Small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.


The High Sierras

Since the beginning of the year, we've had been planning to go down Hwy 1 in the middle of October. It's a great time of year in the Bay Area, so the plan was to rent a convertible to visit Hearst Castle and check out a few places along we way we hadn't yet seen. But, when the chosen weekend drew near, it just wasn't feeling right. I love driving down Hwy 1 with the beach and the ocean and I love convertibles and touring famous estates, but there is something I've come to love even more...mountains. (I can only imagine the smile on my Husband's face as he reads that sentence).

Last Monday, I noticed that the fall colors in the High Sierras were starting to peak. It piqued my interest as well and we started contemplating trading the sand beneath our toes for rocks soaring above our heads. Tuesday night, while discussing it and trying to make a decision, I was scrolling through Instagram and saw two back to back pictures. One of  golden leafs from Yosemite followed by a picture of a hat that said "Choose Mountains". I decided it was fate and we chose the mountains. What a WONDERFUL choice it was!!!

Wednesday night, we lucked out and found an open camp spot at June Lake. It was the very last weekend this campground was open and we knew it would be cold (as in lows in the low 30's). In Sequoia, we camped out in the 30's and I froze so Thursday night we headed our favorite place (REI) and bought some new zero degree down sleeping bags. Now we were really ready for the mountains.

Friday, I tried to leave work early and by 4pm we were on the road headed to our campground. Unfortunately, leaving the peninsula at 4pm on a Friday is a nightmare. We barely stopped at all, but didn't arrive to our campsite at June Lake until just after 11pm. Landon was alseep and it was cold, so Adam and I hurried to put the tent up in the dark, then we hurried inside our tent to get warm and cozy and snuggled in for the night. The upside of arriving at your campsite in the dark, is waking up to something unexpected. As soon as I opened that zipper at 7:30 on Saturday morning, all the stress and cares from the week melted away. The sun hadn't yet reached our tent, but it was kissing the tops of the mountains, color was bursting all around us, and the lake was just in sight.

We headed out for some breakfast then made our way into Yosemite. June Lake is beyond Yosemite and right outside the Mammoth Lakes area of California. We had traveled through Yosemite the night before to get our campground and into the Inyo National Forest where we stayed. We made our way up the scary, but breathtaking Tioga Pass and had a short stop at Tioga Lake so Adam could take some pictures...

...and Landon could do something we knew he would in some snow! However little it may have been, just like we thought, he was super excited to see and touch it. He ran across it, stomped on it, made snowballs, and pointed out all the patches he could possibly find. He was ecstatic!

After a little bit, we hopped back into the car and made our way to Tuolumne Meadows, the trail-head for our day's hike. Adam had been wanting to do this hike to Cathedral Lakes for about a year. At 8,500 ft with over 5,000 ft of elevation change and 9.5 total miles, we were not sure Landon would be able to do it. We had been holding off, but decided to go for it. If we ever wanted to see Cathedral Lakes, we'd have to take the little one with us so we decided to go slow and see how it went. He made it the first half mile which is completely uphill without a single compliant. Adam even showed him how to use the hiking sticks properly when walking downhill.

Despite being a popular trail, we were there at the end of the season and had it mostly to ourselves. The scenery was beautiful as we hiked through forest and among meadows. Landon continued to point out ALL of the snow we encountered and Adam got his first taste of the John Muir trail as this is part of its route.

After 2 hours and 4 miles we came to Lower Cathedral Lakes. The larger and, you guessed it, lower lake, it is the most visited of the two lakes. As we walked through the meadow and to the edge of the lake, we turned around to see Cathedral Peak rising up in the distance.

 Landon and I ate some snacks and rested on the huge granite rocks surrounding the lake while Adam took some pictures. It is the massive granite that makes Yosemite so spectacular. It isn't just the rocks that soars above, but the massive granite at your feet as well. From the size to the color, these stones never cease to amaze me.

After a break, we headed back on the trail and walked another mile to Upper Cathedral lake. Smaller and far less frequented, getting to Upper Cathedral lake takes some trail knowledge as the signs only point to the lower lake. I've read a few hiking guides, which say the Lower Cathedral Lake is better, but they are crazy. There is no doubt in my mind, that Upper Cathedral Lake is the real highlight. See the picture below for Exhibit A

With Cathedral Peak soaring just past the lake, it doesn't get more picturesque. Unlike Lower Cathedral Lake, we had this entire lake to ourselves and Landon and Adam spent a good amount of time yelling and listening to their voices echo. I pulled out my chair and soaked it all in while Landon got out his legos and found the littlest bit of snow he could to play in.

