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Summer 2023 by the Bay

It’s been very summer over here with the boys.

Living in northern California means that most of the year is pretty great for outdoor adventures, but we still technically have seasons, and with summer break it does seem like there are a lot more events this time of year. Plus, it is a bit more pleasant to be outside most days.

So first up on our reel of fun, there was a summer fair at the library recently! It was on some random Thursday morning, and I happened upon it while looking for weekend plans. As fate would have it, I had very early calls that Thursday, which gave me some leeway with my schedule and I was able to accompany our au pair on a walk over the library. It was a small affair in the library parking lot, but more than enough for us!

One afternoon after work, I also decided to indulge in the interest in kites the kids have developed. I’m certain it comes from watching cartoons that have characters flying kites, so I wasn’t sure how it would pan out in reality for a two year old and a four year old. So I did a quick search of a local place that sold inexpensive, no fuss kites, and whisked the boys out to pick them up at our local hardware store. As for actually flying them, it turned out better than I expected. We had to go to a park, since our back yard is small and our front yard has too many power lines, but it actually went quite well once we were out in the wide open spaces of our local park. It wasn’t very windy, so we only got the kite up briefly a few times, so the boys swiftly lost interest, but it was fun while it lasted and we got to spend a little time at the playground.

As for weekends, plenty of our weekends are filled with adventure but for the most part we’ve stuck to our usual routine, which includes the local farmers’ market, our usual restaurants for lunches, and a garage sale or two. I had been focusing on garage sales that I could walk to with the boys, but I recently convinced MJ to start coming along with us, after deciding to drive to a handful myself after all. I’m 100% the flea market/garage sale person of this family, and I wouldn’t say he’s completely shifted to my way of thinking, but a few deals here and there have softened him to the idea of second-hand purchases.

In early June, MJ was in Seattle for a work trip, and during his absence I brought the kids to the Oakland Zoo. That meant he hadn’t gone with them to the Oakland Zoo in quite some time! We decided to rectify that with a visit over the 4th of July weekend. As members, we can get in at 9AM (an hour before general admission) and since it was quite a warm day, getting in early was a wise move. I had only intended on staying for 90 minutes or so, but I don’t think I’ve ever managed such a short zoo visit in my life. The visit quickly turned into multiple hours and we even ended up having lunch there.

It quickly became apparent that the boys enjoy the zoo very differently though. Little Aaron is totally enamored with the desire to “see animals!” while Adam takes a much more map-focused, analytical approach to zoo visits and keeps us moving at a swift pace. It’s nice that they each seem to get a lot of out if, I see more Oakland Zoo trips in our near future, we only live 20 minutes away.

On the actual 4th of July we didn’t really have plans. Indeed, pre-pandemic we tended to spend the 4th of July where it all began, Philadelphia! The stars just didn’t align this time around and there were too many blockers to planning a summer trip this year. We made the most of it by taking the opportunity to use our day off from work and school to enjoy another family day by driving out to the nearby city of Dublin to enjoy a morning at the park and then lunch at a local brewery we go to from time to time. The park was a huge hit, it has a large playground AND wide open fields, and everyone enjoyed all of it (though, as usual, Aaron preferred the playground and Adam preferred the gardens and fields).

The day after the 4th of July I took the train to the city to meet up with my friend Mark, who I hadn’t seen since before the pandemic. I’m slowly reconnecting with people in-person post-pandemic, but with two small children at home I can’t fully put blame on the pandemic for my loss of social connection. Fortunately for me, the friendships I’ve cultivated are the sort where you can go a year or more without seeing someone and then pick up where you left off, with a bit of social media filling the void in the meantime.

I joked before meeting up that my move to the east bay effectively made me a tourist to San Francisco, and I totally latched onto that by visiting Ferry Building before meeting up for a ride on the California Street cable car, stopping by the Cable Car Museum, having a pizza lunch in North Beach, and then checking out the new Central Subway, starting at the station I hadn’t seen yet in Chinatown. It was great to catch up, and on my way back to the suburbs I took a vintage street car, putting me at 4 different types of public transit for the day!

On my way out of the city I also dropped by the Market Street Railway Museum to pick out a t-shirt for me and a toy streetcar for the boys, which just happened to be the same one I saw outside the museum just moments before, and snapped a photo of.

Getting out of the house with a friend to visit some of my favorite places, activities, and foods, was exactly what I needed. It doesn’t cure the exhaustion or feelings of overwhelm I have as a working mother of two young children, but it helped me feel like my old self again, which was a welcome change for a few hours.