The Summer of Me

The Summer of Me

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time.”

-John Lubbock

It’s been the summer of me. And I don’t feel guilty one bit. As some of you know, in the summer my son spends a big chunk of the week with his dad. When new friends hear this piece of information I am often times asked, “Oh, I’m so sorry. You must miss him a lot?” I very kindly respond, “No, not really.”

You see, I have my son 90% of the time during the school year. His dad doesn’t live in the same city, not even the same county, so logistically it’s hard to get down there between school and sports. While I wish his dad would move closer to us, it’s not our reality right now. So, the school year is 90% on me and it is exhausting.

Between school lunches, drop offs/pick ups, play dates, homework, school projects, emotional breakdowns, teacher gifts, household duties, my full time job, and my part time job…by June this mama is SPENT. Some days getting both us out of the door on time is a task and a half. While I yearn for the weekends – sometimes those are more hectic than weekdays!

I have a great co-parenting relationship that I am so grateful for, but it doesn’t make up for the lack of co-parenting in the flesh. I am the bad cop and hardly ever the good cop. I am the enforcer of house rules and hardly do we ever have the time to break the rules. I have to create schedules and structure so that my son and I can have happy and successful days. But, when all of that falls on the shoulders of one person, it can take a toll.

Don’t get me wrong, I love being a mom. I love my son. But when summer rolls around, it is my time to refuel. It is my time to regroup. It is 8 weeks of: mindless TV; hours spent on the couch in my robe; days of dishes piling up in the sink; laundry half done; beds unmade; clothes on the floor; cereal for dinner; staying up til midnight because I can; sleeping in until 8 because I can; solo Disneyland trips; and many Door Dash deliveries.

I never want to reflect on being a single mom as anything but positive. I don’t know any different. But no, I don’t feel guilty for my summer of me. And you shouldn’t either.

Good luck to all the mamas that are gearing up for the school year ahead. We got this! Also, does anybody know how many days until Christmas break?

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Summer at Knott’s Soak City

Summer at Knott’s Soak City

If you grew up in Orange County then you most likely spent countless hours at the infamous Wild Rivers. I have so many fond memories of many summers spent at this thrilling water park, I couldn’t wait until my son was old enough to take him to one! While Wild Rivers is gone (for now), we do have Knott’s Soak City right here in Orange County. For our first trip I had so many questions about what I needed to know, bring, do and etc. I had a hard time finding any real information so I’ve put together some helpful tips for your next Knott’s Soak City adventure!

Top 10 List of Things to Know When Visiting Knott’s Soak City

1. Buy Before You Go

Get your tickets before you go! Plan the date you want to visit the park, purchase your tickets online and save as much as $9 on your ticket. You can also take a peek at Goldstar and see what they have to offer.

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2. Get there early!

Knott’s Soak City opens at 10am but people will start lining up well before then. Once the doors are officially opened the line moves fairly quickly, but you will still need to go through security. You will also want to grab a spot ASAP! Which leads to me to…

3. Grab a Spot in the Shade

Shade is hard to come by so you will definitely want to head to the shaded areas first. I made that mistake and we only got half shaded chairs, which was kind of a bummer. We really only were in our chairs to eat lunch but it would have been nice to cool down. They do have shaded areas to eat lunch but the signs say you can only sit there for 30 minutes.

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4. Harbor Waterworks

We just happened to find chairs in front of Harbor Waterworks which ended up being perfect! If your kids are old enough to go off somewhat by themselves, this is the perfect area to set up camp. Even if you don’t have a chair over in this area, it’s a great place where the kids can run around and you can take a moment to breath! Just be careful of the big buckets of water that will dump out every so often. I learned this the hard way!

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5. Bring a Waterproof Phone Case

Somebody gave me this idea and it was the best advice! Because you’re rarely with all of your belongings this is the perfect way to keep your phone on you. It came in handy when I wanted to grab a few photos and videos. It also was really convenient to slide in a credit card. I used a Joto Waterproof Phone Case that I found on Amazon.

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6. Wear Your Flip Flops

The ground gets pretty hot as the day goes on so we had to put on our flip flops while we were walking from ride to ride. Trust me, you won’t be the only one. You’ll see a big pile of flip flops at the bottom of each ride!

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7. Rent a Tube

We didn’t rent a tube but I think on our next visit we will rent tubes. We went on a Friday so it was pretty crowded the later it got in the day. The rides that require a tube, you have to wait in line to get a tube and then wait in another ride to go down the ride. Also, if you want a tube in the wave pool or the lazy run, they are pretty hard to come by. But you can bring your rental tubes in any pool or on any ride!

