The Reality of Type 1 Diabetes

Our lives have some interesting challenges which we face head-on when they appear, just like many other families.

One I don’t often post about; is my husband’s Type 1 Diabetes.

He keeps it under control most of the time because he has had it for so long, but some nights we get taken by surprise. This is the reality of type 1 Diabetes.

At 1:10am, I wake him as the bed is soaked from sweat. I immediately know he has crashed.

I run downstairs and get his test kit and his blood sugar is at 3.1. I get him up and make sure he is not too fuzzy so that he is able to walk down the stairs by himself.  As he walks down, I hold my breath hoping he won’t fall because we don’t have handrails.

We go to the kitchen and I get him some things to eat and drink, and then grab some towels and dry him off. He is covered head to toe in sweat and a small puddle is already forming around his feet.

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Now we wait. I watch the slow transformation as he goes from holding himself up by leaning in the counter with weak legs and a cloudy head, to standing up freely and looking like himself again. I begin to breathe easier and relax as soon as I know that the threat has passed.

After some soda, sweets and crackers, his blood sugar is at 7.8.

It is now 1:45am AND we head back to change the sheets and go back to sleep. I know he will sleep well because he is exhausted, but I will likely sleep very little. I know that I will keep waking up and checking him because I love him.

I love my Big, Sweaty, Sexy, Wookie.

#diabetichubby #type1diabetes #diabetesawareness

Take a Break with IHC 2018

We were awarded a getaway again this year from IHC. IHC does amazing things for special needs families here in New Zealand. They offer many services as well as a library that we can access for great resources on Special Needs. The Take a Break program is just amazing and so many businesses get on board to donate hotel rooms, entertainment coupons and even gift cards for spending cash.

Last year we went to Wellington; to the Wellington Zoo and TePapa. You can read about that getaway more in the links. This year, they offered a few locations, but we again chose Wellington. It is one of our favourite destinations. We were presented with one night’s accommodation at Distinction Hotel Wellington, and a $200 gift card.

It was a great location as everything was in walking distance from the hotel. Also, we were able to reserve a parking space at the hotel in advance, which if you know anything about Wellington, is a must!

The Distinction was lovely and we all felt very comfortable there. They even had a swimming pool which made our kids very happy. Me, not so much, as it was under the hotel and all I could think about was if there was an earthquake we would all be buried. Yikes.

The Distinction Hotel

Our kids love exploring new things, probably because we have always done it. We try to incorporate fun and learning in creative ways. We popped into Timezone, which is an Arcade, for a few quick games while we waited for the Wellington Night Market on Cuba Street to get going. We wandered around afterwards and looked in the shops. Sophia absolutely loved being out at night time and walking around seeing all the lights and interesting people and Buskers / Street Musicians. I have always loved walking around at night and I honestly miss that about California.

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We all really enjoyed the Night Markets and the food choices that were on offer. It is always great for everyone to be able to try what they want, so this is always an ideal dinner choice. We had an interesting combination; Sophia had Salmon Penne Alfredo, Max had Mac-n-cheese, Brent had a Moroccan Lamb Gyro, and I had a Chicken Chimichanga. It was all pretty good. We took home some treats for breakfast too.

When we got back is when the kids wanted to swim, and we figured being night time, it wouldn’t be very busy. We were right, there was no one else there, which is great because it was very loud, like an echo chamber. We didn’t stay very long as it was pretty cold, but they had great fun. They both love being in the water.

Swimming Pool at Distinction

After a good night’s sleep, we got up and got ready for the day. The boys had run to the store the night before and bought some chocolate mousse. We put it into the funnel cakes and added some berries and it made a beautiful and delicious breakfast.

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We decided to head to Weta Studios and see if they had any space on the tours. They didn’t, so we decided to have a look around. It was so awesome seeing all the props from so many of our favourite shows and movies. Seeing the workmanship up close is such a great way to appreciate the talent that the creators there have. We totally geeked out, and yes, we did embarrass our kids, but they expect that from us by now. We were there for a very long time as there is so much to look at and learn about. We will be sure to book ahead for the next trip down, so we can see the behind the scenes magic. Even if you can’t get in for a tour, it is well worth the trip.

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After we left Weta, we decided to head back to Timezone and play for a while as we hadn’t stayed very long the night before. Everyone always enjoys a good arcade in this family. We were all in awe of how Sophia’s talent at the Crossy Road game. She got heaps of tickets, which she later used to buy candy bars for everyone. We were all beginning to get rather ‘hangry’ by this pint so after wandering around grumbling at each other we decided we better eat.

Zambrero Mexican with a Mission.jpgWe were really stoked to find Zambrero as we all love most Mexican food. I say most because a lot of what is called ‘Mexican’ food in New Zealand is far from what I grew up eating or what I tasted when in Mexico. It still tasted pretty good though, even though I am a bit biased. The best part is that by eating here, we were helping to feed others, and that can never be a bad thing. we always try to teach the kids that we can make a difference in the world, with how we spend our money. They felt good about eating here as well.

After lunch, we headed back home and on the way we stopped off at a few sites and stopped for ice creams and milkshakes.

This was another great Take a Break getaway. We are so thankful to IHC, The Distinction Wellington, and all the sponsors who help make this programme a possibility for families like ours.

We look forward to applying again next year.

Second thoughts about school

Sophia has really been struggling this year with school. It really is amazing what a difference a teacher can make.

