Getting Ready for the Holidays

Tracking Pixelbeautiful-christmas-home

this year, the holiday season has been very different for our family, we’ve had to get all the shopping and decorating done extra early because our baby girl will be arriving in the beginning of the new year. and not only do we need to get everything ready for Christmas and the baby, but we also have to get our house ready to sell. we are busting out of the seams over here. we’ve tried to make our small three bedroom work, but have ultimately made the decision to find a bigger home to continue our lives in. with that comes a lot of home repairs and beautification, so i have partnered with Schlage® to share some of the things our family has done to get ready for this time in our lives.

we are expecting that a lot of visitors will be coming to our home soon, so i really wanted get the house looking nice for Christmas, and then ultimately ready to show when we sell it. the thing that’s always bugged me about our home are the doors and door knobs. but we never got around to changing them out. i hate these flat panel doors and these cheap looking antique gold door knobs. they look old and dated, and don’t match my style at all.



so last weekend, after 13 years, we finally changed out all the doors and door knobs. WOW….what a big difference it made. now i have pretty 6-panel doors and Sacramento levers by Schlage® in polished nickel. i couldn’t be happier. just this small change has made my home look updated and fresh. i really wish i had made the change sooner.


changing out the doors and door knobs was the finishing touch to getting our home decorated for the holidays. and i am in love! my home feels warm and cozy and full of festive cheer. and the Schlage® door hardware was the perfect finishing touch to complete our home’s look, and was a low-investment with high-impact project that was done in just a day.

trendy-door-knob-styleschristmas-mantlechristmas-mantle-ideaspretty-christmas-treesanta-christmas-ornamentchristmas-presentspretty-christmas-ornamentsmy little elf especially loves the Christmas decor and new doors!upgrade-your-home-with-door-knobseasy-christmas-decorating-ideasour family has so much to be excited for this year. before we know it, the holidays will be here and we will have a new little one to cuddle and coo over. we will also have to say goodbye to our lovely home, but i am sure that our next will be filled with fabulous memories before we know it….and hopefully pretty doors and door knobs as well!

finally, i wanted to mention that with Schlage®, you can find hundreds of different door hardware finish choices and style combinations to meet your own style needs.


whether you love Farmhouse & Country Chic with its dark-toned wood, lighter wood finishes and softer color schemes – where you can incorporate Industrial style products, particularly in light fixtures and exposed plumbing. or Mid-Century Modern style, with the trend of using modern blues, grays, and black. or even the Hollywood Regency style, with the recent rise of geometric designs seen in light fixtures, small furniture and accent pieces. there is a style that you will fall in love with. when it comes to beautifying your home. it’s all in the details. Schlage has recently launched a campaign called “Open Possibilities,” that brings door hardware to the forefront – as an accessory that can complete or enhance the look of any room.  Schlage® will open the possibilities to a whole new world of door decor.

are you ready to make this easy upgrade and change out your knobs? Schlage products are available online at and, as well as in retail locations including Home Depot and Lowe’s. to learn more about Schlage and its product offering, visit or you can join the conversation online: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

pretty-door-knobsThis is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Schlage®.

Why I LOVE my Knott’s Berry Farm Season Pass and a GIVEAWAY!!!!!

knotts-season-passes-benefits if you have been a fan of Sandy Toes and Popsicles over the years, then you know how much i LOVE Knott’s Berry Farm. i share lots of the fun things the boys and i have experienced at Knott’s throughout every season. the main reason we are able to spend so much time at Knott’s Berry Farm is because we each have a Knott’s Berry Farm season pass. this way we can go to all the events that are happening year round. we enjoy our time at Knott’s so much, that i am here, trying to convince you that you also need to get annual passes for you family. did you know a Season Pass not only provides park admission to Knott’s Berry Farm all year long, but ALSO include some cool perks? it’s true….there are even more perks to having a Season Pass beyond its great value (and no blackout dates)!!!! check out some of my favorite reasons for owning a Knott’s Season Pass. (continue reading to find an AWESOME giveaway!!!!) knotts-berry-farm-rides

