Summer Fun – Farmer’s Markets

One of my favorite activities with the kiddo in the summer is to shop at a local farmer’s market.  We are so lucky to be surrounded by them here in OC!

Tuesdays are a particular favorite of mine.  I like to head to the market at Irvine Historical Park.  It’s on Irvine Blvd. and Myford Road (on the back side of the Tustin Marketplace).  It’s a very small market, which makes it very manageable to walk through.  It also tends to not be very crowded, which is more pleasant for strolling.  Initially, the small number of vendors may seem underwhelming, particularly if you’re used to the Saturday Irvine market over near UCI.  And if you’re looking for handcrafted goods, this is not your market.  But if you’re looking for a variety of fresh foods and produce, there is plenty of variety.  And it’s just the right size for kids – they don’t have to worry about which vendor to choose strawberries from….there’s only one!

I bring along an ice chest with some ice packs so I can stow away our purchases in the car for awhile, because after we stroll the market there, we like to head over to the Katie Wheeler library (right across from the market).  It’s an old restored house, full of charm, and the librarians and staff are extremely friendly and helpful.  One helpful hint – this library is part of the OC Public Library system, so if you check out books here, you can return them to any other OC Public Library.

Once we’ve checked out a few books, we head outside to the big lawn in front of the library.  I spread out a large blanket, we break open some of our fresh fruit from the farmer’s market, or sometimes a picnic lunch, if I’ve come really prepared, and we enjoy some reading and dining al fresco.  There’s plenty of shade under the large trees to keep you comfortable, too.

Now doesn’t that sound like a nice way to spend a summer day?

For a list of all farmer’s markets around Orange County, click HERE.


Katie Wheeler Library


Why Is My Betta Fish Swimming Sideways?

Well, I may have hit rock bottom – I’ve been reduced to monitoring the pooping activity of our fish.  Ah yes, glamorous life I lead over here.

I woke up this morning to find our betta fish Dorothy lying sideways in his (yes, “his”) tank.  My first thought was, oh dear, it looks like there’s a fishy funeral in our near future.  But as I neared the tank, lo and behold!   Dorothy started swimming.  On his side.  It was so sad looking, and just not right.  So I immediately did what any good mom does – I googled.

And what did I find, you ask?  Because I know you are truly captivated by this fascinating story at this point.

Apparently, bettas frequently suffer from constipation, which makes them swim sideways.  And in particular, older bettas (ours is about 3 or 4 at this point) suffer from this ailment even more often.  I kid you not – the family fish, who is now graying around the mouth as he ages, is lying on his side trying to right himself because he is full of crap.  Literally.  And it is my job to care for the elder member of our household now.

And what is the solution for said ailment?  I found 3 options.

Option #1 involved feeding him some thawed out frozen peas to help get a little fiber in his diet.  Go ahead and laugh, but Real OC Daughter and I busted out those peas and started thawing and peeling them!  And what happened when we dropped them in his tank?  Nothing.  He wanted nothing to do with that green matter sinking to the bottom of his home.  Total fail.

Option #2 was a bath of epsom salts.  I don’t keep epsom salts on hand (come on, I’m well-prepared for most emergencies, but epsom salts?!?). And I wasn’t about to run out at 6:30 am to go buy them, so we tabled this idea.

Option #3 was to change his tank water, put him in his little cup he came home in for awhile, and monitor his poop.  Yup, that’s right.  I’m now at a point in my life where I’m checking to see if my fish is pooping.

And here’s the strangest part – by 11 am, there was a decent sized fish turd floating around in his little cup and I actually got excited.  True, utter enthusiasm.  I’ve really lost it now for sure – getting excited over fish crap?!?  When did my life become this mundane?

But for all my initial excitement, he was still swimming sideways.  And I’ll admit, I was worried that little guy wasn’t going to make it.

So, Daughter and I returned home from a girl scout field trip this evening around 6 pm.  And what do you think the first thing we both did was? You guessed it – we checked on Dorothy.

And there he was, swimming completely upright again.

