Summer fun continues w/Uncle Steve & 2 Karate Kids!

After the trauma of being car-bound with 2 wild rivals (ages 9 and 5) on our super long trip 2 weeks ago, I decided to take the ultimate step of discipline (too much love at home!) and enroll both kids in ATA Martial Arts! They both were very excited going to the trial class and begged to enroll right away!  I think that will be a good place for them to work out, learn self-control, self- defense and build confidence. What's great is that they can both do fun/constructive things together (a bit trickier and not doable in more gender-defined team sports like baseball and ballet....)!

The ATA Martial Arts combine Karate, Tae Kwon Do, and Kung Fu, which is very different from other similar types of martial arts. And they have hundreds of locations in the U.S. (and outside). If we go to Vegas or other places this coming Christmas, the kids can train there too! Very cool (^_^)!

We had a fantastic fun visiting Uncle Steve last weekend too! He bought a really cool professional camera  and started a new hobby in photography! He captured on his photos sweet moments of (and between) the siblings that were too quick for me to ever catch!

This is my camera....you can see the blurriness (^_^)

I was so touched by the beautiful pictures and emotions inspired from the looks on the kids' faces! Thanks for a great time, bro! Keep up the good work, your hidden potential was officially revealed last Saturday!
Sibling love!! Gonna blow this one up to 8 X 10 and put on our wall!

My favorite picture of me this year!

Abbie's eyes were glowing!

I could feel the coldness of the water on Caleb!

Abbie learns to swim from daddy


~ How I Survived our 3500 mile, 14 day AmeriCanda Excursion & Came back in 1 Piece!

Downtown Seattle
Chaos #1
After 14 days of living out of our suitcases in 10 hotels and 3500 miles later, I've come to the conclusion that traveling with kid siblings(of any age combination) will be the hardest challenge you will face in your lifetime.

Obtaining 2 B.S. degrees (us), an MBA (hubby), purchasing 3 (and later selling 2) homes, giving birth without epidural (yours truly) and working a combined 25 years in the pharmaceutical/medical device industry seemed like a cake walk compared to our refugee-style Exodus Northbound (while trying to keep the kids from dismembering, scratching and spitting incessantly). 

Sister Vs. Brother
Our dear friends Peter and Linda have also joined us in our "Mission Insanity" (or we joined them) as we planned and executed our plans to go up to San Francisco, Medford/Portland Oregon, Seattle/Samammish Washington, and Vancouver/Victoria Island, Canada. 

Our Friendship deepened as we helped each other in this Exciting Trip!

Chaos #2

As with any family, if there is potential for drama in a family of 4 (8 potential ways to bug the 3 other family members simultaneously), then double the family on the trip and you get 16 ways for sheer chaos (ok, bliss too, but that's 30% of the time).

Precious moments of OUR 4 PRECIOUS babes

Stephy's Great Aunt planted HUGE, sweet Cucumbers!

The relationship of our kids with their Roadtrip Siblings fluctuated back and forth between honey-sweet hugging n' coloring sessions (Abbie and Stephy) to Stop-LOOKing -at-Me!!! blood-curling, ear-piercing shrieks (Abbie vs All kids) to "I'm Bored What do I do?!!!!" mantra + pestering by a 9-yr-old boy with permanent angry face every day,  esp. when his blood sugar dipped (every 2 hours, it seems, and most pronounced at ~5:15pm).  But at the end of the day, they all chat blissfully with one another, just like siblings with biological parents!
A  Happy Caleb at his favorite place on this trip ~
Vancouver night market (Potato Crisps on a stick is yummy)!

The waterfalls in Oregon was spectacular and breathtaking, and was anticipated to be the highlight of hubby's customized Iteinary. Without a doubt, Life succumbs to  Mutphys Law, and as we all hiked and snapped away with our cameras, hubby reluctantly lagged half-mile behind supervising pouting boy who tantrumed.
Boys lagging behind
I don't know how people in the olden days have 6-8 kids and still manage to keep them all alive and reasonably healthy. We had only 4 kid combined and I still can't get their names straight.

