Mom Time at Dunkin’ Donuts

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wow…what a month it has been. time seems to be flying by leading up to the holidays, and i have been completely overwhelmed with helping at my boys’ schools, getting ready for Halloween and all the Halloween activities. has it been that way for all of you parents? well, a much needed break was in order, so one of my besties and i met over donuts the other morning to catch up on life and rest our minds. i’ve partnered with Dunkin’ Donuts to check out some of there Fall offerings, because there is no better way to relief stress than to eat a donut.

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can i say how nice it was to meet for breakfast! you tend to forget how much you need adult conversation when you are engulfed in taking care of a family and all the needs of you kids. plus, the yummy food was perfect for this prego mama.

right now, Dunkin’ Donuts is offering Salted Caramel flavored coffee, lattes, and macchiatos which can be served hot or iced. they are the perfect way to combine sweet and salty in a delicious blend. and all of Dunkin’ Donuts’ coffee and espresso beverages are brewed using high-quality, 100% Arabica coffee beans, always freshly ground and brewed to order. and best of all, you can get your coffee and espresso beverages just the way they like it with yummy flavor choices like pumpkin spice, dairy and sweetener. i’m not a coffee drinker (but i am a donut eater), however my friend Pattie LOVES coffee, so she was in coffee Heaven at our Dunkin’ Donut meet-up.
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my favorite has always been a simple maple donut and some milk, but this time i tried their iced hot chocolate. super yummy!!!!

dunkin-donuts-fall-menuwe ended up spending two hours chatting…we totally lost track of time, but it was just what my soul needed.

dunkin-donuts-pumpkin-spice-lattedunkin-donuts-ice-hot-chocolatebefore we headed out for the day, we both picked up some yummies for our boys….and some for ourselves to enjoy later hee hee. so many great choices…and right now the Halloween colors are on point. pumpkin spice, vanilla bean cream filled, peanut butter cup, apple spice and lemon curd were some of the flavors i got to surprise the boys with. they were very happy campers when they got home from school…and i looked like a super mom for getting them for them.

halloween-donuts-at-dunkin-donutsa-box-of-dunkin-donuts fall-menu-at-dunkin-donuts

i definitely see more donut dates in my future. i forgot how much i enjoy time to myself with good friends. and if you can’t meet up with your friends in the morning….don’t worry, Dunkin’ Donuts’ full menu, including breakfast items, are available all-day. i guess you could call it breakfast whenevs. Dunkin’ Donuts knows their guests don’t always have time to sit down and enjoy a complete breakfast, so they have made sure to create menu options that provide delicious choices that can be enjoyed anywhere, at any time of day. breakfast is not just for breakfast any more. so i guess that means some evening meet-up with my besties after the kiddies go to bed soon. wouldn’t that be fun!

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{ 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 CollegeSavingsPledge.com
• 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 https://goo.gl/x7On4F. 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.

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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.

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one day they will look back and thank you for what you have done for them!

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

We’re Having a Baby!

Popsicleblog_baby_girl_gender_reveali just realized that i never shared the big news here on the blog. guess what?!!!

WE ARE HAVING A BABY!

and even bigger news…IT’S A GIRL!!!! we just can’t believe it! i shared the news on the Sandy Toes and Popsicles Facebook page, but not over here on the blog. sorry about that….hopefully you are all fans on Facebook so you already knew. but i haven’t shared too many other details about my pregnancy, and there have been a lot of questions. so i thought i better write a little blog post.

anyways, i found out in April that i was pregnant, right after a blog conference i had attended. i kept getting really carsick, more than i usually do, so i thought something was up. but i took a pregnancy test and it came out negative. but a few days later, i was feeling worse….took the test again and POSITIVE!

wow. i wasn’t expecting to have another baby, after all, my youngest is almost seven. i was a bit overwhelmed with the news because i felt like i was too old to have another baby…i am not as in shape as i used to be and also in the process of trying to get healthy and lose all the weight i have gained these past 5 years. plus, my past three pregnancies were awful. i get sick the entire 9 months…could i handle this? but i guess we were meant to have another little one and now WE COULDN’T BE MORE EXCITED. or should i say shocked! i mean….i guess i can’t really say shocked, because we all know how these things happen. and yes, this is what can happen from a night of trying to be spontaneous LOL! but nonetheless, we figured we were done having babies and were onto the next stage in life with our boys. not so much now.

we didn’t tell anyone our big news for a while, it was our little secret, in fact, we didn’t tell any friends until we found out the gender of the baby at 14 weeks. it was hard to keep a secret since i had been sick and not feeling like doing much. i felt bad not hanging out with friends or going to family dinners. but once we shared the news, everyone figured out why and were pretty shocked and super excited.

