Orange Picking at Irvine Ranch Outdoor Educational Center

ORange Picking at Irvine Ranch Outdoor Educational Centerwe are so lucky to live in Orange County…with the beautiful weather and the opportunities to explore the nature around us. getting outdoors and enjoying unique adventures is our family’s  favorite thing to do. so, when we found out that you could go orange picking in Orange County at the Irvine Ranch Outdoor Educational Center, we decided that would make a fun family outing. it’s called U-Pick Sundays!
The Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center

the Irvine Ranch Outdoor Educational Center is a 210-acre outdoor education center, owned and ran by the Orange County Council, Boy Scouts of America. it is located within Irvine Regional Park, and  features half-day through five-day academic and recreational programming. it focuses on a hands-on approach to outdoor education to allow participants to explore the outdoors while developing creativity, leadership skills and a respect for the environment. the academic programs for K-12 grades focus on science and social studies while also meeting standards in language arts, math, physical education and visual and performing arts. on the weekends and in the summer months, The Ranch features traditional recreational summer camp activities, science camps and programs designed to meet the needs of youth oriented organizations. it’s a pretty awesome place!

at The Ranch, there’s an orange grove and garden. and they have invited the public out to the Ranch for U-Pick Sundays! it’s a great opportunity to get back to the roots of Orange County and experiencing the chance to harvest some of the tastiest citrus you have ever tried. for $15 you will get a reusable bag that you can fill with delicious navel oranges. or you can fill a lunch bag with mouth-watering mandarins and sweet clementines for $4. if you want to come back for more oranges, reuse your bag on another U-Pick day for just $12/bag. citrus is a winter crop, so the opportunity to pick your own oranges is only available for a handful of weekends. so don’t miss your chance! 

Irvine Ranch Orange GroveOrange on a branchonce you get set up with a bag, the hosts will take you to the orange grove and show you around. they will tell you which fruit is which and how to pick it. the boys were was very interested to learn about the different types of oranges and citrus. you are even allowed to try some of the fruit as you pick, to help you decide which you want. all of it was pretty delicious….and the smell….AMAZING!!!!!
Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center WorkersOrange County Orange GrovesPicking Lemons in the OCPicking Oranges at Irvine Regional ParkDad Peeling and OrangePicking Oranges at Irvine Parkyou are also allowed to pick lemons which can be included as part of the oranges that fill your bag for no extra charge, so if you want a couple lemons, or half oranges half lemons, you are welcome to do that.
Picking Lemons in Orange CountyFamily Fun Picking Oranges Jackson holding and OrangeKyle Parkin in an Orange GroveWhere to pick Orange in Southern CaliforniaFarm Fresh Oranges in Orange County besides picking oranges, the hosts at the Irvine Ranch Outdoor Educational Center also gave us a lesson in o.j. making. they had crates of oranges that we could use to try our hands at orange squeezing. the boys loves this and were so excited to taste the freshly squeezed orange juice they helped create. i can tell you, it did taste wonderful. it was so sweet and tasty. and before we headed out for the day, we explored the ranch and enjoyed the scenery.Fresh Squeezed OJ in Orange County Orange Crates at IROECHistory of Orange County Orange GroveLandscape or IROEC Orange GroveOrange TreesVann Parkin in an Orange Grove

we didn’t know what to expect when we went to pick oranges, but the experience exceeded our expectations. the boys really enjoyed learning about the different kids of oranges, exploring the groves and making their own orange juice. we had a fun time together as a family and being outdoors in the beautiful sunshine made for the perfect day. we headed home with a big bag full of sweet oranges which we have been enjoying all week.

