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Carden Hall Offers Fun and Educational Summer Camps

Posted by on May 20, 2016 in Camp, Family | 0 comments

Sponsored Are you looking for a summer camp for your child that is fun, while helps keep those academic skills sharp? Carden Hall has the perfect summer camp line up with a wide range of subjects, including science, technology, math, reading, language arts, sports, arts and crafts. Summer camp programs are led by experienced instructors who have a passion for education, and offer innovative, hands-on activities for children grades pre-kindergarten to eighth grade. SESSION I June 20-July 1 Art Camp Join Mrs. Ward and Mrs. Farman for a fun and creative experience this summer. Students in grades JP-5 will enjoy making projects and crafts using a variety of materials. It is sure to be a great time; don’t miss out! Limited to 20 students. Music Camp Give My Regards to Broadway This camp is open to students in grades...

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Carden Hall Lives Up to High-Quality Learning

Posted by on Feb 25, 2016 in Education, Family, Parenting | 0 comments

Sponsored Are you looking for a school that explains the ‘why’ behind learning? Or do you want a school that truly understands your family values? How about a school that encourages independence, community, and respect as top priorities? After being in and out of public and private schools for several years, parents Victor and Rebecca Parrott landed on a school that met their family’s educational criteria—Carden Hall in Newport Beach. Carden Hall is small private school that serves pre-kindergarten to eighth grade. With a 50-year history in Orange County, it prides itself in providing premier education and fostering a love of learning through the mind, body and spirit of young children. For the Parrott Family, who have three children ages 12, 10 and six, Carden Hall exceeded their long list of educational requirements, which include: Community “We love that...

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3 Tips to Prevent Holiday Overeating

Posted by on Dec 13, 2015 in Christmas, Family, Health, Holiday, Parenting | 0 comments

Besides virtuous thoughts of goodwill and good cheer that are imperatives during the holidays, there is, arguably, an even more overwhelming focus this time of year…food. Our holiday meals are perfected with each detail and trim from the succulent meats, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, bread rolls, green beans—and don’t forget the pie. For me, though, the holiday season can also be a downward spiral of overeating. I decided to check with my Weight Watchers Leader Susan Reese in Laguna Niguel for some tips to help prevent the frenzy of holiday overeating: 1. Take Some ‘Me Time.’ Take time to care for yourself in ways other than eating. Take a walk, bubble bath, or read a book. 2. Stay Nourished Healthy Fruits and Vegetables Before Eating. Fruits and vegetables slow down over eating, and give important macro and micro-nutrients....

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2015 OC Holiday Boat Parade Guide

Posted by on Dec 7, 2015 in Christmas, Events, Featured, Holiday | 0 comments

The mesmerizing lights reflect on the water’s glow under the cascading light of the moon. I’m referring, of course, to Southern California’s treasured tradition of holiday boat parades. Don’t miss some of the most magical Orange County boat parades this season… Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade “Ring of Lights” December 16-20, 2015 6:30 p.m.-9:00 p.m. Newport Beach/Newport Bay (949) 729-4400 NP Boat Parade Tip: There is parking available in all City Parking lots. Street parking along the parade route is also available. Leave plenty of time for parking, and for those dining on the waterfront, make reservations in advance for dinner and a key viewing spot. Free to the public, beautiful multi-million dollar yachts, kayaks, canoes and other small boats will light up the harbor as a spectacular array of holiday lights and music fill the air at the Newport Beach...

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Five Trick-or-Treating Safety Tips

Posted by on Oct 30, 2015 in Halloween, Holiday | 0 comments

It’s that time of year when our bellies fill with candy, creepy costumes are adorned, and haunted houses are the norm. However, with all the ghoulish giddiness of the holiday, it’s easy to forget the importance of keeping everybody safe. Be sure to follow these pointers when it comes to trick-or-treating: Go in Groups. Kids should not trick or treat alone. Walk in groups and always have a trusted adult tag along to supervise (depending on the age, of course). Glow With a Light. It’s a good idea to have at least one, if not more, flashlights, glow wear/sticks to help kids see when hitting up the neighbors. Go Slow on the Sidewalk. To prevent an accident, encourage kids to walk, not run—on sidewalks—and look both ways. According to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, “If there are no sidewalks,...

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Family Fitness Fun With PlayYourCourt

Posted by on Oct 26, 2015 in Family, Fitness, Health | 0 comments

We attended a complimentary class I’m not a natural athlete…believe it or not. Wasn’t too skilled at soccer, softball, or basketball like most of my friends growing up. I had longed to pick up a sport of some kind. Then one day during a high school P.E. class, I realized there was a sport I really enjoyed, and I was kind of good at: tennis. My relationship with the racquet and the little yellow ball continued to grow throughout my teen and adult life. Even my football-sized husband, and I started playing tennis together. And then something happened…kids. The thought of bringing my delicate little baby in a giant stroller or sling to the court created overwhelming anxiety with visions of the ball smacking my little one in the forehead. I gently stored our old racquets under the bed....

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Tips For Keeping Your Kid Car Tidy (Giveaway)

Posted by on Sep 3, 2015 in Autos, Family, Giveaways, Hot Topics | 4 comments

Pre-kids my vehicle was, frankly, immaculate. There would be an occasional leftover coffee cup or bottled water in the drink holder, and some dry cleaning hanging in the backseat. But now, I’ve fallen into the abyss that I swore I would never enter: the dirty kid car. The smells emitted from the backseat from my once well-maintained car have been replaced with a mix of sweat, dirt and Cherrios. The ground crumbs and spilled juice box stains have taken a toll on my aging SUV. I decided to do something, or, well, at least call someone to help steer me in the right direction. I called the professionals at the All Hands Car Wash in Aliso Viejo. Manager Ricardo Marquez offered me these helpful tips: Protect. Cover the interior of your vehicle as much as possible. This includes floor...

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Top OC Splash Pads

Posted by on Aug 11, 2015 in Holiday, Summer | 1 comment

With summer officially here, splash pads are a part of our daily “fun” agenda. So, when your family is looking to cool off, have fun – without breaking the bank, here are some splash pad favorites. Sigler Park Splash Pad 7200 Plaza Street Westminster, CA 92683 714-895-2860 www.westminster-ca.gov These non-stop re-circulated water fountains will be sure to delight your children on those blistering hot days. Bright colors and delightful characters make this park a must visit for summer fun. This park also has a playground for young and older kids. Open with limited hours May 23 – September 27. Open daily June 22 – September 27. Regular water play hours are 12:00 – 5:00 p.m. On July 22 hours will be limited to 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. Pioneer Park 10250 Pioneer Rd Tustin, CA 92782 714-573-3000 www.tustinca.org Due to the drought,...

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Summer Swimming and Safety at Evolution Swim Academy

Posted by on Jun 17, 2015 in Camp, Family, Featured, Summer | 0 comments

Sponsored Swimming is serious business to Felipe Delgado. As founder of Evolution Swim Academy in Mission Viejo, Delgado has not only dedicated his life to swimming as a two-time Olympian, but he is committed to drowning prevention and water safety for children and adults. “We currently have four seasonal locations where we operate our business. Our partnerships with the Ladera Ranch community, Nellie Gail Ranch community, Rancho Mission Viejo community and the Renaissance ClubSport are very important because through our partnerships, we promote drowning prevention,” explains Delgado. In 2003, he hung up his Olympic goggles to work in the corporate world for several years. As a husband and father of three children, he returned to his first love of swim to establish Evolution Swim Academy in 2005. Flagship Mission Viejo Facility Opens Most recently, Evolution Swim Academy christened its...

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Super Fit Mom Offers Tips to Beat Postpartum Weight Gain

Posted by on Jun 14, 2015 in Family, Fitness, OC Mom Spotlight | 0 comments

You are all too familiar with the dreaded phrase frustratingly whispered amongst mommies around the world (cue: Jaws theme song): postpartum weight gain. Instead of that tight waist, there’s now an extra layer of fat that reminds you of a small baby whale. Your thighs also seem to have expanded much like that of the Pillsbury Doughboy. Let’s not forget about the shoe size. The previous, normal shoe size has now reached an epic size known only to Amazon women. Just like your little purses have been replaced by larger tote-styled bags, those cute little dresses have also been traded in for stretchy yoga pants and other “active wear.” And this, my dear mom friends is the best you can hope for, besides, maybe getting a solid four hours of sleep. But perhaps there’s an inkling of hope for those...

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Top Ten OC Boot Camps  

Posted by on Jun 10, 2015 in Family, Health | 1 comment

With summer just around the corner, outdoor and indoor workouts are heating up in Orange County. For those boot camp newbies, you can expect to spend an hour doing some form of cardiovascular exercise, strength and/or endurance training, and stretching, yoga or pilates. However, what should you look for in a boot camp? The most effective boot camps offer a mix of motivational coaches, supportive peer communities, and tips and guidance on good nutrition. In the end, though, not all exercise boot camps are the same. Most experts recommend trying a few different programs in order to determine the best fit for your fitness level and goals. So, if you’re looking to jumpstart that beach bod, or just shed a few pounds, here are a few top Orange County Boot Camps: Crossfit Ethos 23001 Del Lago Drive Laguna Hills,...

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Pacific Coast Center for the Arts: Your One-Stop Neighborhood Arts Complex

Posted by on Jun 8, 2015 in Camp, Family, Featured, Giveaways | 1 comment

Where can you take ballet, Pilates, piano and voice lessons, a painting class, and record a song? The answer lies behind the doors of the largest Arts center in Orange County: the Pacific Coast Center for the Arts (PCCA). Originally founded as Pacific Coast Academy of Dance (PCAD) in 2002, PCAD moved its studio from San Clemente to a state-of-the art 20,000 square foot facility on a quiet cul-de-sac in Mission Viejo. “Our expansion allowed us to support dancers of all levels (pre-professional, commercial and recreational), and all genres (classical, commercial, musical theatre),” explains Sandra Ishida Russell, executive director, PCCA. However, Ishida had a vision that would far exceed her dreams of dance. “We want to give back quality time to families who find themselves on the road more than in the home,” said Ishida. “We provide one safe, educational...

