Let me tell you a little story about a good friend of mine. Actually, I think Jocelyn is more than just a friend – we grew up telling people we were cousins as we already called each others families aunties etc, we had spent so much time together growing up listening to all the boybands, learning all the dance moves to the biggest RnB artists out at the time, we spent nights completing Street Fighter with EVERY character on the SNES (still one of my biggest achievements in life) and we were in a lot of classes together through High School. When the internet was just coming big we even shared an email address! now, that is definitely a bestie.
But all those nights dancing around in the living room using the remotes as mics came in handy for Jos as she went on to becoming a model and being a member to a huge girl group, Kitty Girls, in the Philippines. – (for me, not so much, it was only put into practice on drunk karaoke nights) but while she was on the other side of the world being a mega superstar and I was burying my head in work in London we always kept in contact and I could always count on her to be there for me. We were even lucky enough to go and visit her while she was out there, and when she was in UK visiting we would make sure to see each other (and eat all the food she has missed).
So now for the first time in 14 years we live in the same country, and even the same state!! and what makes it even crazier is that we both now have children. I was very lucky recently to take photos of her newest addition, the beautiful Kingsley Rose. This was a special shoot as Kingsley’s dad was currently deployed with the Marines and he hadn’t met her yet. Also Auntie Zeny was visiting too so we got to get some pics with her in them.
It was so great to see Summer and Harley playing together too. Summer loves Harley so much she has even named one of her bears after her. Harley has such a sweet nature and took it naturally to become a big sister to Kingsley.
I am so grateful for the short time we got to spend together while we are both in the same place, we’ve done pretty well, we’ve had a more than a few trips down to see her in Murietta and at 8 months preggo Jocelyn and Harley came to visit us in LA where we got to show them some of our sites (what a trooper!)
Jocelyn, Brandon and the girls will be moving to North Carolina soon so who knows when we will get to hang out again like this. But I do know that friendships like this are forever so i’m already excited about the all the new memories we will make together.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
But they do have a fun photobooth and the interior of the place is pretty cool!
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!
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!!
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.
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.
Overall 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 🙂
Last year I remember our Easter being bit of a blur as we had just had Summer but I do remember I had eaten more chocolate than any human should have – I had eaten so much that it was affecting our newborn babies tummy and she was suffering from terrible wind and me feeling terribly guilty. So soon after that I had to say bye to all those delicious chocolate bunnies we had left.
This year though, I could eat as much chocolate as I wanted, except…they don’t have Easter Eggs like they do in UK! Crazy right! I thought so. But..they do love a good old Easter Egg hunt and with a child its kind of like the law to do one.
So when Mina asks us if we had any plans I invited her and her husband Joe and little Yuna over for a good old Sunday Roast at the Tompkins household…complete with an Egg hunt for the babies.
They arrived and of course we had the babies dressed in appropriate Easter attire and Mina pulled out a pair of rabbit ears too.
The Sunday roast went down a treat. Mark was very keen on making the best ever roast potatoes ( he was watching over me like a hawk even at the peeling stage) and my job was the Yorkshire puddings. Except, I went and messed that up. Used the wrong flour didn’t I and boom…burnt bottoms, I refused to serve the burnt bottoms, but made up for it with making cauliflower cheese from scratch!
For the Easter Egg hunt we got plastic eggs from Target that were already filled with chocolates and I went around placing them all at baby height around the living room. Every time one of the babies picked one up we would cheer and they would smile. As usual, Summer realised and got super excited every time she picked one up and would cheer so loudly for herself.
It was a really nice way to spend our first Easter here in LA. We usually have this day with family so did feel homesick whilst getting out the Bistro gravy but now have great memories of the day.
I can’t believe it’s only been just over 3 months since we moved here, and a part of me can’t believe we’ve actually already been here 3 months already. This is one of those moments when time and logic don’t seem to be working side by side for me, everything feels so slow and yet so fast at the same time.
I’m not gonna say everything has been a bed of roses and its fair to say that we had a few low points in the first 2 months, there were battles with landlords/banks/shipping/permits etc but I guess that’s normal when moving to the other side of the world – we don’t know. We’ve never done anything like this before!
But since 2017 arrived we seem to be finding our feet a bit better and getting some kind of “routine” down. I’ve made some friends here and we’ve worked out where to get our groceries, best sushi, art materials – you know, the essentials from:)
So I thought now would be a good time to write down my top 10 (no particular order) of things I really like about living in LA. It would be interesting if I still feel the same a year down the line.
2. Culver City – everyone says that you need to drive in LA, but with Culver City where we are residing we seem to have a lot on our doorstep. I mean at the bottom of our road is a hospital, Starbucks AND Sony Studios! we decided to live here as we it’s where Mark’s work is based and we thought at the beginning at least it would be good to not have much commute time. Plus we had Alee and our friends already living here which made it very appealing.
3. Our new table. It was one of those things I had envisioned before we arrived here that we would have this big table and we would have family meals there and have sketchbooks laid out ready to just draw when we want. And since it’s made itself into our living room it’s been exactly that, I am loving the games nights we have around it with our friends. right now I have a half -done puzzle waiting for me to finish it. But, we don’t have any chairs yet so we’re sitting on our boxes full of boxes from our shipping.
