Moreno Valley Museum, which apparently I have the wrong name


144 I tried to find the website to link to it, but I’m just getting information to a bunch of other museums based in air force bases, so that’s not what I’m  looking for.

This was fun, for me at least, it was an odd combination of natural history and societal history museum, which made for a fun combination.
They had a mini-zoo, which was essentially a herpetarium.  Hah!  How fun was it to be able to throw in that vocabulary word?  Even if I spelled it wrong.  Okay, fixed now, but spell check apparently doesn’t know what it is.  It’s a zoo devoted to snakes and amphibians.  Here Superman is petting a blue-tongued skink.

He was pleased as punch to pet something that had a blue tongue, blue being his favorite color.

Then they checked out the range of skulls and were amazed at the different sizes available.

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Princess loved the X-ray center and talking about the different bones, and the hugely overweight rabbit.  Seriously, it was huge.

We posed in front of the train, which when Danette was a kid and came here you were allowed to climb on.  Now, apparently, it’s a safety hazard and you have to view it behind bars (yes, I do sometimes think we protect our kids from injury too much).


Than we went into the other part of the museum and looked at all of their different animals.  The kids really enjoyed their “Hall of Mammals,” and looking at the odd combinations.  It was amusing.  Mostly it was Southern California and Desert animals, and then the random polar bear.  Really, I don’t know why.  They weren’t as interested by the birds and eggs.  That was boring.

However when we got downstairs to the history part of the museum, they did love the “house,” which is from the original power companies of the turn of the century and is where the term “in the dog house” came from.  So, I learned a lot of interesting things.  I found this room fascinating.  The kids mainly wanted to play running in and out of the house.

The not interesting part of the museum?  TWO rooms devoted to baskets and basket weaving.  I kept thinking about bad jokes about taking underwater basket weaving classes, but figured that would not be in good taste at that particular moment.  Yes, I can occasionally show restraint, and it rare enough I feel the need to point it out, so you can congratulate me.
I don’t know if this will be readable, that is a word right?  But, it really amused me.  I think it’s an editorial, or a newspaper article giving tips for riding on a stagecoach.  So it had suggestions like, don’t complain about the food, they’re giving the best they can get.  Don’t talk about gruesome things, or point out where someone was murdered, especially if a lady is present.  It was so amusing to read, so I’ve included it here for you to hopefully be able to read.

So all in all, it was a really fun museum to see.  Great for an afternoon adventure, and then we headed off to my next post: Build A Bear……..

San Diego Zoo part 2

As promised cute kids at a zoo.  And a cute baby.
My friend we went to visit is in the process of adopting her little girl.  She’s not allowed to put any pictures out on the web, but said it’s okay if her face is blocked out somehow.  So, I went through and put circles or what have you on her face.

Princess was convinced she needed to help baby Tigger and had so much fun coming over and reassuring the baby no one could get her.


Meanwhile, my kids continued their love affair with all things animal statue.



That bird statue is supposedly of a 6 foot tall bird that is not extinct.  It may have been taller, I’m not remembering it super clearly what they were saying, because it was rather hard to believe.  Of course, people also didn’t really believe in the platypus until a live sample was brought back.


At least this zoo understood kids are dying to climb on these statues, and didn’t try to discourage it.  We’ve been to some where they get all bent out of shape.  All I think when my kids get yelled at is: 1.  Don’t put it where kids can get to it easily, my kids leave statues alone that are roped off, and 2.  It’s highly unlikely that kids climbing on the statue will hurt it.  At least here they understood kids will climb on it, and set it up that way (notice the nice soft rubber for the kids to land on when they fall off).
Smart zoo people.
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And we had to try out all of the different masks.  The ones that cracked me up was the “Alien visitation theory scientist,” for all of the different theories and scientists for why the dinosaurs died out, so they hav444e that, but not a flood one?
I had a couple of hams all day long.  They enjoyed showing off for the camera.  Here they’re showing off on a pile of fossils.

Picture below is what the fossils are supposed to be of, the La Brea Tar Pits.

You have no clue how many tries it took to get both of them poking their head up at the same time.

471And headed home, poor Tigger was so tired out and ready to be home she cried the whole way back, almost an hour and a half and nothing would console her.  My kids had a solution for that.

Science Sunday: San Diego Zoo

305I’m doing this as a two part post.  Today will be the zoo, and the fun learning aspects of it.  Tomorrow will be cute fun pictures, because what’s a zoo without fun pictures of your kids.