My daughter’s face lit up like it was Christmas morning.  She was thrilled to see the little guy back to his old self.  And then I realized why I cared so much about fish poop.  And it’s really not mundane at all.  It’s because I love my daughter, and I want to protect her from hurt, sadness, and loss whenever I can.  I know I won’t always be able to, but today I did.  And as I look in on her sleeping soundly, I want to do a little victory dance. For the peace in her heart, the smile on her face, and the sweet reminder that life, in every form, is precious.


This Weekend in OC 4/21 – 4/22

Happy Friday!  The weather is warm and the weekend is here, which means time to get out and enjoy!  Here are a few fun things to go check out this weekend:

Saturday, April 21st:

Walk to End Alzheimer’s – at the District in Tustin. Registration opens at 7:30 am, and festivities continue until noon.  Participate in a 2 or 4-mile walk, or just go enjoy the booths, food and entertainment.

Volunteer at a local OC Park – Aliso & Woods Canyon Park needs your help from 8 – 11 am, or go volunteer at Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, also from 8-11 am.  You can also be a “weed warrior” at Thomas Riley Park in Coto de Caza from 9 – 11 am.

Learn all about reptiles at the Herpetology Walk and Talk in Caspers Wilderness Park from 9 – 11 am.

Learn how to grow tomatoes and peppers at a garden workshop at The Great Park in Irvine from 10 – 11 am.

Aliso Viejo Library – Read with Annie, a retired Greyhound.  For kids ages 5 and up, 1-3 pm

Enjoy a campfire at Caspers Wilderness Park or at O’Neill Regional Park, both from 8-9 pm.

Sunday, April 22:

Enjoy a guided nature hike in Caspers Wilderness Park from 8 – 9 am.

Learn how to play SNAG Golf at Family Sports Day at the Great Park from 10 am  - 2 pm.

Celebrate Earth Day at the Newport Upper Bay Nature Preserve.  Come in from 10 – 4 for crafts, food, entertainment, and more!

Enjoy Family Sun Day Fun Day at Laguna Coast Wilderness Park from 2:30 – 4:30.  Includes a guided 1-hour hike and nature activities.

Or go check out the beautiful blooms at the Carlsbad Flower Fields.  Antique tractor rides, rose gardens, orchid greenhouse, Santa’s playground, gem mining, a sweet pea maze, and more!  Fun for the entire family.

Visit a local Farmer’s Market for some fresh spring produce.

Hope you and your families have a beautiful weekend!


Fun Family Getaway – LegoLand Plum District Deal!

I’m always up for a good deal, and especially when it’s a fun getaway for the family.  I wanted to make sure I share this one with all the Real OC families out there!

Plum District has a great LegoLand deal going on right now that’s perfect for a weekend away.  This deal:

Plum Steal: $359-$495 for Two LEGOLAND® California Two-Day Hopper Passes + Two Nights at The Grand Pacific Palisades Resort – $599-$815 Value


- Two 2-day Park Hopper tickets to LegoLand (includes access to LegoLand California, the LegoLand Water Park, and the Lego Aquarium)


- Two nights in your choice of a coastal view Deluxe room ($359) or a one-bedroom villa suite ($495) at the Grand Pacific Palisades Hotel

Family Pool

The hotel offers a private entrance to the park so you can just walk right in, beautiful views, and family-friendly accommodations.  There’s a pool, Karl Strauss Restaurant, and a spa in case Mom needs a little TLC.  And the one-bedroom villa suites include a kitchen, which makes breakfast and snack prep super easy!

Make sure to read all the fine print on this one, as there are blackout dates, and the deal expires 12/31/12.

Disclosure:  Real OC Mom is a Plum District affiliate.


Real Tip Tuesday – The Fitted Sheet

Oh, that fitted sheet!  Tormentor, nemesis, laughing in my face as I wrestle you onto the bed.

Ever wonder if there’s an easier way?

Well, there’s a simple way to tell which corner goes where, right from the get-go!

Every fitted sheet should have a tag sewn into one of the corners.  That tag belongs on the bottom, left corner, if you’re laying in the bed.

Once you know where that tag goes, then it fits right on!  Now if I could just figure out how to neatly fold it…


20 Minute Meal – BBQ Salmon and Veggies

It’s the start of yet another week!  Which means it’s time for me to think about what the fam will be eating for dinner this week.  If I plan ahead, it keeps me from having to serve cereal for dinner, or run and grab takeout at the last minute.  We eat healthier, and less expensively.

