Yoga for kids

In the past few weeks, our little E’s teacher Chandrika started introducing yoga to kids at preschool.

When my 3-year-old boy came home and demonstrated “ice cream” and “airplane” poses, it was incredibly adorable.  I immediately purchased a copy of Bal Yoga for Kids book and DVD, the same material used at school.   Now it’s becoming our nightly routine. Before I put the kids to bed, we stretch and do a few poses.  We end the night with the Namaste pose (legs criss-crossed with thumbs and index fingers touching to make a circle).

One great thing about this collection of video is that it introduces 30+ poses, 26 of them (A-Z) are based on animals or everyday objectives, e.g. ice cream, umbrella.  Not only are kids mimicking animal postures, e.g. extending two arms to form an elephant trunk, they are also learning A, B, C at the same time.

Here’s A for Airplane pose.


I did yoga when I was pregnant with my first child.  While I appreciate the meditative aspect, I never quite appreciate it until recently.   This mother-and-son yoga time has given us another chance to bond.

Here’s a promotional video from the publisher:

I highly recommend this book/DVD/audio CD set!

Belly Button Books for Toddlers

Go up to any toddlers and say “Belly button!” and you will undoubtedly get a giggle or two!

My kids always chuckle when I read them these belly button books.

bellybuttonOne of my favorite children’s authors is Sandra Boynton. Her Belly Button Book has silly hippos singing praises of their “BEE BO”s.

My favorite lines from the book is

“It’s Belly Button Beach where tons of hippos stand around in bathing suits too little because they hope you will admire the button on their middle.”

bellybuttonfairyNot all fairies are young like Tinkerbell. The star of this beautifully illustrated book is a grandmother fairy. The accompanied audio track is simply delightful.

“Now I think this is real. Oh, I think this is true.
Yes, it happened to me and it happened to you.
Take a look in the mirror. Do you see something funny?
Is there a round hole right there on your tummy?”

flapFinally, for toddlers who simply can’t get enough peek-a-boo, Where Is Baby’s Belly Button? will surely entertain.

My kids and I love the folky and colorful illustrations in this book.  Though it’s a board book, my boys get so excited about the flaps that the book is fairly worn out after all these years!


Hope you will enjoy these belly button books!

LEGO Star Wars R2D2

starwars_legoAs a mother of 2 and wife of a Star Wars fan, our house is inundated with Star Wars themed LEGO kits. Even my sweet and “illiterate” 2yo boy recognizes the franchise’s logo from a mile away.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what to give my husband for this Valentine’s Day. I want a gift that enables him to play and have fun with our kids.

Serendipitously, I came across a LEGO kit for R2D2. It is possibly the most beloved character ever created within the series. I’ve read so many positive reviews. Now an order has been made and I simply can’t wait to see my family gather around the living room and the joy on their faces when all 2,127 pieces are all put together!


Construction toys for aspiring architects

Our home has countless containers of construction toys, ranging from wooden blocks to marble runs. These are 3 of our favorite construction toys.  The first two involve motors and the last one requires imagination only.

Quercetti Marble Run

We received it at our older son’s 4th birthday. It was a bit challenging but with Daddy’s help, our son spent hours connecting and re-arranging tubes and testing marble drops down ramps. Between Quercetti and Techno Gears, I would start out with one around 4 or 5 and then move on to Techno Gears.


Techno Gears Marble Mania Extreme

We picked this kit up at Costco a couple of years ago. The age range is 8 to 12 but even my husband found it a bit challenging. Nevertheless, it’s one of the most sophisticated and elaborate motorized marble runs we have in the house. Kids love it. You absolutely have to keep track of marbles that come in these kits as they are choking hazards for younger kids in the home.

Citiblocs Building Blocks
We were inspired of the possibilities of wooden blocks when we visited Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley. There was one room with 20,000 blocks for anyone to build.  Definitely inspiring!




I’d love to hear about constructions toys in your home!  Always looking for new toy recommendations for my boys.

Favorite Author: Mo Williems

Mo’s one of my all-time favorite children’s authors. I first stumbled upon one of the Penguin books at a local children’s library. Since my 5yo started kindergarten, he’s been bringing home Mo Williems books, selected by his 3rd grade library buddy, every Wednesday from the school library.

A short bio from the author page on Amazon:

A three-time Caldecott Honor winner for Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale, and Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity, Mo Willems has also won two Geisel Medals for There is a Bird on Your Head! and Are You Ready to Play Outside? And his books are perennial New York Times bestsellers. Before he turned to children’s books, Mo was a writer and animator on Sesame Street, where he won six Emmy Awards. Mo lives with his family in Massachusetts.

All of his books have lovable and quirky characters. Penguin asks for things and doesn’t ever get anything. Gerald the Elephant and his best friend Piggie have the silliest conversations. Edwina the Dinosaur bakes cookies for everyone.

Here are the top 3 of all the Mo books my kids and I have read so far:

Edwina, The Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She Was Extinct

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!

I Broke My Trunk! (An Elephant and Piggie Book)

What are your favorite Mo books?

Trips to the Apple Store

loscerritos_hero_2xThis Christmas we got my mom an iMac and an iPhone 5.  She may be the most equipped grandma on the block.  Yesterday, we spent an hour waiting and configuring her newly purchased iPhone 5.  It was crowded but kids were in their own zone.

