Category Archives: Uncategorized

For those tough days…

Here’s one parenting resource that is extremely helpful.  Check out Hand In Hand Parenting.  I had the pleasure of attending one of their seminars on dealing with emotionally charged kids.  The tools they talked about using as a form of discipline were extremely loving and seem to work (most of the time).  For example, check out their strategy to curb aggression with the “vigorous snuggle”

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making memories & mini muffins

This afternoon, I picked up my boys early from school just so we could spend some special time.   After naps, we made some zucchini mini muffins.  From start to finish, it was such a joyous activity.   Making the batter was just plain fun.  For starters, I will always remember – Bobby’s gleeful dumping of everything into the bowl.   And, his radiating smile of accomplishment.  Especially with the flour, which when it spilled all over the counter provided a nice opportunity for controlling me to let go.  After all, who cares if the flour spills?

Then, CJ playing with the muffin tin liners – happily sorting them from spot to spot.   It was just one of those moments that I’ll remember forever, like reading stories and singing them songs as they enter dreamland.  Motherhood is surely god’s greatest blessing.  And, this mama is so eternally grateful.

For those of you who want to try the zucchini banana mini muffins, here’s the recipe.

Preheat oven to 350.  Line muffin tin.  Mix butter and sugar until creamy.  Add vanilla, salt, baking soda,  Add zucchini and bananas.  Add eggs and cinnamon.  Then add flour.  Mix until blended.   Check after 15 minutes.  Done when the toothpick comes out clean.  Enjoy the muffins but more importantly savor the memory.

adapted from King Arthur Flour‘s Heavenly Healthy Banana Bread available at kingarthurflour.com

Oakland Zoo – Five Reasons to Go

Take a trip to the Oakland Zoo!  In addition to wildlife, the Zoo has a darling little amusement park. With both it’s easy to give them a fabulous experience.

  1. The animals.  From elephants to bats, there are tons of creatures for kids to get see.
  2. Playgrounds & Amusement Park – My boys enjoyed the playgrounds inside the zoo best.  With a spider web for budding superheroes, tunnels, and even lily pads, it is a great place for young explorers.  In addition, the amusement park boasting vintage rides is especially kid friendly.
  3. ZooKids Program – Want to go on a weekend? Try their ZooKids program geared for children age 4-5. ZooKids classes are held on Saturdays from 9:30am – 12:00pm and are offered twice per month. The program includes a mini zoo tour, craft, games, animal close-ups, and a snack. For details check here:  http://www.oaklandzoo.org/ZooKids_Program.php
  4. For PreK kids, then let them try one of the camps.  Summer ZooCamp, Thanksgiving Break ZooCamp, Winter ZooCamp, and Spring Break ZooCamp.  Children get to tour the Zoo each day, sing silly songs, make crafts, see animals upclose, meet zookeepers, and do hands-on science activities.
  5. Live in the Oakland area, well, then Oakland’s Zoo travels!  Bring it to your home for a special event or party.  For areas, check out – http://www.oaklandzoo.org/ZooMobile.php

making memories & mini muffins

This afternoon, I picked up my boys early from school just so we could spend some special time.   After naps, we made some zucchini mini muffins.  From start to finish, it was such a joyous activity.   Making the batter was just plain fun.  For starters, I will always remember – Bobby’s gleeful dumping of everything into the bowl.   And, his radiating smile of accomplishment.  Especially with the flour, which when it spilled all over the counter provided a nice opportunity for controlling me to let go.  After all, who cares if the flour spills?

Then, CJ playing with the muffin tin liners – happily sorting them from spot to spot.   It was just one of those moments that I’ll remember forever, like reading stories and singing them songs as they enter dreamland.  Motherhood is surely god’s greatest blessing.  And, this mama is so eternally grateful.

For those of you who want to try the zucchini banana mini muffins, here’s the recipe.

Preheat oven to 350.  Line muffin tin.  Mix butter and sugar until creamy.  Add vanilla, salt, baking soda,  Add zucchini and bananas.  Add eggs and cinnamon.  Then add flour.  Mix until blended.   Check after 15 minutes.  Done when the toothpick comes out clean.  Enjoy the muffins but more importantly savor the memory.

adapted from King Arthur Flour‘s Heavenly Healthy Banana Bread available at kingarthurflour.com

Bobby’s Banana Crunch Bliss

ice cream!My Bobby is quite a little chef. He’s always adding things to traditional recipes, like chamomile tea to banana bread. If you’ve been following my blog, then Bobby’s creativity isn’t new to you as I detailed the chamomile tea incident in my Mommy Manifesto post.

In any event, the recent weather has been another excuse to challenge Bobby’s creativity. It’s been hot out here in Sonoma. The 90 degree days mean something other than breaking out the kiddie pool. They also mean it’s time to break out the ice cream maker. Last year, I experimented with basic vanilla and chocolate creams. This year, I’m doing something different.

That difference is that Bobby is now in charge of picking the flavors. Our first batch of the season was banana cream ice cream. For our second batch, Bobby wanted to add ice cream cones and other goodies to the mix. So, we made a new flavor which we call banana crunch bliss. Basically it was the banana base plus a bunch of delicious toppings – sugar cones, marshmallows and chocolate shavings. Sound good? You can make it too!

