Saturday, August 30, 2008
My younger brother came out to San Francisco on Thursday for a quick little business trip. He had to leave today at noon, but I thought it would be fun to try and see him for a little while. By the time we drove down and met up with him, we really only had less than hour to hang out. It was still nice to see him and we took a few pictures to prove that our paths had crossed. We stopped by the famous Ferry Terminal farmer's market and got some tasty pastry (and over-priced orange juice). The market is heaven for food lovers like me, but the truth is I'd probably be just as happy with my local market and it's not quite so far away. After dropping my brother at his hotel we decided to check out Fisherman's Wharf, since neither of us had spent much time there.
For the record, Fisherman's Wharf is extremely crowded, smelly, and commercialized. There wasn't very much to impress me there. But we still found a few bright spots. First we found out that if you get there early enough you can find four-hour free parking at the far north end. Then we spent quite a bit of time exploring the San Francisco Maritime National Park. The boats were pretty neat, and in classic small-child fashion the thing both kids liked most was the wooden puzzle in the kids' area of the visitors center. That and the recording of sea chanteys that they could listen to on the headphones. We stopped by the Musee Mecanique, but were a little short on quarters so we didn't see many of the machines in action. After lunch we started heading back to our car when I decided to stop off for a loaf of authentic sourdough bread. It turns out that the Bakery has a short little tour with displays about making bread and a view of the process. I've discovered that the kids love watching machines in action, so we need to find more factory tours to go on while we here (we went to Jelly Belly two weeks ago). The tour admission was reasonable, especially since it ended at a "tasting room" where you can sample breads and olive oils. My favorite was the chocolate chip-raisin bread (not dipped in oil).
After buying some bread and walking back to our car, S-Boogie requested a ride across the Golden Gate Bridge on our way home, and it didn't take us too far out of our way to do it. Little Dude slept for at least an hour in the car and we were still home in time for dinner and post-dinner family bike ride. My favorite part of the trip was the fact that San Francisco is cold. I got to wear jeans and a sweater for the first time in a few months and it felt great. Now I'm home and sweating again and dreaming of cool fog and sea breezes.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
But at least I'm getting better and tomorrow S-Boogie starts kindergarten (yay!). The only bad news is that we're having a "mini heat wave" and the high temperature tomorrow is supposed to be 105 (boo!). Maybe next week will be better?
Saturday, August 23, 2008
First of all, we've started drying our clothes on a clothesline instead of in the dryer. The weather here is hot and sunny, and we have to pay one dollar per load of laundry, so the choice was simple. Plus we have a little patio on the back of our apartment that's just right for clothes drying. I'm still trying to decide if I want to pay for drying my undies in the dryer; part of me feels uncomfortable about hanging them out for everyone to stare at when they walk by.
I've also fallen in love with the farmer's market here. We are right in the middle of farmland, so it's an obvious choice. Most of the produce is pretty cheap and I've managed to stay in budget while still enjoying some tasty things. I'd love to have more money to buy stuff like artisan olive oil or handcrafted tortillas, but for now I'm happy with fresh-picked grapes and cucumbers. (The grapes actually aren't a great deal, since they're $2.00 a pound, but their taste is fabulous.) The pictures here are from the 20 pound box of peaches I bought the other day. I stopped by a farm stand a few miles down the road and noticed that they had peaches for a dollar a pound. I asked the lady there if she would sell me a box and she looked at me like I was crazy. But she still did it and she only charged me seventeen dollars. They were beautiful peaches too--perfectly ripe and golden yellow on the inside. Now we have seven quarts of frozen peaches and eight jars of cinnamon-peach jam for the winter. Assuming they last that long. They could be gone by October.
Also this afternoon we finally got around to fixing up my bike. It's been unrideable for several years due to severe neglect, but while I was taking a nap this afternoon Mr. Fob cleaned it up for me. I need to have someone figure out why I can only ride in a few gears, but it is rideable now. This evening we took a bike ride as a family on one of the fabulous bike trails they have here. This morning I took my car to run errands and got a parking ticket for staying in one space too long downtown (and I'm still mad at myself because I was in the bank and should have moved my car to the bank parking lot), so I think that from now on I will be riding my bike down to the farmer's market instead. I just need to get a basket.
