Monthly Archives: December 2016

Holiday break :)

We’re wrapping up this holiday vacation and I’m loving every moment of family time and rest. It’s a rainy morning, so thought I would jot down some happy memories from the first half of vacation:


Writing this to remember next year: when waffling between taking a few days off before Christmas or saving the vacation days: TAKE THE DAYS. I’m really grateful I was able to take Thursday and Friday off (thanks, vacation policy!). Between my post election low-grade depression, the unrelenting winter cold/virus that hit our office, and general pregnancy sleepiness, it was particularly helpful to have a bit more time this year.

I mostly took care of overdue errands on Thursday (doctor, car check up, Christmas shopping), but Thursday night we went out for our traditional Christmas burgers and milkshakes at Bob’s on the Marina. Delicious! 


Photo from Silvia

After a cozy brunch and afternoon with Adri in Benencia, David made a pot of rich Cacio e pepe for dinner. I took over the living room to wrap up presents (a day early-that never happens) and watched one of my all-time favorite holiday movies.


We hosted Christmas Eve dinner for the fist time!

Photo from Silvia

David made an incredible prime rib and sides and we opened presents after dinner. It’s been years since we hosted Thanksgiving dinners and I forgot how tiring hosting a holiday dinner is! And I didn’t even cook! Eek. Grateful we could all be together.

David, Abuelita and Silvia :)

This was the first Christmas Eve we’ve ever spent in our own home. We left the tree lights on overnight and a plate of cookies by the fireplace…it just felt right.


It was kind of neat to wake up, at home, on Christmas morning. And it was CHILLY! We drove over to David’s dad’s house and opened presents with the family. His family hosted an incredible breakfast buffet, with Belgian waffles-my favorite. 

David and his new diaper bag backpack-getting ready :)

Soon it was time for our other holiday tradition: midday flight to Irvine!

Thankfully, it’s an easy, short flight and my parents live super close to the airport. 3 1/2 hours later, we gathered around Janou’s gorgeous appetizers, sinking in to a festive afternoon.

After Christmas crackers and Mom’s delicious prime rib and scalloped potatoes, we curled up by the fireplace and Katie and Kevin came over for dessert. I can’t adequately articulate how special it was to all be together, in one place, listening to Katie and Janou’s stories of their exiting adventures, soaking up the Christmas hygge spirit. So special!


After sleeping in (hooray!!!), David and I decided to try for the Beachcomber for lunch. It’s always such a kick seeing the beautifully decorated tree sitting on the  beach.

David’s drink, the Beachcomber, couldn’t have been more ridiculous and he LOVED it. Noting to try making it in the future: Cherry Cruzan Rum, Svedka Lemonade, and Cranberry Juice.

That night we drove to Manhattan Beach for dinner with some of my UCLA favorites at Tin Roof Bistro. It definitely wasn’t enough time to fully catch up but a treat briefly be together.


Engagement celebrations!!!!! Max’s family graciously hosted an engagement lunch at True Food Kitchen to celebrate Janou and Max. It was so special to kick off their wedding celebrations together and get to know Max’s family. Can’t wait for the wedding!!!

After lunch, Janou, David and I drove to UCLA. The sun was beginning to set and we just marveled at the beautiful campus.

We couldn’t resist checking out our ceremony location and taking some photos…looking quite different now than in July 2014!

And of course, some Diddy Riese before heading home :)


More quiet and lounging and then a special Christmas lunch! I took my dad to lunch at the Disneyland Grand Californian Hotel, flipping a tradition from my childhood, when he used to take me out for special Disneyland days.

The hotel was gorgeous and spectacularly decorated for the holidays. I loved having the afternoon to catch up with my dad. Very special.

That night, over latkas and salad, we all celebrated Hannukah together.


Jen Tan and I had plans to hang out and when she mentioned Salt and Straw in Venice, our plans were SET.

