Saturday, May 31, 2014

San Francisco Part 2

Where were we? Oh yes. Abe and Klarissa had just abandoned Newland and then he was all OURS. It's true. Whenever we were at the apartment, Newland would hopelessly wander throughout the house repeatedly mumbling, "mama mama dada dada." And any door that was closed was automatically assumed to be hiding either mama or dada, and then he was all sorts of disappointed to find neither mama nor dada hidden behind any closed doors after all.

To calm Newland's nerves, we had to get him out of the house. We made our way to the Children's Museum, and crossed The Golden Gate Bridge on our way. As we were crossing it, Eli said with great concern, "But Mom. Why does the Golden Gate Bridge not have any gates on it?" That's a valid question, son.
The boys enjoyed the boats while I enjoyed glimpsing the bridge for the first time.

It's hard to take a good selfie. And it's extra hard to take a good selfie with a bridge strategically placed between two faces. And it's extra extra hard to take a good selfie with a bridge while preventing three children from running into the street, or jumping off a ledge. So I'll consider this a success.

We made it to the Children's Museum! You know what's great? Eli loves pushing strollers. It made for an easy way to keep track of two of the munchkins while keeping my hands free!
My boys were immediately captivated by a bubble machine they found a few steps into the museum, while Newland kept wandering over to this one room while he was chanting the same word over and over. "Newland, let's wait for Eli and Carson." I kept telling him, but he kept charging straight for that one room.

During one bolt, he successfully made it all the way into the room, and I realized he had been chanting, "Train! Train! Train!" I walked in the room and saw a huge train set. Boy heaven! Eli and Carson were quick to join.
It was here I realized I was grateful to have three boys. They all stuck together at the children's museum because they were all interested in the same activities. Made it easy to keep everyone happy at once!
The other favorite room was the "Fix It Up" room. Everything was broken in the room and needed to be fixed. Eli was in a frenzy to get everything put back together.

We were going to go to a park for lunch, but we ended up staying at the museum for so long that we were there far beyond lunchtime and nap time. We threw the kids their sandwiches to eat in the car, and they were all asleep within minutes. Jeff and I took the opportunity to go on a little scenic drive along the coast.
With a little time to kill before dinner, we went to Golden Gate Park.
The key to success with three boys three and under in a busy city is to always have at least two of them strapped into a stroller.
This was one of Eli's favorite places of our whole trip. He loved jumping on the rocks across the water. I wish we could have stayed there longer, but I didn't trust a certain someone to not fall into the water, so we didn't tempt fate for too long.
We made it back to the house so Jeff could cook us up some hot dogs, and so that the boys could have their daily bath popsicle treat. Then we closed the evening with a movie and popcorn.
My main concern with three babies in a two bedroom apartment was the sleep situation. Where would they sleep? What would happen when one of them woke up? How would Newland react to me putting him to sleep? What would he do when he woke up in the middle of the night to find me instead of his parents? I had so many concerns.

The kids went down without a fight as I braced myself for a night of wakefulness. I fell asleep at the same time the kids did, eager to seize any chance of sleep I would be able to get. And then I woke up at 7:00 in the morning.

Everyone slept completely soundly through the night. Carson doesn't even do that for us at home. It was a San Franciscan miracle.

Waking up fresh and well rested, and no longer fearing having to endure a weekend without sleep, we were ready to face another adventure filled day...

San Francisco Part 1

Vacationing while you are on a self inflicted spending fast can be pretty tricky. Nay. Impossible. I broke down and spent $20 at the dollar store on entertainment for the kids for the dreaded 11 hours in the car.

"You got two of everything, right?" Jeff asked as I started pulling goodies out for the boys. "Yes! Of course I did!"

As I gave Eli his blue whiteboard for coloring (his favorite color), and Carson a red one, the first of many car battles ensued. "But I wanted the Lightning McQueen one!" Eli whined.
"Eli, I got you the blue one because blue is your favorite color." I tried to convince him his was better while Jeff muttered under his breath, "Lightning McQueen ALWAYS trumps blue."

Note to self -- get the boys IDENTICALLY the same everything to prevent jealous rages on future road trips.
A few cups of Gatorade into our drive and one little boy had a full bladder in the middle of the desert. He found the method of emptying said bladder to be pretty hysterical.
We stopped in Reno to stay the night at a "home-tel" as Eli called it. On the trip, I learned that Eli's firing of "Why" questions is directly related to his excitement level. The ENTIRE way to Reno, Eli was spitting off questions at an incredible rate. Such as, "Mom. But what is a hometel like?" "Are there dance parties at hometels?" "Why do people dance at hometels, Mom?" "Is the hometel our new home, that's why it's called a home-tel?" It went on. And on. And on.

