Monday, March 31, 2008

Save a Life (with less icky mess)

The American Heart Association announced today that CPR without mouth-to-mouth is just as effective in most cases as CPR with mouth-to-mouth. I have to admit that in my (rather extensive) training over the years I learned to be prepared to position myself quickly to be the one giving chest compressions if I ever found myself in a situation where I was one of two people about to give CPR. Why? So I wouldn't be the one having to give mouth-to-mouth (although I did carry my Laerdal breathing mask with me frequently you just know the one time you don't have it is the one time you will need it and no, I wouldn't let it prevent me from helping someone that needed it).

My instructors weren't the only ones thinking twice about the ick factor of mouth-to-mouth on a fallen stranger. The American Heart Association is hoping that the new guidelines (call 911, then give 100 chest compressions per minute until help arrives) will help bystanders to overcome any hesitation they may have had about giving mouth-to-mouth and jump in to assist immediately.

Note that the new guidelines really only apply to adults. Children and infants and adults that collapsed as a result of something impacting the lungs (gas, drowning, etc.) may still need help breathing.

And, by the way, if you haven't already done so...GO GET CERTIFIED TO SAVE A LIFE TODAY!!

Thursday, March 27, 2008


There was a brief article in a local(ish) paper recently about the issue of privacy and mom blogs. It raised the question about whether or not there should be any security concerns when posting photos and information about one's children and family on public blogs.

The article didn't really answer the question. While it did suggest that some, like us, are being cautious and have elected not to post specific identifying information, it didn't give any examples of anyone encountering any ill effects from blogging. For that I am grateful.

Still, we've trended towards the more conservative end of the spectrum. While we always like to believe the best of people, you just never know.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Don't Say No

Modern parenting means not saying "no" - well, at least not unless things are really getting dangerous.

Any Billy Squier fans out there?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Learning to Talk

Not!! :-)

My husband and I are generally quiet people (I can hear my parents laughing from 2,500 miles away!) and we are trying to learn to talk more.

With our dear Island Boy in our lives, we find ourselves in training to learn to voice the simplest of thoughts or actions as we go about our lives. Instead of simply doing something, we need to think about explaining ourselves:

"Mommy is putting on her shoe. This is Mommy's shoe!"
"Ok, now we're going to get the milk out of the refrigerator."
"Mommy is making toast!"

You know...that sort of thing. It takes a surprising amount of energy to put aside whatever thoughts you are normally thinking while you put on your left shoe or get the milk out of the refrigerator and voice the words that describe your actions, but talk we must since we are responsible for teaching Island Boy about his world. No wonder we're so tired at the end of the day!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Restaurant Review: Giggles N' Hugs

A new restaurant opened in West LA!

Why is this Island Boy news?? Because this particular restaurant has a unique was designed to be a family restaurant complete with family-friendly menu and large play area. We'd heard some good things about it and couldn't wait to check it out, so we scheduled a play date there for lunch.

The decor is adorable and the food actually quite good. The menu offers a variety of healthy salads, paninis and entrees for adults and a handful of the usual suspects for children (PB&J, Mac & Cheese...). The place was bustling at high noon, but not packed, offering plenty of available tables and lots of toys to go around in the play area.

Any of the salads, pizzas or pastas can be ordered in adult or kid's size. I ordered the beet salad for myself and the mac-n-cheese for Island Boy. I had been hoping to order something I could share with Island Boy, but the intersection between what Mommy wanted and what she thought Island Boy would (or could) eat was slim. Island Boy did enjoy the beets from my salad and I enjoyed a few bites of his mac-n-cheese, but we probably could have gotten by with one or the other (if I had actually wanted to eat a bowl of mac-n-cheese instead of salad for lunch since Island Boy doesn't have enough teeth to be a very effective salad-eater at this point).

The beet salad was pretty tasty and (I presume) healthy although a little too sweet for my liking and just a little over-dressed. Next time I'll get the dressing on the side. The greens included in the salad were super fresh, crisp and beautiful which made me very happy. The mac-n-cheese was very good. However, it was a bit pricey at $8 for "the kid's size" serving (which was also rather large). Maybe if they also offered a "baby's size" serving for $4, I would have felt better about it.

My friend ordered one of the paninis. It looked great and she reported it was quite good. It was offered with a small pile of pretty mixed greens.

I was surprised that the menu didn't offer a section for teeth-challenged eaters. I had heard that anything on the menu could be pureed, but that wasn't obvious to me and reading through the menu offerings with a squirming baby in my arms (you order at the counter as you enter before selecting a table) didn't leave me with much mental energy to get creative with my order. I would have loved it if I could have ordered several small dishes for Island Boy to try - call it a tasting menu of sorts so that our little boy could have a healthy variety of things to eat (as we usually try to do at home) rather than just a big bowl of one thing. I did notice some sides on the menu like broccoli and peas which I plan to inquire about if we return, but it wasn't obvious to me as I stood there at the counter that those were reasonable options for babies as a meal.

