Posts by christy:

What’s in a name?


Choosing a baby name is one of the most important decisions you will make for your new little one. Baby names are a huge deal, for example, millions waited to hear what the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would name their new baby girl (no pressure!) – and I for one, absolutely love the name they picked…Charlotte Elizabeth Diana.  Certainly fit for a princess!

Whats-In-a-Name Which leads me to my next question – what’s in a name? How do you choose a baby name?  There are so many decisions that go into picking a moniker for your child, and sometimes it can be a bit more complicated than just picking up a baby name book.

What if you and your partner can’t agree?  Are there family names to take into consideration?  Do you like all variations of the nicknames?  Do you tell people the name you’ve chosen before the baby is born…or after?  Wow!  Lots to think about, right??

Agreeing on a baby name

Let’s tackle the first, and perhaps most obvious, challenge – both you and your partner should love (at least like?) the name.  Oh boy (or girl)!

I’ve had my baby names picked out since I was a kid – yes, seriously. Especially my girl name – Elizabeth. My mom loves to tell that story that I named every doll I ever owned “Elizabeth” my whole childhood.  And when my husband and I got married, he knew that if we ever had a girl, it would be our Elizabeth (Thankfully he loved the name too, and it happened to be a family name on his side.  Win-win!).

Here’s the deal we made.

I picked the first name of our first child, and he picked the middle name.  When our second baby came, he picked the first name and I picked the middle.  We each had “veto” power if the other one came up with a name that we absolutely could not live with (and we had to promise to use our veto power sparingly).  That system worked well for us.  We each had a say, we each got to pick a name that we loved.  And thankfully, we each liked the way the two names sounded together.

How did you (or how are you) and your partner handling the name game?  The combinations are endless…and so are the ways to choose!

Questions to ask when considering baby names: 

– Do you gravitate toward a traditional name or a more unique name?  If you pick a traditional name, do you want a unique spelling?

– Is there a family name…or family naming traditions…that need to be taken into consideration?  Talk to your partner and see what the expectation is.

– Think about all variations of the full name and nickname(s).  Do you like them all?

– Who gets final say?  Is it a joint decision? Will you split it up like we did? Discuss (in advance!) what will happen if one of you really dislikes a name that the other one loves.  What will be the deciding factor?

– Will you include other people in your decision…or is this something you will be keeping private?

Naming before the baby is born…or after? 

Ooohhh, this is a big topic among my friends. People tend to feel pretty strongly about it – do you wait to see what the baby “looks like?” Or do you settle on the name before the baby is born?

For us, we have always picked the full name before the baby is born.

I love being able to bond with the baby and call him/her by name.  Now that I have big kids with this pregnancy, they love already knowing her name.  It’s not just a “baby,” it’s helping them to recognize her as her own little person.  They read to her, sing to her, have conversations with her…it really has helped our whole family connect with her.

So since we have decided, I would love to share with you…

Our new little princess will be Miss Emma Jean!

Since we’ve been talking about a third child for a really long time, we’ve had another boy and girl name picked out for a really long time.  Both my husband and I love the name Emma (and how well it goes with our current kid names), and chose Jean, for my beautiful Grandma Jean, whom I was very close to (and who passed last year).

We are thrilled with her name, and reference “Emma” instead of “baby” pretty much all the time.  To us, she is Emma, even in utero.

I also have friends who swear by choosing the name once they are holding baby in their arms. They have their top two or three names, and love to see what the baby looks like.  I say, to each their own – as long as you’re having fun and bonding, go for it!

To tell or not to tell

I’ve seen a growing trend lately that friends and family pick the name before the birth, but choose not to share until baby is born.

Usually for one of two reasons – 1) It makes for a fun surprise, especially if people already know the gender before the baby is born. 2) People do not want unsolicited opinions about what they are choosing to name their baby.

I see both points.  I’ve just never been able to keep it to myself! It is rather interesting, though, that people feel compelled to give their opinion on the name you’ve chosen…whether you ask or not.  I guess it’s pretty much like anything else in pregnancy – people think it’s fair game to weigh in.  Most of the time, I’ve had people rave over the names I’ve chosen. And then I’ve had a few that say things like, “Oh. Well, I guess it will have to grow on me.”

Take this with a grain of salt, mamas. Being pregnant, you’re used to unsolicited advice by now (unfortunately).  If you choose to share your name in advance, say it proud, and shrug off any rude or unwanted comments.  It’s your precious baby, and your precious name!

