Editor's Note:

Editor’s Note

Happy Father’s Day! I hope you are letting dad swing in the hammock on Father’s Day—or at least letting him off the hook on a few chores, or helping him with those chores. Families are a sort of “team.” Everyone has a task, a station and a role. Our resident dad, Steve Shapiro (“Father Knows Best?”) shares the way children matriculate along through stages. He was quite surprised to realize that his girls weren’t shunning his favorite restaurant. He didn’t have to cajole them into trying new foods—they went for it with gusto! Home run!

This is the college season, with excitement about going away, plus student and parent jitters about that “nest leaving.” Check out our article in “College Bound” entitled “I’ll Miss You Too.” There’s some great advice from the student’s as well as the parent’s perspective. Thinking of sending your child off to camp? Check out our Kids’ Activities and Camps section. There’s still time to sign your child up for a rewarding and empowering experience.

As always, our book experts, Diane and Lauren Savage at The Reading Bug in San Carlos, bring us some great reading ideas. Books are great birthday gifts, so please think of them when you’re in a rush to find that perfect birthday present.

For the past few years, POP has been sponsoring a writers’ contest through the San Mateo County Fair. This year’s winner of Best Children’s Novel or Short Story contest is Kimberly Schultz for her story, The Fairy Garden. We have reprinted it here for you—try it out as a bedtime story! Let us know how your kids like it. Congratulations to Kimberly; we hope you have a long and prosperous career!

Until next time,

—Tory Hartmann


What is Minecraft, why does my child love it, and why is it good for them?

Minecraft can best be described as “Digital Legos.” In the game, players explore uncharted lands, build modest shelters to lavish mansions, raise virtual animals, or battle a variety of villains. There are two main game types: Creative and Survival.

In the game’s Creative mode, players can create anything they can imagine with their unlimited supply of blocks, colors, creatures, characters, food; the list goes on. As they create one object, it sparks an idea to create another, and then another, until they create an entire village, city or even metropolis. The game’s other mode, Survival, has players building safe shelters, mining for materials, and crafting items to help them stay alive in the game.

Father Knows Best?:

Food, Inglorious Food

Something amazing happened. I took my kids to one of my favorite restaurants and they enjoyed it. Let me elaborate: I took my two daughters to a real restaurant that served quality food and they not only ate that food and verbalized their satisfaction with the edibles, but they even suggested we come back. The clouds have parted, the sun is shining through, and I can look forward to eating even more real meals prepared by professionals in the future.

As you probably surmised, having a good meal hasn’t been easy. When my wife I were brand-new parents, we had high hopes that exposing our kids to a wide variety of food early would mean avoiding the usual pickiness that’s endemic amongst most kids. We fed them all manner of vegetables and fruits and avoided sugary sweets. In those early days, we felt very proud of ourselves. “See, “we told ourselves, “If you just expose them early, they’ll be healthy eaters.” So you can imagine our surprise when each of them started exhibiting more restrictive culinary preferences. They began leaving uneaten food in front of them, or worse, take a bite and make sounds that brought back memories of the stomach-bursting scene in the film Alien.

Nursing Your Baby:

Father’s Anxiety

Jeff asks, “We are expecting our little one in early July and we are planning on breastfeeding. I do not mean to sound selfish, but I have concerns about how this process is going to unfold. I feel completely UN involved and I am not sure I am going to be able to bond with the baby. Also, how can I help and support my wife with breastfeeding and still have my chance to form a relationship with our baby?”

Congratulations on becoming a new father! Having a new baby is truly the most joyful and overwhelming experience one can ever experience. That being said, you have the unique opportunity to help your partner out with one of the most rewarding and important parenting tasks, supporting breastfeeding and protecting the space so it can happen. Learn as much as you can about baby behaviors and breastfeeding. I suggest checking out the website “Secrets of Baby Behaviors” so you can become an expert on your baby and learn how to read your baby’s cues, help with sleep and learn how to minimize crying. Check outer YouTube video “Getting to Know Your Baby” so you can recognize the difference between actual hunger cues and just plain fussiness.

Preschool Parent:

A Year of Co-op, A Lifetime of Memories

As the year winds up at Open Gate, it is hard to believe that in such a short time we have grown from preschool newbies, not knowing anyone and not sure what this year would bring, to a “veteran” family openly recommending Open Gate to moms at the park, telling them how to schedule a visit and offering my email if they have any questions.

As a teacher myself, I have studied early childhood education and know the importance of preschool. My own teaching experience, however, has been with elementary school, so I had never really experienced a “play-based” preschool until we enrolled at Open Gate last fall. Talking with other moms, I knew I wanted a school where my sons would be exposed to learning through play, peer interaction, exposure to crafts and outdoor play with adult supervision and gentle guidance. I was thrilled to learn we had this right in our neighborhood just blocks away from home.

