Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Make Yourself Comfortable

Stella started snoozing and before you know it, her head fell out of the soft sided bed and rested comfortably (presumably) on the rug!

Snuggle Nest

Jack made a snuggle nest with his red robe, slippers, stuffed lamb, Spiderman pillow, and assortment of loveys. He was so happy being all snuggled up in its softness.

Hiking in Glen Canyon

I was interested in doing something new one recent weekend, so Jack and went "to the woods" and did a little hiking. I thought it would be nice to get away from the city's hustle and bustle and expose Jack to the joy of nature.

We didn't wander far and opted to go to Glen Canyon in San Francisco. The canyon felt like a world away. All your senses were challenged -- it was strikingly quiet and you could hear the birds flying above you, the smells were different (like eucalyptus and wet leaves), and there were few people in sight.

I brought along a big baggie for Jack to put his treasures in.

We climbed up a set of stairs and walked along the ridge that led us past some rocks formations, to another set of stairs, and up a hill where we sat and rested before making our way slowly back down.

CLICK HERE for more pictures.


Jack has been interested in writing his name and recently did a pretty good job!


Sunday, September 30, 2012

Friday Assembly

Resident lambs, Sunny and Frisco, and chickens
Jack's school has an Assembly every Friday. Two things happen just before Assembly starts: 1 - there's coffee and morning snacks for the parents to encourage mingling and 2 - the younger kids are picked up by their "buddies" and escorted to the Assembly .
At the start of the school year, each preschooler is paired up with a buddy from
the 7th or 8th grade. Every Friday morning the buddies drop by the preschoolers' classrooms and the pairs walk to the schoolyard and sit together for Assembly. Afterwards, they get to play together for a bit. It's very sweet and Jack is really excited about his buddy, Paolo.
Jack and Paolo
The Assemblies start with everyone singing a Welcome Song and then kids are asked to step forward if they have a birthday in the coming week and they receive a Happy Birthday serenade from everyone. Each week is hosted by a class that does a little something for the crowd - starting with the oldest class at the first Assembly (8th grade) and working their way down one class at a time to the preschoolers.
This week's Assembly showcased the Farm & Garden program (the classes learn about sustainability, organic farming, and ecology in the small farm plot onsite at the school) and the resident farm animals (two sheep and a few chickens). So that the animals didn't get spooked, everyone silently, though enthusiastically, cheered in sign language (by raising our hands and flapping them back and forth) which was pretty fun to watch. A student escorted each animal out to the crowd while an MC recited a fun fact (the chicken, Nutmeg, lays blue eggs!) I was impressed that these city kids picked up the chickens and lovingly held them as they paraded around. I know I could never (or maybe want to?) catch a chicken and hold him in my arms.
Silent cheering
Lining up the kids and animals
The lambs are especially cute. They are "bummer" Babydoll Southdown lambs which means they were orphaned at birth and have been bottle fed so they are very attached to people. The breed is known to be easy to handle and are not aggressive. Because of their small size (they are only 24 inches tall when mature), miniature Southdowns are said to make outstanding weeders for use in orchards and vineyards. Their small hooves help break the soil surface without compacting it. And not only do they provide an organic alternative to pesticides, their manure helps improve soil fertility as well at the farm.
These Friday Assemblies have become a fun ritual for both Jack and me. Just as Jack looks forward to Assembly with his buddy, I'm looking forward to what the kids have in store for us next Friday.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Holy Bat-awesome

