Friday, December 6, 2019

Fall Snapshot 2019

It's time for my seasonal check in!

Life Hack: Canva is a great way to design your own morning and evening routine lists for kids!

New Product I Love: Turkey Stuffing Kettle Chips I wasn't convinced when I saw these that stuffing spice goes with kettle chips, but they are delicious. I even topped my green bean casserole with them (they are gluten free!).

Last Book I Finished: Atomic Habits by James Clear 
James Clear had a life altering injury in high school. Rather than let it limit his prospects, he battled hard to return to baseball and the classroom. He credits the habits he learned for working back to health. Now he makes the study of habit his life work with a weekly email list to thousands! He refers back to pivotal books like the Power of Habit and gives ideas for how to implement the key thoughts in them. The atomic refers to how a small change daily can add up to a huge difference in the long run (not the explosive atomic idea that I was thinking). This is a practical book for how to make small improvements for life.

Life Project: Blog Series on National Parks and fine tuning my morning routine. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Grand Teton with Kids

Another park worth visiting with kids is Grand Teton National Park (original post on visiting national parks). It is always mentioned in connection with neighbor, Yellowstone National Park (my post here). If you drive from Santa Barbara, you would probably want to start here. Here were my driving directions for our 2019 trip. We decided to fly after looking at the drive time (22 hours from Glacier NP to Santa Barbara!), but even though we ended up flying, I still made a plan). 

Drive Option
Day 1 Drive to St George, UT 8.5 hours
Day 2 Jackson, WY 8.5 hours
Day 3 Grand Tetons
Day 4 Grand Tetons
Day 5 Grand Tetons
Day 6 Drive to Yellowstone 1.5-3 hours
Day 7 Yellowstone
Day 8 Yellowstone
Day 9 Yellowstone
Day 10 Drive to Glacier 9 hours
Day 11 Glacier
Day 12 Glacier
Day 13 Glacier
Day 14 Drive to Idaho Falls, ID 8 hours
Day 15 Visit with family in Idaho Falls
Day 16 Drive to San Francisco 13 hours
Day 17 San Francisco
Day 18 Drive to SB 7 hours

This was our plan from Yellowstone: 
Day 1: Drive to Grand Tetons from Yellowstone (about 3 hours) and set up camp in the tent cabin at  Colter Bay Campground. This included the views from North Tetons Rockefeller Memorial Parkway.
Tent Cabin at Colter Bay (from website)
Day 2: Visit Colter Bay Visitor Center and walk the Lakeshore Trail. Rent a boat and explore the lake. 
Lakeshore Trail

Day 3: Hike trail to Hidden Falls (1.3mi) at Jenny Lake and take the boat back to the Jenny Lake Visitor Center. View the Teton Glacier.

Hidden Falls
Day 4: Drive to Jackson and take a river rafting tour on the Snake River. Walk String Lake to Leigh Lake (2 miles) (some people do swim here). 
Rafting on the Snake River
Day 5: View Oxbow Bend. Drive though Morman Row. Visit Craig Thomas Visitor Center. Drive up Signal Mountain and tour the Rockefeller Preserve (3mi to Phelps Lake). 

Mormon Row
Other Teton ideas: a sunrise or sunset drive on the Antelope Flats Road to see wildlife, go swimming at Slide Lake, visit the town of Moose and its visitor Center, visit Teton Village for the tram and playground, Visit Chapel of Transfiguration, or take a Jackson Lake Boat Tour

National Parks with Kids

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Holiday Events 2019

Westmont Pickle Tree from the Westmont Blog
Santa Barbara Holiday Events

**I begin this holiday season with sadness thinking about the sweet man responsible for the amazing lights show on Ontare, Tom Dalton. He passed away in February and is much missed by many. **


Other ideas about the Christmas season with kids are in the original post.

Pictures with Santa at La Cumbre Plaza from now until 12/24 (10 or 11am - 7 or 8pm)

Candy Cane Train at the South Coast Railroad Museum Friday, Saturday and Sunday1-4pm  (11/29-12/22) $5 per person

Pictures with Santa at Paseo Nuevo from now until 12/24 (10 or 11am - 7 or 8pm) as well as (fake) snow at 6pm and 7pm.