U-Pick Oranges days at the Irvine Ranch Outdoor Educational Center are held on the 2nd & 4th Sundays of the month from 1-4 p through March, or until the orange crop is finished. you can find out when the next U-Pick Orange event is here, and after you pick your oranges and spend time in the IROEC orange groves, you can head over to Irvine Regional Park and ride the train, rent a surrey bike or paddle boat, and play in the park. there’s lot of fun things to do….making memories as a family is the best.

p.s. it costs money to enter Irvine Regional Park, but if you contact The Ranch at or call ahead at 714-923-3191 to get the gate code, the ranger may let you enter for no charge.Jill Parkin Blog in Orange County

Fun Giant Slides at Santiago Park Nature Preserve in Santa Ana

Parks With Slides in Orange County(Update: Unfortunately, the giant slides have been removed from the park.) it’s always fun to find fun hidden gems in Orange County. these giant slides can be found tucked into the hillside of Santiago Park Nature Preserve in Santa Ana. they are super long and probably some of the last old-school playground slides left in Orange County. Santiago Park Nature Preserve is a fairly large park located in the northeast corner of Santa Ana near the Discovery Cube, you can even walk there from The Cube. so if you are ever in the area, stop buy and check out these fun slides.

Santiago Park Nature Preserve is right across the street from my son’s orthodontist, so we are able to stop by every month or so and play. the slides are pretty awesome. the park is also large, with hiking and bike trails, a few playgrounds, a couple of run-down areas, and the Santiago Creek Wildlife and Watershed Center. there is also a large watershed that divides the reserve. most of the time, it is dried up, but when it rains, the water gets flowing pretty good, so be careful. a bridge near the lawn bowling center can help you get across to both sides of the reserve.

we visited the park during winter break, and had  pretty fun time exploring. the boys love checking out nature part of the park, so this time we didn’t go to the main playground. we decided to climb around on the old trees and check out what is left of the old playground that has been there for ages.

Santiago Park in Santa AnaSantiago Creek Park TreesExploring Santiago Creek Park in Orange CountyFun Santa Ana Park PlaygroundsOld School Playground in Orange CountyExploring Santiago Creek ParkOld Orange County PlaygroundSantiago Creek Park in Orange County

then we headed over to the giant slides. you will find the giant slides next to the Santiago Creek Wildlife and Watershed Center on the east side of the park. i just loved the beautiful natural landscape and large shade trees growing all over the reserve.

the best way to visit the giant slides is to either park near the center, where the slides are located, or you can take the hike over to them on the hiking trails and over the bridge. it is easiest to just drive into the Santiago Creek Wildlife and Watershed Center off of Memory Lane and park though.

Trails at Santiago Parkhere is the Santiago Creek Wildlife and Watershed Center.Santiago Creek Nature Centerand here are the giant slides!  there are two of them…and oh so much fun.Giant Slides in Santa Ana
there is a staircase between the two slides, and once you reach the top, it’s time to SLIDE!!!!

Epic Slides in Orange County
some people like to bring pieces of cardboard to slide down on. i think it makes you slide a little faster. but we always have fun without. the boys went again and again, and even the hubby enjoyed them a few times.

Best Parks in Orange County Big Slides at Santiago Creek ParkFun Santa Ana Parks Fun Parks in Santa Ana California Fun Slides in Orange County

the giant slides at Santiago Park Nature Preserve are super fun, and i recommend stopping by when you are in the area. they are something that we look forward to visiting when we are in the area. so fun!!!!!

Family Fun at Holiday Skate Center


the other day the kids were out of school and i had this crazy idea to take them roller skating at Holiday Skate Center. how fun would that be?!!

well, it probably would have been a lot of fun if my kids knew how to skate….or if they were a little more athletic…or something or other! i’m not trying to put my boys down, it’s just that roller skating just doesn’t seem to be their thing. LOL


three kids who fall down every time they stand up, falling on their tooshies, laying in the middle of the walkways, the roller skating rink, and a mom…using all her might to carry her kids around the rink, all while trying to keep herself from falling on her own tooshie…because even though her tooshie is pretty padded, a fall from the height of 5’10” will most likely not feel very good.

yep. that was us.

