Toddler YouTube Storytime: “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt”

“We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” by Michael Rosen

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Best Gymnastics Classes in Orange County

Wildfire Gymnastics (Tustin and Lake Forest, CA)

The gym itself is huge and has tons of awesome equipment, that even the parents would love to jump around on.  The long trampoline, the foam pit, the regular trampoline, etc. really make this place one of a kind.  The teacher for the Parent and Me class in the evenings is engaging and so sweet.  The facilities are somewhat distracting for our toddler, with so many other students of all levels running around, in what is very organized, but also makes it hard for our toddler to resist not running off.

We’ve been to a 4 year old’s birthday party there though and it was great.  They have teachers who lead the kids in different activities interspersed with some free time for them to run around.  They are careful not to let any accidents happen.  Upstairs, they had the tables set up for the pizza, cake, and presents.  The kids looked like they had a lot of fun.

Monkey Business (Lake Forest, CA)

Miss Lynne is an excellent gymnastics coach, especially for the little ones with shorter attention spans and maybe a loose idea of queues, following directions, and going with the flow.  She gives the parents guidance and makes structured obstacle courses that teach the kids balance and practices their physical movement skills, but also emphasizes manners and the rules of society, like waiting their turns, moving in the same flow of traffic, and saying please and thank you’s.  It’s a much calmer environment than Wildfire with only one age group or class at a time, and Miss Lynne is very conscious of protecting their heads and necks from getting injured when doing different moves, like somersaults and cartwheels.  We took a tumbling tots class through the community center at Irvine Heritage Park and it definitely wasn’t the same thing.  The teacher was more rough and less concerned with protecting their little necks when they were tumbling.  It was a bit disconcerting.  Anyway, we love Miss Lynne.  There is very low turnover, which is unusual for kids classes, I’ve found, and it’s been great to see the same kids in her class get bigger and have those familiar faces around.

Cal Elite Kids

We only went to an open gym (from 12 to 1 pm, if I remember correctly), and got to peek around and try some of the equipment.  It was okay.  It was too far for us coming from the Irvine area, and the area wasn’t as nice.  It was surrounded by auto repair shops and whatnot.  I felt that, after looking at the pics and reviews online, that it would be a lot nicer than what I saw when we were there, that it was a bit of a disappointment after being to Wildfire, Monkey Business, or Waterworks Aquatics.  I don’t think we will be going there, but it might still be worth checking out if you live close to Rancho Santa Margharita.

TIL Pritzker Architecture Prize is Architecture’s Most Acclaimed Honor

Condos designed by Pritzker Prize winners sell for 44% higher (price/square foot) than those in their respective neighborhoods, and 47.5% higher than the Manhattan market average.

I.M. Pei, who was chosen as the 1983 Laureate of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, turned 100 years old today.

[Photo credit to Alexey Sergeev]

Latest Sunscreen Haul: It’s My Addiction

Arsenal

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That is all.

Best Baby Wrap and Carrier

Like sunscreen and strollers, I became obsessed with finding the best and most comfortable baby wrap and carrier when baby girl was younger.  I tried the original ergo carrier and found it to be uncomfortable and too much material for it to be breathable or cool for the baby.

This was when eBay was our best friend.  We sold that carrier and after much research purchased a Lillebaby carrier.  It had a mesh material that would hopefully keep baby and mom cool in the stifling heat, and an ergonomic shoulder/back strap.  This carrier, however, was as uncomfortable as the original ergo.  The torso length was far too long and the ergonomic strap was pretty pointless and silly-looking with my outfits.  It was also difficult to carry baby for long periods of time as she got heavier and the mesh material felt rough and scratchy against baby girl’s skin.  In paparazzi photos though, Liam Helmsworth and Ryan Reynolds were both seen wearing a Lillebaby.  I think if you have a similar body frame as those guys, it might be more comfortable, than on someone as short (5’4″) as myself.  It is designed by a Scandinavian company, isn’t it?

Anyway, after much persuasion and arm-twisting on my part, we then sold the Lillebaby and got the ergo 360.  Although this was an improvement on the original ergo and the Lillebaby, it didn’t take more than 40 minutes before my hips, shoulders, and back would start aching.  If baby girl finally fell asleep when I wore it around the house, and I wanted to put her down to bed, I’d leave the room and then undo the giant Velcro waist strap as to not wake her.  The Velcro strap was pretty annoying too because you couldn’t make minor adjustments easily once you had the baby in the carrier.  This is a a major dealbreaker.  I am able to change the waist and shoulder straps throughout the time that I am wearing my toddler now with my Tula.   How tight or loose we want the straps changes depending on if she’s sleepy, how long I’ve been carrying her, and the activity.

