Join the Dana Wharf Kids Club!

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Dana Wharf Whale Watching_1


I had the opportunity to take my family whale watching in Dana Point with Dana Wharf Whale Watching…and what a treat!  It was such a fantastic experience, I want to tell you all about it.

First of all, Dana Point Harbor is absolutely gorgeous – if you haven’t had the chance to spend time down there, GO!  It so fun to walk around, see all of the boats, window shop, and eat.

Dana Wharf Whale Watching recommended that we arrive at around 4:30 to check-in…and of course with my two little darlings, we ran in at 4:42…and were greeted with smiles and directions to Dock #1.

We Found Whales!

As we boarded their flagship 95 ft. Dana Pride boat for our 5 p.m. cruise, my kids could hardly contain their excitement.  It was a very warm afternoon, so we couldn’t wait to get out on the water.  Plus, my son is currently obsessed with the ocean, sea life, and boats.  So this was a BIG deal for him.  The captain had his top window open as guests were boarding, so the kids were able to wave “hi.”

Right at 5 p.m., we were on our way.  Since Dana Wharf sits right inside the mouth of the harbor, we reached open waters in just three minutes. We enjoyed the cool breeze and the kids loved “boat” watching as we headed out to find some whales…and whales we found!

Dana Wharf_3

As we headed up the shore toward Laguna, the captain spotted a whale…so we cruised over and found a beautiful mama whale with her calf.  It doesn’t matter how many pictures you look at in a book or on the web – there is nothing like seeing one of these majestic creatures up close and personal.

Whale Watching_1

All Dana Wharf Captains are certified Naturalists by the American Cetacean Society and they are really passionate about the marine mammals.  They share their knowledge and experiences, making the adventure educational and fun!

The boat quietly floated and everyone got their cameras poised.  And we had the opportunity to take pictures and observe.  We even got a little “show” – the baby decided to “wave” with its fin, and the mommy whale bobbed up and down, moving in big, fluid motions.  I was amazed at how close to shore they were!  Of course, my son wanted to go IN the water and play with them (nice try, kiddo!).

We were one of many families on the boat – the cruise is definitely family and kid-friendly.  In fact, we found out about their Dana Wharf Kids Club.

Dana Wharf Kids Club

Kids 14 and under can join the Dana Wharf Kids Club where they are encouraged to experience the many adventures of the ocean in an environment conducive to their age.  The best part?  The annual membership is only $39, with a portion of proceeds benefiting the Gray Whale Foundation, a non-profit organization.  And, there’s more than $100 value in trips and merchandise!

Kid members receive:

– 1 FREE 1/2-day sportfishing trip for themselves and an adult

– 1 FREE 2-hour Whale Watching excursion

– Kids Club T-shirt or Hat

– Kids Club Pin

– Official Membership Card

– 25% Discount on all merchandise

– $10 off all Fishing Trips on 1/2 & 3/4 day Fishing Trips*

– $10 off all Whale Watching Excursions*

I also found out that every Sunday from 12:45-5:15pm, they offer free fishing trips for kids! Rental gear is included – wow!  Just make sure to make reservations, as space is limited. One free child per paying adult. A free fishing clinic is held dockside every Sunday from noon – 12:30, too!

Some Fun Facts 

– Dana Wharf Whale Watching is the originator of whale watching in Orange County, starting back in 1971.

– Trips are all 2 hours long – and sightings are guaranteed!  If you do not have a sighting, you will receive a voucher for another tour – FREE.

– Dana Wharf Whale Watch supports the research of Dr. Lei Lani Stelle, Associate Professor of Biology at the University of Redlands.  Dr. Stelle and her students are investigating human impacts on marine mammal populations in the Southern California Bight.

They survey our local waters to record sightings of all species, record their locations with GPS, note behaviors, and take photographs to identify individual animals. These observations are then mapped with GIS to examine relationships between oceanography, human activities, and animal habitats.

Birthday Parties

They do birthday parties, too.  Check out the details – so fun!

Celebrate your birthday on a fishing trip! Our package is for the member and up to 9 friends.

Package includes

1/2 day fishing trip

Rental rod and tackle

Kid’s Club t-shirt

$5 food voucher for our on-board snack bar

Special Bonus: One free 1/2 day trip will be awarded to the child who catches the largest fish in the group!

