My Quarantine Beauty Favs and a Giveaway!

Here in California, as well as all over the nation, many businesses that are not essential are closed. That means no hair cuts, manicures, pedicures, massages, all the fun stuff that helps us relax and de-stress. Lemme tell you, after 5 months (as of Thursday) of being home with the kids all the time without knowing what is going on most of the time (or what is coming up next), I’m feeling a little stressed.

Most of you, I’m guessing, are in a similar situation. Recently I took some of my side hustle cash and splurged. Well, for me it was a splurge. I spent money on myself on some self-care items that were very much needed. These are my favorite beauty/personal care items that are helping me get through these uncertain times. 

I’m in love with this scrub! Everything by Tree Hut is awesome, but this sugar scrub is tits. It’s got Shea Butter to moisturize, sugar to exfoliate, and it smells like summer. I usually buy it at Walmart, but Amazon has it cheaper (especially when you subscribe and save).

 

Nature Nut Hair Conditioner for Dry & Damaged Hair– I discovered this conditioner through one of the companies that I test and review products through, and for the life of me, I can’t remember which one. Regardless- I am HOOKED. First of all, it smells great. Second, and most importantly, it makes my hair feel great. Smooth, soft, shiny, all that good stuff. And that’s important because my hair has been through some ish this past year. Purple hair is a lot of work. The shampoo is good too, but the conditioner? That stuff is tops!

Speaking of purple hair, I use Ion Permanent Brights Creme from Sally Beauty in Purple. Of course, you gotta have a developer, and a bowl and brush, and gloves too. I color my hair with this about every 8-10 weeks. My hair grows pretty fast, and to be honest, my hair is coming in more and more grey, so it’s super noticeable. To stretch my permanent color, I’ll hit the ends with a semi-permanent dark pink about week 4-6, and refresh the remaining all-over color with a semi-permanent purple. Right now I’m digging Color Jamz ( Reapsberry Kamikaze and Purple Passion to be exact). I use the pink on Bitty Bird’s hair too- It washes out in about 2-4 weeks.

I’m a huge fan of good skincare products. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen my self-care DIY facial flat lays. A couple of my go-to summer skincare products are:

Noexema– Seriously. It is incredible for soothing sunburned skin. I keep a jar under the skin for this very reason. Slather on a thick layer over sunburned skin and rest for about an hour. Rinse off any excess on a cool shower. Pat skin gently to dry.  

Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs and Rosewater This toner is very soothing and calming. I stash this in the fridge in the summer and give myself and the kiddos a spritz a few times a day. And it smells nice too. 

I know that some extra time in the shower, scrubbing with some yummy sugar scrub isn’t going to make all the shenanigans going on in the world melt away. But if I can give myself some grace, chill the fuck out, and have a few extra minutes to myself, I’m going to do it. 

Oh, and if you are wondering what kind of hand sanitizer (called hanny-sanny by my daughter) we like- Usually I’d say whatever is on sale, but since there was a recent debacle about some imported Hanny-Sanny being poisonous (WTF?), we’ve got a couple of large bottles of Kundal Fresh Water Hand Sanitizer that are pretty good. And it’s not sticky. Having used many types over the past few months, I’ve come to discover that some types/brands are sticky. EW. Also, I’ve come to realize that most of it smells like cheap vodka, and now I have no desire to drink vodka. 

And now for the Giveaway- I want you to splurge and get yourself some awesome self-care goodies too. Leave me a comment on this blog post: What would you buy FOR YOURSELF with a $25 Amazon GC? You can earn a bonus entry by commenting on this Instagram post. I’ll choose a winner on 8/23/2020. I’ll notify the winner via email.

Earn Money for Staying Active with Achievement!

b0e5d5e05457e2c8a12dc87c9b6eafc7 (1)If you are like me, you are looking for a way to stay physically active while gyms and fitness outlets are closed. The kids and I have taken up Pokemon Go- It’s a great way for us to get out and remain active while having something that keeps the kiddos engaged.

I’ve worn a fitness tracker (I have a Fitbit right now) for almost 10 years. I’ve been using Achievement to earn extra cash for tracking my steps and exercise for about 3 years now.

It’s super easy to use: Connect your fitness tracker (see the list below) to Achievement and be rewarded when you exercise, sleep, and log calorie or water intake.

It is non-intrusive, and you’ll earn points that can be redeemed for cash via PayPal, gift cards, or you can donate your earnings to various charities.

I earn $10 in PayPal cash about 4-5 times a year. I usually use it to reload my Starbucks Card.  It’s a nice little perk for being active.

It’s super easy to get started. Click here to sign up! This is my referral link- If you sign up using my link, I earn an extra points.

Achievement is compatible with over 20+ Android and iOS apps (and counting!).

Health and Fitness Apps:

  • Apple Health
  • Daily Mile
  • Expresso
  • Fitbit
  • Garmin
  • Google Fit
  • MapMyFitness
  • MapMyHike
  • MapMyRide
  • MapMyRun
  • MapMyWalk
  • Misfit
  • MyFitnessPal
  • Record
  • RunDouble
  • RunKeeper
  • Samsung Health
  • Stop, Breathe & Think
  • Strava
  • Withings

Lifestyle Apps:

  • A&D Connect
  • Qardio

Social Media Apps:

  • Twitter

Link to research that is done with the information collected: https://www.myachievement.com/research

How I’ve been keeping busy…

I’m busier now than I have been in ages! Most everyone has started distance learning, including our family.

