Monday, December 7, 2009

Candy and Carrots

One of the joys of the Christmas season for Josie and Lucy is... double desserts. I got them an advent calendar from Trader Joe's that has a small piece of chocolate with some Christmas image on it behind every door. So every night the girls get to open a door, split a piece of chocolate, and have their regular dessert (if they ate a good dinner). Lucy is pleased as punch at this arrangement. I don't know how she will ever go back to single dessert again.

Lucy is holding up her lolly pop which on this night was her "regular" dessert (in addition to the advent calendar chocolate). Note that in this picture Jo Jo is holding up her carrot which she is very pleased about. She just recently started eating carrots. I say, hey, whatever makes you happy as long as you're not hurting anyone. Happy Holidays!

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells

Mitch is forming his new rock band but all of the participants aren't sure whether they want to be in the band. Everyone was a fan of Mitch's rockin' rendition of Jingle Bells, however. The silver guitar may not be as pretty as the blue sparkly guitar to the untrained eye, but it is Mitch's current favorite. Say hello to the G and L ASAT.

Bed Time

This is what I found a couple of nights ago when I went to get in our bed. The dolls are better than the truck loads of sand that we frequently find between our sheets that has fallen out of the girls pants cuffs. When your house is only 900 square feet and it is dark and raining, it is hard to make any of the house that is safe for playing, "off limits". Thus we often find trucks, dolls, sand, and fake food in between our sheets.

Avocado and Khaki

After a month of replacing the fascia boards and two months of debating paint colors, we finally had a contract crew here for a week painting our house. When it was all said and done, a miracle occurred and all of the residents of 613/619 were pleased with the result. Lucy was a particularly difficult audience since she wanted the house painted rainbow colors. It really does look sharp. Now we just have to get the front yard in shape, finish the little house, and get the back yard fixed up... But not until after Christmas.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Offset This Baby!

I'm trying to figure out the best way to calculate the carbon offset values for all the plants we plant every year at our park. We typically plant between 10,000 and 15,000 coastal sage scrub plants (California sagebrush, purple sage, buckwheat, etc.) into degraded annual grassland. Our average acreage per year is pretty small, between 2 and 3 acres I would estimate. The park service is climate change obsessed these days and one of its obsessions is getting all its parks to be climate friendly (I say, "Howdy climate! How you doin?"). One of the goals of climate friendliness is to get to zero net carbon gain per park by some absurd year like 2016 (right around the corner people, right around the corner...).

So I thought I would try to do my part by coming up with some back of the envelope calculation for the carbon sequestration value of all of these lovely little plants that I plant each year. The complicated part is that it turns out that it is pretty darn tricky and somewhat controversial to calculate these types of values. Since people are going to pay for carbon offsets in many areas of the world (including ours) scientists and policy makers want these carbon sequestration estimates to be rigorous and not just b.s. Which is all fine and good except that all of the fully developed models are based on TREES (How many times do I have to tell you people that I don't live in a forest, SHRUBLAND I tell you, SHRUBLAND).

So anyway, I'm going to sit in my office for a few hours over the next couple of weeks and try to figure this all out or at least take a good stab at it without actually going into the field with a gas exchange analyzer. Wish me luck, and if you have any genius ideas (Sarah Otterstrom, I know you do this kind of thing for a living...), let me know. Right now what I have is some published dry weight data for coastal sage scrub and annual grasslands, some published soil respiration rates for coastal sage scrub and annual grassland, and a bunch of data on number of plants of what type that I have planted. I could also actually measure plants of different ages in the field since I know when I planted all my plants.

I know this is really exciting for all you non-scientists out there but I just had to share.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Unexpected Snow Storm

Despite a zero percent chance of precipitation in Big Bear Lake this weekend, this morning we woke up to four inches of snow. It has been snowing off and on all day. We were pretty unprepared for snow and had to go out and buy chains. We've improvised with the old plastic bags in your shoes for the girls for snow wear. It has been very old school... We've had two great sledding, snowball fight, snowman sessions in the back yard and one walk through the snowy neighborhood. I managed to fall on my butt and konk my head on the concrete. Despite that, it has been great to play in the snow. We're looking forward to more snow in December at Grandpa Jim's and Grandma Jo's and even more snow in Mammoth in March.

