Friday Five: 5 Things You Must Do/Eat/See at the OC Fair This Year

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We are a fair family. At least ONCE every summer since my kids were born we hit the OC Fair. We have built years of memories and now we have added new ones with our new family — including my stepkids and their dad into our tradition.

We got to the OC Fair the first day it was open this year and spent the day doing all of our favorite things. Here is my list of things you simply must do this year at The OC Fair.

 

1.) The pig races. This was the first time my stepkids had seen the famous OC Fair pig races. I have to say when you try to talk someone into seeing pigs race it does sound kinda silly but rest assured — they loved it! It’s a MUST when visiting The Fair. TIP: Check the schedule for race times and get there early for shading spot.

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2.) Your favorite ride. For my daughter Emily and me, this is it, The Sky Ride. Everyone has their ride of choice, but this is a crowd pleaser and on a hot day, a welcome way to cool down.

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3.) The OC Fair corn dog. We like the dogs that are sold from the smaller trucks throughout the fair. The larger ones from Chicken Charlie’s are a bit too big for us. These little jewels are just perfect!

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4.) The exhibits at The Fair. We love Centennial Farms the best! Emily has to see the OC Beekeeper exhibit every year and the garden there is a great way to remind kids where all those yummy veggies come from. Check out their daily schedule, here.

5.) Hit the Sky Way.  This is by far the best view of The Fair.

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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!

 

 




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.

“Kurrr-Plop.”

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.




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.

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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:

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Monday
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

Tuesday
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

Wednesday
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

Thursday
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

Friday
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.

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Follow me on Snapchat –>> Suzmoshenko

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Barefoot Bar at Newport Dunes

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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.

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 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

xoxo

Suz




Thanks for the memories, Ruby

I was saddened to hear the news yesterday that Ruby’s Diner namesake and heart & soul “Ruby” had passed away.

This was posted on the Ruby’s Diner’s Facebook page:

It is with heavy hearts that we share this sad news. Ruby Cavanaugh, our beloved inspiration, passed away Sunday, December 27th at the age of 93. Ruby lived her life with a beautiful spirit of warmth, joy and kindness. She will continue to live on in our hearts and be the ever-youthful icon of our restaurants.

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Many people didn’t know that Ruby’s was actually a real person (the mother of Ruby’s Diner Founder Doug Cavanaugh), but I knew very well. I was a Ruby’s girl years ago when I was in college. I work at the Ruby’s Diner in Crystal Court, Costa Mesa. Ruby was a regular visitor during those days. She would come in often and sit at the counter and shower us with compliments. Ruby would say things like,  “You girls are just lovely!” and “Aren’t you cute with your saddle shoes.” She loved to chat with us and just hang out like she was just one of the girls.

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She never made a big deal that she was the “headliner” or the star. Ruby was always gracious and friendly. We weren’t like  “OMG! Everyone straighten up, Ruby is here!” It was more like “Ruby is here!” and we’d all run out to greet her.

I had the opportunity to interview her for OC Family TV a few years back when they redesigned Ruby’s Crystal Court. You can watch that video below. She even sat down with a group of our rambunctious kids to have a bite.

Ruby’s Diner will always hold a special place in my heart and I think much of the reason why is because of Ruby. Thanks for the memories, Ruby.

Read some of my other posts about Ruby’s:

Ruby’s Sky Ranch has something for everyone. 

Ruby’s Carhop in Anaheim (Includes another interview with Ruby)

 

 




CHOC’s Pediatric Trauma Center

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securityIt’s a common refrain of all Orange County parents, “Thank goodness for CHOC!” I recently toured the hospital’s Pediatric Trauma Center. We got to see witness a simulated emergency in one of the two specially designed trauma rooms. The photos I’m showing are not with a real patient.

Since it opened nearly one year ago, the center has seen 165 patients. It is the only trauma center equipped and open to children only.

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A trauma can be classified as anything from a head trauma due to a fall, or an animal bite or a car accident. CHOC’s trauma center is open 24 hours and is staffed with specially trained medical professionals — 8 board-certified pediatric trauma surgeons, a trauma-trained pediatric nurse manager  and a child life specialist.

