Through The Darkness We Will Rise, Benefit for Japanese Tsunami Relief
One of the the things I love about this big old crazy world is how very small it is. Through the years, I have had the privilege of learning about the culture and people of Japan from friends and former students. When I was a camper at YMCA World Camp, two Japanese exchange students spent time in our home. Their warmth and good humor were infectious. I dreamt of visiting their beautiful country and was disappointed when I didn’t win a Rotary Club scholarship to make my dream come true.
Later I had the privilege of teaching ESL to several groups of Japanese girls. They were a teacher’s dream: organized and eager to learn. In our classroom exchanges they learned about US culture and I caught a glimpse of their culture. They joyfully shared a Japanese popular song at their goodbye luncheon. That memory remains a treasured part of my teaching memories.
My dear friend Naomi Shirashi Cooper is helping to organize a benefit this Saturday to benefit the US Japan Council, a non profit organization which is raising money to support NGO’s and the Japanese Red Cross who are assisting tsunami victims in Japan. Naomi is from Japan and still has family there. Luckily her family does not live in the affected area, but after the tsunami she had friends who were seeking out family members who lived in the areas that were hit.
I admire Naomi’s dedication to the country of her birth and want to support her in any way I can. Please leave the kids home with Dad and join me for a Mom’s Night Out of great music and shopping in support of Japan. 100% of the proceeds will go to Japanese relief. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Doors open at 4:30. The show starts at 6:30. No outside food is allowed, but the concession stands will be open so bring some cash for dinner. The show itself will be broadcast in Japan. Let’s hope it brings some comfort to those who watch it.
Visit the Through the Darkness We Will Rise! website to find out more about this outstanding event. Invite a friend or two or twenty to join you for this Mom’s Night Out for a great cause.
Only in San Diego can a January birthday be celebrated with a trip to the beach! On this sunny Carlsbad day Jared and Destiny joined me for an outing to South Carlsbad State Beach. The kids braved the frigid water in their swim suits. I preferred to wade in rolled up jeans. Here are a few highlights of our beach adventure:
Watching the Waves
Rock Collecting (A few of our favorites came home with us)
Time to Go Home, South Carlsbad State Beach
I often forget how little I need to pack for a trip to the beach. Here is what we brought.
Don't forget the water bottles to wash off sandy feet!
I should have left the chairs at home. With no lifeguards on duty and two active kids, I didn’t get time to sit and read my book. We survived a small tantrum from Jared when he found out he had to leave his baby clam at the beach. ”But he’s an orphan, Mama! ” Jared cried piteously. Still, I wouldn’t have traded a moment of my beach birthday adventure.
The Smith Family said goodbye to 2010 on Friday night with a good old fashioned New Year’s Eve party at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Then Justin, age 11 and I rang in the New Year with party poppers at midnight. (Everyone else in the house refused to wake up for the celebration).
Yummy eats, New Years 2011
Our little party reminded me of the importance of family traditions. The foods we ate were the same that my parents and I shared with neighbors over thirty years ago. The funny party hats reminded me of past holiday parties with my own grandparents. The confetti poppers were Justin’s idea, perhaps the start of a new traditon.
Princess Destiny in her New Year's Tiara
My dad, John Gillin takes holiday traditions seriously. From See’s Irish potatoes to chocolate Easter bunnies, we always celebrate holidays with joy and lots of chocolate. He has baked special cookies almost every Christmas and made home made peach ice cream at the Fourth of July. Dad has a card for every occasion, Easter, St. Patrick’s day…you name it!
The Life of the Party, New Years Eve 2011
Now it’s my turn to keep those traditions alive. This year I made the New Year’s Eve clam dip and found the funny party hats. Next year, I will tackle my grandma Lue’s black walnut cookies and mint chocolate chip kiss tortes.
I love you Dad. Thanks for inspiring me with your family traditions. I promise to keep them alive, and even create some of my own!
Destiny and Jared, Snake Charmers, Carlsbad Public Library
Carlsbad, California is a a community that takes the arts and libraries very seriously. I’m proud to live in Carlsbad and try to take advantage of their free kids educational activities whenever I can. Frankly, there are so many that that would be impossible for our busy family. (Especially thanks to the giant homework load assigned K-12 by the Carlsbad City Schools, thanks so much y’all).
World of Adonna Khare Exhibit, William D. Cannon Gallery, Carlsbad California
Once a month the Carlsbad Cultural Arts Office puts on a Family Art Day in association with an exhibit presented at the William D Cannon Art Gallery. Twice a year they do a “plus” Family Art Day which is even more spectacular than their usual events. This month the gallery is hosting a very kid friendly exhibit The World of Adonna Khare: Beasts, Backpacks and Curious Creatures filled with whimsical pictures of wild animals.
