Observations from San Diego

Here are a few more observations from the first couple of days of our trip to San Diego. First, and perhaps most importantly, in spite of being “challenging” at times, Caragh and I have tried to work together for the most part. It does not always work so well but we do try. Funny, one of the thigs that makes me be kinder in moments of stress is to see other couples cracking under the pressure of stress.

Another funny thing, when we on the bus from the airport to the car rental place a group of SFU swim team folks got on the bus with us. I spotted the coach and started chatting with him about swimming and endurance. Out of the blue, I say. “Do you know Fin Donnelly…he is quite an amazing swimmer.” The coach says, that is my brother. Fucking crazy small world. Fin was just elected as the Member of Parliament for my riding.

Another thing we observed while driving to the Bahia Resort, this place called the “3 Day Suit Broker”. At first we thought it was suit rental place but in fact it is a men’s suit retailer. I googled them and found out that they are this weird business model where they are open for three days a week, thus keeping their overhead low and therefore, prices low. The sign says wool suits for $100 or camel hair sports coats for $100. You know that in the interests of my investigative journalist self, I will be back there to check the place out. They are open Thursday, Friday and Saturday and apparently they have 5000 suits in stock! I’m sensing a new sports coat in my future…just sayin…

On the clothing theme…our first full day in San Diego and what do we do? Well we moved out of the Bahia and into the Hilton. More in a minute on that story. After we had moved we headed inland to this place called Julian to see cactuses and real desert stuff and to have a piece of their world famous apple pie. We travelled the Highway 67 and there is this bizarre landscape of massive boulders all up the mountains along the road. Just bizarre big boulders. Photos coming soon.

On the way to Julian we realized we did not have enough diapers and Nestle baby formula. So in Ramona we spot a Big K Mart and pull in. We end up shopping for baby stuff and I get a couple of cool shirts for $6 each. Decent quality, long sleeve shirts for $6. I figure I better buy them seeing as I did not bring any warm clothes and it gets quite cool in the night time here. Oops on my packing.

Too tired to continue, we turn around and drive back to the Hilton. On our way we realize that we are probably going to be hungry. Punch “Mexican food” into the GPS and we are at a little hole-in the wall place getting chile relenos, fish tacos and a veggie quesadilla. Deelish.

Back to the Hilton where we get the bell guy to help us pack our K Mart bags down to the room. We are so classy. And the thing is, EVERYBODY here at the Hilton L Jolla have been super friendly, super helpful and especially considerate. They warned us when we were checking in that there is a large party booked in for New Year’s Eve and it might be noisy. We sort of chuckled and said we not be bothered by the festivities.

So quickly, why did we move hotels? Well, the Bahia looks classy and has impeccably clean grounds. When you go inside the rooms though, they are so dated it is embarrassing. And then Caragh opened up a cupboard to put some baby stuff away and it was full of ants running in all directions. Ants are a deal breaker for my sweetheart. If it was an inexpensive place, I would have said, that’s what you get. But it was not cheap. When we booked the place we asked for a renovated room with water view. When we got to the Bahia, we got a room that was not renovated and had a view of the parking lot.

Back to the front desk, send Caragh in, we get a newer room with a nice view of the water. But still non-renovated. Pull the cover off the bed to let the girls romp around and you could see stains on the bed cover. Gross out factor huge. Like I said, if it was acheap place, well that is what you get. But it was not cheap and to us it was not good value.

So we checked out of the Bahia Resort and started driving. On a whim we pulled into the La Jolla Hilton and here we are. Nice clean room with two queen beds and a crib wheeled in for us. Need a microwave? We’ll send one down to you. Forgot your laptop in the car? We’ll get that for you. Need help with that classy K Mart luggage? Not a problem. Good old Conrad Hilton is making me feel right at home. And I like it.

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A Day of Line-ups at YVR and so on…

The over-riding theme of the first day of our family vacation was line-ups.

We left our house at 0445hr…the “0” standing for the omigawd it is early. However, with the forces of good on our side we were packed and on the road. Seeing as it was so early on a Sunday morning, there was virtually no traffic to contend with. Nice.

