Friday, December 7, 2012

Memories For My Memory Bank

As my kids are getting older I am cherishing this "simple" time with them even more. Maybe not more, but realizing how quickly this time in our lives is flying by! This year, so far, I have been able to structure our days to include some well needed fun and a lot let chaos than in previous years. I always strive for relaxed holidays but I have completely failed in that area. Last minute baking, shopping, service projects... everything seemed to always be last minute! I vowed NOT to do that this year (God willing and with many of my prayers heard, this wont happen!)

My kids LOVE LOVE LOVE everything about Christmas! The music, mood, family, friends, giving and getting. I think I've implanted the love of Christmas adequately in their heads and I know I got this from my mom. She LOVES Christmas too! She always went all out in the house and on the house. Dad always went along drudgingly putting up Christmas lights galore! Mom always seemed to have it all together, never stressed, fire in the fireplace, Christmas music playing in the back ground. Now why couldn't I have gotten that amazing talent?   So far I have the lights up on the house, the kids were a HUGE help! This Sunday we plan to get our tree and the inside of the house is almost totally decorated for this special time of year. I even have a few Christmas gifts bought.

The kids wanted to make sugar cookies so we made the dough and I found a recipe that did not need to be refrigerated for hours before we cut!  With dough made and flour everywhere we began to cut cookies!

We really did have a fun time and I stayed calm, cool and collected! Yeah me! We iced and decorated to our hearts content! I even have dough saved for future cookie cutting... we just had that much fun! 

Here is where I got the Cookie recipe, I used two different types and they were both fabulous!
 My hope is to inspire you to create life long simple memories with your kids, the age of your kids doesn't matter (grab that teen and cut some cookies, make holiday crafts or do a service project together) and they will remember these memories far more than the gift that was given! May this be a holiday season of new beginnings for your family, just as it is for mine! ~Nicole

Monday, November 19, 2012

Cherishing The Time. A day of apple picking in Oak glen

This picture was taken at a beautiful orchard in Oak Glen, CA.  We I decided to go apple picking during the week so that the crowds would be less and therefore the trip much more enjoyable. These are things I have to think about when planning a trip with a kid with disabilities AND a 90 year old grandma!  Unfortunately on busy days they only have a small number of apples to choose from.. this day, ONE.. yes, one! I was a bit frustrated as we can get typical Red Delicious at the grocery store. However keeping in mind WE get to pick the apples, its really the experience vs. the type, everything was going to be A OK!  Grandma was also upset, she kept wanting to try the Honey apple, but I kept telling her, its the experience and spending time together!

It was quite comical to see me trying to navigate the blind (not to him) kiddo, the 90 year old grandma and make sure the princess didn't pick ALL of the apples.   Now apple picking isn't the least expensive activity to take part in.  It was $20.00 just for a small plastic bag, half (or smaller) a grocery store bag, so we shared the bag, which also meant sharing the apple picking. So within 10 minutes or so, our bag was filled and the kids were ready for our next adventure. We were off to find a good place for lunch!    There was a quaint little place in town, Apple Annie's (I think).  They were quite busy but the food was delish! I had a sandwich, and the kids had soup and grandma chose a HUGE grilled cheese!

All in all our day went amazing! I love the time spent with grandma and look forward to the holidays with many more memories made. I just pray that my kids are soaking up the things she says, does and how she treats them.  In my opinion we are on borrowed time with Grandma... This is truly a time to be THANKFUL for.  What a wonderrful day and wonderful memories to tuck into my heartstrings.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

When the clock seems to be ticking...

Cherish the time that's left on it!