Thankfully, Big Kids’ teacher is in communication and sent us an email with tons of great resources and links. I am trying to keep the kids entertained without relying on screens all day (even educational screen time). My kids are not motivated by worksheets either, so we need to do hands-on stuff.

Besides schoolwork, we’ve started our annual spring garden. Big Kid and I donned masks and hit up the local nursery. We picked out Catnip, Rosemary, Basil, and a hanging strawberry plant in addition to a few kinds of seeds. Our patio looks great, and the kids are outside daily tending to their plants and harvesting ripe strawberries. I kept the pots from last year’s garden.

The other night after the kids were settled, I decided to clean out the junk drawer (ok, 1 junk drawer, we have a couple), the utensil drawer, and the silverware drawer.

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I threw out old condiment packets, broken serving spoons, knives with broken/chipped handles, lids that had no corresponding cups, and I vacuumed out each drawer.

After I had completed that herculean feat, I dove headfirst (metaphorically) into the pantry.

I pulled everything out pantry and set it on the counter.

I checked all the expiration dates. Anything expired got the boot.

92843855_2893563990733604_4081992026843774976_o92828483_2893564054066931_3193846550136619008_oWhen all of this madness started a few weeks ago, I had gone to the store to do my weekly shop, and so many of the things that I’m used to buying were not available. I decided to purchase some alternate products from what we usually have in the house. Some were met with success, some were not so good- I’m looking at you Fideo Noodles.

As a result, I filled a reusable shopping bag with some food that did not cut the mustard. I took most of those items over to our local blessing box to help some of our neighbors in need. The rest I shared with some of the neighbors on our local free food group.

Our pantry is horribly laid out. It is very narrow and deep.  The dangerous part of our cupboard is you cannot reach all the way in the back without help. Last night I used a very long spatula to assist me. One of the things that I found was baby food. Little Bit is 4 1/2. I managed to clear out the pantry 100% and then refill it and move items around so it is easier to gain access

I get food in the mail or events from brands to cook with and post about on social media. Most of the time they give me a couple of each item, rarely they send cases. There were a lot of odds and ends of food from PR campaigns.

I’m also working my way through our closets to get rid of broken toys, clothing we’ve outgrown or don’t wear, or junk. I’ve come to realize that after all of this is over we’ll need to replace our towels (Our current set is from our wedding 12+ years ago), the kids need new sheets, and Big Kid is getting a new bed (which was in the works before Covid struck). And I’ll probably have enough clothing for a clothing swap- Both kids are mid-growth spurt.

It may seem like a lot of busywork, but we haven’t had a deep clean/in-depth declutter since we moved in- 5 years ago. I go through the kids toys several times a year, as well as their clothing and books. But, I’m bad about doing it with household goods and my personal items.

Today was more of a lazy day for us: We played some games, did some sight word writing, played Bingo, and made this stuff called Ooze Baff, which was 100% gross, do not recommend. If you want to try it, I bought it at Dollar Tree. For a Dollar.  In a little while, we’ll have bath time, and I’ll read to them. We may pull out the couch into a bed and all cuddle on the couch for a bit.

I would love to hear about how you and yours have been keeping busy! Leave me a comment!

Tips to Reign In and Out Of Control Family Budget: Shopping Around to Save!

683459ee810703fe032903d2443bf58d.jpgToday I’ll be sharing some ways to save money that takes a little more work but can definitely pay off in the end.

For some of us, this may seem like too much work, and that’s ok. Just because it’s something that my family does, doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone.

Insurance: Most companies offer a discount if you have more than one kind of policy. Example: State Farm offers a Multi-line discount. If you have your cars and another type of insurance (homeowners/renters/condo insurance, or a life insurance policy).

Some insurance companies serve a specific audience- for example, USAA is an insurance company for active duty or retired military. Because they serve a specific audience, they offer very competitive rates.

When you shop for insurance, have copies of all of the policies that you want to compare. That will help you see apples to apples. You can’t compare and try to save money if you don’t know what you’ve got. This is also a great time to go over all of your coverages and see if you need to increase or decrease coverages.

Due to state and federal regulations, you usually can’t shop for health insurance unless it’s open enrollment or you’ve had a qualifying life event (married, divorced, had a baby, retired, lost your job, etc.). Luckily, Tis the Season for open enrollment! We purchased insurance through the state exchange a few years back, before we had employer-sponsored insurance. It was not too difficult to navigate, and there are discounts available for a lot of people!

Cell Phones: This is my least favorite activity, but it can a money saver. Once again- have a copy of your contract or a copy of a recent bill that outlines everything your plan covers before you get started. If you are looking for a pre-paid plan, Tello has some great money-saving plans!

Internet: I hate dealing with our internet service provider. I always feel like they are trying to upsell me, no matter why I am calling in. We’re looking at changing our plan soon. The big kids school recently sent home information regarding a program that Cox offers called Connect2Compete. For those families that have qualifying social service(s), Cox can provide internet service for $9.95/month! That’s a great deal.

 

Talk Back: I’d love to hear your success story! Share how much you’ve saved by shopping around for your insurance, cell phone service, or internet service.

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.