Family, Travel, Runnning help me live my best life -- what helps you live yours?

2015 is almost at and end, and a new year is about to begin!  People all over the world are making New Years' Resolutions and challenging themselves to life the best lives they can. But what does living fully mean? Everyone has their own idea about what fulfillment means, but the quest to achieve it is universal.  For me, it means several things:

1) Spending as much time with my children and husband as I possibly can, making happy memories together as we travel to new places and share experiences.  I know that there will come a time when my kids begin to live their own lives, so I want to share as much of their lives as I can, while I can!

2) Staying as healthy as possible. I want to live as long as I can in order to fulfill my first mission -- the longer I live, the more time I get to spend with my family! I want to be alive and healthy to see my children, their children, and their grandchildren enjoy their own lives. Eating right and staying active gives me the very best chance of living a long, healthy life, so that's what I want to do.

3) Stay as positive as possible. Attitude is everything! Staying positive not only keeps me happy, it reduces stress levels which can be bad for my health. So I try not to sweat the small stuff.

4) Do what makes me happy. What makes me happiest? Traveling with my family!  I grew up in the Philippines and came to the US to live during my 20's. I've been traveling since I was 6, and my kids have been traveling since they were born. My husband (who is from the UK) and I consider ourselves global citizens and believe that everyone should take the opportunity to travel! We believe that because travel exposes people to lifestyles that are different from their own, it makes people more willing to try new things and more willing to see things from other people's point of view. We try to save up so we can travel every year -- the sacrifice of not eating out at fancy restaurants or watching lots of concerts or buying the latest phones and gadgets is so worth it to us if it means we can travel!

What inspires you to live your best life?  Abbott wants to know! They have set out to find out what living fully means to people around the world. Take their LIFE. TO THE FULLEST quiz to help them get the most comprehensive results! There is no wrong answer, and it's a lot of fun. It's also a great way to reflect upon what gets you to live your fullest life. Check out the hub which includes great videos, articles and fun facts. Here are 3 fun facts that stood out to me:

1) Most respondents -- 38% -- said that living their best life involves family.

2) My home country, the Philippines, is among the top 5 countries in Abbott's Global Pulse for Living Fully Rating, with survey respondents rating themselves with an average of 72 (on a scale of 1 to 100, with 1 being "not at all living fully" and 100 being "living fully,")!!  The average score is 65.

3) The top 5 are Costa Rica (78), Colombia (77), Mexico (75), Indonesia (74), and the Philippines (72). Notice that none of the top 5 are what you would call world superpowers -- these countries have a significant number of people living below the poverty line!  It's really all about attitude!

Fun, huh?!  Check out the site and take the quiz to share your own definition of living your best life! Or to put it another way, share your #fullosophy!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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Moscow Ballet Great Russian Nutcracker: a fresh twist on an old classic

I have seen many Nutcracker ballets in my time, and each one is special and unique in its own way...but I have never seen a Nutcracker quite like the one performed by the Moscow Ballet! I had the privilege of seeing it a few days ago with me daughter and mother-in-law, and it was a truly special night for all of us.

Many families are familiar with the story of the Nutcracker -- Clara gets a Nutcracker from her uncle Drosselmeyer, and she dreams of battling the mouse king with him, then traveling with the Nutcracker to the land of sweets, where different sweets (peppermints, Spanish chocolate, gingerbread, etc), including the Sugar Plum Fairy, dance for her.

The Moscow Ballet's Nutcracker is very different. First, Clara is now Masha. Second, she doesn't meet the Snow Queen, she meets Father Christmas (Ded Moroz) and Snow Maiden (Snegurochka). Also, Masha doesn't travel to the Land of Sweets, she travels to the Land of Peace and Harmony. Instead of sweets, we see various animals like doves, lambs, bears, dragons, and elephants (symbolized by beautiful giant puppets). 

For all the differences, it's still the Nutcracker we know and love. We still got to enjoy Tchaikovsky's music as 
well as familiar characters like Drosselmeyer, the wind up dolls, the Mouse King (albeit a three headed version!) and Masha's naughty brother. The costumes and sets are absolutely gorgeous (I especially love the scenery which pays homage to the onion tops of the cathedral in St. Petersburg). It's such a fresh version that even people who have been watching the Nutcracker year after year will love it!

