Friday, October 28, 2011

Ready to fall

My husband is coughing away on the couch, chicken soup is on the stove and I am looking up crock pot recipes. Partay! Although it's been in the 70's here lately, I feel like autumn has arrived at our front door, complete with pitch black darkness by 6:30 pm and a strong desire to drink hot chocolate. I bought a can of hot chocolate mix on Monday and the powder must be cannibalistic, as there was nothing left when I went to make some today.

While I am loving the Indian Summer that SF enjoys in September and October, there is a (not so) small part of me that is looking forward to coats, boots and tights. TIGHTS! Up until 9th grade, I went to Hebrew school and had to wear a skirt every day. This necessitated tights in every hue imaginable. I can still picture my purple benneton turtle neck, matching striped black, purple and chartreuse skirt, paired quite fetchingly with my purple tights. Benetton and Esprit were my go-to's. I spent all my babysitting money on clothes (some things never change).

I have some serious reading to do this weekend if I am going to finish Friday Night Lights by Tuesday's book club. I wonder if I could just spend the weekend watching the TV show as a Cliffs Notes version? Our big Halloween plans this weekend revolve around a playgroup baby's first birthday. We're going for a family-themed costume, assuming that the mister is able to kick his cough. If not, I'll have to rage it solo with the babe. I finally got around to trying on his costume yesterday and found that it's a wee bit too small. Mama fail. It still looks pretty rad, if a little skimpy.

Maybe if I get this tool and give Mr. Monk little spirals of apple, he'll stop leaving tiny teeth marks on all our apples. He seems to rethink the whole biting into an apple thing ten seconds into it when he realizes he's only got two workable teeth on the bottom. Ah, but there are four coming in on top right this minute, so very soon everything will be free game. Watching him bite into lemons and limes might just be the highlight of my week. Obviously, he hates the taste, but can't stop himself from going back in. A masochist, just like his mom.

Speaking of masochism, I need to go out and buy an absurd amount of candy for Monday night. Last year we had over $100 worth and still ran out by 9 pm! Madness, people. At least this year I can put le bebe to work helping me hand it out to the sugar-crazed kiddos.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Greener Grass

I spent the morning with an old friend who was visiting from NY and her two children. She recently had a second baby and was telling me about life in Brooklyn with two under three. It sounded hectic and hard yet very exciting. I felt relieved not to be dealing with subways and walk ups and still seriously jealous. When she left, I realized how much I miss NY and my family and friends. The dull ache has escalated to a searing pain. It must have something to do with the fact that it's been almost four months (!) since I've been there. That is a darn long time for someone who averages 6-8 trips per year. Why yes, I have considered looking into flight attendant work.

Of course, as I was waxing nostalgic on my time in NY, my friend looked wistful herself and noted how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful city. It is beautiful here. Over the past few months, I have really been enjoying our west coast life. Things are generally slower, calmer and overall easier here than they would be in Gotham. I appreciate that, although we live in a major city, our little neighborhood is as quaint as they come. I know the people at the park/grocery store/library hour and they know me. Notwithstanding the extremely high cost of living, San Francisco is a wonderful place to raise a child. A young child, that is. All hell starts to break loose when you consider the schools, but I can't even wrap my head around that now. In the meantime, I'll just appreciate our little impromptu beach trips at the end of October. Tony, our little water dog just needed a swim.

Present enjoyment aside, I still need my family, friends and frenetic NY energy fix. Immediately, if not sooner. Thanksgiving, I'm looking at you.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Nerd alert

I came across this site the other day, Charitii, and now I am hooked! I get to play crosswordy games AND donate water to those most in need? Double score. I've been feeling a tinge of the brain drain lately, so I appreciate any help I can get with a tune up.

I donated 1,120 ounces of water. Go forth and play!

play free donation word puzzles

Monday, October 24, 2011

He's perfect(ish) to me

Now that my baby is a one-year old big boy, I suppose I should stop calling him "my baby." But, do they ever really stop being our babies? He still seems so tiny to call him a child and I am really not feeling "toddler" just yet. So, I guess he'll just have to stay a baby for a bit longer.

