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Wednesday
Jul232014

Playing Tourist in SF: The Duck Tour

 

Nic LOVES Fisherman’s Wharf. That sentence probably made San Francisco locals shudder. When we lived in The City, Fisherman’s Wharf was the last place you’d find us, but now that we’re parents, our kids have brought us back. Yes, there are tons of other great things to do in The City with kids (Dolores Park, Academy of Sciences, Crisssy Field, etc.), but there’s something about sea lions and the Rain Forest Café that just makes our boys squeal with glee.

When the folks at Ride the Ducks reached out to me, I knew I had to take them up on the offer of a tour for our family (yes, the tour was free, but the opinions are my own). Not only would we be able to catch the amazing amphibious duck boat in Fisherman’s Wharf, but we’d get a tour of The City, and most importantly, get a ride on the Bay. That’s right, this tour goes from land to water to land again—all in the same vehicle!

I tried to take as many pictures as possible, but I was also holding on to a squirmy 2-year-old. Below is an overview of the ride in pictures and text.

 

Check in for the tour is in the heart of Fisherman’s Wharf at Taylor and Jefferson. The staff was super friendly.

 

As soon as they saw and heard the duck-bill kazoos, I knew we’d be shelling out $3 each. I’ve added them to our music bin at home and they were worth every penny.

 

We were the last ones on and got a great view from the side and rear windows. Z thought the back windows were particularly lick-worthy. We departed from Fisherman’s Wharf, went through North Beach, China Town, Union Square, SOMA, China Basin, into the Bay and then back along the Embarcadero.

 

 Inside view of the Duck Boat as we entered the water near AT&T Park.

 

 

 My favorite part of the tour was seeing the enormous ships up close.

The views of The City and Bay Bridge were pretty awesome too.

 

Everyone was all smiles on our return trip. Please ignore the hair—we were on the water and it was humid!

So Would I Recommend this Tour?

Yes. Just the novelty of driving through The City in this crazy truck and then going into the water would have been enough for us to “get our money’s worth.” Add in the interesting crowds of people, loads of construction equipment and the awesome soundtrack and historical tidbits, and we were all more than thrilled.

Things to Keep in Mind

I wish I would have brought my Ergo for Z. For 90% of the time, I felt comfortable holding him and that he wasn’t going to leap from the truck (there are no seltbelts/child restraints), but the other 10% of the time I was holding on for dear life. This was mostly in the water. Looking back, I’m sure there was no actual risk, but I would have been more relaxed (and comfortable) if I could have put him in the Ergo.

Bring lots of snacks. The tour is 90 minutes long—it’s action packed, but I was still worried we would have a meltdown. The boys ate the granola bars I packed about 20 minutes in and I was worried that I wouldn’t have a secret weapon should they lose it.

So, if you want to see The City from a new point of view or if you’re new in town, give the Ducks a ride!

 

Sunday
Jul202014

The End of an Era: Saying Goodbye to Cloth Diapers

 

I was hoping to cloth diaper both of my boys all the way through potty training. I came so close! Potty training Z didn’t work exactly as planned, and now he has his second staph diaper rash in the last year. It’s not necessarily cloth-related—staph will grow anywhere warm and moist—but I will need to have him in disposables for a while until his rash is completely cleared up.The cloth diaper that started it all. This was Nic back in 2010.

I was already considering moving him to pull-ups to help with the gradual potty training that seems to work best for him. Now that I know we’ll need to be off of cloth for at least a month, I think my decision has been made for me. I put him in some Honest Company training pants this morning and he really liked his “robot underpants.”

A New Life for the Dipes?

And what should I do with my stash? I had hoped to pass it on to a friend or donate it, but now I’m not sure anyone will want it. After Z’s first staph infection, I disinfected the diapers and he wore them for a year without incident. His current case is certainly not related to the first--he’s likely just susceptible to the bacteria, which is present on everyone's skin. I have the diapers running in a hot wash with bleach as I type and will run that again when it’s done.  Hopefully, someone will still want to take my stash in.

Thanks for the Memories (and the Money!)

I’ll miss seeing my littlest boy with a fluffy bottom. I probably won’t miss washing them (and the California drought might even thank me), but I will miss seeing stacks of freshly folded, brightly colored fluff.