Arrive at YVR, park in the long-term parking lot; unload the car, grab a couple of carts and load all of our possessions onto them. Wheel over to the bus stop in the fog and stand there, assuming that bus is going to come to transport us to the airport. It does.

Once in the terminal it becomes apparent that we are not the only people with an early flight to catch…it is 5:30am and our flight is supposed to leave at 8:30am.

The first line up is to check in our bags. Chaos ensues in that line up because the line ropes are not properly deployed. There are about 6 or 8 people in the line up behind us when another couple figures the line-up starts from another side. On behalf of the people behind me, I tell them they are in the wrong spot, they move to the back of the line up, not happy travellers.

We finally get to the front of the line, the Air Canada check in agent is super nice, and seriously helpful. Having twins strapped to our chests probably helps. We check our bags…which means she puts a bar-coded sticker on the ones that are going on the plane. I ask if they take care of the bags from here…not so lucky. We have to take the bags down to a central processing place. So we load our three suitcases, two carry-on bags, diaper bag and two complete car seats back onto the carts, while each of us has a twin strapped to our chest. Around the corner, and omigawd, the line-up stretches as far as you can see. We are quickly told this is the second line-up we will need to get into. We first have to go to the north end of the terminal to drop off our bags. We get down there and line-up to drop off our bags. Not too bad, ten minutes in line and then we are able to go to that seemingly endless line-up.

While on our way we see Phil Moore and Doris Gee, the realtors who helped us buy our home. Then we see two of my former colleagues, and a current colleague. It is like old home week in the line-up.

It is now about 6:30am and we have not yet had a coffee. Caragh asks me to pop over to Starbucks and get us a couple of coffees. Enter the next line-up. 15 minutes later I have a couple of coffees and a muffin.

The line-up we are in moves forward imperceptibly. And then, it is our turn. We are at the front of the line-up expecting to break through into an open room. Hahahahaha.

Once again, because we are carrying the twins we are taken through the handicapped peoples’ entrance…hmmm…we take the “fast-forward”. Into a new line-up to have our body and carry-on luggage searched.

Our flight is supposed to leave at 8:30. We were told to be in the waiting area at 7:50am. It is now 7:45. It doesn’t matter though because all flights are being delayed an hour or two anyway. We get to the loading area…along with other couple of people waiting for the same flight. So there are six people out of 100 people here for the 8:30 flight.

Once again Air Canada staff come through for us. Our seats are rearranged to allow us to have an empty seat beside us for one of the car seats. Baby Story gets to ride on the plane in her car seat.

Once on the plane, the flight attendants further rearrange the seating so that Caragh and I are across the aisle from each other. I ask if this is going to be okay, they reply, “there are three mothers running this plane, it will be fine.” Pity the fool who tells me I am in the wrong seat!

Anyway, the plane finally left Vancouver at 10:30am. Five hours after we got to the airport. Plane takes off, Story goes to sleep until we land in San Diego!! Annalie is blissed out in my arms and sleeps off and on with only one screaming/crying spell. Amazing. Guy sitting beside me is kind, thoughtful and completely patient.

Get off the plane, line-up for the car rental place…another forty five minutes done. Get our car, drive to the Bahia Resort…booked through the internet where the pics look like a million books. Remember the song, “A three dressed up as a nine”? That is the Bahia. NOT pleased.

More about our move out of the Bahia Resort and out to the la Jolla Hilton tomorrow.

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Travel Advisory for People Flying to the USA

Nifty…the day before we are to fly to San Diego some asshat is alleged to have tried to blow up an airplane. Nice work asshat. So now all people flying into the USA from destinations like Canada are being restricted to one piece of carry-on luggage and are being subjected to a search of their person before getting on a plane.

I wonder if the baby that I will be carrying is counted as a piece of carry-on luggage? So now instead of being at the airport 90 minutes before the plane leaves, we are just going to head out to the airport a day in advance and sleep in the departures lounge. In fact, you have to be at the airport so freaking far in advance of your flight, if you are flying anywhere in the same time zone you are probably going to arrive at your destination more quickly if you simply drive.

