LEGO-cy Exhibit

Ever year, the Bay Area Lego Users Group puts together an exhibit at the Museum of American Heritage in Palo Alto. Any budding builder is bound to LOVE this moving, brick creation! A whole scene is created out of legos by members from age pre-school all the way up to grandparents!

Admission is $2. The event opens December 11th (Friday, Sat, Sun) and runs through Jan 17th of next year.


Beautifull Event

Photo from Beautifull website

Today, November 18th, Beautifull is hosting a "Nutrition for Pregnancy" series going in the Laurel Village from 7:00-8pm. Director of Nutrion, Lisa Sawrey-Kubicek, MS, RD, is going to speak about maintaining a healthy body during pregnancy! There's contest prizes, appetizers, and other goodies that will be available to all you expecting mommies out there in the Bay Area. Might be a good way to meet other prospective play date buddies, too!

Located at 3401 California Street, San Francisco, CA 94118. You can RSVP by calling (415) 738-9080.

P.S. - They have frozen yogurt! That would have sealed the deal for me...


Do you have a color-coded life?

Yes, I'm nuts. I know this, but not for the reason you'd think...

This is the ONLY way to organize all the things in my life. I used to write everything down on little scraps of paper and leave them all over the house. I still do this to some extent (much to my husband's chagrin), but I've massively consolidated over the years. From tutoring sessions to dentist appointments I needed a way to organize it all, and a way to have it with me at all times. Thankfully iCal syncs up with my phone and back again to my computer so I always have an updated copy of what is going on and when and where I'm supposed to be.

Still, I realize I look like a complete OCD nut when you see the picture. Seriously, if you saw my desk you'd know this is not the case ;0)


For the Eloise in All of Us...

I'm in Pittsburgh, PA right now visiting my family, and met a friend for High Tea at the Omni William Penn hotel. Coincidentally, this is also the place where I had my wedding reception, but hadn't been back in 6 years! We had so much fun. You can read about it here.

Anyway, it got me thinking that High Tea would be a super fun thing to do with any little kid who's into Eloise. And you know, you don't have to go to the Plaza to partake! Spurred on by my love of fine dining, or drinking as it were, I decided to investigate some kid-friendly places to do High Tea in the Bay Area.

Here's the list!

Lovejoy's Tea Room (San Francisco) - One of the best and most well known spots for High Tea.
Secret Garden Tea House (San Francisco) - Another tea lover favorite.
The Terrace at the Ritz-Carlton (San Francisco) - High class tea time.
The Rotunda (San Francisco) - Do some shopping at Neiman's then freshen-up with some tea.
Laurel Court at the Fairmont (San Francisco) - Opulent surroundings!
Lisa's Tea Treasures (Menlo Park, San Jose, Campbell) Victorian, frilly, girly tea! They do party bookings, too.
The English Rose (San Carlos) - Nice, homey, traditional English Tea service
High Tea at the Fairmont (San Jose) - Specialty kid's menu is especially cute!


Why you have to have a Mac when you travel...

Alexi and I are currently in Pennsylvania visiting family. Math and The Hubs stayed behind since they both had school and work. I took my MacBook with built in iSight with us, and we were able to use iChat video conferencing to talk about our day and say our goodnights. Alexi's favorite part was when his dad and brother superimposed themselves into an aquarium and did a bunch of other zany special effects for his benefit :0)

We Made It!!!


Don't Eat the Marshmallow!

This is by far one of my favorite lectures this year. Joachim de Posada explains the importance of self-control and life-long success. The little kids are pretty adorable, too ;0)

Check it out!


I'm going on a trip, and with me I'm takin'...

