Oakland, USA San Diego, USA

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.

Oakland, USA Renton, Washington

West Coast Tour

Saya’s first longhaul flight to the West Coast was a dream. Maybe she’s got Bay Area chill in her genes? It tickles me to imagine this being the reason she took to the BA baby seat, and why she played quietly for hours sitting between us.

I’m organizing our September tour into three buckets:

  1. Family love in Cali with Corey
  2. Family love in Washington
  3. Friend love back in Cali

Family love in Cali with Corey

Saya met SO many people on this trip. On that first Sunday, Saya met her Bachan for the first time. We gathered at Brian, Meggie, and Paxton’s house with Auntie Marlene and Gary to kick off our West Coast tour. How nice to see the next generation of Kozono/Tonai/Kawakami/Forrest babies meet. Paxton and Saya will be in the same grade once they start school just like Brian and me.

There was a lunch time feast to welcome Saya into the Nishi/Diamant Clan on the following Monday. Barbara (Auntie Grandma), Uncle Corey, Auntie Er, and Takeo hung out in the garden with home grown tomatoes, and then the kitchen playing with ‘honey bears’.

On Tuesday, Uncle Roy, Auntie Marian, and Kristi visited with us at Auntie Jo’s house. Saya was showered with love, clothing and books from her Fresno family. Aburaya lunch was a hit for Auntie Jo’s birthday, and though Kristi had to get back for work the next day, we were glad for their overnight visit.

Uncle Jim swung by Grandad’s next. He said he wanted to make sure to give her a little squeeze before flying out that morning. Auntie Lisa and Uncle Gary also cuddled with Saya on a relaxed afternoon on the back patio.

Grandad and Mamo entertained my day trip to UC Berkeley so that we could show Saya some of the campus, including the Faculty Club where we married a few years prior. We took some family portraits with our new baby bear cub. Then, Auntie Jamie, and Matt, were reunited with Saya-bear to celebrate Mamo’s birthday.

Family love in Washington

Bachan, Auntie Jo, Saya and I flew to Washington while Corey made the journey back to Londontown. We landed in Renton and were whisked away to cheer on Daisuke in his first futbol match. Jose was coaching, too, so it was a family affair!

On Saturday, Miya and Jose hosted a mega-birthday party for Emiko, Auntie Jo, and Livingston- the September babies! My heart was soaring when Tracy’s family, and Auntie Bev joined as well. Cousins were running around one another, and at times, into one another with all the excitement and happiness this day brought.

Arts and crafts with Auntie Jo and Bachan was a daily activity for Daisuke. Miya’s kitchen was flowing like the Streganona cauldron even with all the kids circling her knees. And Emiko continued to be skeptical of her new cousin who might be usurping her position as the baby girl!

On one of the days, we ventured to visit Eula at Auntie Bev’s house so the kids could have a play date outside of Miya’s house. Another evening, Saya was honored with a special bathtime with her Aunties. I did my best not to turn into a sobbing mess when Daisuke held his cousin for the first time. Each day of this trip made me implore someone to invent teleportation so that the next generation could be together 300+ days of the year!

Friend love back in Cali

Back in the Bay, Ja-Yung caught us at the cafe down the block from my mom’s house. Norio and Liz came by my dad’s house for a quick pre-bedtime cuddle, and then the SL crew spent an afternoon showering Saya with lots of love and attention.

I don’t think I quite understood how important babies are in our lives until this trip. I thought I couldn’t stop staring at Saya because she is my own daughter, but each person she met was also so careful and curious in their own way. Babies bring a fresh hope to our days, and our lives, and we can’t help but have slight sense of awe about them.

Oakland, USA

LonSum 3: I’m going going back back to Cali Cali

I’ve got to begin the month of August with some MAJOR shoutouts!

First: Congratulations to all of my parents for starting their retirement this summer!!!  I’m very, very excited for you, and I look forward to hearing about your adventures in this new chapter.

Oakland, USA

I love you Oakland!