What a day we’ve had today! Over the last few weeks, we’ve been trying to arrange a park catch-up with Briar’s friend from QUC Playgroup, Summer. Summer is the grandaughter of Rosie, who coordinated the playgroup, which we loved going along to on a Wednesday morning. Summer and Briar became good little mates, so now that the playgroup has finished up, it would be such a shame to not keep in touch.
The plan was to meet up at a local Queanbeyan park, however last week, I saw “Little Explorers” day advertised and suggested to Rosie that we take the kids along.
The “Little Explorers” day was being held at Questacon and adults were half price (less than $12) and kids under four were free, making it very affordable for us. The organisers encouraged kids to dress up in a space or superhero theme so we put on our galaxy outfits. I even pulled out my old Star Doc Martens that I literally haven’t worn in almost 20 years.
Briar did object to her lack of a lady dress today, however moments after I suggested we go and pick a new outfit, she was distracted by her sunglasses so the alien harems and astronaut hat remained. Gabriel is the cutest little star shining in my sky so he was dressed accordingly.
When we arrived, there were a number of activities set up outside the museum. It’s so beautiful in the autumn sun, and we headed to check out the giant bubbles that were quite literally bigger than Briar. She was actually a little overwhelmed by them and whilst she squealed in delight, she kept her distance and proved to be not quite brave enough to pop them.
Another activity set up under the autumn trees was a giant game of connect four which was a huge hit with the toddlers. Whilst they didn’t understand the intention of the game and therefore weren’t aiming for four in a row, they all had a great time posting the discs in the slots.
Next on the agenda were some giant foam building blocks. Briar was delighted by the oppurtunity to knock them down and of course was far more destructive than she was constructive!
By this time, Summer and her one year old brother Tassie had discovered the nearby water feature, and being a reasonably cool morning, Rosie was not keen to have two drenched kids before the day had begun. So we headed inside to check out the exhibition, on the way being greeted by roaming astronauts and space fairies.
The exhibits themselves were great fun. Generally they were the standard science-based sensory activities that Questacon does so well. Lots of lights and interesting things to touch. Briar was delighted that one of the first things we came across were robot dogs. Meanwhile, Gabriel had fallen soundly asleep in the pram.
There was no question Briar was playing hard and having fun, because she had lost a hair bow within 10 minutes of getting inside. Luckily she has many, many more at home.
After the robotics room, we headed down to story time where a Questacon staff member was reading “Who Sunk The Boat”. Accompanying her was a fish tank of water with a boat made from a milk bottle plus plastic animals. The intention was to demonstrate as she read the story aloud, however Briar got a little too enthusiastic and hands on.
So I can tell you exactly who sank the boat, it was definitely Briar.
We continued moving through the exhibits, a few highlights including the lightning machine and the gravity demo which involved tossing solid balls into a large funnel shape. Summer, Tassie and Rosie had a go in the earthquake machine but after the great miniature train disaster with Gabriel, I was not putting my poor boy on an earthquake machine.
It is quite fascinating to observe Summer and Briars personalities developing. When they first met, Briar was just a baby who was crawling around behind toddling Summer. Now they are both little girls and I get the feeling that Summer is sometimes a bit taken aback with just how loud Briar is.
I noticed that they didn’t seem to interact quite as much as they have in the past, with Briar just charging around the museum making heaps of noise, whilst Summer was far more thoughtful and paced herself, taking things in. Summer is certainly lots of fun with a great cheeky streak, but she is not as much of an unpredictable fire-cracker as Miss Briar Meg!
Despite them interacting much less then I expected, Briar still talked about Summer all afternoon after we had left Questacon. She told me over and over that she wanted to “play with Summer” so we definitely will make that park playdate happen soon.
As it neared midday the kiddos were starting to tire. So Rosie made the brilliant suggestion we head down to the moon room. It was difficult to photograph on a simple camera phone, but the lower level of Questacon includes a dark, round room. They had hung an enormous glowing moon, and the floor was scattered with pillows, bean bags and balloons. The kids had a really great wind-down time playing with balloons.
At this point we went seperate ways as it was time for Tasman to have his sleep. Briar and I headed to the coffee station as I was definitely in need of one.
On the way past we found a fairy who Briar immediately accosted. They had a wonderful time playing with some flying toys and I managed to ensure Briar didn’t shoplift anything from the fairies basket.
With coffee in hand, I needed to decide if we were going to stay or go. However Briar had a mini melt down over a milkshake, which I took as a sign she was tired and we needed to move on.
We walked to the bus stop and as we did so, it became clear Briar was on the verge of falling asleep in the pram. She is so excited by journeys on the bus that I knew she would be likely to fight sleep if we boarded the bus home, so instead of transfering straight onto a Queanbeyan bus, I took her for a walk in the pram.
My hope was that she may snooze, giving me the chance to sit and enjoy my coffee in peace. It was also a lovely oppurtunity to enjoy the beauty of the autumn leaves. This definitely is my favourite season.
As we wandered, Briar’s tired eyes grew heavier. However, regardless of how tired she felt, my bright spark of a two year old soon recognised the landmarks enough to realise we were in the vicinity of the carousel and she sat straight upright and started clapping and cheering for the “horseys”. I knew I had no chance of getting her to rest without a ride, so we paid our three dollars and Briar picked her horse.
