Sorry it has been rather quiet around here for a long time.  Life happened and the blog was put on the back burner.  In a nutshell, I had a lot of gastro bugs this past winter with school.  Not really sure where to start back at.  Perhaps our latest pre-Christmas adventure is as good of a place as any.

The weather was looking extremely nice this Labour Weekend, which means we couldn’t just stay at home and do nothing.  We decided to attempt a walk to a backcountry hut, more specifically the Nina Hut in the Lewis Pass.  This time we carried in our tent as I was doubtful we would make it to the Nina Hut.  First thing first, we had to cross a swing bridge to start hiking.  E and C both found this super fun to walk across.  The track ended up being covered in tree roots, making the going slow for C.  The track also had a lot of dried up mud, so it looked to have the potential to be extremely boggie.  E is a bit of a machine when it comes to tramping.  He can go, go, go and he has the motivation to make it to the hut.  As we reached the second bridge we had been walking for 3 hours and according to DOC, it should have only taken 1 hour.  The boys wanted to cross the bridge, but Jeff and I decided at 3.8kms in to turn around and head towards a flat spot next to the river to pitch our tent.  So we walked across the bridge and turned around.  I’m very proud of both E and C for walking the entire way in.  Once at the flat bit and the tent erected, E and C helped Jeff find fire wood and M and I sat by the river throwing stones.  We, as a family, seriously spent at least four hours by the river throwing stones.  We had a blast.  Unfortunately, the sandflies were horrible at the river.  We all got eaten badly, especially C who woke up the next morning with a swollen ear and eye.  We think it was caused by the sandflies.  C struggled walking out, but I’m again very proud of him for walking the majority of the track back to the car.  We did a lot of “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” renditions and lots of singing the Paw Patrol theme song to keep up his spirits.  After making it back to the car, we drove to Culverdon and enjoyed Fish and Chips, and ice-cream for lunch before heading back to Christchurch.

Classic DOC sign photo.

The flat part of the track was beautiful, but had the potential to be extremely muddy.

The river next to our campsite provided heaps of stone-throwing entertainment for the entire family.




Jeff left for Nepal on April 28 and wasn’t due to back for 3.5 weeks.  When Jeff left for his amazing adventure, I was sick.  I thought I was on the mend, but I wasn’t.  Shortly after his departure whatever I had became infected.  My face has never hurt so badly in my life.  I ended up having to get antibiotics from the doctor.  Then, the following Tuesday, C woke in a bad mood.  That afternoon, I noticed red spots on C.  I took him to the doctor who confirmed that he had chickenpox.

It was so bad.  Seriously y’all, the chickenpox is horrible.  Words really can’t describe how horrible that first week with Jeff away was like.  C and I ended up sleeping on the couch together.  Well, there wasn’t much sleep, to be honest.  C is used to itchy skin, but his skin wasn’t just itchy, it was also in extreme pain.  I couldn’t touch him without him screaming.  Spots were every where and I mean every where.  Maybe the eczema made it worse?

Thankfully people at church discovered what was happening and people came together and cooked for the family as I couldn’t do it.  Another big plus was my mom was due to arrive that Friday!  We had plans to go down south for the first week she was here and thankfully I planned it that way!!!  By the time my mom arrived C and I were on the mend and our trip could still happen.  On our last driving day from the trip down south, spots started to appear on E and M.  We made it back in time for the horrible experience to repeat itself.  Unfortunately, that meant my mom didn’t get to explore our neck of the woods.  Having a baby with chickenpox is even worse.  M ended up sleeping in mine or my mom’s arms and pretty much screamed every 15 minutes!  He couldn’t be put down at all during the day without him being massively upset.  Poor E just wanted Mommy cuddles all day long and I couldn’t give them to him as much as he wanted (and as much as I wanted to give them to him).

