Bribery (and a Dream Lite)

Dream Light

First and foremost, I was not paid in any way, coerced, asked, suggested, or even chatted with about this post from anyone at Dream Lite. Nope. In fact, the last thing I would have ever imagined picking up for my tot this weekend WAS a Dream Lite. And it all started with a bit of bribery.


That’s right.

I bribed my tot.

There’s been a lot going on lately, between starting a new preschool, having a new schedule, me not having as much time for her lately, and my husband’s commute pretty much being THE WORST lately, I was starting to seriously twitch every night at bedtime when she tossed her regular nightly fit.

We try to stay away from watching the big TV. We catch Sesame Street in the morning, maybe a bit of Sprout in the afternoon, but not much else. So when my tot started asking for this so called “dream light” thing, I had no clue. I made up songs, hit her up with some imaginary play (still trying to figure it out) and then one afternoon I finally caught the commercial (after I had left Poppy Cat on too long…). Dreeeaaaam liiiiight, DREAAAAAAM light. You know it if you’ve seen it.

And then it got it.

This was a great opportunity to bribe my tot with a toy (which is something I really haven’t done before) and go with it. I was done with the hours of listening to the whining, the trying talking to my tot in the same tone of voice she was using, the yelling, the serious grey hairs that were popping.

So I did it.

I told her if she behaved herself at school like a big girl, was nice and quiet at bedtime, I’d pick her up a Dream Lite. Well, low and behold, the tot held up her part of the bargain, so the husband and I found ourselves searching around our non-box-store-allowed town for a crap-tastic Dream Lite. After picking the coveted thing up, we headed home, loaded the thing up with batteries, and then listed to the tot complain about how it didn’t work AT ALL.

Finally it got dark out and then the magic happened.

It worked.

She was amazed, in love, in awe. Honestly, we were too.

There’s no way you can share pictures (because taking pictures in the dark just doesn’t work) but all I know is that my tot LOVES going to sleep, falls asleep, and the husband and I sneak downstairs to check out the glowing stars too.

Thank you Dream Lites.

Thank you.

Oakland Zoo

Today we spent the entire day at the Oakland Zoo. We’d never been there so weren’t sure how things would go but were pleasantly surprised by happy animals, friendly people, and lots and lots of open space to wander. We even enjoyed a decent meal, got to meet a snake, and loved the petting area. We went to the San Francisco Zoo last year and were not that impressed. The penguins seemed sad (and their area was dirty), the lions wouldn’t even look at anyone, and it seemed small and frustrated. Yeah, yeah. I know, the whole “zoo” thing. But I was happy to learn that many of the animals at the Oakland Zoo had been rescued from circuses or homes/ranges that thought they could raise a chimp…

If you’re in the Bay Area, the price of admission is totally budget friendly ($9.75 for kids over 2, 15 and up for $13.75 – with a $7 parking fee), and you can bring your own lunch or pick something up for around $6 per person, making the Oakland Zoo is a great way to spend a leisurely day. There are tons of benches for sitting and relaxing, a play area for the kids, lots of tables for eating, and a fantastic children’s educational area.

Sunday spectacular: Sometimes you get locked out of the house

You know, stuff happens. This week was full of stuff and then before I knew it the week was over. A couple of things did stand out from the rest and it just so happened that I got pictures of them.

And, yes. We got locked out of the house. But it was okay, really.

The tot continued exploring her tape obsession…

I roasted a whole duck. It took almost four hours, and the picture doesn’t look very tasty, but I think it might have been the best thing I’ve ever made in my kitchen. They were on sale at the store and we went back and bought three more, and then spent almost an hour trying to figure out how to fit them in the freezer (and suffered a head injury from a falling vase from atop the fridge (don’t ask)).

In honor of National Waffle Day, which was on Friday, we whipped up a batch of peanut butter and jelly waffles and my tot ate them all. And they were super easy. I just followed the waffle directions of that big box of mix stuff and then folded in a big spoonful of peanut butter along with a few big dollops of our favorite strawberry jelly.


