LEGO® Juniors Bridges the Gap From Duplos to LEGO

lego-junior-preschooler-legojuniormakersplaying LEGO® at our house is an everyday occurrence. all my boys LOVE legos, which i frequently write about over here. but today i wanted to write about LEGO® Juniors. it is LEGO’s new line of building sets that bridge the gap between LEGO® Duplo and big kid LEGO® sets. the LEGO® Juniors are designed especially for children aged 4-7, to give them a great first experience with LEGO bricks through easy to build models. they have quick start elements and numbered pre-packed bags to make building easy and organized. kids can practically create them without help from anyone.

my 4 year old Vann, was so excited to build his LEGO® Juniors. he was able to build them all by himself with the easy to understand instructions. and even though they are the little lego pieces, they are less complicated than the big sets his brothers build.
lego-junior-legojuniormakersi also like that LEGO® Juniors sets come with extra packages of legos and instructions so that kids can take the initial big set apart and build other sets within that set. so kids can either play with the initial set, or build more things. this build and rebuild concept is great, especially for creativity and fun. LEGO® Juniors bricks set kids up for successful, non-frustrating, experiences for them to Make and re-Make.
lego-junior-contruction-set-reviewMaking and playing are a critical part of a child’s development as it is how he/she discovers and learns about the world. Making is the simple act of doing. It is both a physical experience—being hands on—and awareness that the world is constantly being built and rebuilt.In order to develop as creative thinkers, children need opportunities, stimulating environments and engaging materials to Make. Offering young children age-appropriate supplies is an important part of the journey.

see how easy the instructions are to understand. lego-juniors-easy-instructionsjust to show you that kids as young as 4 years old can build LEGO® Juniors sets, check out this time-lapse video of Vann building a complete LEGO® Juniors set ALL BY HIMSELF!

my proud boy with the completed set!lego-junior-stable-legojuniormakers

LEGO® is one toy i hope to see my children play with for years to come. as children make things, they gain confidence in their ability to bring their ideas to life. LEGO® Juniors is the perfect way to introduce legos to my little one, to inspire him and help him develop confidence in his building skills.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


For the love of Etnies Skater Shoes | Giveaway #etniesKidsBTS

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Etnies.
etnies-best-shoes-for-kidslast week my boys had the awesome chance to visit the Etnies Headquarters in Lake Forest. it was so much fun to check out the awesome Etnies shoes and learn more about the Etnies company. as you can see, all the kids were super stoked to get some new shoes for back-to-school. they have great styles for everyone from adults to babies.
etnies-headquartersmy boys have been wearing Etnies for years. their shoes are made for skateboarding so you can trust that they are very durable. i haven’t had a pair wear out yet. and addition to being able to withstand the typical abuse that kids’ shoes go through, the new Etnies Kids shoes are also adjustable. each pair has an extra insole so that when the shoes get too tight, you can pull it out and have a little more growing room. i think that’s something all of us parents can appreciate.

check out some of my favorite styles. besides the Scout style which my boys all have, we really love the popular Marena style.
etnies-boys-fashion-shoesand these….etnies-giveawayand these!etnies-boys-shoes

we even got to see the design process of Etnies shoes. the boys designed their very own pair of Etnies shoes on paper and then had it digitalized on the computer. etnies-shoes-designskids-back-to-school-shoes-etnies

after learning about the Etnies company and how they help the community, we headed over to the Etnies Skatepark to try out our skateboarding skills and see how our new shoes would hold up. you can imagine how excited the boys were. the Etnies Skatepark is the largest FREE skatepark in Orange County (non-residents of Lake Forest need to purchase a on-time $5 ID card). it gives kids the perfect place to skate board. you can also attend classes and camps to learn better skateboarding skills.

etnies-skate-park-free-ocobviously, the boys had tons of fun.
etnies-free-skate-parkeven this little guy….etnies-promo-codewho learned how to grind!
etnies-skate-park-skateboarding-lessonsthe highlight of the day was meeting the famous skateboarder, Ryan Sheckler, who has been sponsored by Etnies for the past 15 years. not only is he an awesome skateboarder, but he’s a great role model for young kids to look up to. he was quite popular around the park and the kids loved getting some one-on-one attention from him.

ryan-sheckler-etnies what a fun experience for them!


as you can see, we love our Etnies. and we would love to pass a special offer to you readers as well. use the promo code ETNIESKIDS4U to get 25% off Etnies Kids products (excluding sale) through August. a great deal for back-to-school fashion. thanks Etnies!

