A Week in New Zealand

After our holiday in the States I flew over to New Zealand for our dear friends Brigette and Christoph’s wedding. I spent a week there and in addition to the wedding, I was able to catch up with family and a few friends. I flew into Auckland, and spent my first night catching up with Luke’s family.  The next day I flew down to Queenstown, rented a car and drove to Naseby, where I rang in the New Year with our friends, Aimee and Hamish and their almost 2 year-old daughter, Ava.

IMG_3277After Naseby I headed to Wanaka, hung out and had a yummy pizza dinner with our friends, Simon and Alex.

IMG_4731And finally onto Queenstown, where the wedding was being held. I arrived a few days before the wedding to hang out with Brigette and Christoph and help out with whatever needed to be done. They a picked a beautiful venue called, The Canyons Lodge, for their ceremony and reception. It’s the kind of place though that is weather dependent and the days leading up to the wedding were unseasonably cold and wet. We even woke up to snow on the mountains one morning!

IMG_3304The night before the wedding the soon to be Mr and Mrs held a BBQ at the venue for the family. The rain had stopped but it was pretty chilly.

IMG_3312And on the morning of the wedding it was slightly warmer and overcast but  while we were getting our hair and makeup done the clouds parted ways and opened up to the most beautiful blue skies and sunshine. We were thrilled!

IMG_3327After hair and makeup, we went back to the lodge for the finishing touches.

IMG_3350I helped Brigette put on her exquisite gown and poured her a glass of bubbles to calm her nerves.

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We kept peeking out the window checking out the guests as they arrived.

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The ceremony was simply beautiful – almost everyone was in tears. After mingling with the guests for a bit and family photos, the new Mr. and Mrs. scooted off with their photographer for a photo session atop a mountain. And before we all knew it, the newlyweds were back and we were sitting down to dinner.

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They did such a good job with the decor. There were so many little personal touches everywhere.

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Including this clever photo booth.

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The food was incredible. Everyone was ohhing and mmming over each course.

IMG_3367Especially the desserts!

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Christoph’s Mom and Sister made the wedding cake, a German Tree Cake. It is a new favorite of mine.  I am desperate to Germany so I can taste it again.

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As the night wore on there was drinking, dancing, and more celebrating. I was so honored to be apart of their special day.

IMG_3358After Queenstown I flew back up to Auckland for one more night with Luke’s family before flying back to Taipei. I managed to squeeze in a  stop at the supermarket to bring back some of our NZ faves.

IMG_3431It was a quick but really good trip  – my last solo adventure before the baby comes!

Family Baby Shower

After Christmas my family threw us a little baby shower to celebrate the upcoming arrival of our little guy.

IMG_7753Luke and I knew something was up but were mighty surprised to see the amount of effort that went into the set-up.

IMG_7750My eyes were immedietly drawn to these beauties:

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The food for the shower included stereotypical pregnancy cravings, so Kool-aid and fried chicken were served!

IMG_7757This made my husband a very happy man!

IMG_7758We played several games, including guess the baby food flavor. I struggled my way through it.

IMG_7770Rob, on the other hand, quite enjoyed the challenge and was remarkably good at guessing.

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Jen and Rob put together this great game to test our knowledge about birth and baby care. We played against seasoned veterans in the area (my parents) and surprisingly we won!

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Gifts were also given. We received so many adorable and thoughtful things.

IMG_7779Our little man is going to be well dressed.

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And have lots of furry animal friends.

IMG_7784(We got some other really neat stuff which I failed to capture on film, so will capture once I get the nursery together).

After gifts we took some photos around the tree.

IMG_7818Sadly, I couldn’t get one with both my sisters as Jen had a nasty stomach virus and had to keep a distance from me to ensure I didn’t get it too.

IMG_7820The night was toped off with one last game, a baby obstacle course.

IMG_7823It was me vs. Luke. We had a number of baby-related challenges to complete from changing and swaddling a baby,

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to folding clothes and folding up the stoller.

IMG_7827It was a very close race and I only just won! Phew…

Thanks again to Mom, Dad, Nat, Jen and Rob for putting this together. We had a blast!

Christmas

As I mentioned in my last post our Christmas didn’t go as planned. We had planned on having spending half of Christmas Day with my Grandma at her nursing home and then coming home after and having a nice Christmas dinner. So that morning my Mom went over to the nursing home before lunch to get Grandma ready for our arrival and found her in a bad way. She had had pneumonia for the past week and was progressively getting worse. On Christmas Day she was completely out of it, wasn’t talking, and had a badly swollen lip and legs. So no question about it she had to go to the hospital. So off they went in the ambulance to the hospital and my Dad joined them there.

