Monday, August 2, 2010

Summer vacation

Last week Miranda took some vacation time from work. What a week it was! It's funny how you always end up doing so much more on vacation than during normal time. So here comes another loooong post.

Instead of taking a long trip somewhere, we decided it would be more fun (and far cheaper and easier) to have a "staycation" of sorts. We had at least one event or destination planned for almost every day but we still got to sleep in our own beds. We even managed to get Hayley home for her midday nap most of the time.

Our vacation coincided with visits by out-of-state family and friends. On Saturday, Hayley's Uncle Gabe arrived, so we kicked off our week with a little dinner/reunion. She seemed pretty smitten with Gabe, as usual, although the effect wore off as the week continued.

Cousin Dylan celebrated his 5th birthday on Sunday and we were there for all the festivities. Everyone had a great time playing in the bouncy house, lounging in the shade, and eating birthday cake. Still can't believe little Dyl pickle is 5 years old!

After nap, we took Hayley to a San Jose Giants game. We've been avoiding taking her to baseball and hockey games this year because she is so mobile now (read: restless). Cheap seats at a local minor league game meant we could go without worrying about staying for the whole thing. We had some good food and a few nice, relaxing strolls around the stadium. We even saw some baseball.

Auntie Kati joined us for a visit to Happy Hollow on Monday. The recently renovated children's park/zoo has been around for a long time (it was a favorite of Kati's when she was a kid) but I had never seen it. I have to say, I was pretty impressed. It's pretty big without being overwhelming, there's a ton of variety, and everything is clean and new (thanks to the aforementioned renovation). Best of all, Hayley had a wonderful time. We enjoyed it enough to get a membership, so we should be heading back there pretty soon.

A few highlights of Happy Hollow include Hayley's first carousel ride, a huge play area with some cool slides, and tons of adorable animals.

That evening, Hayley spent some time with Caiden and they both learned a lesson in sharing.

On Tuesday, we drove down to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We saw lots of cool exhibits, but overall Hayley was not as excited about it as Happy Hollow. We made the initial error of not bringing her stroller, so she got pretty crabby (pun intended). After we realized our mistake, I grabbed it from the car, but the damage was already done. We did our best to recover and actually had some fun, though.

A notable incident occurred near the kiddy area, where they had a large plastic clamshell for sitting in and general silliness (which is exactly what Hayley engaged in). She sat there and signed for sleep, so we joked with her that she should take a nap, at which point she laid down and pretended to sleep. Then she noticed the group of onlookers giggling at her. Hayley sat up with a big cheesy grin and basically showed off her cuteness for the crowd.

We left the aquarium pretty late with the intention of going to Casa de Fruta. Hayley was supposed to nap on the long car ride, but she took a really long time to fall asleep, so we decided to abort and head home. That night we had dinner with the family, including Kelley and Dylan. Wednesday morning was our first low-key morning in days. We had breakfast at Hobee's, then dropped Hayley off at Grandma's so we could take Gabe to see Inception (absolutely amazing movie, by the way). Afterward, we met up with family for another big dinner, this time with even more people (and awesome food courtesy of Dave).

The next day (Thursday) was my birthday. We had big plans for a trip to Berkeley, including a visit to the Lawrence Hall of Science in the morning and lunch at the Pyramid Brewery. Unfortunately, our natural alarm clock gave daddy a surprise gift by sleeping in later than expected, thus we missed our time window. So we had another relatively low-key morning with breakfast at Scramblz (an awesome family restaurant in SJ) and some light shopping. Following a relaxing afternoon, we headed out for, you guessed it, dinner with family! You'd think they would be sick of us; good thing we've got such a cute kid. Anyway, Miranda made some delicious steaks and my favorite cake. I capped off the night with some cognac I got with the BevMo card my parents sent to me. All in all, a very nice birthday.

On Friday morning we headed up to the Oakland Zoo with Kati. We went to the San Francisco Zoo before Hayley was born but we weren't that impressed. We had heard that the Oakland Zoo was better in some ways so we decided to see for ourselves.

As far as we're concerned, it's much better. Inexpensive, clean, and fun; it's big, but not so big that you feel overwhelmed (we covered nearly everything within 4 hours, including a lunch break). There are a lot of different animals and none of the exhibits are closed or incomplete. We all had a great time and will probably return within the next year.

Hayley slept over at Grandma's on Friday night so we could host a game night. As usual, much fun was had. Our awesome friends all chipped in for my birthday gift: Link's shield from the Zelda games. It goes with the sword that they gave me a few years ago. Yes, Hayley's daddy is a huge nerd and proud of it:

When we picked up Hayley on Saturday morning, it was time for us to say goodbye to Sandy, Dave, and Uncle Gabe. For the afternoon, we had tickets to an event that would simultaneously finish off our great week of vacation and officially welcome us into modern parenthood: a Wiggles concert! Hayley is not the biggest fan of the Wiggles, but we hoped that the live show would be more exciting for her. Luckily it was exactly that. After some initial worry due to the loud music and audience, she totally got into it, dancing and clapping along with the action on stage.

To commemorate all the places we took Hayley this week, we made sure to get souvenirs for her: a Giants hat from the baseball game, a book from Happy Hollow, a small stuffed penguin from the aquarium, an animal puzzle and a collection of toy animals from the zoo, and a wearable tail from the Wiggles concert (it resembles the tail of Dorothy the Dinosaur, one of the Wiggles characters). Here's Hayley wearing the tail:

Even though it was exhausting at times (especially for Hayley, who passed out hard every single night), this was one of the best weeks we've had as parents. There is really nothing better than making your child happy, and I'm pretty sure we did that. Unfortunately, the fun can't last forever. Mama went back to work today.

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