Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo

This is a well known hang out for parents of toddlers in the Bay Area. If you have a kid under the age of 5 you’ve probably been here, but it’s worth mentioning for the newly relocated.

The PA Jr. Museum is a small, hands on, interactive facility full of kid friendly exhibits. Alexander especially likes the “plink-o” boards, and the ball tubes. There is also an outdoor zoo with ducks, fish, birds, and bunnies to look at.

Admission is free, but they request a donation to help fund future projects.

Also, Rinconada Park is located right next to the museum...great spot for after visiting the Museum since they have a nice little play park and picnic tables.


Strollers, Strollers, Strollers

When you’re expecting a baby, and start doing the “gear” research, there is no hotter topic than which stroller to buy. For some reason buying a stroller can be a very personal experience. For many, a stroller not only is used for the function of rolling their little one around saving arms and backs from premature aging, but it’s also a way to express something about yourself. If you’re hip and cool you might have a sleek modern stroller with fresh colors, if you’re sporty - a stroller with all-terrain wheels, or if you’re Boho-chic maybe you have a vintage refurbished pram. Whichever way you go, lots of parents-to-be get really stressed out deciding just which one they’ll buy...

To start, I think it’s best to define what features are most important to you. If you live in a city, and want a light compact stroller that you can take up and down stairs easily, a heavy jogging stroller with full tilt suspension probably isn’t going to be your best bet. Also, do you want a stroller that has options for a newborn (full recline)? car seat compatibility? “grow-with-me”?

Second, what will you use it for? Will you use it for jogging? Will you be primarily in the city where size and weight is a huge factor? Will you have a giant-ass SUV and no budget to limit you? Or will you be using it as a second stroller for the grandparents to take Junior out for a stroll? And if you’re on your second child, and you’ve been through say 8 crappy strollers (no joke), it’s even more important to find the right one the first time.

Lastly, you need to set a budget...strollers can run from $14.99 to well over $1,000. Buying a poorly made stroller can end up costing you down the road (I know!), so best bet is to buy a quality one. Quality doesn’t have to mean pricey, either. Resale value is also something to keep in mind if you have a little one who ends up rejecting his/her ride earlier than expected.

I currently have two strollers. The first I bought was a Silver Cross Mini when our older son was 3, and we’d decimated 7 pervious strollers (yes, seriously, it was tragic). The fam and I were living in the city of Portland, and since he was no longer a baby I needed something compact, easy for him to get in and out of, and sturdy. I went with Silver Cross for a few reasons: the company has been established for over 100 years. Any company that’s been around making reputable products for that long must be doing something right. They offered more features for less money than a similarly equipped Maclaren Volo. And English Royals use them...dude, need I say more? The Mini lived up to all of our expectations...it had a decent sized cargo compartment for an umbrella stroller, full suspension (which was nice when getting on and off the train), came with a sun canopy, and had a nifty seat recline. Silver Cross doesn’t make the Mini anymore, but they did come out with a new line of strollers. The Pop is comparable to what we have now...only with better colors and removable, washable fabric! Still, about 4 years, 30 plane trips, 175 naps, and 1,000 errands later the Silver Cross is going strong!

Our second stroller came along with the second child. I researched a lot, and after seriously considering a Mutsy, we settled on it’s Dutch counterpart - a Bugaboo Cameleon. The husband liked it’s clean Euro lines, and easy maneuverability from the city to the park. I appreciated it’s bassinet, car seat adapter, and multi-function recline options. It has all the bells and whistles of a high end stroller like rugged, all terrain wheels and suspension which makes walking up on the trail behind our house pleasant, and trips to the Oregon wilderness bearable (yes, the in-laws live in the middle of nowhere...it’s awesome). Also, Bugaboo has a variety of great accessories like an obligatory foot-muff for the aforementioned Oregon trips and winter holidays back East. My only complaint is lack of snack tray (it's an American thing, I guess).

Never the less, there are TONS of great stroller options out there to meet all kinds of needs. I wish I was able to test them all out!

You can find Silver Cross prams and push-chairs at Baby Alula in Oakland, Baby Couture in Burlingame, and Talbot’s in San Mateo.

You can find Bugaboo strollers just about everywhere now, even Babies R Us!


Oopa Baby Slings

When I first found out I was pregnant there was only ONE thing that I told my husband I absolutely HAD to have...and that was this sling. Oopa slings are absolutely gorgeous, hand made out of the most luxurious materials, and have beautiful patterns and colors to choose from. There is also a generously-sized zippered pocked sewn into the tail to make holding your keys, phone, wallet, etc convenient. Being rather short myself, I opted for the “petite” size which was wonderful since most ring slings are made for woman of average height (You know you’re not average height when the tail drags behind you like Linus’ blanket).

A year and a half later...the thing is still going strong and looks brand new (and washes awesome in the machine)! I still use it on impromptu errands where I’ve forgotten the shoes and I am too lazy to drag out the stroller..which happens a lot, actually.

Due Maternity on California in San Francisco has them in stock, or you can order directly from Oopa’s website.

Boing, Boing - Sky High Sports

It’s getting cooler here in the Bay Area..and finding more indoor activities was a big priority for me this past month. There is a indoor trampoline complex in Santa Clara called Sky High Sports that fulfilled all of the requirements I was looking for (indoors, fun, and affordable). Alexander had a blast bouncing on the trampolines, jumping in the foam pit, and playing with the dodge-balls during their Monday Toddler Jump from 12-2pm. Yes, the place smells like gym socks, and yes, it’s during core nap-hours which I found a bit aggravating, but there is nothing quite like the joy of an exhausted toddler and 3 hours to yourself when he finally crashes.

Sky High also has an evening Tues/Thurs class called AIRorobics for adults...sounds like quite the workout!


Baby Ankle Bangles

I don’t like to admit it, but I see a celebrity and they have such a lovely accessory on their kid, and I can’t help but be compelled to buy it. This was one such purchase. Above are sterling silver ankle bangles. They have two little bells that are soldered on to an adjustable ring...so when your little one starts walking you hear a faint little jingle. They are very popular with Asian cultures so I wouldn't be surprised if you could find them in a upscale Asian or Indian jewelry shop.

I have no idea where you might find them in the Bay Area...I bought mine off eBay for about $10. baby emi also has beautiful heirloom quality versions of them, but they are a bit pricier.