Wayfarer Family » explore, dream, discover

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Option #101: Other

When I was growing up I completed numerous research projects at school. My teachers would provide me with a long list of suggested project ideas, and the last option would be “other.” It was the option that would allow me to design my own project. Without fail, I always chose this option. Why I could not find satisfaction within the confines of a preplanned project was- and is- beyond me. I can still clearly hear my mom’s voice, colored with both exasperation and pride, as she’d explain to someone, “There could be 100 ideas on that list and Jenni will always pick #101, other.” Bless my mom’s heart for the countless hours she stayed up with me helping me finish those personalized projects… I can’t help but smile as I reminisce about one project in particular that involved grinding up moss in the blender to cover a giant Machu Picchu model…

Ticking that “other” box and taking the road less traveled are habits that have continued with me throughout my life, and I am so thankful that Isaac is just as eager to pursue our wild and crazy dreams. Moving abroad to teach in international schools eight years ago was certainly another “other” choice. It was one of the best decisions of our lives, and life abroad has enriched us in ways we never could have imagined when we signed our first teaching contract and prepared to move to Dubai. Isaac and I often sit and dream together. We talk about our goals and the steps necessary to build the kind of life we want, and through these discussions some new ideas and dreams started to bubble to the surface.

When we began to travel we quickly developed a love for photography. We deeply desired to capture the spirit of our adventures, both for ourselves and to share our experiences with others. Our passion for photography has grown steadily, and unexpectedly expanded into a little side business that we have enjoyed immensely. The ability to use our cameras to capture moments and tell stories was wonderfully addictive, and we were eager to continue growing and developing our craft. We began to wonder what life might be like if we pursued photography full time. We never really took our musings and discussions too seriously. Teaching was our passion and it provided us with incredible opportunities to wander and experience the world. Plus it was a safe, sound career decision that allowed us to meet our needs and then some. Why leave something that we loved and that provided us with security?

Then, enter Isla Grace Marshall. The love of our lives, and the catalyst for our big impending life change. After Isla was born we realized that we were torn between two passions, and two very different lifestyles. Finally, we came to the realization that we didn’t have to choose one or the other. Why not just build the kind of life that encompasses everything we want? The kind of life that allows us to enjoy both the comforts of home and experience the wonders of the world. The kind of life that allows Isla to grow up knowing her family and also form friendships with people from all walks of life. The kind of life that allows us to pursue creative passions, spend our days together, and provide opportunities to make connections with others all over the world. And with that realization, we once again decided to tick the #101: other box.

Come June we are shifting from one passion to another, stepping aside from teaching and moving into photography full time. It feels so crazy to say it aloud. We still can’t believe we are making the leap. But we are. The “other” box has been ticked. We are going for it.

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We are still finessing the logistics, and we suspect that this will be the kind of career that is fluid and constantly evolving. We plan to base ourselves in Oregon (between Portland and our beach cottage on the central coast) for about half of the year, working as wedding and lifestyle portrait photographers. Then when the holidays are over, we plan to pack our bags and travel internationally for photo jobs for the remaining months of the year. As we get started, we are hoping to rely on our wonderfully gracious international friends to help us secure jobs around the globe (wink, wink). We cannot wait to revisit our favorite places, and explore future favorites! Wayfarer Studio will indeed be a wayfaring studio!

The decision to move on from teaching and into photography brings up so many conflicting emotions: excitement, uncertainty, joy, sadness… The past eight years abroad have been amazing and life-changing. Our hearts ache when we think about bidding farewell to the incredible community that we are apart of in Shanghai. It is hard to express how much we will miss experiencing the joy of working with such incredible children each day. Yet, the thought of spending our days with Isla, working together to create beautiful, meaningful art for others, and the opportunities for our little family to explore the world together is so exciting to us!

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140630Winema_0025140929HongKong_0015140401Phuket_0003We are so excited to finally be able share our big news with you. Ticking the “other” box and taking the leap into this new adventure has been scary at times, but we are thankful to have so many loving, encouraging and supportive friends and family to share our journey with along the way. Who knows where this will take us, but we are excited to continue to build a beautiful, adventurous and fulfilling life for our family.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Kelli Griffin - December 5, 2014 - 1:55 pm

LOVE this!!! You guys are amazing! Way to “tick” outside the box! wah waaaahhh…! ;)

Jan Crocker LaRocca - December 5, 2014 - 2:23 pm

Excited for you and willing to (metaforically) grind that moss in the blender again and again. xoxo

Tindley Whipple Gilbert - December 5, 2014 - 2:55 pm

Wow!!! Many congratulations! As long as we’re here in Dubai, you’ll have a client here!! Otherwise, we’ll see you wherever we end up!! Btw: love the quote!!

