Jenna and Maria's Wedding

with side trips to Washington D.C. and Los Angeles

We took a week-long family vacation at the end of July, heading first to Washington for just under forty-eight hours to stay with our old friends Tim and Christine.

Our kids played with their kids, Samantha had her first-ever sleepover, sleeping one night in M's bedroom, and they all ran around the backyard for hours, getting mosquito-bitten and sweaty and hot and enjoying the slip 'n' slide Tim set up.

We ate at Willard's BBQ for lunch after a couple hours at the Udvar-Hazy, and we feasted on Moroccan chicken at night and multiple kinds of pancakes in the morning, with some made-to-order Duck Donuts (you choose the glaze, then the topping, and then the drizzle, leading to fantastic hot creations such as maple-bacon-chocolate, peanut butter-oreo-salted caramel, and lemon-coconut-raspberry, among others) thrown in there in the middle.

Both nights we were there, the grown-ups stayed up late talking--the male grown-ups in particular, very late--and we all had a great time.

Then on Sunday it was on to Los Angeles for the wedding of our cousin Jenna to Maria, down in San Clemente. What a fun wedding! After a quick stop at Tito's Tacos and a poke place, we headed south.

It was a beautiful wedding--Steve even pronounced everyone's names correctly, and the poke, corn dog, and crab cake appetizers were especially delicious.

We loved getting to visit with family we hadn't seen in far too long, and after swimming in the pool by day and running around finding golf balls by night, at the end of the night Samantha was asleep over two chairs (and Helen asleep in my sling) for the arrival of the In-N-Out truck.

Samantha was very serious about her photography for the evening. "You know," she said, "I could print these pictures out and then add more decoration to them, because I'm an artist, and that's one way of doing art." Well, yes. Yes, it is.

Marcus made it to the truck, had some potato chips and part of a burger, and then crashed on two chairs himself, leading us to carry lots of sleeping kids back to the hotel.

Were we reassured by the bizarre post-it note attached to our headboard that night, telling us that the sheets were clean?

I'm not sure, really, but everyone was so tired we all slept soundly no matter what, and got up ready for the hotel breakfast buffet early the next morning.

Later that morning we gathered some of the cousins (whoever didn't have to go to work or otherwise leave early) and went over to the beach for Helen's baptism. The beach was a bit more chaotic than we had imagined, for 11:00 on a Monday morning ("Right, I forgot--this is California, where no one ever works," Steve said), but it all worked out.

Rie, Annie, Gio, and Alex watched from the walkway, along with Samantha, who was for some reason terrified of the waves (yes, our child has seen a beach before...) and the rest of us stood in the surf.

Rie wore her vintage 1978 Hawaiian mumu for the occasion, and Steve his vintage 1978 Hawaiian shirt (over a collar and swim trunks, of course).

Helen squawked a bit at the water but didn't cry, so Steve still has his streak going.

Marcus enjoyed a post-baptism collation of (sadly, pretty mediocre) shaved ice at the beach snack shack.

Then we drove to Olamendi's, just 15 minutes up the coast in Dana Point, for excellent shrimp burritos and chilaquiles for lunch. Robert liked the one-free-refill policy on the horchata and the lemonade, and we all appreciated the eclectic decor.

On Tuesday, we joined Rie and Steve for breakfast at our hotel (Holiday Inn Buena Park) and then swam in the morning. We met up with Sue, Jenna, and Maria for a really great poke lunch--you choose your fish, your base (tortilla chips, rice, etc.--I hear some places have quinoa or kale, for some really wild and wacky combinations), and your toppings, and then your sauce. Marcus devoured his (relatively plain) bowl, and we all loved our creations. They had to head home, bringing some poke to Sue's brother Pat, but we continued on to Snowflakes for a coffee-chocolate shaved snow (for Robert and Samantha) with a DIY toppings bar, and some Hawaiian-style shaved ice (really wonderful--fluffy and delicious, exactly as it's supposed to be) for Marcus and me. They even had some li hing mui powder to sprinkle on your ice, plus passionfruit syrup, so I was in heaven.

After lunch we went to Heritage Park in Cerritos, and the kids fed ducks and turtles and wandered around the "play island" there for awhile.


Over the next few days, the kids logged a lot of pool time with Robert and Steve, and Robert taught Marcus how to dive.

The big bummer of the week really was the driving--you cannot do LA without driving, and Helen hates the car. Unless we got very lucky and managed to transfer her to the carseat already sleeping, she would just scream and scream and scream, which of course made everyone else agitated too. On Wednesday, when Robert had to go to Encino for a work meeting, I took the kids on the LA Metro downtown to the Science Center; he dropped us off at Norwalk, at the end of the Green Line, and we changed at Rosa Parks for the Blue Line and then at Pico for the Expo Line. At the Science Center we met up with Brigitta, Lauren, and William, and had a fun time, but most importantly, we got there happily, with no driving. The Metro was actually really smooth and easy to navigate, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

We generally had dinners with Sal and Sue and whoever else could make it--Monday night, a big BBQ and potluck at their house (carnitas on top of your hot dog? Yes, please!); Tuesday, take-out Chinese that Pat coordinated ordering (mmmm, crab, plus we brought a couple coconuts and Larry made cauliflower muffalettas to Aunt Grace's recipe); and Wednesday, all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ at Cham Sut Gol in Buena Park (very nice place--excellent garlicky pork belly, great kalbi, and side dishes that Samantha, in particular, adored--I think she ate six bowls of fish cakes!).

As always, we thought our visit was way too short, though we confess we're happy to be back in the land of no-cars again. Still, we can't wait for our California cousins' next trip East!


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Created: 7/29/16. Last Modified: 7/29/16.