Sunday, April 24, 2011


We had a great Easter weekend. I didn't have to work and we got to spend a lot of time with family and just hanging out at home. Yesterday my mom and I went shopping in Tri-Cities while Kevin studied and my dad hung out with Isak at my house. Lucy tagged along with me for a girls morning out shopping which she Loved. I had to try some dresses on her to see what size she was and she was twirling in the mirror and talking to herself. At one point we found a three way mirror and she was talking to each "Lucy" in the mirror. She was quite fascinated. We had Easter dinner with my parents and brother last night and today we celebrated with Kevin's dad who came over for BBQ and the first watermelon of the season.

We usually don't make Easter huge deal in our house, its pretty commercialized already, but I think a little Easter basket is fun and the kids each got some treats with a toy. Well, some of the "toys" were things I picked up in New Zealand and just saved to give to the kids. Isak has been really into board games lately and I picked up this cute fishing one for pretty cheap at Target. Its much more his age than the Risk game he has been "playing" lately or rather playing battle with the little guys.Lucy was the first one awake and she woke up pretty early and had gone to bed pretty late the night before. In fact, she had fallen asleep in the car and apparently we forgot to take off her sandals when we laid her down. So, excuse her crazy hair and slightly less than excited expression. We got her this cute Kiwi backpack in New Zealand with some dollar store polka dot morracas. I love the backpack, it even has little feet.This was the first year I actually tried to dress the kids nice for Easter and got Lucy an actual Easter dress. The dress is huge on her, its a 4T, but they didn't have a 3T and as long as I tied it tight, it fit fine. I got Isaks shirt and sweater last July in Michigan at a consignment store. Her dress just made it hard to grab her during church while she was climbing on all the benches, too much skirt. Don't they clean up nice? When their faces are washed, hair brushed, and shoes and socks are both on? It doesn't happen too often, which is why I have to document this occasion.

I found the bunny ears from last year and Lucy sported them tonight, she was quite excited. Tonight we had our home evening for the week and told the story of Christ's death and resurrection and showed a short video for the kids. Isak was actually pretty focused and asked questions. I know he probably wont remember any of it a week from now, but maybe something is sticking. Anyway, it was a nice relaxing weekend and we also got a lawn mower so we will no longer have the longest grass on the block. One good thing about the dirt lawn last summer, we never had to mow it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

So, back to life as normal now. Kevin is studying every night late for up his upcoming CPA exam and I am busy trying to get our garden in while keeping Lucy from digging up all my seeds. Forget birds, the two year old is way more of a threat to my little plants! So last week my good friend Katie Reese, formerly Jensen, who now resides in North Carolina was in Washington for a visit. I haven't seen her in over 5 years and was so excited to catch up. Since Crystal also lives conveniently in the same town, we all got together for a mini-reunion with our kiddos. We were such good friends in high school and have managed to stay in touch pretty well. Katie now has a super adorable little boy, Kaden, who is 8 months. And who Lucy felt a need to torment by repeatedly taking his binkie and then trying to shove it back in his mouth backwards.

This was our attempt at a picture of all our kids together. We graduated 9 years ago, who would've thought this would be what our little offspring would look like?

From left to right: Lucy (2), Isak (3 1/2), Livy (3), Kaden (8 months), and Aubrey (5 1/2).

Dang we have some cute babies! Katie lives close to the beach and I think Crystal and I need to take a vacation down there while our hubbies spend a quality weekend with our kiddos. Livy was feeling less than cooperative with the picture, but she belongs to Crystal :). I love that being close to where I grew up I get to see friends from high school every so often. Now if I could just convince some family in the way of siblings and sibling in laws to move closer, I would be set forever.

Its been nice to be home and back in our routine. Isak likes to tell me that he is "so glad you came back from New Zealand" and that he loves to be back at his house. He told Kevin yesterday, "I am made up of bones. Yep. I shoot them out of my eyes when fighting my enemies". Today he told me, "Mom, it smells like human food. It doesn't smell like boy food". Funny kid.

