Posts by christy:

Family of Five

Family of Five

Adventures in Newborn Land

Hi everyone! It’s me, Christy!  The last time you heard from me, I was VERY pregnant, VERY anxious to meet my newest addition, and sharing my thoughts with you about becoming a family of five. And here we are, six months later, and I am incredibly excited to introduce you to our sweet baby girl, Emma!  And share my thoughts with you about now actually being a family of five.

She’s here!

Our healthy little auburn-haired beauty was born two days before her due date…at a whooping 9.6 pounds. It was love at first sight for my husband and I, and we were obsessed with her miniature, delicate features, coos, itty bitty cries, chunky cheeks, and snuggles. This little butterball fit perfectly in my arms, stared at me with huge blue eyes, and was a big cuddler. We couldn’t wait to share her with our big kids.

The moment they met their baby sister is hard to put into words. Their gasps of delight, excitement, and genuine love for this tiny human who just joined our family is something that I will always hold dear.  One of those snapshots in time that I want to tuck away carefully, remembering every little nuisance, every giggle, every smile.

Newborn

Party of five

First, let me start by saying that I can’t imagine our lives without Emma.  She was always meant to be in our family. Six months later, it feels as though she’s been with us forever – in the best way possible. But…it’s been hard.  Really hard at times.

Because, guess what? That cliche saying that “every baby is different,” is said for a reason. Every baby is different. And our little Emma is no exception – she is completely and totally different than our first two. So that mommy confidence of, “I totally know what I’m doing and I’ll just easily transition back to taking care of an itty bitty,” didn’t quite go as planned.  I’ve had to lean on my husband. Lean on family.  Lean on friends.  And accept (and make peace) that it’s okay that this has been a more challenging transition. And I can’t thank them enough for being my “village.”  You know who you are!

Here are some things I’ve learned so far with being a mama of three –

– I always accept help now – and pretty much every time someone offers it. Gone are the days that I smile and say, “Oh, thanks so much for the offer to ________, but we’re totally fine and under control.” Um, now I smile, say thank you, and say yes to whatever sweet person is offering to do something.

– It’s also much easier for me to ask for help now.  I need it. My life is currently a mesh of school carpools, homework questions, sports practices, Taylor Swift, Star Wars trivia, and remembering important school and sports deadlines…plus feedings, scheduling things around nap times, fussy times, crawling, introducing solids, singing “Wheels on the Bus,” playing patty cake, and Googling, “Is it normal that my baby…? (fill in the blank).”

– Sleep deprivation is as difficult as I remember. Sleep regressions are even more difficult than I remember.  On the flip side, baby snuggles, cuddles, coos and little baby chunks to squeeze are even better than I remember.

– There is no “napping or resting when the baby naps” (although I’ve always struggled with that one anyways). Pass the coffee.  Nap times are for getting things done at warp speed OR having the baby sleep in the car while carting a big kid around.  Yep, baby #3 is my “car seat” kid. I’ve made peace with that, too. Sometimes I feel like the jump from two to three kids has been exponential.

– Having a big age gap between my bigs and my little has actually been pretty amazing.  Because they are enjoying her so much.  Which makes it easier for everyone to enjoy her so much!  I have built-in helpers who dote on her, entertain her, take care of her, feed her, diaper her, and cuddle her.  I LOVE this.

– My hubby and I are more relaxed this time with baby.  We have to be.  Seriously.

Our new reality

Three kids_2

I was just joking with one of my dear mama friends – someone always needs something.  Someone is always sick. Is hungry. Has a question.  Is waking up. Is hungry again. Is arguing. Is yelling. Forgot something. Needs to be somewhere. Can’t remember where they put something. Dropped something. And on, and on, and on.

But look at those grins!  Our house is always filled with lots of laughter, lots of kid noises, lots of play and lots of hugs. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

Some days, everything flows.  And some days it just doesn’t.  Which means that I have to (gulp) just go with it.  Yep, this Type-A mama is learning to just go with it. Well, I’m trying to, at least!  Baby steps.

Thank you again for being part of my pregnancy journey, and for all of your well wishes and sweet comments. I am so happy to share about Miss Emma, and thank you for all of your support!

Top OC Parks to Visit This Summer

Top OC Parks to Visit This Summer

Summer is in full swing and for those of us with little ones, that means a lot of OC park time!  I’ve complied a list of Tiny Orange’s best park “picks” through the years, as well as some of my new favorite hangouts.  Here are my top OC parks to visit this summer.  Happy playing!

