Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I Might Complain About the Heat in This One...

You know when a heat wave would be appreciated? When I could take these 100 degree days and really run with them? Sometime around mid-January. That would be good--somewhere around the time when I'm scraping frost off of my wind shield with an expired credit card and I can't find my left glove (of the 10th pair I've bought so far during the season) and the sight of the heating bill in the mailbox is bringing tears to our eyes. THAT would be a great time for blast of hot air from the surface of the sun. But now? Not so much.

Today we attempted to escape the soul-crushing heat by venturing into San Francisco--the city is notorious for almost always being 20 degrees cooler than all other locales of the Bay Area and generally shrouded in with fog, at least in the earlier hours of the day. So friends of ours arrived at 10am and we carpooled up to Golden Gate Park. To relief! To cooler weather! To a protective "marine layer" that would shield us from the unforgiving glare of the sun!! Yay!!!

Except it was almost 90 degrees at 11am in Golden Gate Park. And there wasn't a cloud in the sky. And we decided to go to the Conservatory of Flowers without it occurring to either of us that we were actually paying admission to go into a...wait for it...HOT HOUSE of tropical plants and flowers on one of the hottest days in San Francisco's recorded weather history. And because we're talking tropical plants, we're talking "specially controlled environments to preserve the habitats of the plant life," which means--humid. Super hot and super humid. Special.

I wish I had thought to take a fabulously flattering picture of myself upon exiting the Conservatory, but in my weak-from-the-heat-someone-bring-me-my-fainting-couch frame of mind, I was remiss, and did not. But go ahead and picture what you would look like if you'd decided to either go for a run in 100 degree heat and 85% humidity or sit in a steam room for 20 minutes, both after applying a full face of make up. Pretty, no?

The kids, with their ability to be impervious to the elements, loved it and ran from room to room inside the conservatory with all kinds of "look at this!" and "ooooh, pretty!"'s, especially when we got to the carnivorous plant room. We were lucky that it seems the rest of the world was smart enough to stay away from the HOTTEST SPOT IN THE CITY ON THE HOTTEST DAY OF THE YEAR, so we had the place pretty much to ourselves.

When we couldn't take any more of the plants (none of which ate one damn bug while we were there) or the heat, we headed out to the shore-end of the park and were gloriously relieved to find the temperature dropped almost 20 whole degrees in the span of our 2-3 mile drive. Oh, magical sea breeze--thank you for keeping me from melting into a pile of unsightly goo. We ran around by the windmills (and by "we," I clearly mean the kids) and then headed up to the Sutro baths, which is the coolest thing I've seen in San Francisco yet.

We tried to discourage the kids from wanting to hike down to the baths, but they were insistent in their promises that they would not beg to be carried back up the stairs afterwards (it was cooler, but please--not carry-your-kid-up-150-steps cooler). So we walked a little way down towards the ruins (which sounds so weird to say about a place that existed in the last century, but it really does look like ruins) and Ethan kept exclaiming gleefully, "A Zach and Cody boat! A Zach and Cody boat!" as he pointed out at the ocean, towards a gigantic cruise ship belching black exhaust up into the air. It took me a few minutes to realize that he was referring to a show on Disney about two spoiled rich kids who live on a boat, named--you guessed it, Zach and Cody. He has seen this show, in bits and pieces, perhaps twice in his life. And yet. Sigh. Disney, you sneaky conglomerate, what subliminal messages do you put in your shows to get our children to worship you so?! Because we're not really talking about super high quality programming. Just a consistent laugh reel and a lot of jokes my kid doesn't get. And yet.

Anyway, we ended our tour of San Francisco by driving through the Presidio and past Chrissy Field on our way to the Palace of Fine Arts, which is supposed to be all idyllic and swan-y but was more like the Palace of Fine Construction and the mood was more tourist and sea gull-y. But it was lovely none the less; the kids looked for treasure (read: bits of trash. Super!), supported the dandelion population in the park with copious amounts of picking and blowing the seeds to the winds, and chasing pigeons. A pretty perfect day, in spite of the epic heat wave.

We can't wait to sweat inside the big white building full of windows and moisture-controlled environments!!! I'll race ya!

Look, Ma, no clouds. Seriously. Not one.

There's a joke about anti-frizz serum in there somewhere....

Venus Flytraps! They were too hot to bother eating anything.

Really, kids? You sure you want to walk down there? Oooookay. (note: we did not go anywhere near the "cliff and surf" death zone. Don't call CPS).