Experiencing this has made a lot of thoughts run through my mind in regards to child immunization.  I know this is a very touchy subject.  I firmly believe it should be the choice of the parents to vaccinate or not to.  No government, no school, etc should force immunizations onto anyone. On that note, we as a first world society, have forgotten what it is like to see a human-being suffer without being able to help them.  My thoughts have been running through child rights, to why can’t the doctors for vaccinating and those who are against it work together, and so forth.  We as a society, should encourage parents to raise their children in a respectful and loving manner, instead of making people feel guilty about whether or not they have vaccinated.

I thought chickenpox was nothing based off what I hear people say about the disease.  Perhaps we just had a horrible run of it.  Perhaps me being sick has made the experience even worse in my mind.  If this disease that wasn’t deemed horrible was, then what are the other ones that are supposed to be horrible like?  I am thankful that chickenpox is not extremely fatal.

When Jeff arrived back in New Zealand, he missed all the fun of chickenpox.  Fortunately, in hind-sight he was away for the chickenpox as he has never had them before.

So the chickenpox put me behind in school and thus the blog has suffered a bit.  Sorry.

M: 8 Months Old

M is now 8 months old.  He is army crawling around the room.  He doesn’t venture far from where you place him on the floor.  Yet, that is.  He will get up on his hands and knees.

He takes two naps a day.

When exploring something new (like a toy or food), he will test it with his right hand pointer finger.

M still is not very keen on food.  He still has breastmilk every two hours during the day and once at night.

Overall, M is a very happy baby.  He is full of smiles and makes noises all day long.  M loves watching his brothers play.  E likes to play with M, which M absolutely loves.

8 Months Old on March 26, 2017 (Sorry, I’m a bit behind.)

Jeff here.

I’m a bit late writing this post. As you’re most likely aware, on November 14, 2016 there was a 7.8M earthquake centered about 15km northeast of Culverden in the South Island of New Zealand. The faults from this earthquake ruptured northeast towards Kaikoura and out to sea. State Highway 1 (SH1) and the main rail link from the Waiau River (5km south of Kaikoura) to the Clarence River (50km north of Kaikoura) suffered significant damage and will not be open for some time yet. The road has been closed due to roadway collapse, land uplift of +2m, and massive land slides.

A few weeks ago, I was asked to go to Kaikoura and inspect culverts along SH1 for damage and to flag those that required immediate repair/replacement in order to get the highway open as soon as possible. There were around 300 culverts to be inspected by two teams of two on SH1. The culverts south of Kaikoura had easy access and actually suffered very little damage from the earthquake…besides having 10 million cubic meters of soil on top of them.

The culverts north of Kaikoura were still mostly intact but were hard to get to because of the landslides. For these culverts, we had to take a helicopter to the Clarence River and walk as far south as we could get or until we met the other team who were walking north and helicoptering around the landslides. As with the culverts south of Kaikoura, the culverts north of Kaikoura suffered very little damage, that is except for those unlucky few that just happened to be in the path of a fault rupture. All in all, it was a great few days with beautiful weather and scenery.

Here are some photos:

The helicopter staging area. They were using monsoon buckets to wash loose rocks off the unstable slopes.

Large landslide on State Highway 1. If you look closely you can see the railway line pushed onto the beach.

The entire hillside collapsed.

This was just a really nice view.

The gabion basket retaining wall rolled down the hill causing the road to collapse.

This culvert was pretty easy to inspect. The road has uplifted around 2-3m.

This is the other end of the land uplift about 1km down the road. There is a box culvert that is broken in half.

The railway line will be quite difficult to fix.

The other end of the uplift/fault rupture.

Nice place for a picnic.

I really like the weekly photos being posted into one post between each month.  It makes life a little bit easier for me.  I will probably continue to post M’s weekly photos like this for a while.

31 Weeks Old on February 28, 2017:

32 Weeks Old on March 7, 2016

This week I purchased a new lotion called Manuka Biotic for M’s skin as it was recommended to me by three different people.

33 Weeks Old on March 14, 2017

This week M has started lifting off his belly and trying to get on top of his knees.  He has also started to venture around a room.  E and C don’t seem to like M’s newest ability of getting around as it puts their toys in jeopardy of being taken.

