HEAT WAVE

We’re in the middle of a (punishing) heat wave around here. We’re talking temperatures of 111°! Surprisingly, I’m not totally losing my mind, and trying to take advantage of the quiet days and soak up time with Diego. I’m back at work in two weeks, so I’m really really trying to enjoy these moments. Here’s what we’ve been up to recently:


Lots and lots of hanging out. It’s so much more fun now that Diego can smile and interact and he’s becoming more of his own little person.


First ball pit! Mira has an AWESOME first birthday party and and it was so special to see everyone together. The five of them in the ball pit together lasted all of 3.5 seconds. 


Zoo day :) The Sacramento Zoo is sort-of a central location for the three of us, and we took advantage of the cooler weather last week to check it out. I honestly didn’t expect much from the zoo, but it was pretty great! I was mostly looking forward to catching up with Christie and Molly, which was absolutely wonderful.


Despite his expression, I think Diego enjoyed it? I LOVED seeing the giraffes.



David’s colleague Erik is an incredible photographer and he kindly came over a few weeks ago to take some family photos – I love them.


David’s been barbecuing more, and last week he made an excellent carne asada. Looking forward to more grilling once the weather cools down a bit.


We planned an impromptu trip to Pinecrest last weekend. We were gone for just 24 hours, but it still felt so nice to get outside and relax. Hope to write more about the trip soon!


Father’s Day! David rang in Father’s Day with an early morning alarm to meet an HVAC specialist. We returned from Pinecrest refreshed and rejuvenated-to a house with a broken AC system. Oof. Thankfully, it was quickly fixed and we were able to enjoy the rest of the day with David’s family, cooling off in the pool.

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Three months!

Monday marked three months of Diego Antonio!


Took a few photos Monday morning before heading out to meet up with Christie and Molly (+ babies) at the ZOO!


This month, the weather got warmer and Diego (and I) broke out of the sleepy newborn haze and he became more of a baby. Everything everyone says about baby smiles? True times a million. It’s just amazing. Diego also started making more noises, little drawn out coos and calls, and I love hearing his voice.


It’s been a treat to get out more and see more friends, now that we’re (slightly) more comfortable navigating this whole life with baby thing. A few of Diego’s firsts this month:

First act of civic engagement: Diego attended the State of the City address, and quietly listened to the Mayor’s excellent remarks.

First celebrity sighting: MC Hammer! Ha. At the State of the City :)

First National Park: Muir Woods for my dad’s birthday 

First BART trip: Rockridge to Embarcadero-and back!

First “wild” animal: The llamas at Redwood Regional on Mother’s Day

First art show: The Sycamore Social 


First museum: The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive…but we only checked out the gift shop. Museum looks AWESOME and I would love to return. 

First hotel: The Omni in SF (sorry kid, don’t get used to that!)

First Food Festival: The Jewish Food Festival at Temple Israel

First concert in the Park: The Wednesday night Victory Park summer concert

First hail storm: We had a crazy summer storm on Sunday. So rare in Califoenia, but it reminded me of DC-thunder, lightening, the whole thing.

While it’s AWESOME introducing Diego to all this, I’m most grateful for the hours and hours of quiet time baby time. The mornings and afternoons with Diego napping on me, or walking around the house, Diego cocooned in the Bjorn, just content and cozy together-it’s been incredibly special. Incredibly thankful for this time together and this sweet, three month old baby :)

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Allora!

Happy Thursday! Clearing out photos on my phone and wanted to remember some moments from the last few weeks:


Diego and Andie! Jon and Melissa kindly came by for the day with tons of food, cake and snacks and brought sweet Andie. Andie is gentler than a quiet cat, and even though Diego looks terrified, I think the baby-dog meeting went well.

Diego’s first art show! The Sycamore held their summer social hour a few weeks ago, featuring impressive works by a local artist. 


Today was quite cool (and it even rained last night) but we’ve also started experiencing some brutal Central Valley summer days. The silver lining? Lots of naps in the air conditioning. AND time to watch Master of None. We just finished Season 2 last night. Can’t stop daydreaming about Italy. This announcement makes trip planning even more tempting…andiamo!



After the recent heat wave, we were able to enjoy a beautiful, cool evening at the Lodi farmer’s market.

