wants. He also surprisingly likes being mauled by his brother. Pete and I find it exasperating. Did I ever mention that Aidan saw character Zoe and said "that's Zoe, like my friend Zoe" aww.

Aidan has been on quite a puzzle kick lately so we did a few more of those. He stayed dry at the museum and pooped in the potty when we got home. He then later during Quiet Time peed and pooped in he pants in his room then came and told me about it. I asked him why and he said "I liked it". Hmm. Of course I'm not sure he completely gets the "why" question yet. I didn't realize he had a poop and sent him off to laundry room to strip himself. You can imagine how this goes. So next we headed to shower for a hosedown which he quite liked. I finally called to have cleaners come and take care of us / the house... Hopefully I will have someone in soon. The place wasn't occupied for a while before we moved in and is a bit dusty. Add that to feather comforters and I wake up a bit congested each day.

Tonight I spent some time placing an internet order for organic food. They have some products at our local grocery and several stores in the area but none very close. I will be interested to see how it works out. Supposedly it will be on my doorstep tomorrow afternoon. When I go to grocery now Aidan likes to sit in cart for 1st time ever - next to Quincy in a baby/supported seat. Quincy on the other hand really doesn't like grocery shopping (or the seat perhaps). He is always squawking by the time we leave.

Tomorrow we see friends in the a.m. I also need to stop by rental car place - our indicator (signal light) on front left keeps trying to fall out! It ends up just hanging by the wires. They have 4 mechanics on hand so hope they can fix it fast. Also hope to drop off film/compact flash to get some pictures on disk for uploading this weekend. We'll see if I make it.

We didn't bring alarm clock. Pete has 6.30 a.m. or something like that flight to Brisbane Wednesday. He discovered the cell phone they finally gave him late last week has an alarm! Phew.

Sunday, June 09, 2002

I continue to be amazed at how poorly they mark roads over here. Good news is that they denote every intersection that has a stop light or round-a-bout on their maps so you can track that way. Also good for those who are inclined to rolling stops (my husband?!) is the preponderance of “give way” instead of stop signs – just slow and go. Also heavy use of round-a-bouts instead of traffic lights.

Quincy continues to be extremely grabby – especially at meal time. Nothing is safe! Even when you give him something to naw on he continues the occasional foray onto the table with the quick fist. And of course everything must go into his mouth for exploration. Aidan is sometimes a bit bothered by it especially when it is inadvertently Aidan’s toy. Yesterday Quincy was giving me big laughs – we spent quite a while laughing at/to each other. Fun. I am also giving him some sitting practice. With Aidan we had a “boppy” to use that mostly surrounded him and gave him support. With Quincy I wrap my legs in a circle around him for him to fall back upon. He is pretty strong but still only balances for very very short times on his own. I thought we had left the pterydactyl cries behind us – but he resurrected them in force today. Pete compared them to dolphin’s cries – an apt description.

Finally made it to the YMCA. There are actually quite a few in Auckland and they all have various things to offer. Our “local” one seems to be mostly pool oriented. There is a big lap pool, smaller play and class pool and a little toddlers pool. They have a very extensive selection of swim classes for the kids – including 3:1 kid teacher ratio starting at age 2 ½. So Aidan is signed up to start this week. He says he wants to do it but he is a bit water timid so will be interesting to see how it goes. There are only a few more lessons this session before winter break so we quit if he doesn’t like them. I (they) am not sure yet if my Y membership will get me in for free (it should) but pool use is only $2US and aerobics & classes only $3.50 so not bad. They have a large “crèche” – about 3 or 4 times the size of ours back home (not that that is much of a comparison as it is woefully inadequate) and it opens onto an outside play area. They had an arts & crafts table going on when we visited and Aidan was eager to stay and play (although with the toys not the art). Bad news is that it is only open in the mornings! And of course none of the yoga offerings are in the a.m. I went to yoga today (Sunday) while Pete took the kids down to a beach. Aidan came back muddy but happy – with another stick of course. It felt good to take yoga again. I am always interested how in a few regards I am extremely flexible – sometimes the most in that posture, and in other ways how incredibly inflexible I am. The human bodies are interesting things.

