Category: All things educational

President’s Day Celebration

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Come and mingle with our founding fathers at the Ronald Reagan Library President’s Day Celebration. The 23rd Annual President’s Day Celebration at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum starts today, February 16, 2015 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. This celebration includes fun for the entire family, including crafts, musical entertainment, storytelling, and presidential and first lady look-a likes. Hot dogs, pie and other all-American food will be available for purchase.

President’s Day activities are free to the public. Regular Museum admission rates apply to view the Ronald Reagan Presidential Museum, the Amazing Automobiles: The Ultimate Car Exhibit, and the spectacular Air Force One Pavilion.

  • Ronald Reagan Library is located at: 40 Presidential Drive, Simi Valley, CA. 93065
  • For more information, please call 805-522-2977.

Presidents day at Nixon Library


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 Mount Rushmore comes to life at the Nixon Library!

Meet Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt all day and the first 100 guests will enjoy a free slice of cherry pie.

Schedule of Events:

  • 10:00 am – Begin your FREE day at the Nixon Library by “meeting” our Presidents.
  • 1:00 pm – enjoy an educational talk given by our presidents.
  • 6:00 pm – lecture and book signing with Pulitzer Prize-winner Edward Larson as he takes a new look at George Washington’s career to reveal the importance of what he did after the American Revolution.

Admission to the Nixon Library is free and open to the public all day.

  • When: Monday, February 16, 2015 from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Where: Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum
    18001 Yorba Linda Boulevard
    Yorba Linda, California   92886

Have a Heart


Have a Heart Weekend that is, on Saturday, February 14, 2015 – 10:00 am at Kidspace Museum.

Valentine’s Day is the day we celebrate love by sending heart-shaped cards and chocolates, however we don’t actually love with our hearts, and hearts really aren’t actually heart-shaped.


Kidspace is celebrating love and American Hearth Month in a whole new way this year through greater understanding of our hearts and how to keep them healthy. They will be playing games to get your heart racing, making anatomically correct heart love cards for loved ones, exploring food that makes our hearts happy and more. They are also excited to host the following live performances:

Saturday February 14th at 1pm Just Kidding Music Group will be performing love songs in the Physics Forest.


Saturday February 14th and Monday February 16th from 2-4pm Jennifer Korsen will be doing live heart art with children in the Amphitheater.


  • Kidspace is located at 480 North Arroyo Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91103
  • Fee: Adults & Children $11.00, Infants under age 1 are FREE
  • for more details for directions, hours & admission click here

World of Wolves


Wolf Haven International will present a family friendly educational program at one of my favorite places, Environmental Nature Center. Come and learn all about wolf behavior, biology and social structure. Why do wolves howl?  Why do wolves scent roll?  Why are these keystone species so important to an ecosystem?

Wolves are naturally recolonizing back into their historic ranges in the United States, how do humans coexist with these amazing apex predators that share with us a tight family bond, complex social behaviors and an adaptable lifestyle? The program will discuss the history of wolves in North America and specifically the history of wolves in California, the future of wolves in California, and the infamous OR-7 (aka Journey), the first documented wild wolf in California in over 90-years!

The program includes engaging video footage of both wild wolves and wolves at Wolf Haven International, plus hands-on portions with animal skulls, tracks and antlers.There will be NO live wolves in this presentation.

Wolf Haven International is a nonprofit sanctuary for captive-born wolves located in the small farming community of Tenino, WA. For more information visit

  • When: Thursday, January 29, 2015 from 6:00 – 9:00 pm
  • Where: Environmental Nature Center, 1601 E. 16th Street, Newport Beach, CA 92663
    Map and Directions
  • Cost: $5.00 per person
  • register for the event here

Explore on a Budget


Explore_on_budgetYes, like many other families – we are on a tight budget but even on a budget you can find ways to have fun, explore and present your children with opportunities to learn while having fun as a family.

Many of the events I blog about are held at our beautiful O.C. Parks, local museums and science centers. One of the ways we save money on parking and admission to these events is by investing in memberships and passes to our favorite places. As a member, you get discounts on food (but we always pack a lunch – one more way to save money), gift shops, special workshops and member only events.

We’ve had a pass to the Magic Kingdom (and yes, we packed our lunch to go here too) and it was great but within just 3.5 months of paying for a deluxe passport for a family of 4 to the Magic Kingdom – I can buy all of the memberships mentioned on this post.

By simply putting some money aside each month, you can easily buy your memberships one by one throughout the year. Another benefit of spacing out the purchases of your memberships is that you always have at least one you can utilize.

