Sunday, May 28, 2017

2nd Trimester, 2nd Child

Surfing from weeks 14-26 of my second pregnancy with "Skip".

+Happy Memorial Day weekend!
+Thank you to all those who have served!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Coping Strategies

Before I was pregnant with this second baby 'the question' started to arise in conversations at the local fish taco shop, at birthday parties and while waiting in line at Joann Fabric: Are you ready to have another? 

Questions like this used to annoy me, but I've since realized that they are simply the most natural next thing to ask. To some degree, it almost seems cocky to respond "Yes!" because it almost feels like saying: obviously I have this whole parenting thing under control, parenting books are merely gathering dust at our house and our child is basically raising herself. For the record, I did not feel 100% ready to go to sleep-away camp, or high school, to surf Desperados in Fiji or really to have my first or second child, and yet here we are: totally, sometimes dully, fine. 

I have, however, struggled with anxiety and depression from time to time despite living a life I wholly love, appreciate and enjoy. I feel like it might be obvious in an internet space wallpapered with pictures of me enjoying these activities to say that surfing and skateboarding are two of my main coping strategies in life. A therapist once told me that anxiety is more future oriented and depression is commonly associated with feelings about the past. Surfing and skateboarding always bring my focus right to the wall in front of me. They are the best therapy. The thing is, I like to be sweating in cold water, even bleeding on hot concrete. I want to feel afraid and then the satisfaction of overcoming that fear. I want to feel busted wide open by life and what it means to live it. When you are pregnant, though, it's kind of frowned upon to huck yourself off ledges just for the rush. While I have still surfed throughout my pregnancies so far, I find myself needing other coping mechanisms to replace that adrenaline rush I thrive on, so I decided to outline a few of them here in case anyone out there needs them and also to keep the conversation about mental health and coping strategies open.

1. Home Improvement. Scott loves this coping strategy I've devised. What could be a better way to cap off a long hard day filled with meetings and a timed lunch break than opening your email to see a bunch of obscure Amazon purchases such as 'White Enameled Soap Dish', 'BEKVAM Wooden Utility Step' and 'XL New Zealand Sheepskin'? Or arriving home to a disassembled bookshelf painted by a possessed pregnant lady with the same painting skills as Abu from Aladdin?

In all honesty, although I am extremely novice when it comes to home design, I have found a great amount of pleasure painting things white, honing my shopping skills online and at thrift and antique stores and trying to understand how to make our space function as well as it possibly can for our growing family. We realized early on in my pregnancy that we most likely would't be able to move to a bigger home in our neighborhood, so I have justified nearly every last 'Cedar Garden Sign' purchase with the reasoning that it is cheaper than a new house!

I've gotten a lot of inspiration from the blog Reading My Tea Leaves (life in a tiny apartment series // baby proof series), Pinterest and Instagram. I tend to be a copy artist when it comes to most things related to style (I frequently buy the outfit the mannequin is wearing). I don't necessarily come up with original ideas in this field, but I have learned a lot from looking at pictures, understanding what I am repeatedly drawn to and slowly (rather than impulsively, like I used to) adding to our material possessions by making sure that we love and use nearly everything we own (and pass on what we don't). This house is about 1,000 square feet and there are about to be four of us occupying it, some creativity and pregnancy specific angst were required.

2. Gardening. I am approaching gardening similarly to how I approached having pet fish: enthusiastically, but with low expectations. I grew a bunch of carrots last fall and took pictures of them in all their shriveled-orange glory only to have them sit in the fridge for a week slowly resembling decomposing fingers. We're still in the beginner phase here, but I feel like gardening is the perfect low impact, relaxing outdoor activity I need right now. I love learning new things and I feel like it's a really fun, educational and hands-on activity for Avalon. She helps me water the whole garden after her nap most days. It's a calming activity for both of us to immerse ourselves in during those quiet and sometimes trying evening hours before dinner and Scott getting home.

3. Motherhood. Of course, once you have kids you nearly always feel soaked to the core in all things parenthood no matter how many date nights you go on or how much 'me time' you take. I didn't really know how to put this on my list of coping strategies, but I have certainly kept myself busy and enriched teaching Avalon to do more for herself lately. Potty training, washing her hands, brushing her teeth and setting the table have been a few of the areas I've spent time educating her on lately. This is probably hilarious to my family since they insist I have the worst breath of everyone and that I failed cotillion. I know teaching some of these tasks can seen tedious, but, aside from the frequent contact with human waste, I actually really enjoy the process of learning how to teach someone something new.