Adam hiked around the lake a little more to take pictures. He climbed up a huge rock and took this picture. It is my favorite of the day. Just seeing it makes me want to drop everything and go back immediately.

Adam found this quote by John Muir of Cathedral Lakes, I wish it was something we had been able to read while we were sitting there, staring at this gorgeous scene. Still, just looking at the picture now I can't help but really understand his words. I always feel closer to God when I am in nature. Muir was the same and always put it so eloquently. Of Cathedral Lakes he said, 

"No wonder the hills and groves were God's first temples, and the more they are cut down and hewn into cathedrals and churches, the farther off and dimmer seems the Lord himself. The same may be said of stone temples. Yonder, to the eastward of our camp grove, stands one of Nature's cathedrals, hewn from the living rock, almost conventional in form, about two thousand feet high, nobly adorned with spires and pinnacles, thrilling under floods of sunshine as if alive like a grove- temple, and well named 'Cathedral Peak' 

There is nothing else to say. He said it perfectly.

We had planned to stay until Sunset, but it was pretty obvious that the sun wasn't going to be putting on a show for us. We played at the lake for a bit before starting the long hike back to the car. We said goodbye, vowing next time to get a wilderness permit and stay for the night.

After having been a complete rock-star all day, as soon as we started hiking back Landon was ready to be done. The first two miles of the 4 mile hike to the car went pretty smoothly. At just over 1.5 miles left, we took a short rest and it was obvious he was over it.

By our last mile, we were all pretty tired and Landon spent a good portion of it crying. We tried to distract him by talking about Halloween, but every so often it wouldn't work and he'd be a pitiful mess. He said he was sad that he missed Kaiser, but we both knew it was just hard, his little legs hurt and he was tired and sometimes hiking sucks. Still, we've never carried him yet so Adam generously took his backpack from him and we talked him through it. We also may have told him if he cried too much the coyotes would come and get us. In our defense, there is a chance a small child crying would attract them thinking there were other coyotes nearby. So maybe it wasn't a complete lie. A parents sanity is important too!

Eventually though we made it to the car and we couldn't have been more proud of him for hiking over 9 miles on his own. I know he didn't enjoy every second, or any second of the last hour, but I hope one day he really does. We got back in the car and headed toward Mammoth Lakes for some well deserved dinner. Landon passed out almost immediately and we were stopped at the edge of the park with the road being closed due to a fatal accident on the only road out of the park. With no alternative to getting to Mammoth Lakes or our campground, we waited out the hour in our car then made our way to some of the best pizza we've ever had. By the time we got there, ate, and got back to our tent it was late. For the first time ever, we didn't even bother with a campfire and us three tired people crawled back into our tents and quickly fell asleep for the night.

Sunday morning, we packed up our gear and drove around June Lake and the surrounding area for a bit before heading back home. I wish we had more time in the area as I so enjoyed this area. June Lake is especially pretty and a great place to camp. We headed out on the last day of the season, but can't wait to come back and enjoy it in the Spring. I'll definitely have to bring a kayak as this lake is perfect for a nice little excursion.

We drove around and admired all the pretty colorful trees in the area.

We came at a great time and although not all the trees were at their peak yet, there was plenty of color. With the lakes, the snow brushed mountains and the color of the trees, it was one beautiful sight after another.

San Francisco doesn't get a Fall, but it is so nice to travel just a few hours and be in the middle of it. I could have driven these roads all day long and never got tired of the views.

But, it just couldn't be. We had to get back home so Adam could leave for a business trip and we could prepare for the week ahead. So we said our goodbyes through our tears and headed back to the concrete jungle. As short as this little weekend was, it was perfect and amazing and exactly what we needed. The hat was right. It said "choose Mountains" and I'm so glad we did. We crossed an amazing place off our to-do list, added a great new place to our future camping trips, refreshed our souls, and pushed ourselves to our limits. I couldn't be prouder of our little trooper and, despite his real tears, I can only hope he gained as many fond memories of this weekend as Adam and I did.


If I Had Gotten The Flu Shot

If I had gotten the flu shot the year I was pregnant I would have...

