Wait, awareness costs $10?

ALSIceBucketChallengeBefore the ALS IceBucket Challenge, if you had asked myself, or my family what ALS was, we would not have known the answer.

In our home, it was something we saw our friends and family doing on Facebook, and something we had seen our favorite baseball players doing, and then our favorite musicians and actors, and so on. We knew it was raising awareness for something. That was all we knew.

That was all we needed to know; to know we needed to know more. People who are focused on the monetary rule of the challenge and the water conservation – are missing this monumental piece of vital information.

We didn’t know what we were raising awareness for. We knew it was a disease, and that it necessary to help find a cure. We wanted in. We wanted to help. We wanted to know more.

One by one, our family of five was nominated. The excitement in our home was exhilarating, we were joining millions of others in this challenge, we were banding together for the greater good, for a GOOD cause. It led us to inquire as to what disease we were raising awareness for. It was upon my research that I realized I had heard of it before, but had heard of it as Lou Gehrigs Disease, and still did not know what it really was, or how it affected the people living with it day in and day out. I looked it up. I read about it. I learned about it. I shared it with my family. 

Now five people were made aware of this, the five people in my home. Then the five people we nominated, and the five people they nominated and so the ripple effect rippled on. No, we did not donate $10, we solely did the Ice Bucket Challenge, we talked about ALS, and tagged our friends and family. We donated our effort, our compassion, and our desire to help and to raise awareness. Is that insignificant for you? Is it your intent to teach your child or neighbor that the only awareness important is by monetary awareness?

If so, extending further clarification would be as worthless as the $10 you are donating. Your money, void of the understanding, compassion and desire to be learn; to band together with our communities and the world for the benefit of research and a cure is lacking any value. 

Last night I was told, the purpose of this challenge was that you HAD to donate $10 along with dumping the ice water over your head. That if you could not donate $10, that you should not have accepted the challenge. So, I ask you this. If I were nominated by someone, and I did not have the $10, and I refused the challenge, what happens then? What happens to the next person who doesn’t have the $10 to donate, and is forced to refuse the challenge? THE AWARENESS STOPS. However, if we do the challenge, minus the $10, and nominate someone else, who nominates someone else, who donates $100 – what has happened? People who aren’t aware of the disease are learning about it, and money is donated toward the cause. THAT IS SPREADING AWARENESS. In every possible manner.

Since when do we only want someone’s help when money is involved? Since when do we not accept someone’s desire to help because they do not have money? What is that teaching our children and our society?  A cure is not going to be found because you blindly handed over money, instead of those who are investing their time and understanding. Awareness bears no cost, awareness is a desire to know, to learn and to share. That is priceless, it is a gift to the people who live with ALS, who fight ALS, and the families who strive every day to make one more person understand what ALS is.

For more information please visit http://www.alsa.org.

I’m calling Mom!

This is an example of daily phone calls with my daughter, when I call to check on them, or when she calls to tattle. Because, when all else fails, call mom. Enjoy!

 Phone Call #1

Me: How is everything going at home? Are the boys being good? Did they eat breakfast?

Gracie: Umm ya they ate, and  they are running around in their underwear.

Me: Why?

Gracie: I don’t know. They took their shorts off and are being weird running around and being loud.

Me: Get the boys and put me on speaker phone

Gracie: (screaming in my ears) BOYS!! MOM WANTS TO TALK TO YOU!! Okay mom they’re here.

Me: Boys put on your shorts! Stop running around in your underwear, being ding dongs. No one wants to see whats under your shorts, especially your sister!!

Boys: OKAY – giggle giggle.

 Phone Call #2

Gracie: Mom, since I made sure the boys cleaned their room, and I did the dishes, can I have some of your chocolate you have hidden in your room?

Me: Yes, but you have to do a load of towels first! And quit snooping in my room – one of the days what you find WILL NOT BE AS SWEET AS CHOCOLATE!

Gracie: Yes mom.

 

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Phone Call #3

Me: Hello lovely daughter

Gracie: Oh, you are going to be thrilled!!

Me: Really?! Somehow I doubt that. What happened?

Gracie: Oh, well, remember your rule about no balls in the house. Because all your stuff always gets broke?

Me: Oh no, what broke?

