Sunday, 29 July 2018

Stomper in the Town

If you're following Little Hiccups on Instagram you would've seen our adventures this Summer finding Stomper statues around Oakland. I figured it was time I shared them all here on the blog as well. We've found quite a few of the Stomper statues so far, so prepare for a lot of fun photos. But first, a little background...

If you're not familiar with the Oakland A's then you're probably wondering just who Stomper is and why there are statues of him around town. Stomper the elephant is the mascot of the Oakland Athletics (or simply the A's) baseball team. This year the A's are celebrating fifty years in Oakland and as part of the celebration they have teamed up with local artists to bring the Stomper in the Town exhibition to the streets. Fifty Stomper statues decorated by fifty artists can be found dotted around Oakland. From the port to the hills, from the northern border with Berkeley all the way down to the Oakland Zoo, Stompers can be found all over. Intrepid Stomper hunters, like us, can download the Stomper in the Town map and checklist (or pick one up from Visit Oakland in Jack London Square) and head off on a city wide treasure hunt. 

We've spread out our treasure hunting over the Summer, and so far of the fifty Stomper statues on display we've made it to thirty four. The statues will be on display until the end of the current baseball season, so we still have time to make it to the rest - fingers crossed.

Here's a look at the Stompers we've found so far. I've put them in the same order here that they appear on the numbered Stomper in the Town map and list.

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Middle Harbor Shoreline Park, Oakland

If you're following along on Instagram you would've seen that the kids and I have been on the hunt for Stomper the elephant statues around Oakland. I have a post coming up next with all the Stomper statues we've found so far (about 35 or so), but today I wanted to share a park that we came across during out hunt for a particular Stomper.

Over the weekend we decided to go for a drive to find a few of the Stomper statues that the girls and I haven't been able to get to on foot. We visited a few, snapped some photos and headed off to the next one. However, when we made it to the Captain Stomp statue right on the waterfront we knew that we had to stop a little longer and spend some time exploring the surrounding park. 

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Big Break Regional Shoreline

Recently we've been getting out and about exploring "new to us" Bay Area parks on weekends.

We're really lucky to have so many amazing and varied parks within such a short distance of our home. Beaches, rivers, mountains, cliffs, redwood forests... there's a little bit of everything. With so much shoreline along the San Francisco Bay and its tributaries, there is no shortage of picturesque water front parks to visit. What could be better than visiting a waterfront park on a Summer's day?

This past weekend we visited Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley. Big Break is located in the California Delta, a 1,150 square mile area where fresh water from the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers meets saltwater from the ocean. The Delta is the largest estuary on the west coast and is home to a large variety of fish, birds and mammals including beavers, river otters, muskrats and mink. It's also home to cool Delta breezes which were much appreciated on this hot day!

Despite the size of the Delta, the shoreline park is relatively small and makes for a great afternoon destination. There is an informative visitor center filled with interactive displays, picnic areas, an amphitheater, a kayak launch, a shaded sand play area, a small hiking trail and an observation pier perfect for fishing or taking in the views. 

Sunday, 15 July 2018

3 Ingredient Chocolate Ice Cream

It's National Ice Cream Day today!

To celebrate I'm sharing a super simple, yet super scrumptious ice cream recipe that Ava made a while back. It only takes three ingredients and you don't even need an ice cream maker. It really doesn't get any easier!

Most of these photos Ava actually took herself with my camera set up on a tripod as she planned to make a video to share on her YouTube channel. She hasn't gotten around to making the video yet so I'm hijacking them for my blog for now. I'll make sure to share her video when she gets around to finishing it.

As I mentioned, this recipe if super simple and only needs three ingredients - which you may have in your kitchen right now. This recipe is for chocolate ice cream, but you could always switch out the chocolate for any other flavor you might like to add. I'm not normally a fan of chocolate ice cream, but this is so good. It's seriously one of the best chocolate ice creams I've ever eaten!

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Flower Piano 2018

It's that time of year again when the most peculiar "flowers" pop up all over San Francisco Botanical Garden. Large, musical flowers that draw crowds of children and adults alike. 

I'm talking about Flower Piano, the annual event, now in its fourth year, that pops up to delight garden visitors and music lovers. Over twelve days twelve different pianos make the Botanical Garden their home. Visitors can have a turn at playing these pianos for themselves or listen to performances from professionals and talented visitors alike. 

Lola, Mathilde and I headed to the San Francisco Botanical Garden on Thursday to check out this year's event.

4th of July 2018

Ahh... Summer break!

