Friday, January 22, 2016

Red Cross Blood Drive: Montebello-Commerce YMCA

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Simon Youth Foundation College Scholarship

Any student who will be graduating in the class of 2016 and lives within 50 miles of The Shops at Montebello is eligible. Recipients will receive up to $1,500 to enroll in an accredited college, university, vocational or technical school.

For more information and to apply visit


Monday, January 11, 2016

Journey to Space: Exhibition & 3D Film

Now- May 8, 2016
You must, must, must take your family to this exhibition.
I have a soft spot in my heart for NASA. Growing up my father took us kids to Edwards Air Force Base to watch the shuttle land, and we listened for sonic booms from the landings we couldn't see in person. When I was 10 years old our teacher wheeled in the television as another fifth grade class squeezed in their chairs so we could all see the Challenger take off and learn from the first teacher in space.
With all my love for NASA, I was surprised when tears started gathering in the corners of my eyes as the introductory video for Journey to Space started playing. It included television footage that detailed man's history with space exploration. I was overcome with emotion, in awe, and so proud of all that has been accomplished.

The space shuttle Endeavor. Ticket included with Journey to Space admission.

This is by far one of the best exhibits I have ever experienced, and I've seen a lot! This exhibit will get children and adults alike excited about space exploration. After touring the exhibit, seeing the Shuttle Endeavor, and watching the Journey to Space 3-D IMAX movie, I can hardly wait to see the first person on Mars.

Admission to the California Science Center is free.
Parking is $12, cash only.
Journey to Space Exhibit & Shuttle Endeavor 
Journey to Space Exhibit, Shuttle Endeavor, & 3-D IMAX movie $10.50-$16.75

Click here for more information.
If possible try to visit the exhibition at off-peak times. We visited on a Friday at 1:30pm just as the last of the school groups were leaving the museum. Journey to Space had about 50 people inside making it very easy to experiment at every lab station and to experience the rotating Destiny Lab twice. I would even go so far as to advocate for taking your kids out of school early to experience this exhibit.

Space helmet & Neil Armstrong's gloves.

My daughter was excited when she was this in the rotating Destiny Lab.
She remembered it in a Scholastic News article and pointed to it with a huge grin in all the photos.

Being goofy and pretending to "float" in space.

Throughout the exhibit the descriptions at each display were very easy to read and the science was explained in such terms that I was able to easily interrupt the concepts to the youngest of my children and she understood.

Maybe one day there will be colonies just like this on Mars!

The best space doll house yet.
A model of the International Space Station (ISS) for kids to explore.
Each module has openings for kids to pretend play.

Bring your own dolls! My kids found three astronaut dolls to play with in the ISS model, but there were other kids who wanted to play too. Save your sanity and bring a doll or action figure, I'm sure Spiderman and Barbie could run the experiments for a while.

I usually say no to these kinds of things,
but $2 is a bargain for a rare experience such as the high wire bicycle.

Tiny House on display outside of the California Science Center entrance.

I could live here! It was fun exploring all the hidden storage compartments and imagining this was our home. The tiny house has enough space to sleep four people!

Now-May 8
California Science Center
700 Exposition Park Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90037

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Experience Disney Magic Every Day: Open the Disney Store!!!

Experience a little bit of Disney Magic every morning at the Disney Store. It's a little known secret...the first Guest at a Disney Store is given the special honor of opening the store.

Before the store opens, stanchions are set up across the entrance and in the center is a large lock.

A Cast Member brings out a giant key that is stored in a cabinet behind the registers.

The digital marquee counts down the last minute before the store opens and reveals favorite Disney characters.

At the appointed time, the Guest turns the key, the ropes are released, and the store is officially open!

The lucky Guest receives a replica key as a souvenir.

All three of my children have enjoyed the experience of opening the Disney Store. They love the attention and cherish the key they were given as a memento.

I suggest arriving at the Disney Store a minimum of 15 minutes prior to the scheduled opening to secure the coveted first Guest spot.

Montebello is remodeled Disney Store with a "Magical New Store Design." If your Disney Store is not a remodeled store I suggest you call to ask if that location participates in the store opening event.

Friday, January 1, 2016

IKEA Covina: Free family fun for all!

If you and the kids are at home with no plans for the day and everyone is itching to do something, anything, a trip to IKEA is the answer! It is by far the most mom friendly place I have ever been.

I started frequenting IKEA when I was home on maternity leave. As any mom will tell you, a day filled with taking care of toddlers, changing diapers, and nursing occasionally gets dull and sometimes you need to go out to a place where you can take care of the babies and amuse yourself at the same time. IKEA fit the bill perfectly.

IKEA is an easy 20 minute drive from Montebello. It's big blue and yellow building can easily be spotted off the 10 Freeway at Barranca Avenue in Covina. The huge Disney-esque parking structure has extra large spots reserved for families with young kids near the entrance on first floor. The second floor of the structure is open to the air and provides a beautiful view of the Covina hills and the open sky.

One inside I make a beeline for the Smaland play area. Smaland is a supervised play area where kids from 37-54 inches tall can play for up to an hour while parents shop. If you join the IKEA Family program kids can play for an extra 30 minutes on most weekdays.

