Friday, July 29, 2011

Hullabaloo Arts Festival Ticket GIVEAWAY!!!

Since music has always been very important to both Mike and I, we really wanted Samantha to have a strong foundation in music. I took her to her first music class when she was just 4 months old, and we constantly have music playing in the house. I try to expose her to as many different types of music as possible, and we love to dance around the house. The girl's got rhythm! She loves to dance anytime she hears something with a fast beat to it. She's also got some skills when it comes to playing the guitar. I think she just might have a career in music someday!

One thing I really like to do with her is to take her to see live music. Anytime I hear that there is a kids' band playing, I do my best to get her there. When she was just small she enjoyed listening and watching other kids dance. Now that she is (very) mobile, she loves to dance and jump and bounce to the music. One of our favorite local kids' bands is Hullabaloo. Steve and Brendan have written some great songs that are very catchy and fun to sing along with. We have one of his CDs and can't wait to get more! I find myself singing these songs around the house, and Sam always starts dancing when I play the CD for her.

Coming up on September 18th, Hullabaloo is putting together the Hullabaloo Family Arts Festival at the Bernardo Winery in Rancho Bernardo, CA. First of all, I LOVE the Bernardo Winery - some of you may recall that Mike and I got married there! It's not only a great place for wine tasting, but it's also a great outdoor venue for festivals like this. There will be live music, art, dance, and storytelling, and local businesses will be there with some great goodies.

Tickets to this event are $5 each, but right now Plum District has a great deal for a Family 4-Pack of tickets for only $10 - that's 50% off! You should definitely take advantage of this opportunity to get your tickets. It's going to be a great family fun event!

But it gets even better: One lucky reader will win a 4-Pack of tickets for FREE!!! All you have to do to win is visit the Hullabaloo Art Fest website and come back and leave me a comment, telling me which part of the festival you are most excited about.
1) For one bonus entry, Tweet about this giveaway and come back and leave me another comment.
2) For a second bonus entry, "Like" The Vanilla Bean on Facebook, then come back and leave me a comment.
Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on August 13th.
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Plum District. They are giving me a 4-pack of tickets for sharing this deal with my readers!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Go visit my guest post today!

I wrote a guest post today for the SDMOMfia. Go check it out, and leave some comment love. And while you're there, browse a while and read some of the other great articles and info they have! Love these ladies.  <3

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sammy loves her yogurt!

She's been at this cup for at least 15-20 minutes, trying to get every last drop. It was all I could do to get her to pause and "cheese" for me!
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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Family Fun Day at the Del Mar Races! #dmtc #bgsd

Today we spent a great day of fun in the sun at the Del Mar Races. Heading to the track has been a tradition of ours for many years now, and it's been especially in the past few years since we lived in Del Mar for a while and learned all the local secrets. ;) Now that we have Sam, we want to continue our fun experiences at the races!

Family Fun Day was the perfect day to go and let Sam have some fun with the ponies. Thanks to Katie at Bailey Gardiner, we scored a pair of free passes and special seating in the Infield Pavilion, special for mom bloggers. It was perfect! We were able to sit in the shade while watching the races on the screens and we had our own betting section that wasn't busy at all. We had so much space and were able to relax while Sam ran around and had fun.

We started the day by taking a look at the horses in the paddock. It was Sam's first time seeing a real horse, so she was very excited. One of them even snorted as it walked past her, and she found that to be very amusing. After watching one race, we headed over to the Pavilion and got settled. It was great to be around so many other family bloggers with young kids! Mike and I got to chat with some cool parents and Sam made friends with a couple of adorable little twins - the wonderful family behind The Twin Set. Between races, we got to chat with new friends, play with Sam, and even pose for a photo op with Pony Boy.

After we played a few races, we headed infield for some good old family fun. Sam went on her first pony ride, and enjoyed it so much that she went back for a second turn! She was very serious about it, and had a lot to say as we walked around the ring. We did get a few big smiles out of her though! She also spent lots of time in the bounce house and at the park with Daddy while Mommy waited in the pony line. We all came home a little pink from the sun (well, Sam just got tanner), exhausted, and very happy.

