Thursday, December 16, 2010

Time, where have you gone?

This has nothing to do with the holidays, but holy moly, I have no time--for anything. WHY WHY WHY? I am a stay at home mom. I have my mom, my inlaws for help and they help a lot. My husband is a very involved father. There are a lot of families who are clearly busier, with more commitments and less help and they seem to have it together. Where are the hours in the day going? I have two things I do every day--I take care of the kids and I make meals, including home cooked dinner 6 days a week. I have two activities outside the home--a bookclub and I am on the Board of Directors for the local Children's Museum. In the last 6 months, I have read exactly one book and I have attended one Board meeting. I barely update my blog, I don't exercise, I don't watch any DVRed TV shows, I don't chat on the phone with my friends. I certainly don't have time for hobbies, that is just a joke.

I think for me the change has been the birth of Lacey and then the long period with sleep deprivation. She still wakes up 3 times a night crying, but settles down herself within minutes. Why is she still night waking at nearly 15 months??? I digress, but I forgot how consuming it is to have a mobile baby who can't really communicate, who doesn't understand logic or follow directions, who pushes me away from the kitchen counter every time I get near it. She is active, into everything, stubborn, but cute as hell. I cannot take my eyes off of her for a second. I spend her naptime cooking dinner and when my inlaws watch Lacey one day a week, I have SO much to do and catch up on that those 4 hours just fly by--the extra stuff, the fun stuff, the stuff for ME just gets pushed to the bottom of the list. We generally eat dinner after Lacey is in bed and then its a crunch to get Lana bathed and in bed. Then the dishes, making Lana's lunch, taking my shower and I plop down on the sofa with Bill for an hour before we need to get to bed.

I miss having energy, goals, hobbies, a To Do list that was do-able, a neat and tidy home. But really I have nothing to complain about b/c I have a pretty cushy life. I appreciate that, I really do! I just wish I had enough spare time to catch up on things, not feel so discombobulated. Maybe when Lacey goes to school in 2 years I will get back to my bookclub, writing grants, organizing photos, having a hobby and maybe, just maybe one day I will fit in some exercise. That would be one of those hell freezing over kind of moments, but I am still putting it on my list.

I know this complaint is not unique to me, and certainly there are other moms with WAY more on their plate, but I do notice that other moms seem to have other stuff going on in their lives. Maybe they just don't need as much sleep as I do, or maybe I am just a lazy bones. Maybe I just forgot what its like to have a baby around and I just need to chill until she gets a bit older and can be more independent.


In other, non-whiny news: Lacey is approaching 15 months old and has recently had developmental explosions! She is walking so fast now, climbing everything (yikes!) and can understand SO much of what we say to her.

Her words are:
Nana (Lana)
Baw (ball)
Doe (door)
Boe (bowl)

She can point to her nose, eyes, teeth, tongue, hair, belly button, toes and hands upon request.

If you say, "Its time to go pick up Lana from school." She will walk to the door, pick up her jacket and stand there.

If she wants a snack and you ask her to go find her bowl, she will return with bowl in hand.

She blows kisses, waves and is obsessed with pointing out pictures in those First Words books. The thing is, Lana thinks its funny to teach Lacey the wrong words--i.e. if Lacey is pointing to a duck, Lana will tell her "horse, Lacey". Sneaky little thing!

This is totally a fun age, despite its demands.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Show Me the Mommy

Just took this photo after nap, when Lacey is semi-cooperative and not taking everything out of the pantry and flinging it all over the room (her latest obsession). Oops, got to go, flinging has commenced...

Friday, December 3, 2010

Show Me the Mommy, Thanksgiving Edition

Okay, so its not the best photo ever, but not only is there one mommy, but three mommies! Look at these 3 generations of women/girls with big, happy, grateful smiles on their faces! (Not to exclude my father-in law--he is pretty fantastic too). We had a wonderful, low-key Thanksgiving. I put out a delicious meal (if I do say so myself)--even the vegan pumpkin pie was tasty. But the best part was when we went around the table to say what we are thankful for--Lana went first and melted my heart when she said, "I am thankful for my mom and dad, Lacey, Grandma Dianne, Amma and Gong Gong and that we are all healthy and happy forever." Really that is it in a nutshell.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The memories are in the details

Monday was my dad's birthday. I should have visited his grave, but I didn't. It makes me happy to talk about him, to tell stories, look at photos, to remember him, but driving to that cemetery and looking at the grave marker is too difficult still. I wonder if it will ever get easier. Probably not. I am still trying to figure out where I should hang the oil painting of my father, so for now I have it propped up on our buffet. Every time I pass it by, I feel like he is here in a way, in the house, watching all of the comings and goings of the kids and I. That sounds weird when I write it out, but to me that painting conveys his presence in our home and our family.

I have been thinking a lot lately about how lucky I am to have had him as a father. Not everyone has a dad who is such a loving soul, a friend, a supporter. He was a wonderful person. Everyone who knew him would agree. Its funny too, how you remember someone dear after they are gone. Its not the big life events that are with me everyday--its the littlest details. Here are some things that have been on my mind lately:
  • Dad always had dry skin and his hands were so rough. He hated lotion and it would be a battle to get him to put something so "greasy" on his hands. If he gave you a hug, or brushed his hand on your knee or shoulder, it would make a scratchy sound. I think about this when I rub Lacey's back when she is wearing a fleece PJ and I hear my dry hands making that sound too.
  • Dad's car was his office, he drove a lot for work. He would get very irritated with repetitive sounds--change clinking in the tray in the car, a plastic bottle rattling in the cup holder. He also had a very elaborate nail clipper with scissors, tweezers, etc. in his car. Apparently hangnails were annoying as well.
  • My father loved to watch football, dressed in his around the house uniform--a sweatshirt, jeans and slippers. He also loved cooking shows and when I was growing up (i.e. before HGTV) This Old House.
  • Dad always enjoyed a cocktail after 4pm, when he was done driving for the day. A southern comfort manhattan. He would drink some, then add some ice. Often more than once. I used some leftover southern comfort I had for my candied yams this thanksgiving. They kicked ass. Its weird, but the sound of the ice in a glass--the "clink clink" reminds me of him.
  • Thanksgiving was always my father's favorite holiday (mine too). He always made corn chowder to start the meal. My dairy allergy prevents me from carrying out this tradition. After I moved away from home, Dad and I always tried to get together around Thanksgiving b/c both of our birthdays are in November. He helped me pull off my very first Thanksgiving dinner in my studio apartment in Chicago--the one with the kitchen the size of an airplane's kitchen. We always braved the crowds together the next day and did Black Friday Shopping. He would hold the bags and run them out to the car (and probably sneak a cigarette--damn addiction).
  • Dad loved soup, any kind, but especially clam chowder. In fact, he loved shellfish--shrimp, clams, crab, lobster, oysters, scallops. Dad loved to snack--cheese and crackers, crab dip, shrimp cocktail.
Its funny the things that trigger memories, so strong and palpable. They make me smile, but they also make me miss him and wish he could come back. Part of me feels like if I don't record the details of my father, maybe my memory will become fuzzy over the years and I will lose the ability to access any more than just photos and the big life events that Dad was a part of.

