Sunday, August 23, 2009

California State Tule Elk Reserve


As many of you know, the California's State Parks are in serious trouble due to budget cuts. In an attempt to bring attention to all the wonderful state parks California has to offer, I will be featuring a different CA State Park every week. I hope to bring attention to these treasures to increase awareness of what the state park system has to offer and encourage others to stand up and help protect these important places .

Say you are driving down I5 from San Francisco on your way to LA for a week of fun at the beach. You have been driving for hours, your kids have asked you if "we are there yet" no less than 400 times and if you see another mile of tomato plants your eyeballs might literally pop out of your head. You think to yourself, if only there were some stately wildlife to look at instead of row after row of dreadfully boring (yet deeply appreciated) tomato vines. Well do I have some good news for you! There is an entire reserve filled with stately wildlife just 3 miles off I5 halfway between Boringsville and Nowhere! I didn't believe it either until I saw it.

The California State Tule Elk Reserve is a nice place to stop, stretch your legs, have a picnic, and enjoy the elk. The scenery isn't particularly stunning but the animals most certainly are. The day we went the elk were at the far end of the range. We were barely able to make them out by sight but with help of the telescope on the viewing platform, we saw the elk just fine.

The Tule Elk Reserve is certainly more interesting and less scary than going to a truck stop and being oggled by a man named Bubba who has been on the road waaayyyyy too long. It is also alot less disgusting than letting your kids run around in a McDonald's indoor playground. Is it worth a trip on its own? Probably not. But if you are driving down I5 and are looking for an interesting place to stop, check it out.




They're out there. I swear. They are the three or four little black things dead center.


Road Trip 0923

Friday, August 21, 2009

Camp Hyatt on Assignment Contest

Camp Hyatt


Oh how I wish I had a 6 to 12 year old. Not just because they can dress themselves and pour their own cereal. No, this is purely to facilitate my desire to be on vacation as much as possible. Finally, your kids can help you get a free overnight stay at a really nice resort in Orange County. Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach is giving an overnight stay the family who's child wins the "On Assignment" contest for Camp Hyatt. Here are the details:

Hyatt Logo


HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (August 20, 2009) –  Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa is inviting local kids to participate in the Camp Hyatt ‘On Assignment’ contest, where they have the chance to win a vacation at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa. In order to enter participants will film and submit a 1-2 minute video detailing why they want to be the Camp Hyatt ‘On Assignment’ reporter.  Children staying at the resort are also encouraged to participate; a videographer will be set up on property so guests can film their videos.

Kids will film and submit a 1-2 minute video detailing why they want to be the Camp Hyatt ‘On Assignment’ reporter and which Camp Hyatt activities they would enjoy most and why. Videos will be submitted by email or mail and sent to the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa, attention Kelly Olsen, Submissions are due by August 31, 2009.  
The kid with the most creative and entertaining video will win an overnight stay at the Hyatt Resort for them and three guests and their own Camp Hyatt experience. Parental consent forms must be completed in order to be considered. For more information on Camp Hyatt at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa visit

Hyatt-Slyders Photos 037

Dig It!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I've Been Just Spotted!


I am absolutely thrilled to announce that I won the editor's choice award in the "Best Kid and Family Friendly Site" category at the Just Spotted Awards! Okay so editor's choice might be a fancy way of saying second place but I still, how cool is that? I was in a category with so many bloggers that I love to read and truly admire. I feel so proud.  The awards ceremony was last night but unfortunately I could not attend because after a long day at my Grandmother's funeral and reminiscing with family afterwards, I was too emotionally and physically exhausted. Of all the days! Oh well. I guess I will just have to work extra hard and get nominated again next year so I can go. Thank you so very, very much to everyone who voted for me. It means so much to have your support. Thank you to the ladies at Just Spotted for putting this all together. Your blog deserves the Best Blog in Orange County award for sure.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Help Kick Pediatric Cancer's Butt

Today I would like to feature a cause and giveaway a fellow twin mom of mine is doing to help support Pediatric Cancer Research. It involves cookies, oatmeal raisin bath products and funding pediatric cancer research. What more do I need to say other then check it out here!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Torrey Pines State Beach

As many of you know, the California's State Parks are in serious trouble due to budget cuts. In an attempt to bring attention to all the wonderful state parks California has to offer, I will be featuring a different CA State Park every Saturday (used to be every Saturday but I haven't been able to get my act together lately.) . I hope to bring attention to these treasures to increase awareness of what the state park system has to offer and encourage others to stand up and help protect these important places .

