Sunday, August 30, 2009

San Diego Wild Animal Park Part 2

Part 2
As I have mentioned before on here, we recently purchased season passes to the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Wild Animal Park (fantastic deal and I’d recommend it to anyone!). You can read about our first trip to the San Diego Wild Animal Park (here is part 1), but I wanted to wait until we had another chance to go back before writing a post about the park. I’m so glad I did that because I’ve completely validated why it is so important to spend a few minutes prepping before going to these parks! I made the mistake of thinking that I was a theme park veteran and that with sunscreen, we’d be fine. Ha! Was I wrong! Learn from my mistakes so you can have a fantastic time because it really is a fantastic park if you do a little prep/planning. I’ll be writing about this park in several parts because I’d like to share what we did wrong the first time in part 2 and what we did right the second time in part 3. Part 1 is about Dino Mountain specifically.

When we went to the San Diego Wild Animal Park, our main goal for the day was to go see the Dino Mountain exhibit (because of our little Paleontologist in training!), we didn’t take the time to check the weather forecast (click here to do that now). Really big mistake in the summertime! We arrived at the park just before 10 am on a Sunday just as the day was getting warm. Parking was a piece of cake and we walked right in. Just after entering the park I coated the kids in the usual sunscreen spray. That was about the only thing I did right that day. I dramatically underestimated the amount of walking we would be doing for the day in the heat. We easily found the Dino Mountain exhibit and went there first. We loved it and I wish it were to be a long term exhibit, but unfortunately it closes September 7, 2009. After we finished I took a quick peek at the map (view map here) and we decided to wander over and look at the Tigers. It looked like a short walk. Little did I know it was a long walk in the now scorching sun!

I’m glad we had decided to purchase a couple of the very over priced water bottles for sale at the exit of the Dino Mountain (I made a mental note to buy water bottles before entering the park next time because they don’t seem to be concerned about how much water people bring in the park) - between the four of us we finished off the waters in not time. The Tigers were apparently smarter than us because they were sleeping the shade.

After heading over to see the Tigers there was really only one way that made any sense to head and that was towards the Lions and Journey into Africa area. What is really embarrassing to me is that I didn’t realized this was the loading for the free safari tour (you can read about this in Part 3 of this post). This would have been a perfect break in the day. The kids were exhausted by this point and we were all super hot. We were basically ready to head home (even after a few minutes spent in the Savanna Cool Zone water area).

After lunch at Samburu Terrace, we took the Great Lift Rift back up to the other area of the park. We LOVED the Air Conditioning, mist and elevator ride. Without it, the walk up the hill would have not been fun.

On our way back to the exit I managed to detour us enough through the waterfowl area. I immediately knew we’d made a critical mistake in our day, we did the hot long walks first. We did manage to walk by the Meerkats at the perfect time – Lunch! That was hilarious to watch the interaction between the zoo keeper and the Meerkats!

Mental Notes I made for next time:
-Bring lots of water
-Ultra Comfortable walking shoes a must
-Follow the freeway signs to the park, not the Google App directions
-Bring the water bottle fans we purchased at Disneyland to help keep cool
-Check the weather forecast, it is a good 10 degrees warmer that most of San Diego, so keep that in mind. It was 103 degrees as we got in to the car at 1pm.
-Go absolutely as soon as the park opens on a Saturday to avoid crowds and traffic. The animals are more active in the mornings when it is cooler.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Yes We Bought a Snuggie

I came home the other night to find a children’s Snuggie had been purchased for our household. Yes, you read that right … apparently we (meaning my husband) were suckered in to buying one of them. (Let me know when you finish laughing) Somehow over the last few months I had resisted the constant requests from my sons to purchase one. It was plain as day to me that they were simply a marketing gimmick not worth the $14.99 to purchase the thing. But the requests were constant. I guess my husband just finally gave in, much to my chagrin. My husband’s response to my “Are you kidding?” looks were quite simple, “Well he wanted it.” Thanks dear.

What is it about the Snuggie that is so appealing? I must admit the curiosity had been getting to me. My children didn’t have blankets they became attached to (like I did), so I’m still confused as to why he was fixated on the Snuggie. Well I can now honestly tell you… I still don’t get it and now I can say we have one! (Kudos to the marketing team of the Snuggie, you have done your job well)

It is currently sitting neatly tucked away on a shelf in the kids’ room, the excitement long gone. The appeal of a backwards oversized kids robe is still lost on me… Anyone want to buy a barely used Snuggie? I’ll give you a fantastic deal!

In case you too have the urge to buy a snuggie... here's a link!

What items have you given in to purchasing that your kids begged you for only to be forgotten within a day or two?


