Friday, May 27, 2022

Student Sphere at UCSB

Flora Zhang from StudentSphere and a current UCSB student reached out to me to let me know about the new program that pairs college students with parents and families. She shared that StudentSphere was established in response to COVID-19 and hopes to alleviate the resultant stress on parents and their children. They pair K-12 students with college students for assistance with homework, learning a language, tutoring, dancing, and more! Everything is absolutely FREE and virtual! I asked if she would be willing to do a Q&A to answer questions so I can share the program with you!
Q: What inspired you/students to start the group?
A: Two UC Davis students launched StudentSphere, to assist families with children affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. They were inspired to start the program when they observed families in their own community, including those that consisted of single parents, frontline workers, and immunocompromised individuals, facing challenges with balancing work and their students’ education. Our program was initially designed to help connect K-12 students to college student mentors for assistance with the transition to online learning. Although in-person learning has resumed, our program continues to establish mentorships and support K-12 students.

Q: Who are you hoping to reach?
A: We offer free mentoring services to K-12 students living in North America.

Q: What kind of help do you provide?
A: We are a community-service based organization that provides free and virtual academic support and enrichment to K-12 students. We pair volunteer college/university students, known as mentors, with K-12 students for homework help, tutoring, social activities, and college preparation.

Q: How are students matched? How are the students vetted?
A: StudentSphere screens applicants based on interests, availability, and compatibility. We match mentors and mentees based on these criteria in order to ensure a successful mentorship. In terms of mentors, we also verify that they are indeed college students.

Q: How do I find out more?
Our website is and email is

Q: Any other things you want to share?
A: StudentSphere was interviewed by Univision back in September 2020. Thanks to outlets like Univision and other community organizations, our program has been able to reach diverse population of students from all over the nation. Link to the interview

 This sounds like an amazing resource for our community!

 Related Posts: 


Thursday, May 26, 2022

Winchester Park

 Winchester Park 1 and 2 just got face lifts. Winchester I Park is located in the 7600 block of Calle Real (closest cross street Bradford Dr). It got new exercise equipment for adults, but no playground for kids.  

Winchester II Park is located in the 7700 block of Calle Real with an entrance across from Jenna drive or another entrance in the cul-de-sac Warwick Pl. There are 2 large play structures with shade over rubber foam mats as well as a self powered merry-go-round, lily pad bridge and swings. There are regular swings a toddler swing and a differently abled swing. This park also has shaded benches and a shaded picnic table as well as older picnic tables under a tree.

The age 2 to 5 place structure has three climbing areas, a larger double slide and a tiny slide for very littles as well as the kind of place my kids used to use for an ice cream store. 

The 5 to 12 play structure has a rope climbing structure, swinging rings and three other climbing places as well as a long slide.

The shade for parents is definitely a plus
There is plenty of sitting space for parents.
The merry-go-round was a hit with my kids. 
Parking can be hard to come by.
There is no bathroom. 

Related Lists:
Parks for Big Kids
Summer of the Parks
Extensive Parks List

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Vacation Bible School 2022


Vacation Bible School is happening this summer! This is what I have found online so far. All ages are the ages children will be in this fall. If your church plans to do VBS this summer, forward me the info so I can add it!

June 13-17 9am-12pm Calvary Chapel SB at 1 N Calle Cesar Chavez #21
Phone: 805-730-1400 Ages: Kinder to 6th grade Price: $100 for the week Register at:

June 6-10 8:30-12 CEF Adventure Club at various trails in Santa Barbara
Ages: 10-12 Price: Free Register at: More Info: (FULL)

June 13-17 8:15-3 Christian Leadership Camp for 5th-8th grade students led by GracePoint Church at Anthem Price $50/$100 Register at:

 "We are trying to gather all the Christian students who are in between 5th and 8th grade, help them to grow in their faith, leadership skills, and make friendships along the way."

