December 2014 archive

Playground / Beach Review: Oceanside Pier

Oceanside Pier - Playstructure

A pier, a beach, a playground AND lots of parking all within close proximity of each other…am I dreaming?! Nope, I’m at the Oceanside Pier and beach.

I’ve been here several times with J and even had her 1 year old photos taken at the pier. Most recently, we ended up here two days after Christmas as a detour from Legoland. Somehow J talked me into taking her to the Legoland Aquarium on the Saturday after the jolly man in the red suit made his appearance. Not a smart move, as the entrance to Legoland was backed up to the freeway. We drove right by the exit and the first suggestion that popped into my head was the beach.

Oceanside Pier

J’s one year old photo shoot. My ovaries may have twitched as I was looking at these photos.

Luckily everyone was at Legoland and the beach was not busy. It was beautiful weather and not windy so we hunkered down for a couple hours and played in the sand, waded in the water (yep, my bare legs were in the water in December and I wasn’t freezing) and played on the playground.

I found very few “cons” during this trip to the playground, however I have experienced some in the past which I will list after the “pros.”

Oceanside Pier - Panoramic

This panorama is a little disorienting because the two play structures are next to each other in real life. I stood between them to take this pic. Remember, this is December! (Click the pic to see it bigger and not blurry.)


Parking – There’s plenty of it both paid and free. I opted for paid parking and it cost a whopping $4 for two hours. There are kiosks where you can use a credit card to prepay for parking. For all you math challenged, parking is $2/hour with a maximum of $8 for all day use. There are several parking lots and pricing may vary slightly. Free parking can be found above the beach and the walk only takes a few minutes.

Pier – Geek out on a few pier facts here. It’s a wood pier and you can walk to the end where Ruby’s diner will greet you with the smell of greasy french fries.

Beach – the sandbox at other playgrounds ain’t got nothin’ on this mother. Bring your sand toys and other beach supplies and you’ll be happy as a (razor) clam.

Playground – The playground is on the beach! There are two structures with slides and climbing apparatus as well as swings (baby and regular).

Bathroom – There are public bathrooms near the pier. I haven’t been inside them, but assuming they’re your average public beach bathroom, I see this as a positive, especially with small children.

Seating / Tables – There is a covered area with picnic tables and seats.


Location – How is this a con? Well…Oceanside can get sketchy. There is a police station right next to the pier. So either you can feel really secure knowing the cops are close by or you can wonder why they need to be so near.

Seating / Tables – Also a con because some of the sketchy people will sit at the tables and stare you down.

Wind – The beach at Oceanside can get pretty windy. While it was calm the last time we were there, you should check the weather before you go, even on warm summer days.

Oceanside Pier / Playground / Beach

See how sandy J’s legs are? We had a fun day.


You can find the pier, beach and playground at

301 N. The Strand
Oceanside, CA 92054

For more info visit The City of Oceanside



My 15 Minute Rule for Arriving on Time

J running in the driveway

J running circles in the driveway, completely oblivious to the fact that we’re supposed to be in the car.

I hate being late.When I first moved to San Diego from Portland, I noticed that everyone was at least 10 minutes late, but it bothered no one! This was a looooong time ago and I have become more relaxed about my punctuality when it comes to informal engagements but there is still something in me that dislikes tardiness. If you’re supposed to be somewhere at 10am, how hard is it to get there?

Enter exhibit A, a small child age 3.75 years old and you will understand why I am more or less perpetually late.

I figured when J was first born I had a free pass for being late. A last minute explosive poo or feeding pretty much always happened before leaving the house and no one blinked twice when I showed up late. My inner Timex was always agitated but the newly birthed “mom” in me fought that demon down. I also told myself that things would get better once J’s bowels matured and she was more reliant on solid foods instead of the boob.

Wrong. AGAIN. As a parent I am reminded daily that I have done, am doing, or will do something wrong. Now that J can articulate herself very well, we go through a laundry list of “things” before we are ready to leave the house.

J in car seat

This blurry picture totally captures the mood. J was totally cranky and NEEDED her Ariel earrings and princess crown before we could go anywhere.