I LOVE remembering times when I was little. Special times like when grandpa and grandma Lee (my moms parents) would come and stay the night. I have lots of memories of family visits to our cabin in Big Bear. The many winters of dressing up like the state puff marshmallow man to go out and play in this white wonder... only to be freezing within minutes and back inside to warm by the fire.  I remember grandma use to cover our shoes in bread bags... they would go all the way up to our knees. Walking in bread bags on snow hence ice... SLIPPERY!  Grandpa died when I was 11. I will forever remember waking up and answering that phone so early in the morning. Even after papa died we would take week  end trips to grandmas house. One weekend the brave soul she was took Bryan (my younger brother) and I to Catalina island. I still can see the glass bottom boat we were on.  Oh and shopping... my grandma always took me shopping, we didn't always buy but she would always take me to look if I wanted to. One of my favorite memories were grandmas dresser drawers. She had two drawers in a dresser in the back room, and she filled them with special stuff for us. She was a school secretary so if a toy, sweater or something wasn't claimed she was able to bring it home. We would run back and see what the newest trinket would be! I also LOVED the hot tea we would have before bed. I would load mine up with sugar! I'm sure for a kid that was a great night time drink.. caffeine and sugar. funny.

Some of my fondest childhood memories were of my grandmother in Utah. This was my safe haven, my heaven here on earth, she... had the arms of an angel. This is where I was taught unconditional love. Grandma was just special, everything about her was, to  me perfect!  Grandma loved her garden and I loved helping her in it eating all the raspberries we would gather. Oh and she also had a nectarine tree. I would help to pick the nectarines off the tree, not sure how much of these fruits actually got inside the house! Grandmas table was always set impeccably. It had a table cloth, cloth napkins, glass glasses to drink out of and every meal had fresh flowers. Now when I was there, the flowers often times sat on a plate because now really, don't you just pick off the pretty top? Summers were heaven in Utah. We would go camping in the Canyon and take the old (it was really old although I never knew it!) camper and truck and drive up and find a spot right next to the river! I still remember hearing the water rush at night. I remember my parents came once and we were roasting marshmallows and as always one caught fire and my brother flinged it to get the fire out and swoosh within no time it was flying in the air. And then it was gone... and plop, it fell. right. on. my. head! oh the sticky, sugary, mess. I was laughing so hard! I'm sure my parents didn't think it was nearly as funny. I also remember the yummy homemade jam from the raspberries and nectarines, some had pineapple, some had cherries... didn't matter what, they were all wonderful.  I also remember how grandma cooked red meat. Now if you didn't know that "red"  meat started out as a pink color, you'd never find out at grandmas house because she cooked that meat until it was leather! Bacon.. was crispy burnt. Now I LOVE bacon, however didn't love that bacon. Grandma would start cooking the minute she got up. We would have breakfast made when we woke up and  you could smell the wonderful aroma clear in the basement. It was pure Love. I think I learned this from grandma, food and family = Love. by the time breakfast was over and dishes were done. Grandma was already taking things out for lunch. Papa would eat earlier in the morning (and of course a bite or two with us when we got up) so he was hungry for lunch earlier than the rest of us. Grandma would fix his sandwich and then when he was done, we were ready to eat. Grandma NEVER showed signs of frustration but gee.. how could she not have been? I know i would have been, and this is where I see her LOVE. She did this and did it with love and gratitude. Thankful to have us there, thankful to have us to cook for. I really need to keep her in mind more often when I am frustrated in the kitchen.

This post started when I was reminiscing about my childhood and looking through all the old  pictures to do a memory board for my Grandma Lee's Birthday. This weekend is her 90th Birthday! NINETY! WOW. She gets a gold metal, a star.. heck what ever she wants! I am so blessed to have her with us still. To be a part of our lives and for my kids to remember her. I pray that they have good, strong and lasting memories! I'm striving to create some "stand out" memories for them to remember her by!
So anyways, I'm going through old photos and boy is it hitting me. How very little time I have left with her. How every phone call needs to be cherished. Every visit ingrained in my brain. Remember to focus on the positive and let go of any critical comments (i mean shes 90, she had to be feisty to stay around so long!)  But really shouldn't we be doing all this anyways? Why did it have to take until I felt I was running out of time for all this to really be at the forefront of my mind? Yes, i had my kids, I had work.. etc. etc. you'll always find something to do. Make an effort, a true, real, heartfelt effort to spend time with those you love. You never know when that phone call... hug... visit will be your last. 