Friday, November 27, 2009


We're spending Thanksgiving break with a group of our friends from graduate school. They have been spending Thanksgiving together for about 16 years and we have been joining in for the past seven years. We always rent a house somewhere in California, usually in the mountains or at the beach. This year we're in Big Bear Lake. It is nice to be up in the trees. Yesterday we went to Moonridge Zoo and saw some neat animals like Fishers, brown bears, a snow leopard, and others. It is a sort of wildlife rescue facility. One of the coolest things that happened while we were there. A fire engine drove by and and all of a sudden the whole wolf pack (two adult females, one adult males, and six young wolves) started howling. They kept howling for about fifteen minutes and it was the most amazing sound to hear and even to see the wolves putting their heads up high and howling. I could close my eyes and imagine that I was in the middle of some dark spruce woods in Canada somewhere in a small cabin at night listening to wolves outside. It was definitely a highlight of Thanksgiving 2009.

Here are some other highlights of Being Thankful 2009:
- the great bug hunt of 2009 (Rob's invention of an easter egg type hunt for rubber bugs)
- talking health care with the peeps
- delicious food as usual including fabulous spice cake
- the kids playing money with poker chips
- the girls learning the underarm slide at the park
- seeing our friends!!!
- Disneyland as always plus Rob, Becca, Ava, and Max (B referred to Disneyland as the seventh circle of h*ll).

And we still have two days together left!

By the way, here are some things I am thankful for:

- good friends, especially ones that I have known for more than ten years- longevity counts!
- healthy families
- fun kids, even when they are grumpy
- wild animals
- wild plants
- knitted hats
- fleece
- good wine and gin drinks

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Relaxing Weekend

After my busy trip to Seattle, it is nice to have a relaxing weekend at home. On Friday we took the girls to Arroyo Verde park to play on their three different playgrounds. On Saturday we took the girls to Storyfest, our local reading festival. And today we'll go to the swimming pool and maybe squeeze in a trip to the grocery store. It may not sound like much but when you pencil in breakfast, getting dressed, twenty UN negotiations over toys, snacks, changing diapers, doing laundry, naps, lunch time, a two hour search for a missing Ariel doll, and some other day to day activities, it adds up.

We had a scare this weekend with Little Jimmy making a trip to the emergency room. But after surgery to correct a bizarre structural anomaly of the intestine that 2% of the population has, he is now recovering well and will be fine. I don't envy Barbara, Judy, and Jerry the next two months though as they hang out with Little Jimmy during his no exercise period... I think of Little Jimmy as someone who maintains his strong grip on reality and overall good humor through regular doses of nature and exercise via bike riding. Good luck Barbara Jo, Judy, and Jerry - we'll be thinking of you (and you too of course Little Jimmy)!

Why Don't You Just Color Yourself Then?

Here's a recent pic. of JoJo emulating her favorite Lightning McQueen face (when Lightning jumps the cars in during the race).

Mitch and Josie were coloring together in a coloring book while they waited at UCLA for Josie's test last week. Josie was showing some pictures to Mitch. Mitch noticed that one of the pictures was of a frog holding a crayon in each hand. So Mitch says something along the lines of,

"Hey Josie, look at this one. The frog has crayons."

And Josie replies,

"Oh! Then he can color himself!"

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

J.B. Kidney update

Mitch took Josie to the urologist today all by himself. She had her second voiding cystourethrogram. A painful procedure that she didn't like but that they were able to do without sedation. It turns out that she still has some reflux from her bladder back to her kidney on her bad side (I can't remember whether it is the right or the left). Before her surgery her reflux was classified as grade IV and now it is classified as grade I or grade 1.5 so that is a significant improvement. The urologist recommended that we finally take her off antibiotics but he also suggested that she will likely get some more kidney infections. He said the reflux may resolve itself as she gets older or she may have to have another surgery. He suggested waiting 2 years to see what happens. Now the priorities are to get her potty trained and get her to pee more often. Apparently she holds in her pee even when her bladder is full which puts a lot of extra pressure on the bladder and may be the cause of her reflux at this point.

So that's what we know for now. Not the 100% cure that we were hoping for but still a significant improvement.


Today I am in Seattle for possibly the final face to face meeting of the Pacific West Region Science Strategy Working Group. I think the rest of the group is pretty tired of these meetings and possibly of the whole project in general, but I have to admit that I love these meetings. It isn't every day that I get to hang out with the luminaries of science in the National Park Service and argue over what the future of science in the Pacific West Region of the NPS should look like. I'm really grateful to Ray (our former division chief and now PWR regional chief of natural resources) and Angie (Great Basin and CA CESU coordinator and my supervisor for my CESU detail) for getting me involved in this project. It has been so fun. Don't tell anyone that I said that though, it is definitely not cool to think that these meetings are fun...

