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So, like, a couple of weeks back Jian & I took our little bean back to Los Angeles to spend time with our ever-expanding extended family. Since Jian doesn’t have much vacation time saved up yet, he took this opportunity to turn our visit into a work-slash-family trip. Also, this gave him a prime chance to snoop around his company department’s newly renovated Los Angeles office. While Jian worked during the day, I would take our little bean out on little excursions around town or go & visit relatives (namely my aunt, who is one of my little bean’s favorite family members).

This recent trip was unlike any other trip we have gone on before. Sure, I have previously tagged along with Jian on a few of his work trips to Vancouver, BC, but I had already been used to spending my free time alone & doing things for myself, like making appointments for specialty manicures at my favorite nail salon, getting impromptu tickets to an art museum, or hopping on the subway to explore a semi-distant neighboring town. On this trip I had to plan my days around my little bean, making sure I had easy access to family style (a.k.a. changing-table accessible) bathrooms & kid-friendly eateries. I also had to take into account my little bean’s napping schedule. After all, I didn’t want to be stuck out at some inconvenient place dealing with a half-asleep, cranky toddler all by myself.

Usually as a family unit, we prefer to book a stay at a Marriott branded hotel. We get lots of perks & an advantageous friends & family discounted rate. However, on this trip we stayed at a different hotel (courtesy of Jian’s company corporate discount) in a completely different area of Los Angeles that we’ve never stayed at or explored much before. On this trip, we decided to stay at the hotel recommended by Jian’s company (mostly for it’s corporate discount & walkability to Jian’s L.A office) in Culver City, which turned out to be a great idea. Jian was able to take an 8 minute walk to & from his office every day, & I was able to have free access to our family car so I could take our little bean on daytime excursions.

For this trip we stayed at The Shay hotel, & though it was extremely close to Jian’s L.A office, it was not so convenient for us if we wanted to take a quick trip to visit our relatives who mostly live in the San Gabriel Valley region. Although, visiting my older brother in his little beach town in the South Bay was much easier for us.This location turned out to be a good fit for our little family’s work/vacation hybrid trip. There were just enough things to do immediately around our hotel to keep my little bean entertained, while allowing Jian easy access to his temporary office on his work days.

I had meant to take first photos of our hotel room, like I had previously mentioned in my last post. However, with such an active little kid in tow who just happens to love hotel rooms, I completely forgot to take any photos until after we had already settled in. Our room was not very spacious, but not small either. It was very adequate in size for just the three of us. Jian & I have experienced the more smaller layout hotel rooms in Asia (mostly in Japan), & our hotel room in London was super compact, so we don’t necessarily mind the size of our rooms as long as they are functional to our family’s needs. I would say this hotel’s room layout was very functional & well designed, & we loved the decor aesthetics.

The front entryway of our hotel room consisted of a semi-long hallway/passageway of wall-to-wall mirrors to the main bedroom area. My immediate impression was that the hallway was a wasted space. They could have taken out one mirror panel & extended the countertop space where the dresser/mini-fridge is to add in a dedicated desk space. That way, there wouldn’t be such a bulky round table in front of the sofa-bench area which seemed a little too big for where it was originally placed & a little unnecessary for the room anyway. However, we were able to make use of the long-ish hallway by parking our stroller near the doorway & lining up all of our thoroughly used shoes to keep organized.


As I have probably said in previous travel posts, when I stay at a hotel, one of the first things I scope out is the bathroom; the size, the layout, all of it. One thing that really bothers me about staying in hotels, is when the entire layout is all out of proportion. For example, when we stayed at the EDITION Hotel in London, our bathroom was cussing huge, as in as big as a walk-in closet huge. Yet, the sleeping area was practically the size of a broom closet. The room’s overall layout was totally out of whack. (Who makes the bathroom bigger than the sleeping area? I mean, the towel rack doesn’t have to be 50 feet away from the shower.) So that one experience is why I get very picky particular about the bathrooms when I stay at hotels. The bathrooms should be functional, yet proportionally sized to the room.

I was very satisfied with this hotel’s bathroom situation. At first, when I saw the extra vanity space I was a little disappointed. I don’t do my makeup or hairstyles requiring more than 3 steps, so I initially felt the vanity was unnecessary, but it ended up being a blessing in disguise. We ended up using it to store all of our extra toiletries & kids bath-time gear. It proved to be valuable counter space after all. I don’t think I need to go into further details about the rest of the bathroom. It was all quite standard & very suitable for our little family.


