Nov 16, 2010

Happy Diwali! (a little late)

So, I know this is a little late and all since Diwali was the weekend before last, but...

HAPPY DIWALI!!!

We went to a friend's house to celebrate this year and I wore a sari. 

Then my dad came to visit and we went outside to set off firecrackers (the quiet variety so our neighbors wouldn't lynch us).



The kids had a lot of fun, even though it was cold outside.  We also filled up the whole street with smoke, and a few people came outside thinking there was a fire somewhere.  Erm...no, it was just us.  :)

We ended up going inside earlier than we expected (both because of the cold and the smoke), and we've now got LOTS of firecrackers for the next 4th of July.  :)

Nov 9, 2010

Sneak Attack!

Youngest is in a soccer class.  It's not a league, it's a class for other 5 year olds to learn the techniques of how to play, and then they do some scrimmaging right before the end.  The kids all look forward to this, and really get into it when they score a goal.

The place where Youngest goes to soccer is a big warehouse with inflatable dividers to divy up the 'fields.'  One of the dividers on Youngest's field is next to a small bump-out on the wall (there is equipment on that section of wall, and they boxed it in with drywall to keep the kids from getting into it).  It's in the corner of the field, and there is a tiny hiding spot between it and the divider. 

Well, every day when we get to soccer, Youngest and another kid always go to hide in that spot, and then they try to scare the coaches when it's time for class to start.  The coaches always pretend to be scared, and everyone is laughing and happy. 

The other day, Youngest was in the middle of a scrimmage game, and he kept running back to that hiding spot.  The coaches kept calling him back to the game, and he kept going back to the hiding spot.  So, when it was time for a water break I asked him why he kept going to the corner instead of playing soccer. 

Youngest: "Because it's a secret hiding spot!"
Me: "But why are you hiding instead of playing soccer?"
Youngest: "Because when the ball comes near the secret hiding spot, I can jump out and steal the ball, and then score a goal.  It's a good sneak attack, Mommy!"

I laughed and hugged him, and told him he should just play soccer for now and try the sneak attack another day.  He looked disappointed, but finished the scrimmage game without any more 'hiding.'  :)

Nov 2, 2010

You Can Have Whatever You Want

It was my birthday last month, and when I went downstairs for breakfast, Oldest said something very unexpected.

Oldest: "Mommy, it's your birthday, so you can have whatever you want for breakfast."
Me: "I can, huh?"
Oldest: "Yep. You can even have..." (he got very serious here) "Cake."

I thought this was hilarious, because most kids would be saying this so that they can have cake for breakfast on their own birthdays.  But Oldest doesn't even like cake.  So, either he's being genuinely thoughtful for me, or he's planning to ask for chocolate for breakfast when his birthday rolls around again.  :) 

I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Oct 31, 2010

Oct 26, 2010

It's All About Who You Know...

I've been reading The Emerald Tablet by PJ Hoover to Oldest, and he's thoroughly enjoying it.  It's taking much longer than usual to get through it with all the upheaval we've had lately, but his interest has never once wavered, and he pleads for me to read 'just one more chapter' every single night.  He's also psyched to read books 2 and 3 in the trilogy, and we haven't even finished the first book yet!  It's very cute. 

PJ Hoover also happens to be in one of my online critique groups, and she's a fabulous person.  One of these days, I intend to meet her in person (which I'm really looking forward to) and get her to sign her books for me.  :)  I mentioned to Oldest that I knew the author, and asked him if he'd like to meet her some day.  He slowly turned to me with very wide, awe-filled eyes and said "You really know her?"  It was all I could do to keep from bursting out laughing right then.  :)

I told him that I do, indeed, know PJ Hoover, and asked him if he'd like to meet her someday.  He nodded very enthusiastically.  So now I have to meet PJ, and I have to bring Oldest along.  He'll never forgive me if I don't.  :)

Oct 14, 2010

Fall Fest Cakes

Well, for the past two years, I've baked and decorated some cakes for the Fall Fest bake sale at my kids' school. I look forward to it every year, because it's the time when I can bake a bunch of cakes and get creative.  And then I get to post pictures here, which is just as fun.

