The Great Kindness Challenge – Incorporating It Everyday

At the end of the year my family and I were recovering from a messy stomach flu. Messy as in projectile “stuff” from both ends for four out of six family members over the course of five days.

This stomach flu is not to be confused with THE FLU. You know, the one that has a death toll on the local news. The urgent care nurse set us straight when we brought our son in. With a lack of fever, his illness couldn’t technically be classified as THE FLU. After three Otter Pops (blue vomit, green vomit, yellow vomit), he whispered to the nurse, “No more popsicles”. Thankfully an anti-nausea tablet halted the vomiting and a four hour nap the following day had him feeling better.

My son was the last to get hit with the bug. Earlier in the week, we’d already been to urgent care with our toddler daughter (Otter Pops & an anti-nausea tablet did the trick for her too). Both my husband and I had gone through the ick and now, our 6 year old guy was getting hit hard. We’d debated going to the urgent care, but he’d been sick all day and wasn’t keeping down any liquids. We got grandma to stay with the other kids and put him in the car with a trash can, just in case (yes, he needed it).

My husband and I were worried. We were still recovering ourselves and feeling edgy. It was late in the evening, when we usually had the kids in bed and we were headed to sleep soon ourselves. Our minds were distracted with our son in the backseat, holding on to his trash can and saying his tummy felt okay right now. So when the car in front of us tapped his brakes after turning a corner, we were startled.

“What’s wrong with his car?”, I said aloud. “Who brakes like that after a turn?”

My husband shrugged. We went down several blocks behind the car until we both came to a red light. As my husband slowed to get behind, we saw someone open the driver side door and turn to face us. My husband immediately stopped our van about 20 feet back.

The man took a few steps towards our car and then stood for a moment, his body lit in our headlights and then he screamed, “TURN OFF YOUR HIGH BEAMS! YOU’RE BLINDING ME!” Then he turned swiftly, got back in his car and drove away through the green light.

Oh.

My husband fumbled with the knobs and gears on the dash. He’d only driven our van a few times after dark and didn’t realize that the high beams had been bumped on. I was able to help him turn them off and we were on our way.

My husband was surprisingly calm. The shock of what had happened soaked in and he said, “I thought that guy was going to come to the window and punch me in the face!”

I was decidedly more livid. I could feel the anger of that man’s delivery bubbling to the surface.

“Why did he have to get so MAD?! Couldn’t he have handled that in a different way? Seriously, all he had to do was say, “Your high beams are on, buddy”, he didn’t have to scream like that”.

I was riled up. For weeks the memory of that man and his aggression for what was purely a distracted mistake bothered me.

The Kindness Challenge

My kids are all celebrating “Kindness Week” at their schools this week. Similar in tone to “Red Ribbon Week” there are organized activities, like “Crazy Sock Day”. The kids are working on classroom projects that revolve around kindness. There are assemblies and contests that focus on being kind. My kindergartener has a checklist of kind things he needs to accomplish this week including smiling at others and helping at home. I did notice that without prompting he cleared his dinner dishes and was helpful with his little sister.

The event is THE GREAT KINDNESS CHALLENGE.  I love the idea of incorporating more kindness. Naturally I encourage my kids to be more kind with each other, but spreading that ripple of kindness to others outside of the circle is more important. I like how the challenge gets kids to think of others in a positive way. Less of “what do I get out of it” and more of a “how can I help” attitude.

How can you adopt the kindness challenge to make big changes in your life everyday? Find out how to incorporate kindness into your life each day.

Another Test of Kindness

Yesterday morning I was driving my kids to their respective schools in the family minivan. It was just after 7 am and I stopped at a 4-way stop along with another vehicle. We’d both reached the stop at the same time and paused. I was turning right, so I turned around the corner and was met by a blaring horn.

I glanced back in my mirror at the owner of the horn, the man in the other vehicle. He’d just started moving straight through the intersection and was apparently peeved that I’d moved through the intersection first. He was gesturing and yelling (thank goodness we couldn’t hear what he was saying!)

I hadn’t cut him off. He was still 2 yards back from me. We’d both gotten to the intersection at the same time. Why was he so angry that I’d turned before him?

He was still posturing when we reached the next stop sign. I looked at his face in the side mirror, still hollering at me. I mouthed, “It’s not a big deal”. To which I was greeted with an inappropriate hand gesture when I turned the corner and he flew straight through the intersection.

My teenage son, in the front seat was witness to it all and I vented.

“What in the world is he freaking out about?! Seriously. It’s not like I cut him off, we both got to the intersection at the same time”. My son laughed and nodded. It was all stupid, that was obvious. A grown man having a temper tantrum because a woman in a mini-van with 4 kids went ahead of him.

Putting Kindness Into Play

It’s easy to be kind to someone when they are being kind to you. So easy to smile at someone when they hold open the door. Easy to say, “Thank you” when someone offers you a treat. Easy to compliment someone when they are clean and nicely dressed.

What’s hard is putting out kindness when it may never be reciprocated. Hard to be kind when someone flips you off in front of your children, though you’ve done nothing wrong. Hard to offer forgiveness when someone screams at you for an unknowing mistake. Hard to give a compliment when the person on the receiving end might say something mean back to you.

I realized that during both of the recent interactions my kids were present and watching. My reaction to those types of encounters are obviously shaping the children I’m raising. I needed to show them how we can deal with people in kindness. Yes, even people who are mean. Yes, even people who are inappropriate. Yes, even when you did nothing wrong and they’re mad about it. And yes, even when you just want to be mean and angry back. That’s the most important time to be kind.

Trying to get the kids to do housework? Here are the tips I use with my four kids.

Making a Choice to Be Kind

I could have had some choice words for these guys in their vehicles. I could have flipped them off too. I could have jumped out of my car to confront them, screamed back, freaked out. But instead I put kindness into play.

I said, aloud so my kids could hear, “He must be having a really bad day already! Maybe something is bothering him and he’s taking it out on us. All we can do is pray for him”.

I was able to take the strange, tainted experience and paint over it with empathy and kindness. I can’t say that I do that in every situation but it’s definitely my goal. I’d like to take the kindness challenge and make it more of who I am on a daily basis. Allowing myself to get swooped up in someone else’s anger only makes me angry. And I can honestly say I don’t need more anger in my life.

National Random Acts of Kindness Day

I had no idea there was such a thing, but National Random Acts of Kindness Day is observed on February 17th. The day is celebrated by individuals, groups and organizations nationwide to encourage acts of kindness.

So what random acts of kindness could you do each and every day to improve not only the life of another, but your own?

 

 

Beyond Disneyland – Great Things to Do in Southern California with Kids

Orange County is one of my favorite places to spend time because there is so much to do in this sunny SoCal area! Besides Disneyland in the Anaheim area, there are other amusements very close in Buena Park, Santa Ana, and San Juan Capistrano. And you can’t forget the sandy beach side fun all along the Pacific Ocean. These are my suggestions for things to do in Orange County, beyond Disneyland!

Things To Do in Orange County With Kids

Hey, y’all know how much I love Disneyland! But Southern California is more than just a single amusement park. Come to Orange County for one thing and you’ll miss out on some really cool attractions. I’ve compiled a list of my top ten don’t-miss things in the OC.


Start off your SoCal travel planning by checking out this travel guide from Visit Buena Park filled with tips, transportation, maps and special event information.


I have received compensation by Visit Buena Park for writing this post. Please note that I use affiliate links in my post. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Of course you can't miss Disneyland when visiting SoCal! But these are the top 10 can't-miss things to see and do in Southern California (other than Disneyland!)

4 Things to Do at Knott’s

With humble beginnings in the 1930s, Knott’s Berry Farm has built upon the success of the boysenberry and Mrs. Knott’s fried chicken to create a family-friendly destination. The theme park, restaurant, water park and historical  Consider an overnight at the Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel so all the Knott’s fun will be within quick walking distance.

1. Knott’s Berry Farm

Looking for family fun? How about thrill rides? What about history and a look back into the old West? Or maybe you just love really good food! Well, Knott’s Berry Farm has you covered on all fronts. With Camp Snoopy for little visitors and extreme coasters for big kids & adults, there is entertainment for all. We’ve loved our trips to Knott’s Berry Farm over the years (I’ve been visiting since I was very young). Don’t miss Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies. That’s our favorite show (they used to perform in the Golden Horseshoe at Disneyland). The amazingly detailed Calico Mine Ride is a don’t-miss family attraction! And my big kids hit all the thrill rides like Xcellerator and GhostRider. For more, read my tips on taking kids of all ages to Knott’s.

