Good Ol’ Minnesota

Before we make our final move to California, we did a stopover in Minnesota to spend some time with our family. The Mr was with us for about a month while Ittybot and I stayed an additional 2 weeks.

I’d have to say that “crazy” is an understatement. There was a lot on our list of things to do and time was not on our side. The Mr’s side of the family lives in a small town 3 hrs south of the major city that my family lives in, so we had to divide our time between the families while squeezing in a 4 day trip to California to find a place to live.

All the craziness aside, it’s always amazing to see Ittybot interact with his cousins. I’m a little, ok – a lot, behind on our vlogs but when I get around to getting those posted you can just see the glee in his little face! It makes my heart melt. And the little cousins are fantastic with him. They take such great care of him. There is no shortage of love amongst them.

Take a peek at some of the pictures of our time in Minnesota!

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Celebrating Lao New Year in Minneapolis! Location: Bouasavanh in Brooklyn Park, MN
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A relaxing day of food and fishing at the cousin’s house.
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Hanging out on the new pontoon!

PontoonOuting

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We’re moving…AGAIN!

California

I have seriously waited SO long to be able to say this….WE’RE MOVING!!!! Yes, again. This time, we are moving to the west coast…SUNNY CALIFORNIA! *Queue the crowd cheering audio track*

This is been in the works since July 2015. Yes, you read that correctly – JULY 2015. It has been a long time coming and I am ecstatic that it is finally happening. The Mr accepted the position back in January and due to some unforeseen company changes, it stalled our relocation process. All that mess aside, we will be flying out of Amsterdam at the end of March!

Our experience here has been unforgettable to say the least. We traveled the world, raised an infant in a completely new country without any family nearby, and we conquered it all as a strong, cohesive family unit. I cannot even begin to express how thankful I am that I have The Mr in my corner. He is the most understanding and supportive person on the face of the planet. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it 1000x over – I hit the freaking jackpot with this one!!

I can’t say that the past 2.5 years was paved with rose petals. I had many, MANY days where the constant Holland gloomy weather got me down. I struggled with self-identity, battled with pseudo relationships, and dwelled in self-hate. I wish I could say that I conquered them and come out the other side a stronger person. It’s not that sort of storybook ending. The melee is far from over but I will continue to trudge on and kick its A$$.

I’m excited for what California has to offer. I have been doing extensive research on all the places we can take Ittybot and of course all the foodie offerings! We go to bed each night talking about all the fun and exciting things coming our way. We have some serious goals and what the bots have next in the horizon is nothing short of AMAZEBALLS.

I’ll conclude this here and I’m sure you will hear from me again in the near future!

JoopJoop,

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Tips on visiting Big Buddha in Hong Kong!

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When planning our visit to Hong Kong, I was most excited about visiting the Tian Tan Buddha also known as Big Buddha. Big Buddha is 112 ft tall and made of bronze. It is located on the Lantau Island but don’t worry, it is very well connected by ferry and metro.

In my opinion, the best way to get to Big Buddha is the Ngong Ping 360 cable cars. The cable car ride offers unbelievable views of the world below. To go on the standard cable car it costs 165 HKD (21.30 USD) OR you can go on the crystal bottom cable cars for 255 HKD (32.90 USD). Because the line at the station can be quite long, you can also purchase tickets here.

If you’d rather not be suspended up in the air (I completely understand), you can always take the Central Pier 6 ferry to Mui Wo and then hop on the New Lantao Bus 2 to the Ngong Ping Village.

Up until the day we were departing to Hong Kong, we were back and forth about purchasing the cable car rides ahead of time. There is a lot of smog in Hong Kong and I was apprehensive that I wouldn’t be able to see anything if we chose the wrong day. Nevertheless, we decided to go on our first day in Hong Kong to ensure that we didn’t miss out on it due to any unforeseen circumstances. Of course, we didn’t buy the tickets in advance so we had to wait in the long line. It took about 40 minutes to get through the line and worry took over me because the smog was slowly hiding the peaks as time passes by. It’s safe to say I was almost in panic mode because I had such high hopes for this attraction. I’d like to apologize to The Mr for almost biting off his head in line. My bad.

