Posts Tagged ‘San Francisco’

Rediscover San Francisco Through Your Children’s Eyes for FREE

January 14, 2014

I put together this little piece, and for those of you who live in the Bay Area…..enjoy!

There are endless ways to entertain our children in San Francisco, but most come at a steep price.  We’ve combed the city for our favorite FREE activities .  Because of the low-low price our children can become resident experts at these San Francisco gems.  Seeing them in different seasons and times never gets old.

Moraga Stairway

When is it FREE: Rain, Fog or Shine 24/7

Location:  Between 15th and 16th avenue on Moraga Street

Pause at the base to appreciate the continuous piece of art created by the 163 mosaic tiled steps.   Crawlers to jumpers can’t help but appreciate the intricate details in each step, and the view from the top is worth it.


Insider Tip:  Climb even further to the top of Grandview Park for more spectacular views! 

 Botanical Gardens

When is it FREE: 8am to 4pm Weekdays, 10am to 5pm Weekends to SF Residents

Location:  1199 9th avenue right inside Golden Gate Park entrance

With 55 acres and 8,000 types of plants, odds are in your favor that one is blooming today.  Bridges, ducks, and off beaten pathways will entertain the kiddos long enough for you to finally finish a cup of coffee.


Insider Tip:  Bring your balance bikes. The wide sidewalks provide solace from busy streets.

de Young Observation Deck/Sculpture Garden

When is it FREE: Tuesday – Sunday 9:30am – 4:30pm (closed Mondays)

Location:  50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive

Even on a foggy day the observation deck of the de Young tower is impressive.  If anyone tires of the view, take them outside to the Sculpture Garden.


Insider Tip:  Follow the sidewalk to the often-overlooked James Turrell “Three Gems” dome at the back of the Sculpture Garden.

 Japanese Tea Garden

When is it FREE: Monday, Wednesday, or Friday 9am – 10am

Location:  75 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive at the corner of Martin Luther King Drive

Explore the many bridges, flowers, and pagodas, at this oasis inside Golden Gate Park.  Your children will appreciate the Koi ponds and sometimes challenging stairways while you appreciate a San Francisco relic.


Insider Tip:  Treat yourself to Taiyaki (fish-shaped pastry) while you’re there.

 Randall Museum

When is it FREE:  Tuesday – Sunday 10am to 5pm (closed Mondays)

Location: 199 Museum Way

No child could possibly be bored at this fully equipped museum featuring live animals, (guinea pigs, rabbits, and raccoons oh my!) a toddler room, and a few playhouses.


Insider Tip:  For your budding engineer, visit the downstairs train room complete with train tracks.  On Saturdays the electric model train room is open.


How I know He’s Growing Up

December 17, 2013

I always hear parents say, “They grow up so fast. Enjoy this time, it goes by quickly. This is the best age; enjoy it; it doesn’t last forever.”  To be perfectly honest, my reaction is usually a polite smile but inside I’m thinking about how I don’t entirely agree.  Until recently, that is.  

One of the very first things I looked forward to when my son was born was his independence.  It sounds harsh, but being the baby of the family I’m not used to someone relying on me for their every need.  I got through the first six months knowing that everything we did for him and with him was one step closer to him relying more on himself than me.  It started with milk. The more milk he gets the stronger he gets.  And the stronger he gets, the more independent he gets.  Then it moved on to tummy time. The more times he’s on his tummy, even though he hates it, the stronger he gets and the more independent he gets.  That moved onto bigger things like putting him into his own bed, sleep training, scooting, crawling, talking and then finally walking.  

The stronger August got, the stronger I got, and the more I was able to appreciate all the little things about raising a little person. And trust me, I do enjoy all the little things – as many as I can.  I try to remind myself every day that this person is growing and some day he’ll be a teenager and then it’s all over.  But man, lately, he’s really becoming independent, and below are the ways that he’s showing me…

  1. He doesn’t cry every morning when he wakes up (He did this for the first two years of his life until we took the side off his bed – I would have done it sooner if I had known!)
  2. He goes to the bathroom by himself in the morning without asking us to help him take off his pajamas. (Every single morning, he’d either call us loudly from the bathroom for help or drag us out of bed to simply take off his pajamas which we KNEW he could do by himself. Then, one morning it stopped and now he does it without us even knowing about it)
  3. He can and does completely dress himself (Of course he doesn’t dress himself all the time, but the point is that he can and does sometimes.)
  4. He plays happily by himself for a good amount of time in the morning. (We have a clock that turns yellow when he’s allowed to come bother us.  Not only does he abide by this rule, but he doesn’t even notice when it goes yellow anymore.  These days I get up because I feel guilty that he’s been playing by himself for so long.)
  5. He can put on his own shoes. (He actually WANTS to put on his own shoes, rather than me begging him to sit still while I put them on for him.)
  6. He wipes his own butt successfully. (I know this sounds like nothing, but after years of diapers wiping one’s own butt is a big deal!)
  7. He has recently learned how to zipper. (This really got me.  Zippering is tough, I’m still learning how to do this myself.)
  8. When we’re in a store, he puts things back where he found them. (I’ve been reminding him for what seems like forever to put things back where he finds them, and the other day I just turned around and he had done it completely unsolicited.)
  9. He told me that he enjoys preschool becomes it gives him “some privacy” from me. (Ouch, but hey, I enjoy preschool for the same reasons.)
  10. When we park on a hill, he knows better than I do which way to turn my wheels. (And he’s right every single time.)
  11. Recently he told me, “I’m tired of telling you which way to turn your wheels.  You’ll have to look at other cars to figure it out.”

