Jude: 49 Months Old

Jude is loving being 4. In fact, he tells almost everyone he meets! He has to have 4 shots this month to come up to speed with the NZ vaccination schedule and it was a piece of cake. So much easier with a 4 year old.

IMG_5628Earlier in May we spent time a beach with Aunt Abby, Uncle Brad, and Cousin Harriet. Jude loved being at the beach but not as much as he loved being with Harriet! Here she is helping turn Jude into a beached mermaid.IMG_5648Jude loves to run and NZ is never short of wide, open spaces for him to just run. IMG_5597He has been working really hard on figuring out relationships. He wants to know all about Luke and I being married, who our parents and siblings are and how we all relate to one another. IMG_5713Jude is always so keen to make friends. He often talks about how much he misses his cousins and so it has been great to get to catch up with old friends with kids of a similar age.

IMG_5920It’s been awesome for Jude to have a new city to explore. Wellington is a fabulous city for kids. There is so much to do. IMG_6120Jude very bravely rode on a flying fox for the first time ever. IMG_6115The playgrounds here are so fun- much more challenging than the ones in Taipei.IMG_5831We’ve been taking the city bus to get around places and Jude just loves it. He will look out the window the whole time without saying a peep.

IMG_6458We spend a lot of time at Te Papa museum. Jude is crazy about the Giant Squid and loves watching the video about how the fishermen caught the squid and how the scientists examined it. There is a great cafe in the museum where we often meet up with friends or just hang out and build with the blocks there.IMG_6486Both boys love coming back in from the cold and having hot chocolates with marshmallows.IMG_6527We borrowed a bike and scooter from our friends for the boys to use. It was Jude’s first time on training wheels and he got it straight away. IMG_5700Jude had his face painted for the first time ever a few weeks back.IMG_6417Another favourite thing of Jude’s is looking at the fish at the supermarket. He’s been eating a lot of fish here so we talk a lot about how the fish ends up on his plate.IMG_5820Every day we take a ‘secret path’ down to the waterfront to feed the ducks and seagulls. Jude just loves when they walk over his feet to try to get a piece.

IMG_6478Both boys had a ball at the trampoline park. They give you green socks with grips on the bottom to wear and Jude wears them even when we don’t go. He calls them his frog socks.IMG_5842Just like in Taiwan the boys love hiding when Dad comes home and then surprising him. It so cute to watch them scramble when we hear the door open.

IMG_5853We get asked all the time if the boys are twins. I thought that maybe this would change when we left Taiwan.

IMG_6619Just like in Taiwan the boys love hiding when Dad comes home and then surprising him. It so cute to watch them scramble when we hear the door open. IMG_5853It’s been a super fun month for Jude in Wellington!IMG_6097

 

 

Toby: 31 Months Old

This little cheeky monkey stopped napping way back in March. IMG_8670It just became too much work to get him to nap. In a way, it has been nice having the extra hours to go out with the boys and get things done. We could go out to lunch, have playdates at anytime and no longer had to worry about trying to fit a nap in.

IMG_4349However, it was a bit challenging during the weeks before the move as I had two busy toddlers to entertain at the same time as organising and packing. Jude is pretty good at entertaining himself and being helpful but Toby is still a bit young and would often just try to shift my attention to playing with him when I was busy.

IMG_4526The move hasn’t been as rough on Toby as I thought it would be. He had absolutely zero clue that we were moving despite asking me a million questions about what I was doing everyday and me telling him that we were moving. He was really pretty great about watching our stuff get boxed up and taken from our apartment, moving to the hotel, transiting through the airport, and finally arriving in Wellington. He has a very stubborn side which comes out when he doesn’t want to do something and thankfully we didn’t have any major moments of defiance/meltdowns.

The first day in Wellington he was so funny. He fell asleep at the dining table while waiting for his dinner.IMG_4597We’ve moved around quite a bit since we’ve been in New Zealand, especially at the start of our trip. Both boys have been so awesome at sleeping in different, unfamiliar places. I brought their bedding which I know helps with Toby as he loves his sunshine pillow so much.

IMG_5111Toby hasn’t asked about Taiwan at all since we left. Jude will often say how much he misses home, his friends and teachers in Taiwan. Not a peep from Toby.

