4 Free Apps to Make your Work More Organized


It’s a new week, and today we are circling back on our weekly segment that brings you some fun and useful tips and suggestions to help you in your productivity and just everyday tasks. We are all busy at times and sometimes it helps to have a little helping hand to keep things organized, so this week we focus on 4 great apps to help schedule your tasks and your life a little easier. 


If you like having your projects all up in front of you in one place, Trello is a perfect app for you to look into. The best part is that its a free, and very straight forward to use. You group your projects or tasks in boards, and it works for mobile and desktop, so you can go back and forth with ease. 


Do you work in a team environment? Do you have a group you belong to where you need to keep track of team projects? Slack may be a great app/service for your team. It provides real-time messaging, and you can group everything you need for a project in one place. All your files, conversations, tasks, etc can be found all in one place. No more hunting through email chains to find that pdf you need for the presentation. It’s a great one to try out. 


Similar to Slack in that it is geared for team focus, Asana is more of a project management app/service. The great thing I love about this app is that it allows you to view your tasks and projects in many different ways. Maybe you like seeing everything on a calendar as your default view, or as a workflow process, it gives you the ability to view as you want. Everything transfers in real time from the desktop to mobile app, so no matter where you go you have access to your information. 


A great app to close off our post for today is the Monday app. Available for desktop and mobile, Monday makes you “Mondays” a little easier. As a team you can view all your tasks as a timeline and check things off in real time. Plan your workflow quickly and easily and keep all the communication about a project all in one place. 

So, there you have it, 4 quick suggestions to help make your schedule a little more efficient and productive to manage. Here’s to a fun and productive work week for everyone.


Easter Around the World: France

easter traditions

Spring brings many fun events and activities for the whole family. The winter is coming to a close and families around the world are getting out more to enjoy fun activities together. This time of year though the buzz is always about Easter. This year, we decided to explore and learn many of the various traditions the happen around the world as Easter is celebrated. The kids and I love so many things about France that for our first experience we dove into all things French. So, with bunny-guides in tow, we started on a path of exploring the traditions.

The girls and I decided to have a little fun and go to one of our favorite French shops, and we brought along some old and a few new friends, but before we bunny-hop to the fun photo-story, here are a few things about French Easter traditions that we thought were interesting to learn!

France is a county that has a rich Catholic history, and as such their Easter traditions center around this. Over the years, other western influences have entered in such as the Easter Bunny, but by far the emphasis is not on it as you often see in the US. One fun note that I am slightly jealous of it that with many of the Holidays in France, three days are allocated to the Easter Holiday to allow the people to celebrate properly.

In the weeks that lead up to Easter, you get to see shops and homes decorated with light and dark chocolate eggs, bunnies, chickens, bells, and fish, and on Easter morning, children wake up with the anticipation to go in search of Easter Eggs hidden throughout the house and the yard. Inside the eggs children find chocolates and other little gifts.

Another tradition that still remains today is Cloche Volant or the Flying Bells. This tradition started in the early days of the Catholic church where the people would ring the bells to send their grief and prayers towards the Vatican in memory of the crucifixion of Christ. No bells would ring in the churches until Easter morning, and with them lots of chocolate and eggs would be brought to celebrations among the people.

Also, a fun little tradition as well that began centuries before is the contest of rolling raw eggs down the sloping streets. The egg that survived was deemed the winner and it was a symbol of the rock rolling away from Christ’s Tomb Easter morning. Children love playing this game with their peers and parents get into the fun as well. I think we may try this one ourselves this year! Should we? What do you, guys, think?

No matter where you are, Easter is a time for everyone to gather and celebrate.

Just in time for Easter as well, our friends over at Apple Park was very generous to extend a site-wide discount of 20% to all LivingNotes readers! Just enter the code: LN20 at checkout. We LOVE all our Apple Park original and organic toys and clothes, I don't have enough time to reply to all questions I am asked about them. If you want to see some of our other fun photo stories with them, you can find them here .

Stay tuned for our next country exploration, and Happy Easter everyone! Did we come close to the French traditions exploration?







Back to Basics: A Little Winter Skincare Secret


*This post is done in partnership with Olay, but all opinions are my own.

Back to basics today, a little fun, and a little beauty talk. With the winter months in full swing though, that adds another level to the toll on our skin. I may not be dealing with the bitter cold out here in Southern California, but we do get a drop in humidity, so I still see the change. Especially during this time of the year we sometimes need a little something extra.

Olay recently released their Olay Whips line of products. If you remember, I’ve talked about the benefits of the Regenerist cream. Let’s talk about some of the newest benefits of Olay Whips Regenerist.

So, what’s the difference here, and what is all the buzz about with this new line of Olay Whips? All of you know that I like to really look into everything that I put on my skin. After all, the skin can absorb certain particles into the body’s bloodstream, so I am always careful pay attention to the ingredients. For Olay Whips, it comes down to two key innovations in the formulation:

Active Rush TechnologyTM: This is a unique formulation that Olay has developed that holds 1000 times its weight in hydration and releases the ingredients to let you feel a difference from the moment you put it on, continuing throughout the day. The key thing for all of us, and our skincare routine is that it isn’t about how heavy the cream is that determines if it is better during the winter months, but it’s all about how much hydration it really provides.

Instant Absorption: The magical part of the Whips line when you put on the cream is it starts to work with the natural salts in your skin to get immediately absorbed, and leaves your skin residue free, unlike many of the other creams I have tried in the past, even those that carry a much heavier price tag!

What a difference this really makes, you can feel it right away as you put it on!

I won’t dive right now into all the facts behind the Regenerist line, but if you want to see all the details you can see my other post here. For the Whips version, The best part about the cream is that is effortless to use and add into my routine. I smooth it on just after I wash my face in the morning and at night after I clean off my makeup. It feels so light, almost like putting nothing on, and it is such a refreshing feel. I’ve tried many moisturizers, but this is definitely a welcomed change compared to other creams that leave a feeling of an extra layer on top of my skin.

I love that I can use a cream that provides as much hydration and protection as this does and is still be very easy on the budget too. Since I started using it just in the last couple of weeks, I seen more plump and radiant skin, and you guys have been commenting on it too. For the photo story this time I tried a few creative ideas that I think you will like, and I had the cutest little assistant to join in the fun. I hope you enjoy.

Have any of you tried the other moisturizers from the Whips line? I’ve loved Regenerist, but I’m sure the others are fantastic as well. Let me know your thoughts!


A Teen View From San Francisco Part 1


*This post is done in partnership with Uber

Justin chiming in here today. It isn’t everyday that Nikola and I get a chance to go somewhere just the two of us. When the opportunity comes we try to make the most of it. We recently had a chance to head back up to San Francisco and Nikola and I decided to make it a little day trip together. Rather than me calling the shots I had Nikola point out some of his favorite spots from when we were there, and the nice thing was that being able to use Uber for our skipping around made things so much simpler to not have to worry about parking in the city. So, here is a brief look into some of the best places SF has to offer, especially from the eyes of a teenager.

North Beach/Little Italy

Almost immediately Nikola mentioned to head on over to Little Italy and you see why in just a moment. It was just a quick drive over from the airport and we were right in the middle of the activity of the neighborhood. Fortunately for us it was a nice clear day, a rarity this time of year, so we made the most of it.

Right away our first stop was to head over to Liguria Bakery. While it’s appearance may appear understated, this is actually one of the most popular spots for Italian Focaccia Bread in the whole city. Being family-owned and operated since its opening, Liguria Bakery sells all different varieties of focaccia, everything from mushroom, rosemary, to pizza style. Once you have a piece of one you will know why you want to get there early in the day. We arrived just about 11 am and they already had sold out of most of their varieties.

Nikola loves to read, so, our next stop was to head over to City Lights Booksellers. This is actually one of San Francisco’s most well-known book shops for its ties with history and the Poet’s revolution many years ago. When you go inside you can see clippings from that era where the store was proudly selling books that the government had deemed to be “banned books” at the time. Now you can be treated to wealth of literature and interesting writing, and downstairs is jam-packed with all varieties of children’s and teen literature.

