Court Couture...

Dressed to play.


Natural Light Photography

Apeture f/2.2, 1/200, ISO 800, 50mm fixed.

I'm still dabbling in the whole photography thing. I'm really concentrating on tweaking natural light to work to my advantage and trying not to get lured in by softboxes and strobes... I went out of my comfort range and bumped up my ISO to 800...not bad, eh?


Ulistac Natural Area

Right behind my neighborhood is a nature preserve that runs along the Guadalupe River and trail. It's called Ulistac Natural Area and it's home to several different types of habitats and multiple forms of wildlife. Today a bunch of us took a walk over with the kids and set down a few picnic blankets under the foliage. We had ourselves lunch, and the kids went on their own adventure running around picking up sticks and hunting for bobcats and snakes (none of which they encountered thank goodness!).

Along the trails are informative plaques about the native wildlife and vegetation. On past days we've seen jackrabbits, foxes, bunnies, and various birds. On some weekends there are park events such as art exhibits and nature talks, too! There are no picnic tables (we just sat on the ground...don't forget to bring a trash bag!), but Lick Mill Park is also located directly across the street with a playstructure, bathrooms, and tables, too.

In all a nice place to visit when you've got a house full of antsy kids and nowhere to go.


DeYoung Museum: King Tut Exhibit

Yesterday some friends and I took our kids to the de Young Fine Art Museum in San Francisco to see the traveling King Tut Exhibit.

I pre-paid our tickets using Ticketmaster, and it paid off (no pun intended) I'd spent the extra $2.50 to print them immediately. The line to even gather your paid tickets looked rather daunting. I got a discount by paying with my American Express, but I saw that Costco was also selling packaged tickets including the audio tour. Kids under 6 are free.

The big kids all really enjoyed the exhibit. I felt a little bad that my older son would have liked to spend a lot more time in there, but there was not much in the way of distractions for Alexi (2). He liked looking at the boats and pointed out the birds and shapes and animals he recognized, but he grew bored very quickly. It's a good thing there were a bunch of us so we could divide and conquer. I can say all the kids thoroughly enjoyed the gift-shop at the end, though. There was also a kiosk where the kids printed out their names in hieroglyphics, too.

After our educational excursion we headed to the cafe for lunch. I'm always pleased with the food, and they added a fantastic infused water stand that really made me giddy!

And after lunch we spent a few hours chilling in the sculpture yard while the kids ran around and played. A great day!


Almaden Lake Park...

The summers of my childhood were on a military base beachfront on Seneca Lake in up-state New York. It didn't have nice sand, or cabanas, or even a snack shop....heck, I don't even think we had a lifeguard. We were forced into hideously colored water shoes to keep us from slipping on slime covered rocks and from slicing our feet open on broken glass. But, we had a dock to jump off, and an endless supply of Kool-Aid Squeeze-Its (ironically because my mom didn't allow us soda due to a belief it contained too much sugar) so life was pretty good.

Fast forward 20 years. Wanna relive that summer by the lake feel, but without the broken glass and the added bonus of an on-duty lifeguard? Try out Almaden Lake Park! I was pleasantly surprised that it still retained a lot of lake feel (and smell) of yesteryear. A mere 15 minutes away from my home, within the confines of a local suburban park, lay an oasis of sorts. There were ducks and geese swimming around, you could rent paddle boats by the hour, and the sand floor reached out to the roped off area. No slimy rocks! The lake was regularly tested for safe swimming conditions (I swam in toxic dump drainage as a kid so I figure anything is better than that, but hey, it might be important to some people). There was also a nearby snack hut, and a water park for those too squeamish to swim with the fishes.

In any case, we had a great time, and I'd recommend it to anyone looking to enjoy some lake adventures for just the day.

There is a minimal parking and swim fee so don't forget to bring some cash.


Back to School Clothes...

Okay, so the older son is now 8. He's small for his age so the big kid clothes at Abercrombie Kids don't quite fit yet, but the clothes at Gymboree and Janie and Jack look too babyish. Any suggestions on fresh kid clothes for the in between years?