Thursday, June 29

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Milo played baseball this year. His team was made up mostly of kids from his school, first graders (now second graders), machine pitch. To my honest surprise, Milo loves it. He has a pretty good throwing arm, and has had some great hits. But you can tell he's having a great time. And it's super fun for Milo that Pop is one of his coaches and Daddy is assistant coach at nearly every game.

I thought maybe he'd find baseball sort of boring. The games are an hour and twenty minutes long, and for seven year olds, that's a long time. Plus, a lot of the time you're just sitting on the bench, either waiting for your turn at bat or waiting for the next inning so you can go back out in the field again. But while he does seem bored at times (Milo sat down in the outfield to play in the dirt a couple of times), he looks forward to his games and has already shown interest in either playing fall ball or again next spring.

I'm thrilled that he found an activity he really enjoys. He tried soccer; did not like soccer. He has done tumbling for a couple of years, which he enjoys some, but not tons. (And he hated performing in the recital. Or at least, he hated preparing/practicing for the recital.) So baseball it is. I'm pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoy watching his games. These kids are so fun, and they've all improved so much.

Milo is kneeling, front row, far left.

Monday, June 26

June 19, 2017 - Day 8

Not much to tell about this day, our last day of vacation. I literally took zero photos. We were just all ready to go home. Our flight wasn't until 11:20, so we got up at our usual time, ate the hotel continental breakfast, and called an Uber. Uneventful, quick drive to the airport, then the usual checking bags, going through security, etc. The kids were fighting (again) and being super whiny and emotional and angry. Then it hit me: we only ate pastries for breakfast. They're not angry, they're HANGRY. So we got terrible airport breakfast sandwiches at Burger King and within a couple of bites, they were their usual delightful selves.

Smooth flight, and we were back in KC around 4:45. Stopped for dinner at Twisted Fresh on the way home. Andrew wanted to eat at home, but I remembered how empty the fridge was and how I did NOT feel like making dinner the instant we walked through the door.

(Wow, super interesting blog post, eh?)

To sum up, we went home. Glad to be here. Even more glad we took this vacation. I love my family.

Sunday, June 25

June 18, 2017 - Day 7

No rushing for us this morning. Our first big plan of the day was to go to the children's science museum, the Exploratorium. It didn't open until 10am, and since we were all up by 6:45, we had plenty of time for a good breakfast. We walked a block or so down the street to the Cable Car Cafe. Not bad. Lovely people working there, decent diner food.

After breakfast, we stopped by Union Square. Not a lot going on there at 8:30 on a Sunday morning. From there, we caught a bus over to the museum. And guess what? We still had an hour to kill until it opened! Should've watched more TV in our hotel room (or slept later. ha.).

Mad because she wanted to be in the photo by herself and she asked for a photo first. (He did jump in there rather rudely.)

What a long hour that turned out to be. The kids were fighting and bugging each other, which was bugging Andrew. I was surprisingly not bothered (this time) by the fighting so was trying to mellow everyone out. We separated the kids, checking out different mini-exhibits in the lobby. This hour did turn out to be a great time for extra coffee. So there's that. I also bought us all a giant cookie to share because Vacation.

When the doors opened, we barely even knew what to check out first. This place is HUGE and all very hands-on. It's open-flow, so no path to travel around or loop to make. Every exhibit is designed to be touched, manipulated, explored, and figured out. We all had a great time.


This was a fun one. Andrew called this phone from down the way (see below). When Olive answered, he gave her a code to unlock the door. Inside the door was a video screen of the caller (Andrew, in this case) and he could then see a video the person who answered the phone.

Intently working on my sand art.

Spinning dizzy chair.

The kids chose markers, then swung the platform around until they liked the pattern it would draw. See below for our final masterpiece.

Milo was willing to try out the toilet drinking fountain.

Olive preferred the standard-looking drinking fountain, even though both had fresh clean water.

This little room was awesome. Yellow light made everything look yellow, but when you shined a little flashlight on things in the room, you could see their colors.

Human kaleidoscope! (And no, I do not know what face I am making.)

This cool mirror made us all look upside down.

Rainbow shadows!

Took a break for lunch at the museum's restaurant, The Seaglass Cafe. The food was pretty high-quality, we thought, though one of our children wouldn't even eat his or her macaroni and cheese. Typical. Back into the museum after lunch, where we explored til around 2.

Our plan for the rest of the day was to head over to Golden Gate Park. We had researched the night before what route to take. Underground or bus? Uber? What would be the best option? In the end we settled on taking the bus. Our first bus was fine, then we had a transfer. And that's where we ran into trouble. We were looking for the #7 bus, but saw a stop with #7x and wrongly assumed that was the same thing. After wondering and wondering why no #7 bus was coming after 30 minutes, I started asking the drivers of other buses where to get the #7, and the two drivers I asked pointed to a spot half a block up. So we went there, and within minutes a #7 bus arrived. Coming from around a corner instead of down the street. Damn. We probably missed at least the first two buses that came by because we were staring the wrong direction. It was so hot again today. Standing there, waiting for a bus that never seemed to come, did not cool us off. (And the bus we did get on was like an oven, seriously. I've never sweated so much sitting still.)

