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Whose idea was it to travel in the hottest time of the year? Yes, it was our joint decision to travel during the hottest heat wave California has ever experienced in 150 years, but to be fair, we did’t know any of that until we were well on our way through the desert & far, far away from home. Ever since my big brother & his wife officially moved to Las Vegas, Nevada 5 months ago, Jian & I were making plans to bring our little bean to visit them. Of course other things kept pushing back our plans, like: going to Los Angeles for my aunt’s 60th birthday party & attending our friends’ wedding celebration party. So, last month, we packed up our bags & baby gear & high-tailed it through the unbearably hot California desert, all the way to the equally unbearably hot Nevada desert.


lunch time!

Along the way, we stopped to eat delicious meat at the restaurant of the local cattle ranch. Jian didn’t want to make too many pit stops because the further away from the Bay Area that we got, the hotter the weather got, & we didn’t want our little bean to overheat & get dehydrated. However, she had other plans in mind & decided to make an explosive poop diaper on the way to our first layover in Bakersfield, California. Luckily I always keep an emergency spare change of clothes in her diaper bag, so I was able to quickly clean her up & go on our merry way. The drive to Bakersfield was the start of the weather getting super hot, but it wasn’t until we actually reached Bakersfield when we finally hit the 10-inch thick cement wall of heat. From that point on, nothing would dip below 100 degrees fahrenheit, not even at night.


We made an overnight layover in Bakersfield, California before arriving at my brother’s new place. Finding his new house was proving to be a bit of a challenge. Jian & my brother kept going back & forth over which GPS app was the most accurate at finding his address since my brother now lives in a brand new neighborhood development that apparently isn’t updated on Google Maps yet. One contractor working on the upgrades to my brother’s house said he could easily find the address on the WAZE app, but none of the others. Meanwhile, Jian couldn’t locate my brother’s newly developed neighborhood on WAZE (or even Google Maps) at all, but he was able to find it on Apple Maps.

After all of the ruckus regarding which GPS app could find my brother’s new house, we reached our destination. Oppressive heat aside, we were super excited to spend time with the side of my family that I don’t get to spend nearly enough time with. I am always vacationing with, spending time with, or visiting my mom’s side of my family including my 2nd older half-brother & older half-sister, but I hardly ever get to spend time with my oldest half-brother from my dad’s side of the family…or even my dad’s side of the family that is still based in Japan. This week was one of the most special, meaningful, & memorable week’s that I will always remember & cherish. Our little bean really got to spend quality time with her aunt & uncle as well as her oldest cousin, who was in town at the same time as us, looking at potential wedding venues. Jian & I were so happy that our little bean got to develop a good relationship & bond with that side of my family that I don’t often talk about.

Spending an entire week at my brother’s house really helped our little bean become comfortable in her new environment. She really took to the new house well, & got settled in almost completely on the first day. I was just happy to be able to spend quality time with my oldest brother with whom I’ve always had a close bond with (not just because we share the same now deceased father). It must have been a little weird for my brother to see his baby sister become a mother herself, but it was great to see him take on the uncle role to my little bean, & she just adores her uncle. My sister-in-law was just as equally awesome at being a new aunt. Every time she walked into the room, my bean would ask my sister-in-law to carry her & play with her. Jian & I also had fun just relaxing & hanging out with my brother (who is one of the best brother’s you’ll ever come across, ever).

hanging out with her toys

Towards the end of our trip Jian & I decided to do the cheesy, clichéd touristy thing & bring our little bean to see the infamous Las Vegas Strip. There was not much for us to do in this melt-your-face-off hot weather but to stay inside the shopping malls & get lost in the maze of hotel casinos. So, we only ended up taking our little bean to a few selected places on the Las Vegas strip. Our little bean got to experience her first tour to an aquarium when we visited the Shark Reef Aquarium at the Mandalay Bay hotel. She was relatively okay when we were looking at all of the lizards & snakes at the beginning of the tour, but once we descended lower where all of the exotic fishes & sea animals swam around, our little one wasn’t too happy to be in such a dark place. It wasn’t long before she started fussing, which was our cue to high tail it out of there & head to our next spot. It was too hot to do anything outside (even walking between hotels was not a good idea). So we browsed around the Caesar’s Palace Forums shopping mall before heading home to change our little bean’s giant 💩 diaper.