I try to eat meatless at least one night a week, usually on Mondays.  I find that fish is great for Monday nights, too, since I can purchase it on Sunday and it’s still very fresh for Monday night’s dinner.  Here’s one of my favorite Monday night dinners - BBQ salmon and sauteed greens.  It takes about 20 minutes, is really healthy, and is super easy to clean up.  A winner all around!

Ingredients:  1 pound salmon, cut into 4 even pieces (or smaller pieces for the kiddos)

BBQ sauce – I like to find one that doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup in it –   here’s a list

4 Green onions

1 bunch rainbow chard (sautees better than spinach because it doesn’t get as “wilty” or “slimy”)

1 carton sugar snap peas

Olive oil

Salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 500 degrees

Line a baking sheet with foil

Place salmon on baking sheet, season with pepper.  Brush each piece evenly with BBQ sauce.

Chop green onions and chard and cut peas in half

Place salmon in oven for 8-10 minutes, or until thoroughly cooked through

While salmon is cooking, heat olive oil in large sautee pan

Add all veggies and sautee about 5-6 minutes, or until just tender

Place a scoop of veggies on plate and top with salmon



This Weekend in OC – 3/23/12

Boy, am I ever ready for the weekend!!!  I’ve got some fun things planned – dinner with good friends, Sunday brunch, yoga for myself.  I’m putting off seeing The Hunger Games until Tuesday night hoping I won’t end up in the front row, or in line for hours.  I’ll keep you posted on that, though!

So in the meantime, I’m looking for some other fun activities happening locally to enjoy with my family.  Here are a few things I found going on around the OC:

All weekend long you can enjoy the Easter Eggstravaganza at Irvine Regional Park.  This is the big park up in Orange (at the very North end of Jamboree), where they have the fun train.  The Easter festivities are in full bloom every day from 10 am until 5 pm (now through April 7th). There’s an egg hunt for kids ages 2 – 12 beginning every day at 10 am.  There’s also a bounce house, hay ride, cookie decorating, carnival games and more!  Plus, you can meet and have your photo taken with the bunny himself.  For all the details, click HERE


For those with younger kids not in school, or any homeschoolers, this looks pretty interesting -

Nature’s Adeventures with Ranger Lynn – Nature’s Paintbrush

10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Join Ranger Lynn for an awesome experience that will get you outside and excited about nature! This is a new program, check it out! Space is limited and pre-registration is required. Please phone (949) 923-2275 or email to register.

Event Fee: $5 per student
Parking Fee: Free
Age: 2 to 8 years

Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve
2301 University Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660
(949)923-2290 or (949)923-2295


Do you have a kid who’s really into snakes?  Then you might want to check this out!

Under the Sycamores – Rattlesnake!

2:00 pm to 4:00 pm

Help us kick off a new educational series, “Under the Sycamores” at Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park. See live Rattlesnakes with snake researcher Steve Bledsoe of SW Field Herping Associates ( Learn to identify Rattlesnakes, what to do when encountered, and have your favorite snake questions answered. Also see a live Gopher Snake, Rosy Boa and California Kingsnakes. Reservations required. Sign up online:
Parking Fee: $3.00

Aliso And Wood Canyons Wilderness Park
28373 Alicia Parkway
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677

Special Instructions: Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, Ranger Headquarters, (Gate 1) located at 28373 Alicia Pkwy., Laguna Niguel (from southbound Aliso Creek Rd., turn right on Alicia Pkwy., first right on Awma Rd., left into parking lot).

