Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Meet Ronnie of the Awesome List

Ronnie Sharpe and her dog Munro. Photo by Frog Mom
A year ago, Ronnie Sharpe and her friend Marjorie got together over a cup of joe and created Marinhood, a website that lists kid activities from infancy through early grade school years (Ronnie's Awesome List) and for the tween and teenage years (Things To Do with Tweens and Teens in Marin). Ronnie describes the lists as "get in, get out," a no-thrills but carefully selected list of activities for local families. To find out about the great list, I met up with Ronnie in Mill Valley where she lives and we went on a hike at Camino Alto Open Space Preserve with her dog Munro.

I first met Ronnie (online) when she was editor of the newsletter of the Southern Marin Mothers Club and I was managing editor at the Golden Gate Mothers Group. We exchanged emails, traded publications and that was it until a year ago. Ronnie's name re-appeared on my digital screen when Ronnie's Awesome List was born and she emailed the link to a Yahoo! group I'm part of. Ronnie, as in Ronnie Sharpe? Clearly it was the same Ronnie and I decided to find out what Ronnie was up to.

On Being Adaptable
"I was an Air Force brat and moved nine times as a kid from base to base," explained Ronnie who added that moving often to places to all looked alike made her a very adaptable child. Later in life, adaptability helped her in a down economy when she worked at a pet clinic after a sculpting and art degree -though she still used her art degree doing textbook illustrations. Today, her ability to move on has turned into a professional photographer, grant writer for non-profits and Bay Area blogger.

Ameliasaurus. Photo by Ronnie
On Dinosaurs
Some parents say "yeah, my kid is into sharks" or "my kid is into forts" but generally these phases are short-lived. Ronnie's daughter Amelia is not just into dinosaurs, she's obsessed by them. At age eight, her goal is to be the youngest person ever to discover a dinosaur bone.

Her passion has led her to visit the museum of the paleontology department at UC Berkeley, look up the clam fossils on Mount Tamalpais and learn Latin words, prefixes and suffixes to understand the meaning of dinosaur names. When she watched the movie Jurassic Park, she critiqued that "these dinosaurs weren't even in the Jurassic era!"  Of course she's read pretty much any dinosaur book for kids out there and graduated to the adult stuff. Is that an obsession or what?

Ronnie pitches in the dinosaur obsession as well, looking for paleontology digs that will take a 3rd grader or researching summer trips with dinosaur stops. On the Halloween front, what did Amelia dress as last year? Why, a Stegosaurus of course. However instead of buying a cheapo dino-suit with the wrong dino features, Amelia designed it, she and her mom cut the plates and sewed it with the tail, and Ronnie dyed the fabric.

Our daughters at the Muir Woods Earth Day. Photo by
Ronnie Sharpe
On volunteering and nature
"Volunteering has given me so much," said Ronnie reflecting on her years with the Southern Marin Mothers Club and on her experience rescuing animals at local animal shelters. Meeting people, sharing knowledge, giving back to the community - those are words Ronnie believes in.

This past weekend we joined her at the Muir Woods Earth Day celebration where she volunteered with her daughter. Together my family and hers pulled forget-me-nots and cleaned the boardwalks of Muir Woods. On her nature agenda, Ronnie also volunteers at Muir Beach in the summer and plans Earth Day like others plan Superbowl Sunday - with glee and anticipation.

On dead sharks
Dead shark. Photo by Ronnie Sharpe
Her experience at animal shelters has also sharpened a wild animal rescue fiber in her and she told me this anecdote. "A few years back, I found an 8 ft nurse shark that came up the bay at Bayfront Dog Park. The Marin Humane Society would not remove it saying it will go back in with the tides but it was there for weeks and getting really smelly. The MHS argued they could only pick up dead animals if they were on the road so some folks dragged the shark into the road. The MHS dragged it back to the waters edge. =)) Ah well….eventually they had to remove it."

