Fun in San Francisco: Day 1 part 1 – the Sir Francis Drake & the Hyde St Pier

Summertime means holidays for a lot of families, and this year, that includes us. We do a lot of smaller trips (and by smaller I mean within a 3-5 hr drive, and usually just for a few days), but this year, we decided it was time for a bigger family holiday. We haven’t done a “big” trip since our trip to Disneyland and San Diego just before Q’s 3rd birthday, so I figured we were long overdue. This years destination? San Francisco and San Jose, by way of the California and Oregon coasts. The drive down will have to be its own post at a later time, because I am still collecting my nerves back from it. Holy intense Batman!

Our stay in San Francisco started when we arrived at our hotel, the Sir Francis Drake. It is part of the Kimpton chain, which we’ve stayed at and loved in the past, so I had pretty high hopes for it. It is located just a few blocks from Union Square, and the cable car stops literally right in front of it. Also a bonus, if you are like me, anyways, is that there is a Starbucks right next door. Sweet! Upon pulling up to the hotel, we were greeted by the doorman, who was dressed in a traditional beefeater uniform. It was pretty cool. He got our bags loaded onto a baggage cart, and handed them off to the bellman to bring up to the room. Check-in was pretty quick, though I thought at first that the front desk agent was a little short and not as friendly as I would have expected at a Kimpton hotel, and we made our way up to our room on the 7th floor.This is a vintage hotel, so the rooms aren’t huge, but it was comfortable. The bathroom was tiny, but it did have a tub and shower, so it did the job. Just don’t try to get more than one person in there at a time or anything.

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First thing I noticed was that the room wasn’t feather free. I had called the night before to confirm the reservation and make sure that there were no feather pillows in the room because of an allergy, but it must have gotten missed. I called down to the front desk, and they sent someone up pretty quickly to change the bedding for us. It was the same agent who had checked us in, and I realized, after a day in the city, that he wasn’t being rude or brusque, just efficient and not a chatty person, which is ok. When housekeeping was there changing the bed, she heard Q chatting away from his bath, and was kind enough to bring up a little kids sized animal print robe for him to use, which he adored, and was more than happy to model.

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We were exhausted from a long, very hard, day of driving, and so just decided to order pizza. The bellman had recommended a local place, Uncle Vito’s Pizza, just a couple blocks from the hotel, so we called them up and M walked over to pick it up. It was pretty good- Q and I shared a small cheese pizza and M had a meat ravioli with meat sauce. Not mind blowingly good, for me at least, but it was pretty tasty. Then, after a long, intense, day of travel, it was time to hit the hay.

The next day, we decided to grab a couple of 3 day passes for the cable cars, busses and trains. Q, being under 6, was free (sweet!), and I think it was $26 for each of us. Considering one ride on the cable car is $6, this didn’t seem like too bad of a deal. We ate our breakfast in the hotel restaurant Scala, which, if I’m honest, was okay but not great by any stretch of the imagination. The service was unfriendly at best, the food was alright but pricey, and the suggested tip amount in the bill was 18%. That really bugged me. Service worthy of a minimum 18% tip had better be outstanding. Also, keep in mind that this suggested 18% was on top of the tax and additional 3% surcharge that San Fran charges. I am happy to tip well for good service, but if a place is going to recommend that I tip that much as a minimum, the service better be up to that level as well.

After breakfast we got into the line for a cable car. It didn’t look that long, but we probably waited at least 30-45 min to get on one. If you go, make sure that if you are going to ride the cable car you get there early, and are prepared for a wait. Most cars seem to take 3-6 riders on at a time, if they stop at all, so it can be quite a lengthy wait to get onto a car. You also don’t get to choose where you sit, and just kind of end up squashed in wherever there is room. Both times we took it, we ended up on the inside, and I standing. People were kind enough to make a spot on the bench for Q, so he could look out the window and enjoy the ride. I will say, riding the cable car ended up being a bit of a leg and core workout when you have to stand for the whole 30 min ride. You really need to keep your muscles engaged to keep yourself for flinging around or from falling over going up and down those steep hills. So unintentional workout for the win!

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Some people DO get absolutely insane when it comes to the cable cars though, and a few times I thought that they had lost their darn minds. While waiting in line for the cars, we saw people who had absolutely zero concept of an orderly line try to shove and butt their way onto a car and get yelled at by the drivers. We saw people standing literally right in front of an oncoming, moving, cable car taking pictures. Right in the middle of the street. People arguing with the driver because “well, I wanted to sit or stand on the outside and I don’t care that someone is already there, I should be able to because I WANT to!” People literally hanging off the side of the car to get a picture or video with their camera or go-pro on a stick, with oncoming traffic or, even better, an oncoming cable car so close you could barely fit a paper pass in between them, coming. It was good for a laugh, but holy mackerel!