I am planning on some small local trips with her. On Oct. 5th the kids don't have school so I thought it would be the perfect day for a short get away up to Oak Glen. We are going apple picking. Grandma said she has never been out there, and the kids enjoy it there. Perfect memory maker!  I also thing we will go and spend a weekend with her, or a day when school is not in. I mean, she IS 90... I could do the driving to Long Beach!  and speaking of driving yes, even at 90 she is still driving! she drives good, is of good mind, has good hearing, good health. We have been truly blessed!  So stay tuned for more posts on our trips and of her birthday.

Grandma Thank you for always Believing in me, Encouraging me and Loving me!


Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Wikipedias definition of Happiness is: Happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.

I have chosen to jump on the bandwagon and join the 21 Days of Happiness Challenge.  I am excited to do this!! For 21 consecutive days do the following: 3 Gratitude's. Write down three new things that you are grateful for each day. Journaling: write about one positive experience you had that day. The idea is that you are reliving the positive feelings of the event by writing about it.  Meditation. Exercise. Random Acts of Kindness: reach out to at least one person each day and do something kind, and in no way expect something in return (this can be via text, email, card, facebook, can do a pay it forward act).

I started this a week ago and really probably have only done about 3 days so, why not just keep going where we are and not look at what hasn't been done. :) 
My Gratitude's: I am grateful for the hard work my husband does to provide for our family.  I am grateful for friends I can call when I'm having a rough spot during my day.  I am thankful for my kids who will always give me hugs and kisses and tell me they love me.

Journaling:  I met the nicest  phycologist today. I LOVE her! She is bubbly, engaging, receptive, responsive and just seems to be the type of phycologist we need.  I'm thankful for her guidance during this time. 

Meditation: I will really have to work on this. Carving time to just sit and reflect isn't always easy. 

Exercise: I ran around the house getting everyone ready for school and Dr. appointments today, does that count? (I'm thinking it does not).

Acts of Kindness: I have sent "I'm thinking of you" text to a good friend of mine today.

Now I am also having my kids do some of this, although they don't know its a "21 day challenge" I'm hoping that by me doing this it then becomes a habit, not only for me, but for them too. I will post some pictures of the things they make, and some of there adorable quotes.

It's a few years ago... but this is Happiness!! 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Free or Inexpensive Family Fun in .... San Diego!

Here are some great and fun places to go with your family in San Diego!!

Top of the list are the beaches, they are just beautiful! La Jolla is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world

Visit downtown San Diego's Seaport Village lots of free entertainment, a relaxing strolling and window shopping. Enjoy a day of hanging out in the grass and watching the many passing yachts and ships on beautiful San Diego Bay. Pack a picnic lunch or if finances allow, there are plenty of great eateries nearby. 

Enjoy free organ concerts at 2:00 pm on Sundays at Spreckels Organ Pavillion in Balboa Park. The Organ Pavillion features one of world’s largest outdoor pipe organs, a San Diego landmark since 1914, where organists play traditional favorites, waltzes and show tunes on enormous 32-foot pipes. Take a picnic or snack and enjoy the tunes. 

This sounds like a great family night!  Stargaze outside the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park on the first Wednesday of every month. The San Diego Astronomy Association sets up huge telescopes to offer guests a great view of all the stars in the night sky. When your finished go by McDonalds and grab a $1.00 Sunday for Dessert. Make it a surprise and the kids will be thrilled!!

Step back in time with a stop in Julian, a century-old gold mining town in the Cuyamaca Mountains. Pick up a free map at the Chamber of Commerce for a self-guided walking tour of the area’s historic sites and later enjoy a slice of homemade apple pie, its a Julian specialty! This would be inexpensive. I think the pie cost 4-5$ a slice. YUMMM!!

Take a picnic and drive to Torrey Pines State Park where you can watch talented amazing hang gliders do tricks in the strong winds that sweep along the coastline cliffs. What a great day. Add a game of kickball or frisbee.. and your set for a great day at the park! 

