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New-Years-Eve-Logo #knottsnye

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post by Knotts Berry Farm

I can’t remember a lot of New Years Eve celebrations from when I was younger, but I do remember every single one I spent at Knotts Berry Farm when I was a teenager. During that transitional period of childhood to adulthood I would ring in the New Year with friends where we engorged on funnel cake and rode roller coasters that almost made said funnel cake come up.

Obviously, a lot has changed with me… I mean, now it takes me only a couple roller coasters to make me pukey. It’s so worth it.

Basically, it was a perfect time for a group or thrill seeker teens who just wanted to have fun. My friends and I had a great time running amok at Knotts Berry Farm. It was safe, fun and we felt so free.

It was all the awesomeness of Knotts Berry Farm that we loved but we could be crazy until 1am, with live entertainment, dancing and it was like a big party.

Knotts New Years Eve - #KnottsNYE

We weren’t old enough for REAL parties so this was a better time. I think my Dad knew we would get in less trouble there than anywhere else. When I think about my kids now, especially our teen and tweens, I know I where I would rather have them.

I’m a mother with five kids (ages six months to fifteen) and our kids have very different interests and personalities. I also happen to be like a big kid. Right now many of our family memories are made in amusement parks because it’s a great balance of funsies for everyone. After such a crazy year I can’t think of a more perfect place than Knotts Berry Farm to ring in the new year. I love seeing the park through the eyes of my kids and it’s like reliving my childhood again. I’m especially cherishing these times where all the kids want to be with us before they become teens who are too cool for family.

I hope they never get too cool for me, because I’m pretty freaking awesome. 😉 Really though… I want these memories for my kids to be as rad as they were for me.

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Tis the Season to get #GiftSmart

by Leila on December 11, 2014

When my kids were all younger it was so much easier to buy them gifts. Toys are easy to pile in to the cart and the boxes everything came in added another level of funsies for the kids.

With five kids, and three being teens, shopping for the holidays isn’t as easy as it used to be. After talking to a lot of my friends we all seem to be in the same boat not knowing what to get this age range of kids. I don’t want to buy gifts just to fill presents under the tree. I don’t want it to be a bunch of junk they won’t care about in a month. I also want them to provide some kind of enrichment.

I also want to shop easily, get a good deal and not have to stress over bad customer service and all that stuff too.

Too much to ask for? Not if you are buying Gift Smart at Radio Shack.

My husband is a frequent Radio Shack shopper. Every birthday or holiday he always shops for gifts there. He’s gifted electric circuit boards, rc toys, hex bugs, more rc toys and phone accessories. He’s always building crazy stuff and usually needs to frequent Radio Shack for “just a couple parts” and comes back with a whole lot more than that. He is a kid in the candy store when it comes to Radio Shack and it’s one of the few places he really likes to shop. We can find anything for our kids no matter if it’s a selfie stick for our Instagram loving tween girls or foldable headphones for our teen son who likes to listen to music while he does chores…

Or maybe I need some new headphones so I can tune out the kids ALLTHETIME. Not really, because that would be mean… or something 😉

A few words about the bluetooth selfiestick at Radio Shack – it’s awesome. It honestly isn’t something I would have picked up because my arms are freakishly long and I’m a selfie master, but this adds to smartphone picture funsies. My kids LOVE it and I realized quickly its a rad gift for teens and tweens.

Selfie Stick - #GiftSmart

#GiftSmart - Selfie Stick

#giftsmart - Radio Shack gifts for the the holidays.jpg

Radio Shack makes me happy because I can rely on a good deal with their price match guarantee and high quality products. We happen to have one within walking distance of us but I like that it’s easy to locate a store when we are on the go. If they don’t have what you are looking for in stock then they will ship it to you for free which eliminates the hassle of shopping around.

I mostly like the idea of going into one place to pick up whatever I need and not worry about all the insanity – especially since I’ve procrastinated on gift buying and need to take care of that sooner rather than later.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. I was gifted a selfie stick and auvio headphones and paid for the sponsored content. All opinions are my own. 

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As summer approaches, and I start researching things to do in Southern California, two things go through my head:

YAY! More time with the kids!!

and…

OMG! More time with the kids!!

Depending on my mental state (and coffee consumption) determines if my response is positive or running for the hills screaming. 

As the years tick on I want to really make the most of these summers when my kids want to spend time with me. I hope they always want to spend time with me, but realistically they are going to wake up to that dawn of hormones and coolness and I won’t be their world.

When I factor in what my kids like to do, what their friends dig, things that are fun, affordable and never gets boring I always think of amusement parks.

Oh and I also like to factor in what my friends like to do and who has passes to where… because, it takes a village right?

Knott’s Soak City Waterpark is my favorite waterpark to take the kids during the summer and a huge hit with my friends. The park has many slides and attractions to keep everyone happy in this 13 acre park of awesomeness.

Knott's Soak City

My youngest loves Gremmie Lagoon where he can run amok in this water playground. This is a great place for parents with younger ones to set up for the day and hang with the little thrill seekers. While the older kids go on thrill seeking rides like Old Man Falls, Malibu Run and Laguna Storm Water Tower I like having a spot they can check in with me where it’s a little more mellow.

When the whole family wants to take it up a notch we head over to the three story Toyota Beach House where we can play with water guns and try to avoid the giant bucket! Or we try to catch some waves in Tidal Wave Bay.

