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Happy birthday, Isaac!

Happy birthday, my love! Today you begin your 35th year and I am so thrilled to be celebrating with you!

Last night when you arrived home, Isla greeted you with, “Happy birthday, Daddy!” You looked at me and smiled. My cover was blown and you knew we had been practicing for today. That’s okay though. I want you to know that we adore you and are always thinking of you.


On May 27, 1980 the world became a better place because of you. Seriously, babe. Your kindness, integrity, compassion, humor, thoughtfulness, understanding, creativity, and loving heart have positively affected so many people all around the world. You inspire me to better myself simply by being you. Now I have the joy of watching you inspire our beautiful Isla. You are helping to shape her into such a wonderful little person. My heart melts every time I see her big blue eyes fixated on you. I can’t help but laugh as I watch her mimic your words and movements. She adores you, and I can not imagine a better person for her to wish to emulate.

Your 35th year is sure to be exciting! We are changing continents, homes, careers, and our way of life for the past 8 years. As we prepare to set off on our new adventure together, we are facing many uncertainties, but this I know will always be true: I love you with all of my heart.

So, in keeping with tradition and in honor of your 35th year, here are 35 things (some sentimental, some silly) that I love about you:

1. I love your beautiful heart

2. I love that you are a loving, patient, and playful Daddy to Isla

3. I love how you put peanut butter on everything… yes, even pancakes (gasp!)

And speaking of pancakes…

4. I love that you make the world’s best pancakes, with crispy edges

5. I love dreaming about the future with you

6. I love how you mimic the cats to make me laugh

7. I love that you are adventurous and eager to experience new places and cultures

8. I love how you snuggle me on your chest every night as we fall asleep

9. I love that you wheel my motorbike out for me each morning- those little acts of thoughtfulness mean so much!

10. I love and admire your patience… seriously. You are amazing!

11. I love how you curl your toes when you’re tired

12. I love when you laugh so hard that you can’t stop and tears form in your eyes

13. I love your ability to find ways to be artistic and creative in all you do

14. I love that you recognize my efforts and are so appreciative… thank you!

15. I love the look you give me after we put Isla to bed every night… filled with love, gratitude, and pride for our baby girl

16. I love how much you love your family, and how you treat my family as your own

17. I love that we share a mutual obsession for tacos

18. I love how you act with integrity and kindness… always

19. I love that you are meditative and look for ways to grow yourself

20. I love that you battle the craziness of RT Mart, so that I don’t have to

21. I love how you perch on the couch with a steaming cup of coffee and your sketch book

22.  I love how you squeeze my hand and smile at me

23. I love that you make the world’s best smoothies

24. I love how you skip sand dollars at the beach

25. I love your cute buns… yeah, I went there.

26. I love your passion to learn

27. I love how handsome you look with that beard

28. I love that you are my biggest fan… pun intended

29. I love how you quote old movies and TV shows

30. I love that you proofread my writing (hope I didn’t make any mistakes!)

31. I love that you are loyal and caring

32. I love how you read aloud to me

33. I love that trusting smile you give me when I’ve convinced you to hop on board of one of my crazy ideas

34. I love when you give me foot rubs … and then end them with the funny clapping movements like they do in Thailand… you’re such a ham!

35. I love, love, love how greatly you love… me… Isla… our families… friends… others… the world around you.


Happy happy birthday, my sweet Isaac! I am so grateful to have you in my life and look forward to celebrating many, many more birthdays together!!!


Portrait a Week: 20 of 52

PortraitAWeek_0020Our little artist having a contemplative zen moment after a flurry of painting.

Jan Crocker LaRocca - May 24, 2015 - 6:13 pm

Love. xoxo

The Perfect Mother’s Day

Motherhood has been the greatest gift in my life! Sure, there are challenges, but even on the hardest days I find myself wondering how I could ever be so fortunate to have such an amazing little family. Isaac and Isla bring me immeasurable amounts of joy, and I am so thankful to them for showering me with love every day of the year. Mother’s Day feels like icing on the top of an already incredible cake! My second Mother’s Day… where to begin? Each and every little detail reflected the thought and effort that went into creating a day that I would love. And I loved it so much! It was truly perfect, and my sweet husband’s thoughtfulness meant the world to me.

