Monday, May 25, 2020

Summer Check List 2020

Normally at this time of year, I share my summer list of ideas that we have compiled over several years. But when I reviewed the list this year, it had some things we won't be able to do in this season. So as with many things, I am trying to focus on what we CAN do in stead of what we can't. I will try to update the list as summer goes on if more options are available. Use your best judgement to know if these options are good for you and your family. Let me know in the comments or on Facebook if you have other ideas. We love to try new things.

Santa Barbara and Goleta:
* Complete the summer reading program at the Santa Barbara Library or Goleta Library *
* Explore the Farmers Market *
* Examine tidepools *
* Drive in Theater (reopening 5/25!)
* Hunting for seashells and seaglass *
* Take a Hike or Nature Walk *
* Ride your neighborhood on a bike *
* Explore the Botanic Gardens
* Blueberry picking at Santa Barbara Blueberries
* Quicksilver Ranch (Miniature Horses) *
* Nature Play

* Free or Inexpensive

At our house, we will probably also have daily:  
* Active Time: biking, trampoline, rollerblading and skateboarding
* Music Time: Flute for the 9 year old and recorder for the 6 year old
* Cooking School: Kids Cook Real Food (2 month Subscription only $19)

We will also work on some life skills like tying shoes, chores and (if I am ambitious) sewing

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Quest 2020: Summer of the Beaches II

Summer of the Beaches II
This blog started 5 years ago today! I had a plan for a completely different quest for this summer, but life is pretty different right now and it is hard to know what it will look like through the summer. I am so grateful to be healthy and safe at home, but we are outdoor people and hoping we can keep our nature time. We visited 10 of the main beaches in 2016 and I am planning to revisit our Summer of the Beaches to include some of the ones that are off the beaten path.  Enjoy nature while social distancing! I am using this site for a list (which includes a few beaches I have never heard of before even as a Santa Barbara native!)  as well as information from Google Maps. 

Santa Barbara Area Beaches
Rincon Beach
Carpinteria Beach (2016)
Padardo Beach (2016)
Miramar Beach
Hammond's Beach
Butterfly Beach (2016)
East Beach (2016)
Santa Barbara Harbor Beach (Sandspit)
West Beach (2016)
Leadbetter Beach (2016)
Thousand Steps Beach
Shoreline Park Beach
Mesa Lane Beach
Hendry's Beach/Arroyo Burro*
Hope Ranch Beach
Moore Mesa Beach
Goleta Beach (2016)
Campus Point Beach
Isla Vista Beach
Depressions Beach
Devereux Beach Coal Oil Point
Sands Beach Coal Oil Point
Ellwood Beach
Haskall's Beach (2016)
Arroyo Hondo Beach
El Capitan Beach  (2016)
Refugio Beach  (2016)

Monday, May 18, 2020

Where to Go First

Climbing at Rocky Nook Park
Welcome to my Little Patch of Earth! I am a mom with two busy, little gals living in Goleta. We love parks, the outdoors, cooking and sharing our findings with you. I try to keep this post at the top of my page! Follow updates at Goleta Mom on Facebook, Goleta Mom on Instagram and my Santa Barbara board on Pinterest.

If you need to search the blog for a specific post, follow these directions. On a computer, look in the top left corner for a search bar. On a phone or mobile device, scroll all the way down and click on view web version, then you will find it in the upper left corner of the screen.

Park Overviews:
Extensive Park List in Santa Barbara and Goleta areas
Parks with 5-12 year old Play Structures
Parks with 2-5 year old Play Structures
Parks with Bathrooms
Sibling Parks
Parks with Baby Swings
Parks without Swings
Best Scooter/Bike Parks
Best Parks with Outdoorsy Play Areas
Parks with Shade
Nature Walks and Hikes
Toddler Friendly Parks
Climbing Parks

Santa Barbara Tips:
Easy Day Trips
Indoor Play Areas
Monthly Free Events
Museum Free Days
Pocket Libraries
Pool Options
Santa Barbara Birthday Freebies
Summer Checklist

Summer Quests:
2015 Summer of the Parks                        2015 Reflections   
2016 Summer of the Beaches                    No Reflections
2017 Summer of the Nature Trails            2017 Update
2018 Summer of the Road Trips .             2018 Update
2019 Summer of Museums

Mom Life:
Road Trips
Beach Packing List
Hiking Packing List

Recipe Collections:
Meal Planning
Recipes on the Blog
Quinioa Salad Recipes
Asian Recipes
Pasta Recipes
Mexican Recipes
Salad Recipes
Soup and More Recipes
40 Recipes of 2016

40 Year Bucket List:
Original List
Promise Walk Story
September Birthday Update
Year End Birthday Update

Other Stuff:
Jesse Tree and Ornament
Advent Ideas

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Winter 2020 Snapshot

This post was longer in coming because of how crazy the world has been the past month. Surprise crisis schooling and social distancing.

