I am a city girl. For those who don't know, I grew up in Chicago and the thrill of the big city is still with me. Don't get me wrong: I love my life in Fresno, which is a city (of half a million) in itself, but not what I would call big. I'm the kind of weirdo who thrives on eight lanes of traffic, views parallel parking as a welcome challenge and sees beauty in the city skyline.
Last week Meilani and I decided to be groupies. Ericlee's basketball team was playing in a few tournaments at the coast and up near San Francisco. I decided this would be a good opportunity to visit some friends in the city, see some sights and cheer on the team. We headed out Wednesday for our adventures. First stop: our friend Danna's snazzy San Jose apartment, where we dined on Indian food. Meilani was a big fan of the Emporer of India restaurant and proceeded to try all the dishes we ordered - even the spicy ones.
Thursday morning we drove up to Concord to meet up with my friends, Barnaby and Rachel Gloger, and their sweet, 2-year-old, Ruby. I met Barnaby and Rachel in college during my semester studying in Costa Rica. They came to our wedding and I haven't really talked to them since we had our daughters. Ruby and Meilani had great fun exploring and tearing around the yard together. We were grateful for a kid-proof home and a sunny Bay Area day.
The girls discovered the recycling bins and decided to recycle themselves - much to their mothers' delight. Even though we've lost touch for several years, Rachel and I discovered we are "kindred spirits" in a lot of ways, including seeking out earth-friendly options for our homes and kids, nutritious foods, natural childbirth and politics. We only scratched the surface of some of these topics but it was fun to reconnect.
Meanwhile, Meilani and Ruby connected for the first time. They read books, played on the swing set, swapped sippy cups like old friends and both skipped their naps. We decided this was a special day - well worth interrupting the schedule. Lucky for me, Meilani fell promptly asleep when we got back in the car.
Thursday evening we met up with Ericlee and his basketball team in Sunnyside. We watched the first game of the tournament at King's Academy, a small, Christian school. Meilani actually sat in my lap for the entire game. The down side of basketball - as opposed to track meets - is she can't run around during the game. I had a bag full of toys to keep her busy. (For those of you who know Meilani's temperament, it truly was a miracle she sat for this long period of time. What a blessing!) I enjoyed watching Ericlee in his assistant coach role, helping his friend Chris and spurring on the boys. Thursday night we stayed with our friend Lin Chow in Fremont.
After a homemade Chinese breakfast by Lin, we began our mother-daughter adventure day in the city. (Thank goodness I had the foresight to stop at the library for some kid CDs for the car ride before we left Fresno - They were my lifesaver.) We hopped in the hybrid and headed for an awesome museum called Habitot, designed especially for kids 5 and under. The museum is a small place right across the street from the Berkeley Public Library. It was worth the entrance fee as Meilani and I spent the next hour and a half exploring all the "exhibits." Meilani loved the Art Room, where she played with Gak (pictured here). This homemade cross between play-Doh and Silly Putty could be rolled out like cookie dough, stabbed with utensils and squished with little fingers. So fun!
We also spent a lot of time at the painting wall. This was Meilani's first time really working independently with paints. She got her own apron and brush and was free to paint the wall, which was like a giant wipe erase board. She had a huge canvas all to herself and she meticulously went to work. This brought me great joy to watch, realizing we have moved on from our baby phase and my little girl is growing, exploring and creating on her own.
We spent some time at Water Works, pouring water, playing with ducks and learning how water can spin wheels. We snuck inside the Little Town Grocery & Cafe, to fill up a shopping cart with pretend food and check out at the cash register. Another favorite exhibit was the Wiggle Wall. This "climbing wall" was something Meilani could investigate all on her own. She safely climbed through the maze and all the way to the top.
Meilani has always been a climber. She learned how to climb out of her crib at 5 months and then it was all over for Mama and Daddy. We have to keep an eye on her at home otherwise she's climbing on tables, out of the bath tub or into the dryer. At Habitot, she was free to climb and I didn't have to worry about her. It was so freeing for Mama and Meilani!
We added an important diversion to our adventure day: IKEA. I couldn't resist when I saw the big sign. I've never actually taken Meilani to this shopping extravaganza. We spent most of our time in the children's section, playing on the toys and beds and scoping out Christmas ideas. She poses here with a giant hippo. We love IKEA because they have unique items. No teddy bears and normal kids plates and spoons. They have stuffed ostriches, giraffes, foxes and neon-colored kidsware in wild knobby shapes. The prices are great too! Friday we watched the FCS boys play another game of basketball and we met up with my parents (Nana & Papa), who drove up from Fresno.
Saturday morning Meilani and I joined Nana and Papa to attend a baby shower for my cousin, Kimberly, in Foster City. Kim's little girl(!) is due at the end of the December and this was our first time seeing her pregnant. We also had the chance to see lots of our aunties and cousins. Pictured here are Auntie Sarah and Auntie Myrtle, two of my grandma's sisters. They were delighted to meet Meilani for the first time.
Meilani was the star of the show, helping cousin Kim open the myriad gifts and running around the room greeting all the ladies. She was supposed to stay in the other room with Papa but she's my party girl and would have none of it. (Who wants to hang out with the boring, hard-of-hearing Lazo boys on the couch?)
Meilani loved her 3-month-old 3rd cousin, McKenna, daughter of Cara. She tried on her "big sis" skills. Cara was a great sport and let Meilani hold the baby, give her the binky and kiss her face. Meilani was surprisingly gentle and very serious about her role.
On the way home, we caravaned with Nana and Papa and made a pit stop at the Gilroy outlets to fill up our trunk with Christmas gifts. After four days of zipping around the city, we were exhausted but it was worth the extra energy and I enjoyed the quality time with my growing 18-month-old. Carpe Diem!