Manitoba & A New Slightly Altered Dad

Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 11.49.31 amScreen Shot 2017-04-04 at 11.48.42 amScreen Shot 2017-04-04 at 11.46.58 amScreen Shot 2017-04-04 at 11.47.41 amScreen Shot 2017-04-04 at 11.47.54 amScreen Shot 2017-04-04 at 11.48.02 amScreen Shot 2017-04-04 at 11.48.15 amScreen Shot 2017-04-04 at 11.48.28 amScreen Shot 2017-04-04 at 11.48.55 amScreen Shot 2017-04-04 at 11.49.18 amScreen Shot 2017-04-04 at 11.49.44 amScreen Shot 2017-04-04 at 11.49.56 amScreen Shot 2017-04-04 at 11.50.10 amScreen Shot 2017-04-04 at 11.50.25 amScreen Shot 2017-04-04 at 11.50.38 amScreen Shot 2017-04-04 at 11.51.32 amScreen Shot 2017-04-04 at 11.51.51 amScreen Shot 2017-04-04 at 11.52.08 amWell, sitting here in our living room it feels surreal that we were just in Manitoba, Canada for 10 days.  Wesley and I flew over to spend time with my dad who’d just survived a harrowing ordeal which involved a complicated emergency surgery.  Frankly we were expecting him to be in serious shape when we boarded the plane.  The dad that we encountered was walking, eating and generally moving about without too many issues.

His recovery was to put it simply… Amazing.  

Our trip was initially meant to be much longer – but travelling solo with Wesley and trying our best not to get in the way…it became clear early on that we wouldn’t stay longer than we were needed.  So 10 days it was.  My sister and her husband Jordan were our hosts along with the two dogs Odie and Maggie.  Dad was driving himself by his second day and it was really nice to know he’d be basically independent.

The weather at first was quite a shock.  We arrived to -16 degree weather, though over the course of a few days spring took hold and began to thaw the snow and ice.  The dogs were a huge source of entertainment for Wesley which was awesome – we were inside quite a bit of the time.

We’d never been to this area of Manitoba before, and in all honesty – I felt like such a tourist!  There were little details I was noticing that the younger me wouldn’t have really paid attention to.  The plants, cats tails, a red squirrel, the geese flying in for spring and the grass turning from brown to green in only a few short days.  We stayed in a trailer at Ron and Madelines property, which was great to escape and sleep in peace and quiet whilst listening to the geese fly overhead.  The property has a very large oak forest which we also had the pleasure of tramping through a few times.  I can only imagine how much more beautiful it is in the summer with the leaves and greenery.

One of the day’s Wesley and I joined Ron (Liz’s boss) and he took us out to do some bird watching.  We spotted 2 eagles and several different species of hawk.  He also took us into a Hutterite colony and we got an up close and personal view of what it’s like inside these exclusive communities.  I might write more about that at a later time.  I did refrain from taking photos – out of respect.  I didn’t want them thinking we were there to gawk.

Agriculture and mass farming is hugely popular in the region.  We were staying in a little town called St. Pierre Jolys which has quite a french influence.  Most of the accents in the region had a slight french style to them which is unusual to find outside of Quebec.

My twin sister also made it down for a day en-route to Alberta to spend some time with the family and meet Wesley for the first time.  Here he was lunging in for a bite.  She was excellent with him, and gave me a bit of a break to shower and was super helpful.

He picked up a few interesting skills whilst we were there including: biting me when he wanted food, eating dog food (almost daily) and throwing a ball for the energetic and friendly Odie.  Thankfully on the way home Wesley stopped the biting.  I’ve a large bruise on my left are from one good chomp he gave me…and refused to release the skin from his teeth.

I drove on the right hand side of the road, which at first was kind of a dangerous transition.  After a day I was ok… but I did blame it on the epic lack of sleep and jet lag.

