Just another day in Paradise.

Just another day in Paradise.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

February Recap

Is it just me or did February seem extra long this month? (haha) I'm sure that we all used our extra day wisely!

February and it's presidential holidays took us unexpectedly to Arizona, via California. We had been planning a family road trip to Canada as Ben and Avery both had four day weekends, but then at the last minute Ben was told he was supposed to attend a course in Arizona over the holiday. I get left at home by myself plenty, so I invited myself along. Of course my research indicated that it would be more affordable to fly to California and drive, so we squeezed in some family time and beach time as well!

Ben - Learned a lot about progressive sinus surgery and treatments. Enjoyed being a guest in his own home this month, before he has to move out again. Luckily, all of his possessions fit in a 2'x3' box.

The Kids: Well, unfortunately a dog followed us home when the boys and I were out for a bike ride (or in Cruz's case, a bike push). They named him Furball, then Oreo, and we had him for one night, actually he slept at our neighbors because the girl next door couldn't fathom that I was going to make him sleep in the garage. The next day when I went back to where he had followed us from there were signs posted. I got Avery out of school at lunchtime so that she could say goodbye. Turns out a family with four boys had been praying for his safe return. Glad we could help.

Me: Got invited to play on a co-ed soccer team that was short female players. I never turn down an opportunity to get out of the house or burn calories (especially when it doesn't involve lugging a toddler up stairs or hand washing wood floors) so I went. I haven't played soccer in 15 years!! (sorry I have to ponder this for a moment...) anyway, it was a super fabulous sunny day, I played defense which is preferred, we won and I was sore for 4 days after...like infirm.

I also started getting up twice a week when Ben does. It gives me about five extra hours to get stuff done with soundly sleeping children. It also gives me empathy for Ben's exhaustion.

Orcas! (And little boys)

Mostly this is pictures of little boys, looking for Orcas. Not that we didn't see any, but my camera isn't great enough to capture anything worth looking at. If it was, I would be posting a sweet/horrible photo of a an Orca eating a sea lion, which we saw with our bare eyes. The occasion was that my mom promised Miles a whale trip for his 4th birthday last year. So, to make sure that got honored before he turned five in October, she took him in September, which was Orca season. We saw quite a bit of wildlife and Miles tracked everything in his whale watching guide. He even got excited seeing sea gulls - because they were listed in his book. He was smiling all day.

Cruz became an expert whale watcher himself and would yell "whale" whenever one broke the surface. But here he is searching for the very last crumb in this container.

To be filed under September 2011.


Heirloom Tomatoes, Ferry Building, San Francisco. Photo by Sara Westbrook.

Last September Ben had a conference in San Francisco. Since I cannot pass up the opportunity to stay in a hotel that is already paid for, I tagged along as is the usual routine. I also absolutely love to be on vacation by myself from time to time. No kids, Ben being required to attend courses or lectures means that for a few days a year, I can do whatever I want to, however and whenever I want to. The only problem, and quite a stressor, is trying to figure out what on my wish list yields the greatest amount of pleasure so as not to squander the opportunity.

It usually involves eating wherever I want to for a start. I got off the plane in Oakland, rented a car and headed straight to Brown Sugar cafe, which was

recommended to me by my mother and was probably the motivating factor in getting her to watch the kids. And now I know why, just thinking about someone else being given the opportunity to bite into a cornmeal waffle from this place would engender charity and selflessness on my part too. I didn't expect much but it really was so good, I don't know how a waffle could be that good but it is. And here's the recipe that I
haven't tried yet but should - BSK's Cornmeal Waffle. I also got the shrimp gumbo, since it was between breakfast and lunch, and because I wanted it.

Next I ventured to see the Oakland temple. Where there were not one, but two Quinceanera parties being photographed. I can't blame them, it is a stunning piece of property, but wouldn't that be a little like me taking bridal photos at a mosque?

Next I headed to Berkeley. Partly because I had never been there before, but mostly because my mom suggested another can't miss spot. The pizza from the Cheese Board collective. Of course since I had eaten breakfast and lunch an hour before I wasn't starving but I stood in the long but fast-moving line and got myself some pizza anyway. Lots of mushrooms which I love. Really great. After this it was time to return the rental car (in hindsight, making those some rather expensive meals...) and hop on the BART to go to the city.

In the city I joined Ben at the Hyatt on Union Square where he was already checked in and living it up as an accidental member of the Regency Club (the bellhop thought Ben was a member because of the floor he was put on since he arrived early and his room among the minions wasn't ready, this ended up entitling him to breakfast, evening reception and desserts and a great view of the city). It made up for the fact that the workers were on strike and harassed us upon every entry and departure (we looked it up, their plight wasn't significant or necessarily valid). One striker lady, who had previously told Ben that he wasn't welcome in their city, asked him why he was staying at the Hyatt. True to his person, he said, "have you been inside? it's super nice!"
I like to get to know cities by running through them and I was not disappointed on my initial outing here, where I encountered a large group of folks smoking weed - medicinal of course, given that they were sitting out in the open in front of an important city building. - They were passing a joint around in a circle and the person in charge was making sure that newcomers/stragglers could get a hit, I was super impressed by their organization. They were reading cards aloud that proclaimed the ailments of their fellow club members who were not able to join them due to their infirmities...and thanking those by name who had generously donated this "medicine". So basically they were healing by proxy, which I am not sure is how it's supposed to work, but my knowledge of this area of herbal medicine is limited. I just hope that Susan's toothache gets better so that she can join the group next time.

While exploring the city I was reminded of a weekend trip to SFO that my girlfriends (Tarah, Amy, Wendy) and I took when we were in high school. None of us were 18 so we had a difficult time getting a hotel room, even though arrangements had been made previously by a parent. Will I trust my kids enough to let them go on a trip like that? Time will tell.

I took the picture below while walking either to or from church on September 11, it was a beautiful day and church was so interesting that I went to two wards (just to show how much better I am than those poor marijuana smoking souls, natch.)(please don't make me point out that this is a joke, but I will just in case someone thinks I might be that self-righteous)

There were many city other adventures to be had, some delightfully by myself and some in the company of Sara (who had come up with Kit on his business trip to the area). We visited fabric shops, furniture stores, a vintage poster gallery and markets. We took buses and trains through the projects and barrio in search of the best cupcakes, macarons and ice cream, and found the BEST chicarones ever. The guys went to a Giants game and we bought lotions and potions from Lush and treated ourselves to face masks and foot masks while watching the Miss Universe pageant wrapped in hotel robes like the teenagers we want to be. We did lots of walking, where I encouraged and calculated distance by laps around the track as usual (four miles - that's only 16 laps around the track!)

One thing that we wanted to do but didn't get to was do a night tour of Alcatraz. Next time I will make reservations in advance for that. But we did get to tour TCHO chocolate factory - here I am enjoying my free chocolate.

Another cool thing we did, perhaps the coolest, was biking across the Golden Gate bridge into Sausilito, grabbing sandwiches and pizza and then taking the ferry back to the city.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Hail to the Cheiftess

In honor of President's day (which somehow is important enough to elicit a four-day holiday for the military and many schools. i'm not complaining, i'll take it!) it reminded me of an interaction the kids had not too long ago. My mom was driving them somewhere (I'm guessing Starbucks or Nordstrom) and in the back seat Avery and Miles were having a discussion. Or rather, Avery was informing Miles that she would indeed have a successful bid to become POTUS (or was it of the world?) someday and that although she had already appointed her best friend Jocelyn to be V.P. that he could have the very important job of being her... "champagne manager".

Here's to a great President's Day!