Thursday, June 2, 2011


This past weekend, I got dressed for a baby shower. Wore a skirt, donned high-heeled shoes (gasp), and actually put some lip gloss on and did my hair. Came out of my room, and my son says "Mommy, you look pwetty." When did he learn that?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Animal Stacks

The idea of getting a Noah's Ark-style toy for my son has always appealed to me. Not for religious reasons but because what kid doesn't love animals and boats. But the wooden ones are pretty pricey and none of the plastic ones tickled my fancy. And then I saw this one by Tier Toys. The brilliance is that the boat itself is a stacker; each level houses four animals in a puzzle-type fashion; it doubles as a pull toy because it's got wheels on the bottom (though the wheels don't turn all that well); and the plastic is BPA and phthalate free. My son loves the animals and putting them in their homes and/or lining them up on the deck of the boat. It is such a great toy, and I cannot recommend enough! There is also a barnyard stacker, a pet house stacker, and a sea x-plorer.

The Art of Making Lunch

My son loves his snacks. But lately, he's not been that great at eating his lunch. So I bought these fantastic sandwich cutters from Lunch Punch that cut sandwiches to look like a train, airplane, truck and a car. Decorate the plate accordingly with flowers, birds and whatever suits the motif, and voila - I have a lunch eater! Actually, it wasn't as easy as that. We had to drop the morning snack, too.

My masterpieces:

Peanut butter and jelly sandwich shaped like a car; carrots as birds; dried apricots as flowers; green peppers as stems and leaves.

Carrots as hair; leftover purple potatoes as ears; leftover fingerling potato as nose; grilled onion (originally cooked with potatoes) as eyebrows; cucumbers as eyes; tomatoes as lips; leftover chicken as teeth; dried cherries as tongue sticking out (I am told he ate that first).

Avocado and cheese sandwich cut as airplane and clouds (I sorta messed up the clouds but he couldn't tell); carrots and strawberries as flowers; pomegranate seeds as pollen; sliced cucumber as grass and stems.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Knock Knock

Husband and I are speaking to each other.
Son runs up and wants my attention.
Son: "Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy."
I say "Just a minute" and continue conversation with Husband.
Son (at my feet, looking up at me): "Knock knock, who's there? Knock knock, who's there? Knock knock, who's there?"

Where does he come up with such cuteness?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cue the Violins

It was very hard for me to leave the house today for work. My son kept saying “No mommy go, mommy stay home” over and over and took my lunch and water bottle out of my hand to entice me to stay. Little does he know, no enticing is necessary; I would give anything to stay, but work calls…

Of course, I had to act as though my leaving was a great thing. “Mommy will be back to play in a few hours.” 8 1/2 to be exact. "When I get home, we'll get out the play doh and make animals and have so much fun!" But he would not relent today. He was screaming “I want mommy” as I walked out the door, tears in my eyes.

Cue the violins…

Who wouldnt want to stay home with this face all day?


Woman in library to my son: How old are you?
My son: Two minutes.

What an advanced two-minute-old.

BPA is not OK

In my dreams, I see lots of mommies and daddies (and folks without kids) chanting that slogan until, finally, BPA is eliminated from food containers and kids' toys and, well, everything. I had not heard about BPA until I started shopping for bottles for my son, and even then, all I knew was to choose the BPA-free bottles. But as I started learning about its effects and its widespread use - particularly in food storage, money (yes, dollar bills contain BPA), receipts (screw the IRS, I no longer ask for or keep receipts) - I knew I had to eliminate where I could.

I am not qualified to give a science lesson on BPA and nor do I think you want one. So to put it simply, BPA is a chemical used to create hard plastics. It mimics estrogen and creates reproductive mutations in the womb. It is linked to heart disease, reproductive issues, low sperm count, increased risk of breast and prostate cancer, among other issues. Canada has declared it a toxic substance.