Jack's current obession is with superheros. So it was only fitting that we went to see a stage production today called "Batman Live".
We donned our superhero costumes for the event -- he in his Batman t-shirt, mask and cape; me in my Robin t-shirt and cape. (We are getting our money's worth from our Halloween costumes this year.)
Batman Live was pretty slick. Because it was held in a sports arena, the stage was huge, the ceiling was high up in the sky, and the light show was seizure inducing. The back wall was anchored by a 105-foot LED video screen shaped in the Batman logo. This was easily the most captivating part of the show -- the screen set the stage for each act with colorful graphics and imparted movement and mood, very cool. The production made full use of the stage with it's 42 person cast and of the vertical space where trapeze artists and Batman himself often swooped down to save Gotham City.
The show told the story of how Batman and Robin became the Dynamic Duo and starred all the familiar friends and foes -- CatWoman, the Joker, Riddler, Penguin, and Two-Face. The performance was non-stop with circus performances (after all, Robin was originally part of a circus act with this parents before being orphaned and taken under Batman's "wing"), a sprinking of magic, choreographed fight scenes, and even some pyrotechnics, fire, and cannons.
Holy Bat-awesome.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Meeting cousin Ethen

Zack, Jack, and Ethen
One of Jack's "little" cousins is in now in her mid-twenties and recently had a baby. Anne and her husband, Nate, live in Arizona and came back to Sacramento for a wedding with their new baby in tow last weekend.

Ethen was born on July 29th and entered the world in a big way at 9 pounds, 21 inches.

Jack and I drove up to Sacramento to meet cousin Ethen for the first time. It's incredible how you can forget how little and sleepy they are as newborns! Jack was mostly indifferent to Ethen as he slept, but did get a chance to hold his cousin with his favorite honorary cousin, Zach (boyfriend of Anne's sister, Amber).

In a family of three girls, it is exciting to have another little boy come along and I can imagine that it will be fun to see them grow up together.

Discovering the Zoo again

Jack, Auntie Linda, Mom
I'd forgotten how much fun the zoo was. I used to think how sad the conditions were for the animals and that Jack was too young to have that much fun. Then we went again recently and had a great time.

The animals seemed less on display when I read how they were rescued and cared for by the staff. Some had wings that didn't allow them to fly or other conditions that wouldn't make it safe for them in the wild.

Jack is now old enough to watch the animal demonstrations or to play with some of the interactive exhibits. There's a carousel, a train, and a petting zoo where you can brush the goats.

And if there's still energy left, the San Francisco Zoo is located right next to the beach and down the street from a restaurant that has an expansive lawn and outdoor seating.

All in all, a great day with a guaranteed long naptime afterwards.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What to Expect When You're Expecting

Jack's life is a little more complicated these days. Sometimes it's a school day and sometimes it's not. Mom picks me up from school on some days and Dad does on other days. I sleep at Mom's, I sleep at Dad's. Mom and Dad go to work on days that I don't have school so I get to play with a babysitter. Then, Jack asks every day if it's a school day. I know where he's going with that -- if it's not a school day then it's the weekend or a holiday and I can watch cartoons with Mom in bed.

It was clear that we needed some sort of system to set expectations about the coming day. And the more visual the better so he could easily identify what to expect. So I bought a bunch of stickers and posted the school calendar on the wall at Jack's eye level.

At the start of the week we lay out what to expect for that week. School days are designated with a crayon sticker. If Mom picks me up from school or I sleep at home then we put a flower sticker on that day, or a baseball sticker if I'm with Dad or overnight at his house. If our usual "manny" (male nanny) will be picking me up/babysitting me then he gets a car sticker. Friends' birthday parties are designated with a cupcake sticker. We even have stickers with a dozen different feelings that Jack can add to the calendar to express how he is feeling.

And at the end of each day, Jack crosses off the day and we talk about what to expect tomorrow.

Dynamic Duo

I asked Jack what he wanted to be for Halloween this year.
He definatively said Batman.
So be it.
In the meantime, Mom ordered herself a Robin t-shirt with attached cape and mask. 
Bring it on, Halloween.


It does not rain in San Francisco for 6 months out of the year. Fog yes, rain no. But last week after work, I was driving home and there were a few brief raindrops on my windshield. That's odd I thought.

Then the sky turned bright pink. And I could see people literally stopped in their tracks, some standing in the middle of the streets, people were taking out their cellphones and taking pictures of the sky as if aliens were coming to make contact.

