orange you glad you’re 41

Ben turned 41 in December. His only request was that we go to the citrus fruit tasting in Central California at UC Lindcove, so we planned a mini road trip! This was his first hotel birthday celebration. Morning of, we served him breakfast in bed at home. I used to make him fancy omelets for his birthday, but the past few years all he’s wanted is the same thing he eats every morning … 1 cup oatmeal, covered with skim milk, 22 almonds, 1 chopped fruit, and a scoop of protein. The only difference is that on his birthday I make it for him, and he makes it himself all other days.

Since we were about to embark on a road trip to a citrus tasting, we did a little spin on oranges for our gifts for him. The girls made lots of little cards with orange looking characters, and they were all filled with orange jokes.

“Knock, knock.”
“Who’s there?”
“Orange who?”
“Orange you glad I didn’t say banana.”

You get the gist. To make their orange characters, each of them used their thumbprint on some white card stock, and then drew funny faces on them. We also wrote out 41 reasons why we love him and wrapped them up in a nice little orange for him to unravel (like this and this). Funny thing is that he didn’t want to ruin the orange ball, so he’s never unraveled it to find out all the things we love about him. Oye! I told him I would gladly wrap it all back up, but he still hasn’t done it.

That guy is so sentimental. Back when we were dating, and he would get sick, I’d bring him orange juice. Well, he’s saved all of the containers, and there in a box sitting in our closet, along with a million other things that he saved from when we were dating. My Benny is too sweet.

Our first stop on our road trip was for lunch in Pasadena. We took him to Spinfish, which is a poke bowl place. Sushi is Ben’s jam, so I knew he was going to love this place. In fact, we all loved it! The girls get theirs without any raw fish, but with imitation crab meat instead. We haven’t introduced them to raw fish yet, but I have a feeling that once they get a taste, especially the middle two, they will love it and won’t even give California rolls a second look.

After lunch, we were all happy and satisfied, and ready to hit the road. We love doing little getaway trips like this to celebrate a birthday. Another post to come to share all about the citrus tasting.

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robolights in palm springs

We kicked off Soul’s birthday celebration with a stop at Robolights in Palm Springs (I learned about it from this cool blog; it’s my fave site to gather ideas of things to do in California). Robolights is this insane art/light installation by Kenny Irwin and he’s been doing this since he was a kid. The whole thing is done at his father’s residence and filled with about 9 million lights, lots of robots and random bits of discarded items put together to create sculptures. It’s pretty amazing how his parents just let him build on their property and keep adding to it. Obviously, they were really supportive of allowing him to use his imagination to bring things to life.

It was filled with lots of strange things, like robots with skulls all over the base, or a clown robot coming out of a tower, and a carousel of toilets. This is just a short list of the weird things there; the list could really go on and on. Take note, if you don’t like clowns, this place might not be for you. Some things freaked out the kids, but they loved looking at all the lights. Their favorite parts were Darth Vader things they spotted here and there. There’s so much to see there!

We went mid-week and it’s a suggested $5 donation to enter. It wasn’t busy at all, and took a little over an hour to walk through. On the weekend though, we were told that it gets pretty packed and it’s like a crawl getting through there. One Saturday last year, 2,000 people went through in one night … crazy! Now, every time we see a house lit up like crazy, the girls say, “It’s robolights!” And I just added some more lights inside our house yesterday, and they were all “It’s robolights inside! It’s robolights inside!”

When we are in the area again, we want to drive by the house to see what it looks like without all the lights. The lights get put up for the holidays, and get taken down after, but all the robots and sculptures (like the toilet carousel) stay up year round. I’m so curious what that looks like. It must be interesting to be one of their neighbors. If you’re in the area, definitely check this out. The best way to describe Robolights … it is bizarrely fabulous.

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a frozen surprise by true

We arrived to the Staples Center, and mommy told us we were going to a Laker game, which we weren’t happy about because we aren’t Laker fans. When we were walking in we saw all this Disney stuff,. That made us so confused. When we sat down in our seats, mommy told us our surprise was to watch Disney on Ice presenting Frozen! As we were sitting down, someone asked for our tickets and then gave us new tickets to move closer. We moved so close to the stage, we were only 5 rows back from the ice.

