Wednesday, December 06, 2017


Jon’s hometown is on fire.

It’s been burning for about two days and people the family knows have lost their homes. The winds have not slowed down, so it’s moving quickly and not sparing much in its path. Including the spot where we laid our Baby’s ashes.

I know it was ashes already, that the baby is hopefully hanging with my Nani in heaven and I’m relieved that very few people have died in this disaster, but seeing the gorgeous hill on which  we left her charred and bleak just broke my heart. It’s a sacred place for us.

This is just a reminder that the grieving never really ends. We just learn to live with it better every day.

This is what it usually looks like.

And now it is this.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

veteran's day

Thank you, servicemembers, for all that you have done and do today. Gratitude, also, to those you've left behind here to soldier on, missing you for the good of all of us.

Friday, November 10, 2017

not so fast, mommy

Today I had both the kids all day while Jon went to work and attended a work event in the evening. We got up, did teeth, potty, breakfast, play, a craft project and put lasagna in the oven. We ate lunch, cleaned up and started some laundry. I had big plans for "quiet time" after lunch, playing with the dollhouse and a dance party before dinner.

Just as I texted my mother, "Hey, maybe I *can* handle these people all day, every day," things got eerie. The baby was snoring softly, but Ro was nowhere to be heard.


Bam, it was over. Suddenly, I'm coaxing her to come to the bathroom to get washed up, scrubbing the accident spot on the carpet, the baby is howling, Alexa says lunch will burn if I don't get it out of the oven and the phone is ringing.

That was the only time--and it was just for a moment--when I missed the office.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

i had one wish for myself, it would be diligence

When I had Ro, Jon's cousin got me this one-line-a-day memory book.

I have generally been pretty good about writing in it, but after a seriously insane work situation last October (followed immediately by nonstop nausea and vomiting of pregnancy), I missed writing in it from November through January. Now I'm circling back around and trying to piece together from the bullet journal, calendar and photos what happened. This is not ideal.

Oh the things I could accomplish if I were more disciplined. Let's see how this NaBloPoMo goes when I start back at work on November 20...

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

but *i* will know they're not right

There were two places in which Jon and I splurged during our wedding planning: The photography and the invitations. Everything was DIY (I did an entire NaBloPoMo's month of posts on it in 2011).

I drew out the invitations by hand and had a printer create a mold, ink and crank out every invite and rsvp card. She did it by hand. Then I hand-addressed every single one with a calligraphy nib and a jar of ink. Few probably noticed and no one cared as much as I did, but those invites made me incredibly happy.

I succumbed and have used eVite for Ro's parties (this year the theme was Sofia the First), but I'm still hanging onto the tradition of handwritten thank you notes. Jon is trying out going printer-free at home (to him the entire world should still be digital), so this year I couldn't do my usual method of drawing out the design, scanning and printing onto blank notecards.

I went to Kinko's and had the attendant, a very nice woman who clearly knew how to use the equipment. I thought I'd be able to get stationery and tweak the spacing before printing out using the self service, but she convinced me that it would be better for her to space out four per page, then use a fancy machine to cut them all. Here is the example she showed me of how they would look:

The image is slightly farther to the left than I would have put it, but no big deal, right? 

This is how all of the rest came out. After I had already paid for them.

My mother--the queen of "it's fine, just get it done," said "Wow those are off center!" 

I had already been there for an hour. Attendant lady thought they came out fabulous. I went home and tried to put a silver line down the right and color in some of the jewels silver to match. Jon thinks I could cut them down, but then they would be too small for the envelope. He insists I should just send them as is; most people are just going to throw them away.

I get it. I don't want to re-do them and I don't have time to figure out how to "fix" them. I should just send them and move on with life. Which is what I'm going to do. But I'm not going to be happy about it.

Monday, November 06, 2017

i'd better not lose this notebook

As a kid, I was obsessed with my assignment notebook. Sure, I wrote down the homework (often after I'd completed it) but mainly liked making lists and lettering headers in fonts and styles. I fell out of using it after college, because classtime was the best time to work on it. In fact, one of the first things I did when I started this blog, was participate in Hundred Things meme.

The Hundred (or something like it)

More than a decade later, everyone has become obsessed with planners. Ri has the equivalent of four CD-cases full of pretty stamps for every possible occasion, as well as a variety of washi tape and watercolor pencils with which she colors in her stamped images. Her planner pages are called "layouts" and she has a following on Instagram.

I'm nowhere near as fancy. Work has pretty much taken over my life for the last five years, so I have kept a running list of to-dos in a notebook. Sometimes a personal task would sneak in. I fill it out during the more mind-numbing conference calls or meetings that require my attendance. Then I realized this was my assignment notebook all over again.