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2015 Orange County Father’s Day Events

Posted by on Jun 2, 2015 in Events, Father's Day, Featured, Holiday | 0 comments

It’s that special day when we celebrate the men in our lives, and the important influence that fathers have in our society. I’m referring to Father’s Day, of course! So, take the time to say, “thanks, dad,” and indulge together in one or two of the many events in Orange County that honor and celebrate that special guy in your life. Father’s Day Sunset Live Music and Dinner Cruise June 21, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Dana Wharf Sportfishing Dana Point Harbor 34675 Golden Lantern Dana Point, CA 92629 949-496-5794 www.danawharf.com Come aboard the Dana Pride for a special Father’s Day Dinner Cruise. Enjoy two hours on the water, complete with live music and a delicious barbecue dinner . Tickets are $49 per adult, $29 per child. Pretend City Celebrates Father’s Day June 20, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Pretend City
29...

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SusieCakes Opens in Laguna Niguel

Posted by on May 22, 2015 in Dining, Featured | 0 comments

We attended as a guest of SusieCakes SusieCakes, which is known for their traditional, all-American classic bakery offerings will finally open their doors this weekend in Laguna Niguel. This last week, Founder Susan Sarich hosted a private cake sampling of its top-sellers paired with fantastic wines. Samplings included these incredibly rich, melt-in-your-mouth cake delights: Luscious Lemon Cake Tropical Coconut Cake Vanilla Celebration Cake (This was Susie’s birthday cake throughout her life, and still a favorite!) Carrot Cake Susie’s Famous Southern Red Velvet Classic Marble Cake Old-Fashioned 6-Layer Chocolate Cake Founded by Sarich in 2006, she assured us that the “tastes just like your grandma’s” cakes, cookies, cupcakes, pies, and puddings are made entirely from scratch using simple, natural ingredients right on the premises. And nothing frozen, or re-heated—ever. Sarich pointed out that most of their treats should not be refrigerated...

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2015 Orange County Memorial Day Events

Posted by on May 19, 2015 in Events, Featured | 0 comments

Memorial Day is an important time to remember and recognize those who have died in military service for the United States of America. As part of that remembrance, Americans across the country celebrate with services, festivals, runs and other events. Take time during this three-day holiday weekend to enjoy the many events that honor our heroes, freedom, and diverse cultures and resources across Orange County. Orange County Memorial Day Services May 25 Anaheim Cemetery 11:00 a.m. 1400 E. Sycamore Street Anaheim, CA 92805 El Toro Memorial Park 11:00 a.m. 25751 Trabuco Road Lake Forest, CA 92630 Santa Ana Cemetery, 10:00 a.m. 1919 E. Santa Clara Avenue Santa Ana, CA 92705 949-951-9102, extension 10 www.occemeterydistrict.com The Orange County Cemetery District will host Memorial Day Services honoring veterans at all three of the District’s cemeteries; Anaheim Cemetery, El Toro Memorial Park and...

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The Berry Best SoCal U-Pick Strawberry Farms

Posted by on May 13, 2015 in Activities, Family | 0 comments

It’s that time of year when California’s luscious, sweet fruit makes its debut in markets and fruit stands. I’m referring to our family’s favorite fruit: strawberries! Southern California produces a large supply of this berry delicious fruit, so take advantage of the many u-pick strawberry farms that are just a car-ride away. Tips for berry picking: Avoid sandals and open-toed shoes; bring hand sanitizer or wipes, sunscreen and water. Call ahead to ensure harvest supplies are ample. Tanaka Farms 5380 University Drive Irvine, CA 92612 949-653-2100 www.tanakafarms.com Tanaka farms offers guided tours until mid-June that leave every half hour between 9:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m., and last about 45-75 minutes. Weekday tours require reservations. Cost is $18 per person (kids under two are free). The tour concludes with picking, and eating your own strawberries, and filling up a one-pound to-go basket. McGrath Family...

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10 Best Places for Swimming Lessons in Orange County

Posted by on May 7, 2015 in Best of OC, Family, Parenting | 0 comments

For most families, summer can bring beautiful weather, sandy beaches and endless days at the pool. However, one aspect of summer can often be overlooked: drowning. This last April, Orange County Fire Authority statistics show drownings begin to escalate from now through summer. In 2015 alone, there have already been four near-drownings and six deaths. Last year, there was an average of a drowning every nine days. So, to help prevent drownings, especially amongst children, below are a few favorite swim school parent picks that focus on water safety. Aqua Wave Swim School 27025 Burbank Road Foothill Ranch, CA 92610 949-455 2535 www.aquawaveonline.com Found in 1997, Aqua Wave Swim School offers two OC indoor pool locations and teaches adults and children over six months of age. Private, semi-private, and group swim lessons are taught by CPR certified instructors who use...

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Diaper Cakes: A Unique Baby Shower Gift

Posted by on May 1, 2015 in Family, Shopping, Uncategorized | 0 comments

*******STORE CLOSED******** Sponsored Searching for that perfect baby shower gift? Looking for something that would be the talk of the shower, while being a practical gift for the mommy-to-be? Look no further than Diapers Cakes by Nadia, which offer handcrafted, custom diaper cakes that will make a lasting memory. “My handmade diaper cakes are one-of-a-kind, and cannot be found anywhere else,” said Diaper Cakes by Nadia owner and creator Nadia Vazirian. Handcrafted Diaper Cakes by Nadia range in price from $10 to $70, not including shipping. Most custom cakes and décor take approximately seven to 10 business days. Local Orange County customers can opt for free shipping if they utilize the direct pick up option. “I believe that my diaper cakes will impress the mommy-to-be, and leave a lasting memory on her special day. I take great care when...

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Tax Day Freebies and Deals for 2015

Posted by on Apr 3, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

For most of us, the dreaded tax day deadline not only causes stress, it may have also left our pocketbooks a little lighter. So, why not spend a little less, and enjoy yourself after handing over your hard-earned money to Uncle Sam? Celebrate that tax day is over (until next year) by indulging in these freebies: AMC Theatres Free small popcorn between April 12 and 15. Print out a coupon from AMCTheatres.com. Bruegger’s Bagels Customers can get a bag of 13 bagels and two tubs of cream cheese flavors for $10.40 (savings of $3.50) between April 12-15, 2015. Boston Market In honor of Tax Day, Boston Market will offer a buy one Individual Meal and get a second Individual Meal for free (including their new Slow Braised Pulled Pork meals) on Wednesday, April 15 only. This offer applies to dine-in and...

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Tips for Holding a Successful Garage Sale

Posted by on Mar 26, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

This Saturday tradition of garage sales has been a pastime for millions of people. Even as a child, I remember my mom strategically mapping out the local neighborhood sales in the newspaper. However, the part of actually organizing and holding a garage sale can be overwhelming for many people – myself included. If you, like many others, feel stressed when it comes to the entire garage or yard sale process, below are a few tips to ease your anxiety. Hopefully, by the end of the morning, you’re holding on to less stuff, and more cash. Assess If you’re anything like my family, you have plenty of stuff, or junk to sell. As the adage goes, “Another person’s trash, is someone else’s treasure.” Begin by starting piles of items that you want to sell. Over a month or two, I...

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Popular OC Easter Egg Hunts

Posted by on Mar 18, 2015 in Easter, Events, Featured, Holiday | 0 comments

It’s the time of year that children delight in almost as much as Christmas. It usually involves an oversized bunny and brightly colored eggs being strategically hidden. It also entails the devouring of jelly beans, chocolate bunnies and the infamous marshmallow “Peeps.” I’m referring to Easter egg hunts and celebrations, of course. Here are a few popular Orange County spots to make your family’s spring celebration one to remember: Community Spring Celebration & Pancake Breakfast Grand Park at Aliso Viejo Town Center Aliso Viejo, CA 92656 949-243-7411 March 28, 9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Annual celebration includes egg hunts, visits with Peter Rabbit, face painting, bounce houses, DJ/Entertainment and arts and crafts. Renaissance ClubSport Bunny Brunch Renaissance ClubSport 50 Enterprise Aliso Viejo, CA 92656 949-330-5560 April 5 First Seating: 8:00 a.m.- 10:00 a.m. (Egg Hunt at 9:45am) Second Seating: 10:30...

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Stress-free Spring Cleaning Tips

Posted by on Mar 11, 2015 in Family, Hot Topics, Parenting | 1 comment

I don’t know about you, but it seems that every year around this time something hits me. I notice my closet is bursting with clothes I haven’t worn in years, the windows have a dusty filmy residue, and the baseboards and moldings are scuffed. No, it’s definetly not anything remotely close to spring fever — it’s spring cleaning time. Where to start? It all seems so overwhelming. Below are a few steps to help alleviate the stresses of spring cleaning: Assess Take a sweep around your house. Look in the closets, open the fridge, slide your hand along the kitchen counters, check the baseboards, moldings and ceiling corners. Grab a pen and paper, and make a list. If the list seems too long, then put a star on the top five must-dos. Purge & Organize After making your list, hit...

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Help Girls ‘Sparkle and Shine’ With Robbins Brothers Dress Drive

Posted by on Mar 6, 2015 in Events, Fashion, Giving Back | 0 comments

Families are encouraged to donate a bridesmaid, cocktail or evening gown at their local Robbins Brothers. The dresses will be given to teen girls throughout Orange County who is served by Olive Crest to sparkle and shine at their upcoming prom. Those who donate a dress will be entered to win a beautiful diamond jewelry gift from Robbins Brothers. Customers will receive one opportunity ticket per dress donated with a maximum of 20 opportunity tickets per customer or corporation. Go through your closet and help make prom special for teen girls in Orange County. Hurry, donations will only be accepted until March 29th. Orange County Drop-off Locations: Robbins Brothers Fullerton 255 W. Orangethorpe Ave. 714-871-5000 Robbins Brothers Mission Viejo 26281 Avery Parkway 949-364-6639 Kristal Zacharias is the mother of two beautiful, vivacious girls, and wife of a hunky husband...