we just aren’t athletic. but, i give us the benefit of the doubt that this was their first time. and they did get A LITTLE better by the end of our skating session. the big plus was, i got a full week of workouts on this one outing. every muscle in my body hurt and i was drenched in sweat. so i guess in reality it was a win. and don’t get me wrong, we did have fun, and some laughs…it just was A LOT harder than i remembered skating to be. i guess i really am getting old.

i hope our experience doesn’t scare you from trying roller skating though. i just wanted to be honest about our experience. everything we do doesn’t always end up picture perfect, and not all activities are for everyone.


there were A LOT of families having a blast. i even saw little ones as young as three skating all over the place. it really reminded me of the times i went to the skating rink as a kid. so many fun memories. Holiday Skate Center has that great retro feel. here are some fun photos of our outing there. you would have never guessed our crazy experience from these photos.


we rented our skates and started off trying them out on the carpet, which was a great idea. it was really easy to skate on the carpet. and we probably should have stuck to the carpet. it was a tease. skating on the roller rink was A LOT more difficult for the boys. wow those rollers are fast. much faster than i remembered.


it took my oldest a pretty long time to get around the entire rink. i was so proud of him for trying over and over after all those spills.


and after realizing that the skating thing was going to be much harder for the boys than i thought, i decided i better rent the little skating walkers for them. this was definitely the best decision of the day. it allowed me to help them get around without having to physically lift them up.


and my middle boy actually started to enjoy skating. he was the one who didn’t want to leave. he started getting the hang of it, and i bet after a few times of going, he will be good at it. then my dreams of taking my boy skating will be fulfilled. i for one, enjoyed skating. after a few time around the rink, i was back to my old-school skating self. i could see myself going back as a date night without the kids.


the other boys were just as happy to hang out in the snack bar and play video games, which worked out to my advantage so that i could further help Kyle who was really getting the hang of it.


all in all, if we would have the chance to do this again we would! it is fun to try new things even if they don’t end up to being your thing. who knows, we could have tried it and they could have been phenomenal. but just not this particular day.


Holiday Skate Center is located in Orange off of the 55 freeway at Chapman Avenue. admission to skate is $6-7 per skater. skate rentals are $3 and skate mates (walkers) are $5. parents who aren’t skating can go in for free, and you are allowed to walk with your child on the rink without putting on skates. make sure to check the website for public skate session times. there are special times designated for the public, kids under 10, adults and families. you can even have your birthday party there. now go have some fun at the roller rink!

have you taken your kiddies roller skating? tell us about your experience!


Monster Jam 2014!

this is a sponsored

it’s that time again!!!! being a mom of THREE boys, i write each year about this event. my boys look forward to it all year long, and we are excited to say that the wait is no longer…’s finally here!

Monster Jam !!!
roaring through Anaheim on Jan. 11, 29 & February 8th!


this afternoon, the boys were invited to check out the newest Monster Truck on the block. what a treat! this brand-new futuristic law enforcement inspired Monster Truck, is called “New Earth Authority” and it was COOL!! they also got to meet its driver, Oregon Police Lieutenant Norm Miller. this NEA truck will be making its’ Anaheim debut, tomorrow, Saturday, January 11th at Angel Stadium.

the boys loved everything about New Earth Authority….


its body was shiny silver and pretty futuristic looking.


and those tires!  they were enormous. you bet we will be at Monster Jam to see its debut.


for the upcoming weekends, SoCal motor sports fans will get to experience a massive collection of the world’s best monster trucks battling it out in the ultimate event of high-octane speed, racing and destruction as Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam® returns to Angel Stadium in Anaheim for another season of dirt-flying, high-energy events between January 11th – February 8th, 2014.One of the most popular touring family entertainment sporting events in the world, the Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam is a high-flying, car-crushing explosive event of demolition, speed and powerful stunts with the world’s best monster trucks and drivers whose skills provide an awesome spectacle of “rock-and-roar” that will bring fans to their feet cheering for more!

this year’s incredible truck lineup is highlighted with appearances of fan-favorite trucks including Monster Jam powerhouses and World Finals Champions GRAVE DIGGER® and MAX-D®. 
BATMAN™ (featuring the return of veteran driver John Seasock),
EL DIABLO℠ (driven by SoCal native JP Ruggiero)
 *trucks subject to change; please visit to see which trucks will be appearing at each Anaheim event  

Monster Jam is one of the most popular touring family entertainment sporting events in the world, Monster Jam is a high-flying, car-crushing explosive event of demolition, speed and powerful stunts with the world’s best monster trucks and drivers whose skills provide an awesome spectacle of “rock-and-roar” that will bring fans to their feet cheering for more!

