Mazda Family Day

Over the summer, D’s office moved to a fancy brand new building, just down the street.  A few weeks ago, they had a family day where employees could show off the new digs.

There was a photographer in the lobby so we could take a family picture.

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Blingy elevator

I was glad to see that one of the baristas was there and that the coffee bar was open.  We had a vanilla cold brew and an iced latte.  The kids had real hot chocolate (not the powdered stuff).  Unlimited free coffee drinks seems dangerous to me, but D is happy to take advantage of it while he can.

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Nice place to enjoy said coffee.  They are very close to the Irvine Spectrum, as you can see.

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Nice view of the urban sprawl that is Orange County.  n’s hands look really big in this picture!

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D whistling while he (pretends to) work.  They have flex workspaces, so employees do not have a cubicle to call their own. However, most people are creatures of habit, so they end up in the same space anyway.

This sign made me laugh.  We never had this at my law firm!

This is where D stores his lunch and heats it up if he brings it.

Loved all of the furniture.  I told D that they ever get rid of it, we’ll take it for our house!

Family Day was a nice opportunity for the kids (and me) to develop a better idea of where D spends the vast majority of his time during the week.  We also enjoyed the refreshments (pastries, fruit, etc.) and swag (hats, notebooks, travel mugs, etc.)!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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5th Not So Annual Small Group Camping Trip

The last weekend before school started, our family organized a camping trip with our small group at San Mateo Campground, near San Clemente Beach.  We were able to snag the group site, which ended up being huge!  We only had five families that were able to go, so there was plenty of space to spread out.

As mentioned in my Coola sunscreen post, we went to San Clemente Beach in the afternoon.

For dinner, we kept it simple with hot dogs and chili.  However, when we returned to our campsite, we discovered that some squirrels had eaten two hot dog buns and an ENTIRE package of King’s Hawaiian Rolls.

To go along with the large campsite, there was a huge grill!

In the morning, I had everyone try some Veggie-Go’s and Dave’s Killer Bread from my sampling opportunities.

We packed up, did a little shopping at the Rainbow Sandal Outlet, and then went to lunch at Hapa J’s in San Clemente.

This Loco Moco was ordered by someone else, but D wanted a picture of it.

D and I shared “Da Biggest Plate” and the kids shared a chicken katsu plate.

Everything was really good, and the restaurant was big enough to accommodate our large party.  Fun weekend!

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Building Homes in Baja

Last month, D and I had the privilege of going to Baja California, Mexico, for a home-building missions trip with our church.  This was my second time (last time was in 2013), and D’s seventh or so time (I have lost count).

The drive down takes about seven hours.  It is about the same as going to Northern California for us, but in the opposite direction of course.  At the border crossing, our van was subjected to a search.  The van was put through a giant x-ray machine of sorts and scanned, but nothing objectionable was found.  Phew.

Only D brought his phone on the trip, so I put him in charge of pictures.

We rode in separate vans.  D was the navigator for his van.

The group always stops for lunch at Costco in Ensenada.  Interesting that they have lasagna.  We stick to the pizza and hot dogs, and everything tastes exactly the same as in the U.S.

Our first dinner was at “Red Bowl” taco stand.

That is not its official name, but you can see how the nickname came about.

We ate very well during the week, and I am happy to report there were no gastrointestinal issues!

The firepit at the base camp was our gather place.  We had a devotional there every morning to remind us why we were there.

When we first arrived at the worksite, there was a concrete slab and lumber.  D and I were on different worksites, but they were fairly close together.  D was the roof supervisor for his house.

It is truly amazing to see how fast the house can go up with teamwork.

Mango paleta break!

When you see the living conditions of the families we build for, it is heartbreaking.

This family welcomed a new baby just a few days before we arrived!

My favorite day is dedication, where we make the house a home and present the keys to the families.

Notice the Mazda jacket on the bed?  D thought it would be a nice donation since it had the Mexico flag on one sleeve and the Japan flag on the other–haha.

During our free time, we went to the nearby beach.  It is amazing how access to the coast is free–no $15 parking fees!

We ate one of our dinners at Papa Ruben’s.

I was able to split a torta with D.  Bread tasted good after having so many tortillas!

We also visited IDT ministries and learned about all of the trade schools that are providing training and hope to the people in the area.  This is “The Dome”.

Going to Baja is always an eye-opening experience.  It is exciting to see God at work.  I cannot wait until k and n are old enough to go and we will be able to serve together as a family!

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Wonder Mop Makes Fall Cleaning Fun For Kids!

