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12 Cool gifts for cool kids

Father And Son Opening Christmas Presents At Home Together


With hundreds and hundreds of amazing Holiday gifts ideas to choose from, there is no wonder that many parents find it difficult to find their way through the maze of eye-catching  window displays, catalogs and online shops. My husband and I have been in this boat for quite a few years, with three children and their varying interests. Somehow we manage to cheer our kids up duing the Holiday Season.  Because we want to help you put a smile on the faces of your tiny ones and catch off-guard your teens, we worked on a list of 12 Holiday gift ideas that we hope will take the hassle out of this year’s Holiday shopping.

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10 Fantastic things to do with your children in Palo Alto this Holiday Season

Four Seasons Palo Alto Gingerbread decoarating


Hello, magic holiday mirth! One thing is for sure: The Holiday Season is meant to be fun and joyful for old and young alike. Especially this season here in Palo Alto,  there are quite a few special events to keep everyone’s spirits high. Do you feel like making your children’s holiday really special this year? Here are some events you might want to consider.

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Just in time for holiday Shopping: Tesla opens a store at Stanford Shopping Center

tesla store at stanford


Palo Alto headquartered Tesla, has made it easier to pick out your new Tesla while picking out your new outfit.


Tesla at Stanford shopping Center


tesla stanford shopping center





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During a recent trip to the Stanford Shopping Center, I was pleasantly surprised to see the electric car maker’s new shop blending perfectly with the rest of the retail stores that call Stanford Shopping Center Home.


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Opened for just over one week, the new Tesla store has found a home close to Apple and sandwiched between Coach and Louis Vuitton. This is not the first shop of its kind in the area, which solely focuses on sales and roadside assistance. There are at least four more: in Santana Row, Walnut Creek, Corte Madera and Monterey.  This seems to be an obvious trend since Tesla cars are made to order, and the added value of convenience plays a key role in getting Teslas in the hands of consumers.


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tesla charger



Stanford Mall is an ideal location, and attracts the clientele to support this move, even though there is another Tesla store that offers sales, service and roadside assistance, less than 3 miles away. With the recent Model X launch and the Model S’s high ratings from Consumer Reports, Tesla does expect lots of interest in its vehicles, especially in the Silicon Valley area, where the car is not only manufactured and a favorite among techies, but there are lots of electric car chargers, which makes owning a Tesla much easier.


tesla stanford shopping center


Shoppers seem to love the new store, which is large enough to host 3 Tesla cars and a shell base, with a design studio and friendly staff. While I was there, I met a shopper,  Andre Oosterlinck, President of Leuven University, who was  visiting from Belgium, and said that he is in the market for a Tesla.  He mentioned that he has an electrical engineering background, and appreciates a car like Tesla.  He passionately declared that Tesla, is not only a leader in having a great product, but is a game changer in the automotive industry.




He is definitely right. I think that the automotive industry is looking at Tesla as a company to emulate and to act as a catalyst in ushering electric cars to the masses.  With Google and Apple both launching their own electric cars in a few years, and a few other car makers following suit, who knows what the industry will look like a few years from now.


There is something inherently special about a Tesla car – the look, the feel, and of course the cat eyes.  So the next time you are at Stanford Shopping Center, and you feel the urge to part with tens of thousands of dollars, and own a piece of American history, then, a Tesla may just be in your future.  Check out their selections.



On the Run in New York: Marathon, Reunion and a whole lot of fun


Last weekend, we all followed my husband, Stew, to New York as he participated in the New York City Marathon. Although Stew travels to New York for meetings regularly, and I had been due to layovers and a family celebration, we had not been back there as a family in over two years. So, when Stew mentioned that he was running his 4th NYC Marathon, we all wanted to be there to support him.

I got very busy planning the family itinerary, and wanted to make this trip into a mini family vacation/reunion. This past summer we had not taken a family vacation, so I felt it was my duty to make the experience extra special, especially for the kids.


Our itinerary included lots of facetime with our NY friends, as well as visiting familiar places such as the children’s old school and a drive-by to our home, afternoon tea, and after the Marathon get-together. We wanted to spend one day in the suburbs and the rest of the trip in the city. With my ability to always find great deals and never pay full prices, I was able to nab a hotel room at the Plaza Hotel (near the marathon finish line) for 2 nights, plus the Friday night we spent with my friend Angelina, her husband Monte, and their wonderful family. They were the most gracious hosts one could hope for!


Before we made it to our friends’ home, we made a few pit-stops. We stopped by Stew’s lovely Aunt Sylvia to have breakfast and chat a bit, and then went to Hackley School, where the kids met with old friends, teachers, and staff. We all had a fantastic time and the kids reconnected as if there had been no time lapse. It was all incredible to witness.



While in the city, on Saturday, we tried to squeeze in as much as we could. My older son wanted to return to one of his favorite spaces in the City, The American Museum of Natural History, with his dad and his 3 year old brother. My daughter wanted to host an Eloise Tea Party for her friends. Considering that it was on Halloween, we thought that our itinerary would be impacted, but the Museum was business as usual, with a Halloween celebration, and five of my daughter’s friends joined her at the Plaza for tea. It was truly spectacular. She was happy to hang out with some of the friends she has known since she was a baby.



