Christmas Cheer at Santa’s Village- 2017 Winter Season

Christmas Cheer at Santa’s Village- 2017 Winter Season

Christmas Cheer has filled the air once again at Santa’s Village. The moment you enter the park you are taken to a place just North of the Pole. Jingle Bells on the radio and elves around to assist you with your adventure. From Santa’s house to a rock climbing wall, there is something everyone in the family will enjoy.

Our first stop was Santa’s house, where we were able to mark our names down in the “good book” while we waited a short time to see Santa. The kids were pretty excited to share their Christmas wishes with the big guy. I was thrilled to see that only one family can enter at a time, this uninterrupted moment made it even more magical. The ambiance of the room was delightful and true to what anyone would picture Santa’s house to be.

After our visit with Santa, we were off to his workshop. There are various activities to do, some of which are for a small fee but all of which are fun. You can write a letter to Santa, paint a wood toy, make an ornament and build a snow globe. All of these activities are done with the help of Santa’s elves. My children made an ornament and painted a wood toy train.

Walking around the village were friendly characters available to take pictures and tell stories. Every single one of the staff were helpful, kind and professional. I feel that it is so rare to find places with great customer service but Skypark at Santa’s Village is not lacking one bit in that department. It feels as though the employees really enjoy their job and are happy to be at work.

There are plenty of adventurous activities to do as well within the park. You can go rock climbing, zip lining, bike riding and so much more. Archery seemed to be a big hit with families and taking a bounce on Blitzen’s bungee also was a crowd pleaser.

For a small extra fee you can sign up for a workshop with Mrs. Claus. My children wanted to build a gingerbread house and so they did. Mrs. Claus and her helper elf worked with the children and although some of them didn’t quite turn out, they were delicious! All of the food at Skypark is delicious to say the least.

We finished our day watching the parade and tree lighting ceremony where we sang Christmas music and waved too all of the characters, including the resident wolf Arrow. It was truly a magical day for us as a family and honestly cannot wait to go again. Check out the webpage for more information and to purchase your tickets online.


Fall Adventures

Fall Adventures

The last few months have been a whirlwind. Lots of changes and adventures took place over the summer. Now we are gearing up for the holidays.

Weather is finally starting to cooperate and give Southern California some coolers days. Which means its time for me to bring out the Autumn decor and turn on the pumpkin spice wax warmers. Out of all the season God gives us, Fall is my favorite.

Coming Soon

We have a few exciting adventures planned for October and I cant wait to bring them to you! I know that I am always looking for new places to celebrate the season and I am sure you are as well. I have found great pumpkin patches, spooky camp grounds and not so spooky theme parks. So stay tuned folks and get ready to join us in our adventures.

Glo have fun! Glo Mini Golf Riverside Ca

Glo have fun! Glo Mini Golf Riverside Ca

When you are born and raised in Riverside California, you take pride in knowing all of the spots to go when you want something to do. Little did I know I have been missing out on a true gem.

Located on the outside of the Riverside Tyler Mall is Glo Mini Golf, an indoor mini golf space. Among mini golf, you can play arcade games, rent an Xbox and have fun with a little virtual reality. There is also an ice cream and snack bar on the top floor.

When checking in for golf, you are able to pick a color golf ball that of course is neon and your club that is as well a neon color. 12$ for 27 holes is a wonderful price, especially when you get the added experience of it being in the dark! You also have the option of getting 3D glasses to wear during your golf game for a small 2$ fee.

After getting our golf necessities, we headed to our first golf hole. The 3D glasses were awesome. The floor popped under our feet, the wall seemed to be moving and our putt appeared to be perfect! Mini golfing with a 3 & 5-year-old is not the easiest, especially when you are also golfing with a very competitive husband, but watching them all laugh and jump with excitement when they got a ball  in the hole was priceless.

Most of the holes were dedicated to another portion of the world. It was fun guessing the landmark used and where it was from. The walls were adorned with amazing artwork, painted in bright colors so that they too would pop in the black lights. Although the holes were not very challenging, they were exactly perfect for the space.

After our round of mini golf, we tried out some arcade games. All of the games cost a minimal amount, compared to other arcades. Games were geared towards all ages, some for smaller children and some for the older crowd. They were all very generous with tickets and the prizes were great.

