Sunday, September 27, 2009

Weil Baby Giveaway!

This weekend my wife held a Weil Baby party where she invited a few friends over and shared information about Dr. Andrew Weil's new line of baby products. The Weil Baby(TM) line of products was designed in partnership with Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D. who is considered a pioneer in the field of integrative medicine, a healing-oriented approach to health care that encompasses body, mind and spirit. This new line of product is ultra-safe, healthy and functional - and both BPA-free and EA-free. Why does this matter? Because when our son was born two years ago, the options for BPA -free bottles were limited and very expensive - nearly $45 per bottle. This is not the case here. Safe bottles from a trusted source at a price we can afford. In fact, Proud Poppa would like to share some of these unique bottles with his followers. I'm giving away 3 free bottles and coupons for $5 off any Weil Baby products to three winners who visit and leave a comment below saying what other product they would like to buy. Contest ends October 12. Good luck!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

How Smart is A 2 Year-Old? Smart

As you know, our 2 year-old started preschool last week. It was a slightly bumpy road, but things are much smoother now. However, even though we are able to drop him off with less tears, it does not mean that my two year-old enjoys it. Yesterday he woke up and crawled into bed with me and my wife. It was 6:45 a.m. He turned to the window and said "it's daytime....time for schoo, ah, spring and Christmas." Yes, my two year-old started to say school and then realized what he was saying and quickly changed course. And the best part of it was that he clearly caught himself becuase he stared at me like a deer in the headlights as he paused to correct himself with "spring and Christmas." Did he think we would not remember that he had school? Well, we had and about an hour later, he knew that we to school we went.

White House Farmer's Market Criticism, Really?

The White House opened it's first farmers market last week and received criticism from pesticide organizations. Are people crazy? How do you protest the growing and selling of fruit from the ground? Are you really angry that local farmers use natural methods to help food grow? Okay, I am off my soapbox.We love our local farmer's market not just because we support local growers, but because it's a fun adventure for my family. We ride our bikes to the local farmers market each Saturday morning - okay, most Saturday mornings. - the Saturday mornings when we actually have our act together. We walk around with our two year old son pointing out the flowers and the fruits and vegetables. We hold the bag open and say, put in three red tomatoes. He has fun playing the "farmer's market game" and runs from station to station ready to find new fruits and vegetables to put in the bag. We listen to the musicians who set up each week and stop to let our son do some dancing. Then, we simply pack up, jump back on our bikes and make the three block trek home. We celebrate the White House farmer's market, even though we are 3,000 miles away.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My Toddler's First Day of School

Our 2 1/2 year old has been under nanny care since he was about 9 months old. He is now 2 1/2 and this Monday he finally started pre-school. My wife and I were pretty nervous that he wouldn't make the transition very well and with good cause. Fortunately I was able to take him to a couple summer school classes and get him used to the surroundings and the teacher.

On Monday we woke up and we were already behind the eight ball and running behind schedule. Mainly because the boy woke up at 4am and walked into our room holding his missing sock in his hand. I escorted him back to his room, put on his sock, and we lied in bed until he fell back asleep. So back to the story. He usually has breakfast in the morning, but since we were running late, we tried to shove a couple blueberry muffins in his mouth before we left for school. We only got 1 1/2 in there, criminy.

We had been prepping him for the big day and he kept telling us he didn't want to go to school. He knew it was coming. My wife left first after about half an hour and I stayed. My boy had a little melt down right before snack time, partially because he didn't want me to leave and partially because he was starving. Their snack time is about half an hour past the time we usually do snack time at home. That made for a slight scene with the teacher and oodles of tears. I was trying to engage all of the other children while my kid was sitting there crying. Yikes.

The teacher was finally ready to try the separation and she told me to tell the boy I was leaving and then I'd come back. I tried to be quick about it, but it was tough, because he started crying and he had a death grip on my arm and I had to peel him off and not look back. I walked to the parking lot and sat in my car and listened for my boy. I couldn't hear him, so I pulled out my laptop and started catching up on some work emails. About ten minutes later, one of the teachers came out and told me that he was doing fine and he was helping the teacher clean up. I was so relieved that I Blackberry'd my wife and told her the good news.

