Monthly Archives: July 2011

Museum Tuesday

I was going to take the kiddos to the New Children’s Museum again this week, but at the last minute, The Girl asked if we could go to a different museum (kind of like how yesterday I was all ready to go to the beach and the kids decided they wanted to swim in our pool instead).  So I looked up the free museums for San Diego County residents at Balboa Park and we were off.  Our first stop was the San Diego Air and Space Museum.

Waiting in line just to get in.

It was quite impressive.  We had never been there before.  It’s quite the sight to see all of those airplanes inside.

The kids loved the space module and the real astronaut suit.

Space module from Apollo 9

Astronaut suit worn in Apollo 8 (the first to orbit the moon).

And, of course, The Boy was really excited about all of the airplanes.  Also on exhibit at the Air and Space Museum is the DeLorean that’s used in Back to the Future.  I was pretty excited to see that, but it wasn’t on display.  I guess it was on display at Comicon over the weekend and it’s too much of a liability to have out on free Tuesday.  I don’t get the liability thing, but I was sure disappointed that we didn’t get to check it out.


And because it was free and because we walked right past it on the way back to the car, we stopped in for a few minutes to check out the San Diego Hall of Champions.  I’m not much of a sports fan, but there were some interesting things in the museum.  There was a section dedicated to football with a bunch of Chargers stuff,

and a section dedicated to baseball with a bunch of Padres stuff.

Then there was a bunch of other sports memorabilia.


I was fascinated by the huge surf boards.

I also thought it was funny that there was a bass fishing hall of fame.

We didn’t stay long, but the crowds were small there and the kids were good.  I’m glad we stopped in!


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Santee Lakes vs. Hilton Head Park

Today I went to the Santee Lakes sprayground for the first time.  I have heard really good things about it and I found out that you could park in the park for free today so we decided to give it a shot.  I have to say I was not impressed.  On a typical weekday, the cost to drive into Santee Lakes is $3.  On a weekend, it’s $5.  And that’s just the start.  Then, to play in the sprayground, kids have to have a wrist band, which is $2 per kid.  For the price paid, I expected it to be a huge sprayground with a lot of space for kids to run around and get wet.

This is it. The whole kit ‘n’ caboodle.

I guess I expected too much because I was kind of disappointed.  We had been there for 5 minutes and my kids were telling me they were done.

Where The Boy spent most of his time.

We did end up staying for about an hour, but I really wasn’t that impressed.  I just kept thinking of how I could have just gone to Hilton Head Park for free with so many other things to do.

I love Hilton Head Park.

Maybe it’s just nostalgia, but I don’t think so.  We did live right next to the park so we went on a daily basis, but I would still think it’s a great park even if it didn’t have so many memories.  it’s totally free.

The sprayground area is not any smaller than that at Santee Lakes, but there are also two play structures and swings for the kids to have fun with when they don’t want to play in the water anymore.

There are covered picnic tables for lunch, and there are also barbecues.  It really is a gem of a park in Rancho San Diego.

Now, a fair warning: this park can get really crowded on the weekends.  If you’re planning a party there, make sure that you have a back-up plan in case you don’t end up with one of the gazebos.  People are known to get there at 4 or 5 in the morning, just to reserve their party spot and I’ve heard of fist fights breaking out over the picnic tables.  Also, being that this is a fairly new park, there isn’t a lot of shade, so don’t forget your beach umbrella.  There is, however, a baseball diamond and a great little path to walk/run with workout stations along the way and a basketball court.

Sure, Santee Lakes has paths and picnic areas and lakes and ducks and camping and playgrounds.  I think it’s definitely a place to be mentioned and used.  Now that I live so close, I need to go there more often, but if you’re going purely for the sprayground, save your money and head a little further south to Hilton Head Park.  You won’t be disappointed.

*Update: As of this year (2012), Hilton Head Park has started charging $3 per child for use of the sprayground.  I have not been there since this change, but I have heard that there is a vending machine where you can purchase a wrist band for your child, which allows use of the sprayground area of the park.


