Thursday, March 28, 2013

Things I Wish I Wrote - "For All Mothers"

I have seen this wonderful story in several different places. It really is a must read for everyone considering parenthood.

I was quite shocked at how much the little things in my life were impacted by having children - movies I couldn't watch anymore, books I couldn't re-read, etc. since becoming a mama to my lovely girls.

So while I wish I could take credit for these stirring words...alas credit is actually due to Dale Hanson Bourke.


For all Mothers
(including soon to be Mothers)

We are sitting at lunch one day when my daughter casually mentions that she and her husband are thinking of "starting a family." "We're taking a survey," she says half-joking. "Do you think I should have a baby?"

"It will change your life," I say, carefully keeping my tone neutral.

"I know," she says, "no more sleeping in on weekends, no more spontaneous vacations."

But that is not what I meant at all. I look at my daughter, trying to decide what to tell her. I want her to know what she will never learn in childbirth classes.

I want to tell her that the physical wounds of child bearing will heal, but becoming a mother will leave her with an emotional wound so raw that she will forever be vulnerable.

I consider warning her that she will never again read a newspaper without asking, "What if that had been MY child?" That every plane crash, every house fire will haunt her.

That when she sees pictures of starving children, she will wonder if anything could be worse than watching your child die.

I look at her carefully manicured nails and stylish suit and think that no matter how sophisticated she is, becoming a mother will reduce her to the primitive level of a bear protecting her cub. That an urgent call of "Mum!" will cause her to drop a soufflé or her best crystal without a moments hesitation.

I feel that I should warn her that no matter how many years she has invested in her career, she will be professionally derailed by motherhood. She might arrange for childcare, but one day she will be going into an important business meeting and she will think of her baby's sweet smell. She will have to use every ounce of discipline to keep from running home, just to make sure her baby is all right.

I want my daughter to know that every day decisions will no longer be routine. That a five year old boy's desire to go to the men's room rather than the women's at McDonald's will become a major dilemma. That right there, in the midst of clattering trays and screaming children, issues of independence and gender identity will be weighed against the prospect that a child molester may be lurking in that restroom.

However decisive she may be at the office, she will second-guess herself constantly as a mother.

Looking at my attractive daughter, I want to assure her that eventually she will shed the pounds of pregnancy, but she will never feel the same about herself.

That her life, now so important, will be of less value to her once she has a child. That she would give herself up in a moment to save her offspring, but will also begin to hope for more years, not to accomplish her own dreams, but to watch her child accomplish theirs.

I want her to know that a cesarean scar or shiny stretch marks will become badges of honor.

My daughter's relationship with her husband will change, but not in the way she thinks.

I wish she could understand how much more you can love a man who is careful to powder the baby or who never hesitates to play with his child.

I think she should know that she will fall in love with him again for reasons she would now find very unromantic.

I wish my daughter could sense the bond she will feel with women throughout history who have tried to stop war, prejudice and drunk driving.

I want to describe to my daughter the exhilaration of seeing your child learn to ride a bike.

I want to capture for her the belly laugh of a baby who is touching the soft fur of a dog or cat for the first time.

I want her to taste the joy that is so real it actually hurts.

My daughter's quizzical look makes me realize that tears have formed in my eyes. "You'll never regret it," I finally say. Then I reached across the table, squeezed my daughter's hand and offered a silent prayer for her, and for me, and for all the mere mortal women who stumble their way into this most wonderful of callings.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A very good week indeed

It's week 2 for me and my new routine and so far I am happy to report that Week 1 was a complete success. I feel better, I have more energy and on Sunday night -when  I dared to weigh myself - I discovered I had dropped 5 pounds in one week! All due to making sensible and realistic and easy to handle changes. Oh...and working my ass off.

I expected a rough week. I thought I'd be dreaming about donuts. I figured the last thing I would feel like doing at the end of the day would be going for a run.  I couldn't have been more wrong.

Let's start with my new exercise routine.  In my first week I worked out 7 times. I wish I could say I did at least 30 minutes of cardio every day but the truth is I missed Tuesday.  So I worked out twice on Wednesday instead. That's one day. Trust one was more surprised than me that day.