My friend and her little one trek down the bajillion stairs.

The Zach and Cody boat.

searching for treasure.

The Palace of Fine Arts, and a few of the low-rent places in the neighborhood.

rolling down the hill amongst the fancypants cars.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

And All Was Right With the World...

Husband is home! Yay! Technically he was gone for 10 full days, but in my attempt to be as melodramatic as possible, I count travel days as well, even though we see him at the beginning of one and the end of the other. So that makes TWELVE days without Husband, the majority of them I spent all pneumonia-y and hacking up a lung. So you know, not really at my best. BUT Ethan & I got through it, with the help of good friends and our good fortune at being a seriously kick-ass team. I am also grateful to have escaped the worst of pneumonia, having caught it while it was still very much of the "walking" variety, which has only required some antibiotics and homemade chicken soup, as opposed to hospitalization and breathing tubes. So, clearly, that's a plus and for all my boo-hoo'ing, I got off lightly and I am eternally grateful for that.

Today, in our attempt to cram 10-ish days of FAMILY! TOGETHERNESS! AND! FUN! into our first weekend day together in 2 weeks, we found ourselves all over the map and a little bit disjointed in our activities, but whatever, we were together & that was enough.

We started out at Starbucks, as we always do every Saturday & Sunday mornings--this is where we plan our day. Should we do into the city? Should we pick apples? Go to the tide pools? Just stay home and, I don't know, clean the house for a change? (that's crazy talk)

Today we decided to head back to the Fitzgerald Marine Preserve tidal pools, which we visited back a few months ago, to less than satisfactory results. We figured we'd be prepared this time, so we packed long pants and sweaters and we were equipped for The Elements.


The only element I didn't take into account? Um. The tide.

When we pulled into the parking lot, we congratulated ourselves on having gotten there early enough to get a good spot and having come during what we assumed had to be the "off" season--fall has arrived, so peoples' minds have switched from ocean side to apple orchard and we would reap the rewards of an empty beach and chock-o-block full tide pools all to ourselves!!! Yay, us!

Except. When we walked down the pathway to the beach, we saw this:

Yeah, so the tide pools? Covered by THE TIDE. Turns out, all the little sea creatures we were hoping to make magical memories with? Were under the sea.

So we took some pictures, because why let an hour drive and perfectly dismal weather go to waste?

"The ocean was angry that day my friends; like an old man at a deli trying to send back soup." I might have an embarrassingly extensive knowledge of Seinfeld quotes...

It looks like he's scolding me, but he's pretending to take pictures with an invisible camera. Soooo, really he's just mocking me. It's cool.

We call this one: When Unibombers Go To The Beach...


Ethan examining the one sea-creature-esque discovery we made--an empty, broken snail shell. SCORE! also, note to self: get your kid a new hoodie, dude! He looks ridiculous!

Then we went to Half Moon Bay to stand in line for way too long for sandwiches that were not all that great (but when the line is out the door for a sandwich, you figure the place has to be some sort of Garden of Sandwich Eden--it was not), and to poke around at our favorite market of rusty tchotchkes and broken glass (no, really) Half to Have It. And I took some pictures:

Seriously, you can buy broken glass and ceramic by the pound for your art projects and landscaping or whatever. I need about 4 houses for all the stuff from this place that I want.

giant old-timey key for your non-existent wine cellar?

If you want to see more groovy pictures from Half to Have It, check out my MamaSarahndipity365 blog, where I will be posting more pictures I took today while we were there.

After the compulsory puttering around there, we headed to the pumpkin patch. Because of course, when the tidal pools don't quite pan out, you need to sit in a wheel barrow and run through 1000 pumpkins to ease the pain.

Of course every good pumpkin patch has a taco truck. Duh.

I like the lop-sided ugly ducklings of the pumpkin world the best.

And then of course there's the old-fashioned giant bounce-slide shaped like a dump truck:

Hopefully his hair is hilarious enough to take attention off of the fact that his pants, like his hoodie before, are WAY too short (clearly they've ridden up here--how comfortable for him--but still, they need to go. Now. He had a growth spurt about 2 weeks ago & I cannot keep up in the fashion department apparently).

So Happy

Is there anything lovelier in your fall pictures than a taco truck in the background?

I am SO looking forward to this week; Husband is home, I'm hoping to get back to feeling 100% so I can start running and cooking again, both of which I will be doing to this song:

Florence and the Machine "DOG DAYS ARE OVER" Music Video from LEGS MEDIA on Vimeo.

