Knott’s Season Passes Mean Year Round Fun For The Family! #SoakCityOC

We are lucky here in So Cal. We’ve got lots of great amusement parks and attractions (not to mention pretty damn awesome weather) right in our backyard. I’ve told you before how much the kids and I love Knott’s Berry Farm. It’s not too far down the freeway from us and has lots of fun rides and other things to do that the kids enjoy. We can go for the day or for just a few hours and it doesn’t cost us a fortune like another major amusement park that you find here in Southern California. Ahem.

This year, the kids are old enough (read: minimal whining, they can carry their own stuff, they can all swim without floaties) to check out Soak City at Knott’s.

Looking for a great deal on local fun? Check out Knott's Berry Farm! Knott's season passes are affordable and may even include admission to Soak City and free parking! With The Knott's Berry Farm Hotel right next door, you can make it an affordable getaway family weekend full of fun!

Soak City is a water-park that is perfect for the whole family. Big slides for the bigger kids and lots of slower/smaller slides and other activities for the smaller ones. I can’t wait to check it out when it opens on May 17, 2014! It’s right around the corner and the weather should be fantastic for water-parkin’!

Knott’s Season Passes

Since Soak is right next to Knott’s, why not make it a mini staycation and hit Soak City one day and Knott’s the next? Did you know that you can get Knott’s season passes? There are three different passes, and you can even break the cost down into 6 easy (and low!) payments. Prices range from $14 a payment to $32 a payment, depending on the pass that is perfect for your family. I think we are going to get the Knott’s Gold Season Pass which will allow us to visit both Knott’s AND Soak City for the rest of the year!

Looking for a great deal on local fun? Check out Knott's Berry Farm! Knott's season passes are affordable and may even include admission to Soak City and free parking! With The Knott's Berry Farm Hotel right next door, you can make it an affordable getaway family weekend full of fun!

And if you want to make a weekend out of it like I mentioned, you can stay at the Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel. It’s right next door to both Knott’s and Soak City, so after chasing the kids around, you can cool off, grab something to eat and some sleep, and do it all again the next day (especially if you have the Knott’s season passes!) The hotel also offers easy payment options. Check out the Knott’s Hotel vacation easy paying program for more details.

Looking for a great deal on local fun? Check out Knott's Berry Farm! Knott's season passes are affordable and may even include admission to Soak City and free parking! With The Knott's Berry Farm Hotel right next door, you can make it an affordable getaway family weekend full of fun!

We are super excited to be able (thanks to our friends at GigaSavvy!) to be checking out the hotel and Soak City when it opens in a couple of weeks. Stay tuned for a follow up on our mini staycation!

For more fun travel ideas and tips here in So Cal and around the world, check out my board Traveling on Pinterest.

DISCLAIMER: The opinions in this article are my own. I do not work for, or with, any brand mentioned in this article, nor do I have any official relationship with them. I have a relationship with GigaSavvy, for whom I create original editorial content.

One Of My Favorite Sounds: Waves

Long, long ago my friend Cameron asked me to guest post at her place. She asked me to write about something I loved about the beach. And so I did. Here’s the original guest post about one of my favorite things in the world: waves.



originally posted at Cameron D. Garriepy, July 2010

I absolutely adore everything there is to adore about the beach. The waves. The smell. The feel of the wind and salt on my skin. The sand in my toes and how it leaves a light, fine dust on everything. The thing I love the most about the beach is listening to it. Do you know what I mean? Laying in the sand, burying my toes into its warmth, and just closing my eyes. Listening to the kids playing at the shore line. Listening to the sand crunch as people walk by. The birds circling above, calling to each other…or whatever it is that birds make noise about.

And of course my favorite sound to listen to is the waves. I could listen to waves crashing 24/7 and never get tired of hearing it. Whether they are gently breaking along the shore, or angrily crashing away on rocks, I can’t think of a more calming sound.

When I was pregnant with my son (who is almost three now), I had a hard time falling to sleep. So I used to put my iPod on and listen to a recording of waves from a CD my sister gave to me. Before the second set of waves began, I would always fall asleep.

My husband and I used to travel a bit, and so the sound of waves always reminds me of being on vacation. Of being carefree. Of being lazy and relaxed. Of no real responsibility. Of sleeping in and staying up late. Of sleeping throughout the night, uninterrupted. These things are a thing of the past now that we have kids!

Waves remind me of a trip to Fiji that we took in 2004. We were on a small resort island. Our bure (it’s like a little hut) sat on stilts overlooking the beach. The entire bure had walls of windows, that went from the ceiling to the floor. We left those windows open the entire time we were there. So we awoke and fell asleep to the sound of the ocean every morning and night. It was heaven!

