So much has been going on these past few weeks. I've got a whole list of items on our agenda today.
Firstly, and just briefly, I'm now a contributing member of society! I've rejoined the workforce... in about the most half-assed way possible. Let me explain.
A couple of months ago my sister told me about some online typing work that a friend of hers had been doing. No commitment, just log on whenever you want, and work as much or as little as you want. It sounded like a perfect fit for both my skills and that old struggle of the full-time parent to find work that still allows you to be available to your kids when needed. I'm not going to make my fortune this way, but I'm contributing and, most importantly, I'm freshening up my very rusty skills. The flexible nature of the work is perfect for me. We've been on school holidays here these past two weeks and I only typed one 10-minute file during that two weeks. No leave to be arranged, no "real job" to juggle.
Next on our agenda is a major milestone in our life as a family. We went on a holiday! Ok, yes, it was only for 24 hours, and it was mainly because B had a welder to pick up from Tauranga, but we did touristy things and we stayed in a motel so I'm calling it a holiday.
We left home at about 5pm on the Friday night and drove to Rotorua. Fish and chips in the car for dinner, and both girls fast asleep in the back by the time we arrived about 8.30pm. Our motel was a bargain! ...For a reason. It had probably been very smart in about 1984, with not a whole lot of updating since then. I was just thankful that we only had one night there.
The thing is, though, the girls loved it. I mean, they LOVED IT. They loved the little kitchenette with the tiny milks in the little fridge. They loved the (horrible, lumpy) beds, the shower that only had about five jets, and they really loved getting up on Saturday morning and each having their own rocking chair from which to watch cartoons. They didn't care that it was outdated or that we could hear the conversations from the room above us.
Still, we had a strict driving schedule to stick to so we were out of there early for a quick breakfast at ahem McDonalds, and a look at the lake...
...followed by a ride up the gondola. This, J adored. We got one of those stupid overpriced photos which I would have passed up except for the unbridled glee on her face in the photo. Little A was less thrilled and kept her hand firmly on my leg the whole trip up and down.
The views were fabulous on that sunny morning.
Then it was back in the car to get to Tauranga to meet the guy to get the welder... YAWN. Tradesman, tools, say no more. There was a fair bit of sitting around in the car before we were off again. Luckily I had a good supply of Chicken Crimpies to keep the kids amused while we waited.
Since we were all the way over there we decided to head into Mount Maunganui to give the girls a chance to stretch their legs before it was back in the car again for the long drive home.
It was very pretty, and you could definitely see that there was a good amount of money in the area, but what a pain to get into and out of! I much prefer the remote west coast, thanks very much. Although it was cool to see a white sand beach again.
Once we'd battled our way out of Mount Maunganui it was "Home, James, and don't spare the horses". Luckily A fell asleep so we just drove and drove until she awoke, just before we got to Otorohanga. Then it was more McDonalds for lunch, another play in a pretty amazing playground, before hustling the slightly fed up troops back into the car for the last leg home.
We arrived home almost exactly 24 hours after we'd left. I often forget how much smaller New Zealand is than Australia. I calculated that we'd spent about 7 hours in the car. Comparatively, if we'd driven that long from Adelaide we wouldn't even have got to Melbourne yet.
Considering what a roaring success the trip was with the little girls - they're still playing at "going to Rotorua" - this is something we're looking forward to doing a lot more of. The driving distances are manageable, there is HEAPS to see, and the scenery is endlessly beautiful (snarky comment from J on our trip when I told her to look out the window, "Trees, trees, more trees". Remembering the hot scrubby plains of my own childhood road trips I realised my kids will never appreciate how lucky they are).
Oh yes. My little A turns three in September. And that kid is on a mission to grow up overnight. Other than sleeping in her big girl bed - yep, she's still in there almost every night, she has decided to toilet train herself, and she's finally learned how to pedal her tricycle. This is huge, people, huge.
The toilet training, same as J, has all been entirely self-directed. I still bear some deep psychological scars from J's year of toilet training so my expectations have been very low. It's actually going great. I don't want to jinx anything so that's all I'll say.
As I mentioned earlier, we've had two weeks of holidays from kindy. They just went back on Monday. The kindy is very play-based and relaxed so I can't say they really needed a break, but it was nice not having anywhere to be. We arranged lots of playdates, we went to the park, and I got basically nothing done that didn't revolve around entertaining two small people. How did I ever get anything done before?? Oh that's right. I didn't.
The chimney sweep came to clear out our blocked fireplace which was deeply fascinating.
The weather was pretty terrible the whole holidays so there was a good amount of book reading by the fire. And, dare I say it, these two have been getting along and playing beautifully together.
The complexity and detail of their imaginative play is at an all-time high. I've said it before, and I'll say it again (and probably again many more times), I love this stage of life that we're in.