Family & Lifestyle

Disney Magic for Your Bedtime Routine!

Have a little Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy or Goofy loving kiddo who doesn’t want to go to bed? You can get a special goodnight message from one of them each night this month (August 6-31)…and its FREE from Disney!

Just call 877-7-MICKEY (that’s 877-764-2539) * for a special bedtime message from one of your favorite Disney characters!  Add a little Disney Magic tonight!

In our house, we’re not allowed to call until showers are done, pajamas are on and teeth are brushed…it helps move all that along maybe it will help you too 🙂

Let me know if you call I want to know what you think! Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

TIP: Parent should call and listen to opening message initially THEN place call onto speaker phone for child to hear character message.

*one message per call.  if using a mobile phone your standard rates may apply.

Planning a Disney Vacation or #1 Disney Fan? Follow my All Things Disney Pinterest Board with more than 1,000 Disney Pins from more than 40 Disney Bloggers contributing daily!

For tips on visiting Disneyland with babies or toddlers, see this recent post!  And if you’ll be there during summertime, remember to keep cool with these tips!

XOXO, Marie


This month from Disney!! Add a little special Disney Magic to your bedtime routine FREE with a special bedtime message from one of your favorite Disney Characters! #disney #wdw #disneylove #disneylife #mickey #walt #mickeymouse #mickeymouseclubhouse #disneyworld #disneyland #free #freestuff #coupons #getmorehappy #disneymom #minnie #minniemouse #goofy #free #pinoftheday #freebie #freebies #magickingdom

Family & Lifestyle


I would do almost anything (and pay almost anything) to not own rodents- this my friends is reason numero uno why we go to Zoomars. My kiddos can get their guinea pig snuggles in and fill their cup and I don’t have to have the things in my house, clean up after them or remember to feed them (cause you know I’m not a total jerk right?!!?). Half jokes aside, living in an urban city, our kids don’t see animals a lot and feeding and riding and petting farm animals is important for kids so little urban petting zoos like Zoomars are little gems and we love this place!

So let’s break it down, your kids can snuggle and feed an endless pit of guinea pigs, feed a goat, sheep and a pig (and some other assorted animals), pad on a pony ride, pan for some “gold” (aka precious stones) and have a roll around in a big box of corn nuts…oh and ride the smallest and shortest train ride EVER (that they won’t seem to notice LOL)…all the while your like “how much did I pay for this?” Oh right but we’re done with the guinea pigs and I don’t have to own one of these darn rodents! So lets call it PRICELESS = #momwin

The upside: most of the place is all shaded. If your kids participate in all the activities it can occupy a nice little morning. They have a good hand washing station with antibacterial soap for when your done. There is a hay bale maze, corn pit and large jungle gym which are free and good for getting remaining energy out at the end.

The downside: The admission fee allows kiddos to pet the piggies but many activities cost additional fees, including the train, pony rides, panning for precious stones and the food bins to feed the piggies.  Besides the bench around the guinea pigs there is not a seat in the house so don’t go after a late night out. The bathrooms are port-a-potties (just starve yourself of water you don’t wanna go in there!).

Overall. There are a lot of things we do for our kids. Zoomars is one of those things. They will like it and have fun. It’s also a great spot for birthday parties- from cowboy/cowgirl to farm to cactus the venue lends itself to many fun themes. Go nuts on Pinterest.

Tip: check groupon or living social before you go sometimes there are better deals there than at the door.

Tip: for train loving kiddos you can walk to Zoomars from the Train station- we used to get on at the nearest station to our house and ride the train there and back just for fun, the kids loved it! There are also restaurants right along the train tracks and some have a clear view of the tracks- the passing by train every few minutes is great entertainment!

Tip: They don’t sell food (pack snacks and bottled waters).

Have you been? If you go let me know what you thought!!

If this is down your alley, check out Travel Town Museum.

Family & Lifestyle

Travel Town Museum


Nestled on the edge of Griffith Park, Travel Town Train Museum for kids is a FREE little train park, what a gem! Small, but loaded with real trains, trains, trains galore…there’s plenty to climb aboard, pretend to drive, ride along and see. We’re talking a real, train yard of retired trains scattered around the on tracks (stabilized of course!), some in a shed…many of the engines at Travel Town are open with permanent stairway access built into them- and while some safety precautions have been taken, they are in large part still in original condition.

Travel Town Train Museum Los Angeles

There is a small mini ride-on train that circles the perimeter of Travel Town, and drives by all the trains…including a real old retired version of a “Cranky” crane train! It costs $2.75 per person.

A real retired train in Travel Town at Griffith Park


There were multiple birthday party pavilions in Travel Town including what appeared to be birthday party cars (but don’t hold me to that!).  It was really cute and tops the list of free things to do with kids in Los Angeles! And PS its really affordable as far as venues go!!

A real retired train in Travel Town at Griffith Park

We spent a good three hours at Travel Town – though 30 minutes of it was admittedly using a train table inside the exhibit hall. Comically we had a rather nice Thomas the Train table at our home for two years and the boys used it cumulatively for about 30 minutes 🤣🤣 but whatevs. Thomas the Train engines can be borrowed from inside the gift shop (they take a drivers license and return upon the return of the engine).


If you have train loving kiddos, have you been on the North Pole Express?

From the Travel Town Website:

Museum Hours of Operation:

Travel Town is open daily (except Christmas Day)

Monday through Friday – 10:00 am to 4:00 pm PDT
Saturday & Sunday – 10:00 am to 5:00 pm PDT

For general information, please telephone the Operations Office at 323-662-5874

There is NO admission fee!


