Wednesday, June 20, 2012


A friend used the word "stabby" to describe her own behavior today. Immediately, I was like, "YES! Oh my God, yes! That is completely how I feel right now: STABBY."

I have reached that point of pregnancy where nothing fits anymore and I am constantly uncomfortable for one reason or another. Just breathing is a chore right now. This kid is so high that there is no room for my stomach to expand and I have perpetual heartburn. There is simply not enough sleep in the world to meet my needs. Pretty much all I want to do is lay on my left side and anything that interferes with that makes me feel stabby.

   LEFT: Me tonight (35w).                                    RIGHT: Me at 36w pregnant with Ada.

So, essentially everything makes me feel stabby.

At least Tim is a grown-up man. He can reason his way around his pregnant, stabby wife and knows that it will pass. Poor Ada must wonder what in the hell is going on with her mother who can't pick her up at all anymore and whose lap is completely absent now. I'm sure my limited patience isn't good for her either. This morning she said, "Mom, you're killing me!" and I realize how frequently my patience wears thread-bare thin these days. Don't even get me started on the Allied Van Lines guy who didn't show up today for the in-home estimate. He may want to wait a few days before coming around here.

So what's a super-pregnant girl to do? I came up with a list because even I need a little something to reference:

  1. Eat easily digestible food. If it hangs around too long I just spend hours and hours burping it up and that's just gross.
  2. Ask for help. The nanny comes one day a week now for a few hours and it saves me. I've been putting a lot more in Tim's court too. Poor guy is stressed out as it is but sometimes by the end of the day I really have reached my physical limit.
  3. Say no and mean it. And don't feel bad about it. I realize now that I may have done myself a disservice by making "doing-it-all" look effortless.
  4. Sleep whenever possible. A bedtime of 8:30? Sleeping in until the last possible moment? Taking a nap? Yes. Yes. and Yes.
  5. Take the bus more often. Seriously. It's a pride thing but man, walking up the hills to get back to our house is enough of a deterrent that I don't get Ada out to the playground nearly as often as I should. That's not good for either of us. 
  6. Quiet Activities - I bought a bag of beads for $7.99 at Michael's and she has spent about 4 hours over the past week stringing new necklaces one after the other. This was so worth eight clams. I need ore stuff like this. She paints, plays with her ponies, 'reads' books to herself, plays with playdough, does puzzles, etc and is presently obsessed with her new doll house that was a birthday present from her grandparents. I need more stuff like this and by 'this' I mean stuff that doesn't involve me bending over or doing anything else remotely physical. 
I'm happy to hear anything anyone else did late in pregnancy to make keeping up with their toddler more manageable. Parking her in front of the TV is not my favorite option. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


I started this post last night and finished up today.

I can hardly believe that it was three years ago tonight that I had spent the day tracking contractions. Tim and I ate breakfast at our favorite neighborhood restaurant. By evening, I was having such close, intense contractions that I couldn't eat dinner. We walked around our hilly San Francisco neighborhood instead and and I sat on the front steps to random houses while I had contractions. We hiked to the top of Corona Heights, believing the exercise would help my body do what it needed to do.


At this moment 3 years ago I knew that we would meet our daughter soon. I was ready, I felt prepared for whatever labor was about to bring my way. Tim went to bed for a while. I tried, but couldn't sleep so I got up and labored by myself for 6 hours. When it got to be too intense I woke him at about 4:30 in the morning. I sat in the shower for about an hour while he put a few final things into the hospital bag and then we went in. I remember that 1.2 mile drive - pushing my heels into the floorboard of the passenger side with each contraction.

She was born on a Friday afternoon at 5:30 pm. It's been 3 years since this beautiful creature slipped into our lives. She changed everything for the better.


She saved me in many ways. She made me a mother. I could never do enough to show just how incredibly thankful I am that this child is my child.

Moments after birth, utterly depleted and so fulfilled. 

As her birthdays come year-by-year, each one has a new and different significance for me. I assume this is natural and depends entirely on not only what the previous year held but expectations for the coming year. It's the only period of a couple of days that I can recount nearly every moment of with details still intact. It's the single-most beautiful, transformative event of my entire life. Reliving it every year for myself is a personal yardstick for growth and progress.

The more obvious measure is her growth and progress! This year, her growing independence is starkly contrasted by the completely dependent baby still inside my belly. Three years ago she was still inside me, protected. Then in an instant she wasn't anymore - just like that she was a person in the world with a name and a number and a slew of worldly things already making their way to the brand new identity that was suddenly her own.


