Jody Robinson

Jody Robinson

During winter breaks, our family has historically tended toward ski and snow activities, traveling with our kids (now ages 10 and 11) to meet up with our close family friends and their children of similar ages to our offspring. So time off typically meant a multi-family trip to the mountains. But after our amazing experience at the all-inclusive, family-friendly Grand Velas Los Cabos Resort last summer - which we raved about incessantly in the ensuing months - it didn’t take much coaxing for my husband and I to convince our friends to book a warm-weather winter vacation this year instead. This time around, we were excited to escape to one of the resort’s four sister properties - the Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit.

Location, Location, Location

Nestled at the base of the Sierra Madre Mountain range, the Riviera Nayarit offers nearly 200 miles of sun soaked beaches, bucolic fishing villages, nature preserves and colorful culture. Adored by both locals and visitors alike, the region offers much in the way of world-class cuisine, golfing, ocean activities and luxury resorts - the crown jewel of which we believe to be the incomparable Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit.

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Tucked into the northern edge of Banderas Bay in Nuevo Vallarta with spectacular views of the Pacific, this premier luxury all-suite beach resort is ensconced in peaceful waterways, white sand beaches and infinity pools a short 25 mile drive from the popular travel destination of Puerto Vallarta. Each of the property’s 267 well-appointed accommodations (think goose down comforters and Balinese furnishings) are amenity rich, extremely spacious and characterized by the colorful Mexican art of the Huichol people. Many of its suites connect - ideal for families with kids or even multi-generational family members vacationing together.

In fact, as all-inclusive resorts go, the Grand Velas is hands-down among the best for families traveling with children 12 and under. Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather not vacation where the only menu item is chicken nuggets and fries: but we knew from firsthand experience that the Grand Velas is a resort where there is something for family members of all ages - from its dining options, leisure activities and water sports to recreation and relaxation at its world-class spa. It’s worth a special mention here that Grand Velas’ culinary artists and renowned chefs work their magic on authentic gourmet dishes and casual fare at seven distinct and equally remarkable (including three AAA Four Diamond rated) restaurants (more on this later).

Kid-Friendly Fun

Grand Velas offers kiddos almost as many activities as are on the parent’s menu: sand castles to kite flying, kayaking, surfing, sailing, jet skiing, snorkeling, and their very own eco-shows. Open from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., Kids Club and Teens Club truly offers playtime in paradise. Reserved especially for its young guests, the resort serves up an impressive, all-inclusive platter of activities for the kids to choose from in their very own 1,000-square-foot retreat (for kids ages 4 to 12) replete with storytelling, board games, arts and crafts, bingo, movies and more. Teens (ages 13+) enjoy their own space in a state-of-the-art 2,700-square-foot facility to partake in everything from healthy cooking classes, movies and foosball to Xbox and Wii. Each day’s worth of activities are tailored to the child’s age and interests, so there isn’t any chance of that dreaded phrase: “I’m bored.” Open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., the Club is complimentary with the resort’s standard package, including dinner every evening and group activities that stretch well into the night hours.

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TEENS CLUB OK

Adult Endeavors

We plunged into the sparkling waters of the Nuevo Vallarta beaches while the kids played soccer and went on treasure hunts. What freedom; the feeling of everything and everyone all being taken care of at once! We couldn’t have imagined the smiles when we all met up for lunch and poolside snacks at the Grand Velas’ Selva Del Mar, bursting with stories after a morning full of activity. Later, when they’d gone back for more (cooking classes! Live interactive shows with local wildlife!) and we had a round of kayaking in the Bay, we ate dinner at one of the resorts many world class restaurants. Be it French, Mediterranean, or the perfect taste of local artisan cuisine inspired by the deep roots of Mexican heritage at Frida, everyone can eat their fill of chef-inspired, innovative flavors at every meal.

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The second-to-last day of our trip, we and our friends finally felt guilt-free enough to leave the littles behind for the afternoon to venture out to the Islas Marietas, an island chain most know by the fame of Jacques Cousteau. The sapphire waters met us with more calm than we’d had in years; snorkeling, freediving, and breathing in all the beauty we could possibly handle in one day. Knowing the kids were safely looked after and in the midst of creating kites and pinatas in the native tradition made our time that much more gorgeous.

With all that the Grand Velas has to offer in activities, amenities, services and dining, the delight of being there is ultimately of the atmosphere, and that comes down to two things: beauty and people.

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While hospitality professionals are by definition friendly folk, the staff at the Grand Velas are authentically warm and welcoming. So much so that either the resort has found hundreds of matchless thespians dedicated to guest satisfaction (from the seamless check-in process upon arrival to 24-hour in-suite room service) - or the Grand Velas’ team truly enjoy being there. I believe it is the latter. At the risk of overusing the adjective in this article, guest service here is incomparable and the Grand Velas’ personal concierge service sets a new standard in hospitality excellence.

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As to beauty, the Grand Velas Riviera Narayit is defined by a simply exquisite design with lovely spaces; starting with its majestic, tiered architecture opening out to panoramic views of the Pacific where the golden sand embraces turquoise waters, from the grand, fifth-floor open-air lobby to the well-appointed suites, you cannot escape a floor-to-ceiling sense of unrivaled beauty. And so at every turn you are inspired to tranquility and delight. Ultimately, that is how our family spent a few days away and what we’ll remember most – enjoying time together against what is arguably among the most resplendent of vacation destinations worldwide.

As the trip came to a close, and each of us sighed with regret, knowing we had to go home, we and our friends were already comparing calendars for a return trip to this inimitable resort on the sparkling emerald Bay. Or perhaps it’s time to think about coordinating our next vacation to one of the other (I’m sure equally incredible) Grand Velas properties.

