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June 2024



Max’s 8th Year Birthday Questions

O M G. It’s November and it just hit me that I never made a bday post for Max. That’s what happens when you’re the 2nd kid ???? But it’s ok…I just have to sift through the copious amount of pictures to jog my memory!

For his birthday this year, we kept it low-key since his one wish was to have a sleepover at his bestie’s house so our friends pretty much took care of his bday celebration for us! I still decorated the hallway with balloons and a sign (the picture was too dark to post), took him to Kura for his favorite sushi and we got him a variety of desserts at 85 degrees that he got to pick. My parents were in town so we all went to the park to play as well. My father who has a black belt in judo loves teaching Max martial arts and Max loves learning from him as well!

Here is Max celebrating his birthday with his bestie whose bday is just a few weeks after his! He had a blast!

Now time to look back on year 7….

This year was the start of Max becoming a voracious reader like his sister! Excuse the mess on our table ????
His friendship with Jackson, his bestie, really grew this past year. He takes this friendship very seriously! :)
Max started 1st grade. I think he was tired because he was used to staying up late over the summer :)
Max joined another season of Friday Night Lights flag football, go team Patriots!
Loved this team. There were even 2 rockstar girls on there!
As a family, we watched all of the Marvel movies in order so of course when Halloween rolled around, Max had to be his favorite Marvel character, Dr. Strange!
Max is the daredevil of the family. He still loves climbing rocks!
We also realized he had a crazy knack for climbing the raptor climb! This penguin joined our collection of 4 ninja balls to my dismay ????
Max is a smarty pants so it was no surprise when he got his annual award in academics. Here he is with his 1st grade teacher, Mrs. Bortz, who absolutely adored him!
One of Max’s favorite hobbies is cooking. This was the year that he added chef to his list of “things I want to be when I grow up”
I think one day he is going to make some girl very lucky! :)
Still kicking butt in Taekwondo. Max made it to the advanced level!
This was the year where Max’s love for his dad really started to blossom too
He went sand surfing for the first time in Death Valley. Doesn’t he look like a pro?
His 1st grade class where he is super popular and made his little friend crew. His friends are Stephen, Jacob, Dylan, Adam, and Harper
I love that he describes himself as “Epic”. I think so too. :)
More pictures with bestie…this time in Palm Springs!
They have this goodbye ritual where they touch feet before leaving lol
Max finally lost his first tooth. He was super excited about the tooth fairy until Dad accidentally threw it in the trash! He made Minh dig through the trash to find it. Against all odds, Minh found it for him!
Max also started playing bball this year and LOVED it. We had him join a few Boys and Girls leagues as well and was the leading scorer a few times on his team! Minh was extra proud of him :)

Dear Max,

When I think about your name, it is so fitting. Everything you do you do to the “max”. Your emotions go from 0 to 100 in a blink of an eye. It doesn’t matter if it’s anger, sadness, or love and happiness. You are also still brutally honest, which I really appreciate (probably because you love me the most so I get to bask in that :)). You truly excel in everything you do, from school to sports, just like your dad! You love traveling, reading, skateboarding, scootering, playing sports, and I can’t leave out…video games! I love that you have so many interests and are always down to try anything. You have the best attitude about everything and are soooo supportive of your sister too! I love to see the relationships that are blossoming between you and your friends. You are such a good friend! This post is a little late so I’ve experienced much of year 8 already and can already see how much you’ve grown and changed. I can see you becoming less of a baby even from these past few months. I love how when I hug you and tell you that “my baby” is growing up too fast, your reassure me that you’ll always be my baby. ?? Even now, I can see that you won’t be but I love that you try because you only want to make me happy :) I can’t wait to see what the rest of year 8 will bring you!



Here are the answers to his birthday questions this year with my comments in parentheses.

1. What is your favorite color? white (wow finally the same as last year!)
2. What is your favorite toy? iPad (no surprise here, it’s also the same :))
3. What is your favorite fruit? watermelon (always and forever! STILL)
4. What is your favorite tv show? Demon Slayer
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? Sushi (only salmon!)
6. What is your favorite outfit? Rainbow dinosaur shirt
7. What is your favorite game? Basketball
8. What is your favorite snack? Watermelon
9. What is your favorite animal? Snow foxes (last year it was snow owls lol)
10. What is your favorite song? Roar by Katie Perry
11. What is your favorite book? The Wild Robot series (robots!!!)
12. Who is your best friend? Jackson
13. What is your favorite cereal? Frosted Flakes
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? Play basketball
15. What is your favorite drink? Sharetea strawberry drink
16. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? My mom (lol)
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? toast with butter
19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday? Sushi
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? a scientist

Emma’s 10th Year Bday Questions

My first kid to reach double digits! I find myself looking at tiny toddlers and remembering Emma waddling around and then seeing just how big she is now. They tell you how fast it goes but it’s still shocking how time flies. I know she will be a teenager and off to college before I know it. Time needs to slow down STAT. This post is coming in late but I’m trying my hardest to keep this tradition up. I know I’ll love looking back and reading these posts as they grow older. I sometimes read the older posts to the kids now and they really enjoy it as well. I think when they turn 18 I will bound these posts into a book and have it printed for them. Here’s to hoping I can continue this for another 8 yrs! lol

When I was pregnant with Emma, it was pretty fun because I had quite a few friends pregnant at the same time! I have 3 other moms that share a 10 yr old within a month of Emma’s birthdate so one of the moms gave me her bday decorations which is where this giant 10 came from!

For the big 10, I booked us a night at the Magic Castle hotel and invited Emma’s bestie and her little brother who happens to be Max’s bestie. The kids would have been happy just being at home with them but I know staying at a hotel would put it over the top for Emma!

If you’ve ever been or heard of the Magic Castle it’s an invite only castle where magicians perform daily shows. To get in you need to get a personal invitation from a magician but I found a loophole where if you book a night at the hotel next door, you get entry into the castle! This place is usually adults only but during the day on weekends they allow kids and have more kid friendly shows. I have no pictures since they don’t allow cameras inside but the experience includes an AYCE brunch buffet and about 3 magic shows ranging from a large stage to small, intimate shows. The hotel next door was also a cool experience in that they include all you can eat snacks, drinks, and ice cream! Their pool also has a “popsicle line” where if you pick up the phone located next to the pool, someone magically appears with a silver tray full of free popsicles! Their included breakfast also included their own magician who performs at your table, which the kids really enjoyed since the magician was very interactive with them.

For Emma’s birthday this year, she asked to redo her room. She still has decorations from when we decorated it when she was born! We’re actually still in the process of doing it but we got rid of her bunk bed and got her a trundle bed instead.

Here’s a sneak peek of her bed WHICH I PUT TOGETHER ALL BY MYSELF!

That pretty much sums up her birthday this year….time to take a stroll down memory lane!

