thaoie Posts

Sorry for the unplanned hiatus from blogging but I am back up and running again. Woohoo!

Continuing our Memorial Day weekend adventure to the Grand Canyon. This is the first time Rob and I have ever been so it is all pretty exciting. Before I jump all in to share the images from the Grand Canyon, I’ll have to share a few images from the RV itself which I failed to do in the last post.

You’ll see our fridge/freezer on the left with a larger view of the kitchen, dining, and seating area. This is the widest part of the trailer when it is expanded all the way.

The couch turns into a fold-away bed which was where Rob and I slept on all 3 nights of the trip. The kitchen is quite extensive with plenty of cupboard space. Felt almost like home with the amenities we are used to.

On Saturday evening right before sunset we arrived at the Grand Canyon. We stopped over at a random pull-out to snap some quick pix.

As you can tell by Elise’s crazy hair, it was crazy windy!

Poor Chloe was scared of the wind and was crying to please head back into the RV.
That night we stayed at the Trailer Village made for RV’s in the Grand Canyon Village where there was hook-ups for everything (water, electricity, bathrooms).

Sunday morning after breakfast we rode along the 30+ mile stretch of the Grand Canyon to stop at a few of the look-out points.
This look-out tower is at Desert View Point, located near the East Entrance of the park.

So purdy. I could really sit here for hours just staring out into all this beautiful creation.

This panoramic photo was taken at Moran Point. If you look closely you can see the Colorado River running thru it.

Just the 3 of us headed out to Hopi Point towards the west end of the park to watch the sunset. You cannot drive up here; only the shuttle can take you to it.

Boy was it cold! We did not expect it to be this freezing.

It was a bit of a disappointment b/c it was too cloudy to see much of a sunset. We were lucky to be one of the 1st ones back on the shuttle to get back down to the park. If we waited any longer we would have been stuck waiting outside in the cold for the next shuttle; I would have definitely gotten frostbite if I had to wait.

We were determined to see sunrise so were up very early to head out to a random point on the road to catch it on Monday morning. Here’s dawn.

Here’s Rob recording “breaking dawn”…hehehe, get it? BREAKING DAWN!

Rob doing his thing with taking photos for KC and E.

Glorious Grand Canyon sunrise folks.

You may be wondering where are photos of the kids at?? Well, they were sleeping most of the time when we were out and about or confined to the RV itself for safety reasons due to the inclement weather of crazy winds. I’ll let KimChi post their cuteness in her blog when we hit Grand Canyon Caverns (which I did not take any photos at so I will not have a part 3). For now you can see her perspective of part 2 of this trip here.



For the long Memorial Day weekend I embarked on a short road trip with the hubby and my sister’s family. This was my very first time traveling and living out of an RV (recreational vehicle) for days straight. Everything from sleep, shower, pee, eat, cook, read, hang out, watch movies–all in one 36 foot vehicle. I really didn’t know what to expect since my sissy planned it all but I was pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable the whole experience was. All 7 of us fit in there quite nicely (4 adults and 3 kids) and I’ve concluded that a future RV road trip is definitely in the books.

Side note: it may not seem “lacking” to you but there is a lack of photos to completely document this trip. Much of my time was engrossed on starting and finishing “The Hunger Games” series. And finish I did! Thanks to Elvis for driving the entire time and to Rob for keeping Elvis company.

Sisterly love!

Twirling like ballerinas.

Chloe was super duper scared of the RV. She had to be comforted by food aka “bread”.
She also needed a ton of time to check things out and warm up to it.

Look at that scared look on her face. Even uncle Robby couldn’t convince her.

Once she realized she wasn’t going to have her way, she marched up those steps like a champ.
For a while there I really thought we would have to leave her behind.
Here’s a video and photos of that monumental moment of relief:

Benji was a great baby, sound asleep ready for the ride.

Elise was super excited like she is with many things.

Cattail Cove State Park in Arizona–a part of Lake Havasu.
Photos are taken near sunset only because we were too scared to venture out into the 100+ degree weather.
We took comfort in the shields of the RV’s air conditioning.

Once again, Chloe was scared; this time of the water.
She hung back and looked pretty in her Hello Kitty swimsuit. Here she is with her special “hello” wave.

The next morning we ventured out for a very short hike up to the look out point.

Pretty nice view, huh? Can you tell how hot it is? I can by the cloudless sky and dry conditions.

We had a pretty quick mini photo session up top.