Ralph Waldo Emerson famously said “who you are speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you’re saying.” Keeping this quote in mind has served me well over the years, particularly in choosing friends … and when seeing out the services of professionals. In my opinion, integrity isn’t a word heard often enough in the business world. Competitive, certainly.

But unfortunately phrases like “bottom-line oriented,” “unscrupulous,” even “cutthroat” have cropped up in the vernacular when hearing home improvement gone wrong stories from fellow homeowners. That’s why it was so refreshing to come across Jeff McCabe and his Orange County-based One Way Painting.
In business since 1976, Jeff and his team serve all of the OC and specialize in interior and exterior residential and commercial painting. They swear by the rules of professionalism: “no cutting corners. No cheap materials. We pay attention to every detail, and never call a job complete until the customer is completely satisfied.”

IMG 1309Some might call it good Christian values. Others might say it’s simply good business. But for the last 42 years, working from the heart has earned One Way Painting such a respected reputation in the industry that the vast majority of their work comes through repeat customers or referrals from repeat customers. The company’s success isn’t merely rooted in customer service though. Boasting a superior knowledge of available product on the market and hiring the most professional crews in the business also goes a long way.

“Our reputation speaks for itself; but if it didn’t, we have 16 satisfied employees on our permanent payroll who would put a hand up in defense of the standards we set,” says Jeff. Standards which were born and bred through a commitment to ethical business practices and hard work. In 2001, Jeff teamed up with seasoned professional Ron Bartz as a journeyman, then took over the company when Ron retired, and has been growing it ever since.

In 2009, Jeff took the pair of three-man crews and expanded the operation to encompass six crews, two office staff, and a project manager who oversees jobs, right alongside the man with the plan himself. “We currently have three vans on the road and I’d like a full fleet someday. I’d like to leave a legacy for my daughters, and that means more than just cans of paint and a warehouse full of equipment and materials.” To Jeff, it means taking care of his employees, taking care of his family: taking care of business. The hope is that One Way Painting becomes a household name, for its quality of work and quality of values.

IMG 2840 1My husband and I can happily attest to both. When we moved into our home in San Juan Capistrano five years ago, we acquired quotes for exterior painting from several contractors, but were particularly impressed with Jeff and his crew. Prior to starting work at our home, Jeff came by in person to go over what the job would entail and answered all of our questions. His team showed up right on time the first day - and each subsequent day - and at the end of each day everything was cleaned up before they left.

“We pride ourselves on working with a team of long-term employees - we do not hire off the street,” says Jeff. “We guarantee our work and do not require payment till the job is completed and the customer is completely pleased with our work.”

Jeff and his crew delivered on these promises and more than exceeded our expectations - the result was outstanding work, a job completed on time and on budget and defined by unparalleled customer service (Kelly in his office was hyper-responsive to our inquiries during the estimating process and followed up immediately upon completion of the job to ensure that we were satisfied with the results and our overall experience of working with One Way Painting). We were so pleased with the work that when we decided to update our kitchen by painting our cabinets and adding hardware (the job is scheduled to start two weeks from the date of this writing so look for a future testimonial feature), we were confident that One Way Painting would be the one and only call we would need to make.

Their attention to detail is found from start to finish. For exterior projects, they begin by power washing to clean and remove any loose paint, mildew or mold. Then the patching: with stucco, trenching around the foundations and priming with an acrylic. They’ll treat your wood siding, eaves, fascia, windows. Main doors, garage doors, trim. Even wrought iron, or other specialty surfaces like patio covers and fences. Most work depends on the client’s preference: semi-gloss, hi-gloss enamel, acrylic, or oil finish. Inside walls see flat, matte, eggshell, satin, semi, or hi-gloss. If you have natural wood cabinets and they need refinishing, One Way’s crew will see to it that they look new again. Also licensed and bonded as commercial painters, Jeff’s crew has been making businesses and their buildings look new again for 42 years. With a free on-site estimate, your custom needs are sure to have a custom solution. No deposits required, and “no surprises along the way,” Jeff is quick to add.

“I think at the end of the day what sets us apart is taking our time with each and every customer that comes our way,” says Jeff. “We run a business like every person we interact with is family.” They may not be the cheapest out there, but then that wouldn’t fly in Emerson’s eyes, and not in Jeff’s either. “Our business is based on the Christian ethic of treating every customer with honesty and integrity. Every job is done ‘as unto the Lord.’ Does this mean we’re perfect? No. It does mean that we strive to do the best painting job possible.”


Connect with Jeff, Roxanne and the One Way Painting team by calling (866) 986-9781, visit onewaypainting.com or Angie’s List for reviews.

A Q & A with Derek Mannion, founder of Alliance Eldercare

You think it might be time to consider options for your aging loved one’s future care and quality of life. Easier said than done when the mere thought of navigating the myriad of options - from independent senior living and board and care homes to memory care communities, long-term, hospice  Parkinson’s and more - seems a Herculean task.

Depositphotos 6596764 xl 2015That’s where a senior placement specialist can prove to be a tremendous resource … and available at no cost to you. Having said that though, you’ll want to make sure the professional you are working with has your family’s best interests at heart, is experienced with key relationships in the senior industry and will advocate for your loved one to find the best fit for his or her needs.

In the following interview Derek Mannion, founder of Alliance Eldercare, addresses frequently asked questions concerning options, the process and finding the right senior placement specialist to work with your family.

Question: How do I know when placement is needed? What are the signs that my loved one may benefit from placement?

Answer: There any many signs that someone may benefit from being placed in an assisted living environment. Some of the big ones for me are fall risk and fall prevention. Is your loved one safe to be left alone? Does he leave the stove on with an empty pot or pan? Wander and get lost? Is there a need for incontinence care or help with general cleanliness and personal hygiene? Are medications taken as prescribed or does she take a second dose, having forgotten that she already took her medication? These are all signs that someone could benefit for an Assisted Living environment.

