Driving to my friend Jen’s baby shower, my daughter Emily asked, “Why do they call it a baby shower, anyway?”
“I think it’s because when you become a new mom, you don’t get to take very many showers,” I said. “So we throw mommies-to-be one big shower before the baby comes.”
Cue the rimshot: “ba-da-bum, ching.” No giggle. Nothing. She just blinked at me. “Okay, Sweetie,” I told her, coming clean. “It’s really because we shower the mom-to-be with gifts for the new baby.”
This was Emily’s first baby shower, and she was pumped, dolled up and brimming with questions. Then she asked what we were going to do at the shower. I told her we’d open gifts, eat fancy snacks, play games. She perked right up at the games idea. “What kind of games?”
I could’ve told her about the Baby Food Game or The Safety Pin Game, but I didn’t. Maybe it was my unrelenting need to mess with my kids, or maybe it was the Frappuccino talking, but I launched into a list of games that I thought would much better reflect the true parenting experience:
The Eating Shameful Things Game: Shower guests are given a plate of pizza crusts, dried out mac and cheese, sticky Goldfish crackers and cold French fries. Whoever eats it the quickest wins a prize.
The Feign Sleeping Game: While all the guests are seated in a circle, one at a time they lie in the middle while everyone makes the loudest noises possible to try to “wake” them. Whoever can pretend they’re sleeping the longest wins! Not recommended for co-ed showers; the men smoke us every time.
The Find Something to Wear Game: Place each player in front of a closet packed with clothes, but only a few things that actually fit. Give them 30 seconds to find something to wear. All the moms will gasp in sympathy as the mom-to-be reaches for the pre-pregnancy jeans.
As a mom who is 12 years into her parenting gig, I guess I feel a little, I don’t know, jaded. No, not jaded – more like a wise old mommy sage, like Maggie Seaver or Clair Huxtable. (It really is sad that all of my parenting role models come from ’80s TV shows.)
Whenever I go to a baby shower, I feel the urge to paint a more realistic picture of parenting for the mom-to-be. I want to bring the Pottery Barn Catalog and go through it page by page. “See this?” I’d say, pointing to the perfectly groomed children seated quietly around an uncovered pine table doing a craft. “This isn’t real, you know. You don’t dress kids in satin and give them glue.”
But once we got to the shower, like always, my heart started to melt. I was swept up in the music, the melon balls, the memories of my first shower.
The reality of parenting isn’t the same as we thought it was when we held up booties and footie jammies to “oohs” and “aahs” at our own showers. But that doesn’t mean it’s any less wondrous. Being a parent is better than you could ever imagine and impossible to explain, and it brings you immeasurable happiness and joy. So why not celebrate with cupcakes and a mountain of gifts?
Welcome to the Mom’s Club, Jen. It will be fantastic. Just don’t think about reaching for those pre-pregnancy jeans quite yet.
In the morning my mom and dad gather the Orange County Register from their driveway, lay it out on the table before them and methodically go through it, section by section. For more than 20 years it’s been as much a part of their morning routine as a cup of coffee, and they have taken note of the recent changes.
“I just love what you’re doing with the Register!” my mom told me. She’s been delighted with the expanded coverage and redesign, and of course it’s all my doing. Like any good mom, she credits me with all of the positive changes that recently have infused the OC Register with new life.
Though I’d like to take all of the credit for the paper’s transformation, my role is limited to OC Register Family magazine. Publisher Aaron Kushner is the man leading the about-face of our county’s paper by pouring in the resources, hiring more reporters, redesigning the community papers and adding a weekly glossy magazine to subscribers’ growing benefits.
That’s where I come in, Mom.
In this, our 15th year of publication, OC Family magazine – now OC Register Family – begins to be delivered atop the Orange County Register once a month. We are part of a four-magazine rotation that includes OC Register Metro (formally OC Metro) and two editions of the new OCR Magazine, which will stylishly highlight the lifestyle, fashion and people of Orange County.
Fresh off receiving the Bronze Award for General Excellence from the prestigious Parenting Magazine Association, we plan to continue our coverage of parenting issues that impact Orange County moms and dads, and we’ve expanded our content to include an At Home section (“Celebrate spring with a garden party,” Page 50), more teen-focused coverage with the addition of Dr. Jim Burns (Confident Parenting, Page 32) as a columnist for Teen Years and an additional feature story. Subscribers also will see more current topics — including articles on single parenting, homeschooling and talking to your kids about sex – beginning in this issue with demystifying the digital world of our kids (page 81).
