Over The Top Mommy

Month: October 2016

Do YOU Know The Switch Witch? (She’s EVERY Parent’s BFF at Halloween)

Let me start by saying that I don’t do anything scary, especially at Halloween time. I don’t think it’s fun to scare my daughter or other children around me. With that being said, let’s talk about The Switch Witch because it’s Halloween time and you’re going to need her to come and save you! its-halloween-timeDon’t worry, The Switch Witch is a friendly witch and she will make your life so much easier. This time of year, kids everywhere are gathering way too much candy for their own good. Whether they’ve gone to Halloween parties or received goody bags from school, it’s all more candy than they should be eating. As soon as Halloween night hits, your home is going to be overthrown by even more sweet treats! lets-talk-about-the-switch-witchThe story of The Switch Witch is a fun, friendly one and a game changer for parents everywhere who are looking to get rid of their kid’s Halloween candy! It’s important to know that she is a friendly witch and a friend of The Tooth Fairy, Santa, and The Easter Bunny, so that’s how I first explained her to my daughter. She only visits during the first few nights after Halloween (including Halloween night). Halloween-treats-candyKids get to pick out 10 pieces of candy and put them away somewhere safe. Then, they leave the rest of their candy out for The Switch Witch before they go to sleep. (Some kids even write her a nice note!) Later that night, when everyone is sleeping, The Switch Witch will come in and “switch” out their candy for a surprise!the-switch-witch-brings When kids wake up the next morning, they get so excited to see what she left them! We’ve done this for every year that my daughter can remember and it really saves what could be looked at as a lot of unwanted sugary treats from being ingested by your kids. Your pediatrician and your dentist will be so pleased with you! Happy Halloween! we-love-the-switch-witch

Nutritional Tips to Help Minimize Migraines

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Kaiser Permanente Orange County. All opinions are 100% my own. Always seek medical advice from a medical professional. 

I’m a busy mom. I have no time to waste being sick but when I get a migraine, it literally ruins the entire day. Do you ever deal with migraines? They’re the worst! migraines-are-the-worstWhat starts off as a headache just seems to escalate and get so intense that my head feels like it’s going to pop off! The pain can get so bad that I need to go lay down in a dark room to sleep it off, which usually means sleeping until the next morning. Even worse are those migraines that last more than one day.prevention-and-wellnessI decided to set up an appointment to meet with a Kaiser Permanente Orange County Clinical Dietician. I wanted to chat in person and talk about my own experiences with migraines, what I’m eating, and if there’s anything I can alter in my diet to help minimize my migraines? I’ve had a few friends mention certain foods being related to the cause of migraines,so that was one of the things I wanted to inquire about. I also wanted to ask for other tips to help minimize the frequency of my migraines. I was anxious for my appointment with Natalie Lloyd, R.D., who’s a Clinical Dietitian from Kaiser Nutritional Services. kp-all-under-one-roofThe first thing I learned was about 90% of migraine sufferers have a family history of migraines, which means, if your parent has migraines, you’re pretty much guaranteed to experience them also. My mom does get them, so that was discouraging news, however, there are still things I can do to combat that statistic. I’m not giving up hope.genetics-matterSome other factors that can be related to migraines include lack of sleep, dehydration, hormones, and stress. Well, I fall into every one of those categories, too. its-time-to-get-pro-activeI decided that it was time to make some big changes and get more pro-active in my efforts to do things to counter what could be making me get migraines. eat-more-fruitDuring my appointment with the Clinical Dietitian, I learned that there’s no actual evidence that’s been found to link any certain food as the actual cause of a migraine. So weird because I swear there are foods that set mine off. We discussed this further though and although there isn’t actual evidence to support that, there are certain foods and ingredients used in foods (and some drinks) that can be avoided to help minimize migraines.
Here are just some of the foods to avoid:

  • anything fermented 
  • canned foods
  • processed, aged cheeses 
  • overripe tomatoes and avocados
  • heavily processed foods
  • caffeine – This is actually a tricky one. Sometimes people who drink caffeine regularly haven’t had enough caffeine which may cause a migraine, while others have had too much.
  • aspartame – This chemical can be found in several diet drinks and other beverages that claim to be low-cal or sugar free. It’s just bad overall and should be avoided. *Tip: Try drinking sparkling water.
  • alcohol and wine – Although many people talk about the sulfites in wine as being a problem, tannins are also something that can be a culprit of a migraine after consumption. Both sulfites and tannins should be avoided.

