Posts by jen:

Galileo Innovation Summer Camp Giveaway!

This post is brought to you by Galileo Innovation summer camps for kids

This time of year something happens in the psyches of moms everywhere.

Once Spring Break is over we know what is coming. We brace ourselves and hold on to our hats and glasses because it is one wild ride to the end of the school year. I am convinced time actually speeds up.

For real.

Given summer will be here in the blink of an eye, the ubiquitous planning and strategizing to get the kids registered for summer camps goes into full effect about now. Are you there yet?

Now I am sure you have your same ‘ole favorite tried-and-true camps you do every summer, which is great. But this summer I urge you to consider sending your kids to a totally NEW, totally INSPIRING, totally EDUCATIONAL (but not boring educational) summer camp. It’s a camp that will inspire and expand their creativity and minds, Galileo Innovation Camps, where kids’ wildest ideas come to life.

For real.

Galileo Innovation Summer Camps are designed for Pre-K through 8th grade kids with the goal to create and nourish a love for innovation. At Galileo, they believe the world needs innovators, and in the imaginations of children is where ideas begin.

You in? Yes?

Then you don’t want to miss out on this opportunity…Galileo is
in Orange County or Carlsbad to one of my readers!!! Details below. Keep on readin’…

Galileo Innovation Camps

Galileo Camps can be found throughout Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and the Bay Area (for any of our readers up north). With over 20+ locations in SoCal, you are sure to find a location near you. For my friends with tiny and tween oranges, the Galileo Camps in Orange County and close-by in Carlsbad can be found in:

Costa Mesa @ Mariners Christian School
Irvine @ Northwood Elementary School
Ladera Ranch @ Oso Grande Elementary School
Newport Beach @ Andersen Elementary School
Carlsbad @ Aviara Oaks Elementary School

All camps officially run 9am – 3p, but extended summer camp care is offered from 8a – 9a and from 3p-6p for those who need it. I know finding quality Orange County summer camps with extended care can be a challenge. Look no further!

What is Galileo All About?

Powerful things happen at Galileo that don’t happen at other camps.

In the midst of having crazy fun, the kids are also learning. Through hands-on exploration and a revolutionary innovation process inspired by Stanford, kids learn how to dream, create, invent, and design giving them self-confidence and an internal boldness to try new things.

They also learn how to fail. Not in a dispiriting way. Rather, they are taught to embrace their mistakes, use them to learn and improve, try again, as a result build the skills it takes to be a risk-taker and problem solver.  You know, the things that take grit! Here’s a peek at what you could expect to find at Galileo this summer…

2018 Galileo Summer Camps Orange County

Camp Galileo (Pre-K – 5th Grade)

For younger innovators ages pre-K through 5th grade, Camp Galileo offers unique immersion experiences in art, science and the outdoors through different weekly themes.

The 2018 summer themes include:

The Incredible Human Body: The Art and Science of Being Human

Space Explorers: Cosmic Art and Astronaut Science

Materials Challenge: Art and Engineering with a Single Supply

Road Trip Adventure: Art and Engineering Along Route 66

Galileo Summer Quest (5th – 8th Grade)

For older innovators entering 5th – 8th grade, Galileo Summer Quest gives campers the opportunity to dive deeper into specific topics by choosing different “majors” for the week. Galileo Summer Quest is offered at the Costa Mesa and Irvine Locations.

Costa Mesa Summer Quest themes include:

Chefology: Supreme Sweets or Breakfast Club

Mystery Room: The Great Escape

Robot Pet

Go-Kart Builders

YouTube Producers

Irvine Summer Quest themes include:

Mystery Room: The Great Escape

Robot Pet

Go-Kart Builders

YouTube Producers

3-D Modeling & Printing

Catapult Builders

Register Now!

Registration is open now! But don’t wait. Spaces at each camp are limited, so if you see a camp that would be perfect for your kiddo, get them signed up today.

Have a friend that would like to go with your child? Make sure to look for any special referral bonuses at your location for bringing along a friend (or two, or three!) And, if you refer a new family, both you and your friend will receive a referral discount of up to $100 (varies by location, check website for details)!!

