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Location: Northern California

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


East Bay Babies, Get Ready to Boogie

Excited because I hear New Order
Originally uploaded by marytsao.
Remember when we took the kids to Baby Loves Disco in San Francisco? I blogged about it and posted pictures. Baby Love Disco parties are held at swanky nightclubs but during the day, and--hold on to your dancin' shoes--kids are welcome!

I am so excited that the popularity of Baby Loves Disco (it took us months to get tickets!) is spreading to the East Bay and the South Bay. Hey, suburban parents can get down and get funky, too.

Yes, that's right. How do you think we made these babies?

We'll be at the East Bay Baby Loves Disco party this Saturday, March 31. If you'd like to go, my girl Kristen of Cool Mom Picks has worked out a deal for you. Email her (kristen at coolmompicks dot com) by this Friday, March 30, 12 PM PST, and mention my blog. She'll put you on the list to get tickets at the door for 20% off reglar price. Tickets are $15 per walking human so the discount will make them $12. More money for drinks, mama!

The East Bay BLD is in Pleasanton at Aura Nightclub, one of those places you never go to anymore because you're burdened with offspring, which won't matter on Saturday. Besides the dancing, they're also going to have a cool Modern Mom lounge with free massages, make-up, and babysitting while you get pampered.

So email Kristen and look for me this Saturday. I'll be the one squealing whenever the DJs play a song from the 80s.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Mom's Survival Guide to Fieldtrips with Toddlers and Preschoolers

Originally uploaded by marytsao.
As promised, here are my [obviously unedited] thoughts on how to survive fieldtrips with toddlers and preschoolers. Hope this information is helpful to you, and please feel free to leave additional tips. It's never too late to teach an old mom new tricks. What works for you?

  • Be prepared. Know where you're going, how to get there, and whether the place is open on the day you want to go. Make sure you've got your wallet, charged cell phone, and cash. If you're going to a city, make sure you've got quarters for the meter. Bring anything you need to keep your kids happy. This is important! I can't tell you how many times a bag of crackers (for Thomas) or a notebook and pen (for Emily) has saved my life. Of course, bring diapers, wipes, juice boxes, and possibly even extra clothes. Organized moms keep all of this stuff in their car in a special "just in case" bag. I'm not that organized.
  • Expect the unexpected. When you get to the children's museum and realize that it closed early, don't despair. Look for the nearest public library, park, college campus, McDonald's with a playland, shopping mall, etc. Keep a smile on your face and never let your kids see you sweat. This is especially important if you have kids who get disappointed easily and who were looking forward to the original destination. Don't make a big deal out of a change in plans and promise ice cream, the universal healer.
  • Know thy child. If your kid is better in the mornings, go on fieldtrips in the mornings. If he has a short attention span, keep it simple. Don't go where a kid sensitive to light and noise will be overwhelmed. Not every fieldtrip on every occasion is for every child. Don't feel bad about declining any fieldtrip invitation that you know is wrong for your child, for whatever reason.
  • Know thyself. I'm not a big fan of playgrounds unless I've got another adult with whom I can chat. There, I said it. You may not like museums or pools so don't feel compelled to take your child to one because it's good for her. What's good for her is spending time with a happy mom. Also, don't go on a fieldtrip during your nap time. I've seen pregnant moms bolt from playgroup when it was time for the kids (and mom) to go down. Those moms are smart.
  • Go alone. I prefer going on fieldtrips alone. I mean, my kids are with me, but we seldom go with other moms and kids. When I'm alone I can cater directly to my kids's--or to my--needs. If I sense we need to cut the outing short, we do. If I want to change plan A and go with plan B, I do. And there's no being late if I have nobody to meet.
  • Go with friends. The drawback to going alone is that I'm alone. I mean, my kids are with me, but any conversation is limited to saying things like, "Use your words!" or "Thomas, give Emily back her notebook!" Fieldtrips without other adults can be boring. Kids rarely want to discuss scenery or art or the weather. I like going on fieldtrips with other moms and kids when we can be flexible about times and she understands if I have to leave early. And sometimes there can be strength in numbers. I am more inclined to allow my children to run around in public if I'm with another mom and her kids are doing the same. Rebel moms!
  • Be creative. Going anywhere with small kids is a fieldtrip. A drive to a playground in a neighboring town followed by frozen yogurt is a fieldtrip. Going to a matinee of a G-rated, animated movie is a fieldtrip. Bringing notebooks, crayons, and a picnic lunch to the park is a fieldtrip.
  • Get while the going's good. If things just aren't going according to plan, cut the fieldtrip short and go home or cut to plan B. I do this all of the time, mostly in restaurants. If the kids are misbehaving, I have the food wrapped up and I leave. Sometimes your kid is tired or sick or just doesn't want to be where you put her. Take the cue and leave. There will be many more fieldtrips in the future.
  • Be rigid. If you know that your child is only "socially acceptable" during the hours of 9:30 and 11:30 AM, don't go on a fieldtrip at 2:30. Know your windows of opportunity and stick to them.
  • Be flexible. Set your expectations low and be prepared to change them according to your child's mood, the weather, or outside influences. Sense when a situation isn't working and then work to change it. Most of the time this equates to going home even though you've seen only one floor of art at a four-story museum.
  • Know your rights. You are allowed to be out in public with small children. Ignore any and all nasty looks or comments from strangers and those who refer to themselves as childfree. Breastfeeding a baby in public is the first hurdle for any new mom. Taking a toddler who uses screaming to communicate and can sprint like he is training for the Olympics is the second.
  • Think quality, not quantity. I go on a lot of fieldtrips with my kids, but none of them last longer than a couple of hours plus drive time. That includes trips to expensive places like Legoland. Some kids can go-go-go all day long, but my kids can't. Neither can I. I like doing things, but I don't have to stay somewhere all day to feel that I've gotten my money's worth. I'd rather leave with a smile on my face and memories of a good time.
  • Keep a good attitude. Deep breaths, counting to ten, singing softly to yourself as you run after your toddler -- use known relaxation techniques and make a conscious effort to remain calm, cool, and collected when you are on a fieldtrip. Remember that there's a glass of wine, a hot bath, or both at some point in your future. Remember, too, that one day this kid who insists that you carry him the entire time you're in the museum, one day won't even want you to drop him off where his friends can see you. Cherish these moments. (As hellish as they sometimes seem.) And don't forget that even though your kid seems entirely uninterested in the cultural event you've so lovingly brought him to observe, he will undoubtedly surprise you in a week or so by bringing up something he saw when you thought he was interested only in licking the plate glass window.

