San Diego Fun!

After leaving our overnight cabin stay in Crestline, we made our way down SoCal to La Jolla, San Diego to visit Steve’s cousin, Frances and her family, Jeff and Jacob. We rarely get to see them so we were super excited to spend quality time with them, especially with their 2 yo son, Jacob. Jacob and Emma are the first two cousins in their generation from Steve’s dad’s side of the family living in the states. And it’s extra fun since they are the same age!

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Frances and Jeff welcomed us with open arms to stay with them at their place in downtown La Jolla. I could not believe my eyes when we got there, they literally live on the beach. We woke up to the sound of waves and sea salt aroma every morning. It was heavenly.

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First night, we had a delicious home cooked meal, surf and turf. Jeff dives and catches lobsters in the ocean, so you better believe it when I say the lobster was phenomenal. It cannot be fresher than that! It literally melted in my mouth.

Jacob and Emma hit it off right away, I’m sure Em was super excited to have another little human to play with 24/7. Jacob was such a sweetheart sharing all his toys with Em and always flashing his cheesiest grin! Whenever Em went to the bathroom or to bed, Jacob would call for her. How adorable is that! We had a lot of fun catching up and getting to know each other over our stay. They were the greatest hosts taking us around town to fun places and good eats. We went to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park where we took a tram to see all the animals roaming around the zoo. It was such an awesome experience! The parents also got to enjoy some adult fun visiting different breweries and catching up at night after putting the babies to bed. We ended our SD trip with going on a morning hike at Torrey Pines and grabbing our last meal at Duke’s.

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breakfast @ the Cottage with our goofball ❤

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cuzzo love ❤

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listening to uncle Jeff’s heart!

after dinner fun @ Liberty Public Market
kiddos were super excited to head to the zoo! ❤
watching the bird show at the zoo requires a lot of concentration. 😉

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big cuzzo love ❤

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on the tram ride!

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after zoo adult fun at Stone Brewing while babies nap in the strollers 🙂

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ready for the hike!

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Spending quality time with Frances, Jeff and Jacob was such a pleasure. Because we don’t see much of each other, it’s hard to connect and get to know one another. But I’m so glad to have spent a few days with them as they are such a nice, genuine, and down to earth family! We truly appreciate you guys inviting us into your home to share with us a bit of your life in La Jolla! We cannot wait to see you guys again, hopefully very soon in Raleigh! We love you! ❤ Also, Frances is a blogger mom too – check out her blog here. She shares her story of motherhood with a very demanding job as an anesthesiologist!

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City of Angels (Part One)

The last time we made our way out west was two years ago, right after Em was born for my best friend’s wedding in San Francisco. So we were super excited to head back again for two weddings this time, Steve’s cousin’s in Pasadena and Steve’s best friend’s in Hollywood. Because these weddings were close in dates, we decided to make a family vacation out of it and stay out in California for two weeks.

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On our flight to Cali!

Our first stop was Pasadena where we met Steve’s side of the family for his cousin’s wedding. It was a great weekend spent with his family including almost all of the cousins! The wedding was beautiful and Emma had a blast on the dance floor. I swear she is made for stage because she was the first one there as soon as the music came on and the last one to leave. She was a trooper through it all with the time difference and getting into California super late on Friday night/early Saturday morning. It also helped that we had lots of family members helping out with her so mama and papa had fun too. 🙂 The venue and the couple were absolutely stunning, we wish you a lifetime of happiness, Nicole & John! ❤

First picture in Cali with my mini-me!

We clean up nice, eh? 😉 On our way to Nicole & John’s wedding. 

Girl cousins!

Guy cousins!

All the cousins + Em 🙂

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Hwang Siblings 🙂

Paparazzis! 