Maj Kyle - December 5, 2014 - 2:58 pm

Congratulation Jen and Isaac. I think that you are Soooooooooo talented and will do fabulously.
All the best and bonne courage!

Aida Tabshouri Laubach - December 5, 2014 - 3:17 pm

Congratulations and all the best with your new BIG step! Hope to see you in Dubai in the near future. Love the write-up and the photos; the faces & the feet ;-).

Zack McKamie - December 5, 2014 - 7:52 pm

Just Cool.

Paddy Jo Swan Storvold - December 6, 2014 - 4:16 am

How wonderful! I know you will make a lasting mark on the world of photography, just like you did in education, Jen! All the best to you and your beautiful family!!

Kim Scarloss Gundle - December 6, 2014 - 11:59 am

Best of luck to you! It’s a big step, but the reality is that you have a passion and a talent in photography as well as in teaching. I look forward to seeing some of your work!

Cassandra Varnell - December 6, 2014 - 2:38 pm

Sounds like a wonderful new adventure awaits! Contrats!!

Kyle Cooke - December 6, 2014 - 2:46 pm

Now I get why you changed your profile picture to that one. Trying to show off your talent. I look forward to more shots of amazing random models with amazing random babies.

Ann Laros-Weaver - December 8, 2014 - 3:33 pm

Exciting news! We wish you the best of luck and offer a port in Dubai;-). We need to update our family photos so when you pass through please make time for us on your dance card.

Halloween

Well, here I am posting about Halloween… a week after Thanksgiving! Yeah, that’s just the way things are going around here these days. The holidays are upon us and it seems the days are growing shorter while our to-do lists are growing exponentially longer… busy, busy, busy! And since I am realistically not going to get around to writing a separate post about Thanksgiving, it is worth noting that ours was great! Isla ate her weight in turkey and our family favorite, peas and pickles. She is too cute! Anyhow, back to Halloween…

Halloween001So, I’ll just go ahead and throw this out there, I am a holiday junkie. Decorations, tasty treats, festive music, themed clothing… I truly cannot get enough. As soon as October 1st rolls around (okay, okay, mid-September), I kick off the holiday season and start celebrating. I’ve been collecting cute Halloween outfits and accessories for Isla for the last year, and I’ll be darned if she wasn’t wearing something Halloween or fall-related every single day in October. I had SO much fun dressing her up, and she seemed totally tickled to be wearing such cute clothes too- especially if there happened to be kitty somewhere on her outfit. I did my best to try and take photos of all her cute little Halloween clothes when I could, but Baby Girl and the weather both took some turns at being uncooperative, so my documentation was limited. I still managed to capture our little pumpkin in much of her festive fall collection…

Halloween002Kitty outfit (Isla was obsessed with the kitty faces on her knees!)Halloween003Halloween005Halloween006I love this darling shirt!Halloween007Halloween008Isn’t this candy corn onesie the cutest?! Truth be told, I can’t stand to eat them, but I sure love them as decoration!Halloween009Halloween010We have a gazillion of these sweet hair clips. They are perfect for fine, delicate baby hair.Halloween011This girl is obsessed with cats! Kitty pantsHalloween012Outfit and bow headband (we bought a bunch of bow clips from this vendor as well and they are awesome!)Halloween013Halloween014Halloween015Halloween016Halloween017Halloween018Isla’s Grauntie (great auntie) bought this fun jack-o-lantern outfit for her.Halloween019

Telling Piglet what’s what.

141020Isla_0008I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to re-post a few of Isla’s birthday outfit pictures! Her custom pumpkin onesie and tutu were both insanely cute!141020Isla_0017

I thought long and hard about Isla’s Halloween costume. Last year she was only 2 weeks old and she spent Halloween cozied up in her pumpkin jammies and knit pumpkin hat. It was darling, but this year Isla needed her first real Halloween costume. I was determined to think up something that was quirky and unique. During our walks around the neighborhood I often found my mind drifting to thoughts of costumes, and Isaac patiently listened to me as I rattled off gazillions of ideas. Looking back, I’m not sure why it took me so long to decide upon Isla’s costume. It was sitting right there in front of me, on my dinner plate, several times a week. Of course! We’d wrap her in a crunchy shell, along with some lettuce and shredded cheese, and make her a taco!

