The ramblings of a woman,
wife, & mother, who loves:
Jesus / my man / the three,
learning about parenting /
mamahood / childbirth,
cooking foods healthy /
international / yummy,
pretending to garden /
write / design,
attempting to run /
exercise / lift weights,
enjoying traveling /
camping / adventures,
finding ways to love /
serve / sacrifice for others.

It is not to say she does these things
with style or grace, or even skill.

A Lazy Sunday: Fifth Day in the City

Mon Jun 30 02:35:00 CDT 2014 - Mon Jun 30 02:35:00 CDT 2014

Travel Log: 16 October 2011

SF marathon 2011

Even though we woke mildly early due to the time change, we were a sleepy, lazy morning bunch. The long, fun filled days were finally taking their toll and we were t i r e d. We woke to the smell of espresso and the sounds of the San Francisco Marathon passing by one block north of our house. (It is my dream to run this marathon someday. Anyone wanna join me? :)!)

Once we s l o w l y got moving, Josh went for another beautiful bike ride while the kids and I played at the beach near our house. I asked them to try their best not to get wet, but for some reason that never works with our three.

not wet yet

Josh had yet to get to enjoy the city with the kids, so for the remainder of this beautiful day they showed him the city through their eyes. They waited in the long weekend tourist traffic to ride the cable cars with him, showed him their favorite shops in Chinatown, walked up, up, and up to Coit Tower, experienced the various street performers by the SF Bay, smelled the sea lions, etc. They also convinced him to take them to the Boudin Bakery for an early dinner. Each of the previous four days they had tried to get their mom to take them there, but for some reason she wouldn't. Dad; however, was easily swayed. :)!

Boudin Bakery brought out the highs and lows of our life. Having any sort of food allergy and dining out at a new restaurant can require a handfull of questions. Today, we've found most restaurants are very up front about all allergy issues, but back then, only 3 years ago, it wasn't as common. In those beginning years of the diagnosis, it was embarassing for our child when we would ask question after question about the food or have to send food back because the restaurant made a mistake by not omitting something that was to be omitted. That happened at Boudin and it took a while to help our child overcome their embarassment. It wasn't "pretty" until that was over.   

But when life was "pretty" again, Josh took some beautiful photos of the kids while the four of them were being incredibly goofy taking photos of each other with our stash of cameras at the table. They were so goofy that they were even entertaining a group of Japanese businessmen walking past. Those men ended up taking pictures of the four of them even. Ha! :)! It's in moments like these that I always think, "This is what it means to be a Cramer." 




I wish I could come up with good examples of what that statement means, "This is what it means to be a Cramer." It's such a heightened level of goofiness it's hard to quantify. Most of you have never had the priviledge of watching home movies or seeing photographs of Josh and his sister interacting together, but if you've spent enough time with either Josh or Maren, I'm certain you know what I'm talking about, :)!

For me, it is also a beautiful reminder. Josh's mom's creativity was out of this world and she passed it onto her children in the most fun and imaginative ways. Even though she is no longer with us, it is in these moments that part of who she was is visible. It encourages me to tell stories of her and who she was to our kids who never got to meet their Grandma. *Sigh* When you're in the midst of a Cramer moment, you'll know and you'll be smiling, too.

We ended this day having racked up another good stash of walking miles but overall had an incredibly restful day. The new week had Josh attending the Web 2.0 Summit Conference and the kids and I getting back to our regularly scheduled homeschool programming. 


Stinson Beach and Muir Woods: Fourth Day (North of) the City

Fri Jun 27 08:32:00 CDT 2014 - Fri Jun 27 08:32:00 CDT 2014

Travel Log: 15 October 2011

For the previous six months, Josh had been loving his new BMC road bike and he was incredibly excited to experience California on two wheels. Thanks to the time zone difference between IA and CA, Josh could generally work until 3PM PST / 5PM CST and then go for a beautiful bike ride across the Golden Gate Bridge, northeast to either Sausalito or Mill Valley, and still be home in time for dinner. Now it was the weekend and he was able to go on a nice long ride northeast of the city, into the mountains, and along the Pacific Ocean.


