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September 2018
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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!! :)

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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.

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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.

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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!
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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.
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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.

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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!
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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.

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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.

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Ready for swim class!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Max’s year in pictures:

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

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

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Always and forever collecting flowers for his mama :)

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Getting ready for the trikeathon at school!

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Feeding me ice cream in Austin

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These costumes cracked me up

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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!!!

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Max built a bunch of tie fighters with his magnatiles

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Taking his first passport photo!

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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!

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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.

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

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

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

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Annual Santa pic

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Adventures with Emma

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

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

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On one of our camping trips to San Diego KOA

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To Minh’s dismay he loves guns hehe

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At a performance at his preschool

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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

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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.

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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.

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(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).

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(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.

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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!

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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!

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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!! :)

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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!).

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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! :)

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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.

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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!!!!

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

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

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

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Biking is one of her favorite things to do!

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Things I Am Loving

Just a few things I am obsessing over right now and you should be too:

The Greatest Showman movie. Yes…if you are close to me you you are probably sick of me raving about this movie. I watched it TWICE in the theaters. I hardly watch anything twice let alone twice in the movie theaters!!! I just LOVE how this movie takes me away to another time and the message of the movie. The soundtrack is amazing. I also bought that and listen to it a million times a day. This movie is definitely in my top 5 movies ever :)

Classpass (click here to get $40 off your first month!). Anyone who knows me knows I have such a hard time sticking with a workout routine. I lose interest fast. I get lazy fast! Who knew Classpass was the answer for me! You pay a monthly fee and you get to try out all of these different classes! I’ve done yoga, pilates, TRX, kickboxing, and even a very embarrassing flexibility class where apparently everyone else in the class was some kind of pro dancer LOL. It was still fun though! I’m addicted to trying everything and hopefully I’m getting stronger/healthier by the class!

My air fryer. You might think this is another gimmicky food gadget but I have never cooked so much in my life! I got it on a hot deal for Black Friday and I LOVE it. Things I’ve made in it: all the frozen foods, steaks, hamburgers, chicken wings, ribs, bacon, hash browns, eggs, salmon, french fries, and a variety of vegetables. The cleanup is a breeze (Cleaning is probably my #1 reason to not cook so when I say it’s a breeze I really mean it!) and everything cooks up faster than if I were to do it in the oven. And did I mention the crispyness? It’s unreal that I am making all of these crunchy things and either not using any oil or just a tiny spray. It’s amazing !!!!

2018: The Year of the Declutter

Decluttering has been on my mind for years. I have been slowly chiseling away at my mountain of stuff since I first heard and read about The Konmari Method. I did a 1 month declutter challenge (made it over half way through but got stuck somewhere and never finished). I started doing a capsule wardrobe (I LOVE IT) and have kept at it for 6 months now and am fully committed to seeing this through. My secret…I have kept half of my clothes in our spare closet as a “just in case” because I didn’t think I could do it. Turns out I can! So I will be going through all of my stuff and really being ruthless about what clothes I am keeping. I periodically will declutter a cupboard or drawer in my kitchen but I really need to rehaul the whole space. And don’t even get me started on the kid’s toys and clothes. That one scares me the most honestly.

BUT. 2018 is going to be the year I do it. Or try to ha ha. I’ve done enough reading about it and thinking about it. Every time I do a little bit, it feels amazing. So I know if I can just finish my whole house I am going to be so much happier! For the most part, I think i’m going to follow Konmari’s method and use this cheatsheet to keep me on track. I am going to deviate in the beginning by doing something she suggests not to do and that is to not declutter by room. Our office/guest room has become sort of a dumping ground of sorts. I just want to clear out the whole room and use that as my base for the rest of the decluttering. I feel like there’s so much I can get rid of in that room and that it will help motivate me to finish the rest!

Anyways, I know I haven’t blogged in awhile but I suddenly felt inspired and sometimes writing it here for all of the world (well the 2 or 3 people that still read this blog LOL) can help me feel more accountable. Also, if anyone else needs the nudge to declutter their own home let me know so we can cheer each other on! :)

Christmas 2017

Christmas is in full swing at our house. It’s one of my favorite holidays and so fun because the kids still believe in Santa wholeheartedly. Although I am afraid Emma’s days of believing are probably numbered. A conversation we had recently:

(Driving to Westminster Mall to get Santa pics taken)
Emma: Oh I thought we were going to see Santa at Bella Terra….that’s where we saw him before!
Me: The Santa here is better
Emma: What? The Santa here is better? That means there are TWO SANTAS?!?!?!?!?!?
Me: (ughghghghghghghg)
Me: Oh noooooo….I mean the background for the pictures is better over here! In fact, Santa is driving over here from Bella Terra right now!

