Monday, April 30, 2012

Road Trip Helps

Before I post about our next adventure, I wanted to mention a couple of things that helped make the road trip to California bearable if not enjoyable!  Aside from the stops, snacks, music and movies...we had these two things:
Travel Scavenger Hunt for Kids
My kids really enjoyed this - especially when we were driving through urban areas where there was a lot to see.

But when we were driving through the barren stretches of highway in Nevada - we listened to The Nation by British author Terry Pratchett, performed by Stephen Briggs.  I had never heard of this author but when I searched for the top audio books for families - this was mentioned more than once.  It was a little slow to get into and it was over 9 hours long!  But once we got into it - Addie, Isaac and I were completely hooked!  We loved it!  Cate and Sarah were a little too young to understand it but they tolerated it.  Anyway - I highly recommend this audio verson.

I decided to look into other books by Terry Pratchett.  He is a fantasy writer (although I wouldn't categorize The Nation as fantasy) - which definitely is not my favorite genre.  He wrote the Discworld series of which there are about 20 or more books!  I decided to give the first one a try.  I am about halfway through and am enjoying it.  We'll see!  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Back to the Bay - Part 4

It was our last day in Menlo Park and there were a few other places we wanted to see.  Like the library!  We loved this library and spent so much time here.

We visited the duck pond and then went to look at the new gymnastics facility.  Addie started gymnastics here when she was 4. 
Whenever Sarah runs - she flaps her arms up and down like a bird.  I honestly believe that she thinks or hopes that one of these days she will lift off the ground and fly!

So all the kids decided to try it!
Sadly the new gymnastics building was closed for the day.  So we packed up and said goodbye to Menlo Park.
We drove back to the "G's" house to spend the night before the long drive home.  We went out for a pizza dinner and then came back to their house to roast marshmallows.

I am so mad this picture turned out fuzzy!  Such a cute couple! 

The kids were dying to get in the hot tub so we all got in until it started to pour rain on us!

We had a great time with our old friends and had an uneventful drive back to Utah.  We were nervous about getting caught in some bad weather but it was fine.
It was such a great trip!  I hadn't realized how much I miss that area and our dear friends that live there.  I hope to do it again sooner rather than later!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Back to the Bay - Part 3

One of the things we miss most about living in the Bay area is exploring the many nature preserves.  Picchetti was one of our favorites!  We were anxious to see if the peacocks were still there.  And they were!

For memory's sake we wanted to spot a banana slug and a newt.  And we did!  Remember the picture of 4 year old Isaac pointing to the banana slug?  Here's a repeat six years later. 

It is dry now - but there normally is a pond here.  One of the times we were hiking here - we came upon some freshly laid frog eggs.  We gathered some up in our water bottle - took them home - and watched them develop into tadpoles and then into tiny frogs!  It was a wonderful experience and Addie was even able to use it for her science project.

Hooray!  We spotted a newt!  All in all we found 6 newts and 4 banana slugs.

And this totally cool centipede!
A picture of me with my "lichen stick".  Excuse me for a moment while I digress.  I have had a recent fascination with lichens (my friends Ted and Katy would be very impressed!).  I attended a lecture on how lichens are one of the earliest indicators of the effects of air pollution on the environment.  It was so interesting and I was anxious to educate my family about these incredible organisms.  Did you know that lichens are actually a fungus and an algae living in a symbiotic relationship with each other?!  They survive in the most extreme environments - and can grow on almost anything.  But many are extremely sensitive to air pollutants.  
Lichens can be classified into 3 different categories (based on how they grow):  crustose, foliose and fruticose.  I was thrilled with the many different examples of all of these types that we found on this hike - many of which we would never see in Utah.  See the yellow crustose lichen growing on the trunk of the tree behind me?  Crustose lichens are about the only type of lichen we see in Utah.
I was so excited about my "lichen stick" because it had all 3 types of lichen growing on it.  The crustose is the flat yellow lichen.  The light green broad flat leaf lichen is foliose.  And the skinny, leafy lichen is fruticose.  Cool huh?  (Maybe Ted will read this someday and correct me if I am wrong.)
There might actually be two types of lichen growing here.  A crustose and a foliose.  Oh wait - I see another type too!  
Look at the yellow lichen growing all over this tree!  Anyway - that ends my lesson about lichens.  If you read all of this - thanks for humoring me!
After our hike - we stopped for a picnic.  Isaac's request for the picnic was a yellow bell pepper.  Who could refuse?

When we returned to Menlo Park, we visited our dear old friends - the "B" family.  We spent so much time with this family because they have kids the same ages as Addie, Isaac and Cate.  It was wonderful to see the friends reunited after all these years!
The trampoline is always a great way to break the ice!
"K" made this doll for Addie for her 8th birthday.  Addie has saved it all these years and she brought it along to show "K."
Here is Addie and "K" back when she gave her the doll along with a miniature tetherball game.
The two "C" girls.  If you are feeling sorry for Sarah because she doesn't have a friend...just wait!
The boys flying a remote control helicopter.

After a yummy dinner we pulled out the huge umbrellas and walked in the rain to get some frozen yogurt.  Even their dog came along!
We then had a little talent show - youngest to oldest.

Everyone loved their sweet dog.
Especially Sarah!  She found a true friend with this dog and had so much fun playing with her.  

Oh how I miss seeing the "B" family!  They are wonderful people and dear friends.