Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Railroad Museum

I kept hearing about this great Railroad Museum in Old Sacramento but had never gone. We visited the railroad when we went on the Polar Express train and I'd seen the museum plenty of times, but it never really got me excited to go inside. Well, Michael recently redeemed his Father's Day gift to go golfing with a friend on one Sunday morning, so I was on my own with the kids.

I was immediately impressed when we walked in and saw a giant steam engine (locomotive) in a huge room. Then my mouth fell open when I rounded a corner and saw at least 7 other engines and several full train cars in the enormous space. Bennett was so excited and just kept whispering, "Choo choo. Choo choo."

Here's me and the kids in front of one locomotive that had wheels as tall as me!

In order to fit the museum in before afternoon naps, we went to the museum when it opened. This turned out to be great because it was quiet and we had plenty of time and space to see everything. As we walked around, several staff said that we picked the right time to come because in an hour or so it was going to be hard to fit in the cars due to the crowd.

We went in one US Mail train car, one dining car and one sleeper car. The sleeper car was cool because the lights were low and it was on some kind of mechanism that caused the car to rock slightly as if it were really moving.

At the suggestion of several staff members, I saved the second floor for last because the kids would want to stay there. There were several cool model trains set up, but the real star of the show was all of the toy trains. The kids both ran around playing with Thomas and his friends.

They really loved it - and I did too! I'm hoping to go back with Michael (or even out-of-town guests) to check it all out again.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

San Francisco: The Billy Joel Concert

On September 5th we finally made due on a birthday gift that Michael got for me back in 2014! Michael gave me a Billy Joel CD and the plan to take me to a Billy Joel concert, which has always been a dream of mine. At the time, he had grand plans to take me on an overnight trip to New York or Los Angeles or something. I sat there with wide eyes since Bennett had just been born and that seemed as likely and as doable as a trip to the moon, to be honest. 

Life happened and the concert never made a life-appearance that year, but Michael did make arrangements for us to finally see Billy in San Francisco just a couple of weeks ago! This worked out well because it gave me a lot of time to listen to my awesome Best-Of CD and now June has her own list of favorites. I will never stop being amused at the ones she asks for. ("Only the Good Die Young" (don't judge me), "She's Got a Way," "Piano Man" (of course), "New York State of Mind" (bizarre!) and "Uptown Girl.")

Anyway, so we asked my mother "in-love" if she might consider scheduling a visit around that weekend and she kindly obliged. Fred ended up coming also, so it was a great visit! And we were so grateful because this meant that we could stay the night in San Francisco instead of attempting to drive back to Sacramento afterwards (as we might have done if we just had a babysitter for the night).

It was so weird to be in San Francisco without kids! We hardly knew what to do with ourselves. We ate baked oysters and oyster po'boys down by the water, then headed to the Golden Gate Park and went to the Japanese Tea Garden. 


After grabbing some coffee, we headed back to our hotel to get ready for the night. 

We ate at a cool Indian food restaurant (if I could put one of those heart-eyed emojis here, I would) and then walked down to AT&T Park for the show!

We walked around for a little, checking out the view of the bay and the folks on boats who showed up to listen. Michael stood in line for drinks and I stood in line for ice cream and we made it down to our seats on the infield just in time to chill for a few moments before Billy Joel came out!

This was the stadium lit up with peoples' flashlights on their phones... pretty, isn't it? So funny that it used to be lighters and now it's evolved to this...

The show was so great. We stood up, we danced, we watched awkwardly as the big guy we thought of as the friendliest older gent ever almost got into a fight with the guy in front of him. I might have been the only one in the stadium who got SO AMPED when Billy announced that he was about to play "Downeaster 'Alexa'," which is my jam. I think I physically shook Michael's person while hissing "YASS YAAAASSSS."

Something about Billy just really reminded me of my Dad. Maybe it was these cool video shots of his big hands playing the keys, maybe it was some of his dry jokes or this sort of endearing relaxed, what-you-see-is-what-you-get attitude he had about him. But it made it especially enjoyable for me.

And I really had a moment when he started playing "Piano Man." Obviously.

Michael and I were so wild-n-crazy that we stayed up and had another drink after the concert!

Unfortunately the weekend ended on a low note - our car was broken into. When we got back to our car in the garage, the window had been bashed in and there were pieces of glass everywhere. It was so jarring and disheartening. We had taken everything of use out of the car, but apparently they took a case of Michael's old CDs and his backup pair of glasses he kept in his glove compartment. Which, a few things:

1. There's still a demand for black market CDs out there?! Why would someone still steal CDs?
2. It's just sort of sad because some of the mix CDs we made each other while we were dating were in there. Like I told Michael, our love isn't in things, but it is still sort of sad. And I hate picturing some jerks looking through his CDs and just tossing them in the trash.
3. What Michael said about the glasses: "Well the joke's on them because I was due for a new pair of glasses, anyway!" I love him.

Driving home on the freeway with all of the windows down wasn't quite the way we had planned, but we make plans and God laughs, I guess.

Truly, though, the weekend was really wonderful and I was so happy to have an overnight trip away to connect and have fun and finally fulfill that birthday promise!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Dad & New York

A couple of weeks ago, I took a day off work and hopped on a red eye flight to New York City to visit my mom and dad. 

I haven't blogged about this before and I'm not sure how to go about it now. Without going into too much detail, my dad was diagnosed with cancer almost two years ago. He's gone through a lot, with tests and treatments, hearing that one thing worked and then learning that a new form of cancer was found.

So recently, my dad got admitted to the hospital in New York for an extended period of time because his immune system was low and he needed to stay in his room to avoid getting sick. Because he was there for so long, I decided to visit him to spend some quality time and to help break up the monotony of hospital room life. (JP also visited, but it was a different weekend.)

My mom normally stays in the room with dad (including sleeping on that folding chair device - she's a saint) but for this trip, we stayed overnight at an apartment owned by one of dad's colleagues. 

We spent a majority of the time with Dad, mostly sitting around talking, bringing in food from the outside world and just relaxing. Mom and I would leave for a bit in the afternoons to give Dad a time to rest, which meant that I got to see some of the city.

I took Uber cars for the first time in my life (SO nice - and simpler than taxis, I think) but we also tried taking the subway one morning. It was NOT a success story, so we reverted back to Ubers after that!

One of the afternoon walks took us to Central Park, where we had lunch at the boat house.

On my final night there, Dad said he wanted barbecue ribs so that was what we had! It was a great meal and I so enjoyed just sitting around with Mom and Dad, eating and catching up.

Eventually it was time for me to catch a cab back to the airport and leave my Mom and Dad behind to go home and see my babies and husband. I was sorry to leave them. It had been a long time since I had been so free to spend so much relaxing time together (without little kids to worry about!). 

I am glad to report, though, that Dad's white blood cell count went back up and he got discharged from the hospital after spending a whopping 37 days there. They were so glad to be back to their normal place and get back to their normal routine back home.