Category Archive: Brianne & Brian

Moaning Cavern adventures

On Saturday, Sept 9 we left at the crack of dawn (5:30am)  to meet Brianne, Brian, Judy and Lisa near Sonora for some cave spelunking and exploring!  Brian and Lisa were planning on doing an adventure tour of the Moaning Cavern and invited Kevin along (which was perfect timing since Kevin’s birthday had just passed so it was his birthday present!) and Judy, Brianne and I settled for the walking tour (which was about as adventurous as we were ready for).

It’s not often we see the sunrise!

Moaning Cavern Park

We had anticipated a 3 hour drive but it only took us 2 hours (I was driving, go figure 😉 ) so we got there before the park even opened.  We entertained ourselves with a furry little critter that became a close friend for a half hour or so…Smokey the cat.

Yawn! It was early for Smokey too.

The gang met up with us not too long after the park opened and we made our way to our respective tours.

Judy took this photo of the group before we went underground: Brianne, me, Brian, Kevin and Lisa

Damn, I forgot to buy my commemorative Moaning Cavern hard hat.

We asked if it’d be possible for our walking tour to start earlier than their adventure tour so that we could meet them at the bottom of the cave after they repelled down and luckily that worked out!  So Judy, Brianne and I followed our tour guide while K, B and L anxiously waited for their tour to start.

The first stop was in a little back room which had the above map posted on the wall.  If you click it to enlarge the image you can see blue arrows and green arrows–the blue ones were where K, B and L went repelling down the 165-foot drop through the earth and the green arrows were where Judy, Brianne and I went walking down the stairs (like sane people) to meet them in the middle of the cavern.  After we met up, K, B and L continued their tour farther down the cave and came back up a couple hours later.

The hole through the ground that K, B and L were going to be dropping down into.  Crazy!!

The narrow and steep staircase that J, B and I went down.


We stopped for a bit after the narrow staircase to talk about the cave and the different formations found there and about all of the people who, over thousands of years, had fallen to their death and whose bones were discovered recently (creepy!)  This is the platform we stood on and the 234-stair spiral staircase you see to the right is the one that Judy and I went down later to meet K, B and L after their repelling adventure.

Can you spot Brianne?

Judy braving the staircase!  It was really creepy, I was gripping the handrails like nobody’s business.

Kevin was the first to volunteer to go down, he made it look so easy!

Kevin, aka “Cliff”

Then I decided to go back up the staircase so that I could take photos of Lisa and Brian as they repelled down.  This photo was taken mid-way up the stairs looking down at Judy and Kevin.

Lisa making her way down, she looked like a pro!

Brianne and I holding down the fort

The view from the very top of the staircase.  You can see my shoes in the bottom part of this photo and the two orange blips are Kevin and Lisa, the white/green blip is Judy.  I’m getting spooked just looking at this photo.

Brian making his way down

Judy took this photo of the three of them finished rappelling.

After the three of them got untied from the rappelling ropes, they continued even farther down below the cave through crawl spaces.  Kevin said that they had funny names of some of the crawl spaces: Godzilla’s Nostril, Pancake Room, Meat Grinder, Black Hole and, my personal favorite, the Birthing Canal.  He said that there was one point where you had to lie on your back and pull yourself through this extremely narrow space, it was so narrow that the tip of his hardhat was hitting the top of the space at times.

While they were crawling through the earth, Judy, Brianne and I made our way back out into the open air to do a little bit of exploring but mostly just chatting and waiting for our adventure trio to return.

The Moaning Cavern Park has quite a few activities including panning for gold and a zip line.

The park even had a cockatoo named Cuddles!  He was super friendly and he entertained Brianne and I for a good half hour or so.

Pretty bird.

One other park visitor encouraged me to pet him (even though the signs said “DON’T PUT YOUR FINGERS IN CAGE”).  It was a little freaky at first but you could tell he was totally in love with being pet on his neck.

Me and Cuddles sharing a moment.

After 1.5 hours or so the adventure trio made their escape and met up with us.

The tired, but happy, adventurers!

They weren’t kidding about wearing old clothes.

We were all starving afterwards and took up the suggestion of one of our tour guides to check out The Pickle Barrel for lunch in Angel’s Camp.  My favorite food in the whole entire world is sandwiches and after going vegetarian I felt like I haven’t been as excited to eat at delis because generally the only veg option is Subway-esque (yuck).  But The Pickle Barrel actually had two delicious options and I was as happy as a clam getting my sandwich fix.  And I don’t think the meat eaters of the group were disappointed either.  🙂

The little downtown area of Angel’s Camp was pretty cute so we spent a little time exploring.

I think Kevin might have a chance to get into the “Independent Order of Odd Fellows”, what do you think?

Creepy statue in one of the antique stores.