Pit Party – in addition to this world-class truck racing and freestyle competition, fans can come to the stadium early to enjoy the Party in the Pits pre-show experience – this gives fans unparalleled access to view their favorite trucks up-close, meet the star drivers for autographs and take lots of photos!

the entire experience is not to be missed…adults and kiddies alike will have a blast!

wanna go? here’s the info…..

Monster Jam
Angel Stadium
2000 Gene Autry Way, Anaheim, CA 92806

saturday, january 11th at 7:00 pm
saturday, january 25th at 7:00 pm
saturday, february 8th at 7:00 pm

pit party
open from 3:00 pm – 5:30 pm prior to each show
Pit Passes are required for entry and can be purchased for $10 at or the Angels Box Office.

Adults – $25, $35 or $45
kids (age 2-12) $10 each select seating
total access pass – $75

**above ticket prices are advance purchase only; all tickets are $2 more day of show. tickets subject to convenience and handling fees.

Discount tickets of $3 off Adult tickets are available at Jiffy Lube Auto Parts locations


{disclaimer: sandy toes & popsicles received complimentary tickets to Monster Jam in return for posting about the event. however, we would have gone either way because this our most favorite activity of the year. we love Monster Jam.}

75 Christmas and Holiday Events for Kids and Families in Orange County

75 Family Holiday Events in Orange Countyclick here for the updated event list

the holiday season has arrived here in Orange County and events are beginning to pop up all around Southern California!  i have compiled a list of over 75 Holiday Events in Orange County, including Christmas events, Hanukkah events and winter celebrations.  all of these events are family-friendly, and take place around the OC and SoCal this holiday season.

so get your calendar out and pick the ones that look the most fun for you and your family. get ready to make this wonderful season one that your family remembers! (be sure to check back here, as more events will be added to the list as they are announced.)

Santa Events
Irvine Park Railraod Christmas Train to Santa
November 29 – December 23, 2013  | Irvine Park Railroad
take this enchanting night ride through historic Irvine Regional Park to meet Santa Claus. Christmas train will depart from the twinkling train station and drop passengers off at the North Pole. children can share their wishlist with Santa and have a photo taken with him.

Santa Arrival Parade
November 29, 2013  | 12:00 – 3:00 p.m.  | Anaheim Town Square
Real snow play area, photos with Santa, Kids Craft Activity, Face Painting, Balloon Artist, Train Rides and more! FREE

Breakfast with Santa
December 21, 2013  | 10:00 – 12:00 p.m.  | Anaheim Town Square
tell Santa your holiday wishes and enjoy seasonal music and a traditional breakfast buffet. A to-go candy buffet and Santa photo souvenir are included. Parent supervision is required throughout Santa visits and breakfast.

Pictures with Santa in the Disney Gazebo
Weekends starting November 29, 2013  | 12:00 – 6:00 p.m.  | Rogers Gardens
bring in your children and take a professional photo with Santa Claus. Santa will be in the original Disneyland bandstand gazebo waiting to hear every child’s wish for this Christmas season. FREE

• Fashion Island Santa Hours
• MainPlace Mall Santa Hours
• Brea Mall Santa Hours
• The Shops at Mission Viejo Santa Hours

Holiday Light Displays in the OC
• Nellie Gail Road in Laguna Hills
• Candy Cane Lane | El Corzo Street in Rancho Santa Margarita
• Birch Street in Brea
• Belquest Drive in Lake Forest

Read More…