Archive for the 'San Francisco' Category

Orange ya glad you don’t smell like oranges?

I’m constantly writing notes and observations to myself: blog topics, funny things Claire does or says, plot twists for my book.

The easiest way for me to do this is to email myself. Then, when I have the time to focus on them, I either use them or file them away.

Today is the day that I address the one I sent to myself on August 29th. Yes, of 2010. We were in San Francisco, and I’d just given Claire a bath. Rather than lug all of our toiletries with us, we were using the shampoo provided by the hotel. This is sometimes a gamble, but it definitely paid off at this location.

This hotel was niiiiice. I may or may not have stuffed all the little unused bottles of these toiletries in my suitcase to take home. No, I’m not becoming my inlaws, so stop looking at me like that.

Anyway…

As I’m lathering up her hair, she starts to complain, which is odd, because she normally likes this part of the routine.

“Uggggghhhhh!” she says, sputtering.

“What’s wrong?” I ask.

“This shampoo does NOT smell like princesses!” she shouts, the displeasure of the whole situation crinkling her own delicate princess nose.

“What do princesses smell like?” I ask.

“Well, they DON’T smell like ORANGES.”

I guess you had to be there, but it struck me as so funny and I couldn’t stop laughing. Not sure what princesses smell like? Well, we’ve started to narrow it down… 🙂

Voices

For I don’t know how long, I’ve been doing voices for Claire’s dolls. She knows on one level, that it’s me doing the talking but the magic of it all takes over, and there comes a point when I truly think she is having real conversations with them.

Ann and Andy with Puppy while on our trip to San Francisco

It all started with Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy. Ann talks in a really soft, almost breathless, slightly higher pitched voice. She is one of the most considerate dolls I know. She gets very concerned about Claire, and about everyone, really.  Her favorite phrase is, “That’s wonderful, Sweetheart!”  She’s really good at calming Andy down when he loses his hat.

Andy sounds dangerously like Cartman. (Yes, from SouthPark. I’m sorry. It just happened.) He has more of a temper, but he tries to keep it in check. His hat is very distracting to him, and he tells Claire that. A lot. First, his hat was permanently attached to his head, and this was very distracting. He and Ann and Claire convinced Momma to clip the little thread attaching it. Momma warned them all that it would be easier to lose Andy’s hat, but no one listened to her.

Now, Andy can take a bath (Imaginary! They don’t go in real water.) without his hat, which is much less distracting to him than it was with the hat, but now he loses his hat all the time. Now, this is distracting. Claire thinks his distress is the funniest thing ever. Ann, on the other hand, is always concerned.  “It’s all right, Andy.  I’m sure we’ll find it.  Claire is wonderful at finding such things.”

Some other things to know about Ann and Andy: A conversation with them can make Claire do the weirdest things. They convince her to get her clothes on in the morning before her Momma asks her to. They get her to brush her hair and her teeth without being asked.

Momma really likes Ann and Andy.

(Side note: When they ride with us in the car, they either have to take a nap or dance to the music, because Momma has to pay attention to the traffic. Those dolls have moves!)

Fred the Garden Gnome

A while ago, we discovered that Ann and Andy aren’t the only ones in the house that can speak. In addition to Mariposa, a little stuffed butterfly that only speaks in Spanish, we have Fred, the garden gnome who is staying on our kitchen counter.  He also talks. He’s British. His accent would make John Cleese proud.

Fred and Claire have the most hilarious conversations every day. Fred tends to get flustered by things and take things way too literally. For example, when Claire told him that she got her shots, and he was just sure that the nurses were using guns!  Or bows and arrows!  Or perhaps sling-shots! He also tries to eat the bun on Claire’s head before she goes to Ballet Class. Claire loves setting him straight.

Fred is also deathly afraid of babies. (He thinks they have fangs! And claws! Silly Fred.) He was really surprised that Claire came back from visiting baby Everett unscathed.

I’m not sure how long this stage will last. We’ve been playing this game for a while, so its days may be numbered. Or not. As Ann would say in a breathlessly hopeful voice, “Don’t worry. It will all work out.”

