McNabb - Diller Reunion

This is such a fun bunch. We shared lots of laughs, delicious food, Rubik's cube strategies, and even a rousing game of Pictionary. The girls beat the boys, hands down. We love you guys so much, and it was so great to catch up and be in one spot again. We miss you already!

From Top Left: Danny, Tajni, Mark, Nicole, Luke, Chris, Tyler, Poppa Joe, Jampa Bill, Sydney, Mom/Marleen, Justin, Asia, Dad, Jeannie, Eden & Ali. Photo taken by Mom/Carolyn.


special times with Nana

Living here in Santa Cruz with Justin's mom & step-dad has been incredible. The girls get to spend heaps of quality time with their family, while surrounded by love and lots of fun activities. This weekend, the girls were pampered with pedicures and pink polish. This was the first time we allowed them to get their fingers painted, mostly to encourage Eden to stop sucking her thumb. I can't say that tactic worked tho. Either way, it was worth the wait - and a special memory indeed! Thank you Nana!!


O'Neill Coldwater Classic

Santa Cruz has its perks! The beautiful coastline, incredible weather - and surf contests galore. We take every opportunity to visit the ocean as often as possible while visiting, and this week we lucked out!! The O'Neill Coldwater Classic was underway! Steamer's Lane is a prime surf spot for surfers worldwide! Our girls were mesmerized with the guys paddling into the big waves.

Eden was curious about every detail, and she was glad to know that girls can surf too. Maybe she will be a future contender. If only she could swim! What a wonderful place to call home!!



In only 3 days we made the 1700 mile trip from Denver to Santa Cruz - just in time to reunite with some wonderful friends! Thanks for waiting for us guys!! We always wish it could be longer....


Vegas baby!!

Being on the road here in America has its ups & downs. We get to choose our own routes, opting for beautiful scenery or longer drives, while remembering what three kids can joyfully handle. We stock up on healthy snacks, since fast food is not our preference AND we get to see the amazing landscapes and highlights of so many different places!!

This was our first visit to Las Vegas! We were amazed by the excitement, the grandeur of the casinos and the sex-saturated culture of that massive city. It's easy to notice the reason Vegas has been named "Sin City." We wandered part of the Strip, the 4-mile section of road that is lit up by amazing luxury hotels, casinos and restaurants to attract tourists. The girls loved the light+water show outside the Bellagio hotel, and the themed hotels that looked like castles or pyramids. The city was quite impressive!!



We spent 9 priceless days with Jason, Kris & Jordan in Lexington - our close family AND dear friends. I don't think it gets any better! The hills of Kentucky are gorgeous this time of year, with bright green grass and sunset hues across the landscape. Time flew by way too fast, but we got to see many daily facets of their life out east. It was inspiring to see their eating habits (high vegan + raw foods), exciting to hear of their future aspirations, and priceless to spend time with 17-month-old cousin+niece Jordana.

Having a cousin brings such adventure: like blowing bubbles in the backyard, sharing a bath, wearing matching pink shirts, running after horses in the grass, and vying for the best toys. I'd like to think the girls were great examples, but sweet little Jordan can easily get trampled underfoot. Besides sharing all the memories - we also shared a nasty flu bug with her too. I think only the 2 mom's escaped the sickness.

Here's a big family picture - with everyone attentive and smiling!! A rare moment! Thank you JJK for the amazing trip & time together! We love you so much! (why are we so cute?)


Hiking the Red River Gorge

Even our 3 year old Eden conquered this challenging hike - up steep trails and along the mile-long pathway to the very top (and back)! Everything was green and picturesque, exploding with color, yet cool in the canopy of trees above. We hiked under the Natural Bridge sandstone, and thru a small crevice in the rock. The view at the peak was breathtaking - overlooking the vast canyons below. The girls loved picking flowers, leaves, finding walking sticks, caterpillars, and taking rests along the way!

We loved being outdoors again, taking in the beauty of creation!! As the girls get older, its amazing to see them able to tackle physical activities like this, without a complaint. Sydney & Jordan had the best deal - riding in backpacks making cute faces for all.

This is the "crack in the rock" - which the girls were absolutely amazed by. Gotta love their intensity and awe. Thanks fam for sharing this gorgeous spot with us!!


Aunt Ali Salon

Part of my *calling as an aunt is to help my nieces & nephew have as much FUN in life as possible. This includes outdoor adventures, lots of book reading, special snacks, goofy faces, and coming to the "Aunt Ali Salon" for a new hair-do. Here are some snaps of Jordan's latest styles.

This is called "Double Sprout"
This is called "Bug Buns"
And also her first "Pig-tails"
This girl has amazing locks! And she sat relatively still for me too. Isn't she adorable??

off to horse-land (and dog-land too)

Last week we left our green minivan @ the Denver airport, and flew to Lexington, Kentucky (the horse capital of the world!), in the center of the Bluegrass area (green pasture lands & rolling hills)! Justin's brother+fam have lived here for 4 years, and this was my first visit! They blessed our family with round-trip tickets, so we could all spend more time together in their part of the world.

