Things About Me

1. Cooking is my art. Baking is my yoga.
2. I am really sick of changing diapers.
3. I originally planned to study Women’s Ministries in college, but switched to English/Communications after loving my speech and writing classes so much.
4. The best books I read in 2011 was A Million Miles in a Thousand Years and Velva Jean Learns to Drive. 2012 ain’t I over so no verdict yet.
5. My sister is certain I exist because God heard her fervent prayers for a baby sister. I believe her.
6. I met my husband on match.com and we knew we were meant to be together after just a month of dating. Thanks for the Internet Al Gore!
7. I eat a lot of hard boiled eggs because I am on a quest to achieve MILF status. Sometimes just the white. How’s that for dedication?
8. My favorite color is apple green. But I also love yellow, cobalt, Kelly green, peacock teal . . . I need a 12 step program for my color obsession.
9. I wore maternity leggings today. My baby is 19 months old. And there was also a giant hole in the right inner thigh.

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Choosing the choices we choose.

It is 8:00 pm.

I have, like, a thousand things I need to do. But I can’t do a thousand things. I am one person, with three hours (okay, four) until bedtime, wet hair, four functioning brain cells and a Modern Family I haven’t watched.

Do I sweep and mop my floors? Cause they are covered in playground sand and mashed sweet potato gunk?

Do I write for my clients so I can succeed in my business?

Do I spend an hour in the kitchen boiling eggs, chopping veggies and brewing green tea so I can actually stick to my weight loss plan this time?

Do I say Eff it! and watch Jeopardy and Modern Family and Jon Stewart while reading my bloggies and scrolling through Pinterest?

Do I write a meaningless blog post about how I feel about this in hopes that an answer will make itself known?

Seriously, what do I choose tonight? My home? My career? My health? My sanity? I can only choose one. That sucks.

Felice Cumpleaños Tia

I basically wanted to post this merely so I could finally use the nifty little iPhone/iPad trick of holding down a letter until it gives you options for various accents.

För êxåmpłè. Į lōvė ÿøú.

Cool, huh?

¡Vivá Mexico!

Tia Belen had a fiesta for her birthday. I was going to dress Charlie in a poncho y sombrero, but I bought THIS fabric for his outfit:

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I got home and was like, This isn’t Southwestern. It’s super African. so I gave up on my grand ideas (I mean, it would have looked like a dashiki. No worries, I’ll save it for Kwanza.)

Even though Aaron couldn’t attend because he was traveling to Atlanta for work, we had a nice afternoon. Charlie was totally into his heritage and it made me feel even whiter than usual.

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On Being a “Good Girl”

I beamed with pride when Aaron and I attended the premiere of the documentary More Business of Being Born. My husband, Aaron, worked as the graphic designer for the film. His name was even on the poster, people! That is a big deal in my book.

The portion of the four-DVD set that they showed at the premier was a collection of interviews with celebrities talking about their birth stories, all that started with a goal to keep birth as natural and intervention-free as possible. I am not one of those people who will play the victim and say something along the lines of, “They make me feel like a horrible mother because I got an epidural.” I hate that attitude. As Elenaor Roosevelt put it, nobody can make you feel bad without your consent. So get over it.

I don’t feel judged or guilty or ashamed that my hopes for a natural birth did not come true. I don’t necessarily regret the cervidil, pitocin, benedryl, morphine, AROM (artificial rupture of membranes), internal fetal monitoring, epidural or vacuum assistance. That’s EIGHT interventions I had hoped to avoid. But guess what? I avoided the biggest intervention of all – surgery!

What I DO regret was not sticking up for myself enough. I knew Charlie wasn’t ready to be born yet. But I was at 41 weeks and the doctor said it was time to drag that little brat out (my words, not his). I suggested that we wait a few more days and continue with non-stress tests to be safe but Doc was throwing around the word “stillbirth.” I basically undermined him to give myself just two more days by calling up the nurses in labor and delivery and rescheduling my induction. But WAS I undermining him? No, I was trying to take care of myself and my baby.

It was a hard decision to make and I don’t beat myself up for going forth with the induction. How can one know what is ahead? How could I know exactly the risk I was taking by waiting a few more days?

