She’s now 4!

Yup, that’s right, Emery has official turned 4 today. We spent her birthday in Boston and had a family birthday party.

We too a river boat cruise in the morning as part of Eugene’s graduation. The weather was perfect today and Boston was absolutely gorgeous.

Afterwards, my parents took Emery to Boston Garden to see the ducks and a swan boat ride.

In the meantime, Ashley, Eugene, Enzi(Eugene’s BU friend) and I picked up Emery’s cake, party supplies and food for the birthday party.

We surprised Emery with a birthday party at home when she returned and she had so much fun. Emery loves princesses and hello kitty so we have her a well themes party.

Here’s some pics:










Boston Excursion

Birthday Party:

















Hilton Head Island

We decided to take a family vacation for a few days and experience Hilton head. This is technically day one. The weather is nice, just a few clouds in the sky. It’s a warm low 70s and the water is pretty warm as well. A cool ocean breeze is blowing on my face. I am sitting on a beach chair, watching as Ash and Emery wade in the calm sea bank looking for sea shells.

A year and a half ago, Emery was scared of the water and now she confidently struts over with cup and takes filling after filling of wet sand to build her sand castles. “I am making a doggy” Emery says. Her cute toddler voice is like sweet bells to our ears. To see her hunched over and playing in the sand only reminds me of how fast she is growing. Our little Em B.

Ash and Emery have walked off now, mixed into the crowd of beach goers walking, splashing, basking in the Carolina season. Next weekend is Memorial Day weekend. “It’s going to be busy”, the publix worker said to me last night. A sense of pride but also sigh marking the extra work shed probably have to do.

I am really excited about this trip. We rented a vacation condo right next to the beach. It’s literally a 5 min walk across the street and we’re there! I picked it and booked the trip, Ashley didn’t have to plan. So I was a bit worried it would not live up tithe hype…but…the apartment is great. Just the right size if not a bit bigger for us. It’s so relaxing to get away from home, but s enjoy the comforts of a real home and not a sterile hotel room.

We took the dogs with us this time. A rare thing these days, due to the logistics and hassle of wrangling a toddler and 2 dogs just never seems to be worth it. But this time, it’s a family trip so canines included! Of course our senior dogs are house trained but as Ashley joked, “they’re house trained for our house”. In less than 12 hours Pok’e, our little princess, has peed in about 6 to 8 spots in the house. I guess she has to make sure her new kingdom is adequately settled in to smell like her place. Poor Wappa is so blind he keeps bumping into furniture. But remarkably she catches on pretty quick and is back to his laid back self in no time.

I see Ashley and Emery coming back now. We’ll see how many shells she has collected. She is so cute with her little Paul frank bathing suit

Charleston, S.C.

I am sitting on a enclosed patio deck in a rocking chair sipping my favorite iced coffee, listening to music. Ash is curled up in a lawn chair next to me reading a gossip magazine and Nai Nai is to my other side playing with Emery. Yup we are on vacation!

We are in a beach home in Charleston, South Carolina this week and loving the relaxation. We traveled together with the Lo’s. They have a little daughter as well Eva, so Emery had another small person in company. We’ve been taking in sights, sounds and tastes of the south in our vacation getaway.

Charleston has a lot of rich history and we got to visit and old southern plantation call Boone Hall. It dated back to 1600s and had over 300 slaves at one point producing cotton, indigo, rice and bricks. It was raining the day we were there but still gorgeous and just like the one in Gone With the Wind.

We also had some great food while here. Did not know it is one of the great culinary cities in America. We ate southern cuisine many of which were local southern ingredients from the produce to the the seafood. Ash, being a seafood had a blast with tuna and shrimp everyday!

Best of all the vacation home rental at Folly Beach was awesome. We spent a lot of time just lounging at the house both inside and out. Here are some more photos from our trip.



Babymoon in Montreal December 2009

Ray and I have yet to take our honeymoon.  But we decided that we’ll at least take a babymoon! We wanted to do a little traveling before our little one arrives. Although it’s still months and months away, it feels like time in closing up on us for the next… 18 years, at least! 🙂 Kidding.