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OCSA Foundation Arts Enrichment Program Jumpstart Student’s Talent

Posted by on Mar 4, 2015 in Education, Family, Featured, OC Mom Spotlight, Parenting | 0 comments

Do you believe your child has a gift in the arts, such as writing, music, dance, voice, drama, culinary or visual arts? I know as a parent that is a loaded question. After all, doesn’t every parent consider their child amazingly talented? Well, parent Abby Maharaj felt exactly this way when she noticed her daughter Maya never left home without a book or journal, and teachers were consistently praising Maya’s writing abilities. However, Maya was somewhat leery in following a similar path of her older brother in creative writing as a student in the Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA) Creative Writing Conservatory. “The prospect of trying to measure up to her brother’s success was a little unnerving for Maya, despite all the positive comments she received about her writing from teachers, friends and family. We decided to...

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How to Handle Your Teen Hormone Melt Downs

Posted by on Mar 1, 2015 in Family, Hot Topics, Parenting | 0 comments

Door slamming and isolation. Eye rolling. Hands on hips and quick to anger. Uncontrollable, unexplainable crying. For those parents with a tween/teen, these are some of the all-too-common signs of RAGING HORMONES. As my tween daughter is having one of her moments, I rack my brain with the question: “Was I like this?” The answer: yes. Although hormones are the chemicals that cause the physical growth and sexual development, it doesn’t make it any easier to be on the receiving end as a parent. And, as these substances seem to take hold of your tween/teen’s body, emotions, moods and sexual feelings, what is a parent to do? Leslie Dixon, health educator, Birds & Bees Connection, who works with parents and adolescents to better understand the physical, emotional and psychological changes, offers these potentially life-saving tips: Stay Calm & Don’t overreact....

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When Is Your Child Ready for a Sleepover?

Posted by on Feb 27, 2015 in Family, Hot Topics, Parenting | 0 comments

The late night ring of the phone said it all as the tiny voice asked me to sing her a lullaby. It was my seven-year-old daughter at her first sleep over. I sang her favorite bedtime song, and then a few minutes later the phone rang again. This time it was the mother of the sleepover friend. In a hushed voice she said, “You need to come pick her up now.” With that experience, I always wondered, when is the ‘right’ age or time for a sleepover? Clearly, I felt as if I goofed as a parent. Kate Baxter, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Orange County advises, “Sleepover requests usually begin from your children or the parents of your children’s friends between ages seven to 10.” Baxter explains that even though your child is asking to have a...

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Irvine Improv Launches Family Friendly ‘Laugh-Fest’ Series

Posted by on Feb 25, 2015 in Entertainment, Events, Theatre | 0 comments

We attended as a guest of the Improv My youngest daughter had her mouth full of a grilled cheese sandwich as she started to slide under the booth table. I gently pulled her up, and looked to see the “problem.” She was not crying or choking, but laughing. She was hysterically laughing at her first comedy show at the Irvine Improv. As a guest of the Irvine Improv, our family thoroughly enjoyed the comedy of comedian juggler Ron Pearson in his “Love to Laugh” performance this past Valentine’s Day. Pearson’s family-friendly show hit across all topics from awkward family moments, parenting, retirement, dating – and the age-old struggle between child and parent with Pearson’s signature joke tagline: “I don’t waaaaanaaaaa.” The family-friendly comedy show is part of the Improv’s “Laugh Fest” entertainment series that serve a wider range of audiences...

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New ‘Healthy’ Natural Hälth Spa in Newport Beach

Posted by on Feb 10, 2015 in Beauty, Family | 0 comments

***Closed*** We visited as a guest of the spa Like many women, I’m sure you’ve looked at the labels of beauty products. You’ve seen words that you not only can’t pronounce, but you’re not quite sure what’s in the product…exactly. I’ve learned over the years that many of the ingredients in beauty products can be toxic to our bodies. But what is the alternative? Unfortunately, there’s really no difference in toxic products when it comes to the nail and spa salons either. I often feel we are at the mercy of whatever chemical products are used by salon owners. Which is why I was happy to hear about the new Hälth Spa in Newport Beach. Hälth (which means health) describes itself as a “eco spa and store, an upscale innovative natural and organic treatment destination, carrying a line of...

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10 Simple Ways to Show Love

Posted by on Feb 8, 2015 in Holiday, Valentine's Day | 0 comments

Many people seem to take elaborate steps to show their love on Valentine’s Day. And it’s no wonder since approximately $13.19 billion is spent on Valentine’s Day yearly, and more than 195 million roses are produced for this the day of love. But fancy gifts and expensive dinners not only take a hit on your pocketbook, they do not always speak from the heart. After all, isn’t that what Valentine’s Day is all about? At one time, it wasn’t about aisles of sappy Hallmark cards, overindulging in a high-fat five-course meal, and standing in an endless line at See’s Candy. It used to be about the simple act of showing love to one another. To get back to the ‘heart’ of the matter, here are 10 simple and powerful ways to show your love without breaking the bank: Make a handwritten note...

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5 Best Frozen Yogurt Spots in Orange County

Posted by on Feb 2, 2015 in Best of OC, Dining, Family, Featured | 0 comments

This smooth, ice cold, tasty treat can be enjoyed all year long. I’m referring to frozen yogurt (aka: froyo), which seems to have taken a front seat to ice cream as a more healthy dessert alternative over the years. And it’s no wonder when considering it is a thriving $8 billion industry in the United States. The froyo industry is projected to continuing growing with 90 percent of all U.S. households regularly consuming frozen desserts. Here are a few top Orange County froyo spots* that are sure to tantalize your taste buds. Yogurtland This is a favorite of my family and lots of our friends. Yogurtland is an international franchise chain of frozen yogurt stores based in Irvine. They offer self-serve soft-serve frozen yogurt with active cultures. There are a variety of tasty selections and toppings. The new Laguna...

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5 Steps to a Successful Mid-year Academic Check

Posted by on Jan 28, 2015 in Education, Family, Parenting | 0 comments

By now you’ve probably set those infamous New Year’s resolutions. However, with the mid-year upon us, there is another important life activity that is often overlooked: our children’s academic health. According to Paul Rabara, an educational technologist based in Orange County and father of two, “Many parents act shocked when spring and end of year grades roll around, and their child is falling short in some critical developmental areas.” What can parents do to prevent academic end of the school year panic? Here are five key mid-year steps to help improve the academic health of your child: Check in With Child & Teacher Actively check the class Web site for grade, project and homework updates. Call or drop an e-mail to your child’s teacher as well. Make sure you are clear with the intent of your message. This is...

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Why Moms Night Out Is Good for You

Posted by on Jan 3, 2015 in Family, Hot Topics, Parenting | 0 comments

You’ve picked out a super cute outfit, you have your full makeup on for once all week, you’ve actually washed and blow dried your hair – and you are going out tonight, with your girlfriends. And, here’s the kicker – NO KIDS…Moms Night Out! Did I say NO KIDS? I confess, I need more Moms Nights Out (MNO). However, every few months, I do make the effort to be “husband-less and kid-less” to go out with girlfriends. I wondered, though, could not going out, in fact be detrimental to my mental health? According to Kate Baxter, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist based in Orange County, women may not be able to recognize why they feel like they “need” a girls night, but not having time for yourself to attend to just your needs can lead to feelings of...

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Tips for a Fun Family Game Night

Posted by on Jan 1, 2015 in Family, Parenting | 0 comments

For many families, the holiday break can be both fun and stressful. The solution? Family Game Night! Family games can be a great way to reconnect with each other while helping alleviate the cursed “cabin fever” associated with winter break. Here are a few tips to holding a successful family game night: Inventory games Do a quick check of your games. Replace missing pieces, or even add a few new games into your game collection. Watch the weekly sale ads at stores like Target and Toys R’ Us for lower prices. Retailers will occasionally hold buy “one get one” free or half-off deals. Avoid fights To help avoid fighting amongst family members, designate player jobs such as set up, player referee and clean up. This involvement tactic will encourage a sense of ownership of the event. In addition, lay...

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Holiday Hot Cocoa Recipes

Posted by on Dec 22, 2014 in Christmas, Holiday, Recipes | 0 comments

One of the first cool weather traditions my family enjoys is the making and drinking (more like slurping) of hot cocoa. Each year, we have different styles of hot cocoa that we love to taste test. Now it’s not like the memorable hot cocoa scene in the holiday movie classic “Polar Express,” but these tasty versions should warm your taste buds and your tummy. Traditional Hot Cocoa Ingredients Around 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (I like the Ghiradelli brand) 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar (depending on how sweet you like it) 1 cup milk or any combination – whole, half and half, low fat or skim Whipped cream or marshmallows Preparation Whisk together the cocoa, sugar and about 2 tablespoons of the milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until cocoa and sugar are dissolved. Whisk in the...

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Trim the Family Budget Before the Holidays

Posted by on Dec 17, 2014 in Christmas, Deals, Family, Holiday, Parenting | 0 comments

Finances. To most of us, managing, or a lack of managing our finances is a sore spot. I’m no exception. Perhaps you can relate to this scenario: “Did you really need that?” my husband asks annoyingly. I slowly stop stroking my new find, and slide the new (beautiful) purse behind my back. Before I married, finances seemed so much simpler. But after marriage and kids, things have changed. How can you help trim the family budget without eating mac n’ cheese every night? Patrice Ann Murray, president & CEO of live free, has been a financial advisor to high net worth clients in the Orange County for more than 20 years. She also teaches seminars, classes and workshops to a diverse audience that focus on being financially free™ in every area of their lives. Before executing any quick tips,...

