Winter Fest 2016: Check Out So Cal’s Ultimate Winter Experience!

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post about Winter Fest 2016 on behalf of Gigasavvy. All opinions are my own.

Here in So Cal, we don’t really get a whole lot of winter. It gets cold (those of you reading anywhere east of us are probably laughing about our idea of “cold”) and occasionally we’ll even have to put on boots or tennis shoes instead of just wearing flip flops. So to say my kids haven’t really ever experienced winter is an understatement. That’s why I’m looking forward to taking them to Winter Fest 2016 at the the OC Fair & Event Center!

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My kids have never even been in real snow. A few years back, it did snow here in our town but it barely even covered the ground and was gone by the end of the day.

At Winter Fest 2016, they blow snow in daily and there will be enough of it for the kids to make their first snow angels, build a snowman, and even try snow tubing! Best of all, it’s included in the price of admission so you don’t have to pay extra for it!

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There’s even an ice skating ring so they can try out ice skating for the first time!

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There is a ton of attractions at Winter Fest 2016, and while the kids are excited about snow, I’ve got lots of other things I want to check out!

One thing we love to do as a family is look at Christmas lights. We bundle up in the car and drive around looking at all the decorations and lights. At the Festival of Lights, we’ll can stroll through a 2 million light illuminated pathway to explore 10 holiday themed lands. I think I’m most excited about this!

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And don’t judge me, but my kids have never been to a Tree Lighting Ceremony before (I actually haven’t either), so I’m really looking forward to seeing one. Every night at 5:30, you can watch the 30 foot tall Christmas tree light up!

And so much more to do: from the Candy Cane Carnival (Carnival tickets are $1. A pack of 16 tickets is $14 and a pack of 36 is $28. All carnival tickets sold onsite. An unlimited ride wristband is available online for $20,) to festive entertainment, seasonal eateries, to visits with Santa and so much more. Check out this video showing all the fun!

Additional Winter Fest 2016 Information

Kids 3 and under are free. parking is on site and $8 Season passes are also available. Get all the ticket info, dates of operation and hours here. Psst! Purchase your tickets online and use the promo code HOLIDAY to save $5!

Winter Fest 2016 Dates: December 16th thru January 1st

Winter Fest Located at: 88 Fair Dr, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Follow Winter Fest on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to keep up with all of the holiday fun So Cal style!

Sounds like a blast, right? I have a Family 4 pack of tickets for one lucky So Cal reader! Enter below and good luck! 

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My Life In Pictures: November 1 – 15, 2016

Over the past six months or so, twice a month I share my Instagram pictures since I can’t seem to find time to write! I call it My Life In Pictures. You can see all of my previous posts here.

Here’s what we’ve been up to this November…

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My little bookworm wanted me to preorder the newest Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Double Down. Of course he finished it really fast, and was so bummed that now he has to wait a year for the next one. I explained to him that’s the problem that people who love to read always face – we can’t wait to finish a book, but after we finish it, we don’t want it to end. Ethan’s very first book review via a vlog coming soon!

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Lila may be a little OCD – she separated all of her candy! I let it sit on the counter for a couple of days…she was not happy to come home from school and find it all back in the candy bowl. Are you ready to get rid of your candy? I shared 10 ways to get rid of Halloween candy.

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I got this amazing Moscow Mule gift set as a gift from thoughtfully.com. I loved their gift sets so much that I became an affiliate! They’ve got gifts for everybody in your life….from coworkers to friends and family. Whether you know somebody well or not, you’ll find a gift for them. Trust me.

And now through January 2017! You can save 20% off your purchase +  get free shipping using the code GIFT20. So get to shopping!

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My Lila wants to be a chef when she grows up, and she’s learning how to use a chef knife! My favorite is Rachael Ray’s Santoku Knife and I actually have the whole set. She hasn’t cut herself yet because I’m watching her like a hawk.

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Jason started playing soccer on a co-ed team. It’s a blast to watch, and the kids are having fun cheering him on.

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I just finished reading Victoria by Daisy Goodwin and I was left craving more! If you’re interested, you can read my review of the bookDaisy Goodwin has several other historical fiction novels, and I can’t wait to dive into The American Heiress next.