Always Something New to Do

at Knott’s Berry Farm they call it Seasons of Fun because the offerings always change based on the season. during spring, you can head to Knott’s Boysenberry Festival, the best time for food at Knott’s, and a salute to the birthplace of the Boysenberry. it’s a month-long food festival featuring boysenberry-inspired dishes that are both sweet and savory, plus there is a lot of fun, family friendly entertainment. The Best Boysenberry Festival EverBoysenberry Festival in Southern CaliforniaThe Fun Stick at Knott's Berry Farm Boysenberry Festival summertime means Calico comes to life with Ghost Town Alive! making friends with the citizens of Ghost Town and taking part in cowboy shenanigans make for a memorable summer. Ghost Town Alive at KnottsKnott's Ghost Town Alive NewpaperKnott's School House summer also brings fun in the sun for Gold Season Passholders at Knott’s Soak City, where several new water slides are coming. and don’t forget fireworks on the Fourth of July! Knott's-Soak-City fall is the season of Knott’s Spooky Farm, the park-wide, family friendly Halloween celebration with trick-or-treating and fun costumes geared for children. Spooky HollowKnott's Camp Spooky Trick or Treating as winter approaches, Santa Snoopy and dancing lights fill the park for Knott’s Merry Farm. nightly snow fall and festive holiday shows make Christmas time at Knott’s quite charming, special and unique. Knott's Berry Farm Train at ChristmasVann with Santa at Knott'sKnott's Berry Farm Carolers countdown the final moments of the year and ring in the New Year At Knott’s Berry Farm with a spectacular midnight fireworks celebration. Knott's New Years Eve Celebration all this plus hundreds of special memories are included with your Knott’s Berry Farm season pass!


Season Passholders receive discounts on select merchandise and food and dining throughout the park. and yes, that includes the signature Knott’s jams and preserves. Passholders also receive discounts on tickets to the largest Halloween event in Southern California, Knott’s Scary Farm. knotts-pass-discounts

Early Ride Time

during the summer and select days throughout the year, Season Passholders receive early entry into Knott’s Berry Farm. during early entry, the park is open exclusively to Passholders, which means you can be one of the first in line when the new ride, Sol Spin, opens in Fiesta Village next spring! Gold Season Passholders also receive early entry to Knott’s Soak City on select days in the summer. with early entry, Passholders can get first dibs on the best lounge spots and the first chance to enjoy the new slides opening next year.pony-express-at-knottsKnott's New Ride Voyage to the Iron Reef Lasers

Season Passholder Events

one of the best things about being a Season Passholder is that you will receive exclusive opportunities to attend previews of the Seasons of Fun events. PLUS, Knott’s holds a special Merry Farm preview party for Season Pass holders in November where you get the opportunity to experience all the holiday entertainment and shows before regular park guests. now that is AWESOME! Knott's Berry Farm Snow and Glow there are a million reasons why i LOVE our Knott’s passes, and i hope that you have a chance to enjoy a a season pass as much as my family does. and maybe you will even see us at the park one day. make sure to say “hi” if you do! head over to the Knott’s website and check out the Knott’s Berry Farm season pass options.


here is your chance to win (2) Knott’s Berry Farm 2017 Season Passes!!!!! contest ends December 23th at midnight. enter via rafflecopter below. to leave a comment, scroll down to the bottom of this post. winner will be chosen randomly and must be 18 years or older and a resident of the United States. Good luck!!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

{ This is not a sponsored post. Knott’s has provided season passes for the giveaway. All thoughts and opinions are my own. }

Best Amazon Fire Apps for Kids

best-amazon-apps-for-kidsare you still looking for the perfect gift to get your kids this holiday season?  how about an Amazon Fire Kids Edition Tablet. we have been working hard with our first grader on his reading and have been looking for some additional support in our efforts. when we partnered with Amazon and learned about all the great learning games and apps that can be used with the Fire Kids Edition Tablet in addition to books and movie support, we thought it would make the perfect gift for him. it’s the the ideal blend of something that is both educational and entertaining for kids. they are getting their reading assignments done over winter break while also providing some entertainment and keeping them occupied during during holiday travel.


