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Twenty Dollar Discount Tickets to LEGOLAND and a Chance to Support the Schools-Best Bargain Ever!

April 25th, 2012 by bsmith | No Comments | Filed in Legoland, Legoland bargains, Legoland Discounts, Uncategorized

As you know LEGOLAND is one of my favorite places on the planet, so I wanted to share with you an excellent way to visit LEGOLAND at a discount and to support the Carlsbad City Schools.    This Saturday April 28th LEGOLAND and the Carlsbad Educational Foundation are sponsoring a special fundraiser from 1-9 pm.  For only $20 you can enjoy an afternoon and evening at LEGOLAND California with your family.  There will be special performances by Carlsbad area students for you to enjoy.  We are unable to go this year due to Destiny’s first communion, but we have gone in previous years and it has been really fun.  Be ready to use all your great LEGOLAND strategies to avoid the crowds.

This situation in Carlsbad schools is pretty dire, they are raising class size to levels that seem too big to let the kids move around the classroom.  There is talk about cutting special education.  We are losing some great teachers, which is a tragedy.  I have found Pacific Rim teachers to be the best I have ever worked with.  Carlsbad schools need your support and you can have a blast helping out.

I also want to give an extra shout out to the Carlsbad Educational Foundation.  I am proud to say that Ken’s Uncle Jay assisted in founding this organization many years ago.  They do an amazing  job of fundraising that provides community service while raising money to benefit students.  My son spent a year in their kindergarten daycare program.  The teachers were so professional and kind.  The proceeds from tuition went to the foundation.  If you need quality child care in Carlsbad for school age children, I would highly recommend CEF’s Kids Care program.

This summer the kids will be participating in some CEF Day Camps as well.  Once again my kids will have quality care and opportunities to learn and grow (everything from Spanish, to Art, to Junior Astronaut camp).

If you are interested in attending Celebrate Carlsbad Day you click on the Carlsbad Educational Foundation Website.  It looks very easy to order tickets.

Happy Trails,

Bridget

P.S. Thanks  to Stacey at San Diego Bargain Mama for  her tireless work on behalf of the Carlsbad Schools.

 

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California’s State Park Heroes: Ms. Vicki, Junior Ranger Wrangler

October 7th, 2011 by bsmith | 3 Comments | Filed in Uncategorized

 

Destiny and Jared with the Best State Park Ranger Ever, Ms Vicki Doheny State Beach

 

Our family was lucky enough to enjoy a “State Park Summer”.  We camped at three different California State Parks as well as enjoying our local state beach.  California’s state parks are truly a must visit for families.  Many have a junior ranger program that teaches kids about the state park and the ecosystems within it.

Ms. Vicki, a tireless advocate for California State Parks, runs the Junior Ranger Program at Doheny State Beach.  Her five day series of lessons on “misunderstood” animals was the highlight of our trip to Doheny.  The kids dissected owl pellets, identified spiders surrounding the campfire area, and observed a real snake!  Later our family took a field trip to the butterfly garden and found some owl pellets that we gave to Ms. Vicki to share with future campers.  My kids are still sharing what Ms. Vicki taught them with their friends and teachers.

 

Ms. Vicki's Snake Lesson, Doheny State Beach

Ms. Vicki has her groupies.  Families return year after year to camp and attend her junior ranger workshops.  Local homeschoolers don’t miss a week of her talks.  What makes Vicki’s program unique, and one of my very favorite in the state park system,  is that she welcomes kids of all ages to her talks and rewards junior for their hard work and learning no matter what their age.  Most California state park junior ranger programs start at age 7, a policy that make it very difficult for our family since we have 6, 7, and 12.

Thanks for your hard work Ms. Vicki!  You made our stay at Doheny State Beach unforgettable!

Happy Trails,

Bridget (Ms. Vicki Groupie)

P.S. Donheny State Beach will be a part of California for years to come, but other state parks are scheduled to be closed next summer due to budget cuts.  Visit Folks4Parks or the California State Parks Foundation for more information and ideas on how you can help.

See this post on Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday.

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Move It Monday: The Fitness Room is My Friend

June 27th, 2011 by bsmith | No Comments | Filed in Uncategorized

Until last winter, I had never seen the inside of a hotel fitness room.  With three kids, I often felt to exhausted at the end of the day to go work out. Then, on a ski trip to Mount Charleston in February, my husband invited me to join him for his early morning work out.    After the first day I was a fitness room convert.