Sunday, March 25, 2007


Home Improvement Weekend, Part II: The Ta Da List

All done!
Originally uploaded by marytsao.
On Saturday there was the To Do List, and now the weekend is over and here's the Ta Da List*:

  • Went to Home Depot with Emily. Purchased new paint brush, two cans of yellow spray paint, and two over-priced patio inspiration books.
  • Made online purchase of new plastic deck box to house our recycling and bins. Sent Mike to pick up from Sears. He put it together on Sunday. Works like a charm!
  • Spray painted baskets. Kids looked on in wonder and awe at the power of spray paint.
  • Cleaned out toys that live in baskets. Threw out a bunch of crap. The kids helped sort things.
  • Based on books I got at Home Depot and things I saw at the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show, I put together a vision for our side patio garden/hot tub area and got it down on paper. I'll call our landscaper tomorrow.
  • Mike put together Thomas's new dresser. It was over 100 pieces and took him over 30 minutes. Thank you, Mike! The kids helped pick out the screws and dowels that he needed. He was very patient with them.
  • Cleaned out my closet and under my bed. Put together 4 bags of stuff for donation, but didn't get a chance to do a Goodwill run. Now there's nothing on the floor of my closet except a stool. This makes me happy.
  • Gathered winter sweaters to be dry cleaned before putting away for the summer.
  • Miscellaneous: Vacuumed, did laundry, shaved my arm pits, made five meals. Mike made the sixth meal. Almost unbelievably, we didn't eat out once all weekend. That's probably a first for us.
  • Framed family portraits we took last weekend. Thought about where I want to put them.
  • Took photos of our yard in springtime. Put up Backyard: Befores and Afters on Flickr. They're cool! Start at the beginning.
  • Cleaned up the front patio and rearranged the patio furniture.
  • Did other stuff but I forgot what.
  • Flickr'd and Blogged until it was time to watch BSG with hubby. Season finale!

* Thanks to Daisy for the suggestion that I name it the Ta Da list!

Friday, March 23, 2007


Home Improvement Weekend, Part 1: The To Do List

To Do lists motivate me. So does beautiful weather, green tea lattes, and a house I love filled with people I love even more.