Last year her teacher was the first to actually take her Autism seriously, as he has relatives who are Autistic as well. Most teachers so far, just expect her to fit in and don’t check in with her to see how she is doing. She thrived last year.

She is bored at school. She has learned a lot of what they are just starting to learn in her class so she gets bored and then disconnects. She also has to take Woodworking every Wednesday which she hates and is extremely afraid she will cut off her finger.

Combine her fear with her sensitive hearing, and the fact that her anxiety about the class kicks in as soon as she wakes up, and her nervous system gets overwhelmed before she even goes there. She even spends some Tuesday nights awake, unable to sleep due to stressing about the next day.

She has been home a lot this year, for a few reasons. There have been some really terrible viruses going around this year and we seem to get every one!

She has been struggling with her menses as she has a heavy flow and there is no allowances made with regard to PE while she is dealing with that, and any woman who has worn pads can tell you, running or playing sports while bleeding heavy makes a real mess and you get worse cramping.

They worship sports and physical activity here and I just don’t get it. It seems like there is a running or biking competition every couple weeks and of course it is mandatory that you participate.

This angers me, because it strips our children’s right to consent about what happens with their bodies. This is a huge issue and not only for girl’s but also, the boys. They see and perpetuate that you can force people to do what they don’t want to do just by pressuring them and telling them they have to. Also, it takes away the child’s ability to be sensitive to what their bodies are telling them. It interferes with their Autonomy and individuality, which is sadly, what schools were originally designed to do. This all needs to change.

Another issue for her, is that she keeps getting sick, some off it is anxiety, which has always manifested as stomach issues for her.  Also, she is environmentally sensitive, so she feels seismic, barometric and electromagnetic variances, so any changes in those areas and she is affected physically and emotionally. She gets that from me, I have the same thing. This has been steadily increasing the past couple years.

Her psychic and empathic abilities are also harder to ignore at this age, so she feels other people and knows things about them. It can be confusing when someone’s words don’t match the energy they are sending out. This is such a tricky age with Extra-Sensory development (now called Sensory Processing Disorder.)

She has had some of her tics coming back which indicates stress. Her appetite has been all over the place and so have her moods. The rage that comes form her is quite overwhelming at times, and I know she needs help channeling that again.

I work with her of course, but catching it in the moment is crucial to helping her recognise the subtle changes before they get to that point.

This illness, anxiety and stress… is all from school. I am seriously considering taking her out and homeschooling her again.

I know she will have great opportunities for learning, and make friends within the homeschooling community. They have an amazing Network here locally and do some really great activities.

Her class is taking a trip to Wellington next week and she can’t go. Brent asked to be one of the parents, but he wasn’t chosen, so she won’t go. I know this is the best decision for her, but it still sucks that she missed out on the opportunity.

We sat down with her and explained the trip and what they would be doing. Just the thought of it made her anxious so we decided as a family we would keep her home due to health reasons.

I can’t have her so far away in that environment without one of us there if she needs help. If she had a full blown meltdown, they wouldn’t know how to handle her. Also, her classmates may not treat her the same once they witnessed a full meltdown and we can’t allow that to happen.

We will take her on a trip down there as a family and see some if the places she missed. She has been to some of it already, when we took our family holiday last year. Thanks to IHC and their Take A Trip Getaway package they so generously awarded us. You can read more about Day 1 here and day 2 here.

Brent and I will talk with her again and go over what her options are. If she is going to keep missing school, I would prefer that she is homeschooled. Right now, she is in a state of confusion and the anxiety and stress are affecting her physically and that is not good.

At least if she homeschooled, I know she is still meeting (and exceeding) her education requirements and can join in their activities and make some friends within the group. She gets along with everyone at school, but yet has no one she is really connecting with.

We will see what happens, but for now, she is in bed, and will stay home again with a slight fever. She has a head cold and a sore throat. She has also been very angry, sleepy and withdrawn for the past few days and her tics have increased. I know she wouldn’t be ok in her classroom in this shape.

We are having a lot of seismic unrest, and that always affects her, and myself. I think we will have a good quake soon to release some of the pressure. Hopefully it will be out to sea and not affect anyone directly, but I also know that God always has a plan.

Now to make a plan with my girl and see how she feels about trying to homeschool again, or even do Te Kura (homeschooling with a Teacher that visits once per week).

Finnic for Ace

Art by 8yellowcats for +Ace (The Parademic)

On a lighter note, you can check out some of her latest works of art here, and some of her older work. This is how she copes, doing art. She is really pushing her boundaries and trying new things and I love watching her artwork blossom. She is so talented and I would love to get her into some art classes. Maybe we can take them together. 😀

This post was read and approved by Sophia. 😉 Thanks for stopping by and have a great day. Feel free to leave a comment.

 

 

 

Grandpa John’s Birthday

We all went to Brent’s step-sister’s house for a celebration of his step-father’s Birthday. We stopped and picked up Devin on the way.

This is the first birthday without John since he passed, so we wanted to all be together with Brent’s sister and her family and his mother Frances, to celebrate in his honour.

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It was such a lovely time, and the kids enjoyed spending time with their cousins.

We ordered pizzas then Brent and Ben went to pick them up while the kids played.

Johns 76th Birthday play

Tamaryn had a beautiful table display ready to light and we sang for Papa John and then had cake. Nana blew out the candles on the cake, and the kids blew out the heart. It was very touching and a lovely tribute.