Emma’s happy place is still the beach or pool. I’ll have to get over my aversion to sand and take her more often!

We also spent a lot of the year making use of our Legoland annual passes that kept getting extended because of Covid. We got so much value out of these tickets!!!

We had a lot of free night certificates from not being able to travel so did a lot of staycations. This stay was at Hotel del Coronado which was so nice because it’s right on the beach! We got stuck in the attic though so our room was really dark and gloomy. The kids will always remember this trip as the time we stayed in the haunted room since I told them that there is a story that a ghost lives at this hotel! But no worries….nothing eerie happened :)

Emma wrapped up her 3rd grade year with Mrs. Autry.

She rocked it as always and was so proud of herself being the first girl in her class to finish the multiplication/division timed tests!

One of her assignments was to nominate someone for president and she wrote about her brother, Max. Even though they annoy each other like most siblings, when I read these things I’m reminded how great their relationship is and that deep down they are the best of friends!

Emma got a reply from the President!

Emma is still going strong with ballet. It was tough during Covid since they did it over zoom and there were no performances but the studio was able to get one performance in at the end of the year!

For 4th of July, we went to Legoland and stayed at their Castle hotel. Super fun!!

This past year, Emma really started getting good and competitive at games (just like her parents! :)). She got really obsessed with Connect Four and would ask to play a million times a day! So she was excited when a hotel we stayed at had a giant version.

We had such a fun and memorable family vacation to Glacier National Park. The scenery was just awe inspiring!

I think this was her first time white water rafting!

Lots of firsts on this trip!

I posted this on instagram. This obstacle course invoked a lot of tears but all of the kids were super happy and proud of themselves when they finished! Just a reminder that it’s ok to push your kids beyond what they may think their limits are. That’s how they grow!

Emma biked this 15 mile long trail on her own bike!

On one of our camping trips, Emma painted this rock!

Another visit to Legoland but this time we were able to visit the water park which is so much fun. And we got to bring my sister who was visiting!

After our fun summer, the kids started back to school with Emma entering 4th grade with Mrs. Giles

I had to take a picture with her “twin”. They actually used to have the same glasses but we switched them over the summer! Kids would still get confused and call them by the wrong names! :)

Since Covid was still going strong, on weekends we did a lot of hikes

Emma’s still constant wish is that we get a dog….but our schedules just won’t let that work. So we’ve still been pet sitting through Rover. This was one of our faves, Bambi!

For halloween, Emma was a boba milk tea. This costume was a hit and we got so many compliments!

It’s an annual tradition to carve pumpkin’s at her uncle’s house. She designed this owl all by herself!

Emma and Max’s favorite food: Salmon sushi!

For xmas, we went to Austin to visit my side of the family. We did a mini trip to Houston. This was at the Museum of Natural History

Meeting her newest cousin!

One night in Austin, we took Emma out without Max (he wanted to stay behind and hang with his cousins), so Emma got some 1:1 time with us.

Proud of our girl who is not only great in academics but also a great citizen!

For dress like a book character, Emma dressed up as Nancy Drew

Visited Death Valley for a camping trip with friends. This is the lowest point of elevation in North America!


My brother and his oldest son, Owen, came to visit! He loved playing with Emma and Max!

One of the most impressive things about Emma this past year was her joining a basketball team! I know it was really out of her comfort zone but she ended up having so much fun and loved being part of a team. Her team placed in 2nd overall!

Now for her annual birthday questions

1. What is your favorite color? Purple
2. What is your favorite toy? Ipad
3. What is your favorite fruit? Mango
4. What is your favorite tv show? Stuck In The Middle
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? Hamburger
6. What is your favorite outfit? Blue striped tshirt
7. What is your favorite game? Slither IO
8. What is your favorite snack? Cheeto puffs
9. What is your favorite animal? Dog
10. What is your favorite song? Big Time by Rueby wood
11. What is your favorite book? The Lost Hero
12. Who is your best friend? Katie 
13. What is your favorite cereal? Frosted Flakes
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside?  Swim
15. What is your favorite drink? Thai milk tea
16. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas 
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? A light and a book
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? Chocolate croisssants
19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday? Pad Thai 
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? 3rd grade gate teacher 

Max’s 7th Year Birthday Questions

My baby is 7 now and definitely can’t be called a baby anymore!!! He also finished up Kindergarten which is so unbelievable to me as I can still remember the day we came home with him. Parenting is so bittersweet. I love seeing the person he is growing up to be but I sure do miss when they were so tiny too! Luckily Max hasn’t grown out of the “mommy is the best” phase and is still a huge mamma’s boy. ???? He’s still super skinny but his love is SO big! He is happy go lucky kid except when he loses or when he thinks someone is upset with him. He is super optimistic and everyone’s cheerleader. He LOVES math and learning facts in general. He says 80% of everything he knows is from YouTube lol.

These two are still the best of friends. Max is super supportive to his older sister and in turn Emma is like a 2nd mommy to him when I’m not around. They really take care of each other and I love seeing their relationship grow!

His favorite things to do are to go camping, stay in a hotel, or POOL TIME!

Part of the reason he loves the pool so much is because we put him in private lessons so he’s finally more comfortable in the water and getting water in his face! It’s so cool watching your kid overcome their fears and be super proud of themselves

If there’s one thing about this guy….he’s super silly and loves to make you laugh ????

This was a big year for Max…he started Kindergarten! But it was during covid :( so he started it out virtually. For most of the year his teacher was Mrs. Tanga and then for the last quarter when they went back for in person he had Mrs. Waldshmidt

I loved his Kindergarten class….all of the kids were so friendly and Max would tell me how he was friends with his whole class! For the first time ever, he made some best friends in his class too (Oliver and Andrew). :) His favorite thing to do at school was play tag and swing.

For the first time, we really didn’t dress up for Halloween since it was semi-canceled with Covid. But we did have plans for him to be a glow in the dark stick man but never got pictures of it. Here is our annual picture we take every year with our Halloween blowup lawn decoration.

We went camping in October and did tie dye shirts. Max became obsessed with his and wore it for the better part of the year ????

For actual Halloween, we spent it in Joshua Tree with friends and Max discovered he LOVES to rock scramble. So now when I look for hikes, I try to find ones where he can climb on some rocks!

Having some xmas fun with his sis

We started a new tradition this year and made wontons/dumplings for New Year’s Eve/day! One of Max’s favorite hobbies is cooking or baking.

The past year was filled with SO MANY bike and scooter rides! This one was at Newport Back Bay….a really lovely path!!

If there’s a rock…Max is climbing it ????

In the past, Max would usually cling to his sister but he really grew into himself this past year when we would hang out with our friends’ kids. This is him reunited with our family besties after a year of quarantining and Max is finally starting to play with Jackson more. It’s so cute!

