Monday, November 21, 2011

Day 3: San Francisco

It was a rainy morning here in San Francisco so we made the most of it by taking the double decker bus tour. We got to see the entire city. It was perfect.

We made a stop of course at the Golden Gate which is neither golden or a gate discuss. But we drove over it which was amazing since it can swing 27 feet in either directions.

Lydia fell asleep in the bus so she missed this photo op from her ultra comfy stroller.

Afterwards we has a hotdog at Union Square and headed to Golden Gate Park which was built on sand dunes. The sun had come out by then so we made the most of it by admiring the interesting trees and architecture.

We visited the Japanese Tea Garden where not only did we see a ton of amazing gardeny thinhs like pagodas, giant Buddhas and bonsai but actually had Japanese Tea.

We finished our visit at the park by heading to first children's playground in the United States.

It was a great day and we were tired so we decided to head back before meeting Jessica and Heather for dinner. The park is big and the walk is long. We found ourselves in Haight-Ashbury with tired toes when a magic taxi appeared and took us back to the hotel. As I am resting I see that Jessica has posted a photo of a poster of our book that I must see! We get dressed and rush over to the convention center but the exhibit hall was closed. I tried all the doors and seconds before hanging my head the custodial crew came out of the hall. I begged for entry and was granted a moment. I zoomed through the giant room and found our publisher: Thomas Nelson and there it was.

What an amazing feeling! As I floated on air we grabbed a cab and had a terrific dinner catching up. A quick after dinner stroll to admire the Pier 39 Christmas tree before our trek home.

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Day 2 San Francisco: Dinner

First of all Eliot and I are foodies. Second we really like Top Chef. Third the moment we decided to come to San Francisco we made reservations at Fleur de Lys Huber Keller's restaurant.

We began the meal with champagne and amuse-bouche of gazpacho and quinoa with chorizo.

As an appetizer I selected an Avocado salad and El a fois gras.

Next a seared scallop with fresh bacon. The fish course was so good we ate it before remembering to take the picture.

The meat course for me was a trio of lamb and for El the venison.

The cheese plate offered a well selected variety including a delicious goat cheese but a surprisingly addictive sharp cheddar.

Finally dessert with a chocolate soufflé and els a cheesecake, truffle and cupcake.

This last dish was compliments from the chef a last bit of goodies. My favorite was a mini lemon pie.

The food was wonderful. The best is eating and sharing with each the experience of trying completely new flavors. However fine dining with a toddler may not be the best idea but the staff was wonderful. The server happily brought Lydia milk. The bread boy was sure to give her her own plate. But Marcus, the wine guy, took her for a tour of the kitchen, filled up her milk and showed her pictures of his own girls. He was amazing.

Day 1: San Francisco

Our first day I was at a conference all day with high school religion teachers. So Lydia and Daddy spent the day together. The visited the Yerba Buena Garden park and the Creativity Children's Museum which happened to be across the street from where I was. They met me for lunch at a great tiny halal middle eastern place before returning for a well deserved nap.

In the evening we had dinner at Union Square at Burger Bar and then went to Chinatown.

The cool window display of vintage sowing machines was worthy of a picture by this craft lover.

Back at our room our queen does a little light reading.

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Day 2: San Francisco

We started the day walking back through Chinatown and we stopped at a neighborhood park. There were actually more adults there than kids. Folks playing chess and others actually doing exercises using the playground.

We then enjoyed the scenic walk and looking at all the great hills and neighborhoods.

We then spent the rest of the day at Pier 39, Fisherman's Wharf and Ghirardelli Square. We saw Alcatraz from the pier.

We watched the Sea Lions.

And a cheesy pier show.

We explored the Hyde Historic Pier and Lydia napped.

While she slept we picked up some street art including we watched a little old Chinese woman crocheting her hat.

Golden Gate in the background.

Chocolate ice cream and super cute shops.

We finished the day at Fleur de Lys fine dining. Five courses of spectacular food which will need to be another entry.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Leaving on a Jet Plane

On Thursday we are going to San Fransisco. I am attending the American Academy of Religion conference and can't wait to discuss issues for secondary school religion teachers (I know I am a nerd, but I love this stuff.) I will also get the opportunity to meet my editor and see my co-author of All You Want to Know, Religion, Cults and Popular Culture. So it will be a wonderful time. I convinced Eliot to come as well and bring Lydia so I won't have to be without my baby for 5 days, thus it will be our first time traveling via airplane with her. I am a little nervous because I don't want to be those people with the crying baby but Lydia is pretty good in odd situations. Other than needing to move around a little bit and drink something while the plane is ascending so her ears won't hurt, I hope that she will rally.

What I don't really know how to navigate are the details like security. Since she is under two she doesn't require a ticket but there is no documentation with her name on it, so do they just assume she isn't a terrorist and let her on the plane but she isn't on the plane manifest? We will take her souped up umbrella stroller and check it at the gate but aren't going to take a car seat. We didn't use one in Canada in the taxis and I know from friends that they didn't use one in NYC with their littles, but will the San Fransisco cabis be as flexible? I will call the hotel to verify the pack and play is placed in the room and if it isn't she can snuggle with us, not a problem. Will the security people allow me to take regular milk with me or should I plan to buy some at the airport? Am I permitted yogurt and other "baby" foods or should I just cross my fingers that Lydia with enough hunger will eat what the world has to offer her? Oh the silly world post 9-11 which has complicated such simple things like domestic travel, however I am SO excited about going and that Lydia gets to come!

