We Made it to Sedona: Slide Rock State Park

The ride from Santa Fe to Sedona was uneventful.  Our initial stop was Slide Rock State Park.  I had not really read up on this place, but I am glad we took the time to explore this gem.


This was the view from the parking lot.  The entrance fee was $10, which is quite reasonable.  During the warmer months it is $20.  The park ranger kind of laughed when we asked for a map.  There is pretty much one main trail that leads to “Slide Rock”.


The trail was about .5 miles long.  There were some historical artifacts along the way.




This is the water “slide” that makes this park so popular.  It looks a lot more dangerous that I had pictured in my head!



The park ranger said the water temperature was 37 degrees that day.


Someone was crazy enough to jump in!


He did not stay in for long!


Does going down this slide not look super dangerous?  Apparently it is a really popular activity in the spring.  I wonder how many injuries occur??  I am kind of glad we visited in the winter because I know D would have been tempted to try it if it had been warmer.



The area is so picturesque, though!




Hey…we have a photobomber!





Love the reflection in this picture.


Slide Rock State Park is definitely worth a stop on your way to Sedona!






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Santa Fe Botanical Garden: GLOW Review

After resting for a bit at the hotel, we drove to the Santa Fe Botanical Garden to see a holiday display called GLOW.  It was described as “an artful illumination of nature”, but I was not sure exactly what to expect.  The adult tickets were $10 and kids 12 and under were free.


We arrived around 5 p.m., so there was still some daylight.


There were a lot cozy conversation spots and creative lighting.






I believe they were burning pinon wood.







Loved the luminarias!  They were everywhere in New Mexico, even on top of the regional hospital.



This art installation changed colors every few seconds.






This was a fun little local event to check out.  They were selling hot chocolate, but n had been ODing on hot chocolate throughout our vacation, so we skipped it.  There was also a musician scheduled to perform, but we did not want to stay that late…D had college football to watch at the hotel!


Our appetites still were not back to normal, so we just made a quick stop at Panda Express on the way back to the hotel.  Sorry Santa Fe, we just were not up to fully exploring you; I feel like we did not experience all that you have to offer.

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A Day In Santa Fe

I had a lingering headache in the morning, probably from dehydration, but was feeling much better than the day before.  It was time to explore Santa Fe.

We parked in a parking garage in the downtown area and walked around.  Our first stop was the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.



It is a relatively small museum, and it was fairly crowded that day.  We downloaded the app and brought our earbuds for the audio walking tour.  Honestly, I did not find it all that interesting, but I am sure true art buffs would disagree.


The front ticket desk let the kids borrow a sketchpad.  They were invited to draw sketches of what they saw, and told to return the unused pages.  The kids were excited about being able to keep the artist-quality pencils.


We walked to the Railyard District, but did not really know where to go. #PlanningFail  This mural was cool, though.




There were hanging chiles everywhere!



We walked by a small frozen river.


Interesting juxtaposition of old church and modern metal sculptures.


Our main destination was supposed to be The Plaza.  Unfortunately, we found it somewhat underwhelming.  I think The Circle in Old Town Orange actually has more charm!




We shared two fajitas, one chicken, and one beef, from a cart on the Plaza ($5 each).


We saw some people eating Frito Pies, but that really did not sound appealing at that moment.


We did a little more walking.



There were tons of small shops, but we were not in a shopping mood.


We went back to the hotel to rest in the afternoon.  On the way we stopped for a snack at a Sonic Drive-In for the very first time.  The ordering system was fascinating to the kids.  They were disappointed that the employees did not deliver the food on roller skates, though.  We explained that the liability risk would be way too high–ha!




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Print Your Memories With TurnGram

I received a sample of this product for free from TurnGram, but all opinions are my own.

Lately, D has been taking a lot of pictures on his phone and posting them on Instagram.  However, I do not think he has ever taken the time to have any of his pictures printed.  That is just not something on his radar given the time and effort it would take.  He does capture some nice moments, though, especially of the kids.  It would be a shame if all of those memories just ended up floating in cyberspace forever.  Well, a company called TurnGram has created a solution for this problem!

TurnGram will select photos from your Instagram feed based on instructions you provide and deliver them directly to your door, or the door of your friends and relatives.


I requested pictures from D’s Instagram feed, and this is one of the pictures they sent me last month.  I really like the 4 inch by 4 inch picture size, which is perfect for capturing those square Instagram images.

I could also see this service as being a nice gift for grandparents.  For example, you could set up your account so that they receive photos of the grandkids from your Instagram account every month.

