Tag Archives: adventuring

Ma and Pa Modern Adventures: waterfalls, frogs, and salamanders, oh my!

We love waterfall hikes.
In fact, they rank among our most favorite kinds of hikes.
Southern California is notoriously dry, and has been even more than usual for the past few years.
However, there are still some wonderful waterfalls to be found if you look hard enough.
And given the extra rain we got this winter, the waterfalls are flowing better than they have been for the past couple of years.
This spring has been wonderful for us in finding lots of full creeks to splash in.
And yesterday we found a full waterfall.
It was glorious!

We hiked the Millard Canyon trail to the falls.
The trail has been closed for a number of years due to a fire.
It is recently re-opened and still uncrowded and beautiful.
No trash or graffiti like on some of our other favorite hikes in this area.
We are hopeful it stays that way.

The trail up to the falls was lush and green, and full of rocks to scramble over.
At some parts the creek splashed along beside the trail and sparkled in the sun.
It was pretty perfect.


Also along the trail were these beautiful white flowers, actually a weed, called Mexican Devils.
It is considered an invasive weed and can take over native plants.
It can also cause respiratory illness in horses.
Its really pretty, but after seeing how much of it there was along the trail, it is easy to see how it could choke out native plants.

We also found many, many frogs at the waterfalls.
And let me tell you, it was quite a thrill!
We found this guy, the California Tree Frog.

These frogs are nocturnal and take shelter in rock crevices near water during the day.
This was the first time we had seen these frogs and when the kids saw a number of them hanging out inside some cracks in the rocks around the waterfall, they were so thrilled.
I encouraged the kids to handle them gently, while they looked closely at them for observation, and then to let them go.
It was so much fun to meet a new kind of frog!
FYI: all reptiles and amphibians carry salmonella in their digestive tracts.
I learned that the hard way when I got salmonella after touching a baby turtle.
Not fun!
I always make the kids wash with hand sanitizer after catching any of these little creatures.
Of course, this was the one day I was out of hand sanitizer.
Thank goodness for my other mama friends coming to my rescue.

There are high, rock walls around the canyon and waterfall.
The big boys, of course wanted to explore those, and so we did a little bouldering.
We got pretty high up one of the steep canyon walls before I looked down and thought maybe we should stop climbing.
Even though all of us really wanted to go on.
But those rocks were slippery, and went crashing down the hill when our feet knocked them loose.
I didn’t want to knock out any kids at the bottom of the cliff.
Nor did I want to see one of the boys go rolling down the hill.


So we found a less rocky place and slid down the dirt hill on our feet.
Those boys are growing more adventurous by the week!
Its a lot of fun.
But also……a little nerve-wracking!
I may need to invest in safety gear for them and their climbing!

I also spent a lot of time chasing these little guys.
They ran up and down the trail like mountain goats.
I’m not kidding!
I think they are going to be even more comfortable chasing and finding adventure than the big boys, because they’re getting an earlier start.
I love that they get to have these days of fun and exploring with their best buddies.

After the 1.5 mile back to and from the falls, our awesome group of mamas and kids felt like we really hadn’t hiked much.
So we decided to explore another trail.
It was quiet and peaceful and green and followed along the same sparkly, dancing stream.
Oh it was just heavenly!
The big thrill was when a couple of the little girls found a couple of salamanders swimming in the water.
We were all so excited!
The big, brave Daddy that was with us for the day picked them up and let the girls hold them.
I felt brave too and held one too.
It was smooth and soft and a little slimy feeling from being wet.
It had a bright orange stomach.
And after the pair were returned to the water, Davy and I watched them begin to wrestle.
Turns out salamanders return to the pools they were born in to “wrestle” or mate.
They swim together under the water, twisting and turning and getting busy!
It was pretty cool to watch.
This spring has been really great to us for seeing lots of mating and eggs, and brand new babies everywhere we go.
Nature is a great teacher.

But I guess I needed to learn a little bit more about nature.
Because we learned that the salamanders we so excitedly held yesterday are actually poisonous.
They were California Newts, and the most toxic of all salamanders.
I had no idea.
Neither did the other mamas in our group.

James, however, knew and told me when we got in the car that salamanders are poisonous and we shouldn’t have held them.
He learned it from the wilderness survival guides he likes to read.
My friend Karen, whose daughter was also holding the newt, texted me and said, “are you having any symptoms? These salamanders are toxic!”
Thankfully we were all fine and learned a nature lesson we won’t forget.

Form now on I’ll always remember not to pick up salamanders, that I must always check that I have hand sanitizer in my bag, and that I need to read a wilderness survival handbook STAT!
Time to earn my nature mama cred.
And to be like my Boy Scout son, and BE PREPARED.

We sure do love our adventures!
This is learning at its very best.
“The world is our classroom.”

Wild and Free California–Your Guide to Adventure!

Wild and Free is coming to California!
I am just so thrilled that the next Wild and Free conference  is coming to my home state, and even better, to my home town!
I love where I live, and I’d love to share some of my favorite spots with you.
I hope you’ll be able to carve out a little time to explore beautiful California while you are here for the conference.
To help you get started with your dreaming and planning, here are a few sight seeing ideas.
There are ideas for any schedule–whether you find yourself with just a few hours to explore, or a few days.