About a half hour later my wife showed up and we went in to collect our son. He was very happy to see us and my wife got a little teary eyed. The teacher reassured us that all went well and that she was pleased with his progress. We had a sigh of relief and we were proud.

Today was day 2 of class and we were amazed at the transition. We were only there for 20 minutes and then we made the break. No crying this time and no phone call from the teacher. We went home and did work for a couple hours. My wife and I returned 10 minutes before school was over and we snuck into the classroom for story time. At first our son didn't see us, but about 5 minutes later, he noticed us and he got so excited and almost got teary eyed. He waited until story time was over to get out of his seat and then came over to say hi to us. We were so proud of him and so excited to see his reaction when he saw us. The smile and cheer was priceless...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Real Place to Pretend

Over the weekend we took our son to a place in Irvine, CA called Pretend City. It's an actual city that is for the 5 and under set - a play fire station, play grocery store, play police station, play house and even a play ATM machine. Kids are able to drive/pedal "cars" throughout the entire place because there are carpeted roads lining the entire city for them to drive on. Note to parents - be sure you are looking down or else you'll have way too many bruises on your knees to explain.

Given our fascination and access to major theme parks, this small city within a simple warehouse - you literally can see the entire city from the front door - is not quite the experience you think you'll have when looking at the location map on the internet. It is small and it is very "pretend." By that I mean, with the exception of some unique experience, like an art room, the water area, the ATM machines - which spit out fake money the kids love - most of the location looks like Fisher Price designed it. That is not bad if you like Fisher Price - and I do. I love Fisher Price toys. They are well made and fun. However, to pay for a unique experience and get a Fisher Price experience is not something I can recommend for people living outside of Irvine. If you live in Irvine, it'd be a place I'd recommend for parents looking for ways to spend some time with their children because there is plenty to keep kids entertained for a half hour or hour especially if you have a family membership, however, for folks like us who traveled nearly 45 minutes, I am not sure it'd be a place I'd go out of my way to visit again unless there was a special occassion like a birthday or other value add.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

First Day of School, Forgotten Camera

Yesterday was preview day at my son's preschool. Technically, it was the first day of school even though parents were able to attend the entire session. It will be different on Monday when our 2 year old faces school on his own. Hmm, he spent most of Friday clinging to my leg...wonder if it'll be the same on Monday. Remember to wear pants/shorts with tight waistband. It was supposed to be a special moment - a "first," but my wife and I hoped the experience we had would be our last. We committed the ultimate mistake - forgot to bring the camera. Well, a working one. See, ours broke and we forgot to get a new one in time for this momentous occasion. How could we have missed such a momentous day? Maybe we can recreate it on Monday, we thought. Then the calls started coming in from grandparents, aunts, uncles wanting to see photos. "What did he wear?" "Who is his teacher?" "Show us his backpack." My wife and I felt awful, but then we realized that we were more worried/sad/happy/nervous for our child and that doing what we could to prepare him for Monday, his first time alone without parent or nanny - fine, we're sure - is more important than feeling bad that we don't have photos. Call me rotten, but I'm hoping my child will start Monday excited, knowing that mom and dad love him and are hoping he meets great friends and learns to enjoy school. That would be a memory of a lifetime.

P.S. We're going to Target to get a camera today. (Photos of first day on Monday)

Monday, September 7, 2009

President Obama's Speech

I don't want to be viewed as a political blogger, but whether you are for or against the speech, I think this is worth reading. Feel free to share your opinion.