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Nana told the kids, that she was not able to get a present for Grandpa this year, so she would give all the kids presents instead and gave them each a bag of their favourite lollies.

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Nana Frances with Devin, Max Sophia, Sophie, Stevie, and Sadie.

We took turns holding sweet baby Surie. She is so precious, just like all her sisters.

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After they ate their chocolate, there was lots of giggles and squeals. Then, it went very quiet so I went to check on them and this is how I found them…

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Sophia, Stevie, Sophie and Sadie all reading together.

All of our girls are so amazing. Each with a unique and dynamic personality.

It was such a great evening, we turned what separately could have been a lonely and painful occasion into something beautiful celebrated all together.

I can’t wait to have family time again very soon!

Trialing School Day 1

Sophia is off to school today for a 20 day trial with the expectation to have her enrolled if all goes well.

This was her idea, she has been talking about it for a month, but last week she said she was ready for me to make an appointment so we did.

This past week we have been meeting with the new (to us) Principal and the Teacher of her school to set it all up.

She got the news on Friday that she would be going back, so she had time to process over the weekend. She was very excited that she was going to start today.

She has been practicing getting up with her alarm for the past couple weeks, and getting herself ready so that she would be all good to go this morning.

She showered last night so she would have less to this morning. She got up on her own to her alarm, got dressed, ate breakfast and did her hygiene routine before getting her bag ready and helping me pack her lunch.

Her Teacher is the same one who taught our son Max in year 6. He also worked with Sophia when she was there before so she is also familiar with him. He has also known Brent since they were in school together.

He is a lovely man who has extensive first hand ASD knowledge as a co-carer for his adult autistic brother-in-law.

This Teacher and the new Principal are why we decided to trial her this year when Sophia asked if she could go back to school. She knows she is ready and we are pretty confident that she is right.

We had excellent meetings and discussed her diagnosis and all of her possible triggers and preferences. I went prepared with a printout and he was happy to have it. Here is the link Diagnosis and Triggers for Teacher. We also discussed her strengths and methods for success.

He said most of the triggers and allowances are similar to those of his Brother-in-law so it was easy for him. What surprised and delighted me, is that he even knows the intuitive nature of the sensory issues with regard to feeling others emotions.

He also knows how sensitive the girls are at menses and said staying home is not an issue and of he knows when it is, he knows to be more sensitive with the girls.

We are really looking forward to seeing how well she transitions back into school. She has grown so much in the past couple of years, especially with regard to her self-confidence and knowing who she is.

I took this photo this morning of her first ‘school’ day of year 6.

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“I am nervcited Mom”

We went in early, and it was nice seeing the teacher and some of her old friends waiting for her when she arrived.

He assigned her a desk next to her BFF when she was there last, so she was even more excited. When I left, another of her old friends was showing her around and she was settling in.

She knows her ‘safe space’ and that she is allowed to go there when she gets overwhelmed. She also knows the school well and the staff and that she can ring me.

I am sure she will have a fabulous day and I am very happy for her. We are confident she will breeze past her 20 day trial and want to continue.

I will write more after school, now I am going to bake a cake for the family as they are all awesome and deserve to be spoiled.

 

 

 

Menarche or First Moon

Today my sweet little 10 year old started her period!

I am still in shock, but knew it was coming. She is so young still. I asked her if I should write in the blog about her Menarche, or post it to Facebook, and she said, “Of course mum, do both, it is exciting! I am glad I got it.”

We have had a great outlook on periods in our house. I never complain about getting it and I am happy each time. When I get cramps, I can feel them coming and usually can take my medication before they get too bad. Some days I miss that window and I have to lay down as I get really ill, but I never complain just state what is happening.

She has seen how the process goes through me, we are all very open about it as it is a natural body process. This was all modelling as I wanted her to be excited about getting it as it really is a miracle how our bodies work. I pray she does not get the pain, cold sweats, nausea and sickness like I use to as a teen. My early period days were horrible. Endometriosis is common in my family.

We have had some great conversations about menstruation and the body so it is no wonder that she was looking forward to getting her first moon. I am due tomorrow, so we are in sync as well, which does help.

Brent is amazingly supportive, and always buys my menstrual products and never makes a fuss. He even brings a big block of dark chocolate whenever I ask him to buy them. He also spoils me rotten and sometimes he brings me Baileys ice cream too. I am sure he will spoil Soph as well.

Sophia’s moods lately have been all over the show, but the past two days, she has been super sweet and cuddly and having food cravings like pancakes, so I made them for breakfast. She was stoked when she woke up because of the smell of them cooking.

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I had spoken to her Aunties and cousin in the states, about getting her gifts and a card for her first moon celebration and they mailed them this week, so that is perfect timing. I have told her Nana here in NZ as well, so she will be at the party.

I had a very old Capricorn necklace that was her great grandmother’s that I have been keeping for her for this day, so I gave that to her today, rather than waiting for the party. I know she won’t wear it, she does not like anything around her neck but she tried it on and has put it in her special box for keepsakes. I wanted her to have something today from her Ancestors.

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Brent will take her to lunch this weekend and get her something special, a bracelet or something from him. This is a tradition in my family. My Papa took me to buy a dress when I started, and my step-dad and mother took me for pizza and dancing to the jukebox to celebrate. Both are lovely memories that I cherish.