I was fully set to make more cakes this year, but we had a death in the family this week.  The funeral, and my general lack of energy, has made it too difficult for me to make cakes this year.  It bums me out, but I'm just not up for it. 

So, sorry to say, there won't be any pictures this year.  :(  Maybe I will make an honorary Halloween cake for my kids later in the month, and then post a picture here.  I already have all the supplies, and the kids would probably get a kick out of helping me.  We'll see though.

Sep 21, 2010

Eyes In The Back of Your Head

Years ago, when Oldest was about four years old, he was doing something he wasn't supposed to do--and he knew he wasn't supposed to be doing it.  But, since my back was turned, he thought he could get away with it.  I don't remember what it was, but I told him exactly what he was doing and that he had to stop.  He just stared at me in open-mouthed shock.

"How did you know?" he said.
I shrugged and said "I just know."
"But how did you know?"  Translation: how could you have known?

The gears were working hard in his head, and I almost told him the truth: I could hear everything he was doing, and I know him really well so I know the things he's likely to do.  Plus, there's that sixth-Mom-sense you somehow get after your kids are born, and it hasn't failed me yet.  But I didn't tell him all this.  Instead, a wicked grin came over me and I said "I have eyes in the back of my head."

Oldest didn't believe me, of course, and we had a great debate about how it's impossible for me to see out the back of my head because my hair was in the way.  I finally ended up saying that the eyes were magic and can see through anything, but he just can't see them.  He never did believe me, but he does believe that I can somehow know what he's doing even if I'm not looking at him.  Even if I'm not in the room.  He still hasn't figured it out, but it's very amusing to watch him try.

Youngest, however, is so accepting of everything.  The other day, he was sitting at the kitchen island drawing a picture while I was getting dinner ready.  He told me not to look because he wanted it to be a surprise, so I promised I wouldn't look and kept going about my dinner preparations.  But Youngest wouldn't let it go.

"Mommy, you can't look!  It's supposed to be a surprise."
"Okay, sweetie.  I promise I won't look."  I turned around so that my back was to him and said "See?  I'm not looking now."
"But, you have eyes in the back of your head!"

I nearly fell over laughing.  :)

Sep 14, 2010

Isn't That Cool?

I love learning new things.  There is just something so satisfying about discovering something new, or viewing an old thing from a new perspective.  It adds a bit of light to an otherwise dark and boring world.  I can't get enough of learning.

So, since I love learning so much, I try to instill that love in my own kids.  How do I do it?  The low-down conniving way, of course.  :)

Ever since the boys were little, I have liked to explain littl tidbits of info to them.  Whether it's how a can opener works, that trees give off oxygen, that bats eat hundreds of insects each night, or that automobiles didn't exist 150 years ago.  And then, after each tidbit, I add the phrase "Isn't that cool?" with as much enthusiasm as I can muster. 

Oldest used to just smile and nod, but Youngest is turning that phrase over in his head.  I can see the gears working, like he's taking the information I just gave him and making it cool.  Then he smiles and starts talking about something completely unrelated.  It's just what he does.  :)

But now, Oldest is coming to me with questions about the world.  How do people make puzzles?  Can you see planets in the sky without a telescope?  How do you make buttermilk?  What do horses eat?  It's awesome.  And if I don't know the answer, we'll go look it up.  Isn't that cool?!  :)

Sep 7, 2010

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

My kids go back to school next week.  Yeah, they're probably the last kids left in Chicago who aren't in school yet.  :)  Summer camp ended in mid August, so it's been interesting (and exhausting) to come up with inventive ways to occupy their time.  Plus, I've had to do some revision for my agent in there, too.  I'm so tired...I think I may spend their first week of school napping.  :)

Anyway, since kids are going back to school, that's prompted some conversations about what they want to be when they grow up.  Oldest always answers with a profession related to driving: bus driver, subway driver, garbage truck driver (yes, he really said that), etc.  Youngest is all over the place.  He usually mimics what Oldest wants to be, but if I ask him when Oldest isn't around, he'll tell me something different each time.  Astronaut, freight train driver, construction worker, etc.  Fortunately, they've got several years before deciding on anything.  :)

But the best answer to this question I've ever heard didn't come from my kids.  I was talking to one of my best friends, and she said that when she asked her son what he wanted to be when he grew up, he said...