34 Weeks Old on March 21, 2017

The lotion I purchased has made a difference.  It has the same effect as the mild steroids!  Unfortunately, it is expensive and we go through one tube of the lotion a fortnight.  The lotion has a strong smell too.  So we have been putting the lotion given to us by the doctor that is fragrance free on top of it.

M: 7 Months Old

At 7 Months Old, M is now not only rolling around, but he is also pushing himself forward with his feet.

He has started eating solids.  He wasn’t very keen at the start of eating solids.  He still doesn’t eat heaps and sometimes isn’t interested.  He has tried a variety of foods so far.  He enjoys meat and nectarines.  He hasn’t enjoyed vegetables that are cold.  He can only manage to be in his highchair for a max of 5-10 minutes before he gets fussy.  M really likes to drink water though.

M still has breastmilk every two hours during the day.  He will let you know if he wants it by making this cute “I’m hungry whine” that he only makes when he wants breastmilk.  When we are playing on the floor when it is close to having a feed, he will roll over to me make his breastmilk whine and start grabbing at my shirt where my breasts are.  At night, I’ve cut out his 3am feed.  That leaves only one feed sometime between 10pm and 11pm.

His favorite toy is the maraca. M has started playing hide and seek.  He will roll into me and hide his face under my arm.  When I say “where’s M?”  He immediately jerks his head back, smiles, and giggles.

All of a sudden, M blabs away all day long.  M is loud too!  He will wake around 6:30am and after a feed I place him back in his bed and he will just talk and talk and talk.

M is not ticklish at all!  What’s up with that?!?!

His body is still covered in eczema.

He takes about three naps a day.  They vary in length from 40 minutes to 2 hours.  If he doesn’t have his power nap around 4:30pm, M is in bed for the night by 6pm.

M loves to watch his brothers play around him.

He is currently wearing sizes 6 months, and 6-9 months clothes.

7 Months on February 26, 2017

Mt Cloudsley

Jeff here,

I’ve got a project at work in construction at Castle Hill Village near Arthur’s Pass. Last Friday, my weekly construction meeting was moved to 9:30am so that gave me the perfect opportunity to go up Mt Cloudsley for a bit of fun and training for Nepal.

I wanted to get the work vehicle back before 7pm so I took the bike to make things a bit quicker as the first portion of the trip up Cloudsley is on the Hogsback Mountain Bike Track.

The route that I took to the top.

Got the bike out to start the track.

One thing I forgot was that I’m terrible at mountain biking so by the time I reached the point where the Hogsback Track intersects with Long Spur to begin walking up Mt Cloudsley, I was completely exhausted. I had to lay down in the grass and then eat my lunch to bring my energy levels back up. I pushed up the Long Spur and it began to get steep. It was really getting steep and then I saw Point 1855 so I pushed on. Then I realised that it was a false peak which was a major hit to my morale. I made it to the saddle and told myself that I was only going to go for 15 more minutes and then turn around as I was running low on water. Luckily I made it to the top within the allocated time.

Mt Cloudsley from the Hogsback Track with Long Spur in the middle of the photo.

It’s getting steep! It’s a long way to go to the top.

Above all the vegetation and it quite barren. Point 1855 is in the foreground with Mt Cloudley in the background.

I sidled around Point 1855 to the saddle. It looked like a moonscape up there.

From the top, you could see Lake Coleridge.

The view of Castle Hill Village from the top. You can barely see Lake Pearson on the left most part of the photo.

A very ragged me at the top. Trust me, I feel as bad as I look.  But, Amanda says I look handsome.

I only stayed at the top for a few minutes for a rest and photos and then made my way down as I didn’t know what time it was. I finally reached my bike and began biking down. By the way, mountain biking with jelly legs is quite scary. The bike down only took about 5 minutes instead of a 45 minute walk. All in all, I made the entire 1350m (4429ft) elevation gain walk/bike in around 5 hours.