Archive for the ‘Kids’ Category

Do you have a family dinner tradition? We do now thanks to my really good friend Jenny. Every night during dinner, we share our Roses and Thorns. As you might guess, Roses are for the good things that happened that day, the highs. Thorns are for those not so great or tough moments, the lows. Sunshine introduced the concept of passing on thorns which I love love. Isn’t it so great, he passes because he doesn’t have anything to complain about or feel bad about. When we first started, I would always have a Thorn but lately I’m trying Sunshine’s attitude and I like it.


Roses and Thorns been a great way for to start the dinner conversation and to start sharing as family.ย It is sometimes surprising what is shared. I hope when Sunshine’s 16, Roses and Thorns will help us bridge those teenage years! I think it is important to eat together as a family. When we have friends over we have been sharing our traditions and everyone (kids and adults) sit together to eat together. It has been fun to do with our extended family.

When writing this post, I didn’t realize that we were in such good company. Did you know that Obama’s have the same tradition. Read about Kathleen’s views on Roses and Thorns.ย  I love this article in New York Times that talks about the New Family Dinner.

So, what family traditions, do have at the dinner table. Love to hear your ideas!


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Do you love New Year’s Resolutions? I do and don’t. I love the idea of focusing on a few things to work on during the year. Every year, I have thoughts what my resolutions might be and then the year just flies by. I must admit I didn’t quite accomplish last year’s goals. Reading lasted a few months then sizzled away. Treating myself with kindness come in bursts of energy. One goal did stick and that was biking. I even got a new bike (I’ll post on this later). So, this year, I’m trying to keep my resolutions simpler and more manageable.

happy new year 2013 on the beach

Sunshine and I talked about our resolutions and we came up with these. I hope we are both up for the challenge of maintaining our resolutions for 2013. This year, will be different!! Well, at least, we can try.

Sunshine’s New Year Resolutions: During meal time, eat more cleanly. He’s not too excited about this one!

My New Year Resolutions: Travel more and spend more time free playing with Sunshine. I’m dying to go to Mongolia, Yunan, and Korea. And, I want to revisit the cities in France, Vietnam, Philippines, and Hawaii. Anyone up for going with me to any of these place?

So, have you thought your resolutions? Any good ones? I love hearing about people’s new year resolutions.

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Our good friend invited us to the Discovery Museum in Reno, Nevada. It was really nice place to visit. Unique exhibits and cool interactive things for kids to do. I liked the history of mining of gold in Nevada. It was interesting and a good way to introduce history to the kids.

The museum was not too large or overwhelming. The museum is well laid out and easy to get through in a few hours. We packed lunch and ate in their cafeteria which was nice when you have kids.


Climbing the clouds. What an awesome view from the top for the kids!


So want this for my house! Love this magnetic wall for building.


The kids spent a while playing with this water feature that circled the Cloud structure they kids had climbed.


Sunshine had an awesome time making power from the wind devices. He was curious about how biking and sun could power things. It was a cool exhibit which even allowed him to jump and make his own earthquakes. Cool, right?


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This holiday break, we headed to Tahoe for Sunshine’s first ski vacation. It was an awesome trip. The mountains were blanketed in white. It was a winter wonderland. The family we stayed with was super fun and easy going. It was a magical 7 days filled with skiing, sledding, good food, and company.

Sunshine took 1 1/2 days of private lessons with his friends. Then on another day, I took him for half a morning. That morning, we started with green runs then he kept begging me to take him on the blue runs. I was very hesitant. To be honest, I was worried that he might have a fall and/or difficult time which could lead him to not like skiing. After asking me a few times,ย  I caved in. I figured we could do it for our last run. If it failed, we could just head home. He surprised me. He took the blue run and just went for it. We did two more blue runs afterwards. He later told his buddy at dinner, “I was scared because when I looked over the mountain cliff, I couldn’t see anything.” I was proud but at the same time a little amazed. This kid has some guts! I asked him what it felt like to go down. He said, “I just went down. I liked it and wanted to do it again.” Just as I heard his words, I realized this kid loves skiing. It is in his blood.ย  Skiing is not only about having good balance but it is also about controlling your fear. It was amazing to me that Sunshine at such a young age could be so fearless.

Sunshine hitting the slopes of Tahoe Donner. Look at that precious smile.

Sunshine hitting the slopes of Tahoe Donner. Look at that precious smile.

first ski lesson

They kids on their first ski lesson. Putting on their skis to go on the fun magic carpet.

Aren't the kids looking cool with their teacher.

The kids looking cool with their teacher.

The kids checking the ski map to prepare for their first green run, the mile run (yup, it's a mile). They had just come up on their first chair lift. So many fun firsts.

The kids checking the ski map to prepare for their first green run, the mile run (yup, it’s a mile). They had just come up on their first chair lift. So many fun firsts.

This trip wasn’t only great for Sunshine. It was a confident booster for the both of us. On this trip, I conquered my fear of getting back onto skis after a 10 year hiatus. I almost chickened out but pushed myself. I’m so glad that I did. It felt liberating to do so. I remembered why I loved skiing and I was able to confidently take Sunshine on the slopes. Have you taken any chances lately? It’s normal to get into your regular routine and lose sight of trying new things. We take heart in Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote “Do one thing every day that scares you” and Jimmy Carter’s quote “Go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is.”