“We are here to serve our community first,” Kushner told a room filled with Register employees during a recent town hall meeting. That’s our mission and that’s what folks like my mom see in the pages of their beloved newspaper.
I’ll keep up the good work, Mom, (with a little help from the other hundreds of people here at the Orange County Register).
If you know me, you know I like bunnies (see proof here). This time of year throws me deep into my obsession with those cuddly, whiskered creatures at every turn. That is one reason why I’m thrilled to offer this giveaway, it seems fitting.
Have you seen Orange County’s B. toffeeEaster B.unny Basket? It’s a limited edition gift that comes with both milk chocolate and dark chocolate B. toffee all places lovingly in this adorable basket. Each comes with two 9-ounce canisters of B. toffee (one dark and one milk chocolate), a 6-ounce bag of B. bits, and a special 4-ounce Easter gift box customized by Betsy Thagard. It’s priced at $54.99 but I’m giving one away right here.
Simply leave a comment below to enter to win and I’ll pick a winner via Random.org on March 15, 2013.
If you can’t wait to see if you’ve won, you can order a basket for Easter, just do so by Friday, March 22nd via email to orders@Btoffee.com or phone at 949-722-9001.
More about B.Toffee straight from them:
B. toffee also offers customizable Easter boxes for personal and corporate gifting. Orders of any size can be personalized with special sentiments or company logos! Owner Betsy Thagard’s handcrafted toffee is the perfect gift for any occasion and can be purchased online at www.btoffee.com.
B. toffee is handcrafted in Orange County by Betsy Thagard, who makes her delectable toffee with only the finest, freshest and most natural ingredients, from savory butters, to premium Guittard and Callebaut chocolates. Combined, all the ingredients deliver a brilliant experience of warmth, sophistication and vitality. With an elegant balancing act of extravagance and pure simplicity, B. toffee exemplifies the ultimate indulgence.
Bruxie has been our favorite since my kids and I visited the first location in Old Towne Orange in 2010. We joined the line snaked around the little square building on Glassell Street not sure what to expect: everything served on a waffle? But it just took one trip to move it to top of the list of places they want to go when eating out.
With its unique take on the Belgium waffle Bruxie’s popularity has spread like wildfire. My favorite meal is the Roasted Mushroom and Goat Cheese waffle sandwich (pictured below) with fresh basil, arugula and balsamic reduction, accompanied with waffle fries and Bruxie’s Old Fashioned Pure Cane Sugar diet soda. I would love to try their other selections, like the Prosciutto & Gruyere or the Hot Pastrami, but I can’t resist the smokey, cheesy goodness of my “usual.”
Last week the rapidly growing O.C.-based restaurant group announced they were adding kid’s meals to their menu beginning March 1. Though my kids liked to order off the regular menu, it did get pricey, so I’m liking this option. Nothing on Bruxie’s menu exceeds $10, but one they order a homemade strawberry lemonade or a chocolate shake and fries, the price tag gets hefty.
Though I do wish they offered a little more variety of sandwiches in the kid’s meals, you can’t beat the $4.95 price which includes waffle fries and a drink. The kid’s meals are limited to these waffle selections; Cheesy, S’mores and PB&J all served with waffle fries or the Brussels Waffle with whipped creme and berries.
“Bruxie appeals to a wide range of diners, and there’s no denying that we’ve become a hotspot for families. We’re always looking for ways to enhance the Bruxie Experience, so we’ve added options for our youngest fans,” commented Dean Simon, managing partner of Bruxie. “Our kid’s menu highlights a selection of our most popular Bruxie sandwiches among children.”
I would love to see them add one of their breakfast sandwiches and a hamburger option, but from the looks of these photos below, most kids will find something they like …
Old Towne Orange
Birch Street Promenade in Brea Downtown
Rancho Santa Margarita
It’s half an hour before we’re meant to be at our church’s Christmas Eve service, and I’m frantically primping, zipping and buttoning up my two small children. My 1-year-old son, Ben, looks like an itsy-bitsy Harvard English professor wearing rust-colored corduroy pants, a flannel shirt, a wool knit vest and a bow tie.