Darth Vader.

I nearly busted a gut laughing so hard!!  Talk about inventive and imaginative.  So awesome!!

Aug 31, 2010

Which Austen Character Are You?

I love quizzes like these.  Don't know why--I mean, it's not like they're all that accurate.  :)  But they're fun, so I answered all the questions and was told that I am...

"...Elinor Dashwood of Sense & Sensibility! You are practical, circumspect, and discreet. Though you are tremendously sensible and allow your head to rule, you have a deep, emotional side that few people often see."


Do you like quizzes like these? If so, take the test and tell me who you are!

Aug 24, 2010

How Can You Say 'No' To That???

So, I'm a little worried about Youngest.  This kid is only five and he's already such a charmer, but doesn't even know it.  Half the girls in his class at school are already ga-ga over him, and he's clueless.  By the time he reaches high school, I'm afraid of having a zillion girls calling the house and mooning over him.

Here's an example of what I mean.

The other day, I made an early supper for the kids.  I usually sit at the table with them and we talk about various things, but I had a huge mound of dishes to wash that day.  So, I headed over to the sink and began scrubbing.  Youngest wasn't very happy about that, though. 

Youngest: "Mommy, will you sit next to me?"
Me:  "Yes, sweetie.  Just as soon as I'm done with the dishes."

five minutes later

Youngest:  "Mommy, I really love you!  Will you please come sit next to me?"

And what did I do?  I dropped whatever dish was in my hands, dried off, and sat down next to him.  I mean, how can you say no to that???  I certainly can't.  And I fear for the teenage girls who fall victim to these charms...

Aug 17, 2010

2010 Chicago Air and Water Show

The Air and Water Show is back!  The Blue Angels flew over our house again, screaming away and rattling the windows.  At least they scared the psycho pigeons into their little hide-y-holes...

DH was out once again with his camera, and got some great pics.  Again.  :)  So, enjoy.

Youngest was again unflappable by the sights and the noise.  I put cotton in his ears, but it fell out and he didn't even notice.  Oldest still can't stand the noise so we put some noise-dampening headphones on him.  After that, he was fine and very excited about the show.  First time ever.
The show is pretty much the same each year, but the planes are so cool that I don't get tired of it.  I suppose I would if they were flying over my house all the time, but I really enjoy seeing them practice for two days, and then see the actual show.  One day, we might actually venture to the beach where we can see the full performance, but so far it's been fun to hang out at home.  And escape into the air conditioning when it's brutally hot (like it was for this show).

Until next year...




Aug 10, 2010

Alligator Cake

Every year I make a birthday cake for the son of one of my best friends.  So far, I've made him a Fender guitar and a drum.  The guitar turned out a lot better than the drum, but oh well.  :)  This year, he requested a cake with alligators on it.  

After the birthday cake disaster with my own kids, I was worried that I was going to bomb on this cake, too.  Fortunately everything went well.  I shied away from carving a cake--though I have done it before, and I will need to get back on that horse eventually.  :)  Instead, I did a simple layer cake, and then put a pond in the middle for an alligator to lounge around in.  Here's pictures:


The alligator was a little tough to make.  I was going to do two, but the pond wasn't quite big enough (and I was worried that the second wouldn't come out right...stupid cake disaster phantoms).  I didn't quite get the eyes right--live and learn.  :)  The 'rocks' came out well (I made them from fondant, too), and I used sugar in the raw around the pond to make it look something like a shore.  I'm very pleased with the results.  :)

Aug 3, 2010

Cake Disaster

My kids just had birthdays, and I really wanted to make their birthday cake.  And, since they're huge Star Wars fans right now, I figured I'd do a scene from the original Star Wars: A New Hope movie.  The boys like R2D2 and C3PO best, so I chose the scene where they crash land on Tatooine in the escape pod, right at the beginning of the movie.




