Rabbit Rabbit! – A Fun Family Tradition

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A Cute Family Tradition for Good Luck

(I know Easter is over, hope you are not bunny-ed out yet!)

Rabbit Rabbit! is a fun family tradition for good luck I have been doing with my mom and brother since I was little and now do with my own kids.

On the first of every month you say “Rabbit Rabbit!” to whoever is playing and if you are the first to say it you get the good luck for that month.

Bonus: if you are first to say it on Jan 1st, you get good luck that month and the whole year!

It’s easy, you have lots of chances to win and who doesn’t want good luck, right?

So if I say “Rabbit Rabbit!” first to my daughter she still has a chance to say it first to her brother, dad and grandma.  And the game starts over every month, so there are many many opportunities for luck.

Aside from the winning good luck, it is a fun tradition that has ensured that I call my mom on the first of every month even if I’ve just talked to her the day before.

As a mom myself now, I hope that when my kids grow up, we continue this tradition because it’s a great way to make sure to stay in touch even when things are busy and we might otherwise forget or put it off.  I know my mom looks forward to the “Rabbit Rabbit!” call each first of the month as much as I do!

What easy and fun traditions does your family have? Do you have any family traditions for good luck?

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Setting Smart Phone Boundaries

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Keeping Families Connected in a High Tech World


Note from Jen: This is a topic I know many moms struggle with (including myself) so I am thrilled to share this article by Dr. Lori Aleknavicius, Psy.D. on keeping families connected in a high tech world.  

This is not a post to make you feel guilty about using your smart phone!! What mom needs more guilt?  

She simply offers information on the importance of face-to-face interactions and fun ideas on how to keep your family connected in this high tech world.

I love her advice on setting smart phone boundaries, I hope you do too. 

Keeping Families Connected in a

High Tech World

by Dr. Lori Aleknavicius, Psy.D.


The New Modern Family 

As a first response, most people would define family as the stereotypical structure of two parents and their children living in the same home, with extended family being grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and so on.

However, looking at modern families there is clearly a new, and massively influential and powerful addition present in most people’s families – the smart phone.

Just have a look around, you’ll see.

Parents’ time, attention and focus are frequently consumed by their phones with texting, surfing and updating social media sites, taking pictures, checking calendars, searching for information online, using maps/finding directions, checking online grading systems for their children, organizing play dates, setting up appointments, playing games, staying abreast of sports scores, and so much more.

Children and teenagers are doing much of the same with their own smart phones, or their parents’ smart phones.

Everywhere you look you can see people on their smart phones – at restaurants, in the park, walking the dog, at sporting events, in the car, even in the bathroom! There is no escape, or so this new addition seems to want to make us think.

Just the other night, I saw a table of 5 family members (3 children and 2 parents) at a local eatery – none of them were talking to each other, or even looking at each other.

Instead, they were each staring at their own smart phone (or other similar gadget) while waiting for their food to arrive.

But, ask them what they did on Friday night and they would surely tell you that they went out to dinner as a family. Although they would not be telling a lie, their response also would not be the full truth.

A Disconnect Epidemic 

This sort of un-interaction and focus on technology is slowly becoming the new norm within families, romantic relationships, and friendships in our society.

In my work as a Clinical Psychologist I am seeing a trend of extremely disconnected families. Parents are not connected to one another, or their children.  Likewise, children are not connected to their families.

Instead of truly talking or relating to one another, we have transitioned to high levels of being in close physical proximity to our loved ones, but being more distant than ever.

The reality is the smart phone is here to stay. We all know that.

What this generation of parents has to navigate is finding a healthy way to co-exist with technology within the family without sacrificing essential interactions.

Setting Smart Phone Boundaries

My advice on this matter is to set boundaries and limits for smart phone usage (for yourself and your children), and challenge yourself and your family to go back to or try out new ways of relating/connecting.

Time spent together as a family is critical for child/adolescent development, maturation, and emotional and social well-being.

Finding ways to unplug from our smart phones and computers and connect/re-connect with our family members is a very big deal.

