Reflections: Giving Thanks & some pics

Hi there!

Last week was quite stressful with Dominika going to the emergency room while papi was out of town. The tension from having Mark Walter, my husband, arrive from Paris just two days before the attacks happened there and all the horrible things that go through one's mind with the what ifs. I knew I was tense because my breath gets shallow and I tend to hold it. Does anyone else out there experiences this?! I think this is so silly, haha.

Today I wanted to share a happy list of things that give me joy and that I'm grateful for lately plus some pictures from a little outing with friends at the SF Botanical Gardens at Golden Gate Park. You guys already know I love this place very much. Bliss!

  • When I see a friend growing as a person
  • When my son cuddles with me and I can see his sweet eyes sparkling with love
  • My daughter Dominika and her mix of a goofy, corky and sassy nature. She says the funniest things! 
  • Hard boiled eggs fresh and warm with salt and pepper
  • My husband bringing me my favorite chocolate from Trader Joes. Score!
  • A recently acquired selfie stick for family selfies! Woot, woot!
  • For having a Friendsgiving to look forward to tomorrow
  • The sensuous smell of pumpkin pie in the oven, like right now;-)
  • crafting with my kids
  • Fresh flower arrangements that the hubs picked out
  • For my canon camera that I enjoy using and preserving family memories
  • For all the beautiful dreams God has placed in my heart
  • For having a Papa in heaven that cares and loves me
  • For realizing that I am still a child on the inside
  • For water in my home
  • For a lovely neighbor and friend that has become like family to me
  • For living in this gorgeous city
  • For the promise of the future

There is so much to be thankful for, the fact that we are alive and breathing, is a cause for celebration. Let's make each day count and create memories we are proud to look back to.

A few pics: San Francisco Botanical Gardens and Alamo Square park

Nature is ever inspiring. I have never been at the Botanical Gardens before this outing and I was amazed. From the front of the entrance, it looks sort of attractive but not so much as to have pulled me there in the past. Well, I was wrong! It happens to be such a gorgeous place! 

kids chasing the geese.

My friend and I took the kids out for a little outing a couple weeks ago, for Columbus day. I have been terrible at posting our outings and adventures lately but somehow I always come back to it because I like blogging. Anyways, the kids had so much fun that they pretty much played with sticks and leaves and ran around chasing the geese, that we didn't even see half of the place in the couple of hours we were there!

Mark and mami <3

I love the above picture of Mark Jacinto and I so much! He is wearing an Ohio State sweater because that boy's heart is close to Ohio, were his grandparents live. My camera lenses had the stabilizer off, so I ended up with very few usable pictures but fortunately my friend Mei sent some pics she took that day. All her photos are marked with an ** and you can find more of her beautiful photos on her Instagram account

**this pic is hilarious. can't remember what they were saying..

We had a picnic in the middle of a bright and beautiful day, the kids literally played in nature for hours. Below, Mark and his friend were building a house together. Their conversations were pretty hilarious.

**Love this pic so much^.^

Are you watching Emma?

She loves water

Dominika had lots of fun watching the lake and chasing squirrels, picking rocks and getting dirty. After us moms were tired of being there for hours, while the kids could have happily stayed there for a lot longer, we got coffee and headed to Alamo Square park for a little extra adventure before our journey for the day was over. Needless to say these kids ended up exhausted but somehow wanted more! Endless energy, I'll tell ya.

My friend Mei and my daughter Dominika.

**

sand angels^.^

View from the park, remember Full House? 

It was a lovely outing in the gorgeous city of San Francisco.  Thankful. 

Have an awesome weekend!

A pumpkin patch in the city!

A sweet friendship refreshes the soul
— Proverbs 27:9

Hello amigos!

I just came from an awesome date my husband and I had tonight, mouth watering duck and sea bass dinner, great conversations while watering the plant of our marriage. Her name is Lolita; she was named over ten years ago when we started dating. 

