5 Ways Disney made our Munchkins EXCELLENT Travelers

I get it… Disney… really?  It’s funny how people love or hate the mouse and with equal enthusiasm especially in the travel industry!

As lame as you may think the mouse is I am going to make the argument that Disney is great stomping grounds for bringing up well rounded little travelers-

Here are 5 Ways Disney made my Munchkins EXCELLENT Travelers:

1)  The munchkins are great on airplanes

We walk on a plane with 4 kids and a baby and I swear all you can hear are sighs.  Plus, all the talk under peoples breath, the eye rolls and the avoidance.  It is hilarious!!!

I smile and laugh in my head bc our kids have flown 3-4 times a year from the time they were infants.  Every few months they are on a plane ride.  Initially, it was either to Maui to visit their Papa or to Florida to go to Disneyworld bc with the Vacation Club it was just SO affrordable!

All those miles up in the sky have made my kids EXCELLENT flyers.  Its a routine for them and we keep it consistent every time.  Hint- Kids LOVE routine!!!  My kids love the special treats they know I’ve packed them.  They know activities that will keep them occupied and they know that sleeping helps pass the time.  You know the saying “Practice makes Perfect!”

My favorite part about flying honestly is all the compliments we receive once we’ve landed.  People cannot believe how well behaved our kids were.  Its one of those mama moments that I just soak up– proof that I am doing a good job at this while child rearing thing 😉

Truth is it is not as much about my parenting though as it is about practice and routine.  And, that moment is thanks to all those trips.  The munchkins know hopping on a plane = fun.  They know if they misbehave they will miss out on part of the fun.  So, with that mindset our flights are easy peasy.


2)  They understand and appreciate culture

Epcot is a fantastic way to introduce kids to culture and language.  The park represents 11 countries and Disney hires people from each specific area so kids are able to ask questions and learn about another country from its own residents without any language barrier.

My kids especially love making the cultural kidcot masks.  They get to visit a special kidcot area in each country where the cast member stamps the country and writes the child’s  name in their native language on the back of their mask.

EVERY. TIME. we go the munchkins HAVE to make a mask.  They never get tired of it.

It’s more than the mask though.  I appreciate that they are able to chat with the employees about their homelands and learn a bit of the language.  It sparks their curiosity and helps engage us in conversations about the world and where they might want to travel in the future.

It also helps in reverse when you are in the actual country and you can remind them of things they learned or saw in the parks.  It helps familiarize them to the area so they don’t feel so out of sorts.  Like when we traveled to Ethiopia and we were able to talk about the cast members we met, the pictures of the traditional African houses we had seen at the hotel, the Coke signs in the Africa area of Epcot and the drums the kids were able to play with.  My son was proud when he could show the Ethiopians that he knew a thing or two about their instruments 😉

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3)  The munchkins are patient

Disney parks are known for their long waits and while we do utilize fast pass and baby swap when we can… my munchkins still end up waiting in their fair share of lines.  This has been very useful bc trips always require you to wait in lines whether its at the airport, waiting to see the Eiffel Tower or to see an exhibit in a museum- lines are just part of traveling.

Having had so much practice at how to wait nicely, knowing fun little games they can play like “I spy” etc… really has been helpful.  The more routine the activity is… the better equipped your kids will be to handle themselves in a mature, respectful manner.


4)  They love trying different foods

Disney has done a great job with all the different cultural restaurants they have now.  We have enjoyed African/ Indian inspired dishes at Boma and Jiko while staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.  The munchkins have eaten Moroccan, French, English, Chinese, Norwegian, German and Japanese food at Epcot and many more.  Food is such an important part of a culture and getting small tastes of it here and there has helped them appreciate trying new things.  I recommend if you visit the parks to not give your kids the kids meals with traditional mac and cheese and chicken nuggets.  Instead have them split adult entrees or order several appetizers to share.

