Category: Just me rambling on

The Little Things

The events that occurred in San Bernardino yesterday have left me feeling confused, upset and emotionally drained. I lived in San Bernardino, worked in San Bernardino, brought up my boys in San Bernardino. My son, who will forever be 17, rests in a place that overlooks San Bernardino. He was placed in that spot because of his love for San Bernardino. I have family and friends who work and live there. Watching the news yesterday sent me into a panic. As they were naming off streets on the news, I knew exactly who lived or worked on or near the streets being mentioned.

Some of my family, friends and their children were in lockdown mode yesterday. I was texting my family and friends to make sure they were ok and trying to pass along any information that could be helpful. I was praying, stressed and feeling helpless.

Between the explosives, pipe bomb making materials and over thousands of rounds of ammunition found in the home of the couple responsible for this heinous crime, it is obvious that the day was planned. I am not here to debate the points of view between the left and right or to discuss the reason this happened or what we could do in the future to avoid such acts. I am here to remind everyone just how short our life can be. How our choices affect others.

I know all too well how precious life is. How one day can change everything you ever thought you knew. Although It may seem that the main focus of this blog is sharing events, I am here to tell you, it’s not. This “project” or my purpose is to find ways to share “time”. Moments in time that can bring enlightenment to families. To refine your life with mindful events that nurture quality family time, a way to connect with nature and ways to give back. I am trying to focus on events that make a difference in a child’s or an adults overall thinking and feeling, something to help make connections to life.

It would be easy to allow grief to harden you but I am asking you not to allow that to happen. Please remember in the midst of all of this madness we must remain tender, caring and mindful. Mindful of how short and fragile this life is. Treasure the little things. Take joy of the sweet song of a bird in morning, the colors of the leaves in fall, the individual shapes of snowflakes. All of these little things are here for a purpose, everything has its place. Don’t take time for granted. Don’t waste time waiting for the perfect time, there is no such thing.

God bless the families impacted by the these tragic events, my prayers of healing and strength go out to all of them. We must stand together, hold each other up during times like these. It is the little things and tiniest acts of kindness at times like these that make the biggest difference.


Hair Cut Advice….from Lego

I just read an article that shows a picture of the latest LEGO magazine giving girls beauty/hair cut advice to girls (my daughter hasn’t received hers yet this month) as provided by the LEGO Friends.

Image from
Image from

Yes, these little plastic LEGO Friends are giving beauty tips to our girls. Now, just off memory alone, as a child – when I played with LEGO’s it was just, playing building and imaging. Never did I look to LEGO’s for an idea of how should get my haircut as a child, I don’t even remember being concerned with that.

Ok LEGO – here is some advice for you: maybe you can try to give girls some creative play ideas about creating, engineering and constructing after all isn’t that what LEGO is supposed to be about?

My daughter loves getting her magazine from LEGO. Now, I’m going to have to go through it prior to letting her have it. I don’t want my girls thinking about what shaped face she has and you LEGO Friends shouldn’t be putting those thoughts in her head. If that’s what we can expect in your magazine’s LEGO – they are going in the trash. I seriously thought LEGO understood the magnitude of their mistake with the Friends line. I am very disappointed in you LEGO.

Beauty Tips fr Girls, from LEGO by Sharon Holbrook via New York Times.


Life Lessons from Dr. Seuss


I don’t know about you but there are several times every week that my conversations (those that are both out loud and inside my head) contain some sort of seuss-ism. Dr. Seuss has inspired life lessons for more than just children.

I know of a company that requires their employees to read “Green Eggs and Ham”, a book that is made up of just 50 words to be used as a source of inspiration and persistence.

Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, knew all to well about not giving up. Dr. Seuss first book “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” was rejected a total of 29 times before he found someone to publish it. Can you imagine a world without Dr. Seuss books?

Every year we look forward to watching the Dr. Seuss Classic “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!,” Musicals are based on his works and the word “nerd” was created by Dr. Seuss in his book “If I Ran the Zoo”. Just yesterday morning, I woke up to the sound of rain and thought “how am I going to keep my girls entertained on this cold, cold, wet day“. Yet another seuss-ism.