Gracie: Well they were playing with balls in the house, and I told them no balls in the house, so they went and got a pillow – which was a foot BALL pillow. And don’t worry Gage already knows that was not a good idea. Then, Boone kicked the football pillow, and they broke the tall glass lantern you had on the table. So, Coleton is in one corner, Boone is in another corner,  and then I ran out of corners so Gage is crying in his room.

Me: (laughing) Did anyone get hurt? Is anyone bleeding?

Gracie: No.

Me: Okay can you sweep it up, and make the boys wear shoes until I get home and can make sure it’s all cleaned up?

Gracie: Yes, but what about the boys?

Me: Tell them I will talk to them when I get home, and let them stay where they are for 5 more minutes. and then call it good.

Gracie: Okay. Love you bye.

 Phone Call #4

Gracie: Mom. David (Step/Grandpa) is here to check on us and says we have practice, and I told him we don’t. But he says we do. Do we?

Me: No, practice got cancelled, let me talk to him for a second.

David: Hi there

Me: Hi, hey practice got cancelled, so I can get the kids tonight. Thank you though.

David: Oh okay, Matt told me they have practice.

Me: Yes, they did. It got cancelled. Matt didn’t know when he told you that this morning.

David: Oh okay. What are you doing?

Me: I’m working.

David: Oh okay, well they need practice. (laughing)

Me: I know, they’ll make up for it.

David: Okay then, bye. Have a good day.

 Phone Call #5

Me: How are things going? Did they do their chores?

Gracie: Um ya they did them, but then they made a mess again in the front room, but they won’t listen to me when I tell them to clean it up. They keep going out in the backyard.

Me: Give the phone to Gage

Gage: Hi Momma

Me: Gage Riley, clean the front room, do not go outside, do not get a snack, do not get water, don’t go pee or poop. Just clean the front room.

Gage: Okay Mom

Me: Give the phone to Coleton

Coleton: Hello

Me: Coleton Michael, clean the front room, do not go outside, do not get a snack, do not get water, don’t go pee or poop. Just clean the front room.

Coleton: Okay

Me: Give the phone to Boone

Boone: Ya

Me: Boone, clean the front room, do not go outside, do not get a snack, do not get water, don’t go pee or poop. Just clean the front room.

Boone: Okay.

Me: Give the phone to Gracie

Gracie: Hi Mom

Me: I told them all. Do you need anything else?

Gracie: No

Me: Okay. Love you

Thank goodness school starts next week. 

 

What ever happened to…

Respecting our elders.
General kindness and courtesy.
Minding your own business.
Giving the benefit of the doubt.
The Golden Rule.
Not judging a book by its cover.
Owning and Rectifying our mistakes.
Getting to know someone ourselves.

Growing up it was expected that I lived by this list of expectations. If there wasn’t enough of something for everyone to go around, I’d go without. Whispering was rude. Inviting myself anywhere was never okay. Excluding someone intentionally was not acceptable. Gossiping was bad manners. I was raised with sayings like: “Believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see.” “Be kind to strangers, and to those who appear to have less than you. For those who appear to have less, their hearts have more.” And, my personal favorite “Pretty is as pretty does.”

While walking into work, I hurried past an elderly woman who was being helped by what I am guessing was her daughter to the door. Once to the door, I stopped and held the door for them. The look of surprise on her face in that moment was incredible. Here I was a young able bodied woman quickly passing her by. In her mind, I was just going to blow through that door and leave her in my dust, possibly like others had done before. But, I didn’t, and I never would. Her smile, and exasperated thank you, affected me in two ways – it made me feel good to have helped her and sad that her faith in humanity had shattered so greatly that this act of general kindness was abnormal. 

The simple rules we were raised by seem irrelevant and non-existent to many. Offering a helping hand is too much to ask to those whose hands are full of selfishness. Making time for our children, and our families, is too demanding on a schedule filled by personal appointments that reek of empty moments that will amount to nothing when the hands of time can’t be rewound.

It is as if we have all lost sight of what is most important. We’ve lost the desire to care, to show compassion, to go above and beyond for a friend in need – to allow room for our loved ones and friends to make mistakes. We have created such an uptight and demanding society full of worthless objects and sentiments void of any real volume or validity. 

