Kids Camp: Stone Age Time Travelers at Coyote Hills

One of my favorite local Bay Area parks is Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont, CA.  If you glance at my Instagram feed you will see that I'm there very often!  This is my go-to-park for spending time outdoors with my children by hiking, biking, nature walks and visiting the Butterfly Garden.

Not only does Coyote Hills provide great outdoor activities, they also have many family events throughout the year and are very involved with the local community!  If you are located in the San Francisco Bay Area, Coyote Hills has a special kid summer program that I'm very excited to tell you about...

Kids Camp: Stone Age Time Travelers

Photo by East Bay Regional Park District

Play outdoors and practice skills once needed to survive everyday life in the ancient wilds!
  • Learn to create shelter, fire, cordage and tools.
  • Discover edible and useful plants.
  • Play games of the past and visit an Ohlone Village site.
  • Embark on a fun-filled Stone Age journey through hands-on wilderness skills and nature awareness practices.

When: July 20-23, 2015 [4 days]

Time: 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

At this outdoor day camp event kids (ages 9-13), can play and learn local outdoor skills that bring confidence and boost self-esteem.  As a parent, it's always exciting to see my kids learn new skills especially when it's a skill that doesn't require modern technology.  From making Cattail mats to fire-making pump drills, this is fun day camp for kids to learn and be active outdoors this summer.

Photo by East Bay Regional Park District

How to Register

Registration by Phone: Call 1-888-327-2757, option 2

Cost: $200 for residents of Alameda & Contra Costa counties / $220 for non-residents

For Ages: 9-13

Registrations Dates: May 19th - July 16th, 2015

For more information, please visit East Bay Regional Park District Facebook.

Please join Chasqui Mom's FacebookInstagramPinterestGoogle+ and Twitter that is updated daily with outdoor activities and other wonderful posts and links from #OutdoorFamilies!

Related Posts and Links:
  1. Backpacker Magazine - Oakland, CA: Red Hill, Coyote Hills Regional Park
  2. My Backyard Hike - Coyote Hills Regional Park
  3. Family Hiking Adventure Completed: 2013 Trails Challenge
  4. A Hike Before the Rain...

This is a sponsored post by East Bay Regional Park District.  As always these are my true and honest opinions. 

Outdoor Resources

Here is a collection of outdoor resources that I personally visit to gather information about anything outdoors for families and individuals.  From easy hikes, camping, backpacking with children, SUPing to exploring the outskirts of Alaska, these are my "go-to" resources I recommend.

Family Blogs and Websites

General Outdoor Blogs and Websites

Outdoor Non-Profit Organizations
  • Bay Area Wilderness Training: Supports teachers and youth workers with training, gear, funding, and community - helping you get youth outdoors.
  • Latino Outdooors: Connecting Leadership, Cultura & Communities with Nature, Conservation and the Great Outdoors.
Chasqui Mom Guest Posts

For more information please visit my Contact Me page.

Title Nine FitFest, Bravangelist Fitting and Bra Giveaway!

I was recently invited to a Title Nine Media Only Bra FitFest in Berkeley, California.  I feel like someone was reading my mind out there because I was in a dire need for a GOOD sports bra.  I'm about three months postpartum and a nursing mom...which means none of my pre-pregnancy sports bras fit.

I found it! 3-Reasons Support Bra

I was dreading to look for a sports bra because I have never found one I've actually liked, never mind one that I could nurse in!  With the help of a Title Nine "Bravangelist" aka bra experts, not only did she help me find a sports bra that I can hike, bike and run in but one that I can actually nurse in.

With a talk about my activities, a quick measurement and the fact that my bra size changes almost daily due to breastfeeding, my Bravangelist found me the perfect bra, 3-Reasons Support Bra, a review will be coming and keep reading for a chance to win a FREE bra!

A Little Bit About Title Nine...

  • They are evangelical about women's participation in sports and fitness activities
  • Title Nine was founded in 1989 in the San Francisco Bay Area and have 23 stores in the US.
  • Not only do they have bras galore, but they have a clothing line including swimsuits, active wear and the Skirts with Benefits - hidden shorts!

2015 Bra FitFest - SF Bay Area

Title Nine will be holding FitFest events throughout the spring and summer that spans cities across the country and include:

  • Personalized bra fitting advice from a "Bravangelist" expert
  • An expanded assortment of bras
  • Bras for all occasions from sports, work-to-workout, everyday and date night
  • A "Bounce-ath-a-lon" for those who want to put Title Nine bras to the test, with stations like hula hoop, jump rope, cup stacking, run around the block, hippity hop ball (picture above) & burpees.

For Bay Area FitFest locations area the following...

June 17-18, 10 am - 7 pm
218 N. Santa Cruz Avenue
Los Gatos, CA 95030

June 24-25, 10 am - 7 pm
208 Hamilton Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94301

July 15-16, 10 am - 6 pm
1637 Mt. Diablo Blvd
Walnut Creek, CA 94596

Anyone interested in participating should RSVP at the local Title Nine Retail Location.  Visit for a full list of cities and more information.  If you attend a FitFest make sure you FB, Instagram or Tweet a picture with the #T9FitFest

Title Nine Bra Giveaway!

Here's your chance to enter to win a Title Nine Bra!  Use the Rafflecopter below to enter the giveaway.  Please see below for giveaway details.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaway is open to anyone in the US and will include a personalized fitting (either in-store or by-phone, depending on location) and one (1) bra.  Winners within driving distance of a TitleNine store will be asked to redeem their prize at the closest/preferred retail location.  Giveaway is open from 6/12/15 until 11:59 pm PST 6/22/15.

I would like to thank Title Nine who invited me to the "Media Only" Bra FitFest for the purposes of this giveaway.  As always these are my true and honest opinions.

Join in on the conversation by leaving a comment here! You can also join in on the conversations on Chasqui Mom's FacebookInstagramPinterestGoogle+ and Twitter that is updated daily with outdoor activities and other wonderful posts and links from #OutdoorFamilies!

Confessions of a Pregnant Outdoor Mom

Pregnancy.  The Outdoors.  Being a Mom.  Can the three all mix?

If you followed me on social media over my recent pregnancy, you know I stayed active outdoors throughout my entire pregnancy. I loved all the encouragement from everyone from the social media world and people on the trail but....

Rock scrambling anyone? 20 weeks pregnant
I'm not going to lie, it was difficult at times to even get out the door.  With two kids in tow already, an ever growing pregnant belly and the fact that I just wanted to sleep, heading outdoors didn't seem as enticing.  As usual the rewards of heading outdoors, especially during pregnancy always made me better and I can honestly say I never came back saying "Well I wish I hadn't gone outdoors!".  Yet here are a few pregnancy confessions this outdoor mom would love to share with you.

NOTE: I am not a medical health professional but these are my own personal observations and suggestions based on my three HEALTHY pregnancies with the approval of my personal doctor.

Confession #1: Staying Active Outdoors ~ I Don't Want To

Before I became pregnant I was hiking, running, biking and lifting weights, but as my pregnancy progressed I slowly had to stop doing certain activities or reduce the intensity of these activities.  By the end of my pregnancy I was left with light hiking and walking but I vowed that I was going to stay active, especially in the outdoors.

In my first trimester biking with the kids.
My confession is that once the pregnancy hormones hit the fan, I just wanted to take a nap but there was always a force driving outdoors.  Most of the time it was my kids needing to go outside so they could run around like wild animals or the fact that I needed fresh air because every smell in my house made me want to vomit.  Whatever the reason even though I just wanted to nap, staying active outdoors was one of the best things I did in this pregnancy.

I had stopped hiking around 36 weeks but I continued walking EVERY day between 1-2 miles.  For more details about hiking while pregnant, please visit my post on Backpacker Magazine, "Bun in the Oven: Pregnant Hiking".

Confession #2: The Aches and Pain ~ Everything Hurts!

Everything hurts more when you are pregnant, so when you mix an outdoor activity it is hard to admit but every little joint hurts more than normal! Plus it takes longer to recover even from short  hikes due to the "wonderful" ligament laxity that is produced during pregnancy.  Whether I stayed home or headed outdoors everything still hurt, so Tylenol was my best friend.

36 weeks ~ I was trying to hike the baby out. [Photo by Daniel Barrantes]
Early in my pregnancy I continued road biking, but as my belly got larger different areas of my body started hurting more than I could take and sadly I had to stop biking in my second trimester.  Oddly enough, hiking and walking helped minimize the swelling in my hands, feet and other areas of my body.  Even though it took me longer to recover, I felt the "good" soreness of a workout and swelling was almost a non-issue in my last pregnancy.

Confession #3: Emotional "Stuff" ~ I Just Want to Cry

I'm not a really emotional person, but pregnancy changes everything.  It's those pregnancy hormones that make you worse than a Bridezilla.  Just kidding.  But only sort of.  I just wanted to cry some days, whether it was because of a stupid sappy commercial, my kids driving me insane, or simply the fact I couldn't see my feet anymore.