Photo of the sidewalk tile commemorating the 1983 frog-hoppin’ winner “Johnny Jumper” (that’s the year me and K were born so I thought it appropriate to take a photo of this one).

After getting cleaned up at the motel we stayed out (thanks for letting us crash with you guys!) we went out to try the “best pizza in Sonora” at Mountain Mike’s.  Not too shabby!  We spent the night playing Phase 10 (an awesome card game) and then before saying our goodbyes the next morning ate at the “best breakfast joint in Sonora” at Woods Creek Cafe (super cute place covered in cow memorabilia and pretty good food to boot!)

It was so great seeing the gang for the weekend and I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday gift for Kevin to land in my lap!  🙂

Trip to Long Beach!

Thursday, June 16

That afternoon I set off on a week-long trip down to Long Beach.  Lola and I jumped in the car and made our way down the too familiar 5 freeway.  This time, though, we went a slightly different, more scenic route–we went down the 101 until we hit Gilroy and then took the Pacheco Pass (highway 152) through beautiful winding roads and around the San Luis Reservoir State Recreation Area until we got to the 5.  This was at the suggestion of Carleigh and I’m glad we did it since it made the drive a little more bearable.  🙂

Our only real stop on the trip down was at Casa de Fruta (also at the suggestion of Carleigh) which is a huge compound with a farm, train track, pond, and tons of fruit/nuts/gift shops.  Lola and I walked around a bit and then quickly jumped back on the road.

Casa de Fruta farmhouse

Casa de Fruta railroad

Casa de Fruta peacock (that Lola desperately wanted to get a hold of, haha!)

Casa de Fruta rusted and beat-up jalopy

Casa de Fruta carousel

Casa de Fruta’s Casa de Choo Choo

Friday, June 17th-Sunday, June 19th

The main reason I went down to Long Beach this weekend was to join my niece’s Girl Scout troop (the one that I used to be a co-leader for) on their trip to Catalina!  I took a ton of photos so I’ll make a separate post for the Catalina trip.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, June 19th (Father’s Day)

As soon as I got off the Catalina Express I was off to my in-law’s house to celebrate Father’s Day with my dad-in-law George and my brother-in-law Thomas (dad to Sophie).  With me to celebrate were my mama-in-law Dorothy, sis-in-law Sarah and her boyfriend Rob, a good family friend Judy and Sophie!  Sarah and Rob had just returned from living in New Orleans and it was so so so good to see them.  And I realized that I hadn’t seen Sophie (my other niece) since Christmas 2009 (1 1/2 years!) so it was a special treat to see her after all this time.  She has grown SO MUCH!

She had lots of fun playing with her buddy and cousin Lola…

Sophie and her sidekick

Sophie gave Thomas an adorable gift: the card was in the shape of a fish that said “Dad, you’re a great catch” and inside was a fishing pole with a bag of fish bait (trail mix) attached.  So cute!

Sophie and her Auntie Judy playing with the iPad

Mmm…strawberry shortcake!

On the way back to her mom’s house, just chillin’

Monday, June 20th

The weekend following the Catalina trip was my 10 year high school reunion so I asked my boss if there was any way I could work from home (Long Beach) during the week so that I could stick around for the event and she graciously said yes!  Lots of appreciation for my job that week. 🙂

Here’s my view from my laptop each day in my mom’s dining room:

Aren’t those stools so cool?

My work buddy

I worked a full day (with a few walking breaks here and there with Lola) and that night I met up with Brianne & Brian at Open Sesame on 2nd street.  I’ve been to this restaurant a handful of times before and I can’t get over how amazing their food is!  Their dolmas (grape leaves) leave a little something to be desired but other than that the food is incredible.  It was so nice catching up with two of my favorite buddies too!  Lots of laughs and story-telling was shared over dinner as well as plans to catch up again during the week.

Tuesday, June 21st

Vacation detour: I actually came down with a really painful health issue so took part of the day off work to visit the doctor’s office.  After seeing the doctor, though, I didn’t feel any more confident about the condition and had to anticipate another doctor’s visit the following day in Norwalk (with Dorothy) and then another doctor’s visit again in Norwalk on Thursday (with my mom).  After being bounced around between doctor’s offices and feeling scared because I didn’t really know what was going on luckily the issue cleared up on Friday evening and the rest of the trip was spent much more comfortably.  The main lessons I learned from this experience: advocate for yourself with the doctors and receptionists/phone operators and read any online forums about the issue that you can find!  That’s where I read about the at-home treatment that ended up helping with the problem.

After going to the doctor’s on Tuesday I spent the rest of the afternoon resting up so that I could meet up with my brother Derek that evening.  We went first to visit my lovely Auntie Tina which included a couple of hours of hilarity (both by Derek and Tina and even the nurses at the front desk!)

