Tips for Having a Healthy Pregnancy

kaiser_guide_to_pregnancyi’m now six months pregnant with our little girl. sometimes it feels like time is flying by, and then at other times it feels like i have been pregnant FOREVER!!!!  i am not the happiest pregnant person. i pretty much always feel sick and fatigued, and it lasts my entire pregnancy. however, despite still feeling that way, this pregnancy has definitely been my easiest. i am not sure if it is because this time around we are having a girl, or perhaps because i am older. but i think one of the reasons is because i have more time to myself this time around. my kids are older and in school, so i have the days to myself to concentrate on resting and feeling better. plus i have been given more resources this time around. information have changed a lot since my last one almost seven years ago. in fact, i have partnered with Kaiser Permanente, who has taken the time to give me some Tips for Having a Healthy Pregnancy.

kaiser_permanente_orange_countyi met with Dr. Paula Richter, an OB/GYN at Kaiser Permanente in Irvine. she was wonderful at our meeting, and we had a great connection. she seemed so sweet and caring. plus we discussed many of the questions i had about the current procedures of navigating through a pregnancy and giving birth now days. things have changed even in the past 7 years…i love how Kaiser takes its cues from the mom to make her feel comfortable and help her have the experience she is wanting for her pregnancy.

kaiser_maternity_serviceskaiser_hospital_ob_gynwe also had a great chat with Dr. Richter about steps i could take to have a healthy pregnancy. tips on how to feel better and stay healthy during this time. let me share them with you…

Tips for Having a Healthy Pregnancy

healthy eating. eat well-balanced meals and a variety of foods which are low in fat and have no added sugars.
try to avoid foods that are high in fat, sugar, and sodium such as soft drinks, desserts, fried foods, fast foods, whole milk, and fatty meats. it’s great to include healthy food options such as whole-grain breads, cereal, oatmeal, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese, lean meat, skinless chicken or turkey, baked fish, beans, eggs, and nuts. vitamins and minerals that are especially important for you and your growing baby include calcium, iron, and folate (also called folic acid).

exercise. exercising during pregnancy can help you maintain muscle strength, avoid excess weight gain, and shed unwanted pounds after your baby is born. try to exercise at least 30 minutes per day. make sure to check with your doctor or nurse before starting any exercise routine, and don’t overdo it. listen to your body and rest if you feel tired…as you should be able to carry on a conversation during any activity. walking, low-impact dance or aerobics, swimming, stretching or yoga are great forms of exercise to do while you are pregnant.

keep up on your prenatal visits. one of the best things you can do to keep you and your baby healthy during your pregnancy is to attend all of your prenatal visits. at these appointments you can discuss any questions or concerns you have with your physician. there isn’t any question that is not important. be confident to ask your physician or midwife anything you are questioning. and if a question comes up between visits, you can call your physicians office or email your doctor.

prenatal vitamins. take a prenatal vitamin each day as directed by your obstetrician or midwife.

educate yourself. even if this isn’t your first baby, you can never be to prepared. attending a childbirth class can help you feel more prepared for your delivery. Not only will you have the chance to learn more about childbirth and infant care, but you can ask specific questions and voice any concerns. also, this is a great time to brush up on your family’s medical history,  report any family incidences of birth defects, and talk to your doctor about problems with past pregnancies.

sleep. rest when you can. daily naps are great! you can also stretch before bed to help prevent leg cramps and calm yourself.

pamper yourself. treat yourself to a lunchtime manicure, spend a much-needed night out with the girls, or simply taking a quiet walk can help you relax and de-stress. go shoe shopping to purchase comfy shoes with good support. put your feet up several times a day to prevent fatigue and swelling of your feet, legs, and ankles. take a nap. being relaxed and stress-free is not only good for you, but also your baby!

stay hydrated. make sure to drink plenty of water – at least eight to 10 glasses a day or around 3 liters. try to avoid sugary drinks, caffeine and artificial coloring.

prepare. pack your bags for the hospital. this will take one more worry of your to-do list. don’t forget your insurance cards, pre-registration forms, camera, birth plan, etc.

finally, Kaiser’s website is also a great resource. they have an entire section just for pregnancy where you can find information on pregnancy week by week, a new baby checklist, what to bring to the hospital, and even sign up for Healthy Beginnings newsletters. you don’t even have to be a member to enjoy these resources. and if you are a member, you can enjoy the many classes and health programs in your area.