Yes, there are studies out there that attempt to discredit the science that BPA is harmful. I have three things to say about that. First, who sponsors those studies? Second, I live in Los Angeles, where I have no choice but to breathe toxic and polluted air, so why not decrease the ingestion of chemicals where I can. Third (and probably most important), if the science is "inconclusive," I refuse to be a lab rat and will not allow my son to be one. So here's my solution to the BPA issue:


The lining of canned foods is made with BPA and it has been proven that the BPA leaches into the food, so canned vegetables are a thing of the past. We try to eat fresh vegetables mostly, but I also have a stock of frozen veggies in the freezer. Whole Foods' frozen veggies come in BPA-free plastic bags. I would love to say that we cook our beans from scratch but, really, who has the time? I only buy Eden Organics canned beans, where the cans are not only BPA-free but there is no sodium added so we control the salt content (there are other organic brands with BPA-free cans, but we love Eden Organics so we're sticking to it). There is no such thing as BPA-free canned tomatoes. But I stumbled upon Pomi Tomotoes, which comes in BPA-free cardboard boxes. While it is not organic, it is grown in the hills of Italy according to the EU's organic standards. And the only ingredient is tomatoes (have you ever looked at the ingredients of Hunt's canned tomatoes? Might surprise you that tomatoes is but one of 9 ingredients, and there are 980 mg of sodium in one can; by comparison, Pomi has one ingredient - tomatoes - and 60 mg of sodium in the whole box). I buy Pomi in bulk on

Food storage:

I avoid any plastic with the #7 recycling code on it because that is most likely to contain BPA. I still have BPA-free plastic tupperware in my house but we rarely use it because BPA-free plastics have also been found to leach toxic, endocrine-disrupting chemicals. I use glass storage for almost everything. For my son, stainless steel or silicon. We use Lunchbots for lunches and Kids Konserve Nesting Trio for snacks and stainless steel water bottles for water when we're out of the house. I have used the Kinderville products since the puree stage - the big and small storage containers are fantastic for snacks, plates are great for meals, and the cups are great for - I'm guessing you can figure out what they're great for. They can be safely heated, too. I would also recommend Dandelion products. I have not used them so cannot vouch for them (I already invested in the above and did not need anything more) but the products are made from corn. Thank you, innovative company, for making the overabundance of corn in the US into something fantastic (ie, a non-toxic plastic substitute) instead of something disease-inducing (ie, high fructose corn syrup).

Even if you continue to use your plastics, just keep in mind that BPA and other harmful chemicals tend to leach when exposed to high heat, so don't microwave in plastic containers ever (microwave safe does not mean that it is safe for you; only that the plastic won't melt) and don't wash plastics in the dishwasher (this alone is reason enough to invest in good glass storage containers).

This was a pic from a while ago. It's of my son enjoying my grandma's food in his Kinderville plate (yes, I took the plate to Israel with me on a visit to see my grandma cuz he was too young for glass plates, I didn't want him to eat on plastic, and I'm neurotic like that).

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

"Mommy, love Sammy"

That's what he said before he gave our dog (Sammy) a great big hug.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Off With the Sippies

We are done with sippy cups. DONE! (Actually, we have been done for a couple months but I am only now getting around to writing about it.) Oh, how I hated cleaning those. The nooks and crannies are excruciatingly annoying to clean. The transition was tough. My son transitioned from bottles very easily at about 13 months, but he screamed and cried and screamed and cried for the sippy part of his cup for days.

I started by giving him his milk in the same cup but without the sippy top. He was not happy and refused to drink his milk. When I threatened to take the cup away and drink the milk myself (which I never could have done...I hate milk unless accompanied by a double fudge chocolate brownie), he finally obliged and drank about half. This same routine happened three times a day for seven days. Of course, I started to get worried that he wasn't consuming the obligatory 16-24 ounces of dairy per day that the doctor ordered, and talked myself into believing that I'm being selfish and that it is more important for him to have his milk than it is for me to not have to clean those sippies. But I stuck it out and that is proof positive that determination and consistency with a kid goes a long way. After about a week and a couple days, he plum forgot about his sippies (until he accidentally found them a few weeks later in the back of the cabinet, but by then, I think he only saw them as a nostalgic piece of his past). He still wasn't drinking as much as I wanted him to drink, though, and I didn't want to buy the milk boxes because the packaging is so wasteful. And then a light bulb went off in my head. Straws! No, not the plastic, wasteful ones. Beautiful, shiny stainless steel straws, which I very easily clean with Dr. Brown's handy little brushes. My son loves them and drinks his entire cup of milk with them, and so I love them, too!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"Mommy, Be Funny"

