Beaches I've been to

Now that The Pea is planning her dorm room decorations (yes it has been a while but OMG The Pea is going to college where did the time go), I came up with a nice little "housewarming" present: a set of wall photo decals depicting all the beaches she's ever visited. That got me to thinking of all the beaches I've visited.  From the beaches I would spend my childhood summer vacations at to those once-in-a-lifetime trips, each one has their own beauty and charm.

Could I possibly name them all? I've decided I want to try, if only to help jog my memory once I really start to forget.  Many of these beaches are ones I've visited multiple times, and quite a few are beaches I've visited fairly recently, so I have no trouble naming them. But I've been visiting beaches since before I can remember; all my life, I've never lived more than 2 or 3 hours from a beach. When you're a kid, you don't really take note of the names of the beaches you go to.  And I'm sure there are beaches I can't remember visiting. Here are the beaches I've visited that I can remember:

Baybay Black Sand Beach, Roxas City, Philippines
Montemar Beach, Bagac, Philippines
Calatagan, Batangas, Philippines
Anilao, Batangas, Philippines
Puka Shell Beach, Boracay, Philippines
White Beach, Boracay, Philippines
SBMA Beach, Subic, Philippines
White Island, Camiguin, Philippines
a white sand island, Negros, Philippines
a beach in Cebu, Philippines
Alona Beach, Panglao, Bohol, Philippines
Pamilacan Island, Bohol, Philippines
Acapulco Beach, San Fernando La Union Philippines
La Union, Philippines
Carmel Beach, CA
Santa Cruz Boardwalk Beach, CA
Natural Bridges State Beach, CA
San Gregorio State Beach, CA
Daytona Beach, FL
Half Moon Bay State Beach, CA
Pacifica State Beach, CA
Huntington State Beach, CA
King's Beach, Tahoe, CA
Lahaina Beach, Maui, HI
Polo Beach, Maui, HI
Malo-les-Bains, Dunquerque, France
Barry Island Beach, UK
Blackpool Beach, UK
Lulworth Cove, UK
Durdle Door, UK
Bratten Beach, Styrso, Sweden

Can you remember all the beaches you've been to?

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Signs from the San Francisco Women's March, 2018

Today is the one-year anniversary of Donald Trump's inauguration, and the nation celebrated... with protest marches! The second Women's March was held today, and after the insane year we've had to endure, the need to make our voices heard is greater than ever. Just like last year, The Pea and I donned our pink pussy hats and make the trek to San Francisco's Civic Center to join the thousands marching for the rights of women, immigrants, minorities, LGBT, and other marginalized communities. We had a great time having lunch, listening to the speakers, marching and chanting with the crowd. But our favorite activity by far was reading the passionate and clever signs that marchers proudly waved. Here are some of the signs we saw today:

Five things you must know after your teen receives a CA driver's permit

Congratulations! Your teen has successfully passed their written California DMV test and received a learner's permit. He or she is ready to hit the California roads and begin working towards getting a driver's license. In as little as 6 months, your teen could be ready to go back to the DMV and take their behind-the-wheel driving test! You probably know that your teen will need at least 50 hours of behind-the-wheel practice before he or she can take the test. But practice isn't enough. Here are five useful things for parents to know* :

Our annual family holiday newsletter

Dearest family and friends,

2017 has been a busy year, full of new and exciting developments. Here are a few highlights:

Giving (and receiving) with the Family Giving Tree

2017 marks our 6th year of volunteering as a family at the Family Giving Tree. Strictly speaking, it's the 7th year for me and The Pea. She and I volunteered for the first time when she was 4 years old; she was too young to do anything other than hold a tape dispenser for me, and the boys were too little to help. Even at that age, I could see her mind opening as she realized that there were little boys and girls like her whose parents couldn't get them all the Christmas presents they wanted.  Volunteer opportunities for kids under age 14 are pretty scarce. I realized we needed the Family Giving Tree just as much as the kids who would be receiving the presents.

