Before you enter California’s beautiful Sequoia National Park, there is a lost historic town that has little left of it. In the beautiful Kaweah Mountains, lays the remains to a lost utopia.
Rainy day idea or just because …
We took the kids to my favorite museum in San Jose. It’s hands on and educational but you would never guess it by the kids laughing the whole day. I think its safe to say, we have a new favorite spot to visit!
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Often I make our fireplace mantle change for the season or holiday but I never blog about it. I’m going to change that and start sharing my mantle creations on here maybe to inspire others or if nothing else to share the fun I have creating my mantle master pieces.
The school year is approaching fast and before the holiday’s catch up with us I wanted to pump up the kids for the new school year. We now have a middle schooler and a kinder kid in the house and those are two big transformations that they will have to get use to.
I went to Michaels to get loom for the crayon wreath, I needed two different size embroidery hoops that I hot glued together (the top thick wood parts with the screws) and bought two packs of 120 crayola crayons to ensure I had enough crayons for the wreath. At my discretion I spaced them out in the correct color spectrum. I ended up only getting to red, orange, yellow and green not even using blue, indigo or violet.
Originally I had planned to add cute cut outs with my Cricut machine, but once the wreath was done I loved it the way it was.
I had an idea of how I wanted the mantle to turn out, I just needed to find a few accessories at the stores if I could. To my surprise I didn’t find what I needed at Michaels, and now that I think about it I might have been too early in the season for back to school supplies who knows. Next door I made a Target run and “glanced” in the dollar aisle (its my weakness), to my absolute surprise and utter joy Target had a few great back to school decorating items. I’m sure I looked like a kid in a candy store with a million dollars to spend. Each find made me happier than the next. My at home ideas went out the door and my cart was full of new ideas.
The kids and I grabbed a world map and I used this as an opportunity to illustrate the path that their Dad traveled while he was in the Navy on his deployments.
The glass jars were filled with stamps and scissors and the book ends held some children books, while on the other end an apple chalk board counts the days until school starts.
And last but not least the garland has a positive message for the kids to read daily and absorb before the school year begins.
After last year’s My Little Pony’s themed birthday I was pooped. I decided next year I would love to take Emery to Disneyland for her birthday and take a mental break from planning an elaborate birthday. Still, it took months of planning, saving and sleepless nights staying up searching for just the right pins for our lanyard collection.
Everyday Emery would ask, “Can we go to Disneyland” and I would respond with, “Emery, it’s far away and expensive“. Secretly I wanted to shout, “YES! Let’s go!” and I really wanted to talk to her about the trip for a whole year. The only kid that knew was Carlos and he knew not to say a word. My secret was safe with a 2 year old who couldn’t form sentences (at the time, he’s on his way now).
May 15th we went to Los Angeles and visited Victor’s family and of course Emery says, “Mom, since we are in L.A. can we go to Disneyland?” Victor and I looked at each other with a grin and said, “Sorry we can’t” but we wanted to say, “YES TOMORROW!!” The next morning we woke up at 7 a.m. and Em was not having it. Eventually she put on her Princess Anna dress because “we wanted to show Mami Chela her birthday outfit (wink wink)”. We told the kids it was too early to go to grandma’s so we were going to drive around and only see Disneyland (we had to say that much because the GPS said we were going to the Disneyland parking garage). Once we got there we broke the news and Emery was as usual less enthused as I thought she would be and her older brother Vic was overaly excited. It was Vic’s first time at the park’s, Emery assured him he would have a great time. TIP: You can bring your own water and snacks into the park. Just have your bags and stroller ready to be checked before entering downtown Disney.
We went the week before Disneyland was having their 60th anniversary celebration so we saw all the new decorations and Kelly & Michael filming in the plaza.
Right away we saw characters taking pictures. I was so excited, last time we went we didn’t see any out. We jumped in line right away and took photos with Pluto my favorite. Next we ran in line and took pictures with Mickey Mouse! We were the last ones to take photos with him and right away things felt magical.
