How To Forgo Summer Camp & Save MoneyWhy send your kids to summer camp this year?  You can save so much more money by creating your own summer camp and spend that much needed time with your kiddos this summer!

By doing a bit of research, you can keep your summer spending to a minimum and still be able to enjoy all that your city has to offer.  I usually make a list of my kids favorite places and start there. 

Free Movies Days

Well, when my kids we’re much smaller, summer camp movies were free.  Now, depending on the theater you go to, it can be anywhere from $1-$4.  Either way, it’s still much cheaper than a full price ticket.

Living in sunny Southern California, I usually opt for Regal Cinemas or AMC Theatres.  Both offer summer camp movies 2 days a week and if you click on the links above, you can find theaters near you with a list of movies playing all summer.  Granted, these movies are NOT new movies, but escaping the heat, soaking in the air conditioning, and letting the big screen entertain your kids for a while, more than makes up for it.

Free Museum Days

If you’re like me and like to add a little culture and some learning to your outings, free museum days are a great deal.  Whether it’s checking out dinosaur bones or gazing at the stars, you’re sure to find something that will keep them entertained for hours and tire them out just enough to let you enjoy the day as well.  Some of the museums on this link are always free, some have certain days of the month available, and some are just by donations.  Rest assured, that if museums are on your list, you’ll find one right up your alley and with just a little bit of planning, it’ll make the kids happy as well.

Free Park Days

I know I already mentioned movies.  However, for a much more fun outing, pack a snack, bring your camping chairs, and catch a movie under the stars.  Most communities have local parks that plan both movies in the park or if you feel like dancing under the stars, music in the park.  Both of these fun outings beat the heat by being night time events and tons of family fun.  Best part about these, they’re free!

However, if you want some fun Adult time of the same variety, check out the Rooftop Cinema Club.  This specific one is local to L.A., but I’m sure most big cities have something similar.  How fun is watching movies outdoors, under the stars, surrounded by the glowing lights of the city!?!

Or maybe you’d like something a little more adventurous and want to watch movies surrounded by dead people.  For those thrill seekers, Cinespa shows movies in two locations, the famous Hollywood Forever Cemetery or historic movie palaces around L.A..

Whether you choose the rooftop, cemetery, or palace, expect to pay for much more than just the movie, but with an experience like that, why not?

Free Beach Days

Most beaches in southern California have some type of parking fee, but usually it’s minimal.  However, a couple bucks to soak in some rays, getting wet, and tiring out the kids is more that worth it.  Don’t let parking fees keep you away, there are so many beaches in California, it’s not hard to find free parking either. 

Don’t want to melt in the sun?  How about the beach at night?  That’s right, it’s the time of year that the grunion run.   Don’t worry, you don’t have to run after fish on the beach, they come to you.  If you’re not interested in getting fishy, let the kids do it, or just let it be a learning experience.  Trust me, the kids will love it and you’ll love doing something free, under the stars, spending time with the kids, while they run around ‘til their little hearts are content.

Catch a local Ball Game

I’m lucky enough to live in an area with two Baseball teams, so I have my choice to choose from.  To get the best bang for my buck, I go with companies like seatgeek.com or cheaptickets.com.  I can get Dodger or Angels tickets starting at $5 each!  Which means, for my family of 4, I can catch a local ball game for $20, plus parking.  Granted, you’re not allowed to take your own snacks in, but you can have a large dinner before the game, tailgate, or spurge at any one of the food booths they have to offer.  Usually, this is the only family outing we spend a little bit more on during the summer.  But considering I’m saving so much money on everything else, it’s worth catching a game or two this summer.

So there you go, with a little bit of planning, a packed lunch, and some sunscreen, your kids will love the summer camp you have custom built for them, much more than those other ones.  Have fun!

-Sandra

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please leave nothing but your feetprint

What do you do when spring break comes around and haven’t planned/saved for a vacation!?! You enjoy a staycation!

Growing up, vacation wasn’t a word I was familiar with. We usually visited family a couple of hours away, but that was the extent of our outings. Dad and Mom worked non-stop and it just wasn’t feasible to plan for a vacation for a family of 6, not to mention, we really did love being home. Southern California has so much to offer, so much so, that people plan their vacations to come here, to our backyard.