We will wrap all the gifts when they arrive as well as ours and get or bake a cake, and she wants pizza, so that is very cool. It will just be a small gathering for family.

I will also have a ceremony for her in our Red & Magenta Tent to celebrate her Menarche and welcome her to the Women’s circle.

I will also be letting her join me in the Womb Blessing ceremonies and give her this card. She has been wanting to do them with me for over a year.

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We have been preparing for a while for this day as I started mine at age 11, and her aunties and cousins were all about a similar age or younger, so we knew it could come at a young age for her as well.

She rang daddy and told him and he congratulated her and teased her a bit. Then she told Max when he got home and he ran in his room, then came back out and congratulated her. He had brought her home a slice of apple crumble from cooking class he had made so that was a nice synchronicity. She loved their reactions and giggled at their antics.

Brent will bring home a box of chocolates for her. We already had her products and I have showed her what to do. He is also bring a booklet by Miranda Gray called Let’s Go Menstrual which is a great resource for her. You can get it here by signing up for her newsletter.

Let's Go Menstrual

I have also added Period Tracker App to her phone and will show her how to use it after it is finished charging up. This is a valuable tool in tracking your cycles, symptoms and moods. The logo is a pink flower if you decide to get it. I use it and it is very accurate for me.

So here we are in the next phase of her development already.

She sure is growing up quickly but she will always be my baby.

 

 

 

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Day two of our Adventure weekend

We were up early and all pretty excited about the day. We left the hotel at 9 and went in to town to get a better look around before we left.

It feels a lot like parts of New Plymouth and has some great little shops and cafes.

I wanted a coffee so we stopped in at The Coffee Gallery. They had decaf so I got a decaf mocha and Max got a Turkish delight hot chocolate. Brent and Sophia did not want anything. They were soooo delicious! Very cute little shop with a lot of artwork and jewellery for sale. Definitely a must for a great coffee and atmosphere.

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We still had time to spare, so we popped in at the OpShop up the block and found an Avengers cartoon dvd set in a metal case to add to our geekdom collection.

Then we headed up the road to Hobbiton! Road signs have never been so exciting.

The drive there was so beautiful, and the expected thunder storm had passed over night to leave us a beautiful day for our adventure.

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And there in the green countryside we found Hobbiton!

We arrived 15 minutes early for our 10am private tour so we had a quick rest room stop and a look around the gift shop while we waited. What an amazing  gift shop. We were going to but a felt Gandalf Hat for Lamby, but I will just make her one myself.

The tour was just us and our tour guide, Waiata, in a private bus. It was absolutely perfect as it was pretty busy there.

Our Guide was great and shared a bunch of movie trivia and facts about filming as we went along. The drive in was beautiful. This is still a working farm which is pretty awesome.

And here we are at the entrance. They had a huge umbrella station at the entrance too for when it rains. that was pretty cool. They handed out a small pamphlet to each of us for the tour.

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Up the path we started off with a couple homes at Gandolf’s Cutting and then went through the garden. It was just magical! All the small details, like the rabbit hutch, bird feeders and even the little books in the windows.

At the gate for the garden, he told us how they created the lichen with sawdust and paint. Also they employ full time gardeners to keep the crop seasonal and fresh.  The tour guides also help with maintaining the site which is really awesome.

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Next we headed toward the frog pond and the orchard and saw more hobbit homes.

There was so much detail and character for each home. I just loved seeing the workmanship that went into, and continues to happen on this site. Look at the chairs and the smoked fish and even the fences are all handmade. My favourite things were the mailboxes and hanging bird houses.

We made it to the Frog Pond and Orchards towards Gully’s Gardens.

At Gully Gardens there were more homes in a small group which were fenced off. I would have loved to e able to just sit down there and relax in the energy of this place. A bit up the path, there was one home with small jars out front that were so cute, and the firewood area was pretty cool too.

Next we walked up a steep hill and looked at the upper area where more homes were added on for the Hobbit movie.

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We then carried on toward Bag End, stopping at more hobbit homes along the way.

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And there, at the top of the hill, we found Bag End. It was the highlight of the tour.

We headed down towards the Green Dragon, but along the way we stopped off at more homes. We loved looking at all the detail of each unique little home and yard.

Next we went to the Carpenter’s home and Brent got to try out the tools. Very clever craftsmanship in this small area. The small ladder and the sawhorses were so cute. That is also the canopy from the backside of the party area.

We followed the path along to Samwise Gamgee’s home. It was a larger scale in a block of homes.  The yellow door that you see in the pictures is Sam’s place.

We carried on over the ‘Merry Meander’, over a small bridge and through some bush.

This brought us to ‘The Water’ and another large tent and an ale wagon. The opposite side is a small pond where we saw two black swans and their young ones decide to go for a swim.

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We then came up on the bridge and fishing area near the Watermill.

We reached the Green Dragon Inn and went in for a specialty drink while we waited for lunch. I tried the stout and Brent had the ale. Max had a ginger beer and Sophia had water in a cup like ours. They were really good. The decor was so cool inside too.

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It was lunch time after this so we headed into the Festive Lunch tent and had some delicious food.

It was a lovely atmosphere, with rich colours everywhere, buntings and flowers. The food was a buffet style and was very nice, especially the dessert table.

There was even a very plump cat who decided to sit next to Sophia and got a couple scratches (and bits of her meal.)

