Friday, July 1, 2011

4th of July

Fourth of July comes early this year in Porterville.  On Saturday, July 2nd is Freedom Fest.  This is a family event sponsored by the City of Porterville and the Tule River Tribe.  It starts at 4:30pm at the Sports Complex with lots of family friendly activities and culminates with a fireworks show at 9:00pm.  The cost is $5 per car and $5 per wristband for the kids zone.  Bring your blankets and chairs.  Click on the link for more specifics.

Sunday, July 3rd is the Tulare Noon Kiwanis Fireworks Show at the Tulare County Fairgrounds.  Gates open at 6pm, entrance fee is $5 per person (6 and under free).  We went to this show last year because my husband worked on 4th of July and we had a great time.  They had tons of cute contests (from a hat contest to watermelon seed spitting) and the fireworks were great.

If you feel like taking a drive, the Camp Nelson Volunteer Firefighters are hosting their annual BBQ Fundraiser on Sunday, July 3rd 3-7pm.  The event is located in the meadow near the fire station.  Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children.  There is live music and door prizes.    

Exeter celebrates 4th of July all day long, beginning with a pancake breakfast and 10K/2mi walk beginning at 7am.  Live entertainment, food vendors, and arts and crafts vendors are available in the park (Chestnut and E Street) from 9am-3pm.  Exeter Lions Club sponsors a fireworks show (donations appreciated) at dusk at Dobson Field.  Bring blankets and chairs, but no ice chests allowed.  I have gone to the park in the afternoon the last two years on 4th of July.  There are great tri-tip sandwiches and lots of unique booths to peruse.  There is a long gap between the end of the park events and the fireworks show, so I wouldn't recommend staying all day--go early and hit the park or go later for the fireworks. 

The Fresno Grizzlies are playing the Sacramento Rivercats (Oakland A's affiliate) at 7:05pm on Monday, July 4th followed by a fireworks show.  You will want to purchase tickets in advance, they are anticipating selling out. 
Have a great 4th of July!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Going, going...

Blueberry picking season is almost gone and with this cool weather, today is the perfect day to pick!  We are headed out this afternoon and I am hoping for a freezer stockpile large enough to get me through until next season. 

If you need more information on our local options for u-pick blueberries, visit my previous post by clicking here.

In case you've been under a rock...

Don't forget, Cars 2 (rated G) premiered last Friday.  I am so thankful Galaxy Theater is finally offering one theater of 3D and one theater of regular 2D.  I guess I am getting old, but the 3D gives me a headache, my daughter doesn't wear her glasses, and it costs a lot more.  I LOVE having a regular 2D option!  My daughter has been looking forward to seeing it since the first advertisement we heard for it at least a year ago. 

Although temperatures are on their way down, this is a great way to spend a summer afternoon, hit the weekday all-you-can-eat buffet (11am-2pm) across the parking lot at Pizza Factory before your movie and that'll save you some money at the concession stand.   

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Porterville's Sesquicentennial Celebration

I can't believe I will not be in town to participate in Porterville's Sesquicentennial Celebration.  It's okay if you can't pronounce sesquicentennial, just say:  Porterville's 150th Birthday.

The Pioneer Days Celebration will take place on Saturday, June 25, 2011 from 4-10pm at Centennial Park (next to Hoagie's on Main Street).  It sounds like there will be a lot to see and would be worth checking out.  There will be people in western attire, horse drawn vehicle rides, reenactments, and live music.   

Prepare for the celebration by reading an interesting article on the history of Porterville.  Test your knowledge of Porterville with a short quiz.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Free Country Concert

Steel Magnolia will be performing in Exeter's City Park on Wednesday, June 22nd at 7pm as part of KJUGs Free Summer Concert series. 

This is a great way to take kids to a concert.  The price is right, FREE!  You can bring your own refreshments (especially nice when it's going to be 100+ degrees).  You can make yourself (and your kids) comfortable (bring lawn chairs and/or a blanket).  There is a playground nearby to entertain the kids while you wait (you will probably want to get there a little early to stake out a spot). 

If I remember correctly from last year, they usually have a few vendors selling food (I think I remember tri-tip sandwiches and the A&W truck selling rootbeer and rootbeer floats).  If you don't want to bring your own refreshments, I bet you can find something there. 