Last year, we celebrated the holidays with a bit of sadness, as it was the first year without Dad. This year, I feel happier--it is less raw I suppose, but I feel very focused on remembering him in a very specific way and I also am overwhelmed with gratitude for the person he was and how lucky I am to have had him for my father.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thoughts off the top of my head

I have never done a randomness/magoomba/gumbo post, which is kind of funny b/c I feel like I live my whole life a bit scatterbrained. So here goes, in no particular order:

  • I have the best husband ever. He took me out for my birthday to a fancy restaurant, complete with a sommelier, aka, "wine dude", as I like to call him, who really made the meal fun by pairing a half glass of wine to exactly enhance each course. Wow, it was pure luxury! But what makes my husband the best husband ever is that he had a photograph of my dad holding Lana made into an oil painting. This was hands down the best gift I have ever received. Its so realistic, capturing the essence of my dad, not to mention the roundness of Lana's face when she was a year old.
  • I am obsessing about Christmas gifts--not the kids', but the extended people--what to buy, when to ship, when to shop without distraction (haha, that's a good one). I have very few ideas this year.
  • I am looking forward to Thanksgiving, its my favorite holiday. I don't really like turkey, but I love the side dishes, although mashed potatoes do not taste good without dairy. But the best part of Thanksgiving is the sentiment of gratitude. So so so much to be grateful for.
  • I wonder when I am going to stop being a hypochondriac.
  • Lana has been so lovely lately. She is fun, animated, funny, my mini-friend. I do wish she would wait until I have had some caffeine before she starts with the incessant talking.
  • Lana talks louder since starting pre-K. Even when I shush her, she is still so loud. Between the loudness and the nonstop nature of the talking, sometimes I check my ears to make sure they are not bleeding.
  • I feel like I have no time for anything. But I hate how at the end of the day the house is still a mess and I have crossed nothing off my list. What am I doing all day? Besides making dinner, breakfast and lunch too, cleaning up those dishes, picking up random clutter, keeping an eye or two on Lacey and driving an hour twice a day for preschool dropoff/pickup. Sigh.
  • I have about 100 pages left in The Help, which I hope to finish before bookclub. It will be the first book I have read for bookclub in about a year.
  • Lacey is walking full-on, really well! She doesn't have as many injuries as Lana did when she learned to walk, thankfully. She is much more hesitant and deliberate about her movements. She also likes to throw a ball.
  • We tried to get photos done for our holiday card, but both girls had super snotty colds so we canceled. I like to try to get holiday cards done in November b/c December is always so crazy. It is nothing short of miraculous that I didn't get said snotty cold. I was downstream of every sneeze and cough and the girls used my shirt as a tissue on many occasions. I think this is the first disease that the kids had that I didn't catch. Unreal.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Baby Steps

Make photo slide shows at

Lacey has been walking with help for a while now, but when you let go of her, she has been dropping to the floor so she can crawl. She crawls so fast and she loves it when you chase her. When you actually catch her she just laughs and laughs. While I am in no huge hurry to have her walking and tearing up the house, it does get a little tiring to be carrying her everywhere and not being able to put her down for a second while I pay for something at a store for example. She is heavy and although she loves being carried in the Ergo, my neck does not love it. Ah, aging.

Last week when we were getting the girls dressed after their bath, Lacey finally took her first steps! So, we pulled out the camera. Try to ignore the mess in her room and the goofy expression on my face. It is kind of amusing b/c even though this is all about Lacey, Lana tries to get in on the action.

Milestones are fun!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Show Me the Mommy

I am finally playing along with Show Me the Mommy on Fridays. I am almost never in photos, so I had to do the whole hold arm outstretched and shoot thing. Lana is making a funny face and is dressed up as a fairy ballerina, but for once this isn't about her--HA!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Halloween 2010

I better hurry up and post this before Halloween turns into Thanksiving!

We took a family trip to the pumpkin patch this year on a very sunny fall day and I was hoping to get some awesome photos of the kids. The problem was that both kids were so into looking at the pumpkins that neither one of them could be coaxed into looking at the camera for even a second. This is the best we could do:

We were in Phoenix for my cousin's wedding on Halloween weekend, arriving home around 5pm on Halloween night. Lacey was spent, so we gave her dinner and got her to bed by 6:30, so no Halloween for the baby this year. Not like she cared. Then Lana got all decked out as Mulan and I took her trick or treating, just the two of us. I have never taken her trick or treating--usually Bill does it. I had no idea how much fun it would be! Every time she got a piece of candy, she stopped on the sidewalk and asked me to shine the light from the flash light into her basket to see what she got. She was so thrilled with every piece of candy. When one (or 3) of the houses handed out a FULL SIZE BAR (!!!!!!!) she almost fell over. We tried to stay away from scary houses and after a while she said she was ready to go home b/c she had enough candy in her basket. It was fun for me to see her so happy. I love this age--she is so pure, everything new is SUPER cool. I loved walking hand in hand through the neighborhood at night, seeing all the other families enjoying their kids too.

The next day I put Lacey in her Halloween costume (notice I didn't even clip the tags) and took a few photos. I feel bad that I bought that costume and she never even wore it, especially b/c we already had a duck costume handed down from Lana that we could have used. Talk about waste of money! But here is my adorable little pink butterfly:

All in all it was a good Halloween, albeit busy. I do really love fall around here. Its been sunny (for the most part) and crisp. The air smells so good and the leaves are so vibrant. I love pulling out my sweaters and drinking a warm beverage. Last year Lana was too sick to go trick or treating in the rain, so it was extra fun to participate in the festivities this year. The only downside to Halloween is the full-on negotiations about how many pieces of candy per day Lana can consume. She doesn't even care about the chocolate--only the skittles, nerds, etc. It kind of sucks too b/c I can't eat any of the chocolate due to my dairy allergy, so its just sitting there taunting me. But I have discovered the hard way that under no circumstances can candy be consumed after 5pm or Lana gets too jazzed up to sleep.

All the pumpkins have been put away and I am now planning my Thanksgiving menu, but what I am really excited about is Christmas. Now that our house is done, I want to decorate! Knowing how busy our family has been this fall, my goal for the holidays is to slow down enough to enjoy it. We will see how that one goes.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Goodbye dear Grandpa Jim

Three weeks ago my beloved Grandpa Jim passed away. He was my maternal grandfather and since I grew up with my grandparents living 5 minutes away, I knew him well and I loved him very much. My grandpa's given name was Nazzareno, but he had many nicknames: Naz, Nick, Nicky, Jim, Jimmy, even Jr. He was always Grandpa Jim to me. Grandpa Jim and Grandma Rita have been married 61 years (!) and raised 3 kids together, my mom and her 2 brothers.

Grandpa Jim was sick, he was exposed to asbestos on the job years ago, which scarred his lungs and he has been deteriorating slowly for years. He required oxygen tanks 24/7 just to breathe and his mobility became less and less because of his decreased lung capacity. It was a slow decline filled with anxiety about each breath and all the while his mind was intact, which was both a blessing and a curse. This last year he suffered greatly and my poor grandmother was his dedicated caretaker, which of course is not an easy job, physically or emotionally, especially for a woman in her mid-80s.

Grandpa Jim lived a full life. He built his own house in the 1950s. He drew the plans and built the house. He did this on the weekends or after work during the week. Remember, there was no Home Depot or Lowes back then, can you imagine? He worked hard, he enjoyed his family and he was always smiling. He had a lot to be proud of, but he was incredibly humble. One thing that you hear time and time again from people who knew my grandfather is that he never and I mean NEVER said a negative comment about anyone, even if they deserved it.

My grandparents visited us here in the NW twice since we moved here. Once when Lana was 2 years old and once last year, when I was just weeks away from delivering Lacey and a few days after my dad passed away. Each time they visited, they got to see a new part of the country and spend some fun time with Lana. I could see it in my grandparents' faces what a blessing it is to live to see your great-grandchildren. I only wish my grandfather could have met Lacey too. Here are some of my favorite photos of this time:

Two weeks ago, my mom and I flew to Florida for my grandfather's funeral. I left the girls at home with my in-laws and Bill so that I could be there undistracted. My grandmother seemed to be holding up remarkably well, although she could not get past those last few days of his life and his final moments. The funeral itself was small, intimate and our entire small family was there to lay him to rest. It was sad, but beautiful too. At the dinner afterward, everyone took turns sharing their favorite memory of Grandpa Jim. Every family member took a turn. I couldn't do it. I regret not being able to share at the time, but emotionally the entire funeral was hard for me. I have lost two great men from my life in 14 months and it hurts. Anyway, since I couldn't share my memory at the time, here goes: The last time Grandpa Jim was visiting, he was playing with Lana, smiling and he looked to me and said, "The best years of my life was when my kids were little." That one sentence made such an impression on me. I think about it often, when life is so busy or the kids are driving me bonkers, I try to remember that these are the best years. Take a deep breath, enjoy these moments--look at their little faces, these are the best years. Thank you Grandpa Jim for this. It means so much to me. Rest in peace, breathe easier and say hi to my daddy.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Picky picky

First a vent: I have no time to blog. No time to reply to emails. Too busy. I don't like being quite this busy.

Okay, now that I have gotten that vent out of my system, I am planning a super frustrated whiny post. But I do so with the hope that my bloggyfriends will shed some of their infinite wisdom b/c I know I am not the only one.

