Is it really 2013 already? If anyone is still reading this blog, I apologize for the last 2 years… I can come up with some arguably reasonable excuses for my lack of communication, but it’s just sad. I knew coming back to the US would change me a lot and keeping up with the blog was definitely one of them. Now that I actually talk and see people, I’ve lag at documenting what has happened over the last 20 months. So, here I am again - making another resolution to KEEP UP on this blog. It’s not for anyone else but myself, James and the kids. We have so many more adventures to take and I can’t neglect writing all those glorious moments down.

So, what happened in 2012? It was a crazy year.  We didn’t travel to many new countries or have grand adventure, but we still had great memories.  The year started off with a new year’s celebration at James’ cousin’s house out in Long Island. It was nice having a low key celebration with family where kids could run around and stay up all night just having fun though the drive home wasn’t so fun.

Next came Samanth’s 6th birthday party with 35 of her closest friends! YIKES! What was I thinking? Never again. Luckily we had the use of an entire martial arts studio and a great party coordinator who was able to manage the crazy kids. I spent endless hours making my own huge pinata in the shape of the number 6 and wrapping 35 pass the parcel presents - but all in all, Samantha was happy and that’s all that matters, isn’t it.

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Samantha also continue with her ice skating lessons which she loved! It’s great living in a town where the ice rink is just a 2 min drive away. maybe she will be our own Kristy Yamaguchi… who knows. Noah, he’s another story. We’ll wait until he’s older to get lessons.

In February, James and I were able spend a lovely 24hr kid free weekend in Manhattan since my mother was still visiting (since Jimmy had his second child) and we enjoyed every second of it.  We stayed at the Soho Grand Hotel, ate at Blue Ribbon Sushi, slept in and enjoyed walking around SoHo without worrying about the kids. It was a great way to celebrate our birthdays and just reconnect.

In March, we had a much welcomed visit from James parents.  They had come for a family friend’s daughter’s wedding down in Baltimore which James and I attended as well. So we decided to take the whole family for a fun filled road trip down to Washington D.C. Here, we learned James has either an allergy to Maryland crabs or Old Bay seasoning.  The kids enjoyed looking at the White House from outside the gates, visiting the National Aquarium (which I didn’t really like very much) and enjoyed the National Air and Space Museum (which I thought was awesome for the kids).  Too bad we were too early for the cherry blossoms,  maybe next time.  The wedding was awesome but chaotic afterwards as we drove back from DC/Baltimore straight to catch a 6am flight out of Newark so that James and I could take a real vacation alone. Roger and Remy were gracious enough to watch the kids for 4 days as James and I recharged our batteries in St. Maarten.

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I know it sounds so decadent but we were able to use our Starwood points for free hotel rooms so we just needed the flights which were direct out of EWR.  I had all these dreams of doing all the crazy/extreme activities we used to do like Jet Ski, ZipLine, parasail, diving or even just do out dancing and drinking, but instead, all we really wanted to do was sit on the beach with a pina colada and read a book and we did just that! We found a different beach each day and enjoyed being waited on.  We spent 1 day out on this little island, I can’t even remember the name, and it was great! we ordered food and drinks on the beach, swam a little, went on a short hike around the island and just relaxed.  4 days was definitely too short, but was long enough for my in-laws.  When I asked James’ dad how he enjoyed my life for a few days, he just shook his head and was glad we were home!

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March also held Noah’s 4th birthday. I decided to go simple and have a nice backyard Super Hero party, but instead of simple, it became it’s own monster.  We bought a backyard bouncy castle and slide so that the kids could run around and play but mother nature had different plans.With cold wind and rain in the forecast, we moved the party inside. And as much as I love my home, it just is not conducive to having 20 4+ year olds running around inside (plus their parents).  I had spent hours the week prior making another pinata, sewing super hero capes and creating fun indoor games.  In the end, the kids had fun, nothing broke, no one got hurt and Noah had a smile on his face. Thank goodness birthdays are only once a year.

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Oh, I forgot, Noah got a special gift for his 4th birthday - GLASSES!

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Life continued to get busy in May since James’ brother was finally getting married back in San Diego, which conveniently coincided with my mother’s 60th birthday so we prepared for our first family plane flight since coming back to the US.  Traveling with 3 kids is always a challenge and worry, but the kids did great on the flight. Samantha continued to throw up on each flight, as expected, but we were prepared. Annabelle did well and Noah slept!