Mr. CasualPerfect took a pretty cool photo

You’ve seen this photo before, but I wanted to take this time to officially enter it in a photo contest.  (Click on the “Greeblepix Contest” above to see more details!)  He took it with our little point-and-shoot camera, and I love it!

Click on the photo to enlarge.

Title: The Red Bucket
Taken by: My husband, Mr. CasualPerfect
Location: On our trip to San Francisco, CA
Date: August 28, 2010
Camera Stats: Canon PowerShot Digital Elph
Touch Up: None

San Francisco: Redefining “boring” one public transit ride at a time

Well, are you ready for some San Francisco stories of adventure?

The short version? We had a great trip! Claire has always been a fantastic traveler, and this was no exception.

The longer version? Grab a drink; sit back and get comfy…and fasten your seat belts.  I’m afraid this may be a bumpy ride in parts, quite literally…

Speaking of transportation, we bought a “Seven Day Passport” that allowed us to ride the MUNI and public transit all day, every day, regardless of “type” (the cable car, street-car, bus, and train were included…except BART, but that’s okay, because we weren’t headed in BART’s direction anyway) all the days of our stay for a one-time relatively low fee. Claire was free to ride anyway, and after a couple roundtrips on anything, we’d paid for the pass.  We HIGHLY recommend this option if you are a car-less tourist in San Fran. Of course, when we got to Daddy’s fancy-schmancy hotel, we were informed that the room CAME WITH A CAR that could be “arranged for free” for our stay.

We opted to stick with our passes and explore on foot, not wanting to tackle the driving and parking challenges of San Francisco.

In other news, I’m completely spoiled and may never stay in a “regular hotel” again. Just kidding.

Our trip wouldn’t have been an adventure without at least a little drama, and we definitely had some drama!

On Tuesday the 31st, we decided to combine our trip to explore the Mission District with our Letterboxing obsession, and we found a couple treasures! Perfect! After dinner, it was time to head back to the hotel, and we got on the bus.

Because we’d already been in San Fran for a few days at that point, we felt like experts. We knew which bus we needed, and we found it with ease.  I thought it was a bit odd that the front half of the super-long “double” bus was almost empty, but we were happy to find seats and sat down.

That’s when the screaming started. A woman next to us started screaming obscenities, out loud, to no one in particular and everyone within earshot. I told Claire to just focus on me, and not pay attention to the woman, but it was hard. My husband and I debated getting off the bus and catching the next one, but then the woman got up from her seat and started weaving and stumbling around. Was she just confronting the demons in her head or getting off the bus? Surely if she wasn’t getting off the bus, she’ll be thrown off the bus for acting this way.

The next stop came and went, and she was still there screaming and stumbling, so we got up and went to the back half of the bus, not wanting to get off the bus just yet.

The screaming in the front of the bus continued, and not long after that, one of the people at the back of the bus started yelling at her and the driver.

Awesome.

This woman starts yelling about how the driver should throw “The Freak” off the bus or call the cops or both. She then started saying that if she was late to her half-way house again, she’d be thrown in jail. Again.

Seriously? You just can’t make this stuff up!

Then, The Freak at the front of the bus kicked it up a notch and got out these sticks and started hitting the seats. I am not sure what the sticks were, but they looked like drumsticks. She got dangerously close to another passenger, and when that happened, Half-Way House Lady in the back of the bus started yelling even louder and went up to confront The Freak.

As I’m typing this out, it all seems obvious that we should have gotten off the bus at our first inkling, but everything was happening in this weird slow-motion reality that is so clear when looking back and so confusing when it’s happening.

Now, the two of them are screaming at each other. There is kicking and hitting with sticks, and the bus driver is FINALLY calling the cops. He pulls over and gets out his phone. Right about at this time, Half-Way House Lady pulls a knife.

A KNIFE.