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Once the costume decision was made I picked up some large pieces of felt and my trusty glue gun and got to work! I created my own pattern via trial and error out of butcher paper. To keep the taco on, I hot glued a few pieces of black ribbon to the inner edges of each side of the taco (one set just above the shoulder and one set about mid-torso). and then secured them around Isla in loose bows. It took a little convincing to keep Isla from pulling her taco costume off at first. Lucky for us, this girl is a ham and loves to be cheered for and clapped at, so it didn’t take long for her to realize she got lots of attention when she kept the taco costume on.

Halloween021Our school hosts a wonderful Halloween Carnival each year, and I couldn’t wait for Isla to attend. Unfortunately, she awoke on the morning of the carnival with a fever and terrible runny nose. Pretty rotten timing to experience her first cold! She seemed to improve a bit during the day, so I gave her some Tylenol and brought her to the carnival for about an hour. She was such a little trooper, and had so much fun watching all the excitement and dancing to the music.

Halloween022Halloween023To keep with the theme, I dressed up as a taco truck, and Isaac was El Tapatio hot sauce. Hooray for homemade costumes!

 

Isla was totally fascinated with our pumpkins. She’d squat next to them and pat them affectionately.  She tried her hardest to pick them up and carry them around the house. Every time a pumpkin was within sight, she’d point and say, “ga ga” (pumpkin in Chinese is “nangua”). Given her interest, we decided to open a pumpkin up on Halloween to let her experience the slimy joy of exploring its stringy, gooey insides…

Halloween024But Baby Girl would have none of it! Check out that face…Halloween025She decided playing percussion on the top of the oven was far more enjoyable!Halloween026

I think Isla will be a holiday lover just like I am. Seriously. Here she is on November 1st…Halloween027

She insisted that her pumpkin sit up on her high chair tray during her breakfast. That’s my girl! I can’t wait to help her fall madly in love with Christmas!

 

Karen Blanton - December 4, 2014 - 7:46 pm

Love your pictures. Isla is such a cutie pie.

Xiǎo nánguā: Our Little Pumpkin’s 1st Birthday Party

For Isla’s first birthday we decided on a Little Pumpkin (xiǎo nánguā) theme. I’ve dreamed about throwing parties for my (future) children for years, and I’ll admit I may have started planning this party before Isla had even been born! Pinterest was my accomplice and I had grand visions for her celebration… little pumpkin shaped sandwiches, soft white and burlap accents, perfectly shaped pumpkin cake pops and cupcakes, custom paper products, neatly wrapped presents (all in coordinating orange, tan and white, of course)… yes, my mind set the bar pretty darn high.

The days leading up to Isla’s birthday were a whirlwind, with report card comments being due, my mom arriving, and countless last minute hand-made party preparations that should have been started weeks earlier… ah, nothing like leaving things until the last minute! And, as it often happens when you wait until this last minute, things didn’t go exactly as I had planned… Starting with the orange candy melts and pumpkin shaped cookie cutter I  purchased specifically for Isla’s party vanishing into thin air. We turned the house upside down, and to this day we still cannot find them! Next, my fine motor skills decided to take a vacation as I attempted to create the seemingly simple pumpkin shaped desserts I had pinned, and everything I touched seemed to crumble… no pun intended. Argh! And presents? I never even got around to wrapping them! Luckily, I had my amazing mom, super supportive hubby, and dear friend Frannie by my side to help me with all of the preparations, push through my frustrations, and focus on the fun side of things (lots of “Pinterest Fail” jokes were made). Yeah, the chocolate cupcake recipe I chose flopped (literally and figuratively) and my pumpkin icing job didn’t look half as cute or polished as the online image that I was attempting to replicate, but in the grand scheme of things it didn’t matter. Nor did the fact that our sandwiches had to be cut into neat little triangles instead of pumpkins. Mom, Isaac and Frannie helped me bring so many of my other ideas into reality and found creative ways to improvise when necessary. The party was still absolutely beautiful, so much fun, attended by dozens of our dearest friends and Shanghai family who love our little girl, and most importantly, it celebrated our precious Isla’s first year of life! We truly couldn’t have asked for a better party…

141018Isla1stBDayParty_0001141018Isla1stBDayParty_0002Isaac designed all of the pumpkin prints and we put them in frames we already had around the house. He also created darling coordinating menu tent cards.

