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.


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



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.


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.


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.



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!


Aunty Faith in Taipei

Look who came to Taiwan last month.img_0189Aunty Faith travelled all the way from NZ and stayed with us for almost two weeks. The boys hadn’t seen her since last Christmas but they that din’t matter, and they were both instantly all over her. She brought so many awesome presents for the boys. They were always asking if she had any more.img_0211Faith was a trooper. Right off her long flight and ready for action. We started with danbing at our local breakfast shop.

img_0192Then toured our local wet market (and dodged scooters).img_0195Feeling like a treat we got $6 manicures

img_0199And finally went to check out the coolest building in Taipei.

img_0200Everyday was a new exploration. One beautiful morning we went out to CKS Memorial. img_0224On the weekend we hung out at Huashan Creative Park.img_0341And Longshan Temple.img_0318


img_0358Faith and I escaped for a very relaxing 2.5 hour Thai spa treatment. Ahhh….img_0367We also did some nightmarketeering. img_0242The boys were so fascinated watching Aunty Faith apply her make up. img_0307On Faith’s last night in town Luke had a work function so we went out for girls night. Dinner at Dozo.img_0464And the most amazing cocktails ever at Fourplay.img_0468Here’s Faith’s cocktail in a conch shell complete with dry ice!

img_0473Luke joined us after his function for a nightcap.img_0478We were all sad to say goodbye to Aunty Faith. A month later and the boys are still asking when they will see her again. Thank you Faith for everything, we had such a fun time with you. xxximg_0496


Ohio Trip 2016

Summertime in Ohio is pretty awesome. This year the boys and I flew 15 hours there and back to get to spend about a month in Ohio with my family. We flew Taipei to Toronto, where we met my parents, and then drove 5ish hours to Cleveland. On the way there, the flight was easier than the drive. On the way back, the opposite was true -they gave me a very hard time on the flight back. Thankfully, we are back and well recovered from our jet-lag. Luke wasn’t able to come with us this time so we really missed him but the time really flew by.

We sure had a great month hanging out with everyone, celebrating Natalie’s 30th Birthday and Robby’s 2nd. My parents hosted a big, crazy family reunion and I got to see my lovely cousin, Jessica, and meet her husband and darling baby. We caught up with old friends, visited all the local playgrounds, ate a lot of ice cream, and went to the best ever Paw Patrol party (Robby’s Bday) complete with swimming after. Aunt Natalie was a huge help – babysitting the boys so I could go for a run or out for dinner with my parents. I also completed the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Half Marathon which was a blast.  On the way back through to Toronto we stopped at Niagara Falls with the boys and then said a very sad goodbye to Grandma and Grandpa. Here’s a big photo dump of our trip. Enjoy!







































































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!

Bampa and Grandma back in Taipei

Grandma and Bampa did it again! They flew thousands of miles to come and visit us once again on our tiny island. They arrived at night and so we let Jude stay up past his bedtime to see them. He was beyond thrilled to see them and the gifts they brought for him.

IMG_0563That first night, Jude insisted Bampa put him to sleep.

IMG_0568In the morning Toby was pretty excited to have new friends to play with. He warmed up to them right away and was totally attached the rest of the time.

IMG_0572Their first day we went for a walk around town.

IMG_0595And to Din Tai Fung for the most delicious lunch ever.

IMG_0606Bampa promised Jude ice cream after.

IMG_0609On Saturday night we left the kids home with our babysitter and took them to A Cai, so they could sample real homestyle Taiwanese food in a very lively atmosphere.


And on Sunday we packed a few bags, said goodbye to Dad, and got on a train to Hualien. From there we headed to Taroko Gorge, where we spent the night at the Silks Place.

IMG_0664We were all happy to arrive at our hotel room after the long journey.

IMG_0684Later we found some energy to check out the rooftop pools famous for the fabulous views.


IMG_1380And after a quick play in the basement playroom we headed to happy hour.


Sharing one room with the boys meant we had to be pretty quiet while they fell asleep. We actually all ended up falling asleep when they did – around 7:30pm! So we were up in the morning and ready to go. First, breakfast.

IMG_0696And then, to the indoor pool for one last swim.

