Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween and the great candy experiment

Earlier this month, Lucas had a check-up with Dr. Bob, the awesome pediatric dentist.

Dr. Bob had a flyer about how to dispense candy for Halloween. Basically, you let them eat as much as they want, whenever they want, for three days, beginning the night of Halloween. Then you throw the rest away (or the parents eat it, whatever).

The reasoning: If you let kids have a piece of candy every day over a longer period of time, the bacteria will accumulate and there's much higher chance that they'll get cavities. Over three days, the sugar doesn't have time to get build up and wreak havoc on teeth. Plus, letting kids self-regulate removes the taboo off of candy. They may get sick of it (or get sick) and just not want to eat anymore.

So earlier this week I told Lucas about this plan. He seemed super excited. We'll see what happens between now and Friday. Should be interesting.(Kevin went out there trick-or-treating with Lucas, while I sat at home handing out Bit O Honey, Almond Joy, and Tootsie Rolls. Yes, these are at the bottom of the list in terms of desirable candy, but I only buy stuff that I won't eat. The little kids didn't seem to mind, but I heard some snarky comments from the bigger kids: "Ewww, Almond Joy!", "What is that?". I know I had those same types of things when I was younger, I just didn't say them within earshot of the lame grownup who was handing them out.)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Lucas rits hiz furst sentins

Lucas was busy this afternoon at his arts and crafts table. I peeked over to see what he was doing, but was told not to look because it was a surprise.

After about 15 minutes, he showed me this.What is it? It's the first time he wrote out a complete sentence on his own.
What does it say? Once he told me, it all made perfect sense

Line 1: Pupcen
Line 2: Jaclatrn

The sentence is written off in the right margin and down below: Des es Lucas pectr uv u pupcen (hint he pronounces "th" more like a "d" or "t")

Priddee dam kul, donchu tenk?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Another hot chocolate update, if anyone cares...

My last cocoa update left things a bit up in the air, for those of you who care. Since then, I've tried out new places and revisited some old ones.

1. Sketch - Contrary to what their sign said, they didn't re-open on 10/21, or any time that week. I ran into Eric, one of the owners on 4th Street, he said it was taking longer than expected, but most likely tomorrow. I'll call before I go over there.

2. Semifreddis
I've gone there more recently since Sketch has been closed for remodeling. It's been as good as usual, but I was pretty spoiled with Sketch. However, today, I pulled up across the street and wrote some text messages. Then when I walked in and asked for my hot cocoa, she said, "I already made it for you. I saw you pull up." Such a nice surprise! And the cocoa was perfect and still hot.

3. Ciao Bella's Bella Gelato
On Saturday after Lucas' soccer game, we went to the Epicurious Garden for some sushi. Then we made a stop at Ciao Bella Gelato. I had tried their Bella Cocoa before, and it's very intense, not rich, but really dark, a bit too intense for me. However, this time I tried a Bella Gelato, a hot cocoa with a scoop of mocha chip -- it was sublime. But it's kind of cheating, since it's not really a true hot cocoa, I mean you can put gelato in any of the contenders, and it would improve it tenfold, but it sure was good so definitely worth a mention.

4. The Pub
Haven't had there hot chocolate in quite a while, but I went the other night for a deadly game of Scrabble. I love that place, if it weren't for the lingering smell of cigars. But I have fond memories of their hot chocolate. I'll need to make another trip for Scrabble and cocoa.

5. The Cheeseboard
I visited the Cheeseboard in North Berkeley for the first time in quite a while. I went there with a friend who loves their lattes. I figured if they have a stellar latte, I should at least give their hot chocolate a try.

The first was amazing. The guy put in extra chocolate for me and it was perfect. They use a brand called Schokinag, which coincidentally, they also use at my favorite cupcake place, Love at First Bite.

However, since then, I've been there twice and it has not been as good. Maybe they switched chocolates? I was going to ask the last time, but I didn't want to be seen as some kind of psychotic hot chocolate freak. But to be fair, I should go back and ask. Or maybe I just wait around for the white-haired guy to make my cocoa.

Guerilla fell out of the top five, though I love their breakfast and lunch. I went back for their regular hot chocolate, but it lacked the intensity and chocolate-ness that I look for in a hot chocolate. And I appreciate that they use Dagoba chocolate, but at $3.50 a pop, I don't even get a homemade marshmallow.

Playing the field

Last Saturday, Lucas made his debut on the soccer field with his full team. Honestly I would have been happy had he just stood there, but he was going for the ball, running and having a great time.

Here he is with his mini-team. They are in deep discussions about what to name their team. I believe the "final" decision was the Blue Lightning Bolts and Pink Blue and Black Butterflies.

Today soccer went well too. With the exception of a planned visit from my brother. I think Lucas felt some anxiety because it meant another set of eyes on him. After the initial melt-down, he ran back on the field and played for the rest of the time.

