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What's New At SeaWorld San Diego

A big thank you to SeaWorld for hosting our family on this trip. 

This past weekend Adrian and three of the kids were lucky enough to visit SeaWorld San Diego for a day of learning, fun and sea life adventures. I am originally from San Diego County so I grew up going to SeaWorld, afterwards it was one of my favorite places to take my kids. Now that we live in Riverside County, it's a little further for us but we got passes two years ago and really enjoyed taking the younger kids to see the place that had been so special to us. This trip was a nice opportunity for Adrian and the kids to head down to Sea World to find out all about the new changes they are making at the park. 

SeaWorld is a fun place to visit - we love the Shark Encounter, seeing the penguins in their frosty home at Penguin Encounter and of course all of the shows. But there is so much going on behind the scenes at Sea World San Diego. 

Did you know? All the fish fed to the animals at SeaWorld is restaurant quality.

SeaWorld’s conservation, animal rescue and research efforts:

Since 1965, SeaWorld® San Diego has rescued more than 17,000 animals, with sea lions, seals and marine birds comprising the vast majority of those animals rescued. Once a rescued animal is medically rehabilitated and demonstrates to the animal care team that it is able to fend for itself, it is returned to the ocean. 

To give these animals the best chance at survival, SeaWorld often returns them to the ocean by boat. Sea lions, seals and dolphins are typically returned anywhere from two to 15 miles off the coast in areas where sufficient food sources are available and are populated by like species. 

The killer whales at SeaWorld have always been the most captivating animal at the park. I remember seeing my first shows as a child and being so in awe of these beautiful creatures. Sea World has ended their killer whale breeding program and has not taken any whales from the wild in almost 40 years. 

Our children are the last generation to see the beautiful killer whales at SeaWorld. But while there will be no more breeding or large shows, the whales are still going to be around for years to come. There is still plenty of opportunity to see and learn more about these beautiful creatures and see them in other more natural situations. SeaWorld is introducing new orca experiences that will give us a whole new insight into their natural behaviors and focus on research, education and care. 

All Day Orca Play: Launched last week and running for nine weeks only, guests will have unprecedented access to the earth’s most majestic creatures at All Day Orca Play, a full day of events and activities delivering encounters with killer whales. This new all-day, everyday experience will include introducing guests to each whale and their unique personalities; live chats with orca behaviorists and educators; an in-depth look at SeaWorld’s killer whale family and their behaviorists; and comprehensive insider knowledge about the park’s killer whales. 

Orca Encounter: This summer, SeaWorld San Diego will debut the all-new, inspiring Orca Encounter™. Based on killer whale behavior in the wild—how they move, hunt and navigate, what they eat, and even how they communicate— this new encounter will be a live documentary-style presentation helping park guests gain a deeper appreciation and respect for the orcas, and empowering them to preserve the future of these majestic animals. Each presentation or encounter will underscore the vital connection we all share as protectors of the planet and how we each play a key role in the future health and vitality of the wildlife and wild places. A new Pacific Northwest-themed backdrop at SeaWorld’s main orca pool will reflect the natural world of killer whales. To further promote the understanding of whale behaviors in the wild, a large infinity video screen will augment the backdrop

Coming soon to SeaWorld San Diego

Ocean Explorer The launch of Ocean Explorer™: will create an expedition of wonder across the seven seas. Opening this summer, this extraordinary new attraction will combine multiple aquariums, exciting rides and digital technologies designed to engage park guests in an experience centered on exploration and adventure. On the attraction’s signature ride called Submarine Quest, guests will be adventurers on a global expedition of scientific exploration, travelling aboard submarines to see Ocean Explorer’s remarkable undersea animals. 

Electric Ocean As the sun sets, Electric Ocean™: will light up SeaWorld with an ocean of brilliance and vibrant energy that will transform the park into an underwater world of colorful luminescence. This new, nighttime summer spectacular will immerse guests in a glowing sea of wonder with bioluminescent-like lighting, a dance club and pathway entertainment. Electric Ocean kicks off June 17 and runs on select dates through Sept. 4.

