Monthly Archives: June 2011

Mission Trails

I have recently discovered Mission Trails Regional Park. I always knew it was there, but I never realized what a gem it is to have in the middle of this large city. There are a number of hikes and adventures to be had. I was informed about guided nature walks that take place every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday morning.

It’s free and I thought it would be a nice way to get out and get active as a family. We arrived just in time for the guided walk and as we were walking through the parking lot into the visitors center, The Boy decided to run, and in turn fell and skinned up his knee and arm. We were off to a bad start. Once he was cleaned up and bandaged up, we started with our guide. The Boy was still cranky, so I decided to break out the stroller. Let me just mention here that the guide was not an ideal guide for a group with small children. He talked a lot about the vegetation, which could have been interesting if I wasn’t trying to keep a 2-year-old in a stroller and entertain a 5-year-old who kept asking when the hike was going to start. The guide didn’t seem to notice that his pace was way too slow. I kept thinking the pace would pick up and it never did, so after about a half hour, we took off on our own. We took the stroller back to the car and walked the whole visitor’s center loop (1.4 miles) as a family. About halfway through, The Girl started whining about needing to go potty.

Off he goes. That's what I get for trying to take a picture and letting go of the chubby little hand

Luckily our adult to kid ratio in our family is 1-1 because each of us had to be holding on to a kid’s arm the whole time so that there would be no more injuries (be it skinned knees or broken elbows).

The hike itself may have been enjoyable if it would have started out better (and if The Girl didn’t need to go to the bathroom for half of it). There were a couple of really cool oak trees that grew out from the ground and then the branches grew back down all the way to the ground, making an umbrella effect where we were able to stop and rest in the shade for a bit.

The Boy thought it was a great big tungle (tunnel, he’s kind of obsessed) so he was happy about it. All in all, I think this would be a good trail for kids a little older than ours (or maybe just a little less wimpy). I did carry The Boy for a bit and The Girl whined a lot (which I knew would be the case). It would also be a great trail to carry a kid in a backpack. I also saw somebody running with a jogging stroller. I guess I should have kept the stroller. Things might have turned out better. I’m sure we’ll be back someday with the kids. Just not this summer.

P.S. Don’t forget your sunscreen and water. It can get hot and there’s not much shade.


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Our Go-To Activity

It seems like we spend a lot of time at the zoo.  It’s so easy to just pick up and go for a couple of hours and we love it!  If the kids get cranky, we just leave!  This time we ran into a couple of friends, which always makes things more fun so we stayed a little longer than planned.  We have been lucky enough the last couple of visits to catch a glimpse at the baby hippo.

I love seeing all of the baby animals.  The Boy loves the pandas.

We don’t always stop because sometimes the line is quite long.  Recently, though, I discovered that there is another panda viewing area that is much less crowded.  You can stand in line to see the two male pandas, or you can go off to the side of the exhibit (right past where the line begins) and the female panda is back there.

To the left is the main panda line, but if you go just past there between the trees in the middle of the picture, that's where you can see the other panda.

I don’t think people realize she’s there so it’s not nearly as busy.  Soon, though, their habitat will be expanded and the viewing area will be different.

Everybody thought I was taking a picture of the panda, but I was really taking a picture of that girl carrying her dog.

On another note, I wouldn’t suggest bringing your dog to the zoo.

Really? I don't get it.

I think it’s just weird.  But maybe that’s just me.

Anywhooo . . .

the peacocks were in full bloom.  Maybe they’ll add to the baby collection soon, as every other animal seems to be doing so.

Lately on our zoo trips, we’ve been taking the Sun Bear Trail.  It didn’t used to be a regular route for us, but I really like it.  It seems like it’s kind of off the beaten path and the bears are kind of interesting.

I was a little nervous when the grizzly stood up on his hind legs, looking directly at The Boy.  I’m sure it was totally safe, but I hurried off.  We also got a funny little show from the sloth bear one day.  He wanted to show off for the kids and when we pulled up, he walked out of his den and did a little dance.  Really, it was the funniest thing and the kids thought it was hilarious.  I hope we get the show again someday!


Check out that big tongue!

This jaguar kept pacing back and forth right in front of the glass. The Boy didn't want to get too close.

That’s the zoo lately.  I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about it in the near future, as we’re planning trips every Friday.  Please join us!


On another note, The Girl went to orthopedics today where she had more x-rays and a new cast.  She’s recovering well and it looks like our summer will officially begin in 3 weeks from today with our first post-cast beach trip!  I’m excited that she’s healing so quickly and that we won’t have such a bummer summer!

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Plans Change

I have been meaning to play a little catch-up over here all week.  I planned to blog on Sunday, but we found ourselves in the ER with a broken elbow, which means summer plans have been changed.  Swimming lessons are out.  Beach days are probably gone.  Hopefully bowling will still come together, but only time (and doctors) will tell.  So if you wanted to meet up with us at the beach (since it’s now officially summer for us) on Monday, we won’t be there.  We’ll be at the doctor getting a purple cast instead.  Bummer.

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Summer Plan

In case you’re coming over here on an hourly basis, wondering what our summer plan is, you can stop fretting!  Here’s our plan (so far).  I still have extra July activities to plan, but here’s a rough outline of our summer.  Please join us!


