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.
This is a jet lag, vanilla iced coffee induced blog post. We are 2 days back from a wonderful trip back to UK after 10 months of being away. My head is full of funny memories and my belly is stuffed full from all the chocolate, cakes, Nandos, fish and chips and Chinese we could handle! I could write for days about what we got up to, but I’m just gonna put some little things here. Our time was split between both families and luckily they’re only an hour and half away from each other. I like to refer to that particular journey as “the coastal tour” as its along the south coast and we used to do this trip every Christmas and probably all the other holiday seasons in UK – it’s the trip with all the roundabouts.
The wedding The whole reason why we came back and the best reason is because Marks little brother Alex was marrying the wonderful Emma. This was a wedding of two beautiful souls and you could see every single detail they have put into it. It was great how they incorporated their love for the beach and surfing into the decorations and the music was amazing due to Alex’s involvement with music. They also used a real sword to cut their cake!
Summer was a flower girl too which made it even more special and with a ton of breadsticks and Moana on hand we managed to get her smiling down the aisle.
The weather It was a wet week in Bournemouth, which actually was quite a nice and refreshing! But… three days into it kind of changing our plans I was quickly over it and thinking of those blue LA skies! It was strange to be back in many layers and actually on the first day we had to make a shopping stop to buy Mark a jacket and Summer more warmer trousers.
The many animals we saw So I realised that having your own children means you get to go back to places that live in your own childhood memories, and that’s really fun!
In Bournemouth we made a trip to Farmers Palmers where we met horses, fed goats, got lost in a maize maze, held Guinea pigs, rode go karts and played in a haystack full of slides.
In crawley we went to Tilgate Park where we stroked donkeys, watched meerkats, spotted pigs, pretended to be kangaroos and saw swans in the lakes
In Brighton we went to Drusillas Park and watched many, many monkeys, saw penguins being fed, more horses and pigs, lots of birds and many exotic ones too like the servals and Binturongs!
Before Mark and me even had Summer we loved animals (Mark actually proposed to me at the zoo!) so to see Summers reaction to wanting to pet every animal she saw made everything feel so much more special. She was getting good at pointing them out in her books, but to see them in real life, that was just amazing for her. And with all these trips we went with family members and good friends, it was great to see how much joy the animals brought to them too, but mainly for them to see Summers personality.
Obviously one of the drawbacks of moving to another country is being away from loved ones. And going back means you want to cherish every moment you have with them. It makes my heart melt when I see Summer pouring pretend tea with her great grandma or how she calls both my parents Yaya and Yaya. I loved how her face lit up everytime her grandma entered the room (you should have seen her when she came in with a fascinator on her head!) or how she just wants to play with Bailey and Bradley – the family dogs. I loved watching her chase Zoe-Beth around and around and around and how she would just stare at her uncle Alex and uncle Brett.
Every time I think of those memories it makes me want to just pack everything up and run back home, but also know that there is so much more of America that Mark, Summer and me need to explore whilst we are here. Thank goodness for technology and FaceTime and all other devices that make it so simple for us to just call home and see a friendly face when things get a bit too tough for me out here
So these are just small things I’m touching on about our time back. What do you look forward to most when going back to your roots?
Half a year of being an American citizen. It also happened to be the wettest 6 months California has had (The rainy season now ranks 2nd all time in 122 years of records) maybe it was a weird way of the world making it easier for us to ease ourselves into living here! Anyways, here are 6 small updates since I last wrote on here at Easter.
No particular order
1. More furniture
For the longest time we had our TV on a huge cardboard box that the table came in. It served its time well but was showing signs of dipping and knew with having guests coming to stay it was time to finally get a proper table. Well, we kind of cheated as it’s actually a book case turned on its side from Ikea but it fits our living space well and it seems to be ok when it comes to being baby proof. We also got this amazing teepee from Toys R Us to hide all of Summers toys, she loves it and it’s like her own little space that she can rule.