Or maybe your children are more into trucks?  There’s a community safety expo happening from 9 am until 2 pm at the Great Park in Irvine. Come visit with the police and fire departments – there will be lots of vehicles there to look at!  Plus a K-9 demonstration, crafts, scavenger hunt, and all sorts of safety information.  For more details, click HERE

Maybe you’re feeling like your family needs a little “centering”?  There’s lots happening this weekend at the Center for Living Peace in Irvine!  On Saturday, from 10 – 12, your kids can make cards for a “card quilt” being assembled for Olive Crest Kids home.  They are making a large quilt of cards with messages of hope and encouragement.  Then at 12:30, your kiddos can join in on the Yoga for Kids class for ages 3 – 7.  If your kids are a little older, there’s a class for 6-12 year-olds at 2:00.  Or if meditation is your thing, check out the all ages meditation on Sunday at 9 am. (They also have the yoga classes for kids on Sunday at the same times).  And one of the great things about this location is that it’s in the same center where they have the farmers’ market on Saturday.  Lots of yummy produce and beautiful handmade goods!  For more information on the Center for Living Peace or to register for a class, click Here.

If you have an animal lover in your family, consider a visit to Centennial Farm at the Costa Mesa fairgrounds.  They are open to the public Saturdays and Sundays from 9 am until 4 pm.  And it’s completely free!

Or perhaps you just want to be lazy this weekend – lounge around in jammies and enjoy a yummy breakfast together.  How about these 10 easy, kid-approved pancake recipes?

Here’s hoping you and your family have an enjoyable weekend together, whatever you’re doing!


My Rough Week

It’s been kind of a rough week for me.  You know what I’m talking about – the kind of week where Friday just can’t get here soon enough?  Yes, one of those for sure!

I’ll start by saying that nothing earth-shattering has gone wrong this week.  No one is sick, broken, jobless, etc.  Things have just been a little “off”, for me.

It started when I went to make daughter’s lunch Sunday night.  I pulled out the peanut butter for a sandwich, and the lid wasn’t on the jar all the way.  So, as I brought the jar over to the counter, it slipped away from the lid, and landed with a big splat.  Oil spurted out all over the counter, floor, daughter’s craft table, dish towel, etc.  Very inconvenient, and difficult to clean up.

Then yesterday, I dropped my cell phone in the toilet.  I had forgotten it was in my back pocket when I went to, um, well, you know.  Luckily, the toilet was my own, and it was clean, but the phone was fried.  Contacts and calendar were synched, but lost all photos.  So bummed.

Then last night, during gymnastics, daughter fell off the bars and landed on her face.  Very scary.  I had a moment of sheer panic, but it was fleeting.  She was okay – nose not broken, neck alright.  I thought she might wake up this morning with two black eyes, but she didn’t.  Whew! Close call, and I’m pretty sure I have a few extra gray hairs to show for it.

And last but not least, I woke up extra early this morning to “clean” for the housecleaner – put away clutter and such.  I know, it drives our husbands nuts, but we all do it, right?  I don’t want her coming to straighten up the house….I want her to spend her time cleaning!  I stripped the beds and put the sheets in the wash so she could re-make the beds with clean sheets, too.  And alas….I came home around noon for a quick lunch, and no cleaning lady!  There was a message on my home phone that the keypad to the garage door wasn’t working so she couldn’t get in. And, as I was rushing off to school for our Brownie troop meeting, I didn’t have time to re-make the beds.  Which meant I’d have to do it tonight, along with a bit of housework. When I was wiped out and just ready to relax.  Sigh.

So, like I said, nothing tragic here.  I’m keeping it all in perspective.  Husband was home to help me clean up the peanut butter mess, I had the money to go buy a new phone and a car to drive myself to the phone store, daughter’s nose, neck and rest of her body were okay after the fall, and I got an extra bit of exercise doing some of my own housecleaning.  But still, I’m really, really ready for Friday.  It just can’t come soon enough.


Is Spanking Okay? My Daughter’s Thoughts

So, after I wrote my post on spanking, I decided to talk to my daughter about it.  She’s 8, so I feel like we can have some very thoughtful, productive conversations.  It’s probably important to note (if you didn’t read yesterday’s post), I don’t spank.  I don’t feel like it’s useful, helpful, or in my daughter’s best interest.  I’ve never really told her that, but she knows we don’t spank, so she’s clearly coming from a biased position.

Here’s kind of how our conversation went…

Me: So, Buddy, I wrote a little blog post today about spanking.  I thought it would be a good way to get people talking.  What do you think about spanking?  Is it a good way for parents to punish their kids?