Giveaway+1one lucky winner will win a $250 shopping spree at Etnies online store! just click the image below to head over to the giveaway page. contest ends September 23, 2014 at midnight. good luck!!!

etniesKids BTS giveaway 2

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Family Dinner on the Beach with Sessions West Coast Deli | Giveaway

the-wedge-newport-beachsometimes you got to get out of the house and get outside to enjoy the sunshine. that’s exactly what we did monday night. the house was fully clean inside…including the kitchen (for once!) and i had had a not so great day with my anxiety getting the best of me. we needed to get out and enjoy some time as a family. so that is what we did.

we drove down towards Newport Beach and picked up our dinner at Sessions West Coast Deli. it’s a new sandwich shop that just opened this past April. it has a surfer vibe, and a very cool look.


right now, they have an amazing deal going on…from August 25th - August 29th, Sessions West Coast Deli is offering a “Last Week of Summer Sandwich Special” beach picnic basket for $35 (a retail value $75), to serves 4+ people. the beach picnic basket features four gourmet sandwiches, Cucumber Salad, Potato Salad, Pasta Salad, their famous Shaka Spuds and any four fountain drinks. 

we picked up our food that was all packed up for us and ready to go, and headed down to The Wedge. the waves were pretty big, and it was awesome to sit on the beach and enjoy our food with the most amazing scenery.

session-sandwiches-to-gocheck out our feast.

sandwiches, margherita salad, cucumber salad, chips and more…

best-newport-sandwichesmy favorite had to be the Summer Zephyr. loaded with fresh mozzarella and marinated tomatoes, it was the ultimate caprese sandwich.sessions-caprese-sandwich-newport sessions-sandwich-shop-newport-beachand don’t forget to order the famous Shakka Spuds. homemade potato chips with fresh rosemary, sea salt and shaved parmesan cheese…they are the best potato chips i have had. so addicting.

session-sandwich-shop-best-potato-chipsor how about a giant pickle!sessions-west-coast-deli-pickle-ocSessions West Coast Deli has a great selection of unique sandwiches, salads, sides and even hot dogs. they also have a kids meal to satisfy the little ones. we especially love how everything is named in surfer lingo. you can eat in the deli, have your order to go, and they even offer catering. session-sandwich-menu-oc

we give our family dinner on the beach two thumbs up and will make sure to do this outing more often. we are so very blessed to be able to live so close to the ocean, it is truly an wonderful gift of nature. hang loose!



one lucky reader will win a $25 gift card to Sessions West Coast Deli. enter via rafflecopter below and leave a comment. contest ends September 4th at midnight. good luck!!!

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{ disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. Thank you Sessions West Coast Deli for feeding us yummy food. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. }

Swimming Fun with Backyard Ocean

backyard-kids-poolwe have hardly been home all summer, with the road trip, camping and everything else going on, the only month we have been home this summer is August. and what a hot month it has been….humid too, at least for California. and since we have been gone so much, i am very behind on work, so i have really needed to stay home a lot more so that i can get caught up.

that doesn’t make for happy kids who want to go places like water parks, the beach and pools with their friends because of the heat. so it really was awesome that we got this cool 9 ft. Ring Pool to put in the backyard from Backyard Ocean. it has helped entertain the kiddies so i can get some work done at home while they are getting to swim outdoors. we put it right outside the window where i can see and hear them as i work. it is big enough for them to play and go under the water, and my littlest can even swim across it.

they are always so happy when they are in the water…as you can see, they got in before it was even filled all the way up.

backyardocean-best-swimming-supplieswhat i like about this particular pool, is that it has a filter to keep the water cleaner….

