How Does Your Garden Grow?

garden growHow Does Your Garden Grow?

Imagine yourself in a bountiful spring garden surrounded by tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, crocuses and beautiful blossoms in a riot of colors and hues. But how do you bring this spring wonderland to your own front yard and backyard? The answer is, by starting now.

For many of us, gardening projects end in the summer. Yet, fall planting is crucial to a good harvest in spring, be it flowers or vegetables. Here’s how to go about creating a beautiful spring garden.

Picking bulbs for spring blossoms: Right now, garden stores and nurseries are stocked up on bulbs and seeds for planting. Tulips, hyacinths, crocuses, daffodils, irises are some varieties which are sure to give you a blooming garden come spring.

Spring veggie patch: For a vegetable harvest in spring, choose vegetables which can withstand the winter chill and frost. Carrots, cabbages, turnips, broccoli, celery, parsnips, radishes, kale, and brussels sprouts are among the varieties which are most hardy.

Planting time: Plant the bulbs after summer but before the ground gets frosty. October is usually a good time for fall planting, but here in the Bay area, it is safe to plant till early November.

Where to plant: Choose an area in your yard which is sunny and has good drainage. Prepare the soil with compost and fertilize after planting the bulbs.

Mulch: Be sure to spread a layer of mulch. This keeps keep the moisture in and prevents frost from settling on the bulbs in the winter.

For more information, visit https://www.almanac.com/gardening.
For hardiness zones, check out this excellent resource on fall planting of bulbs: https://www.almanac.com/sites/default/files/d6/fall_planted_bulbs.jpg

Kudos to Quixilver FTC team 8404

Quixilver FTC team 8404

Quixilver FTC team 8404Leland Robotics Quixilver FTC team 8404 recently competed against 72 teams from 13 states at the West Super Regional Championships in Tacoma Washington. Of the 203 teams from Northern California, Quixilver 8404 was the only team to advance from the Silicon Valley.

After making it to the top ten in their division in the super regionals, Quixilver 8404 will now compete in the World Championships against 128 teams from 39 countries. The team is now having a fund-raising drive to buy sensors, cameras and other parts. If you would like to help this Almaden team get an edge in the world championships, go to their Go Fund Me page on https://www.gofundme.com/help-ftc-8404-go-to-the-world-championship. For more information about how to get involved with the FIRST Robotics program, contact FTC 8404 Quixilver at ftc8404@gmail.com.

Spring Cleaning Checklist for Your Home

Spring is now well and truly upon us here in the Bay Area. After the flurry of storms and a particularly wet winter, it is delightful to see hills covered with wildflowers, bare trees full of foliage and verdant green everywhere.

It is also time to get our homes in shipshape condition for the summer. Here’s a handy spring cleaning checklist for around the home and in the yard.

Spring cleaning checklist - guttersRoof, rafters and gutters Clean out leaves and twigs left by the recent storms from your gutters. Check that the downspouts are properly connected and clear. Look for any broken or missing shingles. Check the frames of any skylights. Get a roofer to fix any damages.

Air-conditioning and heating vents – This includes a change or cleaning of filters as well as the air vents. Check the outside unit to ensure it has clear drainage, and trim away any plants or bushes around it.

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors – Check that these are working, and be sure to replace the batteries.

Carpets – The warm weather is a good time to get the carpets steam cleaned and shampooed. Make sure you choose a time with a few sunny days for the carpets to dry out.

Attics – This is a good time to venture into attics. Check for signs of seepage or mold as well as rodents and insects. If there are windows, let in the air and sunlight. Be sure to do this on a dry and sunny day.

Crawl space air vents – Take a walk around the house and check the crawl-space air vents and netting for any signs of tear or damage. If any, it is important to fix these to keep rodents and little critters out of the crawl space.

Fences and decks – After the wet and stormy winter this year, all the woodwork in the yard – from fences to decks needs special attention. Nail down loose boards, and replace broken or rotten ones. Also, promptly treat decks for any mold and mildew as these could quickly spread to the house.

