Picture Post

Because it is hard to write and a picture post is easy to do.

Starting with divine things. Doing the Satyanarayana Swamy Vratham has become an yearly ritual. While it usually happens in Winter time, this year, since my parents are here, I wanted to do this with them. Not only that they could participate, my dad officiated the pooja, so its extra special. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Park trips have been made mandatory since last year, so this is another new thing for us. After dinner or in the morning, we drive them here every day. Luckily two parks near home have been renovated. One of them even had new ziplines installed, which kids love.

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Reading has taken a hit this Summer. I had lot of plans for kids Summer break, this year. But given that they are staying home full-time with grandparents, any kind of schedule is ruled out. Its free choice time always. But its nice to see them find a book and read for few minutes at least, all by themselves.

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Given the full day free choice time, I signed kids up for evening classes. So Monday and Thursday, they go to a Martial Arts class. Not sure what they are learning, but Achu is inventing her own moves. They both are signed up for Swimming class on Tuesdays which they love and is the only class, they actually want to go to. ๐Ÿ™‚ Wednesday’s is music class, which again is not an exact favorite. But its nice to see Achu pickup few things here. She even performed a small bit in the temple with rest of her group.

When you are home for the whole Summer, its wonderful to have a playdate partner. Aka its wonderful to have twins or siblings to play with. Abhi and Achu spend most of their time together and come up with billion different creative ways to play. Here is them camping in the front yard. Not an usual choice, but its what they would do.

They even took this a step forward to camp here overnight. ๐Ÿ™‚ I have to agree with them, this was fun. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Achu organized a yard sale, selling things I paid money for. ๐Ÿ˜€ She sold few for pennies. While she went out of her way to roam around the neighborhood and tell people she is having a sale, luckily the only person who bought stuff was Abhi. Again with my money, buying our own toys. ๐Ÿ˜€

I took my parents and kiddos out to my office and then lunch at Commons. As if I didn’t have enough to do, Achu gave me this extra work.

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When I got back from London, I got kids this 500 piece London city jigsaw puzzle. Although kids lost interest , I found a new hobby. It took me a week to finish this, working on and off in the evenings. I went ahead and bought new puzzles and now this is my go-to thing at home. My latest one is a 1000 piece beach treasure fun.

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London Trip

I have a ton of things to write about. I am not sure what happened to my interest in blogging. I seem to have no interest whatsoever to write anything here. Maybe it’s that I am occupied with too many things in my head.

But I am here now, my third attempt, trying to finish this post. I thought about the top three things I could write about: Kiddos turning 6, my London trip or my progress with swimming lessons. Three are equally important to me right now, but I will choose my London trip. Because it was awesome and also included just me. ๐Ÿ˜Š

And it was awesome for many reasons. When I was asked to go to London for a conference, I have to say, not only was I least interested, I was also terrified to travel outside the country. The state that we are in right now, with all the immigration issues going on, I wasnโ€™t sure if I would come back. Even though there was absolutely no reason to think so. Itโ€™s the just the way things right now here are, I feel. Plus, I hate change. Travelling to a new country where I donโ€™t know anything about anything, was a big change for me. But scratch all that for now. My visa process went super smooth, without any hiccups. And travelling to the place I knew nothing about, without any family, was awesome too. ๐Ÿ˜Š

It surely helped that I was travelling with a colleague, but after a while that got annoying for silly reasons. Initially, we made plans on what to see where to see. Unknowingly, we made some good choices about where we stayed. Because the first hotel we stayed in, was so close to many of Londonโ€™s top attractions, I had a super awesome sightseeing trip. Another best thing about London was the tube. Once I got the hang of it, I actually preferred to travel by myself.

Day 1, we landed Sunday afternoon, without thinking about jet lag or such ๐Ÿ˜Š, we started walking to our destinations. London is so amazing, every building I got to see had this amazing architecture around it. That day, I visited the Parliament building, Big Ben, London eye, roamed some streets of London, Buckingham Palace, St James Park and Trafalgar Square. All in about 4 hours. My spirits that day were so good. I didnโ€™t think sightseeing could be so good.

