Thursday, September 24, 2009

SLO + More Vacation Part II

We headed down the 101 to slowly make our way home. We randomly decided to go to San Luis Obispo, and found it to be very pretty, though filled with overly-excited students having their first taste of life without parental supervision. We had to divert our kid's attention away from scenes in this little town more than in San Francisco! We enjoyed a bigger hotel there, some swimming, a visit to a very nice parish with such beautiful, hospitable people, and exploring the creek, and window shopping. A little creek that was fun to explore.
Jason took this one on a bridge just above us.

Inside the Mission San Luis Obispo.

Just outside the Mission, at Chumash Indian Memorial Fountain.
Hannah took this picture just before leaving for Santa Barbara. This was our hotel balcony. There was another little creek there too.

A couple hours drive south, we were at Santa Barbara. We hung out at the beach for just a couple hours. James was less than thrilled (he and his dad are underwhelmed by the beach) but Hannah, Phillip, and I like it just fine! We got our fill and then drove to St. Barbara's Monastery for our last night away.

Off in the distance are Jason and James "wooking" on a project. James is a very good "wooker" and after a week of being idle, he was thrilled to be useful again. Just above the greenery in that photo, you can see Thomas Aquinas College. They have a gorgeous new chapel that has recently been built there.

This one is a lover of fun. Apples don't fall far from the tree. The monastery is such a lovely place to visit with kids. Matins on Monday morning as the sun rose and began drenching the room with light was such a treat. The kids squirmed a little, but it was OK. The nuns are very tolerant and helpful.

An unimpressive shot, but I stared at this butterfly for a good while as she helped herself to some flower nectar.

Phillip was such a gem on this trip. He really hung in there with all the driving around. What a joy he is! And I cannot recommend Ergo carriers enough. If your babies get fat like mine, you need one. It has changed my life. I am not joking, people.
Overall, it was a fun but not relaxing trip. I hope we'll have more. The most stressful moments occurred driving at times when the kids were getting antsy/whiny/belligerent right as we were looking for a street or we were being annoyed by a lousy driver on the road. Jason and I said our favorite Kenneth quote to lighten ourselves up. There are probably more holy things to say, but this always made us laugh. My gift to you. It's better than a San Francisco shot glass right?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"Pack your bags, honey!" Part 1 of S Family Vacation

We have returned from a very last minute but wonderful family vacation. This trip was planned for October but Jason's work will be too busy by then, so his boss gave him the go-ahead to take off, like, the very next day for a week. So I got the call while I was at the park, got home to do about 5 loads of laundry, pack the bags, clean the house, and inform our neighbors and family. We left the next day (which was really the middle of the night) at 3am and carried our little darlings to their car seats and drove North. Shortly after noon, by aide of swift driving, some Wind in the Willows on cd, soundtracks to our kids favorite musicals, singing with ridiculous hand motions, and a few stops for a certain two year old to poop in his little potty on the side of the I-5, WE WERE HERE:

Where can you smell the sea lion's a mile away and laugh at there dog-like antics?
That's San Francisco, in case you're like me and don't get out much. We were excited, to say the least. A whole week to be with daddy, to make memories, to annoy each other in small hotel rooms, and then to swoon over each other while sipping Ghirardelli hot cocoa. We hurt our necks gazing at redwoods, and relished being corny tourists giddy while driving across the Golden Gate Bridge. The city was absolutely beautiful.

Our favorite things there:

Ghirardelli treats.

Golden Gate Park

Chinese food in China Town
Shopping in China Town
Huge bridges
Muir Woods
Fisherman's Wharf - especially getting bread bowls with fresh clam chowder

Easy public transit

How everything looks cool there. Even the gum spots on the streets look like they are just adding character.

It was rather adventurous, traveling up and down the city with little ones. We found the town to be friendly and clean. I made a nice friend at the park one day - a local grandma who takes care of her grandson. She gave us a tour of an Aids memorial area of the park, where we went on a rugged walk amongst a redwood grove, pushing our double stroller to the limit. It was such a gorgeous day with perfect weather.
Everywhere we went we had friendly and helpful locals happy to give us some tips and directions. I wasn't sure how family-friendly the town was going to be, but it was great! The most personally upsetting thing I saw were the ads on every other bus by an atheist group with "Imagine No Religion" in large churchy writing. It made me a little sad, but whatever, it's a free country. Although, I do remember vaguely hearing about this guy Lenin, who had a similar vision. I'm sure if you ask people who lived through the Soviet Union, they'll tell you it was loads of fun and was so perfect and ideal. Anyway. There was a huge pro-life banner near our hotel on Lombard St., and that made me smile. I'm always ready to rejoice over some light.
On Friday, we went to Vespers at the Cathedral. It was so special to be there to pray to God (even in Russian, we could get a sense of the service, and of what was being prayed) and to venerate a much loved saint who is so special to our family. It's his lamp oil I smooth over my children's foreheads when they are ill, and his icon that accompanies a sick child to bed. I sense his intercessions for us on a regular basis. The prayers of this righteous man are very effective. Holy Saint John, pray to God for us!
After three nights, we were ready to leave our ho-hum motel and say goodbye to SF. We decided to follow my friend Jamie's advice, and got a suite. We set off next for San Luis Obispo for less hustle bustle and more time to relax.
And btw, dear Erin, we thought of you way too late in our stay...and shame on us for not somehow trying to get a hold of you and buying you a beer. I make a metanoia before you and blame my scatter-brainedness on traveling with three small children. Sorry.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Tiny Bit

"Tiny bit" is something James likes to say. So in order to move my last blog down, here is a tiny bit of happenings and goofy things bouncing around my mind.

-Hannah said today, while planning her birthday when she is a much older girl, like her Auntie who just turned 15, that she would like to have a party with boys and girls at a park. She will make a Thundercake with strawberries, have a bowl full of candies that the kids can grab - GET THIS...Any time they want. And they will play games that older kids like to play like I Can Do That, because that is a good family game. Also, she thinks they would like to play flashcards. Jason and I can come too. I love that girl.

-Today James was such a crybaby. This very cute little boy who is smaller and younger than James was in a rambunctious mood and kept pushing James. My son kept going WAAA WAA WAAA the whole time at the kid's museum. He was tired so I think it made him have a short rope today, but geesh. So I told Jason about it and he made James practice saying, "Hey! Don't push me." And then James cracked up and said, "Hey. No puh Names." And then his daddy told him to say it mean. Then James growled a very loud growly-bear growl, and said, "MEAN!" He he.

-Phillip is working on a couple of teeth. He has two already which are so adorable. We call him snaggle tooth or hippopotamus, because they look like hippo teeth since one is on the top and the other is on the bottom. He's fat and cute, and everything I love in babies. Last night he was sitting up on the floor while James' class was doing a craft. Our Presbytera (priest's wife) asked if he ever fell backwards and I was all, "Well, he hasn't in a while, so I'm sorta holding my breath here while I help this kid, but I think he's good..." and so I ended up sitting down next to Phil to make sure he didn't. But shortly thereafter he did, while I was right next to him. And it was pretty hard, poor guy. He cried, I nursed, then we were both OK. That kind of stuff always happens to me.

-One day when we were visiting some friends, I told them proudly that I potty-trained James. He shortly thereafter peed all over their carpet. Wonderful.

-We've got lots of tomatoes and chili peppers. I foresee lots of hot salsa this Labor Day weekend.

-It's getting a little darker in the evenings, which makes bedtime for my kids easier, which reminds me it's about that time.

Have a good weekend!