The INSTANT that knife blade flashed, I grabbed Claire and ran. With my husband close behind me, we bolted for the door. We jumped off the bus and fled on foot. I don’t remember how many blocks we ran before we slowed down. I remember glancing back at the bus and wondering if they were finally being thrown off, and if they were, we didn’t want to be anywhere near it.

It’s been a long time since I was quite so scared, and I’ve never experienced that level of alarm with Claire in tow. Yikes!

We knew we were headed in the direction of our hotel, but we didn’t know exactly how far away it was, so we kept running. I knew it was too far to go the full way on foot, but our choices were severely limited at that point.  I wanted as much distance between my daughter and a knife fight as I could possibly get.

We stopped to catch our breath, and Claire started asking all kinds of questions. What’s wrong with that woman? Why was she saying those things? Why was she hitting people, and why doesn’t she have all her teeth?

I used this as the perfect teachable moment about the dangers of illicit drugs. Drugs that doctors give you because you’re sick? Those are fine if you use them the way the doctor tells you to. Drugs like what this woman had used? Bad. I swear, this bus-ride was more effective than any made-for-television movie or after-school special.

I also told her that there was nothing to worry about. She was with Momma and Daddy, and we were headed back to the hotel. Those crazy ladies couldn’t hurt us now.

The area where we’d bolted and fled on foot wasn’t the best area, so we kept moving. I have no idea how much time passed, but the bus eventually caught up with us again. Everything looked relatively calm, so we got back on.

After plopping down in the seats, I looked at another passenger and quietly asked, “Are they gone?”

She smiled and said, “Oh my goodness! Only in San Francisco! Yes, they’re gone. I’ve never quite seen it THAT bad.” And then her eyes got really big. “Wait. You guys got off all the way back there!! You guys made incredible distance!”

We laughed about how we hadn’t wanted to be anywhere NEAR that. Yes, I laughed because I didn’t want to cry, and I hoped Claire didn’t notice that I was shaking.  It wasn’t until we got back to the hotel and I was alone in the bathroom that I left myself feel that fear.

WE’D FLED A KNIFE FIGHT ON FOOT.

On Wednesday, I was determined to make good memories to cover up the scary ones from the night before, so we rode the cable cars again. We’d had good luck with that on Sunday, and it was something I was comfortable doing by myself with Claire.  The wait in line was insanely long, but it was so much fun. In totally related news, I’ve been calling those things trolleys for years. They’re not trolleys. They are cable cars. There IS a difference. Who knew??

Anyway…back to the story. We went to the Wharf (Pier 39) to visit the sea lions, and we even had our portrait drawn on the way back!

Looking back, Wednesday was pretty boring. There were no knife fights, and we didn’t have to flee anywhere on foot.  It’s all relative, I suppose.  😉

Then, on Thursday, when Daddy got back to the hotel from his conference (around 3pm or so), our mission was clear:

We went out to the Presidio to find Yoda.

When we were putting together our plan of attack, we both laughed that the only “convenient” way out there was via bus.  We’d not had the best luck with the bus at that point, but what else could happen to top a knife fight?

So, we figured out which bus we needed, and we set out.  The bus arrived, we crossed our fingers, and away we went!  We’re going along, when all of a sudden, there was a terrible screeching noise.  That weird slow-motion reality is back, and the bus is jack-knifing in the middle, and people are being thrown forward and to the side.  People are swinging from the bars.  People are falling.  Everything is sliding.

In the blink of an eye, my right arm shoots out, and I try to catch Claire.  I try to keep her from slamming into the seat in front of us, but we both hit the metal bar and metal back of the seat in front of us with pretty good force.  Daddy was sitting in front of us, and he almost fell out of his seat, but he didn’t have a seat directly in front of him, and he was able to hold on.

Everything that slammed forward, reverses and stops, and we all sit for a moment in disheveled confusion.

Our bus has hit a car.

OUR BUS HAD HIT A CAR.

A car had pulled out in front of us, and the bus driver had slammed on the breaks.  He was able to stop quickly enough that the only damage he did to the car was take off the mirror and dented the side.  The driver of the car was very apologetic to everyone that got off the bus.

