November 21, 2013

Routine, Routine, Routine....

Coincidentally the first rain of the season brought Marilyn's first cold. We have been covered in snot - literally - over here but it seems like the end is in sight. She definitely has her Daddy's temperament as she was completely plugged, eyes watering as if she was sobbing, and she was still giving me smiles and trying desperately to laugh. Lord knows that if that were me I would not be smiling. I am so lucky to have such a good baby.

We have been couped up in the house this week and today I was going a little crazy. The hardest part of being a mom, for me, is the fact that I cannot just go. I like to be on the move. I like to explore. There were days when I would get in the car and have no idea where I was going but just knew that I needed to get out of the house. Day trips to Sonoma, Emeryville, Point Reyes, etc seemed to always be on my radar, but now with a little one I find it much harder to do this. I have to have a plan, I have to plan every single moment or else I am stuck in the car with a screaming child, pulling over to nurse, or turning around. I have tried a few times to be spontaneous, but neither time ended the way I wanted it to. I have even made it to my destination, but decided not to stop. She was asleep and I couldn't bare to wake her. The whole getting in and out of the car is such a drag, which is why I like cities and towns that are designed for walkers....ours is not. I have to drive to a spot where I can walk around. From our house I can walk to the garden center, a pharmacy that I hate, a doughnut shop, and a newly discovered (and tasty) Thai restaurant. Not too bad but not enough for me. Having to carry your garden center purchases the 2 mile trek home is not exactly ideal, but I have done it. :)

So today we took a very short drive to the end of downtown, the very end, and walked up and down. We visited the bakery, some shops, a used bookstore, and the bank, plus some window shopping. It felt great to get out and be amongst people. Not only for me but for Marilyn too. She didn't sneeze once on the walk and her nose miraculously stopped running (does that mean its our house????). We had a great time. She watched the bakers make their crackers, got foot kisses from a golden retriever, and had many people coo over how adorable she is even with red swollen eyes. By the end of the walk I could tell she was ready for her nap, so into the car we go the 5 miles home, except despite my obnoxiously loud and horrible singing she fell asleep about three blocks from our house. We pull in the driveway, I turn off the car, open the door and voila she is awake, a little groggy but awake. This is go time, I either get her to sleep immediately or we have lost the nap completely and then the day is in the air. Today we lost it. We were able to recover with a very very short late afternoon nap, but getting there wasn't pretty. Why am I telling you this? Because it brings me to my next dilemma...dun dun duuunnn...the routine.

If you know me, you know I am not a person of routine. Tradition yes, routine no. I believe they are greatly different and the later drives me nuts. I rarely eat left overs because I don't want to eat the same thing two days in a row, I like to just go and see where we end up, I hated working a 9-5 unless it was crazy different everyday and I don't want anything planned to the minute. I think this is the artist in me. On the contrary I married Mr. Routine so maybe I am longing for it somewhere deep within, but now it is becoming one of my greatest motherly challenges. The truth is I have long despised my friends with kids and their "routines". Really you can't go because that is nap time? Well here I am at the crossroads and it is looking like I need to suck it up. The morning nap is already a routine. If she doesn't get it I can kiss my day goodbye, not that she is a difficult baby or anything, but things will not flow easily. Its hard to describe, but she pretty much won't take any naps, and getting her to bed is like trying to convince Ralphie that cheese isn't any good (Ralphie, the dog, loves cheese). As she is getting older I can see that our days go more smoothly when we have a certain flow. See couldn't even write it there.

The bottom line is I need to do what is best for her, so I NEED to give it a REAL try. I feel like it goes against my genetic make up, but alas I must. I have done the "half-way" try several times, but when your hearts not in it it doesn't work, so we failed or I failed. It seems to be spirally slightly out of control and I am getting the feeling that I need to get with it. This week she has been holding out her bedtimes so she can be rocked to sleep by her Daddy. He developed a "Daddy dance" in Maui and it has been doing the trick when I can't get her down. While it is really sweet that they can share this time together, a 10:30 + bedtime is not fit for a 4, almost 5, month old. I really kind of like the fact that she will sleep until 7:30am or even 8:30am some mornings, but it tends to throw our days off. I'd rather have those hours in the evening anyways, so I can actually relax before I go to sleep instead of face planting into bed.