The outdoors helped regain my emotional stability on days when pregnancy, motherhood, and just plain life seemed like a big blur.  Personally, the outdoors is my time I spend talking with God, my husband and kids.  It sets the scene so my emotional status can get in check.  So on days when I felt like crying, I headed outdoors to get perspective on things and I always came back with a smile on my face.

Confession #4: Labor & Delivery Day ~ It Was Easy, Sort of...

I gave birth outdoors...just kidding!  But have you seen those ladies who do? It's a little much for me but there's a movement out there.  I can't directly say the outdoors made my labor easy, but I was active in the outdoors much longer than in  my previous pregnancies and the labor compared to my others were "easy".  Anyways, for those who are interested here's my "Labor Story":

5 minutes before birth!
Giving birth for the third time was easy, like to the point where the baby practically fell out of my body.   Waiting for the labor to actually start on the other hand was not easy.  I was 38 weeks pregnant and just miserable, everything took four times as long to do and I was constantly scared of peeing my pants in public.  Whether because I was actually going to pee my pants or afraid that water was going to break.  I was to the point where people just stared at my huge belly...I was "scary" pregnant.

My husband had decided that it was too much for me already to deal with our two kids and life so he decided to stay home until after I gave birth.  I remember a few hours before I went into labor, we were driving home from my son's preschool, I cried and prayed to God that I'd go into labor that night.

As usual, I had fake contractions the rest of the afternoon, but I distracted myself with housework due to the ferocious "nesting" stage I was in.  I was cleaning the house....I even had this urge to clean the windows on the outside of the house.  I just needed to do something, I wanted to go for a run but I just physically could not.

The "fake contractions" continued even through a video conference call I had for Latino Outdoors and we joked about that I might be in labor.

Later that night, after the kids went to bed, my husband and I were watching TV re-runs, when I finally admitted to my husband I thought I was in labor because things were getting a little painful.  I stretched, laid down a towel on the couch (thank goodness) before I decided to spend the rest of the night on the couch. I sat down on the couch and immediately my water broke.

After that it was kind of a blur, but the women from my familia came over (and my dad) and we headed over to the hospital.  Our beautiful baby boy was born before sunrise!

But for those who want to know....
  1. Medicine: I went into labor naturally but I didn't want to feel ANY pain so I had an epidural and the lowest amount of pitocin to get things rolling.
  2. Labor: I pushed the baby out in ONE push.  It took longer to prepare the room than to get the baby out.
  3. Recovery: My recovery has been amazing.  More to come on this but I was released early from the hospital and it's been a faster and better recovery than my previous births.
I confess, I'm so glad I'm done being pregnant but I will always cherish the lovely outdoor memories and adventures I had with this pregnancy.  The love of the outdoors starts from the womb and I know this little guy already loves it.

Confessions are good for the soul, especially pregnancy confessions! Leave a comment below with your pregnancy outdoor confession.

Related Posts and Links:
  1. Confessions of an Outdoor Mom
  2. The Family of Four Hikers is Growing to FIVE!
  3. Backpacker Magazine ~ Bun in the Oven: Pregnant Hiking
  4. "Sleeping Under the Stars" Family Project Completed!

Check out these other outdoor parents and their tips on staying active during pregnancy:

  1. Staying active outside: Pregnancy by Rockies Girl

Join in on the conversation by leaving a comment here! You can also join in on the conversations on Chasqui Mom's FacebookInstagramPinterestGoogle+ and Twitter that is updated daily with outdoor activities and other wonderful posts and links from #OutdoorFamilies!

Rheos Gear #LookAround Giveaway: Delta Gift Card & Shades

For more details please visit: Rheos Gear Official Contest Rules

I've partnered with a brand new outdoor gear brand, Rheos Gear who's mantra is very similar to mine:
"Whether it's an afternoon hike, a bike bike around the city, a boulder-climb at the park, we want to motivate people to get out and #lookaround.
I agree with their vision that you don't have to travel the world to find outdoor adventure but that the outdoor world is all around us and I'm glad to partner with their awesome new giveaway:

  • Grand Prize Winner: $500 Delta Gift Card and a full set of Rheos Sunglasses or 
  • First Place Prize (9 available): One full set of Rheos sunglasses.

Enter to win at: and to double your chances enter my special referral code:  CHASQUIMOM

You can also enter by submitting a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #LookAround and tagging @rheosgear

Keep an eye out for an upcoming gear review on Rheos sunglasses! Giveaway ends March, 30 2015 so enter today!

Join in on the conversation by leaving a comment here! You can also join in on the conversations on Chasqui Mom's FacebookInstagramPinterestGoogle+ and Twitter that is updated daily with outdoor activities and other wonderful posts and links from #OutdoorFamilies!

Food Reviews: Greenbelly Bars ~ Fuel for the Active Family

We are an active adventurous family.  Whether we are hiking, backpacking or cycling there is one thing as outdoor parents that is a major concern for the entire family....

Food = Energy

Greenbelly has created a new meal bar that was calling out to Chasqui Mom and family!  We might not hike or bike major distances because our of children but we do burn a lot of calories due to the amount of gear we carry in addition to "little humans"!

Greenbelly meal bars were created by founder, Chris Cage after his amazing hiking, backpacking and cycling adventures all throughout Asia, New Zealand and the Appalachian Trail.  Cage understood the necessity of quality, healthful nutrition that can keep an adventurer full.  Chasqui Mom and family tested all three flavors in three different activities: hiking, snow play and cycling.

Hiking with kids burns lots of calories! ~ Flavor: Peanut Apricot

  • Three Great Flavors ~ Peanut Apricot, Cranberry Almond and Dark Chocolate Banana.
  • All Natural Ingredients & Balance Nutrition ~ 33% of your daily calorie intake created by a food scientist and chef.
  • Lightweight ~ For us pack weight "worriers", Greenbelly meals weighs only 5.6 oz and has over 600 calories.
Great for long bike rides! Flavor: Chocolate Banana

The Pluses!

  • Meal Replacement or Added Snack  ~ Honestly, my husband and I are always in a "calorie deficit" when we go on long treks with our kids and Greenbelly meal bars are a great addition.  This will going in our backpacking food list and hopefully we don't wake up in the middle of the night hungry anymore!
  • All Natural for the Whole Family ~ Since we do everything as a family, my kids eat whatever we eat on the trail.  I gladly shared my Greenbelly meal bars with my kids knowing that it's all natural, not to mention that I was pregnant when I ate these.  I love giving my family nutritious natural foods.
  • Flavorful ~ Many energy bars taste, "blah" and even though they might provide the calories and energy needed, I just don't like eating them.  Greenbelly meal bars are flavorful and taste like the food listed on the packaging because they are made from REAL FOOD!  I thought Cranberry Almond would be my favorite, but I truly loved the Peanut Apricot even though I'm not a big peanut fan!
  • Socially Conscious ~ For every meal bar that is purchase, Greenbelly donates a meal to someone in need and has partnered with Leave No Trace to preserve the outdoors for the next generation, like my kids!

The Minuses

  • Packaging ~ I couldn't finish an entire package myself and would have liked to "zip" it up back into the packaging to snack on later.  Thankfully my kids and husband help with eating the rest of the meal bars!
  • Eating While Riding ~  The meals are a little large (but light) to eat while riding.  Even my husband, an experienced rider had to stop riding to open and eat the meal bars.  This was not an issue while hiking or any other outdoor activity.

I love partnering with new innovative companies with products that I would actually use in my outdoor lifestyle.  Greenbelly is a USA, Georgia based company making a great new food product that I fully endorse.  Hear from the founder himself ,Chris Cage ~ Greenbelly.

Starting March 3, 2015 Greenbelly is selling their awesome meal bars through their Kickstarter Project for a month.  For more information on on how to get some bars for your adventures, check out Greenbelly's Kickstarter Project: CLICK HERE.

I would like to thank Greenbelly who provided this product for the purposes of this review.  As always these are my true and honest opinions.

Join in on the conversation by leaving a comment here! You can also join in on the conversations on Chasqui Mom's FacebookInstagramPinterestGoogle+ and Twitter that is updated daily with outdoor activities and other wonderful posts and links from #OutdoorFamilies!-

Becoming a National Park Service Junior Ranger

One of the great programs that the National Park Service provides is the Junior Ranger Program.
The Junior Ranger motto is...

"Explore, Learn and Protect!"

The NPS Junior Ranger Program is:
"An activity based program conducted in almost all parks, and some Junior Ranger programs are national.  Many national parks offer young visitors the opportunity to join the National Park Service "family" as Junior Rangers.  Interested youth complete a serious of activities during a park visit, share their answers with a park ranger, and receive an official Junior Ranger patch and Junior Ranger certificate.  Junior Rangers are between the ages of 5 to 13, although people of all ages can participate." 
[United States. National Park Service. "Junior Rangers | National Park Service." National Parks Service. U.S. Department of the Interior, n.d. Web. 19 Jan. 2015. <>.]
We had the opportunity to visit John Muir National Historic Site, which was John Muir's home in Martinez, California in the San Francisco Bay Area during the early 1900's.  We had a lovely family picnic on the grounds just as I imagined John Muir and his family did many times!

