Friday, May 30, 2008

What to do in San Francisco with kids

So the week was full of activities. Some of it was driven by key features in the Good Night San Francisco book I bought for Hana and Jeri. We went to see the Sea Lions and the beach and Cliff House to see if there were more sea lions there. We went up to Clement St (the real Chinatown in SF as far as I'm concerned) and picked up some pork buns and noodles at Wing Lee Bakery and BBQ. Then with cheap yummy bits to eat, we went out to visit the Rossi Playground. First time we were here, we came with baked pork bun, but the playground was lame. This time is was all renovated and FUN!. Kids approved of the playground with their name on it. We checked out the Windmill and drove around Stow Lake. We hit the Golden Gate Park Playground again with Amanda. She missed the old swings, but she had a grand time with her cousins sliding down the stone slide and checking out new equipment.

The Exploratorium was a hit, although HJ and I ducked out to get a little shopping done. Warm clothes for the girls and sweat pants for Bill. We swooped back and met the gang finishing up at the Exploratorium. Seems the best time to go is later in the afternoon when the class trips are heading out. Last time we came here it was late and everyone seemed sad to be kicked out at 5pm.

So Wednesday night I picked up Dad. I'm really becoming a big fan of the Cell Phone Park and Call lot at SFO. It's quite hidden, but right next to the Long Term Parking area. You can get back to the terminals in a minute or two so you can wait until they have their bags and swoop down and scoop 'em up. Me I waited until Dad's plane landed, added 10 minutes to get to the gate and another 10 to get off the plane before I head for the parking lot. After picking up 4 groups in less than a week, my timing was spot on.

The next day, we bought day passes and rode on the cable cars to Market St, then down to the Wharf on the old style F Street railway. Today's goal was to catch Musee Mechanique and go to the Aquarium of the Bay. Then work our way back to the hotel a short rest and then onto the 38 Geary to go to a nice place for an Italian dinner. On the way back, we found great stuff at the big Good Will store on Fillmore. I made a huge mistake and handed Natalie a wireless phone. I had assumed that there would be toys for me to do a bait and switch. I just couldn't yank her new favorite toy out of her hand. Michelle called me a light-weight. It's true. I found a couple of books, one with horses you can pet which was a life-saver for me. Whew! Friday we split up and had a low key day. Dad and I caught up with Michelle, Steve and the girls to do a geocache. On the way out, we did one of dad's caches. He spotted a box of junk on the side of the road and we ended up with a working heater, an electric frying pan and a green thermos. Great stuff to take camping. Friday night was a big get together at the new Moonstar in Daly City. Les and Ceal, Cathryn, Crystal and Esther joined the gang for dinner. I had fun messing with the cotton candy. Friday's done time to get packing and ready for the weekend!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day in San Francisco

Now that everyone is here, we started hitting the sights family-style in San Francisco. First thing we did was head out across the Bay to Tilden Park. I was sad to see the Carousel was closed, but the steam trains were running. Someone had commented on Yelp that a day at Tilden, riding the trains, hitting the petting zoo, and noshing on cotton candy and riding the carousel was like a spa day for a 5 year old. With that sort of review, I knew this would be a hit. It was a chilly day and even colder up in the hills. The trains were fun. We even managed to find a geocache there. We had a chilly picnic here and then wandered back to the city. Our return trip was perfectly timed. At 3:15, we were able to not only miss all the traffic backed up in the toll plaza, but avoid the toll by taking our caravan of 2 full cars through the carpool lane. There was some nervousness about it being a holiday, but the police sitting the the side gave us uninterrupted passage. Sweeet! At dinner a little later at Goat Hill Pizza, I asked Bill what he thought about the cool carpool lane move I made. He gave me a huge smile and said, that it totally made his day! We are a thrifty family so something for nothing is always good. Goat Hill Pizza delivered for us again. We had the same spot in the front, so the girls got to watch the pizza being made after they ate their fill. Dinner *and* a show. We went over the McKinley park and played there for a while. I told them down the curvy Vermont street and then back to the hotel to relax and crash.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Stage 2 of the fun arrives

So it's Sunday and I got the Pittsburgh, PA contingency from the airport to the hotel okay. After a full day of running around, plus a late night pick-up and hauling of luggage, I'm starting to get tired. Any we are only just beginning! Ah well. So we ended up driving the gang down to Los Gatos to visit with some old college friends of Michelle's. I typically don't see Scott and Shelly unless Michelle is visiting, so I was surprised at how big their kids were. It's really pretty down there. Of course it's a schlep, but Shelly introduced us to a great candy shoppe, which was like candy nirvana. The kids loved it and I thought it was just amazing to see so many different kinds of candy. We drove home and got the BBQ started at my house. HJ and I with help from the others made a yummy sausage, grilled peppers and onions, salad and steak (I think there was steak?) dinner. Kids hung out with their cousins and didn't trash my living room, which really wasn't clean enough for company. We went downstairs to see Gomer the cat. Hana was brave and petted him while Amanda showed that she was an old hand with cats. Even Natalie (who I swooped up and took with us) was ticked to see the kitty cat. Luckily she was gentle and no one (cat, 13 month old or aunt) were harmed during this visit.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Stage 1 has landed

