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7 Reasons Your Kids NEED to go to the California State Fair

 

 

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Welcome to the California State Fair

In full disclosure, I’ve been a big fan of the California State Fair for a long time. It embodies everything your kids would want in a fair. This was my fair growing up. Recently I’ve been fantasizing about how amazing it would be for Josie to get to experience the magic of the state fair.

This year the stars aligned. Josie is tall enough (42″) to ride most of the kiddie rides and the dates of the fair this year coincided with our upcoming trip to visit Josie’s cousins. Plus, The California State Fair was kind enough to give us a few tickets to make our visit even more special!

We wanted to share this with our friends and hopefully you can add this to your must-visit-destination list. Pintrest this story now! ;) This is not your local county fair. Read on to see why.

 

1. Animals, Animals, Animals!
My mom always laid out our trips to the fair starting with animals first thing in the morning. Sacramento in the summer gets pretty hot, and the everything about animals is better when it’s cooler.
First we watched the horses race around a little. Then we enjoyed pony rides and then experienced a wide variety of animals at the children’s petting zoo. Of course there were the usual suspects; pigs, ducks, and goats. But surprisingly there were also deer, kangaroo, I think a Llama or maybe an Alpaca, and more! There were so many animals. We spent about 20 minutes in this area alone.
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2. The Monorail
You have two choices. You can ride the monorail when you first walk through the gates. This choice allows you to plan your attack and acclimate yourself to the lay of the land. The other choice is to wait until after dinner when the sun is going down and the concrete is releasing the last of the heat from the day. You can ride the monorail to relax and transition to night time fun and decide on your dessert!

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3. Tasting California
Did you know that Butte County is the home to a huge olive oil festival? That’s one of the facts I learned while we chilled out a little in the air conditioned exhibit hall featuring many of the counties of California. (See the giant waiter behind my niece eating ice cream?) I imagine we wandered around this exhibit hall for about an hour. The girls loved seeing the different displays about where our food comes from. They especially liked sampling the apple butter, apple mustard, apple jelly over and over and over again. Sweet ripe peaches were chomped and spoons of fresh local honey were licked!

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4. It’s So Big it Feels Small
I noticed at one point that it seemed like there were no lines for ANYTHING. As we walked around, we experienced virtually no crowds. We were first in line for the balloon animals and pretty much everything the girls wanted to see and do was instantly accessible. My only theory on this was because the fair covers so much acreage, there was plenty of fun for everyone, making it easy to cruise around with kids.

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5. So Many Free Exhibits (Can you believe we only went on 3 rides!)

Yes, you read that right! We only went on 3 rides and we spent about 7 hours at the fair!   The girls were so distracted by all of the things to see and do that they were only mildly interested in the rides. The organizers of the California State Fair stocked the fairgrounds with so many hands on activities ranging from petting sharks, to a scavenger hunt of about coastal wildlife where kids earned a prize at the end.

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6. Cool Roaming Performers
The pictures below say everything. That is all.

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7. Farm Style Fun
This year’s California State Fair definitely had a strong agricultural appreciation component. There were so many unique activities for kids ranging from a robo-cow to milk to an opportunity to rope “bulls” to playing in a hug planter box of corn. While the girls were amazed at the rows upon rows of tomatoes, the adults of the group were impressed that the fruit would be donated to local food banks.

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Although exhibits will change from year to year, I strongly suggest making the California State Fair a family destination. For current info check out their website California State Fair.

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Why We Decided to Keep Going to Sea World

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Sea World’s newest members of the Rescue Team!

For so many San Diego families we know, Sea World has been a great place to spend the day. However, with the controversy over the movie Blackfish, a lot of moms we know have been asking themselves if they should renew their passes and also asking if this is the positive organization they believe it to be.

I have many friends who tell of gut wrenching accounts of whales abusing other whales, mama whales having their babies ripped away from them. They talk of the physical signs reflecting the negative effects of captivity, accounts of under trained trainers, irresponsible breeding, and so-on. I’ve also heard of musicians and school groups also pulling away from Sea World after seeing the movie.

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Aaaack!

Full Disclosure: I did not see the film. Why? Because I’m too much of an emotional wimp these days when it comes to moms and babies of any species. I felt I should watch it in order to be a good “journalist”, But I decided that I was bothered enough by the facts stated above and that I didn’t need to see it in it’s full emotion packed form. I just wanted answers to the issues mentioned above.