Some of my favorite things to snack on are actually on the list to try to avoid. The good news is that I was told that I didn’t need to completely eliminate these foods altogether, just to cut back on them significantly. Basically, just enjoy them every now and then and not on a daily basis.everything-in-moderationThe Clinical Dietitian also gave me some great general nutrition tips to follow as well. I feel like her tips were great for maintaining overall wellness, which is something that Kaiser Permanente Orange County strives to teach all of its patients and staff. It’s really more of a general guide to daily living, that could easily keep you on track and I feel like it’s really helpful. She also suggested keeping a food journal or food log, especially if you’re attempting to eliminate certain foods to see how your body reacts.
Take a look at the general tips I got: general-daily-recommendationsI learned so much at my appointment with the nutritionist. Although there’s no cure and nothing will completely eliminate my migraines, it’s been a big help to be more educated about some of the things to avoid. Since my appointment, and after making some changes in my diet and regimen, I feel a lot better and have experienced far fewer migraines lately.

Do you have issues with migraines? If you do, I highly recommend seeking professional advice from your own doctor.
To learn more about Kaiser Permanente Orange County, visit http://www.kp.org/orangecounty. Connect with them on Facebook and Twitter, too.


How I Achieved Better Balance in My Life

This post was sponsored by Nature Made® as a part of an Ambassador Program for Influence Central. All opinions are 100% my own.

Lately, I’ve been focusing a lot more on my health and trying to do things to take better care of myself. Over the past few years, I gotten into the habit of putting putting myself, and my own needs, last. Perhaps that just happens sometimes when you’re a mom? I was starting to feel so sluggish, I felt the energy level of a lazy cat that just sleeps all day long.achieving-balanceI made the decision to take a few steps to turn it around and honestly, just making those few changes to my daily diet and regimen, has me feeling better already. I’ve had a few friends ask me what I’ve been doing differently, which makes me happy because it makes me realize that others can see a difference. I’m always open to sharing my secrets and what works for me, so here you go. 5-things-i-didI started keeping a journal.
Keeping a daily journal was a great way to hold myself accountable. Since I was implementing a few changes in my life, writing everything down in one place seemed far easier to stay organized and keep track. There’s just something about knowing you have to write it all down that keeps you going. It also allows you to look back on previous days and see how well you’ve done and leaves you with a sense of accomplishment. How cute is my journal? It says “I’m doing me right now!” Seemed appropriate enough. i-started-keeping-a-journalI started drinking more water. 
For some reason, drinking enough water is one of my downfalls, meaning I rarely do it. I have no problem carrying a water bottle around with  me all day, but somehow my bottle stays full. I had to make a conscious effort to keep track of my water intake and make sure it was at least 64 oz. a day. It really helps if you have a cute cup (like this one) to drink your water from. drink-more-waterI chose healthier snacks and foods. 
I think part of my problem was a combination of being a busy mom and not eating when I should eat. That only backfired because when I did eat, I would choose things that weren’t the healthiest. I was basically snacking a majority of the day and grabbing not-so-healthy snacks. Making a conscious effort to plan out healthier snacks and foods was a game changer. I added more fruits and veggies throughout my day, as snacks and side dishes for my meals, and I felt a lot more energetic after just a couple of weeks. This is one of my favorite salads to make, too. healthier-snacksI took myself out for a daily walk. 
Like most people, I’m busy. I feel like I never stop moving all day long. However, I also don’t stop and take any time for myself during my busy days. I made the conscious effort to take a break each day, from whatever I had going on, to take myself out for a 30 minute walk. I know that sounds kind of funny but for me, there were two benefits to it. First of all, it was a chance to clear my head and decompress. Just being outside in nature is so relaxing and calms me down. Second, we’re supposed to be walking, or doing some form of exercise each day. It was a win-win for me. drop-everything-and-go-for-a-walkI added Nature Made® Probiotics to my day. 
Adding a probiotic to my day might seem random if you’ve never taken them, so let me explain a little more. A few months ago I had about a week of stomach problems so I took a probiotic  and it seriously helped me so much. nature-made-probioticsNature Made® Advanced Dual Action Probiotic has been clinically studied and provides dual support to both your small and large intestine for comprehensive coverage to help support digestive balance and healthy gut flora.†more-nature-made-probioticsI buy mine at Walmart because they offer them at such an amazing price that I can stock up.Nature Made® is the #1 Pharmacist Recommended brand for many key dietary supplement categories*. Nature Made® has a variety of vitamins, minerals and supplements (VMS) to help support nutritional gaps with your health goals in mind ranging from Digestive Support, Heart Health & Function, Energy Metabolism, Women’s Health and much more! (I also use Nature Made® KIDS FIRST Multivitamin with Omega-3 Gummies daily for my daughter.) gummies-in-handTo get motivation and tips around your specific health goals, you should consider joining the Nature Made® Healthy Habit Builder program here. For more information about Nature Made® vitamins and supplements available at Walmart, visit the Nature Made® Retailer Hub where you can also enter to win one of 60 Walmart gift cards (each worth $50) by taking part in the sweepstakes.(No purchase necessary.)