Living in a small town people here think they know someone because they have heard about them. They chastise and make a mockery of those whose lives are not their own, and whose choices do not affect their lives. They volley conversations about personal matters and misfortunes as general topics for enjoyment. Making remarks such as “Oh did you hear about so and so?” “Oh here look at this picture, or mugshot, can you believe it?”   Why is this acceptable? Why are we blindly passing judgment? Who do we think we are?

We have become obsessed and consumed with not only finding out but revealing everyone’s skeletons hidden in their closet – that we forget our closet has a few of our own. Are we the mean girls and bullies from high school, hanging posters with peoples pictures and labeled mistakes for enjoyment? Why is the benefit of the doubt and the golden rule being tossed away in a gutter without any real remorse or understanding for what we truly are losing.

How many people do you know of, verses know? People whom you don’t like or associate with, solely because of what you’ve heard of them? Who is really missing out there, you or them? In my opinion – you are at a loss and they are at a gain. Personally, I would not want the company of a person who wishes me well, but not that well. Or a friend who would rather calculate my value beginning with my past. If today you are a kind to me, and a good friend to me – I care not what you did yesterday or a year ago. 

Life is about making a difference, sharing a voice, loving, caring, and raising our children to do the same. When someone falls, you help them up. You don’t stare, point and laugh. What is that teaching our children?

Our society cares more about the why, than the who. We share judgment before giving the benefit of the doubt. We condemn and chastise rather than commend and praise. Our conversations are overflowing with condescending overtones instead of respectful dialogue. For what? What do we benefit from this? A rise out of someone, a battle of wits and distorted temporary feeling of superiority? If that is what you want, go for it honey! But, I am not interested.

I say we, because I know I am not innocent. I too fall have fallen victim at times. However, I’ve made mistakes, I have, both on a small scale and a large scale. But, I will never choose to dislike someone because someone else does, or told me to. Others misfortunes will never be a gain in my eyes, and it is my choice to not pass judgment where compassion could prevail. I dare you to do the same, and to get to know someone for who they are to you – and not their past or their mistakes that were made yesterday or the ones they will make tomorrow.  Mistakes are made from trying and they provide a lesson learned, and an experience gained. 

Pride means nothing without humility. A little respect and compassion goes a long way.

 

Divorce & the StepMom

Have you ever awoke from a dream that was so intense and real that your heart breaks as you open your eyes?

I dreamt about him again, and its such a double edged sword because even though for the duration of the dream we’re together again, there is always the waking up that rips him away.

Divorce sucks, everyone knows that,  divorce with your children involved even worse, but nothing is worse than divorce with a stepchild.  Nothing.

Ethan was only one when he blessed my life. Having had a hysterectomy after my son, I always believed God wasn’t done with me as a mother, therefore he brought me Ethan. We had him in our home every other week for a week at a time, which is virtually unheard of at his age.

At first, it was hard to get used to, because my children were 5 and 7 at the time. Diapers, sippy cups and highchairs were a thing of the past. But, it took no time at all to fall in love with this blonde little sweetheart.

He always called me mom, because he copied my kids. It was hard because his mother hated it. It was something he chose and though I was uneasy with it at first, I grew to love it and to call him my son. Raising him was a joint responsibility in our home. In every definition and action I was his mother, and I loved him dearly, and still do.

Through battles in court, battles between my husband and his mother, I fought hard for this little kiddo. My love for him and my relationship with him, is what started my blog, and my parenting page. My children took to him instantly and we were a family.  And then after three years, we weren’t.  He was gone.

His dad left for another woman. He left while my kids were not at home, and while Ethan was with his mom. There was and has never been a goodbye on either end.  My children were left heartbroken by the dual loss of a stepfather and brother. And, I, well…I haven’t seen Ethan since. Except in photos here and there.

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That is probably why I still dream about him. In my dreams Ethan calls me mommy, and hugs me so tight as if to hold me over until our next date in our dreams. He caresses my face and tells me “I love you mommy” the way he used to do. This time I was so happy to see him that I was crying, and woke up feeling as though I was going to cry. My heart hurts, still, a year later.

It makes me hate his father, and the woman he left our family for. The woman who informed me it was better for Ethan and my children, to not see eachother or the man that was a father type in their life. She has no children of her own, how does she know? She made the rules and he followed them.