While visiting the Visitor Center, we were pleased to find out that our son was finally old enough to participate in the Junior Ranger program so we acquired the Junior Ranger booklet and began the program.

After completing a serious of booklet activities which included:
  • Answering questions
  • Scavenger Hunt in John Muir's home
  • Detective Time
  • Drawings
  • Observing a Tree
  • Investigating Reporting

We were able to proceed with our son's "Junior Ranger Pledge" with NPS Ranger Jim! [Video]

My son was so happy he was finally a Junior Ranger that after he got his badge, we headed for a hike on Mount Wanda, which was named after one of John Muir's daughter!

Chasqui Mom, Junior Ranger David and NPS Ranger Jim

Hiking on Nature Trail on Mount Wanda, John Muir National Historic Site
It's very special to my husband and I, that my son was able to become a Junior Ranger at John Muir's home and then we were able to hike on the same trails that John Muir hiked with his children.  It was a very fitting for the occasion!

Thank you National Park Service and Ranger Jim, from the bottom of our hearts!

Related Post and Links:

  1. Backpacker Magazine: Oakland, CA: Mt. Wanda, John Muir National Historic Site

Join in on the conversation by leaving a comment here! You can also join in on the conversations on Chasqui Mom's FacebookInstagramPinterestGoogle+ and Twitter that is updated daily with outdoor activities and other wonderful posts and links from #OutdoorFamilies!-

"Sleeping Under the Stars" Family Project Completed!

I am very glad that at the beginning of the year, we inadvertently started an awesome family camping project which has brought us many cherished family memories.  We nicknamed it  "Sleeping Under the Stars".  Twelve months later we have "completed" our family project's goal which was to...

Camp outdoors for at least one night, each month for the entire year

Now you may ask why there are quotes around "completed".  If I had followed my own rules, we should have camped in December but we didn't.  Why?  Well it wasn't because the weather was bad (Is the weather in California ever bad?) or that we did not have time.  The reason was my pregnancy...our last camping trip was pretty painful to sleep on my luxury camping pad, I knew that it would only get worse if we camped a month later.

But the "Sleeping Under the Star" results are in...
  • 21 nights camping, over 11 months in 12 different campsites in two states
  • We camped at five (5) California State Parks, two (2) National Parks, two (2) Regional Parks, one (1) Private Campground
  • One WHOLE week of continuous camping and two successful backpacking trips with our toddlers in tow!
I still haven't had a chance to write about all the locations we visited but I still wanted to share the bits and pieces our year long project!  So here I go!!

January 2014 ~ Half Moon Bay State Beach: Francis Campground - Half Moon Bay, California

Camping by the beach is always fun, throw in a Mavericks surfing competition, friends, and crazy big waves and it becomes very memorable! The huge crashing waves sounded like fireworks all night long.  Half Moon Bay was a great location to start our project.

California winter camping is beautiful, especially when we were having record break warm temperatures for February! We spent a Valentines Day grilling up the BEST heart-shaped rib eye steak and enjoying the California coast with our little family!  We love camping by the beach.

When you think of Orange County, camping is not usually the first thing that comes to mind but we had a very relaxing time at O'Neill Regional Park Campground.  Dry creek exploration along with a visit by some beautiful tropical birds definitely ranked high on our "outdoor fun" list!

We love to road-trip! Throw in some camping are we bound for a great time.  We made a one-night stop at Pismo State Beach on our way to Los Angeles.  We had some delicious Mexican food that night and enjoyed sand dollar collecting the next morning before continuing on down the road to LA.

Our first family backpacking trip of the year with so many firsts! From rattlesnakes, to carrying in our own water, to trying some dehydrated meals, this hike-in campsite was a great way test out the "backpacking with toddlers" water again!

June 2014 ~ Sequoia National Park: Dorst Creek Campground and Pear Lake (Backpacking)

Our longest camping trip EVER! Six blissful days at Dorst Creek Campground in Sequoia National Park.  Wildlife visits everyday and countless memories made on this little piece of National Park.

We decided to incorporate a overnight backpacking trip at Sequoia National Park and do an overnight backpacking trip to Pear Lake.  The kids had a blast on this 7 mile (14 mile Round Trip) in and out hike to Pear Lake, and our 4 year old son hiked the ENTIRE way!

July 2014 - Lake Camanche: South Shore Campground - Valley Springs, California

When we camp, we normally just camp with our family and a few close friends! But once a year we attend my church family camping trip of about 100 people!  This campground might not be my first choice but it sure does have a great place to cool off: Lake Camanche.  A great "plus" of someone else organizing the camp is that someone else does all the cooking!

Pregnant Camping Month #1: This was also the first month, of "Pregnant Camping" but no one knew about it yet except my husband and I!

August 2014 - Salt Point State Park: Woodside Campground - Jenner, California

Not only do we love camping with our children, but we love taking our Jr. High and High School students from my church, camping!  Thanks to our partners at Latino Outdoors, we were able to take our group camping at Salt Point State Park.  Our students hiked through the Pygmy Forest, played soccer on a beautiful Northern California beach, learned to chop wood, make fire, and cook over an open flame!

Pregnant Camping and Hiking Month #2: This is where I started noticing how even in early in my first trimester, I needed lots of WATER and snacks!

September 2014 - Mount Diablo State Park: Live Oak Campground - Clayton, California

I wouldn't call this a "failed" camping trip, but we were so confident in our camping skills we failed to check something very important, our cooking options.  We planned to cook all via firewood but didn't realize because of the drought and Mt. Diablo's fire danger level we could only use stoves and coals.  Thankfully we brought our backpacking stove which we used a lot during our one-night camping trip on the "Devil Mountain"!

Pregnant Camping Month #3: I needed to bring more padding and pillows for my ever growing belly.

October 2014 - Shenandoah National Park: Big Meadows Campground - Stanley, Virgina

I think this was our most memorable overnight camping trip because it was our only "Out-of-State" camping trip, we were dying for cold weather and we finally got to test out how warm our tent and sleeping bags kept our little family!  We still had some hiccups, like not being able to find the water spigot until the morning and running out of diapers. YIKES!

Pregnant Camping Month #4: For some reason this was the best night of sleep I remember so far in my pregnancy!

November 2014 - Spring Lake Regional Park: Group Campground - Santa Rosa California

Photo Credit Latino Outdoors
As a Regional Coordinator of Latino Outdoors I was able to get my Wilderness First Aid Training Certification!  That was a goal that I really wanted to complete this year.  Of course the training was held outdoors and we camped for two nights at Spring Lake Regional Park! Not only did I get my certification, my children were able to come along, my husband and fellow church youth worker Nate also got their certification!  Thank you so much Latino Outdoors!

Pregnancy Camping Month #5: This was was pretty rough couple nights sleeping, even with lots of pillows, and thus ended camping for 2014.

Chasqui Mom Last Thoughts...

We had a BLAST camping this entire year!  This family project started off as a "well let's take advantage of the warm winter weather" and turned into an epic year of camping and backpacking for my family.  It has helped us become better campers, our kids LOVE camping and ask to camp all the time now.  Many more posts will come of this project because I have experienced so much and can't wait to impart the things we have learned enjoying to be outdoors as a family.

Related Posts and Links:

  1. "Sleeping Under the Stars" Family Project

Join in on the conversation by leaving a comment here! You can also join in on the conversations on Chasqui Mom's FacebookInstagramPinterestGoogle+ and Twitter that is updated daily with outdoor activities and other wonderful posts and links from #OutdoorFamilies!-

This Outdoor Mom is a Nuunbassador!

Got the news recently that Nuun has chosen me, Chasqui Mom to be one of their 2015 Nuun Ambassador or as Nuun calls it a Nunnbassador!  Looking forward to representing Nuun in the upcoming year.

For those who don't know about Nuun, it's an electrolyte tab that hydrates without the sugar (carbohydrates). Personally, I started drinking Nuun over Summer 2014 because I became pregnant, was still very active and couldn't stay hydrated when hiking, running and particularly road biking with my kids.

Staying hydrated while being active during pregnancy is a MUST!

Since then Nuun has become a staple in our house...sometimes it was the only thing this pregnant woman could stomach to drink!  It gave me a little boost during my outdoor activities and my kids LOVE drinking Nuun.

I'm not a fast hiker, runner or cyclist but I'd like to thank Nuun for picking Chasqui Mom, an active outdoor loving mom who will represent parents enjoying the outdoors as a family, staying fit and hydrated!

Keep your eye out for things to come on Chasqui Mom and make check out Nuun's social media on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter along with their #NuunLove #StayHydrated hashtags!