In the late 1940s, Charley Atkins, a Recreation and Parks employee, along with a handful of rail enthusiast friends, had the idea that a steam locomotive would make an attractive addition at the Griffith Park miniature railroad ride. The original intention of the Museum was to be a “railroad petting zoo,” an opportunity for the children of Los Angeles to “imagineer” themselves as engineers. The City of Los Angeles Harbor Department had two little engines destined for scrap that seemed to fit the bill. The idea escalated as Atkins, with the enthusiastic support of former Recreation and Parks Department General Manager George Hjelte and Superintendent of Recreation William Frederickson, initiated contacts with major railroads in California to determine what equipment they might be willing to donate. At that time, the steam locomotive era was drawing to a close, and Atkins found a good response. Travel Town was dedicated on December 14, 1952. The concept of a combined transportation museum and recreation center blossomed, and wishes for donations were generously fulfilled. In 1965, Travel Town’s exhibits were re-grouped, and the park re-dedicated. Today, Travel Town is in a state of new growth and development. Charley Atkins passed away in 1959, but he left Los Angeles a grand legacy at Travel Town.


The mission of the Foundation is to educate the public about railroad history as it pertains to the development of the Southwest Region of the United States, particularly the Los Angeles area. We fulfill this mission by supporting the restoration, operation, and interpretation of the historic railroad equipment at the City-operated Travel Town Museum in Griffith Park.

The Foundation supports Travel Town by helping the Department of Recreation & Parks to fund and administer the Museum’s volunteer programs, restoration projects and educational outreach efforts. Many of the Museum’s programs and activities are funded through grants and donations along with proceeds from our Museum Gift Shop.

We hope you will come for a visit and experience all the Park has to offer you and your family. Become a member, volunteer, shop in the Gift Shop, take a Docent Tour, ride the train and, most of all, keep the rails alive! See you soon!


Family & Lifestyle

Keep COOL at Disney Parks!


Summer is HOT, stay COOL!

contains affiliate links

We went to Disneyland the other day with a Mom friend of mine and she brought along a stainless steel water bottle (which she put ice in) and it had a misting feature on it – ice cold mist in the 88 degree HOT weather was AMAZING! #DisneyMom #GeniusMom LOL! I immediately went home and looked it up…and guess what, they have Disney licensed bottles that are adorable! Mickey, Minnie, Marvel, oh my!

We also forgot a pair of our kids’ sunglasses and picked up a pair for a mere $26 (among other things)…I’m not saying you can possibly avoid all expenditures inside the park, plus hey some are fun…but I have lots of good ideas of things to get BEFORE you go so I’m including those too…because SCHOOLS…OUT…FOR…SUMMER! And frankly, if your going to Disney World any time of the year…its pretty darn hot for about 3/4 of the year and no matter where you live its hot in the Summer most of the US and so if you love all things Disney…give one of these a try for your overheated kiddos!

The bottles below have a double wall stainless construction (meaning the outside doesn’t get too cold to the touch) – there are also single wall so watch for that if you navigate off the ones I’m linking 🙂 (they also come in adult sizes, but no Disney themes for adults).

Minnie Mouse!
Lightning McQueen!
Mickey Mouse!

The other item I highly suggest for the kiddos are hats, or visors.  They sell all of this sort of stuff inside the park too of course…the main issue for me is that the selections tend to be spread about and not all lined up inside one store so its hard to pick (I am afflicted by a condition I call paralyzed by indecision LOL!) quickly and efficiently because you have to wander store to store to see all the options and then wander back to find the one you liked again…it can be time consuming when there are way more fun things to do…so here are some cute basics.  Going THIS Disney may seem overkill (I get it) but once your inside its like Disney Bliss…a lot of kids want this stuff once they are inside and see it all over the place!

Mickey Mouse Visor for kids

Minnie Mouse Visor for kids
 Mikey Mouse hat for adults
Mickey Mouse hat for adults

I’d also recommend sunglasses before going into the park, if your kids are like mine they get lost, scratched and broken on the reg and inexpensive is the way to go – here are some great options:

Red Bow Sunglasses
Mickey Mouse Sunglasses
 Minnie Mouse Sunglasses
Mickey Mouse Sunglasses
Mickey Mouse Sunglasses
Disney Cars Sunglasses

Remember some water shoes and a change of clothes for the little ones for the splash pad!

Tip: When planning for Fast Passes, choose your air conditioned rides or water rides for the afternoon timeslots.

What else do you all like to bring into the parks with you to keep cool? What other ideas do you have? Would love to hear your ideas and suggestions and keep growing this list!

Stay cool friends and remember to drink plenty of water!



PS: If this is your first trip to Disneyland, read this before you go!

Family & Lifestyle

Museum of Flying

We spent the morning in Santa Monica yesterday visiting the Museum of Flying and the Flight Observation Deck at the Santa Monica Airport.  The boys had a great time seeing all the airplanes, sitting in the cockpits of two different airplanes (including the FedEx cockpit of the plane protruding from the building in the main image of this post!), trying out different seats, seeing all the airplanes and the Airport Crash Tender. After the museum we visited the flight observation deck and even found small park on the way out…this is a great morning activity in Santa Monica!  If you are on a budget you can skip the museum and just visit the Flight Observation deck and picnic n’ play in the park!