Luckily, I think she bought it :)

And it was so cute, we showed up in line before they opened so Santa hadn’t arrived yet. When he finally appeared, Max raised his tiny little fist and said “YES!!!!!” in the CUTEST VOICE EVER jumping up and down with excitement. Sometimes I wish I could just always record my life so I can capture these magical moments when my kids do stuff like this (says every parent right???).

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(Yes, Max is wearing his Darth Vader pajamas because this is the only acceptable attire to meet Santa in even though I had a very nice and expensive JCrewcuts sweater for him to wear!!! He is going through a phase where he refuses to wear long sleeves, anything with buttons, anything that is not 100% cotton, or anything that is not Star Wars related. Oh Max.)

Time is just going too fast and I can see them growing up right in front of my eyes. Soon they will be surly teenagers who don’t even want to put up a Christmas tree or think going to see Christmas lights is the most exciting thing ever. I know this because I was that surly teenager at one point. I look back and I can’t believe I went through such a Grinch period about Christmas (sorry Mom!). You would never know if you walked into my house now. We have a REAL XMAS tree and decorating it is one of my favorite things to do with the kids. We listen to Christmas music 24/7 and have been for weeks (maybe even before Thanksgiving? lol…yes I am one
of THOSE people). And I love all the lights and inflatable Xmas decorations. The more tacky they are, the BETTER. We have not one, not two, but THREE Christmas advent calendars going at the same time.

Kids change your perspective in the best way, don’t they? <3

Where I Post About Everything And Nothing At All

I have 10 million things I need to post about including the following and more:

1. Boyrobot and I have been married for 8 years now! The obligatory blog post where I gush about what a great guy he is. How awesome marriage is (but also how hard!). Everything I have learned about marriage thus far. A recap of our marriage in the last year.

2. I turned 38. What I did for my bday this year. A recap of my past year. My goals for next year (who am I kidding? I never follow through lol). What I am thankful for list.

3. Travel hacking. I’m doing it and it’s awesome. So many fun trips planned including our family’s first international trip…to Italy!!!

4. Swimming lessons!!! I’m finally doing it and so excited to cross this off my bucket list. I told my teacher my goal is to swim laps and we’re almost there!

5. My little brother getting married. He’s the last one in our family!! We leave for Austin next week….so exciting!

6. Whole30 round 2. Yup, I’m doing it again! Well trying to at least. :)

7. Capsule Wardrobe. Finally did this too and it is the best thing I ever did!

8. I LEARNED HOW TO FOLD A FITTED SHEET AND IT CHANGED MY LIFE! One of these days I’ll share a tutorial! :)

9. Random posts about my kids. Because they’re funny and kind of cute sometimes.

Max’s 3rd Year Birthday Questions

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I wrote a little post about Max on Facebook when a picture of him when he was born popped up in my feed. This pretty much sums up how I feel about him:

So fun to see this. My last baby announcement (we think lol). My baby is now 3!!!! Ugh. I’m not a baby person at all but it is definitely nostalgic to think about the day this guy was born and how much he has grown in these 3 years. To no surprise after raising sweet little Emma, Max has not been the easiest kid with his OCD tendencies, his tantrums, and his love of having his mom do ALL. THE. THINGS. for him. He is a true momma’s boy. But like all difficult children, they make it up in other ways that ensure you love them no less than your other children. He totally has my heart and the love and affection he shows us is so pure and unadulterated. Even though he is so tiny, he gives the biggest and best kisses and hugs! He makes all of us laugh daily with his animated expressions and the funniest things you will ever hear a human say. As you all know, his favorite thing is Star Wars. His obsession with this is unreal and he’s only just started! I never imagined a life of light saber duels and tie fighter attacks but I seriously couldn’t imagine it any other way. Love this little guy!!!