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Secrets for Easy Gift Wrapping

Posted by on Dec 13, 2014 in Christmas, Holiday, Uncategorized | 0 comments

The adage, “It is better to give than to receive” is truly my favorite part of Christmas. However, the part that is not a fave is the arduous task of gift wrapping. I know it should be fun, but isn’t there enough stress in purchasing, baking, cooking, cleaning and decorating – and then to add the pressure of gift wrapping when you’re already exhausted? Here are a few helpful tips that will help relieve the gift-wrapping pressure of this season: 1. Beautiful Bows The beauty of a hand-tied bow FAR outweighs the little bit of extra time it takes to tie it. On a budget? Skip the wide, wired ribbon aisle altogether, and use string, jute or yarn. Add a sprig of something from your yard and, voila! Wrapping Tip: Do your hand tied bows ALWAYS come out crooked? While...

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The Best Orange County Christmas Lights

Posted by on Dec 6, 2014 in Best of OC, Christmas, Holiday | 25 comments

The most wonderful time of the year would not be complete without neighborhood Christmas Lights. So, load the kids in the car, and get ready to experience the holiday spirit in your neighborhood at some of these hot spots throughout Orange County: Aliso Viejo Carmel Neighborhood Canyon Vistas/Pacific Park The four streets of this neighborhood are adorned with beautiful holiday lights. King Eider Curb Side Forest Near the intersection of El Toro Road and Aliso Creek Road This Christmas light display is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening on a cul-de-sac. Visitors can enjoy the display while indulging in hot cocoa or apple cider and cookies. The display runs from now through New Year’s Day. Visitors are welcome to bring non-perishable food items to benefit South County Outreach. Fountain Valley Christmas House With 65,000 programmable LED lights 18323 Stanislaus...

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SeekingSitters to the Rescue

Posted by on Dec 1, 2014 in Family, Hot Topics, Parenting, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Sponsored We’ve all been there at one time or another as moms. You know the word (cue scary music)… BABYSITTERLESS. Yes, I made up the word. But seriously speaking, there are a countless number of times my husband and I had adult night out plans, but no reliable sitter. A few years back, though, in sharing my frustrations with a friend, she recommended a sitting service: SeekingSitters. I went on the SeekingSitters Web site that allowed me to see photos and profiles of the various sitters, and easily marked icons that denoted their background and skill sets (CPR, First Aid). Most importantly, all sitters have undergone a thorough background check and screening. How to Use SeekingSitters Using the Web site, I set up our username and password protected family account and profile, including any special needs and/or requests. I...

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Smart Parenting Strategies: How to Teach Children Gratitude

Posted by on Nov 23, 2014 in Family, Hot Topics, Parenting, Thanksgiving | 0 comments

The “G” word is heard over and over again each year during the holidays. And as adults, we understand the meaning of gratitude. But how do we teach children gratitude without the eye rolling or tuning out? Gratitude is defined by the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. According to Dr. Courtney Ball Harkins, Psy.D., marriage and family therapist and OC Mom Blog contributor, “Teaching your child gratitude is one of the best gifts you can give them. It is an essential task of raising a well adjusted, happy and healthy child. Grateful children are happier, and have a more positive view of themselves and others. These traits help fight against envy, jealousy, anger, depression and anxiety.” Here are a few practical strategies for teaching children gratitude: Active Parent Role Modeling This...

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Fall Family Craft: How to Build a ‘Thankful Tree’

Posted by on Nov 20, 2014 in Crafts, Family, Giving Back, Holiday, Thanksgiving | 0 comments

Looking for an easy, fun fall craft to do with your kids that helps reinforce the message of gratitude this season? Each year, our family creates a “thankful tree.” My daughters look forward to writing their own messages of gratitude each day through Thanksgiving Day. Here’s what you’ll need to build the thankful tree: -Brown butcher or wrapping paper (long enough to make the trunk and branches) -Green butcher or construction paper (crown of the tree) -Foam turkey or pumpkin-shape cutouts (already pre-cut for easy application). Usually available at your local craft store, or you can pick up extra orange/brown construction paper and cut your own. -Tape or removable glue dots -Sharpie or washable marker -Scissors What to do: -Measure/estimate the area where you’ll place your tree (keep the tree in a central location, such as a kitchen or...

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Skateboarding Fundraiser Being Held to Fight Diabetes

Posted by on Nov 10, 2014 in Events, Family, Health, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Each year, 1.9 million people will hear these words: “You have diabetes.” In Orange County, there are approximately 250,000 diabetics, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA). I know it feels as if we just finished supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October with an overwhelming amount of media, events, advertising – and PINK everything. However, did you know that November is American Diabetes Month? Unfortunately, this crippling disease denoted by the color RED kills more than AIDS and breast cancer combined, according to the ADA. In my own family, my grandfather and mother were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, and my niece faces a life of insulin injections with Type 1 diabetes. “Everyone seems to know someone who suffers from diabetes. At the current rate, diabetes is expected to reach pandemic levels in the coming years,” said Monet Quick-Smits, marketing, communications and...

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M·A·C Showcases Heirloom Mix Collection

Posted by on Nov 6, 2014 in Beauty | 0 comments

Getting my two daughters out the door for school everyday is a huge feat. But, how about having time to get myself ready? A few years ago, I decided to do something unheard of in the crazy, busy world of motherhood…I began wearing makeup in the morning. Not a ton of makeup, but a little bit of eye makeup, lip gloss, powder and bronzer. And miraculously, I felt amazing. Most importantly, this small act of self-care caused an internal change that improved my mood and confidence. I recently had the opportunity to spend time with the beauty experts at M·A·C Cosmetics during the launch of their Heirloom Mix collection at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa. This dazzling and sophisticated preview event kicked off a weekend-long extravaganza of makeup demonstrations and incredible live entertainment. M·A·C Cosmetics Senior Artist Cynthia...

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Bold Girlz: Changing the World, One Girl at a Time

Posted by on Oct 29, 2014 in Birthday Parties, Family, Featured, Parenting, Shopping | 0 comments

Sponsored Each year we seem to struggle in finding the ideal place to celebrate our daughters’ birthdays. We go round and round birthday party ideas – from theme parks, bounce house places, to tea parties. This year was no different when my eldest daughter turned 10. Until we hit the jackpot of all girl birthday party venues: BOLD GIRLZ. We decided to go check out the new birthday party spot at the Kaleidoscope Shopping Center in Mission Viejo. Within a few minutes of entering Bold Girlz, my daughter decided this was “the place” she wanted to have her party. In researching all the Bold Girlz services, we also learned that they offer more than just birthday parties. Founder and Chief Empowerment Officer Cheryl Beck founded Bold Girlz in 2010 with a mission to empower girls through fashion and encourage them...

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Tips for Keeping the ‘Scary’ Safe at Halloween

Posted by on Oct 28, 2014 in Halloween, Holiday, Uncategorized | 1 comment

Creepy costumes, blood and gore, ghosts, goblins and gravestones all conjure up images of Halloween. As adults, most of us know that Halloween is a relatively harmless holiday that supposedly originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. In the eighth century, November 1 was a time to honor all saints and martyrs. The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve and later Halloween. However, most young children cannot grasp the historical and secular background of Halloween like adults. Children see scary costumes and haunted houses and their anxiety can reach a feverous pitch. So how can a parent safely expose children to Halloween without causing an overload of fear and anxiety? “Parents need to keep in mind their child’s developmental level and their sensitivity to...

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Job Quotes: Water Damage Relief to the Rescue

Posted by on Oct 27, 2014 in Family, Parenting, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Sponsored My first hint should have been when the quiet streets of our suburban sprawl started filling up with mold restoration and plumbing service vehicles, but this ditsy blonde didn’t quite catch on until this happened… We finally had the infamous water damage that has plagued South Orange County residents. Besides reporting the damage to our insurance company, I would have loved to use a pretty cool resource – Job Quotes. With Job Quotes I could have quickly found a professional, such as a plumber and mold restoration specialist to assess and minimize our damage. Even though our house was eventually filled with large booming fans and noisy dehumidifiers, having a tool like Job Quotes at my fingertips would have given me peace of mind in knowing that I could secure a professional quickly and confidently. Not only does...

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Job Quotes: Helping to Make Your Old Home Seem New Again

Posted by on Oct 21, 2014 in Family, Parenting, Tech, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Sponsored I remember when we first moved to Orange County from Los Angeles about eight years ago. Everything was new. New neighborhood, grocery store, parks, dry cleaners, doctors… Don’t get me wrong, I was thrilled we purchased our first home after living in apartments and condo rentals, but the pressure of moving and new home buying was stressful. And even though we are now established in our community, a new phase is now upon us: our new house, well, is not so new. The aging, weathering and wear and tear of two kids is taking its toll on our now “old house.” So where do you turn when things in your home start to fall apart? How can you find someone reputable and local? That’s when I learned about Job Quotes. Job Quotes provides consumers an online database of...

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Jump Into Fall Tortilla Soup Recipe

Posted by on Oct 20, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

With the weather finally cooling down, the telltale signs of fall are finally upon us. The kids are playing in piles of leaves, pumpkin fans are in bliss, and cheers of football games are commonplace. In our household, though, the fall season would not be complete without another important tradition: Fall Tortilla Soup. This soup is an easy make-ahead dish for the week, or you can pop the ingredients into a crockpot. If you do the crockpot route, you’ll need to sauté the onion and garlic ahead of time in olive oil. Then dump the remaining cooking ingredients into the crockpot. Keep the pot on high, then flip to low/simmer for 6-8 hours. What You Need 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 cup chopped onion 1 teaspoon minced garlic (fresh or bottled) 1 packet of fajita seasoning (like McCormick) 2...

