Five Things You Absolutely MUST Teach Your Teen About Social Media


Only a parent of a teen knows the struggle. Yes, there have always been struggles between parents and their teens, but to say that we are pioneers of a new kind of parenting isn’t just our generation’s attempt to minimize the tough time parents of hippies or greasers or, I don’t know, Disney channel stars, have had to endure. We truly are parenting an entirely new kind of teen — the iGeneration teen. And it’s hard.

I wrote often about parenting this unique generation in my column at the OC Register and I will continue to write about them here on my blog. Heck, I’m even writing a book about them. Out of necessity — my husband and I have one teen now and three more waiting in the wings — I have a vested interested in learning everything I can about today’s teen.

Here are five things I have taught my teen to help her understand social media and its impact on her life, her future and others.

1.)  Be careful what you say, there is no sarcasm font.

Even though your teen may be “just be kidding” in a snarky text or comment or post, it’s important to teach teens that comedy can be taken the wrong way on social media.   A sarcastic comment can hurt feelings or get them in trouble if taken out of context. Since there isn’t a sarcasm font that denotes they are joking around, it’s best to not risk it on social media. 

2.) You are not responsible for what others say in a group chat. 

The group chat is a staple in the teen communication diet. They form groups of friends in group chats on text or Instagram. (Think modern-day Pink Ladies from the movie Grease.)  Just like in a live in-person conversation, we talked to our teen about the way other kids use bad language or are just plain mean in some group chats. And just like in a real life situation, she isn’t responsible for what they are saying, but she does have the option to “walk away” or in social media terms — leave the group. 

In one of the shining moments of my daughter social media life, she decided to leave one group that wasn’t a positive influence in her life. SHE decide. This is what we are going for here — our kids making these decisions for themselves. I sweated it out for a few weeks looking through the groups’ conversation but in the end, she made the decision to leave herself.

3.) If you share other people’s content — Ta-da! It’s now your content. 

The concept of sharing content by doing things like re-Tweeting, re-Vineing or reposting other’s content is a specific one to social media and may take parents a while to understand. Most social media channels give you the capacity to share other user’s content. Teach your teen that when she does this, it is the same as if she were saying it, or doing it herself. For instance, if she re-Tweets something with foul language — she is using foul language. If she shares a Vine of someone doing something that is inappropriate, then she is endorsing it.  Follow this rule up with real consequences. That will dive the point home to your teen — she shared it  = she said it =  bye-bye phone! 

4.) No screen-time is important time.

In our house there is no screen-time after 8 p.m. No phone. No computer. At first this was hard for our older kids to take, but over time I think they enjoy the relief of not being tied to communication. We know as adults that it can be exhausting to always be checking emails and social media. You will get a fight if you don’t have anything like this in place but I assure you, it is worth it! 

5.) It’s rude to not respond to texts from friends and especially from *ahem* parents who pay for your cellphone.

This one seems self-evident but every parent of a teen knows this struggle too well. You text your teen simple questions, a friendly “hi” or direction and you get a whole lotta nothing back. But you can see they seem to be posting on Instagram or texting other people or they respond only when they need something. Teaching a teen to have social media etiquette is an important lesson since this is the world they will be living in for the rest of their lives. When a friend asks about a homework assignment and she doesn’t respond it is rude. When a parent sends a text and she doesn’t respond it’s unacceptable. Remember — without our help they won’t have a phone. Use that power. 

We truly are pioneering a new way of parenting. If you sometimes feel overwhelmed or at a loss for what to do it’s understandable — parenting kids online and social media use was never modeled to us. The key is to be knowledgeable about their social media life and make the best decisions you can for their well being. You read this whole blog post so you’re doing GR8 🙂

Ten Tips for Staying at the Crystal Cove Cottages

Our family has been trying to snag a coveted cottage at Crystal Cove for over two years. Booking one of these historic homes turns out to be a mix of planning, persistence and dumb luck. Over the Christmas break we were able to stay at Cottage #19A with friends staying in two other cottages. Now that we have our first vacation there in the books I feel obligated to share some tips on how to get a cottage and then how to make the best of your stay.

1.) Booking the cottage Because the cottages are state owned you need to book yours through Reserve America six months in advanced. If you miss that window try to keep your eye out for cancellations (72 hrs in advance) by checking the website or better yet, set a request on the Reserve America’s website that will notify you when a cottage becomes available during the preset times you select. Also, when the forecast says rain, you’re more than likely to find 1-2 cancellations. Keep in mind in California, the rain never lasts more than a few hours.