(I now realize after looking at this picture that my tot wore this dress over several days last week. Oh well.)

We got the tot her first haircut and we ALL SURVIVED. I’ll share more about that over on LilSugar in a couple of days.

After going for a walk the tot and I found ourselves locked out but made the best of it by having a grape picnic in the yard with our happy wine grapes that are weaving their way through our fence. Don’t worry, the husband came home within and hour and things went back to normal (mommy I wanna watch TV!).

And we rounded things off with an awesome visit to the local farmers market.

How was your week? I hope it was lovely!

Leave a comment with a link to your favorite post or picture of the week….

California Academy of the Sciences (and a toddler)

Yesterday we all had the day off and decided to (finally) take advantage of a few free passes the husband had won for admission at the California Academy of the Sciences in San Francisco (before they expired at the end of the month). Located next to the de Young Museum, and the Japanese Tea Garden, as well as paths and paths in Golden Gate Park, this is a total destination spot for San Francisco visitors – and even those of us that live in the Bay Area. There is no way to explain this place. With aquariums galore (one you even walk under), crazy realistic stuffed animals, real penguins, baby ostriches running about, amazingly good food, a complete faux rainforest with three levels, a planetarium, special exhibits, interactive activities for the kids, museum shops, and upper natural living roof observational level, you can’t go wrong. I’ll be honest – admission isn’t cheep. But, if you’ve got a toddler like we do (kids 3 and under are free), it’s not that bad. And there’s enough stuff for the tots to keep them entertained and engaged. We did everything twice – and being there on a weekday meant less crowds. Kids under 6 aren’t allowed in the planetarium, which gives us something to look forward to in the future. My husband did an awesome job taking pictures while I chased after the tot…

Want more info? Here’s the California Academy of Sciences website.

What to do when your toddler colors on everything and anything

Remember last week when I shared that post about right-brained dominant (a.k.a super creative) kids? While writing it, my toddler was enjoying her not-really nap-time. She doesn’t really sleep anymore, she just has quiet time in her room. I’ve got it stocked with her favorite books, stuffed animals, a chalk board with chalk, and most recently, crayons and a few coloring books. She’s really into creating tons and tons of creations to mail to Gamma and Opa, so I figured I could trust her to keep those crayons on the paper.

Because, you remember when she colored on the wall, right?

(which resulted in the homemade chalk board…)

The thing is, your toddler is hard-wired to make marks. Her right-brain is in overload, desperately searching for ways to share thoughts, feelings, and ideas. This stage of creation is referred to as the scribble stage, due to the child’s desire to scribble, scribble, scribble. Nothing looks like much, but your toddler can actively tell you about the animals, monsters, people, and other crazy stuff in artworks. Before you discard those pages and pages of scribbles, understand it is the expression of your child’s brain developing in amazing ways. From starting to understand hand-eye coordination to simple mathematical concepts, your toddler’s scribbles are the stepping stone to speech, reading, and writing development.

Meaning, it’s a good idea to encourage your child’s disorganized scribbling as much as possible.

But what to do when your child colors on everything and anything possible?

Remember the afore-mentioned day – that day I was writing and the tot was “napping?” When I went down to see if she had actually fallen asleep, because things had gotten pretty quiet, I made quite the discovery. She had colored everywhere. From her dresser to her closet doors to her side table to her light switch, just about everything in her room had a colorful mark.

Before I took a moment to think I scolded her. Instantly I realized it was the absolute wrong decision. She had spent just over an hour artfully decorating her room in a way she was excited about and excited to share with me. She had spent time expressing herself though scribbles and colors (really, each area was a different color combination), and she was looking forward to dazzling me with its beauty. And, I had left those crayons in her room. After we both calmed down, the two of us spent some quality time together cleaning up those scribbles and discussing where those crayons belong – on paper!

