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- To the Golden Bear Students I Met Saturday at Stanford – Thank you for Saying YES!
- Keynote Moment: What I Shared with Teenagers on Latino Achievement Night
- Hispanic Heritage Month and Latino Americans’ long-standing History of Military Service
- On the topic of Book Awards – a Strong Opinion from an Indie Publisher Who Has Won 11 in International Contests
- Why I’m Excited for the May 14th Launch of the First-Ever Online “Civilian Boot Camp” for Transitioning Service Members
- Tips for YOUR Winter Family Adventure at Lake Tahoe
- What I Did Before My Daughter’s First Birthday
- Celebrating Two-Way Immersion Program and Biliteracy in Turlock
- Air Force Veteran/Author Serves Children of U.S. Navy for Month of the Military Child
- Processing Those Honest Mother’s Day Messages from my Children
They woke up at 6 a.m. in Berkeley on a Saturday morning, in the middle of due dates for their final papers, project and finals….
They carpooled in two cars and headed south to Palo Alto.
By 8:05 a.m. they were checking into the Silicon Valley Latino Leadership Summit at the Stanford Faculty Club…some of the very first attendees to arrive.
Leena Mendoza, legislative analyst from City of Fresno and a first-time attendee at the Summit, later told me “After I had parked, I didn’t know where I was going. I saw some people who looked like they’d just stepped out of an Armani catalog. I asked if they were going to the Summit and they were all so helpful. I had no idea they were undergraduate or that it was their first time at the Stanford campus.”
The student group was selected and coordinated by @Oliver Araque, a transfer student from Mexico who I met at the Berkeley campus in 2017 at a student-alumni networking event. I contacted Oliver with an idea: if I sponsored a table at the #SVLLS19, would he be willing to identify five women and five men at Cal to bring together as a group? Oliver responded with an enthusiastic YES!
And that’s how it came to be that Oliver and nine other Cal students arrived at the Faculty Club on May 4th, 2019. When I arrived a few minutes later, I was so excited to put faces to the names I had received in previous weeks, through emails introducing themselves.
In getting to know them and hearing what each hoped to gain from the day (I asked them each to complete this sentence: “I got up early and made this trip today because I want to _____________”) I realized that for most students, this was the very first time they had ever attended a conference. So I did some quick coaching on how to best introduce yourself with a powerful personal branding statement and immediately get the person you want to meet talking. I offered to make those first introductions if they felt too shy to do it on their own. Two of the students asked me to make intros to a specific nonprofit and we began.
After that first intro, they flew the coop. I spent the rest of the day enjoying watching them approach attendees and speakers to introduce themselves AND by lunchtime two of the students were bringing people to introduce to me. I witnessed them leaving their comfort zones, working through the fear and discomfort and meeting professionals eager to bring opportunities their way. I felt like the mother hen watching the pollitos grow up and explore the world… what a blessing to see!
So today I am writing to say THANK YOU to each of them so that YOU can know about each of them and connect, mentor, guide, advise and connect to those in YOUR network to move their lives forward.
Thank you Ashley Quiterio for saying YES to the opportunity to attend #SVLLS19. The intersection of Education and Data Science you’ve selected is fascinating. I can’t wait to see what you do with it!
Thank you Diana Roque, aspiring attorney for saying YES. You were the first to send the intro email way back in February. I appreciate your enthusiasm look forward to staying in touch.
Thank you Veronica Luna, aspiring attorney interested in both immigration law and criminal law. I enjoyed watching you step out of your comfort zone all day Saturday. Thanks for saying YES.
Thank you Valerie Plasencia, aspiring psychologist or medical doctor. I loved your email. I love your ambition. I can’t wait to see which path you take with your servant heart!
Thank you Janéy Lopez, ambitious, aspiring psychologist already planning on graduate school (Yay!) Your future is so bright and your focus so impressive. Thanks for saying YES and enjoying SVLLS.