Day 2, I rode the tube for the first time. Did I mention it was awesome? I wasn’t the daily tube commuter, but the ease of getting from one place to another so quickly was wonderful. I wish every place we stay has this facility. Although I think, with kids, walking all the way to the underground stations wouldn’t be fun. Once I got the hang of the maps, figuring out which train to take, where to get down was so much fun. I like following old school maps. It was surprising to know London Bridge is actually a different bridge. One we commonly think of as London Bridge is Tower of London.

 

The day was getting hotter and after running few errands, next stop was Natural History Museum. And oh my, was it good? First of all, I love museums. Secondly I cherish alone museum time. And then there were all kinds of things I loved. It wasn’t just the artifacts in the museum that were good, it was the architecture of this place, that was amazing too. One could easily spend half a day here.

 

Day 3 and 4 were the conference I attended. Just like any, some were good sessions, some not so much. But we didn’t waste the evenings. Evening # 3, I visited Kings Cross Station to visit the famous Harry Potter Platform 9 3/4; Stood in line for 45 minutes and got what I wanted. It was soo good to be there, holding the wand, running the trolley into the wallย  ๐Ÿ˜€

Evening #4, was Piccadilly Square, walking along the beautiful streets, some shopping.

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Next two days was the time I roamed by myself and loved every minute of it. Day 5, I got to British museum. I swear by this day, I felt like a zombie. Despite being jet lagged, not having much to eat and not enough sleep, I still pushed myself to walk all over the museum. My legs were killing and I kept going. All for the love of museums. I cherish some wonderful things I saw here. Especially anything Egyptian. Seeing Amaravathi statues was a nice surprise. I haven’t seen them in India yet. I was wondering if I could tour the real Amaravathi by myself like this, realized no way I could. So was so glad to peacefully enjoy them here.

Rest of the day #5 was walking as well. This time visiting a BEAUTIFUL St Paul’s cathedral. I am a big fan of churches or temples for their architecture and this one blew my mind. We were not supposed to take pics, but I tell you a picture wouldn’t do justice. You have to be there. The inner dome is so big. They have one way not-for- claustrophobics stair case to reach the top. It was hard to get to different levels. (especially with the state of my legs that week ๐Ÿ™‚ ) But it was so worth it. Getting so high and close to the top of dome, you could see the architecture even more closely. It was amazing. Here isย  a pic from the internet. ๐Ÿ™‚ See the tiny circle on the top with three tiny windows, that’s where you can get to.

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The stairs also open up to the outdoor view of London. Again, so worth it. ๐Ÿ™‚

Day 6, I had a packed day as well. First visit was to Westminster Abbey. Another beautiful place of worship. But I have to say, after seeing St Paul’s Cathedral, this one seemed like a very simple church. ๐Ÿ™‚ It was still very beautiful.

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Having changed my afternoon plan to skip Windsor Castle, I made the trip to The National Gallery. I don’t know what I missed with the castle trip, but the gallery trip was so worth it. I will say this again, with my legs killing me, I covered the whole gallery. It was that good.

I happened to find a good Indian vegetarian place after my gallery trip and I think this is the first time I ate well in the week.

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Next day was my flight back. It was mainly packing and saying good-bye to the place and the trip I loved a lot. I did do some quick and cheap gifts shopping. And you know the two tops I bought for around $10 are my favorite things now. ๐Ÿ™‚

May be it was me travelling alone, I loved the airport trip back home. I ended walking all around LHR helping a lady who was scared, travelling alone and didn’t speak the language. When she found out I spoke her language, her face just lit up and she wouldn’t go two steps away from me ๐Ÿ™‚ . Poor thing. I got her safely to where she needed to go and went my way.