Heading out after checking things out we made sure to stop by Z Cioccolato, a mini heaven of candy! What teenager wouldn’t want to be sure to stop by :), and finally landed at one of Nikola’s favorites for some lunch at Tony’s Napolitana and their Slice House to grab a couple of slices to go.



After a quick recharge from the Pizza we requested an Uber ride to go down the hill to Fisherman’s Wharf. There were a couple of places Nikola wanted to stop by. The first being Musée Mécanique, an arcade of classic and antique-style games. You will never find anything quite like it anywhere. Inside it is filled with all sorts of historical arcade/amusement park games. Try your strength at some of the strength machines, have your fortune told, or even play a little air hockey. They have it all and more to spare. Definitely worth the stop while you are in the area, and with most machines only requiring 1 quarter, a few dollars will get you plenty to have fun with.

Our next stop was to head over to the San Francisco Maritime Museum down at the Hyde St Pier, but first we made sure to grab a little shrimp cocktail from one of the street shops just outside Musée Mécanique. If you are looking for some tasty seafood, this is definitely a must stop section. We have always just purchased our selections from the street-side vendors, but if you want a more robust meal, the restaurants connected to the vendors offer plenty of delicious options. The other fun thing is hearing all the shop vendors calling out to each other saying whose food is best, all part of the fun of the area.

We got over to the Hyde St Pier, and here you can see and explore several historic ships that are maintained and preserved in the harbor. It’s a nice little stop and if you just want to take a look from the outside is completely free. You can also try your hand to see how the ship pulley systems work from some of the side exhibits in the area.

One other quick note, if riding a cable car is on your bucket list when you visit SF, this is definitely the spot to get on, rather than fighting the crowds in Union Square. All the cable cars stop at the end of Hyde street, which is at the west end of Fisherman’s Wharf, and there usually are much fewer people and shorter lines to get on.




Next on Nikola’s list was to request an uberX to go over to Marina for a few of his favorite stops. The first one being probably one of the best kept secrets in the city, and that is Les Marais Cafe and Bakery. Having been to Europe Nikola still loves coming here for some of the best tasting croissants you ever have. They also make some of the best cappuccinos you’ll find, so it’s a win/win all around. They now have another location over in the Castro district and soon a French-themed market, but I’ll cover those in another guide.

Coffee craving fixed, we made a quick stopover in Lucca’s to pick up one of the best sandwiches you can have made here in the city. Luckily for us the line wasn’t too big. The main event in the area for today though was definitely for the some Ice Cream. Nikola made sure we stopped into Smitten Ice Cream, where the ice cream is made right in front of you, quite literally using liquid nitrogen. It’s crazy to think that founder started just a few years ago selling her creation out of a wagon and it caught on fast. People love coming to get not only some tasty ice cream, but also because it’s probably some of the best ice cream with no added fillers of preservatives. Everything is made fresh right in front of you.

After the ice cream fix we had a little more time to spare before we needed to head back to catch our flight, so we requested another ride to drive a little further down to get to Crissy Fields. The objective: Rock Climbing! We also tried to go over the House of Air, which is filled with all sorts of trampolines for kids and adults, but they had their main portion closed. Still, though we found a cool timeline that shared some of the history of the area, so Nikola thought that was pretty neat as he hadn’t seen it before.

The main event though was to step in for a little rock wall climbing fun at Planet Granite. Being set up inside one of the old military warehouses, there is plenty of room for the many different climbing walls to choose from. Ever since he was a little kid, Nikola always loved finding places to climb, and Planet Granite is one of the funnest places to choose. If you are in the area and looking for some good climbing fun, it’s definitely worth coming a bit out of the way to check it out.

Well, as it always does, the time flew by and it was time to head back to the airport, so we requested our last Uber ride for the day and headed back to catch our flight. It’s really nice that we have the option to ride with Uber, especially when you travel. I still remember the times before when your only option was to either rent a car or grab a cab. This saves so much money and especially time. I still remember standing on corners in New York trying to flag cab after cab.

The other nice thing for Uber from their driver-partner standpoint is that they offer people a nice flexible way to earn money part-time. While riding with Uber I had the chance to talk with several of the driver-partners and one thing that they all shared in common was the flexibility and ease to earn some extra income while they work towards their goals. Many of them were in school working towards their degrees, or some where just starting out their careers and working their way up the corporate ladder. The app makes it easy to tip drivers that I have had a good experience with and give them a good rating, and if I ever have an issue, the Uber 24/7 support team is very responsive. I can handle everything right in the Uber App itself.

I hope you all enjoyed this quick little tour guide, and stay tuned for the next parts to come very soon!


Our Daily Food Routine with Elisey


I can’t believe that almost seven months have already gone by, and Elisey has just started popping his little teeth. For me, that means that it is time to start introducing some solid foods into his diet. It’s kind of sad, but also exciting at how fast he is growing. To me, it still seems like he should be this tiny little bundle. I like to make my own food for the babies whenever I can. I did that with the last few kids. This time around though I did things slightly differently.


You may have seen my Instagram Stories recently where I was talking about food allergies, and I did a quick poll. Thank you to everyone that participated and for those that didn’t, I’d love to get your input on this topic in the comments. It seems like every year this subject surfaces especially as I have had each one of our kids, and when other parents are at that same stage of starting to introduce foods. I also had a sensitivity to peanuts early on, so this topic really does hit close to home. Recently, when SpoonfulOne reached out to partner together to bring some awareness to the challenges food allergies are creating, I thought it would be perfect timing.


For those of you who don’t know, here are some of the facts about food allergies:

  • 65% reported food allergy cases had no parental history of the allergy

  • There's a connection between dry, flaky skin and food allergies. About one third of children with eczema may also have food allergies

  • 90% of all food allergies come from the following 8 foods: milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soy. Sesame is also a rising concern. While breastfeeding is also an important deterrent for protecting the baby from infections and other types of sickness, it isn’t a perfect defense from food allergies.

So, what is it that we as parents can do to help prevent allergies altogether? The latest research is showing that if we start to feeding gentle servings of the main foods causing allergies early and regularly when babies first start eating solid food, the risk of developing an allergy is greatly reduced. This is what SpoonfulOne is all about.

It really was perfect timing that SpoonfulOne reached out when they did because I was researching the best way to start Elisey on solid foods in order to protect him from developing a future food allergy. I’m going the most scientific way now possible. SpoonfulOne is a daily food blend that have gentle servings from all 8 of the main allergy-causing foods along with Vitamin D to help put the baby’s immune health in check.

I’ve never documented the first time introducing the solid food, and I always wished later that I had. So, with Elisey I’m doing it all. We have a full-blown video and some pictures below. I can only imagine how fun it will be for his kids to look through these pictures years later, and sort or re-live these experiences with us. I’ll never forget Nikola’s face when we gave him his first taste of baby food. Guys, it was just priceless.

So, back to SpoonfulOne. It’s simple to use. Just use one packet per day and mix in with whatever food you are making. For us, we decided to make some steamed and blended carrots (a huge favorite of the all the other kids when they were small). As you will see Elisey was extremely curious at the orange mixture. :) And the verdict was a win, at least from what we could see. He kept asking for more and then tried to go for some playtime as well.

The important thing though, all fun aside, I am very excited about this new product from SpoonfulOne and the peace of mind it gives that I have something I can give my baby right now that will help to protect him from developing a food allergy in the future.

Enjoy the video and the photos! Do any of you have a food allergy or are concerned about allergies with your kids? I’d love to read your comments and messages on this.

*This post is sponsored by SpoonfulOne.  All views and opinions are my own and as always, I only partner with brands and companies that I love.


A Kitchen Competition with PB&J


*This post has been sponsored by The J.M. Smucker Company. I received product and compensation, but all opinions are my own.

I can’t believe that four years have already gone by since the last Olympic Winter Games. It seems like only yesterday that we were all sitting in our living room watching the figure skating competitions and Yeva and Nadya both came up saying how much they wanted to learn. Their excitement to learn and grow always makes me smile.