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Learning about shark eggs and watching them about to hatch

I was fortunate to be one of a handful of bloggers invited to a symposium held by the Sea World Education department (not the Marketing department I noted to myself) where they held a forum to answer any concerns and tell their side of the story.

Full Disclosure: I am aware that they were trying to impress us.

Sea World dedicated 6 hours to showing what they are all about, and yes, it worked. I was impressed.

So now is where I cut to the point. Before any of this, I was kind of “meh” about Sea World. I saw it as a moderately fun whale themed amusement park.

I now see it as an important resource for raising environmentally aware people as well as an important rescue resource for our coastal community.

I believe many people do not realize that so much of what Sea World does and that a lot of the money from the theme park goes to conservation and education.

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Learning about parasites

I believe many people do not know that for a lot of the employees who work with the animals, this is not a job. This is a 24/7 commitment. I met multiple people who have worked there for 25 years and more and they are PASSIONATE about what they do. You have to ask yourself, why would so many people who have dedicated their lives to animals be involved with an evil empire, if that is the case.

I talked with people who have wanted to work at SW since they were in middle school, living in the Midwest. People who have worked on oil spills as far as South Africa, rescuing wildlife. People who are on call 24/7 to rescue local sea lions– and wouldn’t have it any other way. People who put as much effort in diagnosing a sick 30 gram butterfly fish as a 5000 pound whale.

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Shhhh! Sneak peek at one of their upcoming hands on experiences… Cleaner Fish also known as Doctor Fish.

At the end of the day, I feel that it is better having Sea World than not having it. The opportunity to interact with sea creatures first hand creates a better appreciation for our nautical neighbors. It is part of creating generations of people that find ocean conservation essential.

Kristi, one of the trainers who has been at Sea World since 1988 made a great point; that the movie Blackfish is a good thing. She pointed out the level of emotion that it has caused, moving people to learn more and care more. Which puts the film makers on the same side as Sea World in a strange way.

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Turtle Reef, Beautiful and Amazing

Did you know…

  • Sea World has a non-profit Conservation Ambassador team
  • The animals are fed restaurant quality fish
  • They are HIGHLY regulated by NOAA, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration
  • They are the first San Diego theme park to eliminate plastic bags
  • Sea World rescues around 150 sea lion pups a year
  • They have a team of first responders trained in case of a west coast oil spill
  • They care for 100-300 sick or injured birds a year
  • 80% of the animals there were born in captivity
  • Trainers must have at least two years working with the trainer team before they can get in the water. Even then, it depends on previous animal interaction and where they work is determined on where they excelled.
  • San Diego has a population of around 70 green turtles in the south bay that Sea World helps when they get into trouble.
  • Three signs that animals in captivity are thriving are that they are eating, playing, and procreating. One Orca was working on the third while we we there.Wink Wink.
  • Sea World provides scientific research that is shared world wide and provides support for other local organizations, like the Birch Aquarium.
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Kids and Orcas love snowballs!

I know that many people may still have objections, but for our family, we now feel better supporting Sea World and educating Josie on the importance of all living creatures and respecting our planet. I have read online that the arguments presented in the movie are inconsistent (Tilikum has killer genes, and Tilikum was driven to kill due to captivity, for example).

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More hands on, petting sharks

I have also read that since the film makers didn’t have access, they used footage from other sources in editing to tell their story. In my opinion, this makes it not a documentary. If there was a documentary about a horrible restaurant, and they didn’t let you film inside, so you use footage of another restaurant instead it is no longer a documentary. It is a movie.

Let’s hope this movie inspires us all to look deeper, care more, question everything and hear both sides.

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Great place to brunch with your littles

Love the garden setting at Cafe 976

On our way to the library, Josie thought we should try this place for a little lunch. Umm, ok.  We popped into Cafe 976 on the corner of Cass and Felspar in Pacific Beach.  Immediately, I wanted to share this experience with all of my mom friends.  Here is a quick snapshot of what is good about this place for moms, dads, and kids.

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“The Basic” Waffle. Only $5 and reheated great in the toaster oven the next day!

