Oh Joy

5 tips for applying to pre-school... 21 Mar 2014

Oh Joy / Ruby

It's been a while since I've talked about what's going on in the parenting world part of my life lately, so I want to share a little bit about applying to pre-school. I didn't want to go all "crazy mom" and get stressed about this process. But I did. I got stressed, I made a crazy spreadsheet comparing all the pre-schools we were looking at for Ruby, and I was up at night worrying about if she'd get into any of them. And at the end of the day, it all worked out how it was supposed to. 

Just as a foreword to this post, I am fully aware that the process of applying to pre-school isn't as competitive everywhere as it is here in Los Angeles. In many parts of the country (and even outside of the U.S.), you just fill out an application, put down a deposit, and your child gets to go to wherever you want him or her to. But here in LA (and other large cities like New York and San Francisco), applying to pre-school can feel like the second coming of college applications. There are limited spots and a small percentage of the applicants actually get in. It can be super competitive. You're going up against kids of actors and astronauts and parents who all have really cool jobs.

For the privacy of my family and our community, I won't be talking specifically about where we applied or where Ruby is going to pre-school, but I thought the process was so fascinating that I wanted to share few tips with those of you who might be approaching this subject in your lives in the near future...

Oh Joy / Ruby

1. Decide what kind of school environment makes sense for your child and your family. Some parents want their kids to run free and enjoy playing while they can. Some parents want structure. There are play-based schools, Montessori schools, Waldorf schools, and schools that are a combination of them all. Some schools split up the kids by age and some mix them all together. During the process of touring schools, we decided early on that we wanted Ruby to have a mix of play and learning. We wanted her to go into kindergarten with a good comprehension of her letters and words, and be on her way to reading. And we wanted a school that would offer her inspiration and ways of learning that we wouldn't be able to provide on our own. 

2. Tour a few schools and watch how the kids interact with the teachers and with each other. Do the kids at the school seem interested and engaged? How do the teachers engage them? The biggest turn-off for us was when we visited a school and saw that a child was bored and sitting in the corner by him or herself, or playing in a patch of dirt when there were plenty of other things to do. You want your child to love going there and to constantly feel engaged.

3. Think about the most important factors for you. It's sort of like any other life decision—what's most important to you if you can't get everything you want? Location? Cost? Style of learning? Schedule? For us, it was about the style of learning, a school that offered early drop-off hours, and the location (something within 10-15 minutes of our offices or our home). 

4. Participate in Parent & Me classes if available. Some schools offer Parent & Me classes where, for a couple hours each week, you can experience a sampling of what the school has to offer. It gets your child familiar with a more formal school set-up, and you get to know the teachers and their style of instruction better. And, in my opinion, it really helps when you're applying to a school if the staff already knows you and your child. It always helps your application and can never hurt your chances. Plus, that way, the school can make its decision based on how well your child would fit into the school and not just based on what your family looks like on paper.

5. You don't have to sign-up at birth. When we were pregnant, people asked us if we were going to start looking at pre-schools and we were blown away. I hear some people do put their unborn children on pre-school waitlists, but I had no desire to do that not knowing what Ruby's personality would be like. It was much better that we waited until she was an actual toddler. We started looking at pre-schools soon after Ruby turned two, a few months before all the deadlines for that school year. We looked at five schools, applied to three, and she got into two of them. We honestly loved all the schools we applied to, but chose the final one based on Ruby's personality now and where we thought she'd flourish the most.

At the end of the day, your kids will turn out fine no matter where they go. The pre-school your child goes to doesn't dictate if they'll go to Harvard. I went to very ordinary pre-school and turned out fine. However, I wasn't the best traditional learner as a kid, and did best when learning visually, so it really made me want to give her additional opportunities that I didn't have. I think if you have choices, it's worth researching what's best for your family and your child. It can only enrich your child's learning and imagination.

If you have pre-school aged kids, did you guys have to go through this crazy process, too? Anything else you learned in your experience?

{Top photo by Bob Cho. Bottom photo by Casey Brodley.}

a few of my favorite apps lately... 28 Jan 2014

O-baby-app

There's no question that it's fun to add graphics to photos to share on Facebook and Instagram, and the Obaby app makes it easy to add text and graphics to existing photos. I personally love adding little illustrations to photos, but the time lines for baby bumps and month-to-month photos is super cute, too. (And it's currently 80% off in the App Store!)