Juggling work meetings/deadlines, grocery shopping, birthday presents and events was getting tricky now that I was permanently braindead from birthing children. If I didn't write something down, it would simply evaporate, never to be found again. I tried several methods to wrangle reminders and tasks. I bought an old-school assignment notebook, fancy day planners (stickers! inspirational pages! birthday logs!) and even got in on the initial Passion Planner kickstarter.

None of them worked for me because I'm just not regimented. Sometimes I would religiously fill it out for a couple weeks, then just carry it around in my bag, unopened. Some days I had a LOT going on, and others, nothing. The only thing that I religiously went back to was my unending list of work tasks: Nothing beats that satisfying rush from crossing something off as completed.

I'm not sure how I stumbled upon the Bullet Journal, but it had me as soon as I saw that the book is BLANK; you don't have to make your life conform to preconstructed boxes. If you google or YouTube "bullet journal," there are hundreds of ways to set it up, and no way is "wrong." I was sold.

Each person needs to do what works for her, but here is how I have mine set up: bare bones. No decorations, all business. I have a monthly page with a line for each day/date. I write events there or big deadlines. On the page next to that (the two comprise a "spread") is a list of monthly goals, split between personal and work. The following pages are a running list of to dos with the date at the top. I don't bother moving tasks to the next day--unless it's been a long time--because I just keep working on them until they're done. Some days go on for pages, and some days are skipped entirely. In between are all kinds of random things, like a page with book/tv/podcast recommendations from friends, gift ideas  for holidays coming up, meeting notes.

The genius about this is that everything is all in one place. I haven't bothered indexing anything because I tend to take notes with drawings and symbols and groupings of notes, which creates a visual that I remember. If I recopy those notes later, I mysteriously cannot find them.

Jon has made it his mission to find a digital platform for me to accomplish all this. Nothing has worked. Not even the special pen/paper you can download and microwave clean (I don't like the feel of the paper and the pen is too "slidey"). I can't do drawings/arrows/circles or doodle on my phone/tablet, so that doesn't work for me, either. I think I just like things the old way. Hell, I'd still have a flip phone if it weren't for my husband pulling me into this century.

It's been time to move to a new notebook for a few months now. I've been putting off starting the new bullet journal for almost all of my maternity leave, because it means I will soon have to jump back into the circus of the workplace. I'm thankful to have a job to go back to, but I'm dreading the petty office politics. I prefer my drama in the form of a tiny dictator bellowing for milk at 3 in the morning.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

she should have the option to like me

I'm really struggling over posting about Ro. She is simply amazing. And there's so much about her that's still developing. She's so much NOT like me, most days I'm trying to figure out how to best react to what she does. I read a story from a parent who refused to post about her child for fear the assessments about her at that time could stick with the kid forever. Or worse, impress upon her qualities that aren't true to her personality--once she figures out what that is.

My kid is so incredibly thoughtful and observant and charming. Even when she's pulling power plays like regressing on toilet training and responding to our requests with "No, I don't *have* to." One flash of that dazzling smile and I'm melting. Her father is a downright puddle on the floor.

She's stubborn. If she doesn't want to hug or thank someone, she just doesn't and cannot be bribed. I'm stubborn, too, but somehow became docile about things like that as I grew up. I don't want that for her--I don't want her to be 14 and not standing up for herself or 26 and getting trampled on in the office for fear she isn't being "a good girl."

She's shy. I can sit down on a strange park bench, turn to the person, dog, lamppost beside me and have no hesitation making smalltalk and possibly friends, even if it's just for the afternoon. My kid has a much stronger sense of stranger danger. She must be coaxed into her own house if she even suspects a foreign person is there. I worry she will find herself lonely or left out, and my heart pre-breaks for that eventuality.

She's a shrewd negotiator. Each time we ask her to do something, she responds with, "But first I have to..." even though she rarely gets to do said thing. And if we try to tell her the reason she has to let others have a turn/be patient/communicate what's going on with her, she will inevitably find a later situation in which to apply our logic right back toward us. Example:

Jon: We just listened to 22 Sofia the First songs. Daddy likes this band and they just came out with a new song. So now it's DADDY'S turn to listen to something DADDY wants to hear.
Ro: [proceeds to scream through 3/4 of the song Daddy wanted to hear] NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I WANT TO LISTEN TO WHAT I WANT TO LISTEN TO! NONONONNONONONONONONO!
Jon: [gives long lecture about taking turns]

The next day. Ro grabs the tv remote and sits next to Jon on the couch watching sports.

Ro: Ok, Daddy, you got to watch what you wanted to watch. Now it's my turn to watch what I want to watch.
Jon: [obeys her command]

The main thing I don't want to put upon her is my hangup that she doesn't like me. I mean, she loves me; I'm her mother. But 10 out of 10 times she prefers her dad, who is a special combination of the sun, moon AND stars for her.