Connect with Nature Made® on Facebook and Twitter.
Connect with Walmart on Facebook and Twitter.

†This [These] statement [statements] has [have] not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This [These] product[s] is [are] not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease

An American Girl Story—Melody 1963: Love Has to Win Now Available on Amazon Video

This post has been sponsored by KidzVuz on behalf of Amazon Studios. All opinions are 100% my own. 

I was so elated to be invited a very special screening of the new Amazon Original Special: An American Girl Story—Melody 1963: Love Has to Win at The Grove LA. american-girl-melody-previewThe Amazon Studios special is set to premiere on Friday, October 21 on Prime Video in the US and UK and is the first of four original American Girl specials that will be made for Prime Video.american-girl-melody-theater“Melody Ellison” is one of American Girl’s newest historical dolls and she’s beautiful. Each of the American Girl historical dolls has her own “story”. Melody’s story is an extremely important one and is based in Detroit, in 1963, during the civil rights movement.

meet-melody-ellison The Amazon Original Special is based on American Girl’s Melody character and inspirational story. 10-year-old Melody’s eyes are opened to the racial inequality surrounding her, including the tragic 1963 Birmingham Church Bombing. As a result, her belief in the “indivisible” promise of our country’s Pledge of Allegiance comes into question, as she challenges her teacher on the validity of this given the horrific tragedy. After an emotional journey of self-reflection, her mother gives her the courage she needs by instilling in her that love brings out the best in everyone, reminding Melody that it’s important to “stand up for what’s right, even when it’s hard or scary.” american-girl-melody-marsai-martinYou’ll instantly fall in love with Marsai Martin (Black-ish) as the title character Melody. Idara Victor (TURN: Washington’s Spies) who stars as Melody’s mother, Frances Ellison and Frankie Faison (The Wire) who stars as Melody’s grandfather, Frank Ellison. Together, these 3 have such a special family that you just want to be a part of it. Frances Fisher (Titanic) also stars as Miss Abbot, Melody’s teacher. The feature is Executive Produced by Alison McDonald and Commonamerican-girl-melody-idara-victoramerican-girl-melody-frankie-faison

Watch this sneak peek:

Before the screening began, the film’s cast, along with some other celebs, were on hand for interviews and photographs, on the red carpet. My niece was very excited to see everything set up out in front of the theater.