Tina and her favorite nephew

Wednesday, June 22nd

Like I mentioned earlier, Dorothy accompanied me to my second doctor’s appointment and after getting the run around again we spent the rest of the afternoon/evening together.  We checked out a couple of new (to me) scrapbook stores and then spent a couple of hours just hanging out in the garden with Lola and talking.  I was invited to dinner with her and George and I had an amazing shrimp and asparagus pasta…mmm, mmm, mmm I can taste it right now!  🙂

Thursday, June 23rd

My mom accompanied me to my third doctor’s appointment and we then spent the rest of the afternoon/evening together.  She took me to Ranchito, an AMAZING Mexican supermarket in Westminster.  At first we went there specifically to get a giant fresh squeezed juice but then ended up buying a bunch of food and inviting Derek over for dinner at my mom’s house.  This supermarket is incredible–they have an entire counter dedicated to the jugos naturales (natural juices).  There are a few options available to order–I got the Azteca with orange, spinach, nopal (cactus), pineapple and honey and it was SOOOO GOOD!  My mom got the Vampiro with pineapple, orange, beet, celery and apple which was good but a little too beety for our taste.  The woman behind the counter throws the entire piece of fruit or veggie into the juicer so no nutrients are lost.  I wish there was a Ranchito by our place in Oakland!  We’re on a mission to find something like this since it sure beats Jamba Juice!

The huge counter dedicated to fresh juices!

Take yer pick!

Mmm, mmm, mmm!

Although I didn’t buy anything from the meat counter I couldn’t help but take a photo of the HUGE chicharron–they fried up the entire skin of a pig!  Crazy and so gross at the same time, hahah.

Friday, June 24th

I had intended to go to my friend Alison’s yoga class in Irvine at Yoga Shakti (she teaches a few times a week, check her out if you’re in the Irvine area!!) but my health issue became extremely painful that day so I slept for a long time that afternoon.  When the pain didn’t subside I finally followed the advice on the online forum posts I had found and after taking a second nap the issue had begun to clear up!  Again, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of doing your own research and trying to heal yourself naturally.

That night I met up with Dorothy, Brianne and Brian at Judy’s house for some dinner and games.  We used to go over to Judy’s to kick each other’s butts on Wii and hadn’t done that in a long time so we had a blast.

Saturday, June 25th

I was so happy that I was down in Long Beach for the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the Manazar Gamboa Community Theater!  I was honored to have known Manazar through my mom (he was my mom’s writing mentor at the Homeland Cultural Center in LB, directly behind the new theater) and it was so perfect that I was able to attend such a wonderful event honoring his life 10 years after his death.  Here’s a Press-Telegram article which talks about Manazar’s life and the theater (and my mama’s even quoted!)

Beautiful mural of Manazar on the side of the theater

The entrance

The program–see my mom’s name? 🙂

My beautiful mama

Mom with some of the Homeland staff

The growing crowd

African drummers

A very cool belly dancer who shook her hips while balancing a sword on her head.  Now that’s talent.

My mom reading Manazar’s biography and two of his poems

She is at home in the spotlight!

Right after my mom finished talking I had to take off to meet Carleigh at the Long Beach airport!  She flew down for the day so that we could go to our high school reunion together.  It was lunch time so we rushed off to Open Sesame (yes, the same Open Sesame I went to on Monday) for some more amazing Mediterranean food.  Then we took a stroll around Colorado Lagoon with the Lola-meister.  It as such a beautiful day and I had never walked around the entire lagoon before!

Carleigh and Lola

We dropped Lola off and went to get our nails done for the event.  I’ve only gotten a pedicure a handful of times and I always forget how nice they are!  Then we went home to get dressed for our reunion!

Me and Carleigh all dolled up

The reunion was interesting but definitely not the highlight of my week in Southern California.  It was nice reconnecting with a couple of folks and I just hope that more people attend our 15 or 20 year reunion.  🙂

Sunday, June 26th

Carleigh, Lola and I packed ourselves into the car and after a quick breakfast at Grounds we were on the road!  7 hours later we pulled into San Francisco to unpack and ready ourselves for another week in the city.

Weekend of parties in Long Beach!

Wednesday, May 25

Kevin and I got on the road on Wednesday evening with the Lola in tow.  The drive down was pretty uneventful (the best kind of trip down the 5 highway, I’d say!) and we got in at midnight.

Pretty cows out to graze!

Lola was quite intrigued by the cows

Our pretty little girl stretching out her legs

Thursday, May 26th

We were fortunate enough to stay at Kevin’s parent’s house for the trip and were treated to a yummy breakfast of eggs and toast.  We just hung out most of the day, running some errands and soaking in the sun (oh, the sun!)  As Dorothy was watering the garden, she quickly learned how much Lola LOVES the garden hose…

Watering her grandpup! Haha

That evening we met up for dinner at Lucille’s BBQ (our go-to place when we’re in town!) with none other but Brianne, Brian and Brianne’s sister Laura.

