Thursday, May 31, 2012

Olivia's Day

the only good part about having parents and in-laws who are divorced, is our child gets multiple "happy birthdays." :)

here are some other photos from our girl's special day
 I love this one :) our little chunkers coming down to see her presents..

Monday, May 28, 2012

My One-Year-Old

Dear Olivia,
I can't believe a whole year has gone by since you and I first locked eyes on each other.  Not because the time has gone so fast, but because I can't recall my life before I held the role of "mom".  You have changed my whole perspective on the world, love, the meaning of why we are here on earth, important use of time, and what it means to be selfless.  I never thought I could be so fulfilled spending all of my time and energy on another person.  The truth is the more I give you, the more I want to give you.  And in return you light up my days with sunshine and make me feel like the most important person in the world (your world); it does wonders for my self-worth.  You have turned me into the most emotional person in the world and I can't help but get choked up every time I see you laugh hard at something, or turn your face toward the sun to feel it's warmth, or learn something new and put it into practice, or fall and bump your head, or even just when I observe you playing quietly by yourself- making up stories and songs in a language only you can understand.

You are incredibly affectionate and give the best hugs.  Lately you will pat me on the back like an aunt I haven't seen in a while and it makes me smile every time.

You have a bright and sunny disposition, but your temper has quite the little flare-ups when you get frustrated or angry trying to do something (just like mom) and you have started to throw things to show how frustrated you are (just like dad when he was young).

You love to read books but just lost the privileges to all but your board books, ever since poor Little Engine that Could lost a page to your overzealous little grasp.

You love all animals and will make friends with passing dogs on walks.  When Tucker is in his kennel, you like to keep him company by sitting in front of it and talking to him.

You love to play with your cousins but are not so good at sharing with those smaller than you and we often have to remind you numerous times that Natalie does not wish to have her eyes poked out.

You love to dance to any music that comes on.

You can give high-fives, point your index finger to show that you are "one" (a feat I strategically started working on a week ago so that my little show-pony could be ready to amaze the crowd on her birthday *smirk, smirk), and will clap when you do something impressive or when someone else sings, does a trick, or when you hear applause.

You can pull your Duplo Legos apart when we build stuff and will help clean your room by puttin them away in their bin, put other toys in their bins, and help nest your blocks in each other.

You take a two-hour nap at 10am, one at 3pm, and sleep from 8pm to 8am (with a midnight feeding).

You love to eat pretty much anything.

You went to see the dermatologist the other day and he said you have eczema.  We got you a prescription creme and are trying different lotions and oils.

You wear 2t-3t and size 4 shoes and diapers.

You are 93% for height at 31" and 97% for weight at 26 lbs.

You are standing up by yourself like a champ and can take steps when holding onto something.  You took your first steps by yourself last night!

You have a forced "courtesy laugh" that you use when you hear other people laughing.

Lat night dad and I laid in bed and talked about where we were a year ago at that very moment.  I said "we were in the hospital.  I was just getting the epidural and our whole world was about to change." We love you so much and are so grateful that you were chosen to come to our family.  YOU, my dear, are my greatest accomplishment, but even I can't take credit for how wonderful you are.  That is 100% your own doing.  I am sad to let go of my baby Olivia, but so excited to have toddler Olivia and experience with you everything your second year entails.



{these days it is hard to get a sharp photo of my little wiggle-worm, and she has decided the camera does NOT deserve her smiles.  This is why this lower right photo of my darling girl melts my heart}

Sunday, May 27, 2012

love stories.

I love hearing about how other couples met.  (If you couldn't tell by the fact that I put mine on it's own tab up top).  It is not uncommon for me to ask new friends their story.  I wouldn't say I'm much of a romantic, but for me there is just something so magical and spiritual about two people crossing paths one day and then making each other the center of their life.  A lot of times it is by pure chance.

