Emma's 10th Birthday // The Reason for it All

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It's so interesting to see what's important to someone.  I truly believe that everyone has time and money for what's valuable to them.  I don't believe the words, "I can't afford it" or "It's out of my budget.".  I translate those words into "It's not important to me."  I have seen the lowest income people travel world, and I have seen the most wealthy struggle with basic needs.  It's all about where you put value in your life.  Well, one thing that's very important to us and something that we are taking seriously more and more as we get older is quality time.  I may have the hardest time buying a necessary kitchen tool to make my kitchen life better and less stressful, but I don't mind in splurging on vacation or experiencing a special moment.  If something is worthy to be celebrated, I will make plans for it and invest time and money into it without any hesitation.  Quality time is my number one love language and that's something I treasure with my family and close friends.  We know that our kids won't be kids for long and that time really is passing by too fast, so it makes me want to intentionally slow down even more to really enjoy and embrace these times.  Making memories in our hearts is just as important as making memories in photographs.

One recent thing that we celebrated was our oldest turning 10.  TEN!  Can you believe that?  As a kid, it's really a big deal, you know?  Two digits!  An entire decade!  Emma said, "I revolved around the sun TEN times!"  LOL!  We thought that was the cutest thing.  Few months before her birthday came, we knew that we had to celebrate this day big time!  Knowing her, we knew that rather than spending money on a big party, she would so enjoy a trip with us.  Just her mom and dad.... without her siblings.  Being the eldest of three is no easy task, so we wanted to give her some space from her brother and sister for a short while and just give her our utmost attention for a few days and really treat her like a 'big girl'.   We had all kinds of ideas and as the plans were coming together, we were getting so excited... We would have liked to have kept it a secret from her, but she asked about where she could have her party, so we had to tell her.  We ONLY told her a couple of weeks before that she will be going on a special trip with us and nothing else.  She had no idea where we were going or what we were doing... The day finally came and we surprised her with each event as they came... We wanted to give her an experience and memories that were unforgettable. We wanted to make sure to cover the following areas:  adventure, education, and inspiration.  

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1.  Adventure - "Let go!"

This is an area that really lacked in my life until I met my husband.  Not because I didn't have the opportunity, but because I just didn't want it.  I never wanted to take any risk of any kind or test any of my fears.  But, living with Craig Obrist... that's just not possible.  He has challenged me to connect with nature more and have some adventure in my comfortable and boring life.  :)  Well, that's something that our kids have been blessed with since they've been born.  They have a father that's quite creative and have them do things by thinking outside of the box in all areas of their life.  Because of this, for the most part, they seem to really enjoy new ideas and adventure.  Her first activity was a helicopter ride.  Yes, a helicopter ride!  I gifted Craig this for his 30th birthday many years ago (7 to be exact), but I didn't go on it with him and rather had his friends do it with him because I was pregnant, but honestly because I was afraid.  :)  But, this time... I was going to go for my kid.  I was honestly VERY nervous inside, but didn't want to show any fear in case Emma should smell it from me and have a bad influence.  I tried my hardest and wow... was I glad I did because what an experience it was!  There was a part of me that was concerned that maybe Emma wouldn't go through with it, but wow... she was ecstatic from the beginning to the end and didn't want to get off... It's so crazy how once you do it and conquer a fear, you have this sense of accomplishment and confidence and such fulfillment.  I think that's what overcoming fear does to you... you grow so much when you conquer fear because we are meant to live victoriously!  We are called to be faithful, not fearful!  God desires for us to be bold and courageous!  You can't allow fear to suppress you and keep you from experiencing things.  We all have fears in different areas of life, but we also have the capability to conquer them because whatever fear you may have, remember that Jesus has already conquered them all.  I was one proud mama seeing my girl so brave...

