Tag Archives: Sandbox Adventure List

Sandbox List Adventures 26: Secret Agent Spies and Love

15 Feb

It’s always about hiding in corners, tip-toeing so they don’t hear you, sneaking up, finding the antidote, having MacGyver moments with a stick of gum and two toothpicks, fighting the bad guys, and saving the world.

This is the life of Little Guat 007 and his sidekick 008, who is still in diapers.

In truth I had no idea where he got this concept as I’ve never exposed him to James Bond or Mission Impossible, but I can guess that it’s a combination of his love for the Justice League and the Playing Spies episode of Word World. Either way, there’s always espionage-like missions where they crack the Jenga code, solve the ABC Alphabet Foam Floor Puzzle, tie me up with the purple Minnie Mouse jump rope, rescue Dora The Explorer, and save the secret Hungry Hungry Hippos Marble Treasure.

It’s pretty intense.

We have these secret missions at least once a week, sometimes more when it rains over here. I really didn’t think I could add any more juice to these missions, but then my son saw the commercial and then it was on.

For a limited time only. Limited engagement.

That always seems to add a sense of urgency and so … it was on. In our latest Sandbox List Adventure, we mastered our spy skills and became the best 007 secret agents we could with the help of the Spy Exhibit at the Reagan Museum. Overall it was an awesome way to spend Valentine’s Day … taking down pretend bad guys and celebrating with chocolate afterward. Lots of it.

 

I knew President's Day weekend would bring in the crowds to the museum, so I thought we'd be spies on Valentine's Day and it proved to be pretty sweet.

I knew President’s Day weekend would bring in the crowds to the museum, so I thought we’d be spies on Valentine’s Day and it proved to be pretty sweet.

 

Once we got our tickets we did our Wonder Twins activate handshake and headed toward the exhibit.

Once we got our tickets we did our Wonder Twins activate toe tap and headed toward the exhibit.

 

We got our secret agent stickers and prepared ourselves for the movie and spy history lesson.

We got our secret agent stickers and prepared ourselves for the movie and spy history lesson.

 

First we were informed of some rules, which my son took pretty seriously.

First we were informed of some rules, which my son took pretty seriously.

 

Then we got a few lessons from a couple of real spies.

Then we got a few lessons from a couple of real spies.

 

Then we learned about secret compartments.

We learned about secret compartments and listening devices.

 

And then we learned of even sneakier ways of spies.

And then we learned of even sneakier ways of spies … never knew a glue stick could be so versatile.

 

Then we realized that we had to beef up our criminalist briefcase. My son informed me we needed to go buy more spy tools as we only had our plastic screwdriver and wrench.

Then we realized that we had to beef up our criminalist kit. My son informed me we needed to go buy more spy tools as we only had our plastic screwdriver and wrench.

 

After the tool lesson,  we went to the technology area and checked out the satellite spy cameras. It was my favorite exhibit.

After the tool lesson, we went to the technology area and checked out the satellite spy cameras. It was my favorite exhibit.

 

My daughter's favorite part was the laser used to eavesdrop on people. She was there awhile.

My daughter’s favorite part was the laser used to eavesdrop on people. She was there awhile.

 

My son got a kick out of the voice changer and hearing all his secret identities.

My son got a kick out of the voice changer and hearing all his secret identities.

 

They enjoyed all the exhibits, however the lazer maze was their favorite.

They enjoyed all the exhibits, however the laser maze was their favorite. We did all our secret agent Mission Impossible Ethan Hunt moves to get passed the green lasers you always see in the movies.

 

With this museum having all kinds of spy history it's no wonder that they also had information about The Berlin Wall.

With this museum having all kinds of spy history it’s no wonder that they also had information about The Berlin Wall.

 

Being able to touch this was a pretty special moment.

Being able to touch this was a pretty special moment.

 

After soaking up that very special part of history we ran across another exhibit and decided to keep exploring. However, no pictures were allowed inside, but I can say that going inside Air Force I was pretty cool.

After soaking up that very special part of history, we ran across another exhibit and decided to keep exploring. However, no pictures were allowed inside, but I can say that being on Air Force I was pretty cool.