The San Diego Zoo is a bit intimidating.  There’s like a million people there, and buses driving all over, so it’s sometimes a little scary figuring out where to go.  So we went for the wander around approach.

We had fun looking at the animals and figuring out where they lived.  For instance the kookaburra lives in Australia, and its call is used to discourage other birds from coming to places (I know they’ve used it in Texas).

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We spent a lot of time studying the meerkats.  There are all sorts of tunnels all throughout their enclosure that they’ve dug, and we were trying to figure out how the holes get filled back in.  I was wondering if they had someone doing that as their job, and Jeff theorized it probably just collapses from the weight of the dirt above.  Then I realized his theory made so much more sense.
The kids were excited to see Ring-tailed Lemurs because they see them all the time on “Penguins of Madagascar,” (actually I don’t think these are that particular breed, but a similar one), we were intrigued to see the different fruits and what have you that were left on the cage floor for them to eat (I’d show you the picture, but I was only able to get the monkey’s but, and that’s not so fun to look at).

One of my complaints about the zoo, is they set it up in the most realistic way possible, which meant you often couldn’t see the animals because of the way the cages were set up.  So, a lot of the animals turned into a hunt and peck to find them.  I think it took us a few minutes to find this wallaby (I think it’s a wallaby picture).
This rather intrigues me because these are baby flamingoes (the gray birds).  They turn pink because of the shrimp they eat, and these haven’t eaten enough yet.  I wonder if you fed an adult flamingo a different diet would it change color?  In theory it should.
Also, it was intriguing to see the island full of flamingo nests.  They’re about 2 feet tall and cone shaped.  It was so interesting to see.

We spent a long time discussing why many of the camels in the zoo had their humps laying over to the side like in this picture, and after looking at several different websites I found this one, which said basically it needs more food or water.  If it’s well fed and has enough both of the humps will be plumb and standing up.

I had this great video of one of the elephant caretakers explaining what she was doing, but you can’t really hear what she’s saying.  Basically one of the elephants (obviously that’s not a picture of the REAL elephant) had injured it’s leg, and she was waiting for him to come over so she could feed him a pail of bran and IB-profin to help with his pain and swelling.  The funny part is one of the other elephants in the enclosure knew it was there and kept trying to steal the pail from her, so she kept almost getting knocked over and then having to move the pail.

Oh, and something I wanted to make sure to mention.  In case you weren’t aware most zoos and museums on their websites have lesson plans to make your visits better, including suggestions of things to do before, during, and after your trip.  I didn’t really get to look at the San Diego Zoo’s site, but I know the Waco Zoo has a bunch of cool scavenger hunt things to do.  Just thought I’d let you know.

And now that you’ve read my wall of text, what’d you guys do?  I’m going to try my best to make it to everyone’s posts from the past few weeks now that I’m home, no guarantees I’ll make it this week, but I’m going to try………

Stay tuned tomorrow for cute pictures of the zoo, including an incredibly cute baby, who you won’t really get to see……

I visited a Seventh Day Adventist Church

IMG_0478 My college roommate, Danette, is a Seventh Day Adventist.  Which, according to my interpretation, which is of course completely wrong I’m sure, means she goes to church on Saturday, and they follow some of the Jewish rules.  Oh, and she’s essentially a vegetarian.






One thing I learned is they don’t have a children’s church during worship, so these two pictures are of my kids playing with the bags during worship.  Instead they have a story time for the kids before the sermon.  It kind of amused me because they have a “kid’s offering” where the kids run around and collect as many dollar bills from people as they can before coming up and putting them in the offering.  It was fun to watch the kids walk quickly from person to person holding up their dollar bills.




Here’s the boys getting ready to take their bags back out (service is over, so I felt free to use a flash).  The sermon was interesting because we came the week after the once every 5 years conference, and so the pastor was reporting on the results of that conference.




This of course, led to Jeff and I asking all sorts of questions about what the different points he brought up meant.  For instance they were talking about ordaining deaconesses, and we wanted to know what that meant.  Our church has Elders, and they lead the church, think of like a board of directors that are elected every 2 years.  A deacon or deaconess at her church is essentially a volunteer who is being recognized for their contributions to the church.  So, it’s not ordination, as in a pastor is ordained in the Catholic church, but instead a recognition ceremony (my rephrasing of her words).   So, it was a great way to end our visit with her, because I’ve been curious about her church since college, and this was my first real chance to visit one.  Aside from that one revival I went to with her in college, where they told us going to church on Sunday was the Mark of the Beast, and poor Danette was trying to crawl under the chair in embarrassment (remember that girl?).