american-girl-melody-ellison-theaterMy Own Thoughts
Once the movie began, I don’t think my eyes were dry for very long. It’s a very powerful and realistic portrayal of what Melody and her family experienced during a time where racism was widely accepted everywhere. Most school and public places were still segregated and the portrayal of the way many white Americans openly treated black Americans was horrendous, yet accurate.american-girl-story-melody The Amazon special addresses a big issue that was presented as being in the 1960’s but sadly, there is so much of these kinds of things that still happen in today’s world. It was an eye opener for me and as I sat there with my 7 year old niece. I did have to explain some of the scenes to her but I believe it was an important her to see how so many other children lived (and live) this way as their reality. american-girl-story-melody-memorabiliaThis story presents themes that are very timely and relevant for the world we live in today and in my opinion, it is a way to start a healthy dialogue in families about the topic of racism, both historically and present day.american-girl-melody-lift-your-voiceMelody’s character was one that was filled with so much grace. She endured so much ugliness in her little world and because of her momma, she continued to have hope and respond with kindness and kept love in her heart.
This is one of my favorite sayings from the special: american-girl-melody-sayingI won’t post a complete spoiler of the film but I will say that it’s a must-watch for everyone. It’s a topic that may be uncomfortable to watch but that’s all the more reason to watch and maybe even learn something. Also, it is an American Girl story, so rest assured that it will have a happy ending…but the story will always remain in my heart. Melody Ellison is one special little girl and I’m happy we will always have her doll, her books, and her movie in our home. american-girl-melody-ellison-dollWhere to Shop for Melody
Amazon and American Girl have collaborated to create a destination for fans of Melody’s stories to find a wide selection of American Girl Melody products. Visit http://www.amazon.com/americangirl to shop the 18-inch Melody doll, historically accurate 1960s doll outfits, a Motown-inspired recording studio that plays and records music, and more. From toys to books to crafts, Melody’s biggest fans can now discover and shop a wide selection of items available with free Two Day Shipping for Prime members. We also checked out all the Melody collection while we were inside the American Girl Store.american-girl-melody-her-very-own-dollDon’t Forget to Watch
An American Girl Story—Melody 1963: Love Has to Win beginning Friday October 21st and will be available for Prime members using the Amazon Video app for TVs, connected devices including Fire TV and mobile devices, or online at Amazon.com/originals. More exciting news is that Prime members will also be able to download the series on mobile devices for offline viewing. This news couldn’t have come at a better time for us because we’re heading out on a plane soon and my daughter will love watching this new special on the trip. I’m guessing she’ll be watching it several times! american-girl-melody-3A very special thank you to American Girl and Amazon Video for hosting us at this very special event and also for the beautiful Melody Ellison doll. It was a night to remember! 


Registration Still Available for the 2016 CHOC Walk at Disneyland Resort

If you have ever participated in CHOC Walk at Disneyland Resort, you already how amazing it is. An experience that’s all for the kids! We’ve had the opportunity to participate in this annual event for a few years now and it’s something you don’t want to miss out on.chocwalk_logo

This year, the walk will take place on Sunday, October 30. Beginning at 6:15 a.m. on October 30, an estimated 14,000 walkers from across the U.S. and around the world, including Canada, Mexico, Australia and Japan will walk approximately 3 miles through the Disneyland Resort to celebrate the life-saving, compassionate care CHOC provides Southern California’s children. The event culminates in the resort’s Downtown Disney® District where sponsors, hospital support groups, shops and restaurants have special offers for participants at the CHOC Festival. It is CHOC Children’s largest fundraiser of the year. choc-walk-peter-panThe walk route is filled with Disney magic, including entertainment and the world-famous characters and gives you the opportunity to experience the magic of being in the Parks before they’re open to regular guests. theres-something-magicalAs the largest and most unique single fundraising pediatric walk event in the nation, last year’s walk raised more than $2.5 million dollars for the hospital’s KidsCare Fund bringing the quarter-century total to over $26 million. Now in its 26th year, the 2016 walk promises to be extra “spooktacular” as it occurs on Halloween weekend this year and will be packed with fun for the whole family! choc-walk-dca