Just the other day I let the kids know that they would be able to see Team USA perform again soon, and one of the kids mentioned something about doing our own little competition at home. I thought it would be a great idea. Being in California though, jumping out to get into the winter feel isn’t the easiest thing, so the kids and I did a little brainstorming and came up with something that got everyone excited.

You guys have been seeing some of the fun recipes we have shared in recent posts with  Jif® and Smucker’s® PB&J, and just the other week I caught a really cute moment with Justin on the floor with the kids creating their own PB&J sandwiches. So we thought why not do our own sandwich competition, and of course with the Olympic Winter Games 2018 back in session we decided to give it a fun theme with our own “judge” to decide on our winners.

The great thing for me about the whole event was that I know the kids would have a great time, and they could share their team spirit, but also these PB&J recipes are helping to fuel my kids with the nourishment and support they’ll need to go for the gold each and every day just like Team USA athletes.

So we set off to get some fun accessories and made sure to get the medals for the winners, and we let the competition begin. Guys, I can’t tell you how much fun we had, and especially how our littlest member, the “judge” had a great time too. In the end, it really is all about bringing the family together.

I put the kid's recipes below with the instructions on how they made their own unique sandwiches below for all of you to have some fun making yourselves.  And when you’re on the go, grab an Uncrustables® premade peanut butter and jelly sandwich to fuel the inner athlete within you throughout the day!

I’m so honored to support a brand that is dedicated to the support of Team USA and its future athletes. Did you know that Smucker’s will make a donation to help future athletes achieve their Olympic dreams? Here are a few details about how we all can help with this great cause:

•     Smucker’s and Jif will donate $100,000 to the United States Olympic Committee to support future Team USA athletes.

•     The hashtag #PBJ4TeamUSA will go live just before the Winter Games 2018, and fans can spread the love by sharing a photo using #PBJ4TeamUSA showing your love for Team USA and America’s favorite sandwich, PB&J!

Here’s our fun photo story just below. Enjoy! I wish you guys could join in. If you did, which sport you choose? I declare that PB&J is an official sport on LivingNotes Blog. The winning recipes were:

PB&J Kabobs

Multi-Grain Bread (Cut into little triangles)

White or Sourdough Bread (Cut into little triangles)

Fresh Strawberries

Fresh Raspberries

Your favorite Jif Peanut Butter Spread

Smuckers Strawberry Jam or Fruit Spread

Party Skewers/Toothpicks

Preparation: Spread a little peanut butter on the multi-grain bread and place half a strawberry on top, then place your white bread triangle with a little jam or fruit spread on it and top with a fresh raspberry. Place the party skewers/toothpicks over the top and serve!

PB&J Fruit and Berry Wraps

Your favorite style of flatbread wraps cut into 5” x 7” rectangles (Usually half of the flatbread)

Your favorite Jif Peanut Butter Spread

Smuckers Strawberry Jam or Fruit Spread

Fresh berries

Fresh grapes

Party Skewers/Toothpicks

Preparation: Place your flatbread piece in front of you and spread some peanut butter on one half and the jam on the other half. Sprinkle diced up pieces of berries on the peanut butter and then roll the bread up from the peanut butter side. Once rolled slice into 1-inch sections and top with a few grapes on the Skewers/Toothpicks and serve!

Animal Critter PB&J Sandwiches

Your favorite sliced bread (The denser the better)

Your favorite Jif Peanut Butter Spread

Smuckers Strawberry Jam or Fruit Spread

Cookie Cutters in animal shapes

Fresh Grapes or Blueberries

Party Skewers/Toothpicks

Preparation: This is a fun one for little kids to make. Simply make your PB&J sandwich as usual and use the cookie cutters to carefully press out the animal shapes. Peel off the extras and use the Party Skewers to top with the grapes or blueberries. (Kids love using the berries to make eyes of the animals) Serve and enjoy!

If you also want to see some more creative and fun recipe ideas you can head over to


Enjoy the photo story!


When in San Francisco: A Trip to the Cable Car Museum

San Francisco's cable cars are a tourist attraction and city's signature feature. But how much does a regular person really know about the origination of cable cars? Since the Cable Car Museum was on the way to Tony's Pizza in Little Italy, it's a perfect detour to explore a little deeper.

The museum is housed in the building that's the heart of the cable car system, where you can watch the cable-winding machinery in action from an elevated gallery and then go downstairs to see the moving cable passing through a series of "sheaves" as it enters and leaves the building. The museum appears to be small, but do not let it be a down point - it is bursting with interesting information.

Here are a few interesting facts for your entertainment and a little photo-report.

*** Andrew Smith Hallidie tested the first cable car at 4 o'clock in the morning, August 2nd, 1873, on Clay Street, in San Francisco. His idea for a steam engine powered - cable driven - rail system was conceived in 1869, after witnessing horses being whipped while they struggled on the wet cobblestones to pull a horsecar up Jackson Street. As the story goes, the horses slipped and were dragged to their death.

*** Hallidie's father was an inventor who had a patent in Great Britain for "wire rope" cable. Hallidie immigrated to the U.S. in 1852 during the Gold Rush. He began using cable in a system he had developed to haul ore from mines and in building suspension bridges.

*** By 1920 cable cars had spread to London, England, where electric varieties operated through the city centre. These cars were usually double-deck rather than single-deck.

*** Unfortunately, due to the rise of automobiles between the Thirties and Fifties, cable cars began to be replaced by buses and cars. By 1955 there were no cable cars left in London.

*** Due to increased fuel prices and population growth, cable car systems have recently made a comeback, with new systems installed in major cities such as Houston and Washington DC.



Babywearing while pregnant is along the same lines as playing sports. When you are used to wearing your baby regularly, your strength and stamina increase accordingly. But it's not something you'd take up suddenly on a whim when you're 25 weeks along. However, if you are used to carrying your toddler before the pregnancy, two lines is do not sentence you to the couch and do not require to put your life on pause, and unless you have medical complications,  it is generally safe to carry on doing the same carry methods with the same carrier that you used before. You may need to switch to back carry or side carry when belly pops, as this will be helpful especially with a bigger toddler.

When you have a well designed carrier, there is less chance of your body having to compensate for weight displacement. Your toddler is held in close to your rapidly-changing centre of gravity, and there is little strain on your back and body. I found that from sling carriers, Sakura Bloom is great for carrying a toddler ( side carry is my preference), and Stokke MyCarrier for structured carrier is yet to be beat for comfort ( used it with my last two babies, including two pregnancies for the back carry - fantastic weight distribution).

Few things to consider:

*ask your healthcare provider if any doubts

*use common sense & listen to your body: pregnancy is not the time to be heroic or experimenting with unknown; if you are tired - let your toddler walk for a bit, don’t strain

*ensure you have a good carrier : this will define a 100% success or 100% failure in baby wearing

*do your research - there are many baby wearing support centers that will educate and assist moms for free. google one in your area and take a class; often talking to moms who experienced baby wearing during pregnancy can be very helpful

*have fun and enjoy this special time with you toddler. before you know it, they will be up and running away from you waving “bye, mommy!” as they skip and hop to their first day of school.

Great source for benefits of babywearing.


Можно ли носить ребенка в слинге во время беременности - один из самых часто-задаваемых вопросов. Ответ на него простой: да. НО. Как и со спортом, беременность - это не время для постановки рекордов или резких новых изменений. Если вы абсолютно не носили ребенка на руках до беременности, гордо надевать слинг или другую переноску в 25 недель - это не самое разумное решение. Но в то же время, если вы прекрасно справлялись с малышом до, две полоски - это не приговор лежать на диване и поставить жизнь на паузу, и если у вас нет медицинских противопоказаний, бы можете продолжать носить малыша в слинге в удобном для вас положении. Возможно со временем вам придется поменять положение - лично для меня, например, положение В БОК или НА СПИНЕ были и есть самыми удобными, когда начинает расти пуз.