While I’m thankful my ex is gone, and even more delighted that they two now are eachothers karma;  I miss my son. I miss his laughter, his silliness, his sweet breathy voice and the way he loved me so. I miss him crawling into my lap, caressing my face and telling me stories about bullriding and hockey with his excited little boy voice. I miss him holding hands with his brother and sister and how excited he was to see them when he came home every week. I miss the 3 am tapping on my shoulder, saying “mommy can I snuggle you?”

Now, awake and emotional, I will go on about my day dealing with the loss of my son again. The sinking  feeling in my heart, that dull aching pain which will exist unbeknownst to anyone throughout the day. I’ll suffer quietly because noone understands it and everyone expects it to go away because its been over a year. But, guess what?  It hasn’t. 

It hides away until we meet again in our dreams.  I miss you Ethan, and love you always. 

Not your typical sports physical…

This past week, I took my daughter Grace for a sports physical/well child exam. (apparently insurance providers are kinder to you if its simply a well child exam) I’m guessing a case of karma may have bitten Grace’s nerves since she had to wait in the hall during her brothers physical last year. Which she spent laughing and taunting him while the doctor was making him “cough.”  There was simply no reassuring her conscience that reassurance was nothing for the doctor to check down there, or to make her cough!

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He did as any mother would expect, he checked her reflexes, her weight and height, breathing and bones, diet and exercise etc. he made her walk heel to toe, and to the other side of the room on her tiptoes – which resulted in my telling her that the shorts she was wearing are going in the garbage as soon as we got home! They were way too short for my liking.  After her doctor stopped laughing he then did something that shocked me.  He didn’t fill out our paper and send us on our way. Nope, instead he folded his arms, and started a conversation with Grace. How fantastic is that? Does your pediatrician do that?

He started asking some rather valid questions. Questions such as: Can you talk to your mother, and father? Are you ever sad, lonely or depressed? Do you have a best friend? Do you have the confidence to say “No” when you feel pressured to say yes? Do you like what you see when you look in the mirror? To say I was impressed, was a huge understatement. Then when she joined in on this conversational rally of sorts with him, I just sort of sat back and took it all in. Man, is she growing up I thought to myself.

She trusted him, and was open enough to answer any question honestly and humorously – which might I add, she totally gets from me! For a second, it did make me wonder though, how many parents sit and ask their children these same questions? Could they answer these questions about their children? A slight sadness came over me in the thought that not every child has the opportunity or the openness that Grace and I have. The sadness was met with the appreciation for this moment though, and the realization that one day, it may change.

 

Quickly my thoughts were interrupted by her answers to his questions which she met them with such poise, intellect and witty retorts. During their talk, I was careful only to chime in when necessary, or an unavoidable humorous answer was necessary. Like, when he asked her “Do you worry” Are you a worrier?” I couldn’t help but share the answer of “Yes! She worries! She is terrified that if she doesn’t re-post those forwards on Facebook that says your mother will die at midnight, that I’ll die! Yet, here I am, alive in the flesh!”  We all laughed, and he explained as I have numerous times – those aren’t real.

He talked to her about periods, which I did ask if he could rush along, because the hormonal pre-teen stuff is simply too dramatic at times, he said no, damn it! He talked to her about sex, birth control, drugs and alcohol – literally these two talked about everything. He mentioned teen pregnancy and she responded with the hand gesture of throwing a ball into a basket and said “ I’m not throwing my life in the trash!” Laughing he said “Okay, I think were good then.”

The best part of this appointment, besides her overall good physical and mental health, was what he said as was left. He looked at me and said “You are doing a good job Mom, you have a really special girl here.” And, while I fought back the desire to dodge the compliment with a hilarious remark of “Yes, the helmet kind of special” I instead simply thanked him, and agreed.

Sure there is the possibility he says that to every mom, but I took it as the truth. It’s truth and validation come from the fact that I know she is a phenomenal little girl. As well as knowing, that I am a phenomenal mother to her. We as parents owe it to our children to know our worth as parents. Our worth in ourselves as individuals and parents translates them as their own worth. Take the time to be that parent who takes the time. The parent who makes the effort, who has the strength and maturity to answer those questions, remember when you yourself were a child, think of what you needed, desired and wished your parents would have done. And, by that I don’t mean letting you sneak out and drink at fifteen!

