Friday, November 18, 2016

Helping Your Teen Get Ready For College

I recently had the opportunity to write this article called 10 Ways to Help Your Teen "Survive" High School and Prepare for College on Simply Circle.

High school was hard when I was a teen, but feels like a cakewalk compared to the current demands on students to get into college. College admission has become much more competitive, and today’s teens find themselves under a great deal of pressure. Here are 10 ideas for helping your teen through their high school days and into the college of their dreams.

 Simply Circle is a great communication tools for classrooms, clubs, PTAs, non-profits and small businesses using a secure private newsfeed, calendaring, RSVPs for events, messaging, photos and file transfers. You can learn more in this simple video.


Monday, November 7, 2016

A Print and Use Shopping List

A few years ago in San Francisco, when my first baby was just a few months old and I was sleep-deprived from all the nighttime feedings, I made friends with another new parent through a mom's group. This fellow new mom totally related to my baby created fatigue and understood just planning an outing to the store with a baby could be messy, consuming and end in an instant. LOL. She shared a time-saving trick with me which was creating a generic shopping list of her most frequently bought items. She prints out a bunch, grabs a sheet and circles the items she needs througout the week. Come shopping day the list is created.  Yes, I am easily pleased.

That list was a blessing to me during my early parenthood and I still use it. It has saved me time in dreaming up a shopping list or menus by cueing me to my most bought items. Click here to get it free. 

Shopping List
broccoliorangesfishwafflesfish sticks
cukesstrawberriessausageojtater tots
garlicblueberrieshot doggrapefruit juicefrench fries
cornBreadbaking sodafruityogurt
gr. Beanscroissantsvanillaveggiescheese
mushroomspain au chocolatchocolate chipstunashredded cheese
garlic breadCondimentsbrie
Grainshot dog bunspbSnacks
Pastamini bagelsjellycookiesSauce/Oil
flour tortillasmustardchipsolive oil
corn tortillasmayodried fruitvinegar
raisin breadhummuspretzelstomato sauce
pitaapple sauce

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Never Buy Unnecessary Baby Gear Again

Wouldn't it be great if you could rent and try then buy or give back baby and children's gear? Well check out this new family start-up from San Francisco called Expectantly! It does all that and after 18 months of renting out an item it gets donated to a local non-profit that helps families in need.  
It currently serves the Bay Area but is rapidly expanding to big cities around the country soon. 
Baby already done with high chair? Return it to Expectantly!

Want a Ride-on toy for your visiting nephew? Rent it!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A Pond Oasis for the Family - Daniels Nature Center

Want to find a delightful place hidden away in Silicon Valley's backyard?
The circle of pond life. 

Daniels Nature Center up on Skyline Blvd. (Hwy 35) is splendid for picnicking, rambling and exploring for kids of all ages. 

Investigations Abound
This small yet mighty center, run by dedicated docent volunteers, invites big and little fingers with a live gopher snake, plenty of touchable skulls, skins and specimens of local wildlife and flora. The beautiful cycle of life exhibit balances fun with sneaky teaching. Little environmentalists will enjoy building a pond community with moving parts and an interactive light display.   

When your crew is done poking about the center, take a short family-focused audio walk around the small lake.  A mobile handheld explains the areas native plants, fauna and how Native Americans and loggers influenced the environment. The multimedia guide directs you behind some boulders to view fascinating holes in sandstone rock made by Native Americans for grinding. 

The pier at Daniels Nature Center.
Use stationary binoculars to spot wildlife.

Savor the Surroundings 
This delightful area includes a flat 1/2-mile trail that is easily accessible to all ages, abilities and strollers.  From the little floating pier, families can scope out many creatures such as turtles, red-winged black birds and medium size gill fish. Munch your lunch and pond gaze from the picnic tables. 

Along the Trail
You all may be surprised by a cottontail. So, keep peepers open for rabbit, wood rat nests, coyote scat, lizards, grasshoppers and deer. As the trail turns past the restrooms choose the pond loop on the high path or briefly follow the lower left path to a bisecting trail. The boulders flanking the left of that trail hide the grinding holes of former Native American Ohlone residents. Be sure to take a peek. The rocky hill to the path's right is perfect for climbing and exploring.

Squeezing between boulders
Freehand rock climbing

Tips and Nearby Eats
There's a water fountain, but bring food for picnics or snacks. For an alternative or dessert, the dog-friendly  Alice's Restaurant serves up homemade pies and burgers in its 100+ year old building just 10 min. south on Hwy. 35. The center is on a hill and can be susceptible to colder temperatures than in the valley, so bring layers even on a hot day.

To reach the Daniels Nature Center, park in the Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve parking lot located on the corner of the Skyline Blvd. (Highway 35) and Page Mill/Alpine Road intersection.  Be on the lookout for deer as you drive up the hill.

