Let Skincare by Victoria Pamper You…and Your Skin

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Listen up mamas; I’m about to let you in on a little secret. One that I had pretty much filed away and forgotten about until I was invited to experience a custom facial by our lovely new sponsor, Skincare by Victoria a little “me time” goes a LONG way.

One word. Heavenly. Absolutely heavenly (okay, that’s two words.)

Taking some much-deserved time and enjoying a bit of primping and pampering for yourself can recharge you for weeks.

You can recharge too, with a chance to enter to win a 60-minute custom facial from Victoria below! Make sure to enter AND forward this post to your hubby with a Mother’s Day is coming up (wink wink) reminder.

This darling Orange County spa is located in the Cannery Village in Newport, a charming French Chateau’esque retreat.

When I walked in, I was greeted by the owner, Victoria, an experienced and gentle licensed esthetician who has been practicing for 13 years, and just celebrated her grand opening in this location in February.

A cozy fire was already lit (perfect for the chilly April morning), candles were burning, soft music was playing, fresh roses were set out…and I felt all of the stress of wrangling the kids to school, fade.

This delightful spa is a quiet and peaceful one-room sanctuary that has all of the feminine touches and subtle elegance of someone’s home. I changed into a fluffy white wrap, cuddled into the heated and cushy massage bed, and thoroughly enjoyed every moment of my custom one-hour facial.

I was exfoliated, soothed with lotions, gently scrubbed, moisturized, and massaged, complete with soft cucumber eye pads and warm towel wraps.

Victoria asked me about my skin care routine, if I had any concerns, answered some of my skin questions.Has anybody else’s skin changed after they’ve had babies? Well, mine has! She was very knowledgeable in addressing the reasons. Then she let me know that this was my “me time.” We could chat (which we did – so nice to make a new friend!) or I could relax and enjoy the quiet…whatever I wanted.

She explained that she is all about improving the quality of her client’s skin, while letting them unwind and relax and enjoy some pampering. And, I needed it!

Victoria offers a variety of custom and specialty facials for all skin types, ranging from her mini facial (if you can only squeeze in a half hour), to her brightening facial or back facial, microdermabrasion and more…plus waxing and tinting services. She uses top-of-the-line skin products by Epicuren, which are only sold by medical doctors and licensed estheticians.

Don’t know which treatment to indulge in? Just ask her! She can recommend the perfect spa service for you – and right in time for Mother’s Day! So, treat yourself…or your own mama, best friend or aunt…to the perfect pampering experience. And, tell her I said hello!

Oh, and make sure to arrive a few minutes early to nab a good parking spot (metered spots available and they take credit cards!), and maybe even walk around this fun little area – so much to see and enjoy.

Hooray! It’s a Tiny Giveaway!

One lucky winner will receive a 60-minute brightening facial

(a $125 value!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was graciously treated to this one-hour facial, complimentary – Skincare by Victoria is a Tiny Oranges Sponsor…and we are SO glad she is! We hope your spa experience is just as fabulous!)

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Darling Acrylic Photo Blocks [Mother’s Day Gift Idea!]

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I have been a huge ErinCondren.com fan for years now and had to share my new favorite find I recently received as a sweet gift, Erin Condren’s darling acrylic photo blocks, which would also make a perfect Mother’s Day gift idea!

They have a special Erin Condren coupon code good for 40% off all acrylic products through April 30th, so if you think you might want to take advantage and order one for a Mother’s Day gift, get your order in today or tomorrow.

Now let me tell you my story on how I came to find out about these!

Las month I was supposed to go to a SMARTY OC event to hear Erin Condren speak in person. Excited wasn’t even the word.  I am a little obsessed with Erin Condren products, so It was going to be my own “like meeting Oprah” moment. Seriously.

Then Morgan goes and breaks her arm that same afternoon so I had to miss the event. BOO. My partner Susanne went and told Erin how sad I was to have to miss it.

That very next weekend my family went down to the beach and stayed at Crystal Cove. Erin Condren follows me on Instagram, and happened to see some of my family photos from our trip. In case you don’t follow me on IG, please do! This is me –> instagram.com/tinyorangesoc!

While we were at the beach, I snapped two of my favorite photos of all time of my girls and posted them on Instagram. Those images that capture your kids in a moment of pure joy. Loved those photos.