 

After all that spy stuff and airplane business, we thought we'd stop to rest. Seeing this pub-like eatery next to the exhibits inspired lunch.

After all that spy stuff and airplane business, we thought we’d stop to rest. Seeing this pub-like eatery next to the exhibits inspired snack time.

 

It also gave my son a chance to give me his Valentine's Day surprise. His handmade I Love You card rocked.

It also gave my son a chance to give me his Valentine’s Day surprise. His handmade I Love You card rocked.

 

But him telling me "I have a surprise for you. I made it myself." And then me seeing it. Dude. "I give you my heart, mom"  Duuuuuude. That was the best ending to our 007 spy mission impossible kind of day.

But him telling me “I have another surprise for you. I made it myself.” And then me seeing it. Dude. “I give you my heart, mom.” Duuuuuude. That got him some extra pieces of chocolate. Yeah most definitely. It was the best ending to our 007 Spy Mission Impossible kind of day.

 

 

Advertisement

Sandbox Adventure List 25: Time Travel Without 1.21 Gigawatts

13 Jan

I didn’t have a DeLorean or 1.21 Gigawatts, but I managed to travel through time into The Land of the Lost and walk among the dinosaurs.

He wanted a time-machine Dinosaur Train Time Tunnel experience and this was the best I could do: Discover the Dinosaurs Exhibit at the convention center downtown. He enjoyed the life-sized dinosaur replicas of the Cretaceous Time Period and my daughter enjoyed practicing her terrible roars and trying to scare the dinosaurs. At the end of the day it turned out to be a good adventure, but in truth I prepared myself for the worst. The worst.

Why?

It was downtown, a place with one-way streets where drivers were crazy, parking costs 20 dollars, and crowds were sure to be massive. Massive and filled with other people’s kids who were probably going to throw tantrums and be jackasses and I so didn’t want to be in that environment, but it’s always a risk you take when going to events like these.

So … I prepared for the worst, but was pleasantly surprised when disaster didn’t strike among the hundreds of families in attendance. In fact I only saw one tantrum and that happened because a parent tried to capture a Kodak moment near the Brachiosaurus and her kid wasn’t in the mood to be caught on film. At that point I was grateful for the attitude-free afternoon and the pictures I had already taken. I think they were in a good mood because the exhibit was a hands-on experience and they were able to explore and pet the life-sized animatronic statues and they did not hear the “don’t touch the dinosaur, we’ll get in trouble” speech that they often hear from me at the Natural History Museum.

The only downside to the  Land of the Lost adventure was the inflatable jumper area. They had about six jumbo-sized jumpers with at least an hour-long wait for each one.

Dude.

Dude.

I had to prepare my kids for the “we’re-not-going-to-able-to-get-on-this-thing” speech, something that every parent dreads for fear having that a blowout may play out in front of hundreds or people. But they seemed to take it pretty well. I think it had to do with the shorter line at  the T-Rex ride, sort of like a mechanical bull for kids.

By the time we finished, they were tired of the crowds, ready for peanut butter sandwiches, and wanting the Jack Johnson ambience of our car ride home. Pretend time travel is pretty exhausting, even without time tunnels, 1.21 Gigawatts, or DeLoreans we were still able to travel to faraway places in my Dad’s Toyota.

 

We started our Land of The Lost Adventure with the big dog ... T.Rex himself.

We started our Land of The Lost Adventure with the big dog … T.Rex himself.

 

Checking out their favorite exhibit.

Checking out their favorite exhibit, before experiencing the dinos up close and personal.

 

The little dinos with fierce roars caught our attention.

The little dinos with fierce roars caught our attention.

 

This one was my favorite :)

This one was my favorite 🙂

 

This was our final stop on the tour ... a ride on the T.Rex. Both of my kids enjoyed this little adventure the most.

But in the end this was everyone’s favorite … it was our final stop on the tour … a ride on the T.Rex. Both of my kids seemed to enjoy this the most.

 

Sandbox Adventure List 24: Pinky Promises and the Not-So Rocky Mountains Adventure

3 Jan

A pinky promise is a sacred thing to a five-year old. It must be kept at all costs, even when things are out of your control, you have to make it happen.

