Thursday, April 13, 2017

Chasing Butterflies at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Our family decided to make the trek to preview the new Hidden Butterfly Jungle* exhibit at the San Diego Safari Park. Since it was our first time to the Safari Park, we were so excited that we forgot to grab a map at the entrance, and had a bit of a difficult time navigating the location of the Inner Jungle, as there weren’t a lot of signs leading to the Inner Jungle. However, the staff were all very friendly, and directed us towards the right direction.

When we arrived at the entrance, we were each handed a butterfly guide with photos of the various types of butterflies inside. As we stepped through the double doors, we were transported into a magical rainforest greenhouse full of vibrant foliage, flowers and of course, butterflies. Our kids have been really into caterpillars and butterflies lately, so they were ecstatic to see the large amount of butterflies fluttering around-- especially the larger, exotic species that we typically don’t see around here. We spotted several large Common Blue Morphos, Giant Owls (they really do look like owls, and camouflage so well with the branches!), Rusty-Tipped Pages and several more. JJ was also intrigued by all the ladybugs crawling about, while the younger one was into chasing the butterflies that were crawling on the floor, or swooping in front of his face at eye-level. We also had some opportunities with butterflies landing on the kids’ hats and backs, but the moment was so quick that we missed most of the photo-ops!

Some helpful tips:

-       Wear bright, bold colors and patterns to attract the butterflies
-       Tell your children to stand still for a possible butterfly landing!
-       Head to the exhibit early on in the day, as there may be less people
-       Strollers need to be parked outside, so plan on wearing any children that are not yet mobile
-       Bring a camera with a fast shutter lens to capture the butterflies landing on you or the children!

Some photos we captured of these beauties!
*The Hidden Butterfly Jungle is open daily at 9am-5:45pm, from March 11 through April 23. 

San Diego Zoo Safari Park
15500 San Pasqual Valley Road, Escondido,CA

Catch them before they flutter away! ; )

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Sweet Bebe Sophie

On a sweet November evening of last year, we welcomed our third child, Sophie Grace into our crazy family. Of all the birth stories previously written on this blog (here + here), hers was by far the shortest. We had been praying that labor would short and somewhat sweet. To be honest, I hadn't fully prepared mentally for her birth, like I had for my first child or even second child. Perhaps for that reason, I felt a bit wimpish when labor began to pick up in intensity.

Early labor started on a Friday afternoon, around the same time we were supposed to leave to go on a boat ride (could you imagine if we had gone?) with some of my husband's co-workers. I actually didn't notice when I started getting the contractions, because I was tending to my second one. My in-laws had come over shortly after, as they were going to watch the boys as we were about to leave for the boat ride. Timing-wise, this was perfect, since we had no idea when my labor would start, and the whole thought of having the two kids with me alone while it happened, terrified me a bit. But to have the Hubby home AND my in-laws over to watch the kids was an answered prayer in itself, and looking back, it's funny how much I often worry about things that are totally out of my control, but the Lord knew it would all work out in the end!

After a couple hours of consistent, but painless contractions, we decided to head closer to the hospital to walk around, just in case we encountered another near car-birth experience again. We decided to drive to the mall to walk around, and soon my contractions began to pick up in speed and intensity, spacing at 3-7 minutes apart. I was feeling nervous about the timing of the contractions, so we headed to the hospital. 

It was a rather quiet evening at the hospital this time, with one other patient in L+D. We got situated, and the nurse told me I was only 4cm, which was shocking to me, because some of the contractions started to get uncomfortable. They told us we had 2 hours to walk around the halls before they would check me again, and if I didn't progress, they would send me home. I felt disappointed, but the nurse encouraged me with the fact that labor would speed up quickly after 5cm, since this was my third one. 

We walked up and down the hospital hallway for a little over an hour, and my contractions started to become more painful, and each step becoming more unbearable. The thought of staring at another set of hospital tiles made me queasy, and I began feeling weak, imagining different scenarios, worrying that I would be going through the same pain for hours (and feeling as though my pain tolerance has decreased). Mike prayed for me, asking the Lord to show me grace with a shorter labor this time around. 

I decided to go back to the room to sit down and rest, and that was when my mom called to ask how I was doing. I remember telling her I was about to have a big contraction, and so she hung up the phone (haha). Afterwards, the nurse told us to let her know if I began to feel the urge to push, which happened right after she left the room. The nurse ran back in, and started paging the doctor, who was in the OR with a patient who was having a C-Section. Holding back the urge to push has always been the worst feeling, and I was ready to push the baby out, doctor or no doctor! After what felt like an eternity, the doctor rushed in and told me to push once, pause and push again. And just like that, our screaming sweet little girl (with a big set of lungs) was born!
Holding our baby girl in my arms was just as sweet as the first time I held my boys. Seriously, the feeling of holding and meeting your child for the first time never gets old. I can see why some are willing to go through it over and over...the addiction is real, folks. Even though babies all look the same, there was something daintier and more fragile with a girl-- from her slender little fingers to her soft, pink cheeks, sweet smell and higher pitched cry (a bit shrill at times), I loved every bit of it.

One of my biggest fears with having a third has been the whole jealously issue that our first child experienced when our second one was born. So, so many folks had been praying hard over us and our boys-- that they would love and protect her. And by God's grace (see the common theme here?), the boys have been nothing but sweet to their baby sister, even smothering her a bit too much at times. She is incredibly blessed, and we are even more blessed and thankful to have her in our family.  
Our first set of family photos taken by my awesome brother, Spencer (he took these all under half an hour)!
I cannot tell you how long it took to find a decent Christmas photo with everyone somewhat looking at the camera

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Fall is finally here!

We recently took our somewhat annual trip to Oak Glen Orchards to visit the apple orchards in honor of a very warm Fall, here in sunny California. This was also the first time we went on a weekend, and boy was it crowded! Thankfully, we had prepared lunch and snacks for a picnic, so the boys just ate while we were waiting in line to press apple cider (which took about an hour!). It was the first time for us, and everyone had loads of fun helping. And in the end, you get a big basketful of apples worth of juice!
Gathering apples for our cider! Lukey was really good at taking the apples out of our basket and putting them back in the washbasin -__-
Waiting in anticipation after all the hard work...
Mama + bebe gotta have their apple cider donuts from Snowline Orchards.


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Party of 5

Back in early February of this year, I found out I was pregnant with our third child. For a couple of weeks prior to discovering the shocking news, I had a strange feeling something was up, but the test results kept coming back negative. My cycle had been completely off the previous month, so I waited and took another test a week later...and that was when I saw the faint line that usually tells no lies.

Part of me was shocked, but another part had expected it, due to the symptoms I had been feeling. All I could think about was the fact that my youngest was still 9 months old, and I had just delivered him last year! The best part was that I was getting used to wearing normal clothes again. But the thing was, I had just warmed up to the idea of having another child, and thought we would wait a bit and enjoy our Party of 4 until the right time came along. I suppose the Lord has a sense of humor, because he probably knew I would change my mind if I had let the idea marinate any longer : ). Mike was probably just as shocked as I was, if not more! Sometimes our plans don't always work out the way we think they will, but we trust that God knows best...and having had two unborn babies in heaven, we take each life seriously and we're thankful for the little person that is growing within me.
Now the thing with having three children who are still in full-sized carseats, required an upgrade in the car department. We were driving around a Mazda Cx5, which is a midsize SUV, and it would not accommodate the three carseats we would need. We were quite bummed about that, having drove our car for only a few years since our oldest was born. The car had grown with us and we loved it dearly. And then the inevitable had to happen: we needed to trade in our beloved car in order to purchase a minivan (gasp). In the past, I had told myself I would most likely never want to purchase a minivan because I grew up driving one and they were unwieldy, bulky and generally "uncool." Well, I guess when push comes to shove, and you become a parent, you learn to make "sacrifices" and choose what is practical. True, we could have purchased a larger SUV, but after realizing how tight it would still be, we decided to go big.
We haven't regretted our choice to purchase a "Swagger-Wagon," and even took it out for a road trip test drive to NorCal with the fam. I must say that it was rather nice to be able to fit everyone, including my extended family into one car! We didn't have to hold back when it came to packing the essentials for the children, and Mama even got to pack a few extra pair of shoes ; ). We expect to take this big baby on several more trips down the road-- and the day we have to get rid of it will be most bittersweet.


Saturday, September 3, 2016

In Brugge

Our trip to Brugge, which was a few hours away from the Netherlands, was a magical experience...perhaps on par with Disneyland, but minus the rides. Mike had already visited during college, and was raving about how much he loved this place. In the evening, when all the lights were lit, it felt like a walk down main street. I know they do a lot of renovations (I hear the swans were added too) to this town in order to make it tourist-worthy, but we soaked it all up!

For our stay, we found a little B+B which was a self-sustained farm located just outside the city. The place had great reviews, and pricing was very modest. What made their breakfast so impressive was the fact that our hostess prepared mostly everything from scratch-- from the cheeses to the yogurt, jams, milk from their own cow, fresh eggs, quiches, sweet breads and she even took her apples to have them juiced  fresh at a local juicery! The room was what you would imagine a farmhouse loft to look like, but minus the filth and smell. It was incredibly spacious for our family, and it gave us a small taste of what life would be like, living on a little farm. Our oldest son loved seeing all the animals (even though the pigs sort of frightened him) and chasing the chickens. In the morning, they allowed us to watch the cow being milked using an electric pump (I had much empathy for the cow!), and then our hostess took the milk to be low-pasteurized. If anyone is ever thinking of visiting this beautiful, quaint town, I highly recommend Le Plat Pays!
Breakfast spread each morning at our B+B farmhouse

This building facade was several hundred years old, and currently houses a candy shop
Visiting the heart of Ghent, an old Medieval town next door to Brugge
A tiny soup n' sandwich shop bustling with locals- this was perhaps the most challenging dining location, as there was no space to put our stroller, and we even had a few nasty glares from customers who were unhappy about where we initially placed our folded-up stroller! Thankfully, we encountered some kind folks who gave us their space...-__-
First Liege waffle

A mix of old and new
Our favorite French girl drove all the way from Bretagne to meet up with us ^^
Brugge in all its picturesque glory- can you spot the swans?
Our hostess pasteurizing milk from their cows
The view from Belfry Tower 
The Chocolate Line -- Had the most interesting flavors, such as Cuban cigar! :O
Art during tea time with Morgane : )
JJ was entertained while we sampled beers ^^
The route to our farmhouse never got old
Our host, showing JJ Mama cow and Bebe calf
All smiles after breakfast