Since you are going to want to go back to Glo Mini Golf over and over again, you might want to pick up some of their Glo merchandise to wear around town or next time you stop by for a round of golf or an arcade game or two!

Overall I have to say this was one of the funnest things we have done in Riverside lately and I definitely suggest you all check it out! Head to their website and plan your trip to Glo Mini Golf!

Sea World San Diego- A New Experience in 2017

Sea World San Diego- A New Experience in 2017

Since I was a child one of my favorite places to visit has been Sea World. The experience is always magical and memorable. When I heard about all of the new attractions opening this summer at Sea World San Diego, I knew I had to go!

We arrived at the park right when it opened and rushed over to ride Submarine Quest, the newest adventure ride. Unfortunately it was shut down. We checked back throughout the day and when it finally did open the wait time was over 2 hours. Needless to say, we did not wait in the line.
Other new rides such as the Aqua Scout, Tentacle Twirl and the Sea Dragon Drop were fun for our little ones. I would describe this area as one for ages 3-7. Wait times were not long for us since we were there so early but as we re visited the area throughout the day, the lines did increase.

Also in this new area was eel’s, octopus and crab. There were fun tunnels that the children could crawl through and emerge inside a dome. This gave them a 360 degree view of the inside of the tank. It is always a fun moment watching your children’s eyes light up with amazement.

One of the many things that I love about Sea World is the education you receive about sea life. The new Orca Encounter Show gives you facts about the whales and allows you to view these majestic animals at the same time. I feel privileged that myself and my children’s love and knowledge of Orca’s and other sea animals has grown with each visit to Sea World. Personally I cannot wait to see what else they have in store.

The dolphin encounter is perfect for children and adults alike to view them swimming. They are such a playful species. The seals are also a wonderful animal to engage with through feeding or just talking too. Both of my children are still talking about how close they were to these animals and the moments they shared laughing will be one of my favorite memories.

San Diego Sea World has such an easy layout with very little, if any, back tracking. There are loops in which you can see everything in the park if you just follow the map. With San Diego having some of the best weather in California, it was a pleasure walking around and enjoying the sunshine. Check out this park map on the Sea World website to plan your route ahead of time. Sea World San Diego Map

This summer they are offering a night-time atmosphere, including glow shows, a live DJ and lots of black lights. I must say that even after a long day in the park, my entire family was pumped up to dance and sing. Our children wore clothing that glowed in the lights around the park which made them feel really special. Sea World also sales many different items to help you glow with the night. The night-time shows were all spectacular and also popular. If you are wanting to catch one of these shows, be early to make sure you have a seat.

From sharks to whales and turtles too, all of the animals at Sea World San Diego offer their visitors memories, education and up close encounters that cannot be had through a television. To purchase your tickets to the park visit their website at Sea World San Diego Tickets

Mr. Joe’s Farm and Petting Zoo – Perris California

Mr. Joe’s Farm and Petting Zoo – Perris California

Being a homeschool family leaves plenty of time to find fun and educational day trips to go on. So when a friend mentioned going to a farm in Perris, CA, we jumped on the opportunity.

Since I had never heard of Mr. Joe’s Farm, I really didn’t know what to expect. The farm is Mr. Joe and his wife Stacey’s private residence and you do have to make an appointment to come on the property. There is only a small sign on the fence to indicate you are there and once you get to the gate, you will have to be let in.

After parking we were greeted by Stacey and her friendly dog Foxy. Stacey was so kind and patient. She showed us around the farm and introduced the animals, answering any questions we had. Her love for her farm and animals was apparent. The couple gives these tours at no cost, only accepting donations so that everyone has the opportunity to see these animals up close, no matter their economic status.

We saw alpacas, llamas, goats, mini horses and donkeys but our favorite was Oscar the camel. I have to say that I may be a bit biased since I have a love for camels but he really was the most amazing animal on the farm. He was gentle and friendly with everyone in our group, posing for pictures and allowing us to pet him.

After our tour, Stacey allowed us to walk around and we even could have picnicked there if we wanted. I have to say that the only thing that would have made the experience even more fantastic would have been cats with litters of kittens to play with, but that’s just my opinion. It really was such an exciting day for the kids and they even learned a few things about farm life. If you would like to schedule a time to go see Mr. Joe’s Farm, head to their website at Mr. Joe’s Farm Home for more information.