When I first committed to training for a 5K run I was very happy to have two good friends offer to run with me. I knew I would be much more committed to the program with two other people holding me accountable.  But I was a little nervous too.

I was worried I would be holding them back. That they would be annoyed at my slow pace and want to run ahead. I'm learning that I really don't give the people I love enough credit.'s clear that both of them could run much faster than I do. But they don't even try. They let me set the pace and are full of encouragement. Jaime is always quick with a "Way to go Kel!" when our running interval is finished and I am fighting to breathe. And Lindsay - already a great runner - jogs beside us distracting me from the pain of my shin splints with funny stories.

Man I love these ladies...

Last week we were facing the reality of our first run in the rain. One of those awful Vancouver days where it's raining sideways and windy and cold. It would have been so easy to say...maybe I will run tomorrow instead.  And then I got this text:

And boy did we get wet. It was rainy. It was windy. It even hailed a little bit. At the end of the run we couldn't feel the left side of our faces. But we had done it.

I hit up the gym on Saturday morning with my girls. It's important to me that they are part of this process. I want them to see my hard work and to understand the reason why I am making these changes.  I want them to be proud of me.

At the end of my workout, sweating and out of breath I dropped to the mat to stretch.  Immediately my oldest daughter came running over and said "I will stretch with you Mummy...we can do it together."

I mean...really...there were no words. And then just today - after electronically punching me in the face last week - Foursquare and I made up.

Now let's talk food. What I have quickly realized is that by not depriving myself - and instead making sensible choices - I don't have overwhelming cravings. I might still have a cookie...but I will have one instead of 3. Nice to meet you willpower...where have you been my whole life?

Case in point, late night shopping trips used to be my downfall. I always managed to walk out with a baked good of some kind or a chocolate bar to eat on the way home. Not this week.  When I got home and unpacked my shopping bags there wasn't a baked good in sight.

And now to the best news of the week. Well so far...I mean it is only Tuesday.

Early in my first pregnancy I was diagnosed with high blood pressure and have been on medication ever since. My doctor kept telling me that losing 20 pounds might be all it would take to get me off the medication.

Today she had to take my blood pressure three times before she really believed it. After just 8 days on my new regime my blood pressure was 122/84. The lowest it had been since before I had kids.  And oh so agonizingly close to that perfect 120/80 reading.

After asking me to outline what I was doing differently and what my goals were...she gave me a new goal. "I've only ever had 2 patients that managed to get themselves off their blood pressure medication." she told me. "I want you to be the third."

Don't worry Doc...I got this.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Monkeys & Card Sharks

Now that I have a job that doesn't consume my entire life I am enjoying a lot more quality time with my lovely girls.

They are both growing up so fast I find myself constantly wanting to freeze time.  Every day they look older and taller...and their little personalities and funny quirks warm my heart.

On Sunday - on a rare March day of brilliant sunshine - we went to watch Daddy play soccer. Unfortunately the other team didn't show up so there was no soccer to watch. Fortunately there was a great playground right next to the soccer field.

Then on Monday night the sun was still out after dinner to so headed down for some long overdue park time.  Where my littlest monkey showed off for me:

Then it was back inside for baths and a few rounds of Monopoly Deal.

She cleaned me out big time.

These moments are ever-so-fleeting and I am realizing more and more how special they are.  Every book read together, every morning cuddle, every kiss goodnight...

Life is good.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Day 1...

Day 1 is in the books folks...and it was a good day indeed.

me and my awesome running partner on day 1
My alarm went off a little earlier than usual and I didn't even hit was straight into the kitchen to get my morning smoothie going.

The night before I had prepped my new morning drink - after researching so many recipes - I decided to make a new creation. A banana, some yogurt, a handful of blueberries, some ice cubes and of course...some spinach.

I'm not going to I watched my Magic Bullet blend up that spinach I was skeptical.  I mean all the smoothie "experts" had said "trust can't taste the spinach when you mix it all up." But I still had my doubts...but I pressed on.

