The Oogie Boogie Bash at Disneyland

The Oogie Boogie Bash at Disneyland

This is Halloween!

 -The Nightmare Before Christmas

For the past 5 years we have been attending the Halloween event at Disneyland. This is a special ticketed event that is separate from the Annual Pass that we have. While it is definitely on the pricey side, I find it to be completely worth it! Disneyland puts together an amazing Halloween experience that you can’t find during their normal business hours.

This year Disney brought The Oogie Boogie Bash to California Adventure. In the years that we have been going, it has always been at Disneyland. Although, fun fact, when I worked at Disneyland, the halloween event was always at DCA. Anyway, I was a bit skeptical because Disneyland has so much more space, but in the end I actually preferred for it to be over at DCA!

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I’ve put together a list on how to maximize your time at The Oogie Boogie Bash below:

1. WHEN TO BUY YOUR TICKETS

These tickets will set out fast so you definitely want to get them as soon as they go on sale! They typically go on sale around summer time and annual passholders get priority. I prefer to purchase tickets for the last week of September at the latest. These tickets will be slightly cheaper than if you were to go in October.

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2. GET THERE EARLY

If you have a ticket you are allowed to enter the park 3 hours before the event starts! There will be a separate line to enter the park and people will start to line up pretty early. I actually decided to enter the park with my annual pass so we could go in slightly earlier. There was a place inside of DCA where we could go and “sign in” with our Oogie Boogie Bash ticket to get our wristband. This line was significantly shorter than the one outside.

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3. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE EARLY ENTRANCE TIME

Believe it or not you can really get a lot done in those 3 extra hours! I love to take those hours to ride all of the rides we love. This way we aren’t “wasting” the party on the rides and missing out on the special Halloween stuff. I have the Max Pass (which I also highly recommend), so we got Fast Passes for a majority of our favorite rides.

Eat dinner before the party starts! As soon as that clock strikes 6pm (or whatever time is starts), the party starts and you are going to want to get right in there! So definitely take this time to eat dinner. You are definitely going to want to eat before the trick-or-treat trails start 🙂

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4. MAKE A MENTAL PRIORITY LIST

There is SO MUCH to do and if you are going with kids, it is nearly impossible to do EVERYTHING. But grab one of the event pamphlets when you enter and scroll through it. In years past we skipped all of the trick-or-treat trails but now that my son is older we made that a priority. This year was really cool because they had villains at some of the trick-or-treat trails and it was amazing!

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5. WHERE TO WATCH THE PARADE

The Frightfully Fun Parade is my FAVORITE parade year after year! It has your favorite villains, it’s a little eery, and has a whole unit dedicated to the Haunted Mansion. Talk about awesome, right?!

Since this year was a first over at DCA I wasn’t really sure where to watch the parade. I asked a cast member early in the day where the parade would step off (Pixar Pier) and I knew that I wanted to be as close to step-off as possible. When you are further down the parade route, it takes longer for the parade to get to you and I knew I didn’t want to sit around waiting. I also took into consideration that the parade route was longer than at Disneyland so I took a shot at not waiting in a spot for an hour before the parade started.

My instinct was right (thank goodness) and we found a spot right next to the Golden Zephyr just as the Headless Horseman was walking down. We honestly love this parade so much that B cried when it was over because he said it wasn’t long enough 🙂

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There is so much to do and see at The Oogie Boogie Bash – which I well get to in my next blog post, so stay tuned!

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OC Bubble Pop

OC Bubble Pop

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

Maya Angelou

(We were hosted by OC Bubble Pop, but all pictures and opinions are my own).

We are always looking for fun things to do right here in Orange County, which is why we were super excited to explore everything that OC Bubble Pop had to offer. OC Bubble Pop is conveniently located at The District Promenade in Tustin, right in the heart of Orange County. 

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Immediately when we walked in we were greeted by the incredibly friendly staff. It was super easy to get checked in but TIP: you can fill out the waiver online prior to your visit. My son (6) could hardly contain his excitement and rushed right in and ready to start exploring.

OC Bubble Pop offers various bubble stations ranging from dry-ice bubble making to a station where you get to actually stand inside of a life-size bubble!