We all wear different hats in our lives. Sometimes I'm sporting knee-high socks to the grocery store to feel like a skater, but since that doesn't feel like it's at the forefront of my identity right now, I will happily visit the library in maternity clothes I saw on an instragram icon and embrace the excitement that is toting a toddler toilet around in your car. We can do this. 

+What are some of your coping strategies for pregnancy or otherwise?

Monday, May 15, 2017

Dear Skip,

Dear Skip,

It's a Monday afternoon and your sister is sleeping forever. Mondays and long naps go well together, but so do Tuesdays and long naps and so on. You get the idea. 

Mother's Day and my birthday have come and gone and now I have very few excuses to justify buying antique hurricane lamps on Etsy and insisting we need another sheepskin rug. Although, that's where you come in. "Nesting", as preparing for a baby is so lovingly called, gives justification to even the most perplexing of online purchases. 

No wait, that's not how I want to start.

Hi little girl. It's hard to know where to begin with this letter, but I'm sorry I haven't written yet. It seems a bit daunting to follow suit with these letters after doing them for your sister. There is so much room for comparison when it comes to siblings, and sisters.

I want to remember these days for you because I know you won't. I want to remember the time when you were a tiny somersault under my heart. I want to write to you so you know how much you were wanted.

As much as I count down the minutes until this season of getting wider, surfing less, being an onlooker to cocktail hour and not being able to see you breathing will be over, nine months, in the zoomed-out perspective of life, is just a hiccup in time.

I am 24 weeks pregnant with you. I am five and a half or six months along. The internet can't really decide. We surf together in cold spring winds, walk the aisles of Trader Joe's and call it exercise, wear socks with dresses and sandals and quietly hope no one will reach out and touch us.

The swollen ankles haven't come, but they will and when the do no one needs to hear about them, but I want you to hear this:

I have asked for you in whispers, in the rain, during church at Catholic school, in notebooks...underwater. I knew I wanted you long before you were you.

You are a quiet force, a gentle presence, a reminder that so much good is meant to be had while we spin around on this ball of water and compacted dirt.

It's impossible to express how thankful I am that you have chosen me to be your home. It's impossible to truly know how much I will love you and know you and how we will grow as mother and daughter.

But I do know I'm glad to have you in this with me.



"My mother was my first country. The first place I ever lived." ~Nayyirah Waheed

p.s. Happy Mother's Day to all of you moms, mommas, mums, stepmothers, surrogates, aunts, caretakers, grandmothers, godmothers, supporters of mothers and on and on out there.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Florida or Bust

I could start this post off by sharing the very wonderful quotes my mom provided me in Florida, totally out of context so that you might assume she is some kind of (endearingly) crazy person, alas I will not do that to her I am saving them for my book.

Ok, just one. 

One night as we were walking the quaint cobblestone streets of St. Augustine, the oldest city in the nation, according to Wikipedia and all of the local cop cars, my mom and Danielle began debating what constituted eating red meat in moderation after a glass of wine. I was generally ignoring them, trying to be the Harriet the Spy of the twenty-teens, snap chatting an out of control wedding after party atop a presumably haunted mansion from the 1920s when I overheard this:

Danielle: "Mom eating red meat once a week is not moderation!"
Mom: "Compared to the general population it is."
Danielle: "No."
Mom: "Oh Danielle, quit chopping off my balls."

I can only assume that she got caught between saying "quit busting my balls" and "quit busting my chops," however, for the benefit of everyone within earshot and now hopefully for you, she got confused. 

Anyways, a week or so ago my family and I went to St. Augustine, Florida. I cannot disclose the exact reason for the trip, however, since I know you are much more interested in how we slept with our 22 month old in the same small rental boat berth and how I avoided Zika, I will start there. 

Actually Zika is not a current concern in Northern Florida and the wind also happened to be blowing about 20 knots everyday so not much of anything was flying around, except, of course, for my Monica-from-the-Barbados-episode of-Friends style hair. 