2.) Ruby’s Shake Shack offers packed lunches “To Go.” The Shake Shack is perched right above the cottages and offers a specular view if you want to eat there, but we took our lunch “To Go.” The nice people at Ruby’s pack up our lunches into individual lunch bags for easy dining on the beach.

3.) Bring games. There is no Wi-Fi at the cottages and no TVs in the rooms. It’s the perfect place to unplug and play some old-fashioned board games or beach games like corn hole or smash ball. Don’t forget your football!

4.) Rent a bonfire from the Beachcomber. The only way to have a fire on the beach at Crystal Cove is to rent one from the Beachcomber. They will set it up — even the chairs  for up to 12 people– and get it roaring for your group. For more info on the go to their website –>> here.

5.) The coffee situation in the morning. If you’re like my husband and me, you need to know in advance the coffee situation on any trip. There is a small coffee maker in the room but you can go to the check-in counter in the morning and get a carafe filled with coffee — free of charge — to take to your room or if you’re lucky enough to have a patio, enjoy your java there. You can also grab a coffee from Ruby’s or the Tiki Bar at Beachcomber. Lots of options so you’re good.

6.) Bring extra blankets. There are extra blankets in the rooms but it gets chilly at night at the beach. Each of us brought our own throw blanket to take outside and cuddle in and then use on top of the bed. We ALL used them.

7.) Heaven for sea glass collectors. Crystal Cove offers some of the most beautiful sea glass in SoCal. You ARE allowed to collect: sea glass, driftwood (up to 50lbs.) but keep in mind you ARE NOT allowed to collect shells, sand, rocks, any living creatures, or anything out of the tide pools.

8.) Hit Trader Joe’s before checking in. The Crystal Cove Trader Joe’s is just minutes from the Crystal Cove Cottages. Some of the cottages have kitchens — a few have stoves — but all have refrigerators. Grab pre-made salads, supplies for sandwiches and healthy snacks at TJ’s. But keep in mind whatever you bring you’ll have to carry to your cottage (or load on a cart).

9.) Pack simply. I can’t stress this enough. Your should not only embrace the laid-back vibe at the cottages but for practical reasons: simplicity is the key to packing for a stay at the cottages. Wear jeans more than once. Wear your hair in a ponytail. Don’t bring a massive amounts of makeup. Pack small meals and snacks. Also, don’t have a lot of loose items. Pack everything into bags or suitcases. You’ll either need to transfer them onto the cart that takes you to your cabin or walk your things down from the parking lot. Either way, you want it all to be concise and secured.

10.) Become an advocate for The Crystal Cove Alliance. Their mission is to renovate and preserve for future generations the Historic District’s unique cultural, natural and historic resources and to make these values available for the enjoyment and education of all. There is a wealth of information on their website –>> here.  This is a must-read before your trip!



Do you know how to check your teen’s Instagram messages?


For most parents Instagram seems simple enough to understand. Their teenagers post pictures or videos and their friends like or comment on them. Easy peasy. But there is most likely much more going on within your kid’s account. I conducted a spectacularly informal but still telling survey of parents. I  asked them this: Did you know that your teen can text to individuals and create group chats privately within Instagram? I found that 8 out of 10 did not.

Yep, I thought so. Instagram has emerged as one of the more popular ways teens communicate on their phones using a feature called Instagram Direct. It’s easy to send messages, photos and videos to individuals or groups (up to 15 people), but it’s tricky to find the message feature if you don’t know to look.

You can’t get to Instagram Direct messaging on your profile page. That would be the logical place to look.


To go to the inbox on Instagram you’ll need to go to the home page by clicking on the home icon. You will see an icon at the top right that looks like an old school inbox. If there is a new message an orange number will appear (denoting how many new messages you have). Click on that to get to the inbox.


From here, users can start group chats or reach out to individual Instagramers. (As you can see. I’m very popular with lots of messages.)


Users can “unsend” or erase individual texts within their messages. They can also delete messages or group chats with no record left behind of the conversation.


An Instagram user can send anyone a message if their account is not marked as “private,” even if they aren’t following them. So this means someone can message to your teen even if they don’t know them.

If you regularly check your kid’s text you can now add Instagram messaging to your routine. Next up … Snapchat!