Yes as I wrote above, Max is all about Star Wars. I am not sure how it started (maybe a youtube clip?) but one day he was just super obsessed with everything Star Wars. I got him those Little Golden Books that I had blogged about awhile ago and we literally read 1-2 of them every night. He LOVES them. He knows all of the characters and can name all of the starships! I am a little sad that he already knows that Luke and Leia are siblings and Darth is their father though. It’s such a cool moment when you are watching and finding that out right? :( But with the way his obsession is going, there was no way I could keep him from finding that out! It’s been so fun to see this little 2 year old gather and remember so much random trivia and knowledge. Who knew? Minh and I are not big Star Wars fans (we’ve seen the movies and like them but nowhere near the superfans that other people are) so it’s been shocking to see this develop in him! But we are embracing it and slowly learning all about Star Wars too :)

For his birthday, we definitely had to throw him a Star Wars party. After Emma’s Moana party though, I just couldn’t handle another party at our house. Maybe in a few years I can throw him a proper Star Wars party (which makes me wonder if I am going to be throwing him a Star Wars party every year from now on? lol). But anyways, we turned to every kid’s favorite place…CHUCK E CHEESE! It was actually really great (because no work for me!) and I think all of the kids had a lot of fun. I handed out those Little Golden Star Wars books as favors along with mini glow stick light sabers. Love my photoshop skillzzzz? LOL.

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My sad cupcakes and homemade darth vader that I made after watching a Youtube video. I swear I followed the directions exactly and it still didn’t turn out right!! LOL
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He got a TON of Star Wars presents which is perfect…he was super happy! But now our house is completely overloaded with Star Wars stuff. I have NO idea how to store all of these toys!!!

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For his actual birthday, we decided to finally hit up Adventure City since I wanted to visit it before the kids outgrew all of the rides. It’s the perfect park for young kids! They both had tons of fun, especially Emma who has surprisingly turned out to be quite a daredevil when it comes to rollercoasters and other rides!

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After we got home, we made chocolate strawberry cupcakes from scratch and we were so lucky our nearby friends stopped by to help us eat some!! Then we settled in for movie night. This was Max’s first viewing of a complete Star Wars movie. Of course we had to start with A New Hope. HE LOVED IT!!!! I can see this becoming a tradition on his birthday! :)

Before we get to the birthday questions….some pictures of Max at age 2!

Still too scared to cut his hair myself! He’s so cute when he has a fresh new haircut!
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I think his scooter might be one of his favorite things!
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Trying to get him to use the balance bike more
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Lots of fun camping trips and hikes this year!
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And lots of mini vacations including Big Bear
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Driving a Tesla
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And a dump truck! (another fave)
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Max’s first time meeting Darth Vader. He was TERRIFIED!!! But a few weeks later we went back to Disneyland and met Darth again and was super brave and always tells people he’s not afraid of Darth anymore hehe.
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We got the socal pass for Disneyland this year so many nights ended in complete exhaustion for this little guy! He loves it there though especially with all of the Star Wars stuff. We can’t wait for Star Wars land to open up!
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When we’re at home Max is almost always playing with his sister and almost always wearing some type of Star Wars mask :)
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Some things about Max at this age:
– He’s super competitive and hates to lose. If we don’t let him win, he throws the biggest tantrums! We try to use it to our advantage and make things like brushing his teeth into a competition!
– He is still very underweight but he is not a very picky eater which I’m thankful for!
– He’s very particular about things, like a lot of toddlers are. For example, he ALWAYS has to pull his pant legs all the way down (you know how sometimes they get pulled up a little?). If he puts his shoes on the wrong feet, you have to leave them that way. He did it on purpose! Mom has to help him do everything unless she’s not there then Daddy can help (ie. take him out of his carseat). When he eats his Mamma Chia pouches he always has to check the lid to see if any seeds are stuck in the top and gets mad that we squeezed the pouch causing the seeds to go up there. Yes…the list goes on.
– He is super affectionate. He loves to give kisses and is always holding Emma’s hand. He is ALWAYS asking me to cuddle with him in his super cute toddler voice and I melt a little every time!
– He makes the most animated facial expressions and thinks everything is hilarious
– His favorite word is BBQ and he attaches it randomly to whatever he is saying.
– He loves bubbles, cooking (pretend and real!), sensory boxes, play-doh, and watching people mow the lawn
– We let him watch his first movie this past year and he loved it. We watched Sing!

