Thursday, October 10, 2013

Hector goes to Willowbank

Today, we took a trip to the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve with our little Tuatara.

The reserve winds through 7 hectares of bush inside Christchurch city boundaries. Hector was very keen on the ducks.

We were very lucky to get to the Gibbon enclosure right at feeding time, where we got to watch momma, dada, and their son eat their fruit and vege.

The gibbons were much tidier with their eating than Hector. 

The Heritage New Zealand section included sheep, cows, peacocks, pigs, horses, even donkey rides. Unfortunately, Hector was too small to ride the donkey, but we did get to see lots of baby lambs, piglets, and chicks.

We then moved onto the Wild New Zealand section of the reserve. Here we found an actual Tuatara, some geckos, and lots of different birds, including two Kiwi birds in a darkened enclosure.

Of course, amongst those birds was the clever and outgoing Kea. We were greeted at the entry to the enclosure by one kea who kept trying to steal the crackers from the bottom of the buggy.

After our awesome visit, we climbed back in the car and drove home. I look forward to coming back here again and again to teach Hector about all the cool critters we have in New Zealand.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Lessons in Parenting #510 - The Nobility of Sugar

One year old today!
Today, we celebrated Hector's first birthday. The day began with a good pile of presents to be opened and a plate of banana pancakes (unfortunately, without maple syrup due to a temporary shortage in our household - hint hint). We then migrated back to the lounge in order to play with the great new birthday toys. After some playtime and some food prep, we suited up and went for a bike/run to encourage a lengthy morning nap.

After returning, we finished getting the food ready for the party. There's something so satisfying about a table heaving under the weight of platters of beautiful and delicious food. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to us, there was something not so delicious hiding in plain sight. But, ignorance is bliss, and we continued on happily with our preparations.

Soon guests started to arrive and the party got into full swing. Kids running back and forth between the front yard and the table of food, adults sunning themselves on the deck with drinks and talk, and ribbons of music wafting throughout. Finally, we decided it was time to bring out the cakes. Yes, plural. We decided to go all out for our first born's first birthday and bake two cakes. The first was a healthy, baby-friendly, sugar-free banana, blueberry and pineapple cake shaped like a dinosaur with sugar-less and naturally dyed icing, the second, a traditional carrot cake with traditional cream cheese icing.

Party time!
At this point, I am sure most of you can guess where this story might be heading, but do continue reading. You wouldn't want to miss the object lesson at the end.

Everyone gathered out on the deck and we carried the cake out to Hector where we all sang the traditional anthem of happiness and birth. While he didn't manage to blow out the candle, he did smile and grab a strawberry from the dinosaur cake - so things were looking pretty good on the cake department. We then took a knife to the cakes and served up some birthday cheer. While I cut up servings, Stephen tried to get Hector to eat some cake (the baby-friendly one of course). This resulted in some serious refusal, which we put down to simply not being hungry. So I continued handing out servings of cake until all had received some. I finally sat down with my own serving and had a go at the baby cake.

Fortunately, we had two.

It was awful. While the cake was pretty ok, the icing was horrid. Whatever possessed me to think that cream cheese, kiwi fruit concentrate, and parsley juice would make a suitable icing had long since left. It was bitter and down right nasty. Not what a birthday cake should taste like. Not even remotely. It was at this point that I realized birthday cakes are meant to be sweet, tasty, and indulgent. No matter how much I believe the health of my child is paramount, the odd indulgence in refined sugars and unpronounceable chemicals will probably not only not harm him, but help him develop a healthier approach to food overall. The funny thing is I already believe this for myself, so why wouldn't I assume the same for my offspring. Well, the best answer I can come up with is that having children does strange things to your mind.

Object lesson: Do NOT use parsley to dye icing and unless needed for specific dietary requirements, cakes should have a little bit of naughtiness in them. While making healthy food for my baby may seem noble, it is far more noble to provide him with a tasty, well-balanced, and fun selection of foods and teach him to make good choices. I mean, you only get one birthday cake a year (unless you are Hector and your parents make you two, but one is really crap, so it doesn't really count, thus we are back to one).

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Holidays with Daddy

Last Friday was Stephen's last day of the third term. Three-quarters the way through the school year and the weather was warming up, just in time for a holiday. We decided to fill it with as many adventures (and thesis work, don't worry mom and dad) as possible. 

First up, was dad taking the make-up swim lesson.

Next, we took a picnic to the Botanic Gardens, where we searched the grounds for escaped wild animals behind wee doors.

And today, we headed out to Taylor's Mistake to hike out to Godley Head.

After a tasty lunch of sandwiches and fruit salad, we turned on the GPS and searched for Hector's first geocache.

Which we found shortly thereafter. We traded a wee candle for some shiny red beads and headed off for number two.

 Eventually, we made it back to Taylor's Mistake and wandered along the beach. A great start to the holidays. Now, we just have to plan and throw our first birthday party for wee man.