Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Road Trip to the Hamilton Temple, Huka Falls, and Lake Taupo

(I'm writing this in January of 2017, so the details are a bit fuzzy...)

Matt took a couple of days off for us to take a 7-hour drive up to Hamilton to go to the temple there. Our stake had gone up several weeks before, but we were unable to attend because of Matt's work schedule, so we had our own temple trip. We left Thursday, 19 November around 10am, at almost the exact moment that my sister-in-law went to the hospital to have her third child. That definitely added some excitement to the drive for me! And of course, there was very beautiful scenery along the way.

We passed Mt Doom from the Lord of the Rings along the way, which is actually Mt Ngauruhoe in Tongariro National Park.
We stopped to walk around and probably change a diaper...

 Matt doesn't like getting his picture taken...
We arrived in Hamilton late Thursday night and had dinner at the hotel.

Matt and I took turns going to the temple during the day on Friday.

The kids spent the whole day at an indoor playground called Chipmunks because it was raining most of the day. Then in the late afternoon, we dropped the kids off at a woman's house who is a member of the Church in the area. When we visited New Zealand in 2014, Jodi volunteered to watch our kids for us, so I found her phone number and asked if she could watch them for us again and she was willing! She has a son named Matt and a daughter named Becky which was pretty funny, and Becky loved helping out and asked to always be our babysitter when we went to the temple. The kids had a wonderful time and ate more dinner at their house than they usually do for me.

On Saturday we started driving back home. We stopped at Huka Falls, which was so beautiful! Huka is the Maori word for foam. The river is normally 100 meters wide and then has to go through this canyon which is 15 meters wide, so the water is flowing really fast.
 Scotty took this pictures of Matt and me:

There was a misunderstanding... Bobby thought we would be swimming in the waterfall. This may sound ridiculous, but we did actually swim in a waterfall in Laos several months before this, so it seemed like a legitimate possibility in his mind. We had also gone to China a while before this, where we did not swim, not even once in the 9 days we were there, so he kept saying through his sobs, "First we don't swim in China, now we don't swim in New Zealand..." Poor kid. But if we let him swim in this waterfall, he would have surely died, so...

Marie loved this rock. She spent a long time sitting on it and it took several minutes to convince her she could not live here, but needed to walk back to the van eventually.
Bobby being a good big brother
We also stopped in Taupo for lunch. Matt took the boys swimming at a pool there while I sat in the car with a napping Marie. I was starting to get a cold or something and didn't feel up to swimming. I drove around until Marie fell asleep and the parked at the shore of Lake Taupo and watched the waves gently hit the rocks. It was very peaceful.
We spent the night in Turangi, at the southern tip of Lake Taupo. Then we woke up early so we could go to church at the smallest branch I think I have ever attended, so they were very happy to have us, and we were exceptionally conscious of how loud our children are. We got home Sunday night and went to sleep and thus ends our first New Zealand road trip.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Box-Trolls and a Butterfly

A few days before Halloween, there was a Relief Society activity where we learned about decorating cakes. I thought it was unlikely that the cake provided would be gluten-free, so I made a cake to bring to the activity. We didn't get very far with the decorating part on that night, we only learned the basics about making the cake flat and smooth and how to make really good chocolate frosting. When I got home I had a plain, frosted cake and had the decorating itch, so I stayed up till 11pm making this:

Halloween is not a big deal in New Zealand... yet? I think the popularity grows each year. There wasn't a lot of trick-or-treating in our neighborhood, but we heard it was better in others. One of Matt's co-workers who has 5 kids lives in such a neighborhood, so I kind of invited our family over to their house for Halloween dinner (and brought my cake) and then we did some trick-or-treating. We went for about an hour to 25 houses, 15 of which answered. A few houses had signs that said they were not participating in trick-or-treating. I'm still glad we did it, if only to get together with our new friends, and give my kids a taste of what trick-or-treating is all about.

I found this super cute costume for Marie and had these cute little crocs sandals we inherited from an American friend we knew in Laos.
 I love her little antennae! The outfit came with a headband, but she wouldn't keep it on and it then it also broke. But I think this is cuter anyway.
 The boys had several suggestions for their costumes, but I admit to steering them toward this one. They had watched the movie Box-Trolls several times in our journey from Laos to New Zealand, and since we were surrounded by boxes at home, it felt quite fitting, and cost-effective! Scott is Shoe, and Bobby is Fish. We tried to get them to pop out of their boxes to trick-or-treat. We failed probably 4 or 5 times, but then they finally did it and we gave one house a nice little scare. Golden.

I hope Scott's not too old to trick-or-treat by the time we make it back to America, because it would be a shame to miss out on that experience. Not the end of the world, but since Halloween has been one of my favorite holiday since childhood, I'd like him to experience it, too. It was a fun night!

Scott also had a Halloween-themed Disco the following Friday night and he dressed up as a ninja using one of my t-shirts and a gi we bought for him in Xi'an, China. I thought he looked pretty awesome.

 (I did end up tying the t-shirt on a little differently since it kept falling off.)