January 2015

For 5 years, I’ve celebrated my birthdays with my birthday brother, Nathan.  We’ve had adult dinners out, BBQ’s and quiet cake afternoons.  But when he brought up the topic a month early, at Hazel’s birthday, I knew this was the year we were going big.  We talked about a 3-course meal, or renting out a local venue for the event, but the invite list grew and grew, and we settled on the beach as a perfect venue for our combined 69th year.  Each family brought something to share, we made cake galore, and had a feast better than any restaurant could provide.  We ran games on the beach, and packed everything up at sunset, making for an easy early night.  I won’t forget this one for a long time.



Miles had has birthday planned out to the minute.  It fell on a Friday, and he specified exactly what was going to happen (see below, as dictated on 11 Jan).  So, we followed his wishes and he had a great day!


First, a birthday party at school. A yogurt cake, apples and one candy per child.  No plastic goodie bags, Miles said.

After school, Tim brought a van and picked up Miles and his close buddies.  They came straight to our house for a parent-free party!  We made pizzas and fruit kebabs, played little legos and dancing statues, and opened presents.  Then came the real cake.  The parents were mostly on time and the kids had a blast!

And a big Aumph! (Chocolate with coconut)


Miles relaxed at his yoga class, then we drove up to the beach for his final request.  Dinner at The Ship (“best steak in town”).

It was a perfect birthday for the birthday boy.

He’s FIVE folks.  This is Miles’ last baby post.  He’s a little kid now.20150123-IMG_2195

And here’s what that looks like:

  • Planning, scheming.  Miles is not one to stumble along and follow the leader.  He needs to know what the plan is, influence it if he can, and keep everyone on track.
  • Time and Dates.  He’s got a calendar and a digital watch, and can read an analog clock to the half hour.  If we’re going somewhere, we’re going to be on time.
  • Follow the Rules.  Miles likes to know the rules and follow them.  “Did you park in the lines, momma?” after one too many parking tickets for his liking.
  • Rough and Tumble Play.  Jumping down, wrestling, cannonballs into the water, climbing trees and getting as dirty as possible.  This is definitely the way to have fun.
  • Reader.  While Miles is not reading quite yet, he does have a deep love of books and enjoys being read to on many subjects.  We’re in the middle of the BFG right now, and he loves his science books “How things Work” and anything on planets and outer space.  He can also stare at a map for quite a while.  Gotta know where you’re going.
  • Helper.  Its amazing to me how much of a help Miles can be now, eager to help out in lots of little tasks, especially if its something new.
  • Proud of him.  At 5, I can definitely say I am proud of the little boy we raised.  He can make new friends and take good care of the little guy as well as he can hold a dinner conversation with a 60 yr old lady.  He loves stories and tall tales, is creative and intelligent.  My heart bursts for him, and I look forward to every day in his future.

Love you little Bugsy!

Saigon.  Saigon sans children.  Sigh.

Tim and I departed for our couple’s weekend away on New Years Day.  We’ve been good about sneaking away each year without the kids, so 2015 got taken care of quick!  Grandma Linda settled in for a lot of grandkid time.  They had a fabulous weekend, and we did too.  Tim and I had each been to Saigon before, 13 and 15 years previous, and loved it.  We were worried some of the magic would have worn away, but found it to be just as charming and wonderful as we we remembered, with a bit less of the backpacker feel.

Saigon is a quick 4 hour journey from Penang, and even with a noon departure, it wasn’t even dark by the time we arrived, got our visas and checked into our hotel.  We headed out for drinks and food, two things which dominated our 3 days in Vietnam.  The food was magnificent.  Each meal.  Spring rolls, noodles, pho, ban mi, salads, seafood, greens and herbs and freshness.  Even the hotel breakfast was delicious.  Coming from an Asian food paradise, this is saying something.  The coffee too, locally grown, was rich and delicious.

So we spent the first day eating, drinking coffee, then eating more than we could have imagined when we went to a cooking class and learned to prepare these amazing foods.  Luckily there was walking to be done as well, and we traipsed all over the city, visiting the War Remnants Museum and learning as much about the US in the 1970s as Vietnam.  We walked, Tim stopping to take photos all the way.  Here’s these guys proving printed news is not dead:

Just the two of us, of course we had to have time time on bikes.


No, no. Not that kind.  Bicycles.

We arranged to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels, taking a boat up the Saigon River, then pedaling through cool rubber plantations and on dirt paths for 30km before arriving at the tunnels.  That night, we attended the AO Show, one of the best live performances we have seen!  A final morning in Saigon, we hired a Cyclo driver to borrow his ride (then hired another cyclo to drive him around behind us).  Tim loved the looks we got cyclo-ing around.

It was time to head home.  We were refreshed, and loved every minute of our holiday.  We even made it home early.

We celebrated Hazel’s turning three on the day, around the pool in a break in the clouds.  She wore her favorite bathing suit, we ate lots of breakfast tacos, and had a sprinkle-spangled cake.  And one happy little birthday girl (seriously, that’s a pretty happy face for Hazel!)20141228-IMG_2224

We’ve had some great New Year’s Celebrations here in Penang, better parties after kids than we did in the years before!  This year was no different, 25 floors up, overlooking the ocean, good friends food and champagne…  2015 is off to a good start!


And just to remind myself, where we were when the clock struck 12 the first of the year each time in Penang:

2011 – The Old Bagan, with Angel & Craig, listening to Roz
2012 – With a 3 day old Hazel, and no baby sitter, Tim stayed home with Miles while Hay and I walked next door for some much deserved champagne and dinner party
2013 – McCalister Mansion (the New Bagan), oval table in a white room with rotating seating
2014 – Also in the paragon, 23 floors up this time, with kids until late.

Hope we bring this kind of celebration home with us!