Lacey's eating habits are making me crazy. Not only is she a picky eater, but she doesn't really drink that much either. She has been pulling the fake-out where I will give her a new food and she will eat it up like its the best thing ever. No sooner do I breathe a sigh of relief that she is actually eating something, that she will then reject said food and scream in her chair, pushing the tray away like I am feeding her poison. I know this is well-covered territory for moms of toddlers, but Lana was and is a great eater, so I haven't been paying attention to the discussion. I have however said to myself, "Self, you are lucky that Lana is such a great eater b/c if she wasn't, it would drive YOU crazy." Well, it is.

This is an exhaustive list of what Lacey will eat (most, but not all times offered):
cheerios or puffs
pasta--plain, no sauce, no butter
chinese rice porridge

Here is a list of SOMETIMES food:
sweet potatoes
white, oily fish, like sea bass or cod

Everything else is a NEVER food. You will notice that there is no meat and no dairy. She dislikes meat, even pureed or hidden in other food and she is allergic to dairy. Beans are also a no-go.

I am really struggling to put food in front of her 3 times a day only for her to push it out of her mouth or throw it on the floor. We thought, okay, maybe she is just not hungry, her caloric needs not high right now. But if she rejects a whole meal of even food she normally eats and then we bring out some fruit, she will eat like she is starving to death. I know people say, she will eat when she is hungry and if she doesn't eat dinner, she will eat breakfast. Okay, but what about the night waking when she didn't eat dinner--she is probably hungry, so I have been obliging her with the boob. Sigh. Her poor eating habits are one of the reasons I am still breastfeeding b/c I am hoping she is getting from me a little protein and calcium to supplement her diet of simple carbs and fruit.

So I spoke to my pediatrician about it and get this--she referred me to a feeding specialist in case she has a sensory disorder. I just love it how every little pediatric weirdness gets a "diagnosis" these days.

So any advice or just, hey, I have been there would be helpful. I really thought that she was going to pull this crap at 2 years old, not at 1 year, so I think we are probably in for the long haul with the picky eater.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Calling all nerds...

I rarely get excited about a new toy or kid product that I get suckered into buying. Lana is the type of kid who doesn't really play with toys much. She needs people. She wants to do imaginative play, a board game, roll a ball down the hall or just talk my ear off. The only solitary, quiet thing she does is crafts and when she is in the zone, she is very creative and I am always amazed at how her brain works.

Because Lana is not great at playing by herself, she watches a lot more TV than I would like to admit. Luckily now that school is in session and she is in it all day, her TV time is limited, but we have a DVD in the car (something I never thought I would do) which helps keep her occupied during our 30 min commute twice a day to school. You are probably thinking--what a great opportunity to talk and interact! Turn off the TV! Let me tell you, for my own sanity and the safety of the other people on the road, it is best for her to be occupied. This way I am not turning around every 2 seconds for "mom, what's this, mom, look at what I am doing, mom, mom, mom, mom." She never asks good questions, just redundant ones like, "mom, do you love me? mom, why is the fruit stand still open?" Also, forget about it if you would like to have a conversation with another passenger in the car! Judge me if you will with the DVD in the car or you could just spend an hour in the car with Miss Talky Talk and you will see what I mean.

I have been getting sick of listening to the dialogue of the same Disney movies over and over. I could do Mulan, complete with the songs verbatim, start to finish in my sleep. Princess and the Frog too, Sleeping Beauty, Wubbzy videos, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and don't even get me started on Elmo in Grouchland--its been about 2 yrs since she has watched it, but I know the whole thing by heart. Since Lana has been so inquisitive lately, I bought this to mix it up a little:I am not pushing science on her, by any means, but this They Might Be Giants CD/DVD got great reviews and she plays doctor often and asks me about my former job, she loves her science kit and we do fun little kitchen experiments, so science is kind of a common topic in our house.

I LOVE THIS DVD!!! She has been watching it in the car and it is so creative. It covers many different science topics, from the solar system to paleontology, evolution, photosynthesis, velocity, computer science, environmental science. It sounds heavy, but its done SO well--fun, creative, extremely energetic. Lana asks so many questions, questions I don't mind answering like:

"Mom, why is Ceres not a planet, but still in the asteroid belt?"
"Mom, what is the temperature of a rainbow?"
"Mom, do we live inside the earth or on top? Then why can't we see the other planets?"

She sings along to the songs and she is really into it. It was the letter H week in her Pre-K classroom and she told the teacher her "H words" were "hybrogen (hydrogen) and helium". Not only does she totally dig this, but I love it too--I am such a nerd. But I do enjoy answering these questions more so than explaining why it is impossible to fall in love with a handsome prince after only meeting him once and dancing one dance together. Come on, Disney, give me a break!

The only downside? The songs are so damn catchy, I can't get them out of my head.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My weekend adventure

I just went on a girls weekend getaway, nervously leaving the kids overnight for the very first time. But this wasn't just any girls weekend, this was like the Mother of All Girls Weekends--with girls I have never met in real life. Ah, this internet is a strange thing indeed and what was even more bizarre was when I told people where I was going for the weekend, I heard myself say, "I am meeting up with a bunch of women I met on the internet." And then I sounded like a weirdo.

The thing is, it wasn't weird at all. I began chatting with these women when I was pregnant with Lana via Babycenter, which I frequented often with my millions of questions and concerns about pregnancy. When Lana was only 6 weeks old, we moved across the country and I found myself a stay at home mom to a very colicky baby, with no friends, no support and I was in bad shape. My babycenter friends were my outlet, my support system. I know it sounds weird. The internet? Bad things happen on the internet. In actuality, good things also happen on the internet. I was lucky to meet Beth online and then in real life at during this time (since we were living in the same area) and we became friends, we had some fun get togethers and then a few months later we moved away, back to the west coast. Beth had a blog that I loved reading, so I decided to start one of my own.

But I digress, back to the weekend not being weird at all. Meeting my babycenter/blogfriends was so interesting! I really feel like everyone represents themselves on their blog just as they are. That authenticity made the meetup feel very comfortable. When blogging, most of us focus on stories about our kids. I so enjoyed hearing everyone's stories about themselves, their careers, their husbands, their journey to motherhood and their journey in life.

So we met in Vegas, although that seems pretty irrelevant b/c all we did was sit on our asses and talk, drink, eat and talk some more. Sounds boring for Vegas, but I assure you it was luxurious! A couple of days where I didn't have to cook anything, clean anything or fetch snacks, drinks, Hello Kitty and the like--now THAT is a vacation. I will say that these women actually did manage to get me into a club, yes a club with dancing and even though I didn't stay long, this is fairly miraculous in itself--I didn't even have dancing at my wedding, that is how strongly I dislike shaking my booty.

Laura has some great photos on her blog of all of our smiling faces plus her take on the weekend, so check them out, if you haven't already. Speaking of Laura, it was so great to finally meet her. She is just as I expected her to be. I really enjoyed talking with her--she is very open and warm, not to mention hilarious. I felt like she was an old friend, someone I haven't seen for a while but one where you just pick up where you left off. I love that she talks fast but is a great listener, that she is smart-funny, that she is thoughtful and driven and inspiring. Her boys are lucky.

Desi and I have been commiserating about our exactly-the-same-age baby who seems to be pulling exactly-the-same-crap at exactly-the same-time, over email and facebook, so we clearly have a lot in common. I loved meeting her husband and kids--they are all so adorably cute. I loved hanging out at her house and talking about our moms and childhood and career paths. Desi has a great sense of humor--it was like a laugh a minute with her! She is so smart and strong and friendly. It was just easy to hang with Desi.

It was so so so fun to see Beth again! Beth is just one of those people who is a good person. She is so kind, genuine, giving and open. She is opinionated, but not in a headstrong or judgemental way. I have seen Beth a couple of times now, after I moved back to the west coast, once when I visited my dad when he was sick and I always feel so lucky to know Beth because she is so real, there are no pretenses at all and she has a good heart. I know I will be friends with Beth for a long time, even if we don't see each other often.

Jenn organized the trip--she had an itinerary which she revised multiple times! This was like going to a conference. She also drove everyone around and made multiple trips to the airport. Thanks for all your work Jenn. I was interested in getting to know her better b/c prior to this trip I felt like I didn't know too much about her. Jenn is a very devoted mom, always looks so put together and has great stories. I loved hearing about Jenn's adventure when she lived in Japan for a year and managed the whole bank! She had never even been on a plane before that! That is brave and so totally cool.