Apart from the dead-shark fun factor, who would care about a dead shark in a creek? Ronnie did and after some research, she found out that leopard sharks swim up creeks around the San Francisco Bay to give birth to their babies in as safe place, get disoriented and die. That's how she's found three dead sharks so far. Now she always keeps an eye out for sharks in distress in creeks.

Amelia with a friend and Munro.
Photo by Ronnie Sharpe
On Ronnie's favorite places for kids in Marin
In no particular order:
  • Check the time of the low tide on the NOAA tide tables and go out to the tidepools at Muir Beach or the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve
  • Hike around Tomales Point and see herds of tule elk
  • Enjoy the Chinese New Year parade in San Francisco
On Ronnie's Awesome List
Ronnie's list offers information for kids elementary age and under and features activities around the Bay Area. In her list this month (February 2012), you can find American hoop dancing at the San Anselmo library, a nature hike in the Presidio in San Francisco and a garden stroller meetup at the UC Botanical Gardens at Berkeley.

To read the list you can subscribe by email and to give Ronnie details of an upcoming event, you can email her.

What blogs does Ronnie read?
Besides Frog Mom of course:)

On chocolate
The best way to end a profile, right? Ronnie raves about the artisan chocolates created by her friend Onie who was trained at Bernachon, one of the most prestigious chocolatiers in France. [I have his cookbook and it's chocolate and French cake overdose by reading.] However tempting that sounded, you don't need to fly to France to enjoy these chocolates. You can simply find them online at Alchemy Pastry. If you drool over the photos, it might be worth knowing that Ronnie took them (she does food as well as portrait photography). Now I'll dream of the chocolate fairy house or the Mexican chocolate and passion fruit marshmallow combo. They def look like they're worth a mile or two of swim in the bay:)

About the Meet Series: Know of a fab person you'd like to see featured on Frog Mom? Shoot me an email and tell me more.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Civil War Day at Fort Point

Civil War Days at Fort Point. Photo by Frog Mom
While the East Coast battlefields were raging war night and day, San Francisco fortified its army outposts at Angel Island, Alcatraz and Fort Point. Steamers were sent through the Golden Gate and around the Horn loaded with millions worth in gold to finance the Civil War. Public meetings were held each time a letter arrived by stage coach. Is it hard to picture today? For a time travel experience, take your family to the Fort Point Civil War Days where docents in costume and park rangers celebrate this era with music, infantry drills, canon presentations and history re-enactments.

Fort Point. Photo by Frog Mom
Walking through the big front gate of the brick fort at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge, my girls and I felt giddy with excitement. From inside Fort Point we could hear the sound of drums resonating against the walls and walked in on an incredible scene.

Dressed in navy frock coats, gold buttons and felt hat caps, infantry soldiers in squad formation were practicing bayonet and musket drills in front of dozens of bystanders including us. It felt like entering a movie set!

Infantry drills. Photo by Frog Mom
My girls elbowed their way to the front steps and watched each different drill, mesmerized by the costumes, the shouting orders and the orderly parade. Despite the foggy crappy day, nothing would make them budge.

After half an hour I was the one getting fidgety and I suggested we walk out to the cannons on the other side of the court yard. "What for?" they whined. "To see how they were fired, what do you think?."

The docent on duty was passionate about the topic and we got a full-on lecture on the various types of projectiles and shells fired by cannons. My girls even got to lift a few shells in their hands and they both gasped. They couldn't believe how heavy they were! Even if they had not exploded on impact, I can only imagine the damage they would have done on a wall. let alone on people.
Pharmacy. Photo by Frog Mom

Next to the cannons stood a well-stocked pharmacy in a carrying case that looked so much like a cabinet of curiosities - oh the tiny glass vials and hand-written labels - that the girls started wondering if it was OK playing with it.

Of course it wasn't but we loved hearing about the various remedies that doctors used on the battlefield. Well, loved - best to say we were intrigued because there's nothing to love about a foot-long syringe.

Running on top of Fort Point. Photo by Frog Mom
Impatient to explore the upper levels, we left the courtyard and went up the steel staircases to the very top of the fort which is a level roof with a low wall. If you've never done it, it's worth getting there if only to be outside, dwarfed by the giant structure of the Golden Gate Bridge arching over the strait.