Ideas to Connect as a Family Technology-Free

Here is a beginners list of ideas to keeping families connected. Give these activities a try with no phones allowed (not even for pictures!):

1. Visit a family friend or relative that you haven’t seen in a while

2. Go to a community event together

3. Cook or bake together

4. Take a class together

5. Play a board game together

6. Play outside together

7. Take a sporting lesson together

8. Paint together

9. Garden together

10. Read books together

11. Listen to music together

12. Clean/organize together

13. Pick up a hobby together

14. Try something new together

15. Laugh together

Little Eyes – They’re Watching You

Modeling is one of, if not the, primary way our children learn.

As their parents, it is our responsibility to model appropriate boundary setting and positive behaviors.

It is also our job to show our kids that it is fun and exciting to do new things, that there are creative ways to stay engaged, with people and the things happening around you, and that a new and greater level of understanding about who our kids are/how they are maturing is something worth pursuing.

Many parents struggle with the act of doing much of what I outlined above.

They are living chronically overscheduled lives, are overtired with no opportunity to recover being made, and as a result living in a state of being chronically overwhelmed.

Take Back Control 

You really do have control over it, maybe just a little, but it is there. (REALLY!) Finding new and improved paths for ourselves and our families is a path that generally leads to family togetherness, positive self esteem, overall greater happiness, adjustment, and well-being.

We can turn this around and make a difference in our own lives and the lives of our children by simply coming up with a plan, setting our minds to it, and following the plan.

Remember – smart phones, computers and technology do not rule us or our families unless we relinquish our power and allow this new family member into the prominent position of every aspect of our lives.

Envision the life you want for yourself and your family, come up with a plan of action, and put your heart and soul into making it happen, because they are what matters.

Dr. Lori Aleknavicius, Psy.D. of Inner Fokus  is a Clinical Psychologist in Newport Beach, fellow mommy of three young children.

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El Capitan Stole My Heart

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Glamping at El Capitan Canyon

Disclosure: One night complimentary stay was provided. 

I first found out about El Capitan Canyon on an episode of The Real Housewives of Orange County (yes, I’m a fan) when the ladies went glamping there a couple years ago.

It was right then and there I made a vow to someday take my family glamping in California to El Capitan, which we did recently and I fell in love.

A blending of “glamorous” and “camping,” glamping is a form of camping involving accommodation and facilities more luxurious than those associated with traditional camping. Mommy like.

The place stole my heart. It will become a family tradition. In fact, the week after our stay, we made reservations to go back this summer with my sister’s family and my parents.

I can get wordy, and this post could be made into a short novel because of how much I loved it, but I am going to try to stick to the facts and offer tips you need to know if you want to go glamping in California to El Capitan Canyon.

El Capitan Canyon Types of Accommodations

There are three types of glamping accommodations at El Capitan ~ Cedar Cabins, Safari Tents and Adventure Yurts all with varying prices to fit different budgets.

Every type of cabin includes running water and a bathroom. My kind of camping. The Safari Tents and Adventure Yurts do not have running water, but they all do have comfy beds and electricity.  All accommodations have their own fire pit and picnic table.

We had a Creekside Queen which was perfect for a family of four.  It had a queen bed downstairs, and a sleeping loft with two twin mattresses for our girls. It also had a small kitchenette with mini fridge, sink, coffee maker and microwave and a bathroom which included a shower.

The room felt like a nice hotel room, but then once you step outside your cabin, you are in the middle of nature.

We took our own food and cooked everything outdoors, we sat around the campfire, roasted s’mores and enjoyed the wildlife visitors. It really did feel like we were really camping, but at the end of the day, we could take a warm shower, wash off the camping dirt and crawl into comfy beds. Heaven.

Our Creekside Queen Inside:


The exterior photos are in the main graphic above, center and bottom photo.

The cabins all have different kinds of configurations as far as bed types, lofts, suites, etc. so I recommend calling to book a reservation so you can talk to an agent about what might be best for your family or group.

For small children or toddlers, I would not recommend a cabin with a sleeping loft. My girls (ages almost 5 and almost 8) loved the loft and were the perfect ages to enjoy.  But parents of young children will not enjoy worrying about toddlers trying to scale the steep ladder.

