San Francisco - London. From campground lists to cool hikes, family recipes to fun discoveries, Frog Mom talks about raising young adventurers and explorers with a creative brain, an outdoors attitude and curiosity.
What's the best part of raising a family in NorCal?
Our family loves exploring the outdoors and if something is available wherever you go in Northern California, it's great adventures. From Gold County whitewater to the waters of the San Francisco bay, from coastal redwood forests to granite peppered Sierras, Northern California features beautiful places for all tastes. For my girls, I love that Northern California offers them a place to grow up where they have every opportunity to do what they want. If they want to invent the green car of the future or build roller-coasters, they can study engineering. If they want to design special effects for Pirates of the Caribbean 18, they can look at animation. If they want to make the best country bread in California, why not? I mean, my girls are still in elementary school but we're looking ahead. As long as they remain true to who they are and take advantage of their French heritage, I want them to grow up happy where the sun shines for them. Oh, and they love books. There's no shortage of great books written by Northern California authors. Maybe they'll write a book some day? Right now, they're just happy being kids and enjoying summer fun with their friends.
What's the biggest misconception about living in NorCal?
That we live in flip flops, shorts and Hawaiian shirts all year long? Seriously, I wonder how people can think of the Bay Area as the Mediterranean. My fleece collection is larger than my tank top assortment. Oh - and people believe that food is horrendous, that we live on burgers and fries. Couldn't be further from the truth. I could travel the Bay Area from one seriously good bakery to a fruit stand to an organic pizza restaurant and finish with some outrageously good ice cream.
What do your kids love most about living in NorCal?
Playing with their friends. Camping in state and national parks. Driving to Disneyland. Eating fried calamaris on the coast on lazy Sundays. Enjoying festivals from different cultures year round.
The place where we spend our summer vacations frequently sees temps around 90F with no wind at all. To escape the heat we drive to the mountains an hour away to take a dip in refreshing swimming holes. That's really summer for us. My girls love the adventure of scrambling up rocks to jump daringly in crystal-clear - and quite cold - mountain waters. I'm usually in the water with them and they have a blast. Then they explore the area, set up a "camp" and claim their picnic lunch so they can eat with their friends far from the adults. Sometimes we find small waterfalls or they can slide on their bottoms on slippery rocks. They love it and so do it. Beats crowds at the chlorinated water parks any day.
My 10-year old is not a huge breakfast fan but she'll whizz this strawberry oatmeal smoothie all by herself and she loves it. It's nutritious and hearty at the same time while being fun, a great recipe from the Dorset Cereals Breakfast Book. It's for 4 but my 2 girls can gulp the whole batch in one breakfast. Blend 1 cup of oatmeal until it's finely ground. Add 2 cups natural yogurt, 1 cup whole milk, 14 oz fresh strawberries and 2 tablespoons honey. Bled until thick and ready to drink. Enjoy!
Swimming is probably the only sport that can save lives. It's a life skill. Every child should learn how to swim and more importantly, be comfortable in the water by the time they get into school. While most kids learn to swim in heated indoors swimming pools, I would love to see more outdoors swimming programs for kids because children need to know open water safety basics for their summer vacations by the beach, by a river or by a lake. Indoor swimming pools can't prepare a child for the absence of pool sides to grip, variations in water temperatures or underwater currents. If they can learn to start in shallow areas where they can stand up and how to call for help in case of trouble, that's already a great steps towards more water safety.