While we were waiting for the show, we took pictures. It was so cold. Then, a boy and girl came out to show the audience how to do a snowman dance. After they left, Mickey Mouse and Goofy came out on a sled, and they were talking about love. Minnie Mouse came out and Glow started waving to her!

Mickey kept talking about love and he called out some characters who knew about love. He called out Snow White and her prince, Ariel and Prince Eric, Rapunzel and Flynn, Cinderella and her prince, Nemo and his dad (and Dori), Buzz and Woody, Timon and Pumbaa, and lastly, Donald Duck! All the characters started singing and dancing together. Finally, most of them left, except for Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy, and Mickey began to tell a story about two sisters, and then Frozen began…

During, the song “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”, I saw the younger Anna switch with the older Anna. We liked it when Elsa and Anna both said, “Chocolate!” at the same time. My favorite song is “For the First Time in Forever,” and Brave liked “In Summer.” Soul said her favorite was “Fixer Upper,” and Glow’s was “Let it Go.” As Elsa sang, “Let it Go,” and used her powers, snow was falling down and all of us loved that part so much.

The funniest part is when we saw Olaf and his head came off. That part was hilarious! When the show was ending, we saw all the characters come out and dance again. Then, once we were in our car and heading home, we kept talking about how much fun that was. My sisters and I liked it so much that we want to see it again!
- True

Disney on Ice presenting Frozen runs in Southern California from December 9th until January 4th. To see a complete list of tour dates and see if they’re headed to your area you can check here.

This post is in partnership with Feld Entertainment as a Feld Family Ambassador; complimentary tickets for the show were provided. I’m always so thankful opportunities such as this (my girls are especially thankful), and also for the time you take to support me and this space.

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true’s report on our adventure through sequoia national park

 

We went on an adventure to Sequoia National Park, and leading up to our trip, we have been going over how to read maps in our homeschool lessons. Thus, True and Brave were (sort of) in charge of the drive. They each took charge of different parts of our adventure, and took turns highlighting the route we were following. The kids had binoculars, field notebooks, highlighters, maps, and I even handed each of the oldest three their own camera. The result is about 4,000 worth of images and a whole weekend full of fun. True and Brave are here to share their adventures and explorations with you. Here’s True’s account:

Hello again! It’s True and I get to share all about our adventures in Sequoia National Park. When we entered the park, we saw lots of trees and plants. Just like my sister, Brave, I had a field notebook, pen, map of Sequoia, highlighter, and binoculars, so that we would be ready for lots of exploring. My mommy even gave me her big camera to take pictures with! 

At the entrance, I got my “Kid in a Park” pass that is for every fourth grader. That means I can take my family to any national park or waters for free! We were driving up the mountain, and our first stop was at Tunnel Rock. While there, I used my binoculars to see Kaweah River. We also saw some people standing up on top of Tunnel Rock. We didn’t go to the top, but we got to explore inside the tunnel a little bit.

Then, we got back in the car and headed up towards Hospital Rock. I saw some Native American pictographs on the big rock. We went up on the rock stairs to get a closer look at the drawings. After, we went down to read about the area. It was talking about the holes on the ground and how they used to be the kitchen for the Native Americans. When we started to leave, I saw a taller rock with a hole. It looked like another cooking place! Soul was pretending to cook there. 

We continued up the mountain toward Amphitheater Point. The area looked like a theater! From there, we could see Moro Rock. We used our binoculars to look all around us and get an even closer view of Moro Rock. We saw a pretty butterfly on the ground, then we got back in the Explorer and ate some cheese puffs. Explorer detectives get pretty hungry on an adventure. 

I was following the map as we drove higher and higher into the Mid-Sierra Zone. That is where the Sequoia trees are! It started to get colder and colder because we were getting higher in elevation. We drove through Deer Ridge all the way to the Giant Forest. We loved looking out the window to see all the giant trees!

The Explorer was good for exploring because it had a lot of space for our stuff and it had cool, big spaces on the side and in the back! It even has an opening above to see all the tall trees towering over us. We could really see how tall the trees are!

We parked, went by the museum, then walked the Giant Forest Trail. We saw plenty of giant Sequoia trees, and a lot of them had fire scars. Then, we saw a fallen Sequoia tree with its roots sticking out. I went inside it even though it looked scary, then I sat down in it, and ended up thinking it was fun!

