Sunday, September 21, 2014

Boston's "UP" birthday party {baby's first birthday}

A person's birthday is a celebration of his life and accomplishments, victories, exploration, and lessons learned. It says to the world, "cheers to the beautiful things that have come to pass because this person is on this earth. Let's keep learning and loving." Because a child reaches so many milestones in a year, I wanted to do something extra special for Boston. It has indeed been an epic year for him, which is deserving of an epic first of many birthdays. Even if he won't remember it, he'll see the photos one day and he'll know he had plenty of supporters along the way. Although next year, we're going to go more low key {like Chick-Fil-A and Baskin Robbins}.

To honor Boston growing "UP" so fast, we threw him a party based on the movie "Up," which included his favorite toy in the world {at the moment}--balloons. LOTS of balloons. It was so much fun to plan this party. It required much planning ahead of time, but it was worthwhile to see Boston have so much fun with his little friends {and we happened to enjoyed ourselves with our friends as well. win win}.

I wanted to hand craft as many of the decorations for the party as I could so I put my creativity and research abilities to the test. This is what I came up with.

Many of these decorations will go to his room afterwards. I laminated the birthday sign for future birthdays.

I painted the "Up" house on cardboard with tons of bright colors which Boston loved. With the help of my husband, we crafted this house into a play place and photo prop for the party as seen here:

We ordered this fantastic bouquet of balloons from Utah Balloon Creations in Payson, UT. They had lots of options and even hand wrote a message I dictated along with the delivery.
Boston and M playing peek-a-boo with the house board. So cute!
I made a mobile of Boston's milestones, and guests were invited to write down their wishes for Boston.
 "Adventure awaits" in Portuguese, "Altas aventuras." It's literal translation is "High adventures."
I tried painting and distressing mason jars for the first time so these 4x4 pinwheels could go into them. 

Because in the movie, Russel is a wilderness explorer, I made this badge sash for Boston and AJ came up with some adapted s'mores treats. So much fun to make them both!

Beautiful cake made by a sweet girl, Anjuli. We also decided to carry on the Brazilian tradition of making these brigadeiros (chocolate balls) for birthdays.

We missed the opportunity by Boston just bent down and bit right into his slice of cake. Yum! And then brigadeiros kept "slipping" out of his hand.

We served sliders some with bacon, cheddar, and wasabi ranch, another with bacon, bleu cheese, and another with honey caramelized onions. You know, little people food, and of course, grape soda and soda of all sorts. Thanks so much with the help, Mom and Dad!

 I didn't get as many photos as I wanted of everyone there because of the busy nature of being a hostess. But our family had so much fun at the party. I got to watch Boston run around with his little friends and it just made my heart flutter. I love this social baby and all of his cute little antics.

We opened baby's fun presents with our family afterwards. What a beautiful day celebrating a whole year of pure joy with this beautiful boy. We are truly blessed.

Happy Birthday, my son. You've lived an epic one year already and have taken us on an amazing adventure. We love you so much. We look forward to many more to come!

Friday, September 5, 2014

a year of new adventures

I remember my sigh of relief when my little baby Boston was placed in my arms for the first time. He made it to this earth safe and sound after an unexpected delivery {due to my paralysis}. Thank God! This baby came with much surprise and has kept us on our toes ever since. Who knew it would be such a whirlwind of so many emotions with each event. Before we knew it, a year has gone by since the birth of our beautiful little boy, and what an adventure it's been for us all.

We saw Boston grow rapidly, seeking adventures of his own. From holding his head up, to rolling over, to crawling, to exploring (and breaking things) with such curiosity, to toddling so independently. And what a personality he has: sharing, loving, bubbly, cuddly, giggly, feisty, and all-around sweet. He has 5 and 1/2 teeth now which further brightens his beautiful smile. His little brown eyes coupled with that smile just melt my heart. His hair, long, wild and curly as ever (who would've thought that curly hair would bless our family of straight-haired Asians?). And those thighs, those wonderfully squeezable thunder thighs! Best of all, is his playful, cuddly, and fun-seeking personality. We love everything about this little boy. He makes everyday that much better.

