Monday, December 16, 2013

Fall 2013

I'm completely procrastinating. It is Dec. 16th and we are flying out for KY on the 18th. I have LOTS to do and when I get overwhelmed, sometimes I sabotage myself. So here I sit updating my blog while I SHOULD be straightening up the house, doing laundry, putting away laundry, packing, organizing the clothes the kids have outgrown that I'm taking back for nieces and nephews, etc. Sigh. It's going to be a long couple of days. I'm feeling a mishmash of excitement, anxiety, happiness and dread about the upcoming trip. I'm so happy and excited to see our family soon, to see the kids happy with their presents and interacting with their grandparents, to enjoy the holidays traditionally where the weather is COLD! (It's 70 deg. here today.) However, I would be completely lying if I didn't say that I'm also feeling anxious and worried. I'm dreading the flights with the kids. I'm worried that I'm still not finished with the Christmas shopping. It has been overwhelming to try to have things shipped to Mom or Nancy. I just want to go out and buy things for the family without worrying if there is room to pack it (or worse...forgetting to pack it.) I'm worried about not having a home of our own during the holidays and if this is going to make me feel sad. I think I've adjusted pretty well with the big move, but I know that a lot of the feelings I have are still raw. One sight of our old home and I'm going to be in tears.

One thing I've learned is that things always seem to get done and there's no point in worrying. (Matt. 6:34) If I have to stay up until 2 am tomorrow night, that is what I will do. I need to spend some time reflecting on the wonderful gift and reason for the season. I need to stop and be thankful that we have the means and vacation time to visit our loved ones and not dwell on the difficulties of such a trip. I AM thankful. And please dear God, let these flights go well!!!

Here's some pics from this fall!
Sweet pumpkin shirts from Aunt Jen!

Pumpkin Outing at a local "farm." Please note the shorts and red faces. It must have been 80 degrees!

Hiking in the Marin Headlands with baby boy.

Hiking in the Oakland Hills Redwood Park.

Halloween! Emily dressed up like Tinker Bell.

Nancy sent us this adorable Tigger outfit which was perfect for Caleb.

Sweet Emily rocking her stylish hat!

One day soon I hope to write about Nan's SF trip and post some of those wonderful photos we took during that trip!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Fun in San Fran: Aug. 2013

As I mentioned in my earlier post, we lived at Edgewater apts. in San Francisco for a month before we moved into our place in Alameda. The first few weeks were very busy with house hunting, but once we signed our lease, we had more time to live a "normal" life in the city. Jeremy started working August 12th. He had a quick bus commute to Market St. We tried to do fun things on the weekends as a family. During the week, I was busy with normal mommy duties, grocery shopping, making meals, etc. I tried to take the kids somewhere every day even if it was just for a short walk along the bay, to AT&T ball park, the library, or a local park. I got really adventurous a few days and drove the kids to Twitter Headquarters, Golden Gate Park and Mission Deloris Park on my own! I wish I had more photos to share. Most of the time, I just took quick iphone photos, but we do have a few good photos from Jeremy's camera of our days on Berry St.

Caleb switched from belly crawling to hands and knee crawling while we were at the SF apt.

Caleb turned 11 mon. old while living in SF

Telegraph Hill is the name of the hill where Coit Tower is located.

Coit Tower

This is the view from the top of Telegraph Hill. We still need to take the elevator to the top of Coit Tower. The kids were getting hungry for dinner so we skipped it this first visit.

Caleb looking out at the boats. He had the perfect place to learn to cruise.
He would cruise along the window ledges and coffee table.

Here we are taking a ferry to Sausalito. Emily loved riding on the ferry.

It was a little cool and foggy on the water, but once we got to Sausalito, it was a hot August day!
(not like KY heat, though.) We enjoyed a picnic lunch and ice cream in downtown Sausalito.

Love my brown eyed boy!

This was one of the patio areas where we hung out a lot during the week. We had Emily's bike delivered to us instead of going into storage with the rest of our household items. She loved having this bike in SF!