That time of year when I think I'm going to be able to play catch up on the blog because I'm not running backwards and forwards between school and kid activities all day. Ha! With three kids home all day (and still plenty of kid appointments and activities to attend) I think I'm even busier than usual. But I'm making it a priority to catch up on the blog because I have a ton of fun stuff to share with you all.

First up let's take a look back at last week's 4th of July celebration...

As usual, we spent much of the holiday at the festival at Berkeley Marina. We ate corn dogs, went on pony rides and bounce houses, made animal friends in the petting zoo, watched some fun performances, and soaked up all the red, white and blue spirit of the day. Oh, and took a ton of silly photos! 

Friday, 29 June 2018

San Francisco Pride Parade 2018

Last Sunday was the day that Lola had been counting down to for weeks. It was the Pride Parade!

Unlike other kids who had been counting down the days until the end of the school year, Lola had been counting down to her favorite day filled with color, fun and well, a few nudies. This year's Pride parade did not disappoint. There was plenty of color, lots of love and happy vibes, goodies for the kids and, yes, the odd nudie every now and then.

The girls dressed in rainbow attire and decorated their faces with rainbow zinc cream (protection and decoration all in one!) and then we hopped on BART to head into the city for the day.

The Pride Parade is always such a fun day out. I love that the whole city comes together to celebrate. We watched the parade for over four hours and in that time we saw people from all walks of life. Local companies featured heavily in the parade (and hand out a lot of goodies to the crowd) but there  were also community groups, schools, politicians, sporting groups, churches, activists, social clubs and, of course, nudists.

Let's take a look at some of the fun...

Saturday, 23 June 2018

School's Out 2018

Today we're finishing up our first week of Summer vacation so I figured it was about time I shared the end of the school year here on the blog.

The last week of school was a big one for our family. It was Ava's last year of 5th grade and elementary school. It was also the last week that Ava and Lola will ever be at the same school together. Knowing that my oldest baby will be going into middle school in the Fall is daunting enough, but knowing that she'll never be at the same school as either of her sisters again is well, kind of a little sad. I went to a school that encompassed Reception (Kindergarten here in the US) through to 12th grade, so my younger brother and sister were always at the same school as me, even though my sister is eight years younger. My girls, on the other hand will go to three different schools for elementary, middle school and high school. Lola and Mathilde will have a few years together in elementary plus one year together in high school, but for Ava, that's it. No more sharing a school with her sisters.

As always, the last week of school was crazily busy. This year was even more so than usual with graduation celebrations for Ava including the 5th grade dance, the annual 5th graders versus the teachers kickball game, her big graduation ceremony and a grade wide picnic in the park. Lola and Mathilde also had end of year celebrations, which just happened to coincide with Ava's graduation ceremony, so that left me running around town like a crazy person! Or, you know, like my usual self! 

Of course, I was taking a gazillion photos at all of these events, or at least the ones that I was able to attend, so here's a look at our last week of school for 2018...

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Home Made Sparkling Jello

This post is sponsored by Sparkling ICE but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

Now that Summer is upon us the warmer weather has got me craving cold refreshing drinks. It can be so tempting to grab something sugary like soda, but we all know that isn't the best option, especially not for the kids. The kids drink an awful lot of water, which is great, but sometimes it's nice to be able to give them a sweet treat instead. This is where Sparkling Ice saves the day! All natural fruity flavors, vitamins, antioxidants and no sugar. It's flavored sparkling water at its best! With the new mystery flavor added to the range, it's also fun!

Everything is better when it's fun!

The kids were pretty keen to put their taste buds to the test and work out just what the Sparkling Ice mystery flavor might be. With no color and no clues on the label, the girls were stumped when it came to guessing the flavor, so we moved straight onto the best bit: tasting it.

Well, all three girls had completely different ideas about what they thought the mystery flavor was after tasting it, but there was one thing they all agreed on. It was delicious! Ava decided that it tasted like blue raspberry flavor. Lola said it tastes like "fake cherry, but a really good fake cherry. Not like medicine". Mathilde declared that it tastes like "strawberry mixed up in lemon, but it's too bubbly for me". Ha! To be honest, I feel like I could taste all those flavors when I tried it. The girls are onto something! Make sure to keep reading to the end for your chance to take a guess at the Sparkling Ice mystery flavor and win big.

Monday, 28 May 2018

Batteries to Bluffs Trail

After a grey and quite cool couple of weeks, the weather has really warmed up here in the Bay Area To make the most of the sun and the long weekend (and to celebrate my birthday) we decided to head to the Presidio in San Francisco and go for an afternoon hike.