Designed with kids in mind and best-in-class parental controls, you can manage usage limits, access to content, and set educational goals. Allowing you to guide what your kids are learning and watching, you can set a goal of 2 hours of reading before the ability to access their favorite movie. You can even create personalized profiles with age-appropriate content in Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, so you can share the device across the whole family.

Features of the Fire Kids Edition tablet

the Fire Kids Edition tablet is not a toy, it’s a full-feature Fire tablet with a 7″ IPS display and 16 GB of storage. you can also add a microSD card for up to 200 GB of additional storage. with the Fire Kids Edition tablet, you have access to over 13,000 age-appropriate videos, books, educational apps and games.

Education Goals – with Learn First, parents can block access to games and cartoons until after educational goals are met. They can also limit kids’ screen time by content type—for example, they may choose to limit videos and games, but make reading time unlimited.

FreeTime Unlimited – Amazon FreeTime Unlimited is an all-in-one subscription that brings together all the types of content that kids ages 3-12 love—including books, videos, educational apps, and games. you don’t have to spend time guessing what your kids will enjoy. Fire Kids Edition includes a year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited at no additional cost.

Web Access—With the FreeTime web browser, kids have access to more than 40,000 age-appropriate, hand-curated YouTube videos and websites.

Parental Controls – comes with Amazon FreeTime, a free app available exclusively for Amazon devices that gives parents a simple, engaging way to manage how kids use their devices, including innovative parental controls that encourage learning before play and that help manage screen time.

Shut off/Timer – Bed Time feature extends FreeTime’s existing Daily Time Limit controls to ensure kids aren’t staying up past their bedtimes on their device well into the twilight hours.

Camera – has a 2 megapixel rear-facing HD camera for taking high-resolution photos and 720p video, and a front-facing camera. enjoy free unlimited cloud storage for all Amazon content and photos taken with your Fire device. kids can explore their creative side with fun editing tools like adding stickers and drawings on their pictures, and parents can easily print them to hang, choose to share with friends and family, or auto-save to Cloud Drive. and remember, as always in Amazon FreeTime, kids are blocked from posting photos to social media.


If they break it, Amazon will replace it.

really! no questions asked. accidents happen, so the 2-year worry-free guarantee includes coverage for anything that happens to your Fire tablet, including electrical and mechanical breakdowns. plus it comes with a case designed for little hands, protects against big drops. the Kid-Proof Case is designed to be durable and lightweight, fit perfectly in little hands without adding unnecessary weight. they come in blue, green and pink, feel like a foam cloud!


Best Amazon Fire Apps for Kids

with the Fire Kids Edition tablet, you get unlimited, free access to 10,000 kid-friendly books, movies, TV shows, educational apps, and games with 1 year of Amazon FreeTime unlimited that is included with your purchase of the tablet. here are some of our favorite apps that can be uploaded to your Fire Kids Edition tablet:

Jobi’s Bistro – Jobi’s BistroJobi’s Bistro is a role-playing game developed for the toddler and preschool crowd. children can join the chefs of Jobi’s Bistro and help them run the café. engage in tasks like preparing food and washing dishes, as well as decorating and selling cupcakes.

LEGO DUPLO Food – get your food stand ready and open for business! this toddler-friendly game allows children build and serve ice creams, cakes and burgers to happy, hungry customers like Rabbit and Giraffe. Food must be stored correctly, and at the end of the day, it’s clean up time.

PBS KIDS Video – allows access to your local PBS station TV schedule. Every week, the app will introduce your child to a new “Weekly Pick,” a set of fun educational videos that will engage him or her in reading, science, math and more.

PBS KIDS Games – free learning games with your favorite PBS KIDS characters. the games feature top shows, including Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Wild Kratts, Super Why, The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!, Sesame Street, Dinosaur Train and more. new games for kids 2-8 will be added all the time that encourage children to engage in skills related to science, math, creativity and more in gameplay alongside their favorite characters!

