Father’s Day Weekend Picture Post

A weekend with lots of photo opps calls for a weekend picture post. It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these, but I had a reader request for these types of posts again, and this is a good weekend to start with.

Mini Getaway – Oakland

The weekend began with a long overdue mini getaway. Ellie and I have been trying to plan a real getaway for some time, but none of our free weekends matched up. We had one night this weekend to do something, so she whisked me away to her place in Oakland for some fun. She even kicked her hubby out to a friend’s house for the night. 🙂

There were food trucks and festivities at Jack London Square Friday night, so we hung out there for a bit.

Curly Fries with Chipotle Mayo and Shrimp

Curly fries topped with grilled shrimp and chipotle mayo–yum!

Jack's Night Market June

There was a painting setup from Art is Mobil that anyone could paint on, so we decided to try that. Painting sounded fun, but plenty of the participants were actually quite good, making me feel a little silly for painting my basic hearts to support the love theme. But hey, it said ANYBODY can paint, so I did. 🙂 It was fun to participate even with my lack of skills. You can check them out on Facebook to see the final products from various events.

Art is Mobil anybody can paint Art is Mobil anybody can paint

Back at Ellie’s place, we enjoyed wine, chocolate and good conversation out in the hot tub before calling it a night.

hot tub robes

Mini Getaway – San Francisco

I almost wasn’t able to sleep in on Saturday–I initially woke up right at the time Reece and Emme usually do–but fortunately I was able to fall back asleep for awhile longer.

We started our day with coffee and croissants and then caught the ferry to San Francisco for the day.

oakland bay

san francisco ferry

It was an absolutely gorgeous day. The upper-60s temperature was the perfect weather for the city and enjoying its beauty.

golden gate bridge backdrop

We planned our day around where we wanted to eat and walked everywhere in between. According to our iPhones, we ended up logging nearly 13 miles and 25,000 steps! Not only were our feet feeling it, but my shoulders felt bruised on Sunday because of the weight of my bag.

We walked along the water to sightsee, then headed to our lunch destination in the Marina.

lunch at blue barn

We wandered around a bit and decided on Blue Barn for some beautiful salads and a glass of wine.

blue barn salad and wine

We walked off our lunch, heading over to b. patisserie for coffee and dessert.

b. patisserie coffee and dessert

Feeling full, we had another good walk over to the Fillmore District where we shopped and browsed bookstores (ok, we did the latter in each area we were in–so many cute independent shops!).

We kept walking down Fillmore St and walked right into the Juneteenth Festival. We really stood out as the minority, which felt a bit awkward, but it was an experience and I’m glad to know more about that.

After we paused to look at the map to decide our next destination (Union Square), we were about to head the wrong way until a nice man helped us get back on track. He questioned if we were sure we wanted to walk it. We thought it was because of the distance and let him know we were enjoying our walk. I wish he had pushed a little harder that we not.

A long ways into our walk, the vibe started to get a little sketchy and we were having to walk through some, let’s just say unsavory looking groups of people. One look up at the signage overhead and we realized we were walking right through the edge of the Tenderloin, which has the reputation of being San Francisco’s worst neighborhood.

If you don’t know about this area, this article provides a good look at it. Thank goodness we only walked along the outskirts, on a street busy with cars, which made me feel slightly better because, lots of witnesses…

It was quite a nerve-wracking (fast-paced) walk those few blocks. I could breath a lot easier once we saw Nordstrom in sight. That’s the funny thing–the Tenderloin is bookended by a good shopping area and the civic center area. I hear they have good pho and curry there, though, so maybe worth a trip back according to that article??