  • Finish the 10 minutes worth of painting in Mike's office.
  • Hem the second set of curtains for his office. Should they be long or short? Contemplate this.
  • Clean things up, vacuum, and take pictures. Declare it Done, Baby.
  • Consider painting the short hallway yellow to match the long hallway.
  • Put together Thomas's new dresser. (Note: This can be outsourced to Mike.)
  • Paint Thomas's dresser blue using leftover paint from Mike's office.
  • Get a golden yellow paint (spray paint?) to paint toy storage baskets in family room.
  • Check to see if we have plastic drop cloth. If not, buy one.
  • Dump everything out of toy storage baskets onto floor and help kids decide what is garbage, what is good, and what should be given away.
  • Paint baskets.
  • Check out books, websites, pictures from garden show to get ideas for side yard patio/hot tub area.
  • Get link from Mike about hot tub he wants. Dimensions?
  • Do rough sketch of patio design.
  • Find time for some lovin'.
  • Call guy who did our backyard to have him come out and give estimate for work. Also want to get estimate for sprinkler system, sod, and circular flower bed around tree in front yard.
  • Discuss with Mike the things we want an electrician to do: remove light in family room, add globe pendants, add lights outside, add more outlets in his office.
  • Call electrician for consultation/estimate.
  • Load car with stuff to donate and make run(s) to Goodwill.

This seems like a long list, but it's really only a couple of actual projects. Will I accomplish everything? Good question! It won't hurt to try. Come back Sunday for Part 2: The To Done List.

Happy weekend, everybody.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Everything's Coming Up Ranunculus

Originally uploaded by marytsao.
I promised Amy from VA that I'd give her/you/the Blogosphere my secrets to successful fieldtrips with toddlers and preschoolers, but I'm a tad bit brain dead at the moment. I worked on the newsletter for my Mothers Club today, and by the time I dropped the CD off at the printer I was barely able to drive to my favorite drive-through coffee place (Espresso Lane in Redwood City) to get myself a large chai latte over ice. Barely able! I know, break out the small violins.

I promise I'll write something tomorrow that will enlighten and educate and that will be better than "pack Valium." But for now, let me provide you with a bulleted list to answer the question, WASSSUUUPPP?

  • We've decided against buying a school bus to take to Burning Man. The main reason is that we couldn't come up with a good answer to the question of what we would do with a school bus the rest of the year, the rest of our lives, etc. I--like my neighbors, I'm sure--have no desire to see a school bus every time I look out my window.
  • Instead of a school bus, we are going to rent an RV. (Hey, it's for the kids!) Note to self: Reserve one this weekend.
  • Lily Tomlin knows the F word. You go, girl.
  • This is hilarious. STFU-LOL! (Thanks, Mike!)
  • Today I bought a new family room rug in a color called banana creme. It will arrive in approximately ten business days.
  • Yesterday we had our fence stained.
  • I have declared the upcoming weekend Home Improvement Weekend. I hope the weather holds because I'm in the mood to spray paint.
  • I'm reading The Secret. Yes, I saw it on Oprah.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Real moms don't feel guilty

Heart yourself
Originally uploaded by marytsao.
Kari of Kari's Couch tagged me for Kristen of Motherhood Uncensored and The Mom Trap's Real Moms meme. Kristen doesn't do anything half-assed, including this meme, which she started on The Mom Trap, when she revealed to the Internets that real moms have flab. She then turned it into a blog of its own, Real Mom Truths. If you haven't seen it, go check it out. It turns out the real moms use videos as babysitters, sometimes have babies you can't see, and--in Kari's case--sometimes forget they are moms. Who knew?

Oh ya, other moms.

My post about real moms is in response to a piece I saw today on The Today Show about the "Mommy guilt" epidemic.

I'm sick and tired of hearing about how guilty moms feel because they sometimes forget to feed their children organic tater tots. Or because they are forced to leave them every day with a caregiver so that they can go earn a living. Why do they feel guilty? No mom who loves her children should feel guilty that she's not doing enough for them or spending enough time with them.

Do you feel guilty? If I was paranoid and kept my windows covered with foil, I might think that there is no mommy guilt epidemic and really it's just a case of the man trying to keep us down. Think about it.