The noise of the blender woke both children and they came running because the blender usually means milkshakes.Imagine their disappointment when they saw the greenish mush I was pouring into my travel bottle (bought especially for my morning smoothies.)

All it took was one sip and I was convinced.  You really can't taste the spinach and a smoothie is the best way tot start the day.  And in the end my oldest finally tried it and LOVED it.  Little one was having none of it.

As part of my whole "don't try to do it all at once" mantra I packed healthy snacks but decided to buy my lunch at work rather than commit to a Lean Cuisine or something similar. All in good time...

One old practice I did re-commit to was a food journal.  For the past 2 years I have been paying $9.95 a month to maintain an account on My Food Diary (don't tell my hubby...)

I am a big fan of MFD.  It's easy to use, gives great advice and provides daily kudos for jobs well done. encouragement. And they let you maintain a "fridge" of your most common foods as well as build your own recipes for meals. You can also track your exercise routine, water consumption and weight and measurements (if you are brave enough).

So - to recap so far - healthy smoothie for breakfast, nutritious snack options for the day and committing to a food journal again.  A pretty good start.

On my lunch break - after a healthy-ish sandwich - I took a drive to scout out the nearest 30 Minute Hit location.  I joined the Hit back in 2011 and am still a big believer in the benefits of this 30 Minute boxing and kickboxing circuit. I expect that 30 Minute Hit will play a big role in my transformation.

I was truly thrilled to find a Hit location about 8 minutes from my office...and it's open until 1pm on Mon/Wed/Fri which makes it a perfect lunchtime workout option.  If my co-workers don't mind me coming back to work sweaty and gross that is. What could go wrong there?

I came home to dinner with the hubby and the kids and my anxiety was starting to build as 8pm drew nearer...for that marked the time my friend Jaime would be at my door ready to do our first run in our 5K training program.

I had downloaded an app called 'Ease into 5K' which gave me an 11 week training program - running 3 times a week. For Week 1 we were to run for 60secs and walk for 90secs - repeating this 9 times.  Part of me thought it was ridiculous to be dreading running 9 minutes over the course of 30 but I knew it wasn't going to be easy.

And you know what - it wasn't. I got shin splints, my hip hurt and I was out of breath pretty quickly.  But I LOVED every minute of it because I was finally doing something about it.  And having a friend there doing it with me was a big incentive.

We chatted - when we could breathe and talk at the same time - and then ran/walked in companionable silence when we couldn't.

And in no time...we were done. My "coach" (who in the app has a lovely British accent) was telling us to cool down. We had done it.

After rushing home and sending hubby off to his soccer practice - he commented on how cool it was that I had just been running where he was going to go running! - I sat down to complete the day's details on My Food Diary.

And this was my reward for a great day 1:

That "if every day were like today..." part is some good motivation right were all the awesome likes and comments I got from friends and family on Facebook after posting that I had finished day 1.

Today is a rest day and I am off to dinner with two of my favourite girls...ready to get back on the running program tomorrow.  Taking this all one day at a time.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Words of Encouragement

On Wednesday I published my most honest and personal post since I started this blog. I had been working on it for months and was frankly terrified to hit that publish button and share it with the world.

Immediately I knew I had underestimated the world...or more precisely...all of the amazing people in my own world.

The response to that post has brought me to tears, raised my spirits and strengthened my resolve. I am even more confident now that I can do this...

Here is just a small selection of the responses:

awesome! proud of you kel, I'll be there to cheer you on, or maybe even run alongside you. xo

Great post Kelly! And just for the record, I buy the oatmeal for the Raisins & Spice, it's my favourite flavor. Good luck, you can do it!

WOW! I am impressed beyond words by the courage it must have taken to put this out there. I believe in you, you go girl!

I will be reading and cheering you on 100%!! what you just wrote was hard but so inspiring, thank you Kelly!

made me cry hun. You r one beautiful lady. xo

Amazing post Kelly!!!! I love your truth! I have every bit of confidence that you will do yourself proud in your journey!!! Cheering you on in your journey!

One friend shared my post on Facebook with this comment:
A great blog post from a great mom who is facing her struggles head on. Proud of her.

