Thursday, April 23, 2015

HIKING: Tips for Family Friendly Switzer Falls


Last weekend, I was invited by some friends to check out a local hiking trail with their family.  I had never heard of Switzer Falls in San Gabriel Mountains but it sounded like fun.  

The first question I had to ask was how kid friendly was it?  I knew my kids liked hiking but 4.4 miles, round trip sounded a bit much.  I was assured that if the kids were up to the full distance, fine and if not, we could stop at the top of the falls.

My first impression of the drive to the parking lot was that it was only 1- 1/2 hours from Long Beach.  Since it is Angeles National Forest, you can be assured that the road is windy through the mountains.  BEWARE OF CAR SICKNESS!

If your kids get motion sickness at all, give them medicine or have them wear the bracelets.  My son on occasion gets car sickness and he got a bit queasy.

The Switzer Falls parking lot/road is well visible and you drive down to the day campsites.   Be aware, Adventure Passes are required which you can pickup at any Sport Chalet or other sporting goods store.  The lower lot fills up on the weekends and often you have to park in the upper spots.  If this is the case, drop the kids/cooler/adult off at the lower lot and walk down.

  

There is NO overnight camping however, many people brought coolers and tents to set up for the day.  There were plenty of BBQ's for a fun picnic.

After checking out backpacks for the essentials:

  • Water- we brought hydro-packs
  • Plenty of snacks
  • First Aid kits
  • Whistles(in case we got separated)
  • Sweat-shirt
  • Walking sticks
  • Toilet paper(there are bathrooms but some were out of paper)
  • Anti-bacterial soap
  • OPTIONAL- sandals.  My kids wanted to stick their feet in the water and it was hard with shoes and socks.
We were on our way.  

The hike is filled with wildlife and wonderful scenery.  You cross bridges, walk over streams, see caterpillars and butterflies and LOTS of lizards!  We even walked by a lot of blackberry bushes, although none were ripe.

     
  

BEWARE!!! There is A LOT of Poison Oak!  If you do not know what it looks like, here you go.  KEEP ON THE PATH!



We arrived at a fork.  If you took the high road, it leads you to the bottom of the falls.  The straight/left fork, you arrive at the top of the falls.  The kids were getting tired, we took the left route.


The top of the falls is a little rocky and leads to a small pool of water.  The kids needed help getting down to the pool because it is slippery and steep but doable.
We picnic'd at the falls and hiked back to the cars.


The hike took about 2 hours with our breaks and it was enjoyed by the whole family.  Our friends son had a blast becoming the "lizard whisperer" and caught several different lizards teaching us about each one.

   

We had a great time and I look forward to returning to see the bottom of the falls as well.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead with Imaginology! FREE Educational FUN! | @OCFair #YouthExpo #Rockets



IMAGINOLOGY is THIS weekend!  

What is IMAGINOLOGY?  It is three days of FREE, family fun and educational activities, exhibits and entertainment focused on S.T.E.A.M. curriculum (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics.) 

PLUS, gourmet food trucks, inflatable amusements, Bubble Rollers, free tractor rides and more.

S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) are getting lost in our kids school curriculum, help bring back the magic of learning with great educational events like this!

WHAT:

Imaginology at the OC Fair & Event Center
Free admission each day
$7 parking (Saturday & Sunday only)
WHEN:

Friday, April 24, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Saturday- Sunday, April 25-26, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
WHAT TO SEE:
  • Displays of competitive entries by local students on photography, recycling, fine arts, painting and more.
  • On-site Scarecrow and Sawhorse competitions for groups and families (Saturday and Sunday respectively).
  • Live children’s Academic Chess Tournament on Saturday.
  • Makeshops with hands-on activities for young children in lace making, soap carving, radish seed planting, and more.
  • Vital Link’s STEM and the Arts Career Showcase featuring various science and engineering interactive exhibits.
  • 4-H youth livestock competition with goats, rabbits and poultry.
  • Chick petting, tractor rides and live entertainment.
LEARN MORE:

Check out the last couple of years of fun!
WHERE:

OC Fair & Event Center (Follow signs to event)
88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa, Calif.
(714) 708-1500

Friday, April 17, 2015

PARTY IDEAS: Monster High Craft: Belts and Bracelets for Pennies


Has your daughter been bitten by the Monster High bug?  Mine has!  This new phase in my her childhood is one that I am still unsure of but seems pretty harmless and it seems to be growing on me.

