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Category Archives: Celebration




Most of the family together in one photo (missing everyone on the east coast, Uncle Carl and Andy)! Celebrating my Mom’s 52nd birthday.


One of my favorite photos from our frequent trips to the zoo.

Look who finally likes taking a bath in the tub! No more bath time in the kitchen sink.

Look who finally likes the tub! No more bath time in the kitchen sink.



Hiking Cuyamaca with our friends. Just a few crazy moms trying to push strollers uphill in the snow. We ditched the strollers and carried them for a while, before deciding on a picnic on the side of the path. Want to try this again…in the spring.


My very serious Valentine did a charity photo shoot.


Riding on the duffy in Newport Beach with Mike and Leilani.


Photographer in the making. Me learning Instagram and the magic of filters.



Decorating kites with friends for the festival in OB.


Playdate with one of her besties, Cyler.


Pure, heart bursting, life affirming, love.


The easiest lemon blueberry cream pie ever. Seriously, one of my favorite recipes from the whole year.


Discovering lip gloss.

Finishing my first 5k.

Finishing my first 5k.



Easter egg hunt with cousin Faith at Gramma’s house in Newport.


First pigtails!


Aunt Cathy passed down a family recipe book.


My kid loves asparagus?! Awesome!


Decorating the cake she helped make for her Dad’s birthday.



Leia autographed my copy of 50 Shades of Grey. I hope she finds this funny someday, I sure do.


I have never lacked a warm lap, we’re big on cuddles in this house. Daphne still naps with Leia almost everyday (mostly on the bed….).


M.I.L.F.’s (Moms In Lots of Foam), Foam Fest 5k with the ladies.


Feeding the ducks at Lake Murray with Grammy.



Face cream, my first attempt at homemade beauty products on a chemical detox kick.


Flipped that car seat! At 23 months my toddler started forward facing.


June 15th, Leia’s sister Dresden was born.


Grilled corn at the Del Mar Fair.


Playing with cousin Johnny at Grammy’s house.



Cousin Sarah visits from the east coast. Had such a good time while she was here, especially watching her get an amazing tattoo!


4th of July party with the Souzas.


My hopes for my daughter.


Helping make rainbow cupcakes for her birthday party.


My heart.



Best post-nap hair picture, ever.


The kitchen is my favorite place for making memories.


She’s sort of amazing with chopsticks! Enjoying our favorite lettuce wraps at PF Changs.


Where’s Leia?! Oh, she’s holding my birthday flowers, thanks Aunt Jamie! I turned 31 on the 31st, hello golden year!



Leia was a race car driver…and chased Grammy off the road.


It’s important to me that I raise Leia around animals, to teach her compassion and kindness to those who depend on us.


Few things are better than Paula Dean’s red velvet recipe – a special request from Rachel for our joint birthday celebration at Wine Steals.


Look who stopped biting her nails!


Pumpkin patch in Irvine on the first day of Fall.


Meeting my brother’s girlfriend and her daughter in Arizona. Visited Andy for his birthday, but forgot Leia’s birth certificate, so she missed him.



Leia discovers how to take pictures with the iPhone…and never stops.


Carving pumpkins at Grammy and Uncle Randy’s house.


Most of the Star Wars crew! We had 13 toddlers total (I think?) for trick or treating craziness this year.

Moms night out! Dinner and drinks (do you see that big white punch bowl?!) at Craft & Commerce.

Moms night out! Dinner and drinks (do you see that big white punch bowl?!) at Craft & Commerce.



Color Run 5k with Becca. We got covered in colored dust, it was a blast!


Honey Beer Bread. So amazing it’s making this list. It’s only 5 ingredients too!


Chargers game with Rachel and Pina! Thank goodness we won, Chargers had a terrible season. No Norv or AJ for 2013, yay!


Bonfire and s’mores at Mission Bay with our friends.


A sleepy hug on Thanksgiving. What a blessing.



Wiggin’ out for Crystal’s bachelorette party!


“Merry Christmas, best friend.” Leia learned that from a cartoon and says it often, turns me to mush.


Annual Girls Christmas Party!


Hating Santa for the third year in a row. Priceless.


Straight out of a celebrity tabloid, these are some adorable kids.

Our beautiful Christmas card! Thank you Brooke for your amazing design skills!