Playing in the sand volleyball pit.

There were many houseboats along this stretch of water that led down to McCovey cove and the bay.

Hanging out in our "back yard"

We managed to find plenty of green spaces and places to climb for this little gal even in the big city!

Bye-Bye Edgewater! Thanks for the memories!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Early SF Days: August 2013

When we first arrived to SF on July 31st, we moved into a temporary furnished apt. on Berry St. We took full advantage of the 30 days the company provided for us in our relocation package. We definitely felt a sense of urgency to find a house and sign a lease, but it was nice to know that we had a month. (Realistically we needed to find something before Jeremy started working full time, so we really had about 12 days.) Prior to moving to SF, we debated a lot about different scenarios on how to find our next home. Would we send Jeremy out early to house hunt by himself? Should we all go together as a family? Should Jeremy house hunt by himself with me taking care of the kids at the San Francisco apt.? We knew it wouldn't be easy to drive around to several places a day looking at properties with two kids in tow. We also knew it would be terribly difficult for me to wrap up the moving details and sale of our house in KY by myself if Jeremy was already in San Francisco. Jeremy was adamant that he would not leave me in KY with the kids to deal with all the moving chaos by myself while he house hunted and started working. It was already a big, emotional move. Doing it without him would have been even worse. In the end, we decided we would do it all together. I'm thankful that Jeremy was able to take off several weeks of work and that we all got to experience living in the city together.

After weeks of cleaning, donating, downsizing, packing, etc., it was truly a nice break to live in a furnished apartment. We only took what we needed for a few weeks.  The rest was loaded up in the moving van, driven across country, and stored until we were ready for it. The apartment had two bedrooms and two full baths. It had a washer/dryer and a fully equipped kitchen. The master bedroom had a large walk-in closet where we set up Caleb's pack-n-play. He slept great in there because it was so dark and quiet! Well, it did take him about a week to adjust to the time change, but then he slept well! Emily had her own room and a large queen sized bed. The apartment had several nice amenities, but my favorite things were the outdoor patio areas with gas fireplace and the easy access to a nice waterfront promenade area that took you directly to AT and T Park.

We only took one day off to rest  before we started our house hunting in earnest. We had one day with a local real estate professional and then we were on our own. Daniel provided us with tons of information, set up appointments for us to look at properties, and provided us with an insider's view of the pros/cons for each city we were considering. We downsized to one car during the move because Twitter only paid to ship one car and our other car was very old. Also, we wanted to take advantage of all of the many public transportation options so that we would not have to deal with rush hour San Francisco traffic. As we looked at our options, being close to public transportation into the city (BART, Caltrain, or ferry) was very important.

During our first day, we saw properties on the peninsula in Millbrae and just outside of Burlingame (a highly desirable but expensive area.) We also looked at places in San Carlos and San Mateo. We finished up our day far out in the East Bay at Walnut Creek. It was a long, hard day because both of us wanted to see these areas to get an idea of where we might want to live, but that meant the kids had to tag a long in the car with us ALL DAY! That first day was a little discouraging, but we had already prepared ourselves for the sticker shock. It just blows your mind that in certain parts of SF and the peninsula, you could pay $4000+/mon. and live in a house that is not very nice and small. It was somewhat encouraging to see that we could afford a 4BR, 2 1/2 BA house in Walnut Creek. It didn't have a back yard (only a concrete slab) and it lacked personality, but at least it was close to the BART line and would meet our needs. I was very tempted to sign the contract on that house THAT day. I was terrified of not finding anything else that would meet our needs in such a short time frame. We had been forewarned how incredibly competitive the rental market is in the Bay Area. Properties often are rented the same day they are shown and have multiple applications. One family we know had a terrible time with their relocation and it took them months to find a suitable place (although their situation was complicated because they had 3 kids and two dogs.)

Anyway, Jeremy talked me into waiting. He was right for us to wait because I like where we landed much better! Almost all of the new leases are advertised on Craig's List. For a few weeks, we were on Craig's List all the time. We learned that if we were interested in a place, we needed to get there asap to check it out and have all of our stuff ready. (Deposit money, credit report, bank statements, letter from work verifying employment, and family bio.)

