Sunday, October 04, 2009

Sand Castle Contest at Corona del Mar

Today we did a couple of things. One of them was a trip to Corona del Mar for the annual Sand Castle Contest. It was so much fun and the sand sculptures are amazing!

Take Care.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Lake Elsinore Storm Baseball Team Article Link

Minor League baseball games, in my opinion, are great fun, especially at the Lake Elsinore Storm stadium. Compared to the other Southern California teams, the Storm offers a unique experience that creates lasting fun memories for everyone in the family at every home game.

Below is a link to an LA Times article that will give you a glimpse into the world you enter as you pass through the front gates at the stadium. Enjoy!,0,7975955,full.column

Lake Elsinore Storm Baseball article link,0,7975955,full.column

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Troop 547 Night at the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes

Tonight the Girls Scout troop got to go to a minor league baseball game at the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. They got to march in a parade before the game started! They had so much fun that they took all their energy to their seats with them and partied like teenagers together! These girls love each other so much and they are having a blast socializing in their very own world. They are leaving the game tonight with some very happy memories. It's giving all of the parents here a warm and fuzzy feeling to watch them having such a good time together. And, oh yeah, there's a game going on, too!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Never Underestimate the Mind of a Child

On Friday night we were at the Temecula Children's Museum for a special Friday night event in the Inventor's Series called The Great Build. The objective was to link up different shaped PVC pipes together and shoot miniature marshmallows through them. Adults and children were in the dining room creating wild-looking contraptions and ended up competing against one another shooting for distance.

There was one group of families that decided to take it to another level. The contraptions they made were amazing and they could shoot the marshmallows so far that we decided to take the inventions outside to shoot the marshmallows across the ravine.

The kids and parents were super excited and their competitveness grew once we got to the fence that bordered the ravine. Suddenly, the wind kicked up and gusts blew right in our faces. So, everyone thought that it would be a good idea to use the wind in our favor to shoot for the ultimate distance. The marshmallows went flying! Then, people started taking their contraptions apart to redesign them to make them work even better. What fun! After awhile, though, the marshmallows were getting too wet to shoot because they landed too many times on the wet grass.

At this point, I asked the kids what we could do to solve the problem without getting new marshmallows. Everyone looked at me with priceless, blank expressions on their faces. So, I said, "What if we go inside and put one of the marshmallows in the microwave for 30 seconds? What would happen to the marshmallow? Also, would it then shoot farther than before or not at all? Then this adorable six-year-old, named Kirra, immediately came up with an answer. She explained that the marshmallow would expand in the microwave and it would not shoot as far because it would become a different shape in the microwave. Then, a father of another child said, "Well, what happens to sugar when it's heated? and his son said, "It melts!". So I said, "It looks like we have another competition. Let's go inside and test our theories." So, we all walked back inside the museum (there must have been about 15 of us), and gathered around the microwave. I put one of the wet marshmallows on a paper towel
and set the timer for 30 seconds. Everyone was watching closely and shouting, "It's going to melt!, No! It's going to expand! Watch!" Then suddenly, it grew. Everyone's eyes grew, too. "The little girl is right!" they said. We all counted down the last 10 seconds out loud together and when I took it out, it was obvious that Kirra was right. The father who thought it would melt was actually humbled by this brilliant six-year-old and admitted that he thought for sure he was right and that he believed, at the time, Kirra couldn't have possibly understood her theory before we tested it. He learned something from this little girl: never underestimate the mind of a child. I think that, now, he looks at his son a little differently, too, because he then started asking him how to design a better marshmallow shooting contraption to make the next marshmallow shoot even farther than the last.

Congratulations, Kirra. Not only was your theory proven to be correct, but you humbled at least one adult who confidently thought he knew the answer. Good job using your creative reasoning abilities and being confident even in the face of an over-confident (and wrong) adult!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

2009 Annual Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival

On June 6, we went to the Temecula Valley Balloon Festival. We heard about it last July, just after we moved there, and it sounded so exciting that it became the one annual event that we've anticipated all year. It became one of those things that we've looked forward to so much that, if we only got to see it one time in our lives, we would be happy. As it turned out, it was worth every moment of the anticipation and more.

As I've said in my previous posts, Temecula is an amazing city. There is a wonderful sense of feeling connected and being involved with the community is so fulfilling, personally, that we feel like, not only are we a part of it, but it has become a part of us. To someone who hasn't experienced Temecula, I would suggest that they go to the Balloon Festival because it exemplifies, in a nutshell, exactly what Temecula is all about.