The famous San Diego Zoo and The San Diego Zoo Safari Park are both fantastic sites to see and with coupons and specials you can get admission in for relatively a nominal charge. and at these parks is that if you have a Person with Disability you can get an caretaker pass so one person can get in for no charge.  If you pack lunch, snacks and drinks, you can go fairly inexpensively.  A great place for a staycation!!
The New Children's Museum is a fabulous place to visit with family. It is located at 200 West Island Ave., San Diego, CA 92101.  They seems to have lots of hands on for kids of all ages! Adults and children are $10, children under 1yr are free.  Military with ID and seniors 65+ get in for only $5.  This friday July 27th is finger painting day!! 

The Anticipated Summer Camp!

This summer was to be full of summer camp. Both kids are fortunate to benefit from Junior Blind of America and their amazing summer camp, Camp Bloomfield. This camp is for children who are blind or visually impaired.
Breck is able to go to 3 different camps that they offer. The three he chose were  Youth Development Camp, Middle School and Goal Ball.   The camps sessions do various activities such as archery, rock wall climbing, wire walking, horseback riding, tandem cycling, hiking, judo, and many others.  In the Goal Ball session the kids are immersed everything pertaining to Goal Ball. This is the one camp I was very excited about for Breck to go to. Its a sport he can participate in equally as everyone else and something he could potentially be really good at. Destiny chose Youth Development so she could be with Breck and other friends who were going to that session. She goes as a "Buddy" to a visually impaired/blind camper.  

Both kids had a great time at Youth Development! Its fun to watch them mature and oh so scary that my little lady is talking boys!  Apparently Breck had some issues with speaking kindly and keeping his hands to himself. He was talked to several times. (I know this from Destiny). I drove the 2 hours to Los Angeles to drop him off for Middle School  Camp and was spoke to then about his past behavior. We then discussed with Breck about keeping his hands to himself, and speaking kindly. I was truly devastated that "My" son, was treating others like this.  Camp Bloomfield is a special camp for special kids, all of the kids have some sort of vision impairment or complete vision loss. Breck has had his fair share of names being called, teased, and bullied. I'm at awe as to why he would treat someone meanly.  Anyways we talked to him and made it very clear that I would be called to drive the 3 hours to Malibu and pick him up if this continued.  That was Monday, Wednesday night at about 9pm I was pulling into Camp Bloomfield to pick up my darling son.  I'm frustrated, hurt, confused and really, just don't know where to go or what to do.  He seems to have no concept of when its appropriate to play and when it isn't. Nor does he quite realize his own strength.  I have him scheduled with a counselor in hoping this will help. She has recommended a psychologist and possible medication to help with his ADHD. This is a hard one we have a 50/50 vote here at home. I'm leaning more towards yes and Breck has said he would like to try some meds. humm... is he old enough to help us make the decision?  I'll be looking in to some natural remidies/aids first.
Needless to say... summer wasn't FULL of camp. The Goal Ball session will have to be something we work on for next year. I also need to find a one/one aide for him to be able to attend. This is my project to be working on in the near future.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

More Free or Cheap Stuff to do with the kids: Orange County

I found some things to do for FREE or cheap in the Orange County area. Now the BEACHES are always a good way to go, they are free (outside of nominal parking).  Take the kids, enjoy the waves, soak up the sun and let them burry you in the sand! There are also lots of parks in the area, just beautiful!

  • If you check on line at They offer a lot of activities and some JUST for us, no kids! Now personally its far and few times that I dont have the kids. However there was one activitiey that listed a walk and yoga (adult) The fee was $2.00!!  Thats a steal!! 

  • They also have activities with kids. They have an upcomming event Sunday May 20.  Families are invited to come play, explore, listen and connect with nature and each other. LCF volunteer naturalist and nature mentor Kimberly Leeds will guide you through nature activities and games to enliven your wilderness awareness. Bring your curiosity! Wear long pants and closed-toed shoes. Hats and water are a must! The terrain will be uneven and steep in some areas; be prepared to get dirty, and get up close and personal with nature!
Event Fee: $2.00 donation
Parking Fee: $3.00 per vehicle

Laguna Coast Wilderness Park
18751 Laguna Canyon Road
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
(949)923-2235 or (949)923-3702     

Special Instructions: The walk will be a maximum of 1 mile round trip. James Dilley Preserve (east side of Laguna Canyon Rd/SR-133, just north of 73 Toll Road). For questions call: 949-497-8324.