Baby naming websites and apps

There are literally hundreds of sites that can help you research and choose the perfect baby name for your little one, and here are just a handful to get you started.  I know (believe me, I know), it can be  overwhelming.  Browse through books or sites during your downtime, and have fun with it!

And, of course, there are apps for baby names, too!  Here’s a great article on Mashable that lists top baby name apps to help get you started:  “Baby Name Blues? 10 Apps to Help You Choose!”

Or check out this fun article found on that can help you find the best baby naming app for you:  “7 Apps to Help You Pick Baby Names.”

How did you pick your baby’s name?  Any great resources or tips to share?  Any drama or funny stories?  We’d love to hear from you below!

Local Love: Welcome to Once Upon a Storybook


Recently, I was introduced to an adorable children’s bookstore in Tustin called Once Upon a Storybook. I love finding fun new spots to take my kiddos, especially when it nurtures reading and learning!

This bookstore is especially designed for little ones, offering cozy nooks to read, a train table area (which will be immediately approved by my son!), fun artwork displayed around, and shelves and shelves of children’s books.  Love.

Story times

Once Upon a Storybook offers several different story time options.

Preschool story times are on Tuesdays and Friday mornings at 11 a.m., aimed at children 2-5 years old. Singing songs and participating in a story-related craft or “experiment” can be expected!

On Thursdays, they offer “Milk and Cookies Story Time” at 7 p.m., which is a great way for littles to relax right before bedtime.

“New Chapters Story Time” is on the second Saturday of each month at 2 p.m., lead by Miss Susie the Storylady. Perfect for ages 8-12, Miss Susie reads a couple of chapters from at least two books to give you an idea of fun new books for kids to read.

Events and summer camps

There always seems to be a fun event scheduled at Once Upon a Storybook, whether it be a pajama book party, an author signing, or even a time to practice reading to a pup (yep, you read that correctly!) – take a peek at their upcoming May calendar.   Remember that some events do require reservations in advance.

For example, their “Paws & Pals” event is scheduled for May 15th from 3-5 p.m., and lets kiddos practice reading to dogs for about 15 minutes.  How cool is that??  This one definitely requires reservations!

In addition to their monthly activities and events, Once Upon a Storybook also offers summer camps for little (and big!) readers. You can check out camp themes, pricing and dates here.

Finally, have you ever thought about hosting a birthday party at a specialty bookstore? Or even a fundraiser, baby shower, or Boy/Girl Scout event? Check out their craft and party room!  They have several party packages available, depending on your needs.

Check them out!

Once Upon a Storybook

17300 East 17th Street, #C
Tustin CA 92780

Phone:  714-669-4377

Hours:  M-Fri 10-7; Sat 11-6; Sun 12:30-5

I can’t wait to take my kids here, especially with summer fast-approaching!

Top 10 Tips for Visiting Disneyland with Big Kids

A few years ago, I wrote a blog about my Top 10 Tips for Visiting Disneyland with Toddlers…and today, I’m going to share my top 10 tips for visiting Disneyland with big kids!

Disneyland Tips

Photo credit: Disneyland

1. Set a budget

Disneyland is SO fun! And can be SO pricey.  I find it’s easier to have a quick conversation with your spouse (and even kids, if they are old enough to participate) about what’s important to you all during your trip.

For example, how many meals will you be eating there?  Do you want to bring snacks or buy snacks?  Will the kids be getting souvenirs?  Face painting?  By establishing these simple budget parameters before the trip, everyone can be on the same page.

2. Pack a family backpack

Just because your “littles” are now “bigs,” doesn’t mean you still won’t need a few things for the day.  The night before (to save time and sanity), I pack the following:

– Water bottles for each family member (that can be refilled at water fountains, throughout the day).

– Sunscreen (hats too, if it’s a hot/sunny day)

– A change of clothes for the kids, if you plan to go on any water rides.

– Hoodies for the kids (if you plan to stay into the evening).

– Baby wipes and hand sanitizer.

– Snacks, snacks, snacks.  They more you bring, the more you save.  And the more you can avoid potentially cranky kids.

– Band aids and or any medications you might need

– A phone charger

– Your camera (if separate from your phone)

– A small wallet/wristlet with your essentials (instead of your jumbo wallet), that can fit in your backpack OR in your pocket (so much easier than carrying a purse).

3. Visit the locker room

And, if you don’t want to lug the backpack around all day, you can easily store it in a locker, right off of Main Street.  For between $7-$15/day (depending on the size of the locker), you can have your belongings safe and sound, without having to take your stuff with you on every ride.  Now that the kids are big, you aren’t obligated to carry around a backpack or diaper bag all day – woo hoo!