We ate poutine a couple of times (it was so goooooood) and also brought back some moccasins to keep my toes warm this winter.  They are sheepskin lined and are like heaven on my feet.

All in all it was a successful trip.  We survived the journey to and from (thankfully Wesley is a people person – he made so many friends during each leg of the trip) and it was fairly easy going to and from…lots of games and singing and horsing around on my part to keep wee man entertained.  Travelling with a little baby is daunting, but at the same time it made it alot more fun than usual.  I probably wont be putting my hand up again for that any time soon – but it is nice to know that Wesley loves the planes and is stimulated by all the people.  He was adorable.

Coming home to New Zealand – it was so beautiful to see the green and even though it’s raining and a little chilly we’re sooo pleased to stretch our legs and settle into our little life here again.  Mike had flowers waiting and firewood stacked along the front of our home.  Such a wonderful welcome!

But… I’ll warn you all now.  We have news.  It involves…relocation.  To another country…

Can you guess where we are headed?

I’ll reveal this to you shortly!

Take care all and be well

x

Holly

Pukaha Mount Bruce

screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-43-48-pmWesley and I visited Pukaha Mount Bruce this afternoon whilst Mike was helping some friends on a farm nearby.  Mount Bruce is a wildlife restoration centre that focuses on reestablishing endangered and rare New Zealand birds.  The centre spans some 940 hectares of dense native forest and is a beautiful place to hike and enjoy a native forest.

We spent a few hours walking around taking in all the gorgeous colours and sounds.  At the moment the forest is absolutely teeming with cicada.  The sounds of summer calling in the humid air!

screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-34-35-pmscreen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-37-14-pmscreen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-38-08-pm Conservation has been taking place within the park since the 1960’s and is maintained by international volunteers throughout the seasons.screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-38-43-pmscreen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-38-55-pmHere you’ll find encounters with endangered (and rare white) kiwi, eels, and quite a few beautiful birds including: kokako, kaka, hihi, takahe, kakariki and whio.screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-34-18-pmscreen-shot-2017-02-27-at-9-56-55-amThe kaka particularly captivate me.  The dark wine colours of their feathers paired with their cheeky personalities make them irresistible to watch.  There are roughly 160 kaka in the forest that are all free to travel and are indeed quite wild.  They have an impressive range of calls…some almost gremlin like and others quite sweet.  screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-40-42-pmscreen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-41-55-pmscreen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-42-08-pm

If you are near Masterton, I highly recommend checking this place out.  It’s not to be missed!

The first crop of onions.

screen-shot-2017-02-06-at-4-37-50-pmscreen-shot-2017-02-06-at-4-33-16-pmscreen-shot-2017-02-01-at-9-04-17-amscreen-shot-2017-02-06-at-4-27-13-pmTo put a seed into the soil is to believe in the future.  You trust that earth, water and time will bring you nourishing food.  Time has brought us 8 red onions and a random white one.

They grew in rather close quarters, and a tiny lesson has been learned.  We must plant them at a greater space to allow for bigger bulbs next year.

I’ve trimmed them and foolishly placed said onions onto the mantle in our kitchen.  Now, I am airing out our whole home from the intense perfume of fresh onions.

Another novice mistake.

Now they sit on the porch airing out for a few days before I store them in the cupboard.

Do you have a recipe that features onions that you love?  I’ll probably need to get through these red ones rather quick!  

We’ve been misted today in a dainty almost microscopic rain.  You know the kind that lightly falls on your face and skin, it feels refreshing?  Eventually it saturates you to the core, and yet at the same time is lovely because it is warm.  Summer rain, is so pleasant.

This constant rain has made New Zealand’s soil fertile and created an optimal growing season in many regions.  Palmerston North has had one of the wettest summers on record.  We can only help but flash back to our struggles in Eneabba trying to grow our food in the hot heat of summer.  We watered it endlessly.  Many of our plants died.  Here, we hope for some more sunlight to help ripen our green tomatoes. Though, I’ve heard they are good fried green anyway!

