Updates and Volcanoes

I was recently catching up via email with a friend of mine.  It was great to share what’s been going on in our busy lives!  Here’s a small update on what’s been going on with my family and me…

Swim Lessons

Joe loves his swim lessons.  They’re 30 minutes long and we’ve got a fairly small group, which is nice.  We have had I believe 3 parents + kiddoes that dropped out but added another 2, bringing the total to 5 families (there’s a set of twins in our group, helped by their older sister and mum).

Joe is learning a lot, but my main goal for these lessons has been to just have fun.  We needed something to do to get out of the house and I’m so glad we signed up for these.  Some skills we’ve worked on include paddling, kicking, learning how to stay seated on the side of the pool, only coming into the water when Joe has been given the cue.  Once he comes into the water, we immediately turn around and head to the side bar, which Joe holds onto (usually unassisted – sometimes he needs help) for 5 counts.

We have done some immersion, but I really appreciate that the instructor reads the mood of the children and doesn’t rush anyone.  Joe was raring to go from day 1, but it’s only been in the last 2 lessons that we’ve had his fully underwater.  He does so well and doesn’t cry at all.  Other skills include getting comfortable with water on the face via a plastic cup with holes drilled in it.  Joe has the “perfect response”, according to the instructor (mommy beaming here!), which is to have the water run over his face and then make a happy (non-crying) response, which for Joe usually involves a lot of splashing.

Joe loves to splash.  He splashes so much that we sometimes have to move out of the circle so that we down drown everyone else!  Even when he was a tiny baby, he would splash in his bathtub.  I started pouring water over his face when he was small (always with a cue so he wasn’t fearful and knew what to expect) and I think that it’s helped him feel comfortable in the pool.  Doing some casual visits to the pool when he was younger helped, too.

Other things he’s doing is learning how to float on his back (with his head propped on my shoulder), learning how to hold the bar and kick, learning how to hold onto the foam mat in the water, how to sit on the foam mat, and how to stand on the mat, walk to me, and jump in with a cue (he’s not too comfortable with this yet, but it’ll come).  We also do some tummy-time on the boogie-boards, set to the tune of “Motor Boat, Motor Boat”.  I remember doing that as a child, and it’s fun to do it with Joe now, too.

The lessons are at a great time for us as well as a good location.  I don’t think that I could ask for a better one, truthfully.  I had thought that we could do both swim lessons and the library’s rhymetime, but not anymore.  Joe is usually pretty tired after his lesson (perfect for that afternoon nap) and ready for his snack.  Rushing to the library isn’t worth it.

Trip to the UK

We’re leaving for an extended visit to the UK in the next 6 – 7 weeks.  We’ll get back the 1st day of December, though there is a possibility that we might change the return leg of our journey and do a stopover in the States, depending on the health of a family member.  We shall see.

Why are we going to the UK?  Chris has a great opportunity to do research and give some talks at a few universities there.  We’ll be based in Oxford, but have plans to visit Glasgow and Edinburgh (and Paris!), as well as a few other major UK towns (London, naturally).  I’m really excited that he has this opportunity, but I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t thrilled that I get to benefit from it as well.

If there was a spectrum for how much of a planner you are, I would most certainly lean toward the “over-planner” end of it.  That naturally corresponds with “worries too much” on the worrying spectrum.  I started planning and thinking and researching this trip basically as soon as I knew that we were going.  I’ve since backed off on that, and it’s been a good thing.  I’m taking the planning at a more reasonable pace and reminding myself that you can’t do everything at once.

We’re going to have the international movers take a few important items to store for our big move back to the US in 2013, but the remainder will either be sold/donated or put into short-term storage for our return in December.  When we do move back to the States, those things will then either be sold or donated as well.

Originally, I thought that we would do furnished housing when we got back from the UK.  I don’t think we’ll be doing that anymore.  I’ve looked at the furnished housing options in the areas that we want, and they’re not that appealing or worth the price.  I think it will be better to rent unfurnished and just use our familiar things.  I figured that if we were going to have to pay to store some items anyway, we might as well just store what we would want rather than attempting to make do using someone else’s stuff when we got back.

