Of course a few weeks have already passed, but we recently celebrated Laia’s 3rd birthday. She was so excited and really only kept requesting an Anna (from Frozen) doll and a birthday cake. We kept it pretty low key but got to celebrate with friends at our house and at the park. And of course there was cake. Laia has been a special addition to our family and it has been pretty amazing to watch her grow and bond over the last year. We wanted her to feel so special and loved and had so much fun celebrating her 3 years of life!
I made little party hats for all the stuffed animals and toys so that when she woke up in the morning it would already feel like a party.
Birthday fireplace. This might be turning into a tradition.
Birthday morning present opening.
Birthday visit to the pumpkin patch.
Happy Birthday sweet Laia Love. We are so happy you are ours!
Adelaide is back in school. She just started her second year of preschool and loves it so much. Cant believe its her last year before kindergarten, eeek!
And just for fun, a throwback to last year:
Obviously the papers she is holding keep getting fancier and fancier. I know you guys cant wait to see what she will be holding in 5th grade.
Since we (myself, my little sister, and my sister-in-law) made such a long voyage to get to Thailand we decided to stay a few days extra to do some sightseeing. Once we started doing a little research and realized how close we were to Vietnam we decided to use our time to visit Ha Long Bay. We made a wise decision. Our short trip to Vietnam was absolutely incredible and I cant wait to one day go back and see more. We flew into Hanoi and then were picked up there and driven the three hours to Ha Long Bay. We stayed two nights aboard a wooden junk (boat) sailing through the bay before heading back to Hanoi for our flight home. The trip was so easy with everything included through the company Indochina Sails. And everything was amazing. The staff was wonderful. The rooms were great. And the food incredible! We got to visit a fishing village, visit a large cave, kayak through caves and explore inlets, swim in the middle of the ocean and on private tiny beaches, and hike up tiny islands to incredible views.
After a busy and rather exhausting week volunteering, our few days in Vietnam were so incredible and relaxing. It was the perfect way to rest while sightseeing before heading home. I just want to go back.
So the only down side of all that amazingness was the part where I tumbled down a rock staircase in the cave we visited and hurt my foot pretty bad. At the time I was not too sure what I did, I just knew it was swollen and bruised and hurt ALOT. I finally made it to a doctor a week later and found out I had two fractures. I am still recovering.
Good morning Vietnam!
Arriving in Halong Bay, heading to our boat.
The boat we traveled and slept on for two days. Sometimes its so nice being a bit isolated with no cell service or wifi.
Visiting the largest fishing village in Halong Bay.
Cooking classes on the deck.
Loved hanging out on that deck.
Visiting the largest cave in Halong Bay.
I may have tumbled down a rock staircase in that beautiful cave. When I stood up my foot hurt really bad and I hobbled out the rest of the way. At the time I was not too sure what I did, I just knew my foot was swollen and bruised and hurt ALOT. I finally made it to a doctor a week later and found out I had two fractures. I may have hiked to the top of an island, walked all over Hanoi and Shanghai, and ran to catch a flight on that broken foot.
We collected these muscles on the little beach we kayaked to earlier that day.
Ti-Top Island. We hiked to the top to check out the views.
Lynna with her Dong.
Back in Hanoi for a little bit of sightseeing before flying home.
People all over the sidewalks eating meals on these little stools.
Delicious street buns.
The best $3 meal I’ve ever had.
Ending our time in Vietnam with Mochi!
Our flight out of Vietnam was delayed and we ended up getting stuck in Shanghai for 24 hours so took advantage and did a bit of sightseeing.
Trying (and failing) to catch a cab.
So happy to be home with my sweet girls after two weeks away. Eeek!
This summer I had the incredible privilege of visiting Thailand. All the details miraculously fell into place and so at the end of July, along with a small group, I headed to Thailand to spend a week volunteering with Hand to Hand Foundation. Did I mention, I went on my own, without my children!!! We were able to spend a little bit of time sightseeing in Bangkok but spent most our time in Pattaya, a smaller city near the ocean about 1.5 hours south of Bangkok.
