Friday, February 27, 2015

Away we go


When you have a baby away from family, you're faced with a whole slew of questions.  Do we want to be closer to family?  Which side?  How about our jobs?  What do we want for our kids?  What do we need to be the best parents?  Etc., etc., etc.

In the movie Away We Go these are the very questions that are asked.  In a nutshell, the couple finds out they'e expecting and proceeds to search the country for their perfect home by visiting all their friends and family.  They're greeted with imperfections and quirks in each place always posing the final question of what do we want?  

My husband, baby girl, and I will be moving to Washington in mid-April to, you guessed it, be closer to loved ones.  Thankfully (and blessedly) my husband will be able to work remotely and keep the same position at his company making the work-transition fairly seamless.  Ella will gain a couple playmates - her dear cousins - which makes my heart smile as she's nearing the age of needing other tiny humans to play with.  I have no reason to be sad.  We've been trying to move for over a year. And here it is.  All the puzzle pieces that needed to magically fall into place have turned into one perfect, complete puzzle.

The one piece of the puzzle that didn't quite fit was the "Detroit" piece.  See, the other place that was on the table to move was my beloved home state of Michigan.  And damn, was I excited.  If you are a born and bred Detroiter, you know there's no better feeling than that of going home.  It's in our blood to love it hard when we're there and miss it even harder when we're gone.  But at the end of all the "pros", the "cons", the "what ifs", the "ands", and "buts", Detroit wasn't the right call for our family as a whole.

Which is what originally got me thinking about Away We Go and how they struggled to find their perfect puzzle piece of a home.  And it's what brings me to what I've learned over the past six years being in California.  A home is what you make it.  Yes, in my opinion, I think it's best when family and close friends are nearby.  Maybe the sports teams are some of the best.  But ultimately, a home is about the people who are in your life, the memories you make and the adventures you take when you're living in whatever spot you find yourself in.  It isn't about a given zip code, it's about what you bring and what you make of a that zip code.

Maybe in 2, 4, 5, years we'll be moving to Michigan or a different part of Washington or, hell, back to Southern California.  The future is one huge, blank slate full of potential and possibilities that I'm not going to say "never" to.  But for now, away we go to the Pacific Northwest.  To a little bit cooler weather (Praise the Lord), an in-unit washer and dryer (Praise the Lord), and a whole lot of Birkenstocks (we'll be close to Portland).

We're comin' at you Washington.  And I'm ready to make you our next home.  Temporary or not.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Small victories matter

Walking buddy.

Yesterday, I took a longer than usual walk with Ella.  To most people, this would be a mundane, ordinary task that wouldn't be given a second thought.  But for me, it's a big deal.  Usually ridden with anxiety, I tend to avoid long walks and long periods of time out by myself in places I'm not totally comfortable with. 

One of my Lenten challenges is to push the boundaries of my comfort zones specifically pertaining to anxiety.

Enter.  Longer walks.

It seems like nothing - an extra 15 minutes of being away from your safe haven, no big deal.

Small victories seem like nothing.  They seem like a drop in a massive bucket in the middle of a drought, but they are something.  They're more than that.  They're a big deal.  Because once you've got the mometum behind you in pushing yourself to reach all those little victories, you'll one day find yourself in front of the big victory.  The victory where all your work and efforts culminate into one giant pay off.

One longer walk at a time. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Gluten free blueberry pancakes




Something I've recently discovered in the kitchen is greek yogurt makes gluten-free pastries better.  It improves the consistency of the batter and therefore, makes the final pastry lighter and richer.  I recently took this pancake recipe (off Pinterest, of course) and made it gluten-free.

The original recipe can be found here.  (I didn't make the syrup.)  In order to make the pancakes gluten-free I used 1/2 cup (GF) all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup coconut flour.

This recipe makes for a perfect base for any type of pancakes.  Chocolate chip, strawberry, banana. We're big chocolate lovers around here, so chocolate chip pancakes may be on this weekend's menu.

I'll let you know how that goes.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Birthday weekend


View of the city


I love birthdays.  They take you out of the day-to-day, the groceries, the doctor's appointments, and give you a reason to celebrate.  And this birthday weekend was a great one.  A fancy dinner followed by a surprise celebration with our closest friends was what my husband had up his sleeve.  In dealing with recent health issues, tests, etc., I appreciated this birthday celebration more than most.  It felt good to put on a red dress, some lipstick, and go out.  To know our sweet girl was in good hands made the night all the more enjoyable.  And when we got home, me thinking the night had come to an end, we were welcomed by our close friends, streamers, and cupcakes filled with lit candles.

It was sweet, it was special.

The rest of the weekend was spent recovering as I was awoken in the middle of the night by a horrid case of food poisoning.  There's a first for everything.  On the brightest side, it's raining today in typically sunny SoCal and I'm feelin' 25.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The week of home accents

Threshold lamp.
Threshold area rug.




Since graduating college, Tim and I have had a collection of random furniture and pieces in our apartment.  The different sized IKEA dressers, the Sears Outlet couch, the Target lamps that my dear friend and roommate left in my room with a note saying, "thought you'd need these"on them.  (She was right.)

The mismatched collection has left our space always feeling a little off, a little incomplete, and not like a home.

We know we won't be in this apartment forever, but we've been slowly replacing and collecting a few new pieces and accents to make our little place feel more like a working adults living quarters and a little less like a college rummage sale.

This past weekend we collected a few more pieces.  A lamp, an area rug, some cute, fake succulents. Though our dream house consists of all things crisp, white, gray and reclaimed wood, these pieces have done a lot for our space. Put more color into our lives (and living rooms) and made our temporary home feel not so temporary. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Birthday throwback

Barbie cake.  I was seven.  And it was a dream.

I'm turning 25 next week, and in the spirit of throwback Thursday, I thought I'd look back at some past birthdays.

A favorite gift?  First one that comes to mind is a playlist one of best friends created for me.  I had been bugging him for months to get a Spotify account so I could follow his playlists.  (He has excellent taste in music.)  For my birthday a couple years ago he made a "Happy Birthday" playlist full of greatness and shared it with me on Spotify.  It was a simple gift, but incredibly thoughtful, and I cried when I played it.

Favorite memory?  When my entire family went up to my grandparents' condo for a skiing trip, and I got to celebrate my birthday in one of my favorite places with some of my favorite people.  I was little.  It's one of my earliest memories of a birthday, but one of the best.

Age where you actually felt older? Seventeen.   A lot of responsibility came with that year - full-time job, online school, etc.

Favorite birthday tradition?  Every year my grandma would call me in the morning and sing "Happy Birthday" to me over the phone.  I have a phobia of people singing "Happy Birthday" to me, but with her it never mattered.  I always waited for the call and she never forgot.

Birthday cake?  Chocolate on chocolate with a side of chocolate drenched in chocolate. Or marble cake with chocolate frosting.  Or any cake, really.  I don't discriminate.

Celebrate in or out?  I'm very much bbq-in-the-backyard-type when it comes to parties.  In.

Birthday wish?  For all my loved ones to be in the same state.  And a jet ski.  These are wishes, right?

Most significant birthday? My 16th.  A few of my friends got together and planned a fancy sit-down dinner.  They all surprised me with a ring from Tiffany's.  And it was, of course, complete with my super cute crush who gave me flowers.  It's my absolute favorite birthday memory.  Everyone was so sweet and generous.

Looking forward to most about next birthday?  Just being in 25-year-old territory.  Twenty-five sounds like an age where you've got it all together and learn a lot at the same time.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The long weekend

I'm a day late.  But today is technically Monday, right?  So we're cool.

The weekend kicked off with Valentine's Day.  It was the first time we had dropped Ella off with a babysitter (who wasn't family) and went out for the evening.  She cried and cried when we left, but all was well shortly after when we received a video of Ella having a blast laughing with their tiny, tiny puppy.

Mission accomplished.

Turns out my birthday is going to be a bit of a fancy affair (I don't know what's happening yet) so Tim took me out to look for a birthday dress for our Valentine's date.  I found one, we ate pizza, we ate sweets, and got coffee.  It was the best evening.

We returned to the babysitter's to find Ella passed out with Pocahontas on in the background. 

Everyone had a great evening.

I'll leave you with many captured moments from the weekend.  Have a great Monday Tuesday.

Best Valentine's

Le dessert.

Post-Valentine's pancakes.  (Recipe coming soon!)

"Okay, mom. I'll smile for one more picture..."

This is how Ella gives kisses - opens her mouth and leans in.  The cutest.

Drool aftermath.

Picked up some home accent pieces from Homegoods. (Post coming soon!)
Gettin' artsy fartsy on the way home from an appointment.
'Til next time, weekend.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Valentine's


I like to celebrate Valentine's Day.  I realize it's pretty much a commercial holiday that supplies Hallmark with another floor set for the year.  But I like it.  Going out for dinner or breakfast or doing small gifts or simply acknowledging the holiday is how I like to do.

When Tim and I were first dating, Tim didn't do Valentine's Day.  For, of course, the reasons mentioned above.  I was aware of the pro-valentine's/anti-valentine's crowds before I started dating Tim, so this wasn't some earth-shattering realization.  But we did face a sort of difference of expectation dilemma after our first totally botched February 14th.

A few years of dating, over a year of marriage under our belts, and a lot of talk on love languages, we celebrate Valentine's.  Usually nothing extravagant.  (My birthday is one week after the holiday.)  But we make the day a little more special than most.

This year we're going out.  Tim arranged for a babysitter and planned a little something.  And I won't find out what we're doing until we pull away from our babysitter's house.  A surprise.

Though we've had our fair share of failed attempts in planning a good Valentine's, I couldn't be happier and more proud to have the Valentine that I do.  We've learned together, we've grown together, and we've changed together.

And at the end of the day that's really what it's about, right?  The person sitting across the dinner table from you.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Friendships and anxiety

Pinterest again.  Obviously.
Something I've read very little about in dealing with anxiety is how anxiety (and depression) affect relationships, specifically friendships.

Since I've struggled to find some balance between dealing with anxiety and maintaining old friendships and fostering new ones, I thought I'd share what I've learned along the way.

And that's to just be honest.

Of course, it's always best to be honest.  No matter the situation, no matter the consequences.  But when it comes to the mental state, it's harder to simply broadcast what you're going through, honestly.

So over the years, I've done what people would call "flaked" on friends, or events, or people who reached out to get to know me, simply because I let my anxiety get the best of me.  Sometimes, just sitting through a normal school day was exhausting due to dealing with my unmanaged anxiety that I simply didn't want to feel that way anymore.  So I'd start fleeing from potential situations that would cause all those impending feelings of doom.

Sure, I was always working to combat those fears.  I'd force myself out of my comfort zone and attend a camp for the weekend, take a class that involved public speaking, or hang out with a new group of people.  But those things for me were not easy.  So other times I would dodge similar situations.

Nobody won this way.  Feelings got hurt.  And I was quickly paving a path of earning myself a reputation that didn't accurately reflect who I was.

But I didn't want to tell people what I was going through.  Because it's embarrassing and people who don't struggle with anxiety simply don't understand.  They try to paint a logical picture that I've already tried to paint myself.  But the anxiety never fails to blur the picture.

In recent months, in dealing with the postpartum anxiety and depression, I've learned I simply have to be honest with people.

When I hadn't followed up with a friend who I was supposed to get together with, I told her what I had been going through and thanked her for her friendship.  Of course, she was understanding and quick to offer help in any way she could.

Be honest with people.  Let them know the real you even if that means an uncomfortable conversation.  I've been called insensitive, self-absorbed, rude, and all sorts of things simply because I have let my anxiety get the best of me.

Don't let your fears form your reputation.  Be seen for who you really are.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Gluten-free Lemon & Blueberry Bread




I've been craving lemon lately.  I've never made lemon anything and had never tried the lemon-blueberry duo.  So I decided to give this recipe a whirl.  This recipe was fun to make, because it called for fresh ingredients like blueberries and lemon zest.

The original recipe can be found here.  In order to make it gluten-free, I used 1 1/2cup all-purpose flour (from Trader Joe's) and 1/2 cup coconut flour.  The texture came out light and decadent.

I'll definitely be breaking out this recipe again in the future!

Especially if I'm ever invited to a fancy brunch.

Monday, February 9, 2015

The weekend of the suit coat











This weekend was a great weekend and a not-so-great weekend.  Tim got off work exceptionally early on Saturday which was a real treat.  Me?  I wasn't feelin' my best, so the couch and my fluffy, white robe were my trusty companions.  As they say, though, fresh air is good for the soul, so we went out when we could.

And so the hunt for the suit jacket began.

Tim and I have had quite the minimalist wardrobe for...a while.  Between old clothes and post-pregnancy sizes, we've both needed to do some updating.  For Tim, this involved a suit jacket.  We headed to our local Banana Republic Outlet, and they didn't have his size.  They called one north in Carlsbad.  They had it!

Or so we thought.  We drove to Carlsbad to an incredible outlet mall, found the Banana Republic, and they didn't have it.

It turned out to be one of those days.  Our attempt at a good day was trying to be ruined by all those little things that weren't going our way.  We turned it on its head, grabbed a bite, and enjoyed the sunset on the way home.

On Sunday, I relaxed when I could.  I'm still doing the doctor-tests-specialists dance, so I haven't been feeling up to much.  But since Sunday is for the family, we made a short trip the park for a little swing-time and sunshine.  Later, I broke out some fresh blueberries and lemons and made some bread.

Recipe coming soon!

Happy Monday.

Friday, February 6, 2015

0-9 months

Weekday moments








I love the current stage Ella is in.  Nine-month-olds are so much fun.  They discover on a whole new level, their personality starts to really come out, and they look ridiculously cute in shopping carts.   She loves speed-crawling to the kitchen and opening anything with a handle.  She's starting to wave to people.  She loves peek-a-boo.  And she loves to dance.

And with the birth of this new stage, I started thinking about the very beginning.

The newborn stage was a hard one.  Between the challenge of breastfeeding, my husband's work schedule, and the postpartum issues, I had a hard time initially bonding with Ella.  She was the cutest baby I'd ever seen, but I was lost in the fact that she couldn't yet respond to us.  And I questioned if I was cut out to be a stay-at-home mom.  Of course I loved her with my whole heart and when she began to smile and make funny faces and do all those things cute, little babies do, I started to feel that connection a mom feels with her child.  But it didn't come easy.

With her latest growth spurt, it's been a joy to grow with her.  Her personality is beaming and she makes me laugh as much as I try to make her laugh.  I dance with her, talk with her, and hug her every chance I get.

That's what this week was about, taking in all these little, new, way-too-cute milestones.  And appreciating the little lady she's turning into.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Leslie Knope and motherhood

Pinterest, pic.  Obvs.

This final season of Parks and Rec has surpassed my expectations.  Final seasons of shows just aren't supposed to be this good.  (Well, they should be.  Just usually aren't.)

One aspect of the show has been sticking with me episode after episode.  And that's how Leslie is being portrayed as a mom.  Usually when motherhood is portrayed in a show, there's something broken.  Either the mom is overwhelmed, the relationship with her spouse is lacking, she's completely given up on herself and dives obsessively into everything baby.  Not that any of these aspects of motherhood are "wrong" in and of themselves.  Mothers everywhere probably experience 1 or all of these things on some level.  The problem comes in when mothers are portrayed through one, single lens.  We rarely see balance in the character - the whole person.

With Leslie, in this final season, we see the entire person.  We see the mom who is totally in love with her kids when she shows her monthly scrap books of her kids to her ... Ron.  We see the woman who is head over heels in love with her husband when she encourages him to do something that she think he's perfect for.  We see the passionate, driven woman who is dedicated to her job and continues to work to fulfill her dreams and better her community.  Her wit and her humor hasn't faded.

In a world of "helicopter parenting", working vs. stay-at-home moms, and arranged baby play dates, it's refreshing to see balance in a woman.  Sure, she works.  But her husband and her kids are her top priority.  And she hasn't forgotten the ambitious, soft, hilarious Leslie.

And I respect that.

Leslie, I'm sad you're leaving us soon, but grateful for the woman you were.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Three ways to limit anxiety

In recent months, I've introduced new things into my routine to help limit my anxiety.  I thought I'd share the three things that have helped me most and have proven most effective.

Say goodbye to caffeine. 

This has been a hard one.  I love coffee for both the taste and the energy boost.  A pick-me-up isn't a pick-me-up without a good cup of jo.  For the past couple years, I've tried giving up coffee and switching to tea.  But I've always fallen off the bandwagon and ordered my trustee cap.  With my recent fight with anxiety, though, caffeine has simply become too much.  Which isn't surprising.  You read any article on how to reduce anxiety, the first thing it will tell you is to limit caffeine.  But hello! This does not mean you have to limit coffee.  A lot of people think decaf coffee is ridiculous (my husband being one of them), but if it helps you to limit the caffeine then opt for the decaf.  I will never count coffee fully out of my diet, but getting rid of caffeine has helped tremendously in limiting my anxiety.


Get a Magnesium supplement*

I fall right in the middle between the whole western vs. eastern medicine debate.  I actually find it incredibly frustrating that it's an either/or sort of matter.  I've found there are quacks on both sides of the spectrum and if you do your research, find an invested doctor, and use the best of both worlds, it's the way to go.  I only say this because in suggesting a magnesium supplement one might gather I've tried fighting anxiety with a pure holistic approach which isn't the case.  I've found the best way to tackle a problem like anxiety is to tackle it from all angles.  And by that I mean, see a therapist, take advantage of massage therapy, yoga, chiropractics, and essential oils, and see an MD for a low dosage of anxiety-treating medication.  And with that, I've added a magnesium supplement to my routine.  Magnesium is excellent for the nervous system and naturally relaxes muscles and calms nerves.  I did the research, checked with my MD (who thought it was a great idea) and it's been hugely beneficial.


Do more yoga.

This statement, do more yoga, has basically become my mantra in life.  I've been told by more than one doctor to do yoga, but honestly yoga is freaking intimidating.  It's way harder than it looks and I've never considered myself to be of the "zen type".  In recent months, though, I've been open to trying it and I love it.  Since the exercise is so focused on your breathing, it gets the oxygen really flowing and works to refocus and center your mind.  Since you're not sprinting on a treadmill, you don't immediately feel like you're burning calories, but it doesn't take long before you feel an intense burn.  Yoga doesn't have to get weird.  I know there are many different ways people practice yoga and there are many exercises available.  I've just been doing a straightforward and simple workout that my best friend sent me and it's been great.

*Check with your doctor before starting any supplements or new workouts.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

January Favorites

Favorite read/listen.
Favorite watch.
Favorite addition to wardrobe.
Favorite nail color.
Mom favorite.
Favorite accessory.
Favorite new find.
Favorite eat.
Favorite drink. (With a little steamed milk and honey.)