WP_20170811_333After a quick stop in the loo, we headed to the 2nd gift shop and had a look on our way back to the van. There was a cute tiny door outside the loo and the shop looked like a Hobbit’s shop with some great stuff in there!

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Max got to sit in the front on the way out as he had offered to get the gate for our Guide Waiata.

We went back to the start and after making Waiata pose for a picture, we headed in to the large gift shop. We the sat for a bit while Sophia wrote out the postcard for Nana. They could be mailed from there, so it was even cooler to send. I wore my new elf ears and the kids were not impressed. My husband however, thought I was adorable.

What an epic adventure this was. I would dare say the best one yet in my life and I am looking forward to going back for the evening dinner tour one day. Thank you Waiata and all the staff and workers of Hobbiton, you are all amazing; keep up the great work.

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We left Hobbiton just after 1 and headed back to Tirau on our way to Rotorua. It was such a beautiful drive. We also snapped a pic of the good shepherd and the dog from the front.

We then stopped off at the Mamuka Blue Blueberry Farm to get some treats as Sophia and I love blueberries and we all love supporting local businesses. We got blueberry juice, Blueberry Mankuka honey candies and some blueberry truffles. All delicious!

We checked into the hotel just after 3pm and were pleasantly surprised by this gorgeous place. Upstairs had 3 beds and downstairs had the main area with the large bed, bathroom, lounge and kitchen with a dining table that extended and just off the bedroom was the patio with the outdoor spa pool.

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Sophia wanted to play on the playground so Max walked her over and stayed with her. We could see her from our window, so it was just perfect. After they came in, Sophia wanted a (not so hot) spa pool before dinner so we filled it up and she told Max he could get in too, so that was nice. They stayed in for a while then when Max got out to shower, she put on her goggles to see how the bubbles looked underwater and had a nice play making a splashy mess.

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We all decided on Carl’s Jr for dinner as it is another place we rarely eat at. It was a nice place. A woman dropped her whole milkshake as we were finishing up ordering and it went everywhere. Thankfully only a small bit on the woman’s own shoes, and no one else, it was mostly the floor and the doors. Sophia felt so bad for her, she even asked where the napkins were so that she could help her clean up her mess. We told her that was very kind of her, but the worker was getting a mop and bucket to help her.

Dinner was very good. When we got back to the room, Brent and Max watched The Fastest Indian; a story about Burt Monro – research him, what a mind – I would bet that he was on the Spectrum.

I partly watched the movie while reading a book, and Sophia did more reading before bed enjoying the large bed with Lamby tucked in next to her. We placed the decorative pillows near the rail to drown out the sound from the television below.

Day two complete and what an awesome day it was. Tomorrow will be just as epic, I am sure of it.

The kids were so amazing through the whole day. Sophia showed no stress or anxiety except in the crowded shops and in the food tent when large crowds came in. She quickly grabbed my hand both times and cuddled in close, but was able to regulate with a nice long squeeze from me or daddy. She always does well when we go as a family, we all do.

Day one of our Adventure weekend

We all got up early, had breakfast and jumped in the car for our fabulous adventure weekend.

We left the house at 9:30 and knew it would be a long drive, but wanted to take our time and enjoy the sights along the way.

Our first official stop was in Taihape at 11:15 to see the giant gumboot.

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This was pretty epic, but way to cold for a longer visit than eating our picnic lunch.

We carried on to Desert Road / State Hwy 1. At about 11:55, we had a great view of Mt Ruapehu.

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We then headed on to Turangi and stopped at 1:15 for a treat and to let the kids play a quick game of connect four at the Cadillac Cafe.

I had something new and different; it was called a Cruffin and was like a croissant but made in a muffin tin with filling. I had the chai tea one, and it was delicious!

Next we stopped off at 3:30 in Putaruru at the Over The Moon Artesan Cheese Deli. We had been told to check this store out on our trip, so we did. It is a lovely little shop with some great choices. I got some smoked Gouda and the kids grabbed some light snacks.

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Then we headed on towards Tirau to see the corrugated steel dog shed and other amazing works of art. Arriving at 3:55 we were pleasantly surprised that there are also sheep buildings! We spotted a few corrugated works, but didn’t remember to take pictures, they were a pukeko and poppies on some businesses, a good shepherd at the church and a bus full of animals on the school fence. This is pretty epic craftsmanship.

We then headed straight into Matamata and checked in to our hotel at 4:30. It was a nice place, old but clean. Pretty cool layout too.

By this time we were all pretty tired and the kids did some catching up on computers before we headed to look for a place for dinner.

A couple goes around town and we couldn’t decide on what to eat, so we just went to Subway. We don’t eat there very often and the kids love it so it was perfect.

When we got back to the room, Max and Sophia played on my computer a bit more, then Soph read before bed.

Brent and I watched Hitman. It was super cheeserrific and we turned in when it was over.

Even Lamby was tired from our long journey.

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Day one was amazing and we are all ready for sleep and tomorrow we to go to Hobbiton!! I may burst, I am so excited.

Te Papa Museum – Day 2 (ihc Take A Break)

This is the second day of our ihc Take A Break getaway. You can read more about this getaway in the post about day one; Wellington Zoo.

We slept so well in the hotel. All of us had a great night’s rest and we were up and ready for the day. Brent and Max wandered up the street for some butter and jam for the crumpets we had brought with us for breakfast. Brent and Max also gave some money to another homeless man by the store.

