The trip to Akaroa did not get off to a propitious start.

The day started at 2:45 am.

The previous 24 hours had been very unpleasant for Annie. Usually when she got sick, her nose would be runny, or she would have a cough. But this was different. This was her tummy. She did not like this new kind of sickness. She had been up all night, and Mommy and Daddy had been up all night too, and she had taken a shower and had to have new sheets on her bed 2 times. Then she had spent the day on the couch, watching TV with her daddy. She didn’t have anything to eat all day, except half a piece of toast at dinnertime.

At 2:45 am, she woke up.

“I want some French toast with peanut butter and honey on it, please,” said Annie in her loudest-but-politest voice. “I am not sick anymore and I want some food. Mommy and Daddy, please get me some French toast with peanut butter and honey and some milk and some water. Mommy and Daddy. Mommy and Daddy! I need some French-”

“Shhhh, Annie!” her daddy interrupted. By this point, he had dragged himself out of bed and staggered into Annie’s room. He started talking to her quietly. His words were slurred and difficult to follow but, amidst a lot of talk about middle of the night and we don’t have bread anyway Annie was able to pick out his meaning, which was No. This was a big shock to her, as she had asked so politely and it seemed like a very reasonable request to her. She wept bitter tears, and she tried to reason with him, but he was in a stubborn, unreasonable mood. They had a long discussion. Eventually Daddy left the room and Annie cried herself back to sleep.

But Cora Rose also heard the cry for French toast. Big sister! Breakfast! Fun and games! It must be time to get up!

Her mother and father tried to explain the concept of “middle of the night” to Cora. But Cora was thinking, Food! Crawling and climbing! Toys! Yay!!

Her mother held Cora and said Shhh in a calm and comforting way, but Cora felt that a little snuggling with her mother was a sad exchange for fun and excitement. She kicked out with her legs, kicking her mother’s legs and tummy; she arched her back; she waved her arms around and squealed. When her mother tried to hold her tighter, to prevent her from hurling her tiny body out onto the floor, Cora screamed in frustration. Her mother sang her a lullaby, very quietly, and Cora Rose paused in her kicking and thrashing to stare at her mother for a few moments. Then she went right back to thrashing. It was time to get up.


So when Annie woke up the next morning and came tiptoeing in to her parents’ room, bright and early, her parents did not wake up until she was standing right next to her mommy. She stood over her mommy, very close, and when her mommy turned over in bed and then started awake, she said in her politest quiet voice, “can I come cuddle with you, Mommy?”

Groggily, Mommy sat up in bed. “No!” she said, to Annie’s surprise. “No, I’ll get up. You still have sickness in you, and I don’t want you to give it to your sister.” Annie looked over and saw that her sister was fast asleep between Mommy and Daddy, looking angelic.

“Actually I am not sick anymore,” Annie stated. “Can I have French toast with peanut butter and honey and… and syrup and all the unhealthy things?”

Persistence is always helpful in wearing down your parents’ spirits, along with using a polite tone of voice. It also helps when your parents are tired. They are much more easily beaten. So, in spite of her recent illness, it was not long before Annie found herself seated at the kitchen table, happily gazing at a piece of French toast with peanut butter and honey drizzled on it. And so the day started for the second time.


Akaroa was an hour and a half away. The family planned to spend 2 nights, which would give then lots of time to see all the beautiful things – the hikes, the outdoor art, the little shops by the water, the beaches.

It started raining around the time the family got into the car.

Annie did not like car rides normally; the longer the car ride, the less happy she felt.

By the time they were an hour into the trip, she was requesting that they stop the car and not go any further. Mommy and Daddy were saying things like, “Wow! Look at that view! Annie, look down there, you can see the water way down below! Isn’t that beautiful, Annie?” These were the same things they had said during every trip. Annie had never been much impressed by the soaring mountains, deep valleys, tranquil lakes, etc. Her parents’ comments just irritated her. She demanded again that they stop the car.

By the time they reached the house they were staying in, no one was feeling very happy. It was still raining.


Annie and Cora had their naps at the new house amidst some tears, and afterwards, it was getting close to evening. The family went into the little town to see the sights. It was still raining. Annie had a raincoat but the rest of the family had forgotten to bring their raincoats or umbrellas. Annie didn’t want to wear hers anyway. They walked around but all the stores were closed.