Seriously, if you've not heard this song before, click the "play" arrow now. The video is a bit, well, CA-RAY-ZEE, in a totally mesmerizing "is-that-lady-gaga?" way. But the song is totally "I will run for miles with this on a loop on my iPod" motivating and "I want to dance around my kitchen while tasty things are cooking" inspiring. I just love it and can't stop listening to it & I've never shared a song on the blog before that I can recall, but this one is stuck in my head in the best possible and happy-making way and I had to share. So enjoy. And know that I"ll be listening to it so much in the coming week that the next time anyone references it, I'll be saying, "Uccch, I am so freaking sick of that song."


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Were You Cold Last Night? Very Very Very Cold?

Because hell froze over, my friends. Froze. Over. Hard.

The child? Fell asleep, in his bed, on his own. Like, as in, with NO parent in the room. And? No tears. No parents AND no tears? Inconceivable!!!

If you've been reading my blog for even 5 minutes, you know that Husband and I started out co-sleeping with Ethan, by choice. Happy snuggly baby in bed, easy breast-feeding access, no getting up and down all night long--worked out great for us. Because of his penchant for kicking and sleeping horizontally between us, we transitioned Ethan to his own bed at around 2.5 years old, but continued to lie in bed with him until he fell asleep until his 4th birthday. At that point, we moved to sitting in a chair in his room until he fell asleep.

We had planned to do a "Mommy's going to sit here for 30 minutes." then graduate down in 5 minute increments until he was just comfortable with us leaving after stories. That just led to Ethan being stressed out about how many more minutes were left before we got up to exit the room and ended in fits of hysterics every night. And honestly, if someone could promise me that said fit of hysterics would end in a sleeping child? At 4 years old? I would deal with the agony of hearing the screaming. But this kid? Strong like bull. And tenacious. It just wasn't going to happen within a time frame I was comfortable in for us. So fine. With a few deep breaths and a couple of attempts at reassuring ourselves that "he's just not ready; he does everything in his own time. We just have to be patient," we just resolved to sit in his room until he fell asleep each night. At least we weren't in the bed, human, adult-sized lovies, as we had been for the first 4 years.

But recently, as Ethan approaches 4.5 years old, I started to get itchy again. The "really? Am I going to be struggling to get this kid to go to sleep on his own when he's 16??!!" started to kick in (which for the record, I know is absolutely ridiculous). One night this week, after a considerable amount of him goofing off, I told him I was leaving the room if he opened his eyes one more time. Of course, he opened his eyes one more time & this resulted in me leaving the room and him dissolving into the aforementioned hysteria. And I decided something had to change before we both loathed each other AND bedtime.

So in a moment of uncommon clarity, I asked Ethan, "What can we do to make it possible for mommy to leave the room AND for you to fall asleep on your own like a big boy?" I had already suggested at one point that when I left the room I'd leave his bedroom door open. Alleviate those fears of being trapped and all that. He then said, "Maybe instead of going to the living room, you could just go to your room," (which is just across the hall from E's room, as opposed to the living room which is on the other side of the house entirely). Huh. What an idea. Sort of like Elizabeth Pantley's No Cry Sleep Solution. Except the kid thought of it himself. Someday he's going to write a book on "Getting Your Baby/Toddler/Preschooler to Sleep" and support Husband and me in our old age & all of this bedtime agony for the past 4.5 years will have been TOTALLY worth it!

Last night, we gave it a try. Read books, snuggled for a minute, I got up, left the room, kept the door open and went over to my own room, where I sat quietly, reading blogs and watching the TV instead of sitting in the almost-dark of Ethan's room, squinting at books or being enraged by Angry Effing Birds on my iPhone (don't even get me started). I went to check on him once & he asked for extra cuddles (um, seriously, who could refuse that???!). I returned to my room for more not-sitting-in-a-chair-in-Ethan's-room time and listened to him yawn a few times from the other room.

The next time I went in to check? Five minutes later? Out. Asleep. In dream land.

I *may* have wept a little bit. With joy that this might mean that finally Husband and I get to reclaim that hour we've not had together in over four years. And honestly, also with a bit of sadness that such a huge part of my experience as a mother, to the only child I'm going to parent, is likely over. As much as we've longed for him to become more independent at bedtime, every milestone is a reminder that once he falls asleep at night, he'll never be as little as he was today ever again.

