Monday, October 26, 2015

Garcia Family's Compassion Experience

A few weeks ago I came across a post on social media about a traveling exhibit called the "Compassion Experience". The simple description said the interactive exhibit would put me in the life of a child living in poverty in the Philippines. I knew this was going to be a great experience for my boys. It would bring to life the stories I've shared with them about less fortunate kids in the world.

Although I was born in the United States, I have a spot in my heart for the county where my parents are from. I can recall the times I've visited the Philippines and seeing the street kids begging.

There was an instance when my husband and I, along with some family members went sightseeing. As we were driving through the streets of Manila, at every stop light, our car was mobbed by street kids. At least a dozen kids approached the car, peering and knocking onto our windows and asking for money. They were dirty, with dingy clothes, all with slippers, many of which were broken. I vividly remember a young girl, no more than 10 years old, carrying a baby of a few months with her as she begged. It was heart breaking.

Display at the Compassion Experience
Our family members advised us to not open the windows and to not give them money. They advised us more than once because they saw how much we wanted to help the kids. After about three lights, I couldn't take it. I pulled some change out of my purse and opened the window. Within seconds, the mob of kids tripled around our car, our windows blackened by the bodies of children surrounding our car making it hard to leave once the light turned green. 

All my cousin could say was , "I told you not to open the window..."

Image from Google Images
Back to the Compassion Experience...

The Compassion Experience was held at New Hope Church in the Chula Vista suburb of San Diego. Once we arrived, there was a bit of a line. Once at the front of the line, we were given headphones and an iPod to guide us and narrate the exhibit.

We first met Kiwi from the Philippines. It started with putting us in the scene of the hospital where she as born via c-section with no anesthesia because of the limited resources in the province where she lived. We went through her hut home in the county, the wet market where her family made a living, her school, and her other home in the city which became flooded every time it rained.

In our ears, Kiwi told us about her life, her alcoholic father, and the struggles her family has every day. I couldn't help but tear up during this exhibit as I thought of the street kids who begged at our car in the Philippines. I thought about the young girl with the baby in her arms as she begged.

The next exhibit was Jonathan from the Dominican Republic. He told us of being responsible for selling juice with his mom to feed the family and provide for their needs. Often times what they made was not enough. He talked going to school with his tattered uniform and his shoes held together by string and cardboard. He shared the heart breaking story of his dad who disowned him and left him and his mom for another family. 

Both stories ended with their experience with Compassion International. Both Kiwi and Jonathan shared how through Compassion International their lives changed for the better. With the help of their sponsors from Compassion International, their daily needs were provided for, they received an education, and they both are giving back to their communities as adults.

I was impressed with how engaged my sons where throughout the exhibit. They seemed to get lost in the stories they were hearing. A few times they asked clarifying questions, terms they didn't understand, or concepts they hadn't heard of before. 

At the end of the exhibit, we saw the profiles of young people all over the world who are in need of sponsors through Compassion International. My eldest son begged for us to sponsor a child. He wouldn't let us leave unless we did so.  

We took a look at the display of children from the Philippines. Since we have two sons, we decided we wanted to sponsor a little girl from the Philippines. Unfortunately, there were no girls from the Philippines on display. We had a asked the staff if they had any girls from the Philippines to sponsor. 

She left and came back with four little girls to choose form. We decided to choose a little girl born the same year as our youngest. As we started to read her profile, we came to realize her birthday was the same as my late-grandfather's, which happened to be the following day of our Compassion Experience. The little girl's name, Jillianne, was also similar to my grandfather's name Julian and is also the name sake of my eldest son. It seemed like it was meant to be for our family to sponsor little Jillianne. 

I'm looking forward to our letters and communication with Jillianne! My boys are super excited to start receiving letters and writing their own letters to her. I'll be sharing our experiences here periodically. 

To visit upcoming Compassion Experience in your area, visit To sponsor a child for yourself, visit

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Snow Ice and Halo Halo Yummies at Snoice SD

I love, love, love desserts! Especially Filipino desserts! When I found out there was a new custom "halo-halo" spot in San Diego, I knew I had to be there!

Snoice is a recently opened dessert shop in San Diego, California. It specializes in serving Taiwanese inspired shaved snow, Filipino inspired halo halo, and SoCal crazed boba teas. A few ladies from San Diego Filipino Blogger Network and I spent a Sunday evening enjoying some sweet treats!
Halo-Halo has to be one of my favorite Filipino desserts. It can be compared to Hawaiian shaved ice or Mexican raspados. Halo-halo means "mix-mix" in Filipino which exactly what the dessert is. It's a mix of sweet beans, jello, ube, fruit, rice krispies, and flan topped with shaved ice, evaporated milk, and ice cream. When prepared, all the ingredients are layered. When you are ready to eat the halo-halo, you mix it up really good to fuze all the flavors together.