I would love to do a segment on here where I would ask my friends to post their "how we met" story.  I'm sure I'd learn some great things about my friends, and I could go back and read the stories and feel uplifted.

In the meantime, I just saw these stories the other day from two of my favorite bloggers.  If you want your dose of sweet today in less time than it would take to watch The Holiday, go read them.

Friday, May 25, 2012

new things.

This week I discovered three new things that I am pretty excited about.  Well, really I'm only excited about two of them, but the third will be a slight help with babygirl's dinnertime when I am tired.

1. If you make a solution with 2 parts water and 1 part white vinegar and spray it on your outside windows, it will get rid of the hard water stains from the sprinklers.  Let it sit for a minute or two before wiping it off with a soaking wet rag.  My water spots are mostly gone. I think after one more application they will be.

2. (the not-so-exciting-but-still-helpful-discovery)  The other night when I had no energy ideas for dinner for Olivia and just pulled out some baby rice cereal to mix with water, she was not having it.  I mixed in a sprinkling of cinnamon and tried again.  She loved it. I even tried it myself and it tasted a little like a pastry.  Cinnamon baby cereal+ store bought pureed veggies = dinner.

3. This recipe.  I was not thrilled about giving my daughter the traditional piece of birthday cake on her first birthday (Monday!  Holy crap!) to dig into, since she is not used to sugar.  I made this whole-wheat applesauce carrot cake as cupcakes for her to have as her birthday treat.  I'll spread a homemade whipped cream on top and birthday girl can get her yummy semi-sugar fix.  They really are extremely good.  I had to keep myself from eating too many so I could freeze the leftovers as muffins for snacks later.  I usually don't mess with a recipe the first time I make it so I can see what the consistency and taste are like, but next time I think I'll try substituting the sugar for some honey.  Also, my batter was a little dry this time and I had to add a splash of milk after combining the wet with the dry.

Applesauce Carrot Cake

            1 c. all purpose flour
            1 c. whole wheat flour (or 2 c. whole wheat)
            1/2 tsp. baking soda
            1 tsp. baking powder
            1/4 tsp. salt
            1 tbsp. grated orange rind
            1 c. sugar
            1 egg

            2 tbsp. oil
            1 c. thick sweetened applesauce
            2 tsp cinnamon
            1 tsp vanilla
                        1 lg. grated carrot

  Mix sugar with dry ingredients.

  • Mix liquid ingredients, including applesauce. Combine. Fold in grated carrot.
  • Bake in 9"x9" or 7"x11" pan sprayed with non-stick cooking spray at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.
  • Cut in squares. Serve warm with fat free vanilla ice cream or ice with your favorite frosting.

    Monday, May 21, 2012


    I found this blog the other day that I spent hours reading, it's great if you want to check it out.  Hair has always been a big part of my life.  My mom, two sisters, two cousins, and aunt are all cosmetologists.  I have spent more hours in a cape and foils than I would care to know.  By high school I knew how dye worked, and how to cut a man's hair.  My friends loved it and I saved saved boyfriends countless dollars on haircuts.  So I am by no means an expert, but hair has always been a priority :)

    I wash my hair every third day.  This wasn't always the case, when I was young I'd wash it every day because I thought it'd be gross if I didn't.  It's not.  In fact, washing your hair every day is extremely drying and experts now say that once or twice a week is enough.  Every third day is good for me.  Especially with long hair, I need to give my ends time to recoup from the heat of styling and keep my natural oils in balance.  If you are washing your hair every day, try going every other or every third.  It may feel a little oily at first because your body has been having to produce the oil to moisturize your scalp and hair required to keep up with you stripping it down every single day.  Wait it out and it will calm down.

