Category Archives: Family

Growing Up

When I was 19, I used to think that I didn’t ever want kids. My “humorous” reason was that I was way too selfish and wouldn’t want to put someone else’s needs above my own. At 19, that was probably true.

When I was 24, I realized that I wanted to have kids, just not yet. I wanted to be married for at least a year before even thinking about it.

When I was 27, I was desperate to be a mom. I hated all my friends who were having babies.

When I was 28, our son was born, and we spent the first two nights in the hospital feeling totally shell-shocked and confused about what we had signed up for. The first few weeks were overwhelming, scary, and really made me question everything I had thought I wanted. Luckily that was all just the craziness of the first weeks of the first baby, and I’m happy to say that I don’t regret anything.

When I was 31, our daughter was born, and it was slightly less crazy but still overwhelming, and it’s been almost 6 months and we still aren’t sleeping super well and it seems that they never nap at the same time and there is always someone needing something.

But I think we’re done now…and it makes me sad to think that I won’t be pregnant again. The first time around, every stage was new and intriguing, and we saved everything religiously for the next one. This time, we’re starting to jettison things, baby clothes and toys and gear, just getting rid of things when she doesn’t need them or fit into them anymore. It’s hard to give away boxes of baby clothes in the mindset that there won’t be another one.

But still, I sometimes think about that selfish 19-year-old, and I think she had the right idea. Doing whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, being accountable to no one, spending time with Drew or with friends or even alone – it was so luxurious and I didn’t even know it. I remember in New York, when Drew and Jared would be working two shows on Saturday and Sunday, I could sleep until noon, and then spend the rest of the day lying around reading. I used to watch a lot of Law & Order: SVU while doing cross-stitch kits. It didn’t matter. I could do whatever I wanted. (I want to yell this at the 20-somethings I know who complain about being tired. You have no idea! Embrace it! Just take a nap and you’ll feel better! Go out to brunch or something!)

In the last three years, I have discovered that I have a well of patience that I didn’t know existed. I have also discovered a temper that I didn’t know I had. They both kind of depend on the amount of sleep and protein I’ve had in the last 24 hours. I am definitely a different person now. I think I’m more responsible. More willing to lower expectations. More grateful. I hope the changes have been for the better.

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Filed under Baby, Dreams, Drew, Family, Memoir, Nonfiction, Pregnancy, Self improvement, Sentiment

Paper Moon

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-Ella Fitzgerald, “Paper Moon”

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Filed under Being a girl, Drew, Family

What I Learned from Meal Planning

I got this idea in my head that meal planning is a grown-up thing to do. I remember as a kid having a weekly (or monthly??) menu posted on the fridge, and then I think that for the most part we actually followed that menu.

I have said before (loudly and frequently!) that the hardest, most tiring part of being a parent is being in charge of someone else’s meals every single day, particularly when that person is a 2-year-old who primarily wants pappunoni pizza, watermelon, meenut butter and jim, or cake. So when meal planning, I tried really hard to take this opinionated little guy into account, and plan things that we could all actually eat together.

We did one week of following a meal plan, and here’s what I learned:

You can’t actually shop for the whole week at once.

This was my original grand plan. I had a gift card to Safeway and I went and stocked up on basics and necessities, and I was really proud when all I paid was $18 over the gift card amount. But the truth is, you can’t always buy produce on Sunday that’s for eating on Friday. We lost a couple things that way, and I had to do a second trip partway through the week.

I guess I should have known that. I’m aware of how quickly produce goes. But I got so caught up in the money-saving, time-saving, health-conscious extravaganza that I was taking on that I didn’t really think about all the logistics.

Cooking meals each night takes a lot of time.

It was really nice to have the pressure off at 5pm when the “What’s for dinner” conversations started happening. But, here’s the thing: Usually, B eats at 6pm and we just hang out with him, and then Drew and I eat after B goes to bed. So not only was one of us spending a bunch of time each night preparing a more elaborate meal than usual…but that time was happening between 5-6pm, prime play time.

Also, Drew and I probably forage for dinner 2 or 3 days a week. For example, last night he had eggs and chicken-apple sausage, and I had a sandwich. These took 10 minutes to prepare concurrently. So just in general, cooking a family meal every night added a lot of time to the in-the-kitchen schedule.

…But it is nice to have leftovers.

It was really nice to have interesting leftovers for all of us to take for lunch the next day. B gets a lot of repeat meals, so being able to throw something new in there was probably nice for him, and made me feel like I was being a good parent. Also, since I went on a big grocery shopping trip, I wanted to be able to parlay that into lunches so I didn’t have to spend money during the week.

