Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Loving the Sunset - Wordless Wednesday

Haven't done a Wordless Wednesday in awhile... but I wanted to share this gorgeous sunset picture the other day...


Monday, September 26, 2011

Mickey's Halloween Party - Are you going?

I know, I say it every year about this time, but I just absolutely LOVE this time of year.  To me the Halloween season kicks off my favorite time of year.  Yes, I love the summers here in Southern California, but there is just something about the chill in the air and fun that we are in for in the coming months.  Because we only have about two seasons here in Southern California, I like many turn to the subtle other cue's that the seasons are turning.  Disneyland is a magical place for our family and spending this time of year at Disneyland has built so many lasting wonderful memories for us.

A few years ago Disneyland started doing the Halloween Trick or Treating events which started at California Adventure and last year they transitioned to having Mickey's Halloween Party at Disneyland. It is so much fun for ALL ages, not just the little kids.  There are dance parties, crazy candy trick or treat stations (where you walkout with so much candy you can barely carry any more!) and a very special fireworks show.  Don't forget the Ghost Galaxy (aka Space Mountain with a twist) and the Halloween decked out Haunted Mansion.  Entrance requires a special event ticket (even if you are a passholder).  It's a great deal for non-passholders because you get admission in to the park for 3 hours before the event.  To find more out about tickets, dates, etc. you can go here.  Get your tickets now because it only runs during the month of October (except for the first day September 30th).

For past posts about Mickey's Trick or Treat fun you can read up here and here.  I'll post pictures from this years event once we go.      8:o)

Happy Trick or Treating!


Sunday, September 25, 2011

My Dinner and School Lunch Secret Weapon

This last week has been like a Perfect Storm around here.  My husband was out of the country all week on a business trip, I needed to work a 50 hour work week, I was sick and both my kids traded off being sick.  To say that I was a little overwhelmed would be a bit of an understatement.

Getting a decent meal in for the kids as well as packing a decent/healthy school lunch is challenging when you can barely think straight.  One of my fall backs is Subway sandwiches.  We'll go and buy foot long sandwiches and the kids will eat half for dinner.  The other half is perfect for the main portion in their lunches the next day.  Add a snack, water bottle and maybe a mandarin orange or apple slices and you have the perfect lunch.  A huge bonus is the kids LOVE having the sandwiches for lunch the next day - it sure beats PB & J!

So thanks Subway for helping me my sanity last week when I didn't have the extra brain power or energy to make dinner and school lunches!


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Preparing for Cold and Flu Season - So important!

I dread Cold & Flu season.  We spend a lot of time at Disneyland and are exposed to just about everything going around.  Recently I participated in a shop at Walgreens to prepare for Cold & Flu Season.  It all began with a stop at my own medicine cabinet to check for expired labels.  I was shocked!  It was no where as bad as I thought it was!  I actually didn't have a single expired medication (yay me!).  Last year was a rough one and we went through a lot of Cold and Flu medicines, so I was constantly having to replenish our supplies.  I also don't buy the large sizes (even though they are a value).  I do that intentionally because then the chances of it aging and expiring in our medicine cabinet is far lower.

To prepare for Cold & Flu season this year I took a proactive approach instead of reactive.  I stocked up on vitamins, hand sanitizer, chapstick, tissues, cough drops, Robitussin, vaporizing chest rub, Mucinex and a few other miscellaneous items (be sure to see the ThisMoment photo collage below showing all the products I chose to stock up on, if the image doesn't show below you can go here). 

I always keep a stockpile of hand sanitizer around to send with the kids when they go to school.  They are great about using it before they eat lunch and I know that cuts down on the amount of sicknesses they get.

Brett, my oldest isn't good about blowing his nose - so moisturizing tissues are a must or his nose gets so raw and irritated.  The Chapstick is also critical for when you are breathing through your nose because I always get such chapped lips!

This shop couldn't have come at a better time for us as the day after doing the shop my oldest started to complain about a sore throat.  I doubled up on his vitamins immediately, gave him a handful of the yummy Vitamin C citrus flavored drops and gave him cough medicine for his sore scratchy throat.  Score one for Mom!

I've learned my lesson, every year from here on out, I'll think of Back to School time as medicine cabinet cleaning and prepping time.  I can't tell you how great it was to know when my son started feeling sick today that I had everything he needed, right down to the vaporizing chest rub (which I will sometimes just dab on their nose) to help clear out the sinuses and help him get to sleep.  And the peace of mind knowing that I didn't even have to worry about whether those medicines had expired over the summer was a great feeling as a Mom!

When was the last time you cleaned out your medicine cabinet?  (Hint: If you can't remember... you are overdue!!!)

Note: This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias but all of the purchases and opinions are 100% my own and were not influenced in any way.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Clif Kids ZBars are a lifesaver for moms!

My son Kyle seems to always be snacking.  He's famous for "starving" just an hour or two after eating a meal and it always seems to be at the worst time.  I can't even count how many times he's declared he was starving while we were in line for a ride at Disneyland or in the car on the way somewhere.  I learned a few years ago that I had to keep snacks in my purse for him or the day could spiral downhill - fast!  It makes me laugh because he eats so much each day but spreads it out through the day and must have a fantastic metabolism because he is definitely slender.  Okay ... so the fact that he is constantly on the go might have something to do with it...