  • 1 toddler (2.4 year old, 36-pound body of pure obstinate bliss)
  • 1 stuffed panda
  • 1 ultra-light FAA approved booster carseat with restraint system (I checked out the CARES restraint but it's not 5 point)
  • 1 Cheeky Monkey Pac Back
  • 1 fully loaded 64 GB, 6 hour run time iPod Touch with protective cover and headphones
  • 1 Silver Cross Mini pushchair (to be checked at gate)
  • 1 Patemm pad (airplane bathrooms are gross)
  • 1 spill proof sippy cup
  • 1 backpack stuffed to the hilt with wrapped, inexpensive treats, toys, and distractions.
  • 2 Pre-filled Children's Benadryl packets (don't judge, it works for us), and a pack of Hyland's Calms Forte.
  • 1 mini first aid kit (band aids, Tylenol, a few horse tranquilizers for myself)
  • 2 plastic bags (vomit happens)
  • 2 change of clothes (again, vomit happens)
  • 3 magazines for me (it might happen, or at the very least he can rip them to shreds...might provide 10 minutes of fun)
  • 5 organic lollipops
  • 10 diapers and full pack of wipes (because you never know how many you'll need)
  • Various snacks and pre-packaged favorite foods
  • Cash


Halloween Fiesta!

Our friends threw a Halloween birthday party last weekend for their son who was born on October 31st! The kids all dressed up in their costumes, and we ate some pretty incredible paella, too! :0)


It's on! I'm lucky enough to count myself as one of the Trekaroo contributors for SuiteTrip.com. Fellow Treakroo writer, Esther Lee, and I join an awesome group of writers: Beth Blair, Jennifer Miner, and Kara Williams (The Vacation Gals), Grant Martin and Scott Carmichael (Gadling), Lisa McElroy (Suite Living), and fellow Bay Area Mom, Jamie Pearson of (Travel Savvy Mom).

Today SuiteTrip launched their site for all the world to see. Under the umbrella of Homewood Suites Hilton, the site allows you to check out awesome travel tips like budget vacations, family friendly destination spots, and what to pack!


Parent Dish Daily Cuties

I got a message from a friend on Facebook today informing me she saw my kids featured as the "Daily Cutie" on Parentdish.com today!

Makes me happy since I love this photo :0)


Alexander Peers Park

Our family has really come to enjoy Alexander Peers Park. Having two kids that are very spread out in age (6 years) there's something for both of them to enjoy, and plenty of shade for us parental units. There are several tennis courts, a wide open space for running, and a really cool rock-form play structure. It's also set back from the street, and is along the train line. Every now and then you get an opportunity to point and hear the Caltrain whoosh by!


Oregon Shakespeare Festival

We went to Ashland, Oregon last weekend for our annual meet up with family, and to catch a few plays. If you've got yourself a budding thespian (and we do), don't miss an opportunity to partake in some incredible shows! Ashland is located about 6 hours north of here in a tiny hamlet town that's reminiscent of an Old World society full of scholars and poets (and there are troubadours!). It's also worth mentioning the killer coffee shops, the great dining options, fantasy stores, hiking trails, and parks.

Lilith Park
OSF plays 9 months of the year, and boasts one of the largest repertories in the country. They bring in notable actors and artists from all around, and were even written up in NY Times this year!

There are several different theaters including an outdoor venue. It's so wonderful to drink mulled wine under the stars listening to iambic pentameter lilt away. Insanely enough, the kids pick up on it pretty quickly, and the actors are typically very physical with lots of gestures and body language. The minimum age to see a play is 6. Every year there are several family friendly plays and musicals both by Shakespeare and other notable writers. This year we saw Much Ado about Nothing, Don Quixote, and Music Man. If you have other younger ones and no one to watch the kids there are reputable daycare providers available (and pet sitters that will massage and walk fido, too, go figure).

The nicest thing about OSF is most of the actors in the company are down to earth, friendly, and typically live in town. Last year, we took the backstage tour and were guided by one of the leads from the show we saw the previous night! Matthew thought that was totally cool! We learned about how sets were designed, and how costumes are made. We even hung out in the green room, and learned more about life as a new actor!