Been the first person to hold my child
Taken him to his first checkup
Had a tearful and joyful first few minutes as a new family of three
Been the first person to rock my son to sleep
Given him his first kiss
Breastfed my baby
The ability to have more kids
Seen the look on my parents face when they met their first Grandchild for the first time
Decide who he looked like before anyone else had a chance
Had a natural childbirth
Be the first person to count all his fingers and all his toes
Taken him home from the hospital
Fill out his "first few days" in his baby book
Witnessed his first smile
Gotten to be the one to introduce him to his big cousin
And to his furry brother
Put him in his crib his first night home
Been a part of his first pictures
Give him his first bath
Dressed him in all his newborn outfits
Been a part of the first 8.5 weeks of his life

Instead of having all these things with my Son, when he was born, I was horribly sick with the flu. We didn't know how bad it was at the time of his birth, but shortly after his delivery, my husband was informed that I had less than a 50% chance of survival. A chance that diminished greatly within the following hours and days. The flu had become pneumonia and then into acute respiratory distress syndrome. As my Son ended his first full day of life, I was put into a medically induced coma and onto a machine that took all the blood from my body and oxygenated it so my lungs could rest and try to heal. It was a last ditch effort to try and save the newborn baby's Mom.

As our Son continued to grow, my husband and I spent the first five weeks of his life in a glass room in the ICU. Along with my husband, my parents, family, and friends spent many sleeplessness nights in the waiting room hoping and praying for anything but bad news. As our son was given his first bath, I was receiving sponge baths and developing bed sores as they were unable to move me. When he was being fed bottles, I was receiving all my food through a feeding tube down my nose. As he made his first, second, and third visits to his pediatrician, I had a team of doctors working around the clock to keep me alive.

During his first 18 days of his life, all my blood left my body and received life sustaining necessities from an device called an ECMO machine. On the 19th day, I was prematurely pulled off the machine due to possible infection. Once off ECMO, I was still on a ventilator and fighting infections. I also dealt with necrotizing tissue on my leg which required a debridement surgery, a uterine artery embolization after substantial blood loss that wouldn't abate, a partially collapsed lung that required a chest tube, and a tracheotomy after being on a ventilator for too long. At my lowest point, my survival chances were less than 10%.

Eventually though I began to pull through and recover although for me, my hardest days where just beginning. Once brought out of full sedation, my reality and nightmares where more than I could bear. Being tortured over and over again was an all too real nightmare that I lived in for days. One so real that I was terrified to fall asleep and so convincing that even today I almost swear that it all happened. Early on, as I lay awake unable to move I had two catheters to allow me to go to the bathroom. As I lay in bed feeling sick one morning, I was assured I could just go and be it would ok. Unfortunately, my lines where pinched and soon two male nurses where in my room, undressing and removing my sheets by rolling me from one side the other, then wiping the mess from my naked body. At that point, I could barely even raise an arm to help them. The feeling of desolation, humility, and despair felt like the only thing I had left. I was 25 years old and wished I would have just died.

After 34 days of lying a hospital bed, I tried to stand for the first time. I was lifted up by two physical therapists, stood for 5 seconds holding onto a walker, and then collapsed; My legs too weak to hold the weight of  my body. It was at that moment that I realized just how bad of shape I was in, Still on a tracheotomy and feeding tube, I was not supposed to have any liquids down my throat for fear of aspiration. I learned rather quickly what true thirst was like. I would beg and plead with my husband just for one ice chip. After a rather grueling task of sitting upright in a chair for 30 minutes, I had a number of ice chips and soon after threw up. The nurses banned all ice for good. It was a devastating moment for me. I experienced a myriad of excruciating pains, but nothing compared to thirst.

On my Son's 42nd day of life, I was transferred to an inpatient rehab center. During my first few days there, getting dressed took over 30 minutes. I couldn't lift my arm enough to so much as brush my hair and I wasn't allowed to walk more than a few feet with my walker before being stopped by my tachycardic heart. I worked a whole week on being able to get on and off the toilet and another trying to walk and hold an object (like a baby). Every morning I would try to stand at the sink and brush my teeth without needing to sit or rest my arm.

When he was 45 days old, they brought Landon to the rehab center so we could finally meet. It was not the beautiful moment that people think of when meeting their child for the first time. They wheeled me into a room and I was required to wear a blue plastic hospital gown for fear of giving him any infections. Sitting up was exhausting and hard work and a lift belt wrapped around my chest was horribly uncomfortable. With me, in the wheel chair, was my wound vac and a heart monitor. Within minutes I was sweating under the plastic gown. He came in his car seat sound asleep. I didn't feel an overwhelming sense of love. I just felt distance and fear. Even more, I was so wrapped up in my own pain and uncomfortable state that I couldn't even relax and enjoy the few minutes we had. By this time, my trach had been removed and a slowly closing hole was left in its place. Every time I wanted to talk to my son, or anyone else, I had to hold one hand over the hole putting pressure on the gauze so that my words could be heard. After a 30 minute visit, I had to go rest. Despite being told he could visit everyday after that, I couldn't do it and choose not to see him anymore. While I understand that this does not seem like a rational decision to most people, it was the right one at that stage in my recovery.

