Thursday, April 2, 2009

Weekend Without Mom, Apr.4-5

Since I'm going to the Startup Weekend in SF, the kids will be without the mother. It lasts from Friday night to Sunday night. The longest my husband has been with the alone kids - five hours. I tried to plan a simple kind of a weekend for him to minimize stress (and with everything written out).

08:00-08:30 get up, get kids dressed
08:30-09:30 eat breakfast (pancakes & sour cream & jam), if extra time watch Russian Jungle Book
09:30-10:00 drive to Palo Alto Junior Museum
10:00-12:00 Explore Palo Alto Junior Museum
12:00-12:30 drive home
12:30-13:30 set table, eat lunch (turkey pot pie)
13:30-14:00 play outside in the garden with the ball ("soccer")
14:00-17:30 sleep, eat a snack (lean pockets in ziplock bag in freezer), play; if kids wake up before 16:30, go to Oakmont Produce to buy organic strawberries for dinner
17:30-18:00 drive to L.'s drawing class
18:00-19:00 class, walk with A. outside in the park
19:00-20:30 make pelmeni, set table, eat dinner, put kids in bed

SUNDAY, April 5
08:00-08:20 get up, get kids dressed
08:20-08:45 eat breakfast (waffles with yogurt)
08:45-09:00 prepare food to go
09:00-10:00 drive to Oakland Zoo
10:00-13:00 see the zoo, eat lunch
13:00-14:00 drive home
14:00-16:00 nap
16:00-18:15 snack (salami & cheese & cream cheese & bread); Ortega Park
18:00-18:30 drive home
18:30-19:00 dinner (stuffed cabbage)
19:00-20:30 play, go to sleep
23:00 hopefully, mom comes home & collapses

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

No classes

Yesterday I cried for the first time in many months out of sheer despair over the behavior of my child. We went to the 3rd soccer class with L. and he refused to go out on the field. I tried probably 15 different approaches, short of bribes and threats, and nothing. The two coaches tried to talk him into joining the game - and nothing. Today, he refused to go to his music class too. I feel quite helpless, for I don't know what to do. The only approach that I think can work at this time is bribery and I'm just not sure I want to do that. On the other hand, those classes are for his enrichment and development (music for memory and soccer for gross motor)...

I guess I'll have to wait for next week and see what happens then.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Reality vs. Plan, March 28

Reality report for the plan of March 28.

Because we came very early to the cable car stop (9am), there was virtually no line and we sat on the outside seats. Of course, there were people in front of us holding the poles, but that cannot be helped. It was a nice ride up and down the SF hills, that took us all the way to Powell & Market, from which we walked to the Asian Art Museum.

Unlike our first visit, the kids were not as entranced, not surprisingly, as this particular museum material is harder to appreciate for ones so young. We enjoyed looking at the swords, animal sculptures, and of course, going up and down the escalator. Then we wanted to take the trolley back to North Beach, but it was broken. Well.

We took the taxi (we could have taken the metro, but there were 6 of us, and taxi was cheaper and faster) to Rose Pistola (reserved on OpenTable). On this, our third, visit there, we ordered smoked salmon & soft egg appetizer, sweet potato gnocchi with prosciutto, and chicken with asparagus, all very well done. This left us just enough room in our bellies to go next door to Gelateria Naia‎ (Rocher ice cream, mmmmmmmmmmm!). We found that for our family, splitting two entrees, occasionally adding an appetizer or a dessert, is usually a perfect amount of food for four.

We then walked to our garage (we parked at Hilton; we should have looked around the corner for cheaper parking). We did in fact quite a bit of walking, but it was a good day to do that.

After we drove home and put kids down for their nap, we left instructions to my parents, and jumped on the rare opportunity to go to theater. For dinner before the performance, we went to Emile's in San Jose, our second time there, and it was a bit underwhelming. We ordered cream of mushroom soup (good but average), les grenadines des troi roi (supposedly on grilled potato croutons, but in fact on just mashed potatoes), and roasted moscovy duck breast a l'orange with wild rice (solid but unexciting). Certainly, made us wish that we try some place else for the next time. The performance, however, was great. We saw Camelot, which in my haste to find something interesting I took to be a play, but was in fact a musical. The performers were professional, the set design incredible, and the story surprisingly complex (as average musicals go, of course).

