2017 has been an exciting year — no doubt about that! We’ve climbed mountains, swam in the ocean, we moved, traveled thousands of miles, and seen some incredible sights. I saw Jimmy reach some amazing new milestones, making me prouder to be his mom each and every day. And I also tried to focus on my personal well-being by reading more and investing in some of my strengths and professional goals (like writing!) — 2017 is also the year I started my family travel blog!
These are my top ten memories from the whole year:
1) Watching Jimmy experience the lantern festival
I had seen dozens of pictures from lantern festivals from all over the world, but still didn’t know what to expect going to our first one this year and it did not disappoint! We attended the RiSE Lantern Festival in the Mojave Desert this year and it was no doubt, my very favorite memory from the year. Watching Jimmy take in such a moving experience was nothing short of life-changing for me. It made my heart melt to see him, at such a young age, be so visibly moved by the experience.
2) Rock climbing in Teton Valley
I’ve always been a climbed, even as a little tyke, so outdoor climbing has been high on my bucket list for many years. This year I finally took the plunge and did some climbing in Teton Valley, WY this year. It makes me so happy to be out in the mountains, and somehow, having climbed to get there makes it even more special This is an experience I am so excited to share with Jimmy one day when he is old enough.
3) Visiting the slums of Nairobi with For The Boys
I was lucky enough to join a friend this year on one of her service trips to Kenya. She runs a non-profit mentorship for at-risk boys in the slums of Nairobi — it’s called For the Boys if you want to check them out! I went into the trip with no expectations, but I left with a much better understanding of some of the real problems people in other parts of the world face. I also learned that the people of Kenya are incredible and I can’t wait to go back and visit them again, hopefully someday soon! One of my resolutions for 2018 is to find a way to incorporate more trips like this into my travel schedule.
4) Taking a canoe out on Lake Louise
Just seeing Lake Louise is one of those iconic bucket list things that everyone hopes to do one day. I was, unfortunately, very sick during that trip, but we still made it out on the lake via canoe, just like I’d always dreamed of. It was a rough travel week for me and we faced some obstacles, but I’m still really happy to have experienced the beautiful Lake Louise and its home in Banff National Park.
5) Seeing Kauai by helicopter
As a native Californian, I’ve been to Hawaii a half dozen times by now, but I’d never seen it so closely from above. Experiencing Kauai by helicopter was a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience (seriously, it was really expensive), but we soaked up all 60 minutes of it and will remember it forever… well, Jimmy might not remember it. This was also my first visit to Kauai which is now my new favorite Hawaiian island so I look forward to coming back to visit again one day.
6) Touring Yellowstone National Park
Visit Yellowstone to me is the quintessential American family travel experience. The park is flooded with families from all over the world every summer and for good reason. The sites are incredible, but what was more amazing to me was the wildlife in their natural habitat. I love zoos and I think they are great for young minds, but seeing animals in the wild is a whole different experience. It was so fun to share this trip with Jimmy and see how much he enjoyed it.
7) Hiking through the Costa Rican jungle
When Jimmy was little, he used to watch this You Tube video where the kids sang a song (“Walking in the jungle”) while they walk through the jungle and see a bunch of wildlife. This trip was exactly that song in real life. We saw so many cool animals up close and even spotted a sloth off in the distance! We also sang the kids song while we walked along which was an awesome way to turn Jimmy’s love of You Tube into something mildly productive.
8) Exploring Big Sur on Christmas Day
Our annual Christmas trip is an exciting one for me every year because it’s special family travel time without any interruptions from work. In the past we’ve gone to luxury resorts and spent a lot of time relaxing, but I really wanted to switch things up this year. Instead we did a road trip up the California coast to visit Big Sur — I’d never been before! It is a truly magical place with tons of national and state parks to explore. And Jimmy loved spending Christmas day hiking!
9) Moving to Venice Beach, CA
I move a lot. There is no doubt about that — I just love change. But this year, we moved to Venice Beach, somewhere I’d wanted to move for years. It’s a temporary place for us, but we are enjoying every minute of it. The sunsets are beyond gorgeous, the people are weird, and the food is amazing. Plus, I’m close to where I grew up so I’ve had the chance to spend more time with close friends and even reconnect with some friends I lost touch with over the years.
10) Sending Jimmy to school
Jimmy started school this year! When he was two years old and wasn’t speaking at all, we ended up having him evaluated and it turned out he had a speech and several other developmental delays. Right away, we started him in speech and occupational therapy and school and it has been the most incredible gift ever. Jimmy has blossomed! His speech has improved exponentially and after making a few diet adjustments, he almost completely stopped having tantrums. His mood has changed drastically and he is the sweetest, funniest, smartest little boy I know.
I am so glad we are now better equipped to meet his needs and allow him to grow. Jimmy is undoubtedly the biggest blessing in my life and I’m so thankful to have shared so many amazing memories with him this year.
Here’s to making 2018 a great year with tons of new and incredible memories and family travel to share!