Sunday, March 01, 2015

Westie with the Bestie (how's that for a cheesy title?)

Jason came up with this idea, all on his own mind you, that he would surprise me and have one of my best friends, Melissa secretly fly here. She would just show up on my doorstep then we would whisk away to Fiji for a weekend together. Is that not the best surprise ever?? It ended up getting a little bit complicated so he let me in on the secret. He totally gets major points for trying to pull it off, but it worked out better this way so that we could plan everything out. Instead of Fiji we decided to go to Sydney, but first we got to spend some time showing off a little more of the island to her. This is actually Melissa's second time coming. I told you she was an amazing friend, didn't I. She came this time last year with her husband and we snuck down to Queenstown with them for a weekend. I've loved being able to share this piece of our life with her. She's one a million, that girl. She flew in early on a Friday morning then after meeting Jason for lunch and a long nap for her, we left for the West Coast. We arrived late at night but decided to take a walk on the beach. It was so peaceful, with the waves crashing and a million stars lighting up the sky. And then we happened to shine the flashlight on the ground to discover an infestation of sand lice. We all screamed and ran around as they hopped all over our feet. Totally killed the mood. But we managed to find a clear spot where we sat and played "two truths and a lie" before winding down the night with some foosball and Foot Loose. The next morning was the Pancake Rocks. This is our third time here, so a lot of the pictures look like repeats, but I can't help my self. Can you blame me? I was just glad we had an excuse to come back so that I could bid a proper good bye to one of our favorite spots.









We parked on the side of the road while we explored a cave and when we came back the car and us all got soaked by the huge crashing waves. The west coast waves are the best.



And then there's the classic family picture where your almost four year old appears to be breast feeding. Timeless.


Much better.


We took a cave stream hike the next day, but there was no stream. Only a dry riverbed. It was still beautiful, though. We went from dry grasslands to what felt like the heart of jungle in a matter of thirty minutes.








My little explorer. Fantail birds are his specialty and can name like ten different trees.


Then a stop at our favorite little cove on Truman's Track.










The next morning we took a little walk along the river. We were surrounded by towering cliffs covered with thick trees and lush vegetation. It reminded me of Guatamala. We spent some time on the bank of the river skipping stones while soaking up the sun, the views and the good company.









Our last stop was Hokitika Gorge. Jason had come here for the Young Men's campout and knew it was worth a repeat visit. We have seen plenty of blue water here, but the deep rich color of this water even blew me away. And it was set in such a picturesque surrounding, easily becoming another South Island favorite. I just can't imagine what it would be like for those early explorers who stumbled upon the hidden gems of this island for the first time.  Mind blown.





They were filming a commercial while we were there. It was interesting to watch, especially the drone flying around filming aerial shots. The kids are convinced they're going to be in the commercial. Or at least a foot or an elbow that might have made its way into a scene. After they were done, the actors stripped down and went cliff diving. Equally entertaining, I might add.







Kylie is going to have quite the collage of "dancing around New Zealand" pictures when we get back.



It was such a memorable weekend. The thing I love about Melissa is that she fit like a glove into our family vacation. Her and Jason have such a fun relationship and she loves my kids like her own. She made for the best seventh wheel I know!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Love day


I love the holidays, I really do. I love the little details and traditions that make them special. But I'll admit, as I was cutting out 40 paper hearts at midnight to heart attack their doors and setting my alarm to wake up early to make our traditional crepe breakfast, I was wishing that maybe I hadn't loved holidays so much. I sat there with the glow of Netflix on the computer screen and the rhythmic breathing of Jason sleeping in the background, trying to think of phrases to write on their hearts. I started out with the generic "I love you!" "you're awesome!", but as I tried to put more thought into each one, I was overcome with gratitude for the opportunity I have to raise such incredible kids. For the chance I have to get to know each one of them so intimately, to know their strengths and help them with their weakness. All my thoughts came pouring out and before long I ran out of hearts, but still had so much more that I wanted to tell them. Forget the heart confetti and red balloons, this is what Valentine's Day is really about. Oh,and fondue dinners too, because, I'm kinda fond(ue) of them. Oh I'm a clever one, watch out.