IMG_4706Toby hasn’t been as shy as I expected around all the family we’ve been around. He’s been pretty  good with everyone, especially his Aunties. Here he is with Aunt Minnie at the beach. IMG_5272Most people who meet Toby comment on how hilariously comical he is with his facial expressions and mannerisms. He has this overly exaggerated and expressive way about him but is loaded with sweetness. IMG_5629Toby does like to set the record straight. If him and Jude have a game going and someone else swoops in and grabs a toy he will confront them by waving a finger ‘no, no, no, that’s not your toy. Give it back’. If he doesn’t get a response then he will go to grab it. Our wee sweet friend, Charlotte, got to experience this firsthand a few times. IMG_4630A highlight of the trip for both boys was getting to ride on Uncle Brad and Aunt Abby’s farm bikes. We thought Toby wouldn’t go for it but he loved it. IMG_5478We did a lot of driving up North and sometimes Toby would pass out. On occasion we would turn around and both boys would be asleep. It was wonderful!

IMG_5442Toby has grown up so much since his last trip to NZ. It’s been great to see him more independent of us and enjoying life as the awesome 2.5 year old that he is!

IMG_5638Big kisses to our Toby xx

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Jude: 4 Years Old

On April 28th Jude turned 4 years old.

IMG_5063At 4 Jude is an outgoing little chatterbox.

IMG_5119He loves make-believe, telling stories, and helping us out.

IMG_4225Jude is a total go-getter. He walks around on the tips of his toes looking for what’s next.

IMG_4273His curious and very persistent. Jude doesn’t stop until he gets an answer. (He does a great Pout, Pout Fish face).

IMG_8687Jude spends most of his day in a high gear and the only time he switches to low gear is when he is watching a show or is sick.

IMG_5205Poor Jude got really sick several days before we left Taiwan.

IMG_4470Thankfully it came after our last few playdates with friends. Here’s a photo of Jude and I teaching our friends the ‘Banana Song’ before he got sick.

IMG_4230And by the time we touched down in Wellington he was back to normal.

IMG_4648We stopped at a Farm show in Rotorua and when they asked for kid volunteers, Jude jumped right up and had no worries about being on stage in front of hundreds of strangers.

IMG_5155This year has been a great one for Jude and Toby’s relationship. Jude directs their imaginary play and Toby gets right into it.

IMG_5143Their personalities are pretty much exactly opposite but the bond they feel as brothers is so strong.

IMG_8640We were in Thames for Jude’s Birthday which meant we got to celebrate with family and friends. A day before the 28th we visited some old friends we knew in Taipei who have a son born one week after Jude. So we had cake with them to celebrate.

IMG_5494And then on Jude’s actual birthday after opening his present from us (mini transformers) we went over to Granddad and Val’s house for more cake.

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IMG_5541Then back in Thames that night for cupcakes.

And finally on Saturday we went over to Aunt Abby and Uncle Brad’s for a big party with the Aunties, Uncles, cousins, and Grandmama.

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IMG_5578Four years has flown by and we continue to feel so blessed to have this kid in our lives. Happy Birthday Sweet Pea!

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Goodbye Taiwan

On 11 April we said farewell to Taiwan. It’s now been over a month since we left and I try not to give myself too much time to think about it otherwise I get quite sad. We spent 5 years in Taiwan, that’s half of the time Luke and I have been together. We accomplished so much during our time there- learning Chinese, starting a family as well as making some of the best friendships we’ve ever had. Looking back we both agree we would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Taiwan and the Taiwanese people have been so wonderful to us. It will always feel like home to us.

The month leading up to our departure was full-on. Moving countries is a huge deal – there’s a lot of coordination involved, paperwork and then packing. Thankfully Luke’s office helped us with most of the administration. Here’s a glimpse at what our last month was like.

The boys had their last day of school and said goodbye to their teachers.

The boys and I did a lot of our favourite things one last time like eating shaved ice (sadly mangos were not yet in season).IMG_4275

One last MRT ride.

Last haircuts at the best place to have kids haircut. IMG_4340We had a fun (but sad) last play with friends.IMG_4316We said goodbye to our car.IMG_4352Had one last lunch with Luke’s wonderful office staff.IMG_8678

Attended two of Luke’s farewells. (Toby decided to make quite a statement at the one with Luke’s business contacts by wearing pink sunglasses and talking on a princess cellphone the whole time).