The Balloon Festival was located off Hwy 79, in the heart of Wine Country and overlooking the rolling hills, at Lake Skinner. It's a very large area away from the city and set in the hills away from it all. We've never traveled up there before, so it was nice to see the old wagon trails, an abandoned one-room schoolhouse, and other remnants of history that were left behind during the pioneer days. The road is peaceful and winds through time as it travels through the city, Wine Country, then into the quiet, beautiful hills. As we got closer, we ran into some traffic, so it took us about an hour to get to where we could park the car at about 6:00.

Let me say, before I go on, that before we started our drive up Hwy 79, we stopped off at our favorite place, Old Town Temecula, for a few hours. They were having a Japanese Children's Matsuri event on Main St., right behind the place that is dear to our hearts, the Temecula Children's Museum. It was a wonderful experience and, of course, we spent time with our friends there and enjoyed some Japanese culture with food, children's activities, and photo opportunities.

So, back to the Balloon and Wine Festival. When we got there, the weather was in the low 60's, so we were grateful that we brought jackets and blankets to sit on. We were all set up to enjoy the concerts, the sights, and the flavors of the event that we've planned on for so long.

Combining wine tasting and wonderful food with music, Saturday's music featured Sugar Ray, Caitlin Crosby, Patty Smyth and Scandal, and Starship. Pechanga Indian Casino was one of the major sponsors and they set up one of the two stages for the concerts. The festival also offered wine and food pairing as a gourmet dining option with four courses prepared by local executive chefs and paired with Temecula's award winning wines.

The kids had a special fair set up near the wine stage and the balloon launch area. There, they had face painting, a petting zoo, pony rides, exotic animals, air slides, games, and lots of activities that the kids could spend the entire day and night doing if they wanted to.

Above are some pictures of the exotic animal exhibit. Along with a these beautiful birds, they also had a baby alligator, a monkey, a 55 lb. snake, a kangaroo, a huge iguana, and other wild-looking animals.

After we spent some time in the kids area, we walked over to the vendor area, which was huge. There were hundreds of vendors set up in white tents that were selling everything from art, bath and beauty products, body art, clothing, collectibles, children's stuff, fashion accessories, health care, home decoration, home improvement, insurance and realtors, jewelry, non-profits, outdoor stuff, prepackaged food, sunglasses, wine related items, and other miscellaneous stuff. This area was like a big outdoor swap meet!

As it got later, we decided it would be a good idea to head back over to our blanket and wait for the balloon glow. We were on the grass right in front of one of the concert stages, so we got a good spot. The night sky looked wild as the balloonists unloaded the baskets and balloons from their vans. The corporate balloonists that were setting up were: Cayman Islands, Embassy Suites Temecula, Farmers Insurance, Lake Havasu City, Pechanga, Smokey Bear, The Grape Escape Balloon Adventure, and Wilson Creek (who had a champagne bottle-shaped balloon).

Quick, move the blanket! The balloons are going up! What we didn't realize was that one of the balloons was going up on top of our blanket, so we had to back everything up about 20 feet. We had no idea how good our spot was until this started happening!

Because of our good positioning, though, I was able to get a couple of pictures of the balloonists firing up the ballons - from the inside! As you can imagine, it was freakin' hot in there! Then, the magic started happening:

Within a few minutes all the balloons were up and being fired along with the beat of the music from the concert on stage. This was amazing!! It's difficult to explain the magnitude of the excitement here. Unfortunately, the pictures don't show how excited the crowd was, the sound of the music, the energy of the balloons, and the build up to this. This is just one of those experiences that you really need to be there for to fully understand how magnificent this experience was.

It all ended so quickly, too. When we walked back to the van, we noticed a sea of cars, all trying to get out at the same time. There must have been several thousand of them. Instead of trying to move the van into a line, we decided to put the seats down and relax - for a couple of hours - until the traffic started to move. In the meantime, I got couple of pictures. The first one was taken from the roof of the van with my camera set at 3200 ISO with no flash. It is the champagne bottle balloon; the last balloon standing. The next picture is a small portion of the sea of cars all waiting to make their way back through the hills toward the city on the two-lane highway.

This was a truly unbelievable and unforgettable experience. As long as we live, we will look back at this with a smile and be so grateful that we had the opportunity to experience this together as a family. Maybe next year, we'll be able to go again. If not, then we hope that all of our friends and family will be able to go because, like I said, it was an amazingly unforgettable experience that we will smile about remembering for as long as we live and we know that others will feel the same. Not bad for only $20 per person, no matter what room you might have in your budget, especially in this rough economy; the bills can wait.