When our son was 60 days old, I left the hospital and we became a family. A family, with a nurse that visited multiple times a week to check on me. To view my open wounds which still included a trach hole, a large opening on my leg, and an open c-section. I had physical therapy come to the house as well and learned within the first few hours of being a real Mom that the hardest workout of my day was just carrying Landon to his changing pad. By the time I was ready to change his diaper, sweat would be pouring off my face. Holding him was hard, so I didn't do it very much. Despite his young age, my needs were actually greater and many times he would lay in his crib crying while my husband worked on the long and delicate task of changing out my wound dressing. It was a priority that came before all else at a time when it should have been him that was the priority. It would leave me in tears and it wasn't because my baby was crying in the other room.

If I had gotten the flu shot, the first 60 days of Motherhood wouldn't have robbed from me. I wouldn't have pictures of strangers holding my Son instead of his own Mom and Dad. I know why I didn't get the flu shot. I remember the exact event. I was about two months pregnant when I watched a 20/20 news story of a girl who had received the flu shot and from the side effects could only walk backwards. Her name was Desiree Jennings. I was shocked, horrified and disgusted and from that broadcast I formed a complete distrust in all things vaccine. If you google this girl now, more google results will show her more as a hoax than a true victim of vaccination side effects. I don't care to know if her story is true or not. It is my fault for turning against vaccines, but I do often wonder what would have happened if, after they showed her story, they had shown a story like mine. Or a story similar to mine that didn't have the happy ending,

Every year the flu kills and it doesn't just kill a few people, but thousands. While it is true that most people can fight the flu, it is also true that high risk groups such as children, elderly, people with lowered immune systems, and pregnant women may not be able to. Their body is either too busy working on something else, like growing a baby, or fighting other health issues. Healthy adults may not feel a need for the flu shot, but how many of those people have children? Are around an aging parent or grandparent? Have a pregnant wife? Maybe even have a health issue that is not diagnosed?

I implore everyone to have an earnest discussion with their doctor on the benefits AND drawbacks of the flu shot. If you can't do that, then it is time to get a new doctor. There are so many wonderful doctors out there, finding one who will give you the time of day is possible. Read articles and educate yourself beyond the confines of Mother Jones. Or read those articles and then read the actual studies the data is based on. Science isn't hard to read or understand. Draw your own conclusions, don't let an opinion piece or a news story be the only thing that forms your decision.

At two months pregnant, if I had heard a story like mine, if I had been told that this was a good story and that there are many out there with far worse endings, with more pain, loss, and suffering then maybe things would have been different for me. If I had realized that there was another side to the flu vaccine debate, an even uglier side than what I had been exposed to, then maybe my son would have opened his eyes for the first time and seen his mother. Those first 60 days of his life could have been filled with the love, joy, and happiness that they are supposed to be. If I had gotten the flu shot, maybe our first family photo would be beautiful. Maybe it would be hanging on our wall or in a photo album that we lovingly reminisce over. Instead, our first family photo brings me nothing but pain and memories of a time I'd rather forget. The first 60 days of our Son's life was the worst time in my life and it was all because I didn't get the flu shot.

Update: I just want to thank everyone who has taken the time to read this post and most especially thank those who are sharing it. This little blog was created to keep our family and friends back home up to date on our daily lives and even when writing this post, I never in my wildest dreams thought it would reach so many people. I want to address one thing to clarify a few comments. My blood was tested and the flu strain that I had was Influenza A subtype H1N1 which was covered by the 2010-2011 flu shot. I was 39 weeks pregnant at the end of January in 2011 when I became ill. After two days in the hospital, a worrisome x-ray, and a night of horrible coughing, the doctors decided to give me a c-section and then scope my lungs. Although I came to for a few hours afterward, they put me out completely for the c-section (on Jan. 29th) and the next day I remember was March 3rd. 
I am going to leave all comments up because I understand there are many skeptical people in the world today. I get it, I use to be one of them. I had planned a 100% natural childbirth, hired a doula, taken 12 weeks of Bradley classes and picked a hospital in another state just so I could have a midwife. I spent a lot of time and effort planning out the perfect birth only to have it become a nightmare I could have never even imagined. I still 100% support all those things, but instead of focusing on the music I wanted to be playing during birth, I wish I had really focused on my health and gotten the flu shot. 