best-portable-summer-swimming-poolsand it is really easy to set up. it only took about 45 minutes to fill, and by putting a cover over it, we are able to keep it set up for multiple days without having to dump and refill it. really, the most important factor in buying a pool considering the  drought we are in. we wouldn’t be able to use it very often if we had to refill it every time we wanted to swim. that’s a great thing about having the filter too. plus the cover is a must, as i don’t want to worry about any littles drowning. backyard-ocean-best-play-pools my two youngest really love having the pool in the backyard…and i just love how they play together so well when they are in there own world of water make-believe.backyardocean-blow-up-swimming-poolsit’s also been nice to use since school has started, because they can play in it after school to relax after the long day. it was also the hit of the party at our last day of summer messy party. the kids were jumping all over the place in the water and also filling up their water guns from it. 

backyard-ocean-best-swimming-poolsit’s going to be hot in California for months to come, so it is not too late to get a pool to enjoy in the warm weather. plus, it’s very durable and will last multiple years when stored properly. head over to Backyard Ocean to see which options would work for you home. it looks like everything is on sale! they have lots of varieties of pools, pool equipment and even games.


{disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. We received this pool complimentary to facilitate this review. }





IMAX Island of Lemurs: Madagascar | Giveaway

imax-island-of-lemurs-madagascarlast weekend my hubby went out of town with my oldest, and left me and the younger two for the weekend. i spoiled the boys rotten, going out to dinner, two movies and KaBOOM! it was really fun getting to spend time with just them.

one of the movies we went to was IMAX Island of Lemurs: Madagascar. now, i don’t write about movies all the time, but when i do, it’s because i really loved it. IMAX Island of Lemurs: Madagascar was a wonderful movie. and the fact that it was an IMAX movie and in 3D was even more exciting. especially the gigantic screen. i don’t think the kids have ever been to an IMAX movie before.

irvine-imax we picked up our 3D glasses and headed into the theater.irvine-spectrum-imax-lemurswe were all set to go see the lemurs…

imax-movie-lemurs it was way too dark to take pictures in the movie theater, but i can tell you that the film was SO good!

IMAX Island of Lemurs: Madagascar is not an animated film. you get to watch real life lemurs in their natural habitat of Madagascar. you actually felt like you were in the rain forest with the lemurs, as the film was captured with IMAX 3D cameras. it took the audience on a spectacular journey to the remote and wondrous world of Madagascar, where lemurs arrived millions of years ago as castaways. since then, lemurs have evolved into hundreds of diverse species. the sad thing is that they are now highly endangered. Island of Lemurs: Madagascar highlights the tireless efforts of trailblazer scientist Dr. Patricia C. Wright and her lifelong mission to help these unique and adorable creatures survive in the modern world.

MADAGASCAR 3Dduring the film, we got to meet many different kinds of lemurs throughout the film, from the Ring-tailed Lemur to the Fat-tailed Dwarf Lemur. they all have different characteristics and ways of life, and it was fun learning about them all. lemurs are SO cute! i especially loved that my boys were very engaged in the film, they loved it just as much as i did or more. island-of-lemurs-moviemy only wish is that i would have loved the movie to be longer, it was 40 minutes…typical for IMAX movies. but i could have watched the lemurs all day long. so the solution? we are going back. i know my hubby and oldest would love to see the film…and my youngest will be very excited to see it again.

IMAX Island of Lemurs: Madagascar is only playing at IMAX theaters, go and see it!


3 Lucky winners will win a (4) pack of tickets to IMAX Island of the Lemurs Madagascar, and a Plush toy gift pack. enter via rafflecopter below and comment on this post. winners will be selected randomly. contest ends September 1st at midnight. good luck!!!!!!lemur plush-animal
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{disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. I was invited to preview IMAX Island of the Lemurs complimentary in order to facilitate this review.}



My ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Video – LEGO Edition

so, i was nominated by one of my Instagram friends to do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. thought i would share it with you!