It helps that the meetings are always in either Oakland or Seattle. When they are in Oakland, we drive up with the whole family and Mitch and the girls go to Fairytale Land or the California Academy of Sciences. We eat yummy indian and thai food at good restaurants that are in downtown Oakland (this is when I'm not at the meeting by myself with Ray while downtown Oakland riots in response to a BART shooting...). When the meetings are in Seattle I get to stay in swanky hotels in downtown Seattle and drink lots of coffee.

This trip I was finally able to meet up with my brother and one of my closest friend's from college, John, and John's new wife Nina. Usually I'm too busy working and too last minute to actually meet up with anyone. But this trip I got here early enough that we all went out to dinner. It was great to see all of three of them.

I get to go home late tomorrow night so that I can have my full three day weekend with the family. There is even a rumor that Seth and Mitch might actually get some of the drywall done in the little house.

Long Time No Blog - Catching Up

This is not my child since I didn't take any pictures of the girls at the museum but they spent 45 minutes or more playing in this "stream" at the Bay Area Discovery Museum in S.F.

It's been a while since I've had the motivation to write anything for the blog. We have been busy getting our house ready to be painted and doing some traveling. Then on top of that, several colds, some books that were just too good to put down, and now a new-ish t.v. show that I am addicted to.

So here is a wrap-up of the haps:

1. The house. Mitch, Elise and Seth took off all of our fascia boards (termite damage) and replaced some portion of the roof. The boards have now all been replaced and we've almost settled on a color scheme for the new paint job. I think painting may start next week. We are leaning towards a sage green for the wood with a tan or grey for the stucco and a dark purple for the fascia and some of the trim.

2. The travel. I went to a conference in Visalia. Pretty darn fun (Cal-IPC, the most fun people ever) except that I had a heinous cold the whole time. A big thanks to Irina for making me buy over the counter pharmaceuticals. Then two weekends ago we went to San Francisco for the weekend to visit with my dad and Sue who were taking a mini-vacation in S.F. We had a great time at the Bay Area Discovery Museum and the Aquarium and some other kid-friendly activities. The girls loved seeing Grandpa Tom and Grandma Sue.

3. The good books. I read Into the Woods on the recommendation of Seth and Elise. It was impossible to put down. Good and spooky! Now I'm reading How Dogs Think which is interesting but less of a page-turner (thus time for the blog). I also read Nurture Shock. Stupid title, fascinating book. All parents should read it. Lots of neat summaries of recent research on child development and learning. Lots of counter-intuitive stuff.

4. The t.v. show. I hate to admit it, but I love Friday Night Lights. How can this be? I hate football (yes Dad, hate). I grew up in a football crazed small town with a football crazed college and a football loving dad and brother. It is boring and violent. But Friday Night Lights is a great show. Really well-acted, compelling stories, interesting relationships. We're watching it via netflix online which means that we can watch several episodes an evening. It wins out over the blog every time (I'm out of town tonight. Thus the blog).

5. Halloween. The girls were both princesses. Lucy dressed up like Princess Aurora and Josie was a Halloween princess in an orange dress covered in spiders (thank you Grandma Jo). They loved it. Josie doesn't understand why we can't go trick or treating every night.

That about catches you up on the happenings around 613 empire.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pretty good weekend, considering

Ray's going away party was held at King Gillette Ranch (yes, the razor guy). A spectacular setting for a hell of a party.

Considering the fact that Josie is sick with a cold and maybe also a kidney infection and woke us up at least every two hours every night this weekend. And considering that Mitch and Seth and Elise continued to work on the house on Saturday and Sunday. And considering that today was too damn windy (Tiffany, can I hear an "amen"). Considering all that, it was still a pretty darn good weekend. Mitch and I took the girls to the zoo on Friday and then went to Ray's going away party. Ray's party was amazing. He has accomplished so much in his 8 million years (it's really something like 16 or 14 or 12) at the park and he has built an incredible number of friendships and strong professional relationships over that time. The turn out for his party was crazy with about 12 different land management agencies represented, at least two different universities, local politicians, etc. The setting was great too - outside at King Gillette Ranch. There were tons of kids there and the weather was great so Lucy and Josie had a blast running all over the inside and outside for two hours. Despite Lena's hard work with the caterers, BBQ still totally SUCKS for vegetarians - the lettuce wraps were carrots and iceberg lettuce - where is the protein for the love beef/pig/chicken???