In case you are wondering, the ski runs are categorized by bunny, green, blue, black diamonds, then double blacks. The main difference is the steepness of the mountains. We stayed in Truckee and skied at Tahoe Donner which was family friendly and pretty inexpensive. I bought Sunshine’s skis and boots at Ann Mountain because they have a great trade-in program and we don’t need to wait in the rental lines. Ski clothes were from Lands Ends. Some must – hat, gloves, hand & foot warmers, and helmet. Everyone had a helmet. 10 years ago, no one did. If you need more tips on how to go skiing, leave a comment.

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So, we need to get a new car soon and I wasn’t sure what car we should get. I have couple of requirements (can fit 3 carseats for carpool), not too big (we have a tiny tiny garage), good safety ratings, etc. I read some of the car reviews but it was hard to tell what will work for us. I like to feel and try things out especially when it is going to last me a while. Maybe some of you are like that too?

Since, Sunshine loves cars, he was so excited when I suggested we spend one afternoon testing driving the new Mini Cooper 4 door car, the CountryMan. Have you seen it? It just came out in Feb 2012 and we are starting to see more of them on the road and especially in San Francisco where parking spaces are tiny. I love the look of the Mini Cooper but it’s not too practical for me. It’s small, loud, and quite low to the ground so I don’t feel safe. So, I was excited about the new 4 door since the reviews said it was higher up from the ground and was the size of VW Jetta.

Mommy, I like this car.

We had a blast looking at the different Mini Coopers (2 door, convertibles, 4 door Country Man) as well as all the different colors and sticker patterns for the Mini Coopers.

Nice but not Kid friendly. Maybe when I’m kid-free ๐Ÿ™‚

So, am I getting the CountryMan? No, not right now. I love the size and the silver one is pretty cute but I didn’t love the inside of the car and even with the option of putting a row for three seat, the back was pretty small for 3 car seats.

I think we might have to get a smaller SUV because of space needs. With the options on the CountryMan, it is around $35K out the door. Because the car is new, the preset packages are not cheap.

If you are interested, this is a super cute commercial. Also, you can check out this video of the CountryMan off roading

We liked this one ๐Ÿ™‚

The good news is Sunshine loves testing driving the cars so I can see us visiting a few more dealers in the coming months. All you need is child that loves cars and can fit in a booster seat and ๐Ÿ™‚

Try it out next time, it is a pretty fun way to spend the afternoon. The best part is it is free.

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Our friend Jenny took us to Tilden Park for an afternoon train ride. I remember going there as a kid and it was fun to relive the memories with Sunshine.ย  We had a great time with our friends and recommend going if you have a chance. The park is beautiful and there are numerous trails to explore. On the ride to and from Tilden Park, we saw the most beautiful clouds hovering the Berkeley mountains.

Sunshine loved ringing the bell on the steam train.

Beautiful day for a train ride. They kids had the best seat in the house.

The kids look so cute covering their ears when the steam train let out steam.

Quick. Quick. Cover your ears!!

If you have a chance, check out A Nature’s Mom post about the Botanic Garden at Tilden Park. And, at Natural History Wanderings, you can see what flowers are in bloom. I think next time, we are going to the hike Trail Hiker took.

Can’t wait to go back again.

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Sunshine loves building things. Legos, Magnatiles, Magformers and now Fort Magic. We borrowed this from our neighbor for Spring Break and we still have it. Shh. Hopefully, we can keep it for a few more weeks. Fort Magic is now number 1 on Sunshine’s Christmas wish list. It is now on sale on Fort Magic’s webite for $199 or onย Amazon for $219. I’m so tempted!! Check out the reviews from other parents and grandparents. Here is a video of where you can see kids building amazing creations.

The kit Sunshine is playing with is pretty cool and has 348 pieces. The kit is well made and easy for kids to handle. The parts are smooth so you don’t need to worry about the kids hurting themselves on sharp edges. They have these clips which allow you to use your own fabric on the kit creations.ย  I just check Fort Magic’s website and the kit is now 373 pieces (additional 2 dozen 24″ stick) which is awesome because I noticed that after Sunshine built the tent, he needed more sticks to build other things. He had plenty of the other pieces.

Sunshine and his friend playing in his new tent. His friend didn’t want to go home. “Mommy, can I please stay??? Can we build this in my room too?”

Sunshine built a garage for his toys.

Sunshine’s bus. He drove me around the neighborhood. It cost $1 per ride.

At first, Sunshine’s bus was a tall tall city tower.

Sunshine and his school buddy were building a trap for mommys.

Look Look. See my hula hoop!

Inside Sunshine’s tent. Isn’t it cozy. Kids love spending time is hiding places and this tent was the perfect place for him and his stuff animals. He even hung a string on the right hand side of the tent for the animals to climb up and swing.

Sunshine slept in his tent for 2 weeks. He loved his cozy tent and had fun laying there with his stuff animals. What fun memories!

He has made endless creations and it is something that he has been able to play with his friends and by himself. We love to entertain and at our last two parties, after dinner, I brought out Fort Magic. And, like magic, kids played and built all sort of things. The kids were so self-occupied that the adults had a chance to talk. Can you imagine that actually happening?? It did ๐Ÿ™‚

If you have a child that loves to build, then Fort Magic is something definitely to consider getting. The box is not too large and it is one of the toys I keep out in our family room because Sunshine can play by himself or with his friends. If you are thinking of getting the fort, I heard the sale is through June. So hurry ๐Ÿ™‚

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