My son's funny. He's always had a sense of humor but now he can express it! The other day, I came home from work and he says to me: "Mommy, be funny," and put his left-side green Croc on his right foot and the right-side dinosaur Vans on his left foot. And then laughed and laughed. He thought it was hilarious, and so did I. Here's a not-so-good picture. What a love...


I love my daily RSS feed. My latest obsession is IKEA Hackers (, where people post their latest (and genius) modifications to and repurposing of IKEA products. What a brilliant idea. IKEA is so cheap (albeit not in the most convenient locations), and there are some ingenious ways to, for example, turn a bookshelf into a bed. It's almost time to put my son in a big-boy bed, and I've been looking at this for inspiration because I love the idea of a fort plus under-the-bed storage.

Happy reading!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Homemade Hair Stuff

I'm totally going to try this: Homemade DIY shampoo and conditioner. The ingredients sound good enough to eat (because they are), and I'm so curious about whether and how it will work. Shampoo ingredients: castile soap, green tea, olive oil and honey; Conditioner ingredients: water, apple cider vinegar, rosemary and herbal tea for fragrance. Right now, I use Hugo Naturals Shampoo and Conditioner. How did I find it? I went on the Cosmetics Database website ( and searched for a shampoo/conditioner with a 0 rating. It's pretty good. But I'm always up for a change, especially when the change includes ingredients as delicious (and natural) as the ones mentioned above. Keep you posted.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


I read a very cute New York Times blog post the other day about a parent's struggle with her child's iPad addiction. I have been anti-iPad, anti-iPhone, and anti-TV when it comes to my son. (Full disclosure: I am notoriously obsessed with reality TV and iPhone games so the hypocrisy is duly noted.) But now that he's 2, I struggle with the fact that there are some educational shows on TV that would benefit him (like Sesame Street) and there are some fantastic iPhone apps that teach him real skills, and the occasional movie can be fun, funny and educational, and shouldn't he benefit from those? The answer is yes, and so he does. I would say he watches about an hour or so of TV per week, plays puzzle or drawing apps on the iPhone about 3-4 times per week, and watches one movie per week. I really realized the benefit of movies the other day, when my son took a piece of spaghetti, put it in his mouth so that two sides were hanging down and said: "Mommy, woolly mammoth" (pic below). (The cuteness and imagination required for that is astounding, to me at least.) Now, he's been to the La Brea Tar Pits several times in his young life (free on second Tuesday of every month) and has seen the huge stuffed woolly mammoth there, but he truly got to know (and love) the woolly mammoth (and the sabre tooth tiger and the sloth) by watching Ice Age. Still, I think a child benefits more from books than media, from drawing or painting with actual materials rather than with a finger on a device, and by using his/her toys and surroundings for imaginative play. But I've come to terms with the fact that media is moderation.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Time Outs

I gave myself a time out yesterday. No, I did not make myself sit with my back against the wall for 33 minutes (1 minute for every year of life). I went to Target and spent the obligatory $100 (expensive time out). My son has taken to whining a bit lately, and when he gets frustrated, he starts crying and whining and screaming "Mommy" over and over and over and basically has a little meltdown, as all two-year-olds generally do. My husband can completely tune it out. I cannot. I found myself getting frustrated by my son's umpteenth frustration over Legos and started to raise my voice at him to stop whining but I caught myself. Told my husband I need a time out, he told me to go ahead and take one, and off I went to Target. I'm so happy I did...I think it was good for both me and my son.