Life Hack: In Box Check Lately I have a scheduled time every week for all the papers. There is a tree worth of paper that enters my house every week and it piles up fast. I have a set time in my calendar to go through all the mail, school forms and whatnot. The goal is to deal with it right then as much as possible and to keep only what is necessary. Take photos and file if needed. More inspiration here. (This system worked great until the past month!)

New Product I Love: Khan Academy Before COVID-19 I was going to share about my favorite gluten free pretzels, but the world has changed a lot in the past few weeks. Khan Academy is the math program we have been using alongside math worksheets, and flash cards. Khan has videos to explain the concepts, then practice and quizzes/tests to show competency. If you were truly homeschooling, you would need to supplement this, but it is great for this strange season. (And it has been helpful to supplement what we are getting from the school.) Other websites we have used DreamboxEpic and Lexia as well as Inner Explorer and GoNoodle.

Last Book I Finished: Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale
We love Shannon Hale over at our house, so when I saw she had written some Pride and Prejudice inspire literature. I had to read it. I love the first one Austenland, but this one I wasn't as crazy about. These aren't serious literature, but for fun.
After Charlotte Kinder's husband leaves her for another woman, she needs some romance that doesn't require blind dates. She books a two week vacation at Austenland and leaves her kids with him. As she meets the Austen characters in residence, not as is as it seems. While there is a pretend mystery to solve, it seems as though a larger mystery that actually needs Charlotte's attention. She seems to be paired with Mr. Mallery, but is he as authentically brooding as he seems? or is he hiding something? And what is Miss Gardenside's ailment if not consumption? Was that actually a dead body she found in the hidden room? Will she find her Mr. Darcy after all? Or will Northanger Abbey mysteries rule her stay?

Life Project: Yard Map I just finished a map of our yard with all the plants labeled so that we can make a plan going forward. I used Google Maps with satellite view to help me.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Tide Pooling

Carpinteria State Beach
Tide pooling is a fun thing to do as a family appropriately distanced from others at this point. We normally camp at Carpinteria State Beach over spring break and this year we couldn't, so I promised the girls tide pooling soon.

To go tide pooling well, check the tide charts first. You want a low tide with the lowest possible number (negative is best) as well as the right time of day and weather. Wear sturdy shoes that can get wet. Touch gently with caution. We sometimes bring a bucket for things we catch or a toy sifter. We friend-sourced to get this list and looked at Yelp, Trip Advisor, and the Independent. If you have an iPhone, I found an app called California Tidepools that can make your trip more educational (a viewer says it is not currently available, but hopefully it will be back soon!).

1. Coal Oil Point was the biggest suggestion and one we have been meaning to check out. It is located next to the Devereux Slough between Sands Beach or Devereux Beach. )

Coal Oil Point
We park at the corner of Camino Majorca and Del Playa, then walk straight down the path (directly off the end of the road) down the steps to the Devereux Beach. The best tide pools are closer to the point. Alternately you can go right on the path and head to the end at Devereux or Sands Beach. Coal Oil Point is to the right. (It also says clothing optional to the left for your planning information.)

As a former science teacher, I got lost in all the info for the Devereux Slough. There is a virtual tour. And a videographer that has created videos on the Devereux Slough or the Snowy Plover.

2. Tar Pits Beach is a spot near our spring break camping. Tarpits Beach is an interesting spot with huge rocks of asphalt that seep naturally out of the ground and the low tides uncover great nooks and crannies what sea life sits. I blogged about it here.

Take the 101S to the Casitas Pass exit (86A). Turn right onto Casitas Pass Rd and then left onto Carpinteria Ave. Turn right onto Arbol Verde St. Then immediately right onto Concha Loma Dr. Then a gentle left onto Calle Ocho. Follow Calle Ocho until it dead ends at the railroad tracks. You will have to cross the railroad tracks to get to the beach. Be careful crossing the tracks of course.