Snowfall at Paseo Nuevo 6 and 7pm Daily until 12/31

Lane Tree Christmas Lot has tree for sale, but also a corn maze, hayride and farm animals to visit. 9 or 10am - 8pm 11/29 until 12/20.

The Trolley of Lights is already sold out, but you can find space on the Rockstar Trolley or you can make your own tours using these directions.  A house on Carlisle in Goleta have longer light shows with music (tune in on the radio).

By Date: 

Tree Lighting at the Rosewood Miramar Wednesday November 27 5:30

Christmas Pickle Tree Lighting at Westmont College Tuesday December 3rd 5pm

La Arcada Walk Photos with Santa, Christmas goodies and carolers Wednesday December 4th 5-8pm

Downtown Holiday Parade Friday December 6th 6:30-8:30pm

Pancakes, Santa and Reptiles a Fundraiser for the San Marcos Parent Workshop Saturday December 7, 8-11am

Hollister Village Carolers Family friendly activities, balloon art, music and more  Saturday December 7 &14 12-2

Snow Leopard Festival at the Santa Barbara Zoo Sunday December 8 10am-3pm (9am for Members)

Santa Barbara Wharf Parade of Lights Sunday December 8 Snow at 3, Boat race at 5:30pm

Jingle Jam at SBCC hosted by Mission City Church Bounce houses, face painting, dance party and showing a Christmas movie Friday December 13 6:30-8:30pm

Breakfast with Santa at Islands Saturday December 14 9-10

Holiday at the Ranch at Stow House Holiday crafts, caroling, hay rides and tours. Saturday and Sunday December 14&15 11am-4pm $5/$2

Hollister Village Carolers Family friendly activities, balloon art, music and more  Saturday December 7 &14 12-2

Waldorf Winter Faire is free with activities to stimulate your child's imagination Saturday December 14 1-5pm

Old Town Goleta Parade Saturday December 14 6-8pm

Christmas Shorts: A Christmas Party and Puppet Show at Community Covenant Church of Goleta Saturday December 14 and Sunday December 15 6-7:30 pm $10/family

Living Nativity at First United Methodist Church December 20, 21 and 22 from 5:30-7:30.

Past events that may happen again: 

Storytime with Santa at Paseo Nuevo Thursday December 13 10:30

Milpas Holiday Parade Saturday December 1, 2018 5:30-8:30

Breakfast with Santa at the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Barbara Saturday December 15 9-11am

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

Visiting Yellowstone with Kids

For back ground, see the first post in the series! In summer 2019, our vacation was a two and a half week trip that included Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park and Glacier National Park. We decided to fly after looking at the drive time (22 hours from Glacier NP to Santa Barbara!). If you want the detailed drive plan though, look at the upcoming Grand Teton post. We chose to fly to Bozeman, Montana since it was between the three places and our longest drive day was 9 hours from Grand Teton in Wyoming to West Glacier, Montanta. It was long but do-able.

Day 1: Fly to Bozeman, MT from LAX. We also gathered supplies this day since we still camped for most of the trip. Most of the supplies came from Target or Bob Ward's Outdoor, conveniently located next door. Another location we got supplies second hand was Twice Treasured. In Bozeman, we stayed at Bozeman Ramada by Wyndham which has a very fun waterslide at the pool!

Awesome waterslide
Day 2: Drive to Yellowstone (2.5 hours) and set up camp. We stayed at Madison Campground (because it is at the lowest elevation--hopefully warmest--for tent camping). If we had stayed in a lodge, we would have chosen Canyon Lodge since it is centrally located. As you drive, you pass through the town of West Yellowstone, home to the Grizzly Museum where you can see Grizzly bears up close.
Day 3: Take in the Old Faithful geyser which erupts every 90 minutes. The rangers speak frequently and the visitor center is interesting and there are several wooden, walking paths around the area including a one mile and a 2.4 mile loop. We also took in the nearby Grand Prismatic Springs which also have wooden, walking paths to best very the alien looking, colorful pools. After driving the Firehole Lake Drive, we walked the Fountain Paints Pots Loop. This was a big walking day, so you may have to pace yourself with kids.