Thank you Charles Santoro, aspiring financial professional, for taking advantage of every second to meet the most people. I bet YOU collected the most business cards and connected with the most people. So happy you said YES!
Thank you Al “Joy” Rojas, aspiring media company entrepreneur, you are a natural at networking. When you brought the Ericcson team to introduce me to them, I felt so much happiness watching you in action! Thank you for saying YES and also for introducing me to Elisa Charters via email after the event. Like I said… you’re a natural. I know you’ll create a network of people who want you to become successful and you WILL be successful.
Thank you Daniel Marquez, aspiring doctoral student (yay!) for saying YES and for stepping out of your comfort zone all day Saturday. Loved your gratitude-filled email the next day and to learn you’re already planning on attending again next year!
Thank you Cesar Esquivias, aspiring business professional, for your enthusiasm all day that lasted through to the post-Summit mariachi reception. Thanks for saying YES when the opportunity presented itself.
And Oliver….thanks for saying YES! and taking the time to bring this opportunity to your fellow Cal students. You’re a true leader and I appreciate your vision, ambition, innovative thinking and servant heart. Whatever path you choose, whichever country you choose to live in later, I know you WILL make improvements to the status quo and disrupt what needs to be disrupted!
And finally, thank you Frank and Molly Carbajal for making it each to get these student to this milestone Summit this year. You WILL see these leaders again. 🙂
Last night, I had the pleasure of meeting honor student Alicia Fisher at the Latino Achievement Night ceremony at Castro Valley High School. This young activist got up on stage and unapologetically called out the decades of systemic bias that Latino students have experienced, being advised away from the college-prep track and into vocational and immediate employment scenarios. She shot down the myth that Latino families do not care about higher education. And she introduced her padrino Fernando who was steered away from college by his high school counselor in the 1950s.
I was very moved by her speech and her powerful voice that questioned “Where’s the literature that shows how much my people have contributed to the making of the USA?”
Then Alicia introduced me as the evening’s keynote speaker and I had about 12 minutes to share tiny slices of my educational and professional journeys, while relating lessons learned and advice back to the teens’ lives.
I built the speech around my favorite theme: high expectations. Here are the three KEY MESSAGES I selected after wrestling with many different ones:
- Adopt a high expectations mindset and REBEL against low expectations
- Scare yourself with challenges – on the other side of fear and terror is the best version of yourself
- Bring your FULL authentic, ambicultural self into everything you do, everywhere. Be grateful and proud of your heritage and cultural mix…ALWAYS. It’s what will differentiate you wherever you decide to apply your talent.
Curious? You can download my keynote remarks at the top of the page here…and share these messages with a Latino tween or teenager in YOUR life.
Alicia and I met after the event. To answer her question about “where’s the literature?” (and to encourage her to become a creator of the literature we both want to see in the world), I gifted her a copy of the literature my company is publishing that showcases the positive contributions of Latinos in the USA. It was a total hugfest after that…it’s what happens when you meet a kindred spirit.
Oh, and Alicia’s padrino? Fernando decided to write his own life script. He ultimately graduated from U.C. Berkeley’s Law School and practiced law for over 30 years. She had him stand up and the crowd went crazy with applause and orgullo.
I’m so happy to have met this young lady. I can’t wait to see who Alicia Fisher is going to become!
Thank you principal Blaine Torpey for the honor of addressing these exemplary students and their parents. That my daughter was among the hundreds of students honored was the cherry on top for this proud mamá
Dr. Hector P. García: “a man who in the space of one week delivers twenty babies, twenty speeches, and twenty thousand votes.”
Today’s #HispanicHeritageMonth post to raise awareness of Latino Americans’ contributions and longstanding history of #military service honors a man whose name is my answer to “Who do you wish you could bring back to life so that you could enjoy conversation and dinner together?”
His name is Hector García…Dr. Hector García…the first Mexican American ever to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award. An adviser to Presidents, a medical doctor, soldier/military officer and political activist for Latino veterans’ civil rights who activated thousands to the polls to participate in our American democratic processes…
Wondering where MY intense political activism comes from? I’ve studied this man’s life…His is a story so rich, you’ll need hours to even begin to appreciate him. So let me help you start.
