Thursday, May 27, 2010

Are strawberries actually lady bugs?

A quick, cute story. I received an email from a parent of one of my child's classmates today inquiring if my son did not like strawberries? I said no he doesn't and then asked why?

She told me that she had brought strawberries for snack and that he said "please don't put any on my plate. I don't like them." I laughed that my son had said that. The mom then said that her son did not eat strawberries until last month because until that point he thought they were ladybugs! Funny.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Panera Bread Non Profit Restaurant

Panera Bread announced something I thought was just amazing - a non profit restaurant concept with a corporate social responsibility concept. The pilot restaurant, St. Louis Bread Co., offers consumers the chance to pay what they want for a meal. Yes, pay what you want. The CEO says this is a concept based on community kitchens where consumers set the price. The pilot restaurant is run by a non-profit foundation. If it sustains financially, it will expand across the U.S. Here is more on the story, but in the meantime, I applaud Panera Bread - and hope people do not take this as license to get free food, but rather see it as an amazing opportunity to make a difference in an incredibly easy way - just show up and eat and pay the regular price.

Wordless Wednesday

Here's my version of Wordless Wednesday. Some random photos that I thought I would share.

I was at the park with my boy and we saw this lady walking down the path and we heard some squawking. It is hard to see, but if you look at the backpack the lady is wearing, there is a small bird, probably a parrot in there. There's a first for everything. I was working down by the 710 fwy in Long Beach a couple weeks ago and I was stuck in traffic. When I finally drove by the accident, I saw the problem. Fortunately, nobody was hurt, but the truck driver lost his mobile home on the turn. Imagine making the call to your boss after that happens. "Hey boss, you'll never believe what just happened, and no I wasn't speeding!" I still don't understand how this accident occurred, because with that turn, the load should have fallen in the other direction.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Fast Company's "10 Most Addictive Sounds in the World"

In this month's issue of Fast Company it reports the top "addictive sound" is a baby's giggle. We agree because we LOVE it when our baby laughs. It's the best sound in the world!

Ducky Derby Fun

Have you ever been to a Ducky Derby? Well, if you haven't, you absolutely should. During the summer, various cities host Ducky Derbies - day long events typically tied to charities where you bid on a plastic ducky -each with a number on the bottom to help identify each duck from the other - which are then floated down the river. The first Ducky to cross the finish line wins. Go online and check it out, but here are some dates and locales....

Kidspace Children’s Museum in Pasadena, CA hosts it's 1st Annual “Red, White & Blue Rubber Ducky Race” this weekend.

Annual Ducky Derby Festival in Aspen, Colorado in April.

Tacoma's Annual Derby Festival just happened last week.

Go online and see where it'll be next or even better, buy some at the 99 cent store or Target and host your own - in the pool, in the river, etc.

Lost finale

Did you watch it? My wife and I did and didn't want it to end. Neither my wife nor I were trekkies. We didn't follow Twin Peaks. We never obsessed over particular shows. However, we really enjoyed watching each episode together and chatting about it after. It was a smart program that made you think about things and question others. And it was simply fun for us. My wife always had a million questions and I acted as if I knew the answers. Lots of fun!!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pasadena POPs at City Hall, featuring Conductors Darth Vader and the Target DOG

Oh, what a night! The Pasadena POPS held a free open air concert last night at Pasadena City Hall. Sound a little stuffy? This is Pasadena... Although the night was unexpectedly cold - about 60 degrees - my wife and son and I set up two chairs and blankets, ready to cozy up for a sophisticated, cultural evening of music and fun. The event featured the hottest trend in the LA food scene - gourmet food trucks. My family ate gourmet grass-fed hamburgers with rosemary and garlic organic french fries from the Green Truck while sitting in front of the gorgeous City Hall. Local children's fun spot and museum, Kidspace, was on site providing activities for the little ones. Mayor Bill Bogaard (who we have a special place in our heart for because we have photos of him with our three year-old) opened the show in a two minute speech (that's why we like him so much, he gives short speeches) before turning it over to the POPS conductor Rachel Worby who lead the orchestra in an uplifting array of songs from some great musicals and Hollywood films.

Guests appearances were made by the Target dog, who lead the orchestra as they played Henry Mancini's theme from the "Pink Panther." Another fun moment of the night - one that made all the Gen Xers in attendance put down their cheese and crackers (okay, some put down their burritos or hot dogs) - was when the Star Wars theme began to play. A personal appearance by Darth Vader walking through the crowd scared the little ones a bit, but Xers ate it up when he took the conductor's stand and lead the orchestra in the Darth Vader theme. Before ending the night with God Bless America, the Symphony announced their move from Descanso Gardens to the Rose Bowl with the first performance scheduled for June 19th. It was a wonderful evening out for our family, but more importantly, it was nice to be able to show our three year-old, a lover of music, a symphony and demonstrate how musicians play together to make beautiful sounds. When we arrived home, our three year-old grabbed a stick and handed my wife a guitar and said "mama, I'm a conductor. let's play." That was awesome. I should also note that it was our three year old's first experience in a porta-potty, but that's for another day.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Play Pac Man on Google

Considering the fact that average person searches google 6 times each day, I am sure you've seen the celebration of Pac Man's 30th anniversary. Who doesn't love Pac Man? Go on and check it out - you move him with your arrow keys.

