Monday, October 31, 2011


If you ever come to San Francisco, this is the time of the year to do it. The weather here is beautifully warm and there isn't much fog to speak.  We are sleeping with the windows open and we get to see the stars and the moon.

Goodnight moon.
Reach a hand to the crescent moon, grab hold of the hollow.
If she sits in the palm of the left, that moon will be fuller tomorrow.
If she sits in the palm of the right, that moon is on the wane. 
~ Crescent Moon, Cowboy Junkies

At Christmas there are fewer houses with twinkle lights than I would like but I will say this: San Franciscans really get into Halloween (Oh my, she looks so little in that post!).  I can't watch scary movies. I really can't. So for me Halloween is more about Snoopy frolicking through the pumpkin patch than anything scary. I have no idea what this 'holiday' is really about but I'm pretty sure it's something pagan (Wikipedia, here I come). Regardless, it involves dressing up and sugar and fun. What could be better than that?

I thought Ada could be Elmo this year. I made her costume. Yes, I made it! There was red fluff on the floor in the kitchen and tracked through the rest of the house for days. Don't be too impressed - if you looked up close you would see all the mistakes that came from this rush job. Friday morning I let her watch 3 hours of TV so that I could finish the costume before baby preschool. And do you know what? She refuses to wear it. I think she might even be afraid of it. So it hangs all floppy and sad from the door jam just waiting for her to change her mind.


As American tradition dictates, we went to the pumpkin patch last weekend. It was sunny and hot and beautiful. We even went on a hayride and contemplated going through a hay tunnel right in the middle of the city.

Ada, Sarah, and Sophia boycotted the tunnel. 

Instead there was lots of climbing over pumpkins and running around trees.





The best was this little bold mole who kept popping in and out of his hole wondering what in the marbles all these people were doing in his front yard?


The girls thought he was super awesome and nothing short of hilarious!


We selected a pumpkin. Poor thing sat uncarved and expressionless on our front step all week long. After a whirlwind of activity Saturday morning we have freshly baked pumpkin bread, homemade orange playdough, freshly roasted and salted pumpkin seeds and what must be the happiest, friendliest pumpkins on the block.


Part of the reason we hadn't carved it yet was that we went over to Kathi and Sarah's place after the pumpkin patch to go swimming and just never made it to the pumpkin carving part. So unseasonal, right? I might feel bad that this is happening as some are getting their first dusting of snow. Truth is, while they enjoyed summer, my hilltop was fogged out and cold. So I don't really feel all that bad.


We'll see if my little one will put on her Elmo costume or not. We're headed to Belvedere St just like we always do. (Oh my double goodness, she was even tinier then!). Remember that tonight is the first night you can break the don't-take-candy-from-strangers rule. Safe trick-or-treating out there. Once again,


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fork in the Road

Our house is insane right now. Hard to imagine that the three bees in this hive can make such a buzz. We are. One thing I'm discovering is that with kids, everything becomes such a much bigger deal. Take Halloween preparations, for example. Weeks. It's been weeks in the making.

Another example and the current big deal is deciding where we are going to be a year from now. Such major life decisions felt big before kids but now they feel massive. For Tim's job search is in all directions, literally. Interviews, travel and consideration of the possibilities are the central focus in our home.

This joker still likes to speculate about what might happen if he doesn't get a job. Things like one more year of fellowship or moving back in with his parents. He's such a modest ding-dong. He's about to get more offers than he knows what to do with. 

And so we find ourselves at a fork in the road. It's been a while since I've found myself in this position. The last time Tim and I found ourselves at a fork in the road we didn't have the entire future of a third party to think about. God willing, we will have a fourth tiny future to worry about too. ( First IUI is scheduled for Thursday - please send baby vibes.)

Big decisions. The hardest part is imagining what the next phase will look like for us. There are some possibilities that I have never imagined and even though I'm in a position now to do so, I still can't. I will support my husband, of course. But my mind is too frozen with fear at this point to wrap around what that fully means. I'm a logical girl at my core I've never been the type to do well with making a list of pros and cons or any similar logical means. No, I just have to sit back and wait for the overwhelming decisiveness and resignation to wash over me. It always does. Meanwhile, I oscillate between feeling excited and terrified, optimistic and defeated, adventurous and safety first.

One thing I know for sure is that she is our top priority.


What is best for her? Her education, safety, preparedness for adulthood, growth - mental, spiritual, physical, exposure to different cultures and learning to embrace, not just accept, the differences. Right now, I want most of all to preserve her boundless joy. Does she need space and nature like her mom or constant stimulation like her dad? I know that as long as we love her we won't totally blow it. I hope we don't blow it.