It's been really interesting to see how differently people treat Mr. Monk once he turned a year. Or, rather, I should say, how people treat me and my parenting. Invariably, the second question out of a person's mouth after age is, "Has he started walking yet?" I have heard that question no less than 30 times in the past week. Whoa, people, simmer down. I'm not sure why all of the sudden people expect him to be walking just because he's a week older than he was last week when no one asked if he was walking. This question is usually posed as he's crawling around the playground. If he were walking, you would see him walking, no? Every time, people then tell me about their son/daughter who didn't walk until he or she was 15-20 months. I don't really care about when he hits these milestones, as I know it doesn't really matter, but I'm not sure why anyone else does.

Speaking of other people caring and oversharing, some woman came up to me in the playground today as my mini was enjoying his few minutes of bliss in the spinning bucket seat. I was standing over him, pushing him round and round when an older lady ambled over and remarked, "Isn't he a little young for that kind of activity?" Aren't you a little old for this kind of activity is what I wanted to respond. Instead I just said that he really seems to love it. And, I'm right here watching my child, thank you very much, ma'am.

Later in the day, on one of our daily visits to Whole Foods (I wish I were kidding), Mr. Monk was again enjoying himself. This time, his revelry involved a bagel and a relatively loud rendition of his favorite song, "dadadada daddyyyyyy." As we were walking down the baby products aisle, an older woman got all up in his stroller and said, "Inside voice, please!" I had already been trying to tell him to be quiet in the store, but I wasn't exactly appreciative of this random busybody's reenforcement. He's 1, lady, give him a break! And, you have NO IDEA WHAT SCREAMING SOUNDS LIKE IF YOU THOUGHT THIS WAS BAD!

My beautiful, loud, manic crawling, bucket seat spinning enthusiast had himself a birthday party full of hootin' and hollerin' and we have the pictures to prove it!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Keep it simple, Stupid


So, once in a while I will get it into my head that I am a super creative, crafty person. Those times include my wedding and my son's first birthday party, which is TOMORROW. Hello. Even though I wish I were one of those people who could whip out a garland and a souffle in 20 minutes, I'm more of an agonize over choosing the right one, make a million mistakes along the way, stress for twice as long as it takes me to make something wondering why I didn't just buy it, enjoy the fruits of my labor nonetheless kind of person. For my wedding I went pretty crazy coming up with all these ridiculous details that no one but my mother and my mother-in-law noticed.

Can I just tell you that I printed up pictures of EVERY. SINGLE. GUEST. and put them into table-coordinated picture cubes on the rehearsal dinner tables. Just thinking about that project gives me hives. It took months getting all the pictures of family members we hardly knew, our parents' neighbors, etc. My inspiration was the slideshow that you see at every wedding. I always feel honored when I'm included and a little sad when I'm not (self-centered much?) I thought it would be awesome if all the guests felt special and included. That night, people loved, raved, freaked over the cubes and most guests took photos as a souvenir. Now, if I asked 99% of our invitees about those sweet little picture cubes that gave me insomnia, I guarantee you they wouldn't have a clue what I was talking about. Nor should they, unless they are stalkers like me who remember bizarre minutiae about every wedding ever attended (can I unload that brain power please and refuel).

Yes, yes, the details should be for you not for others because no one ever cares as much as you do about your event. At least I am damn sure that Mr. Monk is not going to remember whatever happens tomorrow. But, I do kind of love trying to be crafty/thematic in a masochistic sort of way. I tend to go a little big whenever I host dinner parties, playgroup, book club, exterminators, though I've been reigning it in since having le bebe. My husband kept pleading with me to "keep it simple" for the party. And, I have, for the most part. A chocolate owl lollipop and an owl pinata filled with cheerios (and other assorted baby crack) never hurt anyone.

Time to party with my little!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Secrets and lies

I slept with someone else. And I'm in love with him.