Granola bars are great, but there isn't much nutrition in most of them.  A few years ago another mother turned me on to the Clif Bars - ZBars made for kids.  Kyle loves them and they have also become a staple addition to his school lunches.  I'm always trying to sneak added nutrition in to everything I can, so the ZBars have been a great addition.

Recently Clif Bar sent me samples of the Clif Kid ZBar Crispy.  Kyle absolutely loves them and now asks to have them in his school lunches too.  Each bar has 110 calories, is low in sugar and is made with organic ingredients.  I unfortunately am not able to taste them to give you my opinion because they have oats in them (and yeah... that pesky oat allergy strikes again!). 

Clif Kid ZBar Crispy come in three yummy flavors - Chocolate Chip, Chocolate and Peanut Butter flavors - all ones that kids love!

Thanks Clif Bar for creating another super yummy and healthy snack bar for my kids!

*Note I recieved products to facilitate the writing of this post.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

School Lunch Ideas

Kids are back to school and it's time to get back in to the lunch groove!  I used to find packing school lunches to be a challenge.   I've had to get creative over the years because until recently Kyle (my youngest) hasn't been interested in having sandwiches in his lunch and Brett (my oldest) has never been a fan of sandwiches.  Packing healthy, nutritious lunches has taken a lot of creative thinking on my part, but I finally feel like I've gotten the hang of it.  Ok... so the boys coming home frequently saying the other kids were jealous of their yummy lunches was also a big clue I was on the right path!

One of my favorite "tricks" for their lunches is to pack left overs from dinner the night before.  For example tonight I made chicken breasts in the slow cooker, with rice and salad on the side.  The boys LOVED the dinner, so I have these fantastic split dish containers that I portioned out some of the left over rice.  Add a mandarin orange, granola bar and yogurt cup and the kids have a super easy, nutritious and filling lunch that you can be proud of!  To save time I portion out the containers as we are cleaning up from dinner so it saves me tons of time when I'm getting their lunches packed up. 

The widespread use of re-usable lunch totes has made it easier than ever to send kids with containers  that you know won't be thrown away.  I make use of those to the fullest!  I've sent the kids with taco leftovers, spaghetti left overs, slider hamburgers (made at home so I know what is in them!), bruschetta and more. 

Also don't forget one of these super cute kids re-usable ice packs to keep yogurts and other goodies cold!

I'll share some of our favorite packed lunches over the next few weeks and would love to hear (and feature!) some of your lunches (email me OCMomActivities at gmail dot com). 


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Marie Callender's Lasagna is Nutritious, Delicious and SO Easy!

Being a mom and working full time is tough.  I'm very fortunate to be able to work from home full time, but it doesn't really change how hard it is to keep on top of everything.  One of my weaknesses is dinners.  I've found that I have to plan out the meals for the week ahead of time (I normally do my weekly grocery shops on Sundays).  If I don't, I find that we are spending a lot more money on take out and getting a lot less nutritious meals.  But after a long day of work, I'm frequently running out of steam and brain power to get something organized.  If I don't already have dinner planned out I'm embarrassed to admit I fall back on take-out.

I recently had the chance to try out the Marie Callender's frozen lasagna.  Oh my goodness, it was beyond delicious.  We tried the Three Meat Four Cheese Lasagna.  The kids loved it and it was the perfect size four our family. 

Reading the ingredients was refreshing - I could pronounce everything and was very impressed with the use of real and fresh ingredients.  There wasn't anything in the ingredients that made me cringe! Every single ingredient was something I was happy to feed my family and I can't tell you how comforting that is as a mom.  I have a lot of guilt about the meals sometimes!  But this was definitely a frozen dinner that was very close to one I would have made on my own and it takes far less time.  A huge bonus is that it is very affordable and actually cooks a lot faster than the other frozen lasagnas I have bought in the past (this one only took 60 minutes in the oven).  Reading the nutrient content was also fun - I was thrilled to see so many vitamins and other nutrients in the lasagna - making it clear that real ingredients were used.

I paired it with a fresh baked loaf of bread (I suggest a par baked or one of the other varieties).  I baked it alongside the lasagna.  I was out gardening while the nutritious and delicious dinner cooked.  Love that!  Keeping several of the Marie Callender's family sized frozen entrees in the freezer is going to be a must in our house for those nights when I realize I don't have a dinner planned for the night and I just don't have the energy to cook after a long day!

*Note:  This is a part of a compensated campaign through TheMotherhood and Marie Callender's.  But note that the opinions are 100% honest and this is definitely a product I will happily be purchasing again for my family.


In Search of a Praying Mantis...

We spent the day at the San Diego Zoo.  Kyle (my youngest) has been begging us to get a praying mantis as a pet, so the entire day he was obsessed with searching to find a regular (not one of the exotic varieties) of the praying mantis.  We came home after the long (but super fun) day to find this hanging out in our front yard.  Yes, you guessed it!  The very praying mantis he had spent all day trying to find. 

I'm sure there is a life lesson in this one somewhere...

Help me out... anyone else had a preying mantis as a pet?  Any pros or cons you'd want to share?  I really have no interest in another pet, but I've kind of already agreed to it...

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