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Posts Tagged ‘kalani’

Kalani turns 10

March 24th, 2014 No comments

We have now been parents for 10 years…how time flies! We feel very fortunate to have Kalani as our daughter and love spending time with her and watching her grow into a young lady.

Kalani is a very compassionate, easy going, funny and loveable

Kalani is a very compassionate, easy going, funny and lovable

She loves to sing and had a singing teacher for a couple of months and now is in an International Girls choir

She loves to sing and had a singing teacher for a couple of months and now is in an International Girls choir

She loves attending the International School and has had some wonderful and fun experiences at the school

She loves attending the International School and has had some wonderful and fun experiences at the school

She loves to play with her friends and brother...and make silly faces while taking photos

She loves to play with her friends and brother…and make silly faces while taking photos

She is growing up too fast

She is growing up too fast

She still misses the United States and the family that we have there. And getting stung by a box jellyfish wasn't great either

She still misses the United States and the family that we have there. And getting stung by a box jellyfish wasn’t great either

But she also loves the perks of living in the Philippines

But she also loves the perks of living in the Philippines

Happy Birthday to our wonderful girl

Happy Birthday to our wonderful girl

10 facts about Kalani:

-Really easy to travel with

-Wonderful big sister

-Loves acting & singing

-Loves to read (right now Percy Jackson and the Heroes of Olympus…she has a crush on the Leo Valdez character)

-Fun

-Adventurous

-Loves her school, but also misses being homeschooled

-Loves to eat, especially Baby Back Ribs

-Likes to wear her moms socks, shoes and make-up…and the shoes fit her perfectly

-She is a very good friend and loves to be with younger children and babies

Categories: Family Tags: ,

Beijing, China Vacation

March 20th, 2014 No comments

We were fortunate that Matt had a business trip to Beijing, China in early March. That meant the kids and I got to join him and do some sight-seeing. In preparing for this trip we had to get a visa for everyone. To make things easier on me, we used HAS travel agency to take care of the visas. I gathered the papers needed and then someone from HAS travel showed up to our home and took everything to the Chinese Embassy for us and waited in whatever lines were there. Unfortunately, the Chinese embassy charges ~$170 per person for a visa, but at least Matt’s was paid for as part of his business trip (and his hotel and airfare). Of course we booked a tour guide through Viator. We were fortunate enough to have Iris Liu as our guide and she was wonderful. Her English was great, she did some research for us beforehand, she was wonderful with our kids, she told us how much we could bargain down to, and it was totally stress-free for us for the 3 days we had her. A cool fact is that the NBA contacts her each year to help guide their staff and players when they visit for exhibition games. If she’s good enough for the NBA, she’s good enough for us – we highly recommend Iris (read our tripadvisor review of her here)!

Day 1:

Tiananmen Square; we didn't cross the street, so this was what we saw of it in front of the Forbidden City

Tiananmen Square; we didn’t cross the street, so this was what we saw of it in front of the Forbidden City

Part of the Forbidden City. This view reminds me of the Disney movie Mulan

Part of the Forbidden City. This view reminds me of the Disney movie Mulan

Behind the Forbidden City is Jingshan Park. It offers a fabulous view of how huge the Forbidden City is...9,999 rooms total before a fire destroyed some of them

Behind the Forbidden City is Jingshan Park. It offers a fabulous view of how huge the Forbidden City is…9,999 rooms total before a fire destroyed some of them

A pedestrian walking street full of stores. Many familiar store were seen

A pedestrian walking street full of stores. Many familiar store were seen

Down a side alley of the pedestrian street is the "Food Market" where people can eat scorpions, starfish, seahorse and other items...yes, Matt ate some scorpions

Down a side alley of the pedestrian street is the “Food Market” where people can eat scorpions, starfish, seahorse and other items…yes, Matt ate some scorpions after they were deep fried

Around the corner from the scorpion area is this souvenir alley full of people and trinkets

Around the corner from the scorpion area is this souvenir alley full of people and trinkets

We had time to do a little bit of shopping where you bargain down and should only give the vendors 50% of their asking price. Matt got a couple of clothing pieces, Kalani got a pair of gloves and I got $20 knockoff Ugg boots that Kalani wears

