Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

First Day of the Second Year of Preschool

Jack started his second year of preschool yesterday.

I always remember buying new school supplies and clothes before the start of each school year - it added a sense of excitement and confidence to that first day.

Jack and I carried on the tradition with our own shopping excursion. We came home with a new lunchbox and school clothes.

I was so excited - err, Jack was, I mean.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Mother's Day

Mother's Day was a beautifully sunny warm day in San Francisco. Jack and I had breakfast at a new restaurant in the 'hood that we had not been to before, and then mostly hung out in the sunshine.

I came, I swam, I conquered

Jack loves the water but doesn't love water on his face, doesn't like to go underwater, or know how to swim so he clings to me most of the time when we are in a pool. I decided it was time for some swim lessons. We did swim lessons together when he was months old but he would be with a swim instructor this time. I was a little nervous about how he would react to my not being with him in the pool but I was quickly put in check with how much self-importance I place upon myself. He jumped right into the pool with the instructor and in the first 20 minutes they dunked right underwater together!

First swim lesson

Underwater together!

The Castle

Jack's preschool classes end at 2:15pm and then we pay for aftercare where the kids are looked after by teachers and read or do an activity or play outside. To add a little variety, I signed up Jack for two "enrichment" classes: IncrediBuilders (where the kids build with various materials) and Toy Story (where the kids make a little movie).

For Toy Story, Jack was paired with his best friend, Zoe, who was also taking the class. The teacher asked us to bring in two or three favorite toys so we brought in a castle and Superman car.

Here's the short (very short!) film that the kids came up with:

Almost Hillbilly Jack

A few months ago, Jack was pushed on the playground and hit his mouth on a concrete play structure. His mouth was bleeding and I was quietly flipping out until I identified that the bleeding was coming from his gum (just above one of his two front teeth) and it went away quickly. Crisis averted, I thought.
Jack complained that his front teeth were sore. That's normal after the trauma he experienced, I thought.
Then three weeks later his front tooth started to turn brown. I immediately took him to the dentist who said she saw three of these a day. Not that comforting. What's the prognosis? It could turn more brown, turn back to white, fall out, or stay in -- and we wouldn't be out of the clear for up to a year so it's mostly a waiting game.
So far the tooth has settled on a medium brown color but thankfully it's still firmly intact. So far, so good I guess.


Jack's preschool class organized a preschool T-Ball team this Spring. His team was named the "Star Bears" and was a mix of kids from his Teddy Bear class with a few kids from the Starfish class - hence the name.

They received a great red baseball shirt and embroidered black hat and I bought him a little glove that came with a soft baseball. The team practiced each Thursday and had a game most Saturdays.

The Saturday games were amusing demonstrations of organized chaos. There were four volunteer coaches and a bunch of nudgy kids which made for a constantly moving and crowded field. Differently from the Star Bears, the other teams wore matching baseball uniforms and sometimes didn't even use the "T" in T-Ball and were able to bat at hand-thrown pitches. Nonetheless, everyone cheered on their kids - even when they often hit the ball off the T and ran furiously to third base. Or picked flowers in the outfield. Or chatted up the opposing team's first baseman when they made a run and had to be prompted to Run, Run, Run to second base. Everyone got a chance to be at the bat and to run around the bases. The games lasted an hour, no matter how many innings that turned out to be.

Jack definitely liked the idea of being with his friends and meeting new friends. He was the one chatting up the first baseman or twirling in the outfield or loudly yelling "MOOOOMMMM, I'M THIRRRRRSTY!" from the other side of the field during the game. He often watched the ball roll by until it occurred to him to chase it. Needless to say, he wasn't chosen to man a base or placed in the infield, but he definitely had fun in the sun and so did I.

CLICK HERE for more pictures.

Chinese New Year

 The Chinese (or Lunar) New Year was in February and Jack and I went to Golden Gate Park to celebrate.

We camped out on the floor of an auditorium to watch a dance troupe of women who performed ethnic and folk dances from China, Mongolia, Tibet, and throughout Asia. They were dressed in colorful traditional costumes and danced to the rhythmic drumming of live musicians.

The dancing culminated in an amazing performance of "lion dancers". To me, they looked like the usual dragon dances that you often see in Chinatown where you have performers under a dragon costume. But I learned something interesting - the Chinese lion dances have two performers (one at the head and one in the back) whose faces are covered by the lion costume. In contrast, the dragon dances have multiple performers and their faces can be seen because the dragon is held up on poles.