My sister and I were in a Japanese restaurant on the Upper West Side, sitting about 8 inches from two men, one of whom was having the worst night ever. I spent the next hour willing myself not to look over at this poor couple. But, even though I wasn't looking at them and carried on a full conversation with my sister about nothing and everything (I miss living near my sister), I still could hear almost everything they were saying to each other. And it was seriously sad.

I've always been a major eavesdroppper. I don't do it in a malicious way, but sometimes I can't help it. I feel like Sookie the way I'm always capturing bits and pieces of other people's convos. I'll constantly turn to Mr. Schneed in amazement, "did you hear that?!" Every single time he'll respond with "what? I wasn't paying attention. " He NEVER pays attention to other people. Which is good? Is there something wrong with me that I like to listen to what others are saying?

I'm a nosy person. It started when I was a kid-I used to look in people's medicine cabinets every time I went to the bathroom in someone else's home (I've long since abandoned this terrible habit after finding some creepy things that could not be erased from memory). Once, during an after school program, I somehow managed to get stuck in one of my bathroom expeditions and had to call for help. When the hostess came in to relieve me, she saw what I'd been up to and yelled at me, "don't be such a yenta!" I prefer to think of myself as a spy. Perhaps I missed my calling.

Speaking of spies, I just started watching this new Showtime show, Homeland. The first couple of episodes were riveting. It's an interesting take on terrorism and US foreign policy. Just to Showtime it up, there are a lot of boob shots. Kind of too many.

Lately, people have been telling me all sorts of secrets that have a whole lot more meaning than they did when I was seven and found out that my friend Hannah had peed herself and pretended she spilled her apple juice. Maybe I just need to stop listening to the negativity for a bit. Why don't people ever share good news about themselves or others? I know that people like to commiserate but, once in a while, it would be nice to hear some good, old-fashioned bragging.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

How is it possible?

  • That I sang along, in the car at full volume, to songs by the Indigo Girls, Randy Newman and Colby Caillat? I am embarrassed for myself. Damn you, Coffee House channel.
  • That I ate no less than four cupcakes today. They were minis. But still.
  • That I got lost in Target today for a good ten minutes. Fluorescent lighting confuses me.
  • That almost every video we take of Mr. Monk these days features at least one fall. Better get the band aids ready.
  • That right when I start having second thoughts about ending my career as a milk supplier, the goods up and all but disappear on their own. The body works in (not so) mysterious ways.
  • That doing one tiny something nice for someone else is so much more thrilling than doing nearly anything for myself.
  • That despite spending at least an hour every day cleaning my house, the floor still looks (and feels) crunchy. Perhaps I should just stop going barefoot.
  • That my 96-year-old grandmother went to her stretch and flex class today, but thinks she might be a little too tired for her silver sneakers class tomorrow. Maybe next week, Gramma!
  • That one year ago today I gave birth to a beautiful, curious, eager, sweet, innovative, happy, hilarious and impossibly strong little monkey. More to come when I can fully process this information.
  • That my big boy had a virtual birthday party with both of his grammas, one of his aunts and his baby cousin who all live 3,000 miles away. Technology is supremely awesome.

Monday, October 17, 2011


I found this article to be incredibly moving, sad and beautiful. How lucky we are to enjoy the present and the hope of a future.

Notes From a Dragon Mom

Alexandra Huddleston for The New York Times

Emily Rapp and her son, Ronan, who has Tay-Sachs disease.

How do you parent without a future, knowing that you will lose your child, bit by bit?

Friday, October 14, 2011


Sometimes my dog is just about the sweetest little beast. All he really wants in life is cheese and a belly rub. The same could be said of many of my friends. He is so gentle with Mr. Monk, who is not so gentle in return (we're working on the tail grabbing).

This is probably my favorite pic ever of our Tony pony, taken a couple of years back in Tahoe. That boy LOVES to snow dive. Just seeing it makes me excited for winter, though the 80 degree temps right now are pretty, pretty, pretty good. We're going swimming this afternoon! Hello, summer in SF.