The area where you pick up your silverware, dispense your own drinks and gather napkins and such held some brightly colored plastic utensils for children including some melamine plates and even straws (although not the flexible kind). I was pleased to see that in addition to the plastic utensils (already showing a bit of wear after only a couple of weeks), there were child-sized stainless steel spoons. I noticed many of the mothers struggling, as I did, with multiple trips to this area either with their babies in their arms or rushing back and forth to the table so that their children weren't left alone for long.

I was surprised there were no child-sized bowls - at least not baby-sized. Other than the melamine plates, I didn't see any bowls, so I asked and was given a bowl that looked like it had been sent under the faucet quickly (still dripping), so I wasn't keen to use it. It wasn't all that baby-sized anyway, so that was fine.

Although the counter service was a little on the slow side (not sure if this was due to indecisive moms (we didn't see any dads), squirmy kids or the staff), the bus service was extremely attentive - ever vigilant for the dropped straw, plate or utensil and always concerned about whether we were doing ok. All of the staff we encountered (and there seemed to be a lot of them, including an owner-looking type) were nicer than nice.

The tables were packed pretty close together (a necessity in West LA, I'm sure), but this meant that strollers didn't fit between the tables and that meant that people actually had to get up from their meals to let strollers through. We had heard that there were child-sized tables and chairs. There are, but not in the dining area - standard highchairs only for that.

My friend evaluated the changing area and rated it "pretty good". While the standard diaper dock is offered, they also had step stools and apparently, free wipes (which is good because my friend had left hers in her valet-parked car)!!

The play area is expansive and filled with interesting toys. The price of admission is advertised at $9(!), even if you're eating there(!). However, they don't seem to be enforcing the policy - at least they weren't while we were there (we did have a coupon for free admission to the play area just in case). It even has a play-dough station, although we didn't have time to check that out on this visit.

One peeve is that the only parking option is valet (although it is a very reasonable $2.50 which is practically unheard of in West LA where valet rates are approaching $10(!) - yes, I know! I know!). For moms, valet isn't always the preferred option for a play date or a lunch date. Although it's nice to have someone park your car and go get it again, it's even nicer to be able to sit in your car with your sleepy baby if you get there a few minutes early (as my friend did) or to be able to run out to your car to grab something you forgot to bring in (extra change of clothes anyone?) and that sort of thing. Still, I can live with valet parking.

There was one unforgivable problem. Barney was playing on a large screen TV (actually TWO) that is visible from every table in the dining area. I tried to strategically position Island Boy's chair with his back to it, but being the curious little tyke that he is, he eventually spotted it and was mesmerized by it and feeding him became more challenging than it otherwise might have been. Like many parents, we have a no television policy so it would be nice if we had the option to dine in a corner of the dining room that was TV free.

The prices do seem just a bit steep - especially for counter service. However, it is no small feat on LA's West side to devote any amount of real estate to anything that doesn't generate revenue - and a lot of it, so I think the prices are probably where they need to be if this business is to survive. I won't mind paying a little bit more and even tolerating the valet parking if I can truly take my baby there and feel like he can get in some play and social interaction along with a good, healthy meal without being distracted by Barney (or any other programing for that matter).

Overall, we're happy Giggles n' Hugs is open. It's a great place for parents of young children to meet and play and we expect it will get better and better. As the first of its kind, it's done a great job thus far.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Wine Weekend

Island Boy took his first trip to the Wine Country last weekend (no, not that Wine Country). The weather was picture perfect. (My apologies to my readers who were snowed in over the weekend! I think the snow can be beautiful, too!) The skies were brilliant blue with a few wispy clouds here and there and contrails streaming over it all. Recent rains drenched the hillsides in emerald green and the wildflowers were just beginning to throw golden blankets over them. The air was filled with the scent of blossoming almond, cherry and walnut trees. No photo could do it justice.

We drove up to Paso Robles on Friday night to meet some friends for the kickoff of a trip that's been planned for months. Our little sweetheart got to travel in style with his car seat turned around to face forward for the first time ever (oh, I guess I missed an update, didn't I? Yes, Island Boy celebrated his first birthday!! More on that soon, I promise). He wasn't sure what to make of it at first, but loved seeing the cows and horses and sheep along the way and there were lots of them.

We arrived a little later than planned thanks to car trouble (all it takes is a plan to go out of town to make that happen), but once we arrived everything went off without a hitch. Island Boy's friend N met us in the hotel courtyard. The sitter had already showed up with armloads of books and toys and happy hour hors devours were already being served in the Bistro Room. The boys apparently enjoyed their evening with the sitter while mommies and daddies enjoyed a dinner at a local winery followed by dancing under an actual disco ball - who could have guessed we would be discoing on a Friday night in wine country? Not us, but we loved it!

