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When IS Lost Sleep Worth It and How Do You Manage It?

In my last post, I talked about our experience with our kids needing a lot of sleep and how it's generally not worth it to push that. But sometimes it is! This will obviously vary a LOT from family to family, but here are some times it is worth it for us:

  • Unique and Special Experiences: We attended a Passover Seder a few days ago and knew it would end late. Still, it was our kids' first Seder, and especially since it fell during the Christian Holy Week, it was an experience we wanted them (and us) to have. We also take them to a performance of the Nutcracker each Christmas season, and have attended baseball games, family parties, and school events. We want to live life and enjoy it! If we can, we'll try to suggest earlier times with family/friends. If the timing is non-negotiable, we go and explore and have fun. I figure as long as those events are more the exception rather than the rule, we're good.
  • While traveling: It would be impossible for bedtimes to stay completely on track while traveling. I find that having that expectation helps manage my own anxiety about getting them to sleep. Additionally, I find that my kids actually do a lot better with missed sleep while traveling than at home. There's something about the excitement of new places and lots of attention and family time that helps them relax and manage their behavior better, as well. (And since I'm a bit more lax than normal, we can use bribery to our advantage; see below.)

Here are some things we do to help things go more smoothly when we know it's going to be a late night:
  • Late Naps: This is probably obvious, but if we can, I'll try to push naps a bit later so the kids aren't quite as tired late at night.
  • DO Naps: Nat generally stopped napping about a year ago, around 5.5 (although he continued taking a catch-up nap about once a week for several months after that). Still, even now, if I can wear him out well in the morning, and I have a really good bribe, I can usually eek out a nap if needed. For the aforementioned Seder, I told him how excited we all were to go, but that it would end well past normal bedtime. He had had a busy morning, so it worked well and he was able to nap for a little over an hour, which made all the difference that night.
  • Gear the Kids Up: When we know it's a late and special experience, we try to talk to our kids about it beforehand. We tell them the importance of it and help them get excited, and lay out what kind of behavior we expect. We tell them that if they want to be able to have special experiences like that, then they need to show us their very best behavior so we can trust them to stay up late for special events in the future. It's not perfect, of course, but it helps a LOT when they are aware of the expectations and ramifications.
  • Bribery: Obviously, bribery isn't the very best parenting tip in all the land. Still, I'm a firm believer that it has its place. I tend to be pretty strict when we're at home about food (we don't generally do processed snacks), violin practice, small chores (unloading the dishwasher), etc. So when we're on vacation and those things are a bit more lax, we all tend to relax.
  • Along with that, having low "fun mom" standards at home helps - My kids are always pretty dang thrilled with a baggie of goldfish on vacation, to have some sort of fun markers or crafty thing, or to have some screen time.
  • New Books: My kids are all big bookworms, so having a book about a new place or event is always a big hit. We have several books about National Parks/nature/the United States, so they loved reading those in the car while we were road tripping across the US or through the Southwest. We also read a book about Passover that included different Seder rituals before arriving, and then took it in with us, as well. It was nice that they had some understanding of what to expect, what was happening, and then something to read while there if needed. (The congregation also provided a coloring page with the different parts of the Seder plate, which was wonderful.)

Those are some exceptions we make and things we do to help. How about you?

When Is Staying Up Late NOT Worth It?

90% of the time, I'm a stickler for bedtimes. My kids have always needed more sleep than the average child-bear, and it doesn't usually bode well for anyone if we push them too late.

Just last weekend, we were watching Moana for the first time. I was as into it as the kids were, so we let them stay up a little later. The boys (6.5 & 2.5) usually go to bed at 7, and Kina (4.5) goes to bed between 7:30-8 (she's my longest napper by far, and often naps until 5 or 5:30). Earlier that day, we'd attended a Holi celebration, and it took a while after to get everyone bathed and de-colored and ready for naps. So the younger ones ended up sleeping until 6pm that day. So we figured, hey, they napped late, so we'll be fine. We put toone to bed at 7:30, and let the older kids stay up until 8:30 to finish the movie. So the younger ones each went to bed about half an hour later than usual.

The next day, they were a disaster. They were whiny and crabby and so much squirrelier than usual at church. For our kids, if they're over tired, they don't eat well, which just exacerbates the situation. All for half an hour late!

I should note that Nat actually was able to hold it together. But at 6.5, it's just been within the last 6 months that he's able to do that - able to recognize that he's tired and it's making him grumpier than usual. That's not to say he wasn't still irritable, because he was. But if he lashed out or yelled or something, he was able to reign himself in after and hold it together, while the younger ones just weren't able to control their emotions.