At the end of our childbirth class a couple came in to share their story of natural birth. Everything sounded incredible. Hard and painful, but do-able. The mom, whom I had an instant girl-crush on, ended her birth story with “so go out there and kick ass at giving birth!” I tried to carry this attitude with me as the doctor applied the cervidil to my lazy, barely-dilated cervix.

I was supposed to sleep for 12 hours while the Cervidil negotiated with my cervix to get things going for pete’s sake.

Ha. I am a chronic, lifelong insomniac. When a mother of a toddler complains that “Little Ava still isn’t sleeping through the night,” my mom responds with, “My 28-year-old still isn’t sleeping through the night.”

And yet I wated until 3:00 am to meekly ask, “Ummm . . . so is there like still a doctor here? Ummm . . . could she like, maybe, prescribe me something to help me sleep? Or is that, like, ummm, you know . . . not allowed?”

I was afraid of embarrassing myself. That I was asking something stupid, or something that would illicit a response about “standard procedure.” Is that the lamest thing you’ve ever heard? I mean, if I wanted an almost-natural birth, the one unnatural thing I would need first was one big-ass sleeping pill to knock me the hell out, so I could get some decent rest before the marathon of my life. Despite the hours and hours of practicing the Bradley method of extreme relaxation, I just could not sleep. Plus, I started getting some major cramps and nausea.

The longer I labored, the more I gave up my power. At first I would state my point, like, “Perhaps we should keep the pitocin on this low dose. I know it may take longer, but maybe my body won’t need so much to get labor doing. . . Oh? That’s not a good idea? Oh, okay.” But as I became more and more worn down from the nearly 30 hours of artificial labor, I didn’t even bother to ask. While pushing they had me in a decent pushing position, not supine, but maybe not as vertical as I wanted. I kept practicing saying it in my head, “Could I sit up just a bit more?” But I never said it. Charlie’s heart rate was dropping and so we tried me on my side. That sort of helped, but pushing wasn’t as effective. Of course I had the epidural, so I couldn’t try to many positions, but I remembered a friend’s post on her blog about giving birth. She was in the same scenario, but her nurses put her in a “throne” position, which looked silly but completely regulated the baby’s heart rate and, since it was quite vertical, seems rather ideal for pushing.

Why didn’t I ask? Yes, maybe the response would have been a snotty don’t-you-think-I-know-the-best-position-since-I-do-this-all-day-long response. But probably not. And so what if that was the response? Why do I have to care so much what people think of me?

Lots of women have this problem. Hello! We get a bad haircut and say, “Gee golly! It’s just fabulous! Thanks Mauricio! Love it!” Then we give him a huge tip and cry in our car for an hour. Oh, and we keep going back. Because HOW can we break up with Mauricio?

Being a good girl sure has its drawbacks, from the hair salon to the birthing room, and many far more tragic scenarios. I want to raise my children to be polite, yes. But I want them to be a little badass too. I want them to stand up for themselves against authority, and even more so, stand up for the weak and helpless. This was the way of Jesus – kind and compassionate and not a jerk, but bold and brazen and “Just try me, man. Go ahead, make my day.” If only I learned the truth in Sunday School, then maybe I would have a little more ‘tude mixed in with my Mary Sunshine.

The Tales of my Ta-tas, Part 1

Breastfeeding sucks. No, literally. It involves lots and lots of sucking. But actually? Breastfeeding is awesome.

It’s like this cozy little love and food-fest. I always knew I wanted to breastfeed. I studied up on all the essentials, even before I was pregnant. The subject just fascinated me, in the way that sex, alcohol and Manhattan fascinated me before I got to engage them firsthand. Know what I mean? Everyone describes their experiences, but you just know, deep down, that these things have to be experienced to understand.

Charlie nursed about thirty minutes after he was born. He took to the whole thing like it was old hat, despite his severe tongue tie.

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My milk came in about 24 hours later, which is like super fast. I have never, in real life, seen such huge boobs. I mean, they were booooooobs. Besides the stretch marks everywhere and flabby tummy, I could have passed for an adult film star. My mom and Aaron must have made 37 or so trips to Target buying and exchanging giant nursing bras. The lactation consultants advised me not to buy bras for two weeks, as my size could change either way. (And yes, I prayed fervently for smaller. Not sure what Aaron prayed for.) But my boobies were so burdensome, I had to hold them with both hands whenever braless!