Kaiser Maternity Ward Tour

after our meeting, i really wanted to check out the maternity ward at Kaiser Permanente. until now, i have only delivered my babies at one hospital, and i was curious to check out Kaiser’s facility. they have two main hospitals in Orange County. one in Anaheim and the other in Irvine which are mirror images of each other. each offering the latest services to Southern California residents and beyond.

this was hallway on our way to the maternity wing. isn’t it nice and inviting!


on our tour, we ran into one of the midwife’s who was on-call. for some women, a midwife is the perfect choice for them to have during their pregnancy. i never knew that i could have the option when delivering a baby at the hospital. i think i would have like this choice. she was so warm and nice.

kaiser_midwifei stopped by one of the rooms…all rooms are private which is so important to me, and took a peek at the baby beds. it’s so surreal that soon i will be welcoming our little girl in a room similar to this.
kaiser_hopsital_babay_bedkaiser_hopsital_bedwe stopped in the hall where Dr. Richter showed me the baby bell which gets pushed overtime a baby is born. it plays a lullaby throughout the entire hospital to let everyone know that a baby has arrived. it’s just one of the ways that Kaiser hopes to bring up everyone’s moral at the hospital. i was told the sweet music brightens the faces of many sick patients who love to hear a new little one has arrived on earth.
new_baby_hospital_bellwe also ran into one of the on-call pediatric physicians who comes to check in on the newborns. i was impressed at how friendly and kind all the doctors i met were.
kaiser_hospital_pediatricianit sure was fun to tour the Kaiser hospital maternity wing. you can also take a virtual tour of a Kaiser Birthing Suites here. it makes me even more excited to meet my little one. i just can’t wait. i love babies.kaiser_hospital_baby_delivery_bed

i have to say that i was really impressed. i think i would really love to join the Kaiser network. the hospital was so clean and inviting. and i also was impressed by the classes and services they offer their patients. i am very interested to get to know more about their services and qualifications, because, being self-employed, it’s a big job trying to find the best medical insurance for my family. there are so many factors to think about and it can be overwhelming making a decision. i may have never considered moving my insurance into the Kaiser Permanente network, but after my experience so far, i am really going to consider it for the upcoming year.

but for now….i am busy making a baby. 3 more months!!!!!


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


Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

popsicleblog_family_tipsi get emails and messages from readers all the time asking me how i balance motherhood with working and running a family household. the answer is always the same. although the photos i post about my life may look beautiful and make it seem like life is perfect, it isn’t. i have the same struggles as most moms. but the way i find balance in my daily routines is by following the motto “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.” i don’t think it’s realistic to expect everything to be perfectly balanced when it comes to raising a family. there are always going to be messes, dinner isn’t always going to be homemade and prepared at the perfect time, and sometimes you are going to forget that dentist appointment you made for one of the kids. but its okay.  i have partnered with STAINMASTER® to share some of my tips on balancing motherhood. because they too, know that life happens.

here are a couple ways that i try t0 balance motherhood, home and work.

alarms from my computer and phone. my alarms goes off all day long. it reminds me of everything – when it’s time to wake up, when it’s time to take the kids to school, when to pick them up, when i have a work deadline, when it is street sweeper day, when it’s time to take out the trash…and on and on and on. i have alarms to remind me about alarms LOL. without these alarms, i would be loss. this is the best way to not have to worry about missing a time to do something. alarms take away the worry.


pre-made meals. when it comes to making meals, i really do love to cook. but in reality, i just don’t have a lot of time. i do a lot of freezer meals that i prepare ahead. or my favorite is going to one of those dinner kit making stores and making a month of dinners all in one day. this is probably my most favorite trick because, not only does it save a ton of time, it also eliminates a lot of the grocery shopping, and my kids and husband love the meals.dream_dinners

homework. you know those homework packets you get at the beginning of the week. my younger kids always get them. i have found that it is so much easier to do it all in one day instead of dragging it out through the week. then you only have to listen to thing for one day.moms-and-homework

Let kids be kids

messes. they are going to happen, so i just embrace the mess.  let them have fun and enjoy life…then at the end of the day, have everyone work together to pick it up. if they don’t want to do it, throw everything away in the trash. that’ll get them moving. this is just one of the millions of messes my kids have made….and i might even argue that i have the messiest kids on the planet.


carpets. when it comes to my home, its filled with little boys with dirty shoes who love to sneak food upstairs, cats that barf…yuck….and a mom (me) who enjoys crafting up messes all over the place. those high traffic areas? yep….we make those nice and dirty. my carpets upstairs are brown….just to help cover up the dirt. but my main downstairs carpet is WHITE. who has white carpet with kids?!!! right.