Here are some more posts I’ve written about social media:

Five Thing You MUST Teach Your Teen About Social Media

10 Ways Mom Bloggers Are Different Than Traditional Journalists

How to Host A Practically Perfect Blogger Event


7 Pieces of Advice for Parents Going Through a Divorce

Photo by Suz Broughton via Flickr

If you have gone through a divorce, you know how life-shattering the process can be. It’s not only for you; if you have kids, it can be equally devastating to them. Though I’m not a professional counselor, I do have the wisdom of someone who has come through a divorce and lived to tell about it.

Getting through my divorce was the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but I made a promise to myself at the very beginning that I would successfully recover. I didn’t want to be one of those women who 20 years after her divorce still complains, moans and talks about it to anyone who will listen. I vowed to myself that I would be happy again, not just for me, but more importantly for my kids.

I believe I have succeeded in that goal! I think that makes me as qualified as anyone to pass out advice about what I have learned over the past four years.

The following are my seven best pieces of advice for anyone facing a divorce:

1. Seek out support. 

You are going to need someone to talk to. You will feel tempted to chat with anyone who will listen about your divorce – barista, co-worker, Target employees. Resist that urge. I mean this with a heart full of compassion for you: They don’t care.

I had a few key friends who didn’t stop taking my call when they saw my name pop up. They would let me vent. They would let me cry. They were supportive of me and steered clear of any ex-spouse bashing. You want to find friends who will lift you up, not ones who will jump on the “Isn’t he the worst!” bandwagon. I never would have recovered without their support.

I also found it helpful to join a support group. Saddleback Church’s DivorceCare meets every Friday night (It’s a 13-week program) at its Lake Forest campus. The program includes a workbook and weekly meetings that allow for breakout discussion groups with other people going through divorces. It was a great way for me to get advice and support in a safe environment.

2. Keep your kids out of the drama. 

It baffles me when I hear stories of parents who share the dirty details of their divorce with their young children. (This includes talking about the divorce within earshot of the little ones.) It’s hurting these poor kids all over again. I’ve had parents say to me it isn’t possible to leave them out of the line of fire of a divorce, but it is possible. My kids haven’t ever heard me say a negative word about their dad. They don’t know the specifics about our divorce (or marriage) and don’t need to. Find a friend to talk to (see No. 1).

3. Find a good distraction. 

This might seem like a frivolous piece of advice, but it is key to a successful recovery. Find something that makes you happy and do it. You will have an enormous amount of extra time on your hands now that you don’t have your kids 100 percent of the time. Sometimes the gap left by the lack of family activity can be downright depressing. Don’t fill up your time by stalking your ex-spouse on Facebook or telling yet another stranger your sob story: Find something to do!

I joke that Pinterest and the “Downton Abbey” TV series got me through my divorce. You don’t have to start a nonprofit or complete an Ironman; just find something that gets your mind off the chaos that runs rampant during a divorce.

4. Get financial advice. 

One of the biggest changes that occur in a divorce is your financial situation. Be proactive and get some guidance. I found someone new to prepare my taxes, and I completed Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. These two simple steps put me on a path to financial stability.

5. Resist the urge to vent on social media. 

We all know people who write long venom-filled tirades about their ex-spouse on Facebook – we have all probably blocked a few. Or then there are the passive-aggressive vague statements that are meant to draw sympathy. I believe this kind of behavior reveals more about the character of the person posting nasty things about their ex-spouse than it does about the ex-spouse. Your attorneys will tell you for different reasons not to do this, but I’m talking from a social side: no one wants to hear it. Step away from your keyboard and call a trusted friend (see No. 1).

6. Don’t engage in text wars. 

Divorce makes typically rational, kind people say and do things they wouldn’t even think to do or say under normal conditions. It is a crazy-making machine. For your own peace of mind, resist the temptation to drag in every issue you ever had with your ex-spouse to answer a simple question about when the kids had their last shower.

And on the other end, if your ex-spouse wants to send you long texts (or emails) about how you did them wrong, simply don’t respond. It does absolutely no good to “set things straight” and will just leave you furiously texting in line at the grocery store or at an Angels game and will never accomplish anything.

I had a divorced friend who told me she created a mental file in her mind called “And that’s why we’re not married anymore.” Every time her ex-spouse did or said something that made her angry or upset she would file it away there. It’s a good practice of just letting things go.