IMG_1383Before we know it it was time to leave. Wee Toby fell asleep in Grandma’s arms in the van back to the train station. Precious!

IMG_0717Back in Taipei we got into our normal, everyday routine again. Going to the wet market,


IMG_0736And lots of walks around.


IMG_0628We spent one morning at Leo’s for a change of scenery.

IMG_0755And lots of time at home chilling out.

IMG_0989We also managed one more adult night out at our favorite Japanese spot.


Then on Thursday we packed our bags again and took the High Speed Rail down to Kenting to head to the beach.





IMG_0825We spent 4 days down there and the boys were really pooped at the end of each one.


IMG_0828It was nice to escape the city for a bit and get to play in the sand and surf.

IMG_0826Their final few days we were also busy. We went to IKEA for hotdogs and a new chair for Toby.

IMG_0859We celebrated an Early Thanksgiving.

IMG_0849Baked cookies with Grandma.

IMG_0874And took Grandma to Toby’s modeling gig.

IMG_0923As always, time went by all too fast. We miss this scene so much. It was so sad waking up the days after they left and the boys realizing that they really weren’t there.

IMG_0841We miss you Grandma and Bampa and can’t wait to see you again.



A Week with Grandma in Taipei

Our flight back to Taipei was long. We flew from Ohio to Houston and then were delayed in Houston for almost 3 hours (stuck in the plane on the tarmac due to a passenger being not fit to fly and then a storm coming through). It was awful and we were all happy to finally make it to LA and into the Star Alliance Lounge.

IMG_7493My Mom was a huge help. I still can’t believe I ever contemplated flying by myself with the boys – it would not have been possible.

IMG_7483The LAX Star Alliance lounge is amazing. They have an awesome outdoor area which was great for antsy kids.

IMG_7487Mom and I were able to enjoy a vodka tonic and some LA-‘fresh’ air while waiting for our flight.

IMG_7490Our 13-hour flight was tough but we all survived.

IMG_7496We arrived late Thursday night and Friday to recover. Saturday was the 4th of July and so we went to the American Club to celebrate with a BBQ by the pool.


The rest of the week went by in a flash. We had playdates,

IMG_7555Beef noodle soup,

IMG_8378Walks around town,

IMG_8374A vegetarian feast for lunch,

IMG_7516Complete with giant veggie burger,

IMG_8375And of course there was lots and lots of playtime with the boys at home.

IMG_7569One evening my Mom shared her vision for reorganizing my kitchen and we made it happen.

IMG_8376What she did was amazing. I still can’t get over how she shifted around a few things and made our tiny kitchen feel bigger.

IMG_8377I couldn’t let Mom leave Taipei with out taking her to an awesome vegan hotpot restaurant. She loved it. I brought Natalie here when she visited over Christmas and she was also a huge fan.

IMG_7547On Mom’s second to last night we went out for Spanish Tapas and washed them down with New Zealand wine.

IMG_7568The last day we spent hanging outside on the patio (which Mom also helped re-design and jazz up while there).

IMG_7587I can’t even begin to describe how sad the goodbye was and just how much we all miss her.   Thanks again for everything, Grandma. We love you!



Summer Holiday: Ohio

We were lucky enough to get to spend three weeks in Ohio this summer. Luke was participating in a conference in Minnesota, so we decided to tag along with him for the flight over. He was only there a week so my Mom helped us out in a big way by flying back to Taipei with me and the boys and staying with us for a week.

(Here we are waiting to depart for the airport in our matching shirts).

IMG_6625Luke and I have both flown enough to have lounge access. It’s so great with kids. We were able to stake out a corner in the lounge and set up camp for the few hours before our flight.

IMG_6627We choose a night flight on Eva Air to LAX. Jude stayed up for the first 4 hours of the flight watching shows.

IMG_6633_2It took a lot of work to get him to sleep and he was still up and down all night. In the morning, during breakfast, he remained passed out on Luke’s lap. The poor kid is not used to having his usual 12 hours of sleep cut short.

IMG_6638My Mom met us out in LA. It was the best feeling to see her standing at the exit waiting for us. Luke had to run and catch his next flight to Minnesota but we got to relax a little as we were staying the night there before our early morning flight to Cleveland.