The Museum has two stories of retired airplanes to peruse.  The retired planes were predominantly vintage military airplanes from WWII.  There are short shows set up to watch all over from airplane seats, and there is a movie theater upstairs.  We didn’t see a movie in it, but its available at no extra cost.

The kids especially loved the Crash Tender:

Santa Monica Airport Museum of Flying Airport Crash Tender Firetruck image

Inside the cockpit of the FedEx Plane was their other favorite activity inside the museum (there are two real cockpits to explore)- a real cockpit with all the buttons and switches and a view of the runway:

There was a flight simulator which I am SHOCKED didn’t interest my kids…but kids just a few years older would probably LOVE THIS!!

Santa Monica Airport Museum of Flying

I am an airhead and didn’t check groupon before we went…HERE is a deal on Groupon.

At the front desk you can pick up an instruction sheet to get to the flight observation deck.  I snapped pics of where to turn in, and the elevator you are looking for.  The Flight Observation Deck is FREE…its not a part of the museum and anyone can go at no cost.  There was only one older gentleman there when we went, we essentially had it all to ourselves.

You turn in at 3321-3239 Airport, and will take the glass block elevator to the 3rd Floor.

The observation deck is no frills (as to be expected for free right?)…you might want to bring a picnic blanket if you want to sit down…or if your kiddos are real plane watchers you might grab a beach chair for yourself.

Directly across the street we spotted this cute little park with TONS OF SHADE, picnic tables and a play structure.  We didn’t play this time (it was lunch time and I hadn’t packed a lunch)…but we will definitely be returning this park to check it out. There is also Spitfire Grill across the street…I considered trying it but solo with two little boys is hardly worth eating lunch out LOL.


Note: I spotted a board room on the second floor of the museum- there appear to be two small meeting rooms and a larger reception room (not large…but larger than a boardroom)…it would be a cute venue for an off the beaten path business meeting, stockholder meeting, etc.

Have you been? Let me know your thoughts below!! Mama loves comments 😉

From The Museum of Flying:

The Museum is currently operating on it’s Summer hours. We are open Wednesday – Sunday 10 AM to 5 PM (last entry at 4:30 PM)

Originally established in 1974 as the Douglas Museum and Library, the Museum first opened in 1979 at 2800 Airport Avenue. The Museum was founded by Donald Douglas Jr, the second President of the Douglas Aircraft Company. The collection consisted primarily of artifacts and the ephemera of Donald Wills Douglas Sr., the Founder and President of the Douglas Aircraft Company, however the collection did not include any aircraft.

In the late 1980’s a discussion began between Donald Douglas Jr. and a local entrepreneur, David G. Price. It was agreed that a new building would be constructed on the north side of the Santa Monica Airport as the future location of the renamed Museum of Flying. The new Museum opened in 1989 with the original collection and the compliment of many vintage aircraft with an emphasis on World War II fighter aircraft.

Over the years the Museum was host to a number of special events that included annual gala events honoring the aviation and aerospace leaders, famous test pilots, and the original Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo astronauts.  Other memorable events held at the Museum included a tribute to the Tuskegee Airman, a Mustang Wing’s and Wheels event, and a 60th anniversary celebration of the Battle of Britain.

In late 2002, the Museum was temporarily closed due to economic hardship.  A search began for a suitable new location in a smaller building.  Several potential locations and scenarios were entertained by the Museum’s Board of Directors over the next few years.  Eventually in 2008, a new location was established on the south side of the Santa Monica Airport just a half a block away from the original location.  In addition to the new Museum project moving forward, a plan was finalized for the long discussed concept of building a monument to the iconic Douglas DC-3 aircraft.  Construction on the DC-3 Monument began in late 2008 and was completed and dedicated on the same day that the Museum signed a lease with the City of Santa Monica on March 21, 2009.

Construction began on the new Museum in early 2010 and the Museum celebrated its grand opening to the public in the new building on February 25, 2012.  The Museum collection consists of the many original artifacts related to the Douglas Aircraft Company, a variety of exhibits, aviation art, and features an array of aircraft from a Wright Flyer replica to aircraft of the jet age.


Family & Lifestyle

California Science Center

I am left wondering how it’s possible we have never been to this amazing place! We had a fantastic day at the California Science Center! The King Tut exhibit was in town and Gman is fascinated with pyramids so we saw the IMAX King Tut movie and bought exhibit tickets- admission to these included the Space Shuttle Endeavor.

Both boys loved the IMAX movie! I didn’t realize it wasn’t 3-D so I will definitely take them back for a 3-D IMAX soon!

Space shuttle Endeavor was a must see. Our boys were engaged for a good 30 minutes in the exhibit room and I forgot to buy them NASA tees but I will next time!

The King Tut exhibit was also fantastic! It was a more traditional exhibit and our kids were a little young for it given its expense (about $30 per ticket) but the grandparents and myself really enjoyed seeing it. It was also the last event in the sequence of the three ticketed events and as it turns out all three plus the museum were a little too much for the boys so I recommend just choosing one ticketed exhibit or IMAX and spending some time on all the free children’s activities (there are TONS).

We were only able to walk the first half of the exhibit before the kids expired but it was really neat for adults or older children!

It wasn’t a problem getting weekday tickets day of – but I recommend buying all tickets in advance for weekends.

We also ate lunch at the food court which was reasonably priced for a museum food court! They have a market with packaged foods/chips, a grill with burgers/fries/chicken fingers and another cafe option for salads, sandwiches, etc.

They also sell food in the IMAX theater – hot dogs, soft pretzels, candy, drinks, etc. Parking was easy (but it was a weekday) and was $12.

