Happy New Year! I've been taking a break from blogging, but wanted to share the top 10 posts of 2015. IMG_50152015-04-26 hairwash haircut luang prabang by Melissa Crossett

1. the hair-washing joint

2015-01-29 biking with kids in luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (9 of 12)2. weekend adventures: biking to the river

2015-01-20 extending the kitchen counter by Melissa Crossett (10 of 10)3. quick kitchen project

2015-03-27 fun at the Nam Khan river by Melissa Crossett (1 of 9)4. fun at the Nam Khan River

2015-03-26 favorite travel trunk by Melissa Crossett (5 of 5)5. our favorite luggage

2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (13 of 62)6. Mekong River cruise - upriver

2015-03-17 Luang Prabang butterfly park by Melissa Crossett (16 of 17)7. weekend adventures: butterfly park

2015-09-21 elephant riding with kids in Luang Prabang by Melissa Crossett (23 of 25)8. Elephants! (tour guides part 3)

2015-09-30 Kuangsi waterfalls with kids by Melissa Crossett (6 of 13)9. Kuang Si Waterfalls (tour guides part 2)

2015-09-14 Luang Prabang boat races by Ryan Crossett (19 of 46)10. off to the boat races 2015

p.s. here are the top 10 posts of 2014

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2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (1 of 23)

The Festival of Lights, Fire Boat Festival or Bun Lai Heua Fai in Luang Prabang celebrates the end of Buddhist Lent.  Individuals make little "boats" out of slices of banana stalk and decorate them with flowers, a candle and incense and send them floating down the river.  Talia made one at school so before the crowds showed up we sent hers off down the river.   Then we went off to see what else was going on.2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (2 of 23)

All the temples in town, expecially the ones in the historic parts of town, where we live, were decorated with hundreds of candles and hanging lanterns.  The site was quite cosy and magical.2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (3 of 23) 2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (4 of 23) 2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (5 of 23)

The monks were busy lighting hundreds of candles in their temples.2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (6 of 23) 2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (7 of 23)

The candlelight on the stupas and temples was beautiful and attracted many photographers professional and amateur alike.2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (8 of 23) 2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (9 of 23) 2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (10 of 23)

2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (1 of 4)

Along the way we met Talia's friends from school who were waiting to watch the parade of fire boats that would be coming down the street.

2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (11 of 23) 2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (12 of 23) 2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (13 of 23) 2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (14 of 23)

When the temple percussionists started the playing the parade was underway.  They play cymbals, a gong or two, and of course the big drum.2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (15 of 23)

Schools and other groups sponsored fire boats and joined in the parade.  The fire boats are boats made with paper over a frame and covered with candles.  As you can imagine, candles and paper don't mix well so each boat had a few "fire fighters" who tried to make sure that their boat made the trip to the river without burning up.2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (16 of 23) 2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (17 of 23)

Some groups even dressed up in traditional costumes to escort their boat to the river.2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (18 of 23) 2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (19 of 23) 2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (20 of 23) 2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (21 of 23)2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (3 of 4)

We ended up watching most of the parade in front of some friends' house, which was in a convenient spot right before the parade turned into the temple.2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (22 of 23) 2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (23 of 23)

All of the boats congregated at Wat Xieng Thong, the oldest and most famous temple in Luang Prabang.

2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (2 of 4)The end of Buddhist lent falls on a full moon, which tonight was sitting right above the temple.

2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (4 of 4)

After leaving the temple the boats are carried down some steep stairs to the Mekong River.  We walked along the river a ways to sit and watch the boats float by.  It's too bad the festival only lasts one evening of the year, because it was so magical.

Every morning at dawn, hundreds of monks in Luang Prabang leave their temples, walk single file down the street in their saffron robes to collect alms. I decided to get the big girls up early at the end of Buddhist Lent, so that we could observe this religious ritual on a day that the streets are particularly full of locals giving alms.

2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (1 of 1)This ceremony has become a huge tourist attraction, so we chose a quieter street in hopes of seeing a more genuine event.  As we walked down the street, we watched people set their mats out and arrange their offerings of sticky rice, packaged food, money, flowers, incense etc... 2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (1 of 22)Getting up at 5:30 was exciting for the girls, but they also wanted to sit down as soon as we found a good spot to watch. 2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (2 of 22) 2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (3 of 22) 2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (4 of 22) 2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (5 of 22) 2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (6 of 22) 2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (7 of 22) 2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (8 of 22) 2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (9 of 22) 2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (10 of 22)Some nice old lady called the girls over to come get some snacks from her. 2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (11 of 22) 2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (12 of 22) 2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (13 of 22)Others not participating in alms giving, were going about their normal morning routines at their outdoor kitchens. 2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (14 of 22)There were still a number of tourists on this quiet street. 2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (15 of 22)And a few locals wanting to get some pictures of my girls with theirs. 2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (16 of 22)You can see they are nearing the end of their walk as they are now carrying an additional plastic bag full of food. 2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (17 of 22)The monks in turn give some of what they've received back to the kids in the neighborhood who are waiting with their own empty basket.  2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (19 of 22) 2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (20 of 22)We saw our neighbors out giving alms too.2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (21 of 22)and receiving quite a bit in return! 2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (22 of 22)We ended our early outing by enjoying breakfast at a cafe and returning home to Daddy and Isla who had just gotten up. And Talia was already ready for a nap!

