Archive for October, 2013

While Jeff and Joseph were down south, E and I stayed home.  Nothing exciting happened except for E’s first swim lessons.  Both Jeff and I think that the ability to swim is an important life skill to have.  So before E was born we had already decided that all our children will learn this valuable skill while they are young.  The swim lessons are through the Christchurch City Council (CCC).  The lessons are really, really inexpensive as well!  Everyone has told me that it’s extremely difficult to get signed up for swim lessons through the CCC, but I didn’t have any problems.  E got on the list on my first try.  His first lesson was on Saturday, October 19th.  At first, E wasn’t too sure about being in the pool, but he quickly liked it.  The instructor was really nice.  The activities she planned for the toddlers were mostly to get them used to being in the water.  I wasn’t able to get any photos of E’s first swim lesson because it was just me with him.  But, we have photos from his second swim lesson.  Some of them will be posted after the posts about Joseph, E, and I’s trip to the North Island.


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Jeff here.

On Wednesday, October 16th, Joseph, Amanda and Elijah came by work at about 3:00pm to pick me up. We all went to the rental car place at the airport.  Then, Joseph and I headed south while Amanda and Elijah went back home. Joseph and I drove to Wanaka only stopping a few times for pictures and food.

The next day we travelled to Queenstown and on to Cromwell.


Rainbow in Glenorchy.

From Cromwell we drove about two hours to Te Anau, which is where the Kepler Track is located. Unfortunately, I received a speeding ticket along the way.  We stopped in Te Anau, checked in at the Department of Conservation (the equivalent of a ranger station), grabbed a few meat pies and headed to the Kepler Track trail head.

The weather forecast for the first night (Thursday night) said that there was supposed to be thunderstorms with four inches of rain (100mm). So, we decided to do the loop track clockwise instead of the counter clockwise so that during the thunderstorm we would be in the lower elevation portion of the trail and save the high elevation for after the storm had passed. We hiked for about 4 hours to the Moturau hut where we spent the night.


Heel click at Lake Manapouri.


Joseph amazed at the beauty of New Zealand…or maybe the water is just cold.

That night there was a great lightning storm just like the weather predicted. Joseph seemed to enjoy the storm greatly (he is a weather man, so it just made sense).  The thunder was shaking the hut at times and even drowned out the snoring.

The second day (Friday, October 18th), we walked through beech forest and up the Iris Burn River to the Iris Burn Hut. At the hut we were greeted by a man named Bruce who was from Napier, which is in the North Island. Bruce was one of the most knowledgeable people I’ve ever met. Throughout the rest of the day and night, Bruce, Joseph and I had some great conversations.


Walking in the valley towards the Iris Burn Hut.


The view from Iris Burn Hut.

The third day (Saturday), we began the ascent from the valley to the top of the ridge which is about 1000m (3200ft) of elevation change. The switchbacks up the mountain began almost immediately behind the Iris Burn Hut. It was raining off and on the entire hike so by the time we made it to the ridge we were  both very wet.


Close to the treeline, we came across the Shelob’s lair.  Not even the Kepler Track is safe from Mordor’s influence.

Once we reached the treeline, we no longer had shelter from the wind and we started to get cold. Then on the ridge the wind became very strong. In fact, it became very difficult to stand up and even knocked us down a few times. The rain changed to sleet which stung quite a bit against our faces. Unfortunately due to the wind, sleet, and rain we weren’t able to get the camera out. We got to the first emergency shelter and there we three Aussies making lunch. They informed us that is was another three hour walk along the exposed ridge with the sleet and extreme wind. So we made the tough decision to turn back to the Iris Burn Hut. It was disappointing, but it was definitely the right decision, especially since Joseph was in the first stage of hypothermia. We spent that night in the Iris Burn Shelter. We had a lot of fun talking with everyone that night and we learned some new card games.

The next day (Sunday, October 20th) we started the hike back to the car the same way we came. We bypassed the hut where we spent the first night and continued to the main road. On the way out, I strained my achilles tendon and Joseph had some pretty gnarly blisters so we decided to hitchhike back to the car.

We then drove to the Milford Sound to catch the Milford Sound cruise at 4:30 but they cancelled it due to the fact they didn’t have enough people to go ahead with the cruise. So we just went back to Te Anau for the night. On the drive back to Te Anau, we picked up a hitchhiker from Dunedin named Julian and took him to town. The next morning (Monday, October 21st) it was raining again and we saw Julian hitchhiking again so we picked him up and gave him a ride to Queenstown. We then drove all the way back to Christchurch.

All in all it was a great trip. By the way, my achilles tendon feels a little better and Jospeh’s blisters are getting better as well.

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32 Weeks Pregnant Baby Ray #2 (3)

32 Weeks Pregnant on October 21, 2013.  Here is me at 32 Weeks Pregnant with E.

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The plan was to have this posted before Joseph and I left for the North Island on Tuesday, but life happened.