IMG_6641_2Jude was in a exhausted but hyper state and when we reached the hotel room, he ran around exploring every corner of the room. He was nutty for the phone and kept ringing Fireman Sam on it! We went down to the lobby restaurant and had some dinner. We used the iPad to calm Jude down.

IMG_6644The poor kiddo had such a hard time getting to sleep. It was agonizing. Once he finally passed out from crying, he awoke at around 2 am screaming. So we all woke up (Toby too) and tried to get them back to sleep by trying out various sleeping arrangements. Nothing worked so after an hour we stuck Jude back in the crib and let him cry more. Poor thing.

IMG_6649Toby slept in bed with me and had no problem falling asleep as long as he was breastfeeding.

IMG_6648_2It was a rough night, followed by a rough day of flying (although, surprisingly, the kids were both very good on the flight). We were all happy to arrive in Ohio at my parent’s house.

IMG_6690Grandpa and Jude explored the entire yard many times over. Jude would ask Grandpa all the time to go outside with him.

IMG_6674It was so nice to get to spend so much time outside and be comfortable. Taiwan’s summers are rough with the high temps and humidity so I don’t get the kids outside as much as I’d like too. We made the most of it in Ohio by down at the pond, running in the grass, pulling weeds or just walking around the neighborhood.

IMG_6720One sunny afternoon we pitched a little tent and just hung out in there.

IMG_7267We ate out a few times, our favorite place being ‘Yours Truly’. They have a train for kids in the waiting area and great kids meals. Each time we went Jude and Toby would split chicken fingers and french toast.

IMG_6769We took a trip out to Geneva-on-the-Lake one day. It’s a historic street with a carnival-like atmosphere. We used to go there a lot as kids so it was fun to experience it again after so many years. We left before lunch, hoping Jude would nap in the car on the way there. He didn’t, of course.

IMG_7347We kept Jude distracted from his tiredness with game-playing, a playground, and donuts. We stopped in the gift-shop of ‘Firehouse Winery’ and Grandpa spotted a red fireman’s hat for Jude. He absolutely loved it (and still does)!

IMG_7361We also got to see the Lake (Toby doesn’t look very impressed).

IMG_7356Aunt Natalie took a break from studying and came to visit from Seattle for just under a week. We all had a great time with her.

IMG_7055Playdates with cousin Robby were always a treat. So cool that the cousin are all so close in age!

IMG_6669_2We had a few days of rain while in Ohio. These two usually always get into trouble when they’re stuck inside.

IMG_7087It was great having Grandma, Grandpa and the cats around to help keep them entertained.

IMG_6754One lovely evening, once the boys were both in bed, my parents and I had a delicious dinner on the deck. It’s such a treat to eat outside since its something we don’t get to do back in Taipei.

IMG_7391Another thing Jude loved doing was helping out with taking out the garbage. It was pretty fun wheeling everything down the long driveway and then getting to see it all get picked up by the big green garbage truck.

IMG_7225We had such a lovely 3 weeks in Ohio and it was certainly hard to leave and even harder to say goodbye to Grandpa.



Aunt Natalie

At the end of December we had yet another special visitor. Aunt Natalie came and stayed with us for Christmas and New Years.

IMG_1468She arrived early in the morning so Jude had a great morning as she came with a suitcase full of goodies for the boys.

IMG_1475Despite all the cool stuff, his favorite was by far a little airplane Natalie picked up at the airport.

IMG_1478Natalie got right into our daily routine. Jude just loves his Aunt Natalie so he was all about hanging out with her.

IMG_1498And every morning, without fail, he was mooching off her breakfast.

IMG_1509She even taught him how to use watercolors and so he painted her a masterpiece for her fridge.

IMG_1952Toby also fell in love with Natalie. She was so patient with helping put him to sleep.

IMG_1535And when he got a sore tummy there’s nothing better than having an Osteopath-in-training around for belly rubs.

IMG_1817These boys are lucky to have so many awesome Aunties.

IMG_1547We did some outings with both boys too – like to Playspace,

IMG_1573And TGIFridays for beer and fries and NZ Natural for ice cream.

