Wednesday, March 30, 2011

San Francisco


Bay Bridge

We are back from our trip to San Francisco and have recovered enough from the laundry and the INSANE RE-ENTRY ISSUES of my children for me to edit photos and whatnot. Oh, what a lovely time we had! I think we made the trip too long (although with good reason-- Rob's conference was 5 days and we took a few extra days to see his family; add two days for the plane trips and all the sudden you have a LONG trip) but nevertheless it was really fun. We didn't rent a car and just used public transportation, which was definitely the right decision. Driving and parking in a dense, urban city is utter misery to start with, and it turns out the girls loved the streetcars and cable cars and commuter train and even the buses. Violet especially wishes, I think, that we could do all our transportation WITHOUT a car seat and WITH entertaining strangers. Public transportation is better for kids than car travel, after all. I need to figure out where we can get from our house with Salt Lake City's not-super-awesome public transportation system.

Bi-Rite Creamery

We ate so much wonderful, delicious food during our trip. Dim sum in Chinatown, wonderful Mexican food in the Mission District (actually we ate in the Mission a LOT because there were so many wonderful but also kid-friendly, not-too-fancy places to eat), grilled sausages, Peruvian, Salvadoran, fancy brunches, amazing ice cream...  I could go on and on. One evening when Rob's parents had come into the city to see us, they babysat the girls and Rob and I went out on a date. We went to a speakeasy, with an unmarked entrance door and a password and secret passages and everything (it would have been even more fun if I weren't pregnant and could really drink but still, it was fabulous) and then had seven courses of beef at a ridiculously tiny, wonderful Vietnamese restaurant. I found this list in a local San Francisco magazine when I was researching our trip that was very helpful in deciding where to go to eat (although, as you would expect, many of the places on that list are way too fancy and/or inappropriate for kids). I put all the places I thought we should try as bookmarks on Yelp before we left, and then wherever we were in the city, I could look on my phone and see what was close by. Brilliant! Speaking of phones, I will now sing the praises of having a smart phone to anyone who will listen when it comes to navigating an unfamiliar city. Google Maps was my very best friend, and their public transportation and walking options for directions worked beautifully. Seriously, it went absolutely without any problems.

Boats all lined up

It rained a lot while we were there, which was kind of a bummer. Poor Rob's parents got some of the worst rain during their days in the city, and some long-time friends of Rob's (and now mine) who also came into the city to see us got pretty wet as well. Fortunately, it was usually just on-and-off rain with several hours or a whole day of sunshine interspersed here and there. Grace and I walked around with ridiculously curly, frizzy-yet-flat hair in the humidity (have I told you that I think Violet's hair is going to be straight-ish?) and I will admit that doing buses with a stroller AND umbrellas with rain coming down was challenging. I tried to avoid the stroller as much as possible on the rainy days and just go to places with minimal walking on our route and/or make Rob carry Violet if he wasn't in his conference. (For the record, we wished we had brought the Ergo; we never use it with Violet at home anymore but it would have been helpful on the trip.) I was wishing by the end of the trip that I had a nicer stroller (I only have cheap strollers) and Grace was wishing by the end of the trip that we didn't make her walk so much every day. But on the whole, on the non-rainy days, getting around was not tough at all.

Palace of Fine Arts

And oh, did we get around! I am really happy with the things we got to see.  We didn't see Pier 39 or Ghirardelli Square or some of the ├╝ber-touristy places, but that's not really our style anyway. We saw the bridges and the Ferry Building, Fisherman's Wharf (the part with the actual fishing boats and disgusting but captivating puddles), the Palace of Fine Arts, Zeum (which was a big hit) and the Exploratorium (which was not). We got into those last two places free with our membership to the Salt Lake City planetarium; I think being a member of a local museum/planetarium/whatnot like that is such a good deal because you can use them when you travel at places with reciprocal deals set up. Where we did NOT get in free was the Academy of Sciences, which houses the good aquarium and a planetarium and a rainforest thing and whatnot.  It was going to cost $80 to get in for the four of us! Can you believe that? We did not go in. Boo on you, Academy of Sciences...

Our last full day in San Francisco was sunny and beautiful and we spent most of the day in Golden Gate Park, which is so huge that there was no way to really see the whole thing.  We mostly walked around the Japanese Tea Garden and Spreckels Lake and had a wonderful ending to a wonderful trip. Thanks for showing us a good time, San Francisco!

Running on the rocks

Monday, March 21, 2011

Life in the Big City

Well, hello there! We are in San Francisco! Rob has his big national allergy conference and we have all tagged along to hang out in a beautiful city and have lots of fun. This is the same conference that took us to New Orleans last year, so apparently this is how we go on vacation now.

I am pretty much healthy finally, for which I am SO SO THANKFUL. Seriously, that cold totally had my number for a good two weeks. I am really overflowing with gratitude that I finally kicked it, especially given the demands of traveling with small children. The day that we had our flights was still rough, but I have been largely healthy since then. This is a decent time to travel during a pregnancy; I don't have the super-specific food aversions and needs (i.e. "must. have. crackers. now. or. will throw up.") and headaches and extreme exhaustion of the first trimester but I'm not really big enough to feel awful lugging my gigantic self around an unfamiliar city. So, hooray for all that.

