Nicola is Australian and a recent transplant to the Bay Area. She has started a web-boutique called Munchkin et Moi, stocking fashionable European shoes for the littlest of feet and blogs in her spare time at Next to Nicx. I interviewed her about her favorite East Bay spots for families.
What is your favorite playground?
We have two favorites, depending on the day and what we both feel we can cope with. Some days, usually toward the end of the week, I can't face the idea of masses of children without coffee, so we head to Mulberry's and then to Piedmont Park. Other days we go to Dracena Park, where my little girl loves riding her trike around the pathways. Then we'll have a picnic lunch under the trees.
Can you tell us about an amazing class your child has taken?
The California Academy of Sciences Junior Academy classes are fabulous! We have a membership and go in every few weeks. Munchkin adores them; they read stories, sing songs, and do crafts, all based on an animal (it changes each week). They then get to go and see the live version; it's an enjoyable and educational morning for us both.
And, not a class, but a camp; Habitot's camps were a life saver over the summer when Munchkin's daycare was closed. She went each morning, allowing me to get some much-needed work done. I knew she loved it when she wasn't interested in coming home with me; she wanted to stay!
What's your favorite date night destination:
As we don't live near family and have yet to find a babysitter, we have only had a couple in the past year (when the grandparents came to visit). Does it count as a date night if you take your child? Our favorite restaurants are Camino, and Reve Bistro. The moules frites at Reve are fantastic, and they've recently introduced a children's menu, so we have plans to go back with Munchkin asap.
How does your family like to start the weekend?
Saturday mornings usually provide me with my weekly “me moment”. My husband thinks 7 am is a sleep-in as he's usually up at 5 am, so he gets up with our daughter and gives her breakfast, while I take time to read the paper or to chat via message with friends in Europe (who are usually enjoying their Saturday afternoon apéro). Then we walk down to the Grand Lake Market, where my daughter has a play on the bouncy castle and slide, cries because we won't let her spend all day on it, and then enjoys a buckwheat, Swiss cheese, ham and egg crepe from the Brittany Crepes stand. We wander home in time to let our little one take a decent nap, and this gives my husband and me a little time to relax together. Do nap times count as dates?
What's your pick for “me-time”?
Every six weeks or so, I head to San Francisco to get my haircut at Veer and Wander, then take a couple of hours afterward to go and have a coffee or grab some lunch alone. I read a book, have a coffee or glass of wine, and remind myself what it's like to be Nicola. Not “Mummy”, “The Wife”, “Trailing Spouse”, or “Business Owner”… just Nicola. It keeps me sane.
Thanks for chatting with us, Nicola, and congrats on the launch of your lovely online shoe shop!
[Photos provided by Nicola; used with permission]