Thursday, November 8, 2018

Trick or Treating Fun at Universal Studios Hollywood!

We’ve had a lot of Halloween adventures this year! Then one of our favorite places, Universal Studios Hollywood, announced that for one weekend only, they were going to have trick or treating for little kids! Historically, due to Halloween Horror Nights, we avoid Universal until at least the second weekend in November. A lot of their scary props were out for everyone to see and I thought that might be too intense for my littles (please note that some scary props were still out but for the most part, my son seemed so excited to do the trick or treat, he didn't mind the props). It just so happened that we had something going on that was less than 4 miles from universal on the Saturday of the trick or treating weekend. We already had a busy day planned so we decided that my 5 year old and I would just run in for one hour while my husband and daughter hung out In CityWalk.

I wasn’t sure how much we could get done in an hour but we did almost everything! We got the below brochure with the information on the trick or treating as well as characters photo ops (that had candy too!).

My 5 year old has food allergies so I wasn’t expecting him to be able to keep a lot of the candy and he knows that the candy has to be checked out before he can eat them. One thing Universal did that impressed me was put this warning in all of the baskets with candy. The biggest thing that impressed me was that about 2/3 of the candy was safe for him! A huge thank you to Universal for that.

Once we walked in and got our brochure, we went in the first shop and got a bag to collect the candy. Each of the locations punch a hole in your brochure to show that you had already gotten your candy at that station. Most of the candy stations were in stores or restaurants but then they had about 4-5 locations that not only had candy but had characters as well!

The characters were my favorite part as they were dressed up in Halloween outfits! And of course, it wouldn’t be Halloween without some of the Universal Monsters! Hello Kitty was styling as the Bride of Frankenstein. There was a minion dressed up like Frankenstein’s Monster and Curious George was a cute little pirate. We also saw Woody Woodpecker as a vampire. We missed one of the meet and greets but I think we did pretty good!

In Universal Plaza, they had some fun activities going on. You could decorate a cookie, have a dance party or do limbo! They were having a costume contest when we were getting ready to leave. So many fun things to do!

We had a blast! Universal is really starting to have a lot of family friendly activities and we are so excited about that! We can’t wait for Grinchmas and the Magic of Christmas at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Spooky Fun at the Halloween Spooktacular

It’s no secret to anyone who knows my 5 year old that he is obsessed with sharks. And we all really love San Diego so earlier this year when Sea World San Diego offered free passes for preschoolers, we had to take advantage! My husband and I had passes pre kids which it was really easy to make the 2+ hour drive down to San Diego. Luckily, our kids are pretty easy to travel with and this past weekend, they had no problem making the drive down. I knew we HAD to check out the Halloween Spooktacular which is Sea World San Diego’s Halloween event.

Sea World’s Halloween Spooktacular had lots of fun activities to do. One thing we noticed right away was their Halloween décor with a sea flair. Pumpkin fishes, octopus tentacles with candy and pirate jack o lanterns in the Shark Encounter exhibit were some of my favorite decorations. I made sure to get some pictures of the décor and then off we went to see animals! 

There was also a Dia de los Muertos display that was beautiful.

The main event, at least for us, was the trick or treating aspect. I knew there may not be a lot of safe options for my food allergy son but I also knew that he would love the act of being able to trick or treat. That part started at noon and we started trick or treating right away. Much to my surprise, my 1 year old was into it too! I was thrilled that the first stop was tootsie pops and safe for my son and there was one other trick or treat location that was safe for him. I was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t more options for him but the important part was that he didn’t seem to mind at all!

Beyond trick or treating, I knew we would all get a kick out of Clyde and Seymour’s Big Halloween Bash. Clyde and Seymour are sea lions and their show is always hilarious. This was no exception. My favorite part of the whole thing is Biff, who basically the opener of the show. He cracks me up no matter what he does. 

As we were walking through the park, we noticed there was a live DJ. We stopped and listened for a few minutes before moving on. There was also a really cute sign that I had to take the kids picture in front of.

There were a couple things that we didn’t end up seeing. There was a “creepy creatures” presentation like owls, tarantulas and more that we didn’t see. Then there was a Sesame Street night time parade which was on too late since we had to work the next day. For those adrenaline junkies, Manta, had some special effects and creepy sounds which gave it a spooky element.

Are you feeling sad that you missed the Halloween Spooktacular? Never fear, this upcoming weekend is the last so you still have a chance to visit!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Fall Fun at The Original Farmers Market

We don't really have a lot of fall. Fall in California just means it cools down at night. However, we do have some fun fall festivities around the area. Today, we went to the Fall Festival at The Original Farmers Market in Los Angeles. Let me start off by saying that The Original Farmers Market is one of our family’s most favorite places in Los Angeles. We go often and walk up and down the aisle’s of permanent food places. We often find ourselves buying produce for the week or stocking up on meat from Huntington Meats (which buy the way, the last time I checked, was peanut free (this only pertains to the meat itself)).  We then go to its neighboring mall, The Grove, to walk around.

