Wednesday, July 17, 2002

Well, it has been a while! I would like to ask who my audience here is. If you read this, drop me an email at please. I know Ginette can be counted on and sooner or later my parents… and Phyllis and Dave are now with us here in NZ. Pete has yet to read any blogger accounts.

Aidan’s bedtime / sleeping is a disaster – he NEEDS to have someone with him now at night every night. I think we have had one night in this house he spent completely alone. He always said he NEEDED someone but we tried to convince him he just WANTED someone. He truly is fearful though of something. Usually he says a Wolf. No matter how much we explain and he says he understands that there are no wolves in this country, it doesn’t stop the fear. What really brought it home for me was one night when both Pete & I declined to lay down with him for very long (until asleep that is), I offered that he could go sleep up in our bed for a while with Quincy (who is in co-sleeper next to bed). He took me up on the offer. When we got up there he asked me if Quincy was going to protect him!! Rather funny to think of sleeping Quincy protection someone! So, guess we’ll hope that once we are home again we can leave these fears behind (and develop new ones I’m sure). Also I plan to move Quincy in with him which may be a big help to perhaps both of them. Now need to figure out how to stop Quincy waking almost hourly…wanting to eat.

Aidan has a new friend “Boa Buddy” for the pool. He has squashed him enough around that house that Boa has a slow leak. Boa is 6’ long or so and serves as an inflatable “noodle” in the pool – thus can keep Aidan floating. Aidan loves it and we stand on the bottom and use both hands to vigorously splash Boa away from us so that we can then go swimming after him and pounce on him. Aidan has come A LONG WAY from where we started. He is continually blowing bubbles just for fun. The goggles also purchased give him a sense of security too. He still won’t put his head under, or his goggles, but we are getting there. He now automatically kicks when in the water and also does his “wheels on the bus” hands. He can’t add bubbles and maintain the 1st 2 – he seems stuck at 2 out of 3, but he’ll get there. Unfortunately we had a substitute teacher he didn’t like but Clare should be back next week.

Aidan is quite the little maid in training. Or do you call them cleaners? If he sees a drip of water on the kitchen floor he runs off to bring back the mop to clean it up. One night he spent well over ½ hour on his hands and knees wiping the floor with a rag. He also likes to use the brooms and has become proficient with the small dustpan and brush. He was using the big broom to brush down the windows in the kitchen this a.m. – needs work on window cleaning concept, but… We have been getting a chuckle out of it all.

Don’t know how much I have reported on our recent sight seeing. Not much I don’t think. We have had very soggy couple of weeks although we seem to be into a sunny stretch now that is showing up for the next 10 days on (we’ll see!). A couple Saturdays ago we decided to head to Rangitoto – the big island (volcano) we see when looking out our windows. We headed off to the ferry and it started to pour. And I mean pour. We weren’t able to SEE the island any more. Phyllis was just going to drop us off and then head home and buy our tickets to South Island at travel agent. She and Pete thought that a trip to the island seemed like a horrendous idea so we stopped at Starbucks instead. I have enough experience here to know that everything does blow through, and the weather report was actually for generally good weather. Sure enough, before our coffees were finished the sun was shining and we could see what would have been our ferry heading across the water. We stopped off at a lookout point and enjoyed some sun before heading to travel agent, butchers etc. I stayed home and let Quincy have a nice nap and Pete & Aidan caught an afternoon ferry. I understand they had a nice time – took sort of a tractor pulling a open traincar like thing up the hill to near the top of the hill. You can walk it, but probably not recommended when you have a dozy toddler you have to carry! They gave me a call when they returned and I met them for dinner. Aidan was so sleepy that he was actually great – he let us have a nice conversation and he quietly sang in between bites we offered him.

Last weekend Pete decided he could make it a 3 day weekend so we headed off to Rotorua. Also a bit of a preview of what travel might be like in South Island where we will need to log 4 or so hours in the car on quite a few days. Rotorua is a geothermal area about 3 ½ hours south of here a bit higher in elevation on a big lake. It is also the center of Maori culture – at least there are still a lot living there and they now make their livings catering to tourist (although reportedly they have been doing that ever since Europeans first appeared). It turned out to be our first really great weather weekend – hardly even a cloud in sight. It was colder than here by almost 10 degrees C and should be a preview of what some of the South Island temps are like – manageable but gave us ideas for what we need to pack. It is very scenic drive there and back – we came back along the motorway and have to say that was very attractive. Very lush green hills and blue waters and lots of sheep/cows/deer. We drove out same way as we headed to Coromandel and the view of the Coromandel mountain range (if they are considered mountains?) was very pretty off to our right beyond the green hills. The kids did great in the car both ways to our delight. We do have to spend some time singing to Quincy. We need more songs for our repetoire! Phyllis has a few new ones for us. Quincy’s favorite seems to be I’ve Been Working on the Railroad (we have sung that one a lot around here) and Aidan is fixated on Old MacDonald right now. He even had trains and planes on his farm!