On the trail, there was a big rock with a medium-size rock on top of it and it looked like a snowman. We walked over some cool bridges and my sisters were collecting stuff to take pictures of. We couldn’t take it with us, so we wanted to take pictures of the stuff to remember it. As we walked, I kept asking mommy, “Is this the biggest tree in the world?” She kept saying, “We aren’t there yet.”

After the Giant Trees Trail, we ended up back where we started and headed off to the Alta Loma Trail to see General Sherman. On that trail, we were using our binoculars to spot birds (we saw a Blue Jay and Woodpecker) and we made a lot of stops to check out sticks and rocks. I walked ahead of everyone and made some arrows out of sticks to point the rest of the family in the right direction. Brave and Glow didn’t know I was the one who made the arrows until later. We walked, and walked, and walked.

FINALLY, we got to General Sherman. It was a really, really big tree!!! I was amazed!!! After that, we eventually made our way back to our Explorer and headed off to Wuksachi Lodge to check in and eat dinner. We were all so tired from a full day of adventure!

The next day, we ate breakfast, finished filling out our Junior Ranger packets so we could become Junior Rangers, then headed off to Lodgepole to meet with a ranger. She swore us in as Junior Rangers and we got cool badges!

After Lodgepole, we drove on Generals Highway to Giant Forest through Marble Fork Canyon. There were lots more pretty views we could see around us. We made some stops along the side to use our binoculars and take pictures. I love looking out and seeing how big everything is!

We wanted to keep exploring so we drove down to the Giant Forest Museum to hike to Beetle Rock. Beetle Rock is this giant rock that looks like a beetle. It’s kind of scary because it sort of looks like a cliff. As we were standing near the edge, I used my binoculars to look out and I thought I saw a lake!

After Beetle Rock, I found a little gold rock and it was beautiful. We walked back to the Explorer and headed back down the mountain to adventure through Mineral King (read about my sister’s report on that adventure here). It is so much fun to explore new places!

Sequoia Scenic Drive and Adventure: Generals Highway to Lodgepole (Allow a full day for drive time and hiking trails) 1. Park Entrance to Tunnel Rock – A quick stop to check out the river below and get some shots with Tunnel Rock. 2. Hospital Rock – A short drive further up, then park to see the Native American pictographs and kitchen. 3. Amphitheater Point – A gorgeous view of the mountains and Moro Rock. 4. Deer Ridge – A beautiful drive and you can see wide vistas. 5. Giant Forest Museum and trails – Stop to see the Sentinel tree, then hike the Giant Forest trail (about 1.5 miles). We continued from here onto the Alta Loma Trail, which was a 2.5 mile hike to get to General Sherman. You could also do the Beetle Rock hike from the Giant Forest Museum because it is a short distance from the parking lot. 6. Marble Fork Canyon – A short drive from Giant Forest Museum to Lodgepole. More amazing views of the mountains and trees.

This content was created in partnership with Ford to help make creativity a part of every drive. I hope you enjoyed Brave and True’s reports on our adventure! They were quite excited to share it on the blog. 

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brave’s report on our adventure to sequoia and mineral king

We went on an adventure to Sequoia National Park and leading up to our trip, we have been going over how to read maps in our homeschool lessons. Thus, True and Brave were (sort of) in charge of the drive. They each took charge of different parts of our adventure, and took turns highlighting the route we were following. The kids had binoculars, field notebooks, highlighters, maps, and I even handed each of the oldest three their own camera. The result is about 4,000 worth of images and a whole weekend full of fun. True and Brave are here to share their adventures and explorations with you. Here’s Brave’s account. We set off on an adventure, and True and Soul were in charge of one part of the trip (they were sitting in the third row), and Glow and I were in charge of another (we were sitting in the middle row). We would switch rows, so we could take turns getting different views. My mommy taught us how to read a map and all about how to see what highway we were on, so I was following our journey on a map my mommy gave me. I was highlighting all along the route we took. I felt like a detective explorer! We each had a field notebook, pen, map, highlighter, binoculars for the adventure. We even each got a camera to take our own pictures!

We were on Interstate 5 and we saw Magic Mountain. It was pretty, but I do not like the rides. Then, we exited to see Castaic Lake; we even got to see Lake Hughes! I highlighted those places on my map. After we checked those places out, we went back on the interstate up to Lake Pyramid. I think that Lake Pyramid is called Lake Pyramid because the mountain by the lake is shaped like a pyramid. After Lake Pyramid, we got back on the freeway again and I kept following the map to see where we would go next. I felt like a detective (I like detective things), trying to figure out where we were going to next. We ended up going somewhere called Murray Family Farms … dun, dun, dun! We got pears and apples, and there were even pomegranates too, but we didn’t get any of those.