once upon a time, i was having a dinner party with my friends. i had made a gigantic chicken pot pie to serve for dinner. as i was taking it to the table to get ready for the party, the pie pan collapsed and the entire chicken pie fell onto my white carpet. OMG! since it was 30 minutes until the party, there was no time to make another pie, let alone anything else since i would have to go to the market to buy food. no need or time to get upset. i called my local restaurant and ordered a new chicken dish. ran over and picked it up and put it into one of my own serving dishes. of course i didn’t tell my girlfriends that i didn’t make the dinner. i just happily accepted the compliments on how good it tasted and enjoyed an evening of girl talk. and the carpet???? yep…it was a mess with gooey chicken pot pie smashed into it. luckily, STAINMASTER® has some powerful cleaning products that cleaned it right up.
best_carpet_cleaning_productsSTAINMASTER® carpet cleaners bring protection to your doorstep so you can embrace the simple pleasures of home. and they have a variety of products that focus on different problems such as pet stains, high traffic areas, area rugs and household carpet.


other stain removers can leave a sticky residue that can attract dirt over time, but the new breakthrough STAINMASTER® Carpet Care products quickly power out tough stains while leaving behind an invisible shield to repel dirt to protect against resoiling. it really helps keep my carpet looking nice and new. and since i have WHITE carpet, i need all the daily help i can get.

with STAINMASTER™ by your side, you don’t have to sweat the small stuff, it leaves you free to focus on the fun. motherhood isn’t perfect…there are always going to be messes. just accept that and life will be a whole lot easier.


and remember….


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

The Kids Are Back to School and I’m Thinking About College

This post is sponsored by ScholarShare.the_best_back_to_school_photosthe boys are finally back in school. it has been a long summer of fun and lots of activities, so it has been bittersweet to send them back. they’re so ready to begin learning again…but at the same time, we would love to have some more summer adventures. but it was time. i need to start getting ready for our baby girl, and with the holidays quickly approaching, time is getting short.

(keep reading to see how you can win $500)

Vann started first grade this year. where did my baby go? he is excited to be reading and to be able to play on the BIG KID playground and the grassy field. he also gets to see his brother on campus more often now that he is a first grader.

cute_back_to_school_photosvann_back_to_schoolKyle is in 5th grade this year. he got the teacher he wanted, and says she is really nice. he loves to be creative and be with his group of friends that he’s been friends with since kindergarten. this year he will get to play an instrument. he chose the cello, which going to be a fun watching him develop this talent!

balancing_a_pencilJackson, my oldest is now in 8th grade. he has worked so hard to get to where he is today. i am so proud of this guy. he does all his homework every night, mostly without complaint, and still manages to go to swim team and water polo practice every day. i can already tell this is going to be a great year for him…probably the best year of school so far. it just hit me that this is the last year before he heads of to high school!!!! i can hardly believe itjackson_back_to_school

but do you know what also hit me?

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.

with the realization that my oldest, will be heading off to college in less than 5 years, i really need to be serious about saving. luckily, this year i have partnered with ScholarShare, which has been an awesome experience. i have learned that 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. friends and family can even buy gifts card to add to their accounts for special occasions. we are so excited to have these plans for the kids. and you can get them too!!!!

Win $500 to celebrate National College Savings Month

ScholarShare is doing something BIG!!!!  to celebrate National College Savings Month, ScholarShare is hosting its annual College Savings Pledge Sweepstakes. participants are encouraged to declare how much they can save on a monthly basis for their future college grad – even if it is just $25. yep! all you have to do is pledge that you will save for your child’s future. then, throughout September, five eligible sweepstakes entrants will be selected each week to receive a $500 ScholarShare Gift of College gift card to support their savings goals.

How to Enter:
• Visit
• Enter your college savings goal and your contact information. You’re then entered to win!
• For an additional chance to win, once you sign the pledge, share it with your friends and family.

Five (5) winners will be selected each Friday in September beginning on Friday, September 9. California parents, grandparents, guardians or family members can submit an official entry form at The sweepstakes begins at 8 a.m. PT on Sept. 1, 2016 and ends at 8 a.m. PT on Sept. 30, 2016.

note: this sweepstakes is open to legal residents of the State of California who are at least 18 years or age or older and have a social security number or federal taxpayer identification number; and have not won a prior sweepstakes with ScholarShare in the past 12 months.