Q: How do we determine the best setting for my loved one - what are the differences (assisted living, memory care, board and care, skilled nursing)?

A: To find the best care options for your loved one, we must first complete a Care Needs Assessment to determine the personal needs of an individual. We must evaluate the ability to perform Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s), as well as the individual’s mental status. We also need to discuss what a viable monthly budget would be to work within the individual or family’s financial means. We can also look into Veterans Benefits and discuss any Long Term Care policies that the individual may have. Once we narrow down the options that work best for your loved one’s needs and budget, I personally tour the family. Sometimes there isn’t an exact fit for an individual’s needs. This is when we tour the options so your loved one and family members can see for themselves the differences between the types of facilities and options available and what each has to offer.

Q: What should I look for when working with a senior placement company?

A: Not all Senior Placement or Referral Agencies are the same. There are things that families should be aware of and want to have in place. Stay away from online agencies that want personal information in exchange for a list of Assisted Living Comminities. Work with companies that offer Free Guided Tours rather than companies that just want to give you a list of places. If the company offers personal tours, they are likely in the communities regularly. Ask how familiar they are with the specific communities that they are referring you to consider. Ask about their experience, training and relationships in the industry. Are they a licensed RCFE administrator? Ask if they will share your contact information or keep your information confidential. They should never share your information without obtaining your permission.

Q: Do senior placement companies find the best fit for my loved one or do they typically place individuals with the ones at which they have contracts?

A: Finding the best long-term solution is always my goal at Alliance Eldercare Senior Placement Service and should be the goal of any reputable senior placement company. For me, it’s about building a relationship with the community and getting to know the people who run and/or own the facilities. This gives me a better understanding as to what they can and can’t do (or sometimes won’t do). This allows me to better place someone in a Community that fits the individuals likes and needs. It’s not about contracts, it’s about care.

Q: Can a senior placement service work with our family if our family disagrees on the best care for mom or if our loved one has behavioral problems?

A: You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family. Sometimes families don’t agree on things. This is why in our industry we recommend having one POA or decision maker if the loved one is incapable of making decisions for themselves. This is a decision that the senior needs to make while they have capacity. If the loved one has behavioral problems, I would connect them with a neurologist if they don’t have one already and work with the doctor to get the behaviors under control. Getting the behaviors under control can open up more options for care. We can discuss this further during the Care Needs Assessment at Alliance Eldercare.


IMG 8524For a FREE Care Needs Assessment, Derek and the Alliance Eldercare team can be reached by calling (866) 936-4241 or visit www.AllianceEldercare.com

Reno has its casinos and easy access to world class skiing nearby, Las Vegas has the neon lights, Carson City the capitol building and old silver mining fame. But bursting onto the scene is the bustling “silicon valley” of Nevada: Henderson (#WowValleyNV). Located just 16 miles from the Las Vegas strip, Henderson is a world away from the late-night parties. Focused on “a culture of opportunity,” this growing city is more interested in offering businesses a competitive advantage (Toyota Financial is located here and the NFL Raiders recently purchased 55 acres near the Henderson Executive Airport for its new corporate headquarters) and attracting families with its standout schools, an abundance of entertainment, dining and recreation options rather than than 24 straight hours of gambling (although they have plenty of gaming options as well).

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With a burgeoning start-up culture, the city made MONEY’s Best Places to Live 2018, for the wealth of planned suburban communities surrounded by golf courses, movie theatres, greenbelt parkways, and a population just pressing on 320,000. But it isn’t just attracting newcomers to settle down - folks who want to drop in, grab a local brew, and get outside have an abundance of outdoor opportunities to choose from. The Valley of Fire, Hoover Dam, Lake Las Vegas and the 34-mile River Mountains Loop Trail. That’s not even touching on the Cowabunga Bay Water Park (open during the summer months and opens again as Cowabunga Bay Christmas Town from the end of November to December 31st each year) and the Lion Habitat Ranch (lionhabitatranch.org) - the big cat sanctuary that provides a loving home to rescued lions (and emus, ostriches, macaws and Ozzie, Las Vegas’ first and only "giraffe-ic artist”).

Originally established for the lions related to the original MGM lions, habitat owner, designer and trainer Keith Evans acquired the sprawling 6.5-acre ranch in 1989 with the mission of “providing a loving home for all the lions in our care for the rest of their natural lives.” After the contracts with MGM expired, the nonprofit lion sanctuary opened to the public to view the lions and other animals. Voted by TripAdvisor as the No. 1 thing to do in Henderson, the Lion Habitat Ranch is now home to a number of the gorgeous big cats, including Barbary lions which have been extinct in the wild since the 1940s.

image1Upon paying a nominal admission, guests can wander the grounds to view the magnificent creatures in their enclosures. Our family wanted to take advantage of the opportunity for an even more up close and personal interaction with these amazing animals so we opted for a private “Behind the Scenes" guided tour, including a Q & A with a professional trainer (Sam is worthy of a special mention - super knowledgable and great with kids, she clearly loves her job … and the lions love her) to learn about how the ranch operates and meet some of its rescued residents (and take all the photos and video we wanted). It was a great learning experience and an unforgettable adventure for our entire family, particularly our kids, ages 10 and 11 …although I’m not sure who had more fun, the kids or me. I texted all my mom friends video clips and still shots to show their kiddos throughout the afternoon so I wouldn’t be surprised if the Ranch experiences an influx of OC families in the near future.

As a nonprofit, the Lion Habitat Ranch relies on generous donations from private individuals and businesses - the annual feed of just one lion costs approximately $10,000 a year for a male lion while his female counterpart consumes about $8,000 in meat annually.

