Friday, December 24, 2010

Santa's most recent location...

I hope that everyone has been having a wonderful Holiday Season!

In our house, we celebrate Christmas and I'm relieved my boys still believe in Santa Claus.  I've wondered just when that will stop.  I've looked for the subtle signs of them pretending to believe just to keep my husband and I happy.  But so far their belief seems pretty genuine.  Hence this little sticky note I found on the Christmas tree one day last week:

I'm not sure why my son felt the need to post the sticky note, but nonetheless, I thought it was the cutest thing!

For those anxiously watching Santa's progress across the planet today you can go here, track his progress on Twitter here, "like" the fanpage on Facebook here.  My kids have anxiously been watching his progress on the Norad site and updating us on the latest location.  Norad has also created a number of videos showing the progress first hand.


Google Maps has also paired with Norad in tracking Santa.  Anywhere you have Google maps (either online, on your smartphone, iPad, etc.) go to the search bar and type in "Santa" and it will automatically show you the most recent location Santa was sighted in.

Thanks Norad for doing such an amazing job tracking Santa's progress!  :)

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Friday, December 17, 2010

Holiday fun at the OC Zoo

Looking for some Holiday Family Fun this weekend?

Head over to the OC Zoo (at the Irvine Regional Park) on Saturday December 18th for fun activities including story time with Mrs. Claus, crafts, face painting and Santa of course!  Between the hours of 10:00 am - 3:00 pm you can see all the animals open their presents and find treats hidden inside Christmas trees.  All activities are included with the admission to the park ($2 per person and parking costs $5 a vehicle).  For more information you can go here.

And of course you don't want to forget to ride the Christmas Train at the park while you are there. Information about when it runs is here.

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Do you know any "Freaky Eaters"?

Do you know any "freaky eaters"?  Someone addicted to one food in particular?  Someone with a food phobia that has a major effect on their daily life?  Well, TLC is now casting for it's new series Freaky Eaters.  Armed with a team of qualified experts that will use a number of techniques, each participant will be helped to overcome the emotional & physical problems that occur with freaky eating.

  If you or someone you know falls in to this category, nominate them for the show!  Send an email to freakyeaterscasting [at] gmail [dot] com. Be sure to include you name, number and email address.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Yoplait coupon and a good cause

Love Yoplait Yogurt? 

I'm sure you've heard of it, at this time of year Yoplait will donate 10 cents to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure® for every pink lid sent in through December 31, 2010 (go here for more information about sending them in).  There's still time to gather up the lids and send them in.  To make it even easier, here is a link to a manufacturer's coupon from Yoplait! Click here to download the coupon.  Feel free to pass this on to everyone you know!

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Snow Land in Costa Mesa this Saturday!

Looking for a fun family activity in Costa Mesa this weekend?  

Head on over to the annual Holiday Snow Land hosted by Torelli Realty on Saturday, December 11, 2010 from 12 noon - 3pm.  It's free (except for concessions, etc.).  

Santa is scheduled to arrive at 12pm (via Fire Truck) and will be available for free pictures with the kids.  There will be hay wagon rides, cookie decorating, music a collection of toys for the Toys for Tots program and food collection for the Share Our Selves food drive.

The following schools will also be present:

-The Estancia High School sports teams will be raising money by selling donuts by Jess Gilman, (the officer who was recently profiled in the paper for his donut making), hot dogs, polish sausages, sweets, crafts, and more.

-TeWinkle Middle School is selling coffee, hot cocoa and snacks to raise money for their programs.

-Adams Elementary School is selling shaved ice to raise money for their PTA and recycling efforts

-The Indian Maidens will be selling popcorn and brownies to benefit their organization.

-The Estancia High School Cheer Team will be doing face painting and volunteering their spirit throughout the day.

Snow Land will be located at Balearic Park – 1975 Balearic Dr., Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Saturday, December 11, 2010.

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Feeling Like I'm From the Stone Age...

It's happened.  That moment I knew would one day arrive.  I feel like I grew up in the Stone Age.  I guess I did, in a way.  I grew up in the Stone Age of computers!  

My oldest came home today and announced he had a PowerPoint slide due for his class on Friday and he had all of his information on his thumb drive.  Um... What?  He's in third grade!  Honestly I don't think PowerPoint was even created until I was in High School or College and now kids are learning to use it in third grade.  Wow.  I feel so old.

I remember sitting in typing class in high school being so worried about getting the spelling correct.  Yeah... spelling isn't as important anymore with the invention of spell check and auto correct.  Speaking of auto correct... be sure to check out this hilarious site (warning, it's for Moms, not for kids as there are innuendos and other words, but it's pretty funny!)

As I sat there watching him type away (at his lightening speed of 15 words a minute) I realized that the world has really changed.  Today, being able to say you are proficient at PowerPoint is a bonus on a resume, but in 20 years it will be like saying you are proficient in using a manual typewriter.  I wonder what the buzz words for resume's will be when he's creating his first resume.

It was also less than 20 years ago when computer servers took up entire rooms, now one small server (that could easily fit under your desk) can store as much as an entire room did.  Heck, my iPhone probably has more technology than Apollo 11 that landed on the Moon.

