Thursday, May 29, 2014

Come on!

Caleb is 20 months old now and acting more like a two year old every day! This includes the improved communication skills as well as the "terrible two" tantrums. Yesterday he stomped his foot on the floor and yelled, "NO!" Recently, he threw himself on the ground and started kicking and crying. Thankfully, these fits have been in the privacy of our home and one of them was obviously pre-nap fatigue. I got him promptly to bed and he slept three hours peacefully and was in a much better mood the rest of the day!

One of my favorite things he does these days is take me by the hand (or pull on my clothes) as he says, "Come on!" He will tell me "Come on! Come on!" when he's ready to go outside or when he wants to lead me to the fridge to get a drink or snack. It is so cute!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day

This Mother's Day was my first one since we moved from KY. I can't recall a time when I did not celebrate this day with either my mother or mother-in-law. For most of my life, I also got to see my grandmothers on Mother's Day. Despite missing our moms, we had a great day. I think it helped that Mom and Dad just came for a long visit so our love tank with them is still full. Jeremy's parents will be here Saturday so we have that to look forward to. We were in a good spot emotionally and therefore we thoroughly enjoyed our day and did not feel homesick.

The kids got me a sweet little necklace and a pretty journal. We are going to use the journal every year as my Mother's Day "card" and keep adding things to it. At least that's the plan. We'll see how long we can keep it up. So, this year I had Emily's sweet little 4 year old "signature" in it and Jeremy is going to write a little love note in it for me. I guess we will let Caleb scribble in it, too!

We spent our day enjoying church activities and ordering food to-go! Jeremy picked up one of my favorite sandwiches at Blue Dot Cafe that's just around the corner. For dinner, he picked up food from our favorite burger place. I was most excited for our family bike ride. Emily just got a Trek trail-a-bike. I guess that's what you call it? It's like a tandem bike that you add to the back of an adult's bike. It allows her to pedal with Jeremy and stay hooked up to him. It is awesome! I'm so glad we got it. I lucked out that I found a nice used one. She and Jeremy used it a little Saturday for the first time. Sunday was the first time the whole family got to bike together. I love sharing activities that I enjoy on my own and being able to include the children. Caleb has a baby seat on the back of my bike. We biked about 3 1/2 miles to Bayfarm Island and back by way of Grand St. and Shoreline Dr. So, we had a nice Bay views for nearly all of the bike ride! It was a bit windy at times which made it much harder. Between the wind and Caleb's added weight, I was really tired by the time we got back home! I was so proud of little Emily for biking 7 miles! (with Jeremy's help) She did great. We stopped a few times to rest and enjoy the views at Bayfarm Island. We let Caleb get out and walk around for at least 15 minutes at a little park area there.

Last night I indulged in a few episodes of NBC's Parenthood. I really love that show and even though I saw most of last season, I've been catching up and filling in the holes with a few episodes that I had missed.

The biggest Mother's Day news I have is that we are expecting #3! I'm due Oct. 25th! This was a bit of a surprise, but Jeremy and I have often talked about if we should have one more or stop at two. I guess the good Lord gave us a nudge that we needed one more. I'm one of three kids and I love a bigger family, but I admit to being pretty apprehensive about how to handle the first couple of years with children who are so young, especially since we have no family here to help us regularly. However, one look at how much we love Emily and Caleb and how much love and joy they bring to our lives makes the fears melt away. How can we not love the baby of the family just as much! We are going to TRY really hard to wait until the baby is born to find out if it's a boy or girl. It will be really hard to wait, but if we can do it, this will be the best surprise of my life!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Part 1 of Nan and Pop's Visit: April 18th-26th

Nan and Pop recently came to visit us! We were so thankful that their visit coincided with the Easter holiday. It is hard to miss so many holidays and birthdays with family now that we're over 2300 miles away. They arrived on Good Friday. Jeremy picked them up at SFO after work that day. We spent Friday evening at our house and they went to bed as early as Emily and Caleb! (All day travel and time changes will do that to you!)

On Saturday morning, Jeremy and Dad picked up our rental van for the week and then we headed to Alcatraz for our tour. Well, everyone but Caleb. We hired a babysitter to keep him for the whole day to make sightseeing easier for everyone. The Alcatraz tour was a first for Jeremy and me. We decided to save that to do with visitors since we knew it was usually something tourists might want to do. We had a pleasant day to enjoy the ferry ride to/from the island. It was very windy on Alcatraz, but still fairly warm (for SF) and sunny. The tour includes an audio track for you to listen to and enjoy at your own pace which was quite helpful. At times, it was difficult to keep up with Emily as she kept flitting back and forth between us and the grandparents, but she did pretty well for a four year old.

