family fun

When it’s cold outside and the rains are hitting us it makes me long for the outdoors, smelling the fresh air and taking in all the beautiful colors nature provides. It makes it even worse since planning for camping trips in the summer is something you have to do this time of the year. I’m thankful that snow is something we drive to the mountains for and the winters here are typically mild so we can enjoy nature year round. In Los Angeles you can hop in your car for a short drive and find many places to enjoy nature for the day… I have to do this every so often or I will go a little bit crazy.

I love walking the trails at the El Dorado Park Nature Center in Long Beach, CA. There are 1 and 2 mile trails as well as a 1/4 mile wheelchair accessible trail. There are ponds, streams and native plants that make you feel like you drove hours to escape the city. We regularly spot turtles, lizards, snakes, rabbits, squirrels, hawks and snowy egrets. The whole family can enjoy their programs and they even have Spring and Summer camps. The education center and park staff provide a wealth of information about the native plants and wild life.

My favorite time to go the El Dorado Nature Center? After the rain… to see the mushrooms! Mushrooms need a lot of moisture to thrive. They grow quickly so they pop up after a heavy rainfall. The kids and I go “mushroom hunting” (we just look for them no harming of mushrooms involved) everywhere we walk after the rain and try to count as many as we can. The kids also believe that mushrooms are a sign that gnomes and fairies visited our garden and waking up to them popped up in our garden is very exciting. This becomes even more magical at the Nature Center or any favorite hiking spot.


El Dorado Park Nature Center and Mushrooms

Even if you don’t find mushrooms there is a lot of beauty to take in.

El Dorado Park Nature Center

El Dorado Park Nature Center

And Remember… Don’t Feed the Squirrels (this sign always cracks me up!)

The El Dorado Park Nature Center

There is no fee to enter the Nature Center but you do have to pay for parking since it’s nestled in El Dorado Regional Park. The large El Dorado Regional Park has a lot to offer for a day of family fun. There is an archery range, stocked fishing lakes, rentable paddle boats, train rides and lots of playgrounds. The paved walkway and bike trails are great and go around the entire park. It’s a great park for birthday parties too! They even have a field for remote controlled airplanes which the kids love watching. Oh and if you are looking for a new furbaby to add to your family the SPCLA is located on the grounds. You don’t have to pay the parking fee to go to the SPCLA.

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post and was not asked to by the El Dorado Park Nature Center. I just love this spot and hope more people will enjoy it! All opinions are my own.

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I’m a big kid. I think that is the most obvious thing about me. I love roller coasters, amusement parks, arcade games and running amok with my family. I like to have fun! Who doesn’t, right? It’s that time of year again to enjoy the day with Snoopy and the Gang at Knotts “Merry” Farm. After we spent a day at Knotts the festive transformation supercharged us into the holiday spirit.

We watched “Gift of the Magi” at the historic Knott’s Birdcage Theatre. The kids love this show! They love any kind of live performance which is pretty awesome.

We enjoyed delicious (and allergy friendly!) maple lollipops! These are pure maple syrup cooked at a high heat and then cooled on ice. They were so amazingly good!

We visited the elves on the Log Ride and got soaked enough that we could joke that we pee’d our pants.

We watched “It’s Christmas, Snoopy” the ice skating show. We love ice skating performances and enjoy all the ones that Snoopy and his friends put on.

The kids really wanted to go to the “Pitchur Gallery” in Ghost Town and take an old time photo. They had so much fun. They look like they are ready to rob some banks. Okay, that obviously isn’t a think I should be proud of. They do look really fierce!

On rainy days most rides are still open and the lines are usually short! My ten year old daughter and I walked on to Montezuma’s Revenge. Yes, she goes on roller coasters! I love my little fearless daredevil. When I was a teenager running amok at Knotts Berry Farm I loved the days where we would just go on roller coaster after rollercoaster. I admit I can’t handle roller coasters like I used to but they are still worth it! At least it gives my kids something to laugh about when I get dizzy after a ride.

I love the affordable passes for Knotts and no blackout dates! There is a payment option promo going on and payments are as low as $11.16 a month for six months. This is going to be a Christmas present for the kids (and myself). We head over to Knotts after school for a few hours or spend the whole day there on a weekend. No matter how often we go it’s always a blast and being able to go impulsively without worries on black out dates is a huge bonus for us. I’m looking forward to making even more memories next year!

Best pic of the day! <3

 

Disclaimer: My family and I were given admission and a VIP event treatment at Knott’s Berry Farm. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions are my own. We are also annual passholders and genuine Knott’s enthusiasts!  

