Monday, September 18, 2017

2017 Summer Bucket List Final Update + 2017 FALL BUCKET LIST!!

We managed to knock a bunch of additional items off of our Summer Bucket List since our last update. This was not a banner season in terms of bucket list accomplishments, but I think it definitely marked a turning point in the kids' growth—they are in dire need of free down time and quite capable of entertaining themselves. They'd wake up pumped for an activity but then just ask for time to putter about. That being said, fall is definitely one of their favorite seasons and they were all about creating a new fall list!

First up, here's how we finished up summer:

16. New science exhibit -- we loved the new to us exhibits at the California Academy of Sciences!

17. New historical site -- our report on Angel Island and Alcatraz are still on the way, but I'll note that we had an unexpected amazing trip to historical Angel Island.

18. Have a picnic -- we had a lovely picnic lunch on the top of a waterfall in Yosemite—post to come this week!

19. Find a new beach -- we found new beaches at both Angel Island and in Yosemite.

20. Workbooks -- the kids were total champs at working on reading, math, and writing over the summer and completed several workbooks each.

21. Rock climbing -- Yosemite!

22. Find a waterfall -- Again, Yosemite. Our bucket list thanks you.

23. Baseball game -- G O N A T S

24. Ride in a boat -- boat to both Angel Island and Alcatraz.

25. See sunrise -- we left really early for Cali and caught the sun coming up on our ride to the airport.

26. See sunset -- and then we saw the sun go down behind Golden Gate Bridge our first night there!

27. Watch a meteor shower -- not technically a meteor shower, but I'm counting the eclipse for this one. It was super cool.

28. + 29. Two new museums -- we went to several new museums this summer, but I'll count the DeYoung and San Fransisco MOMA (post also yet to come) for this.

30. New science project -- saltwater taffy slime!

31. + 32. Two service projects -- the kids both helped their grandfather deliver food with Meals on Wheels and Cami also chopped off 10+ inches of her hair for Locks of Love.

33., 34., and 35. -- three new NPS passport stamps in California at Muir Woods, Alcatraz, and Yosemite.

Now, on to the Fall Bucket List!


Friday, September 15, 2017

The Friday Five!!

I have a whole slate of posts planned that I just can't seem to get to and it's driving me nuts. The kids are happily back in school, but I feel a little bit like a spinning top. I haven't even made it through our August vacation photos and there's been an overflowing basket of clean (at least folded for once) clothes in my office all week. I'm really, really looking forward to the weekend. Here's what went down this week though ....

Cooking -- the kids weekday extracurriculars run a little late for my taste this year so I'm still trying to figure out weekday cooking. I think I might need to shift some of our weekend dining out to at least one weekday, but I also just need to get more organized with slow cooked meals that are ready when we get home. This JalapeƱo Popper Chili is a family fave and did the trick for one such late night this week.

Making -- I always keep my eye on Oriental Trading Co. for easy art/craft projects that the kids can do on their own. And since I banned weekday screen time (WHY!?!), we've needed a few more. Cami has loved these Mandala Sand Art Pictures, which turn out amazingly cool.

Reading -- we finally finished A Wind in the Door which I found really heavy to listen to as an audiobook. I think we need to go back and read it together to pick through the philosophical and theological layers. I really wanted to pick something lighter for our next book, but the kids insisted on returning to the Wonder series with Auggie & Me. Cam and I have also been reading Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World. We first spotted it at the San Francisco MOMA gift store (I could literally buy everything in the MOMA gift store), but waited until we got home to check it out of the library. It's great!

Wanting -- I hate taking my FitBit off, but I'm having a hard time finding a fashionable band to wear it outside of exercising. This is the closest thing I've found to what I want. 

Playing -- our Halloween costume planning has the kids all the rage about Egyptians again and Kane has renewed his obsession with Senet.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Kids Reading Lounge

It's a rainy day in D.C., so our new outdoor reading lounge is packed up at the moment, but you can head over to Honest to Nod to see how we roll it out when the sun is shining! So easy and super cozy.

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Friday Five!!

We are just wrapping up our first week back to school! Other than trying to figure out how we ever got out of the house by 7.45 a.m., everything went swimmingly. Here's what else we got after this week ....

Making -- the kids needed to bring a framed picture to school so I picked up a bunch of these wooden frames to have them decorate themselves. 

Reading -- Kane is still hooked on presidential trivia and can't put this one down! I just started Rebel Mother and can't put it down either!

Wanting -- we go through an obscene amount of La Croix in our house. Obscene. This chick claims to have found the best online prices, we'll see ....

Playing -- sometimes you just have to stick with the classics. Cam love UNO and has been crushing me at games this week. 