Afterwards, we walked over to the Botanical Garden where an author was reading two children's books (we bought a book on the Year of the Ox which is Jack's sign, and a fun one called Julie's Black Belt) and then potted a plant for the new year.

CLICK HERE for more pictures of our Chinese New Year fun.

Lion dancers, not to be confused with Dragon dancers!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Stella Turns 5

If Jack is 4, then Stella is 5. Our good girl is as cute as ever (she is in more camera phones than I can count), and even more stubborn. I never tire of hearing her snore at night - it's so comforting to hear her nearby. And I swear, when I look in her big brown eyes it's like she's communicating with me. Jack loves Stella and understands that she likes to be scratched, patted, is part of our family and therefore we take care of each other. Happy Birthday Stelly Belly!

Jack Turns 4

Jack turned 4 this year!

Birthday Crown
I decided to start a new tradition and make a good morning birthday crown. It turned out to be a bit more papal than I imagined but I will have many more birthdays to hone my craft!

At 4, Jack would rather jump and climb than sit and color. And at 46, I love a big party. So I combined our preferences and planned a big boisterous birthday party with all of Jack's friends, classmates, and their parents at Pump It Up.

Pump It Up is a birthday factory. After an introductory video, the kids enter Room #1 that has huge inflatable slides and bouncy houses. The parents and kids put their shoes and things on a rolling cart and bounce.

After 45 minutes, everyone is rounded up and moved into Room #2 where there are even more and impossibly bigger inflatables. The cart of your things is rolled right in after you. And you bounce again. And sweat. Eighties music plays in the background. And you sweat some more. In the meanwhile, another party has entered into Room #1 unbeknownst to you.

And after another 45 minutes, everyone is rounded up again for a group picture, puts on their shoes, and is herded into the birthday room full of balloons, pizza, and cake. The room is thoughtfully chilled to cool you down. All the kids have red cheeks from jumping and running around.

Jack was heavy into superheros, so all the kids received a mask, matching cape, and a Tootsie Roll with a tiny mask and cape of its own that was printed with a Thank You for the birthday guests.

And in the meanwhile, another party has entered into Room #2 unbeknownst to you. They definately have the birthday party factory thing down to an amazing science. And everyone had an amazing time.

Afterwards, Jack and his Auntie Linda and I drove home. Jack fell fast asleep in the car for a nap so I drove into the garage and let him sleep while Linda and I setup a table and chairs and unloaded the car of presents onto the adjacent sidewalk. We had a couple of glasses of wine and leftover cake while waiting for Jack to wake up. When he did, we opened presents together and read several homemade cards from his friends.

CLICK HERE for more pictures of Jack's special day.

Morning book with birthday crown:

Sliding at Pump It Up:

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Campbells - mmm mmm good

I love a full house. So, when my friend, Maggie, and her husband, Scott, and 3 year old, Lola, decided to visit - it was so much fun.

Maggie is one of my oldest friends, and it's very interesting that our age, we have kids within 7 months of each other. It's great to have someone to discuss "is that normal" convos with about your kids.

Her daughter, Lola, is a bubbly little girl who loves to chase and be chased. She often baited Jack by taking a toy and making him chase her - unfortunately, Jack didn't love the chase as much as she did and he often whined and went to his room complaining "he needed space" -- and then came back out a minute later for more.

It was nice to have a man around the house too (without all the complications!) -- my garage door was fixed in better condition than it might have, I had my 40 lb bag of dog food carried up 2 flights of stairs, and Scott chivalrously ventured out for breakfast in the morning. I also took away a few cooking tricks and learned how to make a roast and Yorkshire bread pudding which were both surprising easy for even this novice cook.

Stella's attention meter was refueled again with lots of hugs, kisses, back scratches, and ball playing.

In the end, Jack loved having "little Lola" here (not to be confused with his grandma, "Big Lola") and the house seemed too quiet with just me and Jack and Stella again.



Teddy Bears

Jack is in his first of two years of preschool. His class is called the "Teddy Bears". And they are all as cute as one!

Click on the image to make it larger

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Ooey Gooey Goodness

I love to do crafty things with Jack and one of the things we received from the cousins for Christmas was a Goo Making kit.

Jack and I made four different colors of Goo one morning and were entertained for a looong time.

Caveat: the slippery slimy mess was nearly impossible to wash off your hands, your bowls, your towels, etc.!


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Oh Volcanoes!

Jack has been fascinated by volcanoes lately so we bought a book about volcanoes - who knew that the molten rock inside the volcano is called "magma" and it becomes "lava" once it's expelled?