Let’s face it.  Traveling with kids is very stressful.  You are always busy making sure everyone is happy and well fed.  The next meltdown may be just moments away.  You need to make sure they’re walking at all times in those hotel corridors, not poking and arguing in the back seat as Daddy navigates a new town, and using their inside voices in restaurants so they don’t disturb the  patrons at the next table. 

A trip to the fitness room gives me  a chance to get away and build up the adrenaline high I  need to lift my spirits and get my cheerful mommy mojo back.  On that ski trip I discoverd an added bonus, no sore muscles after a day of skiing!  I can also burn off a few calories after all that yummy vacation food!

Here are some great discoveries I made about hotel fitness rooms:

  • They are underutilized, especially at night.  Often I am working out by myself.
  • They have TVs so if you have to bring the kids, they can hang out and watch Nickelodeon. while you use the treadmill.
  • Nice people leave their magazines and newspapers so there is always something good to read.
  • The nicer hotels offer filtered water, so it’s not necessary to BYOB.

Off for a day of Florida adventures and looking forward to a fitness room getaway tonight!

Happy Trails,

Bridget

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Photo Friday: Bull Riding Adventures in Auburn, California

June 24th, 2011 by bsmith | 2 Comments | Filed in Uncategorized

It’s funny how a simple park outing can lead to fun and dramatic adventures.  Our last night in Auburn, Mom and I planned a low key outing to let the kids blow off some steam.  We decided to visit Auburn Regional Park, one of my childhood favorites.  The park has a great play structure and a lake complete will Canadian geese.  On this evening, however,  Auburn residents were enjoying the annual Party in the Park.  Activities  included a live concert,  food and educational booths, and an amazing kids play zone filled with giant bounce house slides, a climbing wall, and a bucking bronco.

The kids were excited about the Kids Zone, but I only had a $24 in my wallet and passes for three would cost $30.  I planned to just buy a few tickets, but the company running the Kids Zone  took pity on me and sold me three wrist bands for that price.  While the little kids checked out the jump houses with Nana, Justin took on the bull riding booth.  Here are the results:

Auburn is a family friendly town with lots of warmth and personality.  We can hardly wait to go back!

Happy Trails,

Bridget

Stop by Delicious Baby for more Travel Photo Adventures.

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Photo Friday: Cherry Delight, Auburn Drug Company, Auburn California

June 17th, 2011 by bsmith | 2 Comments | Filed in Uncategorized

Destiny Enjoys Her Cherry Delight at the Auburn Drug Company, Auburn California

 One of my favorite childhood travel memories was  visiting the soda fountain at Widman’s Candy Company  in Crookston Minnesota.  Well, Crookston is a bit far from Southern California, so I had to settle for the next best thing.  On our Gold Country road trip, my mom treated us to cherry delights and Irish sodas at the Auburn Drug Company  in her hometown of Auburn, California.

Mom fondly recalled after school treats at the marble soda counter of the Auburn Drug Company.  At a quarter,  the Irish sodas were too expensive unless it was a special occasion so my mom would order a  lime phosphate for a dime  instead. 

Jared Delights in His Ice Cream Sundae, Auburn Drug Company, Auburn California

The prices are higher, but the marble soda counter remains, and the frozen treats are as delicious as Mom remembers them.  The kids loved the soda fountain experience so much we wil be returning this afternoon!

Nana and Her Irish Soda, Auburn Drug Company, Auburn California

If you stop by Auburn Drugs on a Gold Country road trip, be sure to try the Irish Soda.  The secret recipe has been passed on by generations of pharmacists.  I’m looking forward to mine.

Happy Trails,

Bridget

This post is feature on Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday Blog Roundup.

