Costa Rica with Savanna

Savanna and I came back from Costa Rica late on Tuesday night last week. We came back with some coffee and chocolate in our suitcase. But I also came back with a load of great memories of hanging out with this little human.

We stayed at a B&B owned by an older couple. The house was designed by the husband, the garden designed by the wife, situated on their family’s coffee plantation. We were surrounded by greenery. They  had two dogs and two cats, which is the equivalent of heaven for Savanna.

We were fed amazing fresh mangoes, juice from their own orange trees, and locally made cheese every morning. We went to the local farmers market to get fresh produce, drank coconut juice, and ate watermelon. When the monsoon rain started in the afternoon, we would stay in and do puzzles, coloring books, play with the host’s grandson’s toys. We took one cocoa farm tour where we gorged on chocolates made from the farm’s own cocoa fruit, and drank hot chocolate from freshly ground cocoa nibs.

In general, we spent a ton of time together enjoying each other’s company. I tried hard to savour every minute of time spent with Savanna, and memorize her still-baby’ish cheeks. I know how fast this time goes by, and I am in such denial that she’s going to kindergarten in September.Angela Chang Photography Costa Rica San Jose trip

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The house we stayed at

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Farmers market

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A fresh bean. My first time seeing one.

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Giant papaya

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Freshly made tortilla

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Savanna spent lots of time playing in the yard with branches and twigs.

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We did hours of coloring and puzzles.

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Churro filled with caramel. I ate most of it.

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Oranges that are great for juicing after they ripen. The smell of the orange flowers is a.m.a.z.i.n.g.

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Savanna collected walnuts in the yard

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On the cocoa farm tour, Savanna got to crack open a cocoa fruit.

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This is what the inside of the cocoa fruit looks like.

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Dried cocoa beans.

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Once dried, the cocoa beans are roasted to intensify the flavour.

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Then you crack the shells open.

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Grind up the cocoa nibs, make hot chocolate, and give it all to Angela.

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This is a story for another day. It’s a story about how I turned a 2-hour drive into a 5-hour drive on the twisty-est and rainy-est mountain roads in Costa Rica.

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And this is how patient this kid is about her mother’s ability to mess up the Google map directions.

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I am totally crazy about this little human being, and absolutely in love with her.

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Every morning, the sweetest and juiciest mango greets us.

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A stroll on the coffee planation with the B&B host.

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Savanna said, “Look Mommy, I found a heart!”

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Sherry

Sherry in Morocco-1I just know that Sherry is going to be horrified that I’m writing a blog post about her. She’s got this weird allergy to attention. (Don’t worry, Sher, I won’t post any incriminating photos.)

Why a post about this woman? Because she came to Morocco with Savanna and I, AND we are still friends. That means she is a superwoman. I have serious respect for her.

I knew Sherry is easy going and fun and all, but I was still a little worried before the trip. As a parent, I don’t expect anyone without kids to understand the absolute shit that kids put you through–the temper tantrums when you put the sock on their left foot first instead of the right foot, or the tears when you give them the fork that isn’t the right color, or the demand to watch Ice Age 3 for the thirty-seventh time on a trip, or taking up most of the space in a big bed with their tiny little bodies. Parents, you know what I’m sayin, right?

I was bracing myself for the risk of turning Sherry off of kids for the rest of her life. That would really be a shame.

It was magical to watch Savanna fall in love with Sherry. Even before our flight took off, Sherry had let Savanna put vegetable stickers all over her arms. Those two played pretending to eat soup for hours in Marrakech. When we were sitting in a warm train compartment, Sherry fanned Savanna to keep her cool. She played hide and seek with Savanna, did her make-up, braided her hair, and held her when she was tired. She did all this without me asking her to. Savanna loved walking down the street holding Sherry’s hand, and slept like a baby squeezed right up against Sherry. Before our flight home, Savanna said to me, “Sherry is my new sister.”

I was ok with doing less and seeing less on this trip because of Savanna. I chose to take her on the trip and I was willing. I didn’t expect Sherry to. But through the 10 days we spent together, she was never once upset about skipping a beat; not even a hint of impatience when I was slow or when Savanna needed some time to deal with her feelings. Because of her calm demeanor, she even prevented me from chewing someone’s head off when I was hangry.

As a parent, I am so grateful for her love for my child. As a friend, I am so grateful for her steadfast, upbeat, and adventurous attitude. The trip definitely would not have been the same without her.

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Because camels are super cool

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(drawn by the super talented dude I married)

10 years ago, when I turned 30, I wanted to do something big to celebrate a new decade. I rode my motorcycle solo from Vancouver to Halifax, camping along the way and eating meals out of my camping stove.

10 years later, things look dramatically different at home. Josh is 5 1/2 and Savanna is 3 1/2. I can’t justify taking off for 2 weeks by myself. The truth is, I don’t think I would do that ride again. I was dog tired last time after 6,200 km, and I was a lot younger then.

My craving for interesting travel never stopped. I feel like this is the right time now to start doing some more interesting things again, involving the kids. Unfortunately, Cliff has to work, and Josh has school. That leaves Savanna and I to plan a girls’ trip on our own.

Savanna and I have agreed that riding on a camel in Morocco would be pretty interesting. We also convinced Sherry that camels are super cool, so she’s coming too to check things out.