Check out remaining dates for Northern California:

Redding, CA:
Redding Convention Center
December 25

For a Full Schedule of Event Dates/Venues and Times  visit  And use the code JOY to get the biggest discount of the season for your family!

Save on the Moscow Ballet's celebrated Great Russian Nutcracker 2015 North American Tour. USE PROMO CODE: JOY

Disclosure: I recieved complimentary tickets to view and review the show, courtesy of The views and opinions expressed here are my own. 
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What makes Cancer Treatment Centers of America different?

It’s hard to find someone whose life hasn’t been impacted by the C-word- cancer. For the women in my dad's family, it's actually the B-word-- breast cancer. My dad's mother (my grandmother) and all of her sisters (my great-aunts) had breast cancer. My dad's sister (my aunt) also had it. The family history doesn't stop there. My dad's father (my grandfather) had pancreatic cancer, and my dad had prostate cancer.

When my dad told me about his cancer, he made it seem like it was no big deal, but I think he was trying to protect his little girl and keep me from worrying. He is a doctor, so he was very involved in his treatment and he was well-versed in all of his options. He also has a huge support network -- family, friends, medical colleagues were all there to help him. Thanks to technology and support, cancer has not made a significant dent in his quality of life.

Sometimes I think it's only a matter of time before I'm diagnosed with cancer myself, and the fear sometimes gives me sleepless nights. But I remember how my dad faced cancer head on, and that gives me hope. I'm inspired and strengthened by his positive attitude -- if anything happens to me, I will get through it with my family and friends and the best medical technology I can find. I hope anyone facing cancer is lucky enough to have that!

The brave individuals and their families who are fighting a cancer battle need both the most advanced technology and a personalized touch. Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) gives both to every patient that walks through their doors by focusing on whole-person care as part of a personalized treatment plan. Did you know that nearly 70% of CTCA patients travel to a CTCA hospital from another state? Yes, the trip is worth it! CTCA makes sure that every patient has access to not only the leading medical technology, but additional services that address the entire spectrum of patient care:

  • nutrition therapy
  • naturopathic medicine
  • pain management
  • mind-body medicine
  • spiritual support

They even help with appointment scheduling, travel, and lodging, to remove the logistical stress (because fighting cancer is stressful enough!).

I know that having access to cutting edge technology and a great support system really helped my dad get through his fight with cancer -- and it sounds like CTCA believes the same thing.

Disclosure: This is a compensated post as part of a promotional program with CTCA and MomSelect. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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10 Ways to enjoy PEEPS over the holidays (and a giveaway for you!)

Holiday PEEPS

Breaking news for candy lovers: PEEPS, everyone's favorite Easter chicks aren't just for Easter any more! PEEPS & COMPANY® have all kinds of holiday themed goodies for your eating, gifting, and decorating pleasure. Here are 10 ideas for what to do with PEEPS candy this holiday season:
  1. Add to your holiday stockings 
  2. Give to classmates at school
  3. Leave in the break room at the office
  4. Add to a gift basket for teacher or a friend
  5. Add to a hostess gift 
  6. Place in do-it-yourself Advent Calendars
  7. Add to a cup of cocoa
  8. Decoration for holiday cookies
  9. Gingerbread house decoration
  10. Leave on a plate (instead of cookies) for Santa!

With so many different kinds of holiday PEEPS products, it's easy to make any of these 10 ideas look festive and merry. Just look at the assortment of PEEPS I saw inside our local grocery store!
Holiday PEEPS

Not only did I find the regular marshmallow PEEPS in holiday packs, I also found PEEPS® Candy Cane Flavored Marshmallow Chicks. I love how these packs come with a plush PEEPS chick with its own darling little Santa hat.
Holiday PEEPS

PEEPS sent me a basket of PEEPS goodies so we could get an idea of just how many different kinds of holiday PEEPS products are out there!  Check out this Vanilla Crème Chicks Pop -- it's so easy to make. Just buy some lollipop sticks at a craft or candy supply store, then stick on PEEPS chicks in different colors. You can also get the Vanilla Crème Chicks Pop ready-made, so it comes in decorative packaging, all ready for your stocking.
Holiday PEEPS

