Goodbye Taiwan

On 11 April we said farewell to Taiwan. It’s now been over a month since we left and I try not to give myself too much time to think about it otherwise I get quite sad. We spent 5 years in Taiwan, that’s half of the time Luke and I have been together. We accomplished so much during our time there- learning Chinese, starting a family as well as making some of the best friendships we’ve ever had. Looking back we both agree we would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Taiwan and the Taiwanese people have been so wonderful to us. It will always feel like home to us.

The month leading up to our departure was full-on. Moving countries is a huge deal – there’s a lot of coordination involved, paperwork and then packing. Thankfully Luke’s office helped us with most of the administration. Here’s a glimpse at what our last month was like.

The boys had their last day of school and said goodbye to their teachers.

The boys and I did a lot of our favourite things one last time like eating shaved ice (sadly mangos were not yet in season).IMG_4275

One last MRT ride.

Last haircuts at the best place to have kids haircut. IMG_4340We had a fun (but sad) last play with friends.IMG_4316We said goodbye to our car.IMG_4352Had one last lunch with Luke’s wonderful office staff.IMG_8678

Attended two of Luke’s farewells. (Toby decided to make quite a statement at the one with Luke’s business contacts by wearing pink sunglasses and talking on a princess cellphone the whole time).

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IMG_8680IMG_4431We had our dear friends over for dinner and reminisced on all the fun we’ve had. IMG_8585

IMG_4538We had one heck of a farewell party with our friends.

IMG_4523And said a teary goodbye to our dear friend and babysitter.IMG_3981Two days later the movers came and we watched as our lives got packed up and ready to be sent to America.IMG_4549And then it was over. We said ‘bye bye’ to our building staff and walked out of the place we’ve called home one last time. IMG_4552We stayed in a hotel the night before flying out. IMG_4544We ate Din Tai Fung one last time.IMG_4554And then just like that we were on our way. IMG_4567We transited through Hong Kong on our way to New Zealand.IMG_4572Miraculously both boys slept soundly on the HK-AKL leg.

Before long we were back in Wellington where we started this 5 year adventure.

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Without a doubt this was the hardest goodbye we’ve ever had to say. Taiwan, 謝謝。

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!

One More Week in NZ

After Rarotonga Jude and I still had one more week in New Zealand with family. We were reunited with Luke, but only for a few days as he had to get back to Taipei for work. One of our first stops was over to Abby and Brad’s for lunch. They had an interesting assortment of toys for Jude to play with including a severed arm and pirate sword.

IMG_2828Jude loved the toys but was more excited to play with their very sweet dog, Willy.

IMG_2836While Jude played, Abby and Brad worked away on lunch – fresh pasta. What a treat!

IMG_2825After lunch we took Jude out to meet their cows – a huge benefit of having farmers in the family is Jude gets to up close and personal with these amazing animals when we visit.

IMG_2868His favorite book, ‘Moo’ came to life.

IMG_2884And more playtime with Willy.

IMG_2897We took a photo capture the occasion.

IMG_2913We said bye to Luke on Monday and Jude and I had a few days hanging out in Thames before all of Luke’s sisters arrived for the long Easter weekend. It was raining on and off so we took advantage of when the weather was fine and hung out at the park.

IMG_2955Jude chased and chased the seagulls in circles.

IMG_2968I kept throwing them bits of bread so they would flock around Jude – he loved it.

IMG_2972And then everyone arrived! It was a very special weekend as on Saturday we were having a baby shower for Renee. Her and Ash are expecting their first baby (a boy!) in June.

IMG_2982We all pitched in and made food for the shower.

IMG_3062And of course there were gifts.

IMG_3069and games.

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IMG_3119It was a great afternoon.

IMG_3067We even got to do another group shot – Jude, Grandma, and Aunties.

IMG_3114I jumped in for a Polaroid photo of us.

IMG_3161The rest of our time there Jude got to spend a lot of quality time with his Aunts – lots of ball throwing and vacuuming,

IMG_2986Kisses and cuddles,

IMG_3004A trip to the park,

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IMG_3017And yummy treats.

IMG_3040On Easter we went to Elizabeth and Dean’s for an Easter egg hunt.

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IMG_3200Jude was clearly on the winning team – Pearl and Faith found those eggs fast. 