Although our pup was not adopted (blame my husband and his insistence on a Portie), I am completely in awe of the work done by the ASPCA. I am hoping Mr. Monk wants to volunteer there with me someday. For the hell of it, just for the yell I get, I made a small donation this evening to the SFSPCA and learned that "[my] support will help save and protect the thousands of injured and homeless animals we care for every year." You can help too!

Enjoy the weekend, folks!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Something's Gotta Give

This morning I took Mr. Monk for a blood test to celebrate his impending first birthday. We moms know how to party! Apparently, the doctor needs some stats so along came the needle. I was expecting some serious drama based on the little's recent theatrics (he's gone shrieking!) but, to my complete surprise, he did not make a peep! He stared at the nurse as she withdrew the blood with utter fascination. That boy filled up three vials and never even blinked. I'm thinking he's definitely going to be a doctor. Or a vampire.

As for his recent discovery that he can shatter glass with his voice, well, that's causing all sorts of reactions. We've tried the ignore it and pretend it's not happening response. That led to the "you're hurting our ears so please stop screaming" pleading. Then we went the screaming back route. Kidding. Sort of. This lovely phase started a few days ago. We're expecting it to pass in a few years.

At least when he's not screaming, he's doing lots of this:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

That's How I Roll

She stole my workout outfit

You know how people always say that the best thing to do when you're tired is to exercise? Well, I never believed them either. Why would I want to go and make myself more exhausted by working out? But, then I had a baby and was more tired than I ever knew I could be. So tired that I regularly went into the shower with my glasses on. So tired that I had the vocabulary of a 12 year old. So tired that I once fell asleep while pumping. Once. But, after I got the OK from my doctor, I dragged my tired (and fat) ass to the gym. Not just any gym, a mom-friendly gym with day care. Nothing motivates you to work harder like hearing your baby screaming in the back room and knowing you don't have to go and get him. I went with some of the other moms from my amazing playgroup (still going strong 10 months later!) and we encouraged each other. The other ladies in the class were so impressed that we could tell our little ones apart based on their cries. I still can hear that wail when I close my eyes, even though Mr. Monk hasn't cried like that in months.

I became obsessed with spin class. I loved the sense of camaraderie in the class--we were all going over that hill together. I also really appreciated the constant support and compliments the teachers gave us--I was doing a good job, wasn't I? At least I knew how to ride a bike! During those first few months of motherhood, I was so happy to not have to think at all for 45 minutes. No mouth to feed, no diaper to change and no gigantic laundry pile to stare at me expectantly. I just needed to push and pull my legs through the cycle, one after the other. The repetition was addictive. Plus, some of the teachers played some kick-ass music that got us all feeling like we were dancing on our bikes. I've never loved Rihanna or Michael Jackson more. It was my time.

I stopped going over the summer after we went away one month and then again the next. My husband decided that I had to do the insanity workout program with him because he knew he'd never do it by himself. While we didn't totally finish it, we gave it a good run. Between four weddings and lots o' travel, it was impossible to keep up with a 6 day a week workout. Too much life to live. I still do the insanity workouts every few days, but my desire to exercise has all but evaporated. Until today.

I went back to spin and it was like a homecoming. All those endorphins. All that pop music. I realized that there is something to working out around others and not just staring at a man screaming at you through your laptop. It somehow just feels more effective when others can see you sweat. And? Not even remotely tired now at 11 pm. Not sure that's such a good thing.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


I think Mr. Monk and I need to have a little discussion about needs versus wants. I am of the opinion that fondling/tasting any manner of the following falls under the latter category while, judging by the intensity of his grunting and pointing, he clearly believes they fall within the former:

remote controls (and not the fake Elmo one. C'mon now.)
toilet paper
glass jars
power cords
car tires
Tony's tongue, paws, teeth, tail
nail clippers
dust piles
dog food
dirty diapers
brand-new silk shirts

He runs this town.

