RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: August 2011

Farewell 20’s, Hello 30

Leia woke me up earlier than usual today. Maybe sleeping in is a present I’ll get next year (ha). She must have known there would be birthday calls from my mom and sister at precisely 6:55 a.m. As a kid I never understood why my mom remembered the exact time I was born. Now I know. I will always pause and reflect on the minute Leia arrived, the flood of emotions as my life changed with her life beginning. When she turns 30 – in 2040! – I will call her at 9:26 a.m. to tell her she is the love of my life and to have the happiest day celebrating her existence.

Spent the afternoon watching Leia play with her friends at the bay. Watching her experience life makes my heart swell with love. I can't believe someday she'll be 30.

I celebrated my birthday with friends and family this past weekend. I’ll post more about that tomorrow. On my actual birthday – as an indulgent gift to myself – I asked my mom to watch Leia so I could go to a nice dinner alone.

If you’re a mom (or dad), I’m sure you just sighed with envy and a nod of appreciation. I haven’t had a meal alone in years. Years! On rare occasions my mom has watched Leia so I could meet girlfriends for happy hour, or a football game. I love their companionship, especially in celebration. But tonight I wanted the peace and solace of being alone. I wanted to eat a meal slowly, stare at the downtown skyline during sunset, watch boats sail on the bay. I drank my wine without wondering if I should have one more or one less glass. I didn’t check my texts or my email. I didn’t check-in on Facebook. It was heavenly.

A delicious pinot noir to match the view.

There was a family next to me celebrating a birthday. They were leaving as my dessert arrived, we exchanged birthday wishes. I offered to take a family picture, and they spontaneously took one of me. It was a funny experience to end dinner with.

Brownie sundae with peanut butter ice cream? Happy Birthday indeed!

I saw a flyer for free tarot card readings at a wine bar downtown. I couldn’t resist, assuming it was fate that a fortune teller was available on my birthday at the right price – free. Plus how often do I get to enjoy a dinner AND a wine bar? Right, next to never. Walking into the bar reminded me why I have no regrets saying goodbye to my 20’s. Suits and dresses chatting away, sipping, flirting, frantically exerting their worth. The wait for a free tarot reading was 2 hours long. I guess that was also fate, no secrets of my future reveled tonight. I drove home with my music obnoxiously loud, singing with all the windows rolled down. I left refreshed and ready to snuggle with my little bunny.

I don’t feel 30. I’m far behind my peers when it comes to planning my retirement, saving and investments. I’ll probably never own a home or drive a nice car. I’m okay with that. I did eat a high fiber cereal this morning, and apply eye cream. So part of me is on track with this adulthood gig. I’m completely content with putting late night dinners and spontaneous happy hours in the past. I don’t yearn for a reason to dress up, socialize or network with colleagues. Ten years of change happens so fast, its always more drastic in hindsight than at the moment. Farewell 20’s, thank you for the memories and life lessons. I’m ready to embrace new beginnings.

Bruises

Does anyone else think this bruise on my leg resembles the Hawaiian islands? Maybe it’s a sign I need another vacation.

No, Leia has not been abusing me.

I have a bunch of other bruises on my left shin too. One is from hitting a rock when I was climbing up the cliff to jump into the lake. Everything else is a mystery. Probably from sliding on and off the edge of the boat into the water.

I’ve always bruised easily, but after becoming a mom I’m like an overripe peach. I should ask a doctor to run some tests to make sure I’m not lacking in some critical vitamin or mineral. A doctor visit would require insurance, and I just canceled mine because I can’t afford it. That’s a whole conversation for a different day. I take a multivitamin – the gummy kind, because I don’t skip them when it’s like eating candy. I eat fruits and vegetables with every meal. So I’m more than a little stumped.

Maybe I’ll start telling people I play roller derby or soccer, or some other extreme sport. Although it’s likely they would take one look at my not quite athletic body and quietly assume someone attacked my legs with a bat.

Home Sweet Home

Our week at the lake was fantastic. So many special memories and traditions were made.

Soaking up the sun and a peaceful moment alone to reflect on how beautiful life is.

