Category Archives: Guest Blogger

Wolfie’s Dad Presents: Top 5 Picture Books We Love.

It’s National Children’s Book Week! Hip Hip Hurray! Nothing makes me happier than being in a library or book store. The smell of paper….getting lost in the pages of a wonderful story….it’s simply one of my all time favorite things to do. We try and limit the amount of toys and junk we buy for Wolfie (not always successfully!!), but the one thing I’ve always been really lax about was books. If he wants a book, I pretty much always buy it for him, because encouraging a love of reading is so important! Putting together a list of Top Favorite Books is near impossible for me. So I enlisted some help from the hubs! Greg is an amazing dad and while I really enjoy reading with Wolfie, somehow we have made Greg the Official Bedtime Story Guy. I asked him to give me his Top 10 favorite books to read with Wolfie.

Hi Modern Kiddo readers. Greg here. In our house, I do the reading before bedtime. My wife, well, she does what we call the “cuddle up.” That means she lies down with the boy before he falls asleep. Yes, he’s getting a little old for that. Yes, he’s an only child.

While I love reading to him, it’s baseball season and there are definitely nights when bed time rolls around and I’m in the middle of a game. So the other day I asked, “Why do I always have to read to the boy?” It was a legitimate question. She loves reading to him and throwing down the gauntlet when it comes to who can do better character voices. In fine wifey fashion, she replied, “Because that’s what you do.” I was also informed a few days before that I was the member of the family that “called people”. Apparentely I’m the “phone person.” This arbitrary rule is classic Alix— and meant that I am the one who always calls the doctor, the tax guy, etc. In a relationship, this is called concession. But I digress.

When she approached me about reviewing my Top 10 Kids Picture Books, I toyed with saying, “But you’re the Blog Person.” I didn’t think that would go over well, so I simply countered with “How ’bout a Top 5?” She accepted.

So, here’s my Top 5 books that I read to the Wolf Cub before the cuddle up. This is by no means exhaustive, but these are books that we sure think are great.

1. Jenny’s Birthday Bookby Esther Averill

It’s a big day for Jenny Linsky, a shy little black cat in Greenwich Village. Her brothers, Checkers and Edward, take her out for her birthday. They pick up a bunch of other cats, including Pickles, the Fire Cat, who rounds up everyone in his fire truck to take them to the park. Originally published in 1957, it’s pretty darn cute.

The best part of this book is a secondary character named Florio, an eccentric cat who’s prone to wearing a feather headband to express his individuality. You can’t go wrong with a character who wears an Indian feather. Discovering Florio was like seeing Jon Bon Jovi wearing a Native American chest plate in the Blaze of Glory video. Like Florio, Jovi, (who is 1/128th Cherokee) was expressing his individuality through Native American garb. Love it.


2. Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile (Lyle the Crocodile) by Bernard Waber

Ahh, the simple urban tale of a domesticated alligator living in New York with the Primm family on the upper east side. East 88th Street, to be exact. All’s well until Lyle goes shopping with Mrs. Primm at a fancy department store. Lyle bumps into Signor Valenti, “star of stage and screen,” who happens to be Lyle’s old vaudeville partner. Valenti is dying to “get the band back together” so he and Lyle perform for the crowd—annoying Lyle’s curmudgeonly neighbor (who works in the men’s department) and who gets Lyle shipped off to the zoo. Will Lyle ever get back home? Will life ever return to normal? And more importantly, will Signor Valenti be forced to tour Australia by himself?? We love Lyle.

3. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems.

If I were 22, listened to The Black Lips and had a 4-year old from a tryst in highschool, I sure as hell would get a tattoo of this pigeon on my forearm. Pigeons get a bad rap. At work, when a pigeon flies through our side door into the building, I yell, “Get the hell out of here, pigeon!” To his credit, the pigeon usually turns around and flies out the door. If a sparrow does the same thing, the sparrow ends up flying into a window or floundering on the ceiling. This leads me to suspect pigeons are smarter than we think. And this book is smarter than you might think too. Super simple drawings and a fun interactive story (with the pigeon constantly pestering you to let him drive the bus) make for an instant classic. Bottom line? Pigeons rule; Sparrows drool.