A couple weeks later, an ErinCondren.com box shows up on my doorstep out of the blue. In it were my two favorite Instagram photos displayed in these GORGEOUS acrylic photo blocks with “Crystal Cove 2013” in her signature colorful letters on the back.

I loved them so much I actually teared up! It is a very special family memory on display for me every day.

These would make a personal, thoughtful gift or would be so cute in a nursery or child’s room, or really, just anywhere. They are beautiful.

Thank you Erin for your thoughtfulness and for making my day a happy one!

[Disclosure: I received the photo blocks as a gift, but wanted to blog about them because I love them so much, and I know you will too. Erin Condren has been a long time friend and partner of Tiny Oranges.]

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Disney California Adventure Tips for Little Ones

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Okay, mamas – get ready for my Disney-theme follow-up – this one is all about my tips for visiting Disney California Adventure, a fabulous park that has LOTS of toddler-friendly, fun rides and activities. In case you missed my last post, here are my top 10 tips for visiting Disneyland with toddlers.

Here they are in no particular order…I hope these tips and tricks for visiting Disney California Adventure (or DCA) in Disney lingo!

Don’t Miss These Rides!

1.  “A bug’s land” is a great area for toddlers.  The rides are similar to “Fantasyland” at Disneyland – the Francis’ Ladybug Boogie is like the teacups, the Flik’s Flyers are like Dumbo, and so forth.  My munchkins love this area, and can easily spend awhile here.

Bonus?  There is a small splash pad to let the kids cool off on hot days, so make sure to pack a swimsuit, towels, sunscreen, etc. if you plan on getting wet

Note to mamas – the bug’s It’s Tough to be a Bug “live show” can be scary for little ones – it’s a cute show, but is “underground” and the majority of it is in the dark with…well…bugs.

2.  Cars LandA super fun “land” that tends to be one of the busiest places in the park to visit since its grand opening.  A word of advice – if you know that the Cars “Radiator Springs Racers” ride is really important to you and your kids, go straight to the FastPass line, like first thing when you enter the park (walk straight in, pass the Carthay Circle Restaurant on your left, and it is tucked in on the left). The ride is pretty awesome, but is typically a 90-minute+ wait.  FastPass is the only way to go, but they run out quickly.

I also have to give a shout-out to Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree.  Super cute ride, cute music and cute things to look at in line.

Note to mamas– most of the line is covered – important in warm weather!

If you can, try to be walking along the Cars Land “main drag” at dusk…they light up the streets and play music like they do in the movie (you know what I’m talking about if you’ve seen the movie 83 times, like I have).  Super cool and super cute.

3.  Take a ride with the Little MermaidI have never waited more than 10 minutes for this ride (usually five minutes!).  It is air conditioned, adorable, and my kiddos want to go on it multiple times.  Works for me!

Note to mamas – if your kids are uncomfortable in the dark, this ride is not for you.  I wouldn’t consider it scary at all, but you are “under the sea,” and there are pockets of darkness in between the singing and character displays.

4.  Love Toy Story?  My kids do.  The 4-D “Toy Story Mania!” is a must, but always has really long lines…with no FastPass option.  So if you know you want to do this, head over after you pick up your Cars Land “Radiator Springs Racers” FastPass and try to avoid the crowds.

Need a Break?

5.  Disney Junior – Live on Stage.  THE show to be at, according to my kids.  Yes, mamas.  There is an actual “live” show that  features Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Jake and the Never Land Pirates, Doc McStuffins and Sofia the First – interactive, air conditioned, and lots of room to squeeze in people (you sit on the floor…lots of room and I’ve never actually been turned away from a show…there always seems to be enough places to sit).  This show is so cute…and such a fun way to get off your feet, cool off, and enjoy seeing your kids go nuts over their favorite Disney Junior characters!

6.  The Redwood Creek Challenge Trail.  This is a cute play area next to the Grand Californian Hotel and Spa and is a GREAT place to let your kids run around and burn off some excited energy.  There is an obstacle course for the kids, caves to walk through, slides for little ones, a “zip line” for older kiddos, and even a chance to earn a “Wilderness Explorer badge,” by searching for clues (on a guided map).