I may be a little overly emotional and weepy about it because of the narcotic-laced cough medicine I partake in right before bedtime. See, turns out I have a bit of The Pneumonia, which is always super fun when your partner in parenting is 6000 miles away (and is also sick, so when he comes home, chances are I'll be taking care of him as well as Ethan). But I've been lucky with good friends helping out, and possibly the single most fabulous child in the history of the world (remind me of that the next time I want to run screaming from the house like my hair is on fire).

I do realize this could be another 6 month bedtime-related journey & by then I might be cursing that hour I have to sit in my room going back and forth while Ethan falls asleep. But right now? Sitting here typing this, and listening to his big can't-fight-sleep-much-longer yawns across the hall? My definition of bliss.

So if you're chilly from hell being frozen and all of that? Get yourself a Snuggie and get used to it.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What's The Story, Morning Glory?

Since yesterday was Tuesday, we didn't have school. Most of the time I love this. Seven days into quasi-single parenting it? Um. The day stretched out ahead of us like an obstacle course of melt downs, overblown demands and petulant sass (oh yeah, it's been fun lately). But then, as I was shifting things around on my counter to accommodate the excessive amount of apples we picked on Sunday, I spied the back of my bag of flour (score one for not putting things back into your pantry after you bake zucchini muffins 4 days ago! Laziness pays off! woo hoo!), and found a recipe for the most glorious muffin of all.

I had never had a Morning Glory muffin before moving to Los Angeles. I discovered them at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (and documenting my grief that there's no Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf up here in the Bay Area is a whole other blog entry, so let's not even go there). If you've never had one (I pity the fool), they are this sort of almost carrot cake but with apples and raisins and coconut (COCONUT!!!) and almonds along with the carrots and every bite is the most perfect combination of tastes and zOMG, its hard to believe I bother to eat anything else, really.

And then we moved up here and I bid a tearful goodbye to my morning glory muffins; I found one little coffee shop up here that makes something they label "morning glory" but um. More like "morning meh". So I *might* have SQUEEEE'd out loud (twice in 3 days! yay!) when I saw a recipe for the "Glorious Morning Muffins" on the back of the flour bag. So! excited!

So while Ethan was in his play room, "cleaning" (don't even get me started), I whipped up a batch.

The ingredients:
I wish my kitchen had a wall of window; the lighting is dungeon-esque in our kitchen and all of my kitchen pictures are depressing. Even with a giant bag of brown sugar in them.

Don't forget the entire counter full of apples:

I got to shred a lot of things, which always makes me happy:

zOMG, apples, and carrots and coconut and almonds, oh my!:

It wasn't until the first batch was in the oven that I realized that in my excitement about the carrots and apples and coconut and almonds, I totally spaced out about the raisins. Ooops. I had enough batter for 3 more muffins after the first batch, so I loaded them up with raisins.

Someday, I will learn how to fill muffin cups evenly. Really:

They are, if I say so myself, every bit as ahhhhhmazing as the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf's version, just smaller and less fat-ifying because of that. Ethan is loving them and let's see--that get him carrots, apples, and raisins all in one serving. Getting Ethan to eat fruits and veggies is not a bit struggle for us, but if it were, this muffin would be a life saver.

If you're so inclined, the recipe, from the back of the Gold Medal Organic All-Purpose flour bag, is:

2 eggs 2 tsps cinnamon
3/4 c veg. oil 1 & 1/2 c shredded carrots
1/4 c milk 1 c shredded apples (I left peels on)
2 tsps vanilla 1/4 c coconut
2 c flour (I used whole wheat instead of white) 1/2 c raisins
1 c packed brown sugar 3/4 c sliced almonds
2 tsps baking soda

It also calls for 1/2tsp of salt, but I never put salt in my baking--I'm really sensitive to sodium because of my blood pressure and honestly, I've never missed it in anything I've ever baked.

1. Heat oven to 350. Use muffin cups or lightly grease muffin pan.

2. In large bowl, beat eggs, oil, milk & vanilla together until well-blended. Add flour, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon & salt; stir until dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in carrots, apple, coconut, raisins and 1/2 c of the almonds.

3. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Sprinkle remaining almonds over the top of the batter in the cups (I didn't do this; I just chucked all the almonds into the batter when I was mixing it up).

4. Bake for 20-25 minutes.


If you're anything like Ethan, you'll enjoy yours paired with of mama's strappy sandals and a jaunty little evening-out wristlet, perfect for your ID and lipstick.