Monday, October 20, 2014

Exploring the California Missions: Mission San Juan Capistrano

This post is part of a series by a group of California Kid Bloggers on exploring the California Missions. Over the next few months California's missions will be featured by various bloggers. You can follow along here

Mission San Juan Capistrano is located in southern Orange County, 3 blocks west of I-5 on Ortega Highway.  It is one of the few missions to have been founded twice and is the 7th Alta California Mission. 

It was first founded by Father Fermin Lasuen, on October 30th 1775, after Father Junipero Serra convinced Spanish Captain Rivera that a new mission was needed to interrupt the long journey between San Diego and San Gabriel. The mission was named after Saint John or Capestrano of Capistrano, Italy, who had been made a saint in 1724. 

Just eight days later, Native Californians near the San Diego Mission had attacked and burned much of Mission San Diego de Alcala.  The fathers immediately returned to San Diego, but first Father Fermin Lasuen buried the San Juan Capistrano Mission bells to keep them safe.

A year later, once things were settled back in San Diego, Father Junipero Serra returned to San Juan Capistrano Mission, dug up the bells, and re-founded it on November 1, 1776, All Saints Day.

I can see why Mission San Juan Capistrano is sometimes called "Jewel of the Missions" because it is a beautiful place to visit.  It has undergone extensive renovation throughout the years.

Here are some of the things you can see at Mission San Juan Capistrano:

This olive mill was built around the 1880s and was used to crush olives for juice extraction.  The olive oil was used for cooking, lamps, medicines and protective leather balm.

One of the great things about the tour here is that they have an audio tour designed for children of all ages. (The girls are sitting at one of the audio locations, listening to the story).

In the museum portion of the mission, it showed how the priests lived back in the 1700's.  This was a depiction of their room with rope beds.  Doesn't look very comfortable does it?

Some other living quarters for the missionaries and monks.

Resurgam: Latin for "I shall rise again".

Every year, the swallows leave in October to head south to Argentina for the winter and return every year around March 19. That's when the miracle of the “Swallows” of Capistrano takes place each year at Mission San Juan Capistrano. You can see some of their mud nests (made from mud and saliva), which are clinging to the outer walls.

The padres kept records of batisms, confirmations, marriages, buriels and agriculture production levels.

The Riderless Horse Statue, "The Empty Saddle," is a tribute to Portola riders who have died. 

 This is the footwear the Acjachemen wore to protect their feet.  

 Tallow Cooking Stoves- Tallow, a valuable commodity during the mission period, was rendered from the fat of cows and sheep for use in candle, grease, ointment and soap production.

Blacksmiths made things out of iron or steel.  The Mission's first blacksmiths were skilled craftsman recruited from Baja, California.  They came to teach Native American men their skill.  Blacksmiths made items like swords, nails, spurs, knives, hammers, hingers, axes, plows and more.

The Mission padres required wine for Mass. Father Serra wanted to produce wine in California instead of waiting for supply ships to import it, so he asked the Viceroy in Mexico City to send grape cuttings to California.  It is thought that the vine cuttings were planted at the missions around Southern California around 1779.  (please note the grapes growing on the arbor are not originial vines from the Mission period.)


The garden here is absolutely beautiful.  The children especially loved looking at all the koi fish swimming around in the pond. 

 The chapel is called the Father Serra's Church because it is the only building still standing where it is known that he said mass. In fact, historians think it may be the oldest building in all of California.

The impressive golden altar that you see below is not the original. It was a gift from Archbishop Cantwell of Los Angeles who had received it from Spain in 1906. It was so tall that they had to raise the ceiling to fit it inside.

These four bells that hung in the Great Stone Church survived the earthquake, and were hung in a bell wall, one of the mission's most picturesque features. The two largest bells were cast in 1796, the others in 1804. 

 My children and I had a wonderful time here!  For information about tours to Mission San Juan here.

Each year, as part of their California History lesson, 4th graders throughout the state study the Missions and their importance in California History.  Please check regularly to see other California Kid Bloggers post their  virtual tours of the California Missions.

Monday, September 8, 2014


My daughter was very excited when we received these adorable Eric Carle pajamas from Gymboree in the mail.  For one thing, my daughter lives in pajamas!  Every day when she comes home from school she changes into her pajamas....I often have to disappoint her when I actually have an errand to run, or she has an extracurricular class to go to that day and I make her change back into her regular clothes.  But if she had the choice, she would wear pajamas all day!

She also loves The Very Hungry Caterpillar story, so these pajamas were perfect!  My daughter told me she loves how comfortable these pajamas are..."mommy they are so soft and comfortable!"  You can view her little review of her new pajamas down at the bottom of this post in her youtube video.

I'm thinking that we will be making a trip to Gymboree very soon so she can get another set of Eric Carle Pajamas.

These pajamas are:

  • 100% cotton rib
  • Snug-fitting
  • Easy pull-on style bottoms
  • Features screenprinting
  • Picot trim with bow at neckline
  • Machine wash; imported

These pajamas come in adult sizes too!

Inspired by Eric Carle’s Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See, from 9/2-9/30, Gymboree will be hosting a photo contest, where they are encouraging parents to help their little ones take a picture of what they see.

Entrants can submit a photo via Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr or via Gymboree's designated direct photo upload site, using the hashtag, #WhatDoYouSee.

Entrants of the #WhatDoYouSee contest will have the chance of winning one of ten Eric Carle gift baskets including: A House for Hermit Crab book, a signed copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar book, figurines, stickers, The Very Hungry Caterpillar Sippy Cup, Chunky Colored Pencils, Match and Munch Game, Place Mats Book, and Stage & Play (Approximate Retail Value $144.99).

The winners will be announced at the end of the contest period, which is 9/30/14.

For even more fun, download Gymboree's iPhone app so you and your little one can add some Eric Carle fun to your photos and play a caterpillar game!

There are some great free Eric Carle printable coloring pages HERE for your little ones. (you will need to scroll down to the bottom of the page to find them)

Here's my daughter's own personal review of these pajamas.

Disclosure: We received pieces from the Gymboree Eric Carle clothing collection for review purposes.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.