Slip, slide, swoop

Some nights I look over at my husband (legitimately) working away on his laptop for hours and then down at my own mac-filled lap and can't help but laugh. When did this happen? I suppose when you don't work in an office staring at a computer for 8 hours a day you still crave all the information that is out there, just a few clickety clacks away. Lately, I find myself opening my computer as soon as Mr. Monk falls asleep and only closing it a few minutes before I do. I wish I had a porch swing. If I did maybe my computer and the internets would hold less appeal. Or maybe that would mean that I'd be baking more and listening to crickets. I do love to bake. And, I'm getting better at it. Here are three recent desserts I made. They tasted pretty tasty.

This whole baby turning toddler thing is throwing me. He can understand things, people. The cursing? It has got to stop. Damn, there goes my definite potty mouth. While it's cute the first time a kid says "shit," it probably veers on the trashy by the thirtieth. Man, I'm going to miss living in our adults-only conversations. But I do look forward to hearing some of the ridiculous things that are going on in his little towhead. Something tells me there will be lots of laughing in our future.

Lo, the time has come for a photography class. We have this fancypants camera that we just pretend is a point and shoot. What's the point of all those options if you're never going to use them? Of course, neither Mr. Schneed nor I know what any of the symbols mean, let alone how to employ them properly. The greatest thing about discovering the blog world is seeing all these amazing photographers. I bet they know how to change the aperture settings. That's my new goal. That and more yoga. Or, even some yoga.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Food fights

Lately I feel like I am fighting three battles a day. Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. It's as though Mr. Monk has a short window in which he'll deign to open his mouth and I need to shovel as much food in as possible before the time is up. My heart starts racing and I stress over each bite knowing it could be his last. No matter what he's eating, or how much he seems to like it, he knows when he is done and he is D.O.N.E. Lately, he's learned to take off his bib when he's finished, shake his head and say "noooooooo." While all of this is helpful and seriously cute, it's a little painful when it comes two bites into a meal.

Granted, I know he's likely eating enough between the continuous consumption of milk (still coming from my boobies for only the next 8 days. Eek!) and cheddar bunnies (holy hell, we just discovered these--not sure who eats more, him or me). I still want to him to develop healthy eating habits and also maybe not think that he'll always get five different options for every meal. Since keeping him happy and alive is my primary job these days, I've become quite the accommodating chef/waitress: You don't like these peas, babe? How about some mac & cheese? No, ok, well what about some yogurt? Ok, no on the yogurt, but perhaps you'd like some chicken and rice? I've eaten more leftover applesauce in the past few months than in my whole life combined.

The only thing I know for sure that he wants is whatever I'm eating. Even if it's basically the same meal he's having, somehow he just knows it tastes better from my dish and my spoon. And, he loves to serve himself, which really means serving my legs, the floor and our getting-fatter-by-the-day dog heaping spoonfuls. To my horror, I find myself eating the half-chewed pieces of cracker, bagel, whatevs that he puts in my hand at random points during the day. I remember seeing moms do this before and being completely grossed out. But, on some level it seems less disgusting to just eat it than to carry it around. How did this happen?

I'm almost ashamed to admit that I ate this abc pear when he was done with it:

As the wee one gets less and less wee, he's less and less interested in baby food. We have a few items just toiling away in our cabinets and I'm thinking someone else might be able to make better use of them than our compost bin.

If you're in the Bay Area and have any extra food items, consider donating them:

St. Anthony's Foundation

Family House, Inc.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Increase The Odds

Yesterday, after getting my massage, my husband met me and we snuck off to a movie. In the middle of the day! Can you imagine anything more decadent?

A few weeks ago I was at a dinner party with a bunch of mommy friends and one about-to-be-a-mommy friend. The preggo lady asked if any of us had any advice for her in her last few weeks with an inside baby. We all replied in unison, "Movies! Go see movies!" I used to love going to the movies and it seems to be the one thing that I can't make time for anymore. It doesn't quite seem special enough an outing to warrant a babysitter or playing my mental health time card with the husband. Anyhoo, yesterday we managed to pull off a matinee showing of 50/50 and I was 100% thrilled. Until the movie started, that is.

