Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Our Family Command Center

Every kitchen needs a command center. Especially when you have a giant island countertop that likes to accumulate mail, papers, and everything else under the sun...I mean clouds (this is Seattle after all).  Especially when you have a hubby that needs a little organizational help (hey...I'm not being mean, he could say that I need a lot of help in areas he is amazing at like DIYing, cooking, deep cleaning, and on and on....). I like the idea of having one place that the hubster can look to find a pen (which he always needs), our calendar (so on the rare occasion he is making plans for us he will know what's going on even if I'm not home), our menu plan (so I won't constantly need to answer the "What's for dinner?" question), and will even hold all of his mail and papers (that he just loves to leave out all over) in a hidden from view kind of way. I found the perfect little wall space that wouldn't be getting much use otherwise since it's above a heating vent and too skinny and awkward for any fancy art or photos. This was a super easy project that took a quick trip to Staples for some clear plastic file holders and the rest of the stuff we already had around the house.
The yellow clothespin board was a gift for baby Micah (I believe it is a Pottery Barn kids item) and is a fun alternative to a standard bulletin board.

The detail shots:




Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Different, Yet Same

Life is so different, yet life is still the same.

Now that we have Micah, we have reason to go to things like the Temple Purim Carnival, which we went to Sunday morning (and dressed Micah up as SuperPooper...cape and all!). That was something different. Then we were hungry so we walked to Barrio, a super yummy Mexican restaurant that actually manages to remind us of San Diego, and had brunch. That was something the same...something we could do when it was just us. Something that we likely won't be doing when we have more than one kid. It's funny how we realize how different our lives are, but at the same time so much of what we used to do is still possible. It's a little like how we used to go for walks on our own and then we got Charlie. Then we went for walks with Charlie. Then we got Micah and so we went on our walks with Charlie and Micah. It's different, yet the same. It's funny how life changes so drastically and yet it can feel so totally normal and natural. We love this little family we've got going so much!

Sunday at brunch, the lighting was so perfect, so we whipped out the camera and caught some super fun shots. Enjoy!






Nose picker, already!?

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Best Baby Gifts

If you are looking for a list of must buy baby items or items to register for if you are expecting, then keep on searching; this is not that list. I started to think about creating that list of must have items for any baby and I came up with a few:
  • Velcro swaddlers or The Miracle Swaddle Blanket (since the regular fold it yourself kind might feel good, but they are a pain to master)
  • Baby health items like gripe water, baby aspirin since they provide peace of mind just knowing they are there
  • Bottles with storage bags
  • outfits in the style of the city baby will live in and of the sports teams of that city
I also thought of a list of items to skip giving a Mom-to-be or new Mom if you want to be unique and helpful:
  • pacifiers (let the mom see if the baby even likes the one they got at the hospital first)
  • blankets (we got so many blankets! While they were all super sweet, unless they were handmade, they aren't getting used a lot)
  • Bibs (so many!)
  • Hats (so many don't stay on or were too small from the start)
  • Changing pad and Diaper Bag (each parent will have very specific taste and needs for these two items, so unless it is on a registry...skip this decision!)
Mostly I didn't want to do a more detailed list since I am so sick of all the consumerism that surrounds babies and children (ok, fine, that is in our society in general). For the most part babies will be fine with the basics! They don't need twenty outfits, ten will do. They don't need a bunch of toys since they will end up wanting to play with items you already have anyways. If you are buying someone a baby gift, ask yourself the following questions:
  • Is it practical?
  • Is it sentimental?
  • Is it eco-friendly?
  • Is it unique?
 The best gifts that we received were:
  •  frozen meals and gift certificates for restaurants (especially ones that you can order take out from)
  • boring, yet practical items like diapers, wipes, nursing bras, nursing shirts, reusable nursing pads (ok, so we actually didn't receive any of these, but I would have loved to get these as gifts!)
  • and all of the handmade gifts we received
We are so fortunate to have such crafty friends and family! We showed you back in June and July all the amazing handmade gifts from our showers and that arrived in the mail. Ever since Micah arrived, the handmade gifts just keep on coming! We love all of them!