Do you have a super scribbler? Here are a few simple ways to encourage those marks to stay where you want them:

Don’t leave any mark making implements within reach of your child (unless you are right there!): Yes, this is a bit of a no-brainer, but, as your toddler ages, you begin to feel they have an understanding of keeping crayons on the paper. Remember your toddler is still a toddler (until the age of four) and still has those inner-toddler instincts to see what might happen. Leaving crayons out for your child is an open invitation to color away on whatever is available. Make time to color alongside your toddler showing your amazing skills to keep those crayon scribbles on your own paper. Toddlers love copying behavior.

Designate a coloring area: Make a spot in your home just for your toddler to create. Whether it’s the kitchen table, a small end table no one uses or an easel in the corner, make sure your toddler knows this is “the spot” to go for making marks. Keep the area stocked with paper, stickers, and chalk (which washes off everything) but keep the markers and crayons out of reach. When your child finds herself over at her creative spot, offer crayons, markers, or paints – but keep an eye on things. As your child matures, she’ll understand the area is for being creative, and markers shouldn’t travel around the house.

Don’t be afraid: Sure, you might not be into fingerprinting, but your child is. Art is one of the main ways a child defines who they are. Getting creative with your child shows that you find her scribbles important, encouraging her self-esteem. You’re going to get messy. Your child is going to get messy. Stuff in your house might get messy. But, if you have a plan of attack, and stay calm, things will turn out wonderfully. Use plastic placements under paper to cut back on mess. Or, place a sheet pan under artwork while painting. Keep a wet washcloth (or a container of baby wipes) next to your creative area to tackle messes the minute they happen.

Don’t yell (but don’t praise either): At some point your child is probably going to color on something. Hopefully, it will be with a mark-making implement that is washable. Before reacting, take a deep breath. If you are expecting it to happen during the toddler years it won’t be such a big surprise when you come across a colored white wall, right? Start by acknowledging what you see and then calmly explaining that crayons only belong on paper. Walk your child over to your creative area and get out a paper for your child to scribble on. Once she’s had a moment to make a few marks, remove the crayons. Walk back to your newly colored wall and discuss how the walls aren’t for coloring, but for hanging pictures and that you can frame one of her artworks to look at….

Frame your child’s scribbles and hang them on the wall: Even though you might not think her scribbles are anything exciting, she sure does. If your child spends a good amount of time on a creation, pick up a simple frame (less than $10 at the craft store!), pop in her artwork, and display in your home. Make sure to point it out to your toddler or hang it at just above arms reach so she can stand in front of her framed artwork and appreciate it. Not only are you showing you are proud of her and her abilities, you are encouraging her to continue exploring her creativity.

So get out the crayons and start scribbling – on paper!




Sunday stuff

It was  a good and bad weekend. It’s not a big deal or anything, so don’t freak out. Things have been a bit hectic for the last couple of weeks and I’ve scrambled to hold everything together. I’ve also been really determined to do it all “on my own” and am not so good about “asking others for help.”


So it all came out in a big breakdown the other night, which was pretty unfair to the husband. He already does so much – and not so fair for me to do the total female crying-wailing-drama thing.

But the salvation of it all was our new thing.

This thing.

This radio.

Since its amazing arrival we’ve been listening to it. LISTENING to it. The TV has been off, us adults have been a bit more attentive to the tot, and the husband and I are having good and beneficial conversations. We also spent most of the weekend outdoors. Seriously, who can resist the smiles of a toddler in a tutu swimsuit on a play horse?

We also had an amazing meal of grilled chicken thighs alongside grilled salad.


So, all in all, things turned out just fine. Sometimes you have to deal with the bad to get to the good, right?



Sunday spectacular: Spring garden

It’s been a long time since I’ve shared a Sunday spectacular. Things have been busy, but today, due to my new iPhone, I had a camera handy to document our wonderful day full of gardening. The tot is finally old enough to (kinda) understand what we’re doing out there in the yard, and really gets into checking the plants for buds, pulling weeds (and sometimes other stuff that I have to go back and re-plant), and excitedly awaiting the strawberries to turn red.