After the wedding in Pasadena, we made our way to LA for a few days with Steve’s parents and aunt & uncle. We went to Santa Monica beach, explored Hollywood’s Walk of Fame and ate at really great Korean restaurants in Korea Town. Our goal was to eat as much Korean and Mexican food as possible while on this trip, and I think we definitely accomplished that mission. 😝

Once we said our goodbyes to his family, we headed up to the mountains for a night of cabin stay. Originally, we had planned on going to the Joshua Tree National Park and camping overnight, but it was too wet and chilly to make that happen. But we found the cutest cabin in Crestline, near San Bernardino. It was a neat little cabin we found through Airbnb, had a piano, a guitar and a ukulele. Despite the rain, we drove around sightseeing and admiring mother nature.

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On our way up the mountain!

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Our sky blue trimmed cabin.

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First part of our LA trip came to an end fast, but we were super excited to make our way down SoCal to visit Steve’s cousin and her family in La Jolla, San Diego. Catch us in the next blog post about our time spent in SD! It will be up shortly!

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NC State Fair

My one and only State Fair experience prior to the NC State Fair was back when I was 11 years old in Frederick, MD. Maybe because I have this faint yet fond memory of a family Fair outing that I really wanted to take Emma to one, and make it a family tradition. When people told me NC State Fair is like none other, they weren’t kidding. It was bigger than I imagined and nothing like the one I went to with my family when I was younger. Although traffic getting to the Fair was horrendous and there were too many people for my liking, we had fun soaking in the experience. Of course, Emma had the most fun. In fact, she had so much fun, we went twice and the first time, she stayed out until 11 PM! We had lots of junk food, everything fried to be exact (that’s what State Fairs are for, right?) and Emma rode her first pony ride!! She had mixed emotions in the beginning. She wasn’t sure if she was scared or ecstatic, but since the pony ride, that’s all she would ever talk about! We also met up with her friend from school, and they rode some rides together. I was a bit nervous at first, probably more so than she was, but she ended up loving it and wanted to ride every ride at the Fair.

We will definitely make it an annual tradition for our family, but will be avoiding the weekend for sure. Overall, it was a great experience with tons of fun!

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“I don’t know if I should cry or laugh!”

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Emma’s Moana Themed Birthday Party

If you haven’t noticed already, ever since Emma watched Moana for the very first time, she was immediately hooked. It was also the first movie she actually sat through. So naturally, she now wants everything Moana. She especially loves to belt out the theme song, How Far I’ll Go. Case in point here. So when it came to her 2nd birthday party theme, it was an easy decision. I wanted to find a budget friendly party ideas, so off to Pinterest I went for DIY decor. I also didn’t want anything extravagant (mainly because I didn’t have the time), so decided to do a Moana themed sweets table. After five nights of designing, cutting, gluing, I was so excited to see my vision come to life! Also, I would not have pulled it off if it wasn’t for my friend, Morgan and her Cricut! That thing was a lifesaver for sure! For desserts, I made the cupcakes & Heart of Te Fiti sugar cookies. The highlight of the sweets table has to be the Moana boat my husband built. Originally, I was going to make the boat with paper towel rolls, but he said he can do something much better. And off he went into the garage. After a night of sawing, hammering and nailing, he legit built her a boat! Please give this man Father of the Year Award.

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Along with Emma’s friends, we had both set of grandparents and aunts come to celebrate her birthday (we missed you Paul!). I don’t think Emma understands the concept of birthdays, but she sure had a lot of fun singing the Happy Birthday song and eating A LOT of her birthday cake. Oh, and of course, she loved all the presents and running around with all of her friends. I know I say this every time, but we are so lucky to have such great friends and family. I’m forever grateful for all the love Emma receives. Thank you everyone for coming to celebrate Emma’s birthday with us!!

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Trick or Treat!

There is no doubt Halloween is an exciting holiday in our household. Steve and I had our fun share of dressing up and attending Halloween parties when we weren’t parents. Now that we have our daughter, the focus has been on her and I am totally okay with that!