We spent the first few days at home dealing with engorgement, latch problems and a newborn with gas issues rivaling a trucker. It was hard. I got a nipple shield and pumped a few bottles (both things you aren’t really supposed to do, by the way.)

Five days after giving birth, we returned to the hospital, where I met again with the lactation know-it-all. When I took my top off, she called all her colleagues over. They pointed, oohed and ahhed, furrowed their brows, took pictures, called the press. I think a janitor looked on, giving his feedback.

And when they saw Charlie’s tongue tie? Same bowled over response.

And yet, in spite of our obstacles, he took in three ounces in seven minutes. Booya! Or should I say boobya? Also? Most babies lose a little weight in the first couple of days. Not Charlie. He had gained almost a pound. The nurses and doctor must have asked me five times if I had supplemented with formula? I don’t think they believed me.

“You’re going to have one of THOSE babies, ” the consultant told me. “All we gotta do is get your supply down a bit and snip that frenulum of his . . . And you will have a very happy baby who sleeps all night.” I made her swear on a stack of La Leche League books that my life would improve dramatically in a few weeks.

And it did. Thank God.

(But don’t worry. Things aren’t so perfect in Part II)

Open wide!

Truthfully, it took about 14 weeks before he cracked my heart wide open. It is the wrong thing for a mom to say. The following scenarios are the appropriate times to fall in love with your offspring:

- two pink lines on the pee stick
- the tiny little heartbeat on the fuzzy gray ultrasound screen
- the first kick
- the moment the doctor places a goopy, pink, wrinkly little body onto your chest

These were all powerful moments for me too.

I especially remember my first trimester screening at the fetal specialist’s office. He had a much fancier ultrasound machine than my regular doc. I saw eyelids and a nose and I heard a heartbeat.

In the elevator ride after, I showed off my ultrasound picture to an elderly couple.

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“The doctor thinks its a boy,” I told them, weepily. Proudly.

But my heart only popped open a little.

And after my exhausting birth, yes, I loved him, but I was just glad labor was finally over. There was no adrenaline rush or hormonal high.

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“Hello. I am your mom. Nice to meet you. Let’s get some sleep, shall we? We can get acquainted in the morning, right?”

Who knows what actually broke open my soul so all my love for Charlie could come gushing out? But when I went to visit my mom a few months ago, I started to feel it.

Someone at a party said to me, regarding having a baby, “Did you ever think you could love someone so much in an instant?”

Feeling both awkward and guilty, I replied simply with, “He’s just so sweet.” It was a yes or no question and I couldn’t say either. I fell in love with Charlie a little more slowly, maybe even cautiously. For once in my life, I chose to count my licks to the center of the Tootsie Pop, instead of just taking three licks and then, impatiently, a big bite.

But it feels so true this way. So right for us. My heart has been busted open.

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A New Name, Star Trek, Red Flats and a Celebration

Since I’ve been suffering from the blahs this week, I told myself to make today a Superday.

First of all, today is Charlie’s half-birthday! I can’t believe he’s six months!

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So , we actually GOT DRESSED. Oh, and Charlie cracks up when I say ropa. My rolled ‘R’ is like a consonant on crack though. Rrrrrrrrrropa. We’ll have that kid speaking Spanglish like his father in no time.

We went to the Social Security office so I could officially change my last name. I brought 1,700 toys for Charlie and enough formula to last nine hours. Obviously I expected the worst, but the whole thing took no more than 20 minutes, tops. Charlie enjoyed his book while we waited.

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I, however, entertained myself with the amazing advertising campaign at the Social Security Office. It would seem, in an effort to target the Boomers now entering the age of receiving benefits , we have brought on George Takei and Patty Duke to persuade seniors to register for benefits online. Patty Duke is a great choice because she has a wholesome, all-American appeal. Takei, obviously, appeals to Asians, gays and nerds.

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After that we went to a locksmith so I could get a duplicate key for my apartment! Remember yesterday?

And then I couldn’t resist popping into my new favorite thrift store. Fancy Brentwood people donate stuff here so it has fabulous finds and it feels ver clean and orderly. Check out this cool hand-painted tray I nabbed for $8.

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And these adorable, new-looking shoes for $10.

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So I feel super productive. In fact, I feel so proud of my many accomplishments (I CHANGED my name for Pete’s sake! Did you change your name today? Don’t think so.), that I think I deserve a night off from cooking dinner. Pizza delivery it is.

