Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Kissing Under The Mistletoe

San Francisco is not exactly a bastion of holiday spirit. The city is mostly devoid of tradition since it is a fairly new city with über-liberal non-sectarian tendencies. It's also transient and becomes quiet during holidays when everyone goes back "home". But every once in a while you see something unexpected that reminds you that the holiday spirit is indeed alive. Someone has been stringing mistletoe above the crosswalk at random intersections in our neighborhood. This is taken a couple of blocks from home, near the Mission Dolores church (historical fact: the oldest structure in San Francisco, it survived the great earthquake and fire of 1906 which leveled the city).


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Santa Tracking Command Center

Q: What does Santa and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) have in common?

A: NORAD provides exclusive coverage of Santa's journey as he makes deliveries around the globe!

This very cool website makes it easy for those-of-us-who-believe to track Santa and his reindeer (including Rudolph) as they criss-crosses their way around the world delivering presents from the North Pole, past the Eiffel Tower, Golden Gate Bridge, Taj Mahal, and beyond.

NORAD has been providing this service for over fifty years and is staffed by volunteers each Christmas Eve who give us high-tech and low-tech options for tracking Santa as soon as he leaves the North Pole:
  • download Google Earth (free) and find Santa and crew in 3D
  • visit the website for tracking updates
  • email the Command Center for Santa's logistics
  • or even call the Center to speak with a rep for an instant update on Santa's global whereabouts
How in the world do they manage to track Santa so closely, you ask? With radar, satellite Santa-cams, and heat-seeking infrared technology (thanks to Rudolph's nose) of course.

CLICK HERE to find out more on NORAD's Santa Track website. Be sure to check out the service's history and FAQs.

Smells like a new Christmas tradition.

Sketchy Santas

We recently took Jack to Santa's Village at Macy's to have his first picture taken with Santa. Jack is a pretty sociable little guy so he didn't cry or make a fuss, but he did have a healthy dose of wariness about being plopped on the lap of a stranger with a white beard, on a throne, under hot halogens.

There's something hilarious to me about our tradition of obviously contrived pictures with Santa.

That's why I found so funny.

You won't find Jack's picture there - well, not this year at least.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Oh What A Wonderful Year

This was a wonderful year for us with lots of memories. Jack entered our life and we had a houseful of visitors to welcome him including Grandparents Lola, Jimmy, Pat and Ed, and Cousin Peggi. Stella turned 1 this year. And we travelled to Alaska for a family wedding, to Portland Oregon to see the West Coast grandparents, and we are off to Boston and Maine next week to see the East Coast grandparents, more family, and several friends.

Here's a glance back at 2009.

BEFORE YOU HIT PLAY: make sure your volume is up

HIT PLAY, THEN: click the link to "Full Screen" to get the biggest and best view

- click any picture at any time to enlarge it (and click again to return it to its original size)
- there are videos, so click "Play" wherever you see it

Happy Holidays Everyone - peace and love.

Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook: Greetings from Mindy, Tom, Jack, & Stella

Create your own scrapbook - Powered by Smilebox

Make a Smilebox scrapbook

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Standing and Crawling, Oh My!

Jack has been standing with increasing agility for some time now. He can pull himself up to standing from a seated position and slowly cruise along furniture.

In the past few weeks, he has been scooting around on his tummy - imagine GI Joe style, but backwards and in circles. He was able to get himself to his knees but only rock back and forth. Yesterday, he decided to put it all together and crawl. Slowly, but surely and unmistakably. Uh oh. I guess you can only procrastinate on childproofing for so long.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

For the past several years my friend, Nancy, and I have had a tradition of getting together for Holiday tea. It's our time to take a break from our busy lives, catch up, and usher in the holidays under twinkling trees and wreaths and holiday music playing in the background. We talk leisurely over steeping pots of tea and enjoy little scones, devonshire cream and lemon curd, tiny slices of sandwiches, and bite-sized pastries.

