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
a Rafflecopter giveaway

{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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Where to Buy the Best Bulk Popsicles in the OC

old-fashion-popsicles-orange-countyi have a thing for popsicles. i love them….how they taste, how they’re cold and refreshing and especially how fun and colorful they are. a treat on a stick, what’s better than that. in fact…that’s probably why i named my blog “Popsicle Blog!”

most everyone loves popsicles, and has a favorite. mine happens to be the good ole’ Bomb Pop. but they aren’t that easy to find, at least not the large old fashion ones. there are smaller versions in the local grocery stores, but they aren’t the same and certainly don’t taste the same or as good. to get them, you have to go to a popsicle distributor or someone who gets them from a popsicle distributor like the ice cream man, ice cream truck, or at an amusement park.

well, look no more. i know where you can get the best popsicles in Orange County. Deelite Distribution in Fullerton has them. They sell wholesale to the public, and they have the best variety around. they are the biggest distributor in Southern California outside of Los Angeles.deelite-popsicle-wholesale-orange-countyand when i tell you they have the best variety….i’m telling the truth!  just look at some of the options. this is better than the ice cream truck, because this is where the ice cream truck gets their ice cream.best-popsicles-in-orange-countyso many choices, from ice cream sandwiches, icees, snow cones, character pops, big sticks, helados, ice cream cups to my favorite, bomb pops.popsicle-store-orange-countythere were almost too many choices to decide. but the boys and i picked a bunch of our favorites and stocked our freezer with hundreds of popsicles.ice-cream-truck-popsicle-wholesale-orange-county

the prices are great for the size of these popsicles, anywhere from $.30-$.60 per popsicle. around $1.00 for the more specialty ones. you can also get dry ice and bags of ice there.


at the beginning of the summer we loaded our freezer, and we still have lots left. it has been fun sharing our bounty with friends. they can’t believe their eyes when we show them our stash. i have also been taking boxes of them to parties and playdates.


as you know, my favorite were the Bomb Pops…but who knew there were so many varieties. so far we have tried the original, watermelon, hawaiian punch, tongue splashers, and my absolute favorite, banana fudge.old-fashion-bomb-pop-popsiclesbomb-pops-popsicles

they boys choice Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pops….

teenage-mutant-ninja-turtle-popsiclesand the hubby got these great Blue Bunny ice cream bars in Oreo Cookie crunch, strawberry shortcake crunch and sundae crunch. they are sooooo good.
popsicle-wholesale-orange-countywe even got a bunch of Helados (Mexican popsicles) and orange dream bars.popsicles-bulk-storehaving popsicles around the house this summer has been fun.


Deelite Distribution in Fullerton is open to the public, so if you are looking to for some fun treats, head on over. they only take cash, so don’t forget about that. and also make sure there is space in your freezer before you come back with too many boxes of popsicles. i also have set rules for my kids. only one popsicle a day, and they have to be very very careful not to leave the freezer open. we don’t want all our popsicles to melt.

now go buy some popsicles!


U.S. Tacos Co. in Huntington Beach | Taco Bell’s New Concept Restaurant

us-tacos-menuU.S. Taco Co. is now open!

last week the boys and i were able to preview Huntington Beach’s newest taco shop, U.S. Taco Co., the much anticipated craft taco concept restaurant from Taco Bell Corp. it was really a treat to get to try it out and see what the hype was all about…i had no idea what to expect. was is going to be like Taco Bell?

well no….not at all.  the best way i can describe it is, that it’s more like a gourmet food truck in the form of a boutique casual restaurant, with foodie quality food, and a great vibe steps from the Pacific Ocean.

us-tacos-restauranti just love the design and decor of the restaurant, it features a fresh a take on the traditional American color palette, with vibrant neon reds, whites and blues that are fused with decor that is definitively Mexican-inspired. brightly colored subway tiles, fun mason jars, and an open kitchen that allows diners to watch as food is freshly prepared. #eattacos-us-taco-co us-tacos-co-taco-belli especially love that they brought in hints of decor inspired from the Mexican holiday of Dia De Muertos.us-tacos-Huntington-beachand now about the food! it’s really exciting and different from anything i have had.

