Crash Test Mommy

Crash Test Mommy




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Date Your Daughter {Giveaway}

Before we became parents, my husband and I talked a lot about the role he as a father would play to our children. We know the importance of a father and a mother in our children’s lives, but know the role of a father is of utmost importance to both, especially a daughter. Now if I can get serious on you for a moment.

Did you know that children with fathers who are involved are:

  • 40% less likely to repeat a grade in school
  • 70% less likely to drop out of school
  • More likely to enjoy school and engage in extracurricular activities

Did you also know?

  • 43% of US children live without their father
  • 90% of homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes
  • 71% of pregnant teenagers lack a father

Unacceptable statistics. There is no denying a father’s role in the home is important and very much needed. But I would like to focus on the Father / Daughter relationship.

My little girl loves her Daddy and with good reason. He is a great dad, an involved dad and to be quite honest, the fun parent. We know this relationship will shape so much of her emotional stability, her self-confidence and how she views men. I recently purchased a book for him, which is a must read for all Dads. Mom, if you are reading this, go buy it for Dad! The book is called Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters by Meg Meeker, MD. I happened to buy the 30-day challenge, so he would be hands-on daily with her instead of just reading a book by himself for the next 30 days. It’s been a huge blessing.

A father’s relationship with his daughter will shape how she views men, how she relates to men and even haw an impact on her relationship with God. We as a family make sure they have Daddy / Daughter dates and she loves them. She can’t wait to get dressed up and have one-on-one time with her Daddy. These little dates mean the world to her and I see the relationship growing and growing each time. She knows her Daddy loves her and values her.

I get all warm and fuzzy when she wants to share everything with Daddy. From wanting to tell him that she fell down and scraped her knee when he was at work, to showing him the dress she is wearing and her “Frozen” hair (the Elsa braid).

I feel so strongly about this relationship, that I’m personally hosting a giveaway to one lucky reader. I’m giving away a Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters 30-day challenge book by Meg Meeker, MD and two coupons for FREE Rita’s Italian Ice in Mission Viejo. This will give one lucky father a chance to have a Daddy / Daughter date with his princess. But if you don’t win, please take your daughter out for a date anyway, even if it’s just the park.

To enter, leave a comment telling me about your little girl and her Daddy. I’ll pick a winner at random.org on Monday, March 24th at 5pm.

CONGRATULATIONS TO KARA NOEL, THE PRIZE WINNER!

A Resolution Without Regret

Happy New Year! Out with the old and in with the new. Have you made a resolution?  For some it represents a gym membership and losing that unwanted baby weight. For others it represents self-development and taking up a new or forgotten hobby. Maybe it’s just one word that you’ve selected for the year to represent a positive change. Whatever it is, pat yourself on the back. Implementing resolutions take courage and the step into the unknown can be uncomfortable.

My resolution was easy to decide upon. Though I certainly need to get to the gym and make sure I continue my personal hobbies, I’ve selected not one, but two words to define my year.

BE PRESENT.

As I stare into the big brown eyes of my two littles, ages one and three, I see an opportunity to teach, shape and mold their tiny hearts into the grown-ups they will quickly become. I am sometimes guilty of hurrying them through their day, just as I have done for years with my own. I race around in the morning to get everyone ready and then I’m checking to-do’s off my list because I’ve filled my calendar up with one too many appointments or errands, not to mention scrolling through Instagram while I’m at stoplights or texting business information to colleagues.

I recently received an email to one of my FOUR email addresses which I could have hurriedly scrolled over. I instead chose to read it because of the title: My Child Cannot Kiss a Moving Target. It was an encouraging yet stern blog written to remind us busy parents to BE PRESENT. {Insert getting kicked-in-stomach sound here}.

I understand the heavy responsibility of bringing up your children to the best of your ability whether you are a work outside-the-home Mom or work-from-home Mom. It’s doubly overwhelming if you’re a perfectionist like me. It’s time to let go of the perfectionism and BE PRESENT. They don’t care if the trash is dumped or the laundry is done. When you are with them, they want YOU.

So it is taking some planning and reorganizing of to-do’s, but I’m putting my best foot forward. When I am with the littles, I am PRESENT. They don’t see me staring at my iPhone or running around the house like a chicken with my head cutoff (that happens when they go to bed). We have also implemented one-on-one Mommy-Child or Daddy-Child dates so they enjoy uninterrupted time and we get to BE PRESENT.

