Two Reasons to Take Santa Photos Early


Yes, Santa is probably at your local mall already. Definitely yes if your local mall is the Stanford Shopping Center. We go early – really early – each year to see Santa for two reasons. The same two reasons that you should do so, too.

1. No lines! We walked right up and they sat down. No waiting for screaming toddlers to stop crying, no families asking for multiple poses, no kids with endless wish lists to discuss with the big man. In fact, with no one in line, Santa has nothing but time to spend with your kids. They talked lists, told jokes, administered tests to see if they were as smart as the elves (one test pictured above), then took pictures. Many pictures. Nothing was rushed.

2. Get a head start on Christmas cards and scrapbooks. I make photo books as Christmas gifts for the grandparents, and while I need to give them at Christmas, I want a Christmas-themed photo to end the year. The early Santa photo does that for me. Now I have no excuse not to get bookmaking (but don’t worry, I’ll find one).

Word of Mouth Vote Marketing

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I’ll admit it, I wasn’t going to vote today. It was a combination of lazy (I forgot to mail in our ballots), and apathy because there were only two things to vote for here: community college board and high school board. Bo-ring.

Then I ran into a friend at the store and as we talked about her daughter’s transition to high school, she reminded me to vote, noting something specific about why our local school board vote was so crucial. Because of that brief interaction, I went home, looked up my polling location, and went in to drop off my ballot. Kevin did the same after dinner.

We weren’t alone in our apathy; the polling worker told me I was only the third person to come in that day. It was 4:30 p.m.!

Just a reminder that all it takes it one person with a little excitement to dispel apathy.

Complying with the NFL Clear Bag Policy


For scale: the left bag holds a sweater, sweatshirt, t-shirt, and clutch.

I’m torn on this one: part of me feels like sporting events are ripe for some sort of awful terrorist event and better gate protection is needed; the other part of me thinks that making a mom with two young kids buy and carry a clear bag into a stadium is not the solution.

About two days before heading out to a 49ers game, my mom said something to me about the new NFL all clear policy because I didn’t know a thing about it despite following football. (Following football is different from following stadiums. Keeping up with game rule changes was confusing enough, and FYI NFL, when reaching out to bloggers, don’t exclude the NFC West region.) I looked at the policy and then places to buy complying clear bags online through the NFL shop, but the 49ers bags were back ordered for weeks (and the least expensive bag remains backordered). I scrambled out to the nearby 49ers shop where I was able to find a small size bag for $5. I bought three – one for me, and one each per kid – and our stuff fit comfortably, but the problem was with the execution of the bag carry.

Going on a picnic, these bags would be great. They aren’t the most comfortable over my shoulder (longer straps would help), but they were fine. Yet, NFL stadiums are crowded, and Candlestick Park has walkways that resemble a mosh pit. I had to carry all three bags, plus hold my kids’ hands to safely navigate the crowd together. I missed the backpack that I take into SF Giants games, the one that holds all of our gear in one sack. and doesn’t keep sliding off my shoulder, knocking my kids in the head.

What made me uncomfortable about the clear bags is that everyone sees what you brought. I don’t care if you see my sweatshirt or water bottle, but my phone, wallet, and (spoiler alert) tampons are another story. To make me feel better about my wallet, I took a small square clutch – the same size as the one that used to hold my ID and cash on my keychain during college – and used a carabiner to secure it to the bag handle. This way my wallet wasn’t floating around in the bag, possible falling out or getting snatched. It worked perfectly.


The tampons were another story and were shoved in between the sweatshirts, allowing me to retain some dignity. Maybe the NFL will next come out with a licensed feminine hygiene products bag.

If you bring along a child in diapers, but don’t worry, per the NFL, your baby can carry her own diaper bag!  ”Diapers can be carried in a clear bag. Each member of a family, including children, would be allowed to carry an approved clear bag and a clutch purse into the stadium. That is a quite a bit of storage capacity.”

Here’s the thing, I’m happy to pay $5 for better security. I would have also paid $5 to avoid the out-of-her-mind drunk woman in front of us who threw up like a sprinkler, hitting all the seats around her, but that’s another story. I would feel a lot better about the NFL’s interests if they were not profiting from the bag sales. Paying $5 was fine, but the $10 and up, plus shipping, prices online make this feel like it’s more about revenue than safety. The position that there is a less expensive alternative – simple Ziplock bags – is nuts. They know football is played in the cool/cold weather, which usually calls for layers and blankets too bulky for any allowable Ziplock. Plus, are we supposed to Duct tape straps to make them wearable?