While it was thoroughly engaging and often funny (Anna Kendrick's comedic timing amazes), it was also a raw, sad film. Watching a young man deal with a potentially terminal cancer diagnosis was painful, especially when a family friend is currently in the very same position. My father died a viscous death from liver cancer nine years ago and I suddenly felt a fresh wave of grief. Knowing how the movie ends (spoiler alert: it's a true story based on the screenwriter's life) certainly kept me from losing it completely. I feel like I've been getting far too many life is precious reminders lately. Must make time for things I enjoy, like going to movies. Even the sad ones.

Fuck cancer. Here are three of the easiest ways I can think of to do just that:

Click It:

Donate It:

Prevent It:

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Frankie Says Relax

After spending the better part of an hour this morning mopping my floor three separate times (spilled oatmeal, spilled applesauce and spilled milk), I decided it was high time I used the spa gift certificate I got for mother's day. Calgon, take me away. I believe in the power of a stranger's hands on my back to make the world a better place. Angela, masseuse lady, you were pure magic today. Thank you for giving my brain an hour off this afternoon and for ignoring the fact that I may or may not have farted in my sleep.

I used to think that a massage was like pizza, even when it's bad, it's good. Then I learned that when you're naked and lying on a table, things could definitely get a little weird. Here are my top 5 massage mishaps:

1. In the middle of my last massage a few months ago, I started to feel a serious shaking. About 15 seconds in, I just knew we were in the middle of an earthquake (this is northern California...). I oh-so-casually asked the masseuse if she noticed the ground moving. She laughed and told me that it was just the laundry next door. Apparently, I had the best room in the house-if you like random vibrations in the middle of your massage.

2. While getting a massage once up in Tahoe, the masseuse told me that "regular massage can really help with the scoliosis." Say what? This woman gave me a wicked case of hypochondria until my next doctor's visit confirmed I did not, in fact, have scoliosis.

3. At a nail salon in NYC, this tiny Asian manicurist was no match for my rock hard shoulders. After about a minute of attempting to massage me, she had to sub out. Another woman took over for her, but not before she told me that I was the most tense person she had ever touched. I win!

4. This one masseur at a nice spa in NYC repeatedly massaged down my chest, dangerously close to my lady humps. I was so stunned by it that I didn't say anything. In retrospect, I wish I had complained so that he would know it was creepy if he wasn't doing it on purpose to be creepy. And, if he was being skeezy, I wish I gotten his ass fired.

5. Last October, the week of my due date, I used a gift certificate to a prenatal massage trying to coax the baby out (fat chance). The masseuse was super chatty and started telling me about her love life. I heard all the deets, including how she and her new man haven't been as careful as they should be and why she would definitely need to get an abortion if she ends up pregnant. Mind you, I'm lying there on my side like a beached whale wondering why the eff this woman was getting waaaaaay too up close and personal. Again, I probably should have said something when I checked out but I needed to get my bloated, oiled self home or to a hospital.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Think different

Thank you, Steve Jobs, for giving me the life that I know and love. About two months after I started dating my husband, he gave me a used macbook because it had a built-in camera. It turned out to be the most important present I ever received. So began our furious year+ of video dating. Without the ichat feature, I doubt our relationship would have continued to thrive despite the entire span of the US between us. We even thanked Mr. Jobs in our wedding vows!

Living in San Francisco and being married to a tech geek/Apple zealot who works in the industry, it's hard to miss the amazing impact that this company has had in our lives. I was on the street when I got a text from my husband telling me about his passing and every person in sight was also looking down on his or her iphone and frowning. Today was a grave reminder to live each day as if it were your last. Your family, your friends, your health, these are the things that matter. All else is fleeting.

As I begin to think about what I can and should do with my life, these words leave an indelible mark:

"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle."

– Steve Jobs, Stanford commencement speech 2005

Where would you want to wake up?

Thanks to Design Mom, I came across this awesome video of 50 New Yorkers answering the question "where would they want to wake up tomorrow?"