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IMG_8680IMG_4431We had our dear friends over for dinner and reminisced on all the fun we’ve had. IMG_8585

IMG_4538We had one heck of a farewell party with our friends.

IMG_4523And said a teary goodbye to our dear friend and babysitter.IMG_3981Two days later the movers came and we watched as our lives got packed up and ready to be sent to America.IMG_4549And then it was over. We said ‘bye bye’ to our building staff and walked out of the place we’ve called home one last time. IMG_4552We stayed in a hotel the night before flying out. IMG_4544We ate Din Tai Fung one last time.IMG_4554And then just like that we were on our way. IMG_4567We transited through Hong Kong on our way to New Zealand.IMG_4572Miraculously both boys slept soundly on the HK-AKL leg.

Before long we were back in Wellington where we started this 5 year adventure.

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Without a doubt this was the hardest goodbye we’ve ever had to say. Taiwan, 謝謝。

Toby: 30 Months Old

Toby changed a lot this month. IMG_3745His vocabulary is growing and he is speaking so clearly. Previously he used to stutter a bit as he tried to get a sentence out but now he just spits it out. This has especially helped when he wants something. No hesitation now, he just demands. I’ve also noticed that he is more confident when it comes to playing with Jude. He stands up for himself if thinks Jude is being unfair. They played so well together this month – they really are best buddies and hate being separated.

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IMG_4005This particular trip to Sun Yat-Sen Memorial was a funny one. The boys saw these little dogs running around and wanted to go pet them. One dog was quite hyper and kept jumping up on the boys and then when they would run away the dog would chase them. Toby screamed louder than I have heard before. The crazy thing was that he kept coming back for more. IMG_4010Toby said goodbye to his teachers and friends from school this month. Lucky we got this great photo as a keepsake. I will always remember the struggle we had to get Toby dressed on picture day. He was not in the mood and especially not keen to wear what we wanted him too. We managed to  reach a compromise with the outfit below.

IMG_3748Toby was also not keen on school sports day. No way was he going to march around a track singing some lame song about school spirit.IMG_3843So instead we sat on the sidelines eating snacks. IMG_3854I had Toby’s parent-teacher conference and his teacher confirmed that even at school he doesn’t like to follow the herd. Toby does what Toby wants.

But when he does he’s all in. I love to see this kid dance.IMG_4111Ms Kitty said she is really going to miss Toby’s quirky ways and the outrageous looks he gives her.IMG_4130Toby and Jude got some special 1-on-1 time with Dad this month. Luke took them to this super cool Lego exhibition. IMG_8640

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IMG_8650We also went to this  indoor play room with a huge ball bit. Toby went loopy for it. He loves ball pits.IMG_4023Toby, you are such a personality. We can’t get over the funny things you come up with.

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IMG_4093Toby, we love you just the way you are.

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Jude: 47 Months Old

Jude had a fantastic month. IMG_3912It was his last month at school and he made a lot of great memories.IMG_3914He had school picture day which he was all about (Toby not so much).

IMG_3726His class photos turned out great.

IMG_3749Such a cute group of kids.

IMG_3750We had parent-teacher conferences this month and Jude’s teacher talked about all the new skills Jude has been working hard on.

Here’s some of his work from the month.

IMG_3909The boys had school sports day this month and Jude’s class did this great choreographed dance.IMG_3850Jude did a few of the activities with Dad.IMG_3873These two are a couple of clowns together.IMG_4107They come up with some pretty hilarious role play games together. Like below, where Jude is blow drying his pet dog.

IMG_3885Taipei summer is fast approaching so the boys and I did a lot of bike riding around town in the afternoons.

IMG_3950I took the boys to Florida Bakery and let them pick out one of these fancy cookies each. IMG_3952I was totally not expecting them to both pick out a bling ring.IMG_3953It depends on his mood but Jude is sometimes really into helping guide Toby in the right direction. If Toby isn’t doing what I have asked them to do; Jude will back me up. Other times they both gang up on me and neither one will listen to me.IMG_3543Here Jude was telling Toby not to touch the robot even though they could.