While they were gone, Sophia showered while I wrote out Nana’s postcard and packed up the room. She loved the shower in the en-suite and they had a blow dryer which was great as I had forgotten ours. I didn’t want her going out in the cold, windy weather with her gorgeous mane of hair wet.

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When the boys got back we had breakfast and finished packing. We really loved our suite, it was so cozy that it felt like our home. They had a lovely set-up for breakfast, even gluten free hot cocoa that was delicious! The kids loved that… so did I. 😉

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Brent and Max went to get the car as we did the final run through and moved everything in front of the door. He had to park up the block as they had run out of parking spaces for the hotel. Had we known sooner that we needed to book a park, we would have booked one last month when we confirmed our room.

The brochure said there was parking but not that we needed to make a separate reservation for it. It would have been nice to know that, but it worked out as Brent is such a Trooper (see what I did there?) that he always just goes with the flow. He and Max walked together and I think they liked the time alone wandering.

After we loaded the car up and checked out,  we were off to Te Papa and were very excited about our next adventure. We hit a bit of a snare with parking so Brent and Max went to park the car up the block and Sophia and I headed in to wander about the gift shop and wait for the boys to return.

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We looked around at all the amazing items in the gift shop and Max bought himself a necklace with a shark tooth shaped charm. Sophia kind of wanted an albino kiwi, but was not sure if really she wanted it, so we decided to wait until she was sure of something. She never did decide on anything in the end.

Next we went in to the Awesome Forces display. They had some great information on the Earth and sample rocks of the layers that they could touch and lift.

There were diagrams of the Earth as well as a movie that showed moving through the layers and how the movement effects the rock layers. Sophia really like this one, I think we all did.

They really like looking at the globe and learning about navigation. Brent was in his element, he is such a great teacher when it comes to science or math… well anything really.

There was a time traveler wheel. The kids really liked spinning it and imagining how long each age actually was. You could see their minds working to try and grasp the concept.

We then saw some bones and more stones. The kiwi egg inside the kiwi was really amazing. It was so busy that I started to get claustrophobic and had to stand off to the side and slow my breathing and calm myself. There was so much nose and movement.

We waited a bit for the crow to thin a bit, then headed on toward the quake simulator. While waiting in line for that, Sophia, Max and Dad tried the quake scale. unfortunately my mind was a bit foggy do I only remembered the camera at the end, but did manage to catch Brent jumping on the scale.

The Quake simulator is a tiny house and it feels so real. We all really liked that display. This is what their website says.

Visit our Earthquake House to:

  • feel a 6.6 magnitude simulation of an aftershock from the Edgecumbe earthquake of 1987
  • see some of the damage earthquakes cause
  • get a compelling reminder to quake-safe your own house
  • start a broader exploration of earthquakes and volcanic activity in our Awesome Forces exhibition.

A visit to our Earthquake House appeals to those who learn by doing and supports the following topics:

  • Disasters
  • Earth science – earthquakes and volcanoes
  • Pūrākau (storytelling)

Here is an awesome forces activity trail sheet for your kids to do while visiting.

Next we learned about volcanoes, volcanic eruptions and lava formations.

Then on to the waterways, water erosion and water disasters.

Next was wind, wind disasters, wind erosion and fossils.

Next we went to the Mountain to Sea exhibition and that was amazing. We didn’t take many photos as we were having too much fun. The amber was really neat to see with the bugs inside. We really like the tree house with the possum on the side and the natural sounds that were playing.

The colossal squid exhibition was “icky” up close (I actually gagged), but still amazing to see a creature this large. Here is a link to learn more about it’s anatomy, it is truly fascinating. It looked and felt (energy) like an alien to me.

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Next we headed over the Bridge toward Bush City, but we stopped outside to take in the view after a quick play on the giant xylophone.

The view outside was beautiful, but it was pretty windy which made it very cold.

Bush City Trail was really amazing, I loved seeing and learning about all the different plants. Also the hole that the Moa fell into with the bones was really need to see from the top (as in the picture below) and from eye level, inside the caves.

We had to skip the Fossil Dig as it was soaked, but we will go back again when it is summer and have a dig.

They had a small version of the glowworm caves too, that was very interesting. The limestone cave also had stalactites, cave wētā, and the bones of extinct flightless moa.

Then we wandered out to see the waterfall and rocks; some which date back almost 600 million years!

You can make your visit even more fun with the treasure hunt. For the Bush City Trail Scavenger Hunt form click here.

As we exited the Bush City walk we came into the courtyard of the Te Papa Cafe and decided to have a break and sit and have lunch. That was a nice little stop and recharge.

Next we went up to see the record breaking Britten V1000 Bike. Britten bikes were made in New Zealand in Christchurch before John Britten passed away from cancer. He had an amazing mind, you should read a book about his life.

We were bummed that the Fred Dagg exhibit wasn’t yet open, but we will go back again.

We carried on and went to the Blood, Earth Fire exhibit. We spent a bit of time there as there were some interactive displays.

Then we headed on to the Treaty of Waitangi: Signs of a Nation exhibit and the Passports and Immigration one. It was really interesting listening to and reading people’s immigration stories on the interactive displays.

After this we went into the Gallipoli: The Scale of our War exhibition (Field of Poppies). My camera flash wouldn’t turn off and flash is not allowed, so Brent gave me his phone to take photos. I wish I had traded him, as then I ended up with both phones and couldn’t contact him.