Every meal took place in the main dining area…a huge bure that also sat on stilts directly above the water. It had all these private, secluded decks so that each couple could have their meals privately if they chose not to eat in the main dining bure. And so we even shared our meals with the waves.

My husband and I scuba dive (or, more accurately, we used to scuba dive). Do you know that you can hear the waves and ocean moving under the water? It’s the most peaceful sound! I don’t even know how to describe it other than it sounds like waves breaking on the shore, but in slow motion.

I really love everything there is to love about the beach and the ocean, but by far, my favorite thing is and forever will be the sound of the waves.

photo credit: esther** via photopin cc

Our 10th Wedding Anniversary Getaway Weekend

10 years ago, Jason and I said “I Do” in front of family and friends. I remember the day like it was yesterday. It was so special and magical. It was everything that I wanted it to be. I really can’t believe it’s already been 10 years.

And so much has happened in those 10 years that have passed so fast. We have a family now. I don’t work anymore. Jason’s in the best shape of his life, and I’m still trying to get in shape.

But one thing that hasn’t changed is how in love I am with him.

Our actual anniversary was this past Friday, which is when we left for our first getaway weekend without the kids in way too long. He surprised me on Thursday by telling me he’s taking me to the central coast for the weekend to Paso Robles for wine tasting and fantastic food.

We left early Friday morning, and drove straight up to Hearst Castle, about 45 minutes north of Paso Robles. I have been there before, but he had not. If you’ve never been, it’s really an amazing and beautiful place to visit.

Of course I wanted to see the wine cellar. 100+ year old bottles of wine, some still corked, were on display. Pretty cool to see!

We then headed to our hotel to freshen up and to The Range in Santa Margarita, a local treasure that they like to keep secret. There’s no website, they aren’t on Facebook or Twitter, you can’t make reservations and they only take cash. And if you didn’t know it was there, you’d drive right passed it. The food was AMAZING. I mean AMAZING. Everybody was so friendly (our waiter actually put together of wineries we shouldn’t miss) and we were lucky enough to get seated right away. They serve a great selection of local wines. We can’t wait to go back.

The following day was a day of wine tasting. Now I knew that harvesting season had started around the country, but had been told that harvest in Paso Robles was still a couple of weeks away. I’ve always wanted to go during harvest, and was bummed to miss it.

We ended the day at one of my favorite wineries in the country, Eberle Winery. We had scheduled a VIP tour and tasting and I was excited to get down into the wine caves to check them out. I hadn’t been there in over 15 years, and it’s changed a lot since then. When we got to the winery, I noticed grapes that had been harvested! To say I was excited was an understatement.

We were introduced to the winemaker, who told us he was just getting ready to start the process of getting the grapes off the stems and crushing them to start the winemaking process. We got to watch!

It was such an awesome surprise to be able to be at my favorite winery and watch the process. Followed of course by tasting lots of their awesome wines. It was a perfect afternoon.

We ended the day with dinner at one of the best restaurants in the area: Bistro Laurent. Now I loves me some eating and fine dining, but I will admit I’m not a very adventurous eater. We sat down and Jason asked our waitress what she recommended. She recommended a four course meal, but said just let Chef Laurent surprise you. To me? This sounded dangerous. There were things on the menu I would never order. But thanks to several glasses of wine at Eberle, I said what the hell and said okay.

Warm lobster salad. I would never order it on my own because I’m not a huge fan of lobster. It was beautiful and velvety and not at all fishy and perfect.

Ling Cod and Lentils. I’m not a fan of fish so again wouldn’t have ordered it. It was over the top good. I wanted to ask for more!

Lamb Chops. No way in a million years would I ever order this. No way. And it was much better than I expected it to be, but I still wouldn’t order them in the future.

Figs with creme. To.Die.For.! It was the perfect ending to the perfect meal.

We can’t wait to go back for more wine tasting and eating. The central coast is stunningly beautiful and I could see spending every anniversary there. Thank you Jason for such a special weekend.

Lila & Mia’s First S’mores


Remember last year when I posted about Ethan eating his first s’more? It was love at first bite, and to be honest, I don’t know many kids that don’t like s’mores! So this year while camping in Kings Canyon, I thought it would be cool to have the girls try their first s’mores there.

Mia with a death grip on those Hershey's chocolate bars!

Once we explained to the girls what s’mores are and how we make them, they could hardly contain their excitement!

They were most excited about the Hershey’s chocolate and I’m pretty sure we could’ve busted that out all by itself and they would have been perfectly content.