Если у вас хороший слинг или переноска, то ваше тело не будет ощущать тяжести и вес ребенка равномерно распределяется. Так же, при правильном положении в хорошей переноске, ребенок находитя близко к вам, и его и ваш центры тяжести совмеваются, помогая избежать того самого - ах! спина! - ощущения. Моим любимым из категории слингов по сей день является Сакура Блум, и ни одна структурированная переноска не побила еще Стокке по комфорту и легкости использования ( я пользовалась этой переноской с последними двумя малышами и во время последних двух беременностей, нося деток на спине - просто замечательное распределение веса , и ничто нигде не жмет)

Несколько важных моментов:

* посоветуйтесь с вашим врачом/аккушеркой, если у вас сомнения;

* используйте здравый смысл: беременност - это не время ставить мировые рекорды или что-то кому-то доказывать; если вы устали, дайте малышу пройтись пешком, пока вы отдыхаете.

* обязательно используйте очень хороший слинг или переноску, это и есть залог 100% успеха или 100% провала при ношении малыша.

* проведите свою личную домашнюю работу на эту тему. сегодня существует масса центров помощи новым мамочкам - найдите такой в вашем раионе, походите на занятия; очень часто очень полезно поговорить с более опытными в данном вопросе мамами, они могут поделиться своими секретами.

* наслаждаитесь временем, когда вы еще можете носить вашего малыша на руках. Вы не успеете моргнуть, как услышите Пока, Мама! аккомпанируемое сверкающими пяточками, когда ваш малыш будет бежать в школу 1го сентября.


KinderCare with Love and Fun


*This post is done in partnership with KinderCare

Today I’m talking about a subject that I get asked about all the time, and that is whether or not I have help or if I take kids somewhere during the day. Fortunately for us, we are able to have kids with us throughout the day and we can trade back and forth as needed, but that wasn’t always the case with us, and it is also a challenge for many parents as well. Really early on when we only had Nikola, and both Justin and I were still in school, we actually did need to find an option for Nikola that would give a few hours of time being watched while we both fulfilled our school and work commitments.

However, it wasn’t as simple or easy to find an option that we both liked. Maybe it was that we were so new to being parents, (I’m sure some of you can relate), or that we just weren’t as informed as it seems parents today are able to be, but we did struggle to find an option to care for Nikola at that time. We got through that period, and shortly after I was walking up to the mall in our area when I saw what many of you easily recognize as a KinderCare Building. It had the iconic white paint and red roof, and I was curious about it. We went inside and I was so impressed with everything that I learned. I was only a bit frustrated that we hadn’t found them before when we really needed that.

Later on, I still remember as if it was yesterday, it was time for Nikola to start Kindergarten. I don’t think any parent ever forgets that time when your child leaves from you for the first time. We actually were living in New York City at that time, and again it was a little bit of a challenge to find the right school that we liked. Fortunately we did find a great school, and it was so reassuring that the school itself actually offered a little after-school program. I noticed a huge difference in how much Nikola was learning and how excited he continued to be about going to school.

We were fortunate that we had that great program at the school, but not everyone has those options, and I would often get questions from parents about where I would recommend for childcare or extra learning. Over the years I when I would get those questions, I always remembered that KinderCare building I found early on. At the time when I first found them, I didn’t know they had other locations, but they actually have locations all throughout the US. So if you are reading this now, and you are looking for a good option, let me share a little more about who KinderCare is and what my thoughts are and have been since I first found them all those years ago.

KinderCare first opened its doors in 1969 with their now iconic red-roofed look. The goal was to provide an environment for working families to give their children a rich educational experience and grow. With programs ranging from infant to elementary education, there really is an option that can work for any young child. I really liked that as a parent there are many different options that work with kids of different ages. There are all-day programs for babies and school-age children. At most facilities, they have a dedicated bus that will take kids to their school and pick them up. And most importantly all the educators at each facility are there to fully support the children in an immersive learning environment. Even for parents that don’t need the childcare aspect of the program, there are still strong benefits with their after-school programs to help kids with their homework and stimulate learning with extra learning activities and guidance.

So, if any of you are looking for a good choice for full-time or part-time childcare or even just an engaging after-school program to enroll your kids in, the KinderCare programs could be a great option for you. They have centers in 38 states now, so chances are, there will be a learning center near you.

Sending your kids to school for the first time is never an easy thing for any parent, and if you have work or other commitments that make it difficult, it really is a comfort to know that places like KinderCare are there to help. I’m curious to know if any of you have also tried KinderCare before, what has been your experience?


Taking the Worry Out of Baby's Sleep

*This post is done in partnership with Fisher-Price who has given Sproutling to try for free and all opinions of Sproutling are 100% my own. #Ad*

Have you ever wondered how your baby is doing while they sleep? For all the moms out there, I’m sure that you can relate. Even after having seven children I know that I still find myself checking in on the baby to see that he is sleeping ok and that his breathing is normal. We may never want to talk about it, but all of us as parents worry about our children while they sleep, and it also helps to know how to make your baby’s sleep time a little better.

I’m sure you all know about the The Sproutling® Wearable Baby Monitor by Fisher-Price. It’s the monitor that the baby can wear during the sleep to check on sleeping habits. You can see everything about the baby as it relates to sleep and movements during sleep. Let me tell you a little more about it.


First and foremost, Sproutling is a convenient way for us to know how our baby is sleeping. I can’t tell you the number of times we will check on Elisey while he is sleeping, just to make sure he is alright. Babies go into these really deep sleep cycles at times and are so quiet, so it can be hard to tell just from a look. This is where Sproutling really shines for me. Its built-in sensor will let me know when he does actually fall into a true sleep cycle, and that his little heart is beating. This is also an essential point for any new mom, and it doesn’t matter if it’s your first baby or not, but particularly if it is so. Another item it will alert us to is if he does roll over. Of all the great little features, this one for me really is the most important. Rolling over is not just a milestone, but it is always important to check if the baby happens to roll during their sleep that they are still in a safe sleeping position. Who else is with me on that?


I’m not a tech girl. I have a team to take care of all the tech needs that we have. I love the cameras, but everything else is just too intimidating for me at times. I dared to try and set it up on my own simply because Justin wasn’t around, and the curiosity got the better of me. I have fully succeeded on my own, and that should tell you a lot. All I had to do was take it out of the box and put it on the wireless charger (included) and then download the app to get everything set up. From there it is just a matter of placing the monitor on the back of the baby’s ankle and going about the sleep routine as usual. It’s best to put it on when the baby starts showing signs of being sleepy and take off when the baby is awake. Sproutling will do all the thinking and tracking by itself. Here is another important factor: the more you use it, the more it picks up on your baby’s patterns, and it will give more helpful information.


This is where things get interesting. I thought it pretty intriguing to see all the little bits of information that the app delivers from the monitor, and the more I used the monitor, it updated and added to the information. You can see all kinds of tips that can help with putting the baby to sleep, and even to help predict when he will wake up based on his breathing and heart rate. So, gauge for the time you have and not be caught mid-task with the baby waking up.


Another thing I love about using the monitor is the ability it gives for us to have some time to ourselves, or feel more confident about getting a sitter to watch the baby while we go out. I know that I can check at any time to see when Elisey falls asleep and check on how he is doing and if the need does come up, I know that the sitter will be able to see the same things and attend to him as I would want them to.

Any new moms take note. Grandmothers, pay attention too. This is the side of technology that I love.

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San Francisco is known for being foggy quite often, but on a particular Wednesday afternoon in 2015 just before Elia was born, it was exceptionally foggy and a lot more wet and chilly then we would like it to be. Much as we love strolling the streets and spending hours in the parks, it was one of those very days when staying inside for a major portion of the day sounded more then a perfect idea.

It happens rarely, but I love those times: the phone is on silent mode; it is just me and the kids to play, read and have fun in our own little world. I had some fantastic new sets of HABA blocks on hand ( the very ones that kids were drooling over at the store displays and begging me about for months ) and the timing could not be more perfect: school year is ending, testing is in fool bloom and a moment for a reward and encouragement seemed to be due. I cannot express in words how touching and fulfilling it is to see children's sincere happiness. We spend good three hours building, learning, rebuilding masterpieces and creating all sorts of bridges. A few snaps will keep this moment alive for me forever. Take a peek if you like.