7. Pray for your ex-spouse. 

This is hands down the hardest thing to do on my list. I remember when a friend first told me to do this. I thought he was out of his mind. He assured me it would help me recover (as he did from his divorce). Practicing this every day will eventually give you peace and let you move on with your life.

If you’re not a religious person, you can still get the benefits of this by wishing the best for your ex-spouse. At first you might do it through clinched teeth and with an angry heart, but eventually, over time, it heals you to be positive. If you have kids, in the end, you will need this peace to pass on to them.


FYI: iPhones don’t float

It was just a quick exchange. I was at a restaurant on the border of Nevada and California dropping off my kids with my parents, who live in the Silver State. They were taking them and my brother’s son for a week to do whatever grandparents do with their grandkids when their parents aren’t around.

I just needed to use the restroom “real fast” before we had lunch and ditched the kids. I checked my email on my iPhone quickly as I made my way through the lobby and then shoved it in my back pocket. My daughter and sister-in-law followed me and we split ways at the stall doors – that’s when it happened. I will never, ever forget that dreadful sound.


I turned my head and looked down to see my iPhone in the bowl, slowly sliding down deeper and deeper. It reminded me of that last scene with Jack in “Titanic” when he lets go and sinks into the abyss of the Atlantic Ocean, at least to me it was just as traumatic. At that moment, instinct kicked in and I fearlessly reached in and rescued it.

My scream startled my daughter and we met at the sinks, where I was already frantically pounding out the water from what now seemed like massive openings in my phone – cups of water poured all over the counter. My daughter quickly ripped off the cover and grabbed some towels. Then my sister-in-law came out of her stall and asked what had happened. When she heard the news she rightly struck an “eww” face and instructed me not to turn it on.

“I read that somewhere, don’t turn it on and put it in a bag of rice to soak up the water.”

Stunned and visibly shaking, I headed to our table to have lunch. My mom talked to me about bedtimes, helmets and something about a restaurant in Reno with a parrot that flies over diners dropping dollar bills to the kids, but I couldn’t think of anything but my iPhone. I had just bought it a week before; I’d had the original iPhone for over three years and decided to take the leap when it stopped taking a full charge.

Could it be saved? Why am I so upset? The parrot does what?

The six-hour ride home was brutal: no phone, no Twitter, no email. At about Newhall, my iPhone started turning on and off on its own in a haunting poltergeist way. It was weird; screens I had never seen would pop up and then the phone would go black again. When I got home I put it in a bag of uncooked white rice as instructed by my sister-in-law and the results of the Google search for “Dropped iPhone in toilet.” The rice glowed blue and red as my possessed phone turned on and off as it nestled deep in a Ziploc bag.

That night I dreamed a tidal wave hit me in my office.

The next day I took my phone out of the rice and to the Apple Store. I played it cool with the Genius assigned to help me and as I handed it to him I said, “I dropped it in water.” He looked exactly like a younger, shorter version of Russell Crowe, which was reassuring for some reason. He took it in his certifiably-Genius hands and without looking up at me asked, “Did you drop it in the toilet?” Busted, I fessed up, “Yeah, but I wiped it down with a handy wipe. I haven’t turned it on and it’s been living in rice since last night.” He smiled as he looked up to me, “It happens all the time.” Forcing a smile back I asked casually, “Can it be saved?”

Like I was good either way. Just wondering.

Little Russell assured me there’s always hope and took it into the back room to laugh at me with the other Geniuses, or as he put it, “run some tests on your phone.” When he came out through the white unmarked door after about five minutes he was shaking his head as he walked toward me. Like a doctor he delivered the news, “We did everything we could; we couldn’t save it.”

My heart sank. In a manic monologue I told him how long I had my first phone, the very first iPhone! I took it out of my purse and showed it to him, he seemed very impressed for an Apple employee. I finished up with how long I waited to get a new one, and now all the patience and restraint was for nothing. I really laid it on, but I meant it, I was truly and disproportionately upset, afraid I was going to burst into tears right there next to the external hard drives.

“Well,” Little Russell started, “since you had your first iPhone for so long, and you seem a little upset, we do have phones for these sorts of situations.” Ah, being a Genius and all, he realized he had a possible crier on his hands and Apple doesn’t do crying. Think about it, with its massive crush of people, its prices and the technical catastrophes being schlepped in and discussed daily, have you ever seen anyone crying at an Apple store? No.

