Family Fun Fruit Flag

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In honor of the 4th tomorrow, I found this darling recipe for a patriotic fruit flag on Disney’s Family Fun website and had to share!

I am a big fan of healthy food options for group gatherings so that you can balance out the other goodies and junk!  That’s why I thought this was such a great idea.

Especially with the frilly toothpicks for easy serving for the kids.

If you haven’t already checked out the Family Fun site – you just HAVE to! Sooooo many cute ideas, recipes, crafts and more for the kiddos.

Have a wonderful SAFE 4th of July everyone!  Taking the 4th and 5th off of posting, be back on Friday!

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Family Fun at the Fairmont Newport Beach

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By now you all know that I love Orange County.

I especially love raising a family in OC, and with so many incredible family-friendly hotels, attractions and of course, our beaches, there truly is a vacation waiting for us right here where we live all year round!

Recently the Fairmont Newport Beach contacted me to share a great family package called 4 for $400 they have going on this summer, along with their fun kids’ programs and my family was invited to come and stay to check it out!

Kicking off Father’s Day weekend, we surprised my husband when he got home from work.  Bags were packed and we told him we were off for a little getaway!  When we arrived the valet attendant gave us a warm welcome and immediately handed us information on the Fairmont Newport Beach’s Sunny’s Kids Klub and told the girls if they spotted Sunny the Sea Lion somewhere in the lobby there would be a special treat for them!

Their eyes lit up – quite a fun way to start the vacation!

After checking in and a Sunny spotting (I won’t give away his location), we went to our gorgeous room.

Included in the 4 for $400 package is a one bedroom suite for 2 nights.  The one bedroom suites feature a separate bedroom with king bed (and TV), and the living room includes a pull out sofa and/or rollaway bed.

The room was SO COMFORTABLE for our family. I have to say, staying in a room with a separate bedroom makes for a very nice hotel experience when traveling with small children. My husband and I were able to stay up later and watch TV in our “room” while the girls slept.

Highlights / favorite features of our one bedroom suite:

* Room to breathe and spread out

* Separate sleeping quarters from the kids

* Complimentary in-room Keurig Coffee Maker

* Morning paper delivery

* Bottled waters by bed

* DVD player in room (Pack some movies for the kids! Wish we would have!)

* Comfy robes and slippers

* Kid-sized robes. I can’t TELL you how awesome it is to have kid-sized robes! So perfect for the after-swimming shower.  They are available upon request.

* Salt water taffy at the turndown service.

* Quiet room.

Pool Time Fun at the Palms Pool & Cabanas

The Palms Pool & Cabanas is a cool rooftop location on the 3rd flanked by a fire pit and ultra-comfortable cushioned lounge chairs.

The pool staff really catered to the kids. Come mid-day, the staff would bring out all kinds of water toys for them to play with…inflatables, dive toys, water noodles, the works!

During the summer months, you can find live music by the pool on Friday and Saturdays from 5pm – 9pm.  Nothing says vacation like a steel drum band and a summer cocktail!

A summer dining menu is also available with poolside service.  GREAT service may I add. Makes such a different when the staff is attentive and friendly.

All throughout the property there is also a FAB kid menu with super reasonable prices.  From hot dogs to grilled salmon to whole grain pasta and pizza, there is a little something for every tiny palate.

While we were visiting the pool was under a slight facelift, so the cabanas were down, but I am told brand new ones are going to be put in this weekend, along with cool new lounge style furniture as well.

bambu restaurant 

Also included in the 4 for $400 package is a daily buffet breakfast for 2 adults and 2 children.  When dining with two young kids there is nothing I love more than a buffet, so you can sit down and then go and get your food quickly! Especially in the mornings with the kids tend to be the hungriest! The food was delicious and they had coloring activity booklets and crayons, along with kid cups with lids for the girls. We also had a delightful dinner in the bambu lounge Saturday night for dinner.

Sunny’s Kids Klub 

During the summer, Sunny’s Kids Klub at the Fairmont Newport Beach gives children 5 – 12 a place to go and play while parents enjoy a little R & R.

Activities include crafts, games, cookie decorating, interactive classes, and even an inflatable bounce house located on one of the property tennis courts!