Oh how I’ve missed you!

Cutie pie

Kevin and Brian, stuffed silly

Kevin and Lola, posing for a photo at home

Friday, May 27th

For the few weeks leading up to our trip down south I was working with Kevin’s mom and sister Judith to plan a surprise graduation party for Kevin on Friday night.  We had a guest list of around 40 people and were anxious to get the party started!  But first, a lot of shopping and preparations to make sure that Kevin didn’t find out until the last possible minute (and since we were staying with his parents it proved to be a little difficult!)

The plan that afternoon was to have his brother Thomas take him out for a few hours while Dorothy, George, Judith and I prepared the food, cleaned the house, and got the backyard all ready to go.  Unfortunately, Thomas had to go to work at 6pm (the same time the party started) so he had to drop Kevin off at 5:30, so the surprise was a little premature.  Nevertheless, Kevin was extremely surprised and had not idea what we had up our sleeves!

The guests started arriving…

Dan, Judith and Kevin

Jessie and her niece Lola (with Valerie, Vanessa and Rose in the background!)

Dan, Chris, Kevin, Brian, Dominic and Jayme

Same as above plus Dorothy, Loren, Shani, Andrea and Ron

Jess and Brianne

Mmm…veggie skewers! Oh yeah, and burgers & hot dogs for the carnivores

Christian (my mom’s boyfriend Steve’s grandson)

Lola and her new best “friend” Christian (he quickly wore her out [which is not an easy thing to do!] and so she got a little annoyed towards the end of the party since he was still full of energy and wanted to play!)

Me and Brianne

Kev and Jessie

Jess and Matt

After chowing down we brought out the cakes and said a little something about the man of the hour–for those of you that don’t know, Kevin just completed a two year Aviation Mechanics program at the College of Alameda.  It was a full-time program in which Kevin went to school from 4:30-10:30 every night for two years.  He ended up at the top of his class (no surprise here!) and just last week, at the recommendation of his instructor, was offered a job at Rolls Royce working on the V-22 Osprey engine!  It was SO great being able to celebrate Kevin and all of his accomplishments with the people that love him and it was even more wonderful that he was able to announce his new job just a week out of school.  We’re all so proud of you, Kev!

Applauding the guest of honor

The ADORABLE airplane cake the Dorothy baked and Shani decorated

It also happened to be Dan’s birthday so we sang a little song for him and gave him a cupcake to celebrate

Christian said he wanted the candle (not the cupcake, surprisingly) and said he was going to save it to put it on *his* birthday cake

A Cookie Monster cupcake will do that to you

I think everyone who attended really enjoyed celebrating Kevin and his accomplishments, thank you to everyone who was able to make it!

Saturday, May 28th

The main reason we made the trip to Long Beach this weekend was to celebrate with my good friends Kim and Frank on the day they got hitched!!

That morning we met up with my mom, Jessie, the Julians and Matt’s girlfriend Alexis at what other place but The Potholder?!

The whole gang

The wedding was scheduled to start at 4:30pm at the Art Theater in Long Beach–such a cool wedding venue!

The marquee said “A Love Story: Kimberly and Frank”…so cute!!

Jess, Steve, me, Kevin and my Auntie Tina in front of the theater

Me and Jess all dolled up

Me and Kev on the red carpet

Inside the theater they were showing silent films

Steve chowing on some popcorn (they had bags of it in the lobby for people to eat!)

Me and my mama

The ceremony was short and sweet, officiated by Kim’s dad Guy (who actually married Kevin and I as well!)

Kim and her mama Terry walking down the aisle.  What a beautiful bride!

The reception was behind the theater under a big tent…

Beautiful flower arrangement centerpieces

Lots and lots of wine for the masses!

Me and my party dress

Guy greeting my Auntie Tina and Jessie

Kim coming by to say hi

Hugs all around!

Matt and Alexis with the bride

Portrait of the bride…

…and the flower girl Bella

Me, mom, Tina, Jess and Kim (LOVE this photo!)

Me and Shan

Kim and Frank cracking up at Stacey (maid-of-honor’s) hilarious toast

The shoes…so perfect!

First dance

And Bella decided it was her time to show off her firefighter pole slide!

Susuico family dance (Stacey, Jay, Bella and Tasi)

Mom and Frank dancing

Kim and Steve dancing

Dancin’ shoes (mom and Jess)

Mom and Steve

Diane and Dave

Jess and Terry

Pretty sister!

Me and Kev (our obligatory shot)

They had an awesome candy bar for people to fill up little popcorn bags with treats…

The kiddos could be found swarming the table most of the evening

I swear she posed that way on her own! Haha

Their cake was AMAZING–made by one of her girlfriends Diana!  And it tasted better than it looks, no joke.