    On to my next subject: dry shampoo.  I am relatively new to dry shampoo.  I'm going to be honest and say that the reason I went from washing every other day to every third day had a lot to do with morning sickness...and then having a newborn.  I didn't have the energy or desire to spend that much time on my appearance anymore.  I do happen to have an oily scalp though, so my third day was usually not one I'd spend in public.  I was hesitant to try dry shampoo because I thought it would leave weird flakes or feel build-up-y.  It doesn't.  A good dry shampoo absorbs the oil on your roots and then brushes or messes out and leaves you feeling light as air.  No flakes, no residue.

    Here's my regimen: On day one I wash my hair.  I use warm, not hot, water.  Hot water can dry your hair and shorten the life of your color. Only a quarter-sized dollop of shampoo is needed. I work it through my roots only and rinse out.  This first time, it doesn't lather much because it is glomming onto the dirt and product residue on my hair and scalp from the last three days.  After rinsing out the first round, I use another quarter-sized dollop of shampoo.  This is where I get the squeaky-clean-feeling lather.  Rinsing the shampoo through is enough to wash your hair's ends, they don't get much oil from your scalp.  When I condition, I put it just on the ends (well, halfway up each strand since my hair is long) and comb through with my fingers.  I've heard that if you do the final rinse with cold water, it seals in your conditioner and makes your hair more shiny but I don't know if that is true. (note: salon brand shampoos and conditioners really are worth the money.  They last forever and make your hair look better.  Also, use the right shampoo and conditioner for your hair.  Whether it's for colored hair, fine hair, if you need volume, moisture, whatev. it's all out there now.)

    I wait until my hair air dries about halfway and then comb some Argan Oil through (not on the roots).  Cara showed me this product (also known as moroccan oil) and it is miraculous at moisturizing and making my hair smooth and lightweight.  A few sprays of smoothing serum (near the ends) and volumizing mousse (roots and ends) and I blow out my hair with a large round-brush.  I then spray heat protectant on and straighten it on a cool setting (you really don't need the hottest setting on your straightener or curling iron.  Find the coolest setting that still gets the job done and use that).

    At night I clip my bangs back or wind my hair into a bun on top of my head so that my face oils don't leave my hairline greasy.  The second day if my hair is a little limp I might rub in a tad more mousse and run the blow dryer through to re-activate my styling products and straighten out any kinky pieces with my flat iron.

    The next day is dry shampoo day.  I spray it onto my hairline, part, bangs, or around my crown if it is feeling heavy.  Leave it on for a couple minutes and then shake and comb through my roots with my fingers.  I was using Beyond the Zone dry shampoo and liked it alright.  I just ordered Batiste and used it for the first time today so the jury is still out.  I've also heard that Sexy Hair volumizing is good, and my friend Dallas just informed me that Bumble and Bumble is great especially their colored stuff that helps disguise roots.

    If you haven't tried dry shampoo you really should.  It has made my life easier.

    the afterbath

    I love baths with my girl.  I get in with her every time and she likes to hold her hand under the running water and then sit between my knees and play with her ducks.  She knows she isn't supposed to touch the bar of soap (she can't resist having a taste) so she will always stand up and pretend to reach for it while giving me a mischievous grin, then laughing her head off when I tell her "no no no!" in a silly voice.  When she is done with her bath, she will crawl up into my lap and wrap her arms around my neck to say "okay mom, stand up. I'm done" and I will wrap a towel around us both. I love how soft and warm and sweet-smelling my girl is after a bath, and her crazy, curly, wet hair.

    Friday, May 18, 2012

    Love Lessons

    I read this really great article in Parents magazine this month and thought I'd share:

    disclaimer: I accidentally posted the link to page 2 the first time, so if you clicked on it and only read the last half of the article it is linked to the whole thing now...



    1. The organic cotton toddler shirts from H&M.  They are so soft and stretchy and only $5
    2. This orange julius recipe
    3. America's Got Talent.  Have I already recommended this?? It's on Mon and Tues nights on NBC
    4. I know you all have your favorite Cafe Rio order, but mine is a steak salad on a whole wheat tortilla with black beans and shredded lettuce.  Try it.
    5. This travel stroller (ours is orange), if you are in the market for one.  It's super light, reclines for naps, and folds easily. It saved our life in San Fran and is now our 'car' stroller to take out and about (our big Chicco stays home for neighborhood walks).

    catch all of my recommendations posts HERE.