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8. Make Your Own Cabana

You’re allowed to bring in a small cooler with water and sports drinks. But honestly, we brought in a lot of snacks and nobody said a word. I think you could probably bring in lunch under the radar. Many families also brought in wagon strollers and set up camp on the grass with their umbrellas. I don’t have an umbrella that will stand on grass, otherwise this seems like it would have been such a good idea!

9. How Tall Are You?

If you are under 48″ inches you are required to wear a life vest on any ride that doesn’t have tubes and in any of the pools. I suggest being a minimum of 42″ if you plan on going. If you are less than 42″ then you won’t be able to ride any of the rides..

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10. Lockers

When we first got there we immediately went to the lockers to put everything in there. The lockers range from $15-$25 depending on the size you get. But, I think next time we will skip the lockers and keep everything at our chairs. I would rather spend that money on rental tubes! And make sure you keep your valuables at home 🙂

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I hope this is helpful to you! Do you have any plans to visit Knott’s Soak City this summer? Or a water park in your town? Let me know in the comments!

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Navigating Sports as a Single Mom

Navigating Sports as a Single Mom

My son is Mr. Sports. As soon as one season ends he’s on to the next. And not necessarily the same sport. He’ll jump from baseball to basketball to soccer to whatever else he can think of. I don’t think he has a love for a single sport yet so in the meantime he wants to try it all. And at 5 I think he should! He has his whole life to play one sport, now is the time for him to find out what he loves. But, as a single working mom, juggling this athletic life can be complicated.

Last year was our first full year in sports mode. Luckily, soccer was only a one-day commitment, which made the schedule juggle super easy. We moved on to baseball in the spring and I was so fortunate to have a job that was pretty flexible with adjusting my lunch hour to be there for games and practices when needed. I also have very helpful family members to pick up/drop off when I couldn’t. And now I have a different job this year where I get to work from home, so essentially I can take my son anywhere, anytime.

But it really got me thinking – what do single working moms (or dads) do during a sport season? From my experience, practices are in the afternoon (during regular business hours), and some games are during the week. Is your child not allowed to participate in their local little league due to scheduling conflicts? I haven’t been in this sports world for too long but I really feel that there is a demographic that is completely forgotten about. Not every family is able to logistically get to a practice and/or game. It’s really not fair that they can’t participate solely because they don’t live in a two-parent household or have family nearby that can help.

I am SO grateful for my current job situation but you never know when that can change. You never know when life is going to throw you upside down. I don’t have any answers but I think we should start a conversation. Children living in a single parent household (or even a two working parent household) shouldn’t have to sit out on a sports experience because practices are at 3pm. There has to be another way!

And while we’re here… why don’t we know the practice schedule when we sign up? Why don’t we know until 2 weeks before practices start? How is anybody supposed to plan anything?! It really just feels like they’re marketing towards families that have at least one at home parent.

Do you have any suggestions on how we can be more inclusive? I would love to hear in the comments.

The New Legoland Castle Hotel

The New Legoland Castle Hotel

Just before Christmas I took my son to Legoland for a little 2-day staycation. I wasn’t going to be spending Christmas with him that year so I wanted to do something to make this holiday season still special. One of his most favorite places to go is Legoland! I thought I would up the “special” this time and add one night in their new Legoland Castle Hotel…and it was pretty spectacular! Read below for everything they have to offer and even take a peek at a pretty sweet deal at the bottom. Enjoy!

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The Legoland Castle Hotel is incredible with all of the lego features on the outside, complete with a drawbridge! It’s also right in front of the Legoland Park – literally like 10 feet. Can’t beat that!

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This was probably my favorite part of the hotel. This amazing lego sculpture is in the lobby centered right where the adults check-in. Below the sculpture is a huge bin full legos to occupy the kiddos. Also, just behind is a slide! I love that everything at the hotel is catered to kids as soon as you walk in the door.

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We chose to the stay in the “Knights & Dragon” themed room but there are other options such as; a “Magic Wizard” & Royal Princess Theme”. All rooms are equipped with a separate quarter for the kids, which includes bunk beds! See below 🙂

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Below the bunk beds is a pull out cot, perfect if you have lots of kids with you! Also, the kids have their own TV and lego station to build to their hearts content.

 

One of the highlights of our stay was the scavenger hunt throughout the Legoland Castle Hotel. Hidden in the hotel are clues that unlock a treasure chest that is in every room. It was so much fun running around the hotel room looking for the clues. And then of course unlocking the treasure box to find TWO lego sets! Honestly, I had no idea the hotel did this, but it truly was one of my highlights.

 

We didn’t make it out to the pool on this trip as it was SO cold but from a distance I could see they offered water slides, splash pads, and lots of water activities for littles that aren’t ready to swim just yet.

We did however get to enjoy the outdoor common area which included a HUGE movie screen, life-size games, and a very stimulating park area. I really think you could spend the entire time at the hotel, not even go into Legoland and still feel highly entertained. Especially if you came in the summer and took advantage of the pool activities.

