Saturday, April 14, 2007

Eli and Felix go hiking

With our two week spring break Helen and I carved out some time by taking turns watching children. I arranged a play date at Chloe's for Eva and Eli and I would entertain Felix for the afternoon. We picked up Felix and the four of us had lunch in the little community garden on 7th Avenue on the way to Chloe's house.

After dropping Eva off, Eli, Felix and I headed to Golden Gate Park. We had a nice hike in the woods. Eli and Felix are such a great match. They were born one day a part and have such similar personalities. They immediately became little kitties in the woods, heading off the path in to the first set of trees they could find. Our path became a bit more ambitious as Eli announced he had to go poo and would not go in the woods. We made a journey to the bathrooms at Stowe Lake then watched the turtles at the lake and raced the paddle boats on the water. We ended at the "photo opportunity" cherry blossoms next to the Japanese gardens. There was informal line hopping up in the tree, snapping photos and then taking off. I could not resist plus the boys loved being the tree. They were so cute three Japanese girls/tourists were snapping photos of our boys.

Fun in Moraga, CA

Last week we headed to Moraga to visit one of mama's "Chinese Sisters". Mimi and I have been talking for years about getting these children together. We arrived around 10:00 am on a Thursday and stayed until 4:20. Eva, Eli, Mikko and Markus got along famously by the end of the day. We almost stayed for dinner but I got scared by the thought of traffic. Moraga is only 37 miles away but with bad traffic it could take 2 hours.

As with most introductions, the meeting started out slowly, a lot of running to mom's for reassurance. They finally played outside on the back patio and found a rhythm. We took them to a lovely city playground. It was a very hot day and the children did not want to be in the full sun. They did have success playing the the shaded sandy volley ball court. We then had a nice lunch at a local Chinese restaurant. Considering we had two mothers with 4 children ranging from 4.5 to 1.5 years of age, we did pretty well. Eva was in heaven as Mimi ordered a beef noodle dish! We then went back to the house where I introduced Mimi to the concept of "Quiet Time. " Markus is a little young but Mikko adjusted well to room-time. Of course the room looked just like ours at the end of the period - a MESS.

After fun climbing up the hill, playing the long soft grass, it as time to go to many protested from the children - especially Eva. We promised the children we'll have a sleep over weekend this summer.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Quiet Time as interpreted by Eva + Eli

One afternoon last week, during quiet time I was summonsed in to the children's room to see them. There they were, in their nightgowns, surrounded by doll strollers, babies, rocking chairs.

Wedding Veil

Kara is thinking of borrowing my wedding veil. I took photos for Kara to see it with Eva as my model. She was very good at her job.

boo hoo

Sadly we had to send our RSVP card back to Kara and Andrew. Only one of us will be attending their wedding MAMA! So the rest of the team decided to send photos showing their sadness and regret.

A friend's birthday party

It was sad seeing our cousins leave. Luckily we had a birthday party on Saturday ease the blow. Daniel was the birthday boy and so many of our friends from school were there. While Penelope and gang were here we had the best weather. The outside party was a little nippy but that did not stop the children from having a blast.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Our last day to cavort around the Bay Area. We met Nicole, Ariana and Sophia at the Bay Area Discovery Museum. The children could not get enough of the "landed" boat they have. Eva was the captain calling out orders to anyone on deck and Eli was the steady man in control of the wheel. They all made quite a team.

After lunch we headed to Muir Woods to see the giant sequoia and redwood trees. We meandered along the path. It is a bit frustrating for children in that they have to stay on the path. The beautiful woods are so tempting to an adventurous group, it made parenting a bit more challenging.

We ended our day at Guymas, met by Penelope's friend Mark. We ate tasty Mexican food and toasted with margaritas. We said our goodbyes as we got in to our cars. Team East would leave in the morning. It was a fabulous trip.


Today we took every form of public transportation for our day at the Ferry Building. I always felt this sense of pressure that I needed plan the day adding all of the request but laying a road for a smooth day. Whew - there were always moments of worry but in general, all went well.

The children and I took the J-Church train to 24th street where we met Penelope at Martha's Coffee and then picked up bagels to enjoy at their apartment. Half way home, Penelope commented that it took a lot shorter time on her trip TO Martha's. Our constant encouraging cheering, with mild bribing, got us to their place - whew!

We were once again happy to be reunited with the cousins. Art stopped by, we noshed on bagels and then as Art was leaving he ran in to Alison and Julia and sent them to say hello. Julia loved seeing all of the big kids running around.

We parted ways and the Bender gang headed to wait for the J-Church. Once it came, we piled on board for the first leg of our journey. This took us to the Van Ness stop where we transferred to the 49 bus, rode it up to California Street, and waited for the Cable car. Amie was able to stand on the outside while we all found a seat inside. The slow-moving, loud car was not quite as thrilling as the children expected, they all seemed a little blase about the trip.

