Camping @ Sequoia National Park

This weekend we packed up the car to meet our friends at Sequoia National Park. They’re traveling through the United States on a road trip, and we were happy to meet them. The drive to the park is gorgeous, lots of beautiful hills and greenery.

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As we approached the park we drove through the fog. It made the forest look ethereal.

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We got to our campsite and realized we were missing one backpack with all our gear (sleeping bags, tent, sleeping pads + pillows). GASP.  So here we are walking through the campground to find our friends!

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Forgetting our backpack was something to laugh about. Instead we slept inside our car. Thankfully our friends had two extra sleeping bags, and I had three blankets so we worked with it, and survived!

Monday morning we woke up to a winter wonderland. Andrew started a fire and we cooked breakfast.

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Always have to have bacon. Also: mason jars are great for just about everything.

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The day included walking to see General Grant, one of the biggest and oldest sequoias.

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General Grant is 267 feet tall and 1,650 years old!

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We took a walk through a fallen sequoia, which is apparently the only way they die. They are indestructible otherwise, surviving rot, insects, and fire.

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Afterwards we took a drive to see a waterfall. The drive up there was gorgeous as well. It was beautiful, and the rivers running alongside the mountains were a sight to see. So much water!

 

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Unplugged for a couple days, hanging out alongside a campfire (cause it was so cold), and being with friends make for a great trip. Aren’t our friends the cutest?

My favorite part of the trip was watching the kids and Uncle Andrew have an intense snowball fight.

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The last two times the Warriors won the Finals we were camping the night of their championship game. Coincidence or a sign of good luck? ūüėČ

Good tips:
– Get gas one more time before getting into the park. That way you have enough gas to visit other parts as it’s really big.
– If you’re headed back to the South Bay visit Cutija Taco Shop in Los Banos. One word: CARNE-ASADA-FRIES!

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Camping @ Sequoia National Park

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Two weeks out of the hospital and I continue to get stronger everyday.

This week I have more energy and was able to do things I enjoy like bake, visit Savers (I need more stretchy pants), and I walked around some stores like Target and Safeway with and without a cart for support. Yesterday I was able to put a load of clothes in the washing machine, and prepare my own meal.

I started doing some chair yoga. ¬†The repetitions of contracting muscles and deep breathing has helped me work towards the goal of standing straight while walking and breathing well. It’s healing.

Still a little slow while walking and getting up the stairs but the more I walk and move, the stronger I get the following day. My abdominal area is still healing and a little sore. My DR wants to set up an ultrasound in three months to make sure the cyst is fully resolved.

Many people have suggested to dig deep into this time. I’m learning how to live slow with more peace. How to live with a heart wide open, without fear or worry, and to not sweat the small stuff.

Sometimes people hurt us and we can stay mad or hurt for years, carrying that around like baggage without even knowing it. Gossip, strife, anger, jealousy, competitiveness, being judgmental or overly critical ruins relationships faster than anything, and it’s junk.

In my thinking, if you have the choice to treat someone any way you want, why would you choose junk?

Life is so precious and love beats it all. Not to mention for those of us who are disciples of Christ, love is a command and the number one thing that is evident of the Holy Spirit living in us.

This time has shown me the¬†depth of my husbands commitment to me. It’s¬†given me a great appreciation for my ¬†friends who are so generous, and so kind, and so loving. And in the face of extreme adversity had my back. My family who came together to help both and Andrew and I, and made sure I have everything I need for optimal recovery. Their generosity is unmatched. I can’t put a price on people like that.

My mom has been here nearly 10 days to stay with me as my caregiver while Andrew went back to work. She has helped and encouraged me to get back to normal daily activities. She reminds me of the progress I’ve made daily and reminds me not to worry about tomorrow, but to focus on today.

Even though this was hard, coming out of it, I see my life and it’s so much brighter. It’s fuller, and it’s freer. For that I am grateful. I hope to keep this perspective for a long time.

Welp, every day I get stronger. Today is the first day I can pull myself up from lying down without coughing. I’m breathing deeper and not getting winded walking around.

Every couple hours I’ve set to walk around the kitchen table atleast ten times or more, and have done some yoga moves while sitting down to stretch out my body.

So recovery is slower than I, my husband, family and friends had expected. Some days I can sit around with people (like two to three, and that includes Andrew). But I’m not really ready for visitors, unless you’re my mom or step-mom, that really doesn’t count.

This whole debacle has given me some fresh perspective this year. Before this, literally right before, we celebrated my sisters one year of sobriety. This was a huge milestone for her and our family because my step father (her dad) passed away because of drugs. While sitting at dinner with his family and my own, old feelings of hurt came up. He was abusive to me, and everyone knew, but no one did anything. Which really upset me then and apparently still upset me that night. I always asked myself, “why didn’t anyone say or do anything to stick up for me?”

