Thursday, May 6, 2021

Vacation Bible School 2021

Vacation Bible School at Calvary Chapel 2018

Vacation Bible School is happening this summer! This is what I have found online so far. All ages are the ages children will be in this fall. If your church plans to do VBS this summer, forward me the info so I can add it! (I will add Trinity Lutheran, Ocean Hills and Living Faith if I see the info come out.)

June 14-18 9am-12pm  Calvary Chapel SB at 1 N Calle Cesar Chavez #21
Phone: 805-730-1400 Ages: 4 years to 6th grade  Price: $75 for the week  Register at:

June 14-18 8:30-12 CEF Adventure Club at various trails in Santa Barbara
Ages: 10-12 Price: Free Register at: More Info: 

June 28-July 2 8:45-12 Montecito Covenant Church 671 Cold Spring Rd, Montecito
Phone: (805) 969-0373   Ages: K -6th grade Price: $45 per child Register at:
 Sold Out
June 28-July 2  9am-12pm CEF Lego Camp Location: TBD Ages: 1st-6th grade Price: Free Register at: More Info: 

July 5-7 9am-3pm San Marcos Christian Camp (Calvary Chapel SB at 1 N Calle Cesar Chavez #21 Phone: 805-730-1400) Swimming, archery, BB Guns and Hiking Ages: K-6th grade Price: $100 

July 27-29 9am-12pm Surf Camp with Victory Sessions at Santa Claus Beach (Calvary Chapel SB at 1 N Calle Cesar Chavez #21 Phone: 805-730-1400) Games, Crafts, Bible Study and Worship Ages: K-6th grade Price: $50 Sold Out
July 12-16 CEF Soccer Camp 9am-12pm CEF Soccer Camp at location TBD
Ages: 1st-6th grade Price: Free Register at: 

I am sure I missed something so feel free to comment below or message me through Facebook at

Friday, April 30, 2021

Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park

Zumwalt Meadow

We visit Hume Lake every summer, just outside Kings Canyon National Park. While there, we sometimes tent camp in the campground there and sometimes stay in the cabins. Even during 2020 COVID, we went to a cabin for a week. While Hume isn't in the park itself, we have done many side trips in to each park. Because we go so often, I don't have a day by day plan or comments about lodging and food. 

Hume Lake from the Christian Camp

In the Hume area, our fun list includes:
Enjoying the lake (sometimes at Sandy Cove, sometimes other spots)
Kayaking with boats from the Boathouse (these costs are form people at camp/cabins)
High ropes course (when out kids are a little older)
Eat lunch or have an afternoon treat ice cream or shakes at the Snack Shop
Enjoy coffee at Hume N Beans
Walk or run around the lake (2.8 miles)
Hike to the Little Brown Church (it is not what you would expect!)

Sandy Cove

In Kings Canyon:
* Grant's Grove has the visitor's center for Kings Canyon where you can see exhibits on geology (Kings Canyon is deeper than the Grand Canyon). Also near Grant's Grove, there is a walking loop (about 1 mile depending on how much you walk) that includes the General Grant Tree (3rd largest in the world) as well as a tree you can walk through. 
* Raging River is a short walk down to a waterfall and pool for swimming (we haven't yet been to this one but it is on my list for this summer). 
* Zumwalt Meadow Trail is an easy 1.5 mile loop through a beautiful meadow near Road's End in Kings Canyon. 
Other things to check out: Muir Rock, Sheep Circle Cascade and the North Grove Loop

In Sequoia National Forest:
* Giant Forest is near Lodgepole Village and is the must see portion of Kings Canyon. Giant Forest Museum is the best visitor's center/museum in the parks. General Sherman is the world's largest tree.
* The hike to Moro Rock is short (.5 miles) and has stunning views. Check it out ahead as this is not the best toddler option.  
* Crystal Cave has a family friendly tour (although it does get dark during one part and that can freak kids out). 
Crescent Meadow Loop is a 1.7 mile loop and has a log house in a felled tree. 

