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.

Timezone & The Night Market.jpg

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.

funnel-cakes-for-breakfast.jpg

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.

Weta.jpg

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.

Sick days, Art and Reading

Sophia is home sick today, she was home yesterday as well.

She seems to have caught a bug. She has gone through 2 boxes of tissue in the past two days and developed a slight fever last night so we decided to keep her home again.

Yesterday after breakfast, she finished up her OC Good Shadow, a Kivat (an original character which is a mix of a cat and a bat.) and posted it on her 8yellowcats Google+ page.

Good Shadow Kivat

Good Shadow Kivat

After lunch she  came along and did the mosaic tree class with me, but got frustrated and tired after about 30 minutes, so we left it for later.

Her perfectionist was in overdrive yesterday and she spent a lot of time cutting, then re-cutting the paper to fit just perfectly.

It will look great when finished. I will finish mine when she does hers, as I too, was getting tired and had not thought to bring my glasses.

I tucked her into a corner with her own table and supplies, away from the other kids near a trash can for her used tissues just in case she was contagious. None of us have it so that is good.

I took her to the park on the way home to get some fresh air. After 15 minutes she was wiped out which worked well as it started pouring down rain not long after we left.

park 6 sept 2017

She has not been eating as much, and is very cuddly and just wants to read and watch movies and do digital art which is fine.

In the past two days, while doing her art, she has read two Warriors cats books and is reading the third one.

The first was ‘The Sight’ –  Warriors: The Power of Three Series, Book 1, which has 417 pages.

510UrbRXRUL._AC_UL320_SR216,320_

Next, she read ‘Dark River’ –  Warriors: The Power of Three Series, Book 2, which has 368 pages.

51pdQZ9FonL._SX334_BO1,204,203,200_

There are 352 Pages in ‘The Apprentice’s Quest’ –  Warriors: A Vision of Shadows Series, Book 1, which she is currently reading.

VOS-1 The Apprentice's Quest

I can’t believe how fast this kid can read! Last week she read four of these Warrior books all averaging 300-500 pages.

The Warrior Cats books have been amazing for her. They have taught her so much about community, friendships, hierarchies within the clans, betrayal and lying, spirituality and even herbology (Which I have actually checked, and it is fairly accurate.)

The best part is that she loves to reread them. Eventually we will own all of them. We have several now, but one day we plan to get all the boxed sets for her. I will likely read them too as she has asked me to.

Later in the afternoon, she finished her second entry of Queequeg for KoalaAJ’s art contest. It turned out cute.

Queequeg 2

Queequeg 2

This morning after her shower, she wanted to finish an art request she had promised to her friend Kola AJ and posted it on her Google+.

Custom Turkish Angora for Koala AJ

Turkish Angora for Kola AJ

Our little artist is now happily reading in her room with her water, colloidal silver, tissue box and trash can nearby.

I will do some more baking, then some reading while finishing the laundry and maybe if she is up to it we can do some artwork, a craft or finish our trees this afternoon.

Hopefully she is well enough tomorrow to head back to school as she has really been enjoying it.

 

 

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.

1610295746-548262___In_Memory_of_Lost_Loved_Ones_986_667485184_n

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.

Johns 76th Birthday

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.

WP_20170831_020

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.

Johns 76th Birthday baby.jpg

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…

WP_20170831_030

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.

WP_20170828_001.jpg

“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.

 

 

 

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.

WP_20170811_005

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.

WP_20170811_014

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

WP_20170811_10_34_24_Pro

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

WP_20170811_13_04_59_Pro

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

WP_20170810_11_18_38_ProWP_20170810_004

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.

WP_20170810_011

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.

wp_20170810_017.jpg

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.

WP_20170810_19_17_02_Pro

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.

WP_20170715_192

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. 😉

WP_20170715_175

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.

TePapa1

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.

the-giant-squid

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.

WP_20170715_053

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

WP_20170715_191.jpg

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

Kiwi Guardians.jpg

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!

 

Chaotic but we love it

I know I have been slacking on writing here, but we are having so much fun. I will do some backdated posts to try and catch up.

We have been doing more things away from home, my client load has increased since my last event and I am back doing my advocacy work so we are just very busy.

We have started up our Red Tent & Magenta Tents again. This is an all day event once per month. I co-facilitate with my friend’s Joleen and Cheryl for the Women’s Circle. Sophia is the Facilitator for the Girls Circle which she really enjoys. It is amazing how she has blossomed and loves sharing that space and her feelings and thoughts with the other girls.

Sophia helped me design our logo, I absolutely love it.

Logo 3.jpgWP_20170624_009

I am also a co-facilitator for the Women’s Wisdom Circle, along with Cheryl and Emma one Sunday evening per month. This one is just for the adults and is much more personal and I just love holding space for these amazing women.