Oopsies

Remember how my husband took me on a nice date last night? Remember how my sister-in-law babysat? Remember how I took my house key and garage key off my key ring so she could take the kiddo for a walk?

No? Me neither!

Which is why we got locked out of my apartment today. See, I am a scatterbrained human bean. I lose things like it is my job. Seriously, IS that a job? I would have a portfolio like Mark Zuckerberg if I was paid merely minimum wage for the hours I have spent looking for my (in order of life phases): Cabbage Patch doll Helga, jacket, lunch money, car keys, dining hall ID, wallet, purse, etc.

But I like to think I have made some major improvements in this area. For example, I have a little orange dish by my front door that I put my keys on ever single time I come home. Whenever I leave the house, I ask myself, as my mom probably said 342,678 times in my childhood, “What are we forgetting?” Before I take Charlie for a walk I go through a mental checklist: sunglasses, phone, ear buds, C’s hat, keys.

I went through that checklist this afternoon. Except that the keys I were carrying were essentially useless.

Thirty minutes later, Aaron let us in and then returned back to work. I was embarrassed for my absentmindedness (which he is accustomed to and seems to tolerate), but even more embarrassed for him to see our home in such a state of chaos. Like all good housewives/freelancers, I wait until the last possible moment of the day to put crap away, do dishes and whip up a hearty meal. So I was totally busted. It kind of sucked.

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The Housewife Gets Out of the House

I’ve been having some very cliche Housewife moments. Sick of the house, annoyed with the non-napping baby, bitching about the lack of funds for groceries, pondering the purpose of my domestic life . . . Et cetera, et cetera. You’ve heard it all before.

I tend to go through phases. For weeks I will start to wonder if Charlie may be happier in a colorful, fun, safe day care while I made the big bucks while wearing heels. I sneak peeks at the job listings on Craigslist and fantasize about showering on a regular basis.

Then Charlie starts sleeping like a champ or I get a big project done or we go out and we go on a weekday adventure to The Getty or farmer’s market and I’m all, “I looooove staying home with my baby! I never ever want to leave him for even five minutes. I have got this whole thing figured out. Aced it.”

This week is the latter though. The house is a complete freaking disaster and so am I. Imagine my utter embarrassment when my young, hip, beautiful, non-housewife sister-in-law Belen came by. And I was in my “workout clothes” (aka sweats), eating out of a can of Pringles, pumping my milk-deficient boobs and watching Jon & Kate Plus 8 on Netflix Instant View. (I have pretty much exhausted anything decent to watch on there . . . Okay?)

So after trying to make excuses for the state of my appearance and home (did I mention the floor was covered in toys, diapers, shoes, et all and the sink was full of dishes?), Belen announced, “Aaron told me to come over and babysit so he can take you on a date! Surprise!”

I took a shower and then tried to wash some dishes until Belen yelled at me. So I put on my tightest skinniest jeans (breathing is overrated!) and red lipstick. I picked up Aaron up at work and we went to Father’s Office in Culver City. It’s a fancy bar with old-fashioned cocktails and delicious eats.

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Iberco ham and cheese croquettes! Holy moly. Delicious.

Then we continued the classy night out with pie at a Marie Callender’s that hadn’t been redecorated since 1987. I spilled water and took a giant handful of root beer candies from the front counter. So I think we’ve been banned forever.

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This is Aaron dreaming about pie.

Anyway, I still feel like a lazy housewife. Tomorrow. Tomorrow I will actually be productive. Then again, I just discovered that Keeping up with the Kardashians is on Instant View. But if I’m pumping while I watch, then that’s productive, right? I mean, literally.

The Icing on the Cake

Aaron and I had gone back and forth for months over this whole when-to-have-a-baby thing. I had wept and whined and dialed up the dramatics.

“What if in a year I am barren? I’ll never forgive you for making me wait!”

I would spend hours scouring Craigslist looking for deals on cribs and slightly used Boppies. I haunted the online mommy forums. (The ladies on there are crazy-pants by the way. Which I love.) When walking anywhere I would imagine how it would feel to have a little baby in my arms.

In reality, I was only 26, had been married just 18 months, and my husband had only recently completed his Bachelor’s degree and was still working at his low-paying office job. So why did I think NOW was the ideal time to have a baby?