Officers in Civil War uniform were patrolling around making for an interesting anachronism below the 1937 steel structure. On a clear day, look for Angel Island directly to the north and Alcatraz Island east of you in the Bay. You can spot with its tiny lighthouse on top in the direction of the Bay Bridge.

Two ladies making rag dolls. Photo by Frog Mom
Chased by the wind chill or the fog chill, we went down a flight of stairs and started exploring the lower levels where the extra-thick stone and masonry walls keep the rooms warm.

You'll be pleasantly surprised to see that many of the rooms are furnished, presenting to young visitors snippets of life in the 1860s through the early 1900s when the fort was still garrisoned. Other exhibits cover the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge or women's suffrage.

Kids can telegraph their name. Photo by Frog Mom
In one room we stumbled upon two elegant elegant ladies making rag dolls that they sold for $10 a piece. With buttons for eyes, yarn for hair and long dresses with aprons, the dolls shouted "Take me home!" to my girls. And that's how we came back home with Geraldine and Molly, two young girls who won't mind hiking with us.

Down and down we continued our journey til we entered the room under the main entrance of the fort. There, an officer was showing kids how to telegraph their names. 'Do you want to try?" he asked my girls.

Musicians. Photo by Frog Mom
Before you know it, they stood in line, patiently waiting to use the Morse code to telegraph their first over to a mystery recipient who telegraphed something back. As a reward, the kids each got a paper reproduction of a Civil War era dollar. How cool!

As we got out of Fort Point, we enjoyed music by a quatuor of fifes and drums.

Feeling up for the adventure? Fort Point Civil War Days takes place this Saturday.

  • Day: Saturday January 28, 2012
  • Hours: 10am to 5pm
  • What: Join the American Civil War Association, as part of the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War 2011-2015 commemoration, as they bring Fort Point to life with music, marching and the colorful uniforms of Civil War soldiers.
  • Cost: Free 
  • Parking: by the Warming Hut or if you get lucky, in front of the fort.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Book review: "The Year of The Dragon" by Oliver Chin

Gung hay fat choy - Happy Chinese New Year! And not any new year, mind you. 2012 is the year of the golden dragon (which is my dad's sign) and I'm celebrating it with a book review. Last week we kicked off the Chinese spirit by seeing the Beijing Wushu Team perform an extremely acrobatic martial art show at Stanford University. My girls were excited to see one of the main actors of the movie The Karate Kid on the floor while I marveled at the hyper-flexibility (or absence of joints) of the performers. Now comes the book review.

Today is the actual Chinese New Year day and after moaning that they wished their school was closed, my girls perked up when I offered them this book: The Year of The Dragon by Oliver Chin. Last time we stopped at The Warming Hut they were literally drooling over it and I thought they'd enjoy a copy at home.

Despite the title, Oliver Chin's The Year of The Dragon is not a traditional tale of the Chinese zodiac but rather a playful spin on the characteristics of a traditional Chinese zodiac animal. It is, in fact, utterly unconventional and that's probably why my girls like it so much. No big blah blah explanations, no cultural accuracy at all costs. Their main comment when looking at the book was "how cute" the dragon looked. They always fall for the big wide eyes. Well, that's precisely my issue. The dragon is cutesy, the emperor and empress of China are likable, and even the bad guys are good sports at the end. My point is, the book is sweet in the sweet/saccharine sense. Slightly too much sugar and not enough salt.

While I wished the plot had more bite to it, there are lots of elements that redeem the story. If your family wishes to learn about the Chinese zodiac, it's a good introduction to the dozen animals that represent the lunar new year in China. Take the dragon's adventures in this book. To win a boat race organized by the emperor of China, the dragon gets help from his friends the tiger, the goat, the rat, the pig, the ox, the snake, the monkey, the dog, the rooster, the horse and the rabbit. There they are all, all the animals of Chinese astrology, all united to help the main character win his quest. Kids will like looking for them on the pages. After all, isn't the dragon the mightiest animal of them?

