Thursday, June 13, 2013

Five Tips for Protecting Yourself From Identity Theft

Felt Stories aims to provide unbiased editorials. However, I wish to disclose that from time to time I may receive free products or other compensation from companies for blogger reviews

Photo courtesy of LifeLock

Growing up with parents who have spent their whole life working the financial business, I have grown-up knowing the importance of protecting myself from identity theft. Although, we can do our best to prevent it from happening, everyone is at risk. Instead of being afraid of identity theft, I have been using these tips to help protect my family's identity.

The first tip that I have to share is the importance of getting credit checks done on a regular basis. It is a small investment to help keep your identity safe. Knowing that your identity has been stolen in the earlier stages is much easier to resolve than learning about it years after it has been happening.

The second tip is not to share personal information on social networks. Avoid putting your birthdate, home address, phone number or any other information that identity thieves can use to steal your identity. Although you might miss out people posting birthday messages on your Facebook wall, you are taking an important step towards keeping yourself protected.

The third tip is to invest in a good quality shredder. Shred everything that might have your personal information on it before tossing it into the trash. Another way to expand on this is to get a lock on your mailbox or have your mail sent to a PO Box. Identity thieves will dig through trash or steal mail from mailboxes where they can easily get your personal information.

The fourth tip is to use strong passwords, and change them once a month. I keep a password journal with all my passwords for every online account. I ensure that all my passwords are at least 12 or more letters and include numbers, letters and symbols.

Finally, get a service like LifeLock for identity theft protection. LifeLock can do all the work in keeping your identity safe with threat detection, internet surveillance, alert systems and more. They have 24/7 live personal customer service and is one of the best services available on the internet.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Curing A Bad Day

"Mom, I had a bad day at Kindergarten."

When my six year old got into the car today and quietly mumbled these words - my heart broke.

When I asked him what went wrong today, he would not answer. I am so blessed not to have him in full-day care, so I took advantage of my time with him, and brought him down to the beach for lunch.

It is amazing what powers Mother Nature has over our feelings, emotions and moods. When we first sat on the sand, he said, "I don't want to play."

Then he stood up..

Walked toward the water..

Touched his toes in the water..

Looked to see if anyone was looking...

And then..

Jumped into the waves.

It was magical sitting there watching him come out of his shell, and turning around his day. Then I joined him in the water and we started splashing each other. We laughed...we ran...and we created a moment that we will both never forget.

We left our heart in the sand before having to go pick-up his brother and sister from school.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Why I Love Gardening

While on my journey, of finding a love for cooking, I learned that produce in the grocery store was not as it was when I was a kid. Although, I thought I was cooking healthy for my children...was I?

As I walk through the grocery store, all the apples, lemons, tomatoes, avocados are all perfectly the same exact size. How does that happen? Talented farmers? No! GMO's.

Over the years, our population has grown, and the food supply has increased. Just think about all those pickles going into the billions of McDonald's cheeseburgers sold. Our Country cannot possibly naturally grow enough to supply just that one fast food chain. So, they have figured out a way to genetically engineer fruits and vegetables. Hence, my personal opinion of the increase in food allergies like my son.

Our bodies are not made to process engineered food, let along food sprayed with pesticides. So, I commit a lot of my time to growing as many fruits and vegetables as possible for my family and participating in a co-op.

This year, I let other things in life interfere with my passion of gardening and I am extremely late getting everything into the ground. There is a good possibility that I was too late for planting a lot of my summer favorites like eggplant.

Every morning I get up an hour before the kids and go out into the yard to work. Within the next couple of weeks, my garden will have doubled from its current size, and then we will start to bear the fruits of my labor.

Then when I am cooking a delicious meal for my family loaded with vegetables, I will know that it is 100% good for them.

Follow along with my gardening adventures this summer on Instagram under my personal hashtag #BaroneFarm. 

Do you have a passion? What is your passion?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

New Lifetime Parenting Reality Show 'Pretty Wicked Moms'

Compensation was received for this coverage. All of our thoughts and opinions about the show are of our own.

There is nothing I love better than a great reality show. I sneak off every day to the gym just to get my daily dose of reality shows while working out, and often times they are even filming a local reality show at my local gym. When I heard that Lifetime was launching a new mom based reality show,  Pretty Wicked Moms, I was eager to see what it was all about.

When I watched the first episode over the weekend, my mouth dropped to the floor. I could not believe that there are moms out there as "wicked" as these women on the show. If I did not know it was a reality show, I would have thought that these women were actors.

One of the women on the show said it best. It is like a "giant gossip fest."