There’s actually an element of “planning.”

I didn’t realize how to manage the details. I just threw things on different days, and tried to space out all the chicken. But now I know, if you have two meals that use basil, maybe put them closer together so your basil doesn’t completely wilt between them. Or, if you know Survivor is on on Wednesday nights, don’t plan something elaborate that you’re going to have to be either cooking or cleaning up while the show is starting. And give yourself an “egg sandwich” night in the middle of the week, as a break from all the “shepherd’s pie” nights.

Sometimes something comes up.

There’s a lot more life getting in the way than I realized. When planning, I had to work around such things as Easter, dinners out with friends, and other events. We ended up doing this on the least busy week possible, so that we could really give it the old college try, but there always seems to be something coming up.

We also have a slight disadvantage in that Drew doesn’t get home before 5pm, and I am usually at least half an hour behind him. When I think about my parents or my friends, many of whom are teachers, I realize that they have a major heads up over us in that they are home earlier in the day. One friend of mine posted a recipe on Facebook, saying that it was super easy because you could just stick it in the oven and come back 2 hours later. While I do appreciate the ease of that, and plan on taking advantage of it on a weekend, I just don’t have 2 hours’ worth of cooking time on a weeknight.

Overall

It’s really nice to just have a plan in place. And to have that plan include vegetables, which are already in the fridge and ready to be cooked. Without a plan, we have nearly nightly conversations that go, “What do you want for dinner?” “I don’t know, do you have any feelings?” “I don’t know, I just want you to pick something.” “Well, I don’t know…” So going a week without having that conversation was really nice.

Some nights, B would eat what we were eating and it was like this magical curtain of “we’re doing it right!” fell around us. Some nights he was not interested at all and we had to settle for “oh well, we tried.”

I tried to make another weekly schedule but then it just kind of fell through. Maybe next week we can get back on the wagon, because I think overall it was beneficial, albeit tiring.

Help me out with next week, and leave me a comment with your favorite plan-in-advance weeknight meal! (Bonus points if a toddler will eat it.)

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Filed under Children, Drew, Family, Food, Humor, Nonfiction

Previously on: This Week

So for two weekends now, Drew has been taking this class for work. Simultaneously, one of his clients came down with strep, then an allergic reaction from the antibiotic, and finally pneumonia. So for two weekends in a row, Drew’s weekends have been completely filled with work, while I tried to keep B’s and my weekends filled with educational and engaging activities.

On Monday morning at 4am, I woke up feeling nauseated. I spent the rest of Monday at home, lying down with my eyes closed as much as possible, while dealing with a raging case of food poisoning. On Monday evening, right as I was starting to come out of it, Drew held up B’s hand and said, “What are these spots?” and so (luckily) we called the doctor and (luckily) it was one of their late nights and (even more luckily) they were able to get us in that night. Turns out B had a mild ear infection as well as a mild case of HFM, which thankfully hasn’t seemed to spread anywhere else besides his hand, and doesn’t seem to bother him too much. But I kept him home on Tuesday.

Since then, he’s been acting mostly just fine, but occasionally just…under the weather. Like, he doesn’t really fight naps or bedtime right now. Which is nice. Sometimes he just wants to cuddle. In the mornings, rather than eating, he just wants to be held. All nice things. And I think all just fall under the category of “I’m not feeling great. Please rub my back while we watch Curious George.”

But now Drew and I have sore throats and stuffy noses, which I think (optimistically) is just the beginnings of a cold, and nothing more. My parents are here now and I wish I hadn’t had to lure them into this den of sickness. It would be nice to hang out when we’re all feeling top-notch. But it’s also really nice to have the support right now. (I guess they’ve seen me sicker than this.)

Last night, Drew and I went to see a short play of mine performed in a college theatre festival. It was a lot of fun, even if we were out late (and far from home!). College theatre is so fun, and silly, and supported. It was cool to remember what it was like when it didn’t matter if you were good, because the house would be full of everyone’s friends, and you’d have lots of cheers at curtain call no matter what.

And that’s what you missed last week on: Me!

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Parenting is a ball

Tonight we went and had dinner with Drew’s parents, his brother, and his brother’s fiancee. We were having a great time, powering through the fact that our little munchkin apparently skipped his nap today. He was a little whiny during dinner, but when the cake came out (our nearly-sister-in-law’s birthday was this weekend), B perked up and ate a whole (small) piece of cake with an adult fork. How cute!

He chased the dogs around and played with toys and looked at the fish in the pond. Everything was going so great.