The ticket line for the Ngong Ping 360 cable cars
The ticket line for the Ngong Ping 360 cable cars

We opted for the crystal bottom cable cars so we could see everything going on beneath our feet. The glass bottom cable cars isn’t for the faint of heart. I, myself, am terrified of heights but I was too mesmerized to even notice that we were hundreds of feet up in the air and the possibility of it crashing to the ground was very real. In fact, a cable car did fall! Don’t worry, it was empty so no one was hurt. But don’t let that one little snafu stop you from going! LOL.

Ittybot was fearless
Ittybot was fearless

Just outside the cable car terminal is the Ngong Ping Village. There are plenty of shops and restaurants in the village so you can spend several hours perusing the cute knick knacks and interesting art work.

Finally, we made it to the bottom of the Tian Tan Buddha and we were ready to scale the 268 steps to the top. I was so proud of Ittybot for climbing all those stairs! I feel like I was supposed to be at peace or somewhat of a meditative place while climbing those stairs but I was so focused to getting my butt up there without passing out, I just couldn’t focus.

268 steps to The Big Buddha
268 steps to The Big Buddha

Finally, we were facing the Tian Tan Buddha. The Buddha elegantly sits on top of a lotus flower and faces the beautiful nature below. Surrounding the statue are smaller statues with their offerings. The buddha is supposed to symbolize harmony between human and nature. They did a great job of preserving that ideology. There were trees as far as the eye could see mixed with aromas of burning incense. For a moment, I felt at peace. Then, as quickly as it happened, I was back to my shutterbug self.

Big Buddha Hong Kong

Big Buddha Hong Kong

The view from Big Buddha
The view from Big Buddha

We did a quick walk through the temples surrounding the area. It was so quick that I don’t even feel like I am experienced enough to talk about it.

Po Lin Monastary

Final thoughts: The Big Buddha should definitely be added in your “must see” column. It was such an incredible experience for us and we still talk about it to this day!

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FB Detox and Approaching 3-0!

Sanya China

For most of April, I avoided FB as much as I could. Being in China most of the month helped immensely (mainland China blocks Facebook). I only checked it when I was messaged, tagged, or for any of Leiden Mamas group stuff. To be honest, IT FELT GOOD. I was getting tired of the negativity, the self-indulgent, the victims, and the serial “sharers”. If you are any one of these, I probably have unfollowed you but I didn’t unfriend you because that’s a slap in the face in the social world. It ain’t that serious, lol.

FB paints a picture of an “idyllic” life. It shows off shiny and expensive things. People share all the highs in their lives. Who wants to be a debbie downer? (Although, people in said “victim” category do that.) Hell, I’m guilty myself! My intent is not to tell someone that my life is better or that this is how they need to live their life. It’s just how FB works. But is that all there is to it? If I listen to society and dwell on the numbers, the wrinkles, the number in my bank account, or even how many “thumbs up” I get, than I am not living my life. I would be living life how society has written it.

Being away from FB has helped me rediscover the ideals that I truly care about. I was reminded about what I wanted to do with my future and what I value most. I now dare to take steps off society’s pathway and I dare to see the world as I wish. And more importantly, I dare to think independently.

What spurred this mini self discovery? In just a month and some odd days, I will be turning 30! In my opinion, when you turn 30 is when you really stop caring about what other say or think. I’m approaching, as society would put it, “the big 3-0”. So I took some time to re-evaluate my relationships and my life in general. In my opinion, it is necessary to do this every 5 years or so. Or every year if you can! I am slowly phasing out the toxic relationships (luckily, there aren’t that many!) and working hard on preserving the genuine ones. I want to surround myself with people who want to see me succeed, people who don’t judge me or my mistakes, people who uplift me and not tear me down and the ones who truly love me unconditionally.

When I look back, I see the long and windy road I’ve been on. It was a rocky and tumultuous road. Road blocks put in place by the real (mean) world and road blocks put in place by ME. Whatever the case, I’ve overcome the obstacles and I am over the moon about where I am.

Turning 30 is a great mile marker for me. As I see it, getting year older is a blessing. Each and every year. To put it frankly, it is a privilege denied to many. So why run from it? Why be ashamed of it?

I know it’s easy to say but eff what society says. The unrealistic beauty standards, the fat shaming, the ridiculous material things magazines say you have to have – it’s all BS.

Embrace the road you took because it shapes who you are today. If you don’t like it, take a different route. YOU determine your path, not someone else.

Preach.