To get to the City Park take Hwy 65  through Exeter.  Turn left on Chestnut.  The park is located between D and E Streets.  It's only about 20 mintues from Porterville.  Parking is free.  Another bonus, you can get gas at the Arco in Lindsay (right off Hwy 65 by Burger King), yesterday it was $3.69--way cheaper than any place in Porterville!  

Monday, June 20, 2011

Summer Reading

I intended to post daily, but sometimes life happens.  Today I wanted to write about our local library.  The Porterville Public Library is a good, free (as long as you return your books on time), air-conditioned source of summer fun.   Their summer hours are Monday-Thursday 9am-8pm and Friday-Saturday 9am-6pm. 

If you don't already have a library card, it's easy to get; just go to the library and fill out an application.  If you make visiting the library part of your weekly routine it's easy to remember to return your books on time.  Keep the printout they give you listing all of the books you checked out so you can make sure they are all returned.  I designated one of our reusable shopping bags to tote all of our books to and from the library (I try to keep our library books in it--separate from our own books).  Right now there are several designs of cute Dr. Seuss bags in the Target dollar section, get one for each of your kids.  Another idea is to put your library card and the printout of books you checked out in an i.d. badge lanyard and hang from the handle of the bag. 

Story hour is held for preschoolers (and perhaps K-1) children on Tuesday mornings 10-11am.  They read a few books, sing a few songs, and provide a craft for the children.  A few of the readers are really animated and make it fun for the kids.  They usually follow a theme during each story hour, choosing books by the same author or about the same subject.  I made it a point to take my daughter before she started preschool.  There is a lapsit story hour for babies newborn to 18 months every other Thursday at 10:00-10:30am (June 30th is the next one).  I have not attended, as it was not available when my daughter was a baby.

There are summer reading programs going on right now.  Registration is free and is open right now.  You will receive a reading log to record titles of books read.  Earn a prize by reading 10 board books or 50 pages.  Summer Reading Program craft time is Mondays 6-7pm and Wednesdays 4-5pm.

Take a few minutes to grab a book for yourself too.  You may be thinking, "How can I peruse books with my kids?"  Well, with a little preplanning you can browse books online and pick them up at the library.  Even if  you're not a reader there are still so many things to check out:  cookbooks, parenting books, DVDs, etc.  Give the library a try this summer, it sure beats the prices on Amazon!   

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Lindsay Farmers Market

Every Friday night from 5:30-10pm through November Lindsay's Sweet Briar Plaza becomes a Farmers Market.  There are produce vendors, but that is only a small portion of the vendors.  You can enjoy dinner from one of the many food vendors (shaved ice is my personal favorite).  Explore the overwhelming number of flea market type booths.  There is usually a bounce house set up for the kids available for a small fee.  My favorite part is the live music and water feature.  My daughter LOVED it (yes, this is an old picture...2008)!  

The people of Lindsay are super friendly and Sweet Briar Plaza is beautiful.  When I visit Sweet Briar Plaza I feel like I've been transported out of Tulare County.  If you are not familiar with the area take Hwy 65 to Lindsay and go east on Hermosa.  You will see McDermont Field House on your left and the Farmers Market is to your right.     

I have to admit we didn't make it at all last summer, but we spent just about every Friday night there the year before.  This is one of the reasons I decided to start this blog--although I knew about the Lindsay Farmers Market, it was no longer on my radar and I just forgot to go.  It is not like any other farmers market I have ever visited.  

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Just Keep Swimming, Just Keep Swimming

Swimming is great exercise and is a confidence builder in children.  With the large number of homes around Porterville with backyard pools, I think learning how to swim is a must.  It gives me peace of mind knowing my child could get out if she fell (or was thrown) in a pool. 

My daughter is in her second week of swimming lessons at the City Pool in Murray Park.  Parks and Leisure offers four sessions of lessons throughout the summer.  Each session is two weeks long and consists of 30 minute lessons Monday-Friday.  There are two morning and two late afternoon options:  10:40-11:10am, 11:20-11:50am, 4:40-5:10pm, and 5:20-5:50pm.  It is an excellent value for the $30 session fee for your first child and $25 for siblings.  Sign up in person at the pool on Mondays or Fridays.  Call the pool for more information:  782-7543.