141018Isla1stBDayParty_0007141018Isla1stBDayParty_0003We created a little dessert bar in our entertainment center, which, interestingly enough has NEVER held a TV in the 3+ years we’ve had it!141018Isla1stBDayParty_0004God bless my mom, who, in a burst of creative energy at 1:00am, experimented with yellow candy melts and red food coloring to create these sweet pumpkin oreo pops. Thank you, Mom!141018Isla1stBDayParty_0006141018Isla1stBDayParty_0005141018Isla1stBDayParty_0008I tried to create a lunch menu that kept with a fall theme and was fairly simple to prepare. I looked for recipes that we could make ahead of time to help make the day-of set up a little easier. Isla’s birthday lunch included:

- Turkey sandwiches with caper mayonnaise, lettuce and cheese

- Ham sandwiches with pesto mayonnaise, lettuce and cheese

- Harvest pumpkin soup sippers with crumbled blue cheese, bacon, and pumpkin seed toppers (Amazing and so easy to make! I’ve included the recipe at the end of this post)

- Autumn salad (romaine with apples, pears, bacon, red onion and pumpkin seeds)

- Warm spinach and artichoke dip with rustic bread

- Carrot Hummus with veggies

For dessert we made:

- Chocolate cupcakes with vanilla butter cream frosting

- Pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

- Oreo pops

For munchies, we put out pretzel sticks, candy corn, chocolates, and these addictive pumpkin spice yogurt covered pretzels

Out on the deck we filled a huge tub with ice and stocked it with bubbly, beers, sodas and waters.

No one would leave hungry or thirsty, that was for sure!

141018Isla1stBDayParty_0009141018Isla1stBDayParty_0010141018Isla1stBDayParty_0011141018Isla1stBDayParty_0012Thanks to some wonderfully talented Etsy crafters, Isla wore the cutest little birthday outfit…

141018Isla1stBDayParty_0013Custom pumpkin onesie | Orange tutu | Sweet hair bow141018Isla1stBDayParty_0014141018Isla1stBDayParty_0015Isla LOVES this pumpkin soup!

141018Isla1stBDayParty_0016141018Isla1stBDayParty_0017141018Isla1stBDayParty_0018Our birthday girl loved her pumpkin cupcake… especially the cream cheese frosting!141018Isla1stBDayParty_0019141018Isla1stBDayParty_0020141018Isla1stBDayParty_0021Sharing with Daddy, such a sweetie!141018Isla1stBDayParty_0022A little frosting for the eyebrow…141018Isla1stBDayParty_0023141018Isla1stBDayParty_0024141018Isla1stBDayParty_0025141018Isla1stBDayParty_0026We were SO thankful to have so many of our dear Shanghai friends and family come celebrate Isla’s birthday with us!141018Isla1stBDayParty_0027141018Isla1stBDayParty_0028141018Isla1stBDayParty_0029Isla was absolutely spoiled with such fun, sweet and thoughtful gifts!141018Isla1stBDayParty_0030Our buddies, Poppy and Oliver, taught Isla all about the joy of unwrapping presents. They were wonderfully enthusiastic helpers!141018Isla1stBDayParty_0031141018Isla1stBDayParty_0032141018Isla1stBDayParty_0033141018Isla1stBDayParty_0034141018Isla1stBDayParty_0035We created a thank you card from one of our favorites of the birthday girl, who is clearly SO proud to be one year old!

141018Isla1stBDayParty_0036That evening, Isla wore her new kitty pajamas from her Nana and Papa while she played with her new toys and read her new books.