They may turn up their noses the first few times but once they give it a go I guarantee they will find exotic foods to be quite fun!!  Mine have even made lists of all the different foods they have tried like escargot, injera and sushi.


5)  The munchkins have learned how to have their own fun amongst the chaos.

Traveling is exhausting and chaotic.  Crowded tourist attractions, busy train and subway stations and the airport are all places that get NUTS!!  Guess where you can get that same type of vibe… that’s right Disney Parks.  Crowds, Chaos and Disney go hand in hand.

My kids are literally immune to the crowds.  They know how to stay close, they know what to do if they get lost… all of these details we have worked out previously through our many trips to Disney.  This helps give me more peace of mind bc I know my kids won’t be overwhelmed.  By ensuring the are not overwhelmed I also know I am avoiding potential meltdowns.

We also have a worked out a great flow.  We know our kids need to have a break to rest & eat every 2-3 hours when we are out.  We know what kind of snacks to have on hand and we can tell when one of the kids is losing their cool.  I am glad we practiced all of these things at Disneyworld where if I didn’t pack enough snacks or diapers there was a very easy fix at the next gift shop maybe 10 feet away.  Trust me Disney has you set.

I am glad to have had the practice as making a mistake while hiking in Costa Rica, driving across the countryside in Ethiopia or in the middle of the sand dunes in Dubai would NOT be as easy to fix.

So, if you are nervous about travel but would love to be a traveling family I think Disneyworld is a great starting off point.  It’s convenience can’t be beat and helps ease you into experiences so that you can get some under your belt.



3 Reasons You Should Go to a Storm Game


Okay, look under normal circumstances if you asked me to take my whole munchkin crew and make them sit for H.O.U.R.S. at a baseball game I would laugh in your face and think you were joking.  Don’t get me wrong.  I used to love a good baseball game with a delicious hot dog in one hand and a cold beer in the other surrounded by good friends and laughter… BUT with the munchkins its a whole other story.  My kids attention span in this crazy iPad/ video game paced world is about 5 seconds… don’t laugh… I’m NOT kidding.

So, you bet your bottom dollar I was giddy as all get out when we attended a baseball game WITH the munchkins AND had a good time.

So, here are my Top 3 Reasons Why YOU should Go to a Storm Baseball Game:

1) Family Friendly

Storm Games are a great choice for families from the cleanliness of the stadium and cheap ticket prices to their dedicated Kids Zone complete with inflatable jumpers for the kids.  Plus, on top of that they have nights specifically geared towards families.  For example every Friday night you can sit back and enjoy the “Best Fireworks Display in the Inland Empire” after the game.   Or enjoy their Sunday Funday which consists of kids taking over the Diamond where they announce the game and can race Thunder across the field.  Plus, there are plenty of antics between innings to keep the kiddos entertained including a bunch of mascot characters… my munchkins get a kick out of the race the squirrel bit they do!!

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2) Thunder

Speaking of mascot characters I have to say as annoying as Thunder may be to us adults he definitely is a HUGE HIT with the munchkins.  He is super energetic and he really interacts with the entire stadium.  Plus, as I mentioned above Thunder also has a bunch of mascot friends and together they provide tons of laughs for your little ones.  Check them out for yourself:

3) Party Deck

Here is the my TOP REASON to go to a Storm Baseball game.  You can rent the party deck!!!!  It’s not just a fun name… it is your own private party deck along the first base line.  It can accommodate about 20 of your friends and includes waitstaff, food and drinks.  It is perfect for a birthday party, work event or just hanging out with good friends.

For me just the fact that all the food and drinks were there ready for us when we showed up (popcorn, chips, different sausages and hot dogs plus drinks and waitstaff to keep the cold beers coming) was enough to win me over.  Plus, the Kid Zone is just to the right of the deck and there are clean restrooms located right behind you.  I mean it is the ideal way to watch a game.  Meaning as a mom YOU will actually enjoy yourself (shocking right?).