Today when my nanny came over to watch the kids all day so that I could drive around town wearing a pretty dress, running errands and going to a Flower & Garden Show, do you think I felt guilty? Hells no! Not only did I not feel guilty, I felt positvely ELATED, OVERJOYED, and downright PRE-ORGASMIC.

Don't feel guilty, moms, please. Turn your inner voice from one that berates you into one that supports you and reminds you every day of what a great job you're doing raising your kids. Rise up against your oppressor! Stand up for who you know is right -- you! You are not doing the wrong thing; you are doing the right thing. And then when you're done, use your outer voice to call up your babysitter and schedule a break for yourself. You deserve it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Wanna be my friend?

Under the Weather
Originally uploaded by marytsao.
I let Emily decide what we should do yesterday and she picked visiting the Strybing Arboretum and Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park so that's what we did. The weather was foggy, but the light was great for photos and the gardens were magnificent in their springtime glory. Pictures of blooming azaleas, a mom who needs some beauty rest, and an unhappy child are up on Flickr. Enjoy!

Today is a wonderful rainy day so we're staying indoors and entertaining ourselves with naps, movies, and Girl Scout cookies. Other things that are making me happy include fuzzy slippers, green tea with lots of sugar and milk, a warm sweater, and a unexpected phone call from Mike to tell me he loves me and he's happy with his life. Also, take out pizza is on the menu tonight (no cooking for me!) because a local pizza place is hosting a fundraiser for my Mothers Club.

I'm supposed to go see a showing of the MomsRising movie The Motherhood Manifesto tonight with my friends over at Maya's Mom, but I'm not sure I want to leave the warmth and coziness of my house...

Speaking of Maya's Mom, have you checked it out? It's where parents share, and it's a good place to meet online friends, journal, get and give advice, and find out about local, kid-friendly events. As an added bonus, Charlene of Crazed Parent and Mir of Would Coulda Shoulda write for the Maya's Mom blog The Sandbox. Love those ladies!

If you join the Maya's Mom community, add me as a friend! We all need friends. Here's a link to my profile.

Speaking of being friends, do you Flickr? It's the best photo sharing site online. Period. It's almost as addicting as blogging and possibly even more. Put that digital camera to good use and share the photos that represent your life. Here's a link to my Flickr profile, where I describe myself as a thirty-everything stay-at-home mom of two married to a Silicon Valley geek. If that description doesn't make you barf, add me as a contact!

Sunday, March 18, 2007


Sunday happiness

Dressed for family picture
Originally uploaded by marytsao.
Happiness is...

  • A sunny day
  • Taking a family portrait and knowing we're preserving memories for generations to come
  • Wearing high heels and not getting a blister
  • A clean house, an unexpected visitor, and no worries
  • A 3-mile run with no pain
  • Leftover corned beef on roll with Pierce PT cheese from Cowgirl Creamery
  • Not knowing if I want to take the kids to the SF MOMA, the Japanese Tea Garden/Strybing Arboretum, or the Tumble & Tea Cafe tomorrow, but realizing that it's a pretty nice problem to have to solve
  • Watching Battlestar Galactica with Mike as part of our Sunday night ritual

Saturday, March 17, 2007


Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Originally uploaded by marytsao.
The corned beef is in the oven, the green tablecloth is on the table, and friends are coming over for a kid-friendly St. Paddy's Day feast. St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and we're using this day to celebrate the Irish in our clan. Mike brings it from his mom's side and my great-grandmother on my grandfather's side was Irish. At least, that's the story my grandmother told me growing up. (Mother, can you substantiate?)

I must admit that I am sorely missing the booze I normally associate with this day. No Guiness or Half-n-Half (Guiness and Harp) for me today. No Bushmills or Jameson (depending on if I'm drinking with a "real" Irishman). No Bailey's Irish Cream or Irish Whiskeys to end the night.

I think I'll go eat the bag of shamrock chocolate that my friend Jennie gave me. (Thanks, Jennie!) And I'll down it with a green tea latte.

Hope you all are having a great St. Patrick's Day!

Things I want to remember about disliking Chuck E. Cheese's

Chuck E. Cheese's
Originally uploaded by marytsao.
I like taking my kids on what I call fieldtrips. Adventures get us out of the house, keep us busy, and--hopefully--teach my kids something about the world in which we live. This week we hit the beach, saw The Wiggles in concert, lunched at Chuck E. Cheese's, and visited a vintage children's amusement park in San Jose called Happy Hollow. The kids loved all of the things we did this week, and with the exception of our outing to a certain over-priced pizza palace, I did, too.

