Monday, March 31, 2008

New music genres

We were listening to the radio the other day, Peter Gabriel's Sledgehammer was on. Lucas said, "I like this song, it's about superheroes."

After the song was over, I found what I thought was another superhero song on my iPhone, I Am Superman, from REM. But according to Lucas, this is NOT a superhero song, it's a "girl" song.

So then I kind of gave up and we were listening to some international fare. He said, "I don't like this Scooby-Doo music. Turn it off."

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The man behind the chocolate

It's not every day that you meet someone who has had such a huge impact on your life, but last week I did.

Heather and I went to Charles Chocolates, in Emeryville. We met Charles (aka "Chuck"), which was a pleasant surprise, he was super nice.

But we were actually there to hear Gary Guittard speak. Gary is President and CEO of Guittard Chocolates. Guittard Chocolate Company is the oldest family-run chocolate maker in the US (Gary is the 4th generation) and and one of only ten chocolate makers in the US.

If you've been following my blog closely, you know that I'm really into hot chocolate. And Guittard happens to be the chocolate that's used at my two most favorite hot chocolate haunts (Sketch and Semifreddis), as well as my favorite cupcake place, Love at First Bite, and probably a host of other great places that I have yet to uncover.

Gary talked about the aspects of making chocolate, from touring exotic places to source the best cacao beans, to roasting and processing the beans, and keeping in touch with his customers.

Some interesting tidbits about Gary:
- He started working in the chocolate factory when he was 12 years old.
- He rebelled against the family business in the '60s and was a rock climber in Colorado.
- If he wasn't in the chocolate biz, he'd be living in the mountains.
- He considers milk chocolate a confection, and dark chocolate a food.

Gary is a true perfectionist when it comes to his work. He's not in it for the money, but he wants to put the very best product out there for other people to enjoy. He says he's always very excited to see what people, like Chuck or Michael Recchiuti are doing with chocolate these days.

After Gary's talk, Heather and I went up to get our photo taken with him. I haven't been this starstruck since I had my first celebrity run-in with Charlie Sheen as a teenager. I think I started by saying something stupid like, "I'm a huge fan of yours."

Like Chuck, Gary was very cordial and posed for a photo with his two new groupies.Chuck and Gary were both so sweet, I guess that's what happens when you work with chocolate all day.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Memories that stick

Lucas and I were talking about Fairyland the other day. He said wistfully, "I went there once with uncle Rocky. We sat on the play structure outside of Fairyland. We had a lot of fun. We each ate a bag of popcorn. That was a really fun day."

That trip to Fairyland happened over the summer. I hope when Lucas is an adult and thinks back to his younger days, he'll remember things like that. And not things like:
  • Last night when I heard Lucas screaming all the way from the house, as he and Kevin walked back after he (Lucas, not Kevin) refused to share or take turns while shooting baskets.
  • Even later last night when he woke up in the middle of the night and was sent to sleep in the downstairs bedroom because he wouldn't stop screaming.
  • This morning, shedding big tears while he ate his oatmeal. (Before you feel too sorry for him, let me explain the backstory. I served up oatmeal and raisins for breakfast. Only after I asked if he wanted raisins, and he replied that he wanted them in a separate bowl. Then when he saw the raisins in a separate bowl, he vehemently denied that he wanted raisins in the first place! He threw a hissy fit and was then sent to his room for a time-out. All that being said, there's nothing sadder than watching Lucas' big tears roll off his face into his oatmeal.)
I don't have many memories from before I was five. One thing I do remember is when my sister asked me to help her put her belt through the belt loops. I couldn't do it so she dragged me over to the bedroom door and put my finger by the hinges and slammed the door on it.

Like I said, I hope he hangs on to the more positive memories.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

ABCs of yoga

When I was stretching out on the floor the other day, Lucas assumed the role of yoga master, after a not-so-recent 6 weeks of yoga at school. He walked me through some yoga poses, which according to Lucas "are really good for you and will make you stretchy". He showed me the usual suspects: child's pose, tree pose, and sleeping pose (aka the "corpse" pose, in adult circles). I showed him the warrior and eagle poses, which he was excited to learn.

Lucas asked if I knew the letter poses. I told him I have never done the letter poses and asked him to show me.