I have to admit, with the recent heat wave, the last thing I felt like doing was cleaning our house.  However, today, (Labor Day), we experienced significantly cooler weather.  Since I did not have work and the kids did not have school, it was the perfect day to test out our new Libman Company Wonder Mop.

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Even though it is not technically fall yet, I always associate fall cleaning with going back to school and a fresh new start.  Once the kids go back to school, more dirt seems to be tracked into the house.  We have been in school for a couple of weeks now, so…time for fall cleaning!

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We bought our Libman Wonder Mop at Walmart.  It can also be found at Home Depot and Lowes.

According to the instructions, the Wonder Mop works on Wood & Laminate, Vinyl & Linoleum, Ceramic Tile, Marble and Stone.  Using the Wonder Mop is an simple three step process that was very easy for my kids to follow.

  1. Soak 5 minutes in hot water.  It is nice not having to add any other cleaning solution!

2.  Push sleeve down and twist 4 times.  This rids the mop of excess water.

3.  Pull sleeve up, snap into place, and mop.

(My kids were literally arguing about who should do it first because it seemed like such a fun job–no joke!)

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First, we tried the Wonder Mop out on our laminate flooring.

We also tried the Wonder Mop on our tile entryway.

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The Wonder Mop worked “wonders” on both types of flooring.  The Microfiber Gripstrips did a great job of lifting dirt off of our floors.  It might be gross, but I always find it satisfying to see all of the gray water that ends up in the bucket after a good mopping.  When we finished, we easily removed the mop head and washed it by hand.  (It can also be thrown in the washing machine.)

You can grab a $3 off coupon to purchase your own Wonder Mop by signing up for The Libman Company newsletter!

I’m also excited to announce that The Libman Company is hosting a Back to School Pinterest Giveaway.  Participating is easy–just pin your must-have cleaning products and enter to win a Libman prize pack.  I am a big fan of giveaways and Libman Company products, so I will have my fingers crossed!

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Tanaka Farms Watermelon Tour

We have been to Tanaka Farms on numerous occasions, either in the spring for the strawberry tours or in the fall, for the pumpkin tours.  I won tickets to the farm a while back, but I wanted to hold onto them until the summer so we could go on the watermelon tour for the first time.

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D had been looking for a straw hat to wear for our housebuilding mission in Baja.  When we were browsing the gift shop, they had a nice selection for a reasonable price.  Sold!

While we were on the tractor tour, we tried many freshly picked vegetables, including sweet corn.

All of the tour guides have been friendly, knowledgeable and enthusiastic.  This one was no exception.

We stopped and sat under a tent to taste various melons.  This yellow watermelon had a slight pineapple taste.  It is not widely available because it is fragile and difficult to ship.  n did not really care for it, but he is not a huge watermelon fan in general.  The rest of us really enjoyed it, though.  So refreshing!

At the end of the tour, we each went home with a watermelon.  One boy kept dropping his.  “Hold onto your watermelon!”

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Pea Soup Andersens: Santa Nella

We have been up and down I-5 countless times, but had never stopped in at Pea Soup Andersens.  This past summer, we finally tried the food at this iconic road stop.

Not many restaurants can say that they have been around for close to 100 years!

Of course, we had to try the famous pea soup in a bread bowl.  I liked how the toppings came separately so you could customize your own bowl.  We all enjoyed this.

I also wanted to try the Monte Cristo sandwich.  I think the only other place that I have ordered this is at Disneyland.  I would definitely suggest splitting this entrée with others, as it is decadent.  The raspberry jam provides a nice sweet counterpoint to the ham/cheese.

D ordered the club sandwich, was pretty good as club sandwiches go.  Even though D was skeptical about only ordering two entrees and a soup, it turned out that it was plenty to sustain the four of us on the rest of our trip up the I-5.

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Veggie Go’s: Great For On The Go Snacking

 

 I received this product for free from Moms Meet (momsmeet.com) to use and post my honest opinions. Compensation for this post was provided and this page may contain affiliate links.

Both the kids and I are big fans of fruit snacks.  I keep them in stock for lunches, road trips, and passing out after soccer/basketball games for team snacks.  Therefore, I was excited to have the opportunity to try Veggie-Go’s, which are like fruit snacks, but they have the added nutritional benefit of including vegetables in the ingredients.

Veggie-Go’s come in individual size packets of strips or bites.

The strips come in a variety of unique flavors, including:

*Berry, Apple+Spinach

*Sweet Potato, Apple+Spices

*Carrot, Apple + Ginger

*Tropical Fruit + Kale

The bites come in three flavors:

*Strawberry, Chia+Beets

*Berry, Rice Crisps+Greens

*Orange, Cocoa Nibs+Carrots

My kids were somewhat skeptical about how these products would taste since they are not used to vegetables in their fruit snacks.  The clear favorite flavor-wise was the Strawberry, Chia+Beets Bites.  I am not a big fan of beets myself, but the strawberry flavor prevails, and the chia adds a nice little crunch.