Joanna is so funny. I love her sense of humor, which I was already aware of from reading her blog. I was very excited to meet Joanna in person. She is smart and witty and a great storyteller. There is nothing wishy-washy about her, she is sure of herself. I also love her accent. Now when I read her blog, it will have a "voice".

Lindsay is also someone I didn't know well prior to this trip, but I am so grateful to have met her. She is so very sweet and kind. I enjoyed hearing about how Lindsay met her husband and I loved that she watched college football in the cabana, actually rooting for her team! Lindsay is easy to talk to and makes you feel so comfortable. I would love to see Lindsay again and chat some more.

Rita and her friend Tenaya were so fun! They were both ready to party in Vegas! Rita is so confident, a free spirit, super extroverted. She describes everything with such passion. She makes beautiful jewelry. She has killer heels and party clothes. I am so different from Rita, but I can really appreciate all of her attributes. Plus she can stay out longer and have more fun than I ever did, even when I was in my 20s. When people tell me to relax, chill out and have more fun, I will channel Rita.

Bridget has the best clothes, so girly with flowers and bows. She is from the South and has that southern belle quality. I loved hearing her stories about her girls, especially how they interact with each other. I hope my girls can love each other like hers do. Bridget is a great storyteller too, so animated and funny.

Heidi is definitely my girl crush on this trip. She is one of those people that totally has it all together, makes it look easy, looks great, is super smart and confident. She has 3 kids and is in graduate school. Instead of complaining about how busy or crazy her life is, she says she makes it work and knows she is showing her kids that sometimes things are tough, but if I can do it, you can do it. Her kids will be awesome b/c she is such a great role model. She has a zen quality about her. I love that!

It totally amazed me that this group of diverse girls could just seamlessly spend a weekend together with no disagreements, and absolutely no judgement. I think it is so hard to find girlfriends, other mothers, that truly support each other without judgement, who embrace and accept you for your flaws as well as what you bring to the table. I loved this trip. It was fun, relaxing, interesting and just what I needed. When I came home, I felt so refreshed and invigorated, so maybe it was like a mommy conference after all.

Thanks all for a great weekend :)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Happy First Birthday Lacey!

Dear Lacey,
Today you are one year old! What a wild and wonderful year it has been since you joined our family. It has gone so fast! Wasn't it just yesterday that we brought you home from the hospital? You were so tiny, all 6 lbs 4 oz of you, that tiny little butt fitting right in the palm of our hands and your soft head with the fuzzy hair and the delicious baby smell that was so intoxicating. Oh sweet Lacey, you were so pleasant and content to sit and just watch the whirlwind of your big sister. Of course now you cannot just sit and watch, you are in the thick of the action, wanting to be everywhere Lana is, eating whatever she is eating, playing with the big kid toys, climbing the stairs (all 16 of them), crawling super-fast, ripping paper into tiny shreds which you then eat with mommy yelling--no no no! To which you respond with a smile, showing us your 4 little teeth. Lacey-lace (as we call you) you have our heart, you are so easy to love, you bring us so much joy.We haven't had a doctor's appointment in a while, but I am estimating you are about 20 lbs, you have a little bit of soft, dark brown hair that makes everyone think you are a boy even if I have you dressed in pink, you have delicate little fingers that you like to point to everything and say either "ah" or "up". I keep trying to teach you some words because I don't know what "ah" and "up" really mean to you. So far you say, "Mama", "Baba" and "Nana" (Lana). You love to take folded laundry or a stack of clean diapers and fling them all over the room, one by one. You love to crawl really fast to the bathroom and pull yourself up on the toilet (yuck) or the edge of the tub. You think its funny when I chase after you--you crawl faster and giggle. You are very curious, pulling on cords, trying to pull out the outlet covers, pulling on the nightlight, digging in trash cans. You love to play ball the most. If I roll a ball to you, you roll it right back. If Lana and I sit with you on the floor, we can roll the ball between the three of us for good long while (a few minutes, but still). You are not walking without assistance just yet, I think b/c you have decided you can crawl much faster.
Lacey, my dear, you are a little faker! When I brought you home from the hospital, you slept 4 hours straight every night and I said, "OH YAY! I think we have a sleeper!" Then at about 3 months old, you faked me out and turned into Worlds Worst Sleeper, which I have concluded is your natural pattern. When we started solid food--you ate robustly, but then all of a sudden you rejected everything you once ate. So I switched to homemade baby food, which was better. Then we gave you table food and once again you ate everything I gave you--pasta with meatsauce, salmon and pasta broccoli, homemade Chinese food, fish, meatballs. But a few weeks ago, you have suddenly decided that you only eat bread, pasta, sweet potatoes, carrots, fruit and tofu. That's it, no exceptions--no rice, no eggs, no green veggies, definitely no meat. Don't even try to mix it up. But you will giggle and wiggle if I even pick up the box of graham crackers--looks like someone has a sweet tooth :)
You are still breastfeeding (yay to me for that accomplishment!) and we are still up through the night once or twice. I love it when I pick you up and give you your giraffe lovey--you put your head on my shoulder and sigh and snuggle. Oh it is so sweet. I love how you hug back and that you are so quick to smile. I love watching you and listening to you. I know sometimes our house can be loud and busy, but I will always have the time to stop and listen to my littlest bug.
Thank you sweet Lacey for a wonderful year. We can't wait to see what this next year brings! Happy Birthday!

Monday, September 20, 2010

What we did on summer vacation Part 1

Summer is officially over here in these parts. Usually September weather still feels like summer (70s), but this year the brief summer we had has given way to rain, rain and more rain, with a little fog mixed in for variety. The rain actually doesn't bother me, but we all felt a little cheated this summer since it was cooler and wetter than normal. School is back in session (yay!) and Lacey and I are still trying to figure out how to get her to take decent naps in between dropoff and pickup. I have been frantically trying to get things done around the house--bigger projects like cleaning out the office, paring down the junk in our lives, deep cleaning things that have long been neglected. You know, fun stuff. My "To do" list is long and every time I cross something off, I have added 3 more things. But that is everyone's story, right? I do really love fall and after I catch up with these house projects, I plan to enjoy the crisp air, changing leaves, pumpkin patches and dairy-free baking!

Despite my focus on all of my fall activities and plans, we had a great summer. Lana and I had one special day per week when my inlaws watched Lacey. We did "big kid" stuff, like the public pool or the beach or the movies or the zoo, with ladies lunch first, usually at Red Robin or the sushi place with that awesome kids meal. Lana actually loved to sit at the sushi bar b/c "you can't do that with a baby!" She really did love and appreciate the one-on-one time b/c she often said, "Thanks mom for bringing me here." We had some really really awesome special days and even if she doesn't remember them over time, I sure will. I also had a special day with Lacey each week which was nice as well. Lacey is pretty content to sit on the floor and play, although with 2 naps a day its not like we were out and about too often. She is a happy little thing and even if she is a crappy sleeper, she is so easy to love and snuggle and smile at. That kid melts my heart. In just 8 days she will be ONE!!! I can't believe it.

Back to summer. In addition to our special days, we tried to enjoy every ounce of sunshine--we went to the splash park, the regular parks, we took walks in the neighborhood and we ate outside on our brand new deck every night. We had fun playdates with friends and we went to Jetty Island a few times.

Two big things we did this summer: 1) We took a big, 2 part vacation and 2) We did a big, loud, massive remodel.

Part 1 of our vacation was to Cape Cod where we met up with some close friends from Boston who have a 2 year old daughter, Elyse. Lana and Elyse had so much fun playing in the sand, searching for shells and sharing a room. Bill and I enjoyed catching up with our friends, eating boatloads of seafood and watching our girls play together. We all rented a house which was a great thing to do with another family b/c it allowed us to prepare breakfast and cook up the clams we dug up for lunch. Plus, it was relatively easy for Lacey to get her naps while one adult could hang behind and relax. I say relatively easy b/c Lacey did not sleep well during this trip. But it worked out okay, she was in a pretty good mood most of the time. The only bummer with this trip was that Bill got food poisoning on the second night. I tell ya, its not a family vacation unless someone pukes. It happens nearly every trip. But he has a good eject button and once it was out, he was good to go. It was such a great vacation. I really felt Bill relaxing, which is not an easy thing for him. We had great weather, it wasn't too hot, but definitely warm enough to spend lots of time swimming and building elaborate sand castles. It felt good to have the family time and it was really nice to share the fun with our friends. It was also super nice for me b/c our friend Nancy did all of the cooking since I was always holding Lacey or trying to keep her out of trouble. A whole week of no cooking? Now THAT is a vacation for me!