Until today, ever since the birth of Gabriel, I’ve never ventured into Canberra city on my own, so I now had a dilemma. Gabe was asleep in my ring sling but Briar is too young to ride the carousel alone. Having no one else to ride with Bri, it was clear that Gabe and I were going to have our first ride on the “horseys”. I stood beside Briar’s horse and thankfully Gabe didn’t stir at all.
After the carousel ride and some tired tears from Briar who suddenly needed to ride an “effalump” (elephant), I was very thankful she did fall asleep in the pram giving me a chance to sit and relax. I even had time to pop into Aldi, a luxury without a toddler grabbing things off the shelf and insisting she “needs eggs” (Kinder Surprise).
Briar didn’t sleep for long, unlike her brother who had slept for the best part of the day. He is so content snuggled into me, however he is having more and more time awake where he watches the world go by with his massive blue eyes. I just love watching him quietly taking the world in.
As Briar was waking, she rolled into a ball and was “hiding” in the pram with her butt sticking up in the air. It was quite odd, something I’ve never seen her do before, but she’d look up at me with a cheeky grin and say “Mummy I hide from you” so I just kept on walking along with her in the pram like that.
We got to our bus stop and I was feeling pretty exhausted and looking forward to sitting down on the bus for the 50 minute trip back to Queanbeyan (its 15 minutes by car but the bus ride is much loopier and therefore longer). Briar loves buses and would happily ride the bus all day if we let her, and Gabe generally is lulled to sleep.
Unfortunately our bus broke down on the way into town so was more than half an hour late. This was tedious as Briar hadn’t really slept enough and was quite short fused. She found it really hard to sit in her pram at the bus stop and I was feeling pretty frazzled after waiting so long. Gabriel wanted a feed and I kept telling him I’d feed him as soon as we sat down. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to lift the pram on to the bus if I had Gabe breastfeeding, so I really wanted to wait until we boarded the bus. However he was starting to get distressed, adding to my stress.
I gave up delaying Gabe’s feed any longer and fed him standing at the bus stop. Briar was telling me over and over that she wanted to get out of the pram, so at this point I was considering giving up on the bus and taking Briar for a walk. I figured we could return for the next bus (they go once an hour).
Then, all of a sudden, Briar projectile vomited all through the pram.
I had Gabriel attached to my boob, was standing at a busy bus stop in the middle of the city, and my poor little girl was vomiting and crying. With one arm, I lifted Briar out of the pram and cuddled her and reassured her everything was okay. I set her down beside me and she sat on the ground beside the bus shelter looking miserable. I grabbed the baby wipes and started pathetically trying to scoop as much vomit out of the pram, with little Gabe trying his best to stay attached to my boob inside the ring sling. If there ever was a boy who liked his milk, it is Gabriel.
Just at this moment, the bus pulled up.
In retrospect, I should have just forgot about that bus, but a kind lady beckened me to hop on first so I stupidly did. I had Gabe in the ringsling, picked up poor Briar and carried her on my hip, and pushed the stinky pram ahead of me. It was awful.
By the time we got seated, Gabriel was wailing as his feed had been disturbed and I think he got a bit squashed when I was carrying Briar. Briar was just quiet and miserable, and needed to be cuddled. So I ignored my disgusting pram, got Gabe feeding again in his sling, wrapped a blanket around Briar and cuddled her. The clean up could wait, my babies needed comfort first and foremost.
Once they had both settled down, I precariously balanced Gabe on my lap whilst I managed to wipe down the pram as best I could with baby wipes. Thankfully I’d had a fleecy pram liner in so that had caught most of the puke and I was able to just roll that up and stash it in a plastic bag. I got the pram respectable enough that I was able to tuck a white baby blanket over it and put Gabriel back in it so that I could spend the rest of the bus ride cuddling my sick daughter.
If I thought the bus ride couldn’t get any worse, I was wrong. I am not going to go into detail because no one needs to read any more, and my little girl deserves some dignity left intact. However I will just say that as I held my sick little girl on my lap, I knew we had a big problem when I felt my own jeans soaking through where she was sitting on me.
The good news is, once everything was out of her system, Briar brightened up again and was soon bouncing around enjoying the bus ride. My priority was getting us off the bus asap and sparing the other passengers any more disturbing smells.
So we disembarked and headed straight to the nearby shopping centre to make the most of their parents room. We took a minor detour to Best and Less for an $8 toddler tracksuit. Briar was in high spirits by this stage and I had to convince her she was in no state to play hide and seek in the clothes racks. The kind cashier gave me extra bags for the “vomit clothes” and we went to clean up.
I have never been so relieved to walk into a parents room, although Briar couldn’t work out what all the fuss was about. She is obsessed with washing her hands at every sink we pass, so she was delighted that I let her wash her hands so extensively today.
We left the parents room feeling so much more refreshed and headed back to the bus stop in time to catch the next passing bus and finally go home.
What a relief it was to be close to home, much later than expected with the sun low in the sky. As we walked from the bus stop to our house, Briar wanted to be carried but I struggle to carry her whilst pushing a pram. My compromise was a piggy back. We didn’t get far before she started slipping and I very nearly dropped her! As I managed to catch her just before she landed on the concrete path, we both disolved in giggles.
Some days you either have to laugh or cry and I’m glad we ended today laughing.