We started Max in Taekwondo during quarantine and he absolutely loves it! He just passed his purple belt a few days ago!

I think Max’s favorite memory from the past year was when we visited Austin and saw his cousins. It’s his favorite place in the whole world!!!

This kid is always making funny faces and is so expressive!

Max LOVED it when we posted kittens for a weekend. This one was his favorite.

This is 6. For Emma’s 9th birthday, we turned her 9 balloon upside down ????

A day at Legoland with friends

Finally near the end of the school year they let the kids back full time! All of their desks had plexiglass and were spaced 3 ft apart.

Max really advanced in his reading and math skills this year. He started reading chapter books and doing multiplication and division (thanks to the influence of his sister!)

Since his birthday was on a Tuesday this year, he spent most of it in school and then Emma had a ballet recital in the evening. We tried to make it special by surprising him in the morning with a roomful of balloons and a birthday sign. Excuse the bed hair ????

Dear Max,

You are lucky number 7 this year! You have shown me how flexible and resilient you are with the crazy year we endured this past year during covid. I love how you are a total mamma’s boy and promised me you will be my baby forever ???? In many ways, you’ve grown so much this past year…making friends on your own and being more independent, but you still love being the baby of the family and relish the attention that we all shower you with. You still hate to lose and can turn on the tears in an instant but I’m happy you’re still willing to try and push yourself to do new things. You are sweet, loving, and thoughtful. You’re into Marvel movies, playing games on your iPad, and traveling. You are smart beyond your years and you amaze us with the facts you know and the concepts you pick up so quickly. I can’t wait to see what you will accomplish this upcoming year!



Here are the answers to his birthday questions this year with my comments in parentheses.

1. What is your favorite color? white (I swear it’s a new color every year and always a surprise!)
2. What is your favorite toy? iPad
3. What is your favorite fruit? watermelon (always and forever! STILL)
4. What is your favorite tv show? Big Time Rush
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? Blue place (which is the local AYCE Korean joint that he doesn’t know the name of but they have blue lights so he calls it the Blue Place ????)
6. What is your favorite outfit? Maroon, diamond shirt (replaced his tie dye shirt!)
7. What is your favorite game? Chess
8. What is your favorite snack? Mamma Chia (he ate this for snack every day for school this year and never got sick of it!)
9. What is your favorite animal? snow owl
10. What is your favorite song? Comeback Kid by New Politics
11. What is your favorite book? Harry Potter
12. Who is your best friend? Andrew
13. What is your favorite cereal? rice crisps
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? ride my dad’s electric scooter
15. What is your favorite drink? water (I had no idea he replied this last year too….I didn’t know he liked water so much?? :))
16. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas because I can meet my cousins and open presents
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? Mommy
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? strawberry Nutella crepes
19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday? the blue place
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? a dad. or nothing (lol same as last year)

Emma’s 9th Year Birthday Questions

I was just rereading last year’s birthday summary and forgot that last year we had planned to go to Legoland for Emma’s 8th birthday and it got canceled because of Covid! Well, we made it out here for her 9th!! We ended up booking a hotel stay at MarBrisa Resort in Carlsbad which is right by Legoland (has access to its own entrance in fact!). We went with a few other families that also have Legoland annual passes and had SUCH A BLAST! Emma requested a Carmen San Diego theme so I decorated the hotel a little bit. The kids had so much fun just playing in the hotel room, swimming at the pool, and then hitting up Legoland. It was so nice being able to travel and hang out with friends again after a year of limited social interaction because of covid. I’m so glad the weekend went well for our birthday girl!

I’m curious to see what the highlights of year 8 were for Emma considering it was alll spent during covid ????!

At the end of May of last year, we were itching for some type of “safe” vacation, so we joined our friends for some socially distancing camping at one of our favorite nearby spots, O’Neill Regional Park. Our campsites were right by the creek so the kids really enjoyed catching tadpoles on this trip!

Being at home all of the time forced us to try out new hobbies…like baking! Here is Emma with the first boxed cake she ever made all by herself! She did an awesome job and this reminds me…I should make her make me some more food ????

Another hobby we got into was puzzles! We’re now easily doing 1000 pieces together and had so much fun completing them.

Also, sooo many bike and scooter rides! This one was at El Dordado park.

Emma was able to continue her ballet lessons through zoom and was even able to participate in a few recitals! They shot them at the studio where no parents were allowed and sent us video links to view. Not the same but grateful that they had this option at least!

I feel like we did all of the Pinterest covid activities like neighborhood scavenger hunts, sidewalk chalk doodles, baking, etc lol

We also walked around our neighborhood block SO MANY TIMES! (via foot, bike, scooter, or the EZ Rider)

In early August we took a roadtrip to Big Sur. It’s so beautiful there and was so glad we were able to visit despite Covid!

Looking at these photos I realized even covid couldn’t keep us from traveling. Right after this, we did a staycation at one of the most expensive hotels we’ve stayed at from my travel hacking… The Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills!

This was probably Emma’s favorite hotel we’ve stayed at to date. I’ve truly spoiled her but I told her we only get to stay at nice places through hard work, ingenuity, and….travel hacking lol

We also ordered proper room service for the first time ever!

Emma’s love for animals has only increased as time passes. She’s obsessed with and knows all of the names of the stray cats in our neighborhood hehe.

Ok don’t kill us, but we went on another quick trip to Palm Springs. I think once we realized we could travel safely and that most hotels were empty, we started taking advantage of that!

Palm Springs is all about POOL TIME which is the kids’ favorite pastime!

This school year was a little crazy. It started out virtual, then went to hybrid, and is now back 5 days a week! It was also Emma’s first year in the GATE program! She rocked it though and was super adaptable to all of these changes. Kids are so much more resilient than adults!

Emma also continued participating in Girl Scouts via zoom meetings and the occasional outdoor event like this one where they celebrated women’s right to vote with an outdoor march. Sadly, we just got word that Emma’s troop is disbanding so we’re not sure if we will be continuing on next year :(

For halloween this year, our angel surprisingly decided to be a devil ???? This was at our last camping trip of the year at San Diego KOA where they had Halloween themed weekends.

For actual Halloween, we were at an airbnb with some close friends in Joshua Tree where we did an outdoor glow in the dark Easter egg hunt instead of trick or treating since Halloween was pretty much canceled this past year.

At Arch Rock Trail

Dressing up as an elf for our Christmas card that I failed to mail out again

Our annual xmas party with friends went virtual this year! Still lots of fun!

We finally made dumplings for New Year’s Eve/day and the kids had so much fun I hope to remember to make this an annual tradition!

For one of the Genius Hour projects Emma did this year, she learned how to decorate her own cakes. It was really impressive!

These two were already so close but they truly were each other’s best friends during the pandemic. So happy they have each other and get along so well!