Here's the real kicker--when we got home from our trip, I read Megan's blog about her vacation in Cape Cod. I emailed her, thinking, oh its impossible that we were both in Cape Cod the exact same week. But yes, it was true--our families were in Cape Cod the exact same week! AND we were about 10 miles away from one another! I can't believe we didn't know it ahead of time so that we could connect! How awesome would that have been??? Seren and Lana would have talked each other silly. Darn it!

So here are a few photos from our trip:

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Yeesh, I have been gone forever

Today is the first day of Pre-K for Lana! Here she is right before we left. It was raining, so we did the indoor shot this year. We tried to get Lacey to pose with her for a couple, but she was too busy chewing shoes and wouldn't sit still.

So I am back! I hope to have more time to blog now that I have one at home who naps, although PreK pickup is going to blow the PM nap. I am not sure if I am going to shoot for an early or late nap for Lacey, we will have to see how things go. Too bad she won't sleep in the car. Anyway, we had a nice summer, although the weather kind of was a letdown, but we made the most of it. I am hoping to do some retro-posts about our adventures this summer, but not today--today I am just catching up.

Lana was a bit nervous to go to school this morning. Last night she dissolved into tears about 100 times about all things not school related, but I could tell that she was just feeling some butterflies about school. I remember feeling that as a kid. Its funny b/c I remember being kind of sensitive as a child--nervous about things, scared of strange things. My mom says she never knew, that I never said anything about it. Lana is pretty open with her emotions and since many of them I can relate to, I tend to offer empathy and reassurance. Bill thinks I am feeding her anxieties, but I am just not the type to say--you are being ridiculous! Shake it off! But this morning went along without incident--we got up, had breakfast, got dressed and off we went to school.

When we arrived Lana sat down at the table which had a coloring page and a laminated name tag was on the table just above it. The teacher told her to write her name on her paper the same way it was on the name tag and that she could look at the name tag for reference. Lana grabbed a pencil and wrote her name on the paper about half way down the page. The teacher stopped by and told her to write her name on the line at the top that said "Name". She immediately said--"I was just practicing down here." I think Lana is a huge perfectionist. She told me last night that she is worried that she will make some mistakes at school and end up in the little blue chair (when kids have listening ear problems, that is where they sit). She said, "Mama, I am only 4, I am still learning things." I had to explain that nobody expects her to know everything and that she goes to school to learn new things and that everyone makes mistakes sometimes (even Mommys) and that if she listens to her teacher and doesn't talk sassy, she will not end up in the little blue chair.

Its bittersweet watching her grow up, gain independence, feel a little scared, send her off to school. I know its cliche and so expected, but I am happy and sad, all at the same time.

I am looking forward to catching up on things long overdue.

I also expect we will be sick by the weekend, b/c well, that's how school goes.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The homemade necktie

Whoa, I can't believe how long it has been since my last post. We just returned from a trip back east and I am hoping to find the time to get through our 600 vacation photos and post a few, but who am I kidding, I don't have time for anything this summer! We have been busy just living life, having fun and enjoying the summer as much as possible. It is amazing how busy we can be doing just this and that. With Lana at home (rather than in school) I literally have zero downtime. Lana spends plenty of downtime while I am feeding Lacey or getting her to sleep, but as soon as I have a minute free, Lana and I play or do big kid projects. Once she is back in school I hope to have more "me" time, when Lacey is napping of course. All is well, despite my absence from my blog!

A while ago Lana made Bill a "necktie" out of paper. She secured the vertical strip of paper to the part that goes around his neck with half of a marshmallow. Yes, a marshmallow. She has licked it a few times b/c, well, its tempting to get a little taste of sugar now and then. Its pretty gross now with some fuzz stuck to it, but she made this treasure just for her baba. It is decorated with some designs, an abstract pattern. Bill wears scrubs 2 days a week and a shirt and tie the rest of the days. Every day for weeks she has asked him, "Baba, when are you going to wear my tie to work?" He has told her he will, he promises.

Yesterday Lana noticed that the homemade tie was not on his nightstand. She told me she thinks he wore it to work! Well, when Bill came home for lunch yesterday, he walked in the door wearing the homemade necktie, fuzzy marshmallow and all. Lana was very excited and I was so touched that he actually wore it, even if he just put it on a second before he came in the door. Its that kind of thoughtfulness that is just so him. Lana wanted to know what his "work-friends" thought of the tie, to which he responded, "they all thought it was very fancy". I have always thought there are some men who were just meant to have daughters and as much as Bill wants a son, he is really very good at being a dad to his girls.

Here he is:

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The blind leading the blind

When we first brought Lacey home I thought Lana would be super jealous. Surprisingly, she seemed fine. There was no acting out, no aggressive behavior or mean statements about sending Lacey back. She wasn't exactly lovey dovey with Lacey, but Lana is not inherently maternal. She will tell you that she is not a hugger. I was so relieved that things were going so smoothly.

Lacey has just become mobile. She learned how to crawl this weekend and she absolutely loves to pull up to standing and walk with the push-type walker. This kid wants to walk and I predict it won't be long. Lana is not thrilled with Lacey's developmental milestone. Lacey is no longer the baby who will sit and play with baby toys. Now she wants to get all up in Lana's business. Lacey has been getting a lot of attention for her new skills and Lana feels left in the dust. I know this is all normal stuff, sibling stuff. But Bill and I are CLUELESS. We are both only children and neither one of us know the best way to handle Lana's feelings.

Just tonight she told me that she does not feel like she is number one anymore, that no one pays any attention to her and that today everyone yelled at her. She said that we all think Lacey came out of my tummy first. This is hard for me to hear b/c its true--everyone yelled at her today--her behavior was atrocious! She bit me, scratched me and kicked me in the face (we were playing, but still) and ended up in the corner. She told me she would never make me art or cards with my name on it EVER! It's true too that we all give a lot of attention to Lacey b/c geez if we take our eyes off of her for a second she will get stuck under a table or chair, pull the contents off the coffee table, get into something she shouldn't. But I try so very hard to give Lana my full attention when Lacey is asleep and we have a special day together, just Lana and I where we do something fun. I don't want Lana to ever feel like we don't value her and love her. I know it will be hard for the girls to get along all the time, but its my wish that they at least like each other. Lana is so kindhearted and good with her friends, I do hope Nurtureshock is right when they assert that kids learn how to be good siblings by interacting with their friends.

Part of me thinks that Lana is unjustified in her feelings of jealousy b/c we do give her a lot of attention, just not every second of the day. Part of me feels guilty that I can't give each kid all of myself all of the time. I think its good for the girls to grow up with each other, sometimes sharing the attention, sometimes getting special days. Its a learning process for us all. Bill and I could definitely use some tips and advice though!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Catching Up Again

I didn't mean to be gone quite so long! I have no real reason for being absent on my blog, other than just plain being busy with this and that. Last week was a little crazy because I had an all day meeting on Wednesday and it was the first time I left both girls with my inlaws for the entire day. Logistically, it is always a challenge because of communication/language barriers, but the thing about the second kid is that I am so much more laid back about EVERYTHING. If the schedule is screwy and she doesn't nap well or snacks too much and doesn't eat well at meals, really who cares, its one day and we will get back to schedule tomorrow. I did not have this attitude the first time around, incidentally. The girls (and my inlaws) did fine, I enjoyed my meeting and being off-duty for 8 whole hours, and all was right with the world. I will add that getting everything prepped for the day, hauling my pump and accessories with me and getting out the door by 7:45am was a little hairy and gave me a little peek at what it would be like if I was a working mom, so kudos to you all!!

