Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy

Finally had the chance to sneak in to ride Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy at Disneyland. With how busy these last few weeks have been, we just hadn't gotten to it. I am super glad we did because it is a very different experience than the regular Space Mountain (that we are HUGE fans of!). I think what made it more scary to me was that you could actually see more of the tracks surrounding you! (uh...yikes!)

Unfortunately I suspected there was some sort of illusion that popped out of no where because as we were in line I could hear people screaming (a startled scream) just before entering the unloading area!

I screamed anyway (mostly to further the spooks for the kids).  Honestly, I think they were more scared by the idea they'd be scared, not because they actually were!

We enjoyed it and would certainly love to see more holiday overlays on the rides in the years to come (and judging by the crazy crowds at Disneyland right now... I'm not the only one!)

If you want to catch all if the Halloween theming... Be fast! November 2 it all goes away to make room for the Christmas theming!!!

Thanks Mickey!


Monday, October 19, 2009

Sea World's Halloween Spooktacular

One of the biggest benefits to living in Southern California when raising kids is the constant seasonal activities and the Halloween season is no exception!

We headed down to the Sea World San Diego Halloween Spooktacular and I'm so glad we did! This was our first year going and I know we will go again next year because it was a great experience for the whole family.

In terms of scale, it's not as big of an event, but is still pretty cool. I would have liked to have seen more strategic planning of the traffic flow for the dozen or so trick or treat stations but the creativity and quality of the treats far surpassed my expectations! I absolutely LOVED the baby banana's followed by the individual peanut butter dipping cups!!! What a cool way to run with a theme! (P.S. - Sea World can I have a job in your marketing department? I can't think of anything more fun than organizing things like that! Just kidding.)

Another neat touch was the employees handing out Believe (Shamu) pencils just after exiting the park.

The boys donned their NASA astronaut and Clone Trooper costumes for the event and Sea World provided the trick or treat bags. The event runs weekends from 1-6pm until the end if this month and is included with your admission for the day.

Definitely make time to head down there if you haven't yet this season!


Sunday, October 18, 2009

What's in Your Wallet When Going to DL?

I may just be the last person on the planet to have noticed that all the carts at Disneyland now accept credit cards! Finally! It has been a royal pain over the years having to check that I had $11 in cash in my wallet for purchasing two of the souvenir pop corn tubs before going to Disneyland (yeah... going as often as we do...)!!! As evidenced by my recent post on using the tubs for birthday party favors, it has been a frequent problem...

So you'll imagine my surprise when I walked up to the cart the other night to find that not only had the price gone up by 25 cents, but atleast now I could pay with my debit card and no longer worry about it! Yippee!

After further interogation I discovered that most of the carts accept credit cards now (FYI you've been able to use credit cards for a long time for parking... Always a last minute panic for me when going to a new theme park because I'm not one to carry much cash!)

Thanks for making it just a bit easier to spend money Mickey!!!


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Say Cheese!

So today is one of those days a parent dreads... A day when you have to choose and you simply don't like those choices.

Yup, you guessed... School picture ordering! This is the first year when I can honestly say that I didn't like a single one of the pictures either of the boys had taken! Ultra cheesy smiles and stray hairs permeate all the choices. Ugh.

Do I boycott the whole thing and just not order or do I give in and pick the least of the worst in both cases? Quite a conundrum this is!

I wonder if the photographer was having a bad day a didn't notice the large tuft of hair out of place or the squinty smile in response to "Say Cheese!"

I wonder if the do studies corelating the mood of the photographer and the amount of orders that come in from the given school. Doubt it.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Cherishing Those Memories

It seems like just yesterday when all the memories of my mother's childhood were fresh in my mind.  She had one of those childhoods filled with countless famous people encounters & glamorous events mixed humble experiences.  I cherished the evenings we would spend in my childhood when she would share her adventures.  No, her childhood had plenty of sadness, but what I loved about her was her ability to appreciate the experiences. 

Over the years since she passed away, those memories have faded in my mind, despite my desperation to keep them alive in some way.  I've clung to every little memory I can.  What I wouldn't give for one of the Priceless Conversations from my mother, Peter Sahin of South County Law Group is giving to his clients as a part of their Estate Plan!  As a mother who lost her mother to Cancer so many years ago, I truly understand the power and gift those conversations/keepsakes really are for your children. 

Peter is holding a special free workshop for parents on October 24th at 10 am and another one on November 7th at 10 am at Partyopolis in Lake Forest, CA (Click here to register).   If you're a parent and can attend, you owe it to your children to take a few minutes to find out what you need to do to protect them and take care of them in case something happens to you.  Bring the kids, day care will be provided and the kids will have a ton of fun jumping around on the inflatable structures.  You can also call (800) 452-9925 ext. 203 for October 24th and ext. 204 for Nov. 7th.  Reservations are required.

