Monday, October 31, 2011

3 month reflection of grief

It's been 3 months and I miss you more than ever, mom.  We had a pumpkin carving party at our house yesterday.  You were here for it last year, dressed in a silly long wig and carrying Juliet around the house so proudly in her little bumblebee outfit.  We all had a great family day yesterday, but it will never be the same without you.

This is a picture I took of Grandma holding Audrey. Grandma cried when she saw pictures of you hanging everywhere- she wears her hurt and pain more outwardly than the rest of us. There is a large picture of you hanging above her- it's from your memorial service. I like walking by it and looking at your beautiful, strong hands as I live my everyday moments. I just wish you were more than a picture on the wall. I grieve for you so deeply, every single day.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

sunday morning

Gary took this photo of me this morning. And then he proceeded to post it on Facebook, which I was (halfway joking) very annoyed at him for, since it's definitely not the best photo of me.  But it definitely does accurately depict my life:

- Baby strapped to me? Check.
- Still wearing my pajamas at 11 am? Check.
- Haven't had time to put my contacts in or brush my hair? Check.
- Scrolling through my iPhone to see what the rest of the world is up to? Check.
- Eating breakfast at the same time? Check.
- Toys everywhere in the living room behind me? Check.

Yep, that's pretty much it.

love overflowing

I look at these photos and just feel so full of joy and love for my family.  I am so, so grateful that I am able to experience the joy of being a mama and a wife. There is no place I'd rather be than here.

And the bonus of having 2 girls is that I get to dress them up in matching prints on occasion. This will become helpful in their sisterly bonding as they get older- they can both roll their eyes at their mother and think that I was a total geek for making them dress alike.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


I'm happy to write that I've made some good progress in the meal department this week. I've decided to start shopping at Trader Joe's again, after a lengthy hiatus. Trader Joe's sells a lot of packaged food. Much of it is over-packaged (the produce) which has always bothered me, but it is perfect for this stage of life for my family. I can cook a reasonably well-balanced meal with minimal effort and it tastes good.

For example, the other night I made a green curry dish with chicken and veggies. I also made it for lunch for my Dad and everyone gave it 2 thumbs up.

I used the frozen chicken tenders from TJ's, frozen brocolli, frozen grilled peppers and onions,frozen organic brown rice (3 minute cook time), and a jar of the TJ brand Green Curry Simmer Sauce. I thought it was delicious, if I do say so myself.

We have also been enjoying a great afternoon snack courtesy of Trader Joe's and inspiration from my friend Jenna.  Instead of reaching for junk, we are all having a yummy smoothie made of:

- handful of fresh spinach
- 2 oranges from the backyard, squeezed
- 2 bananas
- handful of frozen mango chunks
- handful of frozen strawberries
-  1/2 cup of TJ's "Green Juice"

Juliet loves it! It's worth the mess to let her enjoy a yummy, healthful afternoon treat.

But seriously, the over-packaging is a bit ridiculous. Does every egg really need its own expiration stamp?! I need to get my own hens someday!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

what do you do all day, anyway?

I will be blogging some thoughts on this when I ...ahem...have some time to type two-handed! But does anyone else have an initial thought or reaction?

OK, so here are my thoughts.

What do I do all day? I wake up at 7 am and literally DO.NOT.STOP. until Audrey lies down at 9:30 pm for her first stretch of sleep. And when I say that I "wake up" at 7 am, what I really mean is that I have periods of 1-4 hours of sleep throughout the night and usually am able to sleep from 5 am to 7 am, but only as long as Audrey is lying on my chest. Which means that I am sitting up in bed, with a baby attached to me. I don't even get to lie down when I am in my own bed!

I have at least one baby attached to me at all times. Either hanging on my leg (Juliet), sucking on my boob (Audrey), worn in a carrier, and so on. It's not an exaggeration to say that I literally am not able to go to the bathroom by myself; I have lost all shred of privacy or alone time. And while this is happening, I am trying to not just survive the day, but create healthy, happy human beings and a loving, hopefully somewhat clean, joyful home.

Being a stay-at-home mom is hard work. It's just a different kind of work than working in an office, which can also be hard. And there are, no doubt, many perks that working women don't have.  Today I got to go to the park with the girls to ride down the slides, went shopping for some clothes for our annual holiday photo, and went to the pumpkin patch with Gary so Juliet could pet the goats. It is a joy and a privilege to be able to be a mommy to my girls, and stay home with them during these formative years.  I am grateful that I have a husband who supports this model for our family because these moments are truly priceless to me.  My life is awesome! I am happy to be living in this chaos.

I think the problem is that women in general are so damn hell bent on tearing each other down. It's always a competition between us- who is working harder? who has it worse? who deserves the most pity? who's not doing it "right"?. Enough already!  It's all just got to stop.

And for the record, I do have time for emails to friends.  And texts as well. And Facebook too. (Thank you, Steve Jobs, for the iPhone! It's a nursing mother's best friend!) Because my friendships are important to me, no matter how chaotic my daily life has become. But please be forewarned that if you try to call me on the phone and have a real conversation lasting more than a minute, the background noise will usually sound like this: "Waaaaahhh!! (Audrey)  Mama, mama, mamamamama! " (Juliet)

Edit: The chaos really picked up after Audrey was born. I think that having just one baby is hard when they are newborns but settles down tremendously as they get older- routines get established, sleep gets settled, and it begins to feel "easy". It will be interesting to see how things change as my children grow older. This is just a crazy phase for us that I know will soon settle.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

scenes from fall

Fullerton does not have extreme seasonal changes compared to most areas of the country, but even in this part of the world, I can feel that fall is in the air.  The mornings are becoming cool and crisp, and I have to put a jacket and shoes on Juliet now before our morning walk instead of going barefoot.

I am trying to embrace this seasonal change, and I thought I'd share what our life is looking like this morning. What are you doing to embrace the fall season?
Our "Turlock pumpkins" decorating the front porch
Juliet helping us collect our pumpkins in Turlock

Three scarecrows decorating our front yard. Look, we even have leaves on the ground!
A witch in the bushes, oh my!
Our morning walk through the neighborhood in our pajamas
Gary wanted to get the 2 ton pumpkin but we didn't have room in our car ;)

Monday, October 24, 2011

My must-haves for baby, Part 1

I am so excited that some of my dear friends are in various stages of the journey toward motherhood. While I am in no ways an expert in babies, I do have enough experience with my two babes to have developed some favorite must-have items.  I thought I would share them here. I will make a Part 2 list when I have time of other items I love but these are the first to come to mind.

I'd love to hear from other mamas about what *your* must-have list looks like!

1. Aden and Anais swaddle blankets: Yes, these are expensive. Yes, they are worth it. I use them for everything- swaddling, nursing cover-up, light stroller blanket. I have more than I'm willing to admit, but they are truly wonderful.
Juliet swaddled in Aden & Anais as a newborn

2. Velcro swaddler: I use the Kiddopatmus SwaddleMe blankets. I was partial to the fleece one for Juliet when we lived in a cool climate and now I'm partial to the organic cotton one for Audrey since it is much lighter. The whole point of these swaddlers is that they are pretty foolproof and easy to use. Swaddling the old-fashioned way can be a little hard and annoying, especially in the middle of the night when I am bleary eyed. I like to keep it easy sometimes, and these do the trick.

3. Moby wrap: My favorite wrap for the newborn and early infant stage. I am a huge proponent of babywearing for both practical reasons (hands are free!) as well as developmental/emotional reasons (infant/mother bonding). The Moby is a little tricky to figure out at first but both my babies love to snuggle in it and fall asleep pretty much instantly.  It's really nice to have that chest-to-chest bonding time with my babes and it makes us both happy. I have other more "sophisticated" wraps but like this one because it's pretty easy compared to woven wraps.
Sleeping through a wedding in the Moby

4.Ergo Baby carrier : This is a huge must-have! It can be used from about 2 weeks on with an infant insert until baby grows into it a little bit, and I can still use it easily for Juliet at 17 months and 22 lbs.  I can hike in it up mountains, and wear it literally for hours per day with no discomfort in my back or shoulders. I can bend over to pick up Juliet and carry both kids when needed. It can be worn on your front or your back. Most babywearing "experts" consider it preferable over a Baby Bjorn because the baby's hips are supported correctly in an Ergo and it's more comfortable for both baby and mom (Baby Bjorns are snottily referred to by these people as "crotch danglers" because the baby isn't sitting properly and just hangs from the crotch)
Wearing Ergo on my back while 30+ weeks pregnant (left) and hiking in Yosemite with front carry (right)

5. BOB jogging stroller: Yes, it's expensive. Yes, it's worth it. For me, this is a must-have because of the ease of pushing it, and it makes it easy for me to get motivated to get back outside for a post-partum jog. It is so smooth and I can literally push the single BOB with just a fingertip (the double version is bulkier and still pushes beautifully but does require a full handgrip!). Only worth it if you plan on running, though. It's not the best choice as an everyday stroller due to the bulk. I'm not much of a stroller person for everyday activities (since I prefer to babywear), so this is a great choice for me since I tend to only use my strollers for oustide activities.  I do have a more compact, lightweight stroller (the Chicco Liteway) for Juliet now that she is older, that we use for trips to the mall.
Taking Juliet out in the BOB (using Graco infant carseat)

6. Cloth Diapers: I am no longer cloth diapering because it turned out to just be too much work right now with our life circumstances. But for anyone who is interested in cloth diapering, my preference for diaper covers were the Thirsties covers, prefolds (through a diaper service since I hate doing laundry), and a Snappi. I love cloth diapering and think there are several benefits (to the baby and to the environment).
Audrey wearing the Thirsties cover

7. Pacifiers: Did you know that using a pacifier for a young infant actually can reduce the risk of SIDS? (see here).  My favorite types are the Soothie for the first couple of weeks and then transition to the NUK Genius.  It seems like pacifiers disappear into the same black hole that missing socks in the laundry go. I can't ever seem to find them when I need one so I have dozens around the house at any given time.  The standard type since it works and is easiest to find is the standard NUK but I prefer NUK Genius.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

my sweet dorothy and adorable zebra

Halloween is like 1,000,000 times more awesome with little babes to dress up!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Feeling heavy with grief for my mom this week. Anything that happens- whether good or bad, something to celebrate or something to struggle with - is punctuated by her death.

"Audrey smiled at me today!".  And my mom is dead.
"I walked 45 minutes to the park with the girls, and Juliet learned to go down the slide by herself". And my mom will never see her go down a slide.
"There are gourmet food trucks in the parking lot of Troy high school tonight." My mom would have gotten a kick out of that. She probably would have found it silly. But I will never eat a meal with her again.
"I'm tired, and want to curl up and take a nap but the babies are up and need mama". My mom was a napper. She slept on the couch in the living room. I will never walk in the front door to see her sleeping there again. She took her last breath in a chair in that same room. We were all surrounding her, crowding up that room with our sorrow; I was at her feet. The chair just sits there now, punctuated by her death.

I miss you, mom.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


nourishing my spirit: I had a really lovely day. Juliet surprised me once again by doing incredibly well in the nursery so I could enjoy my mom's group (MOPS) all morning. I felt like I could really nourish my spirit and connect with the other women I sit with, instead of the usual stress of rushing in and out of the room to try and console Juliet, while also juggling Audrey. I just had a really great morning of feeling refreshed, and inspired, and perhaps nourishing some new friendships. (lesson: As it usually turns out, the girl that I thought was a stuck up, judge-y type turns out to be really kind and probably was just shy.)

nourishing my body: I felt very inspired by the comments left on my last post, so thanks! I have made an effort since last night to prepare easy but nutritious meals. I am realizing that the reason I feel especially overwhelmed by this journey is that I am not just preparing one meal per day (dinner).

I am preparing breakfast for Juliet + Me, then lunch for Juliet + Gary + Me, then dinner for Juliet + Gary + Me.  (Oh, and feeding Audrey about 8-10 times per day as well!) It's just a lot of food to figure out. And a lot of dishes to wash, and so on. (I know that most women with families do this, but it's just a learning curve for me! My goal is to start sitting down on Sunday and plan out a menu for the week.) But I was blessed that our Moms group activity this morning (we have discussion + speaker + craft) involved creating a meal. I am going to just be blunt and say that the craft time at MOPS is usually incredibly cheesy. If I were in charge, I'd eliminate the craft portion all together. Who needs a votive candle decorated with rhinestones? I know I don't. But this morning, we created "Chili In a Jar" which was intended to become a fall gift for your kid's teacher or something. But since I didn't have a meal planned for tonight, I used it myself! So today looked like this:

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs and spinach, Juliet (she eats eggs every morning.); Latte and oatmeal, Me
Lunch: Goat Cheese Ravioli from Trader Joes with leftover stir fry chicken and veggies for Juliet; Subway sandwiches for G + Me
Dinner: Chili with Lean Ground Turkey


It's 9:30 and my girls are both asleep. Gary is playing basketball with some friends tonight so the house is quiet, and I feel a rare moment of peace and calm. I'm off to bed.

nourishing the mind: After an 8-week post-partum hiatus, I'm back to reading real books instead of just trashy magazines. I just started reading Water for Elephants and loving it already. Anyone have a book to suggest for me once I finish?

Monday, October 17, 2011

2 months of darling Audrey

Audrey is 2 months old today! She is my sweet darling, and is very generous with her smiles. It's amazing what effect just one smile from my child can have on my day.
I'm 2 months and adorable!
Here is what 2 months is like in my world:

Audrey doesn't like the car seat, just like her big sister. She rarely makes it more than 5 minutes in the car without crying. This makes for very stressful car rides for me. Depending on the length of the trip, I pull over to take her out & calm her, hop out to try to soothe her with a paci,or just keep going and drive a little faster. Going to the grocery store can become an epic stress. We are driving 6 hours to Turlock this weekend and I am praying she will just sleep, because otherwise it's going to be a looooong drive!

Here are the girls in a rare quiet moment in the car (yes, I still rear face Juliet and will do so until 2 years...yes, I know she will be happier once she faces front, but I'd rather she stay alive than happy, so rear facing it is!):

Pediatrican visit:
Audrey is a healthy peanut, and weighs 11 lbs 3 oz (60th %) and is 22 inches (35th %).  I told her ped that I only want to do 2 vaccinations per visit, despite there being 5 (5!) on the schedule for her checkup. I could see the doctor, whom I otherwise like, barely contain her eye roll at me. She probably figures I am some blind follower of Jenny McCarthy. Whatever. Would YOU want to get 5 shots at one time? I sure wouldn't, so why would I do that to my baby? I don't really care if it inconveniences the doctor or clinic for me to space out her shots. I'll take the eye rolls. My kid, my choice. Both my girls will be fully vaccinated, but the way I want to, thankyouverymuch.

This is what I fed my family for dinner last night. Frozen fish sticks and mac 'n cheese.

I am not proud of myself. In fact, I'm so ashamed that I almost kept it a secret. I am so tired by dinnertime that preparing healthy meals is just so overwhelming.  Dinnertime also happens to be the  most chaotic part of the day, when both girls are awake and Audrey is starting her evening fussies.  I literally do not have free hands which is why it is so tempting to feed something out of a package. Even the process of cooking the fish in the oven was tough, since Audrey needed to be nursed and Juliet wanted to "help" by trying to reach into the oven, and so on. It's true chaos.

I need ideas for easy, healthy meals that the whole family will eat. I want to make healthy food a normal part of my family routine. It is very, very important to me, and yet I am really failing. I had no idea until I had kids how difficult that goal would become. If anyone has  real, practical advice or recipes, I would love to hear them!

Friday, October 14, 2011

pregnancy amnesia is real :)

I kind of miss being pregnant today. I miss feeling my baby move and kick, miss having her so close to me and safe from the world. It's nice to be "just me" again, and free of all the discomfort, but I really do love being pregnant even though I'm sick most of the time! Someone feel free to remind me of how much I complained while I was actually pregnant! Only 8 weeks later and I'm already starting to forget...oh my!

My friend jenna took some lovely maternity photos for me. I don't have the digital copies yet but I snapped a pic of a couple of them with my phone to give you an idea. It feels so long ago that my belly was that big!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

everything looks better with a good night of sleep

the title pretty much says it all.

Audrey slept well last night.  She settled in for bedtime at 9:30 pm, woke at 3 am and 6 am to nurse, and otherwise slept through with minimal grunting. I feel like a million bucks.

Incidentally, I think the bad nights of sleep were related to her constipation-- it's really amazing how much young infants are ruled by their digestive systems. Contentment is pretty much contingent on three things: food, pooping, and snuggling close to mama.

snuggling with mama

We are having a good week. I don't really have any deep thoughts to share but I do want to share how proud I am of Juliet!  She stayed in the church nursery for the entire 2 hours this morning while I was at my leadership meeting for MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers).

This is a huge step for her, because she generally hasn't been able to stay in the nursery at all without going into a full-on panic and inconsolably screaming for me until the nursery worker comes to retrieve me. I still refuse to force her to "cry-it-out" in these situations, since I believe that she needs comfort instead of discipline...but it has been an extremely stressful situation for both her and me, and such a relief to know that she may be getting to a point of being comfortable with being away from me on these rare occasions. I am perfectly okay with having a daughter who may need a little extra mama time than the other kids, but I am also feeling grateful that she did so well this morning!

My baby is growing she is learning to climb up the slide at my friend Jenna's house yeserday!
up the slide!
That's about it for now. I am looking forward to all of the fun Halloween events we have coming up. How about you?

too busy to blog!

Just wanted to check in real quick to say that I am still blogging here, but simply haven't had the time or the hands to do so lately.

Full hands = Full life.  And I certainly have both right now!

(p.s. Don't worry- I adjusted Audrey's head after this photo was taken, I know she looks a little funky here!)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

vent: why won't she sleep?!

aah, the perennial parenting complaint!

(I am still typing one-handed, so excuse my punctuation.)

Audrey is challenging my stamina. She did not sleep last night until 2 in the morning. I swaddled her, un-swaddled her, bounced her sideways, bounced her upright, rocked her, lied down in bed, sat up in bed, sat in a chair, was quiet, was loud, turned the lights down, changed her diaper, nursed her, wiggled the pacifier, put her back in bed, put her in the cosleeper, and then did it all again. All night long.

She finally fell asleep at 2 in my arms in bed, but woke up again an hour later. And we did that all night long until we started the day. (Gary thankfully  did breakfast time with Juliet so I didn't have to be "on" until 8 am...thanks sweetie for that.)

I am so tired and worn out. I know it's such a parenting cliche, but it's really, really hard to have an active toddler demanding so much of me from 7 am to 7 pm, and then a restless infant demanding so much of me in the evening hours. There is absolutely no downtime. I guess the time it took to type this could qualify as my downtime (juliet is nappig), but even now, I have a baby in my arms. I love this life, I love my babies, but I'm tired.

Future mamas: See this swing? Do not buy it. Do not believe the hype on the Amazon reviews. It's worthless except as a safe seat to very quickly place a baby so you can pee. It has failed to soothe either of my girls.  They cry within 2 minutes of realizing they are in it, and it has never rocked them to sleep.(Fisher Price Little Lamb Cradle N Swing)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

rainy day

The seasons are changing. It's a quiet, rainy day. I am holding Audrey as she naps so don't have two free hands to type. Here is our rainy morning in pictures.

(view from the window)
(tiny feet)
(my pretty cactus)
(finally taking a paci, thank goodness!)
(mountains and mountains of laundry)

(playing with my baby)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

On exercise

I took my first post partum jog today. I took the girls out in my massive BOB dualie, and Ellie also came with us. We must be a sight to see (I wish I could take a photo)- I barely fit on the sidewalk with my Hummer of a stroller and a dog! It was a short outing, only a mile over to my dad's house for a visit, but even that short amount of time got the endorphins going. And pushing 30+ lbs of baby adds to the exertion!

I have a much different outlook on exercise and weight loss now than I ever have before. It's a little bit embarrassing to admit this, but it took thirty one years for me to really figure out that the whole reason for exercise is to keep my body healthy and in working condition, so that it keeps working well for me for a really long time.

So for the first time in my life, I am exercising for a real purpose unrelated to vanity-- so that I can live a long time. Not so I can be a size 2, or fit into cute clothes, or have nice definition in strapless dresses. Sure, those are nice side benefits. But mostly I want to be able to grow old in a healthy way, so that I can see my kids grow up and have babies of their own.  So that my heart keeps ticking, my lungs keep breathing, my legs keep getting me to where I want to go.

I think a lot of this thinking is related to my mom's illness and passing. There was absolutely nothing that my mom could have done to prevent getting a brain tumor. But if there is anything that I can do to prevent illness in my body, to prevent having my kids have to say goodbye to me too early, then damn right I am going to do it.  It's not about vanity anymore.  I'm not at a point yet where I can say, "Man, I love the stretchmarks on my stomach" but I can say that I feel amazed that my body has brought life into this world on 2 occasions, and I'm feeling ok that the skin on my stomach may not ever look the same again. I am grateful for this vessel that holds my soul-- finally, after 31 years!

Maybe this is what growing up is all about.

(Can't figure out why it's sideways. Here I am, 6 weeks post partum.)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Saturday smiles

The smiles are the best part of this stage. And I am lucky to say, that Audrey smiles a lot!

(Audrey Kimberly, 6 weeks 3 days)

Sidenote: I think that Audrey looks a lot like I did as a newborn. Given that Juliet was the spitting image of Gary, I think it's only fair that Audrey resemble me a little bit. It looks like she will inherit her daddy's blue/green eyes, though, just as Juliet did- which is fine by me! They are the "Micelli" eyes of Gary's grandmother. (hard to see the color of her eyes in this photo due to the photo finish, but they are currently a deep blue just like Juliet's at this age.)