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do, make | 1 comment

I wanted to share with you what Gabriel and I made for Aidan for Father’s day. I would’ve posted it earlier to share it as an idea as a gift for father’s day, but I didn’t want to ruin the surprise for Aidan.

I actually got this idea from Michelle because she made one for Matt. It’s really sweet and simple and in this digital age, you never quite know what to do with all those digital pictures and videos. I made it on iMovie which is totally user-friendly.

Click here to see our little present!

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a note on marriage

Jun
2012
11

posted by

do | 4 comments

Question.

How many of you have ever wondered if you’re the only one who sometimes hates your spouse?

And, yes, I’m using the word hate here (a very strong word indeed) because hate is, after all, the flip side of love — one cannot exist without the other.

It took me a very long time to accept this ugly truth, but I am absolutely the kind of person who has to hate my husband a little bit in order to love him.

Like when he leaves coffee stains on our white porcelain sink.

Or when I ask him to help me with one of the 1,356 things I have to do before our son’s birthday party, and he asks me “How long is this going to take?”

Sometimes I truly despise my beloved.

Now I’m certainly no expert on marriage — we did, after all, just celebrate our five year wedding anniversary only last month — but I have picked up a few scraps of wisdom in the 8 years that I’ve known/loved my husband and I want to share some of that here.

The first, and most important, thing that I’d like to shout from the blogging rooftops is this: it’s okay to fight.

In fact, I’m just going to say it: it’s okay to NOT fight fair!!

Many years ago, when my husband was still a stranger and our son was still a baby, we fought so much that I truly could not see the other side, no matter how hard I tried. I couldn’t see how we were going to make it another year together, let alone a lifetime.

And our fights — they were brutal. They were middle-of-the-night screaming matches, followed by I-can’t-do-this-anymore tears as the sun came up. And all that make-up sex that everyone said was supposed to “make up” for the agony of fighting? That never happened.

In the middle of these dark days, I would often turn to my in-laws for advice — I was very close to them and I wanted to better understand my husband and the things that made him tick. Who better to go to than the source of  my husband’s upbringing and values?

My husband’s parents were always kind, always empathetic, and always helpful in their way. But the one thing that stuck with me the most was when my father-in-law would say “We’ve never fought.” He wore this proclamation like a badge of honor and he would  emphasize his point repeatedly, much to my despair. They never fought. No late-night screaming, no packing up a bag and threatening to never come back. Forty years into their marriage, and they never, ever, fought.

I tormented myself about this for years — what was wrong with my marriage? Why were we always fighting? Was this the glaring red flag that we refused to accept? Happy couples don’t fight, and couples destined for divorce did? What was the goddamn, mother-effing recipe for success?!?!

I used to think the recipe for a successful marriage was what my in-laws had and that unless we were like them (and we never could be) then we were destined to fail. I accepted this pre-determined fate, and in my mind I settled in, waiting for the moment when it would all be over. I was resigned.

This was my mentality up until the day my husband’s father announced he was moving across the country – without my mother-in-law. Their perfect lives unraveled rather quickly, and the details behind that are not part of this story nor is it my place to tell them, but the story that is mine is that their messy breakup changed everything in my own relationship.

First: it almost destroyed my marriage.

Then: it rebuilt it, stronger than ever.

Because, for the first time ever, my marriage stopped being a complete failure. For the first time ever, I stopped holding us up to an impossible standard, and simply accepted our union for exactly what it was — sometimes great, sometimes ugly, full of equal parts irritation and admiration. Once it became okay to hate my husband a little, it became so much easier to love him a lot.

And I do love him. A lot.

The days of late-night yelling and driving to my mom’s house are fewer and farther between than they’ve ever been. And even when they do happen (we are not perfect) thoughts of leaving for good don’t really cross my mind anymore.

The last time I drove away — many months ago — my cell phone lit up almost immediately and when I answered my husband asked me, in all seriousness, if I was leaving him. And it was all I could do not to burst out laughing. No, I told him — it will take a whole lot more than this for me to give up on you. I could almost hear him smiling on the other end of the phone. Well then you might as well come home, he said. Yes, I guess I might as well, I replied. So I turned the car around.