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The Hubby took the kids to the New Children’s Museum yesterday while I taught violin.  If you want to see his adventures (and cute photos), check out his zapd here.

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Continuing home from The Great Park, we thought we needed another activity.  I have been wanting to visit the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad, but it’s under renovation until August 20.  Then we thought we would stop at the California Surf Museu in Oceanside, but The Hubby forgot and we drove right past the off-ramp.  So moving south, we decided to stop in at VG Bakery to try their famous donuts.  I had to know if they were better than Peterson’s.

With a name like VG (meaning very good) I thought the place might be kind of lame.  I mean, couldn’t they come up with something more exciting?  I guess not because all of their creative genius was going into making their magnificent donuts.  Let me just warn you that we got there around 3 in the afternoon and they were out of raised donuts.  They bake at 4 a.m. and 4 p.m. so if you go around 6, you’re in luck.  They did have a few that were sprinkled with sugar (one of which The Hubby got) and one maple glazed that somebody had actually taken back, but I snatched it up anyway.  I’m glad I did because that thing was divine!  It was so good that I scarfed it down before taking a picture.  The donut itself was not big, but it was sure tasty.  We also lucked out with some buttermilk donuts that were just coming out of the oven.  They were warm and delicious.

I’m not usually a huge fan of them, but just looking at this picture makes my mouth water and want more.  It was that good.  The kids, my little donut-haters, vied for cookies and since we needed to spend $10 so we could use a card to pay since we just ran out of cash at our last stop, we bought some sourdough bread and some extra cookies.  The Hubby chose what cookies to buy and ended up with two white chocolate ones that he didn’t realize had walnuts in them.  Since he’s allergic to walnuts, that left the white chocolate cookie eating to me.  Now, I don’t like walnuts.  My mom puts nuts in everything.  In fact, baked goods don’t even tempt her without nuts.  I’m the opposite.  They don’t tempt me if the do have nuts.  But I didn’t know there were nuts, let alone walnuts, in the cookie before I started devouring it.  I was surprised to find that I actually liked the nuts!  They made the cookie better!  Weird, I know.  So in case you’re still wondering, VG did not disappoint and I’ll definitely be back (and taking more pictures because I didn’t do a very good job of that the other day) the next time I’m in Cardiff.  Let me know if  you go.  I’ll be jealous.

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The Great Park

I have been wanting to check out The Great Park in Irvine for a while.  I don’t know how I learned about it, maybe in the paper or a magazine or something.  I read about the huge helium balloon that you can ride.  It takes you up into the air a little ways and then comes back down.

I thought it looked cool.  There’s one very similar at Safari park, but you have to pay extra to ride and the one at The Great Park is free.  As you know, I’m all about free.  The only problem is, if I drove up there just to go for a free ride in the helium balloon, I might as well have gone to Safari Park and paid for the ride with the money I would have saved on gas.  So this week was the perfect opportunity.  Since we spent the night in Anaheim on Wednesday, we stopped by the park on our way home Thursday afternoon.  I didn’t know at the time that the balloon ride (and carousel for that matter) are only open Thursday through Sunday.  Luckily for us, it was a Thursday that we made the trip.  I thought we lucked out when we got there because it looked like it wasn’t very busy at all.  But when we went into the visitor’s center to get tickets, they told us that they had sold out for the day.

We could come back an hour before they opened that night and try to get them in the evening if we wanted.  We opted out and rode the carousel a couple of times instead.  It turns out that the weather wasn’t cooperating that day and they couldn’t take as many people up at a time as they can on a clear, breeze-free day.  Maybe next time.


About The Great Park . . . it looks like it will be really great.  It’s still under construction.  It will be a huge urban park.  Right now, the big draw is the helium balloon and the carousel.  Did I mention that both are free?  Because they are.  Since my kids could ride a carousel all day, every day without getting sick of it, we rode it a couple of times.

Even though we were disappointed about the balloon ride, we did end up having a good time.

We thought the bike rack was really cool and the kids loved this checker path.

If I’m ever up in Irvine on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday again, I’ll be back.