The girls love playing with their little cousin Jordana, and becoming acquainted with their cute dog "Cash." This was a huge bonus for us to come visit - since the girls are afraid of animals & things that move. Cash is a sweet Jack Russel, with great personality. He's full of energy and loves attention. The first 24 hours, the girls were skittish, nervous and wary of his every move. Sometimes they sat on the highest part of the couch to stay out of reach. BUT it was amazing to watch the progression of their comfortability grow with each day. We thought they would ALWAYS be afraid of dogs! Justin taught them how to play with him, pet his head and run around the couch. They learned to throw the ball for him and let him cuddle at their feet. He is such a loving dog - so it wasn't that tough!

I have come to realize that deep down - I am a horse girl. Seeing all the farms, pastures, green grass....made me long to gallop bareback with my hair in the wind. And I love pets. Someday I hope we can have one. And I love being an aunt, but you already know that (not in that order of course).


where everybody knows your name...

This trip has been full of incredible reunions - with friends who share common history & loves, memories & similar life phases. These are easy to take for granted - until you live cross-culturally, where building friendships takes incredible effort, language skill & time. All this to say: we are so grateful to BE with friends, where we don't have to work so hard.

We spent 2 days in Loveland, where we got to see 4 groups of ol' friends! The Sailer's let us stay in their amazing home - which is quite a crazy undertaking. We have 3 little girls, and they have 4!! Here's the latest pict (youngest to oldest):
Gia (6mo) Sydney (1) Ruby (2) Eden (3) Bella (4) Asia (5) Emma (6)

This reminded me of Sarah & I back in the day. Even the same blanket!!
And this is Syd & Asia with little Lilyann (3)

The girls adored little Gia - who was always full of smiles. It amazes me how all seven girls got along for the 2 days we visited. Even with all the juggled naps, meals & snacks, shared toys & games - they never got in a tiff!

Brooke, Emma & Asia reading a great book together!
Thanks Loveland friends - for all the encouragement and love we have felt from you! We love you with all our hearts!! Can we come again in a few years??


just like fam

Spending two weeks with ol' friends has been joyous!! The girls tackled Nate & almost took him down. Justin & Nathan have been friends since freshman year (1994), so we always look forward to our reunions. It had been 2½ years since we had seen them...and this time Nathan & Elle had become parents! (they are amazing!)
This was our first time to meet their daughter Sophia Elizabeth. Sydney & Sophia shared a swing; a bonding time indeed. We spent evenings at the park, and shared meals together as often as possible. These two are 10 months apart...

We also got to be there to celebrate little Sophia's first birthday...a monumental occasion! She had thee biggest cupcake I have ever seen. She was pretty amazed too.
Eden loved Sophia so much. She was always asking permission to hold her.
Everything was great until Sophia tried to swipe Sydney's coveted panda bear.
She tried to make up for it with a blue camera case. Not so sure it worked.
We loved reconnecting with our friends, and though its hard to say goodbye - we know our paths will cross again, and we will remain close across the globe. We may just have to meet up in another country next time! Thanks Doan fam for being such amazing friends! We love you all heaps!


strictly business

Justin is becoming an ice cream connoisseur.

con·nois·seur; \ˌkä-nə-ˈsər also -ˈsu̇r\ noun, obsolete French (now connaisseur), from Old French connoisseor, from connoistre to know, from Latin cognoscere — more at cognition.
1: expert; especially : one who understands the details, technique, or principles of an art and is competent to act as a critical judge
: one who enjoys with discrimination and appreciation of subtleties connoisseur of fine wines>

Part of his desire to make the best ice cream, means that he must taste test different flavors wherever we go. This is Pumpkin ice cream - and it was tasty!!


Garden of the gods

Only minutes from our hotel, in the shadow of Pike’s Peak – is an amazing park full of towering rock formations where you can hike and explore for hours: It is a majestic sight, rightly named "Garden of the gods." The red sandstone is how Colorado got its name! We'd been looking forward to taking the girls here....

But, after recovering from being sick a few days, we wanted to get the girls out of the stuffy hotel room for some fresh air and outdoor fun. Our plan backfired - as the girls were all cranky for the majority of the morning. Here is one picture that managed to have happy hearts. Later we found out that climbing the dangerous sandstone was illegal. So daring, aren't we?


pumpkin patch galore

We got to visit an amazing pumpkin patch for kids! There were so many activities for the girls to participate in – it was like an amusement park! They got to pet goats, dig in the corn-box, figure their way thru a hay bale maze, slide down a hay bale slide, climb tractors, go on a hay ride and pick their favorite pumpkin. It was well worth the $5 bucks! ...enjoy the picts!!

brave Sydney...feeding Mr. Goat some grass

Happy October!!