Monday, December 31, 2012

An Attempt at Fishing and a Family Trip to Point Reyes

Point Reyes Lighthouse
On the last post, I mentioned that we would have a fishing report.  So we did go fishing....and got skunked.  They had mentioning on the news for the previous week that the Fish and Game would be stocking local lakes on December 24th. So on December 25th, we took the kids fishing in the ponds at Heather Farms.  

Our kids are very dedicated fisher kids, so even with the temperature at 44-degrees and with showers, they did make it for about one hour; however, the fish were just not biting.  
This past Sunday we had the public speaker over for hospitality as well as our service group.  All went pretty well.  We are on a 8 week rotation and we are looking at doing this as a service group gathering.  We will see how it works. Beth made a chicken pasta pesto and her famous ham, cream cheese, pickle rolls which were great as always.

Today went took the family to Point Reyes.  Beth and I discovered the area a month a go and decided to take the kids there.  The elephant seals are pupping right now, and there were at least 100 at the grounds.  

This is also where Sir Francis Drake landed in 1579 to repair the Golden Hinde before the trek across the Pacific to the Philippines.  There was a lot for a history buff like myself, not so much for the kids.

After the elephant seal pupping ground, we went to the Point Reyes Lighthouse.  We were treated to eight grey whales on their migration to Baja.  It was an impressive site.  I have come to a realization that my kids are spoiled when it comes to whales. 

 I had lived 34 years before I had seen a whale in the wild in San Diego, Emma's first sighting at 18months old.  Then there was last year, when we went to Santa Cruz and saw the Humpback whales breaching off the pier.  It was really impressive.  Then there was the Humpback that was off of Ocean Beach last month in San Francisco.  He was just playing outside the break.  And then today, where they saw the additional eight.  I grew up thinking that whales would be extinct by the time my kids would be around, what a change.

After the lighthouse, we discovered a wonderful beach.  Definitely not a swimming beach, but the waves were wonderful.  I love the warning, beware of sharks, undertow, etc.  You know if you don't see surfers in the waves, this is definately not a good place to swim.

Our final stop was back at the Bear Valley Visitor center.  This time, we hiked over to view the Miwok village.  It was  nice hike, but the village was nothing to write home about.  I assume in the summer that there would be more interactive features or at least a docent, but not today.  The kids thought it was awesome though.

So the kids have one more week off for school and it should be good weather, though cold, for the rest of their time.  I go back to work on Wednesday.  It has been nice to have back to back four day weekends.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

December Part 2.....

To follow up the last post, catching everyone up with what has happened in December, this post follows up with the last week and a half leading up to this past weekend.

So two weekends ago, Myles went to his first ever boys party.  He has been to parties before; however, this is the first time he didn't  have his sisters with him.  It was dinosaur themed at his friend Sawyers house.  Myles had been looking forward to it all week and had a great time.  Beth has been to similar parties with the girls, however, found out what a true boys party is.  Lets just say, it was a bit much for both Myles and Beth.  He did have a bit of fun, but he didn't understand why the other boys just wanted to wrestle instead of play games, sing, and dance.
Next, the week leading up to the kids winter break was filled with holiday recitals.  Since we don't celebrate the holidays, the girls got a couple hour break from school. 

For Sophie, this meant a nice run with mom in the hills near her school.  It had rained a bit a day or so before, so the hills were a little muddy, but she was definitely in her element.  For an added bonus, there were some wild horses on the trail.  Sophie is our horse girl, so this made her day.  The only problem they had was that her teacher had her take her shoes off before she went into class because they were so muddy.
For Emma, she went with Beth to Heather Farms to the rose garden.  It was a beautiful day for it.  They came across a plaque in the garden for the Latham Rose Wall.  Pretty neat.  Also Emma got a coffee ( no worries about stunting her growth - she is now officially 5') and peanuts.  The girl is eating us out of house and home! 

The kids also got their excellent report cards.  Emma is already reading at an eighth grade level, with her favorite books being anything Jules Verne, Old Yeller, the Yearling, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. She is also doing great in math, already doing algebra and dividing of fractions. Sophie is also a wonderful reader herself.  She has been also writing her own stories and doing great in Math.  Myles is doing well himself in kindergarten.

On this past Friday, Sophie carried on with Emma's tradition of making and eating pancakes in her teacher, Ms. Cattalini's class.  Her teacher used to have the tradition but stopped after Emma's second grade class due to lack of parent involvement.   Sophie is really good at making pancakes, she helps me when I make them.   We get the market pantry pancake mix (just add water!) and embellish it with vanilla and cinnamon.  They cooked up three boxes, and the kids ate them all!