  • Peaceful garden setting.  Perfect for soothing your savage beast.
  • Plenty of outside seating — great for space between crazy kids and calm diners.
  • Stroller friendly open courtyard.
  • They have coloring books and crayons.
  • Friendly laid back staff.
  • Yummy healthy food!
  • Kids menu and lots of kid friendly sides, if you just want to get a few side items to keep them busy.
  • Good prices, especially on the sides!
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Veggie Chili Bowl and Garlic Bread for under $5

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For the rest of the menu and pics http://www.cafe976.com/

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Rockin’ Mama Monday!

Inspired by awesome mom-blogger, Juniper Briggs http://superbintheburbs.blogspot.com I decided every week should be kicked off reminding us how awesome we are! Kickin’ Ass with style and class. Mastering a skill set that allows you to dominate in daily life.

Example: MARKETING. Who else is better at marketing than a mom. Mom’s make sandwiches shaped like cats and can magically turn broccoli into a forest held erect by mashed potatoes! Now that’s effective marketing in action!

This week, I just wanted to showcase local mom Lisa Houston. She has recently traded L.A. for San Diego and has brought her photography business with her. I was lucky enough to be one of her models for her Halloween Retro Pin Up photo shoot and got some amazing pictures from it.  She not only captures that California family classic look, but also creates artsy, vintage style images as well.

She’s currently booking mini-sessions for family holiday pictures, and if you haven’t started thinking about that yet, I guess now is the time *yikes!*

Check her out at https://www.facebook.com/LisaHoustonPhotography

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Does Your Kid Want to Ride a Camel?

Of course they do! And fortunately for San Diego kids, the Oasis Camel Dairy is only a hop, skip and a jump away.  Located in beautiful Ramona, less than 40 miles away (depending on what part of town you live in, of course) is the Oasis Camel Dairy, America’s first camel milking farm!

A great time to experience this hands on opportunity is during their Pomegranate Days event, Saturday, November 23rd and Sunday, November 24th.

There will be camel rides for kids 3 years ($5) and up and adults ($10)(200lb limit).

Families can enjoy a special bird show  performance featuring birds from the Tonight Show and Ellen DeGeneres and Pet Star.

There will also be an opportunity to hand feed Pomegranate to the camels. This is definitely a rare opportunity not to be missed. Make sure to wear clothes that can get a little pomegranate juice on them.

camel pomegranate

And while you’re there, kick off your holiday shopping with some unique gifts. The Oasis Camel Dairy sells camel milk soap, camel milk lotion, lip treatment and skin serum. Even gourmet important camel milk chocolate.

Tickets for the event are $15 for adults, $10 for kids, and under 3 are free!

And speaking of FREE… The nice people at Oasis Camel Dairy are giving us a pass good for 4 to give away to our friends as well as a gift package including soap, lotion and lip treatment.

To enter to win, simply “LIKE” them on Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/cameldairysandiego

Then, comment our Facebook page

https://www.facebook.com/thesandiegokid

that you “LIKE”‘d them.  Drawing will be old school style, meaning comments will be assigned a number based on order and then we will draw numbers out of a hat.  Winner will be chosen Monday 11/18at 6pm.  We will contact you and put your prize in the mail on Monday. Two winners will be chosen. One for the 4 pack and one for the gift basket.

Good Luck and see you at Pomegranate Days!

For more info…http://cameldairy.com/

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How long does it really take to make a pumpkin pie from scratch

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Don’t forget to wash it!

10:00-10:10 am-  Washed pumpkin, cut in half, grossed out toddler to gagging point with pumpkin guts.

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Yep, that’s what the inside of the pumpkin looks like. Sorry.

10:10 -10:16 finished scraping out pumpkin guts. Re-checked recipe online.

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A large serving fork is also a great pumpkin-string-remover

10:16-10:21 Hacked at stem with probably the wrong kind of knife, gave up, covered both sides with foil and hoped for the best.

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Yep, she’s playing with the sharp jagged metal foil cutter.

10:23- Googled “Roasting pumpkin with the stem” just to make sure nothing really bad happens if you do that.  Nothing but cute pics and recipes from hardcore foodies.  Moving on to learn how to make a crust. (OMG, do I own a pie pan?!!!)

10:32- Nope! But I found a couple of the aluminum disposable ones on my art supply shelf. So were back in business!

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Hurray for forgotten-about-aluminum-pie-pans!

10:32-11:05 Facetime with sister and and Josie and cousin Braelyn. Made Josie an snack. (Check out our Veggie Corn Dog “sushi”) http://instagram.com/p/fYOQEtsgBF/  Back to looking for an easy pie crust recipe.