Sample Safari Tent:

El Capitan Safari Tent

Sample Adventure Yurt:

El Capitan Adventure Yurt

Things to Do at El Capitan for Kids 

There are so many things for kids to do at El Capitan Canyon, but the number one most important thing we enjoyed was to simply be in nature! We saw several skunks, deer, beautiful blue birds, hummingbirds and my kids got so excited. Nature really is the best form of entertainment.

There are several hiking trails around the campground (all of which are private and only accessible to those staying in the Canyon), and a very easy hike for kids, about 1.5 miles up a mild grade hill to see a beautiful ocean view organic garden and farm area with sheep, goats and llamas.

The walk along the top of the hill with the ocean view was spectacular.

El Capitan Canyon also offers free beach cruiser rentals for adults, and I would definitely recommend bringing your kid’s bikes, as there are great biking trails all around.

You can also hike down to the ocean at El Capitan State Beach through a lovely nature trail for kids. Although it is not a “play in the water” beach because of all the rocks, my kids enjoyed the walk and throwing little pebbles into the water.

As if that is not enough, El Capitan Canyon also boasts a year round heated swimming pool and huge playground for kids right next to the pool!

El Capitan Collage

The summer months hold several fun activities for guests as well including a Canyon Concert Series on Saturdays May through September, outdoor BBQ events, yoga and stargazing.

Tips on Visiting El Capitan Canyon 

1. Book early

They can book far in advance, especially during the summer months. But, we just got three cabins for a weekday stay in August, so there is definitely still availability. I recommend calling to book so you can explain the number of guests and talk through the sleeping arrangement for an accommodation that would work best for you.

2. Bring all your kitchen utensils

The cabin included a kitchenette, but you need to bring all your own plates, utensils, BBQ gear, etc.  I would also throw in some big Hefty trash bags as well.

3. Bring beach towels and/or pool towels

Shower towels, hand towels and wash clothes were in our cabin, but bring your own towels for the pool.

4. Bring your bikes or strollers

The Canyon is really spread out, so the walk from a cabin to the pool can be a trek for little legs.  If you have young kids bring your jogger stroller, or if you have bike riding age kids, bring their bikes for sure.

5. Be aware

It really is like camping, so there are things like Poison Oak (we saw a lot!) and skunks to look out for.  Keep your food all packaged up and don’t leave any food outside.  We had skunks visit our campsite at night, but we just all stayed perfectly still and they just sniffed around and then were on their way. I think if you just leave them alone and don’t startle them, you should be OK. Girls got a kick out of the skunks. They named her Priscilla.

6. The Canyon Market has everything!

The Canyon Market is incredible.  They serve a delicious breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, you name it.  If you don’t feel like bringing all your own food, they have BBQ dinners available for sale to cook on your fire pit.  I also recommend purchasing an El Capitan Canyon souvenir mug which gets you free drip coffee during your stay AND all future stays.

I hope you get to take your family glamping in California to this magical spot. I just might see you there!

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How to Have the Family You Dream Of

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How to Have the Family You Dream Of [Sponsor]

How to Have the Family You Dream Of 

by Brianna Dubbs, LMFT
Plucky Parenting

I’m often asked for advice on parenting tips and tricks to overcome challenges. People have varying struggles that depend on different factors, such as their own personalities, their child’s temperament, everyday stress, unplanned events that may occur during the day, etc. Often what I find is that people usually want a quick fix, an easy solution, a fast answer.

What if I told you that I have a special solution?

One that’s easy and quick and doesn’t take any time or practice. One that would make your children listen to you. Put away their toys. Finish their dinner. Go to sleep on time. Be happy.

All you have to do is purchase my highly-recommended, works-every-time, blue blanket; and I’ll throw in free fairy dust if you order one today.

Simply wrap your child in this blanket to stop tantrums dead in its tracks.

When placed on their heads, this magic blanket hypnotizes them so you can tell your child to do whatever you need and want them to do, and the tasks get done…immediately!

This parenting product is foolproof! It’s as reliable as the latest exercise gadget that you place on your stomach daily for 30 minutes that can burn away fat, giving you rock hard abs while you watch TV.

My technique is also just like the pill you can take with every meal or the shaker potion you add to your food that allows you to magically shed undesirable weight. You see, raising children who are happy confident, respectful and independent is as easy as being healthy and exercising.