First ride we went on was Emery’s favorite, Star Tours! Carlos was too short to ride so I was handed a rider swap pass. TIP: If you stay behind with a younger child have the adult ask for a ride swap pass immediately after getting off the ride.
Something Extra: A fun game to play while in line or walking around Disneyland park, the Resort or even while watching the Disney movies is trying to find the hidden mickey’s. A hidden mickey is the traditional shape of our favorite guy Mickey Mouse in the decorations and architecture. If you really want to get into the scavenger hunt you can print out this list and have your luck with it!
While we waited for the older kids and dad to get off the ride we caught a show in front of the castle
We met up with the family after the ride and went our separate ways again. It was easier for me to take the two little kids on little ride and see characters and have the boys go ride other rides. We ran to see Tinker Bell in her home and I was so happy because I have never seen her and her house is easily overlooked. While waiting in line Emery and Carlos made friends with a little girl. The woman and I started talking and it turned out both the girls were celebrating their birthday’s early, Emery and Elle both shared their birthday’s on the same day!
Emery wanted to go through Sleeping Beauty’s castle and Dad met up with us. As soon as we walked out the band came out and Emery and dad started dancing around to Sleeping Beauty’s, Once Upon A Time. After the band and audience clapped for Emery dancing with mom and dad.
Dad came with us to see a few more Princess’ but mommy left the signature book behind (guess we’ll just have to go back soon). TIP: Remember to have your book and pen ready while you wait next in line. You can also pick up an autograph book at the Dollar Store to save some money.
At night the park was crowded and we got a little anxious but we regrouped and went on the Jungle Cruise. The kids loved it, its also a favorite for us because the tour guides always tell jokes. TIP: At the end of the ride you can ask the guide for a map of the cruise. Beware you may have to tell a joke to get one!
Around 11 o’clock the park starts to die down and it’s the best time to run to all of the rides you can’t really get to during the day. First we went on It’s A Small World and then separated again.
At the end of the night I realized the whole day guess in the park had big pins. TIP: I didn’t realize until closing that if you go into any store and ask you can get a pins, Anniversary pin, Wedding pin, First visit and a Happy birthday pin. We got Emery a Happy Birthday pin and in Disneyland when a Disney cast member sees the pin they say, “happy birthday or happy birthday Emery”. Victor got “my first visit” and Carlos had to have one so he got an, “I’m celebrating”. I wish I would have asked earlier about the pins!
I took the kids on an Alice In Wonderland ride and then on Pirates Of The Caribbean (it was closed off and on all day and night). The kids and I got on a boat by ourselves and enjoyed one last ride in the park. I would think Carlos and Emery would be scared of that ride because of the drops and craziness going on, but they’ve never had a problem with any part of it.
FACT: Legend has it that while the ride was still under construction, Imagineers were displeased with the false skeletons placed about the ride. They didn’t look authentic enough. The solution was simple: to use real human bones. The UCLA medical school provided cadaver skeletons to Disneyland, which were positioned in the classic poses we see today. A pair playing chess, one atop a mountain of gold coins, a dead captain with a sabre in his ribs… While this may seem grotesque, they remained for quite some time.
Although the skeleton in bed looking through a magnifying glass is no longer the remains of a deceased man, the bones on the headboard behind him are. That is a genuine skull and crossbones, and it is not known why they chose to leave it there. Love it or hate it, it certainly is a spooky Easter egg that will hopefully remind patrons of the ride’s eerie history for ages to come.
Day two California Adventure
The next day was park number two at California Adventure across the way. First Character we saw was Oswald, we did a little research on him afterwards (nerd alert) because we didn’t really know who he was. Right away we met up with a group of friends that were at the Disneyland parks at the same time. I love to go to the park with a group of people, it’s so much easier with kids and being able to switch on and off the rides. TIP: Download the app Disneyland Wait Times to see wait times on all attractions to Disneyland Park and California Adventures.
