Summer travel

I’m at the airport, waiting to board a flight-my first non-work solo flight since Diego was born. I’m flying to Dallas for very brief (less than 36 hours!) girls weekend with Kelleen and Katie. I’m so excited.

A week ago, exactly, we were at the airport in Maui, gearing up for our long, long post-vacation flight home.

Diego had a rough week in Maui-a cold, teething, heat rashes-but was surprisingly chipper at the airport. He crawled all over the terminal, giddy at all the open space after a week in a hotel. I naively assumed his good mood indicated an easy flight ahead.

Ohhh was I wrong.

I felt every minute of that 4 hour, 40 minute flight. Once we (finally) arrived in Oakland, David and I laughed at the absurdity of all of it: Diego, hardly sleeping, the food service running out just before our row, the fifteen lap babies squished into the back few rows-at least one (including ours) screaming, the poor but remarkably kind stranger who got stuck in our row, reassuring us of our “great parenting!” as we slowly fell apart.

A week later, I feel like we’re still recovering from the trip. I admit, I was entirely too confident about our capacity to travel as a family. The week in Maui (in Maui!!) was far more exhausting than I anticipated. It’s a weird thing to be in such a magical haven for restoration, staring at sparkly, clear-blue water, and think, ughhhh….I’m so drained.

When we got home, I felt kind of rattled by the experience. If we can’t hack it as a family in Maui-at a gorgeous resort-will we ever travel as a family? Of course, some of it was (hopefully) unique to this experience: hopefully Diego won’t cut a molar on future trips, hopefully we won’t all get hit by viral bugs-but maybe traveling with kids is way more tiring than I thought? And if that’s the case, is it even worth it?

All week, David and I joked that here on out: no big family trips. One hour drive or less. But I can already feel that creeping wanderlust in the back of my head saying, noooo….we can do this! We have to keep traveling. It practically our responsibility as parents.

Realistically, we probably don’t need (and can’t afford) to do another big trip like this for several years. Diego won’t remember it anyway. But when he’s older…I hope we re-commit to travel (and to exposing him to places beyond beach resorts).

I’m thinking of all of this at an airport, on a day when travel thoughts took front of mind. The first thing I saw this morning was news of Anthony Bourdain’s death. His loss hit me in an unfamiliar way. I generally think about celebrity deaths when they happen, or come up in conversation. They rarely provoke a sense of, wow, but my life wouldn’t be the same without that person. But it really wouldn’t.

When we went to Dublin, our bus ride from the airport was diverted due to protests. We spotted a restaurant we recognized from Bourdain’s No Reservations, and jumped off the bus to check it out. It was a highlight of the trip. In Istanbul, I remember following David, as he navigated us through the crowded madness of Taksim Square, on a search for Durumzade, another (incredible) Bourdain find.

It’s been interesting reading about his impact on so many. He wasn’t preaching anything revolutionary-just be curious. But it certainly hit a nerve, and is a perspective I’ll miss:

“If I am an advocate for anything, it is to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. Walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food. It’s a plus for everybody.

Anyway, thinking about all of this as the season of summer travel begins. Maybe it’s the time distance from the vacation, maybe it’s all the reading about adventure, but it certainly wants to make me reconsider our travel hesitation. Maybe. But only if we get Diego a seat. Definitely don’t want to do any more long haul flights with a lap baby!

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Congratulations, Mom :)

Thursday was a big day: the last day of school for most students, and for my mom, her REAL last day of school. As of Friday morning, she’s officially retired!!!

After three decades, thousands of students, and remarkable results year after year, I’m so happy she’s starting a new chapter. A few weeks ago, Diego, my dad and I surprised her in her classroom. I expected it would be a brief stop-and-chat, imagining she would be busy with students and a little tired from the end of the week.

I was so wrong.

She was bursting with energy, thrilled to introduce Diego to all her students, colleagues and friends. I loved meeting her friends, who all shared their excitement for her, and how much they’ll miss her passion, energy, and the impact she’s had on the school.