June 20-June 24 9am-12pm CEF Lego Camp Location: TBD Ages: 1st-6th grade Price: Free Register at: More Info: (FULL)

June 27-July 1 8:45-12 Montecito Covenant Church 671 Cold Spring Rd, Montecito
Phone: (805) 969-0373 Ages: K -8th grade Price: $55 per child Register at:


July 27-July 1 9am-12pm Surf Camp with Victory Sessions at Santa Claus Beach (Calvary Chapel SB at 1 N Calle Cesar Chavez #21 Phone: 805-730-1400) Games, Crafts, Bible Study and Worship Ages: K-6th grade Price: $50 (Alternate dates all FULL)

July 11-15 CEF Soccer Camp 9am-12pm CEF Soccer Camp at location TBD
Ages: 1st-6th grade Price: Free Register at: 
More Info: (FULL)

July 11-15 Okids Beach Camp 9m-12:30pm Ocean Hills at East Beach
Ages: 1st-6th grade Price: $100 until April 30 Register at:

August 1-5   Trinity Lutheran Garden Song Camp  9:00-12:00 (at TLC 909 N La Cumbre)
Ages: 1st-6th grade Price: $55 or $65/child, $120/Family Register at:

I am sure I missed something so feel free to comment below or message me through Facebook at

Andamar Park

Andamar Park got a face lift and it got two thumbs up from my kids. The old park had toddler and 2 regular swings as well as a slide over sand. The new park has large play structure with a wide variety of features over rubber mat. There is a big kid (5-12) play structure and a toddler (2-5) play structure. The big structure has 3 climbing areas, monkey rings, 2 slides and a three story tower. The little structure has 2 slides, 2 climbing places and a tunnel. There is also a merry-go-round and a unique set of 4 swings where kids can swing together or you can swing with your toddler.

 Favorites: The three story tower (11 year old's favorite), merry-go-round (8 year old) and shaded benches (mom)  

Quote: "Mom, you should add this to your list of parks for big kids!" (11 year old) 

This one is tricky to find because it is set back from the road. The entrances are located off Cathedral Oaks (near 5761) and Arundel Rd (near 670).

There is a large variety of things that could entertain for a long time.
The tower is unique and loved by a large range of ages.
The merry-go-round is a true one and goes faster than most around here.
There are shaded places for the parents to sit.
The swings are unique too. One is a tetter-totter type and one has a spot for mom/sibling to swing with a toddler!

There are no bathrooms, not even a port-a-potty.
There are no water fountains.
Be aware: This is definitely a dog park where people let their dogs roam off leash. 


Little Kids Back

Little Kids Front

Big Kids Back

Big Kids Side

Big Kids Front

Toddler Partner Swing


Shaded Benches


Related Lists:
Parks for Big Kids
Summer of the Parks
Extensive Parks List

New STEM Summer Camp

Are you still looking for a great camp for your kids this summer? Well, a reader reached out to connect me with Charlie Freund who is a local Carpinteria dad starting a new STEM camp at UCSB this summer. Charlie had 13 years of experience operating tech camps before COVID shut things down and had an opportunity to pause to think about what would make a great camp. He answered all my questions and offered a discount to readers for $75 off a week of camp! (See below)

Goleta Mom: What made you want to start a new camp and specifically a STEM camp?

"I had 13 summers of operating tech camps until COVID came. This gave me the chance to start something new and wanted to provide kids with more hands-on, exploratory STEM camps. I felt that after having my two kids home for remote learning, they would benefit from group projects, challenges, and failure. It feels like the kids lost out on some grit and resilience due to being in the house with parents so much."

Goleta Mom: What kinds of projects will it feature?

"We have a class where the kids will design their own Virtual Reality Escape Room! Lego Education EV3 Robotics to have races, maze escapes, and Sumo Battles! Create your own light up pins and fashion! Develop motion sensor intruder alarms!"

Goleta Mom: Is there something that makes your camp unique?

"It’s a partnership with STEM Center USA, founded by Melissa and Lavanya Jawaharlal! These two sisters are engineers who have built the curriculum and trained the staff to deliver STEM experiences that ignite passion, creativity, and community in each camp. US Sports Camp is the platform I’m using to take registrations and handle camp administration since it is a 47 year veteran in providing amazing summer camps for youth!"

Goleta Mom: What weeks does the camp run?

"July 11 – August 5, Monday to Friday, 9am-4pm (or there are Half-Day options of 9am-12pm or 1pm-4pm)."

Goleta Mom: What ages is the camp for?

"6-17, broken down into classes in different rooms for tighter age groups"

Goleta Mom: Where will the camp meet?

"At UCSB! And eat lunch in De la Guerra!" (Note: Full day only)

Goleta Mom: What kind of ratio is there (student to adult)?

"The student to adult ratio will be very amenable to getting attention to each kid, it will vary based on the size of each class, but wouldn’t exceed 10:1."

Goleta Mom: How do we contact you with questions or to sign up?

"To sign up, go to: For questions, you can call US Sports Camps at 800-433-6060 or email

Goleta Mom: Is there anything else that you would want me to share?

