Thursday, April 30, 2009

Old Sacramento

Last weekend we went back. Back to that neck of the woods I called home for nine years, Sacramento. It was weird to be back. I wasn't sure I was ready to fully embrace my old home town. When I left, I was ready. Really, really ready. It got to the point where I couldn't find one redeeming quality about that place. But this past weekend, Sacramento was redeemed a bit. We were in town for my best friend's wedding (which was fantastic by the way) and had a day to kill so we checked in to the Embassy Suites (which rock) and enjoyed some time in Old Sacramento.

I have been to Old Sacramento more times than I can count. Sometimes to go costume shopping at Evangeline's and others to enjoy a little nightlife. This time I went to meet up with an old friend and let my kids see the "toot toots".

Like most children their age, my kids love trains. And if there is one thing Sacramento does right, its trains. According to many  trainophiles, the California State Railroad Museum is one of the best. We opted not to go inside due to time constraints but the kids did have a great time climbing on the caboose out front and watching a steam engine being tested on the tracks in preparation for the opening of the spring train ride season. Sadly, we were two days too early to ride the train but I know we will be back and the kids will love every minute of their authentic Steam Engine Train Ride along the Sacramento River.

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Then of course we had to stop in the candy store and pick out our favorites from the barrels of salt water taffy and other sugary treats.

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Finally we ended our trip at the toy store. They have an awesome model train display and so many neat toys to play with. You can't go in there and not want to touch everything. Watching how much my kids loved playing with the train set solidified my decision to get them a train set for their birthday in a few months.  If you find yourself in Sacramento, take the time to stroll through Old Sacramento. It really is a very cool place.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

One Week Until Tuesday Blog Party

Just one week from today, the First Annual Tuesday Blog Party will be starting.
It is being thrown in honor of my dear friend, JK's,  daughter Tuesday, who sadly lost her 8 month battle with neuroblastoma in January.
Debi is hosting the blog party over at her fundraiser blog and will be auctioning off some fantastic items on all of her blogs. I will be auctioning something as well over on my blog. You can enter each contest just by simply donating ONE DOLLAR to the Tuesday Fiona Whitt Foundation.
But that's not all!
Lots of other bloggers will be auctioning off awesome things and you can too.
Just grab these buttons, put them on your blog and on May 4th, sign in on Debi's blog.

Get In On The Fun & Grab a Button!


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Be Sure To Grab the Paypal Button for Your Blog!

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Dedication and other Easter fun

I know this is a blog about travel and getting out and doing fun stuff with your kids but its also my blog and today this proud momma is gonna gush about her babies.

This Easter was extra special because it was also the day my children were Dedicated to God. We were honored to have my aunt's father do the ceremony. He is the same man who performed our marriage ceremony and a man who inspires me to be a better person. Pastor Ray may be tiny in stature but is one of the biggest men I know. He selflessly donates countless hours of his life helping the homeless and hand makes beautiful crosses for donations which he passes on to those in need. He is going to be 90 this year and if I could be as vibrant at 90 as he is, I would be a very happy woman.  Ben and Mari are typical two year olds and asking them to sit still during a religious ceremony is like asking them to solve a calculus problem yet somehow when it came time for Ray to bless them they suddenly sat perfectly still. I call that divine intervention. After the ceremony they were presented with small crosses as keepsake of their very special day. Then they were off to hunt eggs and enjoy the beautiful weather we were blessed with. Below are a few pictures from our big day and here in a link to my Picasa Web Album with even more great Easter shots.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Spring Road Trip Playlist Contest



Today's post is a plea for you all to vote for me in Spring Road Trip Playlist Contest put on by Rand McNally. You know, the map people. A while back I entered their name the song playlist contest and both of my entries made the finals! Sweet! For the Classic Playlist I submitted Roadtrippin'. You can vote for me here:

For the Mainstream Playlist I submitted Driven to Drive. You can vote for this one here:


First prize is a 3 night stay at any La Quinta property which I would LOVE to have so I beg, I plead, please vote for me! Thanks!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Tucson Part 4: Go West My Friend


I couldn't finish my series on our trip to Tucson without writing about the fantastic resort we stayed at called the Westward Look Resort (and I couldn't finish this post until I recovered my pictures from my dead computer. Thank you Paul!). I found a fantastic deal on Travel Zoo and saw nothing but positive ratings on Trip Advisor so I was very excited to be staying there. Westward Look is the oldest resort in Tucson and has seen many changes during the many decades it has been around. It is located at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains on 80 beautiful acres of rolling desert.


My expectations of the resort were not met, they were exceeded.  The rooms were incredibly nice and recently remodeled. Our room had two flat screen tvs, a comfortable living area, and two queen sized beds. Pack n plays were provided by the hotel for the kids to sleep in. Our balcony gave us an excellent view of the grounds and the gorgeous mountains beyond.  The room service was excellent and I highly recommend the chocolate nachos. They are to die for. Drool is slowly running down my chin just thinking about them.....


The grounds are amazing They are landscaped with desert flora and the fragrance of desert blooms followed me wherever I strolled. It was impossible to not notice the sweet chirping of birds who were enjoying their warm winter grounds. There were two different trails on the property that the kids and I loved walking. We found a chef's garden , a stone labyrinth, and a variety of different ramadas to explore. The kids loved spotting woodpeckers, rabbits, and lizards as we strolled around the property. The highlight for Mari was visiting the horse corral and saying hi to all the horses.