    Monday, May 14, 2012

    Mother's Day

    This is the first year I am lucky enough to be counted in the ranks of those women who have the most important job on earth.  I love being a mom.  It is the most challenging thing I have ever done, but I can't imaging feeling more fulfilled doing any other thing.  Although the day was not the relaxing, pamper-fest I had imagined, it turned out to be perfect.

    What I pictured my first Mother's day being:
    Sleep in while Jack get's up with the baby
    Eat breakfast in bed with husband while baby plays quietly on the floor
    Put baby down for a nap
    Soak in a hot tub with husband
    Homemade waffles with fruit and warm syrup
    All three of us dressed up for church, gorgeous photo op
    Drop flowers off at my mom's and visit
    Dinner at mother-in-law's with whole family
    Another gorgeous photo with baby and her 3 close cousins
    Go home and snuggle up while baby sleeps

    What my first Mother's Day was actually like:
    Sleep until 8:00 because I'm used to waking up at 7:30
    Baby is hardcore teething.  She cries from the time she sees me until her nap at 10:00.
    She goes down with the help of baby Tylenol
    I spend her whole nap drying my hair and preparing a lesson I have to teach at church (Young Women)
    No time for waffles, husband makes eggs and prepares his lesson (Sunday school 12-14 year olds)
    While husband goes to teach, baby will not tolerate anything outside of my arms. Cries and cries.
    Our printer decides not to print my lesson, I spend my preparation time trying to fix it.
    With 5 minutes left, the printer spits out my lesson.  Baby blows out on her dress.
    I scrub the dress, throw something churchy on, and head out
    Husband takes baby home to nap while I get to Young Women's.  Realize I forgot my object lesson.
    After church I didn't plan time for the cake i had to make and we are late getting to both of our moms' houses.
    4 wiggly babies under 1.  Not so much the gorgeous photo I had anticipated

    Why it was a great day:
    Jack wrote me an amazing letter and a super funny photo-letter from Olivia, along with a sweet little book.  My iphone was also my Mother's Day gift, he just gave it to me early.  I love it.
    I got to comfort my daughter on a bad day and make her feel better.  It is nice to be needed and loved.
    Jack makes the best eggs I've ever had.  And he watched I Don't Know How She Does It with me
    My church lesson.  I discovered that when I wing it, I become hilarious.
    Spending time with my mom.  She gave us a sweet book and I love watching her with Olivia
    We got to have dinner with all of Jack's siblings and their families and got some great (and wiggly) photos
    Seeing Olivia enjoy her cousins
    A very thoughtful gift from Jack's mom
    My last-minute cake was delicious
    ALL of dinner was delicious
    A tuckered-out Olivia was out like a light and Jack and I got to eat snacks in bed while watching the Survivor finale.

    My grumpy girl and letters from husband

     Jacee (4 months), Emree (7 months), Natalie (10 months), Olivia (11 months)
    I'm sure you've noticed the great increase in size as you get to our girl :) she gets it from my side.  We decided she'll be the other girls' bodyguard.  A very cute and feminine bodyguard mind you.

    The wonderful mamas in my husband's family, with their babies

    Saturday, May 12, 2012

    What Olivia Eats.

    I am blessed in that my baby is not picky.  At all.  Olivia loves to try new things, and while she doesn't love everything I've put in front of her, she is definitely okay with most things.  This makes it super fun to feed her and watch her experience new foods, but I also feel more pressure to give her a variety of things so she doesn't get bored (as she easily does with other things).