Here she is reunited with her other bestie after all of the parents got vaccinated! What a happy day!

Love that we can go on tougher hikes now that the kids are older!

For spring break this year, we finally got to see family after over a year! Here is Emma with her newest cousin! She was so excited to finally see her favorite cousins, Madison and Quincy. They were soooo sad when we left.

I think if Emma had to name her greatest memory this past year, it was when we babysat 5 foster kittens! It was like a dream come true for her. Her biggest wish is to still have a pet cat or dog so this was the next best thing. She keeps reminding us that we promised her a dog when she turns 10 which I can’t believe is next year already!

Dear Emma,

Mature, kind, nurturing, thoughtful, surprising are just some of the words that come to mind when I think of you. It really feels like you’re coming into your own this year. You are more confident and finding your own ways of expressing yourself. Recently, you’ve gotten into fashion and even for your birthday presents this year all you wanted was clothes! I guess gone are the days when you’ll be asking for toys ???? but you still love to play pretend and Beanie Boos with Max and your friends. You’re in that in-between space and I love that you can move between these phases of life and enjoy them both still.

This past year you were really obsessed with Beanie Boos, Warrior Cats, Harry Potter, Minecraft, interior design/fashion, YouTube hair styles, Disney (non-cartoon) shows, The Mandalorian/baby Yoda, baking, cake decorating, swimming, scootering, the beach, vacations, your cousins, arts and crafts, and of course dogs and cats. You love going on walks with just me and I treasure the conversations we’ve had, the animals we’ve petted, and all of the things you point out to me on these walks! You’re the most thoughtful daughter with the creative gifts and letters you have given to your family on holidays and birthdays.

Throughout Covid, I don’t think you’ve complained once about wearing a mask. You have really stepped up and taken care of your brother on multiple occasions especially after I had to go back to work and you were on your own with Max at your grandmother’s house. You have done so great in your first year of GATE despite the rigorous curriculum and the ever changing school schedule. I’m so proud that you were the only girl in your whole class who made it all the way to the end of your multiplication/division minute tests without missing once!! You’re such a hard worker and so intelligent. I hope you know you can do and accomplish anything you put your mind to. Your favorite subject is reading and I love that you love books. When you really get into a book, we will find you with your Kindle everywhere (in the car, while eating, in your bed, etc). I’m so excited that you’re into the Harry Potter series!

Despite having to quarantine and having limited time to make friends in school, I’m happy to see that you’re starting to make your own group of friends: Abigail and Ashlyn and even Harper at ballet. I know sometimes it’s hard for you to get comfortable with new people but once you do and you let your personality shine, everyone just loves you! You are so funny, kind, and have all of the qualities that make a good friend. I’m so happy to see the person you have become. I always tell you but you are truly the best daughter I could have dreamed up. Dad and I always ask ourselves how did we get so lucky??? I hope this next year gets more normal for you and I can’t wait to see what is next for you!



Here are the answers to her birthday questions this year with my comments in parentheses.

1. What is your favorite color? blue
2. What is your favorite toy? iPad
3. What is your favorite fruit? lychee
4. What is your favorite tv show? Jessie
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? sushi
6. What is your favorite outfit? I don’t have one
7. What is your favorite game? Minecraft
8. What is your favorite snack? candy
9. What is your favorite animal? dog
10. What is your favorite song? I don’t have one Harry Potter
11. What is your favorite book? Harry Potter
12. Who is your best friend? Katie B
13. What is your favorite cereal? Rice Crispies
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? Ride my scooter
15. What is your favorite drink? Jasmine milk tea with boba
16. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? a blanket
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? salmon with rice and seaweed
19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday? sushi, pad Thai, or bbq ribs
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? interior designer or a teacher

Max’s 6th Year Bday Questions

This guy. He brings so much laughter to the whole family. He really did a lot of growing up this past year! He still has his bad moments and still has his temper but it’s getting better. He more than makes up for it with his jokes, dance moves, and smiles though. He is loving and affectionate and so sweet (when he wants to be lol).

Because of the quarantine, he’s had to spend a lot more time with his sister. He drives her a little crazy at times but they are also each other’s best friends right now and I am so grateful they have each other!

He’s always been super clingy to me but amazingly enough we were able to leave him for a week for the first time ever while boyrobot and I celebrated our anniversary in Iceland. It was at that point it really hit me that he’s not a baby anymore!! He had a great time with his sister and cousins.

He started his first year of public school. We decided to put him into TK and he had a great teacher named Mrs. Hamasaki.

He also started playing flag football this year. He played in the fall and the spring (although the spring season was cut short :()

He had a lot of firsts this year including his first piano recital. I won’t post the picture showing him crying and terrified beforehand. Afterwards, he was so proud of himself and said he “loved” piano. lol. It taught me a lesson that my kids can do hard things and that I should push them to do things out of their comfort zone.

For halloween this year he was a praetorian guard from Star Wars

At school, Max is becoming quite the math geek! Here he is getting his first award for math

One of his favorite hobbies is definitely cooking or baking. He is ALWAYS asking to help! This is from when we made homemade pasta from scratch!

Birthdays in quarantine aren’t the same but we tried to make it as special as we could. His one wish was that boyrobot and I play Minecraft with him so I decorated our house with a Minecraft theme when he woke up. I can’t believe it but I totally forgot to take pictures! I created a nether portal doorway and had balloon spiders and creepers!

Luckily the beaches were open so we took him there to celebrate

Things I want to remember about him right now: his cool dance moves, his animated facial expressions, how smart he already is, his positivity, his honesty, his sweet cuddles, and his pure and unadulterated love. It’s been so special to be his mama!

Here are the answers to his birthday questions this year with my comments in parentheses.

1. What is your favorite color? silver (this is literally the first time ever I have heard him say silver is his favorite color lol)
2. What is your favorite toy? my bike
3. What is your favorite fruit? watermelon (always and forever! STILL)
4. What is your favorite tv show? Mewtwo Strikes Back
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? chicken
6. What is your favorite outfit? My fancy red, white, and blue checkered shirt that doesn’t fit me anymore
7. What is your favorite game? Roblox
8. What is your favorite snack? Blueberry puffs
9. What is your favorite animal? foxes
10. What is your favorite song? That’s going to be tricky because I have 100 something favorite songs
11. What is your favorite book? Pokemon Encyclopedia
12. Who is your best friend? Emma
13. What is your favorite cereal? The ones that have marshmallows in them
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? ride my bike
15. What is your favorite drink? water
16. What is your favorite holiday? My bday
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? Mama
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? donuts
19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday? the blue place (Gen – a korean bbq place across the street from our house)
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? just a dad with no work (lol)

Emma’s 8th Year Birthday Questions

Originally we were supposed to spend Emma’s 8th bday at the Legoland hotel but as you know there is currently a pandemic and the hotel and amusement park are closed :( We’ve been taking online art classes with Fibo so we thought it would be fun to have a Zoom art bday party! It went well and was actually cool because friends from far away were able to join too! Even though we couldn’t go anywhere, we tried to make the best of Emma’s day…she was SO excited about turning 8! For breakfast, her and boyrobot biked to Euro Cafe to bring back some strawberry banana crepes. On the way there, our friends texted us telling us to turn back because they were here to surprise Emma with a bday parade! lol. We had no idea! It was such a sweet gesture from our friends and they left some amazing presents for Emma too! We also drew her a chalk obstacle course and had movie night (The Princess Bride is on Disney+!!). Foodwise we ate all her favorites, pad thai and sushi! And we baked her bday cake. She requested Red Velvet and even iced it herself.