Look at yourself in the mirror, right into your eyes and say this “You are doing a good job!” Your kids will thank you for it.

Well, bitch away!

This post is dedicated to Allie who sent me this text, I’m sure she will love taking the credit for my diarrhea of the mouth, for your reading pleasure. Alliecovo

Patience tested √
Give a damn busted √
Over ev.er.y.thing and e.v.e.r.y.one! √
Job sucks √
Money sucks √
People suck √
Trapped in life √

Well, there you have it! My weeks checklist of negativity. Actually, I loathe negativity, which is ironic because being a realist is basically being a bi-polar bestie with negativity! Go figure!

A dear friend of mine, Amber, whom you can’t help but completely adore, is just one of those happy go lucky, the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, kind of gals. Her home is built with rose colored walls, shutters and doors. The sun literally shines out of this girls ass, I kid you not!  And, even she is having a bad week! Do you understand now, that we are dealing with some serious bullshit here?!?

If you watch Big Brother, you know one of the HOH’s is Frankie Grande (yes, Ariana Grande’s brother) he is the one with a pink mohawky hairstyle, who is fabulously…well, fabulously Frankie!  A.n.y.w.a.y.s. he has coined a term whether he is aware of this or not, that I have taken hostage. The term: “I’m going to freak the frankie out!” And, well, not only has that become my new saying, but I’ve also totally considered changing my name to Frankie! Okay, that’s a lie, but I’m willing to bet you sense my level of dedication to my new-found term!!

At random moments this week, I have wanted to freak the Frankie out, maybe Frannie and Farley too, who knows, with this week anything is possible!  Have you ever just let yourself go, and lose it? Maybe screamed out loud, or into a pillow? Maybe cried, you know the sobbing kind of gut wrenching – snotty – gonna throw up – hyperventilating cry? I would actually completely advise against it, if you can avoid it, because I did that once, after my ex-husband left, it was really – SUPER – pathetic! It felt great after I’ll give you that, but the “during” part was bad, and I am sure I looked hideous, because I am not one of those pretty criers. BUT, I got it all out and could move forward.  This week though, I can’t do even a little of that. It is as if I am re-living the horrible movie  “Groundhog Day”, and its skipping, in an old worn-out dvd player! The energy it would take to get up, walk over to the dvd player, and either beat it, or take the disc out, break it or fling it out the window, just feels like too much work, you know?

Here’s the deal, if I could get away with it, I would tell off probably four, maybe five people. One would cost me my job – so can’t go there, plus it is unprofessional (input eye roll here). Two people, wouldn’t give a shit, and would laugh at my allowing them to live rent free in my head – so my pride refuses a visit there. One of the two remaining is just being an immature selfish ass – and usually they are blissfully unaware and unaffected, making any attempt of mine – pointless. And, the last person, well poop on a stick – I can’t even remember who it is after writing about the other four. Ugh! See . what . I . mean? I can’t even formulate a freaking thought this week.

I suppose it is my own fault for not listening when my grandfather used to tell me “stop being so affected!” Apparently  that advice helped me immensely, since I am now, thirty-four and still freaking affected! I am pretty sure I’m stuck this way! There is no hope for me, I cry at commercials, I am a FEELER, people! and I love that.

Hi, my name is Jessica and I am a feeler. There, now can we move on to step two? I mean, who wants to not feel?

When life is happy – I feel happiness, when life sucks – I feel sucky, and so on with every other emotional fruit in the messed up fruit basket of life!  I would rather feel than eat that basket of fruit though, because I have a pretty good feeling “sucky” tastes shitty! Just sayin’ (P.S. that was for Austin Blood)

This may very well be the first blog that I have written that lacks any real point – other than to bitch, complain and vent. Oh, by the way, I now remember the last person I wanted to go off on, and here is what I would say to them “If you are my friend, be my friend! Be my friend all the time, every time, all the way…period.the.end. Pretty freaking simple if you ask me, if you haven’t figured it out yet, I am – who I am, that is NEVER going to change. Want to know why? Because, I LOVE ME! I do. I don’t want to be you, or her, or him, or them – just me. My life is just that, mine. Don’t waste your energy judging me, worry about your damn self.  Not that there is anything wrong with them or you – I just have this prior life-long commitment thing going on with myself already, you know? Why would I throw that out the window to be anything different?” <—- See, I am funny – sometimes I crack myself up with my thoughts. Too bad there isn’t a Facebook relationship status of: Prior commitment with self.