The next step is to actually do it and not just think about it. That is why I am writing this down, now you all have to hold me accountable. I could put it off until after Thanksgiving, but then that opens the door for me to wait until after the New Year. So here it goes, or here I go, jumping head first into the world of routine. Hopefully it doesn't eat my creative soul.


Some playtime, before the cold hit.
Blurry because the chair was in full swing but you can see her smile through the goo.

The worst of it.

Still lingering a little.

She looks like she was crying but no that's just eye drip-age.

We put her in 49ers gear for Sunday and guess what? She is as lucky for them as she was for the Giants :( I should have known by her facial expression that she is not a niners fan.

November 14, 2013


Its official, we have the best baby in the world and the lady sitting behind us on the airplane confirmed it! We took a last minute vacation to Maui last week and Marilyn was wonderful. On the flights there and back she didn't cry once!! Even when on the flight home all the babies around us began crying together she just looked around like "what is going on?" She's going to be a world traveler :)

Maui was great. I finally got my "baby-moon". Since pictures can say a thousand words lets let them do their thing....

Up early at the airport for the "first flight"

Slept through the first dinner.

Sunset stroll on the beach. Don't you love his man bag?

First sunset.

Waterfall hike.

Adorable! At the resting point on our hike, Daddy wore her in the ergo, she slept through most of it and then was all smiles.

Hiking in the bamboo forest, Marilyn strapped in tight.

Slept through the best lunch at Mala.

Asleep on the beach....wonder where she gets that from?

Okay maybe both of us.

Marilyn in the ocean in Lahaina. She really liked it.

Robert jumping off of lava rocks. When he swam back to us he was joined by two huge sea turtles!!!

The view from our hotel room.
I got to sneak away to this while she was napping ;)

Swimming with Daddy, they got lots of bonding time.

Sleeping together....weird they never do that :)
Three generations.
He developed the "Daddy dance" and it worked wonderfully. Isn't he handsome?

On our way to the Luau....I am in Maui and I still can't get a tan.
We are home now and have gone from naked baby to bundled in fleece. I just love this happy girl!!


October 31, 2013

TT - A Little Insanity

Sorry for my absence, I have not crawled into a hole and wallowed in myself pity as you may have thought since my disappearance after my last post. Instead we have knocked out a wall, door, and that hideous (and useless) AC unit. With all that fun stuff going on and dust circulating in the air, we retreated to Robert's parents home and I have not been able to write. Now we are back and the wheels are churning trying to figure out what to do with our new space.

In this time Marilyn has turned four months, yes it has been four months! Craziness. Everyone kept telling me that four months is the best, they start sleeping through the night, their personalities come out, etc. etc. Marilyn had been sleeping through the night on most nights, or getting up just once for a quick change & feed, which I can pretty much sleep walk my way through. However, since she has turned four months, this beautiful easy routine has disappeared. I sat at coffee, four weeks ago, with nine other women with babies Marilyn's age and was marveled that I had no complaints about my little one as many of the other moms had. I felt so blessed, but now she seems to be giving me a run for my money and has forced me to do one thing that I am pretty sure no interior designer has done before. At least not intentionally.

Last night Marilyn and I played the sleep game. She starts showing me she is tired around 5:45pm. I start to complete as many noisy chores as possible with her in my arms knowing that my time is short. As the faucets going and then the vacuum is buzzing she watches contently until she can have no more and then begins to fuss lightly. At this point I change her and put her in her jammies (that's what we call them) and sleep sack. We turn the lights low, turn on the fan, and begin the nightly feeding. On this particular night she fell asleep eating so I carefully got up from the rocking chair, detached her and set her ever so lightly in her crib. I tip-toed out and closed the door. I opted for granola and strawberries for dinner since I had little energy to cook and still had the last bit of her Halloween costume to finish. 15 min went by and she is up. I rocked her back down. 30 min pass and she is up again, but this time she is playing like she just took a nap, argh. I can't get her down and she is not showing any drowsy signs so I question whether her "bedtime" might be changing, for many of my friends this has happened. So I entertain her for a while until she again gives me those signs - mostly vocal. This time I draw a bath, which seems to be the golden ticket most nights. She falls asleep eating again, I put her down, but then she is up in 20 min. I rock her down this time and it does the trick. It is now 9:45pm. I finally finish her Halloween costume, take a ridiculously hot shower, and mosey into bed. As Robert and I are just turning out the lights, at mid-night, she is up. I change her, nurse her, put her down and tip-toe into bed and just as my head hits the pillow she is back up, yikes. As I smash my face into the pillow cursing myself for staying up so late and procrastinating on her Halloween costume Robert offers to grab her and bring her into bed. I agree. She nurses and then rolls over to sleep, but gets excited about the blankets and her new grabbing skills (just a few days old) and begins to play. Again I cursing my procrastination. I pluck her from our bed plop her in the crib and go back to bed. She plays for about a half hour then goes to bed on her own, no crying - Thank God!