Now a few highlights from when she was 7:

-got her first pet….a hamster!! We named him Hammie and he’s the best hamster ever

-graduated from a Daisy to a Brownie with her Girl Scout troop!

-went rollerskating at a rink for the first time

-Started 2nd grade with Mrs. Miller in a 2nd/3rd grade combo class

-Ballet – performed at the OC Fair, Children’s Festival at South Coast Plaza, the Cechetti Gala and the Nutcracker for the first time!! (she was an angel)

-was Hermione for Halloween this year

-lost her 2 front teeth

-started private swim lessons and is pretty much swimming now!

-got into GATE

-sewed her first skirt


Emma won a raffle at school which was a mini fridge full of cash!!


  • Vegas – saw Jabbawockeez
  • Austin – we left the kids with my sister for a whole week while we were in Iceland!
  • Mexican Carnival cruise with friends
  • San Jose – for boyrobot’s cousin’s wedding
  • Lake Hemet – camping trip with friends
  • San Antonio/Dallas/Austin – xmas vacation

Dear Emma,

This is the year where seeing your baby pictures sends me into a tailspin of emotions. When you’re in the thick of it and they tell you to enjoy every minute, it’s so hard. But when you are on the other side, all you remember are the sweet stuff. I’m officially on the other side and missing your little chubby cheeks and so sad I can’t pick your little self up and gather you in my arms. The only consolation is that you have grown up to be such an awesome kid. You have the kindest heart and sweetest demeanor. Your empathy for others amazes me. You are thoughtful and always thinking of others. When you were student of the week in your class and each student had to write you a letter, almost every single one mentioned how smart you were. So even though you don’t think you are, YOU. ARE. SO. SMART! I hope in the coming years, you will gain more confidence in yourself because you are so much better than you ever give yourself credit for. (And no I’m not just saying that because I’m your mom :))

I hope year 8 brings you back to school in the fall and that you get the chance to develop the meaningful friendships you yearn for. I know you miss the social interaction of school the most! I hope you enjoy being in GATE and that you get a great teacher. I hope you return to ballet and get to perform again. I also hope we get to travel again since like your mom you have such an adventurous spirit. Lastly, I know your one greatest wish is to have a pet dog or cat. I hope we at least get to foster another pet this year!!! Ultimately, I hope you have a fun year full of happiness and laughter. I will try to treasure these years before the teen years ;)



Here are the answers to her birthday questions this year with my comments in parentheses.

1. What is your favorite color? purple
2. What is your favorite toy? I don’t know
3. What is your favorite fruit? jackfruit
4. What is your favorite tv show? The Masked Singer
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? Totinos Pizza
6. What is your favorite outfit? Anything with black leggings
7. What is your favorite game? Minecraft
8. What is your favorite snack? Cheetos
9. What is your favorite animal? cat
10. What is your favorite song? Believer by Imagine Dragons, Human by Christina Perri, and Dynasty by MIIA
11. What is your favorite book? Upside Down Magic series and the Dork Diaries
12. Who is your best friend? Katie B
13. What is your favorite cereal? Chocolate Rice Crispies with Cuties (“hidden oranges”)
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? Play jazzminton
15. What is your favorite drink? Mixed berry sparkling water
16. What is your favorite holiday? my bday
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? a book and a flashlight
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? Bagel with lox
19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday? sushi
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? a teacher

Max’s 5th Year Birthday Questions

(This was written around his bday but it took me forever to add the pictures…..I can’t believe how late I was!!!)

And just like that…we are officially out of the baby/toddler stage. I guess 4 is a little old to be considered a toddler but Max has enjoyed being the “baby” of our family and still acts like it sometimes! lol! To be honest, this has been a really tough year with this guy. I’m not sure if I’m imagining it but it feels like his temper has gotten worse, his tantrums louder, and his patience for imperfection is almost non-existent! These hard moments are mixed in with a lot of amazing moments though and when he’s good…he’s so easy! He has the sweetest and most loving demeanor that you just can’t stay mad at him for very long. Even though we complain that he is the difficult child, the whole family just loves him to pieces and we would not be complete without him!

He can literally go from the above picture to below in the blink of an eye. I can’t even remember what set him off but I remember it was something very silly. Like maybe me taking a picture with Emma first and not him? Yup…..that’s what we’re dealing with here folks!

Aside from that, he’s the total jokester in our family and his giggles instantly brighten my mood. I think I will miss those most when he grows up. That innocent and infectious laughter of his! He’s your typical boy too who just loves words like fart, booty, and butts and will work it into every day conversation just to get a laugh out of you.

Max is still way into Star Wars and guns (he’s always begging for another bigger nerf gun!). He also enjoys driving his car he got for Christmas, dancing hip hop (we had him in a class for awhile!), family vacations (especially the ones where we go in an airplane), and playing with his sister!

This past year, we transferred Max to a new preschool closer to home that is associated with our school district since his teacher was retiring and we wanted him have the same school schedule as his sister. He had the most sweet teacher named Mrs. Theresa and I still remember about a month in, he confided to me that he wanted to marry her lol! He loves learning and would always tell me the big words he was learning and their definitions. He can sort of read small words, loves math problems, and has really been excelling in art/drawing! In fact he even got the best artist award in his class and got his drawing submitted in the district’s art show!

He’s the one in orange!

We still need to figure out what Max’s extracurricular activities will be. He has an interest in sports and I signed him up for flag football for the fall. For now he is just doing swim and practicing ninja moves at home. We are looking into putting him in some type of martial arts program but man….they are so expensive!!!

For his birthday this year, we asked him if he’d rather have a birthday party or go to Disneyland/Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge. He decided to pick Dland so we are going on Friday! I also had enough points to secure a night at the Marriott Courtyard that is a 5 minute walk from the park entrance. I will definitely be posting more details about our staycation and share a bunch of photos after we go!