Trading pins at Hong Kong Disneyland

There are six Disney parks around the world -- Anaheim, Orlando, Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Shangai -- and each one is unique in its own way. One of the things that makes each park unique is the merchandise. When we visited Hong Kong Disneyland, I had a great time browsing through the shops and checking out what each one had to offer. Naturally, as pin trading enthusiasts, we paid special attention to the trading pins. We just couldn't miss the opportunity to discover and collect some one-of-a-kind pins! Hong Kong Disneyland's pin selection did not disappoint. Here's the rundown on the beautiful and unique trading pins we found at Hong Kong Disneyland:

5 reasons to visit a California Welcome Center

Heading out to California for winter break? Great choice! There is so much to do and see in the Golden State, it will take you a lifetime to do and see it all. I've lived here for over 20 years, and I'm discovering new things all the time. 

If you're spending winter break in California, you probably already know where you're going... but you may not know exactly what you'll be doing. There's no shortage of "Things to Do in CA" articles and blogs and websites. It's difficult to know where to begin! One resource I've found invaluable is the website. Visit California is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting California as a tourism destination. You can find tons of suggestions for things to do in California on their website. If you prefer to do your travel research on the sofa instead of in front of a computer, you can order a free visitors guide, a glossy publication filled with stunning photographs that will make you want to book travel arrangements on the spot. 

However far in advance you like to plan your California trip, be sure to carve some time in your schedule once you're in California to drop by a California Welcome Center. There are 16 centers scattered throughout California, and they're well worth a visit. On our recent trip to Southern California, we stopped by the California Welcome Center in Buena Park. It's just 5 miles from Disneyland, 15 miles from Huntington Beach, 20 miles from John Wayne Airport and 20 miles from Los Angeles. We were so glad we did. Here are five reasons why it's worth your time:

2017 Disneyland holiday trading pins

You know you're a Disney geek when you can spend a full day inside a Disney park without getting on a single ride. There are so many other things to entertain you: the shows, the parades, the shopping, the dining experiences... and the pin trading.

If you like Disney characters and memorabilia, you'll love Disney pin trading and collecting. Half the fun is shopping for bright, shiny, new pins, and the other half is trading pins. You can trade with other pin collectors, or you can trade with cast members around the park. We started collecting and trading pins in 2012, and have been enjoying it ever since.

Disney releases new pins year round, but I have a soft spot for the holiday pin trading, because Disney's holiday pin designs are so stinking cute (click here to view some of Disney's holiday pins from past years).  Also, I love the fact that you can't get these pins at any other time of the year. Here are some of the cutest Disney holiday pins that I ran into this year:

Halloween Costume Watch 2017: The Pea

Every Halloween I like to blog about the costumes we're wearing and how we made them. I usually feature each member of the family, but this year I have to make it a one-man show.

This year, The Pea decided to go all out for her high school's Spirit Week, which is held the week before Halloween. For each day of Spirit Week, classes (freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors) are assigned different themes, and students dress up in that theme. Every day, each class nominates two students to represent their class in a costume contest. Each day, Pea came up with a costume each day that got her nominated four days out of five, and won Best Costume twice (today's results aren't out yet, so hopefully she'll get a third trophy!).

There's no point in featuring anyone else's Halloween costumes. Mine is a store-bought Pooh onesie. 3Po and Jammy haven't even started planning their costumes. They'll probably wear one of The Pea's costumes.  Alfie isn't even wearing a costume. This year, all the oohs and ahhs belong to The Pea. She totally deserves it.

Sweet memories of the Musem of Ice Cream San Francisco

Museum of Ice Cream SF

As a child, I always wanted to visit Willy Wonka's factory; today, I finally got the chance. I first heard about the Museum of Ice Cream (MOIC) last summer, but since I had no plans to visit New York, I had to watch enviously as visitors sniffed wallpaper, sampled ice cream, and buried themselves in sprinkles. When they announced their latest pop-up installation in San Francisco, I knew I had to go. If you like ice cream and selfies, this is the museum for you! Keep reading to get the inside scoop (yes that's an ice cream pun!) on San Francisco's latest destination for the cool (another ice cream pun!) set:
Museum of Ice Cream SF