Destination: Seattle/Portland

It’s been awhile since we flew with the kids.  The last time we did an extended vacation with them was a little over two years ago when Jaren was 3 months (!!!), and Noelle was 28 months to Cancun, Mexico.  This time around, it was Jaren who was 28 months (purely coincidental), and Noelle was nearly 4.5 years.  We weren’t worried at all about Noelle, but were pretty nervous about how Jaren would do, especially since he is so ACTIVE and LOUD.  Sitting still is not his forte.  Thankfully, 2.5-3 hours was right before his breaking point.  Any longer and we definitely would’ve had a meltdown on our hands.

We started and ended our trip in Seattle (or as Noelle called it – “Scattle”), with Portland sandwiched in-between.

Day 1 Seattle – Friday 6.5.15

This was mostly a traveling day, so we took it easy.  We got to SNA two hours early, so had a lot of time to kill.  Luckily, the kids each packed their Skip Hop backpacks filled with little toys, and I had bought new coloring books and markers just for the trip.  We parked ourselves in a corner, watched/counted planes, bought them lunch, and before we knew it, it was time to board.


At the airport (top); N reading to J while waiting for take off (bottom).

Ideally, the kids would’ve napped on the plane… but of course they didn’t.  Luckily it was only a 2.5 hour flight, so we made it without any hiccups.  The kids were occupied with their toys and iPad.  Jaren doesn’t last long with the iPad at his age, but loves playing pretend with his toys, so thank goodness we brought those toys!


Napping (left); Plane entertainment (right)

We landed in Seattle around 3:30 pm, and as we were strolling the kids through the airport they completely knocked out.  Now that the excitement of the plane ride was over, I guess it hit them how tired they really were!  This worked out because the kids got a good 40 minute nap in during the car rental process, which was enough to rejuvenate them.

Once we got settled into our hotel, we headed out to dinner nearby.  After dinner, we let the kids play at The Seattle Center (walking distance from our hotel) before calling it a night.


Day 2 Seattle – Saturday 6.6.15

We arranged a playdate with some Seattle friends, and met up with them at Seattle Center that morning.  The playground was a little overwhelming for the little ones, so we quickly took it indoors to the Children’s Museum (also at the Seattle Center).  The kids had so much fun there, and time really flew.  Before we knew it, it was lunchtime.  We ate at Mod Pizza, and said our goodbyes.


Right after lunch, we headed over to Dave’s place.  He was going to show us his hood and the surrounding suburbs of Seattle (thank you so much, Dave!).  Our main purpose for visiting Seattle was to see if we could see ourselves living there.  We hung out at Dave’s for a bit, and Noelle fell hard for Dave’s dog, Chewie – they had an instant connection.

Seattle is so lush and green and beautiful.  There are trees and foliage everywhere.

Dave drove us through Mill Creek, Bothell, Woodinville, and we ended up in Kirkland, where we had dinner near the waterfront.  It was interesting taking in a city through different eyes.  The whole time we wondered, “could we see ourselves living here”, “could we make this our home”?


Washington Lake in Kirkland, WA

In the end we decided, no.  At least, not right now.  Seattle is a great place to visit, but our hearts are elsewhere.

Day 3 Portland – Sunday 6.7.15

We must’ve tired out the kids a lot on this trip (and the thick, hotel blackout curtains must’ve had something to do with it too) because we slept in practically every day!  Anyway, we woke up and got ourselves packed and ready to go for our drive into Portland.  We had lunch plans with The Chu’s, so wanted to make it there by noon!

Day 3_01

These drives to and from Portland were what I was most nervous about on the trip because not only are they 3 hours long, but history has shown that Jaren gets super restless after an hour in the car.  I braced myself.  45 minutes into the drive, Jaren was frustrated about something, so we decided to make a pitstop for gas and to stretch our legs.  Turns out, Jaren had simply dropped a toy.  We continued on, and while the drive wasn’t horrible… the iPad definitely came to our rescue in that last hour!

I should call this our day with the Chu’s because we spent the entire day with them!!  It was so good to see old and new friends on this trip.

