Personal / Relationships

Thirteen (for KC)

December 22, 2017

I can’t believe that it has been thirteen years since our first date. It’s crazy that these 20 and 21 year old babies “hung out” together over winter break back in 2004, and thirteen years later here we still are — six years married, two kids in, living in Amsterdam. I don’t think either of us could have ever fathomed what would have resulted from that date on December 22, 2004.I remember what we both wore — you: jeans and a Sunrise Mountain Sports t-shirt, me: jeans, a Hollister Christmas t-shirt (it was 2004, guys) and a kids UCLA sweatshirt. I remember wanting to hold your hand but being too nervous to make the first move.

It doesn’t feel like we’ve been together long enough to be in our “teen” years together, but looking back I realize just how much I do remember from these thirteen years.I remember you carrying me down the rape trail at UCLA after it had rained so my shoes wouldn’t get muddy. I remember the way you told a kid on BART who was bullying another kid to knock it off. I remember watching you in that moment and knowing with complete and utter certainty that I loved you. I remember your pep talks during my first semester of law school. I remember swimming at the USF pool between classes and daydreaming about marrying you. I remember you taking me out for a nice dinner when I was studying for the BAR after I had told you I was so overwhelmed with studying and remembering information. And I remember all the times after our first date that you did hold my hand:

…and so many other moments, because there are far too many to recount from these thirteen years.

 I love that we have so much behind us already and still so much to look forward to. You are the very best husband, father, teammate, partner in crime and everything else, and I can’t wait to continue our adventure together.Here’s to thirteen years (and approximately three hundred more).PS: Kace — Prim saw this ^^ wedding picture of us and asked, “What’s that picture?” I asked her if she knew who was in it and she said “Mama,” but when I asked her “Who is with Mama?” she paused for a long time and said, “I don’t know.” I finally told her it was Daddy and she goes, “Oh… Where’s Prim??”

Family Fun / Life Abroad / Winter

The Snowy Day

December 21, 2017

The weekend we were in Croatia was the first snow in Amsterdam. And usually the first snow here isn’t much to write home about — just a few flurries with nothing sticking to the ground, but this year the first snow was a full weekend of flakes with so much snow that we had a hefty pile left over when we returned from our trip.

I have to admit that I was really bummed to miss the first snow here, but seeing these girls out on the deck playing in what was left from the storm did make up for my FOMO a little.    This was Lark’s first real experience with snow. It snowed while we were in Berlin and Croatia, but not enough to really have any snow on the ground that stuck. When KC’s mom first brought Lark outside and put her down in the snow, Prim turned to her and said, “This is snow, Lark!” And if you look at Lark’s face in those pictures, you can see exactly how she feels about Prim (and why I’m always telling KC that we need to have 16 more babies, immediately). Come back soon, snow! (Maybe for Christmas???)

Life Abroad / Personal / Travel

Scenes and Thoughts from a Travel Day

December 20, 2017

Given how much we travel with our kids, and the blog posts which follow our trips, it may appear that we are master jet-setters and have it all figured out. I can assure you that we don’t. While we have figured out a lot, having traveled by plane with one or both kids ten times in the past year and a half, there is no perfect, relaxing travel day with kids.

Travel days tend to always be a little chaotic, and they’re definitely tiring for everyone involved. We do work to book flights during the girls waking hours, as opposed to early morning, late night, or red-eye flights, so we’re not dealing with overtired children refusing to sleep (been there! It’s terrible.) But we have had to wake up at 5am on more than one occasion to catch an early flight, which means we’re waking the girls up at 5:30am so we can hop in a taxi by 5:45am. The girls are certainly seasoned travelers now. Prim has been on 19 flights in a year and a half (more if you decide to count layovers), and Lark has been on 14 flights in less than 10 months. Lark actually didn’t travel until she was 3 months old, so really she’s averaging a little over 2 flights a month, if you figure she’s been on 14 flights in less than 7 months.

Prim has visited cities in eight countries, Lark has visited cities in seven. By the time we move back to the states they will have added at least four more countries to that list (and probably more like six or seven since we’re trying to book travel for three to four countries in June right now).

And yes, I would say we have our sh** together travel-wise. I can pack a single bag for me and the girls for any climate and weather and use every single item of clothing and every single diaper and not need anything additional. We know how to navigate airports, new cities and transit systems, and these girls adapt to new sleeping situations like seasoned pros; but that’s not to say that it’s all fun or easy by any means.

Prim gets carsick and it’s always a race against the clock getting to the airport before she throws up. We always, always have a sick bag with us and usually manage to arrive at the airport just in the nick of time, but on our way to Schiphol going to Croatia, the driver made a wrong turn at the last minute, which resulted in an extra 5 minutes in the car and us changing Prim’s shirt and sweatshirt in the middle of the airport lobby.

We have had delays of all kinds — in the airport, on the plane, being returned to the gate, canceled flights, lost bags — all of it. The kids have actually weathered delays quite well, but sometimes after a 5am wake up call and a snow delay of indeterminate duration, you plop your baby on the floor at the gate and just think about how strong their immune system will be afterwards. Overall though, I have to say how proud I am of these little humans. They are amazingly adaptable on our numerous trips, and seem to really enjoy exploring new cities with us, even though it means upending their lives and schedules and subjecting them to all sorts of situations that test their patience.