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Another birthday post full of pictures for family and friends to see how we celebrated Talia turning 6 and Elise turning 4.

We happened to be in Thailand for Talia's birthday doing our last trip out to finalize some paperwork, so we thought we could have fun celebrating there.

2015-11-16 birthdays by Melissa Crossett (7 of 32)We went out for a special birthday breakfast and let her choose whatever she wanted from the menu.  She chose waffles and a smoothie.2015-11-16 birthdays by Melissa Crossett (1 of 32)We bought a couple gifts and a few balloons. I'm so glad it doesn't take much to make something special for our girls! 2015-11-16 birthdays by Melissa Crossett (2 of 32) 2015-11-16 birthdays by Melissa Crossett (3 of 32) 2015-11-16 birthdays by Melissa Crossett (4 of 32)Trying on her new hat. 2015-11-16 birthdays by Melissa Crossett (5 of 32) 2015-11-16 birthdays by Melissa Crossett (6 of 32)She requested lemon meringue pie, after hearing it was one of Mommy's frequently requested birthday desserts and we were actually able to find it by googling local bakeries!  2015-11-16 birthdays by Melissa Crossett (8 of 32) 2015-11-16 birthdays by Melissa Crossett (9 of 32)Instead of parties, we often like to do a birthday outing. So we gave her the choice of going to the zoo or going ice skating.  Ice skating it was! 2015-11-16 birthdays by Melissa Crossett (10 of 32)They were pretty excited to try it out for the first time... 2015-11-16 birthdays by Melissa Crossett (11 of 32)Talia did end up a bit disappointed that she couldn't twirl and spin like a figure skater. Ha! 2015-11-16 birthdays by Melissa Crossett (12 of 32)With Pingu's help, Talia was able to make some progress and started moving on her own.2015-11-16 birthdays by Melissa Crossett (13 of 32)In the end the girls got tired of the skates and Ryan ended the hour by pushing them around as they stood on the back of Pingu's skis, until their socks were soaked through. 2015-11-16 birthdays by Melissa Crossett (14 of 32)


A couple months later and it was Elise's turn.  We had an idea to set up a surprise tea party after the girls went to bed.  The girls often come down early in the morning to use the bathroom and Elise has been known to go scavenging for something to eat. So, this time we made it easy.2015-11-16 birthdays by Melissa Crossett (15 of 32) 2015-11-16 birthdays by Melissa Crossett (16 of 32) 2015-11-16 birthdays by Melissa Crossett (17 of 32) 2015-11-16 birthdays by Melissa Crossett (18 of 32)Something the girls had been looking forward to for MONTHS was having a second attempt at a sister sleepover when Elise turned 4 (as it didn't go so well when she was 3 years old). This time... Success!  2015-11-16 birthdays by Melissa Crossett (19 of 32)For Elise's birthday outing we decided to take a picnic and go swimming at the waterfalls, but the weather dropped by 10-15 degrees that weekend, so we changed the "swimming" to "hiking." The water ended up being a bit high anyways and may have been tough to swim in.2015-11-16 birthdays by Melissa Crossett (20 of 32) 2015-11-16 birthdays by Melissa Crossett (21 of 32)It was pretty cozy to get to wear sweatshirts for the first time this season. 2015-11-16 birthdays by Melissa Crossett (22 of 32)The hike ended up being a big adventure and loads of fun.   The girls did great!2015-11-16 birthdays by Melissa Crossett (23 of 32) 2015-11-16 birthdays by Melissa Crossett (24 of 32)We even hiked straight up one of the waterfalls! We didn't even know this path existed, which made this birthday hike all the more exciting and memorable. 2015-11-16 birthdays by Melissa Crossett (25 of 32) 2015-11-16 birthdays by Melissa Crossett (26 of 32) 2015-11-16 birthdays by Melissa Crossett (27 of 32)We started a new tradition with this colorful "birthday" hat from the night market.  Elise loved it! 2015-11-16 birthdays by Melissa Crossett (28 of 32) 2015-11-16 birthdays by Melissa Crossett (29 of 32)Daddy entertained us with his own version of the Lao candle dance2015-11-16 birthdays by Melissa Crossett (30 of 32)Elise thoroughly enjoyed the show! 2015-11-16 birthdays by Melissa Crossett (31 of 32)We forgot to buy wrapping paper, so made do with some construction paper.  Guess which one was from us.

If you missed Isla's 1st birthday, you can see that here.

Here are a few snapshots from October that you may have missed if you aren't on Instagram. You can see these and more by clicking here.

Because tutus make folding laundry so much more fun 👸 A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on

She found herself the perfect reading spot.

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First tree climbing experience for the girls in a really old gnarled plumeria tree. A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on

Watching a local fisherman work on his nets.

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Our afternoon walks almost always take us to the river. It's a highlight of my day. A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on

Thursdays are for visiting Daddy at work.

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Up early to watch the monks collect alms on the end of Buddhist lent. A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on

Stayed up late enjoying the magical Festival of Lights

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I had a princess helping me with laundry today. 👑

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