Of course you can't miss Disneyland when visiting SoCal! But these are the top 10 can't-miss things to see and do in Southern California (other than Disneyland!)

Knott’s Berry Farm day passes are considerable less expensive than Disneyland. Purchase discounted Knott’s Berry Farm tickets through my partner Get Away Today (under tickets, click “Huntington Beach” to find them).

SoCal Insider Tip: Line waits for the rides in Camp Snoopy can be ridiculously long, especially on the weekend. Be sure to check out my post on how to maximize your time with little ones at Knott’s Berry Farm.

2. Knott’s Soak City

Making a splash under the California sun is a great way to spend the day! Knott’s Soak City features 7 new water attractions including one with an Aqua-Launch chamber – the floor drops out from under your feet! I love a good lazy river and the one at Knott’s Soak City is one-third mile in length – one of the longest water park lazy rivers in the world. Knott’s Soak City is located across the street from Knott’s Berry Farm theme park.

SoCal Insider Tip: This seasonal water park will be open in mid-May 2018 to early September 2018. Be sure to check the schedule online as Soak City is only open select days during the season.

 

3. Knott’s Independence Hall

History lovers will enjoy a side-trip to Knott’s Independence Hall, an exact, brick-by-brick replica of the original building in Philadelphia. This is the nation’s only exact replica of the Philadelphia landmark. View a replica of the Liberty Bell, explore presidential artifacts and hear the forefathers discuss the Declaration of Independence.

Independence Hall is located outside Knott’s Soak City (across the street from Knott’s Berry Farm) and is open every day except Christmas from 10 am – 5 pm. Admission to Knott’s Independence Hall is always free.

Of course you can't miss Disneyland when visiting SoCal! But these are the top 10 can't-miss things to see and do in Southern California (other than Disneyland!)

4. Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant

Knott’s Berry Farm amusement park offers a pretty great All Day Dining Plan. However I still recommend leaving the park for at least lunch or dinner to hit this popular restaurant. You can sometimes walk-in, but to avoid a long wait it’s best to make a reservation.

Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant has been recently remodeled since my family’s last visit. I was able to look at the new design online and it reflects a rustic chic design that is so popular now. The restaurant is very large, with three indoor dining rooms, outdoor seating and a full-service bar (with boysenberry-infused cocktails!)

Of course you can't miss Disneyland when visiting SoCal! But these are the top 10 can't-miss things to see and do in Southern California (other than Disneyland!)

Order the chicken dinner, you won’t regret it! Each complete dinner comes with handmade biscuits, side salad, choice of cabbage or cherry rhubarb, three pieces of fried chicken and mashed potatoes smothered with gravy. And for dessert,  your choice of boysenberry pie or boysenberry sherbet. Seriously, the BEST fried chicken!

SoCal Insider Tip: Share the chicken dinner- the portions are huge. But order an extra dessert, because you won’t want to share the boysenberry pie!

5. Discovery Cube Science Center

Just down the freeway about ten minutes from Disneyland is the Discovery Cube Orange County, a science center with a hands-on focus for kids. Ongoing exhibits (like the water lab and healthy kitchen) are mixed in with limited time exhibits (like Rainforest Adventure). During spring break, their annual Bubblefest is can’t miss (extra add-on cost per ticket).

SoCal Insider Tip: The Discover Cube does not allow in and out privileges and guests cannot bring in snacks or food. There is a Bean Sprouts restaurant inside with healthier options, however the prices are higher than the usual fast food choices.

Of course you can't miss Disneyland when visiting SoCal! But these are the top 10 can't-miss things to see and do in Southern California (other than Disneyland!)

6. Lunch Suggestions All Over the OC

Looking for a reliable and delicious lunch spot in SoCal that the entire family will enjoy? These four restaurants have locations all over the OC. A quick Google search while you’re out-and-about should pinpoint them on a map for you. I’ve chosen chain dining so where ever you are in the area, one of these restaurants should be close by.

Rubio’s Coastal Grill

More than just seafood, through you should at least try the original fish taco. Beer battered fish drizzled with white sauce and topped with cabbage and salsa, it’s a California tradition! I’m a fan of the loaded grilled chicken nachos (big enough to share). Don’t forget to try the salsa verde and roasted chipotle salsa, they are delicious!

Karl Strauss Brewing Company

Fancier dining than you expect for a brewery (crispy tofu appetizers, black garlic fondue, veggie linguine). Or course there’s plenty for kids too, including burgers, mac and cheese and root beer floats. Plan ahead and call to book a brewery tour during your visit.

Blaze Pizza

I love pizza but I don’t always love the toppings that my husband wants to order. And the two little ones always just want pepperoni. I like that Blaze Pizza is super fast – pizzas cook in 180 seconds! And everyone can order their own personal sized pizza with whatever toppings they want.

Souplantation

This is one restaurant we frequently regularly because it offers something for everyone. The large salad bar has amazingly fresh toppings. Then there are the fresh baked breads and muffins, fruit, pasta and soups. You won’t leave hungry! I sign up for their email list and get great coupons.

Of course you can't miss Disneyland when visiting SoCal! But these are the top 10 can't-miss things to see and do in Southern California (other than Disneyland!)

Don’t forget the soft serve after your Souplantation meal!

7. Hit the Beach

No matter where you are along the coast of Southern California, you’re never too far from the sandy beaches of the Pacific Ocean. Beaches in the OC feature some great view points, walking trails, tide pools and yes, even ocean swimming. Note that these are not tropical waters and even in the early summer, the Pacific Ocean can still be quite chilly. If you plan on visiting the beach early in the day, bring at least a hoodie to keep you warm from the “May Gray” or “June Gloom”.

Newport Beach

Newport Beach offers ten miles of coastline for surfing, swimming or sun on the sand. The 10.5-mile Back Bay Loop Trail in Upper Newport Bay is great for hiking and biking. Kids will be drawn to the Balboa Fun Zone amusement areas with the waterfront Ferris Wheel and arcade games.

Of course you can't miss Disneyland when visiting SoCal! But these are the top 10 can't-miss things to see and do in Southern California (other than Disneyland!)

Huntington Beach

Enjoy Huntington Beach’s ten unbroken miles of sand for swimming and sand castles by day and beach bonfires at night. If it’s salty sea air in your hair that you’re after consider a ride on Captain Dave’s Dolphin And Whale Watching Safari. Hi-speed catamarans take you out in search of gray whales, blue whales and dolphins. Discounted tickets for the Safari can be found through my partner Get Away Today (under tickets click “Huntington Beach” to find them).

Laguna Beach

Seven miles of coastline include tucked-away coves and viewing-only tide pools in beautiful Laguna Beach. This is also home to the famous Pageant of the Masters theater show in which actors recreate famous works of art (you have to see it to believe it!)


8. Dinner & a Show at Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament

My kids and I were able to visit the Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament a few years ago while in the Buena Park area (you can read about our entire Medieval Times experience here). In a nutshell, this attraction is well worth the cost! Exploring the castle grounds during the pre-show is fun. The meal is hands-on delicious. And the show is really top notch entertainment!

Of course you can't miss Disneyland when visiting SoCal! But these are the top 10 can't-miss things to see and do in Southern California (other than Disneyland!)

9. Farrell’s Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlour

Farrell’s isn’t just a restaurant, it’s a lot of fun! Yes, they have burgers, salads and sandwiches. But save room for dessert because there are shakes, build-your-own sundaes and a candy shop with old-fashioned favorites.

Back when I was a kid, Farrell’s was the place to have your birthday party. I have distinct memories of spending one of my earliest birthdays hiding under the table because my family had ordered THE ZOO! This enormous ice cream sundae big enough to feed ten was delivered to your table in a loud fanfare of banging drums and sirens! Farrell’s has the same tradition today, should your family order THE ZOO.

SoCal Insider Tip: Dine on Tuesday night and the kids will eat free with the purchase of an adult entree.