Her (horrified look on her face):  No!  It’s a terrible way to punish your kids!!!  I mean, if a child is doing something bad or disobeying their parents, hitting them will just make them feel more angry and then they will want to misbehave more to get back at their parents!  Hitting a child makes them feel angry with their parents, like they can’t trust them.  And why would they want to obey a parent they can’t trust?

Me:  Wow…that’s a great observation.  I love hearing your thoughts on this!

Her:  And besides, we’re kids, so we’re going to make mistakes!  We’re still just trying to figure it all out, and it’s our parents’ job to help us, not hurt us.  Talking to us and teaching us always works better.

Me:  Hugging her tight.  Unable to speak because I’m choked up.

That’s a pretty interesting take from an 8-year-old, don’t you think?  I was kind of blown away, to be honest.  And proud.  Very, very proud. My daughter is a reasonable, thoughtful,  and articulate little human being.  I guess my strategy is working.

For today anyway.  Talk to me again when she’s 13!


Is Spanking Okay?

I used to think spanking was an okay form of discipline.  I was spanked as a child (I don’t think it was too often, because I can remember specific incidents), and I turned out all right.  Well, at least I think so!

But lately, I’ve been thinking about spanking a bit more.  It may be because I have an extra-sensitive child who is humiliated if reprimanded, but I really don’t think it’s okay anymore.  As I’ve matured in my parenting skills and learned more about myself as a parent, I’ve discovered that spanking is much more about the parent than it is about the child.  It’s a sign of utter frustration, an impulsive display of anger, or a complete lack of knowing how to handle a situation, in my humble opinion.  Here’s a perfect example:

My mom and I took Real OC Daughter to Gymboree last week to exchange some clothes that didn’t fit.  We were waiting in line – a very long line, I might add – probably because it was the last day to use those coveted “Gym Bucks”.  Anyhow, frustrations were running high among the kids and parents.  Tension was definitely in the air.  The mom in front of us had two young children in a side-by-side stroller.  The younger brother (who was probably just under 2), kept swatting his older sister (about 3 years old) on the leg.  She tried to ignore it, but he kept on.  She asked him to stop, but he kept on.  The swats got harder and harder, until they were just downright open-handed slaps on her poor little thighs.  Normal sibling behavior, I understand, and luckily, something I never, ever deal with.  Finally, the little girl called out to her mom “he keeps hitting me!”.  The mom turned around, smacked the little boy on the arm, and said “We don’t hit.”.  For reals.

Talk about shock and awe!  I try not to judge other’s parenting styles, but really?  Gee, I wonder where he got the idea to hit?  Update:  It was pointed out to me by a reader that the boy probably didn’t “learn” the hitting from mom, but rather that hitting is an instinctual human reaction.  I must say, I agree there.  I guess what I’m getting at is that it’s our job, as parents, to teach our kids NOT to hit.  And by using the words “we don’t hit” while hitting, that’s probably not a very good teaching technique.

Now, I understand the mom may have been at the end of her rope.  Total frustration, exhaustion, whatever.  I don’t know anything about her or her life.  But I guess that’s just my point – that hit was much more about her than it was about her son.

As parents we frequently reach our breaking points.  But it’s up to us to be the adults, the better people, the good example.  I’m certainly not perfect – I will admit to swatting my daughter on the wrist once when I was exhausted and going through a very difficult time in my life (I felt horribly afterwards, by the way).  And when I look back on that incident, I realize how much better I could have handled it if I had gotten a handle on my own emotions first.

That being said, I don’t have a particularly “difficult” child when it comes to discipline.  I ask, and she does (usually).  Sometimes I have to ask twice, but very rarely a third time.  And there are things I can take away as punishment that would be far more effective – iPod, video game time, art supplies – just to name a few.  So maybe I’m just spouting off about something I know very little about.  But I believe, deep down, that if we take a pause to think about discipline rather than reacting in the moment, the punishment will be more meaningful than a slap.  There’s a reason it’s called “getting off with a slap on the wrist”, right?

As I finished up this post, I found this article and thought it was an interesting read.  It supports my theory that spanking isn’t okay, but for completely different reasons.  Makes perfect sense to me, though!

How about you?  Do you spank?  Do you feel it’s effective?