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2.  Education - "Never stop learning, never stop growing"

Our Emma loves books.... she loves to learn.  She is a straight A student who works very hard in school and takes academics very seriously.  She is an excellent leader amongst her peers and respects her teachers very much.  We are so proud of her accomplishments already.  Since she was much younger, she watched the history channel and the discovery channel together with us (another influence from Daddy), so we knew that she would have an appreciation for the story of the Biltmore House in Asheville.  Sure enough, when we got there, she couldn't believe it.  The next morning, we toured the home and guess which room was her favorite room?  The library... :)  Of course!  I'm so thankful that she naturally loves books and is a reader because.... I'm not and nor is Craig.  hehe Let me explain ourselves a little here.... we do love to learn, but we just can't have it in a book form.  LOL!  We either have to watch it, hear it or if we have to read it, we need it as a simple article format, bullet points or cliff notes.  That's why I love reading blogs or something short and concise.  We like just getting the meat of the info.... So, it's truly a miracle that our girl loves to read when she has parents like us and for that, we are grateful!  We all learned so much from learning the history of this wealthy family.  The wealth all began when the grandfather of this home owner turned $100 into $100 million after investing it in the railroad system. Can you imagine?  Such a risk taker!  I don't think anyone needs a palace like that to live in, but I do respect the discipline and the hard work it took to make such an accomplishment.  Although it was my second time there, I was surprised that it felt like my first.  After the tour, we even got to enjoy a two mile horse back ride and got to see even more of the house from the back side of it and the view was pretty epic.  Even with her horse, our girl was just awesome!  She loved her horse and kept petting it over and over during the ride and really bonded with the animal very well. She really impressed me!  Looking back at when I was her age, I would have freaked out!  Ha!

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How can we go to a beautiful place like this and not do a photo shoot, right?  Of course!  But, because it was quite freezing, we could only take a few minutes to get the shot that Craig had envisioned. I went shopping for Emma's dress and the cloth that week, and I was happy when we found the same fabric of cloth as her dress!  Even with the shoot, she was amazing, fought through the cold, and posed like a pro! 

 Craig showing Emma how to pose. :)

Craig showing Emma how to pose. :)

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Me running for my dear life as I try to get out of the shot. :)

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That evening, we just relaxed from a full, pact day and watched the movie, "Wonder", together. She has been wanting to watch this, so we made that little dream come true too.  But, oh my gosh... I wish there was a warning that tears would come pouring down!  At the end of the movie, all three of us were crying... Have you guys seen this movie?  If you haven't, please do!  Wish they made more movies like this.  Our girl was the perfect age.... while crying, we had such deep conversations about various things.  We need those serious, open hearted talks sometimes with one another, and this was definitely the most perfect time.  

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The next day just when she thought that our trip was coming to an end, it wasn't over yet!  We had another adventure coming... this time, it was zip lining!  I totally remember her expressing how much she wanted to zip line, so we really wanted to make this happen.  Because we were in the mountains, we knew that they would have some fun zip lining.  I don't know what I was thinking, but I signed up too and when we got there, boy did I wish I didn't or what!  When I saw how high it was, I was having some serious second thoughts.  I have such fear of heights, and this was just very different from a helicopter ride type of heights, you know?  Oh my gosh.... I just didn't know what to do.  We already paid for it, so I didn't want to waste the money, but at the same time, I didn't know if I could do it.  I started asking questions like, "So... if I throw up, can I not go?"  "So... can I just come back down if I change my mind when I'm up there?"  "So.... can I just get my money back?"  Those guys thought I was kidding, but nope, I wasn't.  I tried to sound funny only because my daughter was listening, but I was scared to death!  At this point, I wasn't concerned about Emma at all because I was really deep in thought about if I was going to do this or not. Plus, I knew Craig had Emma completely covered.  After we signed all the waivers, we were getting instructed with all the rules and then started getting trained..  Emma understood everything the first time whereas for me, I needed more explanation.  LOL! After the "ground school", we went up the steps for the first real zip line.  As we got higher and higher and higher, I kept saying, "Ok, I don't think I can do this...." Craig responded, "No, you can!  You can do it baby!  It's going to be so fun!  Your'e going to regret it if you don't do it."  I started breathing harder... I was in front of Emma, but because I kept telling the instructor that I can't do this anymore, he let her go ahead of me.  Oh my gosh!  She did it with such ease.... what?!  Is she my daughter?  I know inside, the instructor was getting annoyed, but was he was very patient with me.  He kept assuring me that I'm going to have a great time.  Then, I was in panic mode because all these things were strapped on to me, and I felt totally trapped.  I almost started crying until on the other side, Emma spoke on the walkie talkie, "You can do it Mommy!"  In that moment, I knew I had to just go.  The instructor let me take my time.... I finally came to the edge, took a deep breath and let go.... Oh my goodness!  It was soooooo much fun!  Wow!  I couldn't believe how fun and amazing it felt!  LOL!  After that, I wanted it to be my turn so badly again.  Everyone cheered me on like a little kid.  LOL... it was awesome.  Between the helicopter ride and this, I think I did my share of conquering my fear of heights.  I actually can't wait to go zip lining again!

