Annie is a 1st Grade teacher and mom to two boys.  She also happens to be my cousin and one of the sweetest people you will ever meet!  Only having girls myself, she is a great resource for me (and the website) too!

Where are you from originally?

I grew up in Irvine, CA.

How long have you lived in Costa Mesa? How many kids do you have?

We have lived in Costa Mesa for four years.  We have two boys – Rush (4) and Ford (2).

What are your favorite things to do with your kids in general or in town?

We love Marina Park!  The boys love to play at the park, and then we make our way down to the water.  It’s a great spot for young kids because you don’t have to worry about the waves/ocean.  In the summer we can spend the whole day there!  We also like to walk around and explore the ENC and Back Bay Center.  As a family we like to walk around Balboa Island while our older son rides his scooter.  My boys are obsessed with the hippo cookies from Dad’s Donuts (on Balboa Island) so we usually stop by for a cookie or frozen banana too!

What’s your favorite restaurant in town for a family date?  A night out with friends?  Why?

Dining out with a 2 year old can be risky but we love family-friendly places like the Crack Shack, El Ranchito, and Pitfire Pizza. All of these places have great options for kids and adults, plus we can be loud!

For a date night/night out with friends we love going to 370 Common in Laguna Beach, or Bandera.  370 Common has amazing food and drinks, and we love bringing a bottle of wine to Bandera since they have free corkage!  Cucina Enoteca is another favorite!  Great food and atmosphere, and we like to walk around Fashion Island before or after dinner.

What is your favorite kid-friendly recipe?

We love smoothies and the boys like to help me make them!  We use frozen fruit, peanut butter, almond milk, chia seeds and a plant-based protein powder.  I also add in spinach or kale to make sure they are getting some veggies.  I am also a fan of any recipe using a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken.  We use it for salads, tacos, wraps, or my kids just like to eat it plain sometimes.

What is your local go-to store for children’s clothes?  Yourself?

I get most of the boys clothes at Baby Gap/Gap Kids (they seem to always be having a sale!) and Target (I love the Cat and Jack clothes)!  Old Navy online has great options too.  For me, I love to shop at Common Thread on 17th street.  It’s my go-to place for fun clothes and gifts!

What are your favorite events in Costa Mesa or Newport Beach?

We love to go to the OC Fair in the summer!  Concerts On The Green are fun to take the kids to in the summer as well.  We also like going to storytime at the library and finding new books to bring home.

What has been the most difficult age with your children to date?  What helped you overcome the challenges at that time?

I think the newborn stage was the hardest, especially the second time around when we had a 2 year old as well!  Trying to meet the needs of a newborn and give enough attention to our toddler was hard.  While I love the newborn stage and always miss it when it’s gone, it’s a lot!  I had a hard time with breastfeeding (both times) so that was always so stressful for me – the feeding, pumping (and not getting much), and worrying my babies weren’t getting enough.  When we started adding in bottles, things got easier!  My husband would stay up and do the last feeding before bed, and I was able to get a little more sleep in before the next feeding.  Our village made up of family is what got me through it!  We are so fortunate to have a lot of family super close by and they were (and still are!) always there for us.

What is one piece of advice you would pass along to other moms?  What was the best advice your mom gave you?

The advice I would pass along to other moms is that kids will do things when they are ready.   I have to remind myself of this but it’s always true.  Our 4 year old was late to potty train and we were worried about it but sure enough, one day he was ready and we haven’t looked back!  Our 2 year old was a late walker but again, he got it on his own time.  I think as moms we stress ourselves out with timelines and comparing our children to others, but we have to remember that every child is different and will do things when they are ready.

The best advice my mom gave me (and still reminds me of often) is:  everything is a phase.  Whether it’s sleeping issues, not eating much or eating enough of the “right stuff,” or whatever we may be struggling with, she always reminds me that it’s just a phase and things will change… and she’s always right!

What do you value most in your friends?

My best girlfriends are from college so we have been through it all together!  I value their honesty, loyalty and openness about everything.  We text each other all the time for advice, and they also make me laugh which is one of my most favorite qualities in a person!

What was your career before having children?  If it’s the same, how do you balance career & motherhood?

Before having kids I worked full time as a first grade teacher in Irvine Unified.  Since having kids, I have been lucky enough to continue teaching but only part time.  I share a contract with another teacher (who is also a mom) so I work 2 days a week.  This has been the best schedule for our family because I am able to be home with the boys and take them to school and their activities 3 days a week.  I love that I get to continue teaching and still have time with my boys at home while they are young. My schedule makes for a good balance between career and motherhood, but I do try to get all of my errands done at the beginning of the week so that on the days I do work, I can come home and be with the boys.

How do you relax and unwind?

I try to make time to workout at Burn Boot Camp several days a week.  It helps me unwind and also gives me energy to keep up with my boys.  Everyone there is so supportive and the workouts are fun and always different.  Plus childcare is included so that is super helpful!  After the boys go to bed, I relax and catch up on Bravo shows!

Thank you Annie!

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