Our hotel room was considered a balcony suite, & it did feel like a suite. It was very spacious & comfortable room. The closet wasn’t very big, but it was deep & had enough space to fit our jumbo sized Away suitcase. There was ample lighting throughout the room, & even the bathroom had a motion sensor night light (a convenient amenity for my frequent nighttime bathroom trips). There was no in-room desk for Jian to work remotely, but there was a rather large round table next to the sofa bench, which I thought was kind of a waste of space. The desk was heavy & hard to move out of the way, but where it was positioned made it a little clumsy to get around to the other side of the very comfortable bed. One thing I really liked about this room was there were more than enough USB ports & plug outlets next to the bed & around the room in general for everyone’s electronics.


This balcony was such a luxury. We probably used it only 3 times during our entire stay, but when we had used it, it was great. I had lost the other photos taken of this balcony, so please bear with me as I try to fumble my way through a proper description using just this one photo. To the left was a single patio chair & side table that we never sat on. To the right was a semi-comfortable patio sofa/bench. We borrowed the throw pillows from the seating inside our room to make the outdoor seating more comfortable.

Surprisingly on this trip to L.A, it wasn’t very hot every day, so we didn’t have much opportunities anyway to enjoy the outdoor patio. Occasionally, while my little bean was napping, I’d make myself a very lackluster Nespresso coffee pod drink & sit out on the balcony whilst playing games on my tablet. I’d like to say that my little bean was on ‘vacation mode‘ & that’s the reason why she was having a hard time taking her daily naps, but she’s been having trouble with her usually consistent napping schedule for quite some time & even more after that. This balcony was great while we used it, but we hardly were able to use it. We never brought our little bean out on to the patio for safety reasons. I had once tried to snoop out the apartments across the way from us, but almost all of those apartments had their shades fully drawn. Shucks.


So that was a phot review of our moderate & cozy hotel room during our work-cation. This particular trip with our little bean was one of the most fun L.A trips we’ve had in a long time. It was a perfect balance of Jian working during the day & meeting up with the two of us in the afternoons, while I spent quality one-on-one bonding time with my little bean. I really tested my limits, improved my skills in taking care of & handling my little bean without any help, & let me tell you that I am a very co-dependent person who relies on Jian for a lot of hand-holding help. On this trip, I had to take care of my little bean & myself…all by myself. I really felt like a mom who matured & built up my self-confidence by at least 5 to 10 percent.

I am so happy that my little bean loves to travel & explore new places. I also love that she doesn’t need any time adjusting to hotel life, compared to other kids who practically have to make the room an exact replica of their home bedroom or else they can’t get sleep. My little bean is an adventurer. I can’t wait for the many adventures we’ll embark on as a little family unit in the future. Which reminds me…in three weeks, we’re going on yet another trip. It’ll be Jian’s birthday, & we made plans to take our little bean on a glamping trip. I will talk more about it in an upcoming post. Until the next trip, cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

I always promised myself that if I ever have a little bean I would not get overloaded with too much baby/kid stuff, like toys & playthings. It’s so easy to fall into that trap of wanting to get your little bean all the cute things you find. I truly envy those Europeans whose homes don’t look like children live there at all. Also those Euro-parents that can fit everything their baby needs into a super slim backpack. After taking my little bean on multiple trips, I tend to look at what other parents pack so I can take notes & pair down all of my essential items.

I’ve seen moms who bring out backpacks the size of suitcases, filled to the brim with everything (probably the kitchen sink too), & I have always made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t be that mom with the ginormous diaper bag (or one that remotely looked like a traditional diaper bag). The bag I use to carry my little bean’s diapering tools is still quite large-&-in-charge, but I think I’ve been able to slim it down as much as possible. Here is my ultimate list of top 3 absolute must-have essential items that I keep in my diaper bag at all times.

01.

A spare change of clothes. I have a small Ziplock bag with a spare long-sleeve onesie, leggings & a pair of socks packed in my bag at all times. It is inevitable that any little bean will “spill their beans” (no pun intended) while out & about. A spare change of clothes is absolutely necessary to have on-hand. Even if you’re only at the grocery store or shopping mall, you don’t want to keep your kid in their poopy clothes until you get home. It’s better to swap out their clothes wherever you can (I’ve done it in the trunk of my car), & it minimizes the chance of a little bean public freak out because they’re stinky, sticky & wet. (I also pack a spare Ziplock bag to throw the dirty/wet clothes in.)