This year’s CHOC Walk goal is to raise 2.7 million dollars. All monies raised provide funding to the programs and services in the greatest need both at the hospital and in the community, from mental health services to an expanded neonatal intensive care unit to care for children and families who cannot afford to pay. Every dollar counts for Southern California’s kids!choc-walk-halloween-timeWith your help, this goal can definitely by made and hopefully surpassed! There are a few different ways that YOU can help! First of all, you, yourself, can participate in the CHOC Walk. (Register here.) Also, grab your friends, your family, even grab some of your Instagram followers if possible, and join in! There are few things that can drag an adult out of bed this early on a weekend but I can guarantee that you’ll be beyond touched when you are surrounded by this crowd. I shed quite a few tears during the event. It’s beautiful to see all of the families participating, who have received amazing care over the years from CHOC Children’s Hospital. youll-be-touched choc-walk-ambassadors-luauCHOC Walk participants also have the opportunity to attend the 2nd annual CHOC Walk Ambassadors’ Luau, the afternoon before the walk, on Saturday, October 29 at at the Disneyland® Hotel’s Adventure Lawn. The luau is hosted by CHOC Walk Ambassadors, past and present, as a way to raise additional funds for the CHOC Walk in the Park and celebrate the courage and strength that they, and thousands of other CHOC patients and families, have shown during their medical journeys. dancers-at-the-2015-choc-walk-ambassadors-luauThis special Polynesian-themed event for the whole family will be the perfect way to celebrate the day before the CHOC Walk. The event will feature activities for attendees of all ages, including: special photographs with Disney® characters; tattoos by Kaman’s Art Shoppe; Ambassadors’ silent auction; delicious luau-inspired dinner; authentic Polynesian entertainment with special appearances by Tupua Productions, Loa Greyson, Jerome Grey, Halau Hula Lani Ola and “Auntie” and an exciting finale featuring world-famous Polynesian fire dancers! Guests will also enjoy a dash of Disney magic with a special visit from artist Jimmy Mulligan. This year’s master of ceremony will be KTLA’s Henry DiCarlo. To purchase tickets for the luau, visit hereluau-attendees-each-get-a-photo-with-a-disney-character

So, won’t you consider helping the kids of Southern California! Join in on the fun by registering for the 2016 CHOC Walk! For more information about the 2016 CHOC Walk and to register, visit http://www.chocwalk.org, Event information can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Join in on the conversation by following #chocwalk.

This is not a sponsored post. I am a huge supporter of CHOC Children’s and CHOC Walk and wanted to help spread the word to my readers. Some images and logo are property of CHOC Children’s. 


No Tricks, Just Treats and Family Fun at Knott’s Spooky Farm!

The month of October is literally the start of my favorite time of year….Halloween Season! I can’t think of a better way to spend some family time than by visiting Knott’s Spooky Farm to check out their non-spooky, kid-friendly Halloween offerings. The weather couldn’t be more perfect and the decorations throughout the park, have me feeling all festive!knotts-spooky-farm-logo

knotts-spooky-farm-cauldronThis year, Knott’s Spooky Farm is a limited-time weekend event perfect for families and is open on weekend days during October, as well as Halloween day. All of the fun included in the price of a regular park ticket. (pumpkin and cookie decorating are available for a nominal fee.) Whether they choose to wear a costume or not, guests visiting the park are welcome to join in on all the fun Halloween activities. knotts-spooky-farm-photoHere are the fun experiences you won’t want to miss out on this year:

Ghost Town Treat Stops 
As kids enter the Park, they receive an orange bag for trick or treating. As you proceed down Main Street in Ghost Town, kids have the opportunity to stop at a variety of locations, mingle with the friendly ghosts, and trick or treat. It’s also fun to ring the doorbell of the whimsically themed doors at each location. Don’t forget to say “hi” the to witch also! Costumes for children are allowed but not required.knotts-camp-spooky-friendly-ghostknotts-camp-spooky-friendly-witchLinus’ Great Pumpkin Patch
Did you know that this year is the 50th anniversary of the animated classic Peanuts, It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!? I remember watching this as a little girl.knotts-spooky-farm-50-years This year at Knott’s Spooky Farm, you’ll find Linus and Sally in Ghost Town with special Halloween themed activities inside Craft Barn.knotts-spooky-farm-coloring There are some fun activities to do inside like Peanuts coloring, games, decorating your very own pumpkin head,( for a nominal fee), and photo opportunities with Linus! You can also sit and watch the classic Peanuts special. It’s all very nostalgic. knotts-spooky-farm-paint-a-pumpkinknotts-spooky-farm-linus

Dia De Los Muertos 
This year, over to Fiesta Village, Knott’s has created some vibrant, non-scary fun with a Dia de los Muertos educational celebration of the season. Enjoy browsing through traditional shops with cultural creations for sale. For a nominal fee, you can also decorate a Sugar Skull cookie. Don’t miss this new for 2016 offering! knotts-spooky-farm-dia-de-los-muertosknotts-spooky-farm-calaverasPeanuts Dance Party and Pumpkin Patch Costume Contest
In the Camp Snoopy Theatre, there’s a ton of Halloween fun going on with the Peanuts Gang! The Peanuts gang host a spooktacular costume contest every day at 3:45 pm.  Families are invited to bring their festively costumed children for some Halloween fun! After the contest, you can also join the Peanuts characters for a Peanuts Dance Party!knotts-camp-spooky-theater-timesknotts-spooky-farm-theaterAlso, don’t forget to catch a performance of “Monsters Are Coming Charlie Brown!” in the Camp “Spooky” Theater, while you’re in Camp Snoopy. Guests of all ages can sing and dance in the aisles, along with the Peanuts characters to classic Halloween tunes.

Spooky Hallow Maze 
Even the littlest explorers in your family will enjoy the Spooky Hallow Maze in Camp Snoopy. Experience an enchanting adventure through a spooky forest with larger-than-life jack-o-lanternsknotts-spooky-farm-maze-photoWhile you’re at Knott’s for your day of fun, consider making the most of your visit by adding on the All-Day Dining plan. Guests with an All Day Dining plan receive a wrist band at any of the participating locations and enjoy one entrée and one side dish as often as every 90 minutes! knotts-camp-spooky-all-day-diningFor only $31.99 (plus tax) you can enjoy up to seven different dining locations throughout Knott’s Berry Farm. (Drinks are not included with the plan) To learn more about the All-Day Dining plan, go here. knotts-spooky-farm-pose-with-witchDon’t miss out on all the daytime family friendly fun at Knott’s Spooky Farm this year! You won’t find any tricks, just treats!

Connect with Knott’s on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
You can join in on the conversation by following #KnottsSpookyFarm.


My family and I were provided with media tickets to Knott’s in order to write this review. All opinions are 100% my own. Logo is property of Knott’s and Cedar Fair.




I Got A Peek Inside The Smart Home in Rancho Mission Viejo (It’s Amazing!)

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are 100% my own. 

A few weeks ago, I had an opportunity to visit the Cox Smart Home in Canopy in Esencia, located the in the new, master-planned community of Rancho Mission Viejo. One of the model homes in the Canopy neighborhood was designed as a “Smart Home“. Warmington Residential and Cox Communications worked hand in hand to design this home to be inclusive of several “smart” features that are powered by Cox’s gigabit internet speed.cox-smart-home-in-canopyResidents of Rancho Mission Viejo are lucky to be the first in the area to have access to Cox’s G1GABLAST service, which is 100 times faster than the average U.S. Internet service!  Since Cox is the first broadband communications company to deliver gigabit-internet speed service to Orange County business and residential customers, residents in Rancho MIssion Viejo are basically living “The Gig Life”.