Needless to say, our kids get the best of both worlds. Between a yearly camping trip in Yosemite, one of the most famous National Parks in the U.S. and an “away” vacation every other year, our travel calendars are quite full. But I have to admit, having staycations with our kids are the best.

For indoor adventures, we can visit local historical sites, missions, museums, and more. And for outdoor fun, the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains are practically in our backyard where we have access for a quick hike and/or picnic in the forest. But by far, one of the best things about Southern California is that from just about anywhere, you can essentially visit the city, mountains, beaches, or desert within less than an hours drive. So planning a few of our favorite activities for this spring break is pretty easy.

Amusement Parks

Although the cost of living in So Cal is pretty high, exploring the sights doesn’t have to be. About the only splurge we allow ourselves is our Disneyland Annual passes. It doesn’t matter what time of week or year you visit, it’s a horrible experience if the park is packed, not to mention, pretty much a waste of money.  Between long lines for rides, food, and bathrooms, most of your day is gone trying to maneuver around the crowds. This is why we invest in the annual pass. It’s close enough to go and visit when we want, ride a few rides, leave when it’s too crowded and go back some other day.

Museums

Museums are another fun exciting activity we enjoy. With so many museums to choose from and a variety of different free museum days to go on, why wouldn’t we take advantage of it!?! Some of our favorites are the California Science Center, the Natural History Museum, and the Discovery Cube, but there are so many! Click on the hyperlink above for a full list of free dates and times.

Beaches

California is famously known as the Golden State for many reasons, the gold rush, the golden gate bridge, but mostly for it’s golden sunshiny days and what better way to soak up those rays than heading to the beach!?! A few of our favorites are Huntington Beach, Santa Monica Pier, Laguna Beach, and Cabrillo beach & aquarium, just to name a few. But with so many to go to, how do you choose? It just depends what kind of adventure you’re up for. Some beaches are more about sightseeing and walking the pier or boardwalk. Others are just to put your feet in the sand and splash in the water. Yet others still, are most famous for night time bonfires by the beach. I’ve attached a list of beaches, that has been divided up by counties and has something for everyone. Have a look!

So, between using our Disney pass to visit Mickey, soaking up some rays at the beach, picking a few historical sites to tour, and catching some free museum days, what could possibly be left to do during spring break!?!  How about doing just that…..taking a break. Sneaking in some naps. Maybe visiting family. Catching a movie. I don’t know. But the best part of a Staycation is just that, being able to stay home and not rush around cramming in everything you possibly can, as we often do on vacation.

-Sandra

Petrichor - the smell of earth after it rainsI love the rain.  Love the smell of it long after it’s gone.  Cuddling under the blankets and watching it out my French doors.  I love that it feels like it’s washing away bad days.  But I loved it so much more as a child.  It was rainy days that brought out rainbows.  It was running in the rain, jumping in puddles, making paper boats and following them down the street that I loved the most.  As an adult, it’s more of a nuisance.

I Need Sun

Being a born and raised in Southern Californian, I probably wouldn’t survive in another state.  I need sun.  I need warmth.  So, when the latest set of storms came rolling in causing havoc, I stayed in.  I refused to go out except when absolutely necessary.  Not because I don’t like the rain, but because I’m a spoiled.  My days consist of Ubering people around and as most Californians know, driving and rainy days don’t mix.  Running around in the rain, trying to keep the kids dry, running errands, keeping appointments, dropping off and picking up kids, just isn’t feasible.  It just becomes an obstacle in my already busy day.

I don’t know when I lost that innocent wonderment of the world.  When it didn’t matter if my hair got wet or frizzy.  When I actually looked forward to jumping in puddles, instead of avoiding them.  If that’s what being an adult means, I want to go back to my younger years.  Not for vanity reasons.  Not to relive my youth.  But to enjoy every bit of life.  To be happy again.  To have that innocence that comes with youth.  And to stand in the rain, loving every bit of it, taking in the smell of it, without a worry in the world, before life became so hectic.