Nancy now has a 16 month old son, Cillian, and this is Jack's first Christmas (he's now 9 months) so we decided it would be fun to do a Teddy Bear Tea this year and extend our tradition to include the kiddies.

I bundled up Jack in his festive holiday finest (thanks to cousin Kerrie and family for the adorable outfit!) and headed out.

When we arrived, we found big Teddy bears and balloons at each table awaiting us. Along with the requisite assortment of tiny tea sandwiches of lox and cucumbers for us, there was a plate of PB&J tea sandwiches, teddy bear cookies, and the like for the kids. Sitting next to our cheesecloth-wrapped lemon for our tea was a cup of marshmallows for the kids' cocoa.

Soon a life-size Teddy and Binky The Elf entered and put on a show for the kids and provided photo-ops.

Like everything in life now that we've entered motherhood, our Tea this year wasn't quite as relaxing and leisurely as it had been in previous years. Cillian was initially spooked by Teddy and Binky The Elf and had Nancy chasing after him. Jack wanted to pick up everything and put it in his mouth, and was squirmy and wanted out of his highchair most of the time. Both wanted a nap.

Still, our tradition lives on and the holidays are always more fun when surrounded by friends (old and big, and new and little).

CLICK HERE for more pictures of our fun day.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Me and My Doggie

This is boring. What's over there?

Doggie! Hello Doggie.

Hey, are you awake?

Let's play!

You're my best friend.

What's So Funny?

Jack's funny bone was tickled when Stella started jumping for her bone in Tom's hand. Click the video below for Jack's big giggles.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Man in the Mirror

Fall Into Winter

On a recent Indian Summer day, I packed up Jack and Stella and went to Crissy Field to enjoy the day by the Bay.

It was a beautiful cool day with strong sun and blue skies.

Jack had his lunch al fresco, Stella got a few tosses of the Frisbee, and Mom reveled in another day filled with play and without work realizing that those days are numbered, sigh!

Golden Gate Bridge

Stella has plenty of room to romp

Finding space in the shade

When we arrived home, we discovered a package from Lola - a snowsuit for our upcoming trip to Boston and Maine over the holidays. Hopefully we'll get lucky and there will be a little snow with that snowsuit when we get back East! We're hanging onto the last of our Indian Summer days, but Fall is quickly turning into Winter. Jack's new snowsuit is going to keep him cozy on our upcoming trip to Portland, OR in a couple of weeks and on those brisk San Francisco nights that are just around the corner.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Baby Smash

Mindy's cousin Peggi turned us onto a free program called Baby Smash that allows your little one to get his computer on while protecting your files and settings.

Launch the app and every click of the keyboard or swipe of the touchpad will make a letter, number, or colored shape appear that giggles or talks.

It's not easy for baby to exit Baby Smash either without pressing a combination of keys - pressing ALT-F4 will exit the application and Shift-Ctrl-Alt-O brings up the options dialog.

It's Jack tested and approved!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Photoshop for the iPhone

You know how we wonder what life was like before the Internet? That's how we feel about the iPhone. How did we ever live without 24/7 access to the Internet, our entire music collection, GPS, a camera, news and brain games at a click, and oh yeah the phone - all in my wallet.

The stellar feature of the iPhone is its "apps" or applications. Small downloadable programs that allow you to do everything from reading books on your phone to identifying that song playing in the background that you know you know but can't remember. Now there's a new (and free!) app on the block, Photoshop Mobile.

With PS Mobile, you can take a picture and crop it, adjust its color, or apply effects (like making it black and white, adding a border, fuzzing it around the edges, adding text, etc.). Then, you can store them on the Photoshop website and share.

For example, here's my original picture taken with the iPhone:

With a couple of quick swipes and drags of the finger using PS Mobile, you can crop it, blur it, and add effects:

CLICK HERE for more examples.

Now, if only there was an iPhone app that gives me more time in the day.