02.

A first aid kit. I keep a small pouch in my bag for first-aid items like: bandages, a Tide stain remover pen, a pair of folding scissors, & a mini pill case filled with emergency adult items (i.e. Tylenol, acid reducers, etc.). I also keep a small tube of gum soothing gel for my little bean since she is currently going through her difficult teething phase. And you know, for mom specifically, I keep a little stash of sanitary napkins for those special times-of-the-month, if you know what I mean. Having a first-aid kit in the bag is super useful & can be customized to suit any family’s needs. It has come in handy many times while we’ve been on the road with no convenience store or pharmacy nearby.


03.

A fidget toy. My little bean is kind of weird & likes to play with things she can easily chew on like: straws, plastic spoons, or coffee drink stoppers. Pretty much anything she can gnaw on is her new favorite “toy”du jour, & no, she’s not into traditional teething toys or those silicone rings you pop in the freezer. However, I have found those pop-it fidget toys made popular by the mini-millennials of TikTok are an easy & affordable toy you can throw into any bag/purse to entertain your little bean while on the go. These toys are great because not only are they fidgets, some of them are made of BPA-free silicones/plastics, which is safe for the little bean to chomp on. I got my little bean the flower press toy by mushie (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09Q55NT9Q/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1), & I’m so glad I thought of keeping it in her diaper bag. We’ve already used it at restaurants when she’s starting to get a little restless, & it’s kept her entertained for at least until we’re ready to pay our tab. I also love these toys because it’s inevitable for the little bean to drop everything on the floor after they get bored, & these toys are super easy to wipe down & throw back into your bag.


Those three items are the absolute top items I must bring with me at all times when I take my little bean out. Even if I don’t pack a traditional diaper bag when I take my bean on a little outing, I will definitely pack these three things in a mini bag. There are a couple of other optional things that I like to keep in my bag when we go out such as:

  • Anti-bacterial wipes: These are for wiping down all those fallen toys that my little bean will shove right back into her mouth to teeth on. Also, because of the you-know-what virus, it’s never a bad idea to have anti-bacterial wipes on hand to clean up sticky hands, or quickly wipe down anything the little bean might touch when you’re at a restaurant or public place. It’s also convenient for the parents to use as well.
  • One (or two) extra bibs in a Ziplock bag: My little bean is drooling a lot during her teething phase, so she often wears bibs to catch all the drool. An extra bib comes in handy when she soaks through the first one. Also, it’s a great barrier for those one-off, rare times the little bean might barf on the road, which my little bean did twice on our last road trip to Los Angeles two weeks ago.
  • An extra pacifier. Ok, so not all beans use pacifiers (& not all parents believe in those little suckers), but for those of us who do, it’s pretty handy to have an extra pacifier stowed away in the bag. I am a little more bougie & always keep at least two on hand. At home we have the mainstay pacifier that our little bean specifically uses for naps & bedtime (or when she gets ultra fussy). Then, on the road, the little bean has a travel pacifier that we don’t mind if it gets lost or dirtied.

Thank goodness my little bean is somewhat smoothly transitioning from the infant stage to toddlerhood. Then I can easily swap out items in her diaper bag that she no longer needs. It is also incredibly lucky for us that a few of our close friends just had little beans of their own. Then we are fortunate to pass down a lot of our bean’s gently loved items to her new friends. I almost can’t wait until my little bean outgrows her need for a diaper bag so I won’t have to lug around even more stuff when we go out together. I say almost ’cause I don’t want my little bean to grow up too fast. I still want to savor these precious younger times when she still has a need for diapers…& a need for me, her mama. Until the next diaper change, cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

I went on a quick road trip to Monterey Bay this past weekend with Jian & our little bean. We had a really fun time taking a scenic drive & enjoying the good weather. Our main purpose on this trip was to not only introduce our little bean to a new place, but to take her to a proper aquarium (the Shark Reef attraction at the Mandalay Bay casino hotel in Las Vegas does not count). All in all, we had a great time eating lots of seafood, hanging out at the Cannery row & the wharf areas, as well as exploring spots that were new to us, like the Lighthouse district & the hipster spots in the downtown area.

Jellyfish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

One thing I reluctantly decided to do while we were in Monterey was to book a spa massage at our hotel. Jian always encourages me to take advantage of the extra amenities (anything other than ordering room service) at the hotels we stay at on our vacations, but I am always stopping myself & making excuses not to do anything extra. I find it to be too extravagant & expensive. Doing things like getting a spa massage makes me feel selfish (in a non self-care kind of way), & I’d rather spend the money on my little bean instead.