Camp Hyatt Contest

Quick! There is still time to grab a video camera and help your 6-12 year old child create a 1-2 minute long video detailing why they would love to be the Camp Hyatt “On Assignment” reporter. The winner of the contest will receive a vacation at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa for the family (four people) and Camp Hyatt Experience. Children currently staying at the resort are encouraged to participate and there is a videographer on site ready to film their videos.

As with most contests, the kid with the most creative and entertaining video will be the winner, so get creative and have fun with it! Let your kids take it and run with it, it’s a fun creative project for the end of the summer. You never know – you might ignite a life-long passion for reporting or creating movies in your children!

Submit your videos along with the completed consent form (find it here) to Kelly Olsen ( and are due by August 31, 2009. For more information about the Camp Hyatt program click here. Goodluck!


Friday, August 28, 2009

Ouch I Made the Kids Clean Their Room

Well, we’ve hit another milestone in our household… I’ve officially (in front of witnesses) been called a cleaning slave driver by my sons. To put this conversation in perspective, it was almost within minutes of my boys rattling off the rather dizzying list of fun things we have done over the summer (Sea World, San Diego Zoo, San Diego Wild Animal Park, Disneyland once a week, Griffith Observatory and countless other beach trips… the list goes on). Brett was pretty serious about this too. My friend and I had a pretty tough time not busting out laughing at the timing of his comments…

My boys are my world as anyone who knows me can attest to. I probably let them get away with too much, but last night, yes, I made them clean their room and play room. I admit it. Now how did this all come about? Well, that is simple – Seven Nintendo DS games had gone missing. I refuse to total up the cost to purchase those seven games. Unfortunately after all the cleaning we did last night, they still have not surfaced. Nope, I’m not happy about it, but at least we now have a clean playroom and bedroom out of it right? =)

What funny/ random things have your kids called you that made you laugh?


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Waves From Tropical Storm Ignacio

Just had to share some of our pictures from Aliso Creek Beach earlier this evening (yes that is an adult in the photo!)... The waves are huge from Tropical Storm Ignacio just off the Baja California Coast is bringing in the large waves and causing dangerous rip currents - so be careful!

For more information about the wave warnings click here.

Happy wave watching!


Sea World - San Diego, CA

Sea World- San Diego is always a favorite destination for our family. But as we all know any trip to a theme park can be overwhelming. Taking a few minutes to learn some of the tips and tricks can not only set-up your day for fun but possibly even save you money! Below are some of the tips (including money saving ideas) that are Sea World – San Diego specific:

Before your trip…

-Grab a couple of the inexpensive ($1 each) rain ponchos at Target or Wal-Mart. (I keep one tightly folded up at the bottom of my purse when we go to Amusement Parks.) I knew we planned on watching the Believe (Shamu) show and that it would be a hot day – Perfect for sitting in the Soak Zone! As we were waiting for the show to being I wrapped up my purse inside one of the rain ponchos and it stayed perfectly dry even though we were sitting in Row 3! (Note to self: Next time sit in Row 1 closer to the center of the stadium!) Vendors were selling Sea World ponchos for $20 each!

-Plan to go on a Saturday if you are driving from Orange County or Los Angeles areas and leave early in the morning (around 8am if possible). One thing we have little patience for is weekend traffic and we’ve found that by leaving Orange County at 8am or before on weekends is essential to not get caught in the weekend southbound traffic in San Clemente/Oceanside. Getting caught in that traffic can add more than an hour to your drive time! Be prepared for traffic on the way back home if you leave the San Diego area anytime after 2pm, especially on Sundays… where there is bad traffic through Carlsbad/Camp Pendleton and San Clemente. Get to the park as it opens, you will be able to get more done and be able to leave the park as it is getting busy early afternoon.

-If you have and use a double jogger, this is one amusement park they work well in as there is always ample stroller parking. You will most likely not need to collapse your strollers/joggers during the day and the paths have ample space so you won’t feel like you’re driving a semi truck through back alleys! Sea World also has nice double joggers available for rent…something I haven’t seen at other parks!

-Bring a couple water bottles. This cuts down on the last minute “Mom! I’m thirsty!” moments and saves your beverage purchases for meals.

-Don’t expect to see all the shows at the park. Pick your top two shows and plan your day around those unless you plan on being at the park from the moment it opens until the minute it closes. Do plan on arriving at least 10 minutes before each show so you can get decent seating if you are going during peak seasons.

-Sea World has a great deal right now, adult admission for the price of children ($55) and you get to go back to the park a second time before the end of this year. This is great because it takes the pressure off to see everything, but isn’t like buying a season pass. We plan on going back during October to see the Halloween themes.

-There are a number of interactive experiences you can book ahead of time that add additional cost to your trip and all can be found on their website – Dine with Shamu, Dolphin Encounter, Wild Arctic Interaction and other guided tours.