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.}

The Wild Life Sleepover at the San Diego Zoo

visiting-the-san-diego-zoolast weekend the boys and i went on an adventure! we were invited to a weekend to celebrate the opening of the movie The Wild Life which is opening in theaters on September 9th. the weekend included taking the train to San Diego, previewing The Wild Life movie, then an awesome sleepover at the famous San Diego Zoo. yep, spending the night in the wild.

this was an exciting weekend for the boys. their first time on the Amtrax Surfliner which we boarded at the Arctic in Anaheim.

the_artic_train_station_orange_countyorange_county_metrolink_amtraxorange_county_surfrider_amtraxthe boys lived it up in business class where they got all the muffins and juice they wanted…plus a fun snack pack for lunch. they loved it.taking_kids_on_amtrax_orange_countyand we headed toward San Diego for the weekend. it was a 3 hour train ride down from Orange County, but it was worth it, because you can enjoy the ocean views, use the free wifi, get food in the dining car, sleep and miss all the traffic getting down there. it definitely was a fun experience for our family, and i recommend it for families.traveling_with_kids_on_southern_california_amtrax

once we arrived in San Diego, we headed to the theater to preview the movie The Wild Life. it’s an animated movie about the Robinson Crusoe and the funny and adorable wild life he encounters on a deserted island. from the over-exuberant parrot Mak, to the snack-obsessed tapir Rosie, from the persnickety echidna Epi, to the acrobatic pangolin Pango, from the ditzy goat Scrubby to the commonsensical kingfisher Kiki and the always-cool chameleon Carmello, things are larger-than-life on the tropical island paradise Robinson is deserted on. the marooned human, arrives in the midst of a furious storm, and these exotic animals’ lives are forever changed by this bewildering new “creature.” but no matter their differences, castaway human and quirky animals embark on an hilarious new adventure, building the island’s first tree-house and surviving together.

the adventure takes a drastic turn when two conniving members of the animal kingdom — the savage cats Mal & May – pounce into a battle for control of the island, Crusoe and his animal posse must uncover the true power of friendship against all odds (even savage cats).

the boys really enjoyed the movie. if you like pirates, animals and adventure, then this movie is perfect. what i liked was that it introduced animals that you don’t normally see in the movies. the kids left wanting to learn more about these animals…which was excellent, because we were next heading down to the San Diego Zoo to do just that.the_wild_life_movie_review

with bellies full of popcorn and fun memories of The Wild Life movie. it was time of the fun to continue at a sleepover at the San Diego Zoo. and in case you are wondering if you too can do a sleepover at the San Diego Zoo, the answer is YES!!!! anyone over the age of 6 can do a sleepover. you just need a group of 35 people or more. click here to find more information on the San Diego Zoo Sleepovers.

san_diego_sleepoverswhen you arrive at the sleepover, you don’t have to worry about a thing. they gather your luggage and take it to the campsite, while your party is taken into the zoo to begin the wild life experience. also, everyone is given the most adorable reusable lion water bottles to keep hydrated.

first up was the first a many up-close and personal encounters with the animals. a tortise, a screech owl, a sloth and a toucan were very exciting to see up close. plus we got to learn more about the zoo and animals we saw in the movie The Wild Life,


then we loaded up onto one of the zoo buses and drove around to tour the zoo. it was so fun to see all the zoo exhibits. my boys absolutely LOVE animals.san_diego_bus_tourtram_bus_san_diego_zooalpaca_san_diego_zooelephant_san_diego_zootiger_san_deigo_zoosan_diego_zoo_tourshibiscus_san_diego_zoosan_diego_zoo_sky_bucketsflamingoes_san_diego_zoomonkey_san_diego_zoosan_diego_wild_animal_park_tours
then we arrived at “Camp Timbuktu” where all our luggage had already arrived.

san_diego_sleepovers_camp_timbuktucampout_san_diego_zooall the families….especially the kids were excited to get there things into the tents and set up for a night sleepover at the zoo. it was fantastic.san_diego_roar_and_snoretent_camping_san_diego_zoo

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Easy Chicken Parmesan with Pasta That Your Family will Love

Easy Chicken Parmesan that your family will LOVE!!!!!! Make this family-friendly meal in less than 30 minutes – www.sandytoesandpopsicles.comSeptember is Family Meal Month! so i have partnered with Smart & Final to bring you this family-friendly recipe for Easy Chicken Parmesan with Pasta that your family will love. having a family meal together every night is very important to my husband and i. it’s a time where we can regroup as a family, get up-to-date with one another and make plans for the week. with our busy school and work schedules, if we didn’t have this time, we might not ever all be in the same place at the same time.

