Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Making of Mountain Bikers

Jake and his buddies mountain bike out at the old Fort Ord regularly. On Veterans' Day, he took our minis on their first adventure. They had a great time. Today, he decided it would be a fun family outing. Ummm...okay.

Off we went...

I survived and left the profanity-laced thoughts rattling around in my own head. But I did yell at Jake at one point: This is what you and your friends do for fun!?! 

I only hit one tree, but I fell into poison oak. So, I went straight home and Tecnu'd...and opened a beer.

I turned around at the parking lot to this view.

"What are you doing, Dylan?" I demanded.

I'm standing on my bike. Duh, Mom.

"Where did you learn to do that?"

We watched Danny with Daddy...on YouTube.

"Who's Danny?"

I don't really know. He does tricks like this.

"No more Danny!"

Jake just sent me our mileage and elevation changes. I survived 7.27 miles. My husband labeled it "fun ride." Hmmm...that's not the descriptor I would use!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Fort Ord - by R

We went and collected native seeds today. Before that we stopped at ACME. I ordered an Aztec hot chocolate and my brother got a Mexican hot chocolate. Mom and Dad got coffee, I think. My brother and I added lots of cinnamon to ours. I like mine with a bit of spice in it. Then we went to Fort Ord.

We were collecting seeds so we can them the Bureau of Land Management the seeds. They will plant them around Fort Ord. We were led in a large group to the sticky monkey plant. We picked the pods that were at a 90-degree angle. The rest were leaves.

Next we came to a patch of mock heather. They had fluffy seeds that were yellowish-white. They had leaves that look funny and come off the stalk. They look like a fan. I accidentally picked seeds from the coyote bush. I thought it was mock heather. It has fluffy seeds that are completely white and it has small broad leaves.

After the mock heather, we came to a Toro manzanita. Manzanita means 'little apple' and it does have little berries that look like small apples. You can even make an apple cider with them.

Then we came to a California sage bush. It smelled good. We just pulled the seeds off and threw them over the bush. A bigger bush will grow.

Chemise is a plant whose seeds you can pull off really easily. D and I threw them in the air like confetti. The last plant we came to was black sage. I thought it smelled better than the other sage. This on you had to break-up the pods to get to the seeds.

We went back to the beginning for a barbeque lunch that they had made for all of the volunteers. We hiked two and a half miles!

With the seeds that we collected they will plant them somewhere else. It will help to make barren areas into a forest.

Fort Ord Seed Picking - by D

Today I went to Fort Ord to pick seeds from native plants.

In the morning, my mom said, "We are going to do a forest work-out!" When we got to Fort Ord my mom was surprised how many cars there were.

Our docent was named Shawn. He handed us a bag for picking seeds and we started walking up the road. The first native plant we picked was the sticky monkey flower.

Shawn showed us how many pods we should pick. He said everybody should only pick two percent of the pods.

We walked up a hill and he showed us how to pick mock heather. We learned about five other plant species, too - manzanita, black sage, coyote bush, California sage, and chemise. I learned that you have to plant the manzanita within one kilometer of where you take the seeds. California sage is not a true sage, but black sage is. And Shawn will plant all of the native seeds that we collected.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Taking a Stand, Staying Home with My Family

I am, admittedly, not a shopper. I truly dislike shopping, especially browsing. I go to the store with a list and get what I need. So, skipping the stores on Black Friday isn't tough for me. And, normally, I would just head out for my hike and keep my mouth shut about what everyone else chose to do. 

But, I am appalled by this trend of retailers opening, not just on Black Friday, but on Thanksgiving. 

For crying out loud, stay home, give thanks, play a board game, read, or just cuddle on the couch in your post-feast haze. Thanksgiving is about being grateful for what you have and spending it with people who are important to you. It's not about getting the best deal before the person behind you in line can snag it. Spend time with your family and friends and not the deal-crazed lunatics with dollars signs in their eyes and coupons hanging out of their pockets.

Thanksgiving is quintessentially American. Dating back to the 17th century, it's about unity and breaking bread with family and community. It's a pause. It's not overtly religious, but it feels reverent and respectful. So, when I saw this campaign on Facebook, I shared it.

"Because I believe in family, I pledge to not shop on Thanksgiving. If I'm shopping, someone else is working and NOT spending time with their family. Everyone deserves a holiday."

Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be helping. The list of stores that will open on Thanksgiving Day keeps growing. It's disturbing. Walmart, Toys R Us, Kmart, Old Navy, Sears, Target, JCPenny, Kohl's. Do you frequent any of these stores? I do. Or, I have in the past. I am taking a stand and will be spending my dollars at stores where actions speak volumes about how they feel about their employees. I may be a member of the "me" generation, but I find this trend nauseating.

As plugged in as we all are, if you must shop, do your retail therapy online. Your orders will be fulfilled on the next business day. You won't know the difference, I promise. Maybe we can at least keep the physical stores shuttered for the day and allow employees to stay home with their families. 

As a mother of young(ish) children, I think about the fact that my boys get more pleasure out of playing with the box that a fancy new toy comes in than the gadget itself. They love empty boxes because they can turn them into whatever they want. They can invent a board game or make a hut. They certainly won't know that you saved 80% on their Christmas present because you stood in line for 2 hours. But they will remember whatever you do that includes them.