You can feel the history of the farmers market as you walk through it, some of the vendors have been there since 1934 when the market started! While I’ve loved and eaten at quite a few of the places, I somehow always end up back at my favorite, Charlie’s, which serves up diner food. It’s so delicious and everyone who works there is really nice! I’ve heard rumors that even Walt Disney had hung out there (though I’m not sure how true it is!).

I could go on forever about my love for The Original Farmers Market but let’s get back to the topic at hand. The Fall Festival. There was so much to do!  A petting zoo, beer garden, piggy races and more. We started off watching the pig races, they were so cute!! The little pigs looked so cuddly. My 5 year old couldn’t get over how cute they were. 

From the pig races, we made our way to lunch and along the way there was so much to see! We saw Pumpkin Carver Arthur who was SO talented. Nearby, was the Harvest Knot Workshop with American Straw, they made amazing things with straw and you could even braid your own straw! We didn’t have time so we didn’t stay for that but it looked so cool. As we walked toward the market, there was a place where you could guess the weight of a pumpkin and win a prize. I entered but I’m not sure how close I was to the right answer at all haha.

My favorite part of the whole festival was the photo ops. For whatever reason, I think the cut out photo ops that you stick your head through are so fun. We definitely stopped for some pictures and someone was even nice enough to take a picture of all 4 of us. I love all the pumpkin and fall décor, it was so festive! From there we ate (I had Charlie’s of course!) and then walked around The Original Farmers Market.

There were a few things that we either couldn’t stop for or we missed completely. There was this cute petting zoo that my son really wanted to go to! The line though was just too long the entire time we were there. I never found the pumpkin patch or game zone, however, I believe that they were down the street from the petting zoo hence why I didn’t find them. Next year for sure! There was also quite a bit of live entertainment from bands to walk around performers. However, you might laugh, but I am the saddest about missing the pie eating contest! I think it would be so entertaining to watch and I somehow miss it every time we are at a place that has one. One of my goals for 2019 is to see a pie eating contest!

We had such a great time at the Fall Festival! I can’t wait until next year!

Are there any fall festivals that you’ll be going to this year? Tell me about it in the comments!  

Friday, August 31, 2018

A Letter to my Son on his First Day of Elementary School

To my sweet little boy,

Today you embark on the beginning of your schooling. Though you have been in preschool and pre-k, you are in transitional kindergarten now and at what we have been calling “big boy school”. I always promised myself that I wouldn’t be emotional with such transitions and I would enjoy all your stages of life. But as I sit here, I think how are you almost 5 already and how are you already in elementary school? Seems like I just blinked. All those stereotypical sayings like “The days are long but the years are short and that is SO true. I feel like I will close my eyes and you will be in college! I wish time would slow just a bit.

Pre-K to TK 

For your school journey, I wish you many things. I wish you happiness. I hope you love learning and love school. I wish you challenging work, so that your mind will grow. I wish you friendship, lifelong friends that you can call when the going gets tough. Did you know I met your Godmother in Kindergarten? I wish for you knowledge, to know right from wrong, to know hardship and pain is temporary and to not let the pressures of school or your peers sway you too much. I wish you safety, with food allergies, it is another layer of worry and anxiety about keeping you safe.

I hope you will be many things. I hope you will be KIND. The world needs so much more kindness these days. I hope you will be a good friend, remember, everyone needs a friend. I hope you will be respectful, of your teachers, your friends and most of all to yourself.

You are a spitfire, my love, but so kind and everyone’s friend. For as hard as you play, you love equally as hard. May you never lose that. I am so proud of you, my little boy. You are one of my greatest adventures.


Saturday, August 18, 2018

Why a Girls Trip to Disneyland is Good for the Soul

As a mom of 2 small children, I rarely even get to go to the bathroom without interruption. My “me” time is mostly my commute to work or maybe 30 minutes after the baby goes to sleep (but I’m usually so tired, I just fall asleep right after she does!) Though I dream of having time to sit and watch TV or sleeping through the night, I know that this is such a fleeting time in life and my kids will never need me this much again. Recently, I did take a whole day to spend with a friend at the Happiest Place on Earth: Disneyland. This recharged me more than I even knew I needed.

I have a friend who lives in Alabama. We had always talked about someday going to Disneyland together as she had never been so when she had to come out here for business, we knew, this was our chance! As this was her first trip and my wonderful husband was willing, I decided to leave the kids at home so I could give her a magical day! It has been years and years since I had a whole day with just a friend. While, I had gone to a Disney event with a friend, it wasn’t the same as having a whole day to be free and have fun. I encourage everyone to have a girls trip to Disneyland and to convince you, here are my top 3 reasons why:

3.  You can go on more rides and experiences.

I had a list of rides my friend wanted to go on. To maximize the (brief) low crowds on this summer Sunday morning, we got to the park at Rope Drop and between that and Max Pass, we hit a good chunk of the major rides in the first 2-3 hours the park was open. With the addition of the new Max Pass, Disneyland has really made it easy to plan your day (even if you bring the kids!). With kids, someone is always hungry/needs a diaper change/has to go potty so it just slows down everything. Plus, kids might have a height restriction limit as well. Without those delays, we could easily go from ride to ride. I know moms will be shocked to hear that we also got to leisurely enjoy a snack!