The Day We Found Out the baby’s gender

first of all, it was the fourth of July, we weren’t expecting to find out the gender of the baby for another week or so. but it was one of those days when the boys were feisty and fighting, and the hubby and i really needed a break. so we decided to go on a lunch date before heading out with the boys to the family 4th of July party. on the way to lunch we got to thinking…maybe the ultrasound place is open and we could find out the gender and reveal at the 4th of July party. to our surprise…it was! why is an ultrasound place open on the 4th of July? kind of ridiculous…but definitely in our favor. i guess it was meant to be….so we headed down and found out.

i laid on the table, with warm goo on my belly and watched the ultrasound tech do her thing. i had a feeling that it was a girl…but just couldn’t believe it when she said the words…IT’S A GIRL! i was crying with joy inside. after 3 boys, i still can’t even wrap my head around the news, and until i get another confirmation, i’m still in disbelief. what exciting news. we are thrilled that we will be adding a little girl to our family…and the boys really wanted a sister. God has a plan and i guess this little girl needs to be with our family and probably will need to have those three older brothers in her life. what a blessing this is.

we drove home and decided that we would fill balloons with pink confetti and pop them at the party to reveal BABY GIRL. here are some photos from the day we found out and shared the news with our families.

here is the hubby getting to work on the balloons.

chad_parkin_preparing_for_baby_gender_reveal getting_ready_for_the_gender_revealhere is the family before we passed out the balloons to reveal the baby’s gender. everyone was super excited. we had planned to have flying balloons, but the confetti was too heavy, so everyone had to just hold them.getting_ready_to_reveal_gender then 3….2….1….pop!!!!popsicleblog_gender_reveal_partyIT’S A GIRL!!!! everyone was so excited.  the next day we revealed it to the world.surprise_its_a_girl

i am due in early January, right after the holidays. my first winter baby. i am very fatigued and my stomach is always sour, but other than that, i can’t complain. this has been my easiest pregnancy so far. as soon as the boys go back to school i will have a couple of months to prepare for her arrival and get everything ready for the holidays so that once i am gigantic, i can take it easy. at least that’s what i am planning.

i can’t wait…i love love love the baby stage. it’s just been a while, so i hope i remember everything. can you believe it?!!!! four kids.  i love being a mom!

here is the video of baby girl’s gender reveal…

My Mom Confessions: When Parenting Gets Tough

confessions of the real meparenting can be tough! i would never want to sugar coat the life i live with my family. it’s not always pretty blue skies with rainbows over here. my kids don’t always eat their veggies, they throw tantrums just like everyone else’s kids, and my house is more often messy than not. we can’t always be the perfect parents. sometimes, i need to catch my breath and take a break. so i am partnering with Children’s Advil® to bring you this post about my “Mom Confessions.”

see! my house gets messy….really messy.

Messy House

want to know some of the secret solutions that i use to cope when it’s not easy being a parent? i’ll tell you… anything goes when you are trying to get through the day. like in the morning, when we are getting ready for school, i tell my kids that if they don’t hurry up, i’ll take them to school in their pajamas. and if they are tardy, they’ll have to repeat the school year again next year – anything to make them actually get ready in a timely matter.

Kyle and Vann Walking to School

my youngest is so picky when it comes to food. the only meat he’ll eat is turkey. so now everything i cook for dinner is “turkey,” even if it is really hamburgers or steak. sometimes after big grocery store trips, i tell the kids that i have to use the restroom really badly, so that they have to unload the car without me and i get some time to myself, alone in the bathroom. when it comes to screen time, i tell my boys that if they play too many video games, their brain cells will start to die off. and my best hack???