On the next day we ventured back out to the Strip again, to see the famous seasonal flower display at the lobby of the Bellagio hotel. Every season or major holiday, the lobby garden at the Bellagio hotel changes into something dramatic & spectacular. This time the theme was a tropical paradise along with a giant replica of a treehouse (with furniture inside), & a massive feature display depicting Mother Nature as a huge flowering tree. I wish I had photos to show you, but there were just way, way, way too many tourists crowding the whole area, & since we were trying to be very vigilant about possible COVID-19 super-spreader events, we decided to take a quick walkthrough then go to our next spot. Jian had the brilliant idea of taking the 3 of us back to our old stomping grounds for good eats & eat at our favorite Japanese-themed restaurant for some delicious (yet Vegas overpriced) ramen. This was when our little bean decided to showcase her best behavior & let the parents have a leisurely lunch with a few delicious cocktails sprinkled in between.


Overall, we had an extremely memorable & meaningful trip to spend time with my big brother & sister-in-law. We are truly grateful & appreciate the time we spent with our family. I am super happy that my brother & sister-in-law not only got to properly meet my little bean, but they got to build a bond together, & that means more than anything in the world. I cannot stress this enough, but I really do have one of the best brothers in the whole world. It was a little sad to be leaving Las Vegas, & knowing that it’s not going to be so easy to be able to see my brother so easily anymore after he moved out of California. This was a super fun trip, & a real test to see how Jian & I as parents could handle a baby in the middle of the desert during one of the hottest times of the century. We really do have one of the best baby’s in the world. She is a real trooper, even when she soils herself on the road with no nearby rest stops or gas stations. It seemed like our little bean could handle this long road trip better than us parents ever could…& on that note, I shall end this post with one final photo of us at our last layover in Bakersfield before finally heading back home.

Why does our little bean love hotels so much???

Today’s song of the day:

Last week I had one of the most delicious lunches in a very long time: half of a toasted French baguette sandwich, a small mixed greens salad, a small cup of smoked paprika flavored potato chips, & a bottle of lemon sparkling water. That lunch really made me feel so satisfied. It put me in a really good mood that day. Eh, but that’s beside the point. The main point of this blog post is that Jian & I took our little bean on her first vacation-slash-road trip.

Jian took a week off of work during the Memorial Day holiday, & we planned a trip to Los Angeles to visit my extended family down there. Yes, I know the Memorial Day holiday was quite a bit of time ago, but with this little bean taking up so much of my life, & Jian occupying our one & only shared desktop computer, I haven’t had much free time for myself other than to play a quick level of an app game on my tablet whilst sitting on the toilet. (I don’t dare stay in the bathroom for too long, lest my mother scream bloody hell that she can no longer carry or distract her grandchild for another minute. My mother has just as short an attention span as my little bean, & even less stamina to keep up with her.) This is all completely frivolous information & totally beside the point. Let’s get on with the main topic, shall we?

Jian & I had carefully planned a road trip down to Los Angeles to visit extended family whom have never seen our little bean in person up until now. Our little bean has only seen aunts, uncles, cousins & the like through a tiny little screen on mommy’s smartphone. Jian & I of course made sure that the both of us were fully Covid-19 vaccinated before we decided to travel anywhere outside our city bubble. Luckily for our little bean, she got to get her vaccine through me & my delicious breast milk. Yes, you heard me right. My breast milk contains antibodies, which can transfer to the babe through breast feeding, which shares with the babe the benefits of mommy’s vaccine.