This is the third summer we’ll be at our house and we are finally figuring out what does well where. Today I dug up a few trees and found them new homes, purchased native plants to add to our hillside, and even put together a few hanging baskets.

It was an awesome day.

So, do you garden with the family? What are your favorite garden goodies?



Turn off & tune in

This week has been awesome. The weather has been amazing, the tot has been well behaved (as well as the adults), and even with the itty-bit of bad weather, there’s been fun things to do. We’ve been here before, which really makes it feel like we’re hangin’ at our beach house. Along with some serious beach time, there has been some extra-long walks around town and along the boardwalk.

Not much time for chatting on Twitter or posting on Facebook.

I’ll admit. At first my fingers twitched every time something awesome happened, wanting to grab the hubs’ camera to update via Hipstamatic. And I totally had to hold back from tweeting through our tasty lunch in La Jolla. And then there was that totally awesome moment with the tot in the sand and the birds and the surfers and the food and the farmers market…..

I turned off.

I put the laptop away and left the husband’s phone to the husband.

And, then, it happened.

I tuned in.

I started noticing things. Like wearing a swimsuit really isn’t the worst thing ever. And I’m the kind of girl that actually does like wearing big floppy sun hats – and they look pretty okay on me. I’m also all good with eating fried fish and chips every day for lunch and not spending the rest of the day worrying about if my thighs look fat. And that hanging out in the sand with your child really is super fun even though that sand ends up in areas not so desirable (which is what showers are for, right?).

And I discovered that sometimes putting away all the gadgets and just tuning into what makes you really happy without sharing it every 10-seconds kicks some serious ass.

Here are some more pictures of surfers and stuff.


I’ll see ya on Monday.

A rainy day in La Jolla

We decided to head out on an adventure because the weather wasn’t going to be too wonderful, which meant it wasn’t going to be a vacation beach day. Just down the way is the town of La Jolla, and we’d heard good things. With a museum, an aquarium, cute shops and restaurants, plus cliffs and beaches, it seemed like the perfect destination for a rainy day in Southern California.

When you have a toddler, things always take a bit longer than you expect. After loading up the car, getting everyone and everything together, we got a later start than planned. So, once we actually found (yes, we got lost along the way) La Jolla, it was time for some lunch before attempting any sort of adventure. We stumbled upon The Spot amidst the wind and looming clouds and cozied up in a corner booth.

Um, yum.

This place was perfect for a family lunch, with reasonably priced options and a friendly atmosphere. I ordered the blue cheese covered lamb burger (medium rare, thank you very much) and it was amazing. After we had all noshed down our food, we made our way through town – quickly – before the rain started coming down. Then we jumped in the car and enjoyed from there.

All in all?

Great day.

And, we’ll be heading back for another fun-filled time in La Jolla to check out the aquarium – on a day when it’s not going to rain…


Date night (with a toddler)

It’s been a long week. The tot came down with a pretty nasty sick ick and the husband was super busy. On top of all that, the hubs had something going on tonight (Friday), which meant I would be on my own all day and evening with the tot. Yeah, yeah. I know some of you are rolling your eyes. But, after being with her all week, and the husband only seeing her for about two hours total each day, I was a wreck.

Last night the husband had a crazy idea. What about a date night – with the tot in tow? She and I could take the ferry into the city, rendezvous with him at the Ferry Building to enjoy a quick dinner (and a sampling of other tasty goodies), and then the tot and I could return home on the ferry with the hubs following behind an hour or so after.

At first I thought he was joking.

Load up a sickie, drag her onto a ferry, and then try to have a tasty meal out in the city?!


I did it.

We had an awesome time. Sure, she yelled the entire time on the ferry that she was going to see her dada. Sure, she wasn’t wonderfully behaved while we were eating – but we sat outside and it didn’t matter. And, yeah, I forgot to take a picture of our dinner (but we can partially blame that on the margherita I had with the meal).

But, here are a couple of other pics…

Happy Friday!