Aug 3 2015

What Happens Next: Napier

I’ve traveled to places, like Heimaey in Iceland. I’ve read of places, like Pompeii. In those places, you go to see what they looked like the moment disaster struck. A moment frozen in time under lava. There’s usually a loaf of bread in an oven somewhere to emphasize the moment-in-timeness.

When we traveled to Napier, we got to see that next moment. What happens after disaster. After leaving a town still deciding it’s post-quake identity, I wanted to see how one city answered that question. Napier answered it with a fondant exclamation point.

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Aug 2 2015

Saturday Evening Post, August 1 2015

A few photos from our week.
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New Regent Street, Christchurch

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Jul 26 2015

Saturday Evening Post, July 25 2015

A few photos from our week.
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Punting on the Avon

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Jul 25 2015

Day Trip: Arthur’s Pass

Another week, another rad day trip. This time, we headed northwest into the mountains.

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The mountains here are the Southern Alps. Their snowy peaks have been visible and calling us the whole visit. Continue reading


Jul 21 2015

Day Trip: Akaroa

One element of this trip that Brett remarked about today is that I’ve, ahem, ceded some of the planning control. It’s true. He’s been Captain Daytrip, planning our jaunts drivable from the house. And dude has rocked it.

His first smash success was Akaroa.

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Jul 12 2015

Working on Joy: Halswell Miniature Trains

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Let’s talk about tiny trains. The damn coolest tiny trains in any hemisphere.

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Jul 7 2015

Sure to Rise

In February 2011, Christchurch and surrounds were rocked by a 6.3 earthquake. Christchurch sustained substantial damage and the city is still in re-build mode four years later. When we did our first sojourn in from Sumner, the beach town we’re staying in, it was a brief trip in to test out driving on the left and ease out of a 24 hour travel day and begin to grasp what a city in flux looks like.

I was expecting it to be both better and worse, which I realize is ridiculous.

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Nov 8 2013

An Unusual Inquiry

Earlier this week I woke to an email and I have been a bit giddy since.

When we lived in Reykjavik we lived right near the Listaháskóli Íslands, the Iceland Academy of the Arts. The bold, bright artwork along the pedestrian tunnel and parking lots made me so very happy and made me take note of all the art, sanctioned and not, in the city. The value the nation puts on the artistic pursuits of its citizens is pretty rad. So I relished the bountiful public art and shared some of it in this post while we were abroad.

I guess someone found it.

Dear Julie.

I was informed about your very interesting web-site as I was looking for pictures of the graffiti that was painted on the walls of the pedestrian tunnel at Iceland Academy of the Arts where I have been the Principal Director until last August. It so happens, that I am looking for photographs of this graffiti for the cover and booklet of my music-cd that is to be released next month. 

 As I discovered the two photographs you have on your site I began to wonder if I could use the one of the doors (actually, the door to my own office!) in the booklet as supplementary decoration. For this I would need a version of the photograph with higher solution (300 dpi). Also, I began to wonder if you had some other photographs of the graffiti that you don’t show on the site.

 I know this is an unusual inquiry, but it proves that information travels fast and widely! I would be grateful if you could send me a response at your earliest convenience.

p.s.: the paint of the graffiti has now paled so much that it not of any use to take photographs now ….

 
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Jul 9 2013

Six Ways to Work While Traveling

This year, we’re trying a few ways to work so that Brett gets as full of a day as he needs and I get to get my stuff done as needed and we can try to do some things during the week so the weekends don’t become insane pressure cookers of do-do-do.

The fact that the kid won’t nap forever is not lost on us, please sweetgods let it linger. So, this is what is working for work this year.

All of these schedules give Brett +/- 8-9 hours of work time. Because he is part machine, he will be focused and productive for approximately all of it. Dude is a beast. These give me 3+ hours of work per day, plus nights as needed.

Opt 1: The Long Haul
This has been our Mondays.

Brett gets up between 5 and 6. He works till 9ish when I might steal a few minutes to write an email, guzzle some coffee, or load up laundry. But for the most part I’m on duty and Lo and I keep ourselves busy with storytime followed by playgrounding at the Marina branch library.

Lunch together, kid goes down for a nap, I work for a few hours, Brett does too.

After nap, say between 3:30 and 4, we all go do something somewhere.

Post bedtime is a focused period of work for me and hopefully Brett relaxes and reads a book. Or works some more.

 

Opt 2: Break It Up
This is our plan for Tuesdays.

Brett works from 6ish-9ish.
We head out to do something as a family around 9:30, most stuff seems to open around 10.

Lunch is on the go, today we went to Yerba Buena Gardens so Lo chowed on peanut butter tortillas (they don’t get squished like bread) on the bus home.

Till dinner is work for him, nap and post-dinner is work for me.

You’d be surprised how much can be done in a few hours, even using public transportation. When traveling with a toddler it’s not like a 14 hour day is possible anyway. Breaking it up into a half day of doing is doing enough.

 

Opt 3: Not My Morning!
On Wednesdays, Brett & Lo are taking swim classes in the morning.

They are off by 9ish, home by noonish. He might or might not have gotten up earlier to work. Hopefully I am too asleep to notice.
In this scenario, I get a morning to work, perhaps a bit of a later snooze, too. Yahoo!

Brett then works from lunch till dinner, 12ish-6:30ish, or a bit later. We both clean up any remnants of our day post-bed.