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Quick Packing Tips for Surviving a Summer Road Trip with Kids

June 8th, 2011 by bsmith | 2 Comments | Filed in Uncategorized

Among my friends my claim to fame is that I’m the woman who takes so many road trips with her kids, usually on her own.  When we relocated to Southern California, I committed myself to eight hour road trips to visit family and friends back in Santa Cruz.  Combined with the fact that plane tickets for a family of five are steep, we spend a lot of time on the road for our family vacations.  I’m in the midst of preparing for a road trip up to the California Gold Country and thought I would share a few packing tips  for your summer road trips:

Divide=Conquer:  Pack a Separate Suitcase for Each Stop

Since most of our stops are only for a night or two I pack a series of small roller bags with the appropriate clothes for each hotel.  Then I just transfer PJ’s and toiletries from one suitcase to another.  The swim suits and towels go in a separate beach bag.  This strategy has served me well.  It’s easier to juggle kids when I have less bags to wrangle and dirty clothes don’t get mixed up with clean clothes.

Stay Comfy Smith Family!

I have the kids bring a soft blanket and a pillow .  These come in handy when we are leaving on a chilly dark morning or arriving late at night.  I also throw in a camping air mattress, sheet,  and pump in case the kids don’t want to share a bed or the room can’t accommodate everyone.  I also make sure that everyone has flip flops to wear at pit stops since my kids like to take off their shoes when they travel, and I don’t want to waste time with socks and shoelaces for a short bathroom stop.

Well Stocked Cooler=Road Trip Success

I have a small cooler with wheels in the trunk where we keep healthy snacks for pit stops  as well as a small bag of non perishable snacks up front.  I also stock the cooler with some picnic food so we can avoid restaurants  at our destination  and have do it yourself room service.  Instead of waiting for food and paying high prices for tip and taxes, we have a picnic in our room with food from our cooler supplemented by TV dinners or food from the supermarket deli counter.

A few bottles of Starbucks Mochas  purchased from my local grocery store keep me alert for less than that fancy Starbucks drive through coffee.

Looking forward to a summer full of Smith Family Adventures!  Where are you headed?

Happy Trails,

Bridget

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Photo Friday: Spring Comes to the Self Realization Temple Meditation Garden Encinitas

June 3rd, 2011 by bsmith | 4 Comments | Filed in Outdoor Adventures, San Diego Adventures, San Diego Day Trips, San Diego Family Travel, Uncategorized

 

Family Adventure Guidebooks Photo Journalist in Training, Justin Smith

This post is made possible by one of the hansomest young photographers I know,  my son Justin Smith, age 12.  I did not join him on this outing.  Although this garden really brings out the best in kids who are able to walk quietly and use their inside voices, it is not appropriate for preschoolers, toddlers and even exuberant kindergarteners.  Jared and I stayed home!  Recently my seven year old daughter joined my mom for a trip to the Self Realization Temple Meditation Garden.  It was a rite of passage for Destiny that she was able to enjoy the garden in a quiet and mature manner, and we lavished her with praise.  Looking forward to that hopefully not so far off day, when the entire family can enjoy this garden.  In the mean time I live vicariously through Justin’s gorgeous photos:

Cactus in Bloom, Self Realization Temple Garden Encinitas

Koy Pond, Self Realization Temple Garden Encinitas

Cacutus by the Sea, Self Realization Temple Garden Encinitas

Check out Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday for more amazing travel photos!

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Move It Monday: Mesquite’s Adventures, Using the Dog to Motivate the Kids to Hike

April 18th, 2011 by bsmith | No Comments | Filed in Camping with Kids, Dog-Friendly Travel, Las Vegas Adventures, Las Vegas with Kids, Road Trips, Smith Family Adventures, Spring Adventures, State Park Sundays, Traveling with the Dog, Uncategorized

Mesquite and Justin, Cave Explorers, Valley of Fire State Park, Las Vegas Nevada

Twelve years of parenting has taught me that bringing the dog along is one of the best ways to get kids hiking.  My friends and neighbors thought I was crazy to bring the dog on our last vacation, but Mesquite had an awesome time and provided the kids with motivation to keep moving.

Sniff Stop, Valley of Fire State Park, Las Vegas Nevada

My sweet eight year old puppy scaled rocks and hiked to the petrified forest at Valley of Fire State Park.  She reminded us to stop and rest in the shade from time to time. 

Even back at the swanky Oasis RV park, she motivated us to walk several blocks to get the the Doggy Park which provided an hour of kid friendly entertainment as the kids happily through ball and bones for the Doggy Park visitors while Mequite hung out in the shade and enjoyed being petted.