Little Russell beelined it over to the bar and came back holding a small, black, unmarked CIA-type case. Not a white and grey, cheerful iPhone box, but a covert, lean and shiny box with an iPhone laying unceremoniously inside. He never once verbally said, “I’m giving you a new iPhone.” Never said the words “free” or “replacement,” he just brought it over, took it out of its CIA case, had me sign a form and handed it to me.

I stood there a long time holding my new phone and waited for him to say something – he didn’t. He just looked at me. Then I said, “Would it be weird if I hugged you? I mean, would you get in trouble or anything?” He shrugged and put his tattooed arms out. Isn’t that a nice picture? I was hugging a Genius with my new iPhone in hand in the middle of the Apple Store. I was happy. Really happy. Like wedding-day happy. Like when you were in eighth grade and the bell rang on the last day of school and you ran outside and threw your notebook up on the roof and ran wildly with your friends through the schoolyard kind of happy. It’s really kind of sad how happy I was over an iPhone. Little Russell understood.

Writing A Social Media Contract for Your Kids

Social media contract pic

Navigating your kid’s online and social media life can be overwhelming and often downright frustrating. For most of us we feel like we’re simply reacting to sticky, upsetting and sometime dangerous situations. In our defense this is all new to our generation of parents. We didn’t have anyone model to us how to teach our kids how to conduct themselves in an appropriate way online because our parents didn’t have to worry about text etiquette, online pitfalls or social media missteps. We are pioneer parents!

In our family we have created a social media contract to set the ground rules for our kids’ social media and online life. Our strategy is if we set a standard it will help our kids understand what is expected of them. It’s a baseline and a good way to get the conversation about social media started with your kids.

Here is our contract. Feel free to use it as a starting place for your own family’s contract or you can download it below.

Our Family’s Social Media and Online Contract

We believe that having a phone and using a computer is a privilege, not a necessity. We have created this contract for you – INSERT YOUR DARLING CHILD’S NAME – to protect and teach you the best and most appropriate way to conduct yourself online and on social media.

Please read these carefully then sign below:

  1. Your user name/password for all of your accounts and

devices is —- >>

  1. You will not share your password with anyone but your parents.
  2. You must ask permission before joining or signing up for a new social media network.
  3. You will logoff all screens at 8 p.m.
  4. You are responsible for anything you share online. You share it, you said it. Sharing of inappropriate items will result in consequences.
  5. You may not have private conversations (direct messages) with anyone you don’t know on any social network or text messaging.
  6. No inappropriate language in texts or any other communication.
  7. Don’t be mean. Remember it’s never funny to be mean or rude.
  8. You will never arrange to meet in person someone you met online.
  9. You will tell a parent if anyone threatens you or anyone else online or through messaging.
  10. You will not be secretive or deceptive. Don’t lose the trust you’ve earned to use your device.
  11. You will reply within a reasonable amount of time to your parent’s texts. Not doing so will result in the loss of your phone/iPad for the equal amount of time you didn’t respond.

Sign below if you understand that any violation of these rules will result in loss of your devices. As a reminder, your phone, computer and tablets belong to us as long as you live with us.


Child’s signature


Parent’s signature

Download the contract here: Our_Family_s_Social_Media_and_Online_Contract_d

Who is this person pushing the Pringles on my kids?

After spending a week at my mom and dad’s house with my family I was overcome with one, albeit  immature,  feeling: NO FAIR!!!

The first morning my mom had already prepared the breakfast table with every sweet delight that was banned from my house growing up — Fruit Loops, Frosted Flakes,  enough sugar cereal to fuel a 5- and 8-year-old through more than a morning’s worth of tantrums and meltdowns.

I know the topics of  “Grandparents spoil their grandkids” and “Why do my kids get the foods I never got as a kid?” have been done to death, but this is a little different, because, frankly, it’s happening to me.

