Our Visit to Mormon Island at Folsom Lake

While in California, my family and I spent an afternoon at Folsom Lake. Or what’s left of it anyway. It is the lowest it has been in 60 years. And boy, is it sad…

Folsom Lake - then and now

photo source

It may be a sad sight to see the lake so low, but it’s a well-visited area, even now as the boats sit in the parking lot of the marina. The draw? Under all of the water that is usually held back by Folsom Dam, lived an old mining community.

Early in March 1848, W. Sidney, S. Willis, and Wilford Hudson, members of the Mormon Battalion, set out from Sutter’s Fort to hunt deer. Stopping on the south fork of the American River, they found gold. They told their story on returning to the fort, and soon about 150 Mormons and other miners flocked to the site, which was named Mormon Island. This was the first major gold strike in California after James W. Marshall’s discovery at Coloma.  –source

As history would have it, the town was destroyed by fire in 1856 and was never rebuilt. The community completely dwindled after the California gold rush, leaving only a few families by the 1940s. In it’s finer days, however, the population of the town was more than 2,500, and had four hotels, three dry-goods stores, five general merchandise stores, an express office, and many small shops.

mormon island

When Folsom Dam was built, all but the cemetery at Mormon Island – which was moved – was all but destroyed. With the current drought in the Sacramento area, the remains of the old mining community are now explored and photographed by hundreds.

Including us…

Folsom Lake - Mormon Island

Mormon Island - Folsom Lake

Keeping Baby Safe While Away From Home for the Holidays

We plan to be in California for the Holidays. We will be far away from home, in someone else’s home. My parents’ house is really no longer kid-friendly, and I don’t know what I’m getting our family in to wehn we stay with other family members. I plan to be prepared!

Are you and your family traveling for the Holidays? Here are some tips for keeping Baby safe while away from home —

Tips for Safeguarding When You Are Away from Home
By Julie Vallese, Consumer Safety Expert for Safety 1st

The holidays have arrived and whether you are celebrating in your home or as a guest with friends and family, make sure to keep a close eye on your little one.  If you are traveling this holiday season, it’s easier than you think to keep baby safe in someone else’s home.

While you are packing your suitcase, plan ahead and pack a safeguarding essentials kit. In the kit you should include: outlet covers, door knob covers, and corner cushions.  If you are driving and have room in the trunk a gate is another great essential to bring with you.

As this home may be new to baby expect that he or she will want to explore every room. Therefore while celebrating away from home making sure outlets are covered, is an easy a non- intrusive way to safeguard. It’s important to create off limit rooms, such as the bathroom or laundry room.  This is where a door knob cover can come in handy. Easy for guests to still use these room, but harder for baby to go where she shouldn’t.

As a rule someone should be watching baby at all times, but if possible put up a gate in from of all stairs. Additionally, asking your host if it’s Ok to put corner cushions on sharp tables edges will be easier than asking him or her to remove the table. Corner cushions go on and come off easy.

The holidays are supposed to be entertaining so remembering these tips can help keep the holiday safe, as well as fun.


The holidays can be a fun time but there are also many travel and home dangers that are often overlooked. Join us on December 16th at 8pm for a Twitter Party. We’ll be chatting about Hidden Holiday Hazards: Travel and Home, sharing tips on how to keep the holidays safe and happy, and there will be prizes!


Plan Your Next Family Vacation on Travel Saturday

Travel Saturday is the Black Friday of travel deals – available exclusively tomorrow, November 30th. Myrtle Beach area businesses have come together to offer Travel Saturday, a day that features a selection of heavily discounted deals on accommodations, entertainment and attractions for the upcoming 2014 travel season. Deal seekers can log online on Saturday, November 30th and take advantage of a variety of travel deals from Myrtle Beach, SC.

Travel Saturday

Myrtle Beach is beautiful and the perfect destination for family vacations, with beautiful ocean front hotels and breathtaking views. There is so much to do and see and explore. A definite must add to the list of places to go! Myrtle Beach offers an abundance of accommodations and activities, along with 60 miles of pristine coastline.

Whether you’re looking for the perfect present for that special someone or a family gift the kids won’t forget, consider giving the gift of travel to America’s favorite family beach this holiday season.

To take advantage of these Travel Saturday deals that will bring you closer to paradise in Myrtle Beach, visit www.visitmyrtlebeach.com/travelsaturday.

My Afternoon With Garth Brooks Rocked! #BlameItAllOnMyRoots

I want to tell you all about Garth Brooks’ newest boxed set, Blame It All On My Roots, due to release tomorrow, but will you bare with me as I gush about my afternoon with him first?

When I started blogging, what seems like ages ago, I had not a clue that so many great opportunities would arise. Due to long hours behind the keyboard, our family sure has seen more than our share of stuff, allowing us to be a blessing to others. The experiences my work on this little ol’ blog has provided have far surpassed any thing and have been a great blessing to our whole family.