What I’m Thankful For

I know, Thanksgiving was last week. Sometimes the days just slip by too fast.
This year we celebrated Thanksgiving with my family in San Diego on Tuesday. I cooked the entire meal in my Grandma’s kitchen, it was bliss. I had a few moments where I felt her watching – like when I cut my finger and walked around for 30 minutes with a paper towel wrapped around it because I was too distracted to get a bandaid.

I made most of the meal from scratch – cranberry sauce, green bean and artichoke casserole, cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes with parsnips. Some of it was from a can – plain ol’ corn and crescent rolls. The turkey cooked to juicy perfection in the new electric roaster. I also made a pumpkin cake for dessert, that was both loved and hated. I stuffed myself silly and basked in the love that is family, it was a wonderful day.

Then were got to celebrate again in Orange County on Thursday. Leia helped in the kitchen. I made rum balls. Leilani made not one but two fantastic turkeys. A bunch of friends and family came with a ton of side dishes and desserts. So I stuffed myself again, and felt thankful for all the wonderful people Leia gets to call family.

I am thankful…

For my beautiful, silly, smart, creative, entertaining two year old. You love painting your nails, playing hide and seek, giving big hugs, putting bandaids on stuffed animals and kissing them better, pretending we are characters from your favorite cartoons, singing with your eyes closed, and dancing with your whole heart. Leia Olivia you are my biggest joy this year and every year.

I am healthy and strong. I don’t get sick often, and neither does Leia. I have money to buy good food that nourishes our bodies. I have the opportunity (thanks Mom) to spend time at the gym for my physical and mental well-being. I plan on using this body for a very long time so I need to take care of it.

My family is close, literally and figuratively. My brother can call me regularly, and I got to visit him this year.

For the two cats that take up a ton of room on the bed, on my lap, cry for treats and at the door to get out. My fuzzy little kids, life would not be the same without you.

The friendships I rely on to navigate my parenting journey. The friendships that grow closer over the years from shared experiences. The friendships I know will always be there regardless of distance or time spent apart.

For our military, past and present. For their families that share the burden of their service so we can enjoy our everyday lives.

There are so many people to share memories of my Dad and Grandparents with. It keeps their spirit alive when I miss them terribly.

Happy Thanksgiving

Leia is two

Posted on

The picture on her birthday e-vite.

That amazing little girl turned two on July 31st. I’m geeky and get a kick out of us both being born on the 31st (one month and obviously many years apart). This year we celebrated at our pool, friends and family came to swim and eat really colorful cupcakes. It was a beautiful day, an affirmation of how much love and support is always around us. I would post pictures of the party, but since I was running around in a bathing suit I didn’t have my iphone handy. And yes, it’s a shame I consider my iphone my camera. So until I harass my friends ask around, two pre-party photos will have to do.

Helping me make cupcakes the day before her party.

My mom spent the night and worked really hard all day to make sure her party was perfect. She’s the best.

Celebrating on her actual birthday at Grammy’s house. Uncle Randy bought her a bike.

Whoever said the days are long and the years are short really nailed it. Most cliches about time going too fast really hits home these days. It’s such a blessing to watch this little person I nurture grow into herself. Everyday I love her more, everyday she gives my life more meaning.

Leia here are some things you might like to know when you’re curious about your childhood. I know they’re things I’ll enjoying reminiscing on when I stumble upon this years from now.

Being silly.

You surprise me everyday with new words, lots of them. I really have to watch what I say now because you repeat it right back the first time I say it. This week’s favorite phrase: “Not yours, mine.” I can’t help but giggle, I love your verbal assertion of self. You know a lot of colors and shapes (today you said your cracker was an oval). When asked how old you are, you excitedly say “two” but usually hold up anywhere from 1 to 4 fingers.

Swings at Balboa Park.

At the park with her friend Joanna.

When we’re in a crowd or around new people, you prefer to stay close and quietly survey the scene. When you feel comfortable you’re silly and full of laughs, you’re kind and gentle. At the park, you’re happiest on the swing or climbing through the ladders and tunnels with a friend or me close by. I guess you take after both parents, preferring a cozy group of familiar faces to a loud and busy crowd. Your comfort zone has increased exponentially in the last several months. I remember being shocked the first time you were just fine turning to me and waving bye, holding someone else’s hand to go exploring. Now those moments happen more often, knowing you can always come back to me when you need a home base. In public I’ve never had to worry about you running off, you’re great about holding my hand if I need to keep you close. I realize I’ve got it incredibly easy, thank you.