3. Campus Point has simple parking but it does cost.

4. Rincon Beach

5. Leadbetter Beach is accessible with plenty of parking we have reviewed it as a beach, but never gone tide pooling there.

Leadbetter Beach

We will add more details as we go but here are the top 5 according to our sources. Did we miss one? Where is your favorite tide pooling spot?

Friday, March 27, 2020

Nature Walks

San Marcos Preserve March 2020
In this strange season where we can't be within 6 feet of one another and all museums and playgrounds are closed, I still need to get outside with my kids. We had a summer where we hiked and walked nature trails. You can visit those posts for more thoughts but here were our favorite nature walks!

Santa Barbara
Douglas Preserve
Elings Park -- Sierra Club Trail
Moore Mesa
Rocky Nook Park
Stevens Park

Ellwood Butterfly Preserve/Bluffs
Lake Los Carneros

Knapp's Castle
San Antonio Creek Trail
San Marcos Preserve
Tucker's Grove Trails

SB County
Arroyo Hondo Preserve
Carpinteria Salt Marsh Preserve
Carpinteria Bluff Nature Preserve
Nojoqui Falls

* Our Favorites

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Visiting Zion, Bryce and North Rim Grand Canyon with Kids

The summer of 2016 we took a road trip with the kids who were not quite 3 and 6 years old. It was adventurous and we definitely had some lows, but I am glad we went. My only regret is not getting longer at these amazing parks.

It was 9 days total with 1-1.5 days at each park. The longest driving day was 6 hours which worked with lots of audio books. If I did it again, I would want 2-3 days in each park (maybe more for Zion).
Lodging plan was 1 night in Las Vegas, 2 nights in Panguitch outside Bryce, 2 nights in Kenab outside Zion, 2 nights in Freedonia (which was not as close to the north rim as I would have liked) and 1 in Barstow.

This was our itinerary.

Day 1: Drive to Las Vegas (about 6 hours) If you leave early enough, you get some exploring time around the city. We just wandered Caeser's Place, the Venetian and the Belagio. There are so manu options for kids that we found, but here are some of the cheaper ones and ones outside of the main choices.
* M&M Store 9AM-12AM
The Chocolate Factory 8 AM- 8PM
Fall of Atlantis at Caeaser's Palace has a free 11 minute show on the hour from 11AM-10PM
* Explore the Street Scene of the Grand Canal Shops in the Venetian. You can even include a gondola ride!
Belagio Gardens were free and the fountains of Belagio had a free show.
* The volcano at the Mirage starting at 6 on the hour.
Children's Park at LV Town Square Maze, Tree House Sprinklers 10AM-10PM
Aquarium at Mandalay Bay 10AM-10PM (8 Sun) $22/$15/Free
Las Vegas Natural History Museum (Reciprocal agreement with the SBMNH!) $12/$6/Free 9AM-4PM
*  Nevada State Railroad Museum $10/$5/Free 9-3:30 7 mile train ride

Day 2: Additional Time in Las Vegas and drive to Panguitch, UT (3.5 hours)
We stayed at a great Air BNB because of the ages of our kids.

Day 3: Bryce Canyon (35 minutes)
We were less adventurous here than later in the trip because we were uncertain how the kid would do.
* Drive the Scenic Byway. There are many looks out worth getting out of your car.
* Hike the Navajo Loop trail (1.3 miles) or Queen's Garden Trail (1.8 miles). I can't remember which one we did.
* Visit Mossy Cave (less than 1 mile).

If we had been there longer (or with older kids), we would have added the Rim Trail (5.5 mile) and Bristlecone Loop (1 mile) as well as a ranger talk.

Day 4: Additional Time in Bryce and drive to Kanab (1:15)
For the middle part of the trip, we chose a more expensive place with a pool!

Day 5: Zion (35 minutes)
* Drive through the tunnel!
* Walk to Emerald Pools (1.2 mile) to see the pools and waterfall.
* Hike to Weeping Rock (.5 miles) which has a view of the waterfall and the canyon.
* Walk the Temple of Sinawava trail (1mile hike all paved) We ended up hiking some of the Narrows and then wading in the river.
* Complete the junior ranger program.