Here's our typical weekend: get up by 7am, feed and change Jack. The couple of places that are open for breakfast will open at 8am so we have time to work up an appetite. One benefit of waking up so early with Jack now is that we get to the dog park before most of the city is awake. (We can't believe that Stella can jump her 53 lbs into the air like that either :)

Stella lounging - after a big romp in the park.

Jack lounging - after a big meal.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Nursery University

Jack is only 8 months old, but the topic of preschool/nursery school was surfaced several months ago. Are we behind? We wonder if we should have listened and submitted applications for Jack in utero. What can we really afford? What philosophy do we subscribe to - Montessori, Waldorf, Reggio Emilia, etc.? And how do we know what is the best "fit" for Jack in another year and a half?

We recently rented a movie called "Nursery University". It didn't answer any of those preparatory pre-application questions on our mind, but it did provide an amusing look at the subsequent preschool admissions process.

The film follows several anxious families with different ethnic and economic backgrounds all vying for one of the coveted spots in NYC's elite private preschools that command up to $20,000 per semester. Viewers also gain behind-the-scenes access to the preschool directors and staff that must deal with the anxious parents and their blatant suck-ups before making the tough decision of who's in and who's out.

The scene is set: since 9/11 there has been a baby explosion in NYC that has resultantly heightened the über-competitive preschool admission process which easily has dozens of applications for each spot at top schools.

Cue parents who stress over obtaining an application (parents frantically speed dial as a finite number of applications are only provided via a phone request, one day a year, for two hours), filling out the application (striving for the right words with the help of a thesaurus), participating in the stressful parent interview, and restraining themselves on the sidelines during child "playdates" at the preschool where their children are observed.

Some get into their preschool of choice, some don't, and we're there for the reveal.

The movie challenges our belief that the path to the Ivy's can be traced back to the "right" preschool which feeds into the "right" kindergarten, elementary, and high school. Wherever you fall on that debate, every parent will see themselves in this movie where we follow parents who desperately want to provide the best opportunities for their kids -- what parenting is all about after all.

CLICK BELOW for the movie trailer.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Jack's First Halloween

UPDATE 11/4/09:

There are many things to love about San Francisco and one of the things we love is its diversity. We live in between the Castro and the Mission districts which are two lively neighborhoods that ensure there is always something interesting going on.

On the day before Halloween, we took advantage of the unique opportunities our fair city has to offer and headed over to the Castro for its annual Monster Mash hosted by The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

The Sisters are a gay "order" that were founded in San Francisco in 1979. You can't miss them in their drag with meticulously applied white faces and elaborate makeup. They often host community events and as their website explains, the Sisters have devoted themselves to "promoting human rights, respect for diversity and spiritual enlightenment. We believe all people have a right to express their unique joy and beauty and we use humor and irreverent wit to expose the forces of bigotry, complacency and guilt that chain the human spirit.”

The Monster Mash was a success. Jack sat fascinated by the magician and smiled wide as we spun on the dancefloor to tunage by DJ Panda. Afterwards the Sisters led us through the Castro for trick or treating.

The next day on Halloween night, we headed over to the Mission's Fair Oaks Street where six blocks are closed off for trick or treaters each year. The neighborhood boasts decorated stoops and houses, multi-media spooky videos play in the background, eerie ghosts hang from trees, and sugar-charged kids outstretch their hands to owners sitting outside, drinking cocktails, and handing out candy.

CLICK HERE for more Halloween pictures.

UPDATE 10/29/09: More cuteness from Aunt Polly, below!

UPDATE 10/28/09: Thanks Aunt Polly for the new digital scrapbook page, below!


Halloween is a high holiday in San Francisco and it's usually wonderful weather as our Indian Summer wraps up. This weekend we took Jack to a Halloween event at the Julius Kahn playground in the Presidio (an expansive park that was a military center until 1989 and transferred to the National Park Service. It's now 1400+ acres of mixed commercial and public space with beaches, wooded areas, hills, and scenic vistas overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge.) Afterward, we further enjoyed the beautiful weather and ended our perfect day by heading north to Napa for some sparkling wine and dessert.

CLICK HERE for more pictures of the day.

