I am very thankful that my children are awesome travellers. We do quite a few long road trips (mainly cause we can't afford accomodation so we do epic day trips hehe) and going up north of Auckland is no quick journey. By the time you take into account ONE park/toilet stop to stretch legs, ONE meal and the LONG trip from Hastings to Snells Beach...well, it is about 8 hours. Big thank you to whoever invented Temple Run for ipad and Colour Doodles. We love you muchly. We happily sung our way up the island (the girls know everything from Teddy bears Picnic to One Direction to Shania Twain to the Beatles!) and finally hit our destination: the beautiful Snells Beach. I am so aware of the blessing it is that we have an awesome Poppa and Oma who share the family bach with us every summer, what a huge memory tank for our children to get to experience these amazing beaches every year.
Unfortunately, the weather was not forcast to be fantastic. Gale force winds and downpours of rain were on the agenda thanks to the end of a cyclone passing through. The video rental place was packed (and thus, two new fans of Downton Abby were born on this trip) but we still made time to get to the beach, in our jerseys! Kate and Luke turned huge piles of sea grass into "houses with tunnels", getting completly filthy and wet and having the greatest time while they were at it. Jaimee hunted for crabs among the rock pools at Scott's Landing, picking them up and seeing how many she could find for her bucket (I made her release the poor things after!). That was her favourite thing this trip she said. We all walked across the tidal causeway to the wee island, which we had told the kids had real dinosaurs on it, so Kate climbed halfway up the steep cliff to find them. I astounded my children by climbing a tree.
Lots of movies (Jumanji was our family movie choice - another first for Marty too!) temple run challenges, doodle dice and rummikub games later...the weather started to improve by midweek....just in time for my old school mate Kathryn to join us for the day with her 2 girls. I was a bridesmaid at Kathryn's wedding, we have been friends since intermediate school and she now lives close to Snells Beach, so it was awesome to have a beach day with her and her adorable girls who are similar age to Kate and Luke. We spent pretty much the whole day at the beach as the weather got better and better. Thats the great thing about the Bach, we can hit the beach in the morning, come home for lunch and a quick nap for Luke and then back to the beach in the afternoon again!
I made quite a bit of headway on my book, and Marty and I played cards on the beach as the kids played in the sand nearby or rode their boogy boards in the shallow safe water. Bliss. What was really funny about our trip was that Marty and I are still in the middle of our Blogilates month long challenge, so all the kids joined in daily pilates video sessions with us! It was so cute watching Luke and Kate do their best...although none of them lasted more then 5 minutes!! One calf session had me unable to walk without a limp for the next day...i dare you....
Funny side story here - Luke has been awesome toilet training, pretty much did it overnight with no accidents. But Marty had a real hard time teaching him how to FINISH his business before hopping off...meaning Luke was going to the toilet about 5 times in a row after we put him to bed each night (driving us nuts). He would tell us he needed to go, do his little plop...then wipe and flush. Then realise that that wasn't the end of it, so we would start all over again. By the third night of this you could hear Marty's exasperated voice saying "NO LUKE - wait till MORE comes....PUSH!" leaving me to giggle away in the lounge at the training taking place.
On Thursday, the much awaited day with Poppa finally came around. We LOVE seeing Poppa and Oma when we are at the bach. Sadly, Oma hadn't been very well so couldn't come up, but she was certainly in our prayers...and sweet Jaimee cried on the last day because she had really wanted to see Oma too! We had lots of fun with Poppa though, who took us out Kayaking. We had one kid with each adult, all life jacketed up, it was so fun. Luke wasn't impressed with his first Kayak because water kept dripping from the paddle into his eyes, but I was VERY proud of the girls, who both jumped out of their kayaks in deep water, swam over to and climbed up a ladder to a trampoline which was mounted on a huge concrete cylinder in the middle of the bay..and then crept to the edge of the tramp and peered over at the drop to the sea...and JUMPED IN! And then they did it AGAIN! Then they swam back to the kayaks and climbed in for the return paddle to the beach. I was really proud of their courage. I did it last year for the first time, and almost chickened out then (I was all for it this year though!).
After lunch and a fun game of Doodle Dice, Poppa took us to Warkworth, where we browsed bric-a-brac shops and went on a bush walk along the river (Luke loved going under the "tunnel" - AKA a path under the bridge) before having a fluffy/coffee together in a wee cafe. We finished the fun with some park time before heading home to a BBQ tea...ahhhh. Thanks Poppa!
We were so relaxed and having such a nice time we decided to stay an extra night...cause we could. Friday was stunning, and we were glad we had decided to stay. We visited all FOUR local beaches on the one day, making sure our kids were completly beached out by the time we left. We ended our holiday time up North with fish and chips on the beach for tea.
The next day was the looooonnnngggg trip home - and we of course decided to make it LONGER by stopping in Auckland at Butterfly Creek, cause Poppa had told us they had REAL DINOSAURS on display and we just couldnt miss that opportunity, not with a dinosaur NUT in the house (AKA Luke). We didn't tell the kids where we were going, so it was all a fun surprise. Look at what Jaimee drew on the way home....aww:
Butterfly creek was lots of fun, we saw a goat being milked - check out Kate's concentrated amazement as she stares at the milk streaming down into the bucket. Her and Luke stood at the end of this Goat staring for AGES - the man actually squirted Luke's hand as he leaned in a bit close (see the little puddle on the bench?!). The butterfly room was gorgous, Jaimee stood in the same position for longer then I have ever seen her stand still before, in the hope that a butterfly might land on her. They did land on her hair thanks to her lovely flower clip! Kate worked the art of coaxing them onto her finger. We saw the big crocodiles, but of course the star attraction was definitely....
Marty and I were both very impressed at the display - all the favourites were there and they were LIFESIZE. I couldn't get a photo of Lukes favourite, the Diplodocus, cause it was just so massive, but here are the kids under its legs! Each dinosaur had moving heads, blinking eyes and "breathing" tummys. Not to mention the loud and different roars from each of them - It was very well done...Amazing. When we first laid eyes on them, Luke huddled into daddy and said "Luke Shaking", and promptly fake shivered and shaked. Kate covered her mouth in awe and a little fear and tiptoed around for a minute before she realised they weren't going to walk. Some of their expressions were a bit freaky though, with those sharp claws scraping the air and their huge teeth gnashing.
There were loads of photo ops too - I love the kids acting in the cage with the Raptor!! All in all, a FANTASTIC holiday with lots of fun memories made. We finally got home 11 hours after leaving the bach, but it was all worth it.