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Get to know Us Part I: “Mamabot” Dana

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Hi world!

I believe these series of posts about us has been LONG overdue. I’ll start this 3 part series off since I am the one that keeps up with our blog. I mean, it’d be AMAZING if Ittybot was doing the blog posts, right?! I’ll keep this short because I feel like if I wrote too much it’d come off as narcissistic. Although I’ve already reached that point by writing this post. LOL.

In a nutshell, I’m an ambivert that has a knack for being creative. I love photography (duh, I have a photography site) but that’s a distant second to my adorable family. Recently, I’ve been into traveling (never had much of an interest prior to moving to Europe) and started to pick up reading again – I shouldn’t say again since I barely read before, HAHA. I like to keep busy so I don’t slump into my lazy bum mode. Therefore, I always have some sort of project in the works. I don’t claim to know it all, but I’m a perpetual student that has a desire to keep learning.

My goals are the same as most people: to lead a healthy and happy life. A life that you don’t need a vacation from. It’s not about the money, the big house or the fancy items in my possession. Don’t get me wrong, all those things are nice but as long as my friends and family are healthy & happy, my glass is overflowing. I have a crazy family that always keeps things interesting and an amazing group of friends that are my ride or dies. I am proud to gloat that yes, I am in my happy place!

The universe still has a lot planned for us and I am excited to see what we (the Bots) make of it.

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Transformation Tuesday: My (UN)success story.

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Almost every woman at some point and time in their lives has been concerned about their body image. I am no different, my friends. During high school, I was desperately trying to gain weight because people thought I was bulimic.

Fast forward 10+ yrs and I’m on the flip side of things and trying to LOSE weight. I can never be satisfied, can I?! We were planning an amazing trip to Dubai and the Maldives. Maldives, being my ultimate bucket list item. So I HAD to get fit for this occasion, right!?

Working out was never my forte and dieting was definitely never in my vocabulary. I knew this would be a challenge of epic proportions. In addition, I had a c-section when I had Ittybot and since the docs sliced the muscle in my abdomen, sculpting those muscles will be extra problematic – if possible at all.

The web has all these amazing success stories about how people lost 50 lbs in a few months. So naturally, I thought I would be one of those amazing success stories too.

HA!! Here’s my UN-success story…

I fall in the “normal” category, meaning I’m not underweight nor am I overweight. I just wanted move that scale down a tad (tad=16 lbs, LOL) and get toned. I worked out 3-4 times a week doing random challenges. I was tracking everything I was doing and I was eating much less.

Where I went wrong was that I didn’t work myself hard enough and I took a lot of “pity breaks” when my friend of the month would visit and I’d extend that break an extra week. Haha. I also wasn’t dieting very well either. I was cutting my portions down but I still was eating unhealthy meals. What can I say? I have a weakness for grease and salt. I was fooling myself with the notion that if I sucked down one green juice a day for 4-5 days out of the week, it would cancel out my unhealthy choices. REALLY?

By the time the trip rolled around I did lose a couple pounds and shaved off an inch or so in my measurements. But I know I could have done much better if I was much more strict in my regiment.

Here’s my before & after:

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Moral of the story, you won’t get results if you don’t go 110%. I know, I know you and I have heard this 50 million times.

Don’t get me wrong, there IS a mini-success story to this. I did drop 2 lbs, gained some muscle, and trimmed down more than an inch in each area. BUT I WANT MOOOOORE! I know you ladies know that feeling, don’t lie.

It is now 2 months after the trip. I put those 2 lbs back on (ok, plus a little more) and I’d like to banish them forever and ever.

I figured if I wrote this down, I’d be held more accountable for my weight-loss journey. I have no shame in sharing my story because I know it’s relatable. A lot of people have been there. But don’t let our un-success story hinder you from your ultimate success story!

I’m considering doing a weekly or more realistically, bi-weekly (ok, maybe monthly) update on Transformation Tuesdays. I’ll list what I did how I’ve been eating etc, etc. What do you guys think?

Since it’s the new year, do any of you have a new year resolution to shed some lbs? It’s probably the most common resolution right after overindulging during the holidays. If you guys feel my pain (and gains, lol), leave me an inspiring comment. OR if you have an amazing SUCCESS story, I’d love to hear that too! We can be each others motivation!

I look forward to removing “UN” from my story!

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