Joe’s “School”

Joe isn’t actually in school, but I sometimes think of it that way.  He goes to one of the childcare centres here in Auckland for two mornings a week.  I felt a bit guilty about this when he first started (4 weeks ago) but the guilt has gone down as I’ve seen his enjoyment and as I’ve felt the benefits of being able to get things done around here.  Even though I’m backing off on planning and prep for our trip, there’s still a lot to be done.  I really don’t feel the need to explain why we decided to enroll Joe there, and yet I often find myself doing just that whenever I meet another stay-at-home parent who asks how we pass our week.  It’s what works for us.  I’m not sure if we’ll do it when we get back from the UK, but for now, we’re happy with how things are going.  It’s also given me a new awareness about some of the comments that people, parents in particular, make regarding childcare.


Last but not least, the volcano.  You’ve all heard of the Ring of Fire, right?

Do you see New Zealand waaaay down there in the lower left?  Yes, that would be the entire country encased in the ring of fire.  This means that stuff can be a little unsettled down here, geologically speaking.  We’ve experienced the earthquakes but the most recent event was a volcano.  It happened a few hours south of here but still on the North Island, on Mt. Tongariro.

Some of the reports that I read stated that it “unexpectedly erupted”, but I guess I didn’t see it that way.  It’s not like people were walking around, la-di-dah-di-dah, all the Kiwis completely oblivious, and then bam!  Fire and smoke and ash!  There were actually news reports a few weeks in advance that stated that volcanologists had noticed an uptick in some of the activity around Mt. Tongariro, but that they weren’t entirely sure that it meant.  However, they were keeping an eye on things.  I don’t think they expected an actual eruption, but it wasn’t entirely out of the blue, either.  We weren’t affected, but it still a bit unsettling!  Auckland is pretty much built on a volcanic field, though none of the cones here are considered active or dormant (which as I understand it means that there’s still a possibility of eruption).  I think that any new volcanic activity in Auckland would mean a new cone formation, and usually there’s at least some warning with that!

So, that’s a little update about what’s been going on around here.  It’s pretty standard stuff, but we’re all doing well and enjoying these last few weeks of winter 🙂

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5 thoughts on “Updates and Volcanoes

  1. Yah for water babies! My first daughter got into baby classes from 4 months of age and has always ADORED being in the water and is a really confident swimmer.

    I’m so excited for you with your trip to Europe coming up – wow, it will be amazing.

    And you’re heading back to the USA next year too! We’ll be there around mid-2013 now – in San Francisco!

  2. I am excited to start Alex with swim lessons too. I’m just waiting for him to fit into the Little Swimmers! The local pool here will let them start at 3 months, as long as they fit into the swim nappies. He’s a skinny mini though, so we’ve had to be patient. We’re also considering doing daycare a couple of mornings a week, once Alex is 6-9 months. I am already feeling the guilt, but I do think it is good for them. Looking forward to your posts once you get to the UK.

  3. 1) I used to teach infant swim and survival lessons so I LOVE hearing about small kids in the water. The #1 indicator of a child’s chances of drowning is their parents views on water. So seeing his parents respect the water and learning to respect and play in it himself will set him up for a lifetime of fun in the water 🙂
    2) Have fun in the UK!
    3) I think that daycare is wonderful for kids – socialization is great and he needs to learn to listen to others and realize that you’re not going to always be around. I work with college students and its move in week next week – a lot of kids are about to learn that lesson the hard way. At 18.
    4) Stay uncovered in ash and lava for us, kay?

  4. You make it sound like Joe is so much older when you talk about his swim lessons… can’t you stop him grom growing?! lol! What a great idea to enroll him in a swim class!

  5. Love to hear that Joe is doing swim lessons! 🙂 And that he doesn’t seem to be afraid at all! 🙂
    And you have no reason to explain yourself to other moms or anyone in general, really. Your decisions and your life! You know what’s most important; don’t let them bring you down!

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