Travel: Salvador, Brazil

I travelled to Salvador, the state of Bahia in Brazil last week for work. It was my second trip to Brazil but first time in Bahia.

I was super excited for this trip because I haven’t traveled for work since July last year. So it was nice to travel and have sometime alone. I think all moms feel the same way no matter how much we love our kids.

One mini incident was that my checked luggage didn’t arrive with me. I was supposed to take the luggage out at Sao Paolo, but the united agent told me that it was checked all the way to Bahia. So I didn’t have my luggage for a day. Fortunately I was prepared for it and had all the pumping equipment with me. Lesson learned, have all the necessities in carry-on.

We stayed at Mercure Rio Vermello hotel, with a small beach. This is the view from the gym when I logged my runs.

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the hotel was just okay. The room was small and basic. The food was average but the view was amazing.

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I always have egg omelets, fruits and toasts with butter for breakfast.

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but tried local food as well: this is a coconut tapioca porridge

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a tapioca flour pancake. I had ham and cheese as filling.

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then cheese bread.

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It was a privilege to work by the infinity pool. Such a relaxing view.

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Local food is mainly seafood. So I had plenty of them. this one is a seafood stew cooked with bread.

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on the last day of work, I went to explore the city with colleagues and we had some snacks by the beach

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we had coquettes, one with meat and one with salted bacalao.

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then we had street food for dinner

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this is acaraje, a dish made from peeled beans formed into a ball and then deep-fried in palm oil. Super rich dish.

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and a tapioca pancake

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I had one with cheese, sun dried tomato  and basil. Super super tasty! I loved it, will definitely try to make it soon.

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My flight was scheduled for 4:30pm, so I went to explore the old town called pelourinho. It was the city’s center during the Portuguese colonial period and was named for the whipping post in its central plaza where African slaves received punishment for various infractions, as well as for disciplinary purposes.

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then it was time to go back home. I missed the girls so much.

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Lizzy had fever for 3 days. Tony was super worried because I was not there to tell him what to do. And seeing Lizzy down was heart breaking to him. But fortunately she didn’t seem too bothered as she continued to eat and sleep well, and the fever went away by itself.

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Tony was in charge of giving Lizzy bottle in the early morning (6am) and take Sofia to school.

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but he did so well. I’m so proud of him.

Once I was back Saturday morning, I spent the day unpacking, catching up with the family and in the evening, we took Sofia to a Halloween party at a community center.

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Sofia had fun and came back with a lot of candies.

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on Sunday it was Pumpkin caving time! As usual Tony was in charge.

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Sofia helped to take out the seeds

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and Lizzy was in charge of being CUTE 😀

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we had the idea of putting her in a pumpkin for a long time! We couldn’t find a big enough one to fit her in, so we did some carving and voila!

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and the final product

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final product, thanks to Tony

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it was a busy week. Traveling is always tiring but it was a good getaway for me. It made me realize even more how lucky I am to have the family I have, to have a supportive husband, a helping mom and two lovely girls.

I love my life!

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Lizzy: 6 months

Lizzy turned 6 months this week! Look how much she’s growing.

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We love this new person in our lives so much that we probably takes too many pics and videos everyday. But well… they grow too fast to catch. Need to preserve as long as we can.

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Eating: now that I’m back to work, she takes bottles during the day. Usually I nurse her between 6-6:30am. Then she’d sleep until 8am. She takes 3-4 bottles while I’m away. At 8:30am, 12:30pm, 3:30pm, 5pm sometimes. She’s taking 5-6 oz. each. Right after I come back from work, if her last milk was before 4pm, I’d nurse her few minutes before we have dinner. If not, I’d nurse her before bed around 7pm.

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We started solid with her just few days ago and she’s doing great, she turned from eating anything to just wanting sweet fruit pouches.

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she started to take them in from the start. The first day she had two meals, now she’s taking 2-3 solid a day about 30 min after milk. So far she had kabocha, carrot, sweet potato, peas, potato, lentil, zucchini, pear and avocado. She seems to like thicker consistency such as lentils, kabocha. Somedays she’d open her mouth wide open to take the food, other days she doesn’t want to open. We insist few times, if she doesn’t seem to be interested, we stop. At this stage, it’s more practice than relying food for nutrition.

So after the initial success, she’s now refusing to eat solids unless they’re fruit. She loves peaches and would open mouth wide asking for more. But vegetables? not interested. We started to give her baby oatmeal. The first time she took it well when I mixed it with breast milk, but not sure if she really like it. Need to try more.