Old Navy $1 Flip Flop Sale

My wife cannot stop talking about this and suggested I share the information with my readers. Just fyi, tomorrow , Saturday, May 22, at Old Navy, and according to Mom Central, all flip flops are $1. Sounds like a good deal to me!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Toddler's First Swim Class

Our toddler is three years old and although we do not have a pool, we have friends and family who do, so we enrolled him in a swim class at the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center. (I know it sounds fancy, but really it's kind of like Pasadena's community pool - a nice one with lots of good swimmers and then ordinary people like me and my on-his-way-to-Olympic gold, my three year old toddler...) The teacher is an incredibly patient and kind young lady named Carrie who literally had 10 different ways of asking a toddler, who wasn't up for anything, the same thing. "Can you blow bubbles? Can you hum? Can you say brrr underwater?" No, apparently my son cannot. It wasn't that my son was being rude, he was scared and did not want to leave my side, but I could not help but feel bad that we spent 45 minutes in the water with Carrie and only accomplished two of the 10 tasks she attempted to get our little one to do. I've signed him up for a few more classes and have faith that he'll get acclimated to the situation. When we left he said "bye Carrie" and when she did not hear him, he said it again while waving his hand - "Bye Carrie!!!" as if desperate to get her attention - which in toddler speak means he's gotten used to his new "coach" and may be ready to swim. Updates to come....

Inside The Rose Bowl Stadium Games

Aside from the stadium renovation discussion, Sunday's Rose Bowl Stadium Games were a lot of fun for the whole family. Schools and camps set up booth's, Bob's Big Boy, new to Pasadena, was on site as was local radio stations, the LA Galaxy and a many, many fun games. The public was able to walk all around the field, check out the locker rooms and receive tours of historic landmark. Local celebrities included Congressman Adam Schiff who could not have been nicer, Olympic gold medalist and former Tournament of Roses princess, Inger Miller was on site with her gold medal, which weighed a lot more than I imagined, as well as local news anchors, including Kent Schocknek from CBS, who is Los Angeles' longest running morning news anchor.
There were soccer and football shoot-outs, armchair athlete competitions (you literally sat in a lay-z-boy that moved like a bucking bronco and tried to throw the football in a hole), bouncers for children, face painters, raffles to local restaurants and more. It was a lot of fun and a really great way to connect to the community.

Rose Bowl Stadium Games

The Legendary Rose Bowl stadium opened its doors to the public today in what can only be summed up as a day full of fun for the entire family. The purpose was to discuss renovations of the 87 year old stadium and landmark. I'll admit I was curious to see what was included in the renovation and assumed there were major changes coming and that all the fun and games were on site to make people feel better about the situation, however, I was very wrong. Changes are being described as opportunities to "enhance historic appeal, the fan experience and the operational capacity of the Rose Bowl" yet, in the grand scheme of stadium renovations, the public will barely notice a difference. I understand the value of the beautiful stadium and am not advocating for major changes that would not only change the stadium, but the beautiful arroyo area, but frankly, I think the stadium needs a little more updating than what sounds like is being proposed. It is bittersweet though, because the stadium is a landmark. I've lived in the area for 15 years and still glance to the side toward the stadium when passing it on the 210 freeway. However, from inside, you see how old and in need of repairs it is. Improvements will include new luxury boxes, better seats and other "operational concerns." We'll see if the Rose Bowl improvements actually do extend the life of the stadium for future generations as they claim. Guess you can say the Roman Coliseum is still standing generations later, but you can't play a football game in it - or sit comfortably while attempting to do so.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

When does make believe become crazy?

My child attends a co-op preschool, which means we have to work in the classroom every few weeks. My son has become close friends with a particular girl, who for the purpose of this email we'll call Ana. As they have grown close, he has changed his name to Ana, insisting we all call him Ana. I was okay with this at home, but the other day I was working at the school overseeing the play doh table. There were five children sitting playing when my son came in a said "I'm Ana." All the kids at the table looked at me with eyes that said "what is he talking about?" After my son said "I am Ana" for the 10th time, one of the kids said "You are not Ana." This did not phase my son one bit. "Yes I AM Ana," he said and kept playing. He has since taken on other personalities. He takes on the name of characters in books, names of relatives after long visits, etc. but he always goes back to Ana. He's even brought my wife and I into the conversation. "Mama, you are Jasmine and I am Abu, papa is the Gynie." (Okay, I'll admit I did not mind being transformed into a skinny, Disney princess, but still...) I'm guessing this is a phase, but because the other children's reactions were that of "what is he talking about" or as we adults would say "he's crazy..." it did make me think about it....