“I’m cold,” Annie announced. “Are we going back to New Zealand soon?

They went out onto a pier to take pictures and by the time they came back Daddy was not feeling quite right in his tummy. Mommy and Daddy talked quietly and then Mommy told Annie that the three ladies – she and Annie and Cora – were going to be spending the evening together, without Daddy, who would be in bed. They could have the very exciting meal of an egg cooked in a microwave, with some toast.


The next day, Daddy was feeling a little better. The family went for a little hike in the rain through a forest that had lots of birds in it. For the first few minutes it was fun.

The family even found an old playground, although everything in it was wet.

“I don’t like trees,” Annie announced suddenly.

“What?” said her mother.

“I only like trees with flowers,” Annie explained. None of the trees around them had flowers. It was more like a jungle – a misty jungle; it was still raining lightly. “It’s scary,” Annie added. 

“It’s not scary,” said Mommy.

Cora, who was sitting in the stroller, started to cry. She wanted her mother to hold her. Her mother was supposed to hold her at all times, sleeping or waking. After a few seconds her mother caved. She sighed and picked Cora up. Seizing the opportunity, Annie dove into Cora’s seat in the stroller and settled in.

This was not ideal for Mommy and Daddy but they tried it out for awhile, Mommy holding Cora and Daddy pushing Annie, Annie bumping over the roots as the path wound through the trees. The path wound down to the seaside, sometimes on a paved road as it climbed up to a little lighthouse.

But eventually Mommy’s arms got tired.

When Mommy suggested Annie get out of the stroller, Annie wept and refused. She clung to the lap bar on the stroller. So Mommy put Cora down on Annie’s lap.

The sisters were both in agreement that this was not a good plan. Cora immediately started to cry and scream and thrash.

This, however, made Annie even more upset. Cora was not playing by the rules. The rule was, only one girl was allowed to scream at a time. This was a very important rule to Mommy and Daddy, and they were very strict about enforcing it. Annie knew that. And she felt the injustice of the present situation. She turned to Cora and cried angrily, “It’s my turn to cry! It’s not Cora’s turn! It’s my turn!” Cora just ignored the rule. Annie felt this was totally unfair.

Cora went on screaming and writhing. Annie followed suit. “Get her out of here!” Annie screamed, trying to push her sister away from her. Mommy picked Cora back up again.

Soon the family turned around and walked back through the rainy forest to their car. At some point on the way back, Cora was in Mommy’s arms, and Annie was on Daddy’s shoulders, and Mommy was pushing the empty stroller up the winding path. Mommy and Daddy did not know quite how this happened, but Cora and Annie were both thinking, Success.


They had some snacks in the car, and everyone perked up for the next stop, the Giant’s House. This is a garden on the side of a hill, full of mosaic art. Annie was very excited to see it.

She was handed a rainbow umbrella as she entered.

She wandered around the garden, touching things, admiring the art. She was stunned by the beauty of it all. As she looked around, she could only describe the sculptures and mosaics as “magnificent”.

After their expedition to the Giant’s House it was time for lunch and nap. The family was cold and wet and they cuddled up in their warmest clothes when they got back to their little house. When Annie woke up from her nap, it was raining even harder, and – to her great surprise – Mommy and Daddy had bought “Frozen” while Annie was sleeping. The family watched it together on Daddy’s computer. Annie could not believe her good luck. She sang along to all the songs. This was her favorite part of the trip so far.

And then the family went out to eat at a restaurant. It was a cozy restaurant by the water, with a roaring fire. Mommy and Daddy got some yucky food, but Annie ordered something called a Kid’s Box: for Busy Kids on the Go. While Mommy and Daddy’s food came on plates (boring), Annie’s food came in a small white box.

As soon as she saw the box, she knew it would contain something wonderful.

Inside, there was a toasted ham and cheese sandwich; there was a tiny box of raisins; there was a bag of something delicious called Burger Rings that Mommy refused to eat; there was a juice box; and there was a lollipop. Annie was in heaven. Daddy took the ham out of the sandwich but she still chose not to eat it – the prepackaged food was just too wonderful. She made her way through all the raisins, and finished the bag of Burger Rings; she sucked the juice box dry. And then she ate the lollipop and relished it. The Kid’s Box was, by far, the highlight of the trip. It was probably lucky that the family left early the next morning (in the rain) because nothing could have compared to the wonder of that Box.

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