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!

Looking for Free Fun? 10 Local Community Events

IMG_20120331_163227We love getting out of the house to have adventures, but, being frugal means that I have to get creative.

Thanks to local publications like The San Diego Reader and San Diego Family Magazine (both are free and available all over), as well as Facebook, we are never wanting for free fun.

Here are our Top Ten Community Events that are for kids and families for Q1 2018:

  1. 1/2/18-1/4/18 Santee Library hosts the most fun, creative events for kids. They are starting the year off with 3 events, January 2-4 in the afternoon.  We are very excited to go to Imagination Day. If you aren’t in East County, check out your local San Diego County, or City of San Diego Library branch. Most branch libraries have fun events for kids after school and during holidays.
  2. 1/6/18 Free Family Fun Fest at the Kroc Center.  The Kroc Center hosts a lot of great programs and events each month. The Kroc Center Free Family Fun Fest – Meet & greet with the San Diego Sockers, sports challenges, arts & crafts, inflatable park, costume dress up, giveaways and more
  3. 1/16/18 Family Read and Play Day. Again the Kroc Center is hosting this event. They host a reading event usually once a month. Sometimes the kids get to take home a copy of the book as well. Family Read and Play day, featuring the book, “Children Around the World” by Donata Montanari.
  4. 1/20/18 Santee Active Life Expo.  From 9am-2pm, some of the free activities include: Watch professional athletes compete, Health & wellness activities, Extreme obstacle courses, Trial fitness classes, Firefighter challenge,  BMX trick shows, Free breakfast (while supplies last), Learn how to race walk
  5. 2/3/18 The Water Conservation Garden over at Cuyamaca Community College offers Free Docent lead tours of the gardens. Tours begin promptly Saturday mornings at 10:00 am in the Plaza. No reservation required. 12122 Cuyamaca College Drive West
    El Cajon, California 92019 My kids love this place- There are tons of fun areas to explore and learn all about nature.
  6. 2/6/18 is National Frozen Yogurt Day.  There are no concrete details yet, but in past years Menchie’s and Yogurtland both gave away free froyo. I will for sure be posting more details as they become available.
  7. 2/9/18 is National Pizza Day.  In the past there have been great offers for free slices and free whole pizzas. Sbarro and Pizza Hut usually participate.
  8. 2/13/18 is Shrove Tuesday which means that FREE PANCAKE DAY will be around that time. IHOP is the only restaurant in our area that offers free pancakes.
  9. 2/14/18 is Valentine’s Day. There are usually free events for kids at local libraries.
  10. And finally- Henry’s Birthday is in March. While there are no specifc free events for his birthday, here are my lists of birthday freebies (for kids and adults). Original List and the updated list with some fun new stuff.

I’d love to hear about what your favorite free local events are!  Please drop a comment with details and a link!

Carry your Big Kid with Free Loader

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TA DA!

Last month I posted that we were going to test out a new baby/kiddo carrier now that Bitty Bird isn’t so Bitty any more.

We took the FreeLoader to her birthday party, and Daddy wore her while the kids played and frolicked on the play ground (Bitty was getting tired of walking and running at this point- She needed “Daddy uppies!”).

The Freeloader is awesome for bigger kids.

  • Carrying capacity: 25-80 lbs.
  • Minimum Age: 2 ½ years
  • Standing height: 33″-50″ tall
 Per Mr. Hewes (The hus-bear), the Freeloader is lightweight, easy to take off and put on. I will add though, it’s a two person job getting your kiddo strapped in.

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Bitty had an awesome time (She is screaming “Whee Daddy!!” in this photo) being strapped into the Freeloader. It has a 5 point harness that snaps at the child’s back.

It was pretty warm that day, but thankfully the back of the carrier is open back in design and air flows through pretty well.

It’s got a chest buckle, and ergonomic waist strap. Combine that with the nice, comfy padded straps, The Freeloader makes carrying bigger kids easier.

We offered Lil’ Man a ride, but he declined. He was too busy having adventures in the creekbed.

The Freeloader is small enough to carry-on and stows away neatly, making it perfect for air travel, road trips and more! See more at http://www.myfreeloader.com/ and find Freeloader on facebook.

Thanks to Freeloader and the great folks at USFG, you can save on your Freeloader! Freeloader FUN with the Family – 10% off your Freeloader Child Carrier when you enter the code “freeloaderfun” Take your children on the adventures of their dreams!

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Daddy, come on! Time for adventures!

Thankfully, the Freeloader is lightweight (5.8 lbs) and folds up flat- It’s going to be a staple for our late summer and fall adventures into nature! It fits in Miss Sally (My Nissan Versa) with tons of room to spare! It travels well too!

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Oh, and for those who are curious, Bitty Bird had a Batman Birthday Party. She loves 1965 Adam West Batman. We all wore Batman shirts, and I made her a full circle skirt from Batman printed cotton. She had on a crinoline under it.

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Photo by Clicks by Christine/Christine Boyce

And of course, the only picture of me, is me and Bitty getting into the cooler to get the kids more water! But I’m wearing a Batman shirt!