Anyway, all the talk about volcanoes made me think of those frothing volcanoes of classic high school science projects made with baking soda and vinegar. So, I Googled "How to Make a Volcano" and Jack and I got to work. And it was awesome.

CLICK HERE to see more of our fun.

Christmas with Lola

It was so great to have my Mom with us for a week to celebrate Christmas. Jack really had fun with his Lola and we both wish we all lived closer.

Mom flew in on a Wednesday and we decided to hold our Christmas the following Saturday. On "Christmas Eve" we made brownies and set out one for Santa with some milk. That night we also exchanged one gift - you guessed it pajamas. Big fluffy one ones with feet and a velcroed escape hatch in the back for Lola and for me, and Christmas themed ones for Jack

The next morning, we opened our stockings and mountains of presents. there were so many presents that we actually took a break in the middle! This year Jack really understood the concept of Santa. He was a very spoiled little boy with lots of building, learning, and exploring toys from Lola. We had a lot of fun with the Whoopie Cushion in his stocking and his Batman umbrella is still a favorite - even when it's not raining. One of our favorite games from Christmas is "Feed the Woozle" and Jack cannot get enough of Kumon's Book of Mazes. Our most used Christmas treasure is the cash register that came complete with plastic coins, paper bills, and a credit card. Jack loves to play farmer's market and it's been a fun way to reinforce taking turns, to learn that things cost money, to learn numbers and play out simple math. We had so many gifts that I put a few away for a rainy day. We are so grateful.

Jack loved to have Lola "sleep over" and we enjoyed the simple things like making brownies and reading books together.

We were lucky to have Lola that week too so she could attend Jack's preschool's winter performance where Jack and his class sang a couple of songs for friends and family. Afterwards, everyone moved into the classrooms and the kids all proudly showed us their portfolios for this semester's project = "me". There were snippets and pieces of artwork in their portfolios about themselves like where they lived or what their skin color looked like. Throughout their classroom where surveys like how many people live in your house, what eye color or hair color you have, etc. and selected pieces were hung on the walls. It was nice that she could join us for that and see Jack's school and have insight into what our daily lives are like out here.

It was hard to see her go.

CLICK HERE for more pictures of Jack's winter performance and "Me" portfolio.

CLICK HERE for more pictures of Lola's Christmas trip.

Jack was taken with his Whoopie Cushion:

Jack practicing his numbers:

Letter to Santa

Jack grasped the idea of Santa this year so it was fun to write our first letter to Santa. Jack really wanted a remote controlled airplane for Christmas, but I explained that Santa might think that was a disaster waiting to happen in an apartment and with a skittish doggie. So, he settled for a remote controlled airplane OR car. I saved the letter and we mailed the envelope together at the mailbox.

CLICK HERE for more pictures of Jack writing his letter and envelope.

Stella Ball Tree = Happy

Interpretive SuperHero Dance

Jack is really into the music from the Nutcracker this season. There's one particular arrangement that he recognizes and has been humming. You can tell he's come across it by the surprised "Oh!" in the video:

A Multi-Dimensional Dining Experience

Fifteen years later, sometimes I forget that I live in California. Until I'm reminded:

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Nutcracker Tea

Jack and I do an annual Christmas Tea. This year we did a Nutcracker Tea which was a lot of fun. As we were seated, a Toy Soldier dropped by our table and presented us with a giant gingerbread shingle (like the one on the huge Gingerbread House we walked through to get to the Tea room) and a decorating kit. Jack got to choose a Nutcracker ornament - he chose pink, his favorite color. And a magician made his rounds for a little slight of hand.

Tiny Tea sandwiches and desserts were served with hot chocolate and marshmallows for Jack, and Earl Grey for Mom.

Afterwards we explored the Christmas decorations in the hotel lobby and got into the holiday mood.

CLICK HERE for more pictures.

Asian Art Museum excursion

Why don't we come here more often, I thought after a recent visit. It's less than a mile from our house, never crowded, and street parking is free on Sundays.

We went to the Asian Art Museum with a friend last November in celebration of an annual Indian holiday called Diwali. They had several tables set up where someone would help you write your name in Hindi (Indian) and turn it into a button. There were different rooms where traditional Indian music (think, sitars) was being played by a family for families -- their rendition of Row Row Row Your Boat was unexpected! Yoga for kids was being held in another room.

Among the regular exhibits, Jack and I found one room that was empty and spent some time there writing chinese letters with water and on red pieces of paper that were intended to be hung on the tree installation in the room.

CLICK HERE for more pictures.

"Batman. I Love Mommy."