The newly remodeled play area has kid sized bathrooms, interactive video game floors, an auditorium style TV viewing area, and lots to engage a child's imagination.

If by chance you get to Smaland and it's at full capacity check in with the attendant and sit in the waiting area. There are benches for waiting and there is usually a Disney movie showing. You can spend some time looking through the windows into the play area and point out to your child all the fun things to do and ask what they are going to try first.

Once you get called, you sign your kids in, the kids put their shoes in a bin, everyone gets stamped with a number, the kids get stickers for their backs, the parents get a pager and you're free to do as you please, except you can't leave the building. But not to worry, IKEA has a lot to offer.

If you have a child over 54 inches the Smaland sign says they have hand held games to lend. Children under 37 inches can enjoy a play area just for them upstairs in children's furniture.

Upstairs IKEA has all the larger furniture pieces set up in the showroom for kids to try. There is usually a tent, tunnel, tables, chairs, benches, stools, and rockers all for playing!

There are also sample kids bedrooms and playrooms set up throughout the area. Children and parents are encouraged to try out the displays at IKEA so kids are allowed to climb on the beds, open the drawers, and pretend!

This is a display of a kid sized kitchen the IKEA has for sale, complete with kitchen pots, pans, and other elements. One mom had to drag her daughter away from this set.

There are also real kid sized bowls, plates, cups, and utensils for kids. IKEA is one of the few places where real metal kid sized utensils are sold. The Disney Store also sells metal utensils, but we all need a break from the Princesses every now and then.

This next area is great for nursing moms or parents with young kids. It's a family bathroom located upstairs just a few steps away from the children's furniture area. The door locks and there are couches just outside.

The bathroom is big enough to roll a stroller in and is complete with comfy chair, table, toys, step stools, and an emergency help button near the toilet, "just in case".

A cabinet in the family restroom is stocked with diapers near the changing table in the event that you find the diaper bag empty.

IKEA Covina is complete with a cafeteria style restaurant. It's conveniently located near the bathrooms, elevator, and children's furniture section. It's similar to a school cafeteria, you grab a tray and make your way through the line adding what you want to the tray and placing your order with the servers.

Tuesdays at IKEA kids eat for free. No adult purchase is necessary, the kids simply need to be present at the restaurant cashier and there will be no charge for the kid meals. There are four kid-friendly meals on the menu which includes chicken nuggets/fries, pasta, and two kinds of meatballs/mashed potatoes, all come with a choice of a jug of milk, jug of chocolate milk, juice box, or soda. 

The last time I checked they also sold jars of baby food. There is a family needs section in the dining area that has a bottle warmer, microwave, and kid utensils.

If you have your hands full with a stroller or have children with you, utilize this handy tray cart. Three trays can fit on the cart at once. If you can't find a cart near the line entrance check the dining area, you can usually find a few there.

The dining area is very large, bright, and open. One wall is comprised of windows and this is the view. Beautiful at any time of day. Feel free to bring your laptop or iPad, IKEA has WiFi in the restaurant!

Before you leave be sure to take a look at the AS-IS section of the store. There IKEA has all the returned or slightly damaged display merchandise for sale. I once found a large plush carpet for the kid's room for $75, marked down from $200. It just needed a good vacuum and when the carpet cleaners came to the house I had them spiff it up. It looked brand new.

After you've picked up the kids from Smaland be sure to take them over to the Bistro near the check out registers. At the IKEA Bistro you can pizza, soda, cinnamon rolls, hot dogs, packaged Swedish food, and frozen fat free yogurt! I tell the kids it's ice cream, all they care about is that it's white and it's on a cone.

The ice cream costs exactly $1 so I use the Bistro as the kid's first try at placing an order and paying a cashier. I hand them each a dollar, stand to the side, and have them wait their turn in line. They love the independence and I don't have to worry about them handling coins from change.

IKEA Covina/Inland Empire
848 South Barranca Avenue
Covina, CA 91791
(626) 732 4532
Hours: Mon-Sat 10am-9pm, Sun 10am-8pm
Restaurant Hours: Mon-Sat 9:30am-8:00pm, Sun 9:30am-7:00pm

Where to donate stuff in & near Montebello: Drop off boxes and pick up service

If you've been organizing your house and find yourself with boxes and bags of things to donate here is a list of organizations that service Montebello. Thanks for helping!

Call these numbers and use the automated system to schedule a pick up:

Vietnam Veterans of America 1-800-775-VETS
AMVETS Service Foundation 1-800-795-VETS
Salvation Army 1-800-95-TRUCK
Epilepsy Foundation 1-855-336-0212

You can also drop off in person:

Goodwill Store & Donation Center, 820 N. Montebello Blvd., Montebello. Donations accepted at the rear entrance only.

Boys/Girls Club of America & D.A.R.E. drop-box at:
Home Depot, corner of Telegraph & Garfield, Commerce

If you have toys/craft goods that a daycare center might use:

YMCA, 2000 W. Beverly Blvd, Montebello (The YMCA runs a daycare center and Kid Zone where kids play while their parents exercise: please no stuffed animals)