Tuesday, August 15, 2017


Birthday week (San Diego, CA)

It's been four years and three kids ago since we last visited California. Now with the new addition, we had to go back before it got more expensive, i.e. Elliot turning two. And this time, we spent the whole week in San Diego... forget LA and Disneyland and all that nasty traffic. This would be our preview of life in San Diego should we decide to make the move here.

Hmmm. I don't think that applies to us, Southwest.
Whenever you travel, especially with young kids, you hope everything goes as smooth as possible. But on this trip, that was not the case. And the worst part was that it was all self-inflicted. This could've been prevented if I wasn't so careless. It all began when we went to check in at the Houston airport. There was an issue adding Elliot as a lap baby to Lynn's ticket. Why? Because apparently I had booked Lynn's ticket as a child (born 2010). It took awhile before the Southwest counter person could figure out the issue and then it took more time for her to call customer service to fix it. By the time it was resolved, we were considered a "late check in" (within 45 minutes of departure time). We rushed through the airport as our plane was already boarding. There was no time to sit and eat breakfast. Lynn and I split up as she bought food and I boarded the plane with the kids. Ah, we made it. But then our plane just sat there on the runway... for an hour. Ugh. We rushed only to sit and wait. Whatever, no big deal. We land and go to baggage claim... but we're missing a bag. Apparently it never made it on the plane since we were "late" and it's still in Houston. We would have to come back to the airport when it arrives later that night. More time wasted. Whatever, no big deal. Then we lug the kids and luggage to the car rental shuttle. I get to the car rental counter only to discover that they don't have my reservation. WTF. It was my first time using priceline.com (and my last) and the car was reserved at a location outside of the airport. Whatever, no big deal. I left everyone there, took a taxi to the correct location, got the car, went back to pick up the family, and we were finally off.

Our minivan. I'll never own one but I have to admit, it was pretty damn convenient.

Our first stop was to Liberty Station and the Liberty Public Market. We got burgers at Slater's 50/50, sweet treats at Crafted Baked Goods, and ice cream at Scooped. Everything was good. And we did some shopping before heading to our home away from home in South Park.

Slater's 50/50 burger (50% ground bacon and 50% ground beef)

Sweets galore at the Liberty Public Market. 

Ice cream taco at Scooped.

After unloading our stuff at the house and Chi Tram stopping by to say hi, it didn't take long for the kids to get restless. So after a quick break we were off again. We went to Zion Market, an Asian market with a food court inside (like H-Mart in Houston). As we walked through the doors, Tyson immediately said, "I smell pho!" And just like that, our dinner plans were made. The pho was terrible but Tyson and Andrew killed it. The Korean food was edible. The banh mi was decent. The bakery was pretty good, depending on what you got. And the boba place had a drink called a Tiger Tail (half milk tea and half Thai tea) which I liked.

Food court inside Zion Market.

Elliot loves boba.

Assorted baked goods from Paris Baguette.

After stuffing our faces, it was getting late and we still needed to head back to the airport to retrieve our missing luggage. By the time we got home, it was already time for bed. And that was a wrap on a long and exhausting day.

Happy birthday to me! In the morning, we all took a walk to explore the neighborhood and to get a cup of coffee, specifically a caffe breve (espresso with steamed half-and-half) at Caffe Calabria. Afterwards, we made an obligatory Target stop (we ❤ Target), had a quick lunch at In-N-Out, and then we were off to Torrey Pines for some hiking. My plan was to go to the Birch Aquarium and La Jolla afterwards but everyone was tired so we called it a day.

Birthday morning!

Sitting outside Caffe Calabria.

Enjoying the view at Torrey Pines.

Big girl posing for the camera.

In the evening, we met up with The Bertisan and Chamberlain families for dinner. Awesome pizza (Tribute Pizza) and awesome beer (Societe IPA) finished off with an awesome carrot cake (Crafted Baked Goods) with awesome people.

Lil' munchkins. 

Pizza and beer, the ultimate combo.

The kids were having too much fun.

Awesome people.

On this morning we got lattes at Communal Coffee, a coffee shop/flower shop. They also sold other little neat things... pretty interesting concept. For lunch, we got pasta and (more) pizza at Buona Forchetta. The Sergio pizza (buffalo mozzarella, ham of parma, arugola, parmesan) was my best eats of the trip (BEOTT) but everything was so good.

Looks like someone needs coffee.

Oh, Tyson...

After carb loading, it was off to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. These kids got to see their favorite animals in a more natural setting, i.e. not locked up in tiny cages. And only here can you see a cheetah run at full speed, getting to speeds up to 60 mph.