I am all about people catering to my needs when we travel with 5 munchkins in tow so you can imagine how happy I was when I could actually sit back and relax.  Watching the game was great but watching the munchkins on the bar stools laughing, playing and enjoying the game was priceless.




*Don’t forget to contact Smart Card for great deals on Storm Tickets.

 *Remember to sit on the first base side… or that CA sun will scorch you 😉

3 Things NOT to do in Bali


Yes… you read that right!  Bali has about a million ah-mazing things that you absolutely should check out.  In fact you could head on over to Pinterest right now… search Bali and be flooded with the most gorgeous pictures you could imagine.  However… I am warning you there are 3 Things You should NOT to do in Bali.

1.)  Do NOT take bananas into Monkey Forest

Sounds super tempting I know right?  What is cuter than a whole forest full of sweet fluffy monkeys??  Nothing you are thinking.  Well sorry to burst your bubble but think of this forest as a death trap instead.  It is an entire forest full of mischievous monkeys who mean business.  These monkeys have fangs, are willing to fight for their bananas, definitely are NOT afraid of humans… AND they call their homies for back up when you run out of bananas.  Nothing scarier than hearing crazy fanged monkeys swinging from the trees above coming for you and your bananas- AHHHHHH!!!!

2.)  Do NOT be fooled into thinking there is a leisurely bike trail in Bali

We were excited that our hotel (the amazing Alila Ubud) had complimentary bikes so thinking we were fit adventurous people (we really are not) we checked out a couple bikes.  We asked the concierge at the hotel about routes and they confirmed there was a nice easy route for us.  Off we went.  Oh, boy did we learn.  There were so many hills and they were SO STEEP we literally had to walk our bikes up.  We were struggling so bad that several wonderful Balinese people stopped on their motorbikes to make sure we were okay. #embarrassing  I mean we must have looked TERRIBLE!!  Eventually we made it through the hills only to have a sudden downpour come and completely drench us.  So, in Bali just remember that bike rides = big hills + tons of traffic + pouring rain.  We definitely got a little more adventure then we bargained for 😉

3.)  Do NOT go river rafting if you are scared of heights

So, I may or may not be a bit of a wimp (meaning I am the wimpiest person you know).  The first river rafting trip we took in Bali was a class 3 and it was pretty easy.  So, when my hubby found a second course that was also class 3 with just a few spots classified as 4’s I thought “no Big… let’s do this.”  Holy smokes the difference in classes… I was ducking under rocks and cliffs that were nearly scrapping my nose and then we plunged down this insanely steep hill.  My heart skipped a few beats for sure.  So… if you go river rafting (which you should bc its fun) just know you’ve been warned!!


*In all seriousness Bali was probably one of my favorite trips!!

some may say it was bc it was sans munchkins


1909 Temecula- Handcrafted Fluid and Flare

Old Town Temecula has been really coming to life over the past few years with the addition of some great new restaurants and bars.  We decided to give one of the more recent newcomers a shot and stopped by 1909- Handcrafted Fluid & Fare.


Who should go?

1909 is a great place to saddle up to the bar or grab a table with good friends.  It also makes a fun date night spot.  Sit outdoors and enjoy the people watching 😉

What’s the deal?

1909 prides itself on unique food, handcrafted cocktails and craft beers.  So that is just what we decided to dive into.


What should you order?

We were feeling like something light to kick off our night so we decided on the Snapper Ceviche and some drinks.  I ordered a delicious cocktail and the hubby went for a flight of locally sourced craft beers. Both paired perfectly with the ceviche.  I dove straight in to the crispy chips and creamy avocado slices that topped the ceviche.  I was getting ~~ island vibes ~~ Everything was great!!! Although… Mr. Wonderful thought that he should have waited on the Peanut Butter Stout as it was definitely a dessert beer.  Rookie error.  Let’s look at my pretty drink up close… YUM!~!~!