Take meeting Garth Brooks, for instance. I’m not usually one to get all giddy about meeting celebrities. Perhaps because I see them as people, just like us, but with more visibility and money! But, when I got the email inviting me to interview Garth Brooks?! I mean, it’s Garth Brooks! He’s a music genius. An icon in the world of musicians. I just may have squealed…

My adventure began on a short flight from Austin to Nashville, where I met up with some of my dear friends (and fellow Walmart Moms) – Lori, Tara, and Monica – and our partner in crime, Mille. All of us are huge country music fans and just adore Garth Brooks. We chatted about how unbelievable it was that we would get such a private interview with Garth Brooks (it was just going to be us, and not a swarming media crowd), what we were going to ask him, and which items we brought to beg him to autograph. We giggled like teenage girls.

On the day of our interview, we all hopped out of bed early and explored Music City. We walked through the Country Music Hall of Fame and down Music Row, all of us a bundle of nerves in anticipation of our afternoon with Garth.

Garth Brooks Country Music Hall of Fame

Walmart Moms on Music Row

I heard a few squees as we pulled up to Garth’s private studio, we were greeted with hugs from his manager, and ushered into the “sitting room” by the fire. After we had a chance to settle in, we were treated to a beautifully scrumptious down-home country lunch, complete with tasty fried chicken and the best green beans around. As we were munching on our lunch, Garth walked in and took us all by surprise. We had all interviewed celebrities before, and I guess none of us expected him to show up as we were eating! He even snapped a photo of all of us at lunch. It was his idea, btw.

Walmart Moms at Garth Brooks' recording studio

Garth wanted to know all about each of us – about our families and our work, and he asked tons of questions about social media. Can you believe he’s not on Twitter or Instagram or Facebook?! Crazy, right?

The rest of the afternoon was just amazing. We never actually interviewed Garth. Instead, we sat around joking and chatting about life, ours and his. He was genuinely interested in us, and that made us feel like old friends; family even. He showed us the beautiful booklet included in each boxed set, and pointed out photos from his childhood. We listened to some of the music from his new albums –  track after track – as he told us about the original artist, why he chose to cover their song, and what each song means to him. He danced with Lori, recorded a message for Monica’s girls, and wanted us all to take a selfie with him.

Garth Brooks Blame It All On My Roots boxed set

Walmart Moms with Garth Brooks

selfie with Garth Brooks

But, as the proud mama I am, the highlight of the afternoon for me was when Garth asked to listen to Julia sing. I so wish I had thought to record him with my mini iPad pressed up to his ear – with eyes closed, body swaying, his reaction floored me. I mean, I knew Julia was good, but to hear GARTH BROOKS say that she sounded fantastic… Wow!!

That was certainly a day I will never forget. And, neither will Julia.

Blame It All On My Roots

Now, about Garth Brooks’ new boxed set —

Included in the boxed set, Blame It All On My Roots, are 8 discs (6 CDs & 2 DVDs) with over seven hours of entertainment, including 77 songs, 33 music videos, and a 68-page photo booklet! Four NEW studio albums, inspired by Garth’s live Las Vegas show, take you on a musical journey of how Garth Brooks got his sound, as he performs songs from his greatest musical influences spanning “Classic Country,” “Classic Rock,” “Blue-Eyed Soul” and the “Melting Pot” (one CD for each genre). The boxed set also includes a two hour DVD of Garth’s acclaimed one-man show recorded live at The Wynn Resort in Las Vegas. This limited edition, exclusive boxed set also includes two CDs containing 33 songs from The Ultimate Hits (plus a bonus track) and a DVD with music videos for each of these hit songs.

And, it’s ONLY AVAILABLE AT WALMART (in store only) TOMORROW, beginning at 6pm local time, while supplies last!

I can assure you, as a country music and Garth Brooks fan, you will love his “new” music. Heck, anyone who enjoys a wide variety of music genre, will LOVE this music!

Disclosure: My afternoon with Garth was sponsored by Walmart. Of course, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. While Ray claims he liked Garth Brooks first, I’ve always been a fan!

Trying to Stay Cool?

Are you looking for something to do with the little ones in the Austin area these next couple of weeks? If you have small children and want to stay cool, the Quarry Splash Pad in Leander at Southwest Williamson County Regional Park is just the ticket! At just just $1 per child, it’s a super fun outing and incredibly affordable.

We heard about this great splash pad from a new friend, through our good friend Andrew. All of us met at Quarry Splash Pad last weekend, and loved it so much I just had to tell you about it! 

Leander, TX - Quarry Splash Pad

In addition to lots of areas in which you can get soaked (including a waterfall I forgot to snap a pic of), there are picnic tables, synthetic grass, a sand pit, and a climbing wall. The slide was a big hit, although my boys wanted deperately to climb up it, as they do most slides. They also wanted to climb all of the rocks around the splash pad. Both a big no-no. After being redirected a few times, they easliy kept themselves occupied for the rest of our visit.

Quarry Splash Pad - Leander, TX

There are a couple of areas that you can reserve – both in the shade – one near the sand pit, and one near the splash pad, so either be sure to do so, or check the posted schedule for the day before throwing your stuff in these areas. Otherwise, there is plenty of space to set up camp elsewhere.

reservations - Quarry Splash Pad

The splash pad is currently open 7 days a week, from 10am to 7pm, but the last day of operation is Sunday, September 29, 2013, so don’t wait! I heard mornings are pretty crowded, so maybe plan to visit after lunch. Even us “big kids” got drenched so, wear your suit, mom and dad. And, remember to bring something to drink and maybe a few snacks… If your kids are anything like mine, they WILL need a bit of something!