Spring cleaning checklist - power washingDriveway and walkways – Power washing is a great, low-cost way to restore the driveway and walkways to a brighter, cleaner look. Fix any loose pavers or bricks and fill in the cracks. If you notice extra unevenness caused by the ground lifting in any area, it might be a good idea to call in an arborist and check if the roots of any nearby trees are the problem.

Flower beds, hedges and lawns – De-weeding in spring is very important for all areas of the garden. Treat the soil with fertilizers and spread new mulch. Spread grass seed on the lawns to spur growth in any bald patches and fertilize. Prune all trees and bushes to encourage new growth.

Sprinklers and drip irrigation systems – Test all sprinklers and drip irrigation pipes for signs of damage or leakage. Replace any broken sprinkler heads or cracked pipes promptly.

Read more about spring cleaning do’s on the following websites:

http://www.hgtv.com/design/decorating/clean-and-organize/get-your-house-ready-for-summer

http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2014/05/16/12-must-do-home-maintenance-tasks-for-spring

Williams Elementary Auction Dinner – March 3, 2017

Enjoy an evening of dinner and dancing and help raise money for Williams Elementary!

Williams Elementary Auction DinnerTickets are on sale now for the Williams Elementary Auction Dinner, a gala event to be held at the Corinthian Grand Ballroom on March 3, 2017 from 6pm to 11pm.

Several popular events will be auctioned off, like Mother-Daughter Tea, Mom’s Night Out, and an exclusive pizza party for kids at the California Pizza Kitchen!

Besides these, the live auction includes Principal for the Day for your child,  Santa Cruz and Napa Getaway Weekends, an exclusive Sushi Party, and the opportunity to win your own parking spot at school!

Deadline for purchasing tickets is Friday Feb. 17. You can purchase tickets at the Williams School Office or online at: http://www.williamscommunity.com/auction/.

Almaden Valley Youth Opportunities January 2017

Exciting Almaden Valley youth opportunities this month at the Almaden Library and Leland High!

Almaden Valley youth opportunitiesBrain Maps – A Stimulating Workshop for Kids

Almaden children, ages 7 and up, will learn all about brain-mapping in this creative and engaging workshop at the Almaden Library on Tuesday January 31 at 4:00pm. This play and learn event will start off with some fun quizzes about the brain, and then kids will learn about personality and the different lobes of the brain. Thereafter, they will create their own brain maps by drawing on beach balls! For more details, visit https://events.sjpl.org/event/brain_maps_6922

Build a Bot at Leland High

The annual Build a Lego Robot Day at Leland High is coming up on Saturday January 28. Conducted by the school’s FRC (FIRST Robotics competition) Team 604, also known as Quixilver, this workshop introduces students ages 6-14 to the basics of programming and designing robots. The workshop will be held in two sessions from 10-11am and 11:30am-12:30pm.

Earlier this academic year, the Leland Robotics team won the Chezy Champs Robotics competition at Bellarmine College Preparatory in an alliance with Spartan Robotics, Citrus Circuits and Presentation Invasion. Way to go, Leland Robotics! Keep up the good work. For more information, go to http://sjusd.org/leland/

Finding the Perfect Neighborhood for You

Finding the Perfect Neighborhood for You… 

Finding the perfect neighborhoodThe New Year is often a time for changes and new beginnings. For many, that means a new home in a new neighborhood. As exciting as this may be, choosing the right neighborhood requires a lot of thought. Here are some things to think about when finding the perfect neighborhood for you.

Evaluate your requirements

If you have kids, a friendly suburban neighborhood close to schools may be right for you. Or, if you spend long hours at work and would like to cut the commute or socialize after hours, staying closer to the city might be just the thing. Whatever your situation, start with a needs assessment that includes a checklist of must-haves and must-avoids.

Think about your lifestyle

If you are tired of living in the city, moving to the suburbs may be appealing, or vice versa. But think carefully about your needs. Do you need to hit the stores regularly, dine out, be close to the freeways, or perhaps be near medical facilities? Give it serious thought ahead of time to save yourself a lot of inconvenience later.

Consider your finances

You’ve just found the perfect neighborhood, but can you really afford it? Budget-wise there is a lot to consider besides just the mortgage. Look at taxes, upkeep costs, commute expenses, and any other recurring costs which may add on. The perfect place may not be so perfect if it causes a strain on your resources.

