A couple of days after Christmas Ben returned to the US, and the girls and I stayed in NZ for another 3 (full, but great) weeks. We met up with lots of family and friends and had such a great time that for the most part I forgot to take my camera along. I did manage to capture some photos of the more exciting or unusual things we did, but I’m afraid that many great conversations and cups of tea don’t feature in photographic form!
For me, the highlight of the last 3 weeks was the opportunity we got to sit down with so many people and to just get a chance to talk face to face. To spend time with family and friends — not doing anything unusual necessarily, but just enjoying each other’s company — was such a blessing.
At my parents’ house, it was so great to have many conversations and great meals together, for the kids to crawl into Oupa & Ouma’s bed early in the morning to watch kids’ TV shows, and to just spend time together. My parents had gone through a herculean effort to renovate the upstairs part of their house in time for us to be able to live up there comfortably. It was so lovely — 3 bedrooms and a bathroom all to ourselves. They even got bunk beds for the kids and special sheets and everything! Thanks again, Pappa & Mamma!
One day, my mum, the girls and I all got our hair cut. A fun way to spend a morning!
Another day we took a Sunday drive through Sumner
and then on through the Port Hills to Governor’s Bay where we stopped at She Chocolat for afternoon tea. It was probably my favorite afternoon of the whole trip (and not just because of the chocolate!).
Spending time with other family members was also a real highlight. Somehow I only got photos from the times we spent at Elrike’s house. The girls get along so well and had a real blast playing with their cousins (and I loved hanging out with Elrike!).
Bevan and Elrike have a pool, so a couple of times when the weather cooperated there were some fun times in their pool with a whole bunch of cousins and aunts joining in.
Funny thing: one morning I turn up at her place and we’re both basically wearing the same outfit. We were both wearing denim bottoms, a black and white striped shirt, and a red necklace. And no, it was not pre-arranged. We got a real kick out of that.
For cousin Erika’s belated birthday celebrations, there was a morning with cousins at Chipmunks. I had never been before — it was pretty fun! The place is all padded so you basically let the kids loose and check on them every now and then to see that they haven’t broken their necks yet. For the rest of the time you sit and chat and drink coffee. Or something like that. :-)
To finish off the series of posts on our trip to New Zealand, I’ll share a couple of photos with you that I got to take in the cockpit of the big plane that flew us from NZ to Houston. The cabin crew are usually happy for you to see and photograph your kids in the cockpit. But argh, I was fumbling around with the camera and didn’t use the right settings, so these didn’t turn out so good.
Just look how these kids have grown since the last time I flew alone with them in 2012!
We had a long lay-over in Houston, so we didn’t feel rushed to get from one terminal to the next, which was great. It also kept the stress levels low when the immigration line took about an hour to get through — there are perks to long lay-overs!
The trip flying back was overall a good one. Saying goodbye is always hard. Marica and I were struggling to keep it together after waving goodbye to everyone, but Esther and Laurelin were super excited to go on the plane again and to see Ben! So the tears got wiped, shoulders got squared and we got on with the business of flying. The flight to Auckland is always such a nice short flight and I find the walk between the terminals refreshing. We had a good amount of time — not too little, not too much before we caught our next flight. For that one, we had the luxury of booking a skycouch (a row of 3 seats that have a flap by the feet that can lift up and form a sort of bed), and the seat next to me across the aisle was empty too, so the kids were all able to lie down and sleep for a good long time on the flight from Auckland to Houston. Thankfully they were able to sleep through the ratbag boy a couple of rows in front of us who screamed at the top of his lungs for half an hour at a time, a few times… but I couldn’t quite do it. I gave the lady some Benadryl (she said she was so desperate for it she’d buy it from me, ha!), but I’m not sure it helped. I felt really bad for them. By the time we got on the plane to Newark, we were all so exhausted I think we were all asleep before take-off! Which meant, of course, that by the time we arrived home around midnight, we wanted some dinner and weren’t particularly tired. In our experience, jet-lag going to New Zealand is almost non-existent. Coming here, though, it takes about 2 weeks to fully recover from. I always say it takes that long for my soul to reconnect with my body — I just don’t feel like myself for a while! Maybe bodies weren’t made to travel so fast. :-) I’m thankful for it, though! It makes a trip home so much more do-able than if we had to spend 2 months on a boat to get there.
Thanks again, all you NZ folks, for making our time back home so special. We loved seeing all of you!