  • Dont forget to check your local parks and rec for July 4th activities!

  • There are many many Museums  in Orange Co.  They usually have a family day or just nominal prices for entry. Make sure to pack your own lunch and snacks as that will drasticly cut down on the amount of money spent.  I usually will get my kiddos something special for the days like this so that they feel the lunch is as special as the activitiy. and you still wont spend as much as if you would to buy from the consession stand or go out to eat.
a couple museums: 
Discovery Science Center
2500 North Main Street
Santa Ana, CA 92705
PHONE: 714-542-2823
Prices vary from $15.00 for adults and down. They do have some discout programs, check online to see if you qualify for one of them.

Prices are $12.00 and less depending on age.
Kids 6 and under are free. 
with paid admission you can go to the
Bowers Kidseum for FREE!!!

The Bowers Kidseum Looks fun, not sure how old the kids can be and still enjoy it. Price for this museum alone is $6.00 for children 2 and up, however if you buy tickets to Bowers Museum, you get admission to the Bowers Kidseum FREE!!!

If you come accross things to do in your area PLEASE email me! I would LOVE to add to the list! With the economy the way it is, every little bit helps! enjoy your day and go nibble your kids ear! 



Free or Cheap Things to do in the Inland Empire!

Here is a list and links to things to do in the Inland Empire. Some Free but most have a nominal fee.

Moreno Valley ~
Parks and Rec dept. will be putting on a movie! Every Thursday starting at dusk. This will be lots of fun for the kids! Take a blanket, picnic dinner & they'll have a blast! They say that space is limited so I would get there early if  you want a seat! NO umbrellas, popups or alcohol allowed.
Conference and Recreation Center
14075 Frederick Street
Moreno Valley

Harkins Theatre has a very inexpensive pack of movies to attend for $4.50. They have early show times which is my only grunt about it, but how can you pass up 10 different movies for $4.50. Tickets went on sale in April. I'd run and grab some if your interested!

Jurupa ~
The Cove. A local water park. This is awesome and my TOP thing to do in Riverside. Prices for a season pass are $60 for non jurupa residences and $48.00 for Jurupa residences. Prices do go down from there depending on height of child.  The Cove opens for the season on May 26th.
The Cove – Jurupa Aquatic Center
4310 Camino Real
Riverside, CA 92509

Lois Rubidoux Nature Center. A fun local nature center that occasionally has activities for usually under $5.00, pp. some of the past have been a butterfly day, basket weaving, jewelry making.  They have trails that lead down and around a cute little stream. A beautiful place to have a family day. Nice area for a picnic also. 
Louis Robidoux Nature Center
5370 Riverview
Jurupa Valley, Ca 92509
(951) 683-4880

Rancho Jurupa Park. A beautiful local camp ground that has play equipment for the kids, tent camping and RV camping areas, and also cute little cabins that can be rented out. It has a convenience store, a kids soak park, climbing rocks with sand and mini golf (golf does charge extra).
Rancho Jurupa Park
4800 Crestmore Road
Jurupa Valley, Ca 92509
(951) 684-7032

Jurupa Mountains Discovery Center.  This is a neat park that has tours at 9am, 12pm and 2pm on Saturdays. The cost is $8.00pp  They do rock/mineral collecting. There is a tour of the nursery and an earth science museum. They do allow family tours during the week on a limited basis. Please call ahead for information. 
Jurupa Mountains Discovery Center
7621 Granite Hills Drive, Riverside CA 92509
(951) 685-5818
(951) 685-1240 (fax)

Now our favorite is camping and The Cove. We will be sure to do this right when summer starts!  I hope this has been helpful and if you know of something low cost to do in Southern California PLEASE let me know and I can post it to that blog page.   Enjoy your summer and kiss your kiddos!