On his actual birthday, since we didn’t have a party, I thought we could invite a few of our friends that live nearby just to stop by for cake but it ended up almost being a full fledged party! Some other friends wanted to hang out that day and a friend from Max’s school also ended up coming. We asked people to not bring presents but of course they did…so the lucky birthday boy ended up getting a quasi birthday party AND Disneyland!!

Max’s year in pictures:

Trip to Legoland
He’s always asking me to take his picture :)
He was so excited to be one of the first Star Students picked in his preschool class! They got to bring home Chester the Raccoon for the week.
Max chose to be a ninja this year
Love how his preschool was so great about sharing pics of him throughout the day!

This was the year Max learned how to ride a bike!!!

The kids had to write what they were thankful for and Max wrote his sister of course :)
Christmas photos by the talented Amy Dang Photography!
Another Disneyland trip thanks to our amazing neighbors, April and Mike!
His letter to Santa, at least he’s honest :)
His Christmas performance at school. So cute, right?!
Our Grand Canyon Xmas vacation where it was snowing!
Snow trip to Brianhead!
These 2 are so silly
Celebrating his half birthday suuuuuper late. Because we didn’t have time on his actual bday and he bugged me about it every few weeks lol
Max’s drawing got selected to be in the district wide art show! Super proud of him :)
These 2 became much better friends this year just like their older sisters!
That time Emma had Share Day at school and she wanted to share her little brother :)
Spring school pictures
We are sooo behind on his swim lessons!!!
Since Max’s birthday is in the summer we squeezed in a bday celebration at school before it ended. He brought in surprise dinosaur eggs for all of his friends!
Max graduating from preschool! TK here we come!
His quasi bday party
This post went out so late that I have the pics from our Disneyland trip and hotel stay. It was soooo fun!
Our main reason for visiting Disneyland was of course to visit Galaxy’s Edge since Max is a huge Star Wars fan. It did not disappoint and I hope his 5th bday was as special as could be!!

Here are the answers to his birthday questions this year with my comments in parentheses.

1. What is your favorite color? red
2. What is your favorite toy? laser tag (he got some laser tag guns for his bday this year and is obsessed with them!)
3. What is your favorite fruit? watermelon (always and forever!)
4. What is your favorite tv show? STAR WARS (same as last year and the year before :))
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? happy meal
6. What is your favorite outfit? my Japanese Star Wars tshirt
7. What is your favorite game? Dungeons and Heroes
8. What is your favorite snack? Lunchables
9. What is your favorite animal? bird
10. What is your favorite song? every song (this is true, he loves to favorite every song he hears!)
11. What is your favorite book? Star Wars (noticing a theme here?)
12. Who is your best friend? Mommy (he’s going through a major mommy phase right now but I think Emma is truly his best friend)
13. What is your favorite cereal? Marshmallow milk (This is when he takes Lucky Charms cereal and eats everything but the marshmallows and adds them to milk)
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? ride my car
15. What is your favorite drink? watermelon juice
16. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? Chester (so sad, he’s lost his attachment to Woofie!)
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? egg sandwich
19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday? cake
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? a scientist

Emma’s 7th Year Birthday Questions

My mini-me

I think every year Emma grows older, I am shocked that I have a (fill in the age) year old. I can sort of feel her independence growing every year and even though it fills me with immense sadness, I love seeing the person she is growing into. I still remember when I was her whole world and could provide her with anything she needed and magically solve all of her problems. I always tell her how one day when she’s a teenager, she is not going to like me as much as she does now so now she’s afraid of being a teenager! I really need to record these moments so I can show her lol. For now, I have at least another year where she still wants me to walk her into school and she doesn’t find me embarrassing yet! :)

Year 6 started with her finishing up her Kindergarten year with Mrs. Tilton. We were so amazed at everything she learned when compared to our own experiences in Kinder. Nowadays kids are learning how to read so it was so fun to see Emma reading all of these books on her own! One of my favorites is seeing her read to her little brother who loves being read to!

This past year, we got really into camping and had several opportunities starting with boyrobot’s annual camping trip with his coworkers and their families to the San Diego KOA.

We are big fans of KOAs with young kids because they always have fun activities, mostly clean facilities, and pretty well-kept campgrounds. They also have options for cabin rentals and sometimes teepee rentals if you’re into that! We did tent camping which the kids love. This is the year we perfected our grilled pizzas and that was usually the dish we contributed to our group camping trips where each family is in charge of a meal.

I will have to make another blog post about how we make our campfire pizzas!

The San Diego KOA was a lot of fun….I do wish it was warmer when we went so we could enjoy the pool more! While we were there they were building a whole bigger pool area so we definitely need to come back and check it out!

These giant bubble wands are always a hit with kids. Buy them from Amazon here (aff link):

A few weeks after this camping trip, we were off to our next adventure! We went to Phoenix with some friends to stay at Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort. They have an amazing pool area with a lazy river and the weather was perfect for it! The kids had a blast because we went with some of their (and our) best friends! While there we had some amazing pizza at Stumpy’s….you have to check it out if you’re ever in Phoenix. We also visited the Children’s Museum of Phoenix which is a must do if you have kids. It’s one of the bigger children’s museums we’ve been to and lots of fun! I seriously wish I could just go around the world traveling with my family and friends.

Our family is seriously obsessed with lazy rivers!

At the joint birthday party we threw for her and Max, a cousin gifted her with her first pet. She has been begging for one but we haven’t allowed her one so her cousin’s parent asked me if it’s ok to get her a fish. Luckily boyrobot loves fish so we allowed the gift. Here is Rega 1…isn’t she a beauty?

Yes she was Rega 1 because shortly thereafter she ended up dying. We ended up trying again and getting her a 2nd betta fish but that one also died. I think our house got too cold (or hot?) for it. We gave up after that :(

This year, Emma got really close to boyrobot. For a long time, I was probably her favorite….but because of Max and his neediness, she naturally drew closer to boyrobot. She’s also such a peacemaker and would always concede to her brother to make him happy. She is seriously the sweetest kid I know (I may be biased but I swear it’s true!). One day she is going to be a great mom, caretaker or just child advocate I think. She has such a nurturing soul at such a young age already!

Performing “The Greatest Dad” for Father’s Day

Some pics from Emma graduating Kindergarten. I loved her teacher and her room mom. They made her first year in school so special and fun!

For the past several years, June is Emma’s recital time. This past year she performed in Beauty and the Beast as a “teacup”. I never get pictures of the actual recital since photography is not allowed but we have a DVD of her performance and she loves rewatching all of her old shows!

In July, my whole family came to visit to celebrate my grandfather turning 80! Emma absolutely loves other kids so she was so happy to get to hang out with her cousins that we only see maybe twice a year! We took them around to some of our favorite spots and then at the end of their trip we all headed to Las Vegas for 4th of July!

Emma and her favorite cousin, Madison!