What moments have made you realize you grew up in an entirely different era than your children?

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Monday, December 6, 2010

The Science of Gingerbread is Here!

© Discovery Science Center
The Science of Gingerbread is here at the Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana!

Be sure to stop in to see some of the very special gingerbread houses decorated by some of your favorite bloggers (including me!).  There are a number of great events and activities for kids of all ages to participate in including:

Hands-On Kitchen Science Activities: Daily through Jan 2 Find out all about kitchen tools, recipe science and more!

"A Matter of Taste" Stage Show: 
11a,1p,3p,4p; Sat/Sun through Jan 2How are taste and smell different? Find out for yourself!

Award Winning Gingerbread Displays:
Daily through Jan 2See Gingerbread Competition entries throughout the Center!

Photos w/Santa Claus:
11am-3pm; Dec 4&5,11&12,18-24Don't miss your chance to take a photo & visit with Santa!

Cookie Decorating: 11:30a, 1:30p, 3:30p
; Dec 4&5,11&12,18-30Decorate holiday cookies and eat them too!

Train Modeling Demonstrations: 
Dec 4,7,9,12,14,16,18,21,23,26,28,30, Jan1 Check out exclusive demos by Toy Train Engineers of the Southern California.

All activities and demonstrations are free after admission. Dates and activites are subject to change.
© Discovery Science Center
Have you been there yet this year?  What are your favorite Gingerbread houses?

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Another Fab Disneyland Purse!

Wordless Wednesday... 

I had to share yet another gorgeous purse I found at Disneyland (this picture hardly does it justice).  Again this price tag is hard to beat coming in at below $30.  Yep, you read that right!

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Inexpensive and Gorgeous Homemade Gift Kids Can Make

Finding a good gift for family members from the kids without breaking the bank (especially if you have a long list to buy for) is always tough.  A couple of years ago we started making our own ornaments to give as gifts. 

Here's a super simple and even toddler friendly way to make elegant ornament gifts:

At this time of year Michael's sells the clear glass packs of ornaments in a number of different sizes.  If you don't have any on hand, buy a variety of colors of paint (most paint works fine for this project).

Have the kids pick two colors and drizzle a small amount of paint in the ornament and have your child swirl the ornament until all or most of the clear has been covered.

Allow several days to dry, then you can also write with gold or silver pen a special message on the ornament, year, etc.  And Voila!  A fantastic gift that will be cherished forever.

These also make fantastic craft projects for room mothers to do with classes (we've also done this!).

(The above picture is actually of two ornaments made by my boys)

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Red Velvet Hot Chocolate is Delish!

So I think everyone knows by now that I'm a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf fan.  I'm also a red velvet cake/cup cake fan.  Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf has combined two of my favorite things for my new favorite winter favorite - the Red Velvet Hot Chocolate!  I had one for the first time today and it is sinfully delicious!

Have you tried it yet?

Also be sure to pick up one of the $1 holiday stickers for the Deck the Walls program to support The Help Group, the largest nonprofit organization in the US supporting children with autism and other special needs.  The program runs now through December 31st in over 200 Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf locations throughout California and the Western US.  100% of you donation goes to the organization.  Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf will also donate $1 from the Winter Dream Tea® and Holiday Blend Whole Bean Coffee retail products.  This will be the ninth years that Coffee Bean has participated in this program for The Help Group.

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Monday, November 29, 2010

Holiday Cookie Decorating Idea

I hope that everyone has been having a wonderful Thanksgiving week!  I took the time to "un-plug" a bit, but have a ton of fun posts ready for this next week!
_____
Do you still have Halloween candy left over?  We sure do but we've come up with a creative way to make use of the candy... as gingerbread cookie and gingerbread house decorations!

Here's a couple of our creations...












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Friday, November 19, 2010

Great Hostess Gifts for the Holidays!

Ack.  The holidays are here!  I still can't figure out where the time has gone!  Holiday parties are already filling up my calendar and I'm quickly realizing I need to get my hostess gifts organized.  I nice bottle of wine is almost always an appropriate gift during the holidays, but unfortunately for many of us, the sheer number of choices at the store is daunting.  I find that when I find a good wine I become very loyal to that and very rarely will buy a bottle (especially one as a gift) that I haven't at least tried somewhere first. 

Last week Fresh & Easy sent out three bottles to a few of us to try out on an online (Twitter) wine tasting party (you can read the dialogues here including my confession about my favorite red wine pairing).  I have to be completely honest, I'm not a white wine drinker or a fan of sparkling wine.  I always choose a glass of red, regardless of whether it paris well with the meal.  So I figured I'd have one glass of the Hilltown Chardonnay and the La Gioosa Prosecco Spumante and end up pouring the rest out.  Boy was I wrong.  Both were wonderful and are now on my list of wines for hostess gifts and to have around for the occasional glass.  Both are priced at less than $8 a bottle and are guaranteed to taste like a much much more expensive bottle of wine.  I really did enjoy the Castillo Rioja Crianza (also priced at under $7).  The flavors were amazing and also one I've already purchased another bottle of (I've actually added all three to my shopping list this week to have on hand).