After checking out the Y on Friday we headed back to the large mall. Aidan had a hankering for a milkshake – and it has been close to a month since he had one. We found a gelato place that made them (normally they are called thickshakes here as milkshakes often just have whipped milk and flavoring). So far the ice cream continues to disappoint in this country (I remember the same thing in England). I picked up a sharp knife to use cooking while Aidan charmed the clerks. We went into their large bookstore – equivalent to a Barnes & Noble or Borders – with café etc. This one had a “kids zone” with toys to play with and trains etc. A lot of stores here have a pen that has toys in it that you can place your kid in while shopping. There are no gates so the kids stay put til you haul them back out. They had one here but it wasn’t near anything I wanted to look at so seemed a bit useless to me although not to Aidan. They also had little tables set up with stuff to color etc. Aidan was wearing underwear – he insists on it quite a bit these days. He told me he needed to go pee. We went. I didn’t ask him (as I had for the last 8 or so visits) if he needed to poop. Went back out and pretty soon I realize he is grunting in that way. Yep, poop in the pants. At least no pee to go with it so I didn’t have to change the trousers. I am not sure quite how to handle it – books say not to punish them, but he is fully aware of what he is doing at this point. This wasn’t an accident. The next day at home I saw him head into the grunting and asked him if he was pooping – he denied it in a way that was clear he was – so I whisked him off to the toilet where he preformed beautifully. If we can get this poop thing taken care of he will pretty much be done except for accidents. He is even dry 5 or 6 nights out of 7 now surprisingly.

That night we met Daddy at a Thai place John & Janell highly recommended, Sawadee. Really really good. Impeccable service. We’ll be back. When I asked Aidan if he wanted to go to a restaurant (answer is almost always yes) he asked if we would be going to the tower. He really wants to eat there at the Sky Tower (you see it in any postcard of the skyline). I told him that we were waiting for Nanma to arrive before we went. After dinner we hurried home for the finale of Survivor – they were running a bit behind here!

Saturday was a fairly typical Saturday I would say. Pete took the kids for story time at the library followed by playground and beach time while I saw the masseuse ($12ish for 30 min!) and we met up afterwards at a café. Later on I decided to walk back and sign up at our video store. I clocked it at 7 minutes for a leisurely stroll sans kids to the village. Nice. I had to return home for passport and proof of residence though. I figured they would get a credit card imprint and be happy, but no. New releases cost $8NZ which just seems so high but isn’t much more than back home –and there are lots of “deals” where you rent multiples for less. Not that we can watch much TV. They also gave me joining bonus where I get free video with each rental for a month. I returned with family in tow and we then headed to the beach for a few minutes and onto a pub. We both ordered hamburgers – and they came with eggs on top! We were a bit surprised.

Aidan was telling us or asking us about numbers on the mailboxes on the walk again. 14B – “1 and 4 and B” “yes Aidan, a 1 and a 4 makes 14”. Pete was walking close to the edge of the sidewalk on our way home – Aidan got quite agitated “you gotta be careful daddy!” so he wouldn’t fall in the road and be hit by a car. Wonder where he learned that?! Things I tell him get recycled. At least I know he is listening! He also told me all about how earlier a car didn’t stop for them in the zebra crossing (pedestrian way) and daddy had to yell to get the driver’s attention.

Today we mostly just mucked about. Pete was only able to check off haircut on his errand list on Saturday and most things are closed Sunday so he didn’t get any further. I got yoga checked off. We did a late afternoon walk around a neighborhood – we were disappointed with it. Otherwise the book has been very good at walking recommendations. I think this may be the first day I didn’t have a single item at a café or restaurant since we’ve been here!

I may not get a lot of computer time this week. Pete was up til 4 a.m. last night working (he started 8 p.m.ish?) so I imagine he will need the computer other nights too. And he heads back to Brisbane Wednesday returning Friday – and will I am sure have his computer with him. Not sure what I’ll be up to with the kids. Our schedule is actually fairly full on Wednesdays and Thursday mornings. I am looking for Monday and Friday activities (maybe I should head to the Y and go swimming while the kids are in the crèche!).