From there we had a short walk over to the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. There we took the elevator up to the 21st floor to the Starlight Room, which I highly recommend for a great view of the city. A few drinks and laughs about our walk through San Francisco’s worst neighborhood were just what we needed.

wine at the starlight roomThen it was back to the ferry for the ride to Oakland under the full moon with the twinkling Bay Bridge. Ellie drove me back home to Silicon Valley after we met up with her husband for a late dinner in Jack London Square.

full moon bay bridge

Doug had a fun day with the kids at Happy Hollow while I was walking all over San Francisco with Ellie. I got to see cute pictures like these from him throughout the day, which made me smile.

happy hollow ride ice cream with dad

Father’s Day Fun

Unfortunately, Emme was starting to come down with a cold and her throat was hurting, so I didn’t make it to my favorite cycling class Sunday morning. We decided she could rest just as well at the beach as at home (because really, she’s no good at resting), so Doug met us in Capitola after he enjoyed a Father’s Day mountain bike ride.

On Mother’s Day, I wish to sleep in. On Father’s Day, he wishes to wake up early and get a bike ride in.

It was another beautiful day–80 degrees at the beach, which is perfect since it can be cool and overcast there.

beach exploring

We played in the sand, explored the kelp and climbed rocks.

building sand castles

Making faces since I tried to take his picture

decorating sand castles

Beautifying her sand castle with her treasures

exploring kelp

I even got Emme down for a much needed nap. Poor thing didn’t want to eat or drink much today because of her sore throat, but I think the ice cream helped a little.

beach nap

We ended the day with a nice dinner at Paradise Grill. With Emme being sick, all she wanted was soup and Reece followed suit with his order. I’m glad they love soup so much because I’d much rather they eat that than most of the junk food that is on kids menus. They’re not always up for it at a restaurant when they could be having french fries, though.

I’m glad we were able to make the most of the sunshine and that our own dads didn’t mind us doing our separate thing this year. The beach weather was just too good to pass up! Hope you all had a lovely weekend as well!

Keep in touch with me:
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In My Unsponsored Opinion: 13 Reasons Why the Y is the Best Gym

Since I’m not blogging as much anymore and just using this space to share whatever I want when the mood strikes, if there’s something I love, I’m just going to tell you about it. This post is NOT sponsored, it’s just my honest opinion about how much I love the YMCA. There are so many reasons why the Y is the best gym for families and I want to enthusiastically pass along this message. But first, let me touch on the fact that this is an unsponsored review.

family at the Y

My babies!

A Note About Sponsored Reviews

It’s really hard to write a truly honest review when you’re getting something for it.

For instance, it seems like every product I look up on Amazon these days has many glowing 5-star reviews, but after closer inspection, most of them have received the product for free in return for writing an “honest” review. I have to sift past those ones to read the reviews from a completely unbiased perspective, usually with an accompanied lower rating. I’ve come across this enough times lately, that I wish Amazon would sort the sponsored reviews into their own category.

As this relates to blogging, I don’t want you to have any doubts that my reviews are completely honest. I’m not saying I’ll never do sponsored posts anymore–and I always do my best to be honest–but at this point in my blogging “career,” I’m not seeking them out much anymore either.

My love for the Y began long before I started teaching Pilates there. In fact, I sought out teaching there because I love it there so much. I receive absolutely no benefit for writing this post (financial or otherwise–my superiors don’t even know about my blog), I truly just want to spread the love.

And with that, here are my Top 12 Reasons The Y is the Best Gym

Teaching Pilates at the Y

1. Childcare is Included

Emme hanging out at the Y

This reason alone makes the Y unbeatable. At the other gyms I belonged to, I had to pay each time I worked out because childcare was extra. The Y believes that having children should not be a hindrance to working out, so childcare is either included or very low cost. Joining the Y is what encouraged me to workout nearly everyday. It ensured I both got out of the house and had some “me time” each day.

2. Quality Childcare

Not only is childcare included with your membership, the Y takes babies as young as six weeks old so mamas can get back into their workout routine. Other gyms start at six months. They also will feed babies their bottles, give kids snacks and change diapers, unlike other gyms I’ve belonged to. I had very poopy, very hungry babies and toddlers, so I used to get interrupted EVERY workout when I belonged to other gyms. It discouraged me from going when I knew I was going to get called down to childcare after 20 minutes, making it impossible to get back to my workout after a diaper change because my kids would just want to leave after that.