In my family growing up, my mom filled the kitchen with the healthiest food the ’70s had to offer: Roman Meal bread (instead of Wonder Bread), grape juice from concentrate (instead of soda), Red “Delicious” Apples (instead of fruit cups), Triskets (instead of chips), and, the worst travesty of all, Laura Scudder’s Peanut Butter (instead of, you know, peanut butter). Laura Scudder’s is the kind that has the oil sitting on the top that you have to stir in like some kind of cruel science experiment.  It’s thick and pasty and there is zero chance of not ripping your bread to pieces when spreading it. My mom has  even admitted that she used to put wheat germ in our brownies as a “fiber booster.” What kind of twisted …

All this was done in the name of eating healthy, and to this day I think I have pretty good eating habits because of it (my man-food habit aside). I’m grateful to her for her efforts, and even though as a kid it seemed like my friends were eating Pop Tarts, Pop Rocks and Sugar Pops for breakfast, I knew she did it because she loved us.

So, I just want to know, who is this woman pushing the Pringles on my kids and what has she done with my mom?

My mom has taken on legendary spoiling status among our friends.  We get requests to tell the same stories over and over again. Like once, after seeing Disney on Ice at The Honda Center, my mom bought Emily, my daughter, cotton candy on the way out the door after a whole parade of special treats during the show.  When I protested, my mom shrugged it off and justified it saying cotton candy was “mostly air.” Mostly Air!  She’s a legend.  This is the sort of thing only a grandmother who is completely head over heels in love with her grandchild would say.

Which leads me to my husband and my stance on the whole subject — my own personal feeling of  injustice aside — we think it’s wonderful.  Our kids are lucky to have a grandma and gramps who love them and spoil them rotten. So many of my friends have lost one or both of their parents already, or their kids’ grandparents can’t be bothered with them, or  they live too far away to see them.

It’s not like they have no control at all. My parents require our kids treat them and each other with respect.  They make them say “please” and “thank you” and they look after them like hawks, but they just can’t help but be spoiled by them — and that’s OK.

That our kids have grandparents that fill them with sugar, let them jump up and down on the couch, and even encourage them to bring frogs into the bathtub is all counted as a blessing in our minds.  It also helps if they’re the ones who are watching them when all this is happening, not us … oh, it’s an advantage if we have at least one day of “Grandma-detox” before school, piano lessons, or basically having to bring our kids out in public.


Random Posts from MomCrush, my blog at The OC Register:

✺ We just meant to scare them a little, not scar them for life.

✺ …and then, I felt like a cougar.

Be a fan of MomCrush on Facebook.

“The Care and Keeping of You” book is best yet for young girls

It’s a fact–girls are starting to “develop” earlier. That’s what we called it in the late ’70s when my girlfriends and I were separated from the boys in our sixth grade class and shown an instructional film on menstruation. We were all given a packet of related goodies, like pads and tampons, and then sent back to our class doing our best to hide the blue packages from the boys.

An article in the New York Times outlined a medical study on breast development in girls and pegged the age for a girl to show the first signs of puberty as early as 7 to 8 years old. It was a shocker, showing a big shift to the younger side of girlhood. Even though I read the article last August; I was still caught off guard to see its findings playing out in my  4th grade daughter and her friends’ lives.

Honestly, the issue of puberty still escaped my attention. When your little girl is obsessed with puppies, kitties and horses, you’re not thinking tampons, deodorants and bras. Luckily my mom, who surprisingly (read sarcasm) has been through this already, bought my daughter “The Care and Keeping of You: The Body Book For Girls” published by the folks at American Girl.  My daughter absolutely devoured the book and after she finished it (which only took one night behind the closed door in her bedroom), she asked me to sit down with her and read back parts where she had questions. We did.

This book covers it all; pimples, periods and parents. It’s very graphic and detailed, but not overly dramatic or gratuitous. “The Care and Keeping of You” provides basic and practical information for girls on hygiene, healthy eating and even social issues that I hadn’t thought about mentioning, like bulimia, along with good sound advice.  All of this without a whisper about sexuality, which is a subject I want to take the lead as far as teaching my daughter.  She’s still far too young and as a testament to the way “The Care and Keeping of You” is written, the subject never came up.

It probably would be best to go through it yourself to see if it fits your style of parenting. It may be TMI for some, in that case, use it as a guideline for issues that might be coming up in your daughter’s prepubescent head and approach the topics yourself.

From my very, very informal survey, some public schools do offer “Mom and Daughter Teas”  a function where the subject of puberty is served with tea and sandwiches, but it might be a little late (at the end of 5th grade) for some girls.  If you have a younger daughter (say under 6 years old) let this serve as your official heads up from me. Today you’re braiding  your daughter’s hair and watching countless episodes of Dora The Explorers, but someday, in the not-too-distance future, you’ll be standing in the middle of Justice trying to help her decided between a two bras, the one with monkeys or the one with pandas.

