Thursday, April 13, 2017

Hospital Apple Juice

Sunday afternoon. I'm often drenched in boredom and disbelief, but lying around the house waiting for an acclaimed TV Drama to start can feel so much like succumbing to the end of the weekend instead of skipping all over it until it's through. Also, there's a toddler, so lying around the house feels more like being stuck in the doldrums only to be discovered by wild, hungry birds.

Anne Lamott says that one of the gifts of being a writer is that "it gives you an excuse to do things, to go places and explore" so last Sunday we went to Sea Port Village despite both Scott and I having subtle stomach aches and notably low energy. We parked next to a vintage VW Beatle with a Terrorists Don't Surf bumper sticker. The energy of countless others was here, so surely it would be contagious. 

I wanted to take Avalon on the merry-go-round first. Fortunately, she was as eager as I was with a don't-mess-with-me expression and the hope for magic in her eyes as we waited in the unofficial line. We picked a brown horse that didn't go up-and-down--a good jumping off point, I thought. We waved for photos and took in the blurry sights. The carousel was nearly 150, what a good many souls had been here first. 

Ten minutes later we ran into a street performer drawing a crowd big enough to block the board walk. Maybe we should've cared, but I felt curiously contaminated and the urge to be away from others so we tried to make our way through the masses. After one glance it was also apparent that this crowd and I probably wouldn't laugh at the same movies. The performer was a clown was trying to swallow a three foot long green latex ballon and he was about half way through doing it. "I can't look. I'm going to throw up!" I told Scott. He said he felt like he was going to too, which I thought was odd since, as my friend Heidi said, tandem throwing up isn't a symptom of pregnancy. Ten minutes after that, we were both taking turns in the public restrooms like true carnival goers with indulgent, but sensitive stomachs. I thought it was what I had made for lunch. As we made our way home "Thank God I have Rubber floor mats" and "What if this is part of an unseen next chapter for the baby" were my only thoughts.

We ended up in the E.R. that night. I had a 101 fever and desert-floor cracked lips that came with an all consuming fear that I had gotten listeria from the spinach I put in our pasta for lunch. And how was I supposed to tell the nurse that I was cooking with, in all likelihood, expired white wine? Skip's heartbeat was 150 though. All signs pointed to a virus that was rampantly going around. 

Scott probably won't appreciate me including this, but when the nurse asked us where we were on the pain scale I said four and he said eight. In all the panic and nausea I couldn't help gloating (quietly and to myself) that this must be because he's never had a baby. 

At around midnight, I got on an IV and felt higher than I have in years. I told Scott I almost asked the attendant if he got his clothes from the moon. "Would that have been a four or an eight on the funny scale?" I mused in the shadows of the machines. 

"A three" he said contemptuously.

When I inquired about where his ankle sprain from two Christmases ago ranked on the pain scale and he told me an eight again I had to protest. 

"There. is. no. way! A ten would be like if someone cut off your foot with a chainsaw and gave you no meds. Tripping on your pajamas and twisting your ankle could not have been an eight!" 

He says you have to change the scale depending on the injury and circumstances. I say a 10 is essentially being dead.   

Finally, the hospital apple juice arrived just before 1 a.m. To me, this is one of the only perks of being in a hospital. It's the thing I am looking forward to second-most when I have my second baby--good, small ice-cube-chilled, hospital apple juice. 

Yesterday was Wednesday and we were all back to our semi-usual lives. When Scott came home from work he and Avalon sat in the front yard and flew the drone to the sunset. I was watching from the kitchen window washing pasta dishes. Trapeze Swinger came on. It will always be one of my favorite songs even though when I saw Iron and Wine in concert some guy told me to "Shut up!" for requesting it. All the vague religious tones made me think more about Easter. I had been putting the final touches on Avalon's basket only a few hours earlier. I haven't been talking to God as much lately. I've had a nearly constant dialogue going with Him since this time my favorite climbing tree on the playground seemed to be dying when I was in second grade. But with our health, this beloved song playing and the sight of my husband and daughter playing in the yard, I felt like he was still communicating with me all the same.