Swim teachers are young, energetic, and Red Cross certified.  Last summer my daughter adored one of her swim teachers and made great progress.  I can't wait to see what she'll be able to do at the end of this summer!

I do not have an opinion on all of the classes, but I wanted to give you a quick overview of what you might expect in a few of the classes for toddlers and preschoolers.  Parents do not always pay attention to the ages advised for the classes.  They are not usually strict on enforcing the age recommendations.  I have only enrolled my daughter in classes for her age and it has always worked out well. 

Water Babies (ages 1-3):  A parent joins the child in the water and there is not a lot of instruction.  If you have access to a pool, I would not bother with this class (unless you have children in other classes and this would be a time you could focus on the "baby").  It was helpful to "force" me to get in the water with my one year old on a daily basis.

Tiny Tots I (ages 3-5):  The child is in a wading pool type area (beach entry of larger pool).  The focus of this class is introducing the kids to water.  To pass this class, kids must put their face under water for 5 seconds.

Tiny Tots II (ages 3-5):  The child is still in a wading pool type area (beach entry of larger pool).  The kids still get a lot of playtime in this class, but it is a big jump from Tiny Tots I.  To pass this class, kids must:  put their face under water for 5 seconds, front float, back float, and glide. 

Guppies (ages 4+):  My daughter is here yet, hopefully next session.  The impression I get is that it is a more serious class focusing more on the mechanics of swimming. 

I know there are many other options for swimming in and around Porterville.  The Lindsay Aquatic Center offers lessons.  There are many opportunities for private lessons, if that would be a better fit for your child.  There are also swimming teams like Neptunites and Hurricanes which both start at age 4 and require the under 6 swimmers to "swim the entire length of the pool with their face in the water most of the time."  

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

U-Pick Blueberries

My daughter and I picked blueberries a few weeks ago and we were able to pick about 2.5 pounds in less than 20 minutes.  It was easy for her (4 years old) to differentiate between the ripe and unripe berries. 

I know of two local places to pick blueberries:

Tabitha Max Blueberry Farms is west of town near Rockford on Road 208.  There are signs on the main road, but you will pull off the road a bit to park and grab a basket for picking.  This is the u-pick location we visited and I was happy to learn they welcome sampling while you pick.  The blueberries are amazing and are a great price too!  $2 lb. for u-pick and $3 lb. if they pick.  They ask you to bring a container (basket, box, bag) to take your berries home.  They are open 8am-8pm Sunday-Friday (closed Saturdays).  Their season is predicted to last until June 30th. 

Primarily Perennials by Denise is on Success Valley Drive near Lake Success.  I have not visited, but have heard this is another great place to pick blueberries.  They are pricier at $4 lb. for u-pick and $8 lb. if they pick (2010 prices).  They are open 8am-1pm Wednesday-Sunday. 

Blueberry picking tips:  pick during the cooler hours of the day, protect yourself from the sun, and unless you like mud squishing between your toes, wear tennis shoes (I personally would rather wash my feet than my tennis shoes). 

I can't believe how quickly we ate 2.5 lbs of blueberries.  I didn't freeze any, I didn't make any fabulous blueberry filled recipes, we just washed them and ate them.  Typically I try to "conserve" blueberries because they are outrageously expensive ($3 for a small clam shell at the fruit stand or grocery store--ridiculous!).  Do you have a delicious recipe using fresh and/or frozen blueberries?  Please leave a comment below to share your favorite blueberry recipe ideas.

Have you visited the Success Valley Drive location?  Please leave a comment to share your experience.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Flag Day Ceremony

There are a few things that make me especially proud to call Porterville home; one of them is the annual Flag Day ceremony.  Tomorrow is Flag Day, so I thought this would be a great time to encourage families to come celebrate. 

The 30th Annual Flag Day Ceremony is Tuesday, June 14th at 6:30pm (ceremony starts at 7pm) in the parking lot at the Savemart on Olive Avenue and D Street. 

Wear your red, white, and blue and bring a chair.  Get there a little early, as the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts sell inexpensive hot dogs and drinks as a fundraiser.  The Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary and the Exchange Club of Porterville will distribute small flags to wave, flag lapel pins, and balloons. 