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When I booked our reservation our room came with a complimentary breakfast. I really didn’t think much of it because typically when a hotel says it has a complimentary breakfast it’s not much more than coffee, muffins and maybe some fruit. Boy was I surprised! It was a full on buffet with omelettes, french toast, sausage and even a buffet just for kids! I didn’t get to snap any photos of that because you know, kids in a restaurant…

All in all, we had a great time and I am already looking forward to our next stay at The Legoland Castle Hotel. And right now is the perfect time to book YOUR trip! There is a limited-time offer right now, so don’t miss out because it ends on February 28th! If you book a hotel room you receive:

  • FREE 2-Day Child LEGOLAND + SEA LIFE Hopper tickets
  • 2-Day Adult LEGOLAND + SEA LIFE Hopper tickets
  • Exclusive early access to LEGOLAND on both days

BOOK HERE!

 

Earning Our Way to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach

Earning Our Way to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach

If you know me, then you know I am a big proponent of fun. I want to go everywhere and do everything. I’m always looking for the next adventure even when I’m already in the middle of the fun. It’s hard for me to really tone it down but ultimately I don’t want my child thinking he can just wish for something and it happens. I want him to understand that we must work for the things that we want. They just don’t magically happen.

Last year my son really wanted to go to Legoland. We already had Disneyland passes so I felt it was hard to justify taking him to Legoland “just because”. Instead, I made a plan. I told him that for every good choice he made he could put a mini lego in a mason jar. For every poor choice he made we had to take a mini lego out. Once the mason jar was filled up, he earned his trip to Legoland! It was such a satisfying experience for him. Especially it being something tangible and visual rather than just words floating around of “keep working on earning your trip to Legoland.” And honestly, it truly made the day at Legoland THAT much more enjoyable because he worked so hard for it.

I haven’t done anything since then because Summer came and behavior wasn’t such an issue as before. But now we’re halfway through the school year and truthfully my son has great days at school and some not so great ones. He came from a little tiny preschool where everybody wanted to be his friend. Now he’s at a school with so many kids that somehow already knew each other and it’s been a bit of a struggle for him.

His class has a system in place with a colored chart that reflects their behavior throughout the day. At the end of the day his teacher hands out “golden tickets” for those that earned them, and for every 15 they get to go to the treasure box. I have been trying to encourage making smart choices and being kind to everyone but of course my son isn’t perfect so some days he doesn’t receive one.

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I’ve decided to incorporate a similar plan to what I had last year but instead of a jar with legos I made a chart. I know similar charts can be found at Target or most any store, but I wanted to make ours unique to our goal.

Braden knows that  school is his job, so I have made the “golden tickets” his currency. Once he has received 25 “golden tickets” he can “buy” his ticket to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. I LOVE the idea of having a visual that he can look at on his wall every day  for every ticket earned he can add a sticker to a square (there are 25 squares). Once he has filled in all of the squares – he will be on his way! Having something tangible he can add to it so he knows where he is on his journey to the aquarium is so helpful. Also this way we are focused more on the positive behavior rather than the negative. Which is where my energy needs to be focused as a parent in this season of our lives.

I’m attaching pictures below of what our chart looks like. It was super easy to create and not to mention a great project to work on together.

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Do you have any reward charts in your help? What has helped positive behavior in your house? Would love to hear in the comments!

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Are you ready for 2019?! Well, ready or not here it comes! As you’ve noticed, I took some time out of blogging during this last quarter of the year. Between B starting Kindergarten (and homework!), my new job, teaching more and trying to be more present, it was a struggle to find the balance with it all. Writing and sharing my experiences was so heavy on my heart – especially during the holidays. I had so many things I wanted to share with you! But truthfully, I was having a hard time adjusting to our new normal and could never find the time to sit down and write.

That’s the thing with writing (or really anything), time is not going to find you. You have to seek it out. You have to make the time. As hard as it may be, you are the only who has that power.

Can you guess what my resolution is this year? YEP! MAKE TIME. I have unwritten screenplays, pieces of choreography in my head, unfinished films, unedited photographs, half-written blogs, that ALL need to put to use. I’ve promised myself that I will do one piece of something every day. So here is my start to the New Year with this simple post as my re-entry in the blog-o-sphere.

Where will 2019 take you?

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Apple Picking in Oak Glen

“Why not go out on a limb? That’s where the fruit is.” -Mark Twain

When I was a child, every year my family and I would go apple picking in Julian, CA. I loved it. We’d wake up really early, gather our warmest clothes, load up the car and drive (what felt like hours) out to Julian. Some years it was hot, others it was cold, but it didn’t matter. We’d walk the orchards and scour the trees for the BEST apples to take home so we could make apple pie. Once we finished picking apples we’d spent the rest of the day enjoying the small town. Going in out of the historic little shops, eating lunch, maybe taking a horse-drawn carriage ride all nestled under the blankets, and of course eat some fresh baked apple pie.