Now as an adult if there is someone in need, I try to help. Our trip to Thailand was to help with organizations that are fighting against sex trafficking, and my family and I are huge supporters of Compassion International. Why? Because, Christ says we are a body and we’re all in it together. (1 Corinthians 12:12-31) And I believe in sticking up for people who are in bad situations and can’t stick up for themselves at the moment. Hoping that one day they will pay it forward, too.

While in the hospital I was in a lot of pain and wasn’t sure of the rollercoaster I was about to go on. I asked Andrew to post on Facebook for prayer. I didn’t expect hundreds of people to show support. This showed me the beauty of people coming together and regained my faith in humanity. A mix of all beliefs poured out encouragement and that seriously brought me to tears when I read them.

So now, I’m at home and I’m grateful to be alive, and I’m grateful for my family and friends. I’ve always desired a slow life, and now I have it. When someone is talking to me I put down my phone. When things get too serious, I have to laugh. Every moment with others count.

Bad attitudes aren’t worth the time. Anger isn’t worth it. Un-forgiveness is not worth it. The past is the past and people make mistakes. ¬†There’s too much to be thankful for, and all the negative stuff isn’t worth keeping around. It’s such a drag!

The first day I came home from the hospital I woke up with a huge bruise on my right hand. Maybe I held too much tension in it while I slept. Andrew couldn’t hold my hand without it hurting. Today, it’s much better. And we watched some of the Dallas / Green Bay game together holding hands! I took a nap and woke up to the end of the 4th quarter, where I asked questions and took a genuine interest in football. Who am I?¬† Hey,¬†if it’s what my husband likes, I want to be interested in it, too.

One of my pastors wrote a blog about responding to pain with faith, and letting Jesus in the recovery. I read it while in the hospital and I have to re-read it while I’m at home. This humility of trusting God’s timing to be 100% has pushed me to truly trust Him with everything. I wanted to walk around the mall on Friday and I took a shower and changed my clothes a couple times to find a comfortable outfit, and I got so tired I took a nap. FAIL. Not today, Kalani,¬†is what I had to tell myself. Instead, I spent time reading, and spending time with my mom.

That was hard for me to accept because I’m usually a high energy, ¬†multi-tasking busy body who thrives on being productive. So back to letting Jesus in my recovery..

In my devotions and in messages I’ve been listening to, they are pointing to the same thing. At the end of ¬†my self-sufficiency is total dependence on God. I am learning to depend on Him, and only Him for my strength, my next move, my next breath, and to provide.

Cheers to you 2017!

So far you’ve showed me my aptitude of strength, ¬†the healing power of love, and to look to the future with hope! ¬†In the future I will not complain when I have to work because I am looking forward to doing some hair and makeup! And I will not complain about exercising, I’ll just remember to be grateful for a body that can move.

Perspective. It’s all about perspective.

(by @calligraphy.by.nat – find her on Instagram)

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Real Christmas trees make the house smell like Christmas so getting one is a must!

Bust mostly excited to hang up our “DIY” ornaments to re-live some of the adventures we had the past two years. Including, Maui, Krabi + Chiangmai, Thailand, Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah and the California coast.

The tree topper was from a package I received from my cousin when she asked me to be her matron of honor. That was a sweet surprise, and I saved the bow cause it was so pretty!

Creating our own traditions has been fun, and naturally we air on the side of simple & sentiment. When traveling we don’t collect many¬†souvenirs so this was a great way to remember those moments. Plus, it’s fun to take ornaments¬†out one by one and reminisce on fun times, and add¬†more as we take more trips and time goes on!

If you do something like this, share your tricks and tips, I’d love to hear them!

Happy Holidays! xo

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Maximize your time in Cambodia

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 We had a three days in Cambodia over Thanksgiving weekend. We like to travel smarter, not harder, and maximize our time wherever we are. This  means avoiding crowds, when possible, and being prepared so we can swiftly get through the airport and into the city! Here are some tips that helped us on our visit.

  1. E-Visa 
    Since our trip to Cambodia wasn’t decided until we got into Thailand, we didn’t get a visa from the U.S., instead we applied for a visa online. This included taking a photo with our camera and uploading it with our application. It takes up to 3 days to approve.
    Total cost $40
    If you don’t get a Visa online, you can apply for it as soon as you land. So you wait in line for your Visa, then another line for customs. When we arrived at the airport, we only had to wait through one line since we had our E-Visa’s.
  2. Ankor Wat Sunrise
    The building to purchase an admission pass to Angkor Wat is 10 minutes away from the temple itself. To go straight from your hotel to the temple in the morning, its best to purchase your admission ticket the afternoon before your sunrise. We were picked up at 4:40am, and arrived to get Angkor to witness the sunrise. 
    $20/ 1 day pass
    $40/ 3 day pass
    $60 / week
    Rates might increase significantly by February 2017
  3. Bring Cash USD
    The currency for most tourist places, like Siem Reap, is the US dollar. Have smaller bills to carry for tips. We use our Charles Schwab debit card when abroad because we get reimbursed for the ATM transaction fees.
  4. Transportation.
    The driver we got from the airport was very nice, and offered to be our driver for the rest of our trip. We agreed, and he had good tips on certain sights. He had an SUV with A/C. If you don’t mind not having A/C, and want a more Khmer experience, tuk tuk drivers are also available for hire.Always, always ask how much a tour or ride is going to cost before agreeing to get into a vehicle or go on a tour guide, unless its a metered car.
    For more clarification, ask how long a trip take. Efficiency is not common in developing countries, and communication with a language barrier can be a problem.