4. Polkabats and Octopus Slacks: 14 Stories, by Calef Brown.

This collection of color illustrations and quirky poems is amazing. What other book can explores themes like funky snowmen, a disco octopus and even bird turds in a way that is silly and fun for both adult and child alike? The one-page, rhyming “stories” allow the reader to conjure up many voices: a Boston accent, a curmudgeonly recluse, an early hip hop guy, a hobo salesman. For some reason I never find these books in book stores, but order it online. You’ll be happy you did. This (along with Brown’s other book, Dutch Sneakers and Flea Keepers) was in high rotation around these parts for over a year. Plus, a famous friend of mine suggested the book. And I always listen to famous friends.

5. Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen

Like those Christmas commercials with all the sleeping babies, I cried the first time I read this…and maybe the second and third time too. Now, I’m hardened and, despite a personal fantasy of having a soft, fluffy pet lion that I can rest my head on during story time and that dusts and  who will lick stamps for me, my eyes are dry. I’m hard; the story is not. I won’t tell you what it’s about, but know that it is perfect.


So there you have it. My Top 5. I’m sure I’ll think of five more tonight. And I’m sure Alix will say, “See? You should have made it a Top 10.” To which I will respond, “Sorry….I had to go call the tax guy.”

— Greg Kim, Star of Stage and Screen

I love every book on this list (I especially love the Calef Brown books…..they’re super fun!). We’d LOVE to hear some of your favorite books!

You can find my snarky husband over on his blog, Sit Down Casper, where he writes autobiographical short stories about being a young punk/rock dude in the 70s/80s. I warn you, he is a little more irreverent then me. He also swears. But he really does get all misty eyed at those Silent Night, Sleeping Baby Pamper’s commericals….

Guest Post :: Makin’ Time for Mama with Miz Landry

One of the best parts about becoming a parent is the fact that your amazing child become such a huge part of your world. And one of the most challenging parts becoming a parent is the fact that your child become such a huge part of your world. It’s easy to forget yourself in the equation some times. My friend Lynn (aka Miz Landry) is a sassy, spunky, wine lovin’ gal from New Orleans and one of my dearest friends. We both had boy’s a month apart (her Miles and my Wolfie are great buddies) and she has an incredible joie de vivre. Lynn has a great outlook on the “time for your self” deal and I asked her to share her unique One Night Out with us. It’s something I’d like to start doing myself!

Hi there! Miz Landry is here completely flattered that Dottie and Alix asked me to guest post about my favorite day of the week, TUESDAY. Why, I’m enjoying this lovely Tuesday right now, blogging away at the Alameda Free Library. A few minutes ago I was sprung free of my momly shackles to do whatever I want for a few hours. Tonight’s plan is to blog, but aside from that, there is no plan.

Love these crazy guys, but sometimes, I need to be by myself.

What’s so special about Tuesday nights? Well, after becoming a mom, I sort of fell into a funk and felt like I was never going to be me again. My husband and I came up with the idea to each have a night off. Somehow, we made it happen and we’ve been having our One Night Out for years and don’t plan to stop any time soon!  Let me clarify. The Night Out is not about doing anything special. The point is, whether I spend it riding around in the minivan listening to NPR, eating sushi alone, or lassoing friends for drinks at some swank San Francisco bar, this One Night Out is mine.

Mmmmmm…sushi and sake. I also like that it’s very friendly to the solo diner. Robert, the chef at Majori knows me now.

Many parents we know take nights out. What’s different about our One Night Out Manifesto is that we have a scheduled time, rather than just going out with friends as things come up. This helps, especially in my case, because I don’t have to negotiate anything. I didn’t realize how much I craved unstructured time and how, once you have children, you have to schedule your spontaneity.

From there, there’s no limit (well, marriage vows, safety, and promising to come home are limits, but aside from THAT). One thing I didn’t want to do was join a club or something because then that feeling of obligation sets in and the whole point is to not have to commit for just a brief amount of time.