Stay tuned for more San Francisco adventures.

Summertime fun with Netflix #streamteam

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It’s summertime, and as we all know, there are very few good, new shows that air during the summer. Or so I thought. A few months ago, after wondering why everyone kept raving about it, we joined Netflix. Oh Netflix. Since joining, our eyes have been opened up to a whole world of cool shows. Old shows, new shows, ones we’ve watched and loved and ones we’d never heard of. Awesome, all of them.

It is perfect for Q – he has found so many new favourites. I could go on and on about them (heaven knows that he does!) but I will save that for another day. Instead, I thought I’d introduce some of his newest, and Canadian (bonus!) favourites that have really sparked his imagination this month.

animal mechanicals

This has been a HUGE hit in our house. It is about 5 animal friends, Rex, Unicorn, Komodo, Mouse, and Sasquatch, who each have a special ability and can transform themselves into different shapes to solve problems. This one has been fantastic for his imagination. He tries to think of fun and cool things that he could do if he was mechana- strong like Rex, or had mechana-gizmos like Komodo, or, his favourite, mechana-stretchy arms like Sasquatch. He has told me stories, both about episodes that he has watched or ones he’s made up, draws pictures about them, and sings the song. I love how this show has sparked some creativity in him just by watching. If it can kill two birds with one stone that way, even better.

franny's feet

Franny’s Feet is a cute show about a girl who travels around the world and learns about different cultures and ways of life. It is a more quiet show, we find, and good for a bit more relaxing time.

superwhy

Super Why gas long been one of Q’s favourites. Wyatt, Red, Pig and Princess Pea have been part of his life since he was quite young. He loved the rhyming games, the alphabet song, and Princess Presto and her letters. Of course, the solving of the question and spelling words with the letters collected along the way is fun too. This is a fantastic show for beginning readers and spellers too, as it helped him with some sight recognition words. There is even an app and computer game that we got that he loved. It’s fun to see how Super Why and his friends jump into the stories to save the day.

As you could probably see, we’ve found some new shows that are both fun and a bit educational. In my experience with Q, kids want to learn and be creative, and this just gives them a bit more to spark that fire with.

Do you or your kids have any favourite shows on Netflix right now?

I am part of the Netflix #Streamteam and I receive some special perks as a part of this. All opinions and anecdotes in this post, however, are mine alone, and, as usual, I’m sharing this because I think you’ll like it too.

Yes, we are done at one

For a while, Q has been asking me about a brother or sister. It is always very innocent, wondering why he doesn’t have a sibling, asking if he could have one, inquiring why he can’t. Every time he asks, it breaks my heart a little bit more.

Tonight at dinner, he said “Mummy, how come I don’t have a brother or sister? If I had one, I would love and care about them you know.” Those little words, said so sweetly, were so hard for me to hear. I wonder if he sees his little friends with their siblings and just wants what they have. Or he wants to have someone here to play with all the time. Or he loves babies and thinks it would be fun to have one. Or or or…

I never quite know what to tell him, to be honest. Most of the time I tell him that we were so happy with him that we didn’t need another kid, or that we are perfect as a family of three. Tonight I told him a bit more of the truth. I explained that having another baby could make mummy very sick, and that we didn’t want that to happen. Obviously I don’t want to go into too many details about it at this point, because as smart as he is, I still don’t think that he’d quite be able to grasp the reasons why.

I’ve written a bit about Q’s birth and what we went through before. After he was born, I was strongly advised not to have any more children, as my risk of having a preemie would be very high, I would be classified immediately as a high risk pregnancy, and would likely spend most, if not all of it on bed rest of some kind. I have had so many people question me on my decision to stop at one, and a lot of times, I am at a loss for words. Sometimes I can come up with a quick and clever retort, sometimes I simply explain that I was told not to by my doctors, but sometimes I just have no words. Some people have been great when I answer, but I cannot tell you the number of times that people have challenged me on it.

“Well, you don’t know what the future holds” is often the response I get. “Your next one might be totally fine.” I have been called selfish more times than I can count for not wanting to risk my health or life, or the health or life of another baby to add to my perfect (for us) family. I have been told that I am ruining my son’s life by not giving him a sibling, at the potential cost of taking away his mummy. I have been told that by “making” this choice, that he will resent me forever. I have been called a bad parent.