Hand to Hand is an amazing organization working tirelessly in many different ways to support and advocate for women and children. Check out their website to learn more. I was very impressed with the organization and enjoyed helping out in the small ways we were able to. We spent a lot of our time doing activities with the kids that attend the hand to hand preschool. We also interacted with the children that attend their Saturday kids club, prepared food, delivered food, visited the slums and jails, and helped to paint the inside of a jail.
Ive read much about the region and some of the difficulties encountered there. But its always so much better to be there in person and I am always so appreciate of being able to learn from the different cultures I encounter. I am thankful for being able to understand a little better how to support organizations that are working so hard to bring life, dignity, education, and support to those in need.
The best way to start off your day as a tourist is to rent these awesome clothes so that you can get into all the temples.
The Gand Palace in Bangkok.
The Grand Palace and temples.
We went on a sightseeing boat ride. Our tour guide referred to this motorized boat as a “James Bond boat”. Luckily no one was trying to shoot at us.
So much traffic.
Our first day playing with the kids at Hand to Hand.
An authentic Thai pedicure.
We brought craft masks to make with the kids.
They were full of energy!
The pier in Pattaya.
Grubs and insect street food.
Crafting with the kids club.
They made some pretty impressive masks.
We had dinner at this fantastic restaurant. The grounds of the hotel were beautiful as was the ocean view from the restaurant. The food was excellent and the company supports some pretty awesome social projects in the area.
The electrical wires kill me. How is this even possible.
A floating market.
She drew my portrait.
Delivering packs of food to slum residents.
A sweet 96 year old woman in her home.
Photo op with a baby elephant.
Riding our new friend Mali Mali.
With the fearless Hand to Hand leader, Margie.
And our week ends back in Bangkok.
In June Adelaide turned 4years old. She is a sweet, loving, kind little girl. She has been an incredible big sister over the last 9 months accepting Laia with open arms. She loves to dress up in princess dresses and is full of imagination. She bosses everyone around and is generally leading the pack in some kind of made up play game. She is methodical and loves to follow the rules. She is super helpful and very independent. We love her so much and are so thankful that God gave her to us at the time he did. She was defiantly meant to be the big sister in our family.
For her 4th birthday ALL she wanted was to have a sleepover. (probably thanks to Sophia the First The Big Sleepover episode) Anytime we talked about her birthday that was the only thing she talked about so we decided to go for it. She invited 3 of her friends and we did all the fun things you apparently do at a sleepover. We had craft projects and they dressed up in princess dresses and played. For dinner everyone got to make their own pizzas and of course we ate cake and ice cream for dessert. Adelaide was also adamant they watch a movie and eat snacks so we watched Tinkerbell, ate snacks, and drank pink lemonade (her favorite).
Only one friend actually spent the night but Adelaide did not seem to mind and loved waking up to donuts for breakfast. It was actually a super easy party to plan and execute and we all had so much fun.
Birthday party morning!
The party begins with crafts.
Josh and I sat back and listened in as they giggled and talked about poop the ENTIRE time they ate their pizza. Apparently poop is a hilarious topic of conversation for 4 year olds.
Apparently 4 year old conversation also includes how babies get out of their mama’s bellies. Thats what I overheard them talking about while enjoying their cupcakes.
We just love our four year old!
In May we went to Orlando to visit Josh’s family and while there we decided to spend a day at Disney. The girls were so excited and we had SO MUCH FUN. We really weren’t sure what to expect and assumed we would have some serious meltdowns on our hands considering we were taking a 2 and almost 4 year old.