If you have just a few hours…. 
You can head to downtown Long Beach. It s right across the bridge from the Queen Mary and there is so much to see and do there. You can visit the Aquarium of the Pacific for a chance to see an amazing variety of sea life. You can also explore Shoreline Village around the aquarium. Then you can walk down Pine Street for lots of great spots for a good meal.
Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 10.35.04 AM
For a more eclectic vibe, you can visit the East Village Arts District in downtown Long Beach, where there are vintage shops, coffee shops, and some great little art galleries.
A little farther afield, but still in Long Beach is 4th Street. If you love vintage shopping, and good food, this is the place for you! Be sure to stop at Lola’s for amazing Mexican food–you are in California after all. And if you want to indulge in the best pedicure ever, schedule one at Salon Pop.
Last stop for strolling, shopping, and dining in Long Beach is beautiful Belmont Shore on 2nd St. Long, walkable blocks offer lots to see and do. Blue Windows is the best place for sweet stationary and beautiful gifts for you and maybe your kiddos. Stop at La Creperie Cafe for a delicious desert crepe and a cup of coffee. 2nd st ends at the beach, so you can stroll the sand too.
Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 10.34.39 AM

If you have an afternoon….
You can go farther afield.
This is Southern California though, so having a car would be helpful for these excursions.
Just a short drive from the Queen Mary is the Palos Verdes Peninsula. There are stunning ocean views, cliffs to walk along, and great tide pooling. If you go, be sure to stop at the Korean Friendship Bell for gorgeous views to Catalina Island. Then hike along the bluff trails above Trump Golf Course and stop for lunch at Terranea Resort. If you are up for more hiking, visit Abalone Cove Shoreline Park, hike down to the beach and visit some incredible tide pools.
Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 10.58.34 AM
For the perfect, small beach town experience, you can drive south a bit and stop in Seal Beach. The main street feels a bit like Mayberry, but with better shops, a pier, and the beach! Get coffee and amazing pastries at Crema Café and shop for pretty things at Petals and Pop shop.
Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 10.36.59 AM
Farther south is Huntington Beach, also called Surf City USA. You can eat at Ruby’s Dineat the end of the pier, and watch the surfers catch waves.
If you want to see a beautiful piece of Southern California’s past, drive just a bit farther south to Laguna Beach and Crystal Cove State Park. The park is miles of beautiful beach, tide pools, the Beachcomber Café for meals right on the sand, and a hillside of gorgeous, abandoned cottages, just perfect for gramming.
Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 10.44.35 AM
After Crystal Cove you can drive a few minutes south to the beautiful town of Laguna Beach. Laguna Beach is perched on the hills above the Pacific and with its windy roads, ever blooming flowers, and gorgeous architecture, it feels like you’ve stepped into the Mediterranean. Be sure to visit Shaw’s cove, or stroll the hills above the cove for perfect California views.
If you’d like to see a little more of the urban side of Southern California, then drive north a bit to Venice. If you dare, stroll Venice Beach to see the wild and wacky. Or just head over to Abbot Kinney Blvd for fantastic shopping and unbelievable food. It’s a must stop.
Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 11.05.31 AM
For more culture, you can head to Los Angeles County Museum of Art, LACMA It’s a beautiful museum, inside and out. And just up the street is the Original Farmer’s Market, an LA institution since 1934! There are heaps of great food options, fun outdoor seating, and a great people-watching scene. It’s also right next to the beautiful, outdoor mall, The Grove. I generally don’t recommend malls for sight seeing spots, but this one is pretty marvelous.
Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 10.37.49 AM

If you have a whole day…
You must drive north to Malibu. You can simply drive the coast with the windows rolled down to smell the salty air, and take in ocean views. Or you can spend part of your day at the Getty Villa.You’ll feel like you are in Ancient Greece or Rome. The art, architecture, views and food are all spectacular. If you have the time, I highly recommend it.
Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 10.54.43 AM
Drive a little farther north and stop at the Malibu pier. Its small and so charming—my favorite southern California pier. There is also a completely wonderful restaurant, the Malibu Farm Pier Cafe, at the end of the pier. It’s beyond perfect for breakfast or lunch.
Right near the pier is Malibu Country Mart, home to uber fancy shopping, despite its homey sounding name.
Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 10.55.21 AM
Malibu is famous for gorgeous beaches, so you should visit one or two while you are there. El Matador State Beach is breathtaking. Go there.
Leo Carrillo beach has sea caves and tide pools and is wonderful too.z

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 10.53.52 AM
If you’d like to end your day in Malibu with a bowl of clam chowder or some fish tacos, stop at Neptune’s Net for dinner. It’s right on PCH, and has been a Malibu institution since 1958.
After dinner you can drive back south, watching the sun set over the Pacific. A perfect California day.
Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 10.44.51 AM

I’m so excited to know you’ll be here in California, enjoying some of my favorite spots, and getting your hearts filled up at the Wild and Free conference.
Please be sure to stop and talk to me at the conference.
I’d love to hear about where you explored and what all you got to see.
Can’t wait to see your smiles and give you a big hug!

Adventure Is Out There! Los Angeles Maritime Museum

It seems our dry Southern California weather might be taking a sabbatical, and El Nino will be brining us a wet winter.
Or at least that is what we’re hoping for.

The rain is wonderful and much needed, but it does have an impact on the weekly field trips we take with our Adventure Club.
The majority of our weekly field trips are outdoors–usually hikes.
And while we are pretty adventurous, hiking in pouring down rain isn’t our favorite.
Even it if was, most trails are closed when it rains.

So that leaves us looking for alternatives.
In anticipation of a rainy winter, I’ve been busy making a list of rainy day field trip spots.
Its good to have ideas beyond our oft-visited, favorite museums.
We all like the variety.