For me, I admire most that he hitchhiked 30 miles, each way, to college, to get his education. Share THAT with any American kid complaining about getting to school!
I admire how he suffered blatant discrimination during WWII (entering the military with M.D. after his name he should’ve immediately been commissioned as an officer but that’s NOT what happened because “García”)
He persevered, served, rose to the rank of Major in the Army and became a highly – decorated officer serving in Europe during WWII. After the war, after beginning his medical practice and witnessing the social injustice of Mexican-American veterans living in poverty, García created the American GI Forum, a veterans’ rights organization (that exists to this day) so that these veterans too could receive the benefits to which they were entitled.
An immediate secondary goal of AGIF became to mobilize the Mexican-American community at large, because Dr. García understood that when one family member goes to war, the entire family is forced into service. AGIF quickly evolved into a powerful civil rights organization after the discriminatory Longoria Incident was resolved due to García’s leadership and activism. You’ll see the Longoria Incident in the short PBS video below.
I’m providing three resources for you below:
2. UT Medical School’s site that honors Dr. Garcia’s extraordinary life and achievements, including the early years.
3. A great resource page from Humanities Texas where I found that fabulous quote at the top about Dr. García: “a man who in the space of one week delivers twenty babies, twenty speeches, and twenty thousand votes.”
The latter happily contains links to a documentary about Dr. García’s life, his foundation, where you can find his papers, a bibliography and so much more. It’s a treasure trove. I hope you use it to inspire young people as you celebrate #HispanicHeritageMonth this month, next year during HHM and every day of the year.
Why I’m Excited for the May 14th Launch of the First-Ever Online “Civilian Boot Camp” for Transitioning Service Members
In the U.S. military, what matters is the teamwork and what can be accomplished together versus individually. We who served carry that lesson forward into civilian life once we take the uniform off for the last time.
There are many veteran entrepreneurs who have created business services, to partner with nonprofit groups, federal and state agencies, to lend our skills learned as civilians to reach back and pull up – we continue to serve – this time we serve our fellow military service members as they begin the next chapter of their lives as civilians. Why?
Because those of us who have crossed that chasm know how terrifying, dizzying and disorienting the transition can be. I often compare it to what it might feel like to arrive at a totally new planet…EVERYTHING and EVERYONE around you is different and many times, you feel alone, uncertain and discouraged. What you learned and helped you succeed on the first planet doesn’t help much on this one. Planet Civilian.
So Lance T. Walker, a fellow Air Force veteran with a Special Ops background who created the We Hire Heroes Network, one of the leading veteran employment resources on the web, decided to innovate.
Here’s the result: a 10-day VIRTUAL Summit that brings together 20 career and personal development professionals in a volunteer effort to ease the transition to civilian life. Lance had attended many other summits, events where an organizer gathered experts from one industry or other. He thought, Why not apply this technology to bring together those who serve military veterans and those in transition, and their spouses?
He looked around and saw it hadn’t been done before so he created it.
The first-ever online summit -brilliantly branded Civilian Boot Camp – kicks off May 14th and ends May 23rd when yours truly wraps up the Summit as the Closing Keynote. I am honored and humbled to join these 19 servant leaders.
See the entire speaker lineup, truly something for everyone – here at the event’s News Release. Or enjoy this one-minute video that describes the Summit’s objectives perfectly.
READY TO REGISTER FOR FREE? Here’s the link. Now….who can you share this blog post with who needs the knowledge? Needs a nudge? Needs a professional network filled with veterans ready to make new, valuable connections that will lead to next steps and career success?
Below is an image of the team; the list of speakers, hyperlinked to LinkedIn profiles is below it.
Please think of at least one person and share this post with him or her. They will thank you!
