Secret Lives of 4-Year-Olds (& Friday links)

COMMENTS: 7

Secret Life of 4 year olds

This past winter, the UK’s Channel 4 aired a program called “The Secret Lives of 4-Year-olds,” where-in these little tots with adorable (to my American sensibility) British accents are filmed going about making friends and negotiating their day in a nursery school. Here’s the full episode, but perhaps one of the funniest moment is this phone call Jessica makes while playing mom. “Stop ringing me Richard. You’re not the dad.” Kids are such sponges!

This is of course of particular interest to me now that we have a 4-year-old (a wildly energetic, wonderfully sweet one). As he gets older, there are more and more activities for him that don’t require parental participation. He started the mini-program with Davis Swim Team and walked over to meet the coach and the other kids all by himself. So all glimpses into those worlds—like the preschool classroom—are fascinating.

Yesterday was actually his first day back at school—his last year before kindergarten; he’s one of the big kids there now. And I took him to a little social there they day before. I spotted a list of names on the wall, his included, and beside each was something he or she worries about followed by a possible way to “fix” it should the fear be realized. I took a picture, because it’s just so wonderful. There’s so much personality in each one. (And poor Sawyer.)

I’ll but transcribe it and change the names except Hudson’s.

Mike—worried that his paper heart will rip (art project) / Fix: see-through tape

Kalen—worried about his Captain America book ripping / Fix: read my ant-man book!

Hudson—my doggy dying / Fix: get a new doggy! 

Jake—monsters eating people!! / Fix: shoot the monster

Eli—that my shoes are going to rip / Fix: get someone to sew them

Candice—that my doggy’s hair would fall off / Fix: tell my mommy.

Shayne—nothing! 

Here are some other items of note… 

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Bitte (& Friday Links)

COMMENTS: 29

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We’re wrapping up our week in Hawaii (so soon!) and I have to send a hearty thank you to everyone who shared recommendations for what to see and do! I’ve been posting photos to Instagram.

In the meantime, I am excited to share that my friend Maia successfully met her funding goals for her new online children’s shop: Bittesustainable classics for modern kidswent live Wednesday! I was honored to be interviewed for the Bitte blog and to share some of my picks. (Bonus: these beautiful photos of me and my kids by Michelle Drewes that I’ll treasure forever.)

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I hope you’ll check it out! (Update: Maia is offering 10% off my picks sitewide through the end of September with the code HITHERTHITHER10.)

Some other items of note…

Hudson started snorkeling on this trip (!) and he’s so enthusiastic—it’s awesome. We got him this “dry” snorkel and it’s works so well. I highly recommend it for beginners or anyone who has trouble purging her snorkel.

Such a great question. As usual, Rachael puts it so well.

Vacation reveals how hard it is to stop looking at my phone—especially because it’s now my camera, my alarm clock, my eBook, my roadmap… so this made me laugh.

Back-to-school needs that money can’t buy.

How do you get motivated to get sh*t done?

Recently re-read this Davis Sedaris piece on what wearing a pedometer can do to you. So good.

Really enjoy the “How do you make a living?” series. Reminds me of why I wanted to start The Work We Do.

I also contributed a short write-up to a local Sacramento site, City Scout Magazine, about the opening of a new coffee shop in Davis. (The opening party was overflowing with cameras… I got caught on my phone.) I’ll be contributing a guide to Davis, soon.

Finally, what cities would you like to see featured soon in the 5 Things series? (And any other requests are, of course, always welcome!)

Have a great weekend!

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[Photos by Michelle Drewes for Bitte]

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How to Pick a Preschool

COMMENTS: 11

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When it came time to enroll Hudson in preschool, I felt like I was being introduced to a whole new set of vocabulary: “Child-centered, play-based, Montessori, Reggio Emilia… ”  There are a lot of different approaches to childhood education, and it can be really confusing. How much weight do give these considerations against mundane (but really important) things like cost, hours, and location?

Hudson will be entering his third year of preschool this fall, so I went on a tour of a Childtime school in Sacramento—an example of a Reggio Emilia-based program—and talked the center’s director in order to brush up on the factors that go into choosing a preschool.

First, the philosophies… 

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Skyler at 18 Months

COMMENTS: 21

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It’s hard for me to stop looking at Skyler. To me, she’s completely captivating. She’s so expressive and beautiful, and there’s so much personality packed into that sweet little body.

She happy. She’s feisty. She’s sweet. She’s curious and observant… She’s so many wonderful things. Sometimes I still can’t believe she’s here. There’s this incredible—very blonde—little person toddling around our kitchen: where did she come from?

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Lunchbox: Avocado & Egg Rollup

COMMENTS: 12

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We’re always on the lookout for more creative ways to make the kids’ lunchboxes healthy—while still appealing to them. So much gets rejected, and it’s completely baffling. Getting them to eat protein can be particularly challenging, yet it’s so important for helping them grow and giving them the energy they need to stay focused.

Once again, I turned to eggs.