Today, more than I have felt in a while, I feel very blessed to build sweet friendships and lasting relationships with really great people. While we don't have family living in San Francisco, we have wonderful friends that have become like family, aunts and uncles, sisters and brothers.

I'm giddy to share a little outing we had with some great mama friends and their cubs. 

The gang.

He was so excited to find different looking pumpkins.

It was Friday afternoon, the goal was to enjoy time at the pumpkin patch, grab some pumpkins and then go for pizza on Irving street. It was my friend Lidia and her girl's first time experiencing a pumkin patch; they loved it! 

Beautiful amigas<3.

The kids spent  significant  time grabbing, grouping, categorizing and organizing pumpkins according to size and color, while giving us mamas a chance to talk and catch up. I find that nature always allows for this sort of break because the kids always end up inventing their own games with the "natural toys" available. As a results, mothers become observers and kids explore their environment in a very engaged manner. There a camping trips and nature walks in the near future for the Kropf family.

Pumpkin nirvana!

I love these kiddos<2

I was so excited to find out there is a pumpkin patch in the city! I mean, it is quite the accomplishment for Clancy's Pumpkin Patch to achieve this sort of thing. They offered hay rides and pony rides. The staff was really nice and attentive as well.

What are you sayin'...?

Look at Emma's face...priceless, haha.

Pumpkinssss!

On a mission

She fell in love with that rabbit( part of the patch decor).

There were carts available so the kids could push their own pumkins but instead they decided to carry each other, except miss Dominika wanted to carry her baby bunny everywhere. It was hard for her to leave Mr. Bunny there.

Playing hide and seek.

Dominika is such a nurturer<3

Lidia and her girl

Nuestras amigas lindas<3

We did the hay ride and the kids had a blast. When we got home there was hay everywhere, in their tummies, in their armpits in their..

Hey,  ride!

The start of the hay ride.

After the hay ride, we decided it was time to go have dinner on Irving street. Emma's mom always has great suggestions for food. She recommended Park Chow so we all met there. Park Chow is a very family friendly restaurant. Due to the size of our party, we ended up going to the second floor which had a delightful atmosphere. If you  are in San Francisco and hungry while strolling your family at Golden Gate park, I highly recommend this restaurant.

Emma feeding Mark Jacinto; a very functional relationship;-)

We had a great time with our friends, specially Mark Jacinto, who after having dinner suggested Emma fed him too;-)

These kids, I'll tell ya...

Till next time.

Bay Area Discovery Museum

It has taken me a while since I got to post this very fun outing we had with our beloved friends. Mei and Emma graciously picked us up in the morning( after having to drive everywhere for many years we are excited to live in a place that doesn't require a car to get around, and if we need them, there is Uber and Zipcar available!). It felt like a roadtrip or something because the atmosphere was one of adventure, fun and discovery; I was super giddy myself. 

There is something really exciting about going to a new place, a place you have never been before. We were going to the Bay Area Discovery Museum. I had heard many good things about this place from friends before, but never made the trip there until that gorgeous day. 

We buckled up and I said: "Are you ready?" and the photo below explains their response..." yeaaaahhhh" haha.

Yeaaahhhhh!

Crossing the bridge to get to the museum.

Talking about flowers and their smell^.^

Builders.

Sorry, Dominika. I think this photo is hilarious. I do correct you though, stop it girl!

I was seriously impressed with this place, part of it because it's pretty cool but also because it has the gorgeous view of the bridge right in front of your very eyes and you see the city of San Francisco from the other side. Sidenote: things really do take an interesting view from another angle. 

There were several buildings in total for arts & crafts, special exhibits, a bunch of little connected playgrounds; pretty cool if you ask me. The only things is, if you visit this place and is crowded, keeping an eye when your child is on the playground boat is not enough. You cannot see what is going on inside, I almost got purple holding my breath because, for a moment, couldn't find Mark Jacinto. Yeah, a mother's worst nightmare. EVER.

