Bugs at the Rose Garden

Rose Haven Heritage Garden

We found a lovely new place to go and enjoy nature. Oddly, it’s in our own town and we had no idea it existed…shame on us! Rose Haven Heritage Garden is a public garden and home to over 1600 roses of varying kinds. They are interspersed among other flowering plants, succulents and even a small vegetable garden.  It is all maintained by volunteers of the local rose society. 

We attended the March program which focused on garden bugs. The kids got to hear a short talk on beneficial versus pest insects that can be found in the garden or yard. There was also a table of various insects to examine and a knowledgeable volunteer to give the kids info on what they were looking at. My daughter’s favorite was the compost worms box. The children were invited to dig around and search for worms and grubs.

Rose Haven Heritage Garden

They also received a checklist of nine different bugs and had the opportunity to walk the garden and try and spot as many as they could. The kids were encouraged to pick up any nature bits lying around the grounds to use in a following art project.

Rose Haven Heritage Garden

Rose Haven Heritage Garden

Our kids were having too much fun exploring so we didn’t make it to the sit-down-and-craft part of the program. However, we took home our nature finds and J had a great time creating a ladybug picture on her own. 

Rose Haven Heritage Garden

Many thanks to the sweet and patient volunteers for hosting this event. We are looking forward to our next visit…maybe bring a picnic lunch and our nature journal. 🙂



Dripping Springs Nature Walk



Dripping Springs

My hubby has been very busy lately, not only with work, but he is one of the musicians for the Southern California tour of LES MISÉRABLESIt is an incredible opportunity for him and I’m bursting with pride…but it’s a lot of hours of rehearsal and shows.

We’ve been missing him for sure, so on his first weekend off, we decided a day out in nature was in order. We took a drive to  Dripping Springs, a little campground tucked away in the Cleveland National Forest. We’ve camped and hiked there before and it’s usually very quiet…exactly what we needed. 

We enjoyed a picnic lunch and let our little one run up and down a hill, peer into several hollow logs and just explore.

Dripping Springs


Dripping Springs

We walked along a dry river bed and looked for pretty rocks and found a few that were eye catching, to say the least. 

Waterfall & Shoe Rock

Waterfall & Shoe Rock

We found lots of lichen and moss that were interesting to touch and look at. 

Dripping Springs

Dripping Springs

We pretended we were pirates looking for treasure and drew maps in the sand.

Dripping Springs

I can’t imagine a better way to unwind after several weeks of a tightly packed schedule, than to walk in the wilds and listen to the gentle sounds of nature.

Dripping Springs


San Diego Zoo 7-28-14

We had a rare weekday visit the San Diego Zoo last week. Because of work we usually reserve trips for the weekends, but there was a scheduled power outage for maintenance. Since we are self employed, a holiday was declared, and we spent the day together at the zoo. The summer crowds were light and we had no trouble doing and seeing everything we wanted!

We spent a lot of time in the reptile house this visit. We don’t often walk through this exhibit, but we have been doing a turtle unit study and it was a perfect accompaniment.

San Diego Zoo Reptiles

The Komodo Dragons were out and quite active, much to our delight!

San Diego Zoo Komodo Dragons

We also made a point of seeking out some turtles to observe. We watched the Alligator Snapping Turtle for a bit. I didn’t get a really clear picture of him, but I love the effect of my daughters hat reflecting on his head in the glass!

San Diego Zoo Alligator Snapping Turtle

We also really enjoyed the Galapagos Turtles exhibit. They are fascinating to watch, slowly making their way around. We found out this guy is 110 years old and came to the zoo in 1928!

San Diego Zoo Galapagos Turtle

We saw some very cute and fuzzy baby flamingos that had just hatched in June.

San Diego Zoo Baby  Flamingos

And, speaking of cute babies…

San Diego Zoo Baby Giraffe

This very tall baby was also born in June at the zoo.

Of course, our trip wasn’t complete without a stop to see some magnificent big cats. We just happened upon the new mountain lion exhibit. It is open and has plenty of viewing area for many guests. Luckily, the two mountain lions we saw were out and ready to be admired.

San Diego Zoo Mountain Lion

The jaguar was also very active and stayed close in proximity, which was exciting for the kids. Of course, with him being in a darkened cave, behind glass, it didn’t net me the greatest photograph. But I still enjoy what I got and the experience of watching this magnificent animal with my daughter.

San Diego Zoo Jaguars

That brings us to our stately and beautiful M’Bari. I know I’ve posted about him many times, and most visits we see him sleeping in the shade. It is the fortunate day, indeed, when we catch him actively earning his title of King. Then, it’s a matter of squeezing through a throng of eager guests to even get a glimpse of him. This trip we got the best of both…M’bari was out and the crowds were light. We observed him gnawing away on a bony snack and he even got up and strutted a little before turning his back on everyone and laying down. 🙂

San Diego Zoo M'Bari

San Diego Zoo M'Bari

He certainly is one gorgeous kitty!

If you have an opportunity to visit the San Diego Zoo this summer, they are once again having Nightime Zoo. It looks to be very fun and a great chance to see some of the animals that aren’t always out during the day.  There are also a host of shows, activities and contests! We are definitely looking forward to our next visit!



A Day With Pirates!

My daughter LOVES pirates…truth be told so do I! We especially love the world of Peter Pan, Captain Hook, fairies, mermaids and all the magic that goes along with it. We of course watch lots of Jake and the Neverland Pirates  too. Yes, we love pirates. It was therefore a necessity that we attend Pirate Days at the San Diego Maritime Museum. The collections of the Maritime Museum are vast and engaging. One of our favorites, among the many incredible ships there, is the Star of India. Built in 1863, it is the world’s oldest active sailing ship. It is a beautiful vessel inside and out. Many volunteers were hard at work cleaning and maintaining her in the midst of festivities and tourists. I was surprised that my three year old daughter stopped to take a look at almost every display. She was fascinated with everything on the ship…from stem to stern, so to speak. San Diego Maritime Museum Pirate Days There were also plenty of pirates on board that were ready to engage in sword fights and playful banter. My daughter, J, wore her finest and was ready to join the crew! She was picked unanimously as the winner of the girls costume contest. I think she charmed just about everyone on board! 🙂 San Diego Maritime Museum Pirate Days One of the activities was a scavenger hunt that had you follow clues through several ships. Your prize for all of the effort was a visit to the magical mermaid grotto set up on the Star of  India. This was very enchanting for J! San Diego Maritime Museum Pirate Days The mermaids handed out jewels and a coveted key necklace to her. San Diego Maritime Museum Pirate Days It was perfect, for she was sure it opened a treasure chest somewhere on board. This necklace is so special we have since redesigned a new and stronger chain of beads for it. It gets worn regularly! San Diego Maritime Museum Pirate Days Besides exciting encounters with the buccaneers, there were also other re-enactors aboard the ship HMS SurpriseAn admiral made his rounds and hosted a “dance” with ladies and gentlemen in period dress.  San Diego Maritime Museum Pirate Days   San Diego Maritime Museum Pirate Days The San Diego Maritime Museum is a wonderful opportunity to experience hands on history. There are many educational opportunities for the family. They have many exciting events to attend throughout the year. It is a great day trip and makes for a fun homeschool field trip as well. San Diego Maritime Museum Pirate Days

Santa Rosa Nature Walk

The weather has been beautiful and spring-like lately. We decided to take advantage of it and get outside. My little girl, J, loves nature walks, but it is not so easy to find somewhere to explore that isn’t an hour or more drive. Thankfully, we remembered a nice little Nature reserve that’s only a few miles away. Santa Rosa Plateau is a 9000 acre ecological reserve. It is home to many species of birds and plants. 

We had a nice time just strolling along appreciating the nature around us and taking photographs.

Santa Rosa Plateau

Santa Rosa Plateau

Santa Rosa Plateau

We took the Granite Loop Trail. Including the walk to the picnic grounds, it’s a little over a mile. I thought that was pretty good hiking for a 3 year old. She showed interest the whole way, not one complaint! That made this mama pretty proud!

Santa Rosa Plateau


Santa Rosa Plateau

Santa Rosa has a lovely picnic area. It was shady, quiet and we spotted many birds in the surrounding trees.  Some of them even ventured up close.

Santa Rosa Plateau

Santa Rosa Plateau Acorn Woodpecker

Santa Rosa Plateau California Towhee

One detail I really appreciated about Santa Rosa Plateau is that they have many of the plants and trees identified at the visitor center. I love being able to note the names for easy reference when we study them later at home.

Santa Rosa Plateau

This turned out to be a great close to home day trip. I’m looking forward to our next visit and discovering some new plants and animals to photograph and learn about.

Santa Rosa Plateau


San Diego Safari Park 3-16-14

A beautiful Sunday visit to the San Diego Safari Park.

We took a leisurely stroll through the Wings of the World aviary and enjoyed some close and personal attention from the many Golden Breasted Starlings. They were quite eager to have their portraits taken!

Safari Park Golden Breasted Starling

We watched the elephant keeper talk. It’s always very informative and fun. Showing off their stuff today was Swazi and her baby Qinisa.

Safari Park Qinisa

Swazi received an elephant pedicure.

Safari Park Swazi

And Qinisa got a little trunk wash.

Safari Park Qinisa

Safari Park Qinisa

Kastan the Caracal was the featured animal encounter near the African Outpost. He is such a beautiful wild cat and always astounds with his jumping prowess.

Safari Park Caracal Kastan

Beautiful spring blooms were on display throughout the park.

Safari Park Fortnight Lily

Safari Park

The meerkats were out and about and being cute as usual.

Safari Park Meerkats

The cutest of all, though, are the two new  lion cubs Ken and Dixie. They are currently in the zoo nursery area and guests can see them playing, eating and sleeping. They are full of lion personality and a pleasure to watch and photograph. Every time we visit they are noticeably bigger!

Safari Park Lion Cubs Ken & Dixie



San Diego Zoo 1-4-14

We visited the San Diego Zoo a few weeks ago and I am just now getting around to posting. It was a great day to go! We had perfect weather, a bit overcast, which is great for photographing the animals. They are also much more likely to be out and active with a little cloud cover. It’s hard to believe the rest of the country is in a deep freeze when we are wearing shorts and flip flops during the day. That’s Southern California weather for you…shorts in January.

The flamingos were especially colorful this day!

San Diego Zoo Flamingos

We also happened upon a beautiful peacock eating his afternoon snack. He was close and very comfortable in front of an audience. He lingered for quite a while allowing for some great photo ops. Our other bird stop was one of my favorites, the Secretary Bird. There is just something so beautiful and strange about this bird. I love to photograph it.

San Diego Zoo Birds

A gorgeous leopard was perched on a rock people watching.

San Diego Zoo Leopard

The primates were all active and having fun in their various enclosures. They are always entertaining and interesting to observe.

San Diego Zoo Primates

A cute little Sun Bear found a tasty treat inside a large tube.

San Diego Zoo Sun Bear

This camel definitely had the best animal expression of the day!

San Diego Zoo Camel

We also spent some time at the wonderful Balboa Park Carousel, which is just outside of the zoo grounds. It’s one of the loveliest carousel rides I have ever been on. Lots of fun for kids of all ages! It’s now a must visit on our trips to the zoo.

With this unseasonably lovely winter weather we have been having I hope we can plan another trip to San Diego Zoo soon and share some more adventures and pictures.