-Bring sunscreen! Because many of the shows are water based, you are getting lots of sun ray reflection and can get sunburns very easily (sunny day or not).

-Bring plenty of hand sanitizer. There are hand washing stations at all exhibits, but I always prefer to follow up with some Purell!

During your day …

-Our kids love souvenirs, especially animal ones. Early on I figured out that by allowing them to purchase the smallest size Shamu and Turtle, that it would save money. We allowed the kids to get two small stuffed animals each (totaled about $20 or $5 each!) and the kids felt like they made out like bandits. In reality, we spent the same amount or less than we would have if we had allowed them to pick out the larger sizes. I told the kids at the beginning of the day that they would each be able to pick out one souvenir, but that I wanted them to take their time and check out all the choices before making their decision. Good life lesson also! Allowing them to get a bonus animal each at the end of the day was icing on the cake to them.

-We had a couple of attractions we wanted to see at the top of our list for the day, so we saw those first. My kids (as do many) have a habit of wanting to spend a long time at each attraction, not aware there might be one they like more later on in the day. Knowing we didn’t want to stay much past 1pm, I decided it would be fun to not take as much time at each attraction but allow each of the boys to pick one attraction they wanted to go back and take a second look at later in the day. This was AWESOME and I will be using this for all appropriate future family adventures! This took the pressure off and allowed us to at least get a peek at virtually all of the attractions at the park. The kids were happy because they knew that they had complete choice over which one they wanted to see again. Brett chose to pet the Manta Rays for a second time and Kyle chose the Shark experience (note the Shark Experience became VERY busy by the end of the day and was certainly not as neat as seeing earlier in the day).

-Since we arrived at the park so early in the day, we had a mid day heavy snack (two large plates of Nachos). This was a great mid day snack that was much less expensive than buying a heavy meal there and we skipped the long lunch lines at the restaurants. When we got home we had a large healthy dinner, which was a perfect way to end a long busy day.

Easily missed attractions that are worth finding…
-Seeing the Manta Rays at the Forbidden Reefs. This is a fun one where you get to touch them! They are very friendly and almost seem to love the attention!

-The Tide Pool is a great place to touch the Sea Stars. My kids love interactive exhibits and this is one where they can walk right up to them and touch them. How cool is that?

-Bring lots of quarters! Many of the attractions allow you to purchase food through a dispenser to feed the animals.
For more information click here


Monday, August 24, 2009

Scooter’s Jungle Open Play Times Week of August 24- August 28, 2009

This week’s open play times at Scooter’s Jungle in Aliso Viejo are:

All Ages Event: $8 Children (which includes 1 Adult)
Monday 8/24/2009 2:00pm-4:00pm
Thursday 8/27/09 2:30pm-4:30pm

Toddler Time ($7 Children and includes 1 Adult) This is for ages 6 & under
Wednesday 8/26/2009 10:30am-12:00pm
Thursday 8/27/2009 10:30am-12:00pm

And Friday 8/28/2009 is Family Fun Night from 5:30pm-8:30pm (Cost is $9/child & $4/adult. Pizza is extra at $2/slice)

For more information go to
Scooter’s Jungle


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Public Star Party at Griffith Observatory August 29

If you’ve got a budding little astronaut in your family, there is a not to be missed event upcoming at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, CA! This coming Saturday August 29, 2009 from 2:00pm to 9:45 pm the Los Angeles Astronomical Society is hosting the monthly star party. Admission is free and there will be ample opportunities for all members of the family to take a look at the sun, moon, planets and other celestial objects! There are a number of telescopes available and plenty of amateur astronomers to have conversations with. Arrive early to allow for enough time to view the sky through the telescopes before they cut off the lines for the evening (9:45pm). For more information go here.

Happy stargazing!

Where: Observatory Sidewalks and Terraces
When: 2:00-9:45 p.m. Saturday August 29, 2009
Cost: Free Admission

*Also note that a large asteroid has been confirmed to be safely passing close to the earth on August 30, 2009. Should be a great weekend for Astronomy/Space fans!


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Earthquake Prep for Parents

I’m not sure why Earthquakes and other Natural Disasters are on my mind right now, but I’ve learned to just go with it and make use of those intuitive moments. Having lived in the SF Bay Area during the ’89 quake, I learned all too well how Earthquakes and other Natural Disasters can come out of nowhere, you need to prepare ahead of time. I’d rather take a few minutes and grab a First Aid kit here and there to give myself the peace of mind in case something does happen. Let’s just face it, as parents, there are plenty of opportunities to “raid” the First Aid kit over time as boo boo’s and accidents always happen.

