Stay Safe this 4th of July

As I’ve said before celebrating the 4th of July holds a lot of memories for me. BBQ’s, family time, friends and fireworks. Now, a plea from me to anyone reading this post. Please, please, please, do not turn someone’s memory of 4th of July into the day they last their loved one. You are in control of that: you can designate a driver, take the keys from everyone at the beginning of the party & drink responsibly. I am not saying don’t drink, I’m saying don’t drink and drive. 

FACT: In 2012, almost HALF of all crashes with fatalities during July 4th weekend involved a drunk driver, making it one of the deadliest holidays of the year. In addition to the dangers posed by drunk driving on roadways, the United States Coast Guard reports that alcohol was the leading factor in boating fatalities last year, contributing to 16 percent of boating deaths.

As part of the nationwide “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” crackdown around the Fourth of July, law enforcement agencies across the country will be intensifying their efforts to deter and detect drunk driving. Research shows that high-visibility enforcement can reduce drunk driving fatalities by as much as 20 percent. That’s why MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® includes support for high-visibility law enforcement efforts.

So this 4th of July, make the choice to be a designated driver or designate a no-drinking driver.

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– See more at: http://www.madd.org/blog/2014/july/celebrate-the-4th.html#sthash.F1BXhw1N.dpuf

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A Simple Red, White and Blue Menu for the 4th of July

For the Forth of July take it easy, enjoy the parades and fireworks with this simple menu

To quinch your thrist a Strawberry Tea from GoodHouseKeeping.com

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This idea from thechirpingmoms.com of simply adding Blue Corn Chips turns regular chips & salsa into a patriotic snack

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Start your meal off right with cleaneatingmag.com‘s Mega Berry Antioxidant Salad

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Add in some Eggplant, Tomato & Mozzarella Stacks from eatsimpleloveyoga.com

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Then bite into these Turkey Kielbasa Sausage Kabobs from enjoylifeitsdelicious.com

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Finish it up with an easy dessert from athriftymom.com  of Ice Cream Sandwiches with sprinkles

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Now relax and enjoy the Fireworks

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Drinks to Drink when your Not Drinking?

MADD Virgin Drinks and Walgreens think you might like some options. MADD Virgin Drinks are conceived and developed by Hill Street Marketing Inc. and offer a sophisticated and delicious alternatives for designated drivers and those who prefer not to drink.

MADD Virgin Drinks are sold exclusively at nearly 3,000 participating Walgreens stores across the United States. Walgreens and MADD Virgin Drinks will contribute 5% of retail sales in the U.S. and 10% of net sales in Canada to MADD and MADD Canada. These contributions will support MADD’s ongoing efforts to eliminate drunk driving and to continue offering support to the victims of this completely preventable crime.

MADD Virgin Drinks has a complete range of ready-to-serve Alcohol Free drinks.

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Although these drink alternatives contain no alcohol, MADD Virgin Drinks will only be sold to adults 21 and older, as to not send a mixed message to those under 21.

Be a loving and caring Host for the 4th of the July, MADD encourage’s party hosts to always offer alcohol-free beverages for non-drinking designated drivers and others who prefer not to drink alcohol.

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MADD and Uber team up for the Fourth of July

This post is from MADD.org.blog

MADD and Uber are launching a national partnership for the Fourth of July holiday, one of the deadliest drunk driving holidays.

This Fourth of July, MADD will receive $1 for each rider in any of Uber’s 70 U.S. cities who uses the UberMADD promo code, and MADD will also receive $10 for each new Uber user who signs up and uses the UberMADD promo code on the Fourth of July.

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MADD supports Uber, and other types of car services, as an alternative transportation option for adults who plan to drink alcohol.

Thank you Uber for helping to prevent needless deaths and injuries because of drunk driving.

Help us spread the word on social media about Uber’s support of MADD using #UberMADD!

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See more at MADD.org

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Bandana’s and the 4th of July

Decorating with the iconic red and blue bandana’s for the 4th of July gives an instant all American feel. Bandana’s also hold a special place in my heart as they remind me of my son.

Greeting guests with this easy to make bandana wreath from hatterandhareevents.blogspot.com will set the tone

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 A festive bandana bunting from agirlandagluegun.com

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A simple display of bandana napkin’s from Martha Stewart

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 This bandana covered candle holder from countryliving.com completes the bandana theme on the table

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Although this has nothing to do with a bandana, I love this mason jar with a modge podged flag and string from thriftyvintagekitchen.blogspot.com

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or you can try this tabelscape with a bandana table runner and utensil holder from All You

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A bandana lined basket from sweetsindeed.com/blog hugs freshly baked goods

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This retro look from www.totalbeauty.com, tugs at my heart strings

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A simply braided bandana bracelet from agirlandagluegun.com is something my daughter would love

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A visit to the Dollar Tree is all I need to get busy creating with these simple last minute decorations.

