Field Trip: L.A. Zoo

Elaine really wanted to see the jaguars. Fortunately, the jaguar was the most interesting compared to the other big cats (i.e., lions, tigers, etc.) who were in deep slumber. There was a monkey family (mom, baby, and dad) that was also fascinating to observe. Overall, it was a fun day. I forgot how large wild animals could be, like the zebras and hippos. My recommendations would be to go on a weekday (it was so crowded today (Saturday)), purchase tickets online before coming (which we did and we bypassed the long line for tickets. We also received discounts through my husband’s work but I’m sure there are other discounts available online, such as Groupon), bring a stroller for your little ones, wear a hat and/or sunscreen, bring snacks, and be prepared to walk a lot (i.e., wear comfortable shoes).

 

Place to Visit: Enchanted: Forest of Light @ Descanso Gardens

Late November, I remembered I had bought tickets to Enchanted: Forest of Light at Descanso Gardens. I wanted to go last year, but my condition wasn’t at its best and tickets were sold out by the time I tried to book them. We ventured forth during the middle of the week to get there by 7pm and the garden was already bustling with people. When we were exiting the park around 8:30pm, there were much more people entering and it seemed a bit overwhelming. 7pm was a good time, maybe even earlier would have been better if one could endure or beat rush-hour traffic to La Cañada. It was a fun exhibition, especially for kids–very interactive and “cool” as my daughter would say. There are 10 themes to walk through and darn-it, I lost my brochure/map, so I don’t have the names of them. You’ll just have to go and see for yourself. ;) My recommendations would be to take a meal or snack and to wear warm clothing (very important!). We took BBQ drumsticks because we had not eaten dinner and my daughter who often refuses to eat during meal times devoured her chicken leg. The garden sells hot chocolate, apple cider, and an assortment of food, but they are pricey and there is no prohibition in taking food, so why not? There are places to sit scattered around the park, but about halfway through, we found an indoor seating area to dodge the cold and enjoyed our meal in comfort with a decent view of the lake. The exhibition will run until January 7th.

Photos don’t do justice to the lights and my videos are shaky and loud. But here they are anyway to take a glimpse at what’s there:

 

 

Fall Field trip: Snow-line Orchard (Oak Glen)

Fall Field trip: Snow-line Orchard (Oak Glen)

We live close to the apple orchards in Oak Glen/Yucaipa, which is about a 40 minute drive, so when fall feels like fall, we take a trip out east and snack on some apple samples, and of course, apple cider donuts.

An old chestnut tree towers over the apple grove providing shade on those unforgiving sunny days. You’ll know it’s an aged tree because of its massive trunk. My mom stands in admiration looking up at its lush greenery knowing how time-consuming it is to wait for a tree to bear its first fruits. Thousands of chestnuts in their spiky green armor camouflage themselves amongst the last of summer leaves. Those ready for autumn detach from their branches and are strewn across the lawn while people sit at picnic tables enjoying their goodies from the store. There’s no apple picking allowed but there are plenty of apples in the store where you can purchase different varieties. There are also apple pies, apple butters, apple salsas, and other sweets. My one regret is not buying a jar of apple butter.  Honestly though, my treatment often makes food unappealing and even the most scrumptious looking desserts can make me queasy. My mom discourages me from eating any sweets because sugar activates cancer cells, so when she permits me to eat a mini-donut, she knows eating something, even if it may be a donut, is better than nothing. And oftentimes, I prefer nothing. But I must fight on; I want to win this battle. I may have to drink chicken smoothies and green juice with (non-spicy) chili peppers (for vitamin C), but if it helps me fight, if it gives me energy, I’ll close my eyes and gulp them down. I don’t enjoy them and I make it known, hehe, but I am thankful. I am thankful for field trips, for savory smoothies; I am thankful for my family.

*Note: Elaine was modeling for my new bow business, Pin-A-Bow on Etsy, hence so many pictures of her in different bows. She is such a sassy little girl! I don’t know who she gets it from. (I think it’s from her father).

“These are the days of our lives.”

In March, we went to Huntington’s Rose Garden Tea Room and didn’t get a chance to walk around the entire park. This time around, I snagged us free admission that the park offers every month (sign up is first-come-first-serve every 1st of the month prior) and walked around in the blazing heat. Elaine enjoyed the desert garden, then opted to ride the stroller for the rest of walk. My tip would be: 1) Be sure to wear a hat and comfortable shoes, 2) Parasols are also good if you’re not pushing a stroller, 3) Create a scavenger hunt for the little ones or let them take pictures on a cheap and durable digital camera, 4) Rest in the indoor galleries (esp. if you want to escape the heat), 5) On warm days, bring swimsuits or waterproof clothing/shoes for kids who want to run around in the children’s garden.

Vacation in Palm Springs

Vacation in Palm Springs

Initially, we wanted to go to Hawaii and we had made all flight and hotel reservations for our stay. Three days before departure, I had to be admitted to the hospital for severe aspiration. I needed to be monitored to see if I needed a G-tube, a tube to be inserted directly to the stomach so I can “eat” and get proper nutrition since I had a hard time swallowing anything, even/especially water. I ended up staying three days, until the day of departure, so we had to cancel all travel plans. In retrospect, I think it was God’s way of saying to stay and rest properly. There were so many things going against our plans: the inclement weather forecast, difficulty booking everything, family drama, and then my hospital admission. The good news was that I didn’t need a G-tube and that I could eat normally as long as the food/liquid was smooth and thick as nectar. If only I had been admitted a day earlier, we may have been able to go to Hawaii, but I believe it was all in God’s plan. Maybe if we had gone, something worse could have happened. I will never know, but I trust it was all for my/our own good.

Instead we went to Palm Springs! Warmer, sunnier, and a whole lot cheaper! haha. (Well, not so cheap if we had stayed as long as we planned to stay in Hawaii). It was a time to recover and refresh, for all of us.