There are no words that can express the immense joy this boy has brought into our lives. I cherish the moments he shares with me as he holds my hand, wraps his little arms around me tight, plays with my face, pats my back, giggles at my funny faces, chuckles when we play peek-a-boo, lays his head on my shoulder, and just falls asleep in my arms. I look forward to these sweet moments everyday, although some days are harder than others to get to them. All the sleepless nights, teething, falls, and sick days are worth it. I find comfort in knowing he feels my love for him and that all of this will add up one day to his healthy being.

I've learned and am still learning how to be a mom in a wheelchair and mother in the gospel. It's been something I really, really had to trust God with especially with my worries of not being a "normal" mom and extremely inadequate as a person. And I'll tell ya this, if there's one sure thing about this whole process it's that He's been the anchor that got me through the rough patches of low self-confidence. Life in general requires much faith, courage, diligence, and love, which all of us are equipped with through trials both large and small. With that, anything is possible, including parenting and for me, parenting with a disability. I thank God for placing this gift in my lap and allowing me to learn so much about myself in the process. I know now that I need not fear what lies ahead because He's given me the strength to carry on all tasks including that of raising His child. I know the trials will differ, but that faith will see me through.
My husband and I have grown together as a couple while on this adventure. It's amazing how close two people can become when they have their goals aligned and find joy at the end of those exhausting days. We've found so much to laugh about, especially as we see Boston's found the toilet water or is getting into our laundry basket again. I'm thankful for such a wonderful companion to help raise this mischievous son of ours. I'm thankful for this patience, understanding, and unconditional love.
I thank my family for being there to encourage me the whole way. We have been so fortunate to have a family that loves Boston as much as we do. Each one of us plays a huge role in Boston's development, the love that he feels, and the confidence he has. It's been said before that "it takes a village to raise a child." Our clan has been the best support we could have asked for our little son. It's nice to know that there are people looking out for Boston besides us and if we are lacking in some areas (because we're still learning), we have help to instill good principles in our son. It's a very awesome system of trust that we're learning to balance each day. I hope Boston knows how lucky he is one day to be surrounded by so many people who love him and are cheering him on. This year is a victory for us all.

 Some have said that the adventure ends with children, but I argue the contrary--my adventure {actually, life in general} has gotten more interesting and meaningful because of Boston. I love to travel, see new places, meet new people, and learn new things, but with Boston, every new experience becomes an opportunity to teach and solidify my discoveries. We seek after even more adventures to share with our little Boston. In his first year of life, he's been to 7 different states, 3 national parks, Disney World, and we're looking forward to more adventures to come with him.

This sweet little baby, he lays his head on my chest asleep to the sound of my heart beats. I bask in his sweet smell of baby's breath and capture the image of his innocent little body for years to come. I let out another sigh of relief. My son is one year old. We made it. One whole year of adventures together and so many more to go. Oh, how I love him so…

Pictures from his "UP" themed birthday party to come!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Camping up Provo Canyon and Grounded

Growing up, my family and I never went camping. For my parents who come from a country where living in leaky banana leaf homes and experiencing hunger on a daily basis were a reality, camping never crossed their minds as a vacation. The concept of choosing to live out in the wilderness without amenities and be gross for a few days is bizarre to them--I don't blame them. 

It's funny to think that those of us who live in the luxury of modern day conveniences would need breaks from all the distraction. But we do.

There's something about being out in nature that reminds us that there's more to life. Being surrounded by trees under the a blanket of stars up above bring me solace. I find inspiration in all the creation around me and am reminded that I am one of them. The knowledge that I am part of something greater and that Heavenly Father has a plan for me, ground me.

This weekend we got together with a couple of friends and their kids for some time away from the city. We headed up Provo Canyon to a secluded camp ground where the city was in sight but the mountains were our home for a brief moment (there are plenty of these spaces in Utah). I've been waiting all summer for this. Leaving the daily routine at home and seeking out adventure get me so pumped. I like sleeping in a new bed placed somewhere out of the ordinary, and living simply with just what we have with us. I just loved being up there, and I savored every little bit while we were up there. We talked, we laughed, we watched our kids share and play together.
We relaxed (I got to read and practice holding two babies, which is not easy at all).

