raised by culture

raised by culture: May 2013

Monday, May 27, 2013

Welcome To The New Age: Wi-Fi Cameras #PixBundle

It has been years since I shopped for a new camera.  I didn't even know smart cameras existed!  I have  a couple issues when it comes to using my dslr camera - my biggest issue is that it is heavy and bulky.  I have been traveling recently and while I love traveling and my dslr, sometimes I wish I had a more compact camera.  I think I hold back from taking more pictures because I don't want to drag it around.  It is a huge responsibility.  I would love to have a good camera living in my purse for those everyday moments!  My other issue is that my sons always want to use my camera.  My 16 year old loves photography and my 7 year old loves making videos.  Sorry not sorry but mommy's camera is her camera.  My resolution was just to go out and buy a new camera - one that had wi-fi, long zoom and works well in low light.

Our happy medium would be a camera that was a step up from our cellphones and right below my dslr quality - I immediately looked at Samsung smart cameras because I get compliments from my pictures on Instagram.  The reactions I get when I tell people my black & white shots are from my Samsung Galaxy Reverb is priceless.  

I found two Samsung bundles at Sam's Club - the WB800F had an instant savings of $30 and at a price tag of $249.88 - how could I walk away - it was coming home with me!  I was super excited to check out the Wi-Fi feature especially when I'm at an event and can't quite zoom in with my phone.  It would also bring me so much happiness if Duke wouldn't hand me his old camera with a full memory card.  With this new camera I could teach him how to upload his review videos right to YouTube. 

The Samsung Smart Camera WB800F bundle includes an 8GB SD Card and Camera Case      
Samsung #PixBundle
This is definitely what caught my attention - 21x Optical zoom, WiFi Connectivity and Hybrid Touch Screen!
Samsung #PixBundle

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

It Happened To Me: Searching For Our Family After the Moore, OK Tornado

You know when you see a tragedy and you think... oh those poor families.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think today, I'd be sitting in their shoes.  I don't wish having to call hospitals to find missing loved ones on anyone.  It is the absolute worst to gather the courage to punch in the number, wait for someone to pick up and then blurt out, "I'm in California and looking for family that may have been tornado victims".  My sister and I crowd sourced on our social networks (thank you friends and strangers for sharing), we checked the Safe and Well site with no results, I called four OKC area hospitals and finally my local Red Cross.

During this all, I kept thinking about my dad who just celebrated his 60th Birthday on Sunday and now having to search for his older brother that he just reconnected with earlier this year.  In the midst of it all, I felt overwhelmed and helpless - the girl that usually has all the answers had none.  I compared a map of my uncle's address to a map of the tornado destruction area and cried.  I dozed off on the couch.  I woke up a couple hours later and checked the Safe and Well site again, still no results.

And then my sister messaged me some six hours later (the longest six hours ever - aside from childbirth) that someone our aunt works with said they are okay.  THANK GOD!  At this time we still haven't heard from them but now we know they are alive and well.

I have some tips to share in case something like this happens to you:

  • Remain calm
  • Crowd Source - Share information on your social networks, people want to help
  • Call area hospitals - If you are in another state, you can source this information from News sites
  • Check American Red Cross Safe and Well site - Check it every hour
  • Contact your local Red Cross - Ask to speak to someone in Disaster Services
  • Check Facebook for groups - A friend pointed out a group called Moore Tornado Lost and Found
  • After 24 hours contact Red Cross (800) RED-CROSS / (800) 733-2767
And then get yourself a drink.  You deserve it.    

 Mango Margarita to the rescue
The recovery is going to be long, hard and costly - you can help by donating or purchasing items where proceeds will be sent to Oklahoma.  This is not an ad - I love Hello Apparel and think they stepped up to the cause.

Major props to OKC Thunder star Kevin Durant for donating 1M to the Red Cross as well as OKC Thunder.

HUGE THANKS to all my friends and strangers that helped out today by sharing on their social networks, checking on me and sending their prayers and well wishes.  Our family appreciates you all and I am sending lots of love and light.