Hello Riverside! Signed Book Giveaway

Hello Riverside! Signed Book Giveaway

Shining Thoughts Blog has teamed up with Hello Riverside for an amazing GIVEAWAY!
Being a Riverside CA blog and loving all things Riverside has to offer, we were thrilled to see a child’s board book published called Hello Riverside. This beautifully illustrated book depicts some of the best places to play throughout our gorgeous city.
So here is the scoop. We have an author signed copy of Hello Riverside that we want to give away to one lucky family. All you have to do to enter is like Shining Thoughts Blog as well as Hello Riverside on Facebook AND leave us a comment on the giveaway post with your favorite memory of Riverside. Your memory can be from the past or present, bonus points for pictures!! If you are not from Riverside, you can still win! Just comment what you would like to see if you were visiting.

Winner will be drawn at random on February 14th and announced on this post. Feel free to share with your friends and family so they can get in on the fun as well. Good luck!

This giveaway is not affiliated with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any other social media outlet. Please keep comments and pictures G rated, this is a family blog/book.

Knott’s Berry Farm- Affordable and Fun!

Knott’s Berry Farm- Affordable and Fun!

We had Disneyland passes for almost 10 years. Some of our best memories were made there. With the price increases over the years and the change in the handicap procedure, we finally had to take a stand and discontinue our wonderful family days at Disneyland.

With Disneyland off the table, we wanted to try some of our other local amusement parks. So at the end of 2016, we purchased our Knott’s Berry Farm season passes and we were just able to use them this past weekend. Knott’s season passes vary with your needs, some of which come with admission to Knott’s Soak City.

Parking was amazing! There was a slight suck when we had to walk up and down a steep hill pushing strollers but a little exercise never hurt anyone. When we entered the park, there was Franklin and Charlie Brown with only a few people in line for pictures. My children were thrilled! Then we made our way to Camp Snoopy which was literally right by the front entrance. I love this fact because parents with little ones don’t have to trek across the park to get their fun started.

The rides in Camp Snoopy were themed and my children loved the fact that it was a land for them. The lines were not short but not crazy long either. It was actually quiet large and there was plenty of space for you to picnic, watch your children on the rides or just take a little break. There was also lots of bathrooms throughout Camp Snoopy which is fantastic!!

Another area in Camp Snoopy had props relating to the Peanuts characters and 3 characters waiting to take pictures with all the guests of the park. The line was so short!! Snoopy showed my children his dog house and Woodstock showed my son how to flap his wings. Interactions like that are priceless. They were not trying to rush through the line and really took time to connect to my children.

We knew our children were not going to be able to ride much of anything else because of their height but we strolled around the park and really enjoyed it. There is a ton to look at, little shows to stop and watch and lots of delicious food options. Knott’s Berry Farm feels like a throwback amusement park and I love it!

I purchased a refillable cup that we can use through the year for free refills. 30$ kinda seemed high but if you do the math and use it often, it is worth it, especially since you can refill it at different places throughout the park. You just have to remember to bring it with you each time you come to the park. We also purchased a cup of strawberries and candy both of which were very well priced for an amusement park.

There was still a ton that we did not get to see or do and I am looking forward to a time that just my husband and I can have a day there to ride all the rollercoasters. For only 91$ a pass, I think it was completely worth it and know that we will get a lot of use out of it! If you would like to purchase a season pass you can click Knott’s Season Passes  and print yours at home!

Monster Jam 2017 at Angels Stadium

Monster Jam 2017 at Angels Stadium

Monster Jam is in southern California and my son loves monster trucks so of course the entire family had to get tickets. We were all so excited to see his reaction. I was very surprised to see how much tickets were for seats way up at the top. When I was younger, you were able to purchase a family 4 pack of tickets for 20$ and now tickets are 25$ a piece, plus taxes and fee’s. Of course we paid it and were happy to see these huge trucks do their thing at the big A!

When we got to the stadium we saw that parking was 20$ to park on the grounds. Having two little ones in tow means the closer the better, so we paid the money instead of parking in one of the neighboring parking lots for half the price.