+Happy Easter and passover to everyone!

p.s. Easter basket stuffings:
(one stuffed with dried bananas, one with strawberry licorice and one with dark chocolate, foil-wrapped eggs)
+A goat's milk soap bar, Annie's granola bar, a vintage tin of tamari almonds (our favorite), a Peter Rabbit Pear and Peas Packet and a new, big-girl fork and spoon.
+All signs point to me being the person who hands out tooth brushes at Halloween. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Just Above Sea Level: 1st Drone Surf Footage

When I said that Scott got a cleaned out dresser, a new tie and khakis for his birthday I might not have been telling the whole story. Being in your thirties, or any decade for that matter, doesn't mean you're too old for toys, and I'll always believe that. He also got a drone a few days later (I had to keep it a secret). You only need or want so many things once you're an adult with your own Amazon Prime account and so, our families and I decided a group gift would be best for Scott this year. It was. He was up reading the manual by flashlight at 2 a.m. the night he got his drone. Anytime we're driving by a field or a train track or a power plant he says something along the lines of "That would be cool to look at from the perspective of the drone". Avalon is not even two and yet, she knows the word drone. She requests "drone-drone peas!" when Scott gets home. And of course, I haven't been left out of the action. Scott is able to film me from the cliff of my parents' backyard while I surf. This is the first footage from that. 

+As for the drone, I knew this was the right one because our friend Craig Coker, a professional photographer and videographer, told me so. Scott had been waiting for its release for months. Craig has the same one and has filmed car commercials, stunning sunsets and the like with his. 
+here is the affiliate Amazon link to the drone, the DJI Mavic Pro. So far it's everything we wanted and more. And it's so small and sturdy! If you buy it via this link I will be forever indebted to you and also grateful beyond words.
+more to come
+select 1080p for the best quality

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Dear Sprout,

Oh my Avalon. Last night you were barfing-sick, in your bed, in ours and on both of our warm jammies. And what is wrong with me that I'm glad we had that moment? ...You and I lying in bed sideways not able to sleep, but not really wanting to either. Maybe it's because today, when we went to look at a neighborhood preschool, you seemed so ready to be there and they had to have this quote on the wall in big cursive writing that read "Let me love you a little more before you're not so little anymore" and it took every kind of inner strength I had to not sob into the school director's smock on the tour. I love you my bug and you'll always be my baby. 

Monday, April 3, 2017

Visiting the Flower Fields

A week or so ago we entertained my mom's plea to visit the Carlsbad Flower Fields. And, as is usually the case, I am glad we did. Why are we always so reluctant, despite their reliable success rates, to honor our mother's requests? This will come back to get me, I know it will. The Flower Fields were the perfect activity for a toddler and a "pregnant lady" wanting outdoor time and exercise in just the right amounts. They were perfect for a photographer and loving, landscape enthusiast, doting grandparents. They were perfect for local San Diegans wanting to play tourist and learn more about the area they inhabit. We took the vintage tractor out to the northern corner of the 50 acre fields of giant ranunculus and explored and took photos before we took it back. Avalon collected dirt and trash and ran up and down the hills. There was $5 ice cream and goat's milk soap and a collection of local goods traders.

I wanted to put some of the pictures here in case anyone else in the area or visiting it was looking for a fun, family friendly activity to do this spring. 4/5 stars (5 stars always being the beach).

+Open March 1st-May 14th, 2017
+Visit the website for more
+most photos by Scott

Friday, March 31, 2017

Today (and the Rest)

Last night, after putting Avalon to bed, I mentioned to Scott that "Isn't it funny how she sleeps with the 'Grammy Blanket' I used to sleep with at your old apartment in Mission?" I was never a pacifier or thumb kid, always and forever a blanket girl. I believe he said something along the lines of "Huh" and then continued flipping through a boating magazine.
[editor's note: he says he also replied "that's cool"] 

We celebrated his birthday Wednesday and will continue to do so this weekend. There was a restaurant, a restless baby, a distracted waiter, a cold swim in the sun, and a fairly normal day of him going to work and me reassembling the house on repeat. He got a tie, some pants for work and picture painted by Avalon. We did not, however, focus on how time goes so remarkably fast. I don't think you always should.

During Avalon's nap time I remained in denial about the early signs of yet another head cold by re-organizing all of Scott's dresser drawers. Yes, for his birthday this year I gave away a bunch of his hand-me-down t-shirts and Casual Friday work shorts he's never worn. It was, in all honesty, a gift to us both, although I am framing it as 'The gift that keeps on giving'. He was sincerely thrilled and loved the work pants. Age 32, and here we are.