The wedding was beautiful! Noah was the cutest ring bearer ever! The weather was a bit chillier than expected but it was wonderful seeing two people in love promise themselves to each other.  We also got to spend a lot of time with family which was really nice. A few days after the wedding, we went on a family vacation with my side of the family to celebrate my mom’s 60th. The year before, we celebrated by dad’s 60th with a big surprise dinner/dancing party but my mom just wanted to spend time with her kids and grandkids instead. So, my brother and his family flew out from NJ and we all drove out for 4 days in Palm Springs.  We stayed in one house for all 17 of us, and it was wonderful! The kids got to play and just reconnect. We had a pool but the weather was just a little to cool to just hang in the pool. We played in the pool 1 day, just hung out another and spent 1 day at the local children’s museum. Very low key but fun all the same.  It’s always sad leaving southern California after having so much family time together. I do miss that about living on the east coast.

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Then, all of a sudden, it was summer! School was over and it was a ghost town here… what is usually a vibrant community full of kids playing and playdates scheduled almost every free day became a town of campers - both day and sleep away so by the time camp was over, kids were done! We rarely saw anyone… Luckily I had enrolled the kids in a day camp at the YMCA in a neighboring town but it was still so chaotic since it now required me driving Sam and Noah 20mins away each way morning and afternoon. Plus, though they were at the same place, Noah’s camp ended 1 hour earlier than Samantha’s so that meant Noah, Annabelle and I would roam around aimlessly every day for an hour. We would hang out a CVS, Staples, Kohl’s or just walk around the town, which got old really fast. Never again! But they both really enjoyed it, especially Samantha since she was in a Gymnastics Camp. Now, she will be our own little Gabby Douglas!

Camp was only 4 weeks though I thought I’d get so many projects done while Sam and Noah were busy, but somehow, that just didn’t happen.  Annabelle was getting bigger and more demanding. Plus, she would nap 12-2/2:30 and then I’d have to leave to pick up the kids. Time just flew and I was just lazy.  But the summer was still fun. We spent most of our extra time swimming at our local pool, hanging with friends at the town beach or driving out to NJ to BBQ and swim at James’ cousins house.

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Summer was great but near the end, we received some very bad news.  My neighbor and best friend here in town was suddenly rushed to the hospital with what we first thought was meningitis. That was scary enough but it turns out it wasn’t meningitis… instead it was something they couldn’t figure out. Each day was full of worry, waiting for her husband to update us on her status. It turns out to be some rare form of encephalitis (swelling of the brain). Luckily, she slowly improved but lost a lot of her short term memory.  She is now so much better but still have a hard time focusing or remembering some things. I’m just happy she’s ok.

Before school started back up in September, we were able to spend 1 week down the eastern seaboard at Bethany Beach, Delaware.  I’d been planning this trip for months and wasn’t quite sure what we were getting ourselves. Seems so much easier planning int’l trips. There were just so many different options but someone had recommended Rehoboth Beach and I somehow ended up learning about Bethany Beach and the Sea Colony there - it was the best decision I could have made.  We’d been trying to coordinate with some friends but ended up missing them by a week so we met them on their last night in Ocean City, NJ as we headed down to Bethany Beach.  It was fun. The drive from Westchester to Bethany Beach is about 5hrs straight so we broke it up a bit with the stop in Ocean City. We brought James’ 11yr old cousin with us and that was such a success… Samantha, Noah and Annabelle all love her and she’s just the nicest girl. It was like having 4 kids but was fun. She was also so helpful. Besides a bit of car and sea sickness, I think she had a great time too. Ocean City was fun and we rode those big group bikes along the boardwalk before it started to rain.

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Our first night in Bethany was in a torrential down pour but after that, it was great weather, though a bit of rough water due to storms off the coast (a little pre-cursor to the storms to come later in the year).  We stayed in a 3bedroom condo in this huge complex call Sea Colony.  It was great! We were on the first floor close to one of the 10 pools there and just down from the beach.  The kids had fun playing on the beach in the morning and in the pool in the afternoons. They also got to do tennis lessons and beach and pool games.  And we were close to Rehoboth and Ocean City, MD where we could go to the boardwalk and go on the rides. We also spent 1 day at Jolly Rogers Splash Mountain which was so much fun, even with 4 kids. It was one of the best family vacations we’ve had just because it was easy and fun for all.