Cooking with the kids

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

1. What is your favorite color? red (surprising because it’s been purple all year long! I think he chose red because of Darth Vader)
2. What is your favorite toy? his new Star Wars voice changing helmet
3. What is your favorite fruit? strawberries
4. What is your favorite tv show? STAR WARS (he doesn’t really watch TV but just likes to watch anything related to Star Wars)
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? apples
6. What is your favorite outfit? Darth Vader pajamas
7. What is your favorite game? Hide and Seek
8. What is your favorite snack? puffs (still loves to eat these even though they are for babies hehe)
9. What is your favorite animal? chicken (this was a totally random answer too!)
10. What is your favorite song? Jingle Bells (not sure how he came up with that one other than that is the song Emma is currently learning on piano! hehe)
11. What is your favorite book? Star Wars (we have a billion Star Wars books and he chooses 2 to read every night)
12. Who is your best friend? Katie (I think he only said this because Emma is always saying Katie is her best friend hehe)
13. What is your favorite cereal? I don’t know
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? play with my lawnmower that blows bubbles
15. What is your favorite drink? juice (usually apple juice)
16. What is your favorite holiday? Easter because of the candy!
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? Woofie (his purple dog that he got for Easter)
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? Mamma Chia
19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday? BBQ (he doesn’t really want BBQ but it’s his favorite word hehe)
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? A jedi!

Emma’s 5th Year Birthday Questions

My firstborn turned five yesterday! Five seems like one of the big milestone ages. My daughter is truly no longer a baby or toddler. She is a KID. With her own thoughts and opinions! Soon she will enter into Kindergarten where her parents will no longer be her whole world. I am truly sad and excited for her! I love having a front row seat watching my children grow and develop into little human beings. I may be biased but they are exceeding everything I could hope for them to be. Emma is truly one of the sweetest kids around. She is so good with other children and especially her (sometimes difficult) younger brother. We truly feel so lucky that she was our firstborn. She was the perfect first child for 2 people who completely did not know what we were doing as first time parents. :)

This past year, Emma has grown SO much. We used to worry so much about how shy and quiet she was. I actually thought she might have selective mutism at one point LOL! You would never have guessed how shy she is from her 5th birthday party she just had. We had over 70 people at our house and she was having so much fun with all of her friends. In fact, her favorite thing to do is to hang out with her friends. She is always begging for playdates! She used to be the most cautious kid ever as well. She is still careful but she has gotten over so many of her past fears this year. Each of these activities used to draw out tears from her: riding a pony, sledding, going down slides, going on roller coasters (kiddie ones). This past year she not only rode a pony but rode a “trotting” pony (goes faster than a normal pony ride), went sledding multiple times, slid down a super high slide, and went on a roller coaster 10 times in one day hehe (Gadget Go Coaster at Disneyland!). She gets super excited about facing and overcoming hear fears. Oh and did I mention she learned how to ride a bike without training wheels this past year? For a girl who has always been behind physically, we were shocked but she did it!

She is still continuing ballet and loves it. She also tried soccer (hated it), piano (loves it), and swimming (the jury is still out but as of last lesson she loves it!). She loves dancing, singing, and performing. She loves all things girly and the more glittery the better! She loves to go on adventures…from the beach, to the movies, to the playground…she loves it all.

We did not do any major vacations this year (aside from Seattle to visit my sister) but we did do a lot of local trips, camping/glamping, and some roadtrips. Emma loves the outdoors and had so much fun visiting Big Bear and Big Sur. She has several camping trips under her belt and will never turn down a S’more.

For her 5th birthday, we threw her a Moana-themed party at our house complete with a real live Moana that came and sang! We had a bounce house and several water sensory activities in the backyard. For her actual birthday, we went to Disneyland and she got a princess makeover at the Bippity Boppity Boutique where they did her hair, nails, and makeup. I can’t believe how happy it made her and was so glad we did it.

Emma is sweet, kind hearted, loving, smart, and makes us proud every day!! I can’t wait to see what year 5 brings for her.

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

1. What is your favorite color? pink, gold, silver, and purple
2. What is your favorite toy? my new unicorn (that her uncle gave her for her birthday)
3. What is your favorite fruit? watermelon
4. What is your favorite tv show? Dancing With The Stars (it just so happened to be the show she was currently watching, but when i pressed her more she said Lego Friends)
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? apples (I think this is her favorite food item they serve at school for lunch?)
6. What is your favorite outfit? A dress
7. What is your favorite game? Don’t know (but she loves board/card games like Spot It, War, Uno)
8. What is your favorite snack? cupcakes (this girl has a sweet tooth for sure!)
9. What is your favorite animal? bunnies!
10. What is your favorite song? We Love Peanut Butter (This just happens to be the song they are learning at school for a performance)
11. What is your favorite book? Boom Chicka Rock (and the Book With No Pictures)
12. Who is your best friend? Katie/Evangeline
13. What is your favorite cereal? Lucky charms (she said this all scared because I never buy this cereal for her because she only eats the marshmellows! hehe)
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? play
15. What is your favorite drink? juice
16. What is your favorite holiday? Valentine’s Day
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? nothing
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? strawberries
19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday? BBQ
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? mommy!