All the main Disney characters in C.A. are dressed as artist or in sailor attire.
& while I rode California Screamin’ with Michelle the kids got in line and took photos with Donald duck. Carlos loved him and just as we walked up they were done and Carlos waved goodbye and blew kisses.
We got Fast Passes (the only way to see the Frozen girls). While we waited the kids watched artist drawings of some memorable movies on the screen.
The kid’s met Queen Elsa and Princess’ Anna. Carlos’ was super excited to see the them, but too shy to take a photo with them.
The girls were inseparable and rode rides together like big girls. Chloe was celebrating her June birthday a few weeks earlier too. It melted my heart seeing the girls hang out and ride the rides together while the moms hanged out in the back. She’s growing her big girl independence.
After a long day of walking around we were all beat! The girls needed to relax with a snack and the younger boys fell asleep.
Thank you for the memories Disneyland, once again we were not disapointed. My favorite memories were of Carlos blowing Donald kissies, everyone wishing Emery a happy birthday and Emery says her favorite part was the Ariel ride in California Adventures.
Happy pre birthday Emery! Mom and Dad love you with all of our hearts, we hope you had fun and were surprised.
In mid February we took a day trip to San Francisco to visit the city and The California Academy of Science. Growing up in the bay area, I was able to visit this museum and many more on school field trips and day trips with my Dad. I want to take the children to all the amazing sites I was able to go to in my life. Any time Victor and I are in the city, whether its down south in Los Angeles or up north in San Francisco we try to set aside a day to take the kids some where they have never been and to a explore things that we don’t have where we live in the central valley.
The last time I went to the San Francisco Academy of Science was in the mid 90’s. Since then the museum had gone through a $488 million dollar renovation in the Golden Gate Park.
It was like an all new adventure for Victor and I. The museum was completely different from anything I remembered growing up. Immediately to the right is a 90′ spiral dome with a living rainforest. walking in it you feel the humidity while thousands of butterflies and free flying birds are fluttering around.
Below you can take an elevator down to the flooded Amazon and walk through a 25′ tunnel with the rainforest above. The kids loved watching the fish all around them and I loved watching their reaction.
We saw taxidermy animals in their natural habitat
The museum also had a huge coral reef aquarium that offered a show with a reef diver. While we didn’t watch the show, we weren’t disappointed at all of the other things there were to take part in.
One of my favorite things doing at the museum when I was a kid, was going on the
earthquake simulator. California is known for earthquakes, but (knock on wood) we really don’t get them as often as people may think. In 1906 San Francisco was hit with a 7.8 earthquake. Any time anyone brings up earthquakes this is the one that al earthquakes are based on. The quake resulted in 3,000 deaths and $524 million dollars in property loss and lasted 1 minute. The city burned for 3 days and destroyed 500 city blocks.
Another major earthquake to hit California was the 1989 Loma Prieta that lasted 15 seconds at a 6.9 on the seismic scale.. This resulted in 60 deaths and wide spread damage. I was nearly 5 years old and it was my first earthquake. It hit in Santa Cruz, 60 miles from San Francisco and was felt in San Jose where I lived. It felt like it lasted much longer than 15 seconds as my mom and I hid under the large dining room table.
Now that I caught you up on a mini earthquake lesson you can only imagine emotion of going through the simulator and having semi experience each earthquake all over again. Instead of having posters to read and standing on a platform that shakes, the new updated version takes you into a planetarium like room to explain how an earthquake works. After you moved into the self proclaimed infamous Shake House. Hold on to the rail because you will first experience a touch of the1906 quake. The simulator doesn’t last as long as the actual quake did nor can it move up and down like the real one, only side to side. Second up is the 1989 Loma Prieta and as I’m writing just realized how historic it was that 26 years later my daughter was nearly the same age I was experiencing that earthquake. While she’s never been awake to experience an earth (we’ve had ones while we both have slept) Emery thought it was a fun little ride. A much different reaction I experience living it.