I hope that these girls will always want to explore and visit new places, and that they continue to be tolerant, patient and adaptable throughout the numerous “travel delays” in their lives. I know they won’t remember any of this, but I’d like to think that it’s helping to shape the people they will become, and that they will be better and more well-rounded humans because of it. And KC and I will certainly remember, and the destinations we’ve been to with these little ladies is more than worth the trying moments and long travel days.

Life Abroad / Travel

Our Trip to Croatia

December 19, 2017

We just returned from Zagreb, Croatia a week ago, which was just the beginning of our busy December. My family arrives in Amsterdam this weekend and we will all be spending Christmas together here this year (I’m so excited!) After the Christmas madness is over we will be heading to Rome with my brother, sister and her family for a week, which should be really fun.

But back to Croatia! I chose to pursue a home exchange in Zagreb because it is supposed to have some of the best Christmas markets in Europe.  Prim got to ride the carousel numerous times, which was a big highlight for her.

We liked the Christmas markets in Zagreb, but they were a little different than the Christmas markets we’re used to. The German and French-German markets tend to be a few food and drink huts sandwiched between numerous vendor huts that sell ornaments, handmade toys, and other fun trinkets. The Croatian markets were more food and drink-based with very few vendor huts, which was fun, but not totally what we expected. We walked all over the city each day, as we normally do on vacation. On our fullest day we clocked in over 9 miles walking, and hit between 4 and 6 miles on the slower days.

Zagreb has this weird tunnel that goes through a lot of the downtown area that was all decorated sort of like one of those indoor Disneyland rides, which was neat.

We woke up to snow on our first full day in Zagreb and it continued to snow throughout much of the day which was so magical.

And of course, who can resist that delicious European architecture?    Just sign me up for a chateau with all the fancy windows, please.

KC’s mom came with us on this trip, so we actually got to sneak away a couple of nights for dinner sans-kids (can you imagine??) It was divine. We so rarely get to go out on dates, and we are never kid-free on vacation, so this was a real treat.  I don’t even care that that picture is bad quality and maybe a little blurry. That’s us walking around the city alone after having dinner by ourselves and it was everything I could have wanted. ^^ That’s real life traveling with kids right there. Prim passed out in the stroller while we warmed up and had drinks at Esplanade 1925 (totally recommend — both the bar and the sleeping child); Prim unamused by the sign outside the craft beer bar we made a stop at; and of course Lark being nursed at a random coffee shop (Eli’s Caffe — which was delicious).

Oh, and if you’re wondering why Lark isn’t wearing pants in that picture even though the temperature was hovering around freezing most of our trip, it’s because she poured water all over herself at lunch that day and fully soaked her outfit. Luckily, I had a random extra onesie and had removed her sweater before the meal, but hadn’t brought spare pants with me (I mean, I’m a second-time mom, my diaper bag is like wipes and a spare diaper and that’s it) so she was pants-less. I was able to just throw her in our carrier and zip up the bottom of my coat around her legs, but I did get questioned by a woman at the coffee shop about whether she was cold, and I’m sure she just assumed I was an idiot and/or a terrible mother for walking around with a 9 month old baby without pants on.Croatia, you were snowy, cold and fun. Maybe we will be back to visit your beaches next summer!

Baby / Lark / Motherhood

Motherhood Update: Lark at 10 months

December 18, 2017

^^ big shot in a big chair at Esplanade 1925 in Croatia ^^

Saying: Lark has been saying variations of “Mama” and “Dada” a lot, but I’m still not fully convinced that she’s using them correctly to refer to KC and I. “Dada” seems to be her favorite word these days, because of course.

^^ devouring a croissant at Velvet Cafe in Croatia ^^

Eating: Lark is a champion eater these days and regularly out-eats Prim at dinner time (ahh that 2 year old picky phase! It’s a joy.) Her favorite foods right now are truffled mushroom risotto (girl has good taste) and the Bavarian sausages we ate while in Berlin.

Sleeping: Lark is sleeping through the night consistently from 7:30pm to at least 7:30am. Having a full night’s sleep more nights than not has made this mama a whole new woman.

Doing: Lark is all over the place these days and is soclose to pulling up now. She will grab onto the edge of the coffee table and get up onto her knees and even place one foot on the floor, but she hasn’t managed to actually pull herself up yet.

Latest milestone: Lark has started dancing (it’s Christmas music non-stop over here) which is ridiculously adorable. She rocks back and forth on her hands and knees or will wiggle around while on her belly, usually while she watches Prim bop around the living room as she scream-sings her interpretation of the lyrics of whatever song is on.

Favorite toys: Lark is mostly interested in whatever toys Prim is playing with, which right now tends to be legos or cooking stuff.

Sweetest things: Unlike Prim who was a mama’s girl through and through at this age, Lark is a bit of a daddy’s girl. She looooves KC and gets so excited whenever he comes home from work. She starts yelling as soon as she sees him and will army crawl as fast as she can over to him and kick her arms and legs until he picks her up. Seeing how much she loves her daddy just makes my heart burst (and obviously makes me want to have approximately 400 more babies).

Favorite thing about this age: Lark has so much personality now! While I absolutely love the sleepy, cuddly newborn stage, seeing their personalities start to develop around 9/10 months is so sweet and exciting to watch. Lark is silly, sweet and giggly, and always has a big grin and shriek for whatever family member we’re FaceTiming with.