After parking we headed up to the gate to enter. It was an absolute mess. People were clustered up trying to get through 6 metal detectors. There were no lines that made sense and tons of people cutting in line. If I was in charge, I would have roped off designated lines for each metal detector so that there was some order.

Once we were able to get into the stadium and find our seats, it was time for the show to start. Or at least we thought it was. Our tickets showed a start time of 6:30 but the event did not get started till 7:00. Finally the lights dimmed and the trucks came out. It was adorable seeing my son with his wow face. The trucks did a parade lap and he pointed out his favorite ones. We all cheered and shouted as they lined up for their qualifying laps.

After the shock of their loud engines and enormous size wore off, which didn’t take long, we were waiting for the flips, wheelies and tricks to start. They didn’t. Each truck took a turn making two laps around the designated space, then they had a wheelie competition that consisted of the trucks driving up heaps of dirt and getting a little air. There was a moment that you could almost feel the entire stadium take a deep breath of disappointment. As I noticed little boys start to lose interest, parents had to resort to pulling out their smart phones and allowing their children to watch Netflix and play games. If that wasn’t bad enough, we then had to entertain our son, as well did other parents of little ones, during a very LONG intermission.

Finally the freestyle portion was going to begin and the excitement rose again. First truck up drove around, went up the hills, did some donuts and revved its engine. Second truck the same. No crazy jumps, flips or fireworks. We all kept waiting for something amazing to happen and finally a truck tried to flip his truck, the crowd was on their feet, first time of the night besides during the wave. Finally it was getting good……. sike out! Everything in me wanted to get up and go. No one in my family was interested anymore and neither was anyone around us. The money I had spent on tickets kept me there.

The last couple trucks to go in the freestyle comp were the only trucks we had ever heard of. They put on a good show, trying flips, rolling their trucks and getting the crowd into the show but by that point, we were over it. My children had no more interest and they were ready to go. I felt sad for my son, we had built him up for a good show and that was not what we had got.

After doing a little research, we saw that Monster Jam was going on in numerous states across the United States on the same night. All the trucks that we knew of had either multiple trucks spread throughout the different shows or they were only at certain shows. Each show with only a few big name monster trucks. No name, no sponsor (or small sponsor) trucks were fillers for the shows. They were not putting on a good show because the damage to their trucks would be coming from their own bank account, not a sponsors.

When a family is spending good money to come see a monster truck show, they should receive a show and that is not what happened in Anaheim. I believe that Monster Jam saw the popularity rising and they jumped on the opportunity to make every dollar they could while it lasted but in turn the show was affected.

I am terribly disappointed because my son did not leave with a greater love of monster trucks, he left not wanting to go back.


Skypark at Santa’s Village

Skypark at Santa’s Village

We woke up before the sun did to make the drive up the mountain. Listened to Christmas music all the way up and paused only a moment to see the sun rise. When we started to see snow on the ground, we knew we had to be getting close. Then we saw it, Santa’s Village.

Candy canes and rocking horses surrounded by snow. Log cabins dressed with garland and poinsettias. Christmas trees all decorated in a unique fashion. In an instant we were transported to the north pole. My inner child was glowing and my daughters joy was apparent.

As we stepped into Skypark at Santa’s Village we were greeted with warm smiles, which was exactly what we needed. The wind chill had to be negative a billion and with the temperature only set to hit a high of 28, we were already freezing to our core. I knew it was going to be cold, but never could have prepared for this.


Arrow, Santa’s wolf, was eager to give kisses and welcome us to his home. He had to be the most beautiful K9 we had ever seen, his piercing light blue eyes told the true story of this magical place.


A land of log cabins, Christmas tree’s and wonder awaited for us to explore and we jumped right in. We started at Arrow’s Adventure Peddle Cars where we peddled through helping Arrow collect the Santa Key. This key helps Santa gain entrance to homes with no chimney for him to wiggle down. Then jumped to the Polar Express Train ride that takes you around Silver Bells Ice Skating Ring. Stopped for a photo with Arrow and roamed the Sky Trading Company.


