How Many 1st’s Can you Pack into a Year?

23 02 2019

Firsts are exciting, scary, frustrating and memorable.

Honestly, I became a little bit obsessed about ‘tracking things’ when the girls were born.  I was tracking everything.  Their sleep, their feeding, their pees/poops.  And then I was tracking my own sleep and my own moods.  And then I was tracking their milestones (smiling, laughing, rolling, WALKING), holidays, new foods that they were eating, and new experiences they were having.

There are A LOT of firsts that happen during that first year and a half.  A lot of living and a lot of becoming something other than a squishy pile of baby.

One of our most notable firsts was our 1st Road Trip.

It’s laughable when I think about how much we managed to pack into our car when we took the girls on their first road trip to Vancouver BC.  Nathan and I had done this drive many many times and we had usually packed the night before or even the morning that we were leaving.  I think I spent 2 weeks making lists and practice packing before we departed on our 3 Hour road trip to take a 3 Day Trip.  And even after we had packed up everything on the list, we added the Baby Bjorn Bouncer Seats, the Rock ‘n Plays and the extra pack ‘n play….just in case.

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It looks like the babies won’t fit in the car!

Brooklyn and Lucy were just over 5 months old and it was time to take them to Vancouver, BC to introduce them to some of the extended family.  We had attended previous cousin’s 100 day celebrations with the traditional Chinese Feast, so I figured this was something we should do as well, and to be honest, I had never hosted a 12 course Chinese meal before and was kind of excited about it.  Luckily, the restaurant is so used to this type of thing, a 12 course lunch meal on a Saturday for 40 people was nothing they couldn’t handle.  I on the other hand, felt like I was planning a wedding – complete with seating charts (and the drama that comes with seating charts), table numbers, guest favors, a guest book, special outfits, etc etc etc.  All while still trying to figure out nursing, nap times, and what it means to travel with twins.

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But look at these cuties!

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They were champs.  I was the stress case.  And if it wasn’t for my sister making a plate for me at every course, I probably wouldn’t have eaten anything.

But, although I don’t really remember eating anything, I will carry these memories with me forever:

The fact that everyone spent so long taking pictures with the twins and holding them that the restaurant told me we had to start lunch or we would run out of time before their next party 🙂

Cousins meeting their new baby cousins.

My dad, holding Lucy while chowing down on the feast with his chopsticks.  Actually, I don’t think I remember any moment of the day that my dad wasn’t holding Lucy.

My Yin Yin (grandma) cooing and singing to Brooklyn.

My friend telling me how great the wine was….and asking what we were going to do with the leftover bottles…

It was a huge blur.  I actually didn’t remember what we had done that weekend other than that lunch, but looking back at the photos I now remember that we had a great visit with my brother and sister, the girls were spoiled with their first hotel suite looking out at the Coal Harbor Marina, we enjoyed a morning Seawall walk with the mountains in the background and we actually just had a lot of great family time.

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Uncle James / Lucy + Auntie Nicki / Brooklyn

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So spoiled!

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Early morning cuddles/snooze

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Vancouver Seawall / Coal Harbor

Since that first trip, we’ve taken the girls back to Vancouver so much that the valet and most of the breakfast staff at the hotel restaurant know the girls – even the coffee shop owners down the street remember us!  We don’t pack quite as much as that first trip, but the girls’ suitcase is still bigger than ours!

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Beware: Potty Training Twins

17 02 2019

Bath Time

I am going to share a few stories that my girls will probably hate me for when they get older, but that I would hate myself if I didn’t take the time to memorialize these moments in something other than frantic whatsapp chats with my girlfriends and family.   These are the moments my girls will cringe at when they are brought up at family gatherings but ones they will completely understand and sympathize with when they have children of their own.

These are the stories that I think (I hope) all parents of toddlers have.  Although, I have to admit, when I shared these stories with my other mama friends, they laughed hysterically and also told me this was their greatest fear (and they have boys!) …..so I’m thinking this may not always be the case.

At this point I have probably tempted you with intrigue, but I warn you that these stories are kind of gross, deal with ‘potty’ humour, and once you hear these stories (and picture them) they can’t be unheard or unseen!!

So let’s get on with it!  My first story features Brooklyn.  She is the first born, extremely stubborn and willful but lives life freely and loves passionately.  And one of the things she loves is dates!  Those super sweet things that no one really eats on their own but use for recipes (or wrap in bacon).