Approaching Alcatraz
One of my fave pics of Emily from the week

Sweet girl and Daddy

View of Alcatraz Island as the ferry approached

Emily smiles even for the jail house photo!

After Alcatraz, I had hoped to do a cable car ride, but the lines were REALLY long at Fisherman's Wharf. (Never going again on a Saturday if I can help it!) It was a slow, long walk through the crowds from Pier 39 to the cable car stop. We briefly went to Ghiradelli Square and sat outside to enjoy the Golden Gate Bridge views while drinking our ice cream shakes. It was only a mile walk from Pier 39, but we were all tired from the Alcatraz tour (much of that was walking over hilly terrain) so it felt like much longer. In hindsight, we probably should have just taken our car and showed Dad more of the city. Oh well, Dad will just have to come back to visit us for his cable car ride! 

Sunday was Easter and we spent the day at church, eating out for lunch, napping, egg hunting, and showing Dad and Mom parts of Alameda. Sunday morning Easter service was outstanding at FBCSF. The funny story about that afternoon was the crazy time we had with our Easter lunch plans. I had reserved a nice place for Easter brunch in Oakland. Despite my checking their website and calling the restaurant twice, I could never find out the cost of the brunch. Well, finally someone answered the phone on Easter Sunday morning. I was informed that it cost $50/person for brunch. We quickly decided we didn't want to spend over $200 for lunch, especially with two young kids who have trouble sitting still for very long. So, we decided to try a local franchise brunch place called Squat and Gobble. There was a location near church and Golden Gate Park. Well, Easter fell on 4/20 this year which is like an annual "pot smoking" day. Golden Gate Park was having a 4/20 festival and our restaurant was located in a hippyish area near Haight-Ashbury that was roped off for the festival. A quick glance around at those walking about revealed that it was an odd choice for Southern church folks to have Easter lunch, so we bailed! We lucked out and found an acceptable lunch spot in Hayes Valley that did not have a wait. Thank goodness! The kids were getting tired and hungry which is never a good combination!

My little family: Easter 2014

Checking out the Easter basket goodies. Caleb was obsessed with his construction vehicles.

"Professor Mike" and Caleb at our church

This girl LOVES Frozen! (And so does Mom and Dad.)

Monday was Alameda Day/Yosemite Packing Day. I had a doctor's appt. that morning and it was nice to have the grandparents watch the kiddos so they didn't have to go with me. We showed Mom and Dad more of our neighborhood (Crab Cove, Park and Webster St., Shoreline Dr., Emily's preschool, our local park, etc.) Yosemite in April can still be quite cool, especially mornings and nights. I had to prepare and pack for weather temperatures ranging from the 40's-70's!

We headed out Tuesday morning for Yosemite. We were making great time when about 45 min. into our trip we realized we didn't pack the baby hiking backpack. Sheesh! We had to go all the back for that because there was really no way to do any trails with Caleb without it. We ended up eating an early lunch back at our place and then driving almost straight through to Yosemite (4 hours.) We didn't have time to do much our first day there, but we did enjoy the grounds at Wawona and had dinner in the hotel restaurant. The grounds of Wawona Hotel are BEAUTIFUL--big, old trees, lots of green grass, a pretty water fountain, and a covered bridge over a small stream. It was a lovely, historic hotel. Wawona is near the south entrance to Yosemite and about an hour from the Valley. It was close to the Mariposa Grove of Gianta Sequoias so that is what we did on Wednesday.

Enjoying the sunny day and the grounds at Wawona Hotel

So sweet!

My tree huggin' kids on Earth Day 2014

Wednesday morning, we enjoyed a nice (free) breakfast at the hotel and then headed out for the Mariposa Grove. We took an open tram ride through the upper and lower groves so that we could see as much as possible more easily. (Hiking to the upper grove can take several hours.) An audio tour provided tons of history and information which I very much appreciated. Caleb was fidgety through most of it, but we managed to get through without a major meltdown. :) We were allowed to get off of the tram ride to explore by foot twice. A convenient shuttle took us directly from our hotel to/from the Grove. It was a nice trip and had we had more than three days in Yosemite, I could easily have stayed much longer at the Mariposa Grove and hiked a few trails.

Don't mind us. We're just standing inside a live tree trunk.

A small portion of the Grizzly Giant Tree

This was one of the trees at the entrance to the park. This portion of exposed roots is pretty amazing.  Obviously, I can't even begin to photograph the full height of the tree. 