Again, we went out for lunch and topped off the morning with some gelato.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

In his dreams

My mom is in Korea now. She's been there since September 15th and will return on November 15th. There are many reasons why she is missed when she's out of town: Choi get-togethers in Moraga, accompanying delicious Korean and other meals, willing and eager babysitter, and just her, as she is - happy and mellow, but very wise.

Kevin: Do you miss Grandma Kay?
Lucas: Nope.
Kevin: You don't?
Lucas: No, because I see her in my dreams every night.

Annual obligatory pumpkin patch photo shoot

Lucas' school had its annual visit to the pumpkin patch on Friday. After a week of rain, the weather cooperated and it was a gorgeous day.

We gave a ride to one of Lucas' friends. The boys cooperated too. We all had a great time.

A numbers guy

Lucas is still on his numbers and counting kick, so Kevin thought of a good way to combine his passion for writing numbers and counting things.
Yep, there's nothing like a good old-fashioned spreadsheet. This one he used to track the cards with different variables of colors and shapes.

It was time to get ready for bed, but Lucas pleaded, "Can I just do one more, pleeeasseee??" How do you say no to a 4-year old with a penchant for spreadsheets?

We're looking forward to the day when he can manage our family budget spreadsheet.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Just for the record

The other night, Kevin and I were discussing the balance of labor around the house. The discussion became somewhat heated, and I left to go for a walk.

I came back to find a note from him. If I wasn't so humble (ha), I'd frame it and hang it in the kitchen. But instead, I thought I'd take a more modest approach and post it here to immortalize his words.

"I really appreciate everything you do for Lucas and I and I know it is a whole lot. I love you and appreciate you more than you will ever know."

Just for the record, here it's right here.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Being a good team player

Even though Lucas has a great time running and dribbling the ball up and down every field but the one his team is practicing on, I've been talking to him all last week about soccer as a team sport (meaning, it's more than me and him) and that he needs to try and play a little bit with his team.

Saturday morning we drove over to the soccer field. Lucas said, "I'm really going to try today with my team mommy." Everything seemed to be pointing toward a successful day on the soccer field. Even after two days of TONS of rain, the skies were clear and blue.

But then we get there and there was only one other kid and his dad on the field. No coaches, no soccer goals, nothing else. We went out there anyway and Lucas and Kevin started kicking around the ball. I checked my phone, there was a message from Noel that included, "You probably know that soccer got canceled today..." I thought, "How am I going to tell Lucas that soccer is canceled after I had hyped it up with him all week?"

I looked out on the field. Lucas was having a great time kicking the ball around, he and he and Kevin were playing a little with the other kid/dad. I see another mom with her son, outfitted in the team uniform walking up the path.

Within about 10 minutes there were about 10 kids, obviously who had lame parents like me, who didn't bother to call the hotline to see if soccer was on or off because of the field conditions. At this point, even though soccer was officially canceled, there were enough kids and parents out there to have some fun.

One of the dads took the reins and acted as the coach. He had the kids running up and down the field and doing other various soccer drills. They dribbled, shot goals, tried to get the ball away from each other, and did all the other things that they do during soccer practice, and Lucas was right in the thick of things having a blast.

I was so relieved! It was great to see him out there having so much fun, playing soccer as a team sport.

Later that night as I was tucking Lucas into bed, we relived the soccer experience. He said he had so much fun, but then asked why the real coaches weren't there. I told him that maybe they thought no one would go because of the muddy field. Then he said, "You know when I grow up I'm going to be a soccer coach so I can help kids learn to play soccer, even if it's muddy."

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Adding up the toothpicks...and other ways to save the environment

Lucas' pre-k class is studying "ecology and the environment". We are supposed to use only reusable items to pack their lunches. I like that his school is introducing good environmental practices at an early age.

Last week I was chastised by Lucas for putting a toothpick in his lunch box for him to eat the cut-up melon. "Mommy, toothpicks are not reusable so I brought it home for you." (Just what I need, a gnawed on wooden toothpick).

I know that wooden toothpicks are not reusable, but I guess I didn't think about it and I should. It's the little things that count and all those toothpicks add up. I tried to find something online about how many toothpicks equal a tree, but I couldn't find any info on that.

I did see that China plans to impose a 5% tax on disposable wooden chopsticks. And South Korean companies (go Korea!) have invented an edible toothpick made from sweet potatoes. And I also found a billion and one craft ideas using toothpicks.

I also searched Sur La Table and found some fun reusable picks. I think I'll pick up these today, I think Lucas will like them.I was appalled to learn from a friend in Orange County that her city doesn't pick up recycling, so she doesn't recycle. I guess we're lucky in the Bay Area that the city picks up recycling and that I can put my food compost into my green waste.

I also read on the Rookie Moms blog, thirteen tips to be greener. Aside from the upcoming addition of my reusable picks, here are my own 13 things I do to lessen my impact on the environment:

1) Use recycled scrap paper instead of printing something out - We haven't had a printer at home for years. If we map quest directions, I write the directions out on the back of a used envelope or some other piece of paper in the recycling. Printers are superbad for your home environment too.

