Posts Tagged ‘play’

A long and winding road…

February 2, 2013

Yesterday we were looking for a family outing that would amuse us all for several hours without being too hot and/or windy.  We’ve had stunning weather for nearly 10 days now, rather warmer than we’re used to, and we knew we would need shade if we were outdoors all day.

We chose to go to Staglands, in the Akatarawa valley between Upper Hutt and Waikanae.  None of us had ever been there before, although we’d heard good things about it.

We had a fantastic day!

It’s lucky none of us get carsick, because from either end it’s about 20km of narrow curving road to get there.  It’s a pretty road, a mix of bush and farmland and river valley depending on which side you come from.  All the same we were all glad to arrive at the reserve.

I was surprised to see ducklings, I thought February would be a bit late for them as I am used to seeing them in September, but ducklings there were in abundance.  In fact, there were lots of babies – chicks, lambs, fawns, guinea pigs, piglets, even trout!



The kids were so excited, they wanted to run along all the paths to see what was next.  We had quite a job to convince them to look around and appreciate what was right in front of them.

There are several aviaries, holding a great variety of birds from budgies to an albino peacock to native kea and weka.

We had bought some trout food and some animal food, and the kids really loved feeding things – although Babess found the lambs a little bit aggressive.  They expected to be hand-fed, and kept nudging her when she wanted to scatter the feed on the ground in front of her.  All the kids loved feeding the trout, and combined their pocket money to buy another tub of trout food later.  Fainjin was most impressed by the eels.

Babess & The Dad feed the trout

Fainjin surveys the pond for eels

Fainjin surveys the pond for eels

An eel comes up for some food!

An eel comes up for some food!

The other highlight was “Kids’ Corner”.  At a bend in the river there is a swimming hole (too cold and deep for us even in this golden weather), and beside it a rope swing.  On the bank there is a flying fox and a little obstacle course for kids.  We spent a long time here.

Only Fainjin was brave enough to attempt the flying fox

Only Fainjin was brave enough to attempt the flying fox

A perfect family relaxation spot

A perfect family relaxation spot

The kids took turns on the rope swing and amused themselves by throwing stones into the river to hear the splosh.  The Dad and I tried to show them how to skip the stones over the water, but it was apparently more satisfying to throw big stones into the deepest part you could to make a loud splash.

At one stage The Dad and I sat to chat on a rock a little upstream from where the kids were playing and a peacock strolled right in front of us to go for a drink.

We had taken our own lunch and found a lovely picnic spot among the many available.  Babess was a bit put out because we chose a table and chairs instead of sitting on a blanket so it wasn’t a real picnic, but she recovered soon enough when I brought out the boxes of raisins and individual packs of chippies (left over from Fainjin’s birthday party!).

After lunch we revisited our favourite spots at a more leisurely pace.  Then we had afternoon tea at the cafe before taking the long and winding road towards home again.

I’m sure this will be a favourite place to return for family days out.

Note: this post is not sponsored in any way.

© UpsideBackwards 2013.



Our car is a rocket

July 8, 2012

Recently Fainjin (ably assisted by the lovely Babess) has decided that our car is a rocket.  Whenever we go out, he begs The Dad not to move out of the car-port until the kids have finished the count-down and shouted “Lift-off!”

Various space-marks are pointed out: trees and houses are planets, stars or asteroids, other cars are space shuttles and rockets.  Just as well we all wear our seat-belts, or else we might float around in the zero-gravity between suburbs!

This morning as we prepared to go out, they took it to new heights, dressing up for the occasion.  Fainjin found his tinfoil hat (yes, really) he made at Boys’ Brigade, while Babess found a fleece beanie which she pulled down hard over her ears.  “It’s my space helmet!” she said, grabbing her pink teddy bear, “and this is my space baby!”


© UpsideBackwards 2012.

A cup of tea for Mummy

July 2, 2012

Babess is really enjoying her birthday presents.  All of them*, at the same time.

Her big pony has picnics with the little ponies and the little pets from the pet-shop set.  Then they help the Lego girl feed Lego carrots to the squirrels from both the pet-shop and the pony play-set.

Then she puts on her bangles and sparkly princess slippers, gets out the kitchen set, and “blends” all the tiny pieces she can find – princess earrings, Lego carrots, pony accessories, pet-shop pieces – and pours the mixture into the “coffee maker”.

