Friday, April 28, 2023

Vacation Bible School 2023

Vacation Bible School offerings vary from summer to 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!

June 12-16 9am-12pm Calvary Chapel SB at 1 N Calle Cesar Chavez #21
Phone: 805-730-1400 Ages: Kinder to 6th grade Price: $80 Register at:

June 19-23 8:45-12 CEF Adventure Club at various trails in Santa Barbara
Ages: 10-12 Price: Free Register at: More Info:

June 19-21 9-12 Ignite Sports Camp (No Noah Camp) Montecito Covenant Church 671 Cold Spring Rd, Montecito Phone: (805) 969-0373 Ages: 1st-6th grade Price: $75 Register at:

June 19-23 9am-2pm Victory Surf Camp 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: 2nd-6th grade Price: $195    Register: (Waitlist)

June 26-30 9am-2pm Victory Surf Camp 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: 2nd-6th grade Price: $195    Register: 


July 3-7 9am-12pm CEF Lego Camp Location: Calvary Baptist Church, 736 Islay St. Ages: 5-12 Price: Free Register at: More Info:

July 5-7  9am-2pm Victory Surf Camp 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: 2nd-6th grade Price: $195

July 10-14  9am-2pm Victory Surf Camp 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: 2nd-6th grade Price: $195 (Waitlist)

July 17-21 CEF Soccer Camp 9am-12pm CEF Soccer Camp at Kellogg Elementary School, 475 Cambridge Drive Ages: 5-12 Price: Free Register at:

I couldn't find info for camp at Ocean Hills, Reality or Trinity Lutheran. I am sure I missed something so feel free to comment below or message me through Facebook at

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Pinnacles National Park


Spring break 2023 we visited Pinnacles National Park! It is only 3.5 hours away, making it an easy destination. It is north-west of King City. The closest hotel accommodations and restaurants are in King City, but camping in the park makes it much more affordable and means you can get the best parking early in the morning before the crowds hit. The best time to visit the park is in spring or fall because summer can be hot (and some of the trails are partially closed in summer). There are 2 parts to the park which do not connect by road (but you could hike it). East Pinnacles has the campground and most of the trails.

The campground has tent cabins and tent sites. We stayed in a cabin which did have electricity, 3 cots and a heater/fan. It was chilly at night the week we were there (low of 29 degrees the first night!). We stayed for 3 full days and 4 nights, coming in late the first night. This was longer than necessary to see the park! I would recommend 2 days and you could get the highlights in 1 day.

Kid friendly trails include (listed in recommended order):
Bear Gulch Trail (East Pinnacles, 1.5 mile loop and connects to other trails):  This moderate trail goes through caves where bats nest and mate. We never saw bats but hiking through the cave was my 9 year old's favorite part of the trip. Bring headlamps or flashlights for the cave.

Condor Gulch Overlook Trail (East Pinnacles, out and back 1.8 total): This moderate trail leads to an overlook where you can look down on the condors!

Balconies Cliffs-Cave Loop (West Pinnacles, 2.4 mile loop): This loop trail goes through the cave, but there was too much water when we were there to enter safely. This hike is only reached from the east by a longer rim hike or a drive 65 mile (1 hour, 20 minute) since there was rain in the forecast we ate lunch in King City and hiked, driving back while it was raining.

Other Attractions:
Junior Ranger Program: We did not find any talks or places to visit a ranger, but downloaded the booklet to complete and send in.

Bear Gulch Nature Center was closed when we were there, but it looks like an interesting spot. It is located near the entrance to the Bear Gulch trail (Moses Spring Parking Area).

There is a viewing area for condors in the campground.

West Pinnacles Ranger Station looked big and modern but was only open on the weekend when we were there. (Although we read about an East Pinnacles ranger station, it was a store with someone to answer basic questions and had no displays.)

Friday, March 24, 2023

School Break Ideas

Happy Spring break y'all! Here is a round up of posts that give vacation and stay-cation ideas! Use our handy packing lists if you travel! 