One morning, after a very tough night with her where she was wired and awake until 10pm (2 – 2.5 hrs past her regular bedtime) and awake again at 3AM.  When 7am rolled around, I went into their room to get them ready for the day, Brooklyn was babbling and standing at the rail of her crib.  She keeps saying ‘date date date‘.  The room is dark and as I get closer to her, she is holding something in her hand.  It looks like a date.  And I’m so confused but I think, ‘maybe one got stuck to her blanket when it was downstairs and she just found it?’.  So I put out my hand and she places the ‘date’ in my hand.  <I think you can see where this is going>  It isn’t a date at all!  It’s a piece of poop!!!

So I take the ‘date’ to flush it down the toilet, grab Brooklyn out of her crib and go wash her hands and change her dirty diaper.  I ask her, ‘Did you taste the date?’  She nods.  ‘Did it taste bad?’  She nods.  Geesh kid.  After a tough night, this is what you start the morning with???

At this point, Lucy is up and starting to fuss, so I pick Lucy up and get her on the potty.  Then Brooklyn comes over to me and says, ‘date date date’, she hands me another ‘date’!!!!  OMG!  Brooklyn where are these coming from!!!  So I turn the lights on full blast and go inspect her bed and blankets – where there is a little nest of ‘dates’.  

Oh Brooklyn….this story will live with you forever!  

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My second story is one that I feel only twin parents can truly understand…or parents that have two kids that they are potty training at the same time!

Brooklyn and Lucy are just over 2 years old (26ish months) so we are just starting to dive into potty training.  Grandma bought them little toddler sized toilet potties – which they love to push around the floor more than they love to sit on and use them for what they are intended for.

We are winding down for the night, and they are having a little bit of naked dance party time where they dance naked to Baby SharkUptown Funk, and their favourite Moana songs.  So they are running around naked and have pushed their potties around the room, when Brooklyn runs into the bathroom and sits on one of the potties.  Good Girl!  She’s gone poop in one of the little potties (a learning process but the part I was not looking forward to when we starting training with the little potties).  So I’m praising her efforts and cleaning up the potty and when I hear ‘uh oh uh oh uh oh’.  I look around the corner and Lucy has peed all over the floor….right next to her potty!  So I go to clean her and the mess up when she starts to try to walk away and slips and falls…. in her own pee!!  Covered.  At this point I call out for Nathan – I’m pretty sure he’s outside taking the trash out, but I call anyway.  I need backup for 2 naked toddlers, one covered in pee and pee all over the floor!  No answer.  I’m on my own.

So I get Lucy cleaned up, start cleaning up the floor when Brooklyn pushes her potty from the bathroom to where I’m cleaning up the pee on the floor.  Then she sits down on the potty to go pee.  Good Girl!  But now I have to keep them off of the pee floor and go and help wipe Brooklyn before she dribbles pee all over the floor.   Brooklyn is quick about her business and just as I’m about to reach her to dry Brooklyn and deal with the pee in the potty, Lucy says ‘what’s that?’ and dips her hand in Brooklyn’s pee!!!  Oh man!!

So I get the potty cleaned up, get the floor cleaned up, get the girls cleaned up.  What feels like forever has really only been 10 minutes of naked potty craziness.

And then Nathan walks down the stairs (from upstairs, from our room, where he was the whole time!!)  Are you serious????!!!!!!

(side note: don’t be too mad, because Nathan was taking a shower and did not hear me calling for him, or the craziness, and I didn’t hear the shower because our dance music was turned up pretty loud)

I don’t think I would have ever imagined that these would be stories I would be telling anyone.  Not because I wouldn’t want to share these stories when they happen, but does anyone ever think that this actually happens in something other than a sitcom?

Toddlers are crazy.  I promise my next post will be more glamorous than this…..

 

 

 

 





“I will not let my kids define my life”

22 01 2019

…Said one of my friends as she slathered on sunscreen onto her 2.5 year old with one eye on her sleeping 3 month old.  This statement occurred as we were taking in a day at the pool in Vancouver, BC and in three short months she was about to take a month long trip to Japan and Hong Kong with her husband and then almost 3 year old and 6 month old boys.

I was amazed and impressed that she had the guts to take on such an ambitious undertaking, and I am even more impressed now that the trip is actually done and she and her husband lived to tell the tale!  Also, I now have just over two year old girls and can’t imagine traveling overseas with them (yet...hopefully).

I am remembering this statement from my friend because it also reminds me of something that I thought to myself and said to Nathan a couple of months ago.  I decided to bring out all of our annual photo books that depicted our travels since 2008 to show the girls.  The girls liked pointing out pictures of ‘mama’ and ‘dad’ but could care less about the pictures of scenery, food, landmarks and other beautiful and special moments Nathan and I have seen and shared over our 10 year history.