It took me almost 5 years to write this post, because it meant going to some pretty dark places. In the time since this event occurred I've gone through many emotions.  There is no doubt that this was the most life changing event of my entire life, but I am not consumed it by on a daily basis. It shaped me, but in no way defines me. You can read about 95% of this blog and never even know these events occurred. I don't dwell on trying to go back in time, because this has shaped who I've become today and I am happy with that. However, if I can prevent from happening to just 1 person, it would all seem worth it. Anyone who is interested to read a little more about how this shaped my life or even my struggles can read these other posts.

Overcoming: Lessons I've learned over the past four years- HERE
Happiness that I wrote about six months later- HERE
Struggling with survivors guilt-HERE 

Lastly, for anyone who thinks I am making this up, there is not much I can do to convince you. However, this video was produced by Jewish Hospital in Louisville, KY after my release. I'm not here to prove anything to anyone, only help. Once again, thanks everyone for reading!


San Francisco: 1 Year Later

We've passed our 1 year mark as residents of the great state of California! When I was a teenager, I used to dream of living in California and now that dream is my reality and our home. This year has a been a dream, a blur, and a blessing. This was us, just over a year ago, on our first day here.

The amount of things we've done, seen, and experienced in the last year far surpasses any other year in our lives. It has been an amazing experience to open up this whole other world for Landon as well. There is no doubt in my mind that San Francisco is unlike any other city in this country. It is absolutely the most European city in the US and I'd venture to say it's also the most diverse. Not just in the people (who are as diverse as they come) but diverse in every possible way. From the landscapes to the cultures to the activities and to the food. It's crazy how such a small area can pack so much. Since moving here, we've really come to understand that everything we could ever want to do/try/explore/obtain is at our fingertips. Sometimes it can be overwhelming because there is always so much going on, but it is never underwhelming and that's what I love the most. I thought since we've hit our one year mark, I'd share some of my favorite things about this area and even throw in a few of our not so favorite.

One my favorite things about the city of San Francisco is the character. I've never been to a city in which the place itself holds so much character and charm. I was watching a show about real estate in San Francisco and they put it so well. They said, "San Francisco is a city that fosters ideas. It started off with the gold rush, people from all over the world moved here to start their fortune and they were all RISK TAKERS. I still feel that all that energy from all those people creating and innovating is still going on today, even stronger than ever." And they are right! San Francisco has an energy to it. It's a dreamer's city and a doer's city. People dream big and make those dreams a reality. Technology here is king and it's visible everywhere you go, but you don't have to be in the technology sector to feel the rush. The cultures of each neighborhood and area are so strong, but more importantly, are authentic. The entire city is just that, authentic. It doesn't feel like a big city or seem like a rushed cosmopolitan area. Everything just fits together. That fit may not include a pretty box with a bow, but it fits in it's own way, own style, and somehow just works.

 So many areas just beyond the city limits are beautiful, stunning, and surreal. There are not enough adjectives to explain it. It's also true that I really, really, really LOVE this area. It steals your heart in ways you never thought a city could. Every time I see the Golden Gate Bridge or crest a hill and get a glimpse of the bay, I can't help but feel a gush of pride in being able to call this place home. People have told me how lucky we are to be here. That is not the case. We are lucky to be alive and to have the ability to experience all the great things in life. But we've worked damn hard and sacrificed a lot to move our lives here. I feel pride in my husband, our accomplishments, and the decisions we've made that have brought us here. When I see that bridge or the beautiful ocean just down the road, the pride that rushes over me is inexplicable and enforces my belief in following your dreams.

As I said earlier, this area is almost overwhelming with things to do. I have so many lists of things to do and places to go and it is still impossible to keep up. I already have an entire list of things to do in 2016 with many of them being things we just had to turn down doing 2015. If it were not for those pesky jobs of ours, we might be able to do it all, but then of course we'd have a new issue. At work, people comment that we "do something every weekend". I think it is just hard for many of them that have lived here for so long to understand how many amazing opportunities they have at their finger tips. I guess one advantage for us is that we appreciate it so much more and cannot wait to experience it all. Every time we go someplace new, I feel like I've found a new favorite place. In reality, so many experiences have been so different and diverse that I cannot even compare them.  Of course, I can't deny that seeing Yosemite for the first time was a true highlight and I think it says something that we visited three times almost back to back.