Camp For All! 

Galileo has a robust financial assistance program, and last year, they awarded over 4800 weeks of specially priced camp. For anyone seeking financial assistance to give their child the opportunity to attend a Galileo camp, visit to learn more. 

Enter to Win a Free Week!

Okay mamas, now we get down to the extra fun part! Galileo is giving away one free week of camp at one of the 4 Orange County locations OR the Carlsbad location. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

5 Favorite Instant Pot Recipes for Beginners

After my last, heavy post on grief, I wondered how I could segue into a light and fluffy post on my five favorite no fail Instant Pot recipes for beginners? From grief to recipes? Really? I pondered this question with my sister to which she replied, “Jen. No matter how deep we are in grief or what kind of day we have had, the kids still need to eat.”

Truer words have never been spoken, and my sister has been right there with me. We could have the worst day, filled with tears, sadness and heaviness but the kids still need dinner. Life goes on, and moms have to take care of business. So we wipe our eyes, and move on. One foot, and one dinner, after another. And my Instant Pot has been a life saver.

Disclosure: Links to the mighty Instant Pot in this post are affiliate links. Which means if you were to click on the link here and buy, I get a very small portion. No cost difference to you. Just need to let you know. 

The Instant Pot: Appliance, Myth or Legend?

My friends were making this appliance seem like the answer to all my dreams. Suddenly they were all professing their love of their Instant Pot like they were infomercial actors. The perfect hard-boiled eggs in 5 minutes! Cook a whole chicken in just 25 minutes! Steel-cut oats cooked to perfection in 4! But wait! There’s more! 😂

My sister told me this appliance would, and I quote, “change my life.” I mean, seriously.  Change my life. I wanted to laugh, but she was serious. I told her, “But, I like my Crock-Pot…” to which she replied, “When you get the Instant Pot you can THROW AWAY your Crock-Pot!”

With an endorsement like that, I didn’t think twice about clicking to buy it when I saw the Instant Pot go on sale on Amazon (and it’s on sale NOW!!!) Get it mamas. It WILL change your life.

When my Instant Pot arrived I was scared. It is intimidating, especially for a cooking-challenged person like me. There are a whole lot of buttons, and scary beeps, and steam, and sounds. Hold me!!!!!! One of the first times (I think) I turned it on right, I just stood there staring at it while it started to come to pressure.

I was just a girl, standing in her kitchen in front of the Instant Pot, hoping everything would be okay.

And it was! Most of the time that is. There are fails. But we have to learn and move on. And once I got the hang of it, and I am getting the hang of it, I have to admit it is pretty darn amazing. I use it 3 – 4 times a week and I LOVE IT!!!

So I wanted to share five recipes that even a newbie like me was able to figure out which were DELICIOUS.

All photos compliments of their respective blogs and I will link to each in the recipes. Enjoy!

Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup

This was one of the first recipes I mastered. Soups are amazing in the IP, because you can sauté and soften your veggies on the Sauté function IN the IP before you add your liquid! Then, this recipe instructs you on how to cook the WHOLE chicken for your soup also in the IP. It’s a one-pot wonder! My kids love CNS (chicken noodle soup) and we love this recipe.

Click here for this Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup recipe

Instant Pot French Dip Sandwiches

I get tired of the same stuff for dinner, so it is fun to mix a warm sandwich into the rotation. This is a great meal for the family because you can prepare the meat and then fix the sandwiches when you get home from running around doing all the things we do every day as moms!

Click here for this Instant Pot French Dip Sandwich Recipe

Instant Pot Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes

You guys. This quite possibly is the BEST. MEATLOAF. EVER! It’s like magic done in the IP. And you cook your potatoes right there underneath your loaf! Juicy and delicious. I subbed ground turkey, omitted the BBQ sauce, and added in some shredded parm like she suggests in the recipe. Didn’t brave the sprouts. It is truly spectacular. Kids don’t like meatloaf? They will like this one. Try it!