How do we know the boys liked the sitter? We received a report card from her at the end of the evening - our boys' first report cards! We were so proud! It listed what they did, what they ate, when they were changed, etc. Most importantly, when the same sitter showed up the next morning, the boys were happy to see her - and each other (yes, N is a hugger!). We were able to hop in the limo and enjoy our day in the wine country knowing that our little guys were safe and cared for at the hotel. We were back in the afternoon and had a lovely dinner at the hotel with the group.

Sunday morning we enjoyed another delicious breakfast at the hotel of fresh fruit and berries and house made pastries and granola while Island Boy posed in his Oakleys. (This kid doesn't pose much for pictures, but give him some cool eyewear and he knows he looks good!)

After breakfast we wandered the hotel grounds and vineyards and spread out a blanket on the grass while we waited to meet up with another couple of friends for lunch. Island Boy attempted to map out our day for us while we waited. Ah, but his plans changed and it didn't take long for him to fall asleep after lunch. He slept for nearly the entire three hour drive home.

It was a lovely weekend getaway that felt like more than just a few days away. Those are always the best kind.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Is it like this everywhere?

I took my first preschool tour last week. The parents were like piranhas introducing themselves to the director, inquiring about the "secrets" to admission, pointing out the wonderful qualities of their children. All of this for admissions in September of 2009, more than a year and a half from now! Think that sounds bad? I called to inquire at another local preschool and was told that they were already full for 2009, so I would be talking to them about entering in 2010, more than two and a half years from now!!

Apparently, it is not uncommon for parents to start inquiring about these programs as soon as they find out they're pregnant!

My goodness, this seems crazy, doesn't it? Are there just not enough preschools out there? Or are parents simply increasingly anxious to give their little ones a leg up? And what of the families who skip preschool altogether?

So, I it like this everywhere??

Monday, March 10, 2008

Island Salsa

We've had a Twinado sighting here in Island Boy town! For a few brief hours yesterday, we had five toddlers zipping through our house as the Salsa in China girls and our buddies from Boise all converged upon a bewildered Island Boy at the same time.

The poor little guy had just had his breakfast and was enjoying puttering around his own house and getting reacquainted with all of his toys and surroundings after being away for the weekend for his first visit to the Wine Country (more on that later!) when the doorbell rang and in rolled two toddlers followed closely by two more. Some sat back and assessed the scene while others quickly fanned out to get the lay of the land and explore, systematically testing out Island Boy's toys and inspecting his taste in books.

He wasn't quite sure what to make of it all and watched the older kids carefully, jumping in to join the fun when it came to scooter riding. For reasons I cannot explain, they were drawn like magnets as all children seem to be to the magical toy that is difficult to describe, but plays music as it drives in circles and rolls balls around.

Just as they were all getting revved up we all blew out of here for a lunch at one of our favorite local haunts just a couple of miles away. The Boise crew peeled off for parts east so we were left with a marginal four adults to three toddler ratio. We made it through lunch and even managed a quick stop at a local bakery (hey, we were parked right in front of it - it's not like it was easily avoidable!) before the toddler warning signs began to flash and we piled back into our vehicles and headed for our homes. (Yes, those are blow pops you see!)

Halfway through the approximately four minute drive to our home from the restaurant, Island Boy was fast asleep.


Island Boy has been testing out his vocal chords with samplings all along the spectrum ranging from whispers to shrieks at a surprising range of volumes. The results range from incredibly adorable to nearly deafening (ok, even that is incredibly adorable as long as it doesn't succeed). Good thing we're all learning sign language. We may need it.

Monday, March 03, 2008


Wait times for the Taiwan program have increased to the point that the China program doesn't sound so bad. Can you imagine deciding that you're ready to start your family and being told that your pregnancy would last TWO YEARS?!

That's what people who are entering the Taiwan program these days are hearing. Parents waiting for their children to come home from China are waiting even longer, but not much.

It's difficult to believe that when we first contemplated the Taiwan program, we were told we could have our baby home in as little as five months. Yikes!!! That was toooo fast for me - a woman needs nine months (or so I thought). By the time we figured out that our son was waiting for us in Taiwan and settled on the Taiwan program, the wait times had increased and our process took about a year. Although that was tooooo long, this is our son and that's what it took to bring us together, so we wouldn't have changed a thing even if we could have.

So for those of you waiting - whether you are just beginning to think about it, just finished with all of your dossier requirements, just entering the courts, or waiting for your travel instructions - know that it's all worth it. Still, I hope it goes quickly for you. Two years is a long time to be expecting.