#31- Working Mom

I had a good run- 7 years I worked jobs that allowed me to have my children by my side and I loved every single minute of it. I am so grateful to my husband for providing us a home and for allowing me to be with our babes. But I was starting to put serious thought in to going back to work full time, and I was also rethinking my career path- a desk job, finally? My entire adult life has consisted of finger painting, water splashing, garden growing, story times, play dough, and conversations with little people. I loved it.

I miss it.

We moved back to the Sacramento Area recently. Being pulled from all the comforts of my working life in Pescadero is a surefire way to open back up the possibilities and opportunities I could happy ignore living in a remote farming town (since the opportunities didn’t exist much there anyway). I applied for jobs that were completely out of my realm, weighed my options and chose one offer that seemed challenging, and ultimately still in my field of work. Which, I didn’t think worked for my bucket list challenge #31: Work a job in a completely different field of interest. But, interestingly enough when I told a few of my friends that I was hired on as a

Social Worker, Amador County

the response was almost all the same: “Oh, I didn’t know you were interested in that?”

Huh? I’ve done nothing by advocate for children & youth, what do you mean you didn’t know?

And then I got to work.

This is really, really hard.

Most children we place in foster homes are really just fine for the most part. But there have been a few cases that… have given me nightmares. Literally. The other night I dreamt I started stashing children in my home, closing the blinds and locking the doors convinced that I would save them that way. The things I have heard, the eyes I have peered in to… My hope is to never run out of tears to shed for these children. The day I do is the day I quit.

I recently took a teen out to lunch for her 17th birthday. I’ve met with her several times and this was the first time I saw her smile, and it was the first time I heard “thank you.” I was asked why I went out of my way to treat her, given the rough treatment I’ve taken from this teen’s own mouth. It’s on each of us to prove to our youth that the world isn’t as bad as it seems. She’s not angry with me.  She’s angry at the world and rightfully so.
I was trying to think of how to best document in pictures what I do, since so much of it is actually confidential. So, I am opting to post a ‘slideshow’ of sorts to show that it’s not all entirely depressing- ha! These were selfies I took of myself and texted to my co-worker in the next office over, during a phone call that lasted over an hour and a half and was rendered completely useless 3 days later when the caller sent me an email that said, “Nevermind what we discussed, change of plan!” *sigh* enjoy….

#63- A Night at the Drive-In

This event is pretty self explanatory.  I’ve never in my 30 years been to a Drive In. There wasn’t one around when I was growing up ( I don’t think) and in college, I never had a friend suggest it.  I don’t think I even knew a Drive In existed in Sacramento until much later on in my college life, when I happen to be driving up HWY 50 at night and from the freeway you can see all the screens. Having driven past it often enough it finally made my list- #63.

The deal is ridiculously reasonable- We went on Tuesday Family Fun Night, which is $5 for adults, $1 for kids and free for anyone under the age of 5. So, For Myself, Natalie & Holly I paid $6 to see Pixar’s Inside Out. You just can’t beat that.

I was thrilled to send out a last minute text to friends and be able to round up some accomplices. Beth & Jen had never been to the Drive In either, and were great sports with supplying tons of snacks and foldout chairs. It looked and felt a little bit like we were at a big Campout, or Tailgating party with how many families were also out with their glow lights, crying kids and typical family-friendly nonsense. The surround sound was courtesy of the radios in our cars and from there…we had a great night!

The Drive In itself was pretty decent.  Although the lot was clearly dated, the bathrooms were clean, the inside snack bar was orderly and the playground is a nice touch. Also, they have jumper cables & staff person on hand to jumpstart your car if the battery dies during the movie. I’d definitely do this again.

#67- On Top of the Bay

Growing up, I had a distaste for the Bay Area in general.  I thought it was polluted, ugly, crowded and intimidating. I still think it’s all those things, but since living it (as one does on the Peninsula tucked away from all things polluted, ugly, crowded, and intimidating) I feel that delusional sense of pride and comfort that comes with making a place your home. That’s MY polluted, ugly, crowded and intimidating home… hm.

I’ve hiked plenty of areas over the years, but more recently my hikes with little ones in tow often look more like strolls amongst a paved path shaped like a >1 mile loop.  Family friendly but by no means adventurous and that sense of pride and accomplishment is associated with making it the whole mile without a meltdown, an accident, or an incident. Also, when I think about MOUNTAIN tops I’ve stood on, it’s never been because I hiked to that look out point.

So, #67 (climb to the top of a mountain) seemed like a reasonable quest to satisfy the urge. In a far off dream, this Mountain would be called Everest or Kilimanjaro. But until then, I settled on the highest peak in the immediate Bay Area- Mt. Tamalpais.

My friend Gina had posted about wanting to get out of her comfort zone and hike more, so it was easy to find a friend to come along with me.  Not to mention in the past year or two, two women alone on their Mt. Tam hikes turned up dead (I failed to mention this to Gina) so the buddy system was in full effect!  So was my taser gun (I failed to mention this to Gina, too).

