Wednesday, October 29, 2008


The San Francisco Treat!

That damn song was on a repeat loop in my head the whole weekend. It didn't help things that the trolleys really do give that "ding, ding" as they pass by - just like in the jingle. The only time I could shake the song was for that split second we passed through the intersection of Haight and Ashbury when I started to lament not having flowers in my hair.

After a grueling 12 hours of travel from Ft. Lauderdale (to elaborate further on the journey would reduce me to a shuddering mass of incoherent sobs and occasionally mutterings about flight delays and a child that won't sleep, that flails out to grasp at shapes that aren't there and soils herself in the corner of a dark room) we finally reached our destination. Manus had driven from Folsom that evening and checked us into our no-tell motel, turning on all the lights to scatter the cockroaches and spraying down the sheets with lysol to disinfect. That night I was so tired, I didn't even care - the toilet had that 'sanitized for your protection' paper sash on the lid and that was good enough for me.
Saturday morning we grabbed a map, fueled up at a bagel nosh popular with the locals and set off on foot to explore the city. That silly San Fran is one hilly place. We walked a lot (uphill). I angered muscles I'd forgotten I had. But what a great and beautiful city. The views, the architecture, the people and ding, ding goes the trolley! rice-a-roni...

We walked down Lombard street also known as the "crookedest street" on our way to...
And in no time we'd made some new friends.
(Forgive me in advance for this next joke made in poor taste, but you know I can't help myself and you know it was the only thing running through my head at the time (besides RICE! a roni!, of course)
But, here it goes - Hey! How come nobody told me you were having your family reunion in San Francisco last weekend? Imagine my embarrassment as I stumbled upon it....

Yep, there's your uncle barking at everyone again...

We had lunch on Pier 39- Oysters and crabmeat and lychee mojitos! Oh my! ding, ding! La, la, la la-la treat! Then it was on to the Golden Gate bridge.

Bridge Babes....righteous.

We walked back into Chinatown (uphill) and had dinner at a place our city guide recommended. The food was good, service fine, decor lacking, and english limited but the lady hacking through the ducks lined up in the window with a giant cleaver- that is what really made the meal special.

If I were to go back, however, there was a restaurant on Grant Ave called Yee's that was hopping! A chinese restaurant filled with asian people -that is where I would like to eat.

After dinner we walked around (uphill) looking for some family-friendly entertainment. Sadly, we struck out.
Except this place, they offered child-care. just kidding. But Katie, ever practicing her new words, pointed up and said "ah-pple". No dear, those are melons.

Sunday morning we drove to the ocean. The fog was heavy, my friends (eww, I just heard McCain in my head) and it was cold but I had to put a foot in the pacific.
Ay papi, que cute...

Sadly, we didn't allot enough time for the Golden Gate park - which is HUGE, so we had to settle for just driving through it (yes, multiple roads. and a botanical garden, carousel, polo field, bison paddock, golf course, dutch windmill, aquarium, planetarium, extravagazium!) Note to self and any future S.F. visitor - set aside one whole day for the park - cause I didnt even mention the museum, japanese tea garden, flower conservatory, archery field or any of the 9 lakes...

But we had to scoot because we had tickets for Alcatraz at noon. Very interesting place. I recommend.

Katie was misbehaving so we left her there.

I'm uploading all the pictures from our weekend onto Flickr. You can see them by clicking on the photo montage in the bar on the right.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Life's a Beach

Katie and I head back to California tomorrow. We've had a great visit in Miami but Katie misses her daddy and we are excited to get back to Manus. (no, not kidding, I'm for real...) We will be spending the weekend in San Francisco, right off Fisherman's Wharf and if I ever remember to book the tickets, we'll do the tour of Alcatraz too.

My mom and I took Katie to Matheson Hammock yesterday. Considering she lived on Miami Beach for the first 11 months of her life, this wasn't her first trip to the beach, but in some ways it was. This was the first time she played in the sand, splashed in the water, peed in the ocean, chewed on some grit, or picked up dead crabs. So, by those standards, this was her unofficial first day at the beach. (if by beach I mean the tepid pee-pool of an atoll like Matheson, which I guess I do).

Sure we were the ONLY ones there because we chose the ugliest day to go,

But we've learned its best to just to follow Katie's lead.

She had a lot of fun and so did we.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Top Ten

Top ten things I learned on my first "solo plus one"* transcontinental airplane trip.