2) Don't buy a lot of stuff - Don't get sucked into the marketing for the latest gizmo that has XX times more memory than your current gizmo, which already has more memory than you'll need.

3) Don't use plastic bags for your produce if you can help it - Just have those apples rolling around loose in your reusable shopping bag. They're bound to get out anyway.

4) Host a bookswap - I'm going to host one later this month and I'll invite all 3 of you!

5) Use recyclable containers for bulk food items - I admit, I've only done this a couple of times. But it's a great idea. Instead of using plastic bags all the time when purchasing from the dry bulk items (raisins, rice, nuts), bring one of your containers from home and use that. They're easier to store stuff in your cupboard than a bunch of plastic bags.

6) Walk, bike, run, skip - It's better for the environment and better for you.

7) Use resuable utensils - Your office probably has reusable utensils for you to eat your lunch. And if they don't, buy some or bring them from home. They probably don't have reusable toothpicks, so improvise and use a fork!

8) Minimize your incoming catalogs. Call the 800 number on the catalog and take yourself off the lists. Shop online instead!

9) Shop with your own bag - When you shop for clothes, bring a cute tote bag along. Just like grocery shopping, you can put it in your own bag instead.

10) Unplug - That Cuisinart on your counter that you use once a year, unplug it when you're not using it. I read somewhere that having a computer plugged in overnight sucks up more energy than all the other things in your house combined.

11) Reusable water bottles - Bring your own reusable water bottle to work. Have a smaller one for your purse that you can use when you're out and about.

12) Grow your own food and share - My friend lives in a rental, but has planted a ton of food in her own little yard - lettuces, herbs and an apple tree. She comes to our house and picks as many lemons as she wants and brings over her apples for us. We had zucchinis and strawberries. We always have lemons, basil and rosemary.

13) Bundle up - It's getting cold but don't crank the heat. Bundle up with layers. We keep our heat in the low 60s.

That's it for now. Save a toothpick, save the world!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

A future in numbers

Lucas' recent obsession with reading numbers has opened up some new career options for him.

- Store clerk - In the grocery store, he reads all the prices of things as we walk by. "Apples for $3.99, strawberries for $4.99." And he extended his services to some of the other customers as well. To someone standing in front of the crackers, he informed them, "Those crackers are four dollars and twenty-nine cents". The man just nodded and walked away, as you would when a crazy street person tells you that he was just saw Jesus Christ walk by with a panda bear.

- Traffic cop - Even on the shortest of drives around town, Lucas keeps me honest by constantly checking with me on how fast I'm driving. He will see a speed limit sign and say, "Mommy, do you know how fast you're driving? The speed limit here is 25. I think you're going faster than that."

I guess my mom has to wait a little longer for Lucas to figure out he wants to be a surgeon.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Cocoa update

It's been a while since I gave a hot chocolate update. There's a new #1 in town, some very bad news, and a new front runner.

The new #1 hot chocolate: Since I've been working on 4th Street in Berkeley, Sketch Ice Cream has become my new favorite hot chocolate spot. Yes, surpassing Semis. Also, contrary to what I posted way back when, it's not too decadent to have more than just once in a while. I probably have been having two a week.

Some more about Sketch's fabulous hot chocolate - They melt the chocolate and blend it with the milk fresh for each order. I forget the type of chocolate they use, but it's awesome. And then, this is the best part, they dunk one of their homemade marshmallows into the finished drink. I normally don't like marshmallows, except for s'mores. But Sketch's marshmallows are perfect little confections. I love them.

The bad news?
Eric and Ruthie, the owners of Sketch, gave me notice last week that they would be closed for three weeks to remodel in October.

To commemorate the last day before their 3-week hiatus, Lucas, Kevin and I went down there yesterday to indulge. They were out of milk, so instead I got some of their delicious ice cream. Lucas and Kevin got ice cream too. And Kevin surprised us with one of their amazing little chocolate pudding cakes. It was a nice day to be out enjoying some really really good goods.

I'm not sure what I'll do during the 2-3pm time frame when everyone goes on their coffee runs to Peet's. Maybe I'll just stand in front of Sketch in hopes that there doors will magically open and I'll be greeted by one of their hot chocolates. I've tried all the other hot chocolates on the block, but no one else can come close.

The new front runner: The other day I went to Guerilla Cafe in North Berkeley. They have great little breakfasts. As I was leaving I looked at their drink menu and saw that they have hot chocolate for $3.50. That's a lot for cocoa, so I figured it must be special. So the next time I was in the neighborhood, I went in for one of their hot chocolates. They use Dagoba chocolate, which is a good thing. However I opted for the spicy variety, and though it was really good, it was a tad spicy for me. I will be back though to try their regular hot chocolate.

Latest ratings: This is how hot chocolates rank today, in my opinion.
1. Sketch
2. Semifreddis
3. The Pub
4. Guerilla Cafe (could be a tie with The Pub, I need to try out their regular non-spicy cocoa)
5. ??