Thursday, June 06, 2002

Thursday has come and gone. Pete is using a co-worker’s car (identical to ours even down to color & the squirrel noises!) to commute in and out so we haven’t been driving him this week. I didn’t mind too much (and he was taking bus in the p.m.) as it got us out of the house and across town early(ish). Tuesday this week we went back over to Devonport for another playdate with Jordon/Samuel/Liza. Nice people. Took a bit of a walk to playground at adjacent park then to a beach. Jordan also had a couple of riding toys in the backyard from the toy library (although she assured me that there was an 18 month waiting list so not to bother) – Aidan enjoyed that. She also introduced Aidan to Vegemite – a hit. And peeling his own Mandarin Oranges. And me to cheese and gerkin sandwiches!

Today we puttered around “town” this morning. I drove us the ½ km as I knew we would be toting puzzles and drycleaning on our way back. We found and used the puzzle library 1st. A nifty idea - $25NZ per year and you can rent a couple puzzles and a couple videos each week for 2 weeks. Nice. A couple of new keys made. Then the regular library. I am impressed with New Zealand – the libraries are open 7 days a week and have good (business) hours. We walked in just as story time was apparently ending. I asked and learned that there is storytime 3 days a week! Again, I am impressed. Then off to the post office to mail Pete’s envelope full of huge expense receipts and a couple of things for Thomas & Zoe. Too bad I switched their addresses on the packages! Aidan was distracting me. Then our morning snacks (hot chocolate & mocha lattes with toasts today) at café. Pick up Daddy’s drycleaning and stop by the butcher’s shop. The butcher gave Aidan a “cherio” – solved the mystery (if you can call it that) of why our friends were stopped at customs when they reported that they were carrying Cheerios – customs thought they had sausages not cereal. Aidan gave it the thumbs up so I may buy some as snacks for days we don’t have any meat in our meals. I picked up a corn fed chicken for dinner. Then we dropped our stuff off at the car and proceeded back to Plunket (where puzzle library had been hosted in the a.m.). I wanted to meet the nurse. Another nifty New Zealand thing. Free nurse visits for your kids. I have a well baby appointment scheduled with her for Quincy in a couple of weeks. And she gave me a couple of brochures re food ideas for Quincy. We still haven’t figured out when our age groups are for playgroup but I hope to have that sorted out tomorrow. Got Aidan into a little gym class – but only for 2 weeks then they have a 4 week break! Well it is something. We’ll see how it compares to Acrosports. I also learned that one of the YMCAs (not too near us) has true gym classes starting at age 2 so may try to check that out.

Last night was the first night of trying to let Quincy cry it out to try to get him to sleep through the night (or at least stop waking every 2 hours). He can and does put himself to sleep anyway with sometimes a bit of grizzling. He wasn’t thrilled. I slept downstairs where Phyllis & Dave will be sleeping – and with the door closed I almost couldn’t hear anything. Pete slept next to him and only sometimes heard him. I did go in at 4.30 a.m. and fed him as he was used to getting a lot of milk at night and I didn’t want him to be too starved. Pete didn’t hear him crying or me in the room at that time. We’ll see how it goes tonite. I read that it is supposed to take 3 days… The only real bad (other than Quincy’s feelings) is that it is a bit cold and he doesn’t keep a blanket on if crying and rolling around. So I have him better bundled tonight (I added socks and sweater last night at 4.30 a.m.). Aidan also has gone to sleep for last couple of nights by himself (after a good month of requiring one of us to join him). He isn’t thrilled about it either but has been tired enough to cooperate.

Saw a nice big rainbow today. They really do occur pretty much everyday.

Monday, June 03, 2002

It is now Monday eve at the end of our 3 day weekend. Quincy is asleep and Pete is either asleep or faking it in Aidan’s bed to get Aidan down. We have some sleep issues to work through with that boy… Yesterday and today were much better days with a lot of sun, some wind and some rain (and of course some rainbows!). We decided to walk a stretch of the beachfront we (Pete) commute along everyday and ended up walking from Kohimara (??) (the next tiny village) to Mission Beach where we had our brunch, picked up shells on the beach and raked (Aidan) the shells, and played at the playground. And then back again. Pete & Aidan did a thorough exploration of Dingle Dell afterwards while I entertained Quincy at home. We got our first international calls in to our parents. I almost flubbed it with mine thinking of a 5 hour difference – but that is to west coast not east! Sara recommends a website http://timeanddate.com for cool conversion for talking on phones – check it out (use meeting planner feature).

