Wednesday, March 23, 2011

LE Turns One!

*Guest Blogger: Dad!**

We’ve been tremendously blessed in the last 365 days to have such a wonderful child. And we’re only just beginning— it’s quite exciting. She’s really active these days: almost walking (only needs to hold on to one of our fingers to toddle along), babbling a lot, and has a renewed interest in all of her toys and things that we left behind while we were in Fiji. Especially the cat—she loves that thing. She’s good at using expressions like clapping and waving, and has learned how to shake her head “no” (though we don’t think she fully comprehends the meaning yet). 

But she’s blessed too—she has a great network of family and friends who have covered her in prayer, and, over the last few days, birthday presents! She got a new tricycle from Nicole and me (a fancy German one that we found 70% off at Oompa), and fun books and games from relatives (thanks!).

Saturday was a nice day to go for the first spin.
We had a pretty low-key celebration for LE over the weekend, with the token give-a-baby-a-cake-and-see-what-happens bit. It was actually an ├╝ber-healthy carrot-banana-date cupcake (with no added sugar), but I mistakenly gave her the one with the sweetened frosting instead of the whipped cream frosting that Nicole made for her. Oh well. She seemed to enjoy that, almost as much as she enjoyed sharing the icing with her mom.

LE contemplating the cupcake

Getting that finger ready
Excitement sets in once the flame goes out.
First swipe of the cupcake

First swipe of mom's face. 

ta da!
Not much more celebration for this b-day, though; we’re saving up for next year: Bounce house, pony rides, clowns, and an oxygen bar! And we just learned that after the flight to Fiji, LE has now achieved Platinum on Delta- way to go!   OK, that’s not really true, but she has flown a lot, and that’s kind of cool.
Stay tuned for more on Fiji!

**Notes from Nicole:

LE also will hug when asked and is a very social kiddo. She'll make noises and stare at a stranger until they turn around and look at her. She will smile a huge smile and usually kick her feet and wave in excitement. She's a silly girl and loves attention. Every single place we go (or close to it), someone will say, "Now that's a happy baby! Is she always that happy?" and I get the pleasure of saying yes, unless, of course, she's starving, sick, or really tired. 

Now that she's the big 1 year, she allowed to start drinking cow's milk. She's had no issues and is making the transition quite well.  She continues to love eating; she pants, bites, or repeatedly makes a pop sound when she is hungry.

Lastly, John mentioned the walking, and while she is not truly walking yet, she is close. She stands on her own, and on occasion she'll take a tentative step. We thought that she'd learn to walk in Fiji, but they carried her almost nonstop, causing her to regress. The affection she received from them far outweighed the minor walking setback.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Made it to Fiji

We finally made it onto the plane after what seemed like an incredibly long evening. John walked around with LE in her infant carrier to get her to fall asleep without fussing. Thankfully, it worked, and we were given permission to carry the carrier on the plane and keep it in the vacant seat next us.
After getting settled in the half-full plane, three flight attendants came to check on the carrier, verifying that it’s safe for the plane. The last lady to check on it mistakenly told us that we had to take LE out, which woke her up and made her cry.  We finally got her to go back to sleep before we took off, and they brought a bassinet that attached to the bulkhead for her to sleep in during the flight. I must say, she slept well-- certainly better than I slept. John and I were both surprised at how quickly the flight went by. 

When we arrived to Nadi, Fiji, at around 5:30 a.m., we were greeted first by about 6 Fijians right at the plane’s door and then by three Fijians playing guitars and singing loudly as we walked the short jaunt to customs, which, by the way, had no lines and friendly staff.  John and I were both very surprised by the number of people who were awake, at work, and happy before daybreak. 
John and LE at our day hotel, the Mercure, in Nadi.
Since our flights were changed to a more inconvenient route with a long layover in Nadi, our travel agent got us a room for free at a nearby hotel, the Mercure.  We took the hotel’s shuttle, checked in without issues, and made it to our room to rest. John apparently wasn’t tired, but LE slept and I half-slept. We got up, went to the main courtyard for the complimentary breakfast buffet, and then headed back to the airport to catch our noon flight. The people there were very friendly, wanting to hold LE and talk with us.

Here's LE below at the Nadi airport just before we got on the plane. 

For whatever reason, they had us all board, sit down, and unbuckle our seatbelts and sit in the unairconditioned plane while they filled the gas tank. LE was a sweaty mess.

Views in flight

We landed in Labasa, Fiji, ready to take the 2 hour bus ride to our resort in SavuSavu. The airport in Labasa was just a small building with one office and about 30 chairs. There was no security or air-conditioning. Our luggage was simply brought in on a rolled cart, and everyone just grabbed what was his. I walked around with LE while John waited for our luggage, and two ladies asked to hold LE, kiss her face, and take a picture with her on their cell phone. Having a baby makes you an instant celebrity.

Here's the landing strip.

Here I am with LE, standing in the parking lot of the airport. You can kind of see the landing strip in the background.

After we got our luggage, we found our way through the crowd to the man with a clipboard who apparently was in charge of getting the surprisingly large group to our resort, Koro Sun, outside of the town SavuSavu. Almost everyone rode in a van to the resort, but since we had little LE, we were sent in a cab with just one other passenger. That’s when we learned that the reason there was a group going to our same small resort is because there is a Tony Robins conference later in the week at Tony’s resort down the street from Koro Sun. They all arrived a couple of days early to adjust before transferring to the Tony’s resort for the conference.
Our cab driver pointed out a number of highlights along the way and answered a lot of questions that we had about the island and SavuSavu.  There were cows, horses, and pigs tied up along the roadside here and there, and a lot of rainforest and natural flora. It was a pretty drive, but we were thankful to finally arrive at Koro Sun!

P.S. Wholly cow I was pasty when I got there!! I look sickly in that photo. Yikes!

Fiji here we come!

We’re on our way! We got to Los Angeles without issues yesterday. LE didn’t make a peep on either flight, and she made friends with everyone she could get to look at her. She’s certainly personable.
We had all day today to do whatever we wanted in the city, and, to be honest, we had a hard time filling the time. Here’s what we did.

See it? 

Now do you see it? 

Yep, we drove up to see the Hollywood sign. It was a really pretty drive. LE loved every minute of it.

Ok, maybe she didn’t realize that she was enjoying it.
We drove back down through Beverly Hills. Took the stroll down Rodeo Drive, Sunset Boulevard, and the neighborhood that Jennifer Aniston lives in. We saw lots and lots of super fancy cars. And we ate at Roni’s Diner, an uncrowded, unpretentious, inexpensive restaurant with outdoor seating. It was the perfect spot for our lunch.
Did I mention yet that it was a beautiful day? Blue skies. Some clouds. Lots of sun.
After lunch, we headed down to Hwy 1 to drive up the coast. We stopped at a park to let LE “walk” around, and then we headed up to Malibu for a quick peak at Pepperdine. The views are so pretty there. 

Then we drove back and waited and waited and waited. Time was moving s.l.o.w.l.y. Hopefully that isn’t an indication of what it will be like on the flight!