There were quite a few entrees that caught our attention- the Fish Tacos, Farm to Table Chicken Breast and 1909 burger just to name a few.  But, we finally settled on the Farm to Table Chicken Sandwich and Bacon Jalapeno Mac & Cheese.  We were both very pleased with our meals.  However, we agreed my Bacon Jalapeno Mac was the clear winner of the night.  It just kept getting richer and creamier as it began to cool and the crispy breadcrumbs on top just sent the dish over the edge.  YUM!!!


We finished off the night with a house recommended black tea/ cardamom cocktail which was the perfect night cap.  We took a stroll down Front St and called it a night.

The Breakdown…

Will we return… an absolute YES!  And, most likely with friends.  Great waitstaff, fun atmosphere, good food and great drinks.  We are happy to welcome 1909 to the Temecula scene.

Make sure to check out 1909 on their website, facebook, twitter to see what they are up to.  And, don’t forget to let them know we sent you 🙂

Next I’ll be checking out their yummy weekend brunch…


Image Source: Official 1909 website


5 Reasons to Love Omni La Costa Resort and Spa

1. Two 100 foot water-slides, a toddler-slide and spray-ground

What family isn’t entertained by water slides??  I know our munchkins are huge fans.  And, I am a huge fan of kids having a blast so I can relax poolside with a nice cocktail in hand and a fantastic read.  Okay… most times I am that goofy mom in the water with them.  But, one can dream 😉

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2. Eight distinct pool areas including kid-specific areas and an adults-only pool

When you are in California you want to be in the water… its just natural… Don’t fight the urge!  La Costa has eight gorgeous pools to tempt you with.  My favorite is the gorgeous Spa Courtyard Pool… but with the munchkins the Sandy Family Beach Pool takes the cake.  Oh… and they have fabulous lounge chairs and TONS of shade!!!

*More on the pools and slides here

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3.  Location… Location… Location

Carlsbad California has SO much to offer… beaches, amazing restaurants, tons of shopping.

Plus, there are a ton of activities near by including: Legoland, Birch Aquarium, SeaWorld Adventure Park, San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park and the Flower Gardens (seasonally open). 

There is also the Carlsbad Lagoon with tons of fun water rentals too!

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4.  #1 Wellness Spa in the Nation!!!

I L.O.V.E. everything health and well being.  I love eating organic whole foods, yoga, meditation and natural healing.  So, you can bet I am all about La Costa’s Wellness Spa.  I mean you don’t get #1 in the Nation from Spa Magazine for nothing.  What mom (or dad) doesn’t deserve some relaxation and rejuvenation right?  And, don’t even get me started on the Chopra Center– that will be a post all on its own.

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5.  Fantastic Family Activities

As if there wasn’t already a ton to do off property… La Costa also offers a bunch (over 150 weekly activities to be exact) of fun activities for family right at the resort.  I’m talking daily crafts, nighttime s’mores, tennis and golf lessons, wellness classes, fitness classes… I could go on and on.  Or you can just click here and see for yourself.

I hope I have convinced you that Omni La Costa Resort and Spa is a fantastic SoCal resort.  If I didn’t maybe this cutie will…



5 Ways to Beat the Crowds at Disneyland


Spring break is upon us and I know I am not the only one scrambling trying to figure out how to keep my munchkins busy 😉

Disneyland is a fantastic option, but I know many parents who avoid it completely during busy times of the year.  Truth is Disney’s crowds are largely SoCal residents, meaning even during off peak seasons the park is still pretty packed.  So, instead of trying to avoid the crowds I have come up with 5 easy ways to work the crowds instead.

Here are 5 ways we beat the crowds and enjoy Disneyland even during the busiest of times.


1.  Get There Early

Plan to be at the gates about 30 minutes prior to the park opening.  Remember to account for the time it takes to park and catch a tram (about 30 minutes).   You will get to catch the Park Opening Show with the characters which is always fun.  Plus, the park will be much less crowded for the first 1-2 hours so you can jam through some the lines for the big attractions.  *Always, start at Disneyland first if you have the hopper pass as CA Adventure is the slower of the two parks.

