Posted in Parenting, Travel

Pretend City

Don’t mess with me, I’m cookin’ here.

So….clear back in March, my lil’ family migrated down to Irvine one Wednesday to check out Pretend City. The journey there was a bit harrowing as I can’t figure out how in the heck to tell my GPS to ignore toll roads. We ended up stopping at a Costco for lunch and ate like kings for cheap before contacting my sister-in-law (who now lives in Orange County) on how in the world to navigate around the area.

Bless her, because we finally figured out how to get to the location!

Tucked in an unassuming industrial park, Pretend City is a haven for children. Kids can take their time card to various locations throughout the building, get it stamped and then go to one of their ATMs and get “money” for their work. The money does nothing else than give an extra element of realism, so if you have real little youngsters, they’re in no way going to miss out on any of the fun to be had.

The buildings included a grocery store, gas station, cafe, post office, farm, health center and emergency services. Jude’s favorite by far was the cafe — in fact, this was the hot spot for most of the children. Where else can you rope your parents into being served a myriad of plastic food in a somewhat realistic setting? By the way, parents, you’re encouraged by Pretend City to leave your cell phone in your pocket and engage with your child(ren). 🙂

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Jude also loved the science aspect of this water exhibit. Children were encouraged to build foam boats and put them through the current. Areas allowed for you to use barriers to redirect the current or use wind to explore the use of sails on water. Jude loved this hole in the center of the water table where you could stand and interact with items as they drifted by. Of course, there was also a fishing area where you could use “fishing rods” and nets.

The other great thing about Pretend City was the library. The bibliophile in me completely nerded out going through the selection of books and I was able to show Jude a book written in braille — which was also the first time I was able to see one myself. (Can you tell we live in a “small” town?)

The only downside to this trip was the drive! We live in the high desert, so it’s a 90 minute drive on a GOOD day and a 3 hour drive on a bad day. Since Pretend City closes at 5 and we didn’t even get there until around 12:30pm or so, we were stuck in the 3 hours of rush hour traffic to get home. My solution to this is Disney or Knott’s Berry Farm passes so we can tour around a park waiting for rush hour to, uh, rush on by, but we haven’t quite accomplished that yet. LOL. One day.

*Beware of your GPS’s love of toll roads. It’ll tell you how to get there the fastest, but it won’t quite cooperate to get you around the tolls either. Pretend City is quite literally in the heart of toll road country!
*Get to the doors when they open and leave early if you want to avoid the traffic jam. Memberships are available which also get you in the door an hour earlier the days they are open AND they’re tax deductible because Pretend City is a non profit organization! WOOT!!
*Bring a sack lunch. There’s areas there for you to eat, but only vending machines available for food.

Thanks for reading!
~Katie ☙

Posted in High Five For Friday, Life, Parenting, Travel

Top Five Friday

  1. From Twitter:
  2. From YouTube:
    This is seriously one of the most honest parenting blogs I’ve seen. We ALL have some sort of toy that we keep away from our kids for one of these reasons.
  3. From the Faire:
    I really fell in love with these hand made glass tea pots. The fish is my favorite!
    Tea Pots
  4. From My Personal Facebook Page:
    After a rather horrible introduction to porta-potties this morning, Jude declared upon needing it a second time: “I don’t wanna use the poopy one.” Thankfully, one was acquired.
  5. From YouTube:
    I feel these guys did a better job with their song selection than the lady’s version — or I enjoyed it more at least. 🙂

Until next week!
Katie ☙

Posted in Parenting, Travel

Travel in 2014: Disneyland

I am seriously so behind on all the travel we did in 2014!! Figured I’d start with Disney. This year’s blog posts are starting out with a series of flashbacks and current events. I hope it doesn’t feel too much like Catch-22. Haha.

DisneyThat’s right! This family finally got to visit Disneyland on a rainy day in November thanks to an awesome gift from a friend. I’d wanted to take Jude ever since he’d fallen in love with “Cars” so I was thrilled when we were offered the opportunity when all of us could actually go, but was terrified when it turned out being the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Is It Crowded said “Yup, It’s Packed,” but I think staying in California Adventure most of the day AND the rain kept things bearable!

The first thing we did was race to Radiator Springs Racers and snag up Fast Passes. It was 9am and already our passes weren’t until the afternoon! We knew Jude would love it, but now we had some time to kill.

Our first ride at Disneyland ended up being Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree. Jude was not pleased. The “I was up too early” breakdown combined with his usual anxiety about trying new things attracted stares. Lots of stares. Stares that implied “You can’t seriously be thinking about putting this kid on this ride crying like that.” Oh we thought and we did. I don’t endorse this for every child, but we knew the tears would disappear and that smile would return the minute the ride started and boy did they! He didn’t stop smiling the entire day…except when he was hungry. View the before and after below :P:

The rest of the day went rather smoothly. We went on Luigi’s Flying Tires because we knew it would likely not be there later this year when we can afford to go back, as well as Toy Story, the Carousel, The Little Mermaid, and the Monster’s Inc. ride. And of course we went back to the Radiator Springs Racers. If you haven’t been on this ride, it’s really cool. It takes you through the movie and then you race!! I would have loved to have the photo from this one, but the windshield bar was just high enough to cut across Jude’s eyes.