Easy Broccoli Cheese Wontons Recipe

How to Make Broccoli Cheese Wontonsi thought i’d share a fun recipe that my kids love to have for an after school snack. i made these for them today, as this is their first week back to school. they have become obsessed with wonton wrappers and the variety of different foods and flavors you can combine to make a fun snack.

these Broccoli Cheese Wontons are really easy to make, you only need 5 ingredients; broccoli, cheddar cheese, cream cheese, wonton wrappers, and oil for frying.

first steam your broccoli (i just put mine in the microwave for two minutes in a bit of water). chop it up in small pieces.
chopped-brocolli now with the other ingredients, you are ready to start. how-to-make-wontonslay out the wonton wrappers and spread a dab of cream cheese and a pinch of shredded cheddar cheese on each.cheese-wontons-recipenext, top with broccoli. make sure to not put too much filling on each wrapper or else you won’t be able to seal them shut.Broccoli Cream Cheese Cheddar Wontonswith your finger, spread water over the edges of the wonton wrapper. then seal it shut, being careful that the filling isn’t coming out the edges and not to puncture the wonton wrapper.Broccoli Cheese Wontonsnow you can fry the wontons in preheated oil, turning them over once each side is browned. once they are golden brown, remove from the oil and place on a paper towel until cool.easy-won-tons-recipe now you can enjoy them!Broccoli Cheese Wontons recipemy boys loves these Broccoli Cheese Wontons…they are creamy, crispy and savory. Now go make some.Broccoli Cheese Wontons

cream cheese
shredded cheese (i used mexican blend)
wonton wrappers
oil for frying

steam the broccoli and chop with a knife into small pieces. spread a 1/2 tsp of cream cheese on each wonton wrapper. then place a tsp of shredded cheese and a tsp of broccoli on top. wet the edges of the wonton wrappers and fold in half diagonally and seal shut. make sure that the filling is not coming out of the sides. heat oil to medium heat. once the oil is heated, place 3-4 wontons in the oil and fry until golden brown on each side. remove from oil and place on a paper towel until cool. enjoy!





Fun After School Snack Ideas

it’s our first week back to school, so i am now getting settled on the school routine. sometimes i am a fun mom and like to try and find fun snacks to give to my boys after school. my goal is also to try some healthier options. i thought these school snack ideas from Family Fun Magazine were pretty cute. i may not get this creative everyday, but every now and then it’s fun to cook with the boys. we would have fun making these snacks together after school.Fun After School Snack Ideas - Cheese Sandwich Bus

School bus sandwich - cut a slice of bread (pumpernickel is used here) into a rectangle, reserving a strip of crust. trim a slice of cheese to fit the bread. then cut another slice of cheese for the hood. use the reserved crust for a fender. next, cut headlights and grill strips from white cheese and set them in place. use the pointy end of a grape tomato for each red light. slice another tomato into a stop sign and smile. Finish with black olive tires, trimmed to lie flat, and pupils (you can cut it with a straw). now you have a school bus!

Fun After School Snack Ideas - Tuna/chicken Salad Canoes Tuna Canoes or Chicken Salad Canoes - these tasty treats carry a cargo of good protein and serve as an allergy-friendly alternative to the classic ants on a log. fill celery sections with your child’s favorite tuna or chicken salad. then top each with a few thawed frozen peas. hopefully these fun boats sail off the plate into the mouths of hungry kiddies.

Fun After School Snack Ideas - Cucumber Roll-ups

Cucumber Roll-ups - our garden is overflowing with cucumbers right now, and i have been trying to find ways to get my kids to eat them up. these would be great at home or even in the kids lunches. in a small bowl, stir together 2 ounces goat cheese or cream cheese, 2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. cut 12, 1-inch-long strips of red bell pepper. using a vegetable peeler to thinly slice a large cucumber into 12 11/4-inch ribbons. for each roll-up, place 1/4 teaspoon of the cheese mixture at one end of a cucumber strip, press a pepper slice on top, and roll. secure the end with a dab of cheese. i think i would like these myself!



