Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Our Perfect Day at the Irvine Park Railroad's Eggstravaganza

We had so much fun spending an afternoon at the Irvine Park's Easter Eggstravaganza, which is located inside of Irvine Regional Park. 
In addition to the beautiful natural scenery, it's all decorated for Easter too! Everywhere you turn, there are adorable children, dressed up in their best spring outfits. It's the perfect setting and occasion to photograph some precious moments, that's for sure!
The Eggstravaganza features so many different activities to choose from that we weren't sure where to start. 
The activities include: 
     *Easter egg hunts
     *Photos with the Easter Bunny
     *Train rides
     *Hay rides
     *Cookie decorating
     *Face painting
     *A bunny bounce house
     *Various picture stands for photo opportunities
     *Carnival games
So, we basically decided to do them all! 
I loved how organized the Easter egg hunt was. We first obtained a wristband for the age-appropriate time for Emi. They created very fair rules for the children, first sitting them all down together, to explain the rules for the hunt, discussing how many eggs they could "find" and take home in their baskets, as well as other candy they might find on the ground. The kids were so excited to get started and sprinted at the cue to begin. 
Although we remembered to bring our own basket, they do have baskets for sale there, as well. 
Emi was mesmerized by how much candy there was in the egg hunt area, in addition to the eggs! 
After the egg hunt, we strolled over to visit the Easter Bunny. He was extremely interactive with the Emily, first playing peek-a-boo with her, which helped make her unafraid to sit with him. That's something that might be a relief for parents with hesitant children. 
Pictures like this, melt my heart! 
Apparently visiting the Easter Bunny makes you hungry, so we stopped by the snack shack for some freshly popped popcorn, before heading on over to the face painting area!
The artists in the face painting booth that would create each child's ideal design for them. Emi let her artist know that she preferred more of an arm design, as opposed to having her face painted. 
She loved her "tattoo" so much, that I think she hid from the water in the shower hitting that arm for as long as she could! 
I loved all of the different photo opportunities there were throughout the area. Emi tried to convinced me to get in this one, but I let her do the honors! 
I love this one! My little chick!
I was most startled by this one..it shows how tall Emi is getting! She's only 8! Wow! 
Next, we hopped aboard the train, which for me, is the best part of the entire thing. There's just something about trains that reminds me of childhood! Emi chose to sit directly behind the engineer! We took the token "train selfie" as we relaxed on the long ride.
For our finale, we visited the cookie decorating booth, where Emi got her very own sugar cookie to decorate with colored frostings and sprinkles. What more could a kid ask for? 
It was such a fun afternoon. 
Head on over before the fun ends on April 19th! 


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Farrell's is Teaming Up with The American Red Cross to Help!

There is nothing scarier than experiencing an earthquake of a significant magnitude, in addition to several aftershocks, like the residents of Southern California did this past weekend with the 5.1. It really makes you think about important things such as having a plan of action for your family, in case of an huge earthquake or other disaster and just having overall earthquake preparedness at home. It's not something that any of us like to think about, but we DO need to be ready, in case of the unexpected. 
As if a 5.1 earthquake wasn't scary enough for many of us to experience last weekend, we then watched news of a deadly 8.2 magnitude quake that hit Chile yesterday, resulting in such great loss and devastation! It's difficult to watch things like this on the news! It makes you feel helpless, in the sense that you can't make it better or directly help the people who are affected. 
It makes my heart happy when I see businesses I support and frequent, come forward to make efforts to reach out and help people in need, like the people of Chile. It's no secret that I'm a fan of Farrell's, and it makes so proud to spread the news about what Farrell's is doing to help with this recent tragic situation. Farrell's has teamed up with the American Red Cross to raise earthquake preparedness awareness in the wake of these recent earthquakes. 
Beginning today, Wednesday April 2 through Sunday April 6, all 7 Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour locations will be offering a limited edition "Quake Shake" for $4.99, with 100% of sales going to the American Red Cross. In addition, you'll also receive a handout about earthquake preparedness, with instructions on how to be ready for a large magnitude earthquake.
Locally we were all very fortunate not to have suffered any major damage or injuries as a result of last weekend's Southern California earthquake, but the people of Chile weren't as fortunate. The Farrell's family is making this great effort to help the American Red Cross reach people and areas in need. These kinds of situations remind us how important and essential it is to be prepared and we should all do our part to make sure organizations like The Red Cross are funded and ready to assist those in need, when a disaster like this occurs. 
Please support this effort by visiting your local Farrell's and enjoying a "Quake Shake", which is a Rocky Road flavored shake, made with rich chocolate ice cream, marshmallow swirl and topped with whipped cream, almonds and a cherry. Remember, 100% of the sales from this $4.99 "Quake Shake" will be donated to the American Red Cross. In addition, monetary donations will also be accepted at each restaurant. 
For more information, visit FarrellUSA.com or for direct donations visit RedCross.org
photo courtesy of Farrell's

Monday, March 31, 2014

Blended Conference 2014: Why YOU Should Attend!