Destiny consults with Adonna Khare
Being a kid with roots in liberal Santa Cruz , Destiny was fascinated by the Lion’s nose ring and had to consult with Adonna Khare herself about the source of her inspiration. The ability to talk with a real artist had a big impression on Destiny as she sees herself as an artist as well.
Jared at Work, Family Open Studios Dove Library Carlsbad, California
The highlight of Jared’s visit was the chance to create a beautiful hummingbird using water colors and oil pastels. It was amazing to see how Jared’s skills have evolved from scribbles to representational art within just a few months. I love how the Family Open Studios program helps kids to see themselves as serious artists. All the volunteers are so patient and respectful. They really bring out the best in their young visitors.
Pacific Animal Productions Keeper Karla Majewski shares a Wallaby
The other amazing part of our visit was the Pacific Animal Productions animal show. If you are planning a birthday party in Southern California and have money to spend (an only child perhaps?) consider this company. Their show was amazing! Destiny and Jared even got to assist with displaying a giant python. Keeper Karla was unfazed by toddlers trying to rush the stage and my little guys concerns about the python. They also provided an awesome petting zoo for the even that included a pig as well as soft bunnies and guinea pigs. My kids were entranced!
If you live in the San Diego Area do yourself a favor and visit the kids events section of the Carlsbad Public Library website frequently. Last week author James Guerney of Dinotopia fame visited the library. I try to post these wonderful events when I can, but when I get swamped you miss out.
P.S. Family Adventure Guidebooks Participates in Trekaroo’s Spotlight Thursdays. Stop by the Talking Trekaroo Blog to see what other families have been up to.
OK, I admit it, this travel blogger will not be traveling during spring break this year. We had considered a vacation, but have a lot going on right now and decided that it would be wiser to stay close to home. My kids are actually quite happy about the prospect. We will attend an annual Easter Egg hunt tommorrow morning and enjoy a quiet Easter luncheon with the Grandparents and some neighbors on Sunday.
We will be spending our spring break being tourists in our own home town. Since I am starting a new guidebook there will be trips to the San Diego Zoo to check out the polar bears and to the Wild Animal Park to visit with the butterflies. I’m hoping for hike at Elfin Forest to or Mission Hills to see if the wildflowers are still out. We might head North to ride in the big orange balloon in Irvine.
I’m a little disappointed that there won’t be a hotel stay and new places to explore in our near future, but on the other hand:
Everyone sleeps in their own bed
DH and I can spend private evenings alone instead of sharing a room with three kids.
No waiting for food in restaurants.
We still have a great (albeit cold) pool to swim in.
Hope your spring break Adventures are just as fun.
Just dropped off our “Will Play for Food” donation with the little ones this morning and was reminded how service to others can offer rich opportunities for family adventure. Destiny and Jared were so proud to bring their cans into the the soup kitchen. The Brother Benno staff was amazing. They were very patient as we unloaded our car and personally thanked my little ones before they left. Jared decided to make this errand decked out as a cowboy, so that drew lots of smiles.
Growing up our family didn’t take many opportunities to exercise, but many years starting when I was in middle school we would participate in the Human Race Walk which was a fundraiser for the United Way and local agencies. I remember one year, the walk traveled from the top of Mount Tamalpais in Mill Valley down to it’s base. We got lost, which made it even more of an adventure. I’ll never forget hiking among the redwood trees with my parents and how sore my calves were at the end of that hike. I felt so empowered to choose the charity that would receive the money that I had raised.
Back in the good old days when I only had one kid to wrangle, Justin would accompany us to serve the Handicapables lunch to disabled people in Marin. There is something magical about a small child volunteering. It brings joy to everyone around him or her. Justin brightened alot of faces even though all he did was set some tables.
With three, we do less hands on volunteering, but we still find opportunities for service and family fun. Scouting provides opportunities to clean up the beach and organize cans for an annual food drive. Even though it would be easier to leave the preschoolers at home, we bring them. Their attention span is shorter than our nine year old, but while they have the energy they make an enthusiastic contribution. In addition to “Will Play for Food” our family organized an emergency food drive for a food pantry by soliciting contributions from the other preschool families. We netted a great assortment of non persihable food and my kids loved delivering it.
Finally, in order to reduce our family carbon footprint, we walk to school to pick up big brother once a week. Destiny calls it “saving the world”. Now when she sees other families walking to school she says, “Look mom, they’re saving the world.” Mostly I drive the morning carpool, and I do not have the organizational capabilities to get everyone out the door early enough in the morning to walk. Still, I’m going to be on the look out for other walking opportunities. I find that it has many other benefits: the dog gets walked, my nine year old has a lot to talk about, and the little guys get a lesson in patience as well as some exercise.