Crime and safety

While considering neighborhoods, safety is of utmost importance. Spend some time researching the crime rate of an area. For a crime map, go to www.crimemapping.com. Find out if the area has a Neighborhood Watch group, and talk to friends or colleagues that live nearby.

Research schools

If you have kids, considering schools is critical. Even if you don’t have school going kids, a good school district increases the potential value of your home and any rental prospects. To research schools, go to www.greatschools.org. If you’re considering a new home within Santa Clara County or the Almaden Valley in particular, almadenvalleyrealestate.com has a couple of good resources as well: http://www.almadenvalleyrealestate.com/almaden-valley-schools/ and http://www.almadenvalleyrealestate.com/almaden-homes-for-sale/.

Visit the neighborhood at different times

Visit the desired neighborhood at different times of the day and week to get a better perspective. For example, drive through during rush hour to check out traffic, and late at night to see how well the street is lit up. You can also learn a lot about a neighborhood through social networks like Nextdoor.com.

Talk to neighbors

Talk to prospective neighbors to find out more about the area. They are the best resource. At the same time, you can also assess if you would be comfortable with them. Nothing can mar the charm of a new home as undesirable neighbors. If they are unfriendly and unapproachable or leave their home and yard unkempt, these may be some tell-tale signs to watch out for. Messy neighbors could adversely affect your lifestyle as well as the future value of your property.

Think of the future

Try to picture yourself and your family a few years down the line. A change of residence is a long-term thing. If the prospective neighborhood will not meet your needs a few years ahead, think again. Finally, close your eyes and picture yourself actually living there. Does the thought make you smile? Do you like the neighborhood overall? Your instinct will give you the answer.

You can find more on choosing a new neighborhood in this guide found on RISMedia. And when you’re ready to buy, give me a call!

Internet Safety Reminder for Winter Break

Internet safetyInternet Safety – The holidays are about to begin and your children will very likely spend a lot of time online with multiple devices. Now is a good time to educate or remind them about Internet safety, and to reinforce the need for caution while browsing or posting on social media.

Surfing and Social Media Internet Safety

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 requires that websites aimed at children under 13 must get parental consent. According to the Library of Congress, in the US, three among four children have access to smartphones and social media apps like Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Vine and Tumblr. And while they are using these apps, most kids never customize the privacy restrictions on their profiles, and many of them even publicly post their address and/or phone number.

Monitoring children’s online activities can be overwhelming and time consuming, but some basic steps should be taken to ensure their protection. Here are some guidelines for both parents and children.

For parents:

  • Educate your children about Internet safety – Include Internet safety and privacy in all “growing up” discussions with your children.
  • Follow and be a ‘friend’ on social media – Your children might be reluctant to let you into their virtual world, but get an agreement on this before allowing them to use social media. Having you on their accounts will make them careful about what they post. It will also help you weed out people who may not really be friends. However, keep some distance and avoid stalking them.
  • Adjust privacy and parental control settings – This should be done on each device before you let them use it.
  • Install monitoring software – There are various software and apps available to track browsing history and block dubious sites from baiting and preying on your children through advertising.
  • Make kids anonymous on the Internet – Avoid posting pictures of your children on social media sites and the Internet. If posted by friends and family, un-tag as much as possible. Ask family and friends to seek your consent before they post any pictures of your children.

It is very important that children understand the reasons behind the rules to ensure compliance. So talk about the risks and keep that dialogue going.

For children:

  • Protect your passwords – Create strong and unique passwords, and don’t share them with your friends. If you think someone has gained access to your password, change it immediately. Use different passwords for email and social media.
  • Select online friends carefully – Do not add anyone as a friend on your social media if you do not know him/her well, and in person. You may be tempted to have more social media friends than others in your peer group, but think carefully before you add people on. Someone doesn’t qualify to be a friend just because you have other friends in common.
  • Privacy Settings – Set your privacy settings to “friends only”.
  • Every post is permanent – Your social media posts, including pictures, remain on the Internet even after you remove them. Increasingly, social media sites are screened by colleges and employers for admissions and jobs. What you post today could impact your future.
  • Be kind and sensitive online – Don’t post anything that might be hurtful to others. Avoid anything that might seem like cyber bullying, which is not just wrong but could also get you into big trouble. A rule to follow is this: if you can’t say it to someone’s face, don’t say it online.