Grabbing for the sippy cup while on the swing is endlessly entertaining for both of us. For her, I don't know what the joy is all about. Normally if I don't give her what she wants on demand it results in her crumpled in a tantrum-throwing heap on the floor. For me, it's funny because a few years from now being teased like this will just piss her off. 

There are a few other things to think about to when if comes to the question of where we'll put or roots down. Of course, there are issues like financial security and quality of life. Can we pursue our hobbies? Can we nurture our relationships? What do we need and what do we want?

There isn't a way to know or to predict before you make a 180 degree change in your life if it's going to work out or not. I guess that risk is a huge part of the fun. Man, it's scary to jump off into the great black abyss of the unknown. I could argue that it also keeps me alive but in reality there are some geographic places that will never meet my needs no matter how much money you throw at them.

I need quiet and peace and solitude to be accessible when you must have it.

Hey Judy, notice a watch on each wrist? On her right is the one you gave her. On her left is a prize from her first visit to the dentist. Of all the loot, she picked a fake watch!

I need to spend increasingly more time with this one making homemade play dough in our kitchen.


I need relatively safe adventures like hanging off a cart in Target with an exposed diaper. Oooh. Dangerous! Target dates with friends are fun. My Cuban Maria and I did this way back in 2001 before it was cool. Let the tradition live on!


I need to be driven by something other than a tight schedule.


I need my family. I need her. I need space and safety to raise her in.


So much needs to happen before we arrive at a decision. There may be some vague ponderings on this blog between then and now, I'll try to keep it light. If you have read to the end and feel so inclined, do tell: how do you approach major life decisions?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

An Antidote to Worry

A couple of weeks ago I entered for a give-away hosted by the lovely Rebekah (she is the brilliant creator of Ten on 10, my favorite photo challenge). Nobody could have been more surprised than me that I actually won this incredibly generous give-away! Check out this beautiful necklace from Noonday Collection. Such a great company with a beautiful mission.

Christmas is just around the corner so keep them in mind. You can be helpful to the artisan and the recipient will be thrilled with their present!


The necklace wasn't the only beautiful thing included in this package.

When Whitney mailed this necklace to me she included a little sticky note with "Matthew 6:25-34" written on it. Now, I'm not really much of a bible reader these days and my work schedule means that, sadly, I haven't been to church since Ada was baptized. I scurried off and found my bible to read what was a most timely message. In this passage, we are reminded that no earthy possessions are as important as our lives. We are reminded that anxiety is fruitless. The passage ends with,

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Well, Amen.

As I mentioned, this message is timely. No details needed. Just, well, when it rains, it pours. And hails. With thunder and lightning. 

So with that in mind, I'm doing my best to not worry. For me, being thankful is the very best way to NOT focus on the things that make me so anxious. Instead I'm counting my blessings, of which there are so very many.


That right now, I love the pants off my daughter.
Right now, my husband and I are in the throes of being on the giving and receiving end of communication.
Right now I love the other doctors I work with. 
Right now, we have a beautiful community around us - near and far. We are blessed to know such fabulous people.
Right now, the future is terrifying and exciting and hopeful. I get a feeling that it isn't going to shape up to be exactly what I expected. But then, that's one reason I married Tim - he keeps me on my toes.

How do you manage your anxiety? Tips to share with the rest of us? 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Ten Tips for a New Mom

Congratulations!! You have just experienced the most soul-changing, heart-expanding experience any human can live through. Motherhood is an amazing journey with many beautiful surprises. I'm no expert, just a mom who's been where you are. Here are a few bits of advice I wish I had listened to when I was in your shoes.

1. Accept Help: Seriously. This is not the time to be heroic. People want to help you. Let them! If they're doing all that stuff you don't normally want to do anyway then you get to hang out getting to know that amazing little newborn you now refer to as "my son" or "my daughter".

2. Don't worry: Really, just stop. The only thing you should be worried about right now is letting this most delicate precious time zip by without you taking the opportunity to breathe in every single detail. When you find yourself starting to obsess about something just tell her you love her 10 times. Repeat as necessary. I promise it will all be OK.

3. Get newborn portraits done professionally: I didn't do this and I will regret it until the day I die. The perfection of Ada as a newborn is something that only exists in my mind. I want to look at (really good) pictures of her. I want her to be able to look at pictures of herself so that she will know what a miracle she was.

4. Keep a journal of some sort: the human memory is so faulty. Write it down. Write what happened. Write how you felt about it. Write his birth story. when he's a little older, or even a lot older, he will never tire of hearing how that moment changed everything for the better.

