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October 2020



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!

Return To Blogging (Or So I Hope)

I was listening to a podcast the other day on the importance of memory keeping for our kids and for ourselves. As a person who is highly paranoid that she will one day get early onset Alzheimer’s, the episode really resonated with me. When you have kids, you use them as an excuse to put everything on the backburner. (Exercise, what’s that?). But I’ve decided to fully commit to putting blogging back at the top of my priorities! I’m not sure who is still here reading and I’m not sure how interesting it is to read about someone else’s life (especially if you don’t even know them!), but I know I have a lot of readers left over from the old days where I blogged about the most random things. I’m here to warn you from here on out, it will probably be posts that are more of the personal variety. I may post a thousand pictures you don’t care about and I may talk about the most trivial details that you have no care for. That’s ok…..just scroll on by or hit unsubscribe! Thanks for following me throughout all of the years as my life has revolved. This next stage is all about my family and the adventures we go on, so that’s what I want to focus on in my writing. :)

On a side note, I was reading Cup of Jo’s post about 12 Great Reader Comments On Love (a must read if you haven’t read it!!) and I so related to this one:

“The other morning, I picked up my 22-month-old son from his crib. I love how he goes limp over my shoulder and rests his head as he wakes up. But that morning, he rubbed my back, mimicking the way I do it and just said, ‘Oh, Mama’ in a sort of relieved sigh. It was the most honest declaration of love I’ve ever experienced.” — Laura

Max does this exact same thing and I’m serious….if you’ve never had this type of back rub from your own kid, you are missing out! There is no massage therapist that can mimic the feeling I get when he does this! These little moments are what makes being a mom so worth it to me. It sounds like such a tiny thing but it’s unbelievable to me the joy these tiny humans can invoke in me. These feelings are some of the ones I want to blog about and remember forever when they are grown and I no longer get these magical toddler back rubs.

A Review Of Our Magical Trip To Miraval Resort And Spa

As many of you know, I started travel hacking awhile ago and because of this, I have been on adventures and received perks that I never imagined I would get to have! I wanted to blog about one of my favorite trips I have EVER been on but also my best travel hacking redemption to date. Not only to inspire you to travel hack yourself, but also to record this most memorable trip for myself.

One of my favorite cards I have in my wallet is the World Of Hyatt Credit Card. When I signed up, the bonus was 2 free nights at any Hyatt hotel (no restrictions) after spending $2000 in 3 months. This can be an amazing deal, especially if you do like what I did and pick a resort like Miraval to redeem it at. A room at Miraval can be upwards of $1K/night! Not only is it a high end luxury resort and spa but it is also one of the rare all-inclusives in the US so it included all of my food and drinks, a bunch of activities, and a spa credit of $175. Celebrities have even stayed there including Oprah Winfrey and one of the Kardashians! When I first arrived there, I couldn’t help but pinch myself in disbelief that we were even there let alone that it was ALL FREE!! Boyrobot and I have always traveled very cheaply. We have stayed at some nice places…but almost always on a deal! This was in a completely different level from any other place we have stayed at….and let me tell you, it was so nice!! :)

When you first arrive, they give you a nice bag and water bottle to use while you’re walking around the resort to all of your classes

Another thing that made this trip so nice was that it was our first overnight trip alone since having kids!!! It was amazing to reconnect with Boyrobot on this trip and remember how we were before we had kids. Believe me, I LOVE my kids and my life right now, but getting a chance to vacation and spend time with my husband without the responsibility of having to take care of kids truly let me relax and enjoy every single minute of this trip.

The only kids at this resort are these statues lol

The service at this resort was impeccable. They whisked our luggage away to bring to our room which allowed us to take a quick tour of the resort. Everywhere we looked was just so beautiful, peaceful, and relaxing. They did a great job with the landscaping.




There are areas where you can swing, benches to admire the beautiful view (you are surrounded by mountains!), stones that you can stack, the sound of rushing water…it’s just breathtaking! There was also a pool, lap pool, and jacuzzi. There were very few people using the pools though so it’s not the crazy hectic pool scene you would find at other hotels.

When we made it to our room…it was just as comfy as you would expect!

Cellphones are not allowed outside of your room and they even have a special box for you to store them in if you wish. The room also had pen, paper, and an envelope so that you could write yourself a letter and they would mail you the letter in 3 months. There were little hidden, thoughtful things like this all throughout the resort.


Every morning we were there, we made sure to grab a free smoothie from their Starbucks-like cafe that had coffees, juices, and light pastries.


This green one was my favorite…you know if you order these at one of those hipster juice places it’s like $7+!!

