Travel: first time traveling as family of 4

We went for a first family trip to Boston for 3 days and it was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!!!! Everything was perfect! I couldn’t have asked for more.

We were invited to spend Thanksgiving at Carmen’s in October and were excited since then. But since it was going to be our first time traveling with both girls, Lizzy being still young, flying with Lizzy, and most challenging return road trip, I had my doubts on whether we would enjoy it as much. However, I was determined to embrace the challenge and go with the flow.

Our flight was early at 6:30am. So I woke both girls around 4:15am after I finished pumping. We took a cab with all our luggage (2 carseats, 1 stroller, 2 suitcases and 3 bags) at 4:45am and arrived airport at 6:20am. Lizzy was very curious about what was going on but didn’t complain at all that we woke her up early.

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I was worried about naps for Lizzy because she has never napped outside her crib or swing. Even when we go out for a walk with her, she’d never nap, not even in the car seat. But by 7:45am, she was ready. Tony hold her until she was almost asleep, and I put her down on the seat besides me. She napped for a good 40 min, woke up just before landing.

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Sofia was super excited too. We’ve been talking about the Boston trip for weeks. She was even willing to stay all night up to not miss the departure. By the time we got to the cab, she was ready to take a cat nap.

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then we arrived the castle. It’s an old house built on 1876, renovated at 1905 and after Carmen bought it.

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we settled in our rooms (one for Sofia called princess room, one for Lizzy with her pack n play and one for me and Tony). Then we spent the day catching up with Carmen and Vincent. It was really nice to be chatting with one of the smartest couple in the world! 🙂

Vincent was in charge of the turkey (i forgot to take a pic) and Carmen had prepared the sides dishes the day before. By 5pm, we were ready for the feast. We had mash potatoes, sweet potato casserole, glazed carrots, stuffing and the most delicious mushroom cooked in sherry. We also had homemade buns and flan for dessert. Everything was scrumptious!!!

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After dinner, we put Lizzy into bed and got ready for a movie at home theater.

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Then I took a long quiet bath before sleep. We all slept very soundly that night.

Next morning, Lizzy woke up around 7:30am and came to our bed.

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she was soon happy.

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after breakfast (homemade waffles), we went to explore the city. We had plan to go first to Harvard then to downtown. But it was raining and cold, so after the tour at harvard, we decided to cut our tour short.

Lizzy followed her usual schedule of napping 2-3 hours so Tony and I got to play pool when Sofia went to nap too.

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it was fun to beat Tony for 2 matches 😉

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that evening, Vincent prepared another great meal for us. Meat in sour broth, marinated for 4 days. He served it with pasta and turnip. As dessert, we had a messy cake. Once again, everything delicious. I went for seconds.

Saturday morning started with a gorgeous breakfast spread. Vincent made fresh baked scones, served with assorted jams and butter.

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we all loved the food and last chats with Carmen and Vincent.

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then Tony went to get the rental car. We departed at 10:45am. After fueling gas, we were ready for our road trip adventure. We stopped 4-5 times for toilet stops and feed Lizzy. She behaved extremely well. Basically she ate and slept. Except once she refused to be sitting in the carseat and cried for 20 min before I had to jump to the backseat, fed her, hold her and played with her. Sofia behaved even better. She didn’t complain about the long ride. She was happily eating chocolate cookies and donuts (sigh… you do whatever you have to do to keep everybody happy). Excited when we stopped and felt asleep for naps.  Tony was the main driver. I drove few times, the longest one for 1.5 hours. It was actually not too bad when both of us could drive. We both wanted to drive more so the other could rest. That’s love without saying the word.

Although I enjoyed a lot seeing Carmen and Vincent this time, the most enjoyable part of the trip is I feel closer to my family. We took care of each other. Tony was the man of the family, carrying things, setting up everything ready for us, and took care of the girls more than I could ask for. It made me love him even more because his figure as the man of the family consolidated even more with this trip. I know I can rely on him. I know we will be taken care of. I know how much he loves us, all of us. 🙂

After this trip, I’m more confident to travel again with the girls. It’s really not that hard as long as one takes it easy, be prepared and not stress about small things. I remember taking all many more stuffs when I traveled with Sofia first time with my mom going to Hawaii when Sofia was 10 months old. We even took bathtub. But this time, we only packed essentials: clothes, diaper, wipes, bibs, baby spoon, packaged food and oatmeal. Feeding was easy, just mixed packet fruit/veggie puree with oatmeal and food was ready. Tony would hold her while I feed her, quick and easy.

can’t wait for our next trip! 🙂

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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’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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My first running trophy!!!