IMG_3199Jude wasn’t a big help with the search but he was fun to cuddle in between finds.

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IMG_3213And finally, back inside he figured out what all the fuss was about – chocolate goodness. Mind-blowing…

IMG_3204And then it was our last day in Thames. That night Pearl and Faith helped out with Jude’s bedtime routine.

IMG_3228In the morning we said goodbye.

IMG_3265Grandma drove us to the airport, and after a hot drink, we said goodbye for now.

IMG_3287The flight back was rough. Jude was not keen to sleep – he just wanted to bounce around – exploring, throwing things at our neighbors, and eating whatever he could get his little fingers on.

IMG_3298Moments like the one below (where he was still for a few moments) were rare.

IMG_3294But the light at the end of the tunnel was coming home to Daddy.

 

Thames and Wellington

Going all the way back to March…

We only had a few nights in our new apartment in Taipei before we headed off on our big trip to New Zealand and Rarotonga.

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We flew from Taipei – >Hong Kong -> Auckland. Trying our best to rest and refuel at the lounges in between. Noodles in Taipei:

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Dim sum in Hong Kong:

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We had a lot of space on the long flight from Hong Kong to Auckland.

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But Jude still did not want to sleep.

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We took turns throughout the 11-hour journey keeping him occupied.

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And then finally we made it to Auckland, rented a car, and drove 1.5 hours to Thames. The first stop for us was the supermarket to get some supplies.

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We had five days there and the weather was great so we made the most of it.

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Jude had his first real fish and chips experience.

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Although he preferred to feed the seagulls his chips instead of eating them.

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We spent a lot of time with family – Grandma, Aunt Abby, Uncle Brad, Aunt Renee, Uncle Ashley, and Aunt Dominica all came round for visits.

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And helped out heaps with meals, playtime and bath time.

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Grandma worked on Jude’s musical talents.

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We all ate a lot of delicious NZ apples (we really miss these in Taipei!).

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Jude spent hours vacuuming,

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And cuddling with Dad:

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After Thames, we flew to Wellington where Luke had a week of work stuff to attend to. So Jude and I hit the streets – it was fun taking him around to all the places Luke and I used to go to – like Parliament, which we walked by everyday for two years on our way to/from work.

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Also in Wellington are two aunties! Pearl and Faith are both at Uni there and so we got to spend a lot of quality time together!

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In between our walks around town, we met up with my old work colleagues and contacts for coffees and lunches.

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It was busy, busy.

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But not so busy that we didn’t have time for gelato! Oh, how we’ve missed Kaffee Eis! I got to introduce Jude to my favorite flavor – ginger nut.

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Ohhh sooo good!

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Dad joined us too,

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And we all enjoyed our delicious snack in the sun.

IMG_2141It was awesome to be back in Wellington and only wished we had more time there!

Jude’s First Trip to NZ: Week 3

Our third week in NZ was the most exciting one as it was the week of Abby and Brad’s wedding. Early in the week Jude and I hung out at home crawling around,

IMG_0201and making big messes,

IMG_0203Aunt Faith was home with us most days.

IMG_0240So Jude practiced climbing up the big stairs with her (he made it all the way up!),

IMG_0244and made more messes.

IMG_0220Abby came over one afternoon and we chatted about the wedding and let Jude roll around in the dried flowers that would be thrown at her and Brad after they said their vows.

IMG_0274Brad also came round and gave us a preview of his speech.

IMG_0270We watched some beautiful sunsets from the house,

IMG_0194and before we knew it, it was Thursday and Dad was back.

IMG_0336The day before the wedding was the rehearsal and set-up. So we went along to watch/help-out.

IMG_9941Jude slept through the rehearsal,

IMG_9935But woke up in time to help with set-up.

IMG_9946The morning of the wedding Jude finally met Aunt Pearl and her boyfriend Brad. 

IMG_0304He got two new outfits from them – an ‘ABCD’ (modeled on ACDC) shirt and a batman onesie – so cute!

IMG_0309And then it all started  – Abby and her bridesmaids arrived and they began getting ready.

IMG_9948We sat back and watched.

IMG_9963The wedding was amazing. Abby looked so beautiful and Brad so handsome. I didn’t bring my camera so will have to wait to post more on it until once I get my hands on some photos.

The next morning we were predictably all pretty tired.