To compensate, I plan to leave 15 minutes ahead of when I actually need to leave. Most of the time this works and I end up starting the car at the actual departure time. Then there are times when no matter how far ahead I try to leave, there is a force of nature keeping me anchored to the house or I will be compelled to make a u-turn at the end of the street for a forgotten snack/water cup/toy/jacket/etc.

Here are just a few of the things that take up the extra 15 minutes:

  • J needs socks for the “owie” shoes. If I get the “wrong” socks then I must go upstairs to get another pair.
  • J needs a toy or a different toy than requested 5 seconds ago.
  • J needs to put the toy in a purse.
  • J needs to get the paper in the driveway.
  • J needs to see if there are any new rollie pollies in the front yard.
  • J needs to climb into her car seat via the driver’s seat and examine every speck on the way from the front to the back.
  • J needs to buckle her toy into the seat next to hers.
  • J needs the Frozen CD liner notes so she can obsessively follow along with each song.
  • J asks if I brought the Pirate Booty/Princess Fish/Cheesy Crackers in the snack bag and if I’ve guessed incorrectly, I go back into the house to get said snack.
  • J needs to examine the sticker from Trader Joe’s that she dropped on the car floor five days ago and cannot get in the car seat before doing so.
  • J has to pee. But she doesn’t tell me until we’re 10 minutes into our drive. If we left on time, we’ll now be late because we pulled over for a pit stop.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not placing all of the blame on my child, as I know her sense of time is in its infancy of development. She still sweetly calls tomorrow “the day after this day.” There have been a few (or more) times when it’s entirely my fault we’re late. Most notable is the time I forgot my shoes and the time I forgot J’s swim suit. These were two separate events, but both involved getting to her swim lesson on time. If anyone has paid for their child to learn how to swim, you know how expensive lessons are and that you don’t want to be late! I walked in that door barefoot (and totally skeeved out). I bought her a reuseable swim diaper on the day she didn’t have a suit. That was about a year ago and wouldn’t fly today as she would be too embarrassed to swim “nudie.”

I now carry an extra pair of flip flops in my car in case I am ever caught shoe-less again.

Sun Flower Bagel in Carlsbad Is My Everything (Bagel)

Sun Flower Bagel - Partially Eaten

Yes, this is less than half of a bagel. I had to stop myself from devouring the entire thing before I could get a photo.

Today I found myself running errands while J was at school. To my delight, I drove right by Sun Flower Bagel in Carlsbad, CA, where I promptly pulled into the parking lot and quelled the rumble in my tumbly. (Sorry, I’m around my kid too much.)

I used to frequent Sun Flower Bagel when J took a gym class next door. We had a routine of going to her class and then getting lunch at the bagel shop. The gym closed abruptly and I was left hanging.

They make THE BEST everything bagel! The everything bagel is salty, savory and also covered with seeds from top to bottom. I have found most everything bagels aren’t covered everywhere. The bottom of the bagel is always sparsely coated.

Sun Flower Bagel - Everything Top & Bottom

This is the top and bottom of the “everything” bagel.

My heart stopped for a second this morning when I looked in the display case and didn’t see the basket labeled “everything”. It’s pretty much the only bagel I order no matter where I go and my favorite here (see above). Then I entered bagel nirvana when the man behind the counter said they were fresh out of the oven. Oh Em Gee!

What’s even more interesting? They’re run by a Japanese family. On the weekends and Wednesdays they have Japanese bread and baked goods. I only tried them once (and I don’t remember what I got), but the place was jammed packed with people buying this stuff. They start selling them at 11am, and dammit, I was there at 9am!

They make a variety of sandwiches too. I’ve had the veggie as well as the lox. Both were excellent and served with the most delicious thinly sliced red onions. I know that’s an acquired taste, but I love onions on my sandwich. And of course, I order my sandwich on the everything bagel.

My other top faves for (everything) bagels are I Love Bagels Cafe in Oceanside (just off the 78 and College) and New York Bagels & Cafe in Rancho Bernardo (east of I-15 on Bernardo Center Drive).

You can find Sun Flower Bagel at 6955 El Camino Real # 105, Plaza Paseo Real, Carlsbad, CA – off El Camino Real and Aviara Parkway.

Rainbow Spaghetti & Art Class Sugar Cookies Inspired by Jackson Pollock

Art Class - Sugar Cookies and Rainbow SpaghettiJ has been taking an art class at a friend’s house since the end of October. Sadly, we only have one class remaining. She gets to paint and glue plastic jewels (which she LOVES) and I get to see friends. The class is an hour and half and includes a snack/lunch break for the kids.