POP Picks:

POP Picks: Book Recommendations

Parents and children who loved New York Times bestseller Rosie Revere Engineer by Andrea Beatty will want to grab a copy of Interstellar Cinderella, written by one of our favorite Bay Area children’s book authors, Deborah Underwood (The Quiet Book) and illustrated by Meg Hunt. There have been many versions of the classic Cinderella fairy tale, but Underwood’s is my favorite. Interstellar Cinderella may be rejected by her stepmother and wicked sisters, but she is no victim—she has dreams of fixing fancy robots and sneaks away each night to study rocket repair. When her family is invited to the Prince’s Royal Space Parade, her stepmother leaves Cinderella behind and takes away her tools to ensure that she won’t be able to follow. When this Cinderella’s fairy godrobot appears, she gives Cinderella a new set of tools so that Cinderella can fix the broken rocket and get to the Parade using her brain instead of her godrobot’s magic. On her way, Cinderella encounters the prince, whose spaceship is also in need of rocket repair. When the clock strikes midnight, Cinderella rushes away, but she leaves her socket wrench behind. Enchanted by Cinderella, the prince searches the galaxy for the woman who can fix a broken spaceship with a socket wrench. When the prince finds her and proposes marriage, Interstellar Cinderella rejects the proposal, offering to become his chief mechanic instead.

The Au Pairs Return!

Gaetan, Julia, Sandra and Magda currently enjoy living and working as au pairs in Palo Alto and Menlo Park. Au pairs find much in common with one another, but these four friends share a unique experience: all four have been in the United States before as au pairs and have returned to enjoy the au pair program a second time.

“Au Pair” is a French phrase meaning “on par” and refers to the practice of having a young person travel to a foreign country to learn the language and experience the culture through immersion in the home life of a host family. This person is considered a family member and helps care for the children in the home. The au pair program, under the purview of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State, began in 1989and has enabled thousands of young people to come to the US and provide childcare for American families. At any given time, there are approximately 12,000 au pairs living in the United States.

College Bound:

I’ll Miss You Too… the Off-to-College Guide for Students and Parents

Just in time for graduation season in June and back to-school time in August, comes I’ll Miss You Too: The Off-to-College Guide for Parents and Students, by MargoEwing Woodacre and Steff any Bane Carey.

Drawing on their personal experience, the mother daughter team offers practical suggestions and tips from both perspectives that will help families successfully deal with this important phase in their child’s life.

Leaving Home

For Parents: Realize the “empty nest” feeling is normal, but don’t burden your student with your own sadness. Resurrect your old dreams and take a class, volunteer or join a sport. Don’t redecorate your child’s bedroom the first year, and send occasional care packages with their favorite items.

The Fairy Garden

The San Mateo County Fair will run from Saturday June 6th through June 14th. Parenting on the Peninsula is proud to sponsor the Children’s Novel or Short Story contest. This year’s winner is The Fairy Garden by Kimberly Schultz. Congratulations, Kimberly! We hope everyone reads this to their little ones.

Celestial awkwardly stood in front of the classroom fiddling with her fingers. “Fingers, please work for me today,” she thought nervously. Her wings stiffened. They darkened from a bright pink to a deep red like they always did when she was nervous. She concentrated on the spell she was about to perform in front of her entire class. Three fairies in the back of the classroom sat huddled together giggling. Celestial knew it was because of last week’s explosion. Miss Flitter put a flowerpot in front of her and told her to do the spell for flower growth.

Editor's Note:

Editor’s Note

Happy Mother’s Day! Where would society be without mothers? Mothers give birth, nurture, soothe, teach, nurse and dispense justice. We are the keepers of tradition and the bolt of lightning that can change societies. I hope you use the month of May to honor yourself and all of the women in your life who have influenced you.

We have a wonderful issue this merry month of May. Our resident father, Steve Shapiro, tells us how modern kids make themselves famous by creating narrative video son YouTube. The subjects run from styling hair to kids ‘activities and many of these child-created videos have over a million subscribers! Sheila Janakos, our wonderful lactation consultant, gives advice to a young mother who feels that her nursing days might be over. And our pediatrician Dr. Jason Clark tells what you can do when your little angel shoves a marble up her nose.

Ever feel frustrated that Mother’s Day has become too commercial? Read “Take Back Mother’s Day in Four Easy Steps.” Kimberly Gonsalves has some interesting idea show to honor the influential women in your life—and honor yourself!

“Preschool Parent” is a column written by parents or caregivers of preschoolers. This month Carol Cross-Phillips, the director of Little Hands Parent-Child Center, shares with us the magic that happens when parents gather and share both their joys and frustrations. Parenting is a journey and reaching out to those also on the journey brings comfort and support.

Take the “Love and Money Quiz”! Frequently financial problems arise when partners have different perceptions about money. In Pamela Yellen’s article, there are no right or wrong answers. You and your partner should compare answers to see if you both have the same perception of money. A good topic to explore with family and friends!

How do we raise our sons to be kind to their mother? In “Mom’s Rules and Manhood,” a Korean adoptee shares bits from his childhood. I came away with a respect for his father. Don’t miss it.

Our fitness expert, Brien Shamp (Coach’s Corner) used to tell people to stop drinking if they wanted to lose weight, but a recent study of drinkers of red wine changed his mind. It seems that red wine polyphenols can inhibition-beneficial bacteria from the human micro biota (decrease the bad bacteria) and potentiate the growth of probiotic bacteria, the good guys! This can even help lower cholesterol. Wow. Imagine that. For years I’ve been sipping my own nightly health drink. Now I feel even better!

Live, love and be happy this beautiful spring!

Until next time,


— Tory Hartmann