Last night, laying in bed with my favorite, (who is one person who didn’t end up on my shit list this week, thank goodness) I said: “Sometime’s I feel like you are the only person who likes me” and he said “That’s cause I am.”

While, realistically I know this isn’t true, I have friends that love me, blah blah blah, I didn’t care. He was the only person I wanted to like me, because then I wasn’t alone in liking myself already. No wonder we fit so well. In the end, it is FRIDAY, I made it another week, and so did you, pat yourself on the back a toast something yummy to that!

 

Summer fun for the kids without breaking the bank!

Ahh it is summer, and if your a family finding yourself in between sports like us – you may be wondering what you can do to keep your kiddos busy. Here are a few ideas for family fun.

• Movies in the Park aka Friday Night Festival In addition to movies they are doing music as well at Robert Pfaff Park only; and Movies without music at Twin Creeks Park this summer.  Below is the lineup so you can sit down with your family and plan a night out under the stars.

Movies in the Park

 

• The Rogue Valley Family Fun Center

 

RVFFC

 

Don’t forget about $12 Tuesdays at the Rogue Valley Family Fun Center. They are still running their Tuesday Special which is: (1) Go Kart (1) Bumper Boat Unlimited Mini Golf All for only $12! **Upgrade to unlimited boats and karts for only $8 more.**

 

• Lava Lanes Bowling

 

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What is better than $1 bowling? Nothing! Lava Lanes in Medford has $1 bowling all summer long. Take the kids every Tuesday and Thursday between 11am and Midnight. (Remember this deal excludes holidays.)

 

•  Cinemark Tinseltown in the Medford Center

 

tinseltown

 

Ten fun movies for $5 when purchased in advance or $1 per show. See the movies and dates of showings below and follow the link for extra savings!

 

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Click here for more information and specials: http://www.cinemark.com/images/smc2014/SMC-BW%20Flyer%20254.pdf

 

Other Fun Options Include:

Water Parks, Biking, Hiking the trails and you can always find coupons with great offers like these here:

Groupon Offers: 50% off at Wild Life Safari 50% off at RogueAir,  with options of Buy 2 get 2 and buy 1 get 1. Includes socks and good till November 2014.

Enjoy the summer, without breaking the bank!

Top Step-Parent Blog!

Top-10-Step-Parenting-Blogs-200We were, or I guess…I was nominated by someone, somewhere for my blog. It was entered into a Step-parenting contest with fifty…yes 50! other stepparents who share the same passion as I do. And…we ranked in at #5! How fantastic is that? And, how do you thank someone that you have no idea who they are? My best guess would be to continue doing what I have been for the past few years – and one day when my first book is published it can include this anonymous person who believed in me – because it has made a monumental difference.

Its hard to share the love of what you do with people who register writing and blogging as rather insignificant. “What is blogging? Who cares about that? Big deal! I have better things to do with my time” are all things I have heard people say – and while I let it affect me way down somewhere – those comments don’t matter to me today. You, the readers and followers, the stepparents, parents, friends and family are who matters. If we all went off of what the naysayers say – we would never follow our dreams. Besides, the fuel in my life has always been “those people” who didn’t think I could do it, because I love the moments like this…where I do.

So, for today I am going to relish in this small step towards the life impacting writing I hope to do in the many years to come – and to thank you for your continued involvement and support in my blogging.

Read the article here on all of the Top Ten:

http://voiceboks.com/top-10-step-parenting-blogs-of-2014/

Blog post

Disneyland and LA – All the tips and tricks for your family vacation.

Everyone seems to think they can’t afford a trip to Disneyland, but the truth is…you can! We spent a week in Anaheim and Los Angeles and had a blast!  When I got back the first thing I wanted to do was share the ways we did it for a family of five – and to share the tips and tricks we learned along the way.

∗ Booking your vacation:

DO: Use promo codes and discount codes when booking hotels, rentals cars, event tickets etc. Budget and Avis allow you to stack the codes as well. Retailmenot.com was excellent!

DON’T: Bundle your trip. You save much more by booking everything separately.