Last Fall, I had the opportunity to attend Blended: A Conference in the Desert. It was the first blogger conference I ever attended. I was what you'd call a "newbie blogger". (I actually still am) Although I was excited to attend, I was also very nervous about it. (I now know there was nothing to be nervous about) Although I'm not a shy person, blogging, and all that it entails, was an area new to me, so I really wasn't very sure of myself or even HOW I'd come across to others. At that point, I was even still trying to figure out my blogging niche, as well as the tech side of blogging.
I cannot even begin to describe how invaluable that experience of attending Blended last year was to me! It was a 1 day conference last year. This year, it's an entire weekend and after I saw the location  and the agenda for the weekend, I got even more excited!
I'm going to give you 5 great reasons why YOU should attended Blended this year!
Reason #1
You should attend because I will be there! 
Yep, I wouldn't miss Blended Conference 2014 for the world! I am so excited for the little road trip back to Arizona, from California, to see all of the friends I made at the conference last year, as well as to meet a whole bunch of new ones! (including you!) I'm not saying that I am like a headliner for the conference or anything, because I'm not, but I would consider myself a pretty fun bloggy friend to have. Oh, and I LOVE taking selfies with friends! Please attend so I can meet you!
Reason #2
You should attend because the ladies who are responsible for running the conference are are not only amazing, but are also both named "Wendy", which happens to be my name, so seriously, how can that NOT be a good enough reason on its own? 
I first met Wendy O'Neal from Around My Family Table and Wendy Wright from Choosing Love and Arizona Moms Network online. Before getting to actually meet these 2 in person, I was worried I'd be intimidated when I met them, but once we were all together at a dinner the night before the conference last year, I immediately felt comfortable talking to them and several other people I'd refer to as super bloggers, who I'd also only met online. I will admit that I sat there #fangirling Wendy and Wendy at the conference, but that's a good thing. They definitely land in my book as "superwomen" and I'm proud to be a part their #TeamWendy. Obviously if your name is also Wendy, you REALLY need to make sure to get to this conference!
Reason #3
You should attend because you'll have so many opportunities to network with other bloggers, the speakers and with some brands. 
This is a very important reason, especially if you are a new(er) blogger! Networking, meeting other bloggers, including the conference speakers, and actually starting relationships and friendships with them, is probably one of the most useful things you can take away from a conference. There is a big difference between meeting someone online, like on Facebook or Twitter, and actually meeting them in person, allowing them to get to know you, and you being able to get to know them. You never know who the person sitting next to you or across the table from you, really is, or what connections they may have. They also may see something in you that they like and throw some great opportunities your way! You just never know!
You also have the opportunity to network with brands, because there are brands represented at Blended conference and at certain times during the conference days, you have time to actually introduce yourself and meet some of the brands' PR people. PR people are really just regular people, so although it may be intimidating to approach them, you should just do it. Approach them with your business card, introduce yourself and just chat with them briefly.
You honestly never know who is going to make a positive connection with you or when it will happen, but it will! I speak from experience and like I said before, I'm still a newbie.
Reason #4
You should attend because, once again, there is a going to be a fabulous agenda with fabulous speakers (and fabulous food) at Blended this year! 
If you take a peek over the agenda, what you'll find is a ton of fun and knowledge coming your way!
*Scheduled Head Shots with Kate Eschbach on Friday afternoon! 
*Hands-on Workshops on Friday night
*Maureen Fitzgerald, also known as Wisconsin Mommy, will be talking about Creating a Media Kit.
*Christine Pittman from Cook the Story, will have a Food Styling...Live session.
*Dan Morris of Letters from Dan and Blogging Concentrated, will be presenting SEO Simplified.
*Rachel Martin of Finding Joy, will show How to Create an ebook from Your Existing Content
*Marley McMillan Beelman of Namely Marley, will present The Joy of Blogging
*Dear Blogger breakout sessions, for both beginning and advanced bloggers
*no hosted blogger dinners
*Blogging Concentrated for advanced bloggers presented by Dan Morris of Letters from Dan
Reason #5
You should attend because Blogging Concentrated for advanced bloggers is going to have its own day during Blended this year! 
This is an incredible offering that you just shouldn't pass up and very unique to this conference to have a component piggy backing like this! I had the pleasure of meeting Dan Morris recently at another conference and not only is he going to present a wealth of information, he is also a really fun guy to hang out with!

