Monday, August 11, 2008

Bella's Reward!

Bella has a good behavior flower. When she does something that we think should be rewarded, she gets petal on her flower. When she gets a time-out, she loses a petal. She has to earn 10 petals to get a reward. We have been doing this for a while and always have let her choose some little trinket from a surprise box. Recently, we have seen that this really stopped working. We decided now when she gets her flower filled she gets to choose somewhere special to go. She has been working really hard to fill her flower and has just finished!!!

She chose to go to chipmunks play land which we went to today! she had the best time! We ran around, went on slides, in tunnels, told stories, went on a merry-go-round....just had the BEST time!
And Charlie got to come along for the ride!


Train Ride

The second most photographed building on the southern hemisphere is the Railway Station in Dunedin. (The first is the Sydney Opera House in Australia) We drive by the railway station almost everyday and even go there for the Farmer's Market almost every Saturday. It still is a working railway station and has a train that goes to the Teori Gorge everyday. It is said that this is an amazing train ride. I have wanted to go on it but it is a 4 hour trip and I was always afraid that my kids wouldn't hang. So, while my mom was here we decided to give it a go.
The other reason I never did it before was because the only trip is from 12:30-4:30pm and Charlie naps from 1:00-3:00pm and I was afraid...
We made it to the stations with not a lot of time to spare and armed with books and toys and tons of snacks.We boarded the train, found our seats and waited to leave. Charlie has been into Thomas and trains lately so we have been reading a lot about trains and learning all the terminology. So, every time Bella heard someone talk over the speaker or a train employee walked by she would say"Is that the conductor?" I never wanted to disappoint her so I said "yes!" every time. She never caught on which was good! She was so proud when she handed her ticket to the man who may or may not be the conductor!

The kids did really, really well on the train. Bella loved looking out the window and seeing all of the bridges and scenery.
Charlie also loved looking out the train window but he loved spotting all of the diggers and water!
Our tour took us over 12 bridges and 9 tunnels. Everytime the train was about to go through a tunnel the whistle would blow. Charlie's eyes would get really big, he would put his hands on his cheeks and say "Here that? Whistle?" It was the cutest thing!
At one point, the train stopped and everyone was able to get off and stretch our legs. My mom and Bella hopped off the train but Charlie and I stayed on because he was snoozing. Bella and my mom and all the other passengers walked across a big bridge and then waited for the train to cross and pick them up again. Bella really enjoyed that.

We took one more stop to get off and check out the scenery. This time Charlie was awake so we all got off of the train. We saw some sheep grazing but didn't stay off for too long because as you can see in the picture of the kids, it was really windy!

There were open air platforms between each train car where you could stand and look at scenery or take pictures. My mom took Bella out there and after she got over her initial scared she really enjoyed being out there and kept asking my mom to take her.
we had an amazing train trip!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

For Beck Fans....

Charlie is so into guitars and dancing cute! Here he is dancing and thinking about playing his guitar to a Beck song. If you listen carefully you can hear him say the name of the song, "Que Onda Guero".... So Funny!!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Bella is 4!!!

Isabella Mary Dunbar turned 4 years old last week. It seems like just yesterday that we brought her home from the hospital and our lives were changed forever. She is an amazing little girl. She has such spunk and determination and she is quite clever and witty.
From day one, anyone who meets Bella says that her outgoing, independent, stubborn personality is going to keep out trouble. She won't do anything she doesn't want to do.
I have always prayed that that would be true.

A couple weeks ago, while my mom was visiting, we took Bella and Charlie to Chipmunks, an indoor playground. The kids love it there and were having a great time. There is an area that has all sorts of tunnels and slides and climbing structures that go clear up to the ceiling(a vaulted ceiling). Bella found a couple girls to play with that were about 5 years old. She was following them around and doing what they were doing. She followed them to the top of the structure and girls started sliding down the area which is meant for climbing up. Bella looked hesitant but started to do it anyway. She looked unsure and I told her that she didn't have to do it. Eventually she came down and started playing basketball with a little boy. The girls called her to come play with them again and again she found herself with the girls at the top of the playstructure. This time one of the girls told her to go through the tunnel(Bella doesn't like tunnel slides at the moment). Bella looked back at the little girl and said "I don't want to". The girl yelled and said "Go in there!" Bella yelled back and said "I'm scared, I don't want to" she looked down at me and I said"you don't have to do anything" The girl then pointed her finger at Bella and had a mean look on her face. Bella looked back at her and said "I don't want to" and climbed down the ladder and moved on to something else.