There is so much potential for achieving/doing anything you want in this area. The sky (or yourself) is the only limit and it feels empowering. In the year that we've been out here, we've moved light years ahead in our careers and the end is where we decide we want it to be. Just a few years ago, we both felt an all too real ceiling in our career paths and I felt really trapped in my job. Time and changes have allowed me to see that some of it was myself, but a big piece is that a big city also has a lot more opportunities. Now, we have the ability to pick our opportunities and it feels wonderful! We've also been able to create new goals and dreams that have been shaped by the new world around us. We really want to become better hikers, start doing some real backpacking, and explore wilderness areas. Adam would like to hike the John Muir Trail next year with a friend and we are hoping to do our first family backpacking trip over Memorial Day next year. Landon's favorite activity in the world is camping and I hope these experiences at a young age can help foster a real love for the outdoors. I think the more he does as a young boy, the more he will achieve as a man. I feel like overall, this move and change in scenery has made us all better and want to achieve more in many areas of our life.

So beyond the things we love, there are a few (for lack of a better word) wonky things about this area. First, the weather.  The seasons are completely backwards here. Summer starts in the middle of August and goes to the beginning of November. Fall is November and December and is also pretty much the only time that it might rain. Spring is January through April with February being the greenest and most consistently enjoyable month. May brings the fog and wind and until August and it feels like winter. Meanwhile, during the month of August, if you drive 30 minutes in any direction (except West since you can't) you'll find that it's 20 degrees warmer or more. Now all that being said, the temperatures in "winter" are still in the low 60's with the worst case being low 50's, but with the fog it seems really cold. I remember when we first moved here and people were complaining how hot it felt when the temperatures were in the high 80's. I thought they were crazy, but about six months later I was having lunch outside and felt really warm. I looked at the temperature on my phone to shockingly find out it was only 72 degrees. It's amazing how quickly your body adjusts, but it is also amazing what a unique micro climate this area has. So often, Adam will come home saying how nice it was downtown while it was miserable at my office or vice versa. So many people think California is hot and many areas are, but not the Bay Area. However, as wonky as the weather can be, I absolutely love living near the ocean. We both agree that where ever we live, we can never imagine being far from the water and not much compares to the beauty of the Pacific coast.

Another wonky thing is the shopping here. San Francisco seems to hate chains so it's hard to find big businesses on the peninsula. For example, the closest Walmart is over 40 miles away. Especially in downtown, it is really hard to find any chain restaurants. It's actually not a bad thing, but it does take some getting used to. We have grocery stores of decent size, but otherwise most shopping is easier to do at a local level. The benefit is that it causes you to branch out and you can actually find so many amazing places you would never otherwise come across. One of the downsides is that sometimes you just have a hankering for something like Texas Roadhouse and it's a literal road trip to get there. Since every place is a Mom and Pop type store, you find all sorts of specialty shops, but it also costs a lot more. I've really enjoyed branching out and trying new foods, my current obsession is Vietnamese. No matter what type of food you want to try, it's available to try and just as authentic as you would find in that country. But I contend that "American" food sometimes seems impossible to find. I guess this is why I gained five pounds last month when we visited Kentucky and had tons of opportunities to eat all kinds of fattening American foods. As I've mentioned many times recently, I've fallen in love with the ferry building and their Saturday morning markets. It might cost a small fortune to buy all your produce there, but it is on a completely different level of goodness. After trying the peaches at the ferry building, straight from the farms, I can no longer stand the ones at the grocery store.

I doubt it will come as a surprise to anyone, but the major downfall of San Francisco is the cost. Prohibitive doesn't even begin to explain it. Rent is ridiculous, but it doesn't just stop there. So is food, activities, parking, entertainment ... everything! We went to movies last week and compared the ticket prices with those in Louisville and found that they were 30% more. For the movies!!! Parking downtown is usually around $3 for 30 minutes (in a non-expensive area). It adds up really fast. And yes, we make a lot more money than we did in Louisville, KY, but it isn't nearly enough to justify the increase of cost. In Kentucky our household expenses took up approximately 20% of our monthly salary and that was a house, which we owned, with a 15 year mortgage! In Nashville it was higher, and rent for a townhouse was almost 25%. Here, we are talking more like 35% for a two bedroom apartment. A house like we owned in Louisville would sell for about $850-$1.5 million or more depending on where exactly it was located on the peninsula and in Louisville we sold it for $125,000. Since we don't have a 20% down payment and Adam refuses to buy in this area, it's only a matter of time before we decide that the cost isn't worth it and move. For now, we are happy to pay to play, but unless something gives, and gives big time, there is no way this will be our forever home. Which also means, better visit while you can.