    From day one I have been pretty strict about what I put in my girl's tiny body.  I am definitely a breastmilk advocate for 1,001 reasons and made sure I adjusted my diet so that she could get the most out of breastfeeding (I had to cut out dairy and gassy foods like broccoli for 6 months to keep her tummy happy).  I love nursing.  Besides the fact that it allows me to bond with my baby in a way no one else can, it is super easy and fast and cheap.  However, lately Olivia has decided that nursing is more for comfort than food and she needs more and more solids and less and less breast milk.  I'm starting to feel like she complies to some of the nursing sessions just to humor me.  It's okay...I can handle it (sob, sob).

    Anywho...As far as eating solids goes, Jack sometimes calls me the baby food police.

    When we go out, sometimes it is hard to avoid refined carbs and such, but we do the best we can.  A lot of places offer fruit cups, applesauce, or plain, steamed veggies. When we are at home I try to keep it as pure as possible.  Olivia eats a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and (recently) dairy.  She does not eat sugar, anything fried, anything that may contain artificial sweeteners, or anything fatty.  She sampled some birthday cake a couple of weeks ago and threw up because she wasn't used to the sugar :/ ...I always knew that I wanted to be this strict with her diet, and worried that it might be a lot of work.  Here are some things I do to make it easier or some meal ideas for toddlers.

    Thank goodness for frozen fruits and veggies!! This is the easiest way to get healthy stuff into her in a very fast and cheap way.  I buy the big bags of mixed veggies and do a quick steam, rinse with cold water, and dump them on her tray.  She also loves frozen blueberries or raspberries; I usually just give them a quick rinse since she likes them cold and they thaw quickly enough on her tray or in her mouth so that they don't become a choking hazard (if your baby is younger than 12 months or chokes easily, maybe thaw them and cut the blueberries since they are round).

    I sometimes get canned soup.  The veggie and whole wheat noodle variety.  Make sure it is low sodium.  I like to get the Healthy Choice kind.  Dump out the broth, rinse the chunks to get rid of any additives left over.  There's dinner.

    Hummus on wheat toast.  Cut into squares.  I get my hummus from Costco because they have a yummy kind that doesn't have a bunch of garbage in.  Or make your own hummus and freeze some so it lasts and you only have to make a big batch once.  Chickpeas (or garbanzo or whatever), garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper.  Done. Liv is crazy for hummus.

    Yogurt on wheat toast.  DO NOT GIVE YOUR BABY LIGHT YOGURT. It has aspartame in it.  And that is bad.

    When I cook for Jack and I, sometimes I am able to use components from our meal to make up hers.  I just make sure I separate a portion for her before adding spices or sauce or whatever.

    If what I'm making for us is unsuitable for Olivia, I'll just get a small pot of water boiling, dump in some whole wheat pasta or brown rice, wait a few minutes, add frozen veggies, and there's her dinner.  Oatmeal's easy too, boil up some quick oats and then smash a banana into it to sweeten it up.

    I try to give her fruits separate from her vegetables and carbs.  If I give them to her all at once, she'll eat the fruit first and fill up soon because, despite my best efforts, homegirl has a sweet tooth.

    Olivia loves popsicles.  I can't pronounce half the stuff in most store-bought popsicles, so I make my own.  I blend up water, a few scoops of baby formula, berries, and half a banana, then pour it in a popsicle mold.  The formula adds vitamins and makes them creamy so they're not so hard on her little gums.  They are great for teething.

    Wednesday, May 2, 2012

    Eleven Months

    so my post is a bit late because Olivia turned 11 months while we were in San Francisco!  I wanted to snap a few 11 month pics outside before the light faded, but babygirl was not in the mood to look at me and/or smile.  I'll take what I can get though because I know I won't get around to it for several more days if I wait.

    As she turns 11 months Livi:

    Has become a little mischief maker.  She has made it her full-time job to empty any and all drawers, boxes, bins, trash cans, and shelves of their contents. 

    Knows which things are off limits (laptops, the dog bowl, the pantry) and when I tell her "no no", she will pause and smile at me and then go right for the thing she isn't supposed to get into.