Contact them at:
(949) 496-5794 x 7 to book a birthday (or for more information)

$40.00 per child 
($97 Value)
Adults: $22.00

Whale Watching Details

2-Hour Whale Watching 
Adventure Cruise
 – trips depart daily

Adults – $45

Seniors (55+)$35

Kids (3-12) – $25

Kids 2 and under are FREE!

Remember that Tuesdays are 1/2 price all year long – every trip (fishing and whale watching!).

They also have 4:30 Pre-Sunset Specials – all tickets are just $25!

Check the schedule and buy tickets here

Click here to check out what you can see on your tour.

I hope you have a GREAT experience whale watching – I know I did!  And, I can’t wait to sign my kiddos up for their Dana Wharf Kids Club…

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Bookmark This Dip Recipe!

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Crowd Pleasing Appetizer

This crowd pleasing appetizer is so yummy you might be tempted to eat it by the spoonful. Sweet and light, it’s a great dish to bring to share to a summer barbecue.

It’s a nice variation to your staple guacamole or salsa with chips app. Here’s the recipe!

Crowd Pleasing Appetizer 

Sweet corn, avocado and bean dip


1 can black eyed peas, drained

1 cup frozen white corn

1 small jar red pimentos

1 large red pepper chopped into very small pieces

4 green onions chopped into very small pieces

2 firm but not too ripe avocados cut into small pieces (add to dip right before serving)


¾ cup sugar (we made this last weekend and reduced sugar to 1/2 cup and was still yummy!)

½ cup rice wine vinegar

½ cup vegetable oil

1 Tbsp. Tiger sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix ingredients together and then pour marinade mixture over ingredients.  Stir and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Right before serving, drain some of the oil off so it is not so runny. 

Then, add avocadoes and stir gently.

Serve with tortilla chips – the scoops work great. 

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Cool Activities in Warm Weather

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  Cool Activities in Warm Weather_1

Oh my goodness, it is getting WARM (dare I say, hot?!)!  Especially in the afternoon when I pick my kiddos up from school.  I thought it would be fun to gather activity ideas to keep kids cool and entertained in Orange County (and you too, moms!) – warm weather, cool activities = happy kids and moms.

Here are five of my personal favorites around town…what are yours?

The Irvine Spectrum Splash Pad and Shaded Playground

Have you checked this out recently?  There’s fairly new shaded playground right outside of Target, Carter’s and Happy Nails at the Irvine Spectrum…and just a hop, skip and a jump away is a fun splash pad.  Grab an iced Starbucks from Target first, then head over and let the kids run around.  Perfect for playtime and cooling off.  Plus, you can nab lunch at a number of fun places or even ride a few rides.

Ruby’s Shake Shack

My kids are obsessed with Ruby’s Shake Shake in Crystal Cove – if you haven’t been, you HAVE to go!  It’s this adorable little “shack” on the side of PCH with all outdoor seating.  You stand in line at an outdoor counter, order your shakes (or burgers or hot dogs), and sit under an umbrella, overlooking the gorgeous ocean. It’s a slice of heaven!  Note:  Parking is very limited, so try to avoid typical lunch hours – the lines to park can get long.

The Car Ferry and Balboa Island

The Balboa Island Car Ferry is such a cool experience – it’s like being a tourist in your own backyard!  The ferry goes between Balboa Island and the Balboa Peninsula – you literally drive onto the ferry, put your car in park, and get out of the car to enjoy the ride and views.  Here’s the directions – check it out! We take the ferry over to the Balboa Fun Zone and make an afternoon out of it. Love it!

The Mission Viejo Library

This is an awesome library with a fabulous kid’s section.  A small play area for the small kiddies (toys, puzzles, learning games and books), coloring tables, and an impressive selection of books for all ages, DVDs, CDs…you name it.  Plus, they have great kid’s programs throughout the year, like Toddler Early Literacy classes – just check their site for specific times and dates.

Bounce, Bounce, Bounce

I love taking my kids to any place they can be in a safe, enclosed (air conditioned!) kid’s bounce house….and bounce, bounce, bounce their energy out!  Here are some Orange County bouncing options

Jump ‘N Jammin (Mission Viejo) 

Pump it Up (Lake Forest, Irvine)

Scooter’s Jungle (Aliso Viejo) 

Big Air Trampoline Park (Laguna Hills)

Frogg’s Bounce House (Fountain Valley)

Jump Sky High (Costa Mesa)

What do you do to stay cool?  Let’s all share below and get a great list of ideas going…

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Cute 4th of July Outfits for Kids

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Cute 4th of July Outfits for Kids

I love the 4th of July. Love, love, love the 4th.