Then he picked up a piece of pottery (which I suspected he thought was a ball, and would bounce) and he hurled it onto the floor, where it shattered. I attempted a time out (always tricky at someone else’s house) while Drew cleaned up. Then we got him out of there.

Once he knew he was in trouble, he remembered how tired he was, and was mad we were leaving his grandparents behind, so he was off-and-on upset all the way home and then into pajamas and then into bed. (Where he immediately fell asleep. So…)

I went to take a shower, and I wanted to do something nice for Drew, so I tried to use B’s bath crayons to write a nice, loving note on the shower wall. I used orange because it’s what was in there. I’m glad it wasn’t red.

Because no matter how hard I tried to smoosh the crayon into the wall so it would stay there, it slooooowlyyyy ran down the wall in streaks, making the shower look like a murder scene. Like if the cast of Real Housewives got murdered there.

So now there’s a drippy, orange love message on our shower wall, and I just hope he sees it soon enough before it fades into smeary nothingness.

Some days you win, some days not so much.

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Filed under Children, Drew, Family, Memoir, Nonfiction, Not awesome

Heartwarming Christmas Stories, Vol. 1

We’ve been trying to really do up Christmas this year, so I thought I would share some heartwarming Christmas stories that show off what it is to have a toddler.

On Friday morning we took B to meet Santa. We’d been telling him about Santa and “prepping” him to say, “Hi Santa, Merry Christmas, this year I’ve been a very good boy and I would like __________.” (Whatever the blank happens to be: books, a puzzle, a dog, more letters, etc.) (Of course there was no chance he would say all that, but it’s fun to practice anyway.)

So we get there and we’re first in line, because I’m overzealous and I think that everyone’s going to the mall to meet Santa on a Friday morning. So without anyone to use an example, B was not happy to be sitting on a stranger’s lap (I can’t say I blame him) and he basically made this face the whole time:

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I love this photo so much.

And PS. he was totally fine once we got him out of there. Like, completely happy.

On Friday night, we finally cleaned off our kitchen table, which has been accumulating STUFF for, like, weeks. And somewhere near the bottom of one of the piles, Drew found a sticker advent calendar, which I think my parents brought over for us around B’s birthday. So Drew sat down with B to catch up on advent stickers, and we’ve never done stickers before, so neither of us was sure how it was going to go. But B patiently took each sticker that Drew handed him, and stuck it on (or near) the paper tree. Drew and I were all heartwarmed already. But it gets better.

The next day, we did one sticker (in classic advent style). Fine.

The next day, we did one sticker…and then B started saying, “More, more,” and I tried to explain the premise of the advent calendar, but that he could LOOK at the stickers. And then he took the page over to Drew and said, “Help” (which he has just recently started saying). And Drew was like, “Oh that’s adorable.” And then B said, “Peese?” And we both knew it was all over. Drew and I decided that since we had already messed up the first 12 days, what did the second half of the advent calendar really matter, when your toddler just asked you for help please? So they did the rest of the stickers, which was really one of my favorite things that happened this weekend.

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The third, and possibly most heartwarming, story is from Sunday. We were doing laundry at Drew’s grandma’s condo, where the laundry room connects the house to the garage, and has a door on either end. I was detained elsewhere for a minute, when I got a phone call from Drew. I answered and he said, “He locked me in the garage! And then locked himself in the laundry room!”

I opened the door to the laundry room, where B was just standing, looking around. And then I opened the locked garage door and found Drew cracking up. What would he have done if I wasn’t there?

So Merry Christmas everyone, and I hope you’re having a wonderful holiday season, whether or not you have a toddler around to spice things up. =)

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Filed under Awesome, Family, Humor, Nonfiction, Sentiment

Giving thanks, 2014 style

Happy Thanksgiving!

I’ll be honest with you: this year has kind of sucked.

Every New Year we say “This is gonna be OUR year!” And sometimes we’re right: 2009 was a good year. As was 2012.

But 2014 was not kind to us. But the silver lining – because I always have to look for the silver lining – was that I spent much of this year being actively thankful for specific things in my life. Because I had this idea that, if I spent too much time dwelling on the negative things, God and karma and the universe would say something like, “Guess you don’t care about all this good stuff then.” And it would be taken away.