The ceremony starts off with the presentation of the colors, flag salute, and singing patriotic songs (I love hearing my daughter sing "Grand Old Flag").  Local high school bands provide live music.  All of the local "princess types" are in attendance (My daughter was delighted to get a picture with a few of them!).  The Boy Scouts show all of the former flag designs of the United States.  There are a few speakers noting the importance of our flag, patriotism, honoring veterans, and showing respect for the men and women defending our country.  The best part of the ceremony is the lowering of the 24'x40' flag, watching community members fold it, and the unfurling of the new flag.  The old flag is then disposed of in a fire pit (you may dispose of your own worn flag as well).  The ceremony is ended with a balloon release.  Stay for free refreshments as there is a HUGE American flag cake for everyone to share (I wish I had a picture of it).  This was the most impressive part for me when I attended as a child.     

Please plan to teach your children to show respect by sitting quietly during the ceremony.  Although much of the ceremony is not geared toward small children I think it's a great family tradition.  I have been attending with my daughter since she was a year old and now she looks forward to the celebration as well. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Day Trip: Fresno Grizzlies

I promise this is not the “Fresno Family Fun” page, but there is another great deal that needs to be posted right away. 

The Fresno Grizzlies (Triple-A Affiliate of the SF Giants) plays in downtown Fresno at Chuckchansi Park and they have many promotions throughout their season (Friday night fireworks are fun), but the “Monday Madness” promo is by far the best:
For $32 you get 2 Field Level Reserve tickets, 2 hot dogs, 2 sodas, 2 Wild Water Adventure Park passes, 2 Blackbeard’s mini golf passes, and 2 Rotary Playland and Storyland Fantasy Day passes (just like yesterday’s Groupon deal)!  They say this is over $100 value.  Even if you just go to the game and use the Wild Water Adventure Park passes, it’s a great deal!

The reason for the urgency in posting this deal is that tomorrow (June 13th) is a Monday home game.  There are only 5 Monday games left in the season (6/13, 7/4, 7/25, 8/1, and 8/15).  The games start at 7:05pm.  Bring some cash for parking (it was around $5 last year).  I believe you need to call the ticket office (559-320-TIXS) to purchase these special promotion tickets (the ticket office is closed today or I would check before posting).  I am sure you can also buy them at the box office, but I wouldn’t drive to Fresno only to be disappointed by the promo being sold out.
If you want to stay up to date with the Fresno Grizzlies, get their app on your mobile device. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Day Trip: Rotary Storyland and Playland

You may already know a bit about what Roeding Park has to offer (Chaffee Zoo, Rotary Storyland and Playland), but if you are not a Groupon junkie like me, you may not know about the great deal going on right now: 

$5 for a Fantasy Day Pass at Rotary Storyland and Playland ($13 value).  This includes an unlimited ride wristband and entrance to Storyland and it expires 12/14/11.  If you already a Groupon user, go to Fresno.  If you are new to Groupon, click here.

Rotary Storyland and Playland are open Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30-5:30pm year-round.  During the summer (June 15th-August 14th) it's open Wendesday-Sunday 10:30-5:30pm. 

Rides are geared toward kids between 34" and 48" (many rides require an adult to ride with small children, so make sure to get yourself a pass).  Bring towels so you can enjoy the new Splash Junction water play area.  Pack a picnic lunch or head to one of Fresno's fabulous restaurants as a little mama treat on your way out of town.  Don't forget $5 in cash for the Roeding Park entrance fee.  

Ideally I would post a quick review of the park, but I haven't taken Molly yet and wanted to give you the opportunity to snag this great deal.  We are headed to Rotary Storyland and Playland next week and I will be sure to post a review. 

Summer in a Small Town

School is out and the temperatures are rising, summer is almost here.  Parents everywhere are wondering what to do with their families on these lazy days of summer.  I am creating a resource for Porterville area families to use when they are in search of the answer to the all consuming question, "What do you want to do today?" 
I see this blog developing into an all-inclusive listing of activities for kids, but I have to start somewhere and I'd like to start today.  Become a follower of this blog to keep informed about what is going on in our small town and the surrounding areas.  I welcome guest contributers as well, just keep in mind this is a public blog that anyone may access.