What's the best part of raising a family in NorCal?
I struggle with superlatives, but I'll list a few highlights. Northern California beckoned me, as a young adult, with promises of seaside sunsets, seventy degree weather eight months of the year, and metropolitan perks adjacent to astounding natural beauty and opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. Raising a family here is wonderful for precisely those reasons. For instance, an ambitious day can include a scenic hike AND a museum visit. We grow some of our own food (year round!), raise chickens. At the same time, we never have to settle when it comes to dining out. There is almost always an event for kids nearby- a story hour, a play, live music; or we can go camping a couple of hours drive north and feel like we are the only humans around for miles. We can get to beaches, movie theaters, farmers' markets, libraries or cafés in minutes; sometimes walking. Finally, there is a great diversity of age, culture and ethnicity in the Bay Area that I hope will aid my children in developing a comfort level with and compassion for people who may differ from them in physical attributes, customs or values. It may sound like I'm bragging, but I didn't create any of this: I just feel lucky to live in it!
What's the biggest misconception about living in NorCal?
Biggest? I wouldn't know. However, people who don't live here tend to think that “going to the beach” is about swimming in the ocean and getting some sun... Our version is more about exploring tide-pools, tossing pebbles into the surf and building driftwood forts: the wind is often high and the water is always cold.
What do your kids love most about living in NorCal?
We like the de Young, in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, across from the Cal Academy of Sciences. The Hamon Education Tower Observation Deck is open to the public, though it is closed most Mondays (check hours here: http://deyoung.famsf.org/deyoung/visiting). The tower includes an exciting elevator ride and amazing views! Most of the special exhibits might be a lot for small children to take in, but general admission includes a great variety of fine art examples in many mediums and from around the world. The Music Concourse out front is a great place to run around before or after, to get out "ya yas"- and sometimes you'll catch a band performing! The museum café is always and option; however there is also a nice garden next to the museum with climbable benches and mesmerizing water features, fit for a picnic.
We have a smugmug account (smugmug.com). Our family photos are uploaded and simultaneously backed up in folders marked "family and friends", "travel", etc. and sub-folders marked "Carl & Michelle's Wedding", "Hawaii", "Summer 2013", etc... (we also back up with Carbonite cloud backup service). Our close friends and family can access all folders that we make public on smugmug, and they are able to download their favorite images as they like! We also have a network attached storage (NAS).