We planned it out so that the kids and I would drive to a secret little surf town north of the city and play in the ocean while Josh rode his bike the long, hilly, windy way there. However, when we got there the tide was in and the beach had disappeared. Unless you had a surfboard, you were out of luck. We opted to head back down the coast to Stinson Beach and enjoy our ocean time there.


Even in the cloudy weather, even with the cold breezes, even though the water was really cold, even with NOT bringing any towels, even though I was fully clothed in many layers while they were in their swimsuits... the kids loved playing in the Pacific Ocean. They quickly made friends with other kids at the beach and enjoyed burying themselves in the sand and playing on a new friend's boogie board.



At the end of our beach time, I did something stupid. Well, two things stupid. The first stupid thing was not bringing towels with us, or even a blanket. It was not entirely my "fault" since when you're renting someone else's house that only has white bath towels, even if I had brought them, it would have been rude to our host to destroy them at the beach. 

The second stupid thing I did that was my fault was I completely embarassed my daughter. We were using the outdoor, COLD showers and had no towels to help clean or dry. Due to the coldness of the situation, I was quickly and desperately trying to wash off the sticky sand that was stuck to her like tape residue. At that moment, I was only thinking about the sticky sand and not the embarassment of having your mom start to strip you down in public. 

While in actuallity no one saw anything, I stopped due to the immediate shock and horror-filled look on her face at that moment. That look has stuck with me to this day as it was the first time I could see my daughter as a young woman. (Yes, at 6 years of age.) Looking back on that memory I can see how part of her personality has always been being consciously modest. I would like to credit us for raising her that way, but this truly was / is inherent within her. In my moment of stupidity I grossly offended her sense of self. I should have known better. I should have known her better.

However, that moment and other similar situations over the upcoming year, were the start of deeper, more beautiful things in my / our relationships individually with each one of the kids, to truly get to know each one of them better. There were many previous years of fog that if it wasn't because of the last year's funnel, it was because of the years of undiagnosed allergy, or because of the years of lack of sleep due to newborns, or the insanity of trying to do too much, etc, that made things cloudy. I wish I would have "woken up" earlier, but for a long stretch I felt like I was simply trying to keep us all alive. Now, now I could see clearly, it was another "second" chance to seek forgiveness, to accept grace, to build stronger relationships, to strengthen our family. Oh, what a gift second chances are!


We spent the afternoon letting the kids experience the beauty of the Muir Woods National Monument. By the time we got home late for dinner it had been another long but rewarding day in its many life's lessons and blessings.  


Exploratorium and Alcatraz: Third Day in the City

Wed Jun 25 08:45:00 CDT 2014 - Wed Jun 25 08:45:00 CDT 2014

Travel Log: 14 October 2011

We were completely loving our City Pass to its fullest. We had ridden mass transit countless times, we had visited Aquarium of the Bay and California Academy of Sciences, and now we were going to use it to visit the Exploratorium and Alcatraz.

I decided that the kids and I should walk the 2.5 miles to the Exploratorium along the edge of the San Francisco Bay. On a very hot, cloudless, windless day, it was not one of my brighter ideas, but I did have a reason for it and was going on a hunch. While we were walking along the edge of the bay, the kids were all staring into the water, looking for any signs of life. They stumbled upon dozens of hermit crabs, amazed by each one. But then, the mother of all finds, Max saw a sea star, in the wild, and he was able to reach out and touch it. (Sadly, his mom wouldn't let him take it home. Poor guy! :)!)


Touching his first sea star IN THE WILD! :)!


SO HAPPY afterwards! :)!

