My Kids Back to School Photos for 2017

last year on a whim, i decided to get the boys back-to-school photos done by local Orange County photographer, Bonnie Elliot of Short & Sweet Photography. she does Back-to-School mini sessions that are quick and easy…all done in about 15 minutes. a bunch of my friends were getting them, so i thought i would too. i LOVED how they turned out so much, that i had to get them done again this year!

we ended up getting them done last week, and i wanted to share with you how they turned out. i LOVE them. this year we decided to take them at a different location. i am glad we changed it up…the red house adds the perfect pop of color. plus Bonnie has great props and is great with the kids. she managed to get all these photos in just one mini session. all i had to do was show up with my boys dressed and ready to go. you all know how much i love to dress up my kids! (you can see last year’s photos here. awwww….i am so sad, my boys have grown up so much from last year. it’s so hard to see their baby faces disappear as they grow older.)

we got a photo of all the boys together…

and one with all the kids together, just because.

here are the photos we got of Vann. he just lost a tooth, so it was fun to capture that.

here are Kyle’s photos. he is very photogenic….probably since he’s had a lot of practice with all my crazy picture taking ideas.

here are Jackson’s photos. he’s going to high school this year, and thought he was too old to get photos done. but i had to get a few. i wanted all the boys to have matching photos! i am glad he agreed to do these few even if we couldn’t put a cute outfit together in time. this close up captures him perfectly.

finally, we couldn’t end the session without  photo of little Dani Kat. she won’t be in preschool for at least 3 years, kindergarten for 5 years, and high school for 14 years, but i thought this was adorable. it’s going to be so fun to show her this picture in 2035 when she is hopefully graduating high school.i’m so glad we did another year of back-to-school photos. Bonnie does such a great job…we love all of them. she still has a bunch of mini sessions available on different dates, so visit her Facebook page to get the info. you can also email her if you’d like! you won’t regret getting them. Thanks Bonnie for the great work!

 

A Visit to Fazoli’s Italian Restaurant…Italian Food Fast

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Fazoli's Italian Restaurant

The first time i heard of Fazoli’s® was a couple of weeks ago. I’m always looking for great family-friendly restaurants in Southern California to share with my readers, and after reading about Fazoli’s, i thought i should take the family and give it a try. Fazoli’s is Italian food….fast! and i wasn’t sure what to expect until got there. what most interested me, was that as of June 19th, they’ve changed things at their restaurants to remove all artificial ingredients from the entire menu. this being part of the 0% Artificial 100% Delicious Naturally Italian initiative. i knew i had to check it out!

so we packed up the family and headed over to have dinner at Fazoli’s®. my kids love eating out but we only have “take-out night” once a week. and since we only go once a week, i need to make sure the food is good!

right away we noticed the daily deals. the prices were awesome…which for us is an extra bonus, especially now that we have 6 mouths to feed. we always appreciate a good value.Fazoli's Italian Restaurant Deals

there a 3 top things that my family does when going out to dinner. first of all, they argue. no one agrees on a single place, they always want to go to different restaurant. next, they whine. there’s always someone that doesn’t want to go where the rest of the family decides to go. finally, there is always that one kid that’s mad. they sit there angry that they didn’t get to go to the restaurant of their choice. UGH!!!! this is another reason why we don’t go out a lot. however, i knew Fazoli’s® would be different. all my kids like Italian food, so i was pretty sure everyone would be happy at this dinner. WIN WIN for mom and dad, because we both like Italian food too.

and this was just the case! everyone was happy, no whining. we ordered our meal….we decided to get one of the family-style meals where you pick two entrees and also get a salad and unlimited breadsticks. that’s right…unlimited breadsticks (when you dine-in). we also got an extra order of Fetticcini just because we wanted to try it. they brought the food out and everyone served themselves up a plate.

Fazoli's Italian RestaurantFazoli's Italian RestaurantFazoli's Italian RestaurantFazoli's Italian RestaurantFazoli's Italian Restaurant

so what does Fazoli’s® Italian Food….fast mean? that’s what i was wondering.

well, that’s just what it means….i would call Fazoli’s® “Fast-Casual” since it’s not a restaurant where you sit down and have waiters serve you the entire time. you order your food at the front of the restaurant, which then is brought out to you when it’s ready. there’s actually also a drive-thru where you can order from your car. so yes, the food is ready fast! not many places that have a drive-thru window have accomplished the significant milestone of clean food. especially not a chain store. way to go Fazoli’s®.

knowing that a restaurant serves artificial ingredient free food matters to me because i want to make sure that my children aren’t eating unnecessary chemicals in their food that could potentially cause problems in the future. there is no need for it, so if i can avoid it, i do. and Fazoli’s works with almost 50 suppliers to guarantee that all their food….a total of 81 artificial ingredients, colors and preservatives were eliminated from the food menu.