“Mom, I’m hot!” protests my 4-year-old, Emily, as she begins to pull off her tights from the toes. It took me forever to get those wiggly little legs inside those candy cane-embellished leggings, and she is NOT going to take them off now. I shoot her a “Don’t you even think about it” look as I reattach my son’s clip-on bow tie for the fourth time.
It’s a gorgeous 80-degree day in Orange County, and my family looks like the cover of the LL Bean Christmas Catalog – except no one is smiling, we’re not holding a sleigh and we’re all miserably hot.
This is crazy, I thought. What am I doing?
That was the moment I decided to embrace the holidays, O.C. style. With my OK, we all started shedding our heavy clothes. Off with turtleneck. Off with the cords. Off with the knit hat. Finally, off with those silly tights.
On with the sundresses, flip-flops and Quiksilver t-shirts.
I don’t know why it took me so long. I’m an O.C. native, born and raised in Huntington Beach. However, I was obviously in denial about what Christmas really looked like here until that unbearably hot December day seven years ago.
Beckey Brumfield, who writes our cover story this month, is a native as well. When we were looking for someone to tell “our story,” I knew she could do it, given her unabashed, irreverent style that I’ve grown to love.
I started reading Beckey’s personal blog, Hippo Brigade, about five years ago. Beautiful, stylish and drop-dead hilarious, it grabbed me immediately. As a mother of two and a baby on the way, Beckey is the quintessential Bridget Jones of motherhood.
All of us at OC Family wish you a happy, healthy – and not-too-hot – holiday season.
Being a mom is a practice of living out one cliché after another. Starting with pregnancy — the cravings, arched-back walk and swollen ankles — all the way to the empty nest syndrome, it seems as a mom I’ve never utter a single original phrase to my kids.
In the last 24-hours I’ve said to my two kids:
“Don’t make me come in there!”
“Who tracked in all of this mud?”
“I don’t wont either of you to talk, touch or even look at each other the rest of the day.”
“I have told you a million time not to (…eat gold fish out of the box, watch TV while doing homework, take the dog on the trampoline). “
It just happens. I’m a better person for it.
When I was pregnant with my first child, Emily, my girlfriend Jill said to me, “I’m happy for you, but I’m also sad,” Um, what? Everyone else was showering congratulations. Jill, always coming through with great perspective, continued: “As soon as you hold your baby in your arms for the first time your heart will forever be open to the most imence joy ever, but also be open to the most pain.”
She was so right. Motherhood can be enormously gratifying and has given me more happiness than I could have ever imagined, but the worry can be crippling at time and the sacrifice and patience required can sometimes feel too much to bear. Even through all of that it’s the best job I ever had…and there is another cliché that rings true.
This month’s Celebrate Mom’s issue is the first of what we hope will be an annual issue. The ten moms featured in this issue are super moms or better than any other mom, they are simply local moms who we hope will inspire and encourage others who are working in the field of motherhood.
We will be taking nominations all year at OCFamily.com or moms who you think deserve to be celebrated. Please share your stories of motherhood by choosing the Celebrate Moms button on our website and submitting your nominee.
The nice folks at Crevier Mini in Santa Ana lent me a shiny red MINI Cooper Countryman to drive for a week. You might have seen my kids and me rocketing around town in this four-door, crossover version of the popular MINI.
MINI has answered the call of families who liked the adorable and stylish ways of the traditional MINI, but feared the lack of cargo space and the thought of their kids sitting so close to each other in the back seat.
I drove my Countryman to all of my favorite mom spots – Target, Trader Joe’s – and was able to fit every bit of my haul into the back trunk. The backseat was roomy enough for the kids and, as an added benefit; they thought it was a pretty cool car to get out of during morning drop off. They still weren’t keen to me singing along with Katy Perry with the windows down during drop off, but the car was cool with them.
Scene: Dive bar just outside Orange County. It was a hot day. Too hot to be inside, still I walked into the dark barroom quickly and with great expectations. The sun filtered in through the dirt and bumper stickers on the window and the light illuminated all the dust particles in the dead bar air. I was overcome by the smell mixed equally of stale cigarettes, beer sweat and tinkle.