All of these are exclusively available at Fresh & Easy.

La Gioiosa Prosecco Spumante is priced at under $7 (sparkling white)

Hilltown Chardonnay priced under $8

Castillo Rioja Crianza priced under $7 (Red wine)

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Disneyland Holiday - Worldless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesdays... 

The Holidays are here!  Check out this wreath I spotted on Main Street at Disneyland!
 

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner for Less than $20.

With Thanksgiving rapidly approaching I wanted to post this again this year (I posted it last year, but just last week I again purchased the Turkey at Fresh & Easy because they are offering the same deal!)
____
Yes, with a small bit of planning ahead it is very possible! I promise! I happened upon a deal last week that floored me… $0.37/pound for frozen Turkeys at Fresh & Easy. If you calculate that out, you can get a fifteen pound Turkey (plenty for a small family dinner) for $5.00! This is probably a good time to note that I bought one, then went back another day and bought a second Turkey for Christmas Dinner because the deal was too amazing to pass up. Since I’m not cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year, I’ll be making the traditional Thanksgiving dinner for our family of four the day after. I’ll post the actual recipes next week (including how to make my Mom’s world famous gravy!).

I wasn’t planning on purchasing everything so far in advance, but when I saw the deals and did the math in my head I knew it was a fantastic deal that wouldn’t necessarily be around for long! Below are items I actually purchased so I know the prices are 100% accurate. Don’t believe me? Cruise on over to the Fresh & Easy site and check out the prices for yourself!

Here’s the shopping list (including the prices at Fresh & Easy just to make it simple) for Thanksgiving dinner:

1 -15 pound Jennie O Frozen Turkey--------------- $5.07
Green Bean Casserole
French’s Fried Onions ----------------------------------$2.49
1 can – Cream of Mushroom Soup -----------------$.59
2 cans – Green Beans ----------------------------------$.69 x 2
Cranberry Sauce
1 can jellied cranberry sauce --------------------------$.99
Stuffing
1 Box Mrs. Cubbison’s Seasoned Dressing-----$1.49
Mashed Potatoes
48 oz. Golden Potatoes --------------------------------$3.28
Candied Yams/Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Sweet Potatoes (whole/fresh)-------------------------$2.99
                                                                              _________
                                                                              $18.28 total
(leaves extra for misc. ingredients most normally have on hand)

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Inviting Your Child’s Anger In - A guest post

A wonderful informative guest post by Fran Walfish, Psy.D.

It’s happened to all of us. Your child melts down in a huge fit of anger and you don’t know what to do. If it happens in public, on top of your frustration you feel embarrassed and humiliated. You could instinctively lash back in anger, collapse into tears, or temporarily abandon your child by walking away for a few moments. What few parents know how to do is turn the anger into a positive. But, I have good news. I can help.

Over the years I have seen many angry children in my office and have come up with a simple strategy that works. I call it 3-D Parenting. 3-D Parenting has three components: Discard the Defensive, Demonstrate Empathy with Words, and Directive Discipline with Boundaries. The main objective is for parents to become comfortable tolerating their child’s expression of direct anger.

Many parents find it hard to bear their kids powerful fury. But, staying connected during trying times creates stronger parent-child pathways and also requires tolerance. By employing these three key strategies, you will help your son or daughter stay open with you when they are filled with rage. 3-D Parenting also promotes respectful, friendly, courteous behavior in parents as examples, and in their children of any age. What more could you ask for?

So what are these three key strategies? I can best explain by telling you about a mom and her son that I treat in my office. At eight, Bobby is the oldest of three children. He is a very nice boy who continually sets his own emotional needs behind the needs of others. Also, as the oldest, his mother has higher expectations of him. Additionally, Bobby has a younger sibling with special needs and the youngest in this family just turned two.

When I first met Bobby I encountered a well-mannered, shy boy who found it hard to tell his mom anything critical, or to complain. He was angry because he felt he did not get enough of his mom’s attention; she was consumed with caring for the child with special needs and running after a toddler. While Bobby was not the type to have a meltdown, inside he really was one angry little boy who was on the brink of a huge explosion.

The good news is that Bobby’s mom, Gail, was pliable and open to coaching. Not all parents are. But Gail very much wanted to do the right thing and already felt her own guilt about not giving Bobby the same level of attention that she gave her other children. One of the first things Bobby said to Gail when we all sat down together was “I want some special time with you.”

I found it quite interesting that Gail’s initial response was to say, “But don’t you remember? We did that on Thursday.” Her response was an attempt to qualify in her mind and in Bobby’s eyes that she was a good mom, and it touches on the basic foundation for any parent: you must be self-aware. Being self-aware is a basic premise for parenting and I discuss this in depth in my book, The Self-Aware Parent (Palgrave).

The importance of self-awareness is this: If you are not aware of your internal thoughts and feelings as a parent, or of the specific buttons that trigger angry responses in you, any parenting model you try will backfire. So rather than thinking ahead and talking themself through angry times with the best interests of their child at the forefront of their mind, the unaware parent jumps to reactions imprinted into them by early life relationships with their own parents. This could include angry words in response to a child who screams, or tears of frustration when your child has a temper tantrum.