My cousin Elizabeth even let us borrow the play mat that she made for her daughter, Ellie. Ellie never really got to enjoy it since this labor of love took Elizabeth a bit longer than expected and Ellie was too old by the time it was done to get the full enjoyment out of it. Isn't it gorgeous!? What a labor of love! Lucky Micah gets to use it!

more proof he is my little froggy!


Even family of our family made beautiful things for Micah. This blanket was made by Lynette (who you can read more about here)'s fabulous mother, Jane! I love that it is Seattle sports colors...While we hope he won't be rooting for those Seageeks or Mariners, he can still sport blue and green for the oh so awesome Seattle Sounders soccer team.


This next gift is so special since it was made by my 96 year old Great Aunt Shirley! How stinkin cute is this beanie?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Five Months!


This month Micah has:

  • Moved from focusing on his hands to focusing on his feet (and trying to get them into his mouth!)
  • Been drooling a little less. More on and off teething.
  • Continued to grow so big! He was 16 lbs 6 and a half oz at the 4 month appointment and seems to continue to weigh more and grow in length
  • Almost outgrown his baby bath tub. We are still using it, but it's on its last days since his knees and legs are out of the water.
  • Continued to love jumping in his jumperoo. 
  • Grown way more interested in grabbing and playing with the stuffed toys that hang from his activity mat.
  • Continued leaning forward to try to grab things (like his feet or Charlie or mom's hair, necklace, eyes, ears...) and has done so successfully and quite forcefully! He can hold his own pacifier (we still try every now and then to see what he'll do with it. He just basically uses it as a teether and doesn't suck on it very much, but it is very entertaining for all of us). He pulls on my hair and holds on when we pick him up.
  • Continued to show interest in other people and babies
  • Gone to the park and swung on the swings, slid down the slide (with Mommy's help) and rode a toy train (with Mommy's help) and loved it!
  • Been going to sleep around 6 or 7 each night after a bath, story, and "Mommy time" breastfeeding. Seems to be getting a bit later than it used to be since he naps later and since Mommy is back at work and he misses her.
  • Continues 3 major night time feedings. Usually around 11:30pm, 3:30am, and 5:30am. Mommy has gotten really good and sleeping through these feedings (I'm not using the IPad all night or even looking at the clock each time anymore!)
  • Giggled and laughed and snorted a lot
  • Cried a lot less
  • Fights sleep, especially the first nap of the day
  • Stopped hating the car. He now plays with the toys or stares in the mirror or out the window or falls right to sleep!
  • Babbled with baby talk a lot! Uses funny noises made in the back of his throat. Kind of gurgles.
  • Loved being outside
  • Continued to be entertained by Charlie.
  • Enjoyed Facetime with his Nana and Papa regularly
  • Enjoyed more time with Gramma now that she gets to be here everyday as Nanny. He transitioned so well for her! He lights up with a giant smile when she arrives each morning and even has huge smiles for Mommy and Daddy when they come home each evening.
  • Been eating more than Mommy can pump, which makes her sad since her backup supply is dwindling and she may have to supplement with formula here and there since pumping is hard work!
  • Let Daddy help and play with him a lot more
  • Loved Barnes and Noble and although he mostly just wants to eat books, occasionally he loves listening to stories and looking at the pictures
  • Just started showing the first signs of stranger danger (not wanting to be left with a "stranger")
  • Grown more hair! Lost more of his first baby hair (although some is sticking around looking like a bad toupee. Luckily he lost his little "neck mustache").

Almost crawling! Loves to move already!







Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Back to Work: An Emotional Roller-coaster Ride

It has only been two full days back at work, yet I can tell that for the rest of my working life, I will be stuck on a roller-coaster ride of emotions. There are definite highs (when I have five and six year olds hugging me, smiling at me, having major aha learning moments, needing my love and praise, etc.) and definite lows (leaving Micah each morning while he watches with a longing gaze as I head out the door). I know that I have one of the best situations out there because Micah is being watched by his own Gramma Susan every day at his own house. We couldn't have it better or easier in that sense. I am so thankful for her. I truly do not have to think or worry about him during the day. Luckily I truly do love my job. The last two days have been wonderful in the sense that I feel like my old self again, I am teaching and learning and growing and changing as a person, and Micah has reacted nicely upon my return each evening. It's just emotional when I get to thinking about all the little moments I'm missing with him. All the things I probably won't see him do. All the snuggles and kisses I'm missing out on. I love my little guy so much. And I already love and care about my students so much.