Have to.

You’re mom: Creator of Sandbox Adventures, LEGO builder extraordinaire, Optimus Prime Transformer master, and CapriSun pouch straw pusher.

That’s me. I make things happen.

So in honor of 2014 I thought I’d keep the almighty sacred promise and make snow possible in California — Southern California.

It hasn’t rained and the average winter weather in my neck of the woods has been about 70 degrees, so I had a pretty good idea that sledding, snowmen, and snowball fights would not be easy.

Not impossible, but not easy.

But a pinky promise is a pinky promise, so I made the drive to the mountains in hopes of avoiding car sickness and making a Charlie Brown Christmas moment possible for my kids.

As we drove up the winding roads surrounded by rocky mountains and pine trees I saw this and wasn’t sure it would happen.

 

Beautiful right?

Beautiful right?

 

Yeah. I wasn’t sure. All I knew for sure was that we probably wouldn’t need the sweatshirts, thermal underwear, hoodies, gloves, mittens, beanies, or chains for the tires. We needed sunscreen and sun glasses. But like any mom I was prepared and had them both.

After another forty minutes up the mountains I finally saw some hope.

 

Some hope.

An opportunity to wear beanies.

 

I was happy our bathroom pit stop showed signs of winter life. People were actually wearing snowboard pants and I thought the further we drove up the better our chances for our snow day to happen. And even though it wasn’t Utah-Colorado-worthy weather conditions, it was still good enough for pinky promises to be possible.

I’d like to thank the makers of Pirate Booty, Goldfish Crackers, Cuties Oranges, Dora The Explorer Enterprises, Superhero Book authors, LEAP Frog LEAP Pads, and LEGO DC Universe Visual Dictionary creators, for making the two-and-a-half hour drive saner than usual. It helped this Sandbox Adventure List item definitely rise to the top of our list, because when it comes to kids and road trips you never know. Nervous breakdowns and George Costanza moments can happen at any time, so you’re thankful for the things that make the experience better than expected. So with a little help I was happy that I checked one off the list for my kids. And even though it was a Not-So-Rocky Mountain-adventure we had a great time and 2014 was looking good.

 

The sliding area, where we spent most of the day. My kids seemed to get the hang of it pretty fast, although for some reason I kept spinning around and going backgrounds.

The sliding area, where we spent most of the day. My kids seemed to get the hang of it pretty fast, although for some reason I kept spinning around and going backgrounds.

 

My daughter enjoyed chillin' down the kiddie slide.

My daughter enjoyed chillin’ down the kiddie slide.

 

My son decided to go the Superman route. It was the best Justice League adventure yet.

My son decided to go the Superman route. It was the best Justice League adventure yet.

 

 

Sandbox Adventure List 23: Guats on Ice

16 Dec

He’d seen Charlie Brown do it.  He’d seen the L.A. Kings do it.

But considering I lived in The Golden State, I didn’t think this one would be possible. But when the Christmas spirit hits Southern California you can find a little bit of Winter Wonderland even in our 80-degree weather. So I took his Charlie Brown dream and made it happen. His sister was too small to remember Charlie Brown, but she’ll remember it this year.

I’d say we were like Kings on ice, but in truth there was a lot of falling and cold butts. We enjoyed every minute. In fact it was such a good Sandbox List Adventure it made me forget about the Parking War I had with this lady and her Chevy Suburban.

Normally I’m all for waiting, parking spots are hard to come by. But there are certain rules you follow when doing so and the number one common-sense-good-driver rule is don’t block traffic. Dude, just don’t do it. Don’t have the ass of your car hanging out onto on-coming traffic. Don’t stop your car in the middle of the lane, where you’re in the perfect position to take up the entire lane and nobody can squeeze by on the left or right of you. Don’t ignore the honking of multiple horns telling you to move your ass because your need for front-row parking may in fact get your tires slashed. Don’t wait more than ten minutes for someone to get into their car. It creates road rage for those trying to get to the parking spot four spaces down.

