Sunday, June 12, 2016

Some Normalcy

The last two weeks or so have been tough--the events around the nation and in my own neighborhood have been painful to watch. I have no brilliant insights, and I have no political speeches. I'm just sad and confused and angry and scared and--most of all--so worried that my children will grow up in a world where these kinds of events are so common. I hope somehow that things will get better.

Meanwhile, I'm here tonight to share a little in hopes of setting a tone of normalcy. It's comforting, I guess.

Last week, after work, Terry and I walked with Marshall to vote. It was actually my first time voting in person--I've always done a mail-in ballot--so I was excited. Marshall kept saying, "Going to vote!" so I felt like I was part of a mini-parade. We took turns playing ball out front while the other parent voted. (He chose this stance for himself when throwing a ball. I appreciate the effort.)

A recent no-cook breakfast: toast with peanut butter and some peaches. Simple and no clean up!

I don't always find it easy to give Marshall tasks in the kitchen, but this week we had him shred some pork with Daddy. Success!

We took that pork (used this recipe) and piled it onto buns with pepper jack cheese, avocado, and tomato. We also attempted homemade curly fries, but the recipe was insanely spicy. We'll definitely try them again, but we need to check out some other recipe options.

This weekend we had quite a few fun events on our agenda: date night in watching Deadpool Friday night (good, but I fell asleep because I was beat), visiting our friends and their kids on Saturday morning, and (for me) working graduation at UCLA on Saturday evening. I made it home just in time to put Marshall to bed, so I was thrilled to say goodnight to him at least.

This morning we took things pretty easy, including a "cupcake" and tea party for Marshall and Daddy.

And the big event today was having our old birth teacher (from our Bradley Method course last pregnancy) over to talk about exercise and lots more. She took me through a full workout with pregnancy-safe exercises that I can use for the rest of my pregnancy, and it was great to get some feedback about my posture and form as my belly grows. I think I did well with exercise during my last pregnancy, but now I know I was definitely using some moves that were inappropriate, so it's great to have a full workout I can do anytime.

The rest of our time with our teacher was spent talking about my pregnancy, labor, and eventual C-section with Marshall, as well as factors that can influence this pregnancy, labor, and birth. We decided that physical and emotional stress were huge factors in my pregnancy with Marshall that may have contributed to his early arrival (moving at 30 weeks, too much driving and travel, stress about work and finances, fears about how parenthood would impact our marriage/us as individuals/our extended families, and doing too much in the week or so leading up to my water breaking), and we discussed ways that this pregnancy is different and how to keep my stress levels low. Funny enough, even though I'm working and have a toddler this time, I feel less stressed. We are also stopping travel and long road trips after next weekend and looking at other ways we can keep my/our stress levels low. I'll write more about how I'm preparing for a VBAC in another post, but I think today's conversation helped a lot to boost my confidence and help me identify tangible things I can do to ensure I enjoy a healthy pregnancy and, of course, do my best to have a healthy baby.

After our teacher left, we took the day really easy. I did some food prep, like these banana-coconut muffins, which I love to have on hand to throw in Marshall's lunches, and Terry got rid of our big armoire from Marshall's room to (eventually) make room for another bed. (Also, it wasn't bolted to the wall, and it made me nervous to have a free-standing HUGE piece of furniture in the room where Marshall plays so much.)

We made zoodles (zucchini noodles) with Alfredo sauce and broccoli for dinner, a surprisingly delicious meal, and now I'm gearing up for another week. Let's hope it's a good one, huh?

Sunday, June 5, 2016


What a crazy week! Best of the week was an ultrasound and learning that baby is doing well. He or she is measuring about a week ahead of schedule, about the same as Marshall was most of my first pregnancy. 

Some shots from lately:

Our first time making (and eating!) panzanella, which I HIGHLY recommend. It's going to be a summer staple around here, especially once tomatoes are in season at the farmer's market!

We're trying to find good ways for Marshall to cook in the kitchen with us, and guacamole is an easy one!

Fish tacos! We bought a ton of fish, so half is still in the freezer for another meal. Plus Mexican corn salad and Marshall's guacamole.

Marshall's two-year checkup! He did great, despite having to hang out in his diaper for a while (he really doesn't like not wearing clothes).

Scout hasn't made too many appearances on the blog lately, but he's still our little snuggle buddy. He's been pawing my tummy relentlessly since I got pregnant, so I wonder if he's trying to prevent another loud human from entering his space.