Fisher-Price Baby – babies learn about animal names and the sounds animals make through interacting with engaging animations and sound effects! tap or tilt the screen to set a learning world in motion! there are two levels of play to grow with baby. Designed for babies 6 mos. & up. – a multi-award winning early learning academy that offers a full online curriculum for preschool, pre-k, and kindergarten learners. it offers more than 5,000 fun and interactive learning activities that teach reading, math, science, social studies, music and art. it helps children become fully prepared for success in school.

Sago Mini Road Trip – select a destination, pack Jinja’s bags, choose a vehicle, and help her navigate her road trip. when you chang destinations, then a wardrobe change is a must; we love this implied lesson about how where you’re going can effect what to wear. Players can select from six destinations ranging from the mountains to the big city. choose one of fifteen vehicles including a race car, school bus, ice cream truck and even a bathtub on wheels or a pickle car.

Super Why: Alphabet Adventures – a collection of five interactive literacy games that help build strategies and skills to master the alphabet! with each game hosted by a different Super Reader, your child will be introduced to uppercase and lowercase letters and their names, the order of the alphabet, common letter sounds and writing letters in fun and exciting ways!

Think & Learn Code-a-pillar – is a set of puzzles that aim to introduce young kids to the underlying concepts behind coding and computer programming.



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

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical PLUS giveaway!

rudolph-and-clarice-1Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical has taken the country by snowstorm!!! and now you can see it live at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles. the “most famous reindeer of all” from the longest running and highest rated holiday television special will be live on stage on December 23rd and 24th for 4 performances. the boys and i are super excited to attend this live musical, it will be the perfect holiday performance to begin the Christmas weekend.


Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical is the Stage Adaptation of CBS’ Highest Rated Christmas Special of All Time. following two successful years of touring North America, the world’s most famous reindeer and a holly jolly cast of iconic characters including Hermey the Elf, Yukon Cornelius and the Abominable Snow Monster will help Santa save Christmas during three North American tours visiting more than 50 cities this holiday season.


in 1964, the beloved stop-motion animated television classic, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, made its network television debut delighting audiences across the country. “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical is rapidly becoming a tradition for generations of children and adults and we are so excited to bring the show to fans in Hollywood,” says producing partner Jonathan Flom.

rudolph-hermey-and-yukonprojections, costumes and characters will be faithfully brought to the stage against a backdrop of nostalgic set designs. The cast brings high energy to classic songs and dialogue, while irresistible and loveable puppets highlight the charming “roughness” from the television show’s stop-motion effects. Flom says, “We address all of the familiar story elements from the television special with a talented cast and puppeteers who help recreate the magic on stage. Since the special itself is a classic musical, the stage show does not feel at all like an adaptation and audiences are surprised and delighted when they hear full performances of additional iconic songs associated with the TV special, such as “Fame and Fortune” and “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.”


the story tells the tale of a young Rudolph who, because of the appearance of his bright, shining nose, is excluded from the Reindeer Games. He flees Christmastown and meets up with new friends Hermey the Elf and Yukon Cornelius.  after finding The Island of Misfit Toys, Rudolph journeys home, where a snowstorm of epic proportions is threatening Christmas. can Rudolph rescue his family and friends and help Santa save the holiday? take the family to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical and find out!!!!


Get Tickets to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical at the Dolby Theater

Tickets range from $38-$104 and can be purchased at the Dolby Theatre Box Office, through all Ticketmaster outlets, or by calling (800) 745-3000. *children ages one and older require a ticket.

Rudolph’s partnership with PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center continues this year. A new illustrated storybook, T.E.A.M. Rudolph and the Reindeer Games, will be available this year only at the stage show performances and other locations where Rudolph is appearing, such as at theme parks, zoos, aquariums and science centers. A portion of the proceeds from all sales of the books will be donated to PACER.


here is your chance to win a Family 4-pack of tickets Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical at the Dolby Theater on December 23, 2016 at 7 p.m. to  game system with a charger. just enter via Rafflecopter below. contest ends December 18th at 11 p.m. winner will be chosen randomly and must be 18 years or older and a resident of the United States. Good luck!!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What Should I Get Your Child for Christmas: The Gift of College

This post is sponsored by ScholarShare.

parkin-boys-scholarshare-christmas-gift“What should I get your kids for Christmas?” i am sure many of you have gotten this same question that i have many time from family and friends this holiday season. grandparents have asked me, aunts and uncles have asked me, and even some friends. it’s hard because most of our kids have so much, they really don’t need anything. but let me tell you, there is a gift that every kid will benefit from…..a donation to their very own Scholarshare account.