Everything these women are doing on the show is the complete opposite of how I raise my children. It is interesting to see that some people are actually so self-absorbed and care so little about what is truly important in life - your family.

You are not going to want to miss this new reality show. Tune in to watch parenting like you've never seen before with the first episode of Pretty Wicked Moms on Tuesday, June 4th at 10pm ET/PT on Lifetime.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

My Miracle Baby

My birth stories are much different from most mothers. My first two children were adopted, and my third child was the only one who I gave birth too. When I first found out that I was pregnant, I was excited and nervous at the same time.

After my first appointment with the doctor, we learned that my pregnancy would be an extremely high risk pregnancy. They had found that there was an abnormality in my womb that put my unborn child and I at risk.

With three young children running around the house, I was had to stop everything and stay in bed for my entire pregnancy or run the risk of pre-term labor. I went from being an active parent, to parenting my children bedside. Everything was going smoothly until I went into full-term labor at 18 weeks.

At that time, I was faced with the possibility of having a premature baby who might not survive. As the doctors stood there telling us what was going to happen if they could not stop the labor, my world stopped. Their mouths were moving, but the world was silent. In that moment - I felt helpless.

My body felt like it was being poisoned from all the different medications that were being shot into my blood stream. I laid in that hospital bed, only getting up once during the 16 weeks that I was hospitalized. After all the hard work of my medical team, they were able to be successful in keeping my baby in a place where he could grow and survive birth.

Although, my son was still born premature with some health issues, he is now an active busy young boy. Without the care that I received, there is a possibility that my son would not be here today. Not all women in the world are fortunate to have the medical care that I have. Many are faced with the same situation that I was in, but without any options.

Save the Children are helping to raise awareness of the women that are in need of healthcare, with their first feature Birth Day Risk Index. The index will compare first-day death rates for babies in 186 countries to identify the safest and most dangerous places to be born.

This is not a sponsored post. This is just a story to help raise awareness of an issue that I am passionate about. :)

Monday, May 6, 2013

Walt Disney World Here We Come! #DisneySMmoms

It has felt like a dream planning our trip to Disney World over the past two months, and it is officially here. When we came home from Tyler's school play tonight, we were surprised with a package that contained a special suitcase just for us to use on our trip to Disney World. From the moment, the kids saw the Disney Social Media Moms sticker on the box they new it was filled with something magical. A bag just for them to bring back to Disney World to fill with all their memories.

American Tourister is the official luggage of Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts so we will be arriving "officially" in style with our official Disney luggage.

Follow along our adventures at the celebration online on twitter under the hashtag #DisneySMmoms. We will be packing our bags, our hearts and our dreams as we plan to spend the week at Walt Disney World.

Disclosure: We were provided with this luggage on behalf of Disney. All of our photos, thoughts and opinions are of our own.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

I Don't Want to Grow-Up

Or more like "I don't want them to grow-up." It seemed just like yesterday that we were signing Andrew's adoption paperwork, and now he has turned eleven. Although I have cherished every moment with him over the past eleven years, I cannot help but wonder where the time has gone.

As I sat on the bench at the park after school yesterday, I saw all the little kids running around with my youngest son Tyler. I flashed back to all the memories that I had of Andrew doing the same thing. The adorable way that he would dance around, laugh so hard that he would roll around on the floor and the big smile that would grace his face with every new discovery.

Although I miss those years, the memories will be in my heart forever as we begin new chapters in his life together.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Kid-Friendly Ratatouille Recipe

Bonjour! Earlier this week, I exposed my kids to a touch of European food by making homemade ratatouille. Now I did not have a mouse under my hat helping me to cook it, but it did end up being pretty delicious and packed with tons of vegetables. I hope that you enjoy it!


  • 4 Tbl. of olive oil
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 2 zucchini
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tea. of fresh parsley

Heat olive oil on the stovetop. Cook garlic for 1-2 minutes before adding eggplant and parsley. Cook until the eggplant is softened.

In a casserole dish, spread eggplant mixture into dish. The add a dash of parmesan.

Then layer on top of the eggplant the following vegetables while adding parmesan in-between each layer. zucchini, onion, bell pepper and then the tomato.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Chocolate Banana Jam Recipe

When I was a kid, my Grandma would always make me "monkey jam" aka. banana jam. I have so many memories of her spreading it over a piece of warm toast for a snack while I was staying at her house. Since I was in the kitchen working on some recipes for the next OC Family Magazine issue, I decided to make some of her "monkey jam." I added some chocolate to put my own twist on our family recipe.


