Recipe: Bacon Burger with Caramelized Onions and Gorgonzola

I will be the first to admit, cooking is not my forte, and we often eat the same meals, a little too often, but I do enjoy finding the time (rarity) to cook something new! I was excited when I was challenged to create a gourmet burger.

I decided to create a Bacon Burger with Caramelized Onions and Gorgonzola!

First, to get some ingredients! Shopping with twin three-year olds is not always the easiest task, so I was happy to find that Winder Farms delivered almost everything I needed, straight to my front door, first thing in the morning!

Winder Farms is known as the ‘farmers market on wheels,” and has been delivering fresh products to families since 1880! This service is great for moms who value providing their families with healthy options, but don’t necessarily have time to make a trip to the local farmers market or specialty grocery stores.

Winder Farms delivers over 300 fresh products, straight from the farm, to families in Utah, Nevada, and California! Milk is delivered within 48 hours, baked goods are baked fresh daily, and the produce is always freshly picked. Everything they deliver also comes with a freshness and 100% satisfaction guarantee! To top it off, not having to drag the kids through the grocery store, is one less thing to stress about.

To prepare my gourmet burgers, I had my ground beef, applewood smoked bacon, yellow onions, organic baby spinach, and gluten-free hamburger buns, delivered directly to my doorstep!

Bacon Burger with Caramelized Onions and Gorgonzola

Ingredients:

  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 8 slices of Applewood Smoked Bacon, chopped
  • Large Yellow Onion (thinly sliced)
  • Splash of White Wine
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 4 Hamburger Buns, toasted
  • 2 oz Crumbled Gorgonzola Cheese
  • Baby Spinach

 

  • Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil and cook bacon. Transfer bacon to a plate and let cool.

  • Leave bacon drippings in pan and add onions. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the onions have finished cooking, deglaze the pan, by adding a splash of white wine. Transfer onions to a bowl and cover to keep them warm.

  • While the onions are cooking, combine beef and cooled, chopped bacon. Form them into four separate patties. Coat slightly, with extra-virgin olive oil.

  • Cook burgers on skillet on medium-high for about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare.

  • Place burger on toasted buns and top with caramelized onions, gorgonzola crumbles, and baby spinach.
Now, grab a tasty beverage. Sit down. Enjoy your creation!
Disclaimer: I received complimentary grocery delivery service from Winder Farms for this contest.

How My Daughters Got Their Zzzz’s Back!

Every mom knows it’s coming, but they can only hope it doesn’t happen too soon…the END of naps. My girls just turned 3, and we have been struggling with nap times for the last 7 months. I was ready to face the fact that naps were a thing of the past.

Having no naps was definitely starting to weigh on me and my husband. Bedtime was still a mess and the lack of sleep was turning my cute girls, into total grumps, from early afternoon, all the way through bedtime. If it was a miraculous day, and they did have a nap, bedtime was much later, much harder, and much more exasperating. It was a game that had a no-win outcome.

When my day ends in utter frustration, it snowballs into a frustrating evening for my husband too. He comes home from a long day, only to see the grumpy, overtired, meltdowns. I finally realized, we must be missing something. Kids need sleep.

If only our kids came with a sleep manual, right? Well, I may have just found one. Last Wednesday, I attended the general meeting for my Saddleback Mothers of Multiples Club.  The guest speaker was Michelle Donaghy, a pediatric sleep coach.

With a combination of things I learned in the meeting from the speaker, ideas from other moms, and some ideas of my own, I think I am finally starting to understand why naps were not working for us in the past. It’s been one week since, my light bulb was dusted off and turned on, and we can celebrate a victory; the girls have napped 6 of the past 7 days.

When it comes to sleep, the key hormones to remember are melatonin and cortisol. The levels of these hormones in your body change throughout the day, which is why it is easier to fall asleep at certain times. Melatonin, increases in the absence of light, and gets us ready to drift off to sleep. Cortisone is a hormone that keeps us awake and alert.

We’ve all said, our kids got their “second wind,” but did you ever wonder why that happens?

Melatonin, a hormone produced naturally in your brain, that tells your body to go to sleep, plays a role in the regulation of our body’s natural clock or circadian rhythms. Healthy adults and children get a hormone of melatonin about 30 minutes before they get sleepy.

