Our time living in Los Angeles

After many long chats, mental exhaustion and wanting the power to see into the future we have decided that now is a good time to move back to UK. This decision did not come lightly as we have had the best two years out here and because of that it’s making it a lot harder than I thought to leave.
Summer had a lot of firsts here, as soon as we arrived she learnt to crawl in the hotel room (impeccable timing haha) she took her first steps, had her first Christmas and first birthday (and second) all with the Pacific Ocean only 5 miles away.
But I also had a lot of firsts, first time I have lived in a different country, first time actually properly driving on my own, first time starting a photography business and a big one, first time mama trying to work out how to raise a little human the best way possible.
It’s two years of my life that I want to cherish, to be proud of our achievements as a family and to look back as a wonderful life lesson.

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Obviously it wasn’t all plain sailing as we wouldn’t of had the urge to move back to UK, We did struggle…a lot. It was mainly financially and adjusting to certain things but something didn’t sit right with us and as a family we decided in order for us to live our best life and for the sake of Summer now is the right time move back. It’s not like when we moved here we knew it would be a walk in the park but we just didn’t expect to be caught up in so many pay monthly deals and having no credit score really did screw us over. Before we knew it we were paying double on many things we found out didn’t need to be, I found it difficult to send Summer to classes/ day cares when I knew in England it was so much cheaper or in fact free.
I don’t think I’m a Scrooge of a person and would often agree or justify spending money on things just to try and live a normal life, but when it came to the point where I am panicking that we don’t have enough money to eat until rent comes out then I feel like something needed to change.
I toyed with the idea of getting a part time job or even full time job daily, but the money I would make would just cover the day care so it seemed kind of pointless to me as I knew I was more than capable of looking after Summer myself, and I also wanted to spend these quality years with her. But also, I managed to work on a picture book and start a photography business all while Summer napped or just worked late in the night so I guess I was never really not working. It’s just hard to see that when you’re not picking up a pay cheque monthly.

So now, after a few days of sleeping on the floor and scrubbing our walls clean we have shipped our belongings back and have 5 huge suitcases, a car seat and stroller to bring back with us onto the plane.
I have no idea how Summer is taking everything so well. She’s adjusted to not having her toys, her bed and no tv. She knows they’re all on a big ship on their way to Lolo and Lola’s house and she knows she’s going to be going seeing them very soon. Every time she sees a plane in the sky she tells me she’s going on a plane to have an adventure and is super excited about it.
But it breaks my heart her not knowing she won’t get to see best friends all the time. I really don’t want her to forget her time here and am planning on making her a photo book to look back on.
Thank goodness she’s also been brought up knowing about FaceTime. We have already done some practice runs and I’m pretty impressed how two two year olds can actually communicate through looking at an iPad! They both got just as excited to see each other on the screen as they do in real life, so this gave me huge hope that they will forever have some kind of relationship.

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I am going to miss the small things, how I was able to just walk down the street to one of the most picturesque Starbucks and draw/type away. How we would always hear helicopters in the sky. How every time Summer done something great it would be followed up with “good job”. Obviously going to miss the sunshine. I don’t think Mark has worn trousers for two years now and I’m going to miss the general hospitality and welcoming (however fake or not) of people wherever you go.

We had been here through Trumps augmentation, through the craziest water downfall LA had experienced in 30 years and we even felt an earthquake.
I felt like we discovered amazing places and made friends that I now consider family. It’s been the most challenging, heart felt, two years and grateful for this chapter in life.

Los Angeles, city of stars. You will forever have a special place in my heart and already excited to come back.

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Palm Springs and Joshua Tree

We are slowly making our way through the USA bucket list and Palm Springs had been on there for quite a while. So on Memorial weekend I managed to book a last minute hotel and we set off for a mini “banchaaaaa” (adventure) as Summer kept repeating in an excited voice.

A couple of things first though, I thought Palm Springs was a LOT further than it actually is so was expecting long drives with nothing but sand around – it’s not it took us just under 2 hours, and second, everyone kept saying “be careful, it’s hot there” and I was like, okay…but really….but it is actually scorching there!! If I lived there I think I would just have to live in a swimming pool. We welcomed that sunshine with open arms.

 

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So the first day we went look around Palm Canyon Drive and was loving the small boutiques and hat shops. Made me want to buy a hat of course (I didn’t) and fell in love with all the art deco books and postcard and art work they had to offer. I already love the style and look of The Incredibles so it was kind of looking into real life version on this.