Along with a new Monster High themed bedroom, my daughter has asked to make Monster High crafts.  I found printables online but she wanted more, a Monster High Birthday is in the works.

I got the idea for a cute craft while walking through the local 99 Cent store by my house.  As I browsed the aisles, I located 3 different Monster High duct tape patterns.  A few weeks before, our Cub Scout den made belts made of camouflage duct tape that glowed in the dark.  It literally cost pennies to make for all the boys.

If they can make belts, why can't we?  You can find all different patterns at Michaels, Jo-Anns and even your local Dollar Store.

  
WHAT YOU NEED:

  • Plain duct tape (we used silver but can be any)
  • Patterned duct tape of your choice(Monster High)
  • 2 key rings(per belt)
    • If you want to make bracelets purchase a small bit of sticky sided Velcro
STEP 1
  • Measure your child's waist with the plain duct tape and cut to length w

    ith 4 inch overlap
    • If you plan on making bracelets, add an additional 4 inches to cut off later per bracelet

STEP 2
  • Fold the duct tape in half length-wise.  This gives the belt sturdiness and thickness.
STEP 3
  • Lay the plain duct tape along the middle of the sticky side of your patterned duct tape and fold over the sides.  
    • You will have a stripe of silver along the middle.


STEP 4
  • If you measured long for the bracelet, cut the extra inches off and set it aside.
  • Take your key rings and run two inches loosely through the rings and fold onto itself.  
  • Use a strip of tape to secure the rings.



STEP 5
  • Turn the belt over so the stripe side is up and cover the last 3-4 inches of the striped end with the decorative tape.  
    • The reason for this is when you loop the belt through the rings and back out, the stripe side will be facing out.  
STEP 6
  • Fold 1 1/2 inches of decorative tape in half to loop around the belt to hold the extra belt length in a keeper and tape securely on the backside of the belt.
YOUR BELT IS COMPLETE

   
 
BRACELETS(and Headbands):
  • Take the extra belt length that you cut and add a male and female piece of Velcro on opposite end of the tape and it is complete. (You can also use strong glue to secure the Velcro additional to the sticky Velcro.

I don't recommend this craft for kids under 8 because the duct tape is STICKY!  

This craft would also make a great party favor for parents to do ahead of time.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

WIN a Birthday Party at the New Big Air OC in Buena Park! Now Open! | @BigAirOC #Giveaway #ad

Last week, Big Air OC opened a new location at the Buena Park Mall across from Knott's Berry Farm and we were invited to check it out.  What is Big Air OC?  The BEST workout you will ever experience!

ALSO,WIN a Big Air OC- Buena Park Birthday Party below.



Seriously.  Big Air OC is a trampoline park where you might bring your kids for a party but you will come back because you quickly realize, you burn calories while reclaiming your inner child.

I don't know about you but I used to LOVE jumping on trampolines!  As an adult, I was a little concerned about gravity.  I seem to fall more often than I used to.  LOL.

    
As my family enjoyed bouncing around with laughter, I decided to join them and discovered that it is a workout!  We only jumped for an hour but in that time, I am pretty sure I burned 1000 calories have a great time.

The new facility, located inside the Buena Park Mall, houses a wide array of activities that keeps your family busy and active.  Here, my kids took advantage of the fencing on the Battle Beam.  Even my husband and I got involved!



Do you remember dodge ball?  There are several courts designated for  games of all ages.  Look out though, the kids throw hard!  Hubby and I got in a few fun hits though.