The second con is that it is hard being so far away from family and friends. In the year that we've been here, we've made some good friends, but it hasn't been nearly as easy as it was in Nashville. On top of that, it takes real planning and time off to visit Kentucky and have people come here to visit us. We've been so fortunate that in a year we've had tons of visitors, almost every month actually, and getting to spend lots of time one-on-one with them is actually a wonderful blessing. Even better, the constant flow isn't slowing down anytime soon. We already have people coming in November, December, and January but that doesn't mean we don't feel like we aren't missing out, especially on birthdays, holidays, and big events. It goes without saying, that it was our choice to move and it isn't really a con of San Francisco per se. The con is just that it has been hard to meet people, make friends, and form a home community here with others. I'm sure a lot of it is our fault too as we haven't really tried to get out and meet people, opting instead to do things together as a family on the weekends. In Nashville it was just so easy as we worked with great groups of people and instantly felt strong connections. I hoped we'd have the same luck here, but that just hasn't been the case. We've met some great people and we'll hopefully continue meeting more, but for now we just continue to feel a little lacking in that department. 

Lastly, the other major con is the ridiculous amount of people crammed into this area. Everywhere you go, there is a line and I really do mean everywhere. This is the problem when you live on a peninsula already built to capacity with more and more people flooding in everyday. The rental market alone is a good indicator of the masses. Apartments and homes will go on the market for sale and/or rent and be gone immediately (within hours). There is such a demand that homes often sell over asking price and for all cash! It's hard to explain if you've never lived here, but it really is a phenomenon. Since we live on the peninsula, it means always having to wait in lines wherever we go. For people from larger cities around the world, they don't seem to care, but it is something we just can't seem to get use to. Adam actually complained about it so much that I got on him about it. Now he loves to make a joke about how much he loves all the people and loves all the waiting whenever he is really frustrated. He still gets his point across. Gas lines are one good example. To go to Costco where gas is the cheapest, you have to be prepared to wait at least 20 minutes to get to the pump. The gas station down the street from our house, usually only means waiting for one, maybe two cars, but still it is a wait, every single time, for even the most mundane task. Another great example is the drive-thru at In and Out burger. No matter what time of day, the line is wrapped down the street with at least 20 cars ahead of you. If you are lucky, only a 15 minute wait will get you thru, but I've waited as long as 35 minutes in a drive thru and its not because they are slow. Even the checkout line at the grocery store or Target is usually at least a 10 minute wait. Forget ever pulling up directly to a pump or going to check out immediately at a store.

Despite the good and the bad, I am so overwhelmed with all that we've been able to do, to see, to experience, and to accomplish in the year that we've been here. Even if we move tomorrow, I will never forget what a wonderful experience San Francisco has been for us all. Rudyard Kipling said,    "San Francisco has only one drawback, 'tis hard to leave." We may not have loved every second of this first year, but it has been darn close. Wherever we move to next will have some pretty big boots to fill, but for the next year (maybe two) we will continue to soak up everything we can here in San Francisco. It is a city that has stolen our hearts, lifted our souls, expanded our minds, and made us want to do better and be more. How could ask for anything else?


Month in Review- September

September was an AMAZING month and we couldn't have started out any better than going back to Kentucky to visit our family and friends. During our short visit, we managed to pack in a lot and enjoyed every second we had with people we love. We also managed to get a lot of well needed pool time, eat way too much yummy food, and make a visit to our favorite winery. I wouldn't even know what pictures to share, so instead I made this video which seems to have captured the entire trip in a nutshell.

It was extremely hard to get back on the plane and come home, but once we were home we didn't have a second to be sad. We got home, put some fresh sheets on Landon's bed, and then welcomed some first time visitors and our friends from Nashville. They bought Landon a Bayern-Munich soccer uniform which he immediately put on and has worn constantly since. Not only that, but they have an adorable little boy who we all had a blast with. He just loved Landon and Landon loved him. It was so much fun sharing a little bit of this city with them and getting to hang out. We hope they loved it enough to come back soon!

The day they left, it was finally time to wind down from our trip and their visit. Landon had received some money in Kentucky from family so we took him to Target to pick out something for himself and then decided to go for a drive. We ended up at a winery (no surprise) in Half Moon Bay and while I did a wine tasting, the boys built a submarine. When we were finished there we continued down the road and ended up at PF Changs for some dinner. Spur of the moment drives can be fun!