Both Jian & I were a little worried (me more so than him) that our little bean would not be too happy being confined in her makes-the-baby-too-hot car seat for several hours. So we made plans to take frequent breaks to let the little bean stretch her legs & get some fresh air outside of the car. It turns out that we didn’t really need to take so many breaks. We only stopped for gas, one extra diaper change, & a quick lunch break at a designated rest area. Otherwise, the little bean slept in the car for most of the drive down the interstate. She did complain a little bit about being too hot in the car, but once we blasted the air conditioning, she went back to her regularly scheduled napping.

This is little bean & me after eating lunch.

Originally, Jian & I had planned on staying at one of the super hipster boutique hotels that we’ve heard so much about through Instagram. There was one hotel in particular that we were excited about staying at, but it was a little bit out of the way from where our family lives, so we ended up taking the practical route & stayed at a hotel close to family. That hotel ended up being the best decision & made our trip so effortless & enjoyable. We were close to craft coffee shops, restaurants, & a huge shopping mall, yet also close by to family. Also, having a mini kitchenette in our hotel room made it so much more convenient to take care of a little babe who is still bottle feeding.

Our little bean instantly acclimated to hotel living & fell in love with our hotel room the moment we stepped through the door. She made herself right at home on the king-sized hotel bed, rolling around & playing with her blanket from home. We just plopped her down in the middle of the bed, & she was making all sorts of happy cooing sounds & playing all by herself while the two of us casually unpacked all of our travel gear. Normally at home, our little bean would’ve been whining as soon as we put her down on the bed. At home she won’t even give us two minutes to change out of our pajamas in the morning before she starts crying to have us pick her up from the bed. At the hotel, she immediately would entertain & amuse herself while Jian & I would do our own things like taking a bathroom break or grabbing a drink from the fridge in the kitchenette.

This is little bean & Jian in our hotel room.

Over all, we had a great time visiting family. The two of us were quite pleasantly surprised that our little bean allowed us to do all of the usual things we do when we visit Los Angeles, like hang out at coffee shops, go shopping at our favorite trendy neighborhoods, & eat at various types of busy/crowded/loud food places. This little girl was super chill the entire duration of our trip, except for when she was feeling hot & restless. We thought the weather in Los Angeles was going to be raging hell fire hot, since it is…well…Los Angeles in early summer after all. I even bought the little bean a portable stroller fan, but it turned out that I didn’t really need to use it on most days. The weather was very warm, but not unbearably hot like we were assuming it would be. It turns out that I’ve been using the stroller fan more at home than I ever did on our travels.

Our little bean had a great time with all of the grown-ups (aunts, uncles, and grandparents). I thought she’d see little kids in our family & immediately warm up to them, since they are small like her, but she was actually nervous around the other little kids in our family, her first cousins. Also, as it turns out, our little bean isn’t really afraid of dogs (as long as they’re not the size of Great Danes or German Shepherds). She’ll tolerate them running around the house or sniffing her, but she won’t put her hands close to them or pet them at all. A few of my cousins each have a dog of their own, & our little bean was just fine around them. I thought she would be a little freaked out by them since she’s never really been around animals before, but she took on the situations like a champ!

Well, we’ve been home for a couple of weeks now, & we just realized that we spent most of our time in Los Angeles hunting down the next craft coffee shop to quench our caffeine addiction. Along the way, we unintentionally hauled a bunch of coffee beans to make drip coffee at home. Jian & I are already extremely familiar with all of the local coffee roasters in our region, so finding a new & interesting bag of beans while traveling outside of our area is always something we enjoy doing. When we first started our journey into frequenting craft coffee spots, there weren’t more than just a small handful of roasters based in Los Angeles; a lot of the beans we tried were all imported from Portland, OR, Chicago, IL, or Santa Cruz, CA. Now there’s a lot of local coffee bean roasters based out of Los Angeles, & we were excited to try these new beans at home.

Our coffee bean haul

Wow, I can’t believe my little bean has been napping for nearly 2 hours, giving me time to sit down & properly write this post. I better wrap this up before she wakes & demands all of my attention. I am currently snacking on French Comté cheese & listening to lo-fi music on Spotify. (Check out my playlists & send me a follow if you’re there.) Now it’s time to cook dinner & send my brother off to the airport. Oh, did I forget to tell you that my brother has been in town this past weekend? Oops! Well, I gotta go now, but until next time… santé!