  

Have you ever wanted to slam dunk a ball?  The trampoline basketball courts makes even us oldies make baskets.  I have to say, the kids did better than us though.

There were many different trampolines and it never seemed to crowded.  My daughter loved the foam pits and kept asking to go back.



What was my favorite area?  The bucking bull.  Yes, the bull.  Challenge your friends to see who can stay on the longest.  Don't worry, there is foam all around and under the mats to keep you and your kids safe.



So, the time was up and we had worked up a HUGE appetite.  What to do?  Look no further than the lobby where you can purchase pizza, drinks and other snacks for a reasonable price.



You can bet I will be returning soon because not only did my kids have a great time, I found a fun new way of burning calories that doesn't involve a machine.

I have a HUGE giveaway for you!  

How about a FREE Birthday Bounce Party for 10 jumpers($200 value)? 

What the GIVEAWAY includes:

  • 1 hour of trampoline time for 10 guests
  • 40 minutes of party time in party area
  • 2 slices of pizza and soft drinks for 10 guests
  • A dedicated party host

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For more information about their birthday parties, check them out at http://www.bigairusa.com/buenapark/birthdays 

BIG AIR OC- BUENA PARK

8308 On The Mall, Buena Park, CA 90620
844-550-JUMP

Monday – Thursday: 3:00-9:00PM Friday: 3:00PM – 11:00PM Saturday: 10:00AM – 11:00PM Sunday: 10:00AM – 8:00PM 


DISCLAIMER:  I received admission to Big Air OC to share my experiences.  All thoughts and ideas are my own.  Do not use any photos without permission.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Top 50 Skate Parks in Los Angeles County, Perfect for Building Confidence in Kids


With Spring here, we have been re-discovering our outdoor activities and trying new things. My son for years has watched the older kids at the El Dorado Skate park perform tricks and skills. This last month, he decided to give it a try on his scooter.

First things first, SAFETY!

Before I allowed him on the ramps, I made sure to check off the following list.
  • Knee pads and elbow pads(we used hockey pads)
  • Well fitting helmet
  • A scooter or skateboard
    • check to make sure the wheels run smooth and straight
  • Well lit not overly crowded area with adult supervision
I saw my son go through different stages in the hour he was at the park. From unsure and curious to confidence and building skills. I even saw some of the older kids cheering him on which made him smile and try harder.


My daughter didn't care to go onto the ramps but found fun riding her scooter on the flat paths outside the park. Maybe in a couple years she will give it a try.

I always thought that kids skateboarding/scootering was a great confidence building fun activity. Now that I see my almost 8 year old son having so much fun, I would like to recommend it to other kids and parents.

Looking for a skate park near you in Los Angeles County?

Here is a list of local parks:

LOS ANGELES COUNTY
Alondra Park Skatepark3353 Redondo Beach Blvd.
Lawndale, California, 90249
Arcadia Skatepark
207 Bonita St.
Arcadia, California, 91006

Avalon Skatepark 
Catalina Island, California, 90704

Avocado Heights Skatepark553 S. 4th Ave.
Avocado Heights, California, 91746

Azusa Skatepark320 N. Orange Avenue
Azusa, California, United States, 91702

Baldwin Park Skatepark15010 Badillo St
Baldwin Park, California, 91706

Bassett Park Skatepark510 Vineland Avenue
La Puente, California,91746

Bell Gardens Skatepark6635 Florence Place
Bell Gardens, California, 90201

Bellflower Caruthers Skatepark10500 Flora Vista St.
Bellflower, California,  90706

Belvedere SkateparkBelvedere Skate Park
214 N Mednik Ave
Los Angeles, California, 90022

Boyle Heights Hollenbeck Skate PlazaSouth Saint Louis St.
Los Angeles, California, 90033

Burbank Skatepark
1625 N Valley Street
Burbank, California, 91601

Burbank Skatepark22400 Moneta Ave.
Carson, California, 90745

Cerritos Skatepark19900 Bloomfield Ave
Cerritos, California, 90703

Channel St. Skatepark San Pedro610 West Channel Street
San Pedro, California, 90731

