Saturday, June 22, 2013

Mud Running

In honor of my sister-in-laws (survivors) and my late friend Diane (1970-2012), the Irvine Lake Mud Run benefiting Susan G. Komen, serving women & saving lives. (

When I was a kid, I loved to walk in the rain and jump in puddles. The last time I jumped in muddy puddles I was 22 years old and living in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. I had just graduated from college and an incredible rainstorm plummeted the city on a hot summer day. My friend and I ran to the street in t-shirts and shorts and jumped, danced, played, ran, walked, splashed, kicked water and laughed in the rain. It was blissful and I've wanted to seize the moment again and again ever since. When friends and family learned I was signed up for the Irvine Lake Mud Run, they didn't quite "get it." But, I embraced my inner child and jumped into the 5K run with excitement and anxious anticipation.

There were mud crawls, slides that emptied into a big mud pool sure to drive your head under water, 1/4 mile of quicksand like mud, monkey bars over mud, ice freezing cold mud, big mud hills to climb up and slip down, giant mud puddles and mud, mud & more mud. The event was really well organized except for running out of shower water for afternoon runners. We had to bathe in the lake to get the top layers of mud off. It felt good to get dirty, to take on a challenge and to finish. I'm pretty sure, I've never been more dirty. But the laughter and friendship was worth it.

So moms, if you are tired of cleaning up after your kids, escape the duties of motherhood for a few hours by running in the mud to feel like a kid again. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

My darling daughter

The truth is I was terrified to have a daughter. I was so relieved when I learned that my first child would be a boy. And, by the time I got pregnant with the second baby, I had all my excuses in place. I could pass along the clothing and the toys. I already "knew" how to get a boy through the first several years; I was prepared. When I learned the news about having a baby girl, I was thrilled with joy (gosh...I get one of each) and positively scared (how many different ways will I screw up my little darling daughter).

Serene is independent, determined and very smart. She can do anything her brother can do. Even though she is five years younger, she can climb any obstacle, run just as fast, stay up just as late and hit just as hard as big brother. She picks her battles and sticks them out. She will scream if you try to help her until she is ready to receive your help. These qualities will serve her extremely well when she is an adult. Surviving her teenage hers will be a test of will power on both of our parts.

Mainly though, I didn't want a daughter to grow up in the same world as me -- with many less opportunities and even more real dangers. As much as I'm afraid for me being a good mom, setting a good example, embracing her independence while teaching her to be aware of the realities the world throws at girls & women, I am also afraid for her. How will she tackle imbalances in the world and remain as strong and confident as she is at just 2 years old?

Mostly Serene likes to play with whatever toy is in her brother's hand. But, lately she found a doll and she plays mommy. She was scolding the baby doll the other day in the same way she hears me scold Alex. There is nothing more powerful than your children mimicking you to get you to really see the reflection in the mirror. Its a long road ahead for me and Serene. Heck, there are still over 120 days until her next birthday. And, we both have a lot to learn. But, I'm starting to feel like -- together -- we can do it.

Monday, June 17, 2013

San Francisco's China Town

There aren't any pictures of my kids in China Town because we were too busy shopping. I am surprised I was even able to snap a few shots on the camera. Its unbelievable how many things two small children can find in the shops along Grant Street in this popular strip in San Francisco. It is a must-see for any tourist and don't be afraid to bring the kids. There are toys, trinkets, clothing, souvenirs, jewelry, embroidery, and many other treasures. The famous trolleys also stop in the heart of China Town -- another must do for the kids, so its easy to catch around to/from other stops around the city.

Yoda Fountain at LucasFilm, LTD

"May the force be with you."

George Lucas film offices are located on the Presido in San Francisco.

Jedi Knight.


Boba Fett hanging with the girls.

Gangam style at the Yoda Fountain.
One of the great secrets of San Francisco is LucasFilm, LTD (1 Letterman Drive). Lucas sold his company to Disney in 2012 for just over $4 billion, but the offices were retained in the Presidio in San Francisco. They can be visited during business hours on the weekday by simply asking the security guard if you can check out the Yoda Fountain. He'll direct you to your own parking spot and let you in on the real secret that you can also enter the lobby area to see authentic costumes of Darth Vader, Boba Fett, the actual light sabers used in the films and dozens of other small treasures for Star Wars fanatics.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Muirs Wood National Monument

We made Alex and Serene's cousin Sophie get up at 6am on a Saturday to go with her little cousins to Muir Woods National Monument just 12 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. There are only a handful of parking places available to accommodate thousands of daily guests (especially on summer weekends). Many take shuttle buses or tour buses from San Francisco, while others park roadside and walk miles before even reaching the gate.

We arrived just after 8am, parked easily, were able to skip the $7 adult entrance fee (ticket window not open yet) and enjoy the majestic Redwood trees well before the crowds arrived. A wooden boardwalk along the entire path makes it very easy for strollers. The kids loved climbing inside the trees and running along the trails.  We spent a few hours and gave one lucky van our coveted parking spot as we pulled away.

The Coast Redwood grows only along the northern California coastline, from Big Sur in the south to just over the Oregon border in the north, and only up to forty miles inland and below 2500 feet. The Coastal Redwoods are the tallest trees on Earth, reaching heights of over 368 feet (112 meters). They are one of the widest trees on earth, reaching diameters at their base of over 30 feet (9.3 meters) and one of the oldest trees in existence, the oldest on record having lived 2,200 years when it was cut down.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Lots and lots of Water!

Stuck in Jaws mouth at Universal Studios.

Shooting Megatron!

Despicable Me!


Fountains at Universal City Walk.
One of the great things about living in Southern California is the annual theme park pass. SoCal residents can pick up passes at most of the parks - Universal, Disneyland, Knotts, Six Flags, Legoland, and Sea World to return day-after-day all through the year. (Black out dates apply.) 

Alex celebrated the end of the school year at Universal Studios Hollywood where he splashed in the City Walk fountains, at the Adventures of Curious George Splash Park, on the Jurassic Park water ride and sat in the soak zone of the Water World: A Live Sea War Spectacular. He spent most of the day soaked, but the hot California sun kept him warm.