Join in on the conversation by leaving a comment here! You can also join in on the conversations on Chasqui Mom's FacebookInstagramPinterestGoogle+ and Twitter that is updated daily with outdoor activities and other wonderful posts and links from #OutdoorFamilies!

A Little Bit of the Outdoors Indoors: Christmas Tree Chopping

It's been somewhat of a tradition since I was a teenager for my family and I to head out to the "mountains" to chop down our Christmas Tree.  We started this tradition when my family moved up to the San Francisco Bay Area from Southern California and it's a tradition that my husband and I have continued with our children!

Now it's a multi-generational extended family event that usually ends up being a great day roaming around the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains with my family, and when I say 'my family,' I mean my WHOLE FAMILIA!!  Grandparents, parents, aunts, cousins, brothers, sisters all join in on the fun.

This year adventure included only 13 people of my family....we were still missing about half!

Christmas Tradition

Generally, those who celebrate Christmas have a Christmas Tree, whether they chop it down themselves, go to a neighborhood Christmas tree lot, buy an artificial tree or buy a planted tree.  My family doesn't have too many "set in stone" traditions but this is one that we have kept for a long time.  Why?

  • We all love the adventure of going and cutting our own Christmas Tree down.
  • The house smells like pine for a long time and the trees last a long time.
  • The children in my family take more "ownership" of the Christmas Tree.
  • It's a great chance to build long lasting family memories in the outdoors and an opportunity for my family to gather all together which is quite a task in itself!

I love watching all my nephews, cousins and my own children run around the farm looking for the PERFECT Christmas Tree, playing hide seek and in particular watching them slide down the muddy hills!

Watching the kids chop down their own tree is always a great treat especially when they can yell "Timber!!"

Even though the San Francisco Bay Area doesn't get "real winter" a.k.a. snow, we still have signs of winter....

Bay Area Christmas Tree Farms

There are many Christmas tree farms around the Bay Area, but I've only seen farms in primarily heading out to Half Moon Bay and towards the Santa Cruz Mountains.  We love going to Jim & Vicky's Christmas Tree at the end of  Black Road Christmas Tree Farms in Los Gatos, California.

Christmas Tree Price: $50 any size (Price as of 2014)
Equipment Provided: Saw, twine and instructions to cut the tree
Location: 20381 Black Road, Los Gatos, CA 95033 
Opening: Friday after Thanksgiving from 8 a.m. to dark

They are a small "Mom & Pop" friendly farm, very friendly and they always give out cookies and candy canes to everyone!  The farm has "Manly/Womanly" hilly side and the "Sissy" flat side as Jim says jokingly, but there are lots of Douglas Fir trees and a smaller section of Blue Spruce trees.  Jim also explains that cutting the tree will NOT kill the tree if directions are followed, and a new tree will grow!

There are MANY Christmas Tree farms on Black Road but we have always gone to  Jim and Vicky's Christmas Trees because we love supporting "Mom & Pop" operations!

I highly suggest adventuring out to chop down your own Christmas Tree.  There are even some regional parks and national forest areas where you can cut your own tree with a permit for free.  But a little research must be made in your area to find locations like those!  Christmas tree farms might be a little more expense that Christmas Tree lots but I think it's worth the investment.

Lots of family memories can be made by bringing a little bit of the outdoors indoors for Christmas!

Join in on the conversation by leaving a comment here! You can also join in on the conversations on FacebookInstagramPinterestGoogle+ and Twitter that is updated daily with outdoor activities and other wonderful posts and links from #OutdoorFamilies!

Dawn Day in the Wildlife: Saving the Birds at International Bird Rescue

This is a sponsored post by Dawn and the third post of a four-series posts on my experiences with #DawnDayintheWildlife.  To read the series posts please click HERE.

My first memories of Dawn were the commercials with the adorable ducklings being washed with Dawn dish soap, and I would be lying if I said I hadn't shed a tear or two watching those commercials!  Now thanks to Dawn I met Andrew Harmon, Director of Marketing and Communications of  the International Bird Rescue (IBR).  Andrew spoke to the group of us #DawnDayintheWildlife bloggers at The Marine Mammal Center about Dawn's partnership with the IBR.

The California Brown Pelican and Gulls
The IBR is in Fairfield, California, only about an hour from our Bay Area home, so I was invited to extend my #DawnDayintheWildlife experience by visiting a great rescue center for birds.  I was really excited that I was able to take the rest of my family because my children really love wildlife, and particularly birds, but I explained to my children that we were visiting a "Bird Hospital" and we might see some birds with injuries.

Indeed that is exactly what it looked like a "Bird Hospital"!

The Examination

We quietly observed a Gull being examined, this particular Gull had a wing injury.  A fisherman found him with a fishing hook puncturing his wing, so he captured and took it to a local animal shelter.  This Gull had already been patched up by the animal shelter but the IBR volunteers had to examine the injury and redress the injury.

Body, Injured Wing and Head Examination
During the examination, the volunteers want to have the least "human interaction" with the bird, since it is a wild bird and they want the bird to stay wild.  Andrew explained the reason the bird's head is covered with the towel is to have the least amount of eye contact and only during the head examination is the head uncovered.  Some more aggressive birds might even lunge to peck a person's eyes, so the least amount of eye contact the better!

As for my children, I had to explain to them that we had to be VERY quiet so the bird wouldn't get scared.  I think because the bird had an "owie" the children were very quiet and concerned for the gull.  They understood that the bird "doctors" were making the gull feel better!  I am very thankful to the IBR for allowing my children to experience a little bit of #DawnDayintheWildlife.

The Cleaning Process and Facilities

We were able to visit the IBR's cleaning and rehabilitation rooms and of course the donated Dawn dish soap was on display everywhere!

When birds come covered in oils, the volunteers need to clean the birds.  The oils are very dangerous to the birds because the unnatural oils allow the birds to get wet as well as possibly chemically burning their skin or eyes.  There is a process in how the birds are taken care of which usually follows the routine of washing, rinsing, drying, waterproofing and release.  We did not observe the whole process since there were no other birds than the gull being currently attended but below you can experience a "Real Wildlife Release with Dawn" and see the the process from beginning to end!

From the washing rooms bird are transferred to drying cages.  The cages are for all sizes of aquatic bird, some even large enough to hold a California Brown Pelican.  The IBR works hard to save all these beautiful birds by partnering with volunteers, other organizations and companies including oil companies. These volunteers spend countless hours washing, feeding, constructing drying racks so these birds can have a chance for survival once they are returned to their natural habitats.

On the outside of the IBR facilities, we were able to see the warming tanks (as explained in the video) as well as some birds in the last stage of their "stay" at the IBR.  The whole family was excited to get a sneak peak on the birds and we silently cheered when we saw the birds swimming in their pools.

We even saw the resident Egret who was treated at the IBR and release in the nearby marshes but it loved it's stay so much that it returns to visit regularly!

Chasqui Mom's Last Thoughts...

My absolute favorite part of our visit was the aviary cage for more reasons than one.  Earlier during our visit I saw a Gull being treated for an injury and to be completely honest, I wasn't too found of gulls.  Why? Well because I viewed them as annoying birds who would always try to steal my chips at the beach or attack dumpsters scavenging for food.

Just like many things in life, until I educated myself about the "thing" I didn't like I viewed it as an annoyance.  I saw all birds, and in particular the Gull, in a different light after visiting the IBR because they are wild birds.  Sadly our human actions have affected their "wildness" and these formerly "annoying" birds are as beautifully wild as the California Brown Pelican.

Now when I'm hiking with my children along the San Francisco Bay, it brings a smile to my face to think that maybe one of the birds flying along was a bird saved by the International Bird Rescue.

Nature applauds the efforts of the International Bird Rescue and Dawn.  I applaud them for giving nature a boost so my children can enjoy it for future generations to come.

A few facts about the IBR:
Photo Courtesy of the International Bird Rescue
  •  There are two centers (bird hospitals) in California: The San Francisco Bay Area and another in the Southern California.
  • The IBR saves seabirds and aquatic birds affected by man-made and natural disasters such as oil-spills and marine trash from around the world since 1971.
  • From Alaska to Argentina to South Africa, the IBR can send emergency response teams to help when disasters hit these beautiful birds.
  • In 1978, IBR founder Alice Berkner discover that Dawn worked best cutting the oil off of birds and since 1988 Dawn began its partnership with IBR.
  • The IBR has about 200 volunteers!

I would like to thank Dawn who provided this sponsored trip.  As always these are my true and honest opinions.

Related Posts and Links:
  1. Dawn's Day in the Wildlife on the California Coast
  2. Dawn Day in the Wildlife: The Marine Mammal Center Volunteers & Family Outdoor Education
  3. International Bird Rescue: Every Bird Matters (Official Web Page)

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Thankful for TWO Years! New Logo and National Parks Pass

TWO years have gone by since I started Chasqui Mom! I'm so thankful and happy for all the opportunities I have had, the great people I have met through social media and subsequently "in real life" because of this blog.