** a couple of new sets of HABA blocks and infinite amount of fun is guaranteed **


** that victorious moment of success **


** the tongue is a required part of concentration, wouldn't you agree? **


** the request for an architectural wonder from THE architect herself, who is not quite up to reading level yet **


** THE clear blocks - the very set that was admired since before Christmas. It's cherished like it's made of glass. I love it **


** my little scientist: not a moment passes without him explaining what works how and why. I never had an older brother, always envied my girlfriends who did, and I am so thrilled that we were blessed with a son as a first child **


** and since the youngest child was faithfully napping safely tucked away in his crib, we made use of the time with the small marbles **


**and right as E woke up the sun came out in the early afternoon, which meant it was time for a park run, but not without catching the rays reflecting through the blocks first. Because it was simply BEAUTIFUL. **

**FAQs - toys : haba blocks; kids are wearing Polarn O. Pyret, Tea Collection, Gap kids; my tee is from Anthropologie, jeans are JCrew and shoes are old Blochs. **



A little while back the lucky stars aligned for us: as we were passing by the Alcatraz tours booth we saw the "tours available TODAY" sign ( which never happens, by the way), so we didn't think twice , got in the line, and 30 minutes later we were on the boat cruising to one of the most coveted tourist destinations that we were dreaming of visiting for the entire time of living in SF.

A little background on Alcatraz:

Alcatraz Island is located in the San Francisco Bay, 1.5 miles (2.4 km) offshore from San Francisco, California, United States. Often referred to as "The Rock", the small island was developed with facilities for a lighthouse, a military fortification, a military prison (1868), and a federal prison from 1933 until 1963. Beginning in November 1969, the island was occupied for more than 19 months by a group of aboriginal people from San Francisco who were part of a wave of Native activism across the nation with public protests through the 1970s. In 1972, Alcatraz became a national recreation area and received designation as a National Historic Landmark in 1986.

Alcatraz History tours were designed to help introduce the rich history of Alcatraz during the penitentiary years and many of the inmates who called "the Rock" home. From the mid 1930's until the mid 1960's, Alcatraz was America 's premier maximum-security prison, the final stop for the nation's most incorrigible inmates. Today, Alcatraz is a place of contradictions, with a grim past and an enduring future as one of San Francisco 's most prominent landmarks and tourist attractions.

Walk with us in our "signature" picture-story. Although nothing can compare to listening to the story of Alcatraz as told by the inmates themselves through the audio tours ( highly recommend!) , I hope that the pictures below will transport you to the atmosphere that resides on the island.


** while she was anxiously awaiting for the boat to deck, certain someone very timely fell asleep : couldn't wish for better favor or behavior from him! **


** the first stop, orientation, small lecture and a map, of course! **


** i adore her face expression here! she seriously told me that she is reading the directions :) cannot not love 3 year old's point of view **


** directions all figured out, plan is set and we are off! **


^^that binoculars/phone in the pocket is everything. it comes EVERYWHERE wish us for the last 2 weeks ^^


** the architectural beauty is breathtaking. it is difficult to believe that the island served the purpose of the jail **


^^ the prison itself ^^


** your "tour" starts at the entrance, even before you get to the headphones location. this is the "reception" area for new inmates. this is where they changed and washed. zero privacy **


** audio tour check point. earphones are on , "start" buttons pushed at the same time, and you travel in time within seconds with the actual guards and inmates telling the story. amazing, seriously **


** the cell. 5'x7". not much. this was "it" - the living quarters, exposed and with zero privacy too **


^^ the cell for particularly difficult inmates. it had a door that locked in addition. no light. the dweller of this cell was only allowed out ONCE a week for a shower. ^^


** officers quarters. the most astounding part was to find out that the officers actually resided on the island itself. more so - they had homes and families here. children ran around the island that has the correctional facility for some of the most dangerous criminals. the children that grew up on the island however, have nothing but happy memories **


** the dining hall. it was one of the most dangerous areas of the prison with inmates free and together in one place, according to the officers. luckily, nothing too serious ever happened **


** once you left the building, you were greeted by beautiful nature, gorgeous architecture and breathtaking views of San Francisco which is mere 1,5 miles away from the island. a double punishment, as the music from the city was easily heard by the prisoners, but the deadly currents of the ocean would kill anyone who dared to escape , even if successful ( and there were attempts!) **


^^ got to be one of my favorite pictures of Evyianne: while we were so involved exchanging our thoughts and emotions from the trip, the little man woke up and clearly did not share our enthusiasm. but that's him through and through - never hiding an emotion that guy ^^


** my scarf and jeans are from Madewell, shoes are Blochs from years ago, but JCrew has similar ones ( and really comfortable too!) , the t-shirt is Free People, sun glasses are Karen Walker, blazer is Gap ( years old too); girls dresses are Tea Collection and Peek Clothing, Vasilisa's jeans are hand-me-downs from older sisters, and are from Gap as well as her hat, kids shoes are Saltwaters ( comfortable, cute and eternal, kids you not!)  and Birkenstocks for Nikola; backpacks are SoYoung ( our favorite, in case you cannot tell :)), and Evyianne is proudly riding in Bugaboo Bee 3 all-black edition, wool gray blanket is from Sprout SF. I think this covers all of the FAQs , but if there is anything else, don't hesitate to ask here or on Instagram! xo **



Living in the city with the kids is wonderful, but for sure takes a little bit of a "try-and-see-what-works-for-you” approach. City life is not for every family, for sure, and I know plenty of people that would rather live in suburbs, but after trying that in a couple of different areas, we quickly realized that we are very much the “city people” and would much rather sacrifice the living space over the vibes the city brings and the benefits it has included. I will cover the living space some other time, but here are a few things on how we get around with the “team” in the city.

One of the reasons I love living in the city is because it doesn’t require a car to have a fulfilling life, and in all honesty, for me personally , it is MUCH, MUCH easier to haul everyone across the city on foot then deal with the “car situation” : the car seats, the entertainment while in the car, the issues of carseats… and then there is parking and traffic - entirely complete problems of their own.


An absolute must for me in the city is baby gear in different shapes and forms. There is no question that a good stroller - or several , actually, has been my big key to happy sanity. We invest high in them because this is the major cause of whether I will love  life or hate every day of it. I found through experience that there is no ONE stroller that will fit your bill for every point encountered. City living can absolutely be done with just one stroller, but it is much more difficult that way, at least for me. Some days I  need something with a large basket, and on another day I need something small and compact, and then there are days where I need to be in 15 places at once at stroller is not an option at all.





On the days I know no public transport is involved in any shape or form, I pull out my trusty full-size stroller, where the baby can rest comfortably throughout the day and all the necessities can be carried in the basket. Whether it is a single stroller with a riding board attached, or a double with two full seats, depends on a few factors. If i know there will be a need for a nap, but no option for one at all, the double stroller serves as a carriage, a home-base and a bed , all in one. A narrow profile of the tandem style stroller gets you anywhere where a single stroller can fit, which is a plus. You loose some storage and encountering stairs may be an issue, which is a minus. A side-by-side double is easier if you have to go up or down the few stairs ( that many museums love to have) and your storage ability is typically more, but it may not fit into some of the city shops, and if you don’t have a subway , the bus drivers will not take you on unless you fold the stroller. But if you tailor to your day’s needs with the right stroller - it will run as smooth as can be, with babies being happy, rested and content, which is 80% ( if not all 100) key of a successful day.




For public transportation with the baby and strollers, situations vary depending on where you live. If you have a well-established subway system, as NYC or most European cities do - count your very many blessings. I miss NY subway daily. Even if there is no elevator for easiest access ( which NYC offers several stations with elevators and the few blocks of walking to and from are totally worth it, in my opinion!) , there is always someone willing to help when they see a mom with a stroller. For the cases when no one was around, the stroller that can “walk” the stairs by going into two-wheel mode was my life saver: i take the baby out, hold him/her in one hand, pop the wheels to close and just “walk” the stroller behind me, while having a toddler hold on to my jacket/finger/shoulder bag. Sure , you will not be skip-hopping down the stairs and need to take a little bit of time ( toddlers don’t walk fast ) , but it’s not a big deal at all. Once down the stairs, I would put everyone back where they belong, straps and all included, and wait for the train. IF the train is too full, we would skip one - 5 minutes don’t make a huge impact on your life , but it can be a tremendous life-saver for your sanity. Getting out by yourself with no help is the same process as getting in, but a lot easier, because you are walking up.