Recently Daddy was out for a dinner event, so I got to take care of bath (Terry normally does bath time and I do story before bed) and tried to snap a photo of the occasion. He was too giggly!

We spent Memorial Day weekend at the delta with my family:

(Marshall driving the boat with my dad)

Fishing with Uncle Chris

LOVING swimming in the water

Marshall's first s'mores experience! My mom offered to have a birthday cake for a little belated celebration, but I suggested s'mores instead. WAY more fun!


Terry and Marshall still go to swim lessons almost every week, but Marshall's confidence has really started soaring. Swimming in the delta last week in a life jacket gave him some freedom, so this week Terry wrapped the noodle around him and let him do his thing. Look at that little boy go!

Today we drove out to visit Terry's grandparents, which was fun for all of us. He got another cake! By the way, the cake says "Mustang" because Terry's grandparents have nicknames for Terry, his brother, and now Marshall, all based on the year they were born. Terry was born in the year of the tiger, so he's Tiger. Marshall was born in the year of the horse, so he's Mustang! Baby #2 is going to be the year of the Monkey.

Marshall also scored a new garbage truck for his birthday and loves it!

Plus his first hammer, which he used today to help Daddy "build a house" (actually, build a storage cube).

This cube was our first change in the kids' room to make space for another kid. We have a huge armoire in there now, but it's going to have to go to make space for a second bed. This cube fits perfectly into the closet in the room.

Tonight's dinner was broccoli cheese soup. I'm not sure exactly what I did differently this time, but it was the best version of it I've made yet!

Here's hoping this week is much calmer, both at home and at work. I have a six day work week ahead, and I'm bracing myself for it.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Marshall Turns Two

Our first baby turns two years old today. Many friends and family members ask, “Can you believe he’s already two?” Or they say, “Where did the time go?” But I have the wonderful blessing of having a front row seat as this little boy grows up.

Yes, I can believe he is two. I was awake every moment he was awake; I witnessed each day of tumbles and tantrums and triumphs. I waited (im)patiently as he learned to say, “I love you, Mommy!” and then gasped when he started speaking in real sentences. We battled through hundreds of tough situations--deciding whether to go to the ER, dealing with teaching him table manners, waking up for a fourth, fifth, sixth time in one night--where Terry and I looked at each other helplessly and silently asked, “What the hell do we do?” I watched him take his sweet time learning to roll over, then sit up, then crawl, then walk, and now run. He’s never been quick on any of it, but his timing gave me a chance to enjoy the process all the more. I know he is two because two years ago our lives suddenly became centered around this needy, precious, exhausting, hilarious little being, and every day since I have thanked God for choosing us to be his parents.

I know where the time went: it went to doing our best to show this sweet kid as much as we could of what the world has to offer. It went to lots of walks in the park and endless nights bouncing on an exercise ball while cradling his (surprisingly heavy, after an hour or two) little body, to showing him all the different vegetables in the grocery stores just to get out of the house and racing home so he wouldn’t fall asleep in the car (then giving up and driving for hours to give him a good nap). The time went to handing him to Terry out of exasperation and walking out of the room to count to ten when I just didn’t know what else to do, and to not wanting to hand him over to anyone else. It went to crying when we moved him out of our room to sleep, to nights of sleeping on the floor next to his crib, to sneaking into his room to check on him and holding my breath until I could see his chest rise and fall. The time went to dozens and dozens of conversations with Terry about doing everything right, and questioning myself every time a relative or friend or article made a comment that suggested we weren’t. The time went to giggling before bedtime and feeding him more than we thought possible, to hundreds of firsts and more lasts already than my heart can stand to count. The time was spent worrying about him, always worrying, and praying that we were doing okay.

So he is two, and I can believe it, and I know where the time went, but I am so grateful for these two years. The fact that two years really felt like two years means, I suppose, that I spent that time soaking it all up. When he was born I was warned (over and over again) to cherish every moment, so I did. And so far, I think it’s working. I don’t think there’s much I would change about our first two years with this kid. And now to share a little about Marshall’s two-year-old self:

For some reason we scheduled his two-year wellness exam on his actual birthday, so we got a very accurate look at his two-year stats. Marshall is 28.7 pounds (57th percentile) and 36 inches (96th percentile), and his pediatrician estimates that he’ll end up around 6’2” (apparently they can tell at this age?), just like Daddy. But the poor guy also got three shots to round out his experience.