For more information about Peter Sahin and South County Law Group, you can visit http://www.southcountylg.com/


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Spinning Plates

There has been an interesting pattern I've noticed occuring lately and I have to admit it makes me anxious just thinking about it... All the women I know are working so hard to keep so many plates spining at one time (metaphorically) and we are all so afraid of dropping even just one. The weight (sanity) of the household is resting squarely on our shoulders and it is a daunting feeling. It doesn't matter if you work full time, part time or are a stay at home mom - juggling everything is very stressful. Let's not even delve in to the added pressures of a teetering economy and falling home values. There is more pressure than ever to be a two income household but many of us find it tough to find the middle ground. Yet, somehow it is up to us to keep everything together but we're finding it increasingly difficult!

I wish I could be SuperMom but I am coming to the realization that the harder I work to be SuperMom - the more elusive my goal becomes. I just can't be everything to everyone no matter how much I wish I could.

Yesterday I was lucky enough to sneak in a cup of coffee with two amazing and talented mothers. Both are like me - working to find that balance between wife, mother, career and self. What became clear was that we are all feeling the same pressures right now and are looking for ways to balance better.

I shared an interesting discussion my husband and I had recently. One evening it dawned on me... I was working really hard to see that certain things were done because I thought that was what my husband wanted but honestly I had never asked! So, I finally did! I am so glad I did! We've now shared our "top 3" list of important things with eachother and it has helped our stress level tremendously!

Our "top 3" were things like allowing eachother to have uninterupted "decompress" time after stressful days, helping get dinner dishes loaded and my favorite (that was a total shocker to me) - my husband doesn't want us to wait for him to eat dinner if he's caught in traffic! He'd much rather the boys start eating at the normal time ... I had no idea!

Anyway, maybe after more than 10 years of marriage I've learned a few things but I'm still working on that balancing act we call Motherhood!

What tips have you learned to help your balancing act? I think we could all use any extra tips!


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Little Green Monsters

It only took one glance at my precious tomato plants to see the horrible indignity they had been done... Their leaves were gone and in their place were the squirmy little buggers known as green caterpillars.

Oh this was war! My plants had just begun rippening their massive crop. The green caterpillars were the size of fingers! They chirped at me (no kidding) as I scooped them up with the kids handy bug catching gear, each one seeming larger than the last.

I lost count at five of the little buggers now fighting for space in the tiny bug catching kit Kyle had gotten for his birthday.

All I ask is, "Was it worth it little buggers to single handedly destroy my tomato plants in one night?"

Anyone up for an episode game of Survivor and want to eat these things? (Gross!!) They are freshly filled with tomato leaves... So kidding!


Monday, October 12, 2009

Super Easy Homemade Chicken Soup

This is panning out to be a yucky cold/flu season early this year! As a kid I was spoiled with my Mom's homemade chicken soup - chicken soup from a can never has any appeal to me.

I don't think many people realize how super easy it is to make your own chicken soup. Storage is a piece of cake (freeze it for those times when you are sick and not up to cooking!). Here's how my Mom always made chicken soup:

Take 1 roasted chicken (we always take what is left over from dinner and I use the ready cooked whole chickens from the store!) and put it as is in a large pot. Fill 1/2 way with water. Turn on high heat for 1-2 hours. Let it boil away.

Once the meat is falling off the bone and falls apart in your hands (or spoon), pour through a colander into a saucepan. The "chicken stock" is now ready to add all the goodies to.

I always add a couple tablespoons of soy sauce as my secret ingredient. Add a couple handfuls of frozen vegetables and frozen brown rice. Let it boil for about 15 minutes and it's done!

My Mom always said the sign of a good chicken soup was if it turned to jelly when refrigerated. Not sure why that is though, but it does make it easier to skim off the fat...

What's your comfort food when you're feeling under the weather?


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Danimals- Stay Out of Our House!

About once a year I go through a rude awakening... Many of the "regular" grocery store items marketed towards kids are anything but healthy. Sure, they are easy and have the appearance of being nutritious... many are anything but!

Perfect example: Danimals (drinkable yoghurt or the "crush cups")

You'd think (or at least I did) they are healthy for the kids - a great on the go breakfast or snack. I guess I had forgotten my lesson from last year ( I learned how much the go-gurts made my kids crazy) because I just took a look at the packages of them in our fridge (we'd noticed a creeping in of crazy behaviors in the kids lately and I am pretty careful about their candy & soda intake, so I knew it wasn't the usual suspects). I WAS HORRIFIED! One Danimals has the equivalent to 1/2 a can of soda (14 grams of sugar!). Would you give your kid a small sized soda can for breakfast and send them off to school? Apparently I have lately. I am so embarassed.

I'm sure you're wondering what I've done with the Danimals in our fridge... they are now in the garbage, but I rescued the packaging to take a picture of the label to compare with an old rootbeer soda label for comparison (Mug Rootbeer is the top image and the Danimals is below):

I guess I'll now be taking the extra time to buy plain yogurt and mix in natural
fruit preserves...