 If your subway system is limited or you don’t have one at all, buses/trolleys are the second best option, but it has some tricks to it. First of all, KNOW your laws and regulations, and don’t take anyone’s but written book’s word for it. For example, in San Francisco, strollers in UNFOLDED state are allowed by law and regulations ( they fall into (assistance category alongside with guard dogs and wheelchairs), and no driver can refuse you a ride. IF they demand you fold the stroller, they MUST provide a car-seat for your children to sit securely in. Otherwise, not only they cannot refuse the ride, they are supposed to come out , clear the path, and secure the stroller with belts provided in each bus. The only time they can refuse the ride is IF ALL the spaces are already occupied - believe me , that never happens. But this is not the story that some of the bus drivers will tell you. After a couple of years of dealing with some of the attitudes, we found that a compact, but still fully functioning stroller was a great solution for me - if a driver pulls an attitude and doesn’t want to lower the lift, ( which happened a few times) , i can easily pick up the small stroller up the stairs without any assistance and off we go.




Next in line come the carriers - I always have one in my bag or the stroller. I found that we have a need and use for 3 types : the sling, the wrap and the structured one. I also discovered over the years that babies have preferences and often those preferences change, so having all three on hand is a lifesaver and completely worth the price tag. Carriers are also a fantastic solution for when we are on the go with a single stroller and suddenly a certain someone needs a rest and we don't have time ( or ability) to sit down. I put the smaller child in the carrier, a bigger one in the stroller and everyone is happy, content and we are making it everywhere on time.




And last but far not least - the "need to be in 3 places at once" situation. Although San Francisco has cab and Uber services, and they are great, nothing saves you better from traffic jams then good old bicycles, two child seats and a couple of scooters. We use this method quite a bit, actually. Often I take some of the kids with me on scooters or/and in the stroller, and the others go with J on the bikes. We'll trade if one of us needs to be somewhere with no time to spare, and at the end of the day we just meet up after everything is done. We have three bikes and five scooters, but for daily use we figured that we can perfectly manage with two bikes ( because our oldest is practically my height! when did that happen?!) and three scooters: we attach an extra scooter when not in use to the rack on the back and pull it up when everyone needs some sort of a vehicle.

It is not always very convenient to carry the baby in one hand and be holding a toddler in the other, or ,when we meet up at the end of the day, to walk home pushing the stroller and bikes, and that is why Babyzen YoYo is unbeatable for us: it folds small enough to pass for just a regular bag, so we attach it to the bike and viola! you are were you need to be within 15 minutes, all traffic avoided and you still can have your sanity and not have to carry the baby everywhere you go all day long, unless ,of course, that is something you like doing and your baby will sit in the carrier all day ( ours won't - stroller is a must for us), and that's where baby carriers come in handy again.




We have a couple of rules that we stick to religiously. First - everything that kids want to bring they have to carry. Unless it’s a baby/toddler under 3, they are completely responsible for carrying their own toys/fun and that is why 99% of the time you will see our kids with backpacks - that’s the “magic chest” that has it all. Some days they are packed fuller then others and I try to somewhat control the contents and keep it light enough so that they don’t get tired, but this is where they have complete freedom of choice, and that is where they also learn about their own abilities. Lunches/snacks also go into individual backpacks. Of course, as a mom - naturally - I carry some of this or that too, so a good bag is a "must" for me always.

For getting out - the prep is the night before. We made it a rule early into marriage/parenting years that everything for the day ahead needs to be done the night before: toys packed, lunches pre-made as much as possible, baths taken, clothes selected and prepped, so that all it takes in the morning is getting up , washing/brushing, breakfast and off we go. The total time from out-of-bed to out of the door is under 40 minutes for everyone included, and but I always budget in another 30-40 minutes for a newborn up to 3-4 months. I don’t know that the magic is, but from birth to about 4 months is ALWAYS takes an extra 40 or so minutes to get out.



STROLLERS in the city:

Single full size with a riding board : Stokke Xplory, Bugaboo Buffalo

Double : Stokke Crusi

Compact : Bugaboo Bee 3 , Babyzen YoYo


Structured : Stokke MyCarrier

Soft Structured: Ergo Original

Slings : Sakura Bloom

Wraps : Solly Baby


SoYoung, Kanken, Skip Hop ( that double up as a little harness too - those little tiny feet can run way too fast sometimes!)


Petunia Pickle Bottom, SoYoung ( great for dads - J claimed Charlie as his bag from day one )


Public Bikes, Micro Scooters

One very last thing - here is what I found from my personal experience as well. While it may seem as “a lot of things to have”, when you live your life actively and to the fullest, it is important to have the carrier you love, the stroller that doesn’t make you feel like you are sick and tired of it, and for me personally, feeling “put together” does in fact, involve all the baby gear as well. And since we don’t have to spend $1500+ on gas and other things “car related”, it makes up with abundance for the ability to have a variety of styles/colors of baby gear things. Plus, it’s another little drop in the cup of trying to take care of our Earth.

So, there you have it - our tips and tricks. Share yours here or on Instagram - I am all ears!


A Brief Look Back


*This post is done in partnership with Rogaine®

Justin chiming in today. 2017 came to an end, and it was filled with a wonderful whirlwind of activity and change for us. For our family, the end of the year is double the fun as we celebrate not just one Holiday with the tree, but two! As many of you know, we have two mixed cultures, that which is American and the other is Eastern European from Olya’s side. For the kids, they get the fun of celebrating the magic more than once. I always found it much better to incorporate both together rather than trying to choose one to be the focus.

The kids have always loved the magic decorating and playing around the tree brings, and for me, as a dad, I love seeing the excitement in their eyes as each Holiday approaches. It's a magical time for them, and we always try to keep it that way for them.

The other thing about the end of the year for me is that I try to take a little time to look back on the year and identify all the good and positive things that have happened so that I can improve and add to them in the year to come. One event that will always mark 2017 as a wonderful year was the arrival of our newest son, Elisey. There really is no way to describe the joy it brings as a dad to have another wonderful little person join the family. He is a little bundle of happiness and you can’t help but smile each time he looks at you with his happy little face. :)

Another positive change for me was a collaboration (a fun one I might add) that I have been doing together with Rogaine® over the last several months. I have enjoyed sharing some of the fun moments with the kids and more on just being a dad and everything that comes with it. I don’t know if I would have taken the leap to begin my own hair journey as soon as I did, but I am glad that the timing worked to start the collaboration now instead of later. I’ll definitely be sharing more as I continue with the program.

It hasn’t quite been a full year since I started with the treatment, but I can say that I have been liking what I have seen so far. I’ll put a couple photos below to compare, but I have been seeing a difference. It isn’t too dramatic yet, but it has brought a positive improvement from my side, and more so it’s a confidence booster to know that something that I am doing has been positive.

You may not think that you could use the help of a hair treatment, or you may know that you already need a lot of help. I would say the sooner you start with Rogaine® the better it will be. It’s our hair guys, and even though we don’t always admit it out loud, we do care about it. Who else is with me on that one? :)

So, what are some of your positive moments from 2017? I’d love to hear about them and you can share them here or on the Instagram feed. Either way, I am excited to see. Happy New Year to all of your for 2018!


No worries he was just hungry and while he was going back and forth between smiling :)


a quick look back on some favorites from 2017


a quick little before and after, the first was done about the middle of 2017 and the right is just recently. It isn't too dramatic yet, but I have seen some difference, and more so I started noticing some more growth in other parts of my hair.


Welcome to the new Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford


*This post is done in partnership with Stanford Children’s Health and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford.