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Post image for My Aunt Said: Remember When You Were a Teen and Drove Me to Vegas for the Night

I truly love my family and all our silliness and diversity. My family from Japan is here visiting for my Grandpa’s 88th birthday party we were taking a trip down memory lane… that is always interesting. I’ve heard for most of my life how gutsy I am and that some admire how fearless I can be but it’s never been something I see in myself. I’m just me.

I just think I’m a jackass who doesn’t truly understand limitations. If it seems plausible I am going to tackle the shit out of it, have fun and make the most of it! Laughter is usually the key in all things that drive me.

My Aunt wanted to know what the world looked like from my perspective. This pretty much sums us up.

My family likes to talk about these ballsy moments in my youth that I will probably face with my own kids. My aunt said to me, “Do you remember that time when you were sixteen and we took off to Vegas for the night?”

I laughed, “My Dad was SO pissed at me! Still is, actually. Let’s remind him tomorrow about that trip so you can see his face.”

When I was sixteen my aunt and cousin from Japan came to visit. My cousin was enrolling in a golf summer camp out here and she was staying for a short trip to get him settled. Unfortunately, a family emergency was cutting her trip short and she had to leave for Tokyo the day after enrollment.

I was driving them everywhere, being a good hostess and making the most of the trip. My aunt was really sad for many reasons and had guilt that she really wanted to stay because she just wanted to go to Vegas.

Let me lay this out for you:

It was about 2pm after my cousin was enrolled. We were almost two hours south of my home.

Vegas from my home was 4 hours.

I was sixteen.

Vegas from where we were was probably more like 6 hours.

I had my license for less than a month.

She had to be on an international flight at 9am the next day.

My Dad was a Cop… he had guns.

We happened to be on the 15 which is the same highway that you take to get to Vegas.

My fearless love for adventures and road trips was born that day.

I very seriously said to her, “We could always just end up in Vegas and tell my Dad that we got lost! You can gamble for a few hours, I’ll find a diner with friends and drink a lot of coffee.” My grin was apparently infectious because she lit up right back at me.

She did the math and started to feel like it was impossible. We both were more concerned that my Dad was going to be pissed so I think we had an agreement to not answer his calls. Because, that makes it SO much better when we finally have to face him after he has probably thought we died somewhere. Details.

This is one of those moments where I remind my Dad that I truly am the best daughter ever and he loves me because I am a princess. Actually, my brother is more like the princess because he is a wuss compared to me. I think this is exactly why my Dad doesn’t read my blogs. Uh, and my brother as well.

So, needless to say we went. We had a great time. She broke even. I saw my friends who didn’t seem at all shocked that I came up with this plan. I almost hit a coyote on the way back. We got lost. Got home thirty minutes before she needed to head to LAX and my Dad was so furious he couldn’t even speak to us.

I heard about it for months after she left. I guess saying, “But, DAD I already drove to Vegas so why can’t I go on this road trip?” wasn’t a good idea because we ended up in a fight each time.

Now with a sixteen year old niece and thinking of my kids at that age I’m really wondering if I was a little insane then. I often feel for my Dad and what I put him through…

However, when that story comes up fondly from my aunt as a huge defining moment for her seeing my strength, independence, insanity and ability to tackle the impossible it kind of makes me proud. My family is full of these daring and often crazy stories. It’s in our blood.

Though, if my kids pull that shit I will probably lose my mind. Mostly because they didn’t bring me on an adventure like that.

Disclosure: I am a member of the Toyota Women Influencer Network aka TWIN. I was not compensated for this post or participation in the program.

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Visiting Joshua Tree National Park

by Leila on January 30, 2012

Post image for Visiting Joshua Tree National Park

Even though I love nature, traveling and adventures I had never been to or thought about visiting Joshua Tree National Park until last March when my friend Sam came to visit from Staten Island. When I started planing another trip out there I realized I never blogged about our first trip!

BTW… I felt the need to mention my friend Sam is from Staten Island so you can all follow along with the Staten Island accent… she is going to be really happy I just said that.

Anyway, every time she visits it’s a whirlwind of exhausting awesome. She is as insane as I, if not more, when it comes to overbooking a schedule. We both love taking pictures, capturing silly moments and blasting them online for all our friends to enjoy (or be exhausted by). One of the main places she wanted to check out last year was Joshua Tree…

My Kids Often Prefer Auntie Sam Over Me

Okay at first I was thinking to Mrs. Nature Lover and Animal Freak… you want to go out to the freaking desert? It’s all just sand right? Nothing to see? Maybe some creepy bugs? How exciting CAN that possibly be? Even with all my preconceived notions about the desert I was down to check it out and have an adventure. All of my assumptions were way off base and I’m so glad we went.

The first thing that really moved me was how loud the silence was out there. That is truly hard to explain. It’s so silent that you hear humming in your ears that is peaceful. It made me realize how many sounds surround us in the city and how we rarely have the opportunity to stop and listen to life around us.