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4th of July Tips for Pets

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I no longer have dogs or cats. We now have a fish. So, I don’t think I need to prepare him for the 4th of July celebrations.  But when I did have dogs and cats, I always felt so bad for them. They have no idea all the noise, flashes of light, and burning smell of pyrotechnics are our way of celebrating.

Pets are terrified, did you know that the 5th of July is the busiest day of the year for animal shelters?

Here are some tips from akc.org, the American Kennel Club, a not-for-profit organization, offers tips on how to keep your pets safe and calm during this Independence Day.

  • It is safer to keep your pets at home during Fourth of July celebrations instead of bringing him to your neighbor’s party. Keep your pets in the house, rather than in your yard. He will be a lot happier indoors, and not tempted to leap over a fence to find you. 

  • Dogs can be startled by the loud noise of fireworks. Once the festivities begin, keep your pet in a safe room where he can feel comfortable. If he is crate trained put him in his crate covered with a blanket to make him feel secure. 

  • Block outside sights and sounds by lowering the blinds and turning on the television. Play soothing music in the background to counteract the cacophony during the “rockets’ red glare. 

  • If your pet seems overly anxious, spend some time with your pet, speaking soothingly to help them to relax. 

  • Avoid scraps from the grill. While tempting to our pets, any sudden change to your pets’ diet can cause stomach upset. In addition, some certain foods like onions, avocado, grapes and raisins can be toxic . 

  • Human products can be dangerous to animals . Avoid spraying your pet with insect repellent and only use special sunscreen that is intended for animal use. Keep your pets away from matches and lighter fluid. They can be extremely irritating to the stomach, lungs and central nervous system, if ingested. 

  • Should your dog get scared, escape and run away, help find him with microchip identification. Collars and tags can fall off so make sure you have permanent ID with a microchip. Keep contact information current with your recovery service provider. For more information and to enroll your pet in a 24 hour recovery service visit www.akcreunite.org.

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Planning your 4th of July Celebration!

Growing up the 4th of July was always a big celebration for our family. It was my Dad’s birthday and the park nearby had a wonderful firework show that we were able to enjoy from our front yard.

My sister’s and I were able to continue that tradition for years with our kids. I’m now looking for new ways to celebrate with my husband and our younger daughters. I have some great memories of celebrating the 4th of July and I hope that I give them the same. With that in mind, I’m looking for ways to step up our 4th of July celebration and thought I’d share my ideas with you.

This week I’ll be posting some yummy recipes, tips,  and things to remember while celebrating the 4th of July.

First off we need Fireworks. Here are some links for Fireworks shows in Los Angeles County, the Inland Empire from Pomona to Temecula and San Diego County.

Here is great list of 4th of July Celebrations in Orange County from kidsguidemagazine.com

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This weekend while visiting family in San Diego, we got a 4th of July warm up. We went to Mission Bay and viewed the firework show from Sea World. It was such a wonderful evening out. I hope some of the events on these lists will help you plan your 4th of July too.

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Fullerton Arbortetum

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Last Saturday we visited the Fullerton Arboretum, this very tranquil place is located  just off the 57 frwy in Fullerton on the Cal State University Fullerton campus.

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 As we walked  along the dirt path we were greeted by glorious sunflowers and a waterfall. The waterfall leads to a stream that flows throughout one side of the arboretum and into two ponds. The ponds are hosts to ducks, fish, turtles and cranes. The stream instantly inspired my daughter to draw and write in her journal.

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There is a small nature center for the kids (with binoculars for the kids to use during their visit), a fruit orchard, a children’s garden, a community garden, walking trails (one with redwood trees) and a plant store called the “Potting Shed” that sells plants which reflect the Arboretum’s Garden Collections: Cultivated, Desert, Mediterranean, and Woodland.

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They have guided tours of the Heritage House. This Eastlake style home was the home of Dr. Clark, one of the most highly regarded individuals in early Fullerton. The home was relocated to the Arboretum in 1972. The interior is fully restored and refurbished with furniture and medical equipment of that era. A suggested donation of $3.00 is encouraged be not required.