I can hardly wait for next time! Thanks again to Bailey Gardiner and the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club for another wonderful day at the track.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Secret Shopping - A great way to earn some extra cash!

As most of my readers probably know, I'm always looking for a way to earn extra cash while still being able to stay home with Samantha. I've found one great way to earn a little is to be a secret shopper. I don't earn a whole lot, but I do get free meals and some spare pocket change - enough for lunches with the girls or a new pair of shoes every now and then. And, the more you shop, the more you earn!

Right now, one of the companies I shop for, Market Force, is looking for new secret shoppers. If you sign up as a shopper and complete a shop by August 15th, I earn some extra cash too. It's a win-win for both of us! It really doesn't take much time - just enough to go out to lunch and evaluate the restaurant incognito (20-30 minutes), and then another 20-30 minutes to fill in your report. I highly recommend signing up and giving it a try. You'll get reimbursed for your meal and then get another $5-$10 on top of that. It's like getting paid to eat a free meal! It's totally legit - I've been shopping for them since Sam was a newborn, and I always get paid right on time.

Here's my referral link: (You must use this link for us to get the credit for the referral.) I'd be thrilled if you could join me as an Undercover Secret Shopper Agent!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Fourteen Months

Dear Samantha,
You are now 14 months old! Time goes so fast now. It is amazing to see how much you are learning, and so quickly. Your vocabulary grows every day, and you try to repeat as many words as you can. Here are just a few of the words you say:
Dad - Da or Dad
Mom - Mom or Ma or Momomom
Cat - ta or tat (sounds kind of like "tsat")
Strawberry - ba-berry(r's not really pronounced)
Ball - baw
Dog - do
Woof - oof
Lunch - ch
Breakfast - st
Cheese - chz
Book - boo
Pizza - tsa
Kisses - tiss or tisses
Rabbit - wabbih

Right around 13 months you started sleeping through the night pretty much every night. Last week we had your Great Aunt Darla stay with us for a week, and you were so excited to have someone to play with, you didn't want to go to bed or stay in bed, so you relapsed a little into waking once or twice a night, but slowly you are getting back to your usual schedule. Bedtime is a little later now, around 7:30 or 8, although these past couple of weeks you've have several 9-9:30 nights. Summer is just so exciting!

Mommy just started a new job, so we don't get out to play with your friends as much as we used to. It's always a special treat for you though, and you get SO excited to see other kids your age! You love to play with other little kids (and their cool toys). Your friend Sean came over the other night, and you were practically beside yourself with delight. We're going to have to make sure to let you have at least one playdate each week!
You LOVE music now. You have improved your dancing skills, and instead of squatting up and down, you now run in circles, wobble your head, and wave your arms around. You have some pretty impressive moves. You like to dance to music that is upbeat. You also love to sing along to softer, pretty music, especially music with female vocals. You are quite good at playing Daddy's guitar, too. I wouldn't be surprised if you end up being a great musician! You seem to have natural talent.

Another big development this month was that you are no longer nursing. Your last day of breastfeeding was 6/10/11, just a few days after your 13-month birthday. It took us a few weeks to get to this point, but once we started working on it, you adapted quickly. Now you love to drink your milk out of your sippy cup with a straw!

You have started to develop quite an attitude lately. You "talk" back sometimes, and you definitely let us know when you don't like something. You like to splash in the toilets now, so we have to keep them locked up, and we have to keep the cat food up since you continually get into it (and try to eat it) even after we tell you to stop. You definitely have a strong will, and sometimes you can get pretty annoying with all your whining, especially in the evenings. Most of the day though you are very happy and a joy to be around.