IMG_3540It’s been great to watch Jude grow into such a loving big brother.IMG_3784IMG_3537Jude is getting super good at his chores (again, only if he is in the mood). IMG_4114I introduced him to the cruel chore of cleaning the toilet this month and he loved it!IMG_4293A happy last month in Taipei for big boy Jude!

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Toby: 29 Months Old

Toby is fast catching up to Jude. He’s already the exact same weight (17kg/37.5lbs) and only a little bit shorter measuring 92cm/36inches.

IMG_2733Toby had an okay month. He doesn’t deal very well with life moving fast and so Grandma and Grandpa coming and then leaving as well as our trip to Cebu was all a bit overwhelming for him at times.

IMG_2694He had his moments where he was totally into Grandma and Grandpa but then other moments where he wanted nothing to do with them.

IMG_2753He loved giving them a hard time especially when it came to picking him up out of his crib. They weren’t offended though as this is one of Toby’s signature plays. If I go to pick Toby out of bed; he refuses and cries for Luke and vice versa.

IMG_3247Toby was pretty good on holiday.

IMG_2882It sometimes took a bit of effort to get him to get into things.

IMG_2986But once he was in the water or doing whatever activity, he wouldn’t want to get out or stop.

IMG_3082But man this kid has such a strong will. When he doesn’t want to do something there is no bribe that can tempt him.

IMG_2957I especially love these photos from one of his field trips this month. The photos capture Toby so well. This is Toby not in the mood.

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IMG_3314Toby is really into Batman at the moment. He loves parading around in this mask talking in a low, authoritative voice. He also loves the Lego Batman movie soundtrack, especially the heavy metal tracks.

IMG_3472Toby has started calling Jude ‘Judah’. This is what everyone at school calls Jude as in Chinese, using Pinyin, the ‘de’ is pronounced ‘dah’.

IMG_3259Toby always wants Jude with him. He doesn’t want to go anywhere without him.

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IMG_3457    The boys are so good at adding little rituals to our day. At night time they love things in a certain order: tucked in, story, kiss and hug, and then a song. Luke made up this cute little jingle for them that Toby just loves.

(To the tune of ‘Rock a Bye Baby’) Rock a bye baby, your cradle is green, Daddy’s a Nobleman, Mommy’s a Queen, Jude is a Captain who sails his own ship, and Toby’s a drummer who drums for the King.IMG_2695Toby, you are one tough (but very sweet) cookie. IMG_3430

Jude: 46 Months Old

Jude got measured and weighed at school recently. He is 101 cm (39.8 in) tall and weighs 17kgs (37.5lbs).

IMG_3244I love seeing Jude’s photos from school as he always has a smile ready for the camera.

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IMG_2778This was an extra special month for Jude thanks to having Grandma and Grandpa around. He didn’t let Grandpa out of his sight. Grandpa had to put him to bed and wake him up in the morning. He wouldn’t let anyone else.

IMG_8415Jude loved being on holiday. He was really well behaved for the most part. There were certainly meltdowns along the way – most of which occurred when Jude was overtired but wanted to keep playing when it was time to head back to the room.

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IMG_3144On the way over to Cebu as we had to wait in a long  immigration line and Jude and Toby were antsy so I gave Jude my phone to look through our photos and instead he started taking photos of other people in line. Most people were good sports about it like this lady who we now have 1/2 a dozen photos of!

IMG_2816Toby was not so keen on having his photo taken.

IMG_2830Jude is really into posing like a superhero or ninja. This is one of his signature moves:

IMG_8377I love when he starts these elaborate role-play games with Toby and they get so into it they forget I am there.

IMG_3428IMG_3427I love taking the boys out to play but the playground closest to us is quite close to a busy road and so I get really nervous as there are two sections and you can’t see the one section from the other. So if Toby is on the playground and Jude is on the other side, I wouldn’t be able to see him. It really sucks as its so close but I have decided not to take them there anymore as Jude naturally just wants to run when we go to the park and I am constantly having to yell at him to get back to wherever Toby and I are as I’m worried. It just means we have to travel a little further for a safer space to play in.

IMG_3432Our lovely friends (Sia and Sivi) gifted their old All Blacks jerseys to the boys. We love them and will certainly put them to good use.

