Pretend City – Kid Museum in Southern California

Pretend City Arts and Crafts 300x200 Pretend City   Kid Museum in Southern California

I grew up in Southern California – Riverside and Los Angeles area to be exact. But every time I’m home to visit family and friends, I realize how much of the area I didn’t explore while I lived there. Aren’t we all guilty of that? Living in Reno now I try to take advantage of the fact that I live so close to Tahoe, one of the most beautiful places in America. I don’t want to look back and wish I had spent more time outdoors in this beautiful place.

My favorite thing about visiting Southern California now is going there with my kids. Everything is different when you travel with your offspring. Disneyland, for example, is much more magical, and you uncover must-see things you never even knew existed.

One such fun discovery was Pretend City in Irvine.  The funny thing is one of my dear friends without kids told me about this place. My niece and daughter are within two months of one another, so planning family outings with my sister is easy and fun – we’re trying to entertain two girls of the same age, and they typically tire out around the same time. (The Child only lasted 2 hours at the museum before calling it quits.)

Pretend City is super affordable and tons of fun. As you would suspect (and hope) the entire museum is hands-on – from the arts and crafts room, to the grocery store, gas station and pretend farm, kids can touch, do and play wherever they like. For the older kids, they even learn the value of hard work. The more places you stamp your time card, the more money the ATM spits out!

Below are a few of my favorite photos from Pretend City. What’s your favorite kids museum?

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Pretend City Facepainting 300x200 Pretend City   Kid Museum in Southern California

Pretend City Grocery Store 300x200 Pretend City   Kid Museum in Southern California

 Pretend City   Kid Museum in Southern California
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Dude, Don’t Post That to Social Media!

It’s not pretty, but one of my favorite things to share with people when I teach social media workshops is this -

Trying to remove something you’ve posted to the Internet is like trying to remove pee from a swimming pool. It isn’t going to happen.

I remember speaking to soon-t0-be college graduates not too long ago. When I suggested they clean up their social profiles before they job hunt because guess what? Your employers are checking! I saw way too many eyes grow wide.

I really dig the infographic below. It acts as your devil’s advocate during the “Post or Not to Post” process.

Do you check yourself before posting or hit ‘click’ too often without thinking?

 Infographic courtesy of
120820FlowchartFINAL Dude, Dont Post That to Social Media!

 Dude, Dont Post That to Social Media!
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Kid-Friendly Summer Activities in Park City, Utah

Park City Barn 300x200 Kid Friendly Summer Activities in Park City, Utah

Earlier this summer our family drove to Park City, Utah for a summer adventure. If you’ve never considered this destination for a family vacation, I highly recommend it! We had an incredible time and all six children on the trip (ages newborn to 9 years) were well entertained.

Prior to taking off on our journey, I reached out to Melanie Webb of Sol Fit Adventures, and she was wonderful enough to send me a list of must-do, kid-friendly things in Park City. Melanie is fabulous and definitely your go-to gal for any type of outing in Utah. We didn’t get around to doing everything on Melanie’s list, but I’ve included it here to help you plan your own family trip!

      1. Ride the Alpine Slide at Park City Mountain Resort. (There are height restrictions for little kiddos.) The greatest thing about this ride is you control the speed of the slide, and you can double up with a child. Plus the views are incredible. Park City Mountain Resort also has tons of rides for kids and adults, including a rock climbing wall, carousel and zip lines.
        Kid rides park city 300x200 Kid Friendly Summer Activities in Park City, Utah kids rockwall park city 300x186 Kid Friendly Summer Activities in Park City, Utah
        utah olympic park 300x200 Kid Friendly Summer Activities in Park City, Utah
      2. Visit the Olympic Park – it’s fun, inspiring, and interactive. If you want to be completely blown away, get a peak inside the Olympic Training Center – it’s unreal. We caught the summer freestyle ski water show. INCREDIBLE. Video from our trip below.
      3. Catch a symphony on the lawn at the Deer Valley Resort. This was too close to bedtime for us so we didn’t do it, but it looked beautiful.
      4. For water sports, check out Jordanelle Reservoir (Melanie hears there are paddle boards for rent).
      5. For dining out with the kids, you must check out Zoom. It’s at the bottom of Main Street, has a beautiful outdoor patio and is incredibly kid-friendly despite how nice of a restaurant it is.
      6. Silly Sundays is a fun street festival in the heart of downtown Park City with crafters, food and live music. Great way to explore the city as you mill around.
        Silly sundays park city 300x200 Kid Friendly Summer Activities in Park City, Utah

 “If you have an extra day to explore outside of Park City, venture south to Sundance Resort in Provo Canyon, my absolute favorite spot in northern Utah. You can ride the lift up and hike down, go to a play at the amphitheater, take a jewelry or pottery making class, and enjoy a little more solitude there. Kids love the Heber Creeper, an old train that runs down the tracks next to the Provo River.” – Melanie Webb

 Kid Friendly Summer Activities in Park City, Utah

Book Review – Delivering Happiness & Finding Your Higher Purpose

I recently finished reading Delivering Happiness written by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh.

Now, I can’t stop talking about it, especially because I feel like the Universe is continuously reminding me of the book.

Exhibit A| I have a newborn baby so I’m more than behind on reading through my favorite blogs on my Google Reader. However, earlier this month I was compelled to click on Amy’s blog and low and behold she had written about the science of happiness. Thanks to Tony (apparently a friend of hers) she’s intrigued by the study of positive psychology. If you’re still reading this and remotely interested, be sure to check out this video she posted.