Every meal was included for our trip and the food did not disappoint! It was organic, local, and usually had a healthy spin but was so delicious! Even boyrobot who normally does not like “healthy” food enjoyed it! Here is a sample menu from one dinner:


For dinner you could usually choose 2 appetizers, a main, and a dessert. But if you wanted more food you could order more.

I can’t seem to remember what most of these food pictures I took were, but I remember everything just tasted great! We were very impressed with the food.


Dessert was a creme brulee and some ice cream. They had really interesting flavors every night!!

When you check in, they give you the schedule for the weekend that allows you to see what classes are available. They have some free and some cost extra. With the credit we get for our free nights, we were able to do zip lining, tight rope walking, and get a massage. We also did a stretch class and separated for one class. I tried a spinning class for the first time while boyrobot took a beginner’s mountain biking class.

Each of the classes we did, they have a constant theme of being mindful, learning more about yourself, and challenging yourself. It sounds cheesy but I really enjoyed it! There was a lot of reflection on our feelings while doing some of these courses. Especially the tightrope walking which was way more scary than I thought it was going to be! It was cool to meet all the different types of people that were there and why they were there and to hear their stories. There were people of all ages and backgrounds! We had such a blast.





I did not take any pics at the spa, but that area was as relaxing and luxurious as you’d imagine.

All in all, it was an awesome trip for us. The whole time I was there, I was plotting how to come back lol! I will definitely be back one day!

Max’s 4th Year Birthday Questions

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Ok, I’m finally getting a little breather in my days to crank out this post. It’s only a few months late! :)

Just like every year and with every kid, it’s always so bittersweet to have your kid grow another year older. With Max, it’s especially so because this will be the last year I have a 4 year old (one of my favorite ages!). 3 and 4 seem to be the ages when they say the funniest things and just crack you up with their thoughts and observations. This guy is such a character. He always knows what you want to hear and loves making you smile or laugh. He’s very precocious and is constantly surprising us with what he already knows. He’s still very temperamental and honestly throws tantrums like a pro (he’s had many years of practice!). I don’t think he has gone a day without tears since pretty much anything will set him off! But give him a few minutes and he will be smiling like his usual self. He’s still way into Star Wars but has added Mighty Morphin Power Rangers to the mix.


He loves sports (especially soccer), math, camping, and cuddling. Unlike his older sister, we have been neglecting him in extra curricular activities. I did start a mommy and me swim class with him though so hopefully we can start to get him more comfortable in the water.

Ready for swim class!

He was not happy on the 1st day of school

This past year was his first year in preschool and we had him at Lee CDC, the same one Emma went to with the same teachers and everything. He loved it but also began each day he went with tears for the longest time! He just doesn’t like to say bye but by the end of the year he was all smiles.



For his bday party this year, we threw a joint one with Emma and it was The Greatest Showman themed! (Mostly because of me but the kids also saw the movie and loved it too so they agreed lol….mostly because I promised them cotton candy). We had it at Stanton Central Park which is a really nice park if anyone is looking for a bday party venue. It’s very clean and well kept and they have a splash pad that gets turned on in the summer months. The park also has a playground, a skate park, bball courts, and tennis courts.



For his actual bday, we took him and Emma to work since it was Take Your Kids To Work day! They are always so curious about what we do all day at work so they were super excited about it. Unfortunately we got there a little late in the day and some of the activities and freebies were gone. They still had fun though! For dinner that night, we got tickets to see the Pirate Dinner Show which the kids loved. I highly recommend those dinner shows for young kids (as long as they don’t get scared with lights and loud noises!). Finally we ended the night with a Star Wars movie (of course) and the whole family camping in the living room.



Max’s year in pictures:

Woofie is still much a part of Max’s life, his best friend!

This guy loves his scooter so much we can’t seem to get him to ride a bike!

Always and forever collecting flowers for his mama :)

Getting ready for the trikeathon at school!

Feeding me ice cream in Austin

These costumes cracked me up

You can’t tell but Max hated this stormtrooper costume I made for him. He is very picky about wearing uncomfortable things so this was torture for him even though he begged me to make a stormtrooper costume for him!!!

Max built a bunch of tie fighters with his magnatiles

Taking his first passport photo!

Emma fell asleep crying on the couch so he made this xmas tree to cheer her up when she wakes up. That’s just how he is!

I love this picture….when he could lay down sideways in an airplane seat!!! Not pictured: all of the times he threw up while on the airplane.

Just holding up the leaning tower of pisa with 1 hand. NBD.

This trip gave me a heart attack. I can’t believe he rode this horse all by himself in Italy!!!!

At the Brooklyn Children’s Museum (highly recommend this place!!)