So, I baked and assembled chocolate sheet cakes, then carved them to look like rolling hills.  Then I slathered frosting over the top, and spread raw sugar (small, brown granules) over that to make it look like sand.  I was almost finished, and was preparing to cover the sides in fondant, when the top layer of cake cracked down the center and started to ooze off.  This has happened to me before, so I already knew that I couldn't fix it even if I'd tried--the more you try to fix it, the worse it gets, and you end up with a big ball of sticky crumbs.  So, here was my kids' birthday cake, at 4:30pm the day before the party, and their cake was a lost cause.

I really wanted to scream obscenities, but my kids were home and they don't need to hear that.  :)  Instead, I grabbed the phone and called my local bakery--which is also a very good and very popular bakery, who normally needs at least several days notice for cake orders.  But I needed a cake NOW.  So, after the polite woman at the bakery answered the phone, the hysterics that I'd been holding in came tumbling out: "I have a birthday cake emergency!  My kids' cake just fell apart, and their party is tomorrow morning.  I know this is extremely short notice, but please tell me you can have a cake ready by then!"

The woman was very helpful, and she placed an order for me, ready to be picked up at 9 the next morning.  It wasn't rolling hills of sand, but they did put brown sugar-type stuff on the top to make it look like sand, and the kids loved it.  I love this bakery.  They are made of awesome!

Unfortunately, the cake committed suicide before I could take any pictures, which I'm really bummed about because it looked pretty darned cool.  But I'm thinking I may try something like this again...maybe not with Star Wars, though.  Maybe a beach theme.  Hmm....

Jun 30, 2010

Pigeon Invasion!!!

I'm being invaded by pigeons!  You think I'm joking, but I'm not.  I have insane pigeons trying to take over my house.

See this guy?  Yeah.  He looks so harmless, doesn't he?  Well, it's all a disguise.  A big front.  A way to get you to let your guard down.  And then, he'll pounce!  Or peck, or whatever.  :)

So, here's the story.  We live in Chicago, and Chicago has an abundance of pigeons.  We also have a small deck on our roof, which you can get to through my office.  Pigeons like roofs, so, naturally, they took a liking to our deck.  That wasn't a problem until this year, when I planted a vegetable garden in containers up there. 

At first, the pigeons stayed away.  But they've gradually been trying to take over.  It started so innocently.  They stayed on the deck rails, but never stayed for long, mainly congregating on the roof of the building next door.  Then, they migrated to the actual deck, sitting in the shade that the plants provided.  I shooed them away, but they kept coming back.  Then, they started eating my tomato plant!  Not the tomatoes, the actual plant.  Well, that really set me off.  I got a pair of wooden clogs and stomped around the deck, making lots of noise and screaming at them to get the **** off my deck.  I'm sure my neighbors think I'm certifiable right now.  :)

But, that's not why I think these pigeons are insane.  They are insane because they are trying to take over my house.  As in, my house house. 

I was sitting in my office trying to get some writing done, when a pigeon landed in front of the door leading to my office.  The door has top to bottom glass, and the pigeon tried to jump through the glass to get into my office.  He smacked into the glass, of course, but that didn't stop him.  Oh no.  He tried again, and again, and again, until I finally got up, got my clogs, and started my stomping rampage again. 

But it didn't stop there. 

I've got windows on two other walls, and that pigeon landed on each window sill and tried hopping through the glass.  He did this to each window, a few separate times.  I tried shooing him away, but it wasn't as effective as stomping around the deck in my clogs.  So I went to my local hardware store and told the friendly lady all about my pigeon woes.  Her eyes got bigger and bigger, and when I was done, she just started laughing.  It is pretty funny, I suppose.  :)

She recommended a plastic owl, but not just any old owl.  There are apparently higher end owls that have moving parts to better simulate a real owl.  So I got one with a moveable head--it spins all the way around, and reminds me way too much of Poltgergeist.  But, hey, I was hoping the pigeons would be as freaked out about it as I was.  :)