Babies are born. That is the natural order of things. But I clearly remember looking down at my deflated belly where my baby wasn't anymore. She had been there only seconds earlier in the only way I had ever known her. I looked past my empty body toward her. It seemed to me that she was exposed and vulnerable, out of my reach and flailing helplessly on a cold scale. In fact, she was apart from me now and on the other side of the room doing all the things she was supposed to be doing: breathing on her own, closing off routes of fetal cardiac blood flow, protesting the cold and screaming for me! Those few surreal seconds were the most bewildered I ever felt in my whole life. My daughter was doing beautifully while I looked on in disbelief, "but she was just here".


Sometimes it feels like that is still our relationship: She dances along effortlessly from one milestone to the next while I look on in amazement.


Kids are meant to grow into adults who go out into the world and function to their fullest all on their own. Preparing my kids for an adulthood without me is one of my main goals of parenting. I mean, I won't be around forever. Sooner or later they'll need to take care of themselves. I've only been successful as a parent to the degree to which I've prepared them to do that. The part of this that I think about A LOT is how to tell her and demonstrate for her that even though she may be on her own, her parents will always be the ones clutching the corners of her safety net.

I look at Ada and see her blossoming independence. She has spent the past three years exploring, stretching and learning. She insists to do some things herself and it's beautiful to watch her do well and be proud of herself. Meanwhile, I have spent these three years slowly, ever so slowly, learning to let her go bit by precious little bit. The process is gradual, as nature meant it to be. We all need time to adapt.


It's hard for us too when she falls and gets hurt, is rejected by another little kid on the playground or when she's frustrated that her body is still too little to follow her commands. She runs back to Tim and I when she needs comfort in these times. We are there every single time with open arms, kisses and the promise that we're right there to take care of her. Then, we let her borrow a little of our confidence and spin her back out to the world as many times as she needs to in order to 'get it'. This is what it's all about, right? Laying a supportive foundation now with little things like climbing and feeding herself with a spoon. I want this to be as much a part of her fundamental thinking as anything else: her parents love her unconditionally and will always be there to catch her when she falls.

For now, I can hear her at the end of her birthday day laying in her bed singing "Happy Birthday to you". So far she has sang happy birthday to herself, mama, daddy, grandma, Alicia, Colin and a tree. Now she is pretend snoring. I hope this means she is going take her three-year-old self and drift off to sleep.  I know I'm about to drift off to sleep. It's just like it was 3 years ago.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Hot day, Father's Day

Having friends in town for the weekend has given us just the perfect excuse to take a break from the beige-ification going on around here.  One thing I love about having visitors is that it also provides the perfect excuse to be a tourist in your own town. In the 5 years that we have lived here we've seen a lot. However, there is so much that Tim has seen without me - for the past 4 years I've worked at least one weekend day every week. Now I'm catching up.

Normally, while the rest of the country is baking, our little city is blessed by mild temperatures and ocean winds all summer long but not yesterday. Yesterday was an unseasonably hot day in the Bay Area.  So what did we do? We filled our stainless steel water containers with water, slathered on sunscreen and took our guests on the ferry from Tiburon to Angel Island.  This is where it gets crazy. We then embarked on a 4 mile hike to the top of Mt. Livermore (only a 1500-ish foot elevation change). Yes, an 8 month pregnant lady, a 3-year-old, a 13-year-old and 2 regular adults started optimistically up the mountain.

Tim kept promising that "we're almost there" and "it's just around the next switchback" but all that seemed to await us was more sun exposure and a mild climb. The last time he did this hike he was with his marathoner friend and they were passively competitive with each other meaning they basically raced to the top. His memory might have been a little skewed. The elevation and the distance were fine, actually. It was just so darn hot!

We all made it to the top. Even me, which I can hardly believe. The views at the top are nice - panoramic scenes of the whole bay.


The flies up there were crazy bad though so I went down a few feet and sat on the bench with Heather. Don't I look happy? And about eleventy billion years pregnant?


You know who was the real trooper? Ada. That little girl ran up and down the trail stopping to point things out to us and occasionally throw a rock into the brush.  She tripped over some tree roots in the ground a couple of times but popped back up saying, "I'm OK!" She did insist that her dad carry her about 65% of the way and bless his heart he did it without complaint or annoyance. We are encouraged that our best hiking days lay still ahead of us. We've been out of the circuit for a while since Ada outgrew the Kelty we used to put her in. We've missed it terribly and have been dying to get back on the trails.