PEEPS candy doesn't just come in the classic chick shape! xtra holiday cheer, you can get Gingerbread-Flavored Marshmallow Gingerbread Men, Marshmallow Trees, Marshmallow Snowmen, even a Large Marshmallow Snowman. These are just perfect for a holiday gingerbread house! Why not buy a bunch and have a gingerbread house decorating party.
Holiday PEEPS

Other PEEPS holiday products include Chocolate Mint Marshmallow Trees and Chocolate Mousse Reindeer. As if all of that wasn't enough variety, PEEPS AND COMPANY® makes more than just PEEPS products. Check out their Snowman Lollipop  made with candy melts,  MIKE AND IKE candy in a candy cane tube, Hot Tamales in a candy cane tube, and Teenee Beanie Menorah Mix, You can see the full holiday selection online at
Holiday PEEPS

Win Holiday PEEPS products
One lucky Bonggamom Finds reader will receive a variety of (5) five PEEPS® and PEEPS & COMPANY® products to use as holiday treats. Enter via the Rafflecopter widget below, but hurry, this giveaway ends on December 17!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received samples for review. Giveaway product provided by PEEPS AND COMPANY.  The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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American Girl Holiday Accessories for Dolls

Holiday Accessories for Dolls (shrug)

Yesterday I reviewed one of the American Girl 2015 holiday items: the Joyful Jewels dress. But what is a holiday outfit without accessories? The American Girl Holiday Accessories for Dolls set has everything a doll wants to complete her holiday celebrations. I received a sample of the accessories set to review, and I agree, it's the perfect complement to the Joyful Jewels dress. If you're getting your daughter/niece/goddaughter/granddaughter the Joyful Jewels dress, make sure you get this accessory set to go along with it!

Holiday Accessories for Dolls (complete set)
The full set includes:

  • A velveteen shrug to add a bit of warmth to any fancy dress
  • A ring to add a glimmer to the festivities
  • A glitter globe that makes a great gift for a special friend; it has loose glitter and a little tree inside (no liquid)
  • Pretend striped glossy ribbon candy
  • A candy box
  • A pink gift bag covered in foil snowflakes
  • A sheet of red tissue paper

Here's a close up of the gift items. The ribbon candy is so pretty, and so is the snow globe. Proportion-wise, I'm not sure the two items work well together (compare the size of the globe next to the size of the ribbon candy; if that globe were the size of a child's palm, that candy would be huge!!), but I love the level of detail in both of them.
Holiday Accessories for Dolls (partial set)

Here's a close up of the ring. It fits on American Girl dolls' pinkie fingers or index fingers. The ring's size is adjustable, but take care because it can easily fall off a doll's finger.
Holiday Accessories for Dolls (ring)

How I wish this were available in real-person size! Who wouldn't want to see this under their Christmas tree with their name on it?! Right now, the Holiday Accessories for Dolls set is on sale for $22 (originally $32) so it's a great deal.
Holiday Accessories for Dolls (c) Accessories for Dolls (partial set)

Disclosure: I received a sample for review.  The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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American Girl Playful Polar Bear pajamas

Playful Polar Bear PJs and  Cozy Christmas Scene

The holidays have arrived at American Girl, and there are gift ideas galore for every girls big and little, and budgets big and little! Right now all their regularly-priced merchandise is on sale at 20% off until December 12, so don't delay, get those presents for your American Girl today! The sale is good at, the American Girl catalog, and the American Girl stores.