The star of the show.

It's like you're really in the jungle.

Safari Park is massive.

Cooling off with a slushy.

Ridiculous green screen picture that I'm not willing to pay for.

Happy birthday to Tyson! I made a morning run to Golden Donuts to get him our traditional birthday donuts and my daily coffee. This unassuming donut shop has good unpretentious donuts and legit Vietnamese ice coffee.

Vietnamese coffee brewing at Golden Donuts.

Tyson turns 6!

After a quick "happy birthday" celebration, we were off to the San Diego Zoo as soon as it opened. After seven hours at the zoo, we called it a day. And we still didn't see everything we wanted to! This place was not meant to be visited only once.

It's only 10:30 a.m. and he's sleeping on the bus tour.

Not so hungry hippos.

Andrew with his favorite animal, the sloth.

For dinner, we got together with the San Diego families once again for burgers and beer at Waypoint Public. Hands down, the best burger on this trip. And to celebrate Tyson's birthday, we got the 32 flavor ice cream flight at Hammond's. Happy birthday to my little man.

Birthday boys with our matching socks.

Tyson is going to need some help eating all of that ice cream.


Happy birthday to Lisa! Oh, where do I begin? So Lisa had the day off and we were thinking of getting together, time and place to be determined. In the morning, we went back to Golden Donuts for breakfast and walked around the neighborhood to do a bit of shopping when I get a text from Lisa asking if we ate already. She later called and asked if we wanted to meet for brunch but we just ate so the plan was for her to text me when they got back home. In the meantime, we went to check out Daiso Japan (a store I randomly saw while driving on Monday) and this was the greatest store ever! Imagine a Japanese version of a dollar store. And we happen to run into Chi Tram there, a mega fan of Daiso. Lol!

The candy options at Daiso.

By 1 p.m., I haven't heard back from Lisa so we just grabbed a quick bite to eat and headed home. We were just hanging out. The kids were watching a movie. I sat outside, enjoying the awesome weather. Still no word from Lisa. No big deal, I figured they got caught up doing something after her birthday brunch. We would see them later that night anyway.

Still nothing... until the test text that evening.

In the evening, we all met up at Balboa Park for Food Truck Friday. I see Lisa and wish her a happy birthday and then she asks, "What happened to you?" Huh? What do you mean? Apparently she had been texting me multiple times since our last conversion in the morning but I never received any of them. Obviously she never got a response from me and she assumed the same thing I assumed of them, that we got busy/caught up with whatever we were doing at the time... when in fact, we were both waiting on each other. :(

So many food options.

And so many people.

Get in my belly!

Like a moth to a flame, kids can't resist bubbles.

And these babies can't resist music.

The August birthdays continue!

Balboa Park at night.

But the day was not a total lost. The kids still got to run around and play like they wanted to... we just lost a few precious hours due to technical issues. Everyone had fun and this will be a story to remember.

There was a lot of running. (photo by Chi Tram)

Our last day in beautiful San Diego. We headed over to The Chamberlain's house for morning donuts and coffee and the kids got to hang out with each other one last time. We left Mike with the kids (seven of them) as us cousins went walking around North Park to eat and shop. It's a shame that we didn't have much time... we had to go before you knew it.

Breakfast of champions.

Just playing outside... something you can't do in Texas.

Thanks to Chi Tram for the care package when we first arrived (saved us a trip to Costco), the random $20 she gave the kids when she saw us at Daiso (which we easily spent), taking me to the airport when I goofed on the car rental... just everything! Thanks to Lisa for the welcoming gifts that we didn't know we needed (the bag definitely came in handy), the booster seat for Tyson, the awesome food recommendations... for just being there! It definitely made the trip less stressful knowing family was close by if we ever needed anything. It was an awesome feeling. Like Chi Tram so eloquently put it...

We're not family but we're family.

4 Reactions to this post

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  1. One Thu We !!! said... August 15, 2017 at 2:36 PM

    OMG...I forshadow that we may lose you and your family to San Diego...

    (My sisters are the best HOSTS and even better sisters)...

  2. JT said... August 15, 2017 at 8:08 PM


  3. tram said... August 15, 2017 at 11:08 PM

    Dropping you off at the airport...left a knot in my throat. You are not my little brother, but just like my little brother.

    Love you guys....Sweet, well mannered kids...lovely wife. 💓

  4. JT said... August 16, 2017 at 11:11 AM

    Awww Chi Tram! I wish I had big sisters like you and Lisa! And I may not be your brother but we're definitely FAMILY!

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