Another boat ride, a snack, a shower and a nap later we all felt human enough again.


Just in time for Fathers Day.


I let Tim sleep in until almost 10 and when he woke up he got a handmade card from Ada and a coffee mug she made (almost) all by herself at the pottery studio. Then I took my bestie down to the salon and got my toes painted bright turquoise just because I thought Ada would like it. I'll do this more often because she has been obsessed with my toes all day! Sadly, this activity wore me out and I had to come home to take a 2 hour nap. I'm still pretty darn tired from yesterday.

Tim's a great dad and Ada thinks he is the greatest person to ever live. In the past couple of weeks a prominent daddy's girl streak has surfaced. She begs for his attention, thriving when she gets it and crumbling to pieces when she doesn't. The other day he was laying on the bed reading Sports Illustrated and she was working so hard to get his attention. After about 30 seconds of standing next to the head of the bed, being sweet and being ignored she folded her arms on the edge of the bed, buried her face and cried!
I said, "Wow, babe. You're powerful." To which Tim looked up to see his daughter in a dejected, sobbing heap next to him. After I told him what happened, because apparently he was too absorbed for any of this to register, he scooped her up and made it all better. They read Sports Illustrated together.


I love these moments.


I'm very lucky to have a married and had children with a man who understands how important he is to his children and who takes that role very seriously. However, I would like to point out that in the morning she comes straight to me for cuddling and gentle waking because she loves her mommy too. I'm pretty sure this just makes Ada and I both the luckiest girls around.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


The color beige gets a bad rap these days. When did neutrality become so terrible? Isn't Switzerland still worthy of emulation? Aren't the foundation pieces of a professional wardrobe supposed to be timeless and neutral? And let's not overlook the tremendous value of neutral statements like "how 'bout that" and "what do you know?" They've graciously saved my ass countless times.

Decorating might be a slightly different platform. I appreciate color. In fact, I appreciate it so much that when we moved into our current place in San Francisco I put deep, rich, bold color up on every single wall. It's an old house so you have to be careful - it's easy for that bright, beautiful red you saw in the Pottery Barn catalog to just look garish. I know cause I tried. It looked like arterial blood in our front hallway. Good for Halloween but not good for anything else. So it was Audubon Russet in the office, Copley Gray in the living room, Cake Stand Blue in the kitchen and Great Barrington Green in the sunroom (Ada's room).

Our landlord was kind enough to allow us to do whatever we wanted to the place when we moved. The verbal agreement was that we would paint it all back whenever we moved out. When I made that promise I didn't count of being 7+ months pregnant, having to entertain a toddler and trying to orchestrate a cross-country move. Nevertheless, I love Lili and Steve so I would never, ever go back on my word. Last week I said goodbye to Ada as she rode off with the nanny. I came inside, put some cucumber slices into a pitcher of water and went into the utility room to crack open a can of paint.

I started in the bedroom because I had the stuff I needed to start painting the ceiling. Yes, the ceiling, which I had painted Branchport Brown (BJM). I like a dark ceiling especially with a painted white fake deer antler chandelier suspended from it. I never got around to the chandelier part of decorating our bedroom but the ceiling was a different story. That dark ceiling made it possible to get our bedroom pitch black - very helpful for the weeks that Tim spent on nightfloat. Covering it up is a pain in the ass though. No worries, job is done, ceiling is a pristine flawless white.



I stood back this morning and looked at the new lightness of our bedroom. The hardware and consequently the curtains are down. The room is empty save our bed and dressers. The vinyl branches and bird decal was stripped of the wall behind our bed. What struck me was that I liked it. I liked the simplicity and minimalism of it. I know that I only like this because it's novel.


Sorry but the new Photobucket interface is pissing me off. I've followed the tutorial for making a collage and it doesn't work! Bastards.
Wanna know who else are new-interfacing bastards? Playlist, that's who. It doesn't come on automatically because I know that you all might not love my playlist as much as I do. That doesn't mean that I don't want it to be displayed at all.

Remember what it was like the first time you stood in your new home? There was no furniture, no pictures on the walls, no curtains...just endless potential.
Now, remember what it was like when you stood in your old home for the last time? No furniture, no pictures on the walls, no curtains...just memories in every corner of every room.