Antwain Thomas, USN (Ret.), “Business and Financial Strategies for Veterans”
Deanna Cowling, Transition Mentor, “Exploring Your Federal Career Options”
Deborrah Ashley, Civilian Supporter, “How to Grow Affluence by Building Influence”
Dylan Raymond, United States Army (Ret.), “Moving Swiftly from Deployment to Employment”
Francina Harrison, US Navy Spouse, ” Strategies for Re-Engineering Your Career”
Jenny W Clark, Civilian Supporter, “Secrets for Contracting with the Federal Government”
Lance T. Walker, USAF Veteran, “Why Veterans and Their Families Need a Boot Camp Out”
Lila Holley, United States Army (Ret.), “Sharing Female Veteran Transition Stories”
Lisa Nichols, Civilian Supporter, “Creating Your Best Destiny: Unlock Your Abundance”
Melissa Peavey, Civilian Supporter, “Discovering Your Passion & Activating Your Life’s Purpose”
Melissa Washington, USN Veteran, “Connecting and Empowering Female Veterans”
Michael Kissinger, United States Army (Ret.), ” Real Income Strategies for Military Spouses”
Michelle Tillis Lederman, Civilian Supporter, “Principles of Likability Leadership”
Sam P Lark Jr , US Air Force Spouse, “Using Social Media to Create Career Security”
Tom Wolfe, USN (Ret.), “Successful Career Strategies for Military Veterans”
Trevor O. D. Noel, USAF (Ret.), ” Putting the Human Back in Human Capital Acquisition”
Vivian Manghram-Favors, MBA, USN (Ret.) “Crowdfunding for Veteran- Owned Businesses”
Earlier this month, I submitted a detailed review to TripAdvisor for the resort where my family and I kicked off 2018 at South Lake Tahoe. While I was writing it, I was inspired to write even more to share with friends who might be interested in visiting South Lake Tahoe soon and who would appreciate some recommendations. I know I sure appreciate others’ insights. See, my hubby and I have been to various locations around Lake Tahoe, but it was years ago after college while I was in training with the Air Force and we NEVER looked for family activities. We were always there only to ski. So, right before heading up there on the last day of 2017, realizing we’d be first-time visitors as a family unit, I got fantastic tips from my friend Molly via Facebook about great family hikes and excursions. This post is how I will pay it forward. Enjoy!
Since lodging is what moms and dads fret with the most when planning a vacation of any length, I will recommend Americana Village Resort for families who like to walk as much as possible (it’s a super walkable location near Heavenly Village), for families who enjoy outdoor heated pools and hot tubbing in winter (plus sauna time!) and for families who at least one day of the week, love to truly relax in their room after a series of outdoor excursions. Read the detailed review here if you want to know more. This post will be about the fun we had AWAY from the resort.
Quick note: the week we were there was depressingly snowless. The mountains, usually bright white all the way around the lake with their snow loads, this week they looked like someone had dusted only the highest peaks with powdered sugar using a sifter. It was bad. Because of the lack-of-snow conditions, we chose NOT to spend the money skiing. Luckily, there are a ton of adventures to be had besides skiing!
WALKING, BOULDER SCAMPERING, and BEACH WALK at Sand Harbor State Beach on the Nevada side.
This location was a fabulous tip from Molly. One of her daughters uses a wheelchair so finding accessible paths in nature is a priority for her family as it is for mine.
We headed to the east side, the Nevada side, and up the highway to the Sand Harbor State Beach exit about 30 minutes up. From there, it’s a lovely drive descending to lake level. $6 parking fee applies (yes, there was a ranger enforcing/ticketing) and you’re greeted with a lovely crescent-shaped beach with a mountain behind it.
We all poured out of the car to the beach to get photos (and to see Heavenly Mountain behind our resort from across the lake.)
The accessible path is a boardwalk that first overlooks a stellar little bay that’s something out of a dreamscape, winds around a point that overlooks a climbable boulder field at lake edge, continues around for GREAT views of the crescent-shaped beach and returns to that beach.