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Spooktacular Jello Shooter Recipe

Posted by on Oct 19, 2014 in Dining, Family, Halloween, Recipes | 0 comments

It’s starting to feel spooky as the Halloween festivities are fast approaching. To calm your nerves and get into the holiday spirit, here’s an adult (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) drink that will sure to send shivers up the spine of all of your guests. What You’ll Need 3 ounces Jell-O or other gelatin (grape and/or orange flavored)) 1 cup boiling water 1/2 cup (4 ounces) vodka (or other distilled spirit)* 1/2 cup cold water Plastic shooter cups Gummy candy (eye or other body part)   How to Make it Chill the liquor and cold water mix in the refrigerator so they are a consistent temperature. Pour gelatin (grape and/or orange) into a bowl. Add boiling water, stirring until the gelatin is completely dissolved (about two minutes). Place gummy eyeballs (edible) or other gummy body part in bottom of plastic shot glass. Note:...

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Shopping and Gift Giving Made Easy With WishBin (Giveaway)

Posted by on Oct 2, 2014 in Family, Fashion, Giveaways, Shopping | 25 comments

Sponsored byWishbin Who doesn’t love to shop, right? Don’t get me wrong, shopping can be fun, however, gift giving, on the other hand, can be stressful – especially for the person who has everything, or “extremely selective.” To combat the anxiety associated with gift giving, including crumpled gift receipts, crowded mall parking lots and long lines, what if I told you there was a much easier and faster way to compile that wish list? WishBin is the first fully interactive, Internet-wide gift registry and is completely free. You can easily build and distribute a wish list from an endless number of online stores. So, with both my daughters needing school clothes and our busy, hectic schedule, I decided to try WishBin. First, we registered at http://www.wishbin.com. You can register through Facebook, or use your e-mail address and set up...

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Book Review: Queen Bees & Wannabes

Posted by on Sep 23, 2014 in Books, Entertainment, Hot Topics, Parenting | 0 comments

Note: The following book review is intended for adult reading only. Some of the information is not appropriate for children. What is the difference between good teasing and mean teasing? What is the difference between tattling and telling? What should you say when your child tells you someone is mean to them? Is it OK to check your daughter’s cell phone, text messages and social media pages? These are just a sampling of the myriad of subjects discussed in the book “Queen Bees & Wannabes” by Rosalind Wiseman, which was based off the hit movie “Mean Girls.” In all candidness, when I initially flipped open the highly recommended New York Times Bestseller several months ago, there was a deep gaging sensation in the back of my throat. The scene described a teen girl in the bathroom at her parent’s...

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How to Jumpstart Your Child’s Reading

Posted by on Sep 22, 2014 in Education, Family, Hot Topics, Parenting | 0 comments

Before my first child was even born, I vowed to make reading an important part of our daily lives together. Besides reading to her daily as a baby, I bought a tiny “reading chair” for her first birthday. I set up a basket of hard-back books next to the pastel-flowered chair, and told her excitedly, “This is your reading chair!” Ever since then, my now nine-year-old daughter can’t get enough of books. As a parent, this is thrilling. I know, though, that not all children love to read. So, what can a parent do to inspire a “love of reading?” Angel Ko, director of the Aliso Viejo Kumon Math and Reading Center explains that pre-reading, the stage before students begin reading words, is a vital time to begin fostering a child’s love of reading. “Singing songs with your younger...

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Top Christian Devotionals for Adults and Children

Posted by on Sep 15, 2014 in Culture, Family, Hot Topics, Parenting | 0 comments

Like most busy moms, time for myself usually takes place well after the kids have gone to bed, or in the early morning hours. One of the activities I look forward to during this “quiet time” is praying, reading my Bible and daily devotional. But with so many Christian devotionals on the market, how do you find the ‘right’ one? According to Andrea Devin, director, Mariners Church Bookstore in Irvine, most people will select a devotional based on their life stage, and interests at the time. However, Devin cautions that “using a devotional should not replace your regular time reading the Bible, but it can supplement it.” So, to jumpstart your devotional search, below are a few of my favorite and Devin’s top-selling devotionals in adult, children and tween categories. Adult Devotionals “Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence” by...

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3 Tips for Capturing the Perfect School Photo

Posted by on Sep 10, 2014 in Family, Hot Topics, Parenting | 0 comments

Yearly school photos are just another one of the long-standing traditions of back to school. I remember as a child dreading the days when my mom would pat my protruding cowlick and dress me in some stuffy clothes for school photos. All these years later, school picture preparations haven’t changed all that much. However, now as a parent, I am the one wiping faces and fixing hair. However, what are some of the best tactics to help capture these priceless moments in time while relieving stress on both child and parent? Stephanie Norman, Orange County professional photographer of Reflections by Stephanie, and mother of three, shares a few of her tricks and tips of the trade when it comes to school photography: 1. Keep it simple. Wear solid colors and avoid busy patterns and lettering (distract from looking at...

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Five Summer Organization Strategies

Posted by on Aug 16, 2014 in Family, Parenting, Summer | 0 comments

Summer is not just a time of outdoor adventuring, vacationing and lazy days. For a Type A personality such as myself, it also means something else: organization. I may have sounded a tad giddy when I said the “o” word, but with my kids being home during summer, I often feel buried by toys, summer crafts and tornado-like bedrooms. Not to mention the overload of school artwork and papers that have accumulated from the previous year. So, over the years, I’ve treated summer much like my “spring cleaning.” It’s also the perfect time to get organized before the busy school year starts again. But where to start? 1. Pick one area to organize at a time. For most of us, the thought of tackling an area that is in dire need of organization is a daunting task. Thus, we...

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Summer Italian Bread Salad Recipe

Posted by on Aug 13, 2014 in Recipes | 0 comments

If you’re looking for a refreshing, new and easy summer side dish that is sure to impress your house guests, then look no further than this “Italian Bread Salad.” This original recipe created by my mother-in-law (MIL) chef extraordinaire received rave reviews last week from our dinner guests. My grilling husband served it with his perfectly smoked Tri Tip and garlic green beans, paired with a smooth Pinot Noir. This meal was so tasty, we’re going to have to hit the “menu replay” button one last time before the end of summer. What you’ll need: 4-6 – 1” thick slices of crusty French bread (slightly stale); Cut in bite size pieces 1 large or 2 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped coarse ½ cup of red onion, chopped 1 large or 2 medium cucumbers, peeled, deseeded and chopped coarse 1 cup...

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Back-to-School Shoe Shopping Guide and $200 Converse Giveaway

Posted by on Aug 11, 2014 in Family, Featured, Giveaways, Shopping | 93 comments

According to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey, total spending on back-to-school items are expected to reach $74.9 billion – up about three percent from $72.5 billion in 2013. One of the most popular must-haves on the back to school shopping list: shoes, of course. Like many parents, I face the daunting shoe challenge with my daughters each August: cool shoes versus solid podiatrist-approved shoes. So, how do I meet the wants of fashion-cool kicks and promote healthy, growing foot development? Below are some tips and trends for selecting the perfect back to school shoes. Selecting “Good” Shoe Tips As a general rule, avoid heels, backless or slip-on shoes for kids. Not only is it difficult for kids to walk in heels, they are particularly bad for proper foot development. Stick with flats and even soles. Look for shoes...

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Aftercare Sunburn Tips

Posted by on Aug 2, 2014 in Family, Holiday, Hot Topics, Parenting, Summer | 2 comments

The red. The painful. The tender. Every summer, it seems like at least one family member ends up with a sunburn – usually in the upper part of the shoulders and back. I’m referring to the infamous sunburn. Besides the obvious prevention steps, such as avoiding the sun altogether, what are the most effective ways to relieve a sunburn? Phon H. Vuong, physician assistant, Coast Dermatology and Laser Center in Laguna Beach offers these important aftercare sunburn steps for her patients: COOL WATER Cool skin by running cold water over the affected site. APPLY A TOPICAL Apply either cortisone cream or Aloe Vera (both over the counter). Chill the cream in the refrigerator for more effective relief. GET SOME R&R Make sure to rehydrate and rest. According to Vuong one of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes...

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Summer Sleep Tips

Posted by on Jul 27, 2014 in Parenting, Summer | 0 comments

Our summer days are full of sunny days at the beach, pool, sidewalk chalking, barbecues and riding bikes until sundown. Even though this unstructured season is fun, it can also be a time that bedtime routines fall by the wayside, and children become less rested. According to Dr. Lori Zaremski, a Manhattan Beach psychologist, “It is important that children get their sleep needs met in order to maintain good health and to be ‘ready to learn’ when the new school year begins.” When possible, Zaremski recommends families try to enjoy summer without deviating drastically from the school year bedtime rules. The United States National Sleep Foundation, recommends most children ages five to 12 need 10-11 hours of sleep and most teens need 8.5 to 9.25 hours of sleep each night for optimal cognitive functioning. Adequate sleep is associated with...

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Top Summer Workbooks

Posted by on Jul 15, 2014 in Education, Family, Parenting, Summer | 4 comments

Educational workbooks. You fell asleep even just reading the words, right? I used to cringe at the thought of academic workbooks too, especially in summer. Some research indicates that on average, children can lose 2.8 months of grade-level equivalency skills over summer vacation. That may not seem like much, but to those children who have worked especially hard during the school year, or had to “catch up” in some academic areas that number can be significant. Now, B-O-R-I-N-G might be the first word that comes to mind, but summer workbooks from my old days have greatly improved. Here’s a rundown of a few top-selling academic summer workbooks to help better prepare your kids for the upcoming school year: The Original Summer Bridge My favorite summer workbook is the Original Summer Bridge for pre-K through entering fifth graders. I like...

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Make Summer Really Count

Posted by on Jul 5, 2014 in Family, Parenting, Summer, Uncategorized | 0 comments

For kids and parents, summer is the ideal time for fun in the sun, exploration and free play. However, one important thing we may not consider as parents is the opportunity to expose our children to philanthropy – whether through donating items to a particular organization, raising money for a good cause, or volunteering. According to experts, it is important to allow our kids a first-hand look at how a lack of the opportunities that they have been able to take for granted impacts people in less fortunate circumstances. This perspective fosters a generosity of spirit, a sense of gratitude, and a feeling of connectedness to their local community – and the world. There are many creative and inexpensive ways that young people can help others this summer. Summer is also a time when charities need extra help. But...