Bearizona and getting to California

IMG_0269 So, I’m doing this a bit backwards.  I’m writing about today, and then going back and doing tomorrow.  Why?  Because I have some fun cool videos to share of bear cubs playing.  Actually, these are just a few of the videos, because if I did them all it’d take FOREVER to load.

And look!  It’s  a rare Ticia sighting, Batman had fun playing with my camera and took this picture of a very sun-burned me.  Seriously, it really hurts.  A LOT.



So, we went to Bearizona today.  It’s one of those drive through wildlife areas, and I was going back and forth about it, but it was really cool, and apparently it’s this brand new place that opened up in the Grand Canyon area that’s run by a family.  We had a lot of fun driving thorough and seeing bison, bears, sheep, burros, and a couple of different animals.


But, funny story about this place.  So obviously they have herds of animals that are loose.  Well, we drove through it 0nce, and the kids were so excited by seeing the bear cubs, they HAD to drive through again to see the big bears again.  So, as we’re driving through we get into the burro enclosure, and there’s these two burros who are biting at each other, and we joked about how they’re fighting.  Then, Jeff and I notice that the boy burro is, ummm……, IMG_0302happy.  Yeah, that’s how I’ll put it, happy.  Then he jumps up onto the girl…….  Hey kids, look over there, do you see a squirrel.  Yeah, that’s definitely a squirrel, no don’t look over at the donkeys.  Look a raven!


Luckily for us the kids did not seem to notice the rather energetic attempts at the expansion of the herd, so we didn’t have to get into THAT discussion.  Phew, crisis averted.  Of course that also meant that Jeff and I spent a fair amount of time after that with nervous giggles.

IMG_0285 But, the best part of this tour, and the reason I’m waiting forever for videos to upload was watching the bear cubs play.  I think we easily spent 30 minutes watching the cubs play and laughing at them, and then coming back and watching some more.


IMG_0284 Some things I learned about bears and bear cubs.  1.  Bears like fruit, not just that but the eat the whole thing, and they really like oranges.  2.  Bears eat lettuce.  3.  Bear cubs climb trees fast.  I watched those cubs get 30 feet in the air in less than 5 seconds.  4.  Because they move so fast, it is very hard to get a good picture of them (that and all of the tree branches in the way).  Oh, and 5.  Bears chew on trees a lot, to get to the insects they like to eat.


So, Jeff and I talked about how cool it is that they’re going to open a hotel there in a few years, so you could just stay there.  I’m thinking I remember reading about a similar type of hotel somewhere in Texas that has one of  the drive through wildlife things, so maybe I’ll look into that and see if I can surprise Jeff one weekend with staying there.  Because with the reaction of the kids to this one, I think they’d love it.


Awesome!  Video is done loading, and I think now I’ll get started on the other post, but I’m also thinking a hot bath to help the sun burn is in order.


And, obviously Jeff figured out how to fix my lap top because he’s just that smart.  Apparently I had a trojan virus and some such or other and a pretend virus program that was causing the whole problem.  All in all, very annoying.  I need to figure out where it came from because this is the same one I got on my lap top, but that was easier to solve.  But, problem is solved.  I don’t know how much commenting I”ll be doing for the next few days, because it’s going to be long nights now that we’re here in California.



I almost forgot to tell this story!  I can’t believe that.  So, as we got to the California border I got all excited thinking about going to the Welcome Center, and finally almost being to our destination.  Then as we get to the border, we get routed through a customs checkpoint to find out if we’re bringing in any fruit/vegetables/plants/or animals.  So after the rather unfriendly guy quizzed us, we continued on.  I’m looking for my welcome center, and it’s nowhere to be found.  But, we drive through the desert, and it’s a long ways before we see any sign of people really.  Finally after 150 miles we see, California Welcome Center this way.  So, we follow the signs to an outlet mall.  We get to the welcome center and it’s also doubling as the information center and bathrooms for the outlet mall.  I get in there and the lady somewhat acknowledges me.  I start looking at the brochures in there, and most of them are for Southern California, according to the Welcome Center there is Orange County, San Diego, L.A., and………  Las Vegas?  No, really they had information for Las Vegas, Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah in that dinky little area that is smaller than my hotel room.  I was rather unimpressed.  But, it makes for a great story to embarrass my friend with.  She was amused the fruit police were back in business (apparently they periodically open it to protect the delicate California environment, or some such).