All the eating from our trip to Kentucky seemed to follow us home, so the next morning after church we decided it was time to get out and do some hiking. One our favorite nearby areas is Mt. Tamalpais, with many different trails we decided to go over and hike the very top, an area we hadn't been before.

The views from Mt. Tam are spectacular and the short, but uphill hike to the top was rewarded with great views down into the bay. This is also great place to watch the fog rolling in and this day it was really moving.

It felt so good to get out after two weeks of being inactive and eating way too much. This is the time of year where the year in the area really heats up and usually the fog fades to make way for beautiful sunny days best to be enjoyed outside.

 The following weekend, I took Landon with me downtown to visit the Ferry Building. I wasn't sure how he would do, but he absolutely loved it. We started out with some delicious Lemon and Chocolate Italian donuts for breakfast and sat on the water's edge while enjoying our sweets.

Afterwards, we walked around the market. Landon's favorite thing was a huge lifesize coloring page at the local bookstore. He had so much fun coloring it that we actually went back twice. We also visited the playground just down the street. When we first moved to the area and had corporate housing downtown, we played at this playground a lot. He loves it and, with tons of kids constantly coming in, we spent a good bit of time there.

Once he was hungry, we headed back to the ferry building to get some lunch. With so many different places to pick from we started out in line for Mexican and then changed our minds. He picked mac and cheese from the Cowgirl Creamery and I got some fish and chips from a San Francisco Fish Company. We ended up sharing and all of it was amazing. I'm pretty sure, no matter what you get there, you can't go wrong. Landon ended our excursion with some ice cream, but by then I had to call it quits. After a long morning and afternoon of eating and playing one of us had to go back home and have a nap and it wasn't the little one.


That night, we found some cheap last minute tickets to the San Francisco Giants game. We hadn't been to a game yet, but it was on our list so we bought the tickets and the next morning headed out to a 1 pm game. We took BART and on the way to the stadium passed Adam's office. His office is on the 9th floor right in the center of the financial district.

We made it to the stadium just before the start of the game. It was a beautiful day.

The only problem,? There wasn't a cloud in the sky, our seats were uncovered, and it was 90 degrees. For all of those reasons, it wasn't very enjoyable and no one could really concentrate on the game. After just two innings, we left. I was super disappointed and annoyed to have wasted the money. I didn't see this picture until later, guess it just isn't the case for some of us. 

Since the season is over now, we decided that next year we will try for a night game. I think it will be a lot more enjoyable for all of us. To make it all better, we went to California Pizza Kitchen and I had a glass of my favorite wine. The day didn't turn out so badly after all.

The last weekend of the month was well spent. Saturday, we headed up to Napa and knew we were getting close when we passed these on the road.

As I talked about HERE we visited Grigch Hill Estates and Sterling Vineyards. I was worried about taking Landon along, but we ended up all having a great time. Proof you don't have to drink to enjoy Napa.

Sunday, we finally managed to make it to the Point Bonita Lighthouse for a full moon tour. We were especially excited because it also happened to be the blood moon. We arrived at the starting point for the hike down to the lighthouse where our high hopes were quickly downsized. Despite it being nice and sunny at our place, Marin was pretty foggy and we were not sure it would clear up quickly enough. Still,  we had come this far so we weren't turning back. We ended up really enjoying learning all about the lighthouse and its history. Despite having been to the lighthouse before, this was the first time we took a tour and even the Munchkin enjoyed talking to the tour guides.

By the time the sun was suppose to set, it was obvious that we wouldn't see a moonrise. Instead, we just walked around the lighthouse and enjoyed what sunset we had through the clouds. Regardless of the day, this place is always beautiful.

Since it was a dud of a sunset/moonrise we just kept it on our list to try and do again another time. None the less, it was still really fun and a great little family excursion.

To finish off the weekend, Landon and I went home and made a no bake cheesecake. I'm pretty sure Landon could have done this completely on his own, it is that easy. I really enjoyed making this quick dessert with him as it was something my Grandmother use to always make. Despite being an amazing cook, I always loved her no bake cheesecakes and now Landon knows their goodness and loves them too.

September was a great month full of family and friends and lots of good food! It's hard to believe October is already here, but I cannot wait for all the fun events and activities that the holidays bring. Another month in the history books and so many more wonderful memories made. Life is good!