What have you been up to this month?

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Mommy of a Monster and Twins is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com and/or other affiliate sites.

Family Nicknames: We Have Over 80 Of Them!

I love Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop because I always get great ideas for stories to share or for fiction to write. This week, I read Prompt #6: Write a blog post inspired by the word: rust. As soon as I read it, for some reason I immediately thought of Rusty “Russ” Griswold from one of my all time favorite movies, Vacation.

Russell 'Rusty' Griswold from the movie Vacation, played by Anthony Michael Hall

The reason being is because we call my niece Nikki “Russ;” it’s one of her many nicknames. Long story for why we call her that, but let’s say it has something to do with this scene in the movie…

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Anyways, I’ve talked about nicknames before. In my very large family, we rarely call each other by our God-given names.

If you are ever to come over to one of our family get togethers, when I introduce you to my siblings, I’ll say something along the lines of “These are my sisters Angie and Heather, and these are my brothers David and Scott.” But that’s the last time you’d here me call them by their names. After that, I may refer to them as Fun 1, Hef, Junior, and Scooter or many, many other names. You’ll be totally confused.

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Hef, Fun 1, Pookums, Junior, and Scooter

Between my mom and dad, siblings, and all of our significant others and kids, a family get together is almost 30 people. Trying to remember all of our real names is hard — trying to also remember multiple nicknames is nearly impossible!

Last month, I group texted my family (we have an ongoing group text that we text each other on every day, all day) and asked them to help me come up with all of the nicknames we call each other just so I could show y’all how confusing it can get! We had fun thinking of them all, but then when I saw the writing prompt, I knew I was going to write about all of our nicknames. It’s fun, but it’ll also come in handy if you ever meet my big fat, crazy family.

Family Nicknames

My Dad (David): Pops, D.A., Big Headed Todd

My Mom (Linda): Gramma Gramma, Big Lin

Me (Natalie): Pookie, Pookums, Pook

Husband (Jason): Hoagie, Hoage

Ethan: E, T, Tater, T Nuts, E Money

Lila: YaYa, Ya, YaYa Bean

Mia: Badger, Badgie, Mia Mia Tortilla

Sister (Angie): Fun 1, Ang, Chrissy

BIL (Brian): Uncle B, Lads, Ladnier

Niece (Alexis): Lex, Sparky, Kitten

Niece (Nicolette): Neen, Neener, Russ, Uggers

Niece (Sydney): Bean, Beansie, D Bird

Nephew (Aaron): A-A ron, A Fons

Sister (Heather): Hef, Heifer, Hefernan

Niece (Hailey): Boogerman, Boog, Haney

Nephew (Ryan): Fuzz, Fizzle, Fizzle McPimpin

Nephew (Caleb): K-Luv, Beeper, My Man, Big P

Niece (Davi): Sugar, Bear

Brother (David): Junior, Junior Nuts, Cliffy

SIL (Samantha): Spammerton, Spam, Sam, Sam-u-el, Samuel

Nephew (Kannon): Kan Man, Kalhoun, Sandy

Nephew (Karter): Kartier, Karter Farter, Curlie

Niece (TBD): #16 (Not even here yet and she already has a nickname. She’ll be the 16th grandchild!)

Brother (Scott): Scooter, Scoot, Scooterlicious, Walter, Walt, Schmitty, S C O Double T

SIL (Danielle): Danny-elle, Daniel, Dando

Niece (Presley): P, Baby P, Princess P

Niece (Sawyer): #15

A-aron, Sparky, Beansie, Russ, Badger, Cartier, Tater, Kan Man, K Luv, Haney, Fuzz, Sugar, Baby P and Ya Ya

That’s 82 nicknames that we use for each other interchangeably. We also may shorten the nicknames, which creates new names, which makes it even more difficult to figure out who we’re talking about. We’ve decided that’s why we all hang out together instead of with other people…it’s just too confusing to keep up with us!