DO: Save money by choosing a hotel that provides breakfast, free parking and free shuttle to and from the theme parks. (make sure the continental breakfast is for everyone, not just the adults)

DON’T: Use a travel agent. We were quoted $3600 for our trip for five. We paid $2155.00. Do the math, and don’t be afraid to double check prices on your own.

DO: Fly into LAX. It is much cheaper than SNA and its only a 30 mile drive to Anaheim. Just book a hotel in Anaheim.

∗ Traveling 

DO: Make sure you have a GPS, either on your phone or in your rental car.

DON’T: Try to avoid traveling via the freeway between 8-10 am and 3pm-7pm. If not, prepare for 30 miles to take you TWO HOURS!

DO: Make sure your rental car has unlimited mileage.

∗ Disneyland & California Adventure:

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Take FOOD, SNACKS & WATER!!! They check your bags but only for guns, knives etc. This will save you money, and you can leave the park for lunch and dinner. Denny’s is even right across the street. You MUST try the Turkey Leg and Corn on the Cob at both parks though.

Prices: The prices were not horrible, comparable to our local fair really. A beer at CA will run you $8, a pretzel is $5, and churros are $4. There is tax so prepare for that. Novelties ran an average of $20 for hats & t-shirts, $45 for sweatshirts etc.

Hopper:
Do: If you love Beer (CA only), Frito’s with Chili & Cheese (CA only) and enjoying rides at both parks.
Don’t: If you want to save $39 per person, don’t drink and have the time to spend a full day at each park.

Fast Pass:
Get them, they are free! The hard part was they are throughout the park not at each specific ride which is a hassle, but beats spending 3 hours in line. The fast pass gives a hour time frame for you to return to ride the ride later.

Disneyland FYI:
Although the park stays open til Midnight, certain sections close early. Therefore you will want to visit these places first. (I missed out on Tinkerbell – and it sucked!)

•Toontown – where Mickey & Minnie live closes at 8:30pm
•Fantasy Land/Faire – where you meet the Princesses closes at 7pm (enter through Bibbity Bobbity Boutique – which is a store)
•Pixies Hollow – where Tinkerbell is, closes at 3:15pm

Disneyland MUSTS: Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain, Haunted Mansion & the Fireworks show with Tinkerbell at 9:25pm.

California Adventure MUSTS: CARS ride (again get your fast pass), Soarin’ Over California & California Screamin’ – which lives up to its name. Our friends loved Tower of Terror – I refused to do it – but I heard it was great!

∗ Attractions Nearby:

Beaches:
Do visit Huntington Beach, Muscle Beach (Arnold Schwarzenegger worked out here) Newport Beach and the Santa Monica Pier. Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. is here, and if you love Forrest Gump it’s a must visit! I wouldn’t recommend the beach at Santa Monica if you have children, it is dirty, over-crowded and has an intense under tow.

Rent a Bike:
Enjoy the bike ride from Santa Monica Pier to Venice Beach, it is fantastic people watching and cheap for the whole family. We rented a tandem bike for us, and each of three kids rode a bike of their own. It was $34, for about an hour ride.

Hollywood Sign:
The Griffith Observatory sits high a top Hollywood Blvd, and presents an incredible view of not only the Hollywood sign, but all of LA. Plus, if you’re a James Dean fan, his movie “Rebel Without A Cause” was filmed there and there is a great tribute to him as well.

Hollywood Walk of Fame:

mm ellenFifteen blocks of more than 2,500 stars recognizing individual accomplishments in the entertainment industry. Pee first! I kid you not, they do not allow the use of their restrooms. However, I was able to talk one place into letting one kid use the bathroom, when I said “if not, he will pee on your sidewalk!” The other son, well…he peed on Rodeo Drive, S. Rodeo drive where the homes are, and in a bush, but in our defense… they are in a severe drought there, so it was in the bushes best interest.

 

As Seen On TV!