Mark Bredard, our tour guide and principle actor
Can't make it up to Oregon? Arrange for OSF to come to your child's school! The company has a visit program that will work directly with your curriculum and teacher to bring Shakespeare to your young ones in a fun and dynamic way.


"My Son is Inigo Montoya...Prepare to Die"

My son started fencing this year. Surprise, surprise...he LOVES it.

We signed up for classes at the new Jewish Community Center in Palo Alto. No, we're not Jewish, but the facility is very friendly and welcoming to all interested parties. The staff was super helpful in getting us all set-up even though the center hadn't officially opened yet, and they were super nice about my crazy kids running around like they owned the joint. The facility is state-of-the-art, eco-friendly, and very fabulous. Alexi can run around out in the courtyard while Math's in his class. As long as the weather holds out it's a win-win.

The class itself is wonderful! The teachers are very, very thorough and encouraging. They kids are all very collaborative, and advise each other. I love that the older boys mentor the younger ones. There is a huge amount of etiquette involved, and I appreciate that the game melds competitiveness and good sportsmanship together. And, of course, there are swords, right? What's better than that?


Samuraí Exhibit

Yesterday was the last day of the San Francisco Asian Art Museum's Samuraí exhibit. So cool! We both learned tons of stuff and took in the glorious sunny weather. While the Samuri exhibit is no longer going on, the museum itself is chock full of intersting art, programs, and resources. Not to mention it's in a gorgeous building full of amazing architecture at every turn.

My older son and I have been exploring what it means to be Asian, or in his case half Asian, together. I'm adopted and growing up I didn't really think much about what it means to be Asian. I grew up in an Irish Catholic family and was loved and happy...really it didn't occur to me to question my cultural identity till I had kids of my own.

I've explained to my son for awhile now that he is half Korean and half Caucasian, and he is also adopted and he is also American. He's more obsessed with making time travel happen at the moment so this isn't a subject that comes up often. Again, yesterday we talked about how he was of Asian decent and how the cultures and foods and folkways and mores are different than the ones he's grown up with. He seemed to think the whole thing was pretty cool since, in his mind, being Asian makes him half ninja warrior...okay, kid, okay.


Pizza Antica

We were at Santana Row and went to Pizza Antica for dinner the other night. The kids love this place and so do we for several reasons:

1. Call ahead seating up to a half hour in advance. If we know we're on our way here for dinner we call ahead and put our name on the list...it shaves off wait time by a good 20 minutes!

2. The kid food is good! Math scarfs down their spaghetti every time, and for him that's saying something (boy is the pickiest eater alive).

3. Affordable prices as far as Santana Row dining goes.

4. Kid friendly environment. There are lots of families who eat here, so you don't feel like you're ruining anyone's nice meal out. The open room makes for noisy acoustics, but really if you're kid throws out the occasional screech no one's going to bat an eye. There's also outdoor seating if you're in the mood for alfresco dining.

Really, what's not to like?

101st Post

I just blew by my 100th post and didn't even realize it! Feels good, though :0)



Last week the kids and I had the incredible opportunity to check out Zeum located in downtown San Francisco. Joy Daniels, the PR and Marketing manager of Zeum, invited us for a personal tour and, being the last week before school started, we gladly took her up on the offer.

First off, I can't believe I never knew about Zeum. It's a multimedia, art-integrated museum located just behind the Carousel. The Carousel, oddly enough, almost EVERYONE knows about. I did a little back-research on the place before I decided to take Alexi with me. A few people mentioned it was mostly geared for older kids. I also looked at the website and it seems that way as well, though it did mention a toddler zone. Well, just for the record, Alexi went and he had a blast!

We arrived and Joy met us at the entrance. We hit it off immediately, and I can honestly say I'd enjoy hanging out with her without the kids anytime! She was friendly and easy to talk to, and the conversation was fresh and engaging. She told me a lot about the museum and how it offers many cool programs including apprenticeships for high schoolers, birthday parties and field trips. The field trips sounded the most amazing to me! A professional educator collaborates with your teacher before the field trip to create a visit that will integrate with the class' current curriculum or study theme. How cool is that?