I’ll report back in two weeks and let you know if camels are in fact super cool.

Road trip to Kelowna

I had to go to Kelowna for work earlier this week, so we decided to take the whole family on a road trip to Kelowna. The last time I hung out in Kelowna was over 10 years ago. This time it was so much fun to bring the kids. We took the kids peach and plum picking, visited the kangaroo farm, and played at the beach.

Josh getting ready to pick peaches.

Josh getting ready to pick peaches.

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Savanna getting ready to pick fruit.

Savanna getting ready to pick fruit.

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She ate more plums than her body weight.

She ate more plums than her body weight.

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Do you see the arm of the little joey hanging out of the wallaby's pouch?

Do you see the arm of the little joey hanging out of the wallaby’s pouch?

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Hanging out with a kangaroo

Hanging out with a kangaroo

Feeding goats

Feeding goats

Tokyo cycling tour

The last time we went to Tokyo, I was pregnant with Savanna and feeling very sick and miserable. There were certain things I enjoyed about Tokyo, but mostly I felt tired and ill. So we thought we’d try it again this year. And this time, I wanted to do something a little different.

One day, I googled “tokyo cycling tour” just to see what would pop up. Luckily for me, I found a company called “Tokyo Great Cycling Tour“. We booked their “Tokyo Bay Ride” tour, which is a 6-hour tour that takes you around Tokyo bay and over many bridges.

We booked two bikes for Cliff and I, and also a trailer to haul the kids. Thank goodness they hooked up the trailer to Cliff’s bike, because I am pretty sure I couldn’t have hauled both kids through the entire tour.

We have this same trailer at home, and we’re used to seeing this set-up in Vancouver. But in Tokyo this is a rare sight. So every pedestrian points to Cliff pulling the kids and comment on how cute it is (“kawaeeeee”, they’d say).

The tour overs 23 km of riding, which isn’t difficult. Most of the terrain was fairly flat except for when we go up the bridges. Still, there were enough sight seeing breaks that you never feel like you’re peddling forever. For 10 of us, there were 2 guides (Henna and Su). We stopped often while they explained history and new developments in the city to us.

These ladies were top notch with their services. They had a big book of pictures and timelines to help with explaining history, they pulled out ice cream filled puffs to feed us, they constantly filled our water bottles with icy cold water, they brought fish food so our kids can feed the fish in the ponds, they handed out homemade ginger ale, they bought us ice cream at the park, and ended the day with beer and snacks in their office. They were so attentive and considerate. They are the examples of what customer service is.

I would totally go back and do this again in a heart beat!

Welcome

Welcome

Getting ready to ride

Getting ready to ride

First stop on a bridge

First stop on a bridge

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Stopping at the fish market to get fresh tuna

Stopping at the fish market to get fresh tuna

Delicious, melt-in-your-mouth, tuna sashimi

Delicious, melt-in-your-mouth, tuna sashimi

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Ice cream puffs

Ice cream puffs

Somebody was a little tired

Somebody was a little tired

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Lunch break at the beach

Lunch break at the beach

Picnic lunch

Picnic lunch

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Boat ride over the bay

Boat ride over the bay

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Graveyard for babies :(

Graveyard for babies 😦

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Tokyo Tower

Tokyo Tower

She slept through this stop and missed ice cream.

She slept through this stop and missed ice cream.

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A very satisfied customer

A very satisfied customer

 

Day 43/365 {packing}

Angela Chang Photography Day 43 of 365

 

I used to pity parents at the airport with a gazillion bags, strollers, car seats, and kids running wild on excitement and messed up sleep schedule.  I would turn to Cliff and whisper, this is why we should never have kids.

I hereby apologize to all those parents I pitied. I took a little glimpse of a crazy moment in theirs lives and used that against them.  I had no idea that beyond those crazy moments, there’s so much more joy, love and pride to be experienced by becoming a parent.

So who cares that our kids will be running wild around the airport today, miss their naps, and Cliff and I will be buried under our bags, strollers and car seats?  We’re creating memories with our kids that I will treasure forever.

Settling back in

We now return to our regular programming of being back home in Vancouver.

We’ve been back for 6 days now, and I feel like I’ve lost the battle with the kids’ jet lag.  Savanna is up playing usually from 2 to 6 am.  Joshua randomly cries and screams during this time as well.  If they both happen to dose off, one of them will cry, waking up the other.  I can’t remember how many f bombs I’ve dropped in the last 6 nights.  I’ve yelled at both kids and ended up in tears myself a few times with exhaustion.

If you could all please send sleep vibes to my kids, I’d really appreciate it!

It’s always interesting to go away for a period of time.  When we come home, I can see clearly how much the kids have grown.  Savanna’s cloth diaper now must be buttoned with a space apart because she has gotten bigger.  She sprouted a tooth with a second one following closely behind.  Joshua has put on 2 pounds while we were away.  Both kids seem longer in their beds.

It was so nice to get Sammy back.  I’ve really missed him.  He always fits easily and quietly back into our lives after we’ve been away.  Sam is a constant and a calming spirit when the rest of the household is going crazy with sleep deprivation.

Getting right back to digging in his favorite sandpit.

Getting right back to digging in his favorite sandpit.

See the tooth?

See the tooth?

My old boy.

My old boy.