We will never forget.

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We will never forget

This post is dedicated to the heroes of 9/11 and all the families, friends and loved ones affected by the tragic events of that day.

We will never forget.

Hug those you love just that much tighter ~ Give some extra “I love you’s” ~ Give someone a heartfelt compliment ~ Say a prayer for the grieving hearts ~ Do something unexpectedly fun with your kids and treasure their giggles ~ Reach out to a friend to tell them how much them mean to you  ~ Hold those you love close

We will never forget. 

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Confessions from a Mommy of Two

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Mommy Confessions 5

I have a mommy confession to make. Okay…several.  Here are my confessions from a mommy of two.  About parenting (have I perked your interest?).

Do you ever remember thinking during your pre-mommyhood days…”When I have kids, I will NEVER…(fill in the blank)”.  Or worse, “When I have kids, I will never let them…(fill in the many, many blanks).”

Ummm, yeahhhh. Fast-forward years later, I now have two active, rambunctious, bright, curious, mischievous, stubborn, loving, sweet, loud little kiddos, and I would like to respectfully retract quite a few of my pre-baby “rules.”  No matter how well intentioned.    Because now I’m a mom in the trenches.

Because as all of you mamas know, you live, you learn, you survive, you thrive, you fail, you succeed, you meltdown, you learn to live on little (or no sleep), you experiment…and you love your child more than you ever thought possible.

So here’s a message for my pre-kid self – being a mama is a LOT more challenging than you ever dreamed.  And it will be the most rewarding thing you will ever do.  So ease up on all of those “I’ll never” rules. Because you’ll throw quite a few out the window during the winding path of mommy hood.

Want a laugh?  Here you go – my top 10 things I swore I’d never do (obviously this was made before I had babies).

Top 10 Parenting Things I Swore I’d Never Do [That I Do Now]

10.) Let them wear mismatched or funky clothes.  In public.

I quickly learned to pick my battles. Polka dot shirts with striped pants, Halloween socks and a red Minnie Mouse bow was not a battle that was worth it.  My “rule” quickly turned to…if you’re clean and in clean clothes, you’re fine. Go for it. The fashion world is your oyster.

Mommy Confessions 1

9.)  Raise my voice (that sounds SO much better than yelling, doesn’t it?)

Granted, the majority of the time, my “raised voice” is to simply be heard over my very loud, lovable kids. But still…I was convinced that I would only yell if I absolutely had to for safety reasons.  (Does chasing my three-year-old around the house trying to shove his shoes on because we’re late to school, count??)

8.)  Spit on my hand…to fix their unruly hair. (Ewwww, I know.)

This is a no-brainer, right?  I actually caught myself doing this on picture day at school last year.  I was mortified.  Then, I realized it was either a “spit-do” or fly-away, frizzy hair on my little princess for her Pre-K picture.  Spit it is.

7.)  Become a short order cook.

I had listened to other moms complain about cooking several dishes per mealtime, and was quietly convinced that my future children would only eat what I cooked for the whole family.  Healthy, organic, fresh food with something represented from each food group.

I have been a mom for almost six years.  I have yet to master or enforce this concept.  I’ll let you know when it happens.

6.)  Feed them lots and lots of snacks…beyond the suggested 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. “snack times.”

The books I read (during my pregnancy) encouraged snack times twice a day.  Once mid-morning and once mid-afternoon.  Seemed simple enough.  Until I actually had kids (are you starting to see my pattern?).

Many days, one snack isn’t enough.  And whenever we climb into the car and they have been strapped in their carseats for .3 seconds, they are asking for a snack (I’ve learned that carseats somehow equal snack time).

So I feed my little munchkins their snacks…and Cheerios, granola bar flakes and cracker crumbs litter the floor of my car.  Yes, I give them more snacks at random times if they ask for it.  And yes, they still eat their full breakfast, lunch and dinner.  So I’ve learned to let this one go.

5.)  Demand privacy…(for going to the bathroom, showering, dressing – ha ha!)

This one is self explanatory.  Any parent understands this.  There is NO privacy.  Ever.  Part of the hazing process of motherhood.