We talked a lot about it ahead of time and the girls were super excited and sorta knew what to expect. Since we were just going to be there for one day and its so dang expensive we decided to take advantage and stayed from 9am till almost 11pm. It was seriously such a blast. The girls loved it so much and were so well behaved, no meltdowns!! We actually didn’t end up riding a ton of rides. It was a pretty busy day so we used our three fast passes and then stood in line for a couple more. We only had to wait about 10-15minutes for each ride. They especially loved the Ariel ride and Aladdin’s magic carpet ride. It was also great just walking around spotting characters and seeing all the princess castles.
They hadn’t really had a chance to actually meet any princesses and so towards the end of the day we gave them a choice of riding several more rides or waiting a reeeealllly long time (like 1.5hours!) in line to meet Cinderella and Rapunzel. They excitedly and adamantly chose to stand in line to meet the princesses and didn’t complain once. After that we stayed for the electronic parade at the end of the night and ended up heading back to our car during the firework show. We cant wait to go back!
The blog is back!
For my 30th birthday I gathered as many friends and family as possible onto a boat for a birthday boating bash sailing around the San Francisco Bay. I don’t know how long we will be blessed to live in this area so I really wanted to do something that I would only be able to do here. We boated for about three hours enjoying dinner and cake while taking in all the views of the bay. While it was still sunny we went under the golden gate bridge and then watched the sun set behind the city while sailing around Alcatraz to finally enjoy the bay bridge and city skyline all light up. It was a wonderful evening and the perfect way to enter a new chapter of life.
Hanging out on the front deck.
Love this guy and all he did to make my birthday super special.
Birthday twins celebrating three years in a row!
Love that my sister in law, brother, and sister all came out to celebrate with me.
The best cousin friends.
Such wonderful friends.
Of course this is the only photo I got with my siblings. Love them.
The whole group.
I was really dreading my 30th birthday and feeling the weight of adulthood and parenthood. Only a few months have passed but already it feels less scary and I look back and only see how blessed I am to have the responsibility to care for my family and to live as an adult in community with such wonderful people. And I am very thankful to have had such a joyful and wonderful celebration to remember this season of my life.
We spent Thanksgiving in Costa Rica with some friends and also part of the time with some of my family.
The first four days we rented a house in Manuel Antonio. It was perfect with 4 kids in tow. And the best part was that we hired the women that takes care of the house to cook all our meals for us. Best decision ever.
The woman that cooked for us also watched the kids so we could go out one night. A true vacation!
We spent most of the days on the beach, the kids played so well in the sand.
Its not a day at the beach in Costa Rica without copos!
The house we rented had a wonderful pool nestled in the forest.
Our one group shot. As good as its gonna get.
We spent the second half of the week in Cartago. We visited the local volcano.
On Thanksgiving we woke up at 4:30am, left the kids behind and then went on a crazy 6 hour hike in the rainforest and hoping not to run into escaped convicts (apparently 6 men had just escaped the local prison and had been spotted in that rainforest). Also, it rained the entire time. But it was so much fun and we got to see two waterfalls.
After hiking we were treated to an incredible Asian feast. Our Costa Rican Thanksgiving dinner.
We hung out in Cartago a few more days, going fishing, and having a party at Journey A before heading home.
Maybe we should spend all our holidays in Costa Rica. Whose coming next time??
This year I decided that I wanted to read more. I waste most of my free time browsing the internet or watching something stupid on tv. And I really love a good novel. I didn’t set a specific goal, I just wanted to be more conscious of how I was using any free time I had. And I think it worked. Once I started reading some good books I just didn’t want to stop. I finished 32 books and am in the middle of 4 others. It did help that I made three transcontinental flights, amongst many other flights, this year. Below is my list:
Josh’s parents came out for a visit at the beginning of November. They came to meet Laia, but also sightsee as they had never been to California. It was a lot of fun to show them around and for them to see our lives and where we live.
Adelaide had Grandad looking for mermaids in the water with her. They were both calling for Ariel.
A windy family photo.
We visited train town in Sonoma for the first time. The kids loved it. We were all impressed.
Come back soon!!