I put the psycho owl on my deck, and so far it's doing its job.  The pigeons have retreated back to the deck rails, but it bothers me that they haven't given up my deck entirely.  I'm wondering if they're going to regroup and then try again in a few weeks.  If they do, then I will have to break out the big guns.  Anyone know if pigeons are afraid of super-soaker water rifles?  :)

Jun 11, 2010

More Cupcakes

Yesterday was the kids' last day of school, and I signed up to bring in a snack for Youngest's class.  Since I'd brought in decorated cupcakes for Oldest's class, Youngest wanted them for his class, too.  Ordinarily, that's not a problem...but after school, both classes had a picnic and I had planned to make extra of Youngest's snack to bring to the picnic.  Which meant decorating a zillion cupcakes!!

But Youngest looked at me with those adorable eyes of his, and it never even crossed my mind to say no.  Or to even try to convince him to bring something else.  So, I spent all of wednesday afternoon baking and decorating...get this...57 small cupcakes, and 24 regular-sized cupcakes.  Here's pictures.



I'm pretty happy with them, though I wasn't as precise as usual.  I started running out of steam after four hours.  :)  But the kids loved them, and that's what's important.  :)

May 29, 2010

Star Wars and Legos

My kids are turning into Star Wars nutballs.  It started with the new Lego sets, of which I've spent countless hours on the floor putting them together, sorting, and searching for those *!@%$ tiny pieces that always get lost in the bottom of the bucket (or in the carpet fibers). 

Then, they discovered that there were short, animated 'movies' on Lego's website.  Plus video games.  And then, they learned that there were actual, full-length feature films.  Six of them!  Well, they wanted to watch all of them *right now*. 

I haven't let them watch all of them, but we have watched the first one.  They are completely hooked.  So now I listen to them have duels with pretend light sabers (which Youngest calls lifesavers), complete with the sound effects.  Youngest is the king of sound effects.  I think I will need to get the video camera for the next one, because it's hilarious.  :)

Their birthdays are coming up, and all they want is more Star Wars stuff.  More lego sets, action figures, and (of course) their very own light sabers.  They wanted real ones, but when I told them that wasn't possible they sighed and said the toy version will have to do.  :)

Part of me is hoping they don't take this too far and decide they're going to follow the Jedi religion.  But the rest of me is enjoying the excuse to re-live Star Wars, and see it the way I saw it when I was a kid.  :)

May 19, 2010

Hickory Dickory Dock...

Youngest came home the other day telling me that he learned Hickory Dickory Dock at school.  He told me all about how the story goes, in detail, and then wanted to recite it for me.  So I smiled and said okay.  He recited the first line:
"Hickory Dickory Dock, the mouse ran up the clock."
Then he got a confused look on his face and said he couldn't remember any more.  I smiled and said that, if he remembered, he could come back and tell me.  He said okay, and then skipped off to the next room.

For the next hour, he recited that first line over and over and over and over.  I have no idea if he was trying to remember the rest, or if it was just his way of enjoying himself as he put together some legos.  But he never got past that first line, and it was all I could do to distract him and get him onto something else.  He eventually stopped reciting, but that line is now seared into my brain.  Even now, days later, it's still stuck in my head!

Hickory Dickory Dock
Hickory Dickory Dock
Hickory Dickory Dock
Hickory Dickory Dock

GAH!!!!

Apr 30, 2010

Cakes I've Baked Lately

I've been baking lately, but haven't had the chance to sit down and post the pictures.  So I'll do them all at once.

I made these cupcakes for Oldest's teacher, because it was her birthday a few weeks ago.  The one without the frosting?  Yeah, that's for Oldest.  Somehow, a child related to me doesn't like frosting.  I'm still trying to figure that one out...


After that, a bunch of us moms got together for a Mom's Night Out.  We had a pot luck at someone's house, and I brought cake (of course).  The boys helped me roll out the fondant to make the flowers, but then disappeared to go play with legos when it was time to clean up.  :)


I also made a couple cakes for the kids' school.  Once a year, the school puts together a Teacher Appreciation Dinner, where the parents prepare/provide dinner for all the teachers in the school.  I made these cakes for them.