Staycation Ideas
Spring Break Staycation
Summer Checklist (Old version 2020)
Beach Packing List
Hiking Packing List
Park Packing List

Close Family Trips
Pismo Camping (Planned by my 11 year old!) **Coming soon
Pinnacles NP ** Coming Soon

Longer Family Trips
For longer trips, check out Roadtrippin' with Kids and Audiobooks for Kids (written at age 4 and 7--time for an update!).
Glacier National Park
Grand Teton National Park
Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks
Yellowstone National Park
Zion, Bryce and North Rim Grand Canyon

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Pismo Camping 2022

Spring break 2022 I let my 11 year old plan our week. I gave her the idea of camping at Pismo and she planned from there. I gave her a budget and she stuck to it! It took a little coaching but she did a great job. (Thanks to Isla Vista School's fabulous Ms. Wong who did this as a class project during our year in the GUSD Virtual Academy.)

Accommodations: North Beach Campground Pismo Beach site 25: $120 

Gas: 20 miles per gallon at $4.7 per gallon 96 miles x2 = 192/20
8.8 gallons of gas round trip plus extra miles, 8.8 gallons to get around $83 for gas

Day 1: We drove to Pismo and set up camp. We went tide pooling at Elmer Ross Beach which I have mentioned before. It 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.

We enjoyed burgers at 5 Guys for dinner before returning to camp. 

Day 2: We enjoyed the beach at Pismo (which is just over the Dune from the campground). We headed up to Paso Robles for some family friends. We ate lunch at the Red Scooter Deli--yum and played at an amazing park we found (Sherwood Park). We headed back for a campfire hotdog dinner with s'mores. 

Day 3: We headed to Avila to visit the Central Coast Aquarium (adults $9/Kids $7) which is a small 2 room marine museum (even smaller than the SB Sea Center) and at

e pizza at Avila Pizza before walking the promenade. After an early campfire dinner of walking tacos, we went to the Great American Melodrama for an evening of fun! This is a family favorite.

Day 4: We drove to Montana De Oro State Park to hike the Valencia Peak Trail. It was beautiful with wildflowers galore. We had a picnic lunch on the trail and there may have been some who thought they might die on the trail. We were rewarded with BBQ for dinner at Ribline in Grover Beach along with more s'mores. 

Day 5: We tore down camp to head home, but made time for a stop at the Charles Paddock Zoo (adults $12/kids $8) in Atascadero. It has a 50% reciprocal agreement with the SB Zoo so tickets were $18! We also made time for Doc Burnstein's Ice Cream Lab (we hear it closed recently and is becoming a Rori's) in Arroyo Grande before we headed home!  

Goleta Mom Travel
SLO, Avila, Pismo Family Weekend
Zion, Bryce, and North Rim Grand Canyon NP

Yellowstone NP
Glacier NP
Pinnacles NP

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Packing Lists

I went on a women's retreat recently and had such a wonderful time. I realized however, how bad I am at packing for a short weekend away. I have great packing lists for longer trips but not for the short trip. I will fix that, but meanwhile here are my kid's packing lists for different ages. I have become more of a minimalist over the years and this reflects that. However, babies and toddlers simply need more stuff. Those lists are pretty comprehensive of all the things I could think of for a trip. You can also tells we try not to use technology much as we travel, but you may want to add that to the list.

Tween Packing List

Kid Packing List

Preschool Packing List

Toddler Packing List

Baby Packing List

Saturday, December 31, 2022

Fall 2022 Snapshot


With a new job for my husband and a new school for one of my kids as well as a busy season for my job, it has been a crazy fall at my house. I shared a few things we did over the summer, but not many hikes which was disappointing.  Hopefully we will get some hikes in over the school year. 

Favorite New Product: Waterloo 

I am loving Waterloo seasonal flavors: Spiced Apple and Cranberry! I got them at Costco in November.

Life Hack: Meal Planning 

It has been a crazy fall and I have appreciated the habit of creating a meal plan for the week, then doing the shopping once (hopefully) for that week. I got started a while back after my friend Paige recommended creating a theme for each day and finding meals to fit that theme (Mexican, meatless, soup, salad, Asian, Pasta, etc). My family especially loves fun Fridays: Hamburgers, Hotdogs, Tortilla Pizzas or Nachos.

Click the link above for this printable meal planner.