So I’ve thought a lot this year about the people in my life, the ways I’m blessed, and the things I’m grateful for. And there are plenty of them. At the top of almost every list are my husband and my son, two people I couldn’t live without. There are my parents, who are consistently supportive and loving and who make the 3-hour drive from Lakeport to Pacifica over and over and over, just to hang out with us. Drew’s parents treat me like one of their own and I have literally ZERO crazy “in-laws” stories (and I know that other women out there have some crazy in-laws). There are my friends: the real-life ones who have put up with me for years, and my online mommy friends, all of whom are invaluable. I have a job I love, with people I love. I get to live by the ocean in a neighborhood and an apartment that I really, really like. (There’s even ample street parking.)

And on top of all of that, this year I’m also thankful that 2014 is almost over. Rather than ringing in this New Year by saying “I can’t BELIEVE it’s already 2015!” I’ll be saying, “Thank God. Now, bring on a fresh start.”

Just to make sure I don’t end on a downer, here are some really specific things I’m thankful for at this exact moment: My kid is napping, and he apparently knows who Elmo is, which surprised both Drew and me this morning. I made a German chocolate pecan pie for dessert tonight and while it looks a little, um, “homemade,” the filling part tastes good. We’re actually going to finish our Disney Project this year, which was a grand undertaking, and I’m proud of that. It’s a really pretty day right now…but I hear it’s going to rain all weekend, which would be really nice.

See? Still an optimist. Happy Thanksgiving.

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Filed under Baby, Children, Drew, Endings, Family, Food, Friends, Holidays, Memoir, Nonfiction, Religion, Sentiment, Writing

35 Years in 35 Memories

My parents celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary this weekend. Congratulations! In honor of their many many years of wedded bliss, I thought I would write 35 one-sentence family memories/inside jokes. (Unfortunately, I have no memory of the first five, well maybe eight or nine, years of their marriage, so this is going to have to pick up around 1988.)

(I have not planned this out, so this is an experiment to see if I can get to 35. Here goes.)

(Oh, also, this is going to skip around in time a lot. I’m not doing this chronologically or anything.)

  1. Playing the Un-Game and my mom doing a cartwheel into a potted plant.
  2. Being completely confused the first time my dad shaved off his beard (“Who is that strange guy in the living room?”)
  3. Giggling at hearing my brother singing loudly in the shower…and then the flash of realization that that meant everyone could hear ME sing in the shower, too.
  4. Going camping at Patrick’s Point and seeing giant elk.
  5. Going camping at Gualala and almost getting really lost when we were all on a walk.
  6. Having dinner at the Times Square Olive Garden and my mom getting tipsy on red wine.
  7. Having the whole family together for a surprise 60th birthday party for my dad.
  8. My parents making the drive out to Davis for my very first Picnic Day…and it poured rain the whole time.
  9. Having a family debate about something, and my mom insisted, “Is that each, or apiece?” and then for a moment all four of us stumbled over that.
  10. During cleaning days, learning very quickly not to say in a whiny voice, “What should I do NOW?”
  11. The need to ask my parents every night to check and make sure the toilet seat was down so the cats didn’t fall in. (Cats are probably smarter than that though.)
  12. Getting caught writing love letters to my fifth-grade crush.
  13. They stocked up on delicious snacks (like bottled frappuccinos! very desirable in high school) for me and my friends who were staying over after prom.
  14. Eating sunflower seeds on road trips.
  15. The Oktoberfest at church – games and handmade goods and fall colors and peanut brittle.
  16. One weekend when Drew and I were staying in Lakeport, we had artichokes, and we ate in the living room. We put the bowl for leaves on the floor in the middle of us and we all just threw leaves at it. After dinner there were leaves everywhere. That’s kinda gross, but it was a fun and relaxing evening.
  17. Picking blackberries in the dry creek.
  18. Getting paid a penny per rock we picked up out of the garden – counting up those rocks and then marking them on a chart on the fridge.
  19. Also the “dishes” chart on the fridge – whose turn is it tonight?
  20. Watching Armageddon with my mom and she asked me, “Wait, are you CRYING?” at the end. I think she was making fun of me.
  21. Going caroling with people from church.
  22. Going to see The Phantom of the Opera in San Francisco for Christmas…just because I loved it so much.
  23. At camp, when they were in charge, they would always put me in the “good” girls cabin. (It really was better.)
  24. Also at camp, pulling off the “Chez Rubber Soul” mornings: servers, menus, and line order breakfast for all the campers and counselors.
  25. Helping my mom teach summer school.
  26. Hanging out in my dad’s classroom after school, and playing Lode Runner and Nintendo.
  27. Easter morning sunrise services: a lesson in dressing in layers.
  28. Building a (short-lived) treehouse in the back yard.
  29. Measuring the height of the water on the back step, and keeping an hourly chart, each year when it flooded. I used to get so disappointed when it started receding.
  30. Speaking of floods, parking down the street and wading home in rainboots was fun.
  31. So was sitting by the wood stove after a bath while my mom brushed my hair. It used to be really long.
  32. We had heating vents in our rooms, but we never used them – but sometimes I liked to turn it on, because the smell was so novel. I think it might have been a vaguely gas-stove smell? I liked it. It made me feel cozy.
  33. Calling my parents at 2:00 am to tell them they had a grandson. (“Okay, that’s it, see you tomorrow!”)
  34. Walking to the farmer’s market down the street from our house.
  35. Every time they come visit, they have more photos they took of things B would like: pigeons, dogs, recycling bins, signs, etc. I like that they do that.