Another way of saving money is taking advantage of FREE events and FREE days by sponsors such as Target. If you bank with Bank of America, they have some great free day offers nationwide. We’ve had many great afternoons visiting Bowers Museum, Children’s Museum at La Habra and Orange County Museum of Art during Target’s sponsored programs.

You can visit museums like California Science Center and The Getty Center & The Getty Villa for free, you just have to cover the parking fee.

I’m always on the lookout for FREE days and events that are reasonably priced and will share whatever fits within “Project Refined Life’s” criteria.

Be sure not to miss out my posts like FREE Days at our National ParksFREE days at Autry National Center of the American West and Museums Free-For-All Day.

Here’s a list of the local membership opportunities and discounts for some of the places we love to visit.

 OC Parks Parking Passes

OC Parks offers parking passes that are good for one year from date of purchase. I broke down and bought one mid year last year and I absolutely love it. This parking pass has made it possible for me and my family to experience FREE events such as guided hiking events, Prehistoric OC, Irvine Railroad Pumpkin Patch & Christmas Events and on and on. I love this pass.

2015-01-02_00.13.11The newly revised OC Parks parking passes allow visitors to use a single card to park at all County regional and wilderness parks and/or beaches. The new “smart cards” replace last years entry cards and stickers that were previously used for annual parking. These smart cards are valid for 12 months from issue date and can be renewed annually. Moreover, for wilderness and beach locations which previously required a sticker affixed to a visitor’s windshield, these passes can be used with any vehicle. The price for the new cards remains the same as 2014.


Three types of cards are available:

  • County Regional and Wilderness Parks Parking Pass for $55 ($35 for seniors/disabled)
  • County Beach Parking Pass with Pay and Display Machines for $55 ($35 for seniors, disabled park free)
  • All County Parks and Beaches Parking Pass for $80 ($50 for seniors)

Distinguished Veterans (per California State Parks) are eligible for a no-fee pass. This applies to veterans with a 50% or higher service-connected disability, or who were held as prisoners of war, or who are recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor.

OC Parks Parking Passes are available for purchase at an OC Parks facility near you. Visit OC Parks online at our Annual Parking Pass page for more information and a list of convenient locations.

If your visiting Irvine Regional park be sure to use these coupons.

State of California Parks & Beaches

CrystalCoveTidePoolsOne of my favorite places in the O.C. is Crystal Cove State Beach but with parking at $15.00 a day – a pass is definitely the way to go. There is currently a fantastic introductory offer good for 4 days worth parking passes and all state beaches and parks for the low price of $25.00. The “sampler” pass also includes 5% off camping reservations and a one year subscription to Sunset Magazine. For a complete list of parks click here or visit to get your parking pass.

 Discovery Cube

They are currently offering a fantastic deal on their membership. You can purchase a 1 year Family membership for $99.00…..and you can purchase the second year for just $25.00 more!  This membership will get you and your family into Discovery Cube OC and Discovery Cube LA for just $124.00 for 2 years!!!

Discovery_cubeThe Family membership  is good for 1 or 2 named adults, plus up to 4 named children living in the same household (age 17 and under). Up to (2) additional named siblings living in the same household (ages 3-17) for $20 each.

They do offer movies at the Discovery Theater and hold several special exhibits each year that do require an additional fee however members get special pricing. Click here for membership options and details.

Benefits of membership include:

  • Unlimited admission* for one full year! No blackout dates!
  • Get two Cubes for the price of one – your membership works at both the OC and LA location.
  • Invitations to members-only events & previews
  • Priority registration and discounts on Camp Discovery and other fun activities
  • FREE or discounted admission to over 300 other ASTC Science Centers around the world
  • Subscription to our monthly e-newsletter and Discoveries Magazine
  • 10% off Science Store & Taco Bell purchases**
  • $10 discounted admission tickets for your guests (4 per visit)
  • Discounts on Discovery Theater tickets

Santa Ana residents receive up to 4 free admissions per address with valid ID (proof of residency) on the first Tuesday of every month. Cannot be combined with any other discount or offer. Excludes special events and ticketed exhibitions or shows.

Bank of America Free Day – Bank of America cardholders receive free admission on the first Sunday of each month. Photo ID and any valid Bank of America/Merrill Lynch credit or debit card must be presented. One free general admission limited to cardholder only. Cannot be combined with any other discount or offer. Excludes special events and ticketed exhibitions or shows.

Here’s a coupon for a free child’s admission with a paying adult.

 Santa Ana Zoo

Santa Ana Zoo is a great little zoo and if you like Monkey – you’ll love this zoo. Joseph Prentice, the founder of the Santa Ana Zoo at Prentice Park, stated that in order for the Zoo to exist, Mr. Prentice required that there be 50 monkeys on the grounds at all times.