In addition to these written comments I got hugs of encouragement and several offers from people willing to run with me if I needed a push. A few people warned me they were planning to hold me accountable and my neighbour even dropped by just to hug me and say how much she loved my post. 

In short...I was feeling the love. And with all that support as my driving force I have spent the last few days preparing for my 'new life'.

I went back to the gym...where Foursquare kindly reminded me I hadn't been in months. Ouch...

I have been preparing menus and exercise plans and trying out smoothie recipes. I've been sorting through drawers of old exercise gear and creating music playlists to run to.

Saying "my diet starts tomorrow" feels like too much of a instead I will say "tomorrow is day 1 on my new path".

It's going to be a very good Monday indeed. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Flashback Photo - Walking in the old 'hood

When my oldest daughter was first born we lived in a little house in a very lovely neighbourhood on the west side of Vancouver.  Hubby and I had moved into the house about a month after we got married and we loved it. 

The only thing it lacked was a backyard to play in - so we had to make the neighbourhood our "backyard" instead.  And that wasn't hard. 

When Malia learned how to walk - and inevitibly got tired of doing "laps" around our house - we took her outside and let her do laps around the neighbourhood instead.

She loved it.  There was one stretch of the street where each apartment had it's own little sidewalk leading to a locked gate. Malia insisted on checking each gate...

Sadly none of them ever opened...but she never stopped trying.

Look at that little pout...

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Keeping it Real (aka Raisins & Spice)

When I first started this blog I intended it to be a journal of my life.  I knew that meant it would be mainly about my kids and life as a working mother...but I hoped it would evolve into more than that.

Of course I also knew that if I this really was to be a journal about my life I would have to be honest and keep it all real. And that meant not pulling any punches...especially about myself. it real as I can get.

Being fat sucks.

Wow..that was like ripping off a band-aid. Writing has always been my therapy but I have avoided this topic because it's always felt way too personal. But with all the recent changes in my life now just felt like the right time for me to finally start writing about it.

Let's start with a funny story...both funny ha ha and funny ironic.

A few years ago I went to a comedy club with a couple of girlfriends. One of the comedians was a very funny young man named Ivan Decker. He told this joke (and I'm clearly paraphrasing):

"I love instant oatmeal. I always buy the variety many great flavours all in one box. You got your Apples & Cinnamon, Cinnamon & Spice, Maple & Brown Sugar...all so yummy.  Then the day inevitably comes when you go to the cupboard, open up the box and see all that's left is Raisins & Spice. I mean...why do they even put it in the box. Nobody really wants just put up with it being there because you know the better flavours are there too. It's the same when meeting women in the bar. You walk in, spot a couple of hot girls at the bar - real Maple and Brown Sugar types. You walk over and start to chat. Turns out they aren't available but would like you to meet their friend...Raisins & Spice."

Okay...I didn't do the joke full justice...but you get the gist of it I hope. I laughed loudly (along with everyone else) because was funny and pretty accurate analogy. But it hit home too...because in my life I was always Raisins & Spice.

Getting fat happened slowly for me. I mean I was was never the thinnest girl in the room. Especially since I "developed" at the age of 10. In high school and college I was curvy...and very proud of it. I was comfortable in my body.

When I graduated college I had put on the typical college 15 (okay maybe 20) but that was okay.  I was newly engaged and beyond happy with my life...and then I think I just let myself get way too comfortable.  I was engaged so didn't have to worry about first impressions on dates or in the bars.  And he was Latin so when my curves got a little curvier...he didn't seem to mind.

My clothing size continued to creep up but I was never really a fashionista anyway so it was never a big problem...until the day I realized I could no longer shop in "normal" stores.  And let me tell you...stepping into a plus size clothing store for the first time was a real eye opener. I was expecting to find the same clothes that the other mainstream stores were carrying...just bigger. Boy was I wrong.

Instead I was faced with polyester, elastic waistbands, caftans and even more polyester. In a nutshell...I had fallen into my grandmother's closet. And for a girl in her mid-20's that was a nightmare. And that's when I started to realize what I had done to myself...