From Zeke's dream of seeing a $400,000 Ferrari in real life or flying an airplane to Miriam's dream of having a neighborgirl she can play with (We love you, Kenna!) or doing science experiments, our Max tends to have the most extreme and biggest dreams and we have loved making them come true, one by one. (OH!, for the day we get to go to Japan!)

explore 2

The Exploratorium is the most amazing children's museum we have ever experienced. (Today, they have moved to a brand new location and building. It blows my mind to think this place could get even more amazing, but I am certain it is!) Each installation is beautifully created from both a scientific and artistic perspective. Say you want to learn about how sand dunes are made in the Arabian desert? Or experience a monochromatic room? Or understand perspective tricks of the eye? The installations are built not of typical plastic food and fake construction vests normally found in children's museums, but are solid works of metal and wood, science and art combined, built at the Exploratorium by artists, and truly meant for people of all ages. 


We all hated pulling ourselves away from the Exploratorium but we had a reservation for a ferry to Alcatraz that we could not miss! We walked/ran the 3.7 miles to the pier to meet Josh for our afternoon tour time. By the time we boarded the ferry, the kids and I were overheated and a bit grumpy. Thankfully, the cool breeze from the ferry ride to the island was a welcome relief.


Once at Alcatraz, you are given an audio set with a recorded tour that directs you around the entire island. The tour recording is wonderfully made filled with sounds and backgrounds noises, characters, stories, and interviews. However, it is erie when you remove your headphones and realize you are walking around in near silence with all the other visitors. The only sound being the shuffling of feet.

listen in silence

We once again closed down another attraction, and caught the last ferry back. Along the ride, Max spied a pod of dolphins swimming alongside our boat and everyone aboard got to enjoy the experience! What a treat! By the time we bought a mound of crab and walked home, we were all happy to call it an early night! Especially after we realized we had walked around the city for over 8 miles!

I was absolutely loving all the exercise the kids and I were getting in the city. Throughout our entire downtown stay, the intense amount of walking we did was one of my favorite parts. (It was even worth it when attitudes waned!) Sadly, we would not have the same experience once we got to the suburbs.    


California Academy of Sciences: Second Day in the City

Tue Jun 24 09:33:00 CDT 2014 - Tue Jun 24 09:33:00 CDT 2014

Travel Log: 13 October 2011

For our second full day adventure after bookwork, we headed to the California Academy of Sciences!

The location of the California Academy of Sciences is by Golden Gate Park and required us to ride several different electric buses. The electric buses in SF run on electrical wires overhead and though their wires look like clutter in the city, their eco-friendly design is perfect for traveling in a city of intense hills. While the three cable car lines are generally used solely by tourists, the buses gave us an honest view of "The Real People of San Francisco" (trademark pending? :)!).

At this time, too, SF was experiencing Indian Summer and the days were incredibly warm for October. Miriam had bought a fan in Chinatown the day before and was happily using it while we were waiting to transfer buses. At one point an adorable, eldery Chinese man approached Miriam and said, "You look Chinese!" Which absolutely made her day.

miriam fan

The California Academy of Sciences is more than simply a zoo or aquarium, they are an institution that supports education and research both at their facility as well as through field work. From enjoying the building itself, designed by Renzo Piano, to interacting with an adorable colony of African penguins, we spent the whole day here, from open to close. I don't even think now we could choose our favorite part of the CAS. Was it the massive living coral reef and aquariums? Was it the 4-story rainforest and its creatures? Was it the planetarium show? Was it the live snake demonstration? Was it watching the penguin try to hit on his trainer or seeing the whole colony swim around so playfully? Goodness. We learned so much during our visit and can say the whole experience truly had us all mesmerized... 


It was during our visit that I started to realize how out-of-this-world the opportunities are for students who live in or near large cities and how much our smaller local communities need to find ways to engage in similar experiences. The California Academy of Sciences offers so many opportunities for students from not only the visits, classes, or camps they offer, but also by allowing students, as young as middle school, to volunteer or intern with them and work alongside the scientists themselves. Seeing the amazing benefits of those experiences while talking with the students at CAS, makes me excited knowing about our local IC events happening like School of the WildIowa BIG, or CodeDays, but it also makes me long for many more subjects to be experienced.  