Grand Prismatic Spring
Day 4: Drive to the Roosevelt Arch near Gardiner, MT (Eat pizza at K-Bar Pizza and restock supplies). Visit Mammoth Hot Springs and walk the area. There are many connecting paths and (you can choose how much you are up for that day (1-2 miles). The nearby Albright Visitor Center is interesting if you have time. The swim in Boiling River is fun and worth the short trek (.5 mile/1 mile roundtrip). 
Mammoth Hot Springs
Day 5: Hike Artist's Paint Pots (about 1 mile roundtrip). Drive to the Canyon Visitor Center for a quick look then explore the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Much can be seen from the road but pick some view points to get out of the car to take in the scope of the canyon. Hike Uncle Tom's Trail (.6 mile) or part of the North Rim Trail (up to 6 miles). Pass through the Grand Canyon to the Lamar Valley. Wildlife is best viewed in the early morning or at dusk so we drove through had dinner in Cooke City, then back through at dusk.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Day 6: Drive through the Hayden Valley to see wild life. Wildlife is best viewed in the early morning or at dusk, but we saw a lot even driving through during the day. Continue down to Yellowstone Lake and hike West Thumb Geyser Basin (.5 miles).

We drove to Grand Teton Day 7, but we did take time to swim in the Firehole River.  We could have taken time to do another partial day. Other items that showed up on several lists that we did not have time for: the Norris Geyser Basin including Porcelain and Back Basins (2 mile hike), Mystic Falls (2.4 mile hike), Fossil Forest (3 miles) and Trout Lake (1 mile).

Firehole River


Saturday, November 23, 2019

Fall Leaves Or How to Find Fall in Santa Barbara

Cambridge Dr December 2019
I love Santa Barbara. I am a native so I don't miss the real feeling of fall here. I did take a truly amazing trip to Maine to see family in mid-October many years back and was beautiful. For those of you who miss the feel of fall, this may just be a taste, but here are some places to find leaves falling and covering the ground that may make you feel better. Thanks to my Facebook friends for making my list longer! What are your favorites? Leave a comment or message me on Facebook!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Vacation National Park Trips

Glacier National Park

This is my 200th post, y'all! Who knew our little park hunt would turn into an ongoing blog?

One of the things we love to do as a family is visit National Parks. We did a huge one this past summer (2019) to Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Glacier National Park. We have also visited Zion, Bryce and the North Rim Grand Canyon (2015), Yosemite (2016) and Sequoia/Kings Canyon (every year).

There two things worth mentioning. When you have a 4th grade child, you can print out a free national parks pass to exchange at a park for the actual pass (good September through August, but it is the honor system). Do print it out ahead of time. It is worth the $80 pass price currently. For you Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, there is a special patch you can earn, logging about 10 hours in parks. Any Jr Ranger booklets, talks and guided hikes counted for us.

During the school year, I plan to post about these trips as much as I documented and can remember. I hope it helps someone plan their next adventure!

National Parks (Est. Post Date)
Bryce Canyon
Grand Canyon -- North Rim 
Grand Teton
Kings Canyon (April)
Sequoia (April)
Yosemite (March)

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Fall Events 2019

Apple Picking at SLO Creek Farms
Fall brings its own fun in Santa Barbara. Although we can't really enjoy the leaves or crisp weather, there are some fun events!

All Month Long:
Lane Farms has a pumpkin patch with hay ride and corn maze open from the last weekend in September through Halloween. Hours are 9am-9pm (corn maze closes 1 hour before the patch closes and opens at 3pm weekdays).

Big Wave Dave's has kids games and plenty of pumpkins. It is open through Halloween.

The Fillmore Railway has a Pumpkin Liner every Saturday and Sunday in October 10:30-5.

San Luis Obispo's Avila Valley Farm has a fall festival too!

