Ring Master MomNovember 19, 2013Leave a comment

Trip to NYC

James has a few business trips each year which require him to travel around the U.S. or over to India, Ireland, and Australia. This is sometimes hard on the kids (“How many more sleeps till Daddy comes back?”) and myself as I’m a stay at home Mom. We thought with his trip to NYC in November, we’d all tag along!

James and I have been to NYC a few times, but always separately. I came here right after I finished weaning Patrick (girls trip, woohoo!!) and again last Spring to relive the glory days with my fave college party animals. James has been for work and out and about each night he was able. We knew since James had already booked his flight/hotel that we wouldn’t really have a weekend or time together to do things as a whole family, so we’ve been doing as much as we can while James is still in work-mode.

Before we even got on the airplane, we had to get Alice’s crazy bloody nose taken care of me lots of cold meds for me. Luckily the doc said to keep doing what we were doing with Alice and just be mindful of the dry flight and air on in our hotel room. The handle of one of our suitcases fell on her as we were getting on the shuttle and that was enough to start a bloody nose as we loaded up for our ride from long term parking. It wasn’t totally out of control, but did get on her bunny and shirt. She was a little trooper and doesn’t mind me shoving vaseline up there to make it all better. That and a quick trip to the bathroom to clean up and we were off!

Alice standing in the big taxi queue outside JFK.

Our flight landed on Sunday night, and we checked into our hotel and I got everyone organized and unpacked while James picked up his favorite $1 slices of pizza for a late night snack. Monday, James was off to work and the kids and I got some sweet treats at Magnolia and played in a nearby outdoor playground.

Luckily that was around James’ lunch time and he was within walking distance, so he came over to surprise the kids and we walked him back to work. We had dinner that night at the Rocking Horse Cafe, a place I had many a sangarita with my gals. James walked from his work, and I strapped Alice in a new child carrier pack (by myself!!) and Patrick and I walked 12 blocks for some lovely food and drinks.

I was also able to make a quick Target run before we left, and got some new books, coloring books, crayons, and games to bring along. This has been the perfect quiet time activity at night with Alice and Patrick.

For Tuesday’s adventure, we went to the American Museum of Natural History and dinner together.

Tuesday morning’s forecast called for snow and while we didn’t get any, it was cold enough to ensure that we had indoor plans. But see – not too cold – Alice was rocking bloomers and tights.

The Museum was awesome and while we probably only saw a quarter of the exhibits, it was more than enough for Alice and Patrick. Each exhibit they talked about what they saw, counted things, and asked endless questions when it came to the different cultures. “Why did they not have trees in the desert?” “Why do they wear those masks?” I had a cold start up a few days before we left and had put a brave face on and lots of meds/cough drops/hot beverages, but I really felt spent at the end of the day.

Since the kids’ internal clocks were between PST and EST, we’ve been having a great brunch each morning – sharing a huge fruit plate/yogurt/making our own parfaits, having bagels, coffee, bacon, etc – and a dinner out with James in the evening. This has been a time and money saver that I hadn’t planned, but I’m happy it worked out this way. Also, we haven’t been able to spend all day out and about since Alice is still an afternoon napper, so I’ve been trying to make sure we go out each day without doing too much for the kiddos.

Wednesday morning I woke up feeling absolutely horrendous, so James got some more hardcore cold medicine for me. The kids and I had a lovely brunch and then back up to our hotel room to play, color, and relax so I can recharge. James came back in the evening time and we all walked over to the Empire State Building for a tour and one memorable view of the city.

I love this picture so much. My little daredevil looks quite thrilled to be at the top. And it wasn’t until the next day that I noticed her giving the camera TWO thumbs up. What a ham!

Then dinner at one of James’ favorite BBQ restaurants. Lots of meat, sides, beer, and my family. And me cracking up at Alice who wouldn’t share any cucumber salad because it was hers.

On Thursday, I took the kids to the Children’s Museum of Manhattan and we explored nearly every inch while having a wonderful time getting tons of energy out.

My non-napper Patrick had to take a nice rest after today’s adventure so I was really happy with some quiet time for myself for the first time in a few days. Sometimes vacations can be rough with everyone in a hotel room, but we’ve been very lucky that the kids have had enough outside time despite the colder temps. And, I’m thrilled that the lows reported for the week we were here never really made it that low. It was supposed to snow one morning and we saw nothing. The kids rarely used mittens/hats or even jackets!

Friday we met up with some friends for lunch and the kids got to explore a bit of Brooklyn and Jane’s Carousel followed by one giant and decadent cookie at Jacque Torres.

