Ada Rose – 9 months

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Eats: lots and lots of food. She especially likes oatmeal and bananas with yogurt! But really, she’s not picky.

Sleeps: All night and one nap most days. She is still rising earlier than the sun, but that’s ok… most of the time.

Favorite activity: Standing and trying to walk. She loves to move in her rolling walker and follow Oliver around everywhere he goes. Also she really wants to go into the bathroom…

Least favorite activity: When Oliver takes her toys away, which is constant. She also gets frustrated when she can’t stand.

Words: Ada is babbling along and imitating all of our noises, including smacking her lips.

Starting to: Get teeth! She is finally getting her bottom two teeth.

We are smitten with our little girl and Oliver loves his “Baby Rose”.

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Ada Rose – 6 months

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Eats: Formula! Mamma is done breastfeeding. *whew* we made it to six months!

Sleeps: Peacefully at night again. We’re trying to get her to a big afternoon nap instead of small naps throughout the day. The goal is to get both of them sleeping at the same time in the afternoon but I’m sure as soon as that happens Oliver won’t want to nap anymore…

Favorite activity: Chewing on everything! She wants to drool and chew on everything in sight. If she has a toy that’s not good for chewing, she doesn’t want it.

Least favorite activity: Being alone. Anytime I leave her playing by herself she cries and cries until I come back.

Words: Lots of baby talk and imitation. She loves listening to our wonderful nanny, Phuong, sing to her and talk to her.

Starting to: Scoot and move around. I wouldn’t call it crawling but she is moving around quite a bit. She’s also sitting on her own for short periods of time, usually until she sees a toy she wants and dives for it. Oh, and she’s holding her own bottle!

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Da Nang and Hoi An with 2 under 2

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We spent our memorial weekend on vacation, our first vacation with two kids under two. From Hanoi we flew to Da Nang and stayed for 3 nights. We left Friday after hubby got off work and arrived at our resort around 9pm and crashed.

Saturday was relaxing. The resort had a great breakfast buffet with food that Oliver liked (a big win). After breakfast we found a great kids area with lots for Oliver to do while we got settled. The thing about having small children on vacation is it’s nice to keep it low key sometimes. Hubby and I tend to go, go, go when we’re vacationing so we can see all the sights and eat a lot of good food. But with our children at such young ages, its nice to just relax sometimes. So we stayed at the resort for most of the vacation.

After our lunch at one of the resorts restaurants, we took the kids back for naps and we all slept. I went to the beach for a bit while everyone napped and eventually went back to the room to sleep. Is there anything better than a nap listening to the waves crash on the beach?

For dinner we decided to go off site into Da Nang. We were going to try this burger place I’d heard about called Burger Bro’s but when we got there they were out of beef and chicken, so we said no thank you. But we ended up at Taco Ngon, a beloved spot by travelers. I would not have bet on eating a good taco this far away from South America, but they were delicious and I can’t wait to go back.

On Sunday we were rested and wanted to get out, so we took the shuttle form our resort to Hoi An. It was about a half hour ride from door to door. The second we stepped off the shuttle we started sweating, so a stop for lime juice was in order. The roadside stand we stopped at made some good lime juice but it was super dangerous for children, which is something you don’t notice until you’re a parent traveling with young children in a country without great medical care. Oliver was sitting super close to a rusty fence and grabbed a stick of burning incense before we got out of there.

There are many tailors in Hoi An and if you ever visit you should go on your first day and get some clothing custom tailored so it’s ready before you leave. There are shops who do excellent work. You can have suits, shirts, dresses, coats, or anything you want tailored. Just remember to bargain, even if it’s already a good price. We didn’t get anything tailored this trip, but next time we go we will have some tailoring done.

We saw a lot of westerners vacationing in Hoi An, which means prices are going to be more expensive than other parts of Vietnam. But more westerners didn’t stop Oliver from getting a lot of attention like usual. He is probably on more people’s Instagram and Facebook pages than we can count.

Once we returned to the resort, we spent the rest of the afternoon at the beach and pool enjoying the water and relaxing. We wore the kids out so much that they both passed out before 7pm, yay!

Our flight wasn’t until Monday evening, so we paid for a late checkout and hung around the resort until we left for the airport. It was great to be able to go to the beach and pool one more time before we had to leave. Our vacation to Da Nang and Hoi An was wonderful and we wouldn’t change a thing about it. Next time we go we will see more sights and get out around town a bit more, but there is nothing like a weekend where you just lay on the beach!

Luang Prabang, Laos

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This is our last trip for a while. I’m flying with Oliver to the States so we can prepare for baby girl’s arrival! We wanted to have a little vacation before the chaos, and Tet was right before my departure which gave us the perfect window. Our trip to Luang Prabang, Laos was 5 days, which was plenty. The hotel we stayed at was nice and quiet, and we were practically the only people there. The weather was perfect, in the 80’s but low humidity and no pollution. Luang Prabang is set on the Mekong river and we ended up eating or relaxing riverside every day. There is a huge night market in the center of the small town. We walked through the market every night, buying clothes and unique souvenirs from the locals.