Needless to say, we were all excited about the refuge the hometel provided. And Eli instigated his own dance party filled with lots of jumping on the beds as soon as we walked into our room.
Before long, we were back in the car on our way to "Franchesco's." Eli kept calling San Francisco Franchesco's. One of the two movies we own is Cars 2 and Eli has seen that movie about 12,000 times. Franchesco is Lightning McQueen's nemesis in the movie, so there's where that reference comes from.
Just like that we were in the buzz of the city, slightly overwhelmed by the lack of parking and supply of pigeons.
Thankfully we had some time to warm up to the San Francisco lifestyle with Abe and Klarissa showing us the ropes, because I was a nervous wreck my kids were going to dart into the road or run away from us amid their pigeon chasing or get attacked by a homeless person.
We stopped with Abe and Klarissa to get some ice cream cones. It's true what they say. Everything tastes better in San Francisco. Do they say that? They should.
The cousins got acquainted as we indulged.

Then we walked over to an awesome park just down the road.
This was just the start of our park hopping. It's true what they say about San Francisco. The parks are like amusement parks. Oh, do they not say that either? They do now.
Pigeon chasing is a sport in San Francisco. At least amongst the two-year olds.
I've dreamed of going to San Francisco ever since Abe moved out there. My perception of San Francisco was limited to the background noises I heard on my phone calls with Abe over the last 7-ish years as he walked the streets on his commute to and from work. It was fun to walk those streets for myself and put a visual with the background noises I've grown accustom to.
For a slide that steep and slick looking, it was deceivingly slow.
The kids resorted to sliding down on sand to get extra speed. I however, did not, and may have made a new record for the world's slowest decent down a slide.
Pretty sure this is when I was laughing mercilessly at Carson right after he fell. His feet slicked right out from underneath him and his head hit the ground (which is soft and has a little spring to it), his head bounced off the ground and I caught a glimpse of his facial expression right after his head bounced. It was one of my favorite Carson falls. Especially because he just walked up from it without shedding a tear, like it was something that happens every day. Oh yeah. Because it does happen every day. That kid has learned the art of falling with snazz.
Eli was here, there and everywhere. He had so much fun at the park.

Maybe going to the park was a way to get our soon-to-be third son to warm up to us a little bit before he was completely stuck with us. I think our efforts worked.
Abe made the terrible mistake of buying some root beer with dinner. Little did Abe know, Eli becomes a maniac when "spikey juice" (carbonated drinks) is nearby. Eli immediately claimed an entire root beer as his own and guzzled the whole thing down before anyone could say otherwise. Granted, the root beer did have his name on it, so I guess he had a right to feel so entitled.
Newland and Carson discussed the inner secrets of city life over their pizza.

With a little extra time to kill after dinner, we crossed one of our to-dos off the list and visited The Painted Ladies. Bummer -- two of the houses were being worked on, and the lighting was horrible while we were there.
But, you know what they say, San Francisco has awesome parks, and there happened to be one just across the street. We hung out at the park for a good hour or so as we waited for the perfect lighting to descend upon the ladies. Our husbands may have rolled their eyes at our efforts to create the perfect picture background, but I think they'll agree it was worth the wait.

To be continued...

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

On Top of the World, Hey!

We just got back from a super fun trip to San Francisco to babysit my nephew. We're making a habit out of this traveling babysitter thing. And we love it! Another habit we're making is turning all our vacations into music videos. So enjoy this one while you wait for the millions of pictures to start rolling in.

Monday, May 19, 2014

A Series of Unrelated Pictures

My lack of blogging can be blamed on the fact that I've been slaving for the last month over turning our blog into a book. I do this about every two years, and the process is grueling, but always worth it when the book shows up on my doorstep. I was motivated to continue on in the mindless formatting of years of pictures when Eli spent an hour one morning thumbing through all 200+ pages of the last blog book I made. He loved it, and it gave me visions of the many times to come that he would hopefully enjoy flipping through the books.
Below is a picture depicting the annoyance of feeding my children. They have completely opposite tastes. Eli likes cereal and hates pancakes. Carson can deal with cereal, but LOVES pancakes. Eli loves popsicles, Carson prefers ice cream. Eli likes cheddar cheese, Carson is a string cheese kinda guy. They agree on very few of the same food preferences. I can't help but chuckle on days I go to clean up after lunch to see Carson has eaten all of his cottage cheese, but didn't touch one grape, and Eli didn't touch his cottage cheese but downed all his grapes. One day they'll learn the art of free trade.
 Carson is a rule follower *typically*. Though I wouldn't not call him a rule bender. Here he is bending the rule to stay in his room for quiet time. Little weasel.
And here we have him bending the rule "Don't Get on the Counter."
This post is riddled with instagrepeats. Ever so sorry. But as I said there, one afternoon while doing a workout video, I turned around to see Carson had snuck out of his room to join me. That's his interpretation of a plank. I didn't have the heart to shoo him back into his room until he started wandering down the stairs a good half hour into our workout.
Eli has started feeling the need to give evidence to the fact that he is full. Which means he must lift up his shirt to show us how big his belly is from eating all the food. This pose is how he ends every meal.
Have you ever heard of a $5 family pass to the most fun amusement park in town? It's called the City Dump. The boys could have spent the entire day watching "the scooper" push all the trash over the ledge into the landfill. Then I had the pleasure of hearing about it in great detail from both boys for the next two weeks, with begs to be taken to the dump every time we got in the car. Seriously.
You might be like me in thinking, "You have to pay $5 to go drop off some trash?!?" But what they don't tell you is that $5 admission covers the cost of sneaking a peek at the "GIVE AND TAKE" which is a little designated area for trashed couches, mismatched chairs and one enticing children's slide that made its way into our trailer after Jeff and I briefly had an inner wrestle with whether or not we really wanted to be the kind of people who took other people's trash from the dump. Well...even our pride couldn't get in the way of the fairly unweathered slide that soon graced our backyard. And Jeff proclaimed it the most white trash thing we have ever done.
I could make a 20 bulleted list of all the ways Eli and Carson are different, but they do have at least one thing in common besides their love of cars -- their shoe size.
And I suppose they do both love bugs, but Carson isn't quite as eager to hold the little buggers as Eli is.
We unwisely planted our garden the weekend before Mother's Day. As I bragged to people in the ward that our garden was already existent, I got looks of shock and horror as they gasped violently with their hands over their mouths. "What?" I would innocently state, trying to find the source of their reaction. "The rule is you can't plant until Mother's Day!"