Mommy Confessions 2

4.) Let them watch television. Sometimes, for more than 30 minutes at a time – gasp!

I read the studies, I talked to other moms, I talked with my husband, and we decided to greatly limit our children’s television time.  Of course we would!  We would be so busy being the best parents ever, we wouldn’t even have time to turn on the tv!  We would be too engrossed in teaching baby sign language, playing classical music, engaging our children in creative and sensory play, yada yada yada.

Almost six years later, I know every Disney Junior theme song, can recite Thomas the Train by heart (it haunts me in my sleep), and have seen every Pixar/Disney movie available.  Multiple times.

Not my proudest confession, but I think one of the most honest.  Although we DID the baby sign language, music class, gymnastics, swim, story time, park time, yada yada…I still let my kids watch tv.  And yes, sometimes for more than 20-30 minutes at a time.

3.)  Let them play with iPhones and/or iPads at restaurants.

This used to be one of my biggest pet peeves.  I was taught that mealtime was family time.  A time to talk and share about your day.

But actually having kids now (including a VERY squirmy toddler), I can certainly appreciate that an iPad can help…let’s say “bridge a gap,” during a restaurant visit with little kids.  Pretty much any restaurant that isn’t fast food.  So my rule is we all talk about our day first…before the iPad turns on.

2.) Bribe, bribe, bribe.

Now I’m not talking about “I’ll buy you a $20 train if you sit still during a Target run” – but, let’s be serious.  I have been known to use tv/computer screen time, fruit snacks, stickers, ice cream, a trip to their favorite park, dinner at Ruby’s, lollipops, etc. as bribes…whatever is an appropriate “incentive” at the time.  But I’d like to think I’m still choosy (this helps me feel better about the situation).

Mommy Confessions 4

1.) Beg.

“Please, please, PLEASE just…GO TO SLEEP.  NAP.  STOP SINGING MICKEY MOUSE ON REPEAT.  PICK UP YOUR TOYS.  REMEMBER TO FLUSH THE POTTY.  WASH YOUR HANDS. PUT ON YOUR SHOES. STOP THROWING THINGS DOWN THE STAIRS.”  The list goes on and on and on.  Said I’d never do it.  And, here I am.  As a mom, it’s inevitable!

Spill it, mamas!  What did you say you’d NEVER do, but do now that you have kiddos?  Let’s share the laughs and stories together!

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National Geographic Kids Club Fall Events

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Kids-Club

National Geographic Kids Club is sponsoring FREE monthly educational events this fall at the Los Cerritos Center mall and I am thrilled to share this awesome program with you.

The Monthly Kids Club events offer families (and shoppers!) one hour of free hands-on learning for kids ages 3 -12. The events will be based on a specific theme and activities will differ month to month.  One month will be an interactive craft-based event, the next will have the same theme, but include live animal demonstrations and other fun activities.

The next National Geographic Kids Club monthly event will be held this Saturday, September 14th, 2013 with the theme “Under the Sea” where kids will be invited to explore undersea adventures with crafts, interactive activities and live music.

I am going to take my girls to this event ~ I hope to see some of my readers there as well!

All Kids Club events are held held from 11am – 12pm in front of Forever 21. No reservations required. Just show up and be ready to have a good time, then grab lunch with the family afterwards at any one of Los Cerritos Center’s dining spots.

Families can also enjoy Kids Club activities at home, with fun interactive materials available online, at the mall and as a part of the Kids Club Newsletter.  To join the Kids Club Newsletter for free, click Sign up here to become a Kids Club Member at the top of the page.

I love that National Geographic has developed this program to give children an opportunity to learn more about science and nature – and love even more that they are providing these events free of charge for Southern California families.

Upcoming Kids Club Calendar 

Saturday, September 14

Time: 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Theme: Under the Sea

Activities: Crafts and performances

Saturday, October 12

Time: 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Theme: Under the Sea

Activities: Performances and live animal guests

Saturday, November 16

Time: 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Theme: Winter Wonderland

Activities: Crafts and performances

Saturday, December 14

Time: 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Theme: Winter Wonderland

Activities: Performances and live animal guests

Los Cerritos Center 

239 Los Cerritos Center

Cerritos, CA 90703

[Disclosure: Kids Club is a Tiny Oranges sponsor.]