 We breathed in fresh air and sat around a campfire (and Boston got totally sticky thanks to Daddy),

We ate delicious s'mores made to perfection, steak, cheesy potatoes, and a dutch oven cream cheese pumpkin cake made by my friend, Jo (how she does it all still amazes me). It was all awesome. And end off our perfect camp day, it rained. 

Camping in the rain. You know what that means, right? Wet clothes, cold noses, muddy wheels, and messy gear. Wow. I don't know about you, but that was pretty hardcore camping for me. I had never done anything like it. But it was still nice.

We bundled Boston up and put him to bed. Instead of spending hours talking and staring up at the night's sky, we talked for hours under our canopy. And we were happy :)

Admittedly, the storm was a bit scary. When it came time for bed, I laid for hours in my tent, cold and slightly afraid. The lightning was so sharp that it's brightness shone through my closed eyes. I would count the seconds before I heard thunder, "one-one thousand, two-one thousand, three-one thousand, four-one thousand" and it would stop. It was a bit mind boggling how close we were to possible danger. But moments like these ground us. We prepare as much as we can, but there are circumstances in life that we can't control. And we have to be OK with that. We just hope and pray for better things.

I'm grateful for this camping trip that offered time to think, ponder, and grow. Amidst my plan of escape came various other thoughts mainly of gratitude for the wonderful things in my life; shelter and warm covers in a time like this, beauty in this earth and how it regenerates itself, mountains to escape to, my safety net of family and friends to do funs things and create memories with, and my God for making all of this possible. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Our First Rodeo

You know how in old cowboy shows, the older people usually say something like, "Son, this ain't my first rodeo," meaning they know what they're doing so you better trust them? Well, I had never heard that saying until I came to college, so I didn't know what that meant! My husband had to explain that to me (there are some disadvantages of growing up in a home with immigrant parents). As I was researching local things to do during our year of dates, I saw that there were several rodeos going on in Utah (and they're actually pretty big here), so I knew this was my chance to get to some western culture into me. But since no one in our clan had ever been to a rodeo before (except for Dad), we decided it had to be a family date instead. It's quite important that our family be familiar with and take advantage of local cultural events. Being the fashionable cowboys and cowgirls that we are, we put on our checkered shirts and boots and headed down to the Spanish Fork Fiesta Days for our first rodeo. I was very excited, to say the least, and even moreso that I could get around with Boston in my wheelchair because of the accessibility of the stadium.

Spanish Fork
As a novice spectator, everything was exciting, especially when the animals and their riders came out. We saw beautiful girls on beautiful horses riding around the stadium while doing acrobatics. They were so in tuned with their horses. It was touching to see how they loved each other. Little Holly was convinced she needed to get on a horse soon after, or at least enter in the mutton bust next year. haha. 

So mutton bustin'. How did I not know such a funny thing existed? I hadn't seen anything as hilarious as children holding onto a running sheep for dear life for as long as they can. Those kids were brave! Some were victorious and stayed on for some 7+ seconds while others fell down right away. For the victorious ones, this may be the beginning to a really successful riding career (I couldn't believe how much the professional riders are making per year!)

Spanish Fork

Spanish Fork

I saw some curious things at the rodeo. For a particular event, the rider on a horse and was supposed to lasso a running goat, jump off, catch it, and bind its legs together. It was pretty cool. I bet it took tons of talent and skill to do that. I can't imagine anyone in my family doing that (we're pretty comfortable spectating)! But that event wasn't anywhere as crazy as the bull riding. It was agonizingly painful to watch. Those bulls were out of control! I can't believe the men would hold on through all of that bucking and the pain! But I can definitely see why they get paid the big bucks.