I have been pregnant once before (you may recall). A lot of it was characterized by figuring out what I could still do, but also mainly by tackling an unending to-do list in an effort to retain some control over my rapidly changing life. I have that same urge this time, in fact, the girl's room (still so weird and exciting to say!) will be completely repainted in a fresh coat of Simple- 'No VOC'-White this very morning. There is a new rug, a re-decorated mobile, a few new, old photos, but mostly I am trying to adopt and embrace the mindset that whatever is coming will always be somewhat of a surprise and therefore the only real thing to do is to learn how adapt quickly; To change course at a moment's notice without making a big wake, to focus on what's right in front of you (it's Scott's birthday, so boat metaphors seemed appropriate). 

And so, maybe this is why I will not dive deeply into the archives of my heart this birthday season and I will simply think of it as a time to re-fresh. We will save some favorite hole-y t-shirts and loved blankets, but put a fresh coat of paint on. 

To be more specific: today we will surf, tomorrow we will buy toddler beds and look into preschool. 

p.s. the recipe pictured comes from Love and Lemons, my cooking inspiration of the moment. Happy weekend!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Spring Babies

always think I'm very aware of time, but never more so than during pregnancy. The first time around is more novel, I have to admit. The second time has been less about the steps it takes in becoming a mother and more about looking back on what it's meant to be Avalon's. As much as my mind's eye is on September, picturing a room that has more neutral colors and possibly two cribs, making it look like an orphanage scene straight out of Annie or Cider House Rules, my heart is right here, noticing the shades of blue in my twenty month old's eyes as we wait for her to pee on the potty. As much as I miss skateboarding and margaritas, I want to stay in those eyes, in those moments, a little longer. I can already feel the challenge of being a mother to two because in the evenings I look forward to Avalon going down not just so I can indulgently look at my phone, but so I can sit and feel Skip move without any interruptions.

The other night we had the family I used to nanny for over for dinner. That isn't the most appropriate way to capture who they are to me, but saying "dear friends" just seems so wannabe 19th century of me. Also saying we had them over for "dinner" is potentially misleading as well, seeing as Scott ordered Pizza and picked it up.

We were all sick the week before, so we went right back on the wagon of all-day diapers and morning TV. After watching these two big kids read to Avalon, quote books and offer to clear the table (aka mini-ramp), it gave me plenty of motivation to re-adopt my original parenting plan of trying to watch TV only on the weekends just like this family had modeled to me years earlier. Of course, this hasn't been as difficult for everyone as it has been for me. You see, I miss Savannah Gutherie. Scott and I still watch TV most evenings, of course, my main goal was just to cut down on Avalon's exposure to it. Lately Scott and I have been on a Jeopardy kick, but we also worked in the movies Moonlight and Sing Street. (Have you seen either?)

Avalon will typically choose pushing her bike around the house and splashing in any available water over reading a book, but this isn't to say she doesn't enjoy them. I've actually found her toting a few more around in the mornings in the absence of Savannah and Matt and Jeff Rossen's Reports, so all signs point towards tunnels with protruding light.

I did, however, give in to some screen time while she sat on the potty. Daniel Tiger's singing voice isn't my personal favorite, but I won't tell her yet. Especially since his serenading has proven to be effective so far. I plan to document this potty journey with infrequent, but honest updates. I plan to do the same when we have two babies in one room. I know you'll all be on the edge of your seats.

In the warm mornings and cool evenings we've been spending a lot of time in the yard wearing out our jeans. Scott took out our vertical earth garden last weekend and we put some tomatoes, jalapeños, cilantro, beets and peppers in the ground instead. The hydroponic garden was a great idea, but we just never had the dedication to it that was required. It was kind of like killing a pet fish or hamster over and over again. We never changed the water, never washed the roots and didn't keep an eye on the PH balance, therefore the plants died endlessly in the presence of perfect sun and soil.

Avalon waters the plants herself and spends an equal amount of time sitting on them like a chicken does her eggs. I kiss her two hundred times and ask her "Do you know I love you like crazy?" she always says "Yeah."

You don't have to like every minute of life, I try to remind myself often, just like you don't have to like all the songs the music robots suggest for you, but I am enjoying these moments right now with my husband and the flowers and sun and rain and waves and growing babies.

