10ish Moments in January

Yes, the month of January certainly lived up to its reputation of feeling like a whole year. Oof! Still, wanted to remember a few special moments in January 2020:

1) Little Women! My mom, Janou and I went to the movies-on a school night!-and ate popcorn and peanut butter cups and escaped into Louisa May Greta’s incredible story. I thiiiiiink I’m still partial to the ’94 version, mostly for nostalgia, but I did love it. 2) Best FriendsReunited
Daycare reopened after a long Christmas break and Diego was reunited with Siana, his best friend. I pick the two up once a week, and the walk home together is a highlight. 3) Conference in Portland
I joined my colleagues in Portland for a legal services innovations conference and the content was fantastic. It was completely different from other conferences I’ve attended, and a refreshing, engaging change. 4) Katie’s book at Powell’s!

Katie released her latest book, Only Love Can Break Your Heart, in the US in early January. It was THRILLING to wander through the aisles at legendary Powell’s Bookstore and see it on the shelves. So exciting!

5) Cape Escape Reunion :)

Catherine and John flew up from San Diego for the weekend, and Christie hosted us all for dinner in her beautiful new home. We all celebrated Colin’s baby-brother-to-be and it was so fun seeing everyone together. Also, Diego’s expression in this photo, omg. 6) Hiking with Diego
We’ve taken Diego hiking a number of times, carrying him in a backpack or carrier. Recently, we did our first hike without any gear, and Diego surprised us with doing almost the whole trip on his own. It was so encouraging! I’m eager to look up more trails we can all do together. There’s certainly no shortage of them around here.
7) Early Valentines Dinner
We ended up taking advantage of Restaurant Week and the generosity of grandma babysitting and celebrated Valentine’s Day early with drinks at Tadich Grill and a phenomenal dinner at Perbacco. 8) First arcade games Isla turned four and hosted a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. I can’t believe Diego is old enough to (sort of) play basketball and skee ball-wild. 9) Post-pickup cuddles

But….let’s be real-he’s still such a baby. For the last few weeks, after I pick Diego up, he’s wanted to sit on a neighbor’s stoop and cuddle before the walk hone. I am so not complaining. Not sure how long this phase will last, but I’m totally soaking it up for now.

Less than a month until Diego turns 3!!

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The Lovely Present Participle

As I’ve mentioned, when I’m in a reading rut, I turn to Anna Quindlen. In her intro to Living Out Loud, she reflects on her deep gratitude that her life’s main tasks (“loving my husband, raising my children, being a woman,”) are couched in the present participle, “the lovely part of speech that simply goes on and on and on.”

Grammar is not my strength, but Google reminds me that a present participle is: “the form of a verb, ending in –ing, which is used in continuous tenses, e.g. in I’m thinking.”

Loving David.

Raising Diego.

Being a woman. Each task, a present participle. What a privilege to go on and on and on, doing all of that, each day.

The Living Out Loud introduction is about much more than grammar. Quindlen’s essay reminds me to take notice, live out loud, and see the life and beauty in “muddling through the middle.”

When I read the Exhale January prompt, “On Repeat,” it felt like a reminder to wake up to all that. I constantly document life’s exciting moments–our travels, holidays, weekends. But the majority of our life? The Monday-Friday daily tasks, on repeat? The meal planning, the BART-ing, the bathing-reading-please-go-to-sleep-already-ing? Very little photographic evidence.

But in all that muddling through the middle, I get to be a part of the verbs that matter most. Loving my family, growing as a mother, showing up as a friend, learning, questioning, supporting. The laundry is the love, the pickup and drop-off is the child-raising. It’s all connected. When I think about it that way, good grief, how lucky am I to experience any of it?

So, in this online scrapbook of hundreds of big memories, here’s a a few of the unseen tasks, the big and small actions that go on, and on, and on.

Pretty sure laundry is the most present of all the participles in my life. A verb, a noun, just an omnipresent force that is never complete.

Offer Choices,” says the New York Times. “Pick your Battles,” they say. The getting dressed negotiation is REAL. 

Somewhere, under this sofa, our knockoff Roomba maintains its status as the most valuable member of this household

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I might not love everything about our apartment, but living across the street from BART, and working in an office above BART, is pretty  incredible.

Work! Been trying to figure out if I want a permanent standing desk for years…seeing this photo makes me think it is time to commit

The train ride home
Grateful, grateful, grateful for another day, another bedtime, all of it, on repeat.

This post was written as part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to read the next post in this series “On Repeat.”

 

 

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Appreciating a place

One strange result of living in an outrageously expensive city-for me, at least-is this compulsive desire to love it. I mean, if I don’t absolutely love the city, why spend a small fortune to live here? Why not move somewhere less expensive, less great, sure, but certainly more accessible?

That mentality certainly motivated me to move to Stockton in 2015. I wasn’t loving Oakland, and permanently planting ourselves here was financially unrealistic, so why not try somewhere else?

Fast forward four years, we’re back in Oakland, and hopefully, here for a while. This summer, thanks to lucky timing, we moved into the apartment next door. With a little more space and a backyard, we’re feeling more settled here than we have anywhere else.

Still…I’ve been feeling a little bah humbug about Oakland lately. The city faces serious challenges, and I’ve found myself asking myself tougher questions about building a life here. A city of ever intensifying inequality. And still very, very expensive.