Pirate Coast Paddle Company Kids Camp + 10 % off coupon

Pirate Coast Paddle Company and I go way back! I have been going there with the kids since they opened. What keeps us coming back is the friendly staff and the location + the great family sport of standup paddleboarding. My kids even appeared on a magazine cover with the owner … *ahem* … I mean with Santa.

Pirate Coast Cover Magazine Moshenko

But we’re talking summer today. Pirate Coast Paddle Company offers a 5-day summer camp for kids ages 7 – 12. It’s a morning filled with summer fun from 9 am – 12:30 pm. Kids don’t have to have any SUP experience to come to the camp. So don’t worry if you’re little one has never stepped foot on a SUP.  Newport Dunes is a perfect place to learn the sport and provides a sunny beachy playground for the other activities offered at the camp. If you’re like me you want to know exactly what you’re getting in a camp. Here’s a detailed look at the schedule and let me assure you the staff supercharges the fun:


9am-9:30 Registration/Check in
9:30-10am Rules, Dunes tour, Pirate beach tour
10-10:30 Beginners paddle lesson
10:30-11:30 Paddle inside the Dunes practicing turns, technique, etc./Water games
11:30-11:45 SNACK (must bring own snack food)
11:45-12:15 Supsquatch/Free Paddle
12:30 Pick up

9am-9:15 Check in/Welcome
9:15-9:30 Warm up/Stretch/Quick Activity
9:30-10:45 Back Bay Science Center
10:45 SNACK
11am Paddle to Dunes Lagoona Area
11am-12pm Play on Whale/ Beach Games/swim/paddle
12pm-12:15 Paddle back to Pirate beach
12:30 Pick up

9am-9:15 Check in/Welcome
9:15-9:30 Camp Picture
9:30-10:30 SupSquatch/Lily Pad in Dunes area
10:30-10:45 SNACK
10:45-11:45 Nature Walk on Back Bay Nature Trail
11:45-12:15 Ice Cream at Snack Bar at Dunes (must bring own money)
12:30 Pick up

9am-9:15 Check in/Welcome
9:15-9:30 Paddle Tricks lesson & Kayak Intro
9:30-10:30 Tricks paddle around Dunes/Water games
10:30-10:45 SNACK
10:45-11:00 Paddle to Floats (must bring $8 for floats)
11:00-12:00 Play on Floats or Free swim
12:00-12:15 Paddle back to Pirate
12:30 Pick up

9am-9:15 Check in/Welcome
9:15-9:30 Warm up
9:30-10:30 Paddle around Dunes
10:30-11:00 Photo Scavenger Hunt around dunes
11:00-12:00 Kayak Trip to Bayside Village Beach/ Sand Castle contest
12pm-12:30 Awards ceremony at Pirate Coast Beach

If you want more information on the camp and on Pirate Coast Paddle you can find it, here.

I’m offering 10 % off the price of your camp so please take advantage of the offer when you sign your child up.Pirate Coast Kids Paddle

Just enter the code: 10offCamp. When you enter that code 10 % will be taken off your camp fee. You can register online, here.

We recently headed down to Pirate Coast Paddle with the family for a day out on the water with some other blogger families.


Follow me on Snapchat –>> Suzmoshenko

Getting to Pirate Coast Paddle easy from anywhere in Orange County. It’s located inside Newport Dunes.

Right about now

When we arrived the kids received their orientation and boarded the “Pirate Ship.” That is Pirate Coasts new super-sized SUP. It hold up to 20 people and the kids wasted no time loading up and with a heave-ho they were off! Kind of think of it like a kids version of water UBER. The instructors paddled them around the harbor and through the bridge. Aye a good time was had by all.

Pirate Coast Paddle Kids 8

Pirate Coast Paddle Kids 9

The great thing about Pirate Coast is that even when you’re not out paddling they have created a beach area that is just downright fun to hang out at with family and friends.

Pirate Coast Paddle Kids

Pirate Coast Paddle Kids 2


Pirate Coast Paddle Kids 7

We went out for a girls-only paddle around the harbor side. One reason I like SUP is that you can still chat and laugh together while doing it. It’s not SOOOO strenuous or competitive that you miss out on the chill factor.