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The Farm Stand is open every Sunday and sells vegetable grown at the arboretum. They offer educational opportunities for adults such as Yoga in the Garden, Composting and an Eating in the Yard Series. They also hold an ongoing children’s series called Bug-Safaris, There are plenty of walking trails and benches to sit and enjoy the views and a quick snack.

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Bring your water and be advised that picnicking is not allowed inside the Arboretum, there are however picnic tables just before the entrance. Parking is free on a dirt lot. A  donation of $5.00 to visit the arboretum is suggested but not required. For a complete list of events check their calendar. In addition to the Family Fun to be had here, places like this are a great addition to your Summer Educational Series. Here’s a list of botanical gardens and arboretums in the United States.

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Girl Scout Brownie meeting – end of year celebration

Last night was our end of year celebration for my Brownie troop. The majority of the of my Brownies voted on having a “candy” party at the park. They wanted to eat candy,  play games, to have no parents or siblings in attendance, have music to eat pizza and have more candy.

I went to target and bought brightly colored plates, napkins, tablecloths and cutlery that all went in line with their “candy” theme. I bought popcorn, cookies and of course, candy. My head was spinning walking through the candy aisle. I had text my co-leader to refocus. I kept walking through the aisle, I couldn’t  think anymore. Not only is this stuff unhealthy, it’s expensive.
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Thanks to her, I was able to refocus and complete the shopping. I ordered 2 pizzas from Costco and (for my sanity) bought a veggie and fruit tray, which almost all the girls ate.

Here’s my agenda for the party:

Pre-meeting: 15 minutes/6:15-6:30

Playtime at the playground

Opening: 5 minutes/6:30-6:35

Flag, Promise and Law

Snack/Dinner: 30 minutes/6:35-7:05

Pizza time/Candy time

Games/crafts: 25 minutes/7:05-7:30

Make Felt Pipe Cleaner bubble wands and have some bubble time

Balloon Games

Frisbee Golf

Family/Closing Time: 15 minutes/7:30-7:45

Pass out Badge Bags

Special Thank You’s to parents who went above and beyond

Here’s how the party actually went:

Bubble time (without the pipe cleaner bubble wand craft) playtime at the park, eat, playtime at the park, get badge bags, special thank you’s and it was over.

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So much for all the planning. It was their party, they re-planned it and had fun. One girl said “this is the best party ever”. This party was definitely girl led!

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TedX Teen Challenge

TedX OrangeCoast’s mission is “To help turn inspiring ideas into actions”. TedXOrangeCoast  is  holding a contest to celebrate the work of teens while focusing on STEAM projects, the contest is open to all teens ages 13-19 years old.

Teens are challenged to come up with an “Idea Worth Doing”. They should submit their idea along with a their plan of action by August 31, 2014. Winners of the TedX Teen Challenge will receive exposure for their project, cash prizes and mentorship for a year. Winners be announced at the 4th annual TEDxOrangeCoast event to be held September 19-20, 2014 at Soka Performing Arts Center in Aliso Viejo, CA.

The Keys of interest for the projects should include one or more of the following: 

  • Innovative: Existing or new project with a novel approach of addressing existing problems

  • Collaborative: Talent and passion win games, teamwork win championships

  • Social Impact: Positive and  measurable impact affecting our community and beyond

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To learn more visit TedXTeenChallenge

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“Ella” chemotherapy Barbies

Talk about Taking Action –  Melissa Bumstead did just that when she petitioned Mattel to produce more of the “Ella” Chemo Barbies.

Melissa’s four year old daughter Grace has has a rare form of leukemia and will receive chemotherapy treatments over the next year and half. Children’s Hospital Los Angeles had only six of the barbies to give out and Grace received one of them. Melissa took action by creating a petition to ask Mattel to make enough “Ella” Barbies for all kids with cancer.

Within 3 months she collected 100,000 signatures! Because of Melissa’s action, Mattel has agreed to make more and distribute the “Ella” Barbie to hospitals through out the country beginning in August.

This is her post from her change.org petition site in May 2014:

Victory – Melissa Grace’s Mom: Mattel called…they will annually make more Ella Barbies! That means that every year hospitals and foundations will receive a fresh supply of dolls, so there will be more Ellas for kids with cancer like Grace!

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Melissa, children around the country will have you to thank for your selfless efforts. Thank you and God bless you for taking action and helping other children!

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Inspire your Girls to be “Pretty Brilliant”

A new ad from Verizon sends the exact message I try give my girls daily, this ad sends the message to tell our girls they are “pretty brilliant” too.