Today’s song of the day:

fam vacay blog banner

In my quest to discover 99 Things That Bring Me Joy, the next list in my journal asks me to describe one memorable family vacation, & there is one specific vacation that pops up in my mind vividly. I’ve been on many meaningful & fun family vacations throughout my life. Some of my favorite family trips were of my family along with my dad’s childhood & lifelong friends (including their respective families) going on summer camping trips in Lake Tahoe, up in Northern California. However, the most memorable trip I can fondly recall was an amazing road-trip my immediate family went on from way back in the mid-1990s.

My dad had taken a serious chunk of time off of work to take my mom, me & my younger cousin visiting from SoCal for the summer, on a really memorable road-trip in his modestly awesome Toyota Sienna minivan. We traveled from the Bay Area, up to & through Northern California, through Oregon & Washington, then ending all the way up to British Columbia in Canada. It was one of the best family road-trips I’ve ever been on, all thanks to the incredible planning by my late father.

Now, a lot of time has passed since then, & I don’t remember every little town we visited. I can only vaguely guess that my dad drove up Interstate 5 from California, through Oregon, then Washington, all the way up to British Columbia, Canada. Some of the little towns we drove through were really quaint & cute. Others were unique & fun. Back then, I was a teenager still going through puberty, & my cousin was barely even in her tween years, & those were the days before the technology boom of smartphones & tablets. So, naturally my cousin & I spent most of our time in the car either napping or playing the Cat’s Cradle string game. (Side note: We once tried to play with cards in my dad’s minivan, but quickly found out we all got carsick super fast & one of my cousins actually hurled into a plastic bag.)

Starting around San Francisco, we rode my dad’s above-average minivan up north, somewhere near Redding. We spent one night in an economy hotel, then continued up further up north, passing through Portland, Oregon & then on to Washington state. I remember one of our main stops along our road-trip being in Leavenworth, Washington. We stayed in a really cool hotel that had individual cottage style lodging. I specifically remember our cottage having an all-white color scheme. All of the wood furniture was light colored (like they were from IKEA or something), & the layout had a cute little kitchen & living room space, a master bedroom, & a separate smaller bedroom…the one my cousin & I shared. The only other time in my life where I had ever visited a Scandinavian-esque town was when my family would drive through the little town of Solvang in California on the way to visit family in Los Angeles. Let me tell you, Leavenworth is a whole other experience. It was a really cool & interesting touristy town.

My mom had a blast shopping for lots of little blue & white porcelain bric-a-brac to clutter up our house, as well as buying yards & yards full of delicate, handmade lace curtains to add just that little touch of gaudiness to our mid-century modern Eichler home. My dad loved sampling all of the delicious traditional German delicacies at the local restaurants. My cousin & I were so excited to have one unchaperoned night all to ourselves in our little hotel cottage, while my parents had a night to themselves to have an adult dinner.

Later that night as we went to bed, my cousin & I had to share one queen-sized bed in our small room. I remember the down comforter on the bed was the most fluffiest, & softest comforter I had ever slept on. It was super thick & pillowy. My cousin & I liked to stay up late (very late according to my parents’ standards) & chat. We tried to keep our voices low, thinking that my parents couldn’t hear us from two rooms away, but we could still hear my dad scolding us to go to sleep. How do you expect two giddy teenage girls to sleep when it’s barely dark outside? I mean, sometimes my dad’s bedtime hours were ridiculous.

After leaving the town of Leavenworth, we continued to travel north toward Canada. Our destination…The Buchart Gardens in Brentwood Bay, somewhat near Victoria. Here’s where my mind is getting a little fuzzy. I can’t remember which parts of Canada we drove through to get to the ferry that would take us to Brentwood Bay. The only part of this portion of our trip that I can clearly remember is the time we spent on the ferry & the time we spent at The Buchart Gardens. My mom easily gets seasick, & I remember there were parts of our ferry ride that wasn’t exactly the smoothest. My cousin & I were so bored on the 10+ hour ferry ride, by the time we got to our destination, we were ready to kiss the ground.