Mommy is B team, only needed when A team is unavailable. And Jon is a good dad, so he's seldom unavailable. I have theories--most of them stem from the fact that after I delivered her, I was so incapacitated for so long by the separated pelvis that all I could do was lie in bed and have her brought to me to nurse. Jon pretty much did everything else--the rocking, the singing, the changing, the bathing. My mother was here every day, to take care of her own child. Daddy-daughter bond became so tight, there wasn't room for me. When I was finally be able to do things again, I found myself in another high-risk pregnancy, leaning on Jon to handle her by himself again.

During this last pregnancy, I found myself saying, "This one is going to be mine." Maybe it's because Daddy is so busy with big sister, but so far, that looks to be true. 

Everything will even out in the end.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

she's three

Last year we did a party at the Pump It Up jumping place. It was divine, even though I was a bit overwhelmed as it was happening. My mother wasn't impressed and asked if we were going to do that again, with the underlying tone of "you're totally copping out on this party." Um, YES AND YES. On what planet are two sleep-deprived people going to have it together to execute a real party without underpaid teenagers running a very limited-time show?

Guess what? Ro LOVED it. She actually participated this year, instead of running away from any area populated by other humans, or demanding to be held by her father at all times (like last year). She had a fantastic time, and passed out in the car on the way home. She refuses to remove her paper wristband. And the whole thing was over in two hours. We are going to have one of these until she's 18 and can plan her own damn party.

Friday, November 03, 2017

there is no time like the last minute

Here's a list of books I've read since being on light-duty/bedrest and maternity leave, in reverse order:
I'm a bit ashamed to write out this list in a room that has a bookshelf holding at least 10 titles I'd like to read. Which is across the hall from a room that houses a nightstand stacked with another five books I'd like to read first.

Because I'm so stubborn, I refuse to start anything until I've finished The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks--which is so well written/reported and interesting. But I've been trying to read it since 2015 and keep having to re-start because my kid thinks it's funny to remove my bookmarks and throw them in the hamper. How long can you go without reading a book before they take away your bibliophile card? 

I read somewhere that the amount of FaceBook content people read would equate to about 200 books a year. Because I don't really sleep and I can hold my phone and a baby at the same time without waking my husband, I would guess my number of equivalent books is probably close to 500. Apparently multiple people have reported that they come to my page to find out what's going on because they like my amalgam of posts. That's curious, because I don't really post about myself or my family and don't post photos of my kids. I only repost things I find interesting and news from reputable sources. I'm probably using the same muscle I toned with this blog for a decade. 

Writing this out made me sad. Perhaps, starting Monday, I need to institute a break from tv during the day. I have 10 weekdays left on maternity. The least I can do is find out what the heck happened with HeLa.

Thursday, November 02, 2017


I'm on maternity leave until November 20. Every day, I feed, change and snuggle the baby, let him look deep into my soul and hope he approves of what he sees there, then I look at the clock and realize it's 4 pm and I didn't get anything on my dream list accomplished.


The television. Good gravy, do I love television. And FaceBook. And podcasts. All things I can (mostly) do while letting a 10-week old evaluate the contents of my character.

Here is what I have been bingewatching since being on light-duty/bedrest and maternity leave, in reverse order:

  • The Time In Between (El Tiempo Entre Costuras)
  • Blackish
  • Fresh Off the Boat
  • The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  • The Newsroom
  • The West Wing
  • The Great British Baking Show
  • The Good Place
  • Sherlock
  • The Crown
  • Friends from College (I don't know if it's because these people are my age, but I HATED this one, even though I watched all of it.)
  • The Get Down
  • Orange Is the New Black
  • Master of None
  • Bloodline (I gave up on season 2 because it was just too slow and brooding.)
  • Dear White People
  • Anne with an E
  • Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Jon and I are snooty when it comes to tv, but we both watch stuff we wouldn't recommend to others. Sometimes I slog through stuff that I don't necessarily love just to see how it ends (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) and Jon is devoted to his "stories," which are just every single serialized superhero show out there.

In my defense, please see the third paragraph of this post. He's only going to let me snuggle him and let me watch what *I* want to watch for an extremely limited time. 

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

NaBloPoMo: it's been a long time

When you have kids, time seems like a handful of water you're trying to keep. There is so much that happens throughout the day that you wish you could record, preserve, save to cherish later. But it floats away, and the efforts you make to try to hang on to it often get in the way of enjoying it.

I've said this so many times here before, but I love this blog. I miss it terribly--mostly the community we had in 2005, where I'd spend the day thinking of something to post, then eagerly look forward to what people would say about it. Then go around and see what they'd had to say on theirs. I was mostly in love with my husband long before I had even shared a meal with him, all because of this. Unfortunately, like everything else, the supportive, amazing community couldn't last. So much other stuff took up time and it withered away into an antiquated fad. I came out a winner, as I got the husband, and now a beautiful family. But the nostalgic in me wishes she could come back here once in awhile, write something silly and connect with people as we once did.

