Hiking with The Canyoneers & THE NAT!

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I love exploring nature with the kids. My dad took us on hikes a lot when we were kids and it was a great way to learn more about nature and the history of San Diego.

When THE NAT emailed me this morning to share their free, guided nature hikes, I knew I had to share it with my readers!

Canyoneers are citizen scientists and volunteers who have had comprehensive training by Museum scientists and local experts on the natural history of the region. Check out the full schedule of hikes between now and June 2020, and hit the trails with the Canyoneers! Look for the Canyoneer sign at the designated parking area. We are always hoping to see wildlife. Please leave dogs at home and come enjoy nature.

The Canyoneers offer free, guided hikes on trails throughout San Diego County from September through June. The new season kicks off this Saturday, September 8 with an easy, 1-mile hike on the Kumeyaay Lake Trail at Mission Trails Regional Park, perfect for children, seniors, and birdwatchers. 

In total, the Canyoneers are offering 80 hikes. Most are offered on weekends—with a few midday hikes being offered on select dates—and cover diverse terrain, ranging from the coast to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, and from the Tijuana Estuary to Palomar Mountain.

  • New hikes in Cleveland National Forest, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, and several other locations including Gremlin Way Trailhead in Dictionary Hill Open Space Preserve. 
  • Once a month, the Canyoneers will lead a mid-week hike to locations that are often crowded on weekends due to limited access. Examples include Equestrian Trail in Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve (November 13) and Luelf Pond Preserve in Ramona (May 12). 
  • The desert hikes that are scheduled on consecutive days allow for camping opportunities, reducing the amount of driving necessary to get to both hikes. The desert at night is a special treat. 
  • Some trails offer shorter hikes with little elevation change—good for younger hikers—and some very flat and paved hikes that are perfect for strollers and anyone with a disability. One example is the Batiquitos Lagoon Gabbiano Trailhead (September 14). 
  • If the weather cooperates, there’s a chance to see waterfalls on Cibbets Flat to Kitchen Creek Falls hike (February 9) and the Green Valley Falls Loop (June 28). Green Valley Falls is an amazing hike and has pools of water that are fun to play in!
  • Hikes in some of the most interesting geological areas in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, including Fish Creek/Split Mountain (January 4) and Canyon Sin Nombre (February 8)—perfect for slot canyon fans. 

And if you have kids, there is a special program for students and classes too!

“Kids are most inspired by nature when they get outside and experience it for themselves—seeing a Monarch butterfly or a coast live oak in person helps bring to life what they’re learning in the classroom,” said Judy Gradwohl, president and CEO of the San Diego Natural History Museum. 

The program is made possible with support from Subaru of America, who is generously supporting the Canyoneer hiking program for the fourth year in a row.

The Museum aims to serve approximately 550 students this year through the program. Space is limited on the hikes. For more information or to book a hike, visit sdnat.org/schoolnaturehikes or call 619.255.0349. 

If you are looking for books about hiking and exploring the many awesome trails and cool nature spots in San Diego County here are two books I completely recommend!

This is my personal favorite and has TON of kid and family-friendly hikes!

Cheese and Crafts with Truly Grass Fed & Tryazon!

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Cheese and Crackers!

On Thursday we invited some friends to the park to sample Truly Grass Fed Cheese and paint some wooden crafts.

Screen Shot 2019-08-11 at 7.33.14 PM.pngIf you haven’t heard of Truly Grass Fed, here is some info about what they are and their philosophy, “The Truly Grass Fed way of dairy farming has been passed down through the generations and has continued to evolve and innovate with the times. Our belief in sustainability and in preserving the beautiful land of Ireland is ingrained in our values and informs our way of life. We love what we do and we’re passionate about maintaining our unique way of farming. We truly believe that ensuring our cows live outside for most of the year, providing them with 95% grass to eat and treating them with care and respect makes for superior-tasting cheese and butter. We are proud of the products we produce, and we are excited to share the abundance of our labors with those looking to discover a little piece of Ireland in an exceptional hunk of cheese or generous spread of creamy butter.” You can learn more here.

IMG_6662The cheese was soo good! Rich, creamy and sharper than most cheddars. The moms gobbled down the samples (seriously, it’s so good). In San Diego, you can find Truly Grass Fed at Vons stores- It’s in the deli with the fancy cheese!

Screen Shot 2019-08-11 at 7.29.56 PM.pngWe snacked and painted, and the kids ran off to play at the playground before it got too hot.

Everyone in attendance received a reusable cloth grocery bag and a money-saving coupon.

And if you want to learn more about Tryazon, their website has tons of information about all of the cool campaigns and parties they have coming up!

I received coupons for free cheese and the party favors (bags and coupons) for free in order to facilitate a group party with friends and their kids. All opinions are my own. I was not financially compensated, however, we did get to keep the charcuterie board.

 

 

#choosetruly #trulygrassfed #tryazon

7 Frugal Ways to Beat The Heat!

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Ok, so it’s not *that* hot, but close…

This week has been slightly hellish. It’s hot, humid, and just so gross no one wants to move.