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Wummelbox Review - Arts & Crafts Subscription For Kids

Time Travel Wummel Box
We had the opportunity to review the new subscription arts & crafts box for kids from Wummelbox!  The box is from Berlin and just launched in the US!  Each Wummelbox is based on a particular theme and includes all the materials needed plus instructions for a child to create 3-4 projects.  All projects promote creativity and support a range of developmental skills such as feelings, senses, language, thinking and movement/motor skills and all activities are designed and tested by early childhood educators, designers and parents!  It is designed to educate children ages 3-8!

If you aren't sold yet - All Wummelbox materials meet the highest European and U.S. standard for toys and is eco-friendly when possible.

The box arrived and sat in my mail mountain for about a week before we finally got to it.  The anticipation was driving Duke crazy and he kept insisting we do an unboxing video.  That didn't happen but what did happen was a lot of me explaining what a subscription was and he was SOLD on getting a box every month of surprise goodies.  I absolutely loved what I saw when I opened our Time Travel Wummelbox - everything is branded (unlike some other subscriptions we've tried in the past) and sorted into sections:  A Stone Age story, Cave painting, Hunter and gatherer and Time machine.  We immediately wanted to make the Time machine which is a board with knobs and stickers.  Duke could have painted it but he didn't want to and I agree, the natural wood look gives it a better feel.
When he was done, he kept asking me where we wanted to go and we both agreed on visiting the dinosaurs!  Putting everything together took Duke about 15 minutes but we were busy with it for a good couple hours.  I'm pretty much in love with Wummelbox - very high quality products, creative, love the branding and activities.

Wummelbox 1 month subscription is $34.95, 3 month subscription is $24.95 per month and 12 month subscription is $19.95 per month
Time Travel Wummel Box Time Travel Wummel Box Time Travel Wummel Box Time Travel Wummel Box Time Travel Wummel Box Time Travel Wummel Box Time Travel Wummel Box
Time Travel Wummel Box Time Travel Wummel Box Time Travel Wummel Box Time Travel Wummel Box Time Travel Wummel Box Time Travel Wummel Box Time Travel Wummel Box Time Travel Wummel Box
Duke loved it and is begging for another box - I was happy he laid around and was busy for a couple hours instead of being glued to Minecraft!
Time Travel Wummel Box
Disclosure: I received a Wummelbox for review purposes. All thoughts are my own.

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Monday, May 20, 2013

Discovering style at Sears #ThisisStyle

Summer is almost here and it is definitely my second best season to dress for... I love shopping for dresses!  I live in dresses the minute the sun is out and temps hit 76 degrees!  Dresses are an affordable fashion piece that you can pair up with something you already have and then go out and buy accessories to dress up your outfit!  Earlier this month I went to SoFabCon (an amazing blogger and brand conference by Collective Bias) and in chatting with friends found out some good looking outfits were totally from Sears.  I really couldn't believe it, Sears fashion stepped it up.  I haven't shopped at a Sears store in years.  I was under the impression it was a man's store - it was where men went to get their tools!

With Memorial Day around the corner, I needed to get a pair of good sunglasses for all the fun shindigs.  My optometrist tells me all the time that I need to protect my eyes with sunglasses but have I listened to him?  No.  For the sake of fashion and my husband hounding me to get a pair... Yes.  I had the perfect pair in mind.  Big and cheetah print!  Maybe even a pair of cute sandals... I've been hunting for a fun shade of blue!

Not only did I find my perfect sunglasses but they were 30% off!  I also found another pair of cute sunglasses that I had to have and 2 pairs of earrings - all of that for $60 and I got rewards by using my Shop Your Way Rewards Card!  SCORE!  I am going to look so cute accessorizing up my outfits this Memorial Day!