Chuck E. Cheese's. Yuck. Of course, the kids loved it and talk about it every day, but all I can do is cringe every time I think about how much money I spent there. It was an insanely expensive fieldtrip because I had never been there before so I didn't know the drill. I kind of spaced out when I ordered the food and ended up with way too much food and way too many tokens. I'm not sure if I was distracted by the arcade games, the wandering kids, or what.

I realized a couple of things after watching the other parents and kids and after spending some time at the place. If I ever find myself there (or any game arcade like it) again, I'll keep these things in mind.

(1) You don't need to eat there to play the games.
(2) Toddlers and preschoolers probably enjoy the games whether they're "playing" them or not.
(3) Some of the stuff there doesn't require money, e.g., the climbing structures.
(4) Some parents take their kids there and bring lunch in tupperware containers.
(5) Kids don't eat lunch when they're running around. Therefore, buying them food is a waste of money.
(6) The pizza tasted like it had been frozen. Frozen pizza should not cost that much money.
(7) Allowing kids an unlimited number of tokens just makes them insane. A better thing to do would be to give each child five tokens and allow them to decide which five games they most want to play.
(8) Some of the games give you tickets for scoring. At the end you trade in the tickets for prizes, but the prizes you get for the tickets are a joke. You'd be better off going to the dollar store and giving each child $5.00.
(9) In general, Chuck E. Cheese's is a complete waste of money and the place itself turns children into greedy brats.
(10) A much better fieldtrip would involve buying a pizza at Round Table, then bringing it to a playground with a water structure and eating it at a picnic table while the kids run around getting wet. Afterwards, take the kids to the dollar store and buy all kinds of plastic crap for $10. Total field trip = $25.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


The story of Emily

Originally uploaded by marytsao.
"Emily, have I ever told you the story of when you were born?"

I asked her the question this morning. Her eyes lit up. "No!" "Well," I said, "Grammie Martha was there, and Tutu was there, and Daddy was there, too." She nodded her head in understanding, obviously happy that all of her favorite people had been there for her birth.

I looked into her beautiful brown eyes and imagined a river of love passing between us as I shared with her the story of her birth, the story that would bond us through thick and thin, tween years and teen years, as mother and daughter. Emily opened her mouth to speak. This is great! I thought, anticipating her desire for details, imagining her wanting to hear the story again and again.

"Were you there?" was all she asked.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


It's a Wiggly World

View from a beach towel
Originally uploaded by marytsao.
We have been having the most gorgeous weather here lately. Today I took the kids to Oakland to see The Wiggles at the Paramount Theater, and the thermostat on the bank across the street read 78 degrees. The weather, combined with daylight savings, has catapulted us into spring. It's been wonderful. We've resumed our nightly apres-dinner walks and I've been waking up with sore calf muscles; a good sign for sure.

The kids and I have been keeping busy. On Saturday, Emily and I went to see Disney On Ice at the Cow Palace. I tried to explain to her that this was the place where I saw AC/DC and Ozzy Osbourne back in the day, but she didn't seem to care. What she did care about was the show she was watching and the performers, especially Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse. ("Mommy, what's that girl's name again?") She also was enthralled by the storyline, which was about The Incredibles on a trip to Disneyland. Pictures from our mother-daughter outing are here.

Yesterday we jammed through our chores and headed to the coast to enjoy the sunny day at San Gregorio State Beach. It was a little tricky getting down to the beach because it's still so early in the season, but the kids and I made it over the rocks and enjoyed several beautiful hours basking in the sun. I still can't get over how idyllic the experience was. As long as you go prepared (sunscreen, hats, towels, extra clothes, magazine, food, drinks -- all in a waterproof bag big enough to carry everything to leave hands free for holding), a warm, sunny day at the beach with kids is pretty damn cool. Pictures from the beach are here.

The Wiggles concert today was surreal for a number of reasons. Here I was once again going to a concert at the Paramount, but this time instead of seeing Tori Amos or James Brown or Elvis Costello, I was there to see four guys who sing about mashed bananas and dancing monkeys. And if you think the crowd at a rock concert is rowdy, you haven't been to a kids concert. It's chaos, pure and simple and many times unrestrained. I'll never forget the sight of one extremely pregnant mom running after her toddler, who was chasing Captain Feathersword down the aisle. There were several moments during the set when my thoughts turned to psychedelic drugs, except I'm not sure the show would have been a "good trip" or not. Pictures from The Wiggles are here.