The whole downstairs was completely "touchable" for Alexi and Matthew, my 8 year old. When we first rounded the corner there was a green screen play structure with slide (this is where Alexi spent the majority of his time). A special camera loaded with some nifty software superimposed my tot onto a computer screen of fiery flames...that'll teach him next time he misbehaves! Math ran in the other direction toward the nearest computer monitor and set to work. I didn't see him again for another 30 minutes. The whole downstairs floor was pretty open so I could see both kids as they ran around and explored the puppet theater, dress up station, and block building space. Matthew eventually set up shop in the Animators Studio and didn't come out for over an hour.

The Animators Studio was something most kids don't get to see or experience till their first year of film school. There were tables of tools and "gut clay," or trash clay, that Math used to flesh out his designs over wire frames. Then he was given more expensive, colored clay to "skin" his creations. Math decided to make a scary flying ghost so the animator assistant provided him with some fishing line (hey, they thought of everything). After he'd made his ghosts, he chose a set complete with model ghost house and backdrop. A mounted camera was connected to a computer with iStopMotion software, which was pretty easy and intuitive to use. After some simple instructions he put together the short clip that's shown at the bottom of this post. They e-mailed me the clip before we left. All tolled the whole process took about an hour start to finish...and he was totally engrossed the whole time. Kid was on fire, he was so interested and excited!

There were a ton more things to explore at Zeum (a music production lab where you can make your own rock video, a multimedia lab, and lots more). If we'd had the time (and Alexi hadn't hit his breaking point...you see, he needs to eat a lot) we'd have stayed another 3 million hours, I'm sure. While there were a lot of things for the big kids to do, I have to say, Alexi had his fair share of things to play with, too. I'm glad I brought him.

After we left the Zeum, we checked out their store (hey, it's hard to resist). We picked up some great birthday gifts for some upcoming parties that weekend. Then, as luck would have it, the Metreon was right across the street. We had ourselves a wonderful lunch at our favorite Pizza joint, and then took a ride on the Carousel before heading home. In all, a very fun day in The City!

Zeum Claymation Short made by my 8 year old



Next Wednesday, 9-09-09, join in the fun and a help a great cause at Baby Buzz downtown in Willow Glen. A couple months ago I attended one of these events thrown by Karen and Sarah, and it was so fun! Help A Mother Out is a non-profit organization that provides diapers to families in need. Do a little shopping while you check out the cool digs, and partake in some food and prizes. Enjoy a little discount from the store when you contribute some diapers, and show your kids what it means to help other moms and kids out in a fresh, fun way! The event is located at 1314 Lincoln Ave, San Jose, 95126 and is from 3-6PM.


Natural Light Photography

Apeture f/2.2, 1/200, ISO 800, 50mm fixed.

I'm still dabbling in the whole photography thing. I'm really concentrating on tweaking natural light to work to my advantage and trying not to get lured in by softboxes and strobes... I went out of my comfort range and bumped up my ISO to 800...not bad, eh?


Ulistac Natural Area

Right behind my neighborhood is a nature preserve that runs along the Guadalupe River and trail. It's called Ulistac Natural Area and it's home to several different types of habitats and multiple forms of wildlife. Today a bunch of us took a walk over with the kids and set down a few picnic blankets under the foliage. We had ourselves lunch, and the kids went on their own adventure running around picking up sticks and hunting for bobcats and snakes (none of which they encountered thank goodness!).

Along the trails are informative plaques about the native wildlife and vegetation. On past days we've seen jackrabbits, foxes, bunnies, and various birds. On some weekends there are park events such as art exhibits and nature talks, too! There are no picnic tables (we just sat on the ground...don't forget to bring a trash bag!), but Lick Mill Park is also located directly across the street with a playstructure, bathrooms, and tables, too.

In all a nice place to visit when you've got a house full of antsy kids and nowhere to go.


