Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Home Part IV -- Texas

After a few weeks in California, we boarded a plane for Texas, where we spent one week.  Since we're now so used to marathon flights, the 3.5 hour trip seemed like nothing.  There wasn't even a movie, but the kids didn't mind a bit.  Will passed the time taking photos...

...mostly of clouds but also a couple of Roger, sound asleep and snoring.  I won't post those here. :)

Once in Texas, we spent our time visiting with family.  The kids were so happy to see Gigi again, and we managed to see just about everyone else too.

Here's Kate with her great-grandfather:

The kids loved playing with their sweet cousin, Samuel:


We also found time to visit a cute little children's museum where Kate got to don an apron and do some painting:

Really, we did just about whatever we could to beat the heat. Texas was HOT.  Hot, hot, hot.  
108 degrees F = 42 degrees celsius
This will forever be engraved in my mind as the trip where I learned to appreciate ice.  (I never liked ice in my drinks before -- too cold -- but in 108-degree weather?  Necessary!)

It will also forever be engraved in my memory for another reason.  Let's just say the kids and I had been enjoying a lot of togetherness over the past four weeks, sharing every waking and sleeping moment AND, apparently, something else.  I just love it when my children share with me.  No idea where or when we picked up this charming little problem, but it involved a major freak-out on my part, countless trips to the drug store and even a visit to this place, which by the way has the catchiest jingle ever and was worth every penny.  

That little bump aside, we thoroughly enjoyed our visit, but all too soon it was over and we headed back to California where we spent one more week catching up with friends before hopping on a plane (or two) back to Luxembourg.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Home, Part III -- San Francisco

As the kids and I discovered this summer, there's nothing like playing tourist to make you appreciate (and miss) your hometown.  And San Francisco is one of the best!

On one of our first days there, we drove all around the city and stopped to admire one of the beautiful bridges (San Francisco-Oakland Bay bridge),

I did have to angle the camera carefully to cut out the homeless people smoking joints.  Ahh, San Francisco...
Then we took a roller-coaster ride down Lombard Street:

Image from here
And then had a wonderful lunch by the beach.  But since it was August in San Francisco, instead of being able to see the ocean, literally across the street, we saw this:

I didn't take this photo.  It's from here

So a few days later, hoping for warmer weather, we headed south and spent a wonderful afternoon at Gilroy Gardens with friends:
In case you can't tell, this is Kate's "mean" face

The next day, back up to S.F. to play with the fascinating exhibits at the Exploratorium:

Again, he won't kiss his mother but he'll drink out of a toilet.  Hmmph.

And then we strolled around the Palace of Fine Arts:

While in CA, we ate a TON of Mexican food...
And, yes, she ate the entire plate of super nachos.

...and enjoyed really healthy hotel breakfast buffets.

Remember his vegetarian phase?  Clearly over.

We also revisited some of our favorite parks and playgrounds in the Bay Area:

Magic Mountain in San Mateo

And spent a nearly fog-free day at the beach by Crissy Field:
That's Alcatraz there behind the seagull.

The kids even found and "reassembled" this poor little crab.
They couldn't understand why I refused to let him come home with us.

Kate took home half the beach in her swimsuit anyway, so there was no room for dismembered crustaceans.

This is the Dahlia Garden near the Flower Conservatory in Golden Gate Park:
It blooms every August - October.  One of my favorite places in S.F.!

Then we headed over to Children's Playground to test out the amazing concrete slides.  These have been there for at least 30 years, I think.
You sit on a piece of cardboard so you really fly!

We were also fortunate enough to attend the wedding of some very good friends while we were in California.  The kids had a blast, and the setting -- spectacular!!!

Kate, with the fog rolling over the hills behind her.

There were so many beautiful photo opportunities that the kids (read: Will) got a little tired of posing for me. 

Just outside our hotel.  Poor Will.  Being photographed AND hugged.  The horror!
But he felt better after I let him take the next photo up a tree.

Next up, from damp, freezing fog to the scorching heat of Texas...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Home, part II -- Family in CA

The best part of coming home?  While Trader Joe's, Target and good customer service rank at the top of my list, they certainly can't compare to spending time with family:
Will and Grandpa

And swimming in the warm California sunshine.  We did lots of swimming!

with cousins:

And second-cousins (?):

and a couple of dogs!

Taken two seconds before the dog jumped on Will and nearly drowned them both!

There were cannonball competitions:

And Slip-N-Slide marathons:

Fountain splashing:

Dining alfresco

And more quality time with cousins:

A once-a-year family photo op:

And even the chance to cuddle up to a sweet pet dove.

Don't ask me to explain how even Will, who has declared all kissing "disgusting," who only allows me to kiss him when he's asleep, had no problem puckering up to a bird:
So he doesn't look thrilled.  But he did it!  I'm slightly offended.
We also found time to reconnect with some very good friends.

Kate and Ryan plan to get married and have 10 kids.

Emily cuddling up to her favorite "Woo"

It was such a nice visit, but seeing all these wonderful people just once a year is not enough.  I hope to tempt at least a few of them to come visit us this year.  Seriously, what are you all waiting for??