The End to Our Summer and Back to School


this was what my kids looked like on their last day of summer.

yep…we had our annual messy party. my boys were soooooo happy to have a MESSY PARTY…because of course, getting messy is what they do best. water balloons, water guns, ice cream sundaes and shaving cream craziness = happiness. and don’t worry, although the mess was probably as bad as it looks on this picture, it was an easy clean up. 10 minutes and everyone was rinsed of cfgf in the kiddy pool. that water was then used to clean up my yard. i was the hero mom to they kids because they had so much fun.

and then today, it was back-to-school.

i wish i was sad…but this year, i’m kind of not.

of course it’s tears my heart apart that time is passing by so quickly, and that i now have a third and a sixth grader. where does time go? but this summer was SO BUSY and there was little down time. we had a wonderful 2-1/2 week road trip, a wedding, beach days, went camping, and played plenty everyday…it was amazingly fun.

but now the time has come to get back on a routine. i’m tired. my husband’s tired. they’re tired. so, we’re very happy that school is back in session. i can tell it is going to be a great year. i am taking some time for myself, my youngest is going to go to morning preschool, and hopefully i will continue to focus on making life great for our family.

here is my Kyle this morning on our way back to school. a big third grader who luckily gets to be in class with 3 of his best friends. i hope they don’t drive the teacher crazy.free-first-day-of-school-printable-sign and here is Jack. it will be his last year at his school before he heads off to middle school. lets hope i can handle him going to science camp for 5 days. i haven’t let him do many sleepovers….and i’ve never been away from him for so long. but he’s growing up and i’m going to have to let go…just a little!first-day-of-school-printable-signand in case you were wondering where to get the Back-to-School signs, you can download them for free here.

and with that, our summer fun is over. Goodbye summer….hello school year!

are your kids back to school yet? do you do anything fun to end summer or to start the school year?


KaBoom! Free Family Event Powered by Disney Parks

kaboom-anaheimyesterday, i only had my two youngest boys since my oldest and hubby were hiking with a Boy Scout Troup. so what did we do? we headed over to the Downtown Anaheim Promenade to participate in KaBOOM!

what is KaBOOM!?

it’s a national non-profit dedicated to saving play for America’s children. their mission is to create great playspaces through the participation and leadership of communities. their ultimate goal is to create a place to play within walking distance of every child in America. and this weekend they are hosting a FREE FAMILY BONDING EVENT at the Downtown Anaheim Promenade.

i wasn’t sure what to expect, but since it was powered by Dinsey Parks, it had to be fun…right?! when we arrived, we checked in and where given a lanyard, a blank flag and water bottles for all of us. for FREE!

kaboom-gree-water-bottlesthe first stop was creating a family flag that you take with your team to each of the family bonding zones.family-bonding-kaboomwe all had a nice time together creating our flag. there were stickers and paint pens to help in our creativity. and i had a nice moment to site a reflect on my boys creativity, and really enjoyed their thought process to creating our flag.
free-kaboom-event-disneyour finished flag!Kaboom-Powered-by-disneyparksafter we finished creating our family flag, we were given a stamp on our flag representing the kind of activity we just completed. then we headed to the obstacle course. there are 5 different zones to the course, all focused on family bonding, teamwork and togetherness.

our first activity was building, and we all had to build a tunnel that our whole family could fit through, go through the tunnel and then have fun knocking it down.

free-orange-county-event-disneythis is our tunnel, but only 1/3 of the way finished. this was my boys favorite part. it was really fun helping them create it.kaboom--family-event-disney the next zone was called HOP. and we got to play a fun game together involving a hopscotch course. Kaboom-disney-family-funand for zone #3, we worked together doing some brainwork puzzles. wow…my boys are so smart.kaboom-disneyparksthen we headed to zone #4 and got to roll a GIANT beach ball through an obstacle course….hoping on one foot mind you…and dancing all the while. it was a blast of giggles and fun.#playfulfamilyour last and final task was to take our family flag and raise it up on a flag pole.kaboom-event-disney it was a moment of pride for all of us, and everyone was quit happy with the tasks we just completed.kaboom-#playfulfamilywe them got to choice special stickers for each player of our family. it was fun to see what everyone got.kaboom-disneyparks-eventit was a fun afternoon and special time to bond with my boys. i only wish we could have had the other boys with us. they would have enjoyed it to.kaboom-disney-parks-event
KaBOOM! travels all over the US and is coming to a city near you. check out their upcoming events, or follow KaBOOM! on
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