Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Summer in Temecula

Let me start off by saying that Temecula is the best place we've ever lived. If I had known how exciting it would be to live here before we moved, I would have saved myself some serious grief. That's ignorance for you! Having lived in So Cal my whole life, I have only driven through Temecula on the way to the Indian Casino's many years ago. If I had only stopped the car once in awhile to see what was around me, I would have appreciated all the life out here that I've missed.

Picking up from my last post on July 4, I'd like to write about everything we've been doing. I'll try not to sound like I'm a poster child for the Temecula Tourisim Board, but it will be hard!

On July 5, we went to a minor league baseball game at the Lake Elsinore Storm baseball stadium. It was an evening game and the weather was warm, but not hot. We used it as a field trip because we're homeschooling Ashley and we thought we could teach her about the sport and other subjects that would apply to it. As it turned out, Ashley really loved it. She not only got an educational experience out of it, but she also had fun watching the mascots jump around and dancing to the music between innings.

The next day, I found out that the hotel we're staying in has a relationship with Gold's Gym. They offer a free membership to anyone who presents a room key. Isn't that cool? So, I went to Target, bought a pair of workout shorts and started working out there almost everyday since then.

Also, as a benefit of staying in this hotel, we get tourist information about what to do, what's going on, etc. I picked up some flyers in the lobby, brought them back to our room and started filling my calendar with all the exciting events to go to. Since we've been walking around Old Town quite a bit since the Fourth of July, we are thrilled with all the events they have to offer.

First, the City of Temecula has Family Activities on Mondays - and it's free! On July 7th they had Family Karaoke Night. We skipped that one because we're not into karaoke. However, we did go to the Family Feud event on July 14. This was so fun! They set up a real stage, just like the one that you see on tv. We played against two other families and we had the time of our lives. Next Monday, July 21, they are having Snack Shack. We're going to learn how to make a couple of healthy snacks and they supply all the ingredients. So, each week we can look forward to doing something different together until the end of August.

Second, we joined a group called Fitness in Temecula. There are two groups that meet Monday - Friday at 6:30 to walk around a park. After you complete a certain number of miles, you get prizes.

Third, every Thursday evening there is a tradition of Jazz concerts in Old Town. All the stores stay open late, there's wine and cheese pairing, outdoor patio restaurants, etc. We went last Thursday and had a great time. The three of us walked all over Old Town and shared a rootbeer float while sitting across the street from the band that was playing. The weather was perfect, so that made the experience even better. We're looking forward to more Thursday nights there this summer!

Fourth, also on Thursday nights, the City of Temecula has a Summer Sunsets Concert Series. We've heard that those are a lot of fun, so we'll have to check it out some time.

Fifth, the City of Temecula has Summer Moonlight Movies in the Park ever Friday evening during July and August. Here's the description: "The movie series will be featured at various park sites within the City. Festivities begin at 6:30 pm with kids crafts and games. Movies begin at dusk. Bring a blanket, low back lawn chairs and a picnic dinner and come on down to the park for a family movie under the stars." We haven't got to that one yet, but we plan to.

Sixth, there's Friday Night at the Museum. This is at the Imagination Workshop at the Temecula Children's museum. Here's a description of it: "Home of Professor Phineas T. Pennypickle, Ph.D., scientist, time traveler and inventor of wacky and wonderful contraptions that amaze, delight and educate children and adults alike. Every surface of wall, ceiling and furniture is occupied by pulleys, gears, cables, notes, blueprents and stuff. There are secret passageways and puzzles, machines and gizmos. Professor Pennypickle and his faithful little friend Beaker have lots of fun activities planned for you every month." I only costs $5.00 per person and that's a bargain. On July 11, they had an Ice Cream Social. We learned how to make our own ice cream in a baggie and enjoy it with lots of toppings. Yum! We also went on a scavenger hunt that took us throughout the museum for two hours! This coming Friday, July 18, they are doing Secrets of the Senses. The description says: " Discover how smell, hearing, tast, sight, and touch can help you perceive the world - this will be an evening of experiments that will engage ALL your senses." We're not going to miss this one! There's a different event at the mueseum each week and they all look like fun.