I found it so poignant and clever. If I could wake up anywhere in the world tomorrow, I'd wake up on my wedding day in New Orleans, LA. To be surrounded again by all our friends and family for such a celebratory, raucous, blissful and altogether wonderful event would be perfect. I think I'd enjoy it even more the second time around, if that's possible. I know my special date, Mr. Monk, would L-O-V-E the beignets!

Weddings are really the only time in your life where you get to see your mom's cousin talking to your fiance's best friend from elementary school and everyone couldn't be happier. I wish we could somehow manage to get all those people in the same room again (and not be at a funeral).

I'm so glad to have found this video as I am now awash with all these feel good memories. Are you?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Book It Real Good

When I was a kid, I used to love going to the library. I've always been a big reader and I was so excited by the existence of a whole building devoted to books. Why yes, I was a total nerd. I borrowed books all the time and would challenge myself to see how quickly I could finish them. My parents weren't that strict about television and I distinctly remember heading off to read most nights once I'd had my fill of my favorite shows, Family Ties, Facts of Life, The Cosby Show and...I watched a lot of TV, but I read even more. Judy Blume was my therapist. She taught me how to wrap my head around a best friend breakup, my parents' divorce and the idea of sex (I still blush thinking about "Forever.")

Now that I have a kindle, I hardly ever borrow books from the library-though maybe I should use the Google to see if there is a digital loaner program? There is! Best. Day. Ever.

I'm trying to cultivate a love of reading in Mr. Monk. Mostly, he just finds books to be the perfect size for throwing and chewing. One of our favorite activities is the storytime at the local library. We went this morning and the babe loves hearing the rhymes and playing with all the books. He tends to pick up the same ones that we read over and over at home, so I know something is getting through (even if it's just the color of the cover).

These storytelling playgroups are divided by age groups and FREE! It's so fun to see all the different babies with their mamas, nannies, grammas, cousins, and the occasional confused older teenage brother. Check out your local library for the kids' schedule.

Girl power!

First-Place Sweep by American Girls at First Google Science Fair

AWARDS From left, Shree Bose, Naomi Shah and Lauren Hodge took first prize in their age groups out of 15 finalists at the Google Science Fair.


Published: July 18, 2011
A 17-year-old from Fort Worth won the $50,000 grand prize at Google’s science fair last week.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Upping the ROI on baby clothes

I think it's pretty safe to say that spending a lot of money on baby clothes is not a sound investment. Even under the best of circumstances, when the item manages to escape in one piece from the barrage of food, dirt, teeth, prying fingers and various other indignities heaped upon it by a curious child, it is only going to last for a preset period of time. It says it right on the label! Can you imagine buying clothes for yourself if you knew that they wouldn't fit after three months? Sadly, that probably is the case with some of my purchases in recent months. Note to self--do not go shopping after completing insanity workouts and then going awol on the program. Moving on.

So, even though baby clothes aren't financially sound, I can't help wanting my kid to look super fly. The majority of the clothes that Mr. Monk wore for the first year of his life were gifts. I've only recently started doing any shopping. My primary rule is that I can't spend more on a cardigan for him than I'd spend for myself. Ok, maybe that isn't the best barometer, but I did notice quite a few baby sweaters costing close to $100. This morning I pulled out a recent purchase for the (not so) wee one and was utterly confused to find him looking like Mr. Hulk in his new green henley. We had ourselves a situation. Now, my kid is decidedly unchubby so I was totally confused as to why this shirt wouldn't fit when I only bought things in the 12-18 months size. Could it run that small? When I checked the inside label, I saw that it was only 6-12 and must have been mismarked on the price tag. Grrr. Having washed it pre-wear, I couldn't return it. And that, my friends, is what I call a waste.

The one comfort I have is knowing that all of these clothes have a definite second life with my nephew. He may be 3,000 miles away in New York and 6 months younger, but he'll be rocking some of Mr. Monk's Cali gear for as long as he'll tolerate it. Pretty sweet that my sister never has to do any shopping, eh? Straight into the box goes the new green shirt, post-breakfast trouncing of oatmeal, beet juice and yogurt.