Today, March 2nd, is the 111th birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss). He wrote 46 children’s books, not including the new book “What Pet Should I Get?”, soon to be to be released on July, 28, 2015. He’s books have made such an impact that his birthday has been adopted by the National Education Association as the annual date for National Read Across America Day.

Here are 30 Dr. Seuss quotes that serve as a reminder of how Dr. Seuss can change your life. This wonderful infographic is from The life lessons that come out of Dr. Seuss books are incredible in so many ways, enjoy!




Once Upon a Storybook


I just recently discovered the most amazing children’s bookstore, Once upon a Storybook in Tustin. Apparently, this charming children’s book store opened in October (I don’t how I missed this). Well, as soon as I found out about this place – I had to go and take a look. I found their website and looked up the next scheduled storytime so that my little one & I could go and explore this new spot..


This bookstore is located at the Enderle Shopping Center, a quaint shopping center located in North Tustin. As I drove up to the book store, first thing I saw was a cute storefront with the sweetest pink doors. I was immediately welcomed by Tina as we walked in. She quickly directed us upstairs for one of the best storytime’s we’ve experienced in a while.


The owner, Susie, welcomed each child individually and briefly described the theme of the day. She was entertaining, patient and knew how to “read” her audience. The kids where a little restless, so she stopped at two books and finished up with quick & easy winter craft.


My little one & I were both eager to go back down stairs and take in the book store. The bookstore is well stocked with books for kids ages birth through teens. They have three adorable little reading cubbies and my daughter experienced each one. We sat on floor and read books, we stayed for almost 2 hours after storytime. It was so comfortable. No one was looking at us or quickly gathering up our books – they just let us be and allowed us to feel at home.


 This past weekend, my 8 year daughter needed a book for her book club, so we went in for a visit. Again, we got comfortable and stayed for almost 2 hours. Neither one of my girls wanted to leave. I absolutely “LOVE” this place. It’s warm and welcoming and the Owner Susie is so sweet. Both she and Tina have a deep love for books, children’s literature and children.

Once upon a Storybook has regularly scheduled Preschool storytimes and a “Milk & Cookies” (PJ) storytime every week. They also have special events and/or author’s readings on a monthly basis.

I’ve been to other children’s book stores but this has a different feel to it. There is something special about this place; maybe it’s the friendly and knowledgeable staff or perhaps the fairies who have taken up residency here (be sure to look for the fairy door) – either way this place feels homey and magically. Once upon a Storybook will definitely become one of our “regular” spots.

  • Preschool Storytime: Tuesdays @11:00 or Fridays @11:00   Join us for songs, stories, and surprises at one of these two weekly identical storytimes!  Sometimes we do experiments, sometimes we make crafts–There’s always something fun when we get the preschoolers together!  Perfect for ages 2-5
  • Milk & Cookies Storytime: Thursdays @7:00  Hear some quiet stories to relax you after a busy day.  Milk & cookies provided (if your child has food sensitivities, please bring an appropriate snack.)  Great for ages 3-8.

Once upon a Storybook is located at the Enderle Shopping Center, 17300 E. 17th St, #C Tustin, CA 92780. Call (714) 669-4377 if you have any questions about upcoming events or hours.


New Events Calender!


Friday morning, just as my Weekend Roundup posted. I was checking my site and I got the dreaded 404 error message “Page not Found”. None of my links were working! Well, that quickly sent me into an email sending frenzy and searching forums to find answers to fix the problem.

Like most things that happen in life – a change or revision often comes as a result or realization that something isn’t working properly. I had actually been working an event calendar already so this just forced me make it happen – immediately.

Bottom line is that you can now find all upcoming events in the “Events Calendar” on the sidebar of my blog. Isn’t funny how we have to be pushed into things? Maybe that’s just me.

This means you won’t see my Weekend Roundup anymore as there is no longer a need for it. I hope the new calendar addition will help you schedule your calendar more efficiently as well.