Our super limited-in-food-choice Boy only tried what he was familiar with, looked cosmetically appetizing, or is stir-fried and Chinese-food looking, making our food stops even more challenging.

We are thankful that in the hotels we stayed with kitchens, Uncle Peter cooked delicious teriyaki chicken, fresh wild salmon (cooked in 2 sauces) pasta, and other delicious dishes....especially fresh seafood from Pikes market, like Ahi Tuna sashimi! We were definately spoiled!

Salmon cooked 2 styles with Pasta!

Ahi Tuna Sashimi
Chaos #3

Though it was 22% play and 78%  labor (chauffeuring/chasing kids/fumbling thru maps and GPS/loading  unloading suitcases/waiting or looking for lost family members) --- it was indeed the most memorable trip of the decade!

I pat myself (and hubby) on the back that we all came back in 1 piece! Well, come to thunk of it, Caleb lost some skin when he missed a step and landed face down on the hotel doormat (which had the texture of a toilet brush).

Walking in the rain at Seattle Hatchery was fun for Caleb!

However, with TLC and faithful application of Neosporin and Cetaphil cream by hubby, and professional medical exam by our 3rd set of traveling pals, Wayne and family, Caleb got the ok to party on!
Big Group picture at Craigshorn Castle, Victoria Canada

Good thing that boy's face scarred and peeled off nicely by day 14 of the trip (though lil' sis re-scratched the scar after boy teased her in the car on day 10), so luckily we saved big bucks on scar beautification procedure for our boy (and you are most welcome, future wife!)

Outside 40 degree Underground Cave, Oregon
Chaos #4

It was a blessing to visit my cousin Amy and her family, after 13.5 years (and 5 kids later, between both if us). Cousin Amy lives by Sammamish Lake, and tall, majestic trees, trails, and lake (Beaver) surrounded us when we took her cute Jindo dog 'Yuni' for a nice walk out in the woods.

After hanging out at cousin Amy's lovely pad for 2 days, hubby was tempted to retire in Washington, AND getting a Japanese dog (Jindo/Shiba Inu types). The disclaimer of Seattle-living holds true, however...   It does take getting used to....living in cloud-covered gloomy-foggy wet-rainy conditions for prolonged days. Even my 5-yr-old and aforementioned canine niece spends 90% of her waking hours lounging sideways with closed eyes. We are happy to report she is now anxiety med free, since Seattle man and beast face the same sun (and seretonin)-lacking crisis.

I think Cousin Amy must have raided her local Trader Joes and Kirkland Costco, because the delicacies and homemade entrees and desserts could've fed 3 Chinese tour buses, or the 5,000 in Jesus' days, as a matter of fact. We felt super blessed by the warm reception, walks, talks, and meals we all shared together.

All things considered, it wad worth the hair-pulling, headache-inducing, torture-by-whining-3500 mile trip. We stayed in every hotel about 10 hours, including sack time. The kids ebbed in and out of harmony and division, whining and laughing. Most precious is the beauty we've experienced along the way - in the majestic nature before us, and in the hearts of those traveling with us and those we visited. Thank you for everything my dears!! The  Lord bless and keep you until we meet again!

~ Flying Back in Time ~

The date was July 1988, and big bro Daniel and I were sent by dear mama on a vacation to Seattle and Vancouver/Victoria Island! I was going into the 8th grade, and big bro into 12th. He took this picture for me at Sunken Garden in Buchardt Garden!

Here's Soph at 13.5 years of age!
I brought this picture so I can find the same spot on this trip....and take a picture of myself in the exact same spot....23 years later!

It didn't work exactly as planned at first, since Abbie did her best to take a pix of me from way up there!

An elderly lady saw us and decided she will take the pix...for both of us!! Here I am at 36.5 yrs old!
I told Abbie, "One Day, Bring Your Daughter or son to the same spot and take a picture here too!"

The Final Chaos (or "Saving the Worst for Last")

Our beeline journey from Seattle to Sacramento (750 miles) in 1 day proved more painful than I had originally envisioned. It didn't help that the kids were already shrieking, spitting and scratching each other and this all happening just 5 minutes into the 22 hour jouney home (at the freeway entrance).