Since I'm on the topic, I started to give my son time outs a couple months ago (shortly after he turned two). I learned how to from watching Supernanny, the greatest resource on discipline that I have found to date. Sometimes it works in teaching him behavior; sometimes it doesn't. But no matter what, it is teaching him that there are consequences to behavior. I don't do it too often because I don't want him to become immune to it and I don't want him to lose his spunk. And there are other ways of dealing with behavior. I have found the greatest tips not from those websites that purport to offer tips on how to raise your child, but from the parents' comments that follow. There are some genius moms and dads out there. I think the best tip I've learned thus far is this: when my son is crying for something that he can't have, I get down to his level, repeat what it is that he wants three times, and briefly explain why he can't have it and offer an alternative. The three times idea is genius. The first time ("You want to play with scissors?"), my son can't hear me because he's crying; the second time ("You want to play with scissors?"), he catches onto the fact that I understand what it is that he wants and his crying is reduced to a whimper; by the third time ("You want to play with scissors?"), he has stopped crying and says "yes, want scissors." And then I explain why he cannot have what it is that he wants, trying my hardest to avoid the word "no" at all costs ("Scissors are dangerous and you can cut yourself..."), and as quickily as possible, change topics and redirect him to something different ("but I bet you would love to play with play doh...let's make shapes together!"). Works like a charm (nearly) every time.

I've also discovered how important it is to speak to my son at his level. That should be intuitive to me given that I am under five feet and know how intimidating it can be to have someone much bigger tell you what to do. Just the other day, I was making my son breakfast and he kept touching a beautiful (but delicate) piece of artwork we have hanging on the wall. I kept telling him to stop, to no avail. It became a game for him. Finally, I realized I just have to stop what I'm doing. I bent down to his level; told him that artwork is not for touching but for looking; that if he feels the urge to touch, he should grab his hand and run away (he loved that). And, lo and behold, he stopped. Not saying this happens every time; but it happens most of the time and that's all that I can ask for.

Disclaimer: I have only been a mom for 2 years, 2 months, and 11 days. I am fully cognizant that my disciplinary tips and tricks might work well for me now (as in yesterday, today, and hopefully tomorrow) but will have to change as soon as my son catches on to me.

Can you see the mischief in this little boy's eyes?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Mickey D's and the Disappointing Fats

Oh, McDonalds, how I loathe thee. I read an opinion piece today in the New York Times by Mark Bittman called How to Make Oatmeal...Wrong, which criticizes McDonald's for not being able to even get their oatmeal right and criticizes the folks who frequent McDonald's for the "convenience" factor. I seriously cringe when I think about all the times that I splurged on McDonald's fries in the 32 years before I finally saw the light. You would think that with all the negative publicity they've received over the past few years that McD's would finally try to do good. But they can't even get oatmeal right. It's oats. OATS. The oatmeal in my house has one ingredient. You ready for it? Organic natural oats. Why must their oatmeal contain 7? My oatmeal has 0 grams of sodium; theirs has 140. My oatmeal contains less than 1 gram of sugar; theirs has 14.

AND THEIR FOOD IS STILL MADE WITH BAD FATS! This is the part that makes me really mad. I took a look at the nutritional information and ingredients in their food. I would say that I can identify about half of the ingredients in their grilled chicken breast patty. Um, shouldn't it just be chicken? It says right there in the nutritional contents that their chicken breast is made with liquid margarine, which contains partially hydrogenated cottonseed and soybean oils. I know there are folks that look at that and see the word soybean and think they are eating something healthy. Wrong. It's poison. offers this lovely explanation: Partial hydrogenation is an industrial process used to make a perfectly good oil, such as soybean oil, into a perfectly bad oil. The process is used to make an oil more solid; provide longer shelf-life in baked products; provide longer fry-life for cooking oils, and provide a certain kind of texture or 'mouthfeel.' The big problem is that partially hydrogenated oil is laden with lethal trans fat. I won't bore you with all the gory science. You can take my word for it that it's poison, or you can read about it here or here or here. (And in case you're wondering, yes, McD's fries are made with hydrogenated oils and other questionable additives.)