If you’re serious NFL, sell the $5 bag online, at stadium gates, and at merchandise booths inside the stadiums. I was stopped many times to answer where I found our bags for purchase. Answering, “the 49ers store in Palo Alto” wasn’t what people wanted to hear. We all want a safe environment, help make it easy to comply.

5 Things to Know About Despicable Me 2

Before I get started, this ad nearly made me fall out of my chair laughing because about three times a month, I have to yell to Kevin that the wifi is out.

Will we like it?

Yes! My kids (10, 7) loved it, and so did I. After we left the theater, Kevin said it was nice to see a movie that wasn’t a let down from the hype. The minions are hilarious and used throughout the movie, more than in the first film. The kids are never in danger, and the oldest daughter Margo is at the age of texting and finding an interest in boys, which spoke to my daughter. It’s funny, especially when picking out English words in the minion’s vocabulary, like poop (my son’s favorite), tomato or lasagna.

Is it scary?

No. My seven year old is sensitive to conflict. He’s the kid who tried to bolt out of the theater during Monsters University and he is know to ask to use the bathroom whenever conflict appears at the theater. He never once covered his eyes, ears, or tried to leave. While the story has conflict, it is done in such a gentle way that it is not scary. Even the bad guy is more comical than threatening. There were kids of all ages in the theater and not one kid made a scared peep, nor left the theater. It seemed safe for any age kid ready to sit through a movie.

Is it worth seeing in the theater?

This film really showed the advancements in 3D animation. There is a part of the post-film short featuring bubbles that was incredible. It had even the two 50 year old women in front of us reaching out to try to touch the bubbles. If you’re not going to see it in 3D and don’t mind waiting, then wait for the DVD. Otherwise, it was worth the extra money to see in now in 3D.

When should we leave the theater?

I never understand why some people have not figured out that for many movies, especially animated films, it’s worth staying seated for a few minutes after the credits begin. In this case, the minions return for a little short including some music and bubbles (mentioned above). After their bit is finished, it’s safe to leave.

Things to know:

Russell Brand is the voice of Dr. Nefario. Somehow I missed this the last time around, and really this time around until the credits. His voice change for the character is amazing.

DESPICABLE-ME-2-Kevin-The-Minion-PosterThis may be schmaltzy, but the best part was watching how hard my kids laughed. Also, I still want a minion. Or three.

FYI – This post is not sponsored. 



Happy Birthday to My Seven Year Old Baby

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Thank you for letting me call you Baby, for letting me call you Bear, and sometimes even Baby Bear. Thank you for holding my hand. You hold the door, carry heavy things up the stairs, and are quick with a laugh, And, damn, you are good looking.


One of the funniest things you've said to me is that you are shy. Kid, you are nothing close to shy. Feeling hesitant in a new situation is different from shy. You easily walk up to people you don't know, you chat up moms, you leave any new room or group with a new friend. You may not remember their name, but you've added to your growing posse

You do get upset, although not often and not for long, but when it happens you do the full Charlie Brown. Your head hangs, your shoulders drop, and you shuffle out of a room looking sorrowful and pathetic. Most predictably, the times you get upset are when you've been busted for stealing candy. Your sweet tooth gets the better of you time and time again. There was the early morning when you woke up covered in something awful and I thought you may have had a horrible accident in your bed, only to quickly realize you fell asleep while eating chocolate.

You're a vegetarian – except for bacon – and after months of ignoring it or picking the meat out of your food, I realized I was disrespecting a pretty important wish. You would live off milk, fruit, and bread if we let you, plus the occasional side of bacon. You want to open a cheese shop when you are older, only to be open hours that do not interfere with your MLB career, you've explained. If you have a night game, the shop will only be open early. If a day game, only open at night. And you refuse to sell stinky cheeses. 

Tippytoes-bbirthdayThis year you played soccer, basketball, baseball, and now lacrosse. The sad thing is that it's not enough for you.You keep asking to add more. I wish I could bottle your enthusiasm. You asked my age this week, then soon after picked something up off the ground for me, explaining, "It's hard for old people to bend down." 

Your greatest accomplishment this year was probably growing tall enough to ride California Screamin' – just barely. You rode it again, and again, and again, and again. Thankfully you weren't too big to ride the less upside down rides with mom, letting me clench your hand for courage (including on Dumbo, which will be one of the great memories of my life).

You love Lego, our WiiU, Cartoon Network shows, comic books, talking, rearranging my robots (even though I have told you a million times not to touch them), riding your bike, all the PG-13 movies I won't let you see despite your begging, any weapon, any imaginary weapon, and imaginary play where you're a sniper or soldier.

Happy seventh birthday, Baby Bear. Your mama loves you. 

Please stop touching my robots.