New Zealand Adventure: Hobbiton

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Our family just got back from a 10 day holiday in Middle Earth. We started our journey in Auckland, New Zealand and drove to Matamata in our rented minivan (which is exciting for these boring parents). Matamata has the farm where The Shire was built and filmed for the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit trilogies. The set was originally torn down after LOTR but was rebuilt and kept up after the Hobbit.

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We took our double stroller up and down the small dirt paths around the Shire during our tour. It was a beautiful sunny day and the magic of the hobbit-burrows was enchanting. We even got to see Bag End, which was Bilbo and Frodo’s house. Fun fact: the big tree at the top of Bag End was a real tree in LOTR but is now a fake tree since the set was rebuilt. The hobbit-burrows don’t have insides, the scenes in the movies were all shot on set and not actually inside the homes.

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At the end of the tour we drank some cider in the Green Dragon, a pretty touristy spot. The whole Shire is beautiful and even if you’re not into LOTR, it is a fun tour. It’s set on a working sheep farm in a beautiful part of the North Island and it’s very scenic. Stay tuned for more on our New Zealand adventure!

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Ada Rose – 6 months

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Eats: Formula! Mamma is done breastfeeding. *whew* we made it to six months!

Sleeps: Peacefully at night again. We’re trying to get her to a big afternoon nap instead of small naps throughout the day. The goal is to get both of them sleeping at the same time in the afternoon but I’m sure as soon as that happens Oliver won’t want to nap anymore…

Favorite activity: Chewing on everything! She wants to drool and chew on everything in sight. If she has a toy that’s not good for chewing, she doesn’t want it.

Least favorite activity: Being alone. Anytime I leave her playing by herself she cries and cries until I come back.

Words: Lots of baby talk and imitation. She loves listening to our wonderful nanny, Phuong, sing to her and talk to her.

Starting to: Scoot and move around. I wouldn’t call it crawling but she is moving around quite a bit. She’s also sitting on her own for short periods of time, usually until she sees a toy she wants and dives for it. Oh, and she’s holding her own bottle!

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Weekend in Saigon

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We haven’t done any traveling since Memorial weekend. We spent the summer getting readjusted to life here in Hanoi and getting back into a routine, so we decided to take an extra long Labor Day weekend and explore Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).

As can be expected, our weekend consisted of lots of time in the hotel for naps and diaper changes. Luckily we already knew that and stayed in a hotel with a nice playground and pool area. The kids had ample room to run around and play in our spacious room.

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Saigon is more polished than Hanoi, and we brought our coveted double stroller to haul the kids and their stuff around in. It was SO nice not to have to carry them and all their gear around the city, especially considering it was sunny and humid all weekend. Saigon is a bigger city than Hanoi and we enjoyed indulging in some western food that we don’t get back home. Some favorites were steaks at B3 Steakhouse, burgers at East West Brewery and burritos from Cali Burrito.

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In between naps we visited some of the more famous spots in Saigon. Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon which we couldn’t enter due to renovations, Saigon Central Post Office which was constructed in the late 19th century, and Saigon City Hall. It was sweltering, so we cooled off inside when we could. Oliver made friends with a little boy while he was running around a display for the upcoming Moon Festival in a local mall.

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We visited the Imperial Palace on the morning we flew out. It was a whirlwind visit but we’re glad we didn’t miss it. The Independence Palace (also known as the Reunification Palace) is the site of the Fall of Saigon in 1975 when a North Vietnamese Army tank crashed through its gates. The palace is largely untouched and can be seen as it was in the 1970’s. It was good place for kids because it has a large lawn where they can run around.

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Our flight home was easy because our two tired babies slept the whole flight. We know how to tucker our kids out!