There was this picture thing where you put your head through, and it said, “Eat your colors!” My sisters and I liked taking pictures there. After the farm, we got back in the car to head off to the next adventure. The next stop was at Moo Creamery for some ice cream. There was a mariachi band playing while we waited for our ice cream. We got a caramel milkshake (it had nuts), jalapeño raspberry cream cheese ice cream, corn chili y limon ice cream, and peanut butter brittle ice cream for my mommy. We like trying different flavors, but the corn chili y limon was too spicy for everyone. It made our throats hurt. After we enjoyed our ice cream, I was back on map duty to see where we were headed, and we ended up going toward Sequoia National Park. My sister True, will tell you more about some of the adventures we had at the park.

They said I was in charge of the ride to Sequoia, and then I was back in charge on our way back down the mountain. After we left the national park, we took a left onto a road called Mineral King. That road was super narrow and dangerous, but we were all kind of excited about exploring a new area. The road was so narrow that there wasn’t much space to fit two cars. My papi did a good job of navigating us through the scary roads. Our first stop off the Mineral King drive was Kaweah River Bridge. We got out of the car and I went to stand on the bridge to get a picture of the river, but I was a little nervous. It seemed so high up! The Kaweah River was so pretty and the bridge too! We continued on with our drive to see what else we could explore at Mineral King and we ended up at Lookout Point. We got a really nice view of the canyon from here, so we parked there to enjoy it. We were all so hungry, so we ate lunch there. After lunch, we looked through our binoculars to see what we could see from there. I could see more trees, birds, the canyon, and more scary road up ahead. There was a map there and my papi showed me where we were at and how far we had gone. We were really far from home! While at Lookout Point, we noticed the pine needles were starting to yellow. We had learned earlier that day that if they start to yellow that means there is damage to the ozone layer.

We turned around because we saw there was this part in the canyon that had a large smooth rock we can kind of hike on, so we wanted to go explore over there. We all got back in the car to drive back to that spot. The rock was so smooth and we had fun walking around there. There were even holes filled with water! I think that once upon a time ice and water flowed through this area and that is what made it smooth. It took a long time of course.

As we were headed out of Mineral King, my papi was driving and he saw a tarantula in the middle of the road. He pulled off to the side and told mommy to come check it out with him. I told mommy to take a picture for me. They ran out of the car to see it, mommy got a picture of it, and papi filmed it to show us. The spider was so huge! It was really cool, just like our trip! I’m ready to go exploring again!

This content was created in partnership with Ford to help make creativity a part of every drive. I’m so thankful for the continuous support you’ve given me, this space, and the brands I partner with! 

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the palm springs dilemma

Every time we go to Palm Springs, we never know where to eat. Leading up to the trip, I’ll spend hours looking through yelp, but never really come up with anything that sounds appealing to us. We call it our Palm Springs dilemma. We’ve learned that their food scene really doesn’t suit us. They have a lot of cool diner type places, but we don’t really like diner food. Cheeky’s, Norma’s, and King’s Highway just doesn’t do it for us. We have a short list of places we go to eat when we find ourselves in the desert. This past visit, we tried Bill’s Pizza, and ordered their buffalo pizza; the sauce was delicious, but the chicken a little dry.

We did however like Chi Chi at the Avalon. Their flash fried cauliflower and fried padron peppers on their menu is what wooed us to to go try them out. We also ordered their ceviche, charred octopus, and langostinos veracruzana. It was all delicious, but our favorites were the padron peppers and cauliflower. Next time, we might skip ordering from the main dish and just get more appetizer plates. The langostinas were our least favorite dish. Chi Chi did convince us enough at dinner to come back the next day for lunch, and this time we ordered a shrimp burger. That was super yummy and I will try to make our own version at home.

So if you find yourself in Palm Springs and aren’t really diner food people either, I recommend El Jefe at the Saguaro (for their ceviche), Chi Chi at the Avalon, or Native Food Cafe (Ben doesn’t like them as much as I do). Of course, always stop by Great Shakes to pick up some dessert!

 

 

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