Gail was not yet a self-aware parent and her desire for validation showed this. Gail did not realize that Bobby was angry because he did not receive one-on-one attention every day. When I confronted her on this, Gail did not collapse into an emotional heap or abandon Bobby in a time out, but she did become defensive. Interestingly enough, discarding the defensive is the first of the three key steps in 3-D Parenting.

Discarding your defensive feelings and behavior creates an open environment from which you will parent. Most parents want to be liked (as well as loved) by their child, but as a parent, you should understand that your child will sometimes be angry at you––especially when you ask him to stop a behavior or do something he would rather not do. Claiming himself as a separate being with individual wants is a necessary part of your child’s development, and as you know, children sometimes do this with anger.

For many parents, acting without being defensive is a new way of functioning; it is a very different framework of belief. But it is important, because your child needs to feel accepted and embraced at all times, including when they feel and express their anger.

My first goal for you as a parent is for you to honestly examine how you act when your child is angry, and see if you have tendencies toward defensive behavior. Most of us do, myself included, and it is important to let that go. Steps two and three will give you better options to replace your defensiveness with.

Step two, demonstrating empathy with words, simply means narrating your child’s angry feelings back to them. It is a reflective listening and talking skill that allows you to explore your child’s anger with your eyes and ears, and then say it back with empathy.

For example, in the midst of a tantrum many parents refuse to accept their child’s opposition, and ignore it by turning away until the child is ready to behave. As a result, your child may think his or her feelings are not valid. Instead, acknowledge that you understand your child is upset by narrating verbally what your child is feeling. So rather than becoming defensive, you say with warmth, “I see you are angry with me, and I’m the kind of mom who really wants to hear about it right to my face. Tell me about why you are mad at me.”

I cannot stress how important the empathy part of this step is. For instance, with a young child you might say, “Mommy sees you are angry that you can’t have more play time with your red truck. You want more play time, but now it’s time for your bath and you got mad at Mommy. It’s hard to stop when you want more.” Being a container for your child’s anger will help him view you as a person he can confide in. It also establishes your place as a stable figure, one who will not attack, run, judge, blame, or collapse when the going gets rough. This is very important to convey to your child as he grows and faces larger issues.

Another key aspect here is that no resolution is required. All that is needed is that you hear your child. That in itself is reparative. All your son or daughter wants is to be understood and validated.

The final step is directive discipline with boundaries. Talking through a situation, as we did in step two, allows your child to feel heard. However, once he understands that you acknowledge and accept his displeasure, you must set the boundary and follow-through by taking action and directing your child toward his responsibility––and your command.

In this case, simply walk him into the bathroom and help him into the tub. It is not necessary to indulge him with other toys to compensate for his struggle in leaving the red truck behind. If your very young child becomes totally out of control, you can sit on the floor Indian style, with your child sitting down and wrapped in your arms in front of you, facing away, until the tantrum is over.

In my practice I work with many sophisticated parents just like you. But, what is most lacking is the lasting ingredient of motoring your child through his or her responsibility. You can talk all day long, but if you do not take the step of making sure that your child completes his responsibility, then you might as well talk to a brick wall.

Without directive discipline your angry child is likely to ignore you. He will think of you as a nice, but limp and ineffectual mom or dad. Instead, once you set a boundary, enforce it. Optimal parents also take a deep breath and think before speaking, so the boundary they set is appropriate and significant, but short in duration to motivate your child to keep trying.

It takes some practice, but you can learn to direct your child’s anger with clarity, kindness, empathy, and firmness. “I know how hard it is to leave your video to go take a bath so I’m going to help you. Here we go.”

In putting it all together it is good to remember a few things:

Your child is always allowed to be angry.

Be empathetic toward your child at how hard this moment is for him or her, for the angry feelings that are expressed are very real.
Follow through with praise for successfully completing this “hard-to-do” task.

It is possible that in praising your child, she might come back with something to the effect of “You made me.” Your response could then be, “Well, I helped you. And one day soon you’ll be able to do this all on your own.” These words give your child supportive confidence to work through her anger by herself.

Remember Bobby and Gail? I taught Gail these ideas to help them through their mild crisis. Specifically, I suggested that:

Gail encourage Bobby to complain to her directly. She needs to be self-aware enough to know that Bobby’s angry complaints are not attacks on her. Instead, they are situational and he needs to vent. “I know how frustrated you feel when you don’t understand your homework assignment. Why don’t you try your best and after snack time we’ll look at it together.”

Bobby should be able to go to his mom anytime and say he needs individual time with her. Gail then should follow up on that need, if not right then, at a designated and specified time that same day. “Mommy is busy making dinner right now, but after dinner you and I can walk around the block, hold hands, and be together while Daddy watches your brother and sister.”

Gail and Bobby should have a standing once a week date to go roller skating (an activity Bobby loves). Nothing should get in the way of this weekly activity and this should be alone time with just Gail and Bobby, and without his siblings.
Gail should ask Bobby at least once daily: “How are things for you?” Because Bobby accommodates and does not want to burden his mom, he does not share his angry feelings easily. He needs to be encouraged. Bobby cannot pummel his brother or sister as a way to vent his anger. If he does, play time is automatically over for Bobby for the next three hours. It is important to structure discipline as stinging, but short lived. That way your child will be motivated to try again to achieve.