10. San Juan Capistrano

Visit Mission San Juan Capistrano, the legendary location where the swallows return each year. These birds migrate 6,000 miles from Goya, Argentina to San Juan Capistrano in large groups, arriving every March 19th. Founded nearly 200 hundred years ago, guests visiting the Mission San Juan Capistrano can still see the chapel where Saint Junipero Serra celebrated Mass. Hands-on activities like basket weaving, art and both audio and guided tours are engaging for older children. There are also 10-acres of beautiful gardens and fountains for little ones who just want to be outdoors.

SoCal Insider Tip: There are a number of businesses occupying historic buildings around the Mission, including several museums that offer more details on the heritage of the area.

Of course you can't miss Disneyland when visiting SoCal! But these are the top 10 can't-miss things to see and do in Southern California (other than Disneyland!)

Photo credit: LaVerne McMillion

Looking for More?

For more information on what to do in Orange County, be sure to download the Buena Park travel guide stuffed with tips, transportation, maps and special event information.

Of course you can't miss Disneyland when visiting SoCal! There are so many great things to do in Orange County with kids! These are the top 10 can't-miss things to see and do in Southern California (other than Disneyland!) #VisitBuenaPark #Snoopy

How to Create a Get Well Gift Box for Sick Friends

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc., Campbell’s® , Lipton, Premium Crackers, Theraflu and TYLENOL®. All opinions are mine alone. #SickDaySolutions #CollectiveBias

Think back to the last time you were sick. Oh, that’s not a good memory, is it! Hopefully you had someone that was able to take care of you. You know, that comforting person who can bring you warm soup and tea. Someone to dose out your medicine and fluff your pillow. When I was sick my dad would always bring home a special treat from the store for me, like a new box of crayons and a coloring book. Or a book of paper dolls, remember those? It’s great having someone there to take care of you. It just makes you feel better when you know someone cares.

Now think about the last time your entire family was sick. That’s that worst!! When I think of those horrible cold and flu times when the entire household is sick, nobody wants to have to leave for the store to pick up essentials. And so you all lay around in your pajamas, feeling awful together. Everyone is cranky. And bored. And the sick parents still have to take care of sick kids, even though all they want to do is crawl under the covers and sleep!

Want to make a sick friend feel better immediately? Make them a get well gift box with all these sick day essentials! #SickDaySolutions #ad

The Get Well Gift Box

A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook that her entire family was stuck at home with a flu bug. Nobody in her house felt well enough to drive and they’d run out of medicine. So many friends jumped in that they’d drop by with essentials. The family was so grateful and felt so loved and cared for. I’m sure that just knowing they have generous friends helped them feel better that much sooner.

What if you could create a special “Get Well Gift Box” to take to your friends when they’re all sick at home? The box would include all the needs for a few days at home, while recuperating. The Get Well Box would include soup and crackers, tea and medicines. There would also be a family movie, some reading material and a little activity for the kids. This pay-it-forward gift is heartfelt and sure to put a sick family on the road to recovery that much faster!

Want to make a sick friend feel better immediately? Make them a get well gift box with all these sick day essentials! #SickDaySolutions #ad

Creating a Get Well Gift Box

Any cardboard box or large shoe box will do. If you’re using a plain box, wrap the bottom of the box in pretty paper and leave the top off so your goodies can be on display. A basket would work well too. I had a fabric covered box that I used for my get well gift. Don’t forget to include a card. You can choose to sign it or make it anonymous (that could be fun, right?)

I made this Heard You Were Sick free printable card to include with your box if you want!

Want to make a sick friend feel better immediately? Make them a get well gift box with all these sick day essentials! #SickDaySolutions #ad

Filling Your Get Well Gift Box

I headed to Ralphs to fill my get well box with sick day essentials. Ralphs had everything I wanted to add into the box, including boredom busters like a magazine and crossword puzzle book.

I filled my box with Campbell’s® soup and Premium Saltine crackers, to warm and satisfy hunger. There’s Lipton Soothe Your Tummy herbal supplement for a comforting, warm beverage. And TheraFlu ExpressMax syrup and TYLENOL® Cold + Flu for the grown ups. Because when mom and dad are feeling better, they’re better equipped to care for the kids.

Click through to find coupon savings on these products!


Want to make a sick friend feel better immediately? Make them a get well gift box with all these sick day essentials! #SickDaySolutions #ad

What’s Inside the Box?

  • Family size Campbell’s® Chicken Noodle Soup – nourishing and warm, this family sized can will satisfy them all. I have the kids sit at the table with their warm soup for lunch, which gives me a chance to change their bed sheets and pillowcases. I always feel a little bit better with fresh linens!

Want to make a sick friend feel better immediately? Make them a get well gift box with all these sick day essentials! #SickDaySolutions #ad

  • Original Premium Saltine Crackers – Everyone knows that these are the best crackers! Soup just isn’t the same without them. And sometimes sick tummies only want crackers so Premium Saltines are perfect for upset stomachs.

Want to make a sick friend feel better immediately? Make them a get well gift box with all these sick day essentials! #SickDaySolutions #ad

  • Lipton Soothe Your Tummy Herbal Supplement – These new blends offer a unique combo of botanicals, blended with essential oils known for their wellness benefits.* This Soothe Your Tummy version contains ginger, peppermint, and fennel in a caffeine free beverage. It’s really delicious too! It’s mild tasting enough that even kids would enjoy a warm cup.
  • Want to make a sick friend feel better immediately? Make them a get well gift box with all these sick day essentials! #SickDaySolutions #ad TheraFlu ExpressMax Severe Cold & Flu Syrup – When the ick hits you hard, TheraFlu is powerful relief without a prescription to treat symptoms of cold and flu.
  • TYLENOL® Cold + Flu Severe Day/Night – And if coughing keeps you up at night, these caplets help to relieve painful cold and flu symptoms like coughing, congestion, and sore throat.

Want to make a sick friend feel better immediately? Make them a get well gift box with all these sick day essentials! #SickDaySolutions #ad

  • Something for the kids – Lend a few family movies from your home collection, choosing titles the kids might not have seen before. Crayons and coloring books are great for small kids. For older kids a simple craft or some modeling clay would help break up the boredom.
  • Something for the grown ups – After a while, scrolling the web on your smart phone starts to lose its charm. Include a favorite classic book, a deck of cards, crossword puzzle book and a magazine for mom.
  • Other Essentials – Sick-season items like lip balm, tissues and juice would also be welcome additions to the get well gift box.

Want to make a sick friend feel better immediately? Make them a get well gift box with all these sick day essentials! #SickDaySolutions #ad

The Surprise Drop-Off

Once you’ve heard of a friend in need, gather up the supplies and get ready for the drop-off. Send them a quick message and let them know you’re headed over with a special box. Then just ring the bell and leave it at the door. Your friends don’t have to get out of their pajamas and you don’t risk catching whatever they’ve got!

And they’ll be so grateful you were thinking of them. I know my kids would be delighted to find a surprise box at the door for them, especially when they’ve been feeling sick. What a sweet way to help someone feel better!


Want to make a sick friend feel better immediately? Make them a get well gift box with all these sick day essentials! #SickDaySolutions #ad

Campbell’s® – © 2018 CSC LP Lipton – © 2018 Unilever Theraflu – Read and follow label directions. Theraflu is for use in adults 12 years and older. Use products only as directed. TYLENOL® – ®Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. 2017. Use products only as directed. The makers of TYLENOL® remind you to use only one medicine with acetaminophen at a time.

* These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, cure or prevent disease.

Choosing a “Word of the Year” – Will This Actually Change Anything?

In the few days before and after January 1st, all of social media is a-buzz with “Word of the Year” chatter. Seems everyone who is setting goals is choosing a word of the year. So naturally I started to think of what I wanted my word of the year to be. Oh, I came up with some great ideas but it kept coming back to the same word.

Choosing a Word of the Year – FOCUS.

I need this in my life. I’m desperately in need of focus because frankly, I’m a bit of a mess! Yeah, I’ve got four kids so my time is stretched pretty thin. My daily to-do list varies from blog posts, freelance writing assignments, doctor’s appointments, household budgeting, social media upkeep, grocery shopping and kid’s sports events and practices. On any given day, I might be coloring my hair, rotating 6 loads of laundry, making Pins for Pinterest, sending out emails for my blog, or going to Bible study. And I’ve not told you yet, but I’ve decided to go to night school for a medical career position. I’m still not sure where I’m going to squeeze in the time for all that entails.