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One of our favorite stops was the Bubble Smasher. Bubbles float across the station and your goal is to pop the bubble and make a basket at the same time. Super challenging, but so much fun! And don’t worry about picking up the balls on the floor. A staff member is standing by to help get that for you 🙂

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We also had on our eyes on the stations where you could build as big of a bubble as you possibly could. I couldn’t even believe some of the bubbles B was making! It’s pretty awesome to watch your kid have an idea and then watch it come try.

My son could have spent all day there! And OC Bubble Pop makes it super convenient for families of littles that DO want to spend all day there because the price of admission is good for ALL DAY! Does that get any better?! They also have semi-private birthday parties and events, and you get your very own party room.

My biggest takeaway from OC Bubble Pop was the staff and how clean it was! Never have I experienced such an attentive, kind, creative, and nurturing group of people. Every staff member was there to help, to guide, and to even play with your kid. I could tell they genuinely loved their job!

Thank you, OC Bubble Pop, for letting us explore your space, we will definitely be back!

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Have you been to OC Bubble Pop? Or anything similar where you live? Would you want to spend a day having bubbles of fun?!

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Summer at Knott’s Soak City

Summer at Knott’s Soak City

If you grew up in Orange County then you most likely spent countless hours at the infamous Wild Rivers. I have so many fond memories of many summers spent at this thrilling water park, I couldn’t wait until my son was old enough to take him to one! While Wild Rivers is gone (for now), we do have Knott’s Soak City right here in Orange County. For our first trip I had so many questions about what I needed to know, bring, do and etc. I had a hard time finding any real information so I’ve put together some helpful tips for your next Knott’s Soak City adventure!

Top 10 List of Things to Know When Visiting Knott’s Soak City

1. Buy Before You Go

Get your tickets before you go! Plan the date you want to visit the park, purchase your tickets online and save as much as $9 on your ticket. You can also take a peek at Goldstar and see what they have to offer.

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2. Get there early!

Knott’s Soak City opens at 10am but people will start lining up well before then. Once the doors are officially opened the line moves fairly quickly, but you will still need to go through security. You will also want to grab a spot ASAP! Which leads to me to…

3. Grab a Spot in the Shade

Shade is hard to come by so you will definitely want to head to the shaded areas first. I made that mistake and we only got half shaded chairs, which was kind of a bummer. We really only were in our chairs to eat lunch but it would have been nice to cool down. They do have shaded areas to eat lunch but the signs say you can only sit there for 30 minutes.

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4. Harbor Waterworks

We just happened to find chairs in front of Harbor Waterworks which ended up being perfect! If your kids are old enough to go off somewhat by themselves, this is the perfect area to set up camp. Even if you don’t have a chair over in this area, it’s a great place where the kids can run around and you can take a moment to breath! Just be careful of the big buckets of water that will dump out every so often. I learned this the hard way!

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5. Bring a Waterproof Phone Case

Somebody gave me this idea and it was the best advice! Because you’re rarely with all of your belongings this is the perfect way to keep your phone on you. It came in handy when I wanted to grab a few photos and videos. It also was really convenient to slide in a credit card. I used a Joto Waterproof Phone Case that I found on Amazon.

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6. Wear Your Flip Flops

The ground gets pretty hot as the day goes on so we had to put on our flip flops while we were walking from ride to ride. Trust me, you won’t be the only one. You’ll see a big pile of flip flops at the bottom of each ride!

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7. Rent a Tube

We didn’t rent a tube but I think on our next visit we will rent tubes. We went on a Friday so it was pretty crowded the later it got in the day. The rides that require a tube, you have to wait in line to get a tube and then wait in another ride to go down the ride. Also, if you want a tube in the wave pool or the lazy run, they are pretty hard to come by. But you can bring your rental tubes in any pool or on any ride!

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8. Make Your Own Cabana

You’re allowed to bring in a small cooler with water and sports drinks. But honestly, we brought in a lot of snacks and nobody said a word. I think you could probably bring in lunch under the radar. Many families also brought in wagon strollers and set up camp on the grass with their umbrellas. I don’t have an umbrella that will stand on grass, otherwise this seems like it would have been such a good idea!