Friday, March 27, 2009

Plan for March 28

light posting: grandparents in town

07:30-08:00 get up, get dressed, get breakfast to go
08:00-09:00 drive to garage at 590 Bay St, SF
09:00-09:10 walk to Hyde St. and North Point St. cable car stop (twd Columbus Av, right, left on North Point)
09:10-09:50 take the Powell-Hyde cable car to Powell-Market (end of the line)
09:50-10:00 walk to 200 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94102 (Asian Art Museum of SF) (20)
10:00-11:30 explore the museum
11:30-12:30 take F-line streetcar from 9th & Larkin (or 8th & Hyde) to the end Jones St & Beach St (see stops at
12:30-14:00 walk to Rose Pistola (532 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA; RESERVED for 1pm)
14:00-15:00 drive home
15:00-17:30 nap time; prepare grandparents for the evening (ask to buy plain yogurt & milk)

- grandparents: have dinner with kids, walk to the produce store to buy fruits & milk, play, read, sleep
- parents: dinner @Emile's restaurant, Camelot @Montgomery Theater in San Jose

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Memberships & Competition

My oldest L. (3.7-yr-old) has reached the stage where he wants to be first all the time. Unfortunately, he doesn't quite understand that in order to be first, you have to make an effort, you can't just expect others to step aside. So, in the morning, L. wants to dress faster than A. (whom I dress), and gets very upset when that doesn't happen (which is pretty much always because L. dawdles).

So we get to have these conversation where I explain the meaning of competition to him, but that hasn't quite helped him feel better about it.

On the plus side, Cali weather is finally shaping up, and we've bought the Gold Pass to Great America & Gilroy Gardens, which are opening very soon. This Sunday we'll renew our Oakland Zoo membership, which means we will have five memberships:
  1. CA Academy of Sciences
  2. Oakland Zoo
  3. Gilroy Gardens
  4. Great America
  5. San Jose Children's Discovery Museum (CDM)
This should give us plenty of variety over the summer and fall. Add in occasional fun events like Maker Faire (yeehaw, bought tickets for that too), and voila, meaningful family weekends.

Before kids, we would never get memberships, but if you plan to go to these places twice or thrice (which, chances are, you would), the memberships are more cost-effective.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Injuries and Recipes

Yesterday, our son A. (2.2-yr-old) almost lost his eye. He was running and hit his eye right on the edge of the platform that supports our staircase railing. The cut was less than 1/4 inch away from the eye. Strange, how easily children can come to disability or death. L., being older (3.7-yr-old), had more accidents. When he was about a year, he fell down almost a complete flight of stairs onto hard tile floor. When he was 3, he almost drowned. I can't say that we're very careful parents, we're pretty laid back about baby-proofing (more of the 'remove the temptation' philosophy, rather than 'let's cover everything in plastic' philosophy). On the other hand, our kids (knock-knock on wood) have had very few serious or unserious injuries, i.e., very few cuts or bruises or bleeding of any kind. So, rationally, I have to pronounce yesterday as "one of those days", but of course, there's some nagging thought remaining "maybe I should do something about it".

Today I made another attempt to make granola, this time using Mark Bittman's recipe ( as a base. My adaptation:
1.5 cup of rolled oats
0.5 cup of rye flakes
2/3 c chopped almonds
1 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp wheat germ
3 tbsp flax seeds
1 tbsp psyllium husks
1/3 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tbsp of agave syrup
2 tbsp of brown rice syrup
little less than 1/4 c oil
1.5 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup dried currants (after cooking)
I also added 1/4 salt which I won't next time: it came out a bit salty. And, despite what seems like tons of syrup, didn't really come out all that sweet. Also, I overcooked it AGAIN! Argh. I have to learn to take it out before it is the right color, because it continues cooking and crispens outside the oven.

I also made some meat for my salad, a variation on "nedosicheniki": cut up lean beef into small pieces (0.25-0.5 inches); fry on high without oil until no longer red; add thyme, powdered garlic, and red wine and cook until the liquid has evaporated; add egg and fry until the egg is cooked; divide it up and freeze it. I take half a cup of this meat, warm it in the huge microwaveable glass bowl, add several handfuls of salad, a bit of olive oil, a touch of parmesan, and voila, a filling lunch or dinner.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Reality vs. plan report, March 22

Given that I finished all the clean-up the night before, the early morning was quite lazy: we got up, I made some "grenki" (dense white french bread baguette, sliced and fried in eggs), added granola and cottage cheese to the table, and we all had lazy breakfast. We talked, we played, and then we had our first guests - from the Russian group, four kids in total, with their parents. We read a few stories, we played, but didn't get a chance to play a game outside (I thought it was too slippery after the rain), maybe next time. Then we had lunch, watched Shrek (we were too lazy to do anything else), had a nap, woke up just in time for the next set of guests, played with them, after the guests we listened to some music, had dinner, and it was basically time for bed. Nothing extraordinary.

