Archive for March, 2013

This spring we decided to check out Montalvo Arts Center. I confess to not having high expectations of a successful visit as I wasn’t too sure how much there was for small kids there, but I was pleasantly surprised. We happily spent a long morning wandering around the grounds, and could probably have remained the whole day had Mommy packed a lunch.


rather grand

Montalvo Arts Center was originally Villa Montalvo built by US Senator James Duval Phelan in 1912. It’s a beautiful house surrounded by magnificent gardens and wilderness.  We spent the entire morning exploring the art sculptures on the villa lawn, the Italianate Garden and the Phelan Cactus Garden.  These botanical gardens were large and interesting enough to keep our preschoolers happy for a good long while: they loved running around exploring all the different paths and checking out the statues. The cacti were especially appealing to the boys as they had seen them in books before our visit.  The cactus garden was also full of lizards, juvenile southern alligator lizards and western fence lizards, and they were mesmerized watching these creatures scurry about. In fact, we had so much fun in the more formal gardens that we never even made it to the trails (our original goal).  Watch this space…..


cactus outside the Italianate Garden

Montalvo has free parking and the gardens are open to the public all year round unless there is a big event taking place.  Next time we plan to bring a picnic and stay for the day so we have time to hike some of the back woods trails too.


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Hidden Villa is holding its annual sheep shearing event on the 6th April.

You can sign up here.  Note – it usually sells out….



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The pond at Picchetti Open Space Preserve has water in it this year (unlike last winter) and lots of California Newts. Our kids loved it. The pond is just a short walk from the parking lot and worth checking out.

the great California Newt in all its glory

the great California Newt in all its glory



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After this winter’s rain, Lake Lagunita on Stanford campus has water in it. Well, just a bit of water. More a puddle than a lake. But it is sufficient water for the frogs to congregate and breed and now is the perfect time to head down there to look for tadpoles.


Little Lake Lagunita

It’s a bit boggy, but you could take a jog stroller to the water’s edge.  Also consider taking a small bucket to scoop up some tadpoles for a closer look. And think about some wellington boots too even if it’s sunny.


The Monkey on the hunt

We’ll be going back in a few weeks to see how the tadpoles have grown.

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We’re Back

Apologies for the blogging hiatus.  But after a difficult pregnancy which curtailed our adventures, we’ve been joined by a little girl (The Bug) and are ready to hit the trails once again.

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