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A Merry Christmas to All…

Well it certainly has started out as a very merry Christmas here at our house. As per usual, Annalie woke me up at 2:30am demanding a couple bottles of milk and a diaper change. I obliged her, as I usually do. This was after Story had woken up at 11pm and decided that the night was now over…until 12:30am. The girls are not quite old enough to understand that if they are awake all night than Santa cannot come visit the house. They don’t seem to give a shit because all they want is a bottle or a boob…not much different than you average man when it comes right down to it.

Put Annalie back to bed and she pukes back some of that wholesome Nestle goodness. Nice. Just about as bad as shitting the bed is puking in the bed. Take her downstairs to let her mull over her life choices and the distinct odour of baby shit follows us. Great, a Christmas poonami. At 3:30am. Clean her up.

Her howls of indignation have awoken her sister and her mother who comes down stairs to ask what I am doing, why is the baby screaming. My usual answer, I was twisting her legs, maybe it was too hard this time? Sarcasm is not good at 3:45am. I am then left with two babies and the instructions to wake her if I need I a switch off at some point. Shit, why do I need more than two hours of sleep on this wonderful and joyous night? Hey doc, is it possible that the headache I have pretty well every day is related to the fact that I have not slept since April? Just a funny feeling in my temple, like someone sticking an ice pick in my head. Thank you Ibuprofen…want to sponsor me?

Now it is 4:30am…Santa is probably flying in circles, in a holding pattern, over our house waiting for the twins to go to sleep.

Which makes me think about the coming week…we are taking our chaos of a life on the road. We are flying with the twins to San Diego for just under a week. I expect I will be blogging and twittering the experience. Twitter? Did you know you can follow me on Twitter? We Tweet from the name “PapaStacey”. Go ahead, follow me. It doesn’t seem the least bit creepy that you do so.

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The Best Christmas Yet

Really now, what could I really ask for, desire or be given that could be better than this?

The Twins Birthday, April 17th

The Best Christmas Gift

What more could I ask for? Born on April 17th, the first day of week 33 of the pregnancy, weighing 3 lbs 4 oz, and 3 lbs 12 ounces, the girls have thrived and grown. Story laughs all the time and now stands up if she can support herself with something like the coffee table. Annalie is beginning to crawl and smiles all the time.

The girls have brought immmeasurable joy into my life and I am eternally grateful…even at 2:30 am when I have to race down to the kitchen to warm a bottle of milk.

I hope your Christmas is as happy as mine will be. Merry Christmas to one and all.

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Receiving Things from my Christmas Wishlist Already!

So in a way some of my Christmas wish list has come true. Not exactly what I asked for but sure closer. My father has been moved into a long-term care facility close enough to my mother’s home so that she can now roll over in her electric wheelchair and see him any day.

Another Christmas gift I received today was while I was having a lovely visit at my mother’s house today, Story fell asleep in my arms and I had nowhere to set her down so I just held her in my arms. The sweet part of that is I also fell asleep. That is the first time in many weeks or months that I have been able to steal a few minutes sleep in the day time, when the girls are sleeping.

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Another Early Start to the Day

Well, here we are at 5:30 am and I can honestly say we have been hard at life since 4:30 this morning. Story awoke, on schedule, and demanded to get into the office to begin her play day. So Caragh put her in the Play-Yard, a sort of containment unit for babies who are a little too mobile at 4:30 am. When I was a kid we called this thing a Play-pen. Perhaps the word “pen” has too many negative connotations to be used now. Anyway, Story promptly fell sideways, landed on her baby bum and let loose a dramatic howl with all the ferocity of someone being pushed off a roof. And she landed on her baby bum, on top of a blanket sitting on a mattress. Oh the agony.

Caragh then decides to bring Story downstairs and put her in the Exer-saucer. I am waiting for the people in the house next door to come over and demand to know if there is a domestic disturbance of some sort going on. The Exer-saucer is my favourite little containment device that sounds like someone taking everything from your kitchen, putting it all in a sturdy plastic trash bag and running around the house smashing said bag against the walls. I’m thinking a drum kit would be less intrusive.