4. How soft the towels come out of the dryer. So apparently we’re spoilt as we have a washer and dryer in our apartment! In UK this is standard but not so much here, you’re good if you have one in the same building as your apartment, but to have one actually inside is pretty unique. I am LOVING the ways the towels come out so warm and fluffy, makes me feel like we’re staying in a hotel. But it does make sense why there are scenes in Friends and Big Bang Theory where they hang out in laundrettes all the time – ah the joys of learning life through sit coms.
5. Unlimited data on my phone. I know this one is a bit of a first world thing to bring up, but honestly I feel so lucky to have it! To have this in the UK would be super expensive but out here it seems to be the norm. I’ve found this most helpful when we are lost on our random outings and also those occasions where we need to calm Summer in her car seat – queue Bare Necessities on Youtube on repeat!
6. The sunny weather. It’s very cliche to put this in but it’s true. The weather is so glorious, well its supposedly is. We just happened to move here in the wettest winter since forever (right now there’s actually a storm outside) but when the sun does shine its so lovely! The whole place comes alive and everything just feels that much cooler. I like the vibe that goes with it too – so many places to get ice cream, beaches, everyone on skateboards, sunglasses and cold drinks everywhere! and the sunsets are just stunning.
8. Amylee – she’s my cousin, but she’s more than that. Even though we grew up in different countries we always laugh so much when we’re together, since we’ve moved out here she’s helped us out more than we can imagine- even took us (and our millions of bags) in on the night we had nowhere to live! It’s also amazing to see how much Summer already loves her. It’s such a comforting feeling knowing you have family this nearby when you’ve moved so far out of your comfort zone. Thank you Alee, for the continuous help, the Backstreet Boy drives and the many Ramen’s we will eat together.
9. Mina and Yuna – I will make a separate blog post about these two as I have so much to say about them, but they need to go on my list as they’re one of my favourite things that have happened to me since we’ve moved out here. Mina and Yuna are amazing and they like to eat ice cream. Here’s a pic to prove it.
10. Target – Fun fact, when we first moved to US and were living in the hotel I went to Target everyday. Literally everyday – you would think with no actual home I wouldn’t be able to find things to buy but I really, really did! It’s been our saviour on many occasion and then when Jocelyn introduced me to the Bullseye app it was a game changer. All that choice and the prices pretty low – what’s not to love about that magical place.
So there you have it. There’s my list – materialistic it may be it’s these things that make a place feel more like a home and less like a holiday. Looking forward to expanding this list with our time here. What would you add on yours?
To the lady who was on the bus with me from Abbot Kinney to Culver City. Thank you so much for the bracelet you gave to Summer.
Summer was crying because she wanted to get out and crawl around, which she couldn’t as the bus was packed and she was strapped to me like a little kangaroo. I know you thought it was because she thought she was hungry and decided to tell everyone on the bus you thought that, at first I couldn’t hear you as the screaming from Summer was pretty loud and so you came to sit nearer to me.
As I am British and therefore used to people just staring at the wall or looking at their phones on public transport I was a bit reluctant when you wanted to start a conversation with me. But I’m glad we did and your singing really did calm Summer down. You then were kind enough to take off your plastic bracelet, you had to pull over your hospital band and other bangles too just to take it off. You told me to give it to Summer when she was old enough to wear it and I said I would.
Summer saw the bracelet though and immediately wanted to tug it. As we were getting off the bus I let her hold it as it was making her so happy, a little too happy and excitable that I didn’t realise that she had dropped it just as we were stepping off the bus. It wasn’t until the bus pulled away that I noticed she wasn’t holding it anymore.
So I am very sorry that I am not able to give it to her when she’s old enough to wear it. But I do want to remember you and the kind gesture, and to thank you for breaking down my barrier of thinking strangers (especially on the bus) are all a bit strange. It’s hard to sometimes get past the first appearance of someone before you see how big their hearts are.
Sawtelle Blvd is its on Japantown, but what we loved about this place (apart from the best cheap Japanese store Daiso with its surgical feeling lights and random things they sold – we came out with nail clippers, a lunch bag, and a mirror..) was they have a really nice Filipino inspired bakery called B Sweet. I had visited before with Alee but after our $2.25 a dish splurge on sushi at Kula and then shaved ice at Blockheads we just couldn’t fit anything else in our bellies, so I had said I would go back another time and today was the day!
It’s towards the end of the street and you have to resist getting bubble tea from many of the cafes along the way, but then there it is all lit up with a cute outside area to sit and eat your treats
We ended up getting a doughnut, but not just any, oh no! This one had ube ice cream in the middle, I mean look at that purple just calling you to eat it!
Next is a personal favourite Filipino dessert of mine, halo halo! This version had both ube and ube ice cream as well as leche flan! But me personally, I feel like it needed more condensed milk
We sat outside with our goods (and so I can take pictures) and I noticed this sweet little sign with the plants
Also, there was a couple who showed up with the best most well groomed poodles, and you know that saying that dogs look like their owners? Well this was the case for sure, one of the dogs was even sat like his owner!