Seeing those photos and everything that we have done in the past made me think, ‘I don’t want to say we did all of these fun and exciting things….and then we had kids….‘.

So, although I have had some blurbs of text saved on my phone about things we’ve done over the past year, it’s time to record and celebrate the adventures that we’ve achieved as a foursome and not let them pass by without capturing the memories (because like it or not…’mom-brain’ is a real thing)! No, we haven’t gone kayaking in New Zealand or sailing in Greece or even road tripping to the Grand Tetons….but….we have done stuff – enough to know that Brooklyn gets car sick and Lucy only likes ‘swimming’ if it’s warm water and there are people to wave at…and we LOVE Mickey Mouse, unless he is right beside us, and in that case, we are terrified.

So…stay tuned…as I hope to get back to writing and sharing all of our adventures (different as they may be), and maybe one day I will be writing about our crazy overseas adventures…maybe…mmmm…(deep breath)….maybe.

 





4 Months and Counting

24 07 2017

I need to preface this post by saying that I actually wrote it about 4 months ago.  Life is different ~ absolutely better ~ and it has either gotten easier or I have just adjusted to the new norm of 6am being a sleep in day (but to be honest, I can’t remember the last time I slept until 6am).

 I re-read my post today and it still holds true to exactly what I was feeling back then (not some distorted sleep deprived reality) when I wrote it in the wee hours of the morning many months ago.  

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I think it’s time to take a detour (hopefully brief) from all of the typical travel blog posts and talk about a new adventure that I have been experiencing: motherhood.

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I have to say, the transition from ‘mother-to-be’ to ‘new mom’ has been a rocky one.  Perhaps it is because I loved being pregnant – I was definitely one of the lucky ones – I felt great 90% of the pregnancy, it didn’t stop me from doing what I wanted to, and apparently I ‘glowed’.

To be honest, sometimes I still mourn the loss of that role and sometimes I feel a twinge of jealousy when I see a pregnant woman walking down the street, or when I heard that Beyonce was pregnant with twins!  There is just something magical about the potential of being pregnant.  You read up on all of the crazy things that are happening to and inside of your body, you spend hours looking over baby name lists and you plan and visualize exactly how you want your labour and delivery experience to be.

What you don’t realize and what you can’t understand when you’re pregnant for the first time, even when people tell it to you, is that you have very little control over how your baby comes into this world.  Right up until two days before my babies were born, I knew that I was going to have December babies, we would call our doula over to the house when I went into labour, of course it would be during the evening/night and then we would make our way to the hospital…and then the rest of what would happen was always kind of blurry, I just knew what kind of beginning I wanted to have, with little thought to the end I guess.

Since crossing that invisible line of ‘mother-to-be’ to ‘new mom’ I have realized that that is the key to my emotional turmoil.  I am a very good student, and I studied up on everything I could get my hands on about twin pregnancies and then, when the babies finally did make their appearance (in November!) and opposite in almost every way that I had imagined, all of my studying and everything that I had learned had no use anymore.  All of a sudden I was in a new school, with a different set of rules, and I was behind.

As I walked slowly through the waiting room at my OB’s office six days after having my twin girls, I felt like my world had shifted.  The last time I walked through the front door of that waiting room, seven days prior, I never left, and instead was wheeled out the back entrance to the hospital.  I looked around the room at all of the other woman in various stages of pregnancy, and I just thought…’you don’t even know!’  And I know that that’s not fair to say since not all of these women were going through their first pregnancy, but I truly felt like I was in that room, no longer a naïve ‘mother-to-be’ but someone who knew something that you can’t know until you know – and it had changed me forever.

All of a sudden I have these two new little bosses in town.

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And they are in control of my life like no parent, teacher or employer ever has been.  They control when I sleep, when I eat, and even when I go to the bathroom.  They often make me question the last time I brushed my teeth or washed my hair….and laundry….if it wasn’t pooped on, it probably isn’t getting done.  Perhaps the most maddening part of this new super-controlled lifestyle, is that there is no rhyme or reason, no set schedule that you can wrap your head around and make sense of.  You just have to simply get used to eating cold food, drinking cold tea, taking 15 minute cat naps and holding it.  And some days you just lower your expectations and don’t even try to eat, sleep or go to the bathroom…and on those days, well….inevitably emotional breakdowns take place.