9. How Tall Are You?

If you are under 48″ inches you are required to wear a life vest on any ride that doesn’t have tubes and in any of the pools. I suggest being a minimum of 42″ if you plan on going. If you are less than 42″ then you won’t be able to ride any of the rides..

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10. Lockers

When we first got there we immediately went to the lockers to put everything in there. The lockers range from $15-$25 depending on the size you get. But, I think next time we will skip the lockers and keep everything at our chairs. I would rather spend that money on rental tubes! And make sure you keep your valuables at home 🙂

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I hope this is helpful to you! Do you have any plans to visit Knott’s Soak City this summer? Or a water park in your town? Let me know in the comments!

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Sawdust Festival in Laguna Beach

Sawdust Festival in Laguna Beach

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”

-Thomas Merton

Growing up, every Summer my parents would take my sister and I to the Sawdust Festival in Laguna Beach. We would look in awe of the glassblowers, get a new toe ring and maybe share a scoop of ice cream. Although I would never classify my parents as artists, their appreciation for art was always unintentionally present.

This year I decided to incorporate a visit to the Sawdust Festival in our Summer plans. To be honest I was a little apprehensive, as my son is only 5, but today we went for it and had a blast! We made a full day of it by stopping for lunch at Avila’s El Ranchito on PCH, caught the free shuttle in The Village and headed straight towards to our destination.

I am shamelessly the mom who is always thinking of what activity we can do next. I love being active. I love being creative. I love learning experiencing new (and old) things. And I really love taking my son along for the ride. Admittedly, it’s hard for me to slow down and remember it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. Today was about the journey- and it was perfect.

The shuttle ride was fun in and of itself. We don’t get to experience the shuttle in our day-to-day lives, so it was a treat to walk to the stop, wait (somewhat patiently), check the shuttle on the tracker, and then FINALLY seeing it arrive. We really only went to two stops, but again, it’s about the journey 🙂

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The Trolley Tracker is really user friendly and such a great tool to use if you want to travel through Laguna Beach without the hassle of driving and parking your own car. I actually didn’t really need to use that much. We just walked around until we found the Free Shuttle sign, but we weren’t really in a rush so that worked for us.

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Once we arrived at The Sawdust Festival we jumped in line to purchase our tickets. You can purchase them online prior to arriving, but I opted to just pay at the door. And great news: kids 5 and under are free! I mean…does that ever happen!? You can check out the rest of the prices right here.

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The Sawdust Festival was everything I remember it being. Winding alleys leading down different paths, live music, and lots of art. Our first stop was at the Pottery Wheel where B got to make his own clay bowl. What an experience that was! I am so grateful to the young college kids who really take the time to help guide the kids as they mold their own creation. Once finished you have the option to take it home as is (once dried) for free! Or you can pay $25 to have it glazed and shipped to your home. We decided to have it glazed that way B can eat “cereal, oatmeal or fruit” out of it – B’s words 🙂

After that we made our way through all of the beautiful art. We saw; a man painting a picture of the ocean, the infamous glassblowers, and so many unique creations. Dip n’ Dots were calling our name so we took an ice cream break under the shade. Once our bellies were full we headed over to the kids art corner for a Rhyme & Drawing Class. I think this was the highlight of my day!

This art class was completely free and the man (Brent Kreischer) teaching the class was so incredible with the kids. He asked each kid to name their “favorite things” and then collectively name something that rhymed with each item, even if it wasn’t a word. His philosophy was: “Dr. Seuss made up words and followed no rules, and everyone enjoys Dr. Seuss.”

B was enthralled. I was impressed. Brent went around to each kid and they created a rhyme that complemented the picture that they drew. It was really wonderful.

Once we finished the class it was time to head back. On our way out we were stopped by a charismatic woman who offered to make B a balloon animal – he chose a Stegosauras.

As a whole I was really impressed by how kid friendly The Sawdust Festival was, and how attentive all of the artists were. We left with big smiles on our faces and B even asked me if we were going to come back next year. I think that is a big yes!

Have you been to the Sawdust Festival this year? What is your favorite thing to do there?