Our first full day in town we went to Elephant Village, an elephant sanctuary that focuses on the rehabilitation and protection of elephants. I’ve always wanted to ride an elephant, and at 8 months pregnant I got my chance. There are a lot of things I haven’t been able to do here in Asia because I’m pregnant, like ride roller coasters at Disney or go zip lining. But I was not going to pass up a chance to ride an elephant, bareback. It was a once in lifetime experience! I’ll admit, I was a little nervous at first, but my mahout (elephant trainer) stayed on the elephant until I was comfortable. Hubby and Oliver rode another elephant during the ride, and Oliver was very good about riding as long as he could see me behind them.

We aimed to have a relaxing couple of days, so we didn’t really set any kind of itinerary. You can’t stay in Luang Prabang for any length of time with out visiting a temple (called wats). There are 32, and each one is beautiful. The outsides are often painted in gold and decorated with shiny pieces of green glass so they shimmer in the sun. Inside are different depictions of buddha and walking around are monks of different ages in their distinct orange robes. The wats were all beautiful in their own unique way.

The food was really good, ranging from western dishes to noodles soups to whole fish grilled on bamboo skewers. We drank from coconuts and enjoyed some delicious coffee along the Mekong. Our final vacation was a wonderful one, and I would highly recommend Luang Prabang for anyone looking for a nice relaxing vacation.

A weekend in Bai Tu Long Bay

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About three weeks ago, my aunt and uncle came to visit for a week. Our first visitors! We had a lot of fun showing them around the city. We decided to spend the weekend on a cruise in Bai Tu Long Bay, which is in the greater Halong Bay area. Halong bay is more well known, and also more crowded, so we opted for the quieter three day cruise.

The package included transportation from Hanoi to the ship, which was nice and saved us from having to worry about getting there on time. However, our driver was a stickler for timeliness and hovered around us during the rest stop reminding us of the time.

Our ship, the Dragon Legend, was really nice and spacious, especially considering the cruise was only half full. It’s a more popular destination when the weather is nice enough to swim, although I’m not sure how much swimming I’d do in the bay. The food was really tasty, and included a lot of fish (not shocking since we’re on the ocean). Our waiter, known to us as Tom Cruise, was very friendly and made sure we were taken care of the whole time. The rooms easily accommodated us, including the crib for Oliver, and had beautiful views of the karsts as we sailed past.

The first day I went kayaking with my aunt and uncle while hubby stayed with Oliver on the boat. We thought about taking him kayaking, but we weren’t feeling adventurous enough to jump in after him if he went for a swim. Kayaking gave me an up close view of the karsts at sunset, which was amazing. The guide said if we looked close we could see monkeys, but I’m pretty sure he was just saying that. There are monkeys but they aren’t usually visible during the winter months.

Our second day was action packed. We started the morning visiting floating fishing villages. Our family was rowed in a small rowboat by a local fisher woman through the karsts and different floating homes. We stopped at a floating community area that housed lots of fisheries and a school for the children. I was surprised to see quite a few dogs who lived on these floating homes. Oliver was super excited and hugged one of them. Next, we rowed to another community area that specialized in pearl farming. They explained how they implanted pearls into oysters to create larger pearls, and showed us the different kind of oysters. And, of course, there was a large show room where we could purchase the pearls. (Hubby secretly bought a pair of earrings and gave them to me for Christmas).

After the fisher woman rowed us back, we had lunch on a beach close to the ship. First, we climbed some stone steps to explore a cave which was cool to see. Then the crew served us a BBQ lunch feast on the beach. Oliver was able to go for a swim and play in the ocean a bit, which was a first for him.

The rest of the night was relaxing, and hubby was able to go kayaking this time, while Oliver and I napped and explored the ship. The following day was mostly packing up, and enjoying the view of the karsts in the morning as we sailed back to the harbor.

The trip was a perfect mix of relaxation, adventure and fruity tropical drinks. It was definitely a trip I would do again, and again.

Vietnam: What Do You Want to Know?

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We’ve been here about six weeks now and I’d like to know what you, our family and friends, have questions about.

Once we receive our boxes and settle the rest of our things into our home, I will do an entire blog post about our house and some of the differences between here and the US.

But what else are you interested in? Recipes? Food we’re eating? Traveling with a one year old? Pregnancy in a foreign country? The language barrier? Strange things we’ve seen?

Tell me, tell me, tell me!

Thank you in advance for your feedback!

Making the Move

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Well… the last six weeks have been pretty eventful. We celebrated Oliver’s first birthday in August with some amazing family and friends. It was so special to see everyone and watch how Oliver reacted to all the fanfare. He took his time digging into his cake, but after he got the hang of it there was no stopping him. He even shared the frosting with me!

The three of us just returned from Michigan where we did a farewell tour and tried to catch as many family and friends as possible before we left. Thank you to everyone who came to our going away parties! It was heartwarming to see everyone and be able to share more information about our transition to Vietnam. We were also able to see all of our siblings, which doesn’t happen often since everyone lives in different states and different countries.

We also said goodbye for now to our beloved doberman Sophie. We made the very difficult decision to leave her with our good friends while we’re living in Vietnam. It was emotional and I still look around the house for her and get pretty sad when I realize she’s not here. But, in the end, I think this is the best decision for her for the next couple years.

Now, here we are at the end of September in the throes of packing. Tomorrow is the big day, the day all our belongings get packed up in boxes and suitcases. Needless to say, our house is a disaster, and I’m looking forward to the weekend when all the packing is done and we can relax!

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers as we continue the transition to our new home in Vietnam.