Sunny’s Kids Klub is available Friday and Saturday, 10am – 4pm in June and Thursday – Saturday, 10am – 4pm July through Labor Day. Price is $30/child and includes lunch and a snack.  Reservations can be made through the concierge.

Kids’ Night Out!  Sunny’s is also available every Friday and Saturday night from 6pm  – 10pm and includes games, movies & popcorn, pizza and an ice-cream sundae bar. Cost is $20/child, ages 5 -12. Reservations must be made through the concierge by 5pm.

What a great place to send the kids for a few hours so you and the hubby can enjoy a nice, leisurely relaxing dinner at bambu!

4 for $400 Package 

This package, designed for a family of four, includes:

* Overnight accommodations in a one bedroom suite for 2 nights.

* Daily Buffet for 4 (2 adults and 2 kids) in bambu restaurant.

* Roundtrip shuttle service to/from Disneyland, Orange County airport and Newport Beach.

* Milk and cookies bedtime treat. Yes, that is the REAL treat your kids will get to the right. Brown sugar sand castles, are you kidding me? They FLIPPED out!

* Complimentary valet parking for one vehicle ($28 value.)

In addition, the hotel also offers a full-service family concierge where you can purchase tickets to many attractions directly through the hotel.   In addition, there is also a hotel transportation schedule that goes to South Coast Plaza, Fashion Island, Balboa and Corona del Mar beach.

So, if you are looking for a super fun local getaway, or perhaps, you have friends or family visiting you this summer in Orange County, I highly recommend checking out all that the Fairmont Newport Beach has to offer.  With its close proximity to the airport, you certainly can’t get more convenient for out of town guests.

For more information on the 4 for $400 package click HERE.  Thank you to the Fairmont Newport Beach for the most amazing stay.  The staff went above and beyond to make us feel comfortable and welcomed.

[Disclosure: My family received the 4 for $400 package complimentary to facilitate this review. My opinions are, as always, 100% my own, honest, genuine ones!]

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Family Fun at Rancho Las Palmas!

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This past year was a crazy busy one for our family, so we thought it would be fun to do a special little getaway with our oldest daughter after school was out in June.   Since we wanted to just go for 2 nights, we wanted a destination that met the following parameters: 1. short drive from OC 2. family friendly & kid friendly 3. SUN for swimming  & pool time. My husband did some research and came up with Rancho Las Palmas in Rancho Mirage. He sent me the link, and after one click on Splashtopia, their two acre water feature pool {a.k.a. KID HEAVEN} I said PERFECT, let’s book it!!   So, here is our review of Rancho Las Palmas and our amazing experience having fun in the desert sun!

If you are looking for a fun family friendly vacation close to Orange County, this resort is a perfect choice!  It was a very easy drive from OC, took a little over an hour and a half.  We went Monday – Wednesday and left at 10am and hit no traffic.  From the moment we checked in we just felt comfortable there. The resort was upscale, yet casual at the same time.  I loved that there were so many kids running around everywhere because we fit right in!

The LOVELY Rooms!

All the rooms at Rancho Las Palmas are villa-style, meaning after check-in, you can drive your car and park right outside your room.  I love this because one of the benefits of going on a vacation where you can drive means you can bring your own cooler with snacks, drinks, etc.  Great when traveling with kids.  And, it was super convenient to have our car smack outside our room.

For families, there are two great room options: poolside and lakeview We actually stayed in both for one night so I can talk about the benefits of both!


The poolside rooms {obviously!} surround the pool and Splashtopia and are super convenient to all the action!  Our first night we stayed in a poolside room in building 12, bottom floor.  I think all the buildings are two stories. We liked the bottom floor room because we could sit on the patio and our daughter could explore a little and we were still able to keep an eye on her.

Here is a glimpse of our room…it was very comfortable & quaint…and bed was super comfy.

Outside our room there was a sidewalk and then the pool beyond.  Here is the outside….

And all the rooms had a lovely patio with a wicker table and set of two chairs…

On our way into town we grabbed lunch at the Pavilions and got some yummy sandwiches.   The first thing we did when we got there was enjoy lunch on our patio.  But that lasted all of about 5 minutes when Emma saw the excitement in store for her at the pool outside her room!


After exploring the property during the first day, we fell in love with a set of rooms with a view of the lake and golf course, so the next day I asked the front desk if they happened to have one open and they were nice enough to move us.  Juan at the front desk was so super accommodating. They even walked the new keys out to us at the pool when the room was ready.  I love customer service that says “we care.”  Sounds corny, but it’s true!