We weren’t able to fly anywhere due to again, the much complained about morning sickness. Plus, we wanted to take our dogs with us. Ray didn’t have a lot of vacation so we can’t go too far.  We finally decided on going to Montreal, Canada, the first weekend in December. We figure it’s within driving distance (around 6 hours), can bring the dogs with us, and Montreal would be very different than visiting any other city in the U.S.  It felt like we were could’ve been in France. Old Montreal was especially beautiful. The brick-paved narrow streets and homey shops were well-preserved. When we visited the Notre Dame Cathedral, a glamorous wedding was about to take place.

We stayed at the Omni Hotel, a short walking distance to all the shops and restaurants.  The weather was really cold so we didn’t manage to walk too far, just around the downtown area and to the Old Montreal district.  Fortunately, there were many great restaurants nearby and Ray and I, in our opinions, managed to go to two of the best ones… the hotel concierge recommended a French restaurant called Europea and another one known for its bouillabaise, Cafe Ferrera. We were lucky to have gotten reservations for both within 2 short days.

Do you know what those were above?  Lollipops. Yeap, lollipops. But not the conventional ones that you would expect. They were goat cheese lollipops. What????? I had to pass on it and Ray happily took one for the team and ate both and loved them.  The ambiance of Europea was very romantic and the food (aside from the strange lollipop and lobster truffle), was absolutely delicious. The wait staff kept bringing over “complements from the chef” and what was expected to be a 3-course meal turned out to be more of a 9-course meal.  The dessert was one of the best. We tried macarones for the first time (no, not macaroons as I first thought) and we fell in love. Now, whenever we see them in New York, we had to try them. The ones we had at Europea were orange-flavored. Yummmmm…

At Cafe Ferrera, we had one of the most delicious bouillabaise ever! Although this was a portuguese restaurant and the bouillabaise was slightly improvised with added sausage to its broth, I have to say I’ve never had a better bouillabaise than this.  The seafood was fresh and the shrimps and scallops were huge! The broth was so flavorful and savoring. Ray and I sat pretty close to the open kitchen and I just wanted to walk up there and take another one that was prepared for someone else. Ray also got a saffron seafood dish served over rice and that was amazing too.

Despite the fine dining in Montreal, we don’t want to forget the wonderful breakfast(s)… yeap, twice, at the Eggspectation. We haven’t had such scrumptious and filling breakfasts in a long time….

Ray loved his eggs benedict.

All in all, our babymoon in Montreal was a lot of fun.  We were fortunate the hotel was nearby and we were able to take a lot of breaks in between the sightseeing and walking. I was near the end of my first trimester and the fatigue and morning sickness started to subside slightly so we were able to enjoy this trip a little more than we initially expected. This was definitely a memorable trip!!!

Vancouver and Alaska Trip with the Au’s Family August 2009

On the morning of August 14, Ray and I headed to Newark Airport to board our flight to Vancouver to meet up with my family.  The Au’s family planned a 10-day vacation to see Vancouver and Alaska. We were spending two days in Vancouver and then board a cruise ship to set sail to Alaska for the remaining seven days. My parents, both sisters, niece, nephew, Ray and I were all very excited. We haven’t had a family outing in many years. My family and I have been to Vancouver once, a long, long time ago.  Seeing Vancouver again and seeing some of the changes and as well as new things were eye-opening. Vancouver is such a beautiful and clean city.  As soon as we arrived at the airport, my family was there to meet us and we headed out to our first stop: Capilano Bridge.

I could tell my parents were having a great time already and Ray reacquainted with Meagan fairly quickly. They haven’t seen each since our wedding back in 2007. But as you can see, they became buddies right away. My dad spent the majority of the trip manhandling my nephew, Dylan. Boy, this kid was absolutely full of energy and no one could stop him. He was constantly moving, climbing, or doing things that made my parents unable to peel their eyes off him. Very fun to watch. I wish I could have that kind of energy!

The car rides throughout the two days in Vancouver were very cozy and rather pleasant.