11:16 Took  pumpkin out to cool. Ha! Apparently the stem just pops right off! Heh Heh! Also, decided to try this unusual no roll out pie crust recipe. Looks easy and I have all of those ingredients… Sold! http://allrecipes.com/recipe/easy-pie-crust/

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This is the EASIEST and TASTIEST crust ever!

12:25 Thought I was going to throw the pumpkin in the Kitchen Aid mixer and whip it up, but realized whipped cream is still in my mixing bowl, so plan B, Hand mash in a pot. Pumpkin is completely cooled and easy to separate into chunks. The pumpkin got a little brown and gooey where it touched pie sheet.  Next time I will use foil.

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Pumpkin is so soft you can just mash it with a spatula

Side note: As I’m cutting off the brown, I’m thinking about how I don’t like pumpkin pie.  It’s definitely my least favorite pie.  I try it every once in a while since tastes change and recipes differ, but sometime it almost makes me want to puke. (hungry yet?) Anyhow, I just want to see if I can make one that I will like and also, just for the holiday-ness of it. And mostly because Josie wanted to. 

12:52 Just finished mixing the pumpkin mash with pumpkin spice, two eggs, and a mixture of leftover whipped cream and reduced fat milk.  I didn’t actually have all the right ingredients. Apparently I skipped over that part about condensed milk, so I improvised.  I decided to figure out what it was I didn’t like, since none of those ingredients are off-putting to me.  I tasted a little of the pumpkin drenched in whipped cream(before I added the eggs, don’t worry).  *Mmmm*  Smelled the spice *Mhmm* not bad.  I think I might like this pie!

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A little whipped cream mixed in with 2% milk to mimic the fat content of condensed milk

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Fresh pumpkin pie ready to bake!

Baking for 35 minutes.

1:32 Just checked it and it still looks runny and yellowish, yech!

1:47 Coming near the home stretch. Pie smells yummy, starting to look firmer. Going to give it 5 more minutes just to be sure.

1:52 Looks pretty firm and more golden than yellow.  I’m going to pull it out and let it cool

2:10 Decided the crust was still too soft, back in oven on bottom rack for 10 more minutes.

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At last! pie is done!

2:30 Pie is cool enough to eat, yet still warm.  I think this may be a success! The color is more yellow than I’m used to, but it may just be because of the natural color of the pumpkin. Every pumpkin is different.  This pie actually came out delicious. I would definitely bring it to a gathering to share, since the only thing better than fresh homemade pie is fresh homemade pie with a really long story!

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New Downtown Library– Mostly Pics!

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Elevator Art at the New San Diego Downtown Library Children’s section

Now that we are officially in the middle of Fall, moms and dads are going to have to find indoor options to keep the kids entertained.  Add the new downtown library as a destination! I’m sure a lot of people who are curious about it decided to wait a couple of weeks for all of the hoopla to die down.  Josie and I went recently and we can let you know, its totally calm.

To start, parking is easy and free. They have their own garage. No validating or anything required. Just park and up you go!

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San Diego Downtown Library Children’s Section

Disclaimer: This blog post is mainly pictures on purpose.  Before going I realized that when I looked online for images, there were not really any of the children’s section, so I wanted to make sure to get a lot to share with our friends who were thinking of going.  Our impression is that this new library is definitely beautiful and holds a lot of potential.  The Children’s section is expansive. There is a lot of opportunity to hold large kids events here. Also, the toilet and sink are small and toddler height!

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Children’s Section San Diego Downtown Library

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Children’s Section San Diego Downtown Library

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Children’s Section San Diego Downtown Library

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Children’s section new San Diego Downtown library

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Children’s section new San Diego downtown library

The pic below is actually upstairs, in the Teen Section.  I probably won’t let Josie lay here a few months from now when it inevitably will be grossed-up. But right now when everything is new, this is a pretty amazing little nook to curl up like a cat by the sliding glass door and read a book.

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Teen section at San Diego downtown library

And finally, don’t forget to bring a little picnic lunch.  There is a nice enclosed patio at the entrance where you can have a bite to eat and let the little ones get their wiggles out.  The cafe-kiosk was closed when we were there, but I imagine the plan is for it to be open and hopefully they will have some healthy affordable snack options. :)

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Cafe patio at the new San Diego downtown library