Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Sophie's Pre-K Interview

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25 Questions* as answered by Sophie

1. What is your favorite color? Pink
2. What is your favorite toy? My play kitchen
3. What is your favorite television show? Every Witch Way
4. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? Pigs in a blanket
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? Pizza
6. What is your favorite fruit? Bananas
7. What is your favorite snack? Fudge Stripe Cookies
8. What is your favorite cereal? Fruit Loops
9. What is your favorite drink? MILK!!!
10. What is your favorite outfit? Her "special" dress - a hot pink lace dress with leopard print
11. What is your favorite game to play? Puzzles
12. What is your favorite animal? Giraffe
13. What is your favorite song? Ho Hey by The Lumineers
14. What is your favorite book? Peppa Pig dance book
15. Who is your best friend? Maci & Phoenix
16. What is your favorite thing to do outside? Play on the playground
17. What is your favorite holiday? Seeing Santa
18. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? Pink (her blanket)
19. What is your favorite summer memory? Pool days
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? A mama
21. Tell me three things about Sophie Kae. I love pizza, I love baby kitties & I have a Nana
22. Name something you want to do this year. Play with my daddy
23. If you could travel anywhere this year, where would it be? The beach
24. If you could change your name, what would it be? Kristin Malie Kate Hoyle
25. If you had one wish, what would it be? To have a thousand kitties

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  * I will be interviewing the girls on their first day of school each year for as long as they will let me. I can't wait to see what a difference a year (or two) makes in their answers!

Questions adapted from here, along with a few of my very own. You can see Sophie's interviews from 2012 and 2013.



Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ella's Second Grade Interview

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25 Questions* as answered by Ella 

1. What is your favorite color? Blue
2. What is your favorite toy? Books
3. What is your favorite television show? Jessie
4. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? Pancakes from IHOP
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? Fried chicken
6. What is your favorite fruit? Strawberries
7. What is your favorite snack? Reese's Cups
8. What is your favorite cereal? Honey Nut Cheerios
9. What is your favorite drink? Sweet Tea
10. What is your favorite outfit? Shredded jean shorts, a striped shirt & sneakers (see photo)
11. What is your favorite game to play? Dodge ball
12. What is your favorite animal? Zebra
13. What is your favorite song? When a Heart Breaks by Ben Rector
14. What is your favorite book? Almost Home
15. Who is your best friend? MaKayla, Emily & Jana
16. What is your favorite thing to do outside? Play on our swingset
17. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas
18. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? Pillow Pet
19. What is your favorite summer memory? Playing dodge ball at Hudson's birthday party
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? Professional dancer
21. Name three words to describe you: Pretty, smart and creative
22. Name something you want to do this year: Go to the waterpark and ride scary slides
23. If you could travel anywhere this year, where would it be? THE BEACH!!!
24. If you could change your name, what would it be? Elizabeth
25. If you had one wish, what would it be? To be a high school majorette and twirl fire


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* I will be interviewing the girls on their first day of school each year for as long as they will let me. I can't wait to see what a difference a year (or two) makes in their answers!

Questions adapted from here, along with a few of my very own. You can see Ella's Kindergarten Interview here and her First Grade interview here.




Monday, August 18, 2014

Letters

Dear Elementary School, You kind of kicked my butt last week. The girls are loving you and so far we have managed to be at all the places and events on time, but I underestimate you every August. Hopefully we'll get a few more weeks under our belt and feel better about getting up so early.

Dear Dance Studio, We are so happy with this year's schedule. Really. I appreciate only having one late night and I like that Ella has a built-in study hour between classes. Hopefully Sophie will continue to perfect her "prissy walk" and keep us all in stitches while we wait in the lobby.

Dear Little House on the Prairie, It's unfortunate that we can't watch you for free somewhere. We are only one chapter away from finishing book one and after watching YouTube clips over the weekend my kids were begging for the full episodes. We shelled out $25 for season one and they were mesmerized. We're only about 45 minutes into the pilot, but I'm going to have to ration you out carefully. I managed to get a few loads of laundry folded last night!

Dear Jack's, We have no business eating you for dinner any way, but I apologize for our order last night. When your registers are down and the drive-thru is broken, it's ridiculous that 3 out of the 4 member of my family have a "special" order. We appreciate that you got it right, even if it did take twenty minutes. If I hadn't been wearing yoga pants and a Hangover t-shirt, I would have just come inside.