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Best Birthday Ever

Best Birthday Ever

Every year to kick off Summer and celebrate B’s birthday we spend two nights at The Disneyland Resort. It is so magical it makes me want to live there! This year we celebrated with B’s dad, bonus mom and brother. This was our first time vacationing as a modern family and honestly, it really made our time there even more special. I know a lot of my friends (maybe even family…) don’t understand our “family” dynamics – and that’s okay! I understand it is a unique situation, but this is what works for us.

I would be lying if I said it has always been this way, because it most definitely hasn’t. But when everyone moves past the hurt and realizes it’s about the big picture, it makes everything so much easier! Is this my favorite thing to do? No, but it’s not about me. This is about my son being around the people that he loves. Whomever my son loves, I love too and it is just that simple.

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The first day I met up with everyone just before nap time. This made the check-in to The Disneyland Hotel so much easier having just me there. But, they do have an area for kids to watch Disney movies, so if you are checking in with your kids they will easily be occupied. Also, when I happened to be checking in, Pluto was in the kids area! I was a little taken back when I saw him because I really couldn’t believe he was there…Lol!

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At check-in they offered to upgrade my room to have a view of Downtown Disney but I opted to keep my original room with a view of the pool. I figured we wouldn’t be in the room to watch the fireworks from our room so we wouldn’t get much out of that view.

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Have you ever stayed at The Disneyland Hotel? This was our second time staying there and it’s my favorite hotel over Paradise Pier. I have yet to stay at The Grand Californian – but it’s my dream to stay there! I love the Disneyland Hotel because it just has a more “Disney Magic” feel. Even the headboard on the bed lights up and plays “When You Wish Upon A Star” – talk about magical! I also love staying here because the walk to Disneyland and DCA is much shorter and you can even make a quick short cut through The Grand Californian to get into DCA.

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If you have a kid that still naps or you want to nap so they can stay up for the night parades, staying at any one of the resort hotels is such a game changer. It really allows for you to enjoy the time in the parks without having to worry about getting on every ride or seeing all of the shows. We were able to head back to the room on both days to regroup, relax and take a little nap.

Also, the pool is just amazing! The last time we stayed there we never bothered with the pool but this time we decided to dedicate one whole day to enjoy all of the pool amenities. Of course, once B saw the pool and the Monorail Slides, he wanted to go in it every day – which we did! If we got too hot in the parks we would come back to hotel, change into our swimming clothes and cool off in the pool – it was perfect.

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The pool area has cabanas that you can reserve ahead of time as well as a splash pad area for little ones. The monorail slides are up at the top and perfectly situated by the splash pad with beach access to the slides – which was the perfect area for B’s brother to hang out. They even have a double slide for toddlers which was so cute!

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The Disneyland Hotel Monorail Slides

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On the last day there we had to check out by 11am but we could still stay and enjoy the pool! Once I checked out they gave me a pool key that was valid for the remainder of the day. We definitely took advantage and enjoyed the whole pool area on our last day there.

TIP: They do not give out wristbands to the pool. The only requirement to get in is having a room key or pool key. So we were able to let B’s dad and etc. into the pool to enjoy the day with us. It was a perfect end to our vacation!

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We spent the majority of our time near the slides but every now and then we would venture to the two big pools down below. At one point we were swimming and we saw Goofy off in the distance walking around. And then we happened to look up at the bridge overlooking the pool and Pluto was there! I’m not sure who was more excited – me or B! It’s those little things that make Disney such a unique experience.

I was really sad to leave when it was time to head home. Every night as we tucked ourselves into bed B would say, “This is the best birthday ever!” We just had the best time with our modern family and I’m already looking forward to this vacation next year.  Maybe I can convince everyone to go on a cruise!

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Have you ever been on a Disney vacation? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

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What’s your legacy?

What’s your legacy?

“What is a legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.” —Hamilton, “The World Was Wide Enough”

When I was younger I used to think that your life wasn’t worth much unless you had acquired some sort of fame. I desperately wanted to be an actress; and not just because of the fame (I really did/do love acting), but I thought I could never label myself an actress unless I was famous. I think it was a combination of what my parents and myself considered to be successful. I truly believed that until I had “made it”, that I couldn’t acknowledge myself to be known as anything. And to be honest, it wasn’t until recently that I realized fame has no concrete affirmation of determining who you are and what your legacy is.

