29 September 2014

[talk: Saying Hello. Saying Goodbye.]

** as a little disclaimer - I'm not sure why these uploaded images look so different from the actual images.  Their colouring is off - the black and whites look "sepia" and the clarity of some are poor. I've uploaded and reuploaded ... trying different sizes, different ways of getting them on the blog.  Nothing's working ... so strange??  Maybe b/c I'm in NZ??  Dunno ... but - for now - this will have to do.  xx  **

At 230am New Zealand time, the airline steward woke me up to ask if I wanted "eggs" or "fruit" for breakfast.  I looked out my window - it was definitely night.   I stretched ... and ordered eggs.

An early breakfast, to say the least - but realizing that I would be landing in less than a few hours ... it kinda made sense.  

I landed in Auckland,  just before 5am.  It was dark.  It was cold ... and the toilet overflowed in the airport bathroom ... but that's a different story *ugh*.

When I walked out of customs - my parents greeted me, along with my cousin Nick and his bride-to-be, Amy.  I was SO excited to see them all.  But within a few moments, my mom lead me aside and told me that Uncle Mike had taken a turn for the worse.  They were giving him only days to live.

As I tried to process that ... we headed to our hotel in downtown Auckland.  Nick and Amy stayed for a VERY early breakfast ... and I then had a much needed nap. 

The plan was to meet at my cousins, Vic + Ruth's place, for brunch.  Vic and Ruth know how to put on LOVELY breakfasts ... and more cousins would be showing up to meet.

Auntie Mary was doing so well - considering all that was going on with Uncle Mike.  See, Uncle Mike had been battling Alzheimer's disease for a very, very long time.  He had been in a home for the last three years, after Auntie Mary doing all she could for years prior to that.

She was able to enjoy her family, despite all that was going on.

My mom took this one of Ruth and I.  Not bad, mom *grin*!!

And it just kept getting better - with a suprise Skype visit with my cousins Michael and Bronny who live in San Franscisco ... 

Breakfast was HUGE.  Fruit, yogurt ... and pancakes that Vic suggested I put Hokey Pokey ice-cream in and roll up.  UM PARDON??  If you know me - you'll know that ice cream is my love language ... my "clean eating" would be put on hold while I downed a pancake.  Or two.

Jono and Geneva arrived ... I had been so excited to see them.  I wasn't sure what to expect after his near-fatal car accident ... but man oh man.  He was awesome.  I was SO pumped.  And Geneva ... well, she's my hero.

David and Katie came too ... love those two so much.

We did a little Facetiming with my hubby ... always a good laugh then.

But after some great food and conversation, it was time for us to all pack up.  Uncle Mike was still unconscious, and the doctors were saying that he would probably pass by the next morning or so.  This was going to be tough.

This had been such a long journey and the fact that almost everyone was there, was a miracle in itself.   Not exactly how I had thought my first day would be - but so thankful to have been able to be here.

Auntie Mary asked respectfully asked for no photos of Uncle Mike's face.

The home decided to let Uncle Mike be wheeled out of his room - as there were now too many of us. So we went to the lounge, and the keyboard was brought out.

I was tired - and battling a chest cough (still am *cough cough*) - but they asked if I would lead some worship songs.  I have a very talented family - full of musicians and artists ... I was honoured to be asked.  Their voices lead - and I followed along.

Then, my cousin Christine lead as well ...

After so many songs, many tears and breaking voices ... we started telling "fun" Uncle Mike stories.  And there were so many great ones ... 

I cannot describe the feeling in that room.  Peaceful.  Loving.  I don't really know ... but I know that God was there with us.  And that overwhelming feeling of "family" overtook me.

Ben, Julia and the kids arrived ... the last of those who were able to come.  And within about 10minutes, Uncle Mike passed as we all sang "Great Is Thy Faithfulness".  It was like he had waited. He was gracious, right 'til the end.

I never took any photos after he passed.  We were all too busy loving on each other - just amazed that we had all been there together ...

After some talk, we decided to head back to Vic and Ruth's place - order some yummy Thai food - and start talking about some of the arrangements that would be needed to be done.

Again, so peaceful and organized.  Everyone respecting each other's voices and thoughts.  This group was really making the very best out of a very difficult time.