I'm so excited for new things to come but first I'd like to share a little something I've been working on with my graphic designer: Tipton Designs...

I finally have a beautiful logo for my blog!  It completely encompasses my motto, "Loving nature through hiking, backpacking and anything outdoors as a family."  A bit of Peru, family and the outdoors!

Highlights of Chasqui Mom's Year Two

Our favorite adventure, year two of "Chasqui Mom" is one that I haven't even written about yet.  During our week long vacation in Sequoia National Park, we had a one-night family backpacking trip to Pear Lake and it was absolutely breathtaking.

It was very hard, the air was thin, the mountain was steep, and our packs were heavy, but our hearts were happy to be high up in the mountains with our children.  Pear Lake holds lots of great memories that I will soon write about.  That has been one of my favorite hiking adventures of this year.

If you hadn't noticed, we LOVE National Parks! To celebrate my two years of "Chasqui Mom", I will be giving away one (1) US National Parks Annual Pass (value $80) because I want you and your family to enjoy National Parks as much as we do!
  • This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and at least 18 years old.
  • Contest starts November 7, 2014 12:00 a.m. PST until November 20, 2014 11:59 p.m. PST.
  • Winner will be announced a couple days after the giveaway has finished.
  • One (1) US National Parks Annual pass will be awarded after the entry has been validated  Details on the pass can be found HERE.
  • Please use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter the giveaway.  Winner will be selected at random by Rafflecopter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A few more changes will be occurring over the next few months in regards to the design of the website thanks to Marla of Tipton Designs, who is great graphic designer and a wonderful mother too! Thanks to her, I have my awesome new "Chasqui Mom" logo that I love!  So keep your eye out on some upgrades coming to!

Join in on the conversation by leaving a comment here! You can also join in on the conversations on FacebookInstagram and Twitter that is updated daily with outdoor activities and other wonderful posts and links from #OutdoorFamilies!

Hiking & Rock Scrambling: Bearfence Mountain ~ Shenandoah National Park


I could finish my post with that picture of the top of Bearfence Mountain.  Everyone around me in the East Coast kept saying, "Now remember our mountains are not like California mountains" but I've learned to love all my National Parks.  National Parks are like my children, you can't compare them to one another because that would be mean, and each one provides its own uniqueness.  Instead, I have learned to enjoy each child, in this case Virginia's Shenandoah National Park, for what it is.

I recently read "Wilderness Society's "15 National Parks for Fall Color" and Shenandoah was No.2 on their list, so I was very excited to visit during fall peak period.  We don't have as many "Fall Colors" in the San Francisco Bay Area as the East Coast does, so it was a nice change in weather and scenery for our family.

Appalachian Trail and Bearfence Mountain

As a family of hikers at heart, we were very excited to hike on the Appalachian Trail even if it was a tiny section of it.  Jennifer Chambers of Hiking Along also recommended Bearfence Mountain because it would give us 360 degree view of Shenandoah, its beautiful fall colors, and her recommendation did not disappoint.  She also knew that my toddlers would love rock scrambling at the top of Bearfence Mountain which they certainly did!

Our first steps on the Appalachian Trail near Bearfence Moutain.
Trail Directions & Description: Parking lot is off of mile marker 56 on Skyline Dr in Shenandoah National Park.  If you follow the Bearfence Mountain Trailhead Kiosk, this is a 1.2 mile circuit hike with less than 300 ft elevation.  We took the first turnoff to the viewpoint so the hike was shorter than 1.2 miles and took us about 1.5-2 hours.

For more detailed trail information please visit: Lewis Mountain Area Road and Trail Map (National Park Service)

The trail starts off with wooden steps which always motivates my son to hike more than an uphill trail with no steps.  I don't know why but he loves going uphill on stairs but he loves to race to the top...I'm just happy he's not complaining about going uphill!

My boy on the crossroads of the AT and Bearfence Mountain Trail

We went south on the Appalachian Trail, to the 180 degree Bearfence Mountain view point.  It was a very slight up hill with a partial stone trail, easy enough for my 3 and 4 year old children and I, a 5 month pregnant lady!  The overall elevation change is about 300 ft, which is like going up a small hill but it still was a good little workout for us.

It was a very beautiful cool fall hike up to the view point, where we took a little break to enjoy the amazing views looking unto the west of Shenandoah National Park.  We had promised our children as we left Big Meadows campground that we would find more ladybugs and caterpillars on our hike.  Of course the second we sat down we found the fuzzy caterpillars and the bright red ladybugs.

180 degree Bearfence Mountain View Point.  Oh beautiful fall!
At the time we were a little confused because Jennifer Chambers had told us there was 360 degree view point, and we walked around looking for it but then we realized that we'd find it during the rock scramble.  The kids thoroughly enjoyed the first view point but they heard that we were going "rock climbing" aka rock scrambling and they were itching to go climb!

Time to Family Rock Scramble!

The New Outdoor Experiences.....

We experienced two new outdoor "aspects" on our hike to Bearfence Mountain:

  1. Rock Scrambling: It'ts kind of a hybrid of hiking and rock climbing, with no ropes or climbing gear and not really on a traditional trail.  For a more detailed description of rock scrambling please visit "Basic Rock Scrambling".  The difficulty of  Bearfence Mountain rock scramble climb was easy enough for my four year old son and a five month pregnant Chasqui Mom to complete.  Granted we were still very cautious and hand guided our son down certain sections of the way. Note: There is both an uphill and downhill rock scrambling on Bearfence Mountain.
  2. Trail Blazing:  This isn't very common in California, or at least in the San Francisco Bay Area.  What is it? It's a painted mark on rocks, posts or trees to designate the way or trail.  I can see how someone can easily get lost with all the foliage/snow covering the ground or in this case the trail on the rocks (see middle picture in collage).  It also provided a "game" for our children to find the next blaze on the trail, kind of like hide-and-seek for toddlers.
But the best new outdoor experience was seeing Shenandoah National Park in its most beautiful time of the year and enjoying the 360 degree view of this awesome park from the top of Bearfence Mountain!

View of the west 1st picture, view of the east
I would highly recommend this hike if visiting Shenandoah National Park, especially during Fall.  It's a great short hike with a kick that families with little ones can enjoy, not to mention amazing views of the park and the great feeling a "conquering" a mountain with toddlers.

Thanks again to Jennifer Chambers of Hiking Along who recommended Bearfence Mountain for our adventurous family.  That is the great thing about being a blogger is that I get to meet like-minded people who instinctively know where we can enjoy the outdoors to the fullest!

Also if you are in the Washington DC greater area.  Chambers newest book "Best Hikes with Kids: Washington, DC, The Beltway and Beyond" would be a great resource to find family friendly hikes.  Bearfence Mountain is listed as a "difficult family hike" in the book due to the rock scrambling, but it is highly recommended by Chambers.

Hike Date: October 20, 2014

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Dawn Day in the Wildlife: The Marine Mammal Center Volunteers & Family Outdoor Education


This is a sponsored post by Dawn and the second post of a four-series posts on my experiences with #DawnDayintheWildlife.  To read the first post on the series please click HERE.

As part of our "Day Day in the Wildlife" at The Marine Mammal Center (TMMC), I had the opportunity to shadow a volunteer cleaning the center and possibly making fish milkshakes! Unfortunately, due to infectious diseases that can be passed from mammals to humans during pregnancy, it was highly recommended to not participate in the "active volunteering" part of the event.

Photo Courtesy of Susan Goldman
I was a little disappointed but being early in my pregnancy I didn't want to take any risks.  That just meant I spent more time getting to know the wonderful Kathy Crawford, Education Volunteer.

Before I dive into all the work volunteers do a TMMC, thanks to Dawn and their camera crew you can hear exactly what the center provides for families looking for outdoor education and adventure from Kathy herself!

Getting to Know Kathy Crawford, Education Volunteer

Dawn had paired me up with an Education Volunteer like Kathy because she is also a mom and they knew how much I love wildlife and the outdoors!  Thanks to people like Kathy many children can learn about marine mammals and what they can do to protect animals from getting injured.

It was very inspiring to listen and learn about Kathy's path that led her to volunteer at TMMC.  Being a single mother of three children in Michigan, she didn't have time to volunteer, or any ocean nearby.  She wanted to be a marine biologist in college but life ended up taking her on another path.

A couple of years ago, Kathy visited TMMC and decided that if she ever moved to the San Francisco Bay Area that she would definitely wanted to become a volunteer.  Last year, Kathy moved to the area and she was able to live out her dream and work with marine mammals primarily in Education but also volunteers in the "Stranding and Releases" areas.