After the show I asked Emily which show she had liked better, The Wiggles or Disney On Ice, and she replied, "Disney On Ice." So there. Both kids are excited about seeing the Diego Live show that Nick Jr. already is advertising here even though it won't be in our area until the fall.

Me? I would love to see Prince at the Orpheum in San Francisco, but I have a feeling that tickets will sell out quickly and be extraordinarily expensive through a broker. It's not a good sign that I can't even find information on how to get tickets online even though I saw an ad in the paper that he's playing... No wonder I'm at the Paramount to see The Wiggles! It's the only show with available tickets!

Oh, and the funniest thing I heard today was a dad (who reminded me of myself) talking to his completely uninterested toddler son, "Wow, look at this ceiling! This is called Art Deco!"

Sunday, March 11, 2007


Book Review: Super Mom Saves The World by Melanie Lynne Hauser

What do you get when you mix a mild-mannered divorced mom of two, a Swiffer mop, and a whole load of cleaning products that probably shouldn't be combined? An ordinary mom who passes out while trying to clean the floor and who wakes up the defender of her corner of the suburban world, a bona fide superhero for the minivan set, Super Mom.

I was first introduced to Melanie Lynne Hauser's heroine Super Mom in her first book Confessions of Super Mom, and I'm thrilled that Super Mom, aka Birdie Lee, is back in Melanie's new book Super Mom Saves The World. There's nothing I like better than a story that leaves you with both a hopeful feeling as well as with the desire to know more about the lives of its characters, and that is exactly how I would describe Confessions. Now that Super Mom Saves The World is in my life, I'm happy to know what is going to become of Birdie and her love interest Carl. Is the strain of trying to combine two households and three teenagers too much for their middle-aged love? Will Birdie dump Carl for a man who looks (and smells) a lot like Mr. Clean? Or will Birdie's ex husband, Dr. Dan, reappear and try to win back her heart? All three? None of the above? You'll have to get the book to find out because I'll never tell.

Like most successful sequels, you don't need to have read Confessions in order to enjoy Super Mom. Melanie is careful to weave in back story in a manner that is helpful and not disruptive to the reader's experience. But you'll probably want to read Confessions, if only to spend even more time in the company of Birdie Lee as she interacts with her kids who went from toddler to teenager in no time flat, as she works the checkout at the Marvel Food and Fine Beverages, and as she fights evil doers with the power of twenty thousand Swiffers.

Birdie Lee is the superhero for those of us who struggle to stay awake during PTA meetings, who sit in the sun for hours on the weekend trying to sell bake sale items, and who sometimes feel that if we stopped cleaning up, the world would simply fall apart. Climb in Birdie's minivan as she attempts to solve the Super Secret Super Duper Swiffer Mystery and in the process remember why it is that no mom is just ordinary and every mom is truly extraordinary.

As I promised, I'll send the first person who comments on this post an autographed copy of Super Mom Saves The World. Good luck!

Friday, March 09, 2007


Now if she only had a line of mom jeans...

Today the kids and I had a good music class that ended with a chat with another mom and her sweet little girl, who was very shy and cute around Thomas and Emily. Friendships were forged with stickers and giggles, and there was much running around and jumping. Not us, the kids. You know.

After class, Rosa came to watch the kids and I decided to go see the Vivienne Westwood exhibit at the de Young Museum. From the de Young site:

Vivienne Westwood is both iconoclast and global icon. In the 1970s, she electrified the world with the launch of punk fashion and went on to become one of the most inventive and influential designers of our time. Fashion to her became "a baby I picked up and never put down."

The show was amazing, truly spectacular. I was stunned at how familiar some of her lines were to me; I didn't realize who I actually was copying when I dressed like my punk and goth friends. Did you know that Vivienne Westwood invented the tube skirt? I probably should hate her since people with hips like mine have no business wearing tube skirts, but I'm going to let bygones be bygones. I never was truly cool enough to wear Westwood-inspired clothes, and I certainly am not cool enough now, but I nevertheless am in awe of her trendsetting genius and complete dedication to fashion.

My lack of a fashion background means that I can't adequately describe what was so amazing about the Vivenne Westwood exhibit, but I do know that I very much enjoyed it. If you go (it's here through June 10), definitely pay for the audio tour. I thought the information presented in it added much to the exhibit.