We had lunch with The Chu’s at Hopworks BikeBar, which was a brewery/restaurant that not only had great yelp reviews, but was also highly praised for being kid friendly!  They had a small kids section with toys and books for the kids to hangout in.  After lunch, we grabbed ice cream the next block over, and made our way over to OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry).  Of course, in that 5 minute drive from the ice cream shop to OMSI, the kids fell asleep in the car.  So I napped in the car with them for about 40 minutes while Sam, Nev, and Est hungout at a nearby brewery.

OMSI OMSI OMSI – We spent a good 3 hours there, and still didn’t get to everything!!  Definitely one of my favorite children’s museums now.


So many hands-on things to do at OMSI!

After OMSI, we ate dinner at this amazing (but NOT kid-friendly – unless your kid likes to sit through two hour dinners) charcuterie place.  If you’re a meat-eater, Olympic Provisions is calling your name!



I love that they have each other

Day 4 Portland – Monday 6.8.15

Our first full day to ourselves!  We had plans to eat at Salt n Straw for brunch, but the wait was 40 minutes (even on a Monday!).  Since we wanted to get to Multnomah Falls, we improvised and grabbed some coffee and toast down the street.  Portland is just full of cute little coffee shops and eateries everywhere.  It has a special character all its own.  The goatees and bearded hairy folk riding bikes everywhere didn’t escape our notice either.  We’re just glad there were no naked people sightings.

Anyway, the drive into Multnomah is byooo-tiful… and it is definitely worth a visit, especially if you’re a first time visitor to Portland!  It’s a great place to take the kids too because you can park your car, walk a bit, and see the waterfall.  If you want to hike, the hike is only about 1 mile long… so we did that with the kids.  They loved it.



The kids, once again, fell asleep on the car ride back.  We had already checked out of the hotel, so ate at Nong’s for a late lunch (our cheapest but favorite meal there!).  It was 90+ degrees that day, so instead of going with our original plan of checking out the Portland Zoo, we took the kids indoors to another children’s museum until it was time to meet The Chu’s for dinner.


We ate at the infamous Screen Door (known for their fried chicken!), and stuffed ourselves silly before we had to drive back to Seattle to catch our flight the next day.


We had decided to drive back the night before our flight so that we wouldn’t be stuck with a full day of travel (3 hour car ride + 3 hour plane ride?  No thanks!).  Driving home at night was wonderful and turned out to be a great idea on Sam’s part.  Noelle knocked out for most of it (and it still didn’t interfere with bedtime), but Jaren held strong and stayed up the whole ride.  I don’t know if it was because it was night or if he had a full belly or what, but he hardly made a fuss and just enjoyed the sights as we drove.  I gotta say, I was pretty amazed at the stamina on that kid because he made it to 10 pm with only a 40 minute nap that day!  Once we got to our hotel, it was easy to get them to sleep though.

Day 5 Seattle – Tuesday 6.9.15

Finally, it was time to go home.  We ate free breakfast at the hotel, and took the kids to a gorgeous local park to kill time before our flight that afternoon.


* * * * *

When I first made our itinerary, I wished we had one extra day because almost every single day involved either flying or driving.  I was worried the kids would be overtired with all the schlepping around, but they were troopers!  In retrospect, this was the perfect amount of time away.  We kept our itinerary pretty open-ended with the exception of meeting up with people – we didn’t even have restaurants planned or specific places we needed to go – because that’s just how it is with kids.  Just take things as they come, and adjust if we must.  Our traveling style is different now… but there was still so much we appreciated about this trip.  If anything, it made us realize how much we loved traveling with our kids, and we can’t wait to do more of it with them as they get older and older.  This is what we’ve been waiting for.


Cancun Day 2 – Resort Day

I’ve been totally slacking on my blogging.  I meant to finish up the Cancun trip posts quickly, but obviously that didn’t happen!  Anyway, here we are over a month later and I’m going to try to zoom through them.