Research showed that kids who were put to bed about 30 minutes after their melatonin surge, fell asleep faster.  Kids whose bedtimes were not in sync with their melatonin surge had bedtime resistance. Furthermore, our bodies like to compensate, so if we miss the “sleepy window,” our body knows we need more energy, and gives us a shot of cortisol, or the “second wind” as we mommy’s call it! Once this cortisol kicks in, your task of getting your child to sleep, just became a thousand times harder.

Sleep is important, for everyone, so it’s important to understand your child’s window of wakefulness, or the length of time you can expect your child to stay awake without having a meltdown. So, approximately, when does this melatonin kick in?

For a 3-year old, the magic number seems to be 6. So, if your child wakes up at 7 a.m., then their nap should be six hours later, at 1 p.m. The other day my daughters woke up at 6:30 a.m. and we went in their room just after noon, to dim the lights, begin quiet time, read books, and amazingly, they were asleep at 12:30 p.m.

The sleep schedule is not perfect and I can not say it’s easy, but there is improvement. Let me address some of the sleep problems and solutions we have encountered.

Problem: With no naps, my daughters were not getting enough sleep during the day, resulting in overtired, grumpy, irritable children.
Solution: A 3-5 year old needs about 12 hours of sleep. If they sleep 11 hours at night, a 1 hour nap during the day would be ideal! When they take a nap, they usually wake up refreshed and happy!

Problem: Naps were not working. I finally gave up.
Solution: Remember your child’s magic numbers! For a 3-5 year old, the awake window is 6 hours, so begin your nap routine at about 5.5 hours. The next magic number is 4-5 (for my kids it’s about 5). Once they wake up from nap, they have 4-5 more awake hours before bedtime. If your child wakes up from nap at 3  p.m., then bedtime should be between 7-8 p.m.

Problem: My kids were waking up way too early.
Solution: According to the sleep coach, at this age, your child should not be awake in the morning before 6 a.m. and should not go to bed at night, past 8 p.m. To keep my girls in bed in the morning, we use the Onaroo  OK to Wake! Alarm Clock, or “Buggy,” as we call him. He turns green at 6:45 a.m. which tells the girls that it is okay to get out of bed.

ProblemOur house is loud. You can hear every noise that is made upstairs, when you are in their bedroom.
Solution
: Thankfully, the girls have shared a room for long enough, that they have had to endure sleeping through another screaming kid. We also keep a fan in their room, turned on high, for background noise. The fan is turned on during quiet time, at nap and bed time, and stays on until they wake up.

ProblemGetting the girls to nap or even go to bed between 7 and 8 pm in the summer, when the sun is still up, is near impossible.
Solution: Keep the room dark. Your body releases melatonin (sleepy hormone) and that hormone increases in the absence of light. We use black out curtains to keep the room nice and dark and begin reading in the room 20 minutes before naps or bed time.

Problem: When they did nap, bedtime was awful!
Solution: Never wake a sleeping baby, no longer applies here. If my kids slept 11 hours last night, then I am not going to let them sleep more than 1 hour for nap time. Also, I won’t let them sleep later then 3 p.m or longer then 90 minutes. At this age, they may not nap every day, and that’s okay. In the past 7 days, they took a nap for 6 of them. Bedtime was a little rougher than normal on the day they did not nap, but, overall, we are getting … well.. somewhere.

Problem: Once the girls are in bed, it’s “I need a drink of water,” or “I have to use the potty.”
Solution: The first one is easy, I always bring their water bottles to their bedroom. The second one was driving me nuts! Once one has to potty, the other one has to potty and if I’m tucking them in alone, if I leave the room to take one, the other one would be behind me, or worse, jumping on the bed, turning on the light, or running upstairs. Bedtime just became a huge mess all over again! I try to get them to use the potty before bed, sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t, but now I bring in the training potty that we used when we were potty training. If they have to go once they are in bed, they sit on this little potty, in the dark room, no distractions and no more leaving their bedroom. The majority of the time, they sit on the potty but don’t go. They were just looking for an excuse to leave the room.