It’s good to know that in just 15 minutes one of the two trauma rooms at CHOC would be ready to help your child in case of a traumatic emergency. If you’d like to find out more about CHOC’s trauma unit please take a look at their website here.

For safety tips for your children read their website, here.




Where have all the cowboys gone?

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I noticed these “fellas” years ago at a friend’s party. These compadres truly adored their smartphones. They shined them. They held them up to the light. They showed them off to each other and wore them on their hip like a trusted six- shooter.

I recall a party I attended when all the men greeted each other with hugs and slaps on the back, then they all sat down at a big round table on the patio next to a freshly remodeled pool. The flagstone fireplace lit up their faces and in unison the men slid their phones out of their pockets and laid them on the table directly in front of them.

One guy pointed at another man’s phone and asked, “May I?” Getting the nod from him to examine his phone, he picked it up and tossed it lightly from hand to hand. He then quickly slipped it into his holster short’s pocket, quickly taking it in and out a few times. “Smooth,” he complimented, pursing his lips. “iPhone?… nice,” he nodded his approval. Next came the questions: “How’s the reception? Easy to use the keypad? How is it with a Bluetooth?”

Here, at the very mention of the word “Bluetooth,” all the men perked up even more. “Yes, it works great, but I still pre-ordered – fill in whatever the latest release was back then – just in case I like the camera better.” All the men “Ahh’d” their approval at the very idea of having two smartphones at once and then simply choosing the one they prefer. The phone with the better camera, or the best keyboard, or the easiest screen to see in the scorching sun while riding your horse out on the open range, ur, um, I mean waiting for your margarita out on the patio of Javier’s.

I got the impression that these men, if left in the wilds of Orange County without their trusted smartphones by their sides, would be rendered helpless, unable to mosey their way through traffic without their GPS app or decide which watering hole to go to without being able to check Yelp’s recommendations.

They would surely perish in the harsh wilderness of disconnection. Cell phone cowboys needed their guns phones to survive in their frontier.

But do these men know how to use a Thomas Guide to find their way? Probably not. My dad still has his in the back of his car. It’s like his own version of Custard’s Last Stand. He’s doesn’t have a smartphone and promises he never will. He’s a real man afterall! To my dad, the idea of GPS is downright disgraceful.

You might think that having access to all the conveniences and pampering that technology provides has changed what it means to be a man? Are these men who are constantly checking their basketball bracket apps while picking the right filter for their Instagram photo of their lunch and updating their status on Facebook really still “real” men? Yes. You know why I can say that with stanch confidence? Because I’m raising a young man.

My 10-year-old son is a classic nerd. A geek. A technology junkie! He has pictures of the creators of Minecraft taped on his bedroom door, not an athlete or rock star. His best friend, a fellow geek, dressed as Steve Jobs for his historical character book report, complete with black turtleneck, jeans and white tennis shoes. He got the “coolest costume” nod of approval from all the boys.  And though Markus Persson and Jens Bergensten (the creators of Minecraft) and Steve Jobs might not have the swagger of Steve McQueen or the grit of John Wayne, they are idols to these young boys. They’re pioneers, rebels, hard-workers and smart on top of it all.

When I told my son I was going to write this column I asked him (as I always do when I write about my kids) if it was okay to for me to call him a nerd and geek. “Oh, yeah!” he replied instantly. “I’m a geek! That’s cool.”

We’re going to be okay. These young men know who they are and I believe so do their dads, uncles and teachers. They’re not Googling “How to be manly” (though that is a thing I found online and I would pay money – cold hard cash – to know someone who has looked that up), they have just replaced their spurs, lassos and sweaty bandanas with convenience.

Back to the cellphone cowboys at the party. After these men had finished admiring each other’s phones, they all sat back deeply in their chairs and looked up at the stars, clear and bright in the San Juan Capistrano sky. The night was quiet and still. Only the crackling of the fire and a random ringtone every so often broke the silence.

