Daddy day care, Saturday edition

Janel is out of town at a retreat… so the kids are running the show. Not quite literally, but Evelyn did make them oatmeal for breakfast while I took a quick 5 mile run. I find that when I am responsible for a weekend with the kids I can remain fairly sane and on top of my game as long as I am not trying to do anything else other than keep the kids fed, safe, and entertained. That last bit can be a pretty tall task with 3 kids with an age range of 11, 8, and 4 and a wide range of interests. Never fear though — I approach(ed) this weekend with the same level of epic planning that I do for my own adventures.

Saturday (look for a followup tomorrow for Sunday!):

The first stop of our epic Saturday was the Riccarton Farmer’s Market. While there were several fresh fruit and vegetable stands, the real draw here (for the kids) are all of the baked and confectionary treats. They walked a mile to the market from our house (Janel has the car), and I was planning on a lot of walking and other physical activity for the day so I wasn’t worried about the sugar overload.

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(clockwise) Kids enjoying treats at Riccarton Farmer’s Market. View over the Avon. Calvin running in the yard. Calvin’s look of accomplishment after balance walking.

The market itself was pretty busy because today’s weather was beautiful (50 degrees and sunny!). The Riccarton reserve grounds also have a large, sparsely treed, well-maintained yard out front so I let the kids run around for a few minutes. Calvin spotted a group of your standard college-guys-who-balance-walk-on-ropes-between-trees and was not going to be deterred from trying it himself. The guys graciously obliged and Calvin took his shoes off and walked across the whole length holding my hand for support. He definitely leaned on me too much to be able to do it himself, but he was half good (as opposed to being not half bad).

We stayed for a few minutes before I implored the kids to get a move along as we had an agenda and I was sticking to it. I WOULD tire them out by the end of the day. So we walked another mile down the road and through Hagley Park to get to the playground at the Christchurch Botanic Gardens.

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Christchurch Botanic Garden. (clockwise) They love swings. The hanging see-saw. Shark tag on logs. Logs are friends, not food.

The first stop was the actual playground where the kids love the swings, the hanging see-saw, the climbing structures, and the spring see-saw (which allows two kids of uneven weight to enjoy the see-saw more than usual). Apparently they had not gotten all their playground willies out so we played around on a bunch of cut logs. I have no idea if this is just a New Zealand thing, but it seems that the culture here really embraces the concept of free play where random everyday objects are play areas. A bunch of cut logs? Sounds like a great place for shark tag. A stack of rubber tires? Add a 4×4 in the middle and it’s a boat! Old corrugated steel tubing? Bury it in some dirt and you got a brilliant hamster tunnel. An old tank? Park it, paint it, and load it with foam bullets (well okay they haven’t actually done that yet… as far as I know).

We walked through the main route in the Gardens and stopped at the fountain for some pictures and a drink (from a water fountain next to the fountain of course 🙂 ). I had asked the kids what they each wanted to eat for lunch and the loudest response was from Evelyn who recounted her desire for a fancy sandwich from Panera with such rapture that I knew I needed to find our lunch destination quickly before she started going birthday-party-level delirious. So we headed to the Re:Start mall.

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Re:Start mall. (clockwise) Enjoying real lemonade outside. The permanent twister installation. Ice cream is always a winner. 17 was the price for the sandwich (not actually joking).

We wandered around the outdoor mall for a few minutes scouting the shops and food stands. The setup is pretty sweet as (lol good thing I only have 2 more months at UC or I might start sounding like a first year). We settled on the Hummingbird Cafe and Calvin ordered pancakes (which were huge and Calvin was only able to eat half of them), Charlotte ordered omelet and toast, and Evelyn and I had two different lovely chicken sandwiches. The kids also got ice cream and Calvin took his chance to pick up the ladies in a weirdly not chaotic game of dance hop on the Re:Start logo twister board (yes there is a permanent spinner built into the platform if you want to play for real).

At this point we walked through Cathedral Square and checked in with the Luminarium display, but that will have to wait for tomorrow as the tickets were sold out for Saturday. I had planned to take the kids to the Lego play center anyway, so it was off to that for the next hour and a half.

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Imagination Station. (clockwise) Diving into the group lego pile. Creating virtual lego models. Who said we came here for the kids? (I had enough time to build half a robot). Calvin playing lego-dino-rampage.

Everyone had a great time here and built with the physical legos and at the computer stations where you can use the virtual lego program to make your own designs. There was a birthday party being held at the center but it was still open and had plenty of space for drop-ins like us. The charge for the party is only $5 per kid and $1 per adult and you can bring your own food and drinks. I think we might bring Calvin back here for a small birthday party in October.

I promised the kids at the beginning of the day that we would take the bus home. They had done a really good job walking around all day (we walked over 4 miles when all tallied). We took the slightly scenic path through the construction since there isn’t a good way through the combination of one way streets, angled/curved roads, and closed sidewalks to the bus depot. And by scenic I mean that we walked next to some giant lots with holes blown into the ground and various buildings in states of partial construction.

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Watch out, zombie cranes are attacking!

The kids had a bit of fun posing for an apocalyptic picture (or what counts as one for them). They pretended to be afraid that the cranes were evil zombie cranes and were actually wrecking the city instead of building it. ❤ the imagination of kids.

We headed back home around 5PM so that I could make dinner and then we settled into watching the third Harry Potter movie. Day 1 complete; day 2 might not be as epic since the weather forecast isn’t as great, but don’t count me out yet 🙂

PS – Bonus footage of pictures of the day. Please only consider busking if you play your instrument well.

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(clockwise) Pig crossing. One set of many flowers at the Botanic Gardens. Mural on the outside of a Montessori early learning center (can I go there?). Rules for busking. Random butterfly on our walk to the Riccarton market.
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