Spanish Fork

We had a really good time and got to see some fun things. Boston had his fill of fun as well. He would move from side to side on my lap to follow the riders, and was even startled a few times. We'll be entering him in mutton bustin' someday and maybe he'll win a buck or two! Not bad for our first rodeo. I may be warming up to the idea of staying in cowboy country :)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Hey Friends!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin. It's a site where you can find lots of cool popular blogs of all sorts of categories. It might make it easier for you to catch up on posts and find more things to read. I've personally loved checking out other blogs about travel, DIY, food. Join in on the fun and add your own as well. Plus, feel free to leave a link to your blog here. I'd love to check it out sometime. Happy reading!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Sweetness {in Yosemite}

While I was recovering from my spinal cord injury,  my doctor came in one day to have "the talk" with me -- you know, the one about my situation, my life, my future. He knew I was struggling with this new reality of paralysis {something any 20-year old would struggle with}, especially because of multiple unforeseen health set backs. He related something to me that resonated with me then and would stick with me to this day. He began by telling me how life is filled with bittersweetness. There are moments when everything goes wrong and is beyond our control. They may be moments that we feel hurt and hopelessness, like we've been backed into a corner and there's no place to go. That is the bitterness in life. In those moments, we often wish all the pain and confusion would go away because they're anything but bearable. However, it may not seem like it at the time, but those moments are necessary and are part of a plan to help us grow and progress. They will make sense in time. We will come to differentiate the happy from the sad, the good from the bad, and come to appreciate those moments of sweetness as they come {and they will come}. "Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy." -2 Nephi 2:25. That conversation not only gave me hope that things will get better in the midst of all the chaos in my life, but it gave me purpose in my life -- to seek for the sweetness in life and hold onto it with dear life because those moments would be my foundation in times of hardship {which will come as well}.

Years later, I find myself continuing to seek for the sweetness in each day of my life. Looking for the good, the blessings, the things that make me smile have lifted up my spirits beyond what I had imagined in those initials days. I feel I'm a happier person when I look for reasons to be happy. I am more appreciative of the things and people in my life when I think of the good they've brought me. I am more learned as I seek to be challenged. I am more reliant on God when I put my trust in Him. With all that said, I've become more accepting of this new reality as someone with paralysis as I count all of the blessings that have entered my life since then -- strength, wisdom, faith, happiness, love, education, and adventure. Seeking for the sweetness of life has given me reason to smile and love my life.

One of the things that helps me continually taste the sweetness of life is going after adventures. When my host parents were with me in California, we adventured in my backyard, Yosemite National Park -- home to giant sequoias, beautiful waterfalls, and wild animals including the black bear -- one of the most beautiful places I've ever been to. Going through the park brought back so many wonderful memories and reminded me of how much I used to love hiking before the accident. But once we got started hiking over big over grown roots and rocks, we realized this was going to be a huge challenge in a wheelchair. Let's face it, this adventure just got more interesting. There was a lot lifting and pushing {believe me, it was quite a sight}. It took a lot work on my family's part but we made it through. I left feeling really grateful for my friends and family who insist on helping me relish in the sweetness of life, but heck, they themselves make up the sweetness of life for me as well.
There's not a sweeter thing in the world than the bond between a child and those who love him so much.
Our hike to through Mariposa Grove and to Yosemite falls was beautiful. We saw humungous rocks that my host dad easily wedged himself in between as well as many sky high trees along the way. We could hear the roar of the falls long before we actually got there.
www.diaryofatravelingwheelchair.comWe drove up to Yosemite Valley to admire the view of trees and waterfalls from on top of the massive mountain. I looked out in awe of this gift Heavenly Father has given to us. What beauty, love and creativity. I feel so fortunate to be alive now and to be able to enjoy such peace and recharge. It was pure sweetness.

There's so much sweetness in life to bask in and I've been compiling a list of it as I go along in my journal. I would love to hear some of the things you find sweet in life -- things your family does, places you've seen, things you've done. Please share so we can celebrate this sweetness together!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Independence Day {in Mt. Rushmore}

This past weekend, my family and I went on a quick road trip adventure to Mount Rushmore for Independence Day. The beauty of a road trip is being able to drive ahead on an endless road and think as much or as little as one would want. The choice is yours. No pressure and no time restrictions, unlike those of the everyday demands of life. On this trip, we drove quite a ways {10 hours, with a 10-year old and a 10-month old. I opted to give my mind a break whenever I could} through Wyoming. We saw sheep roaming green hills like in Scotland, and skinny trees {some charcoaled from the heat of the sun} and boulders that reminded us of those closer to home in Yellowstone. We had a lot of time to relax, talk, laugh {and we truly laughed until our stomachs hurt}, play with baby, and even memorize Jack Johnson's "At or With Me" with Holly {she was super excited that she could sing with us big kids}. We had a superb drive.