I know an anniversary is kind of just between the two people celebrating, but I wanted to point out all the good things that have come out of their 35 years of marriage. I for one am very grateful they got together and are still together.

You guys are good role models and great parents! I love you very much!

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Baptized B

B’s second birthday is coming up, so this baptism thing has been a long time in coming. We procrastinated for various reasons, but finally this spring we made the decision to go for it. This last weekend, my family and Drew’s family gathered at my childhood church and saved B from purgatory. (Just kidding.)

I will tell you, I had A LOT of anxiety leading up to this weekend. I worried about getting the three of us plus the godparents all the way up to Lake County in our car with all our stuff. I worried that B would freak at getting water on his head. I worried that it would be awkward. I worried that no one really wanted to be doing this. I worried that no one would have a good time.

But it turns out, everyone was into it, and we had a great time. We went up to my parents’ house on Saturday night, and Drew’s parents and my aunt and uncle (who was performing the baptism) were there already. We hung out that night, keeping B up 2 hours past his bedtime. Then everyone dispersed, and we took godparents Erin and Allen to the hotel casino where they were staying.

There, we ran into Drew’s parents, and found out that his dad had just hit it big on video keno. So that was a nice bonus.

The next morning, we picked up Erin and Allen, and headed to the church, about 20 minutes away. The service was outdoors (#summertime!) and so B spent most of the service running all around, up some stairs and around the church building, up some other stairs and around the community center, basically just going everywhere possible. But luckily we were keeping an eye on the time, so we could get him back down in the vicinity of the service by the time the baptism began.

I held him during the ceremony, and he was mostly good. He complained a little bit, but mostly drank milk and pointed at things. I remembered the Creed. He didn’t love the water on his head, but he didn’t freak out. My uncle gave him a candle (unlit), and a medallion. We recessed and sang songs. We did it!

There was cake afterwards, and Erin and I tried to wrangle all the family members into place to take pictures. We managed to take some really cute pictures, including one of my new favorite pictures:

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Charming, buddy. Charming.

After pictures, we packed everyone up and we all went to go eat. Well, most of them went to brunch – our car, followed by Drew’s family’s cars, went in the wrong direction. I just was mistaken about where I was going. Oops!

We found the correct place, and settled in for complimentary mimosas and brunch. Although they didn’t really seem able to handle our party of 15 – it took like an hour between ordering and getting our food – the food was good, the company was lovely, and B was awesome. He even ate the food we ordered him! Crazy!

By the time we were done, it was already after 1:30, so we just stopped by my parents’ house to get all our stuff, and then we headed out of Lake County. (Well, we stopped for milkshakes at Renee’s first.) We got home that night in time for dinner and bedtime, and then Drew and I basically crashed, ignoring the pile of stuff we’d brought home.

A long weekend and we’re both ever more tired, but I’m still so happy with how everything went. It honestly went better than I could have hoped, and far better than I expected. A total win. B is so lucky to have this loving family, and two brand-new godparents! (Not pictured: my bff Kirsten, who came out from Davis, and her mom – I was so honored to have them come support us!)

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Did Do: Family Lunch

B, our 20-month-old, has been getting over a little cold. Last night he was pretty unhappy, so I (sadly) called my parents to cancel a family get together we had had planned for a few weeks.

The point of this annual get together was to celebrate birthdays (mine and my grandma’s), Father’s Day (Drew and my dad), and a wedding anniversary (my aunt and uncle).

But this morning, B woke up much happier (and nonfeverish). We decided to take a leap of faith and drive up to Santa Rosa. It was mostly successful, lunch was casual and fun, and at the restaurant, B was pretty cute (and ate more than he has been eating lately). So it’s okay that on the drive back, he fell asleep for 20 minutes and then woke up really upset and cried the last 40 minutes of the drive.

We took a chance getting in the car today with a kid who’s been sick. So a big did-do. Happy weekend!

family lunch edit

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