We had time to do a little bit of shopping at this 4 story “gray market” where you bargain down and should only give the vendors 30-50% of their asking price. Matt got a couple of clothing pieces, Kalani got a pair of gloves and I got $20 knockoff Ugg boots that Kalani wears

We ended our first day watching a 45 minute acrobat show. It was the most amazing show that we had ever seen with a variety of talent and tricks

We ended our first day watching a 45 minute acrobat show. It was the most amazing show that we had ever seen with a variety of talent and tricks

Day 2

First stop of the day was the Great Wall of China

First stop of the day was the Great Wall of China and we had perfect visibility

We took these "ski lifts" up to the wall

We took these “ski lifts” up to the wall

We wished Kalani a Happy 10th birthday on the Great Wall of China

We wished Kalani a Happy 10th Birthday on the Great Wall of China

To get down from the wall we rode this "Luge". Everyone LOVED the ride down

To get down from the wall we rode this “Luge”.

We got to go see the 2008 Olympic park

We got to go see the 2008 Olympic park

Our last stop for the day was to the Summer Palace which has the longest/most gallery of paintings since everywhere you looked there was some kind of art work

Our last stop for the day was to the Summer Palace which has a ton of artwork since everywhere you looked there was some kind of painting, carving, mural, etc

This marble boat has held many functions and is just beautiful

This massive stone marble boat has held many functions and is just beautiful

The water around the summer palace still had some ice at certain areas

The water around the summer palace still had some ice at certain areas

Day 3:

We started off the day by going to the "Dirty Market" to look for a painting and other souvenirs, and we weren't the only people there

We started off the day by going to the “Dirty Market” to look for a painting and other souvenirs, and we weren’t the only people there

We visited the aquarium where we saw Beluga whales and heard the loud noises that they make

We visited the aquarium where we saw Beluga whales and heard the loud noises that they make

The sea lion, dolphin, whale show was also pretty cool

The sea lion, dolphin, whale show was also pretty cool

Of course we had to visit the zoo to see giant pandas in their home country

Of course we had to visit the zoo to see giant pandas in their home country

And we ended the day by visiting a silk factory where we learned about the silk process

And we ended the day by visiting a silk factory where we learned about the silk process

Fun Photos:

We got to ride a Rickshaw through an old neighborhood

We got to ride a Rickshaw through an old neighborhood and tour a traditional “Hutong” courtyard home

We stayed at China New World Hotel and had this view

We stayed at the Shangri-La China World Hotel and had this view

Motorcyclist have warm gloves and blankets attached to their motorcycles to keep warm while driving

Motorcyclist have warm gloves and blankets attached to their motorcycles to keep warm while driving

The BEST Chinese food we have ever had was in Beijing and didn't cost very much. The servers take down orders on these devices that look like a walkie-talkie or cell phone

The BEST Chinese food we have ever had was in Beijing and didn’t cost very much. The servers take down orders on these devices that look like a walkie-talkie or cell phone (this is our tour guide Iris)

I don't know if they block the doorways year round, but while we visited all of doorways had some kind of "blanket" to keep the cold air out

I don’t know if they block the doorways year round, but while we visited all of doorways had some kind of “blanket” to keep the cold air out

Our last photo with our tour guide Iris who we highly recommend at the hotel

Last photo with our tour guide Iris, who we highly recommend

We had a wonderful time in Beijing. It was also refreshing to leave the 85 degree weather that we’ve had for the past 16 months in the Philippines and enjoy the cool weather of 45 degrees for a few days. Also we had pretty great weather with the air quality index. Matt had flown in with the index level in the 500s. But, when the kids and I arrived we had 47, 94 and 139 index levels; anything above 300 is classed as hazardous by the World Health Organisation. A couple of fun facts we learned from our tour guide. Top 3 things to do in Beijing are: Great Wall, Forbidden City/Tienanmen Square, and Chinese Opera. (we saw an opera in Taiwan, and prefer the acrobat show over the opera). Top 5 things that China is known for: silk, porcelain “china”, jade, tea & holistic medicine.

More photos of Beijing here.