I'm really loving the Playful Polar Bear PJ set that American Girl sent me to review! The set (modeled below by McKenna) features a red long-sleeved tunic top with a polar bear graphic and polar bear print pajama leggings. Also included are knit red bootie slippers with white faux fur trim and red rubber bands so you can keep her hair in pigtails or braids. This set is so festive and it looks just like something a little girl would wear.
Playful Polar Bear PJs and  Cozy Christmas Scene

The Cozy Christmas Scene is the perfect backdrop for photographing McKenna in her PJs (or any holiday scene for that matter!). I just couldn't resist purchasing it (especially with that 20% discount), and I'm so glad I did. It really looks as though McKenna is relaxing with her polar bear friend and his holiday present (neither are included in the pajama set nor the backdrop, BTW) in her beautifully-decorated home. At just $12, the Cozy Christmas Scene makes a great inexpensive present. I'd say it would make a great stocking stuffer, but it's too big to fit into a stocking!
Playful Polar Bear PJs and  Cozy Christmas Scene

Disclosure: I received a review sample of the doll pajama set. I purchased the Cozy Christmas Scene and other photo props myself. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Dig Into IHOP's Festive Flavors

I don't think I could eat cereal every morning for breakfast, but I sure as anything could eat pancakes (or waffles or french toast), sausage and eggs every morning -- or every afternoon and evening! I don't think I'd ever get sick of them, especially when you can always add a seasonal twist to your pancakes or waffles or french toast.

As if to prove my point, IHOP has assembled a delicious collection of holiday-themed dishes and is serving them at IHOP restaurants all season long. If you haven't really thought of IHOP as a holiday restaurant, think again -- they've got Christmas trees at the entrance, the walls are covered in holiday decor, and their holiday dishes make any meal merrier!  The holiday offerings I most wanted to try are:

Banana Bread French Toast: banana bread with cinnamon bits, dipped in vanilla French toast batter, then grilled and topped with caramel sauce, powdered sugar, and whipped topping.

Caramel Bon Bon pancakes: buttermilk pancakes layered with Dulce de Leche cream, topped with caramel sauce and whipped topping.

Pumpkin Waffles: Belgian waffles made with real pumpkin, topped with pumpkin spice sugar and whipped topping.

Unfortunately, the restaurant was out of caramel syrup (I guess word gets around and everyone ordered a dish with caramel sauce!), so they weren't taking orders for the Caramel Bon Bon Pancakes. I decided on the Banana Bread French Toast.  It was divine! The banana bread had the flavor of real bananas in it, and it was so dense and moist it was almost like a pudding. The French Bread batter gave it a crispy coating, and bananas and whipped topping gave the dish a nice finishing touch.

As with most of IHOP's pancakes, waffles, and french toast dishes, you can order Banana Bread French Toast by itself, or you can order it as part of a breakfast meal which includes your choice of bacon or sausage, two eggs (cooked whatever way you choose), and hash browns. The Banana Bread French Toast portion is smaller when you order it as part of a meal. I love IHOP's hash browns, so I can't visit an IHOP without ordering it. The Banana Bread French Toast was the perfect sweet ending to my meal!

Other items on the holiday menu include Chicken and Pumpkin Spice Waffle (a belgian waffle with pumpkin puree, topped with pumpkin spice sugar and candied pecans, served with crispy chicken).....

.... Roasted Turkey Breast with all the fixins (gravy, cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli and lingonberry sauce).....

... and a Pumpkin Waffle Sundae (a belgian waffle with pumpkin puree, topped with pumpkin spice sugar and candied pecans, served with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce)...

... and don't forget the drinks! Pumpkin coffee (roasted Arabica beans with pumpkin syrup, whipped topping and a sprinkle of pumpkin spice) and Toasted Marshmallow Hot Chocolate (hot chocolate flavored with Toasted Marshmallow Syrup, topped with whipped topping and cocoa powder) are the perfect way to warm up on chilly nights.

Jammy ordered Red Velvet Pancakes, which are a huge seasonal favorite at IHOP. They taste soooo good when eaten with IHOP's strawberry pancake sauce!

I wish I had the stomach capacity to try all of IHOP's holiday dishes! I guess we'll just have to go back and order the rest of IHOP's merry menu -- but just like the holidays, it won't last, so head to IHOP ASAP.

Disclosure: I  received a gift card to try IHOP's holiday offerings. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Save 20% on Label Daddy for the holidays

The holidays are here and it's gift wrapping season! We are part of a huge family: we are 5 kids, my mom has 6 siblings, my dad has 4 siblings, and each of them have their own kids! My maternal grandmother has 38 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren! That's a lot of presents to wrap. We love each and every one of them, so we want each and every present to be special.... but wrapping all of them can be time consuming!