As per my kids request, the first place on the rainy day field trip list was the Los Angeles Maritime Museum.
Aaron first took our kids there years ago and they’ve loved it ever since.
We haven’t been in a couple years though, and were excited to see the great additions they’ve made.
Now we like the museum even more!

Outside the museum are some fun pieces to explore: this boat, a giant propellor, a diving bell, and some military artifacts as well.
My kids always enjoy checking them out.

Once inside, there are different ways to explore the museum.
If you explore on your own, your kids will be given a “treasure hunt” to help them learn more about the museum exhibits.
When they finish, they will receive a small prize.
My kids love doing this activity.
Or, you can arrange for a tour for your small group.
When we went, we didn’t even arrange for a tour in advance.
But since our group was the only one there and they had a docent available, they gave us a tour on the spot.
Isn’t that nice?
The tours are fabulous and I recommend them.

There is so much to see in the museum!
Like this huge model of the beautiful Queen Mary (this one was used in the movie The Poseidon Adventure).
To beautiful displays of sailor made art.
And lovely ladies who graced ships that sailed the seas.
There are models big and small to study.
If you have any kids who love the intricate details of models like some of mine do, then they’ll love this museum!
And besides the models, there is a wide variety or maritime artifacts to discover.
We even met a gentleman from the United Radio Amateur Club who taught us a bit about morse code.
New to us was the children’s section of the museum.
It is full of costumes to try on, a row boat full of books to read, and a variety of wooden harbor themed toys to play with.
This part of the museum was a huge hit with the kids.
Did I mention we were the only ones there?

If you live anywhere in the LA area, I highly recommend a visit!
The museum is open Tues -Sunday.
Adults are $3 and children are free.
Parking is free.

If you are interested in finding more great field trip ideas, check out my Instagram account and the hashtags:  #hsadventureclub or #maandpamodernhike.
And if you have favorite spots you visit in the LA/Orange County/San Diego area, I’d love to hear about them.
Remember, the world is our classroom!

Adventure Is Out There! Pioneer Town, California

We love to start the New Year with an adventure.
This year that took us to the desert.
It was a beautiful day for exploring–sunny, clear, and crisp.
We started at Pioneer Town.
We’d never been, but from what I’d read, it sounded like a fun place to visit.
It was.
Kind of bizarre, but definitely fun too.


Taken from the plaque in front of the Pioneer Town Post Office:
“Pioneer Town was founded in 1946 by a group of Hollywood personalities led by cowboy actors Dick Curtis and RussellHayden as a permanent 1880s town for filming western movies.”
Roy Rogers broke ground on the first building, and in time over 200 movies were filmed in Pioneer Town. Main street and some of its buildings have been declared historical resources by the CA department of parks and rec.
And this post office is said to be the most photographed post office in the United States.
Its still an operational post office too!

Besides the post office the town has some other active shops too. Like the general store, where I found a darling pair of vintage cowboy boots (my first pair!) and the kids found coyote jaw bones for sale. There is a pottery store, and a used book…store.  Its worth a peep inside. There is also  a very busy and popular restaurant, Pappy and Harriet’s. It is definitely worth a visit!

There are also plenty of fun spots that are just for looking at.
Or for taking pictures.

And while you’re walking down Main Street, you might just run into Cowboy Lou.
He’s a real life cowboy who will stop and chat with you, let your kids pet his beautiful horse, Running Bear, and then even invite you to his house if you ever come back to Pioneer Town.
He was the sweetest guy.

But more than anything, I think Pioneer Town is best just for wandering.
There are beautiful views, and lots of random things to see and wonder about.
We had a great time.

And don’t forget to stop and take in the views on the way out.
You’ll feel like you are leaving Big Thunder Mountain.
In fact, the whole place is kind of like a wacky Frontier Land.
It’s a fun spot.
If you want to visit, Pioneer Town is just off of Route 62, about 20 minutes away from Joshua Tree.
You never know exactly when things are open, but Pappy and Harriet’s does have listed hours on their website.

And after you visit Pioneer Town, you can head to Joshua Tree.
That’s what we did.
Those pics will be up next.

Adventure is out there!

What the Rain Brought to Us in Yosemite

I can’t remember the last trip I actually blogged about.
I think it’s been years.
But this was our first time in Yosemite.
And the trip was so rich and full and dream like, that I don’t want to forget it.
Well, except for that first day.
There was a big part of that day that wasn’t the least bit magical.
But I want to remember that part too.
Because, like in pregnancy and childbirth, the bad memories fade, and all that is left is the glowing, good stuff.
I like that.
I like remembering the beautiful.
But I think there is a place for remembering the hard too.
Because the hard is where we learn the most.

I’ve often said I am glad God blessed me with 4 children, because there has been nothing like mothering 4 children to teach me to let go.
To let go of my pride, and to let go of my plans.
To let go of control, to let go of my notions of perfection, and, I confess I mourn this one too often, to let go of having my whole house clean at the same time and it staying like that for even 1 day.
Or 1 hour.
God has used my motherhood to help me rearrange my perspective and to show me what is most important.
It has been hard.
But it has also been good.

Sometimes though, I fall back into my old ways and try to hold fast to them.
I clench my fists tightly, unwilling to let go of my way.
Even when my way is clearly not working, I still hang on.
This vacation started off with a lot of fist clenching.
I had a vision and a plan.
I wanted things to go my way, and when they didn’t, I was not willing to let go and just take things as they came.
I wasn’t willing to see that what came about that might be better than the plans I had made.
I wasn’t willing to look for the good that might be the outcome of changes.
I was just mad that things weren’t working out my way.
Basically, I was a 2 year old.