Then by hour 2, Abbie was melting down and crying over big brother's singing (pig butchering) voice and screamed for him to not sing "her song". By the time we reached Oregon/Wa border, I was considering jumping onto a flight from SF to John Wayne airport and abandoning our zoo on wheels.

Cute, bold, begging raccoon in Seattle Beach fronts

Traveling with kids, esp. long rides and lots of walking (more than 15 min., by their standards) are not feats for the faint-hearted. One fixed on punctuality and control is not adviced to attempt the aforementioned activity as it is potentially (and in reality) hazardous to your (mental and physical) health and causes unwanted neurosis. 

Two fruits NOT mentioned in the book of Galatians that beared inevitably were the Fruits of Flexibility and Fruits of Forgiveness.

Super-Charged Iterinary for the past 14.5 days!

Every 3 minutes, someone will annoy, cross, bite, scream, or throw something at someone else. You have no choice but to stick it out 'cuz there's no way to get out of it (^_^).  We were tempted to put Abbie on eBay (buy it NOW!!) and throw out the misleading GPS  when the girl destroyed the car DVD player in a moment of rage.
Abbie loves taking pictures of Queen Victoria and Duke Impersonators

Hubby contamplating the meaning of life ~ in front of Victoria Parliament bldg

I have begun to admire Moses deeply for not leaving a single whiny Israelite behind after 40 years of complaining (about food choices, weather, traveling companions, lack of entertainment, etc.) but merely tap the rock a tad more forcefully than instructed. I realized still have tons to learn from him !

So Beautiful here! Love the trees and Swinging bridge!

As I type on my iPhone now (July 16th ~9 am), my kindergarten graduate is screaming at the top of her lungs unwilling to stop her tirade. We, however, need to keep driving another grueling 7 hours until we arrive home. Truly, only with Gods supernatural grace and strength, can we stand firm and march forward boldly in our marriage and parenting adventure!

23 years later, I return with a hubby and 2 kids! (Kisses at Abbie's request)

Post Scriptus: On this trip, we've entered 40 degree F caves, crossed super narrow/fragile swinging bridges, hiked up waterfalls and braved freezing top deck of ferries. All these are metaphors of the seasons and challenges we face or will soon face in life (single, married or parenting). Just when we feel like we cannot bear it a minute longer, the tour, hike, ride or trip.... Is Over!  Parenting young kids is the same too, though at times it feels like an eternity!

Seattle Renaissance ~ Free Breakfast in Bed !!

Going down the elevator in Seattle Downtown Renaissance hotel, the kids were fighting over elevator button "L" as I nodded apologetically to the lady sandwiched between the kids and me. She smiled sympathetically and said,"My kids are 14 and 12...and they still do the exact something!" I said, "Woh! I thought we were almost out of the woods!"

Rainbows en route to Sacramento from Seattle

But when I pondered and counted Caleb's birth year, I realized he only has 8 yrs left in captivity (I meant, in our care)! Then, like the baby orangoutangs and elephants we saw in the IMAX 3D movie in Seattle Science Center....he (and soon sister) will be released into the world.

This blue jay waited 1.5 hours for a tidbit from our picnic

They will grow wings, then sprout roots to raise their own offsprings before our eyes! Like the IMAX movie....they were "Born to be Wild", and will one day enter society too! 

This squirrel enjoys a peanut from the kids

The  trouts, salmons and cohos in the hatchery were inspiring to behold....working hard to 'fly' and jump up the fish ladder in order to spawn their eggs. All of them had scars and scratches from their hundred mile journeys back home to spawn their eggs, then rest in peace soon after! I admire their courage and determination, and pray that we too, will do our best to rear future generations the same way.

Trouts at Oregon Fish Hatchery

So we only have a limited time to model all the good stuff and not mess them up too much while under our roof   :0) So let us all "Add Oil" and keep pressing on doing what we are called to do, with God's help!

Our Bat Kids

Bon Voyage and hope that this helped (or discouraged/delayed) you as you plan your well-routed or spontaneous cross-country road trips. No matter how you plan....as in a wedding ceremony.....something interesting/unexpected will always happen! Thanks for Reading and Happy Summer!

African Daisy at Buchardt Garden