5. Trust yourself: You will never get more advice in your life about anything as you will get right now. Take what's useful and discard the rest. Nobody knows this little soul better than you do.

6. Let your husband help you from the very beginning: Do it now, while he's excited about it! Give him positive feedback and be ready for him to do it differently. The baby will survive it. Let him participate. If you squash it now, well, good luck to you a couple of years from now when you are desperate for him to help and he feels inept.

7. Don't let "Perfect" be the enemy of "Good": There is no such thing as perfect parenting - this will drive you insane if you don't kick perfectionism to the curb. Do you best, love your child, protect your marriage and protect yourself.

8. Get Out: You have to preserve your sanity. If you lose yourself, none of this will be any good. Don't let yourself go - go get your hair cut, get a massage, go see your waxist, run!. The baby will be OK with out you for 90 minutes. Keep in touch with your friends. Even though you're on planet baby right now, you will need them later.

9. Prioritize your marriage: That guy? Yeah, him. You married him not too long ago. Actively love him. Connect with him. Go for walks around the neighborhood with your husband  (this saved us during the "witching hour"). You're on the same team, even if you're both on team TIRED.

10. Remind  yourself that YOU ARE A GREAT MOTHER.
So long as the baby isn't going clubbing with you, you aren't putting Budweiser in her bottle and you aren't hitting or shaking her then you probably are a great mom. You are trying your hardest. You are loving that child with all your might.You are making the most responsible choices you can. Nobody can ask more of you than that, including yourself.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Novelty of Normal

Yesterday morning I lay in our bed listening to Ada slowly waking up. I love it that her crib is technically in a different room but she is still only about 10 feet away from me. I can hear her breathing, counting and telling quiet stories to herself as she wakes. Being with her like this is one of the most precious parts of my life. It's just what is normal for us.

We've had visitors, more visitors, dinners, special occasions and interviews to entertain over the last few weeks. It doesn't show any signs of slowing down either. I love that! The messy house and relative disorganization is just a reminder that our lives are full and we are blessed to have in our lives people who love us.

Everything passes eventually. People go home and the house seems a little too quiet for a while before we slip back to normal. As beautiful as it is to hang out with people you love to be with, it is also very beautiful to return to routine and a slower pace. That's where we are this weekend. Just enjoying the slower pace. When I slow down I recognize again all those tiny things that are such an important and amazing part of my daily life.

Something so normal like cooking dinner became an adventure last night. We had a great farm-share box last week and this week but frankly, I was struggling to know what to do with our bounty. I've been craving beans and grains lately so I did a quick search and found THIS RECIPE for butternut squash, kale, and quinoa. I added bacon and Parmesan cheese based on another recipe. I also swapped Delicata winter squash for the butternut and swapped green swiss chard for the kale. I will totally make this again and highly, highly recommend this nutritional powerhouse of a meal. Ada was a very diligent helper and sorted all the squash shavings into the compost bag.




Tim came home last night after an interview at NYU. Goodness. He is very excited about the opportunities there and I'm trying so hard to not rain on his parade but I truly can't see myself living in NYC. We looked at apartments and talked about cost. I wish I was one of those people who was overwhelmed with creative ideas and positive anticipation at such a prospect as moving to NYC. Me? I'm scared out of my wits. Who knows what might happen - anything could happen at this point - but it's going to take a lot of deep breaths to get to a calmer place about this if it should happen.


As usual, things looked much better after a night of sleep. We dropped Tim off at the VA hospital this morning and continued on another 1/8 mile to the beach. When we were there I couldn't help wondering why we don't come to the beach every morning? There were surfers on the water, the waves catching the sun on their crests and even a sea lion basking on the beach. It was heavenly.


Ada kept pointing toward the mighty Pacific ocean saying, "That way! That way! Thaaaaat Waaay!!" I couldn't let her run headlong into this ocean. The undertow will sweep you off your feet and out to the ocean never to be seen again. No, I kept her in my arms and a good couple of feet from the water.


See if you can do it too: as you go through your day find 2 or 3 things that are so normal to you but really are very spectacular!
Looking forward to a weekend of pumpkin carving, playgrounds and other very normal things.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I Love my in-laws. No, I really do!

When I hear about people having really dramatic, tortuous relationships with their in-laws it makes me so sad....and especially lucky. I love my in-laws and am lucky to enjoy a really great relationship with them. Last weekend my in-laws were in town. This meant, among other things, a return to grandparent land. We realized that Judy seems to time her visits to town just right. Ada makes some kind of quantum leap every single time Judy is here!
May I introduce...




Ada has resisted ANYTHING in her hair until now but Grandma Judy turned that around.


Ada was so excited when she first saw herself in the mirror that she jumped up and down and up and down.