My colleague and I, for the first two days of our trip, randomly would end up talking about kids and what would it be if they were here etc. Then we made a rule to enjoy our me time without the kids and not talk about the kids. ๐Ÿ˜Š We were only partially successful. ๐Ÿ™‚ But I have to say, this trip made me realize it is okay to enjoy without having kids around. A place like London, with all its beautiful architecture, kids wouldnโ€™t have enjoyed it that much. But I surely did it. I am surely thinking about making a trip without kids a yearly thing. I just have to find people to go with me. ๐Ÿ˜Š

Another wonderful thing about the trip was, it made me realize, despite it being a short trip, that I can survive on my own. Another surprising realization that came to me was that I actually like doing things by myself. If you knew me from couple of years ago, you would completely surprised by what I just said. I was that dependent on people. ๐Ÿ˜Š I still think about the last stretch of my trip. I didnโ€™t have good food to eat, havenโ€™t slept more than 4-5 hours a night, my legs were killing me and I still LOVED the alone museum time I got. It was wonderful. This trip is easily the best one week of my life in recent times. It turned out, I am a wonderful company to myself. LOL. ๐Ÿ™‚

The trip did boost confidence in me. I find myself ready to do little risky things that I wasn’t okay to do before. At least I don’t think so much now. I am looking forward to my next trip. May be Paris? Its time to start learning a new language then.

So that was my amazing trip and the wonderful time I had. Surely a memory I will cherish for a long time. ๐Ÿ™‚

The one where I pretend like I wasnโ€™t MIA for months

So this happened this evening. I have been planning to writing about Abhi and Achus latest love -playing tic tac toe. Possibly playing at their after care school, they got the hang of it and now we play it everywhere. In the front yard on the pavement, backyard, our driveway, every paper they can get hold of. It’s amazing how much they like it now.

This is yesterday night- one of things they do is pickup a book from around the shelf, open and play tic tac toe inside the book. Whatever open space they can find, they use it.

Our front yard gets decorated with the game like it’s rangoli time.

So this evening I go to cuddle with kids at bed time. Today was surprisingly no tic tac toe night. Today was singing night.

Achu gets to sit on the bed edge, in her green sleeveless dress, messy hair which she doesn’t let me comb or tie. She tells me she wrote a song. So I ask her to sing but she is shy. Some coaxing later, she agrees to. And she sings. It’s based on the Shape of You, which she apparently heard somewhere.

Hey, I am in love with the shape of you. You look like you supposed to. I really need you. Oh common, I am in love with the shape of you.

Of course not remembering the original tune, she sings in her own tune. She definitely got Murali’s genes in that respect. She sings good. ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

And then I chose to play her the actual song and we had a little dance party.

Abhi has this cute dance moves which he calls dab. He made up baby, mini and big versions of dab and he performed for us.

…. and all of a sudden I realized how many sweet memories like this I am forgetting because I am not recording them.

Growing Up

Its been ages I wrote anything about what Abhi and Achu are up to these days. Limited time I get these days to write here is spent in catch-ups so that I don’t lose my memories. Today, I will try to write about kids.

I had this post I wanted to write about how kids are grown up now. comparatively, I mean. I still remember the first time Achu threw up in the rest room instead of wherever she was. She said she had to throw up. Got up from her bed, walked with me to the restroom. Saved us a ton of cleaning. While there are so many moments, I felt that was the first time it occurred to me, the baby days don’t last for ever. The same time, Abhi was just throwing up when needed, wherever he was, without any control, so I realized these small things are not to be taken for granted.

That was probably a year or two ago, can’t even remember. Now, it’s all much more grown-up.

This was Achu yesterday night. I asked her to go sleep. And she goes, “Why do you always ask me to go sleep? Do you think its my favorite thing? Oh yes. I do. I loveeeee sleeping”. I listened to that comment and was laughing, when she comes back and says, “I was being sarcasticcccc”. My five-year old understands sarcasm. How grown up is that. ๐Ÿ™‚

Abhi and Achu’s relationship has grown up too. When they were 3 or so, they wouldn’t play with each other much. But in the last year or so, they have become really good at being partners in play. Their favorite word is “Pretend”. Every time they are playing together, this is the word I hear a zillion times. Their pretend play and imagination has no bounds. And its wonderful. But, there is also ton of fighting, these days. For silliest of things. ๐Ÿ™‚

Getting ready and getting out home has been easy and challenging at the same time.ย  They get dressed themselves, but the closets are the messiest. They insist on eating on their own, food is everywhere. It only takes us a 100 turns to get these two to go out in the car. But we do go out. Long gone are the worries if kids are dressed warmly for weather outside. They decide and apparently form “opinions” about what they need for the day. ๐Ÿ™‚

We have gone a bit of hiking since last summer. And this one strikes me again, no more holding babies, no more strollers. We haven’t touched the stroller in months. They complain too, but they still walk. And hike. I m so proud of them when they come on a hike with us.