We got our kids some sheep skins while in New Zealand which I have reserved for special occasions only with no food, drink, or stinky hands nearby. Lucy was pretty excited.
Saturday we had an Easter egg hunt at a friends house here with a bunch of kids. Isak and Lucy were pretty excited, I recycled our pumpkin from Halloween and Isak used the actual Easter basker. I think Lucy was more into it than Isak was, after he found about 10 eggs he just wanted to play on the equipment. Lucy was really mad she had to wait to go find eggs, she kept trying to run into the backyard ahead of all the kids. I have a friend who had a good idea about teaching kids about Easter that I copied. In the Friend this month there was an activity about the 8 days prior to Easter and what Christ did each day. I printed them out and stuck them each in a balloon with some jellybeans then numbered the balloons 1-8. Each day we pop one and read what happened. I'm not sure my kids get it at all but its a start at least.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


We spent some time out in Hamilton, where Kevin spent 20 months of his mission. The beach above was Raglan, a little surf town about 45 mins outside Hamilton. They sell awesome leather sandals there at a little shop called Heart and Soul. Kevin has had two pairs of sandals from there since he served his mission there and they last forever. The beach there was gorgeous, the road out there was rather trecherous and very very windy.

While out in Hamilton, we had the opportunity to stay with some families Kevin knew there on his mission. Below, is Amanda and her daughters Kendall, Choree, and her husband Jeffrey. Kevin knew Amanda when Kendall was about 3 or 4 and now she is 13! They live out on a dairy farm in a little town right outside Hamilton. It was so fun to meet the people that I have always heard Kevin talk so highly of. They were so friendly and made us feel so welcome. Unfortunately I am dumb and didn't get a picture of Raina and her family that we also stayed with for a few days.

Kendall really wants to come visit us now in Washington, in "America". We tried to convince her mom how great it would be for her to come work on a dairy farm in America for a summer... Below is Choree and her cousin Makiah..she was seriously cute. About 20 months with the cutest belly I have ever seen on a baby. I just wanted to rub it for luck. All of us trying to squeeze in for a picture, not the greastest, but at least we all got in one!
The temple in New Zealand is in Hamilton. We got a chance to go do a session while we were there and it was beautiful. We also got to go the visitors center there and see several church videos that I had never seen before and visit with some missionaries.
I loved being able to go running in the mornings around the temple grounds. It was so pretty! Also in Hamilton, there are these very awesome gardens that represent different areas in the world. Below is an Italian garden that was filled with lemon trees.

I really don't remember what they all represented. I just remember there were a whole lot of them, and they were amazing.

I was pretty fascinated by the bamboo trees that grow all over New Zealand. It was all over in Paihia and I found it again at this garden in Hamilton. So Cool!

The national soft drink of New Zeland is Lemon and Paeroa, Lemon for the taste and Paeroa for the town where it was discovered. We traveled up to the coramandel peninsula while we were there and the town of Paeroa was along the way. Had to take a picture with the giant L&P bottle! I tried some while I was there and its actually not too bad. Its slogan is, "Give it your all....most". Kind of funny, its like the national slogan of mediocrity.
We went up to the Coramandel Peninsula because we had heard about this place called Hot Water Beach. There are these natural hot springs on the beach right by the ocean. You can rent a shovel (or just take someone else's spot if your cheap like us) and dig a hole to lay in. You have to bring a bucket to haul cool water into the hole so it doesn't get too hot.

It was pretty awesome. I think I could've sat in my little hole of hot water all day long. We were pretty close to the spring and it was getting pretty toasty on my toes or I might have.

I thought the other mountain roads in New Zealand were bad, the ones up to Coramandel were by far the worse. There were even mirrors for trucks on the roads so they could see if there were oncoming cars before they completed a turn. Talk about hairpin turns, I thought we were going to die!

We spent the last few days in New Zealand in Auckland. Above is the pier in Auckland. It also happened to be my birthday while in Auckland and we celebrated by eating on top of the sky tower. It is apparently the highest structure in the southern hemisphere and the top does one full rotation every hour.
Apparently New Zealand has become the hot spot to visit for reality shows, just this week I saw the biggest loser contestants jumping off the sky tower and then I discovered Kate Gosselin and her kids also did the same. Crazy. After the sky swing experience I flat out refused to do anything more with heights. We had an incredible time, totally worth the 13 hour plane ride there and back and missing my kids for 2 weeks. Who, by the way, were totally and 100% find and not scarred at all from the experience. I thouht we were going to have some major clinginess/insecurity issues and they were completely fine! Not so sure about our parents, but the kids were doing great! I don't think I will ever be gone for that long again while I have little babies but I'm so glad we did it once. And who knows? Maybe someday we will make it back there. I can only hope.