I'm always a little embarrassed to admit that, despite living here for 6.5 years, we really haven't spent much time in this part of the city at all. This has mostly been due to the fact that we didn't own a car for such a long time, and it takes a long time to get to the Presidio by public transport from Berkeley. Now that we have a car for weekend adventures I'm keen to get out and explore more of this beautiful city as much as possible - especially now that the weather is nice.

Ava and I have been feeling a little under the weather this past week, so while I would've loved to take a long hike along the coast line I figured it was best to take a short hike for now. I checked out the hiking trails in the Presidio and the Batteries to Bluffs Trail jumped out at me straight away. At only 0.7 miles (1.1km) I knew that it would be an easy hike for the kids (they walk further to school each day), and with the beach at the end, there was definitely an incentive to get them moving!

Monday, 21 May 2018

Maker Faire 2018

This past weekend we attended Maker Faire, one of my favorite events of the year.

Have you been to a Maker Faire before? It's such a fun event. This was our 6th year in a row attending Maker Faire and it was just as fun as always. There was so much to see, do and experience with amazing displays, hands on creating and fun rides for big and small.

As always, we didn't manage to see all of Maker Faire in just one day, and while I'd love to spend two full days there to try and experience everything it does get a little overwhelming for the kids after a full day. Maybe once Mathilde is older we'll start going for the whole weekend. Side note - Mathilde has been to every Maker Faire since she was born! This was her 5th Maker Faire and she only just turned four. She wasn't even a month old the first time she attended! I wonder if she's the youngest ever attendee.

While we didn't get to see everything at Maker Faire, what we did see (and do) was a lot of fun. Let's take a look...

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Mathilde's Wild Kratts Birthday Party

I feel like I've been starting every post with this lately, but here I go again...

I've been a little behind here on Little Hiccups, so it's time to play catch up!

Ok, when am I never behind? Between the kids' schedule, travel and writing for other web pages (which you can see here) Little Hiccups tends to get a little neglected. But my goal is to catch up so fingers crossed I can keep it.

Anyway, enough of that. Let's take a look at Mathilde's 4th birthday party from a few weeks back...

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Making City Adventures Easier with Good2Go

This post is sponsored by Good2Go but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

The kids and I spend quite a bit of time out and about exploring San Francisco. Exploring the city is one of my favorite things to do with the kids. We love finding new (to us) playgrounds and parks throughout the city  

I'm generally pretty prepared for our adventures in the city with bags of snacks, wipes, bandaids, tissues, toys, spare clothes... You know, all that stuff that moms find themselves carrying around. But there's one thing that I can't always be prepared with, and it's a big one. A bathroom! Our adventures in the city find us in a variety of different places, but there's one thing they generally have in common - no public bathrooms. And when there are public bathrooms available, well, let's just say that they're not always up to scratch. Finding a nearby cafe is my usual go to when the kids need a bathroom pit stop, but it's not always so easy, especially if I'm not familiar with the area - which is often the case. How do I know if the bathroom will be clean, or if they'll even have one. 

This is where the new app Good2Go, comes in super handy! 

Good2Go partners with cafes and retail spaces around the city to provide safe, well maintained and clean bathrooms for the community. Each bathroom is all-gender with a baby station and plenty of space for wheelchairs and strollers. The fixtures are all hands free so there's no need to worry about germs when opening the door, flushing the toilet or using the sink. And it's all controlled through your phone! It's a dream come true for parents out and about in the city with kids!

Recently Mathilde and I were hanging out in a (new to us) playground in the Mission District and I knew that she'd be needing a bathroom break soon. Wanting to be prepared, I pulled up the Good2Go app on my phone and found the nearest partner bathroom. What luck; it was just a short walk way in a nearby cafe!

Ever the tech savvy preschooler, Mathilde was excited to see how the Good2Go app works and press the buttons for me. The simple to use app brought up our nearest bathroom location and a big yellow button for directions. Mathilde pressed the directions button and our route was marked out for us. 

Mathilde was keen to follow the map right away, so we followed the directions on the map, and sure enough, a few minutes later we found ourselves at the cafe. See the Good2Go logo there on the sandwich board out the front? Mathilde was excited when she spotted it and pointed out that it matched the one on my phone! She can't read yet, but she sure is good at recognizing logos!   

It wasn't quite time for a bathroom break just yet, so we sat down with a delicious cookie and a chai latte. When Mathilde was ready I pressed the "Join Queue" button on the app. Now, if there were other people ahead of us the app would show us that we were in the queue and would alert us when we had reached the front. In this case, there was no one else ahead of us so we headed straight to the bathroom. 