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There is a Sonoran Spa on site (oh how I wish I could gotten to know that aspect of the resort better), horseback riding, sports fields, multiple pools, and tennis courts. The onsite dining includes  the more casual  Lookout Bar and Grille  or  fine dining at Gold.



If you would like more information on the Westward Look Resort please check out my review at Travel Savvy Mom

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Discovery Science Center

I have been a Bank of America client since the early 80s. Back then my mom set up a savings account for me and my birthday money slowly accumulated in that account until I blew it all my first year of college (damn you beer!) Well all my years as a loyal BofA customer are finally paying off. Finally something free! Bank of America has a program called Museums on Us which gets you in to museums for free just by showing your Bank of America card at  the ticket window on specified days of the month. There are museums from California to Maine participating in this promotion. One of the museums in our area participating is the Discovery Science Center. It is located only a couple miles from Disneyland and its a great place to take kids to learn about science and have lots of fun in the process.

The museum has many of great exhibits such as the hurricane wind tunnel, a stream where kids can build levees or form lakes using sand (or throw the sand into the water no matter how many times you tell them not to...), and a rock wall.

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Where else can you lie on a bed of nails?

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Here is what Paul looks like pushed into the pinwall. Pretty creepy but oh so fun to do.

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And don't get me started on all the ball exhibits. Too late. You already did. There is a place where kids can put balls into a thing that lets them spin down, down, down, into a hole. My kids could have done this all day. While they did this we checked out the air and space exhibits. Then we literally dragged Ben from the spinning ball vortex of fun, kicking and screaming. The fit lasted for quite some time. Yep. If you were there on Saturday he was the kid on the floor screaming. You know. The one who's parents stuck him in front of the Zamboni because they wanted to get a picture of what looked like him about to get run over. Yeah. That kid.

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Have no fear. The were more balls to eventually bring the boy out of his fit. From the Science of Hockey Exhibit (yes, I know its technically a puck. But to a two year old, round is round) to testing the speed of your pitching arm to creating a track on a giant magnetic wall, to learning how hot air balloons work (Its round. Its  a ball) to virtual volleyball, there is more balltastic fun for everyone.

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Balls not your thing (Ben must not be your name)? Well how about driving a bus or creating a touch screen work of art or testing your strength on a pulley or a grip tester?


But that's just the stuff inside. Outside there is a huge dinosaur exhibit where you can go on a dino-scavenger hunt and have fun playing in the cave of the Tyranosaurus Rex. Finally during April 4-19 is Bubblefest. There are tons of bubble exhibits and Fan Yang (an international bubble superstar) is putting his Mega Bubble Show for an additional fee. Good stuff!

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So next time you are in town for a Disney vacation consider taking a break from all things Disney and try having some educational fun over at the Discovery Science Center. If you live in Socal, next time the weather outside is less than desirable, head on over for some indoor fun. Whether you are 2 or 92, I think you will have a great time.

PS- Once again I have to thank Just Spotted for the tip! Check out their April calendar for more great ideas.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Irvine Regional Park Easter Eggstravaganza

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Yesterday we went to paradise for toddlers. A land filled with pony rides, Easter egg hunts, hay rides, bounce houses, playgrounds, cotton candy, hot dogs, and french fries surrounded by train tracks used by a pint-sized railroad. Put simply- Easter Eggstravaganza at Irvine Regional Park rocks! It goes on now through Saturday and I highly encourage anyone in the area who has children 8 and under to hightail it on over there!

The kids had an absolute blast and Mari even found a sparkly green  prize egg with a free admission to the Orange County Zoo inside! The zoo is located in the park which means we will be heading back soon. Not that we needed the motivation. I would say our highlights included riding the ponies (only $4 and it was a long ride. We have done our fair share of pony rides and I would consider this one a bargain), hunting for eggs (the hunt is broken up by age range), riding the train (or "toot toot" as my kid call it), and eating their first cotton candy. I think I will let the pictures do most of the talking today. Oh- and I would love to give a shout out to Just Spotted for tipping me off to this fantastic event! Thanks ladies!

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Friday, April 3, 2009

Hippity Hoppity Easter's on its Way!

Yesterday we were lucky enough to get a visit from the Easter Bunny. Yes I know Easter is over a week away but when the Easter Bunny knocks on your door, you answer! It was supposed to be a surprise for Mari and Ben but Ben had other plans. Evidently he was still tired from going to California Adventure the day before (I forgot my camera. Yes. Me. I know) and decided to check out of therapy about 20 minutes early to head upstairs for a nap. Mari was also sleepy and asking to go take a nap. This never happens. I panicked. I called the Easter Bunny Hotline and let Ms. Bunny know what kind of a situation we were dealing with. She was already dressed up in fully bunny regalia and ready to go so I talked Mari into staying up a few minutes more because we had a surprise. Luckily the Easter Bunny and her posse showed up quickly and Mari was very excited to see she came bearing gifts!

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    The Easter Bunny and her mafia come to see Mari

Mari danced with the Easter Bunny and Aunt MiMi to Peter Cottontail and the Hokey Pokey. After some coaxing even agreed to take a picture on her lap.

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Then the Easter Bunny asked if she could at least peak in on the sleeping Ben.

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We just wanted to get a sleepy picture but Ben must have sensed the presence of someone special because he suddenly he popped up with a smile on face and headed down to join the party and get his gift.


We were all sleepy (note the look of pure exhaustion in my eyes) but so happy to have our special visit from the Easter Bunny.


We are looking forward to having more Easter fun in the coming week and especially looking forward to Mari and Ben's dedication on Easter Sunday! Stay tuned for more Easter action!