    Can pull herself up and stand up alone.  Her record is 10 seconds.

    Is still willing to try most foods, and while she may not finish everything, she is definitely not picky.  Her favorite foods this month have been grapes, homemade juice popsicles, smoothies, edamame, hummus on wheat toast, and (still) graham crackers.

    Wears 2t clothes, size 4 diapers, and size 4 shoes

    Still has bright blue eyes that draw comments everywhere we go, and strawberry blonde hair that is getting longer and thicker.  I love putting different bows and clips in it.

    Still has no teeth.  She still has two bumps on the bottom, but I feel like they've given up the fight.

    Likes to give me hugs lately.  When I pick her up from a nap or out of the car seat she will wrap her arms around my neck and lay on my shoulder.

    Mimics words or phrases we say, but doesn't repeat them.  And calls every animal a "dog" or "duck."  When I try to teach her a new word, she will just say "dog" over and over :/  She has her own language, which she uses to read books or talk to Tucker or her babydoll in.  It sounds like a combination of harsh, guttural German, and yodeling.

    Can learn how to do something just by watching now.  She watched me throw her blocks into a bin the other day and started copying me.

    Decided recently that she hates getting her diaper changed.  She'll scream and thrash around and I have to hold her ankles tight in order to keep her from getting....ahem...stuff.. on the carpet.

    Still sticks to her two-nap-a-day and 8pm bedtime schedule.  I still feed her once a night, sometimes before I go to bed, but if I'm too tired I'll usually just let her wake me up.  Lately she's been sleeping until 9am, which has been heaven.

    Needs some shoes to help with the standing/walking thing, but I can't find any I like for her.  After an hour of shopping yesterday, and trying 16 pairs on her, I was frustrated with how ridiculous the choices are for baby shoes we have available to us.  It's as if baby companies are not aware that most babies have very chubby feet, trip easily, and do not want sharp edges digging into their soft skin, or straps that are hard to buckle.  And I'd rather not pay $25 for shoes that my daughter will grow out of in a month.  The search continues.

    Feels like the more of my face she can fit into her mouth, the better the kiss.  If she can get my whole nose in, and then bite down, she looks at me proudly like she just made my day.  I pretend I loved it before discretely wiping all of the saliva out of my nostrils.

    Pinterest FTW

    Made these pizza roll thingies today for lunch.  Home run.  Don't forget the warm pizza sauce.  and ranch for double-dipping (I also made a salad with dark greens as a side so we wouldn't feel so bad). ALSO!! I am going to set the oven for 400 degrees next time, mine came out a little dark.  I didn't want to chop off any cook time though because I was paranoid about doughy, ruined rolls.. . .so try 400

    3 cans Pillsbury Buttermilk Biscuits (10 biscuits per can)
    56 pepperoni slices
    Block of cheese (Colby & Monterey Jack or Cheese Stick)
    1 beaten egg
    Italian seasoning
    Garlic powder
    1 jar pizza sauce 

    Cut the block of cheese into at least 28 squares.
    Flatten a biscuit out and stack pepperoni and cheese on top.
    Gather up the edges of the biscuit and pinch together.
    Line the rolls up in a greased 9x13 in. pan, pinched side down.  Brush with beaten egg.  Sprinkle with parmesan, Italian seasoning and garlic powder.  Bake at 425°F for 18-20 minutes, until dark golden brown.
    Serve the rolls with warm pizza sauce for dipping. 

    Tuesday, May 1, 2012

    San Francisco

    We had a magical four days in the Bay area :)  I had been getting the itch to travel again for a while, but wanted to go somewhere semi-close to avoid a long flight with Olivia, and also somewhere a one-year-old could enjoy too.  When I mentioned San Fran, Jack got excited.  He had been there before and thought it was a perfect fit for what we had in mind. 

