Posts Tagged ‘winter’

ladybug2I first heard about the ladybug hike in Oakland a couple of months ago and had it on my list of things to do this winter – basically during the colder months, all the ladybugs in the area gather to hibernate together in one place, and it’s a truly amazing sight!   And when I found myself with a Monday over winter break with no plans, I decided to take the girls out to see them.  We brought two friends, packed our lunch and headed out.  We followed the Stream Trail to where it meets Prince Trail, and it is really a beautiful walk, ladybugs or no.  The girls were running along the path, ooh-ing and aah-ing over the stream, the trees, and everything – you’d think they’d never been outside before!  Just when I was loosing hope that we’d see any ladybugs, we hit the Prince Trail junction and there they were.


On every stick, leaf, branch, fence post and sign you could see.  We ate our lunch and held some ladybugs and checked it out for 20 minutes or so before heading back.  All in all a really wonderful way to spend the first half of the day.

ladybug3 ladybug4If you’re interested in doing the hike, it’s located in the Redwood Regional Park in Oakland.  Follow the Stream Trail until it meets Prince Trail and there they are.  It’s about a 3 mile hike round trip when you start from the Skyline Gate Staging Area.  We brought a bob stroller in case any little legs got tired, and it took some effort to get back up the trail on the way back, but it can be done – a regular stoller will definitely NOT work since it is a dirt path (with some muddy patches).  Happily, all the older girls (ages 5-6) ended up walking the whole thing easily – the only one that needed a bit of a push on the way back was the 3 year old.  Happy exploring!

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Something I’ve discovered with some surprise is that, for a younger child, the appeal of putting beads onto a pipe cleaner Never. Gets. Old.  Whenever I am at my whits end and can’t think of anything for them to do to save my life, I break out the pipe cleaners and beads.  You can bend them into shapes (like the hearts below), use them to form letters and numbers, make bracelets, crowns… you name it, we’ve made it.


The beauty is that you can re-use all the supplies with a few un-twists of the pipe cleaners a few days later (they won’t miss them what with the HUNDREDS of pipe-cleaner bead thingies they’ve made) – it’s a self-replenishing craft!!  For valentine’s we got a little more crafty than usual and attached them to some leftover lollipop sticks I had from a party and voila!  Heart wands.


My 2 year old and 5 year old both enjoy doing this for what seems like hours, and the bonus is that it’s good for their little fine motor skills to put them on.  I get to cook dinner AND feel good about their little brain development – win, win!

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Even in California, it gets cold enough to stay indoors for a good portion of the winter.  Especially where we are near San Francisco, the wind can be bitterly cold some days.  I do the usual things to keep them entertained – bored games, coloring, painting, etc., and those work okay, but also get old day after day.  Now and then I stumble upon something that’s new and engaging enough to last quite a bit of time before the novelty wears off, the latest of which is sink bubbles.


Many of you may have already discovered this, but for us, it’s new and it’s GREAT!  It gives the girls the joy of a bubble bath, but without the full-on production of a bath, and as long as you throw a few towels on the floor, the clean-up is relatively simple.  We’ve been doing this daily for about a week and they are STILL begging to do it every afternoon.  A tiny bit of water and bubbles followed by some vigorous mixing and you barely even need to use any of each to get a sink full of bubbles (which means the ability to make large puddles on the floor is minimized).  Give them a couple of cups and they happily make bubble cappuccinos and lattes for a good 30 minutes (do I take them to Starbucks too much?).


I’m going to milk this one for all it’s worth – if your kids can be trusted not to make too much of a mess, definitely give this one a go!

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