Click here for the Instant Pot Meatloaf with Mashed Potatoes recipe

Instant Pot Cheesy Taco Pasta

Cheese. Tacos. Pasta.
Three of life’s greatest foods in one easy to make Instant Pot dinner that will knock your socks off! It’s only calls for 6 ingredients and will be done in 30 minutes. Sure to become one of your weeknight dinner staples!

Click here for this Instant Pot Cheesy Taco Pasta recipe 

Instant Pot Perfect Steamed Broccoli 

 I HAVE to share this method for cooking the best steamed broccoli because broccoli is one of the few veggies my kids like.  I didn’t even KNOW cooking something in the IP for ZERO minutes was a thing! It is. Here’s how to do it…

Click here for the Instant Pot Perfect Steamed Broccoli Recipe

Do you have some favorite IP recipes to share? Ones that are easy for beginners? Please link in the comments below!

CHOC Children’s Mental Health Inpatient Center

CHOC Children’s is a partner of Tiny Oranges, but this is not a sponsored post.

As a proud CHOC Children’s partner, I was invited to tour their brand new Mental Health Inpatient Center before it opens its doors to patients this month. The desperately-needed facility will provide 18 beds to treat children ages 3 – 17 in a mental health crisis and allow them to receive care close to home.

An estimated one in five children has a diagnosable mental illness during childhood. That would be 150,000 children in Orange County alone. But until now, children under 12 that were a danger to themselves, others, or gravely disabled didn’t have any inpatient bed options in O.C.  The children would have to wait in Emergency Rooms until they stabilized enough to be moved to an inpatient bed outside of the county. That, to me is tragic!

This new facility will fill a big hole in the system and undoubtedly will make a big difference in the lives of local children and their families in the middle of mental health emergencies.

CHOC Children’s Inpatient Health Center, which will be a major component of the comprehensive system of mental health care CHOC is creating, was built to provide the highest level of patient safety in a relaxing environment that promotes healing.

All of the 18 patient rooms are private, and there is an option for parents to stay overnight with their children, both of which are unique for the state of California.

Every single detail has been considered with patient safety in mind. For example, the windows are made of shatterproof glass and every fixture is designed to not be a “tie-off” opportunity. You can see an example with one of the doorknobs in the photo collage below.

I can only imagine the peace of mind it would give parents knowing their child was in a safe place to get help during a crisis.

The average length of stay is typically 5 – 7 days and will include mental health screenings and access to care through CHOC’s mental health resources. In most centers, programming is not available on the weekends, but CHOC’s center will provide the full scope of programming seven days a week.

In addition to their medical care, patients will also have access to complementary therapies such as art and music therapy, mindfulness, exercise, nutrition, and two sensory rooms, high and low, for patients requiring sensory therapy.

When a child is discharged, care planning for the future has already been underway, including connections to outpatient therapy, schools, medical care, support groups, parent assistance. The goal is to provide support after a child leaves to reduce the risk of re-admittance.

Early Intervention is Key!

Mental health is just as important as physical health.

In childhood, many troublesome behaviors might be dismissed with the thoughts, “It’s just a phase.” or “He/She will grow out of it.”

However, as parents, we know our children best. We also have the gift of parental gut instinct. If you sense something might be wrong with your child, don’t wait to get seen by a professional.

There are a wide array of mental health services available to help children who are struggling to give them the tools they need to heal.

For more information visit:



Goat Yoga is a Thing. A Real Thing.

I got a press release this week in my email box with the title, “Goat Yoga Experience at Centennial Farm,” and I thought, oh the poor person who sent it out with an obvious typo. GOAT YOGA?!  I started to giggle and opened it to come to find out that goat yoga is a THING. Like a REAL THING.

Did you guys know this??

And since it is a real thing, and brought me a huge giggle and smile, I wanted to share the info with you.

Goat Yoga at OC Fair & Event Center

Two goat yoga sessions offered by Spectrum Yoga in Costa Mesa will be held at Centennial Farm in front of the barn on April 21st, 2018 where adults and (human) kids 9+ accompanied by an adult can experience a traditional yoga class combined with pygmy goats that skip around and climb on class participants.