(Side note to mention Bus Anecdotes: This morning there was a fight on the bus because a man who clearly had some mental illness really needed the windows shut and another man did not like him leaning across, trying to shut his window. On the first afternoon bus, I told the kids to take a seat, then noticed that the lady a few inches from Olive was not only super drunk, but also had her pants (and underwear) pulled down to mid-thigh. Naked butt on the seat. My takeaway: observe the area before having your kids sit. Also, SF has a big homeless/mental illness problem.)

(Side side note: Later in the evening we saw a totally nude man saunter through the crowd. He wore socks, shoes, and an extra sock to cover his twig and berries. Thankfully the kids had their backs turned and missed his little display.)

So anyway. Bus to Golden Gate Park, finally. Olive fell asleep on the bus, so Andrew carried her for a bit as we made our way over to the Conservatory of Flowers. The park was pretty, but OMG I was still so stinking hot and the sun was everywhere. We had to stand in a line to get into the conservatory. I guess it was pretty neat in there, but for the most part I was only mildly impressed. The heat does that to me. They did have one special GIANT FLOWER there that bloomed last week or something. It only blooms once a year. It was honestly about four feet tall. And there was a butterfly garden, which Olive adored. I do enjoy seeing my children enjoy things. At one point, Olive asked to feel this little waterfall. I gave her the go-ahead, and when she stuck her hand in, she exclaimed, "It isn't glass, it really is water!"

Pretending to be monkeys and pointing at the bananas.

The enormous flower. Olive is Unimpressed. Or mad at her brother. One of those, though.

Trying to get the butterfly to walk on her hand.

The butterflies were her favorite.

Next was the search for a bathroom, then over the the kids' playground and carousel. The carousel was closing as we got there, which I didn't mind at all. We spent quite a bit of time at the playground, though. There was this concrete slide going down a hill. The kids there grabbed pieces of cardboard from a big pile at the bottom, climbed up, then slid down on the cardboard. I was really impressed with how Milo and Olive observed the other kids, then just jumped in to try it. Olive flipped over at one point and scraped her elbow. She got bandaged up, and we were glad to see that she was willing to go slide down again (though she did hold her injured arm up for the next hour).

Andrew and I wanted to see more of the park, but I don't think the kids had it in them at this point. We left the park around 5pm and walked back east along Haight. The Entire Street Smelled Like Pot And I Am Not Even Making That Up. At times I didn't even see any people who could've been smoking, yet the pot smell was so strong it was like someone right next to me was smoking.

We got pizza for dinner (two nights in a row--hooray for pizza!), then caught the bus back to the cable car stop. And because we weren't sure what our transit options were, we stuck with the cable car. Andrew and kids watched the breakdancers there for awhile and I took line duty. Eventually we got back to our hotel. We had promised the kids ice cream earlier in the day, and since we couldn't find any at Golden Gate Park (during our very limited exploring), Andrew took the kids upstairs since they had to go potty while I went to the market across the street and got little ice cream bars for us all. Also picked up a container of raspberries since I knew Olive would eat them (girl needs nutrition!) and some beer. I was pleasantly surprised to find the store carried not only Boulevard, but perhaps my new favorite Boulevard, the tropical pale ale. We enjoyed our desserts al hotel floor.

This was our last night of vacation, so Andrew and I packed as much as we could, got the kids off to bed (poor exhausted Milo couldn't fall asleep til almost 9:30), drank a beer or two, and whispered together by the window in the dark. Tomorrow we go home--and we are all ready.

Saturday, June 24

June 17, 2017 - Day 6

Whhhyyyyy do they wake up so early?? Kids up by 6ish today. I was soooo not ready to be awake. The hotel is unusual. No air-conditioning, but the window actually opens and there's a ceiling fan. Perhaps this is not so unusual for San Francisco? It's fairly warm in the room, and lots of city noise kept me awake for awhile last night. Took another shower this morning so I could use my good shampoo. I swear my hair still smelled like campfire as I washed it.

We ate the hotel's continental breakfast. It was just pastries. Fine and tasty, but Milo and Olive definitely need protein with their breakfasts. They act like maniacs if they don't eat protein at breakfast. Seriously. Fighting, hitting, whining. Basically little assholes. Tomorrow we'll have to splurge on a real breakfast, but for today we're hoping snacks and an early lunch will suffice.