Fazoli’s® ended up being a hit with the family. good food. fast service. happy kids and happy parents. That’s really what we look for when we add a restaurant to our favorites list. And Fazoli’s® is the only brand that i know of, who offers an Italian dining experience for people who want a break from ordinary fast food, but without spending more. such a great value. plus we had leftovers!

even baby Dani wanted to get in on the action. she tried to steal mommy’s breadstick. yum yum

Fazoli’s® is a great place for family-friendly dining in Southern California. we visited the one in Chino Hills which is just a few miles north of the OC.

$3 off Coupon to Fazoli’s®

if you would like to check out Fazoli’s, make sure to us this coupon for $3 off $10 or more at Fazoli’s.

{Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Fazoli’s. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.}

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Every Car Has a Personality: How to Choose the Best One for Your Family

This is a sponsored post.

this weekend, the boys and i finally got to see Cars 3 in the theater…yay! we’ve been waiting months for it to finally come to theaters. little miss Dani also tagged along…it was her first time ever at a movie theater. of course, we all loved Cars 3, and enjoyed watching it complete with popcorn and drinks. the movie had a great message and the ending of the movie was perfect. the new characters in the film were also awesome, we especially loved Cruz Ramirez – she rocks! the newer, more cutting-edge race cars were cool as well with their different personalities and specialty functions that made winning races for older cars much more difficult.

check out some of photos from our Cars 3 movie adventures….

wouldn’t it be fun if the cars we drove, were like the ones on the movie?!!! my boys sure think so! a car with personality?!!! well,  Autotrader, the most visited third-party car-shopping site, thinks every car has a personality. and they encourage people to find the car that best fits their own unique lifestyle, by using their online Car Match Tool. it can help narrow your car buying choices based on the selections you make.

Autotrader Car Match Tool

with the Autotrader Car Match Tool, you can choose body style, price range, power efficiency, features and technology, even the color! once you make your choices, you then get a list of all the cars that fit that criteria. it’s so helpful. and if you’ve narrowed down your car options, but need a bit more information, Autotrader allows you to compare cars and features. this provides you with valuable information to make a final, smart choice. you definitely don’t want to get stuck only on a vehicle’s “reputation.” rest assured, Autotrader helps you do your due diligence to research specific models.

in the spirit of Cars 3, Autotrader has made this great little commercial highlighting some of the favorite characters from Cars 3 and their unique personalities. o ver here, we’re more of a “Mater” family, and tend to buy the more reliable cars. more times than not, it’s a used one that’s not flashy and not going to go out of style for a while.

it was fun checking out the “Car Matching Tool” on Autotrader’s website. i would have thought we’d be a minivan family all the way. however, since we need a little more power and a toe-hitch to pull our travel trailer, we actually were matched with a handful of SUV’s. surprising…especially since i never thought we would need a large SUV. i don’t even think i can park one…hee hee.

do you know what car you really need? next time you are going to go car shopping…head over to Autotrader and try the  Car Match Tool for yourself and see which is best for your personality. you may be surprise with a perfect match you’d never considered. “Every car has a personality. Find the one that fits yours at Autotrader.” 

{Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Autotrader. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. }

Family Fun on the New Slides at Knott’s Soak City


Knott’s Soak City has opened for summer and we couldn’t be more excited! and what’s even better, is that this year, Soak City has some great new slides, more cabanas and a new restaurant with yummy new food options. Knott’s invited our family to check it out a couple of weeks ago and we were really impressed. here’s what you have to look forward to when you visit the waterpark.

this was the first time we have visited a waterpark as a family of six! i was nervous bringing a baby, but it ended up being fine…and i even dipped her toes in the cool water. 
our first stop of the day was the new waterslides. Knott’s Soak City just opened 7 new slides. we were able to attend the ribbon cutting with Snoopy himself and the mayor of Buena Park just before heading over to check out the new slides.

The Wedge slide is an open air family raft ride was our favorite. up to six guests at a time can ride through twists, turns and surprise drops. even Vann could ride it since the height requirement is only 42 inches barefoot. as you can see, he really loved it. my brother in-law and niece loved it too!