In between all of this we've discovered a few things on our own.

We accidentally found the Temecula Valley Museum about a week ago. This place is worth revisiting. It has two stories that exhibits the largest collection of local history. In print, it sounds boring. In person, however, it's not. They emphasize experiences for kids "to develop a deeper understanding of local, natural and social history that explores different time periods and a variety of topics. Kids learn about historic preservation, handle museum artifacts, meet historians, geologsts and anthropologists, make take-home crafts, and participate in group activies, period games and historical field trips." They only ask for a $2.00 donation, but it's not required.

Last Saturday, we went to a Farmer's Market in Old Town. As it turns out, they have this every Saturday morning along with free horse-drawn trolley rides. There were countless farmers selling produce, restaurants that set up tents cooking up all kinds of food from all over the world, lots of opportunities to go junking, face patinting for the kids, etc. Derek and I used this as another opportunity to educate Ashley on a whole variety of subjects. It was a lot of fun and we're going back there this Saturday.

Later that same day, there was a parade in Old Town near the Children's Imagination Museum celebrating New Orleans. There were people all dressed up in costume walking on stilts, circus-like performers, jazz music, and all the things that you might see during Mardi Gras. We took Ashley there and got a few pictures.

On the way back to the car, we found a store that only sells Olive Oil and they have a bar where you can go Olive Oil tasting for free. Have you ever thought that you could go Olive Oil tasting? Out of curiosity, we wandered in there and found some wonderful stuff!

We scheduled another fun activity that evening, but we were too tired to go. Every Saturday night at this place called Longshadow Ranch, they have something called Bonfire Saturday Night. There is wine tasting, BBQ, movies in the barn for the kids, hay rides, and a band. It sounds like it would be a lot of fun, so we're going to have to try to get there soon.

On Monday, I took Ashley to Gold's Gym with me. They have a kids aerobics class for a half hour where they use a parachute, lots of balls, and an obstacle course to give the kids a fun workout. Ashley had so much fun that she didn't want to leave! Like most of the other things we do together, this is free, too!

July 8 was an interesting day. The Wildomar Library was having a magic show with animals for the kids, so we took Ashley out there for a few hours. The only thing was, when we got there, there were a couple hundred people waiting for the magic show to begin and there was no way we could get in. So, we went inside the library and discovered that they have a summer reading program for the kids that rewarded them for every three books they've read. We signed her up and found three books right away and started our list.

This evening, I believe anyway, we're going hiking at the Santa Rosa Plateau. We've never been there before, but everyone I've talked to about it says that it's amazing. There are lots of trails with different elevations, wildlife, and different kinds of scenery, based on the trail you take. There are also some old abandoned adobe homes to explore and the visitors center gives you tons of educational information about what you'll find on your path.

Temecula also offers hot air balloon rides. We missed an event on July 11 called "A Glow in the Park." It was a family night at the park with live music, crafts for kids, hot air balloons glowing at dusk, and a movie. I hope they do this again so we can experience all the hot air balloons lit up against the night sky. Maybe someday this summer we'll be able to go up in a hot air balloon over wine country, too. They take you over wine country and it's supposed to be a spectacular experience.

In between all of these activities, Derek is sucessfully running our online newsstand and Ashley and I are homeschooling. The newsstand sales are doing all right it's making enough to survive. We may not be wealthy, but at least we're having fun! Ashley just finished a whole 1st grade workbook in a month, she is almost done with phase three of her phonics program, she's got her addition and subtraction flashcards basically memorized, we're doing science experiments, studying the geography of the globe and the animals that live on each continent, and the history of the U.S.

As you can see, this summer has a lot to offer. We are in a transitional period this summer, and we're making the most of it. Before moving here, I thought this summer was going to be a mess. As it turns out, we are having a summer that we will look back on with wonderful memories. This whole experience has shown us that life can be good!

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