Hi guys, not a typical post, but a very important one today. Any parent will tell you that one of their top concerns when it comes to their children is to always make sure they stay healthy. I was so excited to hear about the opening of the all-new children’s hospital on Stanford in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford.  This is a fresh and modern facility that greatly enhances Bay Area pediatric care, and can now care for more children and families.

For all of you moms in the Bay Area that are constantly asking about good pediatric care, I highly recommend you take notice of this is one.


Family-First Design

I love that all the facilities have been designed with the whole family in mind. As a mom of seven, I can tell you that when a child is sick, having the whole family around them dramatically aids in the recovery process. So, it has been so pleasant to see that all the rooms and facilities are built with that in mind. No parent ever enjoys seeing their child being sick. It’s heartbreaking on so many levels, but it has been very reassuring to see all the ways that the hospital has thought about caring for the family as well.

One aspect that has been great to notice is the rooms have been designed with the understanding that the child will have family around them. The rooms are large and comfortable and have nice additions for those who will be staying in the room with the child. It’s so nice to know that if I need to stay with my baby, there is a bed for me as well, and not just a chair. Not that I’ll be getting much rest. No mom really can rest when their child is sick, but knowing it is there is very comforting.


The other thing that has been very nice to notice are all the outside and indoor features for kids to play and be in nature. There are games and activity rooms where kids can just be kids and forget for a time that they are in a hospital. It’s the perfect diversion for young kids, who are with the patients, or even the children themselves, who may be receiving treatment at the hospital. I’ve always found that when something serious is happening, letting kids play helps to take their minds off it and to better prepare them for the situation.


Technological Innovations

Another wonderful feature of the hospital is its innovations in medical technology. Being situated on the Stanford campus and in the heart of Silicon Valley, Stanford Children’s Health was able to work closely with some of the smartest minds to create a truly integrated approach to equipment and care facilities with a child-focused design. Who else could come up with things like:

  • Virtual reality distraction therapy like games and videos. I mean can you imagine how excited kids will be and not be paying attention to the fact that they are being treated? Letting kids be kids helps distract them, and takes care and treatment to a higher level.
  • Thematic, colorful MRI rooms all aimed at getting treatments in the hospital less scary, which is very important. I have experienced with my own kids that if they are scared, there is very little I can do to help them, and sometimes the stress itself on them is more damaging than anything else that going on around them.
  • New state-of-art technology that will improve how they care for even the smallest patients (Being a mom of a preemie myself, I’m never going to stop being amazed at how important good technology and care are and how many problems they can resolve).
  • My absolute favorite part though, are their operating suites (there will be six of them) with equipment in the same room that will help minimize the number of surgeries and procedures needed, so kids don’t have endure surgeries or go under anesthesia. Parents can be less stressed/ worried. That alone is one of the biggest reasons to bookmark this hospital. Less invasion, where possible, is always better for kids.


Caring For the Environment

Part of the design approach of the hospital has been centered around sustainability. It may not be the first thing that we as parents are concerned about when it comes to our children’s health, but as a member of the community here, it is good to know that the people behind the hospital design have really done their best to make it have a low impact on the environment around it. They have incorporated the latest in renewable energy and water conservation equipment being used.


Its design to harmonize with nature adds to the welcoming atmosphere of the facility. Studies have shown countless times that people heal better in a welcoming, natural environment, and children are even more susceptible to that.


There are many more items of care and design that have gone into the building of the all-new building. For more details, you can visit their new microsite to see and explore the new features.

A Welcoming Approach to Care

It is exciting for families in the Bay Area to have access to such a wonderful facility right nearby. If your child ever needs advanced medical care, I think it’s fantastic that parents can have access to a hospital like this. Have any of you been on one of their pre-opening tours? What did you guys think?


When in San Francisco...


San Francisco has stolen our hearts the moment we stepped off the plane at the SF airport.

The mysterious fog, absolutely gorgeous architecture, a diverse mix of cultures and hills like you've never seen before make this city unique and unforgettable. San Francisco is not a novice at being a gracious host either : there is always something interesting to do here, and many fantastic places to eat, and today we will take you to five "must-see"s while in San Francisco. And because there is always a baby either in the stroller or in my arms, all the places we take you to are child-friendly and motherhood-supportive.

1 Exploratorium at Pier 15

Something to do for everyone, from age one to whenever you decide "fun" is not something you are interested in. The impressive square footage that is stuffed with all sorts of things of the "amazing!" and "very cool!" category will keep your attention occupied for hours.

2. De Young Museum

The current collections of art from all over the world to San Francisco's own artists is stunning. Grab a set of headphones when going into a special interest exhibits and don't forget to stop by the observatory on the way out - the views of the city are stunning.

3 The Legion of Honor

If modern art is not your thing, the collections from The Legion of Honor will surely satisfy your 'art tooth'. You will need a day or two to just walk through the entire museum. Add to it that the place is extremely baby-friendly and you can't pass it by {ps: even nursing a baby is not only not a problem there, but the guides will point you into the direction of a lovely lounge place. That is impressive.

Being one of the largest settlements, SF Chinatown will quite literally make you feel like you've traveled a few thousand miles away from the US. Make sure to have a great camera on hand, because you will want it.

5 Lands End

San Francisco is probably one of the rarest cities in the world that offers a unique combination of a perfect city lifestyle and nature, where both coexist beautifully. I promise,  Land's End will take your breath away as it did for us when you see the magnificent beauty of the Big Water.

And between roaming the streets of this beautiful city, make sure to visit some of the best culinary spots of the West Coast.

1 The Ferry Building

If the word "cheese" makes you feel excited, ensure to include a Cow Girl Creamery into your "must visit" list. Very helpful workers on site will not only allow you to taste anything you like from the selection , but will recommend amazing picks that will wow you and your guests alike

2 Tony's pizza Napoletana

This very small( and "cash-only" not too long ago) place delivers results that are fantastic. Pick a slice or make a custom order-to-go if you are short on time, or book a table at the restaurant. If you go with the later, make sure to call at least 2 hours in advance.

3 Le Marais

No one can ever have too much of French food, i am convinced if it, when Le Marais is in the picture. A relatively new but an amazingly impressive cafe/bistro has already created plenty of buzz around city's neighborhoods. DO try to come before 3 pm to ensure that all you may wish to have will still be available.

4 The Clement street

For a good variety of all sorts of kitchens there is a unique section on the Clement street. Just get start walking Arguello towards the Avenues and pick whichever one seems dear to your heard ( or stomach in this matter)

5 A Happy Table

And last, but far from least, on my list of recommendations is a ... happy family table. No restaraunt and no chef , no matter how fantastic, will ever be able to create the memories you can while sitting down to the table with those you love. Those "table conversations" can never have a pricetag, but believe me , the reward is well worth it.

So, pull up a chair and join in to those you love. And to ensure that everyone's needs are taken care of today we partnered up with Stokke and Hatch Collection to give you the opportunity to win the best seat at the table (quite literally) and unique designs that would keep your growing bump in style and serve you far past the "bumpy" days too.

Simply enter below, and GOOD LUCK!

Hatch Collection+Stokke Giveaway

*as seen above : skirt, sweater, romper - Hatch Collection; chair - Stokke Tripp Trapp; stroller - BabyZen YoYo+; Stokke Xplory; Bugaboo Bee 3 Van Gogh Edition; boots - Lowland by Stuart Weitzman; bag- Rebecca Minkoff , Chanel, Marc Jacobs;  Evyianne is wearing June & January, Vasilisa is wearing Appaman & SoYoung lunchbox .

Getting Things Done


*Originally Posted March 17, 2016*

One of the most commonly asked questions I get is about teaching kids organization and independence skills.

Over the years of parenting I have learned one thing: the power of the third person applies not only to business or sales , but it is one of the most effective ways of engraving the principles you want your kids to learn.