Our flight was on Saturday afternoon so we weren’t quite sure what to do as a family. We went out for a nice breakfast together and I really felt rotten at this point. James luckily stepped in and took the kids to Central Park for 2 hours while I packed and then napped. This was perfect for me because I had been fighting the flu for so long and not getting better. I finally had no aches after this wonderful nap and this made the flight home easier for me. We had an hour delay once we were all on board and despite my crabbiness of “please – I just want to go home and recover” thoughts in my head, Patrick and Alice were little angels who napped and snacked and cuddled with me.

It was a perfect way to end the trip, so once we were home, I asked Patrick what he wanted for having great behavior in NYC. He replied, “A turkey dinner with mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce…”

After a long week of the kids on my own plus being sick, I could not believe I had the energy to go to Whole Foods and get food for a delicious feast for my family. And of course the smallest turkey they had was 13 pounds! A roaring fire, James and I cooking together, the kids playing games all reminds me how much I have and what a great part of the world I live. While we had grand adventures together in NYC, there’s really no place like home.


Ring Master MomOctober 22, 2013Leave a comment

Things to do in Mountain View

One of my favorite places to go as a child was a small market in Fremont.  It was located on the corner of Mission and Washington and sold fresh produce they grew right behind the building.  It was smaller than a grocery store, yet larger than a roadside stand.  The floor boards weren’t even but the produce was just picked and cheap.  My Mom always let me pick out my favorites and I loved the selection.  As do most wonderful things, it did not last forever.

A new farmers’ market picked up near our home when I was in high school (I believe?!?) and once again, off we went to get the best of that season.  It was great going with my Mom as we could get a great haul together.  Lots of melons during the summer meant toned arms for months!

When I went to Davis for college, I kept the tradition of shopping at our local farmers’ market.  Late Fall and early Winter were my favorite as my good friends knew because that meant just pressed apple juice and caught that morning crab along with a sourdough baguette were the first three items on my list!  The seafood guy knew me immediately and always had his biggest crab waiting just for me.

After moving to Mountain View, I was extremely excited to know that there is a huge farmers’ market here.  In fact, I just read that it’s rated the best farmers’ market in the Bay Area, and #2 in California.  I have waddled through these stalls 9 months pregnant, with newborn babes carried on me, and with two kids in tow.  I usually enjoy going first things as I want to grab bread from Acme before they run out, and quickly grab what I need before it becomes too crowded.  I know there are good deals at the end, and I’ve taken part in “helping” farmers get rid of their haul, but I hate missing out on other things when they’re gone.

I always start with a coffee

and then it’s off to the market!

For the most part, I buy as I go.  If something’s in season like strawberries, I’ll walk around to find the best deal.  Hint: it’s at the stand with everyone in front of it.  Sometimes people are willing to make deals, and sometimes they’re not.  Most of the time I have my kids, they get an extra apple or fruit when they’re helping me pick.  This is good for their return business I’m sure as I’m always back next week!

I am pretty sure they have some activities for kids, but we haven’t done them yet.  Just in and out for produce!

I am a sucker for a sweet setup, too.  These vintage boxes and leaf garland caught my eye and we bought some nuts and golden raisins.

Who can resist these lovely ladies

Or these bags of perfect lettuce and edible flowers

Part of our haul

Patrick walked past the seafood stand and said, “Mommy, stop!!  I want fish for dinner.  That smells sooo good!!” and started licking his lips.  Ha – your wish is my command, kid.  He also picked out lots of fruit and loved the persimmons.  Especially since he got about 5 samples!

What are your favorite things to buy at your farmers’ market?  And where do you go for your finds?


Ring Master MomOctober 8, 2013Leave a comment

Things to do nearby Mountain View – Pumpkin Patches

Even though I am a Bay Area native, I had a hard time finding a local pumpkin patch in Mountain View with Patrick and Alice.  Two years ago we went back to my childhood patch in Fremont at Ardenwood Historic Farm for my lack of finding anything in Mountain View.  Last year I located one closer to us in Sunnyvale but it being on El Camino and next to a Jack in the Box wasn’t having me excited to return.

We grew 4 pumpkins this year despite not planting any seeds last season.  I’m thinking they were dropped by squirrels that run across our back fence and just so happened to plant themselves nicely and appear!

Since I love a variety of pumpkins to display during Fall, I had to look elsewhere.  The Botanist in Los Altos has the best selection of the non-orange pumpkins.  I got these two and can’t wait to go back and get a few more

How great is the contrast on the pink one?  Girly and pink & warty and gross!!  And since there’s another pumpkin patch just down the road from The Botanist, we stopped by to pick up a few small ones.  I love this picture of Alice.  She’s eyeing a giant skeleton behind me.

This patch also has tons of creative classes on how to carve or paint your pumpkin, story time, and face painting.  There’s also a cool corn pit filled with bones

Oh, and fresh popcorn.