The most exciting development is Marshall’s talking and general ability to communicate. He tends to narrate what he’s doing, even when he’s playing by himself (“Drive the truck,” “Putting the ball away,” “Get the stool”), and he can usually tell us what he needs or wants. We’re also, of course, seeing more emotions, so the tears start pretty quickly when we say no, and he has so far maxed out at about ten consecutive minutes of crying over whatever he was upset about that day. We’re also working on whining and helping him understand patience, teaching him to ask for what he wants with, “I would like…,” but those lessons might be long-term goals. Generally, Terry and I are learning quickly what upsets him most, but sometimes he gets going and we just can’t intervene! So we are clear and firm and try to move on as best we can. It helps me to remember that when I’m feeling frustrated, he must be twice as frustrated, because at least I can understand what’s going on and rationalize the situation. But typically it’s all over in a few minutes, and we get our happy kid back.

With talking comes some hilarious moments. Terry and I finally started a quote board in an attempt to remember Marshall’s one-liners, but inevitably we forget a lot of the good ones. Still, here are some Marshall-isms to date:

“Go get Crank’s!” (when we told him we needed to stop at the store for Frank’s Buffalo sauce) -- now I call it Crank’s at home

“No, Daddy! Go play, Daddy!” (after laughing too much at Daddy’s funny faces and needing a break)

[while wailing at dinner because he had finished his hot dog bun, and he had just learned the word “bun” that meal] “I want a bone! I want a bone!” (I am guilty of collapsing into giggles during this meal while my poor toddler cried and cried about his “bone” (bun))

Daddy, teaching Marshall about life: “Marshall, when life gives you lemons, --”
Marshall: “I’m eating it!”

Us, on the way to a birthday party: “Marshall, we’re going to a birthday party! What do you think will be there?”
Marshall: “Dragons!” (???)

A common one, when he wants us to play with him: “Come on over, Mommy! Come play, Daddy!”

After a nap, a little out of it, on his changing table, “What’s happening?”

And just some sentences that blow me away because I remember how excited I was to hear him say a word for the first time, and now he speaks in full sentences:

“I don’t see any garbage trucks.”

“We’re on a train! We’re going to the beach! Going to throw sand!”

Here are recent favorites: Food (more on that below), imitating Mommy and Daddy, learning new words and trying to say them, reading (the same books, over and over), showing off for people he doesn’t know, “playing” with Scout (bringing him toys and saying, “Here you go, Scout!” or shouting, “Scoooouuuut!” while the cat cowers in fear of what might be coming--although thankfully they are quite respectful toward each other), watching any big trucks, playing with dolls or stuffed animals, anything to do with trains (he says, “Chugga chugga choo choooooo!” and “All aboard!” which sounds like, “Odd aboard!”), cleaning with Mommy or Daddy, vacuuming, singing (or asking us to sing), listening to the Harry Potter audio CDs (he asks for “Dumbledore” when we get in the car!), playing catch (he’s started throwing overhand), going for walks (but now he doesn’t love his stroller, much to our chagrin, so he walks a few blocks and then we buckle him up for longer walks), coloring, going to day care, and cooking (for real or in his play kitchen).

We’re noticing his growing independence, as he can get himself a shirt from his dresser or carry his stepstool from the bathroom to the living room to be able to look out the window. He almost never calls for us from his crib now; instead, he’ll sing to himself (real songs!) and chat for a long while before we finally go in to get him. He is quickly learning the alphabet and can count to eleven (“, eight, nine, ten, eleven, eight, nine, ten!”).

Marshall continues to amaze us with how much he can eat. I read recently that a study showed that kids under four or five are very good at ending their meals when they have eaten enough. I shared the study with Terry, and he isn’t buying it. It does seem as though Marshall rarely volunteers to stop eating, and he usually only stops eating when we run out of food (seriously) or he gets tired of being at the table. We have introduced him to some new foods lately, including chopped salads (lettuce is a bit of a struggle for him to chew in big-leaf form, but he enjoys it if we chop it small enough for him) and beets, and some new favorites are shrimp and tomatoes. His overall favorite foods are bread, fruit, and eggs.

Sleep is still going well--one nap around 12:30 for 1.5-3 hours, depending on the circumstances, and then 7:15-7:30 bedtime to 6 or 6:30 am. Every night we are thankful that he sleeps this well, after all those months of struggling to get him to sleep! This summer we will help Marshall transition to a toddler bed (our crib converts), and we bought a video monitor to give us peace of mind during that process. We’re not doing potty training anytime soon, and his pediatrician said there’s no rush, so that settled it. Cloth diapers are working well for us still, and we’ve seen no signs that he’s ready anyway, so we’ll see where we are at the end of the year.