The weather has been freezing. And rainy. Did I mention freezing? I know you all don't believe me because everywhere else in the country its HOT. July hot. But not here--we are talking 50s and low 60s. Brr. On July 2, I wore jeans, a long sleeve T and fleece! Unreal. Its been really annoying and has left me wondering if we would ever even wear short sleeves this summer, not to mention shorts. Well, today the tides have turned finally and we saw the sun! It was about 75 and sunny and beautiful! Lacey and I took a walk to the park. The rest of the week they are predicting 80s and even 90s?! Lana and I have plans to hit the beach. My inlaws have been watching Lana on Tuesdays and Lacey on Thursdays, so I get one day/week with each girl alone. Its working out great b/c Tuesdays are quiet baby time and Thursdays are adventurous, no napping, no diaper bag hauling days. I really feel like Lana needs this one-on-one time. She treasures it and so do I.

The best part about the long weekend was seeing Bill for three days straight. He has been working a lot and last weekend he was on call and had to operate, so it didn't even feel like a weekend at all. We did many fun things. On Saturday, we went to Whidbey Island and met up with some friends who live there. The boys went crabbing (and caught a bunch) and the kids played on the beach while the women chatted and looked after the babies. Bill is a fanatic for crab, especially when he catches them fresh out of the sound. Our friends are so lovely and welcoming, plus their kids play so well with Lana. It was a great day, capped off with beer and roasted crabs. Sunday we took my mom and the inlaws to the Zoo in Seattle. It was overcast, cool and it even rained a bit, but we just pulled on our fleece and went. It was so fun. I took Lana when she was younger, but she couldn't care less about the animals. This year, finally, she was into it! We had a great day and I got a ton of exercise walking all over the place with Lacey in the Ergo. Sunday night we decided to skip fireworks, mostly b/c I don't really like them, but also b/c the kids would be asleep by the time the sun sets at 10:30pm. Little did we know that our town changed the location of the fireworks launch which placed them literally right in front of our house. We sat on our bed and watched the fireworks! It was crazy cool. When they were over, we just shut off the lights and went to bed. No dealing with crowds, sitting in traffic, whiny kids.

So that's our 4th of July in a nutshell. Now we are ready for summer!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Maybe not the best advice

Yesterday was a rare sunny day, so the girls and I spent some time out on the front lawn, just enjoying the blue sky and playing in the dirt and grass. I swear it has been raining for a month straight, with one sunny day every 2 weeks or so. Plus, its so chilly--we have been in the low 60s on a good day, but this morning when I was going to the grocery store it was only 48! In June! I keep reminding myself that summer here is July-September and it will get nice, but June just is one big disappointment. Anyway, a neighbor was walking by with her friend and stopped to chat. My neighbor's friend has a daughter who is a senior in high school and is interested in science, biomedical research specifically, and my neighbor told her that I used to work in science, so she asked me for my opinion and any advice. First off, I think that mentoring is super important and if it weren't for the advice and support I received over the years, I never would have pursued my career to the extent that I did. So my first thought was 1) choose your words wisely 2) be honest and 3) don't sound too crabby. But, oh this is such a loaded question for me--how did you like being a scientist? Well, obviously, I am not one now, so you do the math. It did get me thinking about my path, as a scientist and now as a mother.

I always loved science. My crappy high school never had a science fair or anything like that, but I enjoyed science classes far more than any other subject. I majored in biology in college, thinking I would try to get into medical school, but I felt pretty intimidated and I have this whole fear of blood and vomit, plus I might need to like touch people, weird people in weird places--so medical school was out. I got a summer job at a cancer institute in my hometown in a research lab. I started off doing silly things like washing glassware and disposing of radioactive liquids, but I met and worked with a grad student (incidentally the author of Outnumbered Gal) and she taught me the basics of working in a lab. I loved it and she was a very patient teacher. I continued working in a lab back at college by getting an internship in the medical school and conducting my own project studying mechanisms of schizophrenia in rats. I had a great mentor, who really encouraged me to pursue a career in research. She was successful, yet happy and even seemed to have balance in her life. It looked like a good choice, plus I loved the work, even though I didn't really know what I was doing. I was so energized and excited (and naive) about it because the thought of doing world-class research with super smart people and making discoveries and contributions was just super cool, plus my whole career was in front of me. I really couldn't imagine doing anything else. So while all my biology classmates applied to medical school, I applied to graduate school and was accepted at nearly every program I applied to. I selected Northwestern and moved to Chicago.

I could write a book about my life in Chicago. It was one of those critical times in my life where good stuff happened and bad stuff happened, but overall it was the time where I gained true independence and grew into adulthood. As I began grad school and did rotations through different labs, I noticed that every single postdoctoral researcher I met was miserable. They may have liked science well enough, but they did not dig their job and they were quite cynical about the next step, i.e. moving on from being a scientist-in-training and becoming either a professor or a scientist in biotech/pharma. After they got their PhD, they worked as a postdoc for 2-5 years, for very little money and wow, they worked hard. Nights and weekends, long hours during the week. Many of these postdocs would even do 2 postdocs before moving on to the next step--yes, that is 10 years of post-graduate training. At the time, I was so confused b/c I was still so energized and excited about my career and I vowed to always be optimistic and to not become so jaded. After all, I chose this path.

I had a wonderfully supportive mentor and boss through graduate school. She was/is very successful who entered this field at a time when there were very very few women in science. The other thing about her is that she is a nice person and has other interests and hobbies, she is compassionate and funny. It was a pleasure to work for her. I learned so much from her. She is so important to me, both professionally and personally that she did a reading at our wedding. Anyway, my project was good. I made progress, published a bunch and graduated within 5 years. All in all, it was a good experience. It was also stressful. I always felt just a bit incompetant and inadequate, in over my head and the public speaking of giving seminars took years off my life--the anxiety I felt! I developed migraines, acid reflux, insomnia. Ugh, is any career worth that?

But, I had so much fun living in Chicago. I was in my early 20s and I had great girlfriends. I was in a long-term relationship that was not moving toward marriage, so I felt pretty carefree. I literally never thought about getting married and having a family and how I would fit all of it in with my career. If I had to come back to lab at 9pm for an experiment, it was no big deal--I lived close by and I had no other responsibilities. Looking back, I really did not think I would ever have children. Until my relationship ended and I met Bill. We fell in love quickly and it was intense. I suddenly knew we would get married and have kids. It was a wonder I got anything done at work during this time b/c I was so distracted! But just as quickly as our relationship began, Bill had to move to San Diego 6 months later to start his residency and I was left behind to finish up my PhD. I had about 2 years left, give or take.

After I graduated, I moved onto my postdoc in San Diego, Bill and I got married and we enjoyed our life in southern California. My postdoc was weird. I was finally in the same position as all the miserable people I met in grad school. I can't say I was miserable, but I did not have the same energy and optimism that I used to have. I still felt a bit inadequate, but I enjoyed the people I worked with (mostly). I was getting tired though. Tired of doing experiments that didn't work. Tired of writing all these grants for my boss. Tired of pretending my project was SO important, when really it was kind of boring, even to me. Speaking of my boss, she was as weird and inappropriate as they come--a huge contrast to all the mentors I had the pleasure of working with earlier in my career. But, I stayed 4 years, published a bunch and on paper, everything looked like I was moderately successful.

But the thing is, moderately successful doesn't really get you very far in science. To become a professor, you need to be uber successful and super dedicated in ways I will never be. There are very few positions available and a lot of postdocs who want those positions. Even getting a job in biotech/pharma isn't as easy as it used to be. You have to be willing to move anywhere to get the job and many if not most of these positions are not 9-5 types of jobs. I wasn't willing to move far away at that point. Bill and I had already been separated and by the time I was winding up my postdoc, I was pregnant with Lana. We were moving to Alexandria, VA for Bill's one year fellowship, so I thought I would stay home that year and then we will see if I want to go back to my career, depending on where we end up. I never went back and I don't really want to.