Few of us were reared with parents who said, “Come on, give it to me. I want to hear what you’re really feeling,” but that is a lot of what today’s parenting should be about. Add empathetic narration and boundaries with follow-through, and most of your work is done.

I realize it is a lot to remember. But the more you practice it, the sooner acknowledging your child’s anger will become second nature to you; and the faster your family will become happy, connected, and strong. My empathetic narration to you is, “I know you can do it.”

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A frequent guest on top-tier TV programs, including NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams and KABC-TV in Los Angeles, and often appearing in major national publications such as Parents Magazine, Family Circle and Woman’s Day, Dr. Fran continues to lead the field with her expert insights and innovative strategies for parents, children and couples.

Her upcoming book, The Self-Aware Parent: Resolving Conflict and Building a Better Bond with Your Child from Palgrave Macmillan/St. Martin’s Press, is scheduled to launch December 7, 2010. Visit her on the Web at www.DrFranWalfish.com.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Amazing Razor Tricks

A fun picture I took at the Razor event.  Note how much air he has!

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Razors are the must have for childhood

We recently had the chance to attend an amazing 10th anniversary event for Razor.  You know, those things that are practically replacing bikes as the childhood staple...

Razor rides in our family have become a daily ritual, I really don't remember what life was like before my boys had them.  Ok, I do.  I remember the first day they got them, you'd think they were riding skateboards for the first time or something.  I was nervous beyond belief but quickly realized that the Razors were pretty safe.  It all came down to kids understanding that when they started to lose their balance or go to fast, the best thing to do is step off on to the ground!  Problem solved.  The big difference between the Razor and a skateboard is this "skateboard" had handle bars!  It didn't take long for the boys to get really good at using them and made it possible for us to go on much longer family walks around the neighborhood because they wouldn't tire out.

Here in South OC, many kids also ride their Razors to school because at least at our local school, there just isn't enough parking.  Riding Razors to schools has become the way many kids get to school.  (I'm sure there is a video somewhere on YouTube of me riding the Razors home in my business clothes after dropping the kids off at school.  Please don't track it down.).

I thought my kids were getting pretty good on their Razors until we had the chance to check out Team Razor doing tricks at the picnic.  It's truly amazing what these kids can do!


One of the things I didn't know was how many new kids of products Razor has been coming out with.  Talk about cool!  My kids fell in love with the Rip Rider 360.  Everyone tried to explain to me what it was and words really don't explain it.  So here's Brett showing off what I call the tricked out trike for big kids:
video
With products like the Sole Skate (like a skateboard but fits in a backpack), the Seige and many many more fun scooters and ride-ons, your family is sure to have hours and hours of fun together.

(* Psst... I'm going to be giving away a Razor product later this month... But I'd really like your opinions as to which product you'd like to win.  Head on over here and tell me which Razor product is your favorite!)

*I received a complimentary Razor product for attending the event, but the opinions expressed in this post are completely my own.

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Monday, November 8, 2010

Thanksgiving Dinner Recipes for Kids

Thanksgiving is a crazy time for all families and we are no exception!  Big family get togethers can be a time of chaos and many times the younger (but no longer babies) can feel left out eventhough they really want to contribute and help out.  By finding a couple easy and fun recipes, you can have the kids not just help out, but give them something to be proud of contributing to the family feast! 

Below are a couple super easy family friendly recipes that you can have kids assemble for Thanksgiving (you will need to supervise and be ready to assist) from Todd Adelman, Director of Nutritional Services for Block Institute, and co-author of the James Beard nominated book, Special Foods for Special Kids: Practical Solutions & Great Recipes for Children with Food Allergies.

We'll be trying these this year!

Stuffing
 (Yields four cups)

Ingredients:
16 slices bread, toasted with crust removed
½ cup celery, finely diced
¼ cup onion, finely diced
1 Tbsp. margarine
2 medium apples, grated
2 tsp. parsley flakes
1 tsp. dried thyme
½ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. white pepper
½ cup chicken stock

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Cut bread into cubes & set aside in large bowl.
  • Sauté celery & onion in margarine until soft.
  • Add celery mixture & remaining ingredients to bread cubes.
  • Toss until liquid is absorbed.
  • Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
  • Serve.
Serving suggestion: Add your favorite combination of dried fruit, nuts, etc.
Dairy Allergy: Use milk-free bread & milk-free margarine.
Gluten Allergy: Use gluten-free bread.
Egg Allergy: No substitutions needed.