From the California Science Center:


We aspire to stimulate curiosity and inspire science learning in everyone by creating fun, memorable experiences, because we value science as an indispensable tool for understanding our world, accessibility and inclusiveness, and enriching people’s lives.

The California Science Center provides an innovative model for science learning by combining exhibits with an on-site Science Center School and Amgen Center for Science Learning as well as a teacher professional development program.

The Science Center is open to the public seven days a week, 362 days per year, with free general admission to its permanent exhibit galleries. The facility, which opened in February 1998, spans more than 400,000 sq. feet and includes four major exhibit areas.

Looking for more great science museums for kids? Check out the Discovery Cube OC and the MOXI in Santa Barbara!

Family & Lifestyle, Travel & Events

Summer Fun & Camp Fair 2018

Since we recently moved back to Los Angeles, I needed to find some summer camps for the boys- so I checked out the Summer Fun & Camp Fair at Crossroads School in Santa Monica. Gman, who is five years old, tagged along in the hunt for science/tinkering/art/cooking camps.

When we arrived there were super sized inflatables from Magic Jump all over an enormous green space- games, booths and food trucks- plus an indoor gymnasium full of booths from – hmm I’m not sure must have been at least 50 camps…A LOT!

We talked to camp directors, asked questions, picked up brochures/discount codes and treats and little toys- we even rode scooters and sampled food…Gman had a lot of fun! I know it’s called “Fun Fair” but I really didn’t expect such a big event!

Magic Jump Obstacle Course Los AngelesSummer Camp Fun Fair Santa MonicaSummer Camp Fun Fair

We already had lunch plans but next time we’ll make a whole morning and lunch out of it.

Description from the Summer Fun & Camp Fair website:

Check out all the Fun you and your Family can have at the Fair:

Meet the Camps!

These awesome Summer Camps will be at the Fair to let you know all about what they do and how much fun your kids will have when they attend. You’ll have a chance to meet them and ask all the questions you may have about each of their philosophy, ratio of counselors to campers, locations, and daily schedules. You’ll get everything you need to be able to choose the right Summer camp for your kids. There will even be special discounts and raffles!

Summer Fun for the Whole Family

How well do you know your own back yard? Los Angeles is where millions of people come to visit every year, and you already live here: Lucky you! Wait until you see all the fun things you can do here with your whole family. Your Summer Fun will be non-stop!

Fun & Games

Play the Summer Fun Passport & Scavenger Hunt Game with us and you’ll be eligible for fun prizes! We’re giving away a bunch of fun gear for the Summer and you’ll be entered to win one of the prizes just by playing our Passport & Scavenger Hunt Game. Simply take the time to stop by each of the booths at the Fair for a special stamp – plus try to find all the hidden elements of the Scavenger Hunt. Every stamp you get equals a raffle ticket!

Food & Snacks

Some of the best food trucks in Los Angeles will be on site at the Fair to make sure you’ve got delicious choices for snacks and lunch.

15 Things to Know Before you GO!
Family & Lifestyle, Travel & Events

15 Things To Know Before Visiting Disneyland for the First Time!

Taking your kids to Disneyland is a little like Christmas and Santa…while Disneyland brings fond childhood memories, I think it might be even more fun to watch your own children experience it! The thrill of the rides, meeting the array of fantastic characters, crossing through the iconic castle, watching a marching band or [fill in the blank, its all pretty awesome!].

If you are planning your first visit, here are the 15 things you NEED to know.  Below them are some additional tips which may be helpful.

  1. Download the Disney App here.
  2. Purchase your tickets in advance via the app. Disneyland is split into Disneyland and California Adventure and you can choose either park or a “Park Hopper” ticket that gives you entrance to both.
  3. Plan to arrive at the parking at least 30 minutes before the park opens. Skip the upgraded parking option, just get the basic parking its hardly a difference.
  4. Bring a single fold stroller.  No matter where you park, you will need to fold and transport your stroller on a tram or bus…having to remove seats is unnecessary aggrivation!
  5. Bring 2 bottles of water per person.  This is in part because often you will want to grab a bottle to drink in line and will have to toss what’s left at the front of the line so having extra is good. They do sell it inside of course if you forget.
  6. Pack some easy and/or healthy snacks. Many of the snacks easily available around the park have a lot of sugar.
  7. Bring your own sunscreen, and remember to re-apply.
  8. Check the availability of fast passes on the app or at the kiosks when you arrive (fast passes are free, and are only available on select rides, it’s worth a try…you can learn more about them here). Send 1 person from your party to grab passes, the rest should head straight to the rides.
  9. Review the park map the day before you go and plan 2-3 rides right near each other,  head straight to the rides upon entering…lines for the rides will never be as short as the first hour the park is open. Get in as many as you can before lines are 60+ minutes.
  10. Make your character dining reservations in advance (there are plenty of places to grab lunch too, of course).
  11. At the end of Main Street you will find the Baby Care Center, where you can find changing tables, chairs for nursing and a shop that sells everything from formula to diapers.
  12. Make sure you get a silhouette made of your kids in the Silhouette Studio on Main Street before you leave. It’s the best bargain in all of Disneyland for a souvenir that won’t hit the trash a month later BOOM! And to boot you get TWO copies so send one to Grandma. BONUS!
  13. Wear layers. Check the weather before you go and if you aren’t a local understand Southern California weather- it’s a coastal desert and it’s heated by the Sun…so it can be 60 degrees when you arrive and 90 degrees at by noon and back to 65 as the sun starts to set.
  14. Bring antibacterial wipes/spray to clean little hands before lunch 🙌🏻
  15. Bring any mouse ears, tutus, crowns and costumes your children may want…they are very expensive inside the park and lots of the kids are wearing this stuff…if you have it at home you do not want to be put in the position of buying duplicitous toys at high prices inside the park.