This place truly is very scenic – I think even Pete agrees ;-) Today we headed off to Duder Regional Park that we had read about. It is 50km from downtown – about 50 min they reported. Pete drove at only about 80 instead of the 100k allowed – our car is so wind leaky and rattly that you feel you are going much faster than you are! They have 2 speeds here – 50 in the towns and 100 elsewhere unless posted. They save themselves a lot of speed signs that way I guess. I also heard that you can get a $300 ticket for doing 80 in a 50 zone – extremely easy to do along our stretch of water – there are no traffic lights nor many roads into it at all at places. I missed a ticket Saturday by being boxed in by other cars – and just ahead a guy was pulled over. Phew! Learned my lesson. Today we did see a 70 and an 80 zone. Anyway – Duder is off my maps and I was winging it but we made it. It is a little peninsula that is a bit south and east of here sticking into the Tamaki Strait. You can see something like 12 islands from it. There is a 4+km “farm trail” loop and another 1+km you can tack on at the end to go out to the point. We stopped shy of the point as we already had great views from up high and a nice spot for our picnic. Pete carried “both boys” as we like to say for at least 1km of the walk. I asked Aidan when we were done when he liked best. “the sheep” and then “the cows and sheep”. Lots of both up close and personal. The way the trail goes you end up quite high without feeling like you are doing much climbing. Nice.

Have ants here we discovered today – just like home.

Yesterday I said that we needed to change Quincy. Aidan got excited and said we should use the changing table (there is one although no pad and we have never used it) in the “hello room”. What a great description! There is a small mezzanine above the main living room set up as a study (desk and chair and changing table) and Aidan’s main experience of it has been with either us or him up on it calling down “HELLOOO” to whoever is below.

Saturday, June 01, 2002

It has been a while since I have 1) had computer access and 2) time. Pete had to head in the office (with Aidan thrown in car in p.j.s) at 7.15 one morning and returned home around 10.45 p.m. after a dinner with the team. A long day for us all! I think that was Wednesday – the boys (little ones that is) and I had our first “playdate”. We had met mom Liza with 2 ¼ yr old Jordan and 8 month Samuel at Mecca Café one day at Mission Beach Park/Playground. She was kind enough to invite us to play at her new house over in Devonport. (where we went on ferry previously). She also had over a friend Fiona and her 3 yr old Conner. Fiona had lived in S.F. for 3 years a few years back. We had a very nice time. Aidan enjoyed playing with Jordan’s toys – esp a Thomas train and a digger truck. At one point Jordan wanted his digger back (he isn’t nearly as verbal as Aidan). He was told that he could have it after Aidan went home. He disappeared – shortly to return with Aidan’s boots in hand! There are ways to get your point across without words! His mom didn’t get it at first but I thought it very funny and Aidan totally ignored it even when the boots crept onto his lunch plate.

Quincy blessed me with a night of 2 5 hour stretches of sleep. Unfortunately that was followed by a screaming (very unusual) night of hourly wakings. Turns out he had a mild fever similar to the one Aidan had on the weekend – in that it seemed to last only for a day (and it was a very cranky/clingly day too). He has at best done 3 hours sleep at a time since then and not consistently. At least he is back to being pretty good about staying in his crib. So I am a bit tired.

We checked out our local Dingle Dell Reserve just a bit just before dark the other day. There were plenty of sticks for Aidan to collect and a tiny (but steep) bridge at the entrance to make him happy. I think he returned with Pete today. There are public toilets near the entrance – have to say this town really has the toilet coverage down. I am very appreciative since I have a tiny bladder potty training little boy in tow. There are the toilets in the park, ones at the local community center, ones at the beach in 2 places – and many more continuing down the beach toward the city. We usually use ones at cafes we are frequenting, but it is nice to know they are available.

Our little town of St Heliers is better than I expected/realized. There are probably at least a dozen places to eat, 2 travel centers, 3 banks, 2 or 3 bakeries, a butchers, a fruit/veggie place, 2 chemists, a small grocery, a mall! (11 small shops), 2 bookstores, a hardware store, a toy store, a kids clothing store, several men & women boutiques, a nice library, a post office, a lawn bowling club, a Plunket (more about that). Even a BP gas station and maybe a Shell one. All in about 3 blocks. Oh yeah – videos and drycleaner too.

