Meet Dawn | Newport Mesa Moms

Meet Dawn, a Newport Beach native, community leader and #baseballmom of two.

How long have you lived in Costa Mesa / Newport Beach?  How many kids do you have and what are their ages?

My family moved to Newport Beach in the 1950’s.  My parents went to Newport Harbor High and my family owned a restaurant on the Peninsula for 30 years – Dillman’s Restaurant which is where Crusiers is now at the Balboa Pier.  I grew up here and went to St. Joachim and Mater Dei.  My husband of 17 years, Kris, and I have two kids – Colton, 14 (8th grader at Ensign) and Brody, 10 (5th grader at Kaiser).

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

We love to explore all of the parks in the area where usually a game of tag or wiffle ball ensues; the Back Bay trails for hiking and biking with our two dogs; Duffy rides on the harbor; and boogie boarding at the beach with friends.

Name three things in town you can’t live without.

Newport Nails, Ace Hardware (it’s a professional hazard), and Santa Monica Seafood (as a guilty pleasure).

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

My kids just recently fell in love with Acapulco even though it’s been there forever.  They just discovered non-alcoholic strawberry daiquiris and we let them order from the Happy Hour menu so they get to eat tapas style.  For a group or date night we love to support our friends at Descanso Restaurant for the great food, drinks and entertainment, or Billy’s on the Beach for a bay or sunset view.

Do you have a favorite destination for family trips? Why?

We have a 21 ft Hallett Ski Boat so the Colorado River is where you will find us most of the summer.  The kids are learning to water ski and we love exploring new parts of the river.  We are also talking about taking some educational trips to DC and Boston especially since we have friends who have recently moved there.  It will be fun to start exploring colleges too!

Name a favorite book or podcast?  What’s it about?

I don’t get to read nearly as much as I’d like to but I love a good mystery and I just started reading Sharp Objects by the author of Gone Girl.  For podcasts, I am an entrepreneur and marketer at heart so in addition to real estate-focused podcasts, I stumbled upon a podcast called How I Built This that features trailblazers and entrepreneurs who have built careers out of what they are passionate about.

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

Every age comes with its own unique set of challenges.  When they were little it was more about addressing their immediate needs and finding time for playtime as a family, and as they got older the challenges became much more focused on their mental health and helping them navigate the world as their eyes are opened to the evils in it.  We are a very open family and try to talk about everything going on in the world and things the kids might hear about or talk about at school so they understand the context and can form their own opinions.  As they get closer to high school, I feel that we are making more time to have that open dialogue to reaffirm our family values.

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

The best advice that I was given from another mom was to trust your intuition.  Mom always knows.  The best advice my mom gave me was to listen without judgment.  I read a great parenting book awhile back that put that into perspective especially when it comes to siblings.  The best thing to do when your kids are fighting or one is upset with the other is to not take sides and to listen and affirm that they are heard.  It can be SO hard at times, but it works.  Once kids feel that they are heard, the problem often goes away entirely.

What do you value most in your friends? 

Friendships are so important to my mental health and I am so thankful to each of them!  I enjoy a good laugh over a class of wine and sharing life in our crazy worlds.  I am fortunate to have made lifelong friends out of my Sigma Kappa sorority sisters.  It is so special to have a bond that has grown over the past 20+ years.

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

I have been a Residential Real Estate Agent now for seven years.  Prior to that I was a Marketing Executive and the long hours under the corporate umbrella were really difficult with a young family.  I am so fortunate to have my own business now, although my line of work is a 24/7 business that doesn’t necessarily shut down for vacations, but having a great team in place and organization are key.  I thrive on staying busy and I love what I do and I make an effort to make sure my family gets my undivided attention when they need it even if I have to schedule it on the calendar!

Fun Fact:  I also work with my dad, Jim Dillman, as a Realtor. He became a Realtor at about the same time I did after years in the Building Sector. With his knowledge of building and of the area he has been a huge asset to my team.

One thing people would be surprised to know about you.

I used to sing.  In fact, I was classically trained, singing mostly operatic and classical songs from the time I was 13 through college.

If and when you get time to yourself, what’s your favorite thing to do?

If and when I get time to myself I hog the TV remote and watch my favorite new show, The Home Edit, or read a book.  The kids joke that I don’t even know how to work the remote because I never get to use it.  Ha ha.

Any local charities or organizations you’d like to share with us?  

I am very involved in local charities including our very own We Love STEM Board at Kaiser and Woodland Elementary, and I am the newly appointed Membership Chair on the Board of Directors for the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce. Our family is also involved in Newport Harbor Baseball Association with my husband on the Board as well as a coach, and I am a sponsor and scorekeeper. We are a baseball family through and through! And of course any community events are fun.  I put on the Eastside Fire Sleigh last December where Santa rode his fire truck around town. It was a big hit with several hundred kids!

Thanks Dawn!
Dawn Marie Nicolaisen
The L3 Real Estate
DRE #01982039

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