(video in my Instagram GypsyWidow 13 weeks ago from this date)
There was so much to do at the museum but we ran out of time and I didn’t want to run our of daylight before visiting the iconic Golden Gate bridge.
With the mad driving skills of Valerie we made it to Crissy Field at sunset. A little fact that all mothers learn quickly is be prepared with extra everything. I know this unspoken rule, I’m pretty good with it and I know San Francisco is freezing at night. Did I pack warm clothes? DUH. Did I bring them? No I did not. What I failed to mention peed his shorts on the way to S.F. It has never has never happened before but now that we were out I couldn’t have him wet and in shorts. As luck would have it this conductor pants were in the trunk from the day before, and it all worked out.
We got some great shots of the kids enjoying themselves
some of me and the husby
I’ve always wanted to go to this part of San Fransisco and take pictures with the bridge in the background. I’m so happy that we made it just in time!
It was Emery and Carlos’ first time in the city so we went down to the peir to grab sone authentic San Fransisco food at Boudin.
The highlight of my night turned out to not to be those bridge picures i’ve wanted for years but forgetting Emery has no idea about street entertainers and watching what she thought was a statue come life after putting a dollar in the can. She turned around so fast as soon as he began speaking. The man was nice enough to offer a picture of them two together. The bridge pictures I love but the street performer made a lasting memorie for me.
CHUGGA CHUGGA CHOO CHOO
The Calderon’s take over The California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento (again). While visiting family and Nina Valerie in Sacramento we had to stop by the California State Railroad Museum in “Old” Sacramento. Emery went when she was two and Carlos is the same age and hasn’t gone yet. Carlos loves trains. He has a growing collection of Thomas the Train movies, toy trains and train apparel.
I dressed him up in his little train conductor overalls, red bandana and conductor hat. He fit right in with all the huge trains and the train stewards. We didn’t bother reading many of the facts this time around, we were strictly there to get on some trains and interact with all we could.
When you first walk into the beginning of the tour its set-up to explain who worked on the trains and what the time line of the construction. There’s a mock train station booth and cars you can peer inside.
Theres a Canadian National Sleeper train in the back of the museum that gives the feeling of movement with sounds as if the train is passing by railroad crossings when you’re in it. Carlos went on it 5 times each with a new chaperon.
The building has so many trains inside of it, it’s amazing to walk around all of them. Some trains you can look inside, some you can walk in and there’s a big black train that you can sit in the engineer’s seat.
Up stairs has toy trains to play with and a professional set up behind glass. It was probably my fourth time going and I still enjoyed walking around and exploring.
In April the Museum begins to offer train rides along the river. We weren’t able to ride it because it wasn’t open yet, but we’ll be back! If you make the trip to The Railroad Museum hang around “old Sac” where the museum is located and check out all the other buildings and the history of the area. It’s very cool to see older buildings and horses right in the middle of the states capitol.
My youngest baby turned one!
My oldest turned four!
We visited the beach
We drove to the mountains
The kids were asked to be part of a possible ad campaign
We surprised Great Grandparents in San Jose
Mommy got to introduce us to some of her San Jose friends from high school finally
We visited The La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles
Our first time at the Los Angeles Zoo!
We visited Great Grandma Mami Chela in Los Angeles for her birthday
We visited the Natural History Museum for the first time and we loved it!
We went to Apple Hill to get one or two pumpkins
Took our yearly Family photo
Took the kids to the state capitol
Visited Great Grandma Mary . . .
Grandpa Max …
And Grandma Andrea while we were in Sacramento!
Celebrated Halloween and mommy slaved over making Carlos’ Mad Hatter outfit and his hat
We hosted Thanksgiving at our house this year
And celebrated Christmas at Great Grandma & Papa Joe’s house
It was a busy year with trips to our local zoo and park in between. This is Emery’s last year spending all day with us before school and we’re trying to make it extra fun for her.
