Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Aunt Jessica (or as the kiwi's say,"awntie Jessica")

Having loved ones visit is the absolute best. And it's not just because they bring Lucky Charms and deodorant. It's having a piece of your home here with you. And there's nothing quite like seeing someone you love fall in love with a country that you love. Jason's sister, Jessica, just graduated with her masters degree and wanted to come here for her graduation gift. We welcomed her with open arms and a fresh lamb roast. We've anticipated her trip for several months now and we are all so excited that she is finally here. We're trying to pack in as much as possible and first up was a weekend with Jason and the two older kids to Queenstown where they toured the Milford Sound. Just looking at these pictures makes me shiver, but it looks so mysterious and ominous in the stormy weather that I can't help but be a little bit jealous that I couldn't be there with them experiencing it in person.

Jessica described it best when she said that it looked like the mountains had veins, it really is such an incredible sight to see waterfalls every where you look.

It was so windy that the waterfalls were actually blowing up the mountainside.

I mean, just look at that...

That night they took a boat tour in the snow to visit the Te Anau glow worm caves. They said it was enjoyable and relaxing to float in silence and complete darkness through caves covered in tiny glow worms that looked like stars in a night sky. They also said it was freezing.

They flew to Queenstown but then rented a car so they could see the sights on the drive home. The 7 hour drive home took more like 12 because the main road was closed due to the snow. The problem here is that there is usually only one road in and out of towns and the frequent land slides, rock falls and snow fall lead to road closures and 5 hour detours. But they made the most of it and Arrowtown was their first stop.

They also stopped at Katiki Point, it's a close contender for my favorite spot in all of New Zealand and Jessica said this were her top pick as well. The scenery and wildlife are just the perfect cocktail.

Moeraki boulders was the next and final stop. The combination of the night sky, rainfall and extraterrestrial boulders make these photos look out of this world. In the literal sense. I have to give props to Jason and Jessica for documenting their trip in such detail. Usually when I send the camera with Jason he comes back with about 3 pictures. All of the same pose. We are so glad to have Jessica here and I know the kids loved spending time with her. Being stuck in a car for three straight days can either make or break a relationship, so glad they came out on the other side with a deeper bond. And some pretty entertaining vlogs. But really, isn't she the cutest???

As much as I would have loved to join them on their road trip, I was really looking forward to spending the weekend with the little guys. And besides, we had the sun on our side. It felt like a summer day so without asking any questions we headed straight for the beach where the jackets were merely a precautionary measure. We rounded out the rest of the weekend with toys from the dollar store, the park, pizza on the balcony and staying up with Maddox watching man vs wild in my bed. It made for a pretty stellar weekend.

he was so excited to try out his "surf board"

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mother's Day

I sat perched on the edge of the tub feeding him alfredo noodles out of a plastic Ikea bowl, because it's the only way I could get him to sit still long enough to eat his dinner. And I was reminded at how physically exhausting it is to be a mom. I was also reminded of a quote that has been echoing in my mind for the past few weeks,

"And it occurs to me that maybe the reason my mother was so exhausted all the time wasn't because she was doing so much, but because she was feeling so much" (Kelly Corrigan, Glitter and Glue).

Nailed it. But those same emotions that cause me to feel every heart ache they experience, that keep me up at night worrying, questioning, doubting and second guessing are also the same emotions that allow me to love deeper and stretch farther than I have ever known was possible. And I'm grateful for all of it. And grateful for my own mother who experienced these emotions ten fold. I don't know how she did it.

Mother's day was good to me, Jason and the kids make sure of that every single year. I woke up with one boy straddling me pretending to take out my eyeballs, while another boy waved a homemade card in my face that he had kept safely hidden in his back pack and could barely contain his excitement. Blueberry pancakes followed shortly after then a day of hugs, kisses, squeezes, cards and sweet gifts from Kylie that she bought with her own birthday money. We wrapped the day up with a roast chicken dinner after church with friends, made entirely by the boys. I felt special. And grateful. And loved. And it felt real nice. These kids and that husband of mine are all a girl could ever ask for.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Life, according to Kylie

I always do a birthday interview (sometimes 6 months late, but eventually it gets done before the blurb book hits the press), but sometimes I have a hard time thinking outside the "what's your favorite color" box. So this time I straight up plagiaraized from my sister (thanks Janessa!) because she always comes up with the best questions. Besides, what good are sisters for if not to steal their clothes, eat their poptarts and copy their interview questions. And you know I couldn't possibly pick just one favorite from our photo shoot, so like I always say, if you can't choose one then choose them all. Actually, I've never said that but now that I think about it, it makes perfect sense. So here we are with the latest edition of deep thoughts brought to you by Kylie, with the accompanying 100 pictures:

What's the best thing about being 12?
Going to Young Womens

What are your favorite movies?
Hunger Games, Despicable Me, Frozen, Elf, Spiderman

If you had a day to yourself with not financial constraints, what would you do?
Wake up at a beach condo in California with the Herreras, our maids would cook us a crepe breakfast. Then we would go to Disneyland and Sea World. Then we would go on a shopping spree then get a private boat and go swimming with turtles, dolphins and sharks then go whale watching. Then we would have a bonfire at the beach and watch the sunset. And if there's time go to New York.

What are your favorite foods?
steak, bacon, beef jerky, smoothies, milkshakes and cotton candy

Who or what are your loves?
Family, dance, close friends and the gospel

If you could look into the future and learn 3 things, what would they be?
who I will marry, who my kids are and what I'll look like as a grown up
(PS-she had her own personal hair and make-up team on hand for emergency purposes)

What do you think about as you fall asleep at night?
Plan the next day, choreograph dances in my head, sing songs in my head and just random thoughts about my day.

What are your favorite books?
Hunger Games and Choose your Ever After

What do you want to be when you grow up?
Marine biologist or own my own dance studio and of course be a mom.

What's the most important thing for a 12 year old to know?
Trust your parents

What's been your favorite family vacation?
New York, California, New Zealand

What are some of your favorite things that we've done in New Zealand?
going deep sea fishing and seeing the dolphins, shark and the seal eating an octopus, the baby seals swimming in the waterfall, the beach house and seeing penguins

What are your talents?
Dancing and singing

What are your best qualities?
I stand up for people and I stand up for what I believe in. I'm thoughtful. I like to help my mom without being asked. I write nice letters. I have a strong testimony.