Thriving in motherhood was a top priority for Dawn Antis after she had twins in 2014. The Orange County native surrounded herself with new moms right away by joining Stroller Strides, a mothers of multiples group, and a mommy & me group. Antis started Mom & Tot OC out of necessity because she says there are several support groups in Orange County that cater to newborns, but no options for toddlers. Her purpose is to empower moms and provide a relaxed environment for them to gain support.
Dawn Antis is a contributing writer for OC Family and the Orange County Register. She was recently appointed by Irvine City Council Member, Melissa Fox, to serve on the Irvine Child Care Committee. Antis serves on the board of directors for Valiant Women of Mission Hospital, The Saddleback Mothers of Multiples Club, and the Fight For Lexi Golf Tournament. She's an Elite Member of the Yelp community with over 300 reviews. Antis has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications with an emphasis in Print Journalism from California State University, Fullerton. She was the associate editor of Orange Coast Magazine and has over 150 published articles. Antis resides in Irvine with her husband Charles, and twins, Charlie and Gracie.
Mark Howerton is a Marriage and Family Therapist in Costa Mesa, California where he lives with his wife Kristen and their four children. In his private practice, he works with adolescents, families, and adults.
Among other things, his favorites hobbies include Hot Yoga and eating breakfast out. You can follow him on Twitter @MarkHowerton or schedule a Skype session with him on his website www.MarkHowerton.com
Erin Piccola is a Board Certified Acupuncturist, licensed at the National and California state levels, an Herbalist, and a Nutritional Expert. She runs a family practice, treating patients from age 2 to age 92 for a variety of ailments. She specializes in the treatment of chronic illness, musculoskeletal pain, infertility, allergies, and headaches. She also focuses on preventative medicine to improve and maintain health and well being for all of her patients. She graduated as the Valedictorian of her high school class and earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree with Magna Cum Laude honors at Colgate University. She was accepted into the Masters program at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and began her 4-year training program in acupuncture, herbal medicine, nutrition, and biomedicine. Upon graduating with Summa Cum Laude honors, Erin traveled to Chengdu, China to study and train at one of the largest Chinese Medical hospitals in the world. Erin’s professional internship experience includes rotations in Sports Medicine, Gynecology, Oncology, Pediatrics, Geriatrics, Cardiology, and Respiratory illness. When she’s not working, Erin enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter at their home in Irvine. Learn more about Erin at www.silverneedleacudoc.com
Michelle S. Donaghy
With a formal education in Psychology and Social Work, Michelle S. Donaghy is a published expert and has been featured in Parenting Magazines. Her consulting has been sought after by pediatricians and celebrities alike. She is a certified Gentle Sleep Coach® and one of the first to graduate from the program. Michelle has 95 hours of basic training, over 100 hours of advanced ongoing training and has helped several hundred families with life changing results. You can visit her website at www.msdbabysleepcoach.com
Ben Spearing is the owner of OC Car Seat Safety in Irvine. As a certified technician specialist, he installs and educates parents on their child's seat, checks to see if there are any existing recalls, and makes sure the child is the correct size and weight for their seat. He also demonstrates how to properly adjust the car seat as the child grows. Learn more about Ben at www.occarseatsafety.com
Alexa Pratt is an education specialist for the Orange County Fire Authority where she teaches the community about child safety tips and drowning prevention. She is also an emergency medical technician for Premier Transport. Her skills include performing medical and trauma assessments, basic life support interventions, and monitoring patient vital signs and airway. She holds a Master of Science degree in Health and Strategic Communication from Chapman University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies from the University of San Francisco.
Maruska Gannon is the founder of PlanADayOut.com, a search engine for things to do with kids in Orange County. Over 50,000 families use PlanADayOut every month as a first resource to find family outings in Orange County. Maruska received a BA and a MA in mathematics from UCLA. After working for over 8 years as an actuary she decided to become a stay-at-home mom and enjoy her time with her two kids by exploring Orange County. She now spends countless hours looking for new fun kid-friendly places to share with her readers and she loves every minute of it because she is able to have fun, spend time with her kids and make a difference in the community, all at the same time.
As the head photographer for Classic Kids Photography in Newport Beach, Jenn Sturtevant says she is always eager to share the Classic Kids “experience” with each new family and those that come back year after year. Think about a session as a really fun play-date. There is laughter and silliness seeping out of every inch of her studio! There’s no other job in the world that could make her as happy as being a children’s photographer. Classic Kids Photography is a boutique studio photography company specializing in hand finished portraits of children and their families. They create artwork for their clients' walls and heirlooms for their families. www.classickids.com
Organizational habits aren’t something you’re born with…they’re skills that can be learned and practiced, according to Ria Safford, founder of Riorganize, a professional organizing company that works with clients to conquer the clutter and bring beauty and simplicity to any space. She graduated from Texas Christian University and resides in Irvine with her husband. Ria says she's always had a knack for neatness but it wasn’t until becoming a mom that she began to appreciate the importance of fool-proof organizational systems…and the stress-free lifestyle they support.
Dr. Ariel Alexander
Dr. Ariel Alexander is a jazz saxophonist, music educator and mother of a 1 1/2 year old girl. Originally from St. Louis, she earned her B.A. at Indiana University and master's and doctoral degrees at the University of Southern California. Ariel has performed and taught throughout the US, South America, Europe and Asia. She currently runs the Commercial Music Program at Saddleback College, where she teaches music technology, music business and performance. When she's not teaching, Ariel loves to spend time with her daughter and husband, drink loads of coffee and do Crossfit.
Susie Alexander is the proprietor of Once Upon a Storybook, a unique children’s bookstore in Tustin that specializes in classic and contemporary literature for babies to teens. With 20 years of experience in educational publishing, the mother of four has authored two books for the parent market, as well as literature for the classroom and her for her kids whom she homeschooled for 18 years. As a lead trainer for LearningRx, she developed cognitive strategies and a reading curriculum into the reading process. Her days are now filled with storytimes, book orders, and phone calls. She is living her dream of introducing stories to children, parents, grandparents, and educators.
Michele Whiteaker believes playing is as important for kids as eating, sleeping, and breathing. In fact, studies prove unstructured play makes kids happier, healthier and smarter. That's why she's devoted the past 7 years to creating resources that help local Orange County families prioritize nature and play time. Michele is a Certified Interpretive Guide and guidebook writer who runs a free Family Guidebook Club at www.NaturePlayTrips.com and shares over 300 parks, playgrounds, beaches, nature centers, and walks on FunOrangeCountyParks.com. Because of a magical childhood and amazing parents, she still prefers to sit at the kid table and swing on the swings.