Problem: Some nights, keeping two small kids in their beds is nearly impossible. While they run around in the dark, laughing because it’s hysterical, I grab one child, put her back in bed, and the other one jumps out.
Solution: Lock the bedroom door. Seriously. While I am putting one back in bed, the other will bolt for the door and bee-line it upstairs, laughing and screaming. I’m sure you know, kids love rewards and stickers. So, I made a cupcake chart to reward their positive bedtime manners. If you can stay in bed and be quiet during rest time and bed time, you get a sticker. Once you get 10 (it was going to be 20 but thet may take months) you get a cupcake! They both have blankets and dolls that they LOVE to sleep with. If they get out of bed and scream, they get a warning. Next, they lose their cupcake sticker, then a blanket or a doll or something they want to keep in their bed. So far, all of these tactics combined have helped with the bedtime manners.

Problem: I have to stay in their room until they are almost asleep, and the storm is calm, or there will be chaos.
Solution: Unfortunately, I’m still in this stage. I do stay in their room, on the floor, to make sure they stay in bed, are not screaming and not tackling each other. I do leave when they are not completely asleep, but very drowsy. I give them both a kiss, tell them good night, say I love you, and leave the room. I’m hoping with consistency and A LOT of patience, I will be able to leave the room after tucking them in once, but for now, we are hanging in there.

Naps were such a struggle over the past 7 months, that really, we just gave up. We have had a miraculous break though in the past week, where they have napped 6 out of the 7 days. I know they are not going to nap every day, and that’s okay. As long as we are consistent with quiet time, follow the awake hours, and carry on with as much patience as I can muster up at the end of the day, I know things will (hopefully) get easier.

Victory: My girls finally got some Zzzzz’s back!

Cal Elite Kids: The One Stop Shop

I’ve been excited for the girls to turn three because I have wanted to sign them up for gymnastics or dance class. They are old enough to be in a class with just the teacher, and not a mommy and me class, and they are old enough to tell me what they do and do not like, which they happen to be great at!

The mommy and me classes do not always work for a mommy of twins. I could never do the parent and me swim, because I was outnumbered. We tried a parent and me soccer class, but when they knew I was there, one would get clingy and one would get crazy. The mommy and me gymnastics was hard, because while I was helping one, the other one was probably jumping off the highest balance beam she could find. Mommy and me classes typically equaled stress for Mommy.

Finally, they could be in a class, that they picked themselves, and I had the opportunity to sit back, relax, and enjoy watching them do something they love.

We stumbled upon a wonderful facility, Cal Elite Kids, in Rancho Santa Margarita, that offers a variety of programs including dance, gymnastics, swimming, tumbling, preschool and so much more! They also allow you to try your first class for free, which was magnificent!

First we tried gymnastics. My girls are balls of energy, so I was certain this would be the class they would choose. They were in the Tumblebees program, which is a 45-minute class designed for 2.5 to 4 year olds. It was absolutely adorable and I was pretty sure the deal was sealed when they saw the long trampoline they got to run across! But of course, I wanted to give them the opportunity to try the dance class before we made a decision.

So we did a trial class of preschool dance. They were in the Twirly Bees class, another 45-minute class designed for 2.5-4 year olds. The dance class started off with ballet. It was super cute, but I was still sure the trampoline from gymnastics would win their vote. Then, they got to put on tap shoes. Contest over. Dance wins. Shoes, that make music, on the floor? They were over the moon excited. All they want to do is wear their tap shoes now.

We also did a trial class of preschool swimming. The Waterbugs class is a 30-minute class designed for 2.5 to 4 year olds. There is a 4:1 student / teacher ratio in the class. They are introduced to age appropriate skills, that will progressively teach them how to swim.

Cal Elite Kids is fabulous and the prices are definitely competitive which is super important when you’re paying for two! It’s your one stop shop for classes, open gym, and yes, even parent’s night out!

Every Saturday night, parent’s night out is offered for children ages 3 and up, who are fully potty trained. You can drop them off from 5:30 – 9:30 p.m. for $22 per child or 5:30 – 11:30 p.m. for $32 per child! If you haven’t had a night out in a while, here’s your opportunity, and you know your kids will be having a ball while you are gone!

We are so glad we found Cal Elite Kids and look forward to watching our girls faces light up with excitement, every time we walk in their front door!

Cal Elite Kids
22982 Avenida Empresa
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA. 92688
Ph. (949) 589-1512
http://calelite.com

 

The Ultimate Preschooler Birthday Party

First of all…how is it even possible, that the girls just turned 3? I am completely baffled by that number. It seems like just yesterday I was holding two 5 pound babies in my arms!

Moving on…I think I may have found the ultimate, preschool-aged, birthday party venue!