From the Russian Ridge parking lot, take the little path leading down to the culvert-like pedestrian tunnel to wind your way to the Nature Center. The center is only open on weekends noon - 5 pm from April-November. The location, bathrooms and trails are open year round.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Safari in Salinas?

Taking the kids to Monterey? Check out these nearby spots on your way to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Carmel.

In Salinas, the quiet coastal town next to Monterey, stay the night at Vision Quest Safari Bed & Breakfast.  Sleep in a decorated African canvas furnished bungalow then wake to lions and tigers roaring. Elephants and staff will greet you with a delivery of your continental breakfast.

Want to just pop in? Daily public tours begin at 1pm. It's free for B&B guests.

The Monterey Zoo at the same location is dedicated to providing professionally and humanely trained exotic and domestic birds plus animals for film and television. The zoo offers sanctuary to animals that can no longer be in the entertainment industry and would not otherwise have a home.

While in Salinas your little ones will love a visit to the inclusive and accessible Tatum's Garden - a darling playground.

In the nearby city of Marina, The Sanctuary Beach Resort, a dog-friendly accommodation, is a posh and luxurious spot with a private beach.  Kids will like the nightly beach bonfire, the pool and hot tub. Tired of walking to and from the lobby? Each room has access to its a personal golf cart for use around the resort.

Happy Safari-ing around the Monterey Bay!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Geocaching & Wingding Family Fest

Image result for geocachingImage result for geocaching

Do your little ones like a good treasure hunt? Then they'll love geocaching. 

Geocaching is a great way to introduce kids to mapping. Plus it uses math skills without even trying. Children love the adventure and possibilities of what could be hidden away. There are so many places throughout the bay to hide and/or discover a geocache. Here is a fun and free event to initiate little scavengers to this activity.

The Midpeninsula Open Space District is holding its Wingding Family Fest on Saturday, May 9th 10-3pm at Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve's Equestrian Lot. With the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society they are hosting a day of hikes, geocaching, scavenger hunt, hands-on science activities, meet winged creatures close up, and some related art and craft activities.

A food vendor will be onsite for food purchase. Parking is free. No dogs allowed.

How to get there:
The preserve's entrance is located about one mile south of the Page Mill Road / Alpine Road and Skyline Boulevard (Highway 35) intersection.

Happy hunting!

Monday, April 13, 2015

6 Reasons to Visit Downtown Los Altos with Kids

You want to explore a Silicon Valley town with your little ones? 

Downtown Los Altos, a tucked away village, offers fun shops, eateries and places to bring the kids. There are many places to take your kiddos, and here's just six off the beaten path places to visit:

1. This is a preschooler favorite, but all kids will enjoy De Martini Orcharda lovely old fashioned produce stand, known for its tasty samples. Grab a toothpick at the entrance and tour through the many delicious, varied, organic and often local selections. It's an easy way to see if your child likes yellow or white peaches or which type of melon you should bring home. Plus Monday and Thursday afternoons you can pick up a whole rotisserie roasted chicken from the Roli Roti food truck in the parking lot.

2. For over 40 years, The Costume Bank has offered a dazzling array of thousands of costumes. One can select a Santa suit, Southern Belle gown, superhero or hippie era getup. Kids enjoy walking its aisles viewing the many recognizable categories of dress ups. Parents can plan their next costume party or Burning Man outfits.

Image result for Costume Bank

3.  Head to the corner of State and 1st for Tin Pot Creamery and indulge in small batch ice cream, freshly baked cookies or brownies then stroll to the charming Linden Tree Book Store to peruse a cool selection of children's and young adult books. Be sure to check their events' schedule ahead of time - they often have author readings/visits and storytimes.

4. As mentioned in this previous post, the free Los Altos History Museum, located in Hillview Community Center, is excellent for children to explore and learn a little about the area's history. The pre-school set love the upstairs historical model train replica of Downtown Los Altos.

5. A short walk from downtown, kids run wild across two playgrounds, one for the littles and another for 5-12-year-olds in Shoup Park. They can navigate the creek bed (during dry times) to nearby Redwood Grove Nature Preserve. Wander the boardwalk and dirt paths at Redwood Grove while encouraging the kids to be on the lookout for banana slugs and woodpeckers.

6. In this area full of tech, people head to Los Altos Business Machines for collectible relics of yesteryear like typewriters. Kids gawk through the big windows asking, "What are those?"

Tom Hanks and his son were spotted buying one there recently. While downtown, Hanks cajoled passersby to buy Girl Scout cookies from a local troop on the corner. In return, he promised a pic with himself and the buyer. Isn't that sweet? No pun intended.