I feel like the word of the week is patience. I've asked my students to have patience with me since I am learning the schedule and multiple new curricula and am also trying to learn and maintain routines that my sub began. I pray that Micah has patience with me and with missing me and that some day he will understand my desire to keep working (even though I feel like I am forever going to be in this place where every time I'm with him I don't want to leave him and every time I'm with my students I feel like I'm doing the right thing). I am also working on patience. Patience with coworkers, patience with staff meetings and professional development, and most importantly patience with pumping. Up, down, up, down...as is life, especially for this new "working mom".

I took these photos of Micah last week on my last official day off. I can't choose just a few, so I'm just going to inundate you with photos of him. :-)


Our little verbalizer




Working out his core

Loves those feet!
Trying to put everything in his mouth that he can!

Our happy 20 week old boy!

Loving those feet again!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Featured With Love - Donna Becht, Healthy Cities Tutoring

Featured With Love is a series that I began to just plain share the love. I am constantly amazed by my friends and family, especially the ones that have started their own companies and charities. I get bogged down with just the idea of doing my own thing let alone where and how to start and then how to be successful at it. I couldn't help but think about how awesome these businesses and charities are and how it would be fun to highlight them here on my blog. Not that I have a ton of readers, but I'm sure that when you run your own gig, you take any and all PR that you can get. No one has paid me to write about these people. I know that I like to buy from or donate to companies and charities that have come recommended by people I know and trust. The people that I highlight here are all loyal, trustworthy, caring, and dedicated individuals. I hope you will join me in reading and learning about what they do. I am not asking you to purchase or donate anything from them. I am simply spreading the word. Please read along and leave an encouraging comment since they are their own bosses and thus don't always get feedback and encouragement. An easy way to spread the love (and if nothing else, it will help out your karma).



Donna Becht is not only one of my mom's good friends and an amazing mother and wife. She is the influential leader of the San Carlos Healthy Cities Tutoring Program. Healthy Cities is an extremely successful nonprofit organization pairing tutors of all ages with San Carlos, CA students (elementary and middle school ages). I have personal experience with Healthy Cities, as I was a tutor throughout all four years of high school. I had the privilege to tutor the same student for all four years and in doing so, was able to witness amazing growth academically and socially in my student. My mother has been a tutor with Healthy Cities since it's inception and has been fortunate to tutor many students of whom continued with her for one to four years, until they no longer needed additional support. I'm pretty sure that even my brother tutored for a year (which is amazing since he was always more into making money with his spare time back then). I have known many others who have either been a tutor or have been tutored and mentored. Never have I heard a negative statement from anyone. To learn more about this amazing inspiration, I have interviewed Donna to give us a little more insight into the organization. If you live in or near San Carlos and have only a half an hour a week to spare (I believe that's about all the time it takes), please think of partnering with Healthy Cities. I often think that the tutors get more out of it than the students!


Where did you come up with the idea for your organization?

Healthy Cities Tutoring began in 1996 as a dream of school and community leaders seeking to support children and families in San Carlos. I was hired in December 1996 to initiate a volunteer based tutor-mentor program to support struggling students in kindergarten through third grade. This intergenerational program was piloted at one elementary school in early 1997 and quickly expanded to provide one-on-one tutoring and mentoring to students at four elementary and two middle schools for students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

What steps did you take to make it a reality? 

Healthy Cities Tutoring was supported by the City of San Carlos for the first thirteen years. Due to increased budget demands placed on both the City of San Carlos and the San Carlos School District, the program lost most of its funding in June, 2011. The program has strong roots in San Carlos and many supporters and partners who did not want to see the program die with the loss of funding. Working with a committed group of volunteers, educators, business leaders and elected officials, the program was reestablished as a 501(c)(3) in September 2011. The nonprofit is now in place with a committed Board of Directors and a fund raising plan working towards ensuring sustainability. Healthy Cities Tutoring is committed to ensuring every child has the support necessary to achieve to their full potential; we know that their achievement creates a healthy, safe and thriving community. 

What does your organization do?