Sweet Potato Boats
 (Yields 16 “boats”)

Ingredients:
8 medium sweet potatoes
2 apples, peeled & cored
¼ cup orange juice
½ tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. margarine
½ tsp. salt
1 egg
16 marshmallows

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Slice potatoes in half, lengthwise.
  • Cut small slit in center of potato.
  • Bake for 45 minutes or until tender when pierced with knife.
  • Scoop out pulp of sweet potatoes being careful to leave the skin intact.
  • Add salt to pulp & set aside.
  • Cut apples into thin slices.
  • Toss apples in orange juice & add cinnamon.
  • Sauté apple mixture in margarine over medium heat, stirring constantly until apples are soft & liquid is absorbed.
  • Add apple mixture to sweet potato pulp & process (or mash) until smooth.
  • Beat egg into mixture.
  • Fill potato shells to rim.
  • Bake on foil lined cookie sheets at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.
  • Slice marshmallows in half.
  • Top each potato half with 2 pieces of marshmallow.
  • Broil until golden brown.
Serve immediately.

Milk allergy: Use milk-free margarine.
Gluten allergy: No substitute needed.
Egg allergy: Substitute 1 ½ tsp. egg replacer mixed with 2 Tbsp. of water for egg. Use egg-free marshmallows.

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

So thankful that parent teacher conferences are over!

Brett and I
I'm so relieved to say we are done with parent teacher conferences!  This year has brought a role reversal for my boys.  In past years it has always been Kyle's parent teacher conference that had me sweating bullets.  Brett has always been my mellow easy going kid and up until this year I was never apprehensive in the slightest about his conferences.  I'm very lucky to have two absolutely wonderful children with hearts of gold, but I also know my boys aren't perfect!  My boys are also like night and day, just ask their teachers.   I guess I just never expected the night and day to flip!

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Benchmark for a good kids birthday party?

Instead of Wordless Wednesday I thought we'd try video Wednesday.  Check out this video from my youngest son's recent birthday party over at Wowzville in Laguna Hills, CA.  I think it's pretty funny that I now use the amount of screaming fun as a benchmark for a good kids birthday party.  By all accounts, this one was a ton of fun... What do you think?

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Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween has taken on a new meaning in our family...

We crossed an important milestone in our household this Halloween.  No longer is trick or treating for hours on end the activity of choice for my boys.

As Halloween approached I just had this feeling that the same excitement level wasn't there.  A couple of nights before, we took a family vote and my husband was shocked at the result (me... not so shocked), the kids voted to spend one hour trick or treating around the neighborhood and to spend the rest of the evening at home watching Ghost Hunters Live event on the Sci Fi channel (thanks to Ghost Hunters, the Flix heat vision camera in now on the Christmas Wish lists!). 

We stocked up on homemade fresh pop corn and chips and settled in for the night after our one hour of trick or treating.  Everyone in the house was content.

And by the way we found that Kit Kat bars we the most common handout of the night around our neighborhood, how about yours?

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Friday, October 29, 2010

It's Official...

It's official!  I'm so excited to announce that I'm now one of the Mommy Bloggers over at ParentingOC.com!  I have two posts up so far (here and here), so pop on over and say "Hi" at Slice of Life in OC.

*I'll still be keeping this blog up and as active as always, but I'll be doing the occasional cross post when it makes sense.  :)

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Yeah... I'm one of those

Yep. I'm one of  "those Moms" who wishes I could wrap my son in bubble wrap ... I settled for every form of safety gear I could find...



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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tips on How To Include Your Dog this Halloween - A guest post


Enjoy this fun guest post written by Stacy Braverman, Founder of BNYdogs.com 
(Note: the image below is actually my dog and I reserve all rights to the image.)

Tips on How To Include Your Dog this Halloween
 Have you bought enough doggie biscuits to give out to trick or treaters this Halloween? That’s right, doggie biscuits. But whatever you do, don't give them to the kids – it may anger some parents in the neighborhood! You should be prepared, however, to have some biscuits for those four-footed ghost and goblins that may bark at your door this Halloween.

We mustn't leave out our pets when celebrating special occasions – and Halloween is no exception. Ever noticed the glare and stare from Fido when everyone is getting dressed up for Halloween, laughing, having a wonderful time – and he's left out just because he's a dog?

Bitch New York (www.bnydogs.com) has one thing on their minds -- our doggie loved ones – and they have created fun ways to involve your pet in every special occasion.

Here are just a few suggestions from Bitch New York to make this Halloween season the best ever:

Watch Fido's eyes light up when you put on the the latest tiger costume. WARNING: don't be surprised if you notice some new found courage or larger than life roar while in costume.

Can you say food? One of the most popular shows on cable TV these days is The Food Network. I love the competitive nature of the male chefs; the warm personality of the female chefs. This year you can dress up your doggie after your favorite Food Network personality! Don't tell Paula Dean, but doesn't our beautiful doggie chef resemble her a bit?

Sports are a favorite past time for people and doggies too! Halloween wouldn't be the same without a football costume... Check out our cool costume for Fido. If you have teenage boys, they might throw the dog though, so our football costume would probably be a safer choice while still keeping with the football spirit.

We are a country of proud Americans and that is demonstrated by millions across this great country every day. Well, this may be news to you, but our doggies are proud Americans too and they want to support this great nation this Halloween by dressing up in her colors. Check out our Uncle Sam Costume for Fido and Lady too... They will look great this Halloween and will walk tall and proud in their patriotic costumes.

