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Ah, the holidays are over

We’ve had a busy few months and, once again, I’ve let this blog behind in the dust.  I actually really struggle all the time with how to best document our lives as I really truly do see this blog like a journal and I love looking back at it…yet, it’s so hard to keep up.  I sometimes toy around with seeing if I can somehow embed some other microblogging site into here like tumblr or twitter, but I’m not a fan of it being something randomly off in the sidebar…and I just haven’t taken the time to see what I can do to actually embed it into posts.  I could actually use an easier way to upload photos to reflect our lives…and yet still be able to write long journals if I want to.  Anyhow, PM me if you have any ideas to make this easier.  I’m sure there is something out there, I just don’t have the time to figure it all out.

THANKSGIVING!
Anyhoo—first up: Thanksgiving!  We actually stayed home this year since my parents headed over to SE Asia for a tour with friends.  We haven’t done that in years so we were looking forward to just chilling at home for awhile.  My brother, Aaron, came out to visit for the week and it was his first time meeting Andrew so that was a special treat!  We tried when we could to go out and have some nice meals since Aaron loves a good culinary experience…otherwise, it was a lot of chilling out with the kids being able to play with Aaron.  The best way to see how the visit went is by checking out his photos from that week as he takes A TON of pictures that are pretty excellent with his lil Sony camera. 

NEW BACKYARD!
Over the course of Thanksgiving, we had a huge backyard remodel done.  I wish I had a good picture of the “Before” but just imagine a really terrible, narrow, weed-filled boring backyard with a major slope that both went across the length of the house and towards the house.  All we had was a boring small wood deck that was only big enough for a very small couch and chair.  Anyway, we finally decided to do something about it, and just before my maternity leave ended, I met with some landscape designers and came up with a plan to put in a retaining wall, level the upper yard and add a stone patio.  We didn’t to mow anything and wanted it to be low maintenance.  That was our primary goal…in the end, our budget allowed for some simple steps to go into the lower yard and for some playchips to be added to create a kids play area.  I’m really looking forward to getting a sandbox or playhouse to put there.  Here are some pictures.

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I need to add more patio furniture and we want to get some sort of Adirondack chairs to put on the deck.  We now also finally have room to get a nice barbeque on the side and hook it to our gas line!  We are very much looking forward to summer backyard entertaining!

BYE BYE CONDO!
Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I..er…sold the condo!  This was not a planned activity for 2013 and it ended up being a pretty spectacular transaction.  Spectacular in that it was so easy.  In the fall, our tenant gave notice that he was moving out as he had purchased a new house.  In his email, he mentioned the guys next door, who were renting from the unit next door, may be interested in taking over the lease.  So, I sent them an email and they wrote back saying that they were actually interested in buying…and if that I was wanting to sell, they’d be interested! So we went back and forth and agreed on a price.  Then we each got real estate attorneys (mine was free as I have a friend from PEPS that does this for a living) to work everything out.  It was SO EASY.  As a seller, all I had to do:

  • Review the Purchase & Sale agreement
  • Set up Title & Escrow (just call up a Title company of your choice and they do the rest)
  • Be available for the appraisal (usually a 15 minute appointment)
  • Respond to any requests made from the P&S (our buyers waived inspection, so easy peasy)
  • Sign the papers!

That was it.  The paperwork was like 10% of what I’d done in previous sales.  AND, since this was a private sale, I saved thousands of dollars on commission.  Highly highly recommend doing a private sale if it’s an option—since I had a buyer already lined up, it was incredibly easy.  Anyway, the sale was of course bittersweet since I had so many wonderful memories in that condo.

HONG KONG!
Two weeks after Thanksgiving was over, we jumped on an airplane to go to Hong Kong!  Yes, with both kids.  Fortunately, Andrew is still small enough that we we qualified for a bassinet for the flight over and got to sit in the bulkhead seats which had tons of legroom.

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At the time, though, Andrew wasn’t really accustomed to sleeping on a flat surface, much less out of our arms…so we actually spent much of our flying time having to hold him.  The above picture was a rare moment of peace with him sleeping there.

Well, our trip to Hong Kong was unfortunately overshadowed by a major illness.  A couple of days after being there, we started to notice Andrew was sleeping A LOT more than normal.  Remember, this is a baby that never slept more than 2-3 hour stretches…and he was going longer than that.  At first, it seemed related to the jetlag but something just didn’t feel right.  He had a mild fever (as far as babies are concerned) as his temp remained primarily around 99-100 and had a spike or two to 101-102 (which is still nothing alarming for a baby)…but it was his lethargic behavior that rang alarm bells.  Finally, after the urging of my mother, we took him to the emergency room of a public hospital (the private hospital actually turned us away as they didn’t have a pediatrician on call that evening—strange eh?)…and he was diagnosed with Pneumonia and needed to be admitted to the hospital!  Oh boy.  Wasn’t expecting that.  I spent the first night in an awkward room with 6 cribs and 3 other kids that were fighting some sort of lung infection as they were all getting treated with nebulizers.  Poor Andrew had to immediately be given oxygen via nasal prongs (which he was not a fan of) and an IV since he was so weak he was barely feeding.  The next day, the mucus swab result came back indicating the cause:  Respiratory Synctial Virus (RSV).  Ugh.  Because of that, they then moved him to the “isolation ward” since he was contagious.  As scary as that sounds, it was actually nice since we then got to have our own room, restroom, etc. .. but it required us to wear gowns and masks all the time.

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That said, Andrew ended up spending 6 days 6 nights in the hospital, finally being released on Christmas Eve.  We took turns going over to watch him (and after a couple of days spending the night, the nurses told us they could care for him at night, which was nice since there was literally nothing to lay down on as a caretaker aside from uncomfortable metal chairs).  He started to act more like himself after about 3 days, and then after that, they just wanted to watch him and make sure he could maintain his oxygen levels.

So, despite that lil’ trip to the hospital, Hong Kong was great of course.  The best was that my grandmother got to meet Andrew for the first time, and got to catch up with Natalie which she just loved.

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Another highlight was that we went to Disneyland for the first time!  A couple days after Andrew checked out of the hospital, we left him with my parents for the day and gave Natalie some much deserved Natalie time and headed over to Hong Kong Disneyland.  It’s apparently a much smaller Disneyland compared to other locations..but for it being our first trip, it was great.  Natalie absolutely loved seeing Mickey, Minnie, Winnie the Pooh, Daisy, Goofy, Pluto and riding Dumbo.

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One new thing that we haven’t done in awhile was stay at a hotel.  Through the hotel industry hookup of our cousin, Money, we stayed at the Harbour Plaza Metropolis Hotel.  It was such a great experience.  We got two 1-bedroom suites next to each other, both with kitchenettes and with plenty of space.  Best of all, we had an amazing view of the harbour which we’ve never gotten from any of our stays.  It was so nice to wake up and see that and to go to bed seeing the city lights.  A shuttle provided a very quick ride into the heart of Kowloon; otherwise, we were walking distance to the train station and were also connected to a small mall (which was convenient during the time when Andrew  was in the hospital and we weren’t in the mood to venture out too much, so the mall food court sufficed for dinners)

View from our hotel room

Of course, just like with Thanksgiving, Aaron took a ton of really great photos while we were in Hong Kong so I recommend going over to Flickr to check them out—- either Hong Kong Selects or you can see all 3,000+ photos here.  He really captured a lot of the goofiness of Natalie since he spent so much time with her.

Posted in travel.


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