We're back! We have spent the last couple of weeks in New Zealand on a big family holiday. It was action-packed and so much fun. My in-laws live in New Zealand (close to Auckland) and we managed to comfortably fit 11 adults and 8 children into one house! The main purpose of our visit was to spend some time with my sister-in-law, Ashleigh before she left to serve a mission for our church in Singapore. It was so lovely to have almost all of the family together and we wish that Gemmah and Ryan and the kids could have been with us too.
So, in the first week of our holiday we did lots of family stuff - heaps of driving around to visit and say hello/goodbye to extended family. This is our second family holiday to New Zealand, and the second time that the kids and I have met with a lot of the extended family. Even though our visits are brief and busy it is so good to feel connected to these special people.
Harvey was named after Jaron's Great-Uncle Harvey. He is the kindest man, a retired school teacher who never had children of his own. He was so happy to meet baby Harvey.
Last time we were in New Zealand we didn't get to see Jaron's Nana because she was sick so it was really lovely to spend a bit of time at their house with her and Grandie. They are so sweet.
And we visited with Grandma Dorman too - she suffers with Alzheimer's disease and has a really hard time remembering who is who, but she continues smiling and laughing at herself throughout it all!
We were able to visit the New Zealand temple once again, the kids are always so excited about going to the temple and Tommy still talks about "touching Nana's temple in New Zealand!" Jaron's brother, Spenser returned from his mission to Korea early last year and this is the first time we have seen him since returning. The kids adore him, and were constantly jumping all over him and following him around. He gives them so much genuine love and attention, we are so blessed to have family who cares.
The day before Ash left for her mission, she was set apart (given a special blessing that officially calls her as a missionary.) It was a really special evening, ending in a bit of fun posing for photos!
And then she was off! We were (are) so proud of Ashleigh for making the decision to go on a mission. She is super fun and loving and friendly and I know that the people she meets over in Singapore will just love her! We all shed a few sad and happy tears at the airport and can't wait to hear all about her 18 months away.
The second week of our holiday, we did a bit of touring around and spent a bit more time hanging out with family. Our very favourite place to go was the Coromandel Peninsula, especially Hot Water Beach. We didn't realise how awesome it was going to be until we got there and didn't get to spend a great deal of time there. The Coromandel Peninsula is full of beautiful things to do and see, it is top of our list of places to stay next time we go to New Zealand. Hot Water Beach was amazing, the beach is famous for natural hot water spas. As you dig in the sand, hot water seeps up from geothermal springs and you make spas to sit in. The water is unbelievably warm and super hot in some parts that it burns you! We had a great spot close to the edge of the ocean, so we dug a channel into the ocean for the cold water to run into and cool us off a bit. Such a perfect place, if you go to New Zealand you don't want to miss it!
Another day we went for a short bushwalk in the Waitakere Ranges. The bushland was beautiful and there was an awesome gigantic frame in the middle of a paddock to take photos with - it was very cool!
And the kids favourite part of the holiday - playing with their Queensland cousins. These guys get along so well and we have been so lucky to catch up with them more frequently than usual in the last 18 months. Hopefully it won't be too long until we can see them again.Well, that's a brief photo wrap-up of our time away. New Zealand is such a lovely place to visit, I'm hoping that we get back there again before the kids passports expire! It's always good to be home, but we could have managed another week away...now we have just over a week to get ourselves organised before the kiddos are back at school!