Annual Santa pic

Adventures with Emma

He still loves Star Wars and especially AT AT Walkers (before him I never knew what these were called lol)

Disneyland is his favorite place…too bad we don’t have the annual pass anymore! :(


On one of our camping trips to San Diego KOA

To Minh’s dismay he loves guns hehe

At a performance at his preschool

Still prefers me but loves his Daddy soooo much!

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

1. What is your favorite color? black purple (this is a real color according to Max…just imagine a purplish black :))
2. What is your favorite toy? my stormtrooper costume
3. What is your favorite fruit? watermelon
4. What is your favorite tv show? STAR WARS (same as last year)
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? orange chicken
6. What is your favorite outfit? all of my Star Wars clothes at the same time
7. What is your favorite game? Star Wars
8. What is your favorite snack? oranges
9. What is your favorite animal? cat and bunny
10. What is your favorite song? Darth Maul theme song
11. What is your favorite book? His Star Wars book about all of the starships
12. Who is your best friend? Emma and mommy (and then he added daddy when Minh asked what about me??)
13. What is your favorite cereal? Panda peanut butter puffs
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? ride my scooter and bike
15. What is your favorite drink? Chrysanthemum tea, orange juice
16. What is your favorite holiday? all of them
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? Woofie!
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? bo kho with bread
19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday? What’s dinner? Egg sandwich
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? A police motorcycle


Dear Max,
Despite all of the tears and tantrums you throw, you have our whole family’s heart. You are my best buddy, Emma’s best friend, and Daddy’s mini me. You go from 0 to 90 in your feelings but that’s what your feelings are. BIG. You constantly make this family laugh with the things you say and also think hard when you ask us these deep questions that are beyond your years. You are so so smart and have such a curious mind. You amaze us with how quickly you pick things up. You are still the most competitive little person I’ve ever met and asks us to race at everything. You also hate to lose and pretty much make everyone in this family let you win (which is really annoying btw :P). Your obsession with Star Wars is so cute, you know all of the characters and starships and insist on wearing something Star Wars pretty much every day. You are brave, daring, and fast (like Flash!). You are so cute and make the best facial expressions. You went on your first international trip this past year and declared NYC your favorite place we’ve ever visited. I can’t wait to see all the adventures year 4 will bring you!

Emma’s 6th Year Birthday Questions

*This was written around Emma’s birthday, but I didn’t get around to adding the pictures until now….better late than never!

This blog is quite neglected by me but I tell myself if I only write 1 post a year, let it be these birthday posts for my kids! I love going back and reading them and it makes me so happy to remember how they change every year. I still remember bringing Emma home from the hospital and wondering WHAT did I just do?! Now I love being a mom and I can’t imagine not ever being one. Every day these little humans teach me so much about myself and the world around me. They have definitely made me a better person and I only hope that I am doing the same for them!

So let’s take a walk down memory lane of Emma’s year 5 here on Earth. She began the year with her graduation from preschool at Lee CDC. It was bittersweet wrapping up her years here because we loved it so much and were very nervous about what her new school would be like. Luckily, it turns out we LOVE her new school!!! but more on Kindergarten later.



Summer was filled with more swim classes. This past year Emma got to the point where she can swim small distances with her head in the water. We need to work on her diving though which she has MAJOR issues
with. I think in general, since she is a very cautious person, jumping into a pool of water freaks her out. Even if she knew how to swim I think she would be nervous about this. Not sure how to get her over this fear but I know one day she’ll be able to do it just like how she has gotten over so many of her other fears!

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She is also still in ballet at the same dance academy and had her annual recital in June where she was the cutest bunny you ever did see! She is still enjoying it so much and I’m glad she’s found a hobby that she enjoys so much.

(she’s the 2nd on the left)

We are also continuing piano and she is temporarily trying out chess again (she seems on the fence about this so we may not push her to do this again if she doesn’t want to).

(this is her playing a song for her preschool class!)

Family vacations this year included Big Bear, Vegas, 2 trips to Palm Springs (the same hotel too because we loved it so much!), a trip to Austin for my brother’s wedding, and our first family international trip!!! (to Italy).

Our good friends have a cabin in Big Bear which we have visited often throughout the years. Luckily, they invited us up there for the 4th of July. The best part is seeing Emma spend time with her bestie Katie. They have been friends since they were born and their friendship grows closer every year!

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For Palm Springs, we have been loving the Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort and Spa. My daughter’s biggest wish is to have a dog (sorry, but not going to happen any time soon :(). When I discovered that this hotel has a dog in the lobby that you can even walk, I knew we had to try it out. Our whole family fell in love with this dog, Picasso….so much that we almost considered adopting it LOL. But alas we didn’t, but my kids had a blast walking him and playing with him while we were at the hotel. This hotel also has a pool area with slide, movie nights, and other kid friendly events. The hotel is just super animal friendly too with these huge turtles and rabbits you can feed and reptile tanks! We also came back here for Easter which I highly recommend. They had a huge easter egg hunt, egg decorating, and other fun stuff for the kids.



