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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 ├╝ber-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!