Santa Monica Pier

We're still recovering from our travels to Los Angeles with two small children, but we had a blast and can't wait to go back (maybe without the kids or when they are a little older). Traveling on a plane with little ladies who are not fond of sitting still is rough, y'all!

Traveling to a different timezone is rough too. Jet lag + long car drives (hello! LA traffic) meant my girls took many naps in the car. Completely acceptable when it gives momma a chance to relax in the parking lot while the little ones sleep.

This trip was all about the wedding (my sister-in-law got married to a great man that my oldest daughter just adores), but we still had plenty of time to explore the city and eat lots of great food. Seriously, LA has some super delicious restaurants. You might have to search for the good ones (I think there are more restaurants than there are people), but Esther from Adventures with Esther & Jacob has a fantastic list to start you out.

Esther's list definitely came in handy and one of the restaurants we dined in was unexpectedly featured in Food Network Magazine this month. We're so on trend. Lol.

Before stuffing our bellies with that trendy restaurant, we drove to the beach… which I could have lived without. This was our second time to the Santa Monica pier. The first time was a couple years ago, in the fall. The summer season brought lots of tourist, as expected, but also lots of trash on the beach. I was not a fan.

Neither was little bit. Ellington, on the other hand, had a blast. We only coaxed her to leave the beach by offering up a trip to the amusement park on the pier. She had a blast riding rides as well. As we stood in line for the ferris wheel, I had a brief second where I thought we just might be crazy for taking our 1 year old and 3 year old on a rusty old ferris wheel. Once we all jumped in an saw the amazing views, I knew it was worth it. Winsley didn't really appreciate the awesomeness (we later discovered that she had been sick the entire weekend… oops), but Ellington requested 5 more rides on the ferris wheel. She is definitely my little adventure seeker.

You were good to us, LA. We will surely be back to enjoy all that Los Angeles has to offer and continue eating our way through California. Any suggestions for food or fun around LA are welcomed and encouraged!

California Girl :)

Our third (and final) day in California was fantastic.  We headed to Huntington Beach to see a very different view of California beaches.  Huntington Beach was a lot less touristy and overall more pleasant than our visit to Santa Monica.
The grandparents stayed on the boardwalk, while we hiked to touch the Pacific Ocean.  And it really was a hike compared to the short North Carolina beaches that we normally visit.  Let's just say that my calves got a good workout in that sand.
I was amazed by the amount of periwinkles (that's what we always called them as kids... not sure of their actual name).  There were thousands of them!
Ellington was not a big fan of the sand even got a little upset when we took our shoes off to walk down to the beach.  City girl at heart?  Looking at this photo makes me laugh because that getting-bigger-every-day belly got in the way a lot this trip when Ellington decided that Mommy was the only one who could hold her.
I think my adorable sister-in-law and her boyfriend / our tour guide may have planned their outfits.  They forgot to tell the rest of us that we were supposed to wear our Duke blue to the beach. :)
Although Ellington was not a fan of the sand, she LOVES the water!  She could have stayed on that beach for hours watching the waves, but our backs couldn't handle the constant holding that she required... so it was off to the pier for one last photo op and then on to eat again.
The craziest thing that I noticed during our little photo session on the pier was that you could see the oil rigs just on the horizon.  I didn't get a good photo of this because of the fog on the horizon, but you could clearly see an oil rig in the distance in person.  I guess I just assumed that they were much further off the coast.  Not sure how I would feel about swimming in the ocean with oil rigs visible. :-/
These two photos are some of my favorite from our trip (above and below)!  I love that the sun is setting in the background.  In the above photo, Ellington is playing peek-a-boo.  Whenever she sees this photo of herself she starts playing peek-a-boo all over again.  It just makes me happy.
We could have managed one more day in California, but we headed back to the Carolinas that very night and Ellington slept the entire way home.  I did learn a few things for our next trip to the west coast... 1) I will rent my own car next time for toddler napping / sleeping purposes.  As I wrote about in a post from our honeymoon... Koreans never sleep.  Ever.  2) We ate EVERY meal in Koreatown, so I might just have to bring my own snacks next time for a little variety in my diet.  The second car rental may help me escape for a little meal on my own too. :)  and 3) I really need to remember to charge my camera battery!

California Dreamin'

Our big trip to California started with a very early wake up call to get to the airport in time for Ellington's first airplane ride.  I was so excited to see her reaction to take-off / landing, but she seemed very unimpressed with the whole thing.  We stared out the airplane window as we took off and I said 'Ellington, look!  We are leaving the ground.'  Her response: 'Truck'  She saw a much more interesting truck driving around on the tarmac and then she turned to me to grab my phone and started taking the first of 100 photos.  Her new favorite activity is taking pictures and saying 'cheese' with each photo... Does this me I might be a bit of a momarazzi?  
After taking photos, reading a few books, singing, playing with painter's tape (a great tip from my mom's friends), and a brief crying episode, Ellington slept like - well, like a baby for the rest of the flight.  Later that day, we ate a very yummy Thanksgiving dinner with the Yi's and the Kim's (my sister-in-laws boyfriend and his family).
Day#2 brought us to the Chinese Theater for a little tourist action... Not really something I plan on doing again.  The creepy characters roaming around outside were a bit too much for this protective momma.
Is was a bit fun to see all of the footprints / handprints from famous people, but the crowds were horrendous.  I think this might just be a once in a lifetime visit for the Yi family.
We had planned a closer visit to the Hollywood sign, but decided it would look the same from a distance.  And I got a great shot of our tour guide (Momo's boyfriend) and Momo (what Elli calls my sister-in-law).  This was taken right before I discovered that I had failed to charge my camera. Whoops. The next batch of photos might not be the best quality because they are iPhone photos, but that's not really what matters right?
We ended our day at the Santa Monica pier.  It was a little chilly and very foggy. 
Due to Ellington's fear on our local carousel, we decided to skip the rides at the amusement park.  Besides, we weren't prepared for the cold weather, so we quickly walked down the pier for a photo op and then through the park before heading back to the car.
 Poor little Ellington was freezing and a bit confused as to why we woke her up to take more pictures.
She definitely perked up when Momo and Brian won her a monkey at the amusement park.  As you can see, several of us tried before the monkey was actually won.  In the end, it was a combined effort. :)  We had a great second day, but I couldn't wait to climb into bed and get a good nights sleep!