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2.  Start at the Back of the Park

Most visitors will rush to the most popular ride they see first.  Be smart and work backwards through the park and you will be ahead of the game.  Whatever you do AVOID heading over to Space Mountain because hotel guests receive early entry into the park (*1 hour early) and the only areas that are open to them are Tomorrowland and Fantasyland so those two areas will be busy early.  Instead head towards Frontier and Adventureland where the lines will be much less crowded.


Bonus Tip- Our route is typically having the hubby head to Space Mountain to grab fast-passes for later then meeting up with the rest of the crew at Splash Mountain.  Then we hit up Pirates and Thunder next!

Another way to avoid the crowds are to ride the main attractions during the parade and firework times!


3.  Download the MouseWait App

Another way to avoid the crowds is to download the MouseWait App and check the wait times throughout the day.  This app is updated by park guests not Disneyland… but they have tons of users and we have found their estimates to be pretty spot on most of the time.  This allows you to take advantage of attractions that are having a random slower wait times.

The app features most attractions and show times… plus it helps you find restrooms near you to which is very convenient when traveling with littler munchkins.


4.  Dine Early… plus more Dining Tips

A great way avoid munchkin meltdowns is to make sure everyone is well fed and hydrated throughout the day.  Disney is one of the best theme parks in regards to allowing guests to bring snacks.  So, I always pack granola bars, pretzels, goldfish etc…  Make sure whenever you do plan on dining at one of the restaurants in the parks that you try to schedule it at off times.  i.e.) Lunch at 11:30am or dinner at 5pm

Bonus Tip- All dining locations that have fountain sodas offer free cups of ice water.  We stop by every couple hours to hydrate plus bring a refillable water bottle to keep on hand.


Bonus Tip- If you are going to catch a parade I suggest finding one the coincides with dinner time.  We like to bring a blanket lay it out around 45 minutes before parade time, then we send one of us to pick up a whole pizza from Pizza Port and basically have a picnic before the parade.  Its good times!

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5.  Escape the Heat with these off the Beaten Path Attractions

Yes, the thrills of Indiana Jones, Space Mountain and the like are a super fun way to spend your day.  But, the problem is there are only a few of them.  It always seems like we’ve conquered most of the big rides by mid day and our energy levels are pretty burnt.  So, what we do is head to some of the less popular attractions.

Single Park Ticket:  Some of our favorite escapes from the crowds and heat are: hitting up one of the shows like Mickey’s Magical Map, hopping on the Disneyland Railroad, enjoying the air conditioning at the Enchanted Tiki Room or Innoventions.  Or if you are near the back of the park the Winne the Pooh ride often has little to no wait.


Park Hopper- I suggest you stroll over to California Adventure at that midday time.  This park is always much less crowded than Disneyland.  You can grab an iced latte at Starbucks as you enter the park then head on over to the Animation Academy.  Inside that air conditioned building your munchkins can talk to Crush or find out what character they are most alike.  If you have preschool aged children you could cruise over to the Playhouse Disney show…  Our littlest munchkin has the best time watching her favorite characters on stage!!!   Then, you can head over to Ariel’s Undersea Adventure as there is hardly ever a wait there.  Same with most rides in Bugs Land… and the Bug’s Show is also indoors and a great way to keep cool and rest.

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And, don’t forget to combine the above with Disney’s Methods too:

Fast Pass-

You can scan your ticket at a Fast Pass booth for the larger attractions in the park.  It will give you a ticket (aka Fast Pass) to come back at a designated time.  This way you don’t have to stand in the full wait time line.  This can cut your wait time down significantly.

Single Rider-

If you are traveling with older children single rider may be a viable option for you.  It is a separate faster moving/ shorter line where they use you to fill in the extra seats.  If you don’t mind being split up this is another way to move through the park faster.