Of course, Marshall has no idea that his little world will soon be permanently disrupted when his little brother or sister arrives in the fall. We really think he’ll do well in the transition, but we are prepared that there might be some rough patches as we all adjust. (Tips welcome!) But most people tell us there’s really nothing you can do to prepare them, kind of like with parents. :-)

To Marshall, our first baby, the one who made us parents: You are a kind soul, as your Daddy says, and you have such a curious, patient mind. You make us laugh, you challenge us, you help us see the world from your perspective. You help us slow down to watch a helicopter or squirrel, yet you show us what fun it is to run instead of walk. We love to laugh with you and oblige when you request another round of catch. We could not be more proud that when you say "UCLA," you follow up with a fist pump and a "Go Bruins!" Every day, we look forward to seeing what you might teach us, what new phrase you might pick up, what funny antics you might get up to, and every day, you amaze us with your silly, expressive, sweet self. We wish you many more years of careless, innocent, joyous childhood days and a very happy year of being two! We love you!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Three Becomes Four!

I have some exciting news to share today...

We are expecting another baby! 

Here are all the fun details:

I'm currently 18 weeks pregnant, due in mid-October, so I'm a few weeks into my second trimester. The first trimester gave me a few weeks of nausea and lots of fatigue. I was asleep on the couch by 8 or 9 every night, and sometimes it still happens that way! Overall, though, I feel like I mostly have my energy back.

In a lot of ways, this pregnancy is very similar to my first: the nausea and fatigue are comparable, maybe a little worse than last time. Cravings are similar--cereal, carbs, pizza, bagels. But I'm trying hard to focus on really good nutrition and eating lots of protein and greens, especially now that I have a good appetite. I'm excited and nervous all over again, too! 

But in many respects, this one is a completely different experience. For starters, I didn't get wildly sick upon conception (last time, I had horrible stomach problems for several days and wound up in the ER). Also, last time we thought I wasn't pregnant and threw away the test, then got a big surprise when I randomly pulled it back out to double check; this time I thought I saw a little pink line and had to have Terry check it. My belly popped at 11 weeks, definitely earlier than last time, and it's been growing noticeably as each week passes.

(Missed a few weeks in there...oops!)

For comparison, here's weeks 14-18 with Marshall:

As you might notice above, we have a different color scheme for this baby! For Marshall we did orange and grey; for this one, we're going with a teal/aqua color. Marshall's nursery was all about big grey animals--elephants, hippos, and rhinos--and this baby's (side of the) nursery will be ocean-themed, focusing on the magical octopus. :-) We don't plan to buy much, but I'd like to get a few decor items to give each kid a "side" of the room.

Oh, another big difference this time is of course that I'm working full time AND I have an almost-two-year-old. The toddler part isn't too bad, since Marshall sleeps well and is generally a mellow kid. And work itself isn't stressful. But the two combined makes for a tough combination.

I started feeling flutters over the last week or so. With Marshall, I got one swift kick at exactly 20 weeks, and he kicked strongly there on out. With this one I'm finally understanding what people mean by "flutters." And this week I started getting a couple of real kicks, which is reassuring and so fun!

Marshall knows I have a baby in my tummy, and we encourage him to say hi and "I love you" to the baby. We aren't totally sure how best to prepare him for the transition, but I think he'll do okay. Our first step will be transitioning him out of his crib this summer, so wish us luck!

(He loves dolls, so that's a good start!)

Some other updates:

Exercise has been pretty good, relatively consistent. I'm getting close to or more than 10,000 steps per day, and I've done 3-4 strength workouts per week. I'd like to add in more cardio (maybe some jogging) and yoga, but I'm also focusing on getting enough rest, so it's just a balancing act.

Weight gain feels totally different this time. First off, I didn't lose several pounds at the beginning from being super sick. But overall I'm noticing my appetite is through the roof most of the time. I've had to watch my eating, especially portion control. With Marshall, my doctor was concerned I wasn't gaining enough weight, so at least I don't have to worry about that this time!