Once we got to our destination Friday night, we were pooped!  By the time we checked in, it was well past dinnertime and we were starving.  Not that the kiddos minded – Noelle got more than her fair share of snacks/junk on this trip!  Anyway, we were staying right next door to Mike/Hana and the group had ordered everything off the room service menu – literally, everything.  So we decided to do the same!  Sam went a little overboard (as in, MULTIPLE orders of each dish), and got a bit of flack for it from the room service people.

I wasn't exaggerating o_O

I wasn’t exaggerating!!

Everyone somehow ended up hanging out in our room – the room with the crazy kids.  Go figure.  We still had to bathe the dirty kids so I did that while everyone was hanging out in the living room.  Anyway, we finally get to bed after an exhausting day of traveling – it was only 10 pm (but technically midnight PST).  I was hoping the kids would sleep in the next day!

Good morning, Cancun!

Good morning, Cancun!

Nope – sleeping in didn’t happen!  Well, Jaren did sleep through the night for the second time ever and woke around 6 am, then Noelle woke shortly after!  We got the kiddos ready so we could meet the gang for breakfast at the buffet.


Breakfast of champions

Everyone in the group was dressed in workout clothes because there was a free yoga session after.  Oh how I miss yoga!  Sam insisted that I tag along with them and said he’d take the kids.  I wasn’t exactly dressed the part, but figured it’s probably going to be an easy, laid back yoga class so I took him up on his offer.  Prior to the trip, we had agreed to divide up our time so that each of us could squeeze in some quality time with our friends sans kids.  This was the perfect opportunity.  We wandered and wandered all around the resort looking for that darn yoga class, but it was nowhere to be found!  Turns out, it was being held at the gym, not at the beach, like we originally thought.

It took us forever to find the gym, but once we got there the class was half over.  Even though we missed the class, I wasn’t too bummed… because it was nice just to walk and talk with my friends like a normal person without having to monitor the wee little ones!  Since we missed the yoga class, and were already at the gym… we decided to workout instead!  Since I was wearing flipflops, I ended up running 2 miles on the treadmill barefoot.  IT FELT SO GOOD TO RUN.  Side note: the gym was amazing.  It was easily the nicest hotel gym I have ever step foot in.  There were at least 5 treadmills, 5 ellipticals, some exercise bikes, free weights, and machine weights for every body part.

There's an app for that!

There’s an app for that!

Once we were done, I went back to our room where Sam was with the kids.  Jaren was napping and Noelle was doing a combination of coloring, Dora watching, and hammock swinging.  We switched off and Sam went paddleboarding while I watched the kids.

That's my guy back there!

That’s my guy back there!

When he returned, it was lunchtime, so we changed J and N into their swim gear and scooted their booties out the door.  The crew was eating lunch at the Mexican place poolside, but once Noelle saw the pools she lost all interest in food and just wanted to swim.  Of course I had to oblige, so I skipped out on lunch while Sam took Jaren and got to eat the most delicious fish tacos, ceviche, and tres leches cake.  Don’t you worry about me though – I got my fill later!



Trying to eat lunch

Trying to eat lunch

After a long day at the pool, I went back to the room first to put Jaren down for a nap.  Sam stayed with Noelle, and tried to get her to feel more comfortable with our friends.  It takes A LOT for her to warm up to people.  More than an hour, more than a day… but by the end of the trip, good progress was made.  She even asked where Uncle Neville was yesterday!


Bonding time

Who can resist Sweet Auntie E?

Who can resist Sweet Auntie E?

When Noelle and Sam got back to the room, it was nearly dinnertime.  We were supposed to meet everyone for sushi at 6 pm.  No nap for her that day, which proved disastrous!  She was cranky during dinner and didn’t eat at all.  Instead, she slept in my arms the whole time.  It could’ve been worse – I didn’t have to deal with managing a toddler while I ate, and actually got to have great adult conversations with our friends throughout the meal.


We are fa-mi-lyyy


7 men and a baby

We ate, laughed, lounged til well past 9 pm.  The kids still needed baths so we left the group early, and went back to our room.  Once we got the kids down, I stayed behind while Sam went out again to meet the gang. I’m not sure what shenanigans they engaged in, but knowing them… well, let’s have the pictures do the talking.  Here’s what I missed out on:


Cowabunga?? Charlie’s Angels?? What are you going for here?