Healthy Cities Tutoring matches volunteers from the community with students that need assistance to find success in school. During the 2011-12, 150 volunteers provided help to 159 students. In the sixteen years of the program’s existence, over 1300 students have benefited from the one-on-one help provided by Healthy Cities Tutoring volunteers.

Volunteers are recruited from all walks of life and truly bring the community into the schools. They meet with their students once or twice a week for one hour. Scheduling is variable depending on the needs of the students, requests of the parents and the schedule of the volunteers. Healthy Cities is often the first intervention requested by teachers for children that are struggling. This is a typical referral: Sylvie is reading at a beginning first grade level.  She struggles in all academic areas. She has such a desire to learn and always gives her best effort. She asks lots of questions and doesn’t give up even when it is hard. She could definitely benefit from some one-on-one support. I think she has great potential!”

What is your dream/vision for the future of your organization?

Healthy Cities Tutoring is an amazing partnership between our schools, our city and our residents that helps the youngest members of our community. We currently are serving only 1/3 of the children that are below grade level in our school district. We hope to reach more of those students that are in need of assistance. We also hope to take this model to other communities and further our mission to help more kids that struggle to find success in school. We plan to continue this work for many years to come.


What makes you passionate about your job?

Truly, I know that every day we are making a difference. I have the great privilege of interacting with the hundreds of wonderful people that step forward to volunteer and help a child. I work with amazing teachers who are passionate about kids. I hear from parents how much the tutoring has helped their child and how they appreciate our help. And, I see a child’s face light up when their tutor comes to pick them up from class. It is easy to be passionate about this work.

How can readers get involved or hire you?

Please go to our website at: www.healthycitiestutoring.org and view the video about our organization. Consider being a tutor or donating to our program. Just click on Volunteer or Donate! Help us spread the word by “Liking” us on Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/pages/Healthy-Cities-Tutoring/294707780554505 or following us on Twitter @HCtutoring

If you like and believe in giving back and helping children then you will like this company/organization.

What valuable lessons have you learned since the beginning?

Never give up! Back in 1997, no one dreamed Healthy Cities would find the success that it did. Despite the ups and downs of funding and ownership, Healthy Cities Tutoring has remained true to its belief that a community will step forward and support the children and families that struggle.

What do you do for fun/relaxation outside of your job?

Outside of the job, I like to read, walk and spend time with friends and family.

What is your favorite thing about GrowingSoundRoots?

I enjoy reading about Ali being a mom and all of the changes and experiences in her life, be they large or small. I think she is a great writer!


A Healthy Cities Tutor and Student

Healthy Cities Tutoring in action
***Isn't Donna inspiring!? She does so much for Healthy Cities and it has blossomed thanks to her leadership. Have you been involved with Healthy Cities? Tell us about it in the comments section! How many of you wish that there had been a Healthy Cities around when you were a kid?

Friday, February 8, 2013

Creating an Entryway When There Was None

So, plans have evolved quite a bit since we began working with Tony, our architect, a little over a year ago. We realized that we had expanded the back of the house to include a large coat closet (which we turned into our pantry) and mudroom type area near the back door; however, we did not think about the current functionality of this plan. The plan will hopefully work nice for the future. You know, in a few more years when the backyard is nicely landscaped with a deck and when we've updated our garage to actually fit one of our cars. Perhaps then once we are primarily entering through the back door, the plans we had Tony draw up will work for us. In the meantime, I wanted a better solution for our current, enter directly into the living room, plan.

Mostly, I just wanted a way to easily store shoes and jackets without it being a complete eye sore. I had my heart set on this awesome shoe dresser from Ikea (seen on another favorite blog, I Heart Organizing). I was all set to head out the door to Ikea, but realized that with out entryway (or lack there of) it just wouldn't make sense. The feng shui would be completely off. It would have felt so awkward to walk in the door and then have to walk around the shoe storage thingy. This is when I started to think of other options. I may be quite the linear thinker, but every now and then I can do a little outside the box style thinking and come up with something awesome.