Michelle Obama Asks Chefs to Make Over School Meals

Michelle Obama and I were on the same wave length this month. About two weeks ago, I wrote a blog about how I was touring preschools and was appalled by the lunches offered. There were no vegetables, just pizza, chicken fingers, etc. I said at the time that I was all for pizza and chicken fingers, but in moderation, and by that I mean once or twice a week (okay, with chicken fingers it may be more like 3 or 4 times a week - but at least I buy the Whole Foods version) and at my discretion. So, with my little one in mind and the incredibly increasing waistlines of all our kids - and the unhealthiness that follows - I applaud the first lady's new initiative.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Study on the lifelong effects of low-quality child care

Hi everyone,

Not sure if you read this, but I think it's an important article to read particularly if you have young ones at home - or intend to have more young ones. The study, funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development funded a comprehensive study focusing on the effects of childcare (from day care centers to nannies) on children as the age. Low quality care increased aggressiveness and decreased the amount of learning.

I'm not surprised, but what are parents supposed to do if they have to work and can't afford to the fancier options? Like anything, I believe studies are important, but solutions impress me even more.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Potty Training Suggestions Wanted

Our son is potty training, but it's happening very slowly. How do you know when your child is ready? And when he's ready, how do you prevent accidents? How long does it typically take between their first interest in potty training to a non-accident lifestyle? (Realizing, of course, that kids are each unique and on their own schedule). Any thoughts or advice?

National Train Day held around the nation

Yesterday around the nation was National Train Day, a celebration of the art of traveling by train. Events were held around the country, kicked off with a feed featuring actor Taye Diggs followed by a slew of activities that included performances from Radio Disney, balloon artists and vendors from various cities along the train route. We were at Union Station in Los Angeles, so we were treated to a performance by the USC marching band as well. Our three year old got a train conductor hat, a train day poster and a train whistle - what could be better than that?

Hugo and the really, really, really, long string book reading

We were fortunate enough to participate in the book reading/signing of Hugo and the Really, Really, Really Long String on Saturday. Written by Bob Boyle, the creator of the Nick Jr. sensation "Wow, Wow, Wubbzy," the story has a similar look and style - a sort of geometric pattern that is endearing as much as it is very constructed. The story is uniquely sweet as it sustains your curiosity as Hugo and friends follow the mystery that is the really, really, really, long string. Where does it lead? It leads to a wonderful lesson about the fun and importance of making friends.
The Vroman's signing was wonderful as Bob read from the book, then drew pictures as children shouted out various items they wanted him to animate. Taxi's were very popular. Bob was at once a skilled artist and writer as he was a child himself, clearly enjoying the time spent with the little ones and enjoying the fact that they loved him and his book.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Stamp Out Hunger Today, May 8th!

I should have blogged about this last week, but I completely forgot. Today, we can join the National Association of Letter Carriers to help feed the hungry throughout our nation. Just place nonperishable items in your mailbox and they will deliver it to local food banks! It's a great way to clean out your pantry but more importantly help feed people in our community. for details!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sur La Table - Hot spot for celebrity sighting like Brian Austin Green and Megan Fox

My wife began taking a cooking class this week and needed a particular pan for the class. She was very busy this week so my son and I went to Sur La Table on Colorado Blvd. (after hitting up Michael's and Target for the same product) to purchase the pan. In previous visits, we've seen actress Jane Kazmarek (best known for playing the mom on "Malcolm in the Middle") and TV host Rachel Ray in the same store. Well, today's visit was no different. Brian Austin Green and Megan Fox were in the store purchasing a complete set of knives. He was very polite and considerate...she was a little upset that he was giving out their mailing address to the clerk (even though she needed it to mail the knives). Everyone in the store was pretty calm, taking the occasional glance, except for one three year old - because at the end of the day, he hasn't been exposed to our celebrity culture just yet.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

dad/son cooking class at Paintbox Kids

This morning, I joined about 10 other dads and their sons for a dad/son cooking class that was offered at Paintbox Kids in North Pasadena. This quaint little art studio is typically known for its art classes, but periodically holds unique toddler/child and parent classes like a mother/daughter tea and this morning's cooking class. Before you get excited, we aren't talking Le Cordon Bleu, but rather simple apple burritos and a vegetable and bean tostada, but the point was that my son and I had a great time using our plastic knives to cut an avocado slice into smaller pieces, and pulling the cilantro leaves off the stem. And, what was even more rewarding was to see the joy all the other dads had doing it with their kids as well. As we parents know, it's about the time we spend together that is special, not necessarily the activity itself.