Also a cool haunted house through the windows

I love Halloween as most of you know, and am jumping with joy for great local activities and ways to celebrate.



Ring Master MomOctober 7, 2013Leave a comment

Things to do in Mountain View – Parks & Rec Classes

I try not to sign my kids up for many activities while they’re young.  I feel that playing is a great way for them to learn and grow without having to be rushed from one event to another.

The one class I will sign them up for in the Fall is youth soccer through the city.  Mountain View like most cities offers a variety of classes and events and with our beautiful Fall weather I think that soccer for my kids is a perfect match.  This is Patrick two years ago

And very focused

Our first week started off great with Patrick really enjoying his class.  He said his hands are in his pockets so he wouldn’t touch the ball as he kicked. (He’s in the Giants jersey and gray shorts)

And as Alice started her session, she had a major nosebleed so we went home to attend to her!  We’ll have to get a nice pic of her next time.

I am incredibly blessed to be a stay at home Mom with my two kiddos and feel that classes like this are great for them to have them listen to “coach” and have some fun.

What did you enjoy playing as a kid or have your child enrolled in this year?


Ring Master MomSeptember 30, 20132 Comments

Back to school dinner

Patrick is only attending preschool right now for 2 mornings a week and there’s no real break between him going from the 3’s classroom to the 4’s.  Since he was gone to Australia for almost a month with James, I thought his return would be a great time to host a little back to school dinner to get him excited for his new classroom and teachers.

I decided to set the table with a few classic school decorations.  Opening the box of pencils immediately gave me anxiety as it reminded me of finals at college!

Both kiddos had their own place setting with a dry erase board and crayons

And I made homemade alphabet soup

Recipe to follow!!  I thought I had a scrap paper where I wrote a few notes and measurements, but something tells me that my little clean up monster Alice has thrown it in the garbage as she does with anything she thinks looks used/done with.

And an easy dessert with graham crackers and frosting

Does your family have any back to school traditions?




Ring Master MomAugust 28, 20132 Comments

Patrick’s 4th Birthday

Almost any time someone asks my kids how old they are, they say it out loud along with raising the appropriate number of fingers.  I loved asking Patrick how old he was yesterday – and he was excited to hold up another one!

One tradition I loved as a child was going to my favorite restaurant on my birthday.  I’ve continued that with my kids, and Patrick told me that he wanted to go to Bumble for dinner. I thought it would be for the obvious reasons – yummy food, sandbox, playroom – but he said he loves the milk there.  Fine by me!

For those who haven’t been, you need to make a trip even if you’re not in the area. Bumble is a farm to table restaurant not only boasts a delicious menu, but an incredible playroom with staff for your kids to play while you eat.  Yes, you dine sans children and enjoy some great grub and booze.  “Why didn’t someone think of this before?” is always the response I get from my friends when we visit.  I’ve brought along family, friends, former neighbors, even people without kids.  This place is amazeballs – and I’d go every day if I could.  Cheers!

An aquarium separates the playroom with one of the dining rooms which is fun for me as a Mom cause I can get to see how my kids play with others, but don’t have to watch them.

Patrick popped up in one the bubbles through the playroom to say hi.  He’s shaking maracas and making tons of noise but we can’t hear a thing through the aquarium as I sip my guava bellini.  Brilliant.

You have the option to send the food to the playroom and another thing I love about this place is that the food options for kids are so healthy.  Patrick ordered salmon, cheese, strawberries, and milk.

We continued the birthday celebration with some dessert.  Someone’s thinking hard about his wish.

Gotta stand up to get all of em!

Walking out always means a quick trip to the sandbox to get our last bit of play in. Tonight was special as we had some live music:

After dinner, we went to our local bike shop.  We were going to surprise Patrick with a bike and he didn’t really understand at first.  I asked him why he thought we were there and he said that we should get a bike for Daddy!!

Once we walked over to the small bikes, he figured it out and had a grin that spread from ear to ear.  My cautious Patrick hopped on the first bike he saw and rode throughout the store.

He and Daddy did one quick ride around the block when we got home.

I would have joined, but had to quickly pack James who was going to NYC for a few days just minutes after their excursion.

Patrick said he had the best birthday ever!  And of course has gone on 2 rides already since last night’s ride.

Happy birthday to my favorite little guy in the whole wide world.  I can’t believe how quickly 4 years has flown by.


Ring Master MomJuly 30, 20132 Comments

Things to do in Mountain View – Outdoor Movie Nights

The city of Mountain View has great programs for citizens of any age in any given season.  Every Spring, the Mountain View Voice has a handout  for the city’s Summer activities, and the Outdoor Movie Nights are one of my favorite things to do with kids on a Friday night.