Just keep in mind, this site is a work in progress and I am always forced to learn new things as a result of this blog so don’t be surprised if something looks different in a couple of days.

Oh, by the way – I searched and searched and I fixed the problem myself. My links are all working again and I’ve got this great events calendar as a result – so it’s all good!

Let me know if this is new addition is helpful for you.

Annette – Project Refined Life 


My New Year’s Wish

Happy New Year!!! I want to by saying “Thank you”. I appreciate that you have come to my blog and are reading my posts. I hope that you are finding the family-fun activities that encourage family time, nature and STEAM related events helpful.

I started this blog to refine my life, my purpose and place. As our pastor Rick Warren says “Our deepest life message often comes out of our deepest pain. For me that would be the loss of my son due to a drunk driver. So, naturally the holidays are concerning to me.

I pray that each and every one of you and your families have a fun and safe New Year’s. Next, let’s be realistic, it’s New Year’s, people will drink and that’s fine – just please don’t drink and drive. So, with this mind – I have a request….actually, I am pleading with you.

I have put together a list of options for planning a safe ride to and from your destination on New Years Eve, there are even options that will help get their car home, safely.

I am asking that you please pass this information along, repost this entire post, like it and/or share it on facebook, email it to someone, share it on any social media outlet you use. If we can help just one person, save one life – it’s worth it.

Again, thank you for going along with me on this journey, I wish you and yours a very Happy New Year’s.

Annette – Project Refined Life

Tipsy Tow

Statistics show that traffic-related fatalities increase significantly around the holidays. As such, the Auto Club sponsors a complimentary Tipsy Tow service on New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July, which offers free rides to drivers who have been drinking. Avoid becoming a statistic and help guests stay safe by following these tips:

  • Ensure all guests have a ride to and from their destination in a car driven by a non-drinking designated driver
  • Plan activities that take the focus away from drinking, and make non-alcoholic beverages readily available
  • Serve high-protein snacks to slow down alcohol absorption
  • Stop serving alcohol at least 90 minutes before a party ends, and serve guests coffee or dessert
  • Take car keys from intoxicated guests who plan to drive home

Tipsy Tow service provides a complimentary ride and vehicle tow up to seven miles from the point of pickup to drivers who have consumed alcohol on New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July. Tipsy Tow service is available to members and non-members. Ask for a Tipsy Tow by calling 1-800-400-4222.


$10.00 Rides with Flywheel

Nothing’s worse than waking up New Year’s Day with regrets. So while we can’t do anything about that champagne hangover, we can make sure you have a #SurgeFreeNYE.

Seriously! We’re celebrating the launch of two brand new Flywheel cities, Sacramento and San Diego, and the end of 2014 with a night full of $10 rides.

From 8pm Wednesday (12/31/14) til 3am Thursday (1/1/15) all Flywheel rides in San Francisco, Seattle, Sacramento and San Diego will be charged a flat rate of $10. Rides exceeding $50 will be charged the metered balance.

And to help make sure you get a ride on such a crazy night, Flywheel is incentivizing our drivers with a generous tip. Pretty sweet.

Last New Year’s Eve people were charged up to seven times the normal rate by other services – not cool! This New Year’s Eve is all about the Benjamins (staying in your wallet).

If you don’t have it yet, get the app: iOS | Android  – Questions? Shoot us an e-mail or drop us a tweet.


Get a Ride with Lyft and Uber

To keep everyone safe on the roads, MADD has joined forces with Lyft and UBER. Together, we urge all adults that if your plans include alcohol then plan ahead and designate a non-drinking driver before the celebrations begin.

Both services will be donating to MADD’s mission – Every ride can save a life.

UBER: Enter promo code MADDNYE from 6:00 p.m. local time New Year’s Eve to 6:00 a.m. local time New Year’s Day and UBER will donate $1 to MADD for every ride nationwide. Lyft: Starting 6:00 a.m. local time December 29 through 6:00 a.m. local time New Year’s Day, pledge to get home safe at and $1 per pledge nationwide will benefit MADD.