Just yesterday I was at the park with my kids when I heard an adult say “Oh dang! That hurts!” I took the opportunity to ask if she was okay and if she needed Neosporin (knowing I keep one of the handy sprays in my purse). She was so appreciative and I knew I had made her day! I really can’t count how many times someone else’s child has gotten hurt and I’ve run to the car to grab a band-aid and antibiotic cream from the First Aid Kit in my car. It’s funny that I’ve rarely needed it for my own rough and tumble boys! But I don’t mind because I’ve always known it was there in case I needed it.

As parent it really is our job to be prepared. My husband always heckles me because I almost develop a twitch when the gas tank starts to get below ¼ tank! But I remember that gas stations were shut down (because of lack of power and safety) after the ’89 Loma Prieta Quake. I really have no interest in running out of gas and not being able to get home or pick up the kids after an Earthquake simply because I was running the car too close to empty! Whether you are a California parent or a Midwest parent, we all subject to some sort of Natural Disasters from time to time!

Don't put it off, take a couple minutes with me and grab one of these inexpensive First Aid Kits from Amazon (+ one for each car if you can!) and create a mini- action plan for your family in case we do have an Earthquake or other event. Trust me – everyone around you will appreciate you if you’re the prepared one! Also always keep atleast one flashlight (with batteries!) in the house and car.

Please share some of the things your family has done to prep, just in case...


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

18,000 Reasons to Leave Your Flip Flops Outside Door!

I just found this piece on MSNBC and was HORRIFIED! Since I am a self proclaimed flip flop-aholic, I will from this very second on be spraying my flip flops with Lysol on a weekly basis, using hand sanitizer more frequently (maybe 3x a day instead of once) and continuing to enforce the no shoes in the house rules!

I have found since being a mother of two boys that a no shoes in the house rule has dramatically cut down on the need for carpet cleaning and general “stuff” that gets tracked in to the house. But I’m now re-thinking my shoes just inside the front door rule and seriously debating a leave them OUTSIDE the door rule.

Are you a flip flop fan? Will you change any of your habits in light of this article? Tell me about it! I'll be back after I bathe my flip flops in Lysol...


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Easy Gourmet BBQ Chicken Pizza

I have been a huge fan of BBQ Pizza for years and have struggled to find one I love that delivers. I have to say, my search is over – I have made my own and it is SUPER easy! There are a number of ways to shortcut and simplify this recipe, but I’m going to tell you exactly how I made it last night and leave it up to you as to what parts you may or may not switch out! I highly recommend using a pizza stone to cook with (I’m adding a link to purchase an inexpensive one at at the end of the post). I’ve only recently purchased one and will never make pizza without it again!

-1 Whole Wheat pre-made pizza dough from Trader Joe’s (you could also make your own, but I had a Trader Joe’s one on hand and didn’t have the time to make my own dough)

-1 bottle barbeque sauce (I highly recommend a honey flavored or other sweet variety)

-1 cooked rotisserie Chicken (you could save $ by cooking your own, but I was running short on time)

-1 purple onion sliced (corn and pineapple would also be a great addition)

-1 package shredded mozzarella (of course it would also cost less to shred this on your own)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly flour the pizza stone with whatever type of flour you have on hand, I use Whole Wheat Flour. Form the Trader Joe’s dough carefully to fit the pizza stone. Allow to rise for 15 minutes, and then re-work the dough to fully fit the stone if it didn’t before. Let rise for an additional 15 minutes if you have time, or just begin adding the toppings. (If you’re not using a pizza stone, you’ll need to prebake the dough to prevent it from being too soft in the center) I smoothed a thin layer of the barbeque sauce over the dough. Then I lightly sprinkled the shredded mozzarella cheese over the pizza. I then added a couple handfuls of the chicken (hand shredded). Then add the sliced onions. Then sprinkle a small handful of mozzarella over the pizza. Cook in oven until the cheese just begins to golden. Remove from onion and cut using pizza cutter. Serve and Enjoy!

This has instantly become one of my favorite dinners! Let me know if you try it and if your family likes it as much as ours!!!

Here's the link to the pizza stone if you don't have one yet:


Monday, August 17, 2009

Scooter’s Jungle in Aliso Viejo Open Play Times for week of 8/17/09-8/21/09

Scooter Jungle in Aliso Viejo has announced its upcoming open play times for the next week. The Family Fun Night and All Ages Event look like a ton of fun for families this week!