This past weekend, the girls celebrated their 3rd birthday, with 14 of their friends, at Pump It Up in Lake Forest. The party was private, so the kids had the entire place to themselves for two hours!

What could be better than throwing a fabulous birthday party, at a super fun place to play, where jumping is allowed, screams and giggles are welcome, pictures can be taken for you, it was completely stress-free and best of all, you get to leave the mess behind!

There are several different packages to choose from when booking your party, which can be done online, over the phone, or in person. 

We went with the deluxe package for 15 kids, which included access to the exclusive, Pump It Up invitation system (making evites a breeze), 80 minutes of private play (40-minutes in each arena), 2 slices of pizza per child, bottled water for each child (you also have the option of soda or juice), set-up, clean-up, paper goods, party photos, and amazing hosts! All we needed to bring was the cake!

40 minutes in Arena 1:

40 Minutes in Arena 2

40 Minutes in the Party Room

There are several other options you could add to your package if you choose, including additional party food (or you can bring your own approved food and beverages), party experiences (Go Glow!, Pirate Quest, Super Hero Training Quest, Boppin Balloon Bash), goodie bags and more!

Some important things to consider before booking your party, for safety reasons, children under 34″ are not permitted on the inflatables. Everyone who plays on the inflatables, must wear socks. Adults can play too!! In fact, I have had so many parents make the comment, “I’m not sure who had more fun, the kids or adults!” and I couldn’t agree more!

We had such a fun time celebrating the girls’ birthday, that I would highly recommend checking out your nearest Pump It Up, to celebrate your little one’s next birthday bash! 

Pump It Up Irvine 16871 Noyes Ave, Irvine
(949)261-7867
Pump It Up
Lake Forest
26242 Dimension Drive, Suite 100, Lake Forest
(949)951-9663
Pump It Up
Huntington Beach
16351 Gothard St Suite C, Huntington Beach
(714)847-9663
Pump It Up Anaheim Hills 5397 E. Hunter Ave, Anaheim Hills
(714)693-9663

Twin Toddlers and a Puppy

I’ve heard a lot of people say that age 2 is hard, but age 3 is harder. Since my girls were about to turn 3, the only sensible thing to do, to make life easier, would be to get a puppy!

Meet (Mama) Mia! She was born in mid-March and is an Australian Shepherd and Terrier Mix. 

Okay, now to justify my crazy thinking, for all of you who are laughing right now. I grew up with two dogs, and having those dogs, was a huge part of my childhood, that I will cherish forever. They were part of my family, and I loved them so much!

I wanted the girls to have the same experience, and grow up with a furry best friend. There isn’t a day that goes by (sometimes an hour) that I don’t hear one of them say, “I love Mia so much!” or “She is the best dog ever!”

I’ve been asked, why would you get a dog, when you are still in the potty training phase with twins? Here’s my answer, after the initial phase of potty training, I am so de-sensitized from anything that comes out of a human or animal, I felt like now was a perfect time to potty train a puppy!

When tantrums are thrown or the witching hour is approaching, nothing is like a bigger breath of fresh air, then that adorable ball of fur, always by my side.

We adopted Mia through I.C.A.R.E. Dog Rescue. The entire litter of puppies was dumped off at a dog groomers, and a good friend of mine, was actually the foster Mom for Mama Mia and one of her brothers.

I.C.A.R.E. Dog Rescue is a non-profit, all-breed, no kill dog rescue. They rescue dogs at risk of being euthanized from shelters, as well as abandoned, abused, and stray dogs. They also rescue many dogs that have been surrendered by their owners, for various reasons. They are a 100% volunteer-run and supported organization, that cannot survive without the help of loving fosters, volunteers, and benefactors.

We finally had the chance to meet Mia at an I.C.A.R.E. adoption event, at a PetSmart in Lake Forest. My husband knew, the moment I held Mia in my arms, she was going to be joining our family that night. She is absolutely, the sweetest dog, I have ever met, and we are thrilled to add her as the newest member of our family! 

If you wait for the perfect timing, you’ll wait forever. We have talked about getting a dog for quite a while but we never knew when that day would actually come. When we met Mia, at PetSmart, we just knew in our hearts, it was meant to be.

“Mamma mia, here I go again
My my, how can I resist you!”
(Mamma Mia by ABBA Lyrics)

Stay At Home vs. Working Mother

Before you clicked on this blog post to read it, you may have read the title and already felt some hostility depending on which side of the “vs.” you are on.