This year was Emma’s first time Trick or Treating which made it even more fun! She had a preview this past Sunday when we went to Lafayette Village for their Halloween event. We borrowed a costume from her friend and dressed up as a ladybug (with Heart of Te Fiti necklace she refused to take off). Although we didn’t stay too long due to gloomy/cold weather, she scored some candy. Before you knew it, she had ripped off the wrapper of a lollipop and was going to town!

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As for Emma’s main costume this year, we decided to go with Moana. Surprise, surprise! 😛 Steve and I also decided to dress up as her sidekicks, Kakamora and Hei Hei. We didn’t go all out and did DIY costumes for us using a glue gun and a lot of felt. I’m glad we decided to go with Moana costume for Emma, because literally, that’s all she wants to wear when she wakes up in the morning. Morgan also took our annual neighborhood Halloween pictures of the kiddos. Morgan and I were joking about how much more difficult it may be this year compared to last year as all of our kids are now toddlers. And they did not disappoint in being full blown toddlers. Thank God I brought some cookies to bribe them. 😉 But I mean, how cute are these kiddos?! So glad we are continuing our tradition!

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Trick or Treating on Halloween was super fun! Emma went door to door saying “Trick or Treat” and was so excited to score more candy! I wasn’t sure how many houses we would do since it was her first time, but she ended up going to quite a few! Hope everyone had a great Halloween! Now, don’t be stealing your kids’ Halloween candies like us! 😉

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To Emma (Letter #2)

Our dearest Emma,

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Your second birthday has come and gone, and Mama is more emotional than when your first birthday came along. As wonderful as your first year was, a big chunk of that year was in survival mode. Your second year though, was soaking up every single moment of your growth because it literally went by too fast. With a blink of an eye, you somehow transformed into an independent young girl. And as each day passed, it was as if our baby was disappearing.

As I desperately try to hold onto every second of your “needing Mama moments”, I also know I have to let you fly. One of the biggest milestones this year was fostering your independence by enrolling you in school. Though the initial transition was tough (probably tougher on Mama than you), we are so proud of how well you adjusted and how much you love learning new things. I hope you never lose your curiosity and passion for exploring new things in life. And I’ll let you in on a little secret. The best part of my day is when you run into my arms with a huge grin, shouting “MAMA!” when I come pick you up at school. I sincerely hope that never changes. And even when you are 18 years old, you still find comfort in my arms.

As always, I am so grateful for being your Mama. Papa and I thank you for another wonderful year of being a healthy and happy baby. We love you so much sweet girl, and we cannot wait to learn more things about you as your personality shines through each day.

Love,

Mama

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Surf City Beach Trip

Although temperature is still hitting the high 80’s here in NC, summer is officially over. Long summer months sure flew by too quick for us, and we are already missing going to the pool almost daily and the beach trip from start of the summer. I know, four months have passed since our family beach trip back in May. I am a major slacker on this whole blogging thing, but I promise it’ll get better! :X I have a few upcoming posts lined up, and it is my hope to do one post a week…or two weeks. ;P

But for now, take us back to the beachhhh! Back in May, for Mother’s day weekend, we rented a huge beach house with our friends which accommodated 5 families, each with a toddler, in Topsail Island with a private beach. Even though weather wasn’t the best, we were still able to go to the beach every single day and had a blast! It was a hoot seeing Emma’s reaction when she first saw the ocean and waves! Her reaction alone made the weekend because she was so excited about it all! Once she got over the initial fear, she loved going in the water and playing in the sand! And having four toddler friends under one roof spending 24 hrs together was just TOO adorable! How did we get so lucky with such well behaved babies? They spent the entire weekend playing with one another and keeping themselves occupied with each other. It sure made it easier for us parents, and we were able to relax too. It was a fun Mother’s Day weekend well spent with framily, and you better believe we made a pact to make this an annual trip. 🙂

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ps: my friend, fellow blogger also has amazing pictures from our beach trip – go check them out! -> MADclutter