Oh crap. I mean, yeah. Jeff DOES have a reputation of murdering his garden about halfway through every growing season. But we were still gung-ho and filled with anticipation at the prospect of having fresh tomatoes, strawberries, cilantro and green peppers bursting forth in our own backyard. Had we created a produce graveyard right from the start? Complete with little headstones to forever remember what should have been growing but was now rooted deep underground, unable to even stand a fighting chance because we had neglected to wait until the all-clear of Mother's Day weekend?!?

I told Eli plants like to be sung to while we were planting, and he took that to heart as he timidly sang, as close as he could, to each plant that went into the morgue.
As all the wise gardeners expected, the week right before Mother's Day was a chilly one. With rain/hail/minor snow. It was just the kind of weather that leaves tomato plants shivering to their death, leaving only the shriveled, black skeleton of a once hopeful future.
By some miracle -- I'm chalking it up to Eli's sweetly sung renditions of "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" -- our garden survived our first attempt at murder! Surely there will be more chances for them to die off, but until then, we have greenery gracing our garden.
We went down to my sister's house for her baby's blessing, and upon realizing we were all picture perfectly coordinated, I had to seize the opportunity for a family photo shoot. Credit to my dad for his ability to make my boys smile through his paper airplane skills.
 Carson being adorable post bath.
Eli being adorable post roly-poly infatuation.
Eli has started this new thing where his bike "gets a broken engine" so he has to carry it to the garage where he "fixes it" with all Jeff's tools. He has also started this thing where he -- completely on his own -- decided purple and pink are girl colors and he refuses to ingest any food or water that is or ever has touched the dreaded colors of pink or purple. In case you were wondering, this is what a stereotypical little boy looks like, and I love him for it:
Here's the day Carson was so mad because he kept hearing "monster trucks" but he couldn't ever see them. It was thunder.

The lighting was really close to our house, I told Eli to keep the door closed because it was dangerous outside. Eli then said after a minute, "Mom, does Superman have a house?" It seemed like a completely random question until I realized he was worried about Superman's safety in the storm.
Carson has officially taken his first floor nap. My latest attempt to sleep train Carson is to "kill him with kindness" so to say. My rule is if he gets out of bed his door gets closed, so he always gets out of bed, and then I nicely close his door. As soon as he opens it, I walk straight into his room and say in the most cheery voice I can muster, "OH! Are you ready to go back to bed?!? Let's go!" Like it's the most fun thing in the world. Turns out he gets annoyed with me after 2-3 times of this happening, and prefers to have the door shut, and then before long he takes this pose:
Behold the moment my Dad gave the boys their very first G&K cars. As Jeff said, my Dad is already priming the boys for their inevitable fate of G&K careers. And it's working because Eli's little mouth frequently utters those two letters throughout the day as he's playing with his new favorite car.
We moved the ladder that goes to the trampoline to paint our kitchen, so Eli made his own ladder.
I went to pick Eli up from preschool one day, and his teacher was looking for his craft when I arrived, then she said, "Oh yeah! Eli has his on." I looked into her backyard to see Eli was the only kid who still had his "V" craft -- visor -- on. He proudly rocked that visor all day.
This tradition has carried on. The giggling that comes from the resulted thumping of tiny hands is nonsensical and endearing.
Our favorite place to be, the park!

Eli has developed a sensitive side that became prevalent after his cousin Madison was born. He gets this sweet, adoring smile on his face around babies...and roly-polies.
Eli quote unrelated to either picture above or below:
Eli: "Mom, what is that white smokey stuff that comes out of cars?"
Me: "I think that's called the exhaust."
Eli: "No. I think you're wrong. It's called car ghost-es"
Channeling my inner Katniss.

These boys make my heart melt. They are the sweetest. Children. Remember that I loved you when you later come to realize those bright red cheeks and sweat beading down your face are directly passed down from me. Perhaps another reason I will likely have all boys. It's a blessing because sweaty boys aren't as gross as sweaty girls. As a sweaty girl, I can validate that statement.
Congratulations! You made it to the end. You have proven your allegiance to Lucky Number 8. You are free to go now.