Oakland Solo

My girls exceeded my expectations on this solo trip from London to Oakland. There is no way to sugar coat it: eleven hours is a loooong flight. We had our busy bags, snacks, an ipad with a headphones splitter but by the last four hours, I wasn’t sure what we were going to do. But my sisters ended up making their own fun: wiping down the remote controls for the TVs and pretend to make long distance phone calls to friends at nursery, climbing on the arms of the chair to hype up other passengers about the pending apple juice that would arrive in the aisles soon, and covering their arms in plasters and temporary tattoos. And we made it. All of the grandparents were jubilant. I was so happy for the hugs at the end of a long day.

Sunday, we drove to Erica and Brian’s and the kids played wonderfully together. Long time family friends talked school choices, work schedules, and upcoming vacations over tamales, bean salad, coleslaw and rice. Also, there was this Bitchin’ Chipotle sauce from Costco that I wish I could take back to the UK. Takeo showed me his artwork, Kohana shared her stuffed Totoros that Momo stiched and we just filled ourselves on being together for this short visit. The girls napped on the way home and were mesmerized by the Superbowl, which ended up being an unhappy ending for our Eagles. But Sachi is the biggest fan, second only to her dad.

Monday we rode the little red car and scooter to Sheffield park for a playdate with Paxton and Kayla. Saya and Paxton turned into crocodiles and stomp rocket engineers and 50 yard dash sprinters. Watching three year olds make conversation is such a joy. Kayla and Sachi toddled around their sisters, testing out the slide and swings. Snacks definitely level the playing field! Meggie and I caught up, and talked about full time momming and finding friends that are our people. We broke for lunch and nap time, but Paxton made sure to invite Saya over to play super heroes for the next hangout. Too sweet!

We hit up Glowfari on Monday evening and were taken away to a magical animal world. After a gondola ride, we watched the sunset in the Oakland hills. The girls couldn’t get enough of the dry ice bubble machines at each location, but I can’t upload videos here. We wandered through different ecosystems of animal lanterns and ended up at the merry-go-round for the final stop. I couldn’t believe this was only Monday!

For Valentine’s day, Auntie Jo pulled out her stampers, hearts and crafts for my little ones. Sachi was excited about Auntie Jo’s dogs but I don’t think they were reciprocating that same feeling. We toured her garden and walked down to Fenton’s for an early birthday lunch. The girls were giddy over their ice cream as a Fenton’s scoop brings smiles to all ages. We napped at Bachan’s and explored her house, including hapi coats and uchiwa fans. It felt good to open the old suitcases and unfold the colorful fabrics before their eyes.

Snow day today! Wednesday was a long car ride up to Nyack snow park but totally worth it for our first sledding adventure! The naps on the way up meant the girls were ready to don their snow suits, and march up and down the little hills in their snow boots. We were full of glee! I loved seeing their smiles and watching Saya get bolder and bolder heading up the hills. By the end of the morning, she was sledding down on her own! We had a Royal Indian lunch in Auburn and so much apple juice that no one napped on the way home. They are completely smitten with snow and I am determined to do a snow trip for 2024, if not before!

Thursday was cousins day. We met with Finn, Flora, and Ginny at Piper Park in Larkspur. Finn and Saya ran up and down the play structures, and Sachi tested her climbing skills on the various ladders. Flora is a doll! I was happy to hear updates about Caity as well as Auntie Lisa and Uncle Gary who were hit by covid and had to miss our play date.

Carrie came by after a long two day work conference. She’s a bright light and it’s always a joy to catch up and hear her most recent anecdotes. She’s a great story teller. I’m glad she got to meet the girls and see them in full effect chowing down on pasta. It was a quick visit but reminds me of how much she is doing to keep the McKelloggs connected across various states and oceans.

Friday’s theme was park day! Sheffield park in the morning and Cordinices park in the afternoon. We played stomp rockets with Roux and Diane and Dubby (Will) dropped by to give his hugs and love.

We picked up Bachan for Cordinices park with Norio and Mari. The stone slide was a bit challenging so we enjoyed snacks and a soccer ball for a bit before it was time to go home. It’s been a joy to watch my girls play with kids of my friends that I grew up with. There’s nothing like it.

Saturday, Auntie Jamie hipped us to a play at the Berkeley Children’s Theater, The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson. The four person play was bright and the music had something for the kids and adults. My favorite song was the character singing about rice, how it’s her favorite food, and how rice grains connect us all together through community, the global economy and global warming. The song reminded me of Marvin’s short where characters in the same neighborhood highlight how rice is a part of their daily lives through various family meals. After the play, we hit up the Berkeley farmers market and had a picnic on the lawn.

After naps, we made chicken, pilaf and roasted broccoli for Jamie’s Community Kitchen fridge. It’s basically a time to catch up while making meals for local people who need it. The girls busied themselves with making the sauce, and then the disco lights. Sachi watched the sunset, and we dined on tamales again. They were becoming more of a staple than my usual burritos and pho and I wasn’t mad at it!

Sunday, Mamo took the girls on a shopping spree at Target. Though ‘spree’ isn’t really the term when you have toddlers with short attention spans- the girls were ready to check out after about 26 minutes! Nevertheless, it was an early morning with no one in the store so they got their pick of sequin purses, rainbow sprinkle shoes, and sunglasses. All the birthday gift options they could want and yet they were more excited about the novelty of riding in the shopping carts. It was a great way to share a Sunday morning.

In the afternoon, Miya’s crew arrived, and there was no time lost between July and February for this bunch. They were rocking and rolling all over Bachan’s play room, and I was so happy to hug Miya and Jose after such a long time away. I’ll write a sequel post about our time with Daisuke and Emiko. Signing off for an incredible first week of Oakland Solo.