When someone comes around to look at a place with the idea of dwelling there they don't want to imagine you there. They want to imagine themselves there. And so beige-ification has begun - the entire apartment will be painted what is perhaps the most perfect interior color ever created: Bleeker Beige (BJM). I am methodically moving from room to room erasing any evidence of 'us'. We've had 5 years of a very full life in this apartment. There are signs of us everywhere you look. This is going to take some effort.

Ada tells Tim, "Dad! You missed a spot! You missed a spot, dad! Dad! Daddy! Right here!"
I expected to feel a little bit sentimental and melancholy, I'm surprised to find that I don't. Rather, I feel the palpable evidence that a challenging phase of our life - one that we sometimes swore might never end - is finally over. Rather than continually looking back at this place, I'm constantly looking froward to the new place, the new baby, the new life we are creating for ourselves. I'm so excited about it all that even beige walls can't bring me down!

Ada bids a cheerful farewell to Audubon Russet and welcomes in the age of beige.

Friday, June 8, 2012


I've been done with my job for 3 full weeks now.

I went for dinner with friends from work the other day. One of them was asking me if I felt the expected sense of relief when I left my job. Truthfully? No, I didn't and I don't. I was still able to sit at the restaurant with them for 4 hours talking about everything, including work, as if I were still there. I still find myself having imaginary conversations with certain people - the kinds of conversations you could never have in real life because in them you're telling your superiors what you really think of them. So, no. It's still a little too fresh and the irritation a little too sensitive.

This guy is in the last weeks of his current position. He's king of a stress-ball and totally burned out. Our one-eyed cat totally doesn't let it get to her - she's in position for the night.


I spend a repulsive amount of my time taking care of business. So much so that I think my middle name should be changed to "gets shit done". My list of things to do has swelled to mind boggling proportions and includes "insurance" a lot. My belly has also grown making everything I do take so much longer. Today, we took the 33 bus home from the Haight. Yes, I rode the bus exactly 4 blocks - 4 UPHILL blocks. Ada thought it was a great adventure and I thought it was totally worth the $2 to make it up the hill without losing my breath or my breakfast. BONUS: we were on time to my dentist appointment and Ada was cooperative and relaxed because I wasn't nagging her to hurry up because we were late.


So, in a lot of ways things haven't calmed down at all. Here's what I notice though - while I am pre-occupied with insurance, bank accounts, registrations, de-activations, preparing our apartment for us to move out and taking care of my family what I'm NOT trying to do is all of this AND hold down a 40+ hour week at a job outside of my home. I'm not going to get into who has it worse, working moms or stay-at-home moms because that's an argument with no winner. However, I can say that in my experience, the past 3 weeks have been like a freaking vacation compared with what I've been trying to pull off for the past 3 years.

Mostly I love this because it leaves me with a lot more time to hang out with Ada.


Even if we aren't doing much, which we usually aren't, it doesn't matter. I sense it that she is good with the change. I think her behavior is much less volatile too, not that she has ever qualified as 'hard-to-handle'. Maybe it's just recall bias on my part but I objectively see that there are fewer outbursts and greater patience on both our parts. Since it's just life with a toddler, it's not all perfect but for the most part the days have a pace and flow that is just so easy.


This is also a blessed opportunity to know her this way too. Yeah, quality time is something to treasure but it seems to me that you never know which time you spend with your children will be quality and which of it will suck because somebody is teething or getting a virus. She's changing and growing so fast. I can hardly believe that in a week and a half she'll be 3 years old. Three! The ticking Widget timer is always on my mind too (provided he reads the text books). We have around 6 weeks left with just her and I.


She's still into the camera.


She likes to play school.


And at least someone is using the potty.


She's super helpful with getting the apartment ready for us to move out.


She digs hanging out with friends that we had previously only had the opportunity to see intermittently.


Sometimes they teach her bold things.


She sings and sings. I didn't know my daughter could come up with so many variations to 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' such as "he's the best, he's the best" and "Mommy mommy mommy mommy".

She can recite Marvin K Mooney Will You Please Go Now, Kittens First Full Moon, The Santa Claus Book, Emily's Balloon, Llama Llama Misses Mama and parts of Green Eggs and Ham.

She's industrious, organized, sweet and very smart.

I'm figuring out what works best to keep her occupied while I have to get things done and just how much neglect from me she will tolerate (e.g. how many chores can I get done before she notices). Every day I'm challenged to come up with new things for her to do and for us to do together. It's not all about entertainment though - the bulk of our time is spent closely doing normal stuff like scrambling eggs and taking a bath. I love it. I love having this opportunity to just be with her.