IMG_1718On Christmas Eve we decided to skip cooking and ordered in pizza from California Pizza Kitchen.

IMG_1603We played card games and wrapped presents. It was so nice to have family with us to celebrate.

IMG_1605Nat and I went on some sister dates  -we tried our a few yummy vegetarian places.


IMG_1809Since Luke had the week of work, he was also able to do some fun stuff. Him and Nat went to the National Palace Museum one afternoon and then to the movies to see ‘Intersellar’.

IMG_1715With Luke at home we were able to fit sister workouts in during lunch breaks.

IMG_1688As the week wore on we were all pretty tired. Jude was sick too, so we camped out at home.

IMG_1779One afternoon we downloaded Disney’s Planes. It was Jude’s first movie and we watched it in 20 min intervals as that’s how long it would take Jude to get bored and want to do something else.

IMG_1722For New Years, we were invited to a party at our friends’ house. Nat and I made some food to bring – a pecan pie and vegetarian salad. Below, Natalie is pictured shredding a carrot for the salad. No big deal, right? Wrong! This is the FIRST time Natalie has ever shredded a carrot! I couldn’t believe it…but apparently she has never made carrot cake and in her salads she prefers diced carrots.

IMG_1881Before the evening’s festivities, we tucked the boys in bed,

IMG_1879And popped a bottle of bubbles to toast the end of a great year.

IMG_1885The party was fun – loads of food, drinks, and people.

IMG_1895I left early to relieve the babysitter but Nat and Luke stayed on and watched the 101 fireworks off the top of our friends’ roof. Thankfully Luke took a video as I passed out as soon as I got home and missed them. They were really spectacular.

IMG_1896The next morning we booked in for brunch at Woolloomooloo.


IMG_1926That night was Nat’s last in Taipei so her and I hit the town one final time. We went to Tonghua Street night market where we feasted on street food.

IMG_1961And then to the 101 food court for tofu pudding dessert.


IMG_1962Her flight didn’t leave until late Friday night so we got to do one last outing. We went to Songshan Airport to watch airplanes – one of Jude’s most favorite things to do at the moment.


IMG_1989We took one last group shot before the boys’  bedtime.

IMG_1992And Nat helped rock Toby to sleep one last time before we left for the airport.

IMG_1915We had dinner together and said a sad ‘bye bye’.

IMG_1994We had such a great time and are so thankful for all of Nat’s help! We hope to see her back again in Taipei soon!



Aunt Pearl

We were lucky enough to have a second visitor this month! Luke’s younger sister, Pearl, came to stay for just over a week.

IMG_0192She didn’t have time for jet lag as thanks to Jude she was right into play time.

IMG_0194Later in the day we strapped both kiddos into the ergos and went for a neighborhood stroll.

IMG_0196Pearl was such a huge help with both boys and she even managed to keep our house so tidy while she was here- such a pro!



IMG_0279During the days we did a lot sightseeing around the neighborhood.


IMG_0272And at night, after the boys were asleep, her and I would go on night market adventures while Luke babysat.

IMG_0312Mmm mmm- Gua Bao!


IMG_0460She did a few solo trips out to the playground with Jude and marveled at all the attention they got!

IMG_0337Our friend Yeats stopped by on the weekend to meet Toby and Pearl. These three went out for a Taiwanese lunch and ice cream while I stayed home with the boys.

IMG_0392We booked our babysitter one night and both got out with Pearl. We took her to the very fun and entertaining, Kanpai where you cook your own meat over a BBQ and they have all these quirky things you can do – like kissing someone for 10 seconds for a free beer. Of course, Luke and I couldn’t resist a challenge like that!


IMG_0409The rest of her time here we just hung out.


IMG_0492On her last day we took her to Din Tai Fung as there was no way she could leave here without trying their food.


IMG_0477She had to leave for the airport before the boys got up so we said our goodbyes the night before. Jude resisted her saying goodbye as, like all of us, didn’t want her to leave!

IMG_0525We forgot to take a group photo before Toby fell asleep!

IMG_0521Thanks again, Aunty Pearl! We can’t wait to see your beautiful face here again someone soon.