After shutting down the CAS, we wrangled ourselves home on the very hot, overcrowded, rush-hour filled bus with all 4 of us sharing one seat. We were ready for dinner at home and a night of cartoons on cable. However, I opted to end this wonderful day by excusing myself to the roof deck instead of watching cartoons...



Aquariums and Chinatown: First Full Day in the City

Tue Jun 17 16:39:00 CDT 2014 - Tue Jun 17 16:39:00 CDT 2014

Travel Log: 12 October 2011

By now, it was Wednesday. Even though my husband managed to work some on the three weekday travel drives, he had to get back to work 8 to 5 style and we had to get back to gettin' schooled. 

Prior to arriving in San Francisco, I bought 7-Day City Passes for each person in our family. The City Pass we chose gave us a pass to ride the Muni trolley, buses, and cable cars for the week and gave us entrance to the Aquarium of the Bay, California Academy of Sciences, Exploratorium, Alcatraz, and the SF Museum of Modern Art. It was a perfect purchase for how much time we had in the city and how much I love mass transit!

For the kids and I and our week in downtown San Francisco, I had planned to do our math and language arts in the early morning (hooray for two hour time change!) and then head out for hands-on adventures in science and history for the rest of the day!

For our first full day adventure after bookwork, we walked down to the San Francisco Bay to see the Golden Gate Bridge and visit the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park (Free with our National Parks Pass!). Then we walked two miles along the Fisherman's Wharf to get to our science field trip location of Aquarium of the Bay.

They call Fisherman's Wharf a "Merchants Association" but it is really just your typical, bright lights, flashy signs, souvenir, touristy area jam-packed with people, street performers, and salespeople of all kinds trying to get any money they can from the tourists. One of those people is a guy who I just found out has his own wikipage! He hides behind a bushy tree branch and then as an unsuspecting tourist (*cough, me, cough*) walks past, he lunges out with a loud "Boo!" Tourists will take videos of people being scared and he makes money, :)! (Admittedly, our kids were not fans of this guy since he scared their mom.)

Aquarium of the Bay focuses on the animals that live in the bay itself. While it is not a large aquarium, our kids are incredibly knowledgeable about sea life so no matter the size it is fun to watch what they've read in books come to life. The Under the Bay exhibit of clear glass tunnels was where our kids competed to name all the species without aid, as well as discover new things about the animals they love so much. The Touch the Bay exhibit was for interacting with sharks, rays, skates, and sea stars - and by interacting, I mean you get to touch them! For our son who is incredibly passionate about sea life, this was a step toward a dream come true. He has always wanted to touch a sea star in the wild and touching one at an aquarium was getting closer to his goal.

max touches sea star

After stopping to learn, see, and smell the Pier 39 sea lions and enjoying the musician street performers along the way, we hopped on a historic SF cable car and headed to the original San Francisco Chinatown. SF's Chinatown is considered the oldest and largest Chinatown outside of Asia. I loved this place before I went there, after I went there, and was incredibly excited to bring my kids there - yes, all by myself. :)!

chinatown with the kids

Hanging out in Chinatown was a wonderful lesson in culture and history for our kids and undoubtedly/still one of the kids' favorite memories of SF. From the goofy shops to the crazy food and herb stores to the amazing and sometimes disturbing smells to the fact that all the people were speaking Chinese dialects, they loved it all so much. And once we found our way to an authentic Chinese restaurant for a very late lunch, the kids had all declared they were in heaven!

After spending all afternoon enjoying the sights of Chinatown (the kids finding souvenirs, too!), we hopped back on the cable car and headed toward home to meet Josh for a late dinner (and beers!) at a wonderful place called La Trappe Cafe. Goodness, I love this city and I had so much fun sharing it with our Three.

I also loved that I had made the kids walk over 8 miles and they didn't even notice... ok, maybe one of them noticed...

zeke and miriam


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About Me and This Blog...

Begin Our Adventures of Fall/Winter 2012 to CA, MN, CO
   Ladies Trip to Napa Valley
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Begin Our Adventures of Summer 2012 to MN and CO
   Vacation to the North Shore and Cabin
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   The Drive to CO/UT Begins
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