That’s me, crazy hair to go with my crazy schedule!

But none of this is anything that causes you to blink because I know you’re all in the same position. Isn’t the real deal of being a mom is that we have a hundred things on our plate at any given time? Moms are supposed to do it all, right? I mean, that’s what we’ve always heard.

Multitasking is Life.

Sit around with a group of moms and bring up your schedule for the day. I can almost guarantee you that someone is going to “one up” by sharing their daily routine. There’s going to be a big one in there too, something you can’t even compete with, like a business trip or surgery. It’s going to seem like piling everything you possibly can with as little sleep as you can get by on is the norm. Must be why everyone is like, “But first, coffee”.

In the time that I’ve been writing this post, I’ve been everything except focused. I currently have open my Google Analytics for my blog, I’ve un-followed about a hundred people on Instagram, I’ve followed about a hundred people on Twitter, I’ve scheduled about 50 Pins in my Pinterest account, I’ve entered several online contests, researched two upcoming posts, checked my email dozens of times, updated two other blog posts, read a few articles I searched for on Google and I’ve had several Facebook messenger conversations.

Ahem…where’s the FOCUS and how do I get it?!

My struggle with doing everything is that I try to do it all at the same time. My free time is limited of course. I squeeze in snippets of work during the day while the toddler naps or during an episode of Sesame Street. I check email in the bathroom on my phone so I don’t have to hear my husband complain about me being on social media all the time. I stay up after my family has gone to bed so I can finish a post or send out a blog idea. And of course, I try to do everything at once.

Not possible to do it all at one time, I’m finding. At least it’s not possible to do it very well! It’s not only not getting done, things are sloppy and oft forgotten in my haste to “do it all”. With the upcoming addition of night school taking me out of the house for 6 hours each week and homework on top of that, I know that finding focus NOW is imperative.

Found this folder at Target…had to have it!

Is True Focus Available for Everyone?

I actually find it really really hard to do just one thing by itself. Multitasking!! All moms do that, don’t they? Is it just in my nature to be all over the place? Is true focus even possible?!

But what if all this multitasking means that I’ll never be able to gain the focus I need? Do I really need focus at all or can I continue to just get things done as I have been – willy-nilly, squeezed in work, flitting here and there until it’s completed at the last moment. I’m thinking that I’m going to need an overhaul in my thinking. I’m going to have to make some MAJOR changes in my routine to truly focus.

What Does Focus Mean to Me?

In my eyes, focus means I’ll be able to complete one task at a time to completion. Focus feels like a COMMITMENT. Seeing a single thing done and completed before moving to the next.

I imagine looking through a camera lens, when I depress the shutter slightly and what’s in view becomes crisp and sharp. I can’t see what’s outside the frame, I can only look at what the camera is pointing at. Nothing else matters, only what’s in that small box. Even the background in the shot is blurred. There is laser focus on that single thing and all else fades away.

For me, that means if I’m writing a post, I’m only writing that post. This might mean I wait to write until all other distractions are out of focus (kids in bed, dishes all washed, TV off). And not only am I using my Word of the Year FOCUS on just my work ventures, I’m wanting to improve my life all around. If want focus on my family, my spiritual life, my marriage and my home. Less overlap. Less multitasking. More full completion.

So how does one get FOCUS?

Oh, the million dollar question! How am I going to take a WORD and bring it into fruition? How do I amend what comes naturally to me (multi-tasking) and gain sharp focus instead?

After a Google search, I found these ideas:

  • Preparing yourself for the task
  • Understanding where you need to focus
  • Drink coffee
  • Doodle
  • Minimize multitasking
  • Take a 30 minute break
  • Turn on music
  • Meditate
  • Create a to-do list
  • Understand why you lose focus in the first place
  • Get organized
  • Visualize the results
  • Work on a particular project for only 30 minutes at a time

Some of these work for me and some of them don’t. I think that finding things that are the most appropriate for you, things that will help you stick to your goals are what matters. Personally I can see myself really being able to work for 30 minutes on one task before needing a break. Making a to-do is something I already do (I live for checking things off my list!) And knowing how and why I lose focus is important (hello, can you say constant interruption from little people?)

I’m excited to see how my WORD OF THE YEAR is going to help me towards my goals of FOCUS! Share your word or goals for this year.

Did you choose a Word of the Year? I chose mine, and here's how I'm working towards meeting that goal #OneWord #WordoftheYear

 

Simply Earth Review of Essential Oil Recipe Box Subscription

I’ve always felt strongly about using homeopathy and aromatherapy. I feel better when I use them and I like the results. The trouble for me has been in the consistency of using them regularly. I use them sparingly (because darn it, if essential oils always seem so pricey!) and then I just don’t replenish them when I run out. Because well, they’re expensive, right?

I was so intrigued to find Simply Earth essential oils. Their essential oils are reasonably priced. And their special subscription box means a monthly delivery – the perfect way to replenish! With the Simply Earth “recipe box” subscription you’ll receive 4 pure essential oils plus extras. Check out my honest Simply Earth review and find out what I was able to make with my recipe box. And keep reading to find out how you can get a $40 gift card on purchases from Simply Earth!

My honest review of Simply Earth and their monthly subscription recipe box with essential oils at reasonable prices.

January recipe cards

I received one complimentary Simply Earth Recipe Box to facilitate this review. I have not received any additional compensation. Please note that I do have affiliate links in this post. If you click through and make a purchase, I will receive compensation, thank you. 

What’s Inside the Box?

I reveal in my video what is inside my January Simply Earth subscription box, check it out! Bonus shot of me wearing a mud mask 🙂

Simply Earth Review – Recipe Box Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Full sized-bottles of essential oil (plenty to create the recipes and more!)
  • The price is great for the amount of things you receive in the box
  • Knowing that the essential oils are high grade quality for 100% purity
  • Subscription can be cancelled at any time
  • Free shipping

Cons:

  • Not all of the extras to create the recipes is included. Some ingredients you might have on hand, others you may need to purchase
  • You may not want a full sized bottle of an oil you don’t plan on using again

My honest review of Simply Earth and their monthly subscription recipe box with essential oils at reasonable prices.

I made and used four of the six recipes right away. I don’t own a diffuser and didn’t have one of the ingredients on hand, so I haven’t used the other two recipes yet. The roll-on oils are in my daily rotation and I’ve really enjoyed them. The scent is pleasant and I like the feel on my skin (too soon to know how effective they are at eye bags or wrinkles yet!)

The Curb Hunger recipe (called “Fit Roll-On” in the recipe cards) really does work immediately though! I’ve been keeping it in the pantry and I rub a little oil on when I feel a craving coming on!

The Mud Mask is another hit. I’m glad that the recipe box comes with ingredients to make these items several times over if you wish. My husband and I both enjoyed the after effects of this mask on our skin.

The Simply Pure Promise

Simply Earth is on a mission to make it easy and affordable for people to have a natural home while giving 13% of their profits to help end human trafficking. Simply Earth sources their oils from around the world in order to get the purest and highest quality possible. With thyme from France, sandalwood from Australia to balsam from Canada, there is even a map on their site to see where the oils come from.

Simple Earth has carefully and ethically chosen region where each particular plant will thrive. They work directly with the farmers to ensure plants are harvested safely and fairly. Natural essential oils are collected through either cold-pressing or steam-distillation. And every batch is tested to ensure 100% purity. And they back it with a 365 day satisfaction guarantee.

My honest review of Simply Earth and their monthly subscription recipe box with essential oils at reasonable prices.

 

Why Use Essential Oils?

In addition to the Simply Earth Recipe Box, the company also sells individual bottles of essential oil, roll-ons, and carrier oils. At a practical price of $9.99 for a 15ml bottle of lavender essential oil, there’s no reason not to have that on hand – lavender oil has so many wonderful uses! My favorite way to use lavender oil is by adding to a carrier oil and rubbing on the bottoms of my kids feet at night. It’s so relaxing with a gentle massage and truly seems to help them sleep better.

My family has found that tea tree, lemon and peppermint are great to have as well. You can use essential oils to flavor foods and water, to mix with a carrier oil and apply to skin, to add to natural cleaning products (like vinegar) and to diffuse in the air for aromatherapy. A touch of peppermint oil rubbed on my temples is a lifesaver when I start to feel a headache coming on!