I did take a crappy quality little video of Story at work in the smasher unit but it seems to be too large to upload. I will investigate once I have had a coffee. No promises. One great thing about the twins is that I can now drink a large coffee any time of the day or night and still be able to fall fast asleep if given a flat surface…another benefit of being a Papa!

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The Bears Catching up on their Reading

We wanted to instill from an early age a value for reading in the girls. So we have created a literature rich environment, as you can see in the photo.

Annalie and Story with their magazine

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An Early Start to the Day

Today started at 4:15am when Annalie and Story woke up, ready to get things rolling. Waaaay to early for the adults in the house. The crappy thing about thses super early starts is that about 7:30am the girls flame out and need a nap. Unfortunately Caragh and I do not have that option because we have things we need to get done during the day.

And the myth about sleeping while the babies sleep? Bring Myth-Busters in and they will tell you it is 100% myth. If we had staff who would clean bottles and do laundry then we would sleep same as the twins. However, we do not yet have a staff in place to take care of the domestic duties so we work for the fifteen minutes that they sleep during the day.

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The Q Steakhouse

So hosted my annual mans’ night dinner on Saturday night at the Q Steakhouse. Unfortunately two of the invitees canceled late in the process. Regardless, a very good time was had by the two of us who did make it.

When we arrived the young lady at the door greeted us with a smile and remembered my request to be near a wall outlet (so I could plug in my laptop during the live-blogging-tweet fest). I was pleased to hear that they could honour my odd request. However, the table reserved for us was a small one, right beside the entrance to the washroom and across from the server station. I asked if there was a bigger table in a nicer location but I was told they were booked solid for the entire night. Even though I was not pleased with the table, I recognize it was the one near the outlet. And they were busy all evening, every table was full throughout the evening. So I just accept the table location.

Server approaches, offers drinks, water, bread, and menus. Tells us the dinner specials, and departs. Very nice, polite, professional approach. When he returns I order a Caesar and ask for advice on the appetizers. Was considering mushroom fries but told that the dish is the lamb popsicles. Lamb ribs served with blue cheese and caramelized onion. My dinner partner orders mushroom caps…safe, too safe.

Appies arrive. Mushroom caps, as I expected, boring. What do you expect from a mushroom cap?

Lamb Popsicles

Lamb Popsicles at Q Steakhouse

The lamb though,

Lamb Popsicles at Q Steakhouse

Lamb Popsicles at Q Steakhouse

Even though I have not eaten meat for 15 years, I loved these lamby-bits. They were quite meaty with just the right amount of fat to make me salivate. My dinner partner thought they were too fatty but I loved the taste of animal fat.

Considering the mains. I told our server that we had initially planned to come out with a group of guys and one of the big eater sin our group was going to order the 72 ounce steak. That was one of the guys who cancelled. I asked young server what he recommends. I said I was leaning towards the 16 ounce prime rib or the 16 ounce rib-eye. He admitted that the prime rib was very popular with customers but his personal fav is the rib-eye. He believes it has the perfect amount of marbling to really bring the taste out. I take his advice. Partner orders the girl sized one, the ten ounce.

The 16 ounce rib-eye steak

The 16 ounce rib-eye steak

Just for your peace of mind, those are mini veggies. When I asked my buddy where they would get tiny veggies, he said, “Lilliput.” Clever. This meals was not about the veggies though…it was steak night.

My first cut into made me salivate from the aroma of freshly drawn blood. The pink inside enticed my tastebuds…so I brought a piece of rib-eye to my mouth and had my first taste of flesh in 15 years.

First taste of the rib-eye steak

First taste of the rib-eye steak

And it tastes…absolutely delicious. All I can think is, why do I not eat like this every day! I eat the steak and enjoy it. It is delicious and I love it.

At the end of the meal I enjoy a lovely Cragganmore single malt scotch as my partner and I talk about the paradox of quality and other interesting issues.

As we are driving home I ask, would you go back to this place? We both agree that the meal was good, we even say it was very good. But it was not great and it is out in Abbotsford. Would we drive back to Abbotsford for this place? Probably not. But it sure was fun while we were there! Now let’s figure out where next Christmas Guys’ Night Dinner is going to be.

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