She begins playing again at 5:30 am, yep, and begins fussing at 5:45 am, which means I am back up and to my mommy duties. As I am feeding her I realize that I haven't felt this tired in a while, a long while. We get some morning chores done, play in her new homemade gym :) and socialize with the doggies. Around 7:30am it is time for her nap we do our dance and she is down easily. At this point I crawl back into bed excited, because the first nap is the MOST IMPORTANT nap for Marilyn. She doesn't have it - goodbye day. It is strange. It is also the one she goes down for easily and sleeps the longest and soundest. I once tried to wake her up from one by vacuuming and she slept right through it. I managed to do the whole house, but then again that was before she was 4 months. She needs to sleep at least 2 hours for this morning nap or else she won't sleep the rest of the day and she certainly won't sleep through the night. When 8:30am came rolling around and I heard her playing my heart sank. I laid in bed waiting and praying that she would soothe herself to sleep but it would not happen. She was up. Its Thursday and farmer's market day so maybe she wanted to go, or maybe that would be my ticket to go. So I hurriedly get her and I dressed and head out the door. I had to pick up the dry cleaning so I do this first when I don't have milk in the car. As I am putting her in the car after picking up part of my Halloween costume at the cleaners I realize that I am being selfish and that she will not get the proper nap at Farmer's Market. I start to feel guilty and as I come up to the stop sign, I ponder, straight to the market or a right takes me home. I take the right. She needs her nap. It's Halloween, we are going to spend it with her cousins and I want her to be rested and happy, not tired and miserable. We can eat grocery store produce this week.

As we are approaching home I can hear her sucking her thumb and making her sleepy grunts. I sing obnoxiously loud to insure that she doesn't fall asleep before we get to the driveway, it works. We scramble in the house. Take off our warm market attire and do our change feed dance. She doesn't fall asleep nursing but she is calm enough that I put her down. She doesn't sleep, doesn't even try for her thumb she lays quietly and then turns into full on hysterics. I try all sorts of things, nothing works. We have crossed the bridge into over-tired and her room, which gets that lovely morning sun, is as bright as a fluorescent lit chain store. We got home from the cleaners at 9:15 and until 10:45am I try every trick other then stuffing her in the carrier and walking around the block, which only works for short naps. Then it dawns on me, its the light, it has to be, she is tired and even when she is over-tired it never goes on this long.

So the insane light turns on in my head. When I ordered the shade for her room I opted not to do blackout lining because the particular company that made the shade only offers vinyl lining. Vinyl is extremely toxic and one of the products that you are absolutely not to have near baby much less yourself. Alas her room is bright so Robert hung a wool blanket over the shade to block out the light which works at most other times of the day. This is extremely dangerous we realize. A) the tacks could fall out and land in her crib and she could ingest them and B) the whole blanket could come down on her and suffocate her. I always put her head on the opposite side of the crib for these reasons and had it in my mind that this was temporary. I found a company that makes non-vinyl blackout lining that is made in the USA so I quickly put in an order figuring that I could line the shade myself fixing our light problem. However this mill had a small fire and informed me that it would be another 6-8 weeks before they would be able to ship my order. It is a long time but my other option is something from overseas and I would rather have the piece of mind that it comes from the US, so I was willing wait. Except today that lead time seems ridiculous.