  • 2 Large bars of chocolate (100grams each)
  • 12 mini bananas (they are sweeter) or 4-5 regular bananas (they must be ripe)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 1/2 cups of raw sugar

Mix all the ingredients into a blender. Blend until thick and creamy. Store in the refrigerator for up to one week. Serve on warm toast or over pancakes.

Monsters University Final Theatrical Trailer #MonstersUEvent

I can't believe that it has already been over two weeks since attending Monsters University in San Francisco. It was an amazing experience getting to step into the world of Monsters University at the Pixar Animation Studios.

While at the Pixar Animation Studios we had an opportunity to be one of the first to see the first 40 minutes of the almost complete film of Monsters University. Today we are excited to be able to share with you a sneak peek at the final theatrical trailer for Monsters University that is being released to the public today!

You are invited to attend the first day of the school year at Monsters University at a theater Nationwide on June 21, 2013. 

Disclosure: We attended a press event at Pixar Studios for the release of Monsters University. All of our photos, thoughts and opinions are of our own. We did not receive compensation for this post and the sneak peek to the trailer was provided to us on behalf of Disney.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Fun and Fresh Parenting Tips

Happy mother and daughter laughing together outdoors

Parenting is fun, but there are also many challenges that come along with it. Getting your kids to eat their vegetables and keeping active toddlers entertained are just a few challenges of parenting. Tia Mowery is a new mother to a one-year-old toddler. She was featured on the Circle of Moms video series in partnership with Kia offering Parenting Tips along with Author and Psychotherapist, Stacy Kaiser.

Dealing with a picky eater is something that many moms have dealt with during their years as a new parent. Many parents have used bribing techniques to get their children to eat their vegetables just to avoid conflict at the dinner table. While watching the Circle of Moms video series, I was able to get some new and insightful tips for helping to make dinnertime less of a struggle.

During the video series made in partnership with Kia, I was able to learn more about all new 2014 Kia Sorento, and how I can make traveling with kids more enjoyable. All new 2014 Kia Sorento has many features that parents will love including the one touch start, so new parents do not have to worry about digging for keys in the diaper bag.

Finally, the latest video from the Circle of Moms by POPSUGAR shared tips for taking better photos of your kids. I love taking pictures of my kids, (sometimes too many pictures) and the tips helped me to be able to capture better memories of our time together.

Enjoy watching the latest video from Circle of Moms by POPSUGAR in partnership with Kia in the link below. It will be a fun and informative time to reflect on your time as a mother.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Kia through their partnership with Circle of Moms. While I was compensated to review the Kia Motors video and write a review, all opinions are my own

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wings of Life Gardening Tips

My son and I loved the Disneynature movie, "Wings of Life." With Earth Day closely approaching, this movie will bring children closer to nature and grow a new love and appreciate for our Earth. In anticipation of the movie release on April 16th, we have this beautiful slideshow to share.

Disclosure: Slideshow and photos provided on behalf of Disney. We attended a media preview for the movie.

Five Ways to Prepare for an Allergic Reaction

My son during an allergic reaction

When having a child who suffers from an allergic reaction, preparedness key. Sometimes parents are unaware that their child suffers from an allergic reaction until the child has the first reaction. When my child was just two years old, he suffered from his first life-threatening allergic reaction while on vacation. I was unprepared for my child's allergic reaction, and that almost cost him his life. With food allergies on the rise and children getting diagnosed every day, I encourage parents to be prepared in case of a reaction. These are five basic tips for helping to be prepared in the event that your child has an allergic reaction.

If your doctor approves your child being able to take Benadryl, keep a small amount of liquid Benadryl in your diaper bag, purse or backpack. Benadryl can quickly calm down facial swelling, hives or airway constriction until getting a child to see a doctor. (Liquid Benadryl absorbs faster than the pills or chewable tablets)

Have your medical information including your child's doctor information, insurance information, child's weight and height wherever your child goes. When my son had his first allergic reaction, the first thing the EMT asked was his height and weight so that they knew how much medication they can immediately give him in the ambulance.

If your child has suffered from a previous reaction, and your doctor has prescribed an epi-pen have it with your child at all times. My son currently wears his epi-pen along with his medical information in a small fanny pack. That way, if I am not with him, then he will always have his life saving medication with him at all times.

Have a small journal and a pen available. What I learned was that it was beneficial to document everything that happened before leaving in the ambulance. Have someone help write down all the foods on the table during the time of the reaction, the times of the reactions and document everything. This is going to be valuable information needed within the upcoming weeks to help your child's doctor.