Shhh….

screen-shot-2017-01-24-at-8-36-54-pmscreen-shot-2017-01-24-at-8-05-00-pmIt’s so quiet.  Wesley is sleeping.  The birds are chirping and there is barely, but a small breath of wind.  The rain has stopped and we’re settling in for the evening.  I look out the windows and see a sea of deep green.

I’m sipping a deliberately weak hot tea and am looking forward to tomorrow.  There’s nothing special planned…but even still I’m keen to see what tomorrow brings for me and Wesley.

Today he leaned how to crawl faster.  He tried to outrun me (cranked up his crawling pace with a giggle!) to the tv cables.  He’s only been moving 2 days…

Here’s to new adventures, big and small!

Long Nights & Busy Days

screen-shot-2017-01-22-at-1-37-12-pmscreen-shot-2017-01-22-at-1-37-53-pmscreen-shot-2017-01-23-at-11-11-03-amSoon our Wesley will be 8 months old.  Ah!  He has been a little squishy, cuddly gift of adventure, and has us feeling that overwhelming joy that parents all must feel when witnessing his first attempts at learning and exploring.

In other words…He is on the move!

He has 8 teeth, loves to “read” books and screeches longingly at Tess (whom has not yet made it clear that she cares about him, in any way).  We’re working on that relationship, mostly by encouraging Tess to come close but she’s clever and whenever the loud baby is present, Tess is not.

He’s learned some sign language as we started showing him a few signs at 3 months old.  He can show us he wants “more” “milk” “food” and “diaper change”.  You’d be surprised how much that has helped us communicate with him.  It’s all rudimentary at the moment, and will be a useful skill until he learns to say words we will continue to pair the signs with the vocal version too.  Apparently it helps them develop language faster.  Either way – it’s pretty cool to see how in tune he is with the world around him.  I met a mother whom was a psychologist when Wesley was very young and she encouraged us to give it a try.  To learn, I simply youtube searched for baby sign language (ASL particularly) and wrote down a few key signs we might need to use a lot!

Yesterday was a pretty major day for Wesley (even though he’s been quite sick).  For a few months now he’s been scuttling around sideways and backward and rocking a bit on his hands and knees.  After many months preparation, he took his first steps crawling!  Now that he’s learned, it’s like he never didn’t know how.  His face when he got it, was priceless.  That elation in cracking a complex problem…is universal!

We call him our nature baby, as he is very content to hangout in the grass and tress.

We did a 2 hour hike last week with his Aunt Lynda and friends.  Wesley took in the ferns and tall trees that shaded us (from this not-so-hot summer!) from the pack on my back – he talked throughout the trip, and particularly loved watching the little dog that was with us whipping through the trail.  Eventually he slept as I marched onward.  It was such a nice experience.

With all this wonderful progress comes a lack of sleep for us all.  For a couple of months now, with all the teeth coming in and the exciting skills he’s been picking up (along with few nasty colds) we’ve been up for some super long nights.  We’re bracing for a few more rough nights as he’s recently developed a fairly awful infection that has us comforting him through the nights.  It’s not hard to get out of bed when you know your little one’s needing cuddles and kisses.  We have placed a twin bed in the room and have been staying with him through the nights as we help him this rough patch.  With some glimpses of full night sleeps a while back, we have the promise of knowing it will come back in time when everything settles down.

He’s so amazing.  We tell him each day.

This morning after I woke, Mike came into the room for a quick kiss and placed a coffee on the bedside table for me.  I was left to rest and recover after spending a sleepless night comforting Wesley.  A bath was later drawn and a candle lit.  My favourite snacks were also produced, which made me smile and feel so special and loved.  He has been such a huge source of support and help during these past few weeks.  We’ve been leaning on each other these 8 months and while we sometimes struggle, it’s been a really special time in our lives.