Oh, and besides her fashion baby, she also had a real baby (a couple, actually) and the one she had with Malcolm McLaren went on to found lingerie brand Agent Provocateur. Check out their sexy nursing bra! I might just have to get me one of those if I ever find myself lactating again.

Hope you all have a spectacular weekend planned! We've got a full weekend of Disney on Ice watching, school bus shopping, brunch hosting, and more. But check back here tomorrow or Sunday for a review of Melanie Lynne Hauser's new book Super Mom Saves The World. Melanie was kind enough to send me an autographed copy of her book and a box of neat-o Swiffer dusters. I'm going to give away the book to the first person who comments on my review, but I'm not giving away those dusters. Sorry, ladies, you're going to have to get your mom jeans down to Target and get some of your own.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


I think I'm turning into cheese, I think I'm turning into cheese, I really think so

My loot
Originally uploaded by marytsao.
Step 1. Wake up with the sun in your eyes; realize that it's a "beautiful day."

Step 2. Go to playground with Thomas while Emily is in preschool. Chat with other moms about dads who binge drink and make sexist remarks at PTA fundraisers. Be happy you are not married to that guy.

Step 3. Instead of getting upset, laugh when Thomas dumps an entire bag of goldfish crackers out onto a bench. Remind him to share his crackers with the other kids. Realize why you have never used or blogged about that sanitizing product that the Clorox company sent you: you could care less about hidden germs; you'd rather worry about problems you can see.

Step 4. Be happy you are not that mom when you realize she won't let her little girl eat any of Thomas's crackers because "they're not on a serving tray."

Step 5. Go to get Emily from preschool and try to wait quietly by the door while the teacher finishes reading a book to the kids. When Emily sees you and her face lights up, shake your head and hold your finger to your lips so that she'll remain quiet during the rest of reading time.

Step 6. Realize you've made your little girl cry.

Step 7. Feel like a shit head.

Step 8. While appologizing to Emily and making sure the incident won't lead her straight into therapy, ignore Thomas long enough for him to start playing with a pair of scissors.

Step 9. Finally get both kids out to the car without any more incidents of parental emotional abuse and/or neglect, and hit the highway for your fieldtrip to Cowgirl Creamery in Point Reyes.

Step 10. Enjoy the beautiful, sunny day.

Step 11. Reward yourself 10 mom points for listening to classical music in the car.

Step 12. Eventually decipher Thomas's whining to mean he wants you to change the music.

Step 13. Make it to Point Reyes and buy $40 worth of fat cheese, glorious cheese and other assorted cheese accompaniments at Cowgirl Creamery. When the salesclerk asks if you'll need a picnic knife, laugh and tell her you think you can make it until you get home.

Step 14. Drive home very fast.

Step 15. Eat much Mt. Tam triple cream cheese on sweet onion & creme fraiche sourdough flatbread topped with cranberry tangerine chutney. Remind yourself that tomorrow you will work out extra hard.

Step 16. Agonize about how to end your blog entry. Decide nobody really cares and most people are still wondering if they know the guy you mention in Step 2 or the mom you mention in Step 4.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


How far would you go for fromage?

Cowgirl Creamery
Originally uploaded by Thomas Hawk.
I want to take the kids on a fieldtrip tomorrow to the Cowgirl Creamery, but I'm not sure I want to drive one hour and 17 minutes to Point Reyes. Especially when there's a Cowgirl Creamery Cheese Shop in the Ferry Building and a fieldtrip into The City would certainly be easier. Decisions, decisions...

Today was a mellow day, as many days have been lately. In the morning I took the kids grocery shopping, which was fun. There weren't many people in the store at 8:30 so maneuvering the six-foot long train cart was relatively easy. The kids are well-behaved in stores. There was one small issue when we were in the checkout and Thomas grabbed the box of Teddy Grahams to put on the conveyor belt. Emily pouted because she wanted to put the box on the belt (she had been the one to take it off the shelf.) We solved the problem by first allowing Thomas to put it on the belt and then allowing Emily to take the box off the belt and put it on again. With the problem solved, we finished our shopping experience.

