Saturday, July 27, 2013

Back in town

With the demolition progressing, more and more of the city has been opened up. Last week, we went back into the city to see how it was looking.

The coolest thing is the amount of art that is everywhere. We especially enjoyed Chris Heaphy's planted whare.

We then progressed down to new New Regent Street. More shops have opened up there and we enjoyed a delicious cup of tea and piece of cake in a cool new cafe called Rekindle which takes old wood and re-purposes it into new furniture.

Some shops were still closed, but again, the art kept things happy and vibrant. Auntie Dai's dumplings look especially varied and friendly.  

Another cool piece of moveable art at these sets of cathedral arches set up on an empty lot. It was pretty amazing how they transformed the bare gravel lot into a sacred space just with the application of some beautifully milled wood.

As we returned to our car, we watched as others around us enjoyed the bright and varied fence art, as well as the ever changing show put on by excavators and demolitioners at work. It was great to see life returning to our battered city.

Hector goes to Canada

On our whirlwind trip across Canada we made several stops. The first one was in Winnipeg, where Hector met his Uropa. He also met his Aunt Krysti, Uncle Brian, and cousins, Kieran and Mallory.

The weather was fantastic so there were lots of picnics and time outside. Unfortunately, Hector was no match for the ferocious Manitoba mosquito population and ended up with red welts all over him. But tunnels made it all better.

Next, was Toronto, where Hector met his Great-Grandma. While the stop was brief, we had an awesome family dinner with my mom's sister and her family.

Next was Kingston, where we gathered to welcome Dups into the whanau. Here we are gathered round for a bed time story.

Here we are decked out to help celebrate the nuptials. Hector had a blast crawling around meeting everyone's shoes - he especially liked the sparkly ones.

One of the best things about our trip was the switch in seasons. This was most noticeable in the food available. Hector loved being introduced to strawberries, raspberries, cherries and all the other gorgeous summer fruits grown in Southern Ontario.

Probably the most important part of the trip was time with whanau. It was awesome to see Stephen and his brother doing their dad thing.


Kingston boasts a great splash park which we took full advantage of in the lovely warm weather.

Our final destination was a quick visit to Whitehorse. We visited Stephen's dad's grave with Hector and made sure we shared lots of stories.

The other important visits we had were with friends, old and new. Hector had great fun with Isabella, my close friend, Ceilidhe's little girl. 

We even got up to see dad's first art exhibit. Hector had a very enjoyable morning interacting with the various pieces of stone, camping equipment, and wood representing a campsite.

One our way back home, we took a day to hang out in Vancouver. The weather was beautiful, so we went to Stanley Park and the aquarium.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Travelling with baby

Last month, we took a two week whirlwind tour of Canada. We crammed in a wedding, a 90th birthday, lots of visiting, and of course, introducing our wee man to the rest of the family. From Vancouver, British Columbia, to Kingston, Ontario, all the way up to the Yukon, we managed to cram in an unbelievable amount of visiting in the two weeks Stephen got off from school (we are now enjoying the school holidays and recuperating from our travel). While there are many great stories from each specific visit, I wanted to do a wee survey of how we successfully (read: no screaming by Hector or us) navigated our various modes of transportation - plane, train, automobile, and boat, to name but a few.

For a start, we booked our long overseas flight from NZ to Canada at night. This meant that we did our normal-ish bedtime routine in the airport lounge, boarded the plane and Hector went straight to sleep. Although we booked the bassinet seat, H-man did not like sleeping in it, but with the extra leg room, I was much more comfortable holding him the whole time.

On flights when he didn't sleep, we took it in turns to coral him up and down the aisle - making friends with many a passenger and many of the flight attendants (always try to use their first names, it's such an easy thing to do and so immensely meaningful). Breastfeeding him on take off and landing helped so much. Not continuously, but whenever he got a bit whiny (which I took to be weird feeling in the ears whiny). We were indeed lucky to earn the compliments of our surrounding passengers as to Hectors' quietness.

Once in Canada, we had planned to drive as little as possible, so we brought Hector's regular mountain buggy. I considered taking a smaller umbrella stroller, but the comfort of the reclining buggy meant that Hector could easily take the odd nap on the go so we could get more travelling done. Also, remember to bring your rain cover,you may not have family on the other end with an extra.

When we did drive, we rented a car seat along with the car. This meant we didn't have to lug one around and that we knew it was approved by the government safety people. We tried to do as little driving as possible, as it is our least favorite mode of transportation, but when we did, we were sure to have lots of toys and snacks available for all. And we made many stops to ensure bladders were not over stretched and legs were not under stretched.

We also did a little bit of bus travel in Vancouver. This was fun and easy.

Boats made an appearance as well. The only word of warning here is to hold onto your (and your childs') hat. We lost Hector's sun hat on our last trip over when a random gust of wind whipped it off his head - much to his delight.

Trains - our favorite mode of transport on this trip. We took the train from Kingston back to Toronto to avoid holiday traffic (and being in a car) and it was fun. We could watch the countryside rumble by, play with Hector up front in the luggage area where there was empty space, and generally, spread out. We even got cool paper train cars to take home and build.

Napping with mom and playing with dad. Good times were had by all.

Finally, we made sure to take time as a family to just relax. It was an intense trip and there are things we didn't get done, but we took time to just slow down and be together and this meant we didn't loose our sanity.

Please Note: Stephen says I have made it sound like Hector didn't cry. He did. And the thing that got us through those rough patches was the idea that parenting while travelling is not about being good or bad parents, but simply surviving. If holding him while he slept is what he wanted, then by golly, that's what happened. If running up and down the aisle of the plane kept him quiet, then, hey, that's what we did (even the flight attendants believed this). Holidays are all about having a good time, including the little ones, so we just went with what made him happy - then we were all happy.