Despite the lines and hype it’s surprisingly not overrated-the ice cream is that good. After an appetizer of salted caramel ice cream, we enjoyed a delicious lunch at Gjelina. I peppered Jen with about 800 pregnancy and baby questions and she patiently reassured me about all of it. So grateful for my wise and expert friends.

Later that evening, I met up with the UCLA favorites at Belmont Shore in Long Beach. It was especially nice to have more time to catch up some more.


One last morning of sleeping in and laziness in Irvine. It was rainy and cozy, and Janou’s pumpkin pancakes were a delicious way to greet the day. After lounging, we got our act together and ventured out for wedding dress shopping!

We checked out a few spots and got a better idea of the different types of dress styles. And, of course, Janou makes every dress look stunning :)


And now, it’s the last day of 2016! After a super early flight this morning, I took a very long winter’s nap. And now, we’re off to San Jose to greet the New Year with some of our best friends. Very grateful for this restful holiday break and the time with family and friends :)

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Orchestrator of Memories

I just heard the sweetest phrase and I don’t want to forget it. Adri is visiting CA for her holiday and we met up for breakfast in Benecia. After a hearty, cozy breakfast at First Street Cafe (delicious buttery scones), we stopped by her parent’s house and chatted with her mom over tea.

I said something about soaking up this holiday, and being conscious of my independence, aware that this time next year, there’ll be a little baby calling the shots.

“Oh yes, and then the holidays change, and it’s wonderful,” Maria said.  “You become the orchestrator of memories. And they hold on to and remember everything!”

Reading about and observing parenthood, I’m aware of the immense responsibility, but I’ve never thought of the responsibility to shape memories. I loved her description-orchestrator of memories. Such a beautiful thought!

Anyway, that made me smile. Happy holiday break!!!!

Christmas…2010? Love this photo of the six of us. Janou and Katie are my favorite co-conspirators in childhood memory making :) Can’t wait to be together soon!

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Filed under Holiday, Observations, Pregnancy

Central Coast mini-vacation

Last month, just before Thanksgiving, David and I spent a few days on the Central Coast.  I love Thanksgiving vacations because work is generally quieter that week, making it much easier to quickly relax and enjoy. And it was very relaxing and beautiful.

I worked from home on Monday, and after work, we hit the 5, bound for Cambria. Usually we stop at In-N-Out, but the hotel night came with dinner, so we pushed on to make a later reservation.

When I found out I was pregnant, I’m embarrassed to say my first instinct wasn’t to research baby books, but it was to research and plan a mini-vacation (a babymoon, I guess).  When you’re trying to get pregnant, it’s hard to make travel plans because you have no idea if/when you’ll be mobile. So, it was nice to have some idea of the timeline and begin planning some fun trips. I immediately ruled out anything international, primarily for cost, and I was so exhausted (first trimester) that the thought of a long flight lacked any appeal. All I wanted to do was 1) be near an ocean or pool, 2) not feel pressured to sight see, and 3) sleep, sleep, sleep in a nice hotel. (Again, first trimester). I booked and cancelled hotels in Sedona and San Diego before realizing-hello! Santa Barbara! We loved our honeymoon, we could combine it with our travel to Irvine for Thanksgiving, and it offered everything I wanted.

SB felt a bit far for a post-work drive and I found a great deal for a hotel in Cambria, so we settled on that for the first night.

We stayed at the Cambria Pines Lodge and it was…interesting. The price was right, the grounds were gorgeous, and it included a surprisingly delicious dinner at the restaurant. So no real complaints, but it just wasn’t somewhere I would recommend as a destination-though great for a night while traveling through the coast.

After breakfast, we drove to Cayucos and picked up some super sweet Brown Butter Cookies before driving down to Santa Barbara.

We stopped at The Nook for lunch and I immediately felt that sense of-ahhh, yes, we’re in Southern California. Slightly warmer weather, and just a hint of an ocean breeze. The bar had an incredible selection of beer on tap and a huge fridge with imported bottles.  