In addition to the ponytail break-through Ada experienced a cognitive explosion over the weekend. Her vocabulary doubled. Literally. My late talker caught up in spades.

We entertained the in-laws by taking them to Sonoma for the day on Thursday. Just as we approached Ironhorse Ada was nibbling a cracker and I heard her give a little cough.
"Oh. Shit."
Tim and I caught each others eyes in the rearview mirror instantly understanding what was about to happen. Ada threw up everything she had eaten that day. Everything. All over her dress and the car seat. There we stood stripping her down in the parking lot, using Windex and paper towels to salvage the car seat for what would be a very long and stinky and poorly-ventilated drive home. I've mentioned before that we drive a total piece-of-shit car, right? The only window that will actually go down is the drivers window.  What's really ironic is that 36 hours later the passenger window fell from the tracks and couldn't be put up!

Nevertheless, we got to look at peaceful, serene scenes like this all day:


And one of my favorite people tasted champagne while comforting my other favorite person for having just puked her guts out.


Another thing Ada picked up this weekend  from her grandmother was how to wear a watch. When I first saw her wearing a watch I thought she looked so grown up that it made me sad. Luckily the ponytails later on cancelled it out.


We had lunch at a pizzeria. Ada had fallen asleep in the car so the in-laws and Tim went in to order lunch while I stayed in the car with Ada. I jimmied some shade for her using my cashmere sweater and a car window shade lodged in an open back door (remember, the car stinks of baby vomit) and Judy brought me wine in a plastic cup. It was good actually, I had been craving some alone time.


Later that day I sat beneath a grapevine arbor to enjoy a really lovely pinot noir in a real glass.


Ada woke up and lunch ended. The great pumpkin invited some pictures:



It was a good visit. There were dates, pedicures, bad jokes, picnics with the brother-in-law and a lot of hanging around. I'm so lucky. I love my in-laws!


Monday, October 17, 2011

Guilty Pleasures Listicle

  1. HGTV - Back in 2001 in addition to the very basic cable channels 2-13 I also got HGTV. When I was writing my dissertation I had to cancel my cable. Since we can't afford to buy a house in San Francisco this is how I manage my deep desire for home ownership.
  2. Wine - A really good Pinot Noir is such a beautiful thing. So is a really mineral-ly new world Sauvignon Blanc. Don't even get me started on champagne, proseco and cremant.
  3. Coffee - I'm a purist: brewed coffee with cream only for me. The one exception is an egg nog latte (made with half skim milk). The season for them is nearly upon us. Such a shame that I'm off caffeine now.
  4. Dessert - One treat a day makes me really happy.
  5. Sleep - I would take a nap daily if I could. I would also sleep late daily if I could. I like sleep.
  6. Blogging - Even when I should be doing something else...
  7. Shoes - Cute shoes are my weakness.
  8. Target - a solo trip to Target is therapeutic for me.
  9. Running - I used to be a pretty decent runner. I wish I could find the time to do it again. I've tried everything, literally, with no success.
  10. Alone-time - I am an only child. I need a lot of alone time. I turn really crabby and crazy if I don't get it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Connecting the Dots

Late last week I was all bejiggety.

I consider myself a relatively well-adjusted person most of the time. On occasion though it's just all too much. And while I hate being so whiney all I can say is that I'm only human: I have moments of horrible, paralyzing weakness. Sometimes I blog about those moments. I have nothing to hide, no secrets and, in this case, nothing I plan to apologize for.

At the end of that blog post I was pretty much begging for some kind of message from God. Wouldn't you know? I got it.

We were at the playground with Ada and Sophia after the Blue Angels show on Saturday when Patricia, Sophia's mom, told me about some things that made her see the human experience in a different light. Patricia and I talk about a lot of things and I love her for many reasons. But this topic was unexpected. In fact, I have no recollection of how it came about.

Since I have watched these two videos two things have happened:
1. I realized that I'm the only person on the planet to have not seen these yet.
2. I have come to the momentary conclusion that maybe the future isn't my business. Funny thing for a master planner like me to say but it might be true. In support of this I'll offer that in my experience there have been many, many things that didn't make a bit of sense until much later.

I hope it all makes sense one day. I hope, I hope, I hope.

For those who haven't seen these yet, please do carve out some time to watch or listen. I hope they inspire you or give you strength or make you think. These two speeches did all three of those things for me and I'm so glad I took the time.