So the second night we were in building 8, first floor, which was still close to the pool and had an absolutely beautiful view. Click here for a great map to see the buildings and the property layout.

My husband and I are “patio sitters” on vacation.  We LOVE sitting outside, having some drinks, reading and enjoying the view.   Since my daughter went to bed sort of early after swimming for the entire day, it was nice because we were able to put her to sleep and then stay up later on the patio and enjoy the warm night just the two of us.

<— our idea of HEAVEN!

Here was the view from our room… AMAZING!  We loved it…

And another view from the other angle…

After dinner each night when the sun had set, kids came out to the golf course, many of which ran around on the grassy hills that backed up to the golf course.  So carefree.

And, there is just something special about a desert night.

That warm breeze just infuses RELAXATION.


The first night after a fun-filled day at the pool (visit me later this week for the full recap of Splashtopia!) we decided to stay “on campus” and have a bite at the restaurant bluEmber.  The resort is SO kid friendly they even include  a free kid’s buffet with the purchase of an adult meal.  We loved this.

And, we happened to luck out and arrive between 5 – 7pm, and you know what that means, HAPPY HOUR!   They had super drink deals and a bunch of items on the menu were half off.  It was fun to be able to grab a casual bite outside amongst other families.

The restaurant is gorgeous. They had a  beautiful outdoor patio with different sitting areas, fire pits and comfy chairs.

Perfect place to enjoy an evening drink at dusk.

The second night we ventured out and walked across the street (SO convenient) to The River, which was a shopping center with lots of shops and restaurants.  I loved that this was so close.  We ate at this gorgeous restaurant on the water called Pieros Acqua Pazza and I had the most unbelievable lobster and shrimp salad. Yum!

Each morning, we walked over and got Starbucks coffee and a breakfast burrito at the Palm’s Cafe and ate breakfast overlooking the tranquility pool.  My daughter got a donut both days as a special treat.  It was hard to explain to her when we got home why she couldn’t have a donut for breakfast EVERY day!


Every day at Rancho Las Palmas they have fun activities for kids.   From Kid’s Sports Night to Dive-in Movies to Disco Dance Parties and special activities and crafts, there were special things planned for each day of the week.  We were given a calendar at check-in with a whole list of times and options of things to do.

They also have a Kidtopia kid’s camp for kids 4 – 12, where you can send your kids to enjoy activities for an extra fee and you and your hubby can enjoy some hours just LOUNGING by yourself at the pool.   Sounds blissful.


It looks like right now Rancho Las Palmas is running some super special deals for summer,<– click that link to check them out! Rates in July and August are really reasonable, and they have some great package deals.   I even saw Rancho Las Palmas gift cards at the Costco in Fountain Valley recently that were $75 but valued at $100, so this would be a great value too.

To be continued…

As I am typing this I am realizing there is just too much to share about our stay so I am going to break it into two posts. The kids’ pool and Splashtopia warrant their own!    Please check back later this week with  pictures and the recap of Splashtopia!  In the meantime, I will leave you with this parting image of Rancho Las Palmas.  It was so lovely.  We will definitely be back next year!

{Disclosure:  Our room charge was comped for our two night stay.}

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Spring Break

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So, my daughter is out of preschool this week so we have a busy week planned doing lots of fun stuff to keep her entertained (=and me sane!)

For those of you with kids off school this week too, three of my favorite blogs have written posts recently on great ideas to keep you busy. Even if your kids are not off, these blogs have some great ideas for local fun stuff. They are…

Daytripping Mom – Spring Break Ideas That Won’t Break the Bank
Fun Orange County Parks – 10 Ideas for Spring Break Family Fun Away From the Crowds
Just Spotted – April 2010 Calendar

And, of course, my “Outings” <- Click on Outings! Category has 46 Outing Ideas to peruse as well!

I might take a few days off blogging this week to hang with my daughter and take a little Spring Break myself too.  Or as much of a “break” as possible given the life of a stay at home mom of an almost 4 year old and 9 month old moving & grooving baby! Be back on my “regular” blogging schedule next week!

Congratulations! The winner of the Bag the Habit giveaway is….Teddi!

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