I wish this wasn't so because so many of my favorite vices contain hydrogenated oils: Kit Kats, Snickers, and basically every candy bar on the market. (I can't tell you how hard it's been for me to stay away from the ubiquitous candy jar at work that is laden with all of these candy bar treats.) Even Girl Scout cookies. Let me put that one in perspective. The Girl Scouts advertise that none of their cookies contain trans fats even where their three most popular brands - Thin Mints, Samoas, and Tagalongs - are made with partially hydrogenated oils. For some ungodly reason, if a product contains less than .5 grams of trans fats per serving, it may be advertised as having 0 grams of trans fats. Let's think about that one, ok? The Girl Scouts FAQs states that all varieties of cookies contain less than .5 grams of trans fats per serving (so even though they are legally allowed to advertise that their cookies contain 0 grams of trans fats, that's simply not true). A serving of Samoas is two cookies. So if Samoas contains .4 grams of trans fats per serving (which, as described above, can be listed on the ingredients label as 0 grams of trans fats), and you eat six Samoas (and let's be honest, you can't eat just two), you've just consumed 1.2 grams of trans fats. That's NOT the 0 grams you bargained for. I'm not sure how they reconcile this with Girl Scouts law to respect others, use resources wisely, take responsibility, and make the world a better place.

Unfortunately, I find that most kids' snacks contain partially hydrogenated oils. Quick story: My husband and I took my son to Griffith Observatory and my husband, who is incessantly hungry, mosied on over to the snack shop to grab a quick something to eat. He came back with one of those pre-packaged Smuckers peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Now you would think that would contain very few ingredients: bread (obviously made with a variety of ingredients), peanut butter, and whatever makes up strawberry jam (should just be strawberries and sugar). But to my utter shock and awe, it also contained partially hydrogenated oils in the bread AND the peanut butter, among about 20-30 other hard-to-pronounce ingredients. Why on earth? I guarantee that was not what Mrs. Smuckers intended.

I am thankful for Whole Foods and Trader Joe's for making my life a bit easier. I have yet to find a food item in either store that contains partially hydrogenated oils. And, luckily for us, there is one fast food chain that does not use hydrogenated oils: In n Out! That's what a hamburger's all about, I tell you. Because even with all this healthy living, you just gotta have a good burger and fries once in a while.

Caveat: my husband has not fully jumped on this anti-fast-food bandwagon with me. I think in theory he has, but he just needs (or wants) junk food once in a while. He has cut down on fast food a bit, but his doctor told him that fast food once a week is a-OK, and my husband heeds that advice and cites it whenever I find an empty brown bag with a smiley-faced star on it in his car. I choose my battles.

As always, a picture of my muse:

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Enjoying the Unplanned

My husband went away for one night this weekend, so it was just me and the kiddo. Woke up on Monday morning (President's Day) and thought it would be a great day for a hike. So we ate breakfast, bundled up, and drove to Griffith Park. I took no snacks because I figured we would be gone for an hour or two and be back in time for snack. We hiked, climbed up tree stumps, grabbed milk and coffee from Trails Cafe, inspected the bark on the trees, looked at the different shades of green on all the various leaves, and watched the (tiny) waterfalls from the recent rains. We have been reading the book "Are You My Mother" lately, so when we also saw some "baby" birds, the search began for the Snort (an excavator that places the baby bird back on the tree). We were having such a good time, that I decided it would be fun to head over to the ponies and trains. So we did. Two pony rides (huge accomplishment because this is the first time my son would actually get on the ponies and happily ride them), a train ride, a simulator ride (huge disappointment), and a snort-sighting later (yes, we saw THE snort), we were spent and it was time to go home.