Thinking about it, the comments were just a part of the appeal. Writing every day, looking around my life to try and find something worth remembering, taking stock of the world and documenting what was happening in real time, those are treasures you can't re-create. I've settled many a bet about when/how things happened by pulling up an old post. The daily gems about having to park downtown or how my biggest struggle was whether I'd get the next Netflix DVD in the mail on time? Looking back, that all seems laughably quaint when we're responsible for keeping two other people alive these days.

Jon turned 40 yesterday. He's reflecting on his life, contemplating what will happen afterward and wondering what it all means. And as I'm generally thinking a few years in the future half the time, I have been doing the same, for a while now. Burying a child tends to shake things into focus, a sharp view of all that isn't actually necessary; it's one that many people get through life not experiencing. Or maybe they do realize it, only when it's too late to change. I think I have my priorities straight, but it's so very hard to give everything worthwhile the time it deserves.

I'm not sure what I'm getting at. I'm rusty. I no longer have the hours I've spent on posts in the past. These muscles are stiff from disuse. But I've gotten up. I'm stretching them. Maybe I can run again.

Friday, April 21, 2017

twenty-two weeks

We did the math. Frankie and her siblings were born right around the time I got pregnant.

Madelyn was so excited, she was sending us photos even before she was even allowed to pick the dog up, after the requisite eight weeks. And after she brought Frankie home, I'd get cheery texts on Thursdays like, "Happy 15 weeks!"

Gray and white, Frankie is an Italian greyhoud with a tail that has so much wag that my two-and-a-half year old can't stop talking about it. In fact, Ro talks about her a lot when she's not around.

"Who's the most beeeyeeeaaauuuutiful dog in the world? FRANKIE DOG!"

I think the feeling was mutual. Frankie would bounce around from couch to floor to kitchen to couch to Ro, to dining room and back. The dog is taller than my kid when standing on two hind legs. Then she'd come to a rest--right on my growing belly. I swear, that dog knew I was growing a child earlier than almost anyone else. I always felt like she was saying hello to the son the rest of us have to wait until August to lay eyes on.

Having a dog-niece is the perfect situation for us. We are hardly home, either at work or at Nani's house, so it'd be unfair to keep any animal alone for so many hours. But Madelyn's dog could come and play, giving our kid the joys of having a pet without as much responsibility.

Madelyn tried to keep up with the dog's boundless energy with walks and nonstop playing at home. They were together 24/365--a perk of working from home. In fact, at 13 weeks (right after they put in the cerclage to keep my baby inside), Jon built Frankie a "doggie deck" so she could sit next to Madelyn's work desk, watch the happenings outside and nap in the sunlight. You know, re-energize for pushing boundaries. Like any growing child.

They'd come over on the weekend, chasing each other (and Ro) around the yard, catching the ball or Frisbee. But last time, a few weeks ago, Frankie found a way out through a gap in the fence. Madelyn chased and called her for a long time before bringing her back home. Madelyn was visibly weary and worried, just like any parent of a toddler I have ever known. Frankie just jumped around and played as if she hadn't given us a scare.

Tonight, Jon was taking the laundry to the washer when I heard him yell in a strange tone. I hobbled downstairs, not fast at all, but he wouldn't say what had been in that text message. He was dialing. I could hear Madelyn sobbing hysterically on the phone, and I only understood "Frankie. Hit by a car." Ro was prancing around us, sing-songing something about princesses. She heard the name and stopped to ask, "Is Frankie coming over?" Even though Madelyn said not to, Jon got in his car and drove to the city. I sat on the floor and cried. Ro gave me a hug, because "that's what makes people feel better when they are sad."

Ro realized something was wrong. Normally, it's rare that anyone but her father is allowed to do the bedtime routine. But she let me rock her and hold her. I didn't let go until long after she fell asleep. All I could think about was the incident at the mall. Ro and I had met a friend to play at a series of tubes, slides and climbing blocks semi-enclosed in the center of the mall. Everything was going fine until I saw my usually shy toddler smile at at me, turn and bolt away at top speed, right out of the entrance to the enclosure. I don't walk very well right now, let alone run, so I couldn't possibly catch her. Ro got about 15 stores away from her bellowing mother and almost turned the corner before she decided to stop. I cannot describe the pure terror that rocked me to the core.

So I have an idea how Madelyn may have felt when Frankie squirmed away from her efforts to put on the leash at the park, eluding her for 20 minutes before running right into the street. It's something she has never done before, and will never get the chance to do again. My heart breaks for Madelyn. And my heart aches for my child, who will likely not stop asking about Frankie for a very, very long time to come. Rest in peace, Frankie. I wish we had more time.