Torrey Pines is a place known for its, well, pine trees. They are the rarest pine trees in the world and their beauty provides a stark contrast between the forest on the bluffs and the sandy beach below. We visited Torrey Pines State Reserve this past Father's Day and enjoyed the trails and scenery the reserve had to offer. Then we walked down to hill and over to the beach. I had never been to Torrey Pines State Beach and I wasn't disappointed. It was just another example of the little pockets of paradise that can be found  all the way down the Southern Californian Coast.  Gorgeous surf, sand, and sky to enjoy with family and friends. Weather in the mid seventies with a slight ocean breeze. A flock of pelicans flying overhead. Ahh yes, this is the life.




lotsa pelicans

5 pelicans

Thursday, August 13, 2009

In Memory of Nanny

Family is a constant. It has been with me since I took my first breath and it will be with me until I take my last. Family will always be the most important thing in my life. These are the people who I may not have seeked out on my own but were given to me by God, because he knows infinitely more than I ever will. Our differences may be great but our similarities through blood, marriage and life help us form bonds that are unlike any other. When one member of the family is lost, the entire family feels the gaping hole they leave behind. My grandmother was called to heaven this week and the hole she left behind is overwhelming.

Nanny, as I have always called her, was a woman who dedicated her life to family. She raised her five children (including two sets of twins in two years!), two of her grandchildren, and played a very significant role in raising a couple of her great grandsons as well. She took care of others until she could no longer take care of herself. She was always so strong and independent. Never one afraid to let her opinion known. In those ways, I am alot like her. And I am grateful. I am also grateful for her love. She may not have been the grandma who spoiled me with gifts or even called me on my birthday but that never really bothered me. She showed her love in other ways. She gave herself to those who needed her the most at the time.

When I was seven she took me with her to Hawaii so I could see my other grandparents. She could have brought anyone with her on her first big vacation after my Grandpa died but she chose me because she knew it was important for me to meet my father's parents. Sure, I had "met" them when I was a baby but I had no memories of that time. I do have memories of that trip to Hawaii where I was able to spend time with both of my grandmothers together. It was the last time I would ever see my other grandmother and the only visual memory I have of her. What a gift.

I will miss knowing she will be at every Christmas and Thanksgiving, happy to see us all and ready to leave her lipstick on our cheeks. I will miss her spunk and her laugh. I will miss her smell. Funny how grandma's always seem to have a comforting smell. I know she is at peace now. I know she is with Grandpa and her brother and sisters. And I know she will welcome us all when our time comes. But until then, we will miss her. And we will continue to feel the hole she left in all of our hearts.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Give-Away for Tuesday

My friend, Debi, was approached by Janel Russell to show off their GORGEOUS jewelry and after doing some consulting, and telling them a bit about sweet Tuesday, they decided that they would like to help her out with a fundraiser! How awesome are they!?!?
They sent her this beautiful necklace to auction off!!!!

It's a Mother and 2 children (or twins) It's a GORGEOUS Sterling silver piece and worth $55

So, to enter... here's all you have to do...
Go to Janel Russell's site and have a look around. Come back here and let me know what your favorite piece is.
To enter in the auction, simply donate $1 HERE. (all proceeds go to the Tuesday Fiona Whitt Foundation and Neuroblastoma Research
If you don't have paypal and want to enter, please contact Debi HERE and she will work something out :)
If you donate $2, you get 2 entries (and so on)
To get additional entries, PLEASE SPREAD the word about the give-away.
Place the button on your blog for an entry.

Grab the Button!
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Tweet for an entry. Blog for an entry. Send emails. Facebook, etc....
The more people who enter, the more money we raise for pediatric cancer research!
The contest runs from now until August 24th..
And, as an additional bonus, from now until September, 10% of all "Twin/Triplet" purchases made from Janel Russell will be donated to the Tuesday Fiona Whitt Foundation. So, get ready for the holidays early and support pediatric cancer research at the same time!
Good luck and the winner will be chosen, via Debi's very first VLOG entry!

And, just because I think you should see it... when you are done checking out the jewelry and entering my contest, please check out Tuesday's Name Gallery. Back when Tuesday was sick, my sweet friend Tamara, came up with this idea, so that all of Jess' friends could let her know that Tuesday was always in our thoughts. Tamara took our creations and made them into a pillow for Jess and now, you can view them :)
PLEASE feel free to send your own versions of Tuesday's name, to let Jess know you think of Tuesday often too. (believe me when I say this, it helps Jess & family to know...)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Huntington State Beach

As many of you know, the California's State Parks are in serious trouble due to budget cuts. In an attempt to bring attention to all the wonderful state parks California has to offer, I am participating in State Park Saturdays. I will be featuring a different CA State Park every Saturday (unless I have a Saturday like I did this past Saturday. Then it will be State Park Monday...) . If you don't live in CA then feature a state park in your home state. Let's bring attention to these treasures to increase awareness of what the state park system has to offer and encourage others to stand up and help protect these important places .


Its the quintessential Southern California beach. Wide sprawls of sand filled with umbrellas, mats, and families. Tourists on bicycles they rented at the stand next to the shack that serves hamburgers and shakes. Street performers gathering money from eager audience members to see if he will clear the jump over all those people (he will). Fishermen casting lines off of the pier hoping they will have something to bring home for dinner. Surfers crowding the area with the best break while onlookers wonder how a kid can make something so hard look so easy. Its Surf City just as Jan and Dean sang about it back in 1963. Well, almost.

 Eric's pictures Huntington Beach3



Eric's pictures Huntington Beach1 



Eric's pictures Huntington Beach2





Thanks to Erik for taking some great pictures during our recent trip to Huntington Beach and welcome to the family!    

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Fresh Air Fund

Donate to The Fresh Air Fund and change a child's life forever

Can you imagine growing up never having seen a forest, taken a hike, or explored the great outdoors? There are thousands of children who live in inner cities and the closest they get to nature is the city park. They live in tough neighborhoods and often lose out on the opportunity to truly be a kid. What if you could help a child spend a couple weeks outside of the concrete jungle and help them go on their first camping trip or hike? Well if you live in the Northeast you can. The Fresh Air Fund helps NYC children get out of the city by placing them host families who can give the kids an opportunity to get to know more than asphault and high rises. These kids would love to play in the backyard, learn to swim, or ride a bike. If you are interested in helping host a child for two weeks click here. If you can't host a child this year, donations are always appreciated and you can learn more about that here.  If you help with time or money this year than try to spread the word and help find people who can help. These kids deserve some fun!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Roadtrip Day 9- Revelstoke and Glacier

We visited four Canadian National Parks and five US National Parks during our 24 days on the road. The first one we came across was Mt Revelstoke National Park, about an hour east of Salmon Arm. I had never heard of Mt Revelstoke until I started researching our trip. It is a small park, situated alongside the Trans-Canadian highway and if you didn't know to look for it, you would barely notice it was there. A tiny sign signaled us to turn off for the Meadows in the Sky Parkway so I quickly swerved over and prayed Jess had enough time to get over as well. Luckily she did and soon we were heading up a windy, rainy road towards the summit. I watched the car thermometer quickly drop from the 60s down to 40.  We passed through forest of cedar, hemlock, spruce and fir and after 16 switchbacks, we reached roads end at Balsam Lake. We bundled up and  headed over to the shuttle station to wait for our ride to the top. The rain was falling and we were wondering what was taking the shuttle so long to arrive. We checked out the trail to the top and decided maybe we should just take it instead of waiting. Mazzy was cold and didn't want to walk so Jess hauled out the stroller. After a couple hundred feet, found the trail to be not so stroller friendly. There was still snow on the ground in spots and parts of the trail were muddy and steep. Back down the hill we went to wait. And wait. And wait. Finally another tourist informed us that the shuttle was not running today. The National Park website said the shuttle would run daily. No park ranger informed either one of us that the shuttle was not running when we paid our fees.We had just wasted our time freezing in the rain for nothing! By that point the children were growing irritable, the rain was coming down harder and taking the trail was just looking like a bad idea. Not a good start to our National Park tour. There was a subalpine meadow filled with wildflowers with my name on it and we just weren't going to be able to see it. We said goodbye to beautiful Balsam Lake, packed our kids back in the cars and headed back on down those 16 switchbacks. I hope one day we can go back and get to know Revelstoke a bit better.