Mondays — Beach days (specific beach and time TBD)

Tuesdays — Museum day.  The museum will change according to what we feel like and what happens to be free that day.  We also plan on using this day for The New Children’s Museum.

Wednesdays — Movies in the morning.  We’ll plan other things too because we’re only planning on seeing a couple of the movies this summer.  Also, I have no clue how well The Boy is going to do at the theater so I’m not planning for much.  Maybe it will be a swimming day or a park day or a library day.

Thursdays — Bowling day.  We signed up for the free family bowling at Mira Mesa Lanes.  The times available are only in the late afternoon, but that works out because I think I’ll be teaching violin on Thursday mornings (you can’t join me for that unless you already do!)

Fridays — Zoo or Safari Park.


On top of those daily plans, we’re also adding in some extra activities.  Tomorrow (June 11) we’re heading over to the Flying Leatherneck Museum at Miramar.  It’s a free aviation museum and they’re having “open cockpit days” where the kiddos can climb aboard some of the air crafts.  On Tuesday (we probably won’t go because The Girl is still in school) the USS Midway Museum has free admission if you wear red, white, and blue for Flag day.  They’ll also have people there in colonial costumes starting at 1 pm.  On the 25th we’re heading over to June Flower Power at Mission Trails Regional Park.  It’s free (they have hikes there for the kids that are free anyway) and they have a guided walk through the trail where you will learn about Native Indian trail tales and local plants.  This is also happening tomorrow, but as mentioned before, we’ll be at the Flying Leatherneck.


We will also be day-tripping to Disneyland some time in July and taking our family vacation to Idaho in August.  Keep checking back for summer plan updates and join us on our adventures!

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Trains and Koi

With our disappointing trip to Balboa Park the week before, we decided that we were running low on time to use our free passes to the Japanese Friendship Garden and the Model Railroad Museum.  We decided to go on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend instead.  At least that way we got to go with our whole family.  Of course it was a bit busier in the park in general, but we had a good time.  Like I said before, we always love the Model Railroad Museum.

The kids could watch the trains for hours.  Of course, there are a couple of Thomas The Train tables set up in different areas of the museum.  Those are always a hit.  I was a little bummed that they no longer had their huge Lego display.  That was one of my favorite parts.  I do love going upstairs, though, and seeing the new scenes in progress.  It’s fun to see how they all come together in the end.

It’s always amazing to me how much detail goes into these scenes.  I wish that I could have taken my grandpa to see them.  I think he would have loved it.

After we finished with the trains, we headed down the hill to the Japanese Friendship Garden.  It’s not a huge place, but I like it.  I love how immaculate everything is.

I loved this fountain

It’s so serene.  It’s too bad we had to take the kids!  Okay, I’m kidding.  There is a beautiful koi pond in the garden.

Every time I have been, there has been a worker sitting right next to it, handing out food to the kids so they can feed the fish.  The Boy liked the fish but didn’t care much for feeding them.  The Girl lay down on a rock and put the food right into the open fish mouths!


She thought it was quite a fun adventure.  And it was fun to watch.  Besides the gardens, there is a bit of Japanese art and also a zen garden.

The door is always locked to the zen garden, but there is a room with a beautiful view of it where you can sit and relax.

Don't mind the shadow. It's just The Boy trying to receive Zen.

I enjoyed it there.

After the museums, we decided to do a cell phone scavenger hunt.  It’s called Giskin Anomaly and it follows two characters as they discover and decode people from the past.  It sounds like a great way to get to know the park better, but it would probably be better with older kids.  Our kids were just tired and we didn’t do a very good job of finding clues.  When we got to where the second one should have been, we couldn’t find it and gave up and went home.  Maybe we’ll try again next time.

If you’re interested in the cell phone scavenger hunts, there are phone numbers posted on a round sticker in the windows of a few different places you can start: The Japanese Friendship Garden, The Old Globe theatre’s box office (where we were), San Diego Museum of the Art’s front door, and The San Diego Natural History Museum’s south front door.

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The New Children’s Museum

We spent part of Memorial Day at The New Children’s Museum downtown.  We have a membership there, but haven’t gone often enough.  We’ll make more regular visits this summer.

First of all, parking there is horrible.  It’s best to take MTS if you can.  There is a parking garage located below the museum, just off Union (at Island) but it will cost you $10 ($7 if you’re a member).  There are a few free spots across the street, but they’re only good for 2 hours and usually they’re taken.  We were lucky enough to snatch one up on Monday and since we didn’t get to the museum until 2:30 and they close at 4, we were good on time.

We haven’t been to the museum in a couple of months and they have changed things around a bit.  Right now, you’ll see animal art.

There is a scavenger hunt that you can do (that The Girl was really excited about) where you look for videos of animals around the museum.  Next to the screen, there is a green dotted line that leads you to facts posted on the wall.

After you grab your scavenger hunt page, you can fill in the blanks from the animal facts.  We learned a lot of really interesting things and had a good time.  When you finish with your hunt, you take your filled-in worksheet back to the front desk for a prize.  But don’t do it for the prize because it was lame.  Just a sticker, although The Girl thought it was the most beautiful sticker she had ever seen.  Or so she said, but I think she was a little disappointed in the prize selection as well.

We always enjoy The New Children’s Museum.   There is a lot of learning and fun to be had for the big kids and little ones alike.

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