It’s a ten-minute walk that took us an hour and a half because we HAD to climb the boulders (blind child included.) On that walk, we took many, many photos – the natural beauty here is just ridiculously breathtaking. There was also the time we spent breaking in the new sonar fish-finding gadget my hubby got from Santa for Christmas at a particularly pretty spot where you could see the lake bottom clearly.
After that, we walked the beach and once it was empty of people, my 11 year-old son spent 30 minutes doing target practice with his archery set as I acted as safety spotter in case others came to the beach (nobody did. Weird.)
It was a most lovely excursion to explore this place state park. We continued up the road to Kings Beach, grabbed Subway sandwiches, then decided to return along the east side of the lake instead of completing the drive around. That would have to wait for another day when it wasn’t already getting dark. 44 minutes later, we were back in our warm room and getting ready for our shabu shabu meal fun that we enjoyed preparing in our room.
CRUISE ON THE SAFARI ROSE: This was my favorite tip from my friend. Funny – in all those trips to Tahoe Genro and I took while studying at Berkeley and after graduation when I was doing my Air Force Undergraduate Navigator Training an an air base in the Sacramento area, we had NEVER taken a cruise on the lake. Following Molly’s tip, we walked down to the office and booked our family on a sunset cruise on the yacht called Safari Rose. It sails out of Ski Run Marina a 15 minute walk from our resort. On cruise day, they sent a shuttle to pick up my family. I decided to walk to the marina instead.
The 80-foot yacht is just beautiful in all ways – “fancy” my kids called it. The couches were comfy. The table is surrounded by huge windows to take in the unparalleled views. The wines flow freely. There’s a substantial layout of food to enjoy as you enjoy the views and meet your fellow travelers. There are heavy wool blankets for those who want to sit on the bow in front of the captain’s window, snuggle and feel the breeze.
The highlight for us was cruising into Emerald Bay and laying eyes on Fannette Island, the only island in the lake, up close…very close…as in we got to TOUCH the island because the water is 100 feet deep at the edge of the rocks. Captain Clark went right up to the rocks, we stood at the bow, and touched the island. That was right after he cruised as close as possible to the lakeside storybook-like castle called Vikingholm.
My daughter snapped this photo of my hubby and I – what a memory! We saw people walking around the castle on the beach, heard there was a waterfall behind the castle and decided we would do that walk this week.
On the way out of the bay, the captain pointed out a bald eagle on a dead tree top and its huge nest a few feet away on a nearby tree. What a treat to get a rare sighting of our national bird!
If you make it to Tahoe, take the cruise on THIS yacht. It’s THE best according to everyone. Tip my friend shared: get the Entertainment app for your phone. There’s a coupon for a FREE ticket if you buy one. So for our family of five, we paid for 3 people – $180 total instead of $300. SWEET. The $1.99 you pay month for the Entertainment app just paid for itself in a BIG way.
SLEDDING This is nuts. First week of January and snow level was never lower than 7000 feet and higher than 7000 feet they barely had any snow. It was so bad that the front desk told us “Even Adventure Mountain is closed.”
As you head for South Lake Tahoe, you pass Adventure Mountain on Highway 50 at Echo Summit. The base elevation is 7,350 feet, the highest sledding resort on the south side – CLOSED due to no snow.
We followed a tip from my friend to head for the Tahoe City Transit Center on the west side and find a sledding hill behind it. When we got there, there was NO SNOW on the hill. Sad. It had melted since Christmas week. 50 degree temps will do that. Boo.
I’d read about a “winter sports park” in Tahoe City but that proved to be a little set up on a golf course to make money from vacationing families desperate to find snow. You’d NEVER catch locals hanging around there. The sledding “hill” is more like a slush mound where only 18 month-old toddlers could possibly have fun on a sled. They charged $18 for ice skating (TINY TEMPORARY RINK) and $12 more to sled down for 3 seconds on slush. No thanks.