A bonus?  There are outlets to charge your cell phone in the locker room.  I learned this on my last trip when my phone died.  Always good to know where the outlets are!

4. Big kids, big rides, big expectations

I find that with my big kids, they have big dreams of riding the BIG kid rides.  Which is so fantastic since my husband and I love them, too!  However, these popular rides tend to also be the busiest rides.  Talk to your kiddos about their top two or three rides that are a MUST.  This will help manage expectations…and any other rides you can squeeze in are a plus!

Disneyland Family Picture 2015

5. Develop your FastPass plan

Speaking of, let’s talk about FastPasses again.  Here’s a quick reminder of how they work…

This is a free service you can take advantage of at the Disney theme parks.  This is a way to “save” your place in line at some of the most popular attractions, cutting wait time to a minimum.  Score!

You can only FastPass one ride at a time per Disneyland ticket (kiosks can be found by the ride, if it’s available), and they give you an hour time frame to come back. You just go to the FastPass line, hand them your FastPass ticket, and usually only have to wait 5-10 minutes for the ride.

FastPass what you think is going to be the most popular ride first. 
Go to the next ride on your list and wait in line.
  Usually, by the time you’re done with that ride, your FastPass will be ready.
  Go to your FastPass ride and enjoy!  
Get your next FastPass immediately after, and then repeat the cycle.  

Per this Disneyland FastPass site, here is what you can FastPass in the Disneyland Park:

– Autopia
– Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
– Fantasmic!
– Indiana Jones Adventure
– Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin
– Space Mountain
– Splash Mountain
– Star Tours – The Adventures Continue
– Storytelling at Royal Theatre

6. Be in the know with Disney apps

Apps can make life so much easier, right?!  Take advantage of some cool Disney apps that can help you during your visit to the park.  My husband’s favorite is MouseWait, designed for iOS.  It’s a real-time app that tells you all about popular ride wait times and park information.  There are so many apps out there that can be a great resource – I suggest surfing around before go, and find one that works best for you and your phone.

7. Make lunch reservations

The last two times we visited Disneyland, we ended up making lunch reservations, per my brother-in-law and mother-in-law’s suggestion. O.M.G.  Why didn’t I think of this before??  Unless you plan to grab a quick burger or hot dog (and if so, I suggest doing this at off-times to avoid long lines and crowds), then go to this site and peruse the restaurant options.  Then, make reservations for your family.

Here’s my two cents.  I’m a mama on a budget, and typically pick the less expensive option for food.  However, I’ve found that some of these sit-down restaurants aren’t that much more expensive than the “quick burger” places.  The quality of food is much better, you get to sit down and actually relax, and with your reservation secured, you don’t have to wait in long lines with a hungry family.  Win-win-win!  My favorite place right now is Carnation Cafe.

8. Need a break?  Visit Innovations.

Sometimes, you just need a break.  From the crowds, from the lines, from the chaos.  We’ve found that Innovations in Tomorrowland is the perfect place.  My kids love all of the fun, cool technology to play with, including watching the awesome robot, ASIMO, the humanoid robot. The kids spent at least an hour at Innovations during their last Disneyland visit, giving everyone the perfect break to breathe and chill out for a little while.

9. Make a meeting place

When kids get a little older, they want more freedom, right??  If you choose to let your kiddos go off on their own for a little bit (side note – my kids are still way too young to do this, even though they consider themselves”big” kids)…or even if you don’t, and you accidentally get separated in the crowds, it is absolutely imperative that you make a meeting place with your kids.

Now that they are “big” kids, they should understand how important it is for their own safety.  Pick a central place, and have that be “your spot” every single time you are at the park.  So there is no uncertainty, no confusion.

I also suggest you be specific – “in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle” still may not be much help in large crowds.  For example, I would say in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, right next to the churro cart to the right of the castle.  Or in front of the Walt Disney statue in the little garden area in front of the castle.  Or, better yet, if you ARE taking advantage of the locker room, meet in front of your family locker.

10. Yes, there is now a Starbucks. IN the park!

Parents, it’s true!  There is now a Starbucks on Main Street where you can get your Venti caffeine fix.  Just be prepared to wade through the long zig zag lines…it is a BUSY place (as you can probably imagine!).  I usually leave the kids with my husband in a ride line, and let them enjoy a ride that I’m not interested in, while I make the coffee run.

Next, stay tuned for an upcoming blog where I’ll talk about my top tips for visiting Disney California Adventure with big kids!  My newest favorite…Anna & Elsa’s Royal Welcome…perfect for anyone who loves Frozen!