Dear Lola, We miss you. It would appear you wandered off or someone "rescued" you. We've seen no signs of tragedy and hope you are well taken care of, where ever you may be. I'm sorry if we didn't pay enough attention to you last week. We like to travel and I know that Poppy loved on you while we were gone. Please come home.

Dear Copper, I'm sorry that you've had the most tragic summer of your short life. First your wife was killed in an accident. The  two of your children were viciously murdered. Now it would seem your only child was kidnapped. We promise to try and make up for it. We love you and wish you would let us pet you sometimes. We are also extremely impressed with your meow. Josh does a remarkable impression of you. We laugh that you only meow a single time, but it is the longest meow in history. I think we'll time you this week.

Dear Loropetalums, You are my favorite thing in our yard. No matter what we do, you seem to thrive and we get compliments on you all the time.

Dear Loropetalums, You are the bane of my existence. Why do you grow so fast? Why are you eight feet tall? Why am I allergic to you? After a two hour fight yesterday, you look beautiful, but my arms are covered in a rash and they burn with an intensity not previously experienced. 


Friday, August 15, 2014

San Francisco: Day Three

When we woke up early on Sunday morning, we were starving! Sleeping through dinner the night before was wonderful, but my stomach growled constantly until we found a place to eat breakfast. We had reserved Sunday for driving, so we bundled up and started driving south along the Pacific Coast Highway (CA-1) towards Moss Beach. Everything about the "One" was beautiful. The roads were twisty and the fog was hovering over the water and there were places to pull off all along our route. 


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The first place we stopped that was close enough to shore for us to walk cost us $10. Although the beach itself was stunning, the park was so dirty and campers had trashed the viewing area. I was disappointed, but we hit the road and kept on driving. I tried uploading an image on my phone to share, but realized that we had no cell service at all. We kept driving towards Half Moon Bay and stumbled upon Caffe Mezzaluna where we stopped for breakfast. We had omelets and hash-browns and the best hot chocolate of the week! The restaurant was right on the water and filled with people enjoying their lattes and the newspaper.

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After breakfast, we kept driving south and as I was looking out the window I realized we had forgotten something. I looked over at Josh and grinned and he said, "What?!" I responded with, "Happy Anniversary!" We just laughed because that has happened to us once before. We didn't buy anything this year since the trip was our gift. Being away from my calendar and a computer for a few days really robs you of any knowledge of what's going on in the real world. Oh well. We decided it was the perfect way to spend the day anyway.

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Our furthest point was Pigeon Point Light Station in Pescadero. We had no idea it even existed, but we rounded the corner and saw it off in the distance! We weren't sure if it was open to the public or cost any money, so we stopped at a lookout just before we got there, but the views didn't disappoint.

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Since Sophie is obsessed with rocks and treasures, we made our way down to the water's edge to find a few fun ones for the girls. It was so weird seeing a beach with no sand, but it was stunning! 

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There were plenty of craggy rocks along the shore, so I wedged the camera in a tight spot and caught a quick photo of us together on our big day. We've been celebrating for twelve years and I swear it gets better the longer we're together.

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We had stopped so often along our route, including breakfast, that what took us almost three hours to cover only took a little more than one our to return. We were back in the city long before lunch and looking for something else to do!

I was under the impression that the curvy section of Lombard Street was closed to drivers on the weekends, but we were going to get as close as possible and then walk around in the neighborhood. When Siri told us to turn right at the stop sign, we were surprised to find ourselves driving down. It's really hard to see very much when you're making the drive, but the houses were so pretty and there were people EVERYWHERE! We feel sure the homeowners cannot love having people posing next to their front door.

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I wanted to live in that blue house with the purple flowers! When we got to the bottom, we parked our car and walked back up on foot to get a better view of the neighborhood and to check out all the gardens and alleys. This was one of the prettiest downtown spots we visited.

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When we got to the top and turned the corner, we could see straight to Alcatraz Island. I wasn't prepared for how hilly SF was, but we walked up and down those streets all afternoon. We joked that there was no way we gained weight on this trip. We were in a constant cardio workout!