Once we learn our lesson with the boat, we explored a bit of the greenery and scenery surrounding the place. Such a beautiful day! The breeze we got from the Bay was very refreshing. Sun shining but not burning...HEAVEN!

So serious Dominika!

Emma! Waaait!

Love this picture of Mei and the girls<3

We all agreed it was time to have lunch so we found a little corner spot. Mark Jacinto wanted to make sure we packed a yogurt for his friend Emma, he's such a good friend! Well, Emma is also Mark Jacinto's first crush as well, I mean the kid loooves her and she's sister in law approved because Dominika loves her too!

No, I'm not one of those moms arranging marriages but sometimes is fun to imagine, precisely because the years seem so far away but in reality, they fly. It's just fun...for now.

I absolutely love the pictures above of Mark Jacinto exploring and just being. We visited the Curious George exhibit going on that day, Dominika loved it! 

Thanks for the pic Mei!

Below are a few shots from different buildings/areas. Dominika is very much into playdough right now and cannot resist but move her toosh when she hears the sounds of music.

I think one of my favorite things about blogging and photographing is recording those special memories. I love and treasure these memories. 

 Thanks to our friends Mei and Emma, we had such a lovely time together! 

Hot Dog Party: Mark Jacinto the party planner

I'm so excited to share the story of this hotdog party. While sitting on the couch writing, Mark Jacinto( my son) came to talk to me about something, and it look pretty important. He said he wanted a hot dog party. He started to go on and on about it while I was jotting down his ideas. Hot dogs, balloons, brocoli, fruit, friends, crafts and cake were on his list. He communicated his vision with passion and conviction; so I followed.

Next thing we know it's the hotdog party day and he wakes up extra early because as he said it himself: " we got to get ready, mom. I'm gonna help you". This kid you guys, I can't even...

We had a blast with the kids, it really does melt my heart seeing children so happy. So grateful for the wonderful mother/friends that came and for those littles and their limitless imaginations and joie de vivre that I find so contagious. 

It was mid afternoon and our guests started to arrive. Everyone started to greet each other and kids started to play. For a while, I thought I was at a preschool or something. 

There was flow to the party and who doesn't like hot dogs anyways? Toys here, toys there, toys everywhere! 

The kids started to get hungry so when I said the word "hot dog" everyone was so excited. I think there is much to be learned from children, most of the time they are grateful for anything and so happy to be alive! I know I feel I'm being thought everyday^.^

Beautiful friends always make the day=)

kids munching, it was pretty silent for a second ;-)

After eating and playing some more we went outside to blow bubbles. Everyone chose a bottle in their favorite color( kids are always elated to have choice).

Ah! look at that face^.^

Bubbles!

Hermanos (Siblings)<3

They invented their own games, pretty fun to watch.

Happy birthday hot dog, haha. 

It was time for the cake and the kids sang happy birthday to the hot dog. It's hard for Mark Jacinto to understand that party and birthdays can be mutually exclusive, so we just went ahead and pay mr. hot dog his homage. 

May I just say this event was a cause of great happiness for us. We, as humans, tend to forget to celebrate the everyday, being alive and our friends. This reminded me that we need more parties in our life. Thanks Mark Jacinto for your great ideas. You are a light and a joy hijo (son). Te amo.

Afternoon with friends at the San Francisco Zoo

Hola!

I wanted to share this quick post of our visit to the sf zoo with friends. For a moment I thought we were a school because we were a handful of moms and littles. It was so lovely! I know my children love their friends and are looking forward for more summer fun.

They recently inaugurated a new park at the zoo with animal sculptures that are pretty rad. I really like that this zoo has many playgrounds and right beside each other. My friend Lidia told me about the petting zoo, so we took the kids there and they had a blast. Ah, it makes me so happy to see my little ones so happy!. 

Dominika was given a brush by an older girl, so she took it upon herself to brush every goat's hair, haha. The children also loved to feed the animals. Mark Jacinto kept asking "where is the cow, mom?" We gotta take this kid to a farm, they both love cows and saying "moo" and their leche de vaca (cow's milk). The way they pronounce vaca makes me laugh.. vvvaaahhhcah!