    I couldn't believe how much extra we had to pack for one little person.  Half of my suitcase contained her clothes, my carry-on was her diaper bag filled with diapers, snacks and busy items, and we also had to bring a carseat, travel stroller, and pack n play. ps. Also, I used to plan my wardrobe so carefully for trips.  When you are focused on a baby though, you plan her outfits and then just throw in some hoodies and jeans for yourself.  Consequently, you look haggard in the photos.  Also, my Nikon has ruined me for all other cameras.  I decided just to take our point and shoot, and so all of our pics look crappy to me. Oh well.

    Our trip was a great lesson in perspective and focusing on the good.  First instance: I could have been stressed out that our flight left an hour and twenty minutes late, therefore causing major nap-scheduling conflicts,OR I could just be thankful that people moved around in the plane to allow us an empty seat between us for Olivia, and that Jack was able to stand with her in the back until she fell asleep.

    I have heard numerous times that babies have a hard time with the change in altitude, so I nursed Olivia on the ascent to help her ears pop, and she didn't seem to have problems.

    Lesson on perspective #2:
    When we arrived at the car rental desk the employee informed us that, even though we had reserved (and paid for) a car, he could not rent it to us because we had debit cards instead of credit cards (I've never used a credit card, and Jack hasn't for many years).  For a mom with a tired one-year-old, in a strange town, this could be a major freak out moment.  I'll admit, I was not very nice to Jack at this particular moment.  HOWEVER, after my husband explained our predicament to two other rental counters, Alamo agreed to rent to us.  Kicker: it was a nicer car than we would have gotten at the first place, and cost $50 less. Blessings. Glass is half full once again.

    Lesson on perspective #3:
     We got to our hotel, the Westin on Market Street.  It cost $48 a day to PARK AT THE HOTEL WE ARE ALREADY PAYING TO STAY AT!  We managed to find a close lot where parking is a cool $28 a day instead (sweeet :/)  then go to check in.  HOWEVER, They upgraded our room just for asking, and we then had a killer view of the city.  High enough from prying eyes that one of us felt comfortable walking around naked...
    Our first night there we rode the cable cars down to Fisherman's Wharf and then back up to the hotel.  Olivia loved the conductor, who was a gruff old fellow.  By the end she had him smiling and talking to her.  I loved the old cars and how people would just hang of the sides of them, sometimes coming so close to being swiped off by a parked car!  I told Jack I was surprised we weren't asked to sign an insurance waiver before boarding.
    of course we had to try clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl on the wharf.  It was okay, but nothing compares to Market Street Grill's clam chowder.  Liv liked the bread, Boudin's had it traveling in baskets on rails  connected to the ceiling
    Jack and i haven't been much for nightlife since our little peanut was born, but we stayed out later than normal our three nights there and then would go back to our hotel and all take a bath together to wash off the day's dirt, get in our pajamas, then put Olivia to bed in her pack'n'play in the bathroom.  Buba would walk to a nearby restaurant and pick us up food, then he and I would watch Friends on my laptop in bed.  We found an incredible burger place this way
    Friday we did my favorite thing, toured Alcatraz.  My favorite thing on any vacation we've had is sure to be the activity or place with the most history.  If there's a creepy or morbid factor added, i'm hooked.  Thanks to the advice of many friends, we booked our tickets ahead of time online so we'd be sure to have a spot.  We took a ferry out the the island, watched part of a documentary (I say part because Olivia didn't find it too interesting) and then walked through the cell house via audio tour.  They had some of the original inmates telling their stories on the recording and it really came alive for me.  I especially liked how they had so many photos of the inmates and what they had been arrested for.
    ps. a surprising number of the inmates were there for "kidnapping."  Is this what they delicately referred to pedophilia as back in the day??
     right here it says 'Indians Welcome' because, apparently the Native Americans roosted here for a while when they were kicked off their reservations or something. I didn't really pay attention to that part, I was all about the creepy convicts :D
     the guard tower and burned-out warden's house
    Buba channeling his inner Birdman