I find it funny how Jack's thoughts are still so disjointed. Though, my heart is warm to think that I have reached the ranks of Batman in his mind!

Embarcadero Lighting

There's a set of towers in San Francisco called The Embarcadero. They're the typical boxy skyscrapers, four in a row, which lend themselves nicely to being outlined with lights for the holidays. Throw in some fireworks, an ice skating rink, a petting zoo, cookie decorating, and other holiday activities, and we've found ourselves a fun evening to kick off the holidays.

CLICK HERE for more pictures.

Hidden Villas Farm

I like to get away with Jack to nature when we can, and was interested to visit a farm so Jack can make the connection between the food we eat and where it's sourced. So I was excited to come across a tour for young kids at the Hidden Villa Farm which is tucked away in the winding hills near Palo Alto, about an hour's drive (which also means a built in nap on the way home in the car and is key since Jack does not nap anymore at home, only in the car.)

There were several other kids around Jack's age when we arrived. The tour started in the organic garden where we are able to see and touch a giant broccoli flower in the ground, taste growing arugula (did you know it gets more peppery the longer it remains growing?), touch silky soft Lamb's Ear (did you know it is inedible but has medicinal properties like using it as a bandage?) and discovered the grain amaranth (I never made the connection that the purpley plant I'd seen in the florist is actually where we harvest the grain). The kids got to see compost bins with their worms wiggling throughout. And crawl through tunnels in the garden and use the garden "iPhone" (a tube).

As we walked throughout the farm, we also dropped by the pigpen and were amused by several piglets as they squealed and ran in their pen, we chased chickens, patted sheep and cows, and found eggs to find in the henhouse.

Afterwards we had a snack and played in the small play area in the strong warm mid-day sun.

CLICK HERE for more pictures of our sunny day at Hidden Villas Farm.

Fall Decorating

There's little Fall color out here, so I'm always drawn to Fall leaves. We took those thin paper Fall leaves that usually go under fancy cheese plates, and taped them to the windows. We also made Thanksgiving cards to family. CLICK HERE for a few more pictures.


Halloween Month

Jack and Kerrie at Clancy's Pumpkin Patch
Jack was with Tom this year for Halloween, but as you know, I like to celebrate holidays all month long, so Jack and I found time to usher in the Fall and celebrate Halloween.

We kicked off our Fall festivities the first weekend in October with Cousin Kerrie and Clancy’s Pumpkin Patch. Clancy's is the only pumpkin patch in the City that’s complete with hay tunnels and a hay ride (albeit, a couple of times around the parking lot). When we got home, we decorated the windows with those thin plastic cling-ons. Interestingly, Jack liked to group all the spiders and bats on one window, all the pumpkins on another, and all the solid black ones like mice and owls on a third window. We made a little haunted house, and a couple of bats from black pompoms. The smaller of our pumpkins was transformed into the superhero Captain America with Mr. Potatohead-esque arms, legs, and head that you stick right into the pumpkin. We completed our decorating with a little sprinkle of the smallest pumpkins, skulls, a string of lights around the fireplace, and a perch of a few black crows on some branches.

CLICK HERE for pictures of our pumpkin patch excursion and Halloween decorating.

Later, Jack was really excited about carving a pumpkin and when we were finished he gave it a big hug. One of the funny things about living in San Francisco is that we have hot weather for most of October so our pumpkin quickly developed a thick layer of mold and rotted within a few days. Note to self for next year: be sure to buy two or three large pumpkins at the pumpkin patch to have some on hand!

CLICK HERE for pictures with Jack and his pumpkin.

Jack had his first opportunity to wear his Batman costume when we headed back to the Bay Area Discovery Museum for our third year at their annual Goblin Jamboree. It’s great to come home with a treat bag of plastic spiders and stickers instead of candy. This fun fundraiser has become an annual event for us – see how Jack has grown and flashback to our previous visits.

CLICK HERE for this year's pictures in Jack's Batman costume at the Goblin Jamboree.

Lastly, just before Halloween, Jack and I drove to Monterey for the weekend. Monterey has an amazing aquarium and a beautiful coastline to explore that kept us busy. We were also able to get in some trick-or-treating along the main drag through town, Lighthouse Avenue, where business owners dressed up and handed out candy. Jack was Spiderman this time. It was another hot day and we finished trick-or-treating just as Jack started complaining he was hot and wanted to take off his costume – just as well, the candy was melting too!

CLICK HERE for more pictures of our trip to Monterey's Aquarium, coastline, and Trck-or-Treating,

Sharing our Monterey treasures with you