I could probably give so many more reasons why YOU should attend Blended Conference this fall! Maybe I'll write a 2nd post with Reasons #6-10....maybe!
To get more information about Blended and register for it, click here.
 I hope to see you there! 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Hop on Over to See the Bunny at a Simon Mall Near You

Spring has sprung! Yep, it's that time of year again! I know one of things that Emi enjoys doing is putting on her newest spring dress and visiting the Bunny at The Shops at Mission Viejo. The Bunny Photo Experience begins this year on March 22 and runs through April 19, at all 3 Simon Mall locations in the Southern California area.
The Bunny Photo Experience gives children the chance to visit with the Bunny and take home a treasured snapshot of the fun occasion. The presenting sponsor for the 2014 Bunny Photo Experience is Gymboree. 
Hop on in to the following locations:
  • Brea Mall: Begins March 22 and runs through April 19 on the mall’s lower level near the JCPenney wing. Visit www.facebook.com/events/1472396026309210/ for a complete list of dates and times.
  • Westminster Mall: Begins Thursday, March 27 at 5 p.m. and runs through Saturday, April 19 at 7 p.m.in Macy’s Court at Westminster Mall. Visit www.facebook.com/events/637522406300826/ for a complete list of dates and times.
  • The Shops at Mission Viejo: Begins Saturday, March 22 and runs through April 19 on the center’s lower level, near Nordstrom. Visit www.facebook.com/events/255388734631932/ for a complete list of dates and times.

In addition to regular mall hours for Bunny photos, this will be the first year they'll offer the Caring Bunny™ event The Shops at Mission Viejo. The Caring Bunny™ event will offer families that have children with special needs a subdued environment to participate in the Bunny Photo Experience. Caring Bunny has been developed by SPG and is guided by AbilityPath.org, a national online resource hub and special needs community. Over 80 Simon® properties will host the Caring Bunny this season.

On Sunday, April 13, from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., many steps will be taken to reduce sensory triggers, creating a more comforting environment for children’s cherished visit with the Bunny. The subdued environment is likely to include (specific elements or aesthetics may vary):
  • Turning off in-mall music, stopping escalators located near the photo set, dimming the lights and shutting down fountains for the duration of the event.
  • Eliminating queue lines through the use of a numbering system whereby guests approach the set when their number is called.
  • Special activities geared toward the needs of the child during the ‘wait’ period to help the child understand what activities will occur during the visit.



Simon Kidgits Club Easter Events  
The Simon Kidgits Club® will also host special Easter events in Orange County this April. Participants will receive a Kidgits® Easter bucket and Kidgits bunny ears as a keepsake to take home. The egg-citing celebrations will take place at the following centers:


  • Brea Mall: Kidgits Easter Spring Time Fun event on April 12 at noon at the Bunny Photo set, located on the lower level near the JCPenney wing. Kids can participate in various spring and Easter-themed craft-making activities and games.
  • Westminster Mall: Kidgits Eggcellent Easter Extravaganza event on April 12, 2014 from 10 a.m. to noon in Target Court. Kids can participate in various activities and games including a bounce house and crafts provided by Westminster Mall retailers.
  • The Shops at Mission Viejo: Kidgits Easter Eggstravaganza event on Saturday, April 5, from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. on the lower level, near Forever 21. Kids can participate in various activities and games including crafts courtesy of the retailers of The Shops at Mission Viejo, entertainment from The Best Bubble Parties and a special visit from the Easter Bunny. The Bubble show starts at approximately 8:45 a.m. and the Easter Bunny will visit with children around 9:30 a.m.

The Simon Kidgits Club is a fun and informative program that focuses on health, wellness, education, safety and entertainment for children ages 3-8.  The Simon Kidgits Club has kept children and parents alike amused for over a decade with various events and activities while providing incentives for club members, such as special offers, rewards and games.