Categories: Family, Travel Tags: , , , , , ,

Bicol Region Roadtrip

March 3rd, 2014 No comments

A major benefit of living in the Philippines is employing a family driver! And we had him earn his paycheck this past weekend since he drove us to our last vacation spot that was 12 hours away. Kalani didn’t have school on Monday or Tuesday, so it was a perfect time for a 4-day weekend get-away. We left at 4am on Saturday morning and arrived in Donsol by 4pm. The drive down was beautiful with long stretches of lush green scenery with protruding volcanoes. There was a good 2-4 hours at least where we didn’t come across any McDonald’s or Jollibee fast food places because we were in such rural areas.

Day 1:

We left at 4am and slept for a while in the car.  But, when we were awake there was some beautiful scenery

We left at 4am and slept for a while in the car. But, when we were awake there was some beautiful scenery as we headed toward Donsol.

After 12 hours in the car the kids just wanted to hang out by the beach and especially on these hammocks. And luckily there were other kids from Kalani's school at the same resort so they all had someone to play with

After 12 hours in the car the kids just wanted to hang out by the beach and especially on these hammocks. And luckily there were other kids from Kalani’s school at the same resort (Elysia Beach Resort) so they all had someone to play with.

Also on our first day we went to see some fireflies. It was amazing to see thousands of these insects synchronize their flashes of light. It was like watching a bunch of “Tinker Bells” communicating with each other…or Christmas lights that kept changing their light pattern. However, none of our photos or videos turned out from the firefly experience.

Day 2:

We got down to the pier by 7:30am to try our luck at spotting a whale shark. Peak season is from March to May, so we were a week or so early. The weather was bad and we didn't have any luck.

We got down to the pier by 7:30am to try our luck at spotting a whale shark. Peak season is from March to May, so we were a week or so early. The weather was bad and we didn’t have any luck.

We then headed to Legazpi to try our luck on that side of the region, but because of the weather, we weren't allowed in the water. So we drove an hour to our second resort "Misibis Bay"

We then headed to Legazpi to try our luck on that side of the region, but because of the weather, we weren’t allowed in the water. So we drove an hour to our second resort “Misibis Bay“.

We spent some time swimming, playing table tennis and then everyone had a chance to play a video game

We spent some time swimming, playing table tennis and then everyone had a chance to play a video game.

Since we already paid to have a whale shark excursion at a location, we woke up early to try our luck again. And we had a beautiful view all the way to the pier of the Mayon Volcano

Since we already paid to have a whale shark excursion at a location, we woke up early to try our luck again. And we had a beautiful view all the way to the pier of the Mayon Volcano.

Matt and I got in the water twice to swim with a 10 foot whale shark. It may have been the same whale shark, but we were the only ones able to swim with it in the 2 hours we were on the water

Matt and I got in the water twice to swim with a 12 foot whale shark. It may have been the same whale shark, but we were the only ones lucky enough to swim with it in the 2 hours we were on the water.

And while we were suppose to be looking for whale sharks, we couldn't help but enjoy the view of the volcano

And while we were supposed to be looking for whale sharks, we couldn’t help but enjoy the view of the volcano.

After our whale shark experience we wanted to spend some more time in Legazpi, so we rented ATVs and headed to the lava wall of Mayon Volcano

After our whale shark experience we wanted to spend some more time in Legazpi, so we rented ATVs and headed to the lava wall of Mayon Volcano.

We took a small hike up to the 2006 lava wall of Mayon Volcano...then Matt took the zipline down

We took a small hike up to the 2006 lava wall of Mayon Volcano…then Matt took the zip-line down, but the kids didn’t want to try that so I walked down with them.

Apparently our day wasn't exciting enough since Kalani got stung by a box jellyfish. The resort had vinegar on hand (and I also had my own bottle that was used), the doctor was on sight and stayed with her for a couple of hours

Apparently our day wasn’t exciting enough since Kalani got stung by a box jellyfish in shallow water. The resort had vinegar on hand (and I also had my own bottle that was used), the doctor was on sight and stayed with her for a couple of hours.