Verizon has a campaign called “Inspire her Mind”. This campaign focuses on inspiring parents and girls to stay engaged with all things STEM. Research shows there is a significant drop-off in women interested in these fields between childhood and adulthood, from 72% to 55%. Women make up half the workforce in the US. Yet, as far as STEM jobs go, we only hold 25% of the jobs.

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Our words have a huge impact on our girls. Inspire their future by telling them how smart they are and how imaginative they are. Encourage them to get dirty, to look for bugs, go camping, let her find out how things work and let her build things. Through play time and family time we can spark our girls imagination in subjects like science, technology, engineering, astronomy and physics.

Verizon website dedicated to this campaign includes various videos and facts with in-depth insight, facts and figures from research studies. It also features women who are established in stem jobs.

We need to work together to be make a significant change in the lives of our girls.

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Lessons learned at the park

A formal educational setting is not needed to provide lessons to you children. Teachable moments can arise in an instant. As a perfect example of this: the other day, we were at the park and I was stressing to my daughter that she did not need to push back and forth while on the spinning apparatus thing (for lack of better word) because it works by centrifugal force.

wpid-20140619_115439.jpgSo I just finished saying to her “Just slightly move your body back and forth, no harsh movements, you’ll get hurt if you do”.

I turn around for a second and it happens; a yell, a cry and her lip is bleeding. So needless to say our time at the park was cut short. Although she got hurt,  it was a lesson none the less.

There is a lot to learned at the park, here are a few:

Literacy: A simple literacy activity that you can do with your child while visiting the park is to simply read the signs. Read the directions and information that you will find around the playground. When you get home have your child write about their experiences at the park that day. If they are still little have them draw it, you can ask them to describe the picture to you and you can write it on the drawing afterwards.

Physical educational: Let them run, climb, jump and slide. Not only will they burn of some steam but they actually be exercising. Most playgrounds have different play areas with designated age levels so they can exert their own physical skills. Take a ball with you to the park and practice kicking an throwing the ball while you are there.

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Science and nature: My daughters favorite thing. Go on a nature walk, discuss the nature surrounding them. The trees, flowers, water features, grass and bugs. How do the plants grow, why does mold grow on this side of the tree, what type of flower/tree is this, what type of insects live here and what do they eat and what are the different parts of plants? Collect some leaves and do leaf rubbings when you get home.

Social/Etiquette skills: Lets face it some people just don’t pick up after themselves. You can teach them pick up at least five pieces of trash. (serve your community)  If everyone did that, our parks would sparkle. Parks are also very sociable places. It is an ideal opportunity for your child  (and yourself) to socialize with other children (moms) and learn a variety of social skills such as talking, listening and sharing.

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History: Many parks have some great history behind them. Find information on plaques/memorial statues.

Art: A brilliant way for children to express themselves is through art. Have them draw their experiences. Make a collage out of the leaves they have collected. One of our favorite activities is to gather and collect “nature” then they make create nature creatures. Use grass as rope to tie twigs together.

A simply trip to the park can provide so many lessons.

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Whole Kids Cooking Club at Whole Foods

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We attended the Whole Foods, Whole Kids Cooking club on Friday, “Cooking a Rainbow” was the theme. The goal of the cooking class was to support healthy eating habits by eating from a rainbow. This class was a hands healthy eating course for kids.

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The host had an array of beautiful juliette sliced veggies such as sweet potato, squash, zucchini, finely chopped rainbow broccoli, edamame and a black bean pasta. The younger kids, 3-4, had a great time piling veggies on their plate and the 6+ age group arranged their veggies into beautiful rainbows. All of them were so proud of their creation. They topped their colorful plates with a warm marinara sauce.

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For dessert they were given slices of bananas, they scooped out the middle of the banana filled it with peanut butter and dipped the bottom in chocolate. Both of my girls loved it.

Since the all the kids made such a big plate of veggies, my girls couldn’t even finish even a quarter of what was on the their plate. My husband and I were able to fest on the leftovers later on. Overall, this was a refining moment for all of us, the girls loved the veggies and I found a Black Bean pasta that I can’t wait to incorporate into a dish.

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Our local Whole Foods has kids cooking classes twice a month for the cost of $5.00. They provided an abundance of ingredients (all of which were organic), my girls were able to try (and liked) the black bean pasta and my girls understood the concept of eating from a rainbow. Since the discussion was ripe for the taking, we walked around Whole Foods afterwards and discussed the importance healthy eating habits. I look forward to the next class.

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