*Katie and I flew from California to Miami on Wednesday. Manus was planning to come with us for the week, but ended up having to stay in Ca. to work. I was a bit nervous about the trip but we arrived mostly intact and certainly much wiser for it.

So, here it goes, donning my best Dave Letterman; "Top ten things I learned on my first solo-plus-one transcontinental airplane trip."

10. A crumbly scone at 5 in the morning tastes best in small pieces off a dirty airport floor.

9. Fears of airplane terrorism have reached an all-time high as now even toddlers must remove their shoes when being carried through the security checkpoint x-ray machine.

8. Due to the declining economy, airlines are now charging for bottles of water, in-flight entertainment and the right to preboard for those traveling with small children that require additional time to get to their seats. (Hello?! - that was the only reason I had children...)

7. After four 'false alarms', airline staff will no longer respond to the "flight attendant call button" being illuminated. (well, who put it where a toddler could reach it?)

6. Never, never fly USAir. A pilot walking through the terminal remarked upon seeing Katie's "drunken sailor" waddle, "Hey! I walk like that sometimes too!" -yikes. didn't need to know that right before putting my life in your DT shaking hands...

5. You can learn a lot about the guy sitting next to you by how high he jumps out of his seat when greasy baby fingers cross the imaginary line that divides your seats.

4. Never ask yourself, "well, what could be worse than sitting next to a baby-hater for the first 4 hour flight?" cause you will find yourself sitting in the MIDDLE seat between two less-than-enthusiastic men on your second flight.

3. Murphy's Law of Travel: If you make a comment in passing about how fast the baggage has been coming off the planes lately, your bag will be the last one placed on the carousel.

2. Peeing in a public bathroom with your child is no longer easy once they learn how to open doors.

And the Number One thing I learned while traveling alone cross-country with my child...

Saying "Hey, at least we'll all go down together..." is NEVER a good thing to say to someone in an airport, no matter what you really mean.

Friday, October 17, 2008

This One Hand


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Happy Birthday Esme!

Katie's cousin, Esme is ONE year old today. My, how time flies...

And look at what she can do now...


Monday, October 13, 2008

The Week Begins with The Week End

Yesterday was a gorgeous day here in NoCal so we took a drive up to Lake Tahoe. We were shamefully unprepared for how freaking cold it was. You'd think they'd have like, snow skiing or something up there to tip us off... A lot of the parks and sights were closed for the season but that didn't stop us from admiring the scenery, taking a few hikes and generally freezing our asses off.

We went to D.L. Bliss State Park and though it was officially closed, we surreptitiously circumvented the "Park Closed" sign and set off in search of the highly-publicized "Balancing Rock".
What a letdown. Granted we used the wrong park entrance so the "easy 1/2 mile walk" took over two hours - UP hill both ways, barefoot, in the snow, with 25 lbs of unhappy kid on our back - but in fairness, the name alone conjured greater images than what we got...

And, it turns out we aren't the only ones trying to fertilize eggs this autumn; October is also the spawning season for the Kokanee Salmon. We hiked around Taylor Creek to see them do the deed. Fish sex. silly. Actually, it was quite insightful. The female salmon (seen below with the green stripes) lays her eggs in the dirt and then AFTER she is done, the male does his business.
So help me, after a certain amount of "planned intercourse", I found myself envious of the salmon's independent contributions to the process.
Of course, they die soon after spawning, so maybe limited similarity is a good thing.

The brochure also says that as soon as the Kokanee mature to spawning age, they stop eating... again, there are little to no opportunities to compare myself to the fish:

Friday we had Wendy's for lunch. I only had a single cheeseburger (and fries), but of course, a chocolate frosty. We were lazy at dinner so ordered Papa Johns. Saturday was football day (GO GATORS!) and we ate the leftover pizza for lunch. Then on our way to the grocery store for some "healthy" dinner options, we passed a Pita Pita, advertising gyros. As you know, I was feeling slighted at the last few festivals so couldn't pass up this opportunity for seasoned lamb deliciousness.

Gyro pet-peev: Don't correct my pronunciation. I am not Greek, and living at Phelta Thi frat house over at the Folsom Lake Community College doesn't make you Greek either.

Me to the hairless muscle dude behind the counter: "I'd like a JA-eye-ro, please."