All-American parades, barbecues, sparklers and the opportunity to dress up my kids in red, white and blue makes me a happy mommy.

I usually shop for cute 4th of July outfits for kids early, like now, because most stores have newly debuted fourth of July collections, meaning you can snag the best items before they sell out and have it shipped in time.

I am setting off firecrackers this year for the super cute 4th of July outfits for kids over at Gymboree, Janie and Jack and Crazy8.

Not only for the adorable styles, but also for the prices!

Here are the links to the above cute 4th of July outfits for kids, listed from top to bottom, left to right.

Cute 4th of July Outfits for Girls

1. Patriotic Dots and Stripes Dress

2. Dot Romper, Flower Soft Headband, Flower Cut Out Sandals

3. Strappy Red Patent Leather Sandals

4. Patriotic Bow Hair Clip Three-Pack

5. Red and White Romper

6. Dot DressFlower Cut Out Sandals

7. Navy Ruffle Top, Red Pleated Shorts, Dot Espadrille Sandals

8. Love Gem Tee

9. Fireworks Tank

10. Patriotic Bow Flip Flops

11. Patriotic Dot Shorts

12. Dotted Red Shorts

13. Patriotic Bows Print Skirt

14. Striped Seersucker One-Piece, Striped Seersucker Headband, Striped Seersucker Crib Shoe

4th of July Outfits for Boys

1. United States of Awesome Tee, Pinstripe Shorts, Flip Flops

2. Patriotic Skull Tee

3. U.S.A Patchwork Shorts

4. Striped Polo Shirt

5. Flag Swim Trunks

Happy Memorial Day Mamas.  Hope you have a wonderful, patriotic, fun-filled day with your families! xo

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Be Careful When You Set the Bar

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Holiday Hoopla

This post has to do with holidays, and how we as parents, can be tempted to get a wee bit overzealous on the holiday hoopla and traditions. Consider this post mom-to-mom advice, especially for you younger parents out there, from someone who has learned from experience about setting the bar.

Let me start by saying – it’s not our fault!

The holiday hoopla has been taken to new levels with this next generation and we are only stepping up the plate. Holidays have gone on steroids. Do you agree? (f yes, you have to read this post by Kristen Howerton of Rage Against the Minivan. Love.)

All it takes is one look at some super cute idea on Facebook or Pinterest and we find ourselves planning our trip to Michaels in our head. I blame social media completely for the holiday hoopla madness.

Couple that with your child’s first holiday experiences and a desire to make them the BEST EVER, and well, you risk setting the holiday traditions bar too high.

For example, the first lost tooth is a big deal. Huge. We want the Tooth Fairy’s first visit to be a magical one.

But the Tooth Fairy has to remember that teeth can fall out on vacation. Or, at a not-so-convenient time, like when saying good night.

Therefore, I wish my Tooth Fairy would have realized that before setting the bar of a coded note printed out with a magical font, tooth-brushing accessories, special coins and sparkle heart confetti, that perhaps, those items would be hard to keep up because, (newsflash!) kids lose a LOT of teeth. There were teeth popping out left and right over here for a period of time.  Didn’t quite realize that when the first came out.

Or what about our friend Elf on the Shelf come holiday time?

It’s very tempting to get inspired by all the shenanigans one might see on Pinterest or otherwise, but if your Elf sets the bar too high, you risk kids getting disappointed when the Elf just simply moves. But wasn’t that the whole point?!

Now let’s talk about Leprechauns.

I used to just wear green to school. When I got older, green beer was also involved, but Leprechauns NEVER visited my house.

Now days, the Leprechauns are visiting and doing all sorts of amazing things. But you better believe the kiddos are going to remember that next year, and will be anxiously awaiting to see if your little Leprechaun will outdo himself.

The list can go on and on…Easter bunny, Valentine’s Day, birthdays, first day of school hoopla, you name it.

I am ALL for celebrations, believe me. I absolutely love celebrating holidays with my kids. But, even very small kids remember what happened that last holiday, so there is a certain expectation already in play once the bar is set.

And who wants to have disappointed kids on any holiday?

Which is why, you have to be very careful when you set the bar on your holiday traditions. Baby steps, mamas. Isn’t the holiday alone magical to little ones? We really don’t need to be sooooooo amazing, do we?

Have you gotten trapped by setting the bar too high? Dish, mamas! I want to know your thoughts!

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