New Zealand Holiday 2015

Arriving in New Zealand always feels so nice after a long flight. The air is so clean and the people are so friendly. So despite being exhausted, we were also all quite buzzed about being back and getting to see all our family, and especially, the cousins.

IMG_1492The day after we arrived, we left the boys with Grandma and flew to Wellington, where I would be receiving my New Zealand Citizenship.

IMG_1509It was great being back in Wellington and getting to walk the streets and reminisce. We even stopped in for a beer and fries at our favorite old Belgium Bar, Leuven.

IMG_1506That evening at Te Papa, I officially became a citizen.

Citizenship Ceremony at Te Papa with Deputy Mayor Justin LesterAnd after we celebrated with burritos and margaritas with Pearl, Nick, Faith and Axel.

IMG_1537The next day we were back at the airport lounge toasting a successful trip but also excited and anxious to see the boys again. IMG_1528Grandma gave us a glowing report when we returned. Toby has no problem taking cows milk before going to sleep and Jude was apparently very helpful.

IMG_1673The next few days we spent relaxing and enjoying all the things we missed about New Zealand.


IMG_1610We popped in for a visit at Luke’s Oma’s house and Toby and Jude had an awesome time playing with their second cousin, Travis.

IMG_1550We also hung out at Abby and Brad’s one sunny afternoon and lucky Jude got to ride a 4-wheeler and help herd the cows for milking.

IMG_1649On the weekend, we visited Grandma and Dean’s house on the coast. They have several cows grazing and the boys went nutty trying to pet them.

IMG_1627They also loved picking the delicious strawberries from her organic veggie garden and helping to water the plants.

IMG_1630At the time, there was a lot of tough days for us with the boys being sick. Toby was so clingy and difficult when he had his cough. It was really exhausting for me.

IMG_1679And on Christmas Day we had such a tough morning at the ER with Jude that it took us awhile to get into the Christmas spirit. But once we were at Abby and Brads, with everyone, it didn’t take long.

IMG_1717Here are the gorgeous hosts and the incredible table Abby made all by herself!

IMG_1719Lovely ladies.

IMG_1701Happy Auntie.

IMG_1727Another happy Auntie.


We had so much fun and a lot of laughs (especially during the water fight).

IMG_1763It was so cool to have all the cousins together in one room, and then on one couch. It’s going to be awesome to see them as they grow over the years. Little Harriet and Eli, the youngest, will surely be walking and talking next time we see them. So hard to imagine.

IMG_1784On Boxing Day, the family got together again for a belated celebration of Faith’s 21st Birthday. Jude and I stayed behind at Grandma’s house as he needed to rest up before our trip to the South Island. I was sad to have missed it as it looked like a great day at the beach.






And the next day we flew down to Christchurch, rented a car, and after a 2 hour drive arrived in Hanmer Springs.

IMG_1799We rented a house with our dear friends. The last time we were all together was 3 years ago in Singapore.

IMG_1808Excitingly, these two lovely ladies are both pregnant so we had a lot to chat about.

IMG_1831Hanmer Springs is a great little holiday destination. It has a cute little town, gorgeous moutain views, and hot spring…there’s not much else.  So we didn’t do much besides eat, swim and sleep.

IMG_1856The exception to this being a trip to a small animal park that we caught word of.

IMG_1858It was awesome and turned out to be a big highlight for us.



IMG_1857It was such a nice, relaxing time and thankfully Jude was able to recover from his croup while we were there.

IMG_1865It was certainly sad to say goodbye to our friends as we don’t know when the next time we will all be together will be.



IMG_1839After Hanmer, we flew back up to Auckland and spent a night in the airport hotel before flying back. (Well, before Jude, Toby and I flew back. Luke had to take a different flight because of a last minute issue he had to deal with.)

IMG_1855Our dear New Zealand family and friends, we miss you so! Thank you for all the great memories! And for those we didn’t get to see on this trip, hopefully next time!

Toby: 15 Months Old

I didn’t think it was possible for Toby to become even more of a character but he has. December was filled with ups and downs for Toby but mostly big ups as he keeps rolling out his larger than life personality.

IMG_1404The first order of business this month was Toby’s first haircut.

IMG_1438He was a champ throughout the whole thing and we were all so pleased with the result. Of course I made sure to save his little locks.


Another thing we did early in the month was introduce him to his new bestie, Samson, the baby doll. Jude sleeps with his baby doll, Nelson, and its been a great thing for sleeping in different beds or enacting some kind of role play (such as at the Doctor). We were hoping Toby would latch onto Samson so he would have something to comfort him (especially during our trip to NZ) and he did. Right away he started hugging him in his crib at night!

IMG_1478We also started giving Toby a sippy cup of milk before bed, like Jude. I knew we wouldn’t wean him until after NZ but there were a few nights I would be away from him so wanted him to get used to a substitute.