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 super ripe room temp bananas
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • mixings ( 1/2 cup marshmallows, 3 mashed sugar cones, 1/4 c chocolate shavings)

Mix the eggs with a fork for a bit. Slowly add the sugar. Mix until blended. Add the cream and milk. Chill the mixture for a few hours. Then, freeze per the instructions of your ice cream maker. Mash the bananas. Do this right before you add them to the mix otherwise they’ll brown. After the ice cream firms, add the bananas, then the toppings. If too soft, then freeze.

If you’re like my boys, then this batch won’t last long in your freezer. So, get ready to get creative with the next one!

this recipe is adapted from the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream cookbook.

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Take A Trip To Fairyland

Discoverying Mushrooms

Take a break from reality and checkout Fairyland. Catch a puppet show, find a rabbit hole and climb up the Jolly Roger.

Before Disneyland, there was Fairyland. Hidden in the middle of busy Oakland, this hidden gem is perfect for young kids. It offers a fun fantasy filled experience for tots and adults alike.

Founded in 1950 by Arthur Navlet, Fairyland has given generations of tots a fun place to develop their imaginations. From Pinocchio to Alice in Wonderland, Fairyland allows kids to interact with their favorite stories.

Moderately priced at $8 for adults and kids over 1 (under 1 are free), Fairyland is an affordable outing. Make sure to grab a key to the fairytale story boxes – $3 a key. Bobby loved holding and using the key to unlock the story boxes.

photo(2)Bobby and CJ recently experienced Fairyland. He loved running around the grounds, exploring miniature houses and riding the little train around the park.  They also loved sliding down the rabbit hole into a painted tunnel. At the end of the tunnel, they enjoyed the painted maze themed after the Queen of Hearts.  Then,we popped by to meet Peter Rabbit.

The music tunnel is pretty fabulous as well.  Both boys basically ran in circles, discovering instruments along the way.  The best part was getting to stand in the middle watching them run around.  Ahh, life as only one can experience in fairyland.

Fairyland has more than fairy themed play structures. It has puppet shows and guest appearances from characters like the Cat in the Hat. There are children’s theater performances from June to October.  We may catch the show about the dragons.  While the theater performances are less frequent, the puppet shoes run daily.  Who knew that a puppet show would mesmerize a two busy bustling boys? I sure didn’t.  They loved watching and listening to the story of the Elves & the Shoemaker.

Of course with so much active play, the kids might need some fuel. Fairyland does have a simple and moderately priced snack bar.  With PB&J, chicken burgers and turkey sandwiches on the menu, you’ll find something. I’d have to recommend the sandwiches over the burgers though. The chicken burger I ordered was breaded and fried, resembling a hockey puck. If you want to play it safe, you can bring your own lunch as Fairyland has a grassy picnic area.

After lunch, you can let your tots expel excess energy by running around the playgrounds.  Then pop back in the car and enjoy a quick drive back to the Valley or stay in the Oakland area and enjoy a myriad of things to do.  Berkeley Bowl is worth a stop.  With endless rows of fresh produce, it’s a great educational not to mention culinary experience for wee ones.  For other ideas check my article on Tilden Park .

similar article published at http://www.sonomanews.com/News-2011/Spotlight-Oaklands-Fairyland/

Mommy Manifesto: Embracing Muddy Puddles & Chamomile Infused Banana Bread

photo(25) The struggle between pursing a career and mothering is intense.  For neither seem to be able to be accomplished with perfection simultaneously.  I personally decided to ease up on the career to dedicate myself to nurturing my two boys.  Working in a different capacity has enabled me to spend more time with my boys.  However, the cost of doing is definitely a detour from the traditional career path for women lawyers.  Although I own up to this decision, doing so hasn’t eliminated the tug of war between the two.

As the case may be, when the tug of war seems to lean towards career or when I question my decision, one of my boys will do something that reminds me of why this decision was so important.  The goal of maximizing my time with my boys always wins out.  But what I do with that time, and what I’m trying to cultivate with my boys is so important.  My mommy manifesto is to:

  • raise them with love, support and compassion
  • nurture their interests
  • let them explore
  • foster their natural curiosity
  • make them appreciate the world around them
  • photo(26)teach a respect for other living creatures
  • build confidence
  • let them feel free to discover their wings and fly as they wish
  • let them feel secure
  • help them connect to the world around them
  • experience beauty, music, sports, art
  • raise them with a goal of independence and independent thinking
  • teach them to embrace their weaknesses
  • appreciate their differences and learn that being different is a strength
  • try not to coddle
  • be accepting of messes, for what brings more fun than a muddy puddle? or a sandbox
  • seek environments for them that align with the above and minimize their exposure to environments that don’t

I’m not saying that doing the above is easy or that it happens everyday.  Take an example from the other day.  Bobby wanted to cook.  So, we decided to make banana bread.  As I turned my back, he dumped in some of his chamomile tea.  I really had no idea how much tea he dumped in, nor did it really matter. The fact that he did so, really irked me.  I was angry that he didn’t follow directions.

Then, I stepped back, took a breath.  Asking myself two questions put everything in perspective:  1) who cares, and 2) what does it matter.  After all, does it really matter how the bread turned out?  And could being a stickler in this instance stifle his creativity?  Who was I to judge? Maybe he was onto something.  Maybe chamomile tea would add an extra special element to banana bread.  Who was I to stop his creative process?  In the end, the bread was a little dry as it took longer to cook, but everyone loved it anyways.

So, I’ve learned my lesson.  Next time we do cooking experiments, I’ll be making two batters.  One for Bobby and one for me.

What’s your mommy manifesto?