It gets easier to let go of your pride as the years go by — that’s the second thing I want to say. There are still days when I am angry for no discernible reason. Like when I snap at my husband for leaving his socks by the front door, which is a really stupid reason to get mad at anyone (a point that my husband, much to my chagrin, likes to points out). Years ago, this would invariably develop into a gigantic fight — the kind where you can’t remember how it started after it’s all over and you are thoroughly wrung out.

These days, amidst all of the irrational thoughts that cross my mind in the beginning of such fights, there usually comes a moment when the storm clouds part ever so slightly, a tiny voice of reason peeks through, and I ask myself why I’m so mad. And then, with a great big gulp, I swallow my pride and tell my husband that I’m grouchy. And I don’t know why. But there you have it. Gigantic fight averted.

The last thing I want to say is that there is no recipe for successful marriages — at least that’s what I’ve learned. But there is a recipe for unhappy marriages, and the first step in that recipe is  “compare your relationship to other ‘perfect’ relationships.” There are no perfect relationships, and it is my true and honest belief that anyone trying to convince you that they “never fight” is hiding something far uglier and nastier than anything I’ve ever encountered in my fight-filled marriage.

This has been, perhaps, the toughest lesson to learn — because without a recipe for happiness, there are also no guarantees. There’s no way to know, one way or the other, where the chips will fall in my marriage 10, 20, 30 years down the line. All those years ago, when I simply waited around for the whole thing to fall apart, I was a lot less scared — I could, after all, brace myself for the impact.

Choosing a lifetime of love, for me, is much, much harder. It means that I am jumping in, head first, without knowing what’s waiting for me below. It means that I have to be willing to give my whole heart, all the while accepting that there might still be failure waiting for me in the end.

It’s beyond terrifying, and sometimes I’m terrible at it. Sometimes my Type-A personality demands guarantees that my heart will never be crushed, that my happily ever after is written in stone, and that I will someday die a well-loved, married woman. It’s a lot to worry about, I know, but these fears plague me.

I can’t pretend to know the ending to this story, so I won’t bother trying to guess. But, come to think of it, I was wrong before when I said there were no guarantees, because there is ONE guarantee and it is this: never again will I be ashamed to fight in my marriage.

No matter the heights of the highs or the depths of the lows, I will go in fighting and I will not despair. Because now I know: this doesn’t mean that I have failed — it simply means that I have something still worth fighting for.

 

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a little accident

Jun
2012
06

posted by

do | 3 comments

These images are NOT from the accident. It was far too gory and horrifying to take photos of.

I talked last week about a horror story that I’d share, so here it is. We had our first accident. It was a big one. Gabriel bit a hole through his tongue. This is a true story and I’ve had a lot of “worst days of my life” days, but this one was by far, the winner. Here’s how it went:

Aidan, Gabriel and I were spending the night my dad’s house to keep him company after his knee surgery. Things were going well, Gabriel was playing around and walking and exploring and Aidan and I were just hanging out on the couch. Gabriel started to cruise around the coffee table–harmless–I was a foot away. Then, he slipped, not sure how, probably because he had a moment of clumsiness thanks to my genes. He hit his chin on the coffee table and I heard the loud smack. I knew it was going to be a horrible one so I swept him up and hugged him. He was WAILING, but I didn’t know what had happened yet.

I brought him into the kitchen to try to get some ice, and that’s when I saw it… ALL THE BLOOD. Insane amounts of blood (he also had a mouth full of saliva so the blood mixed with the saliva made the blood seem way more than it probably was) were all over his face and my shoulder and shirt. I was trying to figure out the freezer ice machine so Aidan took him. Aidan later told me that he had to “unskewer” his tongue from his teeth. (Remembering that still makes my knees weak).

I’m pretty sure I screamed something about frozen yogurt pops and I’m also pretty certain I yelled at the freezer for only giving me crushed ice and not cubed ice. We called Aidan’s sister who is a nurse, and she told us a few things to look out for: a pink tongue which ensures blood is still circulating and also to make sure that the bleeding eventually  stops… She said the medicine would be popsicles. Perfect. Easy.