Apple Picking at SLO Creek Farms

Moorpark's Underwood Family Farms has a fall festival worth checking out. Starting the last weekend in September, they are open 9-6 and have a tractor ride, corn maze, pig races, an animal center and much more. $6 per person weekdays/$15 per person weekends.

Local Events:
Boo at the Zoo takes place October 18, 19 and 20 and is special hours from 4:30/5:30-7:30/8:30. There are characters and animals roaming the grounds, a hay bale maze, costume parades, themed train rides and of course trick or treating.

Earl Warrren hosts the Haunt and Harvest Festival on October 18-20, 4-11, 12-11, 12-10.

The Knox School is hosting a Spooktacular Hallow-STEAM evening Friday October 18 5:30-7:30.
The YMCA has a fall festival from 4-7 on Friday October 25 with a haunted house, train ride, rock wall, pumpkin decorating candy and prizes.

Mesa Fall Trunk or Treat at Santa Barbara City College Friday October 25 5-7pm Trunk or Treat, games and costume contest

MOXI Member event with costumes, experiments and trick/treats throughout Saturday 10/26 8:30-10.

The Montecito Country Mart has a Halloween Festival Saturday October 26 from 10-4.

St Andrew's Preschool is having a festival Saturday October 26 from 11-2. There are games, pony rides, bouncy slides, face painting, a magician and more!

Free Methodist Church of Santa Barbara has a fall festival Saturday October 26 11:30-2:30 with trunk or treat 12-1:30. There are also games, crafts, face painting and bounce houses.

There is a Thrills and Chills Dance event at the Sunken Gardens Saturday October 26 from 2-4.

Community Covenant Church of Goleta hosts a free fall festival Saturday October 26 from 4-6:30. There are jumphouses, hay rides, mazes and more!

Dia de Los Muertos craft event at Casa de la Guerra Sunday October 27 12-3.

Dia de los Muertos Family Day at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art Sunday October 27 1-4 FREE

Spooky Train and Haunted Depot at the South Coast Railroad Museum on Sunday October 27 4-7pm. It is free with trick or treating, the decorated depot and train rides.

Trick or Treat at Calle Real Shopping Center Thursday October 31 from 3-6pm

Trick or Treat in Downtown Santa Barbara Thursday October 31 from 3-6pm

Trick or Treat at La Cumbre Plaza Thursday October 31 from 4-6pm

Trunk or Treat at Anthem Chapel in Goleta Thursday October 31 from 5-7.

Franklin Fall Festival at Franklin School (Hosted by Calvary Chapel SB) Thursday October 31 from 3-6
Dia de los Muertos event at the Natural History Museum Thursday October 31 10-5 and Friday November 1 10-5. 

Restoration Church (Goleta Valley Church) is having Trunk or Treat on Thursday October 31 5-7pm with with games, prizes, trick or treating and more.

Dia de los Muertos event at Pershing Park Saturday November 2 11-4

**** These events happened in past years and I updated the dates, but am not sure if they are happening. I will update as I see more info and feel free to comment below. ****

** Trick or Treat On Milpas Ave Thursday October 31 from 2-5pm

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Quest 2019 Update

It's time for my yearly update of the summer quest! It was an ambitious goal to go to lots of museums. My kids (6 and 9 now) can go to museums and do well, but it was a once a week at most activity. We visited some and will continue to visit more, but I didn't go as many as I would have liked. Perhaps some day we will tackle have summer of the museums part 2.

It is always fun to have a goal and although this one was a bit ambitious, I am glad we got the more museums than we would have tried otherwise, but I would have loved more!