But if you are lucky enough (or unfortunate enough) to become a part of this big crazy family, chances are you’ll be given a nickname too! Big shout out to Papa Jeep, Sweet D, Bincey, Too Tall, B-ER-EN-DA!, Shawnie and Con, Mr. Bubbles, Gramma Rufus, Tommy Pants, Rodger Dodger, Big Don, Share-Bear, and many others who have been given nicknames by the Allens. You’re welcome.

Do you use nicknames in your family?

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Victoria by Daisy Goodwin ::Book Review::

Disclaimer: This is an advertisement for SheSpeaks/St. Martins Press.  I received this book in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own.

Although I don’t have as much free time as I’d like, one thing I still make time for is reading. I am a bookworm and always have been. Luckily Ethan has also picked up my love of reading, and we have read many books together, including some of my favorites from when I was a kid.

If you like historical fiction, Victoria by Daisy Goodwin is a must read! Victoria reigns for 63 years, has 9 children, and a fairy tale love with her husband Albert. Couldn't put it down!

I’m also a huge fan of historical fiction. I love being taken back to a time and place that I’ve never been – to situations I’ll never be in myself. Where I can learn about history and the ways people lived. When manners and traditions mattered. Where appearances and family connections were everything. I love reading the Brontë sisters, Lisa See, and Jane Austen. And now, I can add Daisy Goodwin to the list. I am currently reading Victoria by Daisy Goodwin, and I cannot put it down!

Victoria Overview

Goodreads says,

In 1837, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria – sheltered, small in stature, and female – became Queen of Great Britain and Ireland. Many thought it was preposterous: Alexandrina — Drina to her family — had always been tightly controlled by her mother and her household, and was surely too unprepossessing to hold the throne. Yet from the moment William IV died, the young Queen startled everyone: abandoning her hated first name in favor of Victoria; insisting, for the first time in her life, on sleeping in a room apart from her mother; resolute about meeting with her ministers alone.  One of those ministers, Lord Melbourne, became Victoria’s private secretary. Perhaps he might have become more than that, except everyone argued she was destined to marry her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. But Victoria had met Albert as a child and found him stiff and critical: surely the last man she would want for a husband….  Drawing on Victoria’s diaries as well as her own brilliant gifts for history and drama, Daisy Goodwin, author of the bestselling novels The American Heiress and The Fortune Hunter as well as creator and writer of the new PBS/Masterpiece drama Victoria, brings the young queen even more richly to life in this magnificent novel.”

I also love to read historical fiction is because I’m taken into another world, totally foreign to me. In Victoria, I get to see what it’s like to become a queen through a young girl’s eyes. Goodwin captures this view drawing from Queen Victoria’s diaries, which she first started reading when she was a student at Cambridge University. She brings the young nineteenth-century monarch to life; Victoria would reign for 63 years, have 9 children and a fairy tale love with her husband Albert. Victoria takes us to the early years of the Victorian era, a place that I didn’t know much about before starting to read the book.

If you like historical fiction, Victoria by Daisy Goodwin is a must read! Victoria reigns for 63 years, has 9 children, and a fairy tale love with her husband Albert. Couldn't put it down!

Book Review: Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

Imagine this: You turn eighteen and within a month’s time, you are awoken early one morning with the news that your uncle William IV has died and that you are now Queen of England; Queen of the world’s greatest nation. How would you handle the news? Would you be excited or terrified? Talk about pressure!

That’s why I loved Victoria by Daisy GoodwinWe get to see her grow not only in years but in maturity and wisdom. And this queen will not be told what to do. The men who run the country (and even her own mother) have doubts about whether this young woman, who isn’t even five feet tall, can take on such a huge responsibility.

Yet despite her age, she knows exactly the kind of queen she plans to be. One of her first decisions has to do with her name: “I do not like the name Alexandrina,” she proclaims. “From now on I wish to be known only by my second name, Victoria.”

Victoria learns quickly whom she can and can’t trust. Lord Melbourne, the prime minister, is the first person that believes in her and he helps her learn how to be a queen.  As she learns to be queen she is also being pressured to marry. She’s not interested in marrying, but she does end up marrying Prince Albert.

Here’s what Amanda Foreman, British/American biographer and historian, said about the book:

“Victoria is an absolutely captivating novel of youth, love, and the often painful transition from immaturity to adulthood. Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria’s story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit.”

