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!

 

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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Bali Holiday 2016

We spent just shy of 2 weeks in beautiful Bali with Grandma and Grandpa. Aunt Dominica also stopped by for 3 nights on her way to the UK. It was a big bonus to get to see her. She brought the boys these awesome dinosaurs which they just loved. In Bali, we pretty much spent all our time swimming, eating, getting massages and relaxing at our villa. Bali is a beautiful, lush island full of an incredible number of temples. We stayed in the beachside town, Sanur. It had a really cool beachfront area with a walkway and tons of little restaurants. We took one day trip to Ubud, where we got to experience the amazing (and at times scary) Monkey Temple and beautiful rice paddies. The boys loved getting to spend all this time with Grandma and Grandpa. It quickly became the routine for the boys to wake up and wander over to Grandpa and Grandma’s room for morning cartoons. Of course, as always, it was hard to say goodbye –  both to Bali and to the Grandparents (and Aunt Minnie earlier in the week!). Here are some of the photos from out trip.

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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.

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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.

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

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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_0731Playground,

IMG_0736And lots of walks around.

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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.

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

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

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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.

 

 

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.

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Grandma Elizabeth

We just had another very special visitor – Luke’s Mum – come and stay for over a week. It wasn’t long after her arrival when she discovered Jude also loved dancing. She promptly introduced him to Mc Hammer and taught him how to Hammer time!.

IMG_9808Just like last time, she came with a suitcase full of NZ gifts and goodies for us. She gave Toby his first bear made from a beautiful soft wool.

IMG_0025We did a lot while she was here.

One nice morning we went to Daan Park to feed the ducks and birds.

IMG_9852Another day, we went with Jude to Costco where Elizabeth bought Jude an awesome set of pretend food to go with his kitchen.

IMG_9899It didn’t take long for Jude to discover this Grandma also had an iPad!

IMG_9905Elizabeth was such a big help with both boys – taking Jude to the playground so I could get some rest or staying home with Toby so I could get out and run errands.

IMG_9911One errand I have been meaning to do for awhile was get Jude a new bike seat on the back of my bike.

IMG_9830One night Elizabeth watched the boys for us and Luke and I got out for a date night – pizza, beer and shopping.

IMG_9870We managed a few outings with both the boys as the weather was excellent.

IMG_9934Luke was at work most of the time she was here so it was wonderful having the extra pair of hands around to help out – whether it be with mealtimes, diaper changes, burping or bath time.

IMG_0034And of course, just hanging out around at home.

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IMG_0013On her second to last night we went to Raohe Night Market where we had dinner and browsed the stalls.

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IMG_9965We took a group shot the morning of her departure.

IMG_0028And Jude and I saw her off with a very teary goodbye.

IMG_0036We are so grateful for getting to spend so much time with Grandma Elizabeth and cannot even begin to express how thankful we are for all her help. Hopefully she’ll come back and visit us again soon!

Our Big Helpers

My  parents plane touched down in Taipei ten minutes after Toby was born on October 3rd! Luke called them not long after landing and told them the news – it was a pretty epic arrival. Thankfully we were able to organize a someone to pick them up from the airport. We were also lucky that our babysitter was able to cancel her other work and stay and look after Jude while I delivered. She put Jude to sleep and then stayed on until my parents arrived. I was really hoping to have a few days with them before baby to show them the ropes – ins and outs of Jude’s routine and how to get around the neighborhood. But it didn’t work out that way and so when Jude woke up in the morning he got quite the surprise!

IMG_2395Thankfully Luke was able to leave the hospital and show them around a bit.

IMG_5609It was great when Toby and I were finally discharged from the hospital and we were all back home together.

IMG_8775I was keen to capture Jude and his new little brother so one of the first things we did was have my friend take photos of us. It was an added bonus that Grandma and Grandpa were here for a few shots too.

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IMG_8727So happy we were able to capture the special occasion.

IMG_8722The rest of the three weeks they were here was busy – they helped out with EVERYTHING, especially keeping Jude busy so I could rest.

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IMG_9186There were lots of time where we just chilled out, too.

IMG_8882Jude especially loved watching Sesame Street on Grandma’s iPad.

IMG_8733And Toby loved getting his gassy belly rubbed by Grandpa, known in our family as the ‘Baby Whisperer’.

IMG_9151He has the magic touch.

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IMG_9293We managed a few meals out – Din Tai Fung,

IMG_8860And the Diner. Both were successful thanks to lots of toddler distraction devices!

IMG_8792Mom and Dad took a few mornings ‘off’ to hike up Elephant mountain and go up Taipei 101.

IMG_5767And  after getting Toby started on the bottle, Luke and I were able to sneak off for our first date night. We saw the awesome  flick ‘Gone Girl’.

IMG_5886Before we knew it, it was the night before Grandma’s and Grandpa’s flight back to America. They helped with bath and bedtime one last time.

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IMG_9270And in the morning we took one last group photo.

IMG_9298Jude and I dropped them off at the airport.

IMG_9302It was a very, very sad occasion.

IMG_9310We got back home and Jude ran right into their room. Grandma thinks he was just looking for her iPad but I think he was looking for them.

IMG_9318I can hardly even begin to thank my parents for all their generous support during these three weeks. They helped out so much, not only with the boys, but also with day-to-day chores. We were all very lucky to have them here and miss them tremendously! Hopefully we will see them again in Taipei in the not too far distant future.

Summer in Ohio: Week 2

Our second week in Ohio has flown by. Jude has again spent most of the week outside.

IMG_4231He spent a lot of time down at the pond throwing rocks, blowing bubbles,

IMG_4236Watering plants with Grandma,

IMG_5975And wagon rides.

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IMG_6009In between these adventures we chat with Dada.