Main Museums
MOXI Museum of Exploration and Innovation
Old Mission Santa Barbara
Rancho La Patera & Stow House
Santa Barbara Carriage and Western Arts Museum
Santa Barbara Historical Museum (El Presidio)
Santa Barbara Maritime Museum
Santa Barbara Museum of Art
Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
Santa Barbara Sea Center
South Coast Railroad Museum

Lesser Known in Santa Barbara
Ablitt House
Bellosguardo Estate
Casa del Herrero
Casa Dolores
Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum
Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara
Reagan Ranch Center
Ridley Tree Museum of Art (Westmont College)
Santa Barbara Art Museum (UCSB)
Santa Barbara Surfing Museum
Santa Barbara Veterans Museum
Susan Quinlan's Doll & Teddy Bear Museum
UCSB Multicultural Center

Farther Away
Carpinteria Valley Museum of History
Elveroj Museum of History and Art
Guadelupe-Nipomo Dunes Center
Guadelupe Cultural Arts Center
La Purissima Mission
Neal Taylor Nature Center (Lake Cachuma)
Santa Maria Discovery Museum
Santa Maria Museum of Flight
Santa Maria Valley Historical Railway Museum
Wilding Art Museum

Monday, September 23, 2019

Summer 2019 Snapshot

Life Hack: Pool Bag
This summer we went to the pool and beach. A lot. I finally kept a swim bag packed all the time with the basics: suits, towels, hats, sunblock and packaged snacks. It was handy to just be able to grab it and go.

New Product I Love: Target Plates and Utensils
We recently we on a road trip and needed to buy supplies after flying there. These Target plates and utensils were so perfect we brought them home in our suitcases to put with our camping supplies.

Last Book I Finished: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens was an amazing read. Set in 1950's North Carolina, Kya is the Marsh Girl mostly self raised and occasionally interacting with the locals in the nearby town. Readers grow to love her tenacity and love of nature. When a suspicious death occurs in the marsh, the blame falls on Kya. The story is told jumping back and forth between the past and present as Kya is brought to trial. The story is engaging and the descriptions are beautifully painted. 5 stars.

Life Project: Summer of the Museums and launching a moms group for mothers of elementary aged kids called MOMSnext.

Monday, August 5, 2019


The MOXI, the Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation, is a new addition to the museums in Santa Barbara. Opening in early 2017, there has been fixed exhibits and some rotating spaces as well. The ground level has sounds exhibits

Favorites: interactive water area (5 year old), air machine that chutes yarn balls to a new location (8 year old), and Rube Goldberg machine (mom).

Hours: 10am-5pm Daily (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas eve and Christmas)
During COVID and Summer 2021 reservations are recommended.
Time: 1 hour- 90 minutes
Price: Adults $15 and kids $10
Membership: Family memberships start at $135
Parking: The public lot at the nearby train station has free parking for 75 minutes and $1.50 each hour thereafter.
Location: The museums is located on State St near the waterfront. (We take 101S to Garden St. Turn right on Garden St, then right on Yanonali St. Continue into the parking lot by the train station.)
More Info:
Nearby: East Beach, West Beach, Sea Center and Maritime Museum
Special Events: early member hours one Saturday a month, birthday parties, New Year's Eve celebration


Car Competition

Innovation Workshop

Rotating Exhibits

Rube Goldberg Machine

Sound and Waves

Monday, July 29, 2019

Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara

Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara is a small museum that runs 3 exhibits a year, each running for about 14 weeks. (The museum is not open in between exhibits.) We went during the recent "Quilts, Cigarettes and Dirt" exhibit by James Benning. The exhibits included boxes of soil, portraits and film. although the museum staff was friendly, this was not an exhibit that was kid friendly (but another exhibit might be). The next exhibition is ceramic vessels/craters by Brian Rochefort beginning August 1, 2019.

Favorites: Dirt in boxes showing soil from locations in Alabama (5 year old) and theater showing a film of the artists students' faces (8 year old).

Hours: Only open during exhibits. Wednesday - Saturday 11am-5pm, Sunday:Noon - 5 pm
Time: 15 minutes
Price: Everyone $5 (students are free with ID). Thursdays are free.
Membership: Starts at $45 (no family option)
Parking: The public garage associated with Paseo Nuevo has 75 minutes are free and the charge is $1.50 for each hour after.
Location: The museum is located on the second floor of the Paseo Nuevo mall above Eureka!
More Information:

Special Events: Some exhibits include an art lab that is kid friendly.