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Published in my column at OC Register on April 15, 2014




MOMS Orange County Encourages Dads to Help with Baby #AwareMomsOC

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For the last 24 years Moms Orange County has been helping underserved moms in Orange County have healthy babies.  The Santa Ana-based organization serves 3,500 mothers a year and the proficient staff of 30 make 19,500 in-home visits  a year to expecting women and new moms throughout Orange County.

“We build our programs around what our mothers have told us they need and one thing we heard from them is they wanted the dads to be more involved,” said Pam Pimentel, CEO of MOMS Orange County. Out of this need the Workshop for Fathers was born.

At Moms Orange County they believe that if they can help the father understand and embrace the role of being an active, supportive and loving father, then they are changing the world one family at a time. Five hundred fathers have  graduated from the workshop since it began and they have their eye on expanding its reach. The workshops are offered only in Spanish at this time, but they are looking to add classes in Vietnamese and Farsi.

Focus on the dad
Research has shown that the things we knew instinctively and intuitively are true. One of the best predictors of if a pregnancy has a healthy outcome is whether or not the father is involved. Though the focus is helping moms at MOMS Orange County about fourteen years ago they began offering Workshops for fathers on Saturday mornings or Tuesday nights.

The workshops include expecting dads who are joined by “veteran” dads who help and assist the new dads.

What happens in the Workshop for Fathers

– The dads talk about what to expect during pregnancy and after the baby comes.

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– They learn how to diaper a baby

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– They practice giving baby a bath

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– They learn about the dangers of shaking a baby

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Most importantly expectant and new dads can talk about their feelings, fear and victories that come with being a dad.

Interview with the teacher of the Workshop for Dads, Juan Diego, Director of Health Education at MOMS Orange County.

How did you start teaching the class?

When my wife was pregnant I wanted to learn how to be a good father. I didn’t have a father and I feel like it is very important. I wanted to change that for my kids. I’m a normal father, but just the best father I can be day to day. Every time I come here and teach, as a father, I also learn something. Every time. I can share my experience with these fathers.

Do you think most of the dads that come here didn’t have a good role model?

No, I think probably 90 percent of them didn’t have a dad or maybe not an emotional connection with their father.

Do you think the men come on their own or do their wives make them come at first?

In the Latino culture it is hard to convince dads to be more involved. But we want to change that. Many dads want to change. That is why they come to the workshop. I always tell them, “you know what, the mom, the dad and the baby, you’re a team. If you don’t work as a team it will be harder.”

Do you have trouble sometime getting dads to open up and talk?

Sometimes they are here but they’re not 100 percent sure why they are here. They may look at me at the beginning of the workshop with an angry face. But after the workshop is over many men come into my office to say ‘thank you’ or ask me more questions. Some dads come a second or third times.

It’s easy for me because I create a connection with them. I’m a part of what happens here.

Enter to Win a Shopping Spree!

Because MOMS Orange County values the role of fathers they would like to reward them with this fun giveaway. Enter to win a $300 gift certificate at Fodada.com.

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Hometown Stay at the Hyatt Huntington Beach

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You’ve probably heard the famous quote about traveling attributed to St. Augustine: “The world is a book, and those who do not travel only read one page.” I then suppose that my kids and I traveling 17 miles from Orange to my hometown of Huntington Beach to stay at the Hyatt Regency would be like reading a book’s “About the author” page.

I live for years behind the Hyatt – long before it was there – so I’m well versed in area around the resort. I remember watching it go up, hoping for a spot that locals could enjoy with our families. I believe they have achieved it!
My daughter, age 13 and son, age 11, and I stayed two nights and spent three activity-filled days at the resort. The casual Spanish architecture with a piazza-like courtyard has kid-friendly restaurants, shops, a market that serves fresh sandwiches, salads and Starbuck’s coffee and, in the middle, a fire pit lit at night for s’mores time.
Our suite was a good size for our family, complete with large soaking tub and a king-size bed for us to cuddle up in and watch a movie after a day at the beach or pool.
So let’s talk about that. The kid pool area is called Slyder’s Waterpark. It has three slides and a long pool down the middle with lots of spots to set up for a day of soaking up the sun. We scored a cabana and spent an entire day at the pool playing cards, eating lunch and enjoying our time together.
The next day we spent down on the beach. It was a short walk over the bridge to collect our complimentary beach chairs, towels and umbrella. We first hit Surf City Grocers and they packed up a nice picnic lunch in a cooler for us (with wheels!).

