Monday, September 30, 2013

Park Day: Edward Vincent Jr. Park (formerly Centinela Park), Inglewood

This park had an amazing number of mature oak trees! Lots of beautiful sycamores as well.

Happy after a snooze in the stroller.

Good morning. Check out my sexy legs!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Field-Trip Sunday: Star Eco Station

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

SILVANA FINO: A High-Octane Nanny for Your High-Performance Family

Silvana and the boys in March 2013.
Do you need amazing childcare and household help? Look no further than our wonderful nanny, Silvana Fino. We are truly, deeply attached to her but we can no longer support a full-time nanny position now that my older son is in school full-time. (If we had endless funds and a bigger house we'd want her to move in with us.)

Silvana Fino is not just a nanny, she is a rock star. Actually, we describe her as a Navy SEAL nanny because she can parachute into any situation and immediately start problem-solving. "Household manager" doesn't even begin to describe the breadth and depth of her skill set. I think she can do anything, not least of which is really understand a family and most importantly, nurture children. She is the best kind of self-starter, and she would be a huge asset to any family. She is a high-octane nanny for a high performance family and anyone who is lucky enough to get her will become totally spoiled, not to mention deeply happy and thankful!

CHILDCARE: My kids adore her. The baby flips over and arches in her direction whenever he hears her in the morning, and my older son sometimes just sighs and says, "Silvana...I love her." The three-year-old (and all his little same-age friends) think she's the best thing ever, and they actually mind her. Silvana just has a way about her--some magic combination of warmth, love and authority--that makes her wonderful. I think of her as my kids' "bonus mom," and the kids call her "mamacita bonita." On a much, much shallower note, she makes my kids look so pretty! She picks out the best outfits, keeps the boys utterly spic-and-span, and she can even do haircuts in a pinch. 

TEACHING: She taught my older son how to ride his tricycle and how to blow bubbles underwater for his swimming class. A natural teacher, Silvana discovers what it is that your kid wants or needs to learn and then gives him the undivided attention and encouragement he needs to get there. She's also helped me become a better parent--some cooking stuff, some behavior management stuff, some babycare stuff. I never expected this about having a nanny/household manager, but I love having another person (besides my husband) with whom to share observations and ideas about my kids and their growth. Her English is impeccable and she is smart as a whip (she came here when she was 14 and was out of ESL classes after the first semester), which was actually the one thing I wanted for my kids when we frantically tried to find help after the new baby was born. Silvana just radiates smarts and your kids will love talking to her and learning about life from her.

DECLUTTERING: Silvana doesn't just pick up toys or do the baby's laundry, although she certainly does do that, she also serves as a sort of freelance personal organizer. She might not work on your file cabinets, but if you let her loose anywhere else, you'll delighted with the outcome. My kids' drawers used to be a mess--Silvana rearranged the clothes bureaus so they made more sense, culled the outgrown stuff, and keeps everything folded and stacked as neat as can be. I swear her folding is so sharp you could cut your finger on the edges. When she has free time because the kids are napping, she rearranges and sorts linen closets, kitchen storage areas and oh yeah, my garage. Our garage is now a full-time ginormous play area because Silvana worked her booty off over several days to clean it out and arrange it so the kids could use it to play! Having all the toys out of the house has opened up so much space in our house. My parents keep commenting, "Your house seems so much bigger since Silvana's been here."

COOKING/MARKETING: Silvana has fed my children (and us) soooo well since she started. We never in a million years thought we were hiring someone who could or would cook, but before we knew it we were enjoying soups and veggie stir-frys and the most amazing pasta dishes. I am drooling right now thinking about her stews and her rice and oh, her orzo is to die for. She started with us when I had a newborn, so I wasn't doing much to feed anyone but him. Silvana jumped right in and was ready and willing to cook us wonderful meals, make my son's breakfast and prepare his lunch for school, etc. We quickly got her an ATM card on our account and she took over most of the grocery shopping as well. She creates amazing flavors and somehow just turns whatever is in your cabinets into deliciousness. (She also used our decorative fire pit to make carne asada, and she turns the extra avocados from my mom's tree into Honduran-style guacamole.)

CLEANING/LAUNDRY: Somehow, she does all our laundry (and not just clothes--she's washed couch cushions and bedding and car seat covers and more), and our house has never been cleaner. If we leave her alone in the house without any kids to watchshe takes on deep cleaning projects, like scrubbing our kitchen floor to reveal that the accent tile is actually white (not brown, ahem), pulling out the washer/dryer/stove to dust and scrub underneath them, removing soap scum from shower doors, etc. Silvana's housekeeping skills are amazing, and her work has made our home so much more pleasant and livable. 


  • Valentine's Day arrived shortly after our second baby, so we weren't feeling particularly romantic; Silvana took the initiative to cook us a special romantic dinner, decorate the table and even buy flowers!
  • She designed and built an entire piñata by hand from scratch for my son’s birthday.
  • When reading the Curious George story where George makes the toy boats out of newspaper, she actually gets out a piece of paper and folds the boat.
  • She has literally never been late and she has certainly never missed a day of work. For that matter, we don't think we've ever even seen her sitting still.

The achievements listed above are just a small fraction of all the wonderful things she can do or has done for our family, and we are just so delighted and honored to have had her with us this past year.

Silvana lives in Culver City and would ideally prefer to work somewhere on the Westside, Mid-City or the Beach Cities. She has her own reliable car that she has been willing and able to use for taking my son to playdates and activities. A full-time position would be ideal, but if you're at all interested, please reach out no matter what your schedule or location.

If you need excellent childcare or household help, you will never regret it if you take the opportunity to hire Silvana with her 15 years of work experience, her exceptional skill and her outstanding professional instincts.

Please contact me so I can put you in touch: or 424-672-0150.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Field-Trip Sunday: Will Rogers State Park, Pacific Palisades

On Sunday I wanted to get the kiddos out of the house but I needed something more exciting than our usual nature walk at Playa Vista and I didn't want to commit to anything more involved since the boys' uncle A. was coming to visit. I was thinking of checking out Malibu Creek State Park, but it was easier to visit Will Rogers State Park, which our family has enjoyed for years. Despite the heat, it was a great outing and I think the boys had fun too. 

Lathered in sunscreen, strapped in the double stroller, and ready to go!

Checking out the ranch house on the way up the hill.

We took the Inspiration Point Loop trail, and this is the view from about halfway up.

Tuckered out: Two little boys fast asleep, exhausted after the grueling hike that they experienced entirely from the cushioned comfort of a double stroller. Next time I might make the big guy walk!