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Grilling Basics

Posted by on Jul 2, 2014 in 4th of July, Family | 0 comments

Grilling has never been my personal cooking forte. I’m more of the pastry chef in our home with my specialties being cookies and muffins. In the summer, our household’s baking needs decrease, while my grilling guru husband’s services are in high demand. Over the years, I’ve picked up a few grilling basics from my hubby, which include these helpful tips: Grilling Tip #1: Heat is Key Not pre-heating your grill is a rookie mistake that can be costly when it comes to grilling. Cooking a piece of meat that will not reach optimal cooking temperature throws off the entire grilling process. Meat that stays on the grill too long can become overcooked and dry. Also, by placing uncooked food on cool grates, those tasty crosshatched marks will disappear. These marks are where the sugars in your food caramelize for...

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Fireworks Safety

Posted by on Jun 27, 2014 in 4th of July, Featured, Hot Topics, Parenting | 0 comments

Celebrating our freedom, riding in our neighborhood bike parade, eating apple pie and admiring the spectacular display of firework displays are just a few of the Fourth of July traditions we look forward to each year. However, there is a darker side of this upbeat holiday that many people do not recognize: the serious real danger of fireworks. The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) reported that in 2012, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 8,700 people for fireworks related injuries; 55 percent of 2012 emergency room fireworks-related injuries were to the extremities and 31 percent were to the head. The risk of fireworks injury was highest for young people ages 15-24, followed by children under 10. And how about those harmless sparklers? According to Encinitas Firefighter-Paramedic David Dumain, sparklers cause 16 percent of all firework injuries. “Even sparklers...

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My Kids Are Out of School, Now What?

Posted by on Jun 25, 2014 in Family, Featured, Summer | 1 comment

“I’m bored.” “There’s nothing to do.” “She hit me!” In considering the summer dilemma of summer boredom and borderline parental insanity, I stumbled upon a treasure of a book entitled The Family Manager’s Guide To Summer Survival by Kathy Peel. Though originally published in 2006, the book offers some doable and fun ways for everyone to survive the summer. Here’s a blend of my own and Peel’s no-nonsense tips: Hold a summer launch dinner or lunch to determine the summer bucket list During the meeting, talk about what ideas your kids have for summer fun. Keep in mind the social, physical and intellectual goals you’ve set to guide activities accordingly. Also, try to plan some activities with other parents so you have adult company rather than max out with all kids stuff. This is also a good time to...

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Tips for Picking the Best Barbecue

Posted by on Jun 12, 2014 in Family, Parenting, Shopping, Summer | 1 comment

The time for cueing up the grill is upon us. Like many families, a majority of our summer meals center around outdoor cooking and entertaining. Unfortunately, our propane barbecue completed its “final cook off” last summer after a long seven-year relationship. Now that we’ve moved on, what are some of the main features to look for when buying a barbecue? According to my grilling husband extraordinaire, here are four main things to look for when purchasing a new barbecue: 1)   Heat, baby! Check the heat level of the grills, or in technical terms, its British Thermal Unit (BTU). As a general rule of thumb, for every square inch of grill you want 100 BTUs. Keep in mind, the type of heat source, size of barbecue and crafted materials can all impact the heat level. 2) Match the Grill to the...

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Safe Summer Sunscreen Picks

Posted by on Jun 10, 2014 in Beauty, Family, Giveaways, Health, Parenting, Summer | 21 comments

Tender, red flaming sunburned skin – and the unattractive and bothersome lizard peeling may be just some of the after effects of overexposure to the sun and underuse of sunscreen. In helping protect my family’s skin, I am completely overloaded with choices while strolling the sunscreen aisle at our local drugstore. Just like my food, I am becoming an avid label reader. I don’t understand at least half of the ingredients, or the possible harmful effects. However, as a starting point, what are some basic guidelines when it comes to selecting and applying sunscreen? Charity Ries, medical aesthetician, Coast Dermatology and Laser Surgery Center, Laguna Beach, recommends checking the label for two key ingredients. “Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide (safe mineral sunscreens) will help protect your skin against the harsh and harmful UVA/UVB rays of the sun,” explains Ries. Ries also urges sun...

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Tips for Helping Your Kids Connect with Nature

Posted by on May 13, 2014 in Family, Hiking Trails, Nature Centers, Parenting | 0 comments

You remember those days after school. Arriving home, you’d throw your backpack down, grab a snack, and beeline to play outside. We rarely watched television, or even played a video game. For the most part, we were outside in the fresh air and sunshine. For many kids, those days are long gone. With an overload of enrichment activities and screen time crowding the space of free play for children, it’s becoming more important than ever to set aside time for the outdoors. According to Hallie Jones, executive director, Laguna Canyon Foundation, “Spending time in nature is such an important part of childhood. Being in the wilderness gives kids the chance to be free, and creative, and it teaches them a deep respect for the natural world. Those are gifts that stay with kids their whole lives.” So how can...

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Easy Ways to Refresh Your Backyard

Posted by on May 7, 2014 in Family, Gardening, Parenting | 0 comments

Is your backyard looking old and dumpy after the fall and winter seasons? Does your outdoor furniture look as though squirrels nested in it? Do you notice cracks in the hardscape? Flowers non-existent? Well, now’s the perfect time to refresh that worn backyard with some splash and color. Probably like me, you’re still waiting to inherit a boatload of cash from a distant relative, which doesn’t leave a big HGTV remodel budget. Which is why our own backyard refresh has been a “work in progress” the last year. Doing some research, including interviewing my mother-in-law (MIL), who is knowledgeable in landscaping and reviving outdoor living spaces, here are a few ways to refresh that dull yard: Add Seasonal Flowered Plants If you love vibrant hues of summer flora, these are a few no-fail flowering plants that will bloom all...

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Navigating Through Girl Puberty

Posted by on Apr 29, 2014 in Family, Featured, Hot Topics, Parenting | 0 comments

That one scary word can keep you up at night. It can make your voice shrill. That one word can increase your heart rate and drive you to the edge of insanity. The word? Puberty – more specifically – girl puberty. My nine-year-old daughter is in the throws of an emotional, hormonal and physical rollercoaster. I looked back at what my mom told me about puberty. If I recall correctly, she handed me a maxi pad and said, “Put this on, honey.” That was it. According to Leslie Dixon, health educator and founder, Birds & Bees Connection, this generational breakdown in communication is quite common. “Parents are facing the realization they need to speak to their daughters about puberty and sexuality, but don’t have the tools to actually do it. Often times when a mother tries to speak with...

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How to Make Your Pedicure Last Longer

Posted by on Apr 27, 2014 in Beauty | 0 comments

Like most women, I look forward to throwing on my favorite flip flops during the warmer months. There’s also a fairly common ritual that most women undergo around this same time: the infamous pedicure. You know the one where after many months in closed-toed shoes, you’re pretty sure the nail technician may pass out upon seeing your neglected tootsies. However, what can be even more frustrating than “pedicure embarrassment” is spending time and money on a treatment only to notice in a few short weeks, your nails are outgrown and chipped. On the upside, there is a way to extend the life of that precious pedicure according to Romi Schaffer, spa manager, Renaissance ClubSport Aliso Viejo. She offers three common-sense tips for stretching your pedi: 1. Avoid closed toed shoes and socks for 12-24 hours. You want to ensure...

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Earth Day Events in Orange County

Posted by on Apr 21, 2014 in Earth Day, Events, Featured | 0 comments

We all love it. We all live in it. It’s our Earth – our environment – our home. It’s hard to believe Earth Day has been celebrated since 1970 nationwide. It is now observed in 192 countries, and is celebrated by more than a billion people every year – the largest secular event of its kind. The point of Earth Day? This is a day we can change a human behavior in order to make our world a more sustainable place to live. As a parent, this is a great time to make a change in your everyday life – recycle more, bring your reusable bag to the grocery store, use a reusable coffee cup. Be a role model for your child in helping care for our planet. Earth Day is officially April 22, however, if you’re looking for...

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Help Teen Girls Get Their ‘Sparkle On’ for Prom

Posted by on Apr 17, 2014 in Events, Family, Fashion, Giving Back, Uncategorized | 1 comment

Teenage girls anticipate this one special event all year long. No, it’s not a spring break trip. Not a summer excursion. Think sparkling dresses, slow dances and punch. You guessed it…prom. Like me, you’re a “tad bit” past the age of corsages, over-the-top hair dos and heels that cause your feet to ache for days. Also like me, you probably have a few gently used formal dresses just collecting dust in your closet. If so, you can help teen girls from Olive Crest attend the prom in style by participating in the Second Annual Sparkle & Share in-store dress drive. Bring your gently worn bridesmaid, cocktail and evening gowns to Robbins Brothers now through Sunday, April 27. Robbins Brothers in Glendale and Fullerton will host special parties in celebration of Sparkle & Share on Saturday, April 19, 11:00 a.m....

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The OC Top Easter Egg Hunts

Posted by on Apr 11, 2014 in Easter, Events, Featured, Holiday | 0 comments

We’ve dusted off last year’s Easter baskets, pulled out the spring dresses, and have already eaten two full bags of Easter peanut M&Ms. For our family, these are all telltale signs of the next, long-awaited Easter tradition: the egg hunt! But where are some of the most “eggstravagant” patches in the OC? Below are just a few popular Easter-egg hunting patches that are bound to make lasting memories for you and your family… Irvine Park Railroad Easter Eggstravaganza Irvine Park Railroad 
1 Irvine Park Road Orange, CA 92869 714-997-3968 http://www.irvineparkrailroad.com Daily through April 19 This “egg-citing” egg hunt at the Irvine Park Railroad is known for its treat-filled eggs that won’t leave kids disappointed. Parents will also appreciate the fun as the hunts are divided by age and limited to a set number of participants. Additional activities include photos...