So. My kids need a lot of sleep, and it's generally not worth it to skip naps or push bedtime. But sometimes it is. :)

Asian Art Museum & Main library

We were all surprised by just how much we loved the Asian Art Museum. While my family is Indian, I tend to prefer science-y and hands-on museums in addition to those with Western religious art. Still, we all found this museum fascinating and well laid-out.

They had a fun little kids booklet you could pick up that was sort of a low-key scavenger hunt. There were various prompts and the kids had to find pieces that fit those descriptions. It was perfect for helping them use their eyes to observe and learn.

There were also lots of great descriptions. We enjoyed learning about the history of a number of pieces. The kids especially loved the armor, and we loved a special exhibit with weaponry filled with jewels. The Japanese section was just beautiful, and we loved seeing the various shades of green in the jade. Finally, we really enjoyed learning a bit more about some Eastern religious, including Buddhism and Hinduism. We saw a Buddha riding on a chariot, and the kids enjoyed seeing various Hindu deities and later discussing them with my parents.

After the museum, we stopped in at the main library. The children's section had a big fun display with lots of peek-a-boos and little activities, which were perfect for the kids after engaging in "museum behavior" for a couple of hours. After that, we walked around Union Square for a few minutes and tried to ride the cable car back to near our apartment. Unfortunately, a car was malfunctioning, so we ended up just walking the couple miles back home instead, and then the kids crashed for some nice, long naps.

Seward Street Slides

We were excited to check out some long concrete slides in a tiny park not far from Twin Peaks. Sadly, we didn't check the hours beforehand...because it never occurred to me that they would have hours. Rookie mistake - city parks often do. In any case, the park was open, but the slides just had bars in several places so no one could slide down. We (perhaps illegally?...) let the kids slide down the bottom part, hustled back in the car because it was freezing, and called it a day.

Also, if I'm being perfectly honest, the slides were very cool, but probably not worth driving pretty far. Koret Park has similar ones, and there's lots of other stuff at that playground, as well, while Seward Street basically just has the slides.

Moral of the story - check the hours!

Golden Gate Park: Academy of Sciences, Botanical Garden, Twirl & Dip, plus the Mission

Since well before we moved to California, I'd been looking forward to visiting the Academy of Sciences. It's a fantastic natural history museum that goes pretty in depth in a few exhibits.

What I liked about it: it took a few exhibits and really went all out. I'm especially thinking of the three-story rainforest exhibit. It really is just spectacular and there's no way to catch it on camera. You start at the bottom and work your way up through different sections of rainforest modeled after different locations around the world. Butterflies are free to fly around; my favorites are the ones with the electric blue backs.

The kids loved exploring the reptiles and amphibians in tanks throughout, and we all loved gazing down at the pond far below. There were good explanations of falling trees and how the nutrients are put back into other growing plants, and of various animals and insects.

Mostly, it was just BEAUTIFUL to see.

We also loved the earthquake exhibit, and the hands-on activities there to teach earthquake safety, retrofitting, and history. There's even an earthquake simulator!

The aquarium is also quite nice. Not quite Monterey, but there's a good diversity of sea life as well as a touch pool, which is always fun. There's one room with low windows to see different creatures, so toone especially loved that. The crown jewel is the glass archway where you can view several of the larger animals - super fun.

After leaving the Academy of Sciences (where we'd eaten lunch in the courtyard), we were ready for a treat, so we decided to share some Twirl & Dip ice cream. I'm not generally a huge soft serve fan, but this was super tasty coated with chocolate and a sprinkle of sea salt. The kids were all covered in goo after but that's why we have baby wipes.

Finally, we stopped into the Botanical Garden, which was more vast than I anticipated. We walked around a bit and enjoyed the pond, but didn't spend too long since rain was threatening. Our favorite spot, though, was the California native plants section, especially the redwood grove. Beautiful and peaceful and felt like we were really out in a redwood forest.

After all our activities, we had zero desire to go home and cook dinner, so we popped over to the Mission to try out La Taqueria. Lived up to hype. Delish tacos (even as vegetarians!). The tortillas were soft but structured and flavorful, the beans were perfect, and guac is always a must. Mmm.

Cable Car Museum

We loved checking out the (free!) Cable Car Museum a few days after our arrival in SF. It was a great introduction to what is, in my opinion (and certainly that of my children), the most fun form of public transportation in the city. Throughout our time there, and still when we drive back up, the kids were obsessed with seeing the cable cars and waving to the folks on board.

I loved that the museum gave some background on how and why the cable cars started (horses were having trouble going up the super steep SF hills), how they were almost eliminated (due to newer forms of public transport, such as buses), and how they were saved (by a women's group that petitioned to keep them as a historical relic of San Francisco).