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We drove a little closer to the Wharf and parked our car before exploring on foot for a few more hours. We took the famous Cable Car up into China Town and then walked back down to the Embarcadero to find a place to eat lunch. I had been craving Mexican food all day and there was a little hole in the wall right next to the water called Mamita's. I had the best quesadilla of my life (are you sensing a theme here?) and a cold can of DP and Josh had a burrito that was the size of his face. 

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I had been telling him all morning that I wanted to find the Filbert Steps and head up to Coit Tower, but he wasn't convinced. Filbert Street dead-ends into the side of a huge hill, but it continues in a set of stairs built all the way up to Telegraph Hill. He says he lost count somewhere around 300 steps and I've read conflicting reports that they number anywhere from 380 to 600. Either way, it was quite the hike! There are many apartments and houses nestled into the side of the hill, some of which can only be accessed by the stairs.

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Not only were the houses gorgeous, but the gardens surrounding the stairs is amazing. 

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When we got to the top, the wait for an elevator to the top of Coit Tower was almost an hour, so we settled for the view from the park. You could see the Bay Bridge, Golden Gate and Alcatraz from there.

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After hiking back down the stairs, we were exhausted. And you guessed it, we went straight back to the apartment for a nap! We got dolled up later in the evening and enjoyed an amazing dinner at Izzy's in Cow Hollow. We had tomatoes and goat cheese with balsamic to start and we both had steaks for dinner. Josh got all kinds of veggies with his and I had their au gratin potatoes and steamed broccoli. I wanted so much to enjoy dessert, but we had no room left after that. 

On Monday morning, we were up by 3 o'clock and packing before heading to the airport. Our flight was at 6:15 and we didn't make it back to Birmingham until almost 4 o'clock in the afternoon. Jet Lag was catching up with me fast, but we grabbed take-out and picked the girls up from my parents just in time for dinner. They were super excited to see us and even though I was sad our trip was over, we were both missing them so bad. For Josh, it has been 13 days since he'd been home. We let them pile into our bed after dinner and after we looked at all of our trip photos, we introduced them to Honey, I Shrunk the Kids via Netflix. They giggled through the whole thing and Ella declared it the "Best Movie Ever!". 

We've only been home four days and we're already contemplating where we want to visit next. We'll be headed to Dallas/Ft. Worth again in 2016 since Alabama plays USC at Cowboy's Stadium, but next year is up in the air. Chicago? D.C.? Alright friends, bring on the suggestions. We'll only have four days, so it can't be too far away...


Thursday, August 14, 2014

San Francisco: Day Two

I had been stalking the weather in San Francisco for weeks before we left and since Josh was already in California for nine days, I thought I would be prepared. It turns out mid-sixties in sunny Alabama with high humidity is a stark contrast to mid-sixties in a foggy, drizzly, zero-humidity city. The moral of this story? Pack sweaters and jeans for coastal towns in Northern California. Thankfully, we knew that morning that we needed to wear our warmest clothes. For Josh that was workouts (again) and for me, it was my new jeans and sweater from Stitch Fix. Our plan for the morning was brunch in Haight Ashbury before heading south.

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We started out at The Grind and it was an even better breakfast than the day before. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I had french toast and hashbrowns again!! After breakfast, we walked around this famous neighborhood for quite awhile. I must tell you, Josh was less than thrilled about this stop, but he knew better to argue with me about it. I am a huge Grateful Dead fan and I couldn't resist visiting their place of origin. Much like I randomly found myself in NYC on the anniversary of John Lennon's death, I happened to be in San Fran on the anniversary of Jerry Garcia's death, too. Random and completely not planned, but it actually worked best with our schedule to visit here on the 9th! We walked up to the corner of Haight and Ashbury for a photo op (Josh felt ridiculous taking this picture of me) and then visited 710 Ashbury Street where they lived during the sixties. We stumbled by a really cool shop full of great clothes and accessories and I bought a beautiful scarf. It was timely because the wind was whipping and I needed an extra layer!

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Next up was Alamo Square. We had tried visiting the Painted Ladies the day before and couldn't find a parking spot anywhere. Since we used Uber for transportation all day on Saturday, we didn't have to worry about it that morning! Not to mention it was in the lower Haight, so we were able to walk here from breakfast. In case you aren't familiar with Uber, it's like a cab service, but so much better. You set up an account on-line, fill in your billing information and download the app on your phone. It uses GPS to locate you and sends a car to pick you up. No cash changes hands and the tip is included! The most expensive trip we took was just over $12, but most of them were between $7 and $9.