“Here Mummy, have a cup of tea!”

Thank you, sweetheart.

* OK, not the 11,000 beads.  Those come out for closely-supervised play under strict conditions.

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

Good clean dirt

June 2, 2012

We’ve had some landscaping done recently, and our front lawn is now a front dirt-patch.  Finally the builders and digger-drivers have finished, and we are able to start thinking about grass again.  Of course, it’s winter now, so we may or may not be very successful, but we’re going to try to plant the lawn.

Today we went and bought grass seed, and some plants for the border, and a new garden broom because ours miraculously broke a couple of weeks ago – apparently after the children had finished playing witches and sword-fights and who-knows-what with it and put it away.  It must have just broken in two pieces while no-one was looking, as there are NO witnesses.  Hmm.

Pearl helped me choose some seedlings.  I wanted some snapdragons, but they all looked sad and scungy, so we chose love-in-the-mist, lupin, larkspur, and pansies – hopefully lots of glorious colour in a few weeks!

So this afternoon’s job was to clear the mowing strips and dig some compost into the borders, which have had clay and mud and all sorts of “stuff” dumped in and on them during the works.  While The Dad attempted to dig out a long and recalcitrant sycamore root we found sticking up in the middle of the “lawn”, I worked my way along the border, clearing the mowing strip and turning over the soil in the border.  It was hard work!

Fainjin rode his scooter up and down the driveway like a demon, narrowly missing the seedlings in their box each time and gleefully skidding on the corners.

Babess kept bringing the pansy seedlings up to where I was working, and asking whether I was ready for them yet.  Then she wanted to dig.  She took her trowel out into the middle of the “lawn”, just where we don’t need a hole at the moment.  I called her back, and pointed to the border I had just dug over.  “How about you help me here?” I suggested.  “Dig in that bit, that will make the soil softer for our flowers.”

“OK!” and she went to it with a will.  I kept clearing the mowing strip and working along the border.  After a little while I looked over my shoulder.  She was right behind me, digging all the soil out of the border and onto the mowing strip.

She was quite disappointed when I (with muttered imprecations) shovelled it all back in again, but eventually we finished our task and the border was ready.  Babess went back inside to watch from the lounge-room window, nice and warm, but Fainjin was very keen to help.

He stood on the driveway and told me where to put each plant.  That’s his idea of gardening!

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

Morning tea

May 26, 2012

When an echidna, two dinosaurs, a dog and a bee sit down to dine together, you can be sure Babess is pouring the tea.

politely waiting for their food while Babess spoon-feeds T-Rex (on account of his short arms)

Sophie the echidna chats to Spinosaurus

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

A new game

May 12, 2012

We’ve been doing quite a bit of work in the garden lately.  Lots of planting, fertilising, mulching.  I have some seeds sprouting in a container on the kitchen windowsill, winter veges and salad in outside containers and beds, and even a few late raspberries ripening on the canes (tomorrow’s morning tea, perhaps: I should pick them before the next heavy rain).

As I was planting carrot seeds this afternoon, Fainjin and Babess were traipsing around the front garden, inspecting (and endangering) the poppies, stock and sweetpeas we planted last weekend.  They were happily exchanging complicated-sounding and somewhat contradictory instructions with each other, you go over there and I’ll do that and you can be the father and we’ll put that here and I’ll do the mulch and let’s be over here and I’ll get more… and so on.

Babess came over to watch me work for a minute.  “What are you two up to?” I asked her.

“We’re playing Garden Centre,” she replied.

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

Ruby’s cube

April 23, 2012

In Sydney, we visited Uncle G and Auntie M, and they (completely unnecessarily) had gifts for the children, all of which were a huge success.

Fainjin loved his little remote-controlled car literally to pieces (must try to fix it for him), Babess was delighted with the little food-shaped erasers which she has decided are perfect for her baby-dolls’ picnics, and Pearl… Pearl got a Rubik’s cube.

Auntie M and I reminisced about having them in our early teens (we are of an age, and a similar level of geekiness), while The Dad waxed lyrical about the mathematical properties.  Uncle G scrambled the cube and handed it to Pearl.

That certainly kept her quiet for a while!