Yes. I was behind that woman, and it almost soured the entire experience. But eventually I was able to off-road it, go around her, and leave my George-Costanza state of mind in the parking lot.  Once I got to the ticket booth all I could see was the Charlie Brown possibilities.

 

Mastering the ice one step at a time.

Mastering the ice one step at a time.

 

His sister getting a feel for the ice on a different level.

His sister was getting a feel for the ice on a different level.

 

IMG_2341

Confident enough to let go of the wall he moves to the next stage … hanging on to the sled and pushing his sister.

 

She decided to be brave just like her brother and stand behind the seal.

She decided to be brave just like her brother and skate behind the seal.

In the end we had a good time falls and all.

In the end we had a good time falls and all.

 

 

Sandbox Adventure List 21: The Power of The Game Ball

15 Oct

I don’t know how you can be so small, worn-out, and dirty and have so much power.

You’re used, and bustin’ at the seams.  At first glance you don’t even look like you’re worthy of a glance. But in the hands of a little leaguer you are the most important thing ever … on Earth … in the universe. You deserve glances … many of them.

Game Ball.

Throughout all the Bad News Bears and Sandlot moments two players emerge holding you in their hands.

The power of the game ball.

The power of the game ball.

At the end of every game, I tell him he did great, I tell him he blasted it, I tell him he ran fast, I tell him I’m proud of him, and I mean it. I don’t mess around with those fake, empty compliments that adults lavish on kids. If he didn’t live up to his potential that game, I chalk it up to a bad day and tell him to do better next time. I give him truth and encouragement. I give him love and acceptance. I give him the good-job-pat-on-the-back booster. But the mighty Rawlings says everything better. The smile is evidence of it all.

It makes him feel vindicated. It produces pride and a sense of accomplishment in my little leaguer. It creates that awesome-moment feeling all day. It’s something he’s been wanting all season long. It’s something I as parent strive to do, but for some reason that honor was not mine. It was an Adventure List item he had to earn all by himself.

That day, the power of the mighty Rawlings dominated. That day, the power of the game ball brought a smile to his face all day and in truth it made me smile too. That day the green oversized No. 11 jersey, that seemed to drape over him on most days appeared to fit him just right.

And then that moment got me thinking … as a parent, as a mom, as a woman I need a game ball for life because sometimes those roles are giant-sized and you need to be reminded that you’re big enough to fit in those shoes — that you’re badass.

Game Ball … you’re pretty powerful stuff.

 

 

Sandbox Adventure List 16: Urban Cowboys

29 Jul

I felt the need to wear cowboy boots and a cowboy hat. Unfortunately I’m a baseball cap wearing city slicker and I had neither. But they still let me in. It was Cowboy and Cowgirl Day at the Autry National Center and the Guats were about to get our country on.

Billy The Kid.

Annie Oakley.

Bill Picket.

Wyatt Earp.

Doc Holiday.

Wild Bill Hickok.

Gene Autry.

With all this cowboy heritage and hospitality we felt right at home, even if we did say “dude” instead of y’all. We were introduced to the ways of the wrangler and this Sandbox Adventure List item was something we all enjoyed.

 

This is where the fun began.

This is where the fun began.

 

We started with rope tricks and realized we lacked the wrist action to be awesome cowboys ... we were urban cowboys.

We started with rope tricks and realized we lacked the wrist action to be awesome cowboys … we were urban cowboys.

 

Then the game of horseshoes began ... first my daughter gave it try. It was so awesome that she was out there for half an hour. She hit the peg once, but it was a spectacular one.

Then the game of horseshoes began … first my daughter gave it try. It was so awesome that she was out there for half an hour. She hit the peg once, but it was a spectacular one.

 

My son went on to the Big Leagues. He wasn't doing the plastic horseshoes. He felt grown up enough to try the real deal.

My son went on to the Big Leagues. He wasn’t doing the plastic horseshoes. He felt grown up enough to try the real deal. He definitely had some muscle behind those throws, Glad there were haystacks lying around to help protect people’s shins, because let me tell you … those horseshoes definitely hurt. Definitely. Note to self … stand behind the haystacks.