She got stung on her leg and feet, but her arm was the worse with a tenticle wrapped all the way around her arm when we came out of the water. So one hand is scared and swollen

She got stung on her leg and feet, but her arm was the worst with a tentacle wrapped all the way around her arm when she came out of the water. So one hand is scared and swollen for the time being.

Day 3:

We left the Bicol region around 7am and again enjoyed the beautiful view of that area of the Philippines. 12 hours later we were at home nursing Kalani's wound

We left the Bicol region around 7am and again enjoyed the beautiful view of that area of the Philippines. 12 hours later we were at home nursing Kalani’s wound.

More photos our our Bicol Vacation here.

Jakarta, Indonesia Vacation

February 25th, 2014 No comments

Matt had a business trip to Jakarta and wanted us to tag along. After looking at the calendar and school schedules we decided it would be best to come the weekend before his meetings and explore Jakarta. And it happened to be Chinese New Year, which is a holiday here and my birthday! Of course we went through Viator again to get a tour guide and we were fortunate enough to book Ira for 2 days. We packed a lot in those 48 hours and then Matt was able to explore even more for 10 additional days while with co-workers.

Day 1:

Mulia Hotel lobby around midnight checking in

We arrived at Mulia Hotel around midnight. Only a 4 hour flight from Manila and the hotel was wonderful.

Our view of Jakarta from our hotel window

Our view of Jakarta from our hotel window

Happy Chinese New Year...year of the Horse.  Our first stop of the day was to a Chinese Temple "Vihara Dharma Bhakti"

Happy Chinese New Year…year of the Horse. Our first stop of the day was to a Chinese Temple “Vihara Dharma Bhakti.” There were so many people there and the air was full of smoke from the incense

We spent time at Sunda Kelapa seeing huge wooden boats and then taking a 15 minute boat ride with this older gentleman

We spent time at Sunda Kelapa seeing huge wooden boats and then taking a 15 minute boat ride with this older gentleman

Next stop was to "Old Town Jakarta" where Matt was approached by a few teenagers asking him questions for a school project

Next stop was to “Old Town Jakarta” where Matt was approached by a few teenagers asking him questions for a school project

In "Old Town Jakarta" there is a European feel since the Dutch where here. You can rent these bikes with matching hats for an hour and ride around the square

In “Old Town Jakarta” there is a European feel since the Dutch where here. You can rent these bikes with matching hats for an hour and ride around the square

We bought this painting off the street from the artist (middle) on our way to another attraction

We bought this painting off the street from the artist (middle) on our way to another attraction

This Catholic church is built directly in front of the oldest Mosque in Indonesia

This Cathedral is built directly in front of the largest Mosque in Southeast Asia

Istiqlal Mosque is the National Mosque of Indonesia and we were told President Barack Obama visited here in 2010

Istiqlal Mosque is the National Mosque of Indonesia (3rd largest mosque in the world) and we were told President Barack Obama visited here in 2010

People still enjoying their time at the mosque after the noon prayer...and it was packed for that Friday noon prayer

People still enjoying their time at the mosque after the Friday noon prayer

Istiqlal tower as seen from within the mosque grounds

Istiqlal tower as seen from within the mosque grounds

Kalani holding the National Monument

Holding the National Monument…maybe she can get us some of the gold off the top

A late lunch at D'Marcos where our tour guide is part owner. We enjoyed all of the food that she had prepared for us and these are the "dessert pizzas"

A late lunch at D’Marco where our tour guide is part owner. We enjoyed all of the food that she had prepared for us and these are the “dessert pizzas”

In the evening we went to Grand Indonesia Mall where there were "Chinese New Year shows"

In the evening we went to Grand Indonesia Mall where there were “Chinese New Year shows”

Also at the Grand Indonesia they have this music/water show that lasts about 5-10 minutes and was pretty fun to watch

Also at the Grand Indonesia they have this music/water show that lasts about 5-10 minutes and was pretty fun to watch; and it was right next to Baskin Robbins ice cream

Day 2

We drove out of Jakarta for our next adventure. In some areas beggars are sitting between the lanes of cars

We drove out of Jakarta for our next adventure. In some areas beggars are sitting between the lanes of cars

Taman Safari was our first stop of the day where we were able to feed animals from our car window

Taman Safari was our first stop of the day where we were able to feed animals from our car window…guess he didn’t want to feed the zebra though

There were lions, tigers, and bears (oh my)...plus many other animals we could see up close from the comfort of our car

There were lions, tigers, and bears (oh my)…plus many other animals we could see up close from the comfort of our car

We found a komodo dragon in it's own country at Taman Safari

We found a komodo dragon in it’s own country at Taman Safari

Predator vs. Prey. We were in the reptile exhibit during feeding time.