336DD53C-C890-4E11-B8F1-BBA38276E45FWe had a few days off school during the month for a national holiday and so invited them  over to bake a cake and make pizza. They are obsessed with Moana too so we all sang the album together.

IMG_3379We have a mere 25 days left in Taiwan so I took the boys for our final Costco trip. They were so well behaved, even in the toy aisle, it was really great.

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IMG_3440The boys are always hungry. Jude especially asks me for something to eat what seems like every 5 minutes. He will scarf down a big meal and then want more and more and more. It’s incredible that this time last year we were struggling to get him to eat well. He is very adventurous too, he is open to trying pretty much anything. The exception so far being lentils.

IMG_3363Silly, sweet boy. It was a really fun month with you.

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Grandparents Last Visit to Taiwan

In February, my parents made one last trip over to Taiwan before we leave for good. They arrived on a Friday and so at midday came with me to pick-up the boys. It was quite the surprise!

IMG_2719For our first lunch we had potstickers and dumplings.

IMG_2725The boys went crazy when they saw the PJ Mask figurines Grandma and Grandpa got for them. Big hit!

IMG_2731I had a haircut planned that day so I said goodbye to the boys and left Mom and Dad to it. They were troopers to watch the boys considering how exhausted they must have been. They even put the boys to bed that night as Luke and I had a dinner with friends.IMG_2736On Saturday we drove out to Juming Museum and wandered around the sculptures.

IMG_2750It’s such a cool museum with lots of great activities for kids.

IMG_2741And Saturday night we headed to Chilis for dinner and margaritas.

IMG_2758Sunday we took Mom and Dad to a fancy hotel in Dazhi for an Australia/New Zealand Day lunch celebration. It was a great opportunity to introduce them to a lot of our friends in Taipei. The food was great and we all got lucky and won several raffle prizes.

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IMG_2771On Monday, with the boys back in school, we were able to do some longer walks and have nice breakfasts out. IMG_3586

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IMG_2770Getting the boys off to school each morning was a struggle as they wanted to stay home and play with Grandma and Grandpa instead. Thankfully they were always happy after school but then it would be a struggle getting Toby down for nap. So much FOMO going on.

IMG_3587Jude, much more so than Toby, was all about Grandma and Grandpa. He was attached to the hip with them and managed to get a lot of one-on-one time.

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Lucky Jude got to go see the Lego Batman movie with Grandpa one afternoon while Toby napped. They stopped and got donuts after and bizarrely enough there happened to be a news camera crew at Krispie Kreme at the exact same time they were there and so we discovered from his teachers that Jude was on Taiwan’s nightly news picking out his donuts!

IMG_2775One sunny day after school we picked up a bunch of food from 7-11 and had a little picnic with the boys. IMG_3559

IMG_2788On Valentines Day, Mom and I did yoga together and then went out shopping and for dinner.

IMG_2796The big highlight of the trip was travelling to Cebu in the Philippines. We were all hanging out for some sun and warmer temperatures. We had a 7am flight to Cebu so we stayed at the airport hotel the night before. Grandma and Grandpa showed off their ping pong skills to the boys.

IMG_2809Arriving in Cebu felt great. It was raining when we landed but warm and not long after we got there and checked-in we were drinking margaritas overlooking the beautiful beach.

IMG_2868Jude and Toby loved this lady, who they called ‘princess’.

IMG_3560We spend 4 nights in Cebu at the Shangri-la and it was fabulous. Hands-down one of the coolest things about the resort was how kid-friendly it was. The boys had a ball everyday playing on this water playground.

IMG_3570The water slides were for kids-only which we found out right after this photo.

IMG_3566The pool area was so perfect for little kids. We loved the kids pool which was quite big and even had a canopy slung above it to keep the sun out.

IMG_3567IMG_3568IMG_2894Most days, after several hours at the pool, we would grab NZ Natural Ice Cream and chill out in the shade. IMG_2920The beach was also one of the better ones I’ve seen for kids as there were tons of shade umbrellas for guests to use.

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IMG_2925We had breakfast outside every morning at Aqua, in the Ocean Wing. The boys loved getting a donut there every day. IMG_2881IMG_2876Luke and I snuck away one night for date night but ended up at the same restaurant as my parents and the boys!