But I wanted to capture them getting their first bites of an ooey-gooey marshmallow melting into that Hershey’s chocolate, all sandwiched between graham crackers. Because there really isn’t anything better, is there?

We had enough for everybody around the campfire to have a s’more or two.

Since most of the kids camping were way too little to be wielding sticks around and into the fire all at the same time, so to avoid any accidents we got my niece Nikki to help the kids make their marshmallows. A debate ensued over which is better: burnt or lightly toasted. I say burnt all the way.

The s’mores were constructed, and it was time for the girls’ first bites. And what better way to experience your first s’more than around a campfire, right? So I thought I’d catch the experience on video. The lighting is really bad, but you’ll get the idea. Here’s the girls taking their first s’mores bite.

And while in one of those big warehouse stores recently, I found this beauty:

Seems perfect if you are feeding the masses like we were. We do have a fire pit in our backyard…I might just have to bust this kit out as an occasional treat when the kids have been really good. Because let’s face it, for as fun and yummy as s’mores are, they sure are messy!

This post is part of my participation in the HERSHEY’S CAMP BONDFIRE campaign. All opinions expressed are mine.

We Are Back From Camping…Who Wants To Do My Laundry?

Yep, I survived camping for 8 days with the kids and no Jason. Did the kids have a blast? Yes! Was it a lot of work? Yep. Was there incessant whining and crying (by the kids, not me)? Yep. Did I want to pull my hair out and run screaming into the woods never to be seen again? A couple of times. But all in all, it was a great trip.

We were supposed to leave on Thursday, but my parents’ motor home’s air conditioning wasn’t working and so they needed to get it fixed. We ended up leaving on Friday morning around 3.

But we got smart this year…instead of waking up all of the kids and putting them in the motor home when we were ready to go, we let all the kids sleep in the motor home so all my dad had to do was get in and drive. No cranky kids, and the kids all slept until 8-ish, when we got out to have breakfast before starting up the mountain. And by the time we started up the mountain, they were all excited and on their best behavior.

This is what Lila looked like most of the week...not sure why we didn't call her Pig Pen, too

As soon as we got there, it seemed that the kids were automatically dirty. And they stayed that way all week. I started calling Mia “Pig Pen” and it Lila was like a dirt magnet. I was told that this is proof that the kids all had fun. I remember being dirty like that when I was little and not caring. They didn’t either.

Some of my family at the river hanging out under the bridge for some shade

The first couple of days it was HOT. 90+ degrees. We spent a lot of time at the river, the kids splashing around and building sand castles and the adults counting kids. In my delusional state that I might actually get some reading time in, I packed my Kindle. It never got opened once, though I did spend lots of time talking with my aunts and cousins about books we’ve read and want to read. Thank goodness for!

Playing on the hammock

The kids ran around with their cousins, went fishing, played poker, ate a lot of Otter Pops, colored, collected pine cones, constantly asked for snacks, dug in the dirt, had fun moving from campsite to campsite (my aunt counted that there were 50 of us in total), and did a lot of fighting with each other.

Nights consisted of dinner, then sitting around the campfire talking. We only had one night of campfire songs, and the girls finally tasted their first smores. My night ended with the girls asleep on my lap, and Ethan falling asleep in the chair next to me. I ended up staying up way later than normal to get some adult time away from the kids, and it was fun to hang out with my cousins. Fortunately, the kids slept better in the tent than they ever have at home…they all slept through the night until 7:30 or 8 in the morning. Neither of these things ever happen at home.

One thing that drove me nuts was the amount of time I spent in the bathroom. I swear Ethan would have to go and the girls would say they didn’t, so I would walk Ethan all the way to the restrooms only to come back and have the girls need to go. And then I’d get back and Ethan would have to poop. I probably spent a good portion of my time travelling to and from the bathroom and in the bathroom. Or so it seemed.

The kids got to see a deer and lots of squirrels, but no bears. My sister’s kids got to see one and so did my dad. I was bummed that I didn’t, until the morning we were leaving. As we drove out, I got to see a bear eating in between some trees. Nobody believes me though because I was the only one to see it. It’s kind of a running joke that if you are the only one to see a bear that it doesn’t count because nobody can back up your claim. But I did see it!

The fun that the kids had made the whole trip worth it. A week with no TV or other technology forced them to “go find something to do”, and they did. That got to see and spend time with family they rarely see. I already can’t wait to go again next year – and next year Jason is definitely going with us.

Now I’m off to tackle the mountains of laundry I still need to do…who wants to help?