Steve Jobs Commencement speech, Stanford 2005

Randy Pausch: The Last Lecture

Dear Shell, 
Thanks for giving us all a safe place to do this. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

This Might Make You Mad

I just now visited the blog of a girl who got pregnant about the same time as me and was due about 2 days before I was. She posted some recent bump pictures. I just want to cry. I'm happy for her and everything but if that pregnancy hadn't ended I would have a glorious bump and a baby due about 2 months from now just like her. Instead, I'm not pregnant and there is no pregnancy in sight.

I don't get it.

What did I do to deserve this?

Again in the Safeway Wed night I saw a woman with her baby. The baby was maybe 14 or 15 months old.  She was telling him to "Shut the fuck up. Right now." when I came around the corner. This toddler  wasn't doing anything bad, mind you. It was past 8:00 pm and they were in be beer aisle, her cart already with two 6-packs and she was selecting another. Maybe I'm being too judgey but I see several things wrong with this scenario.

On my way to work Tuesday I saw a woman stomping down the street about 10 paces behind some man who was apparently trying hard to not listen to her. Her son (I assume he was hers) was in an umbrella stroller that was way too small for him with his knees crooked one way and his head crooked the other. He was fast asleep even though his mom was all of 2 feet away and screaming at the top of her lungs. Again, it was about 7:45 in the morning and this 4 or 5 year old boy was fast asleep. I know I'm working with an n=1 but if you take into consideration all the women I know who have kids all I'm saying is that none of them are fast asleep at 7:45 am if they slept in their own bed the night before (or any bed for that matter).

I know we're all doing the best we can (or most of us are. OK, some of us are) but there are times that I see this stuff and think, "Even my worst of the worst is still better than that." And yet God sees fit to entrust little souls to these women? I don't get it and so I start to doubt that there is a God. I mean, seriously this must be proof that either there is no God or he is stacking the odds toward the human race extinguishing themselves.
And that's when I feel alone. Very, cosmically and spiritually alone. I would love a sign that He is out there, that he cares, that I should hang on or move on or something. But nothing...just silence. And God,  I'm listening. Where the f*#&k are you when I need you?

Sorry to offend my Christian friends but I'm having some major issues with faith lately, in case you couldn't tell. I wish I had that some faith I had 15 years ago when there was so much less stuff to shake it. Or another baby. Either of those would be good right now.

Smack Me: This is where I live!

OK, before the weekend really gets moving I have to share a few things.

Last year I picked up a bunch of clearance Halloween costumes at Target. Sometimes Ada likes to play dress up. Frankly, if a $3.00 costume get ruined what do I care?  Introducing my little bumble bee. Not only is she cute as a bug, she can pretend-type really fast just like mommy and daddy, who she now refers to as "poppy". It's better than calling him mommy.


Yesterday we had some errands to run. Tim picked up his suit from Brooks Brothers. My man cleans up nice. I don't want it to be true but it really is true: seeing him shined up is nice. So nice. Ada helped by getting the little thingy that marks the cuff length. What's awesome is that she didn't see it being used yesterday. Oh, no. She saw it be used one single time 2 weeks ago. My Heart is smart.


Tim is officially on vacation so we took this rare opportunity to hang out. We went to the Ferry Building for oysters and gelato. It was almost just like our first date after Ada was born except for that this time she was with us and the Blue Angels were flying over the bay.



I turned around to find her all wet from the rain but enjoying her strawberry gelato. About 2 blocks later I looked again to find her totally passed out but still clutching her ice cream cone. 

She went right back down for a nap once we got home. After a brief rain, the jets came back out to practice. It was making me crazy to hear them but not see them. So we broke a rule. When we moved into this apartment 4 years ago we were told that it was cool to do whatever we wanted (we're responsible, considerate people) but don't go on the roof. I broke that rule yesterday evening.

Holy Lord. The view from up there is freaking amazing. We had to take a wee break but went back up to find totally different weather.

There's the Pacific Ocean leading into the San Francisco bay inlet. Off in the distance the bit of land is Bolinas. Amazing how the weather changes that fast and it makes everything look so different. 

The tips of the Golden Gate bridge. 

And then the jets started to practice. I LOVE IT! The noise you don't hear until the planes are long gone, how fast they are, the precision....oh my goodness. This makes physics and chemistry so tangible. I am in awe that humans created machines that do this. Keep in mind that I only have a shitty lens on my camera so the planes don't even look as big as they are in real life. From the roof of our house they fly so close!







Totally awesome, right? Up on that roof all I could keep thinking was, "Holy crap. I LIVE here!"Even though there are some things about this city that make me insane I can see why people are willing to put up with the craptastic school situation and extreme expense of living here. It's so beautiful.

Ada is waking up and we're going over to Tank Hill to watch the jets practice this afternoon. I'll update again later. I hope everyone has an amazing weekend. Later on, peeps.