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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Pregnancy #2 Almost Over!

I’m two days away from being 39 weeks pregnant! When did that happen?

IMG_6852This pregnancy has just flown by. Second time around has been a completely different experience than the first. With a toddler running around, I just haven’t had the time to think about being pregnant.

IMG_6842My days are busy caring for Jude  and it’s only been in the past few weeks that I have turned my mind to preparing for this baby. There hasn’t been to much to do since we have all the gear already, including a ridiculous amount of baby clothes. It was just a matter of washing, folding and finding places for everything.

IMG_8237Having the experience of a giving birth and caring for newborn under our belts certainly makes us a lot more confident. I’m not nervous about giving birth like I was with Jude. Having been through it, I know it’s totally doable (especially with the help of an epidural). It’s still going to be painful as all heck  – especially contractions and the days following birth. But I’m not really nervous about things like breastfeeding or settling the baby. Of course, there is always the unknown – I could end up with an emergency c-section or a baby with colic!

What we are nervous about it when exactly this baby is going to come. My due date is 7 Oct and my parents will be arriving on the 3rd. I just cross my fingers that baby boy stays put until then. It would be really tough if he decides to come early and we don’t have them here to take care of Jude.

IMG_7174This time round, I have had two showers! I really didn’t want one for the 2nd as we didn’t want any gifts but our friends insisted. The first shower was a joint one, shared with two other pregnant ladies, all of us due within a few weeks of each other.

IMG_6912We played a few games, ate a lot of food and were all given a ton of diapers (including in the above diaper cakes).

IMG_6909My second baby shower was thrown by my other mommy friends.

IMG_7928We attempted a few games but soon realized it was pretty impossible with all the toddler chaos!

IMG_7942Everyone brought a dish so we spent the afternoon snaking and playing.

IMG_7931My other pregnant friend (with her first), came around and we chatted about pregnancy and birth stuff.

IMG_8097I asked for no gifts but was given more diapers! The most useful presents to give expectant  an Mom!

IMG_7950Apart from showers fun, Jude and I have continued getting out and about several times a week to play. I know that once baby arrives it will be awhile before I can take him to play so have been keen to do this with him, even though it’s been pretty exhausting for me.

IMG_8096Because of all this daytime activity, I have pretty much stopped doing dedicated workouts. The last time I went to the gym was three weeks ago. I swam once since then but have otherwise just been too physically exhausted at the end of the day to do anything but put my feet up. I feel like I am going into birth not nearly as in shape as I was with Jude. At 39 weeks with him I was climbing 18 flights of stairs, now I huff and puff up one! I know it will take sometime after birth to regain my normal fitness level  – especially as it will be even harder to find time. I am hopeful though that I can start training for a half marathon or some other sporting event to motivate me once I’ve been cleared for exercise.

IMG_7410I’ve managed to get a little bit of ‘me’ time thanks to our nanny. One day when she came to help out with Jude I decided to go out for a big breakfast. It was so nice and relaxing as usually I scarf down my breakfast while helping Jude with his. It was especially nice not to have to share with anyone!

IMG_7641I decided to order a slice of banana pie and just about licked the plate clean!

IMG_7644Once again I have had a rough end of my pregnancy. With Jude I got horribly itchy skin in the last week before giving birth. This time round, I got it again, only earlier. It gets especially bad at night and so has really affected my sleep. I’ve bee averaging 3-4 hours a night. It’s really, really awful. My doctor has given me some medication to help reduce it but it won’t go away completely until after I’ve had birth. I suppose I won’t be sleeping much anyhow once the baby is here so what’s a few extra weeks?

IMG_8227So far I haven’t had any labor signs apart from Braxton Hicks contractions which I get all day long. They were measured at my last appointment but still not regular enough to count as early labor. My cervix is also still shut tight. I was happy about this as it sounds like he will stay put until my parents get here.

IMG_8213I still can’t believe sometime in the next week or so we will have another baby. We will be a family of FOUR. It sounds so big! We are all so excited to meet baby brother.