In the summer, Cowabunga Bay Water Park (cowabungabayvegas.com) attracts both locals and visitors alike for its water slides, children’s attractions, food and shopping opportunities. But in the winter, the park is transformed into a Christmas wonderland decorated with over three million sparkling lights and filled with holiday decorations, spectacular light displays, family-friendly winter activities (think Polar Express train, Jingle Bell Sledding Hill and Santa’s Cozy Cottage) and delicious holiday-inspired seasonal food and drink.

Maverick HelicopterMaverick Helicopter

My husband and son are something of adrenaline junkies, while my daughter and I are a little more cautious adventurers. I like to think I have a “healthy” fear of heights and I’m not the best air traveler. I fly because it’s the fastest way to get places, unlike my husband, who has his pilot’s license and hopes our 11-year-old son will develop this father’s love of flight. Having said that, we booked what might just be the “hottest entertainment ticket” in town - a Maverick Helicopter (maverickhelicopter.com) night flight aboard the ECO-Star helicopter over the Las Vegas Strip. We took off out of McCarran International Airport for an experience that couldn’t have been more memorable … or easier. The company sent a driver to pick us up at our hotel for a truly unique “limousine of the sky” perspective of the "Entertainment Capital of the World.”

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The "Vegas Nights Tour” is an amazing Las Vegas helicopter experience flying over the megaresorts of the Las Vegas Strip from the New York-New York skyline and the Bellagio fountains to the never-fading light of the Luxor pyramid and unparalleled views of Downtown Las Vegas’ historic Fremont Street, home to the city’s first casinos.

Where to Stay

If you’re looking for an oasis in the desert to relax for a few days, Henderson boasts in its luxury hotels - its crown jewel undoubtedly being the Mediterranean-inspired AAA Four-Diamond Green Valley Ranch Resort (greenvalleyranchresort.com). Modern luxury and perfect service await you within the beautiful resort, which opened in December 2001 as the first boutique luxury resort built off the Las Vegas Strip. In 2017, the property upped the ante with an array of large-scale renovations, including a completely reimagined all-new lobby, lobby bar, PERKS Coffee Bar and added amenities for VIP guests, along with enhanced suites. The new lobby features a separate resort entrance away from the casino floor and overlooks the property’s stunning eight-acre backyard pool area - where, I might add, our kids alternated between swimming and splashing in the “beach entry” sand bottom pool and soaking in the hot tub (the pool temperature was a little too chilly for their parents, but it certainly didn’t seem to impact the kids).

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With nearly 500 rooms and suites, the Green Valley Ranch Resort offers an elegant escape from the stresses of the strip. You can bask in the pampering and relaxation of its luxury 35,000-square-foot spa and salon, get in a workout in the state-of-the-art fitness studio, or try your hand at the newest slot, video poker or table games. Great options for adults, but when traveling with the younger set, Green Valley Ranch Resort serves up no shortage of family-friendly activities and attraction. The adjacent District showcases 50 shops, eateries and a movie theater.

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Award winning restaurants provide delicious eats to start or finish the day. Borracha features Mexican-inspired shareable plates, inventive burritos, entrees with made-from-scratch tortillas and super tasty tacos. Bottiglia offers sophisticated rustic Italian fare and herb-friendly cuisine. The Grand Cafe is open 24 hours for easy, family-friendly fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner … our son loved his fluffy “breakfast for dinner” pancakes.

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Our Superior Double Queen room provided plenty of space to stretch out ... appointed with modern styling, thoughtful details, and comfortable accommodations. Leaving nothing to chance, the staff will ensure your stay is as relaxing and memorable as possible.

Destination Dining

For family-friendly dining, buffets are the way to go … everyone gets exactly what they want and as much of it as they can consume (which may or may not be a good thing when you’re considering your waistline). Studio B Buffet in the M Resort (themresort.com) bills itself as “more than an all-you-can-eat experience” that “makes buffet dining exciting.” I have to say this buffet featured one of the most extensive and diverse culinary offerings I have ever experienced. A huge seafood aficionado, I had my fill of delicious snow crab legs and shrimp accompanied by popular Asian specialities while my meat-eating husband made a pretty good dent in several of Studio B’s carving stations (including prime rib available every weekend). Our kids indulged in their standard favorite fare - pepperoni pizza, pasta and one or two too many sweet treats from the array of desserts created by the restaurant’s award-winning pastry chefs. I recommend perusing your options before piling your plate - there are over 300 items, including a build-your-own taco bar, dim sum, calzones, a vegan station and … wait for it … complimentary beer, wine, espresso and cappuccino to your heart’s content.

For more information, visit hendersonnow.com

Looks can definitely be deceiving. From the road, Backstreet Home Decor appears to be a small storefront, its windows displaying beautiful decorative items, jewelry, handbags and accessories. Step inside, however, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll discover that you could literally spend hours looking at all of owner Susan Smith's wonderful offerings, which range in style from Old World to contemporary.

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Each piece is reflective of Susan’s keen eye for color, quality, texture, design detail and style - a fact not lost on the scores of professional designers who regularly shop here to decorate their client’s homes.

Homeowners who have taken advantage of Susan’s in-home consultation rave that she was able to suggest just the right furniture, decor, florals and color palette to create the look they were dreaming of - a fact that I can personally - and happily - attest to.

When our family moved from San Clemente to San Juan Capistrano, Susie’s showroom the first and only stop I needed to make for the decorative items and accessories that would make our new house a “home.” Susie’s vision of color, texture, line, shape, natural proportion and balance resulted in the beautiful floral arrangements and wall hangings that adorn our home, along with just the right accent and “statement pieces” to visually tie everything together.

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While everything in her store speaks of high quality, her prices are surprisingly affordable. Because of longstanding relationships with vendors from the top decor lines across the county, Susan is able to acquire furniture and accessories at substantial discounts - which she in turn passes along to her customers.