This summer you can also expect to find more fun for the whole family: rides, a deep sea aquarium, shopping and dining. Being a foodie, I really love a lot of the food at SeaWorld, starting with the funnel cakes. On my last trip I also had some amazing Nutella Crepes that I hope to spot on my next trip. 

SeaWorld San Diego is making changes for the better and I am so happy about these positive changes. The place that made my childhood so happy will continue to be there for so many other kids, sparking imagination and a love for animals, conservation and education. 

We're looking forward to a trip back to SeaWorld San Diego this summer to check out the new attractions and to visit the orcas. The kids can't wait, and I can already taste the funnel cake. Lol!

Sea World San Diego Promotion: SeaWorld single-day tickets are starting at $55 right now but the best way to enjoy SeaWorld is with a 2017 Fun Card where you pay $87 and come back again and again.

Family Movie Watching Party

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser, Walmart Family Mobile. All opinions are mine alone. #YourTaxCash #CollectiveBias All prices for phones and plans included in this post are accurate as of the date of posting; however, these prices are subject to change. Please refer to or your local Walmart for current pricing.

A few weeks ago I shared some of my tips for making your tax refund last longer. One of my best tips from that post was going with a more affordable cell phone carrier. Our biggest bill has to be our cell phone bill, and that's just with two of us on the plan. That's why when it came time to start getting the kids cell phones and data plans, we chose to go with a budget friendly plan, Walmart Family Mobile. We've now been with WFM for over three years and I am very satisfied with it. So when tax time came around this year and it was time to get another one of the kids a cell phone, down to Walmart we went to pick out a phone and a starter kit. 

The Walmart Family Mobile PLUS Plan features: Unlimited Talk, Text, & Data which includes up to 10GB of 4G LTE then 2G plus a free VUDU movie credit every month ($7 value) per line for $49.88. The new phone we picked out is the Samsung Galaxy On5, currently On Rollback for $69. The SIM Kit is also on rollback for $19.88. Since Family Mobile bills you later, you only have to pay $19.88 when you sign up, which is a great way to get a child started with a phone plan. 

For us having cell phones for the kids isn't so much a luxury but a necessity. A few of the kids walk home and they all have after school activities, so it's important we're all in touch. Walmart Family Mobile allows us the opportunity to do so, without having to stress the bill every month. That's why this tax refund season, again we went with the plan that has been working for us since day one. 

Another one of my tips to stretching your tax refund out is to enjoy a movie night at home versus going to the theater. If you have kids, then you know how expensive a night out to the movies is. Not only are ticket prices high on their own, the concession stand is a killer on the wallet. What I do is set up a Movie Watching Party Night at home for us, and even with what I purchase for the party, I still end up spending less than if we go out. 

Prepping For A Family Movie Watching Party

For the children, the candy is one of their favorites when going to the movie theater. Actually, who am I kidding? It's my favorite thing too. 

When prepping for movie night at home, I stock up on all their favorites and still don't end up spending as much as we do when we buy the marked up candy at the theaters.

Popcorn is something we always have in the house. For movie night, we pop at least three bags and I always have cute little paper bags to serve the kids. I guarantee you there will be no popcorn left at the end of the evening because nothing makes movie night more perfect than a ton of popcorn!

Beverages are important for movie night. I love getting the smaller water bottles for the kiddos. They're already consuming so much sugar that they actually enjoy these cold bottles of water. 

Any movie night with kids means having entertainment, other than the movie, especially if you want to actually enjoy the movie instead of tending to bored kids. 

I always have a basket of goodies: toys, books, board games for the kids to keep busy with while they watch the movie or get bored.  

Each Walmart Family Mobile PLUS Plan includes a free VUDU movie credit every month ($7 value), which means that as a family we have quite a few free movie credits. With a great selection of movies, we can always find something that the entire family will enjoy. 