Our California studies


Or, at least that’s the ones we read as of when I started this post.  I realized later I need to go back and add in more, and show what all it looks like. Hmmmm, I’m not remembering Fire Race, so maybe not that one.
So, here’s what our lapbook looks like:

Gold coins- Superman’s narrative: “We had to find gold coins, but I couldn’t find them because it was hard.”  His memory of this activity.
One of the animals in California is the sea otter, so that was our animal printable.
Humphrey the Whale summary- “He turned under the little bridge and he got lost.  It got smaller and smaller.  The people banged pipes and Humphrey got mad and he splashed.  Then he got very angry and he said, “Stop banging pipes and let me see if I can duck under the bridge.”  At the end he got back to his friends.  And he got under the little bridge.”  Batman
“He went the wrong direction of his friends and he got lost.  He should go the right way to go back to the ocean.  He squeezed through the holes by lifting up one of his fins.”  Superman.
Read more about this true story and see a video here.
Symbols of California- printable from the California Museum (which also has some cool craft ideas) go here.

map with California colored in
postcards from Natalie over at Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns.  I have to wrestle postcards away from the kids to put these in the envelopes.  They LOVE getting mail!

Monarch butterfly craft we did- while it’s not the state insect, I totally associate it with California.
Gold Rush Unit Study for somewhat older than preschool
Orange Juice is a blog written by my friend Kristi who lives in California, this is linked to her field trips.
Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns has a couple of posts about San Francisco that are cool to read.
I think Joyful Learner is also in the California area, or she’s got a couple of posts there.

And that’s all I got for ya on California.
Now head on over to Children Grow, Children Explore, Children Learn to see other fun Geography posts.

There’s gold in them thar hills

Or that was the theory……

This is loosely inspired by Nine for California, I say loosely because when I was finding out about the book it said takes place during the time of the gold rush in 1849, and so I was all excited.  And then, it’s actually about the family coming to join their Dad who has been working for a year in the California gold rush.  It’s an awesome book, don’t get me wrong, just not what I was thinking.

Summary: Ma and her 5 kids are travelling to California by stagecoach with 3 other people (hence 9 for California) and it’s all about how she entertains her kids as they travel to California with things out of her bag.

Materials needed: rocks from your back yard, and gold paint (I had gold paint leftover from my wedding when I gilded the edges of some of the books we were displaying), paper plates to paint it all on



First, wash your rocks.  This is essential if you want the paint to stick.  Besides it gives them practice at washing something they can’t really break or hurt.  And you get to play in water, what kid doesn’t love to play  in water.  Mine certainly do.





Now let them paint, and then paint some more.



  Anyone else’s kids crouch like that?  Or is it just mine?  I swear my kids don’t sit half the time unless I tell them to.

Then the rocks sat in our house for a few days or week or so because we kept having weather that wouldn’t work for our gold hunt in the backyard, or the weather was good and we were busy with something else.  Finally I sent them outside after randomly hiding the gold, and they’d found most of them before I found my camera.  So imagine 2 boys happily running around as their sister sits and pouts because I didn’t do what she wants.

And go enter my brand new CSN  giveaway while you’re here.

And for more great book inspired art and activities, I admit this isn’t so much art, head on over to A Mommy’s Adventures, where you’re sure to see lots of super cute ideas!

What we read the week of April something to something

Wonderfully original title I know, but I was feeling lazy.  And I know we read lots more books, but these are the ones I particularly remember.


Boa Constrictors– to continue my kids obsession with all things animal.  This one was okay, but not AMAZING.  But, my boys thought it was the coolest thing in the world that the snake could swallow a rabbit whole.  Yes, they’re definitely boys.


Two Bear Cubs– I thought they weren’t super interested in this, but then they wanted to read it again.  The two bear cubs are playing in the river, and are having fun when they fall asleep on a rock that grows into a mountain.  Mother Bear searches all over for them and gathers other animals to help her look.  And, in case you’re wondering we read this as part of our study in California.  I hadn’t realized El Capitain was in California, I always thought it was in New Mexico.  Well, now I know better.  As a side note, this would be a super fun book to act out if you had a larger group of kids and a playscape.

Sea Elf– This is about sea otters, who I always think are cute and fascinating.  I find it interesting that they hammer a shell open to get at the meat inside.  My kids enjoyed it, but were a little confused by the idea of you laying in bed and then becoming the sea otter.  The method of transformation was confusing, not that you were.