Yes, once again, we’re forced to get off a bus without reaching our final destination and go to the next stop, but this time, we weren’t fleeing for our lives.  This time, we were making sure we’re all in one piece.  My knee was bruised, and Claire was complaining about her chin, but I didn’t see a mark on her.  I’m pretty sure her chin made a bruise on my ARM instead of slamming into the metal seat bar. It all happened so suddenly, and without warning. I can’t believe I was able to catch her just before she REALLY slammed into the seat, which is really hard to do when you’re also flying forward!

So far, the bus isn’t ranked too highly on my list. 😉

Again, for Claire’s sake, we shook off the accident and went on in our adventures.  The above tweet was typed with shakey fingers after we were safely on the second bus, as I was pretending to be okay.  We were on a mission!

Successful at finding Yoda we were.

After our photoshoot with Yoda at the Presidio, we headed to the Wharf again. That evening, we rode a street-car back, and there wasn’t a knife fight, and we didn’t hit a car, so it was pretty boring…

…in comparison. 😉

You won’t see any sunrise pictures here

Now, when my husband and I get to Hawaii in October, and the time-difference is four hours…in our favor…you *may* see some sunrise photos, but we’re just not sunrise kind of people in the real world.

In fact, when we were on our way to the airport for our super-early-to-us flights to San Francisco, Claire got to experience her first sunrise.

“I’ve never seen a sunset rise before!” she said.

Her description makes perfect sense to me.

In San Francisco, we shared a room with Claire. She had her own bed, and we had ours. It actually worked out nicely, because the room had something else:

A magnificent window seat.

This photo really doesn't do the window seat justice. It was AWESOME.

As soon as we got to the room, she wanted to know if it was her bed! Had it not been so narrow and quite so high off the floor (seriously, there was a large wooden block used as a step just to get up IN the window seat), the answer would have been yes. But, as luck would have it, she got a big ol’ bed to herself and could play in the window seat whenever she wanted.

The window seat had wooden blinds she could open and close on a whim and had a wonderful sheer curtain that when pulled closed made the window seat into its own magical place with a barrier to the outside room on one side, and windows that opened up to the world on the other. The fantastically large windows gave a view of the city that was just breathtaking from our vantage point on the 11th floor.

Claire slept really well in the room. For some reason, the time difference worked in our favor. Yes, we let her stay up later than normal, but in reciprocation for that, she slept longer in the mornings.

Before going to bed the first night, she asked permission to get up and play in the window seat with the dolls she’d brought on the trip, and we obliged. “As long as you don’t wake up Momma and Daddy, you can do that!” …and it worked like a charm.

Every morning, we’d awaken to soft whispering and giggling and see this:

No, the photo isn't blurry. I secretly took a photo of her through the curtain.

There wasn’t a sunrise in sight, and it was the most beautiful thing imaginable.

San Francisco!

Last week, we had the opportunity to travel with Daddy to San Francisco! We had a FABULOUS time.  Just like any other trip we’ve ever taken, it was full of adventure.

I tried to be cognizant of the fact that our traveling partner is only about 3-and-a-half feet tall, and she’s only 4-and-three-quarters years old. Those things together can be quite the combination, but she was a trooper!

The first day we were there, we had the opportunity to head out to the ocean. This photo was taken by my husband, and it’s one of my all-time favorite photos. It hasn’t been doctored. The only thing I’ve done to this one is added a water-mark.

You can click on the photo to see more detail.

I love the expression you can see in her step. I love the soft breeze blowing her hair. I love how the red bucket glows in the sunshine. I love her reflection in the wet sand. I love how intent she is on the beach and that she’s completely oblivious to the camera.

I didn’t even know he’d taken this photo until we got home and I was looking through the camera.

I love it!

Over the next few days, I’ll be recounting our stories from San Francisco. If you were following along with our antics on twitter, you may already know some of the highlights, but I’ll share them in more detail anyway.

Stay tuned!