I’ve often been asked, are you happy that you are a stay at home mom? And although there are days, sometimes hours within my days, where I would contemplate running away screaming, begging for the first company, who is hiring, to pick me up, or find myself in a little ball in the corner in tears, the answer is yes, I am happy being a stay-at-home mom.

Although I have been blessed, to own my little company, and work from home, part-time, I often find that there is so much hostility and negative judgment that goes on between the working and non-working mothers.

It’s human nature to feel envious or resentful towards others. Whether you work full-time, part-time, or stay-at-home, motherhood is always going to be synonymous with guilt. I can’t stand the comments and the banter that is made on why one mother is better than the other. It’s like a boxing match of hurtful comments.

If you go to work, it’s for a reason, maybe to pay the bills, maybe to climb the corporate ladder, or maybe even for sanity and just doing something for you. All mothers make sacrifices for their families. Stay-at home moms may be sacrificing a career that they once loved. I hate the perception that stay-at-home moms do nothing all day, or have it easy, or that working moms care more about their careers than their families. These comments are extremely hurtful, and mothers in general need to start being less critical of others. I don’t think life is easy for any mom.

Being a mother, is single-handedly, the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I’ve spent hours in tears, gone through bouts of depression, felt extremely isolated, overwhelmed and unappreciated. I’m sure having two babies at the same time, and no family close by, often intensified the situation, making me feel trapped, because it was just easier to stay home, then go out.

My point is, we are all under pressure to be super mom. We are all trying to do what is best for our families and our children. Not everyone is able to make the decision to stay home or to go to work. Some moms may have made one decision but now wish they could do the opposite.

If you are not physically with your kids, you are worrying about them. Working moms may face the challenge of transitioning to the parenting role when they come home and stay-at-home moms may struggle to break the monotony of day-to-day life, which is the same routine, seven days a week.

I just want to live in a world without all the hate, resentment, negativity, and hostility. We are so quick to judge another mother, whom we barely even know, because she has chosen another path in life, or maybe that path has chosen her.

We are moms. We all have something in common. We all live in guilt. We all wonder if we are doing the right thing, but most importantly, whether we work or stay-home, we will always be super mom in the eyes of our children. I think we can all agree that those are the eyes that matter the most.  

Whether you go into the office, or stay home with your kids, we all wear the red cape that says Super Mom. I don’t like being categorized as ”working mom” or “non-working mom,” because those titles bear judgment, which leads to automatic hostility. No matter what you do, when it comes to your family, you will always be…  “Mom.”

13.1 Milestone: Lessons Learned

hollsToday, was the day, I ran 13.1 miles as a participant in the 16th Annual Laguna Hills Memorial Day Half Marathon. Wait. Whaaaat? Yah, I know, I’m kind of in disbelief too.

I finished my first half marathon with a time of 2:03:23. I ran strong for the first ten miles, but struggled and had some pain in the final three. When I crossed the finish line, nothing else mattered, I felt like I was on top of the world.

Running my first half marathon was a huge accomplishment, for a girl who used to have an, “I’m only a sprinter, why run further than 400 meters anyway?” attitude.

I have learned a lot about myself since I started running last October.

PATIENCE
I’ve learned patience. Patience has never been my best virtue. Okay let’s face it, I am impulsive and when I get an idea, I just want to do it… now…seriously… right now. I joined a run club in mid-October of last year. The purpose of the run club was to train for a 10K in December. What do I do? Sign up for a 10K in November, just to make sure I can do it. I was not ready, not properly trained, and by the end of the race, miserable in a lot of pain…for days! Lesson learned. I trained for 12 weeks for this half marathon. I added mileage to my weekly long run one mile at a time. If I felt pain, I stopped. I listened to my body. The result was finding the patience to run for two hours and cross the finish line with the biggest smile on my face and the biggest sense of accomplishment. I worked hard for this moment.