As promised, here is the AMAZING pumpkin soup we served at Isla’s party that is fast becoming a fall favorite. I adapted the recipe slightly from this site.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium red onion, minced
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (I use a rounded 1/2 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cans chicken broth
1 (15-oz) can pure pumpkin purée
1/4 – 1/3 cup maple syrup
1/2-3/4 cup heavy cream
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Blue cheese crumbles
Toasted walnuts
Pumpkin seeds

Directions:

In a large pot melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic, cumin, coriander and nutmeg and cook until fragrant, about 60 seconds.
Stir in the pumpkin, broth and maple syrup and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before working in batches to purée the soup in a blender until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Return the soup to a clean pot. Stir in the cream. Heat the soup gently over low heat until hot (do not boil). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle soup into serving bowls and sprinkle with blue cheese crumbles, bacon and pumpkin seeds, if you wish.
Evelyn LeRose - November 19, 2014 - 2:13 am

You are unbelievable. What a great mom and dad. Isla will have great memories of all these birthdays when she looks at the photos years later.

Isla is ONE!

Though a month has passed since her birthday, I still cannot get over the fact that our baby is ONE! A whole YEAR old! How did that happen so quickly?

141020Isla_0001We now have this spunky, chatty, amazingly observant, and constantly-evolving one year old confidently toddling all over the house and impressing us with new words and skills each day. Watching her grow and develop is truly amazing!

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141020Isla_0009As far as physical developments, Isla finished out her first year at 22 lbs and 30 inches in length. She has measured in the 85th percentile for both weight and height pretty consistently throughout her little life, and Daddy is hopeful of a successful basketball career in her future. Isla took her first steps during our Hong Kong trip in the beginning of October, and has steadily gained balance and momentum. She’s moving all over the house now and absolutely loves to climb the stairs, and practice sliding off of the couch.

141020Isla_0007Several days before her birthday, Isla finally cut her first tooth… her top left front tooth, oddly enough. You can just barely see it in the above left photo. Teething has made for rough sleeping conditions for all, and Mommy and Daddy are awaiting the return of a full night’s sleep with great anticipation! (At 13 months she now has 5 little teeth, with that top tooth showing predominantly, which we have affectionately dubbed her “hillbilly tooth.” It’s too funny!)

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141020Isla_0003Isla’s coordination and fine motor skills are quite strong. She can pick up teeny tiny crumbs, “cheers” her water bottle with our glasses, and turn the pages of her board books with ease. Even more impressive is her ability to pick up our chapter books and practice fanning the pages with her thumb. She’ll sit by herself, fascinated with a single book, for upwards of 10 minutes! She’ll examine it from every angle, giggling at the flutter of the pages. While Isla enjoys exploring books on her own, there is nothing she loves more than having us read to her! Snuggled together next to a small tower of books, we read for at least half an hour each day. Isla has memorized many of the stories, and she can anticipate when her favorite pictures or phrases are approaching. She often giggles, points, and tries to read along. Closely behind her love for books would have to be her love for cats. She absolutely adores them and kisses every cat- real or illustrated- that she can!

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Incredibly observant since birth, Isla can spot birds, mere flecks, flying through the sky, and points out the tiniest ants skittering across the floor- from clear across the room! Her hearing is excellent too, and at the faintest dog bark in the distance, she’ll stop what she is doing, point her index finger straight up and say, “oof oof!” Even more humorous is when Isla hears Isaac blow his nose. She immediately claps her hand over her own nose and mouth and says, “Thpppp!” Oh, the days of mimicry are in full swing!

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Isla is quite the social butterfly and loves to interact with others. Shyness occasionally takes over, especially if people are particularly loud or quick with their movements, but most of the time she is quite the little charmer. Isla recognizes many people I work with at the lower school from her daily lunchtime visits, and remembers the unique routines and interactions she has with each, such as playing peek-a-boo with one, or high-fiving with another.

141020Isla_0006141020Isla_0017Isla’s vocabulary is growing daily, and by her first birthday she recognized a number of words in both Mandarin and English. Her first spoken words have been mix of the two languages as well…

- “da da” and “ba ba” (Mandarin for Dad)

- “bup” (book)

- “No!” (You can imagine how much we love this word! Ugh.)

- “Uh oh!” (Her daddy’s first word!)