I am totally flaunting how awesome my Sears is... The American flag and palm trees... Southern California doesn't get any better than this!  This one is at Buena Park Downtown - I love my city!
Sears #ThisisStyle
So the entrance we just randomly chose to park next to was the men's department.  Wah!  Show me the fashion!
And then I found the shoe section!!!
Sears #ThisisStyle Sears #ThisisStyle
Oh my, there she is there - my sunglasses!  SOLD!  Ring me up!
Sears #ThisisStyle
These caught my eye - pretty much because I tend not to wear earrings because I like my hair in the front (refer to the picture above) but I have seen some women look spectacular with huge earrings and I had to have it for the colors and textures.  SOLD!  Ring me up!
Sears #ThisisStyle
These also caught my attention because of the cheetah but I didn't want to go overboard...
Sears #ThisisStyle
My husband loved these Kardashion Kollection cat eye sunglasses and I gave in and got 'em - got on my cheetah print dress with my trusty denim jacket and a pair of earrings I picked up from Sears!
Sears #ThisisStyle
I recently purchased this blue top and thought it would go well with my big earrings.  I like!  This picture is totally unflattering because I am in the process of training my husband to take my picture.  EEK!  This is the look of frustration!  I love these earrings by the way - they are the gateway to more earrings!
Sears #ThisisStyle

I am totally sold on Sears now - Are you?
Check out my whole shopping trip on my Sears Google+ Album! 

Get Social with searsStyle:  @searsStyle on Twitter / searsStyle on Facebook / searsStyle

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Friday, May 17, 2013

Macy's Summer Food Truck Tour

You know I love Macy's events and had to (HAD TO!) share the Macy's Summer Food Truck Tour with you - This Summer Macy's will take to the highways and back roads of America serving up the best of America's cuisine created by icons of the Macy's Culinary Council: featuring hot dogs and ice cream for FREE!  Don't you just love Macy's?!  I do!  

You can find the truck right outside the Macy's South Coast Plaza Women's Department - Enjoy!  

Saturday, May 18 at 1 PM
Macy's South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa, CA

Macy's Summer Food Truck Tour will also be stopping in these cities - get your food on!

Saturday, June 1 at Noon
Macy's Memorial City, Houston, TX

Saturday, June 22 at TBD
Macy's Woodland Hills, Tulsa, OK

Saturday, June 29 at TBD
Macy's Marketplace, Rochester, NY

This post is sponsored by Everywhere Society.  

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My Mom's Cancer Is Our Cancer - Sponsored Video

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of the American Cancer Society.

It has been three years since my mom's cervical cancer diagnosis.
And only two years since her clean bill of health.
Three extra Birthdays she's been here with us.

I don't think I'll ever get used to the idea of my mom having cancer.  Once the scare is there, it will always be there.  I still remember the day I got the call from her.  My husband and I were both working and in school full-time so on the rare occasion that we got out early from school, we would have dates before we had to pick Duke up from daycare.  That one particular day I was exhausted from being in class from 8am-3pm but we decided to do some shopping.  I barely walked in the door of the store and my phone rang.  It never rings and never from my mama at that time.  She asked me if I was sitting down, I said that we were out.  She immediately said she would call me back later.  I remember raising my voice and telling her, "YOU TELL ME NOW".  After that is when my memory gets a little fuzzy.  I can't remember if she passed the phone to my sister or she told me that her Dr. found a mass and it looked cancerous.  I honestly don't remember.  I do remember that my husband said I looked like I was going to faint.  We rushed out of the store to pick up Duke, got home and I threw myself onto our bed and cried my eyes out.  She was 1500 miles away, what could I do besides cry.

When the diagnosis was confirmed and my mom's hysterectomy was scheduled, there was no question that we would have to make the trek to Texas.  Flights were crazy expensive and my husband knew how much it meant to me... he offered to drive.  We had to arrange with our professors and our employers to take extra days off, get the boys out of school, bought a AAA membership, got a tuneup for our truck... We moved mountains because I wanted to just hug my mom again.

This is my mama a year after her surgery and radiation.  We were all in Alabama for my cousin's Wedding which ended up being a mini family reunion.  She is in rare form and acting silly...she might call me over these photos but I love that she is so full of life - not ready to give up!

Cancer sucks and that's me putting it lightly.  During the last 100 years, thanks to 15 determined physicians and business leaders who wanted to raise awareness of cancer, the American Cancer Society has led the way in saving lives and creating more birthdays.