I’ll also miss not paying for diapers. I’m not one of those fluff addicts who drops tons of cash on new prints. I buy only as needed and haven’t spent a dime on new diapers in over a year. But the other day, I ordered a ton of training pants and my husband asked me what the heck I bought from Honest.com for $90. Ouch!

Years ago, when Charlie Banana sent me a huge box of diapers and I cancelled my diaper service, I started saving the money I would have been spending on the service. I set up an automatic transfer for $74 per month, and since I started washing my own diapers I’ve put over $3300 into our savings account.  And that’s not to mention the thousands of diapers that we didn’t put in a landfill.

I am so happy that we chose to cloth diaper and that we stuck with it for so many years. I would do it again in a heartbeat. It’s also amazing to know that through my own personal friendships and through this blog, that I’ve influenced other people’s decision to cloth diaper. I’m so proud to have been a part of the cloth diaper community.  

Sunday
Jul132014

Keeping my Word on Potty Training

 

When I told Z’s preschool teacher that we were going to start potty training the weekend after school was over, she said, “Just know that it might not work.” Knowing that Z is young (21 months), and that potty training is tricky, I said, “I know. If it doesn’t work we’ll try again later.” But at the time, I really didn’t think we’d have any problems.

We used the same 3-day method that we did with Nic, and the first week was AWESOME. We had very few accidents after the first day and he’d go almost every time we put him on the potty.We like to throw "Potty Parties" to make potty training more fun!

However, after a few days, I noticed that he wasn’t really “self-initiating.” He wasn’t going over to the potty and sitting when he needed to go, rather he would wait for us to put him on the potty. This didn’t seem like a big deal, we just thought he needed more time to get the hang of it.

Then at about two weeks in, he started having accidents. MAJOR accidents. Poop on restaurant benches accidents. He started to resist sitting on the potty and then having accidents just a few minutes after we had put him on the potty. We tried to stick with it for another week, but after a big accident on my husband’s watch, we gave up.

This was hard for me. Potty training is exhausting and I felt like we had come so far only to have it slip away. But I knew that I couldn’t let the potty be a stressful thing for Z and that was what it was becoming (and for me too!). Ultimately, I told myself that I had to keep my word to Teacher Carol and that I had to take a few steps back.

At first I thought of it as defeat, like we had failed. Then I realized that was a silly way to look at it. Despite him showing so many signs of readiness (literally pulling off his diaper when he saw anyone use the potty, asking for potty books all the time), he just wasn’t ready.

And it wasn’t a total waste of time and effort. Z still does about half of his business on the potty, he’s just wearing a diaper in between. This is much less stressful for everyone. I still haven’t decided if we’ll try the 3-day method again, or if we’ll do the more gradual pull-ups thing. I’ve always been all for the 3-day method, but if being a mom has taught me anything, it’s that not everything works for all kids. I might just have to invest in some cloth pullups or follow one of these tutorials on Pinterest!

Friday
May022014

A Belated One Year Note to My Son

This post was supposed to be written when my little boy turned one. Here we are three months later and I’m finally writing a post about this milestone. I guess that says something for having two kiddos…you just get behind on things! At the end of the day I’m much more content flopping on the couch at 9:30 for an hour or so of catching up on a show or with my husband than to have the brain power to type. But, this blog post isn’t about that. It’s about our little Reid who I've written a small summary of how our first year has gone.

Wow, your first year went by SO slowly yet in a flash. Only now do I have flashbacks to the early days when you would have an upset tummy or were teething at night and couldn't sleep. Only then do I say, “Oh yeah, that wasn’t too much fun.” These days you’re way too much fun to dwell on the reflux and early days of crying for no reason. I know it wasn’t an easy year for you either. You were the one who had to deal with the reflux and discomfort of teething at the early age of 4 months.

Boy, your teeth shot in fast! You had about 8 teeth by the time you were nine months. Boy those teething months were tough on you. But, the good news was that we got teeth early so you got to chew up all that food you so badly wanted to eat. Yes, like your sister, you LOVE food. Now that you can walk and have figured out how to open the pantry door and freezer, you love to direct us as to what you want to eat and when. You aren’t shy about demanding what you want though you pretty much eat anything we put in front of you. You are a gem in a restaurant as long as the bread basket stays full and the service moves along…and if we get dessert. No need for crayons or an iPad for you, both of your hands are used for eating. You prefer to have a piece of food in each hand at all meal and snack times. From a very early age you figured out how to open puff containers with your teeth. We knew you were going to be pretty clever from that little maneuver.