3. Affordability

No one is turned away from the Y because of their ability to pay. The Y is there for everyone and they want the whole community to be healthy. So even if you don’t think your budget can swing a gym membership, go check it out. As it turns out, the monthly cost of the Y is actually more expensive than some other gyms in the area, but the included childcare more than made up for the extra monthly cost for me. I’d recommend checking it out in person to see if it will work within your budget.

4. Great Equipment

matrix treadmill

I would not make it through cardio without watching TV and the Y has some of the best viewing there is. Individual TV screens with Direct TV (lots of channels!) are way better than a few large TV screens in the distance or an individual screen with barely anything to watch. My cardio frequently goes longer than intended because i have to know–did they love it or list it?? 🙂

5. At the Y, you are family

This is what the Y is known for. Each of our members is a part of the Y family and it is our job to get to know you and encourage you in your fitness goals. We love our members and seeing their faces everyday!

6. Discounted programs

Y baseball

Anyone can enroll in a Y camp or swim lessons, but if you’re a member of the Y, you get a discounted rate. This is actually how I originally joined the Y because I called to inquire about swim lessons when Reece was one year old. Once I found out about the free childcare, I was hooked.

7. Year-round pool use

snacks at the Y

Post-swim snacks

This is a definitely a huge bonus of belonging to the Y. Not only is it our gym, but it’s our pool. Even though the rules are more restrictive than community pools, I love that I don’t have to pay for both a gym and a cabana club.

8. Safety

Part of the reason the Y pool is more restrictive is because safety is a top concern. During the summer, they have three lifeguards at the outdoor pool. During swim lessons, not only does each group have their instructor, but there are a few lifeguards on deck to keep a safe watch on everyone. I’ve been to pools at other gyms where they only had one lifeguard watching over a crowded pool. With my non swimmers, that did not make me feel safe. It feels good knowing that our safety is top priority at the Y.

9. Diversity

The Y is for everyone. Not only will you find a wide range of skin colors and languages, but you will see people with a wide range of abilities and challenges. This is very unlike what you will see at other gyms and I’m glad my kids will be exposed to many different types of people so young.

10. Free programs for kids

Kids basketball at the Y

Along with the free (or very low cost) childcare, the Y has a number of included kids programs. From tumbling type classes, to preschool, to ballet, each Y offers something different. This is a huge benefit as these types of programs can be quite costly elsewhere. It’s also a great way to meet other moms since some programs are for babies as young as six months old.

11. Amazing range of classes

Working out at the Y

The Y has hands down the best range of group exercise classes I’ve seen. Usually there are multiple group exercise rooms, so more than one class can be offered at a time. At my Y, there will be a strength training class, cycling class, yoga class and TRX class all going on at the same time. This makes it easy for members to find something they love at a time that works for them.

12. Clean

Pilates at the Y

Don’t be fooled by fancy new gyms–they are not always as clean as they appear at first glance. The Y may always be in an old, funky building, but it is clean. The janitors are working round the clock keeping everything nice for members and it shows. As a Pilates instructor who has laid on many a gym floor, the Y is by far the cleanest–especially in the studios.

13. They’re everywhere

YMCAs are located all around the country, so no matter where you live, you can find your Y home there. Click to find your local YMCA! All Ys have different features–even each of the ones here in Silicon Valley run things slightly differently–so be sure to check with your local Y to see what they offer, as some of the benefits listed above may differ.

Pilates at the Y

Joining the Y was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself and my family. If you know me in real life, you’re probably already well aware of that since I pretty much tell everyone how great the Y is. It gave me a place to connect, to enjoy time out of the house as a stay-at-home and boost my fitness. So I spread the love. So that you can find a Y to love too.

Do you love your local YMCA? Tell me why you think it’s the best!