This is what naptime looks like. Leia has just fallen asleep. Daphne is almost always glued to my hip. Now is when I tiptoe quietly from the room to go catch up on Facebook or read a book.

After the cats climb into bed, I usually get one small corner, maybe some blanket if I’m lucky. Leia twists and turns all over the place when she sleeps. Sometimes she sits up in her sleep and flops back down with her head at the foot of the bed.

All that tossing and turning makes for awesome morning hair.

You’re still an early riser! Most days we are up and running between 6 and 7. I make breakfast while you watch cartoons, then I take a shower while you play in the bedroom. After we get dressed it’s off to whatever adventure we’ve got planned for the day. You like to nap for a few hours in the afternoon. Sometimes we go out again after naptime to run errands or go to the park. Other times we stay in and play at home until dinner. At night we usually read a few books and clean up around the house before it’s time for a bath. You love the tub, pretending to be a fish and make tsunamis, but you despise water on your face. This makes washing your hair tricky. You scream like the world is ending for about 5 seconds until I can wipe your face dry with a washcloth. One time I leaned into the tub and poured water on my face to show you it was ok. You thought it was funny, I just ended up wet. When you get out of the tub I always say “burrito time!” and wrap you tightly in a towel. Then I hold you next to me and we sing and make funny faces in the mirror. After pajamas are on you run into the bedroom and tell kitties “night night” before climbing into bed. I nurse you to sleep, and it’s one of the best parts of my day. I get to relax, reminded to live in the present while I watch you drift off to sleep.

I used to wait until you were napping to do the laundry or dishes, now I do them when you’re awake. I encourage you to help – it’s fun to watch you put my bras on your head or socks on the cats. I like to think I’m earning “good Mom” points by making you a part of the housework at an early age. My favorite is when you help me cook. You sit on the counter and you scoop things into measuring cups or pour them into a bowl. Today I let you crack an egg, you were pretty good, you smashed the whole thing yourself! It reminds me of helping my Grandma in the kitchen.

One of three times I’ve styled her hair in the last six months.

Your hair is getting so long! You like to pick out your own clips from the bathroom drawer. A few times I’ve put it in pigtails. I wish I could tell you I styled your hair for playdates or parties or even just for fun. It’s just not something I ever think about. Your hair gets brushed and the front is twisted up in a clip so it’s out of your eyes. Mama is low maintenance.

No photo of Leia playing with iPhone
because the iPhone is my camera.

I let you play with my (otterbox covered) iPhone enough that it gives me a little mom guilt. You unlock it on your own, or if it’s Grammy’s phone you had it to her and say “code” until she unlocks it. Then find your favorite games, lately it’s the one where you line up shapes to make pictures or flip over cards to match different objects. You scroll through the pictures and play videos – your favorite is when you were riding the carousel at Balboa Park with cousin Sarah.

We go to the Zoo and Seaworld a lot, probably once a week to each place. At Seaworld your favorite thing is the Sesame Street rides – Elmo’s flying fish and Abby’s spinning sea star. Maybe you’ll be a roller coaster lover like your mom. Then we usually go check out the sharks and the turtles. You love the sharks, especially pointing out their sharp teeth. At the Zoo we always stop to see the flamingos, the monkeys and the elephants. At home you ask for an “elle ride” and I crawl around with you on my back making elephants sounds.

Riding the bus at the zoo on her birthday.

Birthday lunch.

At home we color with chalk and paint on the patio, fill up the bird feeder with seed, water our plants. You like to pretend we’re going shopping and I pull a makeshift shopping cart around the patio before you insist we ride the “elle” (elevators and elephants share a name for now). Once inside the patio-closet-turned-elevator, you shut the door and pretend to press buttons on the wall until I say “ding” you open the door and we walk around the patio again…at least 27 times. You love your play kitchen, and use the hot pad to take food out of the oven, smart girl. We roll out playdoh and cut out cookies that you serve on your tea set. We pretend to go camping in the living room with your new tent, it has fire that lights up and makes crackling sounds. Then we use fishing poles to catch magnetic fish and grill them for dinner before making smores.