With such happy memories of the Fess Parker Santa Barbara, we decided to stay there the next two nights.

Our room faced the ocean (hooray!!) and I camped out on the balcony for much of the next two days, reading Commonwealth.

Later that night, we walked to The Lark for dinner. By far, my favorite meal of the trip. Wish I had the skills and discretion to effectively take a photo of the restaurant, but I don’t, so I’ll just have to remember it. It’s a beautiful wood beamed, brick walled, room and the food matches the stunning decor. A very nice, leaisurly, smallish plates dinner.

The next day, we walked around State Street for a bit and checked out Jeannine’s for brunch. I wondered if it served as the inspiration for Meryl Streep’s bakery in It’s Complicated. It’s thoughtfully decorated, bursting with buttery croissants and pastries, and clearly has a cult following. I would go back, but not order as much. David and I can certainly eat but the portions were large even for us (which is saying a lot).

Later that afternoon, I splurged on a prenatal massage at the hotel. It was really nice. The massage therapist was also a doula, and she placed my hand on my belly at the end of the massage, to rest with the baby. I don’t know why, but I just thought it was so sweet!

It was a bit too cold to fully swim, but I dropped my toes in the water to relax. The rest of the trip was nice and quiet: naps and reading.

Craving cheesy pasta, we decided on Trattoria Vitoria for dinner. Being the night before Thanksgiving, it was packed with families and had a cozy, classic Italian atmosphere. 

The next morning, we watched the Macy’s parade over room service breakfast (vacation is the best). It was nice to be in the US for Thanksgiving! The dance performances in the parade were amazing. Later, I took a long walk along the beach, and it was wonderful seeing all the families out, biking and walking along the water before their Thanksgiving dinners. Once again, I felt very grateful for the jaw dropping natural beauty of the California coast.

The best part was saying goodbye to vacation only to turnaround and head to Irvine for Thanskgiving dinner. This is this last big getaway David and I will take, just the two of us, for a while, and I’m so thankful we got to spend some time soaking up some sun and quiet time such a pretty place.

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Filed under Marriage, Travel

Weekend before Christmas 

Happy Monday! Last Monday commute to work before holiday vacation.  And it is chilly. The temperatures dropped this weekend and yesterday we woke up to a frosted front lawn!

This morning, David had to de-ice the front windshield before dropping me off at the train-it was in the high 20s last night. Not remarkable for most of the country, but cold for California.

Looking forward to a shorter work week and very excited for a holiday break. Friday night, we made grilled cheese and tomato soup and watched the Minimalism documentary. Overall, worth watching-good, but not great.  Pros: the insight on the historic/economic drivers behind compulsive consumerism, reflections on the accumulation addiction being about more than just stuff (ie our addiction to apps and media), and thoughtful interviews with economists, scientists, psychologists and minimalists. Also, not terribly preachy, more about telling a story.  Cons: As much as it’s about Minimalism, it’s also a behind-the-scenes look at the Minimalist’s first book tour, which was interesting for a few minutes, and then super repetitive. Also, there’s an element of economic privilege wrapped up in minimalism preaching that makes me uncomfortable and hesitant about the whole thing. For example, one clip of horrendous Black Friday shopping mayhem is enough to point out the “onward march of consumerism”-but they show the footage over and over and over again. It made me think of this this article and the voyeuristic judgment of watching those scenes.

Anyway, that was Friday night!

Saturday morning, we drove into SF-I went to Heather’s annual cookie party, David got burritos with Budak :)  Heather and Christina hosted and it was so nice to be together. After a cozy afternoon of delicious tortilla soup and gingerbread cookies, we drove down to San Jose for Jon and Melissa’s holiday housewarming.

They recently bought a gorgeous home and it was a very festive evening! The best part of this photo was watching Zac try to get Isla to look at the camera. She is SO CUTE. This little group is literally sprawled out allllll over the entire Northern California region (and Hawaii!) and it is extra special to all be together.