Really? Not wanting to subject myself or my family to a high risk pregnancy, or a new baby to potential prematurity or complications makes me a bad parent? I think it does the opposite and makes me a damn good parent. And an unselfish one, for that matter. I have struggled to accept the fact that we couldn’t even try for a second one, that we were done at one before we even knew it. We might have decided ourselves that we felt complete as a family of 3, but then it would have been our decision alone, not one made for us because of medical risk. Please don’t get me wrong, I adore my little family, and I am grateful for the amazing, healthy little boy that we have, as I know that there are many people who don’t even get to have one. I struggle to articulate these feelings, because I don’t want people to think that I am ungrateful, but I have come to realize that this doesn’t make my feelings any less valid. I don’t mind explaining the situation to you if you’d genuinely like to know, but please understand that I, and we, have made the best decisions about this for us, and you and your opinions don’t factor one smidgen into my mind when it comes to this. So yes, in answer to your question, we are done at one.

I am sure that the comments about how “it could be ok the next time around” are meant well, but honestly? They just rub salt in the wound a bit. If you wouldn’t question people on their decision to have two or more, why the judgement about only having one? We are able to give the best of ourselves to him, give him opportunities to do things that we might not be able to if he had a sibling, travel together and see the world. I love my family of three, and I know that it is perfect *for us*.

I wish so much that there wasn’t such a stigma to having only one child. He is not lonely, or spoiled, or unkind. He is an amazing kid who is able to adapt, meet new kids easily, relate to children and adults alike, and would literally give you the shirt off his back if you needed it or asked for it. He has friends, and cousins and lots of people who love and adore him. He is happy.

And next time someone asks the questions, and I really can’t think of anything to say? I will just use one of these lines (especially numbers 1,3,7, or 9).

Sometimes it is easy to forget

Sometimes it is so easy to forget. In the moments of frustration, agitation or anger, how easy it is to lose hold of the little words, the smiles, the little voice. The feelings make it seem like the picture is gray and frowny and just too smooth around the edges, when in reality, it is just the opposite. Brightly colored, full of smiles and rougher around the edges than you would ever have imagined. But yet? It is perfect. Most of the time.

I have been struggling with feelings of frustration, disappointment in myself for being frustrated, agitation, disappointment in myself for feeling agitated, and just general annoyance. Ever since school got out 2 weeks early due to the teacher’s strike, a tough, abrupt ending to the year for sure, I have been struggling with Q’s listening. It seems like the disruption of his routine has caused all kinds of upheaval for him, and it feels like he has gone backwards in terms of his listening at times. He is restless, fidgety, completely spaced out and simply just not listening. Not all the time, of course, but a lot. I try to tell myself that he is struggling to adjust to this new routine, remind myself that he is only 5, try to go with the flow.

It’s hard though. It challenges me to keep my frustrations to myself, to be constructive and positive at the same time, to loosen my expectations. I forget about the moments of peace, or of giggles, or of sweetness. I don’t want to forget those, but when you have repeated yourself half a dozen times in 5 minutes, it can get hard to remember. I feel conflicted. How do you keep it together? How do you cut yourself and him some slack?

I try to think of how it feels when he slips his little hand into mine, or what it sounds like when he laughs so hard I wonder if he might pee, or how his smile, his real smile, can light up a room. I don’t want him to look back on his childhood and think that his mummy was too hard on him. I want him to know that I just want him to be the best he can be, because he has so much greatness just bursting out from within him.

I want to find that balance, but I wonder sometimes if it exists. I have seen what inconsistency can do to a child, and I don’t want to be that person. I also know that parenthood, like life, really, isn’t all sunshine and roses. You see the perfect pictures, Facebook statuses, blog posts about the amazing lives that people have, but you also know that a lot of it is for show. No one wants to admit that they had to take a time out because they were so frustrated by their kid that they could hardly speak. But maybe we should. It’s ok to forget for a moment, we all do it, and I’ve come to realize that it is what comes after that is more important. Do you let you child go to bed on a frustrated note or a positive one? Do you end time-outs with a hug? Do you still say I love you even when you want to tear your hair out? Do you return the little smile?

I know that I put so much pressure on myself to be a great mummy – he deserves no less than the best of me, but I have to remind myself that I am human too and that it is ok to have less than stellar moments. I hope that he won’t remember the times that I scolded or was cross with him. I hope that he won’t remember when I was frustrated with something that he did or didn’t do. After all, it is easy to forget. The love? That is much harder to forget.