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3.  Inspiration - "Feed your dreams"

Right after zip lining, we left Asheville, NC to downtown Atlanta for our very last surprise.  I believe that in life, we need inspiration to encourage us and motivate us.  To allow yourself be inspired gives you growth, maturity and a sense of being alive.  I clearly remember when Emma was 3 years old, and as we were listening to music together, she was just sitting on the couch, and I was doing something in the kitchen.  Her back was facing me and all of a sudden, she turned around to look at me.  I asked what was wrong, and she said, "That music is making me feel really sad and it's making me cry."  As a three year old, you're very limited in how you can express yourself and for her to tell me that, I knew that music had a very special place in her heart.  Every time the violin part came on, she was so moved.  She just really loved the sound of violins.  Although I knew this, when she was 6 years old, I told her that I wanted her to take piano lessons for at least a year.  I believe that piano is the foundation of all stringed instruments, so I made her take it.  Guess what?  SHE HATED IT!  Practice time was torture time, but I still made her finish one year.  I told her that if she finishes it well, then I will give her violin lessons.  Not sure if she 'finished well", but she did finish and the next year, she joined an orchestra, and I have not had any problems as far as practice was concerned since then.  She absolutely enjoys it and even though this is only her second year, at every concert, she has sat on the front row.  I don't know about violins at all, but it seems that she is learning fast.... One thing I do know for sure is that SHE LOVE IT and that makes me so happy!  I loved that Craig came up with the idea of taking her to the Atlanta symphony!  As soon as he brought it up, I agreed.  It was Emma's first classical concert, and I know that she really enjoyed it.  She has been practicing her violin a lot more since then.  ;)

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This trip has left us something special.  I know for a fact that we will remember these times and will treasure them forever.  We can't wait to do this for our other two kids when they become 10 too!  They are already anticipating it and wondering what we are going to surprise them with.  Need a boost of enthusiasm or energy in your life?  It's already February in this new year and before it just passes by you again, go do something adventurous, educational and inspirational!  List out the things you have been wanting to do or have never done and GO DO IT!  Save up the money, put it on the calendar and make it happen!  Remember, you will make it happen if it's important to you.  Money is never the problem!  Sacrifice and don't spend money on things you don't need and save it.  Don't eat out!  Don't go to the movies!  Don't go shopping!  It's always your choice in what you want in life.  Don't ever underestimate the few bucks that you spend here and there (mm... hm.... like Starbucks!)... all those things add up.  For me personally, I sacrifice all the little, petty things... the "knick knacks" because I want the BIG things in life like this trip!  We are planning on few other trips this year, and they are going to be awesome!  The next one has already been booked and we can't wait to share with you what that's going to be all about!  So, go and plan out your next adventure and enjoy life!

 After the symphony, we took this girl out to our first date spot, Cafe Intermezzo in Dunwoody.  This is the same place that we meet our brides and grooms for their consultation as well.  She felt like a big girl staying up so late!  ;)  

After the symphony, we took this girl out to our first date spot, Cafe Intermezzo in Dunwoody.  This is the same place that we meet our brides and grooms for their consultation as well.  She felt like a big girl staying up so late!  ;)  

With much love,

Craig + Unchong