Leia loved being out on the water and splashing in the lake when the hum of the boat wasn’t making her sleepy.

Dropping rocks in the lake

Mommy kisses and morning hair

Good morning Bambi!

We watched wildlife – birds and bunnies and a family of deer – they roamed around the cabin almost close enough to touch.

She had fun playing with her older cousins, going up and down stairs, chasing the big red ball, pretending to be on the phone. We spontaneously booked a limo to enjoy a day of wine tasting in Paso Robles. I jumped off a cliff. Rachel was always ready with her camera, I can’t wait to see the pictures and post more about our trip.

Sunset on the train ride to L.A.

But it’s always nice to be home.

My Mom stayed at the apartment with the cats while we were gone. It was so nice to open the door to a clean, organized, peaceful living space. We arrived around 1 a.m. after traveling for almost 13 hours. I practically collapsed into bed. I think Leia might have slept through the night. Or I was just too exhausted to notice her waking up to nurse.

Mmm, caffeinated happiness

I’m excited to celebrate turning 30 with friends and family tomorrow. ┬áIt was especially nice to unpack an early birthday present this afternoon! These are fantastic, I had a cup of coffee with dinner just to test it out. I love my family, they’re the best.

No planes. Just trains and automobiles.

A town car arrived early this morning to take Mike, Leia and I from Orange County to Union Station in L.A. All aboard the Amtrak Starlight.

20110821-105553.jpg

20110821-105643.jpg

I’m reminiscing on my 2007 Euro Rail adventures with Carrie and Rachel. The private room we’re riding in today is much more spacious than the triple decker side by side bunks we shared with a family of 3 from France to Italy. It’s a 6.5 hour ride to Paso Robles, where we’ll meet his parents and drive to Lake Nacimiento. I can’t wait to spend the week relaxing in the sun with a cold drink, leisurely turning the pages of a trashy magazine, listening to the hum of boats in the distance. What? Your kids don’t let you do all that? Yea, Leia doesn’t either. But what fun is a vacation without a little day dreaming?

It’s going to be a fantastic adventure. I’m eager to watch Leia experience so many new things at once. I know my train loving Dad would have enjoyed a trip like this. I’ve been missing him a little more than usual lately.

20110821-105657.jpg

Banana Zucchini Sticks

I’ve been on a quest to make baby cookies for two reasons: saving money and feeding Leia healthier snacks. Hours were spent Googling “baby cookies” hoping to find The Recipe – one Leia would enjoy as much as she does the $3 box of Gerber cookies. I wasn’t expecting a replica, just something semi nutritious and enjoyable. A few failed attempts later I still wasn’t getting the crispy, light, naturally sweetened result I was yearning for. So I moved to the idea of creating a bread, drying out slices in the oven to make it more finger friendly.

There was an old banana on the counter and a zucchini at the bottom of the vegetable drawer for inspiration. Yes Leia, Mommy feeds you based on what we need to use up around the kitchen. I found this recipe with good reviews. With a few adjustments I’m pretty pleased with the first round!

1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 medium zucchini, grated
1 medium banana, mashed
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs whole wheat flour
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs white flour
1/2 Tbs. pumpkin pie spice (you can use plain cinnamon, or leave it out, whatever you prefer)
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp teaspoon salt

You could definitely add some flax seed or wheat germ, but I never have them in my pantry.

Put all the wet ingredients together in a box and mix on medium until well blended. Sift together dry ingredients in a separate bowl (no biggie if you don’t have a sifter), then mix into wet ingredients. Coat a pan with nonstick spray (I used olive oil) and bake at 325 for about 50 minutes. When your house smells like a warm hug from Grandma, it’s done.

Take the bread out of the pan and let it cool for an hour. Trying to slice hot bread is messy, so be patient. I waited an hour 30 seconds before tasting it and testing a piece on Leia. Don’t worry, I did the blow-on-hot-food-to-cool-it-down mom trick first. Not too sweet, still moist and flavorful. Leia ate it up – we have a winner!

Cut the bread into slices – thicker slices make chewier sticks and vice versa. Place on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven at 250 degrees (or whatever your lowest setting is) for about 30 minutes. You want the bread to dry out, but not end up so hard it will crumble. The sticks will continue to firm up after they cool.

 

 

Leia approves.

My Sisters Baby Shower

Today was the baby shower for Racheal and John and Leia’s soon-to-be cousin.

Guess who is still playing with the paper punches to create favor tags?

I got a kick out of seeing my pregnant sister be the center of attention. She much prefers fading into the background, slipping out the door when the social engagements are too much. But she’ll be the first person to raise hell, or speak her mind when needed. John and his family are soft spoken, patient, and kind. I know they are going to be great parents. I’m anxious to see how motherhood shapes Racheal’s life. I keep repeating my mantra “don’t be the know-it-all big sister, let her find her own path.”

Leia enjoyed being Grammy's helper, collecting all the tissue paper

She’s due October 23rd. Since Racheal’s birthday is 11/11, I thought it would be fun if he arrived on 10/10. But that’s a few weeks early, so who knows. They’re tossing around a few names (John Jr., Levi, Sheldon). I’m partial to Levi – it’s only one letter different from Leia! I think they’re set on Robert as a middle name to honor our Dad, which really warms my heart. He was definitely there in spirit today, in awe of his two girls being “all grown up.”

Leia and Destiny playing with the ever popular wagon.

As excited as I am to see my sister experience this incredible journey of motherhood, my biggest thrill is thinking of Leia and her cousin growing up together. They’ll be 15 months apart. My Aunt and Uncle never had kids, and my Dad’s family was on the East Coast. So I never experienced what it was like to have a cousin until I was an adult (Thanks Facebook, for helping me keep in touch with my East Coast family). Andy, Racheal and I weren’t very close as children, many years we didn’t even live together. As adults we’ve learned to lean on each other in hard times and love each other unconditionally. I hope Leia and Levi/Sheldon/John Robert will grow up as playmates, maybe rivals at times, but always close. However it’s defined, feeling connected as a family is what matters most.

Mary Jo (John's Mom), my Mom, Me, Leia, Racheal, John, Charlotte (John's Aunt)

A natural routine

When Leia was born I was told to create a routine as soon as possible. Sleep. Eat. Play. Repeat. Is that the right order? Oh, and all good parents have a bedtime routine that goes something like bath, jammies, story, bed. But Leia hated taking a bath for the first six months. Even now she only likes a bath in the sink. Reading books did not make her sleepy. Bedtime was only successful (for both of us) with long periods of nursing. So that was is our routine. Jammies and boobs.

Tonight I nursed Leia in bed like usual. After she was asleep I got up and tip toed out of the room. The living room usually has toys and books scattered around, so I put those away. I move the dishes from the sink to the dishwasher. I set up the coffee pot with put fresh water and grounds. I refill the brita pitcher. I wipe down Leia’s highchair and set it up where we eat breakfast. I empty the cat box. I pour the cats fresh food and water. I do a handful of exercises, stretches and deep breathing.

I do these things every single night.

I love waking up to a home that is clean and organized. I need to create order in the chaos of every day life. I recognize this helps balance the many parts of my life that are up in the air. Being conscious of my own routine made me aware of all the little routines Leia and I have created along the way, naturally. Every morning we snuggle in bed with the cats for a bit before she gets changed. She sits in the highchair and watches sesame street while I make breakfast. We eat then we play – this usually means chasing cats, emptying out my purse (and putting random toys in it), reading a handful of books, and taking tupperware out of the kitchen. Then I take a shower while she plays in the bathroom. Leia let’s me know when she needs a nap, and she nurses to sleep (unless we’re out for a walk or in the car and she falls asleep in the stroller/car seat). On days I go to the gym my Mom and Leia have their own routine of walking through the complex to come find me. They discover plants and bugs, play with the water fountain, greet the people walking dogs. Then it’s jammies after dinner, followed by playing until she’s tired. When she’s ready we nurse to sleep for the night in my bed.

In the beginning I was anxious about not creating a more structured routine in her life. As time went by I relaxed and my confidence grew. I have a happy, healthy, loving child to prove that you can usually throw what “they” say out the window and follow your instincts. Routines will create themselves.