Women's Wisdom CircleWP_20170709_004

I have started Bellydance classes once per week, with my friend and fellow homeschool/spectrum mom Joleen. Our kids spend an hour with Aunty Jacinta together while we do our class. Joleen and I even bought our own hip scarves. I am also doing my workout video by Dolphina again, which I love. It has been too long. Sophia is not keen yet, but I think she will join me eventually as I keep at it.

I also am doing an early evening class called “Money Love Circle”, it is every two weeks to help work through any issues around money that stem from my past. This is taught by Joleen as well, so we go early so that Sophia can play with Joleen’s son until Daddy picks her up. They love having their time together.

We are also doing the planning for a family trip getaway that we were awarded  as carers, through the IHC Take a Break programme. I am dumbfounded by their generosity. I will do a post on that when we go.

WP_20170710_047WP_20170710_049

We also are planning a family vacation that my husband’s work has offered us as appreciation for his hard work. They are so generous and we are so excited about where we are going. I will post about that closer to the time. A hint is, it is where small people with very big feet live.

hobbiton-movie-set-tour-new-zealand-11

We are hosting a Movie Screening and Fundraiser of “Things We Don’t Talk About: Stories from the Red Tent” in August so have been getting ready for that as well.

Movie

Planning for our annual One billion Rising event in February 2018 is also in full swing and we have an amazing committee this year. Joleen Scott, Author and Group Facilitator, myself, Carla Donson, Manager of Women’s Network Whanganui, and Kelly Scarrow from Mainstreet Wanganui (also The Inked Librarian) and of course Sophia will help coordinate the children’s area. This will be a great event.

Add to this an upswing in clients and we have been very busy. Hence the lack of keeping up this blog.

Sophia has really come out of her shell this year and is so confident  in herself that she is applying to be a toy tester for a store chain here in New Zealand. She will be doing her application this week along with an ‘unboxing video’ as her entry. This will be a year long commitment and she is really excited to give it a go. She has a really good chance of winning, of course having almost 500 subscribers is an added bonus.

We are planning on trialing school next term to see how she does and if it works out, then she will return full time. This is her choice and what she wants to do, I fully support her decision as she has definitely accomplished what we set out to do when we started home education.

That is a quick update and we will be adding back posts as time allows.

End of Term two

Today we had the End Of Term Skate party for the homeschoolers.

Sophia was really excited to go and try and skate again.

She has not liked it so far, but really wants to keep trying and that is fantastic.

We met our friends Joleen and Tommy there after we finished shopping and had a lovely lunch with Daddy. She had her favourite, sushi and we had Japanese salad bowls.

Sophia started off pretty well and some of the other girls were very helpful and stayed by her while she tried. They are such nice girls, just like their mothers, always so welcoming and helpful.

WP_20170707_013

She went all the way around a couple times by herself before I helped her around as her arms were getting sore from trying to hold the bar.

WP_20170707_014

Tommy wasn’t too keen to skate, or be around all those people. He tried to run out the door, but I was right behind him and grabbed the  door handle just as he reached it.

I squatted down to his level and asked if it was too much. He told me it was too loud and he had to leave. I had the handy dandy PSP in my bag so I told him I had brought it and Lego Batman as it is his favourite game we have.

He agreed to stay and play the game so he could shut it all out. So we walked back over to Joleen who was watching Soph while I retrieved Tommy. I love that we have each other’s backs in this regard and both of our kids trust us.

Sophia only had a couple of spills, the last one hurt her arm, so we stopped and returned the skates.

WP_20170707_016.jpg

She was starting to feel overwhelmed and slight anxiety, but she knew when to stop and how to cope by using her distraction; her game.

When she was finished skating, she sat and visited Tommy and they played their games for the last 10 minutes.

WP_20170707_018

She did pretty well for only her second try skating. She is keen for our friend Emma to help her learn. Emma is a derby skater and was also an artistic skater before that, so she is the one to teach her.

We will have to remember her pads next time too, as she thinks she would feel more comfortable if she has them on and I agree.

Tommy invited us to his house after the skate party, so we couldn’t say no as he asked so sweetly. this is a big deal for him too.

Sophia and I went to the library and returned our latest mountain of library books and got a few new ones. We didn’t want Daddy to miss out so we just grabbed a few, so we can go back tomorrow.

We grabbed a couple Garfield books as we love reading those. We were stoked to find this book as it was on our to read list.

33women

After the library, we went to Joleen’s house for a visit and Tommy’s cousin came by so she also got to visit with her for a bit.

Then we came home and made dinner and after dinner, she watched some Pokemon episodes and read, just as she does every night before bed.

It was a lovely day and we really enjoyed each other’s company. She was very cuddly and talkative today but in a relaxed way.

My little girl is growing into a lovely young woman.