Monday, February 15, 2010

One year.

One year. Amazing. Really, AMAZING.

Love is amazing. I'm short on words tonight and long on love for the most amazing little peacock on the planet. I love you, Ned.

Always and forever.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

San Fran Day 4: Golden Gate Park

Saturday morning we got our usual early start and caught the Metro to 9th and Lincoln, just outside Golden Gate Park where there was a Lunar New Year Flower Market at the Arboretum. The market was particularly cool because it had scheduled performances throughout the morning including San Francisco's Red Panda Acrobats, Vietnamese traditional dancing, and the West Coast Lion Dance Troupe. Ned thought the acrobat guys were interesting enough from vantage point on Baba's shoulders, and the Vietnamese dancers were beautiful. But nothing compared to the Lion Dancers. We had moved down to the front row and sat on the floor to be right in the midst of the action. I knew the dancers were getting ready outside, so I escaped for a few minutes--camera ready, of course--to catch the start. Outside I saw the guys getting inside their huge two-man costumes as the drums began pounding at a near-deafening level. The lions began weaving their way inside and I followed. I was so excited to see the look on Ned's face when she caught sight of them. She's such a lover of adventure and takes such interest in everything that I thought for sure the lion dance would be tops on her list.

Yeah, either that or they would induce terror that I haven't seen in a year. Score one for complete terror.

As I rounded behind them as they took to the stage, my eyes met Ned's screaming, tear-streaked face and outstretched arms. "MAMAAAAAA! MAMAAAAA!" I scooped her up from Dan and she clung to me for dear life for the rest of the performance. Occasionally she'd pick up her head to see what the lions were up to, but only for a second or two before burying her head again. I kept whispering in her ear, "There are Babas inside of there. I saw them when I went outside. There are two men inside each costume. Those are just costumes, like how Big Bird is a person in a costume." She wasn't buying it.

This performance was fantastic. Like, 'hairs on your arms standing up' kind of fantastic. After the show, the lion dancers were outside with their costumes allowing the kids to touch the huge lion heads. After a few moments of hesitation, Ned decided these lions were pretty cool and she pet them, looked inside their mouths and even pointed out to me that the men standing by the lion heads were just "Babas wear costumes. Ohhhhhh-kay! Yike Big Bird!" Yep, Ned, just like Big Bird.

Afterward, we roamed around the amazing San Francisco Botanical Gardens. These gardens are free (they are part of Golden Gate Park) and are absolutely huge and gorgeously maintained, mostly by volunteer effort as I understand it. It is so cool to see how much Nedy enjoys being outside and checking out plants and such.

We headed over to the de Young Museum sculpture gardens where this hilarious man showed Nedy this trick he does with his reflection in the corner of the building. She thought this was amazing and stood watching him for a couple of minutes before looking up at us with this huge smile.

The Japanese Tea Garden in the park is phenomenal. We roamed around for a couple hours here. Nedy enjoyed crossing all the small, irregular stone bridges ("Mama, be cau-ful! Danger, danger!") and even climbed up to the top of the steep Taiko-Bashi Drum Bridge. After all of our adventures around the tea garden, Nedy announced it was time for tea in the little tea house. Let me tell you, this kid loves tea. She drank a half pot of green tea by herself, being careful (or 'cau-ful', as it would be) to "not drink yeaves". She also enjoyed the fishy rice crackers and gelatinous dessert.

Our day was winding down, so we headed on foot from Golden Gate Park to the Alamo Historic District where the painted ladies surround a park. When we got there, Nedy woke up from her nap in her stroller and announced, "Ummmm...pee-pees. All wet. Happy no." Apparently, that half pot of tea went straight on through...through her diaper, through her pants, through her shirt, through her jacket and through her stroller pad...yep. Good times. So we changed her in the park--fresh diaper, pink "China suit", Mama's sweatshirt and Mama's raincoat still riding in the sopping stroller, only on top of her waterproof changing pad. At this point we headed back to the hotel to address the great leak. So we started walking. And we walked. And we walked some more. It's amazing how things don't look so far on a map. Ultimately, we walked from Golden Gate Park to our hotel at the top of Nob Hill. Keep in mind the train ride from the bottom of Nob Hill is about 20 minutes... But we got to see so much of the city--including the "not-so-rosy" parts that the guidebooks don't talk about. Ned is now very familiar with the ways of the indigent.

Eventually we made it back to the hotel. By now it was 6:00pm and we just didn't have it in us to make the 2 block hike to the laundromat and then sit there for a couple hours. (Two blocks here can be a hike, given the crazy steep hills.) So we did things "China-style"--which seemed so appropriate, given our upcoming one year familyversary--and washed everything by hand in the bathtub and hung it on Dan's ironing board and hanger drying rack invention in front of the heat vent.

And then we ate leftovers, watched Big Bird in China and went to bed.

Ned woke up this morning ready to go. "Airport! Home!" We're ready to hop our last cable car down to the train. Pictures when we get home. :)

updated with photos!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

San Fran Day 3: Jen kills the laptop and a boat ride

Yesterday morning I killed the laptop. So badly that no amount of Dan's tinkering did anything. Completely frozen. I've gotten so used to traveling with a computer that not having a laptop for the next couple days wasn't an option. People live here, right? They need to get their machines fixed when they bust, right?

So we loaded up the laptop and headed out like locals to the Fillmore Street area. (And yes, the locals do indeed ride the cable cars.) A nice lady at Starbucks (first things first, after all) directed us to Staples where we dropped off our little guy for a full system recovery, along with recovery/back-up of photos. Goodness gracious. $200 later, we were out the door awaiting the "come pick up your little guy" phone call.