I always find trips to Apple Store is like going to a theme park.  It’s just as fun as going to the Legoland.  They love sitting on those foamed spherical chairs, exploring new apps, and periodically poking their heads up, like squirrels looking for nuts, to see what other kids are playing.

If you ever need a place to take kids on a rainy day, head to the local Apple Store.  Now if only they have childcare!

Toy grandma wins hearts and minds

Every child seems to have a toy grandma and a clothing grandma.  That’s always been the case in our children’s life.  My mom always keeps my kids looking sharp and my mother-in-law makes sure they are entertained with new toys and books. The tide turned this year.  My mom bought beautiful sweaters for our children this Christmas. But when she showed up with two big boxes of PlayMobil, kids shouted with joy.  Of course she got big appreciation hugs in return!


Last night, my kindergartner didn’t sleep until 11pm because he stayed up late to construct his plane with his father.

All morning, I spent sorting through 400+ parts of another kit – Playmobil Forest Lodge.  It must have taken me an hour to organize all the parts and follow 6 pages of instructions.  The result (just the first step) – a beautiful cabin with an adjacent barn.  It was my first time playing with a PlayMobil kit.  With my son looking for pieces, it was an incredibly fun activity over Christmas break.


Overall, I am very impressed with German engineering applied to toys.  All the pieces snapped together like a precision instrument.  Even my 2yo enjoyed using the small handy toolto snap nuts and bolts in place.

I would recommend both kits to children over 5.  They can follow instructions and would enjoy collaborating with you.

Car seats from 0 to 6

My sons are 2 and 5 so my research for safe car seats ends around age 6.

Infant Car Seat – Graco Snugride (age 0-1)
I still remember vividly when we brought our first child home.  We were both overwhelmed. My husband said, “They actually let us take him home?  We have no idea what to do with a baby!”   Then again, the only requirements to bring our baby home were to sign our baby’s birth certificate and  have a properly installed car seat.

gracoBefore I was discharged, the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital car seat fitting station helped install Graco Snugride in our brand new Toyota Highlander.  It  was one of the best rated infant car seats on the market.  Today Consumer Reports gives it a “Best Buy” rating, which means it offers the best combination of performance and price.

The convenient bucket style allows you to carry a sleeping baby without unbuckling at each stop.  Because babies sleep 20+ hours in the early days,  it’s best not to disturb them.  Although the Snugride can hold up to 30-35 pounds, our children eventually outgrew their it because of their height, not weight.  We knew it was time to upgrade when their feet dangling outside of the bucket seat. Continue reading

Decorating kids’ rooms


Kids love bright colors, so we opted for a Spice Butternut (orange) and a Handsome Hue (blue) for our boys.

One thing we try not to do is to have frames with sharp edges and glass.  Instead,  we got wall decals and canvas prints.

Here are some of my favorite items to liven up my boys’ rooms:

  • Brown Bear Wall Appliques – Eric Carle is one of our favorite children’s authors.  His distinct illustrations are highly recognizable. Often when I get my toddler dressed, I would point to the wall and ask him what “Brown Bear” or “Goldfish” sees.  You can see the co-author Bill Martin Jr. reading from this book.
  • Cici Factory canvas prints – we have a number of whimsical prints with robots and rockets.  They have internal wood frames and are ready to hang.  What I like about them is that there are no sharp edges.
  • Green Leaf Art – These safari animals are really adorable.  For my little toddler who was born the Year of Tiger, I thought it was quite appropriate.

In my spare time, I really like browsing decorated rooms using Houzz’s iPad app.  It’s an awesome source for inspiration.

Newborn essentials

From the moment we brought our oldest son home 5 years ago, we experimented with nearly every basic:

In a newborn’s life, it’s all about “Eat/Drink”, “Pee/Poo”, and “Sleep”.  Let’s get right to it.

Two of the best bottle lines are Dr. Brown and Born Free. My lactation consultant suggested using Dr. Brown and the slow flow nipples.  Because I had to heat up stored milk, I was really happy when the glass bottles were introduced a few years ago.  My sisters love Born Free for their children.

I fell in love with Huggies Pure & Natural diapers, which came onto the market when my second son was born. He’s now 2 and half and had only gotten rashes a couple of times using this diaper.

PRIMO EuroBathBabies don’t get dirty from sleeping 20+ hours a day.  It’s okay to bathe them a few times a week, according to Mayo Clinic.  When you do, use PRI EuroBath tub. We started out with a “First Year Sure Comfort Newborn-to-Toddler Tub”.  It was too narrow to accommodate average sized babies beyond the first 2-3 months with spare room to maneuver.  After research, I found a plain Primo Baby.  It was perfect.  For babies who can’t yet sit, the incline side is wide and comfortable.  Once a baby can sit, he or she has plenty of room to play with rubber ducks and other inflatable toys.

swaddling_blanketAs for sleep, keep in mind not to use loose blankets or leave any stuffed animals in the crib.  In the first month, we swaddled our boys using SwaddleDesigns’ receiving blankets. At some point, your baby won’t like being constrained, switch to organic sleepsacks from HALO. Get the micro-fleece ones for winter, cotton for summer.

My husband always says that taking care of a baby is like following a flowchart. Perhaps we’ll actually create one at some point.