With the risk of sounding like a cliche – motherhood changed me, and not just in the most obvious ways. It changed me so deeply and cracked my heart open in ways I didn’t think possible. I feel like I see clearer now as it opened a whole new world of what’s out there and what it means to really live.

I recently got to see Hamilton for the second time. It’s amazing how one show can really pull at your center and drop you into a new part of yourself. I loved getting to see it a second time because I really had a better understanding of the story they were telling. It’s such a beautiful show that I was so overwhelmed the first time I saw it. I cried so much I didn’t know how to bring myself back to reality. But, this last show had my undivided attention. I felt like I really could comprehend the definition of legacy and what it stands for in each of us. It doesn’t matter how much money we make, how many friends or followers we have. What matters are the seeds we leave behind.

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It’s no secret that I still have dreams bigger than life; which I think is one of the most healthy parts of existing. But, I no longer feel that my life won’t be worth anything unless I’ve reached fame. My fame comes from behind the gray eyes of my son. From the raw hugs as he digs his way closer to my heart.  From the desire to play games, snuggle, watch movies, and just be together. He loves me.

I went to dinner tonight and I witnessed two young teens rush over with such excitement to their dad as he walked into the restaurant. Each of them jumped into his arms and gave him the biggest bear hug. Before stepping away one daughter held onto his hand and led him to the table, looking at his face with such love and adoration. It really warmed my heart. I can only hope that my own son will continue to greet me in this same way. I would be so honored for my legacy that I leave behind to be how much I loved my son. That would be enough.

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Home Depot Kids Workshop

Home Depot Kids Workshop

Last weekend, I took my son to Home Depot in Mission Viejo for their FREE kids workshop, to build a birdhouse.  This workshop is held once a month for kids between the ages of 5-12 and every class they make something different. We had never been before, so I really had no idea what to expect. I called a couple of days before asking what time they suggested we be there as the website listed it was open from 9am-12pm. The woman I spoke to said I should be there at 9am as it gets really crowded and boy was she right!

We got there just before 9am, the parking lot was filling up and about 4 people had already started on their birdhouse. We made our way to check in and we were greeted by a very friendly Home Depot employee. He informed us that unfortunately, they didn’t receive any mini aprons for the kids this month. I completely forgot that we were supposed to even receive one! Instead he handed B a plastic “hard hat” and his kit to make the birdhouse.

The kit came with everything you need to make the birdhouse, including; step-by-step directions, a birdhouse pin, and 2 suction cups that are used to help hang your birdhouse. I was really impressed with the directions and how thorough they were. Being a boy mom (or at least a mom to MY boy) I really have learned that my son loves to build and makes things. Luckily, so do I! And thankfully, I took stagecraft in high school so I know a thing or too about tools (hello, “righty-tighty & lefty-loosey”)! But, sometimes directions go over my head and I get frustrated. This time though – piece of cake!

It was really cute watching all of the kids work hard building their birdhouses. The website states this workshop is for ages 5-12, but they don’t check and I definitely saw kids younger than 5 there. Heck, my son isn’t 5 until June and he was there! Some parents let their kids lead the way and others did most of the building. There definitely were parts B needed some assistance, as hammering can get kind of crazy.

After the birdhouse was built we went over to the painting table. They offered 3 different paints, sponge brushes and paper plates. With no direction from me, the painting began. It’s always so special watching my son make something from his vision.

Once finished, I put B’s pin on his shirt and started to look around. The place had really filled up! Most of the kids had their aprons on from previous workshop, with pins all over them. It got me really excited to continue this monthly workshop. I really love the idea of bringing the community together to do something special. The whole project took about 45 minutes from start to finish. By the time we finished, there was a line down the parking lot and I think every spot was taken! It really was a lot of fun and I am looking forward to doing it again.

If you know me, then you know I am all about the activities. I don’t like TV or idle hands, so I try to squeeze in as many activities as possible. The fact that this was free was even better! We will definitely be back next month to make a windmill. To learn more about the Home Depot kids workshop in your area click here!

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