He went through the whole alphabet. It was only around M that I thought to get my camera. Some were straightforward, like this pose:Others were more conceptual and free-form:

If Lucas is ever inclined to do this again, I'm going to try and capture all the letters so I can make a more complete yoga poster. Namaste.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

"Mom's guilt" - when does it end?

From the very beginning of life as a mom, even as a prenatal mom, the guilt starts to creep in.

Am I eating the right things? In my case no, my doctor told me to stop eating so much sugar since I was gaining so much weight. At 37 weeks I had already gained more than 50 pounds. I told the nurse to just stop telling me my weight after that. (And Lucas went to 41 weeks!)

Is it enough to do the prerequisite childbirth prep class from the local hostpital? I cajoled my husband into the childbirth yoga for partners all-day workshop. None of which I really used since I went for the epidural ASAP.

Is he still hungry? He was an avid eater. I nursed and pumped and nursed and pumped. I had enough breast milk in the freezer at any point to feed a small army. I was militant about not using formula for as long as I could, which was about 11 months.
Is he cold? I put a hat or hood on him every time I felt a slight breeze in the air, also because he looked so cute in hats. The day that he could, he started yanking those hats off his head. He won't come close to one these days.

Fast forward four years, because I don't want to recount all the other times I've felt guilty about something I should have done, should have done differently, or shouldn't have done at all.

Today Lucas was one of the last two kids to be picked up from school (more guilt!). Luckily the other kid was his best friend Jack. Lucas and Jack were playing, but also plotting a night of fine dining at TRex, one of our family's favorite spots. They may have expected that we would take them out because the last time they were the two last kids Jack's mom and I decided to go out for Mexican food.

Anyway, not because of any lack of effort on the parts of Lucas and Jack, we decided that we would plan a dinner at TRex for another night, but that it wasn't going to happen on this particular night.

On the drive home the majority of the conversation was centered around why we weren't going to TRex and when we could plan for it. I told him that most of the time when you go to dinner with someone else's family, you have to plan for it.

We pulled up in front of our house and Lucas got out and closed his door, which is when I heard him scream. I ran over and his finger was stuck in the door. I opened it quickly and blood was pouring out of his finger.

After we got him inside, cleaned up, and assessed that his finger wasn't broken, my first thought was, "Why didn't I take him to TRex?" For dinner we fed him anything he wanted, which was cheese, apple, almonds, dry cereal, and yes, a popsicle. I felt bad for him, he was really in pain, plus the popsicle helped to assuage the guilt, just a little.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Another big decision...decided!

After many months of research, conversations with other parents, school visits and deliberation, we finally know where Lucas will spend his next nine years of school - Prospect Sierra.

We love everything about Prospect, when Kevin and I visited, it looked like so much fun and a great place for Lucas:
  • Well-rounded curriculum - At least once a week he will get not just one, but all three: art, science, and music
  • Lots of space to run around - When Lucas came to the school with me this past week, he said, "Mommy, did you see all that grass? Can I play soccer there?"
  • Two classrooms per grade, 2 full time teachers until 3rd grade - After speaking with Lucas' teachers, they feel that he would especially benefit from a smaller environment with a smaller teacher to student ratio
  • Warm and wonderful teachers - During the weekend school tour, we had a lot of opportunity to talk with the teachers and really look at the work that the kids had done in class. We also saw them in action during one of the weekday school tours and they seem fantastic.
  • Fun afterschool program - He can take classes like fencing, Mandarin, baseball, ceramics, chess, carpentry, steel drums, cooking. Many of these classes separate out the kindergarten kids into their own class.
  • Service learning - If I had more time, I would do more of this with Lucas on a regular basis. In Kindergarten, they focus on the environment and take care of a creek area that is just down the hill from the school. It's also a green school so they bring that into the curriculum and the way things are done at the school - composting at lunch, solar panels, etc.
And knowing what we know about Lucas and after talking with Lucas' teachers, we feel really good that this school is the best one for him.

The whole process was interesting for me. What I learned was:
  • Just about everyone is super happy with the school their child is currently attending.
  • Public vs. private is a touchy subject. It reminded me of the working vs. non-working discussions when Lucas was a newborn - people have strong opinions about this, but what works for one family, may not work for the next family.
Also, after visiting the private schools, I was happy to see that they were as ethnically diverse as our community at large, and even more diverse than what would have been our public school, where "diversity" is made up mostly of Asians. I started thinking that maybe Lucas would not be accepted because he is half Asian and half Caucasian. So many of the kids in these private schools and also the prospective parents were of mixed race, specifically, just like us - Asian / Caucasian.