Here is my daughter beaming before she left the house for her Daddy-Daughter movie date. She wanted to get dressed up and couldn’t wait for her time alone with her Prince. The time he spent with her was priceless. Before you know it, the tiny stage will have passed by. Don’t miss those teachable moments because you are hurrying through life. Don’t miss that first, which will soon become the last. Most times the laundry, the cleaning, the social media, the rat race can wait. Your children need you and you will never regret making the decision to BE PRESENT.

Christmas {Giveaway} – Let’s Decorate!

The official countdown to Christmas has begun! For some over achievers, it started in October and for others in November. Not me. Let’s get through Thanksgiving first, then we can pull out all the Christmas decor and let the shopping begin. Each Christmas I anticipate the beautiful Christmas songs about Jesus that grace the department stores. I love the smell of a fresh Christmas tree covered in lights and I love to decorate my home.

If any of you are like me, it’s a love / hate relationship with the Pottery Barn catalogs that arrive in the mail during the holiday season. Beautiful ideas to adorn my home. But who am I kidding? My home will never look like the ones in that catalog. They are staged with professional designers, photographers, lighting experts and chefs. I assure you noone lives in those homes and they don’t have two children under the age of 4 running through their set as they take these photos.

However, I can adorn my walls with the Christmas message and I have decided to do just that.

This gorgeous Christmas collection is by Red Letter Words.

The fabulous business was started by Dee Kasberger. She was decorating her home and wanted wall art with an “erased chalkboard” look, but it was hard to find. So she decided to make her own art. Modern and casual but with a vintage touch and something that could complement family photos. She was positively overwhelmed by the response of family and friends. People were emotionally moved and they asked her to create even more. So her business began.

When I first viewed her work, I was drawn to the soul-touching messages. I loved the contemporary look and colors of each of her prints. You can also find her on etsy.

This one captured me this season.

When I purchased mine,  I wanted all of them. I have great news for you. I’m going to take some of that pressure off of you to have that Pottery Barn home and help you have that perfectly decorated house you’ve been wanting for Christmas! Dee at Red Letter Words has graciously offered to giveaway ANY holiday gallery wrap canvas size 12×12 or 11×14!

 

Leave a comment after looking at her holiday collection under her product art prints. Let me know which is your favorite and you’ll be entered to win! I’ll select a winner through random.org on Wednesday, December 11th at 6pm. GOOD LUCK and remember the true reason for the season!!

It’s My Birthday, Surprise Giveaway!

I loved the movie Pay it Forward. It inspired many of us to do just that, Pay it Forward. Bless someone else. Surprise that person in line behind you at Starbucks. I love hearing stories of people blessing others and others being blessed. It is contagious. My dad inspired many back in our home town to Pay it Forward by instilling the philosophy into a local football team as well as creating a Pay it Forward scholarship for the local pageant for the Miss America Organization.

With that being said, it’s my birthday. Birthdays are less exciting now when you have your own kids to celebrate not to mention after you enter your 40′s (which I hear is the new 20), you kind of want to stop counting. I woke up to this spread today from my very selfless hubbie.

He couldn’t go wrong with a Chai Tea latte and some cake balls from Patty’s Cakes & Desserts! I’m also looking forward to date night at one of our favorite locations, The Loft at the Montage.

For my birthday, I’d like to Pay it Forward. I have decided to surprise one of my readers who entered my last giveaway for a family 4-pack of tickets to Buccaneer Cove at Boomer’s in Irvine with this spread!

This reader commented: What a way to kick off the school year!  We would love to take our kids on a surprise adventure to the water park! – Ayres Mom

Well Ayres Mom, now you can! Surprise – You’ve just won a Family 4-pack of tickets to Buccaneer Cove at Boomer’s in Irvine. Congratulations and I hope your kids are excited. Enjoy!

Boomers! Irvine

3405 MICHELSON DRIVE @ HARVARD

(949) 559-8341

 

Tall Ships and Elephants

Seems like an odd pair, Tall Ships and Elephants. Who knew they went so well together. They do!

Dana Point has some great activities for the kids going on right now!

The Tall Ships parade kicks off the Tall Ships Festival which runs through September 8th.

This is just a sneak peek of the eight majestic beauties that will grace the waters of Dana Point this weekend. The Ocean Institute  has a fabulous weekend planned for the 29th Annual Toshiba Tall Ships Festival. The sunset parade kicks off Friday, September 6th at sunset and Saturday & Sunday they will have cannon battle cruises, ship tours, entertainment, story time and so much more.