Maybe we should move somewhere a little…simpler? I’ve wondered. I’m not sure what that means, or where that would be, but the thought has certainly swirled in my head.

That saying about leaving a place in order to appreciate it is so true. Last week, I went to Portland for a few days for a conference. Although I haven’t considered moving to Portland, it certainly is a hub of Bay Area expats, and I was intrigued. The trip was great, I learned a lot, and I truly enjoyed getting to know Portland.

Most surprising, at the end of the very brief two night trip, I was downright giddy to get back to Oakland. Maybe it was the cold, rainy Pacific Northwest weather. Maybe it was just the end of the long-ish week. But when my BART train pulled into Rockridge Station, I couldn’t roll my suitcase down the platform fast enough. As I rode the escalator, I watched the Friday evening commuters jostling their way up College Avenue, families gathering for dinner at Cactus, couples out for drinks at Oliveto. I listened to a man play the saxaphone in front of the Rockridge sign, and thought how happy I was to be back home.

I’m mostly writing this because I know I’ll continue to get frustrated at elements of our apartment life or life in Oakland. Even the next morning, despite my euphoric return home, I was grumpy again. Annoyed at all the laundry, staring down a day of catching up on neglected chores. And then, I looked up, and saw the sun stream through the front window. Remember how excited you were when you got this apartment? Remember how giddy you were about this great light? I thought. I took this picture.

Since it is still January, the new year, new thinking mantra is still front of mind. I’m hoping to approach this year with more appreciation for our place, both our home and our city. I hope I’ll remember my excitement at the good light, the energy from the hustle-bustle of College Avenue on a Friday evening, the gratitude I feel about living in this place. I don’t have to love everything about it, but I certainly want to be aware and appreciate it all more.

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Holiday Break, Pt. 3

Last night, as Diego got ready for bed, he calmly informed me: “Christmas is over. No more Christmas jammies.” This from the child who, no exaggeration, spent the majority of his waking hours this break either sans clothes or in Christmas jammies?

He’s declaring the end of Christmas jammies?

I was relieved. Those Burt’s Bees jammies needed a break. And he’s right-it’s January 5, Christmas is definitely over.

Tomorrow, we’ll go back to work and normal life will almost-resume. Diego’s daycare is still closed for another week (!!!!) but thanks to help from both grandmas, I think we’ll be ok.

We got back from Kauai early in the morning, New Year’s Eve, and we’ve spent the last week-ish totally slowing down. A few memories from these quiet at-home days:

We rang in the New Year with our traditional homemade pasta and amatriciana sauce.

And, the next morning, kicked off 2020 with seemingly every family in the East Bay on a walk through Redwood Regional park.

It was actually super sweet seeing all the families out, everyone vowing to make good on those “opt outside” New Years resolutions. So many puffy vests and thermos’ of coffee, kids zipping by on their new Christmas scooters. And, all against the backdrop of these magnificent trees that have seen over a century of New Years come and go. It helped keep the significance of the holiday in a healthy perspective.

Diego spent much of the rest of the week thoroughly enjoying his new Christmas gifts. With the sunshine and break from rain, we’ve been getting great use out of the backyard.

Not exciting, but a huge development for me: lots of cleaning and organizing. Jotting this down for myself, as a note to try to maintain the organization throughout this year.

Way more exciting: we met Baby Ryan! We finally had a chance to go to Molly and John’s house and meet their sweet baby girl. And Diego was delighted to play with his friend Will :)

Yesterday, after enjoying one more slow weekend morning (vacation rules) we set off for a day at Point Reyes.

It was super windy and chilly at the beach, but the water was sparkly and the vistas totally clear from all the rain.

A really nice way to close out the break and kickoff the New Year! Hope to write about Kauai soon :)

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Holiday break

Greetings from a delayed flight! It’s 1:30 am, Diego is sleeping on my arm and David’s leg, and we’ve been sitting on the tarmac for over an hour. But! It’s all ok. We’re home from a pretty incredible family trip to Kauai! Excited to write all about that, but for now, thought I would jot down some memories of out holiday break pre-Kauai.

I’m taking a good chunk of time off this holiday, so we had almost a week together at home before our Christmas Day flight to Hawaii.

Saba and Abu stayed with us for a night en route to their big trip. They spent several days in Oahu and Maui before we met up with them in Kauai. It was their first time visitor Hawaii, and it was so exciting to drop them off at the airport and see them on their journey!

I kind of dropped the ball on orchestrating Christmas memories (Diego is still so little!) but we did spend an afternoon decorating the TJ’s Gingerbread House. He actually brought it up this afternoon, a week later, so I guess there was some memory making going on :)

When Ali Wong announced her Milk and Money tour earlier this winter, I immediately bought tickets. The show date finally arrived just before Christmas! Stephanie and I got dinner in SF before the show, which was INCREDIBLE.

We celebrated Christmas in Stockton with David’s family. We had an incredible roast beef dinner with David’s dad and family and I loved seeing Diego in front of the beautiful tree.

The next night, Christmas Eve, Silvia made a phenomenal prime rib and we all celebrated together with a Secret Santa and White Elephant gift exchange at David’s aunt’s house. The next morning, we woke up super early for the flight to Kauai!

And now, we’re back in Oakland. Doors to the plane just opened! Hello, New Year’s Eve :)

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