That’s what most parents hope for, a quick fix.

It’s very easy to practice parenting in the traditional ways that most people do. There are a ton of seemingly magical solutions that take your child from terrible to wonderful overnight. However, the long-term and lasting result is not there. As soon as you’ve tackled one problem with your parenting blue blanket, a new one pops up.

Why does this happen?

Parents are firefighting the superficial issues. The underlying problem, the root cause, is not being addressed. Habits are not changing. Therefore, the child and the parent are not truly finding the help they need and continue unproductive patterns, creating constant struggles that lead to frustration for both of them.

But parenting, just like anything where a fabulous result is desired, requires time, energy, dedication and a strong commitment to the end result.

In short, it takes work and not being selfish. The prize for proper parenting practices are children who are happy, confident, respectful and independent and parents who feel confident, happy, peaceful and connected to their children.

The answers and solutions I’ll provide you are simple. The work in implementing them for our child and getting past our selfishness is what’s painful.

My simple answer to most parenting questions and advice:

1. Recognize your child is a person with his or her own needs, wants, feelings and desires.

2. Attend to their needs first in everything you do.

3. Attend to the meaning of their behavior next not just the actual behavior by itself.

4. Have consistent clear expectations with consistent clear consequences that are followed through with.

5. Repeat over and over and over all day long.

Let’s break this down into an example.

Sample Scenario:

You have a two-year-old and a seven-year-old. The two-year-old is having temper tantrums and melts down often. She does not want to share, wants to run away and be independent from her parents. Then wants to be near her parents constantly and struggles to go with sitters or family that she is familiar with. The seven-year old knows everything and constantly corrects her parents. When playing with her two-year-old sibling she has very specific ideas about how to play, what she wants to play and the role she wants her sibling to be in as they play. The two fight often.

Parents struggle with how to deal with these two different ages and find themselves in a constant battle of trying to discern who’s right, who needs the time out, who started what, and they just want the fighting to end.

They’ve lost their patience and find themselves yelling at their children out of frustration and just want their children to follow their advice and rules, which they repeat daily.

There may also be an underlying struggle from the parents where they have lost their own identity and their ability to get their own needs met due to their dramatic lifestyle change. I see that this often is also translated into the parent’s struggles as they just want the child to bend to them and follow what the parent wants. This ultimately leads to the parents missing who and what their children need and continues the cycle of frustration.

Step 1:

We are going to recognize these two very different beings and what they need and want. Let’s look at the two-year-old. Developmentally the two-year-old struggles to share and is finding out that the world exists and she wants to play in it. She still desperately needs her parents and wants to be with them often and at the same time wants to explore the world without them. She is testing out how to be a separate self and how to still need and want her parents. Because her language is still developing she often expresses her anger, fear, frustration by screaming, crying or melting down when she is so frustrated by not getting what she needs or not being understood.

Step 2:

We are going to respond to what the child needs. The tw0-year-old needs her parents to understand the developmental struggle and to be with her when she wants them and to allow her to explore when she wants to be away. She is confused by the pull she feels in herself. She is helped when her parents respond to her need to be close and then allow her to move away when she wants. She needs further help and clarification of what she is feeling and attempting to express in her behavior. This takes some detective work, at times, from the parents.

Step 3:

Understand what the behavior is saying rather than just focus on the surface of the behavior. When the seven-year-old is dictating to her two-year-old sibling that she wants to play a certain way and there is going to be no compromise and then she melts when her sibling won’t bend and lashes out by hitting, screaming or name calling her behavior is saying a lot. She is angry and frustrated and wants her way. Yes, I know she can’t always have her way and she needs to learn this lesson. But first, let’s help her with her feelings so she doesn’t act out in a manner that is unacceptable by saying “Right now, you feel angry and upset that you can’t have your way. You want your sister to do exactly what you say and she isn’t so this makes you mad.” Repeat these words to her until she is calm.