My Whole30 Experience And My Lazy Recommendations

I finally bit the bullet and attempted my first ever Whole30 this past month. In case you don’t know what it is, it is not a diet but more of a month long detox of 4 simple food groups. I was very intimidated to do this because to be honest, I rarely cook anymore and usually eat my MIL’s cooking or eat out. I maaaaybe cook once a week. I knew if I was to do a Whole30, I’d have to be responsible for every single one of my meals for 30 days. That might have been scarier to me than the actual act of denying myself some of my favorite foods! ha ha.  So the  4 “simple” food groups were  legumes, dairy, sugar, and grains….which turns out is in EVERYTHING I EAT !!! Yes that means no soy sauce or rice which is a staple in my Asian diet!

So…why did I do this? Well I’ve had it on my informal bucket list for years! With my recent health scares and a dietbet that my cousin started, I thought this was the perfect time to try it out. I was curious to see if I would be able to do it and also what affect certain foods (if any) has on my body.

Well I am less than a week out from being done!!!! I honestly can’t believe the end is near. Let me tell you in the beginning it is SO UNBELIEVABLY hard. I thought about giving up several times. But by the end, I was sailing through birthday parties and even Disneyland with only a tiny ounce of regret. I feel like I have absolute control over my eating habits (which is an amazing feeling to have). My cousin was also doing it at the same time and we both agreed we felt invincible while doing this knowing how much self control and willpower we have when we put our minds to it!

So even though I still have a few days left, I think it’s safe to talk about the results (I will update if I see anything else different). For one thing, even though you are not supposed to do this to lose weight, it is an added benefit. I was able to meet and surpass my dietbet goal (lose 4% of my weight in 4 weeks) and am actually only a few pounds away from my PRE-KIDS weight! My coughing seems to be under control but I think that might coincide more with my restarting my medication again this past month.  My stomach itself has been so “calm” this past month too. TMI but I am very regular now and never have any stomach pains which probably means I am somewhat lactose intolerant. Boo.

I am not sure what I will do after my Whole30 ends. I think I may try to eat better at lunch time and keep eating at my MIL’s and just eat whatever on the weekend. I am more aware now though about when I am full and when I am eating just to eat or not waste food (I’m sure I’m not the only mom that finishes her kids foods!). Whole30 really has changed me in a way (for the better!) and I am really glad I did it. I highly recommend it for anyone who feels like they might have a bad relationship with food or who thinks food might be the culprit of any health problems or who just wants to challenge themselves to see what they are capable of!

Lastly, I will end with the products/foods that really helped me get through my whole30. Most of these products are no/low cook for my lazy self!

From TJs:
Chomps Beef Jerky sticks
RxBar Blueberry
Ginger Kombucha
Dehydrated Beets (although this might be considered a chip in which case it is now banned)
Turkey Burgers
Mini bell peppers
Rack of lamb (in the frozen section)

From Whole Foods:
Garlic spread (I forgot the brand but I think they only sell 1)
TessaMae’s Mayo and Ranch dressing

I also survived on La Croix (or Target’s cheaper copycat version) and finally tried sweet potato toasts (topped with avocado) – highly recommend!

Here are some of my meals I cooked. Most of these are freezable so I would make a large batch and eat them spread out so I wouldn’t get sick of them. (I apologize in advance for these horrible photos lol. I just took them in the phone usually in the evening with no natural lighting)

 

 

Paleo chili (I converted to the instant pot)
Whole30 chili

Best roasted vegetables ever (if you’ve never made roasted vegetables like this you have to try! Def don’t skip on the tomatoes in this recipe)
Roasted veggies

Egg, Sweet Potato, Kale, Sausage hash – I can’t seem to find where I got this recipe from but it’s basically what’s in the title hehe. I couldn’t find compliant breakfast sausage so I just took ground pork and add some “sausage” type spices to them. This was easily my favorite and easiest recipe on Whole30 and I will def be keeping this in my freezer for a quick and easy breakfast!
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Other than that I ate a lot of tuna/salmon salad. I bought the tuna that’s in olive oil and dumped it on a pile of mixed green. Added compliant mayo and lemon. Super quick and easy! Hardboiled eggs. Steak. Oh and I REALLY loved the frozen turkey burgers from TJs. I ate a lot of lettuce wrapped turkey burgers or just ate it over a bed of greens for an easy meal. I made ketchup with the mayo + tomato paste!

Let me know if any of you have done or will do a Whole30. I would love to hear your experience!