And there you have it.  Careful what you wish for I guess.  He is in fact growing up and becoming more independent at an astonishing rate. Honestly, it’s not that I want it all to slow down, it’s more that I don’t want to forget any of this and I want him to remember at least some of it.

Want to be friends?

September 16, 2013

August and I hung out with an old college friend of mine, his wife, and their seven-year-old daughter last week.  I was really nervous about August meeting my friend and his family because, as you know, you can’t predict the mood of a four-year-old.  Luckily it was a great day.  We showed his daughter San Francisco, and the two kids really enjoyed playing and talking with each other. By the end of the day, August turned to each one of them individually and asked, “Do you want to be friends?”. Each one of them in turn agreed quite willingly to be his friend, and a smile swept across August’s face.  He had made three new friends, just like that.

The next day we went to our grocery store, and it was not our usual butcher that juggles for August.  When the new butcher came over to help us get some meat, August asked him “Do you want to be friends?”.  The butcher replied, “Sure.  Why not?”.  August responded with, “Okay, then we’ll be friends.”  And a smile swept across August’s face again.

Brent and I have lived in San Francisco for eight years and I think I can count on one hand the number of friends we have made.  So what I’m wondering is maybe I should start taking August’s approach?  Why does it have to be so difficult?  Why do we as adults have to suss out a person before deciding whether they are worthy of being our friends?  As four-year-olds we just want someone to play with and talk to, and maybe that should be enough?  As college-aged people, we just want someone to study and drink with.  But once college is over making friends becomes incredibly difficult.  Or at least I thought it was until I started watching August do it.  He does it with such ease, and he even seems happy with the results.  I’ve never once heard him say, “Man, I wish I never became friends with that person.”

So maybe the reason why we haven’t made more friends in San Francisco is because we’re trying too hard, or maybe we’re not trying hard enough?  After all, I’ve never tried the line “Do you want to be friends?” before.

A Car is a Luxury

June 12, 2012

Our friends went away for a two-and-a-half week vacation and offered us their car (they don’t really have anywhere to park it for that long in the city).  We were a bit hesitant at first (it’s a big responsibility), but we figured what the hell.  Well, as I have discovered over and over again since we sold our car seven years ago, a car is seriously quite a luxury.  Think about it this way for a moment.  When I go to the grocery story, I put August in our jogging stroller complete with snacks, water, and a toy or a book.  We then walk half a mile (No, it’s not uphill both ways through the snow – just the fog) to the store.  Once we buy our groceries, we stuff as many groceries underneath the stroller as we can, and the rest are in bags hooked onto a clip where they hang off the sides.  If you’ve ever seen homeless people with their carts, we look a bit like them walking the half a mile back home.  A trip to the grocery store usually takes us at least an hour, but it can take up to two depending on how much we buy.   (more…)


March 27, 2012

Has anyone out there solved this puzzle?  How do you answer all your child’s questions without them being able to respond with “why”? Seriously, I want to know because here’s how a conversation between August and I went today while riding on a Street Car in San Francisco: (more…)

NYC Mom or SF Mom?

March 13, 2012

August and I recently crashed my husband’s business trip to New York City.  I used to live there several years ago, and pretty much ate and drank my way through the whole experience while living on less than 50k per year.  Going back to New York City, now with a child, I was curious to see how different the City would feel to me.  I was also curious to find out how moms get their kids around the city because I’m pretty sure they’re not driving everywhere like most moms seem to here.

I never even noticed that the City had playgrounds before this past weekend, and I never even considered going to a children’s museum.  But these things were top of mind when I realized I would need to be entertaining August on my own on Friday afternoon.  I have to admit I was actually excited to experience some new things in the City and all thanks to August.

We didn’t make it to a playground because it was WAY too cold, and I’m a wimp.  But we did go to the Children’s Museum on the Upper West Side.  Although I can’t imagine going there every day (a bit too hectic for my taste), and I’m fairly sure I would not choose to become a member there like we are at the Academy of Sciences, we did really enjoy ourselves.  It’s basically 2.5 floors of toddler fun.   August really enjoyed himself and of course the life-sized Bus and Fire Engine was a big hit.