And the students! They were so engaged, so curious, and thoughtful in their questions. As Diego is far from school age, I think the last time I was at a middle school was years ago, visiting my mom. Reading the news, I’m constantly concerned about the state of young people. The media portrays middle school students in terrifying and depressing stories, and it’s easy to worry about the future.

It was incredibly inspiring to catch a glimpse at school of students who seem to have a very bright future. The collective energy of the teachers and students restored my faith that things are going to be ok.

My mom is certainly a part of that positive momentum. Growing up, watching her wake before dawn, often come home after dark, spend many weekends late in the night grading-and this is just the outside the classroom effort I saw!-I know moving the needle toward positive change was not easy and took a monumental effort.

How she managed to do all of that, year after year, and with tremendous results (her students grew by leaps and bounds) AND provide such unbelievable attention and love to Janou and me, I have no idea. I truly don’t. In my brief time as a mother, whenever I’m struggling with navigating this whole work-motherhood-life thing (all the time), I always think of my mom and her incredible effort for inspiration.

Mom, I’m thrilled for you and so impressed by your career. I love you and I’m SO excited for this new step. Congratulations!!

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It’s been a while!

We’re leaving for our summer vacation tomorrow-our first family vacation!—and I’m so excited and full of exclamation marks I can’t sleep. So, just taking a moment to jot down some spring memories.

Over the last month-ish, we….

Went on a date! David had a conference in SF that lined up perfectly with my parent’s visit = a trip to the city! It was really nice to enjoy a long dinner and relax a little, knowing Diego was happily playing with his grandparents.

Visited the zoo :) The last time this trio went to the zoo, they were all so tiny. This year:

Last year:

Celebrated Justice in Aging! The development team put on an awesome spring fundraiser and it was great to have all three offices together in SF.

Wine tasting :) Molly and John generously hosted us in Napa and it was SUCH a treat to be in a magical place with incredible company. Diego basically fell in love with Sutter and I felt so refreshed after a weekend soaking motherhood advice and stories with Molly and Kirstin  over delicious glasses of Malbec.

Visited Mom at work! We flew to Irvine for Morher’s Day and got to surprise my mom in her classroom. It was also Diego’s first time in a classroom :)

Hanging out around the neighborhood. Diego loved the musician at the Sunday Farmer’s market and scooted right to the front to dance. It’s been freezing in Oakland, but on the sunny, warmer days, we try to get the park after Daycare. On Tuesdays, the library is open later, and I love taking him to play and check out a week’s worth of books.

Sending good thoughts for the first summer weekend!

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Diego’s Mom

One of the best parts about the work week is having a general routine, and the BEST BEST part of a routine is looking forward to something each day. For me, I always look forward to 4:30 pm. I walk down a beautiful tree-lined street, with the lovely late afternoon sun sparkling through the tree leaves, and ring the doorbell of Diego’s daycare.

Diego practically crawls out the front door, into my arms, and it is the best. I look forward to that moment Sometimes, if I miss my BART train, or I’m grumpy or tired, I’m a bit more scattered. I fail to notice the sunlight, or brief, tiny, views of the Bay that peak out at the end of the street, looking west towards the water, as I walk to daycare.

Thankfully, if I’m running a little late, and racing to pickup, walking up to the front door, Diego’s “classmate” always helps me snap back to reality.

“DIEGO’s MOM!!” she always says, pointing at me. This always makes me pause, smile, and be more present. To this little person, this is my complete identity-Diego’s mom. Almost everyone else in my world knew me as someone else first-a wife, a daughter, sister, friend, colleague, etc.-and my “Diego’s mom” identity is a recent and welcome bonus.

But, as this sweet child reminds me, from here on out, to Diego and the people he’ll bring into my world, I’m first and foremost, Diego’s mom.

I read a lot about how, as a parent, it is important to remember who you were before parenthood. Advice abounds on focusing on those aspects of your identity, and taking caution to avoid getting completely swallowed up by this new role.

That makes sense.