The idea for this came from a favorite Indian lunch: I used to order Kati rolls—kebab or other fillings wrapped in paratha bread—all the time in New York. My favorite would be filled with paneer cheese, onions, and spices, and I’d always choose the option of adding an egg for extra protein. The egg would almost blend into the paratha, as if part of the wrap—it was just a thin layer cooked onto the bread.

Making paratha at home is definitely possible, but it’s a step that’s unlikely to make it into our schoolday-prep routine. Here’s a faster alternative…
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Four Years Old

COMMENTS: 32

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I know that every parent says this about their child, but Hudson is truly a special kid.

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Like every preschooler, he has his moments that drive you crazy. He has a inexplicable need to keep his body in motion—even in sleep he tosses and turns. And he sometimes chooses the most random things about which to be stubborn. But not a day goes by when he doesn’t delight us with some insight, some glimpse into how he’s coming to understand the world… some sweet gesture of love towards me, or Aron, his sister—or even (or rather, of course) the dog. “I’m a lovey boy, right mama?”

Yes, Hudson, you really are.

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Thinking About: A family gap year?

COMMENTS: 50

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Many of you are likely familiar with blogger Courtney Adamo already—from her work on the expat-based parenting blog, Babyccino, or from her Instagram account that features “the most stylish” family in Britain, or from one of her many appearances around the web. I’ve found her travels with kids to be very inspirational—most notably it was she who led us to our apartment rental in Positano last summer.

So it was with great interest that I read the article Courtney wrote recently for The Telegraph‘s Lifestyle section: “We’re all going on a family gap year.” There, she describes her plan for her family of six (kids aged two to nine) to put jobs and traditional schooling on hold (in favor of check-ins and homeschooling) for a year of travel, and how it connects to a particular memory from her childhood:

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Scenes from our 4th of July

COMMENTS: 9

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Hope those of you who stood to advantage from a three-day-weekend had a great one! The 4th of July has always been a favorite holiday of mine because it, like many good birthday parties, tends to include friends and family and good food—and it’s in the summer!

But I especially enjoy our Davis celebrations of late: the day begins with a very Americana kiddie parade (this was our second year) and some bike races that leave you with that “I love this little town”-feeling; and then we cool off in the pool with friends before walking over to community park to catch the fireworks.

Our day this year had some unexpected twists, but overall was a great one. Here are some photos…

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Best advice for new dads

COMMENTS: 16

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I’m always a bit surprised when I see companies and advertisements speaking only to mothers about parenting.

Everywhere I turn, I see dads wearing their babies or strollin’ them around town, coaching their kids at little league and running beside them in mini-triathalons.  They’re kneeling down to fix their daughters’ braids, reaching up to help them reach the highest rung of a ladder, and riding their sons to school in trailers and bike seats. They’re up in the middle of the night, rocking newborns to sleep, and they’re changing wet mattresses in the middle of the night after sleep-walking limp preschoolers to the toilet.

And these are not super-dads—well, not necessarily. They’re just dads. And there’s not an armchair-one in the bunch.

So I asked some of my favorite dads to share:

Here are their top tips (and top gear picks) for those new to the parenting role…

This post is sponsored by TargetFor more baby inspiration, find us on Facebook and Pinterest.

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Thinking About: Wife Bonuses & Two-Income Households

COMMENTS: 48

KellyRutherford

Did you happen to read Wednesday Martin’s op-ed, “Poor Little Rich Women,” in the New York Times last month? In it, the author writes about the practice of “wife bonuses”:

“A wife bonus, I was told, might be hammered out in a pre-nup or post-nup, and distributed on the basis of not only how well her husband’s fund had done but her own performance—how well she managed the home budget, whether the kids got into a ‘good’ school—the same way their husbands were rewarded at investment banks. In turn these bonuses were a ticket to a modicum of financial independence and participation in a social sphere where you don’t just go to lunch, you buy a $10,000 table at the benefit luncheon a friend is hosting.”

It was at once mind-blowing and, well, not surprising at all—having lived in New York for a time. It’s mostly just fascinating when people talk about their (very extreme) financial situations openly.

Which, of course, they didn’t. Not really.

This op-ed was all a part of marketing for Martin’s pseudo-scientific, yet serious anthropological study of certain Upper-East-Side elite, a tribe of wives if you will, that she conducted by becoming one of “them” in preparation for her memoir that’s coming out soon, Primates of Park Avenue. But color me intrigued.

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Gift Guide: Father’s Day

COMMENTS: 10

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It’s not too early to start thinking about Father’s day gifts…

If you want to get something from someplace like Etsy, you often need to think a bit further ahead. On the other hand, if you leave your shopping until the last minute, there are some options on here from sites like Amazon (where, apparently, major cities can now get same-day shipping—crazy!). I got a little carried away this time—too many great things for guys.

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Row by row, left to right…

A card to make yours laugh (because it’s all too true). And to thank him for everything.

Classic (California-made) board shorts with a 7″ inseam—to best flatter his great dad-bod. The Sky and Stripe are my favorites.

A perfect casual watch (on sale).