We got into Rotorua itself and were surprised to find “NO” vacancies posted everywhere. We actually had our eye on a place on another little lake over – 15 min or so out of town. We gave them a call and they said they had a lot of room. I guess there was still school break people in Rotorua. So besides driving, stopping for lunch, finding our hotel by the Lake, and dinner, we didn’t do much. The hotel had a trampoline that had Aidan all excited. And ducks and swans in the lake to enjoy. We had to drive into Rotorua for meals though. We left it a bit late for breakfast in the Aidan and had to endure food cranky Aidan. After our protracted (but good) breakfast at Fat Dog’s we headed to check out some geothermal & Maori stuff. We decided to kill 2 birds with one stone and went to a Maori village – where they are still clearly living – that had a bunch of hot springs and a geyser etc. We listened to their concert in the meeting house which was very enjoyable. They started off with sort of war chanting which Aidan didn’t like. Quincy was fascinated throughout. They did a Maori version of Hokey Pokey using the Maori names for body parts with full audience participation. We then were shown around the village by a native. It was very interesting to hear him tell us how they use the hot springs in their daily lives – the steam vents for cooking meat, the hot pool for veggies, diverted water for baths. He said most of them don’t have hot water in their houses as they even use the natural water for doing dishes – just run out and pick up a pot full and take it home to use in the sink. It did smell a bit – that yummy sulfur smell. He said the food ended up tasting great though thanks to the various minerals in the water. We could understand how these guys had a pretty cushy life comparatively a few hundred years ago. We got to see the geyser going off for a long while – it is a fairly active one apparently. We also got to listen to explanations about their wood carvings – quite interesting I thought. Pete missed it as he was off on a potty break with Aidan. (Who is 100% potty trained at this point – even at night – no accidents in weeks).

Pete was interested in going up the Skyline Gondola to the top of a not too tall hill (in my opinion). They had a “family luge” track he was interested in trying. He and Aidan did it twice – once the easy and once the medium one. Pete said it was fun. Phyllis, Quincy & I waited at the bottom – poor move on our part. It was open to outside (cold) and only one little bench to sit on. And Pete had the car keys… Quincy took a quick nap and I scoped out the Rainbow Springs facility (while toting Q) next door.

Then we headed for mid afternoon snack. Then onto the Polynesian Spa in center of town. We had to use the Family Pools area. They had a chlorinated pool that was warmed – but it was essentially outside although there was a roof over head. Ditto for changing rooms – burr! I am not sure the temp in F degrees – but probably high 40s at that point. There were 2 hot pools we could use – both adjacent but under the stars. The stars were magnificent too with Milky Way very very visible. It was all a bit cold for Quincy so we got our after maybe 45 minutes but Aidan & Pete swam on. Boa and goggles were with us. There was also a water slide Aidan enjoyed with Daddy catching him at the bottom. I didn’t hear but reportedly Aidan’s screams were a thing to behold when finally dragged out quite a while later. Quincy and I were inside in the gift store area…

The next day we were back to Fat Dog (dinner had been there too) for breakfast. Then onto Rainbow Springs for Farm Tour, Wild Animal area, and Bee Talk. Quite nice actually. 45 minutes of Farm presentation. They showed us how to milk a cow (and kids got to try) and got to pet a big big bull, they sheared a sheep – looks like a lot of work. A “strong eye dog” tried to herd 3 of the sheep with little success. Old experienced ewes were stomping their feet at her and at one point put themselves behind a pen opposite her and she couldn’t get them out. She is only about ½ way through her 2 year training. You had to feel sorry for her! They had another dog – a Huntsman I think – New Zealand breed that is good at barking at the sheep to move them alone – not good for detail type work I don’t think. We should have some cute photos of all that. We also saw butter churned etc. The animal tour was good too – lots of native species and wild trout (area is known for their trout – and you can’t buy them, only catch them). We theoretically saw Kiwis in the nocturnal house – but it could have just been a brown bump too. All in all we spent several hours there and then headed off back to home. We stopped for late lunch 45 minutes out then drove rest of the way while boys mostly slept.

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