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she liked kabocha at first, but not anymore. 😦

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Sleeping: she was a good sleeper since the beginning, sleeping through the night from 2 months and half. But then we regressed a bit and she’d wake up few times a night that I rushed to nurse her. At 5 months mark, I decided to let her cry a bit before running into her room because I know she doesn’t really need to eat and she was probably ready to go back to sleep by herself. And I was right. The first few nights she’d wake up few times but she’d go back to sleep within 15 min. Now at 6 months, she consistently sleep from 7-7:30pm to 6-6:30am, nurse and go back to sleep until 8am again. 

She took naps in the swing until she was 6 months old. We tried 1-2 times to put her in crib for nap, but she had problem falling asleep. We tried again at 6 months and the transition went very smooth. She still naps 2-3 hrs in the morning, then another 2 hours in the afternoon, and maybe a catnap of 45 min in late afternoon.
One curious thing is that Lizzy doesn’t know to sleep when we’re on the road. Even in the stroller, she’d always be awake looking around. Sofia used to nap in the stroller when we go out for a walk, but Lizzy doesn’t.

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Likes:

  • to observe the world in her tummy supported by her hands

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  • she likes us to hold her and make faces to her. She’d laugh so badly.

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  • she likes putting everything in her mouth.

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  • she smiles a lot. Unless she’s in bad mood one day, otherwise she’d be happy all day long.

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  • she loves jamperoo. She can easily stay there jumping for half an hour.

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  • She loves going out too. Starting at 5 months, we’ve been taking her out more often and she has always been so cooperative and quiet. Really easy going.

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  • now that the weather is cooler. Grandma tries to take her out once a day. And over weekend, I try to take her for a walk too. She loves it. She’d sing and move her leg on the ride.

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Dislikes: really not much. She doesn’t fuzz much. If she does it’s usually because she wants to eat or sleep. Otherwise she’s really peaceful. Sometimes she’ll get bored, and if we change the scenario or walk around with her, she’d calm down right away.

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I’m still her favorite person I think. She always try to smile to me when I talk to her, even when it’s not her best day.

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It’s heart warming to see how Tony transitioned to be a father. His love toward Lizzy is devotional. He takes good care of her and is learning to be a father to Sofia. I think that’s because now he really understands what’s to be a father and it’s beautiful to see his transformation.

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Stats at 6 months appointment:

Height: 26 in (52nd)

Weight: 15 lbs 10 oz. (40th)

HC: 16.75 in (59th)

Life lately October – first anniversary

Someone started solids (just few days before Lizzy turned 6 months)

!!! YEY! Let’s the fun begin. First I prepared her rainbow carrots

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then made cooked lentils

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she was curious to explore

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but milk still tasted better

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Grandma has been taking her for walk once a day and she loves it

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And I love taking the girls to the playground on weekends, even nicer when Tony comes along too

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Sunday is my long run day and I love it. First because I get to run with Tony for 2-3 miles, then I’ll have solo run for 5-6 more. When I come back home, Tony already gone with Sofia for her swimming class, which means I get to enjoy peaceful breakfast by myself. Still loving the toast + eggs + cheese + avocado combo

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More birthday parties to attend (2 that weekend)

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Sofia still loves her ballet class

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Last Saturday 10/22 Tony and I went on a date to celebrate our first anniversary. The actual date of anniversary is 10/27, but I’ll be in Brazil that day for work, so we celebrate it the day before I left. It was a gorgeous day

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we went to the French restaurant Chez Francois.. one of my favorite place in VA

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we had the fix menu that started with a fennel soup with a very intense white wine flavor which I really liked

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for appetizer, Tony had mussels

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and I had mushroom crepe (I always have this when I come here)

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for main dish, Tony had the lamb

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and I had the seafood stew, love it

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we both enjoyed a lot the food and each others company. Now with two kids is harder to have time alone as couple, but I’m glad that we both think it’s something important for us to keep our intimacy so we make an extra effort for it to happen.

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sometimes I still find myself amazed by this new life. I could never imagined we would be together, so in love, and with two lovely girls.

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cheers for more years in love to come!!!

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Family: Sofia 4 years old

Sofia turned 4 and I’m still beyond shock how time flies. I still browse her baby pics and those moments are like just yesterday, so vivid.