Monday, April 11, 2011


So I should back up a bit. Kevin served in the Auckland, New Zealand mission 10 years ago which is why we decided to go back and visit. We have wanted to do this ever since we got married and Kevin has managed to stay in touch with a few people. Since we live conveniently near both sets of grandparents and Lucy is now 2, we decided it was now or never. We started saving a few years ago and just decided to do it. It seems things like this you either make happen or they pass you by so we decided to jump. It still doesn't seem like we really went there. Anyway, after Paihia we made our drive to Rotorua, it was about 5 hours and the longest car ride we had. Since the scenery was all new to me, I didn't care and we took our time meandering through the countryside.
We passed by this awesome tourist attraction in construction, a pre-european Maori village that will open this summer. It was near a museum that we stopped and talked to some of the workers. We found a lady there who was LDS and discussed with us the growth of church in NZ in the past 10 years. I honestly couldn't understand a lot of what she was saying do to her thick accent and use of Maori words thrown in here and there, but Kevin later translated for me.
There were some pretty awesome road signs in New Zealand. Above, this was on the very windy 2 land road coming out of Paihia. It reads, "High Crash Rate". I thought, "shouldn't that read Road Closed??". The roads there are kind of scary, a lot of blind curves. Below, their yield signs read "Give Way". There are way more of these then stop signs, which is nice and much faster. I also saw a sign that was a yellow diamond that read "Aged Persons". I was so mad I never got a picture of one, they were hilarious.
Kevin and I went to the Hells Gate Spa in Rotorua when we got there. There is tons of geothermic activity in the area and there is even a steaming park in the middle of town with all this bubbling sulfur. Anyway, first up on our little spa trip we got to go for a walk through all this geothermal area.

It reminded me quite a bit of Yellowstone, except, there was a hot water waterfall there. The largest in the southern hemisphere, apparently.

This was a mud volcano that apparently erupts up to a 5 foot diameter. This little fence is definitely within 5 feet, which could make a person a bit nervous.
Anyway, we got to go rub stinky mud on ourselves, sit in a very hot sulfur pool, then got awesome massages. They shuttled us home in a mini-van, that also contained 4 workers that they dropped off on our way home. It was pretty funny...and very much New Zealand culture.
We went to the agrodome in Rotorua as well which contains several hundred sheep. You can tour the farm sites, watch them get sheared, etc. We got to see them call out the sheep dog and watch it herd the sheep into a pen. Very exciting. Above kevin is standing with a very tall fiberglass sheep. Across the way, we tried our hand at Zorbing, a lovely little activity invented who knows when, that involves you getting instead an essential hamster ball and rolling down a hill. We opted to do wet zorbing, which you do in your swim suit and they weight down the ball with water, so you don't actually flip over, although you feel like you do. This was the track we went down. It was fun, but it was a pretty short ride. I'm not sure I would do it again, but I'm glad I did it once.

Kevin and I also went to Skyline, this lovely place that we took a Gondola ride to the top of a very large hill and then scootered down on these lovely things. It was so much fun! We went down 3 times, once down each course. Above is the gorgeous view we had from the top, that's Lake Rotorua in the distance.

Alright, I will save the best for last here. We bought our tickets for Skyline in a package, that included a ride on the "sky swing". I didn't really know what it was, it sounded harmless enough. We saved it for last, which turned out to be a good thing. A little alarm went off in my head when the 5 point harness then the 2nd seat belt clicked into place. The lady clicking me into place, muttered somthing about "make sure you are clicked in on the way, that would be a big mess" . That's when the panic set in. She pointed out the release pull that we were to pull to "release" ourselves at the top. Then we were elevated very, very high in the air, facing the ground. On this little journey, I had some words with my dear husband about exactly what I thought of this little adventure. Little did I know, there was a camera recording the whole thing. I HATE rides like this and I wanted nothing more than to get down, but at that point, there is only one way down. So I shut my eyes and Kevin pulled the cord. I felt my heart drop through my toes as I slingshotted (is that a word?) out over the hill. Apparently we went 150km/hr in 2 seconds. NOT FUN. But oh don't worry, my cute little husband bought that DVD that was conveniently for sale when we were done, so I can relive it again and again. Oh and so he can show my rantings to everyone we know. Would've been so great if he would have mentioned to me that there was a camera above my head...I may have chosen some different words :).This is already too long. Rotorua was packed full of stuff we did. I'll talk about the Tamaki village and buried village and whaka in another post. Betcha you can't wait.