We have been attending these since my kids were babies – which is nice because they were great at nursing and then falling asleep in my arms while the movie played.  This was the first time Alice wasn’t able to go.  She just turned 2 and is an angel when you put her to bed on time.  Since the movies start right at her bedtime, I thought it would be fun for a Patrick & Mommy night.

I met a super fun gal up at Alt SF who lives a hop, skip, and a jump away from me.  Her name is Katelyn, and she writes a blog called Love, Luck, Kisses & Cake  Check her out! She had a fantastic spread before the movie started and invited us to share.  And I introduced her to Blue Line Pizza a few days before and she loved it, so her hubby grabbed some of their to DIE for garlic bread.  This is just the beginning…

Patrick handed out glow bracelets to nearby kids

Getting himself set up with Hippo and Stomp

Having a blast with selfies

And Wreck It Ralph begins!!

I love these nights because most of the parks are within walking distance of our home so we don’t have to worry about driving and parking.  Also, they serve popcorn and drinks so all you need to bring is a blanket!


Ring Master MomJuly 29, 2013Leave a comment

Making necklaces & bracelets

I am a huge sucker for the dollar bins at Target.  As a Mom, getting great craft items at an amazing price, is almost as exciting as someone handing me a margarita.  Almost.

Last week I found bags of beads for a buck.

I always tape one end of the string or ribbon on the table to minimize frustration.

Kids loving to be creative and I’m enjoying the quiet!!

This craft is great for little ones to work on placing small beads through a ribbon.  Watch your kiddies if they like to eat everything!!  Alice just turned 2 so she’s happy to recognize each color going on.  “LOOOOK, BLUE MOMMY!!” and Patrick who is 3 enjoys making patterns.

Creating things like this is fun because the kids get to make something for themselves and then you, Dad, Grandma, etc.

One of many creations!


Ring Master MomJuly 24, 2013Leave a comment

Magnetic Alphabet Letters

What is it about little ones who love to follow you wherever you are?  Near the end of a long day when I’m starting to prep dinner, I love how Patrick and Alice want to be literally at my feet while I’m in the kitchen.  Last year when we were living in a condo, it wasn’t as easy to maneuver around them in my small galley kitchen.  I found that bringing out a toy they hadn’t played with in a while would entertain them as I chopped and started cooking.  One toy that captured their attention was magnetic alphabet letters.

This was a perfect toy because I could ask them what color the letter was, was it lower or upper case, or which letter they were holding.  The only thing that I really disliked about the letters were that they were attached to the fridge in an area I needed to get in and out of as I was cooking.  I was thrilled last year when we moved into a house and had a much large space to cook and entertain.


As you can see from the picture above, there are only magnets attached to one section of the fridge.  Yes, that’s right, only the top left part is magnetic.  When we bought our home last year, we had to redo everything from plumbing to flooring to roof to doors.  Everything was taken out of the house and I made every decision as to what would be put back in.  I suppose I didn’t have the time to check the details such as having magnetic doors because I had assumed that they always came that way.

Now I had magnetic alphabet letters and numbers with no place to live!!  The kids really wanted to play with them as I cooked but I didn’t want the mess of the magnets on the floor.  I considered installing a piece on the wall that would hold magnets, but I was afraid to ruin my brand new walls.  It occurred to me a few days later that a drip pan might be able to hold magnets, and low and behold, it does!


I really enjoy having the letters and numbers on the drip pan as it’s easy to store and the kids aren’t sitting in front of the fridge which is where I need to be sometimes as I cook.  We are now using letters to make words and we also point to a certain letter to practice what sound that letter makes.  We even get our silly Elf on a Shelf involved in the fun!

Hopefully if you need a distraction for your little ones as you cook, this will be a great help for you and learning toy for them.


Ring Master MomJuly 23, 20134 Comments

Sidewalk chalk fun

Do you want a new and fun game to play with your kids that’s guaranteed to have them listen and quiet them down?  I know, sounds too good to be true.

We were getting down to the last nubs of our huge bin of sidewalk chalk, so it was time to open up a new box.

I drew three lines on the ground – one straight, one zigzagging, and one rounded.

Patrick and Alice had to wait and LISTEN for directions and walk slowly on whichever color I picked.  With the slow walking, they practiced their balance which for some reason required them to be quiet for a few minutes.  BONUS for me!

Alice didn’t understand anything that wasn’t the red line, so Patrick was really patient and loved showing her again and again how it was done.

“Mom, I think my feet got stuck!”

It was great to see them help each other out and encourage each other to finish.

I love having a fresh box of chalk and hope to find some more creative uses for it other than the usual coloring and then rolling around in it – ha!  What is your favorite way to use chalk with kids?