RUN YOUR OWN RACE
I used to sprint, which means my focus, was only on the finish line, with the hopes of running as fast as possible to beat as many people as I could. When I am running long distance, I have finally accepted that I am in competition with no one but myself. I’m not running to be better than anyone else, besides myself. I just want to be a better person and better runner than I was yesterday. I’ve learned to pace myself. Today, when the gun went off, I knew to pace an easy first mile, because that’s how I had always run in my training. I had swarms of people running by me left and right. I didn’t care. I was in my own world. I was running my own race.

run

ACCEPT DEFEAT
I’ve learned that I need to appreciate and enjoy the days that I just had a great run. Some days, I can run eight miles without a care in the world, and other days, I feel like I’m going to collapse on the ground after just a mile. Me and running don’t always get along, actually, some days running just sucks. As in life, bad days are going to happen. They can be very discouraging, but most of the time, my next run is so much better. I keep telling myself, if it were easy, everyone would do it too. It could be my stubbornness or determination but I’m not going to give up. If I get knocked down, I will get up again (you’re never gonna keep me down).

MedalSET A GOAL
In order for me to stay focused and committed to my training, I have to have a goal that will keep me driven and motivated. My next race is already lined up, theDisneyland Half, in late-August. Since that is three months away, I would not be surprised if a another race pops up on my plate in the near future.

POSITIVE ATTITUDE
In life, a positive attitude is everything. In the past, I had convinced myself that I would never run a half marathon because I was not capable of achieving that goal. I was a sprinter. My body was not made to run long distance. When in reality, I did not have the patience nor the desire to put in the training, to prove myself wrong. When I go for a run and have a positive attitude, feeling great, and excited to get started, my run is usually awesome. When I go out the door, not really feeling it, my run usually sucks. It’s important to train your brain like your train your body. Today, before my race, I felt excited, focused and determined, and, at least for the first ten miles, had a great run! 90% of your race is your mental state that day. So smile, and be positive and make it a great run!

Although a little sore, I feel great this evening. I feel proud of my accomplishment. After so many years, I finally beat out the little voice in my head that always told me, “You can’t,” and never believed in me. That little voice was a liar. Today, I went the distance, for nobody else except myself.

Memorial Day Half

Lil’ Kickers Soccer Class

Now that the girls are starting to find their coordination and utilize their listening skills (sometimes), we decided to give soccer another go. I found a living social deal that included three introductory children’s soccer classes, for $20, at Lil’ Kickers!

Lil’ Kickers offers 50-minute classes, in both Garden Grove and Irvine, for children, 1.5 to 9 years old. Today, we were in the Cottontails Class (age 2.5 – 3.5) at the Irvine location. The Bunnies (18-24 months), Thumpers (2-3  years), and Cottontails (2.5-3.5), are parent and child classes, so parent involvement is required.

The class is designed to build some fundamentals like coordination, ball kicking, balance, dribbling the ball with your feet, and the biggest lesson of all, not to run around the field, carrying the ball in your arms.

This was the second week the girls were in class, and it was great to see the progression they had made already. There were several moments where my husband and I were able to step back and watch the girls participate, versus the week prior, where we had to help guide them a lot throughout the class. I love watching them grow and become independent.

Class started out with introductions.

Followed by some serious stretching.

Then we worked on sharpening our skills.

We played a lot of fun games, like Red Light, Green Light, (Yellow Light, Blue Light).

And one of my favorites, the Birdie game. The soccer field was the sky, and the players were the birds. They flew (ran) around the field until they were told they had to go protect the eggs (soccer ball) in their nest. When the eggs were in danger, the “birds” flew back to the nest and put one foot on the “egg” to keep them safe.

Lil’ Kickers was a lot of fun and the girls are excited to go back again next week!

For more information on Lil’ Kickers, you can visit their website at http://www.lilkickers.com! Registration is always open so you can sign up at any time. If you are new to Lil’ Kickers, you can try your first class for free! I’m sure your kids will have a ball!

Go Team!

Time for a Pediatric Dentist Check-up!

Yesterday, my girls were scheduled for their first dental cleaning. Naturally, I was nervous.

The first dental visit, which was a quick visual inspection of their teeth, resulted in a long wait, lots of tears, and a frustrated mommy.  I knew that was not going to be the dental office for us, so I was already dreading future dental visits with toddlers.

After a year slipped away from that unpleasant experience, I realized it was time to schedule their first cleaning. I decided to go to my twin mommy’s and ask them for help in selecting the right dentist. I immediately had referrals coming in, and reassuringly, they were all for the same person, Dr. Tina Azin, in Rancho Santa Margarita.

These moms could not have been more right! Everything about this dental office was perfect! From the moment you walk in, you feel like you’re at a tropical beach. The staff greeted us right away, and the girls headed straight into the Tiki Hut, where they found toys, and video games.