Predator vs. Prey. We were in the reptile exhibit during feeding time.

Driving to our lunch appointment we were able to see the traffic that everyone talks about in Indonesia. It was the worst traffic we had ever seen; people were sitting here for a couple of hours waiting.

Driving to our lunch appointment we were able to see the traffic that everyone talks about in Indonesia. It was the worst traffic we had ever seen; people were sitting here for a couple of hours waiting.

We had lunch up in the mountains, but it was too cloudy to enjoy the view. After lunch we bought some souvenirs and the other vendors would not go away

We had lunch up in the mountains, but it was too cloudy to enjoy the view. After lunch we bought some souvenirs and the other vendors would not go away

Our last stop in Indonesia was to the Flower Garden

Our last stop in Indonesia was to the Flower Garden

The kids could have spent another hour or two here enjoying the garden. They really liked doing this maze

The kids could have spent another hour or two here enjoying the garden. They really liked doing this maze

More photos from our Indonesia trip here.

Wedding in Siquijor

February 20th, 2014 No comments

A couple of weeks after we left Siquijor for Christmas, we returned again. But this time it was for our cousin’s wedding.  Matt and I were asked to be sponsors, Kalani was a flower girl and Mason was an escort. It was a fun experience to see how they do weddings in the province. And the day before the wedding was our little cousin’s 4 year old birthday party as well…it was a short trip, but full of fun and memories.

We finally stayed at Coco Grove Beach Resort and wished we could have spent more time there. The downside is that this resort is an hour away from our family

We finally stayed at Coco Grove Beach Resort and wished we could have spent more time there. The downside is that this resort is an hour away from our family

The whole village from where our cousin is originally from showed up for the 4 year old birthday party

Many villagers from where our cousin is originally from showed up for the 4 year old birthday party

The Filipinos love lechon and a "free" meal

The Filipinos love lechon and a “free” meal

We had to leave the resort around 6am to get to our cousin's place to get hair and make-up done

We had to leave the resort around 6am to get to our cousin’s place to get hair and make-up done

The 12 passenger van we rented, turned into an 18 passenger van as we transported many people to the church

The 12 passenger van we rented, turned into an 18 passenger van as we transported many people to the church

Our family is ready for the wedding to start

Our family is ready for the wedding to start

Our lovely flower girl who had to wear a different dress since the other one was the wrong measurements...she is growing up too fast

Our lovely flower girl who had to wear a different dress since the other one was the wrong measurements…she is growing up too fast

Our handsome escort was bribed to behave for the 2 hours we were at the church

Our handsome escort was bribed to behave for the 2-3 hours we were at the church

Right after the parents walked down the aisle, it was our turn

Right after the parents walked down the aisle, it was our turn

During the wedding they had live singers and a chruch choir

During the wedding they had live singers and a church choir

The bride (our cousin) and groom with the flower girls and escorts

The bride (our cousin) and groom with the flower girls and escorts

Since we were the "sponsors" we got to sign the marriage contract

Since we were the “sponsors” we got to sign the marriage contract

When we arrived at the reception location, the village people were already eating before the wedding party showed us...its a different culture

When we arrived at the reception location, the village people were already eating before the wedding party showed up…that was very different than what we are use to

These boys wanted a photo with our kids...not sure if it is because they are "white" or because they are cute. I'm not ready for these older boys to be taking photos with our daughter

These boys wanted a photo with our kids…not sure if it is because they are “white” or because they are cute. I’m not ready for these older boys to be taking photos with our daughter

At the reception we found more relatives...these sisters are my second cousins

At the reception we found more relatives…these sisters are my second cousins

More photos from the wedding here.