And then I saw the most spectacular rainbow that lit up the sky and turned my already pink deco building a brighter shade of pink. It literally made me excited and happy, joyful feelings that I haven't had in a long time.
I couldn't capture its awesomeness with my iPhone, but I tried.

First Day of Preschool for Jackson

It was exciting when Jack was accepted to preschool earlier this year. When summer started, we decided to get him used to his new school, the teachers, kids, location, walk, etc. and enrolled him in the summer camps that were also held at the school. What a smart idea - get him used to the new routine and he'll be prepped for when classes officially starts in September.

Well, it never quite panned out that way. The summer camps were held in several two week sessions. So every two weeks there was turnover with the kids and Jack wasn't able to make friends. The preschoolers and older kids were often in the same session, but the older kids were allowed to play in areas of the schoolyard that the younger kids couldn't. The kids varied wildly from session to session as families came and went on vacation so there was no continuity between sessions as to which kids were attending. Jack would complain that there were "too many friends" at school and didn't want to go. The friendships and structure just weren't there. I couldn't wait until Labor Day when Jack would start a more structured day when school officially started, with the consistency of a daily routine and the same kids and teachers.

Jack started preschool the day after Labor Day - and what a difference. In just a day or two, he was right into the routine. Each morning upon arrival in the Teddy Bear classroom, Jack puts his lunchbox here, his jacket in his cubby over there, washes his hands, and "gets to work" (that is, he gets to choose what activity he wants to do - the science table with magnets, the water table, art, building, etc.) At 8:30am, the bell rings, Moms and Dads say their goodbyes, and all the kids gather for their "morning meeting". They sit "criss cross applesauce" in a circle, sing a welcome song, review what day it is (in English and Spanish no less), and what's on the agenda for the day.

Interestingly, it turns out there are 2 Jack's in his class. And they are both Jack B's. So, Jack goes by his full name in class: Jackson. Fun fact: both Jacks were born 3 days apart.

Anyway, we are off to a great start! Here are pictures of the first day of class.

My lunchbox goes here

I wash my hands
And get to work

A Vision of Loveliness

Truth be told, I have always wanted to get Stella a tutu. Two reasons: 1) she is always mistaken for a male dog and 2) in typical bulldog fashion, she throws her hindquarters back and forth when she walks so a tutu would accentuate her cute sway. Plus, it's getting towards Halloween and what better time of year to dress up your dog?
Recently I passed by a kids consignment store and decided to pop in and see if they had tutus. Turns out they had a huge selection (who knew?), and cheap. So I picked out the fluffiest pink one with lots of tulle and a satin wasteband studded with a few rhinestones. Perfect.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


I keep hearing about all the extreme summer weather along the mid-Atlantic and other regions.

Here's the other extreme - a San Francisco "summer". Note the hats, coats, MITTENS, and leggings!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Jack's View of the World

Jack (and his Mom) are fortunate to be surrounded with friends who love him. Here's a view of Jack's world. 

I guess you can never be too loved...

...or too entertained!

Here's Web in Your Eye

Jack is currently obsessed with the classic superheroes -- Spiderman, Superman, Batman, even Wonder Woman.

When he saw this advertisement for the upcoming Spiderman movie, he was excited to throw webs and have his picture taken.

Shooting webs

Spiderman shooting webs at Jack shooting webs at Spiderman

Preschool Camp

Last day at Ladybugs with beloved teachers Maliya and Colleen
We were very sad to leave Jack's current daycare which both he and we loved. But as I explained it to Jack, it was time to graduate from Ladybugs and start his new school. In order to get him used to a new routine and make the transition to Preschool easier, we enrolled him in the Preschool Camp which is also held at the new school during the summer until the academic school year starts in September.

The school is two blocks from our house so we start with a walk each morning which is a fun ritual. Once he is signed in, we put away his lunch box and he goes out to play with the tricycles, basketball hoops, etc. What's nice is that the Camp's daily schedule is similar to the Preschool's schedule during the school year (free time, activity, nap, etc.)