Aidan ran out the door like his feet were on fire and brought back some popsicles. He told me that he wanted to scream “don’t you know what’s going on?” at everyone on the road. (The only time I’ve  ever felt like road rage was sweet)

Popsicles and Sponge Bob Square Pants were the perfect cure. He calmed right down, at least until it was time to eat and the wound opened back up and we were back to square one.

It was the single most horrifying, terrifying, heartbreaking moment of my life… and there was nothing I could do other than just hold him and try to keep him calm. It was terrible and there was no baby proofing that I could’ve done to prevent it. I’m incredibly squeemish about blood and open wounds, and everyone told me that once he got hurt I’d get over it—not true–the blood and the wound made me want to faint and puke simultaneously. The difference was, I love him SO much and to see him in so much pain was so awful that I knew I wasn’t allowed to faint, I knew I just had to hold my little munchkin and shake away any nausea or dizziness…for him.

I hope this never happens to anyone ever. But in case you ever find yourself in a situation similar… there’s no need to go to the ER unless they’ve bitten their tongue OFF (yeah, that happens too). Sponge Bob Square Pants + popsicles + tylenol + snuggles are the cure.

If only we could solve all problems that way.

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do | 2 comments

If you read Andrea’s post last week, then you probably know how we met.

But what you should also know is that I completely deserved it when she told me to shut the hell up in that high school English class. In fact I believe I was, at the time, comparing our teacher to Hitler.

Loudly.

Because that’s me, in a nutshell. I stick my foot in my mouth so often that I’m starting to like the way my shoe tastes.

What I did after the class was over (which I actually don’t remember) is also characteristic of me — contrary to my tough outer shell, I am sentimental to the core. Sensitive even.

I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that Andrea invited me to be a part of her and Michelle’s space — more than anything in the past couple years, our friendship has shown me that the growing up never stops, and that sometimes the best of friends are found in the most unexpected places.

Friendship has always been a tricky subject for me, because for a long time I was convinced I was no good at it. I didn’t have many good and loyal friends growing up, and I assumed it was because I wasn’t the type of person who could get along with people — and by people, I mean large groups of girls.

I did belong to a large group of girls in high school — in fact, some of them might be reading this right now, which only goes to show how small and interconnected our worlds continue to be. But what I learned after high school was that the world is also gigantic, and the opportunity to find like-minded souls is endless. I didn’t know that growing up — I really thought that my options were completely limited to the group of girls who counted me among their number.

So I missed out — I missed out on friendships like Andrea’s, and that’s too bad because I happen to think she’s pretty awesome. Facebook, and social media, and even blogging, has gone a long way toward giving me a second chance to reconnect with people I just didn’t SEE before — people who email me regularly and say things like “I never knew that about you.”

When I became a mother seven years ago, I had exactly one friend. Don’t get me wrong — I had a ton of acquaintances, people that I was friendly with — but when it came to friends I could call at 2 in the morning because my son hadn’t stopped wailing for eight hours … I had one of those. Plus my sister.

I used to think that one girlfriend and one sister was pretty good. I thought that I was doing just fine, so long as I had these two women who I could call on, come hell or high water.

But what I learned about becoming a young mother (and even a mother in general) is that it’s incredibly isolating. My one friend (as wonderful as she was, and still is) was in a completely different place than me — a place that included bar hopping, and lazy afternoons spent shopping, and grad school applications. And my sister, supportive as she was, was in newly-wedded bliss three states away, enjoying those precious years with her husband before kids come along and ruin everything (kidding!)

Add to this the fact that I was a stay-at-home mom for the first year of my son Noah’s life, and that I barely knew the guy sleeping next to me (no joke — we had dated for 4 months when I found out I was pregnant, but that’s a whole other story), and you’ve got a big pile of depressed. Postpartum depression fell on me like a ton of bricks — nine months after I gave birth.

Wait, what?

Yeah, that’s what I thought too. But my doctor confirmed: yes, you can get postpartum depression even when you thought you were so far out of the woods you don’t even remember what the trees look like. It was during this first bout with depression that I started to reevaluate my life, and my needs. And what I’ve discovered is that I need friends to be happy. I need more than one friend and one sister — I need a group.