From the start, things didn’t go the way I wanted.
We couldn’t get reservations at the right time.
As a result, our trip was shorter than I wanted it to be.
Then there were other things that came up and it was cut even shorter.
And again.
I was so frustrated.
And mad too.
We take several overnight or weekend trips a year, camping usually.
But this is our only longer vacation and I wanted the most out of it.
I wanted not to feel rushed and hurried.
Was that so much to ask?

So I sulked and pouted and acted like a 2 year old.
I realize how obnoxious this must sound to some of you.
I realize that because growing up, we went on 1 family vacation.
There were a few other trips, but they were when my dad was working, so he wasn’t there for much of the trip.
We went to the beach a lot.
And did fun day trips now and then.
But money was in short supply and annual family vacations were not a luxury we could afford.
So I know how fortunate we are to be able to take them with our kids.
It is a tremendous blessing.
And one I should never grumble or complain about.
Yet I did.
Because it is easy to get comfortable with where I am, and instead of counting the blessings, to become unsatisfied.
How quickly I became like the children of Israel, yearning for the luxuries of Egypt, instead of remembering the life of slavery there.

But the day of departure arrived and we finally got on our way.
And I vowed to have a good time and a better attitude.
Whatever we had time for would be wonderful and we’d make the best of it!
After hours and hours of drive time, traffic and delays, mudslides, a fire, and a deer jumping in front our car, we pulled into Yosemite.
It was dark and late and cold.
But we were all so excited to be there.
This sign made my heart sing.
I loved this place already!


The next morning, I woke early, put on my jacket, and headed out to find the bathrooms.
William was with me, and the first thing we saw was a mama deer and her fawn, wandering through the tent village where we were staying.
We followed them for a few minutes, marveling at their sweetness.
The leaves everywhere were beautiful shades of golden, and the air was crisp and so fresh.
We kept filling our lungs with it and saying, “doesn’t it smell so good here?”


And then we walked a little further, where the views opened up behind the trees.
My eyes filled with tears immediately.
This is what everyone meant when they said Yosemite changed them.
I was in awe of the beauty.
And that was just from they little pocket of sky I could see from Curry Village!
It was everything I had hoped for and more.
I couldn’t wait to wake the others and start our day of exploring.
I was right, it was all going to be great!
No matter how it started, it was going to be great!


It would be perfect if the story stopped there, right?
A happily ever after ending.
But life isn’t happily ever after.
Life is isn’t edited to perfection.
Life is messy.
And most of the time we make that mess ourselves.

So the story continues.
We set off on that cool, cloudy morning to explore the Yosemite Valley by foot.
Jackets on, backpacks loaded, and ponchos too, just in case.
The kids wanted to take the bus.
Because buses are a novelty for us.
Buses are fun.
But we said, ” no way!”
“We’re going to walk while we can.”
WIthin minutes of us setting out, a gentle rain began to fall.
We basically told the kids to suck it up, except nicer, and kept walking.
Then it started to pour.
Just buckets of water raining down on us.
We were drenched.
And we turned and sprinted through the downpour, back to the bus stop.

We were laughing.
It was funny, and ironic, and the kids thought it was just great.
Aaron and I shared a “can you believe this look?” and laughed some more.
But we were all soaked.
And the bus quickly became crowded and hot with others trying to escape the rain.
We tried to figure out where to go and what to do, and suddenly it wasn’t as much fun as it had been a few minutes ago.


Still, we determined to have fun.
We ran through the rain to the natural history museum at the visitor center, and then on to see a film so we could get to know Yosemite a little better.
Like the bus, it was packed.
And I was trying to have a good attitude about the rain, and the crowds and sticky, wet ponchos, but I’ll be honest, it was touch and go.
I wanted to hike Yosemite, not see it on a screen.
The film was wonderful.
And I fell more in love with Yosemite.
And was even more bummed that we couldn’t get out and see everything.

The rain was still coming down in sheets.
We braved it.
And got even more soaked.
So we toured the valley from inside the bus.
The kids loved it.
And I tried to put on a brave face.
I was failing.
I seriously wanted to cry.
I know.
It all seems very melodramatic now.
But in the moment, I felt like all the dreams I had for our first time in Yosemite were crashing all around me.
How quickly I forgot that magical morning, and all my promises to choose to find the good.


Thankfully Aaron was a hero and kept up good spirits. (despite his serious looks in that bus picture)
He suggested we go explore the historic Ahwahnee hotel.
It was beautiful.
But like everything else, so crowded.
And 4 year olds are only interested in sitting in a lodge admiring gorgeous architecture and beautiful, giant fireplaces for so long.
How were we going to fill this day?
Sitting in our tent playing cards?
That was not my plan!

Aaron wandered off and came back with a grin on his face.
He bent down to the kids and said, “since today is rainy and we aren’t getting to do much, how about we have lunch in the most beautiful dining room you’ve ever seen?”
The kids didn’t seem too impressed.
But he walked us over and we peeked in.


It was breathtaking!
High ceilings, and windows taller than our house to let in gorgeous views of must shrouded mountains, and rain falling from the sky.
We were all wet and disheveled, but they led us to our table like we were dressed for dinner.
They gave the kids Etch A Sketches to play with and brought hot cocoa and hot coffee.
I cried again.
From happiness and such a vivid reminder that letting go can lead to unexpected joy.
I guess there are happily ever after endings sometimes after all.