One night Scott looked over at me romantically and said "I love how stringy your hair is in the wind." It doesn't exactly ring romantically in your ears, but I knew he meant that way so I reveled in it anyways as we explored that ancient city with our toddler and baby on the way. 

Knowing our lives are about to drastically change makes me appreciate the tiny details before it does.
-The three of us sleeping in the same room;
-The pack and play crammed between the end of the bed and the bathroom so I had to do a pommel horse routine over Scott in the dark just to get to it. 
-The way I could hear Avalon and Scott breathing while I read in the dark and the air conditioning hummed.

We played silly games at night as a family. One was Scategories without the category cards because they got left at home, so we made them up ourselves. One category created was WAYS TO HURT YOUR FAMILY which sounds depressing from the start, but for 'B' I wrote: Bang Them Into a Spikey Wall and Andy wrote: Bitch-Slap Them. He is fitting into this family perfectly. It was pleasantly obvious on his first, official family trip.

On our second to last day, Avalon woke up to the sound of our rental boat leaving the dock. She asked for me immediately. "Mamma! Mommy-Ma!" It always makes my heart flutter. That's part narcissism, part real love, I figure. I want to always remember the way she fit perfectly into the nook of my neck.

She got seasick after eating a banana an hour later, then fell asleep on my chest as the wind cranked through the bridge at 15 knots and we hid under a wool blanket. My new neighborhood chiropractor said to avoid bending over as much as possible, but as I sat there for nearly two hours I could only picture my spine making the precise shape of the letter 'C', with Avalon and baby Skip cupped in the center of it. I fantasized about this oblong pillow on our bed below deck being tucked carefully under my lower lumbar, but I knew some day I'd fantasize about this moment instead. The weight of two babies on me and the way in which the word mother subtly began to describe so much of who I am; how I wanted to own that word more than anything else before and maybe again.

This trip felt like a real vacation and also like a "Babymoon" for Avalon and I. My mom, dad, sisters, Andy and Scott gave me plenty of alone time without her to read a whole book and get a moderately noticeable tan, but Avalon was also extra clingy in a new setting. I'll cherish those memories most of all.

Monday, April 24, 2017


Last year on my birthday I got a miniramp. During the following year I managed to sleep through the night while on vacation, watch zero episodes of The Voice, get norovirus, snowboard while pregnant, answer two clues on Jeopardy in question form and only sprain my ankle. I am also working my way into maternity clothes and trying really hard to grow the easiest garden vegetables possible.

However, last week I spent an approximate total of three and a half hours crying for unknown reasons, although almost all signs point to hormones and big life changes. Avalon does not appear to be ready to understand that hands are not for hitting and I do not appear to be ready for her to go to preschool or stop mommy-and-me swimming. There is a shift happening in our house, there is a life making her way here, we can all feel it even though no one can see her yet or know who she will be. We each are pulling her into our stories with so much blind love... and trust. She's been ours all along and we've been her's. 32 years on this earth and even a change I've yearned for every minute of those years, throws me.

In some ways, I see pregnancy like a really long line for a roller coaster. Sure, there are some entertaining things to see while you wait in nervous anticipation, like all the skulls and treasure maps and horny teenagers waiting for the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland, but for crying-freaks-sake-- I just want to ride the ride! What will it feel like and how will we be different when it's over? I want to know now!

As selfless as it can be viewed, in some perspectives, pregnancy makes me feel like I'm wrapped in a blanket of narcissism like one of those hotdogs swaddled in bacon at a football party. I can't stop thinking about who I am becoming. I want only love, pasteurized mango juice and for Scott to read my mind. No wonder we've both been so tired. Parenting while intoxicated with estrogen and progesterone has been difficult for my faint heart.

Five months ago a boy in my sister's grade was diagnosed with cancer. Today I talked to my mom after his funeral. We both know that Maddie's cancer story could have gone another way. Tomorrow I will think of that; of how life is a gift even though sometimes we can't see why. My sister will think of her friend Peter her whole career as a filmmaker and I will think of him tomorrow when I celebrate 32.

I will hold my new daughter in September and the days of fear and sickness and hopelessness and surfing like a keg of beer will seem like the pleasant past and I will be thankful for my life and all the others who have touched it.

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 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!