It’s too expensive for us to run our AC all the time (Thanks SDG&E!), and really, I don’t want to spend all day in the house, so here are my top 7 Frugal Tips to Beat the Heat in San Diego!

  1. Check out your local library. Both County Libraries and City of San Diego Libraries have awesome summer programs for kids and adults!
  2. There is still time to sign up for Kids Bowl Free All Summer! Just pay for bowling shoe rental!
  3. Visit Balboa Park for Free Tuesdays at various museums each week. Another free activity in Balboa Park is the Botanical Garden and Lily Pond. Right next door is the Spanish Art Village, which is fun to explore as well. Pack some snacks and make a day of it.
  4. Check out your local indoor mall for fun family activities. In San Diego, we’ve got a couple- Plaza Bonita, Parkway Plaza, and Westfield North County (the mall formerly known as North County Fair). Each one has monthly fun activities for kids and families- just check your local mall’s website.
  5. Have you seen the kinds of Groupons that are available lately? Uptown Jungle has 6 options! There are all kinds of fun activities from Axe throwing to waterparks, you’ll be having all sorts of frugal adventures in no time.
  6. Get in the Water! Beach, lake, river, local pool… whatever. Heck, get in a kiddie pool and splash around. Don’t forget the SPF and snacks.
  7. If you want to stay home, close up all the windows, draw the shades/curtains, turn on all your fans, set the AC to something comfy but not arctic (for us, that’s 80-82 degrees when it’s going to be over 100 outside). Once the house is chilled out, pop some popcorn and assemble some awesome snacks (We had this pumpkin/fuck it bucket because I received it in the mail to review), make a pillow fort and watch some fun movies. We did that the other day. We watched Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and Zootopia.

If you are looking for a way to cool down in your pillow fort, this little dude is pretty cool (haha, temperature pun!)

Talk Back: What are your favorite ways to beat the heat?

Giveaway: Summer Fun at Uptown Jungle!

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Henry playing Dodgeball with the Big Kids

Yesterday the kids and I headed over to Uptown Jungle in Santee. If you haven’t been there in a while (or ever) they’ve got a lot of exciting stuff going on right now!

For those not in the know, Uptown Jungle is an indoor playground with a giant trampoline, super slides, and 2-story indoor Mega Play Structure, Obstacle Course, and climbing walls! So regardless of the summer heat outside, kids can run and play.

The Santee location is going to be getting a makeover soon. The toddler area will be getting a wall-sized Light Brite board (which sounds super cool to me), the Obstacle Course is getting a cool ninja makeover, and the parent’s lounge will be reconfigured!

One of the best parts of Uptown Jungle is that the staff is really great with kids and they try to make sure everyone has an awesome time. The staff helps the kids safely get into the climbing wall harnesses and cheers them on as they climb. The trampoline area switches from little kids to big kids frequently, so everyone gets a turn to play safely.

One thing that really impresses me is that Uptown Jungle has Fundraising opportunities!

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Forget selling candy bars, candles, T-shirts, etc. Host a fundraising event at Uptown Jungle and earn 35% of the group’s admission!

And of course, there are opportunities for Birthday parties or team parties!

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Uptown Jungle has a Customer Royalty Program! When you download the app, you receive an offer for 1 hour of free play added to your paid admission! Find it wherever you download apps.

And they also have an email club! Join the Email Club for a Buy One Get One Hour of Play Time!

I want to share the fun of Uptown Jungle with you! One lucky reader will win 4 90-minute passes to Uptown Jungle. To enter, click here, or visit our Facebook page here (This option may not be mobile friendly).

 

Talk Back: How do your kids get their wiggles out in the summer?  

 

IMG_5970.jpgThanks so much to Ricky and his staff at the Santee Uptown Jungle for hosting the kids and me yesterday! We had a fun time, and they were exhausted after 90-minutes of running, jumping, climbing, and sliding!

 

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“Get my Good Side Mom!”

Summer Fun on a Budget!

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It’s here again… Summer Vacation. Soon we shall hear the sounds of sighs, the boredom, and the wailing about how there is nothing to do or eat.

Ya’ll can feel me, right? Ok, so here are some ways to beat the boredom without breaking the bank.

Kids Bowl Free All Summer! Just pay for bowling shoe rental!

Free Summer Lunches for kids– Lots of locations have events or activities nearby, so you can have fun and have a free lunch!

The splash ground at Santee Lakes is GREAT! It’s only $2.00 per kid to play and if you park outside the Santee Lakes, you don’t have to pay to park! Take a picnic and it’s a great frugal outing! We go at least once a week in the summer and it’s always
a GREAT time!

The Santee Lakes hosts free summer movies throughout the summer.  If you park your car outside the gates (there is lots of street parking!), there is no cost of the movies.  If you drive your car into the park, it’s $8.00 per car, regardless of how many ppl are in your car.   Bring a picnic and some blankets and kick back for a fun family movie!

There are a bunch of municipal pools in San Diego that have open swim times, and a couple that have splash pads!