After that day my weight was always on my mind.  Any room I walked into I checked to see if I was the fattest one there. I practiced smiling techniques in the mirror to find the best way to hide my double chin.  I felt embarrassed and ashamed of the way that I looked.

Looking back now - remembering how bad I felt at the time - I am pissed off at myself for never managing to take control at the time. I was young, I had no kids, it would have been so easy.  But I didn't make the changes I should have to correct the pattern.

Instead I made half-hearted attempts to control it...I joined a gym and for a few months went everyday. Until I got a cold, had to miss a week, and then just never went back. I tried yoga, tae-bo, step class, spinning, etc. - you name a workout craze and I tried it. I did cleanses and diets. And all of that was enough to plateau my weight but it never went down.

And then I got pregnant. I'm not going to lie...getting pregnant was like being given a get out of fat jail free card. I was eating for was okay to wear pants with an elastic waistband...I was too nauseous to exercise. For once...I didn't have to worry about how big I looked.

I don't think I ever managed to even look pregnant the first time around. There was no cute little baby bump (even though I longed to have one) there was just more fat. And it was far from a healthy pregnancy - I developed high blood pressure and eventually delivered my lovely girl 7 weeks early after being diagnosed with pre-eclampsia.

Looking at my daughter through the plexiglass of her incubator in the NICU I knew that her early arrival into this world was my fault and I hated myself for doing that to her. Hated myself for the fact that my weight issues contributed to her first days being spent in the hospital instead of at home. It was a pretty dark time for me...

I vowed that I would fix this. That I would put every spare minute I had into getting healthy and losing weight. Of course any parent will tell you that finding time for yourself once you have kids is next to impossible and that's exactly what happened to me. My best intentions were all for naught.

For the past almost 7 years since I became a mother my life has not been about me.  And it has provided the easiest excuse for me not to deal with my weight issues.

"I don't have time to exercise."
"Who has time to make different meals for me and the kids."
"When they just get a little bit older it will be easier."

Yadda, yadda, yadda...

Let's call a spade a spade was mainly bullshit. All of those excuses might have been valid at some point but the real bottom line is that I have been lazy.

But no more...

It is long past time for me to deal with this.  To face my issues head on.  To keep it real.  To get healthy.

So I have a few goals for myself in 2013. First off - I'm going to Las Vegas in August for a birthday celebration weekend. That's 5 months from now and I'd like to be down at least 20 pounds by then...maybe 30.

The bigger goal is training to compete in the NeverLand 5K in Disneyland in January. Running has never been my thing...hard to run when you are carrying all this extra weight. But I have decided it will be my thing because its something I can do for free at almost anytime. Fewer opportunities for me to make excuses.

my pretty new motivational running shoes...
Plus...what better motivation than the prospect of another trip to the happiest place on earth...where my kids will be cheering me on at the finish line as I accomplish my goal.

This time around all of my plans are much more realistic - basic common sense eating and exercise goals.  Little changes that can make all the difference.

I will document my journey on my blog. So in between posts about my lovely girls you get to hear all about my struggle to become the woman I know I should be. A strong, active and healthy mother that is a role model for my girls. A confident and sexy wife for my hubby who - bless his cotton socks - has heard me say "I am finally going to do it." so many times before and is still my champion.

But most importantly I am doing this for me. So that when I see my reflection in the mirror I'm not shocked by the reality of how I look. So that how I look on the outside finally matches how I feel on the inside.

I'm doing this so that I never feel like Raisins & Spice again. And trust me...thats some true motivation.

I will get back to my Maple & Brown Sugar days...

Monday, March 11, 2013

What's That Smell?

Ahh...the sense of smell...such a double edged sword. It can transport you back to a moment in the past you had long forgotten, bring back emotions you hadn't felt in a while...and also make you wish you were anywhere but in that moment. Especially when you are changing dirty diapers.

But for this week...let's forget about the bad smells...and as I'm sure Kerry from New2Two had intended for this week's Monday Listicles...I'm going to just focus on the good smells.