This month was an eventful one. Besides Aunt Dar's visit, the fair was also in town, and then we had the 4th of July celebration. We went to the fair 5 times, and you loved it every time. Going to the fair at night was very exciting for you! You loved all the lights, and we went on a couple of kiddie rides and the big Ferris Wheel. You loved the rides in the Kidzone. You rode with Mommy on a bumblebee ride that went up and down and around and around. You loved riding on the carousel with Mommy and Daddy! Aunt Dar also won you several stuffed animals, which was something really cool that Mommy and Daddy aren't so good at. One of your favorite things at the fair was seeing the animals. You knew about rabbits, since your Alice in Wonderland-themed bedroom is full of white rabbits. But you didn't quite get what they actually were until you saw the rabbit exhibit at the fair. You got to see dozens and dozens of real bunny rabbits, and you even got to touch one. You were SO excited when you finally realized what a real live rabbit is! You also enjoyed petting the goats and looking at the chickens. The cows and some of the uglier sheep were a bit intimidating for you.
The 4th of July weekend was incredibly fun. On Saturday we went to the beach and then had friends over in the evening. You got SO dirty at the beach, I couldn't even see your body through all the sand! On Sunday we went to a pool party BBQ at our friends' house. You still love the pool, and you floated and kicked and splashed and jumped for hours. On Monday the 4th, we spent the day at the fair and then went to the fireworks here in town. You ran all over the park grass, watching other people and enjoying all their glowing necklaces and wands. We bought you some glow necklaces of your own, and you blew your own mind with a great light show. As soon as the fireworks started, you plopped down in Daddy's lap, eyes as big as saucers as you watched the show. You were so amazed as you pointed the fireworks out to me, talking about them throughout the show. After the finale you clapped and clapped with everyone else. You had a huge grin on your face as we walked back to the car, where you quickly fell asleep for the ride home. It was such a fun weekend for us all!

I can't wait for this next month as you continue to build your vocabulary and motor skills. You are running and climbing and even starting to jump now, and you are quite a handful. You bring so much joy to my life every single day. I love you so much!


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Trying to Balance My Life as a WAHM

Some of you (at least I hope at least one person pays attention to my blog...) may have noticed that I have been EXTREMELY lacking in keeping up with my blog lately. Sorry about that.

I have been so insanely busy lately. I feel like life is going so fast right now that I just can't keep up with it! What's going on, you might ask? One MAJOR change: I am now a Work-At-Home-Mom! Hooray...I am finally working and making an income. So far it's slow-going, but I think that in the next couple months it will really help out our finances so we can actually do fun things and maybe even take a vacation again. It will be so nice to not have to seriously stress out each month when bills are due.

So, what am I doing? I actually have two great jobs that I'm very excited about. For my first job, I am working as a Virtual Assistant for an awesome blogger. Her blog is called Stuff Parents Need, and she has some really great articles and reviews, as well as awesome giveaways almost every day. I highly recommend following her blog and entering some of these great giveaways! So far I am loving this job. I already knew quite a bit about blogging and social media, but I'm learning more and more about things like SEO and promotional tools every day. It's very exciting!

My other new job is also very exciting. I am working as a District Consultant for Plum District. If you haven't heard of us yet, you really should sign up. (You may have noticed my post the other day.) Plum District is such a great company! We are a daily deal site that is specifically geared towards moms and local communities. I'm already loving it, and I can't wait to get my first deal. If you know of anyone who owns a business and would like some help with promoting it, let me know!

So now, back to why I am such a stress ball right now. Working even just a few hours a day is so much harder than I thought! I work while Sam naps, and I work for about an hour while she plays. And then somehow, it's already time for dinner! I have no idea how the day got so short. It started out pretty intense since I have been trying to get all my files, notes, etc. organized, and right during this transition period, we had a house guest staying with us. And then after that was the 4th of July holiday! I'm still trying to come up with a set schedule for when I work, and when I play with Sam. I would like to make one day a week where I just do fun things with Sam, and don't sit in my office working. I'm also hiring a babysitter one day a week so I can get work done outside of the house. I know everything will come together soon, but for now I am eating, breathing, and dreaming work. It's crazy, but it's exciting. Not to diminish the importance of my role as "Mom", but I really do feel like I have a purpose again. A reason to get dressed every day and something to talk about when I meet people!

Until I get my schedule sorted out, you will probably notice that my blog posts are a bit sparse. But hopefully I'll be able to find time for that soon, too! I'll leave you with the obligatory photo of Sam. Here she is, "cheesing" for the camera at the fireworks show last night! (Those of you who know me well may already recognize this face...)