Knott's Soak City

The Sunset River is also a big favorite. I don’t know what it is about a lazy river but we can circle around in a group for hours and never get bored. I like trying to, lovingly, soak my sweeties under the waterfalls.

You can’t beat the price for a day of fun with the family and making Knott’s Soak City a regular summer activity is more than worth the affordable season pass price.

I’m looking forward to the summer, fun times with friends and watching my kids have a blast at places like Knott’s Soak City. Enjoy these times while you can and make the most of them.

And for all my friends reading this… get your passes… let’s rock 😛

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Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I sincerely love water parks like a big kid and I made plans to visit Soak City on opening day with media tickets. 

Photos belong to Soak City OC

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Disclaimer: Super big thanks to Toyota for having me as a guest at the Lifesaver Conference in Denver Colorado. My travel expenses were covered. I was not compensated for attending the event or for writing about Toyota. All opinions are my own and are not influenced by Toyota.

Are Our Teens Safe on the Roads?

I’ve always known that teenagers often lose their lives to fatal car crashes. What I didn’t know, until recently, is that the number one killer of teens are car crashes.

When I was a teenager, and being the daughter of a police officer who frightened me when I was learning to drive, I knew how precarious driving a vehicle could be. I knew then that teens lost their lives often due to car crashes. This is something that became a harsh reality when I was a teenager and I lost friends, acquaintances in High School or friend’s lost family members due to car accidents. We heard the stories, we often saw the aftermath of the wrecks, we felt the heartache and fear, but, it didn’t stop most teens I knew from driving recklessly.

The most distraction we had, back then, was from our own idiocy, loud music, posturing and silliness.

The only electronic device that distracted us then was a pager.

Now? Well, how much are we connected? How often are we distracted as drivers? How often do we stare at the moving map on our GPS? What about eating and drinking? Changing music? Texting or talking on your cell?

We know that texting and driving is dangerous and if we are going to chat on our phones we should be hands free. But, even hands free is a huge distraction.

Combine all of these distractions with an inexperienced teen driver and the world has created a cocktail of catastrophe.

Encouraging a Safe Teen Driver Starts Early

I have an almost 14 year old step-son and a diva of a 11 year old daughter. The focus from first foods, first words and first steps has shifted to first loves, first heartbreaks and first cars. The world of driving is just on the horizon for them… and this frightens me a little. Yes, I still have a few years until this starts being an actual reality. The truth is that their driving behavior has already started to form in their sponge brains.

It starts with us. The parents. Those who drive them around now. They watch, learn and repeat.

I’ve spent so much time advocating for my chronically ill daughter who has life threatening health issues. I’ve, naturally, assumed that would always be our biggest battle. Realizing that her getting into the car as a teen could the tragic mistake I made was jolting. I know I talk about being a safe driver, point out with colorful words when others are not driving safely (hehe) and I think I’ve instilled driving safety in the kids… but has it been enough?

Sure, I want to lock her up, and her siblings, and throw away the key forever. I want to do this for plenty of reasons! I won’t… I didn’t say I can’t because I SO could if I needed to… but, for now… I won’t. Did you read that kids?!

Be the Example

The first thing I decided to change was my own driving behavior. The statistics on distracted driving, and the tragedies that followed, made me physically ill and brought more tears to my eyes than any other events in the past year combined. In order for me to expect my children to be good drivers it has to start with me.

No more texting and driving. Not even when the light is red. Not even for a quick second. I just don’t pick up that phone, the phone is put on silent and everything can wait.

I do not even talk on speaker when I am driving. We aren’t completely focused on driving when we are caught up in a conversation on our cells.

I sure don’t want my soon to be driving teens to risk having a conversation and driving so I have to set that standard.

Be a Part of the Learning Experience

I am also starting to educate myself NOW on how to be a better supporter for my kids when they become drivers.

Toyota is celebrating their 10th year of saving lives through the Toyota Driving Expectations program. Toyota offers complimentary 2.5 hour classes for teens and their parents to help prepare the newest driver in the family. It is a hands on experience that has one mission – to help save lives on the roadway. Signing up for classes on their website is easy.

Here are the current dates and locations for the Toyota Driving Expectations Spring Tour –

 

Toyota Headquarters in Torrance, CA – May 4 & 5

Bass Pro Shops in Denver, CO – May 18 & 19

Toyota Texas Plant in San Antonio, TX – June 8 & 9

 

It’s FREE – I just thought I would emphasize that. 😛

Toyota can also bring the program to your local high school and your local Toyota dealership.  You can visit the Toyota Driving Expectations site to find out how to bring this lifesaving program to your community.

Toyota also has another resource for parents and teens called Toyota Teen Driver which is a plethora of online information for the whole family.

I don’t want my kids to be terrified to drive with me in the car… I want them to drive me, safely, everywhere I want to go. I want to be able to lovingly annoy them about how long it will take to get there, when we will stop for a bathroom break and why we have to listen to that horrible music… I want them to take road trips and know they will come home with memories of awesomeness… I want them to be able to take the car out, on dates… wait, no… scratch that one. No dating. Ever. I do want to know that every time they get behind the wheel or trust a friend to drive them that they will be empowered, safe and come home safely… and most importantly, I want to do everything that I can to make sure they won’t add to the statistic of teen deaths.

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