We tried to grab a cable car to head up to crooked Lombard Street, but the first two that came by were full. We gave up and walked a block over to catch a bus. We got off the bus about 3 blocks from Lombard. Maybe poor planning on our part? We weren't sure if the bus was going to get closer or turn away from it, so we chanced it. As we walked toward Lombard, we saw another awesome playground. San Francisco Parks and Rec does it right. Kids would have stayed hours, probably, but I wanted to keep going. We had a lot planned and stopping at every playground we saw was not on my SF bucket list.

The next couple blocks we trekked were solidly uphill. Steep. Going up is much easier on my knees than going down, though, so I didn't mind. Except that I was sweating like crazy and it was only 9:00 in the morning. (Everyone EVERYONE told us it would be chilly in SF and THEY WERE WRONG. We only had pants for this leg (ha) of the trip, and it was about 80 degrees and NOT CHILLY AT ALL.)

Stopped to take some pics at the bottom of Lombard. I counted the steps as we climbed up. I think it was between 240 - 250, but of course I no longer remember for sure. From there, we got on a cable car for the last couple blocks down to the Wharf area.

First stop: Ghirardelli Square. We got some chocolate samples and saw some chocolate being made. Pro tip: if you wander through both Ghirardelli cafes, you get a sample at both places! We went in a few little shops. It was such a beautiful day. Andrew and I wished we could just sit and enjoy coffee there in the square. And then some wine later in the day.

But instead, we wandered back toward the water and sat on the concrete steps by the beach area. Got all sunscreened up and watched the swimmers. Olive desperately wanted to play in the sand and go in the water. We wisely told her she had to wait until the end of the day because we didn't want to be in wet sandy clothes all day. She insisted she'd stay dry but we're no amateurs.

We checked out Hyde Street Pier, but it wasn't too exciting. It was fun to see the boat wood being steamed, and we pulled on some ropes to demonstrate pulleys. But we were too cheap to pay to tour the boats (and not sure we'd really enjoy it that much anyway) so we didn't spend too much time here.

Continued on to Fisherman's Wharf. We wandered through the shops, which the kids actually really enjoyed. Of course, they, mostly Olive, wanted to buy everything (and we kept saying no. We're no amateurs). We saw this really cool 3D printed family portrait thing, where they take over 100 pictures simultaneously from all different angles, then make these super-realistic models of you. I was really considering doing this with the four of us, but it would have cost over $300. And we would have been wearing our dumpy vacation clothes. Not ideal. But I do wish we had this kind of thing nearby so we could get all dressed up and have a very cool memento. We also wandered through the lobby of Ripley's Believe It Or Not.

We ate lunch at a crepe place. Very yummy. (I know, I know, you're wondering why we didn't eat seafood. Well. Andrew had to go to the ER last time we ate seafood at Fisherman's Wharf, so we avoided it.) More wandering, then we got some ice cream at Ben & Jerry's. It was really hot out, so everything was kind of a drippy mess by the time we were done. #WorthIt

Went down Pier 39, which was starting to very crowded. Spent some time letting the kids play in the bubbles outside the toy store. The kids spent the last of their fun money on seashell boxes and tiny painted sea stars. We saw the sea lions. Adorable.

We had a catamaran boat tour today. It was a 90-minute ride around Alcatraz, under the Golden Gate Bridge, and back around. Just a ride, really, no guided tour. The boat had these nets up front that looked directly down into the water. The kids loved sitting up there. I took my Dramamine (the ginger-only natural kind, unfortunately) but the choppy water still got me by the end. It was incredibly windy out on the water, and actually cold (the only time we felt cold in SF). We were finally glad we'd been carrying around those jackets all day. We saw some whales out there, which was a highlight. And it was cool to see the bridge up close like that. It was a fun ride in spite of feeling yucky.

After the boat, I chilled out in the shade while Andrew took the kids on the Pier 39 carousel. Then we headed back toward the beach. We had promised Olive, after all, that we'd play in the sand later. It was a looooong walk back. So so crowded, the sun was in our eyes, and we were all exhausted. And our water bottles were empty and we couldn't find anywhere to fill them up. But we made it, and the kids loved it. They were so happy, playing in the sand and getting wet. First we took off their shoes and socks and rolled up their pants. But it was clear that wasn't going to cut it, so we had them take off their pants and just play in undies. Milo wasn't too sure about this, so he stayed in pants awhile longer than Olive. We figured we could then take off wet underwear and just have them wear pants back to the hotel. Well. Milo's pants got totally soaked before he took them off. So it was a wet bus ride back, but they survived.

It was after 6:30 by this point, so we were on the hunt for dinner. I ordered carryout pizza from the place across the street from the hotel while Andrew got the kids cleaned up. We ate pizza on the floor of our hotel room with foil plates and paper towel napkins (thank you, extra camping supplies). Despite my expression in this photo, it was lovely.

We pushed the kids hard today with activities. My watch tells me I walked close to 15,000 steps, and no doubt the kids went further. Milo and Olive are definitely troopers.