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Summer in Ohio: Week 3

Our last few days in Ohio flew by. We had a lot to do including, shopping,

IMG_6180Catching up with old friends,

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IMG_6172Bugging Grandpa at work,

IMG_6224And watching Sesame Street,

IMG_6220Our last night we all went out to dinner at our favorite pizza spot.

IMG_6230Jude was more interested in the desserts than the pizza.

IMG_6226We took the opportunity to take a pregnant sisters pic.

IMG_6232And one with all three sisters plus Mom.

IMG_6244Natalie helped out with Jude’s last bath,

IMG_6246And very early in the morning we said goodbye to Natalie at the airport as she made her way back to Seattle.

IMG_6260Mom, Dad, Jude and I got on a plane headed to San Francisco. Mom and Dad kindly decided to help me fly there with Jude, and also stay the weekend in San Fran (since it happened to be there wedding anniversary anyhow).

IMG_6261At SFO we tried to keep Jude from straying too far away by strapping on his monkey backpack (complete with a monkey tail leash).

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IMG_6272He was a little out of control on the leash so we opted for the stroller instead.

IMG_6276Jude and I had several hours before our next flight and Mom and Dad stayed with us and kept us company. SFO is a blessing to parents traveling with children. There are several play spaces throughout the airport. The one below called ‘Spirogyate’ had these cool black and white disks that would spin around and light up in different colors. Kids were going crazy over these things!

IMG_6285Another one we found had a cool caterpillar tunnel and other fun weather-related exhibitions.

IMG_6291Lightning!

IMG_6294Jude also enjoyed watching the planes,

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IMG_6297Before we knew it, it was time to say goodbye. As always, time goes way too fast!

IMG_6263Jude and I boarded our 13 hour flight to Taipei. With our flight over fresh in my mind, I was very, very nervous about this one!

IMG_6262This one turned out to be way better! It still wasn’t great, Jude definitely had a lot of crazy toddler moments, but this time he actually got more than one hour of sleep  – in fact, he got close to 6 hours! The big difference this flight was having an empty seat next to us and sitting in a row, rather than in the bulkhead seats. Jude could not get out and race up and down the aisles so easily.

IMG_6303We were also extremely lucky to have a nice woman next to us who was happy to let Jude sit on her lap and look out the window.

IMG_6304I get tired just thinking about flying with a toddler – it’s not easy! We had a great time away, back in the States with family, but it is great to be home again with Dada.

Two Special Visitors

Last weekend we has a collision of visitors. First, Dominica arrived on Saturday afternoon.

IMG_5407We spent the rest of the day showing her our neighborhood and later out for a bike ride to pick up our fav Vietnamese food court meal.

IMG_5400In the morning we took her to our local wet market and sampled some classic Taiwanese breakfast street food.

IMG_5414While Luke drove to the airport to pick-up our other visitor – his Uni friend Sebastian – we went with Minnie to get a glorious Taiwanese hair wash.

IMG_5419And then Sebastian was here! First stop: bubble tea.

IMG_5421It was completely random timing that these two came to visit us at the exact same time. Both coming from New Zealand, and both on their way to European holidays.

IMG_0878Their first day together they tried an American export to Taiwan, Krispy Kreme donuts, and then onto the famous Din Tai Fung for  xiao long bao.

IMG_5422With full bellies, we headed on the MRT to CKS Memorial.

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IMG_5432It was hot out so we made our way into the memorial museum to cool off.

IMG_5435We watched the changing of the guards, too.

IMG_5438Then after dropping Jude off back home with the babysitter, we headed out to Tianmu to watch a Taipei Brothers Elephants play ball.

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IMG_5451The Elephants won after one of the players hit a home run, it was pretty exciting.

IMG_0911The next day, after a Taiwanese breakfast, we made our way out to Longshan Temple.

IMG_5458Then onto Ice Monster for their famous Mango Ice. We also tried their Bubble Tea Ice and Hot Black Sesame.

IMG_5475For dinner we took Sebastian and Min to A Cai to try out some of our favorite Taiwanese dishes. The deep-fried fish eyeballs were surprisingly big hit.

After dinner, Ximending, to check out the bright lights and eat ice cream.

IMG_5509The next morning we were all up bright and early. Jude and I stayed home while the others walked up Elephant Mountain.