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Finding the Best Swim Instructor for Swimming Lessons

Posted by on Mar 24, 2014 in Family, Hot Topics, Parenting | 1 comment

I remember thinking this is it: I am going to die. I reached toward the pool edge repeatedly, but my grip fell short. I sank deeper in the water. I could not call for help because I was drowning. Suddenly, I felt my mother wrap her arms around my body and pull me to the surface. I gasped for air and choked up water. Soon after, my mom enrolled me in my first swim lesson. I have loved the water ever since. So, it’s no wonder that within the first 16 months of our first child being born, I began my research for a swim program. It took a few trial lessons, but we finally found the instructor who was the best fit. Unfortunately, the Orange County Fire Authority responded to 63 drowning incidents, 24 of them resulted in...

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Guide to Whale Watching in Orange County

Posted by on Mar 22, 2014 in Best of OC, Events, Staycation | 0 comments

I remember my first whale-watching trip off the coast of Morro Bay in the Central Coast at age 10 with my grandfather. With binoculars in hand and the wind blowing, we spotted several whales just feet away. The crowd gasped as the mist from the whale’s spout rained over our little boat. This brief, quiet interaction of these majestic creatures would be a moment I would never forget. Whales are on their annual migration from feeding grounds in the Bering Sea to breeding and mating spots in the lagoons off Baja – and what a season it has been. According to Dana Wharf, one of the most popular whale watching tour companies in Orange County, this has been a record season for spotting whales with more than 549 sightings of gray whales alone. With just a few weeks left...

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How to Beat Those Spring Allergies

Posted by on Mar 16, 2014 in Family, Featured, Health, Hot Topics | 1 comment

I become wistfully content when I think of spring – admiring the colorful, blooming flowers, massive Easter-egg hunting festivities and overdosing on sweet strawberries. But then, like the scraping of nails on a chalkboard, this image floods my brain: The sneezing + The watering, itchy eyes + The runny nose = SPRING ALLERGIES So, with spring just weeks away, I can’t help but dread my spring allergy symptoms. But what can I do to help enjoy this amazing season without locking myself in a closet? According to Dr. Rose Jahroumi, South Coast Medical Group in Aliso Viejo, those of us who battle allergies are predisposed to developing repeated sinus infections. “Inflammation in the nasal passages, whether caused by an irritant, allergy or infection (such as the common cold), blockage of the drainage sites of the sinuses can lead to...

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How to Help Your Children Cope With Daylight Savings

Posted by on Mar 9, 2014 in Family, Featured, Hot Topics, Parenting | 0 comments

When my youngest daughter is sleep deprived, we jokingly call her “babyzilla.” Her meltdown begins with a rearing of the head, a widening of the eyes, and shrills that make the hair stand up on your arms. And with daylight savings time rearing its outdated head, our babyzilla anxiety level naturally increases exponentially. What can we do to keep our children from becoming overly sleep deprived during daylight savings? One of my most referred to childhood sleep experts, Dr. Marc Weissbluth, author of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child reminds parents that, “Sleep is a powerful modifier of mood, behavior, performance, and personality.” Understanding the critical importance sleep plays in our lives, here are a few tips to help daylight savings time sleep deprivation in our children: Move bedtime up. Over the next several days, move bedtime up by 15...

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Healthy and Non-toxic Hair Coloring Alternative at ROOTS Salon in Laguna Beach

Posted by on Mar 6, 2014 in Beauty, Featured | 0 comments

I love being a “blonde.” And for 20 years, I’ve been “weaving” color along with my own natural hair strands every six to eight weeks. Over the past year, though, rather than feeling like I just stepped out of a salon, I noticed thinning hair, tenderness and painful sores on my scalp. I tried changing hair care treatments and products and consulting with various doctors, but the symptoms persisted. Growing more desperate, I conducted my own research and decided to try an alternative: natural, non-toxic hair coloring treatment. Does that even exist? The answer: YES! I uncovered a new salon that offers more natural options for hair and cosmetics: ROOTS. The salon is the brainchild of Laguna Beach local Laura Linsenmayer. Linsenmayer, with more than 16 years of experience in the beauty industry, recognized the overwhelming need for more...

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Easy Ways to Bring St. Patrick’s Day Fun to Your Home

Posted by on Feb 18, 2014 in Featured, Holiday, Parenting, St. Patrick's Day | 0 comments

They are small in stature, and some say they look like a tiny old man with red hair and a top hat. They seem to cause havoc around the middle of March. I’m referring to our yearly visit from that devilish leprechaun, who plays pranks on unsuspecting people on St. Patrick’s Day. Legend has it these Irish elves are shoemakers (cobblers). And, any leprechaun would not be complete without the illusive pot of gold. The pot is supposed to be hidden in a secret place known only to the leprechaun. If you catch a leprechaun, he will lead you to his pot of gold, and give it to you as a bribe to free him. Now that you know the mythical Irish background, how can you bring the magic of St. Patrick’s Day to your home? Try some of...

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Kid’s Birthday Party Planning: How to Not Overspend and Overindulge

Posted by on Feb 13, 2014 in Family, Featured, Hot Topics, Parenting | 0 comments

Cakes, bounce houses, invitations, goody bags, balloons, face painters, petting zoos…For parents, these things mean one thing: the sacred kid’s birthday party. Like most parents, I want my child’s birthday to hold a special memory in their hearts and minds, well, forever. But as parents, have we overindulged and overspent when it comes to our child’s birthday? The answer: probably so. Admittedly, I am “guilty as charged” when it comes to throwing “over the top” birthday parties. How can we get our birthday party planning under control? Orange County father Jason Caringella recently planned his son’s eighth birthday party, but was faced with a tight budget, and the pressure to deliver an awesome party. Caringella carefully studied the interests of his son and friends, and came up with the idea of holding a party at a local public skatepark and...

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How to Spice Up Your Marriage

Posted by on Feb 6, 2014 in Family, Featured, Parenting | 0 comments

Like in the movie Groundhog Day,  you hit the snooze button again and again and again, and there, sleeping next to you is the same person, your spouse. And lately, you’re so busy and tired that you’ve felt disconnected from one another. With Cupid making his rounds on Valentine’s Day, how can you get that lovin’ feeling back? According to Kate Baxter, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist based in Orange County, it helps to first look at why you’re feeling this disconnect with your mate. In her practice, the most common reasons clients experience a disintegration in their marriage is usually because: 1) A breakdown of communication; 2) Unfair fighting that has built up resentment over time involving character assaults; and 3) One or more partners turn away instead of toward their partner for emotional and/or physical fulfillment. But,...

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Burke Williams Revamps Their Nourishing Facial

Posted by on Jan 30, 2014 in Beauty, Family | 0 comments

We received a complimentary facial to share our honest opinions.. With the dry weather and high winds, my skin was in dire need of a facial, which is why I could not turn down the opportunity to try the new Burke Williams Enhanced Nourishing Facial. I arrived well in advance of my appointment at the Mission Viejo Burke Williams to check in, tour the spa and slip into a plush robe. Lounging in the quiet room, I had no idea the level of treatment I was about to undergo. I was warmly greeted by my therapist, Summer, and escorted to the treatment room. She began with a hand massage followed by a paraffin (heated wax) dip, and then placed my hands in heated gloves. During that time, she conducted a brief skin analysis. She explained this Nourishing Facial had been...

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Romantic Orange County Restaurants

Posted by on Jan 29, 2014 in Dining, Featured, Holiday | 0 comments

You look into each other’s eyes. Then, you think: “I’m starving.” Besides the romance of Valentine’s Day, who’s kidding themselves: much of the evening is not about love…it’s about the food (and maybe the wine). Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, here are a few romantic hot spots that serve up both atmosphere and amazing food. After all, it’s about your love and the food, right? 21 Oceanfront 2100 W. Oceanfront (across from the Newport Beach Pier) Newport Beach, CA 92663 949-673-2100 21 Oceanfront offers ocean-view dining and a well-stocked subterranean wine cellar. Located at the foot of the historic Newport Beach Pier, this classic, ‘old school’ restaurant features a wide selection of American and seafood cuisine. The atmosphere warms up even more with live music to set the tone for true romance. Mastro’s Ocean Club...

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Drop by Drop: Water Conservation Tips

Posted by on Jan 23, 2014 in Family, Featured, Hot Topics, Parenting | 0 comments

Every time you take a bath or shower, you use between nine to 12 gallons of water. Washing those pesky dishes sucks up nearly 19 gallons of water for each load. How about the never-ending piles of laundry? Try a whopping 50 gallons of water for just one mega load. Why are these facts even important? Well, this has been a record dry year for California. Only an inch of measurable rain has fallen in January – leaving 63 percent of California in extreme drought according to the National Weather Service. Last week, California Governor Jerry Brown declared an official drought, so now’s the time to reconsider your water use. According to Kelly Winsor, assistant to the General Manager, Moulton Niguel Water District, 60 percent of our water use occurs outside. She offers some simple outdoor water conservation tips:...

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Homework for Helping Your Child Make the Grade

Posted by on Jan 21, 2014 in Education, Family, Featured | 6 comments

With the school year more than half over, now is a perfect time to have an open dialogue about school, and perhaps “up your parenting game.” Don’t get me wrong, monitoring homework, test scores and communicating with your child’s teacher are important, but what are some big picture considerations that are often overlooked by parents? Here are a few key parental strategies to consider: Emotional Stability According to Paul Rabara, an educational technologist based in Orange County and father of two, emotional stability is more critical than ever. “Kids need to handle difficulties and setbacks without parents trying to always fix the problem or reward the child because they feel bad that things didn’t work out. It’s healthy for kids to feel challenged and experience failure,” explains Rabara. Talking & Listening Talking and listening play major roles in children’s academic success. After...