Source

Since the hubby can pretty much create anything that I think up (I know ladies, calm down, he's all mine!), I returned to our original idea of creating a separation, a divider of some kind, in between the doorway and the rest of the living room. The room is not that large to begin with, so a little part of me was nervous to take away square footage, yet I couldn't shake that good ol' cliche, "less is more" and decided we were on the right track. Last year, during the thick of the remodel, we picked up this baby at a second hand store and planned to sand and paint it as a small room divider. Since I really wanted a way to corral all our shoes (I love my hubby, but I am constantly tripping over his damn shoes. Ok, to his credit, Charlie our dog has now taken up the habit of picking up shoes when someone comes over and he gets excited and we haven't figured out how to train him to put them back!), the divider no longer seemed appropriate.

Our Second Hand find!
That's when Phil and I worked together to design a half wall with a built in bench. Because Phil is so amazing, he had the wall built almost as quickly as we had taken to design it on paper. Now when you enter the house you will have a place to sit and take off your shoes (and then a place to hide them away...I'm thinking cute baskets) and a place to hang your coat and purse and scarf and mittens (Oh, winter in Seattle!). Phil still needs to trim the top of the half wall and paint or stain the bench seat and trim. We need to put up cute hooks on the entry wall and I'd like to find a cute system for mail and to hang our keys.

Already it feels like a huge improvement. Already, less space does feel like more. I have big dreams for updating the furniture in the living room (I'm thinking light and airy. White and grey furniture with a sisal rug. I want it to match our beachy feeling landscaping out front. Stay tuned!

The Entryway coming together

Created more distinct separation between the entry and the bedroom/bathroom area

Defined shoe storage space! Baskets to come!

Mail drop

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Featured With Love- Lynette Kaber & Thirty One

Featured With Love is a series that I began to just plain share the love. I am constantly amazed by my friends and family, especially the ones that have started their own companies and charities. I get bogged down with just the idea of doing my own thing let alone where and how to start and then how to be successful at it. I couldn't help but think about how awesome these businesses and charities are and how it would be fun to highlight them here on my blog. Not that I have a ton of readers, but I'm sure that when you run your own gig, you take any and all PR that you can get. No one has paid me to write about these people. I know that I like to buy from or donate to companies and charities that have come recommended by people I know and trust. The people that I highlight here are all loyal, trustworthy, caring, and dedicated individuals. I hope you will join me in reading and learning about what they do. I am not asking you to purchase or donate anything from them. I am simply spreading the word. Please read along and leave an encouraging comment since they are their own bosses and thus don't always get feedback and encouragement. An easy way to spread the love (and if nothing else, it will help out your karma).


Lynette Kaber is not just your average business owner. Lynette is a fun, young, thrifty, creative, organized, and crafty mother of a 4 year old boy. She is hard working (hello civil engineering degree!) and supportive (her hubby has done one tour in Iraq and two in Afghanistan!). When Lynette married my big cousin, Tim, we couldn't believe our luck to have gained such a wonderful addition to the family. Lynette constantly inspires and amazes me with her get it done and do it yourself attitude. I am also often impressed by her thoughtfulness and generosity (see the sweet deal for a charity of your choice that she's set up for you at the bottom of this post!). Lynette is trustworthy, loyal, considerate and someone I would love to be able to work with. If you are in need of some organizing at home (hello New Year's resolutions!) or just feeling like something cute, Lynette has wonderful products to offer as a representative of Thirty One. Thirty One has so many great organizational options. I have a fun black and white tote bag that I just love and I have been pondering their new fabric hanging file folders. I've done too much talking already, let me have Lynette tell you more about herself and what she does.


Where did you come up with the idea for your business?
A friend signed up as a consultant and raved about it so much that I just had to sign up too!

What steps did you take to make it a reality?
Thirty One is so simple to get into, you just need $99 and the kit is yours!

What does your company do?
Thirty One is a direct sales company with purses, tote bags, lunch thermals, and tons of great home organization products!

What is your dream/vision for the future of your company?
I would love for my Thirty One business to provide us the extra income needed to travel more now that our son is old enough to remember and appreciate the places we go.

What makes you passionate about your job?
I love the products, especially all the fun patterns! It is always so rewarding to know that the products help others become more organized or help them tote around all their items with ease!