Child Swap-

The child swap has worked great for us.  Basically, one parent and the group of kids waits in the line while the other parents waits with the baby or younger child off the ride.  After the first parent and children ride they come out and hand the second parent a child swap pass.  The second parent and usually 1-2 of the kids can then go straight through the exit to the front of the attraction to ride without having to wait in the line again.

So, now that you are equipped with fantastic methods to work the crowds you can confidently move on to planning your trip to Disneyland this Spring Break!!!              IMG_1990

*Don’t forget to check out Smart Card for discounted Disneyland tickets.  You have to pay a $30 member fee but they have fantastic savings to all the SoCal Theme Parks plus movie theater discounts too!

Terranea, Luxury Oceanfront Resort- My Review

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We have been fortunate enough to stay at some amazing luxury resorts with the munchkins.  One that is close to home and dear to our hearts is Terranea.  We were lucky enough to stay at Terranea when it first opened five short years ago.  It was one of those moments where we realized how lucky we were to be native Californians.  The views are breathtaking!  The grounds are immaculate and they have amazing service to boot!

Who should go:  Terranea is classic California elegance at its best… but being near a beach it is  also laid back enough for you to feel more than comfortable toting munchkins along.  In fact they welcome kids with their amazing kids programs and water areas.  They also have a fun brunch on the weekends where our little munchkin enjoyed fresh made doughnuts, waffle bar complete with m&m’s and a berry smoothie 😉

Their guest rooms and suites are nice.  But, they also offer bungalows, casitas and golf villas for larger parties or those who are looking for a more unique experience.  We have also stayed with the munchkins in their two bedroom casita for my hubby’s birthday and that was amazeballs!!!  Your own private beach villa complete with kitchen, backyard and fireplace.  They had to drag me out of it by the time our weekend came to an end… seriously.  I did NOT want to leave.  I even dragged my hubby to their real estate office to see if we could buy something on property… turns out you can!  Anyone want to buy one for me???  See here

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What to do:  Terranea offers plenty of fun things to do whether in the Palos Verdes penninsula or the surrounding South Bay beach cities.  There are a ton of hiking trails near by and walking trails on the property.  What is more fun than hiking, biking or horseback riding with those gorgeous ocean views? (big fan here!!)  They also offer kayaking, paddle boarding, tide pooling and snorkeling adventures.  Trump National Golf Course is right next door if you are into golfing.  Plus, Terranea has three pools on property that keep you entertained with sand areas for the kids, splash park and water slide.  They also have a falcon program and bring out the gorgeous birds which our munchkins think is pretty cool!




Some of our favs off property activities include heading out to Belmont Shores and hopping on a gondola or kayak through Naples Island.  And, if you head in that direction you MUST… I am serious you MUST stop by and enjoy a meal at one of the Open Sesame’s located in Belmont Shores.  Just check out their Yelp ratings here.  They have such amazing food they had to open a second restaurant (complete with its own kitchen) two doors down.  You’ll be kicking yourself if you don’t- Trust me!

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We also like to check out the Wayfarers Chapel.  It is an amazing glass chapel with so much history and its architecture and gardens will take your breath away.  Our munchkins like to climb the trees and run around the grass 🙂

When to go:  Our California weather honestly is pretty amazing year round.  However, if you want to enjoy the water activities I suggest May- July.  Sometimes May is still pretty overcast so check weather reports before you go!




Where is it located: Terranea is located on the bluffs in Palos Verdes California.  You are close enough to check out the classic SoCal pit stops like Disneyland, Hollywood etc…

*For great savings on theme parks check out- Smart Card


Why should you put it on your list:  There are few hotels that I would put in a class with Terranea.  I think I could most closely compare it to Grand Wailea.  It is a massive resort with such stunning grounds it even made this California girl feel like I had been transported to a luxury island.  Not only are the grounds gorgeous but the location is surrounded by so many fun activities it was hard to try and narrow it down to a few for this post.  I could honestly go on… and on… and- you get the point!  Put Terranea on your list today.  You can thank me later 🙂

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