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Disney On Ice Rocks With the New and the Old

Posted by on Dec 19, 2013 in Disney, Events, Family, Featured | 0 comments

School is almost out for winter break, so here’s your final OC Mom Blog quiz… Question: Where can you see ice-skating horses, dancing teacups and flaming arrows being shot by a feisty red head? Answer: Disney On Ice’s Rockin’ Ever After at the Honda Center in Anaheim! My daughters had been eagerly awaiting our Disney On Ice evening to come, and boy did it ever live up to the hype. As the pink show lights cascaded across the enormous ice white rink, the show began with Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and all their pals introducing the enchanting tales of Ariel, Tangled, Merida and Bell. In the first tale, Ariel took us deep beneath the waves as she dreamt and sang about being a part of Eric’s world. Sebastian and Flounder even got into the musical numbers. Of course, the...

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Parent Tips for Keeping the Magic of Santa Alive

Posted by on Dec 17, 2013 in Christmas, Family, Featured, Holiday | 0 comments

Images of this larger than life character fill our children’s heads throughout the holiday season. Most of us know Santa Claus as a portly, joyous, white-bearded man wearing a red suit and carrying a sack full of gifts. However, it is an inevitable fact in any parent’s life: kids want to know if there really is a Santa Claus. They’ve heard kids talking at school or maybe they just have doubts. Here are some tips about how to keep the magic alive in a healthy way: Have a Plan Before those words even come out of your child’s mouth, have a plan already formulated in your mind. Three years ago, mother of three, Stacey Pollock, decided to tell her child the true meaning of Christmas by reading the story The Real Story of the Christmas Legend. “This was more...

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Best Santas in Orange County

Posted by on Dec 11, 2013 in Best of OC, Christmas, Events, Featured, Holiday | 5 comments

For most families and children, visiting Santa is one of the highlights of the holiday season. In our family, this is no exception. My daughters write and re-write their wish lists. Once perfected, they can’t wait to sit on Santa’s lap. With the countdown to Christmas just weeks away, here are a few places Santa will be flying by before the big night in Orange County Fashion Island 401 Newport Center Drive Newport Beach, CA 92660 
949-721-2000 Children and families can share their holiday wishes and take photos with Santa at Fashion Island’s Atrium Lawn through December 24. Known for having one of the most authentic Santa’s in Orange County and a stunning holiday backdrop, your family will feel the magic of the season. Hours vary. Santa’s House will periodically close for breaks. Please visit Guest Services in Atrium...

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Casey’s Cupcakes Opens Huntington Beach Location

Posted by on Nov 29, 2013 in Dining, Events | 0 comments

Things just got a little sweeter at the Bella Terra Shopping Center in Huntington Beach last weekend with the grand opening of Casey’s Cupcakes. My daughters and I were thrilled once again to have the opportunity to taste some delicious cupcakes, and meet owner and cupcake creator Casey Reinhardt. Following the ceremonial ribbon cutting with Huntington Beach Mayor Connie Boardman, we sat down with Casey to get the inside “cupcake scoop” on her latest store location, and tips for the holiday season… OC Mom Blog: What makes the opening of today’s Huntington Beach location special? Casey: This is our sixth location, and I have been coming to Bella Terra for years, and I love all the improvements they have made. I am excited we have the opportunity to become a part of it. This is the perfect place for...

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Make the Season a Little Brighter for Those in Need This Holiday Season

Posted by on Nov 23, 2013 in Christmas, Family, Featured, Giving Back, Holiday | 0 comments

Tinsel-covered trees, stockings filled to the brim and the ripping open of gifts are just a few of the holiday joys that our family cherishes each year. However, even more important is the opportunity to give to others in need during the holiday season. My daughters and I love selecting name tags from our church Christmas trees, and putting together Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. So, if your family is able to make someone’s life a little brighter this holiday season, here are a few organizations in Orange County that still need help: Alzheimer’s Family Services Center 9451 Indianapolis Avenue Huntington Beach, CA 92646 714-593-9630 The Alzheimer’s Family Services Center is in need of holiday set up and decorating on Tuesday, December 3, 2013, 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Come decorate halls and the outside of the center with trees,...

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Halloween Safety Tips

Posted by on Oct 25, 2013 in Family, Featured, Parenting | 0 comments

The pumpkins are carved, the costumes perfected, and the candy is ready to be doled out to the masses. Halloween is one of our family’s favorite holidays. However, as parents we still need to be vigilant when it comes to the safety of our little ones trolling the neighborhood. The American Red Cross of Orange County offers some important Halloween Safety tips that should help make this holiday safe for all those gremlins, ghosts and goblins, including: 1. Wear well-fitted costumes and shoes to avoid trips, falls, or even a bruise. 2. Alone is something you never want to be when the ghosts are out and the ghouls roam free. (Walk in groups, or with a trusted adult, never alone.) 3. Costumes and jack-o-lanterns are quite fun, but make sure you always walk, never run. 4. Halloween is a...

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Best Haunted Houses in Orange County

Posted by on Oct 4, 2013 in Best of OC, Events, Featured, Theme Parks | 0 comments

You enter cautiously. With each turn you feel a shock. Creaking doors. Swinging chandeliers. Screams and moans from the attic. You dare not take another step. For your have entered the Haunted House. Visiting your local haunted house is yet another thrilling fall tradition for many families. Here are some of the best haunted houses in Orange County. Be prepared to get scared! The Cemetery of Lost Souls With rave reviews, including a number one “must-see” rating by the Orange County Register in 2010, this Haunted Dojo is put on by the United Studios of Self Defense in Yorba Linda. Family hours are held most Friday and Saturday nights from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. However, the remaining part of the night is not for the faint of heart. With food, live music and a bounce house, you’re family will be...

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The Best Pumpkin Patches in Orange County

Posted by on Oct 2, 2013 in Events, Featured, Halloween, Holiday | 0 comments

Here’s your first pop quiz of the school year, what do leaves, pumpkins and green apples all have in common? Wait for it. Answer: It’s the sign that fall has officially arrived! As part of the fall traditions in our family, visiting the local pumpkin patch is a must do. But with so many pumpkin patches to choose from, which one is the best fit for your family? Here’s a rundown of some favorite pumpkin patches in Orange County: #1 Irvine Park Railroad Pumpkin Patch Friends warned me about the high level of fun activities at this popular pumpkin patch – and they were right. Families will enjoy hay and train rides, games, cookie decorating, panning for gold, the spooky haunted house, pony rides, a bounce house, face painting and much more. With so many activities, allow most of...

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Great Park Neighborhoods Showcases New Model Homes

Posted by on Sep 28, 2013 in Featured, Home, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Admit it, you’ve been at school drop off and noticed the mom wearing a pair of super cute Tory Burch shoes. For a split second, you felt a tinge of envy, perhaps. How about the family with the amazing, tidy home?  You may have experienced a little bit of jealousy compared to your conservative, sometimes “very lived in” accommodations. In a good way, I had a large dose of home envy when touring the new model homes at the Great Park Neighborhoods at Pavilion Park in Irvine that were built by eight leading national builders. Designed in classic American Heritage architecture, the 31 single-family detached homes of Pavilion Park include single-story and two-story floor plans across a variety of price ranges to offer something for everyone – from young couples and families with children to empty nesters and multi-generational...

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Tea Parties and Tiaras Now Being Served at Casey’s Cupcakes

Posted by on Sep 26, 2013 in Dining, Featured | 0 comments

Who doesn’t love a tea party, right? But, what is the perfect accompaniment with a cup of tea? A Casey’s Cupcake, of course! My two daughters initially fell in love with Casey’s Cupcakes at the Fashion Island location a few years ago. When I announced that we were invited to an enchanting “tea parties and tiaras” afternoon at Casey’s Cupcakes, they were beyond thrilled. Passing under the pink awning at the Irvine Woodbury Town Center Casey’s Cupcakes, we were graciously greeted with a variety of mini cupcakes and a flute of sparkling apple cider. Moments later, a beautiful blonde woman appeared as if by cupcake magic. My daughters giggled with excitement when meeting Casey Reinhardt, owner of Newport Beach-based Casey’s Cupcakes. Casey then escorted the entire group to the party room where children had the opportunity to decorate their own...

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5 Stress-Free Tips to Get Your Kids Out the Door

Posted by on Sep 1, 2013 in Family | 0 comments

We have all been there – rushed in getting our kids ready and out the door. Licking the peanut butter from your fingertips, you notice the seconds winding down on the clock. “Mom, where are my socks?” a little voice calls. With a deep sigh, you realize the kids will be late to school. How can you prevent the dilemma of tardiness to school and other functions? Below are five tips to get everyone out the door – stress free! Tip #1 Pre-pack Lunches. Pre-make lunches the evening before (or early in the morning) and place in the refrigerator for a quick grab. Tip #2 Shower and Bathe Your Kids the Night Before. With a few spritzes of detangling hair spray, teeth brushing and face wiping, your kids can be ready in no time. Tip #3 Pre-Select Clothes, Socks...

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Part One: Bullying 101 for Parents

Posted by on Jul 23, 2013 in Family, Hot Topics | 0 comments

OC Mom Blog Note: This is the first in a two-part series that discusses bullying, and how parents can better protect their children. At one time or another we’ve all experienced it: bullying. As a parent, the stinging words, or flying punches can create frustration and helplessness. So, how can parents arm themselves when it comes to bullying? Is My Child a Victim of Bullying? Types of bullying can range from physical, verbal, emotional, racist, sexual, to cyberbullying. According to the American Psychological Association (2004), the most common problems that occur due to bullying are: lowered self-esteem, higher rates of depression, anxiety, feelings of loneliness, suicidal ideation and lower rates of school attendance. Kate Baxter, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist treats children and teens in her Laguna Hills office for bullying. “Most victims fear their bully, feel unsupported,...

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