Here's what we did last Black Friday...we took our best friends down the coast, crossed a river in our underwear, built a driftwood fort, and had a delicious picnic of Thanksgiving leftovers. 

These four kiddos - and even my husband and I - talk about that day frequently. We're talking about doing it again.

I'm not going to be shopping on Thanksgiving, or the day after. I'm going to focus on what I have and do what I can to try to stop this holiday from being gobbled up by greed.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

PiBoIDMo 2013: I'm can't eat me!

As with most of my ideas, this one blossomed from a conversation I was having with the boys as we drove home from school one afternoon. They are the target audience, after all. This is what got me thinking...

D: Did you know that D - in my class - is a vegetarian? I didn't know that. I just learned that today.
R: I don't think there are any vegetarians in my class.
C: How do you know that D is a vegetarian?
D: We were talking about it at lunch. So, she's a vegetarian. And B is a pescetarian. Do you know what a pescetarian is?
R: Yes, it's someone who eats fish. Right, Mom?!? Isn't 'pesce' fish?
C: Yes!
R: I remember that from my Italian picture dictionary.
C: Woohoo.
R: I can understand a vegetarian. They just don't eat animals. But why be a pescetarian? Why not just be an omnivore?
D: I know the answer, I know! B told me she's a pescetarian because she doesn't eat cute animals.
R: What?
D: You know...pigs have cute faces. Cows have cute faces. But fish...well, she says that fish aren't cute.
R: I think fish are cute!
D: Well, I think that broccoli is cute...and I still eat it.

"I'm can't eat me!"
Not quite sure where the story will go, but I like the idea of 'cute' being in the eye of the eater.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

PiBoIdMo 2013: Day 2 - The Girl with the Yellow Bucket

This year three of our best friends - a mom and two girls - are spending the year in Lynge, Denmark.

The elder daughter, who is the same age as my eldest, is keeping a blog and wrote a post about her sister discovering chestnuts. There, chestnuts are so abundant, she can collect them to her heart's content, picking them from all her neighbor's trees.

I've been dreaming of chestnuts since I read the post. Today, at the market, I grudgingly paid $8.99 for a pound of chestnuts and thought about the photo of her sitting atop Mt. Stella. So, I decided to jot down some ideas about her. Her neighbors call her 'the girl with the yellow bucket.'

Uno's Garden {PiBoIdMo 2013 Reading}

In answer to a challenge put out by Tracey M. Cox, I am making my way through some of my family's favorite picture books. Today we re-read...

by Graeme Base

Art collides with math and a message about the environmental effect of urban sprawl on different creatures in this gorgeous book by Graeme Base. My boys always giggled about the fanciful names for Base's animals: the Moopaloops, the Lumpybums, and - of course - the Snortlepig. While the demise of the animals is horrifyingly real, Base leaves the reader with hope that perhaps...things will get better.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Back to Reading Picture Books + The Rainbow Goblins {PiBoIdMo 2013)

Last month, when I chaperoned R's (6th grade) class to the Authors and Ideas Festival, one of the things that stuck in my mind: if you want to create writers, you need to foster readers. Makes perfect sense to me!

So, not only am I participating in PiBoIdMo 2013, I am going to go back to reading picture least for this month. No, this wasn't my idea; it was a challenge put out by Tracey M. Cox. But I'll take it! These are not necessarily books that go along with my chosen focus this month - ideas about picture books that get kids to eat fruits and vegetables - but they are books that I enjoy or that my boys have enjoyed.

by Ul de Rico

The Rainbow Goblins was one of my favorite picture books as a child. I don't really remember why. I just remember being mesmerized by the paintings. The book went out of print. But, around the time that I became a mom for the first time, it came back. And since I couldn't get my mom to part with her copy; I snagged up three or four copies of the new version.

The goblins are twisted, diabolical, and downright creepy , but - hey! - they're the villains. The story is riveting and the illustrations vibrant. As the seven goblins prey on rainbows, drinking in the colors till their bellies almost pop, the roots of trees and flowers overhead and hatch a plan to thwart the goblins' hunt. Spoiler alert: the goblins do not catch the rainbow and we have the teleological reason why rainbows never touch the ground.

If you haven't read this book, you should!

PiBoIdMo 2013: Day 1 - Title Brainstorm

Today, we heard from Tammi Sauer who wrote this post to kick off PiBoIdMo.

Your Homework Should You Choose To Accept It: Brainstorm at least five titles. That’s it. No need to know the nitty-gritty of what is to follow. Just jot down those titles and maybe, just maybe, a story will sneak up on you.

Granted, I haven't done any research to see if these books are in existence already, or not. But this is what came to my mind:

1. An Edible Alphabet
2. Munching though the Rainbow
3. Farmer Johnny's Foggy Crops
4. Lettuce Talk Greens
5. Leafy Lies - It's All Spinach!

Extra Credit (because I am a true blue nerd who loves extra credit opportunities): Go to the bookstore and jot down the titles of the books you see. Perhaps one of those titles will be the perfect trigger to help you come up with your next big idea.

Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban
I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child
The Popcorn Book by Tomie de Paola
Barnyard Banter by Denise Flemming
Apple Farmer Annie by Monica Wellington
Maple Syrup Season by Ann Purmell