Mt. Rushmore was just what I had hoped it would be. I had never been before so all of the notions I had were from what I had seen in photos and movies like Cary Grant's To Catch a Thief. Sadly we weren't able to climb around on the Presidents' heads like in the movie because of safety and for preservation sake, but we did get to admire them safely from afar. While taking our sweet time to take pictures and gaze yonder, we felt raindrops on us and suddenly hail the size of gum drops came pouring down in broad daylight! That was just about the fastest storm I've experienced, well maybe not as fast as flash floods in Cambodia, but you get the point.
 These two have the cutest relationship I've ever seen. She loves him and he loves her. They amuse each other and give plenty of kisses every single day. I just adore it. I hope that never changes...

We sought refuge at the museum and got to learn more on top of what we already knew. You see, we wanted this to be a significant trip for Holly so we had her do research on the significance of each president {Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln} ahead of time {gotta keep that brain going through summertime} and report back to us. This proved to be fruitful because not only did she learn a lot about the presidents and the park but she was proud of knowing as much as she did when she was going through the museum. It's important that she be excited to learn and confident in having knowledge for the rest of her life. I hope that will serve her well in attaining her maximum potential. I loved everything I learned at the museum. I was impressed by the process {they were constructed by dynamites!} and time it took to be complete {14 years!} all of the presidents. And it was pretty cool that there was a ceremony for the completion of each one {I love parties}. There were things like a little 15 min. video, moldings, photos, stuff the workers used, news articles, etc. to give us a glimpse of life then. Pretty cool stuff.

After the rain let up, we went over to get ice cream. Apparently, Jefferson was the first person in America to write the first ever vanilla ice cream recipe, so we definitely had to have some of that. Holly and I shared a strawberry cheesecake ice cream cone, but half way through, she dropped the ice cream. She still hasn't lived that down. We teased her about dropping my ice cream and ripping me off of some ice cream goodness {I don't really mind, but we just love to give her a hard time. There's nothing like some sibling love to help keep her young and light-hearted}.

We stayed for the 9 PM program and got to hear a park ranger give a patriotic speech of the importance of freedom and equality. Something that really struck me was that these presidents despite their differences in nature, parties, actions, etc. each contributed to making this country what it is and have perpetuated this freedom we all enjoy.
**There were no fireworks display {and hasn't been since 2009}, due to dryness in the area and risk of fires.

This was a refreshing break for me. Some time to regroup my spirit to take on whatever comes next. I was ever so grateful for everyone's cooperation and help on this trip, especially in terms of handling baby. And my dear husband, bless his heart, had to drive the whole time with no one to alleviate him because I don't drive yet {one day...}. I'm so grateful for him {another great reminder from the road trip of how amazing he is}. I'm thankful for America, the great men who made it what it is today, and for God who is ever so great.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Killing Fields

Today is my brother, Anthony's birthday and as much as we'd love to have him with us, eating some cake and playing zookeeper together, we know he's dedicated to a good cause right now. He is currently on a church mission in Cambodia right now and will be there through next year, doing service and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the 10 months that he's been there, he's written home about how he's helped with floods, helped people move homes, ridden his bike miles on end to visit people, and been rejected again and again to find the one person at the edge of the village who will listen to the gospel. With each letter, I can see the change in him through these experiences and how he's growing into such an amazing young man. I am so proud of his dedication to the Lord's errand.

This past week, he wrote about going to visit the Killing Fields for the first time. These are sites were the Khmer Rouge soldiers held their own people captive, tortured and killed them. Anthony wrote,

" One of the most powerful things said was that slaughter and persecution WILL happen again, and when it does, remember us. That was extremely powerful to think about the world as it is now. Are we standing up for human rights and civility? Are we doing our part in order to help fight against the inhumanities that are happening? We can't fix everything all at once but we can slowly try to make this world a better place through the little things."

