Santa Monica
While my sisters in New York deal with the endless amount of snow that’s piling on their driveways, I’m out in the sun, worrying about things like, “Should I be wearing more sunscreen?” and, “Hmmm. I think E needs to hydrate more, it’s getting pretty hot.”

It feels very strange to experience such a drastically different type of winter than what I’m used to. I mean, can you even call this winter? Sure it gets pretty chilly at night but I’m not gonna be throwing salt on my driveway any time soon.

Anyway, here are a few shots and a video from when we went to Santa Monica a while back. It felt so very Californian (if that’s even an expression), and even though I live here now, I’m pretty sure I looked like a tourist gawking at the lively streets and beautiful beaches.

Everything was just so very, very… blue.

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Joshua Tree National Park


So here’s part two of my photos from Joshua Tree. The first few shots have basically the same feel as part one but the last few (plus the first photo) show a totally different side of the park. Since we have a toddler, there was no serious hiking in our schedule but it was still fascinating to drive through the park and see the landscape change in just a couple of hours.

E seemed to enjoy the view as well, and she took some incredible shots with her little camera. I gave her my old point-and-shoot as part of her birthday present. It’s small and light–perfect for her tiny hands. I’ll have to share her photos later too. (I know I’m totally biased because I’m her mom, but seriously, she’s got a great eye.)

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It’s been about five years since our last road trip so I was ecstatic when we suddenly decided to take our first road trip as a family this past weekend. The destination–Joshua Tree National Park. (For those of you who’ve never heard of it, it’s a fascinating desert with Dr. Seuss-like trees and gorgeous sunsets that’s less than a three-hour drive from LA.)

Sure, driving for hours with a freshly potty-trained toddler who insists on listening to nothing but the Frozen soundtrack was gonna be tough, but we decided to go anyway because, well, why not? The weather was great and our crazy week of birthdays (K was born on the 19th, E on the 22nd and me the 23rd) was coming up so we figured it’d be a great way to make Birthday Week 2015 stand out among others.

It was my first time there, but I know it won’t be my last.

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Is it too late to say, “Happy New Year!” when January is half over? Probably. But Happy New Year, anyway. The past month just flew by in a blur and between this post and my last, so many things have happened–including another move within LA.

After unpacking over a hundred boxes on my own and making our new home nice and presentable, we finally got around to getting Internet connection. This means I got my desktop out of its box and turned it on for the first time in over a year. (It was waiting for me in LA with K while I was in Japan waiting to go to LA to join K. Okay, that’s too wordy but whatever. I haven’t written anything in a while so bear with me.)

This new house though. Oh gosh. We are so lucky to have a place with such a great view of the sunset. It literally blinds us every morning. E is happy to have a room to herself and has requested that I make it green and pink, her favorite colors. I’m gonna have to dig in really deep to find my inner girly decorator so that her room turns out cute instead of looking like one of my monochrome film shots.

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Things are finally starting to slow down a bit around here–meaning I finally get to post these shots from this weekend, when we stopped by White Point/Royal Palms County Beach. K insisted on showing E and I the sunset from this spot, because it’s where he watched the sunset when he first arrived in LA alone.

I’m sure he stood there in January, feeling very lonely, his feelings accentuated by the beautiful sad colors of the sun going down, his surroundings slowly growing darker. It breaks my heart to think about how he must’ve felt.

But this time, I’m pretty sure the same colors looked different in his eyes. No longer sad, but full of hope. A gentle reminder that his family is here and he is no longer alone.

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“There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask “What if I fall?”
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?”

-Erin Hanson

This move has been a strange one. Technically, I’ve moved back to the country that I grew up in, back to the country where I don’t have to worry too much about making weird comments in the native language and back to a lifestyle that feels familiar–each can of soup and bottle of salad dressing brings back memories of a time long past.

But then, I’m on the complete opposite side of the country from my hometown and I still gape in awe every time I see the ocean beyond the road.

The lush Connecticut forests of my childhood are replaced with incredibly tall palm trees. High-rise apartment buildings that surrounded my place in Nagoya are replaced by a particularly beautiful lemon tree in my backyard.

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