Or at least there are happily every after moments.
That are bought with Etch A Sketches for every kid at the table, plenty of hot cocoa, and a side of fries and a nap at the table for the very tired 4 year old.
Whatever it takes, right?


It was one of the best, most beautiful lunches of my life.
Cheers to my knight in shining armor for saving the day!
I’m so glad he helped me choose joy.
Especially when I didn’t want to.

It seems that on every adventure we embark on, there is a moment, or many, where the words of Bilbo Baggins ring so true: “Adventures are not all pony rides and May sunshine.”
Indeed they are not.
But this time the rain helped change my heart.
And it brought the waterfalls.
And so much more.
More on that in the next post.

Home Schooling 101: Creating Your Own Adventure Club


My love of adventure started when I was a little girl because my dad had the amazing ability to turn everything into an adventure.
If we had a few rainy days, we were on storm watch.
And he’d drive us around to see what creeks were overflowing.
He’d wake us up in the middle of the night to watch lightening storms.
If we were cleaning out the garage and doing a heap of yard work, and then making a trip to the dump, he’d make up a song about it and we’d sing it loud and happily the whole way there.
He made going to the dump an adventure!
My dad is one of the most enthusiastic people I know.
Kids follow him around like the pied piper because he exudes joy and fun.
He loves life and he loves people.
Long ago he made a decision about how he wanted to live life–by making the most out of all of it.
He sees life as one big adventure.

Growing up that way, I couldn’t help but want to make my life an adventure too.
And once I had kids, and began home schooling them, I decided that I wanted them to learn through adventures as well.
This idea has so shaped the way I teach my kids that I dedicate one day of our school week, every week, to adventuring.
We adventure with our home school group, but over time, we have begun to call ourselves the Adventure Club.
Occasionally I wonder if we are doing the right thing.
I mean, is it really OK to go on a field trip EVERY SINGLE WEEK?
But then I remember all that my kids learn while we are out in the wide world, and I stop doubting what my heart tells me is right.
Everything we are learning at home, sitting around the dining room table, or laying on the living room floor, comes to life in a new way when we are out adventuring.
Science, history, math, literature–every single subject gets covered.
Often in ways I could never plan for.
It just happens because we are learning wherever we go.
The world is our classroom!

Maybe you are longing to adventure with your kids.
Perhaps you are ready to start an adventure club of your own.
I’d love to help you get started by sharing some of the things I’ve learned in the last 6 years of adventuring with my kids.

The first place to start, of course, is to Find A Group.
Adventuring is more fun with friends. Even if you can’t find a whole group of adventurers to join, I bet you can find one other mom.
The trick is, you have to find someone who likes the same kind of adventures as you do.
Not every mom is up for long drives, long hikes, or letting their kids get muddy, and catch bugs.
And If you are, then you need to find a like minded mom.
And once you do, hold fast to one another, and get ready to adventure!

Once you’ve found your adventure buddy, or buddies, you need to Plan Your Adventures.
Here is where the fun starts!
Our group meets at the beginning of each semester to plan.
We usually plan for 3 nature outings a month and one cultural adventure.
When we started, our kids were all 5 and under, and none of us knew how much we were capable of.
So we visited nature centers, parks, arboretums, and trails that were stroller friendly.
But in short order, we found our way and began branching out–hiking further, and visiting places where we had to climb over rocks, ford streams, and climb up and down steep hills.
Even when 8 months pregnant.
(this was Lilly’s first 4 mile hike, she was 2 and a half. We waded across streams on slippery rocks and logs, and climbed a long, very steep hill at the end of the hike. I couldn’t carry her, because I could hardly climb the hill myself.  We were both exhausted by the time we reached the top. But we did it.  And that feeling was pretty great.)

Now most of us still have toddlers and pre-schoolers, but because those kids have been doing this since they were infants, we have different expectations for them.
They just have to come along!
The more you adventure, the more your confidence in your own ability and in your kids’ ability grows.
You’ll be amazed at the things you’re all are able to do.
So now, in addition to nature centers and parks, we also visit wilderness parks, mountain trails, tide pools, creeks, woods–basically any place we can hike and explore, and learn freely.

Our cultural days take us to museums of course, but there are also so many other places to visit.
In California, we have the missions, so those are on our list as places of historical interest.
When our group was studying weather for one of our nature study topics, we visited UCLA for a class on meteorology.
We’ve toured a lighthouse, a cheese shop, took the metro to downtown LA to visit China town, and toured historic mansions in Beverly Hills.
We’ve gone to plays and puppet shows, and visited the county fair.
Most of our trips are free or inexpensive.
There are so many field trips available to home schoolers now.
Many museums have free days for the general public, and some have days just for home schoolers.
The only limit to your adventures is your imagination!