It's a Cloud! It's a UFO! It's Our Minds Going Crazy!

Or I am going crazy by thinking I heard humming noises when it was really silent. Either way… it was rad.

Hey Kids.. Do Not Copy Mommy!

There is so much to cover at Joshua Tree that a day trip isn’t nearly enough. It was on my todo list to make it back again before the year was over. Now I’m planning on getting out there as an annual trip. I’ll have to bring a cardboard cutout of Sam so she can pose with us.

Next Time She Will Be Made of Cardboard

She Likes to Pose

There are places to camp, hike, rock climb and a weird animals to see for all ages. The Ranger Program is always a must for kids when visiting a National Park. My kids learned more through their ranger booklets than we could have explained and they got a rad badge for completing their age appropriate assignments. My kids had a blast here and have been asking frequently when we will return.

Barker Dam is a truly peaceful place. A beautiful man made desert oasis. It’s a 1.5 mile hike that is supposed to be accessible for all. It can dry up during the hot season so seeing this in the Winter and Spring is ideal.

 

 

There is also a cave with Native American hieroglyphics. From what I’ve read there are many Native American Hieroglyphics throughout the park.

The pictures just don’t do it justice… it’s one of those places you have to experience. I want to camp here and spend a whole weekend exploring the marvels of Joshua Tree National Park. This is a place for exploring, adventure and lots of great memories. Remember to stop by the visitor center for maps, tips and safety information. Everyone there is very friendly and helpful! If you end up visiting Joshua Tree National Park stop by here again and tell me about it!

Happy travels!

I Pose with Trees

Yes. I'm Much Taller Than Her (Had to Mention it!)

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I freaking love Halloween! Candy, costumes and fun times all around… who doesn’t like that?

Actually, I’m sure people who are annoyed by costumes and fun hate this time of year. I totally get that. I can’t stand feet. They are gross. If someone dressed up like a big, giant, hairy, smelly foot I think I would keel over right there. This was kind of a pointless tangent and now I am going to have nightmares about feet. Sweet.

Anyway…

I love the family bonding Halloween creates and the traditions we have because of it. Combine Halloween with Knotts Berry Farm and you have the ultimate combo: Camp Spooky.

My brother, Dad, Uncles and I were… um, err…are… Amusement Park junkies. Knotts Berry Farm is like a second home for us so I am very familiar with this world of radness. But, every time I go I am finding new reasons to fall in love with Snoopy and the Gang all over again.

The kids wear their favorite costumes and are able to Trick or Treat inside the park. They take pictures with their favorite characters dressed up with them. The decorations, music and fun mazes turn an already loved family attraction into even more awesomesauce.

The cast members were so friendly, outgoing and helpful. My son has milk allergies so I had prepared him that there might not be candy he could eat. When I mentioned his allergies to a cast member at a Treat Stop the candy was switched out for the skittles that my son could have. Small things like this mean the world to us.

I was invited to this VIP party at Camp Spooky with many other Social Media enthusiasts. I was able to bring three guests which meant both of my kids and a friend to help me wrangle them. Unfortunately, my daughter was very fatigued and feeling achy that morning but wanted me to go anyway since it was my Birthday. While I had Mommy guilt for not having her with us I’m very thankful that my daughter doesn’t get upset if her special needs cause her to have to sit something out in order for her to rest up. It just makes me so proud.

Plus, we got to the park at 8am on a Saturday and that is really early for us so I think she was making a wise choice! We had breakfast and my son was so excited to meet Snoopy… they even had similar costumes!

We plan on going back to Camp Spooky every year. My son said he would prefer to celebrate Halloween at Knotts Berry Farm than walking around our neighborhood. This is something everyone should check out if you love Halloween, Amusement Parks or Candy!

Boats that Spin Make Me PukeyTrying To Squeeze Two Butts in One Car

One thing I love about going to Social Media events is running into online friends who become real life ones like Natalie who writes Mommy of a Monster & Twins!

Natalie aka Mommy of a Monster & Twins and I

This next picture I’m probably going to start a terrible picture war with my friend, Sugar Jones, whom I adore completely. I added that last part to cover my butt a little bit. See, she really wanted to go on a grown up ride so we met at Montezooma’s revenge which is a fast roller coaster. All it does is go forward into a loop and then you go backwards into a loop and then up really really high. I still can’t hear out of my right ear. Anyway, we snapped this picture before we took off and while we both look terrible and terrified I can’t help but laugh. It endears her even more to me…

Don't Take Terrified Pictures Because One of Your Friends May Put it Up on the Internet

Sugar… I love you woman! Just sayin! She is going to cut me…
Check out the hashtag on twitter for #CampSpooky for more updates, pictures and reviews.

 

Disclosure: I was provided with free parking and admission to attend this event. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions are my own.

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