Cooking -- Cam has continued her adventures in cooking with me. She's really outgrown the nylon starter set of knives we've used for years, so I just bought this kid-sized set of the real thing upon several recommendations. We'll let you know!! 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

California Days 3 and 4: San Francisco -- Muir Woods + Calistoga

So these two days have little in common other than they are each a short drive from San Francisco and neither took up a whole post on its own. But they are fabulous day trips!

We spent our first weekend day in San Fran daytripping out to Muir Woods, which is a National Park surrounded by larger state park Mt. Tamalpais. The kids had learned a lot about old growth Redwood and Sequoia trees and were pretty pumped to get to see some Redwoods at Muir Woods. It was also their first chance to get a new stamp in their National Park passports, so I made sure to have them this time!!

We were a little slow to get going in the a.m. and by the time we got out to Muir Woods it was almost lunch time. Parking was a bit of a challenge, but we found something roadside. We walked a short way to the entrance and picked up Junior Ranger packets for the kids. They were on top of things that day!

We intended to pick up a little snack before hiking, but once we popped into the Cafe, everyone declared ready for a full-on lunch. No problem, the food was deeeelish. And Cam spent a bit of time teaching her Uncle Steve the handgame Avocado (which was another annoying highlight of our trip—the game, not Uncle Steve).

Fully fueled, we set off on a walk through the looped Redwood Creek Trail. But it was super crowded and I wanted to get a little more actual hiking in, so when we hit the steps up to Canopy View Trail, we took them without a lot of thought or planning. It was a LONG hike up (well, at least before our Yosemite hikes which I'll get to next week), but totally gorgeous and much less crowded. The kids did great, but an hour or so in, we were thinking about how to get back.

And we started to run into others who had also poorly planned and were trying to do the same. We took a chance and turned off on to Lost Trail to catch up with Fern Creek Trail back to the looped Redwood Creek Trail. It was really a lot of steep steps down and I was so glad we hadn't gone up that way! It worked and we had a nice hike back to the visitor's center where the kids stamped their passports and were sworn in as Junior Rangers of Muir Woods.

Everyone was happy to head back to the city for Saturday night. Steve and Leslie graciously took the kids overnight so Joel and I could have a real date night. The kids ate ramen in Japantown and found liquid nitrogen-frozen cereal dessert Dragon's Breath at Chocolate Chair, which looked like so much fun! Joel and I headed out to State Bird Provisions for a totally unique and delicious take on dim sum.  And then we serendipitously ended up at Smitten Ice Cream where they churn-to-order your frozen treat with liquid nitrogen too! It's hard to pick a fave from our San Fran ice cream visits, but Smitten might be it for me.

If we were slow going Saturday a.m., we definitely were Sunday morning after date night. Plus, it took a little bit to get our coordinating stripe dress day together (there's one every vacay). But we had big plans to head out to wine country to see Steve and Leslie's wedding venue and wine taste along the way. We hired a driver for the day and headed out to Calistoga. I did more wine tasting than photography that day, so I only snapped a few.

We stopped first at super cute Casa Nuestra, which is only open to members and, fortunately, Steve and Leslie are. It was quaint and funky. The kids fed the animals farm-grown mint and the adults sampled yummy wines.

We hung for a long while just relaxing until the kids demanded to be fed too. A quick jump into downtown Calistoga and we stopped at the Palisades Deli for lunch (everyone loved). Recharged, we headed off to our second winery visit of the day at Tamber Bay Vineyards. Leslie had picked the wineries because they both had animals for the kids to check out and Tamber Bay had gorgeous horses. The kids were somehow still hungry and now bickering over iPhone usage, so we didn't hang as long there. But it was still lovely.

Not ones to dilly dally though, we headed out to the gorgeous ranch where Steve and Leslie will marry next spring! The kids are both in the wedding and are beyond excited. We poked around, had a faux ceremony, practiced creepy photos, and lazily checked out the accommodations. We can't wait for the wedding!

My good college friend Anne lives not to far away and she and her husband were driving to meet us at Solbar. We wanted to meet up at Sam's Social Club, which looks fantastic, but waited too long and couldn't make the times work. But I promised Kane we'd visit a Michelin-starred restaurant on our trip, obviously, and since Solbar has one, I figured it was the perfect spot. Solbar is in the Solage resort, which looks insanely beautiful with an amazing pool. We sat outside and had a wonderful dinner catching up with friends while the kids mostly wore down our iPhone batteries. But all in all a fantastic day!

The next morning we headed out to Yosemite, so stay tuned ....

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Interview the Kiddos -- September 2017

The kids finally went back to school yesterday and I have to say that I am totally, totally sad! I'm glad to have the kids back with friends, learning new things, getting into a routine, etc. But we had a great (and really quick) summer and I am absolutely going to miss them while they are at school (and so is Penny!). Kane is heading third grade and Cam will be in second grade, both of which are totally blowing my mind. But in an effort to take a snapshot of them at these ages, I thought I'd do another interview. I asked them these same questions about a year ago (our Interview the Kiddos -- August 2016) and totally intended to do it every three months. No big surprise that didn't happen. But here's what they had to say this year ....