So now that you’ve planned your trips, now you need to Pack Well.
One of the most common questions I get about our adventures is, “I don’t know what to pack.”
It’s a valid question, and it takes time to figure it all out.
For starters, you need a good backpack.
This was the first year that I haven’t had to carry a baby on my back, or front, so my back pack is different than the one I used while I was toting babies.
I use a Jansport, from their Heritage series.
I tried out a lot of packs to find one that is comfortable, and big enough for all the stuff I bring.
Inside my pack I always have a first aid kit.
I pack a sheet for sitting on because it’s lighter than a blanket.
For lunches, I have streamlined to fit the things that need to be kept cold into this one small cooler bag.
I bring things like string cheese, yogurt tubes, salami, and hummus in our cooler bag.
I don’t make sandwiches because they take up a lot of room and they get soggy.
Instead, I get a baguette and strap it to the top of my pack.
When it is lunch time, I tear off a hunk of baguette, stuff some cheese or meat in there, and hand it to my kids.
It’s the easiest lunch ever and my kids think its a great treat!
Each of my kids carries his own back pack with a water bottle and snacks.
I carry my own water and and an extra bottle because you never, ever want to run out of water on the trail.
It makes for a miserable hike.
And I always pack a treat of some kind, a lolly pop, gum, a fruit roll, or something that I can use to get tired kids to get down that last stretch of the trail.
Trust me, these little treats can be your saving grace.
My kids all pack different things for hikes.
My boys fill their back packs with things like knives, ropes, hammers and nails.
And they actually use those things!
My daughter brings stuffed animals, and all sorts of other random stuff that I don’t understand the point of having on a hike.
But since she carries it, she can bring what she wants.
They all carry their nature journals, a pen, and colored pencils, so they can draw if they want.
I carry thin, waterproof field guides for identifying plants and birds as we hike.

When we visit museums, we obviously leave much of this home.
I’ll still carry my back pack with snacks, water and lunch, and the kids will carry their art history, or nature notebooks for sketching.
Packing for your adventures is an art form.
And it helps tremendously to pack the night before.
It will help your mornings go so much more smoothly.
And you might not even yell at your kids before you get out the door!
Oh wait, I know that never happens to you guys.

The last thing you need for your adventures is the expectation that you will be challenged.
You need to be ready to Expect the Unexpected.
Whether you are visiting an art museum or hiking in a wilderness park, one thing you should expect on your adventures is that something you haven’t planned for is going to happen.
Your kid might try to touch a priceless piece of art and the guards will give you very dirty looks.
Talk to kids about museum etiquette before you go.
Or they might giggle and act all silly and embarrassed when you walk into a museum wing with nudes.
Plan ahead and avoid those wings, or talk to them about nudes in art before hand.
When we are hiking, I try to research the hikes as much as I can before we visit.
I look to see if they are stroller friendly, if there will be stream crossings, and if there is shade.
That way I know what shoes to wear, whether or not we need to wear sun hats, and if babies need to be carried rather than strolled.
My kids always wear layers, but I check the weather anyway, to be prepared for rain, or hot temperatures and pack extra water.
You might encounter snakes, and your kids, and you, need to know how to react to a snake.
Or what to do if they disturb a bee hive–that has happened to us.
Can your kids pee in the bushes?
Can you?
How about pooping behind a tree?
Cause I can guarantee it is going to happen.
And you need to be ready for it.
Always carry wipes and plastic bags.
Otherwise, you’ll be using socks to wipe someone’s booty.
Trust me, I speak from experience.

The thing to remember is that you are adventuring with kiddos, it won’t always be fabulous.
This quote from The Hobbit is such a perfect description of adventures:

The wildest adventures may make you crazy at the time, but they are going to make the best stories later.

My dream is that I’ll be out adventuring and learning with my kids until they are off to college.
And then that they will continue to learn this way long into their adulthood, just as I am doing now.
I may not be able to take my kids on trips around the world, but I can still make their world as big and grand and beautiful as possible.
I can help them see the magic God has created for them to enjoy is everywhere.
I hope you feel like you can too.

In the end, I come back to this beautiful quote, by one of my educational heros, Charlotte Mason.
It encapsulates so well what I want to offer my kids in all of their education.
Adventures included.

Adventure Is Out There! Wayfarer’s Chapel

I’ve started a new feature on my Instagram acoount. (@maandpamodern)
It’s called My Daily Vintage, and it’s a place for me to share my love of vintage everyday.
Sometimes it’s just items from our home–since it’s full of vintage–but it is also vintage signs, architecture, design, and whatever else strikes my fancy.
Besides sharing the image, I might share a story, interesting facts, or some of the history related to it.
I throughly enjoy learning more about the vintage I love, and this seems like a fun way to share it with the, hopefully more than a few, of you who enjoy it too.
If nothing else, it is a way to entertain myself and grow my mind.
That can’t be a bad thing.

I’ve been encouraged to come back to blogging (thank you kind friends who have encouraged me!) and not simply “micro blog” on Instagram.
Apparently not everyone is on IG.
Oh yeah, I wasn’t on there just 6 months ago.
So, I’ve decided to start up with this feature here on the blog too.
Sometimes it will just be the same content that was on the Instagram post (which probably violates some kind of blogging protocol, but I don’t really care) but other times it will contain expanded information, like this post does.
All this is to say, here’s the new feature on IG and here on the blog, I hope you like it, and I hope you’ll follow along!
Now, here we go.

Today’s Your Daily Vintage was inspired by this photo:photoMy good friend Rachel, sent it to me in a little care package, knowing I would love it and be entranced by the history behind it.
She was right.
It’s a photo from the building of Wayfarer’s Chapel on Palos Verdes Peninsula.
Wayfarers Chape was the dream of a Mrs. Schellenburg.
She “dreamed of a little chapel on a hillside above the Pacific ocean, where wayfarers could stop to rest, meditate and give thanks to God for the wonder and beauty of creation.”
I like her.
The chapel was designed by Lloyd Wright, son of the famous Frank.
Mr. Wright’s design was inspired by a Northern California trip to the redwoods.
Looking up at the beautiful, arching branches above his head, he was reminded of a cathedral.
His design also reflects one of the mid century modern design elements I love best: letting light and nature in.
The chapel is constructed largely of glass, directing eyes to the sky overhead, as well as to the branches of the redwood trees that now tower above it.
It is awash in light, and is peaceful and utterly beautiful.


