Got an 8-month old? Why not travel to Hong Kong for the weekend?

Our first international trip out of Thailand was to Hong Kong, and it was fabulous!  Logan was eight months old at the time and we spent almost the whole trip on our feet (Logan received the royal treatment by riding in the Deuter kid backpack or Ergo most of the time, including for his naps)!  We traveled to Hong Kong before I started Toddle Joy, so I hope to fill in more details about our trip later, but I thought I’d post these pictures showing the bulk of what we did in 48 hours — eat, hike, and travel via ferry and peak tram!

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Royal Jordanian direct from Bangkok to Hong Kong provided us with a sweet ride. Logan just *barely* still fit in the baby bassinet, but look at him – clear he wasn’t interested in sleeping in it!

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Yes, hotel rooms in Hong Kong are small, but as long as you bring what you need for baby, it all works out

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Beautiful sites at The Peak. The Peak Tram is a must!

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Phenomenal dim sum is available in many places around Hong Kong

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Ferry ride from Hong Kong to Kowloon

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Hiking atop Hong Kong – a great and unique thing to do on a beautiful weekend. Make sure to take a good baby-carrying backpack and sun hat with you.

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Beautiful hike, which Logan napped for most of

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Flashback: Our Balinese Break

Logan got a pretty big birthday present when he turned 10 months old . . . a trip to Bali. The trip took place before I started Toddle Joy, so I’m still working on putting together all of the details of our trip together for you, but in the meantime, here are some pictures of the highlights . . .

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Nothing says Bali like flowers on your bed upon arrival.

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First up, a trip to Ubud’s well-known Monkey Forest. Beware of monkeys looking to steal toddler snacks!

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A stroll through Monkey Forest

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A sleeping baby is a beautiful thing, especially while Mom and Dad enjoy lunch at the Four Seasons Ubud! A luxury in more ways than one!

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Rocking a pink high chair while lunching on our second floor balcony

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When in Bali, walk through rice paddies

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The Bali Bird Park is a hit for kids!

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Beaching it in Sanur

Resettlement

So here we are.  Back home.  In “America,” as Logan calls it.

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The jet lag did them in, but otherwise they seemed to adjust quickly

For three of the five of us it’s a place we don’t know, so there is some adjusting to do. Luckily, those three are little, adaptable, and easy-going (for the most part), so the twenty-four hour travel journey, followed up by an international move, a new home, a new school, and new friends and activities didn’t phase them much. Yes, we miss Thailand (BIG time — and probably me the most), but the kids are really enjoying a change of pace and getting to reconnect with grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. They are also learning a thing or two about the seasons, the concept of having neighbors, the luxury of having a back yard to play in, that there are public services like water fountains provided in parks and airports (and you can actually drink the water that comes from them), what real trick-or-treating is, what a chimney is and how Santa makes his way down it, what a postman (oh, and a mailbox) looks like.  It’s the little things, really.  Every once in awhile they ask for the beach, or to swim, or for certain friends in Bangkok.  And sometimes they ask for “gai thawt” (fried chicken) with “kaow niaow” (sticky rice).  But for the most part, they seem to have adjusted well.  It’s the times I get nostalgic and show them pictures of our time in Thailand that I can tell from their reactions that they miss it, too, but perhaps not in the way that I do.

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Logan was not phased by his first day in a new school and Kateyln assumed she was going, too

I found Thailand hard to leave on a number of levels – the warmth of the people, the ease of life, the year-round warm weather that allowed beach trips every month, the food, the ability to travel elsewhere in region so easily.  And then there were the people we had to say goodbye to – our friends, school mates, teachers, work colleagues and the people who worked in our home.  Uncle Noodle and the tuk-tuk tea shop lady along our street.  After all, we did see them nearly every day for almost four years.  I started to get emotional a day or two before we departed Thailand. I had an all-out emotional melt-down taking Logan to preschool the last day and saying goodbye to his teachers and other parents.  On our way back to the U.S., we stopped off in Oahu for a few days (highly recommended, by the way), and I continued to be emotional.  In fact, I didn’t really stop being emotional for a short time after that.  Now I feel adjusted, but still nostalgic for our time in Thailand.

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Definitely not in Thailand anymore . . .

It took me awhile to clear my head, but I finally realized why it was so particularly hard for me to let go.  Leaving Thailand meant leaving behind a stage in our children’s lives – a young and innocent stage, a stage of their “firsts” (words, steps, day of school).  It meant leaving behind the place where two of our daughters were born and a place that nearly fully shaped the first four years of our son’s life.  It meant that our children were growing up.  And I was learning that I was going to have to start accepting that. And that is one of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with as a parent this year.  Not the tantrums, not the lack of sleep, not the constant demands of three little ones all at one time.  It’s the fact that they are growing up and things won’t be the way they are today come tomorrow.

The day-to-day of being a parent seems to go by so slowly, but the years go by quickly. So never forget to cherish today.  Live in today.  Be patient in solving their problems because tomorrow, it may be a problem that they can solve on their own.

Also, I am going to need to invest in Kleenex stock next year when Logan starts kindergarten.

Of Dolphin Bay Resort and the iPhone 5s’ Slo-Mo Video

A couple of quick things while I hold a sleeping baby in one hand/arm and hunt and peck with the other.

1.  We’re at the famously kid-friendly Dolphin Bay Resort in Pranburi for the very hot Songkran holiday.  This place couldn’t be more accommodating when it comes to kids – a great, beautiful beach front with no waves (which is a stark contrast to Hua Hin’s lack of a beach front), kid-friendly pools, a water slide, kids activities, bikes with children’s bike seats — as well as children’s bikes — for hire, a fantastic play ground and lawn area to play sports, an old-fashion popcorn-making machine, ice cream always within reach, and best of all — lots of friendly families with lots of other kids.  If you have a child who likes to make friends and play with others, this place is for you (side note:  it also reduces the burden on you, parents, when your children are entertained by others — we have learned this slowly over the course of our three years of vacationing in Thailand).  My husband, who has graciously always woken up early with Katelyn (now almost two years old) and allowed the rest of us to “sleep in” until 7am, said that for the first time on a vacation, he did not feel out of place walking around the resort with a toddler at 6am.  Apparently, there were plenty of other dads doing the same.  Bingo.  This is the spot if you have early-rising toddlers!

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Super-awesome playground and lawn area for the kids

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Kate at Dolphin Bay in 2013

Quick note on the digs:  the rooms are not lux, but we were very fortunate to get into the newly-renovated two bedroom suite (features two bedrooms, a living area, two flat screen TVs, excellent wifi, two bathrooms, and a kitchenette).  It is plenty big for a family of five and is clean, nice, and well-equipped.  If you are on your way down, ask if a newly-renovated room/suite is available.  I believe the owners are slowly renovating all of the rooms.

2.  I wanted to test out the awesome, new slo-mo video function on my iphone 5, so I captured Walter and the kids going down the slide.  Check this:

Cool, right?

3.  Vacation success?  Now being two parents with three children under the age of four, we have only lost one child on one instance during our vacation so far.  Not so bad.  #parentingstandardsareslipping #zonedefense

Maldives Underwater Video

So, remember that Maldives video I promised in my last post?  Yeah, I’m finally getting around to posting it.  At five months pregnant I was too buoyant to dive down, but my husband captured some great moments of swimming with turtles, eels, and rays.  Enjoy!