    Speak simply, listen well, and enjoy your time!

Maximize your time in Cambodia

Loi Kathrong // Yi Peng

 We had the pleasure of being in Thailand during Loi Kathrong & Yi Peng so that means floating lanterns!!

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This was our second experience with sky lanterns. The first time was two NYE’s ago. We walked around the street markets and purchased one from a vendor. (30 baht / a little less than a dollar). Then we walked inside a temple gate, set a flame to it, and asked a nice looking, trust worthy stranger to take our photo. People are doing the same thing all over, and lanterns are released sporadically.

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This time we got referred to a tour company via our AirBnB. We paid for tickets to this event, and traveled from the city to a village by bus. This was different than the last time because this time there were 500 of us gathered together, and the idea was to release the lanterns at the same time.

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We were told to wait until the speaker told us to let go, because there’s a certain “wow” factor when the lanterns go up simultaneously.

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It’s happening, semi-simultaneously. ūüėČ

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 I released my lantern, and looked up to see the most beautiful sight.

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Hundreds of illuminated lanterns against the dark sky.

The closer ones pulsating a yellow flame, and others gently gliding in the background.

All moving together in perfect rhythym.

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They looked like jelly fish swimming in the sky.

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Then I had this moment of ”¬†I can’t believe I am witnessing this with my own two eyes!

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A gentle reminder that little moments like these are worth the exploration, and enough beauty to make your jaw drop and put butterflies in your stomach.

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#thatglowtho

Tickets $50/each
includes
round trip bus ride (30 minutes each way)
1 sky lantern + 1 lathrong (not pictured because we didn’t participate)
1 souvenir (small lantern ornament and coin purse)

Dinner from local vendors $3
 fried banana
noodles
a bag of chicharron (so random, I know!)
1 bottle of water

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I highly recommend experiencing this!
The date is different every year, because its based on the full moon on the 12th month of the Thai lunar calendar, on a Western calendar it falls somewhere in November.

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Photography: Andrew Brown
Shout out: to Mary, my generous co-worker & dear friend for gifting us this experience.
for more information on our AirBnB & the tour company
email: kalaniandandrew@gmail.com

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Minimalism: an intentional life

When I came across minimalism I was intrigued. Yes, I wanted a simpler life so¬†¬†I started to get rid of my belongings. But, minimalism is more than getting rid of stuff; it’s living an intentional life.

In The Secret Life of Tidying Up, Konmari emphasizes everything you own serving a purpose. As do The Minimalists. For example, they recommend once you read a book to pass it on to someone else.

When something serves a purpose, it’s okay to let it go.

Nothing should be kept out of obligation including material possessions, and  commitments.

Minimalism is a way of living that promotes health, good stewardship, and essentially enjoying the simplicity of life.

Minimalism is about being mindful and intentional.

As life starts to change and new seasons take shape, it requires re-evaluating possessions, hobbies, commitments, and even relationships. While questioning the motivation behind everything.

If something is kept with an impure motive, it is most likely feeding an idol and should be let go. Idolatry can be found in trying to maintain a certain image, or based in greed and fear.

If the motivation to keep a friendship or relationship because we’ve been friends/together for X amount of years yet we are growing apart, values have changed, or we have unhealthy interactions with each other, it should be let go. ¬†It’s not a fall-out or failure.

Continuing a friendship or relationship out of obligation is not a healthy motive to keep it.

Making¬†a commitment because we are afraid of saying ‘no’ to someone is also a wrong motive to keep it. We should make and honor our commitments out of our convictions, not because we want to please someone or afraid to reject their invitation.

Figuring out values is essential. Faith, family/friends, and health are examples. Everything can be filtered through core values.

Asking questions like “why am I choosing to do this?” ¬†“will it add value to my life?” “what are the benefits of saying ‘yes’?” “by saying ‘yes’, what will I have to say ‘no’ to in the future?”

When we let go of excess we are able to fully see what we have, and appreciate it! The beautiful things that add value to our lives become prominent. And that is living intentionally.

Life is too valuable and fragile to be burdened by unhealthy, and unnecessary stress. As adults we get the privilege of choice. Choosing relationships, commitments and our schedules are our responsibility.

There are no excuses because saying “yes” or “no” is our prerogative.

It’s time to start letting go. ¬†Where will you start?

Minimalism: an intentional life