Once you've reached the front of the queue, the app gives you a certain amount of time to make it to the door. If you don't happen to make it in time, the app will give you the option to rejoin the queue in your original place. Once you are within close distance of the door, the app will bring up a QR code "key" which can be used to unlock the door hands free. In our case, we were about 2 feet away from the door when the key popped up.

I placed my phone under the scanner by the bathroom door and the door unlocked and opened for us. The door then locked behind us once we had entered the bathroom. No hands needed! Not only is that good in terms of avoiding germs, but it made access with a stroller so much easier.

The bathroom was roomy with plenty of space for the two of us plus Mathilde's stroller. It was very clean and well stocked.  Everything from the toilet flusher, to the sink and hand dryer was automatic so there was no need to touch anything. Mathilde thought it was all pretty magical.

Even the door was hands free on the way back out again! Mathilde simply waved her hand in front of the sensor and the door opened back up for us. A magic bathroom indeed!

After our cafe and bathroom pit stop we headed back to the playground for a little more fun before hopping on Bart and heading home. 

Using the Good2Go app made finding a clean bathroom nearby super easy for us. We'll definitely be using it for future adventures in the city. As time goes by, more and more new bathrooms around San Francisco are being added to the program. Bathrooms that are coming soon are marked on the app and show up as grey, rather than green. I was pleased to see a lot of new bathrooms coming soon in locations all around the city.

Good2Go is available for both Apple and Android. You can find Good2Go onthe App Store here and Google Play Store here

Hooray for being able to find a clean bathroom when out with the kids. It really is the little things that make a difference to your day, right?

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Earth Day Festival of Colors

This weekend was a super busy one for our family.

If you're following Little Hiccups on Instagram and saw my stories this weekend you would've seen why. We had Cal Day (UC Berkeley's super fun and family friendly open day), a friend's birthday party, and an Earth Day Festival of Colors today at Ava and Lola's school. I'm exhausted just thinking about it all!

I have a lot of photos from the weekend to share, so let's start with the Earth Day Festival of Colors...

This was the third year that our school has held this particular event and it's always a lot of fun. The festival is based on the Indian Spring festival Holi and features yummy Indian food, a pedal powered mango lassi station, henna tattoos, making wildflower seed bombs, lots of fun Bollywood music, and Indian dancers. The highlight of the day is when all the kids, and the adults, get to throw colored powder at each other. It's so much fun!

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Magic Blooming Flowers for Mother's Day

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Parabo Press and contains affiliate links. 

Mother's Day is coming up in just over a month's time. Can you believe it? This year is flying away so fast! 

In preparation for Mother's Day the kids and I have been working on some small, personalized gifts to send to their grandmothers back home in Australia. Because we need to post our gifts half way around the world, we're a little limited in what we can make; for example, painted flower pots and home baked cookies are not an option. Rather than seeing this as a hurdle, I like to take it as a creative challenge and come up with a fun idea for the kids to work on. 

This year, our Mother's Day project actually comes courtesy of my kids. These magic blooming flowers are super simple to make but really make an impact. So what's magic about these flowers? Give them to a loved one with the petals folded in, pop them in some water and they magically bloom revealing a beautiful flower, perhaps with a hidden message inside! Ava and Lola have both made these at school before to celebrate Spring, and Lola often makes them at home. They're really so easy to make, and I've made it even easier for you with a printable template. Hooray for simple DIY projects!

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Easter 2018

It's been a week since Easter Sunday, but the kids and I have been away on Spring Break so I'm playing catch up today and sharing our Easter celebration with you. A little late, but better late than never, right?

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Macy's Spring Flower Show 2018

Every Spring selected Macy's stores around the country celebrate the coming of the new season with a beautiful flower show. San Francisco's flagship store is one such location for this display, and every year I make sure to check it out. This year's show is on right now, so Mathilde and I headed into the city to check it out.

Each year the flower show is based on a particular theme. This year's theme is "Once Upon a Springtime" and features magical fairy tale inspired displays with woodland creatures, a dragon, knights, a castle and a big pink throne for visitors to sit on. The displays are mostly located on the first floor through the cosmetics and accessories departments, and change from Winter to Spring as you walk through the store. 

Let's take a look...

First up, Mathilde and I checked out the window displays on O'Farrell and Stockton Streets. Mathilde was captivated by the cute creatures hidden among the toadstools and flowers. The corner window contains a giant book and a waterfall, but given the harsh sun during the time we visited I was not able to capture this well in a photo. You'll just have to go see for yourself!


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