As a youth worker myself, an icebreaker question I love to ask to get conversations rolling is "What is your favorite animal?" and Kathy immediately answered: "Harbor Seals," which led to one of Kathy's favorite volunteer experience which is so touching....
"The one that really touched me was when we had a very premature harbor seal name Myclovial.  She was very weak and still covered with fur.  She was unable to keep down formula, so we knew she wouldn't have any chance of getting better without nutrition.  Normally we do not hold the animals very long, but she was so close to death that my supervisor said I could hold her after we tube-fed her to keep her head up and hopefully keep her meal down.  It worked.
But by the third meal, she was really limp and I knew that she probably wasn't going to make it.  When I was holding her, she grabbed my finger with her flipper.  I felt like she was saying goodbye to me.  She died a couple days later, but I just felt we did everything we could and that felt very good." ~ Kathy Crawford, Education Volunteer
With that touching story, the Harbor Seal is now my favorite marine mammal.  Kathy spent the rest of the morning teaching me the differences between harbor seals and sea lions and what to do in case we find a injured or stranded marine mammal.

Photo (Left and Right) Courtesy of Susan Goldman.

FYI, Sea lions have little ears and large flippers and harbor seals don't.

Seals & Slippers: Sleep Under the Stars and Summer Camps

Another great program Kathy talked about was the "Seals & Slippers" family program! Families can register to camp at TMMC courtyard and fall asleep under the beautiful night sky with the sounds of the Pacific Ocean and sea lions!

Photo Courtesy of The Marine Mammal Center
This great program allows children participate in fish dissections, observe sea lion feedings, go on a guided hike and most importantly spend quality time with their families!  My family will probably join in on the fun once my children are old enough.  For more information about this program please visit The Marine Mammal Center website.

Sea Quest is 5-day education summer day camp where children from elementary grades 1st-6th, can explore marine science and ocean conservation!  For more information on Sea Quest please visit The Marine Mammal Center website.

A few more amazing facts about TMMC Volunteers:
  1. TMMC has 1100 volunteers annually!  With only 45 paid staff members this organization is primarily run by volunteers.
  2. All volunteers must be trained depending in the area training can last two days to ongoing "on the job" training.
  3. Volunteers can be as young as 15 years old and can be part of the "Youth Crew".
  4. TMMC also provide externships, which provides veterinary students in their final/clinical year to gain experiences under the guidance of veterinary staff/volunteers.
  5. Volunteers are located in three different locations in Northern California and in Kona, Hawaii!

Chasqui Mom Last Thoughts...

I was truly blown away by how TMMC is run by so many volunteers!  These are people who give their time to saving these animal whether its actually working with animals or volunteering for an administrative position in the office.  Volunteers are vital to TMMC completing their mission...
"Our mission is to expand knowledge about marine mammals - their health and that of their ocean environment - and to inspire their global conservation." -- The Marine Mammal Center
Thanks to the volunteers like Kathy Crawford and partnerships like TMMC and Dawn, these beautiful animals have a great chance in surviving.

I would like to thank Dawn who provided this sponsored trip.  As always these are my true and honest opinions.

Related Posts:
  1. Dawn's Day in the Wildlife on the California Coast 
  2. Dawn Day in the Wildlife: Saving the Birds at International Bird Rescue

Join in on the conversation by leaving a comment here! You can also join in on the conversations on Chasqui Mom's FacebookInstagram and Twitter that is updated daily with outdoor activities and other wonderful posts and links from #OutdoorFamilies!

Muddy Munchkins Boots by MyMayu ~ Gear Review + Giveaway

I truly believe that whether in your backyard or on the trails, being active outdoors is something essential for families, especially families with toddlers, even when the grass, cement and dirt is all wet! Children love nature when it's muddy, or when there are lots of puddles to explore, and having the appropriate footwear is as essential as having the proper clothing.

Featured: Muddy Munchkins Boot by MyMayu [Gray/Fairy, Size 7/8]
Over the last few years I've run into many issues with inadequate footwear for my toddlers.  It's been hard to figure out the right shoes for my toddlers when we go outside to play in our neighborhood or if we head out to the backcountry.  I was very glad to discovered Muddy Munchkins Boots by MyMayu that even as I read their Mission Statement...
"MyMayu was created out of necessity: a little boy without proper boots wanted to follow his big brother in the rain.  Too many puddle jumping sessions had been cut short by face-plants in the water because of bulky, clunky rubber boots that were too big, too heavy and made him trip.  There had to be a better boot."
I knew MyMayu, a Canadian company, understood the needs of my child who enjoys playing in the mud but not getting soggy, muddy feet! Why? Because the owners are parents themselves who love the outdoors and understand toddlers needs! Not only did I have the chance to review these awesome boots but MyMayu is giving away a pair in this gear review, so keep reading and enter below for a chance to win one for your toddler! [Giveaway has ended]

Side Note: I'm particularly fond of the name of this company because it's part Quechua! MyMayu means My "River".  Chasqui Mom approved!

  • Water-Repellent Boots (not waterproof) and Ultra Lightweight for infants/toddlers
  • Three-Season Boot (Spring, Summer and Fall) w/Fleece Liner option for colder temperatures
    • Helio Fleece Liner (Optional) Retail Price $16.95
  • Multiple Toggles at the knee and ankle to protect from water splashing
  • Compact storage due to collapsible upper section
  • MM by MyMayu Boot Retail Price: $48.95 ~ 18 different colors and designs!
  • Current Toddler Shoe Sizes: 1/2, 3/4, 5/6, 7/8 
  • Made in North America, BPA Free, Vegan and Quick Drying.

The Pluses!

The MM Boots by MyMayu, size 7/8 were tested by my three year old daughter who LOVES to get muddy.  These boots were tested in the San Francisco Bay Area on grass, mud, cement, shallow puddles and on the dirt trails.  

  • Lightweight ~ I think this is my favorite feature of these boots.  My daughter has had the hardest time finding shoes she can comfortably walk, run and hike in.  All other shoes, including her hiking shoes, make her trip a lot.  MM Boots provides all the protection from the elements but with no cost in weight, which means my toddler can play freely.
  • Water-Repellent ~ Nothing is worse than soggy feet, period.  My daughter was able to splash around in shallow puddles, wet grass, very muddy trails and her feet stayed dried.  It's a great boot for a rainy or misty day.
  • Quick Drying ~ After an morning of walking around in the rain and splashing in puddles, I was scared that the boots would be wet for the rest of the day but they dried quickly and was ready to be worn again later in the afternoon on muddy trails.  Usually shoes take days to dry but the MM boot (without the fleece) dried within hours.
  • Great for Urban and Outdoor Play ~ Living the the San Francisco Bay Area sometimes I feel like I'm over doing it by making my kids wear their waterproof hiking boots/shoes to the playground or a short hike but I know that if their feet get wet then there will be lots of complaining and being carried.  These boots allow for freely playing in urban and outdoor play areas such as playground parks, nature trails to walking on city streets.  A very appropriate boot for outdoor play on wet days.
  • Tall Upper Section, Toggles and Helios Fleece ~ I still carry my daughter occasionally in the kid carrier and her little calves usually end up being exposed.  What is great about the MM Boots by MyMayu is that the tall upper section that has toggles right below the knee so if the pants ride up neither cold wind or rain can dribble down their little legs!  A second toggle is also around the ankle to keep the boot in place.  Also, if the Helios Fleece are inserted, it adds an extra layer of warmth and doesn't stick out of the boot.

The Minuses
  • Not Waterproof ~ Let's make this clear, the MM Boots are not waterproof and they don't claim to be but they are water repellent.  The difference is that wading through a creek or standing in deep puddles will let water seep in.  We like to test gear to its limits so my daughter stood in a very deep puddle to test the "Waterproof-ness".  To my surprise her socks and feet were damp but not soggy.  Still just to clarify these are not waterproof.
  • Limited Sizes (For Now) ~ Currently MyMayu only has toddler sizes 1-8, but the good news is that in Spring 2015, MyMayu plans to have all sizes from Toddler 1 to Youth 2 in both MuddyMunchkins and Aqua boots in stock.  Did I mention the Aqua boot WILL be waterproof?! Yay!
MyMayu Giveaway!

Here's your chance to win one (1) pair of Muddy Munchkins Boots and Helio Liners by MyMayu!

  • This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.
  • Contest starts October 9, 2014 12:00 a.m. PST until October 23, 2014 11:59 p.m. PST.
  • Winner will be announced a couple days after the giveaway has finished.
  • Your choice of boot and matching liner found HERE, granted that it's in stock, Toddler Size 1/2 to 7/8 only.

Please use the Rafflecopter below to submit your entries and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I would like to thank MyMayu who provided these product for the purposes of this review.  As always these are my true and honest opinions.

Join in on the conversation by leaving a comment here! You can also join in on the conversations on Chasqui Mom's FacebookInstagram and Twitter that is updated daily with outdoor activities and other wonderful posts and links from #OutdoorFamilies!

Dawn's Day in the Wildlife on the California Coast


This is a sponsored post by Dawn and the first post of a four-series posts on my experiences with #DawnDayintheWildlife.