You can get your first month FREE when you sign up for TurnGram today; no coupon code required. There is a 100% money back guarantee if you are dissatisfied with their service in any way.  Check it out!

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The Time To Care For Our Water Is NOW!

I am writing this sponsored post for Moms Meet (momsmeet.com), May Media Group LLC. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agree to share this information and post my honest opinion on my blog. The opinions posted are my own.

As I write this post, it is drizzling outside.  Unfortunately, this is an all too rare occurrence here in Southern California.  According to the Federal Forecast, drought conditions are “likely” to return in California in 2018.  Therefore, it is critical for us to continue to care for our water and to teach our children about the importance of water conservation.

In order to teach kids how to to care for our water, the NAAEE, WestEd K-12 Alliance, and Cal Water have teamed up to sponsor the Cal Water H2O Challenge.  This challenge is made up of two separate competitions.

The Individual Challenge is for students in grade 4-12.  It is a media competition where students can submit original art, photography, or videos that show the importance of caring for water.

The Classroom Challenge is a project-based, environmentally-focused competition for classrooms, grades 4-6.  Students are to initiate, develop, and implement a 4-8 week long project that focuses on the importance of water care.  There is a handbook on the website that includes a project guide and sample lesson plans.  Students are to create a final portfolio that documents their project.  The Classroom Challenge is aligned with the Common Core State Standards and is complementary to the Next Generation Science Standards.  Therefore, participating in the challenge is a valuable learning experience for students on many levels.  The final registration deadline is January 31, 2018!

Winners of the Cal Water H2O Classroom Challenge will receive:

Grand Prize

Class Celebration: Classroom tent-camping trip to the Santa Monica Mountains with NatureBridge

Class Funding: $3,500 grant

Extras: Cal Water Prize packs for every student

2nd Place

Class Celebration: A Pizza Party

Class Funding: $2,500 grant

Extras: Cal Water Prize packs for every student

3rd Place

Class Funding: $2,000 grant

Extras: Cal Water Prize Packs for every student

4th Place

Class Funding: $1,000 grant

Extras: Cal Water Prize Packs for every student

All Participant Prizes

Student Recognition: An official certificate of participation for every student.

Teacher Recognition: A teacher certificate

Teacher Gift: An AMEX gift card

See http://challenge.calwater.com/for more details.  Teachers: Given the urgent need for our state to care for our water, as well as the valuable lessons that this program provides, please consider entering your classroom in the Cal Water H2O Challenge today!


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Petrified Forest National Park Part II

Although I still was not feeling well in the morning, we proceeded with our plans to visit the southern section of the park and drive on to Santa Fe, New Mexico.  D was a trooper, because even though he was not feeling 100% either, he did all of the driving in the morning.

Our first stop was the Rainbow Forest Museum where D went with the kids to get their junior ranger badges while I stayed in the car.  We nixed all of the hiking plans we had and just did short walks from the various pull-offs throughout the park.


If you’re curious about what petrified wood looks like, this is it.


It basically looks and feels like wood that has turned into rock.









I am glad these guys managed to maintain good spirits even though I was feeling miserable.



Something was really funny!



Even though we did not get a chance to do much exploring, I feel like we had a good overview of the park.

I continued to throw up bile in the car (with a bag) since I had no food or water in my stomach.  After a quick internet search, I realized that I needed to drink water even if I threw it up or I would risk becoming severely dehydrated.  Somewhere along our route in New Mexico, I was able to keep saltines and 7up down, and was able to do some driving.

The kids shared a sandwich from Westend Donuts & Deli in Gallup, New Mexico and they said was good.  We checked into Comfort Inn in Santa Fe.  We took a trip to Albertsons to pick up Gatorade, bananas, and chicken strips from the deli for the kids for dinner.  This was not how I had imagined our first night in Santa Fe! 🙁

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Petrified Forest National Park + A Horrific Night in Holbrook

The day after Christmas, we embarked on a road trip that would take us to Petrified Forest National Park, Santa Fe, and Sedona.  It was a lot of driving, but we thought we were up for the challenge.  I had a little scare when I checked the weather forecast one week before and there was a snow storm expected in New Mexico.  Luckily, the forecast cleared up and we were good to go in our Mazda3 Hatch.


During most of the first leg of our drive we were on Highway 40.  The creation of this highway made Route 66 obsolete in many places, as documented in the movie Cars.  However, a lot of Route 66 nostalgia lives on in the small towns and stores that have managed to survive.  We stopped at this Route 66 General Store to get gas.