Toddler Time:
Cost is $7/child (includes 1 adult) this is for ages 6 and under
Monday 8/17/09 10:30 am-12:00pm
Wednesday 8/19/09 10:30 am-12:00pm

Family Fun Night!
Cost is $9/child, $4/adult (pizza can be purchased for $2/slice)
Tuesday 8/18/09 5:30pm-8:30 pm

All Ages Event:

$8/child (includes 1 Adult)
Friday 8/21 7:00pm-9:00pm

For more information visit
Scooter’s Jungle is located at 25 Journey, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Best Times to Go Tide Pooling in Orange County August 15 to August 22, 2009

The best times to go Tide Pooling in Orange County are August 20th at approximately 3:30pm, August 21st at 4:30 pm and August 22 at 5:20 pm. One of our favorite locations is Crystal Cove State Beach (click here). Enjoy!

High Tides/Low Tides

August 15
Highs 7:34 am & 5:25 pm
Lows 12:24 am & 10:25 pm

August 16
Highs 8:07 am & 6:31 pm
Lows 1:18 am & 12:04 pm

August 17
Highs 8:37 am & 7:27 pm
Lows 2:02 am & 1:10 pm

August 18
Highs 9:07 am & 8:17 pm
Lows 2:42 am & 2:05 pm

August 19
Highs 9:39 am & 9:05 pm
Lows 3:19 am & 2:55 pm

August 20
Highs 10:11 am & 9:52 pm
Lows 3:55 am & 3:43 pm

August 21
Highs 10:45 am & 10:37 pm
Lows 4:29 am & 4:32 pm

August 22
Highs 11:19 am & 11:25 pm
Lows 5:02 am & 5:23 pm


Disneyland Adding New Parking Lot

Well, its official, Disneyland is building a new much needed parking area! Disneyland has already permanently closed the Timon parking lot (2,226 spaces) to make room for the Cars Land addition to California Adventure and it was becoming painfully clear that something needed to be done about the parking situation! The massive Mickey & Friends parking structure no longer provides enough parking for the guests to the park (we know this because of the massive wait times to get in to the structure that occur during peak visit times!).

This week Disney will present its plan to the Anaheim Planning Commission for approval to use the Strawberry fields it once purchased for the site of a third Theme Park for the added parking areas. To put it in perspective Disney has access to 28,893 spaces in Anaheim. I think it’s safe to say that Disney doesn’t currently have plans to build the third theme park in Anaheim with the current $1 billion improvements being done to California Adventure.

Other important links:

OC Register Story
Closure of Timon Parking Lot


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

BBQ’d Potato Rounds

This is a unique one and another excuse to breakout the George Forman Grill! (This recipe also works well on the BBQ)

Carefully slice several whole baking potatoes (Yukon Gold Potatoes would be a great also) in to equally thick slices (can be cut length wise or widthwise depending on your preference). Try to cut them about ¼ inch in thickness. Boil them in water for 10 minutes (they should be tender, but not fully cooked yet).

In a medium bowl, add 1/3 cup oil (Grapeseed or Olive Oil is fine), 2 tablespoons Lawry’s Garlic Salt. Stir. Add the partially cooked potato slices and stir gently, just enough to coat them.

Layer the slices on the George Foreman Grill and sprinkle freshly grated parmesan cheese over each slice. Cook until crisp (should be about 10 minutes).

The result is yummy potato fries without the fat of traditional fries! Enjoy. (My kids sure did enjoy them the other night!)


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Free Basketball Camp – A One Day Workshop in South County!

Are you looking for a fun activity for this Friday morning for the kids? Want the kids to learn new Basketball skills? Well, I've got exactly the place you need to be! On Friday August 14th, 2009 at San Juan Hills High School Main Gym in San Juan Capistrano (starting at 9:30 am and going until 12:30 pm), join D1 Workouts’ coaching staff, professional players and surprise NBA guests for games, camp exercises and the launch of the new Basketball Clinics and Youth Basketball Programs. There are t-shirts and prizes as well as autograph sessions! All ages and skill levels are invited to participate and it is a guaranteed fun morning with the bonus of skills improvement! The event is sponsored by Jerry’s Dogs, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Ladera Chiropractic, SportsClips and Avendale Insurance.

For more information go to

A little bit about Coach Williams & D1 Workouts-

Steve Williams started D1Workouts because he wanted to be able to give every ounce of knowledge about the game of basketball to others. During his first year of coaching at the college level, he noticed that many players did not have the fundamental skills that are needed at the grass root to learn the game of basketball correctly. Steve wanted to be able to give what he had gathered thorough out the years of playing to young student athletes that were willing to learn and work hard at becoming not only better players but better young men and woman as well. After researching the cost that some of these personal trainers were charging to teach athletes the game of basketball, without them even having firsthand experience, he was appalled. Steve's goal is to not only give athletes great coaching from all former division one and professional players, but also give them the opportunity to become better players and for some, earn college scholarships because of what they have learned from us at D1Workouts.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Bring on the Crowds, it's Basketball time!