Step 4:

Provide clear and consistent expectations and consequences. In the above example we have a seven-year-old who is calling her tw0-year-old sister names because she won’t follow her directions. After, we have helped the seven-year-old with her feelings and frustration we then move to a consequence. At 7 she understands that it isn’t ok to name call and in your house this means that she gets a time-out, or she isn’t allowed to play with her sister for a little bit and needs to sit quietly to read. Once you have helped her calm down you state to her this rule. “In our house we don’t call each other names. You need to sit here quietly for 7 minutes.” Have her sit away. After this have her apologize to her sister and see if you can’t facilitate play where taking turns and sharing is a part of the game. The two-year-old gets to say what happens for a bit and then the seven–year-old gets to say what happens. They take turns back and forth. You may have to continue to help them with this until they are able to do it on their own.

Step 5:

Repeat, repeat, repeat. The above only works when it is consistently implemented and this is the hardest part of all the steps. We as parents have to put aside ourselves and what we had thought we needed or wanted to do to facilitate the process for our children in their daily lives. When we are consistent in our responses to them as a person, attending to their feelings and needs, and provide clear consistent guidance they feel safe and secure and have an understanding of their world. The tantrums and frustration naturally go away as they can rely and rest in you and the secure foundation you are providing for them.

Having help and guidance in the above process is where I come in.


The above is easy and simple just like eating well and exercising. It is hard to maintain and continue to implement.

Just like you may need a nutritionist and a physical trainer to hold you accountable for your healthy lifestyle and habit changes you want to implement. You also need a parenting coach to guide you, hold you accountable, cheer you on when you made the mark and help you get back on track when you pulled out the whole big gallon of ice cream.

It’s not easy to be alone and sometimes it’s even harder to ask for help. We need others to help us in our journey! Let me know how I can assist and I would love to help your family maintain a peace and happiness I know you desire.



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Spring Bucket List: Take a Nature Walk!

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Nature Walks in Orange County

This is now week four of seven on my spring bucket list; see these other posts on having a picnic, flying a kite, and playing in the rain.

Today I’ll share a little about my experience, and other nature walks in Orange County.

Casper’s Wilderness Park had their annual  “Adventure Day” last week that included guided hikes through the nature trail, so when I heard about it, I knew we had to go!

The event itself was so amazing (you can read about that here on my personal blog), and the nature walk was just what we needed as a family!

On our walk, we were able to see towering oak trees, even huge ones fallen in a shady meadow, we saw bunnies and birds, and my four year old was digging all the rocks. California is so beautiful, and it’s so neat to see how it looks relatively untouched.

Even though they were kind of grumpy since it was close to their nap time, and there wasn’t a single TV in sight (can you imagine?!), we tried to make them appreciate it. We kept saying “We’re on an adventure! You are like little explorers!” We also made sure they had some snacks which helped to keep them happy.

One of the best things about these easy nature walks are that they require little equipment!


A hiking backpack for the little ones would be ideal, as a stroller can be quite cumbersome, but my brave husband pushed our double stroller the whole 40 minute walk! Over rocks, etc. Sorry, sweet husband, I forgot the Ergo for our toddler!



Good shoes


Extra Clothing (if it looks like it might rain)

Camera (Optional)

I checked out some library books with some hikes in Orange County, and plan on doing some more because it was so enjoyable. Here are some easy, short hikes that would be ideal for you and your tiny oranges!

Nature Walks in Orange County:

The Coast:

Bolsa Chica Slough Trail (Huntington Beach)

Valido Trail (Laguna Niguel)

Dilley Preserve Canyon – Mariposa Loop (Laguna Beach)

The Foothills:

Santiago Creek Trail Loop (Orange)

Peters Canyon Lake Loop (Orange)

Riley Wilderness Park Loop (Coto de Caza)

The Mountains:

El Cariso Nature Trail (Corona)

San Juan Loop Trail (Corona)

Holy Jim Trail (Corona)

Thanks to Best Easy Day Hikes Orange County (affiliate link) by Randy Vogel for this great resource of a book!


Join me next week for some spring cleaning, then flower picking, and lastly I’m hoping to see a rainbow this spring (proving to be harder than I thought!).

Also, you can follow me on Instagram (@lisarimke) to see how I’m squeezing the most out of spring! I’ve been loving lemon everything, the wildflowers that have recently bloomed, and swimming during the heat waves! Also follow Tiny Orange’s (@tinyorangesoc) Insta-feed too!

Do you have any favorite nature walks in Orange County you would like to share?

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