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Toddler and Child Wearing with Freeloader!

freeloaderYa’ll know I love to baby wear…. Well, Itty Bittums isn’t so bitty anymore and we have had to pass along some of our smaller carriers to new homes. I am sooo looking forward to checking out the new Freeloader!

freeloader3The Freeloader is the First Child Carrier Built Specifically for Toddlers! It is a new, better child carrier. Compact, lightweight and portable, the Freeloader child carrier uses advanced materials and design to create a better experience for parents who love spending time with their kids. Whether you are traveling by air, going to the zoo, or hiking with your little ones, the Freeloader is ready to help carry the load. When not in use, the Freeloader’s integrated aluminum seat folds up neatly to the size of a daypack. The Freeloader is a perfect fit for parents that want a lighter, more versatile carrier. The Freeloader features an easy-to-use, 5-point safety harness. The safety harness is specially designed to fasten securely and safely out-of-reach of your child.
11063893_436296996539685_3379109432765157363_nThe Freeloader provides wide, ergonomic shoulder and waist straps to evenly distribute your child’s weight to your hips and core. The contoured shoulder straps are adjustable and provide extra padding for comfort and support. Padding in the back panel and seat offers extended comfort for your child.
The Freeloader is small enough to carry-on and stows away neatly, making it perfect for air travel, road trips and more! See more at http://www.myfreeloader.com/ and find Freeloader on facebook.

Thanks to Freeloader and the great folks at USFG, you can save on your Freeloader! Freeloader FUN with the Family – 10% off your Freeloader Child Carrier when you enter the code “freeloaderfun” Take your children on the adventures of their dreams!

I’ll be receiving my Freeloader in a few weeks, testing it out, and I’ll report back with my thoughts, as well as some pictures and even a video or two!

 
@usfg

Camping with Kiddos!

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As we prep for our annual family camping trip, I thought I’d share some of the fun things we do with the kids when we camp.

In addition to all of the usual camping stuff: Tent, blankets, pillows, air mattress, clothes, toiletries, Sunscreen, food, camp kitchen stuff…. You need stuff to do!

A friend and I made a huge batch of play dough last week, and we’re taking half of the batch, along with some cookie cutters, small rolling pins and other fun play dough stuff I got on my local Buy Nothing Group.

Games: High Ho Cherry-O, card games (like Uno, and a few regular decks of cards), lawn bowling.

We also have a craft box. It’s a large tote, like this one. I’ve filled it with all sorts of craft odds and ends. Mostly stuff leftover from other projects, as well as stuff I’ve gotten from Craigslist Curb alerts, and my local Buy Nothing group.  There is paper, scissors, glue, beads, pipe cleaners, paint, and so much more! The kids rifle through it and come up with some of the most interesting projects. I really believe that kids need to have free reign over creative play, so as long as I am there to make sure they are safe, they are free to create and play how they wish.

Bubbles. I make about a gallon of bubble solution, and we have all kinds of wands and stuff (Dollar tree and Target’s Dollar spot are great places to find bubble toys). We also make some out of pipe cleaners.

We also cook a lot when we are camping. We use dutch ovens to make all kinds of baked goods, including our favorite: Beer Bread. My dad has a cool clay Pizza oven (it’s this one), and we make pizzas in the late afternoons to snack on. Our favorite pizza recipe is here.

Here are a few pictures of our adventure last year:

We also of course, play at the campground play ground, go on nature hikes (and do some fun nature scavenger hunts- check out Pinterest for a bunch). We spend time with family and friends, and of course, check out all of the events and fun at the big camping event in which we are participating.

Camping is a great family activity, and here in San Diego there are so many places to camp! From the beach, to the mountains, to the desert, there are campgrounds, both private and public for low prices!

If you are a camper, where is your favorite place to camp?

Enjoy The Great Outdoors at Mission Trails Regional Park!

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Exploring the Dam is one of our favorite activities!

IMG_2796When I was a kid, my dad took my brother and I hiking a lot. We had all kinds of fun adventures, but I always loved Mission Trails Regional Park, specifically Old Mission Dam.

As Lil’ Man gets bigger, we are looking for more fun outdoor adventures. This last rain storm would be the catalyst for two days of big outdoor fun.

Friday, we loaded up and headed over to to dam. The past week of rain has really changed our usual path, so we got to explore some areas we’d never seen together.

IMG_2833It was a great chance for him to check out new trails, see erosion in action, splash in the cold stream water (there were a couple times we had to jump over streams to continue on, and well, we didn’t quite make it!), and see shells. There are a lot of little fresh water clams that make the river their home, as a result, we saw lots of shells!

We climbed, discovered, and navigated our way through the park for about 2 hours. IMG_2817By far the most exciting thing we found was an old, rusted car that had been shot at many, many times in the past. When you area four year old boy, nothing is more exciting than a rusty old car.

After stopping for snacks and water, we continued on to explore nature and hopefully find some cool rocks (another favorite pastime).IMG_2818

On Saturday, we headed over after lunch to the Visitor & Interpretive Center. It was closed, but we checked out the nature flora and the amphitheater. Then we did the loop around the center. It was a fun, easy walk (no pictures, we were too busy exploring).

It’s a quick 1 mile loop with a couple foot bridges and it overlooks the river, which is “raging” (as much as it can here) right now.

If you are in the San Diego area and haven’t been to Mission Trails Regional Park, you are missing out. There is tons of fun to be had and nature to explore. There are paths and trails for every skill level, and there is even a paved path along Father Junipero Serra Trail if you aren’t feeling adventurous, but still want to get outside. Parking is free, admission to the park and Visitor & Interpretive Center is free (but they do accept donations!). Most paths, except the paved road are not stroller friendly. Most paths are bike and/or Equine friendly, and leashed dogs are welcome.

And of course what better IMG_2835way to end a fun day of hiking, than with a little park yoga: