I love learning about local history, so since we moved to California years ago I have been fascinated with the Spanish missions that dot the length of the state. I have had the opportunity to visit several of the 21 missions over the years and most recently traveled to the Sonoma Mission (official name, San Francisco Solano) with my family. It is a great place to visit with kids to learn more about California history!
Sonoma Mission (San Francisco Solano)
The Sonoma Mission was:
The last California mission to be built (1823)
The furthest north
The only mission built after Mexico’s independence from Spain
The only mission founded without prior approval from the Church
The only one my kids have visited (so far!)
Why We Loved It
My favorite parts were the chapel and the central courtyard. In the small chapel it is easy to imagine the overlapping prayers and desires of the generations of people who have sat or stood in that very spot. In the courtyard is where they worked. It was so amazing to see the old outdoor “beehive” oven they used for baking. This is a great way for kids to understand how things used to be before electricity.
I loved the central fountain, surrounded by benches and shaded by trees like a little desert oasis. Although not original to the Mission, it is a welcome addition for today’s visitors. If you visit in the summer, you will appreciate this cool, shady spot even more!
You also can’t miss the huge growth of Prickly Pear cactus, which served as a living fence during Mission times.
My boys loved the army barracks, which show you how soldiers from the Mexican era lived. There is even an old canon!
How to Find It
The Sonoma Mission is now part of the Sonoma State Historic Park, which includes the Mission, Barracks, and Vallejo family home. The park is actually six different sites located around the beautiful town of Sonoma, which is in the world famous California Wine Country.
The park is open daily except for major holidays.
While You’re There
We loved La Casa, a wonderful family owned Mexican restaurant right across the street from the Mission. Before heading home, we also stopped at Chocolate Cow, which has great ice cream as well as candy. It is located in a cute little shopping plaza just a short walk away from the Mission.
Disclosure: I received complimentary tickets to Disney on Ice: Dare to Dream for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own.
My son is really into zombies and Star Wars, so I have to admit I was worried about whether he would like a Disney on Ice show that focuses on princess stories, but I was pleasantly surprised at how entertained he was. (Which is good, since his mama was having a great time!)
With all the pageantry and action, it’s hard for any child not to get caught up in the show. While most kids really love the princesses, beautiful ice skating, and fancy costumes, others like mine might be more interested in the villains and many funny parts. Either way, everyone will have a great time. My personal favorite was Rapunzel and Flynn’s amazing high flying act, and little ones will love seeing Mickey Mouse and friends!
So whether you go for Cinderella and Snow White or for the evil witches and bumbling stepsisters, Disney on Ice: Dare to Dream is a wonderfully entertaining show for the whole family, with favorite moments from Tangled, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella and The Princess and the Frog. Get a discount code below!
WHAT: Nothing can stop a princess from a celebration of royal proportions when Rapunzel, Tiana, Snow White and Cinderella star in the sensational ice skating production of Disney On Ice presents Dare to Dream Presented by Stonyfield YoKids Organic Yogurt. Relive memorable moments from Tangled, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella and The Princess and the Frog as a cast of world-class skaters brings the romance, humor and adventure of the films to life in this contemporary skating spectacular. Join your hosts Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse for a princess-packed adventure, Dare to Dream whisks audiences away on exciting journeys where dreams really do come true!
TICKETS: Ticket prices start at just $17 with limited quantity of VIP and Front Row seating available Kids (age 2-12) tickets are only $10 for all shows (not valid for VIP/Front Row Seating) Special Opening Night Discount tickets available for $12 on select seating (not valid for VIP/Front Row Seating) All seats are reserved; tickets available thru Ticketmaster.com, charge by phone at 800-745-3000 or visit the Sleep Train Arena Box Office. *Tickets may be subject to service charges, facility and handling fees. DISCOUNT CODE: Save $5 on Select Seats Code: MOM5 Valid on: $23 & $17 seats Valid on all shows Restrictions, exclusions, and additional charges may apply.
Living in California means inheriting a rich Hispanic heritage, from the state’s historic missions to modern day poets and activists. Below are wonderful children’s books we have discovered about Hispanics in California. As can be expected, many of them focus on struggles for equality and making sense of migration.
This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission.
Children’s Books about Hispanic Heritage in California
Gathering the Sun: An Alphabet In Spanish And English, which I just accidentally came across in our library, was actually the book that inspired me to create this book list. It is a celebration of life working on California’s farms, through simple poems for each letter of the Spanish alphabet. Farm workers are still stigmatized today, so I love that the author shows us what is beautiful about this way of life. It is a wonderful way for all children to come to appreciate those that harvest our foods, and I can only imagine what an emotional boost this would be for migrant children to read.
In First Day In Grapes young readers learn about some of the difficulties of faced by children of migrant farm workers. As his family moves up and down California harvesting fruits and vegetables, Chico is forever starting at a new school, with teachers and classmates who often snub him. Third grade looks to be different, however, until a group of bullies confronts Chico and he learns to draw on his own inner strength and creativity to resolve the conflict.
Of course, no article about Hispanic heritage in California would be complete without mentioning César Chávez, the champion of migrant farm workers. Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez is a beautiful tribute to Chávez and won the Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor. It tells of his early childhood on his family’s tranquil farm in Arizona and the drought that forced them and many others into a life in the farm labor camps in central California. It also shows his progression from a child in the fields to a full-time worker himself and finally a leader for change. It culminates in the historic march to Sacramento that resulted in the first labor contract for farm workers in the United States. A similar book is the more recent A Picture Book of Cesar Chavez, which incorporates Chávez’s own words into the text and includes a timeline of his life. For more on this topic, I also recommend Dolores Huerta: A Hero to Migrant Workers and Side by Side/Lado a Lado: The Story of Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez.
There has been a lot of buzz about Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation, so I was glad to finally get a chance to read it for myself. This award-winning book is a real treasure, based on the author’s own interviews with Sylvia Mendez, as well as court files and news accounts. It tells of the not well known 1945 lawsuit against segregated schools in Orange County. In 1947, the court ruled in favor of the Mexican-American families and soon after the Governor of California Earl Warren signed desegregation into law. (Warren became Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court and presided over the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education case, which desegregated schools throughout the US).
A more contemporary story of activism is ¡Si, Se Puede! / Yes, We Can!: Janitor Strike in L.A., based on the successful Los Angeles strike in 2000. Told through the eyes of a worker’s young son, this award-winning book is a wonderful way of talking to children about current labor issues facing many Hispanic workers in California today.
From North to South: Del Norte al Sur tackles the difficult subject of family separation due to deportation. José misses his mother, who was deported to Mexico two weeks earlier for not having the proper papers. He is thrilled when he and his father are finally able to visit her at a shelter for women and children in Tijuana. The author, who is also an elementary school teacher in Los Angeles, based the story on the experiences of many of his students and is donating a portion of his royalties to the refuge in Tijuana showcased in the book, where many women and children stay as they wait to be reunited with their families on the other side of the border.
I must admit that one of the reasons I love this book is that it is one of the few I found that does not focus on immigration or the plight of farm workers. Instead, Chato’s Kitchen introduces us to one of the coolest cats in East LA, who has his eye on a family of plump mice that have moved into his barrio. This lively book and its sequel Chato and the Party Animals are a fun way to explore contemporary life in East Los Angeles.
Many children will be able to relate to this story of a young Mexican-American girl who just wants a little space to herself. Based on the author’s own California childhood, it is a tale of the strength of family and a young girl’s need to stretch her wings.
Another wonderful book from this author-illustrator pair is My Diary from Here to There: Mi diario de aquí hasta allá, which relates a young girl’s journey with her family from Mexico to Los Angeles in search of better opportunities. Through her fears and uncertainties she learns the power of her family’s love and of her own belief in herself.
This post is part of the fourth annual Hispanic Heritage Month series and giveaway! Through the month (September 15 – October 15), you’ll find great resources to share Hispanic Heritage with kids, plus you can enter to win in our great giveaway and link up your own posts on Hispanic Heritage!
Hispanic Heritage Month Giveaway!
Giveaway begins Monday, September 14 and goes through October 15, 2015.
Enter below for a chance to win one of these amazing prize packages! Some prizes have shipping restrictions. In the event that a winner lives outside the designated shipping area, that prize will then become part of the following prize package. For more information, read our full giveaway rules.
Kid’s foreign language T-Shirt (available in Spanish, French, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Swahili, Hawaiian, Italian, in infant onesies, toddler and youth sizes tees and tanks; women’s tees and tanks SM-XL) from Mixed Up ClothingUS Shipping Only
March 5, 2015Kid Fun, SacramentoComments Off on Marvel Universe LIVE comes to Sacramento!
Do you have a little super hero in your house? Then you won’t want to miss Marvel Universe LIVE when it comes to the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento this month!
What: Live stunt show with more than 25 Marvel icons – including favorite Marvel Super Heroes like Spider-Man and The Avengers (Iron Man, Black Widow, Hulk and more) plus menacing Villains – in Sacramento for the first time ever. With an original story, cutting-edge special effects, pyrotechnics, aerial stunts, martial arts, motorcycles and stunning video projections the audience will be completely immersed in the action. An excitement-filled evening for Marvel fans of all ages!
When: Thursday, March 12 – Sunday, March 15
Thursday, March 12 7:00 PM
Friday, March 13 7:00 PM
Saturday, March 14 11:00 AM, 3:00 PM & 7:00 PM
Sunday, March 15 1:00 PM & 5:00 PM
Where: Sleep Train Arena – One Sports Parkway, Sacramento, CA 95834
Tickets: Available for purchase online at Ticketmaster.com, charge by phone at 800-745-3000 or in-person at the venue Box Office
January 24, 2015Kid Fun, SacramentoComments Off on Monster Truck Show: 5 Tips for Attending with Kids
I was provided with complimentary tickets to Monster Jam®; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Don’t miss the last Monster Jam show at the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento on Sunday, January 25!
To be completely honest, if you had asked my pre-child self to rate her interest in going to a monster truck show, she would have put it somewhere above spending an evening flipping channels at home, but quite a bit lower than say, an evening spent catching up on Downton Abbey.
How having children changes you! Especially having children with interests that are very different than yours. With two very active young boys, I don’t spend many evenings either flipping channels or catching up on Downton Abbey; yet, thankfully I have found that I really love monster truck shows!
There is a visceral thrill that even the most tea-sipping among us feel watching those gigantic machines roar up into the air and land with a bounce on those improbably big wheels. How do they not flip over? Especially when, like Grave Digger, they drive along almost sideways on just two wheels?
And, of course, there is the joy of attending with kids who are big-eyed and open-mouthed throughout the show. It is hard to miss just how much fun these shows can be when you are sitting with someone bubbling with excitement over every jump and turn.
So do plan on going to a monster truck show with your kids – if you are in Sacramento, you can still catch the last Monster Jam show tomorrow, Sunday, January 25, at the Sleep Train Arena! – and keep in mind these tips before you head out the door:
5 Tips for Attending a Monster Truck Show with Kids
These tips are based on my experience with the Monster Jam® show at the Sleep Train Arena and may vary from other shows.
1. Bring ear plugs/headphones: If you remember nothing else from this article, be sure to bring some protection for your kids’ ears (and yours!) Monster trucks are LOUD, and the kids will enjoy the show much more if they don’t have to keep covering their ears.
2. The house lights are always on: Since we are still at the stage of taking frequent bathroom breaks, I really appreciated that this was not the kind of show where the stands are constantly in the dark. The house lights were up through the entire show, making it easy for us to make our way through the aisles; plus, this is much less scary for kids.
3. The atmosphere is laid back: A monster truck show is very relaxed, so if you do have to get up to get a drink or go to the restroom, you don’t feel awkward about sneaking out. Of course, you don’t want to jump up and block someone’s view during a performance, but these are all relatively short, as each truck takes a turn around the arena before a slight break as the next gets ready.
4. The show is family-friendly: Before attending, I did have an idea that most of the audience would be beer-soaked men, but this was far from true. Even at the Saturday night show, the vast majority of attendees were young families. At 5 Monkey was far from the youngest there – I even saw a number of babies – as well as older kids and teenagers. Everyone is very friendly and careful of the many kids in the crowd, which was especially nice when it came time to move with the everyone toward the exit at the end of the show.
5. They save the best for last: If you do need to take a break, try to wait until the end of that segment, since the stars always perform towards the end of each. Of course, all of the trucks are fun to watch, but you really don’t want to miss someone like Grave Digger!
Have you been to a monster truck show? What are your tips for going with kids?
Disclosure: I received complimentary tickets to the Monster Jam®; however, all opinions are my own.
Does your child love trucks and vehicles and anything that goes vroom? What about monster trucks, those massive vehicles that roar around an arena and crush other cars like pancakes??
If you answered yes, then don’t miss the Monster Jam, an amazing monster truck show going on this weekend at the Sleep Train Arena this weekend!
I am so excited to take my little monster truck lovers to this show! They love watching monster trucks on TV, so I can’t wait to see their faces when we go to watch these twelve-feet-tall, ten-thousand-pound machines live!
But you have to act quickly, as the show is only in town this Saturday and Sunday (January 24 & 25, 2015). If you can be sure to check out the pre-show party in the pits before the afternoon shows.
Saturday January 24 – Sunday January 25, 2015
January 24: 2 PM & 7:30 PM
January 25: 2 PM
Ticket Information (Pricing)
Gold Circle – $65.50
Lower Level – $34
Upper Level – $23.50 (Adults) & $13.00 (Kids 2-12)
(Price Includes $2.50 fee and 5% City of Sacramento event fee)
Prices subject to change
Parking Info (Time and costs)
$12 (CASH ONLY)- Toll Plazas Open 2 Hours Before Start of Show
I was so honored to be one of the lucky winners, thanks to you, my wonderful readers! And as a thank you, I’d like to share with you our trip to donate the special, virtually indestructible soccer ball to the amazing Mustard Seed School for homeless children.
Many homeless children are not enrolled in school because the places their families find to sleep are often not near a child’s school and the family only plans to be there a short time. Sometimes the school needs an address or updated immunizations which homeless families cannot provide.
Mustard Seed School was established in 1989 to help meet the needs of homeless children in the Sacramento area. Not having a stable address means that many school age children do not attend school. Some lack immunization, birth certificates, or other documents; some are deterred by the requirement to provide an address in order to register for school; others are so focused on survival that schooling is a lower priority. Almost all lack a support system and a helping hand. In spite of their situations these children are eager to learn and to be accepted.
This is why a school like the Mustard Seed is so needed. It truly is a haven for children in great need of a safe, inviting place to learn and thrive. The tireless workers, volunteers and donors have gone to great lengths to make the school a fun, cozy place for children. They are concerned with the physical and emotional needs of the children. In addition to providing support to parents (for example, with documents and immunizations needed to enroll their children in regular public schools), they also provide healthy lunches and snacks – even “weekend bags” with food to take home for those that need it! (I was very impressed with their emphasis on healthy food for the kids. This is very clearly outlined in their guidelines for donors).
The Mustard Seed School is designed to be a short-term solution, until the families find housing and the kids can enroll in regular public schools. As a result, their emphasis is less on the academic and more on emotional and social support for the kids. I love that they have a school counselor who comes once a week to help the kids through tools like play therapy.
Yet a school like the Mustard Seed also faces great challenges. At the time of our visit earlier this month, they had 38 students enrolled, from preschool to 8th grade, but they never know from day to day exactly how many children will show up. The children typically only stay about 4-6 weeks before they moved or are transitioned to public school.
The children come from a wide variety of backgrounds, and their education has often been done in fits and starts. Most kids are in shelters, living in motels, or on the streets, so they all have emotional and physical needs crying for attention.
How You Can Help Kids in Need:
Do you have a similar school or institution in your area? A friend from our character building class and I brainstormed with the office manager of Mustard Seed – who kindly took the time to show us around and answer our questions – to come up with these ideas for how we could get involved:
1. Donate supplies. Do a donation drive to provide much needed supplies. Call ahead to find out exactly what their needs are. Often they can send you a list or you can find one on their website. For the Mustard Seed School, for example, their greatest needs were school supplies but also underwear and socks for the kids. They were also excited to receive the One World Futbol!
2. Provide food. The Mustard Seed provides healthy lunches and snacks for up to 40 kids every single day. You could donate lunches for one day, or sign up to do it on a regular basis. And if you can’t do lunches, perhaps you could provide healthy snacks like granola bars and yogurt cups that they can keep in the classrooms or send home with the kids over the weekend.
3. Volunteer in the classroom. The hard-working teachers can always use a helping hand in the classroom – whether it’s assisting with daily tasks or providing tutoring/mentorAlling. Perhaps you have traveled to/lived in another country. Why not come and do a presentation for the kids? Or maybe you could do a fun art project with them!
4. Throw a party! If there were ever kids that needed a party, it is students like those at the Mustard Seed School! A really fun way to make a difference is to provide treats and activities for a holiday party and bring a smile to a little one’s face.
This post is part of the Second Annual Sunshine Kids Blog Hop. This year we are focusing on great places to visit in California with kids! Be sure to link up your family-friendly California posts below, and visit my post on Native California from last year’s blog hop!
Fairy Tale Town has been a favorite destination for families in Sacramento for generations. Opened in 1959, it was one of a wave of storybook parks that opened around the United States during the 1950s and 60s, thanks in large part to the success of Disneyland. Yet Fairy Tale Town is one of the few still in operation today.
Climbing up the beanstalk
It is truly a magical place, where fairy tales and nursery rhymes come to life. Kids can slide down the beanstalk, climb up to Owl’s house in the 1000 Acre Wood, swing on the jungle gym in Sherwood Forest, and stop to pet the animals at Farmer Brown’s Barn.
Even the bathroom breaks are fun!
There are 25 playsets in Fairy Tale Town, each based on a different childhood tale. In addition there are farm animals, two performing arts stages, and several gardens.
Since many of the features were built in the 1950s, there is a lot of concrete, but everything is very well maintained and safe for young visitors. In fact, there are only a few features (several of the high slides) that are not appropriate for very little ones. While older kids will find much to enjoy here, you will also see lots of toddlers moseying around the park.
On a recent visit, my preschooler and my toddler both enjoyed themselves immensely. The little one loved playing in the bright, colorful play areas just his size. My older son enjoyed it on a different level now that he is familiar with the stories on which the play areas are based. We spent an entire morning here and could have easily stayed longer.
In addition to all the fun attractions available on an everyday basis, there are also performances, special events, and summer camps. There is a cafe (the Dish and Spoon) plus plenty of picnic tables if you prefer to bring your own food.
If you visit during the summer, I suggest visiting in the morning to avoid the heat. Thankfully, though, even in the afternoons there is plenty of shade from the many trees in the park.
I highly recommend Fairy Tale Town as part of your California Staycation! It is a whimsical, magical place that you and your kiddos will enjoy. Afterwards you can head next door to beautiful William Land Park or just across the street to visit the Sacramento Zoo! (Combined tickets are available for Fairy Tale Town and the zoo).
Are you taking a staycation this summer?
Places to Visit with Kids in California:
Sunshine Kids Blog Hop 2014
Summer is a great time to explore with your kids – and you don’t have to travel far to do it! California has so much to offer to families. Take a great staycation this summer by visiting your local treasures! In our second annual Sunshine Kids Blog Hop, we are focusing on our favorite places to visit with kids in California. Enjoy! And be sure to add your own family-friendly California posts in our linky at the bottom. You can also check out even more California posts on our collaborative Kid Friendly California Pinterest board!
And now it’s time to see what everyone has been up to:
In case you haven’t been following along, the wonderful Kids Activities Blog has been doing a collaborative series showcasing things to do with your kids in different cities around the world. I’m so pleased to share my contribution – a top ten list of activities for families in the Sacramento area. For those who have been here, what would you add to the list? What are your favorite spots to visit in your hometown?
I am so thrilled to be participating in the incredible series put together by my friend and fellow Multicultural Kid Blogs board member Annabelle of piri piri lexicon. In this series readers get a chance to tour neighborhoods from all over the globe – from France and the Brazil to Kansas City and San Francisco! Go to the main page for a full schedule of stops in this virtual world tour.
We live in Sacramento, best known as the capital of the state of California. As a result, no matter how much our bigger California brothers (San Francisco, Los Angeles, etc.) may look down their noses at our small city (and especially its basketball team!), we are always guaranteed a seat at the table thanks to being the place where lawmakers and lobbyists gather to keep the state political machine moving.
1. Playground/play area
We are blessed with many parks, from small corner playgrounds to larger complexes with sports fields. This is one of our favorites. Like most in this area in includes two different “tot lots” – one for toddlers and one for older children. There are also picnic tables, a large open field, and a baseball diamond.
You can also see the shade structures that were installed in the past few years. As temperatures here regularly pass 100 degrees F in the summer (nearly 38 degrees C), these were a very welcome addition.
2. Local mode of transportation
A friend of mine jokes that this is the official vehicle of our mothers group, since so many of the moms have one, often in the same color. It can be confusing for the kids when it’s time to leave the park!
Everyone owns a car; most families own two. While there is decent public transportation in Sacramento, it primarily serves the older parts of town. Bicycling is popular, but mainly for recreation.
3. Typical house
Dressed for Halloween, but already planning for Christmas!
Most homes and buildings in our area are in the same earth tones you see above. You can also see that even these large homes are built very close together. Most have fenced-in backyards, but these also tend to be fairly small.
4. A street nearby
I love to go out walking with Baby in the stroller. We live in a quiet neighborhood, and it’s a great place for walking. We are friendly with our neighbors, but for the most part people keep to themselves.
5. A school, nursery, or other educational facility
Since my sons aren’t school age yet, I decided to take photos of our wonderful local library, where we spend a great deal of time. It has won awards for its environmentally friendly features and innovative design. It is a joint-use facility, which means that it serves the high school, community college, and the wider community.
6. A market, supermarket, or other shopping outlet
Okay, so Costco is not actually in my neighborhood, but it is where most of us go to shop. If you have kids, you probably also have a membership to Costco. You can’t beat the prices, and after a while you even come to enjoy the warehouse atmosphere.
This is currently Monkey’s favorite aisle. He loves to look at all of the Christmas light displays, which have been up since September. But the real reason he comes is for the snacks. There are stations set up throughout the store where customers can sample featured products. Part of the fun is you never know what they’ll be handing out that day!
7. Blogger’s choice: The housing crisis
Our part of town is near the edge of the city and was only really developed within the past 15 years. Before that it was mostly fields, and in the winter many residents must deal with visiting field mice who don’t realize that it isn’t their home anymore.
There still are many open fields in the area, including this one across from a busy shopping center.
Most of these fields were slated for development when this area exploded during the housing boom. Development crashed just as quickly, however, and now many streets end abruptly in empty fields such as this one, which will be turned into a park.
Here are condos, as seen across an empty lot. It was cleared for retail development several years ago but still displays a “for lease” sign.
The other major challenge facing developers (and home owners!) are the levees that surround the city. Our part of town in particular is in a flood plain, one reason the area was not developed for so many years. During the housing boom, the classification was miraculously changed to allow for increased development, but in the wake of Hurricane Katrina this was more difficult to justify. After Katrina, in which the levees protecting New Orleans failed catastrophically, there has been more attention on Sacramento’s levees and a campaign for increased funding to maintain them. For those that already own homes in this area, it means having to buy expensive insurance in exchange for living in such a high risk area.
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