"Remember, dragons are special." says the dragon's mother. "No one can soar as swift or swim as deep." The father dragon adds: "Who blows the winds? Who commands the rain? Who advises the Emperor? We do." This page alone could trigger afternoons of research at the library or online on the magical powers of dragons.

In this book, I also like how the dragon, usually represented as a master of the skies, becomes the hero of a boat race thereby showing off his aquatic skills and versatility over various elements. Earth, sky, sea - the dragon is apparently quite the multi-tasker. The story's little dragon is also a creative problem-solver and that's one quality that will have kids root for him.

Last but not least, the book's plot revolves around dragon races, a popular midsummer festival celebrated in many parts of the world. If you can find one near you, go see it and read the book before! It'll be an excellent and recreational tie-in. The San Francisco International Dragonboat Festival takes place in September each year. Now that I've described the book in more words that appear on the book's pages, I'll say this. Dragons are fascinating creatures for all ages, whether sweet or sour.

The book will be great for...
.... parents of babies born in 2012 or any of the other dragon years. Kids who love anything dragon. Kids who like reading an engaging tale of friendship and leadership in a Chinese setting. Little fans of Nickelodeon's  series T.U.F.F. Puppy for which Jennifer Wood (the illustrator) is an animation designer. Ages preschool through 3rd grade.

Details: The Year of The Dragon

  • Interactive app: 3-D Peek'n Play Story App
  • Book: 36 pages, Immedium Publishing, January 2012
  • Written by Oliver Chin, illustrated by Jennifer Wood 
Frog Mom Note: I decided to review this title on my own, not because I received a complimentary copy (in fact I didn't and had to use my very own piggy bank). I just thought today was a good opportunity to review a book by one of the Bay Area's authors. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Intro to Nature Journaling with Kids

Nature journaling. Photo by Frog Mom
Impressionists had it all figured out. Dressed in casual country chic (straw hat de rigueur even if it snowed), they walked to a nice spot in the woods, strived hard to look moody and set up their easel. Then they drunk bucket-loads of absinthe, got their palette out and painted a museum piece in large brush strokes. That was nature journaling at its finest with a good case of delirium tremens to boot. Except with children, carrying easels and drinking absinthe might not be your best ticket to a fun day out.

Nature Journaling by Scott
The G-rated version of a Manet landscape starts with a sketchbook, a travel watercolor set and pencils. Oh, and the great outdoors - it wouldn't be called nature journaling otherwise. Here's the recipe.

I was introduced to nature journaling by my friend Scott Vanderlip who wrote a short guide to nature journaling. In 8 pages, he answers questions a newbie can have on the topic, from what it is to how to do it, why, getting started, sample journal pages and references. 

In the hills above Pinecrest on a late December day, Scott and his teenage daughter took us out for a morning of exploration with nature journaling in mind. None of us had ever done it and my girls were shy about it. My husband was even more so and I, well I'm not much of an artist. Turns out, that's a moot point.

Hiking above Pinecrest. Photo by Frog Mom
"There is no right or wrong way to nature journal," writes Scott, "you can use drawing, painting, text, maps, poetry, taped in picked flowers (even bugs), leaves, leaf rubbings, or whatever mediums and ways you can think up to record your observations. The only measure of success should be that you feel you have captured and recorded the observations you wished to capture in your journal, without worrying about creating a 'pretty picture.'"

Based on Scott's guide, here is a list of essentials.

Though it didn't really matter where we sat, we looked for rocks that we use as stools. Logs would have worked too but there were none. If we were going to stay there a while, might as well make ourselves comfortable. 

The kids started first, less inhibited than us adults. Initially I was standing there as an observer but when I saw my 6-year old and 8-year taken by the exercise, I felt foolish for not trying. I couldn't think of the worst thing that could result from nature journaling except for a wasted hour and time was in ample supply that morning so I dug in.