The flavors with the green vegetables were a little harder sell with the kids.  Just like when I try to sneak spinach or kale into a smoothie, there is a distinct aroma and a little aftertaste.  However, I can honestly say that I enjoyed all of the flavors!  I also appreciated how the ingredient list is simple and healthy.  Each strip/bag of bites contains one half cup of fruits and veggies.

We brought these snacks along on a recent camping trip with friends.  Veggie-Go’s would be perfect to take along a hike or anywhere that you need portable energy.  They can be found at local stores, including Sprouts and Whole Foods.

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Marvel Universe Live! Age of Heroes @ Staples Center

Contrary to all of my recent posts about Alaska, we did do other things during our summer vacation.  I was able to obtain free tickets to the Marvel Universe Live show at Staples Center, so we went on a Sunday afternoon.

I was not sure what to expect.  There was a loose plotline and lots of pretend fighting.

We have never watched Guardians of the Galaxy, so we were not too familiar with these characters.

The aerial acrobatics were pretty impressive.

I think n enjoyed the show the most, which is understandable since I am pretty sure he was the target audience.  D and I realized how many superhero movies we have not seen in the past few years.  We need to catch up!

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Keeping Cool With Coola Sunscreen

“I received this product for free from Moms Meet (momsmeet.com) to use and post my honest opinions. Compensation for this post was provided and this page may contain affiliate links.”

We all know that sunscreen is important for protecting your skin.  Even when it is not necessarily sunny outside, we still make sure to put on sunscreen.

Last weekend, we went on an overnight camping trip with friends.  We went to San Mateo campground and visited San Clemente State Beach.

I made sure to pack the Coola Guava Mango Eco-Lux Sport SPF 50 sunscreen spray that was recently sent to me to sample.  I had never heard of this brand before, but it contains vitamins and antioxidants.  Maybe even more importantly, it does not contain parabens, paba and phthalates.  It is water-resistant for 80 minutes, which is always important for beach outings.  I was very curious about the Guava Mango scent, since I am not used to my sunscreen smelling fruity.

It turns out that these girls really liked it.  (The matching swimsuits were just a coincidence, by the way!)  The scent was tropical and refreshing, but not overbearing.  I think more sunscreens should be made to smell good.  It was easy to apply, absorbed quickly and did not feel greasy.

Coola has an entire line of sun-safe products, and the packaging has a luxe-feel.  I would recommend this line to anyone looking for sun protection with natural ingredients that is better for both you and the environment.

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Yummy Nutrition: Yummi Bear Organics Complete Multi-Vitamins + Slice of Life Organics Energy + B12 Vitamins

I received this product for free from Moms Meet (momsmeet.com) to use and post my honest opinions. Compensation for this post was provided and this page may contain affiliate links.

When I was a kid, vitamins were chalky and awful-tasting.  Although they came in fun shapes, taking Flintstones and Smurf vitamins everyday was a chore.  I also had to take iron pills at one point that were so gross, my mom let me eat a few Skittles as a chaser!

Fast-forward a decade to the invention of gummy vitamins.

The Hero Nutritionals Yummi Bear Organics Complete Multi-Vitamin is the first and only organic and GMO-free gummy vitamin for kids with no artificial ingredients.  These mascot bears are wearing 20th Anniversary Celebration t-shirts, so the company has been around a while.  That is something to celebrate!

Because there are no artificial colors, the vitamins do not look like regular gummy bears.  The kids thought that the adult Slice of Life Organics Energy + B12 looked more appealing.  However, upon tasting the Yummi Bear vitamins, they were pleased with the sweet fruity taste.  I also appreciate that these vitamins are peanut/tree nut free without any “may contain nuts” disclaimers since our kids are allergic to nuts.  I try to provide my kids with all of the nutrients they need through their food intake, but I think vitamins are a good “back-up”.  These vitamins contain 16 essential nutrients for growth and development, and I feel good about giving them to my kids.

I tried the Slice of Life Organics Energy + B12 vitamins, which contains B12, along with folic acid and B6.  According to the company, this combination supports heart and circulatory health as well as energy metabolism.  These gummy vitamins taste like a little treat, and extra energy is always a good thing.  I would definitely be interested in trying the Slice of Life Multivitamin in the future.  The Hero Nutritionals line can be found at Ralph’s and Sprouts, two of my regular places to shop.

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