2.Driving Those who know me well know I have a proper fear of the roads. This stems from being hit by a car when I was 16 which prevented me ever having the need to pass my driving test. But I did at the ripe old age of 27 and actually did it in London! If you’ve ever driven in London you know how crazy the roads are and alas, this meant I was never really one to want to hop behind the drivers seat and go for a ride. So I became dependent on public transport (which is so good in London) and Mark driving us around. But LA is a driving ball game. It’s not as practical to rely on public transport and literally you have streets where there are just no pedestrian walkways. So I have to bite the bullet and just do it. Apart from the fact that you’re on the right side of the road which makes me automatically want to be driving too far right, and the fact that you can actually turn right on corners on a RED traffic light (whaaat) its starting to feel more “normal”. To make it easier the car we ended up getting is automatic one less thing to worry about with clutch control and I can’t just roll backward when on a hill.( That one had made its way into my subconsciousness and become a reoccurring nightmare for me)
So now I just need to battle freeways and I’m on my way. One piece of advice I got for freeways was it’s exactly the same as driving on the normal roads except you’re going really, really fast! See, should have nothing to worry about! Eek
3.Summer can now walk When did this baby grow up so fast? eyes needed all over my head now – this girl is walking/stumbling/falling/running/dancing her way around and its amazing to watch. I tried to capture some of her expressions and poses through drawing
At the time of writing this we have NOT finished the series. This alone is a little problem as it’s literally all I can think about. I’m one of those people who doesn’t realise how much to affects my brains and thoughts and moods and especially my dreams. I mean, I had a dream the other night that I had died and come back invisible and that was after watching Petes Dragon! So when it comes to TV series I need to pace it out, for the sake of my heart. But this series is different. I just wanted to keep watching and watching, we even did 4 episodes in a row!
There’s something very compelling and haunting about it. Maybe the fact it’s kind of relatable as we all went to high school and know people like the characters, or maybe it’s the topics they’re covering in the series. It’s probably a mix of good story telling and right casting and actors that makes it so addictive, but I also kind of want to get to the end so I can carry on with life. I do know though that hopefully it will make people think more before judging and consider their consequences of their actions a bit more. On another note, I really do miss listening to my walkman. Anyone else want to have the yellow one like in Fern Gully? I bet my Michael Jackson tape would have sounded even better on that if I owned it.
Any of you guys watched it? what do you think?
5. My book came out in Spanish
Some of you might know or even own my first book I illustrated called Mr Mustachio! It was such a great project to work on and loved all the media hype behind it too. So when the other day I had a quick look at my Twitter I was thrilled and surprised to see I had been in tagged with this picture from the publishers of the book now out in Spanish!
Everyone say “hola Don Mostachio!”
6. New Book deal
And this leads onto my new book deal! I am currently working on a really fun project which I can’t say too much about but it does involve Noah’s Ark and potties…lots of them. I can’t wait to share more of it all with you guys soon!
How has your last 6 months been? let me know i’d love to hear!
Thanks for reading 🙂
One whole trip around the sun – we hope we have made it a good one for you, this time last year we had no idea how much you would fulfil our lives with your gummy smiles, cheeky laugh, continuous chatting and your infectious ways of getting us to play with you. We didn’t know how much Bare Necessities we had to sing or how we need to carry snacks on us at all times to feed your healthy appetite.
You surprise us everyday whilst we watch you grow into such a beautiful girl.
27th December – So the Christmas festivities feel like they are slowly ramping down, which is strange as usually at this time in the UK it becomes Mark and mines most busiest period trying to cram in seeing as many people as possible along the south coast and end up with at least 4 Christmas dinners and a couple of trips to China Garden (ahh I miss China Garden)
I spent a long time feeling like I’m missing a whole whirlwind of magical moments of Christmas 2016, every time I logged onto social media I was seeing pics of people at Winter Wonderland in London or people talking about the adverts on TV, everyone was dressing in an abundance of layers and glamming up for their Christmas parties, which was really lovely but made me realise how it still feels very much like I’m in a bubble out here. Slowly the decorations were coming out in LA and the music was playing in all the shops, but I’m just not sure if I’m ever going to get used to seeing a Christmas tree next to a palm tree.
But to make the most of the situation I seemed to have come across quite a lot of mega huge Christmas trees!
First stop Santa Monica where we met the main man himself Mr Santa Clause. Now this is the most spectacular of all Santa’s I’ve ever encountered. He had a real beard, he had shiny buckles, he had a jolly voice and he also had a key… this is attention to detail and I was mega impressed. Summer on the other hand, not so much. Poor girl had just woken up and then she was placed in the lap of some big guy with white beard, it was all too much and the screaming started, then the lady with the big camera and huge flash starting clicking away and I could see Summers eyes darting around trying to make sense of everything whilst looking for mummy and daddy who were trying to calm her down.