Stay as calm as possible - which is not easy. Children usually do not understand what is happening, and it can be frightening. If the parent or caregiver stays calm, it will help the child cope better with the situation..

Awareness and preparedness are key with allergic reactions. Take time to research the warning signs of an allergic reaction, and be prepared at all times. Being prepared will help to lessen the stress for everyone.

Wordless Wednesday: Friends Make the World Go Round

Disclosure: this photo was taken on a Disney press trip. All of our thoughts are of our own.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Monsters University Orientation Day #MonstersUEvent

Tee (That's It Mommy) Vanessa (The Queen of Swag)
Today I officially landed in San Francisco for orientation at Monsters University. From the moment that I stepped off the bus at Pixar Studios, I was immersed into the movie.  Just knowing that I was in the building, where so many of the movies that have brought joy and happiness to my children were created had me smiling from ear to ear.

Everything from the movie was right here at the Pixar Studios. I felt just like I was Mike Wizouwski walking into Monster's University for the first day of scare school.

We first started with orientation. We took photos for our school ID, and then we got a chance to see the first 40 minutes of the film. The film was amazing, and I cannot wait to see how the finished film turns out.

Then we played around the quad for awhile right under the giant Pixar lamp. I was just waiting for it to start jumping like it does on the films.

I have a feeling that there is going to be sign-ups tomorrow for classes when we return for our second day of school.

We might even get to play some scare games! Keep up with the excitement tomorrow on twitter under the hashtag #MonstersUEvent. Along with 25 other bloggers, we will be sharing our experiences from the trip live on Twitter.

Disclosure: We were provided with a media trip on behalf of Disney. All our photos, thoughts and opinions are of our own. We were not compensated for this post.

Learning the Importance of Life with Wings of Life

There is one thing that I have made a conscious effort of doing with my children, and that is teaching them the importance of caring for our earth. After my older son had developed food allergies, we began working to grow as much of our fruits and vegetables as possible. Over the years, my children have gained a love for caring our our garden and the earth. There is one thing that I have not yet taught my children about yet, and that is about the pollinators that give our plants the ability to grow the food that we eat.

Last week, I brought my youngest son Tyler with me to Los Angeles for a screening of the new Disneynature film, "Wings of Life." The movie told a touching story of how our life does not just depends on the flowers, but also on the pollinators.

Before watching the movie, we would always swat at a bumblebee when working in the garden unaware that they were the creatures that were making our garden grow. Not only does our garden need bumblebees to produce the fruits and vegetables, but the bee population has been diminishing.

My son and I learned about the process that bees and other pollinators go through to produce life on our earth. We gained a new love and appreciation for pollinators and will never find ourselves swatting at a bee or other insect again.

Following the movie, we enjoyed an education question and answer period with the director of the film, Louie Schwartzberg. The next morning, my son and I went into the garden, and started planting more flowers. The flowers will help the pollinators flourish and grow around us, helping to bring more life to our planet.

Wings of Life will be available on Blu-ray and DVD on April 16th.

Disclosure: We attended a media screening of Wings of Life. All of our photos, thoughts and opinions are of our own.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

College Here I Come #MonstersUEvent

Tomorrow morning I board a plane for Monsters University along with 25 of my favorite blogger friends. I am excited and nervous all at the same time. Thinking about going back-to-school brings so many fun memories back to my mind, and I cannot wait to start making new memories.

As I sat here tonight packing my bags, making sure I have enough memory cards, camera batteries and camera lenses I started thinking about my babies. I am always a mother first. I love my job more than any other job I have had in my lifetime, but my job as a mother always comes first - no matter what. I started thinking about how my Tyler was hugging me extra tight tonight at dinner, and how Andrew was a little extra emotional before bedtime.

I wanted to make sure that they were going to know, that although mommy was away that she still loves them just as much as she does when she is home. That although I am not there the minute the school bell rings, that my heart is right there with them. It is always hard to say good-bye to your children. At the same time, being away will give me a chance to reflect on my time at as a mother, and come home a better mother than ever before.

So before, I went to bed, I am leaving individual notes for all my children to read when I am gone. Each one tailored special to how I feel about them. Since I am such a stickler for healthy eating in my home, I am leaving them each with their dream - a box of junk cereal to enjoy every morning while I am gone - and some hidden candy treats under their beds. I know that they will enjoy creating unique memories with their daddy that they would not have been able to create, with our normal family routine.

I will miss them dearly while I am in College..but at the same time, I will have a blast...just like them!

Disclosure: I am going on a media trip provided on behalf of Disney. All my thoughts and opinions are of my own.
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