Don't forget to stock up on special doggie treats this Halloween Season... Don't worry, if you have left-overs, all doggie treats will be gone in no time and Fido will love you for it!

If sweets are not an option for your pet, be sure to spoil him with an unforgettable Halloween dinner. Check out our scrumptious meals they will remember until next Halloween: Chicken and Fried Rice, Organic Bison or a Veg to Bowl for our vegetarian friends - we aim to please all of our doggy appetites.

By the way, if you haven't started brushing your doggie’s teeth, this Halloween would be a great time start. Clean teeth and fresh breath are essential for your doggie’s love life and a welcome response from you with all those wet kisses he loves to give you! Regular oral hygiene will ensure your doggie’s teeth are healthy, fresh and white.

What a great Halloween it's going to be for you and your pet this year! Make sure to take lots of pictures of your doggie in costume - there will be many Halloween memories to share together for many years to come and Bitch New York wants to put a few of our best doggies in costume in the spot light! All you need to do is send in your pics and we're going to pick the top three doggies to profile in a story and give him or her their 30 seconds of fame. The top three winners will also be able to pick a gift of their choice from our doggie accessory store. Good luck to all and we hope this year will be the best Halloween ever for you and your beloved companion.

Bitch New York is proud to make contributions to benefit the welfare of animals. We regularly donate merchandise and proceeds to charitable events that surround the animal community. Click Here if would like to read more about our charity work or if you would like to donate something to the cause.

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Wendy's Pick 2 Salads are Delish!

Last week I had the chance to meet up with some of my favorite OC and LA bloggers at the Wendy's Pick 2 launch lunch.  As I know many Moms do, I try to order a salad most of the time when we are at a fast food restaurant for a number of reasons.  One reason is the reduced calorie count and the other is the nutritional benefit, but I think people are shocked when they realize that many of the salads at fast food restaurants are neither.  Many are loaded with inexpensive and nutrient deficient ice berg lettuce and are loaded with high calorie fillers to enhance the taste appeal.

I was more than thrilled to see and taste the new Wendy's salads because they are exactly what I've been looking for in a fast food salad!  They are made with nutritious items like cranberries, roasted pecans, apple slices and are accompanied by super yummy less calorie dense dressings like the pomegranate vinaigrette I had.  I had the Apple Pecan 1/2 size Salad with Vinaigrette Dressing and I must say it was SUPER delicious and totally filling.  Paired with a water bottle it was less than $6 and makes for a perfect salad on the go.   I also love the fact that the salad had less than 300 calories!

Other super yummy salad offerings are the new BLT Cobb salad (hearty mix of crisp Applewood Smoked Bacon, chopped egg, real blue cheese crumbles, grilled chicken and creamy Avocado Ranch dressing), the Baja Salad (rich and meaty chili with fresh pico de gallo, guacamole, tortilla strips and creamy Red Jalapeño dressing), or the Spicy Chicken Caesar Salad (Taste our warm spicy chicken with shaved Asiago cheese, grape tomatoes and Lemon Caesar dressing).  Wendy's new Pick 2 menu allows you to pick two items from their Pick 2 menu all for $4.99 and that give you 28 different combinations!  It makes a healthy lunch on the go affordable.

Sound delicious?  Be sure to head over to the OCMomActivities Facebook page for a fun Facebook only giveaway later today!

*Photos above are used with permission.  About the Photographer: Based in Long Beach, Kristin Eldridge photographs babies, children and their families in the OC and LA.  She loves making art out of the everyday moments of childhood.  Kristin's website features a variety of unique locations and her blog keeps you informed about special promotions and events.

** This post is part of a compensated campaign with Wendy's, but the opinions expressed are 100% genuine.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Why I LOVE rainy Wednesdays...

And this is why I love rainy Wednesdays during the school year at Disneyland... The ride wait times are hard to beat!




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Halloween Time at Disneyland - Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday...
This just makes me smile!

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Facebook Halloween Villain App from Disney!

Halloween is almost here and I thought I'd share this fun Facebook Application directly from Disney:

Turn yourself into a villain

Disneyland -> http://apps.facebook.com/disney-villainize-dl/entries/new

DisneyWorld -> http://apps.facebook.com/disney-villainize-dw/entries/new

1. Select favorite Disney villain and scene
2. Add a photo (either from FB or uploaded)
3. Position the photo to fit in the image
4. Share your “villainized” self with friends and family

Be sure to comment on the OCMomActivities Facebook fan page here so we can all see your Disney Villain photo!

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Bug Invasion at Discovery Science Museum

Being a Mom of two bug loving little boys, I've been pretty lucky to not have more of them end up in the house!

We recently had the chance to head over to a special preview at the Bug Invasion exhibit at the Discovery Science Museum in Santa Ana to continue the trend of keeping the bugs on the other side of my front door!  The boys could have explored for hours because there are surprises around every corner.

From hands on exhibits with real live bugs that kids can hold (on the weekends)...
to giant displays that really make you feel like you've been shrunk...

to robotic bugs you can control...

to a 3D maze...
then be sure to check out the extensive collection of butterflies and other insects!