- “ga ga” (nangua, the Mandarin word for “pumpkin”)

Our amazing ayi, Sue, has taught Isla to respond to a number of Mandarin cues the same way Chinese children do, and it is too cute for words! Whenever we say, “xie xie” (Mandarin for “thank you”) Isla clasps her hands together and shakes them up and down. If we say “xǐshǒu” (Mandarin for “wash hands”) Isla rubs her hands together. When Isla hears “da pi pi” she, like the command states, pats her own bottom. She waves goodbye when she hears both “Bye bye,” and “Zàijiàn.”141020Isla_0008While Isla’s will is strong, and she is beginning to test the boundaries a bit, she has maintained her easygoing, joyful attitude, and for this we could not be more thankful! Her sweet smiles, cuddles and giggles bring us more joy than we ever knew possible, and we can hardly wait to see what the future has in store for our precious girl.

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Happy first birthday, Little Pumpkin! We love you more than words, and cannot even begin to tell you how much joy you bring us! Each moment with you is an incredible gift, and we are so excited to continue this journey with you during your second year of life.

 

Hong Kong

For the first time since moving to Shanghai we decided to travel during the October holiday break, and took the short flight down to Hong Kong. Our timing was certainly exciting, as we arrived just as the protests, known as the Umbrella Revolution, began to gain some momentum. Though the main roadways directly behind our hotel were blocked, and the art school next door seemed to act as a sort of rest and refueling stop for the protesters, our visit was not impacted by the protests… other than finding it difficult to get taxis at times. Everyone we came into contact with was very calm and peaceful, although their saran-wrapped arms indicated their preparedness for the tear gas used by the police previously. It has been several weeks since our visit and the protests continue…

140928HongKong_0001140928HongKong_0002On our first evening in Hong Kong, we met up with friends we had worked with in Dubai for a lovely dinner. The restaurant boasted beautiful views, and it was wonderful to introduce Isla to Mark and Lori, and catch up over the past 3 years. Unfortunately, we were so caught up in conversation that we didn’t take any photos.140928HongKong_0003140928HongKong_0004Isla’s latest obsession: carrying around tubes of our toothpaste. Too funny!140928HongKong_0005140929HongKong_0001No taxis? No problem! We just headed underground, so that Isla could experience her first subway ride. Hong Kong is so amazingly clean and organized. Navigating the subway system was easy peasy.140929HongKong_0002Look what we found! Nana J and Nana S, we’re always thinking of you!

140929HongKong_0003We spent our first full day at Victoria Peak. After navigating our way through the city to the Sky Tram station, we rode the charming little tram up the steep mountainside so that we could enjoy some of the most beautiful views in Hong Kong.

140929HongKong_0004It’s so hard to tell, but in the above left picture, we are moving almost vertically up the mountain. Hong Kong’s geography is very mountainous, and how the city has been developed and built into the steep inclines of the terrain is absolutely fascinating… and exhausting! Stairs, escalators, and lots of uphill paths made the trip with a baby stroller tricky, to say the least!140929HongKong_0005The Peak, a large mall with a viewing platform offered gorgeous, sweeping views of the city!

140929HongKong_0006140929HongKong_0007140929HongKong_0008140929HongKong_0009Isla made friends wherever we went… here she is waving to her adoring fans.140929HongKong_0010140929HongKong_0012140929HongKong_0011140929HongKong_0013140929HongKong_0014We were LOVING all the beautiful greenery and nature! Less than 25% of Hong Kong’s landmass is developed, and much of the natural land is protected, as parks and reserves.140929HongKong_0015140929HongKong_0016A short walk (uphill!) from The Peak is Mount Austin Park. The grounds are meticulously manicured, and the park is absolutely charming. Though it was hot and humid, Isla enjoyed swinging and clambering around on the play equipment.140929HongKong_0017140929HongKong_0018140929HongKong_0019This girl is full of silly faces these days!

140929HongKong_0020140929HongKong_0022I cannot get enough of this pose- arms flung up into the air as if she is queen of the world!

140929HongKong_0024Miss Observant showing Daddy the birds in the sky.

140929HongKong_0025As fun as the park was, the heat and humidity won out after about a half an hour, so we headed back down the hill a bit in search of shadier surroundings. We found the Pok Fu Lam Tree Walk, right next to The Peak, and decided to take a little stroll. This leisurely walk circled the top of Victoria Peak in just over 2km, and unlike many other trails in Hong Kong, was very stroller friendly!140929HongKong_0026140929HongKong_0027140929HongKong_0028140929HongKong_0029140929HongKong_0030140929HongKong_0031140929HongKong_0032140929HongKong_0033Approaching The Peak at the end of our walk.