Here - as usual in no particular order except the order I remember them in - are my favourite smells:

Newly Sharpened Pencils - okay...I will admit it...every time I'm in a stationary store I find myself coveting the electric pencil sharpeners. It's a good thing they are so expensive...otherwise all of the pencils in our house would be sharpened down to nothingness.

Joop - my hubby's cologne of choice in those key high school years.  One sniff of it and I'm back in the hallways standing at my locker next to him...enhaling deeply.

Cooked Onions - what is about them?  No matter how full you may be...the smell of cooked onions makes you hungry once again.

Freshly Brewed Coffee - more specifically...freshly ground coffee beans.

Books (especially old Library books) - I will never fully convert to ePublications for this exact reason. Unless technology can find a way to recreate this smell for me.  So I really shouldn't say never.

Rain - especially summer rain...and loving the smell of rain is pretty much a requirement when you live in Vancouver.

Baking - especially fresh bread. Or cupcakes. Or brownies. Or cookies. get the picture.

Clean Laundry - especially when it's clean sheets on a freshly made bed.  Thank you Bounty dryer sheets in clean linen da bomb.

The Ocean - again...a no brainer when you live on the coast. And when you are lucky enough to combine the smell of the ocean with the sound of the's total sensory gold.

Johnson & Johnson's No More Tears Baby Shampoo - fresh out of the bath baby head.  Enough said.

And there you have it...all of the smells that make me want to breathe deeper...

Thanks for another great topic Stasha...see you next week.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Winds of Change

Close to three years ago I was positively giddy to be offered my dream job in the marketing department of my favourite sports team. As a lifelong fan of the team I just knew that I would work there forever.  And once I met my amazing colleagues I was even more certain of that fact.

Unfortunately the job never really lived up to my - admittedly - high expectations. My job title and responsibilities changed several times and with each change I found myself doing less and less actual marketing and that led to me feeling like I was losing my creative skills.  I was stagnating.

I knew I needed to make a change before I lost my skills completely. The 4 month NHL labour dispute and lockout provided the perfect opportunity to explore other options. For the first time I knew I was going to be picky. I was looking for a very specific type of job and work environment.

I needed a job that would challenge me but not require me to be chained to my phone 24/7. I needed a company that actually understood how to give employees life/work and not just talk about it. And I needed more money because - well - don't we all?

I figured there was no way I would find all if this in one position. But after just one week at my new job I'm happy to report that I was wrong about that.

My new role is slightly lower in seniority than my previous one but I know it will give me much better work-life balance and I'm already very excited  about the projects I will be managing.

Even more exciting is that I absolutely LOVE everyone I am working with. What a fabulous group of amazing awesome. It's already clear that I am on the same page as my new supervisor...and that she actually knows what she's doing. Always a big plus.

And I've been reunited with one of my dearest friends...who I first worked with nearly 10 years ago.  Back when we were young and single and carefree.  Now we are old(er) married ladies with times change.

Leaving my old job was not an easy decision.  Mainly because of the people that I left behind. But in the end I had to admit that my "dream" job was no longer a dream.  It was holding me back professionally, robbing me of quality time with my kids and providing very little upside.

But no longer will that be the case. My  new job might prove to be a little less exciting and is defintiely with a lower profile brand...but ultimately that doesn't matter.

The most important thing is that I have found a place where I am able to fulfill my need to work and be challenged professionally...and still be home for dinner every night.

Hopefuly giving me more time to also pursue some of my own personal goals. One of which involves these...

but that's a topic for another post...

Friday, March 8, 2013

Flashback Photo - Raincoat Girls

It rains a lot here in Vancouver and so having a super cute raincoat is a matter how old you are.  These photos are from November 2011...the girls and I were playing outside when I took this series of shots.

There was something about the colour of the leaves and their raincoats and their big smiles that made me just keep snapping pics.  And the very last picture wound up being one of my all time faves.

Who says you can't have fun in the rain?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

San Francisco

Hubby and I needed a little vacation. We were burnt out and pretty much ready to snap. Luckily for us we had some air miles to use so we took full advantage and booked a spontaneous weekend getaway to San Francisco.