The biggest reason I am a stay at home mom is that I really enjoy being centered. I am never stressed out like I used to be. I have never had one night of insomnia since I stopped working. I don't feel torn between the kids and my job. I can't say every day is super fun, especially when the kids are sour and/or fussy, but overall, I try to enjoy them, have some fun, smile and laugh and make a decent dinner. My house is a mess, every closet unorganized, dirty dishes in the sink, but I don't care, I really don't. I'd rather play with the girls b/c that is why I am not working. I love sitting on the beach (if the damn sun would ever come out) on a Wednesday afternoon with Lana and I making a sandcastle. This is exactly why I am not working. If I was still a scientist, I would be bringing work home, doing literature searches instead of keeping this blog, writing papers and putting together presentations--all in the evenings. I would be feeling judged by my coworkers and boss for cutting out of work at 6pm so I could pick up the kids. Sadly, this persists in many environments in science, b/c working long hours is a badge of honor. I definitely don't miss the disappointments of experiments not working, grants not being funded and the constant criticisms/expectations. I definitely do miss getting a paycheck and the socializing with my coworkers. I suppose I also miss the intellectual aspect of my job, but frankly, I can read about new discoveries and understand research articles if I feel like it. But staying home is a good choice for our family b/c its good for me emotionally and health-wise and Bill's hours can be very long, so I am happy to provide the consistent schedule. I can't imagine us both having long hours--the kids would never see us.

So what did I say to this woman, whose daughter is interested in a career in science? I told her to come and talk to me if she wants to. I told her it was great when I was young, but its not very family-friendly and its hard to achieve balance. I hate to discourage and I really don't want to--I love to hear that young women are into science and math, but I also felt like honesty is important. I really feel like if its your dream, you gotta do it. I don't want to sound like those jaded post-docs. I really appreciate all of the mentoring support I received along the way and it was my dream and I did it. I just don't want to continue doing it b/c I feel like it will negatively impact our family life. I wish there was part-time or job sharing, but I have yet to hear of anything like that happening in this field. Ah, I just feel like I dished out some crappy advice to a young woman with her whole career ahead of her. I do hope she comes and talks to me, b/c its not a question I can answer in 2 sentences (obviously, this is quite the long post).

Monday, June 7, 2010

A first caught on tape!

Last night Bill was giving Lacey a bath and happened to have the video camera rolling when she did something special. No, she did not toot in the tub or anything like that. Bill was so surprised, he almost dropped the camera. Try to ignore his goofy raspberries at the start--she is really good at razzing, so we are always mimicking her.

What are the chances of catching a "first" or any milestone on tape? Oh man, this makes me laugh every time and I have probably watched it 30 times. Lacey looks so surprised! The funny thing is, she is not really a mover--she doesn't crawl, not big on rolling around--she is pretty content to sit and observe, which is why Bill almost dropped the camera.

What a week!

Whoa, last week was a doozie, but I am happy to report things are on the upswing now. It all started on the long weekend when Lana got a fever. It lasted 3 days and then she seemed fine, no other symptoms, so we chalked it up to a fever virus. Except then I got a sore throat on Sunday, and then Lana started coughing on Monday. And then my voice changed to that of a man and I was coughing up a lung. And then Lacey got the fever on Wednesday, followed by mucho boogers and coughing and well, the three of us were siiiiiick. Ah yes, seems like your typical cold, passed around the family, no big deal. This one knocked me out though for some reason.

On Tuesday when I took Lana to school, after we dropped her off, I witnessed a car accident, right in front of me. In fact, I was lucky that I didn't get hit. Luckily the person wasn't injured, just scared. It really rattled me though and I have been much more alert at the wheel.

On Wednesday-Friday, we had major construction going on in the house, as we had drywall hung and sanded, the temporary wall taken down, opening up our kitchen (yay!), and the floors taken out. They also took out our cooktop and oven, so cooking was sort of not possible. This was all very exciting, very very messy and VERY LOUD! We packed things up and went to my mom's apartment on Thursday when the drywall was being sanded, you know, so we could breathe and all. The timing kind of sucked though since we were all sick with coughing chest colds and I have asthma. Lana had a few meltdowns due to the noise and being stuck upstairs in my bedroom for hours at a time with only me and Lacey and some toys. It wasn't pretty and it wasn't a showcase for my best parenting moments. Between the sickness and this incessant rain, I am losing it! I need summer and I need it now.

We just got our new stove delivered and hooked up, so we are back in action, although the layer of dirt everywhere is kind of fun in a rinse-before-you-use kind of way. Our new space is going to be great. We will have an eat-in kitchen, storage for coats and shoes, a huge new pantry space that will also store craft supplies and the best: a big deck that gets afternoon sun, for eating outside all summer long, once the damn rain stops. I keep reminding myself its going to be great! Bill says to me: you know, we were dreading the kitchen being ripped out and all the mess and craziness and really its not so bad! My response: HUH? You go to work! You are not here all day, listening to the noise. Lana is like--mooommmm, I want a snack! No, not those snacks, the ones in the kitchen--whine whine. Yeah, the kitchen we have no access to?! Oh brother!

Anyway, the week ended on a good note--we got one day of sunshine which allowed us to garden a bit and be outside, breathing fresh air and soaking up some Vitamin D. Also, we had Lana's birthday party on Sunday at the Children's Museum. I kept it super simple--we ordered pizza and did a Costco cake and I brought a fruit salad. I even socialized with all of our guests and my brain didn't explode--almost though. I have a really hard time with kids' b-day parties b/c all of the noise--the kids talking, the parents talking, keeping an eye on my kid while trying to have a normal conversation--I get overstimulated easily. I totally know how to have a dinner party, but for some reason, kids' b-day parties are overwhelming. I think its the sheer number of people. Dinner parties tend to be smaller and I do better in smaller crowds. Anyway, I ramble. The kids looked like they were having fun, so that's all that counts. It was also cute to see Lana hang with her friends without wanting me to be two feet away from her at all times. That kid is growing up, I tell ya!

It was a good ending to a challenging week. I am super excited about this week. Tonight: preschool graduation. Thursday: last day of school! I am also hopeful that the sun might come out as well!!! Yay, summer!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy 4th Birthday Lana!

Dear Lana,
Today you turn 4 years old! FOUR!!?!? Officially, this is big girl status. Of course you will always be my baby, but you are definitely not a baby. On the day you were born, I had absolutely no clue what it was going to be like to be your mom. The doctors wrapped you up tight and brought you to me and I gave you a kiss on your cute, round cheek and instantly I fell in love. Our love for you has grown exponentially each day and I am so grateful for you and what you bring to our family. You are a treasured gift and I hope you always feel that way.

This has been a big year for you! I have seen you grow in so many ways. Just one year ago, you were so afraid to leave me to go anywhere--to your Amma's, to school. Now you have so much independence and confidence. When I drop you off at school, you just jump out of the car and wave to me as you walk on in. You tell me all about your day when I pick you up. Who was there, who was out sick, what everyone brought for sharing, who was the special leader, who you played with and what you learned about. You sing all these wonderful songs from school and you have a lovely singing voice. There is nothing better when you smile and laugh--when you find something SO funny. I especially like it when you say, "You're funny mom!" I try.

You love to play pretend. We play "Coming over to your house", "Camp Out", "Call me if you need anything" and "Tea party". You build elaborate pillow forts in our bed. You love to jump on the bed and have Baba play wrestling with you. You love to roll or toss a ball down our hallway and laugh hysterically when one of us misses.

You enjoy crafts and everything creative, including cooking and baking. I love it that you focus and concentrate so much when you are doing art. I also love your creations and drawings. You always write: TO MAMA and FROM LANA in all caps. You can write most of the letters in caps and some in lowercase. You impress me with all the information you hold in your brain and how you can say words like "acidophilis" with such clarity.

You are a happy and polite child. You always say hello to friends and teachers and you are so kind and considerate to kids and adults alike. This makes me proud.

This year you became a big sister. I honestly was a little worried about how you would adapt to having a baby in the house and how you would handle everyone giving her all kinds of attention. But you, being so mature and all, are very proud to be Lacey's big sister. I love watching Lacey smile when you walk into the room. I love all the help you give me, both with baby care and around the house. I love that you are always gentle with Lacey and that you want to teach her everything. She is lucky to have a teacher like you.

I hope you had a nice birthday this year, even though you weren't feeling well. When you woke up this morning, the first thing you said was, "Its my birthday! I don't feel four."

For these past 4 years, you have brought us immeasurable joy and happiness. I can't believe you are already such a big kid and I can't wait to see what this next year brings. How we love you, sweet Lana!