Most San Diego, CA area YMCA locations have fun events for kids a few Saturday nights per month. Our local Y does Kids Night at the Y twice a month. It’s only $20 per kid (Just a little more if you aren’t a member), and your kids go have fun for 4 hours. It’s cheaper than a sitter and a lot more fun!

Speaking of the YMCA- Most locations have pools, splash pads, or other aquatic fun, entrance is included with YMCA membership. If you aren’t a member, entrance fees are just a few dollars (it varies by location).

Balboa Park still offers Free Tuesdays at various museums in the park.

San Diego County Libraries have story time and various kid events each week.  I love taking the kids to the Santee library story time!

El Cajon, La Mesa, and Escondido all have classic car shows/rallies each week that are free.  Most have free live music too!  Check out some sweet rides, cool tunes, and have a fun frugal night with the fam!

San Diego County has great parks, as do most of the cities in San Diego County! Our favorite parks include Big Rock Park in Santee, Kennedy Park in El Cajon, La Mesita/Junior Seau Park in La Mesa, Harry Griffin Park in La Mesa (great for little kids).

If you’ve got a Starwood Managed Mall Near you (We do- It’s Parkway Plaza), check out their fun kid’s events each month called: MallStars.  There are different crafts, games, and sometimes even snacks for the kids (10 and under) to do! Times and locations within the mall vary, so check with mall management.

Talk Back: What kind of stuff do you do to keep your family entertained for free?

2019 Free Meals this Summer for Kids!

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Like last year, I’m still pulling together resources at the time that this is published, and I’ll be adding additional sites as soon as I can.

School will be out within a month for most kids in San Diego, and that means there are some parents (and kids) who usually rely on free or subsidized school lunches may find themselves wondering what to do.

Thankfully, a lot of great organizations have stepped up and partnered with local area schools, libraries, rec centers, and civic organizations to provide free breakfasts, lunches, and snacks for al kids 18 and under this summer.

For any of these opportunities, there is NO PROOF OF INCOME OR PROOF OF NEED REQUIRED. You take your kiddos, show up at a location near you during the lunch period (each location sets its own hours), and the kids get a yummy, healthy lunch for free. Menus vary, but all lunches meet USDA guidelines for a healthy lunch (think of the food pyramid).

You can search here for a list of California Department of Education sites that offer free meals (some sites offer breakfast, lunch, and/or snacks).

Screen Shot 2019-06-01 at 1.52.03 PM.pngFor those of us in Eastern San Diego County, Cajon Valley School District sponsors free lunches!

Menus will probably be available in the next few weeks. Last Summer every Friday was pizza day! And there are usually vegetarian options daily for those of you who have meat-free kiddos (previous options included bean, rice, and cheese burritos, hard boiled eggs, string cheese, cheese sandwiches, nut butter sandwiches, or Uncrustables)!

Last summer The El Cajon Library had lunch and activities (crafts, story time, etc) each day (Monday -Friday).

Screen Shot 2019-06-01 at 2.03.13 PM.pngSan Diego Unified School District has partnered with some awesome sponsors to host the Summer Fun Cafe 2019 all over San Diego County! Lunch will be served at over 30 locations all summer for kids 18 and under! The kick-off Summer BBQ (with free lunch for adults too) at Penn Athletic Field on 6/20/19 10:30am-2:00pm! There are all kinds of activities, community resources, and even free produce for families to take home!

Most locations will be serving lunch on June 17-August 16, 2019.

What I love about this program is that there are tons of rec centers hosting these lunches and they are usually adjacent to a playground, which means after a long morning of playing, the kids don’t have long to wait to get a yummy lunch!

Looking for a few ideas of summer fun with a nearby lunch?

  • There is a lunch location down at the Waterfront Park- which is also free (You have to pay to park at the meters)! It has a great playground and a splash area.
  • The Tierrasanta Rec Center has a cool kids splash ground that’s open early in the day. It’s not free, but it’s pretty cheap ($2/ kid, $4/adult).

If you know of more summer lunch programs for kids in San Diego County, I’d love to hear about them! Please leave a comment!

If you aren’t in the immediate San Diego area, text FOOD  (Or COMIDA for a list in Spanish) to 877-877, or call 211 and you can find a list of free summer lunch locations near you.

 

Summer Reading Program at San Diego Area Libraries!

Summer is upon us! And that means summer reading program at both San Diego County and City of San Diego Libraries!

Screen Shot 2019-05-16 at 5.49.13 PM.pngThe County of San Diego Library System has not yet put up their 2019 reading program. But their main website is here and las years summer reading program can be found here. I’m going to go talk to the kid’s librarian over at our local branch this weekend and see if I can get some info to post.

srp_2019_web_bannerThe City of San Diego Library System has its 2019 reading program up here.

Each program is different, and the prizes for each program are pretty cool. From tote bags and free lunches, to raffle tickets to win awesome grand prizes like drones and Lego sets, these programs are a great way to motivate kids to keep reading all summer long.

In addition to reading programs, there are also fun events at county and city libraries throughout the summer. My recommendation is to check out your local branches Facebook page. The Mission Valley branch has tons of great summer events planned!