Sunrise-app

Ever since Apple updated their iOS, I haven't loved the way the new Calendar interface works on my iPhone. Bonnie recently introduced me to Sunrise which has a much cleaner and intuitive interface for keeping track of your calendar.

Endless-reader-app

As a continuation of Endless Alphabet (one of Ruby's favorite apps), Endless Reader takes it to the next level to help kids put words together and understand how they fit into sentences. Ruby loves this one, too, and loves hearing about the story and context behind words.

What apps do you love that are part of your daily routine right now?

P.S. my last set of favorite apps...

packing for a family trip... 28 Oct 2013

Oh Joy | Packing for a Family Trip

We're heading to Mexico tomorrow! As part of a partnership with St. Regis hotels, we're off to Punta Mita to experience Family Traditions at St. Regis, which is all about making a vacation with kids easier and more fun thanks to the hotel's family-friendly activities and accommodations. We're hoping to continue the tradition of at least one far-away vacation per year. France was super far away, so I love that Punta Mita is only a three-hour flight for us (it almost seems like a piece of cake compared to flying to Paris!). And since we recently traveled overseas with Ruby and now we're heading out of the country again to Mexico, I thought I'd share some of my packing tips for staying prepared, while still keeping things easy, on your family adventures...

Continue reading " packing for a family trip... " »

family-friendly spots in los angeles... 16 Oct 2013

Oh Joy | Family-Friendly Los Angeles

When I first moved to Los Angeles, someone told me, "L.A. is what you make of it." The city is rich in so many different things—food, culture, music, shopping, nature, etc. that it really can be whatever you want it to be. For me, I've made L.A. into a town full of great eats, amazing local and indie designers, and a place where my daughter can learn and thrive from all the things L.A. has to offer. Today, I am sharing four of my favorite family-friendly spots in this city—all of which are free or inexpensive to enjoy.

Oh Joy | Family-Friendly Los Angeles | LACMA

Oh Joy | Family-Friendly Los Angeles | LACMA

Oh Joy | Family-Friendly Los Angeles | LACMA

Oh Joy | Family-Friendly Los Angeles | LACMA

LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) | While I love art, I find so many museums to be too precious and too quiet. I need to be able to take my family to a place where kids are allowed to roam free and enjoy their surroundings just as much as the adults do. Ruby loves the giant noodle exhibit at the LACMA so we often find ourselves going there to visit that exhibit. They offer free art classes every day in the children's gallery. And on Sundays, the LACMA has Family Day where families can tour the museum for free.

Oh Joy | Family-Friendly Los Angeles | LACMA

Oh Joy | Family-Friendly Los Angeles | LACMA

Afterwards, we love getting a bite to eat at Ray's at Stark Bar. It's fresh, healthy, delicious, and has items that feel fancy yet still totally kid friendly.

Oh Joy | Family-Friendly Los Angeles | Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round

Oh Joy | Family-Friendly Los Angeles | Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round

Oh Joy | Family-Friendly Los Angeles | Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round

Oh Joy | Family-Friendly Los Angeles | Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round

Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round | Griffith Park is full of so many amazing little adventures. As you may have seen from our trip to Paris, Ruby loves merry-go-rounds, so we love bringing her here. It's only 10 minutes from our house and such a nice change from our usual afternoon playground trips. They also have popcorn and treats a plenty to add to the fun.

Continue reading " family-friendly spots in los angeles... " »

oh joy in france / part 3: what we did in lyon... 9 Oct 2013

Oh Joy in Lyon

Oh Joy in Lyon

During our trip to France, we spent five nights in Lyon which is just a couple hours of outside of Paris by train. Bob had a conference for work there, so it was mostly Ruby and I hanging together most of the day, and Bob joined us in the afternoons when he was done work (hence why he is wearing such fancy outfits in most of these photos).

Oh Joy in Lyon

Oh Joy in Lyon

We rented an apartment in the 6th district in Lyon through airbnb. It was perfect for what we needed—spacious, cozy, relatively toddler-safe, and close to grocery stores, parks, and restaurants. Since it was on the 6th floor, we made sure that it had an elevator so that we wouldn't be huffing it every day. However, the elevator was comical. It just barely fit the three of us when all squeezed together.

Once we crammed ourselves in and out of the elevator, here's a what we did while in Lyon...