Saturday I wrangled the girls while cleaning the house and then took them to the park, naps, and thrift stores. Sunday we all went to the swimming pool and then Mitch and Seth and Elise started up on the house again while the girls and I went to the mall to play. Not too shabby overall.

Hopefully Josie will feel better soon so we can all get some sleep.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Going to my happy place

This week has been tough. I have suffered some disappointments, worry has been knocking on my door, my body is betraying me on the dental front, and Josie has been keeping us up nights with a 102 fever. As I was driving home from work tonight, feeling depressed and sorry for myself, I was suddenly reminded of some happier moments. So I took a short mental stroll to some of my happy places. Here, for your enjoyment, are three of my happy places from some different times in my life.

Childhood: Sunday's at the vertebrate zoology museum
On the WSU campus they used to have (and maybe still do) an amazing old school museum of vertebrate zoology. It was used by undergraduate zoology and biology students to learn about animals. It was an amazing, wonderful, and mysterious place full of fish and amphibians in jars, butterflies, bird feathers, insects - all lined up on shelf and after shelf in case after case. But the best part were the stuffed vertebrate specimens - some just arrayed in cases, others in life-like poses, and still others in actual dioramas. When I was in late elementary school and middle school my best friend Mara Duncan and I would often walk from our houses the few blocks up to the tree-lined campus. Then on a hot summer day, there was nothing better than to enter the old brick building and go down into the lower floor and the basement where the museum was housed. It was always open and there were often no other humans in the place. Our imaginations really ran wild and we were so intrigued and inspired by all the animals we saw in that place. We would spend several hours walking from case to case, reading and speculating about these strange animals and what they were like alive. We spent lots of time choosing which animal would be the best to have as a pet or imagining which one was our secret imaginary friend. It may sound nutty but it was magical to be unsupervised in a place so rich with so many of the biological mysteries of the life and the world. Needless to say, both Mara and I went on to become biologists, Mara a molecular biologist and me a plant ecologist. It was pretty nice in there. I would go back any time, especially if it was like the old days and I could run through the halls unfettered, yelling and looking, and talking and imagining.

College: friends, music, carpeting.
Sometimes during my undergrad days I would get overwhelmed by some crappy day to day happening - overwhelmed by homework, too much rain, some crappy interpersonal interaction. And in those days there were two things guaranteed to make me feel better: walking from my house down the big hill to downtown Olympia for a salmon burger, fries, and a shake, then a movie with my friends Sarah and John OR laying on the carpet in our small apartment, eyes closed, face burrowed into the short nap of our all purpose carpeting, listening to some music that was commiserating with me (maybe Chris Whitley, maybe John Prine, maybe Tracy Chapman, who knows), while my friends Sarah and John either laid on the floor with me or puttered around the apartment. There was something so comforting and grounding about laying on the floor and just letting myself do absolutely nothing except listen to the music. I wouldn't dwell, I wouldn't obsess, I would just lay there and let my mind go blank as I listened to the music. Maybe not true happiness but certainly a lot of comfort was to be found in the carpet/music combo.

Graduate School: a relaxing walk-off after an interesting but totally do-able multi-pitch climb.
The rock is granite, gray with crystals of quartz or some other mineral. The face is a ways from the car but not too far, maybe a twenty to forty minute walk (picture Lovers Leap or some formations at Donner summit). I am with friends, maybe Mitch and Anthony, or Tiffany or Vicki. Probably Mitch and maybe one other person. The walk to the face is enjoyable (although Mitch always walks a little bit fast, forcing me to hurry), through trees with boulders and shrubbery. But that isn't the happy moment. For me, the happy moment isn't even typically on the climb (although the climb is for sure fun in parts and full of exhilaration). On the climb the feeling is concentration, some anxiety, a lovely feeling of intensely paying attention. The feeling of happiness is at the top, enjoying the view, feeling like I am at home in my body, like I am a competent person who looked for a way into and up the rock and found it. The happy moment is being outside, in the sun, in an interesting place, with people I like, having done something interesting. The air is cool, the sun feels warm, I am secure on the top, not perched on some ledge or in a hanging belay. It smells of pine trees or mountain misery. And the walk back to the car is a nice hike through the woods.