How can readers get involved or hire you?
They can visit my website at www.mythirtyone.com/LynetteK or email me at lynettekaber@gmail.com

If you like __________ then you will like this company.
Purses and totes

What valuable lessons have you learned since the beginning?
A business is what you make of it, zero effort in = zero results

What do you do for fun/relaxation outside of your job?
Crafting and spending time with my son!

Social media is _______________.
An incredible way to keep in touch with those that are far away.

What is your favorite thing about GrowingSoundRoots?
Getting to see photos of adorable little Micah!

***Now that you know about Lynette and about My Thirty One, Lynette has offered to donate 20 % of all GrowingSoundRoots generated sales to a charity of your choice! I am really eying those awesome pocket wall organizers. What looks interesting to you? How do you think you'd put a Thirty One item to good use?


www.mythirtyone.com

Wonderful pattern options

Goes with everything!

Such awesome storage!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Live It In A Day- San Francisco

I was recently asked by a good friend for recommendations on what to do while she was in San Diego. Then I was asked by another friend for recommendations on what to do in San Francisco. Thus spawned this series, Live It In A Day. When recommending places, I often think about trying to give someone a true feel for the place. I am aware that time is usually a factor. I also know that impressions of an entire city, state, country can stem from just one day with those limited interactions. I was fortunate enough to do a lot of cruising with my family while growing up and thus my impression of entire countries is based on the few interactions and locations of one day. Since I have been fortunate to live in five different cities for long enough to be called a local and have traveled to many more in whirlwind style, I thought it would be fun to bring you the following segment: Live It In a Day. Enjoy!

 

This may sound silly, but if you only have one day in San Francisco and you could only do one thing in that whole day...you have to go to a Giants game! Seriously! You get to see the bay, the bridge, you can do some of the best people watching, you can eat some of the best food from one of the greatest foodie cities, and see the 2010/2012 World Champion team! If it is baseball season and the Giants are playing a home game...you must go! No ifs ands or buts about it!

If you are not in town during baseball season or a home game or if you happen to have more time, then the following would be my recommendations. Yes a lot of these locations are touristy, but sometimes being touristy is ok. Sometimes it's still really fun, especially in a place like San Francisco. Keep in mind that while I consider San Francisco one of my most well known cities and my home city, I actually grew up twenty minutes south of the city (which to local urban true SFians, might as well be as far away as New York.). It was always a dream of mine to live in The City (as we locals call it) and while that live in a sweet SF apartment ship has pretty much sailed, I did kind of get to cross live in SF off my bucket list when I lived in a hostal in the Tenderloin district (one of the skechier parts of town) for three weeks in 2007 while working at a school in Japan town. Here is what I like to do when a friend or family member visits with me (especially if they have never been to SF before):

1. Start out with a morning drive on 19th Avenue, to Brotherhood Way, and over to the Great Highway. Take a brisk walk along Ocean Beach and then drive up to the Cliff House and the ruins of the Sutro Baths. Yes, even San Francisco has ancient ruins! Ok, so they are mid-twentieth century ruins, but I've always been absolutely fascinated by stories and pictures from the hey day of the Sutro baths and Playland By the Beach. There are photos and explanations of the history to look at while you are there.


Watching the turtles at Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park

2. Drive through Golden Gate Park. After Balboa Park down in San Diego, this is one of my absolute favorite parks in the world. Just like Balboa Park, Golden Gate Park is a hub for culture, museums and nature right smack in the middle of the city. If you only have the one day in SF, just take a short walk around Stow Lake and by the exteriors of the DeYoung Museum and the Academy of Sciences. If you have more time, definitely go to the Academy of Sciences and if you like art museums, you won't be disappointed with the DeYoung.

View of the Golden Gate Bridge from Fort Point

3. Next I like to head up for the view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Yes, you can walk/run/bike/rollerblade it, however if your time is limited there are plenty of amazing locations to just snap some photos and enjoy gorgeous views (even if it's foggy). One way is to find the old bunkers located just south of the bridge and take short little strolls snapping your typical shots of the bridge (which, my ancestor Joseph Strauss was in charge of building! You can visit his statue if you do decide to get out of your car and walk across.). I have two other ways that I love to view the bridge and the city. One is from Fort Point, directly below the bridge, and the other is by driving across the bridge into Marin and taking the first exit down to Fort Baker (if you have kids and have extra time there is a fun Children's Discovery Museum located here too that I would recommend).