The Special Halo-Halo I had at Snoice was "oh so yum"! My halo-halo was made with creamy avocado ice cream. The "pinipig" a.k.a. rice krispies and the leche flan are my favorite parts of halo-halo. The crunchy, sweet goodness of it all brings happiness to my tummy!

My kids were excited to try the shaved snow. Jelo had plain shaved snow which had a creamy vanilla flavor. He had his shaved ice with his favorite Oreos. DJ had the plain shaved snow as well with his favorites gummy bears and strawberry popping pearls. Shaved snow is lighter than ice cream and has less dairy than frozen yogurt. It's made from fully-flavored blocks of ice made with real fresh fruit. There are no artificial colors, flavors, ingredients, or preservatives. The flavors of snow ice Snoice offers include strawberry, ube, mango, Thai tea, and honeydew. My kids slurped up their shaved ice and said, "ooh mom, this is goooooood!"

Photo compliments of Snoice
The shaved snow comes out as fluffy, creamy layers of silky thin, ribbon-like shavings from flavored ice blocks made with real fresh fruit. The process requires special equipment to flash freeze the blocks in under 4 hours and shave down into an airy consistency. Here you can see my honeydew shaved ice in the making! It's so cool!
A video posted by @lovelylysa on
Photo compliments of Snoice
Snoice also serves up boba milk and fruit teas too!
Photo compliments of Snoice
Snoice's owners Dianne and Jayrell invite the community to join in its most anticipated grand opening. Dianne and Jayrell, who left their careers in New York City's startup world to focus on raising a family. Both lived in households who built small businesses in the restaurant and event space. Coincidentally, the couple aspired to create a unique environment where their one year old son, Nathan, would have the opportunity to bond with friends and family, pay tribute to Filipino-American heritage, and give back to the same neighborhood and community that his parents grew up in.

Snoice is right next to Kababayan Bakery where you can grab a traditional Filipino meal as well!

For any inquiries or to learn more about Snoice, visit their official website at, visit them on Instagram, or Facebook.

Thanks to Snoice, Jayrell, and Dianne for being awesome hosts and treating us to some yummy sweet treats! We can't wait to visit again!

Snoice Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclaimer: I received food samples in exchange for this blog post. All opinions are mine. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Lady Soma: For the Healthy, Active and Balanced Woman

The little luxuries embedded in my busy mommy life is what keeps me going every day. A spirtz of rose water, lathering on some aromatic lotion, or relaxing tunes through my Beats in my ears - it's the little things that make me feel good and get me through the most busiest of days. Thanks to Lady Soma I can have, what I like to call, mini-spa treatments throughout my hectic working-mommy day. 

Lady Soma products are designed to assist in maintaining healthy and active lifestyles. The word “soma” comes from the Greek language meaning “body”. 

My day starts off with a shower filled with relaxing aromatherapy with the rich coconut and lime scents of my Somaluxe Shampoo + Conditioner. 

The shampoo both clarifies and restores my thick hair to be clean, strong, and beautiful. The lather feels so soft in my hair. The coconut and argan oil has helped detangle my wavy hair and lessen my split-ends with its anti-breakage ingredients. When my hair dries, the coconut and lime scents are still present and my wavy curls looks great!

Throughout the day I use my Lady Mint Tingle Lip Balm. 

I LOVE peppermint. I have peppermint essential oils on my desk, in my purse, and on my nightstand. It helps calm me and helps nip my migraines before they get out of hand. So, my Lady Mint Tingle Lip Balm has become favorite in my "mommy first aid kit" (named by my 7-year old) along with my make-up, band aids, hand sanitizer, and other mommy stuff in in my purse. The fresh and sweet mint of the Lady Soma lip balm will gives me just a little tingle just when I need it several times during the day. Loaded with antioxidants, it helps keep my lips soft and supple, especially for hubby (haha).  

At night, before I go to bed I use Lady Soma's Skin and Nail Treatment and Lip Rescue.
The Skin and Nail Treatment is a deep moisturizer that repairs dry skin. I have really, really dry skin especially on my hands. So much so I have an occasional breakout of eczema. Lady's Soma's Skin and Nail treatment helps heal my dry and cracked skin. It also has strengthened my nails and has softened my cuticles. The combination of cocoa, shea, and kokum butter makes this also an excellent moisturizer that can be used anywhere on your body that needs some extra TLC.