Getting there, though — that’s been tough. I started with mom groups, figuring that our common interests would make for strong friendships. It didn’t, which you can read about here.

I realized then that the best friendships don’t necessarily come in a ready-to-assemble kit. The absolute BEST friendships, I’ve found, are collected slowly over time, nurtured and harvested, until they are completely solid. I’ve also found that my relationships are constantly evolving, and that as difficult as it is, sometimes certain ones have to be weeded out in order for the rest to thrive.

Today I’ve got such a solid core group of friends, that sometimes I’m kind of in disbelief that this is me — the girl who was no good at friendship.

My friendships run the gamut, from my sister and my best girlfriend from way back when, to a girl who was once my sister’s co-worker and who I now consider family. These days, I need two hands to count the number of people I could call at 2 in the morning, and that feels pretty damn incredible.

I’m proud of these friendships,  because I’ve put a lot of work into maintaining them. Yes, that has meant that sometimes I leave my family in order to spend time with my “girls”, and, yes, it’s hard when my 7-year-old son asks me where I’m going and then pouts and says “You ALWAYS hang out with your friends.” Like most moms, I suffer from severe guilty-mother syndrome (and on a sidenote: I hear there’s no cure).

But just as I start to wonder if maybe hanging out with my girlfriends a couple times a month is too much (it isn’t), something happens that tells me, loud and clear, that I’m making the right choice, not just for me but for my family, too.

Last month, as Noah’s birthday approached, I asked him who he wanted to invite to his party. He started listing the names of boys in his class (Brandon C., Brandon S., Brandon R. …. there were a lot of Brandons) but then he paused and said “Don’t forget to invite Erin. And Tricia. And Andrea and Gabriel. I want them there too.” And I realized these friendships aren’t just mine — that these friendships, if I’m lucky, will last a lifetime, and that these friends are going to be present, not just for me but for my kids.

Moral of the story? (there is always a moral to my story — I’m sorry, I can’t help it. There is a soap box permanently attached to the bottom of my feet).

Make time for your friends.

Even when you’re a brand new mom and you think your precious baby can’t bear to be without you for a few hours (he can), and even when you are so busy you can barely remember to change your underwear let alone call up a friend, and even when your 7-year-old tries to go all guilt-trippy on you — make time for your friends and don’t feel bad about it.

Go to happy hour, or find a running buddy, or meet up at your single friend’s apartment and make her watch Gone With the Wind with you.

Carve out time for your friends, because I promise you it will not just make you a better person and mother, it’ll make your kids better too, because they will learn the value of friendship through you.

And, that, people, is one of the most important things you can give them.

Thanks for reading :)

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do, make | 7 comments

My friend, former roommate, and crafting goddess, Alexis of A Payne to Make came over one evening to help me with a little DIY project for my friend’s British-themed baby shower.

We decided to make freezer paper stenciled onesies.

Supplies:

Onesies (or whatever you want to stencil onto)
Freezer Paper
Fabric paint
printouts of whatever you want to stencil
cardboard scraps
x acto knife
pencil
sponge brushes
iron

The last step, let the paint dry for 48 hours, then iron it again to set the paint.

This was a super fun project which yielded really fantastic results. Thank you Alexis for helping me out on a school night!

I can’t wait to see the little man wearing these shirts one day!

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a trip to LACMA

May
2012
21

posted by

do, wear | No comments

Remember this post, when Gabriel was an infant, and we took him to LACMA to see the Tim Burton show for his very first museum visit? No? Yeah, you probably don’t remember because it was my very first post and the site wasn’t public yet!

LACMA is really close to our house, walking distance, in fact. We sometimes spend afternoons sitting on the grass, reading books and just hanging out. It is one of my favorite things about Los Angeles–truth. Cool off topic fact about LACMA, when they were expanding it and digging around to build the underground parking lot, they discovered tons and tons of artifacts, including a sabertoothed cat, her 6 kittens and a mammoth (reason being that LACMA is right next door to the La Brea Tar Pits). How amazing is that? Read more about it in this article.