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But at the same time, I know she’s a big girl already. She knows so well what she wants. She can communicate almost perfectly (with all 3 languages she manages) what she wants, how she feels. Sometimes she talks a bit too much. She can literally talk nonstop since she wakes up, specially when grandma is around. The bound she and grandma has is so unique. Grandma does her morning and evening routines, and takes her to the mall almost every weekend. Those are their things. I’m sure Sofia will remember them for a long time.

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Sleep: Sofia still naps at home (1.5-2 hrs) but she almost never nap at school. She just plays with toys or read books while everyone else naps or do the same. At night, she starts bathing/teeth brushing at 8pm. We read 1-2 books around 8:20pm, and by 8:30pm light is out. In the morning, grandma wakes her up at 7am. On weekends, sometimes she sleeps in until 8am.

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Eating: she eats like a kid. By that I mean she doesn’t eat as good as I wish but not worse than kids at her age. Unfortunately meal time battle is a constant in our house mostly because she eats very slowly, likes talking and playing while eating and always ended up last on the table. She’s not picky in what she eats although she does prefer certain food. She likes fish, noodles, dumplings, mango, watermelon, beets, milk, pan fried eggs with soy sauce, green beans. She started to like meat recently so that’s good. Her breakfast recently has been either yogurt with cereal, milk with cereal or toasts with PB and blue berries goat cheese. For few weeks, she liked oatmeal with PB and honey but hasn’t asked for it for a while. For meals, she eats what we eat. Usually rice with fish/chicken/meat and 1-2 types of veggies (small portion though). Half hour after meal, she’d have fruit as dessert. She snacks at school but not so much when we’re at home on weekends. If I have a snack (nuts/fruit/crackers), then she’ll have some, otherwise she wouldn’t.

She likes:

go to school. They do so many activities (crafts, gym, music, writing, singing, dancing, museum, soccer) Sofia is always excited when we go in the morning, and still wants to play a bit more when we pick her up. She has her favorite friend in the class, another Sofia. They’ve been classmates for 3 years. They are always together in school pics. I hope they continue to be friends for coming years. Friendship is so important for girls.

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ballet. we started during the summer and she loves it so we continued.

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swimming. She’s in Pee Wee Paddler III. She absolutely loves it and looking forward to it every weekend. Tony takes her, so that’s their activity.

go to playground. I take her to playground whenever we have time in weekends. That’s our girl time.

reading. She always asks me to read her. Reading before bed is her treat for the day, she’s so looking forward to it. I need to do more!!!

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play with her friends. whenever we don’t have anything planned for the weekend, I’d arrange play dates with her friends.

dresses. oh mine!!! She wants to put on dress EVERY DAY!!!

do whatever mom does. Now that I’m running, she wants to run too! She goes with Tony to see me racing and says wants to run too. We plan to take her to a race where she can run too.

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watch cartoons. I only allow her to watch on Sundays so she enjoys it so much when she does.

cook with mama. when i was on maternity leave, we did one baking project every weekend. Now that I’m back to work, weekends are hectic, but we need to do more baking together, it’s bounding for us.

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she will like climbing as soon as she tries it. I’m sure. She was so focused seeing me climbing. 🙂

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going to festivals. We went a couple this summer and she had a blast.

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going to watch shows. We went to a concert and twos shows. She love them all.
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Her favorite people:

her mama

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little sister

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she absolutely love Lizzy. She loves playing with her, read her, hold her, give her kisses and hugs. When we go home in the evening, the first thing she does is to wash her hands so she can play with Lizzy. And whenever Lizzy is crying for something, she wants us to give that to her ASAP because she hates seeing Lizzy crying. She’s so protective.

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grandma. I’m not even sure if she loves grandma more or  less than her mama.

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her friend Sofia at school

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Laura

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She dislikes

  • rushing her into eating
  • not having activities on weekends
  • take naps

Reflections:

I’m constantly feeling I’m not a good-enough mom. I should spend more time with her, be more patient with her, and have our special time more often. But life gets busy and if we want to accomplish everything on schedule, I often ended up rushing her. I guess I still need a lot of work to do.

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Next year she’ll start kindergarten, so it’s gonna be a big change for everyone. I hope she enjoys fully her last year at daycare and the innocent childhood without school pressures. These moments are so precious.

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I love you Sofia, so much! I know I don’t show it to you all the time and that I’m very strict with you. But trust me, I love you deeper than you can ever imagine. All I want and do is to give you the best, prepare you for the life journey for happiness and sense of purpose.