Although this was amazing and I loved the giant art sculptures, our clairsentient abilities went into overdrive and we had to get out. Sophia and I left the boys and tried to exit as soon as we could. I could feel all the emotions of the previous owners from the objects in the cases. All that fear, anger, feeling trapped and the sorrow was just completely overwhelming me.

It was absolutely packed to the point that you had to wait to get through each area. Half way out I had a panic attack and Sophia was so amazing. She grabbed my face and said, “Look at me mom, you are ok. Just breath deeply and take the pictures and I have your hand, I will get you out.”  So I took a few deep breaths and focused only on Sophia and taking pictures of the sculptures. I knew I had to be ok for her.

These sculptures were stunning in their detail and craftsmanship. I would recommend going just to see them. The rest of the exhibit I don’t remember much after I tuned in to a backpack, some tools and a gun, by accident. Usually I can control these when we are out together, but I was just tired and my guard was down.

The sculptures by Weta Workshop are 2.4 times human size and took 24,000 hours to create. It is such a powerful display and story. check out the brochure to learn more. This poster from the Te Pap site gives you an idea of the scale.

Gallipoli Poster

We got out and found a seat to wait for the guys in nice quiet corner and Sophia’s feet were hurting so I gave her a quick foot rub while we waited. It took them about 15 minutes but it was a welcomed break. After they came out we decided to go in the Earthquake Simulator one more time then head out. This was such a great visit.

After leaving Te Papa, we walked a few blocks to the Reading cinema to use our vouchers. by the time we got there it was too late to watch a movie, so we grabbed a bunch of snacks from the counter and told the kids we would rent them movies to watch in their rooms when we got home. They were pretty happy about that.

We left and drove home, Max was asleep before we hit the highway, and Soph slept for a bit as well. When we got back to town, we stopped in the movie rental place and then went next door and bought everyone their own pizza just because we could. Also, that meant lunch was sorted for the next day as we were wiped out.

What an amazing weekend!

We are so grateful to ihc, Boulcott Suites, Reading Cinemas and all the sponsors who donated to this amazing programme. We feel very blessed to have participated. Thank you so much from the Lawless Family.

I hope you all enjoyed sharing our journey with us.

Check back for our next adventure  in a couple weeks!

 

Wellington Zoo -Day 1 (ihc Take A Break)

We are so blessed to have been approved for an ‘ihc Take A Break’ getaway. We were gifted one night’s accommodation, four tickets to the zoo, movie cards worth four tickets, and $250 spending money as well as a beautiful art book!

This is day one of our adventure. Thank you to ihc and all of the sponsors for this generous gift. Be sure to apply if you qualify! I told a friend and her family also was accepted.

We drove to Wellington today to go to the Wellington Zoo! We had a great drive and arrived in time to find a spot right out front which was amazing! We had packed a lunch, so we ate that before we went in, as Sophia was hangry (hungry + angry) and we just needed to let her vent for a bit from the long drive.

She had us in stitches as she hated eating outside standing up and was just ranting about having to wear her jacket and feeling like a homeless person wearing all their clothes and eating by cars. Poor girl, we could just not stop laughing which made her more angry until she was fed then she was sweet as pie and ready to go in.

This was a crucial pause in the day to allow her to vent, eat, feel the warm suns, drink some water and re-balance before heading into another new environment. Had we not done this, it would have been a rough day.

Wellington Zoo

We had been having some pretty rough weather, but we lucked out and the sun was shining and it wasn’t too windy. You could definitely tell it is winter though… brrr.

After handing in our complimentary vouchers from ihc, we stopped in at the gift shop and looked at all the soft toys. Then we used the restroom before heading in.

The first thing we noticed was the Otter exhibit. They were so adorable and so busy. They were very cheeky as well asking for treats. Right near the Otters, were the Capybara, they are so amazing! They were getting loving scratches from a carer. She described their hair as similar to a hamster but more stiff.

Next, we headed over to see the Gibbons, they were very active and it was really interesting to watch how they move as they have such long limbs!

After the Gibbons, we went into the Kiwi and Tuatara hut. There was a one legged Kiwi, and he was not even phased by having one leg, still kicking the dirt and looking for food and hopping about. There were a few Tuatara, but the place was far too dark for me, I couldn’t see to walk out, Sophia had to guide me. Hence, we have no photos for this part.

Next we saw the Cotton Top Tamarin, Bolivian Squirrel Monkey, and Agouti. There was too much glare to get pictures of the others, but we managed a few of the Tamarins, they were my favourite, especially the babies.

We then made our way up to Conservation Corner. That was pretty amazing.

The ‘Green Zoo, Green You’ exhibit was also pretty amazing with the recycled archway and sculptures.

We then went into the Wild Theatre and listened to a talk about Tuataras. Sophia actually touched it too! When she first went up there were only a few kids, but then more came and they increasingly started pushing past her and she was getting frustrated so Daddy went and stood with her to be sure she was ok and didn’t get too angry. Max was not interested in touching it so he sat with me while they waited.

After the talk we headed up towards the Big Cats as we really wanted to see them. We stopped off at the Spider and Reptile Hut. That was interesting, Soph was cool with the Bugs and Reptiles, but did not want to see the Spiders and that was ok. Max and Brent loved it all!