Anyway, we decided to take Gabriel to see Chris Burden’s Metropolis II. I’m actually hesitant to post any pictures of it because photos don’t do it justice. It. is. really. really. really. cool. If you don’t know about it, it is a kinetic sculpture that is representative of a modern city metropolis, with busy freeways and hundreds of little cars moving super fast, public transportation and massive buildings. Here’s a little video, which like I said, doesn’t do it justice.

Gabriel was REALLY into it. He stood and stared at the little cars racing around and just kept pointing at it. He loved it and so did we. I recommend arriving just a few minutes before the scheduled time, to see the sculpture without any cars, then watching the magic unfold once they turn it on. It’s so neat. More information on the schedule and the work here.

Are you digging Gabriel’s cool kicks? I love them! Little converse with soft soles, perfect for a little toddler and designed by a dad to stay on little feet! Pick some up for your little guys and gals at our new favorite store, Sammy and Claire, click here.) We also got Gabriel’s sweatshirt in this post from Sammy and Claire

Another piece that we/Gabriel really loved was the Alight Anew in Indian Yellow by contemporary Latin American artist Jesus Rafael Soto (someone I studied intensely in college as an Art History major–nerd fact).

If you’ve got a little one, under the age of 17, you can get them a NexGen membership for FREE that will get one adult in free with each kid among other benefits! Neat right?

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a safe sunscreen

May
2012
17

posted by

do | No comments

Pretty confusing: let your kids play outdoors, vitamin D is good for you, too much sun can cause cancer, use sunscreen, sunscreen is full of harmful chemicals. As with most things, there’s a lot of conflicting information out there. It can get really overwhelming really fast.

I personally don’t use sunscreen daily and when I do use it, I use “safer” sunscreen. I rely more so on actual blockers, like wearing hats or thin long sleeved shirts. Gabriel on the other hand, refuses to wear anything on his head. On the one hand, I love it, his little head has become more and more blonde and his skin is becoming an enviable tan–I know, it’s super cute, but also probably not so good for him.

The EWG (Environmental Working Group) has released the 2012 list of better sunscreens for kids (and for you). Check out the list here along with a list of the worsts and why they’re harmful. Other articles that talk about the truths about regular sunscreen here and here.

I haven’t tried it yet, but I hear REALLY fantastic things about Josie Maran’s sunblock. I plan on grabbing a tube for myself (and Aidan’s nose) this week.

Summer kicks off in just a few days, and it’s beyond exciting!

 

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a snack time

May
2012
16

posted by

do, eat | No comments

I read the book Bringing Up Bebe a few months ago and thought it was a pretty fun and interesting read. A lot of the tips in it were intuitive, as many parenting books tend to be, but it was still helpful to read it in print. One of the things the author mentions is “snack time” and how American kids tend to get snacks all the time, especially to basically shut them up.

I’m TOTALLY guilty of that, but mostly just in the car. Gabriel has ALWAYS hated being confined to his car seat, and he will scream bloody murder in the car, so I’ve taken to the habit of giving him raisins in the car. I buy raisins in bulk, add in some dried cranberries and mix it all up in a ziplock bag and keep it in the car and whenever he starts to wail, I just take his snack cup and fill it up. It’s awful. I’m always nervous that he will choke on one and I’ll have to make some crazy move on the freeway, but honestly, I have no idea how to keep him quiet so I can drive safely/sanely.

Anyway, Pamela Druckerman, author of Bringing Up Bebe, writes that French kids only get food four times a day, breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner. Snack time is usually around 4pm. When we stay close to home, we’re pretty good about keeping that schedule. I mean, it makes perfect sense to me.I particularly liked snack time on this day because the colors were so pretty. I try to make sure his foods have lots of different colors, firstly because it’s fun to look at, and also, typically, if your food has a lot of color, it tends to indicate that it’s good for you.

Beige food=boring & not so good.

If anyone has any suggestions about figuring out how to solve my car ride problems, short of noise canceling headphones or playing a constant loop of elmo song, I’d really love to hear it.