The adorable orange bride and groom to go with the citrus theme.

The ol’ hula gang!  Sayuri, Cat, Kim, mom and me

Finally warm enough weather to wear something that shows off my tattoo!

The evening was perfect and we felt so incredibly fortunate to be able to celebrate with our good friends Kim and Frank as they start a new life together!!

Sunday, May 29th

After a late night we met up with Brianne and Brian at The Coffee Cup Cafe for some good eats.

Me and Bri

We hung out with them for a few hours trying to distract Brian as Brianne went out to prepare for his very own surprise party, this time to celebrate his birthday!  That afternoon we had to pretend we were saying bye for good and that we wouldn’t be seeing him again until our next trip down, but little did he know that we’d be turning right back around to their apartment a few short hours later to celebrate with him and friends/family.

A video of the surprise!

Birthday banner made by Brianne


We got the chance to see our friend Lara and meet her brand-new baby Audrey!  Audrey was a total sweetheart and it was great being able to meet her after only seeing photos all this time.

Lara, Brianne and Audrey

Ted and Lara

Me and the flying baby!

Monday, May 30th

We were treated to a home-cooked breakfast of waffles covered in strawberries and a breakfast veggie stir fry (or bacon if your name is Kevin).  It was nice being able to spend a couple of hours at home with Dorothy and George before making our way back home to SF.

Unfortunately the ride home was nowhere near as smooth as the ride down.  9 1/2 hours later we finally parked in front of our house.  Let that be a warning to anyone who thinks they can avoid the awful traffic on the 5 on a holiday!  🙂

We had SUCH an awesome trip, thanks to everyone who made an effort to see us and we can’t wait to go back!

Weekend in LA

I flew down to LAX on Fri. 2/11 for a work retreat at our LA campus and decided to stick around for the weekend to see some family!  My mom and her boyfriend Steve came to pick me up in Alhambra and we went straight to one of my favorite restaurants out that way: Noodle World.

I spent most of my time with Mom and Steve out in San Pedro.  We took a 2 mile walk down Paseo Del Mar and when we were looking out over Royal Palms beach, we happened to spot a mermaid!

But then we realized she wasn’t alone.  Alas, she and her three friends were with a full crew taking photos.

We then enjoyed breakfast at the Lighthouse Deli (yummy batter-of-the-day pancakes!)  That afternoon me and my mom went to visit my aunt in her new digs in Garden Grove.  For those of you that know my family well, I’m happy to report that Tina is doing GREAT!  🙂

Then we made our way back to San Pedro to The Corner Store for a wine tasting benefiting the Marine Mammal Center of San Pedro.

Lots of incredible desserts like these fudgy, red velvet cake pops dipped in chocolate.  AMAZING!!

Then we zipped on over to Busy Bee (a famous sandwich shop that I had heard so many good things about but had never tried before) to buy a boatload of sandwiches to enjoy with Brianne & Brian and my brother Derek who were coming over to Steve’s for dinner and games!

Mmm…check out that greasy goodness on the sandwich wrappers. 🙂

Brianne and Brian and Catalina Island in the background

Not the best photo, but the three of us enjoying the sunset

Gorgeous view, eh?

We spent a good few hours laughing our rears off playing a game called The Game of Things (highly recommend this game for groups, so much fun!)  Kevin even joined in on the fun in SF via Skype!  He was my partner during a few rounds and it was great to have him join in on the game for a bit. 🙂

The next morning we were up bright and early for some yummy breakfast (egg, muenster cheese and honey mustard paninis with cottage cheese/oranges and a piping hot cup of joe).

Then we drove down to Long Beach and I spent a whopping 2 hours in LB the entire weekend.  I went to visit with my in-laws, Dorothy and George, and we had a great little visit.  George cooked up some yummy and slightly spicy chicken salad sandwiches for us to enjoy too. Yummy!

After the short visit with the Edmonds family (and an even shorter appearance of my bro-in-law Thomas) we drove down to pick up my brother Derek to get some lunch at Portillo’s Hot Dogs in Buena Park and then made another visit to my aunt Tina.

Derek, a huge fan of the Chicago Cubs, made a visit to the windy city last year and found out that Portillo’s (a Chicago-based restaurant) had a chain out in Buena Park.  Here he is enjoying a dog covered in goodness (as you can see, he’s not the biggest fan of the Lisa blog paparazzi).

We then made our way back up to San Pedro to make a visit with Steve’s grandson Christian who is an adorable kindergartner.  We spent a good amount of time drawing mutant animals…

And then as the sun was setting, Christian insisted on taking me on a flashlight tour of Steve’s backyard where he showed me, amongst other things, the place where his cat is buried.  Haha!