Alamo Square is so gorgeous! It's a park with a huge hill that overlooks some gorgeous Victorian homes. The most recognizable ones are these behind me. If you were a Full House fan in the nineties, you probably recognize them from the opening montage. I swear I was singing the theme song all day long after that! Ella is a new fan of the show, so I was sure to text her a photo from this neighborhood!

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Aren't they gorgeous?! Of course, one was being painted, so the scaffolding blocked your view from here, but I loved all of the bright colors. I also feel like such a cheese-ball posting so many photos of myself?! Most of the ones we have together are "team selfies" and Josh made a face every time I took one of him alone. My mom used to fuss at me for taking pictures of all these landmarks with no people in them when I was in college, so I'm almost sure to stand in front of something.

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And the Painted Ladies aren't the only pretty houses in the neighborhood. They pretty much flank the park on all sides and every single street in the Haight is lined up with brightly colored houses.
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How amazing is this VW bus?! It said "Love Tours" on the side and I was incredibly sad not be riding around San Fran in this thing. 

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Soon after, we scheduled another pick up and had the driver take us to Fisherman's Wharf. We caught our first glimpse of the cable cars as we headed down Taylor Street towards the Embarcadero.

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We had lunch at a cute little restaurant right on the water called Fog City. In true form, I had a burger and fries again, but Josh had the Saigon Pork Dip sandwich and said it was great. I wish I had taken pictures while we were there because it was adorable, but like I said yesterday, Josh has a strong no camera policy in restaurants!

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After lunch we walked around the wharf for awhile. We toured this Submarine, but got out of there as quickly as possible. I'm not usually claustrophobic, but pair a small space with the rocking of the water and you've got a recipe for disaster. We took a few photos inside, but I looked green in them all. We also managed to catch the sea lions sleeping just off of Pier 39. I couldn't believe how many of them there were! There were a few really large ones that had a floating dock to themselves and any time another sea lion tried to climb aboard they started barking and knocked them off!

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Our biggest adventure of the day was a tour of Alcatraz Island. Tickets sell out weeks in advance and since we were traveling so last minute, I kind of had to finagle the tickets. I ended up getting combo tickets from Columbus Cyclery that included a bike rental for not much more money. Our plan had been to bike across Golden Gate into Sausalito the day before, but the bus to Muir Woods doesn't run on weekdays. Rather than come back and pick up our car after the bike rides and head back over to the redwood forest, we just scrapped our bike rides. I'm sure we would have loved it, but I don't regret how we ended up scheduling the weekend.

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We were on the last day trip to the island and after waiting in line for about 30 minutes, we were on the ferry headed out to Alcatraz. Excuse the smudges and glare on the photograph below -- I snapped it through the window where I was sitting inside the ferry. I don't love big boats and was trying to stay as still and quiet as possible during the fifteen minute ride.

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We did a 30 minute audio tour in the cell block that was very interesting. I took some pictures, but who really wants to look at old toilets and bars? I learned a lot and I'm really glad I can check it off my list, but this part of the day was all for Josh. He loved it and I happily followed him around. Probably my favorite part of the island were the decaying homes - particularly that of the Warden. There are bits and pieces of furniture and fixtures laying around, but they are almost completely overcome with plants and birds. I thought they were beautiful!

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And, of course, there was a photo op near the wall! The flowers and the bay were just too good to resist.

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After we were back on dry land, we found a discount store to duck into and I picked up another sweater for the next day. I had worn all of my warm clothes and it was obvious that a tank top wasn't going to cut it for our plans on Sunday. We weren't the only ones with those thoughts -- it took almost 30 minutes to check out and then we were in an Uber car headed back for nap time.

We decided to check on our rental car before walking upstairs and discovered that we misunderstood the parking situation. Apparently "park free on the weekends" really means "park free on Sundays" and we earned ourselves a $66 parking ticket. Thank you, San Francisco. The good news was, it was after six o'clock and at least we didn't have to move our car again until we left for the airport Monday morning. We decided to take another nap until time for dinner since we were exhausted from so much walking. I remember Josh waking me up at 10 o'clock and then at some point after midnight he told me to take off my jeans and tennis shoes. We were so tired that we slept straight through dinner! When we woke up the next morning we had logged twelve hours of deep sleep. It. Was. Glorious.