We also stopped to spin the Tibetan Prayer Wheel, It was so beautiful.

We then saw the Red Pandas, Cheetahs and Lions. The Lions were asleep, so that was a bit of a bummer, but they were still magnificent! You can just see their manes showing atop of these rocks as they snooze away. The Red Panda pictures didn’t really show up, because they were in the tops of trees barely visible.

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We the headed through the African Village and saw the Ostriches, Guinea Fowl and Giraffes. I was in love with the Giraffes and didn’t want to move on, we spent quite a while there on all different sides. They are just so amazing to watch, so graceful.

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Next we saw the other Big Cats; the Serval and Caracal, and Sophia tried out the ear photo spots. They were all so beautiful, we didn’t want to leave this area.

From here, we carried on to see the Baboons and then moved on to Australian Animals exhibit. We saw a Tasmanian Devil munching away on a carcass, A bird of some sort, some Wallaby, and a Lizard.

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Then we saw the Dingos, and also saw the Nyala from the backside of the African Village exhibit. We also saw a large white Crane who was making heaps of noise at a helicopter, and a crazy and clever Emu who was trying to escape, he had a zoo worker watching him and we stopped to have a chat. The Emu was being all puffy and chesty, it was very funny.

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The man gave us an Emu feather as well. We collect feathers from as many birds as we can, we love getting them from zoos. The Emu feathers are very interesting in that they are two feathers in one. This one is very special indeed.

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Next we saw the Porcupine and Meerkats, the decided to head toward the cafe and have a snack and take a break.I loved oth of these as well. Brent had o idea Porcupines were this big, I had seen them growing up in Wisconsin, so it was nice seeing one so close and brought back some fond memories of trips to my Great Aunt Anne’s with my Grandmother.

Along the way we passed the Chimpanzees who were sitting atop the poles in there enclosure watching the world go by. I admit when I saw them, they looked ike they were plotting and scheming and I had a quick flash to the Planet of the Apes movies. We also saw more amazing birds and they were so colourful and cheerful.

We found an amazing Dragon along the way as well, and had to get some pictures.

After lunch we headed over to see the Sun Bear and Tiger. Unfortunately, we didn’t get many pictures of the Sun Bear or Tigers but they were beautiful. Both were being very noisy and the male Tiger was pacing like crazy. The female was asleep, as you see in the picture.

We carried on to the Kea hut and that was definitely entertaining. They kept fighting over a twig and squawking like crazy. A little boy, about 5 years old threw a rock at them and they took off after him squawking like they were telling him off and scared him. I don’t think he will throw rocks at birds again.

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We were very excited to find a Toyota Kiwi Guardians post. We have hidden the code as you have to find it yourself to get the medal. We will send away for ours when we get home and add it to the collection.

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We took another bathroom break and the looked at the cool interactive display of farming and sustainability artwork.

We then visited the Rabbits, Sheep and Kunekune pigs, we love pigs, especially these ones. The kids got to pet the Sheep as they were eating, but we forgot to take a picture.

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Near the Penguin enclosure, we saw this amazing sculpture of Tangaroa by Ngataiharuru Taepa.

The Penguins were not there sadly. So we went back to watch the Otters and Capybaras again for a bit on our way out. We also grabbed a postcard with a Red Panda for Nana because she always sends us postcards when she goes away.

At this point we were pretty wiped out as you can imagine, so we headed to our hotel planning to have a nice relaxing evening indoors.

Our hotel was amazing and they even advised Brent that they had upgraded us to a suite! Thank you to Village Accommodation and Boulcott Suites for your generosity. It was an amazing experience.

The hotel was located in walking distance to a food court as well as a heap of shops. we had planned to order dinner in, as we assumed Sophia was done, I know I was pretty tired after a very long day, but she was still raring to go for a walk, so we did.

We checked out the food court but nothing sounded good and no one could decide what they wanted. Besides that, it was pretty loud and too much going on, especially the mix of smells, that was pretty overwhelming which made it even harder to choose something.

After 20 minutes of wandering around in indecision, Max was really keen to try Burger Fuel. He asks every time we go on a trip if he sees one. I only wanted Hell Pizza, but we have that in Palmy, so with a promise for a future trip to Hell Pizza we were off to find Burger Fuel. Sophia was just keen to get out of the food court and she loves burgers, so it was all good. We went for a pretty good walk and found it, thanks to Brent’s amazing navigational skills (phone).

We got chicken burgers and the boys got beef and it was actually pretty good. We loved the ‘doofers’ that hold your burger together. I wish I had remembered to snap a picture. The atmosphere was nice but very small, and it was a bit chaotic as people were rushing in and out grabbing orders. Soph didn’t mind a bit, she was happy as just focusing on her food.

 

I loved walking around Wellington in the evening, it reminded me so much of Santa Cruz back in the day. I miss that atmosphere and the huge diversity in people, so many different faces, cultures and styles, I loved it.

We took our time walking back to the hotel and just enjoyed the atmosphere and all the people. The kids stopped and gave some money to the homeless and we headed back to snuggle in for the night.

The kids fell asleep straight away when they hit their pillows and I am sure we did too, after watching some Knight Rider reruns. What a long and marvelous day. Sophia did so well, I am so proud of how far she has come. Max was really good and engaged the whole time as well. It was a lovely day with family.

Tomorrow we head to TePapa Museum and we are really looking forward to it!