Claremont Skatepark1717 N Indian Hill Blvd
Claremont, California, 91711

Compton Skatepark123 N. Rose Ave.
Compton, California, 90221

Culver City Skatepark9678-9766 Jefferson Blvd
Culver City, California, 90232

Downey Skatepark12334 Bellflower Blvd.Downey, California,  90242

Duarte Skatepark1401 Central Ave.
Duarte, California, 91010

El Segundo Skatepark325 East Grand Avenue
El Segundo, California, 90245

Encino Pedlow Skatepark
17334 Victory Boulevard
Encino, California, 91406

Gardena Arthur Lee Johnson Memorial Park Street Plaza
Johnson Park Skate Plaza
Gardena, California, 90247

Glendale Skatepark1621 Canada Blvd
Glendale, California, 91208

Glendora Skatepark160 N. Wabash Ave.
Glendora, California, 91741

Hawthorne SkateparkLarry Guidi Skate ParkHawthorne, California, United States, 90250

Hermosa Beach Skatepark710 Pier AvenueHermosa Beach, California, United States, 90254

Huntington Park SkateparkSalt Lake ParkHuntington Park, California, United States, 90255

Irwindale Skatepark
Salt Lake Park
Huntington Park, California, United States, 90255


Long Beach El Dorado Skatepark2760 North Studebaker Road
Long Beach, California, United States, 90815

Long Beach Houghton SkateparkHoughton Skate Park
Long Beach, California, United States, 90805

Long Beach McBride Skate Plaza1550 Martin Luther King Junior Avenue
Long Beach, California, United States, 90813

Long Beach Orizaba Skate Spot1435 Orizaba Ave.
Long Beach, California, United States, 90804

Long Beach Silverado Skatepark1545 W 31st St
Long Beach, California, United States, 90810

Los Angeles Garvanza Skatepark6240 Meridian Street
Los Angeles, California, United States, 90042

Los Angeles Lincoln Park Skate plazaLincoln Park Skatepark
Los Angeles, California, United States, 90031

Lynwood Skatepark11330 Bullis Road
Los Angeles, California, United States, 90262

Monrovia Skatepark843 East Olive Avenue
Monrovia, California, United States, 91016

Montebello SkateparkMontebello City Park
1300 W. Whittier Blvd
Montebello, California, United States, 90640

Norwalk SkateparkNorwalk Park
California, United States, 90650

Palmdale Skatepark Chris O'Leary ParkDomenic Massari Park
37716 55th Street
Palmdale, California, United States, 93552

Palmdale Skatepark WestMarie Kerr Park
Palmdale, California, United States, 93551

Paramount SkateparkVillage Skatepark
7718 Somerset BoulevardParamount, California, United States, 90723

Pomona SkateparkPalomares Park
499 Arrow Hwy
Pomona, California, United States, 91767

Rowley Park Street Plaza GardenaRowley Park Skate Plaza
13220 South Van Ness Avenue
Gardena, California, United States, 90249

San Dimas SkateparkPioneer Park
225 South Cataract Avenue
San Dimas, California, United States, 91773

Santa Clarita SkateparkCity of Santa Clarita Skatepark
Santa Clarita, California, United States, 91350

Santa Monica Skatepark The CoveThe Cove Skatepark
Santa Monica, California, United States, 90404

South Gate Skatepark9520 Hildreth Avenue
South Gate, California, United States, 90280

Venice Beach Skatepark123 Venice Beach
Los Angeles, California, United States, 90291

West Covina Skatepark
1615 West Merced Avenue
West Covina, California, United States, 91790

Whittier Skatepark7630 Washington Ave
Whittier, California, United States, 90602

DISCLAIMER:  Skate parks can be dangerous and even with complete protection, accidents can occur.  Always wear protective gear and be aware of your surroundings at parks.