But since I don’t have a time machine, I’ll do the next best thing and let my kids bask in that innocence for as long as possible and let them play in the rain.

-Sandra

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Not my Circus Not my Monkeys

I’m the resident Ringmaster and household juggler of my circus and not planning on running away to join a new one anytime soon.  My circus consists of two non-stop trapeze artists, one clown, and several circus animals, otherwise known as my kids, husband, and our dogs and cat, which provide me with entertainment for days!!!

When I’m not running between two different schools, tackling as many household chores as possible, and grocery shopping, I’m out Ubering for a few hours, coming home to cook and help with homework, before I have to prepare for the following day. Now I know why every circus has their well rehearsed routines…

Would I change my life if given the opportunity?

Not a chance.  My life is amazing, the madness won’t last forever, and the love that fills this home is unconditional.  This Ringmaster loves her circus just fine.

However, the older I get, the more I realize I don’t need to subscribe to everyone else’s drama. I don’t need to buy a ticket to their show. And saying ‘No’ without giving an explanation is my right.  So call it being flaky, distant, cold, or whatever you’d like, I just call it being smart and keeping my sanity in a world turning slightly insane day by day.  Just me and my circus of madness is all I need, oh, and Starbucks.

-Sandra

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“When things are not

+ADDING up in your life, start
 -SUBTRACTING ”                     .
                                -anonymous
 
Where has the time gone?  Where all time goes while living life…behind us. I won’t try to fit in a synopsis of my life for the past four years, I’ll just update as I go, about all the wonderful things I’ve seen, experienced, and learned along the way.

It’s that time of year to review the year behind us and plan for the year before us. Although, in truth, we don’t need a new year to change our lives.  There is no stopping point in our lives, such as a period to begin another sentence. Just move forward. You can’t plan ahead, while looking behind you (try walking that way and see if it doesn’t trip you up). You can however, use past experiences to keep from repeating past mistakes. But keep in mind, the variables are never the same twice and unfortunately, mistakes can happen again.

On the plus side, starting new is always invigorating. There’s something about beginnings that give us such energy, hope, excitement that keep us moving forward.  Hold on to that momentum and I can’t imagine 2017 to be a repeat of this past year. And if all else fails and things aren’t adding up in your life, start subtracting those things and see if your life doesn’t change for the better!

-Sandra

…the fear of abandonment and the fear of falling, everything else we learn.

I suppose I learned this in Mr. Cook’s Biology class in high school, but it’s one of those things that stick in your mind every time you hear the word.  For me, it was ‘fear’.  I couldn’t help thinking at the time that if this is true, then I’ve learned to fear reptiles, the dark, relationships, etc, from somewhere, someone.

Sitting in my panic/anxiety group sessions (yes, ‘fears’ has overcome me to the point of paralysis and panic attacks), my therapist said something that struck a cord in me, “it is human nature to run from what we fear”.  Apparently, I miss the whole fight or flight class somewhere or forgotten it at some point.  Now I’m in therapy to learn how to ‘tolerate’ and maybe even control my fears, but not how to face them.  I’ve allowed myself to be drugged to the point of numbness and be questioned over and over again to the point of pain.

My dad asked me the other day, after almost two years of not speaking to me, “What happened to you? What happened to the girl that was full of fight and didn’t allow anything to get her down?”

I don’t know.  Maybe after 15 years of marriage, of living in a promise to God, of being absolutely, positively, 100% sure, that this is the right person for you, then finding out that it’s not, does something to you.  Maybe it’s that the person I’m with has my heart convinced of the same.  How can fear not paralyze me?  How can I not be terrified of allowing myself to be happy with this person, or letting the thought of marriage and the rest of my life with him scare the life out of me?  How do I stand in front of God, family and friends with him and make a promise that I already broke once?  How can I promise something to someone and not doubt myself that I’ll take it back one day?

How do I teach my children to trust their instincts, choices and decisions when I doubt mine?  I don’t know.

I don’t know how to fix my broken heart, promises and dreams or to encourage my kids to follow and believe theirs.  I’m working on it though.  I know that they deserve to have a whole mother and my love deserves to be loved with no reservations.  I know that if I don’t learn from this, then I can’t possibly make myself or anyone else happy.