We had an amazing day on Sunday because someone won a trophy!!!

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I had signed up for the Birthday Bash 5K few weeks ago as part of my half marathon training plan.  I haven’t participated in a race for over 6 years so I was a bit nervous and excited. Tony and Sofia woke up early with me and we went out together.

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To my surprise, there were over 500 people in this family run (1k and 100 m were available too)

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I lined up at 9-10 min/mile pace and went off. I have warned up few minutes before the race because I find myself always struggling in the first mile or so.

Mile 1 started with a downhill so I picked up the pace and went fairy fast (8:45 min/mi). I felt good, I felt extremely good for such a fast pace but I told myself not to go faster because I could run off the stamina too early.

Mile 2: I still felt fine and confident, passing through runners all the way. I knew I was still going faster than my normal pace but I felt confident that I still have a lot of energy. My last 5k race time was over 28 minutes so I mentally calculated that if I kept up with that pace, I would PR. Woo!!! that sounds exciting! So I should keep up.

Mile 3: downhill and uphill. The course is really nice. Although it was sunny and hot, my hat protected me and I didn’t feel too heated. To distract myself, I counted how many runners I pass. 7 on mile 3! 😉 I got a bit tired with the fast pace so I slow down a bit to around 9 min/mi until 2.9 miles. Then I press the accelerator and gave all I had left until the finish line. I was looking for Sofia and Tony, and there there were, waiting for me! What a great feeling to have my loved ones waiting for me at the finish line!!!!

While I run, Sofia and Tony had fun at the photo booth.

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Surprisingly, for such a small race there were many vendors. We got cupcake, ice creams, banana, sample juices, ice crush, popcorns and free cartoon.

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we got a family portrait

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we loved it!!!

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My chip time was 26 min. I didn’t think too much of it but my friend told me that I placed 29th among female runners. Woo!!! That sounds great! But then when I went to take a picture of the final results, I saw that I placed 3rd on my age group! Woo! Even better! We were going to get a trophy!!! That’s INCREDIBLE!

Sofia went with me to take it

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She was beyond excited too! She told me that she wanted to run! Oh… baby… run with mama next year!

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when we came home, someone was up and waiting for us

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to celebrate even more, we had a great BBQ (korean baby ribs, spicy sausage, chicken leg, asparagus, corn and salad).

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What a wonderful Sunday! It was Sofia and Tony’s first time to see me running a race. Their presence made it so special. Just for the feeling of crossing the finish line knowing that they’re cheering and waiting for me, I’ll keep running and racing because that feeling is priceless!!! 😀

Christmas dinner & Birthday cake

We hosted a Christmas Eve dinner and it turned out a great success.

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I was in charge of the cooking as usual

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first time making roasted beef, a 3 hrs adventure.

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Tony was in charge of the cutting and testing 😉

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all ready for the guests to arrive

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green salad with beets, corn, spicy nuts and balsamic dressing

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roasted turnip and carrots as side dish for the main course

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corn empanadas as appetizer

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and pearl couscous as side

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We all loved how the roasted beef turn out, so tasty and tender. I’d definitely make it again next year.

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dessert was an upside down pear cake

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my first course

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second course

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and dessert

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my guests were also excited for the food

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After everyone left, it was time for pics and gifts

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we were all surprised by what secret santa brought us! 🙂

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it was a great Christmas Eve. Great company, great food and great spirit! 🙂 Shall be repeated.

The next day we celebrated my 35th birthday, a low key one, we ate leftovers during the day and noodles at night. But there was a cake and candle

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having Sofia, Tony and great friend to celebrate it with me was the best part

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The house was filled with LOVE and HAPPINESS!!!

Married!!!

On Tuesday, 10/27/2015, we are officially married!!!