I said there was no limit (with limits), but there are rules. Only a few. With a clear set of rules, you give your self a night that is open to possibilities. While I love my children and my husband, the chance to recharge and discover the world on my own terms is priceless. I am reminded that I used to be independent, interesting, and bold. And that I still am.

North Beach is a favorite Tuesday destination. I feel like I’m on vacation.

The One Night Out Manifesto

Pick a night and stick to it. Sometimes things happen, but the reason why this works so well is that each of us know that one night a week we don’t have to ask permission, seek a sitter, coordinate, or feel guilty about our time alone. We keep weekends as family or date nights. I have Tuesdays and my husband has Thursdays.

Determine your childcare. We are fortunate in that my mother-in-law takes the kids after school on my night so that from 3:30 until curfew, I’m free. She gets time with the kids, my husband picks them up and we are all happy. There is a chance that this may change, so we are exploring a babysitter on Tuesdays so that I can take off earlier than when hubby gets home. I have made contact with a teen sitter around the corner.

Determine a curfew or a check in time. If we are going to be out later than 9:30pm, we have to let the other one know so that no one worries. This rule stemmed because one of us (me) had a little too much fun one night and stumbled in rather late. Especially for a Tuesday.

Do not use it to join a club, or do anything that requires commitment. I mean, you can, because, hey it’s a free country, but that sense of obligation takes over. Keep it loose.

Do not use the one night out to run errands. Let’s face it, isn’t that what we do all the time anyway?

That said, there are exceptions to rules. Things happen. While I have avoided most group activities, I haven’t been able to resist being a part of the Dames de Gateau, a group of cool vintage-wearing ladies who dine in vintage restaurants in the Bay Area. And, lately, as work schedules have gotten whacky, hubby and I have had to swap or skip a few nights. But, those changes make me appreciate the beauty of the one night out all the ore.

I strongly recommend you try it. Hubby and I promised to work in a similar program for date night.

As long as it’s not on Tuesdays!

Thank you so much Lynn. I love this! Keep up with Miz Landry’s One Night Out escapades on her blog, One Night Out!

Guest Post :: Vintage Sugarcube!

Oh lawdy, how I loves this sassy lady! But really how can you not?

Jenny J. is the spectacular Vintage Sugarcube and fab friend to ModernKiddo! She takes one perfect recipe and matches it with a hilarious story and fancy vintage togs to blow our little ole minds with every post. And let’s not forget about the piles of hair that are oh so close to God.  I want to put her in my back pocket and bring her out whenever I need to sparkle up! Because, this lady knows how to sparkle.

So, let’s get chatting with our favorite vintage cooking cutie!



Did you know that April is “National Grilled Cheese Month”? I’ve pretty much declared April as, “National Pose with the Hotties Your Friends are Dating Month.” Cheese and Hotties? Can it get any more delicious in here? I think the sound of a “Fetish & Honey Sammie” takes the cake. Who knew, a grilled cheese could be kicked up to “sophisticated dessert” status.

But let’s talk about old boyfriends for a minute. It was an old boyfriend of mine that taught me that feta is only a zillion times better if it’s bought in a block and imported from Bulgaria. Yes, I realize Bulgaria is nowhere near Greece. He was also the same boyfriend that taught me if a man looks sexy by the way he sits in a chair, then you need to seriously brace yourself for what’s about to come.

Ginormous thanks to my fabulous friend Ingrid, for not only snapping these photos, but also letting me borrow her über foxy fellow.

Recipe inspired by The Rose Wine Bar in Southpark

  • 1 whole wheat pita pocket
  • 2 oz feta from block (don’t even think of buying the crumbled crap)
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • drizzle of honey

Open pita completely and fill with slices of block feta. Leave about 1 inch around edge of pita free. This is so when the feta melts it won’t make a mess. Drizzle skillet with olive oil and grill feta filled pita on each side until slightly browned. Drizzle honey on top.

Behave tonight!


Oh, Miz VS, I can’t get enough of you! Thanks for sharing this divine sounding and I’m sure equally divine tasting treat with us here at!