Growing up is not always easy though. Now is the time for developing that attitude, friends you hang out with, learn new words and ways. Its good sometimes. Sometimes, not so much.

Whatever stage they are at, I think kids are growing up way too fast. They will be 6 years old in July and I can’t believe that. ๐Ÿ™‚

First Post Of The Year

Ah! It only took me a month to write the first post for this year. No resolutions, no catch-up of the previous year, nothing. ๐Ÿ™‚ Life is running really on survival mode now. That is we do exactly those things needed to survive day-to-day. And repeat that every day. Sigh! My mental state is terrible […]

Ah! It only took me a month to write the first post for this year. No resolutions, no catch-up of the previous year, nothing. ๐Ÿ™‚ Life is running really on survival mode now. That is we do exactly those things needed to survive day-to-day. And repeat that every day. Sigh!

My mental state is terrible right now, I am having such a tough time sleeping. I remember very clearly, the first day back to work in January. I had all good energy, having rested over the holiday season and no-rush days. That first day, I came back from work, ate dinner and was in bed by 7 PM and slept through the whole night. And with the range of my sleep problems, sleeping at 7 is like a crazy occurrence. And yet, I have done these early sleepings, more than once in the last month. And yet stayed sleepless rest of the nights. I constantly feel exhausted because of this. This morning, I seriously considered asking for sleeping pills. Dont know if I will pursue that option.

Anyway, apparently when things are like this, itโ€™s better we all focus on the good things. So I thought, I would finally write the first post of the year and add some good things happening.

โ™ฅ We had a new yearโ€™s gathering this time. Usual gang of friends, plus few more. Our usual gang stayed up until midnight, we cut a small cake and watched movies. This gathering has been fun and we have been meeting every Friday to just eat together and watch some movie. Sometimes, we meet more than once on the weekends. Pattern is same. Eat and watch something. ๐Ÿ™‚

โ™ฅ ย We also bought a brand new car before new year. So, on the new yearโ€™s day, we set out for a little road trip. We ultimately ended up at a Wallace Falls State Park. It was so cold, but we managed to get out and go on a little hike. That was what was most amazing about our new year. A mini hike on Day 1. I loved it. ๐Ÿ™‚

โ™ฅ ย Over the December holidays, other kidโ€™s friends and us moms, toured few winter fun places. Itโ€™s always fun to go with this group of kids. Kids meet almost every weekend, now-a-days. And they see each other in school every day. ๐Ÿ™‚ I also got to decorate my lovely front yard with a ton of lights. I added only few more this year, and half of the lights from last year didnโ€™t work, but I still loved it. It also snowed more us in December, and that always makes it much nicer to look at.

โ™ฅ ย End of the year, we did Satyanarayana Swamy Pooja at our place. Just us, to help us focus on the pooja.

โ™ฅ ย First outing of the year was to a place called Friday Harbor. It was a joke between kids and me, that we are going to Friday Harbor on a Saturday. ๐Ÿ™‚ This was a quiet trip again, and unexpectedly it turned good. We got there by ferry and realized this was such a small town, we didnโ€™t have much to do. And we were staying a night. So we ate late lunch, checked-in to the hotel, slept while kids watched tv, stepped out and ate dinner again, and then went to watch a movie. ๐Ÿ™‚ It was so cold, we didnโ€™t want to go on any adventures in the evening. Jumanji was the movie, and we all loved it.