I may not be in any of those places right now but I once was and some day, I will be again.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tapestry Woven Out of Spider Silk - Insane!

My friend Anna Hosick posted about this NPR story on facebook. I didn't hear the story but read about it on-line. This is an insane story that I don't fully understand. But somehow over 4 years these guys orchestrated this project in Madagascar to harvest spider silk from wild spiders without hurting them and then weave this amazing golden tapestry. It is gonzo. These are big spiders that bite. No way, no how. Check it out. It cost these guys $500,000 of their own money. Who are they? why did they do it? If you know, tell me.

Here is the link to the story

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Another Day Another Jog

This is a photo of the portion of the trail I have been jogging on. The Strait of Juan de Fuca is to the left of the photo. One last run here tomorrow morning before I head to the airport.

This is the Olympic Discovery Trail and gives the feeling of where I've been jogging the past couple of days although I did not run along this exact stretch, nor does this show the superfund site.

After finishing up our weed awareness workshop and a quick drive up to Hurricane Ridge, I went for another jog today on the lovely seaside jogging trail just outside the Red Lion in Port Angeles, WA. This wonderfully flat trail runs for seventeen miles between PA and Sequim. Of course I only jogged about 1.25 miles away from the hotel and 1.25 miles back but they were lovely. It was another unusually sunny day here, although I did learn that PA is actually in the rainshadow of the Olympics and only gets about 20 inches of rain a year which is pretty similar to Davis (19 inches) and Los Angeles (15 inches). Apparently there are, however, a lot of cloudy days here.

My most alarming discovery of the day: the barren area that I jogged past that looks like a superfund site, is, in fact a state run superfund site - an old Rayonier pulp mill. And not only that, but the site is a state historic site because it used to be the site of an old Clallam village. That's great, from Native American village to superfund site, now that's what I call progress.

Tomorrow we leave the land of too many trees (yes, I love the Pacific Northwest, but all those trees do make a person feel a bit hemmed in) and fly in the metal beast back to LAX --> electric vehicle ----> congested route 405 ----> Thousand Oaks/Ford Focus ----> HOME!A close up of the superfund site, the area where fuel tank #2 was. Lots of nasties here, furan, arsenic, lead, fuel oils...

An aerial of the superfund site. The mill wasn't closed until 1997. Rayonnier claimed it was safe until the end... not so much it turns out.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

On the Olympic Peninsula

Today I drove to LAX in the park's electric RAV 4 and then flew to Seattle. From Seattle I drove a rental car through Tacoma and up to the Olympic Peninsula. I'm only here for a day and a half to give a workshop at Olympic National Park with my compatriot Jennifer Gibson. We'll be talking with park staff about how they can change their daily practices in order to prevent spreading weeds within the park. This will be the third of these workshops that I have presented. They are fun, interesting, and exhausting!

It is strange to be on the Olympic Peninsula again when I haven't been here in over ten years. I think the last time I was out here was in 1993 when I worked for the University of Washington as a summer field tech in Forks, WA. It is a bummer to come all this way and not get to spend any real time in the park or on the beautiful beaches of the Peninsula. I probably won't even have time to have lunch with my brother in Seattle or see friends in Seattle. This is going to be a very quick trip.

It is nice to at least see the Peninsula again. It is still beautiful with all the trees and the ocean and the mountains. It does seem quite economically depressed though and random strangers in the empty Indian restaurant that we ate at and in the grocery store commented to us on how hard things are around here right now.

It is always odd to travel without Mitch and the girls. While the odd adult freedoms are nice (yay - Indian food, yay running on the beach) and it is certainly easier to fly and travel without the little people, being away from them leaves me feeling anchorless. Very strange.

Well I should get to bed. It is a big day tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Celebrating JB's Birthday

Josie on her first birthday eating her first ever cupcake.

Josie one year later on her second birthday, enjoying her cupcake.

Did I mention that she liked her cupcake?

Cupcake number two of the birthday, at her park party.

Mmm, cupcakes!

She really loves one present at a time. Seen here carrying around her new doll while surrounded by her admiring friends.

Serenading baby Luca with her new harmonica.

Sharing her new coloring book and animal crayons with Lucy and Lara.