IMG_2934Here are some more photos from our trip- so many good ones.

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IMG_298416797631_962137583920757_2852992775745479676_o16864818_962137177254131_5778561338621048033_n16797724_962137313920784_3020210667309454172_o16819414_962137197254129_517566816010616293_o16991560_962137390587443_1690929331414274022_o16903235_962137300587452_6845121488744780556_o16712007_962137067254142_8373469653846965597_n16938852_962136910587491_6432979230650620198_n16836547_962137373920778_6861907915406332889_o16903517_962137467254102_9099794308276157654_o16804494_962137597254089_2881796190418588821_oBack in Taipei we had several days before my parents flew back to the States. We had dinner at Commune,the food truck area, one night.

IMG_3577IMG_3579We also took a trip in the Gondola up to Maokong. It was cold and raining so we didn’t stay long. IMG_3580IMG_3581IMG_3582Jude got to go to the movies with Grandpa and Grandma to see Moana again. Burger King, popcorn and ice cream – lucky boy!IMG_3584Of course no trip would be complete with out a meal at Din Tai Fung.IMG_3263And for their last night out we went out without the boys for a more relaxing meal at our favourite places for Shanghai and Szechuan cuisine. IMG_3276On their last day we picked the boys up from school and they played one last time before saying goodbye.

IMG_3565IMG_3564It was a great trip with so many great memories had (even by our little pout-pout fish, Toby!). Our goodbye this time wasn’t as sad as it usually is as we will be together again in no time.  See you guys in May!

 

Toby: 28 Months Old

I love seeing this face and his crazy hair every morning.

img_1912Some mornings he is not as happy to see us as we are him.

img_2465Toby is still so good about going to school. He seems to have a lot of friends as when I drop him off in the morning kids are always shouting out, “Toby, 來了!” (Toby’s here!)

img_1804He is always happiest on the days they bake something in class and on the days they go to the playground.

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img_1799Like Jude, Toby also got to visit the farm and harvest a turnip for the New Year.

img_1937And turn it into a cake.

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img_2102His class made these cute beanbag roosters.

img_2168And painted lucky signs.

img_2103Over the Chinese New Year we did a lot of scooter and bike riding.

img_2352They love riding to 7-11 for ice cream. I love when they eat ice cream too as it’s usually the only 5 minutes of quiet I get all day.

img_1840Toby is a very physical kid, he loves running, jumping and climbing. He has great balance and confidence so I no longer need to shadow the boys on the playground. We have entered a new phase.

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Toby’s skeleton/ghost/monster obsession continues. Every morning I ask him what he dreamt about. His answer almost always is, “bing, bang, wiggle, waggle, shake in the bones” and then sings, “all the skeletons keep marching on“. Funny kid.

img_2208Toby is so serious around other people. He does not suffer fools gladly. If someone if smiling and waving at him saying something like “cute boy”. He will simply lower his gaze and shoot them a scolding glare. He doesn’t run and hide behind us but instead will stand his ground until they back down.

img_2376Toby has big emotions and when he blows its like a volcano exploding. He is very difficult to calm down.

img_2299The boys are back on a Lego kick. This time with the smaller pieces. Aunty Faith bought the boys a couple of cool new sets and they are constantly tinkering. There was a great Lego Batman exhibitions at one of the malls near us and we went quite a few times to play.

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img_2514We also managed a trip to the zoo and gondola over the New Year break. Super cool.img_2399

img_2404Toby was totally relaxed on the gondola whereas Jude was gripping us pretty tight. After they both wanted to ride it again.

img_2415One of the funniest things about Toby is how he is always changing his voice. Sometimes he will speak in a deep, commanding tone and other times light and sweet. He will change his mannerisms too depending on which character he is. He also has this cute little thing where he is always placing his left hand curled up under his armpit. He will do it when he is pleased with himself or when he is saying something authoritative to someone. It’s just so Toby. img_2378Toby loves his friend Jessica but recently he has been blaming all of his injuries on her. None of which she has been involved in. If he falls down and later has a bruise and I ask him what happened he will respond, “Jessica did this to me”. Not sure where this came from!

img_2104Our Toby, what a character!

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