I have to admit Lady Soma's Lip Rescue is my favorite of the bunch!

The rich blend of soothing restorative ingredients moisturizes my lips and the plumping agents in the product make my lips a bit more kissable - hubby can attest. It can be used as a daily lip balm, or special treatment to fill in fine lines. This product feels silky when you put it on. I feel like I'm buttering up my lips since it smells so great. I can feel a bit of a tingle when I put it on. 

I'm loving my Lady Soma products and I know you will too! Visit to view their entire line of holistic, organic and natural skin care products. 

Disclaimer: I received complimentary products in exchange for this blog post. All opinions are mine. 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Family Fun Night with Tarzan the Musical

Friday nights at the Moonlight Amphitheater has become one of our favorite family activities. We had another awesome evening for Moonlight Youth Theatre's production of “Disney’s Tarzan the Stage Musical” based on Disney's epic animated musical adventure. 
“Disney’s Tarzan the Stage Musical,” features the heart-pumping music by rock legend Phil Collins which were also in the animated movie. The Moonlight Youth Theater's live performance included exciting flying effects and incredible costumes and sets that had my kids wide-eyed throughout the show. The musical hits like the Academy Award winning "You'll Be in My Heart" as well as "Son of Man" and "Two Worlds" had hubby and I singing along remembering the animated film. The awesome sights and sounds, paired with the talented young actors, make “Tarzan” an unforgettable theatrical experience.
Moonlight Youth Theatre is dedicated to providing high-quality, professional theatrical training for young people ages 7 to 18. Each year they help hundreds of aspiring young actors pursue their dreams by producing stage productions and theatrical workshops.
My boys were super excited to see a stage full of young people like them. We've been to Moonlight Theater a few times but this was our first experience with the youth theater. My son DJ loves dance so he loved the dancing in the performances. I'm hoping this experience will open his interest in other genres of dance. 
Disney’s Tarzan the Stage Musical” runs Oct. 9 to Oct. 18, 2015 under the stars at Moonlight Amphitheater in Vista, Calif. Gates open at 6:30 p.m. and the production begins at 7:30 p.m. 

Don't miss the upcoming shows soon at Moonlight Amphitheater!

For more information on supporting Moonlight Stage Productions and helping to preserve the joy of live theatre for future generations to come, please visit, Facebook or call (760) 630-7650.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Seafood Taco Time!

I'm not one to turn down some good seafood Mexican food so when I was invited to have lunch at Oscar's Mexican Seafood in Pacific Beach I was totally down to go. 

Oscars Mexican Seafood

I had hubby, my two boys, and my cousins in tow when headed down to grab some lunch. We met up with a few other family members and got in line to order our food. 

I was very surprised when we arrived. I was expecting a typical eat-in taco shop which Oscars is not. It is pretty much a taco "stand". When you enter, there is a small space of about 10x8 to order and pick up your food. Within this space is the soda machine, a small refrigerator there the self-serve salsas are kept, as well as the napkins, utensils, and hot sauce on a small counter opposite the cash register. 

menu on the wall
kitchen and order counter
Front Door
There was a line about 15-20 people deep the entire hour we were there.

The only "seating" available are very narrow and unshaded counter seating right outside the order "room". Here is my family squeezing together while we waited for our food. Our party took up half the available seating.

Our tacos took about 15 minutes to come out.

I ordered the:
TACO ESPECIAL (Smoked Fish, Shrimp, Scallops) Served with Cabbage, Onion, Tomato, Cilantro, Avocado and Cheese for $4.65. The fish, shrimp, and scallops in the taco were miniscule. I hardly tasted it. Also, the taco only had one tortilla so it quickly crumbled as I tried to eat it. 

Hubby had the:
CUCARACHAS (Battered and fried Shrimp w/ Shell On) Sesame seed oil/ginger dressing with grilled Fish or octopus for $10.00. We waited over half an hour for this order. The shrimp tasted old, tough, and rubbery. The sauce it sat in was very greasy. There was no fish or octopus that accompanied it either.