The hike itself? We started at Bootjack Trailhead, started off upwards, paused at the West Wind Inn for lunch- now that’s an interesting hike-in resort- and then continued on toward East Peak.  The most challenging part was the rock-climbing and stair-hopping Fern Creek trail but otherwise it was mostly scenic with a bit of shady and a bit of sunny. For those who want the false sense of accomplishment, I guess you can drive to the top, park your car and walk the extra 200 ft up to the Fire Watch Tower. But where’s the fun in that?? It took us 2.5 hours to climb up and then 1.5 hours to climb back down. The view from the top? Amazing of course. Everything from a far-enough-away distance looks beautiful. Sitting there for several minutes taking it in, I felt like the Bay Area was wonderfully peaceful and charming. Home, really.

91- #keeptahoeblue

Hello out there!

I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus. Excuses here, excuse there. Kids, life, baby, more excuses. Wine.

Last week commenced Summer break (read: Natalie’s done with school) and since we’ve never been good at sitting still, the first thought we had when we woke up was, where should we run off too?  

Lake Tahoe seemed to be as good a choice as any. And, #91- Cruise the lake in a boat has nagged at me since January 2014. Specifically because we spent our first weekend of the new year staying at a lodge and had a cruise booked, only to have it cancelled because of the one-and what seemed to be the ONLY- snow storm of the year. This isn’t the first time Mother Nature interfered with my Bucket List [insert mad face emoticon here].

Lake Tahoe is a bit of a conundrum for me. I’ve come to the conclusion that despite dozens of trips to this place growing up, I’ve never once really done it ‘right.’  Typically, I have been either too broke, too lost, too drunk, or with a group too big and as a result I’ve either never really skii’d, never swam, never been to the beach on a warm day, never gambled, never got a good night sleep in a nice bed. And at best, if any of these things did happened…. I never remembered. Tahoe must have realized this in my hiatus and has actually done some fabulous upgrades to the entire area.

This time we did it right. Including a boat cruise around the lake- it’s the bluest lake I’ve ever been on, and breathtaking.  We stayed 3 days at the Base Camp Hotel (ahhhmazing), got a private tour of Emerald Bay, cruised the Tahoe Queen around the lake,  tried some new restaurants and shopped all the little boutique shops that are popping up everywhere.  I’ve been told the same Corporation that redid Vail & Aspen are redoing Tahoe. Smart move for Tahoe commerce for sure. Job well done, “We will be back.”

#55- A Man Hunt!

Making my lists, I’ve mentioned before that I draw inspiration from things I did in the past that were so much fun, I’d want to do again.  A few of those things are drawn from childhood memories- building a fort, a snowman, Mac N Cheese, etc. And then I also remembered scavenger hunts. Bored summer days, my mom inventively made up silly lists and we’d run from house to house collecting stuff. It was also a popular youth group activity, and then my youth died away…. *sigh*

Until recently! Even though I put a Scavenger Hunt on my list in 2014 (#55), at the time I had no real plans with it or ideas other than I thought it’d be fun to do around Dixon with old friends.  And this is exactly what happened as it all came together flawlessly with Lisa’s Bachelorette Party.

I’m proud to say, I came up with this list entirely on my own, with only my brain and not Pinterest’s or Google’s input. I’m also thrilled to say I had a dozen enthusiastic friends very willing to take up the challenge :)

I’ve been told we checked off every item on the list. I do have a few pictures on my phone that don’t make sense but I think may be tied to the game. When I asked what was the “thing of value found on the floor”Cristy replied, “The Bride-to-Be” which I think is accurate.  All in all, a success!

#89- Portraits

My friend, Leslie, is a phenomenally talented Photographer and Artist, who I’ve documented before [ here ] and has on numerous occasions taken our family portraits.  I knew we were due for some family photos since adding one more to our traveling circus, but I wanted to wait until I was comfortable again in my own skin (read: lost all the baby weight) otherwise, knowing myself I wouldn’t be too thrilled with the final product despite how highly I thought of Leslie’s work.

Thank you, always, Leslie for doing such a great job. She makes my kids almost look like Angels… ;) #89 is off my list, at least for another 3-5 years. I’m not one who needs them with every new outfit I purchase for the kids!

#85- The Russian River Valley

“I drink a lot of wine.”

After many years reading labels, and looking at wine menus and paying general attention to wine regions of the world, I noticed there are a few wines I like that are grown in the Russian River Valley.  Now, not really putting it all together and looking at a map I just had always thought to myself, “Well, I camped a lot along the Russian River and I spent many summers kayaking it, too. I should go back and wine taste there.”

And that was pretty much it. I put it in my list but still didn’t bother to look up the region until I made a day trip with the Russian River Valley as my destination, and looked at it that morning before leaving.  Turns out, I HAVE gone tasting there. Silly me,  I should know that rivers go for hundreds of miles.  With some of those miles flowing through parts of Napa/Sonoma and stops along the Wine Trail festival that I’ve taken part in a few times.


But, not all was lost. Jess & I stopped at wineries we hadn’t tried before and purchased a few that we liked. And I managed to take one picture only…. poop.

So, #85 is done and complete. Sonoma Coast might just be the most beautiful of all of California regions.