These kinds of changes really do require a lot of work. I spent several hours Wednesday night literally slaving over a hot stove making jam. Then I spent several hours on Thursday night peeling and slicing peaches and packing them with sugar into bags. My butt hurts from riding my bike, and if I were to take a car I could enjoy air conditioning and avoid helmet hair. Clothes dried outside sure smell good, but they also turn out crunchy. The nice thing is, however, that the hard work has benefits. I think riding a bike will help get me in shape without having to go to the gym, and I'm hoping we can cut our gas usage to one tank a month. And I'm really going to appreciate those peaches knowing how much work I put into them. Plus now I can have all kinds of liberal superiority and nothing beats that. I can my own jam and ride my bike to school. That must make me a better person, right?
Monday, August 18, 2008
Going to a new ward is also hard. The last two weeks have been good in the sense that I can tell there are a lot of friendly people here. But they've also been very difficult because of the political climate. One of the first things someone from the elders' quorum said when they showed up to help us move in was "have you heard about Proposition 8?". Um, who hasn't? I feel very uncomfortable because I don't know yet where I stand on the issue. I love the Church and I still have a strong testimony. But I also have many close friends and family members who oppose the bill for a variety of reasons. I love them and feel that voting for it would be a slap in their faces. I know that Christ taught that he came to "divide asunder with a sword" and that we should be willing to forsake even our own flesh and blood to follow Him. I'm just not sure I'm ready to do that yet, and I'm still a little shell-shocked because I didn't expect to have to make that choice just by moving to California. So I hope that people at church understand that it's not always an obvious or easy choice for everyone. And I've already decided that I'm not going to tell anyone which way I vote in a few months. I just can't wait until November so we can get back to our regularly scheduled programming.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Last month when we were at my family reunion I had to change a very dirty diaper. I took Little Dude into the small bathroom right next to the room where a solemn gathering was taking place in honor of my grandmother. He realized that his voice echoed in the bathroom and suddenly started yelling "penis" as loud as he could. I was laughing so hard I couldn't even breathe, let alone stop him. Thankfully no one could hear us in the next room.
Another favorite phrase of Little Dude's is "big, heavy"--said in a very strained voice like he's picking up something enormous. He'll sit in the bathtub and say "big, heavy penis" over and over again.
When we were moving Mr. Fob found my old magnet of Michelangelo's David and stuck it on the fridge. It's the kind that has magnetic clothes, and now Little Dude likes to stand there and take David's pants off while giggling "penis!".
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
But we made it and our now in our lovely spacious new apartment. And California decided to bless us with a heat wave this week in honor of moving in. It's going to be 100 degrees today, and the wall unit in the living room mostly just cools the living room and kitchen. Hopefully this afternoon we can go check out the swimming pool situation. Other than the heat factor we are liking it here. There are lots of trees and parks, the farmers market has great cheap produce, and we have a huge apartment. It's seriously enormous. Plus it has a dishwasher, a gas stove, and a nice little master suite with a bathroom and two closets. Hopefully once we get a bit more settled in and things cool off we'll be even more happy here. And if I'm not happy at least I have the internet to complain to now, right?
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
S-Boogie's birth story is pretty unremarkable. We had wanted an unmedicated, low-intervention birth and so we found a practice of nurse midwives. But S-Boogie decided to spend the last few months of gestation in breech position, and an ultrasound revealed some issues with my uterus that precluded turning her around externally. I did a bunch of different things to try and get her turn, and finally the last week of my pregnancy she turned around and dropped. Then I woke up on the morning of my due date and realized that she had flipped again during the night. I had an appointment with the midwives that day, and they decided that it was best to schedule a c-section. The next available time was a few days later, August 5, and so my July baby became an August one instead. We had to get to the hospital early in the morning, and S-Boogie was born at 7:37 AM.
And now it's been almost five years since that day, and I still think Mr. Fob and I are wandering around with the same stunned look on our faces. I've come to realize that parenting isn't a destination, it's a constantly evolving process. S-Boogie is going to be starting kindergarten soon. She can write her name and many other words from memory; she goes to the bathroom all by herself; she can change her own clothes, and has definite opinions about them; she remembers things and tells great stories about her past; she has many friends and loves making new ones. Lately she's taken to pondering deep questions, like how Adam and Eve were created by Jesus since Jesus' parents were Mary and Joseph. She has so many good qualities and she's generally a great kid. We all struggle with the first-child problem: she wants to be independent and Mom and Dad are still trying to figure out how to make that work for all of us. I just hope that as she gets older we will manage to keep up with all the changes in our lives and that some day she will become a parent and realize just how difficult--and how rewarding--this journey is.