I remember going to the Killing Fields feeling so sad and depressed to know that so many people suffered. It still haunts me to this day, listening to a story of how babies were thrown against this one particular tree at Cheung Ek and brutally killed in that manner. I've thought of that quite often since Boston was born. As I look at his innocent face and think of the loss many mothers had to bear to see their children killed like animals, I mourn over the excruciating pain they must've felt. To think of a life that could have been, opportunities gone, innocent lives lost. There's nothing is comparable.

How could such evil be among men? There was such darkness that caused all of that misery. It was a reminder that Satan was present then and is ever so present now. It made me think twice before I ever used the word "hate" again. It made me second guess whenever I thought ill of someone else. It made me more conscious of what I do and how I act because all of these things could become another Khmer Rouge in my life, and I would never want to cause so much pain to someone else. Everyday is a struggle for each one of us. What are we doing to fight Satan's temptation? What are we doing to strive to be better than the person from the day before? What are we doing to live the gospel and let it radiate through us? I'm so imperfect, but because of the gospel, I know how I can become who I want to be - a goddess who deserves to live with our Heavenly Father again.

As Independence Day approaches, let us remember the freedom and agency we are granted and enjoy each day of our lives. I'm grateful for a nation that understands and protects that freedom of speech, religion, and press, so I may freely choose, which is what I believe God sent each of us here to do. We  need to make choices so we may learn, grow and prepare but Satan wanted just the opposite which is to take choice away from us and the Khmer Rouge was the just same. I can't imagine a life of having no choice and living in fear of what I say and believe. Sadly there are so many others in the world today who still lack freedom and living fear because of corrupt officials, druglords, pimps, gangs, drugs, etc. It seems overwhelming, but I believe as Anthony said earlier. Little by little, we can make the world a better place for others to live in. We've got to keep trying. It seems a difficult task now, but I hope that one day, all nations will grant the freedom to all of their inhabitants and that we may live happily together. One day, I hope that my little Boston will be able to go on his own adventures and travel to any nation in the world without fearing for his life, nor have to see the sadness that comes from a lack of freedom. Viva America!

I guess being alive for 22 years does grant some more wisdom. Happy Birthday, Anthony!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


You've probably noticed an explosion of World Cup photos on my Instagram, but it's only natural as we're tuning in along with the rest of the world to watch the games.

All of the t.v.'s and computers around our house are turned to soccer, and we have no shame about it. I only wish we had Brazil's soccer dedication in the U.S. where shops and banks close early so people could go home to watch the games.

Although our beloved America lost today, we are so, so proud of them for getting this far. And as our wonderful Brazil, we can't wait to see what happens.

I just wanted to share one of my favorite commercials from this World Cup by Hyundai. This is how we've all been. #Becausefutbol. Happy World Cup!

I left my Heart in San Francisco

It's been several years since I've been home so it was definitely wonderful to be back for a while, especially to show my host family what I've been raving about all of these years. California has so much to offer. From the natural beauty of mountains, valleys, and beaches to the manmade fun of the Golden Gate Bridge and Hollywood. We wanted my host parents to see as much as they could in a week.

Our first stop in California was San Francisco, the home of up and downhill trekkers, Golden Gate crossers, and cable car riders. This place is supposed to be super wheelchair accessible. How? I'm not sure because the steep hills make it seem impossible. But it really did begin in this area.

We were starving when we got into town and were in the mood for Japanese food. We found a restaurant in the Union Square area called, Dojima-Ann, which was rated 4 stars and was decently priced. We were not disappointed as there was a huge selection of food on the menu, and all were so good and well-portioned. That was seriously one of the best Japanese places I've ever eaten at. Yum!