I would like to say, ‘it gets better every day’, but sometimes it doesn’t.  I think I could possibly say, ‘it gets better every week’, because sometimes it did, but I can definitely say that ‘it gets better every month’.  Those first few weeks were full of tears and a lot of confusion.  I literally cried over ‘spilled milk’.  Our ‘solid as a rock’ relationship took on some blows.  I felt desperate to make sense of these two new babies in our lives and try not to question their presence and long for life (and the freedom) pre-babies.  So I spent a lot of time reading articles/blogs and buying things on amazon that I thought would help some aspect of our new way of life: swaddle pods with velcro, a second rock n’ play, a second bjorn bouncer, a bottle washing brush, clothes that the babies would actually fit, more clothes because we already outgrew the other ones, and the list continues.  I read an article that said you should disconnect your credit card from your amazon account when you have a baby….I can see their point.

I walked into our two month pediatrician appointment asking about sleep training schedules and I think I surprised our doctor when I told her I had just read a sleep training book for twins.  When I think about how busy my days are now, at almost 4 months post-baby, I don’t know when I found the time to read a book.  But, then I realized, it was because I wasn’t sleeping.  You can get a lot of things done when you’re not sleeping.  Until you can’t get anything done because you’re not sleeping.  Now I am getting ready for bed at 7:30pm.

During my pregnancy and during the first few weeks/months as a new mom, what I have wanted more than anything in this world….was for someone to give me a definitive answer.  Just tell me what to do, and I will do it!  Breastfeeding.  Pumping.  Formula supplementing.  Sleep training.  Dealing with crying babies.  What I now realize, is that when it comes to pregnancy, labour and delivery, breastfeeding, babies in general, is that the most common answer you will hear is, ‘it depends’.  And what am I supposed to do with that??!

We have made it to four months with twin girls.  Sometimes I still cry when I look at their faces (out of love now, and not sleep deprivation…ok sometimes sleep deprivation).  I often want (and sometimes give in) to turn on the light at night and watch them sleep.  They watch me from across the room with their big eyes.  They give me wide mouth Buddha baby grins.  They light up and sing along to the ABC song.  I could watch Nathan playing with them forever.  And I can’t believe how they have their grandparents and aunts and uncles (and the rest of the family) wrapped around their little fingers.

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Needless to say, my life is forever changed.





Just the Two (four…) of Us

22 03 2017

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I got a lot of questioning looks when I told people that for our, so-called, ‘Babymoon’, we were going to take a road trip from Seattle to Yellowstone National Park, Jackson Hole and the Grand Tetons.  They said, ‘Really? A Road trip??  Why not Hawaii?  Or what about Europe?? You should do something now without the babies (yes babies…twins!) that you wouldn’t do when they arrive.’

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Well you know what….I can see going to Europe with the babies (at least this is what I thought before we had them), and I can definitely see us going to Hawaii with the girls.  But what I can’t see us doing with two children in tow is a Road Trip – ‘Nathan & Traci Style’.  That means 12 – 16 hour days in the car, tracking herds of bison on the backroads, taking photo upon photo upon photo of scenery and at least seriously considering to get up in the early wee hours of the morning so that we could catch photos of the colours of the sunrise streaking across the sky, or waiting out at the edge of a river to see if the cinnamon mama bear and her cubs would be stopping by for a drink.

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In a way this road trip was a farewell to our life as off the beaten path travelers who take every opportunity to pack in as much as we possibly can, experience everything we can experience and travel without any thought as to the necessary feeding/potty breaks that will inevitably rule our lives for the next….ever.

Plus, we had to have one last trip in our Subaru XV.  We had to say goodbye in true style and get as much dirt and as many bugs as we possibly could on this car, before we gave it a good wash and turned it over to a new home.  Because, when we had to put down the backseats just to get the stroller in the back, we realized that we would not be able to keep our beloved Subaru if the seats had to be set up for two car seats…which we kind of need…

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And so, we embarked on our road trip.  We racked up over 2000 miles in a 5 day period.

It was an incredible trip.

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A trip that gave Nathan and I a chance to ‘hang out’, tell stories, share experiences and cherish a little bit of time together, real time together, before it was not just the two of us anymore.  Because you have to admit, when you’re going on a road trip you have to be pretty selective on who you choose to travel with because it could be the most amazing and intimate bonding experience, or it could be just a little too much time together and you end up needing to have separate quarters for a while after the trip.

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To be honest, I may have pushed the boundaries a little bit, as I didn’t see any other pregnant people sitting along the rim waiting for Ol’ Faithful to put on its show…

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or strolling along the steam of the hot springs at the Grand Prismatic Spring…

 

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…or hanging out the sunroof, as far as I could before my belly got in the way, to take photos of bison and longhorns.