So doing what I do, I sought local intel. I talked to the guy renting ice skates, I said, “Come on, there’s GOT to be a BIGGER sledding hill around here for teenagers.” He whispered to me: “Granlibakken. Go to Granlibakken.” I went to the car, looked it up, called and was told to drive 2 minutes south on Hwy 89 and yes they had made snow that was still there and people were sledding. The Granlibakken guy told me that sledding tickets were normally $17 a person during a holiday week but since there was barely enough snow, they were charging $10 to sled until 4:30 p.m.. Sweet. We grabbed some kimchee hot dogs at the “winter sports” cafe and 10 minutes were at Granlibakken putting on our snow gear.
At the front desk, I asked the lady, “Do you honor veterans with a discount here?” and she responded with “Absolutely! 50% discount for your whole family!” We enjoyed 2 hours of sledding for $5 each, and that included use of their circular sleds (NO toboggan-shaped sleds allowed.) What a deal!
The hill was not HUGE but that’s fine since we had to walk up it before the sledding part. It was tall enough to make for a FUN ride down in the snow/slush mixture. At the bottom, getting off the slide, we typically stepped into slush puddles. Since I was sending a blind sledder down the hill, it was awesome that they had two staff members there to keep people safe and not running into each other.
As I wrote on my Facebook post: it was brown on top, slushy on the bottom, but LOTS of “Woohoo!” on the way down. It was sooooo worth it and I would return there again. There’s a great snack bar/cafe with soups, nachos, cocoa etc that we missed because it closed at 4 p.m. and we sledded until 4:15. We did enjoy the little firepit on the deck and the view of the snowy hill with drinks from the little snack shack outside the main “lodge.” Granlikbakken is a fun place to spend a few hours sledding with the kiddos.
ICE SKATING: Our Girl Scout troop had enjoyed an afternoon of ice skating the week after Christmas so this activity was foremost on our minds. Molly had recommended the South Tahoe Ice Arena because it was much larger than the rink at Heavenly Village. We scoped out both ice rinks the night before skating. I was in shock to see how OVERCROWDED the Heavenly rink was – yes, it was Wednesday night, first week of January, but I couldn’t believe they let so many people onto the ice at once. People were barely moving it was so crowded! AND many MORE people were putting on skates to join them! With a blind child in my family and two other kids who skate once or twice a year, this was NOT the place for us. At $20 for adults/$18 for kids I decided it would not be worth the effort there. Yes, there was a holiday ambiance to the place, strings of lights overhead…but NO. Not for us. We came to skate, not bump into people and people watch.
We headed to the MUCH larger Ice Arena one late afternoon before dinner – the NHL-sized arena where local hockey teams practice – for $15 each, skates and helmets included, less if you have your skates and less for little kids. See the arena website here. We appreciated the super helpful and patient staff. When I asked if they honor veterans with a discount, he subtracted $15 and told me my admission would be free. NICE! (For my fellow veterans, always ask: “Do you honor veterans with a discount here?” The answer tends to be overwhelmingly positive.)
My 13 year-old skated with a friend from middle school whose family also happened to be up there that week. After almost 2 fun-filled hours of teaching and guiding my blind child and my 11 year-old son who hadn’t ice skated in 2 year, while enjoying the music tracks that ranged from the 1970s to 1990s, I was done. We exited the ice rink and enjoyed hot cocoa and soft pretzels in the snack bar. It was a lovely, physically-exerting evening activity after a day when we had vegetated in the room and at the pool. We returned to our suite and cooked up a fondue feast with our induction surface “stove table” as my daughter calls it. What’s great also is this ice arena is open year-around so if you come in the summer and enjoy a day at the beach, you can still ice skate in the evening!
HIKING: Vikingsholm castle at Emerald Bay – This is the castle we first saw while cruising onboard the Safari Rose. You’ll find the parking lot and trailhead on the right side after driving just a couple minutes north of the very popular stop at Emerald Bay and after Eagle Falls too. We parked and were immediately drawn to the boulder field overlooking the lake. That happens to us – see boulders, must climb…At the top, not only was the lake view gorgeous, but we could hear and see Eagle Falls cascading down the mountain, into the stream. Don’t miss this! DO climb the boulders and see/hear Eagle Falls.