If we had stayed longer or with older kids, I would have added Pa’rus Trail to Canyon Junction (3.4 miles) and spent more time in the visitor center as well as doing more ranger talks. The rangers here were engaging!

Day 6: Additional Time in Zion and drive to Fredonia (20 minutes)
This was not close enough to the North Rim, but we stayed on the quirkiest little farm run by sisters. My youngest got chased by a turkey larger than she was, adding to the family lore.

Day 7: North Rim of the Grand Canyon (1:45)
It is especially easy to choose short trails here that are the right length for kids. However, this was the only time I was worried about safety. The 3 year old stayed in a carrier and the 6 year old held a hand basically the whole time.
* Walk to Bright Angel Point (.5 mile).
* Hike Cliff Springs Trail (1 mile), a nice wooded trail past a spring.
* Walk the Cape Royale Trail (.6 miles), an easy paved hike with great views.
* Walk to Roosevelt Point  (.2 miles), a ver short path with wooded trails.

If we had stayed longer, we would have checked out the Grand Canyon CookOut Experience. I do feel like we did all that worked for our aged kids in one day.

Day 8: Drive Freedonia to Barstow (5:15) 

Day 9: Drive Barstow to Santa Barbara (3:30)

National Parks with Kids
Las Vegas:
North Rim:

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Glacier National Park with Kids

We visited Glacier National Park on our 2019 trip along with Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. If you drive from Santa Barbara, you would drive from Yellowstone to Glacier (about 6.5 hours). Since we flew in to Bozeman, we started at Yellowstone and drove to Glacier from Grand Teton which made the trip 9 hours. We stayed in Timber Wolf Lodge in Hungry Horse through Air BNB (I was wary of camping in a place where is can snow in August). After 4 days in the park, we drove back to Bozeman (5 hours) and flew back to Santa Barbara. If you choose to drive, it is around 20 hours driving back to Santa Barbara. See my Yellowstone post for more information on the flying plan and the Grand Teton post for more information on the driving plan.

These people had the same overall plan.

Day 1: After entering the West Glacier entrance, we enjoyed the Apgar Visitors Center as well as the Apgar Nature Center where most of the ranger talks happen. We walked along Lake McDonald toward Fish Creek and circled back to the Visitor Center. We also drove the Going to the Sun Road from West Glacier along Lake McDonald (there are also some short trails near John's Lake). (It was raining this day so we didn't attempt more.)

Day 2: We drove the Going to the Sun Road from West Glacier to walk the Trail of the Cedars (.8 miles) then continued up the road taking in the lookouts and the Weeping Wall to Logan Pass where we hiked to the Hidden Lake Trail (about 5.5 miles), seeing mountain goats (but not big horned sheep). It is quite a hike (1300 foot elevation gain with many steps), but we did it with some complaining (ages 6 and 9).
Trail of the Cedars

Hidden Lake

Going to the Sun Road

Day 3: We drove the Going to the Sun Road from West Glacier heading to all the way to the St. Mary's Visitor Center. We stopped for both the Sun Point Nature Trail and the trail to St. Mary's Falls. We got thoroughly drenched in a rainstorm on the second trail, but saw a moose swimming. Rather than return the way we came, we drove on the perimeter of the park (89/49/2) through the Flathead National Forest. We got our closest view of a bear here!

St Mary's Falls

Day 4: After completing the junior ranger requirements and getting the Scout badge (see National Park comments), we headed back to the Trail of the Cedars which is also the starting point for the trail to Avalanche Lake (4.5 miles) where the kids waded and we wished we had picnicked. 

Avalanche Lake
 Glacier National Park is huge and the different entrances lead to more remote parts. We stuck to the main parts near the Going to the Sun Road because those are the parts written about most. 

Other Glacier ideas: The Going to the Sun Road: Lake McDonald Lodge and boating, Beaver Pond Trail 3.4, West John’s Lake Loop 2.4m; Medicine Valley: Running Eagle Falls .6m, Appistoki Falls 1.2m; Many Glacier: Swift Current Nature Trail 2m, Apikuni Falls 2.5 m; Waterton Lakes: Blakiston Falls 1.6m, Rainbow Falls 1.4m, Cameron Lake 2.2m

National Parks with Kids