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The unique advantage of staying in town for vacation is that you can rendezvous with local friends and family while you’re “away.” We all met down at the beach, and when our friends packed up to go home, we packed up and headed back to our room – but not before hitting the Jacuzzi – and showered up before having a nice dinner at Pete’s Sunset Grill while watching the sunset.
A few things for the kids that make the Hyatt a great family spot:
* Hyatt HB does offer a kids club. So if you want to spend some time in the resort’s world-class spa, Pacific Waters, or head to the well-equipped on-site gym (choices, choices), the kids won’t mind.
* You can purchase s’more kits at Surf City Grocers and use them at one of the many fire pits around the property.
* Enjoy Cosmic Sliding; Saturday nights at Sylder’s Water Playground features a laser light show.
* Rent bikes at Toes to the Nose in the courtyard piazza and take a ride down the path next to the beach.
* Enjoy Dive in Movies at Sylder’s Water Playground, Friday night at 7 p.m.
* On Tuesday nights in the summer, Main Street hosts Surf City Nights. It’s fun to check out the Farmers Market, and be sure to take advantage of dinner specials in the local restaurants then. They offer a kids zone, too!

If you’re planning a stay-cation this summer, The Hyatt Regency should be on your short list of options. It sits on miles and miles of family-friendly beaches, and guests with kids get the feeling they are welcome there – which makes a parent’s stay all the more enjoyable.

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Tamarind of London in Newport Beach offers unique cuisine

 

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Inside Tamarind of London

 

Bar/patio side of Tamarind London

Bar/patio side of Tamarind London

I knew next to nothing about Indian food when I sat down with the general manager for a chef’s dinner at Tamarind. Though the restaurant ownership has been in business for over twenty years, this Newport location has only been here for a few. I learned about the history of the ownership, they are an Indian family who opened their first restaurant in London and has now expanded to NPB and New York.

I liked the idea of eating Indian food but felt intimidated by the unfamiliar ingredients of the food. Tamarind’s management knew most Orange Countians would feel this way so they have their menu laid out in an easy-to-read fashion with both the traditional Indian name of the dish and then a California dumbed-down explanation. Which is much appreciated.

Tim and I sat down to a meal and with every course we received a full explanation of the origin of the dish and the ingredients/preparation method. Though this was arranged as a press tasting, the waiters at Tamarind are very knowledgeable and assured me that anyone coming to the restaurant can get on-the-spot training in Indian food.

The meal was delicious. Fresh ingredients — the sea bass was A.Mazing — and the way most Indian food is prepared, in a Tandoori oven, makes it a pretty healthy choice. Tim liked the Curry Prawns (pictured) the best. He would come back just to have it again. The Goat Cheese Naan was fantastic! Great for soaking up all the tantalizing sauces.

The atmosphere at Tamarind is lovely. Seating in the bar area is plentiful and the ocean breeze, open fire pits and pretty fountain makes it romantic/relaxing. They have a few large round tables where you can sit with a group.

I would recommend the Chilean Sea Bass dish and also the “Indian Lamb Pot Pie” called Dumpukht and also any of the Tandoori starters, particularly the swordfish. The chef made us a sampler plate (pictured) and I suggested they add it to the menu. Let’s see if they do! It’s a great way to experience the different tastes of Tandoori.
The desserts are tasty, too. I tried them all!

Tamarind

Chicken Tikka Marsala

 

 

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Dessert sampler

 

Tamarind

Kitchen at Tamarind

 

Tamarind London

Preparing the Dumpukht// lamb rice casserole table side