We were interested enough in two houses to fill out an application and we were lucky that in both cases, the owners liked us and picked us. The only problem was timing. We found out that the homeowner of the SF house we liked had picked us before we had a chance to see another top house on our list in Alameda. There was no way for us to see the inside of the Alameda house earlier. Jeremy and I didn't have a peace about giving the SF homeowner our deposit money before we saw this other house. Jeremy had scoped out the Alameda neighborhood. He felt that I would like it better and he really wanted me to see that house. We set up a meeting with the SF homeowner and asked if she could wait a couple of days for us to make a decision. We tried to convince her that we were very serious, but needed to look into schools and other things. We had paid a small application fee, but if we wanted the house, we really needed to pay her the deposit that day. She said that she would "probably wait until Tuesday" to make the decision. The "probably" immediately told me that this SF house was not going to be definitely on hold for us. Even as we had our meeting with her and she said she had picked us for the lease, the house was still being shown. As we drove away that day, I was worried that the house would be gone and a little fearful that the Alameda house would not be what we hoped.

A few days later, we went to the Sunday open house for the Alameda house. There were people crawling all over this house like ants on a piece of candy. The house was in a desirable area in Alameda near the "Gold Coast" and a short walk from a very good school. I had my doubts about it being right for us because this single family Victorian home was divided into a duplex. We would have all of the upstairs part of the house and the front of the first floor. The  back portion of the first floor is rented to a young married couple. They have a separate entrance from the back door. Nothing is shared other than the back yard (not much of a yard, more like a garden patio.)

After seeing both houses and weighing the pros/cons, we decided we would rather live in the SF house, but it was a very close call. We both went back and forth over what to do. Turns out, the decision was made for us. Once we called the owner of the SF house, we found out she had already leased it! UGGH! I almost felt betrayed, but I wasn't terribly surprised. We had a few hours of feeling stressed out because although we had filled out an application for the Alameda house as our back up plan, we didn't know yet if we would get it. Mercifully, we didn't have to wait long and we found out that same day that we had been picked for the Alameda house. I think I felt more relief than excitement. Jeremy had started working and had we not gotten this house when we did, the search was going to start all over and be very complicated. (Me and the kids looking for a house in a big city while Jer works? NO thanks!)

I've tried to put the other house out of my mind, but every now and then I think about it and wonder how our lives would be different if we were living in San Francisco. That house was a good $600 more/month. It is always nice to pay less for rent. It was also in an area of SF that is very hilly with curvy roads. I wouldn't have been able to stroll or bike with the kids very easily. It's in area that tends to be pretty cool and foggy. The weather in Alameda for most of the year is close to perfection. We almost never have fog and most days it is in the 60's or 70's. SF is usually a good 10 deg. cooler than this part of the east bay. I have parks I can walk to. I can bike all over the island. Alameda has great schools and is very family friendly. It's just a great place to live. Alameda is actually an island city across the bay from San Francisco and across a canal from Oakland. We liked having a local beach, good parks, and a vibrant community. All of my every day needs for groceries, shopping, doctors visits, preschool, restaurants, etc. can be met without ever leaving the island. However, I have easy access to the rest of the Bay area. One tank of gas lasts me a couple of weeks since I never have to drive more than 1-3 miles to get where I need to go on the island.

But on the flip side, it would have been nice to have more space and a nicer home in San Francisco. Jeremy would have had an easier commute. We would have enjoyed being so close to all that SF has to offer. We very much like attending First Baptist San Francisco and this would have been easy to do if we were at the SF house. The church is about a 45 min. drive from Alameda and is proving to be a little too far for us to travel every Sunday.