Here’s our RV spot next to a nice shady tree. Pictured to the right are the 2 benches at the top of the look out point.

There was also a cool amphitheater and a mini cactus garden on site.

Next stop: Grand Canyon!

For a second view in the eyes of my sissy, check out her blog post on part 1 of our trip.


It’s that time of year again folks when there are graduations galore. Our niece, Faith, graduates from high school this Friday and we wanted to do something extra special for her. Not gift her with the usual flower lei, balloons or bouquet of flowers, but something she can wear proudly and show off to her fellow graduates who will look at her with envy that she is well loved and cared for.

With helpful instruction from our dear friend, Anh Nguyet, Rob and I worked tirelessly for hours on end over several days to create 2 very heavy, super intricate candy lei’s made up of Werther’s candies and Starbursts for Faith to don on her big day. Since we spent so much time on it, we thought we’d document (aka blog) the detailed instruction on how it’s done so that we’ll never forget how to create it and also to share with the world on how it’s all done so you can create it yourself for a loved one.

*sorry for the poor quality images in this post. i took these on my cellphone and half of ’em didn’t come out so great.*

Part I: the Werther’s lei

What you need:

  • Curling ribbon (this can be purchased from Party City)
  • Thicker ribbon (around 2 inches wide; got mine from Costco)
  • 1 big bag of Werther’s hard candies (ours contained ~80 pieces); big bags available at Smart & Final; make sure it’s the twisty wrapper kind.

Step 1: Cut curling ribbon into lengths of 6 inches. You’ll need one ribbon per piece of candy. I used 2 colors for Faith’s lei’s (green and black) to represent her school colors. You can do 1 color ribbon or even 2+; all up to you.

Step 2: Tie ribbon to one end of Werther’s candy (as illustrated below). Make sure there is an even length on each side.

Step 3: Cut the thicker 2 inch wide ribbon into 3.5 feet in length (may want it longer if the person has a bigger head; measure it on yourself leaving room to knot the 2 ends later).

Step 4: Start double knotting candy to 2 inch wide ribbon; making sure to alternate sides that the candy is on.

Photo of me in action:

Step 5: After you’re done going all the way to the end, tie the two ends together to complete the circle; take a scissor and curl the ribbon so that its not so straight and pokey.


Part II: the Starburst lei *warning: takes 10x as long and is very tedious*

What you need:

  • Curling ribbon
  • Thicker ribbon
  • Loose Starburst candies (ours contained ~90 pieces; purchased from Target)
  • Clear cellophane wrapping (got ours from Party City)

Step 1: Cut curling ribbon into lengths of 6 inches.

Step 2: Cut 4 inch squares of the clear cellophane wrap. This part was super tedious and hard. I had Rob make me a cardboard template that was 4″ x 4″ to measure and cut the cellophane. It was hard enough that the material doesn’t stay put let alone it being almost completely invisible!

Step 3: Sort candy. This really isn’t a step unless you’re picky with the colors. We purchased 3 variety packs and chose only the hues of pinks, reds and purples to go on the lei. We’re now stuck with the yellows, oranges, and greens to eat.

These are the 6 colors we worked with; it was so hard not to devour ’em while putting the lei together.

Step 4: Wrap each Starburst candy with cellophane and tying the end with a ribbon (as illustrated below).

I found that there was a lot of extra cellophane after it was tied at the end so to make it easier to tie to the main ribbon I’d cut some of the extra cellophane off. You don’t have to but I’m just knit picky.

Step 5: Cut the thicker 2 inch wide ribbon into 3.5 feet in length.

Step 6: Start double knotting candy to 2 inch wide ribbon; making sure to alternate sides and colors to get in a good mix. It starts getting really difficult when you mix in multiple color ribbon and candy colors. You can see in the photo below that I curled the ribbon as I went along so that it didn’t seem so overwhelming at the end.

Step 7: Tie the ends together (you can leave a bit of space w/o any candy, it’s ok b/c it’s behind their neck).

Viola! This is the face of a person after hours on end of back breaking work to put this Starburst lei together. I look like total crap and usually would not show a photo of myself in this sort of condition but I had to show you proof that making this Starburst lei takes a ton of dedication, time, and MUCHO love for the recipient in order for you to power thru it all. I am not convinced that I can or ever will make this lei for any person ever again. Perhaps the love for my children or grandchildren when I am super old without much to do in my retirement age will entice me to give it another shot. I did tell Rob that I would make this for him for his graduation (that would mean he’d have to go back to school). hehehe.