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As I got older we stopped going, but I couldn’t wait until my son was old enough to start this tradition with. Except when the time came, I was torn…Julian or Oak Glen?!  I had never heard been to Oak Glen, much less heard of it! So, I did some research, asked a lot of questions and 2 years ago I drove my son and I out to Oak Glen to start our new Fall tradition.

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This was our third year going to Oak Glen and every time I go, I find something new to do there! Below you will find my tips & tricks for apple picking in Oak Glen:

Oak Glen vs. Julian

Truth be told, I haven’t been to Julian since I was a kid so I can’t really speak on what they have there now. But, from what I’ve read, Oak Glen has a lot more activities for kids. Besides apple picking there is; pony rides, corn mazes, u-apple cider press, hay rides, petting zoos, apple tastings, and lots of games!

The big number one factor for me is the drive. Driving to Oak Glen is SO easy. I personally have a fear of driving windy roads (due to being in a car accident in Laguna Canyon several years ago). When I learned that the drive to Oak Glen was mostly on the freeway, I was sold. I took my son to a camel dairy farm 3 years ago, and it was just 20 minutes south of Julian. I wasn’t even thinking of that terrifying drive until I was in it, and I just can’t ever do that again. Oak Glen is freeway, streets, and then maybe a 15 minute drive up the mountain – no cliffs! If I can do it – you can do it!

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Go Early!

I personally have never experienced traffic on the 2 way highway, but I know that some people have. The main reason I say to go early is because there is so much to see and do. This year we couldn’t go up as early as I would have liked to. Parking was a little bit of an issue but not terrible. We had to park off the road a little further down from the orchard. But it was a totally doable walk. If you have littles, bring your small stroller. If you park on the street, you won’t want your big stroller taking up the road. Bottom line: go early and just enjoy the whole day! Which brings me to…

Riley’s at Los Rios Rancho

Yes, there are two Riley’s. No, they are not the same. Well, the Riley name is the same, but the owners of the property are different. This was our first year spending the entirety of our day here. It was amazing. We picked our apples on the Botanical Garden side this year. Truthfully, next year we’ll park on this side, but go pick apples across the street at their bigger property as they have a bigger variety of apples over there.

I will go into more details about Riley’s at Los Rios Rancho in another blog post, but here are just a handful of things you can do here:

  1. Apple Pick / Pumpkin Pick (depending when you go)
  2. U-press Apple Cider
  3. Eat at their Restaurant (we didn’t eat here this time as the line was down the road, but it smelled delicious!)
  4. Shop all kinds of yummy treats (even get a fresh baked apple pie to bring home)
  5. Taste different varieties of apples
  6. Petting zoo, pony rides, hay ride, corn maze, horse shoes and corn hole

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Bring a Picnic!

Like I mentioned above, the line for the restaurant was incredibly long and I’m sure it’s amazing. But if you have kids that are anything like my son, he will not want to wait an hour for a table. We always bring our lunch with us and luckily there is a HUGE grassy area to throw down a blanket and eat. There is not a lot of shade so either bring an umbrella or a big hat. They do have a few picnic benches under some trees but those get taken up quickly. You’ll see tons of families with their coolers and kids playing catch. It’s so awesome!

What Time of Year to Go

Personally, *HOT TIP* I would go as soon as they announce it’s time to pick apples. This year apple season came really early so you may have missed the initial announcement, or maybe you didn’t even know they made an announcement. Follow Riley’s at Los Rios Rancho on Facebook and you’ll never miss it again. This year I saw the post but I couldn’t make it out for a couple weeks. By the time we got there, a lot of the bigger and better apples were already gone. The trick is to try and go within a few days of when they release a specie of apple so that you get the first pick.

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What to Bring/Wear

  1. Depends on the weather, but most likely you’ll want to wear a hat and definitely bring sunscreen.
  2. Closed toed shoes. I know you can get hot, but you’ll come home with the dirtiest feet if you wear sandals.
  3. An ice chest/cooler with all of your food, water and snacks. The property is not that big so you can easily just slip back to your car to grab some food or more water.
  4. Backpack. You’ll definitely want to keep your wallet, water and sunscreen on you at all times,
  5. Cash. They do take credit/debit cards. But a couple of food booths only take cash. However, you can purchase with your card inside the store and bring them a voucher. But just bring the cash – it’s easier!

Those are my biggest tips for apple picking in Oak Glen. I’ll be sure to share in more details about Riley’s at Los Rios Rancho on my next blog post.

Do you go apple picking with your family? What are some of your Fall traditions?

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