Guest Postie :: Mod Specs for Kids with Mari from Small for Big

Hi friends, Dottie here! I’m still out today, but we have a special treat. The lovely and charming Mari from Small for Big is chatting about something near and dear to my heart—sassy specs for kiddos! I personally have been wearing glasses since I was eight years old. I’ve probably owned 50 pairs of glasses in my life so far and I love them.  A friend of mine’s little boy was diagnosed with needing eyeglasses and she was so upset about it, until I showed her pix of little Miss Birdie, Mari’s wee girlie rocking her glasses. Nuff said!

Hello Modern Kiddo readers! It’s Mari here. When Dottie asked if I’d do a post on children’s eyewear, I admit it, I did a happy dance. Birdie has been wearing glasses since she was 16 months old, so I am absolutely positive that any research I do will only help keep us on the ball when it’s time to get our next pair! Well, as long as I have any say in it of course. I suppose one day she’s going to ask me for something Disney-related. I can’t bear to think about it.

So I won’t! Let’s start with the brands Birdie currently owns. First, we have BBig’s almost round red glasses with their brilliant yellow and white stripey interior. BBig does a great job at keeping things sassy without resorting to flowers, bugs, teddy bears and their ilk. Thank heavens.

Then, we have Zoobugs.  This line is no longer available in the states, but I have a new blog friend who was so desperate for a pair I know for a fact you can order frames directly from Zoobugs if you’d like your very own.

Meanwhile,  I’m still regretting the vintage children’s cat eyes I left behind last summer at a flea market. This pair of kids cat eyes is a close second.

And of course how can anyone go wrong with vintage daisy eyewear?

For a more modern take on vintage, check out these unbelievably perfect options from Etnia Barcelona, I’m swooning over here. Would it be horrible to buy matching pairs for Birdie and myself? That’s a yes, right?


And Red Optical in London has some uber mod selections:


Even if Harry Potter made them commonplace, a pair of perfectly round horn-rimmed specs still makes my heart flutter (no, I do NOT have a potter crush, that’s a platonic flutter). These Solo Bambini Glasses will fix my addiction.

If you have to do flowers, I’ve found the perfect pair from J.F. Rey:


It’s time to hop over to the crazy side. How about Agatha Ruiz de la Prada’s crazy cool rainbow frames:

Or these “practical” baby pacifier sunglasses (found via Handmade Charlotte).

Last but not least, there was some concern Birdie would need an eyepatch – this is a common problem with bespeckled kidlets. But who wants a bandaid over their eye? (Being a former bandaged eye girl, I know the embarrassment, the terror, and the tickling of the eyelashes). Instead, I’m over the moon for this girls eyepatch from Hello My Name is Heather:

Pretty amazing, no? Thanks again Miss Dottie for the invite— it is always a pleasure to come over to the Modern Kiddo POV!

Awww!  And thank you, Mari! I’m such a fan of Mari and Miss Birdie—you can read about her adventures and find some great toy ideas from Mari at er blog, Small for Big. It is truly one of my most favorite blogs out there.  BTW check out Mari’s wonderful video submission for the HopScout Stay at Home Millionaire contest. And vote for it. Right now. I actually go back and watch it again and again because it makes me smile again and again!

Guest Postie :: Bet Yer Bottom Dollar with Karen Finlay!

Hey, guess what? Miss Alix is back from Hawaii…..but now I’m out on vacation! Never fear, however, because I have a fantastic collection of Guest Posties all lined up to cover for me this week. And we begin with a bang! Friends, I’m about to introduce you to one of the most fabulous ladies I know. This is a woman who I’ve only gotten to know recently, but she’s already on my top twenty list with a bullet. It’s the effervescent Ms. Karen Finlay, whose hysterical writing can be found at her divine blog, 97 Things To Do Before I Turn 97.  Karen is one of the Dames du Gateau (our retro supper club) and I knew I adored her because within the first five minutes of meeting her she quoted Auntie Mame. Did I mention she sells Tupperwere too? Yup, she is THAT fabulous.

She’s also fabulous enough to share this wonderful childhood fascination she had with the Broadway musical Annie.  And after all these years, I thought it was just me…Enjoy!

