#TBT: the 15 steps of packing for a family vacation

On Thursdays I post from the vault. This is from Nov 2012 

We are gearing up for our big Peru trip this weekend, and I’m a
teensy bit stressed. The fact that I like to procrastinate doesn’t help
matters, and I typically end up in a self-fueling loop of non-helpful
avoidance behaviors any time I need to seriously pack for a big trip. It
goes a little something like this:
1. Make a list
2. Get suitcases out of garage
3. Go on facebook
4. Decide to pack, look for list, realize list is lost
5. Make a new list
6. Decide I should go online to check the weather. Go on facebook.
7. Start laying out clothes. Decide I hate my wardrobe.
8. Stress eat.
9. Yell at children.
10. Tell husband to pack the kids.
11. Overview what husband packed. Fight with husband over his choices and inability to match fabrics. Repack the kids.
12. Put kids to bed. Resume packing.
13. Decide I need to return some emails.
14. Go on facebook.
15. Realize it is 1am and we leave for the airport at 6am
16. Throw everything in a suitcase
would be nice if I could skip the avoidance dance and just take a few
hours to pack, but in talking to others, it sounds as though my packing
avoidance dance is a universal experience.
How about you? Look familiar?

What to do with one day in San Francisco with kids

The kids had ski week last week – a west coast tradition in which the 1% goes to their ski chalets, and the rest of us either scramble for childcare or make the best of a random mid-winter week without school. We’re not big on cold-weather sports, or cold-weather anything for that matter. But our ski week coincided with Mark’s brother and family who live in Seattle so we decided to meet in the middle and spend the week in Sonoma County. On our way up, we took one day to see the sights in San Francisco. Prior to our trip, I spent a lot of time googling “one day in San Fran with kids” and gleaned a lot of ideas. I thought I would share what we did. We decided to stay at the Best Western Americania. I know the word Best Western doesn’t conjure up thoughts of a trendy boutique hotel but that’s actually how this felt. It had a very retro feel with great modern furnishings. Best of all, they had a larger family room that slept all 6 of us, so we didn’t have to split up into two rooms. image fall winter 2013 978 The next morning, we had breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant and then set out on foot to walk to Chinatown. It was about two miles, but the weather was perfect. fall winter 2013 983 Our first stop in Chinatown was to tour the fortune cookie factory. This was a nice motivator to keep the kids walking. It was a quick but fun excursion. We happened upon a street fair for the Chinese New Year, which made our time in Chinatown even more fun. The kids visited booths, made crafts, and got to see some traditional dragons on stilts. fall winter 2013 996 Jafta also had fun sampling the Chinese cuisine at many food stands. Here, he’s eating a shark fin dumpling. Made of artificial shark fin, apparently. fall winter 2013 1005 After Chinatown, we took a 15-minute walk over to the Ferry Building, at the beginning of the Embarcadero.  Across from the Ferry Building there is a great playground for kids, which was a perfect break to get out some energy. fall winter 2013 997   Just across the way is the Justin Herman Plaza, which has a sculpture that is fun for kids as well. fall winter 2013 999 We let the kids play for a bit and then headed over into the Ferry Building for lunch. fall winter 2013 1000 The Ferry Building has been converted into a foodie paradise, with food stands, gourmet shops, and restaurants inside. It reminded me a bit of Eatily in NYC, but with even more options. There are tables in the front and back of the building, but many people just stop and eat at each new place. Once again, Jafta was thrilled to try some oysters. fall winter 2013 1019 After lunch at the Ferry Building, we decided to grab a cable car up to Pier 39. There are 40+ Pier buildings lining the Embarcadero and it’s a great walk, because there are many shops, restaurants, and museums along the way. Unfortunately, we had expended our walking energy so we thought the cable car would result in less tears. fall winter 2013 1012 fall winter 2013 1013 We took the cable car up to Pier 39 and honestly . . . this was my least favorite destination in San Fran. It’s just very crowded and touristy, with restaurants and shops that could be found in any city. I didn’t think it had much character, or any redeeming qualities. Nothing exciting for the kids, either. We walked to the end and walked right back out. fall winter 2013 1001 After Pier 39 we walked along the waterfront park and made our way to Ghiradelli Square. It’s amazing how ice cream can motivate tired feet. fall winter 2013 1025 fall winter 2013 1028 I have to say, Ghiradelli Square was a bit of a let-down, too. The kids liked it, but they would have liked eating ice cream from a street vendor. I’m not sure what I expected, but it’s basically just a giant ice cream store with a really long line. Next time we will hit up a local creamery and avoid this over-priced tourist stop. fall winter 2013 1022 After our $50 ice cream stop (no, I’m not kidding) we grabbed a bus back to our hotel. We had hoped to get to Golden Gate Park but the sun was setting, so we decided to skip it and head straight to the bridge for a photo op. fall winter 2013 1051 fall winter 2013 1038 And that was our day! Family stops I would definitely recommend:

  • China Town
  • fortune cookie facctory tour
  • Sue Bierman playground
  • Justin Herman Plaza
  • food tasting in the Ferry Building Marketplace
  • strolling the Embarcadero
  • taking an old cable car

Stops I would skip:

  • Pier 39
  • Ghiradelli Square

Have you ever been to San Fran? I thought it was a really great family destination. I’m looking forward to going back. fall winter 2013 975

We’re on a boat: Tortola, Virgin Islands

I am totally being that annoying friend right now who makes you sit and watch the slideshow from their family vacations, aren’t I?  Here are some more pictures from our trip. This is our stop in Tortola in the British Virgin Islands.

Here we are, fresh off the boat. I think this is the only photo we got of the whole family on this trip. Don’t the kids look thrilled?

On this day, we took an excursion to Van Jost island. It was about a 30 minute boat ride from Tortola, passing by several other islands.

The water and beach on this island were like a postcard. So blue and beautiful.

Mark took the kids out on a paddleboard.

Kembe and India found an abandoned beach chair and made it their own.

I loved this beach bar decorated with old buoys.

We had a really relaxing day on the beach, and then it was back on the boat.

Next stop: the Bahamas!

Unwelcome Guest

Turns out we did bring a little guy home from Haiti. But not the one we hoped. This little parasite’s name is Giuardiasis. We call him Gordy for short. He has been making his presence known for a few weeks, and the doctors confirmed it yesterday. In fact – a whole slew of doctors. Turns out our family has sparked many a consultation at our local medical group.

Prescriptions have been filled. Pills have been taken. We wait expectantly for our tummies to respond.

Gordy, buddy, it’s been real, but it’s time to go.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

I might have mentioned that we are still afflicted with a “touch of the Haiti“, manifesting as some gastro-intestinal issues. I remain commited to not talking about poop on my blog (as I have done here, here, here, and here.) So, I will leave it to you to decipher what I am supposed to do with this little goodie bag I got from Urgent Care today, that I get to return to them tomorrow.
Hint: those are not pill bottles.