San Francisco is such a beautiful city, and we really love it here. We spent part of our honeymoon here (after spending most of it in Yosemite), and of course Rob grew up in a more suburban part of the Bay Area. Rob's parents moved out of the metro area to Sonoma County a few years ago, so although we have flown in and out of Bay Area airports about once a year, we have always immediately driven a few hours inland and have not actually spent any time in San Francisco itself since our honeymoon.  It's been so fun to be here, and I hereby resolve that this trip I am finally going to make it inside Britex Fabrics. Every other time I've been here, I have walked past it or glimpsed it down a street but I was with companions who were not really into fabric shopping. I don't care this time; I am going.

This trip is making me realize anew how much I love big cities. I do; I love the bustle and the tall buildings and public transportation and the diversity and museums and that feeling of there being an infinite number of things to do and see and eat and experience. Rob tried to convince me the other night at dinner that San Francisco was an even better big city than New York, which was obviously crazy talk (New York is really one of my favorite places to be in the whole wide world), but it is lovely in its own right. What else I have realized anew is how mentally/emotionally draining big cities are.  There are the mentally ill homeless (which seems like an especially big problem here, but then I wonder if I have blocked that out from visits to other big cities) but also just the increased level of effort it takes to do things, which is kind of draining. I find that effort to be one of the invigorating things about travel but at the same time it uses up the mental/emotional energy reserves pretty fast. So here is my analysis of Salt Lake City as compared to San Francisco: colder/snowier in March, proportionally more white people, proportionally fewer homeless people, fundamentally easier to live life and do things. These things all have their positives and negatives, of course. (Well, except for the lack of diversity thing-- really nothing good about that. And the homelessness. OK, just scratch that sentence altogether.)

They announced that next year's meeting will be in Orlando, and I can't decide if we should all go along for that or not. Are we Orlando kind of people? There is Disney, of course, but I don't know off the top of my head if doing Disney with Violet at slightly more than 3 and this new baby at about 6 months would be fun or misery. (Grace, I think, would probably love Disney next year.) And is the other option in Orlando a beach-y vacation? This is all just off the top of my head; I have done zero research about Orlando as a possible destination. A warm beach could be fun. Right? Wouldn't it? I have never taken a beach-y vacation ever in my entire life, with the only possible exception being the day or two I would take before an observing run in Honolulu with Waikiki Beach and so forth. I could see a beach being fun with three children. Oh my gosh-- THREE CHILDREN. We are going to have THREE CHILDREN. What are we going to do?!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Bit of Spring

We are various levels of sick here at our house and Grace has missed half of her schooldays over the past two weeks, but goodness, I cannot mind it very much because it was sunny and balmy and warm today-- it even got to 60 degrees!  The sky was a blue I would like to paint my bedroom and the foot of snow we got a few days ago is almost entirely melted away and it smells amazing outside...  I am sure that winter is not finished with us here (after all, it snowed in April last year when we were here visiting) but oh, what a beautiful day!

We have been so lucky this winter about illnesses, hardly having gotten anything, but the germs caught up with us in the past month as it's been a merry-go-round of sickness at our house with various people getting various diseases.  Right now, I am recovering from a nasty cold and Grace has some kind of insane rash combined with cold symptoms. They might be unrelated to each other, I guess, and Rob has a complicated theory involving the amoxicillin she was taking for her strep throat and then her getting exposed to my cold virus and KABLAM! Crazy rash! Poor thing, she is old enough now to be self-conscious and unhappy about it.  I gave them a bath last night (usually Rob's job but he wasn't home) and it was quite a sight-- one naked porcelain-skinned child and one child covered face to feet in this unnerving rash.  Sheesh, I will be glad when it is gone.

I will also be glad when I am fully recovered from this cold.  During pregnancy, your immune system is suppressed a little to keep your body playing nice with the foreign organism growing inside of it, and for me, I find that this means a) I catch illnesses really easily and b) I get way more sick than I ought to from every little virus that comes our way.  I thought I was coming down with for-real influenza at the beginning of this cold, but thankfully not, just a bad cold.  Blech, just one more thing to add to the list of weird, miserable pregnancy symptoms (along with restless leg syndrome! and nasal congestion! and strange skin issues!). I do not win at being pregnant.

I have had a realization about myself when it comes to procreating.  (Well, it's not entirely new, but I have realized it with new clarity.)  I really REALLY dislike being pregnant.  I am not one of those women who feel all glowy and at one with their beautiful gestating bodies and just so happy about every minute of it.  I realize that this attitude is very much a function of how easy it has proved (soooooooo easy...) for us to conceive; I have not spent any appreciable amount of my life wishing and hoping that I was pregnant, like so many people we know and care about.  I know that this is a blessing, and if I had to choose between super-fertility/unexpected pregnancies and not getting pregnant for months or years when I wanted to be, I would definitely pick the way things have turned out.  I think that my friends who have struggled with infertility and gone on to get pregnant have a better sense of perspective about the misery of the whole thing, though. Although I think I should borrow some of that perspective and have a better attitude, I also think it is OK for me to say that yes, I really REALLY dislike being pregnant. It is what it is.  On the other hand, I really REALLY loooooooove newborn babies.  Seriously, there is just nothing like the wonder and the newness and the magic of a tiny new baby. It is enthralling and rapturous and leaves me blissed out, and yes, I am really looking forward to doing that again. I do win at babies!  I think the reality of a new baby is starting to sink in a bit for me.  I had a midwife appointment last Friday and she did another quick ultrasound.  The baby looked so much more, well, baby-like than even just 5 weeks before; you could see its heart pumping away (with four chambers visible!) and the baby wiggling and flailing around and the backbone and FINGERS and so much wee adorableness.

So there you go-- pregnancy sucks, I've obviously never struggled with post-partum depression, and we get to have a BABEEEEEEEEE...