Next day, we drove to a Lime Kiln State park, ate lunch and then to another hiking spot. The day was gorgeously sunny and the spots were very scenic. We took a lot of pictures, enjoying the sunshine. Kids also proved to be much better walkers/hikers than I give them credit for. Another great thing about this trip was the food. Both the dinner on first day, and lunch on the day we left was awesome. Especially that cheesecake was the yummiest I ate in my life. Achu and I gobbled it up. I swear, if we were not getting late for the movie, I would have ordered one more. ๐Ÿ™‚

โ™ฅ ย I havenโ€™t been much interested in buying new home decor these days. Dont know why. At least, not as much as before. So, I decided to try fix the light problem in our house, and added three new lamps to our living room. Now, we are as bright as it can be. ๐Ÿ™‚

โ™ฅ ย Murali lost his passport sometime last week. We only found out about it over the weekend. And obviously losing Passport is not the good thing, but what I liked is, how we reacted to it. I was upset heavily at first, assuming this is the end of the world. It may be is, but then I realized if there is anything I learnt from the past experiences, it is to not lose the now good moments in it. So we cheered up, continued to meet with our friends L, who came over on Saturday. We forgot all about it and had a good time. L and I even watched a horror movie for fun. ๐Ÿ™‚ Next day, kids had a play date and then our gang of friends came home again. Guess why. To search for the passport. Overall, six adults looked almost every corner of the house, library, car, Muraliโ€™s work place for the thing. I felt amazing that we have such a good group. We later abandoned the search and went out to eat dinner, to celebrate Muraliโ€™s latest promotion. ๐Ÿ™‚

โ™ฅ ย The last best thing is, I finally took my first swimming lesson yesterday. It only took me couple of years to get there. ๐Ÿ™‚ But I am finally in the pool, learning to swim now. Hopefully I will be a prosoon. ๐Ÿ˜€

Summer 2017

Another year is done. Another Summer is gone. Where is time flying? We usually always keep waiting for Summers around here, but this is probably the first time, we seem to be enjoying what ever time we have. And I think we have kids growing up to thank for that. As they get older, it’s getting easy for us to navigate the coldness and the inconvenience that comes with it.

Anyway, this post is about Summer, I need to stop ranting about other stuff. ๐Ÿ™‚ So our summer this year was busy too. My parents were here, which was good help. Kids were grown up a bit more. We had a full size car with us. And fate decided to not torture us too much, so we could keep our heads above water and enjoy the time we had.

Every year, good weather and outdoor trips begin with Murali’s birthday. This year was his 40th milestone birthday. We had some fun. Before my parents joined, we went to this Deception Falls and we just loved it. Just at the right season, water flow was awesome. Some of the trail was still covered in water. We did the complete trial loop with kids and I realized how a little more grown-up kids are. ๐Ÿ™‚

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We attempted a proper full hike to Twin falls, but didn’t complete it. ๐Ÿ™‚

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On cloudy days, we went to a Gold Creek Pond. There still was a bit snow. But the view was beautiful.

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Couple of more mini-day trips here and there, to just let us get out of the house. This year, good weather came late to us. We were stuck with many of cold/raining days.

One of the long weekends, Murali and I went on a hike together after a long time to Poo Poo Point. I forgot to write about what all we did that weekend, but it was such a fun weekend.

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We bought a small-sized pool for kids and even with the minimum water we had in there, they had fun. ๐Ÿ™‚

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My parents came over here then, and with kid’s school we enjoyed a good day trip a ferry to a Mukilteo Island. We celebrated my dad’s birthday here. And also we made our Friday night dinners a more regular thing, so I was looking forward to them every week.

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We loved Deception Falls so much, we took our parents there again. Scenery and drive was quite beautiful.

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A long drive to Grand Coulee dam and ultimately finding a Soap Lake was wonderful. We didn’t know about this place before. We don’t have any warm water lakes here. Even in peak summer, water is cold. So this one was a wonderful surprise. We will go there again, in the coming year.

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Kids also turned five this year. Again, where did the last five years go? ๐Ÿ™‚

Then came the memorable time of my year. My break from work. Two good months. Luckily, I got to write about these separately, but I need to still write about kid’s first hiking trips this year. It was another great aspect of our summer.

We went to Mt St Helens and as well as Mt Baker before my parents left. Both the trips were day long trips and so worth it.