We celebrated Josie Bean's birthday twice last week. On Wednesday we celebrated her actual birthday by eating cupcakes that Lucy and I made and letting her open all of her family presents. She loved all of her birthday gifts. I think she would have been happy with just one present although Lucy loved "helping" to open all the gifts. Lucy also loved her big sister presents and spent the whole night lugging around her princess purse and singing into her Ariel microphone.

On Friday we had a great low key birthday party at our neighborhood park. We invited all of the little people friends and held the party at the time that everyone typically goes to the park anyway. We brought along another batch of cupcakes, plus fruit and cheese, pretzels and popcorn, plus the requisite juice boxes. A great time was had by all.

I've posted a few photos of the event so you can see the highlights. I can't believe she is two years old already! What will she look like and be like by age 3?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Crazy Sarah in Italia

One of my best friends from undergrad, Sarah Cree, fell in love with Italy during her Art history doctoral research at Yale and has up and moved there. Sarah is now living a sort of original farmer european type lifestyle in the hills of Italy. I now know two phds who moved to Italy for love and now do nutty things like harvest their own olive oil and hunt for truffles. I have several close friends who are very into the local food movement (Tiff and Allie to name two) and I thought they might want to check out Sarah's current set-up. I'm not sure exactly what Sarah is up to since she doesn't post very often and never e-mails directly, but there are BEAUTIFUL photos of all of the amazing produce she is picking and cooking in Italy.

Check it out here

I also added her blog to my blog roll so we can all check up on her periodically. Maybe one day she will answer questions like, is she still doing art history research? Is she in Italy for good? And do they have chickens (if so I want to see pictures).

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Labor Day Weekend Full of Labor

In this picture you can see some of the work that Tom and Mitch did this weekend - check out that beautiful woodwork on the front of the little house.

And in this picture you can see what handsome devils Allie and Tom are.

We had a great labor day weekend. Our friends Allie and Tom came north from San Diego for the weekend and were our first guests to grace the little house! Tom came up expressly to help Mitch continue working on the little house and he arrived with two bags full of tools. I was super glad to have Allie's company and spending the time with her transformed the weekend from another one of singlemomdom into a fun adventure.

The heat finally broke on Saturday which luckily coincided with Allie and Tom's arrival on the train. On Friday I set up the wading pool on the deck for the girls and they had a great time playing naked slip and slide on the deck and splashing water everywhere. Saturday we went to a birthday party for a three year old friend of ours at Marina Park (one of our two favorite beach playgrounds and the site of Lucy's third and fourth birthday parties). We took Allie and Tom along and then went home for quiet time.

Sunday Allie and I took the girls to the swimming pool and then for an afternoon visit to the park. Monday we snuck in a beach visit and some Mexican food before Allie and Tom had to head out on the train. It was great to see them and it was fantastic to have all their help with the little house and the girl wrangling. Their visit proves that while incomplete, the little house is now livable (it even has electricity via an extension cord).

I will post pictures soon of all the recent work but for now you will have to make do with words and this one picture since it is now dark outside. They put beautiful wood panels on the front of the house and put all the siding on the remaining two sides. So now all that is left on the outside is to paint and stain!

Relay for Life - A Big Success

Despite 107 degree heat, the Conejo Valley Relay for Life was a big success! I'm sorry it took me so long to write about it but the heat was really wearing me out. The relay was a week ago Saturday. I spent Friday night making costumes for me and the girls. Our team's theme was the flora and fauna of the Santa Monica Mountains. I dressed up as the native flora complete with a shirt with humboldt lilies, gilias, and coast sunflowers. Lucy wore a shirt that said native plants are for the birds, and bees, and butterflies with native flowers and pictures of birds and bees and butterflies. Josie wore a shirt that said "grown in the Santa Monica Mountains." and had native flowers on it.

It was crazy hot even when we went up to walk at 5:30 PM. I walked around the track for 45 minutes while the girls jumped in the jolly jumper. I can't believe how sweaty and hot they got jumping but still went back for more. The enthusiasm of youth.

The luminarias that we made for my dad, my mom, Mitch's Aunt Nancy, my neighbor, and my dog were all right up front. Maybe because they were so colorful and pretty.

It was a great event. I exceeded my $200 fund raising goal (without ringing a single doorbell or making a single phone call - thanks to you my friends!) and our team exceeded our $1000 fund raising goal.

I'm looking forward to next year.