, I may have caused this little issue by shutting down the little guy improperly in the midst of a system update. I blame Vista. Piece of crap Vista.

In any event, no photos on the blog because the system was restored to factory settings, meaning we have no Photoshop until we get home and reload it. I'll update these posts with photos once we get home. Piece of crap Vista.

Soooooooo...after that ordeal, we stopped for the most delicious brunch at Crepevine. I had this awesome carmelized onion and cheddar crepe. (There are crepe places all over in SF...I wonder why?) Afterward we roamed Fillmore, Union and Chestnut Streets and took note of the crazy amount of high-fashion boutiques full of high-fashion people with, apparently, high-dollar wallets. Very cool, very hip, very out of my price range--especially following the 'piece of crap Vista' drama.

We took a loooooong walk through the city, around the Marina area all the way back to--you guessed it--the Wisconsin Dells of San Francisco (Fisherman's Wharf) for tickets aboard the Bay Adventure--a boat tour from Pier 39, out under the Golden Gate Bridge (Gold-en Gate Bij! Orrrrrr-nge! Mama, yook!), and then around Alcatraz Island. Nedy thought this boat ride rocked. The waters got rough out by the bridge and the boat began bouncing around quite a bit. At first she looked alarmed, but her sense of adventure (and the often related gut giggle) won out. She was fascinated by Alcatraz for some reason...she said she would live there when she gets older...Dear God.

We hopped the cable car back to the hotel and then over to Staples to pick up our little guy. Hooray, he works again. (Nedy, of course, took the opportunity at Staples to remind us that, "Mama...broke computer. Ohhhhhh, Mamaaaaaa. Cauful!" Nice.

Back at the hotel, we ordered Thai delivery and watched Big Bird in China until someone finally clonked out around 8:00. And I clonked out, too. Hence this 'day after' post. :)

Ned woke up this morning at 6:00! (We slept in!) Right when she woke up she announced, "Boat ride!" When I told he we were going to the park today and I didn't think we'd be going on any boats, she scrunched up her nose and said, "ummmm, okay...cabe-oh car?" Yes, baby, you get to go on a cable car...again. :) Seriously, the cable car factor alone makes this a great place for vacationing with a kid.

Today is a full day at Golden Gate Park. I'd post pictures of it tonight, but, well, you know... :)

updated with photos!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

San Fran Day 2: Chinatown

What a day! After our 3:45 wake up call in the form of a bed-bouncing toddler, I really thought the day was shot. But I don't give Ned nearly enough credit for being such an adventure-loving little being. She powered through the day like a champ. (And only took two 25 minute naps--she'd hate to miss anything, after all.)

We walked over to Chinatown at around 8:00 this morning and spent a long while at the square playing on the playground, watching (and in Ned's case, imitating) the ladies perform tai chi, and making pals with a little guy and his grandmother. Ned decided this playground met all of her vacation dreams and protested about our eventual decision to move on and see the rest of Chinatown.

I wondered how she'd react to Chinatown, what with its many sounds, smells and sights of China. Interestingly, she wasn't the least bit phased--even when ladies (lots of ladies, at that) clucked at her and goo-gooed in her direction what seemed every couple feet. She smiled sometimes, acted shy others, but really just seemed her natural, confident self. She kept commenting to us about who and what she was seeing with the usual interest and detail she approaches most everything. One of the funniest lines of the morning, delivered with a very serious face and over-the-top enunciation, "Mama, China, no." (Just in case I was getting confused, I guess.)

At 11:30 we headed over to Gold Mountain Restaurant for their huge dim sum lunch. This is the place frequented by workers in the area and we found it stuffed to the gills with folks making selections off the never-ending cart parade. Pork buns, rice balls, prawn-stuffed mushroom caps, and a couple other rounds of unidentifiable stuff later, our table was full. As we ate, we could feel eyeballs on us from all directions and, looking around, I found that we were the apparent hit of the dining room. People kept smiling and waving at Ned and then seemed to discuss us amongst each other. (Guess that's what happens when you're the only white people in the place and you happen to have a Chinese kid.) One of the ladies working there came by and asked Ned a few questions, then felt her head and told us that she was "very smart." Ned thought this place was pretty cool, most likely because she got her own tea cup. She slammed 2 cups of tea in 5 minutes, followed by a highly animated "goooooooood tea" announcement.

I decided I wanted to get Ned a jade turtle pendant for our one year familyversary, being that her ever-present stuffed turtle is her self-declared "best buddy" and that the Chinese consider the turtle a symbol for longevity. We went from shop to shop until we found just the right one, only there were two--one true green and one a whitish green. I asked Ned which one she preferred and she really thought about it. "Hmmmm... [eyes darting back and forth between the two options] Hmmmmm....I know! Green turtle, baby. White turtle, Mama! Match!" So, at Ned's urging, she and I now have jade turtle necklaces. She's such a little problem solver. :)

After roaming Chinatown a couple more hours, Ned began repeatedly asking for sea lions. And I do mean repeatedly. "Sea lions? Mama, sea lions?" (30 seconds pass) "Ummm, Mama? Baba? Sea lions? NOW?! Cabe-oh car?" Ohhhhhh, now we get it--sea lions are an excuse to get back on her new found joy in life, the cable car. This kid
loves the cable cars. After a quick hotel stop, we hopped the cable car to the tourist trap once again. The sea lions? Oh, they were fine. But nothing compared to getting there. (Hmmmm, such a metaphor for life...)

(My favorite photo of the day--tai chi mimicry. Just look at her appendages.)