For some reason, D felt the need to buy Elk Jerky.  Don’t ask.


We drove about twenty five miles past Holbrook, Arizona to reach Petrified Forest National Park.  This was exciting because it is the twentieth National Park that the kids have visited.  In retrospect, I should have had them each hold up ten fingers to commemorate the number.  Oh well.


Our plan was to enter the park through the northern station and explore the Painted Desert area.  We would save the southern section for the next morning.


D has not switched to dabbing yet!


We hiked the Painted Desert Rim Trail, which is one mile round trip.


We made it to the Painted Desert Inn National Historic Landmark just before it closed at 4 p.m.


What a view!


The back side.



A raven, I think.


A mini rainbow.



The road less traveled.



The kids received fitness monitoring watches for Christmas.  After sitting in the car all day, they were anxious to get their steps in by moving their arms.


When a friendly woman offered to take our family’s picture, she had to tell n, “Honey, you have to stop moving your arms!”


The Painted Desert is certainly an apt name for this area.


The clouds were crazy on our way back to Holbrook.  We had a reservation at Days Inn.


I thought the room was ok, especially given the cheap rate.  The pillow formation cracked me up, though.  D was not impressed.


We ate dinner at a restaurant in town that seemed to be frequented by locals.

Despite the positive Yelp reviews, the wait was excruciating and they ran out of some key ingredients, such as chicken and shredded beef.  D and I ordered a couple of dishes with green chile, since that is the popular dish around that area.  (The kids stuck to the Navajo taco).  We thought the food was pretty good and also had a sopapilla for dessert.

Well…fast forward to about midnight and D was not feeling well.  He managed to go back to sleep, but by 2:30 a.m. he was throwing up.  I followed suit about a half hour later and continued about four times after that, into the morning.  (Sorry if that is TMI).  That was the worst night I have ever had while on vacation!  Was it food poisoning? Altitude sickness?  I am just grateful that the kids were not affected!



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Christmas 2017 Recap

We went on a road trip the day after Christmas, so I never had a chance to write about our Christmas.  We went to church on Christmas Eve Sunday and my parents hosted Christmas Eve and Christmas.


As much as I appreciate a nicely wrapped gift, I just cannot be bothered.  Although this pile of presents may not look like much, they took forever to wrap (plus stocking stuffers not shown).


The faux fireplace on television is always fun to have on Christmas morning.


I bought these mini mugs at Crate & Barrel years ago, and the kids still use them!  Perfect for hot chocolate.


The only time you can find D in the kitchen is for breakfast on the weekends.  I really appreciate it, though!  My only contribution was “making” the cinnamon rolls from Trader Joe’s–pretty good!



Our artificial tree is a behemoth that takes up two boxes in the garage.  It was a hand-me-down from my sister and BIL.  D wants to downsize, but I would prefer to keep it until we really need a new one.  And yes, a tree skirt would be nice.  One of these days…


Some of my favorite ornaments!


Thank you Amazon, for making it easy for Grandma in Napa to send Christmas gifts to k and n!


You know a Christmas gift is good when it comes with safety goggles!


Christmas roast dinner prepared by my mom.  I am afraid that I will not be able to carry on this tradition!

So grateful to spend time with family in celebrating the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ!

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k is 11!

This year our winter break started relatively late, so k actually had to attend school on her birthday.  We do friend birthday parties every other year, so this year was a small family dinner celebration.  k requested Panda Express takeout, and my mom made Spam musubi and chap chae.  Unfortunately, my mom was not feeling well that day so she was not able to make it.





n photobombing the mini cupcakes.


Mini mango mochi with sorbet.

I am excited for k’s new adventures for 2018, including Outdoor Science Camp with her classmates, bridging with her Girl Scout Troop in San Francisco, and possibly two different week-long camps with church friends in the summer.  It is really difficult for me to believe that we will have a middle schooler this year!

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Last Visit to Legoland

Our annual pass to Legoland is coming to an end so we decided to sneak in one last visit.  I told the kids this might be the last time they go until they bring their own kids!

We arrived before it opened, or so we thought.  It seemed like they had already let people in the park.

The lines were minimal, so we rode on the dragon roller coaster two times in a row.

One ride we had not done in a while is Skipper School.  D looks a little nervous handing over the wheel to n!

It is nice to see all of the Christmas decorations.

We watched the Lego Friends Christmas show.  I was pleasantly surprised the cast actually sings (not lip sync).

The snow at the end was a nice surprise, although k does not seem too impressed.

Too bad Legoland does not have sledding anymore!

We also did a quick walk through the aquarium.

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