Saturday, June 18, 2016

California Knows How to Party

We are in the midst of our vacation and considering selling our big house in St. Louis to buy a studio apartment in San Francisco.

But seriously, everything has been great. We lucked out with the most fabulous place to stay. David had been looking at hotels and getting sticker shock (we're not in Kansas anymore!) and we had decided we'd be better off renting a house or apartment since the price was comparable and we'd have a kitchen and parking for the rental car. I was texting a few addresses to my friend Sarah who lives in Oakland to see how close they were to her or if she'd recommend the neighborhood and then she realized that the dates we were in town were the same dates her mom was on vacation. So we worked out a little house lending slash cat sitting situation and we could not be happier about it.

In order to avoid making these entries a million years along, I'll do a day at a time. The minutiae of my vacation, for your reading pleasure! 

Coco spent the first day terrified of the car and fearfully shouting "Meow! Meow!" While trying to climb my leg like a kitten anytime she spotted the actual cat, who was extremely curious and friendly. Since then, she has warmed up to a level of affection bordering on obsession. Her first words this morning were, "Where Meow-meow?" The cat, for his part, has shifted from curious to mildly annoyed and now tried to avoid Coco entirely. Oh, how the tables have turned! 

This visit to San Francisco is, of course, quite different than the one David and I made in 2009. I was here for a conference so David tagged along. His aunt and her kids also met up with us for part of the time. We stayed in a swanky hotel downtown since my university was covering the cost, we bought day passes for the streetcar, and although we did the touristy stuff--Alcatraz and Pier 39--we also structured our days around visits to coffee shops and bars. And it was November, so the tourist crowds were significantly smaller! I felt like we were the only ones watching the sea lions; this time the crowds were pretty crazy and we were trying to navigate a stroller.

We had an uneventful flight here, which was a relief and a major win given that it was four hours long. I give Zuzu an A and Coco a B+ for in-flight behavior. I bought Zuzu this scratch-off picture of Rapunzel at the dollar store in St. Louis and that thing was an awesome time-occupier. It's a sparkly picture that's covered in scratch-off stuff like a lottery ticket but somehow not as messy. It comes with a plastic scraper about the size of a small pencil. She was totally into it and called her her "work" and spent the first part of the flight busily scraping away to reveal all the sparkles.

She also colored and did some connect the dot and other activities in a little Care Bears activity book I picked up (the dollar store is a treasure trove of in-flight entertainment, seriously). She did spend a little bit of time watching the iPad, but was more interested in the "new" toys and drawing pictures or coloring in a coloring book.

Coco was obviously less easy to entertain that way. She didn't really want to color so she mostly kept busy by eating snacks (David told I was "overdoing it" with the amount of snacks I packed for the airplane. Let's just say thath I didn't ever say "I told you so," but I was quietly feeling pretty smug about it. Those kids want snacks all the freaking time. Anyway, Coco ate her fill of snacks, banged on the tray a bit, played peek-a-boo over the back of the seat with the kids behind her, and finally fell asleep in my arms and then got heavy and sweaty enough that I transferred her to David's arms where she slept for the second half of the flight.

At the airport, Zuzu was super excited by all the escalators and elevators and air trains. She made friends on the train by insisting on sitting in the one open seat by herself, and then turning to the woman next to her and saying in her most engaging voice, "What's your name?" (The woman's name was Maura. The other woman sitting next to her was named Sharon. I would have NEVER KNOWN the name of anyone on the train if it weren't for Zuzu being such a friendly Midwesterner.)

We picked up the rental car (Zuzu pouted because she wanted "The car with the doors that open by itself and you NEVER LET ME ride in one!" otherwise known as a minivan, which we were not going to pay extra for). I'd hoped to see Sarah and her family that night, but by the time we got out of the airport and into Oakland and stopped and picked up a few groceries, it was already 7:00pm California time, which meant 9:00pm Missouri time, which meant that my kids were tired and wired and just needed to eat dinner and go to bed. So that's what we did.

Our first full day here was Wednesday and we went to a ballgame. The weather has been beautiful--sunny, breezy, high 60s and low 70s. Lots of taking jackets on and off, but so refreshing since we left St. Louis in a heat index of 101 with plenty of humidity thrown in.

We took the ferry over from Oakland, which was so easy and reasonably priced that we decided to do it again the next day. It worked well for having strollers and for being very exciting for the girls. David wore Cardinal gear, which invited several conversations from strangers and one snarky but good-humored comment from a bike taxi: "I was going to say we take strollers, but not for cheatin' Cardinals!"

We got there plenty early (in part because David said the game started at noon when in fact it started at 12:45pm) so we decided to just walk to the stadium because it was so gorgeous outside and the walk was all along the waterfront. Of course, Zuzu got tired and we'd only brought one stroller, so David ended up carrying her piggy-back style in the Ergo, which she thought was awesome.

The ball park is beautiful and the kiss area was fun (WHY doesn't Busch Stadium have something like this? It's crazy.) Zuzu spotted the Coke bottle slide and kept insisting, "I want to slide down the beer!"

They played baseball on the tot field and Zuzu slid down the beer/coke slide a couple of times.