In one word, lazy. It's good to have such days, given how busy with activity and travel most of our weekends are. It's good, occasionally, to recharge.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Plan vs. reality, March 21

Pretty smooth sailing. It actually rained (which I didn't factor in), but lucky us - the rain started only when we got into the car to drive home. Woke up pretty late, 8:45am, but plenty of time to dress and eat breakfast. Drove to CDM, parked really close (since we came early), went in for an hour and a half. They have two new exhibits, "Out on a Limb" (looks pretty but there's little to do) and water play. The kids really enjoyed the last one, of course, getting wet despite the aprons.

Upstairs, it was all old stuff, but they both got a huge kick out of a pyramid mirror, where you could see multiple you. I find the museum a bit boring, and it's really a solitary experience at this point: the kids play by themselves, one each, and we just follow them around, occasionally voicing a concern, a warning, or a suggestion. A good place to kill time, and excellent for rainy weather (albeit crowded), but not at all in the list of my favorites.

Then we walked to the Tech, a nice 15-20 min walk and the weather cooperated, bought the tickets for the Flight of Magic IMAX movie, had lunch in the cafe, and played in the store for a few minutes before the show. I took lunch to go, and it was a huge hit: chicken-celery pirozhki (which I heated at home and wrapped in foil and towel), havarti cheese-cream cheese sandwich, baby carrots, campari tomatoes, apple sauce and water. The movie was pretty good, although I wish they spent more time talking about how people learned how to fly (starting with Daedalus, not just Wright Brothers) instead of spending the largest proportion of the movie talking about Blue Angels who were preparing for the air show. The kids enjoyed it, of course, although A. (2.2-yr-old) enjoyed it only the first 20-30 min and spent the rest of the time trying to talk and walk around. Sigh.

We walked back to CDM, spent an hour at the birthday (it was a short event; they reserved the room for an hour), and drove home to nap. Unfortunately, they don't reliably fall asleep at nap time, so whatever we plan for after the nap, often doesn't happen or morphs into something else. As it was today. They played with each other instead of sleeping, so after an hour we separated them into different rooms, meaning they didn't fall asleep until almost 5pm. So I ended up going to Whole Foods by myself, which in this case turned out to be a boon: I was shopping for obscure things for my granola & kids' breakfast biscuits (wheat germ, flax, brown rice syrup, amaranth, rye grain flakes, etc).

After dinner, they wanted to play with flashlights, so we turned off the lights in the living room, handed each a flashlight, and off they went running after each other like crazing and making a "moon" and "sun" on the ceiling (they made me "fall asleep" when it was the moon, and "wake up" when it was the sun).

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Eating out as entertainment

Eating out with kids is great (well, doing almost anything with them can be great). You kill more time eating out than at home, you get to try things you don't usually cook, kids learn to select (well, sometimes give their input that occasionally gets incorporated), they learn to behave properly and use the utensils & napkins, they drink more water (because we never order drinks), and did I mention that you kill more time that way?

Eating at my husband's cafeteria at work:

Weekend plans, March 21-22

As per usual, our hope-plan for the coming weekend. Very social, this one.

Saturday, March 21
08:00-09:30 get up, get dressed, eat breakfast (rice-raisin kasha)
09:30-10:00 take lunch-to-go, and birthday gift; drive to Children's Discovery Museum (180 Woz Way, San Jose) & park
10:00-11:00 explore the museum
11:00-11:30 walk to The Tech (201 South Market Street) (20)
11:30-12:00 buy tickets for Magic of Flight, eat lunch at the cafe, play in the store
12:00-12:45 watch IMAX movie
12:45-13:00 walk back to Children's Discovery Museum (20)
13:00-14:30 meet a classmate for birthday celebration
14:30-15:00 drive home
15:00-17:00 nap time
17:00-18:30 shop with kids at Whole Foods
18:30-20:30 dinner, games, cartoon & pjs, reading, sleep

Sunday, March 22
08:00-08:30 get up, get dressed, eat
08:30-10:00 play in the park with papa while I clean the house
10:00-12:00 russian playdate/story time at home
12:00-12:30 lunch
12:30-14:00 go to the mall to return shoes & trunks & buy new ones
14:00-16:00 nap
16:00-16:30 play in the yard with cars and papa
16:30-18:30 daycare friends are coming to visit
18:30-20:30 dinner, games, cartoon & pjs, reading, sleep