As you know, I started recently travel hacking so don’t be surprised when I tell you we got on another plane for another trip! This time we visited Oklahoma for my 20th year high school reunion! My parents still live there so we stayed with them. It was my first trip on a plane with the kids by myself and they were so good! I’m so happy they are natural travelers and love traveling just as much as I do. Most people think Oklahoma is so boring but there’s so much to do with young kids! We visited the aquarium (which was one of the coolest I’ve been to!), a children’s museum, and Woolaroc! We also made a pit stop at Pioneer Woman’s restaurant. (delish!). It was so fun attending my reunion too since most of my friends came back for it. I even got to meet one of my favorite bloggers (who married someone from my high school!).

So cool how we got to pet a baby deer at Woolaroc!

Aside from vacations, we filled the kid’s summer with some summer camps and activities like gymnastics and swimming. I had won a week long camp session for Emma at Inside The Outdoors so she really enjoyed that! We also did a science camp that both her and Max were able to do together. There was also lots of beach time since everyone in my family loves the beach except for me lol.

Throughout this year, you will see Emma’s love and want for a pet continue to grow. She devises all different ways to bug boyrobot about getting a pet. Sometimes we visit Petsmart when they have adoptions on the weekend and she will literally stay there for hours just petting and looking at the cats! We also volunteered at our local pet shelter.

Right before school starts, Emma got to attend her first real sleepover with friends. Our dear friends Hoa and Mike hosted and of course Emma had a blast! I keep forgetting that it’s my turn to host the next one.

We also squeezed in another camping trip for my birthday over labor day weekend. We took the kids fishing for the first time!

Emma started 1st grade this past year and got Mrs. Bortz as her teacher. Her group of friends is always changing but I think if I were to name her closest friends in 1st grade they would be Lily, Annie, and Krystal.

This year is when Emma really started taking her extracurriculars seriously! Emma had her first recital in September. She did amazing and it actually kickstarted her love for piano. After this show, she started practicing daily without us even prompting her! She also joined the performing troupe at her ballet studio. This required a 2nd ballet class every week and much more rehearsals and shows. She also had to prepare for her end of year exam to pass her first level of ballet! Along with all of this, she decided to become a girl scout. This girl is so busy but she loves it!

A quick trip to Legoland with friends. Emma’s best friend is a girl named Katie who is our close friend’s daughter. We don’t get to see them as often as we would like but whenever we do the girls are like glue and get along so well!

For Halloween this year, Emma requested a Tinkerbell costume. I tried my best :)

And in November, Emma finally lost her first tooth! She had been waiting forever for that to happen so she was super excited. Luckily she is sentimental and wanted to keep her first tooth so I didn’t have to figure out how the tooth fairy was going to work.

We also made a quick trip to Disney this month thanks to our super awesome neighbors April and Mike who gift us with tickets every year. I really miss being an annual passholder!

For Christmas we did an epic road trip to the Grand Canyon….I will have to make a separate post for that as there are just too many pictures to share and this post is getting crazy long already lol.

In January we took a trip to Brianhead with friends.

Emma decided to do 100 days of pictures for her 100th day of school

Emma loves when we go on mommy/daughter dates! This time we went to eat sushi and an art studio. She loved this so much.
So proud of her academic achievements in school. She got a 100% on every spelling test she took this past year!
Emma took her first ballet exam this year and we just got her results. She scored top marks and passed with flying colors!! Since she also got invited to join the performing group at her studio this past year her practices and shows have been crazy! She is really enjoying it though. She seriously amazes me and I can’t believe we have a dancer in this family lol.
Another bestie pic
Friends from school, Annie and Lily, after their America themed music program

This year she had her birthday party at the Turtle Rock Nature Center. It was such a unique space to have a birthday party and the kids (and parents!) enjoyed it very much. They let the kids make an art craft, go on a scavenger hunt and mini hike, and played games. It was so fun!

More cake with some of her cousins

On her actual birthday, she had school, but I took the day off to spend with her. We took her to John’s Incredible Pizza where she told me it was her best birthday ever. I love how easy kids are to please at this age lol!

My Trader Joe’s cake hack I read about online. Cut out your number using one of their cakes and cover with fruit, flowers, and macarons! Fancy right? lol
Max made this card for Emma. So sweet right??

So happy to be the mom of this amazing, thoughtful, and sweet girl. She told me the other day she just enjoys talking to me. I love hearing about her day and I hope she is always willing to share it with me. I am really treasuring this time with her….it’s seriously so fun! She’s the best daughter I could ask for and I can’t wait to see what year 7 has in store for her! Happy birthday, Emma!

And here are her birthday questions for this year (with my comments in parentheses):

1. What is your favorite color? pink and turquoise
2. What is your favorite toy? iPad
3. What is your favorite fruit? oranges and lychees
4. What is your favorite tv show? World Of Dance
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? pad thai
6. What is your favorite outfit? my lightning pants
7. What is your favorite game? boys against girls freeze tag
8. What is your favorite snack? chocolate crepes
9. What is your favorite animal? dogs
10. What is your favorite song? What If I Shine by Barbie
11. What is your favorite book? Fox In Socks (it’s a tongue twister book that she loves showing off how fast she can read!)
12. Who is your best friend? Katie B. (3 years running now!)
13. What is your favorite cereal? Lucky charms
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? play All Around The World Red Light Green Light (I guess this is another game they play at recess at school)
15. What is your favorite drink? milkshakes
16. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? Lambie
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon
19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday? pad thai
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? I don’t know (and that’s ok Emma!)

Part 2: Spring Break – San Antonio/Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort

Love being able to take my parents on vacations!

The next day my parents met up with us for the start of the San Antonio part of our trip. Our first stop was the Natural Bridge Caverns. I just love cave tours and this one did not disappoint! At first, I was worried it would be too difficult for my parents (who are pretty old now! :() but they did it with no problems. I was probably huffing and puffing more than them lol. We also did some gem mining there that the kids loved!

This one is called “King’s Throne”!

Minh really insisted on seeing The Alamo on this trip so we headed there after the cave tour. I can’t say that it was that exciting but at least now I can say I’ve been there! Max was excited to take a picture of this gun that was taller than him at one of the exhibits they had outside of the Alamo.

We then walked across the street to check out the Riverwalk. We contemplated going on a boat ride but by that time the kids were getting tired and I wasn’t sure if they would enjoy the boat ride that much. At least we have something to do when we return again!

The part I was looking forward to the most was checking into our hotel! Another amazing travel hacking redemption!! In my previous post about Miraval, I told you about the Hyatt card. Another great perk of the card is that you get a free category 1-4 room at any of their properties. After doing some research, I found one of the top redemptions you can make is at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort! I also had a random free night that I’m not sure how I got but was able to take my parents along and then had enough points to spring for a 2nd night. My sister also got this card so she joined us on our 2nd night.