There was plenty of places to eat or get a treat such as K’s Kandyshoppe and Creamery as well as St. Nick’s Patio and Grille.  Our favorite was The Gingerbread house. The building was a gingerbread house and adorned with candies and frosting. They carried many baked good items and of course made the best gingerbread cookies we have ever tasted.


After satisfying your sweet tooth seek help from the elves in making a wonderful craft and writing your letter to Mr. Claus. Get all of your energy out taking a climb up the rock wall or up and around a gigantic dump truck. Weather permitting you can even take a spin on the strider bike course. Then it will be time to visit Santa Claus which was the highlight of our North Pole adventure.

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Scarlet pushed the door open to his home and stopped in her tracks as she saw Santa and Mrs. Claus sitting next to the fireplace. A beautifully decorated teddy bear Christmas tree behind good ol Saint Nick and a mantle full of Christmas decor was exactly what I envisioned his home looking like. This moment will forever be etched in my memories. Watching my daughter sit on Santa’s lap and recite her wish list. Santa carrying on the conversation about candy canes and hot cocoa. I never could have asked for a sweeter encounter. Leaving Santa’s home we made sure to place a hand on the always frozen North Pole.

The wind and cold weather never let up so we made our way to Kringles and had the most delicious cup of hot cocoa. Adding our candy canes to our cocoa, as Santa had recommended, gave it that extra shot of Christmas. The log cabin decor inside was the perfect setting for my daughter and I to visit and enjoy warming up in.

From Christmas carols to train rides and biking to rock walls, Skypark at Santa’s Village is an experience everyone should have. Bringing this old gem back to life and reimagining it to an even better establishment that can bring happiness to all ages year around. Genuinely friendly and helpful staff fill this place with the magic it takes to be, Santa’s Village.



Visit Skypark at Santa’s Village to purchase your tickets and to get all the information you need before visiting the park.

Once you are truly in the Christmas spirit be sure to check out our Christmas Ornament DIY for a wonderful Ornament inspiration.

We would love to hear about your experience at Skypark, leave us a comment below! Merry Christmas!

A Day Out With Thomas The Train In Perris Ca

A Day Out With Thomas The Train In Perris Ca

Every November, for as long as I can remember, I have driven past a huge billboard in Perris, CA that featured Thomas the Train. A day out with Thomas at Orange Empire Railway Museum it read. I was intrigued but always had plans for those weekends.

Recently my son has picked up a liking for Thomas the Train and I figured it was the perfect time to look into going. So I purchased our tickets for the second train of the day which was at 9:30. Tickets cost 25$ per person, including children 2 and up. For that amount of money, my standards were set pretty high.


We arrived an hour early, which is suggested on the website. The parking lot was already starting to fill up at that point which was very surprising. I didn’t realize it was such a popular event. There were plenty of signs pointing you to where you needed to be which helped eliminate confusion. After our tickets were scanned and we entered, I could see Thomas. I watched as my son’s eyes spotted him as well and I could see the wonderment and excitement on his face.


There was quite a few activities to do and my children wasted no time getting into them. We followed the map to earn stamps, once all stamps were collected you were given a prize. Walked through a hay maze. Jumped in Thomas the Train bounce houses. Watched a Thomas episode. Took a picture with Sir Topham Hatt and drank some delicious lemonade.


Then the time came to ride on Thomas the Train. We got our boarding pass and jumped aboard. The children were given an Junior Engineer Certificate and the Conductor announced over the intercom where we were headed. A quick trip to the edge of Perris and back. My children and most the children aboard were so filled with joy. My son told me “Mommy we are riding on Thomas the Train!”

Once we got off the train it seemed like the crowd size had tripled and there were lines everywhere. We headed over to take a picture with Thomas and had to wait 30 minutes. The volunteers rushed us through, snapping a quick picture and leading us away from the Train docking area.


I suggest picking the first train departure time of the day to beat the crowds and to get parking. When we left, they were parking cars pretty far away from the entrance. In order to do everything they offer with the event, you should allow yourself at least a couple of hours. There are plenty of picnic benches and food vendors to choose from if you need a break for lunch.

Overall the experience was wonderful for my children, it was an experience they will not soon forget and worth the money. Orange Empire Railway Museum also offers other seasonal activities, including Easter Train, Halloween Train and a Santa Train. You can check their website for more information on these events and more.