My honest review of Simply Earth and their monthly subscription recipe box with essential oils at reasonable prices.

I pulled out the label maker to keep track of the “recipes” I made with my Simply Earth subscription kit

Simply Earth also offers a diffuser, wooden storage box for your oil collection and wool dryer balls. We already use dryer balls and I’ve never thought to keep essential oils in the laundry room! What a perfect way to scent the laundry instead of dryer sheets. Surrounding myself with natural scents is something that I find really calms and centers me.

Essential Oils Don’t Have to Be Expensive!

After making essential oil purchases in the past, I got the impression that truly good essential oils cost more. But I’ve learned after using Simply Earth that this isn’t true. Simply Earth offers excellent, high-quality oils at prices everyone can afford.

If you’re ready to try the Simply Earth recipe box for yourself, use my code JULIEBIGBOYFREE. You’ll get a $40 gift card emailed to you after subscribing on your first box (remember, the subscription can be cancelled at any time).

My honest review of Simply Earth and their monthly subscription recipe box with essential oils at reasonable prices.

 

 

 

2017 – A Look Back at the Year that Was on Mom Rewritten

Wow!! Another amazing year and I’m so happy to have been able to share my life with my readers! From a HUGE switch on the blog that included an entirely new site, I’ve been making “little changes that make a big difference” (my new blog motto). I’m hoping you’re enjoying the changes as much as I am. Here is what I’ve been up to this year and what I have planned for 2018!

I even got some new photos taken for the blog!

Please note that this post includes affiliate links. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Mom Rewritten

Early last year I started contemplating a change on the blog. I was struggling to find topics that were fitting within my niche at the time. But with the blog name of “Saving Up for Disney”, I was a bit pigeonholed into budget and Disney topics. So I switched! Oh, if only it were that easy…

After much discussion with my web designer (who also happens to be my brother-in-law), we came up with the new look. I brainstormed on the name and felt that Mom Rewritten would allow me to branch out into more lifestyle topics. Lots of little behind-the-scenes adjustments with harmonizing all of social media, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. That was fun, ugh.

With the “rebranding” complete, I’ve been able to cover topics including little changes that make a big difference, health, family travel and positive parenting. I’m loving the changes and hope that you all are enjoying my posts.

Healthier Living

This mama of four turned 44 this year and while I’ve been gradually becoming a more healthful eater, I still needed to make some changes. That happened for me in a big way this year when I partnered with Personal Trainer Food. I wrote a series of five posts about the month-long journey I had while following this program. You’ll have to read the posts to find out how much weight I lost! But let’s just say, I’m delighted 🙂 And I’m happy to share that I’ve extended my partnership and will be sharing with readers in the new year how to successfully reach your healthy goals with Personal Trainer Food.

In addition, I had several other posts about healthy eating habits, including this one about saving money on groceries while still choosing healthy foods. This one about inexpensive & healthy breakfasts for kids was also well-received.

Personal Trainer Food Teriyaki chicken with green beans

Getting Personal

One of the things that I wanted to start sharing on my newly revamped blog were personal posts. Beginning after the name change in July, I shared several very personal topics including things “I Used To Do” and  Just a Little Bit Crazy.

Another little thing that’s important to me is focus on positive parenting and family. I wrote these posts late in the year about Cultivating Family Traditions When You Feel Like You Don’t Have Any and tips for Teaching Kids Gratitude and Thankfulness During the Holidays.

A Local Focus

As a SoCal native, I love to share my San Diego travel tips. Fortunately there’s so much to see and do, I never run out of topics!

I was selected again to serve as an official LEGOLAND blogger for 2017. My kids love their LEGOLAND visits and I was excited to try out their water park for the first time this year. Seriously, I’m not a big water person, but I ADORE this water park! It’s clean, the water is warm and there is so much to do. Definitely worth adding on the water park ticket if you visit LEGOLAND during the summer. (Check out my partner Get Away Today for LEGOLAND vacation packages – they have a new Castle Hotel coming in 2018!)

SeaWorld is another favorite. We love how clean and well-kept the park always is. I’m delighted with the additions during various seasons, like SeaWorld Halloween Spooktacular. I’m a new SeaWorld affiliate partner so if you’re planning a visit, consider buying tickets through my SeaWorld link. A new holiday event also arrived in San Diego and I was able to offer my honest review of Global Winter Wonderland.

Celebrate the holidays at LEGOLAND in California with seasonal shows, treats and LEGO-sized Christmas touches around the park!

Living Simply

Last January, I enforced a No Spending Month on myself and shared the tips with my readers. Let’s just say, avoiding the post-holidays sales at Target is hard!!

Despite being frugal, my family still believes that taking vacations is an important way to spend money. If you think you can’t afford to take a trip, be sure to check out my post with ways to take a family vacation on a budget.

As much as I’d love to be that Pinterest mom, I don’t have it in me to spend a bunch of time and/or money on anything. Here is my quick and easy party post for Mickey & the Roadster Racers fans (free printables too!)

Mickey and the Roadster Racers birthday party ideas that are quick, easy and inexpensive!

The Blogorail

In 2017, I continued to write Disney topics for the Blogorail community. Some of these posts are among my most popular and in part, because they are shared in the Blogorail community.

Disney Vacations

One of my most popular posts this year was about which dates to avoid when planning a Disneyland vacation. I’ve just updated this post to reflect 2018 dates so be sure to check it out (and Pin it for later!)

I had the pleasure of taking 4 one-day Disneyland trips and one big Walt Disney World vacation in 2017!

I’d love if you looked at my most popular posts of 2017 about Disney vacations –

Keeping Chewie at arms length, because the kids were terrified!

I also started a partnership with the travel agency Get Away Today! If you have any vacation plans, be sure to check them out (and I’d love if you used my affiliate link). They even offer layaway!

https://www.getawaytoday.com/?referrerid=7529

TravelingMom

Last year my hope was to be able to travel more outside my own community and I’m happy to share that this did happen!

In March, my family of six took an epic road trip from our hometown in San Diego to Monterey Bay. Then we cut across to Reno and then back down through the Eastern Sierra. I wrote about the vehicle we used on She Buys Cars (we loved it so much, we ended up buying one for our family!)

You can read our road trip experiences in these TravelingMom.com posts:

In April, my 5 year old son and just-turned-one year old daughter and I traveled alone across the country to Walt Disney World. It was such an incredible experience, taking the parks at a slower pace and enjoying non-park days to explore the area. I was seriously ready to move to Orlando, we had such a blast!

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

This play area at Caribbean Beach is made for preschoolers.

My Number One Viewed Post for 2017

This post that I wrote in 2015 and updated this year about the best sandals to wear to Disney, was my number one most-read post!

My most popular new post was Disneyland Splurges with Kids (most likely because it was also my most Pinned, as well!)

Disneyland Splurges for kids (and Money-Saving tips that still feel like a splurge!)

Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road

I’ve had the honor of attending this invite-only event two years in a row, held at the Disneyland resort. This year at Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road we had the chance to test out the brand new MaxPass feature, ride Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout! and see Fantasmic! (the first time ever for my kids!)

This year’s conference was absolutely jam-packed with information! I adore seeing my favorite bloggers and spending the day at Disneyland is a bonus. This time we even had the chance to watch the Main Street Electrical Parade for the very last time, sniff!

What happens at the invite-only Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road? This year's event was held at Disneyland and offered attendees sneak peeks and more!

Sponsored Posts

My hope with product reviews is to let my natural voice shine through, all while sharing with you about a product that I use and love at home. These were some of my favorite sponsored post reviews:

#ad Cultivate peace at home with a DIY portable home sanctuary that contains everything you need for relaxing moments.

Partnerships and Affiliates

Affiliate linking is a small way for me to recoup some of the cost of running my business. I thank anyone who has clicked and purchased through my affiliate links! I enjoy writing posts that are natural, informative and share where you can purchase.

If painful feet stop kids from exploring check out these tips and products that will minimize blisters, swelling and foot pain!

My kids wearing their pedipeds at Walt Disney World.

Disneyland Family Media Days

I had the opportunity to participate in two family media days at Disneyland this year. The first was in July, celebrating the “Summer of Heroes” event. We were able to see what was new, returning, and find out what’s coming soon! I even put in a video of myself explaining MaxPass. Hoping to get the courage to do more video on the blog for 2018.