This starter kit because everything is under 30z and would help him in his struggle to still travel carry-on only. Ah, the good ol’ days.

This handsome french press would suit him well.

Awww. For him and his little one. Throw in a box of pizza while you’re at it.

A croquet set! Because games are the best gifts, and he probably doesn’t have one yet. You can all play a round together in the afternoon.

On a related note, Cards Against Humanity. Indulge his wicked sense of humor (or at least flatter it).

A slim-cut linen shirt that comes in extended sizes (like Tall!)—on sale until Monday.

A six-pack cooler for picnics in the park. Fill it with Dad’s Root Beer or a microbrew from his home town to start.

Best. Dad. Ever. Period.

Cool skateboard for the hipster dad.

Backgammon to play on that camping trip he’s been wanting to take.

I’ve always wanted to try this: Play catch for 25 minutes with the kids and make ice cream at the same time. Everyone wins!

This clean, ceramic Sake Set could come out after the kids are asleep. And it’s half-off. (Here’s an article about the beverage.)

A handmade waxed tote that gets better with age (like him). Or JCrew‘s less-expensive alternative.

This waterproof phone case inflates. So it would be perfect along with white-water-rafting plans.

Steak knives. And a promise to make a juicy rib-eye soon.

Kindle Paperwhite. I love mine, and it’s likely the only way he gets to read on planes anymore (one-handedly, usually while someone sleeps on the other one).

All he really wants to know. Make sure he gets the message.  (And low pressure: Tell him he can leave it on the shelf and you’ll add to it from time to time.)

Not pictured: Would a Father’s Day gift guide be complete without a tie? This one is clean and timeless.

Of course, if the dads in your life are anything like the ones in mine, they tend to buy themself everything they want. So experiences make great gifts, too. Or even just his favorite breakfast with a note saying why he’s the coolest—and that you love him. 

What are your best father’s day gift ideas? 

P.S. Last year’s Father’s Day Gift Guide. And the holiday gift guide for him. I stand by all those recommendations, and will say it again: that toy helicopter remains my favorite go-to gift suggestion ever.

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How to: Meal Train Etiquette

COMMENTS: 37

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There were ten babies born to women in my bookclub last year (including Skyler)—and there are more on the way this year! With nearly every new arrival, we would all sign up for nights to bring food over the family. (We used a free website called MealTrain.com that helps you organize drop-offs.) They’d list their preferences and allergies, kids’ ages, and best times to stop by. We would, in turn, coordinate to spread out the meals rather than filling their fridge for merely a week.

Once it was my turn to benefit, and friends started showing up with homemade casseroles, kale salads, and pints of ice cream, I realized I’d been a terrible meal-giver. I think I’d brought over a sort of sad tupperware of chili with hardly a side to speak of. (Sorry, Vanessa.) Luckily I was the second to have a baby, so I learned early. Another friend echoed this sentiment: “I have to rethink my go-to recipe because I always made things for others that needed to be assembled! Not until I had it done for me did I realize the joy of just opening the meal up and eating.”

So now that we’ve all (and seriously… almost all) been on the receiving end of a meal train in the past year, I thought I’d ask my friends to share their thoughts on meal train etiquette…

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Scenes from Mother’s Day

COMMENTS: 20

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Did you know that the woman who lobbied (successfully) for the official recognition of Mother’s Day as a holiday later wished they would rescind it? Apparently she wrote that the industry around the holiday were “charlatans, bandits, pirates, racketeers, kidnappers and termites that would undermine with their greed one of the finest, noblest and truest movements and celebrations.”

Reading that made me laugh of course, thinking about the poor family members tasked with picking out peonies and making a beautiful breakfast. But I was talking with a friend of mine and found myself nodding along when she said that, in a way, Mother’s Day feels more special than a birthday: her identity is so imbued with being a mother—at least right now, when the kids are still babies—that it feels really necessary to celebrate that. And I imagine that our mothers felt that way at one point, too (if not still).

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Last-minute Mother’s Day gift (From the grocery!)

COMMENTS: 4

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Mother’s Day is this Sunday. Have you picked out a card yet? Did you remember to pick up a gift?

In case you’ve gotten behind and will be scrambling for something Saturday night, here’s an idea you can pull together in no time. In fact, everything but the card came from our local grocery!

Here’s what I included…

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Something to entertain.

Pick up a few of her favorite magazines. A nice trio might consist of fashion, home, and celebrity pop-culture, but you’ll want to tailor the choices to her to show that you’ve been paying attention.

Keep reading…

This post is sponsored by Lindt.
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Assemble Your Allies: 5 tips for a stress-free kids’ party

COMMENTS: 15

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I have it on good authority (from a 4-year-old expert), that Captain America is the coolest because he’s “the strongest human ever, has the best outfit, and he always does the right thing.”

So when that little Avenger (or explorer or princess) comes and tells you they want a character-themed party for their birthday, how do you bring that beloved vision to life while still keeping things unique and stress-free?

Here are 5 tips I’ve gleaned for throwing together something simple but special…
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