One of several Bruin baby meetings :) Last week, on the way to Oakland, I stopped by Christie’s to meet sweet baby Colin. Colin is basically Diego’s twin: they were born less than 5 hours apart! Different birthdays, as Diego arrived late at night on the 12th and Colin early in the morning on the 13th, but still. And here they are holding hands!


Introducing Diego to my wonderful colleagues! It was pretty awesome to bring Diego to the office and see everyone after several months away. Feeling very grateful to work for such a supportive organization :)

While David attended a conference in Berkeley, Diego and I spent the day exploring. After a salad at Sweetgreen (will Chop’t ever move to California??) we checked out the new BAMPFA. Gorgeous architecture and excellent gift shop. That’s as far as we got, as the main objective for the day was…

Baby’s first BART ride. I wanted to try it out on a day where we didn’t have to be anywhere, in case it took a while or I got overwhelmed. Diego was great! We rode from Rockridge to Embarcadero, he took it all in, wide eyed and (fairly) calm.

The BEST part was meeting up with Janou for a walk. So immensely happy that she’s back in California-HOORAY!!!!!


At home happy hour Friday evening, feat. delicious Cowgirl Creamery’s delicious Mt Tam cheese and Chesterfield Cellars’ chardonnay.


Third Bruin baby meeting of the week! On Saturday, we drove to Rocklin to see Eric, Molly and darling Rose. 14 years ago, days after moving in to the dorms, Molly and I met on Bruin Walk and became fast friends. Pretty special/unreal to see the babies together.

On Sunday, Temple Israel hosted their 48th annual Jewish Food Festival. We brunched on lox and bagels and stocked up at the bake sale.

We’ve had some long days this week…

But he is pretty adorable…

And pretty laid back about checking out new things. Last night, we packed a picnic and walked to Victory Park for the first night of their summer concert series.

And that’s the last few weeks around here! Happy almost weekend :)

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Five star health care inequality

As the Senate barrels forward with an attempt to cut our health care so rich people can get a tax cut, a new health care issue got my blood boiling this weekend: uber concierge medicine. This article, on the cover of the Sunday business section, enlightened me on a new inequality fronteir.  The story profiles the rising prevalence of private health care managers in the Bay Area.  These health firms for the ultra-wealthy command $40-80,000 a year in fees and ensure their clients have five-star health care experiences (i.e. shorter wait times for specialists, better referrals, coordinated services).

Can’t help but wonder when this story originated, but reading it at a time when Congress wants to take away health care from 23 million Americans (or, if they’re lucky, just increase their premiums by 800%), was extremely unsettling.

While I’ve always been concerned about wealth and income inequality, the move to Stockton makes me hyper-aware of the growing disconnect between the wealthy and poor.  (I can’t include the middle class in that sentence, because sadly, it seems as though the middle class disappearing. It terrifies me to say that, but living in the Central Valley and working in the Bay Area, I primarily observe examples of poverty and wealth–no real signs of a growing middle class in Northern California).  Anyway, one area of hope for equity, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, was health care.

With the ACA, in states that expanded Medicaid, the health benefits protection helped many more people get access to essential coverage.  As a Kaiser member, observing patients of all socio-economic levels accessing health services always gave me a bit of hope for the future.  In the last two years, between David’s pneumonia hospitalization, my miscarriage, pregnancy and delivery, I’ve spent time in Kaiser health centers in Oakland, Modesto, Walnut Creek and Stockton. These cities vary significantly in economic, education and health outcomes.  And yet, while economic disparity grows stronger between the coastal and inland cities, the ACA’s massive coverage improvements provided hope for a narrowing health outcome gap.  In my purely anecdotal experience, the quality of care and dignity of service in Walnut Creek was the same as Stockton, or any of the other cities. I can find few other public services examples where that is the case, and I attribute that to the ACA’s role in lifting standards and quality for all.

Apparently, feeling hopeful after observing waiting rooms of diverse patients is not a universal reaction.  From the article:

“Whenever I bump into a bleeding-heart liberal, which I am, I mention that schools, housing and food are all tiered systems,” he said. “But health care is an island of socialism in a system of tiered capitalism? Tell me how that works.”

Dr. Howard Maron, who founded MD Squared, is similarly candid about the new reality of ultra-elite medical care.