The second family media day was in celebration of the holiday season and I brought my cousin and her son with us. See this post about Busy Days at Disneyland During the Holidays.

These tips for Holidays at Disneyland will help you navigate crowds & enjoy the most magical winter vacation! #Disneyland

Sleeping Beauty Castle glistens with snow-topped turrets, holiday garland and shimmering icicles.

Personal Sharing

If you’d like to take a look back at my blog over the years, here are my other year-end reviews:

2016 Look Back

2015 Look Back

2014 Look Back 

Looking Forward To 2018

BIG THANKS to my readers and subscribers! Connecting and engaging with you on my blog and in social media outlets is fantastic. I truly appreciate the connections so keep commenting and chatting with me. I also love when something resonates with you and share my posts.

Please continue to comment and share my posts via social media if you can, it helps me (as a small business owner) to grow and succeed. Reach out to me or comment on the posts if things resonate with you!

Blessings to everyone in the new year and cheers for what’s to come in 2018.

Top 7 Family Goals – Making New Year Resolutions with Kids

Raise your hand if you had a resolution to make a change last year. Yep. And if you’re like most people, you didn’t get through the month of January before your goals were long forgotten, right? Or maybe you just don’t even bother with making new year resolutions because you never can seem to stick with them long enough to make a difference. Yeah, been-there, done-that too. I’ve found that the only way I’ve been able to keep to my resolutions is by getting my kids involved in the goal making. Let’s talk about why it’s a great idea to make New Year resolutions with kids.

According to data pulled from Google by iQuanti, these were the most popular New Year’s resolutions for 2017:

  • Get Healthy
  • Get Organized
  • Live Life to the Fullest
  • Learn New Hobbies
  • Spend Less/Save More
  • Travel
  • Read More

For each of these categories that were searched, there’s a way to get your kids involved. I’m going to share some tips on how your kids can help you keep your New Year resolution goals (while making and sticking to their own resolutions as well).

Please note that I use affiliate links in my posts. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

My resolution? Little changes throughout the year!

Making New Year Resolutions with Kids

Start by sitting down with your kids and talking about the things they would like to accomplish in the new year. Even kids as young as four can come up with a few goals (however random and obscure!) When I asked my six-year old his goal, he said, “To spend the night at grandma’s more”. My teenager son would like to improve his basketball game. And my teen daughter wants to do more art.

We each jotted down our own resolutions and then shared how we can best keep each other on track. This is not about “nagging” but rather ways that kids can encourage their parents and vice versa, keeping the ultimate goal in mind. Here’s how you can tackle each of the top 7 New Years resolutions together as a family.

1. Get Healthy

Good health is more than just hitting the gym. Getting healthy is a balance of food, exercise, relaxation and well-being that satisfies the whole body. And it’s something that you can get the entire family involved in. If eating healthfully is a goal, then it’s best to get all family members on board with choosing better foods.

My older kids know that I’m choosing not to eat certain foods on my diet plan. When they ask me if something in particular is on my diet, it’s a good reminder to me that they are observing and encouraging me towards my goals! Truly, I need the reminder and if my kid says it, it’s not nagging.

In this past year, I kick started my weight loss goals (you can read about my journey here).

14 days on Personal Trainer Food program. Find out the food, plan and how much I lost after week 2! #spon #PersonalTrainerFood

Instead of sitting around watching TV after dinner, encourage family to go for an evening walk. Plan weekend activities that get everyone moving, like ice skating, swimming or even just kicking a ball at the park. We try to go out for a long walk as a family several times a month. It’s a great way for us to get exercise and connect, chatting while we walk.

Don’t forget to work in relaxation and fun, too! Schedule game nights on the weekends. Choose a family-friendly chapter book that you can read aloud to everyone. Get older kids involved in a family Bible study. Work out a crossword puzzle. Have a dance party in the living room!

2. Get Organized

If kids are great at anything, it’s the opposite of organized! But all is not hopeless. There are a few ways you can get kids to help with organizing. Have a conversation about how much easier it is to handle things right away than letting them pile up to deal with later!

I have a few great ideas on organizing small spaces on this post.

Start by being a good example. Begin with organizing small areas of the home that can be done quickly (like tackling that pile of mail by the front door or in a kitchen drawer). Give each child a daily task that helps with keeping organized, like having one child sort the mail when it comes in the house, recycling the junk right away. Or have an older child help with organizing drawers and using a label maker. Having designated bins for certain toys makes clean up easier.

Budget-friendly & Practical Organizing Solutions for Small Spaces

3. Live Life to the Fullest

Have an open conversation about what it means to live life to the fullest. For you, that might mean not missing any opportunities. Or it might mean taking chances and not shying away from all the good things in life. If you openly share your thoughts, worries and fears with your older kids, they can help to encourage you in the areas you struggle.

Ask your kids what they think living a full life means. Maybe they’ll come up with some ideas that will spur changes, like volunteering more or attending church. Encouragement from our kids can help guide us towards living a full and meaningful life.

4. Learn New Hobbies

While kids are usually the ones with the new activities, it’s important for parents to learn new things as well. Kids should see their parents trying new things, sometimes succeeding and sometimes with mixed results (Pinterest fail, anyone?) I want my kids to know that I’m never going to stop learning. And if there is something I want to do, I’m open to learning something new!

I even have a post about teaching yourself something new! There are lots of ideas and tips on where to start when choosing a new hobby.

5. Spend Less/Save More

When we’re tightening the budget at home, my older kids are able to understand (through, they aren’t always happy with it!) We’ve been able to explain why we’re spending less and over the years, have come to understand the reasoning. Even now when shopping with us, they’re able to determine which items are the better value and why we choose to spend our money on certain things and not others. Before making drastic changes, chat with your older children about ideas on where the budget could be cut. They may be more open to cutting expenses than you’d think and may have some creative ideas.

Little kids most definitely need to have a goal. Saving money just to save isn’t enough for them, they need something tangible to look forward to. Start saving change in a clear jar (where they can watch the money “grow”), with an end goal for where the proceeds will go. Even something like a quart of ice cream is a special treat that little ones would enjoy pitching in for.

This post has tips on teaching kids how to save, including a cute DIY for this vacation money jar.

Kids Can Save Money for Disney

6. Travel

I’m all in for more travel! And I love to travel with my children because the memories are always incredible. Whether it’s a quick weekend getaway or an extended trip, make it your goal this year to add travel to your life. While last-moment trips are fun, you’ll get the most out of planning ahead of time. This way you can involve the kids in the travel planning process and hear their input on destinations and possible activities.

If you think you can’t afford a trip, check out these tips for taking a family vacation on a budget.

Pre-trip purchase travel maps, books about the area and do your research online with the kids. Buy each child a travel journal in which they can jot down their thoughts during the trip. A camera is another great purchase so kids can capture memories from their point of view.


 

Our first time on a surrey bike while visiting Monterey

7. Read More

In order to make time for reading, you’ll need to cut the time from something else. Several years ago we cut out cable television. At the time I thought I’d really miss it but I don’t! Television watching only happens when we’re intentional about a particular show or movie, instead of just being background noise. With the extra time, we encourage reading. Sometimes I’ll read a family-friendly chapter book aloud to everyone. But usually everyone has their favorite book that they pull out in the evening before bed. Check out this list of 100 best books for kids.

I haven’t been able to get much into novels lately but I still read. I’ll choose to read my favorite blog posts online during my reading time!

Share your resolutions with us in the comments! I’d love to hear how you’re involving your kids too.

Considering setting family goals? These are the top New Year resolutions, with ideas on incorporating your children towards reaching the goals! Here's how to make New Year resolutions with kids.

Dinnerly Review – Honest Review of Dinnerly Meal Subscription

Have you ever used a meal subscription service? I hadn’t, up to last week. My family and I prepare 99% of our meals at home. The thought of paying to have our food prepped and delivered has never been something we considered. Would trying Dinnerly change our mind? I was intrigued by the interesting recipes, the Dinnerly website photos and the lower-than-expected cost. Find out my honest Dinnerly review and whether it works for families. And does it really save time and money to order Dinnerly versus handpicking everything yourself at the grocery?

Considering a meal subscription services? My honest Dinnerly review shares if cost and time savings is worth it. Review of Dinnerly includes list of pros and cons, including taste review.