These family movie watching parties on Sunday evening are a treat for all of us. We get to enjoy a great movie while spending time as a family.

With their cell phones in-hand, the kids can capture all those special moments. 

With the money we've saved by going with an affordable cell phone plan and movie nights at home, we are now able to do something special for the family this tax refund season. This coming weekend we are going to a theme park and getting us all yearly passes! I can't wait, the kids are going to be so excited. It definitely pays to make smarter choices when spending your tax refund, I think we did a pretty great job if it this year. 

How do you stretch your tax refund further? 

The Unsung Hero: The Single Parent

Thank you to The Motherhood for sponsoring this post where I get to talk to you about the hardest, yet most rewarding part of my life, being a parent.

Today I want to talk about the unsung hero - the single parent. There's a stigma around single parents, especially single moms. People are so quick to judge and make assumptions, without knowing the full story. I don't think anybody sets out to be a single parent by choice, and instead of us celebrating those parents, who do the work of two, we tend to shame them.  

Single parents are heroes: they have to work full-time jobs, sometimes more than one, in order to pay the bills, and do the job of both parents. Parenting is the hardest job you will ever have, even with two parents around, now imagine how hard it must be if you're doing it alone. 

I became a single mom of four kids after 6ish years of marriage. Having not worked for the last 5 years of my marriage, it came as a shock to go back to the workforce knowing I had to pay a full rent, bills, food and care for four kids, plus myself. It was also the first time I had to live on my own - rent my own apartments, set up utilities, etc. It was scary stuff for a dumb girl who'd let her husband take care of everything previously. But I think what most terrified me was wondering how I was going to take care of the financial responsibilities. It took me years and years to sort out child support for my girls and even after I had it, the financial weight of all of my responsibilities was a lot more than I earned, even with countless overtime hours.

Some single parents do have the help of the other parent, or maybe the kids go back and forth between two households. That was not the case for us. Besides a lot of behind the scenes struggles, there was no help. That's why it's hard for me to think back to those first years, to think of how many times I failed my kids. I never got to pick them up or drop them off at school, I never attended daytime school functions, and rarely got home before dinner and wasn't around much during the week besides a few evening hours. It really was the girls that had to bear the brunt of it though. My two oldest, they were the mom and dad during those times, they fed the two youngest, walked them to class and took care of them after school. 

My family is and has always been a big help to me. Because of them I can say I was not alone. I was lucky to have them, especially those first three years. After that my girls started growing up and even though the problems seemed to get more serious, I was more prepared to deal with them. We had to move a few times because my lease was not renewed because they had kids over while I was not home or I had to pull them out of school because of bullying problems, I also had one kid who loved taking my car out for joyrides. Those were the years I started getting gray hairs, each one earned like a badge of honor. 

As hard as being a single parent was, I would not trade a single second of it. Those years are the ones that shaped me into the person that I am today, those are the years where I found out my worth as a person. I didn't have to live with my mom, I didn't have to ask for government assistance (not that doing so is wrong) and even though we struggled at first, we never stopped living. We had our yearly trips to Disney, we were always out on weekends, and I was able to spoil them later for what they lacked those first years. I was not, still am not, the perfect parent - but I have always tried my best. 

My oldest girls are now all over the age of 21, we made it! When I see a young single mom or dad, I think back to my days in their position and wish I could tell them that it's going to be ok, I want to tell them that they are doing a great job. I don't think single parents hear that enough. 

Single Parenting Facts

  • There are 12 million single parent families in the U.S.
  • Eighty-four percent (9.8 million) of single parent households are single mother families and 16 percent are single father families.
  • The 2013 median income for families led by a single mother was about $26,000, one-third the median for married couple families ($84,000). Nearly half of single mother households have an annual income less than $25,000. Thirty-nine percent of single dads have an annual family income of $50,000 or more.
  • The annual cost of center-based infant care averaged more than 40 percent of the state median income for a single mother.