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Islands New Gremmie Menu (+ $100 Giveaway!)

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Islands Kids Menu

This post is on the recently updated Islands Kid Menu offering healthier options for your little gremmies and I have two, yes, two, $100 gift cards to give away so you can take your family to check out the menu for yourself. Enter below!

I have a soft spot in my heart for Islands Restaurant.  I worked at the Islands Restaurant in Fountain Valley in high school as a hostess. It was “the” place to work in high school and I felt like hot stuff in my Hawaiian shirt, let me tell you!

Back in those days (22 years ago – gulp) a hostess asked, “How many in your party? Smoking or non?” Yes, it was so long ago, there were actually still smoking sections!

Well, a lot has changed since those days, good-bye smoking sections (thank goodness) and the uniforms are updated (no more Hawaiian shirts, short shorts and white tennies!) but Islands amazing menu offering the BEST burgers, fries and drinks remains the same, just better.

Islands fries are my favorite fries in the entire world.

Islands New Kids Menu 

Now that I am all growns up with kids of my own, I can fully appreciate Islands for not only the best french fries, but also as one of the best kid-friendly restaurants in Orange County.

Islands recently updated their Gremmie Menu for kids with new items for Little Surfers 6 & Under ($3.95) and those Older Surfers 7-12 ($5.09).


kids-menu

First off, how AWESOME is it to have less expensive options with smaller portions for little ones? So smart!

The updated menu also gives parents and their kids a chance to mix and match options while having fun dining out with the family.

Islands Kids Menu highlights include:

~ Grilled chicken sandwich

~ Fresh fruit with organic greek yogurt

~ Noodles with marinara or parmesan and butter

~ Veggie sides with ranch dip

Susanne and I were recently invited to check out the new menu, so we took our little gremmies for a weeknight Islands dinner. We love the Islands paper kids menus and activities to keep them entertained.

We ordered four different kids’ meals and asked for extra plates so we could give each gremmie a bite of the different entrees and sides.

Islands-Collage

I love that the Islands Kids Menu offers variety and more options rather than the same ‘ole same ‘ole kids menu standards.  With veggies, fruit, yogurt, salads and frozen fruit bars now on the menus for kids, there are lots more healthy picks for your little ones. Just make sure someone at your table orders the fries!

Islands Restaurants can be found all over Southern California. Click here to find the Islands locations nearest you.

Islands-Giveaway

Two lucky readers will win a $100 gift card to take your family! Winner must live in an area close to an Islands. Enter below. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

[Disclosure: We received a complimentary dinner to facilitate this Islands review. Mahalo Islands!]

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Bringing Sexy Back To Parenting

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Orange County Family Lawyer

I had a little chuckle when I saw our Sponsor, Orange County family lawyer, Darlynn Morgan‘s guest post title today and I was intrigued to find out how family estate planning could bring sexy back to parenting. But I have to say, she makes a very compelling argument. Make sure to read to the end of the post to get the info on her three free workshops this month.

Read on…

Bringing Sexy Back to Parenting 

“I’ll admit it. I was never a huge Ashton Kutcher fan until I watched his acceptance speech from the Nickelodeon Teen Choice Awards.

If you haven’t watched the clip yet, take the 4 minutes to do it. You won’t regret it. (This is Jen talking now – seriously – WATCH IT! I got the chills. Amazing message.)

Revealing that his real name is Chris, Ashton let his young fans in on the “secret sauce” to his success; namely that fame and fortune doesn’t just fall out of the sky, but is the result of a strong work ethic and opportunities that “look a lot like hard work.”

He also schools his ‘tween and teenage fans about the real meaning of “sexy”.

“Don’t buy it,” he said. “The sexiest thing in the entire world is being really smart, and being thoughtful, and being generous. Everything else is crap. I promise you.”

A powerful message for our kids indeed…but even more relevant for young, savvy parents who desire the very best for their kids.

