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OC Easter wrap-up

Spring has sprung in Orange County, and we have the beautiful weather to prove it! Kids are enjoying spring break, flowers are in full bloom and Easter is just around the corner. If you’re looking for a fun way to celebrate Easter with little ones, I highly recommend visiting Irvine Park Railroad through April 15 for the “Easter Eggstravaganza.” My family and I look forward to this event each and every year. Not only can your family meet and take pictures with the Easter Bunny, but you can also choose from an assortment of Easter-related activities, from an Easter egg hunt to carnival-style games, cookie decorating, face painting, bounce houses, a coloring station, and of course, a train ride.

Upon arrival, I recommend purchasing a book of tickets. You can purchase activity tickets for $5 each, but they go very quickly here, so I recommend the book of 15 tickets for $60 (a $15 savings) — whichever tickets are left over can be used at any other events at the park, such as Halloween or Christmas. Next, I suggest heading over to the egg hunt booth to get a wristband for an egg hunt. Hunts are divided by age categories, such as 2-4, 2-7 and 2-12. Once you have your wristband, you can relax and enjoy the activities while waiting for your designated egg hunt time. The egg hunts cost two tickets per child.

A visit to Irvine Park Railroad isn’t complete without meeting the Easter Bunny, too! For $10, your family can meet the bunny and have one picture printed. (Sign up for the park’s email list and you can receive coupons, such as an additional free picture from your session!).

Keep in mind that weekends at the park can be extremely busy, so if at all possible, I recommend planning your visit on a weekday. The event runs from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. on weekends. For additional information, click here.

If you’re simply looking for an Easter Bunny photo experience, you may want to check out The Shops at Mission Viejo for a hassle-free visit. We all know how hard it can be to wait in a long line with wiggly toddlers in tow, so that’s why I love the online appointment option offered here — sign up for a reserved time slot ahead of time to skip the line! Online scheduling requires a $10 deposit, which will be applied toward your purchase of a bunny photo package.

Have fun, and Happy Easter!

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Happy “Noon-Year”!

Happy “Noon-Year”! We had a blast celebrating a family-friendly New Year’s Eve party at Pretend City, where families enjoyed countdowns and confetti every couple of hours to ring in the New Year at the same time it was being celebrated in various spots around the globe.

How did you and your family celebrate the beginning of 2017?

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Keep kids safe this holiday season

What’s your number one priority when picking out holiday gifts for little ones? Personally, I read tons of reviews to find out if it’s age-appropriate, if it’s well-made, and most of all, if it’s a fun toy. But I think I’ve been missing one of the most important considerations — the safety of the toy.

Pamela Pimentel, RN and CEO of MOMS Orange County, explains why I may want to reconsider my toy-purchasing mentality.

“In 2013, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimated that hospital emergency rooms across the country treated 256,700 toy-related injuries, with 73 percent of those injuries occurring among children under the age of 15. Nearly a third of these injuries happened to kids younger than 5 years of age. The most common injuries were lacerations, contusions or abrasions to the head and face area of children’s bodies.Fortunately, most of these injuries are avoidable.”

In honor of Safe Toys and Gifts Awareness Month, Pamela shares some simple ways to make your holiday purchases worry-free.

  • Check labels to ensure the toys you select passed a safety inspection. The designation “ATSM” means the toy has met the American Society for Testing and Materials standards.
  • Give protective gear with gifts of sports equipment. For example, give a helmet with a skateboard or bike.
  • Avoid toys with small pieces, including magnets and “button” batteries, which can cause severe injury or death if ingested. Young children put things in their mouths, increasing the risk of choking. If the piece can fit inside a toilet paper roll, it is not appropriate for kids younger than 3 years of age.
  • Pass up giving toys with ropes and cords or heating elements.
  • Inspect toys before purchasing them. Avoid items that shoot or include parts that fly off. Toys should not have sharp edges or points and should be sturdy enough to withstand impact without breaking, being crushed or being pulled apart easily.

In addition, Pamela points out some helpful websites that can point you in the right direction, including a safe toy checklist from Prevent Blindness and the U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s 29th Annual Survey of Toy Safety.

Here’s to a happy and safe holiday season!

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Last-minute gift fix (and it’s personal, too!)

If you’re like me and you’re suddenly realizing we’re one week away from Christmas Day, it’s time to pull the trigger on those last few gifts on your list. To make your last-minute shopping a little bit easier, here’s a fun, personal gift idea for friends or family. It’s called Macaroni Frames, and it’s a great alternative to sending flowers or chocolates. Instead, you can upload a favorite photo, select a frame and have it sent directly to your loved one.

I was introduced to Macaroni Frames at Club MomMe’s Fall Family Fest. I was super impressed with the beautiful presentation of the package. Check out my adorable frame!

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Today is the last day to order to guarantee your frame will arrive by Christmas. Happy shopping!