The verdict:
  • Not a good spot for kids. Space is very tight for squirmy kids. My kids like quesadillas, and the one they got here they didn't eat. They said "I don't like the way it tastes". 
  • Pricey for what you get. A $5 taco should be WOW! This taco was "womp-womp". 
  • The tacos sounded great on the menu, definitely mouth-watering. But when I got the taco itself, I was disappointed. I grew up in National City where taco shops reign were born so my expectations are pretty high.
  • The long line outside is deceiving. It's not worth the wait! 
Oscar's Mexican Seafood Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I can't write about seafood tacos without giving you suggestions on where to get some legit seafood tacos. I solicited the help of my fellow foodie friends and here is our top 5 seafood taco spots in San Diego:

1) TJ Oyster Bar
Octopus Tacos from TJ Oyster Bar
Photo from Yelp

Marlin Tacos from Fish Mart
Photo from Yelp

3) Mariscos Alex

Gobernador Taco from Mariscos Alex
Photo from Yelp
What are you favorite seafood taco spots in San Diego?

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Mind, Body, and Soul with the Boys and Girls Club #TriplePlay10 #ad

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Boys & Girls Club of America. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

Wow, it's already October! School and after-school activities are in full swing with the Garcia Family. Time management and finding balance between all activities has definitely taken some effort on behalf of hubby and I. As parents we all expect our children to do well in school, but at the same time find activities that will help our children be well-rounded and be the best they can be. 

Boys and Girls Club of America’s (BGCA), along with sponsors The Coca-Cola Company and Anthem BlueCross Foundation, has developed its first comprehensive health and wellness program. BGCA's Triple Play program, developed in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, strives to improve the overall health of Club members ages 6-18 by increasing their daily physical activity, teaching them good nutrition and helping them develop healthy relationships.

With 3 out of 10 kids in the United States overweight or obese, along with 1 out of 5 children ages 13-18 having (or will have) a serious mental health illness, giving parents tools to encourage Mind, Body, and Soul wellness within their families is essential.

Research shows that exercise like jogging, swimming, biking, walking, and dancing, have been proved to reduce anxiety and depression. Also, children who have positive relationships to spirituality are 40 percent less likely to use and abuse substances, and have 60 percent less depression than other teenagers. 

The mind, body, and soul components of BGCA's Triple Play program is fundamental in our home.

As parents, we are committed to helping our children find balance with all the activities they are involved in, as well as in the relationships they have with family and friends. 

The Body component boosts BGCA's traditional physical activities to a higher level by providing sports and fitness activities for all youth. Body programs include six Daily Fitness Challenges; teen Sports Clubs focused on leadership development, service and careers in athletics; and Triple Play Games Tournaments, inter-Club sectional tournaments that involve multiple team sports. 

In our family, our boys have found very different passions when it comes to physical fitness. At times, it is a challenge balancing schedules, but we find delight in the fact our boys have found physical activities they love to do. 

Our youngest DJ, has been involved in hop hop dance for over a year now. He says, "I love to dance! I learn a lot of dancing and my teacher makes it fun!" Besides the learning of the dance moves, DJ has learned how to interact with kids older than him, to take direction and be disciplined as the youngest member of the dance team. I have been so very amazed in his bravery when performing in front of others. He has learned so many great personal characteristics being involved in hop hop dance!

My older son, Jelo, has found his place in AYSO Soccer. He says he likes playing offense better because he gets to "kick into the goal". Although he has yet to make a goal in the two seasons he's been playing soccer, he remains optimistic and says "It's ok, as long as I'm having fun!" Soccer has helped Jelo deal with his short temper when he doesn't get his way. Through soccer, he's learned to be patient, yet persistent. He's also learned that he can't always win, which is a lesson he can relate to many different situations in life. 

BGCA's The Soul component of the Triple Play program helps build positive relationships and cooperation among young people. Being involved in hop hop dance, as well as soccer, my boys have definitely earned the concepts of teamwork and working along with others to achieve a goal. For our family, the soul part of the Triple Play program is very important. For us, family prayer every night, religious education classes, as well as weekly church service has given our family the glue to keep us building those positive relationships with others, but most especially within our own family.

The Mind component encourages young people to eat smart through the Healthy Habits program, which covers the power of choice, calories, vitamins and minerals, the food pyramid and appropriate portion size. BGCA Triple Play Parents Game Plan has a great tool to help assess your kids' healthy eating and fitness knowledge. "What's the 411 Relay?" questionaire was fun to do with my kids. Out 18 questions, Jelo and DJ got 5 wrong. Those snack questions really stumped them!

Download the BGCA Triple Play Parents Game Plan to learn more ways on how to can help your children increase their daily physical activity, teach them good nutrition and help them develop healthy relationships.

BGCA hopes to build the next generation of leaders, by motivating kids to be healthy through nutrition and health education, more access to healthy foods, avoidance of risky behaviors and a lifelong commitment to fitness.

Don't forget to visit Boys and Girls Club of America on social media too!
Hashtag: #TriplePlay10
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