We visit Vegas pretty much every year. Even though it’s so hot in the summertime these kids love it because that means pool time and they can never get enough pool time. This time we went off the strip and visited the Museum of Natural History which the kids loved! It was a simple museum but had some really fun exhibits for the kids. Another fun trip with friends….we love traveling with friends!

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My younger brother got married this past year and Emma got to be a flower girl! She loved the experience and it was so great to see all of my family in one place. Her favorite was just getting to spend time with her cousins though who she is always asking to visit. Wished we all lived closer!


Lastly, our crazy trip to NYC and Italy. I probably need to write a more extensive post on this one day since there is so much to say but I don’t want to take over this post with this one trip. I’ll just share the highlights. Emma discovered ice skating on this trip and literally went in every city we visited (I think she went 3 times!). She also rode a horse, rode bikes along the walls surrounding Lucca, ate a lot of gelato, and even made some Italian friends!




Trips were more limited this year since Emma started kindergarten which is why most of our trips were local! I still can’t believe I have a kid old enough to be in public school. She is LOVING it though and has an amazing teacher. We couldn’t be happier with her experience so far and everything she is learning. It’s so amazing watching her learn how to read and mastering her sight words. For one of her research projects for school they had to choose which community helper she wanted to be and she chose scientist. This tech mama was super happy to hear this!! :)





Some other notables this year was she ran her first marathon (the kids train throughout the school year and then run the final lap at the race), had her first sleepover, and got new glasses (they are pink now!).


For her birthday this year, we’re throwing her and Max a joint bday party next month so I will probably blog about that more in Max’s post. I love birthdays though and decided to throw her a mini party the weekend before her actual birthday. She has been begging me to throw her a surprise party (she just thinks the idea is so hilarious lol) so I knew I wanted to make that happen for her but on a smaller, more manageable scale. It turns out I also owe my friend that took Emma over for her first sleepover, one for her daughters and from there a surprise slumber birthday party was born. I decorated her room while Minh had her away from the house and had the girls come over and hide in her room. The girls were just as excited to surprise her as I was and it was literally the cutest thing to witness! They made her signs and everything. Emma was super surprised and sooooo excited. She had a BLAST with her friends and even woke up at 5:30am the next day because she couldn’t wait to play with them some more. The girls were very well behaved and all played well together. It definitely made me more confident about hosting more sleepovers in the future! :)



For Emma’s actual birthday, I knew she would LOVE to go ice skating again. She had no idea you could even do that near our house hehe. She had such a great time that she declared it the “best day ever” and wishes she could go every week. Why does ice skating have to be so expensive? hehe. We also took her to Benihana’s for her birthday. YUM THE FRIED RICE! So that wraps up Emma at age 5. She’s my super big 6 year old girl now! I’m crying nostalgic tears over here but I’m excited too for what the future holds for her. If I could sum up her personality at this age it would be super sweet, persistent, a little anxious, and most of all adventurous.



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

1. What is your favorite color? gold
2. What is your favorite toy? balloons (lol…i need to stop spending so much on other toys apparently)
3. What is your favorite fruit? watermelon
4. What is your favorite tv show? Camp Rock (a Disney movie since she doesn’t really watch tv)
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? pad thai
6. What is your favorite outfit? pink dress
7. What is your favorite game? Spot It
8. What is your favorite snack? pocky sticks
9. What is your favorite animal? a bunny rabbit
10. What is your favorite song? God Bless The USA (lol..she has some weird obsession with this song)
11. What is your favorite book? Press Here
12. Who is your best friend? Katie B.
13. What is your favorite cereal? Lucky charms
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? ride my bike
15. What is your favorite drink? passion orange guava juice
16. What is your favorite holiday? Halloween
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? my Dad
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? chocolate chip pancakes
19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday? BBQ
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? scientist

Happy birthday Emma. You bring so much joy to all of us and continue to be the best sister to your little brother. We’re so lucky to have you in our lives and I hope you always feel that and know that we love you to the moon and back! I hope you keep growing up to be kind and thoughtful to others and never stop trying new things that scare you. I hope you will always know your worth and not worry so much about what other kids think as you navigate the social aspect of school. Most of all, I hope you stay your happy, funny self!!!!

It says “watch tv and rock in a rocking chair”

She was bored one day and decided to write down everything she loves at the moment. (Elf is the movie :))


A rare photo with me since all of these photos are from my camera and I’m usually taking the photos!

Biking is one of her favorite things to do!