Yesterday, after pancakes for breakfast, we ran our Sunday errands, cleaned, and I napped before having our neighbors over for dinner. Sleep has not been great the last week (eek! I’m hoping it gets a bit better before it gets a lot worse!) so it was nice to take it easy. For years, David’s been making a delicious pork ragu dinner, and only yesterday, while reading over his shoulder (bad habit) did I  realize its a DALS recipe.  It really does make for a great wintry Sunday dinner.

Hoping to get a lot done this week to be able to relax over the holidays!

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Closing out the second trimester

Happy Wednesday! Realizing I haven’t really documented thoughts on this whole pregnancy thing and it’s already December! I’m 27 weeks along:


(This photo is from a month ago-feeling-and looking-quite a bit larger now).

Overall, its kind of weird to reflect on pregnancy as it’s a pretty inactive process (right now). With the bulk of the effort hyper concentrated at the end (childbirth-[eeek!!]), right now, there isn’t that much to do. Of course, we’ll have to get the house ready, we’re taking classes and reading books, and I hope to do some food prep for post-baby, but it all feels a bit slow and steady.  Which is kind of mind boggling when I think of what we’re preparing for: birthing a CHILD and then raising a CHILD.  The intensity and effort of that responsibility sounds monumentally overwhelming.  But how much can we do to prepare for that now?

Two looming prep pieces I do need to figure out: daycare and a leave plan. Finding a daycare is proving to be more difficult than anticipated. As far as a leave plan, I’m grateful my work has agreed to the time I requested to take off. Now, I need to draft out a coverage plan for while I’m out. 

Other than that, trying to focus on keeping calm and present during this stage. Started to feel really connected at the 21 week ultrasound when we spent a long time looking at the baby on the screen and he started kicking. It helped me imagine him more clearly and physically feeling him is a delight.  During the ultrasound, the tech commented on how much he was kicking, and was surprised I hadn’t really noticed. I’m more in-tune with it now, and love feeling all the little movement. 

I try to talk to him at night before I go to sleep, though most of the time it just turns into a conversation with David. We have the same chat over and over: whoa, can you believe we’re going to be parents? That there’s going to be a third little person here? What is this going to be like? 

It’s especially nice to have this very physical change to remind me how grateful I am to be pregnant. I’m ever aware of the different and often difficult paths to motherhood-and motherhood in all forms-and I’m thankful for this particular journey.

Not to say I’m free from worry and anxiety. And not to blame everything on the President Elect (though I would like to) by my general worry has dramatically increased since November 8. Probably a combination of the global reality and pregnancy hormone changes.

So now, making more of conscious effort to relax. Life has slowed down a lot the last few weeks and I imagine it’ll stay pretty quiet. No more big travel plans, and we’re generally staying closer to home on the weekends. I’ve been reading about different baby sleep patterns and the importance of evening rituals (it seems like a lot of people do the whole book, bath, bottle/nurse, bed).  And suddenly I thought-hello! Why am I not doing this right now?? So, in an effort to sleep train myself (ha) I’ve gotten really into lighting a candles, heating up a bag of rice and lavender to soothe my back, drinking tea, and a bath. It’s really nice!

As far as the other pregnancy changes-sleep, food, etc.-nothing terribly remarkable. Sleep is ok….lots of tossing and turning and I’ll randomly wake up from hip pains. And I’m only getting bigger! Food cravings-both in quantity and type-come and go. Definitely eating and craving more sweets than pre-pregnancy, particularly of the ice cream variety. Some days it seems I eat every half hour and others I feel pretty normal. Thankfully, no food aversions, other than bacon and avocados. With the holidays, I’m definitely craving a big glass of Pinot Noir or a crisp Mule. As Sarah Heppolah says, “what nobody tells you about all the holiday spirit is how much booze it requires.” (And yes, I’m very aware that pregnancy is temporary, joyful and so incredibly worth it).

Think that’s about it! Very grateful for this little, growing baby.


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