We spent a day walking/wheeling through the Fisherman's Wharf, which was wheelchair accessible all the way through. It was a beautiful sunny, yet windy day. The wharf was packed with cars, trolleys, and seagulls, which added to the excitement of the day. There was music blasting along the road, tons of people just hanging out at bars, and street musicians chiming in too. The smell of the sea and fried fish were so familiar. Even though I was so full from Japanese food earlier, I really, really wanted fish and chips, but I had to discipline myself.
So many beautiful boats!
We explored the old U.S. naval ship from World War II, which was pretty grand {talk about vintage}. It was decked out with red, white, and blue flags all over, which I love. I'm a sucker for patriotic holidays because I love living in this country so much. We got to read about life on the ship and it didn't seem the least bit appealing to me. I couldn't imagine life in such tight quarters for months on end with other stinky, gross men. Germs, people. GERMS!

There were tons of little shops that sold iconic tokens of San Francisco and they were cheap! We found things from seashells to crazy seagull hats. My host mom and I LOVED it! We also serendipitously found many beautiful vintage cars driving about, which the boys really enjoyed. See, there was something for everyone to see. Even baby got a kick out of the seagulls that mommy wouldn't let him touch.

It was different to see trolley tracks everywhere along the wharf as they're rare throughout the rest of California. We were waiting for the cross signal at a stoplight long enough to see two bikers who were turning and get their wheels caught in the tracks and fell. Ouch! The city certainly needs to fix that because I'm sure it happens very frequently and is dangerous for other bikers as well.

We finished off the night by watching the sunset behind the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge. I have surely missed the California sunsets. I felt so relaxed and happy. What a beauty. If you've never been to California, take it from me, we mean business when it comes to sunsets. It's worth a spot on the bucket list, especially coupled with the Golden Gate.

Well, no one left their heart in San Francisco this time around, except lots and lots of change {ouch it was expensive!} I was so glad we got to take my host parents there and that they enjoyed it. We didn't get to stay for long, but it was an amazing day at the Wharf. I could have definitely done a little more people watching and fish and chips eating. We'll have to plan more time to do more exploring around there. But it's always good to leave something behind to come back for.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Grand Canyon

It was the crack of dawn, when we all piled into our rented mini-van and headed toward our next adventure: the Grand Canyon, known to the world as one of the largest and oldest dating back to about 2 billion years.

Even at first glance of the entryway, I knew the trip would be worthwhile. There were tons of trees, greenery, you know -- signs of life (finally, after hours of driving through the desert). Getting to the canyon was even better. There was such beauty there. A gradient of color among the rocks, tons of plants, and the vast sky above us. The sight of the humungous canyon below us... it was both exhilarating and anxiety-striking. I could tell little Holly felt the same way as I did, but to a heightened degree. That was probably the craziest thing in her little world. We stood there, soaking in as much as we could.

  Not every path was wheelchair accessible, but with the help of park maps, we found out which ones would work for us. You can find it on their website. However, I still required helped going up slight, rocky inclines. And I was limited on where the wheelchair could safely go and didn't get to go to some of the cooler spots like this place…

It was a chilly day so our warm-loving Boston was a bit upset and clung on for warmth wherever he could. I had forgotten to pack warm gear for him on this trip, so we put my long leopard socks on his chunky baby legs and wrapped him in a blanket like a leopard eskimo. Even my host brother was feeling the chill but forgot to bring a jacket for himself, so he walked around the park with a blanket from the car. We're just a stylin' family like that.
 Holly has taken an interest in photography since we do so much of it in our family, so we put her in charge of the camera for a while and she got some really fun candid photos. She took tons of a few little friends who were just hanging out in the area and random things in between.
We headed to the visitor's center for some warmth. We got to see, feel, touch replicated artifacts of the life there such as different types of animals and rocks. We learned the canyon was carved out by the Colorado River some millions ago and inhabited by native Americans throughout recent centuries.

I've always been in awe of the magnificence and mysteries of the world that God had created by us. Seeing the Grand Canyon further confirmed God's great power for having molded this earth to what it is to what we enjoy now in modern time. Amazing.
We crossed the famous Route 66 to get to the Grand Canyon. It was used tons for migration to the west from the Chicago to Santa Monica.
The Grand Canyon is definitely a worthwhile trip. Certainly a great summer activity with the family. I'm kind of sad we didn't get to camp there this time. Have you camped there and is it worth trying out sometime?