Other helpful hints:

  • If you philandering on bringing a stroller, you should know that you can also rent a stroller inside.
  • Lockers are available inside if needed.
  • If you are staying on property, you need to know about the Extra Magic Hour Early Admission option!
  • To strategize on quick admission and best shot at Fast Passes…choose to visit the  respective Park on it’s non-Extra Magic Hour day (see above link for that schedule).  Otherwise, you will have all the hotel guests with early admission ahead of you…in line to enter, at the fast pass machines and for rides.
  • When you see a character you would like to meet/photograph with, get in line RIGHT AWAY. There will always be an attendant who is “the end of the line” – go to that person and get in front of them.  If the line is full they will let you know…and know that does happen, like all the time. You can ask that attendant where they are headed next, or other info about future meet and greet times for that character. Steer clear of promising your kiddos to see or meet one particular character if you can 🙂
  • If your kids don’t watch TV or Movies yet and you are thinking maybe Disneyland isn’t relevant for them, I totally disagree.  Gman had never watched anything but Caillou much less seen a Disney movie before we went and he LOVED it.  The characters are fantastic, regardless of whether you know them.  And the rides are a blast.  And the whole atmosphere is like nothing your child has seen before.  I do agree that kids who watch the shows/movies probably get a little more out of it….but there is plenty for screen-free kids too!
  • I have a Pinterest Board called All Things Disney with TONS (and tons, and tons, and tons!) of articles from bloggers all over on everything from secrets of Disneyland (and Disneyworld so watch the titles!), to cheap eat recommendations to free stuff.  Check it out.

15 Things to Know Before You Go!

Things to know about Disneyland before your first visit

Family & Lifestyle

6 Reasons You Need to Have Family Game Night!

6 Great Game Recommendations too!

This post contains affiliate links.

Playing games teaches kids loads of important things! And even more importantly its screen-free family time at home, in its simplest old-fashioned form…

  1. Social Skills — family time is the first social experience our children have, we teach them how to be happy and have fun playing together!
  2. Taking Turns — we take turns when we play games! Waiting is haaaaard, but its good practice!
  3. Following Rules — we teach the concept of rules and practice following rules, because everyone has to follow the same set of rules when we play games!
  4. Recognizing Letters and Numbers and Colors — spinning and drawing cards is fun, it also teaches some great early basics!
  5. Pattern Recognition and Strategy — as we play games over and over we begin to recognize patterns, predict outcomes and develop early strategy skills like choosing alternative moves.
  6. Winning & Losing (& Winning again)— sometimes we can be really behind then win! Sometimes it looks like we may win, but don’t.  In games we all win sometimes, and sometimes we loose! Its the good grace and manners we model that are important on family game night 🙂

6 Reasons You Need to Have Family Game Night!

Here are our family’s favorites:

My First Carcassonne: This is our favorite game! Players lay tiles down to form a giant map – when a path becomes capped at two ends the players get to put their kids down as indicated on the tiles in the path- even really little ones can lay tiles independently and place their kids down where instructed so its great for all ages!

Candyland: This is a classic, it needs no introduction…except I strongly suggest getting the version with the spinner rather than the old fashioned cards (less to pick up, organize and ultimately loose!) If you don’t mind the deck of cards, there is a slightly cheaper version available 🙂

Chutes and Ladders: Also a classic needs no explanations! I prefer the retro edition pictured below, this is the one I grew up with…however there is a new version that is a little cheaper if you don’t care 🙂

Zingo: This is a version of Bingo – it comes in many versions for early learning.  I selected “Sight Words” but there are many variations including Word Builder, 1-2-3, Time Telling and the Original Version.

Pop the Pig: Kids LOVE this game, and this is a good one for little ones with very very low attention spans, because you can just take turns and have fun – its a good entry game for game night. This is a good gift.

Operation: This one is for older kids, but can’t you remember loving this as a child? Its just as fun now as it was back then…it’s my 5 year old’s second favorite game.  I linked the classic version again, cause that’s my deal…no surprises there anymore right? You can save a buck or two with the new one.  Or you can mix it up for your #1 Fan with a Star Wars Version, Minion Version, Doc McStuffins, Dory, Trolls, oh the list goes on…

Does your family have a favorite game?? Please tell me in the comments!!

And don’t forget to subscribe to Beautiful Day Blog below!

6 Reasons You Need to Have Family Game Night!

Family & Lifestyle

A Complex Febrile Seizure Story


My husband and I have been through 3 separate febrile seizures, the first and third were both relatively straightforward presentations of a Simple Febrile Seizure an the third was a Complex Febrile Seizure. In the first and third cases they regained consciousness immediately and after a quick visit to the emergency room for monitoring we were discharged- no follow up with neurology needed.

The second one was different. I can recall everything in incredible detail, yet there are so many things I would do differently that it is difficult for me to even retell the story chronologically.

But I am going to tell it as best I can.  Because I needed to hear this from other Moms when it happened to me, and frankly there’s not a lot out there from real moms on Febrile Seizures- and almost nothing on Complex Febrile Seizures.