In the end, I found two amazing carriers, one of which I still use to carry my 30 pound 2.5 year old toddler for more than an hour at a time, with hardly any discomfort:

Baby Tula Ergonomic Carrier – Urbanista – Baby:  I have no idea how, but all of the slight differences in various carriers, make a huge difference on your pain and stamina when wearing them.  I found the Tula carrier, after poring over countless blogs and forums about babywearing.  This carrier is the only one you will ever need to buy.  Don’t waste your money on the other ones.  We got the toddler size on Amazon.  She was around 18-19 pounds when we got it, and I was debating whether or not to get one, since she was already much older (almost 13 months), was walking, etc..  I regret a lot of stuff that we purchased when we had the baby, but this is not one of them.  I only wish I had gotten it from the beginning.  I am constantly using it.  Even now, when she is 2.5 years old, I bring it with me, when we take the train, go to the zoo, museum, on the plane, on vacation, etc..  I can easily carry her for an hour, without being uncomfortable or have any back, shoulder, or hip pain.  She weighs 30 pounds too and was a big baby from the start.  The Tula has so many cute designs too.

Solly Baby Wrap:  I follow them on Instagram and they honestly seem like really nice people and I love their story.  They are living the dream.  That’s reason enough to want to support their business.  However, their wrap is also pretty awesome.


I had a hard time picking one, especially when comparing it to the Moby wrap or the Boba, on Amazon, which have thousands of reviews, but I chose the Solly for a couple of reasons.

I read that the other ones are made of thicker material, and, in the dry heat of southern California, it’s important to pick one that is breathable and cool.  The Solly wrap is thinner, but stretchy.  They also focus on making ones with really cute colors and prints.  I also read that the Solly is much shorter in length, in comparison to the Moby, and that for more petite women, the Solly was much better suited.  We babysat one of my friend’s four month old a couple of months ago, and I was able to bust out my Solly wrap again, after not using it once our baby got much bigger, and it helped the baby fall asleep right away and kept him calm, despite being in a new environment.  I credit his unusually long naps that day to the Solly wrap.

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His mom had given me a clipboard to rigorously mark how long his naps were and details about his feedings.  She told me afterwards that his naps are usually much shorter, and was shocked to hear how long he had napped for that day.  When I dropped him off later that day, I lent her my wrap just in case.

It really is so freeing to be able to put your baby in a secure wrap, and to have your hands and arms free.  I couldn’t even get my own drink from the refrigerator pre-Wrap era.  I felt my independence come back that day my Solly wrap came in the mail.

Wearing a regular baby carrier is not as comfortable as a wrap in certain situations.  If you’re at home, doing housework, or walking around on the plane, you want to stay comfortable and as light as possible, and the Solly wrap is perfect for that.  I can thank my Solly wrap for not completely losing my sanity, when it became clear that the baby wanted to be held almost non-stop.

On vacation, I traveled with both the Solly and the Tula.  If the weather was more humid and sticky, I wanted to have the Solly and wear it instead of wearing a heavier carrier.  The Tula is great for when you want to put the baby down easily.  I recommend both brands though to all of my friends.

Açaí Bowls

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As a practitioner of BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) it’s impossible to avoid the topic of açaí, a Central and South American fruit known for its numerous health benefits.  Of course none of these benefits are verified by the FDA, but do a quick Google and you’ll see all sorts of amazing claims, from heart health, to weight loss, to aiding digestion — sounds too good to be true so it probably is, but they taste great and the concoction known as the “açaí bowl” combines a number of delicious and healthy goodies into an easy to eat, refreshing package.IMG_1581.jpg

The açaí is the purple portion you see at the bottom.  Usually sourced in frozen packs which are blended with juice to make what’s essentially açaí smoothie.  In this particular bowl that’s topped with granola, bananas, and strawberries.  Blueberries, coconut flakes, and honey are also common additions.  I think most açaí bowls also include guarana, which gives it a kick of caffeine.  This particular açaí bowl is from a Juice It Up! in Irvine. Açaí Republic in Tustin is also a great place to get these.

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If you want to try making one of these at home, check out Rener Gracie’s video on Youtube for some great ideas.  Short version:  blend the frozen packs with frozen grapes to make the purple base you see above and let your imagination run wild.  Raisins add a different texture, and fruits like papaya are a welcome addition.

Amafruits Acai Berry Puree – Pure & Unsweetened – 24 Smoothie Packs

Indoor Play / Exercise Area for Kids by Gorilla Gym

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The Gorilla Gym Kids Deluxe with Indoor Swing, Plastic Rings, Trapeze Bar, Climbing Ladder, and Swinging Rope is a genius idea.

Everybody has had the over the door pull up bar before.  This is an adaptation of that except its secured with different hooks and made so that it’s screwed in and stable.

It’s perfect for burning off unexpended energy on those rainy or sunny days when you can’t get out of the house.