New to the festival this year is your ability to explore their new Maddie James Seaside Learning Center and Disney Junior will have a Jake and the Never Land Pirates experience on Saturday from 12pm to 4pm and Parrot Jack’s Pirate Parrot Training Camp. Some events require a pirate adventure pass. See their websites linked for full details.

It’s going to be a really fun way to experience the ships and it’s probably 10 degrees cooler at the ocean!

WAIT, THERE’S MORE! While you are wandering around Dana Point & the beach resorts, you may spot some elephants. Actually, 37 of them to be exact.

The Elephant Parade has landed in Southern California and they are quite the amazing art pieces. My daughter was so excited to look for elephants and she started spotting them before I even could. As Daddy walked in the door from work, she ran to tell him she saw elephants today and she wanted to go see more. Needless to say, we’ll be back out scouting for elephants his weekend.

Through the sale of merchandise and auction of the original art pieces, the exhibition has raised over $6 million dollars to help support the worlds most majestic land mammals and raise global awareness of issues affecting their dramatic plight.  They will be in Dana Point on exhibit until November 7th, then they will have closing ceremonies through November 16th and be auctioned off.

This elephant, named Beady is one of my personal favorites.

This artwork is by Lily Tomlin. There is even an elephant by Khloe Kardashian. Go figure.

The weather will be great and the activities are endless. Get out with the kids to Dana Point this weekend and go on an elephant hunt. You will not be disappointed. Maps can be found here. For more information, please visit ElephantParadeAmerica.com, MyDanaPoint.com, or call (949) 248-3501 to speak to City staff.

GIVEWAY – Get Soaked!

I love Orange County, but this heat & humidity? C’mon! It’s time for a break!

Our family recently attended the Grand Opening of Buccaneer Cove at Boomer’s in Irvine. Let me tell you, the cool water did the trick!

They have 5 great slides for kids of all ages. It’s a super-sized water play area that’s five levels high with slippery slides, wet tunnels, spray loops and a huge splash bucket. They have spray cannons and an interactive aqua dome. This new water play park includes over 1000 feet of water slides. And if you just want to watch the action, kick back in a comfy lounge chair or rentable cabana!

I have two littles 3 and under and they loved it. All the lounge chairs face the area that the littles could play in, so I could soak up the rays and watch or join in the fun!

The kiddie slide was perfect for my three year old. As you can see, I even joined in on the fun. The all-day Buccaneer Cove pass is just $19.99. A perfect way to spend these hot days.

Another benefit to Boomer’s in Irvine is that they reward kids for good grades too! Check it out here!  After September 8th, Buccaneer Cove will only be open on Saturdays & Sundays from 11am until 7pm and I’ll help you get there. I’m giving a family 4-pack of Buccaneer Cove Tickets.

HOW TO WIN: LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW TELLING ME WHY YOU WOULD LOVE TO TAKE YOUR FAMILY TO THE NEW BUCCANEER COVE! I’ll pick a winner through Random.org on Thursday September 5th at 5pm.

CONTEST IS CLOSED. WINNER OF THE FAMILY 4-PACK SELECTED BY RANDOM.ORG IS TARA, ENTRY #21! CONGRATULTIONS

Boomers! Irvine

3405 MICHELSON DRIVE @ HARVARD

(949) 559-8341

Have you heard?

Buccaneer Cove is now open at Boomer’s in Irvine!

You can now make a splash at the brand new 20,000 square foot water play park located inside Boomers Family Entertainment Center.

The new Buccaneer Cove water wonderland is the largest water play structure in Orange County.  The area features four levels of water play with dozens of interactive water elements that are be fun for the whole family.  Buccaneer Cove includes six colorful water slides, wet water tunnels, interactive aqua domes, fun spray cannons, spray loops, cylinder spray fountains, and a hundred gallon splash bucket located at the top of the structure. Lounge chairs will provide guests with the chance to take a break from the fun and sun.  Semi-private cabanas with food service will be available for all day rental at an additional fee.

My 3 year old can’t wait to check it out and I’m super excited about the slides for littles. I hear adults have fun too. Hope to see you there!

Boomers! Irvine

3405 MICHELSON DRIVE @ HARVARD

(949) 559-8341

Time for Tots Giveaway

Since becoming a Mom, I have desperately attempted to make sure my children excel in what ever learning stage they are in. Because I lack creativity in this department, I often find myself scouring Pinterest or Etsy for craft ideas or learning fun for my littles. One day I found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, the Etsy business Time for Tots.

