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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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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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,

IMG_6207(I used to babysit for this guy below and his brother when he was Jude’s age!)

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.

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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.

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,

IMG_5785And ate custard ice cream.

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,

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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…

 

 

 

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.

 

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.

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.

 

 

 

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!

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),

IMG_9933and then we let him loose on the presents.

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.

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…