I read a lot in 2013 and worked to try and keep it up in 2014. I again listened to a number of audio books and tried to make more of a habit of picking up whatever I was reading anytime I had a few minutes of downtime rather than looking on Facebook, reading blogs, or watching tv. For 2015 I hope to ingrain that habit more. It’s so easy to grab my phone and browse for a few minutes but I would like to avoid doing that and instead default to picking up a book and reading a few pages.
Here is my list. I’m not linking anything cause I’m guessing everyone knows how to use Amazon. Plus I’m writing this post in a bathroom in Switzerland failing miserably with the battle against jet lag.
Allegiant by Veronica Roth
Serena by Ron Rash
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger
Crossing to Safety by Wallace Earle Stegner
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Farenheight 415 by Ray Bradbury
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
This is How You Loose Her by Junot Diaz
Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan
Washed and Waiting by Wesley Hill
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler
The Answer to the Riddle is Me: A Memoir of Amnesia by David Stuart MacLean
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
Global Mom: Eight Countries, Sixteen Addresses, Five Languages, One Family by Melissa Dalton-Bradford
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Fairyland: A Memoir of my Father by Alysia Abbott
Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumoa Lahiri
An Education by Lynn Barber
Palo Alto by James Franco
Kisses From Katie by Katie J. Davis
Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok
Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline
Restoring Your Digestive Health by Jordan S. Rubin
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham
From Fear to Freedom by Rose Marie Miller
Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith by Jon Krakauer
The Birth House by Ami McKay
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
My overall favorites were Wild, Crossing to Safety, Americanah, Brain on Fire, Gilead, Girl in Translation and The Book Thief
I thought that Brain on Fire, Overdressed, and Under the Banner of Heaven were so interesting, informative and thought provoking.
Allegiant, and Curtsies and Conspiracies and both easy, fun series that are quick to get through.
Farenheight 415, Z, Fairyland, and The Birth House were slow and not my favorite. Global Mom made me mad cause the end turned the book into something I was not expecting. And Palo Alto was just bad.
This year for the first time ever, we stayed home for the Holidays. It was so nice to not travel and to have all month long to do fun activities to celebrate the season. Its always sad to not be with family but now that our family has grown, it was nice to have a quiet Christmas morning on our own opening presents as slowly as we liked. Its so much for to anticipate Christmas day with little kids and to have an excuse to do so many fun things during the Holiday season.
A visit to Santa. He is the best. He spends so much time with them chatting about life and the Holidays.
Here is their picture from this year. And just because they are too cute, their pics from the last two years.
Some of my family came in town at the beginning of December and we spent a day in San Francisco riding trollies, eating yummy food, and enjoying all the Christmas decorations at Union Square.
Gigi needed a little help making it up some of the big hills. Luckily she had a strong grandson nearby and is a good sport.
I took Adelaide to her first ballet. We went with her friend Josephine (and her mom). The girls loved it. They were practicing all their ballet moves during intermission.
Baking Christmas cookies for Santa. We spent Christmas Eve at our pastors house with a number of other people. Good food and good company. We have been blessed with wonderful community here. This was all Adelaide’s idea. Well leaving the note from Santa was mine. And totally worth the look of intrigue and excitement on her face in the morning. Christmas morning! We went to our friends the Russell’s for Christmas dinner. And ended the night with Tinkerbell and card games. We went to the zoo with some friends the day after Christmas. We saw the animals, then had a fun sunset picnic on the beach then headed back into the zoo for the Christmas lights. California snow. The girls were so excited! Enjoying Christmas gifts! Happy New Year!!
I just realized I never posted pictures from Halloween and I want to so Im going to. This year I told the girls they had to pick costumes from the stash we already had. Laia choose to be little red riding hood and Adelaide choose to be Elsa. Adelaide’s two little buddies happen to choose to be Anna and Olaf so they made quite the cute little threesome. The girls were so excited for Halloween. They love dressing up regardless so a day when everyone dresses up plus people give you candy cant be beat. Adelaide kept explaining it to Laia for weeks beforehand so they were both ready. We meet up with friends and trick or treated all together. Little kids dressed up are just too cute. Sisters Ready for trick or treating Josh was little red riding hood’s big bad wolf and I was the Mona Lisa. These three! “Sisters” Ready to go. Trick or treat!
A couple of weeks ago we took a long weekend trip to Yosemite. It was our first time to visit and it was absolutely stunning. We were completely wooed and in awe and cannot wait to go back. We went with some friends and rented a cabin in Yosemite West. It was an easy 10 minute drive from our cabin into Yosemite valley and overall it was all very kid friendly. There were quite a few easy trails and the kids just loved being free to climb on rocks and run through meadows. It was such a magical place!
We saw a bobcat. Can you spot it?
We also saw lots of deer, a fox, and a bear!
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!