July 26, 2016
Near

Near

Jalama

A day away from the Santa Barbara beaches. A needed excursion out of the house... With two boys--one with an awesome playlist on his phone, the other so excited about an adventure that he packed beach umbrellas, coolers filled with drinks, boogie boards, and beach blankets all himself. Loaded up, we headed to Jalama, a state beach a little over an hour away.

We spent only the morning there, before it got too busy, when all the surfers were out in the water. We ate burgers at the grill, played soccer in the sand, threw a lot of rocks... We admired the huge globs of natural tar, and of course got some on our feet. Getting away, even just for a few hours, visiting a new place--it's one of the things I love about summer...

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 16, 2016
Near

Near

Figueroa Mountain

It's about an hour's drive from our home. Figueroa Mountain is one of our favorite day trips--especially when there is snow. We fill a thermos with hot chocolate, run around the house trying to locate snow proof clothing, grab the boogie board, and away we go. We'll even take the kids out of school to spend an afternoon there--snow is rare in these parts and worth ditching school for!

But this time of year, especially after a winter that included a wee bit of rain, the California poppies have seeded themselves all over the mountainsides. The wash of blooms is spectacular, and it's just silly to stay home and see pictures of it on the internet. If you don't live near me, find a Figueroa of your own and explore!

Happy adventuring, friends!

 

 

November 25, 2015
Near

Near

Disneyland

It's not often that one turns ten!

And even though I'm Disneyland Averse--because of too many trips there when I was little, plus it's so often hot in Anaheim, and I am completely lame when it comes to hot--we took our fella there on his tenth birthday. 

It was not hot. It was awesome!

Except Space Mountain was closed... :( 

We brought John Ronan's very best friend, who is the perfect kind of crazy; he's up for anything. 

We also stole Madeleine away from her classes at USC. 

I bet y'all have been to Disneyland a thousand more times than we have, which means, you're probably broke! Goodness, that place is expensive.

But worth it--for this...

 

 

July 31, 2015
Near

Near

The Beach :: Skipping Rocks

Do you remember when you learned to skip rocks, ride a bike, sprout a seed, or do a handstand? 

One of the gifts of having little ones around is getting to experience all these firsts again. 

The experience of course is not ours, it's one step removed, but still so very lovely...

...and I can't speak Finnish, but it's not too late to learn, is it?

May 17, 2015
Near

Near

Thankful for the Detour

When the road is closed

(and just look at that sign--it is REALLY closed) don't head home...  Find another path!

We recently drove over the mountains to hike to a nearby waterfall after a rain. Water is such a novelty in California right now, we wanted to celebrate this rare moment by visiting the  falls, but instead found the popular path closed. We almost hurdled the caution tape! (I confess to being way too adventurous at times.) Then, we complained, pouted, and almost drove away. But my husband and I caught each other in the complaints and started pointing out the beauty at hand. After swirling around in circles for a few minutes, examing the dry creek, and listening to the birds, a far better alternative appeared. A path we'd never seen, that led right up that mountain.

Spring was in full bloom--all around us. There was moss, and mushrooms, and dozens of wildflowers sprinkled alongside the trail. It was enchanting. 

It brought to mind the Thanksgiving Akathist. Have you heard it?

I'm so grateful for these moments I have of being with those I love, discovering tiny flowers I've never ever seen before, trekking along new trails, breathing in fresh air after a rain... This hymn of thanksgiving is powerful and beautiful, just like the land when it's bursting with life:

 Lord, how good it is to be Your guest: the delicately scented wind, the mountains stretching to the sky, the waters reflecting like infinite mirrors the golden rays of the sun, the airiness of clouds. All nature secretly whispers, full of tenderness, and even the birds and beasts bear the mark of Your love. Blessed is Mother Earth with her beauty which is transient, making one long for the homeland which is eternal and where in imperishable beauty, rings out: Alleluia.

Happy spring, dear friends. 

 

 

October 24, 2014
Near

Near

Nojoqui Falls

We pulled into the parking lot and three deer startled up the trail. The children screamed--shouting at best friends across the bus. Did you see, did you see?!

The same enthusiasm flew from the front seat to the back bench--and in and out of the windows--when we had passed through the tunnel just mintues before. 

Adventure! The enthusiasm of children. The discovery of new things. How they express their wonder so loudly, so plainly, with such contagion and excitement! I just love kids... 

Nojoqui Falls is about an hour from Santa Barbara. The Chumash Indians lived in and around this beautiful forested place, and you can sense stories from other times as you walk along the trails and smell the goodness of the wood and the green and the earth.

We spent the morning there, kicking up the dirt, examining the seeping water where the falls will spill over and create pools once it finally rains. Please, Lord. Let it rain...

And then there were the grey squirrels following us from above. And the coffee berry seeds in the scat. And the bay trees which smelled heavenly. The stalagmites being created in front of our eyes.

And the hollowed out trees, ripe for exploring.

If you don't have kids in your midst to adventure with, I recommend you ask around and find some! Borrow a child, and take him straight to nature and let him explore. Give him a stick. Let her throw rocks. Bring a thermos of hot chocolate to share. 

And good grief. Try not to freak out if a tarantula comes ambling across your path.

Try!

Above all, admire the beauty,

and breathe...