On October 30th and 31st the Discovery Science Museum will be hosting fun special events including pumpkin painting, costume parades and trick or treating at the exhibits.  These are included with the your admission and as a bonus you'll receive a free ride coupon for The Pumpkin Factory located next door a the Main Place Mall in Santa Ana. 
For more information head on over here.

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A NASCAR themed cake?

You may remember the really cool Space Themed cake we got for my son's birthday a few months ago from Divine Desserts in Laguna Niguel.  So as we were planning the party for my other son, there wasn't a question of where we were going to get the cake from!  All it came down to was what theme the party was going to be so we could figure out what type of cake to get.  He decided he wanted to have his party in the Nascar room at Wowzville (I'll be posting about that adventure of a night later this week!). 

We decided to go with a cake in the shape of a steering wheel and the rest is history... without a doubt the cake was super cool and I promise it tasted just as yummy as it looks!

Thanks Divine Desserts for another AMAZING cake!

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bug Invasion at Discovery Science Museum - Coupon!


We had an amazing time checking out the Bug Invasion Exhibit the Discovery Science Museum the other day (watch for a post about the exhibit later this week) and I'm so excited to share this coupon for admission with everyone (just copy, paste and print it out next time you go). I'm also going to be starting a giveaway for tickets to the Discovery Science Museum and the Pumpkin Factory (next door in the Main Place Mall parking lot) later today on Facebook only, so be sure you're a fan of OCMomActivities!

Also, the more fans and participation we have, the more giveaways I'll run... so tell everyone you know!

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Winner of the Organic Meat!

And the winner of the Rocky Mountain Organic Ground Beef Pack is:


~Kristen~ The DVC MomOctober 7, 2010 6:16 AM  

My last tweet for meat! @DVCMom
http://twitter.com/#!/DVCMom/status/26647204436

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Monday, October 11, 2010

October is National Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month!

(A guest post from Holly Morrell, Founder/Executive Director of Heartfelt Cardiac Projects.  You can find more information about her here.)



Sadly, that isn't the only reason we are hearing of this nation's number killer in the news. Another three tragic losses have been reported in the local media recently including a college wrestler, a middle school student, and a high school teacher/coach. More heartbreaking, these very well might have been preventable tragedies.


Orange County residents have the opportunity to safeguard their loves ones from sudden cardiac arrest on Oct. 23rd and Nov. 6th in Laguna Beach. Heartfelt Cardiac Projects, an OC based nonprofit organization is offering $1,500 worth of comprehensive cardiac evaluation for a tax deductible donation of $85 per person. Heartfelt is dedicated to saving lives from sudden cardiac death through early detection, education, and increased public awareness.


This type of cardiac testing is typically not covered by insurance and can create an enormous financial burden for families. You can have your loves ones screened for a small donation, making peace of mind both obtainable and affordable.


Don't let your loved one become a statistic, call for your screening appointment(s) today! Call the Sport Performance Institute to schedule appointments: 949. 464.0860.


For more information go here.


You can view the flyer online here:


Heartfelt protected 5 lives JUST in the past 3 months via our screening program, identifying 3 kids and 2 adults with potentially life-threatening cardiac conditions. PLEASE PROTECT YOUR LOVED ONES!

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Friday, October 8, 2010

A Christmas Tradition - The Rockettes!

As a child I heard countless stories of Radio City Music Hall.  My Mom grew up in New York City and throughout my childhood my Mom regaled the countless stories.  One of the Christmas Season traditions she had as a child was going to see the Rockette's at Radio City Music Hall.

I'm so excited to announce that the Rockette's will be bringing the Christmas Spectacular to Southern California this year with stops at the Honda Center in Anaheim (December 6-7, 2010) and Nokia Theater L.A. Live (December 9-12, 2010) in addition to a total of 25 cities (including stops in San Diego, Wisconsin, Portland, Salt Lake City and Denver).

One of the unique aspects to this production is that there will be an LED screen that will help to immerse the audience in the landscapes and scenes.  Of course you'll be able to see some of the favorites like "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers", "Living Nativity" and "Let Christmas Shine".

For tickets, information and more you can go here or call 800.745.3000

I just love the Holidays!

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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Comedy Night at Back Bay Bistro, Newport Dunes

Back Bay Bistro at the Newport Dunes Resort is hosting a night of comedians, specialty drinks and a special late night menu this Friday, October 8, 2010.   It's a great way to end a long stressful week.  And us parents never have stress, right?

Comedians Danny Villalpando and Debbie Lockhart will be there to provide endless laughs for the crowd. 

A little bit about the comedians:
As a 16-year comedic veteran, Villalpando has taken his reality-based comedy across the world and back again performing for USO troops as a member of Comics on Duty.  His credits also include stints on NBC’s “Friday Night” as well as live stand-up work on Comedy Central.

Lockhart’s career took off when she was showcased at the world-famous Hollywood Improv. Since then, she has performed her unique, quirky, fun act for college campuses, casinos and troops around the world thanks to her involvement in Armed Forces Entertainment.
For reservations for this fun evening call 949.729.1144 or go here for more information about the Newport Dunes Resort in Newport Beach.  There is a cover charge of $5 for the evening.

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