Life: catching up & apple picking

After a low-key weekend, our schedule got packed up again last weekend. Well… life of two kids just got interesting.  First few recap of past few weeks

Sofia had a birthday party at her school on her actual birthday (9/26).

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we sing a song, all her classmates gave her either a hug/kiss/good luck, and we had chocolate cake.

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but then the teacher told me she lost the pics of that day so we had another party last week… the teachers brought cupcakes for the kids

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this girl had two chocolate cupcakes with frosting and all.

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Lizzy is loving mama’s milk. She’s taking 6-7 oz. twice a day while I’m at work and could probably take another one if we let her. To save her appetite for when I’m back home, grandma gives her 4-5 oz. instead.

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she’s so happy these days… smiling at us all the time as long as her tummy is full

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oh… she loves exploring with her mouth

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I took Sofia to have dinner with a friend one Friday as “girls’ night out”, she loved it!

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had adult-like meal and finished it all

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she had shrimp with grits and I had sea scallop with corn, mushrooms and spinach. Delicious both of them.

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she behaved really well during dinner time while I chat with my friend

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post running fuel lately: toasts + eggs + goat cheese.

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want to eat this face too!

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I took a Friday off to relax after the weekend of Sofia’s birthday party which left me exhausted. So Tony took Sofia to daycare by taking the metro. Sofia really liked the experience and asked for more.

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Last week’s lunch at work: quinoa + cauliflower/eggplant/zucchini/tofu cooked in tahini/miso/ginger sauce. YUM~

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Weekend activities:

Saturday: Tony and I went to IIF to see my advisor giving a talk. It was really interesting. And meeting with my advisor was even better! I missed her and it was really nice to reconnect. We might visit her in Boston this coming Thanksgiving.

Then I took Sofia to ballet class.  After lunch and nap, we were ready to go to a colleague’s birthday party with my girl

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again she got her face painted in butterflies.

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Sunday started with 10 miles run for me and a swimming class for Sofia. After that, we went to do groceries with grandparents. Lunch, nap, and had friends over to make and eat wonton together.

Monday started with a BIG EVENT, starting solid for Lizzy.

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we introduced kabocha mixed with breast milk.

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she DID great! making funny face and finished 1/4 cup worth of food.

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then we went to apple picking

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first time carrying her and she didn’t complain

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unfortunately the kind of apple we liked (cameo) was out… so we didn’t buy any but we did have a lot of fun. Sofia had fun eating apples on the spot and feeding animals

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My friend Susan also took her family, so it was a nice family trip.

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Loving the pumpkin season!!!

 

Family: Sofia’s 4th birthday party!

Happy birthday my baby!!! We had an amazing party!

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Now that she’s 4, I had to think about activities for the kids other than just running out with her friends. Since we’ll going to have a big crowd, I still wanted to host at home, so I hired a lady who does face painting and balloon twisting. It HIT the spot among the kids!!!

We started the day with nail painting, a long time promise for the special day

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then party started at 4pm!

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we ended up having more than 50 people in the house, so I was really happy that the deck was an attraction with the balloon lady.

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younger kids were happy playing in the play area while parents hang out

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kids had face paint one after the other… without parent intervention, they formed a line

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the second round was balloon twisting with their favorite colors!

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my baby was the princess! 🙂

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we hosted the party on Saturday 9/24 (her birthday is 9/26) so I took Friday off to prepare the food

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green tea magic cake

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Argentinian empanadas

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bite size cheesecake

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aduki bean rice cake

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cheese, hams, nuts and crackers

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apple pie

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biscottis

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we also had fruits, chips with guaca and hummus and puffs. Once again I baked the cake, a lemon cake filled with strawberries and lemon cream cheese frosting. I wanted to make the cake pink (Sofia’s favorite color) and didn’t want to use artificial food coloring, so I used beet juice and it really turned out pink. I was quite pleased with the end result. Cake had the perfect moisture, not too sweet and tint of lemon flavor. I use 1/2 of powder sugar for the frosting so it didn’t turn out too sweet. Almost all the guests finished their piece. That’s a good indication of how it turned out, right? 😉

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Kids had a lot of fun and I truly enjoyed every minute of it from watching kids jumping around excited with their painted-face, chatting with my friends, and simply soaking up another milestone of my baby girl. Although it takes a lot of thoughts, preparation for this moment, it so worth it because Sofia loves parties and more if she’s the center of attention. As long as it makes her a bit happier than she started her day, I’ll keep making it happen!

At 6pm, guests started to leave, and it was gift un-wrapping. Look how excited Sofia was.
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