IMG_6196Boy, we sure miss him.  (He still gets lots of hugs and kisses through the phone).

IMG_6197Of course, it’s not all fun, play, and Facetime, Jude’s also been going into work and helping Grandma out.

IMG_6017The weather has been great so we were able to cook out one night.

IMG_4315Steak fajitas and corn were a real treat.

IMG_4316On Wednesday we got another treat- Aunt Natalie arrived! (And came bearing Elmo-themed gifts).

IMG_4332Things got a little crazy her first night in.

IMG_4335The next day we were up early and Jude and Nat spent some time catching up and cooking.

IMG_6044And then cleaning up after.

IMG_6049It’s been great having more helping hands around. At 29 weeks pregnant (!) it’s been nice to have a break to put my feet up, or fit in a work-out.

IMG_5974We’ve attempted taking Jude out to eat a few times and it’s always a challenge. He’s not really into sitting in high chairs these days and would prefer to sit on Grandpa’s lap and make a mess.

IMG_6033We found a place way better than any restaurant to take him – a splash park.

IMG_6052It’s a free, outdoor, splash water park, located not too far away. It’s the most amazing thing! Jude loved it!

IMG_6060Next to the splash park is a playground so we went up and down the slide after to dry off.

IMG_6061On Saturday we threw a little baby shower for Jen. We left Jude with Grandpa and went out for a bit of pampering.

IMG_4396We had pedicures,

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IMG_4395Back home we met back up with Grandpa and Jude and soon after Rob arrived. We showered the parents-to-be with presents.

IMG_6084And then had cake (which Grandpa and Jude were in charge of picking up earlier in the day. Note that it is a little lopsided due to a little incident where Grandpa claimed he had to choose between dropping the cake or dropping the baby…).

IMG_4399Come August these two will have a little baby boy!

IMG_4398And Grandma and Grandpa will have their second Grandson!

IMG_4397On Sunday we had another family gathering this time at Jen and Rob’s. They cooked a beautiful Italian feast in honor of my Grandma, who passed away last October. She was born on July 19, 1921, so we thought it was a fitting time to celebrate her life.

IMG_4402After dinner Jude took a spin around the yard in the wagon.

IMG_6125It’s been a great second week,

IMG_6127And we still have a few more days left here to play outside.

IMG_6103To be continued…

 

Summer in Ohio: Week 1

Just over a week ago, Jude and I packed our bags,

IMG_5650And said bye bye to Dada.

IMG_5684We flew together 11 hours from Taipei to San Francisco.

IMG_5686It was a long, exhausting journey but I knew it was the last time before baby #2 that I could fly solo with Jude. Thankfully my Mom met us in San Fran and helped us fly the rest of the way to Ohio. I could dedicate a whole post to flying along, with a toddler, 27 weeks pregnant.  It wasn’t easy but we survived.

IMG_5687Touching down in Ohio and seeing Grandpa was a great feeling. We made it. No more flying (until we return to Taipei on the 25th).

IMG_5721We spent the first few days hanging out around the house,

IMG_5748Catching up on all the sleep we missed out on.

IMG_5767We hit a local playground,

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IMG_5801Jude loves helping Grandma in the kitchen.

IMG_5806And with the clean-up after.

IMG_5929And watching cartoons on Grandpa’s giant TV.

IMG_5822We made a trip to Target for diapers and ran into Scout there.

IMG_5807And then in Grandma’s office we ran into St. Jude.

IMG_5834Jude’s not a big fan of shopping so thankfully a lot of the malls also have a kids play area.

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IMG_5943And a frozen yogurt store is never far away.

IMG_5855Grandma and Grandpa have been helping with mealtimes, diaper changes, and his nightly routine – which has been a nice break for me.

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IMG_5960We headed over to Aunt Jen’s and Uncle Rob’s one hot afternoon for a pool party.

IMG_5892They have a perfect little area in the pool where Jude could stand up and play in the fountains.

IMG_5894He got to venture out into the deep end in his float.

IMG_5881We had to lure him out of the pool with snacks.

IMG_5883Breakfast with Grandpa has been one of Jude’s favorite times of the day. Grandpa shares his fruit and cheerios.

IMG_5859We took a ride with Grandma one afternoon out to Fairport Harbor beach and played in the sand.

IMG_5912And a little bit in the surf.

IMG_5916He’s had lots of treats like McDonald’s,

IMG_5901Donuts,

IMG_5922And pretzels.

IMG_5946One of the best things has just been being outside in comfortable weather, running around in the grass – something he doesn’t get to do in Taipei.

IMG_5951It’s been a real treat for both of us.

IMG_5958To be continued…

 

 

 

Rarotonga – Week Two

Week two we stayed at a different place on the island- a resort, on a very nice lagoon. The resort had something the first place we stayed didn’t – Happy Hour!

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The beach there was perfect for kids – really shallow and nice, soft sand.

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There was also a little night food market a short walk down the road from us. We checked it out on the first night.

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During the days we hung out at either the pool or the beach. Jude had lots and lots of Grandma and Grandpa time. They weren’t always the best influences on him – here’s Grandma teaching him how to spit water.

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And the smile on Jude’s face in this one is no doubt because he is peeing in the pool!

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So the rest of the week went like this – more beaches, swimming, good food (pizza and ice cream!), cuddles, playtime, and of course, Happy Hour:

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I love this photo, buddha on the beach:

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And then a not so fun time came and we had to say goodbye. Jude actually was asleep when we boarded the plane so he didn’t get to give a proper goodbye. He woke up on the airplane and was totally confused as to where his best buddies had gone.

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We had such a special two weeks on the island and can’t wait to bring Jude and his brother back one day! Of course, we hope Grandma and Grandpa can join us again too! We sure do miss them.