 I'm just loving this age/stage with them, it really is full of wonder and they are just so much fun to be around. Mark Jacinto's "I love you mom" while giving me a kiss at least three times a day or Dominika's playing doctor and giving me shots and making me say "ouch!" plain makes my heart smile.

What are you favorite summer activities with you little ones? 

In a world full of girls...

It was a house full of girls and one boy and Mark Jacinto couldn't be happier. We had a craft afternoon playdate but this time we used food to create things. In reality, the "food craft" lasted for about 5 minutes because the kids started eating their creations right away!. A mother can dream, right? We mothers laid a plate of cut fruit, nuts, seeds, raisins, toothpicks, nut butters and straws for them to let their imaginations go wild. The peanut butter acted as the glue and toothpicks as connectors between parts. The purpose was for them to create anything they want, and so they did.

All materials ready.

Mark Jacinto's first creation. He used grapes as eyes, upon his own imagination ^.^

Emma decided to decorate her plate ^.^

My friend Lidia brought this delicious chocolate rice crispy treats she had made with her girls. This playdate was more than food though. I was the kid's DJ taking in song requests such as Old McDonald, abc song and itsy bitsy spider.  

It's always interesting for me to see how kids interact and behave differently when other kids with different personalities are added to the mix. I saw a Dominika that pretended to be older than she is. She was jumping in the couch with her stuffed animals, and she never does that!

Watching the dynamics in this group was pretty cool for us moms to watch. Mark Jacinto is learning the art of treating women well( or so I intend). There are way more boys than girls in his classroom at school, so when he is making engine noises and "talking like a ninja", it might not be as relatable to every girl.

I had fun seeing him adapt to the changes and find common ground with these lovely ladies. 

The girls were sweet and Dominika had fun playing with her friends, using her princess castle and dolls. Sharing was a bit tense for my little one, but this is the age to help her with that. I got to hear  about different philosophies for sharing that I haven't  previously known. There are so many methodologies and information out there that it can get overwhelming at times. Thankfully, mother's intuition is something we have all been given to discern what's best for our  children. It's important for me to keep open minded and apply what fits our family best.

Have a lovely weekend!

Little car town craft & Playdate

We were at Target the other day, and as we passed through the art supplies section,  I noticed  a large foam board sheet that reminded me of race cars. My son is always playing with his little cars and making engine noises.The idea of a little car town craft came to mind. We invited some friends to join us on the adventure. Pictures below if you'll like to see.

He was pleased with his work. I love his smile<3

Materials for the craft project:

  • Foam board
  • colored construction paper
  • crayons, sharpies, pencils
  • glitter pens (for extra fun)
  • scissors
  • glue
  • white chalk
  • tiny cars, trucks, trains, etc.
  • heavy weight paper, cards( to support the back of the buildings)

Glueing.

Mommy and Noble, so cute!

Glueing again! He took a long time.

Glueing again! He took a long time.

Look at that face^.^

Mark Jacinto and his friend Honor.

His project done!

We had a good time. At first, it was a little bit more hustle with the little ones but it was worth it. They settled by coloring with crayons, listening to Frozen songs and eating popcorn for a while. I throughly enjoyed seeing the older guys come up with such creative ideas. It was the first time crafting with Honor and he wowed me. His clean cut road, the precision of his process in general and what buildings he decided to create was pretty cool!

Mark Jacinto was very into glueing, cutting, using our new glitter pens( they are fun!) and directing me on where he wanted to put the buildings( he is my little project manager;)

Two of my favorite moments were when Honor said: 'This is fun, mom' with a smile on his face. The other moment was when Mark Jacinto smiled, looked at me and said: 'I'm happy mom' while smiling big.

It makes everything so worth it =)  A little video below.. the little voice in the background is Dominika wanting milk, haha.

Thanks to our friends Bea, Honor and Noble for joining us on the adventure.

For more of our family crafts, join us on instagram.