When we arrived at The Buchart Gardens, we were awestricken. The Buchart Gardens is one of my parents’ most favorite places in the world, & it was one of my dad’s goals to take his family there for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I will admit here that my cousin & I didn’t appreciate the gardens as much as we should/could have. For two teenagers who were mostly interested in boys, TV, & hanging out with friends, in the beginning of our tour we weren’t as enthusiastic about looking at bushes & flowers for the entire day. However, as the day progressed, we took a bigger interest in the gardens. We all fell in love with the bright colors & grandeur of the gardens, & had such a memorable experience. I remember my dad taking a lot of photos of the three of us ladies: my mom, my cousin, & me.

We didn’t stay in Canada for very long. Shortly after our day in The Buchart Gardens, we headed back down south in my dad’s trusty minivan. We passed through Seattle, Washington, & I was super excited to be able to see the iconic Space Needle as we drove through the city. We then, took another drive through downtown Portland in Oregon, & I was a little disappointed that we couldn’t stop to look around for a bit. Then, as we passed through Northern California again, we stopped at a little town where we saw a shop selling handmade wooden furniture made by Quakers. My parents ended up buying a wooden China cabinet/hutch for our kitchen that we had shipped to our house. That China cabinet is still sitting in our kitchen, & it still looks as new as the day we brought it into our home.

My  absolute most memorable experiences from this entire road-trip was when we stopped at a cute little toy shop while strolling the downtown area of this town who’s name I can’t remember. My dad let my cousin & I each pick out one souvenir to buy, & I vividly remember picking an alarm clock. Well, it wasn’t just any plain old alarm clock. No. This alarm clock was shaped like a puffer fish. It creeped me out at first because the teeth of the puffer fish represented the numbers on a traditional clock, but the design eventually won my heart over with the little rotating clown fish that represented the second hand of the clock. Let me show you an example of this clock for your reference.

fish alarm clock collage.png

My dad thought I was absolutely nuts for choosing something so unattractive & weird as my souvenir, & my mom tried to get me to pick something else, but I was determined to get this alarm clock. Ever since I first saw it in the display window at the shop I was completely drawn to it. No matter what else I saw at the store, my eyes kept darting back to this ridiculous alarm clock. I just fell in love with it, & had no regrets ever since buying it. This alarm clock lasted for nearly 10+ years before it finally “clocked out” for good. (Pun intended.)

I initially thought I would get a scare every time I would walk into my room & see this creature staring straight at me, with it’s mouth gaping open & baring its sharp teeth, but it didn’t bother me at all. It took me a couple of weeks to get adjusted to having such a large object, especially a clock, occupying so much valuable space on my small nightstand, but it was a pretty smooth adjustment.

This alarm clock may look kitschy & like a cheap novelty toy (it was not very cheap), but it served its purpose well. I used the alarm function of this clock every day for school, & it worked great until one day it just stopped working & I almost was late for school. I had tried changing the battery, but that didn’t work, & I knew then that the clock was busted & broken. It would’ve cost me more money to repair the clock than it was actually worth, so I ended up tossing it out.

Now, I wish I still had that clock today, even in its non-working condition. It would’ve been nice to keep it just as a sentimental keepsake of our amazing & unforgettable road-trip as a little family. I loved telling strangers that my little cousin was my sister. I never had any younger siblings growing up, & I had always dreamed of having younger siblings. Back in those days, I hated being the youngest child, always getting yelled at or picked on by my older siblings, & being overbearingly over-protected by my parents.

Having my younger cousin around during the summer holidays when we were growing up was so much fun. We made so many great memories together, playing, talking, & learning about life together. Now she’s a mother of two & living her best life. I am currently in the process of expanding & adding parts to my already-in-progress best life ever. So, let’s get on to the next post. Until next time, cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

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