"Readers can use this special discount code for savings through May 30: GETSTEM22 for $75 off Full- and Half-Day Camps.
This looks like a super fun new camp option for our kids!

Related links:
Independent Summer Camp Guide 
VBS Post 2022

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Snapshot Winter 2022

Favorite New Product:  Along with the whole planet, I have been playing Wordle (as well as one on an app). You can do all the previous ones too! 

Life Hack: I have been starting my Monday with a weekly organizer and brain dump. I use this one from Routines and Things. It helps me look at the whole week, dump the random out of my brain onto paper. It is great for an overview and then priority setting.  

Last Book I Finished: Counterfeit Gods by Timothy Keller

I have never read a book by Keller that I didn't like! He talks through the things we set up as gods in our lives: money, love, power, security, success and more. Using historical writers to set up the things our culture values and sets up as idols, he uses Biblical examples like Abraham, Naamam, Jonah and Nebuchanezzar  to help dismantle these idols, acknowledging that idols must be replaced by God himself. One idea I had not heard before was the concept of deep vs surface idols (sometimes the surface idol of money hides the deeper idol of control for example). Highly recommend.

Life Project: Still working on my Master's of Education in Instructional Design at Western Governor's University At the end of my first term (6 months), I have finished 10 of the 13 classes. I just have 2 more classes and the capstone left! 

What we are eating today: Chickpea Curry in a Hurry from the Anti-Inflammatory Diet Cookbook by Madeline Given

Related Links:

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Berkeley Park Update

Some open spaces in Goleta are getting a face lift and some new equipment. First up was Berkeley Park. In the past, there was a toddler and kid swing as well as a teeter-totter as well as a spring riding toy.  We love this one when my kids were little for the teeter-totter. There are also tennis courts here and it is a popular dog park. This park is located in the Kellogg neighborhood and can be access from Kellogg School, Berkeley Rd or Arundel Rd. 

There are a lot of climbing areas packed into a small structure.
We love the cute butterfly and have seen littles enjoy it. 
The spinning tower is a favorite. 
The teeter-totter is still fun although for smaller kids. 

This isn't going to hold kids attention for too long. 
There are no bathrooms, but there is a port-a-potty. 

Front View Big Kid Area

Side View Big Kid Area

Back View Big Kid Area 

Toddler Area

Cute Butterfly

Related Posts:

Saturday, January 1, 2022

2022 Reading Challenge

I have been following the Modern Mrs. Darcy the past few years and historically she has a yearly reading challenge. This year (and last year) she did a choose-your-own-adventure style challenge. Many other bloggers create their own version and Goodreads has a plethora too. I had a list of types of books I would try to read every year, but never had success reading all of them until I streamlined it and tied each type to a month of the year. In 2020 and 2021, I hit all the categories! I also reviewed every book I read in 2021 which hasn't happened before. I have shared the reading list on my personal FB page, but here it is for wider perusal.

Note: this list has categories that reflect my Christian worldview, especially March and July, as well as choices in each category that are Christian books. I share to inspire you to think of categories that would fit you and to share my reading life too. 

I italicized the potential picks in each category for 2022. I am trying to read books I already have or that are already on my to read list, but something new always catches my eye too! I will see how this goes since I am still in school. ;) Most of my 2021 list reading happened before September when I started my program. 

January Social Justice for Martin Luther King Day: 

February Marriage for Valentine's Day:

March Christian Living for Lent: 

April Environment for Earth Day: 

May Biography: 
2020: Queen of Katwe 
2021: Tolkien (Devin Brown)

June Parenting for Children's Day: 
2020: Driven to Distraction
2021: Raising Lions

July Christian Fiction for summer: 
2020: The Great Divorce
2021: Descent into Hell

August Children's for summer: 
2020: Esperanza Rising, Tweet Cute
2021: Out of My Mind, Echo Mountain, The Vanderbeekers of 141st St, Ella Enchanted  

September Classics for Back to School: 
2020: Frankenstein
2021: Animal Farm

October Food for Harvest: 
2020: Feast, Fast, Repeat
2021: Intuitive Eating 

November Science: 
2020: The 1918 Spanish Influenza Pandemic
2021: Why We Sleep
2022: Range 

December Global Issues for Christmas: 
2020: Thou Shalt Not Be A Jerk: A Christian’s Guide to Engaging Politics
2021: How to Avoid a Climate Disaster , The Moment of Lift 

Related Posts: