Thursday, May 29, 2014

A trip to the zoo

I haven't been to the zoo since I was in elementary school, so when I found out the whole family was going as a part of their trip down to SD, I was thrilled.  

Going to the zoo as an adult?  Great.  Going to the zoo with little kids as an adult?  The best.

Oh, livin' the life.
Aidyn was making friends with this duck when a kind lady came over and gave Aidyn some bread so he could feed the duck.  The following is his reaction.

Originally scared by this life-size bird, Aidyn didn't want to make friends with him.  

He quickly changed his mind.

If I were a bird, I'd want this dude to be my bff.

Ducks are underrated.  Look how purty.
On Wednesdays we wear pink.

Grandma and Owen making their way to the elephants.

A beautiful day in San Diego.


Happy to be with family.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Little red socks

I must say - when sitting down to create this blog, I was not planning on writing on mom life.  I mean - that's kind of a lie, because if you go back to this post, I say I plan on documenting my journey as a new mom; but I don't think I knew what was in store for me.  I don't think I was planning on enjoying my new life as much as I am.

Here I sit.  1AM on a Wednesday morning.  A day full of children running around, spilled coffee, and countless changed diapers has come to a close.  The dishes are washed (for the third time).  The leftovers from the delicious Mexican feast my brother & sister-in -law made the family for dinner are stacked in the fridge.  My nephew's red socks full of the day's dirt rest by my fireplace.  My baby is sleeping.  So is my husband.

And I've never been more content.

I thought I was going to write about building a career as a stay-at-home mom.  A couple of potential opportunities came my way to build myself as a social media consultant, and I saw myself writing about those experiences.  (Depending on what comes of those opportunities, I probably will document my journey) but for right now, little, red dirty socks, to-do lists, a pile of dirty laundry, and two piles of folded, clean laundry is what life is all about.

And I've never been more content.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A word on nothing

During the last 6 weeks, I've spent close to 100% of my life on the couch.  Waiting to give birth, the first 2 were spent with a spoon in one hand and a pint of ice cream in the other.  The next 3 were spent recovering. And the last one has been dedicated to ridding myself of this cold (which I'm convinced I'm handling worse than labor).  

So.  Quite literally, nothing has been happening.  We purchased 10 boxes of tissue with some pretty cool designs on them, discussed the color of our daughter's poop over dinner, and watched nearly 3 seasons of The Walking Dead.

Oh.  I've also been reading inspirational quotes of out of my Mom Candy book, of course.

It's been a riveting last month and a half.  So, as I sit here with my last box of tissue, I can say with great excitement we're welcoming family from Alaska tomorrow.  My mother & father-in -law will be venturing our way as well as my brother & sister-in-law, and our 2 nephews.  We have a week ahead full of zoo trips, double dates, and selfie extravaganzas.

Thank God.  Because I'm beginning to feel like a walker.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Here's to you, Ms. Ella James

Dear Ella,

We haven't known each other for very long.  We've been bonding for some months now, but we just met face-to-face for the first time a few weeks ago.

I never knew a tiny human who could not yet speak, walk, smile, or hold her neck up could teach so much in such a short period of time.

But you have.

You've taught me how to slow down.
For as long as I can remember,  I've been told to slow down (by my grandpa, my math tutor, my soccer coach).  "Haste makes waste" my papa would tell me as I rushed through my horrid story problems.  My math tutor, who I have to thank for believing I could complete a math course with an A, often gave me the same advice.  "Try again.  Slower.  You'll get it."  She was often right.  When I started dating Dad, some qualities of his peaked my interest.  "He thinks before he speaks" my Gramps told me.  And that interested me  Your dad is a thinker.  He questions.  He doesn't half-ass.  By having conversations with him, sharing stories, doing homework together, I began to learn how to slow down.

And then you came along.

And you taught me not to run everywhere.  And if we have to stop to feed you in the parking lot after grabbing our take-out, it's not a big deal.  I've learned (and am still learning) how to take in these moments. I'm now realizing, if I go through life constantly running I'll simply miss out.

You've taught me how to be fully present in a moment.
The past few days, you've hated being put to bed.  You'll fall asleep on dad or I, but the moment we set you down to go to bed, you immediately wake up.  Last night, this happened a few times.  Finally, at 3:30AM I came out to the dark living room (lit only by our Christmas lights on the fireplace) and rocked you back to sleep.  The TV was off.  My phone was in the other room.  And although I wholeheartedly believe there is a time and place for a selfie, this was not the time nor the place.  After you were sound asleep, I sat there. And nothing mattered.

You've taught me about a love I didn't know existed.
They say you can't describe the moment your child is born.  You just have to experience it.  They were right. My heart grew bigger with love for you and your dad the moment you entered the world.  Who knew it was possible to love someone more than you did on your wedding day?

Do the lessons end here?  Not at all.  And I can't wait to see what a lifetime of lessons will bring.

This past weekend we celebrated Mother's Day - my first.  It was the best day.  And as familiar faces stopped to say, "Happy First Mother's Day!" I stopped and soaked in the gratitude I was feeling to you for making me a mom.

So, here's to you Ella for turning our world upside down in the best way possible.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The little things and happy lists

I've been up in bed for most of these past 2 weeks.  Turns out, recovering from giving birth is a lot harder and more intense than I ever anticipated.  When you've been inside for a while, it's easy to start feeling a little bluesy and cooped up.

So.  I decided to throwback to middle school and make a *"happy list."

Ella's stretches when she wakes up from a nap.
The support of my husband.
Looking for a new hair color.
Sunny skies.
New nail polish.
Being able to wear my wedding rings again.
Painted nails.
Vanilla iced coffee.
Kevin Spacey interviews.
Dark chocolate covered almonds.
Aiden & Anais swaddling blankets.
Dancing With the Stars.
Hot baths.
A good book.
Iced green tea.
New outfits for Ella.

Happy list: a list containing things that make you...happy.  Markers and colored pencils are usually involved.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Stereotypes, Californians, and exceptions

Sometimes, okay a lot of times, I hate on California.  Where are the seasons?  Where are the friendly smiles?

I was raised in the Midwest.  And there were a few things engrained in me at a young age.

1)  You make eye contact with someone?  You acknowledge them and smile.
2)  You always, always hold the door open.
3)  Your response to a clerk asking, "how are you?" is "Good.  How are you?"

Common courtesy is a religion.

Southern California is no Midwestern state, but despite what I think common courtesy is alive and well in this part of the country.

Yesterday Tim and I purchased a stroller.  Quite thrilled we Tim no longer had to cart around a car seat, we took a trip to the mall to give the Graco beauty a whirl.

We looked like new parents.

Wait.  Where is the elevator?

To the left.  Right.

How do we get to this level?

Turn around.

I told Tim it seems like it would be a challenge to get in and out of places in a stroller.

How do you open the door?

As Tim held the door open for me:

Well, you turn around and back up into the door or hope someone is nice enough to help you out.

I thought, "Out here in SoCal?  That won't likely be the case."  Before I had time for my thought to become a statement, Tim pointed:

Like that guy.

Right in front of us, a woman had just finished carrying her toddler (in a stroller) up an escalator.  A man (hands full himself) who was crossing paths with her took notice.

Are you going into the cafe?  Inching toward the door.

No, I'm headed over there, but thank you.

Smiles.  No problem.

Good is found everywhere.
Before you jump to you next conclusion, pause.

I know I will.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Then 2 became 3

April 20th.  Holy Saturday.

I'm ready to not be pregnant anymore.  I loved being able to experience the wonder and beauty of feeling my baby girl hiccup and getting to know her personality in the womb, but I was not one to flaunt my pregnant glow (which to me felt and looked like straight up sweat).  (And to all of you who feel the same way, that's okay.)  It's Saturday, April 20th, the eviction notice was sent out yesterday.

With my due date falling on the day before Easter, Tim and I had not made plans for the Sunday celebration. We thought Easter was going to look very different for us this year, celebrating in the hospital with our sweet baby girl.  Our little alien had other plans for us, so we thought.

Easter morning.  3AM.

Contraction.  Nothing too serious.  What I had read about early labor during pregnancy turned out to be true.  It was a period-like cramp only with a lot more pressure on my lower back.

Back to sleep.


Another contraction.  I check the time and note the hour difference.  We've got plenty of time.  Back to sleep.


I get up and get ready for the 7:15AM Easter Mass.  Wake up, shower, get dressed.

Contraction.  Pause.  Breathe a little heavier.  The bathroom counter becomes my support.

At this point, I alert Tim of my contractions.  Not too concerned, we go about our simple Sunday morning.

Put makeup on.  Drive to Mass.  Get a seat.

Another contraction, and another.

I break some Mass etiquette and get out my phone to start timing the them.  15 minutes apart.  Then 20. Then 7.  Then back to 15.

We've still got a while.

Since we had planned a day full of nothing, we stopped by our favorite cafe in San Diego for a little Easter brunch.

Still no baby? Asks one of the many familiar faces.


Pause.  Not yet.

While I was pregnant, I read a lot about early labor and what labor with your first is like, so I was expecting maybe a couple days of this on-off contraction routine.

I questioned whether or not I should have caffeine, ordered coffee anyway, and we went home to relax. Nothing out of the ordinary for a Sunday.

I opened our futon into a day bed and watched Scandal episode after Scandal episode.  Maybe not the best way to celebrate Easter, but Olivia Pope seemed to be the only thing that distracted me from what obviously was turning into back labor.

I had been advised (by the internet and friends) to stay at home as long as I could before going to the hospital.  So we continued to persevere through the on-off contraction dance.

Hours pass.


They hurt.  I start to become discouraged as I had read early labor was no big deal.  If you experience pain during your period, you're fine.  I also read, though, that contractions are felt in your lower stomach, I felt mine in my lower back, and they were killer.  Tim and I hadn't taken any childbirth prep classes.   To be honest, the whole idea didn't make sense to me.  I'm going to be in pain no matter what I thought, why am I going to pay someone to teach me how to breathe?  (A little snooty?  Maybe, but in retrospect I'm glad I didn't.)

It was around this time that I 'googled' "how to breathe through contractions."  One simple breathing technique saw me through the next 7 hours.  It was also around this time that the contractions came every 6-7 minutes, just a minute or 2 shy of when we were supposed to head to the hospital.  They were lasting a good minute or longer.

From this moment on I needed to concentrate every time a contraction hit.  I retreated into myself and focused on the one breathing technique.

In through the nose: 1,2, 3.
Out through the mouth: 1,2,3.

Every now and then I grabbed Tim's hand and squeezed.  He took it and reassured me everything was going to be okay.

With the 6 o'clock hour, the 5 minute milestone came.  Every 5-5:30 minutes a contraction would come and go.

It's time.

We turn off Scandal, we grab the bags.  There's a moment as we lock the door and walk away as a family of 2 for the last time.

It's a 45 minute drive to the hospital, a reality I'd been slightly worried about leading up the due date. Will the baby be born on the freeway?  Will I be able to handle contractions in the car?  I again retreat into myself.

In through the nose: 1,2,3.
Out through the mouth: 1, 2, 3.

Jason DeRulo's Talk Dirty to Me provides just enough of a distraction as we sail over bumps in the road.

Pull up to the hospital.  Walk to the check-in.

What can I help you with?

I'm having contractions 5 minutes apart.

(Hurriedly) Let me call someone to help you.  Here's a wheelchair.

I'm placed next to a section of chairs occupied by people who are now staring at the pregnant lady in the room.

In through the nose: 1, 2, 3.
Out through the mouth: 1, 2, 3.

A chipper, blonde nurse wheels me down to the maternity ward.

Is this your first?


She tells me we have plenty of time.

A little fearful of the possibility of being sent home, I get changed into my glam hospital gown.  Tim sits in the chair.  We chat.  Nurses come and go, hooking me up to monitors, attempting to insert IVs, and asking me a slew of questions.

I'm admitted.

I try to answer the questions with a straight face.


Pause.  Yeah.

In through the nose: 1, 2, 3.
Out through the mouth: 1, 2, 3.


Epidural or no epidural?  At this point I've been dealing with contractions for 20 hours.  I try to hold out a little longer.

4-5 centimeters dilated.

The pain is manageable, but the pressure on my lower back is becoming unbearable.  I lie in bed trying to focus on the latest Don Draper drama and continue to breathe.

I'll take the epidural.

The nurses can see the intensity of my contractions rising and offer me a pain killer.  The anesthesiologist wouldn't be able to come by until after 11.

I'll wait for the epidural.

In through the nose: 1, 2, 3.
Out through the mouth: 1, 2, 3.

Tim, get the nurse.

I'll take the pain killer.

Relief, but only a little.


Lights are turned on.  Nurses file in.

The epidural is administered.  My legs are heavy.  I'm a little cold.  The pressure of my contractions has not gone away.  I question how I'm going to do this.  The nurse instructs Tim how to put counter-pressure on my lower back.  I'm laying on my side, oxygen mask on.


That isn't the right spot.



This is the ultimate worst time to miscommunicate.

My trusty breathing technique is starting to fail me.  The pressure was increasing becoming more intense with each contraction.  Tim and the nurse named Rhonda work with me to turn me from side to side, trying to get baby girl to move away from my back.  I question how I'm going to get through these next hours.

In through the nose: 1, 2, 3.
Out through the mouth: 1, 2, 3.


The nurse notices the rising intensity of each contraction.

I'm going to check you...


9 and half centimeters.  Wow.  We can start pushing soon.

Thank God.

Somewhere around 2AM (Time begins to blend together)

This is where all modesty is thrown out the window.  Rhonda has one leg, Tim has the other.  Rhonda tells me how to breathe and we begin.  Thankfully, the epidural worked just as I prayed it would.  I could feel the pressure of each contraction which helped me to push effectively.  After minutes of pushing, Rhonda has a sense of urgency in her voice.

Stop pushing.


I'm going to need you to keep your oxygen mask on.

The other nurse enters the room, Rhonda informs her to get the doctor to the hospital.

I'm scared.  Probably more in that moment than I've ever been.  I can't see what's going on.  I feel lightheaded.  The crew smiles at me, but the smiles quickly fade once we lose eye contact.

Dr. enters.

How we doing?

The nurse points.

The Dr. doesn't seem too concerned, and she walks me through the rest of the pushing process.


The moment.


I see the very pink, very loud, very tiny human who has just changed our lives forever. Exhausted, I don't remember much from that moment, except Tim's face.  And I'm so happy that's the one aspect of the moment I distinctly remember.

I hold her and I'm in awe.

Look at that head!  It's perfectly shaped!

She's beautiful!  That color.  So pink.  Perfect.

You did great.



Thank you.  

Ms. Ella James.  Born April 21, 2014 at 3:22AM. 

Photo by Jamie Brock