Because having a baby fixes everything! Right?

My job sucked. And despite having the greatest husband and friends, I was deeply unhappy.

Aaron made it clear that I needed to get over it. A baby will happen, maybe even in a year we can start trying. Somehow, in that last fight-turned-crying -jag-turned-meaningful discussion, he got through to me. I decided to make the most of that year ahead. Aaron got a great job in his field, so we would finally have a little extra income. I was going to work on finding a new job. I had made peace with this timetable.

Inspired by a friend, I put together a 30 Before 30 list. I filled it with decidedly non-mommy goals. I figured I had a year to live it up before getting knocked up.
- Lose 20 pounds
- Skydive
- Go to Europe
- Put on giant sunglasses and eat lunch at The Ivy and act real snobby
- Take a trip by myself
- Buy really fancy, uncomfortable shoes
- Go somewhere that I can wear said fancy shoes

I got excited about this list. The year ahead looked amazing. We planned to take our Europe vacation in Spring 2011 and then start the baby-making. Perfect!

But that list no longer exists. I deleted it from my iPhone the day I saw those two pink lines on the pee pee stick. Actually I saw 12 pink lines because I took six pregnancy tests.

I went about the usual pregnancy stuff with excitement, but wistful for the plans I had made. It’s all over, I secretly thought.
Six weeks after giving birth, I opened up a new note on my iPhone. 30 Before 30. A few of the old ambitions stuck around, but overall it was a new list. An I-may-be-a-mom-but-I-am-still-me List.

So I’ve got I-can’t-believe-I-am-almost-30 issues. I’ve got am-I-ready-to-be-a-mom? issues. And there’s career, Aaron and I had gone back and forth for months over this whole when-to-have-a-baby thing. I had wept and whined and dialed up the dramatics.

“What if in a year I am barren? I’ll never forgive you for making me wait!”

I would spend hours scouring Craigslist looking for deals on cribs and slightly used Boppies. I haunted the online mommy forums. (The ladies on there are crazy-pants by the way. Which I love.) When walking anywhere I would imagine how it would feel to have a little baby in my arms.

In reality, I was only 26, had been married just 18 months, and my husband had only recently completed his Bachelor’s degree and was still working at his low-paying office job. So why did I think NOW was the ideal time to have a baby?

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Because having a baby fixes everything! Right?

My job sucked. And despite having the greatest husband and friends, I was deeply unhappy.

Aaron made it clear that I needed to get over it. A baby will happen, maybe even in a year we can start trying. Somehow, in that last fight-turned-crying -jag-turned-meaningful discussion, he got through to me. I decided to make the most of that year ahead. Aaron got a great job in his field, so we would finally have a little extra income. I was going to work on finding a new job. I had made peace with this timetable.

Inspired by a friend, I put together a 30 Before 30 list. I filled it with decidedly non-mommy goals. I figured I had a year to live it up before getting knocked up.
- Lose 20 pounds
- Skydive
- Go to Europe
- Put on giant sunglasses and eat lunch at The Ivy and act real snobby
- Take a trip by myself
- Buy really fancy, uncomfortable shoes
- Go somewhere that I can wear said fancy shoes

I got excited about this list. The year ahead looked amazing. We planned to take our Europe vacation in Spring 2011 and then start the baby-making. Perfect!

But that list no longer exists. I deleted it from my iPhone the day I saw those two pink lines on the pee pee stick. Actually I saw 12 pink lines because I took six pregnancy tests.

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I went about the usual pregnancy stuff with excitement, but wistful for the plans I had made. It’s all over, I secretly thought.

Six weeks after giving birth, I opened up a new note on my iPhone. 30 Before 30. A few of the old ambitions stuck around, but overall it was a new list. An I-may-be-a-mom-but-I-am-still-me List.

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So I’ve got I-can’t-believe-I-am-almost-30 issues. I’ve got am-I-ready-to-be-a-mom? issues. And there’s career, faith, marriage, life purpose type stuff all immeshed with the other stuff. But I relize things are going pretty well for me right now. I want to keep working on the “big picture” things in life, but I also want to enjoy the sweet extras this amazing life has to offer. You know, the icing on the cake.

So this blog is to chronicle my adventures, experiences and musing as I try to build a chocolate seven-layer life, all slathered up in icing.

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