family meals are at a critical intersection in our nation. family meals eaten at home have been proven to benefit the health and wellness of children and adolescents, to fight obesity, substance abuse and to make families stronger—creating a positive impact on our communities and our nation as a whole. but sometimes parents are overwhelmed on how to make family meals happen regularly during the week, without being overwhelmed. the National Family Meals Movement is trying to help with this, and Smart & Final and the Food Marketing Institute have joined. saf-fmi-social-2-600x600-01cduring National Family Meals Month™ this September, help rally the family meals movement! i challenge you to make one more meal at home per week. Smart & Final is uniquely positioned to make family meals at home easier to accomplish. they carry warehouse sized items with the feel and convenience of a neighborhood grocery store and there’s NO club fee. it’s one-stop shopping because you can buy everything from fresh produce to bakery items in large and small sizes. Smart & Final also has great exclusive lines such as First Street, La Romanella, and Sun Harvest that are priced at a great value….this makes shopping for families perfect.

i have shared before how much i love Smart & Final for my family dinners and how they are a staple for my parties. i really enjoy shopping at Smart & Final, and am especially happy because they have just opened a new store across the street from me, so convenient! and now, i am going to share my recipe for Easy Parmesan Chicken with Pasta. this dish is a family favorite. this dish takes less than 30 minutes from start to end!!!!

How to make Easy Chicken Parmesan

to make Easy Chicken Parmesan, you will need the following ingredients:

3 chicken breasts
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1-1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1 tsp. salt
black pepper
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. butter
1-2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 jar spaghetti sauce
Parmesan cheese

Easy Chicken Parmesan that your family will LOVE!!!!!! Make this family-friendly meal in less than 30 minutes –

now to prepare the chicken parmesan:

first, prep to your chicken breasts.most packages come with three large chicken breasts. cut each breast in half to create 2 thin chicken breasts. next, the under a sheet of plastic wrap, pound chicken breasts to 1/2″. note: now is also great time to get the water boiling for your pasta.

how_to_cook_easy_chickenhow_to_pound_chicken_breastspounding_out_chicken_breastseasy_chicken_family_dinnersnow it’s time to bread the chicken. in three shallow dishes place the flour in one,  2 eggs beaten in one and the Italian bread crumbs in the other. season the breadcrumbs with the salt and pepper to taste. first, drench the chicken in flour, shaking off the excess. then dip the chicken in the beaten egg, making sure to cover it completely. finally, place the chicken into the breadcrumbs, coating it on all sides.

how_to_bread_cheicken_parmesanhow_to_make_italian_pan_fried_chickenbreading_chicken_parmesanin a frying pan over medium heat, melt 1 Tbsp. butter and 1 Tbsp. oil. place 3 chicken breasts in the pan and cook for 5 minutes, flipping once halfway through. once chicken is fully cooked through, remove from the pan and place on a paper towel. repeat this for the remaining 3 chicken breasts.

how_to_pan_fry_chickeneasy_pan_fried_chickensmart_and_final_easy_family_dinner_recipesnow place chicken on a cookie sheet and top with mozzarella cheese. place in oven on the top rack at 400º and bake until cheese is bubbly. note: now is a great time to put the pasta in the boiling water and to heat the spaghetti sauce.easy_chicken_parmesan_for_kidschicken_with_mozzarella_cheese_recipebaked_chicken_andmozzarellasmart_and_final_dinner_recipes

to serve, pour sauce on spaghetti and garnish with parmesan cheese. you can place chicken on top. it also tastes great to spoon sauce over the chicken.


serve with a nice green salad. your family is going to love this one…and i hope that i have inspired you make a few more family meals happen at home! you’ll be happy you did.

Easy Chicken Parmesan that your family will LOVE!!!!!! Make this family-friendly meal in less than 30 minutes – www.sandytoesandpopsicles.comquick_and_easy_chicken_parmesanyum!Easy Chicken Parmesan that your family will LOVE!!!!!! Make this family-friendly meal in less than 30 minutes –

for more great recipes like this one, head over to the Smart & Final recipe page to find hundreds of more recipes your family will love.

Easy Chicken Parmesan that your family will LOVE!!!!!! Make this family-friendly meal in less than 30 minutes –

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