Blank page. The blank page was intimidating but when everyone bent their heads over their journals, the artist block went away and we all got into the groove. Pulling my own journal out of my backpack, I opted to capture the landscape in front of me. My girls did the same, focusing on the shape and color of the sugar pines around us.

Sugar pine cone. Photo by Frog Mom
If you've never seen the pinecone of a sugar pine, it's ginormous and I asked my 1st grader to hold one in her hands so you could get an idea of the size. Ain't that something?

They're all over the sierras so you're bound to see one at some point but when you do, resist the urge to play with the amber-color balls of sap hanging to the cone. The sap is extremely sticky - and fragrant - and it took me a full day to get it off my skin!

Changing colors. Photo by C.G.
Back to nature journaling. First off, you fill the container of your water brush and wear the cut-off sock as a glove on the non-painting hand. Squeeze the brush lightly so water wets it. Then dip the brush in the solid water color blocks and start painting. The kids were not patient enough to draw the contours with a pencil first but if you wanted finer details, you might want to do that first.

To change colors, my girls simply expressed water from the brush until it dripped enough for the previous color to fade away, rubbed it on the sock - aha! so that's what it was for - and dipped the brush in a different color. They didn't have any problem doing it.

Scott Vanderlip and Frog Mom. Photo by Scott's daughter
Since Scott had brought two different watercolor sets, we were able to experiment with both and between the Winsor and Newton and the Koi sets, the Koi clearly won our hearts. Better colors for outdoors experimenting, more choice (the Winsor and Newton didn't have any black and with so many rocks around us, that was an issue), cool water brush.

Blue flower out of the blue. Photo by Frog Mom
The trick, particularly for the younger set, was to learn how much water was enough and how much water was too much. That's why it's important you pick watercolor paper as opposed to construction or regular sketch paper. Watercolor paper is designed to absorb water moisture and you won't have paper mache right away.

The kids were done in 20 minutes, which was much longer than I expected. Usually at home when they're drawing, a piece of paper doesn't last more than 5 minutes unless they are in a deep drawing mood. A few tears were shed over mixed colors and page flooding but overall they were satisfied about the outcome.

Pine forest. Photo by Frog Mom
"Can I do another one?" asked my 3rd grader. Of course, I said, and she went on to draw a beautiful blue flower while her young sister took a stab at painting a pumpkin - go figure. Sitting in a pine forest in the dead winter, neither blue wildflowers nor bright orange pumpkins were to be found around us. Hmm. It made me wonder.

Is it possible that they painted the landscape around us to make us happy but that what they really wanted to paint was something completely different?

My nature journal. Photo by Frog Mom
Whatever it was, they completed 3 paintings each but the most detailed - and in my perspective the finest - was the first landscape of our surroundings. My girls can draw a plant on a blank page but they have a hard time situating it in a fictional landscape. It'll remain a stand-alone plant on a blank page.

Hence the plus of nature journaling. Your model is in front of you, as intricate or simple as you want to render it, and it won't walk away.

Back from the Sierras, I've ordered two pocket watercolor sets so we can add them to our hiking essentials. We're more likely to use them if they are already in our backpack and they'll be a fun addition to our basic sketchbook and pencil.

Nature journal in the making. Photo by Frog Mom

Friday, January 6, 2012

Nike Missile Hike at Sweeney Ridge

A room with a view. Photo by Frog Mom
Talk about an adventure. With a mom friend, her two kids and my girls, we set out to find a historical marker on Sweeney Ridge in Pacifica, which I thought was pretty cool. In my mind, historical marker + Spanish expedition, armed soldiers and missionaries with horses and mules + year 1769 set the stage for a nice storytime after a steep hike. But lo and behold we found a Nike Missile site on the way and that became the hit adventure for all of us. A vandalized and dilapidated remnant of Cold War days stole the show on a sunny winter day and had our kids going all crazy in and out of the buildings. Would you believe me when I say that the hills around San Francisco never cease to surprise me?