For more information on Internet safety and protecting your child’s privacy, go to:

https://www.comparitech.com/blog/vpn-privacy/protecting-childrens-privacy

Los Alamitos Elementary School Fundraising Parties

Los Alamitos Elementary School fundraisingLos Alamitos Elementary School fundraising is accelerating in a variety of fun ways this season!

Ladies’ Wine Under the Stars

On Saturday, November 19, at 6 pm, there is the Ladies’ Wine Under the Stars party. Ladies, come out to enjoy an evening with friends old and new. Stargaze, nibble on delicious appetizers including a variety of cheeses, chocolates, and fondue, and savor great wine as an accompaniment. Tickets: $45.

Pre-Christmas Clothing and Accessories Swap

Up ahead on Thursday, December 8, is a pre-Christmas clothing and accessories swap party for moms. You can also enjoy light appetizers and drinks at the event. Tickets: $25.

Craft Beer Tasting Party

The fundraisers wrap up the year with a Craft Beer Tasting party on Saturday, December 10 at 6 pm. Here you can taste a variety of assorted craft beers, stouts, lager and much more. Food will be served as well. Tickets: $80.

Enjoy these great events while supporting Los Alamitos Elementary School! For more information, contact the Los Alamitos Elementary School PTA and visit http://sjusd.org/losalamitos/pta/pta-at-los-alamitos/nav.

Pay It Forward Tutoring at Leland High in Almaden Valley

Pay It ForwardWhat does the term ‘pay it forward’ mean? It means if you have benefitted from a philanthropic act, you repay by helping another person in need instead of the one who was originally kind to you. In other words, instead of paying back, you pay it forward. In Almaden, a group of altruistic high schoolers are doing just that with ‘Pay It Forward Tutoring’.

The Pay It Forward team comprises a group of highly motivated students from Leland High who “understand the value and impact of education in their lives and in the community”. And their way of giving back to the community is by tutoring elementary and middle school children throughout the year in various subjects.

The program benefits Reading Partners, a non-profit organization that, in turn, works nationally to offer in-school, one-on-one tutoring to needy students as well as helps them develop literacy skills.

For their tutoring service, the Pay It Forward team accepts donations made out directly to Reading Partners. The team estimates that this year the donations received will help sustain individual tutoring for more than 1,300 students in the Bay Area alone. To this end, they expect to raise $10,000. So, if you have a child at home in need of tutoring, don’t wait. Reach out to http://www.payitforwardtutoringsj.org and help pay it forward!

Back-to-School Tips for Parents

Back-to-school tipsSummer is over and school is officially in session! Here are some back-to-school tips to ensure that your child’s school year proceeds smoothly.

Plan healthy meals and snacks. Be sure your child gets breakfast before the morning school bell rings, because breakfast is the most important meal of the day. For lunch and snacks, make sure your child has a combination of protein, fruits, and vegetables to give them energy to last throughout the school day.

Meet the teacher(s). Attend open houses and orientations, and make personal contact with each of your child’s teachers sooner rather than later to let them know you are involved in your child’s education and eager to stay connected with them.

Set up a routine. Routines help everyone stay on track, including you as a parent. In addition to night and morning routines, have an after-school routine as well. Consider allowing for a little bit of playtime before getting started on homework or beginning after-school activities. Most importantly, make sure your child gets some rest between activities and plenty of sleep at night.

Bullying. Talk to your child about the right course of action to take when he or she encounters bullying at or outside of school, whether it’s physical, verbal, or cyber-bullying. For more resources about bullying, click here.

Safety. Make sure your child gets to school safely. If they bike, make sure they wear a helmet. If they walk, remind them “Head up, phone down” to keep aware of their surroundings.

Sources:

http://www.sparkpe.org/blog/8-essential-back-to-school-tips-for-parents/

http://www.pbs.org/parents/education/going-to-school/back-to-school/back-to-school-tips-for-parents/