Brenda is a hard-working NICU nurse and mom of two. She loves her workouts at Burn Boot Camp and is excited to be taking part in Disneyland’s Annual CHOC Walk in the Park this August! We’ve included a link in her interview if you are interested in donating or joining the team!
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Where are you from originally?
I was born in Santa Ana.
How long have you lived in Costa Mesa? How many kids do you have and what are their ages?
I moved to Costa Mesa 23 years ago (when I was 12). I have a 6-year-old boy named Strummer, and an 18-month-old girl, Rori.
What are your favorite things to do with your kids in general or in town?
Some of our favorite activities involve going to the pool, the beach, and to local parks; Marina Park being one of our favorites! We also love kayaking out of the Back Bay. We’ll even make the drive out to Irvine Regional Park where we’ll get some ice cream, enjoy the Zoo, and ride the train! We also like to cruise around South Coast Plaza. The kids enjoy the carousel and staying out of this heat! We always swing by Wahoo’s; sometimes grab a bite but always a gumball! When we can get a sitter for the baby we really enjoy going to the movies with our 6 year old. And lastly, we like to hit Balboa; ride some rides and get some treats!
What’s your favorite restaurant in town for a family date? A night out with friends? Why?
One of our favorite restaurants in town is Mendocino Farms on 17th Street. I am obsessed with the Avocado Quinoa Super Ensalada. They are a scratch kitchen, farm to table, and they have a variety of delicious sandwiches and healthy options for the kids. The restaurant also has an outside patio with games. After we eat we’ll play Jenga, foosball, or a quick game of corn hole. I’m looking forward to checking out Keys on Main at The Triangle for a girls night out this month!
What is your favorite kid-friendly recipe?
One of my go-to meals that the kids love is turkey cheeseburgers with a side of baked potato sweet fries.
1lb lean ground turkey, 1 large egg; beaten, 1/3 cup of chia seeds (acts as a binding agent instead of bread crumbs), and a tablespoon of chili powder. Bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees. I put mild sliced cheddar once out of the oven and let it melt. For the sweet potato, I slice them up and toss in EVOO, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. I bake them together, although the sweet potato bakes for a bit longer.
What is your local go-to store for children’s clothes? Yourself?
I am a one-stop-shop kind of gal. I am a Target and Costco frequenter. Good quality at a fair price, need I say more? As for myself, lately I have been buying from Stitch Fix. It took a few boxes before they got my style, but now I don’t have to do anything besides open up a box! How fun is that!?
What are your favorite events in Costa Mesa or Newport Beach?
We always love the Fair! We specifically make it a point to see the Demolition Derby. We also support the Fish Fry when it’s in town.
What has been the most difficult age with your children to date? What helped you overcome the challenges at that time?
This is a tough one. I feel that every age brings its challenges. But to date I have to say when Strummer was 5 almost 6, and Rori was about 6 months. She was crawling and they each just needed more attention from me, individually. I specifically was just having a harder time with my son. What got me through it was, one, I broke down and cried/vented and then I self-reflected. Where am I at? What do my kids need from me? I realized that I just needed to re-prioritize, and I started making time for regular one-on-one time with him. Things changed dramatically for the better. Having a second child and starting Kindergarten was a huge game changer!
What is one piece of advice you would pass along to other moms? What was the best advice your mom gave you?
I would and do tell other mothers to just do what works for them and their family. It does take a village to do it all, and I remind them that they are not alone! I always advise to self-reflect when things get tough, and to re-prioritize as needed. The best advice my mom has given me is to never doubt myself. She has always encouraged me to follow my dreams, and just simply would say, go for it, you can do it!
What do you most value in your friends?
I value the transparency in my friendships. Honesty and openness. Being supportive and just accepting each other for who we are! Exchanging stories and laughing over how AMAZING and daunting motherhood can be!
What was your career before having children? If it’s the same, how do you balance career & motherhood?
Before having Strummer I was a bartender/waitress for about 8 years. When he was 8 months old I decided to pursue my dream and went to nursing school. So, now I am proud to say I am a NICU nurse at CHOC Children’s Hospital. Like I said before, it takes a village; without my husband, my parents, in-law’s, daycare, and a friend, I wouldn’t be able to balance it all! Days off are split with running my house and making memories with my kids!
How do you relax and unwind?
I give myself at least 45 minutes on my days off to go to Burn Boot Camp! It feels so good physically and mentally! After 12+ hour days, sweating it out is key, and a great way to start the day. They have free childcare, and the classes are upbeat and always different. I never know what I’m walking into. To unwind every night after the kids are in bed, my husband and I watch an episode of whatever series we are bingeing on at the time. We just finished Safe on Netflix.
Anything else you want to add?
I am very passionate about my work and would love to share that every year Disneyland hosts The CHOC Walk in the Park to raise funds to support our families during one of the hardest times in their lives! Please help our team exceed our goal! The walk is August 26th, 2018. You can donate directly or join our team using this link: http://www.chocwalk.org/TeamNICU
Thank you Brenda!