After a quick lunch in our rooms at Wawona, we loaded up to drive to Glacier Point. It was during Caleb's nap time, but luckily he napped in the car during our drive there. Glacier Point is one of the most beautiful vistas in all of Yosemite. Luckily, you can drive right there, park your car, and walk around to enjoy the awesome views without even hiking! There are several trailheads at Glacier Point or nearby, but we decided that it would be too hard to hike a few hours, drive an hour back to the hotel, and make it in time for dinner before the kids got too hungry and tired. I lost all track of time while at Glacier Point. Were we there an hour? Two? or more? I don't even know. It was SO beautiful. I loved every minute.

On top of the world!

Glacier Point. Easiest "hike" ever! ;)

Little Caleb got all the attention this day with his "Park Ranger" outfit. I mean seriously, he couldn't be any cuter!

Pop and Caleb are big buddies. Love how patient Dad is with him. 

Happy 8th Anniversary to Mr. and Mrs. Reiss!

This kind of looks unsafe, but I promise, we were nowhere near the edge! 

Caleb's response to the Glacier Point Views? "Whoa!" 

Love my girl's adventurous heart

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Part 2 of Nan and Pop's California Visit

Our first view of Yosemite Valley as we drove in that morning.

We checked out of Wawona Hotel Thursday morning and drove to Yosemite Valley. Yosemite Park is huge. We were actually in Yosemite Park while staying at Wawona and yet could drive an hour and still be in the park. The first views of Yosemite Valley just take your breath away. As we drove to the Yosemite Vistor Center along the valley floor, there were stunning views from every direction--waterfalls, sheer cliffs, monstrous rock formations, beautiful meadows, Merced River--beautiful. We got a hiking map and a bit of practical advice at the visitor center, and then set off for our adventures. (Check-in for Yosemite Lodge was late afternoon.) We hiked the Lower Yosemite Falls trail which was an easy, but rewarding hike near the visitor center. Emily, Mom, Jeremy, and I decided to get even closer to the falls by hiking a little off trail to the left of the falls over a few rocks. (It was safe enough. Dad checked it out for us, first.) This was Emily's favorite part of the whole day as she got close enough to the falls to feel the mist and got to scramble over rocks, slide down them, climb over tree trunks, etc. I just love watching her explore. She made Dad nervous half of the time, but usually she has pretty good judgment and awareness of her abilities. 

Lower Yosemite Falls

I love this pic of Caleb! 

Us girls. :) 

After checking out the views of upper and lower Yosemite Falls, we took a free shuttle bus to the trailhead for Mirror Lake. The shuttle bus is awesome. They come around every 10 minutes or so and make a loop around the Yosemite Valley area. We jumped off at stop 17 and walked a mile to Mirror Lake. It was a nice little walk and we were by a stream for a good portion of it. We found it interesting that our photos of the lake mirrored the surrounding cliffs quite well, but simply looking at the lake, we didn't notice that "mirrored" effect as much. (Maybe b/c the water was not completely still?) Caleb started getting REALLY sleepy on this hike and actually fell asleep IN the backpack. I folded up some clothing for him to rest his sleepy head on and he napped maybe 20-30 minutes that day. We just wore him out completely. 

We were all tired and hungry after the Mirror Lake trail. The Shuttle dropped us back off near the day parking lot and we got to our van and checked into the lodge. I wish we could have stayed all three days at the lodge. (It stays booked up year round. We were lucky to get a room at all during our stay and I called four months in advance.) We got such a small taste of Yosemite Valley. I had hoped to hike one trail the next day, but when we woke up it was misty and raining. 

Mirror Lake

Jeremy was a trooper to carry Caleb nearly the whole day! Not an easy task.

During our last night at Yosemite, Mom and Dad took care of the kids so Jeremy and I could slip away for a little anniversary celebration. We had planned to eat dinner at the Ahwahnee Hotel, but ended up just getting drinks and desserts because we couldn't wait until 8:30 pm reservation to eat. (We found a yummy Pizza parlor at Curry Village for dinner with the kids instead.) The Ahwahnee is simply gorgeous. Wish I had photos to post, but we only took a few photos with our iphones. I'm glad Jeremy and I had a chance to check out the dining room and great room architecture. This is THE place to stay in Yosemite, but it costs over $400/night. I have a feeling we will be back there again one day though. I'm not sure if Jeremy can keep me away! 

It was not fun to have to say goodbye to Mom and Dad. The trip went by way too fast. Good times always do. I'm thankful that my parents are in good health and have adventurous spirits to want to come out and do trips like this with us. I'm thankful for all of their help with the kids and how easy they are to please as guests. I worried a little that sharing one bathroom would be difficult during their stay at our house, but I never had any trouble. Mom and Dad got up early and were ready for the day with coffee brewing in the kitchen before I even needed the bathroom! Our sleeping arrangements also seemed to work out just fine. If Dad's snoring was any hint, I think he was comfortable! ha! I just love my family so much and I'm thankful for this beautiful season in our lives.