I am sure there was more here than I can remember now. Evenings we spent in the backyard with my parents; Having good food available; Scooter and bike rides; Our walks; Murali’s trips to India, London and Paris; Kid’s play dates – all the crazy and weird things they said and did. It was a good summer. ๐Ÿ™‚

Hawaii Trip – Oahu

Okay. If there is one post I must write this year, it’s about our most awesome Hawaii trip back in September. We have been waiting to go to Hawaii for don’t remember how long now, and it finally happened this year. After much of planning and discussions, we decided to head to Oahu. And it was the best decision ever. I think Hawaii is just such an awesome place, that no matter what you decide to do, where you go, you would love it.

We did this trip before I went back to work, so I had that thought in my head that when the trip ends, I need to go back to work, but as long as I was near water, I mostly forgot about the return trip. ๐Ÿ™‚

We chose to stay in a very busy Waikiki area, which was close to the beach, shopping, food etc and that was a great decision. We could step out of our condo, cross the street and head into water. Not to mention the awesome views from our place. We started with a 12th floor apartment, which wasnt good enough for me, so Murali got us moved to the 20th floor. Even more awesome view of the beach. We had a kitchen, lanai (balcony) with awesome views, some food we took over, and we had many fun moments in that lanai.

I can’t tell you what the best thing was. Is it the views or being in that warm water or having to wear what you want. I cant really decide. ๐Ÿ™‚

And because I am mostly writing this post for my memory, I will just copy paste my short trip memory here. We stayed there for 7 days, we did so much, so I wrote it all down in this form. We must have seen the pictures a dozen times. We are even getting special albums made, just for this trip. ๐Ÿ™‚

ย Day 1 : Thursday— Flight, check in, water Waikiki, walk around.

ย Day 2: Friday— water Waikiki, walk around, Tiki’s Maiย Tai, move to 20th floor.

ย Day 3: Saturday — morning walk groceries, Murali’s vankaya curry, car pickup, North shore drive, Waimea bay, Lunch by the beach, Waimea falls hike and swim, turtle bay resort, sunset beach park, Amazing food pickup.

ย Day 4: Sunday — Birthday breakfast, Wearing a romper :), Dole plantation, Waikiki water in the evening

ย Day 5: Monday— Waimanalo beach, Lanikai , Hanauma bay snorkelling,food pickup at the same Indian restaurant.

ย Day 6: Tuesday — Waikiki water morning, shopping,ย  Hula dance, Coconut water, Pizza dinner

ย Day 7: Wednesday — Waikiki water morning, parasailing, Cheesecake Factory dinner, Night walk and kids dancing on beach

ย Day 8: Thursday— Water morning again, checkout, shopping, Abhi in water, rest by the umbrella, Thai dinner, fly back.

Wasn’t it packed? Since we were staying so close, we did the Waikiki beach water many times. This pool was just so awesome. We sincerely thanked the inventors of floaties. They are awesome. ๐Ÿ™‚

Two things that didn’t go well were that because of the time difference, we were so tired. We would wake up early, but then stay late by our time standard and we just felt exhausted. As much fun as it was in the water, that tired us out too. Second thing, Abhi got sick on day 2. Poor thing, he is a water baby. He had a gala time on day 1, but until the day we came back, he was little hesitant to go in. He had fever + cold and it made it little hard for us to clean and change two kids when they were cold.

I also celebrated my birthday during this trip. Kids made me breakfast and we got to enjoy it in our amazing balcony. That was great.

I will leave with some pictures, and hope I will come back and write more about each day.

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This was the view from our balcony. We spent many good and memorable moments here.
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One of the many times we had so much fun in the water. You got to love that view. ๐Ÿ™‚
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One beautiful beach. One of many many. ๐Ÿ™‚
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Hula Dance by the beach.
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Murali and kids drew everyday of their view. Of course, Murali drew the right version. ๐Ÿ™‚

I am waiting for our printed albums. I do want to come back and write more then. ๐Ÿ™‚ This is one such amazing trip and we cant wait to go back. ๐Ÿ™‚