Note to mamas – no strollers allowed, they must be parked outside of this area.

7.  The Grand Californian Hotel and Spa has cute little rocking chairs with fun, black and white Disney cartoons on televisions in their lobby, if you and your kids need a break to cool off.  You can enter from the DCA park, but remember – make sure to get your hand stamped for re-entry!  Also, the entrance to DCA from the hotel is reserved for hotel guests, so beware that you may have to re-enter the park from the main entrance if you plan to return.

Rumbly in our Tumblies

8.  We took our daughter to Ariel’s Grotto for a “princess lunch” on her birthday (they also do breakfast).  Oh.my.word.  This was SUCH a cool experience for both of my kids.  The food is fabulous (several courses from a fixed menu), the atmosphere is beautiful and Ariel and her princess friends are announced to the room, enter, and actually walk to each table to chat with you and take as many pictures as you want.

My little girl was in heaven.  When we were there, Sleeping Beauty, Belle, Cinderella, and Snow White were part of this experience (in addition to Ariel greeting each family as we walked down the staircase and into the dining room).  Make sure to call ahead for reservations (I would make them as far in advance as you can) – (714) 781-DINE or (714) 781-3463.  It’s a little pricey, but it is WORTH it!

9.  Disney California Adventure has lots of yummy places to eat, so you really can’t go wrong.  My personal favorite is the Pacific Wharf Cafe on the “Wharf” – they have great salads, fresh bread bowl soups, fruit, nice, plump sandwiches…yum! (Note to mamas – seating is outside on the wharf).

Keep an Eye Out for Characters

10.   On “Hollywood Lane,” we typically find the Disney Junior characters right outside of the Disney Junior – Live on Stage area.  Toy Story characters are usually on the Paradise Pier in the little gazebo across from the carousel.  We’ve seen Buzz Lightyear, Jesse the Cowgirl and Woody – super cute and rarely long lines.

Who else loves Disney California Adventure as much as my family does?  What tips and tricks do you have?  Please comment below and share your ideas!

 

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How to Find [and Keep] a Great Babysitter

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This post is about how to find, and keep, a great babysitter.

A great babysitter is not a luxury, it’s a necessity for any mom. But how do you find a great babysitter? And more importantly, once you find one, how do you keep her happy?

One of our Sponsors, UrbanSitter, a high-tech innovative site to search for sitters your friends use and love wrote some expert advice on how to find a great babysitter. Then, I share my  tips on the things I think are important to keep sitters happy (and coming back to help!)

Tips on How to Find a Great Babysitter

by UrbanSitter 

Are your Saturday nights met with an exhausted flop on the couch and a feeling of regret over not finding a babysitter (again)? Here are some ways you can find a sitter that is right for your family, and ways that UrbanSitter can help make the process easier for you.

1. Trust your friends for recommendations.

Now, we all know that good sitters are kept close to the heart. Your mom friends will most likely be reluctant to pass along names and numbers. UrbanSitter automatically connects you to hundreds of sitters through your friends and parenting associations (YMCA, child’s school, mother’s groups, etc.) so you get that element of trust along with the digital ease of scheduling jobs online.

2. Post a “Babysitter Wanted” on your local college’s job board.

Young people pursuing a degree are also often looking for part-time work. And you could strike gold by securing a sitter majoring in early childhood development. An even better and faster option would be to post a part-time job on UrbanSitter. It takes only minutes and you can then choose from the sitters who respond.

3. Find a babysitter who has experience with your kids’ age.

If you have an infant, but the neighborhood’s star sitter has never cared for a child under 3, you have a problem. Same with sitters who have zero history with second graders. Do your homework and find a sitter who’s qualified. UrbanSitter lets you filter by several categories: experience, hourly rate, location, response time, languages, and more. This way, you get exactly what you want.

4. Don’t break the bank.

If you are on a tight budget, but feeling a little spent (emotionally and physically), take solace in the fact that not all sitters are $20 an hour. Most babysitters base their hourly rate on their experience level. If you’re comfortable giving a “green”sitter your business, go for it! Trust your gut, of course, but sometimes a new-to-the-game sitter is very dedicated and determined to do a fantastic job. A sitter might also reduce her hourly rate if the children will be asleep the majority of the time. And one child is always cheaper. Perhaps consider taking the 5 year old, but leaving the baby? We all know caring for one child feels like a vacation. You have the option to search UrbanSitter for sitters who charge less and interview them. When you have hundreds of sitters to choose from, you’re sure to find one who has experience yet charges a reasonable rate. And you can negotiate!