We were recommended to go eat at Tylers restaurant for lunch and it was so so good! Food felt really fresh and good size portion and catered for kids well. Then after food it was more walking around. FYI they have the most swankiest Starbucks I have ever seen on that street.

Then a check in to the hotel . To be honest our hotel was nothing special as we literally just needed a place to stay for one night but it was super great it did have a pool and Summer got to splash around and let out all the energy.  She also loved the huge bed and the fact I let her jump around as much as she wanted on it. Mark had it in his head that it would be super fun for us to all stay in one big bed, and yes it was fun- except he forgot that his daughter is one of the most wriggliest sleepers in the world and he ended up waking up with her foot around his neck!

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The next day we went to explore the Indian Canyons and did a bit of research and found the Andreas loop was best suited for us. It’s a one mile round loop around a really awesome oasis in the middle of the canyons. We did the hike pretty early in the morning as we were worried we were going to get frazzled. It’s honestly one of the best hikes i’ve ever done. Even Summer loved it, pointing out all the lizards and Chips and Dales (chipmunks) she could find. It’s a good one with toddler as she could walk most of it. There are a few rocks here and there you have to step up which Mark just carried her.

edited palm springs-8edited palm springs-3edited palm springs-4It honestly felt like we were on a movie set.

Next was to a little town that we had been told about called Pioneer Town. Now, this is no normal town, this was a western movie set made in 1940’s that soon became an actual place to live! It’s pretty cool, like you’ve just walked onto the set of Westworld or you expect a piece of Tumbleweed to just roll on past you.

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Our final destination was the infamous Joshua Tree National Park. I could look at those strange shaped trees all day and would love to camp by them in the near future, but that weekend we just did a quick drive around to the Hidden Valley Trail. 

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The trail was a perfect mix of HUGE rocks, crazy trees, landscapes for days and easy walking marked paths that Summer could enjoy on her own. I know she had a good time because the whole way around (about an hour) she did not stop talking and pointing at every single thing she could see.

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It was a super nice break and felt way longer than 2 days, I guess its because its the memories you get from it makes it feel like so much happened.  Our journey back was interesting. We decided (well, the sat nav decided for us) to kind of go the back route back to LA and it literally felt like we were in the middle of nowhere for a good hour or so. No other cars on the road, the roads had potholes and just vast land as far as we could see.. it was the kind of scene that you imagine on a proper across America road trip with your arm out the window blasting songs, it was kind of like that apart from we had Peppa Pig blasting out the Ipad.

And to end this post, here’s a pic of me and Summer on a rock 😀

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Laguna Beach

The other weekend we managed to adventure out of LA and visit Laguna Beach down in the OC. Now, my only knowledge about this place was from MTV show  – Laguna Beach so I was expecting big houses, long beaches with golden sun and the ladies with over sized sunglasses and little dogs hanging out their designer bags. I was not expecting an abundance of little boutiques and art galleries! – I welcomed the pleasant surprise with a nice boba drink and big smile on my face.

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It was our first trip to the ocean this year and we picked a nice day for it. Even had a little picnic on the only piece of grass we found. I love people watching and we seemed to have picked a perfect spot for it.
I think Summer was pleased to be re acquainted with the sand

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All in all it was a great day trip and change of scenery of Los Angeles. It was on my bucket lists of places to go whilst we lived out on this side. And yeah, I was humming the tune to OC most of the way!

 

January

Just over two weeks into 2018. I might have got that “New Year/New Beginnings” mentality (oh hey, sparkling new gym membership card) but if it means it’s an excuse to have a fresh start and the drive and motivation to try new stuff then I’m all up for it.

I can’t say it’s been the easiest of days at the moment.  I have a lot of friends going through some pretty tough times right now, many unexpected life events and some even devestating, makes me realise once again that i’m so far away from loved ones. This also means I value more of what I have to live for and enjoy each moment as it happens.

On a happier note I know two babies already born this year! Both girls and both adorable and gonna rock the year of the dog.

Some of the things we have been up to:

We found a good Dim Sum place! it’s in San Gabriel called Elite and not all fancy. Just good old fashion tasty food. There’s a bit of a wait but its ok it was worth it. Pretty good way to spend the 1st day of a new year.