I write about this because I don't want to ever forget this morning. It was pure bliss notwithstanding that my husband was not there. It makes me all teary eyed because I had such an incredible time talking to and wandering through nature with my son. And I could see what a sponge he is and how he soaks in all the information. It was also liberating because this was our first excursion that was completely unplanned and impromptu. I planned nothing and I planned for nothing. I had no snacks, no just-in-case toys. Just a couple diapers and wipes. And it was beautiful!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I'm cheating on my rags...with paper towels

So in the past year, I have strived to be green for multiple reasons. Of course, the obvious is to do my part in saving the planet, and I also want to teach my son about recycling and being a better citizen of this world. So we've made lots of changes: we compost, buy cleaners and detergents that don't pollute the environment, take reusable bags to the grocery store, ride our bikes, store food in glass containers, buy biodegradable trash bags, etc. But the biggest change was eliminating paper towels and paper napkins. It's hard. I bought a whole bunch of plain rags and microfiber dishtowels from Costco and bought a whole bunch of cloth napkins from Target. Certain rags are meant to be used for cleaning; others are meant for dishes and just a quick wipe of the countertops. But, of course, sometimes what they are "meant" for does not matter because when a rag is needed, we grab the first one we can find. There are a lot of logistical issues that come with rags that I have yet to perfect. For example, where do I put soiled rags? And where do I put those rags that clean up after my son's potty training "accidents"? And should I wash all rags in a separate load or can I wash them with the cloth napkins and other laundry? Would washing them separately defeat their "green" purpose because it adds another load of laundry? I don't have the answers to all these questions but I put my cloth napkins in a mesh bag; rags used to clean up potty training accidents go into a separate plastic bag; rags used to clean up just get piled on top of my washing machine; and, yes, I clean the rags in a separate load of laundry, not to be mixed in with clothes and bath towels. But I never feel organized about this, and I feel like there should be some organizational devices out there to assist in this process. I'm still searching...

But that is not really what this blog post is about. My mom, frustrated by my decision to eliminate paper towels, brought over 5 rolls last week. I told her to take them back but, alas, she left them at my house. At first, my son thought it was the greatest new toy (seriously, I don't know why I spend so much on fancy wooden empty box and some paper towels are all he needs). And then, something spilled in the kitchen and instead of grabbing a rag, my husband (who I know is secretly SO happy for the paper towels) opened one paper towel roll and cleaned up the mess. And then yesterday, I cleaned up another mess with a paper towel. And this morning I used another paper towel to clean my counters. Notwithstanding the guilty conscience, it feels gooooood to use paper towels. So good, I have devoted a half hour this morning to writing about it. I am trying to convince myself to savor these rolls and use them sporadically and only when really needed because once they're gone, there will be no more paper towels. I think.

Just to be consistent, here is my sweet boy in a tunnel...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Snacks. I love making snacks. I am not the cook of the house; that job is left to my amazing chef of a husband. But I do make a mean snack, and I'm proud of each and every one. I try my hardest to not rely on "pantry" snacks, which (I'm going to get preachy for a sec) are generally filled with chemicals, processed crap, and hard-to-pronounce ingredients that I personally don't have in my pantry and nor do I know where to get them and so why should I feed them to my son. So, yes, this tired working mommy tries hard to make fruits and vegetables fun, different and delicious. My most fave creation of late is sliced banana with a little peanut butter (or almond butter), and topped with pomegranate seeds or a blueberry or a walnut (see below pic). Delicious, nutricious, and yum. I also bought some really fun stainless steel shape cutters, and now carrots and cucumbers look like pretty little flowers and birds. Last night, I made another batch of applesauce. It consists of lots of apples, one carrot, one beet. Chop into 1 inch pieces and bake in oven (covered) for one hour. Add a handful of fresh spinach leaves to the baked concoction. (Note: all ingredients organic.) Use hand blender to blend it all. Add cinammon or five spice or pumpkin spice, or whatever tickles your spice-fancy. And beam with pride when your child takes a bite and says "YUMMY IN TUMMY!" Some other snacks we love: blend hummus with one roasted beet (or spinach, or roasted peppers, or ...) and serve with veggies or pita, seaweed (so nutricious), kale chips (take so long to make but so worth it), sliced grapes with sliced string cheese and crackers (there are some GREAT crackers out there like ak-mak, with easy-to-pronounce ingredients), avocado and pomegranate seeds (an unlikely combination, but the colors work well together), and crackers with cream cheese and a couple specks of red bell pepper on top.