Kids say the funniest things... well, it's true! Here's the latest from our house:

As I watched my baby walk on to the court this morning for his first day of basketball camp, I couldn’t help but grin and remember our conversation from the night before…

“Basketball camp is going to be so much fun tomorrow,” I said as I hugged him. We were making a last minute/late night run to Wal-Mart (well, because nothing else is open at 10pm on a Sunday night) and of course, I hadn’t gotten the confirmation email until then that said that Brett needed to bring a basketball for the camp…

“You and Kyle need to just let me do my thing Mom and not talk to me.” Brett’s shoulders were high and he walked with just a hint of ego.

My little boy had grown up right before my very eyes, he had thought this one through and had it all figured out in his mind. “But Brett, we aren’t going to stay and watch you, we’ll be leaving and the coaches will teach you how to play.”

“You know Mom, basketball camp isn’t what I thought it was going to be,” he said in this new found grown up tone.

“What do you mean?” Instantly my mind was racing… What had he thought it would be? Had I let him down? Was it a mistake putting him in the camp?

“Well, when you first told me about the camp, I thought I would be in a big stadium with a ton of people watching us, but when you showed me where it was going to be, it just wasn’t what I thought it would be.”

And there it is - Brett is ready for the fan fare. Go big or go home as they say. I’m proud of you, my baby. And yes, I’ll still be calling you my baby long after you have your own babies!


Two Super Easy, Super Healthy AND Inexpensive Side Dishes My Kids LOVE

We have one main rule around our house when it comes to dinner time – You must try one bite, and if you truly don’t like it, you don’t have to eat any more of it. So my goal is always to give the kids healthy side dish options with every meal so I know they are atleast partially filling up on nutrient packed food. Here are two of our favorite veggie side dishes:

Sautéed Spinach

In a medium skillet, add 2 teaspoons Grape Seed Oil and 3 Cloves fresh crushed garlic over medium heat. Sauté just until the garlic browns. Fill skillet with fresh washed spinach leaves (mounding), spinach will condense quickly so don’t worry about how high it is. As the Spinach begins to soften, gently stir to allow it to cook evenly. It should take less than 10 minutes, depending on your preferences for the spinach.

Once it is done, transfer to serving dish and lightly drizzle with Olive oil (or any oil you prefer, we have used grape seed as well as peanut oil, the peanut oil adds a wonderful nutty flavor). Drizzle balsamic vinegar and top with freshly shredded parmesan cheese (or feta works well also).


Steamed Fresh Broccoli

This one is about as easy as it gets and is a very easy way to pack in the veggies without the kids feeling like they are eating too much healthy food! I’ve gotten in to the habit of making the main course and creating a couple veggie packed side dishes. This encourages the kids to fill-up on some of the healthier foods instead of the carbohydrate rich pastas.

In veggie steamer, add 3 cups of fresh broccoli (it needs to be fresh to keep it tasting yummy!). Steam for approximately 25 minutes (again, this depends on how tender your prefer veggies).

Remove from steamer and serve directly on to plates. I normally drizzle with Ranch dressing. Easy as that!


Scooters Jungle Aliso Viejo Open Play Times Week of Aug 10 and 14th

If you are in or near Aliso Viejo, I'm sure you've heard about Scooter's Jungle (also read my blog post Here is your chance to pop in for an open play time if you haven't been there before. I guarantee you're kids will have a great afternoon!

All Ages Event: $8/child (includes 1 Adult)
Monday 8/10/09 4:00pm - 6:00pm
Friday 8/14/09 4:00pm - 6:00pm

Toddler Time: $7/child (this includes 1 Adult) this is for kids ages 6 & under
Tuesday 8/11/09 10:30am - 12:00pm
Thursday 8/13/09 10:30am - 12:00pm

For more information go to or call (949)349-9090

Scooter's Jungle is located at 25 Journey, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656


Friday, August 7, 2009

Tide Pooling Time in Orange County!

One of our favorite family adventures in Southern California is Tide pooling. I’m always surprised to hear how many SoCal residents haven’t taken the time to go. Maybe it’s because I’m such a beach lover that it has naturally rubbed off on my children, who knows. But I’ve always found that I start to get the itch to go to the beach if it’s been more than a week or two. There’s just something about the sound of the waves crashing on the beach and the sweet smell of the ocean mist. Whatever it is – I’m hooked!

As I was “surfing” through the App store on my iPhone I found this really cool App called Tide Graph by Brainware. I downloaded it and have got to say it is pretty cool! Whether you’re a surfer, beachgoer or boater, this little App will definitely come in handy. What it allows you to do is find the tides according to your location (using GPS) and it tells you in real time where the tide is at (in feet) and shows you the wave curves so you easily know whether the tide is coming in our going out. No more guessing or having to look it up on the internet before going to the beach – it’s all right there on your phone!