Mothers are known for doing totally odd things due to motherhood-induced-insanity. Some drive into the white house, run away, or harm their children. I am sure there are many more less tragic things that we do that don't make the headlines, but these are all that I can think of in my current delirium. It was these acts that inspired Marc Cherry to create the show "Desperate Housewives." Today I joined the club. Marilyn's hysterics were more than I could take, I could quiet her by nursing her, but she wasn't content and would not go to sleep, so I had to get creative. I had to block out the light, but how. I do not have any fabric that was thick enough, hanging a heavier blanket would be more of a risk, painting the windows (yes I went there) would be messy and would not be quick enough, and then I saw them. In our "garage" (or handi-cap bathroom) we have a bag of grocery bags from those occasions when I forget my re-usables. Like a flash of lightening, I cut them open and with some painters tape covered Marilyn's window with Whole Foods (they use non-toxic dyes as well as recycled paper - more insanity :) ) bags. The neighbors might think it is an eye sore but from the inside it looks more like those beautiful Northern Light displays. Marilyn watched curiously as I scurried around her room taping cutting and ripping up these paper bags. I think she liked the way the light slowly danced around the room until it disappeared. When I was finished and cleaned up I sweetly nursed her until she fell asleep then lightly detached her and placed her ever so softly in her crib, tip-toed out of her room and shut the door. She has been asleep now for an hour and 45 min, ahhhh.

A little insanity can be a good thing.


Marilyn in her homemade play gym, she loves it! I used yarn and ribbon scraps, as well as some cardboard I was planning to discard. Just need a few noisy items, like bells, to make it even more interesting. It sure beats those obnoxious plastic things you can buy. And the best part I won't have to search desperately for someone to take it off my hands when she is too old for it. I can save the scraps and compost the cardboard. More thriftiness :)

Here is the window with nothing covering it, trust me it is way brighter than my camera captures.

With the blanket hung to cover window, light sneeks out of corners. It was "fluorescent" bright with it.

Taped up with the paper bags :)

With the shade down. Doesn't it look pretty? Northern Lights right? It is dark with a soft glow, perfect.

October 10, 2013

TT - A Good Father

I am late at getting here today, because I am a little unsure I want to put this all out here. Actually I am writing this and wondering if I will have the guts to hit publish, because I know what this subject means to me. I am a pretty private person and this is not a topic that I open up very often. However this has been running through my head lately and was a reality to me this week so I am mustering up the courage to share. This Thursday I am thankful that Marilyn has a good father, a father that loves her unconditionally (the eyes are welling), and a father that no matter what happens between he and I will never leave her. I think most people strive to give their children a better life than what they had and this rains true for both Robert and I. He says I am already ahead because I never had a father like Marilyn does and that is beyond true.

The other day before work Robert was spending some time with Marilyn in the kitchen area as I was trying to straighten up from breakfast. He has been separated from us lately because he had a nasty cold and I wanted him no where near us in hopes that we wouldn't contract it. This time that they were sharing had been long over due. One of Robert's favorite things to do is play music and sing to Marilyn. He has a few that he hits on a serious rotation, most are sappy, which probably won't surprise you if you know him well. This whole process is rather charming. This particular song is his go to, I think he is already planning to dance at her wedding to this one :)

On this morning he played John Mayer's "Daughters". Have you heard this song and really listened to the lyrics? Well it was written about me, joking, but seriously it is a bit creepy. As Robert and Marilyn swayed back and forth to this song I couldn't help but well up in tears. I don't think he saw or noticed (now he will know) but eventually I had to leave the room. As I was collecting myself in the bedroom I realized these tears were not sad tears, these were not tears for myself even, these were happy tears, happy tears that Marilyn will never know the pain of a forgotten child like I have. 

My father walked out when I was four years old. Four. Now that I am a mother it is even harder for me to understand how someone could do that. I understand that people grow apart, they have differences that they cannot make work, they divorce, but I cannot understand walking away from your children. I did not see or talk to my father for 21 years. It was not until I ran into him at a funeral that our paths finally crossed again. He never tried to reach me nor did I try to reach him. I really only thought of him or my lack of having a father, on Father's Day or during father/daughter dances at weddings. I never missed him, wished he was there, or felt great sorrow that he was not a part of my life. My mother did a tremendous job raising my brother and I, so we never needed him. I figured if he was selfish enough to abandon us then he was not someone I needed in my life, and that is true. Even now that I have crossed paths with him I still want nothing from him. He may have "changed", but he continues to defraud my mother which only hurts my brother and I more, so good riddance. I always asked my mother why she didn't track him down and make his life hell like we watched other divorcees do, but she said she was afraid she would have to share us with him. I didn't understand the legal system then but now I see how that could be a legitimate fear. He is not a good person and I wouldn't want to risk that either.