Eventually she got most of one face together – just a couple of squares missing.  I took pity and showed her how to manipulate the cube to get those squares precisely where she wanted them.  Soon (within the same afternoon) she was able to make a full face of any colour that Uncle G nominated… until he started being tricksy and asking for colours that weren’t on the cube to start with!

Babess thought it was Ruby’s cube, even though she wasn’t sure who Ruby was.

I’ll be interested to see whether I have to end up helping Pearl search for “how to solve the cube” pages on the internet, or whether she will actually work it out for herself.  I never managed it, but she just might.

© UpsideBackwards 2012.


Shipping hazards

February 23, 2012

When Pearl started school, we were careful not to overload her with afterschool activities.  Over the years, they have gradually built up so she is busy three afternoons out of five (and Saturday mornings as well).

Now Fainjin is at school, he has made it plain he expects to have a busy after-school life too.  He jumped into floorball with both feet, and on the first day of Girls’ Brigade, he demanded, “Is there a Boys’ Brigade?”

Yes, there is.  It runs at the same time as Pearl’s choir, which he is too young to join and shows no signs of wanting to.  So today I took him along to check it out.

He wasn’t at all sure he would want to stay, since I couldn’t stay the whole time with him.  I was prepared for us to be there ten minutes, and perhaps another ten minutes next week, before he decided whether to commit or not.  But we arrived and there were kids playing.  He was shown the paddling pools being filled with water because they were going to make boats to float.  He was promised afternoon tea.  Just like that, he was certain he was going to stay.

He had a marvellous time.  They made boats and floated them, then sank them “with a big stick!” – poking them until they went under the water.  They did some worksheets, colouring and writing.  They kicked a ball around.  He got a scrapbook and a smart new bag to carry it in, complete with lanyard and nametag.  I guess there will be a uniform at some stage, too.

He brought home some boats made of paper.  “Mum, can we fill up the paddling pool?”

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

Going Back

January 17, 2012

Fainjin finished at daycare just before Christmas.  He could have stayed on until he starts school in February, but we decided he should have a summer holiday like other school kids, so he has been hanging out with Pearl and playing with his Lego a lot.

Today, though, we needed to see the specialist about The Dad’s elbow, and it was going to be a long boring day full of long bus trips and waiting rooms.  We fixed Pearl up with a play date, and enrolled Fainjin back at daycare for a “casual day”.

He wasn’t all that keen.  “I’m finished at daycare!” he pouted.  Fair enough, too.  I tried to sell him on the idea of it being a special visit day, but he was still dubious.

Until we were nearly there, and he saw one of his friends also approaching daycare this morning.  They ran to each other, jumping and laughing with joy to see each other again.  Once we got inside, he settled right in.  The other kids made a bit of a fuss over him, glad to see him back, and he enjoyed their attention and being “the big kid”.

He had a much better day there than he would have if he’d come with us.

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

40c worth of fun

January 8, 2012

Babess and I went to the farmers’ market this morning.  That was mostly a big mistake, as it was raining when we left and only got worse.  In fact, on the way home she told me, “Mummy I do not want to come here when it is raining and it is windy ever ever ever again.  It is horrible.”  We were both soaked to the skin, and were grateful when The Dad met us at the door with a pile of towels, the kettle boiling for warm drinks, and a warm shower ready to go for Babess.

On the other hand, I did get lovely new-season Agria potatoes for tonight’s dinner, and scrumptious yellow-flesh peaches which I roasted with cherries and frangelico to serve with vanilla yogurt…

Ahem.  Back to the story.  On the way to the market, I spotted a couple of coins lying on the footpath and pointed them out to Babess.  She picked them up and we saw that she had two 20c coins.  “Those can be yours,” I said – the street was deserted, and the coins had clearly been there for some time.

Her eyes went wide.  “They can be my moneys?”

“Yes, your money,” I assured her.  I don’t know that she’s ever had her “own” money before, come to think of it.  She carefully put it in her pocket until we got home.

There it was taken out and shown to everyone, then she built a “money shop” to spend her money in, and I think she bought and sold herself several of her toys.  Fainjin joined in the game and they had one coin each for a while.  There was a lot of running about and happy shouting and laughing.

We should all get such good value for money!

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

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