I copied the article below from the website:

Prepared Remarks of President Barack ObamaBack to School Event
Arlington, VirginiaSeptember 8, 2009
The President: Hello everyone – how’s everybody doing today? I’m here with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. And we’ve got students tuning in from all across America, kindergarten through twelfth grade. I’m glad you all could join us today.
I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it’s your first day in a new school, so it’s understandable if you’re a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now, with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you’re in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer, and you could’ve stayed in bed just a little longer this morning.
I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived in Indonesia for a few years, and my mother didn’t have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday – at 4:30 in the morning.
Now I wasn’t too happy about getting up that early. A lot of times, I’d fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I’d complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and say, "This is no picnic for me either, buster."
So I know some of you are still adjusting to being back at school. But I’m here today because I have something important to discuss with you. I’m here because I want to talk with you about your education and what’s expected of all of you in this new school year.
Now I’ve given a lot of speeches about education. And I’ve talked a lot about responsibility.
I’ve talked about your teachers’ responsibility for inspiring you, and pushing you to learn.
I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox.
I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren’t working where students aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve.
But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.
And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself.
Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide.
Maybe you could be a good writer – maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper – but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor – maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine – but you might not know it until you do a project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a Senator or a Supreme Court Justice, but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.
And no matter what you want to do with your life – I guarantee that you’ll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You’re going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.
And this isn’t just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.
You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You’ll need the insights and critical thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You’ll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy.
We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.
Now I know it’s not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork.
I get it. I know what that’s like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn’t fit in.
So I wasn’t always as focused as I should have been. I did some things I’m not proud of, and got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse.
But I was fortunate. I got a lot of second chances and had the opportunity to go to college, and law school, and follow my dreams. My wife, our First Lady Michelle Obama, has a similar story. Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn’t have much. But they worked hard, and she worked hard, so that she could go to the best schools in this country.
Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don’t have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job, and there’s not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don’t feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren’t right.
But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life – what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home – that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That’s no excuse for not trying.
Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.
That’s what young people like you are doing every day, all across America.
Young people like Jazmin Perez, from Roma, Texas. Jazmin didn’t speak English when she first started school. Hardly anyone in her hometown went to college, and neither of her parents had gone either. But she worked hard, earned good grades, got a scholarship to Brown University, and is now in graduate school, studying public health, on her way to being Dr. Jazmin Perez.
I’m thinking about Andoni Schultz, from Los Altos, California, who’s fought brain cancer since he was three. He’s endured all sorts of treatments and surgeries, one of which affected his memory, so it took him much longer – hundreds of extra hours – to do his schoolwork. But he never fell behind, and he’s headed to college this fall.
And then there’s Shantell Steve, from my hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Even when bouncing from foster home to foster home in the toughest neighborhoods, she managed to get a job at a local health center; start a program to keep young people out of gangs; and she’s on track to graduate high school with honors and go on to college.
Jazmin, Andoni and Shantell aren’t any different from any of you. They faced challenges in their lives just like you do. But they refused to give up. They chose to take responsibility for their education and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you to do the same.
That’s why today, I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education – and to do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book. Maybe you’ll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you’ll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all kids deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you’ll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, I hope you’ll all wash your hands a lot, and stay home from school when you don’t feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.
Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.
I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work -- that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things.
But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.
That’s OK. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, "I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."
These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn’t mean you’re a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.
No one’s born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work. You’re not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don’t hit every note the first time you sing a song. You’ve got to practice. It’s the same with your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it’s good enough to hand in.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new. So find an adult you trust – a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor – and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.
And even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you – don’t ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.
The story of America isn’t about people who quit when things got tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best.
It’s the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and found this nation. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google, Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.
So today, I want to ask you, what’s your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?
Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do your part too. So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down – don’t let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Station Fire Update

Where there's smoke, there's fire. We're finally back home and adjusting to the smoke. The Station Fire in La Canada, CA is almost 50% contained now, but the air quality is still bad. I actually took my family to Santa Barbara for a few days to escape the fire. We stayed at my mom's and had some home cooked meals. We also went to the beach every day! I have pics on my Blackberry that I'll upload soon. It's good to be back and have computer access.