Allie dear, today should have your birthday, August 10th. But you decided to surprise and scare us all by coming out five weeks early. Your Aunty Sally called you the girl with no clothes and no name. It was true, Mommy and Daddy were not at all prepared for you. Even on the day you were discharged home with us, we weren’t sure if your bassinet would arrive in time. But you did it - you’ve grown and flourished and made it past one month!
I used to think the term and concept of a “babymoon” was just another cute pregnancy trend and an excuse travel, but that was fine with me because any excuse to travel is a worthy excuse in my book. Only after taking the trip did I realize it was really a “babymoon” and absolutely necessary for expecting couples.
I lost my Dad six days after my 35th birthday last year. I lost him three month and fourteen days after my wedding day. I lost him unexpectedly, abruptly, and without a proper goodbye. I lost him in a manner that till this day still feels unjustified. Needless to say, thirty-five was not the glorious year I had imagined. Rather, it was a year I wish I could erase. Thirty-five was a year I buried myself in such sadness that only the love and kindness of my husband, my family and my friends freed me. It was a year that forced me to be vulnerable, to let down my shield and let others in. It was a year I stood still and know that it’s okay, that stillness is not surrendering. It was a year that I, too, died. But the part of me that lives knows now to live more vicariously and to love boundlessly.
To thirty-six, to a new day, to a new year. Please be gentle to me.
What an incredible year thirty-four was. Unbeknownst to me, it would be the year I'd get engaged, married, and leave the burb to be a city girl. It's a little daunting to realize that I'm officially in my mid thirties. Truth be told, I've always been an old soul so it's somewhat welcoming that my age is finally catching up to me. Thirty-five brings wisdom, experience, and fearlessness. I can't wait for the adventure that awaits!
Between planning a wedding, packing up for a move, and selling a home, I decided why not try to do my own engagement session too! :) It's something I've always wanted to do but wasn't sure if Dannie would comply. Much to my surprise, he agreed to it... as if he already knew he didn't have a choice (haha).
We headed for Alpine County over the July 4th long weekend. As much as I enjoy lazy Saturday mornings photo editing in bed, weekend getaways are what fuels my creativity. Between my full time job a the hospital, per diem job at Stanford, and my weekend photo sessions, these free weekends have been hard to come by. So when they do, I pounce.
When it comes to picking a travel destination, shallow as it may sound, I have two mandatory criteria: I must love what I'll see and what I'll eat. Portland, by far, exceeded my criteria and even threw in a bonus - tax free shopping. Makes me wonder why it has taken me so long to visit this beautiful city.
Rome was as bustling as I remembered it to be. But it didn't seem to bother me so much this time. I found solace in our cozy AirBnb apartment at the end of every day. While Dannie loved the historic sights, I enjoyed walking the cobblestone streets and taking in the city and relishing every bit of this wonderful vacation.
Onto Florence we went. I wish we had more time to explore Florence and the Tuscany countryside but this was a quick stop on our trip. My favorite moment in Florence was watching the sunset from Piazzale Michelangelo. It's breathtaking!
Our Italian adventure began in Venice. For anyone thinking about visiting Italy but wonders if Venice is too touristy or too crowded to be worthy of a visit, please go anyway. Admittedly, my first time in Venice wasn't the best experience. I visited Italy as a part of a multi-country tour so that was tiring in itself. Having just a day to explore Venice, I only remembered the long lines, hot sun, and rude vendors. This time around, I skipped the tour group and saw Venice very differently.
Hard to believe I'm turning thirty-three this year...or is it thirty-two? I forget. Seriously, I stopped keeping track after thirty. I've always feared the thirty-something years. I imagined it to be the beginning of the end. The beginning of "old age", which I've oddly felt since my twenties but is now validated when I see grown kids with birth year in the 2000's.
...and I wouldn't have it any other way! I took my family to Hog Island Oyster farm to celebrate my Mom's birthday. My family are oyster virgins who don't particularly like to eat anything raw. I'm the opposite of that. I've been known to eat a few dozen fresh oysters on my own before. The shocking thing isn't how much I could consume but how fast I'll crave them again.
Weekend getaways are my mental reset button. Unfortunately, they are never long enough and always leave me craving for more. Not to mention, when your traveling partner is a workaholic, the planning process usually requires strategic negotiation and skillful bargaining tactics to actually make the trip happen.
I got to visit Toronto for the first time this past winter. Immediately upon landing, I was treated to a Chinese seafood restaurant that served fried Alaskan king crab legs and lobster piled up tower high with crispy garlic chips and fried anchovies. Needless to say, that is how I like to be greeted at the start of a vacation.
When inspiration calls, you just have to pull over, postpone lunch, and grab the camera. And that was exactly what I did. Dannie and I were on our way to lunch when we saw massive hoards of "Santa Clauses" marching down the streets of SF, spilling out from every corner and every direction.
Happy 2nd anniversary to you! Sometimes I forget you are in my life, until you start making your presence known in unwelcoming ways. I'm starting to see traces of you in my reflection, I feel you in my acid reflux, and, for the first time, I understand the agony of lower back pain. Our anniversary. It's a yearly reminder of how much I have to catch up to you.
I love weekend getaways. Plucking oneself from the mundane and taking a 48-hour break from life is definitely my kind of weekend. Long or short, near or far, there's something exciting about packing up for a trip that doesn't get old. With Tahoe being just a three-hour drive away, I don't know why we don't go as often as we should.
I love experiencing life through the kids - they make mundane activities fun and fun activities out of this world. I also love handing them over to their parents at the end of the day. I have the best job as an aunt.