For the short term, I'm very happy with where we landed in Alameda. We have very nice neighbors. Emily's preschool is very good and affordable. If we send her to kindergarten next year, we can walk or bike to school every day! I've been attending a MOPs group (Mothers of Preschoolers) that meets at the same church where Emily goes to preschool. It has been FANTASTIC! I could go on and on about what a blessing this group has been to me. At least a few times a month, I have childcare for Caleb, a yummy breakfast with new friends, and interesting speakers to listen to and conversations with other mothers. I wonder what we would have done had we landed in SF? Would I have found a group like this? Would we have found an affordable, good preschool for Emily? We were very lucky to land a spot for Emily because it was mid-late August by the time I learned where we would be living and could search for a preschool.

When I look at the big picture, I am overwhelmingly thankful for God's provision and guidance during our move. Our prayers and those of our family and friends were answered in a mighty way. When you go through challenging times, you become more attuned to His work in your life. It is one of life's biggest paradoxes that you feel God's presence more during the hard times than the easy times. June through September of this year was very challenging for our family. Now that we have made it through the transition, I'm extremely excited about this California chapter in our lives. I have no idea what our future holds, but I know who holds the future in His hands.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Caleb's First Birthday

Our baby boy turned one on September 23rd. Being away from home for Caleb's first birthday made me very, very sad. Even though I knew it wouldn't matter to him, I felt mommy guilt for not being able to do a party like we had for Emily. It is a milestone that needs to be shared with grandparents and aunts and uncles and closest friends. It's a time to celebrate surviving the first year that is so wonderful and difficult all at the same time. I would have LOVED to have shared this special day with family back home. Timing wise, it just didn't work out for us to go home so soon or have family come visit us. My parents had just returned from a two week trip to Greece and Jeremy's parents had just returned from a vacation in South Carolina. Nobody could just hop on a plane and come for a quick visit and going home wasn't an option for us having just moved into our house three weeks prior.

We have met a few people from church and MOPs (Mothers of preschoolers), but we don't know them well yet plus it wasn't like we could throw a big party having just moved into our house! We decided that we would just invite one family--the Yeisers from Louisville. Elizabeth and David have been extremely helpful and encouraging to us during our relocation having so recently relocated to the Bay Area themselves. I have been in regular email conversation with Elizabeth since July. They are a lovely Christian couple and have a three year old little boy, Davey. I had been wanting to have Elizabeth and Davey over for a play date since we moved to Alameda so this was a great opportunity. Knowing we were having some friends over made it more fun to plan a few small festive decorations.

We decided to have a Peter Rabbit themed party on Sat. Sept 21st. Caleb has a small Peter Rabbit stuffed animal that we keep in his car seat. (Thanks, Dinkney!) It has kind of become the car lovey. (We have another one that we keep in his crib for sleeping.) He loves to hold it and chew its ears. So, a Peter Rabbit party seemed like a good idea for our little guy. I ordered an adorable birthday banner with Caleb's name on it. We had matching little plates, napkins, cups, party hats, and cupcake picks. I displayed a few Peter Rabbit books and set out a few of his professional photos for decorations. I made carrot cake cupcakes to go along with the theme (they were delish).

It was ironic that it rained on the day of his party. It had not rained a single day since we arrived, but of course it rained that day. AND it flooded our sidewalk! (The drainage ditch in the street gets backed up with leaves and debris.) The Yeisers literally had to wade through water to get to our house! Luckily, it stopped raining and the water was gone before the end of the party. No damage done!

I also served some other items not pictured that were on the counter.

Yummy carrot cake cupcakes. Is there anything better than cream cheese icing?

Umm, not so sure about his hat!

Look at those eyes!!! 

At 1 yr. check-up Sept. 24th:
Height: 30 3/4 in.
Weight: 21 lbs. 15 oz. 

He likes it! Success!

Jeremy and I got him his own personalized chair and a few toys.