Friday (yesterday) we walked down to check things out more thoroughly. We clocked it today at 7/10 of a kilometer for what that is worth. It was a pretty easy walk and flat except for the driveway to get up to our little row of 4 houses. Aidan entertained us by telling us what the numbers were on mailboxes – fortunately as we got closer to town there were some apartment buildings with as many as 9 numbers. It was a gorgeous day – sunny and warm. I had to strip down to my T-shirt for lunch out on the café deck and even got a bit of pink in my face. A bit of rain did appear while we were eating (we take a long time). No one seemed to have any umbrellas or raingear nor stop for the rain. And that seems typical. Pete comments he is the only one he knows who carries an umbrella. They all just seem to ignore it. Found a café we really liked and returned for brunch this morning. I even had the same thing (smoked chicken in ricotta in filo roll on green salad with pineapple/mango chutney – which I have become very fond of) Aidan requested “chicken” both times. A couple of older women commented when we left at how delightful my boys were and how amazed they were that I would go out alone with 2 that age. I figure practice makes perfect! Aidan has had a lot of lunch out practice… At first I was deciding that I lived in a somewhat geriatric community judging by the foot traffic. But the women with “pushchairs” (strollers) were out a bit later. I guess you see the people who don’t go to work during the day on a weekday – and guess who that is.

After lunch we decided to find Plunket. It is an organization that has many community branches. They are staffed with a nurse (I was told I should register with my local Plunket nurse) you can see at Clinic or schedule home visit. So you can see a nurse for help instead of paying and going to Dr. Not bad. Turns out it was a little building with a little playyard out back – and there was a mom’s group going on. 4 year olds I was told although Aidan fit in fine – and there were several babies too. Apparently there will be playgroups for both Aidan and Quincy’s ages for me to check out but the schedule was missing. I’ll check back next week. I left a message later for the nurse too – I’d like to get the name of a Dr etc. They have puzzle library Thursday mornings which we’ll be sure to check out. We could also join a toy library/exchange but I don’t think it would be worth it for cost and timeframe – I understand you get on waiting list for certain items – wouldn’t do us much good!

So all round a good exploring day. And naps all round to finish off. Pete has been taking the bus home a few nights a week. It takes a while – about 20 min to get here on bus but a bit of a long walk (15 min) on his office side – but all downhill to the Quay. He actually has a choice of 2 different lines to choose from although has only ridden on one so far.

Today was probably the worse weather day we have had. Rainy most of the day, no sun at all and cool. This country is known at the country of the long white cloud. I was beginning to think it could also be called the land of the rainbow as I have seen at least one most days – but not today. This afternoon after 4 we headed off to find Botany Town Centre which I believed to have a number of stores (Pete wanted some new clothes, me ditto). Once we found it (roads are exceedingly poorly marked – almost never is the road you are on posted) it turned out to be a huge collection of mall and also big stores. Much better than that other mall we had been directed to. Of course stores closed at 5.30 so we had about an hour. Aidan fell asleep shortly after leaving home and only woke when put back into the car to go home!

Tomorrow we may set off and do a drive / sightseeing if the weather is a bit better. Kind of squandering our 3 day weekend (Queen’s birthday you know) but it is nice to settle in a bit and get our bearings. I feel pretty comfortable with the area but Pete hasn’t seen that much of it and we both could use some computer time doing mundane things like bills.

Pete has taken to calling Aidan a vampire. For a bit now he has objected to the sun – esp while in car – the sun, it hurts! (Of course my Mom asked me if I knew who that sounded like – yours truly as a child). But he also has decided he doesn’t want to see his reflection in the glass – and we have a lot of it in this house. They also have yards and yards (or meters and meters) of curtains which we try to close at night to keep in the heat (and eliminate reflections!). Last night Aidan caught sight of himself in the TV and wanted us to make it go away! We explained that we were NOT moving the TV – he could just look the other way.

I don’t remember if I have said much about the house. It is nice. Phyllis will be coming in 3 weeks and will stay with us for the duration. Dave will join in at some point too. It should be much more comfortable than having guests back in S.F. Oh yeah - Phyllis, if you read this you don't need to bring an umbrella. We brought 2 with us. I bought a small one (fits in purse) (Pete was envious when he saw it today) at purse store a few days back. We picked up a golf sized one in St Heliers today for about $7US - we couldn't pass it up at that price. And I bought Aidan a small one as I left his at home - bad mommy. So we have more umbrellas currently than people!