Watch this visual comparison of Internet speeds:

Let’s look at a digital snapshot of my life. There are 3 people who live in my home. Between the 3 of us, we have 3 laptops, 1 desktop computer, 1 wireless printer, 3 cell phones, 2 iPads, 1 mini iPad, and a gaming system. That’s a whole lot of devices! We aren’t always using all of them at once, but there are times when someone is telecommuting from home, while someone else is doing homework, and a 3rd person is on their phone or even blogging on their laptop. There’s nothing more frustrating than having to stop and ask others in your home to get off their device so you can have decent service!cox-smart-home-youll-never-have-to-say

I am so fortunate to live in the neighborhood of Esencia in Rancho Mission Viejo because we have G1GABLAST high speed internet and don’t have to worry about how many devices are running at once. Truth be told, we’re really spoiled now and I hope I never have to go back to “the old way”. I don’t think I would’ve survived with dial-up internet! cox-smart-home-welcomeGetting back to the Smart Home though…it was beyond cool to see the demonstrations they had going on, showcasing the capability of the home’s high speed internet and how it can handle more than 10 interactive, visually stimulating demonstrations at once.Some of what was going on included a Wi-Fi cooking with a food blogger, telehealthy sessions with CHOC Childrens (via InTouch mobile robot), online music lessons that were streaming, a Wi-Fi pet and Wi-Fi pet feeder, virtual educational instruction, and more! With everything happening at once in the home, the heavy bandwidth was really put to the test! cox-smart-home-infoHere are some of my favorite features from that day: 

WiFi Pet and Pet Feeder
It was fun to be greeted by Chip, the Robot pet, right when I walked through the front door. There’s nothing like coming home from a long day at work and having a pet there waiting for you. I realize that chip is a robot dog, but isn’t he adorable?


These are some of the hottest toys that kids are asking for nowadays. The home also has “Feed and Go” Smart Pet Feeder set up, which has a built-in webcam that connects via Wi-Fi to the home network. Not only can you set it up to feed your four-legged companions, you can also keep tabs on them via your Smartphone.cox-smart-home-chip-and-biancaCox Contour Service With Voice Remote
Ryland Madison, director of Product Marketing, Cox Communications was on hand in the family room to talk about Cox Contour Service, which is available to all Cox customers. The remote offers a variety of features, which you can access from the couch. I know, firsthand, what an amazing set-up this is. You can even do everything with the “voice” button when you speak into the remote! No more searching through 1000’s of channels to find your show!cox-smart-home-contour

Wi-Fi Enabled Cooking
If you’re a foodie (like me), you may already know of Internet Chef Whitney Bond. She’s best known for her YouTube videos, demonstrating how to put together recipes in 30 minutes or less. Whitney was in the kitchen demonstrating how she prepares some amazing appetizers using a Wi-Fi enabled WeMo slow cooker, which was functioning on the gig-peed internet. She also treated us to some of her delicious cookies!cox-smart-home-whitney-bond-cookies For someone who relies on the internet for her job, having super fast speeds and capabilities within her home is essential. Whitney also showed us how she controls the slow cooker from her smart phone using the free WeMo app, even when away from home.cox-smart-home-whitney-bond-cooking-demoThis could be a game changer for a working mom like me who spends time driving to and from sports practices, but somehow needs to prepare a meal that’s ready immediately after practice, when I have a starving kid! Having the ability to adjust cooking time and temperature from the and and a smart device delivers the ultimate convenience and peace of mind.

Telemedicine sessions with Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC)
In one of the bedrooms, there was a demonstration of a telemedicine session. Michelle Jones, the telehealth manager for CHOC Children’s and Dr. Jack Winkle with In-Touch Telemedicine. cox-smart-home-telemedicineDr. Winkle was speaking from the  In-Touch Express Robot because he was off-site at the time.. The capabilities of telemedicine are amazing, allowing the doctor-patient connection at any time to be possible. It’s basically going to be the house calls of the future! 