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So glad that we made the choice to do this trip.  Can’t wait til the girls get old enough to be able to enjoy the sights and scenery instead of wonder why we are at yet another scenic overlook taking photos.  And even though we couldn’t do everything we would have done, had I not been 6 months pregnant (I did offer to get out of the car so Nathan could do a little off-roading on terrain that was a little too aggressive for me) I love all of the photos we were able to capture of our adventures on the road.

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What’s a Detour or Two?

31 12 2016

With 40 hours left in New Zealand and over 230 miles left to drive to catch our flight home, somehow it just made sense that we should add an extra 7o miles to our trip and a couple of unexpected detours.  Because….when are we going to be back in New Zealand, on this type of a road trip…besides we can sleep on the plane, right?

So we were on the road early, still feeling the high from our glacier hike and feeling relaxed from our soak at the glacier hot pools the day before.

The forecast said rain, but we seemed to have gotten on the road before the clouds rolled in, and although they chased us and eventually caught up to us, we had a great (although long) drive for our last full day in New Zealand, zipping along the West Coast of the South Island, and winding through the Southern Alps as we headed to Christchurch.

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Views from the Road

I can’t remember who told us to make a side trip to Hokitika Gorge – but it was one of those places that is so far off the beaten path as you drive towards it, you start to question whether or not you are still going in the right direction….did you go too far….did you make the right turn….should you turn back…and then you find the parking lot, and realize that a lot of people have made the same pilgrimage that you have, only somehow you found yourself driving on an empty road for the last hour…

Hokitika Gorge is also one of those places that you can’t believe it actually looks like that, and when you look at your photos afterwards, you can’t quite believe that you were there, and the water was truly that colour.

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Hokitika Gorge

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It also made me wish that this wasn’t a drive through type stop for us because the water looked soooo inviting, but alas, the road trip must go on!

We stopped in at Hokitika for lunch, and also to take the obligatory tourist photo of their driftwood sign at the beach.

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The day was half over….but we still had one more photo detour and 230 miles of driving before we could rest our heads (and feet) for the night.

Because you can’t leave the South Island in New Zealand without seeing the Pancake Rocks…right?  Right? Well, that’s the idea I had in my head, so on we went to see the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks.

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Limestone formations that look surprisingly like huge stacks of pancakes.  Weird.  But also a nice place to take a stroll and stretch our legs, grab a flat white and check it off the list before we started the last leg of our journey for the day and for our trip.

Only another 4ish hours (more like 6) to go and the width of the South Island to go before we could check into our last hotel, pack up for the last time, and enjoy our last true flat white.

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We drove through the Southern Alps and had an opportunity to enjoy the views with just the perfect lighting as the sun started to set behind us.

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We found a cute little honey stand which had a sign that made me laugh.  Seriously the cheapest honey that we came across.  I think the souvenir shops were selling them for $20 – $30+ per small jar.

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As we wound through the Alps, the rain finally caught up with us and the clouds turned the sky dark well before its time, and as grey clouds turned into black night, we found ourselves rolling into Christchurch.

We knew that Christchurch was known for its English heritage but also that it had experienced some devastating earthquakes in the last 5-6 years that had destroyed a lot of its historical stone buildings and had effected much of its landscape.

Knowing that Christchurch had earthquake damage was way different than seeing it with our own eyes.

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We spent our last morning in New Zealand wandering the streets of Christchurch, taking in both the sights of earthquake wreckage and public art installations and murals that created a landscape of contrast.

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And so with a last glimpse at destruction and art, we headed to the airport to complete our 10 day road trip in New Zealand.  Still buzzing from the adrenaline rush of our sea kayaking tour, black water rafting, bungy jumping, glacier trekking adventures and feeling amazed at the beauty of the natural landscape, we settled in for our very very long flight home.

But New Zealand had one more surprise in store for us.  Air New Zealand gave out Hokey Pokey ice cream as their dessert!!  What?  Ice cream on the plane.  Kind of in love.

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Until next time New Zealand. Stay beautiful.





A Day of Firsts

23 12 2016

Last big adventure planned for our New Zealand trip.  Ice trekking on the Franz Josef Glacier.

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First time in a Helicopter (for me)

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First time wearing crampons

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First time hiking on a glacier

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First time being told to stop so that the team can fill in a hole in the ground due to a constantly shifting glacier – and feeling completely safe moving forward on our ice trek

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Lots of firsts on this day.  But definitely not the first time New Zealand amazed us on this trip.

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