After church on Sunday, October 13th, we stopped briefly at the ReStart Mall on Cashel Street to grab a bite to eat.  While there, we browsed through some of the shops and were surprised by a Maori Performing Arts group.  The Maori Performing Arts group was attempting to raise money to travel around Australia.  The group demonstrated the haka and sang a couple of Maori songs.  While we were watching the show, there was a little boy (the same age as E) who kept trying to take our bag of chips from our pram (aka stroller).  It was really funny to watch.


Maori Performing Arts group.

Following the ReStart Mall, we then explored the Port Hills and the Banks Peninsula.


Jeff and Joseph with the awesome Banks Peninsula as a backdrop.


Jeff and I with Lyttelton Harbor in the background.  Compliments of Joseph.

On Monday, the plan was to walk around the Central Business District (downtown) so Joseph could see what remains from the earthquakes.  However, it started to rain so we just visited the Canterbury Museum instead.  There were a few new exhibits open, including 37 Portraits (contained portraits and quotes of 37 Canterbrians reactions to the earthquakes) and a Paua shell house.  That afternoon, after E’s nap, we drove out to Sunmer and quickly walked on the beach because it started raining.


E playing with an old bicycle at the museum.  I discovered the usage of ISO on our camera!

On Tuesday, Joseph, E, and I traveled to Kaikoura.  We left in the morning and arrived just in time for lunch.  We enjoyed some delicious pizza at Groper’s Garage on the main road going through town.  In fact, it was the best pizza I’ve had in New Zealand so far.  My pizza was topped with chicken, artichokes, tomatoes, and coriander (aka cilantro)….hmmmm…yummy goodness!  Unfortunately, our lunch lasted about two hours without us realizing it, leaving us very little time to explore.  Even though there wasn’t much time, we still explored the Ohau Stream trail that led us to a waterfall with playful seal pups.  The seal pups really liked E.  Maybe it was the fact that they were both babies and about the same size?  Every time I put him down on the ground, the seal pups kept coming up to him and wanting to smell him.  It was a little nerve-racking since the seal pups can be mean and bite sometimes.  But, they were really nice to him.  We also saw the adult seals and a view of the peninsula.


The seal pups admiring E.  As you can tell, E was loving every minute with the seal pups.  Compliments of Joseph.


E touching the seal pup.  He giggled every time the seal pup would touch him.


Joseph taking photos of the seal pups before they realized E was behind them.


Seal pups kissing!


Joseph in Kaikoura.

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31 Weeks Pregnant Baby Ray #2

31 Weeks Pregnant on October 13.  Photo taken one day earlier at Castle Hill.

At 31 weeks pregnant, everything is going well.  Baby #2 has finally found my left rib cage (E found them much earlier on), but he has been very kind to my ribs and only kicks them occasionally (unlike E).  I’m getting more tired every day.  I’m still not hungry.  I also have a little bit of heartburn every once in a while.  Met with Jodi, my midwife, on Wednesday.  Baby #2’s heart beat was 137.  My fundal height measurement was 28cm.  Here is my 31 week pregnancy photo with E.

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On Saturday the scheduled weather in the Southern Alps looked pretty good, so Jeff and I decided to take Joseph to Castle Hill.  It had snowed in the Southern Alps on Wednesday so there was still snow on the ground at Castle Hill.  After spending a couple of hours at Castle Hill walking around the giant rocks, we drove all the way to Arthur’s Pass National Park.  Once we drove into the National Park it started to rain.  But, Joseph was able to see the viaduct and the Apline Parrot called Kea.  He, of course, loved everything he saw.  Who wouldn’t?  One thing Joseph requested during his visit was to eat kiwi food.  So that night for tea we introduced Joseph to meat pies.  He has found his new love in life – meat pies.  He wants them for every meal now.

FYI:  The pictures posted here are from Joseph’s camera.  To see more of Joseph’s photos click here.  Jeff took our camera to hike the Kepler Track with Joseph.  So he currently has our photos.  Jeff will post about the Kepler Track, as well as, all the adventures him and Joseph do while they are down south next week.  But, until then, I will update you on what we’ve already done.


View of Castle Hill from the parking lot.


E enjoyed the long walk to the rocks.


Mountain reflection in the pond.


Great family photo with an amazing view.


Joseph and I goofing off.


Joseph showing his excitement of being in New Zealand.


E’s facial expression here is priceless.  PS:  He was just yawning.   

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On the morning of Friday, October 11th, my brother, Joseph, arrived in Christchurch, New Zealand.  He was greeted at the airport by E and me.  E totally recognized Joseph instantly.  After arriving home and after Joseph showered, E enjoyed having a new playmate for the afternoon until we went over to Wendy and Peter’s for tea.  Tea that night was a roasted leg of lamb and roasted veggies with pavlova for dessert.  Pavlova is a meringue based dessert that you can top with any type of fruit.  This dessert is the topic of much debate between Kiwis and Australians on who created the dessert.  But, officially it belongs to New Zealand.


Playtime with Uncle Joseph.


Wendy serving pavlova.


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