Angel Soft® recognizes the joys and challenges of being a single parent and wants to honor these everyday heroes. Debuting on March 20, the National Single Parent's Day video shares the stories of three single parents, we invite you to check it out. You will be able to see the video on Angel Soft's Facebook page and website. We ask that you help us share the video to build awareness for National Single Parent's Day. National Single Parent's Day is March 21.

5 Tips To Stretch Your Tax Refund

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser, Walmart Family Mobile. All opinions are mine alone. #YourTaxCash #CollectiveBias

It's tax season and for many people it's tax refund time. If you're one of those lucky people who is getting a refund from your taxes this year, versus paying, then you're pretty lucky. I've gotten to do both and the refund is my favorite of the two, for sure. But what do you do with your tax refund once you get it: do you forget all responsibilities and blow it on a girls weekend to Las Vegas, do you pay your car off or do you put it in the bank to grow interest?

My mom and older sister would say to not spend a penny and put it all in the bank. But that's not how I think. I already save a portion of my monthly income and my tax refund is for other things. With it I can pay some bills, get a new computer or phones for the family, and have some fun with it. 

Pay off high interest rate credit cards: I have four credit cards that I pay down every month, along with one card that carries a balance, which will go into a high interest rate next month. That means that by April 13th I have to zero it out or pay that high interest on the balance. I'm expecting my refund in a week and it will be the first thing I pay with it. Once it's paid off I can relax, look at what's left of my refund and decide what to do with the balance.

You can do the same by taking a look at all of your credit cards. Maybe you can't zero them out or pay them all, but look at the ones with the higher interest rates and pay off a portion of each. Paying off bills with your tax refund isn't the most fun way to spend it, but imagine how much you will save just from those high interest fees.

Switch to an affordable cell phone plan: If you've been on one of the larger cell phone carrier plans, you know how expensive it can be every single month, especially if you have a large family like mine.

Walmart Family Mobile has been the plan for my family for over three years now. It's the plan that my older girls started on and now the plan we have for all of the kids. The Walmart Family Mobile PLUS Plan is perfect for me and my family. 

Walmart Family Mobile Plus PlanUnlimited* Talk, Text, & Data which includes up to 10GB of 4G LTE then 2G plus a free VUDU movie credit every month ($7 value) per line for $49.88. (*Includes up to 10GB of 4G LTE† data then 2G).

Starting Walmart Family Mobile is easy, head to Walmart, just pick a phone or Bring Your Own, and get your SIM Kit for only $19.88.

Add kids to your family cell plan: In my family the two older kids have had cell phones for a few years and it's time do add another. Being able to stay in contact with the kids now that they all go to different schools and have after school activities separately, is an absolute necessity. I am thankful we have an affordable data plan carrier so paying the bills is not a nightmare. 

The new phone we picked out is the Samsung Galaxy On5. This phone is regularly priced at  $119.00 and is a great starter phone,

Have a family movie night versus going to the theater: With the WFM Unlimited Plus plan you get a free monthly movie credit ($7 value which is the same as a new release rental) on VUDU, which we watch on our smart tv at home. This free movie frees up a rather expensive movie night out with the kids so we can do something more fun with the extra cash.

Plan a family trip: Paying off bills and taking care of responsibilities is not the only thing you can do with your tax refund. You and the family should get to do something fun with your money, even if it's not something huge. This year I am getting a smaller refund so there is no 4-day vacation for us, but we can still take a few road trips and enjoy some family time shopping and just being out in amazing Southern California.

Getting a tax refund is a nice windfall of money that can really go a long way if you plan how to spend it carefully. Adulting isn't always fun and believe me, I would rather go on a nice vacation with the kids, but if you're careful you can be responsible AND still enjoy some of that money. Why not, you earned it!

What are some tips you can share with us for stretching our tax refunds even further? 

Disclaimer: All prices for phones and plans included in this post are accurate as of the date of posting; however, these prices are subject to change. Please refer to or your local Walmart for current pricing.

A Day at Oceanside Pier