Trailhead by the Orchid Nursery. Photo by Frog Mom 
On a gorgeous afternoon, we looked for the trailhead around CA-1 in Pacifica. For the record, there's no big signage on the freeway so looking is part of the fun. I had already hiked Sweeney Ridge and the Gaspar de Portola Expedition marker from Sneath Lane off of Skyline - it's easier.

However I knew there was a trail coming in from the Pacific and it happened to be the exact route Father Crespi and the Gaspar de Portola Expedition had followed to find the San Francisco Bay on a crisp autumn day in 1769 when grizzly bears still roamed California and wetlands ringed the Bay . All in all, more fun.
Getting started. Photo by Frog Mom

I also knew that approach would be fairly steep (1,000 feet elevation gain over 2.4 miles) but the kids didn't need to know that ahead of time. They would figure it out soon enough.

We finally found the entrance. From CA-1 going north from Rockaway Beach, we made a sharp right in the driveway of the Shelldance Orchid Nursery and found a big dirt lot at the top where we parked. Everybody disembarked and grabbed their backpacks.

Mori Ridge Trail. Photo by Frog Mom
The first slope set the tone - man that was steep! It was going to be all up until the ridge so I told the kids to pace themselves, which of course they didn't. Why walk when you can run uphill? I mean really (rolling eyes). Crazy as it sounds it's our pair of 6-year old girls who played a little running game while the 8-year old puffed behind.

I thought I was going to have time to chat with my friend on the trail but when the young explorers disappeared over the ridge and wouldn't stop when we called them, I had no choice but to take off. What if they met the big bad wolf? I scolded them sternly but thanks to them, reached the top much faster than I anticipated so that was good.

Ambush in plain sight. Photo by Frog Mom
I caught up with them on Sweeney Ridge Trail and seconds later, we stumbled upon the Nike missile site #SF-51C. As they wanted to spook out their older siblings, I suggested they hide behind me on the cement top of a former tank - a request I didn't need to repeat. Not-so-stealthily they lied down and waited. "Booh!" they went. A commendable try  but they were all too visible to allow any element of surprise.

Once our group was re-united, we started exploring our discovery with stupendous views both on the Bay and the ocean.

Passage of time. Photo by Frog Mom
Now, when you look at dilapidated buildings you don't immediately think "nuclear warheads." Right? Maybe you think "junkie hideout" or "creepy shelter" but nothing too Dr. Strangelove. However the signs on the use of Nike Missile Site SF-51 quickly put things into perspective and then you reconsider the views on the Pacific Ocean. Short range, long range - views with a definite military advantage.

As a matter of fact, Nike Site SF-51 included a control station and was only 2 miles away from a missile launching site at nearby Milagra Ridge (that's if you want a side trip). First I thought the buildings were entirely boarded off but then we realized some doors were open. The kids went in first and we heard "wow!"

Peek-a-who? Photo by Frog Mom
Besides the roofs ripped open and the walls sprayed with colorful graffiti, the buildings have a mad scientist feel to them with dangling wires, big fuse boxes and metal chutes.

We had to refrain the kids from crawling under more wall openings than necessary and stopped them before they tried sliding down a rusty metal pipe. I can't really blame them, the place is fun. Discarded glow sticks told silent stories of night excursions and I actually thought it would be a cool thing to do - later.

Sweeney Ridge Trail. Photo by Frog Mom
I looked at my watch and thought we must go on with our hike if we wanted to make it back to the car before dark. Not that hiking in the dark isn't a good idea, but we only had 2 flashlights for 6 and the way down would be steep and slippery.

Glad that we found a surprise "treasure" on the trail, we continued south on Sweeney Ridge Trail and walked another half-mile until the Portola Discovery Site. Since we were following a "flattish" ridge, that was swiftly done and we found the marker right after the restrooms (junction with Sneath Lane Trail) over the hill.

Portola Discovery Site. Photo by Frog Mom
As far as markers go, this one could be more grandiose. It is after all, the marker for the discovery of the San Francisco Bay on foot by a European expedition. Without Gaspar de Portola, the bay would have remained hidden from the western world for a few more years.