If you have a large family like ours, check out Label Daddy, the number one solution for labeling your belongings. Their new Holiday inspired Gift Tags, Return Address Labels and Gift Wrap Packs! All Christmas and Hannukah designs! Decorate, celebrate and enjoy! The entire Holiday Collection is waterproof and dishwasher safe! Here's a closer look:

Need return address labels for your holiday cards? Label Daddy has festive holiday designs that will complement any holiday card. Your recipients will know that they're receiving a bit of seasonal cheer even before they open the envelope!

Need gift tags to mark your holiday presents? Check out Label Daddy's holiday-themed gift tags! They'll add a level of pizzazz to your holiday presents because they're personalized with your name and message. These gift tags make it easy to wrap a great looking present without spending a lot of time and effort (which is important when you have 30 cousins to shop for!).

For the ultimate in ease, get a Label Daddy Gift Wrap Pack, which includes everything you need to wrap the perfect present. With Label Daddy, your present will look as good on the outside as it does on the inside! It will be almost too pretty to unwrap. Almost.

Be sure to stock up on everyday labels too! Label Daddy labels are super durable peel-and-stick washable labels -- they're washer/dryer safe, microwave safe, dishwasher safe and UV resistant! Label Daddy labels are also fun and attractive. You design your own labels! Pick from tons of colors, sizes and logos, including Disney and Marvel characters, MLB, NBA, and NHL team logos, other sport and fun logos, and more. Their exclusive laminated coating gives labels an extra layer of protection and is a must for camp! These labels are made in the USA and shipped directly to you worldwide.

Save 20% on your entire Label Daddy order - this is the best discount available anywhere. Use code USFAMILY20 at checkout.

Disclosure: I am receiving a sample for review courtesy of The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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American Girl Joyful Jewels Dress for Dolls

American Girl holidays 2015

When I first saw American Girl's 2015 holiday doll outfit collection, I was immediately drawn to the Joyful Jewels outfit. There is just something so fun and festive about a red party dress; whenever I see it, it puts me into a holiday mood!

Joyful Jewels Outfit

When I received a sample of the Joyful Jewels Outfit to review, I got to see the beautiful detail and fell in love with it even more. The dress has a red velvet bodice with a neckline adorned with gems, sequins, and a taffeta overlay. The skirt is red tafetta and tulle, with a taffeta bow. This dress is sugar and spice and everything nice, but it's also fire and sass and a whole lot of class.
Joyful Jewels Outfit dress detail

Note that the black shrug is not included in the outfit; it is included in the Holiday Accessories set (review coming soon!).

The outfit also comes with shiny black t-strap shoes and a red headband. Just look at the detail on the jeweled headband!

Joyful Jewels Outfit headband

You can also get the matching girls' dress so your American Girl and her doll can match! It's really the perfect outfit for a holiday tea, holiday party, Nutcracker performance, music recital, or family holiday gathering at Hanukkah or Christmas. The girls' dress is on sale right now for $47 (down from $68) which is a really great deal.

Disclosure: I received a product sample to review. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Foster Grant sunglasses: on point and cool as ever

Foster Grant sunglasses

Remember the slogan "Who's that behind those Foster Grants"? Foster Grant is still around, and their sunglasses are better than ever! Foster Grant sent me several pairs of their high fashion glasses and they were the perfect accessory for The Pea on last week's road trip to sunny San Diego.

Foster Grant sunglasses

She loved the pink and gold toned aviator shades with glittery bling on the sides. They make her look so grown up! I love that they are UVA/UBB protected, so her eyes are protected. I also love that they're so affordable: right now, styles for men, women and children are all under $30.

Foster Grant sunglasses

Did you know that Foster Grant also makes high fashion reading glasses for a low price of under $20?  This definitely puts Foster Grant sunglasses into the stocking stuffer price range! Who wouldn't want a cool new pair of shades in their holiday stocking?
Foster Grant sunglasses
You can find Foster Grants for sale at CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, and online.

Disclosure: I received a product sample to facilitate my review. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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