This is Steph. She’s awesome. We met at university and bonded whilst burying burnt sausages in the sand on Bournemouth beach. We then moved to London together and have no idea how we survived the first 6 months since neither of us had secured jobs, just desire in our hearts knowing that’s where we should be. When she told me that her and her partner in crime, Will, are travelling for minimum 9 months I was so excited for them, then she told me that she will be stopping over in LA I was even more excited!
So Steph with her super awesome organising skills messaged me a few a days before and had an itinerary all worked out, even down to where to eat! We were going to La Brea Tar pits! This place has its own magic. Who knew such amazing creatures like woolly mammoths used to roam the central streets of LA before any of these big celebrities did! It’s a really nice place and loved seeing the actual atrcheologists hard at work and cleaning up the bones.
Social security office
If I want this blog to be real on how I have spent my days in LA then I have to write about the social security office, as that’s where I had spent a good few hours a week with Jennifer and Summer. After our first initial visit to register for our numbers we went back the week later to see if we can get our number before we get the physical copy. Your SSN is like your identity out here, I have been told by many people that you should never carry your card with you or give out the number willy nilly. Without itmeans that we can’t really rent a home, open bank accounts or get phone contracts and most importantly Mark can’t get paid. These are some of the reasons we wanted to get the number early.
Kidville – 7th November 2016
There’s this special place called Kidville that Alee introduced me to. It’s a place to take your kids to where they can go nuts and let out all their energy in the soft play gym.
And this happened to be the place where Summer could really stretch her legs and perfected her crawling.
There is no turning back now for her. I need eyes on the back of my head.
They also do classes there and we enrolled to Rock n Rollin Acoustic. I had been to baby classes with Summer in London and once you get into the swing of them they are amazing, I loved seeing how babies react to different sounds and songs. But this class was on another level. Since Summer was in my tummy Mark had been playing guitar to her so she loves them. Now this class involved the teacher and his guitar and another teacher who sang and harmonised. Harmonised! We were in for such a treat and the quality is so good. Summer enjoyed herself so much! And when Grandma puppet came out she couldn’t take her eyes off it! It was so nice to find this class and left singing the Baby Beluga song all the way home.
we celebrated 3 times…3 years of marriage = 3 celebrations (not really, it just happened!)
27/11 – Moana
After a long drive back from San Diego we managed to escape in the evening to watch Moana. Our anniversary is on Wednesday and it made more sense to watch it then to make it special, but somebody couldn’t wait that long so we had to see it tonight. Alee to the rescue and she came over after she was done at work to watch sleeping Summer.
It was worth the wait, I loved Moana- the music made me have goosebumps and the renders of the whole movie was so beautiful. All the characters were well thought out and sometimes random. The only thing missing (which isn’t that big a deal) is there was no love interest, no Prince Charming- which isn’t a bad thing, just guess it being a Disney movie and Moana being a “princess” I thought they would have someone. Guess I’m just a big soppy romantic at heart.
Who knew that buying bath mats would make your house feel cosier – non anniversary information, just thought it was blog worthy! (hah!)
30/11 – actual anniversary
Everyone tells you that your actual wedding day goes so fast so savour the moment, but I honestly think it didn’t go fast at all and love reminiscing about the little things that happened that day. I caught myself thinking quite a few times saying “this time three years ago I was…” and each time it still gave me butterflies and filled me with the fondest memories. I can’t believe its actually been three years since we got married, so much has happened.
Once you’re married, there is a tradition that every year is represented by gifts made from certain materials , in theory this makes it easier to find gifts – but if you’re like me and sometimes get carried away, you end up innocently telling people the wrong information and getting wooden gifts instead of leather! oops.
and we were in pajamas by 8.30pm watching The Walking Dead – so romantic!
04/12 Downtown Disney
Before we even had our flights booked to move to US we had it in our heads that we will spend our next anniversary at our happy place, Disneyland. Ah, it’s got so many special memories for Mark and me and the thought of being able to go there as it’s “just down the road” made it a perfect excuse to go. But, realistically it’s a 45 minute Uber ride away. Not one to give broken promises Mark said let’s go!
But….the more we thought about it, we realised that if we went into the actual parks we couldn’t go on many big rides unless we went alone as we would need someone to stay with Summer, and although we would have loved her to actually meet the real life Olaf and Baloo we can also wait until she would actually remember. So we compromised. we went to Downtown Disney. Now this place has its own magic and is full of great stores so we could do our Christmas shopping And being so close to the festive season the place was covered in beautiful twinkly lights that made everyone smile. I had been saying to Mark that I hadn’t felt too Christmassy this year but then we discovered Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel which had one of the most memorable Christmas trees I had seen in a while, I mean look at it!
It was enough in there to even make Scrooge feel festive.
We managed to buy a lot of gifts (or ourselves a lot of gifts) so came home very happy. One thing I got myself was this amazing pin from Up. I don’t know where to put it though!