When we crossed over into Disneyland, I had a moment of panic. The crowds were crazy over there, but once we passed Main St. it wasn’t so bad. Over there, we visited Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Winnie the Pooh, and Star Tours. After Star Tours, Jude finally decided he wanted some Mickey ears and picked out the R2-D2 version. After all that, we’d finally had enough. We were all tired and I ached from Jude wanting me to carry him most of the day — it was more than time to come home. We had a great time and since we’ll be debt free this year, we’re thinking of getting season passes for Jude’s 1st birthday at the end of October.

I tried to keep this blog brief, but it’s still closing at almost 600 words!!

Thanks for reading,
Katie ☙


Posted in Travel

Where in the USA have you been?

Y’know…if I don’t work and schedule the coming week’s posts over the weekend, I just completely space about it the rest of the week! So, I’ll leave you this map today and ask you to comment with what states in the USA you’ve been. I didn’t count states we only had layovers at or drove through for 10 minutes (if you drive to Colorado from California using the 15 freeway, you’re in Arizona for about that short span of time).

So, lay it on me! Here’s my map!!

Create Your Own Visited States Map


Thanks for reading,
Katie ☙

Posted in Parenting, Travel

Sea World

wpid-img_20141008_130359.jpgThis week may have a lot of travel posts since I’m still trying to catch up on the June vacation we took back east. This post, however is all about Jude’s pre-birthday trip to Sea World. We decided to go a few weeks before his birthday because they charge admission at 3 years old, BUT my cousin’s wife clued me in that many San Diego parks have free admission for kids the entire month of October, so that may be something to remember for next year! Legoland anyone? 😉

As some trips go, this one started off in a high pressure whirlwind where I didn’t think we may ever get to San Diego, but after we finally left home, stopped by at the Union Hall to get our discounted tickets AND finally migrated to San Diego, it was about 11:30am. Not horrible, but not what OCD mommy with a schedule had in mind. As Elsa says, I “let it go!”

First stop of the day was the critter barn where we got to see creatures such as beavers, porcupines and the like. We then went and saw penguins and the Pet Show. Their pet show is awesome and they use all animals that they’ve adopted from shelters! By then we needed to cool off (it was a typical So-Cal 90 degree day in October – I want FALL!) wpid-20141008_120539.jpgso we headed over to their Polar exhibit.

Jude is still too little to actually ride the Wild Arctic motion ride, but we were still able to explore around it. Jude enjoyed touching the ice wall, crawling through the polar bear den, and seeing the wrecked ship theme they carried throughout the area.

We saw the Sea Lion show (all played up around a Haunted Mansion theme) as well as the Dolphin show. Jude wasn’t much impressed with the penguin exhibit, but he did enjoy the multitude of aquariums, including the sharks! I was bummed to find out the park closed at 5 and not 6 like I thought, but we had packed in a pretty full day, Jude was tired and I was ready for rest too.

Thankfully, we had already decided to book a hotel room for that night because the drive is a bit of a long one and we came home the next day after a bit of a frolic in the hotel’s rather cold pool. I wish more hotel’s had heated pools!! Haha.

Thanks for reading,
Katie ☙

Posted in Parenting, Travel

June’s Vacation Part 2

I really wrote part one waaaaay back in what? July? I guess pancreatitis has been absorbing more of my life than I thought. Anywhoooo….on with the show.

wpid-20140606_150133.jpgEvery trip “back east” has to have a stop at the Nubble. We always drive by and spend an hour or so, take a few pictures and just enjoy the simplicity of this classic landmark. Jude was memorized by the water washing against the rocks, a few seagulls taking baths in tide-pools and the fishermen more than he was by the lighthouse, but that’s okay. He got to view this amazing landmark and we snapped off a few family photos to scrapbook later. Of course, we went down the street a bit to have some ice cream afterwards because that’s just what this family does. I had the sherbet and had to eat it quickly before it melted. This pic looks like it was chilly, but when the sun came out, it was actually quite warm!

wpid-20140607_091334.jpgI can’t remember if it was the next morning or not, but we went to pick out some old fashioned donuts one morning. There is nothing like a place that still hand makes their own donuts AND they were huge!! It was torture waiting until we drove from Maine to New Hampshire to spend the weekend with family before we got to crack open that box and eat a donut (or two) for “brunch.”

Below is the view from my husband’s uncle’s back yard!! There is literally no contest which is the better view. I’d move to the east in a heart beat if we could find gainful employment! I’m so done with just looking a dry desert dirt. It’s October here right now and it’s 94 degrees. I’m so done with sun! I want weather!!

wpid-20140607_123444.jpgAfter that fun-filled family weekend, we drove up to Portland, Maine and went on the “Duck tour.” Jude was a little apprehensive about a vehicle that also went in the water (he proclaimed “WE’RE GOING TO GET ALL WET” as we entered the ocean), but once he realized we were going to be fine, he settled down and enjoyed the sea faring. This was an awesome tour to see much of Portland in a short period of time. The architecture was also something great to see!

Oh, and QUACK QUACK!! 🙂

Thanks for reading,
Katie ☙

Part 3 coming soon!