My original design was more intricate, but the brushes I used to paint the sides and top weren't precise enough, so I had to change it.  I need to find better brushes...

Apr 13, 2010

First Taste of Salsa

We're big food people in our family.  We are total Food Network junkies, even the kids, and all of us like to cook, bake, grill, you name it.  Whenever I start cooking in the kitchen, the kids will stop playing and come to check it out.  Then they'll ask if they can help, and I always let them do something.

Occasionally, I will get out some cookbooks and hand them to the kids, asking them to pick a recipe they want to make.  They love doing this, especially because it means they can help cook.  So, the other day, Oldest picked up a Mexican cookbook and started flipping through it.  He stopped when he came to a picture of regular tomato salsa.
Oldest: What's this?
Me: That's salsa. You can eat that with tortilla chips.
Oldest: (grinning big) Really? Can we make some? (tortilla chips are his absolute favorite snack)
Me: (laughing) Sure. 

I chopped up some tomatoes, and then I got out the green onions (I prefer the way they taste to regular onions) and started slicing them into tiny circles.  The boys were watching the whole time, of course.  Then Oldest pointed to the white part of a green onion and ask a surprising question.
Oldest: Do you have to cook that first or can you eat it like that?
Me: Well, you can eat it that way, but it's got a really strong flavor.
Oldest: Is it spicy?
Me: Yeah, kinda.  But really it's just a very strong flavor.  You may not like it.
Oldest: Can I try it anyway?
Me: Sure, if you want.  But just a small piece.

I pulled the tiny rings apart and gave him the smallest one.  He put it in his mouth and bit down once.  Then his eyes got as round a saucers and he sprinted to the fridge.  He pulled out his glass of milk and sucked the whole thing down, then he turned back to me, panting.
Oldest: Wow, that was too strong!
Me: (trying not to laugh) Yes, it's very strong.  But I think it's great you tried it.

For the record, he still tried the salsa and liked it, though he didn't like the cilantro I added to it.  So he asked me to leave that out next time.  :)

Apr 6, 2010

Getting Rid of Training Wheels

I'm a pretty even-keel, content kind of person.  I can take almost anything and come up with a smile, and there's very few things that I dislike with intensity.  Actually, there's only two things I can think of that I really, honestly, and truly hate.  We're talking hate, as in those two things are vile and disgusting.  What are they?  Raw oysters, and running.  *shudder*

The last time I tried a raw oyster, I was in a really fancy restaurant, and it took every ounce of will power to not spit that thing back out on the plate.  And running?  I ran all the time when I was a kid, and I guess I used up my lifetime supply because now I can't stand it.  I run for the train.  Maybe.

There is a point to this, which I will be getting to shortly...

Anyway, I took Oldest to the park on sunday with his bicycle.  We took the training wheels off, which meant that I had to hold on to the bike to keep him from falling over.  We started out slow as he tried to remember to put his feet down when he stopped, and also how to get the bike going without falling over.  Then he got more confident and started going faster.  Which meant I had to go faster.  Which meant I had to start running.  Bleh!!!

It started out as a jog, which is not fun but still okay.  I guess.  But he did great!  I let go of the bike a few times (still jogging next to him so he wouldn't know I'd let go), and he didn't fall.  Then he started weaving around all over the place and stopped.

Oldest: "The bike is really wobbly.  I feel like I'm going to fall down."
Me: "I've got you.  I won't let you fall."
Oldest: "But why is it so wobbly now?"
Me: "You slowed down.  If you go faster, then the bike will be steadier."
Oldest: "Faster?"
Me: "Yeah.  You have to go fast enough to make me run."
Oldest: "Oh.  Okay."
Me: (!) Did I really just say that out loud????