Check out another thing I learned in that book, here. And a car ride playlist I created, here that doesn’t help with him screaming, but whatever.

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a time article

May
2012
14

posted by

do | No comments

Are you mom enough?

This has obviously been making the rounds. I posted this on a mommy group that I belong to and gave my two cents, which are:

1. Who cares if this woman chooses to nurse her child beyond the age that society deems as socially acceptable?

2. Shame on you TIME magazine, for pitting moms against each other by asking, “are you mom enough” and also by using an obviously provocative (in the sense that it is intending to provoke, not that it’s sexual) image during a time when women who choose to breastfeed are trying to find an avenue to make it more socially acceptable. Totes lame.

Some of the mommies in this mommy group shared some opinions about it, on both sides, (sort of). I’m toootally exploiting them, but I thought their opinions were interesting and observations quite astute!

I think it causes a big stink because people express opinions on breast feeding and then pressure women to do it to and to do it their way, like when a famous woman said that not breastfeeding should be illegal. It is just one more thing that society pressures women about. Society loves to argue about personal opinions! We should be loving and supportive of one another, always!

What it boils down to is that all it did was push moms further away from each other. A breast feeding mom is not any better than a bottle feeding mom. It’s hard enough as it is to raise kids in this crappy world, why add more fuel to the fire? Why not help make raising kids easier by not judging each other.

I think they’re making a big stink because 1. he’s 3 and 2. she nurses in public. I nursed both my children, in private, and don’t understand why this 3 year old boy is still being nursed and don’t want to see it either. I think it’s a personal choice and needs to stay private.

Alright, yes, clearly this woman has taken breast feeding to the extreme — it’s pretty obvious that her decision to continue has more to do with her than it does her kid. But who among us doesn’t sometimes have a hard time letting go of these small comforts, rituals, bonding exercises..? I know I do — my daughter is two and a half and I can’t bring myself to take away her binky, even though she clearly stopped needing it a long time ago. I think when people start using language like “that’s disgusting” or “I don’t want to see that in public” it creates a culture of shame for mothers,and never in a million years will you catch me participating in that. To each their own, forever and ever, amen :)

As a mother of 3 (I’m currently breastfeeding 1) I say that if people can bottle feed in public we can breastfeed in public. I personally do it in private or with my cover on, but there have been times when I forget my cover and if my baby gets hungry I feed her without it. Breasts were made for breastfeeding it’s too bad that our culture has sexualized them and taken the focus away from their intended purpose.

I nurse my three year old and its ALL about him. MANY moms do not choose to nurse because they want to. I tried to wean twice when I was pregnant with #2. I was so sick of my sore breasts, his constant wanting, groping, etc. right now he still ‘needs’ me to nurse him.

its not extreme. its normal. its a choice.

and another mom, responded with this article, which I loved!

Happy Mother’s Day yesterday!! And apologies for the ten day hiatus!! We’re back!

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a wolf connection

Apr
2012
26

posted by

do | 2 comments

Would you ever let your 4 month old baby get his face licked by a wolf? I did. I totally did. I gave my baby to the wolves. Aidan’s brother Palo is involved in an organization called Wolf Connection, which, in a nutshell, seeks to rescue wolves or partial wolves that were domesticated and later abandoned for various reasons and also educate young people about these creatures.

Aidan and I went on a hike with them years ago, but I wanted to take Gabriel to meet them too. They’re such beautiful creatures, majestic, incredibly intelligent and sensitive. They’re unlike regular dogs. They move differently and have different social cues amongst themselves.

The organization, located just outside of Los Angeles, goes on monthly hikes with the wolves. When we went years ago, we got to take the wolves on leashes and hike with them, but today they have handlers who take the leashes, and you just walk alongside them.

I highly encourage you to go and take your little ones with you. It might seem scary, but it is life altering. After you hike with them (it’s an easy hike) they retreat back to their dens and the MOST special thing happens… if you’re lucky… they howl. They all howl together and sing harmoniously.

I’d like to go on the hike in May, so that it won’t be too hot! If you’d like more information about Wolf Connection, or if you’d like to join them on the hike, check them out here.

 

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