DeYoung Museum: King Tut Exhibit

Yesterday some friends and I took our kids to the de Young Fine Art Museum in San Francisco to see the traveling King Tut Exhibit.

I pre-paid our tickets using Ticketmaster, and it paid off (no pun intended) I'd spent the extra $2.50 to print them immediately. The line to even gather your paid tickets looked rather daunting. I got a discount by paying with my American Express, but I saw that Costco was also selling packaged tickets including the audio tour. Kids under 6 are free.

The big kids all really enjoyed the exhibit. I felt a little bad that my older son would have liked to spend a lot more time in there, but there was not much in the way of distractions for Alexi (2). He liked looking at the boats and pointed out the birds and shapes and animals he recognized, but he grew bored very quickly. It's a good thing there were a bunch of us so we could divide and conquer. I can say all the kids thoroughly enjoyed the gift-shop at the end, though. There was also a kiosk where the kids printed out their names in hieroglyphics, too.

After our educational excursion we headed to the cafe for lunch. I'm always pleased with the food, and they added a fantastic infused water stand that really made me giddy!

And after lunch we spent a few hours chilling in the sculpture yard while the kids ran around and played. A great day!


Almaden Lake Park...

The summers of my childhood were on a military base beachfront on Seneca Lake in up-state New York. It didn't have nice sand, or cabanas, or even a snack shop....heck, I don't even think we had a lifeguard. We were forced into hideously colored water shoes to keep us from slipping on slime covered rocks and from slicing our feet open on broken glass. But, we had a dock to jump off, and an endless supply of Kool-Aid Squeeze-Its (ironically because my mom didn't allow us soda due to a belief it contained too much sugar) so life was pretty good.

Fast forward 20 years. Wanna relive that summer by the lake feel, but without the broken glass and the added bonus of an on-duty lifeguard? Try out Almaden Lake Park! I was pleasantly surprised that it still retained a lot of lake feel (and smell) of yesteryear. A mere 15 minutes away from my home, within the confines of a local suburban park, lay an oasis of sorts. There were ducks and geese swimming around, you could rent paddle boats by the hour, and the sand floor reached out to the roped off area. No slimy rocks! The lake was regularly tested for safe swimming conditions (I swam in toxic dump drainage as a kid so I figure anything is better than that, but hey, it might be important to some people). There was also a nearby snack hut, and a water park for those too squeamish to swim with the fishes.

In any case, we had a great time, and I'd recommend it to anyone looking to enjoy some lake adventures for just the day.

There is a minimal parking and swim fee so don't forget to bring some cash.


Back to School Clothes...

Okay, so the older son is now 8. He's small for his age so the big kid clothes at Abercrombie Kids don't quite fit yet, but the clothes at Gymboree and Janie and Jack look too babyish. Any suggestions on fresh kid clothes for the in between years?


Back to School Book Bag...

Math starts his new school September 1st so we're on the look-out for back to school paraphernalia. One of the requirements is each student must have a laptop so I've been searching for a new backpack. Math's not a big kid so it can't be overly cumbersome, and he wants it to be cool looking.

Here's some ideas thus far:

This JCrew one is by far my favorite. Math has a whole Indiana Jones thing going so this would fit nicely.
The Chrome Mini-Metro has a cool belt buckle strap.

Lacoste makes a nice looking messenger bag.


The Counter

Last night we hit up The Counter for dinner. They have two locations Bay Area, one in Palo Alto and the other at Santana Row. It's a gourmet burger joint, but it's still a very family friendly spot. The Counter at Santana Row is located right across from a gated tot lot, and it makes for easy waiting during busy times. The restaurant is always a little on the noisy side and always chock full of families with young kids.

I've got to say The Counter's food is consistently tasty. The burgers are pretty good (you create your own by checking off a list of selections). The onion strings are out of this world! I'd definitely recommend getting the 3x3. It comes with onion strings, potato fries, and sweet potato fries...a little bit of everything plus a bunch of dipping sauces. Waitstaff tends to be a little hit or miss, but really it doesn't stop us from coming back again and again.