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

C is for Cookie and Cross-Stitch

Mindy's cousin, Peggi, was one of Jack's first visitors. She made the trip from Charlotte, NC when Jack was just two weeks old and stayed with us for a week, helping Mindy with newborn care and household stuff and doggie walking when Mindy needed it the most after her c-section. (CLICK HERE to see the previous blog post and pictures of her visit.)

Peggi wanted to do a cross-stitch piece for Jack so she and Mindy headed to a needlepoint store during her visit. They leafed through dozens of designs, found a pattern, and then poured over drawers of different colored thread to find the perfect combination of hues.

Here's the finished product. The iPhone picture washes out the colors a bit which are bold and really pop in person. It looks spectacular with the red border which complements Jack's room perfectly.

Thank you Auntie Peggi!

Is it too early to share a little Holiday cheer?

Not if it's this cute! Mindy's Aunt Barbara discovered digital scrapbooking when she retired a few years ago. Along with her sister and Mindy's other aunt, Polly, they also design digital templates and started a blog called 2SistersCreativeDesigns. You can find their blog at

We were thrilled to have one of their templates feature Jack and coincidentally this picture is from the "Red Chair" series that is one of our very favorite collections of pictures. Love it, love it, love it!

Aunts Barbara & Polly

Friday, October 16, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Jack Be Nimble, Jack Be Quick

Jack has been sitting unsupported for a while now and has suddenly started to lunge forward onto his hands and stomach when reaching for a toy. Crawling can't be far behind. In some ways, we're always anxiously awaiting the next steps and we want to see him crawl and walk. On the other hand, we know that's a whole new ballgame and those days of letting him play on the floor with one eye on him and one eye on the blog will be behind us. In any case, we're enjoying every minute as it unfolds. Watch below as he lunges forward and peaks Stella's curiosity.

This pre-crawl maneuver concurrently started with him pulling himself up in his crib. Jack can now pull himself up to his knees - but thankfully not all the way up yet so we have time to lower that crib mattress!

Oh Garçon!

Wine country is beautiful this time of year -- sunny, perfect temperature, grape vines are starting to turn fall colors. And if we were true oenophiles then I would go on and on about the end of "crush" and the (grape) harvest season. Oh sure, we go for a tasting now and again but we mostly go for the food because, well, its some of the best food in the nation. We escaped the fog this past weekend and drove to Napa's Bistro Jeanty for lunch and the bakery at Bouchon for dessert. It was a perfect day.

CLICK HERE for a few more pictures of us enjoying the day.

AND CLICK THE SHORT VIDEO below to watch Jack play with Tom:

Friday, October 2, 2009

Recent Random Shots to Share

UPDATE 11/3/09: Courtesy of Aunt Polly:

I heart winter squash.

Bubble time at Gymboree is fascinating!

Mom's a germ-phobe.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Stella Triptych

Jack's New Ride

It was finally time to let go of Jack's beloved infant carseat stroller frame - often called a "Snap & Go" like you might call tissues "Kleenex" or a photocopy a "Xerox". For you language geeks (like me!) that's an eponym. Yeah, Google it.

Anyway, we loved being able to move the carseat from the car and click it onto the stroller frame and presto, instant stroller. But our carseat is heavy and Jack is now heavy which made the frame more unstable and difficult to maneuver (especially if you have a 50 lb. bulldog pulling you back and forth during a walk around town). The frame has small wheels and wasn't able to jump the train tracks or sidewalk curbs anymore. And Jack was increasingly nudgy with being in more of a reclined position than a sitting position.

So it was time to get a big-boy stroller. We opted for the mid-line City Mini by BabyJogger and both he and we are very happy with its snappiness, lightness, maneuverability, big sun shade, bigger wheels and its ability to fold up like a taco with one hand (great for when we have Jack in the other arm). We miss how Jack used to face us in his Snap & Go (he now faces out), but he didn't seem to have any separation anxiety about that like we did - he just enjoys the world as it strolls by him.