Photo by Susan Goldman
"Loving nature through hiking, backpacking and anything outdoors as a family" is Chasqui Mom's motto.  Over the years of enjoying the outdoors with my family we have learned to respect, learn and PROTECT our environment especially wildlife.  Therefore, I was very excited when Dawn asked me to participate in "Dawn's Day in the Wildlife"  to experience how Dawn is involved in saving wildlife.

The only thing I knew about Dawn saving wildlife was from those super adorable commercials of oil covered ducklings being washed with Dawn and coming out as fluffy as can be, so I was very interested in learning how else Dawn was involved in saving wildlife at The Marine Mammal Center (TMMC) and the International Bird Rescue (IBR).  A collection of 11 bloggers were brought to the San Francisco Bay Area from all over the US and Canada to experience a tiny portion of what goes on at these great centers.  To say that I was blown away is an understatement...

The California Coast and The Marine Mammal Center

Many of you know I'm truly a California girl and a true California Coast nature lover.  My family and I have had the pleasure of viewing wild elephant seals and dolphins along the California Coast.

Elephant Seals at Año Nuevo State Park
It is amazing to see wildlife in their natural habitat but unfortunately many of these coastal marine mammals are injured or affected by illnesses caused by human interaction.  But it's not always human interaction - the sea lion below was bitten by a shark!

Photo by Susan Goldman
In our visit to the TMMC, we learned how this great organization rescues marine mammals, covering 600 miles of the California Coast, and working with animals ranging from elephants seals, harbor seals and sea lions.  It's an enormous amount of effort to bring the marine mammals back to health so they can have a chance in surviving back in the wild.

Photo by Susan Goldman
All this work is done by 45 staff and OVER 1,100 volunteers!!  From veterinarians to high school students, all ranges of volunteers come to TMMC to give their time to these beautiful animals.  TMMC uses Dawn products to clean cages and all the processing equipment used to make the marine mammal fish-shakes! Yum!

Kath Crawford, Education Volunteer
I had the opportunity to spend some quality time with Kathy Crawford, Education Volunteer and learn about her experiences at TMMC.  I learned so much and admired Kathy's countless hours to the TMMC, which I will write about in an upcoming post!  Thanks to Kathy many families and children learn how to help the marine mammals.

Unfortunately, due to infectious diseases that can be passed from marine mammals to humans, it was highly recommended for me to not participate in the food preparing and kitchen/cage cleaning process because of my pregnancy.

Photo by Susan Goldman
To read about the cleaning and food process in more detail, please visit A Slob Comes Clean blog.

But I was able to get a quick visit to a few "patients" recovering in their hospital cages...

Sweet, sweet sea lions....

The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, CA.  © David Wakelyrine
TMMC is a located in San Francisco Bay Area, my backyard National Park the Marin Headlands Golden Gate National Recreation Area in Sausalito, California.  Did I mention that it's free to visit?!

Sea Lions Released at Point Reyes National Seashore

We had the honor and pleasure of participating in releasing THREE sea lions back into the wild at Chimney Rock, Point Reyes National Seashore. We were told that not all 1,100 volunteers ever see a release, so it was truly special to be able to see and participate in this momentous occasion.

There will be a more in depth post and maybe video of the release, but I was very happy to participate in a small portion of the the release "Apostrophe, Row and Fritters" the sea lions!

"We are FREE!!" Photo by Susan Goldman

Point Reyes National Seashore is one of my favorite Bay Area National Park gems and now that I know and witnessed a sea lion release there, Point Reyes will forever hold a special place in my heart!

Dawn and The International Bird Rescue

During "Dawn's Day in the Wildlife" I had the pleasure of meeting Andrew Harmon, Director of Marketing and Communications of the International Bird Rescue (IBR).  I was happy to find out that the IBR has a Bay Area center in Fairfield, California so he invited my family and I for a visit, which I will write about in more depth later in this series.

Andrew Harmon, Speaking about the IBR
A few facts about the IBR:
  •  There are two centers (bird hospitals) in California: The San Francisco Bay Area and another in the Southern California.
  • The IBR saves seabirds and aquatic birds affected by man-made and natural disasters such as oil-spills and marine trash from around the world since 1971.
  • From Alaska to Argentina to South Africa, the IBR can send emergency response teams to help when disasters hit these beautiful birds.
  • In 1978, IBR founder Alice Berkner discover that Dawn worked best cutting the oil off of birds and since 1988 Dawn began its partnership with IBR.
  • The IBR has about 200 volunteers!
As an outdoor loving mom, I enjoy spending time in nature with my family and seeing wildlife in its natural habit.  I'm trying to instill the values of taking care of our earth which includes wildlife like the birds at the IBR.  Seeing the excitement of my children's faces when we saw the Pelicans at the IBR, will always remind me that it's not just a bird, there is a bigger picture that we sometimes don't see in our daily lives.

That's why this Dawn and IBR video really resonates with me, I love seeing the "The Big Picture" through my children's eyes and help preserving it for them and the generations to come.

For more information on...

I would like to thank Dawn who provided this sponsored trip.  As always these are my true and honest opinions.

Related Posts and Links:

  1. Dawn Day in the Wildlife: The Marine Mammal Center Volunteers & Family Outdoor Education
  2. Dawn Day in the Wildlife: Saving the Birds at International Bird Rescue

Gear Review: Dorcy LED Headlights Spot and Broad Beam

I'll be honest, I was a little perplexed on doing a gear review on headlights since it's always difficult to take pictures at night unless you are a professional photographer, which I'm not.  In order to show my review in action, I tested out Dorcy LED Headlights both Spot and Broad Beam on a moonless night hike with my family!  Check out my video and read my review below.

Lighting is very important to this family! Why? Because I married an electrical engineer who is a lighting specialist and even though we usually don't go on many night hikes, we are camping all the time where hands-free lighting is essential.  As you also see in the video my husband is carrying our daughter as well as holding my son's hand so his hands are tied up.

Dorcy has two headlights that fit both our outdoor lighting needs!

Spot Beam ~ Photo Courtesy

Run Time: 12 hours on 3 AAA Batteries (included)
Brightness: 134 Lumens, 387 Feet Beam Distance
Lighting: LED in Full and Half Power, Strobe
Weight: 2.9 ounces
Retail Price: $24.99
Switch: On top of light that can angle 
Weather Resistant

Broad Beam ~ Photo Courtesy 

Run Time: 12 hours on 3 AAA batteries (included)
Brightness: 120 Lumens, 157 Feet Beam Distance
Lighting: LED in Full and Half Power, Strobe
Weight: 2.9 ounces
Retail Price: $24.99
Switch: On top of light that can angle
Weather Resistant

The Pluses!

Dorcy Spot Beam and Broad Beam:
  • Lightweight ~ We are a backpacking family so we count every ounce that goes in our packs, so at 2.9 ounces both headlights are up to our weight standards,
  • Adjustable Band ~ While most headlamps are adjustable not all adult size headlamps fit toddlers.  Both Dorcy Spot and Broad Beam headlights were able to be sized down to fit my toddlers heads, which is great because children like to test out whatever gear we have.
  • Durability ~ Both headlights are weather resistant and "toddler" resistant.  Anything used outdoors should be weather resistant, period.  As in most of my gear reviews, I let my kids "test" the headlights not only were they able to manage to function the headlights they didn't destroy the head lights. 
  • Simplicity ~ There are only THREE levels of lighting in both Spot and Broad Beam, Full Power, Half Power and Strobe.  Those three levels of lighting are the only ones that are truly needed.  I don't like fumbling at night going through multiple levels of lighting before I figure out the right one.  
  • Switch Location ~ The switch is INDEPENDENT from the light, (which can be angled).  No more searching for where the switch is or accidentally hitting the switch when trying to change the beam angle.

Dorcy Spot Beam Only:
  • Great for Physical Activity ~ I prefer the Dorcy Spot Beam Headlight while night hiking.  It was a stronger, bright light and even though it's a "beam" it had a large flooded lighted area on the trail.  My husband also tried the Spot Beam out while cycling during the early morning hours and said the Spot Beam has "more punch".
Broad Beam Only:
  • Great for Low Impact Activity ~ The best use for the Dorcy Broad Beam would be around camp.  The light is very defused but still bright enough to walk around camp especially if the light is brought down to half power.  

The Minuses
  • Size, Style and Batteries ~ Even though the headlights are very lightweight the size of the headlights seem large.  The style of the both lights seem a little "outdated" but in all reality the functionality is what matters.  We are a very "green" family and we try to use rechargeable energy sources as much as we can, so the fact that we have to use batteries bothers me a little bit, but most headlights use batteries.
  • Spot Beam Only: The beam is too harsh for around camp.
  • Broad Beam Only: Not enough lighting for outdoor physical activity.

Chasqui Mom Last Thoughts...

Overall, I'm very pleased with Dorcy LED Spot and Broad Beam Headlights and would recommend them for outdoor use.  Depending on your needs and lighting likes both headlights are useful for a large array of outdoor activity and in particular, outdoor family activity!