Again, this is for real.

The classes are limited to 50 participants, $40pp. Tickets are available here.

Free Farm Fun Day to Watch

On this day families can come out for FREE to watch the yoga, take photos and play with the goats, and take a tour of the Centennial Farm.

For more information visit


 All the darkness of the night is no match for a single candle that refuses to die out.

Hello friends. It’s me. Just a little candle that’s been holding on in the wake of the darkness of grief.

I haven’t been writing or sharing regularly, because, when living with grief, it is hard to tap into creativity or really anything in addition to the daily things needed for survival. If that sounds dramatic, it is. But it’s the truth.

What I have learned is the timeline for “feeling better” is fluid. The feelings ebb and flow with periods of light, then darkness, then a little more light. Annnnnddddddd, repeat.

There have been so many times when I thought about sitting down to blog but something stopped me. I felt blocked. I had no energy. I didn’t know what to say. There was this emptiness in me that made it hard to channel any words. I felt like I had nothing to give.

My therapist gave me good advice – just start writing. Write something. Anything.

So here I am, writing something.

Losing My Mom

For anyone happening upon my story for the first time, I lost my mom to pancreatic cancer in 2016 after a 10 month battle from diagnosis to death. My super happy and “normal” life got turned completely upside down in an instant. I will look back at photos, and there is a definite, distinct separation of time. Life before, when everything was okay in the world and life after, when nothing would be the same again.

When my mom got sick, I stopped everything, including blogging regularly, to help her and my dad. I researched about the disease, treatments, clinical trials and attended every doctors appointment.  I would have done anything to save her. When she got sick, nothing else mattered. It’s all I could think about. She was my best friend. I couldn’t lose her. I couldn’t live without her. But then the news came, there was nothing else doctors could do, the cancer had taken over. She was home for 27 days on hospice care before she died and our collective hearts, mine, my sister’s, dad’s, my precious girls’, were broken into a million pieces.

The First Year of Grief

The following year, the first year after she died was a blur. I remember getting through the memorial service, and then each day thereafter was a mix of fuzziness, grit and despair. The pain and anxiety was so bad, my mind had to put an end date on it. I tell myself if I can just get through this first year, I will be better next year. There is no choice, it has to be better, it can’t be worse.

So we power through as a family all the firsts. The first birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, etc. without her and the list goes on and on. I find the anticipation of the event in the days and weeks leading up to it are not quite as painful as the actual day. When you have kids, you can’t spend Christmas in bed sobbing, so we fake it, we make it magical for them. Because that is what my mom would have wanted. We do this, over and over again, until we make it through the first anniversary of her death. We survived.

The Second Year of Grief

Okay, time to “feel better” now. I have lived a year without my mom. I “should” be better this year because I have gone through it before. I know what to expect.

Except it doesn’t quite work that way, at least it hasn’t for me.

It is sort of cruel to think that year two could be worse than the first year, but for me it has been. I didn’t think that would even be possible. But the hole of missing her so much keeps getting deeper.

I am now able to deal with the obvious hard “event days”, because we know how to do it. It’s the surprise ways that the grief sneaks up on me I wasn’t prepared for.

Like looking at a photo I snapped of my girls on their first day of school this year. They looked so pretty and grown up. My heart swelled with love and pride.

It was the “second” first day of school since she died, but this year, looking at that photo, I just started sobbing uncontrollably because I couldn’t share it with my mom. She would have been equally enthusiastic about their cuteness and agree my kids were THE most beautiful kids that ever walked the face of the earth. And I would say, RIGHT?! But I couldn’t.

The fuzziness of the first year is gone, but as the fog lifts, the reality becomes more clear. She really is gone. She’s not coming back. It’s those moments like the above that reinforce that fact over and over. Little things, incidental things. The loss is immense.

Enter a little depression and anger. And loneliness, so much loneliness. It’s hard, so hard, to lose someone who can’t be replaced.

