Holiday Happiness Part 2: West Coast Edition

I snuck in a trip to San Diego before making my way home. We hung out with the Anings first, jumping into their daily routines: pick ups from school, ordering burritos, dressing up and dancing to Whitney Houston. Cole and Nina are bright, imaginative, kind, and giggly sweethearts. I’m so glad Saya got to soak up their attention, and I was able to soak up the parenting pointers from two of my favorite friends.

Tim and Carlyn’s wedding was full on McKellogg DIY which is what this crew does best. Flowers, wedding tent, pre-wedding lunch– even our accommodation was built just two weeks prior by Uncle Ken. He remodeled the laundry room into a mini-airbnb for Saya and me! During the wedding, Saya was watching the ocean waves with Uncle Len or dancing with Grandad, so I was able to catch up with cousins over a couple glasses of wine. Carlyn’s speech welcomed everyone to make the most of the evening…to celebrate and be themselves…anything goes 🙂 Grandma Claire led the way into the memorable evening with a two-step surrounded by her kids.

Once in the Bay, we scheduled all the playdates. Auntie Grandma, Takeo and Erica had us over for lunch, and we had dinner with Carrie and Julie Anne. I met Roux for the first time with Lindsey and Diane, and Brian, Meggie, and Paxton had an open door policy whenever we were walking through the neighborhood. Jen came by after work, as did Eric. Miho treated us to pastries at La Farine. Auntie Jo showered Saya with handmade gifts and frequent visits. I used Cafe Zocolo as a frequent date spot. Krismin and I lunched as moms for the first time. On another afternoon, we set up the inaugural Gosei generation’s first meeting with Cal NSU alum.

On a surprisingly sunny day in the West Bay, my dad and I drove to San Rafael to meet Ginny, Finn, and Uncle Jamie. We drove early to ensure Saya would fall asleep for her mid-morning nap on the ride over. Once we crossed the bridge, Grandad’s eyes twinkled as we drove in the opposite direction from San Rafael. With Saya settled into her nap, he took us on a beautiful drive into Tiburon. I could see we were on a road popular with cyclists, but it felt like only my dad knew the magic of driving this scenic route in a car. What a beautiful showcase of SF in the sun! Having Finn and Saya meet at Uncle Jamie’s for the first time was a great plan. His home was always a wonder to me as a child, so having Saya explore his flat made me smile. Plus, an Indian buffet for lunch didn’t disappoint babies or adults.

December 19th was the start of the holiday extravaganza. It’s Miya’s birthday. It’s also the day the Forrest Ramirez clan and the Scott Bynoe clan arrived into Oakland. We had a semi-surprise, burrito birthday party at Jamie Lynn’s apartment for MFF. Semi-surprise because Miya knew there was an event for her birthday, but didn’t know who was attending, and didn’t have to coordinate logistics with anyone but her family unit.

This 19th also kicked off the birthday celebrations for all December babies, and the family affairs leading to and through Christmas. Daisuke’s birthday tradition is an ice cream dinner at Fentons, and this year, Bachan’s birthday was a dim sum spectacular.

In between play dates, grandkids and grandparents were inseparable. Mamo and Grandad’s circuit consisted of toy bins, Macky dog, feeding the fish, and a couple of Mamo’s musical mornings! Bachan hosted make-believe gatherings with stuffed animals, baking sessions, and fort-building. Books and bathtime were a highlight at both houses!

We stuffed ourselves at our annual Nishi/Diamant Christmas. This year, Madler and Dang were witnesses to how we do family gatherings right with this crew. We also discovered that a Berkeley brewery could be a surprisingly ideal locale for our Cousins Christmas gathering with my dad’s fam.

Christmas eve and day arrived bringing more smiles all around. Grandkids basically ran circles around the adults until it was time to break for food– and then they were back into their games and new gadgets. When I could, I sat back to watch small moments between our kids. I am feeling all the feels during my first Christmas as a mom.

Saya was an absolute trooper being on the road for the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas! Upon reflection, I’d pat myself on the back for using maternity leave to the full extent, too. Saya was introduced to the influences that have shaped Corey and me, and we recharged on love and support from our friends and family before heading back to London to start 2020.