Shannon is a mom of two who grew up in the Midwest and loves that she can take her kids to the beach on any given day, relies on family to help coordinate schedules, and can’t live without Target!
Where are you from originally?
I grew up in Southern Wisconsin, met my husband (a Los Angeles native) while we were Sophomores at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and moved to California with him the week after we graduated college.
How long have you lived in Costa Mesa or Newport Beach? How many kids do you have and what are their ages?
We have lived in the Costa Mesa/Newport Beach area for 12 years. We have 2 kids: Kendall (7) and Noah (4).
What are your favorite things to do with your kids in general or in town?
Right now, we are loving hikes at the Back Bay and seeing all the wildflowers in bloom. We love the outdoors in general and are excited for the weather to get warmer so we can spend time at the beach. My in-laws have a house in Lake Arrowhead, so we are very fortunate to be able to take quick weekend trips and spend time up in the mountains and on the lake.
Name 3 things in town you can’t live without.
Target (does that count?!)
The beach…growing up in the Midwest, the ocean never gets old
17th Street…we live so close and can literally find everything we need on this street, so we don’t need to venture far.
What’s your favorite restaurant in town for a family date? A night out with friends? Why?
Our favorite restaurants to go to with the kids are The Pizza Bakery – you can’t beat the prices on their daily specials, and did I mention the unlimited garlic knots? We also love The Burger Lounge (ice cream dessert included with the kids meals), and My Greek Kitchen for easy dinner take-out. Plum’s is a favorite for breakfast. For an adult night out, we love Olea (yummy food), Tommy Bahama (yummy drinks), and Tabu Shabu.
What is your favorite kid-friendly recipe?
Hmmm….chicken nuggets, mac & cheese, and quesadillas are the most popular kid-friendly items in our house these days. But we try to do a big breakfast at home at least one day over the weekend and recently discovered this New York Times recipe for Perfect Buttermilk Pancakes, which was a hit:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
2 ½ cups buttermilk
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Coconut Oil for the pan
Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a bowl. Using the whisk, make a well in the center. Pour the buttermilk into the well and crack eggs into buttermilk. Pour the melted butter into the mixture. Starting in the center, whisk everything together, moving towards the outside of the bowl. Do not overbeat (lumps are fine).
Heat a large nonstick griddle or skillet, preferably cast-iron, over low heat for about 5 minutes. Add 1 tbsp oil to the skillet. Turn heat up to medium-low and using a measuring cup, ladle 1/3 cup batter into the skillet.
Flip pancakes after bubbles rise to the surface and bottoms brown, about 2 to 4 minutes. Cook until the other sides are lightly browned. We add chocolate chips for the kids.
What is your local go-to store for children’s clothes? Yourself? Furniture?
My go-to stores for kids clothes are Target and Nordstrom Rack. For myself, it depends on what I’m looking for and if I can sneak away and go shopping on my own! My personal favorites are Madewell and Aritzia, which are conveniently right across from each other at South Coast Plaza. I love West Elm for Furniture. I’ve recently heard from a few people about great deals at the Macy’s Home Store, so we may be checking that out when it’s time for a new furniture purchase!
What are your favorite events in Costa Mesa or Newport Beach?
We love the Spring Faire at the ENC (which my son refers to as “the jungle”). One of my son’s favorite events is also the free monthly mini train rides at Goat Hill Junction/Fairview Park. The Holidays are always a favorite time of the year for me, so we love all the festivities like the boat parade and walking around Balboa Island looking at the lights.
Do you have a favorite destination for family trips? Why?
Our favorite family vacation destination so far has been Hawaii. We’ve been to 3 of the islands and each is so different and beautiful. Most recently, we did a road trip up the coast to Monterey. It was such an easy trip and there were plenty of kid friendly stops along the way. Big Sur was breathtaking, and the kids loved looking for sea lions.
Name a favorite book?
Unfortunately, I don’t get nearly enough time to read these days. Between kid books and business type books I’m reading for work, there’s not much time to read leisurely. I do love all of Liane Moriarty’s books: Three Wishes, The Husband’s Secret, and Big Little Lies (the HBO series was so good too)…they are fast, captivating reads.
What has been the most difficult age with your children to date? What helped you overcome the challenges at that time?
Three has been the most difficult age by far with both of my kids…both were trying to become more independent and verbalize their feelings more, yet could be really clingy at the same time. This is when the tantrums really started for us too. With my daughter, it helped having other first-time mom friends with similar aged kids to be able to share experiences with and lean on for support. With my son, we knew the challenging times would get better since this was our second time around!
What is one piece of advice you would pass along to other moms? What was the best advice your mom gave you?
Hang in there…everything is temporary. Certain ages are more difficult than others, but time goes by so quickly that your kids will move from one phase to the next. It is important to be present and enjoy the small things. The last seven years have flown by for us! My mom always told me it’s ok to ask for help.
What do you value most in your friends?
A solid group of friends that is supportive and there for you when you need them…it’s great having mom friends to talk parenting stories with yet also get out and have adult time away from the kids too. With some of my longtime friends, I love that while we may not have time to talk on a super regular basis, every time we see each other, we can pick up exactly where we left off.
What was your career before having children? If it’s the same, how do you balance career and motherhood?
I have always worked in the Apparel Industry in Product Merchandising since graduating college (I work directly with a team of Designers and Product Developers on creating product and influencing what gets put into the line). For the past 6 years, I have been at Vans at their Global Headquarters. It’s definitely not always easy to balance career and motherhood; I travel internationally for work and my husband is in Sales, so he is constantly on the road too. Having a strong support network around is key. We rely on our families a lot to help us out with the kids, but we make it a priority to attend our kids’ events and be present for them. It definitely takes a lot of coordinating schedules and calendars!
How do you relax and unwind?
I try to make time for self-care when I can, whether it’s escaping and getting my nails done, or my husband has started buying me gift cards for massages for the holidays/birthdays, which is always a welcome treat. We always try to do one vacation per year without kids to recharge our batteries, since it’s been a hectic couple of years.
Do you have any favorite organizations you can share with us?
Our son was born prematurely and spent his first 4 months in the NICU, so as a family, we have been involved in March of Dimes and the annual Orange County March for Babies walk, which the kids love.
Thank you Shannon!