 

Opt 4: Two Step
This day would have both of us following a schedule like mine in Oak Park on Tuesdays or Thursdays (read: no child care).

If we have a friend to see or something special to do in the morning or afternoon, we’d both work during nap and at night but be off duty work wise and on duty parent wise the rest of the day.

 

Opt 5: I’m Scared to Do This
We skip nap. We do it on travel days partially to help with jet lag and Lo has skipped a few here and there but for the most part we’re all happier if she’s slept.

A full day, likely on the weekend, out of the house would make it worth the risk of everything post-5 pm sucking. Golden Gate Park seems a reason.

And, this isn’t really about work at all. But I gotta own the fear.

 

Opt 6: Same Old, Same Old
This would see B working a regular 8-10 hour day in a row during more normal business hours. I don’t know when/where/why this would happen but it feels silly to pretend we’re never going to just rock a regular old day.
So then…
Who knows which we’ll do Thursdays and Fridays or if next Tuesday will be totally wild!!!

I like having systems in place to then push against rather than just wing it every day or realize we both scheduled a call or a trip is implausible with the time we’ve allotted. We’re hoping that by being intentional about our work/life we can keep assessing how these trips work or need to work better. That, then, makes these trips more possible and smoother.

It’s also just smart business. My clients know I’m available from 3-5 Chicago time for phone calls, which correlates to nap time and gives them a sense of consistency when our departure looms. I can always schedule one for another time but even just presenting that we’ve thought about it and we know what we’re doing builds confidence (and, really, I’ve never gotten anything but supportive support from folks I work with).

It isn’t exciting or exotic or romantic but part of doing a trip like this is Boy Scouting it up and being prepared.


Jul 8 2013

Have you? Did you? Nope. Not yet.

Have you been biked across the Golden Gate Bridge?

Are you going to do the Exploratorium?

Did you eat at that restaurant I sent?

My answer is typically: Not yet. But maybe.

We get a pretty non-stop list of suggestions and must-dos and gotta-sees leading up to trips. I’m always happy to take suggestions and hear ideas, especially on traveling with a tot. And, I do heaps of research and make a Google map and doc before we go of stuff (places, tastes, things, kid friendly and not) nearby and far by (these are great to share with friends traveling, too). For San Francisco, I read up on everything and anything Jordan Ferney of Oh Happy Day shared, especially this post on urban hikes and this guest post for Alphamom. I googled and queried and dug around Yelp.

Over the course of a month, we’ll likely do some of the things shared and things I found. Maybe most. Maybe.

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But today, so far, the place we’ve been the most is the Cow Hollow Playground.

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It’s a small neighborhood playground tucked into a half-street a few blocks from our house in the Marina. It’s nothing fancy. Sun bleached communal toys, some much loved equipment. Lots of sand. But it’s exactly what we like to discover when we’re away. The things that make us feel connected to a new place, even if we know it’s (and plan for it to be) fleeting. In Iceland (pre-Lo) it was C is for Cookie. In Paris, it was the toddler playground at the Jardin de Luxembourg (man, I did a crappy job blogging in Paris.) And here, it’s a place like the Cow Hollow Playground.

It’s not all that different, in fact it’s a bit older and rougher, than our playground in Skunk Hollow (and no, we didn’t realize the name of our neighborhood here till we got here). And that’s why it’s both familiar and magical (because, no, we didn’t realize the name of our neighborhood here till we got here).

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Part of the challenge of explaining the whats (and whys) when we’re away involves sharing a philosophy that sounds overwrought and high handed and, ugh, pretentious or obnoxious. In fact, if one of you were to talk to me about something similar I just might (no, I would) make fun of you for being too earnest. But with reflection and hindsight on past trips and planning for this and future trips, one does, if one’s looking for it, start to coalesce ideas and approaches. And the neighborhood playground embodies much of our approach. It’s an immersion and a surrounding and an appreciation for being somewhere, not just visiting somewhere.

To do that sometimes means we de-prioritize all the places on the lists and recs and must-sees. It’s not a wholesale rejection, because I am wired to want to do it all. A focus on finding what we can do, honoring our work we both love, and the realities of the limits of CopperTop both limit and free us from accomplishing it all.

It’s trying to find the balance of the native New Yorker whose never been to the Statue of Liberty and the run-ragged tourist who’s been everywhere for the sake of checking it off a list. I want to be neither.

The thrill for us yesterday was discovering the path of least resistance. In San Francisco, that means the least hilly route from the playground home. It’s about as mundane a thrill as you can have. It’s just the thrill we are looking for on trips like this.

There will be moments like the Pride Parade.

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There will be trips to someplace exciting worthy of a skipped nap and a crappy night, I know and hope.

But for the most part, the most parts of the trip are simple pleasures. And those have changed, and stayed the same, since I first wrote about it in 2010 (oh, to spend a day reading!). Now, it’s Lo’s first swim class last week (at the wonderful JCC here) and seeing how songs like “Open, Shut Them” sound sung by a different librarian at story time. It’s tasting fresh strawberries and seeing what hills look like to a toddler from flatter lands.

It’s trying a puff pastry from the joint down the street.

Or even just chasing the rainbows on the staircase at the house. Because there aren’t rainbows on our staircase in Oak Park.

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It isn’t necessarily anything that would appeal to everyone. But we know we’re creating time and space with travel like this to let the mundane magic happen. It’s why we do what we do.