Lucky for us, Lucas got into both schools we applied to, and we had the public school as our back-up plan.

Since Lucas didn't really know he was interviewing, we never really brought it up to him or asked him where he would want to go. A couple of times I asked him where he had more fun, between the two private schools, where he had to go into the classroom with other kids to be observed. He would say Prospect Sierra because they had better snacks and that the grown-ups were nicer to him. He's asked to go back to the "Prospect playground" and about a week ago he taught me this clapping game, which he said he learned at Prospect.

So last week during breakfast one day, after we made our decision, I told him that he will go to Prospect Sierra. In typical Lucas form he said, "You know, when I went to Prospect one of the grown-ups told me that he loved blueberry muffins too." Now he will have at least one thing in common with one of the adults there. So there you have it, we made the right choice!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Random thoughts

I guess there are a lot of random things that comes out of Lucas' mouth, like the excess spittle when he says the letter "P". But today, I remembered to jot some down:

You know XXX in the preschool class, her dad came in today and he had, like, the biggest butt [holding his hands out wide]. It was really big, but probably littler than yours.

Wouldn't it be funny if you saw a cat wearing a bib?

What if Princess Leia wore a banana on her head? Then when one of the bad guys got her he would knock off the banana and she would say, "Hey, give me back that banana!" [followed by peals of laughter].

[Kevin was talking to Lucas about kachina dolls] I made a kachina doll daddy. Remember, when I studied about Native Americans in my class.

If my Republican friends could see me now...

Yes, all three of them!

Check out my quote posted on McCain Blogette. It's the March 8th posting. She left out the part where I said, "I'm a die-hard Obama supporter, but..."

I'm sure they don't get much fan mail from Berkeley, California. Anyway, I'm still addicted to reading this blog.

Becoming a restaurant patron

We made plans to go to our new favorite restaurant yesterday, Bui. We had just been earlier in the week and Lucas loved the garlic noodles.

So while we were getting ready yesterday he said that he wanted to order himself. I told him he should say, "Can I please have the garlic noodles?"

Lucas typed away on my computer while I was in the shower, this is what he wrote:

I m having the grlicnoodlz love lucas i love miy mom vire mutr love lucas

(And yes, he ordered garlic noodles on his own at the restaurant.)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

My new favorite blog

I am a die-hard Obama supporter, though I will support Hillary if she ends up as the DNC's nominee. That being said, I just discovered John McCain's daughter's blog - - and I'm totally addicted to reading it.

It's pretty funny, and so personal. I love her POV on what it's like to travel on the Staight Talk Express, and her comments on things about her family, like what they're wearing.

"Check out Mom's shoes before going on stage," Meghan writes.

"Making fun of Dad's totally lame "family pic" sweatshirt!" she comments about what her dad wore at a BBQ for the press.

It makes me feel differently about McCain (not that I'm going to vote for him), because it shows more of the person behind the face. I think that if Chelsea Clinton could write as humorously and candidly, it would help Hillary's image, but I don't really think she has it in her.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

March madness!

Yay! I managed to get through all of February without really breaking the tenets of The Compact (only "new" purchases were: shoelaces, socks, new bike parts, and Lucas' upgraded bike).

Now that March is here and I can purchase new things, I already have a shopping list burning a hole in my pocket:

- cute springy top (already purchased one at Banana Republic)
- pinboard for Lucas (either I will buy it or make one, either way, I'll have to purchase "new" materials)
- cute springy shoes (I'm tired of wearing my boots)
- soup ladle (we don't have one and I love making soups!)
- pizza cutter (for our weekly pizza dinners)

Product design

Lucas was busy at his art table making something. Kevin went and peeked and I heard Lucas say, "Don't tell mommy what it is yet."

Then Lucas proudly showed me his latest creation.Me: That's really neat, what do you call it?
Lucas: A Blueberry. Because it looks like Daddy's Blackberry, except it's blue. But actually it's really like your iPhone, it just doesn't look like it.

Me: How is it like my iPhone?
Lucas: Because it shows pictures on it, see the picture on the front? That's you, me and daddy.
Me: Oh, I get it. How else is it like my iPhone?
Lucas: See the back, I can write notes with it too, just like with your iPhone.
(Transcription: I LOVE MOM LOV LUCAS)