3rd District

Oh Joy in Lyon | Les Halles de Lyon

Oh Joy in Lyon | Les Halles de Lyon

Oh Joy in Lyon | Les Halles de Lyon

One of my favorite places to visit in any city is an indoor food market with various vendors and purveyors of every kind. Similar to the Reading Terminal Market in Philly or the Ferry Building in San Francisco, Les Halles de Lyon is a food lover's dream with stalls aplenty. We bought some amazing cheese and charcuterie there that topped any cheese and charcuterie we've ever had in the States.

Oh Joy in Lyon | Les Halles de Lyon

Oh Joy in Lyon | Les Halles de Lyon

We even found the tiniest macarons in all the land at the Richart shop there. Ruby loved them because they were just her size!

Les Halles de Lyon | 102 cours Lafayette, 69003 Lyon

Continue reading " oh joy in france / part 3: what we did in lyon... " »

three ways to wear black & white pattern... 19 Sep 2013

 

I love wearing pattern, and I am often asked how to wear bold prints when you're scared of pattern or overwhelmed with how to mix them. So, I decided to show you three different ways to incorporate pattern in your everyday wardrobe with a focus on one of fall's trends—black & white. It's all here in my first style video ever! I hope you guys enjoy it!

To see more Oh Joy videos, please subscribe to my YouTube channel.

See all sources for the outfits below. For any items over $50, I included budget-friendly versions as well!

Continue reading " three ways to wear black & white pattern... " »

how to make vintage clothing work for you... 17 Sep 2013

Oh Joy | How to Make Vintage Work for You

I have always loved the idea of vintage clothes because it's a great way to incorporate unique pieces into your wardrobe that you can't find just anywhere. But it took me many years of buying vintage (and not wearing the vintage pieces I bought) to realize that I just don't have the body type for vintage clothes. I have some friends (like Bri and Jen) who can wear it so well right off the rack. But vintage always tends to be too large or too small on me in certain areas. So, I finally figured out that if I really love a piece, I can make most of them work with easy alterations. A simple hem, cut of the sleeve, or taking in here and there, and it's instantly so much better...

Oh Joy | How to Make Vintage Work for You

Outfit 1: I loved the pattern on this skirt the instant I saw it, but it felt a little too formal with its length. By hemming the skirt just a few inches above the knee, it became more playful. Paired with a casual tee and jacket, the skirt is now the star of the outfit.

{Vintage skirt from Salvage Life, tee from Madewell (past season), denim jacket by Citizens of Humanity, vintage belt, shoes by Anthropologie}

Oh Joy | How to Make Vintage Work for You

Outfit 2: I'm telling you, these vintage patterns get me every time. This skirt was clearly way too big when I bought it, but the pleats and the pattern won me over. By simply shortening it (just above the knee is my favorite length) and bringing it in an inch on the sides, the skirt now fits like a glove.

{Vintage skirt from Salvage Life, chambray tee by Crewcuts (past season), vintage belt, shoes by Anthropologie.}

Oh Joy | How to Make Vintage Work for You

Outfit 3: The color of this skirt just blew my mind! It was way too long and had frumpy written all over it, but I knew I could make it work. I kept the length a little longer here to fall just below the knee, and now it's a flirty skirt that can be dressed up or dressed down.

{Vintage skirt from Arsenic Kitty, top by Boden, jacket from Anthropologie, vintage shoes.}

Oh Joy | How to Make Vintage Work for You

Outfit 4: This top screamed out my name with its fruity print and blast of color. But the fit was much less desirable. It felt too poufy as a long-sleeved top, so I decided to have the sleeves cut into a simple short-sleeve blouse and the sides brought in a bit. Now, it's a top with a summery punch of color that I'll love for years to come.

{Vintage blouse from Wear It Well Vintage, shorts by Whit (past season), sandals by Kate Spade (past season).}

All of a sudden, these frumpy pieces with patterns and colors that I love turned into well-tailored pieces I can actually wear. So I encourage you to think twice when you see a piece that isn't quite right. I spent about $15-20 on each of these alterations at my local dry cleaner. If the changes are pretty simple with a shortening of the hem, sleeves, or sides (and not major repairs), it's so worth having a great piece that's totally unique and totally you!

{Photos by Casey Brodley for Oh Joy}

the lazy girl's guide to makeup... 9 Sep 2013

Oh Joy | Lazy Girl's Guide to Makeup

I have always dreaded the process of having to get ready for the day—curling hair, straightening hair, putting on makeup—I honestly spent most of my teen and adult life makeup-less and didn't even wear mascara on my wedding day. I've only started putting a bit more effort into my daily routine in the last couple years because I realize what a difference it makes in the way you feel and how you go about your day.