2014 was a good year for us, we had our usual ups and downs that come with life but this mommy can’t complain! Everyone is healthy and our loved ones are with us. I’m happy to share my adventures of parenting these two little ones and document our travels around the Golden State of California. A big thank you to all of my readers out there! I wouldn’t be doing these if I didn’t have the support I do.
Hope everyone has a healthy, happy, joyful and blessed new year
We waited months for our family vacation, our yearly trip to Apple Hill Ca. This was Carlos’ first time and I was so excited to get all the pumpkins my little hands could grab. The months leading up to the trip, Emery would freak out in the car about her back itching. A 5 minute car ride to Target was a struggle. She would squirm around, freak out, complain, wail and the cherry on top – she would kick the seat behind me. I probably looked like I was having a demon fighting within me, going forward and back violently in the car with an angry face. So many warnings were given about her being good because Grandpa’s house is much farther than Target.
I packed all of the “best of’s” to avoid any problems. I had 3 hours to keep her occupied and one, one year old. Carlos fell asleep right on schedule but woke up pretty early and did good the rest of the way. Emery surprisingly did amazing (shout out time). She had her tablet, a few snacks and she was an angel. I don’t get to say that much often anymore so I’ll say it again, Emery was an angel.
DAY 1. Thursday –
We stayed at Carlos’ Nina’s parents house in Elk Grove. I hadn’t been to the area in two years, being able to relax for half a day was great and reconnect.
DAY 2. Friday –
Val (Carlos’ Nina) took us out to eat breakfast, on the way Emery got sick. It was a 10 minute drive (with out traffic) and from that little time she got a fever. How this happened I don’t know, but luckily Super Mom packed meds, a thermometer and a first aid kit just in case (toot toot, that’s me tooting my horn).
We hit up a local hipster coffee spot in midtown and then off to my Dad’s house.
Carlos met his great Grandma Mary for the first time and really embraced everyone instead of being shy and off standing.
At night Victor, Valerie and I went out to Capitol Tap Room to have some brews and celebrate our 7 years of being together. It was our first time being away from the kids, doing something more than a nice fast dinner. Luckily, my family was able and willing to watch the kids. I felt like, “ah, this is what adult time feels like”.
DAY 3. Saturday –
Apple Hill!! Valerie came with us, it was her first time and we enjoyed her company. She was our official photographer for our yearly family photo.
Emery found her own pumpkin this year and she was really proud of herself.
Carlos fell every opportunity he could in the patch. The red dirt was all over his chest and back. It was pretty funny because he would fall on the floor and dust himself off not caring at all.
I planned to grab a ton of pumpkins while we were there and I think we succeeded, we walked away with 13 awesome and different ones.
After a long day of walking around and trying different ciders we headed back to my dad’s, where my step mom made a pre-thanksgiving dinner. Perfect for a hunger crew!
DAY 4. Sunday –
We took the kids to The State Capitol to check it out because, when in Rome. Emery was learning her state capitals a few months ago so she knew Sacramento was the state’s capital, now she was able to see it up close. We went inside, something Victor and I hadn’t done before. Val was our tour guide leading the way to all the rooms available for visitors. We got to see the assembly room, where all the decisions are made. We found a gift shop and picked up two new California children’s books and a magnet for our trip!
At the end of this day I think Victor and I both looked at each other and decided we needed one more day in the city.
DAY 5. Monday –
BONUS DAY!!! Also uuber sad day because this was the day we had to leave. We sad goodbye to great grandma Mary and snuck in a few photos. We had lunch with Nina Val one last time. And let me say this, one of my favorite things about the trip was the last meal at The Sandwich Spot. OHMYGAWD so good. so good.