 

Then we headed into the museum to check out the exhibits, cowboy scavenger hunt, and horseshoe crafts.  Nothing like feathers and pipecleaners to make things fun.

Then we headed into the museum to check out the exhibits, cowboy scavenger hunt, and horseshoe crafts. Nothing like feathers and pipe cleaners to make things fun.

 

The masterpiece.

The masterpiece.

 

After the educating ourselves on the life and times of the cowboy, we decided to be part of The Gold Rush era and pan for gold. There was water everywhere.

After educating ourselves on the life and times of the cowboy, we decided to be part of The Gold Rush era and pan for gold. There was water everywhere.

 

We headed out

The day ended with an awesome gunslinger and lasso whirling show. A definite wild west photo opportunity.

 

The day ended with an awesome gunslinger and lasso whirling show.

With a name like Loop Rawlins this guy definitely caught our attention. He had mad cowboy skills.

 

By nap time we were all pooped out. Being a cowboy is tiring, even if it was just for a day.

At the end of our cowboy adventure, we were pooped out. Being a cowboy is tiring, even if it was just for a day.

 

Checking Your Crazy at the Door Makes Legoland Better

27 Mar

The hope. The anticipation. The excitement. It all started with a jar and ended with a smile and a couple of do-it-yourself souvenirs.

It was a marathon of kid excitement that involved a lot of walking, waiting, and sunscreen. But luckily my new meditation challenges have instilled a little more patience in me, so I’m less likely to be annoyed among the hundreds of wild preschoolers and Nickelodeon watching kids that flock to this kid Mecca. That’s right … The Guat is a proud parent survivor of LEGOLAND.

Normally we plan to attend the park on a weekday when the place is a little less crowded and the lines are little shorter. But since we were in San Diego for my friend’s wedding that weekend, where the death of my feet began because someone invented high heels and I was stupid enough to wear them, we decided to venture off to LEGOLAND the day after the wedding. We were all about doubling up on adventures, because the drive is always jam-packed with traffic and stupid drivers. And don’t even get me started on expensive gas prices. So with all this to consider, we brought the kids to the wedding, with my cousin — the babysitter — to watch them in the hotel room, between her massive texting and Facebook  status notifications. And while the happy couple was off to Maui for their honeymoon The Guats and company were off to LEGOLAND hoping to survive the weekend crowds. Yeah that’s right this time I had some support on this parenting adventure as my good friend Gloria and her family joined us.

But in truth, even with the comadre support I was still a little stressed out, because like any crazy mom I wanted to get there as soon as the doors opened. Seeing how our hotel was five minutes away from the park I was hoping to take advantage of the proximity, but plans always go awry. Stuff like eating a well-balanced breakfast to start off the day slows you down. But I remembered my go-with-the-flow meditation mantra and it proved to totally help hide my crazy.

And trust me when you’re surrounded by that many kids, that many rides and games, and that much potential for fun, you gotta be able to check your crazy mom schedule at the door, which I know is hard for moms because we all know that sticking to the schedule makes everything easier on you later as the afternoon and night progress. For every action there is an equal an opposite reaction. Newton. Genius … total genius.

This is why the schedule exists, but at LEGOLAND you learn that there are no schedules. It’s a go with the flow environment and in truth I’m usually that kind of chick, but when it comes to the kids I get a little crazy, which is why I probably have more gray hair now. You can’t really go with the flow with kids every day, all hell will break loose. But I’m happy to say that on Sunday, I checked my crazy at the door, and the LEGOLAND experience was a better one because of it.

 

This is his jar that starts off the LEGOLAND adventure every year.

This is his jar that starts off the LEGOLAND adventure every year.

 

I wasn't about to sit there and roll up all that change.

I wasn’t about to sit there and roll up all that change.

 

CoinStar … my savior. It counted …

5  Dollar Coins.

1 Half Dollar.

479 Quarters.

304 Dimes.

178 Nickels.

686 Pennies.

Totaling $171.41.

Admiring the scene and enjoying he moment as the parents getting it together and loading the stroller.

Admiring the scene and enjoying the moment as the parents get it together and load the stroller.