Yesterday I picked up the S'pore Rossis from the airport. They were tired yet cheerful. I got a big hug from Hana and a shy smile from Jerika. I told Jeri that it was okay to be shy. She was supposed to be very shy now, a little less on Saturday - maybe we might hold hands crossing the street, but by the end of the holiday she and I would be fast friends, with hugs and eveything. This made her smile and I warned her not to be less shy yet.

I got a text message around 6:30am. (Ugh! Don't they know I'm on vacation too? I have a feeling these time zones are going to be an issue for me.) Seems the girls were up. Hana woke at 3am and she and Bill wandered around the hotel until HJ and Jeri woke up. I sent them off for coffee and directions to see the sea lions, which are always hanging out for free at Pier 39. I did tell them to dress warmly, but they didn't and were too cold to hang by the Pier. They did wander over to the farmer's market for a breakfast of fresh fruits and all were happy. We ended up driving up to Vacaville to do some outlet shopping (HJ's special request) and then to Farfield to go to Jelly Belly factory. On the way back we picked up more coffee for Bill and took the girls to the new playground at Golden Gate Park. There is a great carousel here and we got them in on the last ride at 4:30. It was redone since I was here last with Amanda and the girls were thrilled to be able to come back with their cousin the next day. Off for dinner and a beer at San Wang. This was HJ's introduction to American-sized chinese food. Too much was ordered but it was good and we left there stuffed and happy. We had the fried beef, a spicy seafood soup and the girls had tasty dark noodles (maybe the noodles with plum sauce). Off to go pick up stage 2 arriving from Pittsburgh PA at the airport.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Rossi-palooza begins

Today is the first day of a 2.5 week 'reunion' with my family. It all started with Bill, or perhaps it is more accurate to say his wife, HyunJoo (HJ) wanted to spend a holiday in Northern California with their kids. Luckily I am already here and was happy to have them come out. Since Bill and his family live in Singapore, we don't see them that much. Once their dates were locked, the rest of the kids decided that it would be great if everyone could get together. I will admit now, gentle readers, that I am excited and yet a little terrified to have the other 13 members of my immediate family descend upon me. I think we got along okay as kids, but now that the four of us are grown, and most with kids of their own, I 'm not sure what to expect. There are 6 girls or niecelings as I call them in the family. They range from 1 to 10 years of age. I think that they are all beautiful, sweet and clever. They have all developed their own personalities and from my vantage they are all quite different. I love when they get together as they seem to love their cousins to death and every parting is tearful, as if we are ripping a child from her own twin. Dad (aka Grand pop) is coming out too. I hope we don't kill him. But this is the reunion we weren't able to get together a few years ago when we went to Italy. So I'm off to go pick up Bill, HJ and the girls at the airport after their very long trip.

Monday, May 5, 2008

I'm back

I didn't realize that I was going to be "away" so long. But I finished painting 3 new paintings and got cleaned up and organized for Spring Open Studios. So today I've been thinking about all the things I've been wanting to do (or needing to do as the case may be) and realized that a blog update was in order. Gomer is getting to be a regular fixture in the household. If the basement door is open, he will walk up the stairs and come into the house to pester us about food or to see what we are doing. He is a little skittish still, but I expect that will taper off eventually. An interesting development is that Gomer had a girl cat over last night. I was hearing another cat when I went to bed early last night. I meant to go down and say Hi after I closed up after open studios, but didn't. I heard another cat and assumed that they were outside and trying to get in. Given his overall chatty nature, I figured that every cat in the neighborhood knew that he was in the house. I just didn't realize that they would be sneaking in. Well around 11ish there was a ruckus, so Nadine went down to break up the fight and send the other kitty home. We don't know how she got in, but now we are going to have to keep an eye on our boy!

I've also been catching up on my blogs. One of them was talking about how beautiful and fit people are made to feel badly about their size or fitness. While there are tons of reasons to get in shape and stay healthy, what that really means is relative. How do you draw the line between a good habit and an unhealthy obsession? What do we need to do to ensure that we appreciate our strong and healthy bodies? In any case I really enjoyed this parody video. I think you will too.

I'm also starting to think about things to do when my family (the whole kit and kaboodle) show up at the end of May. I'll pull out my calendar program and start adding in arrival and departure days. Then I need to start pulling together things to do, places to visit, restaurants to eat, etc. If you've got ideas of cool things to do with kids and grown-ups in the Bay Area let me know.