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Then school was back in session!  It was weird starting a new year and Samantha was a bit hesitant about going in to first but after a few weeks, she really fell right back into loving school. Though she misses her kindergarten teacher but her new teacher is awesome! She has really blossomed and enjoys school so much.  And Noah started a new pre-school though it’s driving me nuts because it’s so short, but it’s free, so I can’t complain too much.

And then Hurricane Sandy hit and it hit hard.  In reality, I think it did eventually turn into just a tropical storm but it still created so much destruction along the eastern coast. We were lucky as there was no damage though we lost power for 11 days and then lost Fios service for another 8 days.  It was a crazy time but we all grew closer together, closer as a family and closer as a community. We helped each other out and celebrated together after it was all over.  That’s what I love about living here. It really is a community.  We were lucky we had a generator to hold out and everyone helped each other get gas and entertain each others’ kids.

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And in the middle of it all was Halloween.  We had Bumblebee (the Transformer), a Candy Fairy and Dora the Explorer.  Luckily, we had a good town parade the week before but come Oct. 31st it was cold and trees were down everywhere but Trick or Treating still went on.  Emails had gone around and word of mouth spread to come down our street starting at 3pm. It was amazing how many kids were still there considering the chaos from the Hurricane but really, it was a lot less than it would be on a normal year. I still had bags of candy left over. One day, we’ll have a normal Halloween. Last year there was a freak snow storm that caused chaos then so maybe next year.

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Then November comes and my little koala turned 2! I can’t believe she’s so big now… We didn’t do a big party this year for her, I promise next year. We did do a little party with her playgroup but no big party place. I think she was still happy. And a few days later she started school for the first time! YIPPEE!!! Annabelle started school where Noah went last year. She goes 2 days a week for 2 hrs and 45mins - longer than Noah! She is even in the same classroom with the same teacher which is great! the first day, not a tear but then they had this animal visit and she freaked out. After that, I think she associated school with animals and cried her eyes out the next few times.

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November was a busy month. As we were recovering from Hurricane Sandy, I was preparing to donate bone marrow to an anonymous recipient.  I had registered with DKMS Americas years ago when I was working at NBC and got a call earlier in the year that I was a potential match. I went through all the subsequent testing and it was determined I was the best match so on Nov. 29th, James and I drove out to Stony Brook Hospital in Long Island and I was hooked up to a machine for 4.5hrs. I had a needle in 1 arm that sucked out all my blood that went into a machine that separated my plasma, stem cells and red blood cells. Then the machine put my red blood cells in through a needle in my other arm back into my body. The machine took all my blood out and replaced it 5x through. It didn’t hurt but was a bit uncomfortable. The hardest part was going to the bathroom - not pretty. I also had to have injections of Neupogen for 4 days prior to the donation to increase my stem cell production in my bone marrow. Luckily it all went smoothly. They flew my mother in to help babysit before, during and after which was wonderful. I love my mom!

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Oh, I forgot, we had a nice quiet Thanksgiving right before the bone marrow donation - though that’s really the wrong terminology. It’s peripheral blood stem cell donation really.

Then it was December and on the 15th, we packed up the whole family and flew down to Cabo San Lucas for another family vacation. We were going to LA for Christmas so thought a nice side trip to Mexico would be nice.  Luckily James parents were able to come with us. We were a bit worried as Roger was feeling sick before but Cabo really helped improve his health. He arrived looking weak and tired and left looking tanned and rejuvenated. We stayed at our timeshare resort we bought back in 2005  and it was wonderful. We were very happy. We swam a lot, went on a boat cruise, ate great Mexican food and even swam with dolphins.  I will try to do a full write up when I can. It was a lot of fun.

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Then off to  Los Angeles and Orange County to shuffle back and forth between families. Literally, we were packing up and sleeping in a different place almost every other night. As hectic as it was, spending Christmas with both our families and friends was wonderful.  Every time we go back, we always start wondering when we should move back. I think it’s still a bit early and I’m really happy where I am right now but who knows… anything can happen.

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So, that  was the abridged version of 2012.  A lot happened and I expect 2013 will have even more in store for us.  I just pray we all stay happy and healthy and no matter what natural disasters or chaos comes our way, we will overcome any obstacles and come out even stronger.

Happy New Year to all and may 2013 bring joy and cheer to everyone!