This resort is SO perfect for families. The setting is so green and serene. The water park is big and fun. They had a pretty good sized lazy river, pools with basketball hoops, and a perfect slide for little kids since you don’t need to know how to swim to ride it! Even as an adult, I thought the slide was so fun lol. Emma made me go on it like 10 times! The resort also has free bikes to ride around in, in ALL different sizes so our little Max could even ride! They even have bikes with training wheels. My parents had a blast riding bikes around the resort. There was also ping pong, lawn chess, hammocks, cornhole, etc. Every day they had scheduled activities from arts and crafts to wildlife feedings, to pool games. The nights all ended with free campfire smores and a movie on the lawn. It was seriously SO FUN!!! Definitely one of the most fun hotels we’ve been to for the kids! And to top it off, the hotel staff here are so unbelievably nice and welcoming. It must be that Texas hospitality! We had a great stay here and I wouldn’t hesitate to use my next year’s free room here again!

Chess king in the making :)

Riding bikes all around the grounds
I totally forgot to get a picture of the lazy river but it was a little too windy that day to truly enjoy it. Max and I enjoyed the hot tub much more!
I had no idea my parents had never had a s’more before so it was fun for them to eat it for the first time!
Every night they showed a movie on the lawn and supplied blankets and popcorn. First night they showed Moana and the next night was Ralph Breaks The Internet (I love this movie!!)

On our 2nd night, boyrobot and I were able to slip away for a quick date night! They had a fancy restaurant on site called Antler’s Lodge which serves game meat and is right up our alley. We rode the free bikes to the restaurant and proceeded to enjoy a nice dinner with no distractions! The food was pretty good too.

I think this was mac n cheese with boar bacon or something crazy like that. It was sooooo good!
Bison Short Rib

After staying here for 2 nights, we headed straight back to the airport to fly home. When we left, Emma was so sad and said she can’t wait to come back to this hotel and see her cousins again! And while working on her About Me poster for school I asked her what was her favorite trip she has been on and she said this one!!! So this trip was definitely one for the books according to my kids :)

Part 1: Spring Break 2019 – Austin

This post ended up being really long so I’m going to break them up into 2 parts!

As some of you know my brother and sister moved to Austin a few years ago so we’ve been going to Austin pretty frequently. At first when I booked this trip, boyrobot wasn’t sure if he could join us because of work so we booked our tickets separately. After the baby stage, the kids have been great travelers (as long as they have their iPad lol). I make sure to have treats for them during takeoff and landing but other than that, flying with them is pretty much a breeze thank goodness. We got all of our tickets for sooo cheap. They were around $120RT EACH! We flew there on Frontier and Jetblue back. A lot of people hate on Frontier but I’ve honestly never had a problem with them. It does suck not getting drinks or a snack on the plane but if you prepare ahead, it’s totally fine!

If you’re looking for kid headphones these are great! They fold flat so it’s easy to pack and the kids seem to find it more comfortable than normal headphones. Aff Link: I’ve also gotta link to Emma’s suitcase since everyone kept commenting on how awesome her luggage was! It’s a good case if you’re looking for a hardcase rolling one for kids. It fits under the seat as well and we’ve had no problems taking it on Allegiant, Spirit, or Frontier as her personal bag. It fits so much too!! And the coolest thing is the white side you can draw and color on. We got it at Target. Lastly, whenever we travel now I always put my kids in their “world traveler” shirt. It’s super soft and comfy and perfect for the plane. The lady who sells these on Etsy runs a Facebook group called Tiny Globetrotters that is a must if you want to travel with young kids!

My brother picked us up from the airport and we immediately headed to grab some food. We’ve been to Austin several times but have never eaten at Torchy’s! I’m not a big fan of Mexican food but these tacos were so tasty. I was so famished that I did not even get a picture of them lol. The weather was so beautiful we ate on their outdoor patio area. The only annoying thing was how many bees were everywhere. They kept following us and scaring the kids so we had to rush through our meal. Afterwards we tried Casey’s New Orleans Snowballs for dessert recommended by one of my cousins. It was soooo good. It reminded me of Joe’s Italian Ice back in Anaheim but their ice cream might have even tasted better! We got the rainbow flavor.

Afterwards we finally headed to my sister’s house where we would be staying while in Austin. We contemplated doing an escape room or going to the movies but per the usual we were too lazy to leave the house lol.

The next morning we visited my sister and brother’s shrimp store, Diz Shrimp! They recently had to move all of their shrimp tanks because the warehouse they were using ended up being sold I think. It was amazing to see all of the expensive shrimp they are raising and all of the work that goes into maintaining their shrimp. If you ever come to my house, you can see our own pet shrimp that are boyrobot’s joy and pride. It’s funny how shrimp hobbyists become so obsessed with their shrimp! If you have any questions about shrimp or are interested in starting your own tank, just ask! I have to admit they have been the best pet for us because it’s practically ZERO maintenance and they look so cool! The particular setup we have does not even require for us to change the water or clean the tank. Our snails and plants do all of the work!

After the shrimp store, we figured we should do something fun with the kids so we took them to the Austin Nature & Science Center. This place is small and free so don’t expect something crazy but it kept our kids entertained for a few hours! There was a cool dino pit where kids can dig for dinosaur bones, a small interactive area with science-y things to play with, pretty trails, and a lot of caged animals including this tiny bobcat that looked like a large cat!! There was also this raven who had some friends on the “outside” who kept talking to the caged raven. It was actually kind of sad to see….they kept cawing and flying up to the cage as if they were trying to free their friend!!! But all of the caged animals are permanently injured in some way and cannot survive in the outdoors :(

The best part about this trip was seeing my kids interact with my sister’s kids. They really had so much fun on this trip and grew so close. It made me feel so much better about leaving them in August for Iceland! Here they are painting canvases that my talented sister set up for them out of the blue!

She also made them these cute foods for breakfast the next day lol. She is like a real life pinterest mom!

My kids love my niece’s pet guinea pig Spike since we have not allowed them any real pets….another perk of visiting their cousins!

On this trip, we also finally tried the famed Franklin’s BBQ which normally has a several hour wait no matter the day or time! Luckily my brother told us we can preorder so we were able to do that and avoid the outrageous line. The brisket was unbelievably tender and moist! Probably the best I’ve ever had. I would definitely say it’s worth it to eat at least once! We ended up taking the BBQ and eating at nearby UT Austin.

Afterwards, we took the kids to The Thinkery, a children’s museum. It had a lot of the typical things a children’s museum has including a water play area, a pretend grocery store, a playground, and an art center. They had lots of fun, interactive exhibits too….it’s worth a visit if you are in Austin with kids. I just realized I did not take any pictures of the inside and only have this 1 from the outside.

The next day we drove to San Antonio so I’ll continue that part in a separate post!