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“We only LOOK expensive,” she says. “What sets us apart is that all of our florals are custom designed on the premises. We work with our clientele to create exactly what they want. We really try to come up with the unusual - unique items that you just won’t find in every single store.”

Connect with Susie by stopping by the showroom at 307 N. El Camino Real in San Clemente, by calling (949) 498-2210 or visit www.backstreethomedecor.com

In-Home Care and the New! Senior Social Club & Stay Care Center in Laguna Woods Village

Over the past decade, there have been an increasing number of studies examining the effects of stress on the human body - from the immune to metabolic systems, to cell division, diet, hormonal changes, heart rate and of course, cortisol levels. Cortisol, after all, is what floods the body in response to stress. Its main purpose is more far-reaching than was once believed. Systemic effects play a great many roles to maintain homeostasis in the body: which, at a basic level, looks like a greater span of stress-free years. Experts at UCLA, Harvard and the University of Maryland all posit that lowering stress levels leads to healthier mental and bodily functions across the board, which is great for everyone, but can be particularly meaningful for men and women of an advanced age.

Founded in 2002, the professionals at Your Home Care, Inc. are dedicated to ensuring the individual care they provide will lessen the stress of everyday life for your aging loved one and their families. Between the two divisions of this Laguna Woods-based family-owned and operated business, seniors have the option of in-home care or respite at the Senior Social Club and Stay Care Center (applications are currently being accepted for participation).

In-home care

With loving kindness, trained caregivers provide exceptional general care and assist with the basic necessities of daily living in the comfort and safety of a senior’s own home. In-home care encompasses services tailored to the senior’s specific needs and range from meal preparation, medication reminders, doctor visits, grocery shopping, laundry, light housekeeping, dressing and incontinence care to Alzheimer’s or other dementia-related care.

“We have observed that those who are able to stay in their homes are more likely to remain healthy and free from common communicable illnesses, such as influenza and pneumonia that are prevalent in nursing homes and assisted living centers due to the high volume of residents and close living quarters,” says Boyd Warner, founder of Your Home Care, Inc.

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Understanding that the safety and security of your loved ones is of the utmost importance, the professional caregivers at Your Home Care undergo a rigorous interview process, from reference checks and background clearance to competency training. But that’s just the beginning … equally as important as each applicant’s credentials is their personal philosophy as Warner says “our caregivers want more than a job. They want to make a difference in the lives of those in their care. As a company, our job is to give caregivers the direction and tools they need to fulfill their personal mission of service, as well as our corporate mission of improving the lives of those we serve.”

We will be your resource for respite care which will allow family members relief from the emotional and physical strains of being a full-time caregiver.

Upon meeting the company’s strict selection criteria, caregivers are insured and bonded before completing a comprehensive orientation process to ingrain Your Home Care corporate policies and procedures followed by ongoing, specialized training on issues that help them develop as better overall caregivers, as well as deal with very specific situations. These issues include medication management and compliance, Alzheimer’s and dementia, osteoarthritis and mobility loss, hypertension/stroke recovery, diabetes, heart disease and cancer recovery.

“We believe that our focus on the individual and family is what sets us apart,” says Warner. “When you contact us, you will receive individualized care that will meet the needs of your family and your aging loved one. Whether you are in need of around the clock assistance, night relief or a short shift during the day to assist with ADL’s, you can rest easy knowing that we have your well-being and that of your loved one as our priority.”


Senior Social Club & Stay Care Center

While in-home care focuses on the one-on-one, allowing trust and friendship to flourish between caretaker and patient, the Adult Day facility follows a social model in a “beautiful, warm and inviting place for seniors to gather together and create new friendships and memories.” Different from many other day centers, the licensed caregivers at Your Home Care’s “Social Club & Stay Care” Center oversee all activities and are highly interactive with each visiting senior.

“In a typical day, our clients will arrive at the center, sign in, and enjoy leisure activities in the morning, such as enjoying our reading center, or watching a movie or playing a game with other participants and our caregivers,” says Warner. “We will also provide daily activities that will vary depending on the day, but you can expect to find on our schedule activities such as bingo, karaoke, and knitting caps for the newborns at local hospitals. We will also provide lunch at our facility.”

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Warner and his team encourage family members to stop by and tour the facility to see firsthand the advantages of participation.

“Our service will greatly benefit those who find themselves living in multi-generational homes, whose primary caregiver is stretched thin,” says Warner. “We will be your resource for respite care which will allow family members relief from the emotional and physical strains of being a full-time caregiver. Our mission is to provide a fun, exciting place for your aging loved one to participate in activities that they love and maybe even try something new. Further, this facility allows those who may be isolated from the world an opportunity to open up and create new friendships.”

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After interested seniors (or their loved ones) fill out an application for the program, they undergo a medical evaluation from their own doctor, and then a follow up visit with the program director at Your Home Care, Inc., to determine whether participation the adult day facility would be the best fit for their needs.

“We’re very serious about providing a compassionate caregiving service, preserving dignity, ensuring independence, and a higher quality of life,” says Boyd. “We want this to be as good a fit for you as it is for us.”

Taking stress off anyone’s plate is a loving act in itself. Yet, I can see how many selfless acts might feel like a double-edged sword. My mother is the primary caregiver for my 85-year-old stepfather who suffers from dementia. As a result, she has less time for activities she enjoys, spending time with her friends, going to the movies and the infinite other little things that seem to fill the cracks in a single day. When I emphasize the importance of also caring for herself, she brushes the thought away not wanting to be “selfish.”

“Taking advantage of a referred professional caregiver is not giving up on your loved one or being selfish,” says Warner. “On the contrary, you’re being selfless by bolstering your own love and support with professional, quality care while enabling you to spend more time enjoying their company.”