Let’s start with what it is. A Complex Febrile Seizure is defined as a seizure lasting more than 15 minutes, or multiple episodes occurring in 24 hours.  It occurs in less than 5% of Febrile Seizure cases (Febrile Seizures affect 2-5% of the population)…most Febrile Seizures are Simple Febrile Seizures.  The primary source of the seizure is an accelerated jump in the fever, not necessarily how high the fever actually got.  Feel free to ask any questions…I don’t want to make this too long 🙂

H was 11 months old.  He had a low grade fever in the afternoon, and we didn’t give him anything, allowing him to fight it off on his own.  A few hours later he still had the fever and was clearly uncomfortable, so we gave him Tylenol.  We took his temperature a little while later to see if it had come down, and he hadn’t responded to the Tylenol.  We called the nurse line at our pediatrician and were told nothing to do or worry if it was under 104. We thought it was weird that a fever wasn’t responding to fever reducer so I brought him to the Urgent Care anyway, just 1 block from our home.

His first seizure came while we were in the waiting room at Urgent Care.  I saw it.  I didn’t even know 100% what it was at first, but something happened.  I yelled to the receptionist to get a Doctor.  It was the lowest thing on her priority list.  She got me a nurse after several minutes.

Gman had a Simple Febrile Seizure about 6 months prior. So in some sense I sort of knew what had happened and what to do.  But this time it was different. H was gazing to the side.  He wasn’t “there” he was somewhere else.    The nurse took his temperature at 103.5 and informed me they didn’t have suppository fever reducer there to push to him, and he would need to go to the ER to get that.  We were instructed to drive Gman to the Emergency Room at Children’s Hopsital after his, and so I decided to walk home to bring H to the ER.  Except he had another seizure on the one block walk home and the gaze became scarier. He was completely unresponsive.  We called 911 and they took us to the closest hospital.

He was pushed anti-seizure meds in the ambulance.  They assured me from the back that he was doing great but as we walked into the ER a nurse took one look at him and said “He’s seizing right now!” and we all looked…the seizures just continued through 3 dozes of Ativan…over about 45 minutes. They just kept coming.  He remained unconscious, with an IV in his forehead and another in his arm.

I asked the nurse if he was getting oxygen and she thought he was. The ER doctor wouldn’t stand less than 6 feet away from him it was the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen.  He would peer at him from far away and whisper orders.

Finally the nurse announced that they could no longer handle H’s emergency, and we needed to pack him up into another ambulance and transport him to a choice of three hospitals.  The closest, the next closest and the furthest which was Children’s Hospital.

I inquired which was the best hospital for him and was told they could make no recommendations but that they needed to know who to call quickly.  She reminded me of the name of the closest hospital.  It was terrifying.  But it felt like she was trying to get me out, and to limit liability by getting me to go to the next closest hospital.  It wasn’t right.

It was around this time my husband was able to meet up with me.  He had to find someone to take our older son- we had just moved to a new city and barely knew our neighbors, but they generously took a 2.5 year old while hosting their daughter’s birthday party.   Definition of good neighbors.  Good people are out there. Just saying.

I had a few friends who were nurses at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles in my 20’s and I recalled they got all the serious trauma cases- we decided to roll the dice and go with Children’s.

The doctor at Children’s took over remotely, ordered phenobarbital and stopped the seizures within minutes without ever even laying eyes on him.  Why the ER doctor didn’t order phenobarbital for him will always be a mystery to us.  H could have had several less seizures had he gotten it sooner.

When we arrived at Children’s we were immediately delivered into the PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit) where it would be 14 hours until H would open his eyes again.

For 14 hours we wondered whether he really had gotten oxygen during his seizures.  We worried whether our child would wake up, or a shadow of our child.  We wondered how much brain damage could be caused by the number of seizures he had experienced. We wondered how high his temperature had gotten and how long it had stayed there and how that could have affected his brain.

We were told that the nature of his seizures was also consistent with other, more serious, conditions including brain tumor and spinal meningitis, which had to be ruled out right away.  They would need to perform a spinal tap, a CT Scan, and an EEG…to name a few.  We were presented a stack of paperwork and releases to sign.  I inquired about whether the doctor was a Resident, Attending or Full Time Doctor.  She was a Resident.  I asked if she’d ever performed a pediatric spinal tap.  She told me she had performed a spinal tap (inferring no, she had never performed a pediatric spinal).  I asked for the attending to perform the spinal – and was told he could be hours until he could get to it, and they really needed to know sooner if he had something like spinal meningitis.  It needed to be ruled out.  I reluctantly signed.

H had a rotation of tests and medications, which were at any and all times of the night and day.

We ate and slept in his room, afraid to leave.

My mother-in-law was able to catch a late flight and arrived at 4am, and H was still unconscious…but she was able to take our older son for us in the morning (one neighbor had passed him off to another neighbor for the night so we could both stay with H), and let the dog out. Our dog is a champ, he didn’t even pee in the house after 12 hours, good dog.

When H finally woke up he was angry and disoriented and uncomfortable.  He had an IV in his forehead, and one in each arm (I am not including those photos as they are just wretched and scary).  Plus he had all the monitors on him.  Slowly our little H came back.

It took 12 more hours before we knew he was there, our little guy.  We certainly couldn’t say for sure all was 100% clear, but we knew if we were facing anything, we weren’t looking at major hurtles any longer.

Spending time in the PICU makes you realize the kinds of problems other families face and live day to day – it really shakes you and makes you realize how lucky you are.