Keep in touch with me:
Twitter -> @FitMamaLaura
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Celebrating 6 With a Science Party

Last week my big boy turned six and on Sunday, we mixed, fizzed and slimed the afternoon away with a science experiment birthday celebration with a few of his best kindergarten buddies.

kindergarten friends

This was my science-loving boy’s idea and I thought it was sweet that he only wanted his three closest friends from school there. It was our first year not having a huge party with all the kids he’s friends with, which I thought was nice for a smaller party for turning six. I still feel bad about all the friends that were left out, especially the ones at school who at some point found out they weren’t invited. Kids do their best to keep quiet about these things, but it still slips out. We’re not going to have a huge party every year, though, so what can you do? Would love to hear from readers with older kids about how this usually works.

I didn’t realize how popular science parties are until a Pinterest search clued me in. Even Evite had a “Mad Science” themed invitation. There are tons of science experiments out there to do with your kids, but I needed to make sure there would be mixing involved, since Reece really enjoys mixing things together to see what happens. We did a whole range of experiments, but here, I’ll just list the “must-dos” if you decide to try this party yourself!

science party making slime

Safety-first!

I ordered disposable lab coats and colorful kid safety glasses from Amazon and they were a must. Not only did they protect the kids from messes and explosions, they looked like super cute little scientists and they enjoyed wearing them. Plus, they doubled as party favors.

Science Experiment #1: Coloring flowers

When the kids first showed up, I had little cups of colored water set up and gave them a white flower. They chose which color water to put their flower in and by the end of the party, the edges of the flowers had started to change color. The result was minimal after just a two hour party, but enough to see. This one is fun to do at home over a day or two to see how the flower picks up more color. You can even slice a flower stem in two, put it in two different colors to turn it two colors. The kids took their flower home as a favor.

Science Experiment #2: Making Slime

I found this easy slime recipe and it worked really well! The kids each got a turn mixing and the end result was really cool. After they’d played with it a bit, I divvied it up in reusable, small plastic containers I already had from a previous Green Chef order, but small Tupperware or Ziplock bags would work too. This was a fun favor and Emme played with her slime for quite awhile after all the party guests had left.

science party slime experiment

Science Experiment #3: Melting and Coloring Ice

When Reece saw a picture of this while I was researching experiment options, he really wanted to do it for his party. This was the messiest of the experiments and the reason why all the kids went home with green hands thanks to all the food coloring they used. They enjoyed it, though, and it was fun even for the adults to see how the salt made trails through the ice.

science party melting ice experiment

Science Experiment #4: Volcano

As typical as the volcano is, it’s a must-do for any science party and it’s an experiment I’d surprisingly never done before. I followed these volcano instructions, including making the dough. All the kids helped shape the dough around the empty sparkling water bottle we used. The eruption itself was cool, but not as big as I expected. We kept adding more water and baking soda to watch it some more, but I wasn’t very impressed with the result even though the kids thought it was kind of cool. If you know of a better recipe, go for that one.

science party volcano experiment

My science-loving boy and his friends had a blast at the party, as you can tell by their faces in these pictures. I’m so thankful for his preschool that instilled a love of exploration and learning in him, and I hope he never loses that. From Legos, to magnetic gears, to robots and bug catchers, Reece received everything he wanted and then some to satisfy his curiosity and desire to build and create.

Magnaformer gears STEM gift

These Magformer Gears are a great toy!

I love how true he is to his name’s meaning and hope he always approaches his interests with as much enthusiasm as he does now.

Chima Lego gift

Chima Lego FTW! Yes, he put this together by himself with minimal help.

This post contains affiliate links, which does not affect anything on your end, but it does earn me a teensy bit. Thank you for your support!

Keep in touch with me:
Twitter -> @FitMamaLaura
Pinterest -> FitMamaLove
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Bloglovin’-> FitMamaLove
Facebook -> FitMamaLove
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