Road Trip 0917



The next National Park we encountered that day was Glacier National Park. This was another small National Park along the Trans-Canadian Highway filled with glacier covered peaks and temperate rainforests (not that we could see the glacier covered peaks since the cloud cover was so low).  Most of the trails in Glacier were uphill and advanced for the toddler set so we settled on taking a boardwalk tour of the hemlock grove. We received plenty of rain during our time in the rainforest and honestly, it only added to the experience. Everything was so lush and green. Little streams meandered underneath us carrying the rainwater down the mountain. It was warm enough to enjoy the rain and the kids loved catching droplets in their mouths.




Road Trip 0918

Ben, being true to character, insisted on bringing a ball along with him on the boardwalk. Even after a stern lecture about not dropping the ball off the boardwalk, temptation took hold and off it rolled. My first instinct was to tell him "too bad" and let him learn the consequences of not listening to Mommy but then guilt crept into my mind. The ball was made of plastic and there was no way that I could leave it there to never biodegrade and tarnish the otherwise pristine forest. Normally I would never condone anyone walking off trail because of the damage it can do to the ecosystem but in this case I felt it was the right thing to do. There was no way for me to climb off the boardwalk where he dropped the ball so we walked to the end of the boardwalk and I proceeded to wade my way through the forest. I say wade because getting to that ball involved me crossing two streams and getting poked countless times by some seriously sharp and seriously soaked waist high underbrush. The recovery was made, I was soaked and the boy was happy.


(Look closely and you can see a white object near the wooden pole. That is the soccer ball I had to retrieve. Lesson learned- leave the ball in the car)  

We continued to drive through Yoho and Banff National Parks and even though I was tempted to stop, I knew we would have to explore them the next day. We settled into our awesome condo at the Hidden Ridge Resort. It was so nice to have a full kitchen, a living room, and room to spread out. We tucked the kids in, planned our itinerary for the next day, and watched the rain come down on our balcony. It was a long and memorable day.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Roadtrip Day 8- Salmon Arm


Its rains ALOT in Western Canada.  Vancouver receives nearly 44 inches and it seems to fall at a slow, steady pace whenever I am in the area. Sure, it makes life wet but it also makes the environment gorgeously green.  We passed through what felt like an endless forest of green as we drove east. Supposedly I was on the more direct and less scenic route but I found the lakes, rivers, forests, and mountains that we cruised through to be incredibly scenic. British Columbia is just filled with so much beauty that it seems impossible to disappoint.

We arrived in Salmon Arm, a small resort town halfway between Vancouver and Calgary, in the early afternoon. Plenty of time to stretch our legs and enjoy the break in the clouds before our friends Jess, Mazzy, and baby Cairo were going to meet up with us for this leg of our trip. Jess is one of my best friends. We met in the dorms in college and have been great friends ever since.  Her daughter is only six months older than my little ones so she is the perfect playmate. Jess and her husband moved up to Calgary over a year ago after living with me or near me for the past 12 years and I missed them dearly. Visiting them and going to the Calgary Stampede was the main inspiration for our entire trip.  With only a couple hours before our reunion, the kids and I decided to explore the shore of Shuswap Lake just outside the back door of our hotel, the Prestige Harbourfront Resort. I was absolutely giddy when we got up to our hotel room and could see a nesting pair of ospreys from our window. It was amazing to watch one of the birds fly out onto the lake and return with a fish to feed their hatchlings. I could have sat there for hours and watched their family dynamics but I had antsy kids who needed to run wild so we headed downstairs and out onto the pier.


The kids had a blast running down the wooden planks and I enjoyed watching people figure out the finer points of personal watercraft operation. Evidently Shuswap Lake is the houseboating capital of Canada and I can understand why. The lake is huge and the scenery is gorgeous. There is a wonderful little park right by the harbour with excellent views of the wetlands. We happened to meet two local girls who were extremely friendly and happy to let us know all there was to know about the area. The older girl proudly let me know she is Girl Guide (the Canadian equivalent to Girl Scouts) and listed all the skills she had acquired from her years of training. She was so smart and so precocious. She seemed to be one of those kids that adults love but probably is misunderstood by most kids her own age. I truly hope she goes on to do great things with her life. My kids certainly thought she was the bees knees.



Road Trip 0916

Eventually the rain returned and brought our dear friends along with it. The kids were thrilled to play with someone in their own age group and I was happy to have some adult contact. We were now two women traveling with four kids under four. And the fun just begun.