What other villians have you found in your cupboard/fridge that you had no idea were lurking?


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Awesome Peanut Butter Substitute!

So I'd heard some of the other moms gushing about how wonderful this Sunflower Seed Butter was from Trader Joe's but never remembered to pick any up! Man, am I ever kicking myself!

If you've got school aged kids, you are most likely familiar with how common peanut allergies are and how the schools have really taken proactive measures to help out those kids. The kids are pretty good about it and I know my kids are aware of what they are eating more because of it. I can name several of the food allergies their classmates have.

It is a struggle around our house because PB & J sandwiches are always easy to put in lunches, but that means the boys have to sit at the designated peanut table... But no more! The Sunflower seed butter is a super yummy perfect substitue. Do the taste test and I'm sure you'll agree!!!

Another reason I love is that it's made with seeds... Not nuts (like almond butter). Many children with peanut allergies are allergic to all tree nuts. I'd also like to mention that this has a lot less sugar than most of the commercial peanut butters!

Thanks for another great product for healthier living Trader Joe's!!


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Mickey's Trick-or-Treat Fun

Without a doubt, Fall and Winter are my favorite times of year to visit Disneyland. Disneyland Resorts’ Mickey’s Trick-or-Treat Party signals the beginning of the festive season. A few years ago Disneyland began hosting the Mickey’s Trick or Treat at California Adventure and it quickly became a tradition in our house to go. Most years we get tickets to go right around Halloween (if not on Halloween), but this year Disney offered us the opportunity to also go earlier in October. I am so glad we did! It is a FANTASTIC way to jump start the season! If you haven’t gotten your tickets yet, you can buy them here. Don’t wait because nights do sell out! (Do note that regular park admission does not get you in, you have to buy separate tickets)

This year it seemed like more of the rides were open and made it feel like a VIP private event because the wait times for rides were virtually non-existent! Brett rode California Screamin’ (for the first time) and it was literally walk-right on to the ride! I saw a 10 minute wait on Toy Story Mania & Soarin’ over California and it was walk-right on to all the rides in A Bugs Land.

I’d also like to say a special thanks to Disney for continuing to make such an effort to bring in healthier snacks… this year we saw individual packaged Craisins, baby carrots, apple slices and Cheese-Its. This is a HUGE help for parents because my kids were snacking on the healthy snacks most of the night and didn’t actually eat much of the candy until the way home.

Kyle sums up the evening best by saying, “It was AWESOME!”

Things to note:

-You don’t need to bring a trick or treat bag. They provide perfect sturdy Halloween themed bags just after you enter the gates.

-Don’t worry about the stations running out of candy, so don’t rush to the trick or treat the 13+ stations in a panic. One of the things I LOVE about Disney is that they think of everything and are prepared for everything, so once you see the massive mounds of candy at each station AND the Castmembers diligently running around refilling the stations, you’ll soon see that there really is no rush. (We’ve also found that at the end of the night it’s not unheard of to get larger handfuls dumped in trick or treat bags as the crowds dwindle down). Every time we have gone we come back with a ridiculous amount of candy… and we aren’t really trying to!

-Costumes are encouraged – You are trick or treating of course!

-Be prepared to have fun. With a large amount of character greetings/photo opportunities, dance party areas, parades (Mickey’s Trick-or-Treat on the Street Cavalcade) and activities, it will be a night to remember.

-I saw most of the food vendors open inside during the event, so don’t worry about grabbing dinner before. The find of the night was the first time I think I have EVER seen no line up at the Churro cart! Not sure if it was because everyone was filled up on sugar already, but I was sure tempted to get one…
-Don’t miss the walk through in Disney Animation (Hollywood Backlot), there were more trick or treat stations than I could count!

-If you’re a chocolate fan… be sure to find the Ghiradelli Chocolate stations.

-If you’ve got young ones, bring your stroller because they will get exhausted by the end of the night (and you also need an easy way to carry the massive bags of candy!)

Have you gone to Mickey’s Trick or Treat Party? What was your favorite part?


Friday, October 2, 2009

Race for the Rescues 5K Run/Walk

If you are an animal lover like me and will be anywhere near the Pasadena Rose Bowl this Sunday October 4th, make sure you head on over to Race for the Rescues 4th Annual 5k run/walk hosted by Carrie Ann Inaba from “Dancing with the Stars” benefiting The Rescue Train. The event runs from 8:30 am – 12:30 pm (registration begins at 7:00 am) and is sure to be lots of fun for the entire family! There will be a silent auction, pet adoption, a doggie fashion show, Walk of Paw’s celebrity art auction, pet psychics and unique pet products. The event raises funds for seven Los Angeles animal rescues (all are 501c3’s) which combined save thousands of animals each year!

For more information go to http://www.racefortherescues.org/

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