It was rough for awhile but he had a lot of meds in him- and slept a lot from the phenobarbital and Ativan plus pain relievers. After two days we were moved to Neurology, and he was eating baby food again and all the tests came back clear…the deduction was complex febrile seizure.

Underlying cause: Ear Infection

After three days, we were discharged.

Hindsight is 20/20 and this may all just be useless but in case it helps anyone. I’m not a doctor just a MOM so read, do your own research and make your own decisions.

  1. I wish I had not agreed to the Spinal Tap/Lumbar Puncture.  And if I did it again I DEFINITELY would have waited for the attending.  Research shows that lumbar punctures are not necessary for complex febrile seizures, I don’t know why they still do them.
  2. I wish I had made the ambulance take us to Children’s Hospital initially.  I knew Children’s Hospital was the best, and I let them take us to a crappy local hospital.  I didn’t even ask where we were going.  I should have.  I should have been a Mom bully right from the start. Ambulance drivers want to get you to the nearest ER to most limit their liability and I get that 100% but that’s not what was best for us and when it comes to healthcare now I’m a mom bully.  I have fought with ambulance drivers, I make declarations, I trust myself more than I trust anyone else. Sometimes the closest hospital is right- that makes sense.  Like when its life or death.  Or when the closest ER is equipped to handle your emergency.  But for pediatric emergencies, you want to get to a pediatric hospital if a child is stable for transport (personal opinion not official advice).
  3. Once in the ER I should have asked more questions.  I should have taken pictures.  I should have taken notes.
  4. I should have asked friends for help earlier in our experience.  We needed help with our older child, my Mother-in-Law should have had a break, friends could have delivered her meals or groceries, or had play dates with our son.  We needed pajamas to sleep in, clean clothes, warm clothes, socks and underwear.  We needed food and bottles of water.  We needed shower shoes and deodorant.  We needed phone chargers and our laptops dropped off.  Our dog needed to be let out.

For us, it didn’t end here, blog post coming soon on H’s unexplained speech loss following his seizure.

Family & Lifestyle, Travel & Events

Ditch the Screen, Try a Podcast!

If you are trying to reduce your screen time, there are TONS of great podcast alternatives!! While kids listen to podcasts, they can work on art projects, do puzzles, fidget with stress balls/magnets, pick up their rooms or just wind down at the end of the day! And bonus, the first 9 of these are FREE…yay!

  1. The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian (Science Fiction Story Series)
  2. Tumble (Science Podcast for Kids)
  3. Little Stories for Tiny People (Podcast stories, Variety/Bedtime Stories)
  4. Andrew & Polly: Ear Snacks (Talk Show Podcast, Learning Show)
  5. The Show About Science (Science Podcast Hosted by a Child)
  6. But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids (NPR Podcast on Various Topics)
  7. Sugarcrash Kids (Songs and Stories on Podcast)
  8. Wow in the World (NPR Science Adventure Podcast)
  9. Disney Story Central (Podcasts from Disney!)
  10. Sparkle Stories (Subscription Fee Applies, Free Trial Period, Great Stories)
  • Family & Lifestyle

    Hammer Time!


    Its over 100 degrees in Los Angeles right now, which means we can’t carve any pumpkins until the day of Halloween or we’ll have gross rotting pumpkins on our front porch!

    But our boys love to build things- that means hammers, nails, glue, etc…but not much of that can be done independently…cue golf tee hammering into pumpkins.  All the fun of hammering nails, no nails.  No mess.  Yes!

    Here is Gman last year he looks so little!



    Family & Lifestyle

    More Fun, Less Mess!

    I posted this photo of H with our Play-Doh Construction Fun set (exclusively at Target) on Instagram and I got a LOT of comments about a love-hate relationship with Play-Doh.  I used to feel that way – BUT [stick with me] its literally one of the ONLY toys that my boys will play with for 30-45 minutes straight, independently, without fighting, without demanding snacks we don’t have, without shredding my house, etc. etc. etc..  And thus, I can only love Play-Doh.

    Now some of those people probably have THOSE kids – you know the annoying kids who sit still and play with dolls or cars or toy animals for hours at a time and so they must

    Must be a nice problem to have…not one I know much about though.  Mess management, now that’s my game!

    So here’s my Mess Management advice for Play-Doh:
    (1) My boys play with it outdoors, on their picnic table.  Ok.  Not an option for everyone.

    (2) Kitchen table (with hard flooring underneath) preferred as next option, on which we use the these craft Trays

    (3) If playing on a table on the rug is the only option, its still worth it but just put down a plastic mat- they make reusable ones, and disposable ones!

    Finally, Hasbro provides some cleaning advice on their website if/when it does get into carpet or fabric.

    Here are the other sets we have that my boys get a lot of play time from:

    Family & Lifestyle, Kid Stuff

    You’ve Been Booed! (and Boozed!)

    When we lived in Orange County we were Booed when Gavin was three and I had never even heard of it…to this day we don’t know who Booed us, they were good! 👻

    Gavin still remembers it. A magical bucket of fun Halloween stuff appeared on our doorstep, it was an amazing surprise to him, he LOVED it!

    It was too close to Halloween to Boo anyone back and so the following year he was so careful to choose just who he was going to Boo. He chose our nanny’s 9 year old daughter whom he adored (she was pretty adorbs).

    This year again, as Halloween approached it was all he could talk about. Starting October 1st he was asking if we could Boo his friends. If it was up to him he would have Booed his entire class. We chose two friends…but I made him wait until the week before Halloween LOL.