Exhibit B | A few weeks after reading this post, Baochi Nguyen (one of my favorite bloggers) posts on Facebook that she’s hosting a webinar via RingCentral featuring none other than Tony Hsieh. HELLO! I somehow managed to listen to the entire podcast while simultaneously wrangling my two children and making myself presentable for the day. If you missed the webinar, you can listen to it here.

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Exhibit C | My sister-in-law is launching her own business, and I’ve been busy these last few weeks helping her build her company’s website. Last night over dinner we started talking about social media (Twitter specifically) and I mentioned that I’d  just won my latest favorite book via Twitter. “Which one?” she asked. And just as I started on my tangent on why Delivering Happiness is such a great read she says, “My business coach just recommended that book!”

Sister, now that I’m getting a copy, I’ll make sure you read it. 

As Marianne Williamson said in A Woman’s Worth, 

A career grows out of who we are; who we are doesn’t grow out of a career.”

Whether you’re an entrepreneur or trying to find your calling in life, I recommend you read this book. It will inspire you and force you to not only identify your values, but more importantly determine if your personal values align with those of the company you’re building or working for. The questions aren’t easy, but if you have an answer, you’re more than on your way to carving out your own happy path in life.

  1. Are you working toward maximizing your happiness each day?
  2. What are your values?
  3. What are you passionate about?
  4. What inspires you?
  5. What is your goal in life?
  6. What is your higher purpose?

Every person took a different path to get here, but our paths managed to intersect.” – Tony Hsieh

 Book Review   Delivering Happiness & Finding Your Higher Purpose

On Being a “Real” Mom and Admitting You Need a Break

Newborn Baby BW 1024x1024 On Being a Real Mom and Admitting You Need a Break

“I wasn’t a good mom tonight. I need a break.”

I sent that text to my partner tonight, and I felt horrible as the thought entered my mind, as I typed it and even worse – as I sent it.

I had two fears throughout my pregnancy

  1. Not loving the baby as much as my toddler
  2. Losing my bond with my toddler

The first was never an issue. The moment I heard my daughter cry I fell in love, and my heart is overwhelming with love for both of my girls. The second fear, however, is my current reality.

A week before I gave birth to my baby an acquaintance told me, “Your relationship with your first child will change.”

Well no shit. Next you’ll tell me that C-sections suck and the Pope is Catholic.

But that was always really my biggest fear – not having the energy to maintain my special relationship with the Child. My partner and I have been so careful to say things like “Just a minute.” versus, “I can’t help you right now because I’m doing x, y, z with the baby.”

I’ve been the mother of two for four weeks and four days, and I need a break. Admitting this makes me feel like a failure. When I say I need a break, I don’t mean anything long – three hours to myself to sleep, recharge and spend a few quiet moments alone would do the trick. If I’m being 100% honest, an entire day – sun up to sun down – would be even better.

I’ve been blessed with the company of family and close friends since the birth of my daughter, with a few days throughout to myself to learn my new routine and enjoy my family. But today, I’m run down. I’m exhausted, and overwhelmed with guilt.

After a peaceful day at home, laughing, playing and reading quietly, the evening ended with the toddler defying me (once again). I expected her to act out when the baby came home, but I expected it to happen right away. Instead, it took two weeks, and she only acts out against me – mom – not dad.

Sleep deprived and frustrated, I sent her to bed with no dinner, I made her put her jammies on herself, and I didn’t even say goodnight or tell her I loved her. Oh, and she cried herself to sleep. (I’ll collect my Mother of the Year Award later.)

I’ve reached my new low in parenting.

I know this will get easier, and I know this phase will pass between the Child and me – but knowing all of this doesn’t make right now any easier.

As I’ve said before, I’m blessed with great friends and family. One friend in particular, who we’ll call “Kay”, is one of my “real” moms. She gives it to you straight, and you never feel guilty for admitting your parenting secrets (and failures) to her.

Recently she told me -

Part of being a good mom is worrying about how to be a better one.”

Why do we (I) put so much pressure on ourselves? I feel so guilty for putting my infant in her swing so I can have two minutes to myself. “I should be holding her,” I tell myself.

This is where “Kay” steps in.

The more I speak with REAL moms – the ones who tell the truth, haven’t showered and have given their children an Oreo once or twice – the more I realize that the first weeks/months are about shear survival. Then you start to get ‘the hang of it’. It’s hard when you take being a mommy seriously.”

I know it gets better, and I know the village that’s helping me raise my children is amazing and that I’m not alone (Let me be very clear that my partner has been and is an amazing support). But just for tonight, I’m going to be “real” and tell you I need a break, and I’m terrified that I’ve ruined my relationship with my toddler because of the terrible way her night ended.

 On Being a Real Mom and Admitting You Need a Break

Reno Tahoe Maternity Family Photo Shoot

I wasn’t planning on doing a maternity shoot for baby #2 until I realized late into my pregnancy that I had virtually no pictures with Manfriend and the Child + the bump.

I’m so glad we did. Mel of Underwood Photography did a beautiful job capturing our family’s spirit – it was perfect. If you live in Reno or Tahoe and need a photographer, it goes without saying we strongly recommend Underwood.

To check out more images for our shoot – head here.

Maternity Family Shoot Reno Tahoe Maternity Family Photo Shoot

Maternity shoot Reno Tahoe Maternity Family Photo Shoot

Maternity shoot balloons Reno Tahoe Maternity Family Photo Shoot

 Reno Tahoe Maternity Family Photo Shoot
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