Having a picnic on the patio

Tea party with playdoh cookies.

We read a lot, there’s stacks of books throughout the house. Favorites include: any of the Llama Llama books, How Do I Love You, Horns to Toes, the Dr. Seuss Dictionary and most recently Princess Millie’s Magic Wand. We watch movies more often than cartoons now. You’re only interested in the movie for 20 minutes at a time, but it’s something different. You love the Cars movies and one about Garfield and his British doppelganger.

Me: “Time for lunch, do you want peanut butter and jelly or turkey and cheese?” Leia: “Ice Cream” Me: “Ice cream is a treat, we need to eat healthy food for lunch.” Leia: “No, Ice Cream.” Me: “You need to eat real food.” Leia: *sad face*. So I make myself peanut butter and jelly. You eat some of  my sandwich and “ice cream” in the form of a frozen gogurt. I feel slightly less guilty about the sugar content because it has no artificial colors or flavors. I figure it balances out because you eat artichokes and asparagus like a champ.

There’s so much more I know I’m forgetting, but the praise for eating green veggies seems like a good place to stop. Leia Olivia you are my heart and soul and joy and everything. Thank you for being such an amazing little person, I can’t wait to see what the next year brings.

A celebration of love

Tonight I watched two best friends get married. Their love and happiness was utterly contagious. I drove home giddy with a renewed sense of hope for my own heart.

I got married when I was 20. At the time I was absolutely in love. In hindsight I can say it wasn’t a mistake, but a learning experience. We were divorced at 23. Also not a mistake. I dated (using that term loosely) for a few years after my divorce. In my mid-20’s I was eager to explore the world, to discover myself, as painfully cliche as it sounds. I became a Mom at 29. Despite my best attempts with Leia’s father at creating a relationship, it never worked out.

Truly accepting single parenthood was hard. Coming from a “broken” family, I wanted to give my daughter a mom and a dad in the same home, in love, functional, role models. When that didn’t happen I gave myself permission to grieve, but I picked up the pieces and got strong. Three months passed and I still felt bitter from time to time. Six months passed and I found peace. Twelve months passed and I found happiness.

I can genuinely say I am happy with my life. I am the best mother I can be for Leia. I do everything in my power to facilitate a relationship between her and her father. I know she is happy, healthy, and loved. Friends and family have asked when I plan on dating, finding companionship, falling in love again. The truth is, I’m no where near ready. I’m not emotionally available for a relationship. I’m too focused on navigating the waters as a parent first. On the rare occasion I get a few hours alone I don’t want to spend it on a date. I’m happy being single. For the first time in, I dunno, forever? I feel like I can say I am content with being on my own with no active plans to find a mate.

With that said, I do wish Leia had an active father figure in her every day life. I have a fantastic, supportive mom group, and I am the only single mom. There are times I listen with envy and admiration to the stories about how their kids interact with their fathers at home. I know that Leia’s father loves her, but it would be untrue to say I don’t wish she had a male role model. Or a role model for a healthy marriage.

I do want companionship at some point. I hope I’m not alone forever. When Leia is grown and off at college, I would love to have a best friend to travel the world with me. My priorities are just somewhere else right now. That’s a good thing right? It only took 30 years, but I got to a place where I am happy in my own skin. I feel complete, but capable of change.

Tonight I saw a glimpse of love that was so true and so profound it shook my comfort level and let me dream for a moment about what it would be like to have that experience. Thank goodness I wore my waterproof mascara! Thank you Nicole and Brian for reminding me that love is a beautiful thing worth yearning for. Thank you for setting the standard high. I am a better woman for witnessing your love on this special day (and no, it’s not just the wine talking….). ❤

John Robert Moses has arrived!

I became an Aunt today! I’m all kinds of excited for Leia to have a cousin so close in age and location.