IMG_0920In the afternoon we headed to Maokong to our favorite tea house.

IMG_5492Jude happily went and sat with a Taiwanese family who fed him snacks while we waited for our tea.

IMG_5486That night we went to a Japanese Yakiniku place called Dawan for dinner. It was a delicious BBQed meat feast.

IMG_0935On their last day we took them to our favorite American breakfast place, ‘The Diner’.

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IMG_5574And then it was time to say goodbye to Aunt Dominica.

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IMG_5592Sebastian’s flight wasn’t until late at night so we spent the afternoon hanging out at a waterpark.

IMG_5607They had great big slides (which sadly, being pregnant, I couldn’t ride).

IMG_0982And a lazy river which we all floated around.

IMG_0968Jude loved it.

IMG_0990And then it was time to say ‘bye-bye’ to Sebastian.

IMG_5497It was such an awesome few days and hope to see them both again one day in Taipei.

Rarotonga – Week One

After Wellington we flew to Rarotonga for an island getaway. The last time we were there was for our honeymoon three years ago so we were excited to return and this time with Jude.

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We have friends there so they picked us up from the airport and we stayed with them the first few nights. They live right on the beach so one of the first things we did was jump in.

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Their backyard is pretty spectacular!

IMG_2253They have two kids so it was a lot of fun for Jude to have buddies to play with.

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After two nights with them we moved into this place, where we would be staying for the rest of the week.

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We needed more space as these two were on their way over from the US to join us in Rarotonga.

IMG_2266We spent the day before their arrival breaking in the hammock.

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And in the morning they arrived and we were all on the beach together!

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Jude has changed so much since the last time we were in the States so it was neat for them to see all the things he could do now.

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There were lots of cuddles and kisses all week long,

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as well as playtime at the beach,

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And in the pool,

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We lounged around and ate lots of good food too.

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But smack dab in the middle of the week Jude started acting a little out of sorts.

IMG_2362The first sign something was a bit ‘off’ was when he fell asleep on Grandpa while we were driving in the car. He’s never just fallen asleep like this!

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Turns out he had contracted an island bug called ‘zika virus’. It meant a day of high fever, chills, and several days of a rash. No fun! So naturally we tried to do everything to get him better – like ice cream,

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oatmeal,

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and cuddles.

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IMG_2411Grandma and Grandpa helped out so much with taking care of Jude, it was really wonderful.

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Thanks to having them with us, Luke and I were able to have a date night one evening. We went to a place we went to on our honeymoon for wine, mocktails and tapas.

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Next we went to a bar with a nice sea views for beer and french fries.

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And finished up the night with wood fired pizza.

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One afternoon we went back over our friends’ place for lunch and more playtime.

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It was Luke’s second to last day on the island as he needed to fly back to New Zealand for work. So we took a group photo as who knows when and where we will see them again!

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And one of us.

IMG_2452On Luke’s last day we went out for lunch,

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And said goodbye. ;(

IMG_2485Jude and I still had a whole other week of fun in Rarotonga with Grandma and Grandpa.

 

 

 

Chinese New Year 2014

We stuck around Taipei for Chinese New Year this year.

IMG_0556We kicked off New Years with a hotpot lunch at our Taiwanese friend’s home.

IMG_0560Jude munched on tofu and enjoyed crawling around checking out all the different people.

IMG_0564The next day we went to a BBQ at our NZ friend’s house. There were two other babies to keep Jude busy.

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IMG_0603The rest of the week we spent doing more eating (homemade pizza, yum yum),

IMG_0612Cleaning up around the house (thanks to the cats…),

IMG_0557A bit of window shopping (I really love the cat ones!),

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Playing at home,

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And getting out and exploring Taipei. We went to a temple,

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IMG_0667In the spirit of all things new, Jude tried curry for the first time and was a fan.

IMG_0677We also spent a lot of time working on him being gentle to Fern. Him holding a cat toy actually stops him from clobbering her!