What are some service projects that your family does to “save the world”?
A few weeks ago I was mourning my lack of mommy friends. As many of you know, I relocated to Carlsbad from Santa Cruz about three years ago. Having raised my kids in the same place for many years, I had developed a wonderful group of Mommy friends nurtured through playgroups and preschool play dates. Here in Carlsbad life goes at a pretty fast pace. Everyone has big families and lots of activities. It’s hard to find time to nurture those deep lasting friendships that I crave. I remembered reading about something called “Will Play for Food” in a blog recently. I couldn’t even remember which blog, but I made my way to the website, checked it out and decided to see if I could make some mommy friends and feed the world at the same time.
The concept is easy, invite friends and strangers to show up at a park at the same time, bring some cans, have the kids play, and donate the cans to the local food bank. Destiny and Jared helped me make a colorful sign on my white board. I posted a note up at my preschool, on my neighborhood moms Google group, on Twitter and on Facebook.
The turnout for this project, was not great…three families. Still, everyone brought several items so Bro Bennos will definately benefit from my efforts. I got my wish and had the chance to meet two amazing new moms, and spend more time with my neighbor Vonya who is definately in the running for quality mommy friend.
Will Play for Food was founded by a mom named Jessica Kate. It’s a great idea, moms all around the country setting up these informal playgroups/food drives. Jessica’s family has recently experienced a great tragedy. Her daughter Tuesday recently passed away after a battle with neuroblastoma. Jessica has a number of really great mommy blogger friends including Tonya who blogs about her life as military wife as well as mom to twin toddlers and a teenager at www.thestaabfamily.blogspot.com and Sharlene who blogs about adventures with her twins at www.doubletheadventure.com. Both were excited about Will Play for Food. Sharlene was unable to make it due to an appointment, but Tonya drove all the way from Pacific Beach at 9am on the day she was having a “Moms Day Off” to drop off some food, take a picture for her blog, and just say hi! Amazing!
Later my two neighbors showed up and all the kids had a great time playing. It was so nice to meet Dana who was mom to a five year old boy and potential playmate for my four year old. As always it was wonderful to spend time with Vonya. Destiny and Jared were enchanted by the whole process; making the sign, packing the food, taking it to the park, enjoying a snack with friends. Tommorrow we will head up the coast to Oceanside and deliver the food to Brother Bennos an all volunteer organization that runs a soup kitchen, distributes emergency food boxes, and runs several recovery homes. I’ll throw in a some bags of clothes and a no longer used infant seat, and Brother Bennos will have a nice donation.
So dear readers, I issue this challenge to you in honor of Tuesday and also my friend Deana who is a mom of two preschoolers and in a Texas ICU fighting cancer, organize a Will Play for Food drive among your neighbors and friends. If you have school age kids meet at the park after school. If you have preschoolers have a morning park date. Just get a few friends together, gather some cans, and donate to your local foodbank. Let’s relish this chance to spend time with our children doing something to make the world better. Lots of families are struggling right now. We are all preoccupied with just staying afloat. In the midst of all this suffering let’s throw those around us a life preserver.
My little ones are very jealous! Big Brother and Daddy are going camping with the Cub Scous this weekend. This is a favorite activity for the little ones. Adding to the challenge, the big boys are taking our only car. (Our old commuter car died and we are saving up for Dad’s dream vehicle…a used SUV.)
What’s a family travel guru to do? Here’s a list of adventures we may have this weekend to keep us all in good spirits until Daddy gets home. Hopefully if I do one or two they will go to bed early and sleep all night!
1) Take the dog for a walk on a local wooded hiking trail.
2) Dust off the jogging stroller and walk to nearby BatiquitosLagoon-the kids can walk the trail when we get there.
3) Swim in our pool. (Sure it’s November but this is Southern California…it’s still in the 70′s and 80′s)
4) Walk to a local park.
5) Break out the Sidewalk Chalk.
6) Dig out those frozen yogurt coupons and walk to the yogurt store for a treat.
7) Little Kids movie night with lots of popcorn.
8) Practice our tricycle skills at the little rock garden by our house.
9) Set up our own tent in the back yard.
10) If I wasn’t on a budget, I would bum a ride to the train station and hop a Coaster Train to Old Town and have a picnic.
If you are planning to visit the Legoland theme park in Carlsbad, California, this book contains all the information you need to make the most of your family adventure. The book also includes information about other area attractions, local restaurants and hotels.
Bridget Smith, mom of three, loves to blog about everyday adventures. Her mission is to change the world; one kid, one destination, one effortless trip, one overworked mom, one frazzled dad... one day at a time! Come and join her.