The Yeisers--David, Elizabeth and Davey

New Milestones:

Caleb has been busy since my last update when he was ten months old. At ten months, he was just starting to cruise. He got really good and fast at cruising between 10-11 months. About one week before his first birthday, he decided he would start walking. Those first few tentative steps are the most precious thing ever. Of course we made sure to get plenty of videos. He tended to put his arms straight out in front of him (a la Frankenstein) to help with his balance. He would take a few steps, fall down, crawl over to something to pull up on and then do it again. One night in particular he practiced over and over and over again with Mommy and Daddy cheering him on and laughing at his persistence! By the time his birthday came, he was walking pretty well. A few weeks after that and he's kicking a ball and walking all over the playground!

Caleb is able to bend down and pick up items off of the floor without holding on to anything.

Throws and kicks balls.

Can stand up independently from the floor without pulling up to stand.

Quickly climbs flights of stairs (unable to safely climb down.)

Waves "hi" and "bye." Claps hands. Points towards objects and makes a high pitched "Hmmm" sound to indicate he wants something.

Drinks from a sippy cup with a straw and handles, but has trouble managing sippy cups that don't have handles.

Enjoys holding board books and turning pages. He will allow me to read a couple of short books in one sitting.

Says "Uh oh" when he drops something.

Caleb is able to say a few words now! He says "hi," Hi-dee," "mama," "dada," "ball," and "byebye." He makes a barking sound when he sees a dog and sometimes will say "Dog," but without the "g" at the end. Also has said "bir" for "bird." He tends to say "dada" a whole lot more than "mama." He calls for Jeremy all the time. I've noticed that he doesn't usually say "mama" unless he is in distress! He will call out for "mama" when he wakes up in the morning if we don't go get him out of the crib right away and he will say "mama" with a lot of urgency when I'm getting his dinner ready and he's hungry!

Eating and Sleeping Habits:

Caleb is now mostly eating table foods and feeding himself. I still give him pureed veggies in those squeezy tubes a few times a week because they're just so darn convenient for getting in the necessary fruits and veggies. I try to give him whatever we are eating, but obviously sometimes that doesn't work out if it is too spicy or something he just won't eat. I hope I'm exposing him to enough new foods that he won't be too picky. Already he eats more meat than Emily does!

I've weaned him to twice a day nursing sessions for in the morning when he wakes up and before bedtime. The rest of the time he has whole milk in a sippy cup with a straw. I'm going to try to keep nursing him for a few more months because it is so convenient for first thing in the morning and at bedtime. I haven't had to pump since we moved because I'm always with him at those times a day.

Caleb takes two naps and luckily he's pretty flexible about them. Emily's drop-off and pick-up schedule from school three days a week is something we have to work around. His naps get pushed back a little on those days. He usually naps 1 1/2 -2 hrs. in the morning and about the same for the afternoon. Yesterday he napped from 10-11:45 am and 2-4pm.  He goes to bed between 7:30 and 8pm and wakes up between 6:30-7am. Lately we have had some problems with him waking up too early which I attribute to his room getting too bright in the mornings. We have got to get some room darkening shades soon!

Me and my birthday boy!!!

Dad with his birthday boy

Small portion of Caleb's banner that was draped across the living room entrance

We spent Caleb's actual birthday at home. We sang to him again and let him eat another cupcake! :) We opened a few gifts that had been saved for his special day and did Facetime so the grandparents could see him walking and opening their presents. It was nice to be able to share a little in the festivities with them through Facetime. 

And a note for Caleb,

Sweet boy! You are one now! This just might have been the fastest year of my life. I really can't believe you are one already. Where has the time gone? You are a delight! (except when you wake up at 6 am.) At one year of age, I can already tell a lot about your personality. You seem to adapt well to changes (thank God). You are playful and quick to laugh. You're gonna be a ball player (You already have a nose for the ball!) You are a good napper so long as we keep you in a dark room. 

Right on cue, you walked in time for your first birthday. You showed lots of perseverance with learning to walk. I'm so thankful that you are able to say my name now. I'm sorry that we weren't able to spend your first birthday with all of our family, but you were a happy boy at your party and loved all of your presents. The grandparents enjoyed the show you put on for them as they watched you walk. 

Hope you smile big for the camera next week for your one year photos! 

I love you to the moon and back.