I wholeheartedly believe that no matter what is happening in your life, there is always something you can be thankful for..no matter how simple it is.
Last weekend we went away for a few days up north to celebrate my mum's 60th birthday. It was a weekend full of memory-making times and it was definitely one filled with lots of Things to Love. Prepare for photo overload as I share the best of it here!
On our trip up, we timed it JUST right after the big cold snap to see a surprising amount of snow along the way.
Before we left, we were a little worried as all roads through the centre of the island had been closed, but they opened up just in time for us to make the journey through - phew.
The boys were beside themselves with excitement when they stepped out of the car to snow underfoot.
Snow angels were a must.
The museum itself provided a good hour's entertainment for us, and a break from the seven-hours of car time on the road north.
As the boys get older, we would definitely stay longer in the museum but at this age they were happy enough having a quick look at each exhibit and moving on.
I made sure that I found the Military Cross in the medal room though and explained to the boys that their brave Pa (my dad's dad) won this medal for his work as a doctor in Italy and North Africa in World War II.
Then we were back on the road on the hunt for more snow.
We didn't need to go too far to find the mother lode.
Little people that tend to feel the cold enjoyed some time in the car to warm up - and being on the safe side of snowball fights.
There was even enough snow on the side of the road to put together a hasty snowman which Mark duly donated his hat and scarf to and we found some odd stones and bits of metal to make good the eyes and nose.
It was hard to stop taking photos the entire way through the Desert Road.
Even Mt Ngauruhoe was awe inspiring wrapped in her white blanket as we wound our way further north.
I also found the rows upon rows of electricity pylons through the Desert Road photogenic and irresistible.
It was the first time in a long time we'd taken this route (usually preferring to skirt around the other side of the mountain to avoid going through Taupo during busy holiday times).
The lake looked absolutely beautiful as we wound around her shores, heading towards the new bypass that reduces a good 20 minutes of the journey that would usually go right through Taupo township.
We were super impressed at how quick it was through the bypass and how much volcanic activity there is on either side of the road, and before we knew it were through and out the other side.
Noah had asked if we could 'go into the forest' so we found a little logging road and drove a few hundred metres off the main road to explore amongst the silent trees on a carpet of pine needles.
I love this unusal photo I caught of the boys wandering into the forest - Noah looks almost like an apparition gliding through the forest.
The light amongst the trees was lovely.
Noah's scar is gradually fading over time but still prominent enough.
A boy's motto: 'any stick = natural machine gun'
Back on the road, and the closer we got to our destination the more I marvelled at the amazing autumn colour everywhere. So much so that only a few minutes after arriving, I headed straight back out with the camera to capture the colour in fading twilight.
Noah was intrigued by the discovery of the bird's nest amongst the leaves and begged to take the bird's nest 'home' to Nana & Poppa's where it stayed on the porch for the rest of the weekend.
One of Nana's wishes to celebrate her 60th birthday weekend with us all having come together from far and wide was that we could enjoy some day trips around the countryside. Made all the more fun by being able to trip around together in Poppa's Super Shuttle.
First stop Bridal Veil Falls near Raglan.
I'm not sure what we were expecting but our expectations were far exceeded. The drop in the falls is 55m straight down and the volume of water going over them is pretty impressive.
The walk down to the bottom of the falls is 260-odd steps and it's no less impressive looking up from below.
Look who got a cuddle with his Nana.
Any opportunity to play the fool gladly accepted too.
Love this picture of this father of mine, in his element in the bush that he loves.
Next stop Raglan Beach.
Despite living in the Waikato for 5 years during high school and university days, I'd never actually been to Raglan Beach.
Despite being renowned for being a rugged West Coast beach, it was unbelievably still and quite sheltered down on the beach.
The light was incredible for photos.
Bathing all of us in the loveliest glow.
After spending a few minutes trying to arrange my camera to rest on top of my camera bag for a self-timed group photo, a beachgoer finally took pity on us and took this lovely shot of us all together.
More celebrations had been planned for our night - dinner at Narrows Landing, joined by my brother (who'd had to work all day at his bike shop) and Gee Gee (my mum's mum) and Derek (her brother). She had no idea that my gran and uncle were coming and got a huge surprise when they knocked on the door at 5pm to join us for the evening.
It was lovely to be out (all 12 of us) and so special to have 4 generations together to celebrate a wonderful 60 years of life for this lovely lady.
Our night ended at home with a lovely cup of tea and yummy birthday cake (cooked by Mark).
On Sunday morning, Noah bounded into our room and announced he'd like to go for a walk or a run with me. Completely random and out of the blue! But I needed an incentive to crawl out of bed and so he, Nana and I walked up and down their lovely country road which then morphed into intermittent road running races between the two of us trying to catch Nana up. I had to try pretty hard to beat him and actually didn't manage to a few times as he was really good at running in front of me and cutting me off. He was thrilled to beat Mum, but I was far more interested in being surrounded by such fantastic colours yet again.
Originally we'd planned to head up the coast to Ngatea Water Gardens on Sunday but when Noah suggested the zoo, Nana was happy to change plans and go with a more local activity. It had been about 5 years since we'd been to Hamilton Zoo (the last time when Noah was only 18 months old) and we particularly enjoyed seeing animals like the bobcat, tapir, lemurs and rhinos - none of which we get to see at Wellington Zoo.
We also found 2 pretty unique looking zoo keepers the minute we walked in too.
We were all pretty taken with Mr. 'I like to move it move it'. He looked just like King Julian out of Madagascar standing up posing like this!
We headed home for a quiet afternoon of games and puzzles, finishing up with an adult's game of Cluedo and Carcasonne after the kids had gone to bed to end a glorious weekend.
Come Monday morning (Queens Birthday) we hit the road bright and early for the journey home, which was surprisingly trouble free, made all the more enjoyable when accompanied by glorious scenery like this on the way.
And so ended an amazing, memory-filled family weekend. It's not often that all us kids get together and I know how super special it was for Nana having her whole family around her to celebrate this momentous occasion in style.
And we also loved every minute of it.
Link up below with your blog post telling us what you're loving, and grab the Things I'm Loving button below for your post too. Don't forget to share the love by visiting all the other lovelies who have joined in - the linky is open till same time next week!
Follow my blog with Bloglovin