And no, she wasn’t drunk either….

Hmm... or are they?

Hmm… or are they?

Actually being normal for once.  Did not know it was possible!

Actually being normal for once. Did not know it was possible!

None of the gang left the resort on the 2nd day.  We just wanted to recover from our flights, relax, and enjoy all that the resort had to offer, and we did exactly that.

*Thank you friends for letting me use your pictures!  I wish my hands were a little more freed up during the trip so that I could’ve taken some.  Can’t believe I didn’t even take a fish taco pic!*

Vegas and Back at 35 Weeks Prego

Our main reason for going this time was for Celine!!!  I’ve waited years to see this show.  I was so sad when she left, and thought I missed my chance, so imagine my excitement when she announced her return!  I was hoping to watch it when we went to Vegas last November for our 3-year anniversary, but she wasn’t performing in November or December.  We secured tickets for January 18th – a month before my due date.  I knew we had to watch her before Baby #2 came along, or else I may never get the chance.

Sam and I made the 5-hour drive to Vegas around 10 am Saturday morning, giving us a chance to spend a few hours with our little girl before heading out.  It was hard to leave her as an infant, but it’s even harder to leave her now that she’s so much more fun and aware.

I was a little worried about how I’d do with the long drive at 35 weeks pregnant, but surprisingly, my bladder was well under control hehe.  My husband stopped every 1-1.5 hours to let me stretch my legs and back and walk around, so that definitely helped.  We made it around 2:30 pm and checked into The Flamingo Hotel.  We usually stay there because it’s affordable and close to everything!  We got a room on the 20th floor, with a view overlooking the Bellagio Fountain.

Day 1 (Saturday): check-in, dinner with friends at Holstein’s, Celineeee!!, then a midnight Secret Pizza run!

Had high hopes for Holstein’s, but we all agreed the burger patty was dry and the food overpriced for what you get.  But then again, it’s Vegas – everything is overpriced.  I got the “Rising Sun” burger, which is Asian inspired and comes with a Kobe beef patty, avocado tempura, sweet potato tempura, nori flakes, and sweet teriyaki sauce.  I think it was the best burger of the bunch, but still mediocre.  Our table also shared lobster mac ‘n cheese and some wings.


Then we went our separate ways – all of us had separate shows to catch.  Shan & Terry went to watch “O”, Jenn & Chris went to watch “Love”, Arnold & Wendy went to watch the Treasure Island show, while me & Sam, Shawn & Teresa, and Maggie & Jon went to catch the singing sensation herself in action!


Can you see the excitement on our faces??

They don’t allow any pictures during the show, so I have no pics of Celine rockin’ it live.  I was expecting a lot of dancing and backup dancers with extravagant costumes because that’s how my friend described it to me when she went a few years ago, but there was none of that.  I guess she changed her show after she came back??  The show mainly showcased her singing and the phenomenal orchestra behind her.  The entire show was still amazing though and I even choked up a few times!  She has this way of drawing out your emotions with the purity of her voice.  I was mesmerized from beginning to end.  Though he hates to admit it, hubby was thoroughly impressed too!


“With Celine”

Afterwards I went back to the hotel to sleep because what’s a 35-week prego going to do in Vegas?  The smoke and nastiness of the air was killing me.  I walked through the casinos holding my breath, and couldn’t stand the stench on my clothes.  Shan and I hung out in my room while our hubby’s went to grab a beer and try their luck at the tables.  We were on the verge of sleeping when we got a text saying they were headed to Secret Pizza!  No way we were missing that… so we dragged our lazy booty’s up and got the most heavenly slice of NY pizza in the city.


Yes, it’s as good as it looks.  Highly recommend the “white pizza”!

Day 2 (Sunday): brunch at Mon Ami Gabi, nap, dinner at Lotus of Siam

Some people in our group had to leave right after brunch, and others left right after dinner.  I didn’t realize so many people don’t get MLK Jr. Day off anymore!  This was a low-key day filled with more eating and a whole lotta sleeping.  Brunch was awful, but dinner made up for it!