Do you have any great Disneyland tips to share?  Please comment below!

Best Mother’s Day Brunches in Orange County


Today I’d like to talk about where to go for the best Mother’s Day brunches in Orange County.  With our special day coming up on Sunday, May 10th, it’s time to start dropping hints and get those reservations made. So bookmark this post, send your husband the link, and let your family know that you’re ready to celebrate with mimosas, omelet bars, and fresh fruit!

Best Mother’s Day Brunches in Orange County 

And speaking of bookmarking a link, check out my Mother’s Day blog from last year – all about what mamas really want for Mom’s Day!

Here are some of my favorite brunch places:

El Torito Dana Point – This is a delicious, causal buffet in a kid-friendly environment, and sports a beautiful view of the Dana Point Harbor.
Reservations – (949) 496-6311

Laguna Beach Driftwood Kitchen – You will feel like you are eating on.the.beach here – the views here are incredible. And the food is amazing.  This is one of my favorite spots.
Reservations – (949) 715-7700

Rusty Pelican – I actually had my bridesmaids’ luncheon here many moons ago, and have always come back for special occasions.  This restaurant sits on the Newport Harbor (right off of PCH), and is so beautiful and relaxing. Love it.
Reservations – (949) 642-3431

Salt Creek Grille (Dana Point) – This is a great spot to bring the family – yummy food, relaxed dining room, and right off of PCH (on the east side).
Reservations – (949) 661-7799

Tustin Ranch Golf Club – I’m a little biased because this is where I had my wedding reception (again, many moons ago!), but we love the brunch here – absolutely delicious with a gorgeous golf course view.
Reservations – (714) 734-2111

Here are some places I’ve heard wonderful things about:

Back Bay Bistro (at Newport Dunes) – People tell me that their waterfront patio is beautiful, and the food is wonderful. Check and check!
Reservations – (949) 729-1144

Brio Tuscan Grille (at the Irvine Spectrum) – I’ve heard this is a great place to brunch and relax – looking forward to trying it soon.
Reservations – (949) 341-0380

Duke’s Huntington Beach (right on Huntington Beach) – Anything right on the beach gets an “A” in my book.  Plus, I hear the food is amazing.
Reservations – (714) 374-6446

Paul Martin’s American Grill (at the Irvine Spectrum)- My friends tell me this is a great casual place with good food and reasonable brunch prices.  Sounds good to me.
Reservations – (949) 453-1144

Splashes at Surf & Sand Resort (in Laguna Beach)- I’ve heard this is just a fabulous restaurant with an amazing ocean view and delicious food.  Can’t wait to try it!
Reservations – (877) 741-5908

Here are some of the top picks from web searches:

Still looking for some inspiration? Take a peek at these websites that have compiled some great brunch spots in Orange County.

– From Gayot:  2015 Top 10 Mother’s Day Brunch Restaurants in Orange County (CA) Area

– From  Mother’s Day Weekend – Things to Do/Brunch

– From Opentable – Mother’s Day Brunch, Lunch and Dinner Specials

– From – Orange County Brunch Guide

– From –  Find The Best Places To Brunch In Orange County

Don’t forget to call to make reservations asap…and also ask if there is a set menu or special available brunch times (since it is a holiday).  I wish you all a fabulous early Mother’s Day, and hope you get to enjoy your families and do what you love!

Please comment below with your choice for the best brunch places in OC!

Photo credit: FlickrCopyright All rights reserved by emilygang

It’s a…

The Pregnancy Diaries…

Here it is, my BIG gender reveal! I know, I know. We weren’t going to find out. Really, we weren’t, but my Type A personality just couldn’t stand it. We just went in for our 21-week ultrasound and found out that we are having a… 


…girl! A little girl, another little princess, a sweet, delicate bundle of little girl joy. Our whole family is thrilled, and my husband and I cannot stop smiling and cooing over the fact that we are expecting a little “pink” one.

And this pint-sized angel was bouncing around happily, stretching her legs completely out and doing leg presses while on the ultrasound screen.  So far, she looks very healthy, praise God, and we were just mesmerized by her tiny little perfectly formed body, her powerful kicks and pokes, and her long stretches.

To be honest, we almost didn’t find out what we were having (and by almost, I mean we were 99.9999% sure we were on “team green”).  Team green – another new pregnancy term I learned this time around…meaning that the parents do not want to find out what they are having.

Actually, my hubby was 100% on team green, until a few days prior to the ultrasound.  What changed his mind?  Well, funny story…

My husband did not want to find out the baby’s sex with either of our big kids.