Meanwhile, the rest of us stayed at home and had the lunch we prepared for Grandmas. We decided to carry on as normal and after lunch got to work on Christmas dinner. We received regular updates from Mom and Dad about Grandma. By the time she was finished being examined and placed into a room it was well into the evening. And it was almost 9pm by the time they finally got home.

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As soon as they got back we cracked a bottle of bubbly, toasted

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And dug into the appetizers Luke and Rob had prepared (Pigs in Blankets).

IMG_3215Yum, yum

IMG_3222And after we sat down to a very late but delicious Christmas dinner.

IMG_7597Then it was time for presents.

IMG_7633Here’s Nat with a Weiqi board from Luke and I.

IMG_7637Jen with a fancy face tool to make her look younger from Mom and Dad.

IMG_7642Rob in a Taipei Elephants Baseball jersey.

IMG_7667Dad with practice chopsticks to help him prepare for their upcoming trip to Taiwan.

IMG_7679Luke and Rob gave eachother the same book.

IMG_7670We got a subscription to the Economist and a bottle of whiskey from Mom and Dad.

IMG_7681We had a great time but of course missed getting to see Grandma. So once she was feeling better, a few days after Christmas, we headed over for a belated Christmas visit. (I had to wear a face mask to protect my pregnant self from getting pnemonia).

IMG_7707Grandma loved her gifts, which included a lot of tasty treats and a cool photo calendar from Nat.

IMG_7739She wasn’t really supposed to be eating anything other than what the hospital gave her but we decided to live dangerously.

IMG_7728It was nice to spend time with her even if it wasn’t as we had planned.

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Before Christmas

Sometimes no matter how much you plan life doesn’t always follow that plan. Our trip to the USA was a great example of this.

I was due to fly out a week before Luke and meet my parents in Arizona for a short getaway but ended up having to miss it and re-schedule my flight due to something coming up here in Taipei. Once I finally made it, and Luke had joined me, we planned to spend a few nights in Chicago but snowstorms across the North East led to a number of flight disruptions and our flight was cancelled not once, but TWICE (even after we switched airlines and purchased a new ticket with an airline who hadn’t made any other cancellations). We spent 12 hours at the Cleveland Airport trying to get to Chicago. Had we known, renting a car and driving would have been the better option. The last thing to throw our plans up in the air happened on Christmas Day when my Grandma had to be rushed into the hospital. She had caught pneumonia before I arrived and on Christmas Day my Mom found her in a not so good state so had to bring her in. This meant that my parents spent all day at the hospital curtailing our original plans of visiting Grandma and then coming home in the afternoon for Christmas dinner and presents. Well, we still had dinner and presents but it all happened much later after my parents had returned from the hospital around 9pm. So it wasn’t the holiday we had planned for but we still had a great time just being together.

So I’ll recap my trip in three posts- Before Christmas, Christmas, and Baby Shower. And after I have finished those, I will do one on New Zealand (where I was for a week after the States).

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The week before Christmas was busy.

It was filled with visits with Grandma.

IMG_7519Playing patty cake with Grandma.

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A Cavs game.

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They lost but we still had a great time.

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IMG_7541A trip to the Farmparks to see a Christmas Light display and check out farm animals.

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The light display was so-so but this global warming snowman was pretty clever.

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Luke and I went to a sports park where he tried out baseball for the first time (and did awesome!).

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We also braved the cold and went snowshoeing a few times.IMG_7583

IMG_7591We balanced out all this activity with some eating, including:

Pie at Bakers Square:

IMG_3171And Arby’s Roast Beef sandwiches

IMG_3204Natalie and I also managed to find time to bake up an assortment of Christmas cookies:

IMG_3208And of course, we did a lot of Christmas shopping. And apart from the whole day we spent at Cleveland Hopkins Airport it was a great week.

Happy Birthday Dad!

After a month of traveling I am finally back in Taipei. I have a lot to catch up on and plan to do so over the coming week.

In the meantime it’s a very special day as it’s my Dad’s birthday. So I’ll keep it short as I just wanted to chime in and say Happy Birthday Dad! We hope you have a great day celebrating!

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(Dad, Mom, and I at Christmas)

 

Love,

 

Mel and Luke