Image: Bhagwan Photos

The first time I ever went to the Thee-a-tah (not including a children’s performance of The Sound of Music for Monica Schroff’s birthday party in the second grade where the little girl playing Gretl got stage fright and we laughed) was to see Annie in fourth grade.

Here’s a big surprise: I was obsessed with Annie. (I’d bet my bottom dollar that lots of little red headed girls in the 70’s were. Annie and unicorns.) I played the 8-track over and over. I learned how to play “Tomorrow” and “Maybe” on the piano, warbling along with feeling. I envied my parents for being children in The Great Depression. I secretly called our dog, named Spot, Sandy. And when the stage play came to town, things got worse.

Image: CTV News.

I was beside myself with excitement. We were going to San Francisco to see a play (and not just any play), and I was wearing my fanciest dotted swiss dress. We had front row balcony seats, so I could lean over and see the stage perfectly. And when I opened the program, I gasped. I looked just like the little girl playing Annie, Patricia Ann Patts. (Before the transformation to the curly haired, red dressed Annie Warbucks. I looked like the scraggly orphan, despite the dotted swiss.) And I wasn’t the only one who thought so—everyone around me gasped, too, and the usher came and pulled my arm and said, “You shouldn’t be here! You should be getting ready!”

I was destined to be a star.

After that, all I wanted to do was star in Annie. For the first time in my life I actually practiced piano, singing along with even more feeling. I was Annie — complete with one of my mom’s old curly wigs — for Halloween. I made up tap dances in my room, though I had never taken a lesson and we had wall to wall carpeting. I dreamed of the day when an agent —my own personal Daddy Warbucks— would discover me and whisk me away to the bright lights of Broadway. I begged my parents to take me to auditions, but they always seemed to have something else going on.

Image: Chicago Theater Blog and

And then I sang “Tomorrow” in the fifth grade camp talent show and I, along with everyone else that I’d been bragging to that I was going to be the best Annie ever, discovered that I didn’t really have talent after all. I couldn’t just stick out my chin and grin and say that the sun would come out tomorrow. My life was OVER and I was only ten.

But… I was a resilient ten year old. I got over my bitter heartbreak and moved on to “Fur Elise” in piano. I became more obsessed with the soundtrack for the movie Xanadu and teen heart-throb Timothy Hutton than a plucky orphan and her stray dog. I even managed to set foot inside the thee-a-tah again.

For a long time I worked in a bookstore, and one of my customers was Carole Shorenstein Hayes, who essentially runs the theaters in San Francisco. She was very kind to me, and set me up with tickets for all the opening night shows for about four years. I got to see everything from Les Miserables to The Sound of Music (starring Marie Osmond!) to Cats and Phantom of the Opera (both of which I hated). And yes, even Annie. I still knew all the words, and still felt the flush of embarrassment at the thought of flailing so hard at the fifth grade camp talent show.

Image: Cast News

I loved it. I loved going to Will Call and getting the tickets, and then settling down in plush seats and looking at the ornate walls and loges. I loved hearing the sounds of the orchestra warming up, and the moment when the house lights dim and the initial crash of music or the action on the stage. I loved being sucked into the story and falling in love with the actors — such intimacy, especially up close when you can see them spit and the microphones on their foreheads. (I usually got really good seats.) I loved intermission and seeing all the dressed-up people in the lobby, as I would stand there and marvel at all of it. (One time, Danielle Steele and her brood of a hundred children sat in front of my mom and me — in Ms. Steele’s Chanel suit’s pocket was a bottle of Maalox. So glamorous!)

But all good things come to an end — the bookstore closed and my days of free theater and glamour ended. I hadn’t been back for years until I treated myself to a discount ticket to see Grey Gardens on Broadway a few years ago. My God. Talk about HEAVEN and a dream come true. I sat in my slightly obstructed seat in the amazing Walter Kerr theater and had to pinch myself that it was really happening.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Aww, thanks Karen for reminiscing about your love of Annie. I’m totally right there with you, lady! But I must admit, that this is only PART of the post Karen wrote about Annie and her love of theater. Really, you MUST read the rest