What could be more selfless (and scientific) than helping to lower cortisol levels (yours and your loved one’s)? Eliminating that unnecessary drain on energy can mean restored resiliency, greater access to memory, improved brain function. Selfish? Or selfless? Stress full? Or stress free? Through compassionate in-home care and its new adult day care center in Laguna Woods, Your Home Care is here to ensure that this choice is the easiest you’ve made in a long time.


Connect with Boyd and the professionals at Your Home Care, Inc. by calling (949) 215-0004 or visit www.yourhomecare.com.
The Senior Social Club & Stay Care Center is located at 24191
Paseo de Valencia, Suite B in Laguna Woods.

There are 19 tracks on the original motion picture soundtrack to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Track twelve was always my favorite. Entitled “Christmas at Hogwarts,” it was the amalgam of the two most magical things I could envision as a child: Christmas, and Harry Potter’s castle home. Starting November 17th and running through the first week of January, we’ll all get the opportunity to live the magic in real life at Universal Studios Hollywood Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Featuring glistening snowfall for the very first time, guests can experience the spirit of the holidays Hogwarts-style, complete with a nightly light show and all the bewitched jingle bells a kid (or, let’s face it, full-grown adult) could ever want.

Beyond the walls of Hogsmeade lie attraction upon attraction. From a brand new state-of-the-art Universal Cinema to Voodoo Doughnuts and Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, both making first appearances in California on the CityWalk. There are rides for every age, some a little scary, some hilarious; like Kung Fu Panda’s own Po, taking on The Emperor’s Quest. Our 11-year-old son and his father are adrenaline junkies so they couldn’t get enough of the Fast & Furious Supercharged Experience featured on The World-Famous Studio Tour. They raved about riding along with the cast from the hit movies on an exhilarating high-speed chase that exceeds 120 miles per hour, engulfed in the high-stakes underworld of fast cars and international crime cartels delivered via cutting-edge, hyper-realistic special effects, including 3D-HD imagery projected onto the world’s most expansive 360-degree screens.

USH Holidays 2018 Front Gate

Retail stores like Sephora, Lids, Sparky’s and Nectar Bath Treats await for when the kiddos have experienced all of the rides, but are just not quite ready to head home. More than 30 diners, cafes, and quick bites alike will satisfy any palate, especially if you’ve had one too many Butterbeers or Pumpkin Juices at Hog’s Head at the back of Three Broomsticks (or if you’ve spent too much time indulging in all manner of colorful sweets at Honeydukes, including Acid Pops, Exploding Bonbons, Peppermint Toads).

The Grinch at USH

Beyond the rides, the restaurants, and the shops lies a real working movie studio, where you can see all 13 city blocks of the historic studio lot. Built under consultation with Steven Spielberg, the four acre entertainment behemoth is open for its world-famous hour-long tram tour. Visit with the toothy star of JAWS, and the smoking ruins of War of the Worlds’ jet crash. Hear from Jimmy Fallon as he takes the whole family behind the scenes where more movies and television shows have filmed than any other lot, anywhere in the world.

On top of everything else, Universal offers California residents one of the best deals in the entertainment world: buy a day, get a year free. It’s hard to pass up a deal this sweet, especially when the holidays are rapidly approaching. A full day of action awaits, all in one place. How magical is that?


To plan your visit or for more detailed information about the park’s attractions, entertainment, dining and shopping options, visit www.universalstudioshollywood.com

I can almost guarantee that everyone reading this has heard the phrase “cream of the crop.” Undoubtedly borrowed from the French, the saying was likely adopted in English-speaking countries for the way it rolls off the tongue.

Alliteration, and all. But the French saying is actually ‘la crème de la crème,’ the cream of the cream. Even better, one might say, and I agree. The top of the top, the best of the best.

The team at the San Clemente-based Talega Dental Group are just that. With a combined 50 years of experience in the office, between just the dentists alone, it’s no wonder that Talega has found such success over the last 14 years. “A healthy smile is a bliss,” says Amir Mozafari, DDS, who operates the practice alongside Steven Edwards, DDS and Pullad Salem, DDS. “The joy of preventing oral disease and decay is a gratifying satisfaction that has dedicated us to our profession.”

Specializing in patients who are afraid of the dentist, dentophobia, as it were, the trio of dentists at Talega Dental Group are determined to prevent everyday folks like you and me from never treating issues that arise because we are too afraid to sit down in the chair.

The consensus is clear: clients are pleased with their approach. Gentleness, state-of-the-art technologies, and doctors that treat you more like a person rather than just a set of teeth. “I recently had to get my wisdom teeth taken out and have been terrified,” says Victoria, a recent client. “I actually thought I might have to go under full anesthesia because the anxiety was too much to handle. The doctors were very sympathetic, put a huge emphasis on pain management (...) and let me know I could stop the procedure at any time if it was too much to handle.”

Donna L. agrees with Victoria’s assessment and adds “I was very impressed with the entire staff from the front desk to the hygienist to the dentists. Every was super nice and very caring. They explained everything before they did the work. The constantly checked to see if I was ok. The knowledge of what my insurance covered was top notch.”

Dr. Mozafari, Dr. Edwards and Dr. Salem are all members of the Orange County Dental Association, California Dental Association and the American Dental Association. Dr. Mozafari has been an active member of all three associations since he graduated from the University of Missouri, Kansas City, School of Dentistry in 1991. He has been practicing in California ever since, and as of late, even serves on the board of the Orange County Dental Society. Having built three successful practices from the ground up, Dr. Mozafari was selected as one of “America’s Top Dentists” by the Consumer Research Council of America.

Dr. Edwards is skilled in nearly everything dental -- from the simplest fillings to full mouth reconstruction and making life-changing smile improvements. Not only does he restore teeth and smiles, but he especially prides himself in helping people get control of their oral health. To this goal, Dr. Edwards has developed a proprietary Oral Fitness program with more than 38 different regimens for fighting issues such as bad breath, sensitive teeth, dry mouth, cavities, gum disease, discolored teeth, tooth abrasion and many more.