Cameron -- age 7 years, 4 months
FAVORITE BOOK - I Will Always Write Back
FAVORITE SONG - Charlie XCX—all of hers
FAVORITE FOOD - watermelon
FAVORITE TOY/GAME - Stare! Board Game and Penny
WHAT ARE YOU SAVING YOUR ALLOWANCE FOR? - to buy stuff for homeless people
BEST FRIEND - Penny, Kaney, Mommy, Daddy, and Zoe
FAVORITE THING TO DO AS A FAMILY - hike up waterfalls in Yosemite
FAVORITE PLACE TO GO AS A FAMILY - Chicago, New Jersey, California
FAVORITE THING TO DO AFTER SCHOOL - play with Penny and art
FAVORITE MUSEUM - the Color Factory
FAVORITE SEASON - summer, spring, and winter
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO THIS FALL? - have a family olympics and movie night
FAVORITE SPORT - swimming 

Kane -- age 8 years, 11 months 
FAVORITE BOOK - The Westing Game 
FAVORITE SONG - Shut Up and Dance 
FAVORITE MOVIE - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 and Part 2 
FAVORITE TV SHOW - Just Add Magic 
FAVORITE TOY/GAME - Monopoly, Etch a Sketch, LEGO, and Pokemon. 
WHAT ARE YOU SAVING YOUR ALLOWANCE FOR? - a toy under $100 and my college fund.
FAMOUS PERSON YOU'D LIKE TO MEET - President Obama and maybe Jimmy Carter (I really like peanuts). 
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP? - Can I just say the name of some of the PhDs, MD, JD, or MBA I want? OK, I'd like to be a doctor or a lawyer with a PhD or a civil engineer or an architect. 
BEST FRIEND - Do I have to answer that? Oh yeah, Cami. And Penny. And mommy and daddy.
FAVORITE THING TO DO AS A FAMILY - spend time together 
FAVORITE PLACE TO GO AS A FAMILY - either out of the U.S., a staycation, or a different state. I also just like to stay at home and go to Dave and Busters, the movies, bowling, hikes, and museums.
FAVORITE THING TO DO AFTER SCHOOL - ooooh, that's tough. Maybe spend time with my family. Play with my friends. 
FAVORITE GAME TO PLAY WITH C - we play lots of games—can you be more specific? There are lots of different categories. Monopoly, soccer (not traditional soccer, but the wrestling game we came up with. You could also call it street fighting). 
DREAM VACATION - Turks + Caicos. Or a world tour of all the sunny places with my family and friends. 
FAVORITE MUSEUM - oh that's hard. I'm going to say the California Academy of Science has a good chunk. Also Ben Franklin Institute. The Color Factory was also cool. I also like all the museums on the mall in D.C. except for the Air and Space Museum (but I like the one at Dulles). 
FAVORITE SEASON - fall and summer 
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO THIS FALL? - celebrate my birthday with Giordano's pizza, play laser tag, and eat Eli's cheesecake. 
FAVORITE MEMORY FROM THIS PAST SUMMER - vacation and spending time with family. 
FAVORITE SPORT - swimming, lacrosse, and wrestling.

Friday, September 1, 2017

The Friday Five!!

This was our last week of summer break and while I thought the kids would be charged to take on the Summer Bucket List remainders, they really just wanted to hang at home. There was a little bickering, but for the most part they just entertained themselves and didn't ask to go do anything. I think they can feel school coming! Here's what they got up to this week ....

Playing -- as soon as the kids spotted Halloween decorations this week they were all over picking out our family Halloween costumes. I won't give it all away, but needless to say they were excited to break out Pyramix to get in the mood.

Making -- I often find pre-made craft kits to be lacking, but something about the Kid Made Modern Craft Library always stirs our kiddos' creativity. Cam had it out several times this week making a variety of projects.

Reading -- we finally finished I Will Always Write Back and I cannot recommend it highly enough! It was a truly great book to read together and a great conversation primer for so many topics. The kids asked for a mystery so we just started the first book in the The Forbidden Library series, which is holding everyone's attention a few chapters in. I also started reading the kids the adapted version of An Inconvenient Truth and I think it's excellent. It breaks the issues down well and has wonderful photos and graphics to accompany the text. And the chapters are short enough that we can read just a few at a sitting.

Cooking -- the kids and I loved these Baked Meatballs with Sweet Spices this week -- super easy and so tasty! And after watching Super Size Me this week together, no one complained about eating radishes or kale either.

Wanting -- I need some new studded flats and I've had my eyes on these for years!! Even though I know I'd wear them constantly, I haven't been able to pull that trigger yet.