You are a pretty passionate guy…I can already tell. When you are happy, you are REALLY happy but when you’re mad or bored, you are REALLY unhappy. Nothing wrong with a guy knowing what he wants. You can hang the moon and stars with your smile (you're a huge flirt) and have even managed to woo your sister into being one of your biggest fans though your drool and ability to not understand not to touch her things has threatened this relationship. You were early to crawl, eager to explore areas we wouldn’t put you and decided to walk at about 13 months. Since that milestone, you love motoring around and are now attempting to run which has led to numerous bumps and bruises. You LOVE going outside. I mean LOVE it. If you could sleep in a tent outside I think you would be in hog heaven. If you had your way, we would wake up, eat breakfast and head straight outside. Unfortunately for you, you have a strong-willed sister who likes to take her time watching toons and dressing up like a princess before facing the day.

You love to sing and dance and have been attempting to jump. No words may be coming out of your mouth, but you are singing a melody and shaking your groove thing. One of your favorite activities is our regular dance parties. Nothing makes you giggle like your sister acting silly and jumping up and down like a hyena. You love watching her jump on cushions, on beds, on the floor, wherever. It usually results in a fit of giggles from all of us. You LOVE bath-time. When it gets close to bedtime I know it’s pretty much the only thing that’s gonna calm you down if you’re fussy. Now, you’re obsessed with the shower and feel like such a big boy when you get to take one with your sissy. There’s not a toy more fun that the shower squigee or pump bottle of head & shoulders to try and figure out. And, of course we can’t forget one of your other favorite people: our cat, Lucy. Nowadays we can find you giving Lucy a bear hug or chasing her under the couch but you can see she loves you too. You guys are going to be big buddies.

Well, that’s a pretty quick snapshot of you over the past year and these past few months. You are our sweet, cuddly, loving, squirming, sometimes screaming Reid and we are so thankful you are a part of our lives and family. We love you little man!

Friday
Mar212014

LaaS - Lunch as a Service

 

I know not everyone enjoys packing their kid’s lunches for school like I do, but there are days when it’s really hard to get my act together, or when I just haven’t found the time to grocery shop. Oh, or after returning from a long weekend away… I’m left scrounging for something to put in a lunch.

So I was stoked when Scrumpt contacted me to try out a new service. The San Francisco based company provides parents the ingredients to make healthy and easy-to-assemble lunches for their little ones - a Scrumpt Lunch Kit. At the time my youngest was just a few months old and my daughter had just started preschool, which translates to packing a school lunch five days a week. I was happy to give Scrumpt a try.

I strategically planned to receive a Scrumpt delivery for the day I had returned from traveling for a week. When the large box of goodies arrived I was impressed with all of the healthy items including -- hummus, grapes, almond butter, cheddar bunny crackers, granola and even pasta with marinara sauce. The lunches were organized with cute instruction cards that detailed how to best put lunches together. And items that would need refrigeration (like yogurt) were packed with mini ice packs. Everything was packaged in cute little containers and labeled. Sounds pretty easy huh?!

 

I’ll be honest, on a couple of the lunches I mixed and matched the ingredients instead of following the menu exactly. The menus were still great because it alleviated the “what am I going to pack today?” Check out this sample of the ingredients that could be included in your Scrumpt Box.


Overall, really great concept and nutritious food. My Scrumpt Box sure came in handy! I will certainly use this service for weeks when I know I’m going to be running low on time. I think Scrumpt would make a great gift - especially to parents who are expecting or bringing home  a second baby. What a treat to not have to worry about lunch!

One thing I should note. I was initially concerned about food allergies. My daughter’s preschool doesn’t allow nuts, so I couldn’t use the almond butter in the lunches. However, the company clarified that during the check-out process, you can indicate any applicable allergies/ sensitivities (nut-free, lactose-free or gluten-free). Awesome!

Pricing with a subscription may seem high (at $8 per lunch) but when you take into account all the different variables (like time spent grocery shopping, driving to the grocery store and meal prep) you get good value for your money. You can also try it on a one-time basis and you get $12 off (approximately $6.59 per lunch).

In addition to the Scrumpt Lunch Kit, the company also offers a Scrumpt Snack Pack and recently added a Scrumpt Travel Kit, which includes snacks for on-the-go, as well as games and activities to keep the littles occupied during travel. Scrumpt is currently available in Marin and San Francisco.