If you like historical fiction, Victoria by Daisy Goodwin is a must read! Victoria reigns for 63 years, has 9 children, and a fairy tale love with her husband Albert. Couldn't put it down!

Thoughts on Victoria

There were times that I felt bad for Victoria because of how her mother treated her (she wasn’t even allowed her own room; up until she become queen she slept in her mother’s room) but other times I thought she was stubborn, extremely unpleasant, and arrogant. But I guess as a ruler, those are qualities that you must have to get things done.

I enjoyed hating Conroy, who along with Victoria’s mother, tried to control everything she did. I wanted to high five Victoria every time she  got the upper hand on him!

I really enjoyed this book. When I had about 50 more pages to go I started dragging my feet because I don’t want it to end!

If you like historical fiction, Victoria by Daisy Goodwin is a must read. Victoria reigns for 63 years, has 9 children, and a fairy tale love with her husband Albert. Couldn't put it down!

Goodwin spiraled me back into the Victorian age and I loved the ride. Certain parts of the story were intense – I wanted to read “just one more page” and then “just one more chapter.” That to me makes for a fantastic novel. Victoria was a complicated woman who grew up dealing with responsibilities and issues that I can’t even imagine having to deal with. I had fun getting to know her and her world.

About Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

Daisy Goodwin is also the creator and writer of the new PBS/Masterpiece drama Victoria (catch it in January 2017) and author of the bestselling novels The American Heiress and The Fortune Hunter. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Sounds like a fun ride, doesn’t it? You can preorder Victoria on Amazon or at Barnes and Noble today! Otherwise you’ll find it everywhere November 22nd.

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin now holds a place as one of my all time favorite reads. What are some of your favorites?

If you like historical fiction, Victoria by Daisy Goodwin is a must read. Victoria reigns for 63 years, has 9 children, and a fairy tale love with her husband Albert. Couldn't put it down!

Natalie’s Bookshelf: All Time Favorites

Victoria
it was amazing
tagged:
all-time-favorites
Love You When You Whine
it was amazing
tagged:
all-time-favorites and childhood
And the Mountains Echoed
really liked it
tagged:
all-time-favorites
The Storyteller
it was amazing
tagged:
all-time-favorites
The Fault in Our Stars
it was amazing
tagged:
all-time-favorites

 


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5 Healthy Sleep Tips + A Chance To Win An Amazon Gift Card!

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by the National Sleep Foundation as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. All opinions expressed in my post are my own.

If you can't fall asleep, toss and turn all night, or can't sleep throughout the night, these 5 healthy sleep tips will ensure a restful night of sleep.

Sigh. Prioritizing sleep. Easier said than done, right? I’m one of those moms who choses to stay up late just to get some alone time to unwind and watch an episode of Real Housewives or catch up on a show that the kids can’t watch. But back in June I started Weight Watchers, one of the things I started doing was going to bed earlier and getting more sleep. I couldn’t believe how much better I felt getting rested sleep!

And then I kinda fell off the wagon, and started staying up later and having a glass of wine after the kids went to bed. I noticed that I’d lay down and not even be able to fall asleep, or that I would wake up for no reason at 3 AM, and wasn’t able to fall back asleep for more than an hour (and usually longer than that.)

If you suffer from insomnia (meaning you can’t fall asleep, or fall asleep but toss and turn) you are not alone. Approximately ten percent of the adult U.S. population experiences symptoms consistent with the diagnosis of insomnia.

I wanted to share some healthy sleep tips I found at the National Sleep Foundation. They provide great resources for people like me who are suffering from sleep issues (i.e. insomnia, narcolepsy, cataplexy and more.) You’ll also find out how to start a conversation with your doctor if you’re having sleep issues and need to determine how to get a better night’s sleep.

These 5 healthy sleep tips have made a huge difference in helping me fall asleep fast and sleep all night long. I feel energized in the morning instead of tired, have more energy throughout the day, and feel rested and relaxed instead of sluggish.

If you can't fall asleep, toss and turn all night, or can't sleep throughout the night, these 5 healthy sleep tips will ensure a restful night of sleep.