IMG_0333So after a leisurely brunch we decided to let Jude entertain us by playing a game Taiwanese play with their babies once they start crawling. The game is placing a bunch of different objects around the room in a circle. Each object is meant to represent a different occupation and you place the baby in the middle and whichever object he crawls to is meant to be his future occupation.

IMG_0339so what did Jude crawl to? The pirate doll! We are so proud.

IMG_0342We took advantage of having all 5 NZ Aunties in one place (+ Grandma) and took some photos.

IMG_0365And then sadly it was time to say goodbye.

IMG_0371We sure do miss everyone. Thank you for a wonderful three weeks!

Jude’s First Trip to NZ: Week 2

Our second week in New Zealand was without Dad but we were plenty busy as we had more people to visit including Jude’s Great-Grandma Oma.

IMG_9897Dominica and Faith accompanied us there.

IMG_9884We also visited an old friend of mine from Smith and met her husband and daughter. They have moved to NZ for a few years as her husband is the rabbi at a synagogue in Auckland.

IMG_0112The kids played piano together,

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and then ate pancakes.

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We also visited a very special lady from Luke’s childhood, his old neighbor, Thelma, who has been like another Grandma to Luke. Jude loved her necklaces, he was especially keen to try and grab the one with a little red button on, to be pushed in an emergency…

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In between all these visits Jude worked on perfecting his technique to get up the stairs,

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He also hung out with Aunt Faith a lot while I went for a run or a swim.

IMG_9906They had a lot of fun together, singing, bouncing, and playing the guitar.

IMG_9910Aunt Abby and Uncle Brad came round with presents for Jude – a new tiger rattle and wooden teething ring.

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They sure know the fastest way to this guy’s heart!

IMG_9913One special night Jude got to get up close and personal with some cows thanks to Elizabeth. They were on there way out to her other property and made a pit stop on the way to meet Jude. On the weekend we went out there and Jude got to see them grazing and pat the other cows!

IMG_9934And of course we chatted with Dad everyday and couldn’t wait for him to come back. IMG_0146To be continued…

Jude’s First Trip to NZ: Week 1

We started our trip to New Zealand at Taiwan’s Taoyuan Airport with lunch. I had a hotpot and Luke had Burger King. We decided to let Jude try his first french fry and he looooved it.

IMG_9686The 12-hour journey to NZ was pretty tiring. It is certainly harder traveling with Jude now that he is mobile and a stomach sleeper. Thankfully he is not a big cryer but to get him down to sleep took a lot of work. A big annoyance we found was that the bassinets on Air NZ are quite high up and also right under the no-smoking lights (which are incredibly bright) so we found it super duper hard to block out all light.

IMG_9705For the first few days in NZ we were based in Auckland. The weather was beautiful when we arrived so we hit the streets and reacquainted ourselves with the NZ lifestyle.

IMG_9752Jude  was exhausted and kept falling asleep at random times the first day!

IMG_9757Jude has only met his Grandma (Luke’s Mum) so we were excited for him to meet the rest of the family. Our first night we had Aunt Dominica over to meet Jude and have dinner.

IMG_9718Our second day in Auckland we were up early and ready to do some more walking.

IMG_9766We made our way to the Domain and enjoyed looking at all the beautiful flowers, 

IMG_9772and views of Auckland Harbor.

IMG_9779That evening Jude met his Grandpa for the first time and after we dined on fish and chips.

IMG_9761Our last day in Auckland we met up with Dominica for a sushi lunch in the park.

IMG_9756It was Jude’s first time crawling on grass!

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IMG_9765That evening Jude met Aunt Abby and Uncle Brad.

IMG_9774Then we made our way to Grandma’s house in Thames.

IMG_9799We Skype with Elizabeth all the time so Jude was already used to her.

IMG_9866Jude also met Aunt Faith,

IMG_9874Aunt Renee and Uncle Ash,

IMG_9824hung out with Abby more,

IMG_9818as well as Dominica.

IMG_9857We were especially excited to introduce Jude to his Great-Grandfather and his partner, Daphne.

IMG_9840Jude was one very happy little boy after Daphne gave him milk arrowroot cookies to munch on!

IMG_9836To be continued…

A Week in New Zealand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Including this clever photo booth.

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

IMG_3367Especially the desserts!

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

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

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

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