Step 8: get a back massage.


In early April, Rob and I spent roughly 2 days in Philly with Laura and Thanh in tow for part of the time. We did a ton of site seeing and a bit of some grubbing. The city of Philadelphia ties in so well with our D.C. visit b/c the two have so much connected with the history of our country. We enjoyed our time there very much even though I was sick as a dog. You bromance boys (Dan, Dennis, Jason, Duy, Thanh) should all go here together; the city’s slogan is just too fitting for your “bromances”. =)

First tour stop was none other than the Liberty Bell. This is a must see in Philadelphia.

The four of us in front of Independence Hall. Why is it called that? B/c that’s where our declaration of independence was written and signed into law.

These guys are sitting in the building where the House and Senate used to meet before our capitol was moved from Philly to D.C.

Benjamin Franklin is buried here in Philly. People throw coins on his tomb to make wishes; not sure why really.

Yay to money!! This particular mint makes a lot of our coins. Laura and I are actually holding cash money as we jump.

We visited Betsy Ross’ house who had made our first flag which featured 13 stars for the 13 colonies. Rob and Laura are trying to break an entering.

The four of us outside the Betsy Ross house and a fun picture on our bus ride to the next location.

Sustenance to fuel our tourist legs. Jim’s Steaks was a bit of a wait but yummy!

Rob’s pretty happy about digging into his Philly cheese steak AND enjoying some dessert at Rita’s Ice.

The Philly skyline.

We got to the top of the famous Rocky steps.

Rob declares Thanh the winner over saddened Laura.

This railroad station reminds me of Monopoly.

Us lovebirds at the LOVE park.

Rob trying to lift my heavy butt with a life-size monopoly wheel barrow piece.

Laura wasn’t thinking when she hugged this iron straight on; it’s hot, Laura! And here’s Thanh posing with his sorry piece.

Neat little park with random board game pieces eh? Just right outside our hotel in downtown.


This book was suggested to Robert and I at our engaged encounter retreat in January 2010. We put it off since it was the last 6 months of wedding planning and the last thing we wanted to do was sit down, read a book, and work on our relationship. We knew it would be an ongoing, lifelong process well after the wedding was over. I left it on my wish list and didn’t start reading it until January 2011 after Robert purchased me a Kindle edition; and I have been so grateful to have been introduced to this book. I am now a true believer in the 5 love languages.

The concept is that people express and feel love in 5 ways (languages); one being more predominant than the next for each person. The book explains the 5 love languages as so: (taken from the website)

  • Words of Affirmation

    Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important—hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.

  • Quality Time

    In the vernacular of Quality Time, nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there—with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby—makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful.

  • Receiving Gifts

    Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous—so would the absence of everyday gestures.

  • Acts of Service

    Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter.

  • Physical Touch

    This language isn’t all about the bedroom. A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face—they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive.

Do me a favor and take the quiz online to find out your love language. Then have your significant other take it as well. It’s a short quiz of just 30 multiple choice questions; shouldn’t take any longer than 10-15 minutes. If you’re single, don’t worry–there’s even a quiz on there for you! Same concept applies. If you’re a parent, you can also have your kid(s) take it so you can show them love the way they want to be loved (applies to kids ages 5+). There’s even a teen edition.

I think it will make a whole difference in your relationship if you put your learnings into practice. It’s made a whole world of a difference so far in my relationship with Robert. Even though he has not yet read the book, he still understands the concept and it has done wonders! I am such a HUGE believer that if you want to read the book I am willing to buy you a copy whether it be a paperback, nook edition, kindle edition, or audio edition. To gift you with this book would mean the world to me; a small amount of my hard earned money does not compare to the lifelong happiness you can have from reading this book. Heck, if I had read this book before the wedding it may have been another wedding favor we gave out to our guests. Leave a comment and tell me in what form you want to receive this book. *Stipulation: you must promise to read it all the way through within 2 months of receiving it.*

You may be wondering what’s my primary love language. Well, Dr. Chapman (the author) said we could also be bilingual in our love language and that is ME! That just gives Rob more options to show me how much he loves me; we both “speak” the same 2 languages of “quality time” and “acts of service”. Don’t get me wrong, I still like gifts, physical touch, and nice words but the other 2 is what truly screams out LOVE to me. Here’s how we scored:

Language Thao Robert
Words of Affirmation 7 2
Quality Time 9 9
Receiving Gifts 0 3
Acts of Service 9 10
Physical Touch 5 6