Let’s face it. Every parent dreams of giving their children a beautiful home, nice clothes, top-of-the-line gear, luxurious vacations and even more opportunities than we may have enjoyed.

But living a truly fabulous and sexy lifestyle goes beyond just material things; it’s also about making SMART choices now to ensure your family is never robbed of those opportunities in the future.

No matter what your net worth or future goals are, every parent needs a crash course on how to protect their family from life’s risks such as lawsuits, divorce, financial problems or the death or incapacity of one or both parents.

These things can happen to anyone, but a there are a few easy, pro-active steps you can take to lessen the blow and enjoy the confidence knowing that your family would be prepared to ride out the storm.

Can confidently answer these questions about YOUR family?

~ I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that my kids would be raised by the people I WANT if something happens to me or my spouse.

~ If I’m temporarily incapacitated (…in a car accident, for example), I’ve created the legal documents necessary that would allow police or first responders to leave my kids with loved ones, and not place them in the care of social services until a judge shows up to make that decision (this is what they MUST do under the law!).

~ If something happens to me, I’ve put “speed bumps” around my children’s inheritance so they can’t blow their money at the vulnerable age of 18.

~ If I’m remarried, I know how to properly hold title to my house and “blend” our assets in a way that protects my kids from a previous relationship and my interests if I unexpectedly pass away or the marriage ends.

~ I have the RIGHT insurance and other financial protections in place to ensure my kids always enjoy the lifestyle I want for them if the unthinkable happens.

~ If you can’t confidently answer YES to any of these questions, NOW is the time to take back control of your financial future and learn how to get your legal house in order once and for all.

You may be scared to face your own mortality, or maybe you’ve never handled financial issues for your family… but learning how is empowering!

There is no greater peace of mind than knowing that you can take a romantic date with your spouse or head off on vacation without worrying about what would happen to your kids if something happened to you.

And the best part? You can learn how to implement these savvy legal protections for your family in a way that’s easy to understand, FREE and at a fun place here in Orange County (…or from the comfort of your own home!).

I’m talking about my Kids Protection Planning seminars, which are happening THIS MONTH at Xpecting, Granola Babies and via teleseminar.  Hundreds of smart OC parents have gone through our workshops and left feeling totally in control, empowered and equipped with an action plan to make great legal and financial decisions for the future.

What real OC parents have to say…

We recently had two children and knew we had to get our custody and financial distribution in order… Darlynn was so generous with her wisdom, time, and personal experiences. She gave honest opinions only when asked with no judgments given. Everything was very professional, timely, and easy to follow. Thank you! – Leane and Alex H., Glendale

My wife and I were ‘first timers’ and had a lot of estate planning questions, especially relating to protecting our two young boys. There is nothing scarier than the thought of what would happen to your children if you were gone. Darlynn truly cares, and it comes through. — Michael S., Irvine

We have been wanting to do it for awhile, but a trip out of the country propelled us to do it and stop procrastinating…. this was a great, easy process because of your sincerity, kindness and organization.  I loved how personable you are, and family friendly.  The process was very smooth and almost effortless on our part. — Jeff & Faith F., Santa Ana

We appreciated your thoroughness, professional presentation using visual aids, friendly atmosphere [and] the warmth of hospitality expressed. — Monte & Darleen H., Yorba Linda

Or, check out this post from Tiny Orange’s very own Susanne Henderson who blogged about her entire experience firsthand.

Three free workshops this month

So what are you waiting for?  Choose from one of the following dates and times and visit KidsProtectionWorkshop.com to register.

Attendance is free but seating is ALWAYS limited.  Bring your spouse, grab a girlfriend…you can even bring your kids, but RSVP now to ensure you have a space.

Xpecting Maternity

September 12th at 6 pm

Granola Babies

September 17th at 1 pm

Teleseminar (call in with your hubby in your jammies!)

September 18th at 8 pm

Come learn how building a fabulous lifestyle on a solid foundation and making SMART choices for the future can be fun after all!  Set the example of what is really SEXY for your family. They will thank you for it if the unthinkable happens.

[Disclosure: Morgan Law Group is a Tiny Oranges Sponsor]

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