First day at Camp

The camps are split into several themed sessions of two weeks each. Jack completed the first session, World Travelers, this week. The class made passports which were stamped daily and had a morning and afternoon activity related to a different country. They made Mexican maracas, Czech crowns, sampled pasta from Italy, learned about Indian elephants.

I knew that transferring to a new school would be a momentous change in routine so we made several trips to the school beforehand to peek through the gates and familiarize him with the location. I bought him a little backpack of his own and unveiled it on his first day. Before the first day of Camp, Jack had readily caught on to the excitement of going to his new school but was quite clingy and hesitant the first week. And I would be too - he didn't know any of the kids, where anything was located, what the schedule would be like, who the teachers are. Each day he quickly rebounded, participated in class, was social and happy at pickup time. Though, it was evident he was still adjusting because he became a little defiant at home. The second week was better and the dropoff became increasingly easier, so I think we are on our way.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Big Boy Bed

Jack was starting to look pretty crowded in his crib each night with all his stuffed animals, little pillow, and three blankets.

This month, he started his first overnights at Tom's where he would be sleeping in a new bunkbed with the other little boy in Tom's new family.

Since he was going to be starting a new bed at Tom's anyway, I decided this was the time to transition him to a new big bed at our house too.

First, I bought a book and talked it up with Jack. I explained excitedly that he would have a new bunkbed at Daddy's house and then would come home to a Big Boy bed with Spiderman sheets at Mommy's house.

Next, I spent one long day with my friend, Linda, researching (and surprisingly, negotiating) beds at five different stores. I now know more about beds than I ever thought there was to know. Linda helped me disassemble the crib and bring it down two flights to the garage - lifesaver!

The day Jack came home from his first overnight at Tom's, he flew past my open arms and went straight for his room asking where his new Big Boy bed was.

And he's been loving it ever since!

CLICK HERE for a few more pictures.
Snuggling with Superman

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Kiwi Crate

Being a boy, Jack loves to run and jump around. He literally runs from room to room - the downstairs neighbors have never said a thing, but I'm pretty sure they can hear someone running the length of the apartment every morning starting at 6:15am. We often hit the playground or some other physical activity to tucker Jack out.

Sometimes, though, it's fun to trade in the playground for some time at home. I recently signed up for a monthly subscription to Kiwi Crate which sends a monthly "crate" containing two craft activities. Each box has a theme and all the associated stuff that you need including simple directions.

We received the first box this week and it really exceeded my expectations. I'm a sucker for the details, the marketing and the packaging. Each box is about the size of a shoe box. When you open it, the contents are wrapped in tissue paper sealed with a sticker like a present. Get past the tissue and the box is split into two compartments, each containing a little how-to booklet and everything you need for that activity. I was impressed with the quality of the materials and the details -- like a "zip line" which could have easily just been a piece of thick plastic rope, but this was a thick plastic line with sparkles inside. Or the heavy gauge paper they include for everything from the crafts to the instructions.
This month's theme was Bugs. The first activity contained those dehydrated sponges that you put in water and they swell up. There were a dozen small sponges that were shaped like bugs -- we had fun putting them in water and watching them grow. Included were 3 tempera paints, a paintbrush, a pencil, and 3 large pieces of thick paper with leaves and flowers on them to use as blank canvasses on which to stamp your bugs. The second activity was even cooler. Enclosed was a plastic bottle, translucent stickers, glowsticks, the sparkly rope, precut bug wings and feet made from vellum (there are those details again that I love!), googly eye stickers, and a cork. Decorate the bottle with the translucent stickers and cutouts, drop a glowstick inside, place the eyes on the cork, and you have yourself the most awesome firefly that glows from within. Now string up the firefly and he can "fly" back and forth on the rope like a zip line.