Seeing him for the first time in a very long time was not quite as shocking as I thought it would be. Honestly he looked nothing like I thought he would. I have five memories of him from my childhood, one involves a purple fish, another involves a worm in an artichoke, there was a smokey card game, the framing of my playhouse, and the last, was the day he left. Before meeting him several years ago all of my memories did not include a face; a voice, the back of his head, but never the face. I did however remember his eyes. I recall them only in one of those memories. As we stood in the hall of our Millie Ct. home they welled up as he told my brother and I to "be good for my mother" and gave us a quick hug. At the time I thought that that was weird. I remember the backpack on his back and the sun shining from the front door down the hall almost to where we stood. I remember the flicker of his silhouette as he slipped through it and that he left the door open. I also remember standing there with my brother confused and almost immediately my mom came out in her pajamas and muttered the words "and he didn't even say goodbye". I believe the mind is a pretty powerful thing; I was four years old and I remember that moment like it was yesterday. Somehow I knew it was a pivotal time in my four year old life.

 I would never change my experience for anything. I know with every bone in my body that I would not be the woman I am today had he not left and I love who I am. As Jenna would say "ship happens", you have to deal with the hand you have been dealt and move on. That is what I have done. I feel blessed that I have found a husband who is patient with me and realizes that I come to our relationship with a very different view. I feel pretty blessed that the man who has had the most positive influence on my life is my husband, not many women have the opportunity to say that. Robert will never be like my father. He will never walk away from our beautiful daughter no matter where our chips fall and I am so thankful for that. Marilyn may have her own pain, but she will never know that kind of pain and I am very thankful for that.


John Mayer's Daughters

At the Alameda Flea Market

Carrying her so she could take in all the sights.

A nap together.

A glowing daddy.

A nap before we took her home.

October 3, 2013

TT - The Vitality of Motherhood

It is very rare that I rock Marilyn to sleep. Since she has found her thumb and learned to soothe herself our bedtime routine consists of feed, change into jammies, feed, set her in her crib, a silent I love you through smiles and a rub of the belly then door closed. She may fuss for a few minutes, never longer than five, and it is never a cry, but generally she goes down quietly. Naps can vary though they sometimes take on a similar routine without the pajamas. Last night however, I rocked her to sleep. She had a hard time going down, probably due to a busy day, a shorter than usual afternoon nap, and the possibility of a cold hoovering. I so appreciate this act, the sway, the time I get to just watch and feel her. Watch how her eyes go back and forth until they get heavier and heavier. Watch her mouth tense and then smile, tense and then smile continuously as she falls deeper and deeper. Feel how heavy she gets as she lets go and just falls into my arms, letting her own dangle as we sway together.

Last night as I rocked her I realized how I have been longing for this reality. My twenties have been somewhat of a struggle for me. I have always felt that something was missing. I went from knowing what I wanted to do with my life to not knowing where I was meant to go. I had some great jobs, and lost some great jobs. I moved around constantly trying to find my place in this world, trying to find out who I really am, and often looking in the wrong places, not bad places but the wrong ones. I found a job that I love, married the man that I love and have surrounded myself with wonderful friends and family, but deep down I felt there was something missing. Something within myself that I just could not fill. As I rocked Marilyn to sleep I realized that that thing that was missing was in my arms. That emptiness wasn't really empty but it was a longing, an internal longing that I had to be a mother. Something greater than I could have ever expected. There are still things I desire in life, like that Parisian flat, but this is something I do not believe I could have lived without. I am so thankful that I am able to experience this aspect of life.

Marilyn on a cold morning watching me make some tea.

Snuggled up in her bedtime gear, don't you just love the pouty lip?

September 26, 2013

TT - Technology

Super quick post this week as I am swamped with work, our client had her bathroom demoed over the weekend and this was the first we had heard that she wanted to do it over. The conversation Monday morning went, "So Malcom (her contractor) said I would save about $700 if I demoed the bathroom this weekend, so I did it. Can you help me put it back together?" Wow :) I am thankful this week for technology.
It has its ups and downs, but most are up for this (part-time) working mama. I am able to work from home so I can capture these moments, literally!

Can you guess what she did, again??

Please excuse the messy bed :)

September 24, 2013

One year ago.....

Happy Anniversary! It has been one busy year.

All photos by Laura Villasenor

What are we going to do next year? ;)