    The $.99 Cent Only Store has the cutest bags this year! They are felt bag/backpack combos, plus they have flashlights, glow sticks, crafts, bubbles and little skull chocolates. We got mini activity packs from Amazon (like these Star Wars ones or these Nickelodeon ones) and they were done! Plus I have tons of extra activity packs for dinners out!

    There are TONS of free “You’ve Been Booed” printables linked on my Pinterest

    There is a fun adult variation called “You’ve been Boozed” which I think needs no explanations…I have a free printable linked on the Pinterest board for that too…we all have a friend who could use a Booze Bucket LOL.  Speaking of, its wine o’clock. TTFN. Happy Halloween!!

    Family & Lifestyle, Parties & Events, Travel & Events

    PJ Masks Birthday Party


    This post contains affiliate links. We had an amazing PJ Masks themed 5th Birthday party for Gman today at Peekaboo Playland in Bel Air.  So much fun, and such cute decorations!  Peekaboo Playland did the lions share of this party, I can’t take the decorating credits, I am way too tired to do all this these days!!  But if you don’t live close enough to have your party there, here are some links to help to get the look!


    PJ Masks Cake Toppers (similar, deluxe version) – I bought 3 mini cakes from Ralphs and asked for the to be frosted in simple solid frosting, they were about $7 each!

    I rolled my own fondant out (buy it at Michaels with a 40% off coupon) and I punched the stars myself.

    PJ Masks Cupcake Toppers – I bought Oreo Cookie cupcakes from Ralphs (our local regular old grocery store)…I used to buy fancy $3/piece cupcakes, but after watching kids lick the frosting off and toss them for YEARS I now just get the cheap ones, plus they LOVE the added Oreo more than anything else it seals the deal…these were under $10/dozen.  They are stacked on clear acrylic cupcake risers I’ve had for four years and reuse every year, they still sell them, super easy to use and store.

    Superhero Backdrop (similar, cheaper version) – the venue decorated this but this is pretty similar

    Plates, cups & napkins (layered on solid red dinner plates)

    Cloud Decorations

    Superhero Masks (for play, decor or take home…like the one shown in Gekko cake pic)

    Jumbo Superhero Word Cutouts

    Owlette and Cat Boy Balloons

    We celebrated using a cake from Bristol Farms a few nights earlier and using all three cake toppers on one cake a few nights earlier for his actual birthday, and that turned out really cute too!  The cake was about ~$35 (6 inch cake, decorated with fondant stars and a moon/5) plus a dollar or two for the chocolate disc.  Bonus the toppers become toys after (they really are toys actually LOL).


    Good luck and send me pics of you DIY any ideas I’d love to add them to my blog!

    Family & Lifestyle

    Mission Organization: Garage Playroom

    Our garage is now a playroom, woohoo! We moved in July for the fourth time in four years.  Yeah.  For reals.  I’m having a glass of wine just thinking about it.  Anyway.  Back to the task at hand.  We’re here and we’ve updated the garage to a playroom, but its a mess.  A big project.

    Currently the toys are all in plastic bins from the move (there are more in the storage shed in back of the garage, I won’t pain you with photos of those!)…there is a sprinkler system built into the wall (eyesore!)…no shelves or bins or storage of any kind…an old rug and old sofa…but stay tuned, with Jody’s help I will conquer IKEA and Target and make this a space we can all enjoy!

    What are your favorite organization solutions? Small items? Large items? Do you think clear bins or solid bins that hide contents?

    Here are some videos I am finding inspirational, any thoughts?

    IKEA tips #1

    IKEA tips #2

    You can shop my navy blue sweater here, my white cropped denim here, and my shoes here!

    Family & Lifestyle

    Backyard, check!

    We just moved (again!) and are bringing the backyard up to date for the boys (and because we love to host!)…can I get you red, white or rose?!?

    Play structure is the smallest footprint (14′ x 12.5′) Gorilla Playsets makes, available from

    Pitcher Pump Barrel (which can be hand pumped by the kids, or plugged in like a fountain!) for a little Natural/Nature Playground activity is from Eco Wine Furniture, available on

    Red ATV available on (its 12V and only $125!!) – we’ve had them for 10 months and they are still going strong!


    Family & Lifestyle, Parties & Events, Travel & Events

    All Aboard for the North Pole Express!

    Just outside of Los Angeles in Filmore, CA is the North Pole Express Train (also called the Polar Express Train) which was an amazing experience for our kids at age 3 and 4. They cannot wait to go back this year. For adults, the train, and the “North Pole” are all a little lackluster but I assure you your Little’s will not see this- the experience is all sparkle and magic for them!  So I encourage adults to have realistic expectations 🙂


    The 1-hour train ride chuffs along at a few miles an hour (they won’t notice how slow it’s going, don’t point it out!) to the “North Pole” – Santa’s elves pass out cookies and sing Christmas Carols.  Once the train arrives at the North Pole there is a large display of Christmas lights and the train picks up Santa himself. Santa makes his way through the train passing out candy canes and high fives and when the train arrives back at the station you wait in a long line for picture with Santa – but it’s worth it, and like I said, it was truly magical for our kids!! Families (adults and children) are encouraged to wear pajamas for the train ride.

    The drive up to Filmore is a bit of a haul. We coordinated with a couple of other families and met first at a El Pescador Mexican Restaurant and had dinner and margaritas. It rounded out the evening since the train ride itself is only an hour- plus we figured we deserve some margaritas before it 😉