Valentine Crafts + Playdate

Left to right Mark Jacinto's card, Leo, Cecilia and Dominika's card. The boys signed them inside.

We had our friends Paula & kids over for a playdate and Valentine craft. As always, we had much fun together and the kids took great pride in decorating and signing the cards they have made for their dads. It's very cool for me to watch how kids are never boring and are always coming up with something new. This time around, Mark Jacinto and Leo were big on the game Simon says and "swimming" on the floor, haha. Dominika and Cecilia were having a little tea party with one cup and mandarin oranges, hehe( I couldn't find the others with everything going on!) 

Dominika was set on trying Paula's shoes (she's very much into all things shoes nowadays) while little Cecilia loved playing with the grocery cart and was very determined to get the most out of her time at "the grocery store". Love these girls for they have a fierce and determined nature<3

Here are bits and pieces of our time together, if you'll like to see.

Setting the stage for great artwork^.^

Grocery lady

His intense focus is admirable=)

We used the following materials for our love card project:

  • Heavy weight paper I got at Target
  • Paints
  • Brushes
  • Pencils( for the kids to sign their names)
  • Sharpie to draw the heart and love u letters
  • thin paper(to crumble and create texture 
  • glue
  • beads in Valentine colors

Watch out, kids at work! So serious..

Her latest fixation: shoes.

Tea-n-mandarin oranges party;)

Leo's mom mentioned that he is not a big fan of crafts so I was delighted when he did such a wonderful job at it=)

Recently, I have become a big crafts with kids convert because I see the lasting benefits. The following morning, the first thing Mark Jacinto did when we got downstairs was admire the card he has made for daddy. He said: 'I made this mom, I made this for papi". Throughout the day( since my hubby was traveling) Mark Jacinto kept looking at it with a glow in his eyes, liking what he had made.  

The card is currently residing on papi's office desk...

Follow me on instagram for more of our family crafts together.

Gluten free cupcakes play date

We went to visit our dear friends with a purpose in mind; baking cupcakes. My friend Paula is gluten intolerant and so every time we eat out and have sweets we end up sharing a gluten free dessert. I'm not gluten intolerant but I sure DO enjoy gluten free desserts; they are great! 

Tasty with just enough sweet and very light is how I would describe the gluten free coffee cakes, cookies and other baked goods I've had with Paula. So when she proposed the idea of baking gluten free cupcakes together I was super excited! Next thing I know, Mark Jacinto overheard us and his heart palpitated super fast with a characteristic hapiness that has become his trademark (the kid is a Kropf and throughly enjoys baking cake and eating it too!) 

Marky and his friend Leo.

Marky and his friend Leo.

This frosting was delish!

This frosting was delish!

I really enjoyed&nbsp;using an actual&nbsp;spatula instead of my usual whole in a corner&nbsp;ziploc bag trick;)

I really enjoyed using an actual spatula instead of my usual whole in a corner ziploc bag trick;)

The cupcakes were delicious you guys, the kids had a lot of fun pouring the ingredients, cracking the eggs, and using the electric mixer. It's funny because even though they were super excited their attention span was short lived. We moms ended up doing the frosting meanwhile the littles were in their own adventure. 

Dominika got tired of waiting for the cupcakes,&nbsp;hehe.

Dominika got tired of waiting for the cupcakes, hehe.

Cecilia is a tour de force.

Cecilia is a tour de force.

After we decorated the cupcakes and left them aside, we were distracted in conversation for a minute when little Cecilia took the kitchen stool and decided to climb it and attack the cupcakes. It was hilarious! We couldn't stop laughing, this girl had a craving and went after it, her desire knew no limits! She was completely covered in dark chocolate( picture is after some clean up).

Why is it that little ones enjoy other kids toys so much?&nbsp;

Why is it that little ones enjoy other kids toys so much? 

We had a lovely time and feel very thankful for a wonderful playdate. As a mommy, you feel that when your kids smile is as if the entire world smiles back at you.