He did go faster, and we went around in circles for an hour.  Yes, an hour.  I ran for a freakin' hour!  I'm still shocked by this.  But he kept getting better, and by the time we decided to pack it in (really, it was when I could no longer stand up), he had ridden on his own a total of eleven times.  And he didn't fall down once.  I'm so proud of him!!!

Mar 30, 2010

Another Youngest Funny...

This morning, Youngest told me how he'd shared his vacation adventures with his classmates in school yesterday.  Once again, he said Fransincisco instead of San Francisco.  :)

Me: You mean San Francisco, right?
Youngest: Yeah, San Francisco.  Because they have a lot of sand.

I nearly choked on my breakfast.  :)

Mar 29, 2010

San Francisco

Over spring break this year, we went to San Francisco.  My husband has been there before, and has friends living there so he was pretty familiar with the city.  I'd been there once for a conference, and had, like, half a day to see the city.  So, basically, I hadn't seen anything. 
The boys knew of San Francisco because of a book in the Magic Tree House series (big surprise) called Earthquake in the Early Morning.  It's about the big earthquake that hit San Francisco and caused a fire the destroyed most of the city.  Fortunately, the boys forgot about the earthquake and fire disaster, and were just excited to be going to a place where Jack and Annie had gone.  In fact, Oldest wanted to start packing two weeks before we were supposed to leave.  :)
Our first day there, we just walked around a bit.  The hills are amazing, and the boys were fascinated with how such steep hills could be in a city (Chicago is flatter than a pancake).  They quickly got used to that, though, and moved on to oggling the cable cars.  We rode our first cable car on the second day of the trip, which the boys thought was cooler than cool.  :)
We took a helicopter tour over the city, which blew everyone's minds away!  Seeing the city from so high up was just plain amazing, and DH got some great pictures.  We saw the downtown skyline with the bay bridge in the background, Candlestick Park baseball field, Golden Gate Park, the 'crooked' part of Lombard street, and a bunch of other stuff.


We ate some really, really good food, too.  My absolute favorite was breakfast at Dotties True Blue cafe, this tiny place with maybe ten tables and a line stretching down the block.  And, I had the best sushi I've ever tasted at Sebo, which Anthony Bourdain has visited and raved about.  The chef was preparing sushi where everyone could see, and Youngest loved watching him.  Before long, he was asking the chef questions about what he was doing, and what kinds of fish he was preparing.  The chef got a big kick out of it, and even offered him a piece of blue-fin tuna.  And Youngest tried it!  He didn't like it, but that didn't stop him from watching, and asking even more questions.  He was sad when it was time to leave.

Of course, we saw the Golden Gate bridge.  A few times.  And we spent an afternoon at the beach, staring right at it.  It was too cold to go in the water, but the boys kept busy playing in the sand and hunting the beach for interesting rocks.  By the end of the day, they had a huge pile of them.  And, of course, they wanted to bring them all home.  I explained that the airplane wouldn't let them take so many rocks on board because they were too heavy, and they grumbled.  But then they picked out two rocks each, and that's what we brought home.

We took the ferry to Alcatraz, too.  The kids were excited about the boat ride, but once they saw the jail house they weren't so excited.  Oldest was particularly affected when he saw that the prisoners could only visit their families through a window, and couldn't give their moms hugs.  He immediately hugged me, and said he wanted to go.  :)  We walked around the island, and I was surprised at the amount of birds and vegetation that has taken over much of it. 
On our last day, we took a drive up the coast of California and visited Muir Woods, and then a lighthouse at Point Reyes.  The trees at Muir Woods were amazingly tall and beautiful, and I loved the clover that was growing everywhere.  We never got out to the lighthouse, though, because it was insanely windy out.  Youngest freaked out after we'd walked five feet, so he and I headed back to the car while Oldest and DH took the path to the lighthouse.  They made it halfway before Oldest got scared and wanted to turn back. 

We also visited the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park.  The kids didn't to go, but when we got there they didn't want to leave until they'd explored every square inch of the place.  We had tea in the tea house, too, which was super yummy. 

Overall, we had a great time.  We saw lots of cool stuff, but there was still much we didn't see, so I think we'll just have to go back sometime.  :)