We said our goodbyes and I stressed all over about the 3 hour road trip home. Emery had to pee 40 minutes into it (how I don’t know because she went before we left), Carlos woke up right away and I was dreading the hours of crying. Luckily everything went smooth and we plan to be back again sooner than later.
Valerie, has a YouTube channel – Valsays and vlogged our trip. So forget everything you just read and watch mini clips of it below.
It’s been awhile since I wrote about things, not because I forgot to, but because I didn’t think there was much to expand on. Then I started thinking about all the little things that have been going on. This is that update.
On a whim we took a day trip to the beach. In the hot valley heat with two toddlers in the house, things can get crazy and very mundane everyday. On a saturday afternoon we decided to pack up what we could and leave the house! Carlos fell asleep in the car and Emery watched some cartoons on her tablet. By the time baby woke up we were at Moon Stone beach in Cambria! It’s our favorite spot that we found when we went on our baby moon a few years back. Now Carlos was here to join us and that was pretty cool to me. It was Carlos’ second time being at the beach, and at first the Pacific water freaked him out. It was a mixture of the rush to his feet and the draw back that had him sinking into the sand. After awhile he enjoyed it and didn’t mind the cold kissing his feet. We were lucky to find so many starfish washed up on the beach. Is that a lucky thing? Kind of for us, and not really I guess for the starfish. We picked them up and put them back into the water. During this time my phone was going hay-wire and would turn off all the time. Sadly, no pictures of the starfish were taken and trust me, I tried angrily a few times. I counted about 17 starfish that had washed up all along the beach. It was the most I have ever found in my life!!
The night was starting to creep up on us we headed home from the cool coast back to the hot heat of the night.
Just the opposite way of the beach, we are blessed with The Sequoia National Park. It was Carlos’ first time going to the Sequoias and I was pleasantly surprised on our spur of the moment road trip. I thought we were making a Costco trip until we kept on going straight on the freeway.
We drove about 2 hours to get to The Giant Forest. By this time Carlos had enough of sitting in the car; he had napped, woke up gotten out of the car for a photo-op and was in the car for 40 minutes more. I’m not sure about anyone else, but with my kids a long car ride and getting out for a second and getting back in doesn’t ever end up well. He cried the whole rest of the way and I sat in the front seat wishing I was at Costco trying some free samples and googling over the chocolate muffins I always talk myself out of.
We took a picture with a giant redwood known as Sentinel and checked out The Giant Forest Museum. We picked up our Sequoia National Park magnet with a bonus 50 years of celebration on it (score!). We partially walked up, Bear Trail … yes, partially because 2 little kids going 4 miles on a trail is pushing it. Since the moment we got out of our car we heard many people say they had seen bears, even on the trail we went on. I wanted to see something! I kept telling Emery to keep her eyes peeled for anything!
We crossed over to another trail that looped around a meadow. Of course a mother is telling her husband as we passed, how she and the kids saw bears right in the middle of the meadow. Really? We missed it again! We started the walk and we were nearly back at the beginning of the trail when all of a sudden, in a blaze of glory and sun glare there it was! Without even realizing the words I was saying I screamed, “BEAR!!!”. Victor and the kids stopped and we watched him walk off up the ridge. Other hikers didn’t even see the bear above them, which was pretty scary. We continued our walk and we headed to the parking lot to head back home, when lo and behold, bear was there eating some berries right under the path we had to cross. We all scooted back and bear (yeah, I named him Bear) crossed the street and took a path right behind the Museum where we started. Eventually other hikers saw him and we were pretty satisfied with out nature encounter and headed home.
Twilight was falling and we started home, the kids finally calmed down and I zoned out looking out the window dreaming of dinner. All of a sudden Vic yells out, “TARANTULA!!” (there was a lot of spontaneous yelling on this trip) and the car veered to the right into a parking lot and some pictures were taken. Apparently mating season was two weeks before. Back in the car, just out of the park, now in the dark we saw a deer crossing the road. This trip was a success!