Last Book I Finished: Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

 I never read the Martian and science fiction is not my genre, but the Modern Mrs Darcy and multiple friends recommended this one so I gave it a try. I really can't describe the plot without giving too much away, but I loved the abundance of convincing scientific detail and the relationships involving the main characters. 4 stars only because it took my awhile to really get into the story.

Life Project: LinkedIn Learning  

Having finished my master's degree, this summer, I have been playing catch up with all the house and life things that I put off in the last year. I have also been taking advantage of the free LinkedIn Learning through Western Governor's University as an alumni perk!

What we are eating today: Navy Bean Soup with leftover ham from Christmas dinner

Related Links:
Winter 2022 Snapshot
Fall 2021 Snapshot
Summer 2021 Snapshot
Spring 2021 Snapshot
Winter 2021 Snapshot
Fall 2020 Snapshot
Summer 2020 Snapshot
Spring 2020 Snapshot
Winter 2020 Snapshot
Fall 2019 Snapshot
Summer 2019 Snapshot
Winter 2019 Snapshot
Fall 2018 Snapshot
Spring 2018 Snapshot

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Holiday Events 2022

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year! Here is our annual roundup of all things Christmas/holiday/winter! My original post about advent with kids is here


Pictures with Santa at La Cumbre Plaza from 12/1 until 12/24 (11am/12pm- 6/7pm)

Pictures with Santa at Paseo Nuevo from 11/25 until 12/24 (11am/12pm/1pm-6/7pm) as well as (fake) snow at 5:30pm and 6:30pm. 

Lane Tree Christmas Lot has trees for sale, but also a corn maze, hayride and farm animals to visit. 10am - 8pm 11/25 until 12/20.

The Trolley of Lights is already sold out, but you can find space on the Rockstar Trolley December 3rd-December 24th at 5:30pm, 7:30pm or 9:15pm or you can make your own tours using these directions (updated 12/5) A house on Carlisle in Goleta have longer light shows with music (tune in on the radio).

Santa Barbara ZooLights 4:30-8:30pm daily Advance tickets $28-$32

By Date: 

Let There Be Light at Westmont College Wednesday November 30th 5-7pm  Photos with Santa, hot chocolate, Christmas carols, and the lighting of Kerrwood Hall!

La Arcada Walk Photos with Santa, Christmas goodies and carolers Wednesday November 30 5-8pm

Silent Night, Silent Disco at Paseo Nuevo with World of Dance December 1st 5:30-7:30pm 
Downtown Santa Barbara Christmas Tree Lighting and Block Party Friday December 2nd 5-8pm
Rudolph (State Street Ballet) at the Lobero Saturday December 3rd 2pm, 6pm

Christmas in Narnia at El Montecito Presbyterian Church Saturday December 3 10:00am- 1pm
Carpinteria Holiday Spirit Parade  Saturday December 10 at 3pm

Candy Cane Train  at the South Coast Railroad Museum Saturday December 10 and Sunday December 11 11 Hours not announced $5 in the past

Holiday at the Ranch at Stow House Holiday crafts, caroling, hay rides and tours. Saturday December 10 9-4 pm $10/$5 Buy tickets in advance 
Goleta Old Town Parade Saturday December 3rd 16pm Rescheduled: Saturday December 10 6pm
Milpas Holiday Parade Saturday December 10 5:30-7:30pm

Nutcracker at the Arlington (Santa Barbara Festival Ballet) Saturday December 10 2:30pm and 7pm,

Santa Barbara Wharf Parade of Lights Sunday December 11 5pm, Boat parade at 5:30pm

Hollister Village Holiday Photos with Santa, carolers, arts and crafts  Saturday December 17 12-2pm

Nutcracker at the Granada (State Street Ballet) December 17 2pm and 7:30pm and December 18 2pm
Goleta Valley Library Festival of Trains Saturday December 17 10am-5:30pm and Sunday December 18th 1-5pm

Goleta Valley Library and Inspire Dance Clara and the Land of Sweets Tuesday December 20th 11am 

Free skating at Ice in Paradise with your Goleta Valley Library Card Friday December 30th 9-11 or 1:30-4:30.

Past events that may happen again: 
State Street (Santa Barbara Parade) is not happening 2022.
Snow Leopard Festival at the Santa Barbara Zoo not currently scheduled

Did I miss anything? What are your favorite local holiday traditions?