We also really enjoyed learning how the cable cars actually work. Whenever we rode one after that, both of the older kids loved talking about the gripper and how it would pull the cable car along the cable beneath the street surface, and enjoyed watching the conductor start and stop the car and remembering how that happened. They also loved to play "cable car" whenever we walked through the city after that - this involved them walking along the sidewalk cracks and grabbing onto their "grippers" to start and stop and go faster/slower. Fun times!

Plus, what kid is going to complain about seeing lots of fun underground cables (the hub for all the lines in the city) and old cable cars? Not mine, that's for sure.

Bookstores in SF

We stopped into several bookstores during our time in SF.  We lived just a couple of blocks from the infamous City Lights bookstore. City Lights wasn't the most kid-friendly bookstore in the world (a fairly small children's section, and, at the time we visited, employees and patrons who didn't seem overly thrilled to have kids there), but we did pick up a cute book about San Francisco.

Alexander Book Company, on the other hand, had a fantastic children's section - tons of books, some fun new releases, and an excellent and helpful employee working there.  We picked up several books there, although only one was SF-themed (incidentally, we also have the NYC one like this; both are gorgeous).

The last bookstore we visited was the Book Bay Bookstore, which is a used bookstore in Fort Mason that is run by the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library. It was so fun to browse here and find some old gems. We picked up a couple of picture books, along with a couple books of violin music, and a full Handel's Messiah score. The kids loved looking through all the books and reading inside a cute little play house they had there.

Fisherman's Wharf, Pier 39 & Ghiradelli Square

Might as well get the touristy things done first, right?  This day, we walked by Liguria Bakery to pick up some fresh focaccia, down to Pier 39, by Fisherman's Wharf, and ended up at Ghiradelli Square. From there, it was late and we were pushing bedtime, so we hopped on a quick bus ride home.

Liguria: they sell out fairly early in the day, so don't plan to go pick some up in the evening. We got the olive and the mushroom. Both were delicious, but we had a slight preference for the mushroom. Well worth the hype as the best focaccia in the city.

Pier 39 is one of the most touristy things in the city, of course, but the kids loved seeing the sea lions all the same. It was a gorgeous day out, so we perched on the benches there, ate our focaccia, and watched the sea lions play and bark.

From there, we walked down toward Fisherman's Wharf and stopped in at the San Francisco Chocolate Store. I let each of the kids pick out a tiny treat, and grabbed an ice cream to share. It was good...but not mind blowing. Still, I'm glad we picked up a chocolate here instead of waiting in the insane line at Ghiradelli.

We then passed by Boudin Bakery and had to stop in to get some sourdough. We got one long baguette and one shaped like a sea turtle, which was darling, of course. More on Boudin to come when I write up our tour of the factory there.

We passed by Fisherman's Wharf and hopped on one of the old streetcars for a couple of stops on our way up to Ghiradelli. We sat by the fountain and wandered for a bit, and then caught the bus home. Near the end of our stay in San Francisco, we returned to Ghiradelli with Dan, and all got a sundae. I...didn't love it. I know - the horror! I don't prefer super sweet desserts, and this definitely was. Even Dan agreed, and he doesn't usually turn his nose up at any sweets. That day, we got the brownie sundae (brownie was clearly from their box mix, the ice cream wasn't anything special, and the whipped cream was from a can) and the chocolate milk (the most syrup-y tasting chocolate milk I've ever had. blech.). Fun for the experience, but I wouldn't return.

Why yes, those are really excellent and touristy yellow socks purchased from Walgreens. K was a getting a blister so emergency help was in order.

Joe DiMaggio Playground and North Beach Library

Our first day in the city, some friends texted to say that they were checking it out the Joe DiMaggio Playground and would we like to join? So I looked it up and when I realized it was only about half a mile away, we decided to head over. The playground was just renovated last November, so it's super new and nice. It has an awesome rope climbing structure thing, a fun castle-looking tower, and a fun double swing/seesaw kinda thing. It also has a beautiful view of the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral. It was just what we needed after a couple weeks in the car.

The library is also only a couple of years old, so very clean and modern. To be honest, we didn't use it much for books (we had a little stash of books we'd traveled with in the car, and accumulated probably 15 more San Francisco-themed books over the course of our time there), but we signed up our very first day so that we could make use of the very excellent Discover & Go program - and boy, did we make use of that.

This program provides free passes to a bunch of attractions both in the city and the surrounding area, including really popular (and expensive!) ones like the Exploratorium, the Academy of Sciences, the Japanese Tea Garden, etc. It was awesome. Most of the passes cover an entire family, so it was perfect for us. I'll be sure to note when an attraction is covered by Discover & Go as I do the write ups.

