Friday, July 31, 2009

Kate's First Beach Day

By my measures of happiness---family, love, laughter, good food, nature, beauty---yesterday was an absolutely perfect day. Although Kate has seen beaches before, and although she frolicked on one on Easter during the beautiful evening tide, yesterday was Kate's first "beach day" of her life. We packed the umbrellas, sand toys, towels, chairs, boogie boards, sack lunches...and drove down to one of our favorite family-friendly and down-to-earth beaches, Oceanside. A little overcast at first, the beach offered our pick of spots as most of the other people there in the morning were the surfers. More people arrived as the day cleared, but we had a lovely spot. David and Mom also came along, and we really had fun. I hadn't actually been to a beach for a beach day or boogie boarding since the summer before getting pregnant with Kate.

I love the salt water baking into my skin, the feel of sun-and-sand hair, the peacefulness of being sun-happy. Ahhhhhhh. I had marinated chicken for fajitas the night before, and when we got home to my house, we had a feast of fajitas, paella, homemade corn tortillas with homemade butter (YUM!), and non-alcoholic sangria. We topped it all off with a bonfire and smores. That is my idea of an after-beach meal, and it definitely tasted better after a day of physical play.

Kate absolutely LOVED every second of the beach, and I loved being with her. Her delight is my delight; my heart soars when hers does. Our bond is forever, two essences becoming one from the moment of her conception. I am not sure how one becomes a mother without suddenly grasping profoundly the meaning of eternity. Every experience in life is better with Kate to share it. I love being her mommy and watching her absorb beauty and adventure and life and to meet her world with passion.

Now for the pictures!

"Lookin' for adventure/Head out on the highway..." Kate looks at the palm trees and ocean from the sun roof....

Playing in the sand with Seaweed Man (in her hand): "I walk around the sand/I am the Seaweed Man!" Credit to Amie for the character and rhyme.

Beach Baby smiles at her surroundings...

Uncle David and Katie play with her sand toys!

Here comes a wave!

Contrary to what most of the pictures will suggest, Katie actually wore her swim vest most of the time in the water. We went swimming for three long sessions; only in the first did she not have it on. Most of the pictures were taken in the first session. Kate loved her swim vest, and I definitely felt better about her having it on. The sideways current was pretty strong, even near shore...

Fearless Katie reaches for the tide... There is no question that she would have run all the way out into the sea on several occasions. I love her lack of trepidation, love it...but I also am mindful about teaching her about the power of forces bigger than ourselves while inspiring in her a healthy and cautious awe.

Playing in the sand is so much fun!

We loved our colorful spot!

Playing with my little girl!

Wading into the ocean with my Sweet Girl.

Frolicking in amazement....such a lovely moment.

Legend has it that mermaids send the froth to the shore...

We love the water forever!

People I love building our sandcastle and the moat.

Pure exuberance!

More, more! She would run with me down to the shore, saying "Swimming! Swimming!"

Helping my mom build drip-spires on our castle.

The world is for playing....

Monday, July 27, 2009

San Francisco Bay Weekend

Bill, Katie, and I spent a beautiful weekend with friends and family in the Bay Area. From Stanford to San Mateo to Redwood City to Alameda to Berkeley, we actually saw quite a bit of the bay in only a day or so. Though Kate has been to the Bay Area twice before, on this trip she of course was engaged in a new and even more significant way. Though the impetus for this trip was to meet Steve and Carol's new baby Alex (we had the luck of meeting Marguerite's new second daughter Juliet in Temecula---though we had been planning since late winter to see both babies after their birth), we were able to fit in a couple of trips to Stanford and time with Aunt Jenny and Aunt Anna, who always make us feel so at home. As always after leaving the Bay Area, I miss it profoundly and am already planning at least two return trips.

I will let our pictures be the guide for recounting our trip:

Here we are at Mike's Roadside Cafe, during our lunch on our drive up...She loved watching the little boy in the highchair behind us

Coloring during dinner at Denny's---my new favorite kid-travel place. Great children's menu, coloring, relaxed...and inexpensive, so we can order a few different items to see what she likes. I have a new appreciation for Denny's now. We breakfasted here the following day, to great success. I was a bit apprehensive about how Kate would fare with her eating on this trip, and she did great! She also has become a juice drinker!

Holding Daddy's hand on the way to lunch. She loved holding Bill's hand quite a bit on this trip...

Car trip antics: Meet Sir Paul Mc-Cat-Ney. He is the tap dancing cat, who likes to wear Katie's shoes to dance all around the car and who sings to music, especially The Beatles, and who sounds quite a bit like Mommy. Sir Paul Mc-Cat-Ney spent hours talking with Kate on this adventure. He taught her the word "Googleplex" and liked playing "Peekaboo, Tower" with Kate whenever Hoover Tower came into sight. He also dislikes "P-U cows." Kate really grew fond...

And we also loved our Wizard of Oz figures!

Daddy drives....and drives...and drives...Bill did the whole trip!