The best item was the Blueberry French Toast.


A lot of people were anticipating this meal, and it delivered!!  Everyone loved Lotus of Siam!

Day 3 (Monday): used our complimentary brunch vouchers at The Flamingo with the only other couple remaining, Shannon and Terry.  We left right after so we could get home to our girl just in time for her to wake from her nap!


Came back to this firecracker!

So what did our weekend consist of?  A lot of eating, a lot of sleeping, and a Celine show somewhere in-between!  I was even able to finish an entire book while in Vegas.  I loved the balance of hanging out with friends while still getting a substantial amount of alone time.  It made me realize though, that Vegas is really boring to me… and I probably don’t want to go back for awhile.  I can’t stand the crowds and the smoke and I don’t even like to gamble.  Plus everything there is overpriced – there’s no incentive to even go shopping!

Celebrating Our 3-Years

This past weekend, we celebrated our 3-year anniversary in the most unlikely place for two old souls (and one of us is prego!) – Las Vegas, NV!  Although Vegas is known for its shows, casinos, and buffets… we wanted to keep it casual and relaxed.  So we decided to explore Vegas off-the-beaten path.

We booked our two-night stay at Elements Hotel about 20-minutes off the strip.  This was a seriously fab hotel – free wifi, free parking, free breakfast, a mini kitchenette, and President Obama stayed here the last time he was in town!  You can find my review here.  My husband loved it so much he wants to stay here every time we’re in Vegas!  It’s so family-friendly too… we’re definitely coming back with our babies next time.

Saturday: We arrived in the afternoon around 4 pm.  After settling in and taking a short nap, we headed out to a James Beard award-winning Thai restaurant called Lotus of Siam.  It’s often touted as THE best Thai restaurant in the United States.  We made the mistake of NOT making reservations, so even though we came only 10-min after they opened, we still had to wait an hour.  It was worth the wait though, and we can’t wait to come back with friends so we can try more of their dishes!

Located in an obscure strip mall, with elegantly presented food.

Sunday: we slept in, ate breakfast at the hotel, then headed out to Red Rock Canyon to do some hiking.  We both love to hike!  S isn’t a big workout/exercise person, but he loves the outdoors and I’m so happy we both find joy in this hobby.  There’s something so alluring about being out and about in nature.  I can’t help but fall in love with God all over again when I look upon His creations, admiring His artwork, and soaking in the fresh air.

What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.  – Henry David Thoreau

After hiking, we got our grub on at an AYCE sushi place.  Yes yes, I’m pregnant and I’ve been eating sushi, and doing a lot of other things I probably shouldn’t be doing.  After stuffing our faces, we went back to the hotel, watched some HGTV, and took a big fat nap.  When we recovered from our food coma, we finally made our way to The Strip.  We ate at the most delicious sandwich place – Earl of Sandwich – have you been?  SO GOOD.  Afterwards, we decided to play our hand at the tables.  Lady luck wasn’t on our side that night and we each lost $100 at Pai Gow.  This is why I never gamble.

Monday: slept in again.  Sleep, glorious sleep!  Then got our stuff ready to go so we could make the 4-hour drive home.  On our way, we popped into the Primm Outlets and scored a few great deals at Gap and Old Navy.  Our shopping always ends up being for Noelle these days.  We were dying to get home to her, and missed her like crazy all weekend.  It’s nice to get away sometimes, but our hearts yearned for her.  We called home every day and hearing her voice over the phone just wasn’t enough.  When we walked through the door, she RAN to us with the BIGGEST grin, and gave each of us a tight bear hug and delicious kiss.  We were tired, but could not wait to spend time with our baby girl.  We took her to the park where she played to her heart’s delight.  I looked on, thinking only good thoughts about my husband, my girl, my life.  It was the perfect end to a great anniversary weekend.

My two (soon-to-be-three) joys.

3 years, 2 kids, 1 unbelievable life.  I wouldn’t trade this for anything.