After exchanging a few questions via email, I ordered a fine motor skills kit. My daughter who at the time was 2 ½ loved to choose her activity. If she struggled with one, we would move on and come back a week or so later. She now can do all of the activities on her own. Of course she has her favorites, but we can get creative with different ways to use each activity now. Kits are available based on age & learning stage. They even have sensory tubs and their new ebook.

I reached out to the founders of Time for Tots and found a very cool story behind the store! Two teachers, two states, with a collaborative idea turned into Time for Tots. Nicole Duggan and Jill Shafer had discussed the idea for months before taking a leap and launching the store in July 2010. Nicole also has a great website called Activity Mom. They started with just a tiny handful of products but with a HUGE passion for early childhood learning. The products that they made then, and continue to make today, are the exact same ones they use with their little ones. Everything they sell has been kid-tested and approved by their own tiny tots, and they continue to be their inspiration.

They assemble the kits out of their homes, in California and Texas. The wow factor of this business is that not only do they not live in the same state, they have never met face-to-face. They talk, text, and email daily and can’t wait for the day where they can give one another a hug. Their business was a leap of faith and once you try one of their kits, you will see for yourself why they are so successful!

I’m giving one of these kits away to a lucky winner! Leave a comment below telling me why you’d love to win one of these kits for your tot. I will select a winner by random.org on July 26th at 8pm. Make sure you take a look at their sites: Time for Tots and Activity Mom.

Mommy needs a night out

I was lucky enough to be invited to the grand opening of A Hidden Vine on the Lake, a very cool wine bar on Lake Mission Viejo. It was not your run of the mill wine bar. A Hidden Vine focuses on small wine releases so their customers truly get to experience specialty wines from California, France, Italy & Spain.

To be quite honest, I was just excited to be out of the house with my husband, leaving the two littles at home. It had been way too long since we were out, just the two of us for an uninterrupted conversation. However, when we arrived I was pleasantly surprised by this gem of a wine bar.

One of the coolest surprises was their wine machines. With a prepaid card, you only had to swipe it through the machine to get the wine flowing. You were offered choices of red or white as a sip, a swirl or a savor. Depending on your desired palette, you had three different wine quantity options. How cool is that? And if you wanted more of one after a sip, then by all means fill ‘er up with a savor. Now that refillable card sits right next to my Starbucks card in my wallet.

On Friday nights they have special wine tastings that you sign up for in advance so you are assured a seat at this cozy and inviting location. You’ll savor six different high-quality wines paired with cheese and charcuteries out on the patio overlooking the beautiful lake.

The Grand Opening was a lot of fun, but I’ll be there again, next time Mommy needs a night out. Go check it out, you won’t be disappointed.

Savor The Precious Moments {GIVEAWAY}

‘Cherish these moments, it goes by fast’. If I had a dollar for every time I heard those words since becoming a Mom, I’d be a rich girl. It does go by fast. Seems like yesterday when my daughter was born. My first year of motherhood was one of the most challenging times in my life. I wished some of the days away. Many times through tears and with good reason, but even now I reminisce by looking at photos of her tiny features and memories of when she was small and cuddly. She is now two and a half and I’m planning her third birthday party. Where did the time go?

Photo Credit: Sherry McAnelly

Now, baby #2 is 5 months. I’ve savored every second. I find myself staring at his precious sleeping face, taking hundreds of photos, and enjoying touching his tiny toes. Very soon I know I’ll be looking back at photos of him, remembering the days when he was tiny too. Have you agonized over these moments as a Mom?

Don’t fret! I found a way to freeze time by preserving memories and you can too. Both with my daughter and son, I had their hand prints and footprints preserved by Lisa at Handprint Treasures.

 

Lisa did an amazing job with them using the colors of their nurseries. You can select from ornaments, plaques, shapes like hearts, surfboards, and rectangles. Not to mention all of the fun colors to choose from. We recently had both of their hands preserved for a sibling plaque. Precious moments to savor forever.

 

One lucky reader will win two ornaments from Handprint Treasures! Maybe a hand and foot or maybe two hands if you have two kids? Lisa is located in Foothill Ranch and on occasion works out of Carter’s at Irvine Spectrum. You can find her here.

HOW TO ENTER: Leave a comment telling me why you’d like to win and you will be entered in the drawing.

Random.org will select a winner on April 29th. Good luck and don’t forget to savor all of those precious moments.