You start your walk down at 6630 feet elevation and experience a 450-foot elevation change as you descend one mile on the paved road that the matriarch had constructed. From the website: “Access to Vikingsholm is via a STEEP one mile trail from the parking lot located off of Highway 89 or a less steep 1 1/2 mile trail that leaves from the Eagle Point Campground campfire center. Please make sure you are physically able to make the climb back up the hill.” That last part if important. You really feel the strain on the way up because altitude.
The walk down is just gorgeous, Emerald Bay always in sight, little streams at your side, the sound of running water keeping you company through the splendid mountain landscape. My son, of course, tasted the water flowing down because why not. (Did I mention he also sipped water from the circular indentations we discovered on that boulder farm next to the parking lot. That’s my kid! )
Arriving at the castle, closed in winter, we admired the architectural details and with my blind child, touched the coat of arms and other wonderful shapes. While my husband stayed at the dock to explore his fishing gadget, we continued behind the castle to the stream where Eagle Falls dumps its waters.
The paved, accessible path goes all the way to the stream. From there, it was a rocky walk up to the wooden bridge over the stream to the other side where climbing.2 miles later, you’d reach Lower Eagle Falls. We didn’t go that far – I was thinking it’s quite cold now, the sun is behind the mountain and we still need to walk back up that hill. So instead, we enjoyed being on the bridge, looking and listening to the power below us, screaming to be louder than the water, throwing “snowballs” which were actually ice scraping from rocks (water freezes on rocks at streams edge and stays frozen since it was about 28 degrees at this point) and took many photos of the awesome beauty surrounding us.
Behind the stream, jagged, mountain peaks…just perfect. We returned to the castle and the picnic table at lake edge for a quick snack and water break. Hubby joined us and I told him he should go up to the stream real quick (he did.) Yes, it was cold at this point and the kids were so happy for the three layers I always insist they wear.
Then we began our brisk walk up that 450-foot elevation change, doing intervals of walking fast for a bit, then walking slow for a bit. I was actually running up for 30 second intervals but my daughter who is blind balked at my suggestion that it was a pretend treadmill with incline (that she loves to do as exercise.)
So we took it slow, stopped at a really wide tree stump for a photo and made it back to the boulder farm just in time for sunset.
So up we went for the must-get photo of the pink sky over the deep blue water, Fannette Island and Emerald Bay below – this was the perfect excursion to our last day at South Lake Tahoe as we kicked off 2018.
We already know we’re going back to Vikingsholm castle in summertime to take the tour. We look forward to learning more about the rich history, unique architecture and Ms. Knight’s personal story. And yes, that natural beauty…I need to be there again, and this time, cross the bridge and hike to Lower Eagle Falls…
For those interested in ADA ACCESSIBILITY, I found this at the bottom of the castle website here: “Call California State Parks at 530-525-7232 or email Emerald.BayADA@calparks.onmicrosoft.com to inquiry about eligibility and availability.”
LASTLY a restaurant to AVOID: We thought we’d stop there because of the name: Sato Sushi in South Lake. Just…..NO. That’s all I’m going to say.
I hope you enjoyed these stories, tips and photos. Share with a family who will benefit from this post about our family excursions. Come back and tell me what YOU did that I might want to do next with my family!
**PLEASE SHARE WITH PARENTS OF YOUNG, BLIND BABIES TO INSPIRE & MOTIVATE THEM INTO ACTION FOR THEIR CHILD**
This is a piece I contributed to the American Foundation for the Blind FamilyConnect® For parents of children with visual impairments. You can find it published HERE. Full text is below as well.
—–What I Did Before My Daughter’s First Birthday —-
After the severely premature birth of our first child and a five and a half month hospitalization in the NICU, we cocooned at home for two months. I simply wanted the world to stay away so I could just enjoy my baby. We accepted two early intervention professionals weekly into our home but that was it.