“In my old waiting room in Seattle, the C.E.O. of a company might be sitting next to a custodian from that company,” he recalled. “While I admired that egalitarian aspect of medicine, it started to appear somewhat odd.”

As we “bleeding-heart liberals” lament growing political and ideological polarization, we have to acknowledge it will only get worse if health care becomes even more tiered. (Should clarify, for all the ACA’s promise and potential, we are still far, far from an equitable health system. But the law was a step in the right direction).  The tiered system in public schools, neighborhoods, parks, transit, and more ensure the company CEO never brushes up against the company custodian.  And when that CEO never interacts with the custodian, what does she know of his experience? How will she ever favor policies that help him if she never sees him? It’s the classic Crash opening quote conundrum.

I recognize that viewing a hospital waiting room as a de facto town square, a public center where people of all backgrounds interact, is a deeply depressing statement. But in reality, what else is left? And if wealthy liberals want to take that away (to be clear, the article profiled wealthy Northern Californians; it’s not Texas oil tycoons normalizing this type of income separation, but our “liberal” neighbors) how can we possibly be surprised when Congress wants to barter away health care protections to gain tax cuts?

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Lee’s birthday weekend!

Wednesday was my my dad’s birthday! Happy Birthday, Dad! Feeling very grateful for the weekend we spent together celebrating.  Knowing this was a special birthday and we would all want to be together, my mom generously invited us to an awesome weekend in San Francisco.  We spent two nights in the city, enjoying good restaurants, celebrating Dad and seeing friends.  Some photos from the trip:
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It only took two false starts and one-almost-forgotten piece of luggage to get the three of us and allllllll the baby stuff in the car and on the road.  We met up with my parents at the hotel and headed straight to lunch at Wayfare Tavern. It was around the corner from our hotel and I’ve always wanted to try the fried chicken (so good!).

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Ha! We look like two kids whose parents let them try a sip of beer at Thanksgiving. My mule was refreshing, but David’s Tavern Sour was incredible.

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A special moment: David showing Diego the Transamerica Pyramid.  He fell in love with the building as a kid, and credits it for sparking his interest in cities.

Although we were celebrating my dad, my parents kindly offered to watch Diego Saturday night so we could go out (hooray for grandparents!!).  On the way to dinner, David and I realized that while we had been out a few times without Diego, this would be our first dinner out together.  We made a reservation for Le Colonial and got a table on the pretty patio. I LOVE the tile floor.

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After watching the SF episode of The Layover, I’ve been SO curious to check out the Tonga Room.  We never made it when we lived in Oakland and I was eager to check it out.

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What a TRIP.  The hourly rain, the band in the pool, and the over-the-top kitschy absurdity of it all was totally charming.  AND we got to hang out with Mr. Bress and Orit!

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AND, it being Memorial Day Weekend, it was only fitting to run into a bunch of (much, much, younger) former tour guides while dancing to Sweet Caroline.


After the late (for us) night, we were all up bright and early the next morning for a walk through Muir Woods. Diego’s first national park!

In my growing collection of “David walking with stroller” photos, the backdrop of this one is my favorite. 

After the good walk, my dad recommended Mill Valley for lunch. It was a delightfully, charming surprise! And lunch at Kitchen Sunnyside was just right.


That evening, we all got dressed up for the main event: Dad’s birthday dinner! COULD NOT HANDLE this outfit. Such a dapper little Diego!


I think Thanksgiving was the last time we were all together for dinner. My heart felt so grateful and happy to be gathered at a table with my favorite people, toasting to my dad. He deserves to be celebrated every weekend. Very, very thankful we got to thank him together on this special weekend.


And dinner at Chaya was exceptional. Such a treat!

In a fortuitous twist of events, Taryn and Jenna happened to be in the Bay Area for the weekend.  We originally planned on picnicking at Dolores on Monday morning, but facing a chilly morning, we opted for the Ferry Building instead. Can’t describe how special it was to meet my best friend’s amazing wife AND introduce them to Diego!

14 years of friendship!!


Kicking off a week of Diego and baby meetings, we all got to meet sweet baby William! Molly, John and sweet Sutter joined us and we got to admire their charming baby boy. Baby Bruins!!


After Gotts for burgers and milkshakes, it was time to head back home. So thankful for the weekend of food, friends, the city, and most of all, celebrating Lee!!!

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