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A drawing of our food – with added faces 🙂

Everyone is sick, literally every family I know in LA has caught some kind of lurgy. There’s a crazy stomach bug going on and also the common cold just seem to linger around. Mark and Summer just seem to keep passing it to each other so it just circulates in our home, but touch wood I have been a strong mama and managed to avoid it!
The other day Mark came home feeling pretty rough and Summer laid herself on the floor next to him complete with her blanket and just stayed next to her daddy. It was the cutest.

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Along with that there’s actually been a few days of rain so Summer and me have spent a LOT of time just being at home. It’s okay though – we got out the play dough cake maker machine and have done a lot of dressing up, my love of hats seemed to have been passed down to this little one.

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And then the sun came back and we took a nice wonder around Century City Mall and I got my camera out. This place is seriously built to be Instagrammed!

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So there you have it, just a little update. How’s 2018 been treating you so far?

 

Updates

And boom! just like that 2 months passed by, it’s now July here in L.A and it’s a sweaty one I tell ya!

Some things that have happened:

  • We had the Halsteads over for two weeks at the end of May. 4 adults and two children under the same roof, I have no idea how many strawberries we went through! It also meant 2 birthday celebrations, 3 trips to Disneyland, one including Summers first time (I’ll write about this in a separate blog post) many trips to Target and a weekend being reunited with some friends in San Diego.
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A lil bike ride around Coronado Ferry Landing, San Diego
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Summer practicing her wizardry at Universal Studios 
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our little Minions 
  • we celebrated our first July 4th and spent the daytime with our Korean/Canadian friends eating Italian food – nothing better than celebrating the country you’re in with a big slab on lasagne! And then on to our friends house who are currently residing in Abbot Kinney to watch the fireworks from their rooftop garden. It was a beautiful day full of food and laughter. Lots of ooohs and ahhhs all around, but to be honest it seemed that our neighbourhood had been practicing for this day for a few weeks as we would hear one (just one) firework go off at the same time every single day. And everyday it would make the same dog bark.
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our first 4th July experience 
  • Summer learnt where her belly button is and needs to check its there around 3 times a day. She gives it a little poke and then looks around to show anyone and anything that will have a look.

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  •  I passed my driving test have been driving around like a boss. When I say boss, I mean I can safely drive myself to friends houses, the mall and Summers classes. I still have to tell Mark every single time I get in the car so someone knows what I’m doing, and there are some days where I am literally filled with so much anxiety about even thinking of getting behind the wheel that I’ve almost cancelled a few appointments,  but once I’m in it’s all good and I am actually starting to enjoy it!

 

  • I’m so very nearly finished on the project I’ve been working on over the last few months. It’s a children’s book I’m illustrating based on Noah’s Ark and its about helping children to use the potty. It’s a fun story but of course with it being Noah’s Ark, I have had to draw most animals twice! It’s been a bit of a struggle trying to find that working mumma balance and find myself most nights working once Summer has gone to bed at 8pm until the wee hours of the morning. It will all be worth it in the end though! Here’s a sneak peak of the flamingo.

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  •  Apart from having Nursery rhymes and Moana daily on our tv, we have managed to catch up on a couple of programmes. Have any of you watched these? I’d love to know your opinions.

Master of None – maybe I relate to this more as I have experience being second generation in an asian up bringing in a western culture, but this series has a nice warm feel about it and the tall dude, Arnold really does make me laugh. Him and Dev are definitely a comedy duo.

Flaked this one is more about location. It brings nostalgia to Mark and me as when Summer was first born  we would watch an episode when I would feed her in the early early hours of the night. It was back in London when we knew about the idea of maybe moving to LA but nothing was official and it was all a big dream. Second season on and we are watching it and knowing all the streets and places they’re hanging out in. Once again it’s the other characters, in this case Cooler That makes me laugh. I want a friend like him and his positive attitude.

Okja– this film came onto Netflix recently and I loved the whole art direction of it. Feels like a mix between a Miyazaki film and a Wes Anderson. The vfx of Okja are so impressive and make you want to have one of your own.

Big little lies we have just started this one and I can feel myself getting into it. My first impressions of it were that I have actually met some mums similar to the ones in the programme which makes me chuckle, I’m intrigued to see where this one goes and also makes me want to visit Monterey. It looks beautiful!

So that’s it for now!