When I think of downtown LA I think of the Staples Center and this is where LA live is!
At the time we went it was sponsored by Target so the bullseye red and white signs were everywhere along with a giant snow globe and crazy inflatables, but overall it did actually feel pretty festive there.
Also they had the biggest Christmas tree I ever did see right in the middle of the ice rink. It’s nice to just stare at it. I’m not sure if I just wanted to feel more in the spirit and plus it was actually pretty cold but I was there wearing my red bobble hat!
For a way to meet new people locally I joined this group called Culver City Moms and it’s great! Nice way to make me feel less lonely, they are always sending invites to events. One invite was to a neighbourhood party at Culver Studios just around the corner and they had built a cute ice rink (synthetic) and had fake snow covering the place. We all got our free hot drinks (hot choco) and huddled around watching the ice skaters. The lighting of the place was pretty good – I guess they had access to the best lighting in town being a studio! We found out that they filmed the likes of E.T, Beetlejuice, Hook, The Matrix to name but a few on these grounds. That’s pretty magical.
Never would I have thought I would be spending one Christmas Eve on Venice beach, but that’s what happened and it was such a marvelous and a (very) windy day. We got the bus! Which for one seems to be a totally taboo thing to do out here, but it’s actually fine. I mean yeah, there are a few colourful characters now and again but they’re harmless and you get them anywhere you are in the world, right?
We found this shop along Venice beach that sold the nicest skateboards our eyes ever did see. It didn’t take long before Mark and me were there picking out our favs and dreaming of our new life where we have them on us and just whip them out and whizz around and weaving through crowds of people, totally forgetting that we have a very wriggly 9 month old too!
Still though, we might get one each for the future. One thing thats so great about the vibe here is that anyone and everyone seems to be trying to skate along here. It’s so refreshing to see girls/boys/men and women all there with their planks of wood and its all totally normal and acceptable.
We ended up walking from Venice to Santa Monica along the boardwalk with the windy breeze in our hair and big smile on our face.
The big day had arrived! and Summer gave us a small Christmas gift by sleeping until 7am…7am!! Thank you!
Having a first Christmas is one of those moments where you want it to be memorable and “perfect” for them. In reality though, Summer is only 9 months old and is she really going to remember this? I better record all of it though in case she ever wants to see it! So I rush downstairs and turn on all the sparkly lights before Mark and Summer make their entrance to see what Santa has left them as I wait grinning with my camera in hand. All week I had spent my time shielding off the poor Christmas tree whilst Summer attacked it with her sticky hands and tried to hang off it using the baubles as grips to hold herself up. Then there’s the wrapping paper battles, countless times I would find her with glitter round her mouth where she’s had a nibble.
So on 25th December I thought I would let her go crazy and had all her gifts laid out for her. And low and behold she was just not interested in them! We spent the next couple of hours giving her gifts trying to get her to look at each one separately, but really all she wanted to do was to play with the first one we gave her. In my head I thought she was gonna go crazy with all the wrapping paper and presents but in reality I think it was all a bit overwhelming for her! She did love all the gifts, especially her new walker – personally I think she looks a bit like an old lady trying to walk with a zimmer frame but I think she’s loving her new found freedom.
Next was a lot of Skype calls to U.K. To family and friends and was great to see their faces but then suddenly it was time to put the ham in the oven! And boy did that ham come out well! Thanks Mum for the recipe!
3pm and we went to Leandre and Carolines house, here’s a list of what we brought
Victoria sponge cake
Mulled Wine ingredients
4 x games
Summers new Zimmer frame walker
Summers pyjamas and blanket
a lot of snacks
They only live around the corner, but it was a struggle to get it all there, and of course we forgot things so Mark had to run back.
We spent the rest of the afternoon evening eating (a mix of English, Filipino, French and Russian food), playing games (who knew there was a game called Love Letter: Batman!) oh and of course there was Home Alone on in the background – I forget every year how great that film is, we got so into it that we ended up watching Home Alone 2 straight after!
Although I missed my family and it felt strange not being in UK I had a great day and know i’ll remember this one for a long time.
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!