Monday, August 04, 2008
I first read Beauty as a twelve-year-old and it soon became one of my favorite books. I was surprised to find out a few years ago that McKinley had retold the Beauty and the Beast story again, but I decided to give this book a try. It's quite a bit different, and longer, but I enjoyed it as well. The writing is beautiful and the story is interesting. I didn't like the main character in this one as much as in Beauty, but it's still a good book.
Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
I read this book when it first came out, but I didn't remember it at all. This time around I was mostly struck by the beauty of the writing. The characters are all interesting and the plot kept me in suspense. I do admit to being turned off by the ending; I was disappointed because the book is so unique and yet the ending is just like every other best-seller out there. It's a wonderful book except for the last few pages.
A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam by Neil Sheehan
I've had this book sitting on my shelf for years but was always intimidated by the length (800 pages). Now that I've been on vacation I had time to sit down and read it. I was surprised by how readable and interesting it is. Sheehan does an excellent job combining the specific biography of Vann with the larger history of the war. I felt like I learned more about Vietnam by reading this book than I had with any other one book; it manages to be comprehensive and personal at the same time.
Fields of Clover by Marilyn Arnold
I'm really not sure why I finished reading this book, since I didn't like it very much. First of all, it was poorly edited and much of the writing was overwrought and melodramatic. I was also bothered the whole time by the seeming discrepancy in the behavior of the characters and what should be their ages (though what their ages were was never made clear). It's the story of elderly parents and their children, but the children behaved like they were much too young to be the children of 90-year-old parents. That bothered me for the entire book, as well as the fact that each of the children was a total stereotype. Definitely not the best book I've read in a while, but at least I bought it cheaply at DI.
Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World by H. Stephen Glenn and Jane Nelsen
Like most parenting books I've read, I found some good things in this and some things I didn't agree with. I liked their ideas about responsibility and I really liked the point that our getting angry at children makes them think about the anger rather than the problem at hand. Generally I liked it, but they had some statistics about drug use and rebellion that seemed unnecessarily alarmist and not quite believable.
Thoughts of Grasshopper: Essays and Oddities by Louise Plummer
I love Louise Plummer--she manages to be so funny and so real at the same time. This is a little collection of assorted essays and other writings. Some of them I had read in other places and some were new to me. They were all hilarious; I've never been disappointed by Louise.
I've already seen this a few times, but we had to watch it to prepare for The Dark Knight. I really like this movie for a lot of reasons. The character development of Bruce Wayne is interesting, the plot is captivating, and the film is fun to watch.
Mr. Fob and I both felt unimpressed by this collection of animated Batman stories. Neither of us is into anime, and the stories just weren't all that interesting. Some of the visual effects were cool, but it certainly wasn't a favorite. And Target really should not shelve it in the "movies for kids" section.
This was the finale to our week of Batman movies. I hope to write a longer review, but I was certainly impressed by the quality of the film. I was also disturbed by a lot of it and thoroughly creeped out by the Joker.
This was my second time viewing this film and Mr. Fob's first. We both agreed that some parts of it are fabulous, but other parts stink. I also really wouldn't call it a "romantic comedy"; there's some romance and some comedy, but there's plenty of pathos too. I would recommend it, but it's not on my list of greatest films.
Sunday, August 03, 2008
Now we're in Las Vegas for a few more days of fun. Yesterday we spent two hours in the pool with the kids, and then we had a delicious dinner and dessert. True to form the kids refused to go to sleep in yet another new place. Things were also complicated because Little Dude wanted to sleep in a bed (not his crib) and kept crawling in with his sister in her bed. Then this morning the kids got up at 6:30 thanks to the time change and the desert sunshine. Hopefully we'll survive a few more days of sleep deprivation and suitcase living before we go completely notes.
Oh, and I think that divine inspiration led me to call the church this morning. I decided to call looking for contact information for the Elder's Quorum president, and he happened to be in the office right at that moment. We'll have some moving help on Friday afternoon. He even said that they are used to people with lots of books because it's a student ward. Now all we need to do is buy a new bed and our lives will be back to normal again.