Dr. Salem received his Bachelor of Science degree from University of California, Irvine and graduated with a Master of Science degree from Keck School of Medicine of USC. He then perused his passion in dentistry and earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the prestigious USC School of Dentistry – world renowned for its advanced cosmetic and restorative training. During his tenure, he conducted research focusing on cosmetic dentistry with his mentor, the globally known Dr. Pascal Magne, the father of biomimetic dentistry. Today, he is one of the youngest members of the USC Dental School Faculty where he teaches Dental Morphology, Function and Esthetics along side his mentor, Dr. Magne.

“We have the best team. We use the best technology. We’re here to give you the best in care we can,” says Dr. Mozafari. “Comprehensive is the name of the game. From the top down, you’re taken care of.”

Talega Dental Group does regular exams, teeth whitening, dental implants, laser dentistry, veneers and Lumineer. Fillings to full mouth reconstruction. Restoring and keeping smiles bright go beyond the office for all three of Talega’s Doctors of Dental Surgery, conducting research in cosmetic dentistry and helping others gain control of their complete oral health. French or English, cream or crop- it is easy to recognize good service. And the folks at Talega are providing the best, one satisfied smile at a time.


IMG 0115Talega Dental Group is located at 1151 Puerta del Sol in San Clemente. Dr. Mozafari and his team can be reached by calling (949) 369-8300 or visit www.talegadental.net

You think it might be time to consider options for your aging loved one’s future care and quality of life. Easier said than done when the mere thought of navigating the myriad of options - from independent senior living and board and care homes to memory care communities, long-term, hospice  Parkinson’s and more - seems a Herculean task.

That’s where a senior placement specialist can prove to be a tremendous resource … and available at no cost to you. Having said that though, you’ll want to make sure the professional you are working with has your family’s best interests at heart, is experienced with key relationships in the senior industry and will advocate for your loved one to find the best fit for his or her needs.

In the following interview Derek Mannion, founder of Alliance Eldercare, addresses frequently asked questions concerning options, the process and finding the right senior placement specialist to work with your family.

Question: How do I know when placement is needed? What are the signs that my loved one may benefit from placement?

Answer: There any many signs that someone may benefit from being placed in an assisted living environment. Some of the big ones for me are fall risk and fall prevention. Is your loved one safe to be left alone? Does he leave the stove on with an empty pot or pan? Wander and get lost? Is there a need for incontinence care or help with general cleanliness and personal hygiene? Are medications taken as prescribed or does she take a second dose, having forgotten that she already took her medication? These are all signs that someone could benefit for an Assisted Living environment.

Q: How do we determine the best setting for my loved one - what are the differences (assisted living, memory care, board and care, skilled nursing)?

A: To find the best care options for your loved one, we must first complete a Care Needs Assessment to determine the personal needs of an individual. We must evaluate the ability to perform Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s), as well as the individual’s mental status. We also need to discuss what a viable monthly budget would be to work within the individual or family’s financial means. We can also look into Veterans Benefits and discuss any Long Term Care policies that the individual may have. Once we narrow down the options that work best for your loved one’s needs and budget, I personally tour the family. Sometimes there isn’t an exact fit for an individual’s needs. This is when we tour the options so your loved one and family members can see for themselves the differences between the types of facilities and options available and what each has to offer.

Q: What should I look for when working with a senior placement company?

A: Not all Senior Placement or Referral Agencies are the same. There are things that families should be aware of and want to have in place. Stay away from online agencies that want personal information in exchange for a list of Assisted Living Comminities. Work with companies that offer Free Guided Tours rather than companies that just want to give you a list of places. If the company offers personal tours, they are likely in the communities regularly. Ask how familiar they are with the specific communities that they are referring you to consider. Ask about their experience, training and relationships in the industry. Are they a licensed RCFE administrator? Ask if they will share your contact information or keep your information confidential. They should never share your information without obtaining your permission.

Q: Do senior placement companies find the best fit for my loved one or do they typically place individuals with the ones at which they have contracts?

A: Finding the best long-term solution is always my goal at Alliance Eldercare Senior Placement Service and should be the goal of any reputable senior placement company. For me, it’s about building a relationship with the community and getting to know the people who run and/or own the facilities. This gives me a better understanding as to what they can and can’t do (or sometimes won’t do). This allows me to better place someone in a Community that fits the individuals likes and needs. It’s not about contracts, it’s about care.

Q: Can a senior placement service work with our family if our family disagrees on the best care for mom or if our loved one has behavioral problems?

A: You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family. Sometimes families don’t agree on things. This is why in our industry we recommend having one POA or decision maker if the loved one is incapable of making decisions for themselves. This is a decision that the senior needs to make while they have capacity. If the loved one has behavioral problems, I would connect them with a neurologist if they don’t have one already and work with the doctor to get the behaviors under control. Getting the behaviors under control can open up more options for care. We can discuss this further during the Care Needs Assessment at Alliance Eldercare.


IMG 8524For a FREE Care Needs Assessment, Derek and the Alliance Eldercare team can be reached by calling (866) 936-4241 or visit www.AllianceEldercare.com

The word aloha rolls off the tongue like a tropical breeze at sunset, wafting through palm fronds - lifting the sweet smell of plumeria off its pink and white flowers and sending it tumbling down the street. In Waikiki, Honolulu’s world-famous neighborhood, aloha is everyday. An attitude, a lifestyle: casual elegance at its finest. Oahu as a whole is just that way, with its pristine beaches and iconic bookmark in the pages of U.S. history. So it didn’t take too much convincing to get my husband and kids on board for a vacation on island time at the Alohilani Resort (www.alohilaniresort.com).