How to Keep a Great Babysitter

by Jen 

I have been lucky to have have found two different fabulous long term babysitters over the last six years. Our babysitters have become like family members. When you find a great sitter, you want to keep them. Here are some simple things you can do to keep your sitter happy and hopefully in it for the long haul!

1. Communicate, communicate, communicate.

No one is a mind reader – be as direct as you can as far as what you expect from your sitter. For example ~ don’t want to return home to a mess? Tell her you would like her to have the kids help tidy up when they are done with something, so you don’t walk into a hurricane. The more you lay out your expectations, the more likely they are to help make things easier for you.

2. Round up $$$.

If you are close to the end time, but not quite there, pay for the entire hour. I think even a little extra goes a long way.

3. Don’t cancel last minute.

I know things come up, but if you book a time with a sitter, I recommend keeping your commitment when possible. They likely made their schedule around yours, and no one wants to feel like their time isn’t valued.

4. Compliment her!

Ever worked for a boss who had nothing nice to say? Not a very fun place to work, right? If you like something your sitter does, tell her! Compliment her! Encourage her! Everyone likes to work someplace where they feel appreciated.

5. Up your pay with increased responsibility.

If your situation changes and the sitter starts taking on more responsibilities, increase her pay accordingly.  Even it if is not by much, the gesture alone will make her feel like you appreciate the work she does.

6. Keep your kids in check. 

No one wants to be overworked or abused, right?! Sometimes when a sitter is at a kid’s beck and call, they can turn into demanding tyrants and will try to push boundaries to see what they can get away with. It’s natural, but NOT okay!

Set the expectations with your children ahead of time on how important it is to respect and listen to the babysitter. On the flip side, tell the babysitter what you expect of your kids so that she can appropriately remind them if needed. Sometimes I would overhear my kids forgetting their manners with my sitter, and I would quickly tell her that they need to say a “please” before responding to any request.

No one wants to be ordered around; make sure you let your sitter know you value how your children treat her.

Hope these tips help! Anyone else have tips to share on how to keep a great babysitter?

[Disclosure: UrbanSitter is a Tiny Oranges Sponsor]

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Unique Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

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With Mother’s Day right around the corner, I wanted to share my favorite finds for unique Mother’s Day gifts. Isn’t it remarkable how after becoming a mother, you instantly appreciate your own mother that much more? Because if anyone deserves something special, it’s definitely mom!

Here are some of my favorite unique Mother’s Day gift ideas…

Mother & Daughter Letter Book

In a world filled with emails, texts and facebook messages, the gift of a hand written letter is more meaningful than ever before. I love this mother daughter letter book because along with the set of 40 cards and envelopes, it also includes hundreds of inspirational ideas that encourage you to share tidbits about your life that you may not have thought to include. It’s a perfect gift for any mom, especially one that you may not get to see everyday. $38

Morse Code Necklaces

How cool are these morse code necklaces by jewelry studio COATT? The dots and dashes make up a word of your choice such as “Love”, “Luck” or, “Mom”. Necklaces are available in three different lengths and six different colors. Also offered as a bracelet. I’m totally hooked! $80

Plan a Picnic Date

I’ve always loved to give (or receive) an experience rather than a material gift. With this Rattan Picnic Basket from Pottery Barn you can do both. Fill this picnic basket with your mom’s favorite goodies and head off on a picnic date. If you need some ideas on what to pack, check out our Tiny Oranges summer picnic board on pinterest. $89

The Gift of Cozy

Do you want to let the special mom in your life know she deserves to kick back and relax? These pajamas from The Marigot Collection are the perfect way to do it. The line offers luxury cotton and cashmere options. I’d happily spend my Sunday mornings lounging around in any of these pretty prints. $120

Something to Make Her Laugh

Last but not least, there’s nothing better than giving your mom a chuckle and I guarantee this funny mug will make her smile! $14

What do you think, would you like to give or receive any of these? Do you have any Mother’s Day plans or traditions you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them.

 

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