The great thing about Nevada State Parks is that they let dogs on almost all the trails as long as they are on a leash.  Because of this liberal policy Mesquite was able to join us for most of our adventures.  Something to keep in mind when planning a dog and kid friendly trip.

Happy Trails,

Bridget

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See the LEGOLAND Opening of the New Lego Star Wars Miniland Exhibit Live Today!

March 31st, 2011 by bsmith | 1 Comment | Filed in Uncategorized

LEGOLAND Prepares for the Opening of the New Star Wars Miniland Exhibit

 May the force be with us!  The Storm Troopers will be invading LEGOLAND today for the opening of the new LEGO Star Wars portion of Miniland. If you didn’t get a VIP invite to the opening you can still check out a live cam stream of LEGO Star Wars Miniland Opening  .  Be sure to stop by and get in on the excitement.  Although I am mourning the loss of the NASCAR exhibit (my eleven year old is a big fan), I think this new Miniland will be great for older school aged kids and their parents.  It will be fun to see the movies come alive in LEGO bricks.

Invasion of LEGOLAND California Star Wars Miniland

As always LEGOLAND master builder Gary McIntire and his colleagues did a great job building and installing these  models.

Happy Trails,

Bridget

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Packing Tips for Moms and Dads with ADD

January 26th, 2011 by bsmith | 1 Comment | Filed in Uncategorized

Looking back on my previous blog posts I have to marvel at the fact that, until a few months ago,  I had no idea that I might have ADD.  The title of my first post was “Don’t Forget Your Shoes!”.  So far in the history of our family travels we have forgotten: the clothes we were planning to wear to a wedding,  shoes, a wallet,  cell phones, power cords, and the list goes on.  Now I do not claim to be an expert in packing with ADD and there are no guarantees that I will be able to avoid all packing mishaps in the future. However,  here are a few strategies that have reduced the number of trips to Walmart and Fed Ex packages filled with wallets for our family.

Start  Early With Clean Clothes and a Detailed Shopping List

If I want to be successful at packing I need to start early with all of my family’s clothes clean.  That way I will be able to pack what I have, then can put together a detailed shopping list for anything I need.  Without the list, impulse buying can go a little crazy.  I try to limit last minute additions and wash to only a few items even if that means we look scruffy the week before a trip.

Create and Save a Detailed Packing List

Every ADD family should have a detailed packing list with all the things they usually pack  for vacation saved on their computer.  For each trip you can add or subtract items.  Be sure to cross out items  as you pack them, then have another family member take a separate  copy  and double check your work.

When Possible Multiple Small Suitcases are Better Than One Big One

When we get to the hotel, keeping track of everyone’s stuff is almost as challenging as the packing itself.  One way I solve this problem is by packing multiple suitcases.  Depending on the trip, I pack a suitcase per person or a suitcase per hotel.  This makes the initial packing process simpler (It’s much easier to “check my work” e.g. count underwear, socks, etc. in a small bag rather then a big one).  The suitcase per hotel model also helps keep the dirty clothes separated from the clean clothes.  If we do a suitcase per person, then that person is responsible for getting clothes out and returning them to their own bag.

Let the Kids Pack Their Own Stuff

For the little guys this means being responsible for putting together a tote bag with their lovey and a few  books and toys (Be sure to be clear about number and size!).  For bigger guys try the whole packing list, with a double check from Mom or Dad.  My eleven year old is a Boy Scout, and I have him pack for every campout all by himself.  If he forgets something he deals with the consequences.  After seeing my son come home as a lobster, I now double check for sunscreen!  I am always amazed by Justin’s self sufficiency and his tendency to pack light!

Staging is Key

EVERYTHING should go directly by your front door in one place.  We have forgotten everything from tent poles to pillows when we have neglected to use this technique.

In a few weeks I need to start packing for a ski trip in Vegas.  (I’ll probably start inventorying our ski stuff this week.) Let’s see if I can follow my own advice ;)

Happy Trails,

Bridget

P.S. Anyone else have packing tips for absent minded travelers?

P.P.S. For more info on the Smith’s Family forgetfulness check out “Don’t Forget Your Shoes…and Your Wallet” and of course Family Adventure Guidebooks inaugural post, “Don’t Forget Your Shoes!

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