5 Healthy Sleep Tips

Exercise – Yep, after I quit walking regularly is when I also started staying up later. I got back into my lazy routine, and exercise stopped being a priority. And since I was staying up late, I also was tired…too tired to exercise. It’s a vicious cycle!

Exercising is so good for your body and mind. It relieves stress and helps keep you healthy. We should strive to get 60 minutes of exercise a day, and I know what you’re thinking…when do I have an hour to exercise? If you make it a priority, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to find an hour.

If you can't fall asleep, toss and turn all night, or can't sleep throughout the night, these 5 healthy sleep tips will ensure a restful night of sleep.

It doesn’t have to be a straight hour of exercise, you can break it up. Take a quick walk during your lunch break. Instead of driving to pick up the kids from school, walk. Play outside with the kids after school. Talk a family walk. Consider getting a Fitbit and try to get 10,000 steps a day.

The National Sleep Foundation says that vigorous exercise is best, but light exercise is better than no activity. Whatever you do, it counts.

Be Comfy When You Sleep – Is your room too hot? Too cold? Ideal sleeping temperatures are between between 60 and 67 degrees. It should be quiet (I wear Drift To Sleep earplugs to cancel out Jason’s snoring,) but if you’re a person who needs some noise to fall asleep, try a white noise machine or download white noise for sleep music/sounds.

If you can't fall asleep, toss and turn all night, or can't sleep throughout the night, these 5 healthy sleep tips will ensure a restful night of sleep.

Also make sure you have a comfortable mattress and pillows. We both sleep on a  MyPillow and we LOVE them! You can adjust MyPillow to your exact individual needs regardless of sleep position. I recommend these pillows for sure!

Avoid alcohol and heavy meals in the evening – Two of my favorite things that I’d put together at 9 PM after the kids went to sleep! It’s amazing how much better you’ll sleep just by not eating and drinking late into the evening. No large meals for two to three hours before bedtime. Need a snack before bed? Have one of these light snacks 45 minutes before bed.

Avoid Electronics Before Bed – I’m guilty of this one, too. As I watch TV, drink my wine, and eat my junk food, I would also be on my phone on social media. What I didn’t know is that electronic devices can make it hard to fall asleep, because the type of light that emanates from the screens is activating to the brain.

If you can't fall asleep, toss and turn all night, or can't sleep throughout the night, these 5 healthy sleep tips will ensure a restful night of sleep.

You need time to wind down, so do something relaxing like reading or yoga. Yoga For Stress Relief is my favorite DVD. It has yoga programs for both morning and night that are either invigorating or relaxing.

Avoid Naps – Napping always sounds like a great way to catch some extra sleep, but they can actually hurt your ability to sleep at night. No more naps and go to bed at the same time each night – you’ll be surprised how much better you’ll sleep!

You’ll find more healthy sleep tips and other resources for a better night’s sleep at National Sleep Foundation. Be sure to follow the National Sleep Foundation on Facebook and Twitter to get more tips and learn more about the importance of healthy sleep. Beyondtired.org is another great resource. It helps inspire people suffering from insomnia to reach better sleep. Sleep.org also is dedicated to teaching us the benefits of positive sleep health.

Healthy sleep doesn’t have to be hard to get…you just have to know what to do to get it! What healthy sleep tips work for you?

If you can't fall asleep, toss and turn all night, or can't sleep throughout the night, these 5 healthy sleep tips will ensure a restful night of sleep.

Healthy Sleep Tips GIVEAWAY!

Guess what? I have a fantastic giveaway to share with you that’s just in time for the holidays! Enter now through November 23rd for a chance to win one of SIX Amazon Gift Cards! National Sleep Foundation is giving away (5) $100 Amazon e-gift cards and one Grand Prize $250 Amazon e-gift card. Good luck!

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National Sleep Foundation Giveaway

I-C will randomly select winners from all program entries and will facilitate fulfillment of the winning prizes (6 winners).

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Mommy of a Monster and Twins is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com and/or other affiliate sites. If you purchase any items through these links, I will get a few pennies as a thank you and you will still get the same low price! Thanks for supporting Mommy of a Monster.