Tiny Oranges’ Recs

– We are huge fans of Michele’s NaturePlayTrips.com FREE Family Guidebooks Club which now includes a FREE Crystal Cove Guidebook plus a free weekly play trips email. Once you’re a member you’ll get future guidebooks for free like the Parks in Orange County with Restrooms Guide AND a Beginner Guide to Family Camping. Since 2008, Michele has personally scouted pretty much every park and outdoor play space for families in OC, and has shared the inside scoop on her blog FunOrangeCountyParks.com. To this we say, thank you Michele!

 – You can read all about Jen’s favorite parks in Our Top 5 Orange County Parks.

– Here’s a great Tiny Oranges’ write-up on TeWinkle and Angels Playground and Park (Costa Mesa).

– Check out the adorable Citrus Ranch Park (Tustin) in this blog.

– Coastal Peak Park (Newport Coast) looks so beautiful, and you can read about the playground details in this blog.

– Another gorgeous park is found at Lido Island Playground (Lido Island, close to Newport) – this one makes me extra happy and extra appreciative to live in beautiful Orange County!

– Settlers Park (Irvine) is a really great park and playground, and Tiny Oranges reviews it in this blog.  Check it out!

My New (and Old) Favorites

Baker Ranch (Lake Forest) – This is a super fun park that just opened last year.  It has large rock areas to climb for big kids (pictured above), a huge tunnel slide, a “big” kid playground, a “little” kid playground, grassy areas, picnic areas, and a nice park bathroom.  My kids love this one!

Crown Valley Park (Laguna Niguel) – This newly renovated (and I mean, newly renovated!) park just re-opened this month…and it is fabulous! A super cool, super entertaining splash pad that kept my kids giggling and busy (bonus – two life guards on duty!), a playground for littles, a playground for bigs, and a family-friendly hiking trail.  This very pregnant mama wan’t up for a hike while we were there, but it’s nice to know it’s available. Just be prepared for crowds – because it is so new, everyone seems to be checking out this new little gem.

Florence Joyner Olympiad Park (Mission Viejo) – This is a park my family has enjoyed for years…and we actually had my daughter’s 1st birthday party here (many moons ago)!  It’s an awesome, interactive park designed to keep both littles and bigs busy and happy. Slides (my kids LOVE the tall, bendy slide!), swings, sand areas, a “pirate ship,” lots of room to run and play, equipment for all ages, grassy areas, and bathrooms.

Lake Forest Sports Park and Recreation Center (Lake Forest) – I recently discovered this (almost brand new!) park and it is amazing! This is huge, clean, community property opened last year, and has two amazing parks that are separated – one designed for the littles and one designed for the bigs – and both areas are BIG. With LOTS to do.  It boasts every type of playground equipment you’d ever want (and it’s mostly shaded!), plus expansive grassy areas, picnic areas, immaculately kept sports fields, and a beautiful community center (with super clean bathrooms!).

Heritage Park (Irvine) – I’ve only been here once, but I can’t wait to take my kids again this summer. Not only does this park offer a fabulous playground, but it also features a water play area and splash pad!  Tons of great playground equipment and a beautiful area.  Just make sure to bring a towel and/or a change of kid clothes with you!

Pavion Park (Mission Viejo) – Okay, I can’t wait to check this one out.  My mama friends say this park rocks!  It’s also pretty new (as of Dec. 2014), and looks like it will be a kid crowd pleaser – and it’s universally accessible!  Tons of different “spinners,” a new type of “zip line,” slides, tons of places to climb, spacious “sitting” areas for adults and/or kids to socialize, a ground maze, lots of space to run and play…I think the only special thing to note is that there is not a bathroom on site (so plan ahead, if you can!).

 

What are some of your favorite parks, moms? Please share below, and let’s add to this list! 

 

Thoughts on Becoming a Family of Five

Becoming a Family of Five

The Pregnancy Diaries

It’s official!  I’m now rounding the last two weeks (or shorter!) of my third pregnancy and everyone in my family is on “baby watch.” The final countdown has begun, and soon my tight-knit little family of four will expand.  Today, as I write my last “pregnancy diaries” blog, I’d like to share my thoughts on becoming a family of five.

First of all, let me tell you how crazy it is to think about welcoming a new little angel baby into our home and family in just a few short weeks.  We’ve talked and talked and talked about a third baby, been through the longest pregnancy in the history of pregnancies (okay, not the longest…but it certainly feels that way with as sick as I’ve been!), and the kids have been counting down the days since we told them they were going to be a new big sister and big brother (which has been since Christmas).  And that time is now.  It’s HERE.