Running down the hill from our apartment

Two Months in San Francisco

As part of our move to San Francisco, Dan's company very kindly provided a few months of temporary housing. We decided to spend some of that time in San Francisco. I had only visited SF once before that, when I was in high school.  We went in July and it was FREEZING! So I was worried the whole time would be foggy and cold and hilly and exhausting and just overall kind of annoying. But I was excited for the opportunity to explore while living really close (we knew there was no way we'd live in the city permanently since it's about a 2 hour commute each way during rush hour for Dan).

Turns out, we lucked into an absolutely gorgeous spring and discoveries of a zillion things to do and I became full-on obsessed with San Francisco. Since I did so much research on stuff to do, I figured I'd share it here. As I was looking, there wasn't one great place that had an extensive list of everything from fun tourist stuff to hidden gems, so this is my attempt at amalgamating some of that information. Hope it helps someone out there!

It's Been A While

It's been a long while, actually.  It's been over two years since I blogged and it feels rather strange.

I didn't stop intending to do so for so long.  I did start finding that it was taking more time than I wanted it to, more time than I wanted to give.  I had found a groove of clothes that I liked and that felt like me, and I no longer felt the need or desire to document it.  I was pregnant and then taking care of three kids and low-key homeschooling and moving (twice...three times if you count the latest to a different temporary apartment).

But much as I'd like to attribute my blogging pause to life just getting busy, that wasn't really all of it.  I've been lucky to have really easy pregnancies physically.  I just need to eat regularly and then I don't get sick.  I've never had heartburn and I sleep so soundly that I rarely even wake up to go to the bathroom.

But my pregnancy with Toone was hard emotionally.  Why is that so hard to talk about?  I don't know what it was, but I just felt so...not me.  I don't know if it was having two other little kids at home or the stress of knowing we'd have to sell our condo and find a house or something else entirely, but whatever it was, it just felt like too much.  And that's embarrassing!  There are lots of people who have 4 kids!  Or 6 kids!  And work!  And cook from-scratch meals and take their kids to the library twice a week and volunteer!

Well.  It's so easy to compare, isn't it?  I felt like I should be handling things better.  I felt like blogging just wasn't that big of a deal or adding much to my plate.  But even a little time uploading pictures or whatever else was enough.

Nat climbed into Kina's crib and woke her up in the middle of the night one night.  Annoying but not really that big of a deal, right?  I was so angry.  We'd told him multiple times before that he was not allowed to climb in there, especially when she was asleep.  Dan quickly picked her up and moved her into a pack and play in our room while I got nat back in bed.

He was a mess.  He was so tired and thrashing and I had to very physically get him in his bed.  He was pulling away and then as I was pushing him back in his bed, he knocked his head against the railing of his toddler bed.  The not-real-wood, flimsy railing.  He started crying and I held him and rubbed his head.  It was only then that I felt blood.  It was gushing out the back of his head.  He must've hit it at just the right angle to get a big gash.  I screamed for dan and pressed a towel on the wound and Dan rushed him to the emergency room while I stayed home sobbing with our again-sleeping baby.

He was fine.  He didn't even cry on the way to the hospital and they put in 3 staples and we gave him some Tylenol.

But it felt like all my fault.  Of course it did!  I still don't know if it was.  I still can't think through everything that happened clearly enough to know whether I could have done something differently.  Of course I could have done something differently.  I could've been calmer and not angry and maybe that would've changed things, or maybe not.  But I did know that I had to divest responsibilities after that.  I had to focus on loving my kids and being calm for them so I could teach them to do the same.

So.  No blog!  Is that rational?  Probably not.  But I wasn't feeling very rational.  Just overwhelmed. It didn't really make any sense to connect the blog to my mistake of patience and love.  But I was still figuring out what/how to change what I needed to change and this seemed as good a thing to cut as any. After toone was born, it still took a long while to feel like I had things together again.  Moving again (across the country this time) (and planning for it for a year) probably didn't help.

I still have no interest in returning to the way I was blogging.  But the last few months, I've been feeling like I want to resurrect the old-school version of my blog. Way back when it was just danandpreethi.blogspot.com.  Back when it was just recording our family adventures so I could print it off in a book at some point in the future and keep relatives updated on our lives.  I'm not really sure why.  Probably because it's just fun for me to go back and see what we did in something longer than an instagram post.  Maybe because we've done a lot of exploring over the last few years (both domestically and internationally) and I want to house that information somewhere, both for my future self and for the two people who may want to reference that info.  Also because we live far from all the grandparents now and they like that sort of thing.  And because I'm terrible at instagram brevity.

Is that completely boring?  Of course it's completely boring.  Nobody in the right minds except for grandparents should have any interest in that.

From henceforth, explorewhereyoustand.com.

I can't wait.