 

The friendly locals.

The friendly locals.

 

One of his favorite attractions.

One of his favorite attractions.

 

While her brother was getting his Junior Volvo driving license, she was busy checking out the stationary cars.

While her brother was getting his Junior Volvo driving license, she was busy checking out the stationary cars.

 

After driving school we decided to check out their new Pirate water attraction where we proceeded to get soaked.

After driving school we decided to check out their new Pirate water attraction where we proceeded to get soaked.

 

 Then we headed off to The Land of Adventure where they rode on all the rides at  least three times each. This one was our  favorite -- the giant slide.

Then we headed off to The Land of Adventure where they rode on all the rides at least three times each.

 

This one was our favorite -- the giant slide.

This one was our favorite — the giant slide.

 

After all the walking we ended up in the gift shop to buy firefighter Legos. But the best prizes were the two Angry Birds he won at the throwthe

After all the walking we ended up in the gift shop to buy firefighter Legos. But the best prizes were the two Angry Birds my son won at the throw-baseballs-and-knock-down-the-clowns-with-the-crazy-red-hair game. There was a lot of woo-hooing.

 

Sandbox List Adventure VII: The Price I Pay for Wearing Flip-Flops and Sunscreen During Winter

25 Feb

Now while most people are suffering through cold rainy weather and snow storms with temperatures in the 20s or 30s, here I was in Southern California with a 70-degree day. Sun shining and just the right amount of poofy clouds. I thought … I really need to get out of the house. I’m taking my sunshine for granted. I could be shoveling snow and using all kinds of Chapstick, but instead I have the opportunity to wear flip-flops and use sunscreen.

And so I showed some appreciation. I dragged myself out of bed and gave in to my kids’ break-of-dawn excitement on Sunday morning. Normally I just want to sleep in, you know every parents dream. Sleep in until 9 a.m. without disturbance. But today was not the day for that dream. I woke up just like every other day  …  at 7 a.m. and instead of rolling over and turning on Sunday morning cartoons — the awesome human snooze button for parents trying to savor another thirty minutes of sleep in the morning — I dragged myself out of bed and declared a beach day.

But this beach day would include an adventure to be crossed off the Sandbox List. And in truth it was an adventure for three. It’s been four years (almost two years for my daughter) of summer beach trips, and I couldn’t believe that we hadn’t done this. I’ve always wanted to do that myself and I know my kids thought the idea was pretty awesome. There was sand flying everywhere and getting everywhere. But I took one for the team and they were ecstatic about it. After completing a pretty awesome sandcastle, our biggest one yet, complete with seashell decorations, I ventured into the all-time parent duty: Letting your kids bury you in the sand. Now no matter how tightly I tucked in my shirt, sand seemed to creep its way into various body cracks and breathing passages. But with my kids giggling, smiling, and laughing the grains of sand didn’t seem to bother me as much. It’s the price I pay for the privilege of wearing flip-flops and sunscreen during “winter”. This adventure might have only lasted fifteen minutes, but it was a quality fifteen-minute span. Something I hope they remember enjoying.

 

It first started with the castle. They had to practice working with sand and placing it in the right spot. I really didn't want to get too much sand in my face.

It first started with the sandcastle. They had to practice working with sand and placing it in the right spot. I really didn’t want to get too much sand in my face.

 

After completely destroying the castle Project Bury Mom began. They started at the bottom.

After completely destroying the castle Operation Bury Mom began. They started at the bottom.

 

This where I thought ... well maybe this might not be a great idea. However my son and daughter disagreed, they continued using their green and blue buckets, in addition to their hands and any other sand toys they could find.

This is where I thought … well maybe this might not be a great idea. However my son and daughter disagreed, they continued using their green and blue buckets, dump truck, bulldozer, hands and any other sand toys they could find.

 

The final step of Operation Bury Mom complete. My son wanted to add seashells, but I told him my face wasn't a good place for decoration. So he added a little bit more sand.

The final step of Operation Bury Mom complete. My son wanted to add seashells, but I told him my face wasn’t a good place for decoration. So he added a little bit more sand.