Pirate Coast Paddle kids 3

New to the whole experience of Pirate Coast Paddle is the introduction of the Newport Dunes Barefoot Bar at Pirate Coast Beach. This popup fully stocked bar is open Fridays and Saturdays 3 pm -8 pm starting late June. What a great idea, no? Their special is a very serious coconut Mai Tai with lots of cherries. They also offer an array of beers, wines and other mixed cocktails. Follow Newport Dunes on Instagram for all the happenings this summer.

NewDunes Barefoot Bar

Barefoot Bar at Newport Dunes

Pirate Coast Paddle Kids 6

This summer we are going to try their SUP Night Glow Paddles. Each board is equipped with waterproof LED lights on the bottom. As you tour beautiful Newport Harbor the water beneath you is lit-up giving you a front row seat to the marine life along the way. I know! Totally adding this to our summer to do list.


 Check out this video of the SUP Glow Tour:

Pirate Coast Paddle also offers parties (See the “Pirate Boat” above) for birthdays or special events. We celebrated my daughter’s birthday there (three years ago) and a good time was had by all! For information on their party packages, go here.

Pirate Coast Paddle Company kinda has it all this summer. Make sure to take advantage of the discount if you’re going to camp running these weeks this summer:

Session 1: June 20th through June 24th

Session 2: June 27th through July 1st

Session 3: July 11th through July 15th

Session 4: July 18th through July 22nd

Session 5: July 25th through July 29th

Session 6: August 1st through August 5th

Session 7: August 8th through August 12th

Session 8: August 15th through August 19th

You can register, here.  The discount code again is: 10offcamp



homefront-magazine-logo-flat *This article comes from my blog at the Homefront magazine.


When my husband, Tim, and I married one year ago we’d thought, talked and read about the best way to go about “blending” our family: How we would discipline the kids; How we would divide up the chores; How we would show love to our new step kids. It was important to us to be prepared for what we knew was going to be a challenging endeavor – bringing two families together.

When Christmas rolled around things were going pretty well but we realized what we hadn’t thought about was how we would “blend” our Elf On the Shelve elves, Todd and Elfie. I mean, they are elves and as we all know, naturally friendly and playful, but what if they didn’t get along or worse their mischief levels were unequal? What if they didn’t play nice together?

Blended family issues

Needless to say, just like our kids, they seemed to have worked it out – mostly on their own. Not that Tim and I didn’t carry out with all of our pre-wedding plans for blending our family, but we have found the most effective way we have influenced our kids has been through modeling to them good, God-guided behaviors and attitudes.

When you bring two families together under one roof there is going to be some difficulty. Our kids are with us half of their lives and the other half they are with their other parents. Modeling becomes one of the most effective tools in teaching them. Not lists, or discipline or lectures, but showing them God’s love through our actions toward has proven to be the secret ingredient to healthy blended family. This is how we have approached modeling in our home:

Modeling Grace
We show the kids that it’s okay to not be perfect. That through God’s grace and faithfulness we are loved by Him and by our family members – no matter what. This is a powerful thing to learn for a child who has gone through a divorce. We love them and we’re not going anywhere. We want them to be steeped in God’s grace while they’re at our house.

Modeling Fairness
We treat each child equally and set clear rules. Discipline is tough in a blended family house. Tim and I came into our marriage with our own ideas of how to discipline and what are our non-negotiable house rules. For instance, I’m more permissive with snacks and treats (I was okay with my kids having the occasional soda but that was a big “no-no” for Tim) than my husband. But to be fair, we set clear rules for all the kids to abide by. So by modeling fairness we simply apply the rules to each of our kids.

Modeling Respect
We never ever (never!) speak badly about our ex-spouses. Did I say “never?” Tim and I do not badmouth our kids’ other parent. Further, we have told the kids that they can speak truthfully about their feelings toward their parents (including about us), but disrespect is not allowed.

Modeling Patience
I firmly believe you can not teach patience to a child by telling them about it or through reward or punishments. Nope, trying to teach a kid to be patient is like trying to teach the moon to be square. We must show our kids through our own actions how we use self-control and react with gentleness. It’s not always easy – as in hardly ever easy – but by being patient with our own kids and our step kids we are laying the foundation they need to learn patience themselves.

Our kids have faired pretty well using these simple guidelines. Our elves have seemed to have worked things out themselves, too! The first night they were together they engaged in what appeared to be an epic snowball fight on our kitchen table.