Summer Cell Phone Contract

after my little sweeties go to bed, i get out the good snacks that i’ve hidden from them and eat them without sharing, while watching my favorite shows on television.

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i confess that these little parenting hacks help me stay sane…and if these little hacks help our family run smoother, i’ll take ‘em. i have created a few short videos sharing a couple of my biggest mom confessions. please tell me i’m not alone with these!

“Swimming in the pool during summer counts as giving the kids a bath. Right?!!”

“I pretend I have to go to the bathroom so my husband and kids have to unload and put away the groceries.”

“I’ve done my kids homework when I’m too tired and want it done fast!”

now, please share with me some of your mom confessions. i want to know!!!! And don’t forget to check out the Children’s Advil® Facebook page, where you can share your own confessions, too!

GIVEAWAY!!!! head over to my Facebook page to enter to win an assortment of Children’s Advil® product samples.

{disclosure: This post is sponsored by Pfizer Consumer Healthcare. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.}

Keeping the Kids Active and Healthy During Summer in SoCal

Running in the Wetlandsnow that school is out and the boys are home for summer, i have to make sure to find ways to keep them active and eating nutritiously. it’s harder to do this during the summer months, because they have so much more down time than when school is in session. it’s important to me for my family to be active and healthy, so instead of hanging around the house, we leave and go exploring almost everyday. i have partnered with Real California Milk to share some of the things we do to stay active during summer in Southern California. Real California Milk represents the real foods made with milk from more than 1,400 California dairy families who are dedicated to bringing nutrient rich foods to our markets.

Keeping Active

there is no shortage of things to do in Southern California to keep active. the weather is almost always beautiful, and mother nature is very good to us here. there is always a new or special place to visit and explore. we love to go to the beach and explore the tide pools…..

corona-del-mar-tide-pools

we may even find a castle.

Victoria Beach in Laguna

we also have great hiking trails in Orange County.

Orange County California HikingCarlsbad Wetlandsthere is always a museum or zoo to explore….La Brea Tar Pitsor a pool to swim in. my oldest is even on the swim team.Swimming with fun Pool FloatsJacks on Swim Team

plus, we just found out that we love paddle boarding,

Pirate Coast Paddle

and when we need a break from the sun the boys love to go to dance class….

Anaheim Hills Dance Class for Boys

or we can always do some indoor rock climbing or jump out hearts out at a trampoline place.

Orange County Kids Rock Climbing Lessons

there is no shortage of amazing things to do with the kids to keep our family active and on the move. but that is just one part of staying healthy. we also got the nutrition part.

Summer Eating

i have to keep the cupboards and refrigerator stocked with food during the summer or i will find myself taking the kids out to eat everyday. this is not a healthy habit or economical on my pocket book. i always have an abundance of fresh cut fruit that they can grab and eat, and stuff to make sandwiches on hand. we also have our own garden, a fun way to get kids involved in choosing their own healthy foods.
Popsicleblog Picking Vegetables in the Garden

also, it’s a great fact that dairy is a source of protein, calcium and vitamin D, so i am happy to feed my kids things like cheese sticks and milk boxes when they ask for a snack. ice cream is also a fun treat once in while.

Vann Eating Real California Cheese

Join Fuel Up to Play 60

another great way to get kids motivated to get active and eat nutritiously is to have them join Fuel Up to Play 60. Real California Milk has an amazing partnership with Fuel Up to Play 60, a campaign created by the NFL and National Dairy Council that promotes physical activity and good nutrition in schools. it encourages kids to fuel up with nutrient-rich foods – which include low-fat and fat-free dairy, lean meats, fruits, vegetables and whole grains – and achieve at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. kids can join and log their activities onto the Fuel Up to Play 60 dashboard and earn points for their school. there are different levels of points to earn with great prizes to earn for your school. if you are interested, visit www.fueluptoplay60.com to sign up your kids to start earning for their school. if their school isn’t signed up yet, it’s esy. all you need is a teacher from your school to help get the process started. 

Out To Play Clif Kids

i hope this post has inspired you and your kids to get out and get active this summer. i know i feel better when i stay active and eat nutritiously. a little vitamin D from the sun and a dairy snack keep me feeling energized while trying to keep up with the kids!

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