150510MothersDay001150510MothersDay002150510MothersDay018Isaac had everything planned and made all of our delicious meals. Our morning started with family snuggles in bed and a wonderful back massage. When we came downstairs, Isaac poured mimosas and I opened gifts.150510MothersDay003150510MothersDay004150510MothersDay005150510MothersDay006My sweeties collaborated on this beautiful piece, and I still cannot stop staring at it! Isaac hand-lettered my favorite of all of Isla’s sweet toddler phrases, “I yuh you, Mommy,” on top of one of Isla’s beautiful paintings.150510MothersDay007150510MothersDay008150510MothersDay009Isaac also created a gorgeous book with all of our weekly belly photos from our pregnancy with Isla. My heart fluttered and I could not stop grinning as I looked back through these images and remembered all of the excitement we felt anticipating Isla’s arrival. Isla loved looking through the book as well, and enthusiastically identified us both in each image.150510MothersDay010150510MothersDay011150510MothersDay012150510MothersDay013150510MothersDay014“Mommy, purple shirt.”150510MothersDay015“Mommy, red shirt.”150510MothersDay016“Mi-yuh!!!”150510MothersDay017My sweet girl and her painting… I yuh YOU, Isla!150510MothersDay019Isaac then set to work making breakfast while Isla rearranged the spice drawer. She must take after her Nana J.150510MothersDay020150510MothersDay021150510MothersDay022150510MothersDay023We enjoyed a delicious breakfast of strawberry pancakes and bacon. Yum!150510MothersDay024150510MothersDay025After breakfast, I sipped on my mimosa while Isaac gave me a foot massage (could life get any better?!) and Isla practiced her yoga.150510MothersDay026Isla does not usually watch TV, but we have made an exception for this wonderful yoga video. Isla absolutely loves it and I am amazed that at one and a half she is already beginning to learn some basic poses! I am really hoping we can find some good Mommy and Me yoga classes when we return to Portland this summer. Anyone have any suggestions?150510MothersDay027150510MothersDay028After our leisurely morning together, we hopped on our bikes and rode to Zhou Pu Park for a picnic lunch. It was a gorgeous day and I am so glad we spent so much time outside.150510MothersDay029150510MothersDay030While everyone was watching Isla…150510MothersDay031150510MothersDay032she was busily picking up every twig in the park. Literally.150510MothersDay033150510MothersDay034150510MothersDay035Isla also got to go on her first carousel ride. She was not sure what to think about it at first. I could feel her getting nervous, so I started chanting, “Up, down, up, down,” along with the horse’s movements, and that seemed to help her relax. Before long she was cheering along with me, “Up, down, up, down!” A week later she still says, “Up, down, up, down! Horsies!”150510MothersDay036150510MothersDay037150510MothersDay038150510MothersDay039150510MothersDay040150510MothersDay041We settled down in a quieter area of the park on a little patch of grass to enjoy our picnic lunch. Isaac made quite a spread!150510MothersDay042150510MothersDay043150510MothersDay044Isla devoured the sun-dried tomato hummus like it was her business.150510MothersDay045150510MothersDay046150510MothersDay047150510MothersDay048We forgot forks, so used “carrot chopsticks” instead. Smart thinking, Ikey.150510MothersDay049150510MothersDay050150510MothersDay051150510MothersDay052We are slowly getting more used to all of the random strangers who pick Isla up and pose for photos. Baby Girl’s face says it all… totally cracks me up!150510MothersDay053Bring your tent to the park and camp for the day!150510MothersDay054Love these two so much!!! Thank you for making me a Mommy!150510MothersDay055Once Isla went down for her nap we popped a bottle of bubbly and spent the afternoon in the backyard, basking in the sunshine. Absolute perfection! Thank you, thank you, thank you, Isaac and Isla for such a wonderful Mother’s Day celebration.

Sandy Marshall - May 17, 2015 - 3:47 pm

Such a sweet day! One thing this demonstrates is how much the little things we can do for each other shows so much love!! Papa and Nana look forward to introducing Isla to our special Merry go round here at home!! Love you all so much! God has blessed you with a great love! Many Mother’s Day’s ahead to cherish along the way! <3

Portrait a Week: 19 of 52

PortraitAWeek_0019Isaac and Isla collaborated on this beautiful painting for me in honor of Mother’s Day…  I will treasure it forever!

Mother’s Day 2015

My beautiful wife,
If there was one thing I knew for sure when I married you, it’s that you were going to be an amazing mother. Your warmth, loving heart, gentle spirit, and caring soul would most certainly translate to being the kind of mom that any child would love and adore. I’m so grateful we had our time together, just the two of us… traveling, adventuring, relaxing, living. However, throughout that time, I couldn’t wait for us to be a family. I don’t know if there was anything I looked forward to more than to see you as a mother.


Fast forward to the arrival of our sweet Isla Grace, and the vision I had is far surpassed by the reality of who you are as a mother with our beautiful child today.


It’s nearly impossible for me to explain how I feel when I see you embracing our little girl… snuggling her, protecting her, experiencing her. I am continually amazed with your dedication to being her mother.


You were meant to be doing this.


If every mother were like you, we would be surrounded by a world of peace, unending kindness, deep empathy, and, most importantly, unconditional love.


I see so much of you in Isla already. Compassionate, inquisitive, creative, sharp as a tack, snuggly, independent, loving… the list goes on and on.


Every day with our little family is better than the last. I find myself wondering, “how could it get any better than this?” And then, little by little, it becomes something even more brilliant. Something more enchanting. Getting to see Isla blossom each day with you by my side to soak up every wonderful moment… my heart can barely contain the fullness of love.


Happy Mother’s Day to a Mom that is deserving of every day being specially dedicated to her awesomeness. You are the love of our lives!

Jan Crocker LaRocca - May 13, 2015 - 3:29 am

Love you all. Couldn’t have wanted anything more for Jenni than you, Isaac, and Isla. My heart is content and joyful.

Brittney Braun - May 13, 2015 - 3:56 am

Cried my eyes out this whole post!! Perfect partner for my best friend. Love how you love them. So inspiring for a single gal.