So this break, the kids will be doing a lot of reading, working on puzzles, and crafts.  Emma has been making bead necklaces while Sophie has been helping her mom on a Time Square Puzzle.

So that catches everyone up to Friday.  Look for the next post about fishing and other stuff.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

December Catchup Part 1

So to say we have been busy this December is an understatement.  Between winding up Budget and Planning at work and keeping busy during the weekends, I haven't had much time to post on this blog.  I was able to update the style of the blog, do you like it?  So this and the next blog will catch you up to what we have been doing up to winter break.

As the previous blog stated, we are now officially in our rainy season.  In fact we are facing two three storms this weekend that has closed I-5 at Lake Shasta.  However, for the most part, they have been major storms that push in for a couple of days followed by beautiful days of sun.

A couple of weeks ago, we decided to take advantage of a good day to take a hike by the Los Vaqueros Reservoir.  It is located just north of Livermore and just southeast of us about 15 miles (behind Mt. Diablo).  I was surprised to learn it was completed in 1997.  I wonder if it had anything to do with the earthquake swarm in the early 2000's (nerd me).  Emma was supposed to go on a field trip last year to the lake; however, got sick.  So finally we were able to make the trip out.

They have a nice, but small interpretive center there that talks about the history of the lake as well as the primary use.  This is a lake is a huge holding area for the Contra Costa Water district so that they can adjust the water quality through the year since they get most of its water from the Delta.  When the tides are high, the salinity of the water increases with folks not liking the salty water of course.

It is very pretty there with plenty of trails to hike.  We decided to follow the climb on the north side of the lake that took in sweeping views of the lake.  There were a lot of folks fishing there also (we eyed our fishing spots).  On the top of the trail, it had wonderful views of the Central Valley, the Snow Capped Sierras, and Mt. Diablo.  Beth and I could overlook the first quarter of the 50K we did back in April.  It is such a pretty valley, and now with the recent rains, the hills are turning green.  

The fun thing about hiking anymore with the kids, is that we basically look for hills to climb so we can run down them.  The overall climb was 1300 feet, which meant a nice run back to the car.  We did stop at the puddles to look at the wildlife tracks.  There were plenty of bobcat, coyote, and deer tracks.  Nothing bigger though (for shame).
I had the following Monday off.  The company had its holiday party the Sunday night before, and gave everyone else time to recover.  Well since of course we didn't go to the holiday party Beth and I took advantage of the kids being in school and did a run out of Castle Rock. The creeks were full which made for a great run. You can find the run detail on my other blog here.

I will leave you with a couple pictures from a recent break we took in field service.  Most of the time anymore, we go to the Chevron Extra Mile since we can get the kids what they want and the coffee is better.  So we haven't been to our old stomping ground (Sweet Affairs) in awhile.  So of course when we went there Myles wanted a cupcake.  You would think being six year, he would stop wearing his food; however, he is Myles and is always looking for a laugh. So here is the most recent picture.  Oh well....

Monday, December 3, 2012

Fun in the Rain!!!

We had a rainstorm and a half this past weekend!!  Keep in mind, what this really means it that we have really heavy downpours (in California terms) over 2 to 12 hours with breaks of sun.  This meant we got over 5 inches of rain in Concord over 4 days.  Keep in mind the entire total for November averages 3 inches and for December 4 inches.  But needless to say it was wet!

Now what did we do in the rain?  Well we run of course.  Well not really.  Plan was to have the kids run at the kids race held at the North Face 50.  This is the championship for the North Face trail series and is one of the few races where there is a nice purse for the winner.  So anybody who is anybody in trail racing is there.  It is a two day event, with the 50-miler, 50K, marathon, and marathon relay the first day, followed by the half-marathon, 10K, and 5K.

The challenge this year was that the course was so muddy that a few of the elite runners got lost, or had to slogged through the mud.  Our problem is that we didn’t get the e-mail to let us know that the kids race would be cancelled.  Oh well.  The kids were majorly disappointed until they realized that they could have just as much fun playing in the mud as running.  In fact they spent a bit perfecting the belly slide, then were asked by the announcer to demonstrate for the crowd (that was still there) the proper technique!   Needless to say, I have a feeling that our kid’s pictures now populate a few hundred peoples Facebook pages!!

We also enjoyed the walk back to the car.  It was along the course and we passed a few runners that were completing their run.  You could tell by the look  that they had really been pushed to their limit and then see the kids covered in mud and the biggest grin come over their face.

Then we faced the challenge of how to get the kids home in the muddy clothes.  The Headlands must have the blackest mud in the Bay Area, because it took three washes to get the clothes back close to normal and two baths a piece for each of the kids.  But in the end, we had a great time.