Now...I must admit that San Francisco was not our first choice. We were in search of some sunshine and so first looked at flights to Los Angeles, San Diego, Palm Springs, Phoenix and Las Vegas first.  Luckily for us none of the flight times worked out and so we wound up booking 2 tickets to San Francisco.

During the 3 week wait between booking the tickets and actually departing I checked the weather forecast on a daily basis. And depending on the day, hour, or minute we were either headed into a monsoon or a heatwave.  What to pack?

Also - we booked the trip so last minute that we hadn't even sorted out childcare for our two adorable - yet sometimes difficult - children. Thank god for our amazing family - they all stepped up to help and soon we had a plan in place that everyone was happy with.

Wednesday was departure day - and not just for our flight.  It was also my last day of work.  It was a hectic day full of last minute errands, sad goodbyes and happy anticipation. It was an emotional roller coaster of a day to say the least. exactly 5:30 hubby and I found ourselves in the US departures area of Vancouver International Airport with no kids.  We reveled in the silence of the nearly empty terminal...such a change from the usual hectic (and loud) life we live.

A few hours later we exited the plane at SFO and prepared to explore this city that everyone told us we were going to fall immediately in love with.  A city whose weather forecast now looked like this:

And wouldn't you know it...they were right. If we didn't have to live in reality...we'd be living in San Francisco.

Our trip - in pictures:

Departing from YVR...

...arriving in SFO.

On the ferry to Alcatraz...

Selfie with the prison in the background.

Non-selfie with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.

Arriving at Alcatraz dock.
Cell Block D - complete with Solitary cells.

Quick word of advice for you if you go to Alcatraz...make sure you do the audio tour.  It`s just amazing.  Stories told by 4 ex-prisoners and 4 guards.  Fascinating stuff.  I`m still haunted by one inmates story of how he stayed sane while in 24-hour darkness in solitary confinement.  He pulled a button off his shirt, threw it up in the air, spun around 3 times and then tried to find it in the dark.  Over and over and over again he did this. Just to have something to do.

Prison rules...
Making our escape from the island....seriously this city is gorgeous!
Before picture of our shrimp platter at the tourist trap known as Bubba Gumps Shrimp Company...
The after picture. Yum.
Sea Lions. Noisy little buggers...
Our amazing little hotel in Union Square.
It was small but very comfortable..
The building was so old that the floors were slanted and it felt like we were walking downhill when crossing the room.

The last of the lingering morning fog.  It was 6-hour bus tour day!
Side note - we are not usually tour people...we usually just like to make our own itinerary and wander the city.  But given the amount of hills...and the fact we wanted to go over the Golden Gate Bridge and my fear of heights meant we couldnt do that by bike or on foot...a tour seemed like the only option.  And we are so glad we did it. We booked through Dylans Tours. Dylan is a lifelong San Fran resident and his tour took us to all the usual touristy spots but he also showed us the real city.  By the end of the tour we felt like experts. it was totally worth our time and money. 

Up at the highest point of the mountain to take pictures of the city. Breathtaking.

yet another selfie...
Over to the old-growth redwood forest at Muir Woods.  These trees are centuries hold and miles high.
Back in town with the obligatory shot of Fishermans Wharf.
Our big dinner splurge at Mortons. Food was amazing but still can`t believe I paid $50 for that meat...and the potatoes were extra!
Last day in San Fran so we stopped to visit my friend that owns a Blo franchise on Union Street.  I`m pretty much hooked now.
Our last meal in the city.  Hubby didnt want to leave the city and it`s Anchor Steam beer.
We had some time to kill back at the hotel before catching our flight...
So hubby got to reunite with his old friend again.

Landed in Vegas at 12:30am with 5 hours before our next flight.
So we hit the Strip of course!
We had a rum and coke at the Paris.
And breakfast at the Bellagio Cafe.
Back to the airport for our 7am flight.
And then back home to this.  It`s all good...

By the end of the trip - especially after those 5 sleepless early monrnig hours in Las Vegas - we were exhausted. Both of us just wanted to go to bed and sleep for hours.

Instead...we took the kids to their swimming lessons. was back to normal.

Thanks for the fabulous hospitality San Francisco...we will definitely see you again soon.