In time, my Blind Babies Foundation (BBF) counselor encouraged me to do a few things, like meet blind adults and ask questions. Other things I did because I was curious or because they felt right.
Here’s my short list of what I did before my baby’s first birthday, to feel that I was facing the reality of blindness by empowering myself with experiences:
- I subscribed to “Don’t lose your child to the disability.” Very critical first step, very sage advice. Unfortunately, I can’t remember where I read that.
- I met a mom for brunch. She had raised a blind daughter who was a college student at Stanford University, majoring in physics and religious studies. This was a very powerful ninety minutes in my life, with profound impact and hope.
- At the mom’s suggestion, I got on Seedlings’ (print/Braille books) mailing list and ordered six books to read to my daughter. I did this even though I thought she was way too young for books. Touch and Feel and Scratch and Sniff books with braille dots to feel with tiny fingers were a huge hit early on. She clearly enjoyed the experience of cuddling and reading.
- I attended the NFB state conference to confront the world of blindness head on.
- I met parents of older kids who are blind and in my school district.
- I began to seek assistive technology that would make the world accessible to her later.
- I read a book that my BBF counselor brought to me: Small Victories: Conversations about Prematurity, Disability, Vision Loss and Success, by Mary Lou Dickerson.
- I sought out blind adults for lunch meetings and asked, “What did your parents do really well as you were growing up?” and “What do you wish your parents had done differently?” I learned a wealth of information from asking these two questions.
Yes, it’s a lot for the first year, especially when you consider that I spent the first 5 1/2 months of that year in the NICU with my baby girl after her birth at 25 weeks, weighing one pound two ounces! But I needed to do these things right away, to get rid of the terrible feeling of helplessness.
I’ve always believed that “Knowledge is Power, Ignorance is Expensive.” For me, this is what helped me overcome the grief and get on with the business of raising my child and becoming her advocate.
One of the best benefits of being a mommy is receiving handmade projects that convey love from your children. Really nothing beats that…because kids create directly from their hearts…It’s #NoFilters defined.
Mother’s Day is the day that, if you’re lucky, you get flooded with creative messages expressing love…and hints. This year takes the cake!
“I love you. I love playing trombone music with you. I like going on the Undertow (a crazy ride on the Santa Cruz Boardwalk) with you. I like making paper with you. You are an amazing mother.”
No need to analyze that one – just a simple expressing of the multitude of activities we love to do that bring her, and me, total joy.
My second child is the visual artist. She poured her heart into the artist cover in collage format and kept the sentiment within short and sweet, expressing happiness that she’s my daughter (like she has a choice, right?) As I reflect on her choice of words, they seem to be code for “I’m the middle kid who gets less time with you versus the baby boy and the older sister with a multitude of special needs. I cherish every minute.” Sigh…am I overthinking it? And yet, she concludes with anticipation, that many other adventures lie ahead…which is awesome.
These next pages are from a little book my little boy in second grade made at school. My favorites:
– You are the best mother because you cook good soup! (Yes, I’m good at cutting veggies and throwing cooked chicken bits in a pot. I’ll claim that much.)
– I will help you…with your bissnes! [business!] (He’s my youngest book order fulfillment assistant, which is how he earns his “commission.” No “allowances” in this house!)
“Dear Mom, Being around you makes me feel sweet, except for when you’re angry.” (OUCH.)
Sometimes the brutal honesty coming from our kids is just what we need to make those necessary improvements, yes?
I have pinned the cone next to my bed. It’s truly a gift, a daily reminder when I wake up to try harder to not let the extreme stress of my life get conveyed through anger that lands on my little beloved kids. I am admitting right here that it is THE most difficult task assignment I face daily…truly one that I have apparently failed at repeatedly, judging by this message from my son.
I’m truly blessed with these children and their abilities to express themselves in such very different ways. I love that they are teaching me to continuously be a better person. That’s what this Mother’s Day was really about this year.
How about you? Did you receive any hints, I mean messages of love, this year? Want to share your own highlights? Please do!