Please note that this post contains affiliate links. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way. I received a complimentary family box from Dinnerly to facilitate this review. I received no other compensation and all thoughts and opinions are my own.

What is Dinnerly?

Dinnerly is a meal subscription service. Ingredients for three meals are sent weekly in either a Two-Person Box or Family Box. Dinnerly is targeted to those who like homemade cooking with fresh ingredients, but are busy and are looking to save time with shopping and cooking. Going on vacation or don’t need or want Dinnerly? When signing up, you aren’t locked in so you can choose when you want or don’t want a box.

I have never used a meal subscription service before so this was a new concept for my family. With six to feed, we are a frugal family. However we do opt to choose organic whenever we can. I agreed to review Dinnerly because the cost is in line with a “fancier” meal that we’d prepare at home (around $5 per person). And Dinnerly sends quality protein such as grass-fed ground beef and antibiotic-free chicken, items we already purchase ourselves. We were excited to try Dinnerly and this is my honest Dinnerly review!

What’s on the Dinnerly Menu?

I received the Dinnerly Family Box which includes 4 portions per recipe (intended for two adults & two children). Each recipe involves six or less ingredients. Subscribers are sent 3 recipes per week. Each recipe appears on the menu once per month for 2 months, with ingredients changing seasonally.

Considering a meal subscription services? My honest Dinnerly review shares if cost and time savings is worth it. Review of Dinnerly includes list of pros and cons, including taste review.

Inside the Dinnerly family box.

Past recipes include Grass-Fed Beef Stew with Black Pepper Dumplings, Meatloaf & Carmelized Cabbage with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Roasted Veggie Grain Bowl with Lemon-Goat Cheese Dressing, and Spicy Turkey Pizza with Crispy Kale.

A far cry from the usual “Taco Tuesdays”, right? It appears that at least according to the upcoming menus, one vegetarian meal is sent per box.

I received recipes and ingredients for the following dinner dishes:

  • Spicy Pork & Chinese Broccoli
  • Spiced Tomato Braised Chicken with Polenta
  • Fried Spaghetti Pie
Considering a meal subscription services? My honest Dinnerly review shares if cost and time savings is worth it. Review of Dinnerly includes list of pros and cons, including taste review.

You can opt to print your own recipe cards or just look at the recipes on your device (I chose to print them myself).

Preparing Dinnerly Meals

The fresh, seasonal ingredients arrived in an insulated box with a large chill pack inside. Recipe cards are not included so you can choose to pull up the instructions on your device or print them out (which is what I did). It was easy enough to sort out what ingredients went to which dishes. I bundled them together and placed them in the fridge for later in the week. You’ll need a few pantry basics, like oil, salt and pepper. Otherwise all the necessities for each dish are included in the Dinnerly box.

Considering a meal subscription services? My honest Dinnerly review shares if cost and time savings is worth it. Review of Dinnerly includes list of pros and cons, including taste review.

Everything I need for three big meals inside the Dinnerly box!

Spiced Tomato Braised Chicken with Polenta

Dinnerly recipes are touted as taking 30 minutes or less to prepare and cook. I found that some of the recipe times were a little off and required more time to cook than what was suggested. In the recipe for Spiced Tomato Braised Chicken with Polenta the recipe says to cook the chicken on the stove top for 6-7 minutes until browned but I found it actually took about 11 minutes. Not a big deal, a few minutes here and there aren’t going to put a kink in the dinner plans.

There are some instances where you’ll cook and then have to remove the food to a plate so you can cook again in the same pan. This is fine with me, as it means less pans to wash! I found the recipes easy to follow. It helps streamline things if you have someone else in the kitchen who can prep and chop the vegetables while you hop to the next step.

Considering a meal subscription services? My honest Dinnerly review shares if cost and time savings is worth it. Review of Dinnerly includes list of pros and cons, including taste review.

There’s a chicken drumstick underneath that generous pile of onion, carrots and sauce!

I made the spiced tomato braised chicken in my Dutch oven and the house smelled heavenly. Nobody in my family had ever tried polenta before but we all really liked it. And even though I’d never prepared it before, the recipe instructions were fool-proof.

How Do the Dinnerly Recipes Taste?

I was a little nervous that the amount of food included would not be enough for my family. While we do have six in the family, I didn’t expect that my two youngest (ages 6 and 20 months) would try any of these dishes. They are both picky and ended up eating leftovers or pb&j sandwiches instead.

Our two older children are teenagers and they each eat as much as an adult. The family box ingredients are intended for two adults and two children, but we found that there was plenty to go around, even with the teenager appetites!

Considering a meal subscription services? My honest Dinnerly review shares if cost and time savings is worth it. Review of Dinnerly includes list of pros and cons, including taste review.

Spicy Pork & Chinese Broccoli from Dinnerly had a kick but it was easy to adjust the spice to our personal family tastes.

Spicy Pork & Chinese Broccoli

When preparing the Spicy Pork & Chinese Broccoli, my husband was there to chop the veggies. He is extremely particular about his food but was very happy with the quality of the produce.

The Dinnerly box came with four packets of Sriracha so we could adjust the heat for taste. I only used three packets in the main dish and my husband put the last packet on his own individual serving. While very easy to prepare and with minimal ingredients, this recipe helped us to think outside the box with introducing us to new ingredients. Neither of us had ever made anything with Chinese broccoli or Sriracha sauce before. We both really loved this dish – There was even some plate licking on his part!

How Much Does Dinnerly Cost?

Dinnerly is priced at $5 per each serving. Shipping per box is $8.99, so be sure to work that into the cost breakdown. Dinnerly is the lowest cost of all the dinner subscription boxes on the market. While the Dinnerly Family Box is noted to feed two adults and two children, we found that there was an abundance of food!

For instance when we ate Spiced Tomato Braised Chicken with Polenta my husband, myself and my two teenagers each had one large portion (served with our own side salad). My husband had a second large helping. Then there was still enough for me to pack away leftovers for my husband to take to work the following day. This meal actually equaled out to about 6 servings for us, making this an even better price breakdown.

Considering a meal subscription services? My honest Dinnerly review shares if cost and time savings is worth it. Review of Dinnerly includes list of pros and cons, including taste review.

Fried Spaghetti Pie

The vegetarian meal for the week I received Dinnerly was the intriguing sounding Fried Spaghetti Pie. I can honestly say I’ve never prepared or eaten anything quite like this dish! A creamy sauce and grated Parmesan coats the cooked spaghetti, which is then lightly fried and baked to crisp. It’s topped with a tossed arugala salad. This was a fun twist on traditional pasta dishes and we enjoyed it a lot! The recipe even gave us some ideas on how to add protein, if we wished to.

Dinnerly Review Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Creative meals that got us out of a dinner rut
  • Healthful dishes with fresh ingredients
  • Truly quick and easy meals that seem more “fancy” than usual
  • Convenient to know that all the ingredients for dinner are on hand
  • Time-conscious meal preparation
  • Delicious! The four of us that ate the Dinnerly meals really enjoyed the flavors

Cons:

  • Only delivering to select areas of the United States at this time (check the site to see if Dinnerly delivers in your area)
  • May be a bit pricier than purchasing ingredients on your own (but definitely cheaper than eating out!)
  • Fancier meals may not appeal to picky eaters

Want to Try Dinnerly?

Click through to see what’s cooking on Dinnerly this week! You can see the menu for the month and sign up for a subscription.

My family had a great time cooking with Dinnerly! We thought the recipes were creative and delicious. We were actually excited to cook each night and try something new. In the past, I’ve liked trying new dishes, but I don’t like having to purchase special ingredients just for one dish (like an entire bottle of sauce or a large block of cheese). Dinnerly is perfect because they supply you with exactly what you need. And there’s no waste because you use just what they send.

I highly recommend trying Dinnerly and appreciate that you can sign up for the service without major commitment. There is a flexible subscription option so you can decide ahead of time which weeks you want to receive. And you can always skip a week if necessary. But why would you want to because the food is all really good!

 

Kids Laundry Hacks with Trial Size Persil® from Target®

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PersilLaundry #CollectiveBias

As the mom of four I’m doing a LOT of laundry! However with two teens, I’ve learned that there are some chores they’re ready to take over. Laundry is one of those things they can do on their own. Laundry collection and sock sorting are two tasks the kindergartner can help with. Stain treatment, running the washing machine and dryer, hanging up and putting away – these laundry tasks are easy to teach older kids. I’m sharing how I was able to teach my kids about the laundry process, including my foolproof hack for step-by-step laminated instructions on how to properly operate each machine!