Dinner Club

If you love food and aren't part of a Dinner Club you should join or start one immediately. Here's why:
  • It's a great way to meet new people
  • New recipe ideas are never a bad thing
  • You get to experience new foods you might not otherwise try or run across
  • It's a good way to get some "me" time away from the kids
  • It'll inspire you to get creative
  • It's a ton of fun
I like to meet new people. I especially like to meet people who aren't just like me and don't think just like me. Or maybe I hang out with other people who also enjoy hanging out with people unlike themselves...in which case then I do like to be with people just like me. Maybe it's because I know and am happy with who I am. Or maybe it's because I don't and I'm not. I'm not really sure which, but I still like meeting new people regardless. *shrug*

I started a book club several years back, and it's taken off in many ways. We have a diverse group of smart and insightful women who return month after month to discuss life with kids, relationships, politics and religion, which leading man of the hour looks the hottest with his shirt off, gripes, and hopes for the future. Sparked by books that have made us horrified, dreamy, angry, or blissfully haunted we've shared tears and laughs and our most embarrassing moments enveloped by a supportive and warm environment. Oh, we cover it all in our beautifully open minded, fun-loving forum. So far it's been free from insincerity or designs. It's great! It's almost Utopian really...

Anyway, one thing we do to make things interesting is try to bring a potluck item that coincides with the theme of the book we've read (i.e. Suite Française: French food, French wine, French fries...just kidding...no one brought French fries). The gastronomic portion of the evening is one most of us look forward to the most. And while I won't ever give up Book Club I did think it'd be fun to have food be the main event.

This year one of my New Year Goals was to start a Dinner Club because I am a glutton for punishment (I love to cook and eat, and it's taking a toll on my middle regions). I sent out a post into our neighborhood moms group and told anyone who liked to cook and/or eat to contact me. I got a great response back, and we formed a group that would prepare and enjoy foods based on our pre-determined themes once a month.

First, we picked 11 themes for the year so everyone would know ahead. Some themes for this year were Budget Meals, International Tapas, 30 minute meals with 5 ingredients or less. And the whole thing has been fantastic. Again, much like book club it's full of diverse women from diverse cultures and backgrounds with diverse opinions. The one thing that brings us all together each month is a mutual love of food and cooking.

Last weekend we decided to share the fun with our families and had a kid themed (Camp Food) get together for the members of our family that have only heard in whispers of the good time they're missing out on. A member pitched a few tents in her garage and backyard, and her hubby made a campfire complete with s'more fixings. Here's some photos from the night:


We're on Vacation!

Check out our current adventures on my personal blog :0)


Help A Mother Out at Baby Buzz

Yesterday was a very long day, but one of the highlights was a diaper drive hosted by Baby Buzz in Willow Glen through the organization Help a Mother Out. Help a Mother Out is a non-profit that collects and distributes diapers to families in need. I found out about it via Twitter and fellow tweep, Sarah. Karen, the owner of Baby Buzz, was also on hand to host the festivities.

I grabbed the rest of Alexi's diaper stash and we headed out for a day on the town. By the time we got to Baby Buzz I was burnt out from a long day. But Sarah and Karen were two laid back friendly ladies! They offloaded the diapers, gave the boys a snack, and poured me a nice glass of wine. Hello? Can we say new best friends to moms everywhere?

I thoroughly enjoyed my little rest, and explored the glorious store. I picked up a beautiful shower gift, and a really cool water bottle for Math. Before we left we got to witness an amazing surprise! The goal of the evening had been to hit 1,000 diapers. The Willow Glen branch from Valley Credit Union apparently got wind of this over Twitter and walked in with over 1,000 diapers! Totally unexpected, and a very ecstatic Sarah was overjoyed. It was a great night!

Just goes to show the power of cool people, and a little Twitter action, goes a long way for a great cause :0)