And that's my life as a stay-at-home mom. For now. This period is marked by such rapid change that I'm going to hang on to these moments with her for as long as I can. Tim told me the other day that he just wishes he could "slow her down". It's almost like you can see her changing right in front of you in a matter of a day. She's so freaking cute right now that I want to just soak it in as much as I possibly can.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Blue House

Aaaannnddd...this is why I will never be a professional blogger with hundreds of thousands of followers.
It's been quiet around here. I know, too quiet. What's funny is that it's my husband who chirps up every now and then with a "it's been quiet on your blog," to which I mutter something lame about time.

After my last day of work two weeks ago I embarked on my first task as a stay-at-home mom and wife: Task Force Find a Place to Live in New York was launched 3 days after I quit my job. This trip was no joke. I had a job to do and I intended fully to get that shit done. There were lots of "you're crazy" and "poor thing, you should be resting" comments but I wasn't deterred. Without an address it was impossible to get this move on the road.

Of course, the day before I left for New York I spent the entire day in L&D ruling out a deep venous thrombosis. I don't know how Widget is sitting in there but the venous return from my right leg is shit. My whole leg looks like the surface of someones brain with some spider veins sprinkled on top to make it prettier. I'm not a vain girl by any stretch of the imagination but if this doesn't resolve once this kid is out I'm straight to a vein specialist to get it all 'taken care of'. Also, for the record, I'm tired of pulling my pants up. I've decided that pregnancy is just 40 weeks of constantly pulling up your pants.

After too many hours on a plane I touched down in New York. Last time I was there it was with the sole purpose of deciding if I could make this place my home. This time I was there with the sole purpose of signing a lease. It may be naive, but I was just not worried. I know, right? We've always managed to find great places that are way undervalued and being rented out by really nice people. Our current landlords have been by far the very best but honestly, we get lucky every single time.

I drove north of the airport, radio off and listening intently to the staccato directions of the navigator function on my phone. The Manhattan skyline dominated my peripheral vision to my left but I was headed north on a mission. Somewhere around Yonkers you can easily tell that the city is left behind.
Trees! Big, beautiful, green, leafy deciduous trees.
Grass! Rolling knolls of soft, fluffy, cool grass.


There is no doubt in my mind that this is the better place for our kids. As I drove further north I started to wonder... this seemed farther away from Manhattan than I remembered. If the father of our children spends all of his time on a train instead of with them then that's sort of a problem. No amount of grass or trees can replace the sturdy presence of their father. It was my first lesson in location. On a map, which all we've had to work with, everything seems so close. That's before you take into account the maximum speed limit of 55 mph.

There was a job to do but I also had imagined that I would have a lot of down time. When I packed on Saturday night I snuck around quietly in the darkness as everyone else in the house was sleeping. I put my practice crochet in the bag, a yoga DVD, bubble bath and plenty of books. Hehe. Ahem. Uhhhm....yeah.

I spent that week busting my ass, people. The whole week was spent on the computer and phone. I dialed a total of 38 addresses into my phone navigator. I got in and out of cars at least a thousand times. That seriously sucks when you're 7+ months pregnant. I was up late and up early despite this glorious opportunity to sleep as much as I could possibly want! By Wednesday evening I had seen well over 25 rental properties all over Westchester county. I was exhausted and discouraged. I tapped in a familiar URL as a last-ditch effort to scour Craigslist for something worth looking at. That's when I saw it beckoning to me like a brilliant periwinkle blue light. I called immediately. Wouldn't you know, the owner of the house lives in Berkeley. We talked on the phone for over an hour. That was just the beginning of the process.

I didn't want to announce it until the lease was signed and the check was written because God forbid I jinx it. I am proud to say that I did it. Behold, our sweet little blue house:


Our sweet little house is an 8 minute walk to the train station at pregnancy speed. Our cute little town is a quick 30 minute train ride to Grand Central Station. I know. I tried it when I met a new friend for breakfast in Manhattan Tuesday morning. There is a cute town center and a kick ass library. 


Oh, and the easiest part of all of this? You'll never believe it - it was getting Ada into pre-school about a mile from our new house. Staying at home with her is so awesome right now. It's also been an interesting time of unearthing 3 years worth of neglected personal business. 
I'll be back with part II, maybe tomorrow.