And for those thinking “Oh, Cool! ... but I don’t have an iPhone!” Here are a few of the best times to go tide pooling here in Orange County, CA over the next week or so. (I’ll try an continue to post these under the Tides archive tag, so check back if you’re looking to go tide pooling.)

-Saturday 8/8/09- Low tide is at 5:04 pm and the tide will have dropped about 3 feet from it’s peak, so it should be a good one.

-Sunday 8/9/09- Low tide is at 5:30 am and 5:45 pm. If you’re game to get up early, I’d head out there at 8 am, the tide will be coming back in, but will still be pretty low after a high tide overnight.

-Monday 8/10/09- Almost the same as 8/9/09 with the tide not being quite a low.

-Tuesday 8/11/09- Low tide is at 7:43 pm and this is following a really high tide, so there should be some really cool tide pooling and a beautiful sunset to match!

Happy Tide Pooling!


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Big Thunder Mountain Disneyland Goat Trick!

Now this is becoming a bit of an Urban Legend, but this one really is true. Have you ever heard of the “Goat Trick” on this ride? I’m not sure where it really started and I don’t think I actually ever heard of it anywhere before I figured it out, but the first time I heard a reference to “The Goat Trick”, there was no question I knew what it was! Now be very careful not to over think this one, it really is quite simple, just follow a few simple steps the next time you are on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and you’ll soon be sure to be in on the trick!

As you begin to climb hill number two (this is the long climb with the snakes and turtles on the left), position yourself comfortably in the left corner of the seat so you are at an angle looking out the right side of the train. Be sure to stare at the Billy Goat on the raised area on the right and look at it absolutely as long as you can, literally until you can’t see it anymore. You’ll end up really dizzy and disoriented by the end of the turn and it’s just lots of fun.

The next time you ride Big Thunder and you see a Mom in the back with her two boys, I bet ya it’s me! Say Hi, we’ll do the Goat Trick together!

Show off that your a member of the Goat trick Club!

make custom gifts at Zazzle
You have to be over 40 inches tall to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and the castmembers will check any children close to that height several times. We love this ride because it is a lot of fun and doesn’t have big drops. You mostly experience a lot of g-forces as you go down several sudden small drops then around the curves. You have a lap bar per row, so I always wrap my arm around Kyle (who is a little smaller) because during some of the sudden drops younger kids bounce up an inch or two. By wrapping my arm around him it solves the problem completely. Do remove any hats- I have seen quite a few almost blown away.

Our biggest tip about this ride is to be sure to make use of the Fastpasses. You rarely have to wait more than an hour after picking up your Fastpass and in that time you can go ride another ride. Fastpasses are distributed throughout the day unlike Space Mountain. When you are about to enter the queue line to use your Fastpass- get another set of fastpasses. You can do this as soon as you are 1 minute in to your return time window. You’ll be able to get two rides in a very short time no matter how long the queue line is.

We highly recommend sitting in row 15 (or close to it), because the ride is more fun that way. Sitting too close to the front of the train, makes for a much less thrilling ride in our opinion. As you crest the hills you are left slowly going over them while the back of the train finishes the climb. You can ask a castmember to seat you at the back of the train, you may have to wait for the next train, but it only adds a couple minutes at the most. Well worth the wait if you ask Brett and Kyle.

Have you tried the Goat Trick? Post a comment about it!


Discounts on Toys at Toy Town, Ladera Ranch, CA

Toy Town in Ladera Ranch, CA ( is offering a fantastic deal and I couldn’t help but share it!

They are selling two levels of Preferred Customer Club Cards, Gold and Platinum levels. The Gold Card costs $100 and you’ll receive 10% all purchases made with that card. The Platinum Card costs $250, but you receive 20% off all purchases made with that card! Both cards can be renewed and do not expire. The cards are now available until December 31st. Toy town will also be holding special shopping events and promotions for preferred customer club card holders!

This is a great way to support a locally owned business and save some money on your birthday and holiday shopping! This is just one more thing that makes Toy Town a great place to shop. My personal favorite is that you can pop in there last minute before a party, pick something out and they will wrap it (free of charge) or put it in a gift bag for you while they ring up your purchases. You'll be in and out of the store within minutes! They will also create the party favor bags for you if you are hosting a birthday party. Wow, what a time saver and headache reliever!

Thanks Toy Town!

Toy Town is located at 25632 Crown Valley Parkway, Suite B-5, Ladera Ranch, CA 92694


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

SeaWorld San Diego Spooktacular is a Must See!