Dude to the grill guy next to him: "One HEEE-row for the lady."

Grr! I wanted so badly to say, "Hey, buddy, didn't you hear me right the first time? I asked for a gyro, not a heeer-ro", but I didnt want that loogie he had to hock up in order to pronounce 'heee-ro' to be added to my pita sandwich free of charge. A general word to the wise: be a little leery of a meal that requires the sound effects of multiple body functions to pronounce, "Give me that Heeer-ro (pa-tooie!) with extra Tza-tza-tzatziki (gesundheit!) sauce.

I digress, (surprise, surprise) my main point was simply that Eva Longoria Parker and I could use the same publicist these days; "I'm not pregnant, I'm just fat."

Photos from our trip:

Katie plays in the snow for the first time. (told you it was cold)

As with everything else, we had to know what the snow tasted like. Just so long as it isn't yellow.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Seeing pictures in the clouds

Katie is really starting to talk these days. Wow. That is a dramatic overstatement of the facts...Okay, Katie is really starting to make sounds from her mouth these days. I'm telling people to hear her talk is like looking up at the clouds. Oh yeah, sure, I can see Abe Lincoln on a unicycle with a feather boa drinking Tab in that cloud over there.. Katie makes gobbledy-goop sounds but if you listen closely and look at what she is doing, I swear sometimes you hear something that makes sense. The other day she held up a sweater and said, "Op de gop de gop" and I said, sure honey, I can help you put that on. It was really quite clear to me. Manus' look said "you are both deranged" but he has that look a lot so we disregard his input.

Other words in Katieland:

"boon" is balloon, ball, anything round.

"gog" is dog and/or duck.

"ga gan" - with hands above head means "all gone" or "I'm done"

"ch-ooz" - variable meanings.. shoes, cheese, juice, shit.

"ne-ump" - with hand extended means "I want some"

"ne-ump" - with head turned away and a dramatic wave of the hand means "nope, no more, stop trying"

"a-da" - that or what's that? depending on inflection

"ooh -OOH - ooh" means she just saw mommy with chocolate

Occasionally she will say "Dada" (Manus somehow hears it much more often than I) but still never will you hear her say "Mama". what a turd.

Other things that require little, if any, translation:

means, "guess who learned how to open a drawer!?"
means, "guess who learned how to open a cabinet?!"
means, "who needs toys?" (seriously, such a weird one -where'd she get that?)
means "mom was finally able to hold me down long enough make a ponytail!!!"
means "I told you I hate that flash!"
means "I really look like my mom in this picture" ergo, "I am obviously the most beautiful girl in the whole wide world"
means "my mom is friggin hysterical"

(and check out her rosary beads...her all-time favorite accessory. she cries if you try to take them... what a great little catholic.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Fun + Wholesome = Folsom

We are having all kinds of wholesome fun here in Folsom. Katie and I have set out on a few driving adventures to find all that Folsom has to offer. We've explored historic downtown Folsom, complete with Wild West style store fronts and an interactive railroad yard. We drove out to Folsom Lake and planned where to have our perfect picnic. We braved the Folsom Outlet Mall. We found a great park walking distance from the house. We even joined in on a free Gymboree class. And we did all this while Manus was hard at work. But the most fun we've had has been on the weekends.

We are trying to make the most of what Folsom, etc. has to offer. And this place is great for festivals. Our first weekend we went to the Folsom Gourd & Craft Festival and this past weekend it was Elk Grove's Giant Pumpkin & Harvest Festival. Neither had gyros though and they called their french fries "Freedom Fries"... seriously?

The Pumpkin Festival had a real patriotic feel. It was, as Manus would say, "A Uniquely American Experience". There is no question where all the McCain supporters were this past weekend. One guy was wearing a shirt that said, "Al Gore didn't invent the Internet, but he did make up global warming." Hmm, nice. Yessir, some real good 'ol boys live here in NoCal. But I say, "Why can't we all just get along?"

The highlight of the festival though, was the giant pumpkin regatta. Again, a uniquely american experience.

Katie enjoyed the regatta.

But I think she liked the fair food more.

Here are some more pictures of Katie enjoying herself...

Is that the funky chicken?

She's expecting a big haul this Halloween.

Poor thing is traumatized by the camera flash... We may never capture a good smile again.

**Just a note, some of the pictures are hard to see, did you know that you can click on them to enlarge?