What have you been up to?

Mother’s Day and Au Fudge Restaurant

I remember when I was younger asking my mum what she wanted for Mother’s Day, or what she wanted to do, she replied the same thing when it’s her birthday or Christmas – she wants something I have made or just be there for the day. I always thought this was strange but now I completely get it. Mother’s day and its meaning has a whole new sentimental feeling now i’m a mum. It’s a day where you realise that, wow! what you have achieved is actually something quite spectacular. To raise a baby (including animal babies) is hard work! that’s a lot of responsibility for anyone and the fact you have a day to appreciate that must mean its a big deal!
So for my first ever one Mark so very thoughtfully made it a day to remember.

But before we’re going to delve into that I wanted to just talk about the much hyped Au Fudge restaurant. We went there the day before to celebrate Summer’s BFF’s birthday, little Yuna turned one and we needed to make this a big deal so we went to a celebrity owned “kid friendly” Au Fudge restaurant in Beverly Hills. This celebrity happened to be Jessica Biel..and also Justin Timberlake’s wife.

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The cafe area – love the colour scheme here 

My honest opinion though, is that I thought it would be more kid friendly. I mean, the tables and chairs are pretty close together and no strollers are allowed in the actual restaurant. They had a pretty good selection of high chairs but the food options were minimal for the kids (especially for one year olds and under). We opted for the mac and cheese which was pretty tasty and went down well with the babies. What I wasn’t too impressed with though was when they put the food down they told us “be careful the plate is very hot” and then proceeded to put it down RIGHT in reach of Yuna. Luckily Joe spotted this and was there with his protective dad arm to move it completely away. Overall the staff just didn’t seem to like children! maybe its because they’re surrounded by them all day – but we had our reservation for 4.30pm so it wasn’t too busy at all.
The selling point of this place is they have their own “creative space” which is super nice, well decorated, beautiful airy room that kids can play – but, you have to pay to go in! So from the outside it looked pretty nice! I saw they had “au pairs” that work in there that can look after your child whilst you eat – this is a super great idea but think it would be more beneficial for kids 2 and up.
Overall though, the food was delicious – I wanted to take more pics of the food and our seats but the actual restaurant where we ate was pretty dark. Maybe we wouldn’t have noticed it as much if the other rooms weren’t so airy and light, but you can see what I mean in this picture.

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This was taken from in the cafe area- the dark part in the back is where we ate… 

But they do have a fun photobooth and the interior of the place is pretty cool! 

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My advice is if you go to ask for seating in the patio area – it’s bright and colourful in there and looks like it had comfy cushions too! After saying all this though, I would probably still go again, the wine we had was pretty yum and I think as Summer gets older it will be more fun as she can play whilst us guys can get on with adulting!

Mothering Sunday
So the big day arrived and I came downstairs to Summer giving me a card that she had scribbled all over herself. I could already feel myself welling up but just didn’t want to show it, and then Mark with a bunch of flowers telling me we’re getting my present later – I get presents!!

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I came down to this little happy face 🙂 

That present was a trip to the ceramic cafe Color Me Mine in Santa Monica where I got to paint something of my choice! This was creative and sentimental! way to go Dad! we ended up painting an “I love you” mug which is complete with a *really* messy baby hand print. I had free for all with what to do and my mind got a bit carried away and ended up with the most random and most sentimental piece of clay i’ll ever own. I can’t wait to pick it up in a weeks time.

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Next stop was Universal Studios! we have an annual SoCal Pass so its a nice feeling knowing we can kind of go there whenever we want (except for black out dates which we once realised as we pulled into the carpark…) we know we couldn’t really do any of the rides today, but we could just enjoy being there and look around and watch a show. We ended up eating our lunch whilst watching the Transformers “Meet and Greet” (apparently Summer cheered when Megatron came out – everyone else boo’d….) We played in the Minions Super Silly Fun land and we watched the Animal Actors show – which is very entertaining! I didn’t think Summer would be able to follow all the animals, but she was so, so excited every time a dog came onstage or everyone applauded. Much to my surprise and amusement she was right there cheering along with them all.

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Super Silly Fun Land – you get very wet 

IMG_5442Overall I had a super great day with my little family. Just what I needed really as it can sometimes be quite all overwhelming this mothering stuff! Hope you all had a great mothers day too! let me know how you all celebrated 🙂