My sister and I have polar opposite attitudes towards the pregnancy and birth experience. I wouldn’t say I was a control freak, but I definitely wanted to soak up as much advice, information and stories of experience I could. I didn’t make decisions on a whim (we all know Leia’s name saga). Racheal? Well, she flipped through the What To Expect book and felt content without the internet (no Google or BabyCenter?!). She did ask me questions from time to time, but mostly her attitude was relaxed and nonchalant. When her OB suggested the induce her before 40 weeks because the baby was ready, even though her cervix was not, I threw a fit. I know, not my baby/body/birth experience, but I couldn’t help myself. I’m not anti-induction, I think I was mostly annoyed at my sister’s response – “He’s been delivering babies for a long time, I’m sure he knows what he’s doing.” Her OB delivered her boyfriend’s brothers. The first baby he delivered is turning 50. The man is old school. Did she ask why he suggested an induction when her cervix was only dilated 1cm and she was barely effaced? Did she ask what her other options were? Nope. Does it matter now that the baby has arrived and the birth was easy and complication free? Nope.

Racheal arrived at the hospital around 8:30 a.m. to start pitocin. They broke her water at 9 a.m. Leia and I arrived shortly after that. Since Leia isn’t allowed in the room (before or after baby, boo) my Mom and I took turns going back to visit. She was having some good contractions and begged me to tell her how much more it was going to hurt. I rattled off some words of encouragement, how she’s a strong woman, her body is built for this. I got a text at 10:30 a.m. saying she was 3cm and got the epidural.

Filthy hospital floor you say? Mersa? Bad mom...

My Mom and my diaper bag coordinate

We spent the next 8 hours walking around the hospital grounds, over to Grossmont Center, popping in and out of the room to visit and refill her ice chips. I am so proud of Leia, who handled the day like a champ. She “chatted” with people in the waiting room, filled the diaper bag with leaves and sticks from the trees outside, took a long nap in the stroller. At one point the security guard told me she was being too loud, and the sound echoed into the rooms. Really dude? It’s a busy waiting room, and those women in the rooms giving birth are screaming too loud to hear my daughter. Seriously, I heard one woman and I thought she was being murdered. I left tonight with zero baby fever.

John Robert Moses arrived at 6:52 p.m. She labored for 10 hours, pushed for 20 minutes, got two stitches – I have never seen her more happy, or in love. John was still teary. The three of them were such a beautiful little family. I’m blessed I got to be a part of welcoming little John into the world!

Now I just need to decide what I’m going to call him. John is his Dad’s name. Robert is our father’s middle name. I can’t wrap my head around calling them both John, so I guess it’s going to be John and Johnny? John and JR? He’s not a Jr. since they have different middle names. Hmm.

Three moms.


Hoodies = capes.



I've never seen Racheal so in love. I walked in the room and she just glowed with excitement that he was finally in her arms.

8 lb 7 oz. 20.5 inches


Welcome to our family, and the world, John Robert Moses!

Birthday card for Andy

My mom got a letter from my brother this week. She handed it to me, “read this, he had exciting news.” I always interpret exciting news as him coming home early, but that wasn’t the case.

He wrote about being more homesick than usual lately. When his mail came last week he was surprised to see a card. He figured it was a birthday card, but knowing how procrastination runs in the family, he didn’t expect one two weeks early. Then he looked at the envelope and saw it was from Grandma.

She had sent it to him while he was still in Centinella last year (he moved to La Palma on his birthday), and it took a full year to get rerouted from CA to AZ.

I could hear the joy in his voice through the words on a the paper. Even from heaven Grandma sends birthday cards.

Birthday Festivities

Last weekend I celebrated my 30th birthday with a BBQ at Mission Bay. It was a wonderfully special day, I am blessed with amazing friends and family.

My Mom ran around all day making sure I didn't have to do anything besides relax, sip wine, and have a good time.

My Uncle drove down to the bay early to set up. He brought his own BBQ and cooked all the food

Showing off her sand castle skills.

The best $1 I've spent recently - on the ball, not the baby. She cost $2.

Lovable Joey the horse. I mean dog. You decide.

Friends for over half our lives! We make 30 look good.

Aunt Callie and Uncle Grant. They (Callie, I'm looking at you) made me a photo book of Leia's first year - I definitely shed a tear or two.

Who loved being the center of attention? She also loved Cady, Jackie and Trevor's furry new addition.

Love my girls (Rachel we missed you!).

Leia and her new friend Jacob.

Can't decide if she was trying to kiss him or play peekaboo. Maybe both.