Aunty Faith in Taipei

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.

 

 

A Week with Grandma in Taipei

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_7555Beef noodle soup,

IMG_8378Walks around town,

IMG_8374A vegetarian feast for lunch,

IMG_7516Complete with giant veggie burger,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Aunt Natalie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_1817These boys are lucky to have so many awesome Aunties.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_1896The next morning we booked in for brunch at Woolloomooloo.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Aunt Pearl

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_0312Mmm mmm- Gua Bao!

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

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

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

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IMG_0409The rest of her time here we just hung out.

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

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

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

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

 

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.

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.

Natalie in Taipei

My little sister, Natalie, recently came to Taiwan for a visit. She was only here for a week but in that time we covered a lot of ground. One of our first stops was Taipei 101.

IMG_8852We went early, at 9am, and ended up being first in line. It was a good thing too as it gets super busy with all the tour groups.

IMG_8846The view was awesome thanks to it being a totally clear, sunny day. I can imagine that if there was some cloud, or rain, the view wouldn’t be all that great. The one disappointing thing is that you can’t see much from the outdoor viewing deck because of the safety rails. So inside is the place to be.

IMG_8819 We decided to get a photo to remember the day.

IMG_9443I also took Nat along to Baby group one morning for coffee and cuteness overload.

IMG_8977We made cupcakes to give to a friend and to celebrate a belated birthday for Nat.

IMG_8983Luke babysat a few nights so we hit some of the nightmarkets including, Ximending:

IMG_8984Where we feasted on various ‘xiao chi’, small eats. Including, fried mushrooms, fresh mochi, and roasted corn:

IMG_8986For our dinner we stopped in a dumpling place where we had vegetarian pot-stickers and sesame paste noodles.

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One night we went out to Guting night market and got a hair wash after.

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On nice afternoon we drove up to Maokong, to our favorite teahouse, for tea,

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and snacks,

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and playtime.

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One hot afternoon, we took a short trip out to CKS Memorial.

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And to Yongkang Street for pearl milk tea,

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and mango ice.

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I treated Nat to a nice vegetarian meal as a belated birthday present.

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And of course, there was lots of Jude time.

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It was a great week and we hope Aunt Natalie will come and see us again in Taiwan!

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