My sister is coming! My sister is coming!

I promise to get a better family portrait when they visit!

Looks like my sister and her family are coming to visit the last two weeks in July and the first week of August.

I’m starting a list of FUN THINGS TO DO IN SOUTH ORANGE COUNTY (Well, actually probably more accurate to say South California..) Then Sue and her Brit/Aussie husband can decide what looks the most fun for them and their two little girls.

Free Concerts in the Park – When I lived in Joshua Tree, Bella and I would go to virtually every free concert in the park all summer long. After a hot summer day, running in the cool grass and chatting with friends while the sun set, all to the backdrop of great live music – well, what says summer more than that? The concert in particular that I want to see is the Beatles Tribute on July 30. This is at the Crown Valley Community Park in Laguna Niguel from 6pm-8pm.
Ice Skating – Ever since my 3-year old niece saw Disney On Ice, she has been enamored with well, Minnie, but also with ice skating.
Luckily there a rink not two miles from my house. It costs $12 per adult and $3 for skate rentals. (No Homeschooling Mondays during the summer.)

Great photo opps with the balloon.

Hot Air Balloon Ride – Amazingly, this is also free. And technically it’s not hot air but helium that brings 25-30 people 400 feet into the air above the city of Irvine. It’s open only Thursday-Sunday.
Wild Seal Watching at La Jolla’s Children’s Beach – We went to watch the wild seals (no sea lions that day) and both Christian and I were riveted. This is a long drive (at least an hour), but it’s free to watch and then you can go eat at the Brockton Villa (we had crab cakes, clam chowder, and the kobi sliders – all was great).

The Kogi Truck – Can’t seem to get enough of the Korean-Mex mash-up. It’s such perfect co-existence of two cultures. Tacos are $2 (kalbi, chicken, tofu, or spicy pork); burritos and quesadillos are $5, and specials are $5-$7.

Touching manta rays at Sea World on Homeschooling Day (admission was $8!)

The SoCal Unavoidable: Disneyland, Seaworld, San Diego Zoo – the best way to do this, I think, is to bite the bullet and buy the Southern California City Pass which includes tickets to all of the above attractions and is good for 14 days from the first ticket you use. An adult costs $269 and kids 3-9 are $229. Gulp. But consider this: an adult ticket to Disneyland alone is $184!!

Waldorf in the Woods – I think my niece will love our weekly playgroup. She’ll be able to catch it at least twice. In addition, we’ll try and make the new weekly Future Homeschoolers park day on Tuesdays.

Downtown Los Angeles. I like it more each time I visit...

Los Angeles by Train – As much as I love the Huntington, I’m thinking that anything as far as Pasadena will be difficult because we’ll have three babies (one only two months old) to consider. On the other hand, the TRAIN is always fun and takes us to downtown LA and Chinatown and back. There is a great Metrolink package called Friends and Family 4-Pack which is 4 adult roundtrip tickets anywhere on Metrolink for only $29. That’s great because one adult ticket roundtrip to LA is almost $15! Kids under 5 are free, up to three kids per paying adult.

Anna and Max on a winter desert walk.

The desert is so gorgeous though, in the National Park especially.

I’d love to take them to Joshua Tree, but again, that’s a long trip.
My house there will be empty though those last two weeks of July…

Don't tell Bella I posted this pic.

Sea slug

Tidepooling – While I’ve long been a fan of Tablerock in south Laguna (from there you can swim to Secret Cove, and walk through the arch rock to Tortuaga, which is normally only accessible by walking to the north end of 1000 Steps Beach and scrambling over a rock jut), I’ve lately been appreciating the north Laguna beaches. The tidepools are just amazing at Diver’s, Fisherman’s, and Shaw’s Cove. Parking is free or metered, there are rarely crowds and I can see some art on my way out.

If we go to south Laguna though, we can stop in and visit my s-i-l's family and their pet pig, Oblio.

I’d love to go strawberry or cherry picking, but the timing might not be right.

Noi naa has already skyped with Sierra's kids and is looking forward to riding bicycles with them.

Sierra and the kidlets.

I anticipate some time hanging out with Sierra and her kids Anna, Aiden, and Oliver.

I assure you, Christian DOES like ice skating even if it doesn't look like it in this pic.

Food I’m planning: Algerian Lamb Shanks, Eggplant Parmesan, Spice-Stuffed Okra, Pesto, Rice Nut Burgers, Orange Chicken and Lemon Risotto, those Sweet Sticky Ribs I love, Salmon Wellington (Bella can do), Flax Muffins
Sue misses Mexican food, so we’ll make an effort to do some of that. I like Baja Fish Tacos; it would be good to meet Chad there after work on a Wednesday. I like Javier’s too, but that means the Spectrum, although Sue may have some shopping she wants to do.
Other possible places to eat out: We recently discovered Bistro K which looks great and has a half-price menu during happy hour. We’ll also make a requisite trip to In ‘n Out – luckily that’s walking distance and easy to do after Thursdays Waldorf in the Woods playgroup. La Rana is a Mexican food joint within walking distance, and we like to hit Baja Fresh every once in a while too. Of course the tamales at the Sunday Laguna Niguel Farmer’s Market will be a must.
Maybe we’ll hit the Original Pancake House for breakfast one weekday morning. If they want pizza, we like The Upper Crust at the Greenfield plaza.
Shopping: Although Bangkok is great for shopping in many respects, nice clothes, bathing suits and good shoes are better here. I’ll take Sue to Loehmann’s and Nordstrom Rack. We’ll hit the Newport Children’s Bootery for washable leather pediped sandals for Noi naa. If she’s aching for more, we can hit TJ Maxx too.
(Okay Maura, NOW I call this post finished.)
[P.S. July 21, we may go to the free family day at OCMA. We also hope to include two days of easy camping at Caspar’s. And Joss is welcome to do a long ride (50-70 miles) with Chad – on any given day that we go somewhere far, odds are that Chad will want to bike there to meet us.]

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