I let my eyes adjust and scanned the room looking eagerly for the face for someone I’ve never seen before. Someone I knew only as ‘Gene.’ As soon as I laid my eyes on the slumped, Micky Rouke circa 9 1/2 weeks throwback man leaning motionless against the bar, I knew he was the one I was there to see.
I sidled up to the seat next to him, and after taking a Wet Wipe to the ripped red vinyl cushion, I sat down and order a wine cooler. The bartender looked at me with a perplexed face and then I clarified, “Oh, sorry, a STRAWBERRY / LIME wine cooler.” He then walked away shaking his head and went through the curtains into the back room, never to be seen again.
“You Gene?” I asked as I checked my iPhone for a text from my girlfriend confirming she picked up my kids. ”Yeah, you Lizzy?” he said into his drink. (Good, she picked them up on time. What? “No, no Icee!” I furiously typed, “Just bring them to your house like I said.” Sheesh!) ”Yes, I’m Suz….LIZZY, I’m Lizzy,” I confirmed, nodding like a bobblehead with a big, geeky smile.
“So, who do you want me to whack?” he said, again into his drink.
“What? You need to sit up and look at me when you talk. No one is going to respect you if you mumble,” I corrected him.
He did exactly what I said and then he asked again, “You know, who do you want to dispose of?”
“Well,” I said, looking around for the bartender, “It’s not exactly a ‘Who’ as it is a ‘What.’”
**Journey’s “Open Arms” comes on the juke box and for a minute were both lost in the sadness and hope of it.
“Listen Lady, I don’t have time for your little word games,” Gene was getting agitated with me.
“Like I said, It’s not a ‘Who’ I want rid of… I will pay you handsomely to make my…my laundry disappear. I want it gone. I don’t ever want to see it again and I don’t care how you do it. Just make it clean and make sure it never comes back,” I blurted out in double-time. It felt so good to finally come out and say it out loud.
Then Gene did that little laugh men do when they think you’re crazy, when they want to discount a perfectly reasonable request. My brothers did it last week when I said I thought he needed to use conditioner on his hair, **that laugh** “Conditioner, yeah, okay…,” he said.
I snapped and in a quiet scream, through my perfectly glossed motionless lips I tell him, “Listen Chuckles, first of all women hate it when guys do that laugh and I can see by the absences of a wedding ring you have had no luck in that arena so cut out the condescending attitude. Second of all, I’m willing to pay handsomely with the money I earned from selling knitted latte cozies on Etsy. So that’s it! I’m taking a hit out on my laundry.”
I was really on a roll now…
“Obviously,” I continued, ” You don’t know what it’s like to hate something so much that you’re willing to risk it all–the house, the Escalade, the double oven and the holiday newsletter—in order to see it killed.”
No stopping me now…
“Obviously, from the smell of you, you haven’t done laundry in a very long time… Obviously, you don’t know what it’s like to finish a task only to see it waiting for you the next day, double the size and the next and the next…Like some crazed, evil monster sent to the earth only to mock and torture you. Well, that is what I want to die, so if you aren’t man enough for the task just say the word and I’ll take my cash somewhere else.”
At this point I realize I’m practically sitting on poor Chuckles’s lap. He had, not so much a scared look on his face, but more a look that comes from nagging someone into obedience. I was in my comfort zone. I backed off, sat back down and dug through my purse for the cash.
“Here,” I said as I threw it down in front of him. “There’s an extra grand in it for you if you take care of ‘making dinner,’ too.” I then turned on my sensible heels and marched out to my Escalade. I then started the long drive back to Orange County–smiling the whole way.
Halloween Time is in full swing at the Disneyland Resort. If you’re a fan like me you go back year after year to see the jack-o-laterns on Main Street, get a snapshot with your favorite characters dress up in their Halloween best, watch the fireworks show — Halloween Screams — and take in the changing of the season in the park. It’s a family tradition.
This year Disneyland Resort has added something new to the mix of fall activities and special events — Disney’s Halloween Carnival. This new gold and orange trimmed area is right next to Big Thunder Ranch Round-up and is filled with all sorts of fun activities like six-times daily performances by Billy Hill and the Hillbillies, pumpkin carving, and carnival-style games for the kids.
Another very spooky addition at the Halloween Time Carnival is “The Astounding Cauldron of Magic” show. I had the opportunity to preview the show. You have GOT to see who I end up conjuring up …