Time for another "FaceTime" with my hubby *grin* ...

We were all exhausted.

And THAT was my very first day in NZ.  Yesterday - I took three iPhone pics *grin*.  Today - I'm off to Devonport with Nick and Amy ... and more family too.  Then, another cousin's dinner at Robert and Christine's place ... I LOVE THIS PLACE.  I LOVE THESE PEOPLE.


22 September 2014

[talk: A Frozen Birthday Party.]

Turning five is a BIG deal.  Well - at least we tried to make it feel that way.  KRose turned five last month, and I had failed to put her party together.  So - with a slight panic - I made the necessary arrangements.

She had just one request:  that a REAL-LIVE princess would come.

Oh.  Boy.

Good thing that I know someone who actually does this for a living.  I emailed Alyssa, and within a few short conversations, we had it booked.  BOOM.

Ok - so Katia actually had two requests, now that I'm thinking about it.  She also wanted to have her friends all be in her backyard for a picnic.  Well - that wasn't possible with the weather uncertainty - but, we DO have a tent in the backyard.


I did a much-needed stop at Party On ... the ONLY place I get my party supplies from.   Balloons, tied to bubbles - for each little girl's party favour.  And all the Frozen things I could manage.

Yes, I got the ladder ... and strung snowflakes from the metal poles LOL.

Olaf, the balloon man, came too.

I wanted the little girls to "walk through icicles" when they came in.  It looks much cooler than it actually was, in this photo.  It wasn't nearly wide enough - as it got stuffy in the tent with the humidity and I had to open the entrance more.


There's the cake ... you can see more on that HERE.

And I made use of some doilies that I thought would be snowflakes - instead, they became placemats.  I liked that a lot better - less ladder-work LOL.

This was an after-school-before-dinner party.  Perfect.  Some snacks of pretzels, marshmallows and candy corn (do you wanna build a snowman??) ... blue popcorn, blue fishy candies, powdered donuts.  Ah yes.  Very healthy.  Oh - and the "blue raspberry" koolaid that wasn't very blue at all.  Boo.

Katia was all dressed - as all the guests would be "princesses" ... and then, I invited her to come and see what I created for her ... 

Please note the Cars Crocs that she put on in her hurriedness ... silly girl LOL.

Oh man.  I hope, I hope, I hope - she always remembers this moment!!  I may have cried a little.

She was ALL about the details.  

Her little friend Zoe was the first guest there and had come to see as well ... 

Zoe liked the cake ... 

And they both immediately began to strategize on how to get the blue rock-candy sticks.

The little girls all began arriving - one by one.  Then ... oh yes, ELSA came

Oh man ... it was so sweet.  Although Zoe wasn't to sure about this "real" Elsa.  She's a smart one, that kid.

Off to the tent ...

And Elsa was just INCREDIBLE.  How she talked and smiled ... 

The boys wanted to be apart of it - but tried to act cool ...

Oh the conversations ... 

Then Elsa asked for some blankets, and outside we went.  It was time for some songs.

... the brothers, watched from a distance.

"Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?"

Some mom's may have fully participated in "Let It Go" ... LOL

Katia received a Snowflake Christmas Ornament for our tree - so she would never forget this day.

... and had her own Coronation Day as Princess Katia of Arendale.

All the little girls got a special necklace ... 

And then?  Story time!

Elsa let Katia make SNOW.  Now - seriously - how do you turn a cup of water into cold, soft, snow ... need to ask my old chemistry teacher about that ... 

Then, each little girl got to make a wish ... 

And our time was almost over ...

... after a few pics, of course.

With just a few minutes left, Elsa stayed to sing "Happy Birthday"  ...

And Elsa told me afterwards, that when Katia went to hug her goodbye, she whispered, "I love you, Elsa."

Oh, my heart.

And Elsa took a few moments to speak Words of Life over Katia.  About how smart and beautiful and funny she was ... Katia held on to every word.

So.  Wow ... it was absolutely my most favourite bday party to date.  The sheer innocence of it all ... the wonder.  I highly, highly recommend Alyssa from As You Wish Princess - who is equipped to be so many different princesses.  She was affordable, and worth every single dime.  I just wish I could do it all over again LOL.

Hope you enjoyed this post!

Have a great one! xx