Wednesday, March 30, 2011

All of this blesses me

March 8, 2011 - A bright and white Tuesday, I picked one of my baby brothers up from the SLC airport. We only had 24 hours together before I was to drop him off at the MTC, so we packed it to the MAX!

Carl Smith, second to youngest in my family of 13 kids. Called to serve in New York, New York, Spanish speaking. Our first stop was to the Salt Lake Temple. Truly a joy and a blessing to be able to take him through. It will forever be a treasured memory.

Couldn't leave Salt Lake without stopping by sweet little ol Nana's, queen of celebrating holidays. I love her homemade green March kites on the tree.

Those kites are just the beginning. Welcome to emerald city - Nana's kitchen.

Carl, Nana and Papa. We couldn't stay long because I had planned a little party back at home.

Carl and Julia - a sweet friend who lives in town and was able to make it

Uncle Richard and Aunt Kathy (whom he picked up on his mission to Australia).

Cousins Carrie and Kait

Cousins Paul and Rachel

Brother James and Family

Ending with us. We had a potluck dinner topped off with New York cheesecake then we all sat in a circle, each of us taking a turn to gift Carl with our happiest memories with him and positive words of advise.

Bella happily showing Carl her new New York t-shirt.

Me and Carl

After everyone was gone Carl read the kids some bedtime stories.

And then was up bright and early to say one last goodbye to Bella and Jarom. Heartbreaking. Carl is the greatest uncle ever.

Last goodbye kiss

Saying goodbye is no easy task. I thought I was ready for it. But there were no words I could come up with that say goodbye for two years. I love you and I'll miss you. I know he will be great and I couldn't be more proud of him.

Fortunately, Orion had a birthday to keep me from staying sad.

My happy little guy for months insisted we look at the cakes every time we went to Costco. Today was his lucky day. No question about it. He wanted that rainbow cake. And of course he needed to add the Spidey toys.

We needed to go tubing one last time ...

throw a couple of snow balls

cry because our hands are cold

but mostly

to be glad

we get to spend some time together

Evie, Naomi and Bella at our local library's highly acclaimed Fairy Tea Party. It was so cute. But the best part was the surprise mini family reunion.

Sister-in-law Steph and my great aunt Emma-Jean.

My aunt Cinny and cousin Heather

One delicious fairy feast to eat while watching fairy ballerinas dance

Bella and Evie with the fairy court

One last surprise - my dad's cousin now works at the Provo Library!!

That same night was one of our very favorite events that is put on in Provo - Bowls for Humanity, hosted by the great Food and Care Coalition. We have blogged about it a couple times already. The event has become everyone's favorite. I don't blame them - you get to choose your own bowl (to keep), made by a local artist, and they fill it up with belly-warming soup. All proceeds go to feed the hungry. Its a win-win-win, happy time for everyone. This was the first year we actually didn't get the food there. It was too crazy packed. We could not leave empty-handed though. Matt and the kids fell in love with a few items that we were able to buy, bypassing the very long food line. Matt's new teardrop curved trailer dish holds our bananas perfectly. :)

Backwards day at school

Family night at Classic Skating

National Pancake Day!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Kia ora

Hello, or "g'day"

Day 8: Taupo to Rotorua

Waking up to sunshine, birds chirping, the smell of flowers. Before leaving Taupo we decided to tour it by bike. We were able to rent them for cheap right from our Rainbow Lodge.

Yes - we had to wear the dorky helmets. Safety first.

We passed gardens


fishy grates

But none of things prepared us for the beauty of Taupo Lake, the biggest in the country.

Riding just a small portion of the lake before we detoured to the city for some breakfast.

It was Friday here but Thursday back home, which was Thanksgiving for our family. This waffle topped with ice cream was as close as we were going to get to pumpkin pie a la mode.

back to where we started

Over the thundering Huka Falls and its narrow gorge

Found another honey shop -- The Honey Hive, filled to the brim with anything honey you can imagine. Even honey ice cream.

Not letting a morsel go to waste

Just the perfect day to drive around and stop wherever we wanted. We grew very attached to our little home on wheels.

Craters of the Moon. Viewed under the shifting clouds, the bright sunlight made a natural kaleidoscope over an already otherworldly patch of earth.

Taking my time to fill up my senses in this thermal wonderland

Hauntingly impressive

Popping mud

Made it to Rotorua just in time to catch a bus to dinner and a show at Mitai Village

Basically, the only way to see any Maori culture is to go to a hangi - which is like a luau in Hawaii. And this is the only picture I have of the feast. Matt eating a cracker before the show.

The show was actually very entertaining and informative. There are a few in the area but we heard this one was the best and we were able to book it with a room and a kiwi encounter at Rainbow Springs (nextdoor). I had been dying to finally meet one.

Whale Rider in real life

Tons of chanting/singing

The food being lifted from the ground - it cooks all day long.

The moment you have all been waiting for!!! My kiwi. This is really the best photo we got. I know it's hard to see but if you click on the photo and look right to the right of the rock you can see a little black eye and a long beak, like as long as those blades of grass but not green. They are truly the cutest roundest roly-poly birds ever. We even got separated from our tour, I couldn't bear to leave them. Actually I was so enamored with them I didn't know I got left behind.

This fella (a moa) inspired the movie Up. But back in the day they just knew this great bird could provide a whole lot of meat for the family not knowing they only reproduce every four years.

Our great package deal came with bunkbeds and two roommates. We were rocked to sleep by the sound of a rave going on beneath us. Every hour I woke to turn (which you have to do when sharing a bunkbed) the music and party was still going strong. It wasn't until my last shift of slumber when you can no longer see stars and the sky has turned to periwinkle that I noticed the music finally had stopped.
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 -- more NZ 2010 --
Pre-trip preparation
Day 1: Auckland
Day 2: Orewa to Paihia
Day 3: Paihia to Kaitaia
Day 4: Ninety Mile Beach to Rawene
Day 5: Rawene to Hamilton
Day 6: Hamilton to National Park
Day 7: Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Day 8: Taupo to Rotorua
Day 9: Rotorua
Day 10: Thames to Hahei
Day 11: Coromandel