This charming Zoo features over 80 species of animals, including the smallest monkeys in the world, the Pygmy Marmosets. The Zoo is a place to play, a place to learn and a place to spend time with your family.When visiting the Zoo, children and adults can share time together learning about animals, plants and the environment. There is also a children’s farm, train ride and carousel featuring endangered species.


Membership benefits include:

  • Unlimited FREE admission for 12 full months!
  • 10% discount on the “Treetop Toys” Gift Shop and Snack Bar, 20% discount for birthday parties.
  • Newsletter filled with animal facts, event schedules, and other interesting Zoo stories.
  • Member Appreciation Days with free train rides, and discounts for other events and programs, such as Sunset at the Zoo and Boo at the Zoo.
  • Visit over 50 Zoo’s – Los Angeles, The Living Desert Zoo, Santa Barbara, Fresno Chaffee and Sacramento Zoo, as well as over 150 zoos around the United States are FREE or discounted to our members. 

A Family Club membership is $70.00this includes unlimited admission for 2 adults (named on the card) and their children and/or grandchildren (under the age of 18) for 12 months, maximum of 4 children per visit.

On Resident Free Day, the third Sunday of each month, residents of Santa Ana may visit the Zoo for free. Proof of residency (driver’s license, utility bill) will be required upon arrival. Not valid to schools or business addresses.

Although the OC Zoo doesn’t advertise it, you can use your Santa Ana at the OC Zoo for free admission to the OC Zoo as well.

 Aquarium of the Pacific 

2014-08-20_12.07.20Membership at the Aquarium of the Pacific for a family of four can be quickly covered by your second visit. They have a great learning opportunities, family friendly festivals, member only events and discounts. Your membership also helps protect the Pacific Ocean, its inhabitants, and ecosystems.

Benefits of membership:

  • 50% of prepaid parking
  • 10% off at the Gift Shop
  • Member Appreciation events and Special Event Festivals
  • Discounts on private birthday parties, animal encounters, behind the scene tours, day camps, Junior Biologist , Aqua tots and more.

You can get a family membership for $125.00, for more details click here. if a membership here is out of the question at this time, take advantage of their FREE Shark Lagoon Nights.

For a limited time only, you can get discounts from:

  • Gelson’s Markets in Los Angeles and Orange Counties are now offering a coupon valid for $8 off adult admission—that’s just $20.95! Offer available in stores through 1/31/15 or while supplies last.
  • Southern California Smart & Final locations are now offering a coupon valid for $8 off adult admission and $2 off child admission (ages 3-11). Offer available in participating stores through 2/24/15 or while supplies last.

For annual Discounts use your AAA Discount to receive 10 percent off adult, child, and senior admission when you present your AAA member card at Aquarium ticket windows. Valid for up to four discounts. Or, save up to 25% when you purchase tickets at any Southern California Auto Club branch.

Natural History Museum, Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits & William S. Hart Museum

This is an awesome deal!!! Your interest can range from dinosaurs, nature lovers, gardens, Los Angeles history, Gems and minerals, mammals, birds, shells, art….these museums have you covered!

NHMMembership benefits include:

Family membership costs $89 – what a deal! The membership is good for two adults and up to four children (age 17 and under).

If you have a AAA membership, use that card! You can get admission discounts, wejust recently used it for discount on admission to Columbia Memorial Space Center. In addition to admission discounts, they offer discounts to at museum gift shops and restaurants. Wherever your at – ask them if they offer AAA discounts.

Bank of America has a program called Museums on Us, I’m considering a opening up an account at Bank of America for this benefit alone. They offer just FREE admission to museums throughout the county. In the Southern California area some the museums include: .

  • Discovery Cube
  • Orange County Museum of Art
  • Riverside Art Museum
  • San Diego Art Museum
  • The Living Desert Zoo
  • The Autry
  • Skirball Cultral Center



What are your families favorite places that offer some great membership options?


Animal Art II

2014-11-13_15.43.41There’s still space available at OC Zoo’s Animal Art II preschool program on Wednesday, January 14, 2015 from 10:15 – 11:15 am.

This preschool program comes loaded with an hour of creativity and fun with an animal theme! So come ready to get a little messy! My daughter is 4 and loves the program. The class includes hands-on learning, fun crafts, and meeting zoo animals up close! The class is best suited for preschoolers ages 3-4 years old and parents must accompany their child for duration of program.


Pack your lunch and snack as after the program you can stroll through the zoo, pet the goats and enjoy an afternoon story time under the trees.