I made a huge parenting error when the tube of sunscreen I'd put in the diaper bag turned out to be regular lotion instead, but I wasn't too proud to beg sunscreen from the cute tattooed dad in front of us at the ballgame so the girls didn't get burned. My arms got a little bit toasty (hashtag farmers tan) but nothing too terrible. Just not what I was expecting when the forecast that morning said 62 and overcast!

When we left the ballgame, Zuzu begged for the stroller and promptly fell asleep in it. I put Coco in the Ergo and held her in front of me instead of on my back because I knew she'd fall asleep quickly there. She did, but then her weight became so heavy that I couldn't walk with her any farther, so David had to carry her after taking this photo.

We'd planned to take the BART back up to the pier to catch our ferry back to Oakland, but with two sleeping kiddos we decided to just walk instead. David was wearing Coco in the Ergo and we planned to sit down and have a glass of wine or beer before catching the ferry, but then David had to pee and insisted that he coudln't pee while wearing the baby. So he made me take her, and sure enough, she woke up.

I told him that a mom would have peed while wearing the baby.

Anyway, Coco ran around chasing pigeons while we had drinks outside and Zuzu slept in the stroller. 

Zuzu was still asleep when we got on the ferry, but finally woke up before we docked on the other side, just in time to head for dinner at Sarah's.

Backstory: Sarah was the first BLM (babyloss mama) friend I made after Eliza died. She lost her first son, Otis, in September of 2010. We met through the Glow in the Woods website and sent many, many long and rambling e-mails back and forth in 2011. Her pregnancy with her second son, Owen, gave me hope and he was born the month before I got pregnant with Zuzu. We have declared them to be engaged to each other since Zuzu was born (although Owen really seems smitten with Coco, as Sarah pointed out, she is easier to boss around--for the time being, anyway). I met Sarah in person for the first time when a bunch of us went to Vegas with our rainbow babies. The weirdest thing about meeting her is that it wasn't really weird at all. Obviously Sarah and I would have been friends if we had met some other way.

It felt the same when we all showed up at her house on Wednesday night. The kids immediately started playing together (well, Coco took a few minutes to warm up) and the dogs were excited and I met Sarah's husband Erik for the first time and it just felt like we were old friends. Hanging out with them was easy. We ate pizza and talked and intervened in a few preschooler skirmishes. I love their cute and quirky house and their sweet doggies. Zuzu and Coco were fascinated by Owen's vast collection of Legos as well as his Magna Tiles (SOLD on those--seriously), and his impressive line up of firetrucks.

It was a really nice start to our vacation, and with weird late naps and pushing it past bedtimes, we are well on our way to being on California time!


  1. Love these pics! San Fran in such a great place for kids.

  2. I'm a longtime reader after my first loss in 2012 and mama of rainbow Brooke & live here in San Francisco & originally from the East Bay... it truly is a gorgeous city, hunh??☺️... we live down the street from the Palace of Fine Arts here in the Marina district in our Art Deco traditional Marina style one BR apartment so your line above about selling everything for a studio in SF made me chuckle- rents & real estate are so crazy high here! We can see Alcatraz when driving down the street after picking up BB from daycare which is at the base of crooked Lombard St... & we drive down Marina Blvd. on the way home looking out at the GG Bridge🌉... I love that you love this city too & truly enjoy your trip! We're having a no fog weekend which is amazing for June!!☀️ -Lynn

  3. A mom 100 Percent pees with baby in Ergo. #rookie

    That sell-the-big-house-in-exchange-for-a-studio-in-the-bay-area (silicon valley) was PRECISELY the dilemma we have been up against for the last couple weeks. And the mountains won over and so we gave up the studio dream of back to Cali living (but only 6 miles away...)

    I had no idea you did tradesies with Sarah's mom! I wondered if you guys rented a house because of the photos. Awesome.

    I love those rainbows together. In a huge way. I'm so happy you went to see Sarah in her hood. :) I heart the Bay Area.

    1. I day dream about my studio apartment regularly. Do you know how easy it was to clean that place?!

  4. Waving to you from teeny tiny Mokelumne Hill!
    Ummmm, when your kid no longer wants to stay in the carrier car seat, but doesn't stand up so hot on her own, you learn to pee at the Walmart with a kid on your lap. Ergo is a luxury. Just sayin'.

  5. P.S. A really fun book for the girls to reminisce on their trip to SF is called "Larry Gets Lost in San Francisco"- it's really cute & I've given it to several families now & when the kids come to visit SF they want to follow Larry's path... I'll be getting it for BB too😊

  6. I'm glad you're having such a fun trip! :) totally pee with ergo. Magnatiles are the best. Public transportation is really fun when it is a novelty and isn't your norm. I love that travel allows for different and interesting experiences to let our kid's brains grow in different ways. Our latest plane entertainer if you see some before flight home-silly putty, seriously I was shocked at how long this entertained. I love the photo of adorable rainbows!

  7. I can't even tell you how many times I've peed with the Ergo on!
    (Also love that we all HAD to comment on that. Poor david).

    So glad you all got this time together. I am so sad I've never met Sarah! I'm sure she's just as amazing as I suspect.