I wonder what it will be like holding a new baby girl…because we’ve been such a close little family of four for years now.  We have our routines, our roles, our family jobs…and everything has evolved to be a (fairly) well-oiled machine.  We’ve been sleeping for years.  It’s wonderfully exciting (and a little scary!) to think about what dynamic Miss Emma will bring to our family.

The picture I chose for this blog is our annual Taughannock Falls waterfall picture that is taken every year during our family trip to Upstate New York – posed in the same spot since our oldest was a baby. This particular photo was taken just this year, and I was about 7 1/2 months pregnant.  And next year, one of us will be holding our new princess – wow.

I wonder what she will look like – who she will look like. I imagine her a happy baby, with a big slobbery toothless grin.  How could she not be happy???  She is such a little dancer in the womb, and I imagine she will be an active, happy, energetic baby (and kiddo) who is constantly trying to keep up with her big brother and big sister.  I imagine she’ll want to do everything that they do…and more.

I imagine what it will be like to see my two big kids hold their baby sister for the first time.  To see the wonder and excitement in their eyes.  That mom’s big belly really did, in fact, grow them a baby sister. To see them giggle when she grabs their finger for the first time.  And to see how they react and adjust to sharing mom and dad (and their home, their car, their space, their toys, their dog, their time…with their new sister…please God, let this part go well).

What will it be like not to sleep again?  What will it be like to move through my days like a zombie again…but this time with two big kids that need my time, love, attention, and help?  Not to mention carpool chauffeur and homework checker and soccer mom. Hmmmm.

The baby’s nursery is done, and I often find myself sitting in her room, rocking in the big glider (that we saved from the last two kids), and day-dreaming about her arrival.  It’s surreal, looking at all of the tiny clothes again, all of the baby supplies, the endless diapers, the teethers, the tiny socks and hair bows and bibs and binkies…

I catch myself telling people about “the girls,” or “our girls,” and can’t stop smiling.  Because now my husband and I have the responsibility of raising two little girls, and we can’t wait.  No, they will probably never wear matching clothing in pictures or share the same toys, or even the same interests, at times, because they will be almost eight years apart.  But I know that they will share a sisterly bond that only they will understand.

And I know that our son, our newly promoted middle child, will have the experience of having two sisters.  And he’s told me that he can’t wait for his baby sister because it’s his job to protect her (please let him remember this when she is chewing on his toys or throwing a toddler tantrum in front of his friends).

It feels like Baby Emma has been with our family forever, and she’s still tucked safely in my belly. You mamas know what I mean – it’s amazing we feel this way about our babies, isn’t it? My whole family can’t wait to meet her…and as my son says, “finally kiss her big chubby baby cheeks!”  Thank you all for your sweet wishes, thoughts and support during this crazy pregnancy journey – I can’t wait to share updates and pictures once she makes her big arrival!

Things to Do Before Baby Arrives Checklist

things to do before baby arrives checklist

The Pregnancy Diaries…

The third trimester. UGH.  The THIRD trimester.  All of you mamas know what I’m talking about. The trimester that seems to last 3,000 days.  And here I am, smack dab in the middle of it – 36 weeks and counting – which inspired this things to do before baby arrives checklist post!

There’s something about hitting that 36th week that inspires major excitement (and minor panic) – baby is coming – SOON!!!!

Which means there are lots of things to do before baby arrives. Gulp.

Whether it’s your first or third, there is always SO much to be done to prepare.  We’ve already talked about that crazy little phenomenon called “pregnancy brain,” right?  So this is why lists are so important to me…and most pregnant moms I know.

Whenever I feel myself getting overwhelmed at how much still needs to be done before baby girl comes, I make a checklist.  On the flip side, these lists you make can also cause you to feel overwhelmed, so try to take your to-do tasks in stride, and ask for help when you can! Here is my things to do before baby arrives checklist. If you have anything to add, please comment below!

Things to Do Before Baby Arrives Checklist

1. Finish the baby’s room.

2. Buy any other baby items you may still need.

3. Decide on cord blood banking and initiate the process, if you decide to do it.

4. Make sure the baby’s car seat is assembled and cleaned, and practice installing.

5. For that matter, install any other mandatory baby item that may need more attention that just washing and folding.

6. If you are going to give sibling gifts (from the baby to the big kids), buy and wrap with a card.

7. If you plan to order a breast pump through your insurance company, call and get the information – order (many insurances now cover breast pumps!).