I would like to thank Dorcy who provided these product for the purposes of this review.  As always these are my true and honest opinions.

Join in on the conversation by leaving a comment here! You can also join in on the conversations on Chasqui Mom's FacebookInstagram and Twitter that is updated daily with outdoor activities and other wonderful posts and links from #OutdoorFamilies!

#OutdoorFamilies Enjoying Summer Time One Picture at a Time

Summer is the time when kids are free from school and parents try to be "free" from work!  Summer time reminds me of my childhood road trips to beaches, mountains and deserts.  Sadly, Summer is coming to an end (and for many it has ended already) but Hiking Along and I wanted to celebrate the great moments #OutdoorFamilies had this Summer 2014, just like the previous year summer adventures!  From Cananda to East and West Coast of the USA, outdoor families know how to have fun.

Jumping into Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire.
Photo by Jennifer Chambers of Hiking Along

The Moser Family heading up to Summit Lake in the Hoover Wilderness at 11,100 ft in the sky!
Photo by Jeff Moser of The Path Less Beaten

Enjoying the waves at Patrick Point State Park in Trinada, CA
Photo by Lindsey Stewart

Having a good time at hiking at Wilcox Pass Banff National Park

Too much sweetness in this family backpacking trip in Uintas, Utah
Photo by Alyssa Erickson of The Kid Project 

Sometimes mamas need a trip without the tots, Susan enjoying Exit Glacier at Kenai Fjord National Park in Alaska!
Photo by Susan Strayer of Mountain Mom and Tots

Splashing around in Bear Lake, Utah
Photo by Kathy Dalton of Go Adventure Mom

Crabbing while SUPing! Double the fun at Nantucket, Massachusetts
Photo by Christina McGuire of Skirting Season and Teton Family

Sister and brother enjoying the views at Moraine Lake in the Alberta Canadian Rockies!
Photo by Amber Johnson of Mile High Mama.

Which pictures above is your favorite of #OutdoorFamilies enjoying nature?

Do you have a favorite family summer snapshot of your own you would like to share? Share your picture on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and tag @HikingAlongKids, @ChasquiMom and hashtag #OutdoorFamilies on your photo.

Enjoy the few days left of Summer (if you have any left) and start planning outdoor family Fall adventures!  Head on over to Hiking Along to see some more great summer snapshots!

Related Posts and Links:
  1. Outdoor Summer Round Up

The Family of Four Hikers is Growing to FIVE!

9.5 weeks - Hiking pregnant mamá
One of the questions I get asked the most is "What age is a good time to start hiking with you children?"  My answer is always the same: "Since in the womb!"

I've been holding in a secret and I wanted to share that I've been heading outdoors with another little future hiker in my tummy for a couple of months now. We are expecting our newest little adventurer in March 2015 and are very excited to welcome our precious little gift from God.

Our #3 has already been hiking, biking and camping in the few weeks it's life.  My other two kids don't care that I'm pregnant so I don't have the luxury relax on the couch like I want to, so we are still heading outdoors for the family's sanity!!  The third time around means my abdominal muscles are non-existent so even though I'm just bloated in the picture above, it's nice to have a little bump again.  And yes I'm hiking in jeans....don't kill me, I know I broke my own rule!

But here is my precious little one's heart...

The List of Baby Questions

I know the drill about the barrage of questions people ask in my prior pregnancies so I'll answer them upfront:

Was this a planned pregnancy?
Yes, you are talking about a former accountant and an electrical engineer.

How do you feel?
Overall, I feel exhausted and terribly hungry.  Like I said earlier, my other two kids don't care I'm pregnant, so I'm lucky if I can get a 15 minute nap.  My hunger goes through the roof when we head out hiking or biking, so I need to drink and eat even more when outdoors!

Are you still going to be active in the outdoors?
ABSOLUTELY!! I'm going to continue hiking, biking, walking, running, camping as much as I can.  Of course taking in consideration my exhaustion levels and other pregnancy aches and pains.  I have to keep up my activity level up or else my "weird exercise allergy" will be worse once I'm done being pregnant.

Are you going for a natural drug-free birth?
NO. I love not feeling pain, especially down there.  I'm might be a little hippie and granola but I love modern medicine so bring on the pain relief.

Is this your last one?

What are you looking most forward to and also not forward to?
I'm looking forward to seeing my two toddlers enjoy having a baby in the house.  I'm especially looking forward to seeing another little child enjoy the outdoors! I'm terrified of the level of not sleeping that will be going on in this house for a long time and learning how to backpack with THREE children.  I think I might want to buy llama for our backpacking adventures!

6 Weeks Pregnant - Biking with all my babies!
I'm truly excited with "Bebe numero 3" and looking forward (not really because pregnancy sucks, for me) to the next 30 weeks.  Until then, I will give thanks to God who created the majestic mountains and oceans that my family enjoys so much, as He continues forming my new little one in my womb...

For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother's womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made
Psalm 139:13-14

¡Mas Aventura Viene! ~ More Adventures to come!

Join in on the conversation by leaving a comment here! You can also join in on the conversations on Chasqui Mom's FacebookInstagram and Twitter that is updated daily with outdoor activities and other wonderful posts and links from #OutdoorFamilies!

The Truth About Family Camping

Now let's get this straight off the bat: I love camping and I actively encourage families to camp but getting used to camping as a family takes a little work and effort.  My kids love so much camping that even when we are day hiking they ask to set up their tent so we can camp.  Just like everything else in life, family camping requires effort and frequent practice, with lots of my own practice I have found a few "truths" about family camping.

Truth #1: Parents are TIRED and Children are Refreshed

Per the photographic evidence, I have major bags under my eyes; parents usually wake up tired and the children wake up ready to take on the day.  Sleep is a struggle for many families when they take the bold leap to go camping for the first time.  My first experience camping as a family was awful but a few adjustments here and there made for better sleep.

My family co-sleeps, so our children feel right at "home" when we are all sleeping in a tent but my husband and I wake up exhausted from our children waking us up for WHATEVER (cold, hot, thirst, etc) reason throughout the night.  Even though my kids wake up multiple times a night they still seem refreshed in the morning and yet I am not.

Tip: Try to recreate the same home sleep environment and have the kids practice sleeping in their sleeping bags at home!  Also including hiking into camping trips helps the kids sleep.

Truth #2: Everything Gets DIRTY!

Cleanliness kind of goes out the window when you are camping, except for food preparation and bathroom policies.  When I became a mom I swear I could see the germs crawling on my pristine baby boy, but camping really helped me get over it.  I realized the dirt on my children hands, face and sometimes in their mouth was just going to happen.  Remember dirt can always wash off, after you get home!

Tips: Empty a camping box aka plastic storage bin and use it as a small bath tub if the kids get too dirty.  Baby wipes are also your friend.

Truth #3: Expect and Plan for Sickness

There's nothing worse than being outdoors and not being prepared for someone getting sick.  I have been on few trips where someone was sick and our entire camping trip had to be changed.  On our first camping trip as a family of four, my son and I came down with a cold on the car ride to our camping location.  Even though we were sick we still managed to have one of our most memorable camping trips.  Thankfully we had packed medication just in case.

I'm allergic to WHAT?!?!
On another occasion I came down with altitude sickness and we couldn't do anything except go to a lower elevation and completely change our plans. If you are wondering about the picture above, I was having and allergic reaction to exercise, no joke.

Tip: Be flexible! If someone in your family gets sick make sure you have alternate plans like camp games so the rest of the family can still enjoy camping while others can recuperate.  Research where the nearest hospital or urgent care in case a real emergency occurs.

Truth #4: Forgetting Something Essential

Something will always be forgotten! From a bedtime stuffed animal, baby wipes, salt & pepper to even sleeping bags something is always left behind.  It's always better to bring less when camping, so what has help me reduce the forgetting essential items is having pre-packaged "camping boxes" with everything I know I will need.  Then all I really need to worry about is bringing clothes, food and my children's "essentials" such as stuffed animals and special items.

Tip:  Truly assess what is really "essential" a few days before to reduce last minute car packing panic!  Does your child really need all those toys while camping?

Chasqui Mom Last Thoughts...

Family camping is fun and worth the me it does get easier when camping with little ones.  In the beginning my kids would not sleep in their sleeping bag and now they love it! We recently spent a week camping and all our "camping practice" had paid off because it was truly relaxing and restful for my family.  The truth is family camping just needs practice to work out the bumps to make it truly a great family experience!

Do you have any family camping "truths" that you have experienced?

Join in on the conversation by leaving a comment here! You can also join in on the conversations on Chasqui Mom's FacebookInstagram and Twitter that is updated daily with outdoor activities and other wonderful posts and links from #OutdoorFamilies!

Related Posts & Links: 
  1. Sleeping Under the Stars Project
  2. Chasqui Mom Guest Post on Family Camping Gone Bad – How to Recover
  3. Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies ~ When sickness enters the camp