Designated Driver Services

DrinkingAndDriving.Org (DADO) 501c3 is a great website that teaches and Inspires the Prevention of Drunk Driving has a National Directory of Designated Driver Services,

The services offered in this site include Designated Driver service that will drive you home in your own car or pick up services.


Free Bus Rides on New Years Eve 

Celebrate the New Year, by letting OCTA do the driving!

To promote safe travels, OCTA is continuing its tradition of offering free bus rides on New Year’s Eve. From 6:00 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2014 until 2:30 a.m., Thursday, January 1, 2015, ride any fixed-route bus, and your ride is free!

Nearly 100,000 people have taken advantage of this special, free bus service over the past 12 years. With 600 buses travelling on 77 designated routes and stopping at over 6,500 bus stops in Orange County, taking the bus is the safest way to celebrate the New Year!

Extended bus service in Fullerton – Heading to Fullerton’s annual First Night in Fullerton event, then be sure to take the bus and avoid the parking hassle? OCTA is providing extended service on Routes 24, 26, 43, 143 make riding the bus and easy and convenient way to enjoy this special event.

Taking the bus is easy – Even if you’ve never ridden the bus before, it’s easy to ride the bus. Use our simple onlinetrip planner to find out where to catch the bus, and the time it leaves. It’s a good idea to plan your return trip at the same time as not all buses travel past midnight. Remember to arrive at your bus stop 10 minutes before your bus is expected to arrive. If you’re traveling before 6:00 p.m., be sure to have your $2 bus fare ready; exact change is required. Riding after 6:00 p.m. on New Year’s Eve? Your ride is free! Don’t forget to plan your trip home as well, not all buses run past midnight.


Barbie Book Fail!

Mattel – you get a great big thumbs down from me on the Barbie Computer Engineer Book! So Barbie can do anything except write code. Thank goodness theres’ a boy close by – he’ll fix everything…Fail!

Barbie Computer Engineer Book
Barbie Computer Engineer Book

Isn’t she supposed to be a Computer engineer? I was already upset about the Girl Scout Barbie released earlier this year but now this. I was very excited to see the Computer Engineer Barbie but to accompany it with such a ridiculous book.

Just a couple of months back I told my girls they could no longer watch the Barbie episodes on Netflix after watching an episode of Barbie Dreamhouse with them “Girl” based TV and toys are so very disappointing.

Step it up Mattel! Encourage our girls, build them up, show them they can be and do anything!

Barbie- Compueter Engineer???
Barbie- Compueter Engineer???

Here’s a more complete article from,, I’m in a hurry as I am on my way to our school garden, hopefully I can find a guy around to help guide through the garden. I might get lost.


We have lift off!!!


My blog has taken a major step, it is now self-hosted with the help of “Siteground“.

What this means to you…hopefully, there has not been any interruption of service to you. Unfortunately, you may see some of the post from the last few days on facebook, twitter, google+ and tumbler for the second time – I do apologize for that. Today should be the only day this will happen. Also, some posts may have the same picture twice. This will also weed itself for future posts.

Things may look a little different and there are few things that still need tweaking. It’s a work in progress.

Now for the good news! I now have a more freedom to offer things like giveaways, family friendly product reviews and other great deals. You will also see some advertisers on my blog, these ads allow me to continue to grow and offer you some incredible deals. I will not advertise anything that does not fall inline with my own personal values. I also plan on expanding my blog a bit to offer more family friendly content.

Overall, I will be able to offer more to my loyal blog readers.

I want to thank “Siteground” for walking (carrying) me through this process. I am not a “techie” person  but they helped me along, every single step of the way. I might have even made it a little more complicated than it needed to be. They picked up the phone every single time I called (there are real people – employees – working here) and they returned every single email within minutes. Seriously, the customer service has been fantastic!

This blog is like a little baby to me and I’m trying to handle it with care as it grows. My focus is still family friendly nature and science based events with an overall emphasis on social and community issues. I hope you enjoy the changes.

Thank you so much for continuing to support my blog and for being part of my growing project.

Annette, Project Refined Life