Palace of Fine Arts; Home to the Exploratorium

4. By now, it is likely around lunch time and so after you drive past the Palace of Fine Arts (again, if you have an extended trip and especially if you are traveling with children, I would absolutely recommend going inside the Exploratorium museum for a few hours of fun.) and drive past the Marina, you can silence your growling tummies a bit longer in order to see the ever so famous Lombard Street, the world's curviest steepest street. Don't worry about not being able to drive it as I have successfully made it down in a limo on prom night! If limo's can do it, you can too!

The Mexicatessen in the Mission District

5. There are so many amazing restaurants and foodie neighborhoods in San Francisco. My families go to whenever relatives come into town is Chinatown. My dad loves a lot of the smaller restaurants, but I've been going to R & G Lounge for a long time since I am still in love with their Salt and Pepper Crab (although it can be quiet pricey) and then we always walk around and visit the Fortune Cookie Factory too (which is down a very small back alley and you'll have to ask around to find it). North Beach is great if you love Italian food. There are so many amazing cafes and restaurants in areas like Noe Valley, Pacific Heights, and the Castro. My other favorite area to grab lunch in The City is the Mission District. Aside from San Diego, it is by far the best Mexican food you can get outside of Mexico. There are tons of places to choose from, but my favorite is the Mexicatessen. I love their blue corn tamales and their guac is unreal! And if you end up going to the Mission district, you have to walk around and tour the amazingly colorful murals that are scattered throughout the area. But, if this is your only stop in California, you just may need to do In N Out Burger instead!

It seems like you could stumble in to most restaurants in SF and be completely satisfied with the quality of food and service. My parents are constantly venturing into The City just to try new places. I know I am not helping with your decision for lunch time, but I feel that you really can't go wrong (as long as you find a small local restaurant that is...you are in SF, so my best advice is No chain restaurants!)

6. So, SF is such a large city, with so many unique neighborhoods, that you might feel like you are driving all around. There really isn't a great logical trajectory of how to see SF in just a day. I would head down to the waterfront next. Pier 39 is the touristy place to go, but I would skip it (or walk through super quickly) and head over to Fisherman's Wharf, the Gharridelli Chocalate Factory, and my favorite...the Musee Mecanique (it has old arcade games and videos mostly from Playland by the Beach). It is a good break from such a busy day, especially if you have children. Don't forget to snag a sundae at Gharridelli, but I recommend sharing because they truly are huge!

7. At this point your feet are starting to get insanely tired, but you've got to keep on truckin! If you are female, a trip to SF is not complete without a little shopping, of course. Union Square is fun to walk around, but if you are limited on time and want to find the best stores all in one place, head straight for San Francisco Center. I am not big on shopping, but this mall is like two malls in one! It seems to have every store you could want! And, the food court is pretty tasty with some local restaurants and healthier choices, so it's great for a midday snack.

8. For dinner, refer to my #5. Too many great places. Something for every budget too!

The fun found at Slide

9. Nightlife in SF has a wide variety as well and is pretty fun. I think that even though it's touristy, the Starlight Lounge at the top of the Sir Francis Drake is super fun. That's in the Union Square area. Also super fun (assuming it is still a happening place since I went there way back in 2008 for my bachelorette party and in 2010 for my best friend's bachelorette party!) is the club, Slide. Back in my early 20's (haha!) my live-in-the-city friends took me to the Dragon Bar in the North Beach area a few times and that whole area was poppin off! I haven't been here yet, but I am dying to get to ______ a speakeasy style bar. Another fun place is the bar at the Redwood Room. It's more of a lounge than club.

49ers Football on Sundays!

10. If you are in SF on a Sunday, I highly recommend a visit to Glide Memorial Church. They have an amazing choir, wonderful diversity among their community. and inspiring sermons. When you are done at Glide, don't forget to head to a local sports bar to cheer on the 49ers during football season. Hopefully you'll be watching the 2013 Super Bowl champions! ;-)

Do you live in or near The City? What else would you recommend that people see and do? I was very vague about restaurants...what are your favorites? Have any of you done something so totally touristy in SF and just loved it? What about any favorite secret local spots? Let us know in the comments section! Thanks!