Thursday, March 16, 2017


"seek" (sick)

Things I have been noticing lately:

Anyone skinny.
Anyone pregnant.
Anyone with two or more kids.

I am not immune to morning sickness like I hoped I would be. I am also not immune to the cliché. My pregnancy cravings have been unpredictable and very real. Sunday it was these certain oat bran muffins from my childhood, today it was this white wine capellini with lemon, some days it's Trader Joe's Pumpernickel Pretzels.

Danielle picked up Jeanine Donofrio's Love and Lemons cookbook in a tiny bookstore that hosted our lunch stop in Mammoth on the way to Tahoe. She continued to read the book aloud for the next hour of the drive. While at first I wished I had headphones, I ended up aspiring to be Jeanine. I don't own the book yet, but the Lemony White Wine Capellini got to my tastebuds immediately. It's also kind of a good go-to if you like the taste of wine, but can't necessarily drink it.

Scott has been home sick a few days this week. He has been an extra child whose nap I have proudly coordinated with my actual child's. I am so excited to see where he is and what he's doing when Avalon and I come home, however uneventful it has typically been. I long all day for the presence of him when he's at work. His essence is so quiet and so big, like a windmill in the desert creating energy for thousands. I am also grateful for the fact that he has been here to witness my days, as monotonous as they may appear to him too. It's simply nice knowing he has seen what goes into getting out the door to swimming class with Avalon; the tiny canvas bags I purchased with his Amazon account meticulously packed with an extra diaper, a sweater, a quick dry towel and size extra-extra small goggles all placed thoughtfully inside a bigger bag (only to be dismantled in minutes upon our arrival at the pool). He witnesses Avalon having a meltdown over me trying to get her to sit on the potty before her nap. The crumbs, dropped and swept over and over again. The ant traps set most likely in vain, the laundry folded poorly, but clean nevertheless. I guess it's just nice knowing he saw all this considering he could easily come home to a whining toddler, an empty Brita filter and a shrunken wool sweater just out of the dryer and feel like not a whole lot has happened around here in a day. Not that he ever would assume that. Maybe it's more what I see when I don't notice anyone else looking.

We found out we are having a girl! Perhaps this should have been headlining news like it might have been elsewhere. I've loved this baby since before she was here and I'll love her forever. That's the easiest and perhaps only thing to really know about our second child. This predestined love is why the fact of her gender is nestled here in the middle of this essay rather than in bold at the top of it. I am, however, expecting to answer the inevitable question of: Do you wish you'd have a boy? And the answer to that is: yes I do. Scott gets this question more than I do, which I find both irritating and understandable. He's a boy, so he is likely to want someone with the same reproductive organs to help him clean the rain gutters and field ground balls, right? Truthfully, I think I would like to have a boy more than Scott.

I was walking Avalon home from the park yesterday afternoon, gazing through the windows and across the patios of the various shaped houses on the best street in our neighborhood both critically and wishfully, imagining how I, myself, would remodel and paint them. When we passed one I have been inside before, a fantasy popped into my mind. I knew this house had a pool unusually located right by the front door. Pools are a challenge to relocate, my expertise goes this far, so in my mental remodel it would stay put. I pictured opening the front door on a school morning, hands full of someone's backpack and someone's lunch and my own spilling water bottle and tangled car keys, ushering kids eagerly towards the car. Then, inevitably because of the location, a mischievous child would push another into the pool and soon they are all in. I am wet and agitated and tired, but instead of unleashing it on the kids, I declare this a pool day and call their principal to excuse them from class.

It's here in this fantasyland that I realize a boy is the one who started it all, as they do according to the most common stereotypes. It's here that I realize I picture having a boy someday too and I don't feel like I have to apologize to my beautiful Skipper girl or my living, breathing heart Avalon Wild when I say that. My love for them is never in question, never wavering, never anything but everywhere. But my answer to the question: do you want to have a boy? is simply yes.

But of all of this, to me, the craziest fantasy is that I get to have these two girls.

+Where are you in the birth order in your family? Or are you an only child?
+What genders are your kids? (is that even how you ask that question? You know what I mean...)
+Happy St. Patrick's Day!
+p.s. as stated in a secret part of instagram, I am looking for potty training advice if you've got it!