At the start of classes, we signed up to take turns as “snack mom”. Each week of art has a theme and it turns out that snacks were also themed accordingly. I signed up for Jackson Pollock week and crossed my fingers that I could come up with something creative for a meal — after all, this is (kids) art class!

Painters Palette Sugar Cookie

The painter’s palettes look a little like brown pac-mans.

I knew I would make decorated sugar cookies for dessert. After some internet searching, I decided to make an artist’s palette and splatter design à la Mr. Pollock. Deciding what to serve for lunch proved to be a little more challenging as I wanted one stand-out item on the plate. I found a rainbow pasta recipe which looked easy, portable and kid-friendly.

I made the cookies first since I let them dry over night and needed two nights to work on them. Actually, it was three nights total. The first night I baked and cooled the cookies. The second and the third were spent decorating. Here is the sugar cookie recipe. I made 4″ round cookies for the painter’s palette and 2″ squares for the splatter design. Surprisingly, I don’t have a painter’s palette shaped cookie cutter in my arsenal of 100+ cutters.

I made chocolate royal icing for the palettes since they had to be brown. I added a bit of brown food color to make them a deeper brown. I didn’t want my palette to look like balsa wood.

Jackson Pollock inspired Splatter Design Sugar Cookie

I put one painter’s palette cookie and two of these little “paintings” in each bag that I gave to the kids.

For the white royal icing, I used some that I had frozen from Halloween. Yes, it really does freeze well!! I had it stored in two zip top bags and let it thaw on the kitchen counter. It may have taken 30 minutes to soften, which was really quick.

After piping and flooding the round and square cookies I let them dry overnight. The next night was the fun part! I took the remaining white icing and divided it into five bowls. I made red, yellow, green, blue and purple for the “paint”. It was flood consistency as I wanted it thin enough to splatter across the white cookies.

By now you are probably wondering where all the photos are of the cookie decorating process. Well, I was too tired to stop and take photos. And at night the light is very bad for picture taking.  So sorry!

I used a toothpick to drip the colors onto the painter’s palettes. For the splatter, I lined up all of my cookies next to each other in a giant square. Then I dipped a spoon into the icing and let it drip onto the cookies. It was a lot of fun to do and super quick.

Art Class - Painting in the style of Jackson Pollock

J is using a toy elephant to apply green paint on her canvas.

During J’s art class, the kids each made a splatter paint picture…or at least as close as three and four-year olds can come to replicating Pollock’s style.

Oops, almost forgot to talk about the spaghetti. So here’s the dichotomy of my rainbow spaghetti. I used organic spaghetti noodles and then soaked them in artificial food dye. Am I the only one that finds this humorous?! I do have natural food coloring that I will use if I ever make them again.

Rainbow Spaghetti noodles

I cannot think of anything less appetizing than blue noodles. However, the kids loved it!

Is it a surprise that I made a couple changes from the original recipe? Here is my version:

Rainbow Spaghetti
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Lunch, Dinner
Cuisine: American, Kid
Serves: Varies
  • 1lb Spaghetti or linguine noodles
  • Food color (four or five colors)
  • Water
  1. Boil noodles according to package directions
  2. While noodles are cooking, mix food color with ½ cup of water in a color-safe bowl. (One that won't soak up the dye -- not a wooden bowl.)
  3. The amount of food color needed will vary depending on the intensity of color desired and if it's gel or liquid food color. I used ⅛ of a teaspoon of gel per bowl.
  4. Drain and rinse with cool water (that step was painful for me...I never rinse my pasta!)
  5. Divide pasta evenly among bowls and make sure the water covers most of the noodles.
  6. Let sit for a few minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure even color distribution.
  7. Gently rinse noodles to remove excess food color.
  8. If serving immediately, mix noodles together and toss with butter or olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  9. If saving for later, stir in a few drops of olive oil to each color of noodle to ensure they don't stick together. Keep colors separate until you're ready to serve so the color doesn't run. Store in bowls or baggies in the refrigerator.
  10. Note: One pound of noodles was about a half pound too much for 10 preschoolers.



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