We got to experience Grand Central Station through August’s eyes as well.  Since he’s so in to trains, we thought bringing him there to troll the platforms would be fun, and it was.  We got to briefly take him on a Metro North train, and although we didn’t get to show him what a crossing gate looks like in real life, he did get to see a nice long platform.

What really struck me was that it appeared most moms got around the city with strollers.  I only saw moms wearing teeny tiny babies.  I didn’t see one mom carrying a baby older than say nine months.  But there we were carrying August in our Ergo the whole time.  We had at least three New Yorkers stop us to ask about our carrier and how we liked it.  What I don’t understand is does that mean these moms aren’t leaving their neighborhoods with their kids?  Because I’ll tell you what getting on a Subway with a stroller is basically impossible. Unless you’re willing to carry it down at least three stories and travel only at 3am when the trains aren’t packed to the gills.

I’m sure August and I would have a great time if we lived in NYC instead of San Francisco, but our lives would be pretty different.

Day Four: Norfolk/San Francisco

January 13, 2012

I should have known better than to brag about August’s happy mood the past few mornings.  Today I awoke to August crying while saying, “I want the meal that was in my mouth”.  I have to admit I really enjoy hearing the first words he speaks when he wakes up in the morning because I’m guessing it is a continuation of his dreams.  Pretty fun to find out what he dreams about, even if they are bad dreams.   (more…)

Alone again, naturally…

January 3, 2012

Anyone know this reference?  Bygones.

After a nine-day stint with parents in-law, one sister in-law, three little nieces, Brent being off from work, celebrating New Years, Christmas, and a brother in-law’s birthday, August and I are alone again.  I have been looking forward to this day since twelve days ago when we had our last day together before everyone’s arrival.  However, as the hours dwindled down to minutes I found myself quietly freaking out.  My stomach actually began to hurt and I developed a headache.  “Now what do we do?”, I thought after having had other people entertain August for weeks.

Brent’s parents left at exactly 9:21am today, and by 9:22am I was trying to figure out what it was we did with our days pre-family visit.  August was perfectly quiet, happy, and content to be playing by himself in his room while his mother was having a minor heart attack (okay, that’s a little dramatic, but still).

Finally I said to August, “How about if we go to the Academy today?”.

“No.  I don’t want to go to the Academy.  I want to stay here and play with Legos”, replied August.

“Fuck, now what?  We still have three hours until nap time.  Are we really just going to stay here all morning?”, I thought.

“Umm.  Okay.  You don’t want to go to the Academy?”, I begged.

“No.  I want to stay here.”

About fifteen minutes went by, and I finally came up with this.

“What if we go to Park Chow for lunch today?”, I asked with fear in my eyes.

“Yes.  I want to have a hamburger”

Phew.  That meant I only had about one hour to kill before we needed to leave for lunch.  During that time I must have gone to the bathroom at least five times because my stomach was hurting (is that too much information for a blog? too honest, maybe?).  Our hour was up.  We packed our bag, got ready and headed to lunch.  We had a delightful time at lunch.  We read a few books, talked about the paintings on the wall, and pondered over tweetle beetles (from the Dr. Seuss Fox in Socks book).  By the time we had left lunch, the fog had lifted in San Francisco, the sun was shining, and my confidence had been restored.

My 10k-er

November 27, 2011

Today I ran my first real race ever (I don’t count Bay to Breakers because that was just for fun, and Brent and I were tied to each other).  I finally after literally years of searching I found a race that me, Brent and August in a stroller could run together in San Francisco.  We had a really good time, August was the bomb playing his kazoo as we went up the hills and cheered us on the whole way.  Really fun.  And although we didn’t run ten minute miles or anything, we finished in under seventy minutes – not too shabby if you ask me.

That’s my big news of the day.  I’m on a quest to shed a few pounds over the next few months (I know, me and every other fool out there), so wish me luck.  Hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving.  We had a really great and relaxing weekend just the three of us.  It was perfect really, I wouldn’t have changed a thing (okay, well, I could do without the guilt trip I got several times from my mother, but other than that…).

Now it’s over, our stay-cation, and it’s back to the grind tomorrow.  At least I get a break from running for a day.

Is twenty minutes better than nothing?

August 20, 2011

I had a friend from out of town come interview for a job at my old company once.  He wasn’t my best friend or anything, but we did enjoy some good banter on a regular basis.  When he came to town, I hadn’t seen him for five years.  He flew in the night before his interview came to our office at 9am and it was over by lunch time.  His flight back to Ohio was scheduled for 4pm that same day.  Once he was done interviewing, I went down to the lobby and escorted him to the train back in to San Francisco (my office was in Oakland across the bay).   (more…)