And each time, being the sweet, loving (and smart!) man that he is, he agreed to find out what we were having. And of course, it ended up being one girl and one boy.  So as the story goes (and I still maintain to this day that I don’t quite remember the exact moment I made this commitment), he made me promise that if we ever had a third child, we’d wait until the delivery room.

And I apparently promised. It was right after I had our son (I mean, right after), so I was pretty sure we were DONE.  I wasn’t planning on having a third, so sure, why not?!  And I promised.  And he promised I could name the kiddo (which was huge!).

Fast forward almost 5 years later, and that promise was still lingering.  Well not lingering, so much as a bright flashing neon light over this pregnancy.  I promised.  And I keep my promises.  But boy, was it bugging me.   You know how some people love surprises? You know how some people are motivated by the element of surprise?  I am not one of those people.

So my hubby, my family, and my friends had lots of fun “lovingly” teasing me over the course of the first trimester, and into my second.  And people loved, loved guessing what it was going to be – by the way I was carrying, to how big I am (Yes, I am baby huge this time.  No, it is not twins, I promise.  Yes, we had them triple check.), to pretty much every pregnancy symptom I was having.

I was told girl, boy, twins…you name it.

And I wanted a boy.  And I wanted a girl.  Truly, I didn’t care.  With each pregnancy, my husband and I are thrilled to be parents and to have a baby – the sex of the baby really doesn’t matter to us.  I just love to know.  So I can plan and nest and organize and prepare.  I know I’m crazy, but this actually relaxes me (yes, I know, I know – I’m nuts).  And, he’s always wanted that special, magical moment in the delivery room of , “It’s a ________!”

It became clearer and clearer that this Type-A mama was not getting out of her promise. I would wander around the Target baby section and just sniff over the ONE somewhat gender neutral onsie they seemed to have in stock. And my mid-point ultrasound was looming, getting closer, and starting to stress me out.

See, my hubs is waaaayyyy more patient and chill than I am (and thank God for that!).  So in his mind, this was totally not a big deal.  I believe he told me…grab a couple of white onesies, buy two sets of wall decals (one boy, one girl), drag all the newborn girl and boy stuff (we saved) upstairs to the baby’s room, and then wait.

Once the baby was born, slap on the few wall decals I want, wash a load of baby clothes, and put on the sheets I wanted.  Done, done and done.  What was the big deal?

To fellow Type-B’ers, this probably sounds very reasonable.  To my fellow Type-A’ers, can you back me up here?!?!  Our sweet little one is due one week before my son starts kindergarten and my daughter starts 2nd grade.  Not exactly the time I want to be nesting and decorating and “preparing” for baby – with the chaos of school, carpools, homework, activities, and little (to no) sleep.

So I asked my husband a very simple question – why was it so important for him to wait?

Did he really, really want to wait for a specific reason?  Or was it just fun to tease me…and fun to wait and see for the heck of it?  Did he want 40 people in the hospital waiting room for that Hollywood moment of “It’s a _____!!!!” (His answer was no).  Did he want a big gender reveal party (nope).  Because if it was that important to him, of course I would keep my promise.

And it was important to him for several very good reasons.  I’ll spare you the details of our 4 or 5 (or 10!) discussions about it.  But bottom line, he told me that as important as it was for him to be surprised, it wasn’t as important to him as it was important to me to find out.  

He wasn’t “giving in” for any other reason other than  he knew this pregnancy has been very difficult for me (it really has), and that he knew that finding out would bring me a lot of enjoyment and a lot of fulfillment – nesting and planning and preparing and such (very important to us Type-A’ers).

He is such a sweet man, truly he is.  And I so appreciate him, and him being extra supportive, especially when I was the one breaking our pact.

In my humble Type-A opinion, you can either be surprised at 20 weeks, or be surprised at 40 weeks.  Either is a surprise, and either will bring you joy, wonder and excitement.  My hubby and I just had different visions of when we wanted to be surprised.

And yes, both of our kids wanted to know asap.  And yes, both were thrilled.  Because both wanted a baby sister (even my little man – he was adamant about wanting a little sis to watch over and protect).  So everyone was as happy as could be.  And my husband and I were beyond thrilled that the baby was healthy.

So I’m curious – who else out there in our readership has been (or is!) “team green?”  Did you keep your commitment to wait?  Or did the suspense get to you???  Did both you and your partner want to wait, or was it a split household? Any Type-Aer’s out there like me who wanted to find out more than anything???

That’s all for now from my “Pregnancy Diaries.”  As always, thank you so much for your support and sweet comments – they make my day!!!

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