Butterfly Fever, this was the subject of our start last week, but they’ve kept it hidden in their rooms with the boys taking turns “reading” it.  Very cute story.


Poison Dart Frogs– have I mentioned my boys liking things that are gross?  Well this is a series of books aimed at that concept.  And it fits in well with their other obsession, animals.


Berenstain Bears and the Real Easter Eggs– this is another one that has been the subject of many fights over who gets to take it to bed.  My kids go on Berenstain Bear kicks and then everyone wants to have all of the books in their room.  And apparently it’s time for another round.


Well, that’s what I remember of what we’ve read.  This is the downside of writing my post after I’ve taken them back to the library, I don’t always remember everything.


Now head on over to Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns to find out about other great books!

MckLinky Blog Hop

Butterfly Gardens

I finally dug this out of the boys’ cave.  It was hiding under Superman’s bed under a pile of about 5 more books.  This would be why I don’t let them take library books to their room.
This is the story of a girl who moves from Oregon to Melville, California.  There everyone has butterfly fever because the butterflies always come to this town to stay for the winter.  While she’s there for the school year she learns all about Monarch butterflies, who ironically are not the state insect of California, but the dogface butterfly is.  This is where all of the great science information comes in, including things I didn’t know.

Well, from this, what else could we do, but make a butterfly?

First, I cut out a butterfly shape from two file folders, one inside the other.  Do you know how many pictures it took for Superman to get one that was at all presentable?  I’m sorry, but you’re not getting a close-up of my stomach.

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Now take a picture of your brother wearing it like a wrestling mask.

Now, head outside to enjoy the beautiful weather and paint your butterfly shapes black.  You want to paint the outside of one of the folders, and the inside of the matching folders.  This ensures that when you glue it together the holes will mostly match up.


Take a break from painting to dance a little.  Explain this is how you fly like a butterfly.


Grab some orange tissue paper and glue it between the two file folders.  I figured out after the first one that glue works much better than a gluestick.
Then cut around the outside and trim away the extra paper.  And then fly your butterflies.

004Incidentally, I have a request to make it so they can wear them.  Actually, the specific request was to glue it to his shirt.

Ticia butterfly parade And here I am, at my Butterfly Parade in second grade.  The kids are absolutely fascinated by these pictures.

For more great book related projects head on over to A Mommy’s Adventures.

We’re dreaming about good vibrations……


Something cool I just found: Five J’s, it’s a free geography curriculum.  I’m going to find out more, but figured I’d share what I’d found, in case someone else wanted it.
Now, on to what we learned about.  Can you guess which state we started?  I readily admit I’m basing most of what we’re learning about California from growing up in California, and a lot of that is specifically from my second grade science units, so here’s my specific things I want to cover in California:
1.  The gold rush, will hopefully be taught today
2.  Monarch butterflies, if I can find the picture you’ll get to see me as a butterfly in second grade.
3.  Humpback whales, another unit from my second grade science
4.  Sea otters and harbor seals- I specifically remember learning about the otters in second grade at Country Lane Elementary, as far as I know the plaque we made for our science units is still hanging in my Mom’s house.  Yes, I was that talented, or my Mom was that proud.  You choose.

So, what am I going to start off telling you about what we did?  We read Humphrey the Whale, which I’ve mentioned here, and watched the Reading Rainbow episode.  I also found some news reports from when it happened.

Now, I had all sorts of ideas of where we would go from there, maybe even watching Star Trek IV.

Don’t tell me this isn’t one of the main clips you think of when you remember this movie?  Oh, I’m getting off topic.  I love this movie.

So, the kids took over at this point, and they were absolutely intrigued by going whale watching, and were quite sure we needed to go now.  They were not understanding that you can’t really do that in a landlocked city.  So, we did the next best thing.
We went whale watching on my bed.  Batman, Princess, and I were up on the bed and were the whale watchers.  Superman was the whale.  He occasionally got beached on our boat, and we had to push him off.  That’s the second picture there.  And then Batman decided he was a human that can change into a jaguar, and he was going to fight the whale.  At this point all learning experience gained from this deteriorated, as it just became a “knock Superman off the bed” game.  This was also wildly popular.
For more great Geography ideas head on over to Debbie over at Children Grow, Children Explore, Children Learn.
And, how many of you have that Beach Boys song stuck in your head now?  Who has also moved on to having California Dreamin, or California Girls stuck in their heads?

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