We signed in and were happy to find out they were a paper-free office, so a few digital signatures and we were ready to go! The girls were called back right away and were seen at the same time, which is fabulous you have multiple children!

The girls climbed in their chairs and were excited about the “ride,” as the chair reclined backwards. What was even more exciting, was the fact that there were TV’s on the ceilings that were playing our all time favorite movie, Frozen! Katarina and Danny were the Registered Dental Assistants that did the cleanings and they were fabulous!

I was in shock. The girls laid back in their chairs, listened to Katarina and Danny, and had their teeth cleaned, flossed, followed by an application of fluoride, and they were 100% cooperative the entire time! It was like watching a movie. Were these my kids?

After their cleaning, the girls received a goody bag, which to a toddler, was like receiving a pot of gold.

Next, Dr. Tina (Azin) came over for one final look. She counted Katelyn’s teeth and Kate was surprised to find out there were 20 in there! When it was time to count Chelsea’s teeth, Katelyn helped Dr. Tina count. She wanted to make sure sissy had 20 in her mouth too! (She did.)

Overall, the dental visit was amazing. The girls did great, the staff was wonderful, and they can’t wait to go back for their next check-up! Finding the right pediatric dentist is so important. Our girls felt so comfortable here, from the moment they walked in the door. We hope to continue visiting Dr. Azin’s office as long as possible!

 

Racing for a Cure

So, why do you race?

Testing your limits? Focus on fitness? A sense of accomplishment? An adrenaline rush?

I run for all of these reasons, but to me, there is no greater race, then running for a cause, and raising awareness, and funds, for something you are extremely passionate about.

On Sunday, I raced in the 16th Annual Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation (PCRF) Reaching for the Cure, 10K Run. The race was part of the Renegade Race Series and took place over two days, March 29-30, at Irvine Valley College.

This race meant more to me than words can say. About a year ago, I met the sweetest little boy, Brody, and his amazing mother, Elizabeth, at a local Fit4Mom class. He immediately stole our hearts with his loveable smile. After talking to his mom, I found out Brody, was actually a cancer survivor.

Brody was born on February 20, 2011. He was always a happy baby. Around 8 months old, he began to have trouble keeping his food down, was vomiting daily, and coincidentally, tilting his head to one side. The pediatrician and specialists suggested that physical therapy and reflux medications should help. After numerous sessions and trying different medications, Brody’s vomiting only increased and his weight dropped substantially. His parents rushed him to the emergency room to demand answers.

On January 13, 2012, a CT scan revealed that Brody had a 2 inch by 2 inch tumor on his brain stem. He was admitted to Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) and scheduled for surgery three days later. The neurosurgeons removed 99% of the tumor. The risky surgery was successful, at least they thought.

A week later, Brody’s parents received the devastating news the Brody had atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor (AT/RT), an extremely rare and aggressive form of brain cancer. According to statistics, only 30 children in the US are diagnosed with AT/RT each year. The neurosurgeon explained that even after surgery and chemotherapy treatment, Brody would have a very low chance of survival, roughly 10%.

His parents learned about a doctor at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles who specialized in brain tumors, as the basis of 20 years of research. Under his guidance, Brody began the fight of his life. His treatment lasted 7 months and included 2 rounds of intense chemotherapy, 3 rounds of high-dose chemotherapy, followed with stem cell rescue, and 28 sessions of intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) photon radiation.

Brody completed treatment in August 2012, and has been cancer free ever since.

Each year, cancer kills more children and adolescents than any other disease. I was completely shocked to learn that pediatric cancer research only receives 3.8% of the total funding raised for cancer research each year! During the PCRF Reaching for the Cure Ride/Run race, 80% of all funds raised, go directly to research! Pediatric Cancer Research, saved Brody’s life.

This weekend, I ran for Team Brody.

Over 100 members signed up to be a part of Team Brody, to raise awareness for Pediatric Cancer Research. Team Brody, alone, raised over $8,000!

I’ve heard many people say, they are running for their lives. This weekend, over 7,000 people gathered in Orange County, to not only run or walk for their own life and health, but to take strides, to bring hope, and fund the crucial research we desperately need, to cure childhood cancer.

For updates on Brody’s progress, please follow his Facebook page:
Blossoms for Brody www.facebook.com/pages/Blossoms-for-Brody/170995623005581