IMG_1453Speaking of these two – they continue to go from fighting to playing so nicely. They can be thick as thieves especially when it comes time to tormenting Mom!

IMG_1465Toby loves being around other kids  – right in the action. He is always asking to go outside my bringing us his shoes and saying ‘shoes’ over and over and until we put them on and then he will drag us around by our hands to the door.

IMG_1481Toby loved all the nature in New Zealand – running through the grass chasing birds, watching cows graze, or a family of quails scurry across Grandma’s driveway.

IMG_1558Last time we were in New Zealand, Toby was inside my belly so it was great to have him have his first official trip here. IMG_1535I was so looking forward to this trip as the boys are at such great ages.

IMG_1603But then Toby got sick. He got bronchiolitis.

IMG_1624I felt terrible for him – all the coughing and crying. Waking up all hours of the night and breastfeeding non-stop. He was so incredible clingy and whiny for about four days. It was exhausting.

IMG_1670Thankfully he recovered in time for Christmas (just before Jude got sick).

IMG_1694He had an awesome Christmas. He loved getting to play with his cousin, Cohen.

IMG_1706It was so great to see him healthy and happy again.

IMG_1738All of Luke’s family got a good idea of Toby’s personality. He can be so sweet one minute and then turn into this super stubborn, angry little man. He is also a little more cautious about who he lets into his inner circle. Whereas Jude just loves everyone. IMG_5538.jpg

In December we heard a raft of new words: door, book, bird, hand, done, no, down, wee!, and wow! featured a lot.

IMG_1791We did a lot of driving in cars in NZ and we had some good trips with Toby and some bad ones. He’s never been fond of the carseat so it took a lot of distraction and snacks to keep him happy. But there were some beautiful moments like the ones below where the screaming ceased and we had some quiet.

IMG_1638Toby also had a great time down in the South Island. He loved all the attention from our friends as well as getting to swim in the hot pools.

IMG_1804As Toby gets older everything is getting a lot easier. I don’t really miss the days when he was an itsy bitsy baby as he was so difficult. Now he makes us laugh, he can show or tell us what he wants and he still loves to cuddle. The first resolution of 2016 for us will be to wean him. I think we are both ready (me more than him) but it’s time!


Jude: 32 Months Old

Jude has been flashing across my Facebook feed. It’s always a little odd seeing your kid on an advertisement and this one company Jude and I did a shoot often features pictures of us. We are also on their website.

IMG_1348Poor Jude had a rough month. He had bronchiolitis at the start of the month.

IMG_1363I have never seen him so sick. He was battling a fever and bad cough and just so, so out of it.

IMG_1373After a week of flighting him to take him medicine, he finally recovered and was back to his usual energy levels.

IMG_1400We were glad to see him recover as December was a big month for us.

IMG_1422We had a 3- week trip to New Zealand where we would be spending Christmas. (I’ll do a separate post covering the trip).

IMG_1472Jude is just kind of getting the whole idea of Christmas. He’s read books about Santa and the whole reindeer business but he is not yet at the age to know to ask for presents. We asked him and he said he wanted, ‘a submarine.’

IMG_1416It was sad saying goodbye to Kate. We see her pretty much everyday so it would be a big change for them both.

IMG_1486Once in New Zealand, we made our way to the beach as soon as we could. Jude is crazy about the beach and could easily pass hours away playing games, building in the sand and chasing waves.

IMG_1609He also has a blast and a half at Grandma Elizabeth’s house playing.

IMG_1570We left the boys for a night with Grandma and she helped Jude make a life-size poster of himself

IMG_1623As well as this awesome Christmas tree.

IMG_1622Thankfully Jude adjusted into his usual routine pretty quickly.

IMG_1540He was pretty well behaved most of the time, too. One of our biggest challenges with Jude at the moment is getting him to sit down and eat meals.


IMG_1583Then, a few days before Christmas, Jude started coughing and had a fever.

IMG_1789On Christmas morning we took him to the ER as we suspected it was croup and sure enough he was diagnosed with coup and given  steroids to help ease the coughing.  Poor thing.

IMG_1788We had a great big Christmas planned with all the family which we debated going to as Jude was contagious. In the end we went and just kept him inside. He certainly enjoyed opening his presents and playing a bit, but he was far from the usual, energetic Jude we all know.

IMG_1685His Aunties and Uncles were having a big water balloon fight outside and Jude heard and couldn’t resist getting in on the action. It was nice to see him perk up and take command of the hose.

IMG_1759After Christmas, we stayed at Grandma’s one more day and rested before traveling to the South Island. Jude was still having fevers, coughing and not eating. The not eating is the worst. He was weighed at the hospital as 14.8kg (and 96cm tall) and he felt like he lost a kg after a few days of not eating. We almost canned our trip South but it actually turned out to be just fine.

IMG_1790He got a lot of rest down south and within a few days was back to normal.

IMG_1862Poor Jude. I sure hope 2016 is a healthier year for you.