My parents loved Vancouver. It met one of their main criteria of a good place to visit: good chinese food. We went to several restaurants that had the Hong-Kong flavor and my parents reminisced about the food and how they miss Hong Kong itself.

At noon on the 17th, we embarked the Island Princess cruise ship and were off to Alaska. Our agenda included landing on three major ports: Ketchikan, Skagway and Juneau, along with passing by Glacier Bay National Parkand College Fjord. Our first stop in Alaska was Ketchikan. According to a local guide, Ketchikan was the actual destination for the “Bridge to Nowhere” made infamous during Sarah Palin’s campaign.  Ketchikan and pretty much everywhere we visited in Alaska had delicious canned salmon. They were extremely different than what we could find back in New York’s gourmet stores. Ray and I also took a walking tour around the quaint city and saw some amazing things, such as a bald eagle and an owl. That owl could turn its head 240 degrees within milliseconds. Crazy huh? They were presented by a local preservation group reaching out to educate the public about these fascinating creatures.

The cruise ship itself was pretty amazing. There were so many activities going on at any given hour. We all kept busy throughout the day, either getting off and exploring the different ports or stayed on the boat, relaxed and enjoyed the numerous activities offered, ranging from movies to shows to playing ping pong. My parents, especially my mom, love to play cards, and hadn’t had a chance to do that in some time. We took advantage of the card room and had a blast. My mom was very lucky and consistently won.

Ray even played some chinese chess with my dad. Loser drinks every time he lost a piece. Ray and I even teamed up against my dad, but my dad blew us into the water. He called us amateurs. 🙂 That’s okay, we made him drink his share of the wine we bought at one of the ports.

No matter what everyone did during the day, we always tried to meet up for dinner every night at one of the formal dining rooms. The dining experience on the boat was pretty good; well-presented dishes, great service and a respectable variety. We sat on the same table every night since they were reserved for us and we had the same two waiters throughout the entire cruise.

Meagan was ready to eat! She called me the week before the trip and gave me a heads up on what she intended to eat on the cruise. She is an experienced “cruiser”, having been on several cruises before, including the Disney cruise. She knew what kinds of food would be available on the boat and she literally named a laundry list of what she planned to consume. On top of that, she challenged that she would eat more than Uncle Ray. I can tell you that she lived up to her end of her claim… the girl can eat! Don’t let the little 5-year old frame fool you.

Dylan, on the other hand, was more interested in doing other things on the boat besides eating. He wanted to climb, climb and climb, and make everyone nervous that he would fall off somewhere. Thank goodness, he is very agile and strong and knew exactly what he was doing… not even one accident…

The main attraction on this cruise, of course, was to see glaciers. The views were breathtaking at any angle, anywhere on the ship.  I never knew this type of scenery truly existed until I witnessed it with my own eyes. We saw glaciers calving as we got up pretty close. It was beyond what words could describe.

At some point, we were getting so used to seeing the amazing scenery that we began to take it for granted. See Ray talking or checking his phone and ignoring the beautiful view behind him… (“Oh, it’s just some ginormous glacier….no big deal, we’ve been seeing this throughout the cruise”)….Get off the phone!

One of Ray’s and my favorite events throughout the cruise was visiting the Alaska Sled Dog and Musher’s Camp in Skagway.  It was pouring outside and the shuttle ride to the camp site was over an hour.  But! It was worth every minute! The sled dog and musher’s camp had over 300 dogs with each one having its own little dog house. These dogs were there to train to run in dog sled races.  Some races stretch over a 1,000 miles. Absolutely incredible. The dogs get anxious every time a van pulls up to the site because they knew that it may be an opportunity for them to pull the cart and get to run. Ray and I both agreed it was one of the most incredible experiences we’ve had. After the 1-mile run pulled by about 16 dogs, with a cart of about 7 people, we even had a chance to play with some of the pups.  SO MUCH FUNNNNNN!!!

This trip was incredible.  On the morning of the 24th, we disembarked in Whittier, Alaska and took a bus to the airport.  I think this was one of the best vacations we have ever been on so far.