We wanted to make sure we could browse the Stanford Bookstore, so we stopped by early Friday evening (at which time we discovered it does now have wide weekend hours as well). We showed Kate a fountain in White Plaza called The Claw.

It was love at first sight!

Daddy and Kate walk from the Tresidder parking lot.

Sweet Girl in front of the bookstore!

Entirely on her own, Katie started a game of trying to step on "Daddy's shadow!

I love her and am so excited to share Stanford with her.

After Stanford and a late dinner, we checked into Hotel Sofitel in Redwood City, the same hotel that was the site of Steve and Carol's wedding last year. When we arrived, our crib was already set up and we discovered that we had a beautiful view and, as requested, a king size bed...which Kate went wild over! Here, Bill and Kate stand in the spot of Steve and Carol's wedding.

Katie and I took a morning walk along the lake. We did this last year, too.

Kate explores and looks out at water.

The view from our bedroom at dusk. Notice that Kate asked to show Ariel, Sebastian, and Flounder (on windowsill) the lake. She thought that she might see Ariel swim by. It was cute.
Loving the morning, the lake, and the smell of fir trees. Ah, Bay Area, I love you!

Running along the deck.

We are the microscopic people under the palm frond (not the man by the pool, but out on the deck). Bill took this picture from our room on Saturday morning.
Kate holds Ariel and shows her the lake up close.
On Saturday afternoon, we spent time with my friends Steve and Marguerite and their families. I am staggered, humbled, awed, and moved that we have been friends for as long as we have and been witnesses to each other's momentous life events and changes. We are so fortunate to now have our children begin to know each other... Here we are meeting Baby Alex, Steve's son.

Here are Marguerite and Juliet. Anabel was taking a nap...

Always friends. They amaze me, and I always feel so lucky to know them...

Talking and parenting and laughing.

Radiant Carol and her newbown Alex.

Steve's beautiful family.

On Saturday night we shared dinner with Aunt Jenny and Aunt Anna. I just adore their home and the warm feel---so cheerful and peaceful to me all at once. Kate loved playing with both of them. Their garden is becoming truly amazing!

Kate was delighted that, not only did Aunt Jenny and Aunt Anna know about (and could sing and quote) The Wizard of Oz, but also they had a Dorothy figure just like hers! That pretty much astounded her. I so much want to go back with Kate soon---I want her to have the same bond with my aunts that I have had.

Driving back to Redwood City across the Bay Bridge on Saturday night was a magical experience for me. The perfect crescent moon was sharp and glowing against the dark fog that clung close to the tall buildings. I could totally understand Hitchcock's (my favorite director and my obsession) fascination with San Francisco and the Bay Area...

I won't even try to get these next pictures in true order...too many! Before coming home today we spent a couple of hours at Stanford...

We took a walk to Twain North and sat under my old dorm room window. That was my frosh dorm...
Sir Paul Mc-Cat-Ney gets a tour....

The "secret" Valley Center rock my dad brought up for graduation. We placed it in a secret spot on campus, known only to a few people. I visit it every time I am there....

Looking for "Peekaboo Tower" up close.

On the steps of Hammarskjold, my last house.

My hand on the Valley Center rock. Last time I touched this rock was in 2005. I hadn't gotten married, didn't have Kate, and Grandpa Don and Uncle Eric were still alive. I think seeing the rock today and feeling the gravity of those changes has been my most moving experience with the rock yet.

Kate and I stand outside the Office of the University President, where I worked for several years. In honor of my supervisor, Tom, I showed Kate the patterns that emerge in the columns, the kumquat trees, and the hidden avocado tree.

Memorial Fountain. I took a pic here the first time I ever saw Stanford and another one on the day I graduated.

Mommy's Row house again.

Kate sees Kairos, my junior year house. I thought as I walked down The Row that, although I had walked around Stanford many years both alone and with so many different people, the best walk of my life around Stanford was today---with my daughter. I have never been happier... If only I could have seen into the future and seen us there together---but then again, you never can do that...

Looking at Hoover Tower, which she loved. We went through the "forest" to get there, and she started talking about The Wizard of Oz.

Looking at the tower, from Green Library....

Mommy and Katie.

Getting ready to go this morning. Kate said the word, "Googleplex" (referring to Google's work compound) and giggled right as this was taken. Later, we went to see the Googleplex on our way out of town.

Wading in The Claw. A precursor to fountain hopping?

My climbing Katie...

Footprints in the sands of time....

A view from the Comp Lit building. I don't want to be one of those parents that really talks up one school and seems to believe the child will for sure be attending it and sets the child's heart on the school. I have seen that happen, to sad conclusion. But I do see how that sort of thing starts and why it happens. I would love for Kate to attend Stanford someday, if she gets in and wants to go. Yet we also want her to know that she does not have to do this to make us happy and proud of her. Still, the trick is to set expectations high and to have her understand that college is an inherent part of her future. Our approach today was to talk about what a fun place for learning Stanford is and to tell stories about fun memories of reading and classes there.
Well, it is late, so off to bed! What a fun trip!