So off I go to therapy and to surround myself with family and friends that know and believe in who I use to be.  If I can get back an ounce of the girl that was so full of life and so sure of herself, if I can glimpse a former time and place where I was completely happy, I can build from it.  I’m working on unlearning my fears, I know it’s hard, but not impossible.  On the bright side, I’m no longer drowning, I’m treading water and when I’m strong enough, I’ll swim again.  Baby steps…

-Sandra

Okay….so I totally lied about my last hiatus being over….but WOW has life given me a curve ball, so now it’s officially over!  Tons to talk about….tons to say…

Since I was last on, my girls have gone back to school, I’ve gone back to school (yes, still chugging along on my Bachelor’s Degree), I’m working and have experienced some heartbreak!

I’m learning to be me again.  It’s been a while since I’ve been comfortable in my own skin and thanks to a great support system, I’m starting the see the vibrant, confident, happy-go-lucky person I used to be.  I’m learning that with such extreme highs comes extreme lows….that I can cry and pick myself up and not wait for someone to rescue me….that I can love completely without losing myself.

I’m going through an extremely tough time and I have to say, it’s a humbling experience.  I don’t have the luxury of laying down to die like I use to, I use to let life consume me and I’d allow myself to fully grieve, I can’t now.  I’m a mommy with responsibilities, I don’t have time…so I grieve little by little, between dropping off my girls at school and making my way to work, before I pick them up, while I shower, but mostly when I cry myself to sleep at the end of the day.  I concentrate on making sure I’m busy, busy, busy….so busy that I can’t think about those things that drag me down under.

I’m learning to take baby steps in my life.  I’ve always just jumped into life full force with both feet, but now I’m taking things slow, over-thinking things mostly, but making sure I don’t make the same mistakes.  So bare with me everyone, I will try to keep my posts positive, but I’m sure those days will creep up on me when I just have to vent.  Stay tuned to my drama….there’s plenty more to come!

-Sandra

I wake up to find my precious 5 year old Izzie doing this to me with a huge smirk on her face:

The conversation that follows is such:

Me: “Who taught you that?”

Izzie: “Mom, look!”

Me:  “I see, where did you see that?”

Izzie:  “Right here!”

Me (getting more upset now):  “Toria?  Did you show her that?”

Toria (confused):  “No, she showed me!”

Me: “Izzie! Stop doing that, it’s not nice!”

Izzie: “Okay Mom”

Then she proceeds to put on the band-aid shes holding in her other hand on her middle finger she’s so proudly showing off….as you can see, I have yet to organize my gutter brain!!!

-Sandra

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You know it’s been a long day when you scream at your kids to “put on your seatbelts” when I really meant p.j.’s!!!!

-Sandra

We had the best time at The Pink Parlour Festival!  I love all things that are handmade and I have to say, the caliber of artists that held booths at the festival was amazing!

First off, if you’ve never been to the Santa Anita Race Track, go. 

My kids loved the experience, being able to see race horses in action is really exciting (no we didn’t gamble).  It was gorgeous!  Very green, old style Copa Cabanish and a gorgeous day over all!

The event was in doors (away from the horse smell) and very pink.  There wasn’t a corner of the festival that wasn’t draped in pink…I loved it!  It very much had the air of entering a dressing room or someone’s boudoir.  They had everything from tutus for the girls, organic soaps and lotions, vintage style purses and hats and pin-up posters, drawings, and photos for the hubby.  I don’t know if the theme is intentionally Pin-up-ish (very Dita Von Teese-esque) or what, but for the most part, most of the vendors were.

My girls spent most of the time going from vendor to vendor getting free candy, my niece looking for all things Elvis and my hubby making himself scarce (it was a girly event).  Although it was small, we spent most of our time stopping and talking to the vendors about their products, how they were made and the sort.

The event was a first for us and we enjoyed the new experience.  It will definitely be something to look forward to next year!

Below are the links to a few of the vendors I just absolutely adored!

Chula Inc

Curioddities

Lil’ Darlin’ Accessories

Mango Pop

Miss Alphabet

My Mayan colors

Tattooed Beauty

-Sandra

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