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We took a trip this week (on Wednesday) to Disneyland.  The Girl has been really excited about it for a long, long time.  I think she’s quite spoiled, getting to go as often as she does.  We had a great time.  Somehow, both kids were great all day.  Even standing in lines wasn’t too bad.  Usually when we go to Disneyland we pack in as many rides as we can.  This time, however, I told the kids that we were just going to see the characters.  With the broken elbow, I didn’t know what the situation would be.  She was fine for rides, so we did do a few, but the kids really were more excited about the characters.  The problem is, those are the lines that go SLOW.  But we had all day.  We got up early and made it to the park around 9:30 or so.  The Hubby stood in line for fast pass tickets to World of Color while I took the kiddos to the princess line.  The Hubby was done first and met us in the princess line about 40 minutes later.  The line for the princesses (when we got there at 9:45) was already 50 minutes long.  The Girl got to see her two favorite princesses (for now), Tiana and Ariel.  They Boy really wanted to ride Dumbo so we went there next.  After Dumbo, The Hubby’s family (who was there with us) took The Boy on a few rides while we stood in line to see Rapunzel.  I think it’s crazy to stand in line for 90 minutes just to see a character, but we did.  Of course, by the time we were through the line, They Boy was back from his fun with Granny and Papa and also got to see Rapunzel and Flynn Rider.  He was probably as excited to see Flynn Rider as The Girl was to see Rapunzel.

Then, of course, we had to see Mickey.  After seeing Goofy and freaking out on our way up Main Street, I thought The Boy would be quite hesitant when it came to Mickey, but he was a seasoned pro by the time we made it that far.  He walked right up to him and handed him his autograph book (that we bought at the 99 Cent store on Tuesday).

We also saw Alice and the Mad Hatter.  They happened to be walking through the park.  The Girl said hello, and Alice invited her to walk with her!

So cute!  She loved it and felt so special.

We had to watch the parade.  My kids thought it was just for them and stood waving at everybody.  They absolutely loved it.  The Girl thought it was great that Peter Pan stopped and asked her if it was Captain Hook that broke her arm.

After the parade, we headed over to California Adventure.  They have been doing some construction at the front gate, so it was kind of a pain to get in, but I’m told things are back to normal there now.  They still have construction going on as they are building Cars Land, though.  We enjoyed some adult rides while The Boy slept in the stroller, and we didn’t have long lines at all.  We went on Hollywood Tower of Terror (which the girl used to like but doesn’t anymore) and California Screamin’ (which is my favorite roller coaster of all time).  We also stayed for World of Color which I haven’t seen before.  It was really incredible.

Just a suggestion, if you get fast passes, still get there early.  Our view wasn’t the greatest even with the fast passes.  I’m also told that if you go to the later show, fast passes aren’t really necessary anymore.

We had a great time!  Now an extra Disneyland tips.  Get the app.  I think The Hubby got the Disneyland Wait Times — WalkeeWait for iPhone.  It was free and it was great!  We could look up wait times and closures and other pertinent information without having to go to the ride itself.  Then when we would get in line for a ride, he would start the line-timer so that we could update for someone else wanting to go on that ride.  Very useful.  I love Disneyland.  When can I plan my next trip?

For more tips on Disneyland with kids, go here.

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Free Lunch

JSYK (that’s what The Girl always says to me instead of just so you know), El Cajon is offering free lunch to children, ages 2-18 every weekday through July 29.  I know Chula Vista is doing the same thing, but I don’t have the location information for that city.  In El Cajon, your kids can pick up their lunch between 11:30 and 12:30 at one of three locations:

El Cajon Library (201 E. Douglas Ave)

El Cajon Family Resource Center (220 S. 1st St)

CVUSD Nutrition Center (225 Roanoke Rd)

We took advantage of this once last week and got a pretty decent lunch.  We went to the library for our lunch and took it home to eat.  There (and I assume at the other locations as well) you can also buy an adult lunch for $2.  Not too shabby.  Who says there’s no such thing as a free lunch?

BTW (by the way) did you know that milk comes in these crazy little bags now?  That’s how they are in school lunches.  Weird.  How they don’t make a mess, I’ll never know.

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