If you’re looking for Halloween Adventures, it’s not too early to start making your plans! Here’s another fun theme park that goes all out at Halloween, Sea World San Diego ( SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular runs on weekends October 3rd through November 1st this year. Kids are welcome to come in costume and entrance is included with Park Admission. Spooktacular runs from 1:00pm to 6:00pm.

I wonder if Shamu wears a costume? Now that would be a sight to see!


Sultan Market Place, Lake Forest, CA

I’m always on the lookout for super fresh produce with great quality, and if I can catch it at a great deal, fantastic! Well, I’ve found one of those places, located right here in South Orange County. It’s called Sultan Market Place in Lake Forest (just 2 minutes east of I-5), across from the BevMo right by the Fuddruckers.

I have to be honest, I really didn’t know what to expect, but figured I’d pop in and check it out since I’d heard they had fantastic prices and produce that hasn’t spent weeks getting here from a farm (they work to support local farms whenever possible).

I was a bit intimidated walking in to the market, because it is clearly not the standard type of grocery store, it has a clearly Arabic variety of packaged goods, and I am just not as familiar with Arabic cooking. But, wow! The prices are amazing and the level of quality is great! I didn’t have time to pick up any of the prepared foods, but certainly plan on tasting some of the amazing looking sandwiches the next time I go back (which will be VERY soon!). I bought what seemed to be a ton of groceries (with an emphasis on fruits and veggies) and spent a grand total of $31.00! What a deal. Next time you’re in the area, I’d highly recommend stopping in and checking it out, I promise you’ll become a fan. One part I love is that the produce was obviously fresh because it has stayed fresh far longer than the groceries I buy at "regular" grocery stores.

Sultan Market Place is located at 23611 El Toro Road, Lake Forest, CA 92630 Telephone:(949) 588-2924


Monday, August 3, 2009

Delicious Homemade Nachos

After reading through my posts, I am sure you have at least started to wonder if we are vegetarians… And the answer is no, well, not really… But I must confess that I really do have vegetarian tendencies when I cook, for whatever sense that makes! We are by no means true vegetarians, but to increase our health I’ve really made the effort to cook mostly vegetarian meals at home so that we eat less meat and feel less guilty about having a hamburger here or there (it also saves on the grocery bill!). But enough about that, on to tonight’s dinner! (I’ll create a separate post for the side dish sautéed spinach that was an unexpected hit with the kids).

Homemade Nachos!

-One Bag of Good Corn Tortilla Chips
-Preshredded mixed Colby and jack cheese
-Preshredded mozzarella cheese (about 1 cup)
-2 cups chopped zuchinni, red pepper and onion
-Olive Oil

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Sautee the veggies in a teaspoon of oil in a skillet until tender. Set aside.
Layer the tortilla chips on a cookie sheet (use a special nonstick mat or spray lightly with non-stick spray to prevent the chips from sticking to the cookie sheet. Sprinkle the veggies over the chips, and then top with a mixture of the cheeses. Cook in oven until the very first hints of browning on the cheese.

Serve with sour cream, guacamole and/or salsa as dip. My kids love this dinner and we make it frequently. I constantly sneak new veggies in to the sauté mix and the kids eat all of it. I’ve also served spinach hummus dip on the side, which adds even more veggies! But tonight I served it with my fresh bruschetta (with homemade tomatoes on toasted ciabatta bread) and sautéed spinach. Be sure to check out my recipe for Bruschetta in the archives if you haven't yet, it is always a favorite among family and friends!


Cox Sports Park, Ladera Ranch, CA

We love the Cox Sports Park in Ladera Ranch, California for a number of reasons. As a Mom, I like the park because it is off of the main road (Crown Valley Parkway), peaceful, yet not far from things. I also really like the park because it is fully covered, so you don’t have to worry about putting sunscreen on the kids, or running home to get it before going to the park. A downside to the park though, is the closest bathroom is quite a distance from the playground and certainly not convenient (it is located at the snack bar area where the four fields come together).

I have found this park is great to go to during the weekdays with the kids, I’d just be careful not to go during normal sporting event times, as it can get very congested with spillover parents/kids from the attached fields.

There is a water fountain at the playground and benches for the parents, as well as a large gazebo area available for reservations. The park is located directly across the street from a Burger King, Starbucks, Taco Mesa and Albertsons, so it is quite easy to pick up snacks, drinks and/or dinner to eat at the park. Parking is normally super easy, but again during busy soccer or baseball games, it could be a problem.

The park is located at: 27623 Crown Valley Parkway, Ladera Ranch, CA 92694

Helpful links:

Related Posts with Thumbnails

About This Blog


Blog Archive

Blog Directory & Search engine Personal Blogs - Blog Rankings Family Affairs Blogs - Blog Catalog Blog Directory

  © Blogger template Blue Surfing by 2008

Back to TOP