On May 22, 2013, the American Cancer Society will be celebrating it's 100th Birthday.  This is a huge milestone for the American Cancer Society - they have contributed to a 20 percent decline in cancer death rates in the US since the early 1990s.  They helped save nearly 1.2 million lives during that time.  The American Cancer Society continues to fight for everyone to have access to quality health care, lifesaving screenings, clean air and more.

images Birthdays_0

This post is sponsored by the American Cancer Society.

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Monday, May 13, 2013

Sometimes You Need An Adult Playdate At Disneyland #justgothappier

In between getting my layoff letter and my business trip to Arkansas was Disneyland.  My freakin' awesome friend Ruby invited me as her +1.  I honestly didn't know I was going to go till the day before because I was trying to make excuses that I'd be so tired for my trip... but it was exactly what I needed!  I am so happy she pushed me to go with her.  I want to say the last time I visited Disneyland without kids was when I was pregnant with Duke in 2005.  

Our day was mellow, we weren't in a rush to get on every ride to get our money's worth.  We started in California Adventure, did a little shopping and ended up in Disneyland.  We strolled down Main Street and decided to have lunch at Carnation Cafe.  The wait was 20-30 minutes.  We left our name on the list for first available, was given a pager and headed over to Penny Arcade.  Ruby had never "met" Esmeralda and after I got my card, I insisted she get one too.  Her fortune was right on.   An instant Esmeralda fan!  We checked out some of the Disney sweet treats and returned to Carnation Cafe.  The minute we sat down, the pager went off.  We were escorted by an older Latino man in chef whites and when he sat us down, I had to ask him if he was Oscar Martinez - the longtime Disneyland cast member I had read about.  He said yes - he has been at Disneyland for 57 YEARS.  I geeked out and Ruby & I took our pictures with him.  Our server Philip was just as magical.  I ordered Chicken Fried Chicken and it was yummy.  Ruby and I split a slice of coconut cake with mango sauce.  Food was incredible.  Experience was memorable.  Thank you Oscar and Philip!!!

We rode Indiana Jones, sat on a bench behind Sleeping Beauty Castle and people watched.  We ran into blogger friends Liz, Nicole and Dariela at Fantasy Faire and caught The Beauty & the Beast show.  It was amazing.  I know watching shows at Disneyland isn't really a thing but you have to see it.  It's done in vaudeville style - so entertaining, so funny.  I loved it!  We headed back to California Adventure and met up with Ruby's friend Cynthia and got on Radiator Springs Racers.  Liz totally convinced me to ride it and I'm glad I did!  (I'm usually a wuss) - It is now my favorite ride at California Adventure.

Another favorite: The Mad T Party chairs.  So pretty to the eyes but so comfy to tired feet.  We totally vegged out and laughed an hour away.

At this point of the night, the kids would be tired and whining to go home but I got to enjoy World of Color (another first) and it was simply magical.  Sometimes we parents get too caught up in parenting and don't experience good, quality time away from our kids.  Trust me I don't have guilt about getting away for a couple hours or a few days - my kids need it just as much as I do.  So yeah, sometimes you need an adult playdate at Disneyland.  Thank you Ruby!!!

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Friday, May 10, 2013

Staring Into The Abyss Of Unemployment

Before I left for the SoFabCon conference last week in Arkansas my husband and I received our "layoff" notices from work.  I wanted to go on my business trip with my "everything is fine" mask on and I tuned out the layoff notice.  It was rumored that our jobs were in jeopardy, for a couple months now but I was in denial.    This couldn't happen to us.  Not me or my husband because we are good people, we work hard.  Our current employer lost the contract at Honda Center (Home of NHL Anaheim Ducks) and the building did not want to keep all of us Union employees.  From a business perspective, it made sense.  Dollars and cents that is.  They would let go of all of us and hire new employees at minimum wage.  I have been at Honda Center for 18 years and I always thought the day I would say goodbye would be on my terms.