XOXO, Mama and Baba

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Gimme some earplugs

I know its a good thing that Lana has an extensive vocabulary, that she can pronounce very big words so clearly even a stranger can understand her. I know she has a lot going on in that brain of hers, that she is very creative, inquisitive and imaginative. These are great attributes and most of the time, we feel pleased and proud. But sometimes, for goodness sake I wish she would stop talking--for just a few minutes. Lana wakes up telling me all about her dreams--cool and interesting. This morning she came into my bed at 6:15am and proceeded to talk loudly and incessantly about phone numbers, while my eyes were still closed and I was barely conscious. Lana: "Mom, what is Miss Jamie's phone number?"
Me: (groggily and slurring my words): "I dunno, its on my pink phone."
Lana: "Mom, what is Auntie Mo's phone number?"
Me: "I dunno, its on my pink phone."

She kept it up for like 10 minutes asking me about everyone's phone number. Holy crap, I was wishing I could pull the covers over my head. The thing is, I am pretty used to her constant talking. I love our great conversations, her questions are priceless (although sometimes I feel like I am in the inquisition) and her observations make me laugh. But when she runs out of things to say, she just makes noise. When she is tired, she goes hyperspeed bonkers with the talking. When I am paying attention to Lacey--like if I am doing something indulgent like feeding her or changing her diaper, Lana just talks LOUDER.

I recently went to my bookclub and someone said they got rid of cable and I commented that I could not entertain that possibility any time soon b/c tv is the only thing that cuts the talking for a few minutes. Then I mentioned that I have the DVD in the car so that I can drive in peace safely without hearing, "Mom, look! Mom, let's play Simon says--mom, I can't see you touching your nose." My friend looked at me like I am the worst mom ever for using the tv to shut my kid up. But my friend has never spent a day with Lana. Sometimes when my inlaws drop off Lana after watching her all day, my MIL, who barely speaks English says, "Wow, Lana all day talk, talk, talk."

Most of the time the talking is a good thing, but some days when I am tired or I am just frustrated, I seriously need some earplugs. Imagine what this girl is going to do when she is a teenager and is always on the phone.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Feeling a little funky and clucked up

I am in a huge writing rut. I can't seem to find the energy and brainpower required to write complete sentences at the end of the day. I enjoy reading everyone else's blog, and I even manage to post comments, but when it comes to writing my own blog posts, I am just empty. During my busy days, I think about things I want to write about like the sucky things about not earning money, how to instill gratitude in the girls, how Lana is in a huge lying phase which is driving me bonkers, our magical trip to Disneyland and the Korean wedding we attended. But alas, at the end of the day when I finally get a turn to use the computer, all I can do is passively look at facebook, reply to a few emails and stare blankly at the tv. So I guess, I am in a funk of sorts.

I have been trying to curb the cursing out of my mouth. I wish Bill was on board b/c his cursing is ten times worse than mine. Lana, being the rule-follower that she is does not experiment with bad words b/c she knows they are bad words. She does however tell us not to "say that". So I have been coming up with alternative phrases for the common outbursts I have. Clearly Lana is paying attention b/c she was looking at my mom's feet which are in need of a pedicure and she says, "grandma, your heels are pretty clucked up." Indeed, clucked up is exactly how my brain feels at the end of the day. Hopefully, this phase will pass soon and I can get back to writing about the very exciting things I normally post about like sleep issues. Ha! Just kidding, what could be more boring than me complaining about how my baby doesn't sleep? Perhaps this is all related somehow...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Gifts from Lacey

I spend so much time complaining about how Lacey does not sleep that I feel like I often overlook all of her good points which totally and completely overshadow the fact that we are a bit tired. She has given me so many gifts and there are so many things, big and small that I love about her.

  • That smile! She smiles all day long. Especially when her Baba comes home. Sometimes I am a little jealous that she smiles the biggest for her dad, but I am glad mostly because he wanted a boy but got the world's biggest daddy's girl instead. He knows he is lucky indeed. Her smile now includes a tooth, which is so cute. She is so happy and so rarely fussy that when she is, I know its nap time. I really didn't know babies could be this smiley and happy.
  • She is content to sit and play with her toys on a blanket, in the Pack N Play, on the floor of my bedroom. Lana was never content to sit and do anything when she was a baby. No kidding, I am not remembering this incorrectly. Lacey likes to explore her toys with her hands. She doesn't immediately put things into her mouth. She loves to pick up, drop, go after it and repeat. I can see the wheels turning in her head. She doesn't get frustrated too easily either unless she belly flops while reaching for something and gets stuck. Such a happy little bugger!
  • I love Lacey's hands--the 4 little dimples over her knuckles, the pudgy wrists--ooh, I could just eat them up. I also love the bottoms of her feet. Her tushie is pretty cute too, unless it is stinky.

  • I know I have covered this before, but it never gets old: baby giggles. Enough said.

  • When you hold Lacey, she hugs you back. Love it!

  • Lacey has given me the gift of confidence. I was a stress case when Lana was a baby. I didn't know what I was doing. She didn't seem happy. Lacey rewards me every day with confidence that I can do this--I can face each day with happiness and joy. I meet her needs and the needs of the family and I can do it without having a nervous breakdown. Plus, she is growing, pudgy and happy. Its a gift to be her mommy. There is not a day that goes by that I don't think this very thought.

  • Lacey has also given me the gift of healing. She was born 4 weeks after my dad died and I know if she hadn't joined our family, I would be in a lot worse shape. It is amazing how a new life helps to heal the hole in my heart. I recently went to a funeral for my neighbor's 100 year old mother and although I clearly was not emotionally ready to attend a funeral, the pastor came up to me and Lacey, gave the baby a blessing and thanked me for bringing her to remind everyone about the circle of life. Having Lacey at this exact moment in my life has been a tremendous blessing. Its amazing what a little, innocent baby can teach us!

I can't wait to see what the next few months bring. I can't wait for the first words, the crawling, pulling up and walking. I can't wait to see Lacey interacting with Lana more. I do believe they are a gift to one another. While I have always been happy to be an only child, when I was growing up I often had fear that if something happened to my parents I would be all alone in the world (morbid, huh?). I do find comfort that if something happened to me, the girls will have each other. It is my wish that they are friends and have each others backs, although I know this is not always the way it is. When I was pregnant, I couldn't imagine what life was going to be like with two kids. I still often look at them and think, "Wow, I have TWO kids!" I certainly didn't anticipate all of the gifts Lacey would bring to our family and for that I am eternally grateful. I can't wait to see what the future holds for her and for all of us.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


We had a great time on vacation. The girls did pretty amazing on the long flight to Kauai, especially Lana. I got her one of those hand-held Leapster game thingys and between that, coloring and a million snacks, she was good to go. Lacey didn't really fuss or cry much on the flight, although she didn't really sleep either (big shocker there). She would only catnap for like 30-45 minutes and that was it. Our resort was just beautiful and we just planned on hanging out at the pool and beach, rather than sightseeing, like we used to do before kids. The mission was to unwind, relax, swim, eat and drink. And we did!

So here is the trip in photos:
I am feeling brave to post this photo in my bathing suit, but Lana's face says it all--do you think she looks happy or what?This is the day Lacey cut her very first tooth! I tried to get her to open up, but no deal.
Each afternoon, we brought the girls back to the room at 2pm for a nap. Lana has not napped since last summer, but with the time difference, it was essential. The miraculous thing about it is that both girls slept at the same time and Bill and I enjoyed a beer and a book out on the lanai. AND we managed to do this every single day! Both girls asleep at the same time for 5 days in a row is no small wonder! It was wonderful! Here are my sleeping beauties:

I love this pic of Lana with the plumeria--she was looking at this woman standing behind me.
Because it was not hot (mid 70s with wind and some rain too), we could really be outside without getting overheated. None of us got sunburned thanks to some serious SPF and Lacey could nap outside when she got fussy--we just wrapped her up in a towel and rocked her to sleep. I even nursed outside (covered up, of course)!
And finally, some sisterly love....
It was a great trip. We had a few behavior meltdowns and only one sour morning out of Lana. The biggest challenge was Lacey's sleep--no surprise there, but she is easygoing enough that even sleep-deprived, she was in a decent mood. Bill and I caught up on sleep too since we went to bed at the same time as the girls each night. It was nice. Overall, a great family vacation. I can't tell you the number of times we told Lana how lucky she is to be able to go on great trips like this. Gratitude and perspective is something we really struggle with teaching her. We all felt lucky to be able to have such a nice getaway.