Shore Break Towers is over seven stories tall and and has two  different kinds of slides. one has guests climbing inside an Aqua-Launch chamber where they wait anxiously for the floor to drop out from underneath their feet, sending them into a high-speed, almost vertical free fall through a series of flat loops and S-curves in a translucent flume. and then there are  dueling tube slides that zip riders through an enchanting series of drops and turns. the height requirements for all of the Shore Break slides are 48 inches barefoot. the older boy rode the tube slide…but everyone except dad was too scared to ride the drop-out side. yikes! but so many people we loving it.

next up was the lazy river, which is our family’s favorite ride at Soak City. perfect for all ages to relax and lounge around in while enjoying the SoCal summer sun.

after a few times around, it was time for baby Dani and i to chill out in the cabana we rented. i was worried the baby would get to much sun, so we decided that we should rent one. it was a great choice because we could order food, hang out on the lounge chairs, and it came with 4 tube rentals, so the kids didn’t have to wait to get them on the rides.nice and shady!we ordered some food from Soak City’s new restaurant, Longboard’s Grill. there are a lot of new food choices such as sandwiches, wraps, hand-breaded chicken tenders, pizza, hamburgers, hotdogs, fries and onion rings. it was all pretty yummy!

then it was time for some more water fun. the boys ran off to ride some of the big slides….

and Dani, Kyle and i hung out in the wave pool. well actually, we just sat on the edge and got our feet wet. maybe in a couple of years this little girl will be ready to enjoy the waves!

next up was the Gremmie Lagoon. Vann loves this area the most. it’s perfect for little ones, with shallow water, mini slides, extra lifeguards and fun water features to play in.

finally, you can’t go to Knott’s Soak City without playing at the Soak City Beach House and getting wet and splashed in the Harbor Waterworks. every few minutes, the giant red bucket dumps hundreds of gallons of water on everyone below.

it’s always fun time when we spend the day at Knott’s Soak City. we are lucky there is such a great waterpark in our very own backyards. it’s the place to be on a hot day in Orange County. look for our family the next time you visit….we’ll probably be there too!{Disclosure: We were invited guests of Knott’s Soak City. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. }

Caring For My Grandma with Bay Alarm Medical

This is a sponsored post.

every Friday night, me and the boys…and now little baby Dani too, head over to my grandma’s house for a date night. we love to go get a burger or pizza and come back and watch a movie. she is such a special person in our lives, and we love this time we spend with her. we try and get over to visit her as much as possible, but once a week doesn’t seem like enough. ever since my grandpa passed away 5 years ago, she has been living on her own. when we are away from her, we always worry about her safety. that’s why our family has discussed getting her a Bay Alarm Medical alert device.

grandma is very active and on-the-go, but has suffered from many falls. it’s scary. what if she needs help when she is all by herself at home. life’s has many unexpected twists and turns, so everyone in the family has agreed that setting up Bay Alarm Medical for our grandma is the best way to to think ahead. hopefully she’ll never have to use it, but it gives her the piece-of-mind to know that if she needs help, it’s just a click of a button.

so we did it! we got grandma a Bay Alarm Medical alert device.

it arrived and was easy peasy to set up. we just plugged it into the wall and pressed the button. the Bay Alarm Medical team answered and took down grandma’s information. we also filled out a card and mailed it in. that’s all! she is now set up in their system.

now, when a button is pressed, Bay Alarm Medical’s trained 24/7 emergency operators will be there to contact family, friends, neighbors and if necessary, local 911 emergency services. you can choose your emergency call list. in my grandma’s case, her son and daughter will be called.

each Bay Bay Medical alarm system comes with either 1 necklace or 1 wrist button. you can choose which is best for you. Bay Alarm offers a separate a fall detection option for those who might be unable to push their button due to Dementia/Alzheimer’s, strokes, etc.

you also get a wall HELP button. the wall button should be placed near the ground in high-risk fall places such as commonly used rooms, kitchens, bathrooms, or garage.


in the Bay Alarm Medical package, there is a Vial of Life packet. it is where we added grandma’s list of medications, medical information and allergies. this will help emergency personnel in the event that she can’t speak. we placed the Vial of Life on the refrigerator, it needs to be somewhere easy for EMTs to access.


the Bay Alarm Medical devices are not meant to be worn away from the home other than the front or backyard. they are waterproof and can be worn outside. this means that grandma can still do her gardening. Bay Alarm Medical does offer a GPS medical alert device for those that may need that service.

there is also a lock box which can be placed near her home entrance that can help emergency personnel access her home without breaking the door or a window down.

i let grandma get used to her Bay Alarm Medical for a few weeks before i asked how she felt about wearing and having it in her home. i was actually nervous to ask her because i thought i would get an answer like “i don’t know why you guys think i need something like this!” but this was not the case. i wasn’t expecting to hear how much she LOVED it. she realized that having a Bay Alarm Medical device in her home has not only given her family piece-of-mind, but her as well. it has calmed her nerves a bit…because she has had some falls and small emergencies in the past. just what if those small emergencies were just a little bit more serious.

this made my heart happy.

i would never forgive myself if something happened to my grandma and she didn’t have the access to call medical personnel. i can tell that this Bay Alarm Medical alert device. is going to be just what grandma needs to stay independent for as long as possible. help is just a click away. i couldn’t recommend it more to anyone who has aging family members or friends…piece-of-mind is a priceless thing.

we love our grandma…she deserves the best!

{Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. No kidding…we were already going to purchase a Bay Alarm for my grandma. I am so glad we did.}
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