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It was a heck of a run. I found a celebrant who could go back to the court after the ceremony so we got the marriage certificate the same day! 🙂 He is a really nice old man, who really enjoys knowing the story of the couples, and share the happiness of new couples. He asked us to tell each other why we are marrying each other, in our own language. I think it’s important to keep that in mind for the years/decades to come. Life will get busier, we will argue, we will get mad at each other, we might even want to give up, but we should always revisit this day, the day we promised to each other to love with all our heart, and remind us the reason we decided to live ever after.

After the ceremony, we went to have lunch at Old Angler’s Inn, one of my favorite restaurant in the area.

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I had asparagus with prosciutto as appetizer

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Tony had lobster cocktail

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Tony had beef as entree

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and I had sea scallop… so yummy~

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this will be a special place for us.. we will revisit at least once a year.

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The rest of the week was spent between playing with little Sofia

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celebrate halloween at school with her

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on the day of Halloween, we carved pumpkins

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not an easy job.. but Tony did great for his first time

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how cute!

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in the afternoon, we went to the mall

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there was trick and treat in most of the stores

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Sofia was so happy collecting candies/chocolates

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I made pumpkin pie for the occasion

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and then the night came, we lighted up the pumpkins

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after dinner, Tony took Sofia to go for trick or treat.. and came back with a full bag of treats

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on Sunday we had Japanese steak meal.. .with show and everything

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Sofia was so focused ….

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and the food was quite nice too.

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lastly, Sofia started to play soccer with Tony overnight…

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that’s my girl! 😉

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later…. need to finish packing for our trip to China… leaving tomorrow!!! So exciting!!!

Sofia’s 3 yrs birthday party!

Happy birthday to my lovely baby!!! I can’t believe she turned 3 yesterday. She amazed me that at 3, she’s a fully articulated, thoughtful, smart girl! Even her teachers say that although she’s the youngest in class, she knows everything, so meticulous with her things, so precise when she speaks. 🙂

We had two celebrations this year. One at school on Friday. I made cupcakes for them, my first time making them. They didn’t turn out as pretty as store-bought, but good enough to show my dedication and love.

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we arrived after they got up from nap, the class was already decorated for the occasion.

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we wanted to take pics with the birthday girl, but she was so focused on the icing

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we song birthday song in english, french and chinese

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although Sofia was quiet all the time, I know she’s enjoying the moment

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grandparents planned their trip to China to be able to celebrate with her

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then on Saturday, 9/26, we host a big party at home, over 40 friends accompanied us

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I’ve been preparing the food for days… and left the hardest project for last. For the past two years, I’ve ordered the cake, but this year and all coming years, I want to make the cake for Sofia, a tradition that hopefully one day she’ll appreciate. This time, I made a four-layers coconut cake, with 4 shades of purple, one of her favorite color. 🙂

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The party starts at 3:30pm so I prepared some finger food for the guests.

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a flourless chocolate cake, so chocolaty, so rich, so addicting! 🙂

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blinis with smoked salmon

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cheese plate

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chips with salsa

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empanadas

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two kinds of moon cakes because the next day was Chinese moon festival. I made one with lotus seed filling

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and one with aduki beans. They were all gone because I had the chance to try one.

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biscottis

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drinks were juices and fruit punch

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Sofia was obsessed with the 3.5 months old Luna… she wanted to hug and hold her. She’s be a great sister.

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more friends came with gifts

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and her best friend at school, Sofia.

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in the middle of the party, we did Piñata! Such a great idea for a crowd of kids desperate for some lollipop 🙂

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after that, every single kid had lollipop none stop!!! The parents must be hating me…

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The adults chat and ate… everyone seemed to be enjoying the party 😀

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some photo posing happened too

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then we did the cake. I decorated the cake with a light purple color… it turned out great! Everyone assumed that I ordered it! 🙂

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once again, while we song birthday, Sofia was too focused on the lollipop

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and her old bestie Smaranda.

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It was the most popular birthday party we’ve had so far. We had a lot of fun!!! Sofia liked it so much that when she woke up the next day, she told me: hacemos fiesta otra vez! (let’s have another party!).

Each year is a milestone, and I truly enjoy preparing every one of these. I am thankful to be the most important person in her life and wish I could bring more happiness into her life. I know as she gets older, this task will get harder and harder, but it also prepares me to be a better mom. 🙂

I love you, my most precious girl in the world! Having you makes me feel I have the world.