ScholarShare is a state-sponsored, tax-advantaged 529 college savings plan that’s helping families and individuals plan for the cost of higher education. it’s available to any citizen or tax payer. and just about anyone can help contribute including Grandparents, other family members and friends. exciting news….

Double your Scholarshare Money on Holiday Match Day

on Friday, Decemeber 9, 2016, from 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. PST, California families who open a new ScholarShare 529 college savings account with $50 can receive a matching initial deposit of $50 from ScholarShare. To be eligible for the matching promotion, California families will need to open a new ScholarShare College Savings Plan account with at least $50 – to be contributed and invested at the time the new account is opened – and enroll in the automatic contribution plan for the new account with at least a $25 per month contribution. The matching deposit of $50 will be made to the eligible ScholarShare 529 account on or before 11:59 p.m. PST on June 30, 2017. There is a limit of one matching deposit per new ScholarShare account opened for a new beneficiary. Additional details can be found here

besides adding funds to their Scholarshare accounts, my boys do have a few wishes on their Christmas lists this year. i thought i would share some of them in case you are wondering what to get a boy for the holidays.

Jackson, my thirteen year old, is really into technology, drawing, swimming and playing water polo. on his wish list is a web camera, a laptop computer, ear buds (kids go through these like no other), Pokémon Sun/Moon for Nintendo 3DS, clothes and goggles and swim fins for swim team. he has been super good this year getting good grades and being very committed to his swimming by going to swim team and water polo practice five days a week. i hope he gets some of the things that he wants.

Kyle, my eleven year old, loves to hip-hop dance and listen to music, play his iPad, practice the cello, all things cats, and hang out with friends. he is my creative kid, and also a social butterfly who always wants to be on the go doing something fun. he would love iTunes music, clothes, Legos, Nintendo 3DS games, Tech Decks, and


my youngest, Vann, is six. he loves stuffed animals, and if he had it his way, his entire room would be filled with them. he also likes to hip-hop dance, read stories, color, go to Build-a-bear, and snuggling with mom. for Christmas this year, he wants a Jurassic Park Lego set, Beanie Boos, and Tsum Tsums. he pretty much likes anything i get him, so it was fun to shop for him this year.vann-scholarshare-christmas-giftvann-parkin-scholarshare-christmas-gift

and then there is our baby girl, who is supposed to arrive just after the New Year. since she is not here yet, there is no need for gifts. but i should start planning for the future.

thats a lot of kids! more reason to get those college savings accounts going now. time is getting shorter and shorter to start saving for my kids’ college. i will now have FOUR kids who will most likely be attending college….that is going to equal A LOT of money. but saving money for college doesn’t have to be painful at all. in fact, by saving in small realistic steps, you can end up saving big in the end. by simply giving up your morning latte once a week or eating in instead of going out once a month…you could put that money away for your kids’ college. we have created ScholarShare…saving plans for each of the kids, which are California’s 529 plans. they are GREAT!!!! and saving has really been easy.

with the help of family and friends during the holidays, on birthdays and special occasions throughout the year, you can work together on getting your kids Scholarshare accounts funded. it’s super easy for others to buy Scholarshare gift cards for your children, they are even sold at Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us. the gift of education is a gift of love !!!!
scholarshare-gift-carddon’t forgot about the Holiday Match Program this December 9th, 2016!!!!  time is short, soon our kids will be saying goodbye to us and heading into the grown-up world of college and careers. as parents, we love to give our kids the best, an not have them worry about the struggles of funding school and having to pay off huge student debt loans. one day they will look back and thank you for what you have done for them!


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