2.  You get to do what you want.

So many times, with kids, it becomes about doing what they want. Which is really great and I make sure my kids get to experience the magic of Disney every chance I get. But it is fun to get to mix it up and do what you want. Now that doesn’t mean that you aren’t hitting up Fantasyland first thing! I had to bring my breast pump as I am still nursing my daughter and when I asked the Baby Care Center about storing it and told them that I was kid free, they asked where we were going first. I paused and then I answered Peter Pan! And we all had a good laugh about that. After our tour of Fantasyland, we did get to hit up Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion and Splash Mountain so we did do some of the big rides!

1.       You get to unwind and recharge.

This has been a hectic summer. My son recently changed schools as he is now going to what we are calling “big boy school” (insert sobbing mom face here). And I had been doing a couple events with my side business, The Short Shop. I was exhausted and tense. Cue this trip and I couldn’t believe how well it recharged me. I needed time with a girlfriend to be myself and not mom/wife/employee and just be Kelly again. I have not slept a whole night in really like 5 years. The below picture is not flattering at all but I really believe it shows a relaxed, rejuvenated me.

I am so grateful that I got this opportunity to go to my happy place with a friend and got to show her why it was so magical. I was still energized when I got home and my kids were absolutely over the moon to see me. The best part? I got home and they had waited up for me and I still got to put them to bed. It’s the best of both worlds!

Have you done a Disney trip with just friends? Tell me about it below!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Bringing Laughter Back

My 4.5 year old is very intuitive. He always has been. He knew I was pregnant with a girl without me even ever telling him I was pregnant. He can always tell when I’m sad. In between his LOUD yelling and silly persona, he occasionally comes out with these insightful things. This is when I should stop and listen.

The comment that made me stop in my steps.

A couple weeks ago, my husband and I were joking around in the car and I started hysterically laughing, a “I’m carefree and having fun laugh”. And then from the back of the car, I hear:

“Do it again, I love it when mommy laughs”

This made me pause. When WAS the last time I had really cracked up like that? I’m not an unhappy person or anything like that but ever since I had my daughter, we’ve been busier and adjusting. I feel like I’m still in survival mode. A baby is an adjustment, that’s for sure. But I think I deserve and my kids deserve, a mom who will stop and laugh at life.

In those 2 weeks since he said that, I have been working on being more relaxed. Someone who laughs with her family more. I have improved but I’m still in the survival stage and that’s OK. It’s hard having a baby. It’s hard having 2 kids. It’s hard trying to balance it all. But laughter is the best medicine right?

He may love it when I laugh but to me, there is no better sound than he and his sisters laughter. It’ll be my goal to make sure they grow up in a house full of laughter and joy.

What has made you laugh lately? How do you find laughter while going through the chaos that is life?

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Cook with us – Peanut free/Gluten free Boysenberry Pie!

Boysenberry Pie, Oh My!

Back in March, we attending the Knott’s Berry Farm Boysenberry Festival. During that trip, we stumbled on a place to make your own mini boysenberry pie. My peanut allergic son was sad that this was not safe for him so my sweet friend decided that she was going to find a way to make a safe pie for him. We were all thrilled and I was especially touched that my friend would go to such lengths to find a safe pie for him! My son used to be allergic to wheat and often prefers gluten free foods so we decided to find a gluten free pie crust and everything else just happened to be gluten free so that was a bonus too! 

However, please keep in mind that we were only confirming the absence of peanut in the foods/facilities so gluten may be present in facility the ingredient was made in. After searching for recipes, I found a simple one on the Oregon Specialty Fruit website. You can find it here. We used the ingredients from the following companies below:

-          Oregon Specialty Fruit for the boysenberries (Allergen confirmation here)
-          Wholly Wholesome Gluten Free Pie Crust (Confirmation via Facebook)
-          Argo cornstarch (Allergen confirmation here)
-          C&H Sugar (Confirmation via email)

I knew my son who is 4 would want to help so I wanted to find a simple recipe that he could help with. He was so excited to be able to pour sugar and boysenberries. And the fact that this recipe just had 4 ingredients, it made it so he could be part of every step of the process.

1.       We first mixed syrup from one can of berries with cornstarch and half the sugar. Then once it was thick, we added the rest of the sugar along with the berries.

2.       We then put the filling into one of the pie shells and then used the other pie shell for the top (after breaking off the side)

3.       We cooked for 30 minutes on 400 degrees and voila! A perfect boysenberry pie.

So easy and safe for my little guy! I’m hoping to make him some more fun and safe recipes based off our favorite restaurant and theme park recipes and of course, take you all along the ride!