    after Alcatraz we had dinner on and walked around Pier 39

     Lesson on perspective #4
    We set out to drive across the bridge to Muir woods.  The main road out to the bridge was closed and so we had to drive an hour out of our way on residential detour roads, got lost, hit heavy traffic, etc.
    HOWEVER. . .Our long detour took us past an amazing park that we would not have otherwise known about, and by these cute little houses that I told Jack we had to buy (and the Clar and Tasha had to buy one also, so we could share yards and grow old together)
    Also, Olivia was able to take her second nap on the long drive, and Jack and I had a good long talk about everything and nothing.  On the way up, there was an old man selling fresh fruits and nuts out of his pickup and we got some amazing macadamias, cashews, and grapes. 
    When we got to the woods, it was insane.  The parking lots were full and there were cars lined up for two miles up to the opening.  My incredibly smart and savvy husband pulled right into the park, walked up to a ranger, and explained that we didn't want to push our baby in her stroller up the narrow busy road for two miles.  The kind ranger agreed, and my husband came back with a Handicapped Parking Certificate in his hand.  We parked within ten feet of the entrance (I'm sorry if this offended or angered anyone.  It really helped though :)  Oh, and the reason it was so busy was it was Nat'l Park Week and entrance was free.  Score again.

    Muir woods was incredible.  This was the only time on the trip that I really wished I had my Nikon. The redwoods, winding wooden paths, and crystal clear streams were breathtaking.  I've never seen Olivia be so content to sit in her stroller and look around
    This was our bench :) We joked about a scenario where we were somehow separated and then 40 years in the future I finally found my way to our bench and there was my Buba, sitting and waiting for me.  I'd sit beside him and hold his hand and we'd die on our bench together. :) It sounds weird now, but we were laughing pretty hard about how the rangers would find us and call Olivia and tell her we were found on a bench and how she'd roll her eyes.

    by the way, on this trip i practiced my new "picture smile" in which I try not to show three inches of gums on top.  I think it is coming along nicely.
    On our way back into town we walked on the Golden Gate Bridge and Jack told me all sorts of statistics about the high suicide rate off the bridge.  It was weird.

    I have a thing for crumpets, so I was pretty stoked to see this sign in Ghirardelli Square.
    I also got Olivia a darling little board book that uses numbers to tell the Pride and Prejudice story. Love.
     At the Ghirardelli shop I got vanilla ice cream with melted peanut butter and dark chocolate fudge.  It was incredible. . .until this weird girl sat at the table next to us and pretty much stripped down to her underwear in an attempt to cool off.  As if this wasn't enough, she then pulled her underwear bottoms to the side to cool off even further. When when we were done with our sundaes, she asked if she could have our leftovers. I said yes because why not.
     Our last stop was the maritime museum.  This photo is not a birth announcement, just a very flowy shirt I got whilst shopping at the huge Forever XXI out there

     The trip turned out to be a smashing success.  Thank you to all of our friends who made suggestions for which sites to see.  We had so much fun exploring a new city, the weather was warm and perfect, and I was happy to see we could do something like this with our little girl.  I know if I had left her at home it could have ruined the trip for me, I'm a little too attached and I think the anxiety would have gotten to me.  She was so fun and I loved seeing her experience new things with us.  I feel like the whole of San Francisco became enamored with her.  We had people stop about every 20 seconds to tell us how beautiful she was and talk to her.  The large Asian population in San Fran was especially taken with her for some reason and about twenty people asked if they could take a photo of her.  She helped us make friends wherever we went.

    On the way home Jack asked if I was okay that it wasn't a relaxing, chill vacation like I may have needed and I told him it was exactly what I did need.  Because it gave me a change of pace and scenery, and sometimes you need to get away to remember how much you appreciate home.  Today I made my shopping lists and did our laundry and it felt good to be putting everything back in its place.
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