Collect and Sort Every Day

We’re lucky enough to have a washer and dryer in the house, so we can pop in a load anytime. However I can totally see how the task can get out of control if not dealt with on a daily basis. By collecting and sorting every day into baskets, I’m able to see at a glance whether there’s enough to start a load.

Laundry is collected from each room on a daily basis (something my five year old can do with a small laundry basket). We have our washer and dryer in the garage. My son is able sort the laundry into separate baskets – Dad’s work clothes in one basket, other clothes in another. Then one for linens and towels. Whites are separated from darks into the last basket.

Treating Stains

Stain treatment should begin immediately to allow detergent to work into the stain. With a toddler, you can imagine we’re treating plenty of stains from her clothes! I recently picked up a trial size bottle of Persil® ProClean® laundry detergent at Target®. The trial size is enough for six full loads. And at only $1.99 for a 10.1-ounce package, it’s a great way to try the product out to see the results for yourself!

I taught my teens how to dribble a small amount of Persil laundry detergent from the trial size bottle directly onto the stain. Persil laundry detergent is a stain fighting, whitening, and brightening detergent and it worked wonderfully – pizza stain, be gone!

  • Be sure to follow cleaning instructions on each piece of clothing and always test for colorfastness before pre-treating.
  • Treat stains as soon as possible – Letting them set just makes them harder to remove
  • Pour on enough detergent to cover the stain
  • Rub Persil laundry detergent into the stain and let it sit for 5 minutes.
  • Wash with the warmest water safe for the garment (always double check your tags) with a dose of Persil laundry detergent.
  • Check the results before drying.

Running the Machines

Rather than hear, “I don’t know how!”, I created laundry instructions specific to our washing machine and dryer. I laminated the step-by-step directions and secured them to the cabinets above our machines. Now my teens can follow the instructions without any issues. And I’m assured that clothes are being properly washed!

Persil laundry detergents can be used in all machines, including HE. I’ve found Persil laundry detergent to be great for everyday washing and in fighting stains. It gets the dirt off my husband’s work pants, removes the stink from the teens’ shirts and takes out the spots from the toddler’s dresses. For more laundry and cleaning tips, see the Persil® laundry detergent website.

Drying Clothes

With our laundry area in the far corners of the garage, it’s too easy to forget that you started a load! I have the kids start a timer to remind them that they need to move clothes from the washer into the dryer.

Certain items shouldn’t be placed into the dryer. I place notes above the dryer to remind the person rotating the laundry to make sure they remove those pieces and not put them inside the dryer.

Putting Laundry Away

At our house, laundry is washed, dried and put away in the same day – nothing sitting around getting wrinkly in laundry baskets around here! We tip over the clean and dry laundry onto the bed and quickly sort. Each person is tasked with putting away their own clothes immediately.

I liked being able to use the trial size bottle of Persil laundry detergent before committing to a full sized bottle. The scent is fresh and pleasant. The stain fighting, brightening, and long lasting freshness is a bonus. And the reasonable price is icing on the cake!

Be sure to look for the $2 off coupon on the back of the trial size bottle to use for a future purchase (excludes 6 load or less trial / travel size).

Need help with everyday chores? Enlist the kids! Even younger kids can pitch in - see these kids laundry hacks for ideas on how they can assist with this chore. #PersilLaundry #AD

 

 

Holidays at LEGOLAND California – Ultimate Seasonal Guide

While my family and I have been to LEGOLAND California dozens of times, we’ve never been during the holidays! This weekend we had the chance to experience the holidays at LEGOLAND events, including seasonal treats, unique LEGO photo ops and live shows. And did I mention the treats?! Peppermint milkshakes, need I go on? Keep reading for all the fun things to do during the holidays at LEGOLAND, along with my insider tips for an enjoyable day with the family.

Celebrate the holidays at LEGOLAND in California with seasonal shows, treats and LEGO-sized Christmas touches around the park!

Please note that I was provided complimentary tickets for my family and I to experience the holidays at LEGOLAND. All thoughts and opinions are my own and there was no monetary compensation. I include affiliate links in this post. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Celebrate the holidays at LEGOLAND in California with seasonal shows, treats and LEGO-sized Christmas touches around the park!

Holidays at LEGOLAND

LEGOLAND California is open almost every day in December. Opening times vary, as well. Be sure to check the days and hours of operation online before your visit. In addition to all the usual rides, the holidays at LEGOLAND offers special seasonal shows, foods and photo opportunities throughout the park. I’ll share with you how to maximize your day at LEGOLAND and how to experience all that the holidays at LEGOLAND offers.

Celebrate the holidays at LEGOLAND in California with seasonal shows, treats and LEGO-sized Christmas touches around the park!


Save Money at LEGOLAND!

Purchase discount tickets and vacation packages from my affiliate Get Away Today. Use the Promo Code REWRITTEN and receive an extra $10 off any 2-night or longer Southern California package. (Hotel and 2 ticket minimum purchase to qualify for the discount). 

https://www.getawaytoday.com/?referrerid=7529


Must-Do Photo Ops

LEGO Santa, Reindeer and Christmas Tree

While there are always lots of unique and larger-than-life LEGO figures to pose with throughout the park, make a point of visiting Santa and his reindeer during the holidays at LEGOLAND. This photo op is located in Fun Town, under the glow of the huge LEGO Christmas Tree!

LEGOLAND Holiday Tip – Arrive in this area about 30 minutes before/after one of the stage shows when the crowds aren’t as heavy.

Celebrate the holidays at LEGOLAND in California with seasonal shows, treats and LEGO-sized Christmas touches around the park!

It “snows” in Fun Land!

Live Entertainment

My kids never want to take a break from all the attractions long enough to watch the shows. However we often catch both shows when walking through these areas.

LEGO Friends Holiday Show

Targeted mostly as young girls, the sweeter-than-sweet holiday show in Heartlake City features the five LEGO Friends.

Fun Town Show – The Yule Tides

This one couldn’t be more jolly! Santa’s elves are singing and dancing old and new Christmas carols on the stage in Fun Town.

Celebrate the holidays at LEGOLAND in California with seasonal shows, treats and LEGO-sized Christmas touches around the park!

LEGO Friends Holiday Show in Heartlake City

Little LEGO-Sized Touches

Be sure to take a visit to Miniland U.S.A. to see where the Christmas spirit has been sprinkled! We found many of the buildings have fun holiday touches, including Santa and his sleigh and wreaths decorating the LEGO White House.

Celebrate the holidays at LEGOLAND in California with seasonal shows, treats and LEGO-sized Christmas touches around the park!

Holiday Eats and Treats

Throughout the park, seasonal treats are sold that will surely get you into the holiday spirit. For lunch, dine on a Holiday Smoked Turkey Sandwich with rustic stuffing and spiced cranberry dressing or a smoked turkey leg. Sip warm apple cider or hot chocolate. And for dessert indulge in churros con chocolate, holiday cookies, peppermint milkshakes, and candy apples!

LEGOLAND Holiday Tip – Dining can get really crowded at LEGOLAND. Also, food is prepared fresh, so it often takes longer than you might expect to receive your food. Have one person order while the other gets the table to save time.

Celebrate the holidays at LEGOLAND in California with seasonal shows, treats and LEGO-sized Christmas touches around the park!

Seasonal shopping is available in the retail shops

Winter Holiday Market

Saturdays, December 9th and 16th till 7:00 pm in Fun Town.

The Winter Holiday Market is all new this year. Guests can purchase authentic “German Christmas Market” inspired treats like grilled sausages, giant Bavarian pretzels, spiced wine, and specialty hot chocolate.

Celebrate the holidays at LEGOLAND in California with seasonal shows, treats and LEGO-sized Christmas touches around the park!

Holidays at SEA LIFE Aquarium

Take the time for a tour through the SEA LIFE aquarium where seasonal décor appears throughout . There’s even a special holiday themed daily dive show daily from December 1st – 24th.


Celebrate the holidays at LEGOLAND in California with seasonal shows, treats and LEGO-sized Christmas touches around the park!