Think of it : when it comes to listening to advice , between mom or friends , where would teens or pre-teens more likely to turn to? It also is true that no matter how much you teach your baby to do “the right thing” , the moment someone on a playground does something of the actions you would really rather not have your child learn, they pick it right up. Am I right or am I right? But this very phenomena works the other way around too. We make kids be accountable for the cleanliness of their dwellings to someone else - sometimes it is their friends, other times people that have influence (teachers, for example, or neighbors)


Kids’ closets or personal storage cubes have always been a battleship, so we tackled it with the same approach and this time brought on TaskRabbit to be a “person of importance” who the crew would be not only responsible to, but also learn from.

TaskRabbit is the smart way to get things done. They connecting you with quality Taskers who can helpcheck more off your to-do list and make the most of your day. And just in time for spring cleaning season they’re launched a new on-demand services that make it easier than ever to get things done - quite literally , just a phone call away on your own timing. Amna rang our doorbell a few hours after the request for help. After a few moments of talking with her, she jumped right in finding her own approach to get the kids to respond to her. She explained what she was going to do and how, and the most important part - why. It was music to my ears to hear the responses the older kids were giving her , because it was clear the message we were trying to send to them about organization clearly was sinking in.

The power of the third person, you guys!


After making a huge pile of things on the floor,  emptying every corner of every shelf and finding everything “lost in translation” ( and all the joys while at it! making mess is every child’s dream, I swear) , Amna and kids put everything back on the shelves that seemed to have doubled in size, even though hardly anything got thrown away.
I sifted through important things like drawings that I want to keep forever, but other then that , I left it to Amna to do her things the way she felt was best.

A week later the shelves are in perfect order. I know they will get messed up, for sure they will at one point, but because someone else came in to help the kids and it is that person who left the kids with the responsibility to keep the shelves clean, they seemed to have heard and feel the responsibility to oblige. In some ways, it works like that “Santa” thing, you know? “Don’t jump on the bed, because it is not good” -  and nobody hears you. “Don’t jump on the bed, or you will get on Santa’s naughty list” - and the little hands are smoothing every wrinkle on the duvet cover.


Spring cleaning time is all about getting procrastinated chores done, reorganizing those junk drawers and purging excess clutter that has stockpiled since the beginning of the year. In our case, it was also a very effective teaching moment. Need some help too? For our readers, TaskRabbit offers $20 off same-day tasks with code URBANCRUSING - here is to some spring cleaning and happy parenting!


Instilling Confidence


*This post is done in partnership with Target & Always

Some are born with confidence, others have to work at it - a realization that came to me later then I would wish.

You would never guess now, but I struggled with confidence a good portion of my life as a teen. The highly critiqued environment I was surrounded by didn’t help my internal struggles. The bars were raised very high for me, and while all was done with the best intentions possible, my confidence dropped tremendously day by day. I doubted everything, from my appearance to my abilities, which all were great, except…  I couldn’t see it.

It took me leaving home (even my home country!), becoming an adult, building my own independent life, and many years to overcome the insecurities that seeded during the very tender period of “neither a teen nor a child”, which then continued to bloom during the teen years. Ironically, it was professional ballet, one of the strictest disciplines, that helped me to become a person I am today. There is something about overcoming physical challenges and little personal triumphs that nourished the sense of confidence and achievement that I needed so desperately to continue going forward.

When my first girl was born, I promised myself that, as her mom, I would do anything in my power to instill confidence in her. I have missed out on so many beautiful things in life in my teen years and I didn’t want her to repeat my path. I wanted her to be the happiest and the best version of self she can be. That desire only got stronger when other girls were born into our growing family.

The word of mouth led me to Girls on the Run - if you don’t know about the organization, you have you! It’s a non-profit organization with a sole focus of positive youth development based on transformational physical activity for girls 3rd-8th grade, just the time when the physical activity declines and the very time when girls start to grow self-doubt. Girls on the Run teach life skills through dynamic, interactive lessons and active games. The environment is non-competitive but full of encouragement and support. The culmination point comes with a celebratory 5K run when girls are physically and emotionally ready. The goal behind it all is to unleash the confidence (that “I can do it!” feeling, you know?), while establishing an appreciation for health and fitness - all the things that girls of this age happen to struggle with.

I am honored to be a part of a great supporting cause, where Target together with Always, is donating one million dollars to Girls on the Run. This donation will enable thousands of more girls, who are not able to participate today, to gain access to the program. The goal of this campaign is to help every girl to keep going forward despite setbacks and small fall-outs. We ALL have them, don’t we? I loved the video they have created for this campaign too! Have you seen it?! Linking it below! It inspired us to do something different, too.

So, my girls and I spent a few hours the other day, where they picked a role-model that inspires them. They are spending some time learning about lives of those women (which are FAR from easy or simple!). We also decided to kick-start training for our own 5k run, so that every day they have some physical activity goals that they need to mark off and keep track of the progress. Join in with us, if you want! We will report weekly!

For those of you, who want to get involved in the cause above, there are some other ways, besides personal goals: you can be a part of the Girls on the Run council or just enroll your daughter into the program! Girls on the Run have a goal of serving one million girls by 2021 - can you imagine a million of confident, successful little women?! I can’t help but smile when I think about this.

Any of you struggled with confidence? What helped you the most to overcome the self-doubt? I’ve read a lot on the topic over the years, there are so many opinions, that physical activity is one of the best ways to gain confidence and instill the habits of perseverance. What do you, guys, think? Any opinions?


A Little Sneak Peek


*This post is done in partnership with Disney Baby and Ethan Allen

Hey guys, giving you a sneak peak into the new nursery redesign. Although the room is not 100% complete, as it’s a new space that we just moved to, I wanted to let you glance into what we’ve done so far. I’m so happy with how everything has been turning out. Since we moved to the new space I wanted to create a room that would allow me to have my baby by me, but not feel like I’m constantly in the nursery at the same time.

I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work with Disney Baby and Ethan Allen on this new project. We have worked with Disney Baby for a while now, and I was thrilled when they teamed up with Ethan Allen to create a beautiful set of nursery furniture. Their approach has been completely in line with what I was looking for. The colors go perfectly with the grey shades of the rest of the decor. The design has beautiful Disney accents, but it has been done to be elegant and sophisticated which fits my aesthetic perfectly.

The blankets and bedding are done along the same theme as the furniture design: Disney, yes, but elegant and stylish.

For the mattress and changing table pad, we are using one of our favorite brands, Nook Sleep Systems, whose design also tied everything together really well. For the color, we went with their Pebble Cloud theme.

The changing table has been conveniently designed to convert into a normal dresser by removing the top portion (which I’ll show in another post), and it has all the same elegant touches as the crib. Everything I need for Elisey is easily accessible. I have all of his clothes separated in the bottom drawer with tops, pants, bodysuits, and complete outfits. The middle drawer has all of his warmer things, and the top drawers are some toys and diaper changing accessories. The Crib also has the additional drawers in the base so I can keep some books/toys and blankets organized there.

Altogether I am very happy with how it has all turned out, and I’m sure Elisey loves it as well. I love that If I want to have a playtime I’ve got everything that I need for that, but at the same time I don’t feel like the baby is taking over because I can easily convert the space to an adult bedroom by just hiding a couple of things in the drawers.

Stay tuned for more as we get it all done, but for now, it really is a wonderful space to have for our newest little addition. Here are a bunch of pictures to show off what we have so far. What do you guys think?

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Winter Blues of My Kind


For all of you that are asking in DM about the bags I flew to LA with, it’s all Lily Jade and I highly recommend them when it comes to bags for a mom, particularly a working mom. It’s on my suggested registry list ( new or expecting mamas - have you seen it? It’s on the blog!) and they are my go-to for everything.

The move with 7 kids is no joke, but flying solo with 7 kids is... a little more then challenging.

My goal was to have as few bags as possible (and definitely have my hands free, since I had three little ones under 4 to run after), so I used Meggan as in a cross-body style for all things “baby”, my personal things, and other necessities for easy access, and then I used Elizabeth in a backpack configuration for my work equipment and other documents.

I know that there are many other options for sure, but it’s the pockets, compartments and style that doesn’t look like a “mom bag” that has my heart.

ETA: there is a sale going on right now on the site! Dying over new styles and colors! Shaylee in Blush and Madeline in Green are simply !

*This post is done in partnership with Lily Jade.