Lydia has actually been preparing herself for the trip. She naturally shifted her nap time to be 2:30-5:30 which  works wonderfully for travel with a Western time change. She is gifted! San Fran here we come!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Dancing Machine

It dawned on me how much my daughter loves to dance. She has been dancing since she could pull to a standing position. My mom has been dancing with her the cha-cha from the moment she came out of the womb. Her Aunt Heather has danced with her on the streets of Ybor way before she did it on her own. We have had countless dance parties in our living room. Now most of the time she kicks on her own music and shakes it even by herself. She loves music. She already sticks her butt out in the air and drops down as she dances which makes us laugh now but will surely lead to various conversations in her teens. Hilarious! These videos are from April to October of this year.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Lump

There is a moment I think in every parent's life that worry sets in and its a profound. What I mean is that it gets under your skin and it takes root in your very core. Your mind begins to wander into ugly territory and you reason that horrible things do happen, what would possibly exempt you? I will unapologetically admit that it is a little over the top BUT I will say I can't quite help it. While I can chalk some of it to my own life experiences that do have some dark days compounded with the over the top Latina that runs through my brain I enter a state of mental panic at times. This time I found a lump on Lydia.
The lump was in the crevasse of her leg and pelvis. It was sensitive to the touch but there were no other indications such as fear, pain or even discomfort. I insisted on taking her to the doctor which Eliot dutifully did. The doctor told him it was a swollen lymph node a result of a small infection on her foot. On the bottom of her foot was a small puncture wound that did look red likely a result of an old house with with old wood floors. She prescribed antibiotics.

The antibotics were diligently given to her twice a day for two weeks. The lump was still there. I reasoned medications are not magic; give it time. A week after the lump was still there. That weird sense of instablity overcame me, asking the eternal "What if...?" Eliot took her back to the doctor today. Intentially I made the appointment with her old school peditrician feeling like she would know. She has been around  for awhile. She looked at it. She poked it. Decidedly she said it was a swollen lymph node and that it may never stop being swollen. It could always been lumpy until she 112 years of age. Apparently, since she is little the rapid cell growth sort of stumps the node a bit. It's too small to be concerned about anything else and it is is not a hernia, which was our other thought. She is fine. Thank God. She is absolutely a-okay.

Friday, November 4, 2011

For the love of Food

When I was growing up my mom would always be making food to feed people that were coming over. Many times poeple would just come over and my mom would feed them. Sometimes people weren't hungry and my mom still fed them. Other times people were completely stuffed and my mom still fed them. And there were times that I would interject on their behalf and try to tell my mom that they didn't want any more food to which her response was to tell me to hush. I remember thinking she was a little crazy and now what I realize is that food was a way to love.

Food love is not so unusal. Some people eat to love themselves. Some people eat with others to show love. Some people make food with love. Holidays are filled with food, therefore this is not a revolutionary idea but when I look at my most favorite memories of family it really is all about the food. It has been years since I have been to Miami for Christmas (and it's still not quite Christmas without going there) but I remember that the moment we arrive to my Aunt's house my uncle was frying up fresh fish. I would delightfully sit and eat with my hands peeling off the lime soaked meat right off the bone allowing it to dance a bit in my mouth to make sure no tiny fish bones were swallowed. As we ate my Aunt and my mom would start talking about what we were going to eat for dinner and as we finished dinner they were making plans for breakfast.

In the dark hours of Christmas Eve morning my dad and uncle would get up to put the pig on the fire. All day there were preparations of food being down black beans soaking, yucca being deveined, cheeses being cut, salads tossed, breads bought and piled. The memories of walking into the kitchen and say "Tia!" (meaning Aunt) and having 5-6 women turning around ready to help responding with "Si?" Meanwhile, we ate. We had breakfast and lunch and of course the feast of food for dinner. We started eating at 6pm and didn't seem to top until 8pm (when the dancing started and kept going until 3am when we ate again.) Christmas morning we would go and have a breakfast feast and a big soup for lunch and another dinner.

Food. It shapes almost every memory, not just for me, but for many of us. Perhaps this is why I struggle so much when Lydia doesn't feel like eating. In a million years I never thought that I would be that mom. But it is something primal about your baby not eating. Lydia eats what she wants when she wants it. The other day a friend came over and her little one ate beans, peas and sweet potatoes so sweetly and diligently. I was a little jealous of how well she ate. Lydia coyly pretends to put things in her mouth and then will drop them on the floor when she isn't interested. She likes macaroni and cheese for sure but all other things are a case by case basis. I worry about what she eats that some how her carb filled diet will lead to diabetes and hypertention in 40 years. I worry about the fact that she doesn't consume enough calories and she could be hungry or that cheese may stunt her growth. I worry that she won't like a lot of foods and she will miss the richness of life without it. So I find myself repeating a familiar phrase of my mother's "Eat! Eat!"