Other things to check out: Topeka Falls Trail, Marble Falls Trail, Congress Trail, Big Trees Trail, 

National Parks with Kids

Friday, March 19, 2021

Winter 2021 Snapshot

Life Hack: We have milestones for our kids set up and are thinking through more things. Our kids didn't chew gum until age 5 and my 10 year old recently got her ears pierced. Makeup, social media and phone will come at 13, probably. There are other small things along the way and we revisited this subject recently when we found a pandemic way to get my ten year old's ears pierced (at Riviera ENT for $75). It has given our kids things to look forward too and made them feel the increased freedoms our kids need to feel as they grow.

New Product I Love: I found Bobbi Brown Mascara through Ipsy and it has been my favorite product so far.  It stays on the whole day (I do use this primer) and comes off at night.

Last Book I Finished: The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides Goodreads Review
The Silent Patient is Alicia Berenson, a famous painter who inexplicably murdered her husband and then slit her own wrists to commit suicide. She will not speak in her defense and is eventually committed into an asylum called the Grove. We meet her therapist, Theo Faber, beginning with his fascination with the story and his desire to help Alicia, even changing jobs to work at the Grove.

Because Alicia will not speak, Theo must find clues elsewhere to what happened in Alicia's past (brother-in-law, a gallery owner, and her cousin). Although interesting, I didn't find this part completely compelling because it seemed implausible that he could do this and not get fired.

This is a compelling read (or listen in my case) and the twist at the end was good. I don't want to say more for fear of giving it away.

Life Project: Intermittent Fasting 
My metabolism has changed in the past couple of years. Plus pandemic eating, so in December I decided I needed a change. I have been doing intermittent fasting (17/7) for a couple months and am feeling great. If you want to know more Fast. Feast. Repeat. by Gin Stephens is helpful or next up on my list to read is The Complete Guide to Fasting by Dr Jason Fung.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Staycation Spring Break 2021

Just as many of our kids are going back to school, it is time for spring break. We normally camp with friends over spring break, but this year we are staying put. Here are some ideas for what we might do. Use your best judgement to know if these options are good for you and your family. Let me know in the comments or on Facebook if you have other ideas. We love to try new things.
Santa Barbara and Goleta:
* See the animals at Santa Barbara Zoo (10-5 daily, reservation required)
* Visit Museum of Natural History (Wednesday-Sunday 10-4, reservation required)
* Cruise over to the Sea Center (Friday-Sunday 11-4, no reservations required)
* Explore the Botanic Gardens (10-6 Daily, no reservations required) 
* Enjoy the beach (Main Beaches 2016 and Off-the-Beaten Path Beaches 2020)
* Hunting for seashells and seaglass 
* Examine tidepools
* Explore the Farmers Market
* Drive in Theater
* Take a Hike or Nature Walk 
Further Away:
SLO and Pismo Beach Weekend Trip with many ideas for SLO, Avila, Arroyo Grande and Pismo

Friday, February 26, 2021

SLO, Avila and Pismo Weekend Trip

We needed a change of scenery a few weeks back and decided to take a trip to SLO/Pismo Beach area. There are tons of great Airbnb locations here, but we wanted a pool so we went through to stay at the Best Western Royal Oak which is near the Madonna Inn.

SLO is family friendly. 
* Bubblegum Alley might be the strangest tourist attraction you come across. 

* The Maino Open Space has 2 kid friendly hikes, both about 2.5 miles. They are both considered moderate, however the Lemon Grove Loop is the easier of the two. The M trail loop leads you to the large M on the hillside and requires gaining more altitude. They both take you through the historic lemon grove. The trails are closed after heavy rain because they are too muddy.

Historic Lemon Grove

Lemon Loop

M Loop

The View of the City

*Apple picking at SLO Creek Farms. Review

Apple Picking 

SLO Creek Farm

*Restaurants: High Street Deli is an awesome sandwich place with the best lettuce wrap job I have seen. 5 Guys is a chain, but its a great burger and we don't have one in SB. Tahoe Joe's is a good steakhouse (also a chain but a fav of my in laws). Mo’s Barbeque is tasty and met our need for barbecue (since Santa Barbara is lacking). Doc Burnsteins is the place to go for ice cream. 