After that we rushed off to LAX and I was home around 10:15pm on Sunday. I had a really fantastic whirlwind of a trip and can’t thank my mom and Steve enough for the hospitality!  🙂

B & B’s visit

The first weekend of August we were visited by our favorite couple ever, Brianne & Brian! They stayed with us Thursday through Sunday so it was a great chunk of time to spend with those kiddos. 🙂

The first day I had to work so Kevin and B & B went to the Exploratorium to act like kids for a day. That night after work we met up with Carleigh in Union Square and had drinks and dinner at an Irish pub (can’t remember the name of it). We then treated ourselves to some Mitchell’s Ice Cream since they hadn’t tried it yet. We’ve got ourselves a couple new fans! 🙂

On Friday while Kevin and I were at work, B & B did some exploring in the East Bay on their own. We then met up that afternoon to do some exploring in North Beach/Chinatown.

Yes it is August and yes we’re bundled up like we’re going to the North Pole 🙂

Our first stop in Chinatown: House of Nanking! We had heard rave reviews about it and were not disappointed. Soooo tasty! Just don’t be fooled by the name of their scallop dish “Tower of Scallops”…it was only three freakin’ scallops! Other than that, we were super impressed (just not with the service, but what can you expect?)

We then walked a mile or two to North Beach and hung out at our regular spot Mara’s Italian Pastries.

Our lovely posed photo (check out the tripod our camera is on, haha!)
Here’s our goofy shot…guess Kevin and Brian didn’t get the memo!
Being goofs in front of some window display in Union Square
They look like they could be locals! 🙂

On Saturday we went to visit Kevin on his lunch break since he had to work 🙁 We went to eat at La Boulange Bakery.

Delicious tuna melt!!

Then B & B and I were off to explore the Sutro Baths.

Brian rock climbing

Then we did some exploring (by car mostly) through Golden Gate Park.

And where do you think we went to dinner? Goood Frikin Chicken of course! It’s where we take all of our lucky visitors.

After dinner we made the trip out to Concord for Terri and Scott’s poker night. The newbies (B & B) got beginner’s luck and walked away with the pot!!

We had such a fantastic time with those two and we miss ’em already! Can’t wait for their next visit 🙂

Christmas & New Year’s in Long Beach

Kevin and I were fortunate enough to be able to spend a nice chunk of time in Long Beach visiting with family and friends for the holidays. Kevin was out of school early so flew down a week before Christmas. Lola and I held down the fort at home while he was gone and with Jessie drove down at around 2am on Saturday 12/19. That morning we had a delicious breakfast with Kevin at Nick’s Burritos in Seal Beach (haven’t had Nick’s yet? You must!!) And that afternoon we were lucky enough to be in town to celebrate Sophie’s 3rd birthday!

Little miss Fancy Nancy in all her glory!
Me and the birthday girl

After most of the party people left, we decided to introduce Lola to Kevin’s parent’s neighbor’s dogs Tango and Cash, two cute Boxer puppies.

The majority of our time in LB we stayed at my mom’s house. We were a little worried about how Lola and Luke (my family dog) would get along. The first day we took extra precautions when introducing the two of them because we know how territorial Luke can be so we introduced them in the front yard. They immediately were interested in each other and when we took them in the backyard they were sniffing around and sniffing each other and just getting a feel for each other. Luckily, they ended up getting along just fine! They were quite the duo–Luke the small, old fart and Lola the big, rambunctious bundle of energy–but they quickly became close “cousins”. 🙂

The week leading up to Christmas was full of catching up with folks we hadn’t seen in a while. My mom hosted a holiday party on Sun. 12/20 which was a lot of fun. On the 22nd we went out to dinner with our good friends Heather and Gabriel (Heather and I met each other working for the OC Girl Scouts) and we had a delicious meal at Outback Steakhouse and it was even more enjoyable because of the great company we had! My brother Derek and his friend Emily also joined us for some shenanigans that night. 🙂 On the 23rd my mom took me, Jessie and Kevin out for our Christmas gifts…Chinese massages! It was such a nice treat and I wasn’t in quite as much pain afterwards as I was last time we got them! We definitely need to find a place like that here in SF. Christmas Eve we spent with my family–my mom, Jessie, Derek and my Aunt Tina–and we had a really great time making homemade pizzas and sharing gifts. That night intead of staying at my mom’s which we had been doing we stayed the night at Kevin’s parent’s house to be ready for the festivities in the morning!

Christmas Eve (I think I was being forced to watch some weird Japanese movie with Kevin and Thomas, haha…go look it up “Big Man Japan” and you’ll know what I’m talking about)

On Christmas morning Thomas and I drove out to Riverside to go pick up Sophie to celebrate Christmas with the family. It was so great seeing the little munchkin after almost 6 months of not seeing her! The morning and afternoon we spent at Dorothy & George’s house, hanging out, opening gifts, and snacking on holiday treats.

Josh & Sophie showing off their hats

Even Lola got some gifts (thank you Judith, Luke, Joshua and Katelyn)!

Christmas night we went over to our good friend Judy Rotty’s house to celebrate with her and her daughter Lisa. We had a delicious dinner and had a great time playing the Wii.

Sophie distracting Aunt Sarah while playing Rockband
Cowgirl Sophie!
Kevin playing Sophie’s favorite game: Toss up! (though it was more like a workout for Kevin than a game!)
Check out that hair!

One of the best parts of the day was that the Sophienator spent the night at the Edmonds’ house and we did too! It was great being able to see her in her pj’s playing fort with Thomas before bedtime.

The week after Christmas we went to lunch with our good friend Susan (Susan and I also used to work together at the OC Girl Scouts) to Open Sesame in Long Beach. That week we were also reunited with Shige, a student from Japan who lived at my mom’s house a couple of years ago while he was studying English at CSULB. It was SO great to see him after such a long time away! One of the things we had to do while he was in town was make a visit to Island’s Burgers which, when he first came to visit, he called his burger “The #1 burger of my life”. And they sure didn’t disappoint!

Kevin, me, Shige and my mom at Island’s!

For New Year’s we took Shige along with us to hang out with friends at JJ’s Karaoke in Tustin! We spent 4 hours singing the night away with Alison, Seth, Brianne, Brian and Allison. After karaoke we went to Allison’s new apartment in Costa Mesa for the countdown!

Creating an awesome music list takes lots of concentration!
Alison and Shige

Alison & me singing our signature song “Proud Mary” by Tina Turner! (We were “rollin’ down the river” at this point in the song!)

About two minutes after the countdown we rushed home to catch a few hours of sleep before our looooong drive back up to SF the next morning (we left the house at 6am!) Overall it was a GREAT trip to Southern California!!

Brianne & Brian’s visit (Oct. 3rd-5th)

Our really great friends Brian and Brianne came up to visit us Oct. 3rd-Oct. 5th and we had a blast! We gave them the whirlwind tour of the city and I think we did every touristy thing you could think of except for riding the cable car and the tour of Alcatraz. So here’s some photos of their visit!

After picking them up from SFO airport early on Saturday morning, we headed straight for breakfast. We ate at Just for You Cafe in the Dogpatch neighborhood and it definitely earned a thumbs-up from us (especially for their Beignets, a delicious New Orleans inspired fluffy donut covered in powdered sugar…mmm…)
After hanging out at our apartment for a bit and getting them acquainted with Lola, we hit the streets by bus for a true SF experience. We took the 44 bus for about 30 minutes all the way to Golden Gate Park and strolled through the park a bit. Then we jumped back on a bus that took us to the Golden Gate bridge.

Brian was pretty hungry that day!

After that we took the bus to the Fillmore Street Festival which we were pretty excited about but ended up being a bust. 🙁 The festival was only a block long and you had to pay for tickets to do wine tasting which didn’t sound extremely exciting to us at the time. So we hopped on another bus and went down to Union Square.They were a little too excited about the bus trip, haha

Me and Kevin in Union SquareThat weekend ended up being pretty popular in terms of visitors because my friends from Redlands, Sneha and Beka, ended up coming to visit that day as well! Sneha was in town for her mom’s birthday (she’s from San Jose and now lives in NYC) and Beka is now going to school at Stanford so is in the neighborhood. We met Sneha and Beka at the Cheesecake Factory at the top of the Macy’s building in Union Square and had a great lunch/dinner together.

Me, Sneha and Beka at the Cheesecake Factory!

After saying bye to Sne and Beka, we hopped on another bus to head back home. We had a pretty quiet night because of all of our walking that day and we knew we’d have another busybusy day in store for us on Sunday!

Sunday morning we piled into the car (enough buses for the weekend!) and went to Fisherman’s Wharf. Our landlord has a friend who works at a parking lot near Pier 39 so was able to get us in for free!

Brian and Brianne ordering up their lunch

Chow time! We had fried calamari (mmm), crab chowder (mmm), fried shrimp (mmm) and garlic fries (mmm)…talk about a healthy lunch!

After lunch we stumbled upon the Musee Mecanique antique coin-operated arcade at Pier 39. From the outside, it didn’t look like much but it ended up being really entertaining!

Brianne getting her fortune told by granny

One of the many creepy figures they had there

You’ll just have to ask Kevin personally what he saw (or go there and pay a quarter to see for yourself!)