IMG_0626Luke and I also finished watching all of Breaking Bad (insanely good) and  started House of Cards (so far also excellent)!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

30

My 30th Birthday was last Sunday. I spent the morning like this:

IMG_0129Finally getting dressed to enjoy brunch at The Diner:

IMG_9925My first meal as 30 looked like this:

IMG_9927We returned home and found this cake on our doorstep:

IMG_9955Our wonderful friend made this and it was full of all the things I like.

IMG_9970Another friend dropped these off:

IMG_9964And later that night Luke and I toasted to a new decade.

IMG_9973My actual birthday was just the start of the celebration. On Tuesday a big box arrived from my Mom and Dad with this inside:

IMG_0065I also got a new iPhone from Luke (perfect for selflies of my 30 year-old-self):

IMG_0172Luke and I got all dressed up one night, got the babysitter in, and went to dinner at Osteria.

IMG_0176We ordered the Chef’s special set menu. It was amazing.

IMG_0182We were really impressed with all the components of each dish – super well thought out.

IMG_0188Dessert was the best tiramisu I have ever had.

IMG_0194It feels good be 30!

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Our First Christmas As Three

Since this Christmas was the first as a family of three, we were keen to start some of our own holiday traditions. The one I came up with was making our tree rather than buying one. My parents had sent Jude a rather large box of Christmas presents which I was keen to utilize. After a google search I found a tutorial.

IMG_0020It was surprisingly easy to do and it only cost $2 for the paint.

IMG_0024Then I started trimming the tree using old bits of wrapping paper I had saved and ribbons. I made a star out of doilies for the top.

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The rest of the ornaments had been given to us as presents in the past. After arranging the presents around it really start to look and feel like Christmas.

IMG_0521I thought one of the benefits of the cardboard tree would be that the cats wouldn’t eat it, like they would for a real one. Instead they thought it was fun to climb up it and knock it over.

IMG_9931Another tradition we started, which we always did in my family growing up, was make Christmas cookies.

IMG_9888I used a basic sugar cookie recipe and a buttercream frosting. Rather than eating them ourselves we gave them away to our friends and Luke’s colleagues.

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Since it was Jude’s first Christmas, and we are in Taiwan, I thought it would be fun to take him to get photos with a Taiwanese Santa.

IMG_0064He was really confused about what going on. When I put Jude up on his lap, the people waiting behind us in line all went crazy snapping photos of Jude. I guess it’s not everyday you see a Western baby sitting on a Taiwanese Santa’s lap! Jude was a good sport and only started letting out a cry at the end!

IMG_0068On Christmas morning Jude woke up an hour earlier than usual and so at 5:30am we started our morning routine. First bottle,

IMG_9932then breakfast (scrambled eggs and toast),

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IMG_9936We Skyped with my parents and Nat while we opened everything so they could see his reaction.

IMG_9947Jude clearly did not know what was going on,

IMG_0094But he really didn’t mind as he had all these cool new gadgets to discover.

IMG_0099Funny though, the best part for him didn’t exactly seem to be  the toys but the wrapping that they came in!

IMG_9951So he continued to play in the garbage pile until nap time.

IMG_9954After his nap, we got our things together and drove 3 hours south to Nantou where we were staying the night with some friends.

IMG_9972We were booked in these nice cabins at a hot spring resort.

IMG_9969We spent the first afternoon hanging around in the hot springs – which Jude looooved!

IMG_9971Our friends all had kids too, five between us. And in fact three of them were born this year! So it was pretty special having three babies’ have their first Christmases together.

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After the kids and babies were all put to bed, the adults hung outside the cabins and had a Christmas BBQ feast. We had ham, sausage, chicken, roast veggies, salads, and amazing desserts. After we hit up the hot springs and drank wine until there was no more left!

IMG_9970The next day we awoke to more clouds but they soon disappeared and the sun was out! So we lounged around in the grass letting the kids play,

IMG_9978while the adults drank coffee and chatted.

IMG_9982And after morning naps we went for a group hike up a grueling hill.

IMG_9981But it usually is always worth climbing as you’re bound to get a good view. It was a wonderful and speciall first Christmas as a family of three.

IMG_9983It is still so hard for me to believe last year at this time we were like this:

IMG_7814We are very much looking forward to all the Christmases to come and continuing with our little traditions and making new ones.