I went on early maternity leave in January 2012 and shortly after the birth of Omar in April 2012, I requested to take one year off.  My return date was to be September 1, 2013.  I wouldn't have been able to go on early maternity leave and take extra time off if it wasn't for being a Union member.  I wouldn't have excellent health insurance, seniority, vacation pay and a savings plan if it wasn't for my Union.  I'm devastated that I will no longer have Honda Center to call my home away from home.  When there was a lockout at the beginning of the season, we tapped into our savings to survive - we hung in there!!!  I wish Anaheim Arena Management would just give us a little respect and tell us their plans.  I need closure.    

I am in tears as I write this.  I have one post sitting in my draft folder - I have a hard time hitting publish on that one because I come off as mad.  And I refuse to let the powers that be turn me into that person.  I could go into the details of my personal and professional growth of being somewhere for 18 years but it is mentally/physically/emotionally exhausting.  The arena has been a part of me and my family for 18 years.  I loved going to work.  I love my coworkers.  I am very proud to be part of the machine that kept Honda Center going.  I wish it didn't have to end like this.

Today my "everything is fine" mask is off and I'm scared of what is next for us.  #thisisme

Sharing some of my favorite Honda Center memories in pictures ---
One of my favorite posts was about Florence who works for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.  27 years and she is addicted to the lifestyle.  I got to see her a couple years ago and gave her a copy of this picture.  my 1st 100strangers.com!
Two of my favorite coworkers - also Honda Center lifers!  A Ducks game fell on Halloween and we got to dress up!
Ducks Season Ticket Holders during 2007 Stanley Cup Finals!  I remember when she was pregnant and now that baby is in school!
one of our regular families
I was there when we won the Stanley Cup!

I will miss you Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim / Honda Center.

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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Fourteen Candles At Medieval Times, Buena Park

My boy with the light eyes, long hair and crazy sense of humor turned 14 on Sunday.  He is a little more mellow than our oldest and the littles so I really wanted to do something special for him to show that mama adores him.   Even though he is fourteen, he is still my baby.  He is the only one that tells me he loves me still (without me saying it first), the one always walking at my side and holding my hand just because.  I love it.  The surprise?  Dinner at Medieval Times.

On his Birthday morning, I was traveling home from Arkansas, barely slept two hours before my flight and my time was all out of wack so I didn't text him "Happy Birthday" when he woke up that morning.  My husband picked me up from the airport and when I walked in the door I rushed to him, smothered him with hugs, kisses and happy birthdays.  Dinner wasn't until 4:30pm so we hung out at Knott's Berry Farm for a few hours and while we were there, I absentmindedly blurted out, "We still have a couple hours till Medieval Times".  My 16 year old and 7 year old were shocked - I ruined the surprise!  What a fail!  But you know what... Medieval Times totally saved the day.  The dinner and tournament was AMAZING.  We all cheered for the Red & Yellow Knight and booed at the other Knights.  We ate without utensils, licked our fingers and watched swords spark!  It was a great time and the perfect way to celebrate my son Damien!

Surrender to an age of bravery and honor and witness epic battles of steel and steed during our ALL-NEW SHOW. From ringside seats, discover a feast of the eyes and appetite with more action, more fun & more excitement than ever before.  As you thrill to a rousing live jousting tournament, marvel at awe-inspiring horsemanship and falconry, Medieval Times serves a four-course meal fit for royalty.
Hang on to your helmet. The show is about to begin.

After you check-in you make your way to The Court of Flags door.  (Doors open at 4:45pm for the 6pm show - we got there early so got to check out the action)
Medieval Times - Buena Park, CA
The Lord Chancellor opens the door and introduces Don Carlos The King and his daughter Princess Catalina.  Our littlest Omar caught their attention by giving them a funny look!
Medieval Times - Buena Park, CA
After they greet you, you get colored crowns which signifies your section.  We got the Red & Yellow Knight!  And then you take a picture with the King.
Medieval Times - Buena Park, CA
You go through the courtyard and enter another hall (I forgot to catch the name) where you can order drinks, buy souvenirs, look at the horses and pay for a show announcement.
Medieval Times - Buena Park, CA Medieval Times - Buena Park, CA Medieval Times - Buena Park, CA Medieval Times - Buena Park, CA Medieval Times - Buena Park, CA

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