This time Jian convinced me to book a spa appointment & treat myself to a massage. I guess he was feeling extra generous that weekend, specially since he got a new job working at a mega brand name tech company. He said he could handle our little bean by himself for an hour or two, having some quality father-daughter time. So, I bit the bullet, pushed aside all of my inner overreactions & excuses & booked an appointment. Well, I’ll just say it outright. I was simultaneously looking forward to getting a tension-relieving massage & looking forward to getting it over with.

I have had a couple of spa massages in my life. This wasn’t my first experience. Most of those past experiences were a waste of time & money, & a few of them stood out as being exceptionally memorable. Well, only one massage experience stands out in my memory as being the best massage I ever had & it was at a family-style ranch resort. My sister had plans for her kids to go swimming in the pool, learn how to feed chickens & ride horses all while my mom & I made plans to get shiatsu massages. That masseuse worked out every kink & knot in my body to the point of hurts-so-good pain. I nearly cried “ouch” out loud. I could feel every single nerve ending & muscle in my body being electrified in the best way imaginable. I was basically having a massage-gasm. It was incredible.

On this trip, however, I did not have the same experience, not even close. Don’t get me wrong. The masseuse I had in this experience was an absolutely delightful woman. She could not have made me feel more comfortable & relaxed. It was through my own stupidity, though, that I did not properly communicate or express my preferences.

Throughout most of the massage, I was feeling so ticklish all over my body. The masseuse noticed me wincing once in reaction to being tickled, & had asked me to tell her if I was feeling ticklish, but I was feeling too embarrassed to say anything after that. The appointment went very well. We had a fun time talking to each other & telling stories about our families. The massage itself was satisfying. It wasn’t a rock-my-world experience like the one I had before, but it was still adequate. I didn’t exactly feel like all my knots & kinks were relieved, but I did feel more relaxed & calm. Over all, it was a soothing massage.

Most often, almost always, when I think about getting a professional massage I stop myself with my own self-insecurities & weird quirks. First off, I’m very insecure about my own body image & shy away from professional massage therapists from seeing my exposed body rolls. Oh, & never mind my apprehension in changing my clothes in the shared dressing room. Next, I am not sure if I am supposed to keep making polite small talk, or if it’s ok to be quiet, like, am I being rude if I don’t engage in a friendly conversation? Also, I am never sure how much I am supposed to give in gratuity, & who am I supposed to give it to (i.e. charge the gratuity to my bill, or directly tip the professional in person?). Then, there are more news stories popping up about spas being fined for having pervy, handsy employees. Lastly, it’s the massage oils that deters me from getting massages; well, it’s more like the smells of massage oils that deter me. I just can’t stand the smell of any massage oil/lotion/product.

This is a big issue for me. Never mind the fact that I feel like an absolute grease ball afterwards, but I just can’t get rid of that unpleasant plastic-y coconut-y smell. I understand that not all massage oils smell bad, but the ones that I have encountered have all evoked an unpleasant feeling for me personally. Immediately after the massage, before I put my clothes back on, I vigorously wiped myself down with a towel. It was useless. In my mind, I still felt greasy & sticky afterwards. The smell, oh the smell!

The massage oil smelled like a cross between plastic & old cooking oil from a sketchy Chinese restaurant. I could not wait to get back to my hotel room for a thorough scrub down in the shower. I even made sure to scrub myself twice with extra body wash & my loofa towel, but the scent still lingered everywhere. Not even dousing myself in cologne could mask the odor smell of the massage oil. For the rest of the day, I couldn’t help but feel paranoid that all I could smell was the scent of the massage oil all over me. Maybe it was some sort of psychological reaction I was having, & I was so fixated on the smell that I was imagining that I could smell it everywhere. That was the perfect time for my quirky OCD behavior to pop up & drive me crazy.

Just the aroma of any massage oil is enough to turn me away from getting massages in the future, but I believe that with more careful planning, & communication on my part, I would probably get more massages in the future. Oh man, I wish I could go back to that ranch resort again just to book another epic shiatsu massage. Hopefully that resort has survived through the pandemic. Right now though, I don’t think I will be interested in going to a spa for quite a long while. Until the next time, I gotta work on being less ticklish. Cheers, all!

Today’s song of the day:

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