Art met us at the end of the line, we made a potty break at the Hilton Hotel and then walked to the Ferry Building...Penelope and Amie each found a vendor selling beautiful jewelry that complemented their styles.

We walked around the market place for a while and then decided it was time for lunch. Art and Penelope watched the children on the pier while Bob gathered children-friendly food at Taylor's and Amie and I went to The Slanted Door take-out yummmmmmmmm. We all sat on the dock and ate caramelized chicken, papaya salad, a duck dish and a tofu dish. Our children abandoned their hamburger as soon as they tasted our delicious Vietnamese food. Well sated we separated, while the boys and Sarah went to see the metal statue and the rest of us walked at a more leisurely pace.

We made our way home in time for Helen and Joel, Felix and Isa to come and meet our family. They were at Harvard at the same time Penelope, so we thought they might have stories to tell. I think we spent more time parenting and less time chatting but it was fun to be together.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Monday - Golden Gate Park

Art was back to work on Monday. The rest of the team went for a little hike at the chain of lakes in Golden Gate Park. Eva wanted her cousins to experience the hike she takes with her school. To get things off to a good start Penelope and I went to Tartine for some treats. Their coffee alone is to die for. Penelope and I indulged our desires by getting morning buns, pain au chocolate, and more. She was very tired and the coffee could not be served quickly enough. They even tempted us by first producing the creamy rich brew in their standard bowls, making us wait while they transferred them to to-go cups. The coffee did not disappoint.

We decided to pile in the rent-o-van so we could all be together. I introduced everyone to our little yellow chair that we use on occasion when we have one to many in the Honda Element. Penelope and switched off. This was much more fun than two cars.

We first went to the chain of lakes where we had a snack of or goodies. We walked part way around the lake, stopped for a little fishing in the lake then headed through the woods to the casting pools. Bob kept the children moving through the woods looking for fairies under leaves and grass. We rested for a moment at the casting pools where E + E showed their cousins the little house they play in which is a set of steps sunken below the water level. The casting pools are just that, built for San Franciscans to practice casting their fly fishing. There is a little lodge on site that the manager has become quite fond of Eva's preschool class, inviting them in on their Wednesday hikes. We then meandered to visit the Bison and ran to our favorite craggy tree where the children climbed. They could have stayed there forever but we were due to meet Art for lunch.

We went to the Beach Chalet - a great place for outdoor or indoor dining. We all found something to our taste and had a nice meal. Eva particularly liked the ice cream at the end of the meal.

We stopped by Ocean Beach for a visit so Sam and Sarah could dip their toes in mighty Pacific. We should have stayed longer but thought we'd go to carousel in GGP only to find it was being renovated. I honestly can not remember what we did next.....

Monday, April 09, 2007

Day 2 - Angel Island

With the time change and the busy Saturday, Eva and Eli slept in until 7:15 - a mere record in our home. woo hoo - though I did not sleep through the night it was a luxurious morning.

We met at Penelope's rented apartment on 23rd Street. Noe's Nest did not pass an inspection or something so they could not stay there, when they described their alternate accomodations I knew it must be the home next to our friend Alison. Indeed it was. We were regaled with stories of poor Amie's room up next to the workmen that are renovating who appear to be living in the space. They kept music on until late, were loud and had angry girlfriends visit. I'd been hearing about the crazy renovation of this home that had so many remodels over the years that the layout no longer made sense. The owner had used it as a bed and breakfast for years but tried to convert the space back in to one home with a rental unit below. The house with all it's oddness sold for $2.4 million only to completely leak as if there were no roof during the only rainstorm while the house was in escrow. Needless to say, the house is still under renovations.

Okay back to our day, Bob arrived the prior evening from Oslo. It was nice to have him join forces though his clock was completely turned around. We convoyed to Fisherman's Wharf where we took a jolly stroll to the ferry landing. Amie and I gathered Pete's coffee and a sour dough round from Boudin. The weather was glorious, just a slight breeze, sunny and clear. We rode on the top of the ferry - hoping to calm the stomachs of the landlubbers aboard - Penelope, Art and especially Amie. Our boat arrived, we purchased our tickets for the tram ride and staked out our picnic site. The tram ride is a guided tour of Angel Island's history which is pretty rooted in the military. The children were entertained enough. We had the tour guide drop us off a wee bit early so we could take a walking path back down part of the hill. By this time, it was getting a little hot and the children were hungry and their attention needed to be refocused on food. Once fortified we played in the field with our soccer ball (which Art gallantly rescued from the Bay) did somersaults, and had a nice time. We thought a hike up the hill would be entertaining. It was a bit like herding cats, one child would head up one path, one the other, there were many pee breaks which made our trip long in time and short in distance.

We were ready for the final ferry, so eager that we stood in the wrong line and had to get shuffled back to the dock to wait for the next ferry. We all felt that they could have been a bit more clear in their directions but thought our misguideness provided the crew with some amusement.

The tired and hungry team dined at Emmy's spagetti shack - a tasty bite with adequate wine to send us all home ready for a night's rest.