On the hill, the marker is a simple stone with a text engraved that says "From this ridge the Portola Expedition discovered the San Francisco Bay. November 4, 1769." A bit dry don't you think? Though a stone is a step up from the plaque, an orientation table with major peaks and waypoints would have been nice and a more detailed text as well. If there is an NPS sign, I must have missed it.

Hold on to your pants! Photo by Frog Mom
After a snack of ginger snaps, Fat Witch brownies and apples, we retraced our steps and hiked back to the car. This time it's the 8-year olds who darted off like bees and left the 6-year olds in the dirt. Again we moms separated and I tagged along with the junior crew.

Both were trying to be quiet to see bunnies emerging from bushes at twilight but 6-year olds have a hard time staying quiet so they opted to run down the hills instead. I couldn't help but burst out laughing when I noticed they were both holding their pants - because they were falling down!

Late afternoon fog. Photo by Frog Mom
By the time we made it back, a characteristic ocean fog had rolled in and shrouded the hills in a glorious late afternoon mist. The kids were surprised when I tallied up the mileage: 4.8 miles! That was quite a performance given they hadn't been ready for a long steep hike. Guess the surprise worked to our advantage!

Practical details:

  • Trail length: 4.8 miles, roughly 3 hours of hiking (4 hours if you linger on the ridge)
  • Elevation gain: 1,000 feet
  • Trail head: Shelldance Nursery in Pacifica
  • Map: download the Sweeney Ridge brochure with map here.
  • Snack & drinks: Chit Chat Cafe at The Pier, 2100 Beach Blvd, Pacifica. Yelp reviews here

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year 2012

Pretty winter flowers at Blue Canyon on Dec. 31, 2011. Photo by Frog Mom
To all my readers from near and far, best wishes for a happy new year 2012! May the Year of the Dragon bring you happiness, success in your endeavors and a healthy family. A special thanks to all of you who read this blog and made the effort to comment, online and offline - it really means a lot to me.

Instead of lofty resolutions - see, I'm still weighing my options and there's no telling how long that might last - I'm offering you a January hodgepodge list of hopes, wishes and random thoughts:

  1. First and foremost, I hope that we find a way to keep California State Parks afloat in this rough patch because everybody should have the opportunity to see the home of Jack London in the Sonoma Valley, swim in the Navarro River at Hendy Woods in the Anderson Valley, be awed by the windswept bluffs where the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse is perched in Mendocino, swim in the crystal waters of the South Yuba River or visit the amazing gold mining town of Malakoff Diggins. You can support the parks via the California State Parks Foundation here
  2. I wish the best of luck to all the mompreneurs out there who are weathering the crisis with creative ideas and unlimited stamina. If you're a mompreneur, comment below and give yourself a well-deserved shout out for your business!
  3. I hope that my 6-year old finally learns to ride her bike without training wheels. Really kiddo - are 2 wheels enough, pretty please?
  4. I hope more restaurants serving seafood realize we are over-fishing the oceans and stick to sustainable seafood in their choices. I always check the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch list when I order or buy seafood.
  5. I hope the little 10-year old who's a son of friends in France beats his cancer for good. Send your warm wishes to him in thoughts and prayers.
  6. I really want to mail all my 2012 greetings cards before Valentine's day - with last year's, for those that made it to the forever-later-pile in 2011. 
  7. I hope my girls can swim safely before the summer as I won a Caribbean vacation and there's no Caribbean without swimming.
  8.  I wish for my husband to find a better work-life balance this year as his San Francisco-to-London traveling will be intense. Honey, how about we buy an Iceland second home, right in the middle?
  9. Direct consequence of number 8, I hope my babysitter won't contract a horrible and lengthy disease so she's free to watch my girls - and me free for regular girls night outs and movie nights. A computer screen is not my best friend, I need to remind myself daily.
  10. Last but not least I wish you all to be inspired by one person this year because inspiration is what keeps us going though the ups and downs of the daily grind. Find that one light in your life, cherish it, learn from it and get inspired!
Happy new year to you all!