They had some of the funniest little arcade machines and we spent a ton in quarters watching them do their thing. Here’s one, the Thimble Theater, that I couldn’t resist putting my quarter in (watch the video):

And Kevin decided to go up against one of the funniest ones there (it’s a video too, so give it a look!):

The last thing we did at the arcade was take a group photo in the old photo booth they had there:

After spending a roll of quarters (not really) at the arcade, we headed out to Ghirardelli Square.

We were pretty exhausted by then, so we headed back home and relaxed for a bit. Then we decided to go to dinner at Goood Frikin Chicken (one of our favorite spots in SF so far!) and Brianne and Brian were definitely impressed! 🙂 Then we went to meet up with one of my co-workers for a weekly trivia night that she and her friends attend at Noe’s Bar. We celebrated into the late hours of the night as it approached Brianne’s birthday, so we had a few drinks to commemorate her entrance into her 25th year! 🙂

On Monday I took the day off and we did some more sight-seeing. Our first stop was Haight Ashbury and though it was pretty quiet on a Monday mid-morning, there were still some sights to be had!

We were so happy that B&B came up to visit us and we can’t wait until they visit again! 🙂

Taking a pit stop in the Presidio to get a look at the Bay

The big weekend

Hi everyone! I know it seems like forever since I last posted and I know a few people have asked us when our next post will be…since the move I’ve felt more tired than I think I’ve ever felt before. It’s now finally starting to feel “normal”, the past three weeks have been so intense and I’m just happy that we’re finally getting to a normal day-to-day routine.

Packing it all up

On Friday July 3rd I flew back down to Southern California, arriving at the Long Beach airport at 8:30am. Kevin picked me up and we had a wonderful, long-awaited reunion after not seeing each other for two weeks. We immediately went to Budget truck rental to pick up our 16 foot moving truck and then drove over to our apartment. Kevin’s parents, George and Dorothy, were there with us to help pack. Starting at 10am and not stopping (not even for lunch!) until 6pm, we packed up our moving truck. One of our good friends Brian helped us for part of the day as well, but Kevin’s parents were with us from start to finish, they’re real champs! We can’t thank them enough for helping us…we honestly could not have done it without them!!

Kevin, Brian and George trying to figure out how to fit it all in the truck

Kevin and George packing up the office

Me and Kevin taking a break

Party time!

My mom was hosting a going-away party for us that started at 6pm, but we barely finished locking up the truck at that time. So Kevin’s parents rushed home and we attempted to clean ourselves up at our empty apartment and then rushed off to my mom’s house for the festivities! There were so many friends and family there to send us off and it was so great spending time with everyone that night!

My mama, Kevin and me

Claudia and her daughter Isabella (Claudia and I used to work at the Girl Scouts together)

Me and Kevin with two of our closest friends Brian and Brianne

The Redlands gang: Romina, Allison, Monique and Byron

Me and Emily

The Edmonds gang: Sarah and her boyfriend Rob, Thomas and Dorothy

Me and my Uncle Joey (my mom’s brother)

The Millikan gang: Jenny, Neil and Lindsay (and her bundle of joy Addison in the baby carrier)

Our first weekend in SF

We left bright and early on Saturday, July 4th at 5am and drove up the I-5 to our new home. Dorothy and George came along for the trip and the drive was really smooth and it went by pretty quick. We arrived at our new apartment around 1 pm and immediately began unpacking the van. Luckily, it went so much faster taking things out of the truck versus putting them in! After a few hours of unpacking, we decided to go out and get some food to nourish our tired bodies! We went to a yummy Mexican/Salvadorean restaurant on Mission called El Patio and it felt so good to get some food in our systems.

The night view from our street

The next morning we met my sister Jessie and went to one of her favorite breakfast locations called Zasie. It was DELICIOUS! It was a wonderful way to end our long, crazy weekend.

Dorothy, George and Kevin waiting outside Zazie

My unbelievable french toast!

Walking back to the car

Edmonds family send-off dinner

My last night as a Southern Californian was yesterday, so to celebrate the whole Edmonds gang (plus the Rotty family) went out to dinner to Sweetee Thai in Cypress. The food was delicious (as always) and we had a great evening together.

Wor Wonton Soup/Katelyn checking out the menu

Me and Brianne

Joshua & Judith/Thai decorations

Me and Katelyn/Katelyn and her lemon slice pet (don’t ask!)

The whole gang!
(L to R: Thomas, George, Kevin, Dorothy, Joshua, Sarah, Judith, Katelyn, Brian, me, Lisa R., Brianne, Judy)

The surprise of the evening came as we were standing around outside the restaurant. George (Kevin’s dad) started lining everyone up and passed out little pieces of paper. On his count, the whole group started singing a song that George had made up the lyrics to that went to the tune of “California, here we come!” This was such a surprise and one of the sweetest things anyone has ever done for us. As you can see in the video below, it was a really great send-off! 🙂