140929HongKong_0034Back down the Sky Tram.

140929HongKong_0035Protesters and pedestrians walking along the major roadways behind our hotel.

140929HongKong_0036140929HongKong_0037Little Popeye!

140929HongKong_0038Isaac went out in search of a little street food for dinner, and Isla could not get enough of these noodles!

140929HongKong_0039140929HongKong_0040Snuggles before bed time… pure bliss!

140929HongKong_0041140930HongKong_0001The next morning Isla decided to take her first steps… unfortunately they took her right off the edge of the bed! Still, that didn’t dampen her spirit and we were able to catch her second steps on camera!

Our friends Cal, Sherry, and Lucas joined us later that day and were with us for the remainder of our stay in Hong Kong! We stopped by a little hole in the wall restaurant to pick up some lunch on our way to their hotel.140930HongKong_0002140930HongKong_0003140930HongKong_0004140930HongKong_0005140930HongKong_0006That afternoon we enjoyed swimming together in the Grand Hyatt’s gorgeous swimming pool!

140930HongKong_0007140930HongKong_0008140930HongKong_0009140930HongKong_0010140930HongKong_0011LOVE this photo of the daddies with their kiddos!

140930HongKong_0012140930HongKong_0013140930HongKong_0014140930HongKong_0015140930HongKong_0016140930HongKong_0017140930HongKong_0018That evening we went to an AMAZING yakitori restaurant called Yard Bird. We enjoyed several bottles of saki and dined on one delicious item after another. I swear we ordered nearly everything on the menu and devoured it all. So, so good!140930HongKong_0019140930HongKong_0020140930HongKong_0021Isla sampled just about everything we had as well…

140930HongKong_0022but decided sucking on lemon slices was the most fun.

140930HongKong_0023140930HongKong_0024Day 2 of the Marshall/Wong family adventures included a subway ride out to Ngong Ping to see the Big Buddha. Upon arriving to the cable car station we were met with a massively long line. The idea of standing out in the heat and humidity for hours with two little ones was not appealing in the least. After questioning a few employees, we found out there was an option to buy a tour ticket, which included a visit to a local fishing village for slightly more money and were fast-tracked to the front of the veeeeery long line. Money well spent!141001HongKong_0001141001HongKong_0002141001HongKong_0003Isla absolutely loved the cable car ride, and she watched out the window so intently! Much of the ride took us directly over hiking paths, and Isla enthusiastically waved to all of the hikers below.141001HongKong_0004141001HongKong_0005141001HongKong_0006141001HongKong_0007141001HongKong_0009141001HongKong_0008141001HongKong_0010See the Big Buddha towards the top left of the photo?

141001HongKong_0011141001HongKong_0012The first part of the tour took us to a nearby fishing village, Tai O, whose main export was dried fish… and yes, it smelled just as glorious as you’d imagine. Shortly after we arrived and were preparing to board a little boat for a tour, the skies opened up and it began pouring! We decided to forgo the boat trip and waited out the rain undercover. Once it stopped we still had a few minutes to wander through the town before returning to our tour.

141001HongKong_0013141001HongKong_0014141001HongKong_0015141001HongKong_0016141001HongKong_0017We decided to skip out on the rest of the tour and walked up the 268 steps to the Buddha on our own.141001HongKong_0018141001HongKong_0019141001HongKong_0020141001HongKong_0021141001HongKong_0022After a long day of sight-seeing we returned to the city and decided to check out Ozone, the world’s highest bar. From the 108th floor we sipped on outrageously-priced, but yummy, beverages and enjoyed the gorgeous view.141001HongKong_0023141001HongKong_0024These two just make me melt!141001HongKong_0025141001HongKong_0026141001HongKong_0027141001HongKong_0028141002HongKong_0001Before flying back to Shanghai we were able to enjoy a little more pool time. Unfortuanately we had already checked our bags into the airport using the Airport Express (seriously, why doesn’t every city have this?! Amazing!), so we didn’t have Isla’s swim gear, but Baby Girl didn’t mind… even when her regular diaper swelled to like 5 times its normal size!141002HongKong_0002141002HongKong_0003When she’d had enough swimming practice, Isla decided to perfect her new walking skills around the pool…141002HongKong_0004and we caught a quick glimpse of the pool-side streaker!141002HongKong_0005