This luxuriously modern oceanfront property resides on land held in the Queen Lili’uokalani Trust - the location was previously the site of the beachside residence of the islands’ last reigning monarch. 'Alohilani Resort, meaning “heavenly brightness,” pays homage to Lili’uokalani by bringing her love for the outdoors in - floor-to-ceiling windows flood the neutral-toned guest rooms with natural light and spectacular views of the crystal blue ocean, Diamond Head and city skyline. All rooms have free Wi-Fi, private lanais and the option of one king or two queen beds.

Alohilani ResortAlohilani ResortSituated within walking distance to the Honolulu Zoo and the Waikiki Aquarium, the resort has no shortage of activities to keep the entire family occupied. There are many popular tourist attractions on Oahu - including the Dole Plantation and the Polynesian Cultural Center - but if you’d rather stay in, you only have to go as far as the two-story lobby Oceanarium. 28,000 gallons of saltwater house an incredible variety of native Hawaiian reef fishes, fed daily at 10:30am and 2:30pm. If you’re a diver or just a girl who can’t get enough of Nemo, like our daughter, you’ll be glued to the glass indefinitely.

IMG 3817That is, if it weren’t for the Monkeypod Kids Club. My husband and I stole away to the rooftop Swell Pool. With views of the iconic Waikiki Beach, the elevated infinity pool was named one of the "10 most Instagram-worthy pools in America” by Instyle.com. Fashion meets function here as the decor is defined by insanely comfortable teak lounge furniture, tiered daybeds, cabanas, a hot tub and firepits. Our kids had just as much fun sans parents, making new friends and enjoying hands-on indoor and outdoor play, games and activities that reflected the cultural beauty, traditions and diversity of the islands, including making leis and arts and crafts (the schedule changes day to day including half-day adventures to nearby attractions).

Open to children aged 5-12, the Monkeypod Kids Club is the perfect solution for a family-friendly vacation. The kids pool keeps ‘em splashing and happy until Mom and Dad are ready to tear themselves away the aloha chic ambiance (Swell Bar offers an all-day menu including poke and kalua pork. Don't miss their signature cocktail, Ka Huna Kai, a frozen Mai Tai named for a song written by Queen Lili’uokalani).

IMG 2312Each morning, our family enjoyed an exceptional - and extensive - breakfast buffet in the property’s casual eatery, Lychee. Committed to sourcing products from the islands, chefs here prepare standard breakfast fare (eggs, omelettes, bacon, sausage, pancakes, etc.), but the local specials and seasonal favorites make this dining experience truly stand out. Think sunrise papaya, sugarloaf pineapple, mango and rambutan, as well as locally produced honey, breakfast sausages and preserves.

View from Diamond Head Crater View from Diamond Head Crater If you can bear to leave the storied and gorgeous walls of the resort, just down the way is what just might be one of Honolulu’s best-kept secrets: The Street Food Hall (www.thestreetfoodhall.com), located in the bustling International Marketplace in the heart of Waikiki, is basically a nightly street fair-cum-food and wine festival. Created by Celebrity Chef Michael Mina as a tribute to his mother, The Street is infused with a sense of excitement and creativity celebrated in a curious kitchen, with chefs who aren’t afraid to dig in and take risks. Be it a casual lunch or the indulgence of a serious craving, The Street is there for the gathering. When you join The Street Party Hawker Crawl, you have the opportunity to visit up to seven of the 10 hawker locations and three bars to create your own custom dining experience and you have 30 days from the time you use initially use the card to come back time and again (think food festival without the one-day limit).

International Marketplace / Photo credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)/Blake Bronstad

Sandwiches to seafood. Cocktails to coffee. Ramen to burgers and back with a side of superb music and some savory conversation makes for the cherry-on-top of a destination vacation that just won’t stop rolling out the alohas.

Area Attractions

Stairway to Heaven

If you’re looking for a memorable way to work in a bit of exercise on your trip, try hiking the Diamond Head Crater. I have to say, there’s something rather empowering about walking up the inside slop of an extinct volcano. More than 3,500 feet in diameter with a 760-foot summit, Diamond Head is a lasting remnant of a volcanic explosion that occurred about a half a million years ago. Ancient Hawaiians called it Laeahi, which translates to “brow of the tuna.” The name “Diamond Head” has more recent roots in the 1800s, when British sailors mistakenly believed that the glistening calcite crystals embedded in the lava rock were diamonds lodged in the lodged in the crater’s soil.

It takes 45 minutes to an hour to reach the summit, and half that time for the trip back down. The trail is a switchback with the mountain on one side and a railing on the other. After a lookout point that doubles as a rest stop, the trail takes a steep upward ascent through a series of stairs and tunnels carved into the mountain. The last set of stairs is a 99-step climb that my husband and kids clamored up with little effort while I took the slow and steady - and decidedly less “in shape” approach - that eventually ends at a World War II bunker. From there, you step out to one of the best panoramic views of the island. We lucked out with the weather which meant that once we summited the crater, we were rewarded with a spectacular view of Oahu’s entire leeward side (the side to which the wind is blowing). Entry into the state park is $5 per vehicle or $1 per pedestrian.

Sea Life Park

Situated just 15 minutes from Waikiki along a scenic stretch of coast called Makapuu Point, Sea Life Park (www.sealifeparkhawaii.com) is a family-friendly marine-attraction that focuses on educational and interactive programs. Small enough to enjoy on foot, but diverse enough to spend the better part of a day, the park is home to dolphins, seals, stingrays and (small) sharks and features a 300,000 gallon reef aquarium, a breeding sanctuary for the state’s endangered sea turtles, habitats for Hawaiian monk seals and penguins, touch pools, an aviary and seabird sanctuary.