This Monday August 21, 2017 afternoon, my dear friends Jenn and Sanyo gave birth to a beautiful healthy baby boy, Theodore James Fong! Clay and I had just gotten back from our trip to Mexico and we were both so happy & relieved to hear that the entire delivery process was smooth and that both Jenn and baby Theo were doing great!
The very next day on Tuesday, I got to visit this precious little one-day-old. Even though many of my close friends have started having children, the miracle of birth still never ceases to amaze me. Getting to witness and hold a newborn always fills me with so much wonder and awe. And of course, I am always so crazy proud and impressed by my friends when they transition into this new life stage of parenthood. When I arrived at the hospital, Jenn was already up and about in her room, so surprisingly active for having just given birth the previous day! I watched as Sanyo changed Theo's diaper and cradled/comforted him after he got his afternoon shots. Tending to a helpless infant came so naturally. I already know that both Jenn and Sanyo are going to be amazing parents to this little one! And just from the back-to-back visitors from yesterday, I also already know that Theo will be so well-loved. He really does have a lovable personality from what I've noticed so far ;). The entire afternoon yesterday, he was so calm (barely cried) and curious. I documented as he slowly opened his eyes wide and started looking around, taking in all of his surroundings. He kept looking at me quietly as I took photos of him and even made Zoolander's Blue Steel face for a quick moment. I hope he knows that his Auntie Kim is so ready to spend more time with him whether it's during the Game of Thrones Season 7 finale, day trips (or half day trips) up to SF, and of course, family camping trips to Yosemite when he's old enough!
For my summer break and our (early) one year marriage anniversary celebration, Clay and I decided to go on a trip to Tulum! This was Clay's first time in Mexico and my second time (my first time was a YWAM missions trip to Ensenada with my youth group during high school). During our 8-day trip, we mainly stayed in two Airbnbs in Tulum Pueblo (downtown Tulum), where there were lots of busy streets to walk through, good food to eat (we loved the street tacos, fresh fruit popsicles, & churro stands!), and opportunities to go souvenir shopping. We were also able to spend a good amount of time on the Tulum beachfront during our downtime/evenings, where all the luxury beach hotels, beach bars, fancier restaurants, and (boho-style) boutiques are located. We loved seeing the ocean and sunset on our very first day! [Note for those planning a trip to Tulum: I must say that your experience of Tulum will be very different depending on where you stay. If you like living among the locals and don't mind the daily hustle & bustle of downtown life, find a place in Tulum Pueblo! But be warned the downtown area is pretty poor and somewhat undeveloped still. The streets can be dirty, dusty, and smelly. You will also likely hear noise all day long: cars, construction, stray dogs barking, roosters crowing early in the morning, and people talking/loud music playing late into the night. If you want a more peaceful and restful experience, I would recommend that you stay at a hotel on the beach. It'll probably be expensive, but you would definitely have a more comfortable, relaxing, and "nicer" stay. Overall, just keep in mind that Tulum is a town that revolves around / is sustained by heavy tourism. Don't be too surprised by this when you visit.]
During our trip, Clay and I were very interested in having a culturally immersive experience. We wanted to immerse ourselves in Mayan/Spanish/Mexican history and culture. We also wanted to immerse ourselves in the nature of the Mayan Riviera. So for our day-time activities, we were naturally drawn towards visiting the Mayan ruins and archaeological sites, as well as the cenotes scattered throughout the Yucatan Peninsula. Cenotes are basically giant, naturally-formed sinkholes that you can swim in (Clay and I like to think of them as the swimming holes of Mexico). Anyway, I'm pretty amazed that we managed to check out THREE separate Mayan ruins: the Tulum Ruins, Chichen Itza, and Coba Ruins. (We actually checked out Chichen Itza and the Coba Ruins on the same day...crazy, right?) We also got to visit THREE different cenotes: Cenote Ik Kil, Grand Cenote, and Cenote Dos Ojos. Each cenote was unique in its own way. All were worth visiting in my opinion. Our personal favorite was probably Cenote Dos Ojos, because we got to snorkel through bat caves and super cool stalactite formations (on a guided tour...too dangerous to do by yourself)! [Tip for travelers: Try to visit Tulum when it's not too hot. We visited during one of the hottest months in August...not the best idea because I ended up getting a terrible heat rash the last couple of days. But if you handle heat well and still end up visiting during those hottest months, I would recommend waking up super early to visit the ruins/archaeological sites in the morning when it's less hot and less crowded. Then, in the afternoons you can refresh yourself by swimming in a cenote or staying indoors and taking a nice long nap. And just a heads up, all the cenotes are very tourist-centered. Even though the cenotes themselves are natural, all the major ones have been commercialized. They pretty much have parks built over them, so there will be fees for admission. But they will also have lockers, snorkel and dive gear rentals, showers, hammocks, and restaurants where you can grab a bite to eat.]
Another way we were able to experience culture and nature was by spending a day at an adventure park. There are so many to choose from in that area, but we decided to go to Xcaret. Both of us enjoyed floating through their lazy river and catching all of their shows (i.e., ritual ceremony of the Voladores, pre-Hispanic dances, folkloric dances, and horse exhibition). They also have an evening show, called the Xcaret Mexico Espectacular. It's quite long, but Clay and I enjoyed how it captured the history of Mayan culture and the Spanish conquistadors. It tells the story of a beautiful, but painful mixing of cultures that lead to the formation of Mexican culture and the people of Mexico today.
Well, that's my recap of our trip! Feel free to let me know if you have any specific questions about any of the spots that I've mentioned above. If you want a complete list of places to stay, places to eat, and points or interest in/around Tulum, let me know and I'd love to send you one. I'll conclude this post with an awesome video that Clay made of our trip!
My first day of summer break was spent road tripping down to SoCal to celebrate Josh & Tracy's wedding early last month! I've known Josh since I transferred to Berkeley at the beginning of my junior year. We met through InterVarsity and both ended up joining a yearlong small group called Life Discipleship (LD). During our senior year, we would meet up at the corner of Channing and College to walk to our Psych 126 (Psychology of Perception) class...that is, if Josh didn't choose to sleep in that morning. Clay has also known Josh for even longer than I have through their Unit 2 small group freshmen year. We have definitely all come a long way since those college days. Clay and I are both thankful that we have been able to keep in touch, especially through all of Josh's prayer updates during his three years away at seminary in Boston. It's been fun sharing life updates with each other and kinda funny that I ended up in seminary as well.
Anyway, Josh, it was great being able to see you come full circle, becoming a pastor at the very church where you grew up...and then getting to witness your marriage union there as well. Thanks for taking the time to webcam with me and Clay amidst all the busyness just two weeks leading up to your wedding day! We really enjoyed taking you and Tracy out during the middle of your reception for a quick 18-minute photo shoot! (I looked at the time stamp - it was from 7:48pm to 8:06pm if you guys are curious, haha.) Even though our first visit to LACMA turned out to be way more chaotic than we expected (with all the tourists, photo bombers, & that group of singers that serenaded you guys), I think we ended up with a pretty good set of photos to add to your wedding day album! (Major props to Clay for photoshopping all those people out in several of these pictures.)
Just capturing as I go.