Melrose Avenue
Rodeo Drive – the movie Pretty Woman made this famous!
SUR Restarant – Beverly Hills Housewife Lisa Vanderpump is the owner.
The Kardashian’s store DASH
TCL Chinese Theatre (previously Grauman’s Chinese Theatre): Hand prints, footprints and signatures of many stars.
Pink’s Hot Dogs – corner of Melrose Ave. & N. La Brae Ave
Hollywood & Vine

Catch a MLB game:
bbWe (mainly me) love the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and personally any chance at seeing Mike Trout …count me in! The stadium is gorgeous, plenty of food selections from normal ballpark food, to Panda Express and Wetzels Pretzels. Total cost for a family of five, was $150 for tickets, $50 for food (Nacho Daddy in a souvenir Angels hat (huge), three Wetzels Pretzels bites with cheese, and a large beer) and $10 for parking. In my opinion completely worth the cost for a memory that lasts a lifetime. Plus, the Angels won – making it even better.

 

Well,I think that is that. Some quick key notes: We budgeted $160 a day for spending money and food. Tickets for a 2 day non hopper to DL/CA are $175 for adults age 10 and older, and $162 for children age 3-9.   I will post the sites that helped us along the way and I hope you take your family to the happiest place on earth♥

http://arestravel.com/Discounted Disney Tickets
http://www.mousesavers.com/ Disney Deals and Info
http://www.retailmenot.com/ Promo and Discount Codes

Baseball diamonds need home base

Being a mom of a child who plays sports, is much more than practices, games, snacks and dirty uniforms. We are first and foremost, a supporter! I will forever be my son’s biggest fan – he can twirl in a rainbow tutu, at noon, in the middle of Times Square and I would scream with pride!! Okay, maybe that is a little much – but you get my point.

My son can play baseball, he can hit, catch, and slide with the best of them. Some days he makes great plays, and some days, well, some days – he doesn’t. Either day, the best part of the game, is supporting my player, my son. All I ask is for him to do his best. His best is good enough for me, and no one else out there matters. Besides, at this age there aren’t any scouts in the bleachers – so who freaking cares?!?

My son was not raised to be the best, on purpose! He was and is still raised with the goal to do HIS best, not my best, or the coaches best, his. My desire for my son is wanting him to have fun, to enjoy the game, and to learn that sometimes in life you get a home run, and sometimes you strikeout – how you handle that is what makes the player!

Any kid can swing a bat, and catch a ball – that is not what baseball is about, at least not to me. My son spends hours at practice, he listens to his coach, and plays his best like every other player. But, what some parents forget is that baseball players aren’t made on the diamond alone, that diamond follows us home. It is the coaches job to mold the player on the field, and the parents job to mold the boy off the field.

betterboybaseball

Our boys needs to know that one bad play, one strikeout, or missed catch, doesn’t make him the worst, and that a one home run doesn’t make him the best! So many parents forget the importance of building the foundation of the child, before the purpose of life. The errors in life today, are lessons for tomorrow – that is what builds character in our boys, and makes them better players.

We need to remind our children that games aren’t won or lost by one player, they aren’t won or lost because one child is better than another, and no child on a team – makes or breaks the team, period! If that were the case, the game would not have teams, positions, or a batting order. It would be golf, or tennis…and be boring! 

We as parents need to ensure that our kids respect and understand the importance of a team and their coach. Being part of a team means rooting for each other, backing each other and supporting each other. When someone misses a hit, you don’t encourage your child to tell them they suck – you encourage them to say “nice try buddy, you will get it next time” and to give a high five or smack on the butt! Just make sure they know not all sports welcome the smack on the butt!  

It our job to show our children how to respect their coach as well. This is not done by coaching from the stands, yelling at the coach for making the choice to send or hold the runner. It isn’t done by yelling at your child about what mistake he made, or by going to the dugout to rip them sideways for mistakes either. I wish parents stopped and thought about being nine and ten years old, standing in a batters box, or even in the outfield, and what goes through their minds at that time, especially if they just messed up. They are already so far into their own heads, doubting themselves, then they hear their coach critiquing them – and now you want to chime in? Why?! You are the person that is supposed to make them feel better – not worse! A strikeout or missed catch – is not the end of the world, a lost game is not the end of the world. However, a child with zero confidence is.

My point here is that sometimes we get so carried away with winning and the score – that we forget what’s really important. Next year it won’t matter what the score was, or which team beat who – but the character of the player, the confidence of the player and those who supported the player will matter. You never hear a kid thanking a coach or parent for making him a winner – he thanks them for hours of practice, for showing the love of the game, and for believing in him – when he didn’t believe in himself.

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