One of my favorite parts about home schooling is all the “extras” I get to add into my kids’ education.
Not surprisingly, I add in a lot of the liberal arts: art history, literature, architecture, poetry, and design, to name a few.
That’s why we stopped to visit Wayfarer’s Chapel yesterday, when we were right near it to go tide pooling.
Our favorite tide pooling spot, Abalone Cove, is right down the hill from the Chapel, and every time we’re at the cove, I long to visit the chapel.
We managed to have enough time yesterday for a quick visit, and a brief talk about mid century modern architecture, design, and one of America’s most famous architects.
It was a beautiful addition to our day.
photo 1Here they are, getting their first glimpse of the chapel.
True to form, William and Lilly are speechless and just taking it in.
James on the other hand, is taking it in by telling me about everything he’s seeing.
They were all taken in by the architecture–unlike any building they’d been in before.photo 3We weren’t in there for a terribly long time, but long enough to admire, appreciate, discuss, and spend a lot of time looking up.
I felt very comfortable taking my 4 kids inside to look around.
They were respectful and quiet of course, but I’ve been to places where I’m still made to feel less than welcome with 4 young kids.
It was nice that this wasn’t the case at Wayfarers Chapel.
photo 2After taking in the chapel, we explored the grounds.
The views beg to be enjoyed.
The chapel sits in a beautiful spot.
If you aren’t there with 4 little ones, there are lots of benches scattered about for spending time in quiet reflection, reading, or just basking in the glorious ocean views.
Just like Mrs. Schellenberg dreamed it would be.photo-8photo 2There were a few other visitors at the chapel besides us.
None of them seemed bothered by us.
In fact, one elderly couple smiled at us all as we trooped past them.
The gentleman stopped me for a moment and said, “my, aren’t you the lucky one!”photo 1Yes, I am.
Lucky I get to share my love for beautiful things and places with these little people, lucky to be their teacher, lucky that they are always up for an adventure, and luckiest of all to be their Mama.
I don’t take it for granted.
I’m so grateful.
I think that’s just how Mrs. Schellenburg would have wanted me to feel.photo 3

If you are anywhere near Palos Verdes, this place warrants a visit.
It doesn’t have to be a long stop, but even a short stop will be worth it.
Wayfarers Chapel Info:
5755 Palos Verdes Dr S, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275
Open daily 9-5
For more info, visit the website here

And after you visit the chapel, you can head down to Abalone Cove for great tide pooling and a beautiful beach.
Pictures of our time there up next.

Cheers to vintage!






Adventure Is Out There! That TIme I Took My 4 Kids to a Hipster Hotel All By Myself

I love to take my kids on adventures.
In doing so, I hope to pass onto them a love, and a longing, for adventure, that lasts them their whole life.
Our adventures often entail a fair amount of work and a bit of discomfort, and usually leave me exhausted by the end of them.
But they also leave me exhilarated.
They are the stuff of memories.
I’m always, always, glad we made the effort.
Early this summer, Aaron set out on an adventure of his own.
He flew to Spain and Portugal to hike El Camino de Santiago.
He, my dad, and some others, would be there for 10 days, hiking over 80 miles along an ancient pilgrim route.
It was an amazing time, and I hope I can get him to blog about it here.
Meanwhile, I stayed home with our 4 kiddos.
It was the end of the school year and baseball season.
There were a million things going on.
I couldn’t get a babysitter to save my life.
There were closing ceremonies, pizza parties, and extra practices for playoffs.
I was pretty worn out from doing regular life alone, and missing Aaron fiercely on his birthday, Davy’s 2nd birthday, Father’s Day, and our 15th wedding anniversary.
As a way to get through the time while Aaron was gone on his adventure, I had planned to take the kids on one of our own, but time seemed to be working against me.
I had one night.
So we went to Palm Springs.
It was a calculated move.
I needed to deliver some paintings to Just Modern, a fabulous shop in Palm Springs that sells Aaron’s work.
And James had been asking to stay at the ACE ever since his Daddy took him there for lunch a few months prior.
That’s right, my 9 year old loves the ACE hotel.
He liked the food, the aesthetic, and the design.
“It’s mid century, but kind of rustic too, Mom.  And they have a photo booth.  And a diorama.”
He knows how to woo me.
I found a ridiculously cheap rate–$63 for a double–and away we went.
One night in a hotel?
That’s not much of an adventure, you say.
Our kids have stayed in a hotel only one other time in their lives.
We have 4 kids–we travel cheap.
That means we camp, we stay at the grandparents, and once a year we rent a tiny, log cabin on the central coast of CA, and the owners think we are insane for cramming our whole family in there.
We don’t really do hotels.
So to my babies, it was an adventure extraordinaire.
It was for me as well.
Taking all 4 kids anywhere by myself always is.
Even to the grocery store–I never know what;s going to go down.
But to a hipster sort of place like the ACE, where my kids could very well be the only ones there, and where anyone with 4 kids might as well have 14, it would be an adventure indeed.
I was game.
Bed jumping commenced the moment we walked into our room.
The irritation of packing up, of leaving hours later than I had planned, of stepping out of the car into 108 degree heat, and of feeling a little out of place with my four kids, my minivan, and my distinctly unhipster attire, faded away.
They were having so much fun already.