We were all hyped on the Marathon Day. We downloaded the NYC Marathon app to follow Stew as he ran 26.2 miles, through 5 New York City Boroughs. The kids and I travelled via Uber to a diner in Queens, near the 14th mile maker, to cheer Stew on. We were greeted by members of the Fortune Society Charity, who supplied us with paper and markers to make posters. We created a few posters and, when Stew was on his 12th mile, we went to the route where he would be running to cheer him on. He was shocked to see us and, at the same time, very pleased that we had connected with him at such a crucial point in the race. He looked drained, tired, and weak.



Running in the New York City Marathon is one thing; finishing it is a completely different story. Stew’s last NYC Marathon record was 4:28; his time for this marathon was 5:56. His personal goal this time around, and over 30 years away from his 20s, was just to finish, bring awareness, and raise funds for a charity where he sits on the board. The Fortune Society helps previously incarcerated people to reintegrate into society. In my eyes, he did a fantastic job and we are all so proud of him!


We are not the only proud ones! Quite a few of our New York friends were cheering him on and came to meet us in the city. Our friends, Kathleen and Josh, and their wonderful family, as well as my dear cousin, Pearl, her husband Monty, and their lovely kids, they all tracked Stew along the way, we saw him ran adjacent to The Plaza, and came to hang out in our hotel room to celebrate Stew’s finish. We all then met with our dear friends for dinner, including Ted, Paige and family, David and Yokiko, Denise, Jameela and her family, Stew’s buddy Patrick and his fiancé, and had a wonderful time together.

All in all, we had a great time reconnecting with all our friends and supporting Stew. On the flight back, I was reflecting on our New York stay and realized that I don’t really miss New York City or the suburbs. What I truly miss are our wonderful friends. This trip would not have been the same if they had not been part of the complete experience.













Getting my daughter’s ears pierced



Getting my daughter’s ears pierced


Though many people take the opportunity to pierce their daughter’s ears when they are babies, my husband and I have always thought that we should wait till ours is old enough to help us make that decision. And yes, we have been under pressure from family members who wanted to know why we had not pierced our daughter’s ears. We felt that there was truly no need for it, especially since we were not culturally or religiously obligated to do it. We grappled with the idea and felt that, if she truly wanted it when she was past the age of 8, we would guide her through the process.


Our lovely princess, sandwiched between the two boys, had developed this fascination with earrings: I wear them, her aunties wear them, her friends wear them, and, as the only granddaughter, her grandma wanted her to have hers when she passed away. So she really felt that she was missing out on something. We certainly did not want to be the ones to force it on her.


When she turned 8, she became persistent. So I decided to show her videos of girls getting their ears pierced to try to see if she would be deterred. But it only fueled her curiosity. I myself had not gotten my ears pierced until I was 13, and so I felt that she should wait maybe a little longer, just as I did.


She had become more persistent over the last few months. So this past weekend, I researched areas around Palo Alto where you can get children’s ears pierced, and was thus introduced to Claire’s, a few tattoo places and salons, and Piercing Padoga, which by the way was just what we were looking for. The closest one is in Milpitas, at Great Mall of the Bay Area (238 Great Mall Dr, Milpitas, CA 95035). She and I ventured out and got their in about 30 minutes.


I had prepared her on what to expect, and, when we got there, the lovely sales associates made it seem so easy.


There is a slight process we had to go through:

  1. She chose the earrings that she wanted (she chose a crown). Piercing is free with the purchase of an earring.
  2. I had to sign some legal documents.
  3. Clean the earlobes with sterilized wipes.
  4. Mark the spot for the hole with a narrow marker.
  5. They use a piercing system which loads and snaps the earrings into place. Two people worked on her at the same time to make it easier for her.
  6. The area was dabbed with a sterilizing solution.


daughter's ear pierced palo alto


She was so pleased! It was over in a few seconds. She said that she only felt a burning sensation for a few minutes and then it was all gone. I use a swab and liquid solution every morning and evening and she has not complained since she got it done.


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Afterwards, we celebrated with pizza and Cinnabon. I think that our experience was fantastic, especially since she not only understood the whole process, but she was also an active participant, and indeed a great mother and daughter bonding moment.


So my husband is running the New York City Marathon



Earlier on this year my husband came to the family at one of our meetings and suggested that he wanted to run the NYC marathon. The kids needed to get an explanation on what it meant, and I have to admit that I was a little stunned. I had seen photos of my husband running two New York City marathons before, but that was when he was almost half his age, looked like a plank,  and weighed as much as a feather. It seemed far fetched now, but as a very supportive wife and mother of three young kids, of course I agreed to be his biggest fan.

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Polo Ralph Lauren Stanford Shopping Center location scheduled to close in two weeks

The Stanford Ralph Lauren location closes on October 15th!


ralph lauren stanford closure


After the LA store was recently closed, the Ralph Lauren Stanford location will remain open until 15th of October.

Sadly, Polo Ralph Lauren, a store that has been the pillar for over 26 years at the Stanford Shopping Center, will be closing its doors within 2 weeks and employees will remain on until the end of October.

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8 Apple picking orchards near Palo Alto

Apple picking near Palo Alto


Apple picking near Palo Alto

Though many of us may feel sad that summer is over, focusing on all the fun activities that fall brings will wash that sadness away. And apple picking in a delightful orchard is just the right activity to keep the whole family entertained…and healthy.  Moving to Palo Alto from New York, the changing seasons is something that we miss, and the apple picking tradition that our family had come to appreciate.  So, I have been doing some research on apple picking orchards near Palo Alto, and below you can find a list 8 of the best orchards in the near Palo Alto.

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