Friday, October 29, 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

3rd Annual Halloween Party

I was overly ambitious (read-insane), hosting a kids Halloween party three days after returning to Manila after our vacation in New Zealand. Still jet lagged and needing a moment alone after nine straight days of holding my 25 lb daughter; I was throwing a party. The invitations went out to all of Addie's classmates before we left for New Zealand so the party was definitely on. I pulled myself together and pulled the party together and onward it went.

We had 17 kids as well as plenty of Moms and Yayas. The cupcakes were divine. Probably the best I've ever made. Addie made the ghosts for the lolly pops mostly all by herself. The party goers decorated pumpkin and ghost shaped sugar cookies and played. We attempted a marshmallow bobbing game with straws that turned out to be a little too complicated for the kids. It was still fun though. The only casualty of the party was our little fairy painted wooden table. Byproduct of the 11 boys 3 girls ratio of her preschool class. Ah well. That's how the cookie crumbles.Arabella is not too thrilled with costumes other than her diaper and a tutu so we improvised. Addie on the other hand couldn't wait to wear her kitty cat princess costume.Our ghosts hung with prideThe sprinkle line-upBella had playmates her age since two of Addie's friends have younger siblings.Arabella was a Baltimore Raven by the end of the partyWe even got some of the kids to stand for a group shot and in chorus sing "cheeeeeeese"Bella wasn't thrilled another child was playing with her shapes. She kept challenging him. It was a great party and Adelaide was a sweet little host. She greeted everyone at the door and said thank you for coming as they left. When all her friends had gone she was plum tuckered out. "Did you have fun?" I asked her. "Yes" she replied "That party was too fast, can we do it again?" Lucky for her we have two more Halloween parties this week to attend.

Moeraki boulders and Fleur's

Saturday we drove to the Otago coast to Koekohe beach to see the Moeraki boulders. They are spherical and huge. I don't completely understand their formation, only that they are embedded in the earth and after tidal erosion they gradually surface. The beach was gorgeous and the girls were not happy that we stopped only long enough to play for 15 minutes before we had to get to our lunch reservations at Fleur'sMy cousin Isaac, who lives in Wellington, flew to Dunedin for the weekend to spend time with his parents and us. We were really grateful to see him. The girls, especially Bella, decided Isaac was cool because he got down and played string-the-beads with her.Fleur's Place is a food destination in New Zealand. People from around the world visit Moeraki just to eat at this little fishing village's main attraction. The fish was fresh and cooked and sauced to perfection. Arabella wanted nothing to do with sitting down for another meal with the "grown ups" while such a gorgeous garden lay just outside. Addie didn't either but she's old enough to reason with. Bella on the other hand is beyond reason. I sat with her outside while she plucked the tiny white daisies from the grass and stacked the pebbles on the bricks. I was irritated until my husband brought me my glass of New Zealand pinot gris. After a glass of wine on an empty stomach I was laughing with my youngest daughter and stacking the pebbles right along with her. It was hard to keep a frown on my face is such a beautiful location; especially knowing how lucky I was to be letting my world renowned meal in Moeraki, NZ get cold on account of having a busy toddler. Seriously, this place is enchanting. It felt like the end of the earth. Enchanting enough that I might have bought a little fishing boat and moved my family to Moeraki right then and there. Maybe it was the wine, maybe it was the sunshine, maybe it was the delicious food and folk music pouring out from the unpretentious restaurant. Fleur's Place is a million light years away from Manila, Philippines, it was exactly where I wanted to be at that moment. After our lunch we drove back to a pretty little beach so the girls could get the wiggles out and play in the sand. New Zealand just kept getting better and better. Glacial lakes-they got it. Green rolling hills-they got it. Beaches-they got it. All within a few hours drive. The Kiwi's should be keeping their gorgeous country a secret so the rest of humanity doesn't come and wreck it all. Bella with a game of cricket in the background

Queenstown, NZ

Wednesday afternoon we debated driving to Queenstown the following day. It's always a debate about whether our munchkins can handle the car ride v. how awesome the destination will be. The we-are-only-in-NZ-a-week side won and we decided to take the chance and push the girls a little out of their comfort zone for the four and a half hour drive north east to Queenstown. Instead of making it a day trip, we booked a hotel room for the night. Best decision we've ever made.

Queenstown is hands down the most beautiful place I've ever been in my life. The girls did pretty well on the drive and Arabella even slept for almost two hours. In her car seat. Miracles do happen. We stopped twice for scenic photo ops and once for a lunch break. We arrived at about 2PM after the most beautiful winding drive. I brought a few magazines to read in the car but the country is just too gorgeous not to stare out the car windows in awe.The driver-I like to stare at him too!Scenic overlook on the driveThrough the car window-no jokeWe checked into our hotel room and then took a walk back to the main street and boardwalk area of the town. Bella didn't quite understand why she couldn't wade in the lake. She still had to touch the water.After a light dinner for the girls at a very un-kid friendly pub and promise ice cream for good behavior on the car ride;some duck chasing, we hiked it a few blocks uphill to the gondola ride. The girls loved it! Phenomenal views. There were lots of international flags on the walls as you exited the gondola. Proud American girls. Dinner for my husband and I occurred in the hallway of our hotel. The room service delivery gal looked at me funny when I told her we'd take the meal right here in the hallway. That's where we sat, half asleep ourselves, while the girls slept in the room, and ate our mediocre room service hotel food and read New Zealand's version of US Weekly. Not ideal but it was easy to overlook after an afternoon in beauty.

The next morning we hit the park and walked some more lingering in the beautiful views of the glacial lakes and snow capped mountains. Every chance I got I asked people to snap a family photo of us. I'm bound and determined to get a good shot of us for the Christmas card this year. Mark my words, you will be getting Christmas greetings from us smiling in NZ.

One of the rejectsAdelaide was allowed to choose a souvenier at the shop at the top of the gondola. There were loads and loads of stuffed sheep. She picked the one lone sheep dog. She's a dog lover at heart. She named her Pi. Pi meet a real sheep dog.More duck feeding.Another rejectHow could we pass this shot up?Gearing up for the ride back to Dunedin