If you're looking for a way to reincarnate your kids' clothing, check out Loved Twice. This organization specifically collects newborn-one year clothes for itty bitty babies in need. Donating your items helps new mamas feel good and their babies look good. There is nothing more important than keeping a baby safe, fed and clothed. While based in northern California, Loved Twice works with agencies all over the US to that kids in other states can enjoy your most cherished (and mistaken) purchases. The site also has its own buy one, give one program. Time to clean out that closet...

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Off to the festy

This afternoon my little family and I are headed out to meet some friends at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival in Golden Gate Park. This is my fourth year attending the three-day music festival featuring bluegrass musicians and many, many others (hence the name). Years ago, I spent some time as the girlfriend of bluegrass-obsessed guitarist. When he formed an amateur band, I became the number one groupie (of two), so I'll always have a fondness for the twangy sounds of the banjo and mandolin.

2011 marks the 10th year of the festival and it only seems to be getting bigger and better. People, it's FREE!! As in, no need to pay anything at all to see amazingly talented musicians play outside in a spectacular venue all for the sake of pure fun. I can honestly think of no better way to enjoy the day. I'm most looking forward to seeing Gomez and Emylou Harris-too bad they are playing at the same time on stages across the park. Alas.

The festival was started by an investment banking billionaire as a "gift to the city." There's today's good! I wonder how I can get on the guy's Christmas list.

Getting ready for his audition with Mumford & Sons

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Mrs. Schneed Finds The Good!

At Thursday night's Rosh Hashannah dinner with good friends, the hostess asked us each to reflect on how we want to better ourselves or the world in the coming year. The ages at the party ranged from Mr. Monk (almost one!) to mid forties, with a good number of four- and five-year-olds mixed in there. As the rounds of "cleaning my room" and "listening to Mommy" were heard, I started to wonder how easily I could enhance the world or myself. Shouldn't I be already be striving to do that every day in some way? How else could I teach my son to value life if I wasn't actively trying to improve it? Maybe it was the sense of community and love in that room, maybe it was the wine, but I had an epiphany that I want to share with y'all. This is it! This blog is going to be part of my betterment project. Instead of just babbling on about how cute my baby is (quite) and the latest weather in SF (gorgeous), I will do that AND write about at least one thing a day that you can do/see/make/experience that will either improve your life or the life of those around you.

From now on I am dedicating some space in every blog's stream of consciousness ramblings to finding the good.

I figured it might be best to start with the familiar. I've been doing a lot of shopping lately (must stop), so why not combine the impetus to do good with the desire to look good. Here are three retail companies that really try to make the world a better place:

TOMS--I just recently bought my first pair of TOMS (and I call myself a San Franciscan...). The company was founded on such a simple concept--for every pair of shoes purchased, a pair will be donated to a child in need. Just think of what could be accomplished if more entrepreneurs thought this way. Plus, the shoes are darn cute and comfortable. My husband looks all hipster in his grey ones. Even better, tiny Toms!

Warby Parker--So, my eyeglasses do not get a lot of time out in the sun. I wear them exclusively at night and in my house. Never liking myself in glasses, I always think I should buy a cool pair and find the right look to give my eyes a break from contacts. Thanks to Kathy at Foodebia, I learned about this cool, quirky eyeglass shop that a) offers attractive rx glasses for less than $100! and b) partners with a non profits to provide one pair of glasses to someone in need for every pair sold. Win win! I'm excited to get myself some once my shopping hiatus is over. In the meantime, I may just have to test a few out through their smooth home try-on program.

Baby Eggi
--These baby/kiddo clothes are stylish, soft and sophisticated. Buying the adorable threads for your adorable ones is totally and completely justified by knowing that 20% of the net proceeds go to a partnering charity benefiting children and families. The company was started by two sister moms and an LA tattoo artist to the stars designs the artwork featured on their tees. Coolio. Best of all, some of my favorite pieces were in the sale section.