Streaming Online Music Lessons With Skype
I was so impressed to be able to watch world-renowned violinist, Jason Yang, give a violin lesson via Skype. cox-smart-home-jason-yangHis student was actually in Canada and Jason explained that he relies on Cox G1GABLAST to provide him with the necessary bandwidth to stream while he’s working.

With the increased digital needs of people living in the 21st century, Cox has recognized that gone are the days of having just 1 or 2 devices running in a home. Not only is technology a way of life, it’s also necessary for students and their homework, adults who telecommute form home, families streaming shows and movies at home, and using devices in the home that help make life easier overall. It seems like everything relies on internet speed and service.

      Canopy at Esencia is located at:

                100 Vasto St.

       Rancho Mission Viejo, Calif.  92694cox-smart-home-facadeMy experience inside the Cox Smart Home was nothing short of amazing! To learn more about Cox Communications and the services it offers, visit here.


Cute Alternatives to Edible Halloween “Treats” for Kids + Plus FREE Printable Tags

I was provided with products in order to facilitate this post. All opinions are 100% my own. 

It’s Halloween season and I get really excited about all of the fun happenings this time of year. Parties, crafts, and trick-or-treating are just some of my favorites.its-halloween-timeI’m always on the lookout for alternatives to edible Halloween “treats” to give to my students. With all of the other Halloween activities going on, kids get plenty of sugar already. I know other moms appreciate it when their children receive non-sugary treats, especially with general concerns about sugar intake and food allergiesHalloween-treats-candyI found so many cute things to use on Oriental Trading Company’s site. Have you seen their Halloween section yet? From Halloween toys and games, thematic crafts, and party decorations to Halloween costumes, they have a great Halloween selection. They do have candy on their site as well, which I also order for other things.halloween-plushIt’s hard for anyone to resist stuffed animals, so I ordered a bunch of Plush Halloween Mini Characters for my students, which come in owl, cat, and mummy. I love that they’re Halloween-y but not scary. They’ll be perfect for kids to hug or hang onto. I know my own daughter used to have plush with her when she was afraid of the dark. I also think I’ll let my students read with their animals in the classroom if they choose to do so.halloween-plush-for-gifts I attached a “Happy Halloween” tag to each one using a printable I made, and used orange and black bakers twine to tie it on.happy-halloween-tagYou can download my FREE printable here. As always, I recommend printing it out on white cardstock.halloween-treat-alternatives-for-kidsI cannot wait to to give these to my students. They are going to be so excited! Do you have alternatives to sweets that you like to give to kids at Halloween time?



New Teaser Trailer for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Did you see the new teaser trailer yet for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales? I get excited about every new Pirates of the Caribbean movie and this one is no different! Pirates-of-the-caribbean-poster

Johnny Depp returns to the big screen as the iconic, swashbuckling anti-hero Jack Sparrow in the all-new “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.” (Although I was sad not to see him appear in the teaser trailer.) The rip-roaring adventure finds down-on-his-luck
Captain Jack feeling the winds of ill-fortune blowing strongly his way when deadly ghost sailors, led by the terrifying Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), escape from the Devil’s Triangle bent on killing every pirate at sea—notably Jack. Jack’s only hope of survival lies in the legendary Trident of Poseidon, but to find it he must forge an uneasy alliance with Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), a brilliant and beautiful astronomer, and Henry (Brenton Thwaites), a headstrong young sailor in the Royal Navy. At the helm of the Dying Gull, his pitifully small and shabby ship, Captain Jack seeks not only to reverse his recent spate of ill
fortune, but to save his very life from the most formidable and malicious foe he has ever faced.


Watch the Teaser Trailer: 

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales opens in theaters May 2017 in 3D, RealD 3D and IMAX 3D! How excited are you about it? I can’t wait!

Find the film’s official Facebook page here. Connect with Walt Disney Studios on Twitter and Instagram.

This is not a sponsored post.  Images and trailer are property of Walt Disney Studios. All opinions are 100% my own.