I wonder why I've been so calm lately when dealing with the kids. Maybe I'm finally getting the hang of this parenting thing. Maybe I'm more centered emotionally because I've quit drinking. Maybe the kids's behavior is less frustrating to me now that they're older and more independent. Maybe my own re-prioritizing to have more quality time with my kids is paying off. Whatever it is--one thing or a combination--it's working and I'm glad for it.

Wish me luck on my quest for fine fromage. It's possible I won't decide if we're going all the way to Marin or if we're only going as far as San Francisco until we get in the car and start our journey. The weather might be a factor, too. All I do know for sure is that no matter what, the kids and I will be eating cheese tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Starting at the very beginning

San Mateo County History Museum
Originally uploaded by marytsao.
Let's see. Life since my last blog entry: Three wineries, two art exhibits, two airports, one museum, one facial, one creme brulee, and one box lunch that Martha Stewart could have made. Not in that order.

Last Friday, one of the companies I'm working for this year flew me to southern California for lunch. Commuter flying between northern and southern California would certainly suck if I had to do it regularly, but it's quite fun if I only do it occasionally. I dressed up in my finest "working mom" clothes and managed to read almost an entire book while waiting in airports. Because I was only going for lunch, I forced myself to bring nothing but my purse. I felt quite free and special. While at SFO, I saw an exhibit about Audio Through The Ages.

This past weekend, I drove up to Sonoma with a friend and we spent the weekend being pampered along with other moms from my mothers club. I went wine tasting even though I tasted no wine, and I must say, it was quite difficult to resist imbibing in the nectar of the gods. Oh well. I made it and I appreciated the fact that I didn't need to pass out between wine tasting and dinner at the El Dorado Kitchen. Instead of napping, I went into downtown Sonoma and bought myself a present for my hard-earned sobriety, a ring made by San Francisco artist Amy Faust.

Yesterday, I re-decorated the living room for spring. Today, Mike said he liked it and it "looks nice."

Also today, the kids and I stumbled upon a pretty cool museum while enjoying a sunny day in Redwood City. The San Mateo County History Museum is housed in the restored old San Mateo County Courthouse building, and it has a lot of interesting exhibits about San Mateo County's past. It's really quite interesting. It took some creativity on my part to keep the kids engaged, but I was successful and I managed to learn some history of this suburban paradise in which I live.

On the second Friday of each month, the museum hosts a preschool storytime from 2 - 3 pm. This Friday (March 9, 2007) kids will learn about the life of Ohlone Native Americans and get to grind acorns with a mortar and pestle. Grind acorns with a mortar and pestle! I never got to do that when I was a kid!

Time now to enjoy my light, apres-dinner snack (Yes, I'm smirking as I write that) and watch Tivo'd Oprah.


Thursday, March 01, 2007


The sweetheart and the mommy

Snuggle time
Originally uploaded by marytsao.
I've been spending some time lately thinking about Emily and Thomas and about how best to nurture their creative sides. Or, if the best way to nurture their creativity is to step back and let nature take its course. To control or not to control: that is the question. With this and with most parenting issues.

If I was forced to pick a single focus for each kid, I would pick Art for Emily and Music for Thomas. She loves to draw, paint, cut, color, and glue. He loves to bang on drums and make rhythms.

But both of them have such imaginations for make-believe, as most children do. For years Emily has been using her hands as characters in spontaneous dramatic scenes, and now Thomas is picking up on this. This afternoon while we were enjoying our lunch of leftover chicken and rice, he put down his juice cup, made "people" with his two index fingers, and proceeded to entertain me and Emily with the following one-act play:

Finger One


Finger Two


Finger One


Finger Two


Finger One


Finger Two


Finger One


Finger Two


Finger One


Finger Two


Finger One


Finger Two


After a minute of this, he stopped, placed his hands flat on the table as if to signal the end of the action, then picked up his sippy cup and resumed drinking.

I thought it was interesting that I was given the opportunity to observe this piece of noonday theater because I'm currently reading Ellen Handler Spitz's book The Brightening Glance, and right here (right here!) on page 7 she writes:

...It is this exchange I am after: namely, the many splendored ways in which individual children come to experience their worlds imaginatively and aesthetically--an exchange that also, importantly, involves their hearts.

I know that raising children who are in touch with their creative sides (whatever that means and however it manifests itself) is high on my list of parenting priorities. What about you? What I'm not sure about yet is whether or not my participation is required; perhaps I can best participate by not discouraging rather than by actively encouraging. What do you think?

What does raising a creative child mean to you?