I was so proud of her. That was her first real experience with peer pressure and she handle herself really well. It was hard to witness that because I could see the struggle in her face. I could of gone up there and saved her and yelled at the little girls but I think it was good for her to handle it herself. I just wanted her to know that she always has options and she never has to do anything that doesn't feel right.

What a big lesson for such a little girl! When we get back to California, Bella is going to start pre-school. We started talking about it and she couldn't be more excited. I just can't believe she is so grown up!

Happy Birthday Bella!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Climbing the Steepest Street in the World!

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the steepest street in the world is Baldwin Street. It just so happens that it is right here in Dunedin. While my mom was here we decided to give it a go. We were anticipating a really hard climb, but either we are in better shape than we thought or it isn't as steep as we imagined.

The gradient of the steepest section is 1 in 2.86 giving an angle of 19.3 degrees from horizontal.
There were many other people on Baldwin street while we were there. Some were walking, some were running and others were driving. Mom and I walked and ran the hill. On one side of the street there are stairs and the other side there is a foot path so you can pick your poison.
Once a year they have The Baldwin Street Gutbuster where participants sprint to the top and back again. The current record is 1min 56.06 sec. Also, once a year, Cadbury holds a lolly race down Baldwin St. It is similar to the Ducky Derby, if you are from Santa Cruz. They number Jaffas(a round type of cadbury chocolate) and you can sponsor a jaffa and if your number wins you win! Pretty fun!

I found a book at a local bookstore on Baldwin St. and it showed how you could take some interesting photos by tilting the camera even with the street.
Bill showed the picture to Bella when I wasn't around and she said "The house fell and mommy is running to get help" Bill said he laughed so hard he was crying!
What he didn't know was that I had told her that earlier when I showed her the picture! HE! HE!
Another fun day!

The prince and princess return to the castle...

We visited the Larnach castle for the second time while my mom was here. It was really fun! The last time we went, we opted not to go inside the castle but rather just look around the garden. It was early evening when we went and we were afraid that the castle wouldn't be the same after letting a tired pre-schooler and curious toddler have a look at it! It was gorgeous and warm that day so we were able to spend alot of time outside and really enjoy the spectacular views. This time, however, it was very cold and windy. We did look around the garden but it was a pretty quick trip and then we decided to go inside....

We had a great time! The kids did really well. I was glad that there weren't many other people around so we were able to move pretty quickly throughout the rooms. It was really fun for me because I was able to tell Bella things about what we were seeing and she was actually listening! I wasn't sure if she was listening but when we went into a room for a second time she repeated back to me everything I had told her before. It was pretty cool.

Charlie loved that there were tons of stairs to climb and he wasn't riding in a stroller and was actually walking!
One of the coolest parts was when we got to climb the narrow winding stairs to the turret where we had a view of the whole area. Bella was a princess in the tower, as she was wearing her tiara and had a princess gown on over her jeans that day.
Another fun day in Dunedin!

Charlie(and Bella) and the Chocolate Factory...

A couple months ago the kids and I took a tour of the Cadbury Chocolate Factory. Ever since, Bella talks about it a lot! She would tell my mom all about it, so of course, that was something my mom wanted to do while she was here.
The kids did really well on the tour. I was afraid that they would be bored because they have already heard everything but I was wrong.
One if the biggest differences, this time was that my kids know what chocolate is and so wanted to eat it the entire tour. On the tour you are given chocolate throughout, so that when the tour is over you walk away with 6-7 chocolate bars. I used to pride myself on the fact that my kids didn't know what chocolate was. Halloween candy could always be traded for healthy snacks because they had no idea what candy was. Boy am I in trouble now! Ever since the last tour they pick it out in grocery stores, gas stations and sometimes in our pantry...yikes!

At the end of the tour, we get to go into one of the three cadbury silos. Inside there is a dramatic chocolate waterfall. It is just for show, they don't use the chocolate in their candy. The waterfall is quite loud and last time Bella was afraid. So, this time I warned Bella beforehand so she could cover her ears. What I forgot to do, I guess, was warn Charlie because he was very scared and started screaming. I had to leave the room until the waterfall was turned off.

All in all, it was a really fun tour. The kids got to eat a little bit of chocolate and then we got rid of the rest!