Louisiana Soil with location printed on the box

Portrait section of the exhibit

Entryway included a biography and description of the artist's work

Monday, July 22, 2019

Carpinteria Valley Museum of History

The Carpinteria Historical Museum is a quirky little museum worth some time if you are in the area.  Life sized prints of photos who were residents of Carpinteria are in the various scenes. There are various (eclectic) displays from the 1800s such as a school room, a tool shop, kitchen, bedroom and dining room. A pristine old car (driven by a creepy skeleton). There is also a display on the Chumash and early caballeros. A sweet docent toured us around and gave us the overview of each. The quilts are for sale and proceeds benefit the museum.

Favorites: the piano that can be played (5 year old), the Chumash (3rd grader) and life sized prints of citizens of Carpinteria (mom).

Hours: 1pm-4pm Tuesday-Saturday
Time: 1/2 hour to 45 minutes
Price: Free (donations accepted and quilts sold to benefit the museum)
Membership: N/A
Parking: There is a lot behind the museum where or street parking on Maple.
Location: Take the 101S to Lindon Ave. Turn right on Lindon, then left on Carpinteria Ave. The museum is located on Elm St (the second right) in the first block.
More Info:
Nearby: Carpinteria State Beach and Visitor Center, Monte Vista Park, Tomol Interpretive Playarea and El Carro Park

Special Events: Marketplace once per month

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Summer Concerts 2019

When you live in such a beautiful place, outdoor events are such a fun part of summer. There are free, outdoor concerts galore!

Chase Palm Parks has concerts in on Thursdays in July and August at 6pm. Remaining concerts are Pop Gun Run (July 18), Captain Cardiac and the Coronaries (July 25),  Lightnin' Willie and the Poor Boys (August 8), The Blue Breeze Band (August 15)

Elins Park Has Mesa Moves concerts once a month on Thursday in summer. Remaining concerts is Acre(s) (August 8).

The Goleta Community Center is alternating 6pm Wednesday concerts with movies nights. Remaining concerts are Out of the Blue (July 17), Cadillac Angels (July 31) and SoLuna (August 14) and Mezcal Martini (August 28).

The Stow House has Concerts in July on Tuesdays at 5:30. Remaining Concerts are The Molly Ringwald Project (July 23),  Tony Ybarra (July 30), King Bee (August 6), Cadillac Angels (August 13) and Unlisted (August 20)

Monday, July 15, 2019

Santa Barbara Sea Center

** Updated July 2021** The museum requires masks and is a one way only format, but is open regular hours!

The Sea Center is a fun, little museum on the wharf. The bottom floor has touch tanks with sea urchins, sea stars, sharks and sea slugs. There is a sea deck where a bucket is lowered into the ocean and children can sift through the contents to look at them under the microscope. Side exhibits include how a water shed works, shark development, and wave tank. The upstairs has a movie theater, dark room with jellies and other creatures, reading corner, whale exhibit, puppet theater and sustainable seafood exhibit (there is often another changing exhibit too). The museum is small but it is a fun hour especially if you have a museum membership.

Favorites: Puppet Theater (5 year old), dark room with jellies (8 year old) and touch tanks (all)

Hours: 10am-5pm daily except Thanksgiving Christmas and New Year's eve/day. 
Time: 45 minutes to 1 hour
Price: Adults $9/Kids $7
Membership: Start at $99 for a basic family membership (includes the Natural History Museum)
Parking: Park is free for 90 minutes on the wharf. It is $2.50 an hour after that.
Location: The museum is located on the Santa Barbra pier.
More Information:
Nearby: Maritime MuseumLos Baños Park and Pool,

Special Events: Free Sundays through the school year, World Ocean Day (June), Mermaid and Buccaneer Day (August)

Tunnel to "see in" the ocean

Touch Tank!

Touch Tank 2

Shark Development 

Wave Tank

Sifting through sea sludge



"Walking through" jellies

Whale Exhibit

Puppet Theater 

Sustainable Sea Food

Movie Theater