Finding Some Light

About halfway through this second year, I knew I had to get back to therapy. I have always been a huge fan of therapy. I have always gone on and off on in the past, but for some reason, when I needed it the most, I stopped going. Didn’t have the energy to face it. But I decided I need to get back and found a new therapist who has been really good for me. When you are struggling it’s important to realize we don’t do life alone. There are people to turn to for help. In this case, I needed a professional!

There are many, many, many difficult emotions that come along with grief, and they will wait there for you until you are ready to deal with them.  At some point you have to look at them smack in the eye and say, “OK, bring it.” Therapy has given me the space to do this. In facing them, I have started to find healing.

My therapist also happens to practice something called EMDR, which I had never heard of before, and she believed would help me. I didn’t realize how much trauma, anxiety and post-traumatic stress I was holding on inside me. The visions, the snapshots, the memories of those last days, were all there. The EMDR has helped me process them in a way that doesn’t elicit the same panic response it used to.

I am not done, I don’t know if you are ever “done” but I am on the way to days filled with more light than dark. The journey continues.


My therapist has really encouraged me to start writing here again, she must know how healing it will be for me, and I know she is right. But I am also a bit scared because blogging isn’t the same as when I started in 2008! This summer will mark my 10 year anniversary of starting Tiny Oranges.

My baby, Emma, who was 2 at the time is turning 12 and going to Jr. High next year. This summer I will have a 12-year-old and a 9-year-old. I have TWEEN ORANGES. There is so much I want to write about but it’s not the same vision I had here when I started. We don’t go to many parks anymore but, oh my, there a lot to talk about.

Moving Forward

Let me let you in honestly, on what I am thinking, I am just going to blurt it all out. I welcome, encourage, and would run to your house with a latte and hug you if I could, for any and all feedback or thoughts. Here are some ideas I have been pondering for this space…

How about a branch of Tiny Oranges called TWEEN ORANGES? A place for me to talk about the issues parents of tweens are facing today. Would you be interested?

But what about all those mamas with TINY ORANGES? I loved having resources and tips and sharing life when I was in the trenches of having babies and young kids. I feel like I still want this to be a place where mamas can connect. But it’s just not my phase of life anymore. Is anyone out there reading this, someone with littles, who might want to take on writing about life with tiny oranges? Drop me an email, jennifer @ Let’s talk.

I don’t have the answers today, but like my therapist said, just start writing.  The posts to come might feel more like a stream of random consciousness but I just want to get back in the saddle. Will you take the ride with me?

Life is so hard. Life is so beautiful. Life is so unpredictable. I want to share it all.

In the meantime, here are 5 random things I want to share in upcoming blog posts since I am talking about random streams of consciousness, and want to get some ideas out on this paper.

No. 1.  I love my Instant Pot. You might be saying, welcome to the year 2018, Jen. But truly, for anyone that doesn’t have it…TOTAL game changer! I will share my favorite recipes please share yours when I post because I am really obsessed and finding those no fail IP recipes make me happy.

No. 2. You guys. This article on teens and phones. Wow. I am working on a blog follow up with my own letter that suits my 11-year-old in the stage she is at and want to share.

No. 3. Books. I love to read. Love, love, love to read. But I need page turners, books that grab you from the get to. Recently discovered Holly Seddon.  I am a fan. Want to share more page turners. Here’s a list of 15 of my all time faves. Want to do a new updated list.

No. 4. OC Locals. Have you been to the old lighthouse / lookout tower thing in Laguna? Lived here my whole life and just discovered with the family this weekend. Will share deets. Super cool. 

No. 5. Gotta EARN it sometimes! My daughter begged me to go to a $675 gymnastics camp this summer, of which the price seemed exorbitant – just learned how to spell that word – and we said, OK, if you want to go that badly, dad and I will pay for half, but you have to find a way to make money so you can pay for half as well. She has made over $240 selling something in just over a month! Super cool, will share.

How about we start there? Love you guys. Until next time…



Show Mobile Version