Sleep isn't horrible, but I'm already using the pillow-between-the-knees-to-support-the-hips trick. I naturally sleep on my left side (which is recommended during pregnancy), so at least that part feels really comfortable. I do notice that I want to lay on my belly sometimes and can't. I also usually snooze on the couch by 9 and get into bed around 10, so those night naps are probably something I could kick and just go to bed earlier.

I will write more later about labor and birth preparation, but I am hoping again for a natural birth. I had a difficult (emotional) recovery from my C-section, which I am more than happy to talk about if anyone is curious or going through something similar, but I've had a lot of time to process Marshall's birth and feel confident that I did what I could and that a C-section was medically necessary. I still feel disappointed, but I am okay. And I know I would be okay again if I have to have another CS. I'm reading some new books, talking with our old Bradley Method teacher, reading lots of VBAC (vaginal birth after Cesarean) stories, and already working on labor exercises, more for my own peace of mind than anything.

We've been to the doctor several times already, and everything looks good so far. My doctor is very encouraging of a VBAC, and my work has been great about helping me understand maternity leave. I'm feeling very optimistic about everything!

So that's the big update! I'll be back on Monday with another big one: Marshall turns TWO!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

My Second Mother's Day

Today marks my second official Mother's Day as a mom (I missed 2014 by this much), and it was a perfect day. We woke up early, as usual, and Terry made sure to give me time for my morning wish: a workout.

You're quite mistaken if you think I finished that whole thing. I set the timer for 25 minutes but ended up taking a few breaks, and I also stopped at 20 minutes instead of 25. Also, those "bonus" minutes of walking lunges just didn't happen at all. Given how sore I already feel, it was a wise choice to stop when I did!

After breakfast (Terry made French toast--and Marshall ate more than either of us did!), we all headed toward Venice beach for donuts and a walk. A friend told me about Blue Star donuts, a shop that started in Portland, Oregon. We were at bit taken aback at the prices ($4 for one donut!), but the treats absolutely lived up to the hype. 

I chose a buttermilk old fashioned; Terry went with chocolate ganache almond. Mine won, but both were unique and delicious. Next time I want to go back with more people so we can try a bunch of different flavors (especially the apple cider fritter and the Mexican hot chocolate!). 

Marshall got a small piece and loved it!

We strolled along Abbot Kinney for a while,

and then we headed over to the Venice canals.

(running to give Daddy a hug)

(looking for the butterfly who flew away)

After such a busy morning, we got our first car nap in a very long time. Excuse the dirty mirror.

Another awesome Mother's Day treat: some gifts from people I love, including cereal, chocolate, homemade cards, a manicure/pedicure (coming soon), and a card from my mom.

After lunch and putting Marshall down for his real nap, Terry and I enjoyed a relaxing afternoon--some TV, some tidying, some food prep, some small projects around the house. 

My dinner request was homemade pizza, and I decided to tackle a copycat version of our favorite Old School pizza from Fresh Brothers (a Southern California chain). It has a spicy sauce, sliced meatballs, pepperoni, and pickled vegetables, so we made the meatballs last night (baked about a dozen of them for the pizza, froze the rest raw to use another time). 

For the sauce, I combined the pickled vegetables (we just used a jar of giardiniera from the store), diced tomatoes, and a bit of leftover pasta sauce.

For the dough, we used my favorite recipe.

And then we layered everything up with mozzarella (and forgot to take a photo of the final product).

It didn't taste too much like the original, but it was delicious and made two full pizzas, so we have plenty of leftovers for lunches this week.

And now we're chilling on the couch, catching up on Once Upon a Time and munching on some of hat chocolate I mentioned earlier. 

Some more miscellaneous fun from the week:

Saturday's breakfast: scrambled eggs with spinach and ricotta, raspberries, and toast with ricotta.

Copycat Chipotle bowls (brown rice, black beans, tomatoes, sauteed onions and peppers, cheese, salsa, guac, and yogurt.

A lunch for Marshall this week--hard boiled egg, blackberries, frozen peas, and a carrot-applesauce muffin.

These sweet, sweet teacups my brother and sister-in-law sent me for Mother's Day! Aren't they so cute? 

I recently made a batch of this baked oatmeal, which was pretty good. I still haven't found a steel-cut oatmeal recipe that I LOVE, so if you have any I should try, please let me know! I also want to try this one again with pecans instead of peanuts. I love peanut butter, but I don't love peanuts the same way, so maybe pecans is the answer.

And now I'm off to get this week started! Enjoy yours, and happy Mother's Day to all the moms, moms-to-be, and moms-at-heart. <3