But the thing is, I like being Diego’s mom. And, when I can, I thoroughly enjoy being completely consumed by his world. I’m realizing, that for me, the challenge is often the opposite. Making sure that I let myself completely pause, and sink into the role of being a mother, and try not to get too distracted by all the other demands. The late afternoons are my Diego-time, and I’m working on being more mentally and physically present in them. There’s the small, immediate distractions-dinner prep, the end-of-day clutter-and the larger, mental ones. I can get lost in mental questions, wondering, am I doing a good job balancing this whole work/life thing? Are we making good financial choices? When was the list time I called..ehhh…texted my friends? Does Diego know how clueless I am about parenting? Will we ever find a good storage solution for this tiny apartment?

And then I look up, and there’s Diego, scooting around the floor, taking every piece of Tupperware out of the pantry and throwing them down the hall. And I’m reminded to stop. Just stop. For now, in these few hours in the day, just be his mother. Focus on goofing around on the floor, watching him roll a basketball, and not worry if the only thing he’ll eat for dinner is goldfish. Just go with it. Be there, be present, because it’s ok for right now to just be Diego’s mom.

On Sunday, we were flying back from a weekend in Irvine. Diego was in the Ergo, and mid-flight, he looked up at me, grabbed my face, said, “mama,” and threw his arms around my neck.

It was….the best part of my day :)

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Cabin camping in Point Reyes

While I would love to be a mom who easily packs and takes on camping adventures, I am so, so, far from that person. David and I have camped a grand total of two times, and both times we tagged along with expert  friends. Expert camping friends who also cook incredible food, plan everything perfectly, basically make camping look really easy.

Knowing I’m a novice, and knowing how much we loved our previous trips, cabin camping at Samuel P. Taylor Park seemed like a great way to dip our toes in the whole camping-as-a-family thing, while staying comfortable (and warm!).

Friday afternoon, we drove out to Marin. The drive was gorgeous. We usually take 580 to Point Reyes, but David had a meeting in SF, so we took 101 across the Golden Gate bridge.  The bridge was packed, full of people marveling at the city views in the afternoon sun.

Silvia met us as the cabin and we all got settled before leaving for a trail walk. The cabins were built relatively recently (2012) and were perfectly clean, with electricity, an electric stove, and mattress pads-no tents needed.

We picked this camping date as it was the only one available-the cabins get booked up 6 months out. We really lucked out with the weather-it was warm, and the park was green and lush, especially after last week’s rain.

After the trail, David started dinner. Outside each cabin is a picnic table, fire pit, and barbecue. This is my favorite part of camping: spending hours outside, around a fire, and eating cheese and crackers, while waiting for a yummy camp dinner. David made incredible burgers and veggie kebobs. Our hiking backpack ended up being much more useful as a highchair. Maybe we just need to go on more hikes? It was totally worth bringing it for meals-Diego was perfectly happy to sit, snack on goldfish and edamame, and supervise dinner prep. I was also really grateful we went camping with Silvia. It was really wonderful to have grandma help with Diego and spend time together.

The only thing missing from our camping cuisine was s’mores-next time! Still, it was nice and cozy drinking tea by the fire, while watching the stars come out.

The next morning, David made an mushroom, egg and sausage scramble, and we enjoyed breakfast in the crisp morning air. For a brief hike, we tried putting Diego in the Ergo, but halfway through, he was NOT HAVING IT. On to David’s shoulders he went!

We said goodbye to the Madrone cabins and drove over to Point Reyes Station for CHEESE. I love visiting Cowgirl Creamery and seeing the stacks of Red Hawk and Mt. Tam in the dairy window.

With bags full of Humboldt Fog and turkey sandwiches, we made our way through green hills of happy cows over to Drakes Beach. At this point in the day, it was quite warm, not a cloud in the sky, and WINDY. I was reminded of the hilarious chaos of beach tent assembly in the wind, but David eventually got it, and we enjoyed a delicious lunch while watching the water.

While I took a power nap in the tent, this brave little Pisces crawled into the water-again! I love this photo Silvia snapped of David and Diego.

After exploring the water, Diego was freezing, and it was time to go home. Hope to get back to Point Reyes soon. I’ll be keeping my eye out for openings at the Samuel Taylor cabins-they are awesome.

Sending good thoughts for the weekend!

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