While they gleefully jumped from bed to bed, I opened my computer, hoping to catch Aaron in Spain, and facetime with him for a few minutes.
He wasn’t online.
I checked my Facebook messages, hoping there would be one from him.
Instead, I saw news that made me gasp in disbelief, and then burst into tears.
A childhood friend had been in a motorcycle accident that morning, and by that afternoon he had passed away.
He was a young man, married, and his first baby was due to arrive in days.
It was the kind of tragedy that leaves you crying for everyone that is left behind.
The kids were ready to go to the pool, but I told them we needed to pray, and it would take Mommy a little while to be ready to go outside.
They were sweet and respectful, eager to hug me, and pray with me for people they didn’t know.
It was such a reminder of the day, nearly a year before, when another friend passed away unexpectedly.
It catches you so off guard.
And it makes you instantly aware of what matters.
I knew this was the frame for our time together these 2 days.
No chores, no work, no distractions to keep me from the most important part of my life.
I dried my tears, and with prayers in my heart, we went to the pool.
We had the small pool all to ourselves.
It was bliss.ace-27ace-26ace-29

Everyone got hungry, and we headed to the big pool for dinner.
I treated myself.ace-37
Davy wasn’t the least bit interested in food.
All he wanted to do was play ping pong.ace-42

As I had suspected, my kids were the only ones there.
We stood out.
Dinner time was exhausting.
And probably quite humorous for anyone watching me.
Through it all, I was chasing Davy, taking every kid to the bathroom at different times, changing a poopy diaper. trying to keep Davy out of the pool long enough for me to finish something on my plate, and changing tables a million times to get away from smokers, to be near the pool to watch the big kids swim, to be in the shade, to be by the ping pong table, to be away from the ping pong table, and on and on it went.
Thankfully we had an incredibly nice waitress, and my friend Deliesse showed up so I’d have another adult to talk to.
We gawked at the guy walking by in the white speedo and cowboy boots, and she stayed with the kids while I made bathroom trip after bathroom trip, one child at a time.
She was a lifesaver.
At other times, all of this might have gotten to me.
Like I said before, adventure is fun, adventure is worth it, but adventure is also work.
I could have said, I’m fed up!
This isn’t any fun!
Why does everything always have to be so hard?
At other times I’ve said those things.

Those thoughts didn’t come this time.
Instead there was the ache in my heart for a life lost, and a vow to cherish my time with the people I love.
It’s how I should always be, but sadly I am not.
Far too often I loose sight of the most important things and focus on the unimportant things.
At times I get downright lost in them.

After dinner, it was back to the pool with lots of picture taking along the way.
The ACE is extremely photographable.
Night swimming, and sunset, and tired kids falling into bed.
We had such a great day together.
It’s so nice to wake up to cuddles, knowing the only thing you have to do is head out to the pool to eat a breakfast that someone else is making for you, and will then clean up for you.
Eating crackers in bed before breakfast?
No problem!
Mommy doesn’t have to clean those sheets.
Hotel life is pretty blissful.
I wanted to stay until Aaron came home from Spain.ace-50ace-52
James and I enjoyed breakfast by the pool.
He’s my foodie, and I was happy to give him the chance to live it up for a couple of days.
“Isn’t it amazing to get to eat breakfast right by the pool Mom?  I can’t wait to come back here.”
He wanted eggs, toast, potatoes–the works.
The other kids just wanted croissants.
They didn’t want to get out of the pool.ace-53

The hipster vibe was in full force that morning.
I felt it.
There were mustaches galore.
Short shorts–on the guys.
And no other kids.
I didn’t mind that.
There is a lot of hipster stuff I like–put a bird on it!
But there I was, with my mom body, in my hideously unflattering, sagging in all the wrong places, bathing suit from last year, amongst a sea of firm, bikini clad bodies.
Did I feel uncomfortable?
I was running around, chasing Davy, splashing with them, playing tag in the pool, getting out for cold water to drink, putting on sunscreen, giving Shamu rides, and just being a mom.
I didn’t feel cool, or hipster, or very much at ease.
But they were having the time of their lives.
None of the things I was feeling mattered to them.
They were just having fun.
And they were happy to me playing with them instead of folding laundry.
So I remembered my vow, stopped thinking about myself, and had fun too.
After all, no one is ever thinking about you nearly as much as you are thinking about yourself, right?

If we never do anything that is new, or hard, scary, or uncomfortable, we’re going to miss out on a lot.
We’re going to miss out on adventure!

There was some crying in the back of the minivan when we pulled out of the parking lot.
No one wanted to go.
And everyone couldn’t wait to come back.
The ACE was beautiful, fun, the food is always top notch, and despite my own insecurities, everyone was super nice to us.
It was just the kind of grand adventure I had hoped it would be.
I will forever cherish the memories of our day and night together at the ACE–just me and my babies, braving the hipsters, and having a darn good time.

All the best,

PS.  How fun that the day I post about our trip to the ACE, I see this fabulous giveaway on Oh Happy Day.
Go here to find out about a chance to win a trip for 4 to Crafting Community at the ACE.
It sounds like something my kids would absolutely love.
They would have to share the pool this time though.
They might like it better when it’s just them and the hipsters.
No really, go check it out.
It sounds fun!