For more information about the Simon Kidgits Club, visit www.simon.com/kidgits/.
photos courtesy of Simon Malls

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Day We Partied With Barbie and Ken at Farrell's

Barbie turned 55 yesterday! She's looks absolutely amazing for her age, don't you think? 
I grew up loving Barbies. I think Barbie was a favorite of most little girls and still is. 
Emi and I had the chance to attend Barbie's birthday celebration at Farrell's Restaurant. At each of their participating restaurant locations, there was a special celebration which included appearances by Barbie and Ken, games, prizes and even a special Barbie Birthday Zoo for the kids to share. 
We arrived a little bit early to find several little girls anxiously awaiting the start of the party and playing with their own Barbies outside of the Farrell's door.
When the doors opened and we were welcomed into the party room, 
we saw that the room was decorated for Barbie's birthday. 
Emi insisted that we bring her own Barbie table and chairs and she set it up right on the party table. (notice Barbie's own tiny banana split and homemade birthday card on her table). 
All of the children were so excited when the party host first introduced Ken! Everyone clapped and Ken appeared in the room. I couldn't help but laugh out loud because he kept the stiff posed arms throughout the celebration. The Ken they chose was so adorable and had so much personality!
Soon after, Ken introduced Barbie and when she came out, 
with her stiff arms too. Barbie was as adorable and talented as Ken was.
They were the most amazing performers that this Farrell's could've found for this event and were both beyond animated, beautiful, and never broke character. You could just tell that "Barbie" and "Ken" were genuinely having fun with the kids. I certainly appreciate their version of this Barbie song...
video
The kids  were so excited to play games with Barbie and Ken. First they played a trivia game, to see how much they knew about Barbie! Emi actually won TWO prizes in the trivia game! I have no idea how she knew Barbie's full name, but that was one of the questions she answered! 
Then they played "Hot Pig" (it's like Hot Potato) with Barbie while Ken played the drum.
 Did I mention that this Ken is amazing on the Farrell's drum? 
video
After the games, the kids all got to share the special Barbie Zoo! What a treat! 
Emi was in heaven getting to have ice cream at 10:30 a.m. and before lunch!
At the end of the party, the kids got to have their pictures taken with Barbie and Ken! 
The most powerful part of the whole event for me, was the statement Farrell's made, without saying a word! For them to show the children (and adults) in attendance at Barbie's birthday celebration, that Barbie and Ken are NOT ALWAYS blond-haired and blue-eyed with white skin, was something that I wish more companies would do.  I don't think there was one child at the party who noticed anything different about this Barbie and Ken, which is what makes me smile most! I thanked the manager, Chad, not only for hosting this fun event, but also for opting to feature a non-traditional Barbie and Ken to the kids! I honestly think there needs to be more of these kinds of occurrences in our society! Thank you Farrell's! You really wowed me...again! 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

When You Lose a Tooth in Disneyland...

Back Story:
When Emi was 5, she had a VERY loose tooth one day when we were at Disneyland. This tooth was literally hanging by a thread and she was very upset about it the entire day. A friend who was with us on that particular visit to the parks, told Emi that she had heard if you lost your tooth inside Disneyland and you buried it somewhere, Tinkerbell would find it, alert The Tooth Fairy about it AND visit your house that night as well! Although that tooth never came out on that visit, Emi never forgot that story.
Fast forward to present day:
Emi has had a loose tooth for some time now and when I picked her up from school the other day, it was so bad that it was literally turned around backwards in her mouth but still attached!
Seriously, what IS this? 
Of course she didn't want me to "help" her and she definitely didn't want her dad to either. (He DEFINITELY knows how to get the job done!) So, she spent all night very upset and had even gone to her school nurse's office to get one of those little tooth necklaces to hold the tooth, WHEN it finally came out. Since Emi knew she was off of school for a couple of days because of parent conferences, I think she knew that a trip to Disneyland was inevitable, since it's our favorite thing to do on days off. She seemed to have the entire thing planned out in her head beforehand because when she woke up, she reminded me of the Tinkerbell tooth story and told me that she was saving her loose tooth for that. She had even planned out the dialogue for her intro video which she had me take, while she stood in front of Pixie Hollow, inside Disneyland.
Here's her video: 
video
The funniest part about the day was that we spent so much time focusing on the tooth and trying to get it to fall out and it wasn't until we stopped trying that it happened! We ate lunch at The Golden Horseshoe, thinking that might do it. We rode The Teacups. We rode King Arthur's Carrousel. Nothing was working. Nothing!
I must admit that I was very tempted to accidentally bump the tooth out myself. When it was almost time to leave and Emi was growing more upset about the urgency of the situation is when it actually happened! Yep! We stopped by the Snow White Grotto to make a wish and after she bent over to look down into the well and drop a penny....BOOM! She stood back up, had this huge grin on her face, opened her mouth, the tooth rolled out onto her hand and she exclaimed, "Look, I did it!"
At that point we jogged back over to the Pixie Hollow area. That's when she really stopped to ponder the whole thing. She nervously asked, "Mommy, what if it's NOT true? What if Tinkerbell doesn't know? What if she doesn't tell The Tooth Fairy?" I assured her that Tinkerbell WOULD know and that The Tooth Fairy WOULD come, because of The Tooth Fairy's "radar". (referring to the "Rise of the Guardians" movie). She decided she WAS ready to leave her tooth behind...inside of Disneyland...but we weren't exactly prepared to bury it, for fear of getting into trouble. So...she took the tooth out of her necklace, held it in her hand, closed her eyes, made a wish, and tossed it over her shoulder and into the flowers at Pixie Hollow! I had to choke back my tears! 
When Emi woke up this morning, she found pixie dust all over her pillow and her face and money in her tooth fairy pillow! Phew! 
I'm pretty sure Emi's going to start a new trend if she tells all of her friends that the story is actually true....If you lose a tooth inside Disneyland and leave it there, Tinkerbell WILL alert The Tooth Fairy AND she'll visit your home as well! She now has the "pixie dust" on her pillow to prove it's true! 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Irvine Park Railroad Easter Eggstravaganza 2014 & Giveaway