  • Orange County Zoo, 1 Irvine Park Road, Orange, CA 92869
  • Wednesday, January 14, 2015 from 10:15 – 11:15 am.
  • Fee: $5 per child (includes one adult).
  • Parking fee: $3
  • Registration is required! Call 714-973-6846 to register

Free day at Nixon Library

nixon library

Commemorate the 102nd birthday of America’s 37th President with a full day of special events at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum on Friday, January 9, 2015.

Admission to the Nixon Library is free and open to the public all day.

Schedule of events:

11 AM: Presidential Wreath Laying at the Memorial Site of Richard Nixon

-Laying of a memorial wreath sent from President Barack Obama
-Remarks by Commander of Navy Region Southwest, Rear Admiral Patrick J. Lorge
-Ceremonial musical performances by Navy Band Southwest
-Formal Presentation of the Colors

1 PM: Nixon Legacy Lecture with Stephen Hess

-Historian and Nixon biographer Stephen Hess will discuss his new book, The Professor and the President: Daniel Patrick Moynihan in the Nixon White House. Hess brings the unique perspective of working for both President Nixon and his top urban affairs advisor Daniel Patrick Moynihan to tell how the two men put partisan politics aside to bring reform to the federal government.

Stephen Hess will sign copies of his book following the lecture. If you are unable to attend, but want autographed copies of The Professor and the President, click here to order and we’ll ship the day after his appearance.

  • When: Friday, January 9, 2015 from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Where: Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum
    18001 Yorba Linda Boulevard
    Yorba Linda, California   92886

Hour of Code

hour of codeHour of Code is a grassroots campaign in celebration of Computer Science Education Week, December 8-14, 2014, to show that anyone can learn the basics of coding.

Students, teachers, and parents are encouraged to try an hour-long coding sessions using online-guided games and tutorials through various websites and are available in over 180 countries and over 30 languages. has a something to spark the interest for anyone ages 4 -100 and wonderful How to Guide for teachers that has some great resources for their classrooms including lessons, posters and activities.


Code with Ana & Elsa at
Code with Ana & Elsa at

Code with Ana & Elsa in this one-hour activity, kids will learn to write code while helping Anna and Elsa create snowflakes and an “ice craft,”. All the while they will be learning logic, math and cultivating creative confidence.

Computer Science is a liberal art: it’s something that everyone should be exposed to everybody should have a mastery of to some extent.” —Steve Jobs

hour of code women


Pearl Harbor Day at Cabrillo National Monument

In honor of Pearl Harbor Day, Cabrillo National Monument will host  a WW2 Living History re-enactors in the military history exhibit and tour a coast artillery bunker as they reenact the attack on Pearl Harbor and the United State’s entry into the Second World War. On December 6th and 7th, 2014 from 9:00 am – 4:30 pm.

wpid-2014-12-04_19.46.05.jpgHistory will come alive as Cabrillo National Monument is transformed back into 1940s Fort Rosecrans. Historical re-enactors will represent the men and women of the US Army and members of the 19th Coast Artillery. World War II vehicles, tents, and various displays will be set up around the park.


Historic structures, including the army radio station and one of the observation bunkers, will be open for viewing. Some of the weekend events include a vintage Car Show, Flyover Air Raid Re-enactment & a live broadcast from Hawaii.

Pearl Harbor Day at Cabrillo National Monument
Pearl Harbor Day at Cabrillo National Monument

This is a unique opportunity to “live” history through the re-enactment. Understand and commemorate San Diego’s important role during the early days of World War II.

  • Location: Cabrillo National Monument | Map
  • Time: 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
  • Fee Information: $5 per vehicle

Cabrillo National Monument, located on Point Loma at the south end of Catalina Boulevard, is open daily from 9:00 AM until 5:00 PM


Tanaka Farms U-Pick Tours

Tanaka Farms in Irvine has annouced more U-Pick Tours for this weekend. I love having my girls come here and pick vegetables. They can’t wait to see the veggies they picked in our dinner salad.

Tanaka Farms U-Pick Tours
Tanaka Farms U-Pick Tours – Image from

The tours will take place this Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 22nd & 23rd, at 10am, 12pm and 2pm.

Take a FREE wagon ride around the farm to pick your very own vegetables! Options include carrots, kale, swiss chard, baby maui onions, and vine-ripened tomatoes. (All produce subject to change.)

You only pay for what you pick! No reservations are needed but please arrive 15 minutes prior to the tour time you wish to attend.  

Tanaka Farms is located at: 5380 3/4 University Dr., Irvine, CA

Public Drinking Water Is Not Available, please bring your own or bottled water is available for purchase at $1.50/bottle.. This is an actually working farm, so make sure to wear comfortable shoes that you don’t mind getting a little dirty.

They do not allow pets or wagons on the property. for safety reasons.