U.S. Taco Co.’s menu was designed by U.S. Taco Co. Executive Chef, Rene Pisciotti. the menu includes ten premium tacos that are American-inspired from places across the United States, such as the Philly cheese steak inspired “Brotherly Love” and the real Texas brisket filled “Not My 1st Rodeo,” but they all have a Mexican twist.

us-tacos-taco-bell-menu i got to try some of the tacos…they were pretty much awesome. my oldest son and i gobbled them up.us-tacos-taco-bellhere i have the Crispy Chicken with jalapeño gravy, Carne Asada with roasted poblano queso and Pulled Pork with peach jalapeño BBQ sauce and corn cake. so unique and VERY tasty!foodie-tacos-orange-countyand the fries! i am a french fry connoisseur…or at least i love eating them. U.S. Tacos Co. has some of the best fries i have ever had. the have a special “scoop” shape that makes them nice and crispy on the sides and perfect for dipping. you gotta try them with all the special sauces; like the jalapeño ranch, ghost chile ketchup or roasted chile queso dip. they taste perfect with just plain ketchup too.us-tacos-scoop-friesus-tacos-HB-OC the boys really enjoyed everything including the small batch, craft sodas which were a big treat to them…us-tacos-hand-crafted-sodas and they also the kids meals, which you can order on request.us-tacos-orange-county and you are not going to want to miss out on the milkshakes or Leche Shakes as they are called at U.S. Taco Co.  yummy! they are SOOOO GOOD! the flavors are unique and served in a large mason jar. i haven’t enjoyed a milkshake like these for quit a long time.us-tacos-orange-county-bestbest-us-tacos-taco-belli mean common! Friggin’ Fried Ice Cream with cinnamon toast crunch, Coco Loco with spiced chocolate sauce and chocolate flakes, and Shut Your Pie Hole with strawberries and pie crust.


talking to the owners and creators of U.S. Taco Co. it was great to learn about how the restaurant came to be.

“This concept started with a team of entrepreneur-minded food lovers steeped in fusion food culture,” said Jeff Jenkins, who led the opening of the first U.S. Taco Co. restaurant. “We blended this passion for unique dishes with the inspiration that we got from the Mexican holiday of Dia De Muertos, which celebrates life and family. What we dreamed-up was U.S. Taco Co., which is about the experience of eating good food with your family, friends and community.”taco-bell-concept-restaurant

the boys and i really loved our experience at U.S. Taco Co. and can’t wait to go back. i know that it’s going to become one of our favorite restaurants to visit when we come to Huntington Beach.

keep up with the latest U.S. Taco Co. News Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

#eattacosus-tacos-HB { Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. I was an invited guest of U.S. Taco Co. and was able to review the food with my boys. All thoughts and opinions are a bazillion times my own. }

Thoughts on Back-to-School and My Lunch Packing Routine #DelMonteBTS

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Del Monte, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #DelMonteBTS  http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV
how-to-pack-a-good-school-lunchit’s a very bittersweet time of year for me. the end of summer, and time for back-to-school. i love, love, love having my kids home during the summer. it is so much fun taking them on outings and having lazy mornings. but about this time of year, i can tell they need to get back to their school routine. their little minds need to be stimulated with all the cool things they learn at school.

getting back to the school year routine means packing lunches…which is not my most favorite chore. so guess what…i give the job to my husband! he doesn’t mind, and has a routine of helping the boys pack their lunches after dinner every night before school. the only job in the lunch packing i have is purchasing the food to go in the lunches. this entails me asking the boys what they will eat and then stocking the fridge and cupboards for the week.

packing a lunch with a good balance of healthy foods the boys will eat is sometimes hard to do. what they like one week, is not always the same the next. but some of the healthy food staples that are pretty consistent in our lunches are sandwiches, carrots, strawberries, prepackaged fruits like Del Monte Fruit Cups or Del Monte Fruit Burst Squeezers that i get for a great deal at Walmart. for snack, i allow some chips or crackers, and for lunch, some sort of dessert (only one sweet treat allowed).del-monte-fruit-bursts

my middle son Kyle, especially loves the Del Monte Fruit Burst Squeezers because they come in great flavors like strawberry and mango. i like that they are a healthy choice to include in his lunch.del-monte-fruit-cupsmy biggest goal in sending my boys back-to-school, is to send them with the tools to succeed and thrive in their schooling. not only do they need nutrition to keep their mind and bodies working, but also the confidence to participate in the classroom and the support of their teachers. having a great relationship with their teachers is very important to me. i really feel that when the teacher feels you (the parent) care…they care more about your child. i always send a goodie with the boys for their teacher on the first day with a little note letting their new teacher know i am there to help if they need it. so far, every year has been wonderful, and we are looking forward to many more wonderful school years to come.

thoughts-on-back-to-schoolbut wait! there’s a coupon and a fun Back-to-School offer at Walmart….

$1.00 off coupon for Del Monte 4-pack Fruit Cups or Fruit Burst Squeezers
Get your in-store coupon from August 1 – September 13, 2014, at select Walmart Super Store Print Shops. here they will offer coupons for $1 off the purchase of (2) Del Monte 4-pack Fruit Cups or (2)Fruit Burst Squeezers (while supplies last), by participating in the free back to school photo offer. receive a free 5 x 7″ back-to-school photo print with a school themed border by bringing in your favorite photo file. you will then also receive the $1.00 off coupon.


Here is a short video of our nightly routine of our family packing lunches for school the next day. this is dad’s job, and the boys help make sure he packs what they want.