High Street Deli

* Places we would like to visit post-COVID: SLO Children's Museum

Avila Beach is home to the hot springs.
* Avila Valley Barn is fun with hay and pony rides (not currently operating). You can feed farm animals and buy sweets. It is especially fun at Halloween and Christmas.  Review

Avila Valley Barn

Feeding the Animals

Pony Rides

Christmas Tree Lots

* You can soak in natural hot springs at the Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort. While you can stay overnight, they can also be rented by the hour. It is a bit stinky but relaxing. You can also swim or soak at Avila Hot Springs and this is a cheaper night's stay. 

* Places we would like to visit post-COVID: Central Coast Aquarium (Currently open Thursday Friday 12-3 and Saturday/Sunday 1-4), the hike to the Port San Luis Lighthouse and Avila Beach

Pismo has many sights to see for families.
Pismo Monarch Preserve traditionally has more butterflies than the Goleta one and it has the bonus that if you follow the nature path you walk out to the dunes for a great nature walk (we looped back along the beach--no ATVs here-- and it was still less than 2 miles). There are no docents there right now, but they recorded their info for field trips and such.

Butterfly Area

Butterfly Area 

Path to the Coast (Boardwalk)


Dinosaur Caves Park is a great park with a unique playground for all kids (it may merit its own post someday). There are many climbing areas, swings, a merry-go-round and a spinning dome (like at Wallis Park). 

Climbing Areas

Climbing Web


Dino Eggs

Elmer Ross Beach is a tiny beach that can be amazing at low tide! We walked down toward the Inn at the Cove just before low tide and saw a wonderland of crabs, sea anemones, hermit crabs, and a few sea urchins.



Sea Anemone

*Restaurants: Mo’s Barbeque is tasty and met our need for barbecue (since Santa Barbara is lacking). 5 Guys is a chain, but its a great burger and we don't have a location in SB. We really wanted to try House of the Rising Buns for sandwiches, but they were out of bread. 

* Places we would like to visit post-COVID: Pismo Pier and Promenade complete with a surrey ride and the Pismo Preserve (this is closed on the weekends for now). 

Other spots nearby
* Oceano has the Great American Melodrama and Vaudeville Review (currently closed). It is truly campy, but fun with 3 acts (normally a melodrama--boo, hiss, cheer--in two parts, then the song and dance vaudeville review). Oceano also  has the Rock and Roll Diner is in a train car (food is meh, but the location is unique).
* Arroyo Grande has chickens roaming in Centennial Park and Heritage Square Park with a walking bridge in between. And another Doc Burnsteins on Branch Street. There is the amazing ice cream, but also a huge train set all around the upper interior. There is also Mustang Water Park (currently closed). 
* If you are willing to drive a bit further north, the Elephant Seals in San Simeon are worth it especially in December through March. 

Related Posts:
Avila Valley Barn
SLO Creek Farms
Easy Day Trips

Friday, January 1, 2021

Best Parks for Big Kids

San Miguel Open Space

When I started the blog 5 years ago, I had a 1.5 year old and a not-quite 5 year old.  They were always happy to go to the park. Nowadays, they are 7 and 10--parks are not as exciting as they once were, but they still need to get out to run around (especially since parks are one of the things we can do these days.) What parks are good for bigger kids? These ones are 10 year old approved.

Santa Barbara
Alameda Park (Kid's World)
Bohnett Park
Chase Palm (Shipwreck Park) 

Wallis Park (Goleta Skatepark)

Monday, December 28, 2020

Nature Walks and Kid-Friendly Hikes

Carpinteria Bluff Preserve

I was asked to share over on Instagram for Santa Barbara Community Children's Ministry a couple times this year about focusing on what we can do, a conversation with my kids I had recently and this week, nature walks and kid friendly hikes. Here is the list of nature walks and hikes I mentioned there. 

Toddler Hikes (Nature Walks) 
Tucker's Grove (trail behind the playground)

Simple Hikes 
San Antonio Creek Trail at Tucker's Grove

Hikes for Older Kids (our To Do list)
Inspiration Point (off Tunnel Trail)