Family Activities in San Francisco - San Francisco Zoo

So. If you haven't figured it out yet, we moved this summer, and, as luck would have it, were dropped in the second most expensive city in the United States. The cost of living here near San Francisco is astronomical. Because of the cost of living, most families are either a) in a home where both parents work or b) on an extremely tight budget.

Now, I have also noticed that there are not a lot of families in the area (at least not compared to Utah and Nebraska), so family friendly activities in San Francisco are extremely hard to come by and generally pretty expensive (because everything in this city has to cost an arm and a leg). I have taken it upon myself to save some other poor unfortunate soul the time and effort involved in finding family (& budget!) friendly activities in and around the San Francisco Bay Area.

First on the list: The San Francisco Zoo. Let me start off by saying that I am a zoo snob. Seriously. I grew up with the Sedgwick County Zoo (ranked the 8th best zoo in the US by and then when I went to college, I lived near the Henry Doorley Zoo (ranked the 2nd best zoo in the US by
Photo by Elsie
Quite frankly, when compared with those two zoos, the SF Zoo sucks. Hardcore. But... my kids don't have very high standards when it comes to zoos, and, honestly, when you've got two toddlers, your main goal is to kill a good portion of your day, get kids out into fresh air, and enjoy the sound silence of two passed out kids on the drive home.

The animals are fine, although the zoo is missing a couple of my favorites (what kind of zoo doesn't have elephants?!). Hands down, the best part of this zoo is the children's play area. I would pay the membership fees just to get year-round access to this playground.

To get the best bang for your buck: Park on Sloat Blvd. - NOT in the zoo parking. It is a short walk and it saves you $10-$12 (depending on when you go). If you live close enough to the zoo that you will go more than 3 times, get a membership. A basic family membership is $130, and single admission for adults is $19. Kids 3 and under are free, but if you've got a 4-year-old, you're going to spend $13 on admission for them. The basic family membership gives 2 adults and 3 children complete access for a year. If your kids are young enough to be free, this membership pays for itself by the fourth visit. If you have three kids over the age of four, the membership pays for itself by the second visit.

Helpful hints:

-You can make your membership for you and a "guest." This way you can save your sanity and bring a mom friend and her kid(s) for free.

-Your membership gives you discounts at all the stores and cafes in the zoo

-Your membership gives you discounted admission to over 100 zoos and aquariums nationwide.

The verdict: The San Francisco Zoo is a fabulous family activity and worth your time if you live in the Bay Area. If you're just visiting, I'd skip it.

Anyway, now that I've talked about all the logistics, I'll share some pictures from my mommy-daughter date with Elsie. She asked to go to the zoo, and it was great to spend some one-on-one time with her.

Time Flies

And just like that - Christmas is over.

It seems like it was just a couple weeks ago that I was sitting in my living room, looking at the mess around me, wondering how another Christmas had gone by, and it was almost 2016. This year has totally flown by, and I am feeling totally blind sided by the fact that it's going to be 2017 in less than a week.

I could talk about all the ways 2016 kicked my butt, but instead let's focus on happy things like Christmas! My in-laws came out to California to celebrate with us, and it was so wonderful to spend a few days with them. I've also decided that the best thing about Christmas these days is having kids and watching them get SO EXCITED about every present!! And shout out to Esther, who made our matching family jammies!! We were in such a rush to get to church that we didn't get a picture of everyone together, but I'll work on that.

Wedgies = Weapons of Mass Destruction

UGH. Today. Let me start with where it all went wrong. Side note: Nikki, if you're reading this, HI! I can't reply to your comments and I feel bad about that! :)

The moment my alarm went off at 7:45 am (yes, my kids sleep in past 8:00... sleep training works, people).

I got up, got myself ready, and then went in to wake up my sleeping monster devil child daughter. At first, it was great - she got out of bed, happy to be starting her day. She was pumped and excited for school. But then I did a horrible, terrible, no good, very bad thing.

I made her put on pants. 
It started with a whine, "But mom, there's wedgies in my pants!!"

Fine. I did what any loving mother would do - I picked my kid's underwear out of her butt.

"THERE'S STILL WEDGIES!!! I HATE THESE PANTS!!! STUPID PANTS!!!" as she rips them off and throws them against the wall. 
Okay, okay - so I got her another pair of pants, and it was like the freakin' twilight zone as she started screaming AGAIN.


I sighed, trying to keep my patience, and through gritted teeth in a not very nice voice, "It's not the pants, let's try a different pair of underwear, okay, sweetie?" In my mind I was thinking, Ohmyfreakinggosh I am going to kill someone. I wish I drank wine. Why are three-year-olds so damn crazy?!

We got her some new underwear and put her pants back on. Nope. Not happening. This time the screaming reached levels of epic proportions. Poor Callum was just sitting there watching everything go down, no doubt thinking, Women are psycho. Girls are psycho. I'm moving out as soon as I can wipe my own butt.

By this point, Elsie was lying on the floor of the bathroom, butt-naked, screaming something along the lines of "I JUST HATE WEDGIES, THEY ARE LITTLE MONSTERS IN MY UNDERWEAR MAKING MY BUTT ALL ITCHY. WEDGIES ARE SO DUMB, MY PANTS HAVE SO MANY WEDGIES! I DON'T WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL!!!"

I did what any mom would do at that point and stormed downstairs, got one of her Christmas presents, and threw it away (AKA the trunk of the car, not to be seen again until her birthday), all the while noting my every move in a very loud, "I just escaped from the psych ward" voice.

Let's just say that that certainly didn't help matters and, to put it nicely, s*** hit the fan and my kid went crazy. She proceeded to teepee the bathroom, throw all her clothes, and shriek like a banshee the whole time. That takes talent and dedication, you know.

Eventually everything got straightened out, my kid settled on a swimsuit for her day's wardrobe, and I decided two kids is more than enough.
Moral of the story: Wedgies ruin EVERYTHING.

A Christmas Gift to Myself

If you came to my house, you would automatically know that I am one of those people who LOVES having photos of my family up on my walls. Ya know, I'm a photographer and hound my clients to print their memories, so I think it would be a little hypocritical of me if I didn't print my own. 

As you looked at all of the pictures on our walls, though, you might wonder why there is only ONE of Mike and I. Well... it's been 6.5 years, and honestly, we've only got one photo of us that I feel is wall worthy. A couple of months ago, I found out that one of my favorite photographers was going to be in California for a few days and was scheduling sessions. I knew that I wanted her to do a session for Mike and I so that we would finally have good photos of us together, so I went ahead and gave myself a Christmas gift and scheduled a session with Five and Five Photography.

You guys. I am so in love with these photos. I look at them and I am so happy  that I can finally put together an heirloom album and get some prints for our walls. If you are in Idaho, I highly recommend hiring Krista - she is amazing! 

A Day in the Life

I know, I know - it's been a long time since I've written anything, and then here I am with two posts in as many days.

We moved to California from Utah in July, and our stuff took over two weeks to get to us. While we were waiting on basically all our earthly belongings, I decided to do a photo series of a day in the life. If you enjoy taking photos at all, I highly recommend doing "a day in the life" once every few months. I look back on these pictures from July and feel like my kids have already grown and changed so much, and I feel the need to do this again soon.
There's nothing exquisite or extraordinary about our lives - most of the time we stay at home, play with toys and the dog, watch TV, nap, eat dinner, do baths, and go to bed. But those mundane, ordinary, everyday activities are what make up our lives right now, and I think they are important things to document. Because while all the fun vacations, day trips, and play dates are wonderful things to have memories of, it's also important to document the time and events scattered among them.

And if you don't feel comfortable documenting your own day, you can hire me to do so. I love lifestyle photography!

Treat Yo' Self

So. If you know me, you know that I am a total advocate of moms taking time for themselves regularly, because if mama's gone crazy, well... then, heaven help us all. Or maybe that's just how it is in my house? Either way, I know that I personally need time to myself, and one of my favorite ways to escape the harsh realities of life is to head downstairs, lock myself in the bathroom, turn on the TV, and enjoy a nice warm bath while binge-watching my latest show on Netflix. An essential part of my bath-time routine is throwing a bath bomb into the tub.

Now, I love Lush as much as the next girl, but I have to admit that, since becoming a mom, I have a special place in my heart for other moms who bust their butts to help support their families. A lot of those moms sell handmade products to do so, and wouldn't ya know it - bath bombs are one of those things! So when I was asked by a friend to do a review of Bath Sorbet's bath products, I was so excited!
I received my box with two bath bombs (Frozen and Heavenly) and one bath truffle. I was so excited - these things were so pretty! Over the next week and a half, I used each product, and I have to tell you - I loved them!!
Now, I know some people might be like, "WTF is so great about a bath bomb? What is a bath bomb? What does a bath bomb do??" Well, let me change your life. HA! First of all, bath bombs are way fun to watch as they fizz and turn your bath water pretty colors, but that's not all they do.
Bath bombs are packed with lots of ingredients that are amazing for your skin. Every time I hop out of a bath where I've used a bath bomb, my skin is left feeling soft and silky smooth. If you love a little shimmer, some of Bath Sorbet's bath bombs even have a little glitter in them, so you'll walk away feeling like a superstar. In addition to leaving your skin ultra moisturized and soft, these puppies make your bathroom smell AH-MAZING.

So moral of the story is this - if you need some you time and you have a bathtub, head over to Bath Sorbet and get yourself some bath bombs! If you buy five or more, they are only $4 each, which is an amazing deal.