If you have ever been to Irvine Regional Park, you know how much amazing family fun it has to offer! Among some of the activities you can do are hiking, biking ( they even have bike rentals), rent paddle boats, pony rides, visit the Orange County Zoo, and even have a picnic!  If you've never been, you need to take your family there right away! 
One of our favorite things to do in the park is to ride the Irvine Park Railroad. In past years, we've gone in December for the Irvine Park Railroad's Santa Train and festivities! 
This year we're excited to visit for it's annual Easter Eggstravaganza, which begins on Saturday, March 29th and runs through Saturday, April 19th! Children and adults can ride the train through beautiful Irvine Regional Park. Children, ages 2 through 12 years old, also have the opportunity to participate in an Easter egg hunt, hunting for eggs that are each filled with either candy or a prize.  
You can purchase tickets for your child(ren) to participate in the Easter egg hunts, which begin at 10:00 AM daily. Tickets will be exchanged for a wristband which will indicate a specific time for the egg hunt they'll be participating in. Don't forget to bring an Easter basket for each child who is participating in the Easter egg hunt. Irvine Park Railroad will also offer Easter baskets for purchase. Tickets must be purchased on the day of the event, in order to receive a wristband for the Easter egg hunt. Please visit www.irvineparkrailroad.com for complete details on the Easter egg hunts, including times and costs.
During the Easter Eggstravaganza, children can meet the Easter Bunny at a cost of $10.00 per family or group. This cost includes a picture that will be taken by Irvine Park Railroad staff and available for pickup shortly after the picture is taken.
There will be other activities to enjoy during the Easter Eggstravaganza including hay rides, a moon bounce, Easter cookie decorating, carnival games, face painting, picture stands and a lot more. Please visit www.irvineparkrailroad.com for full details including costs.
Irvine Park Railroad’s other annual events include the Anniversary Celebration, Pumpkin Patch, and Christmas Train.
Become a fan of Irvine Park Railroad on Facebook, follow us on Instagram (Irvine Park Railroad), view pictures on Flickr, and follow our tweets on twitter (@IrvineParkRR).
While at Irvine Regional Park, be sure and visit the parks other activities including Wheel Fun Rentals® at Irvine Park bike and paddle boat rentals, pony rides and the Orange County Zoo.
The park entrance fee - charged by the County of Orange - is $3.00 per vehicle on weekdays and $5.00 per vehicle on weekends.
Irvine Park Railroad opens daily at 10:00 AM. The cost for train tickets is $5.00 per person; children younger than 12 months ride free. Irvine Park Railroad is located at 1 Irvine Park Road, Orange, CA 92869.
We can't wait to go to the Easter Eggstravaganza 2014! 
Emi already has her outfit and her Easter basket ready to go! 
Now for the giveaway....you can enter to win 6 tickets (which can be used to ride the train OR participate in Easter Eggstravaganza activities) and 1 Wheel Fun Rentals at Irvine Park surrey rental (excludes double surrey)! Enter the giveaway in the Rafflecopter below! 
Good luck to everyone! 


a Rafflecopter giveaway
Giveaway open to U.S. Residence. No purchase necessary to enter. All fans have an equal chance to win, however, you must enter to win. A winner will be randomly selected via RaffleCopter and notified via email. No cash value. Winner will have 36 hours to claim their prize or a new winner will be selected the same way. Several different ways to earn entries. Not liable for unclaimed prizes or fulfillment. Sponsor has the right to refuse filling prize for duplicate winners from other blogs. Winner's tickets will be mailed directly to home (or mailing address) and will not be available for will call at this event. 
photos courtesy of Irvine Park Railroad