Firelfly zipping along
As if that weren't enough, there were also several 5x7 cards each printed with a picture of a different bug and fun facts that were educational and a conversation starter with your little one -- did you know a spider is not really a insect? Jack doesn't yet have the attention span to actually go through the cards in depth, but I found them fascinating.

We can't wait till next month.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mother's Day

Jack and I celebrated an early Mother's Day at his daycare/preschool on the preceding Friday. All the Moms were invited to a Mad Hatter's Tea Party which was very sweet. The kids painted and decorated grocery bags to make their Mad Hats. There was a Tea setup on the kids' low craft table that was decorated with a tablecloth and flowers and china and scones and fruit. The little table was surrounded by their tiny chairs where the Moms gathered, straddling tea and strawberries on their knees. When it was time, the teacher rang a bell and we all gathered in a circle. Each kid was called up to get their present and flower which they proudly presented to their Moms with a well rehearsed "Happy Mother's Day!"

CLICK HERE for more pictures of our Mother's Day Mad Hatter's Tea.

Jack in the Mad Hat with his gift & flowers for Mom

Jack's turn to give Mom the flowers and gift

Mmmm, Smitten

"Kelvin" liquid nitrogen machine
After dinner tonight, Jack and I tried out a new place for icecream. Smitten icecream. And smitten we are. The icecream was so good (really), and the concept so unique and interesting that I found it blog-worthy.

Their ingredients are all locally sourced, no preservatives, emulsifiers, etc. Small menu (just 4 options) and unique combos like Strawberry with Pink Peppercorn or Bayleaf with Orange Clove Caramel and Pine Nut Brittle. Good but yaddah yaddah. You sort of expect that, right? What we didn't expect is that they make EACH order on demand. Every single scoop is made to order -- they don't pre-make batches and then scoop it when you order. How do they do that? And what's the gimic?

They use four proprietary and patented machines called "Kelvins", so they are the only ones that use these machines. The machines work with liquid nitrogen which is evidently super super cold. For each order, they pour in an icecream mixture and the machine churns and freezes the mixture with the liquid nitrogen -- in one minute. As they explain it, this means that there are very few ice crystals that form which results in the smoothest icecream you have every tasted. I was astounded how creamy it was - you'd swear there was butter in it.

Fun fact adding to the eco factor, Smitten is housed in a recycled shipping container.

Find out more about Smitten on their website; it's kind of an interesting story:

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Training Wheels

We wanted to get Jack a bicycle and envisioned one of those balance bikes that doesn't have any pedals. The idea is that the kids use their legs to shuffle it along and learn to balance before getting a "real" bike.

Tom took Jack to the bicycle store where he had already purchased a balance bike. Evidently, Jack took one look and asked, "Where are the pedals?" So, Tom traded up the balance bike for one with pedals and training wheels.

It's funny how much hard work it is to learn how to push those pedals and make the bike go - and how much stooping over you do to help keep things moving!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Pizza Party

You might know that I'm a foodie, but I'm no culinary artist. So, in order to actually eat a meal at home (and have some fun doing it), I recently combined my interest in shopping with getting away with the least amount of food prep and cooking possible.

I finally put my Williams-Sonoma corporate discount to good use and bought a pizza stone and pizza "peel". I had no idea what a pizza peel was, but I was assured I needed it. (A pizza peel is one of those flat wooden boards with a handle that you that assemble the raw pizza on so you can shove it onto the pizza stone in a preheated oven - turns out you do need one).

Pizza peel

Making pizza turned out to be the perfect recipe for the cooking adverse.

Step 1: Keep the pizza stone in the oven permanently. The hardest part, then, was opening up the box and opening up the oven.

Step 2: Buy a bag of whole wheat pizza dough, can of pizza sauce, bag of shredded cheese. Next time I'll add pre-chopped veggies.

Step 3: Flour the pizza peel. Flatten out the pizza dough, throw on the sauce and cheese. Jack likes this part. No washing, peeling, chopping. I like that part.

Step 4: Cook for 10-15 minutes.