I still keep my look pretty minimal simply because I'm kind of a lazy girl when it comes to makeup. I recently had a chance to have a consultation with a beauty stylist at Nordstrom beauty spot and asked for recommendations on how I can still do minimal amount of work to get ready in the morning, but still look put together. And let's be honest—as a mom, I take care of myself last so it's gotta be quick or I'm not going to do it. So today, I wanted to share these tips with you in case you're like me and need a little prodding to get into the whole beauty thing. These steps are quick, easy, and make such a big difference (did you see my before and after above?)

Oh Joy | Lazy Girl's Guide to Makeup

Here's my new morning beauty routine that takes just 10 minutes! This might be a no-brainer for those of you who are expert makeup users, but there a few items here I had never used and now love...

Continue reading " the lazy girl's guide to makeup... " »

my favorite edible gifts... 29 Jul 2013

Edible-gifts

One of the most common questions I get from my friends is suggestions for edible thank you/birthday/anytime gifts. I'm kind of obsessed with food gifts, so I wanted to share my favorites with you...

Molly-penny-cookies

Cookies. You can never go wrong with cookies, unless your friend doesn't like cookies, in which case you might want to consider un-friending him or her right now. I love Molly Penny (shown above), The Cravory, and Milk Jar Cookies for the soft, chewy cookies, and Früute and Whimsy & Spice for crisp cookies.

Liddabit-sweets-tallyhos

Homemade Candy Bars. Homemade candy bars are a nice update to the typical box-of-chocolates gift. I love Liddibit Sweets (shown above), whose offerings change seasonally, as well as Sweeteeth, Mast Brothers, Chocolate Editions, and Komforte Bars for alternatives to your standard chocolate bar flavors. Candy bars are also a great option for when you need to spend less than $20 on a gift.

Momofuku-milk-bar-cake

Cake. How often does a whole cake show up at your door? A cake is an awesome way to say, "Happy birthday, eat your heart out!" I love Momofuku Milk Bar for its unique flavors (the cake truffles are awesome, too) and Georgetown Cupcakes for those who like their cake in smaller bites.

Carmela-ice-cream-scoops

Ice Cream. Ice cream is usually a tougher (and more expensive) gift to send due to the express shipping costs and the fact that it has to stay cold. But if you're willing to spend the money and can make sure the receiver will be home, it's a pretty awesome gift to have show up at your front door. My favorites are from Jeni's and Ciao Bella (the Key lime graham flavor is one of my favorites ever). There is even a site that ships a ton of ice cream brands (genius!). 

Finally, for you savory folks, a few suggestions of the salty kind...

Pickles. This is kind of the best gift ever to send to a pregnant friend, especially if she loves pickles like I do. I think I received like 10 jars of pickles when we first announced we were pregnant with Ruby—and even if your friend doesn't eat those pickles right away, they're kind of the gift that keeps on giving thanks to their shelf-stability. My favorites right now are from Gordy's, McClure's, and Mother in Law's (if you want to get into the kimchi territory).

Charcuterie and Cheese. This is my favorite gift to send to a new mom. It's like, "Hey, you had your baby, now you can eat all the soft cheeses and cured meats you want again!" I love Beecher's and Zingerman's, as well as the options from great food gift sites like Fab and Dean & DeLuca.

So, there you go...now go give something delicious to someone you really love, like, or whom you want to love/like you back! ;) 

{Photos by Oh Joy}

some of my favorite apps lately... 17 Jul 2013

Oh Joy | Favorite Apps

As much as I sometimes want to resist the technology we have nowadays, it honestly makes life more convenient in so many ways. Today, I want to share a few favorite apps that are part of my every day...

Endless-alphabet-app

There are so many apps for kids, and we're always on the hunt to find ones that are both educational and entertaining for Ruby. While she's not quite ready to read or spell, she does enjoy matching shapes and loves the Endless Alphabet app that my friend Viv introduced us to. In addition to letting the child match a word's letters, it gives definitions of each word—both verbally and visually—as well as the sound for each letter as it's being pressed. It's such a cute and smart app, and it steps outside the usual "cat" and "dog" words, which I love.

Yahoo-weather-app

I check the weather pretty much every day and find a lot of joy in the beauty of the Yahoo! Weather app. The app showcases the work of photographers who use Flickr, with the weather information overlaid on photos of the corresponding city and its time of day. It all creates a beautiful visual of what your day looks like weather-wise.

Continue reading " some of my favorite apps lately... " »

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