8. Research and purchase nursing bras, if you are planning to nurse.

9. Wash newborn clothing, blankets, sheets, liners, changing pad covers, etc.

10. Finish any baby gift thank-you notes to friends and family.

11. If you plan to take professional newborn pictures, research photographer options and prices, and make a tentative appointment.

12. If you plan to send birth announcements, pick out the baby announcement design you like, budget for it, and draft your wording – so that when baby is here and you’re sleep deprived and recovering, you already have your card picked out (and you just have to insert the birthday, weight and length).

13. Educate yourself on your company’s policies for maternity leave, meet with HR, fill out any necessary maternity leave paperwork in advance, discuss your plans with your boss, and get as organized as possible (especially for when you are absent).

14. Look up your medical insurance information and make sure you are educated about when you sign up baby for insurance (and the timeframe you have to do so).

15. Fill out any hospital/birthing center paperwork you can, in advance, and send it in.

16. Discuss any questions you have regarding your ideal birth experience with your doctor or midwife, and finalize your ideal birth plan.

17. Talk to your close family and/or friends about how they can best support you during and after you give birth – i.e. have you and your spouse/partner decided if you’d like people at the hospital? Are you up for guests at your house after you get home (to visit the baby)?  Will you need help with meals? Your big kids?

18. Pack your hospital bag.

19. Make (or confirm) any final childcare arrangements for the big kid(s) while you’re giving birth.

20. Stockpile diapers!

21. Breathe!

Any other mamas out there want to chime in?  Any things to do before baby arrives items I missed? Please comment below!

Yummy 4th of July Recipes for Kids

Yummy 4th of July Recipes for Kids

Break out the adorable red, white and blue outfits, sparklers, stars and stripes…because the 4th of July is right around the corner this week!  I love, love celebrating this holiday with my family, and have complied a round-up of fun 4th of July recipes for kids, sure to please even the littlest of eaters (and critics!) at your family BBQ.  Plus, you’ll have fun making these with your tiny chefs!

4th of July Breakfast Toast
Idea and image found on http://www.buzzfeed.com 

  4th of July Breakfast Toast

How cute is this??  A great, pretty healthy way to start off your holiday…and sure to impress your kiddos.

Firecracker Popcorn
Idea and image found on http://thenerdswife.com

Firecracker Popcorn

A yummy, easy, festive snack – yes, please!

4th of July Fruit Kabobs
Idea and image found on http://thefrugalgirls.com

4th-of-July-Fruit-Kabobs-from-TheFrugalGirls.com_

There are SO many creative ways you can make fruit kabobs, but I thought this one was pretty cool. I especially love the addition of the star marshmallows – yum!

Watermelon Pops
Idea and image found on http://catchmyparty.com 

Watermelon Pops

This is seriously the easiest recipe I found.  And you know what?  My kids will probably eat these with more enthusiasm, simply because they look like a popsicles.

4th of July Strawberries
Idea and image found on http://www.cutefoodforkids.com

4th of July Strawberries

Deliciousness. Period. My kids will probably eat 20 of these at a time!

American Flag Veggie Tray
Idea and image found on http://www.livinglocurto.com

American-Flag-Vegetable-Tray

I thought this was a really adorable way to serve your veggies.  And you can pick and choose your vegetables, depending on your family’s preferences (and flag color coordination, of course!).

Fruity Stars and Stripes Flag
Idea and image found on http://www.bettycrocker.com

Fruity Stars and Stripes Flag

My kids will pretty much eat anything with graham crackers.  And this is such a cute way to get them involved and help make 4th of July edible “flags.” Love it!

Wild Berry Frozen Yogurt Sandwiches
Idea and image found on http://www.partytipz.com

Wild Berry Frozen Yogurt Sandwiches

This is a (semi) healthier dessert option to serve your kids and party guests – and it looks delicious!  Frozen berry yogurt with red/white/blue sprinkles, sandwiched between graham crackers. YUM!

Red White and Blue Rice Krispie Treats
Idea and image found on http://mylitter.com

4th-july-rice-krispie-treats-

Again, I have found SO many Rice Krispy treat recipes, and I thought this one looked super fun for the 4th of July. And such a cute (and easy!) treat to make with your kiddos!

MnM Sparklers
Idea and image found on http://ourbestbites.com

Pretzel Sparklers

Not only a delicious dessert to serve, but how fabulous would these look, doubling as centerpieces?  So fun for a family 4th BBQ!

What are your favorite kid-friendly 4th of July recipes?  Please share below!
And happy 4th of July!  Enjoy a wonderful day with your families.

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